THE SONG OF THE CICALA
Forever, throughout everything, rises day and night from the whole country the song of the cicalas, ceaseless, strident, and insistent. It is everywhere, and never-ending, at no matter what hour of the burning day, or what hour of the refreshing night. From the harbor, as we approached our anchorage, we had heard it at the same time from both shores, from both walls of green mountains. It is wearisome and haunting; it seems to be the manifestation, the noise expressive of the kind of life peculiar to this region of the world. It is the voice of summer in these islands; it is the song of unconscious rejoicing, always content with itself and always appearing to inflate, to rise, in a greater and greater exultation at the sheer happiness of living.
It is to me the noise characteristic of this country—this, and the cry of the falcon, which had in like manner greeted our entry into Japan. Over the valleys and the deep bay sail these birds, uttering, from time to time, their three cries, “Ha! ha! ha!” in a key of sadness that seems the extreme of painful astonishment. And the mountains around reecho their cry.
MY FRIEND AND MY DOLL
Chrysantheme, Yves, and little Oyouki have struck up a friendship so intimate that it amuses me. I even think that in my home life this intimacy is what affords me the greatest entertainment. They form a contrast which gives rise to the most absurd jokes, and unexpected situations. He brings into this fragile little paper house his nautical freedom and ease of manner, and his Breton accent; and these tiny mousmes, with affected manners and bird-like voices, small as they are, rule the big fellow as they please; make him eat with chop-sticks; teach him Japanese pigeon-vole, cheat him, and quarrel, and almost die of laughter over it all.
Certainly he and Chrysantheme take a pleasure in each other’s society. But I remain serenely undisturbed, and can not imagine that this little doll, with whom I play at married life, could possibly occasion any serious trouble between this “brother” and me.
MY JAPANESE RELATIVES
Japanese relatives, very numerous and conspicuous, are a great source of amusement to those of my brother officers who visit me in my villa on the hill—most especially to ‘komodachi taksan takai’ ("the tall friend").
I have a charming mother-in-law—quite a woman of the world—tiny sisters-in-law, little cousins, and aunts who are still quite young.
I have even a poor second cousin, who is a djin. There was some hesitation in owning this latter to me; but, behold! during the ceremony of introduction, we exchanged a smile of recognition. It was Number 415!