The “Jap Rubbish trade” was prospering mildly.

During the first two years it seemed likely to languish and die, but in
the third year it woke up, got on its legs, and, to use M’Gourley’s
phrase, “began to pick a bit.” In the fourth year it was bringing Leslie
in some two hundred a year, a fair amount considering the capital
originally invested in it.

Not that he wanted the money, he kept his interest in the thing just for
something to do–a toy business to play with when he was otherwise

As for Mac, he was getting rich, not out of the Rubbish trade, but in a
manner we will hint at later on.

The House of the Clouds remained unaltered, save for a tiny landscape
garden not much bigger than a dining-table which Leslie had laid out for
Campanula. It lay beyond the garden walk in front of the veranda, and it
had mountains and rivers and savannas of moss, and old oak trees,
fierce-looking, but not much bigger than your thumb, and twisted fir
trees that reflected themselves gloomily in lakes the size of
hand-mirrors, and a Shinto temple about the size of a Buszard’s Dundee
cake; there were also bridges across the rivers.

The thing had been laid out as a New Year’s gift for Campanula, and it
had cost Leslie about the price of a Steinway Grand.

Azalea bushes grew right up to it, azaleas bordered the house, and there
was a wilderness of azaleas in the open space near the cherry trees.

Crimson azaleas, imported all the way from the azalea valley at Nikko in
the very first year of Leslie’s residence in Nagasaki. It was a pretty
thought, and it had cost a good penny, and caused much grumbling from
Mac, and great admiration in Mr. Initogo, who had turned out the most
delightful of landlords, a good hand at whist, and most adaptable about
repairs. He was a modern Japanese agnostic when he was well, was Mr.
Initogo, and a Shinto when he was ill or in trouble; but he was an
all-round good landlord at all times.

One bright afternoon Leslie was seated beneath the cherry trees in a
deck chair, his hat tilted back, and the pipe he had just been smoking
lying on the ground at his feet. He was asleep. Lately he had been
suffering from a touch of fever and chills caught on a duck-shooting
expedition down the coast; he had been taking opium for it, and now as
he sat beneath the cherry trees the opium was troubling his dreams.

Just before dropping off, his eye had fallen on a single azalea blossom
that had burst into flame, as if spring had just touched off with her
torch the fire of crimson flowers that soon would blaze round the house.

Then he fell asleep, and Opium plucked the crimson blossom, and followed
him with it into the land of dreams.

He was in a Hongwanji temple, and there were people there, Europeans
seemingly, dressed in European clothes; but though in a specious
disguise, they were soon perceived to be not the people of this earth.
They had strange and distorted faces, and forms that surely never were
made in God’s image. One man, who suddenly hid himself behind a screen
of lacquer, Leslie could have sworn was made of stone.

Then in great tribulation of spirit he was escaping from the company of
these people, passing down a corridor where soft matting took the foot;
but something was following him with a hissing sound, a sound such as
Danjuro made by way of welcome when you entered his shop. Of a sudden
the opium spirit touched the corridor wall with the flower he had been
patiently carrying, the Hongwanji temple vanished, and Leslie found
himself on the Nikko road.

The valley of azaleas lay before him and the mournful cypress trees, the
country where the moving clouds cast their shadows, and the far blue
hills beyond.

There was something moving amidst the azaleas. He knew it was a child,
but, by some curious and subtle freak of the opium fiend, the child was
hidden from him, all but vague glimpses; were it to make itself half
visible for a second a phantom azalea bush would come before it, but he
could see a tiny white hand busy plucking the crimson blossoms.

Then from somewhere far away through the dream came the mournful toot,
toot, of a blind man’s reed-pipe. At first it seemed beyond the bend of
the road, and then it seemed amidst the azaleas, and then in the wood of
cypress trees. It grew more insistent and piercing, and changed subtly
into the sound he had once heard on the Nikko road when, sitting with
M’Gourley, he had listened to the tune of the blind juggler with the

As he listened, shuddering, he saw something which he at once knew to be
the reason of the music and the soul of the opium drama that was
unfolding before him.

A tiny black dot was visible in the sky away over the distant hills. It
expanded and grew, dilated as if in response to the enchanted music. And
then he saw that it was a bird; a vast bird, larger than an eagle, a
ferocious and awful bird, a tragic apparition called up from the lands
of night. It poised above the valley, seeming to float and be upborne,
not on air, but on the music welling from the wood.

He knew that if he could get to the half-seen child amidst the azaleas
he could save it from its fate. But he could make no movement nor utter
a sound, but stood paralyzed, watching the tiny white hand plucking the
crimson flowers and the Horror above preparing to strike.

The music had now turned to a drone, a sound like the spinning sound of
a vast top. The thing in the air circled and span. He knew it was
preparing to fall like a thunderbolt.

Then he awoke.

He saw the garden, the cherry trees, the house. Opium land had vanished,
but the music remained, ringing in his ears; or was it real?

He sprang to his feet and staggered along the path leading to the gate
looking wildly round him and listening. As he came, the sound died off;
died and turned to the sound of ordinary life, the hum from the city
below, the sound of the wind in the lilac trees, the tune of ceaseless

“My God! what a dream!” he muttered as he grasped the gate and stared
down the lilac-shadowed path. Then he returned slowly to the seat
beneath the cherry trees, and lit a cigarette.

Opium had played a trick upon him like this before. He had taken it
first months ago for fever; since then he had taken it occasionally for
the slightest ache. He reacted well to it sensually speaking, and found
it at once soothing and stimulating. Once before it had pushed him into
dreamland, but a dreamland without plot or plan, and unstained by a
horror such as he had just witnessed.

He was seated half drowsing, when suddenly some influence made him look
up and he saw before him a lovely thing. It was Campanula. She had just
come out of the house by way of the veranda, and was approaching him.
Campanula, far removed from the child he had carried on his shoulder
into Nikko five years ago.

The child had turned into a girl with that rapidity of transformation
characteristic of the women of Japan. She was taller than the ordinary
Mousmé of fourteen or fifteen; her face, even to Western eyes, was
beautiful with a sad and mysterious beauty of its own, and her every
movement was graceful as the movement of a bluebell when touched by the

She had ceased to attend the mission school after nearly four years’
instruction, during which she had grasped the art of speaking and almost
of thinking in English, and was now Leslie’s housekeeper, his adopted
daughter, and absolute ruler of the small domain known as the House of
the Clouds–as far, that is to say, as the household affairs went.

She still retained her childishness of mind, and for all the Christian
endeavor of the missionaries, she still retained much of her pristine
belief in “things”–things with wings as well as hoofs, things that
lived in woods, birds that talked, and beasts that made answer.

Though she could speak English, she never spoke in long sentences, or
told a connected tale in that language, always falling back on the
vernacular when her imagination was roused, or a long and connected
statement had to be made.

She was approaching Leslie now with a porcelain bowl figured with storks
in her hand, and a smile upon her face. There was little mat on the
ground near his chair, and on this she sat down–kneeling fashion–with
the bowl before her.

“See!” said she, producing some things like small gun wads from the
sleeve of her kimono, “I bought these to-day to give you pleasure. Oh,
so beautiful! Watch!”

She cast one of the ugly discs upon the surface of the water. It lay
there for a moment unchanged, and then, as if by magic, began to expand
as it sucked up the fluid, and break up, growing bigger and broader till
at last on the surface of the water floated three pink-tinted
lotus-flowers, a most delicate and perfect resemblance of the real

She folded her hands and looked up at him with a happy smile.

“Where did you get them?” asked Leslie.

“M’Gourley San told me of them, he wished to buy them for me–but I
bought them for you.”

She removed the lotus-flowers and cast another disc on the water.

