From the deck I can see him through the glasses, climbing up the green mountain path; he walks with a brisk, rapid step, almost running; what a hurry he seems in to rejoin little Chrysantheme.
When I arrive, at about nine o’clock, I find him seated on the floor, in the middle of my rooms, with naked torso (this is here a sufficiently proper costume for private life, I admit). Around him are grouped Chrysantheme, Oyouki, and Mdlle. Dede the maid, all eagerly rubbing his back with little blue towels decorated with storks and humorous subjects.
Good heavens, what can he have been doing to be so hot, and have put himself in such a state?
He tells me that near our house, a little higher up the mountain, he has discovered a fencing gallery: that till nightfall he had been engaged in a fencing bout against Japanese, who fought with two-handed swords, springing like cats, as is the custom of their country. With his French method of fencing he had given them a thorough good drubbing. Upon which, with many a low bow, they had shown him their admiration by bringing him a quantity of nice little iced things to drink. All this combined had thrown him into a fearful perspiration.
Ah, very well. Nevertheless this did not quite explain to me.
He is delighted with his evening; intends to go and amuse himself every day by beating them; he even thinks of taking pupils.
Once his back dried, they all together, the three mousmes and himself, play at Japanese “pigeon vole.” Really I could not wish for anything more innocent, or more correct in every respect.
Charles N—— and Madame Jonquille his wife, arrived unexpectedly at about ten o’clock. (They were wandering about in the dark shrubberies in our neighborhood, and, seeing our lights, came up to us.)
They intend to finish the evening at the tea-house “of the Toads,” and they try to induce us to go and drink some iced sherbets with them. It is at least an hour’s walk from here, on the other side of the town, half way up the hill, in the gardens of the large pagoda dedicated to Osueva; but they stick to their idea, pretending that in this clear night and bright moonlight, we shall have a lovely view from the terrace of the temple.
Lovely, I have no doubt, but we had intended going to bed. However, be it so, let us go with them.
We hire five djins and five cars down below, in the principal street, in front of Madame Tres-Propre’s shop, who, for this late expedition, chooses for us her largest round lanterns,—big, red balloons, decorated with star-fish, seaweed, and green sharks.
It is nearly eleven o’clock when we make our start. In the central quarters the virtuous Niponese are already closing their little booths, putting out their lamps, shutting the wooden framework, drawing their paper panels.