My mother-in-law seems to be really a very nice woman, and were it not for the insurmountable feeling of spleen the sight of her garden produces on me, I would often go and see her. She has nothing in common with the mammas of Jonquille, Campanule or Touki: she is vastly their superior; and then I can see that she has been very good-looking and stylish. Her past life puzzles me; but in my position as a son-in-law, good manners prevent my making further inquiries.
Some assert that she was formerly a celebrated guecha in Yeddo, who lost public favor by her folly in becoming a mother. This would account for her daughter’s talent on the guitar; she had probably herself taught her the touch and style of the Conservatory.
Since the birth of Chrysantheme (her eldest child and first cause of this loss of favor), my mother-in-law, an expansive although distinguished nature, has fallen seven times into the same fatal error, and I have two little sisters-in-law: Mdlle. La Neige,[G] and Mdlle. La Lune,[H] as well as five little brothers-in-law: Cerisier, Pigeon, Liseron, Or, and Bambou.
[Footnote G: In Japanese: Oyouki-San (like Madame Prune’s daughter).]
[Footnote H: In Japanese: Tsouki-San.]
Little Bambou is four years old,—a yellow baby, fat and round all over, with fine bright eyes; coaxing and jolly, sleeping whenever he is not laughing. Of all my Niponese family, Bambou is the one I love the most.
Tuesday, August 27th.
We have spent the day,—Yves, Chrysantheme, Oyouki and myself,—wandering through dark and dusty nooks, dragged hither and thither by four quick-footed djins, in search of antiquities in the bric-a-brac shops.
Towards sunset, Chrysantheme, who has wearied me more than ever since the morning, and who doubtless has perceived it, pulls a very long face, declares herself ill, and begs leave to spend the night at her mother’s, Madame Renoncule.
I agree to this with the best grace in the world; let her go, tiresome little mousme! Oyouki will carry a message to her parents, who will shut up our rooms; we shall spend the evening, Yves and I, in roaming about as fancy takes us, without any mousme dragging at our heels, and shall afterwards regain our own quarters on board the Triomphante, without having the trouble of climbing up that hill.
First of all, we make an attempt to dine together in some fashionable tea-house. Impossible, there is not a place to be had; all the absurd paper rooms, all the compartments contrived by so many ingenious dodges of slipping and sliding panels, all the nooks and corners in the little gardens are filled with Japanese men and women eating impossible and incredible little dishes! numberless young dandies are dining tete-a-tete with the lady of their choice, and sounds of dancing girls and music issue from the private rooms.