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along the ground and dies. Do you know the Japanese name for wisteria?
It is _fuji_ - Fujinami Asako. If you have any difficulty ever, come
and talk to me. You see, I, too, am a rich woman; and I know that it
is almost as difficult to be very rich as it is to be very poor."

* * * * *

Captain Barrington and the ex-Ambassador were sitting on one of the
benches of the terrace when the ladies rejoined them.

"Well, Daddy," the Countess addressed her husband in English, "what
are you talking about so earnestly?"

"About England and Japan," replied the Count.

As a matter of fact, in the course of a rambling conversation, Count
Saito had asked his guest:

"Now, what strikes you as the most surprising difference between our
two countries?"

Geoffrey pondered for a moment. He wanted to answer frankly, but he
was still awed by the canons of Good Form. At last he said: "This
Yoshiwara business."

The Japanese statesman seemed surprised.

"But that is just a local difference in the manner of regulating a
universal problem," he said.

"Englishmen aren't any better than they should be," said Geoffrey;
"but we don't like to hear of women put up for sale like things in a
shop."

"Then you have not actually seen them yourself?" said the Count.
He could not help smiling at the characteristic British habit of
criticising on hearsay.

"Not actually; but I saw the procession last month."

"You really think that it is better to let immoral women stray about
the streets without any attempt to control them and the crime and
disease they cause?"

"It's not that," said Geoffrey; "it seems to me horrible that women
should be put up to sale and exposed in shop windows ticketed and
priced."

Count Saito smiled again and said:

"I see that you are an idealist like so many Englishmen. But I am only
a practical statesman. The problem of vice is a problem of government.
No law can abolish it. It is for us statesmen to study how to restrain
it and its evil consequences. Three hundred years ago these women
used to walk about the streets as they do in London to-day. Tokugawa
Iyeyasu, the greatest of all Japanese statesmen, who gave peace to the
whole country, put in order this untidiness also. He had the Yoshiwara
built, and he put all the women there, where the police could watch
both them and the men who visited them. The English might learn from
us here, I think. But you are an unruly people. It is not only that
you object for ideal reasons to the imprisonment of these women; but
it is your men who would object very strongly to having the eye of the
policeman watching them when they paid their visits."

Geoffrey was silenced by the experience of his host. He was afraid,
as most Englishmen are, of arguing that the British determination to
ignore vice, however disastrous in practice, is a system infinitely
nobler in conception than the acquiescence which admits for the evil
its right to exist, and places it among the commonplaces of life.

"And how about the people who make money out of such a place?" asked
Geoffrey. "They must be contemptible specimens."

The face of the wise statesman became suddenly gentle.

"I really don't know much about them," he said. "If we do meet them
they do not boast about it."




CHAPTER XV

EURASIA

_Mono-sugo ya
Ara omoshiro no
Kaeri-bana._

Queer -
Yes, but attractive
Are the flowers which bloom out of season.


Although he felt a decreasing interest in the Japanese people,
Geoffrey was enjoying his stay in Tokyo. He was tired of traveling,
and was glad to settle down in the semblance of a home life.

He was very keen on his tennis. It was also a great pleasure to see
so much of Reggie Forsyth. Besides, he was conscious of the mission
assigned to him by Lady Cynthia Cairns to save his friend from the
dangerous connection with Yaé Smith.

Reggie and he had been at Eton together. Geoffrey, four years the
senior, a member of "Pop," and an athlete of many colours, found
himself one day the object of an almost idolatrous worship on the part
of a skinny little being, discreditably clever at Latin verses, and
given over to the degrading habit of solitary piano practicing on
half-holidays. He was embarrassed but touched by a devotion which was
quite incomprehensible to him; and he encouraged it furtively. When
Geoffrey left Eton the friends did not see each other again for some
years, though they watched each other's careers from a distance,
mutually appreciative. Their next meeting took place in Lady
Everington's drawing-room, where Barrington had already heard fair
ladies praising the gifts and graces of the young diplomat. He heard
him play the piano; and he also heard the appreciation of discerning
judgment. He heard him talking with arabesque agility. It was
Geoffrey's turn to feel on the wrong side of a vast superiority, and
in his turn he repaid the old debt of admiration; generosity filled
the gulf and the two became firm friends. Reggie's intelligence
flicked the inertia of Geoffrey's mind, quickened his powers of
observation, and developed his sense of interest in the world around
him. Geoffrey's prudence and stolidity had more than once saved the
young man from the brink of sentimental precipices.

For Reggie's unquestionable musical talent found its nourishment
in love affairs dangerously unsophisticated. He refused to consider
marriage with any of the sweet young things, who would gladly
have risked his lukewarm interest for the chance of becoming an
Ambassador's wife. He equally avoided pawning his youth to any of
the maturer married ladies, whose status and character, together with
those of their husbands, license them to practice as certificated
Egerias. His dangerous _penchant_ was for highly spiced adventuresses,
and for pastoral amourettes, wistful and obscure. But he never gave
away his heart; he lent it out at interest. He received it again
intact, with the profit of his musical inspiration. Thus his liaison
with Véronique Gerson produced the publication of _Les demi-jours_, a
series of musical poems which placed him at once in the forefront of
young composers; but it also alarmed the Foreign Office, which was
paternally interested in Reggie's career. This brought about his
banishment to Japan. The _Attente d'hiver_, now famous, is his candid
musical confession that the coma inflicted upon him by Véronique's
unconcern was merely the drowsiness of the waiting earth before the
New Year brought back the old story.

Reggie would never be attracted to native women; and he had not the
dry inquisitiveness of his predecessor, Aubrey Laking, which might
induce him to buy and keep a woman for whom he felt no affection. The
love which can exchange no thoughts in speech was altogether too
crude for him. It was his emotions, rather than his senses, which were
always craving for amorous excitement. His frail body claimed merely
its right to follow their lead, as a little boat follows the strong
wind which fills its sails. But ever since he had loved Geoffrey
Barrington at Eton it was a necessity for his nature to love some one;
and as the haze of his young conceptions cleared, that some one became
necessarily a woman.

He soon recognized the wisdom of the Foreign Office in choosing Japan.
It was a starvation diet which had been prescribed for him. So he
settled down to his memories and to _L'attente d'hiver_, thinking that
it would be two long years or more before his Spring blossomed again.

* * * * *

Then he heard the story of the duel fought for Yaé Smith by two young
English officers, both of them her lovers, so people said, and the
vaguer tale of a fiancé's suicide. Some weeks later, he met her for
the first time at a dance. She was the only woman present in Japanese
dress, and Reggie thought at once of Asako Barrington. How wise of
these small women to wear the kimono which drapes so gracefully their
stumpy figures. He danced with her, his right hand lodged somewhere in
the folds of the huge bow with the embroidered peacock, which covered
her back. Under this stiff brocade he could feel no sensation of a
living body. She seemed to have no bones in her, and she was as
light as a feather. It was then that he imagined her as Lilith, the
snake-girl. She danced with ease, so much better than he, that at the
end of a series of cannons she suggested that they might sit out the
dance. She guided him into the garden, and they took possession of a
rustic seat. In the ballroom she had seemed timid, and had spoken in
undertones only; but in this shadowy _tête-à-tête_ beneath the stars,
she began to talk frankly about her own life.

She told him about her one visit to England with her father; how she
had loved the country, and how dull it was for her here in Japan. She
asked him about his music. She would so like to hear him play. There
was an old piano at her home. She did not think he would like it very
much - indeed, Reggie was already shuddering in anticipation - or else?
Would she come to tea with him at the Embassy? That would be nice! She
could bring her mother or one of her brothers? She would rather come
with a girl friend. Very well, to-morrow?

On the morrow she came.

Reggie hated playing in public. He said that it was like stripping
naked before a multitude, or like having to read one's own love
letters aloud in a divorce court. But there is nothing more soothing
than to play to one attentive listener, especially if that listener
be feminine and if the interest shown be that personal interest, which
with so many women takes the place of true appreciation, and which
looks over the art to the artist.

Yaé came with the girl friend, a lean and skinny half-caste girl
like a gipsy, whom Yaé patronized. She came once again with the girl
friend; and then she came alone.

Reggie was relieved, and said so. Yaé laughed and replied:

"But I brought her for your own sake; I always go everywhere by
myself."

"Then please don't take me into consideration ever again," answered
Reggie.

So those afternoons began which so soon darkened into evenings, while
Reggie sat at the piano playing his thoughts aloud, and the girl
lay on the sofa or squatted on the big cushion by the fire, with
cigarettes within reach and a glass of liqueur, wrapped in an
atmosphere of laziness and well-being such as she had never known
before. Then Reggie would stop playing. He would sit down beside her,
or he would take her on his knee; and they would talk.

He talked as poets talk, weaving stories out of nothing, finding
laughter and tears in what she would have passed by unnoticed. She
talked to him about herself, about the daily doings of her home,
its sadness and isolation since her father died. He had been the
playfellow of her childhood. He had never grudged his time or his
money for her amusement. She had been brought up like a little
princess. She had been utterly spoiled. He had transferred to her
precocious mind his love of excitement, his inquisitiveness, his
courage and his lack of scruple; and then, when she was sixteen, he
had died, leaving as his last command to the Japanese wife who would
obey him in death as she had obeyed him living, the strict injunction
that Yaé was to have her own way always and in everything.

He left a respectable fortune, a Japanese widow and two worthless
sons.

Poor Yaé! Surrounded by the friends and amusements of an English
girl's life, the qualities of her happy disposition might have borne
their natural fruit. But at her father's death she found herself
isolated, without friends and without amusements. She found herself
marooned on the island of Eurasia, a flat and barren land of narrow
confines and stunted vegetation. The Japanese have no use for the
half-castes; and the Europeans look down upon them. They dwell apart
in a limbo of which Baroness Miyazaki is the acknowledged queen.

Baroness Miyazaki is a stupendous old lady, whose figure might be
drawn from some eighteenth-century comedy. Her late husband - and
gossip says that she was his landlady during a period of study in
England - held a high position in the Imperial Court. His wife, by
a pomposity of manner and an assumption of superior knowledge,
succeeded, where no other white woman has succeeded, in acquiring the
respect and intimacy of the great ladies of Japan. She has inculcated
the accents of Pentonville, with its aitches dropped and recovered
again, among the high Japanese aristocracy.

But first her husband died; and then the old Imperial Court of the
Emperor Meiji passed away. So Baroness Miyazaki had to retire from
the society of princesses. She passed not without dignity, like an
old monarch _en disponibilité_, to the vacant throne of the Eurasian
limbo, where her rule is undisputed.

Every Friday afternoon you may see her presiding over her little court
in the Miyazaki mansion, with its mixture of tinsel and dust. The
Bourbonian features, the lofty white wig, the elephantine form, the
rustling taffeta, and the ebony stick with its ivory handle, leads
one's thoughts backwards to the days of Richardson and Sterne.

But her loyal subjects who surround her - it is impossible to place
them. They are poor, they are untidy, they are restless. Their black
hair is straggling, their brown eyes are soft, their clothes are
desperately European, but ill-fitting and tired. They chatter together
ceaselessly and rapidly like starlings, with curious inflections in
their English speech, and phrases snatched up from the vernacular.
They are forever glancing and whispering, bursting at times into wild
peals of laughter which lack the authentic ring of gladness. They are
a people of shadows blown by the harsh winds of destiny across the
face of a land where they can find no permanent resting place. They
are the children of Eurasia, the unhappiest people on earth.

It was among these people that Yaé's lot was cast. She stepped into an
immediate ascendancy over them, thanks to her beauty, her personality
and, above all, to her money. Baroness Miyazaki saw at once that
she had a rival in Eurasia. She hated her, but waited calmly for the
opportunity to assist in her inevitable collapse, a woman of wide
experience watching the antics of a girl innocent and giddy, the
Baroness playing the part of Elizabeth of England to Yaé's Mary Queen
of Scots.

Meanwhile, Yaé was learning what the Eurasian girls were whispering
about so continually - love affairs, intrigues with secretaries of
South American legations, secret engagements, disguised messages.

This seed fell upon soil well-prepared. Her father had been a
reprobate till the day of his death, when he had sent for his
favourite Japanese girl to come and massage the pain out of his wasted
body. Her brothers had one staple topic of conversation which they
did not hesitate to discuss before their sister - _geisha_, assignation
houses, and the licensed quarters. Yaé's mind was formed to the idea
that for grown-up people there is one absorbing distraction, which is
to be found in the company of the opposite sex.

