M. Sucre is taciturn, dislikes society, and looks like a mummy in his blue cotton dress. He writes a great deal (his memoirs, I fancy), with a paint-brush held in his fingertips, on long strips of rice-paper of a faint gray tint.
Madame Prune is eagerly attentive, obsequious, and rapacious; her eyebrows are closely shaven, her teeth carefully lacquered with black, as befits a lady of gentility, and at all and no matter what hours, she appears on all fours at the entrance of our apartment, to offer us her services.
As to Oyouki, she rushes upon us ten times a day—whether we are sleeping or dressing—like a whirlwind on a visit, flashing upon us, a very gust of dainty youthfulness and droll gayety—a living peal of laughter. She is round of figure, round of face; half baby, half girl; and so affectionate that she bestows kisses on the slightest occasion with her great puffy lips—a little moist, it is true, like a child’s, but nevertheless very fresh and very red.
Our dwelling is open all the night through, and the lamps burning before the gilded Buddha bring us the company of the insect inhabitants of every garden in the neighborhood. Moths, mosquitoes, cicalas, and other extraordinary insects of which I don’t even know the names—all this company assembles around us.
It is extremely funny, when some unexpected grasshopper, some free-and-easy beetle presents itself without invitation or excuse, scampering over our white mats, to see the manner in which Chrysantheme indicates it to my righteous vengeance—merely pointing her finger at it, without another word than “Hou!” said with bent head, a particular pout, and a scandalised air.
There is a fan kept expressly for the purpose of blowing them out of doors again.
Here I must own that my story must appear to the reader to drag a little.
Lacking exciting intrigues and tragic adventures, I wish I knew how to infuse into it a little of the sweet perfumes of the gardens which surround me, something of the gentle warmth of the sunshine, of the shade of these graceful trees. Love being wanting, I should like it to breathe of the restful tranquillity of this faraway spot. Then, too, I should like it to reecho the sound of Chrysantheme’s guitar, in which I begin to find a certain charm, for want of something better, in the silence of the lovely summer evenings.
All through these moonlit nights of July, the weather has been calm, luminous, and magnificent. Ah, what glorious clear nights! What exquisite roseate tints beneath that wonderful moon, what mystery of blue shadows in the thick tangle of trees! And, from the heights where stood our veranda, how prettily the town lay sleeping at our feet!
After all, I do not positively detest this little Chrysantheme, and when there is no repugnance on either side, habit turns into a makeshift of attachment.