The sun rose up and struck Nikko; struck the sacred red lacquered bridge
that crosses the foaming river, and the common bridge that you and I may
use, the potter’s shop, and the golden shrine of Iyeyasu.
Then temple after temple broke up from shadow as the sun reached for
them and found them, and the hills took on a momentary splendor, an
ethereal loveliness, evanescent as youth and never to be recaptured by
In the garden of the Tea House of the Tortoise a bomb-shell full of
bickering sparrows seemed suddenly to burst above the pond, the sun
looked over the wall upon the dwarf maples in their blue porcelain
flowerpots, a panel of the white house front slid back and a Mousmé
appeared, her head tied up in a blue cotton duster; appeared another
Mousmé, dragging a futon to air in the morning brightness, and yet
another who came out and yawned at the sun, showing him the full extent
of her pink gullet, and every one of her thirty-two white teeth.
Then Hedgehog San, a cat honored and beloved, came forth with tail
erect, and a grasshopper hanging by the veranda in a tiny cage creaked
forth a thin hymn of praise.
Thus started the day at the Tea House of the Tortoise.
When Leslie and M’Gourley came downstairs–a stair like a ship’s
companion-way but without any balustrade–they found Campanula having
her obi tied by Fir-branch (she who had yawned at the sun), and Leslie
was informed through his partner that the dragon had been found and that
he had grown; this statement, with some confidential information
concerning a thunder-cat of which she had dreamed, Mac translated from
the original with a serious face.
Up to this he had treated the Lost One as an adult, and as a most
undesirable adult, with whom he wished to have nothing to do. But
Campanula, fresh and spruce in the light of morning, chattering over her
shoulder to you about thunder-cats, whilst Fir-branch tied her obi in a
huge bow, was a person whose charm was not to be denied, and Mac began
“What’s a thunder-cat?” asked Leslie.
“Lord only knows! some contraption in the shape of an animal that makes
thunder. The Japs are full of supersteetions about animals. Wull we out
Leslie the night before had declared his intention of sending for the
police next morning before the police sent for him, and had given a
message to the landlord accordingly. But he might have saved his breath.
Nikko was agog. Whether the tale had leaked through the chinks of the
Tea House of the Tortoise, whether Wild-cherry-bud had distributed it
during her peregrinations in search of the dragon, no one will ever
know; the fact remains that the story of Campanula had gone abroad with
additions–all sorts of weird and wonderful additions. Half Nikko had
seen her borne aloft on the shoulders of Leslie, the other half had
heard extraordinary statements concerning her origin; the result was
that the whole of Nikko ached inwardly with a great ache of curiosity.
By seven o’clock fifteen Mousmés or maybe twenty, had arrived singly and
in couples, not to ask questions, but to borrow things, or to offer the
loan of things, or to ask after the health of old mother Ranunculus, the
landlady of the “Tortoise.” Incidentally they learned about Campanula.
A juggler had made her on the Nikko road. Out of what, for goodness’
sake? Out of a wild azalea bush!
Yes, assuredly, the Learned One had said so.
And what had become of the juggler? He had vanished in a clap of
thunder–turned into a dragon.
And they went off to spread the news.
At half-past eight, or thereabouts, a little man in white, the chief of
the Nikko police, arrived. He had come officially, but he also was
aching to get to the truth of this marvelous tale.
Now the Japanese police is the most perfect police force in the world in
every respect. They are recruited from the Samurai or fighting-class,
and they are gentlemen to a man.
The chief of the Nikko police made profound apologies for disturbing the
peace of the strangers, then he heard the story told by M’Gourley.
He agreed that it was strange, but opined that the Lost One might simply
be a lost child. Where exactly was she found? In a valley of crimson
azaleas on the road from Kureise. Ah, yes! there was such a valley well
known, for the azaleas were crimson, and differed from the wild scarlet
azaleas so common hereabouts. There were also villages around there, and
tea houses; it might possibly be that she belonged to one of these. As
to the mad man they had seen running away, no one else had seen him.
