The djins, stiffening their muscular legs, hold back with all their might the heavily loaded little cars which would run down by themselves if let alone, and that so rapidly that they would rush into empty space with my most valuable chattels. Chrysantheme walks by my side, and expresses, in a soft and winning manner, her regret that the “wonderfully tall friend” did not offer to replace me for the whole of my night-watch, as that would have allowed me to spend this last night, even till morning, under our roof.
“Listen!” she says, “come back to-morrow in the daytime, before getting under way, to bid one good-by; I shall not return to my mother until evening; you will find me still up there.”
And I promise.
They stop at a certain turn, whence we have a bird’s-eye view of the whole harbor. The black, stagnant waters reflect innumerable distant fires, and the ships—tiny, immovable objects, which, seen from our point of view, take the shape of fish, seem also to slumber,—little objects which serve to bear us elsewhere, to go far away, and to forget.
The three ladies are about to turn back home, for the night is already far advanced and, farther down, the cosmopolitan quarters near the quays are not safe at this unusual hour.
The moment has therefore come for Yves—who will not land again—to make his last tragic farewells to his friends the little mousmes.
I am very curious to see the parting between Yves and Chrysantheme; I listen with all my ears, I look with all my eyes, but it takes place in the simplest and quietest fashion: none of that heartbreaking which will be inevitable between Madame Prune and myself; I even notice in my mousme an indifference, an unconcern which puzzles me; I positively am at a loss to understand what it all means.
And I muse as I continue to descend toward the sea. “Her appearance of sadness was not, therefore, on Yves’s account. On whose, then?” and the phrase runs through my head:
“Come back to-morrow before setting sail, to bid me goodby; I shall not return to my mother until evening; you will find me still up there.”
Japan is indeed most delightful this evening, so fresh and so sweet; and little Chrysantheme was very charming just now, as she silently walked beside me through the darkness of the lane.
It is about two o’clock when we reach the ‘Triomphante’ in a hired sampan, where I have heaped up all my cases till there is danger of sinking. The “very tall friend” gives over to me the watch that I must keep till four o’clock; and the sailors on duty, but half awake, make a chain in the darkness, to haul on board all my fragile luggage.
I intended to sleep late this morning, in order to make up for my lost sleep of last night.