They understand admirably that we want a thing that will make a noise, music in short; thereupon they offer us instruments of every and the most unexpected shape,—squeakers for Punch-and-Judy voices, dog-whistles, trumpets. Each time it is something more and more absurd, so that at last we are overcome with uncontrollable fits of laughter. Last of all, an aged Japanese optician, who assumes a most knowing air, a look of sublime wisdom, goes off to forage in his back shop, and brings to light a steam fog-horn, a relic from some wrecked steamer.
After dinner, the chief event of the evening is a deluge of rain which takes us by surprise as we leave the tea-houses, on our return from our fashionable stroll. It so happened that we were a large party, having with us several mousme guests, and from the moment that the rain began to fall from the skies, as if out of a watering-pot turned upside down, the band became disorganized. The mousmes run off, with birdlike cries, and take refuge under door-ways, in the shops, under the hoods of the djins.
Then, before long,—when the shops shut up in haste, when the emptied streets are flooded, and almost black, and the paper lanterns, piteous objects, wet through and extinguished,—I find myself, I know not how it happens, flattened against a wall, under the projecting eaves, alone in the company of Mdlle. Fraise, my cousin, who is crying bitterly because her fine dress is wet through. And in the noise of the rain, which is still falling and splashing everything; with the spouts and gutters, which in the darkness plaintively murmur like running streams, the town appears to me suddenly an abode of the gloomiest sadness.
The shower is soon over, and the mousmes come out of their holes like so many mice; they look for each other, call each other, and their little voices take the singular melancholy, dragging inflections they assume whenever they have to call from afar.
“Hi! Mdlle. Lu-u-u-u une!!”
“Hi! Madame Jonqui-i-i-i ille!!”
They shout from one to the other their outlandish names, prolonging them indefinitely in the now silent night, in the reverberations of the damp air after the great summer rain.
At length they are all collected and united again, these tiny personages with narrow eyes and no brains, and we return to Diou-djen-dji all wet through.
For the third time, we have Yves sleeping beside us under our blue tent.
There is a great row soon after midnight in the apartment beneath us: our landlord’s family returning from a pilgrimage to a far-distant temple of the Goddess of Grace. (Although Madame Prune is a Shintoist, she reveres this deity, who, scandal says, watched over her youth.) A moment after, Mdlle. Oyouki bursts into our room like a rocket, bringing, on a charming little tray, sweetmeats which have been blessed and bought at the gates of the temple yonder, on purpose for us, and which we must positively eat at once, before the virtue is gone out of them. Scarcely rousing ourselves, we absorb these little edibles flavored with sugar and pepper, and return a great many sleepy thanks.