“It can be arranged, Monsieur!” repeats Kangourou again, who at this moment appears to me a go-between of the lowest type, a rascal of the meanest kind.
Only, he adds, we, Yves and I, are in the way during the negotiations. And, while Mademoiselle Chrysantheme remains with her eyelids lowered, as befits the occasion, while the various families, on whose countenances may be read every degree of astonishment, every phase of expectation, remain seated in a circle on my white mats, he sends us two into the veranda, and we gaze down into the depths below us, upon a misty and vague Nagasaki, a Nagasaki melting into a blue haze of darkness.
Then ensue long discourses in Japanese, arguments without end. M. Kangourou, who is laundryman and low scamp in French only, has returned for these discussions to the long formulas of his country. From time to time I express impatience, I ask this worthy creature, whom I am less and less able to consider in a serious light:
“Come now, tell us frankly, Kangourou, are we any nearer coming to some arrangement? Is all this ever going to end?”
“In a moment, Monsieur, in a moment;” and he resumes his air of political economist seriously debating social problems.
Well, one must submit to the slowness of this people. And, while the darkness falls like a veil over the Japanese town, I have leisure to reflect, with as much melancholy as I please, upon the bargain that is being concluded behind me.
Night has closed in; it has been necessary to light the lamps.
It is ten o’clock when all is finally settled, and M. Kangourou comes to tell me:
“All is arranged, Monsieur: her parents will give her up for twenty dollars a month—the same price as Mademoiselle Jasmin.”
On hearing this, I am possessed suddenly with extreme vexation that I should have made up my mind so quickly to link myself in ever so fleeting and transient a manner with this little creature, and dwell with her in this isolated house.
We return to the room; she is the centre of the circle and seated; and they have placed the aigrette of flowers in her hair. There is actually some expression in her glance, and I am almost persuaded that she—this one—thinks.
Yves is astonished at her modest attitude, at her little timid airs of a young girl on the verge of matrimony; he had imagined nothing like it in such a connection as this, nor I either, I must confess.
“She is really very pretty, brother,” said he; “very pretty, take my word for it!”
These good folks, their customs, this scene, strike him dumb with astonishment; he can not get over it, and remains in a maze. “Oh! this is too much,” he says, and the idea of writing a long letter to his wife at Toulven, describing it all, diverts him greatly.
Chrysantheme and I join hands. Yves, too, advances and touches the dainty little paw. After all, if I wed her, it is chiefly his fault; I never should have remarked her without his observation that she was pretty. Who can tell how this strange arrangement will turn out? Is it a woman or a doll? Well, time will show.