However, let her sit down between Yves and myself: and let them bring her those iced beans she loves so much; and we will take the jolly little mousko on our knees and cram him with sugar and sweetness to his heart’s content.
* * * * *
The evening over, when we begin to think of leaving, and of going down again, Chrysantheme replaces her little Bambou astride upon her back, and sets forth, bending forward under his weight and painfully dragging her Cinderella slippers over the granite steps and flagstones. Yes, decidedly low this conduct! but low in the best sense of the word: nothing in it displeases me; I even consider Chrysantheme’s affection for Bambou-San engaging and attractive in its simplicity.
One cannot deny this merit to the Japanese,—a great love for little children, and a talent for amusing them, for making them laugh, inventing comical toys for them, making the morning of their life happy; for a specialty in dressing them, arranging their heads, and giving to the whole little personage the most diverting appearance possible. It is the only thing I really like about this country: the babies and the manner in which they are understood.
* * * * *
On our way we meet our married friends of the Triomphante, who, much surprised at seeing me with this mousko, chaffingly exclaim:
“What! a son already?”
Down in the town, we make a point of bidding good-by to Chrysantheme at the turning of the street where her mother lives. She smiles undecided, declares herself well again, and begs to return to our house on the heights. This did not precisely enter into my plans, I confess. However, it would look very ungracious to refuse.
So be it! But we must carry the mousko home to his mamma, and then begin, by the flickering light of a new lantern bought afresh from Madame Tres-Propre, our weary homeward ascent.
Here, however, we find ourselves in another predicament: this ridiculous little Bambou insists upon coming with us! No, he will take no denial, we must take him with us. This is out of all reason, quite impossible!
However, it will not do to make him cry, on the night of a great festival too, poor little mousko. So we must send a message to Madame Renoncule, that she may not be uneasy about him, and as there will soon not be a living creature on the footpaths of Diou-djen-dji to laugh at us, we will take it in turn, Yves and I, to carry him on our back, all the way up that climb in the darkness.
* * * * *
And here am I, who did not wish to return this way to-night, dragging a mousme by the hand, actually carrying an extra burden in the shape of a mousko on my back. What an irony of fate!
As I had expected, all our shutters and doors are closed, bolted and barred; no one expects us, and we have to make a prodigious noise at the door. Chrysantheme sets to work and calls with all her might: