Ah! happy thought! she has discovered what is tormenting him:
“Ka!” (mosquitoes) she says.
And, to impress the more forcibly her meaning on my mind, she pinches my arm so hard with her little pointed nails, at the same time imitating, with such an amusing play of her features, the grimace of a person who is stung, that I exclaim—
“Oh! stop, Chrysantheme, this pantomime is too expressive, and indeed useless! I know the word Ka, and had quite understood, I assure you.”
It is done so drolly and so quickly, with such a pretty pout, that in truth I cannot think of being angry, although I shall certainly have to-morrow a blue mark on my arm; about that there is no doubt.
“Come, we must get up and go to Yves’ rescue; he cannot be allowed to go on thumping in that manner. Let us take a lantern, and see what has happened.”
It was indeed the mosquitoes. They are hovering in a thick cloud about him; those of the house and those of the garden all seem collected together, swarming and buzzing. Chrysantheme indignantly burns several at the flame of her lantern, and shows me others: “Hou!” covering the white paper walls.
He, tired out with his day’s amusement, sleeps on; but his slumbers are restless, as can be easily imagined. Chrysantheme gives him a shake, wishing him to get up and share our blue mosquito net.
After a little pressing he does as he is bid and follows us, looking like an overgrown boy only half awake. I make no objection to this singular hospitality; after all, it looks so little like a bed, the matting we are to share, and we sleep in our clothes, as we always do according to the Niponese fashion. After all, on a journey in a railway, do not the most estimable ladies stretch themselves without demur by the side of gentlemen unknown to them?
I have however placed Chrysantheme’s little wooden block in the center of the gauze tent, between our two pillows.
Then, without saying a word, in a dignified manner as though she were rectifying an error of etiquette that I had inadvertently committed, Chrysantheme takes up her piece of wood, putting in its place my snake-skin drum; I shall therefore be in the middle between the two. It is really more correct, decidedly much more proper; Chrysantheme is evidently a very decorous young person.
Returning on board next morning, in the clear morning sun, we walk through pathways full of dew; accompanied by a band of funny little mousmes of six or eight years of age, who are going off to school.
Needless to say that the cicalas around us keep up their perpetual sonorous chirping. The mountain smells delicious. The atmosphere, the dawning day, the infantine grace of these little girls in their long frocks and shiny chignons, all is redundant with freshness and youth. The flowers and grasses on which we tread sparkle with dewdrops, exhaling a perfume of freshness. What undying beauty there is, even in Japan, in the first fresh morning hours in the country, and the dawning hours of life!