The rain increases, what are we to do? Outside, djins pass rapidly by, calling out: “Take care!” splashing the foot-passengers and casting through the shower streams of light from their many-colored lanterns. Mousmes and elderly ladies pass by, tucked up, muddy, laughing nevertheless, under their paper umbrellas, exchanging greetings, clacking their wooden pattens on the stone pavement; the whole street is filled with the noise of the pattering feet and pattering rain.
As good luck will have it, at the same moment passes 415, our poor relative, who, seeing our distress, stops and promises to help us out of our difficulty; as soon as he has deposited on the quay an Englishman he is conveying, he will come to our aid and bring all that is necessary to relieve us from our lamentable situation.
At last our lantern is unhooked, lighted, and paid for. There is another shop opposite, where we stop every evening; it is Madame L’Heure’s,[F] the woman who sells waffles; we always buy a provision from her, to refresh us on the way. A very lively young woman is this pastry-cook, and most anxious to make herself agreeable; she looks quite like a screen picture, behind her piled-up cakes, ornamented with little posies. We will take shelter under her roof while we wait; and, to avoid the drops that fall heavily from the water-spouts, wedge ourselves tightly against her display of white and pink sweetmeats, so artistically spread out on fresh and delicate branches of cypress.
[Footnote F: In Japanese: Toki-San.]
Poor 415, what a providence he is to us! Already he re-appears, most excellent cousin, ever smiling, ever running, while the water streams down his handsome bare legs; he brings us two umbrellas, borrowed from a China merchant, who is also a distant relative of ours. Like me, Yves has till now never consented to use such a thing, but he now accepts one because it is droll: in paper, of course, with innumerable folds waxed and gummed, and the inevitable flight of storks forming a wreath all round.
Chrysantheme, yawning more and more in her kitten-like fashion, becomes coaxing in order to be helped along, and tries to take my arm:
“I beg you, mousme, this evening to take the arm of Yves-San; I am sure that will suit us all three.”
And there they go, she, tiny figure, hanging on to the big fellow, and so they climb up. I lead the way, carrying the lantern that lights our steps, and whose flame I protect as well as I can under my fantastic umbrella. On each side of the road is heard the roaring torrent of stormy waters rolling down from the mountain side. To-night the way seems long, difficult and slippery; a succession of interminable flights of steps, gardens and houses piled up one above another; waste lands, and trees which in the darkness shake their dripping foliage on our heads.
One would say that Nagasaki is ascending at the same time as ourselves; but yonder, and very far away, in a kind of vapory mist which seems luminous on the blackness of the sky; and from the town there rises a confused murmur of voices and rumbling of gongs and laughter.