A heat wave from the Pacific had stolen over Nagasaki, and the windless
night was filled with stars and lights.
Stars in the sky, and stars in the harbor, long wavy reflections of
light from the ships in the anchorage, and ten thousand lanterns
spangling the mysterious city.
A spangle of colored lamps that spread away to the base of the O Suwa
hill which they stormed, covering it with a thousand sparkles like
phosphoric sea-spray, and cresting its summit with a burning zone,
bright as the snow crest of Fuji.
It was a gala night, and the O Suwa, that galaxy of temples, had called
the true believers in love and beauty to worship in the name of
From the great double temple, which is the crowning glory of the hill,
Leslie and his companions looked down upon shrine after shrine, broad
flights of steps stained with the soft amber and pink of lantern light,
and the colored crowd ever shifting, and murmurous as the sea.
The shadow spaces and the vagueness of night made great distances in
this dim but splendid picture, till the moon, rising over the hill-top,
chased the shadows away, paled the lamps, and drew the distances
Touched by her light the crowd below became sonorous as a musical glass
touched by the finger; the murmur of voices, the ripple of laughter, the
sigh of moving silk and the flutter of a thousand fans intensified, rose
blended and mixed, and dwelt in the air a nimbus of sound. The native
city beyond grew more distinct, yet more unreal in the moonlight, which
strengthened the black shadows of the wooded cliffs and converted the
harbor into a trembling mirror.
“We shall never see anything again so beautiful as that,” said Jane, “so
mysterious, so strange.”
He did not reply. A small hand had stolen into his; it was Campanula’s.
She, too, was gazing at the scene around and below them, filled with who
knows what thoughts.
They were not alone here on the utmost heights; women, gayly dressed,
were passing into the temple behind them to pray and clap their hands
before their gods. Women surrounded them, laughing, chattering,
dispelling quaint perfumes on the air from large incessantly-waving
fans. From the tea houses behind the temple came the thready music of
_chamécens_ and sounds of unseen festivity; and from the great park
beyond, through the hot night, the perfume of azaleas and the odor of
the dew-wet cryptomeria trees.
“Come,” said Jane, “let us go and take the picture with us before it
gets dulled. I will never forget this night–there is something in the
air of this place I have never felt before. No, thanks, I don’t want to
see the tea houses, I am quite content with this; let us go down right
through it, and home.”
They descended the broad flights of steps through the murmuring,
laughing, and perfumed crowd. There was something in the air indeed,
something as intoxicating as wine, yet far more subtle, subtle as a
poison or a love philter.
They found rikshas to take them back, and the whole party returned to
the hotel, where they left Jane.
“To-morrow at noon,” she said to Leslie, as she turned to enter.
“Yes, or even a little later; the train doesn’t start till after one.”
“Good-night!” She waved her hand in the lamplit portico and vanished.
They had no need of lanterns to show the way up the hill-path to the
House of the Clouds; the path was a tangle of moonlight and lilac-bough
shadows, a tremulous carpet upon which above them they perceived a
creeping and colored thing.
It was Cherry-blossom. She, too, had been at the festival at the O Suwa,
and was now returning, wearied out and walking like a somnambulist, a
lantern painted with butterflies held before her nodding at the end of a
In the house, when he had fastened the shoji and taken his night lantern
from Pine-breeze, he turned to where Campanula was standing, a vague
figure in the dimly-lit room. Yielding to a sudden impulse he picked her
up from the ground, just as he might have picked up a child, and kissed
her–kissed her just as he had kissed her when she was a child that day,
years ago, in the valley by the Nikko road.
That night sleep was impossible. The lights of the O Suwa burned before
him, the perfume of the azaleas and cryptomerias pursued him, lighting
always and leading him always to the same image–Jane.
He lay considering what the future would be when Jane was gone; the
rainy season would soon be upon them, and then the autumn and the winter
and the spring again after that, and the years to come.
Whilst thus torturing his soul his mind was steadfastly making a
resolve. A resolve that, come what might, Jane must not go out of his
life. That to-morrow he must act in such a way as to make her for ever
Come what might!
There was no time left for thought, scarcely enough for action.
He had quite ceased to battle with himself, to say this is right or this
is wrong. Time had cut all these arguments short with the command: “Act
now, now, in the next twenty-four hours! for after that your chance is
Then he began to sketch out the plan that had been vaguely forming in
his brain all the evening–a plan that the villainous conduct of George
du Telle made possible and practicable, and, to Leslie’s mind, almost
As he lay thus, a faint sigh came through the lattice of the window. The
wind had risen, and was moving the cherry branches and the azaleas.
Then came another sound–the sound of a stick tapping on the garden
path, as if some blind person were cautiously feeling their way round
Up along the garden path, pausing now, now advancing, now dying away,
now returning, somebody was promenading in front of the house, keeping
watch and ward like a sentry, somebody whose feet made no sound,
A feeling of sick terror came over him–terror not to be borne.
He pulled the mosquito-net aside, and rose, shivering and trembling,
feeling that he must look out at all hazards–even at the worst.
He pulled the slats aside and looked out. Nobody. The moonlight lay on
the azaleas and the garden path, but of the prowler there was no sign.
Then he saw the cause of the sound. A lath broken from the house wall
was hanging with tip touching the path, and tapping upon it as the wind
He returned to bed, and tried to snatch a few hours’ sleep, but the
sound of the blind man tapping his way continued all night long–now
faint, now loud, and insistent as the wind rose and fell.
If Mr. Kamamura had sent a special messenger to Paradise to pick from
the aviary there a blue-winged and bright-eyed day for his garden-party,
he would not have obtained a better one than that which came by chance.
A haze hid its coming. Just after sunrise, looking from Leslie’s garden
one could scarcely see Nagasaki down below–a toy town, seen through
faint blue gauze, it seemed. The wind came in puffs, hot from the
Pacific, shaking the cherry branches.
The great double cherry-blossoms were falling. The close, even moss
under the trees was white, like ground after a mild snowstorm.
There was something in the atmosphere which loosened the petals this
morning. At each puff of wind a fresh shower fell, sifting through the
air to scatter softly on the ground. It was a ghostly sight in the gray
and silent dawn; the trees seemed despoiling themselves, casting their
blossoms from them in sorrow or fear.
In the veranda stood the crimson garden umbrella, all damp with dew, and
four pairs of dogs in a row. The house was deathly still; and one might
have likened it to a tomb, had it not possessed so much the appearance
of a bandbox, looped and latticed.
Presently a faint sound might have been heard. A panel slid back, and a
figure appeared, holding in its hand a lighted paper lantern.
It was Campanula, clad in blue, her feet peeping from beneath her skirt
like two white mice.
She put out the lantern, and hung it on a hook. Then she put on a pair
of clogs, and clicked down the steps. She went down the path, through
the little gate, and vanished from sight; and as her footsteps died
away, silence returned to the house and the garden.
Then in a few minutes a glorious transformation scene took place. The
haze turned to a golden mist; it became sundered by rivers of clear air,
and from it leaped the sun, like Helios from the sea.
Instantly the silence of the orchard became broken by the bickering of
birds; a cock crowed somewhere in the back premises, and he was answered
by the cock that lived half-way down the hill at the cooper’s shop–who
was answered, a minute later, by all the roosters in Nagasaki.
The mist vanished entirely now, the sun began steadily to mount into the
vault of perfect blue; his slanting rays shot through the cherry
orchard, striking here the bole of a tree glistening with great tears of
fragrant gum, and there on the ground besnowed with blossom, even the
fierce old hills of the landscape garden lost something of their
ruggedness in the warm and mellow light.
Then the house began to awaken. Pine-breeze appeared on the veranda, and
after Pine-breeze the other Mousmés all busy, or appearing so, dragging
out futon to air for a moment in the morning brightness, and lacquer
screens to be dusted.
“Summer has come in the night,” said Lotus-bud, pointing out the fallen
“Yes,” chimed in Pine-breeze, “but spring has gone.”
“I dreamt last night of frost.” This from Cherry-blossom, who was busily
engaged watching the others at work.
Frost is a bad dream in Japan, and the Mousmés conferred in murmurs as
to what it might mean.
“I know,” said Lotus-bud suddenly, with an air of conviction.
“The riksha man will die.”
“Which?” asked Pine-breeze.
Then the two Mousmés began to “guy” Cherry-blossom as to the number of
the riksha man destined to die.
“Ichi-ban, Ni-ban, San-ban,” murmured Lotus-bud.
 Number one, number two, number three.
“Shi-ban, Go-ban, Roku-ban,” rippled Pine-breeze.
“Hachi-ban!” suddenly cried Lotus-bud, with an air of inspiration.
“Ku-ban!” replied Pine-breeze, with the air of going one better.
“Leslie San!” said Cherry-blossom: and Pine-breeze got up and scuttered
into the house, where Leslie San was calling for his bath to be heated.
An hour later he appeared on the veranda, fully dressed.
He noticed the promise of heat in the air; he noted the great fall of
cherry-blossoms that had occurred during the night; he noted the lantern
that Campanula had hung on the hook.
Then he left the veranda, came down into the garden path, and through
Outside the gate there was a little by-path that led upwards and to the
left, between a double bank of bushes to an open space like a natural
platform, from which a splendid view of the harbor and hills could be
obtained, A great camellia tree forty feet high grew here, alone in its
splendor, and beneath it he stood gazing at the harbor.
He could hear the faint monosyllabic cry of the brown hawks ever
circling above the blue water, and the distant sound of a drum from the
_Rurik_ where she lay at anchor. He could see the sampans shooting
hither and thither, carrying fruit and what not to the ships in the
anchorage, and the Junks floating like brown phantoms past the shadow of
the opposite cliffs.
But his eye was searching for something that was not there.
He looked at his watch, put it back in his pocket with an impatient
gesture, and continued to gaze.
Suddenly–Hrr-‘mph!–Haa-aar!–the blast of a syren came shouting up the
harbor, and chasing the echoes through the hills. The brown hawks rose
and circled in wild flight, and past a bend came a great, white,
It was the Canadian Pacific boat, the _Empress of Japan_, touching at
Nagasaki, and due to leave the morning following for Yokohama and
He watched her for a moment as she swam to her berth, beautiful and
graceful as a swan. Then he turned to the house.
To-morrow morning he and Jane would be on board that boat, bound
northward up the Inland Sea, past Tsu-shima, past Osaka, past Yokohama,
and away across the blue Pacific to Vancouver.
The whole plan was cut and dried. Jane had given no consent; that did
not matter. She would consent; he felt the power in himself to _make_
Men of his stamp, lazy, neurotic, yet strong-willed, stung into action
by love or hate, sometimes assume momentary but terrible command over
events; they infect with their passion, infuriate with their hate, or
paralyze with their love.
He entered the house, ordered breakfast, and enquired for Campanula.
She had gone down at dawn, said Pine-breeze, to see O Toku San, the poor
girl who was so ill, and was now dying. He was glad Campanula was out,
and determined if possible to get his preparations over before her
return. Jane and he would return from Mr. Kamamura’s about six that
evening. It would be time enough then to tell Campanula of his journey.
As he breakfasted, he completed that part of his plans which had
reference to Campanula.
She would be safe and well looked after by M’Gourley, till–he came
back. He told himself he would come back some day; perhaps in six months
or so he would come back.
And why should he worry about leaving Campanula for a time? He had often
gone away before, once as far as London; he had always come back.
Why should Campanula mind his going away again?
He tried to forget how her little hand had stolen into his on the
evening before as if for protection. How, when he had kissed her, she
had suddenly flung aside her timid reserve, and with her arms around his
neck, but without a word, had told him what only a woman can tell
Perhaps it was because he loved her far more than he knew, that his mind
was filled with gloom and apprehension.
But it was the time for action, not for thought; only a few hours lay
before him in which to prepare for this journey–the journey from which
he would return quite soon perhaps.
He would leave the house just as it was to Campanula and the Mousmés
till he came back and made other arrangements. M’Gourley, as his agent,
would supply them with all the money needful just as he had done before.
Then he called Pine-breeze and told her to get his portmanteau up to his
room, as he was going on a journey.
He packed hurriedly, whilst Lotus-bud handed him things. He wanted to
get the packing over and done with.
The strong sunlight reflected from the matting lit up the room with a
golden glow. Pine-breeze in the kitchen below was singing a song about a
lilac bough–the same song he had heard in the orchard that day when
Campanula had cried: “Hist, some one at the gate!”
He leaned back sitting on his heels to listen. He heard the end of the
song now. He did not hear it that day, for Jane, knocking at the
veranda, had cut it short.
This was the gist of the last verse:
“_The bee comes no more
When the lilac’s white blossom is dead_.”
Then he went on with his packing at a furious rate, stuffing in shirts,
collars, handkerchiefs, his mind wandering over all sorts of subjects.
His packing finished, he went to the window, took out his pocketbook,
and examined its contents. Three hundred and ten pounds, half in
circular notes, half in notes of the Bank of England.
Then he took out a check-book and a stylograph pen, and wrote a check
for five hundred, payable to himself.
Ten minutes later he was in a riksha making for the Bund, where he
stopped at Holme & Ringers, the shipping agents, bought two first-class
tickets for Vancouver, and changed his check, receiving part in cash,
and part in a check upon the National Specie Bank of Yokohama.
It was now eleven o’clock, and he had practically completed his
preparations. He had now to see Mac, and he turned his steps to the
office, which was only a stone’s throw from the shipping agents. Mac was
“Morning,” said he, glancing up, and seeming surprised to see his
partner at that hour.
“I am,” said Leslie, trying to assume a jovial manner. “I’m off for a
holiday, and I want you to look after things same as you’ve done
“This is sudden,” said Mac, going on with his correspondence without
“Oh, it’s never too sudden for a holiday. And see here, I’d better leave
you some ready cash: here’s a check for two fifty. I want you to look
after the bairn whilst I’m away.”
“Keep the money,” said Mac, “and pay me–when y’ come back. Ay, ay,
it’ll be soon enough then–soon enough then.”
“I’d sooner leave you the money.”
“Weel, put it in that drawer.”
“Well, you _are_ a bear this morning. See here, I’ve put it in the
drawer, but I’ll see you again before I go: I’m not off till to-morrow.”
“Imphim!” replied the Dour One, and Leslie went off.
Your true Scot has a very nasty habit of expressing his bad opinion of a
man. He does it in a round-about way, using hints and innuendoes,
instead of coming to the matter by a direct route.
What Mac suspected or what he knew, Leslie could not tell; judging from
his manner, however, he knew or suspected a lot.
However, he had no time to trouble about Mac. He had one thing more to
do before meeting Jane, Mr. Initogo the landlord had to be interviewed,
and the rent paid.
There was a fair of a sort on in the street that formed the shortest cut
to Mr. Initogo’s. It was filled with a many-colored crowd, flags were
fluttering, awnings flapping in the wind; every shop had some extra
advertisement to attract customers, and during the past night, like
mushrooms, extra booths had sprung into being.
A roaring trade was going forward; here, all kinds of fruit, there all
kinds of fish, some with bunches of violets in their mouths; cakes
reposing on branches of cherry or myrtle; cakes in the form of donkeys
and monkeys and goats; cakes shaped like spinning-tops; cakes in the
shape of suns, moons and stars; candied beans, beans mixed with comfits,
kites, masks, and paper dragons. Paper fish shaped like carp for the
Little-boys’ Festival of the 5th of May.
The noise and bustle somehow pleased Leslie, and soothed him; and he
drifted along with the chattering stream of men, women, Mousmés, little
boys and mere babies. Some of the children had long, curved trumpets of
glass, from which they blew the most horrible of hobgoblin sounds. Here
a man was frying pancakes, wrapping them in rice paper, and flinging
them to unseen customers in the crowd, who flung him back the money.
Here a person in spectacles, who looked like a professor of chemistry
gone mad, was blowing from a glass-blower’s tube dragons and fish in
sugar-candy. Apothecaries, with great golden eyes painted on their
booths, were selling little rice paper charms, one to be taken dissolved
in water for the stomach-ache, two for lumbago, three for migraine. Here
stood a man who would pull your teeth out with his fingers, three sen a
The cheap curio dealers were in evidence with their wares cheap and bad;
those quaint perambulating curio dealers, who, as a rule, only start
business at sundown, and whose stock-in-trade include old top hats, old
boots, old–anything–European. “Caw–caw–caw!” You look up, and see a
great kite straining at its strings.
And then the umbrellas! Leslie had a good view of them, for he was head
and shoulders taller than any one in the crowd. Red, pink, gray,
gray-green, pink-and-white, blossom-bestrewn, stork-bestrewn, a shifting
mass of color reflecting the sunlight.
