At length it is finished, and the tattooers, falling back with an air of satisfaction to contemplate their work, declare it will be lovely.
I dress myself quickly to go on shore, and take advantage of my last hours in Japan.
The heat is fearful to-day: the powerful September sun falls with a certain melancholy upon the yellowing leaves; it is a day of clear burning heat after an almost chilly morning.
Like yesterday, it is during the drowsy noon that I ascend to my lofty suburb, by deserted pathways filled only with light and silence.
I noiselessly open the door of my dwelling, and enter cautiously on tiptoe, for fear of Madame Prune.
At the foot of the staircase, upon the white mats, by the side of the little clogs and little sandals which are always lying about the vestibule, there is a great array of luggage ready for departure, which I recognize at a glance,—pretty dark-colored dresses, familiar to my sight, carefully folded and wrapped in blue towels tied at the four corners. I even fancy I feel a little sad when I catch sight of a corner of the famous box of letters and souvenirs peeping out of one of these bundles, in which ray portrait by Uyeno now reposes among divers photographs of mousmes. A sort of long-necked mandolin, also ready for departure, lies on the top of the pile in its case of figured silk. It resembles the flitting of some gypsy, or rather it reminds me of an engraving in a book of fables I owned in my childhood: the whole thing is exactly like the slender wardrobe and the long guitar which the Cicala who had sung all the summer, carried upon her back when she knocked at the door of her neighbor the ant.
Poor little gypsy!
I mount the stairs on tiptoe, and stop at the sound of singing that I hear up in my room.
It is undoubtedly Chrysantheme’s voice and the song is a cheerful one! This chills me and changes the current of my thoughts. I am almost sorry I have taken the trouble to come.
Mingled with the song is a noise I cannot understand: dzinn! dzinn! a clear metallic ring as of coins being flung vigorously on the floor. I am well aware that this vibrating house exaggerates every sound during the silence of night; but all the same, I am puzzled to know what my mousme can be doing. Dzinn! dzinn! is she amusing herself with quoits, or the jeu du crapaud, or pitch and toss?
Nothing of the kind; I fancy I have guessed, and I continue my upward progress still more gently, on all fours, with the precautions of a Red Indian, to give myself for the last time the pleasure of surprising her.
She has not heard me come in. In our great white room, emptied and swept out, where the clear sunshine pours in, and the soft wind, and the yellowed leaves of the garden; she is sitting all alone, her back turned to the door: she is dressed for walking, ready to go to her mother’s, her rose-colored parasol beside her.