His, indeed, is the only hand I clasp with a really friendly feeling, without a suppressed smile, on quitting this Japan.
No doubt, in this country as in many others, there is more honest friendship and less ugliness among the simple beings devoted to purely physical work.
At five o’clock in the afternoon we set sail.
Along the line of the shore are two or three sampans; in them the mousmes, shut up in the narrow cabins, peep at us through the tiny windows, half hiding their faces on account of the sailors; these are our wives, who have wished, out of politeness, to look upon us once more.
There are other sampans as well, in which other Japanese women are also watching our departure. These stand upright, under great parasols decorated with big black letters and daubed over with clouds of varied and startling colors.
We move slowly out of the great green bay. The groups of women become lost in the distance. The country of round and thousand-ribbed umbrellas fades gradually from our sight.
Now the great sea opens before us, immense, colorless, solitary; a solemn repose after so much that was too ingenious and too small.
The wooded mountains, the charming capes disappear. And Japan remains faithful to itself in its last picturesque rocks, its quaint islands on which the trees tastefully arrange themselves in groups—studied perhaps, but charmingly pretty.
In my cabin, one evening, in the midst of the Yellow Sea, my eyes chance to fall upon the lotus brought from Diou-djen-dji;—they had lasted for two or three days; but now they have faded, and pitifully strew my carpet with their pale pink petals.
I, who have carefully preserved so many faded flowers, fallen, alas! into dust, stolen here and there, at moments of parting in different parts of the world; I who have kept so many, that the collection is now almost a herbarium, ridiculous and incoherent—I try hard, but without success, to get up a sentiment for these lotus—and yet they are the last living souvenirs of my summer at Nagasaki.
I pick them up, however, with a certain amount of consideration, and I open my port-hole.
From the gray misty sky a livid light falls upon the waters; a wan and gloomy kind of twilight creeps down, yellowish upon this Yellow Sea. We feel that we are moving northwards, that autumn is approaching.
I throw the poor lotus into the boundless waste of waters, making them my best excuses for giving to them, natives of Japan, a grave so solemn and so vast.
O Ama-Terace-Omi-Kami, wash me clean from this little marriage of mine, in the waters of the river of Kamo.