But though he saw all this, and though the noise and bustle and laughter
and general atmosphere of festivity fell in with his humor, his thoughts
were far away at Osaka; he was wondering what George du Telle was doing,
and what George du Telle would say in a day or so, and how he would
look. He had never hated George du Telle really till now that he had
determined to rob him of his wife.
Now that he was about to commit, or attempt to commit, a vile and
abominable act against George du Telle, that person seemed to him the
acme of all things vile and abominable.
Suddenly, through an opening in the crowd, Leslie caught a glimpse of a
face, the face of a blind man, stolid, stony, with a flattened nose and
wearing an indescribable expression of eld, weariness, and misfortune.
It was only a momentary glimpse, but revealed just for a moment, and
contrasted with the shifting colored mass around him, with the noise and
laughter, the sunlight and the movement of life, it was like a vision of
Leslie stood for a moment startled and chilled; the joyous exaltation in
his mind a moment ago had vanished: it was as if a cloud had come
between him and the sun.
Why were these things always occurring to fret his soul and trouble his
imagination? This blind man was nothing but an ordinary blind man of
Japan such as one might see any day. The broken lath that had troubled
him all night was but a broken lath; the song of the mushi that had
started that infernal sound in his head was but the sound of an insect
buzzing; the azalea that had caused that frightful dream was but a
These slight things, he told himself, acting on a brain made
over-sensitive by opium, were not warnings, but simple causes of complex
effects. And he passed on his way, cursing himself for a fool, till he
reached the shop of Mr. Initogo.
That gentleman, for a wonder, was not making tea, but the sight of
Leslie San instantly inspired the desire for his favorite beverage,
caused him to clap his hands, and the tea-tray to appear in the hands of
his wife almost instantly upon the sound.
He received his rent, which he put away with an appearance of
indifference, expressed sorrow on hearing that Leslie was going away for
even a short time, but joy at the thought that the journey might benefit
his honorable health.
He was really fond of Leslie, this old Japanese gentleman; but the worst
of the flowery Japanese language is that it remains always, so to speak,
at boiling point, and towards friend or perfect stranger is the same.
You can’t cool it, and you can’t warm it.
Whilst they were talking Kiku came in; her eyes were red and she had a
snuffle in her voice.
She had been, it seems, to see the poor girl who was dying, O Toku San;
Campanula was with her.
“Ah, yes,” said Mr. Initogo, as his daughter retired upstairs. “Most
sad, poor girl. A man whom she loved left her, and she is dying of it,
just as a flower dies from want of water.”
Leslie looked at his watch: it was after twelve. He hastened from the
shop of Mr. Initogo, and securing a riksha drove to the Nagasaki Hotel
on the Bund.
At about three o’clock on that eventful day M’Gourley met one of Holme &
Ringer’s clerks in the street.
“So your partner’s off for a holiday,” said the clerk.
“So he tells me,” replied Mac.
“He’s going pretty far afield,” went on the clerk; “Vancouver isn’t–”
“Where did you say?” cut in M’Gourley.
“Well, he’s bought two tickets for Vancouver this morning, one for his
cousin and one for himself. She is married, and they are going to pick
her husband up at Yokohama,” he went on, smiling slightly.
“Vancouver!” said Mac. He stood for a moment in astonishment, then
hailing a passing riksha he jumped into it, and told the driver to take
him to the House of the Clouds.
Campanula had just returned, she was in the garden; and when she heard
his step coming up the hill path she came to the gate to meet him.
She greeted him with a smile, but there was something about her that
struck M’Gourley strangely.
She had a far-away look in her face, and she wore an abstracted air.
Away from the world her mind seemed wandering in some far, strange
country, whilst her little body walked beside him, and her lips answered
his questions, and told him things.
“O Toku San is dead,” said she; “I have just left her.” She spoke
gravely, but without any sorrow in her voice; one might even have
imagined that she was referring to some good fortune that had fallen on
O Toku San; and perhaps, indeed, she was.
“Ay! puir thing, is she?” said Mac, whose mind was also astray.
He asked had Leslie returned, and Campanula told him that he had gone to
a garden-party at Omura, and would not return till evening.
“He is going away,” finished Campanula, pausing on the veranda steps and
unlatching the strap of her sandal.
