“Nippon Kane!” exclaims Chrysantheme—and she again takes up her brightly feathered arrows. “Nippon Kane (’the Japanese brass’); it is the Japanese brass that is sounding!” It is the monstrous gong of a monastery, situated in a suburb beneath us. It is powerful indeed, “the Japanese brass”! When the strokes are ended, when it is no longer heard, a vibration seems to linger among the suspended foliage, and a prolonged quiver runs through the air.
I am obliged to admit that Chrysantheme looks very charming shooting her arrows, her figure well bent back the better to bend her bow; her loose-hanging sleeves caught up to her shoulders, showing the graceful bare arms polished like amber and very much the same color. Each arrow whistles by with the rustle of a bird’s wing—then a short, sharp little blow is heard, the target is hit, always.
At nightfall, when Chrysantheme has gone up to Diou-djen-dji, we cross, Yves and I, the European concession, on our way to the ship, to take up our watch till the following day. The cosmopolitan quarter, exhaling an odor of absinthe, is dressed up with flags, and squibs are being fired off in honor of France. Long lines of djins pass by, dragging, as fast as their naked legs can carry them, the crew of the ‘Triomphante,’ who are shouting and fanning themselves. The Marseillaise is heard everywhere; English sailors are singing it, gutturally, with a dull and slow cadence like their own “God Save.” In all the American bars, grinding organs are hammering it with many an odious variation and flourish, in order to attract our men.
One amusing recollection comes back to me of that evening. On our return, we had by mistake turned into a street inhabited by a multitude of ladies of doubtful reputation. I can still see that big fellow Yves, struggling with a whole band of tiny little ‘mousmes’ of twelve or fifteen years of age, who barely reached up to his waist, and were pulling him by the sleeves, eager to lead him astray. Astonished and indignant, he repeated, as he extricated himself from their clutches, “Oh, this is too much!” so shocked was he at seeing such mere babies, so young, so tiny, already so brazen and shameless.
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Efforts to arrange matters
we succeed often only in disarranging
Irritating laugh which is peculiar to Japan
Ordinary, trivial, every-day objects
Seeking for a change which can no longer be found
By PIERRE LOTI
By this time, four officers of my ship are married like myself, and inhabiting the slopes of the same suburb. This arrangement is quite an ordinary occurrence, and is brought about without difficulties, mystery, or danger, through the offices of the same M. Kangourou.