Then Campanula was brought in and questioned, the whole of the
“Tortoise” people squatting round in a ring, even down to Hedgehog San,
who sat with judicial gravity, and seemed to be taking mental notes.
She told her little tale about the house with the plum tree in front of
it, and the kite, and the sugar-candy dragon which she had lost and
found again. How the said dragon had grown very much, and seemed
different, but tasted all right. Here she hastened to explain that she
had not eaten him, only touched him with her tongue.
She could not possibly say what men called her father. He hammered
things. What sort of things? She did not know, but they went pong, pong,
pong, when he struck them.
“Tinsmith,” murmured M’Gourley.
She was sure of one thing, that her father’s house was quite close to
the wood and the azalea valley.
How old was she?
Seven times had the cherry blossoms blown since her humble self–
“Hauld there,” said M’Gourley. Then in Japanese he explained that
yesterday she had declared that eight times the cherry blossoms had
blown since her humble self, etc.
Ah, yes! but how was she to know? a lump of mud like her!
In conclusion, she took back her statement about the snow. She must have
dreamt that in the wood.
Then the court began to consult, the “lump of mud” sitting in their
midst pensive and rather sad, a scarlet flower in her black hair, and
the bow of her obi looking very stiff and huge.
“Look here,” said Leslie at last. “Tell him I’ll look after her, and pay
all expenses till she’s found. Tell him to have the place searched, all
that wood and country, and I’ll pay for it; and if they can’t find her
people I’ll adopt her. I will, begad!”
At first the chief of police seemed to think that the “lump of mud”
should be hauled off to the police office–impounded, in short; then
M’Gourley intervened. M’Gourley was a power in Japan just then, for the
astute Scot had made himself very useful to the government in past
years, and the chief of police, when he heard what Mac had to say,
agreed to leave matters where they were whilst the country was being
searched, and the chief of police at Tokyo communicated with.
Then he took his departure, and here began the prosperity of the Tea
House of the Tortoise.
Three elderly gentlemen in kimonos were the first to arrive; after them
a youth in a bowler hat, and with the face of an uninspired idiot. These
sat round and sipped saki and smoked little pipes, and talked to
Wild-cherry-bud and Fir-branch, and listened to the grasshopper singing
in his cage, whilst more guests arrived, and still more. So that
Fir-branch, Wild-cherry-bud, & Co., were full of business, so full
indeed that mother Ranunculus, driven to her wits’ end, sent out for
At eleven, when M’Gourley and his companion went out to inspect the
golden Shrines, the Tea House of the Tortoise was humming like a
“It’s a funny business,” said Leslie, as they turned the corner into the
“I’m thinkin’,” said Mac, “that you’ll no find it so funny a beesiness
in the end.”
“I don’t care a button,” said Leslie, on the third morning of their stay
in Nikko. “Danjuro may go be hanged. I’m not going to leave here till
I’ve settled about the kid.”
“Ay, ay!” said Mac. “The man who will to Cupar maun to Cupar. I would
only imprees upon you this, that time is going and time is money.”
“I know; but it won’t take more than a few days now. They say they’ve
hunted the whole country round there, and can’t find trace of her
“Na, and never will. If she has onny real people they won’t fash
themselves aboot her; girls in Japan are as plentiful as blaeberries in
Lorne–you’re sadlit with her.”
“Well, I want her, that’s the truth. I’ve taken a fancy to her; she’s
not the sort of thing one picks every day–she and her thunder-cats and
“I won’t say she is not an attractif wee boddie,” said Mac, “but think
of the future, mon, when she’s graun up.”
“Bother the future! I’m rich enough to see after her. D’y know, Mac–”
“I wonder did she come out of those azaleas?”
Mac gave a grunt.
Curiously enough, his point of view had changed, and he was now
convinced, or pretended to be convinced, that the treasure trove was a
solid body and no bogle.
“Because,” went on Leslie, “it may be fact or fancy, but when I picked
her up she seemed slipping away into thin air till I kissed her, and
then she became solid.”
“Imphim,” said Mac, using a variation of the sound that was simply
stuffed with meanings all uncomplimentary to Leslie’s intelligence.
