Following Pine-breeze, who went before her like a fantastically colored
glowworm, Campanula ascended to the house.
As she stepped onto the veranda she heard the voice of M’Gourley San
addressing Lotus-bed, and asking when she thought Leslie San would be
back. Mac’s elastic-side boots were in the veranda, and his gamp was
propped against the wall.
He was sitting on the floor smoking a pipe and reading the _Japan Mail_
through a pair of spectacles when Campanula entered.
Mac often came up of nights like this. He was a vivid Radical, and
Leslie was a hide-bound Conservative, so they had a splendid time
together when they got on politics; or they would play chess, or Mr.
Initogo would drop in and they would have a rubber of dummy whist.
But what Mac really came for, though he scarcely knew it himself, was
Campanula was a lot to Mac; much more than one can express in prose, and
M’Gourley is scarcely the figure to make a ballad of. Yet the poem was
there round about him, unsung, unuttered, unguessed by any one, least of
all by himself.
When he had made chickens out of orange-pips for her at Nikko, she just
as cunningly had made him her slave.
She had taken this dull, hard-grained, and shady old business man into a
byway, of life, and made him spin tops and fly kites. She had made him
admire flowers and listen to fairy tales, and all as naturally and as
peacefully as though these things had been matters of everyday
occurrence with him the whole long length of his arid life.
“_Einst, O wunder!_”–that ballad might have been inspired by Mac–had
the writer ever met him in business or seen him in the flesh.
“Hech!” said Mac. “There you are; and where have you been trapsing to
this hour of the evening?”
Campanula explained that Leslie had met friends, and that he had gone to
dine with them at the hotel.
“Wonder who they can be?” soliloquized Mac, as Campanula clapped her
little hands together for Pine-breeze to bring refreshments. “Some
people he has picked up at the hotel, maybe.”
They sat opposite to each other on the matting, this strangely assorted
pair. A panel in the front was open, for the night was warm, and the
lamplight fell on the veranda and the garden path beyond.
And they ate salted plums and crystallized prawns, soup with seaweed in
it, and rice with fish sauce, whilst the perfume of the cherry blossoms
stole in from the night outside, and the twang of a _chamécen_ came from
somewhere in the mysterious depths of the house.
It was Lotus-bud relieving her soul with music, mournful as the sound of
the wind blowing over the wet fields of millet in the rainy weather.
The things having been removed, Campanula brought forth a chess-board,
which she laid on the matting before Mac.
He had taught her chess, and had found her an apt pupil, a veritable
Zukertort, a female Nogi, who attacked his positions with her ivory
army, stormed his fortifications, and put him to rout when she chose.
Yet he often won. She would make amazing blunders just in time to save
him from defeat, and Mac would chuckle and say–
“There you are, there you are–thrown a pawn away that might have given
you back your queen in two more moves. Never mind, you’re getting on;
I’ll noat say ye aren’t im–” long pause–“proving. Check–and how’s
that for mate?”
Then Campanula would throw her hands up in assumed horror at her own
stupidity, and Mac would chuckle over his own supposed cleverness, and
all would be harmony and peace.
To-night, however, Campanula’s mind was somewhat astray, and the
chess-player who lived in her brain took advantage of the fact, and beat
Mac thoroughly in the course of a dozen moves.
“I’m getting auld,” said Mac testily. “Here, put the things away. Na,
na, I’ll play no more the night.”
He lit his pipe at the tobacco-mono and moodily smoked it. He could not
bear being beaten at chess, and now he looked as if he would be sour for
the whole evening.
She reached for a long-necked _chamécen_ that lay near her on the
matting, and tuned it, striking a few somber notes.
“Ay, sing us something,” said Mac, and as the night wind sighed and the
cherry blossoms filled the room with their faint, faint fragrance,
Campanula, her eyes fixed across illimitable distance, sang in a voice
like the ripple of a mountain brook, a song telling of the Miakodori,
and the sunlit slopes of Maruyama, where the great old Gion cherry tree
blooms at the foot of Yaamis lane. And then an old love-song strayed in
from the night and was caught by the strings of the _chamécen_ and made
articulate by her voice.
