It was at the next turn that Nikko broke upon them, a long way off,
lying in its valley amidst the high hills, hills fledged with greenery
to their summit.
There are sights that strike the eye and the heart at the same time, and
the sight of Nikko where the Shoguns sleep, Nikko the beautiful in the
silent valley, amidst the silent hills, is one of these.
The delicate colors, the exquisite tracery of the temple roofs, the
crystal clearness of the air through which the eye can pick out detail
after detail, the atmosphere of tranquillity of the mountains, and the
green cryptomeria trees, make up a picture, leaving little for the heart
to desire, or the imagination to conceive.
“Why,” cried Leslie, turning to his companion (Campanula was seated
aloft in solitary state upon his shoulder clutching his hair tight,
whilst he held in one big hand her two little sandal-shod, tabi-clad
feet), “if that’s Nikko, it’s ten miles off if it’s a foot. What’ve you
got to say for yourself, hey?”
“A’weel,” said M’Gourley, glowering at Nikko, “if you want my candid
opeenion, we’ve juist gone astray; the country I know well, but these
dom roads lead one like a Jack o’Lanthorn. It’s my opeenion that a
“I don’t want your opinion on Japanese roads, I want your concise
opinion about yourself–ain’t you a fool?”
“Ay, ay,” said M’Gourley, as if considering the matter, “a fule I may
be, but it’s my candit opeenion that I’m not the only fule in Japan.”
“Well,” said Leslie, “fool or no fool, we’ll have to tramp it, and
you’ll have to take your turn to carry the kid, so–_Marchons_!”
Campanula, so far from being frightened at her awful elevation from the
earth, seemed to enjoy the situation, and to find food for a sort of
muse of her own, for she began to hum as Leslie took the road with his
long stride, and to sing in a lisping sort of way.
“What’s she singing?” demanded her bearer of the sweating Scot at his
“Lord knows! ’tis an eldritch chune, and I dinna like to listen to the
words. Man, Leslie, but your legs are longer than mine, and I canna keep
“Well, I’ll go slower if you’ll listen, and tell me what she’s singing.”
“She’s singing,” gasped M’Gourley, “s’ far as I can make out, some
diddering noensense aboot a sugar-candy dragon that a man like a poplar
tree is goin’ to hunt, he and a man like a corbie.”
“More like some bogle from the wood that’s maybe after us now. I am not
a supersteetious man–na, na! ye may laugh or not–but would y’ like to
know what in my humble opeenion you are cartin’ on your shoulders?”
“Some bairn that has been lost and dead these years, and has been
whustled up by that blind deevil with the pipe. What did she mean by
that reeference to the snaw–answer me that!”
“When I can get into the mind of a Japanese child, and see the world as
it sees it, I’ll answer you; you know what children’s minds are, how
they mix and imagine things.”
“What did she mean by that reeference to the snaw?” grimly went on
M’Gourley. “Mix or no mix, what did she mean by the other bairn being
lost in the snaw?”
“Well,” said Leslie, “I don’t care a button whether she’s a bogle or
not. If she is, she’s the prettiest bogle that was ever bogled, and
about the heaviest, I should think. Here, you take a turn with her, I’m
They took it turn about, M’Gourley vastly loth, to carry the Lost One;
and the Lost One stopped them to gather flowers for her by the wayside,
to give her drinks from rivulets, to help her admire and wonder at
herons and other marvels of the way, so that it was after six of the
clock when two of the most dusty and perspiring Scotchmen in the Eastern
Hemisphere entered the happy village of Nikko from the mountain side,
Campanula this time on Leslie’s shoulder, grave, triumphant, and holding
a huge lily in her hand.
Nikko and its surroundings just now was ablaze with scarlet japonica.
The lamps of the camellias were lit, the soaring wistaria vines had
broken into clusters of pale lilac blossoms, the iris beautified the
field, and the wild cherry the thicket. It was as if spring had called
from the tomb of Iyeyasu and her faithful had come to pray.
There are two hotels at Nikko known to the globe-trotter, “Kanayas” and
the “New Nikko,” but M’Gourley knew a better place than these.
As they passed down the long inclined street a baby with a shaved head,
a baby that was half a baby and half an obi, tied behind in a stiff and
preposterous bow, spied Campanula being borne aloft, dropped his
immediate business–the attempt to fly a kite shaped like a moth–and
followed the newcomers with a shout.
