Seen from such heights as these, all the countries of the globe bear a strong resemblance to each other; they lose the imprint made upon them by man, and by races; by all the atoms swarming on the surface.
As of old, in the Breton marshes, in the woods of Toulven, or at sea in the night-watches, we talk of all those things to which thoughts naturally revert in darkness; of ghosts, of spirits, of eternity, of the great hereafter, of chaos—and we entirely forget little Chrysantheme!
When we arrive at Diou-djen-dji in the starry night, it is the music of her chamecen, heard from afar, which recalls to us her existence; she is studying some vocal duet with Mdlle. Oyouki, her pupil.
I feel myself in very good humor this evening, and, relieved from any absurd suspicions about my poor Yves, am quite disposed to enjoy without reserve my last days in Japan, and derive therefrom all the amusement possible.
Let us then stretch ourselves out on the dazzling white mats, and listen to the singular duet sung by these two mousmes: a strange musical medley, slow and mournful, beginning with two or three high notes, and descending at each couplet, in almost an imperceptible manner, into actual solemnity. The song keeps its dragging slowness; but the accompaniment becoming more and more accentuated, is like the impetuous sound of a far-off hurricane. At the end, when these girlish voices, generally so soft, give out their hoarse and guttural notes, Chrysantheme’s hands fly wildly and convulsively over the quivering strings. Both of them lower their heads, pout their under-lips in the effort of bringing out these astonishingly deep notes. And at these moments, their little narrow eyes open and seem to reveal an unexpected something, almost a soul, under these trappings of marionnettes.
But it is a soul which more than ever appears to me of a different species to my own; I feel my thoughts to be far removed from theirs, as from the flitting conceptions of a bird, or the dreams of a monkey; I feel there is betwixt them and myself a great gulf, mysterious and awful.
Other sounds of music, wafted to us from the distance outside, interrupt for a moment that of our mousmes. From the depths below, down in Nagasaki, arises a sudden noise of gongs and guitars; we rush to the balcony of the verandah to hear it better.
It is a matsouri, a fete, a procession passing through the quarter which is not so virtuous as our own, so our mousmes tell us, with a disdainful toss of the head. Nevertheless, from the heights on which we dwell, seen thus in a bird’s-eye view, by the uncertain light of the stars, this district has a singularly chaste air, and the concert going on therein, purified in its ascent from the depths of the abyss to our lofty altitudes, reaches us confusedly, a smothered, enchanted, enchanting sound.
Then it diminishes, and dies away into silence.