M. Kangourou relates, without seeing anything wrong in it whatever, that formerly this talent was of great service to M. Sucre. It appears that Madame Prune,—how shall I say such a thing, and who could guess it now, on beholding so devout and sedate an old lady, with eyebrows so scrupulously shaven!—however, it appears that Madame Prune used to receive a great many visits from gentlemen,—gentlemen who always came alone, and it led to some gossip. Therefore, when Madame Prune was engaged with one visitor, if a new arrival made his appearance, the ingenious husband, to make him wait patiently, and to while away the time in the ante-room, immediately offered to paint him some storks in a variety of attitudes.
And this is how, in Nagasaki, all the Japanese gentlemen of a certain age, have in their collections two or three of these little pictures, for which they are indebted to the delicate and original talent of M. Sucre.
Sunday, August 25th.
At about six o’clock, while I was on duty, the Triomphante left her prison walls between the mountains and came out of dock. After a great uproar of maneuvering we took up our old moorings in the roadstead, at the foot of the Diou-djen-dji hills. The weather was again calm and cloudless, the sky presenting a peculiar clearness as though it had been swept clean by the cyclone, an exceeding transparency bringing out the minutest details of the far distance till then unseen; as if the terrible blast had blown away every vestige of the floating mists and left behind it nothing but void and boundless space. The coloring of woods and mountains stood out again in the resplendent verdancy of spring after the torrents of rain, like the wet colors of some freshly washed painting. The sampans and junks, which for the last three days had been lying under shelter, had now put out to sea, and the bay was covered with their white sails, which looked like an immense flight of seabirds.
At eight o’clock, at nightfall, our maneuver being at an end, I embarked with Yves on board a sampan; this time it is he who is carrying me off and taking me back to my home.
On land, a delicious perfume of new-mown hay greets us, and the road across the mountains lies bathed in glorious moonlight. We go straight up to Diou-djen-dji to join Chrysantheme; I feel almost remorseful, although I hardly show it, for my neglect of her.
Looking up, I recognize from afar my little house, perched on high. It is wide open and lit up; I even hear the sound of guitar. Then I perceive the gilt head of my Buddha between: the little bright flames of its two hanging night lamps. Now Chrysantheme appears on the verandah, looking out as if she expected us; and with her wonderful bows of hair and long falling sleeves, her silhouette is thoroughly Niponese.
As I enter, she comes forward to kiss me, in a graceful, though rather hesitating manner, while Oyouki, more demonstrative, throws her arms around me.