It told the fate of a maiden named Pine-bough, who lived by the sea at
Hamada where the foam and the sand are as snow.
She loved a noble, this maiden named Pine-bough–you can guess the rest.
Mac listened, soothed; it was the case of David and Saul over again–a
very inferior sort of Saul, it is true.
“Now,” said the Charmed One as the rafters absorbed the last echoes of
the fate of Pine-bough, “tell us a story.”
Campanula, with the _chamécen_ lying across her lap, knitted her brows
in thought. She was evidently pursuing strange beasts across the fields
of Fancy, and undetermined as to which she would mark down and serve up
to her guest. Then she solved the matter by suddenly clearing her brow
and telling a tale without any beasts in it at all.
“There is a garden,” declared Campanula, “where every one may enter; the
Mikado himself goes there, and the riksha man, the Mousmé and the
Mousko, Bo Chan, and Kiku San. Even Campanula herself, lowly as she is,
may enter there. And there the Mousko pulls the beard of the Emperor
unafraid, and the riksha man forgets his riksha and drinks tea at the
tea houses, where no money is paid and no money is asked for.”
“What’s this garden you’re telling me of?” demanded Mac, his business
instincts and common sense in arms at the latter statement.
“It is the garden of sleep,” answered Campanula cunningly. She had been
waiting for the question and now she paused, gently plucking a string of
the _chamécen_, filling the air with a faint throbbing sound as if to
summon around her the tale-bearers of the night.
“Here in the garden of sleep,” pursued the dreamy voice, as the
vibrations died away, “every tree bears a lighted lantern swinging in
the wind and painting the grass beneath with its color–red lanterns
painted with storks, and blue lanterns pictured with the blossoms of the
cherry; lanterns on which dragons fly pursuing each other, and lanterns
disported upon by my lord the Bat.
“A wanderer in the garden has but to pluck a lantern from a tree, and
his dreams will at once turn in a happy direction, and by the light of
the lantern he will see before him the object of his desire, be it what
“I’ll remember that,” said Mac grimly, “next time I find myself there.”
“One has no memory there,” said Campanula, “and few people know of the
secret of that place, else every one would be happy in their dreams.
“One night entered the garden Taro San, a child no higher than one’s
knee. He was the son of a tea-house keeper, and he had plucked a
glowworm from a bush, by which feeble light he was lighting himself
through the darkness of the garden.
“All at once he found himself beneath a tree, from the lowest branch of
which swung a huge lantern of wistaria-blue.
“It was the lantern of Spring, and the painted butterflies upon it, by
some magic, moved their wings in flight, yet remained always in the same
place, and the painted cherry-blossoms upon it waved in some magic wind,
yet never faded or lost a petal, and the bird upon it pursuing the
dragon fly was always gaining upon the dragon fly, yet the dragon fly,
oh mystery! always outstripped the bird.”
Campanula paused in thought, and a faintly plucked string of the
_chamécen_ filled the air with the hum of the dragon fly’s wings as it
flew by reed and iris, by mere and pond, by the unblown lotus and the
blue of the river in the country of eternal spring.
“O Taro San,” continued the story-teller, “gazing up and beholding this
fair thing, strove to reach it, and failing, he began to weep.
“Now, there was passing by at that moment the Daimiyo of his province,
and the great lord walked with his gaze fixed upon the ground overcome
as he was by the reverie of sleep; but hearing the sound of Taro San
weeping, he paused and asked the child what ailed him, and hearing the
trouble, he lifted him upon his shoulder; and Taro San grasped the
lantern and waved it in the air and laughed, for its light showed him a
pleasant path beset with roses and leading to a sea, blue as the sea of
Harima, and in the path stood a little girl plucking the amber and
“Taro cried out to the Daimiyo to take him to the little girl, but the
Daimiyo did not heed, for to him the lantern had shown Osaka Castle
stormed by knights in armor, and the spears of the Samurai all bent
towards its walls under a roof of flying arrows. Towards this sight he
ran, and Taro dropping the lantern, it went out, and the Daimiyo awoke
in his palace and Taro awoke in the tea house upon the futon, where he
slept beside his father.
