In the middle of their official scrawl, they made me write in French my name, Christian name, and profession. Then they gave me an extraordinary document on a sheet of rice-paper, which set forth the permission granted me by the civilian authorities of the island of Kiu-Siu, to inhabit a house situated in the suburb of Diou-djen-dji, with a person called Chrysantheme, the said permission being under the protection of the police during the whole of my stay in Japan.
In the evening, however, in our own quarter, our little marriage became a very pretty affair—a procession carrying lanterns, a festive tea and some music. All this seemed quite necessary.
Now we are almost an old married couple, and we are gently settling down into everyday habits.
Chrysantheme tends the flowers in our bronze vases, dresses herself with studied care, proud of her socks with the divided big toe, and strums all day on a kind of long-necked guitar, producing sweet and plaintive sounds.
MY NEW MENAGE
In our home, everything looks like a Japanese picture: we have folding-screens, little odd-shaped stools bearing vases full of flowers, and at the farther end of the apartment, in a nook forming a kind of altar, a large gilded Buddha sits enthroned in a lotus.
The house is just as I had fancied it should be in the many dreams of Japan I had had before my arrival, during the long night watches: perched on high, in a peaceful suburb, in the midst of green gardens; made up of paper panels, and taken to pieces according to one’s fancy, like a child’s toy. Whole families of cicalas chirp day and night under our old resounding roof. From our veranda we have a bewildering bird’s-eye view of Nagasaki, of its streets, its junks, and its great pagodas, which, at certain hours, is illuminated at our feet like some scene in fairyland.
THE LADIES OF THE FANS
Regarded as a mere outline, little Chrysantheme has been seen everywhere and by everybody. Whoever has looked at one of those paintings on china or silk that are sold in our bazaars, knows perfectly the pretty, stiff head-dress, the leaning figure, ever ready to try some new gracious salutation, the sash fastened behind in an enormous bow, the large, flowing sleeves, the drapery slightly clinging about the ankles with a little crooked train like a lizard’s tail.
But her face—no, not every one has seen that; there is something special about it.
Moreover, the type of women the Japanese paint mostly on their vases is an exceptional one in their country. It is almost exclusively among the nobility that these personages are found, with their long, pale faces, painted in tender rose-tints, and silly, long necks which give them the appearance of storks. This distinguished type (which I am obliged to admit was also Mademoiselle Jasmin’s) is rare, particularly at Nagasaki.