There was no talk in the Smith's home of the romance of marriage,
of the love of parents and children, which might have turned this
precocious preoccupation in a healthy direction. The talk was of women
all the time, of women as instruments of pleasure. Nor could Mrs.
Smith, the Japanese mother, guide her daughter's steps. She was a
creature of duty, dry-featured and self-effaced. She did her utmost
for her children's physical wants, she nursed them devotedly in
sickness, she attended to their clothes and to their comforts. But she
did not attempt to influence their moral ideas. She had given up any
hope of understanding her husband. She schooled herself to accept
everything without surprise. Poor man! He was a foreigner and had
a fox (i.e. he was possessed); and unfortunately his children had
inherited this incorrigible animal.

To please her daughter she opened up her house for hospitality with
unseemly promptitude after her husband's death. The Smiths gave
frequent dances, well-attended by young people of the Tokyo foreign
community. At the first of these series, Yaé listened to the
passionate pleadings of a young man called Hoskin, a clerk in an
English firm. On the second opportunity she became engaged to him. On
the third, she was struck with admiration and awe by a South American
diplomat with the green ribbon of a Bolivian order tied across his
false shirt front. Don Quebrado d'Acunha was a practiced hand at
seduction and Yaé became one of his victims soon after her seventeenth
birthday, and just ten days before her admirer sailed away to rejoin
his legitimate spouse in Guayaquil. The engagement with Hoskin still
lingered on; but the young man, who adored her was haggard and pale.
Yaé had a new follower, a teacher of English in a Japanese school, who
recited beautifully and wrote poetry about her.

Then Baroness Miyazaki judged that her time was ripe. She summoned
young Hoskin into her dowager presence, and, with a manner heavily
maternal, she warned him against the lightness of his fiancée. When he
refused to believe evil of her she produced a pathetic letter full
of half-confessions, which the girl herself had written to her in
a moment of expansion. A week later the young man's body was washed
ashore near Yokohama.

Yaé was sorry to hear of the accident; but she had long ceased to be
interested in Hoskin, the reticence of whose passion had seemed like
a touch of ice to her fevered nerves. But this was Baroness Miyazaki's
opportunity to discredit Yaé, to crush her rival out of serious
competition, and to degrade her to the _demi-monde_. It was done
promptly and ruthlessly; for the Baroness's gossip carried weight
throughout the diplomatic, professional and missionary circles, even
where her person was held in ridicule. The facts of Hoskin's suicide
became known. Nice women dropped Yaé entirely; and bad men ran after
her with redoubled zest. Yaé did not realize her ostracism.

The Smith's dances next winter became so many competitions for the
daughter's corruption, and were rendered brilliant by the presence
of several of the young officers attached to the British Embassy, who
made the running, and finally monopolized the prize.

Next year the Smiths acquired a motor-car which soon became Yaé's
special perquisite. She would disappear for whole days and nights.
None of her family could restrain her. Her answer to all remonstrances
was:

"You do what you want; I do what I want."

That summer two English officers whom she especially favoured fought a
duel with pistols - for her beauty or for her honour. The exact motive
remained unknown. One was seriously wounded; and both of them had to
leave the country.

Yaé was grieved by this sudden loss of both her lovers. It left her
in a condition of double widowhood from which she was most anxious to
escape. But now she was becoming more fastidious. The school teachers
and the dagos fascinated her no longer. Her soldier friends had
introduced her into Embassy circles, and she wished to remain there.
She fixed on Aubrey Laking for her next attempt, but from him she
received her first rebuff. Having lured him into a _tête-à-tête_, as
her method was, she asked him for counsel in the conduct of her life.

"If I were you," he said dryly, "I should go to Paris or New York. You
will find much more scope there."

Fortunately fate soon exchanged Aubrey Laking for Reggie Forsyth. He
was just what suited her - for a time. But a certain impersonality in
his admiration, his fits of reverie, the ascendancy of music over his
mind, made her come to regret her more masculine lovers. And it was
just at this moment of dissatisfaction that she first saw Geoffrey
Barrington, and thought how lovely he would look in his uniform. From
that moment desire entered her heart. Not that she wanted to lose
Reggie; the peace and harmony of his surroundings soothed her like a
warm and scented bath. But she wanted both. She had had two before,
and had found them complimentary to one another and agreeable to her.
She wanted to sit on Geoffrey's knee and to feel his strong arms round
her. But she must not be too sudden in her advances, or she would lose
him as she had lost Laking.