“Oh! so he’s told you?” said Mac.
Campanula said nothing; possibly she did not hear the question, so
absorbed was she by her own ideas and thoughts. Suddenly she said,
turning to Mac, who was leaning his shoulder against the veranda post
and feeling in his pocket for his tobacco-pouch:
“I saw the Blind One to-day as I was leaving O Toku San’s. I did not
speak to him; he spoke to me. He said the master of the house on the
heights is going on a journey from whence he will not return. Then he
went away. A wind from the hill blew my kimono apart and a chill came to
my breast. I do not know who the Blind One is–perhaps he is Death.”
M’Gourley, as she spoke, noticed that she had refolded her kimono from
right to left instead of from left to right.
Now in Japan, the only people who wear their kimonos folded from right
to left are the dead.
He felt sick and shivery at the words she had just spoken, and he could
not reply to them or ask questions; he was filled with a horror of the
subject, a dead, blind terror of it. He looked down and said gruffly:
“What way is that you’ve folded your kimono? Just run into the house and
put it right. I’ll bide here on the verandy and smoke my pipe.”
She vanished into the house, and Mac sat down, but he did not light his
pipe. What could be the meaning of all this? Surely he was dead, and
laid long ago in the green woods of Nikko–could it be possible that the
Why was it that she alone could see him, hear him, and speak to him?
His eye caught the crimson azaleas as they bloomed in their beauty and
splendor, and the Nikko road rose before him, the mysterious valley,
peopled by the crimson flowers, the cypress trees, the far-off country,
and the distant sea hills beyond Tanagura.
He heard Leslie’s voice as it denied the existence of God, and declared
that if he had ever been given a creature that loved him, he would have
cared for and loved it.
Then he felt something touch his shoulder, and, turning with a start,
found it was Campanula.
“Come,” said she, in the manner of a person who would say, “I wish to
show you something.”
He rose and followed her into the house. She led the way upstairs, and
down the narrow passage to Leslie’s room.
At the door she paused and pointed to an object on the floor. It was a
portmanteau packed and strapped.
They both looked at it without saying a word: a silence, that spoke of
the deep, unconscious understanding between them.
“Come,” said Mac in his turn, and taking her by the hand he led her
Had the portmanteau been a coffin, containing some being beloved by
Campanula, he could not have spoken more gently, or led her away from it
Downstairs the old, rough, gruff M’Gourley seemed very much perturbed.
Could he have found Leslie alone at that moment, a very regrettable
scene might have ensued.
And yet at the bottom of all his anger and perturbation lay a golden
gleam. If Leslie went off like this, Campanula would be all his (Mac’s)
He had no idea of marrying her, or anything of that sort; but he had an
immense idea of possessing her all for himself.
He had, proposed to buy a half share in her at Nikko, and he would have
made a bad bargain, for during the last five years he had possessed a
full half share without paying a cent, unless we count the pounds and
pounds expended on dolls, sweets, and so forth.
But this was not like having her all to himself: a creature to feed and
clothe, to buy hairpins for and tabis, fans and sweets; to listen to of
an evening, as her fingers strayed over the strings of a _chamécen_, or
her tongue told fabulous tales of folk clad in fur or feathers.
All at once, as he paced the room, he turned to her, literally picked
her up, hugged her, gave her a kiss, and said: “He’ll come back to you.
Dinna greet; I canna stand it. I’ll be back and see you the morrow morn
before he goes.”
He hurried out of the house, and went raging down the hill.
To be in anger with one whom one loves works, indeed, like madness in
Mac, as he plunged down the hill, was lashing himself into a fury
against Leslie. He turned into a saki shop and drank half a pint of that
seemingly innocuous liquor; then he went to the office, took a whisky
bottle from a cupboard, and poured himself out a liberal peg.
He was an abstemious man as a rule, but once he took the bit between his
teeth nothing on God’s earth except death would stop him, till the next
morning’s headache came.
At five he recognized that he was hopelessly embarked on a grand drunk,
and determined to take a riksha over to Mogi; there complete the
business, and return in time next morning to see Leslie before he
Just before starting from the hotel a waiter brought him out a cablegram
from Shanghai, which had come round from the office. It was relative to
a bank disaster that had occurred in India. He read it, stuffed it into
his pocket, and ordered the Djin to proceed.