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´╗┐Title: Botchan (Master Darling)
Author: Natsume, Soseki, 1867-1916
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Botchan (Master Darling)" ***

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BOTCHAN (MASTER DARLING)

By The Late Mr. Kin-nosuke Natsume

TRANSLATED By Yasotaro Morri

Revised by J. R. KENNEDY

1919



A NOTE BY THE TRANSLATOR

No translation can expect to equal, much less to excel, the original.
The excellence of a translation can only be judged by noting how far it
has succeeded in reproducing the original tone, colors, style, the
delicacy of sentiment, the force of inert strength, the peculiar
expressions native to the language with which the original is written,
or whatever is its marked characteristic. The ablest can do no more, and
to want more than this will be demanding something impossible. Strictly
speaking, the only way one can derive full benefit or enjoyment from a
foreign work is to read the original, for any intelligence at
second-hand never gives the kind of satisfaction which is possible only
through the direct touch with the original. Even in the best translated
work is probably wanted the subtle vitality natural to the original
language, for it defies an attempt, however elaborate, to transmit all
there is in the original. Correctness of diction may be there, but
spontaneity is gone; it cannot be helped.

The task of the translator becomes doubly hazardous in case of
translating a European language into Japanese, or vice versa. Between
any of the European languages and Japanese there is no visible kinship
in word-form, significance, grammatical system, rhetorical arrangements.
It may be said that the inspiration of the two languages is totally
different. A want of similarity of customs, habits, traditions, national
sentiments and traits makes the work of translation all the more
difficult. A novel written in Japanese which had attained national
popularity might, when rendered into English, lose its captivating
vividness, alluring interest and lasting appeal to the reader.

These remarks are made not in way of excuse for any faulty dictions that
may be found in the following pages. Neither are they made out of
personal modesty nor of a desire to add undue weight to the present
work. They are made in the hope that whoever is good enough to go
through the present translation will remember, before he may venture to
make criticisms, the kind and extent of difficulties besetting him in
his attempts so as not to judge the merit of the original by this
translation. Nothing would afford the translator a greater pain than any
unfavorable comment on the original based upon this translation. If
there be any deserving merits in the following pages the credit is due
to the original. Any fault found in its interpretation or in the English
version, the whole responsibility is on the translator.

For the benefit of those who may not know the original, it must be
stated that "Botchan" by the late Mr. K. Natsume was an epoch-making
piece of work. On its first appearance, Mr. Natsume's place and name as
the foremost in the new literary school were firmly established. He had
written many other novels of more serious intent, of heavier thoughts
and of more enduring merits, but it was this "Botchan" that secured him
the lasting fame. Its quaint style, dash and vigor in its narration
appealed to the public who had become somewhat tired of the stereotyped
sort of manner with which all stories had come to be handled.

In its simplest understanding, "Botchan" may be taken as an episode in
the life of a son born in Tokyo, hot-blooded, simple-hearted, pure as
crystal and sturdy as a towering rock, honest and straight to a fault,
intolerant of the least injustice and a volunteer ever ready to champion
what he considers right and good. Children may read it as a "story of
man who tried to be honest." It is a light, amusing and, at the name
time, instructive story, with no tangle of love affairs, no scheme of
blood-curdling scenes or nothing startling or sensational in the plot or
characters. The story, however, may be regarded as a biting sarcasm on a
hypocritical society in which a gang of instructors of dark character at
a middle school in a backwoods town plays a prominent part. The hero of
the story is made a victim of their annoying intrigues, but finally
comes out triumphant by smashing the petty red tapism, knocking down the
sham pretentions and by actual use of the fist on the Head Instructor
and his henchman.

The story will be found equally entertaining as a means of studying the
peculiar traits of the native of Tokyo which are characterised by their
quick temper, dashing spirit, generosity and by their readiness to
resist even the lordly personage if convinced of their own justness, or
to kneel down even to a child if they acknowledge their own wrong.
Incidently the touching devotion of the old maid servant Kiyo to the
hero will prove a standing reproach to the inconstant, unfaithful
servants of which the number is ever increasing these days in Tokyo. The
story becomes doubly interesting by the fact that Mr. K. Natsume, when
quite young, held a position of teacher of English at a middle school
somewhere about the same part of the country described in the story,
while he himself was born and brought up in Tokyo.