“Another night stood Taro beneath the lantern which hung beyond his
reach, but a beggar man who chanced to pass lifting him upon his
shoulder, the child seized the lantern and waved it in the air, and
instantly before him appeared the flower-set path and the form of the
Mousmé, more beautiful now and attired in a kimono of palest amber
embroidered with silver bats.
“But the beggar man saw nothing but a purse of silver lying before him
on the ground, and, stooping to pick it up, Taro fell from his shoulder,
the lantern went out, and the beggar man awoke by the roadside where he
had fallen asleep, and Taro on the futon beside his father.
“Many times did Taro stand beneath the lantern of spring and many people
raised him towards it, but never one of them saw what Taro saw, all
their dreams being of things other than flowers and the time of spring.
“One night,” resumed Campanula after a pause, “Taro entered the garden,
and beneath the lantern there stood a child, and the child implored him
to lift him upon his shoulder, and being there the child seized the
lantern and laughed aloud with pleasure at the vision of the roses, and
the Mousmé, and the sea. But Taro saw nothing of this. He only saw a tea
house where customers were waiting to be served, for Taro,” said
Campanula, “Had now grown up, and was a man.”
She finished her little tale with three mournful notes drawn from the
bass string of the _chamécen_.
“Humph!” said Mac.
He tapped the ashes out of his pipe into the little receptacle of the
tobacco-mono, refilled it, and lit it with a glowing ember.
Whilst he was thus engaged, Campanula rose and went to the open panel
space leading on to the veranda. He heard her addressing some one in her
low, sweet voice, then there was a pause, then she spoke again as if in
answer to some remark, then she returned.
“Blind man,” said Campanula, putting the _chamécen_ away.
“I heard nobody,” said Mac, looking up as he finished lighting his pipe.
“What did you say? Blind man? Was it he you were speaking to?”
“Yes; he said he had come from a great way, and he looked oh, so ugly
and tired! He has gone to the back entrance, and they will give him
“It’s these blessed paper houses,” said Mac.
“They either swallow a sound or magnify it, so’s you can’t hear yourself
speak if a man sneezes in the next room.”
He smoked for a while, and then rose to go.
“There!” said Campanula, as she too rose. “He’s gone away again down the
path towards the gate.”
“I’ll just follow him,” said Mac, “and see what he’s like.”
He bade Campanula good night and departed.
The gate was closed, and there was no one on the garden path; no one on
the hill path either, he found as he descended it slowly, peering
through the gloom before him.
“It’s dom queer!” muttered Mac to himself as he reached the street. “I’d
have staked my life she was talking to herself.”
He felt vaguely uneasy, and thought of returning. Then he decided not.
The path looked gloomy and mysterious viewed from down below, and its
descent without meeting any one had already given him a slight attack of
Dinner was served in the Du Telles’ private room. Channing dined with
them–the man who had informed Jane of Leslie’s whereabouts–a young,
clean shaven man, member of the Shanghai Jockey Club and practically
head of the great silk firm of Channing, Matheson & Co.
At dessert Jane asked Leslie’s permission to tell of Campanula’s
finding. Leslie at first demurred. No one knew anything about it except
the far-away folk in Nikko and the secretive Japanese police. It seemed
scarcely fair to Campanula to give the tale away, but at last he
consented, for George du Telle had eaten and drunk himself into a state
of torpor. He was staring at a pineapple before him with a flushed face,
from which protruded a great cigar, and as for Channing he was off to
Shanghai next day. So Jane told the story, and Channing listened.
“Well, what do you think?” said Jane when she had finished her tale.
“I never think about these matters,” said Channing, “I simply accept
them. My dear lady, were you to live a long time in the East you would
come to believe in things that Western people would rank as nursery
tales. The Tokyo fire-walkers can walk barefoot over a bed of live
charcoal as thick as a mattress. I have seen them. How do they do it? I
“It is very curious how the Western people, Christians, and so forth,
treat the unknown. They look upon it as the unknowable. The Easterns
don’t. I had a missionary man in at my office the other day over at
Shanghai subscription hunting. I gave him what he wanted, and then,
without scarcely saying ‘Thank you,’ he asked me did I believe in God. I
asked him did he believe in the devil. He said ‘Yes.’ I asked him did he
believe in devils, and he said ‘No.’ I asked him did he believe in the
Bible. He said ‘Yes.’ Then I recalled to his mind the story of the
Gadarene swine, and his reply was that times are changed since then.
