Over this poor Number 415 my friends on board crack no end of jokes—one in particular, who, less than any one has the right to make them, little Charles N-----, for his mother-in-law was once a concierge, or something of the kind, at the gateway of a pagoda.
I, however, who have a great respect for strength and agility, much appreciate this new relative of mine. His legs are undoubtedly the best in all Nagasaki, and whenever I am in haste, I always beg Madame Prune to send down to the djin-stand and engage my cousin.
A DEAD FAIRY
Today I arrived unexpectedly at Diou-djen-dji, in the midst of burning noonday heat. At the foot of the stairs lay Chrysantheme’s wooden shoes and her sandals of varnished leather.
In our rooms, upstairs, all was open to the air; bamboo blinds hung on the sunny side, and through their transparency came warm air and golden threads of light. Today the flowers Chrysantheme had placed in the bronze vases were lotus, and as I entered, my eyes fell upon their wide rosy cups.
According to her usual custom, Chrysantheme was lying flat on the floor enjoying her daily siesta.
What a singular originality these bouquets of Chrysantheme always have: a something, difficult to define, a Japanese slightness, an artificial grace which we never should succeed in imparting to them.
She was sleeping, face down, upon the mats, her high headdress and tortoise-shell pins standing out boldly from the rest of the horizontal figure. The train of her tunic appeared to prolong her delicate little body, like the tail of a bird; her arms were stretched crosswise, the sleeves spread out like wings, and her long guitar lay beside her.
She looked like a dead fairy; still more did she resemble some great blue dragon-fly, which, having alighted on that spot, some unkind hand had pinned to the floor.
Madame Prune, who had come upstairs after me, always officious and eager, manifested by her gestures her sentiments of indignation on beholding the careless reception accorded by Chrysantheme to her lord and master, and advanced to wake her.
“Pray do nothing of the kind, my good Madame Prune; you don’t know how much I prefer her like that!” I had left my shoes below, according to custom, beside the little shoes and sandals; and I entered on the tips of my toes, very, very, softly to sit awhile on the veranda.
What a pity this little Chrysantheme can not always be asleep; she is really extremely decorative seen in this manner—and like this, at least, she does not bore me. Who knows what may be passing in that little head and heart! If I only had the means of finding out! But strange to say, since we have kept house together, instead of advancing in my study of the Japanese language, I have neglected it, so much have I felt the impossibility of ever interesting myself in the subject.