Leslie watched her. During the last few months Campanula’s attitude to
him had changed. From a happy, humble, and somewhat heedless thing–a
creature that regarded him with affection–an affection of about the
same strength as she exhibited for M’Gourley, Sweetbriar San, the cat,
and her children schoolmates; she had become a follower of his alone,
always striving to please him, forestalling his wants, always happy in
his presence, and drooping–unknown to him–when he was away.

The second wad under the influence of the water broke up and began to
form the branch of a cherry tree covered with blossom.

“Arashiyama,” murmured she, folding her small hands and speaking
dreamily, as if communing with herself. Then she sat watching the branch
of the cherry tree expanding over the surface of the water.

From the house came a somewhat discordant voice singing a song about a
bee and a lilac bough.

It was Pine-breeze singing at her work. Moon, Plum-blossom, and Snow,
with their fictitious mother Fir-cone, had vanished from the House of
the Clouds two years and more, giving place to Pine-breeze, a miracle of
daintiness and prettiness, and two other Mousmés, one “rather old,” the
cook, Lotus-bud by name, and the other named Cherry-blossom, as pretty
as Pine-breeze.

“Listen!” said Campanula, suddenly looking up from the bowl and its
contents. “There is some one at the gate.”

Leslie half turned.

A man and woman had passed through the gateway shadowed by lilac, a
short, stout man dressed in tweed and a tall woman in blue serge.

Leslie could see them only indistinctly from where he sat, and they, not
looking in his direction, failed to see him at all.

They were coming up to the veranda when the woman turned to the little
picture garden, laughed, and pointed it out to her companion. Then she
left the path, stepped gingerly right into the middle of the landscape
garden country, and tried to pluck up an oak tree, a gnarled and
ancient-looking oak tree eight inches high.

“Who?” asked Campanula, turning from the sight of this outrage with
uplifted forefinger.

“They are Foreign Devils,” said Leslie using the Chinese idiom. He was
very pale, leaning forward in chair. “Look, Campanula! I verily believe
she is trying to tear up your mountains to see how they grow. That’s
what they call in England ‘cheek,’ Campanula.”

The female Foreign Devil having failed to uproot the oak, which clung to
its native soil with a tenacity highly Japanese, returned to the garden
path. And then came the voice of Pine-breeze kow-towing to the
strangers, bidding them welcome, and imploring them to make the
honorable entrance.

They passed from view into the house, and Leslie rose from his chair.

“Wait here awhile, Campanula,” he said, “and then follow me in. I think
I know them, but I will go and see.”

“Yes,” said Campanula.

He walked to the house and kicked his garden shoes off in the veranda,
noting the fact that the Foreign Devils had committed the unspeakable
outrage of entering with their shoes on.

“_Richard!_” cried the tall woman, advancing to him with outstretched
hand as he entered the room where they were. “Why, you’ve grown!” She
spoke as though they had parted yesterday, but her voice had an
hysterical quaver, then she presented her cheek to him for a cousinly

“This is Richard Leslie,” said the woman, turning to the little stout
man in tweed. “We grew up together; that’s why I’m so tall, I suppose.
Dick–my husband George. Gracious, Dick, where are your chairs and
things? Have you nothing to sit down on?”

“Only the floor,” said Leslie, fetching some square cushions and placing
them on the matting. “See, this is how it’s done,” and he sat down on
one of the cushions, whilst his companions followed suit.

Jane du Telle, once Jane Deering, was, despite her vivacity and
carelessness of manner, evidently in a state of high nervous tension.

Leslie, notwithstanding the years that had passed since their last
meeting, saw in her mentally little change. She was the same Jane who
had once hacked his shins, when they were boy and girl together, up in
Scotland, and then flung herself on his neck in a burst of repentance
and tears. Emotional, good-hearted, selfish–giving herself away one
moment, but always saved the next by a latent discretion that was to her
flighty nature as a gyroscope. The same Jane with whom he had fished for
salmon and played at tennis in the past, seated before him now on a
floor in Japan, chattering of everything and nothing just in the old
familiar way.

“And that’s the fellow she has married!” thought he, as he glanced
across at George du Telle, a podgy, red-headed little man, a
globe-trotting Briton of the most blatant description.