The shout, as if by magic, brought half a dozen children from nowhere in
particular; girl children with dolls on their backs, older girl children
with babies on their backs, boys battledore in hand, and all with clogs
on their feet, clogs that went clipper-clapper, waking up the echoes and
calling forth more children, so that when they had got half-way down the
mile-long street from the upper village Campanula had a “following,” the
like of which had never been seen, perhaps, since the pied piper passed
A colored, laughing, murmuring, rippling throng following with every eye
fixed on the Lost One borne sky-high on the shoulder of the tall
stranger; a throng, the half of which could have walked under a
dinner-table without much inconvenience; some empty-handed, some still
grasping their implements of play, all agog, yet of decent and orderly
behavior. A throng, in fact, of ladies and gentlemen in the making.
Backward over the summit of Leslie gazed Campanula upon this crowd,
whilst the stall-keepers and the stray riksha men, the pilgrims and the
paupers, the priest and the policeman, stood by the way to watch the
“I say,” called Leslie to his companion, who was limping behind dead
beat, yet in an agony at the “splurge” they were making, “this is gay,
“Dod rot the child!” cried M’Gourley, nearly tumbling over a fat baby
with a tufted head, who was running in front of him and trying to look
up in his face.
“I dinna ken whoat ye mean by gay. I have no immeediate particular use
for the waurd. Never before have I been held up to public reedicule. I’m
a decent livin’ man, ye ken, an’ I ha’na any use for such gayeties. I
leave them to ithers who care for makin’ assinine eediots of
theirselves; but, thank the Laird, we’re nearly there noo.”
They turned a corner and entered a gate that led to a garden.
At the gate M’Gourley turned and addressed the camp followers, telling
them with forced politeness that there was nothing more to be seen; that
the show was over, in fact, and asking them honorably to excuse him the
pleasure of being followed any more.
The crowd murmured, and dissolved, the earth seemed to take it up like
blotting-paper, and M’Gourley, turning his back upon its remnants, led
the way through the garden, past a tiny lake in the midst of which stood
an island, inhabited by a huge frog, and so, by a path, to the front of
a long, low, white-washed house.
This was the Tea House of the Tortoise, a place well known to M’Gourley,
as (to use his own abominable expression) being “cheap and clean.”
A panel of the front was drawn back, revealing cream-white matting and
M’Gourley sat down with a sigh on the side of the veranda, and began to
pull off his elastic side boots. Leslie sat down also, with Campanula in
his lap; he could not put her down for she had literally tumbled into
“Pull off my boots, Mac,” said he. “I can’t let go of this blessed
“Na!” said Mac mysteriously, and somewhat viciously, as he knelt down
and unlaced his partner’s boots, “ye cannot let her go, ye cannot let
her go; forby, she wullna let _you_ go.”
“You think she’s going to stick to me?”
“Imphim,” replied Mac.
Imphim is not Japanese, it is the double Scotch grunt, which has
twenty-two separate meanings, mostly unpleasant. Shut your mouth tight
and try to say “Hum, hum,” and you will achieve “Imphim,” but never do
it again, please.
Leslie was about to answer, when a sound behind made him turn, and
there, like a pinned-down butterfly, was a Mousmé on the mat, crying,
“Irashi, condescend to enter.”
M’Gourley–a most unengaging figure in his stocking feet–rose and
addressed the Mousmé.
He told her things in language unknown to Leslie; things about the
sleeping Campanula evidently, for he pump-handled with his arm in the
direction where Leslie, bootless now, sat holding her.
The Mousmé on her knees, a camellia blossom in her hair and her eyes
fixed upon M’Gourley, seemed fascinated. Then she called out and….
“Hai tadaima,” came a soft voice from somewhere in the back premises,
and a second Mousmé appeared, made obeisance, and listened whilst the
tale, whatever it was, was laid before her.
Deep astonishment, exclamations of wonder, a call:
“Hai tadaima!” and an old lady appeared, and made obeisance, and
listened whilst the thrice-told tale was told her by the two Mousmés and
M’Gourley all together.
Meanwhile Leslie, feeling ridiculously like a nursemaid, sat holding the
Lost One, whose soul was wandering in the vain land of dreams.
“What are you stuffing those creatures up with?” he suddenly broke out.
“Blessed if you oughtn’t to be dressed in a kimono and a petticoat;
you’re the biggest old woman of the lot. Ask one of them to take the
kid, or I’ll go off to the hotel with her.”
“One minit,” said Mac. “They’re conseedrin’ the matter.”
Scarce had he spoken when the old lady called out, and entered on the
scene, an old gentleman, the proprietor of the tea house, a black cat,
and two more Mousmés.
“Oh, _do_ call a few more!” said Leslie. “And call in a couple of
musicians and make the comic opera complete.”
“There are no more to call,” replied Mac. “They are conseedrin’ the
matter. The Japanese are a very supersteetious people, and these are
good friends of mine, and I would not spring a pairson upon them with
dootful anticeedents. You see, Leslie, man, the presence of the bairn
must be explained. She is not a bale of goods we can dump in a corner.
Bide a wee; I will talk them over yut.”
The Areopagus was considering the question as to whether Campanula, if
admitted to the Tea House of the Tortoise, would bring ruin and
destruction or a blessing on the premises, when Hedgehog San, the black
cat, settled the matter by coming up to Leslie and rubbing against his
Then the Hon. Hedgehog–may his ashes rest in peace!–jumped on Leslie’s
knee and rubbed himself against Campanula.
That clinched the business.
The old lady herself advanced, and, taking the Lost One from the Weary
One, carried her bodily into the house, whilst Leslie, yawning and
stretching himself, followed.
Inside, in the bare, clean room, the little Mousmé with the camellia in
her hair addressed herself to Leslie in a soft and beseeching voice.
“What does she want?” he asked of Mac.
“She wants to know if you require anything.”
“A bath–that’s what I want more than anything–don’t you?”
“I am not given to promeescuous bathing,” said M’Gourley, “being greatly
subject to the siatickee; but a bath you wull have, and I’ll e’en sit
here and smoke a pipe whilst you bathe yourself.”
“I want also a sugar-candy dragon for the bairn,” said Leslie. “Ask ’em
to send out and get one. I suppose you can get such things?”
M’Gourley gave the message to the maid, and she departed.
The travelers’ luggage–a frightful-looking old mid-Victorian carpet bag
belonging to M’Gourley, and a Gladstone of Leslie’s–had already arrived
at the tea house, having been sent on by rail _via_ Utsu-no-Miya, and
the two sat down on small square cushions, placed on the cream-colored
matting, to smoke a pipe, whilst dinner and the bath were preparing.
“The police will be here the morn about that bairn,” said Mac in his
cheerful way, “and we’ll have to acoont for her.”
“Of course we will.”
“Ay, ay,” said Mac, “but have you ever acoonted for a thing to the
“Well, considering I’ve only been in Japan ten days, I haven’t had much
time, you see, to fall foul of the police.”
“I found a scairf pin once,” said this comforter of Job, “on the Bund at
Nagasaki. Twa-and-sax-pence it was worth, or maybe three shullin’, and I
took it to the police office and began to acoont for it.”
He stopped and sighed and sucked his pipe.
“Well, I’m acoontin’ for it still, and that’s three months ago; letters
and papers, and papers and letters enough to drive a man daft! Well, I’m
thinkin’ if a twa-and-saxpenny scairf pin can cause such a wully waugh,
what’s a live bairn going to do? Now, I’m thinking–”
“May I give you a piece of advice, Mac?”
“I am always open to judeecious advice,” answered the unsuspecting Mac.
“Well, don’t think too much or you’ll hurt yourself.”
M’Gourley grunted, and at that moment the Mousmé with the camellia in
her hair entered with the announcement that the bath was ready in the
room above, and Leslie departed.
“When you have shown the honorable gentleman the bath, come down; I wish
to speak to you,” said M’Gourley to the lady of the camellia. She obeyed
the request and M’Gourley held her in light conversation, till he knew
by the sounds above that his partner was in the tub. Then he released
the handmaiden, and she departed upstairs.
He listened, and presently he heard Leslie’s voice.
“Go away, please. Good heavens I say, I _wish_ you’d go away! No, I
don’t want soap. I say, Mac! Hi, McGourley!–leave my back
But M’Gourley, like an Indian Sachem, smoked on and answered not.
He was having his revenge for the Nikko road.
They had finished dinner; a dinner which began with tea and bean flour
cakes, passed on to fish served on little mats of grass, went on to soup
served in lacquered bowls, proceeded to prawns; halted, hesitated, and
went back to soup, scratched its head, so to speak, and then, as if with
an after-thought, served up a quail, apologized for the substantiality
of the quail by presenting a salted plum on a little plate, and then
harked shamelessly back to soup, ending deliriously with a shower of
little dishes containing everything inconceivable, and a big bowl of
This is an impressionist picture of a Japanese dinner. I have eaten
many, but I have never carried away more than an impression, and whether
kuchi-tori comes before hachiz-a-kana, I cannot say, or where the
seaweed or salted fish come in–but come in they do, they and other
things stranger than themselves.
A _chamécen_ was thrumming somewhere in the house as they dined, sitting
on the soft white matting, and waited upon by two Mousmés crouched on
the matting like little panthers preparing to spring.
