I try to be affected, moved, by this leave-taking, but without success. In regard to Japan, as with the little men and women who inhabit it, there is something decidedly wanting; pleasant enough as a mere pastime, it begets no feeling of attachment.
On our return, when I am once more with Yves and the two mousmes climbing up the road to Diou-djen-dji, which I shall probably never see again, a vague feeling of melancholy pervades my last stroll.
It is, however, but the melancholy inseparable from all things that are about to end without possibility of return.
Moreover, this calm and splendid summer is also drawing to a close for us-since to-morrow we shall go forth to meet the autumn, in Northern China. I am beginning, alas! to count the youthful summers I may still hope for; I feel more gloomy each time another fades away, and flies to rejoin the others already disappeared in the dark and bottomless abyss, where all past things lie buried.
At midnight we return home, and my removal begins; while on board the “amazingly tall friend” kindly takes my watch.
It is a nocturnal, rapid, stealthy removal—“doyobo (thieves) fashion,” remarks Yves, who in visiting the mousmes has picked up a smattering of the Nipponese language.
Messieurs the packers have, at my request, sent in the evening several charming little boxes, with compartments and false bottoms, and several paper bags (in the untearable Japanese paper), which close of themselves and are fastened by strings, also in paper, arranged beforehand in the most ingenious manner—quite the cleverest and most handy thing of its kind; for little useful trifles these people are unrivalled.
It is a real treat to pack them, and everybody lends a helping hand—Yves, Chrysantheme, Madame Prune, her daughter, and M. Sucre. By the glimmer of the reception-lamps, which are still burning, every one wraps, rolls, and ties up expeditiously, for it is already late.
Although Oyouki has a heavy heart, she can not prevent herself from indulging in a few bursts of childish laughter while she works.
Madame Prune, bathed in tears, no longer restrains her feelings; poor old lady, I really very much regret . . . .
Chrysantheme is absent-minded and silent.
But what a fearful amount of luggage! Eighteen cases or parcels, containing Buddhas, chimeras, and vases, without mentioning the last lotus that I carry away tied up in a pink cluster.
All this is piled up in the djins’ carts, hired at sunset, which are waiting at the door, while their runners lie asleep on the grass.
A starlit and exquisite night. We start off with lighted lanterns, followed by the three sorrowful ladies who accompany us, and by abrupt slopes, dangerous in the darkness, we descend toward the sea.