“How did you know I was here?” asked he, after Jane had somewhat talked
her hysterical feelings off.

“Mr. Channing told us last night at the hotel. He’s a friend of yours.
He told us he knew an Englishman named Richard Leslie living in the
native fashion, and I asked him if he was good-looking and tall and
dark, and he said, ‘Yes.’ He said you lived at the House of the
Clouds–sounds like an address in a dream, doesn’t it?–so we took
rikshas and came.”

She put her hand to her back, where the “floor stitch” had seized her.
The floor may be a convenient enough resting-place for a Mousmé who
sinks down upon it quite naturally in the likeness of a compressed and
joyously colored Z, but for an English woman of five feet eight or more,
dressed in a tailor-made gown, and laced in a _corset parfait_ it is at
first rather difficult.

“I would have got chairs,” said Leslie, “if I had known you were coming;
but of all the people of the world, you were the last I expected to see.
Where did you come from? I mean, how did you strike Nagasaki?”

“We came from Colombo.”

“Beastly hole,” put in her husband, who was stroking Sweetbriar San, the
cat of the establishment, who had just come in to inspect the strangers.
“We stayed at the Beach Hotel two nights, and d’you know what they
charged us? Just think.”

“Don’t think,” said Jane, who had wriggled into a more comfortable
attitude. “Give me that cat, George; and I wish you would try to repress
your hotel bills. Dick, I was so sorry to hear the news about your

“What news?”

“About his death.”

“Well, you were sorrier than I was.”

“Oh, Dick! but don’t let us talk about it, it’s all so sad. And have you
been living here in Japan ever since?”

“Ever since.”

“Just like this on the floor?”

“Just like this on the floor.”

“You must find it rather flat, I should think,” said the carroty-headed

“Richard,” said Jane suddenly, ignoring her husband, “you’re not married
to a Japanese–or anything–are you?”


“Do you live here alone?”

“Well, I have three servant girls, and a daughter, if you call that

“A daughter!” said Jane.

“Yes; and she’s Japanese, too.”


“Yes; I adopted her.”

George du Telle snorted, and fortunately at that moment a panel slid
back, and Pine-breeze appeared with the tea, followed by Lotus-bud with
an hibachi and Cherry-blossom with a heap of tiny plates.

“Are these your–I mean is one of these your–”

“Daughter? No. Turn round, and you will see her,”

Jane was seated with her back to the drawn-back panel that made a
doorway on to the veranda. She turned, and there in the sunlit space
stood Campanula in her blue kimono, broad scarlet obi, and with a
scarlet flower in her hair. Behind her, as a background, lay the picture
garden, antique hills, spun-glass torrents, and tiny, twisted fir trees,
that looked, oh, so old, and tired of the world, and tormented by the

Campanula went right down on her knees upon the matting, and murmured
the usual Japanese welcome.

Now this was a practice that Leslie disliked. He had tried to break her
of it, and in the attempt he had come across a strange fact.

Campanula in her heart of hearts was a real child of Old Japan. She
might have been a sister to the seven-and-forty Ronins in the time
before Osaka was defiled by factory chimneys, and the monastery of
Kotoku-in by the presence of Cook’s tourists.

She tried honestly to be modern, as it was the wish of Leslie, but in
times of emotion, back her intellect would go to Old Japan, and she
would act as her ancestors had acted in who knows what lotus-strewn and
blossom-scented ages.

“What does she say?” asked Jane, as George du Telle rose to his feet.
“Tell me, and ask her to excuse me for not getting up, for when I get
up, I’ll have to be _pulled_ up.”

“She is bidding you welcome and at the same time apologizing for the
fact of her own miserable existence.”

“I accept the apology,” said Jane, as Campanula, her devotions over,
sank down before the tea-service, and prepared to act as hostess.
“Freely and frankly, Dick, I must congratulate you on your taste–she is

Campanula looked up with a faint, apologetic smile.

“I speak English,” she said.