A slid back panel of the front wall made a doorway through which they
could see the moon wandering over Nikko, casting her cool white light
upon the blazing japonica flowers, the glory of the camellias, the roofs
of the temples, and the sad dark beauty of the cryptomeria trees.
Nikko by day is fair, but by night, when the moon is overhead, when the
air is full of the sounds of wandering waters, and the wind is heavy
with the perfume of the wild azaleas, Nikko is a dream.
When the tea and bean cakes had been served, the moon was in the act of
washing weakly a house gable across the garden, and a pale lilac-colored
flower of the wistaria, which projected above the extemporized doorway;
but by the time the quail had made its appearance, the garden was solid
in moonlight, the pond was a mirror, and the frog self-marooned on the
little island, was as distinct as if seen by daylight.
“I must learn Japanese,” said Leslie, taking a cigarette-case from his
pocket and lighting a cigarette at the tobacco-mono that stood at his
elbow. “My lines are cast in Japan, that’s clear, but a man without the
language is a helpless baby.”
“Ay, ay,” said M’Gourley. “You can easily get instruction in the
Japanese: take a wumman to live with you.”
“I haven’t looked at a woman for ten years, and I don’t want to look at
one again.” Then suddenly bursting out: “Why, you old scamp, talking
like that–you told me you were a member of the Free Kirk.”
“The Wee Kirk,” corrected Mac, leisurely lighting his pipe with an ember
from the hibachi.
“Well, Free Kirk or Wee Kirk, you ought to be jolly well ashamed of
yourself; and were you a member of the Wee Kirk when you were
constructing idols in Birmingham with old What’s-his-name?”
“Na, na; those were my godless days. I got my releegion late in life,
and a vara good releegion it is; a waurkable releegion, one that does
not heat in the bearings, but runs smooth.”
“And what is this wonderful religion, if I may ask?”
“It is noet so much wonderful as waurkable, and it may be compreezed in
the sentence: ‘Do unto ithers as ithers would do unto you.'”
“O good Lord! and you call that a religion! Why, you precious old
humbug, that means you can rob, and plunder, and murder, and cheat–that
is to say, you can act like a beast towards people who would act so to
“Well, there’s one thing I like about you, you’re frank, to say the
least of it.”
This remark seemed greatly to incense Mac, who, perhaps, misunderstood
the meaning of the word frank.
“When y’ve been in the waurld as long as I have, surrounded on ivry side
by scoondrels and robbers, y’ll maybee be as fraunk as mysel’.
Fraunk.–wid ye give me a defineetion of the waurd–fraunk! I wid have
ye to understand I’m an hoenest mon with hoenest men, but _I’m a
scoondrel wi’ scoondrels_. Fraunk!” And so he went on, his Scotch accent
deepening as deepened his excitement, till at last he broke down into
Gaelic, and thundered his remarks at the hibachi, slapping his thigh as
he did so, and wakening the echoes of the house, which was resonant as a
fiddle. So that by the time he had got to the end of his exordium,
Leslie saw a panel waver back an inch, and the lady of the camellia
peeping in to see what the Learned One was shouting about.
“Keep your hair on,” said Leslie, when Mac, with a final “Fraunk!”
delivered in English, began to refill and light his pipe. “I didn’t mean
to insult you; I only meant to say I like your open-heartedness.”
“Ay, I was ever that to those I had a liking for.”
“I meant more precisely your open-mindedness–but no matter, let’s talk
of something else. I wonder where they’ve put the kid, and oh, by Jove!
I wonder if they’ve got that dragon. Sing out and ask, like a good
Mac clapped his hands, and “Hai tadaima!” came as a response.
It was worth the trouble of clapping one’s hands to hear that sweet
A moment later, a panel slid back and the camellia lady appeared.
Campanula San was asleep, and at that very moment Wild-cherry-bud was in
search of the Hon. Dragon, with orders to leave no confectioner’s stall
unvisited till she had secured him.
This with immovable gravity and deep, sweet earnestness of tone.
“Well,” said Leslie when she had withdrawn, “of all the people I have
struck yet, give me the Japanese.”
“Wait till you’ve had beesiness transactions with them,” said Mac
darkly. “I am no so unfreenly to the Japs in or’nary life, but in
beesiness the Jap’s a wrugglin’ sairpent–all but one–Danjuro–the man
we’re going to join in partnership; he’s as straight as a Chinee.”
“He must be damn crooked then!”