Then I suppose, I said, all the devils are dead? He walked away in a
huff–with my check in his pocket, though.
“Now the juggler man”–turning to Leslie–“may have been chivied to
death by devils just as the Gadarene swine were chased into the sea–who
“Of course it may have been that his madness, if he were mad, took an
acute turn, who knows? But I have lived a good time in the East, and I
am very well assured of this, that there are men here hand in glove with
evil. I have seen things done in China, and for money too, that could
not possibly have been done by trickery, and could not, I think, have
been done by permission of the powers of Good. I’m not what you call a
Christian, and what’s more, I think the Christian religion has done a
great deal of harm–not to speak of other what you call ‘religions’–Am
I wearying you, Mrs. du Telle?”
“Not in the least; please go on.”
“In this way. It has robbed us of our terror of evil. It paints a vague
devil that no man really believes in. Now take that much-read book, ‘The
Sorrows of Satan,’ where the Devil sits down and plays the piano and
sings a song.”
“I thought it was a guitar he played,” said Jane.
“Well, a guitar; it’s all the same. People read that with a grave face.
He’s quite a good sort and so forth.” Channing paused for a moment and
gazed reflectively at the wine in his glass, took a sip and went on:
“Don’t you think the thousands of people who read that stuff, and admire
it, must have lost all sense of the horrible thing that evil is? The
sense that evil is a reality, a thing to fill us with the wildest horror
if one could only appreciate it, a very real thing, and a very
determined thing, and a thing all black; yet we get people playing in
fancy with, and even laughing about, this horror. And writers painting
the cuttle-fish center of it as a semi-sentimental idiot capable of
assuming evening clothes and talking twaddle, or criticizing plays as he
does in Satan Montgomery’s poem. We don’t play with a thing we loathe
even in fancy. But we–I mean Christians–play with the idea of the
devil as if it were a poodle dog. The truth is that Christians don’t
fear the Power of Evil, they fear the Power of Good. They praise him,
propitiate and worship him in a most fulsome manner, and say they love
him. I tell you this for a fact that no man can love good who does not
abhor evil, and you can’t abhor a thing that you play with.”
“Do you abhor evil, Mr. Channing?” asked Jane.
“Honestly, I do. Any one with eyes and the capacity for thought who
lives in China _must_.”
“Then you must love good?”
“One does not ‘love’ the sun, one worships it, so to speak–but this is
all very strange my talking like this; my business in life is mainly
silk and racehorses.”
“‘Scuse me,” said George du Telle, who was swaying slightly in his
chair, the gone-out cigar still stuck in the side of his mouth, his face
bulged and red, and his eye a fixity. “‘Scuse me.”
“One moment, George–Well, I think, Mr. Channing, there are worse
Christians in the world than you are.”
“Perhaps there are worse men, but I don’t claim to be a Christian. Only
a man who recognizes fearfully the existence of evil as well as good.”
“‘Scuse me,” said George du Telle, speaking loudly now as if he were
calling a servant or railway porter. “I’m not going to have this sort of
thing at my table. _I’m_ a Christian, brought up a Christian, die one.
‘M not going to–”
“George!” said his wife in a mild voice, but a voice very steady and
full of command.
The Christian, who had raised himself in his chair, subsided.
Jane rose from the table.
“Shall we go into the drawing-room and have some music?” she said. “You
sing, Dick–or used to.”
As they passed to the drawing-room she said to Channing: “Did I tell you
the mark my cousin Dick made–you know what I mean–was the Christian
“My dear lady,” said Channing, “I especially dread hurting another
person’s religious feelings, and I, what am I? Just a man who thinks his
own thoughts, but–”
“Well, if there were anything in it at all, may it not be that the cause
of the disturbance was the fact that he touched him?”
“How is that?”
“You have never touched the wire in connection with a running dynamo?”
“No,” said Channing, “for if you had you would not be here. The metaphor
is a bad one. I only mean to say that the touch of a stick or a hand may
disturb the play of great forces with most surprising results.”