His, indeed, is the only hand I clasp with a really friendly feeling, without a suppressed smile, on quitting Japan.
No doubt in this country, as in many others, there is more honest friendship and less ugliness among the simple beings devoted to purely physical work.
At five o’clock in the afternoon we set sail.
Along the line of the shore are two or three sampans; in them the mousmes, shut up in the narrow cabins, peep at us through the tiny windows, half hiding their faces on account of the sailors; these are our wives, who have wished, out of politeness, to look upon us once more.
There are other sampans as well, in which other Japanese women are also watching our departure. These stand upright, under great parasols decorated with big black letters and daubed over with clouds of varied and startling colors.
A FADING PICTURE
We move slowly out of the wide green bay. The groups of women grow smaller in the distance. The country of round umbrellas with a thousand ribs fades gradually from our sight.
Now the vast ocean opens before us, immense, colorless, solitary; a solemn repose after so much that is too ingenious and too small.
The wooded mountains, the flowery capes disappear. And Japan remains faithful to itself, with its picturesque rocks, its quaint islands on which the trees tastefully arrange themselves in groups—studied, perhaps, but charmingly pretty.
A WITHERED LOTUS-FLOWER
One evening, in my cabin, in the midst of the Yellow Sea, my eyes fall upon the lotus-blossoms brought from Diou-djen-dji; they had lasted several days; but now they are withered, and strew my carpet pathetically with their pale pink petals.
I, who have carefully kept so many faded flowers, fallen, alas! into dust, stolen here and there, at moments of parting in different parts of the world; I, who have kept so many that the collection is now an absurd, an indistinguishable herbarium—I try hard, but without success, to awaken some sentiment for these lotus—and yet they are the last living souvenirs of my summer at Nagasaki.
I pick them up, however, with a certain amount of consideration, and I open my port-hole.
From the gray misty sky a strange light falls upon the waters; a dim and gloomy twilight descends, yellowish upon this Yellow Sea. We feel that we are moving northward, that autumn is approaching.
I throw the poor lotus into the boundless waste of waters, making them my best excuses for consigning them, natives of Japan, to a grave so solemn and so vast.
An Appeal to the Gods
from this little marriage of mine,
in the waters of the river of Kamo!
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