But what a fearful amount of luggage! Eighteen cases or parcels, containing Buddhas, chimeras, and vases, without mentioning the last lotus that I carry away tied up in a pink cluster.
All this is piled up in the djins’ carts, hired at sunset, which are waiting at the door, while their runners lie asleep on the grass.
A starlit and exquisite night. We start off with lighted lanterns, followed by the three sorrowful ladies who accompany us, and by abrupt slopes, dangerous in the darkness, we descend towards the sea.
The djins, stiffening their muscular legs, hold back with all their might the heavily loaded little cars which would run down by themselves if let alone, and that so rapidly, that they would rush into empty space with my most valuable chattels. Chrysantheme walks by my side, and expresses, in a soft and winning manner, her regret that the wonderfully tall friend did not offer to replace me for the whole of my night-watch, as that would have allowed me to spend this last night, even till morning, under our roof.
“Listen,” she says, “come back to-morrow in the daytime, before getting under way, to bid me good-by; I shall only return to my mother in the evening; you will find me still up there.”
And I promise.
They stop at a certain turn, from whence we have a bird’s-eye view of the whole roadstead; the black stagnant waters reflect innumerable distant fires, and the ships—tiny immovable little objects, which seen from our point of view take the shape of fish, seem also to slumber,—little objects which serve to bear us elsewhere, to go far away, and to forget.
The three ladies are going to turn back home, for the night is already far advanced, and lower down, the cosmopolitan quarters near the quays are not safe at this unusual hour.
The moment has therefore come for Yves—who will not land again—to make his last tragic farewells to his friends the little mousmes.
Now I am very curious to see the parting between Yves and Chrysantheme; I listen with all my ears, I look with all my eyes, it takes place in the simplest and quietest fashion: none of that heartbreaking which will be inevitable between Madame Prune and myself; I even notice in my mousme an indifference, an unconcern which puzzles me; I positively am at a loss to understand what it all means.
And I muse to myself as I continue to descend towards the sea. “Her appearance of sadness was not, therefore, on Yves’ account. On whose, then?” and the phrase runs through my head:
“Come back to-morrow before setting sail, to bid me good-by; I shall only return to my mother in the evening; you will find me still up there.”
Japan is indeed most delightful this evening, so fresh and so sweet; and little Chrysantheme was very charming just now, as she silently walked beside me through the darkness of the lane.
It is about two o’clock when we reach the Triomphante in a hired sampan, where I have heaped up all my cases till there is danger of sinking. The very tall friend gives over to me the watch that I must keep till four o’clock; and the sailors on duty, but half awake, make a chain in the darkness, to haul on board all my fragile luggage.