“They used to tell me when I was a kid that babies came out of parsley
beds. Well, I’m half inclined to believe the tale has come true at last,
and she came out of those azalea bushes. Of course,” said Leslie
suddenly, and as if apologizing to his own common sense, “I don’t really
believe it, but I like to fancy it; it’s so much nicer than thinking she
came into the world the other way.”
The prosperity of the Tea House of the Tortoise still continued, people
coming from far and near to get a glimpse of the foundling.
Every day Mac and Leslie would take her out for a walk, and she clopped
beside them in her little clogs delightfully grave, and seemingly
unmindful of the polite following of children that always tailed after
them without appearing quite to do so. Children bouncing colored balls,
playing hop scotch or what not, yet always with an eye on the child that
had come out of the azaleas.
Shopping with Campanula Leslie found to be a new pleasure; a present, no
matter what, was received with such deep thankfulness, such quaint
expressions of gratitude.
He ordered Mother Ranunculus–requested her, rather–to get a complete
new outfit for his charge, everything that money could buy, from tabi to
hairpins, from kimonos to clogs. As for toys, she simply wallowed in
them: bouncing balls and battledores fell round her as if from the sky,
not to mention a doll as big as a baby of three, which she instantly
became a mother to, carting it about on her back tucked under her
The one thing that disturbed Leslie was her seeming indifference to her
own strange position. Beyond the bald statement that she had a father,
she never referred to that enigmatical gentleman, nor did she grieve,
outwardly at least, about her separation from him.
By the end of the week the two Scotchmen and their charge began to be
welded into a corporate body–a little quaint family party. It was
strange the influence of this child upon these two men whom fate had
drawn together from the corners of the earth. Leslie, with newly
acquired interest in life, had grown five years younger in mind, and as
for Mac, he had grown ten degrees more human. His withered fatherly
instincts were awakened–at least they opened one eye–and it was pretty
to see him with his gnarled, horny hands and intent, weather-beaten face
making chickens for the Lost One out of orange pips.
They would go out, all three, and wander about Nikko and its temples,
and they would sit on grassy banks in the gardens of Dai Nichi Do, just
as a father and an uncle and niece might sit on seats in Kensington
Gardens, and then Leslie and his partner would discuss the future and
trade, whilst Campanula played with her doll or bounced a ball.
Here one day, whilst the sun shone on the little lake and the pink and
copper maples, the tiny islands and bridges and pagodas, Campanula,
weary of play, told, in a sing-song voice and broken manner, the story
of Momotaro, otherwise called Peachboy, and his wonderful deeds. She
told it standing before them, and striking attitudes suitable to the
phases of the tale.
One day, it appears, an old woman found a huge peach, and she was just
going to cut it in two with a knife when the peach broke open, and out
tumbled a baby. This very surprising thing happened a long time ago, but
exactly when Campanula could not possibly say.
Then Peachboy grew up, and every day he grew fatter and stronger, till
at last he grew so big that he determined to fight Akudogi, the king of
the Ogres, who lived on an island–somewhere. And he started out, said
Campanula, with a sword and a bag full of millet dumplings, each with a
salted plum in the center, to fight the Ogres.
Here she took from her sleeve a paper of sweets, and gravely presented
it to her companions, who each took one. She took one herself, consumed
it, and resumed the narrative.
On the way he met a spotted dog, a monkey, and a crow, and to each he
gave a dumpling, and they followed him to the attack on Akudogi, the
king of the Ogres.
The narrator’s voice became deeper in tone, and she spread out her
fingers as if in fear.
The crow flew first to the castle of Akudogi and held him in talk,
whilst Peachboy, spotted dog, and the monkey, got over the castle wall.
Campanula was now standing before her auditors in a most dramatic
attitude, her hands uplifted, the fallen back sleeves of her kimono
showing her arms, and her brown eyes full of fear. She did not seem to
see either Leslie or M’Gourley. Her eyes were fixed on the frightful
Akudogi, and Peachboy, the spotted dog and the monkey, who were about to
The crow, when he saw that his companions had gained an entrance to the
castle, flew away with a laugh, and Akudogi turned and beheld Peachboy
and his brave companions. He gnashed his teeth, pulled out his sword,
Frightened to death with her own imaginations, she rushed with a little
shriek into Mac’s arms for protection.