It is easy to condemn Yaé as a bad girl, a born _cocotte_. Yet such
a judgment would not be entirely equitable. She was a laughter-loving
little creature, a child of the sun. She never sought to do harm to
anybody. Rather was she over-amiable. She wished above all to make
her men friends happy and to be pleasing in their eyes. She was never
swayed by mercenary motives. She was to be won by admiration, by good
looks, and by personal distinction, but never by money. If she tired
of her lovers somewhat rapidly, it was as a child tires of a game or
of a book, and leaves it forgotten to start another.

She was a child with bad habits, rather than a mature sinner. It never
occurred to her that, because Geoffrey Harrington was married, he at
least ought to be immune from her attack. In her dreams of an earthly
paradise there was no marrying or giving in marriage, only the
sweet mingling of breath, the quickening of the heart-beats like the
pulsation of her beloved motor-car, the sound as of violin arpeggios
rising higher and ever higher, the pause of the ecstatic moment
when the sense of time is lost - and then the return to earth on lazy
languorous wings like a sea-gull floating motionless on a shoreward
breeze. Such was Yaé's ideal of Love and of Life too. It is not for
us to condemn Yaé, but rather should we censure the blasphemy of mixed
marriages which has brought into existence these thistledown children
of a realm which has no kings or priests or laws or Parliaments or
duty or tradition or hope for the future, which has not even an acre
of dry ground for its heritage or any concrete symbol of its soul - the
Cimmerian land of Eurasia.

Reggie Forsyth understood the pathos of the girl's position; and being
a rebel and an anarchist at heart, he readily condoned the faults
which she confided to him frankly. Gradually Pity, most dangerous
of all counsellors, revealed her to him as a girl romantically
unfortunate, who never had a fair chance in life, who had been
the sport of bad men and fools, who needed only a measure of true
friendship and affection for the natural sunshine of her disposition
to scatter the rank vapours of her soul's night. What Reggie grasped
only in that one enlightened moment when he had christened her Lamia,
was the tragic fact that she had no soul.




CHAPTER XVI

THE GREAT BUDDHA

_Tsuki-yo yoshi
Tachitsu itsu netsu
Mitsu-no-hama._

The sea-shore of Mitsu!
Standing, sitting or lying
down,
How lovely is the moonlight
night!


Before the iris had quite faded, and before the azaleas of Hibiya were
set ablaze - in Japan they count the months by the blossoming of the
flowers - Reggie Forsyth had deserted Tokyo for the joys of sea bathing
at Kamakura. He attended at the Embassy for office hours during
the morning, but returned to the seaside directly after lunch. This
departure disarranged Geoffrey's scheme for his friend's salvation;
for he was not prepared to go the length of sacrificing his daily game
of tennis.

"What do you want to leave us for?" he remonstrated.

"The bathing," said Reggie, "is heavenly. Besides, next month I have
to go into _villegiatura_ with my chief. I must prepare myself for the
strain with prayer and fasting. But why don't you come down and join
us?"

"Is there any tennis?" asked Geoffrey.

"There is a court, a grass court with holes in it; but I've never seen
anybody playing."

"Then what is there to do?"

"Oh, bathing and sleeping and digging in the sand and looking at
temples and bathing again; and next week there is a dance."

"Well, we might come down for that if her Ladyship agrees. How is
Lamia?"

"Don't call her that, please. She has got a soul after all. But it
is rather a disobedient one. It runs away like a little dog, and goes
rabbit-hunting for days on end. She is in great form. We motor in the
moonlight."

"Then I think it is quite time I did come," said Geoffrey.

So the Harringtons arrived in their sumptuous car on the afternoon
before the dance of which Reggie Forsyth had spoken.

On the beach they found him in a blue bathing-costume sitting under an
enormous paper umbrella with Miss Smith and the gipsy half-caste girl.
Yaé wore a cotton kimono of blue and white, and she looked like a


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