“I must positively get leave to go on shore this evening,” he says, while I endeavor to shake myself awake, “if it is only to help you to dismantle and pack up.”
He gazes through my port-hole, raising his glance toward the green summits, in the direction of Diou-djen-dji and our echoing old cottage, hidden from us by a turn of the mountain.
It is very nice of him to wish to help me in my packing; but I think he counts also upon saying farewell to his little Japanese friends up there, and I really can not find fault with that.
He finishes his work, and does in fact obtain leave, without help from me, to go on shore at five o’clock, after drill and manoeuvres.
As for myself I start at once, in a hired sampan. In the vast flood of midday sunshine, to the quivering noise of the cicalas, I mount to Diou-djen-dji.
The paths are solitary, the plants are drooping in the heat. Here, however, is Madame Jonquille, taking the air in the bright, grasshoppers’ sunshine, sheltering her dainty figure and her charming face under an enormous paper parasol, a huge circle, closely ribbed and fantastically striped.
She recognizes me from afar, and, laughing as usual, runs to meet me.
I announce our departure, and a tearful pout suddenly contracts her childish face. After all, does this news grieve her? Is she about to shed tears over it? No! it turns to a fit of laughter, a little nervous perhaps, but unexpected and disconcerting—dry and clear, pealing through the silence and warmth of the narrow paths, like a cascade of little mock pearls.
Ah, there indeed is a marriage-tie which will be broken without much pain! But she fills me with impatience, poor empty-headed linnet, with her laughter, and I turn my back upon her to continue my journey.
Above-stairs, Chrysantheme sleeps, stretched out on the floor; the house is wide open, and the soft mountain breeze rustles gently through it.
That same evening we had intended to give a tea-party, and by my orders flowers had already been placed in every nook and corner of the house. There were lotus in our vases, beautifully colored lotus, the last of the season, I verily believe. They must have been ordered from a special gardener, out yonder near the Great Temple, and they will cost me dear.
With a few gentle taps of a fan I awake my surprised mousme; and, curious to catch her first impressions, I announce my departure. She starts up, rubs her eyelids with the backs of her little hands, looks at me, and hangs her head: something like an expression of sadness passes in her eyes.
This little sinking at the heart is for Yves, no doubt!
The news spreads through the house.
Mademoiselle Oyouki dashes upstairs, with half a tear in each of her babyish eyes; kisses me with her full red lips, which always leave a wet ring on my cheek; then quickly draws from her wide sleeve a square of tissue-paper, wipes away her stealthy tears, blows her little nose, rolls the bit of paper in a ball, and throws it into the street on the parasol of a passer-by.