“Cruik’d enough to make his way in Japan, but straight enough to a
freend; but you’re a poet, man, Leslie, and no beesiness man. I kent y’
for a poet when you sang that bit song on the road–the song aboot the
“That rubbish! It’s not mine; I read it in the Sydney _Bulletin_. Funny
enough, too, it was the first thing that made me think of coming to
Japan! Poetry! Good God! Put a man through the remittance mill in Sydney
and see all the poetry that will be left in him! Put a butterfly through
a sausage machine and then see how beautifully it will fly! Yes, I was
once a poet; years and years ago I was a poet–a poet who never wrote
anything, but a poet for all that. I could see the beauty of the world;
and then they blinded me. Who? I don’t know–the world. Maybe it was
myself, maybe not. Maybe it was my father, maybe not. I only state the
fact that something in me is dead–the something that took joy in life
and found beauty in innocence–or was dead till I came to Japan. Oh,
M’Gourley, man, the years I’ve spent in Sydney under a cloud, mixing
with bar loafers, cursing my father and myself; the years I’ve spent in
Sydney have broken my soul in me!”
“Why did ye not waurk?”
“Work! I had just enough money to keep me from starvation and decently
dressed. I might have got a clerkship; for what good? To make another
hundred a year. To spend on what? Can you not understand, man, that my
mainspring was gone, that I was put out of the world I knew, tied by the
leg to Sydney, bound to appear every quarter-day at the double-damned
lawyer’s office, or starve? Two things only kept me alive–tobacco and
books–saved me from myself and from drink.”
“What sort of a mon was your faither?”
“A hard, dour, just man–a man who could make no allowance for folly.”
“Ay, ay! Had y’ any brithers and sisters?”
“Never a one, and my mother died when I was two; and he used to leather
me. Well, you can fancy my joy when old Bloomfield, the lawyer, sent for
me one day and said: ‘I’ve bad news for you, Mr. Leslie.’ ‘What’s that?’
said I. ‘Your father is dead. He died intestate, and you have inherited
his property. I am advised it amounts to over twenty-one thousand
“Twenty-one thousand?” said Mac in admiration.
“Yes; and I said to Bloomfield: ‘You must be either a fool or a
hypocrite, for that’s the best news I ever heard in my life, and you
know it.’ Then some instinct took me over here to Japan. I was thinking
of going to England, but I found all at once I had a horror of England
and the English, so I came to Japan; and glad I am I came. Can you fancy
what these people here are to me after the population of Sydney–those
raucous, horse-racing, drink-swilling beasts? Then I fell in with you at
Tokyo, and took a fancy to your old Scotch mug–and here we are.”
At this moment a little figure crossed the garden, bearing a lantern on
the end of a stick. It was Wild-cherry-bud; and presently she appeared
with the much-sought-for dragon wrapped in rice paper.
It was a wonderful creation with a twisted tail, rather stumpy wings,
but with a mouth that made up for all defects; nothing so ferocious had
ever perhaps before been done in sugar candy.
When the thing had been inspected and approved, Wild-cherry-bud led the
way to where Campanula slept, for Leslie wished his present to be placed
beside her, so that she might find it when she awoke.
The Lost One, looking very much lost indeed on a huge futon (a quilt
thicker than a muffin), and covered by a blue mosquito-net with red
bound edges, was so profoundly asleep that the clicking of the net being
pulled aside and the light of the night lantern borne by Wild-cherry-bud
did not disturb her. She was sleeping on her back, the top futon only
drawn to her waist, and her little perfectly shaped white hands were
crossed pathetically on her breast.
Leslie knelt down, and lifting one little hand placed the long-sought
monster beneath it. The hand clasped the dragon, the long-sought dragon,
and across the sleeper’s face passed what seemed the ghost of a smile.
“A’weel!” thought Mac as he looked on, “had he a bairn he’d make a
better faither to it than his own faither made to him.”
Then the mosquito-net was drawn and they departed, leaving Campanula to
the possession of her dreams.
Up in their room Leslie steadily refused to undress till the waiting
Mousmé had “cleared out.” He had already refused to allow her to rub his
back when he was in his tub and now this–
The Tea House of the Tortoise people, good old-fashioned, Japanese inn
people, unused to foreign follies, could not make it out.
The Areopagus convened itself again, and held council by the light of an
andon, or night lantern.
“What could it mean?” There was simply no meaning in it. Such a thing
had never happened before, and the general conclusion was that Leslie
had “gone gyte.”
Then the Areopagus went to bed all together under the same mosquito-net,
and silence reigned with the moon over the Tea House of the Tortoise.
The moon wandering over Nikko touching temple and tea-house pointed a
pallid finger between the window chinks of the room where the Lost One
lay asleep, as if to show her to the night. Clasping the candy dragon
whose ferocious eyes shone carbuncle-like in the placid moonlight she
made a strange picture, veiled by the blue gauze of the mosquito-net.