“Hauld yourself taegether; I winna let them catch ye! I winna let them
catch ye!” cried Mac, as he clasped the perfumed bundle that had flung
itself into his arms.
“What’s all that she was telling?” asked Leslie, who felt rather jealous
that Mac should have been chosen as the harbor of refuge.
“Only a daft tale about ogres an’ spotted dogs. She’s clean crackit on
all sorts of queer beasties. Only last night she told me a tale aboot a
rat that played the fiddle an’ a tortoise that came to listen, and she
told what the tortoise speired an’ what the rat made answer, till you
could have sworn you heard the rat and the tortoise claverin’
“Well, hand her over here,” said Leslie; “she’s not yours.” And he took
Campanula from Mac and placed her on his knee. “She’s mine. I paid ten
shillings to that chap with the reed-pipe to whistle her up.”
“I’ll tell you what,” said Mac.
“I’ll gi’ you ten shullin’ for a half share, and pay half the expeenses
of her upbringing.”
“No, she’s mine; you can play with her as much as you like, but I’m
going to keep her. She’s the jolliest thing I ever struck, and I’m going
to stick to her. I saw that policeman Johnnie this morning, and he’s
quite given up hope of finding her people. They’ve hunted everywhere. I
offered him a fiver to cover the business, but he would not touch the
money. He says the chief of police at Tokyo knows you.”
“Weel does he know me, seven year and more.”
“And he says there’s no objection to our taking her along to Nagasaki if
you give your bond that she will be looked after, so I was thinking of
“Wull you take her with us?”
“I was thinking of leaving her with the ‘Tortoise’ people till I settle
about a place to live in at Nagasaki, and then coming back to fetch her.
She’ll be all right with them, I suppose?”
“Ay, she’ll be right enough,” said Mac, and they left the gardens of Dai
Nichi Do, and headed for the hostelry.
That night the Areopagus convened itself again, and M’Gourley explained
matters. It was necessary that he and his honorable friend should go to
Nagasaki, and they proposed that the Lost One should be left behind at
the Tea House of the Tortoise, to be kept till called for, warehoused,
in short, and, of course, paid for accordingly. Was Madame Ranunculus
A sum of money would be placed in the landlord’s hands as guarantee.
Oh, that was perfectly unnecessary!
Still, the Hon. Leslie wished it.
Accordingly, a sum equivalent almost to the value of the Tea House of
the Tortoise, was placed in the landlord’s hands, who placed it in
numerous folds of rice paper, and handed it to his wife, who engulfed it
in her kimono.
These matters having been satisfactorily settled, Campanula was led off
to bed and dinner was served.
Next morning at eight o’clock two rikshas arrived to take the travelers
to the station. The whole of the “Tortoise” folk, Hedgehog San included,
came to the front of the house. The cry, “Sayonara–come again quickly,”
followed them as they swept round the pond and out at the gate, a cry
made up of the landlord’s croaking basso, the sweet voices of the
Mousmés, and Campanula’s childish treble.
“She seemed sorrier to part with old Mac than me,” thought Leslie as
they span along. “Ugh!” He turned his head in disgust from an English
tourist in tweeds, who was engaged in kodaking a temple.
In the train, with a pipe in his mouth and M’Gourley opposite to him, he
felt as if he had just stepped out of a dream; a dream of sun and
splendor, a dream in which figured camellia trees twenty feet high, and
the form of the Lost One standing amidst the glory of crimson azaleas.
But another picture obtruded itself upon this pleasant dream.
Away in the mountains not far from Lake Chuzenji, a green thing had been
discovered, a thing that had once been a man. Mac had been to view it at
the request of the police, but he could not identify it as the body of
the Blind One of the Nikko Road. It was green from the chlorophyll of
the cryptomerias. In the quaint language of the Japanese police, it was
the body of a man whom “the trees had beaten to death.”