It may be added that the original is written in an autobiographical
style. It is profusely interladed with spicy, catchy colloquials patent
to the people of Tokyo for the equals of which we may look to the
rattling speeches of notorious Chuck Conners of the Bowery of New York.
It should be frankly stated that much difficulty was experienced in
getting the corresponding terms in English for those catchy expressions.
Strictly speaking, some of them have no English equivalents. Care has
been exercised to select what has been thought most appropriate in the
judgment or the translator in converting those expressions into English
but some of them might provoke disapproval from those of the "cultured"
class with "refined" ears. The slangs in English in this translation
were taken from an American magazine of world-wide reputation editor of
which was not afraid to print of "damn" when necessary, by scorning the
timid, conventional way of putting it as "d--n." If the propriety of
printing such short ugly words be questioned, the translator is sorry to
say that no means now exists of directly bringing him to account for he
met untimely death on board the Lusitania when it was sunk by the German
submarine.

Thanks are due to Mr. J. R. Kennedy, General Manager, and Mr. Henry
Satoh, Editor-in-Chief, both of the Kokusai Tsushin-sha (the
International News Agency) of Tokyo and a host of personal friends of
the translator whose untiring assistance and kind suggestions have made
the present translation possible. Without their sympathetic interests,
this translation may not have seen the daylight.

Tokyo, September, 1918.



BOTCHAN (MASTER DARLING)


CHAPTER I

Because of an hereditary recklessness, I have been playing always a
losing game since my childhood. During my grammar school days, I was
once laid up for about a week by jumping from the second story of the
school building. Some may ask why I committed such a rash act. There was
no particular reason for doing such a thing except I happened to be
looking out into the yard from the second floor of the newly-built
school house, when one of my classmates, joking, shouted at me; "Say,
you big bluff, I'll bet you can't jump down from there! O, you
chicken-heart, ha, ha!" So I jumped down. The janitor of the school had
to carry me home on his back, and when my father saw me, he yelled
derisively, "What a fellow you are to go and get your bones dislocated
by jumping only from a second story!"

"I'll see I don't get dislocated next time," I answered.

One of my relatives once presented me with a pen-knife. I was showing it
to my friends, reflecting its pretty blades against the rays of the sun,
when one of them chimed in that the blades gleamed all right, but seemed
rather dull for cutting with.

"Rather dull? See if they don't cut!" I retorted.

"Cut your finger, then," he challenged. And with "Finger nothing! Here
goes!" I cut my thumb slant-wise. Fortunately the knife was small and
the bone of the thumb hard enough, so the thumb is still there, but the
scar will be there until my death.

About twenty steps to the east edge of our garden, there was a
moderate-sized vegetable yard, rising toward the south, and in the
centre of which stood a chestnut tree which was dearer to me than life.
In the season when the chestnuts were ripe, I used to slip out of the
house from the back door early in the morning to pick up the chestnuts
which had fallen during the night, and eat them at the school. On the
west side of the vegetable yard was the adjoining garden of a pawn shop
called Yamashiro-ya. This shopkeeper's son was a boy about 13 or 14
years old named Kantaro. Kantaro was, it happens, a mollycoddle.
Nevertheless he had the temerity to come over the fence to our yard and
steal my chestnuts.

One certain evening I hid myself behind a folding-gate of the fence and
caught him in the act. Having his retreat cut off he grappled with me in
desperation. He was about two years older than I, and, though
weak-kneed, was physically the stronger. While I wallopped him, he
pushed his head against my breast and by chance it slipped inside my
sleeve. As this hindered the free action of my arm, I tried to shake him
loose, though, his head dangled the further inside, and being no longer
able to stand the stifling combat, he bit my bare arm. It was painful. I
held him fast against the fence, and by a dexterous foot twist sent him
down flat on his back. Kantaro broke the fence and as the ground
belonging to Yamashiro-ya was about six feet lower than the vegetable
yard, he fell headlong to his own territory with a thud. As he rolled
off he tore away the sleeve in which his head had been enwrapped, and my
arm recovered a sudden freedom of movement. That night when my mother
went to Yamashiro-ya to apologize, she brought back that sleeve.

Besides the above, I did many other mischiefs. With Kaneko of a
carpenter shop and Kaku of a fishmarket, I once ruined a carrot patch of
one Mosaku. The sprouts were just shooting out and the patch was covered
with straws to ensure their even healthy growth. Upon this straw-covered
patch, we three wrestled for fully half a day, and consequently
thoroughly smashed all the sprouts. Also I once filled up a well which
watered some rice fields owned by one Furukawa, and he followed me with
kicks. The well was so devised that from a large bamboo pole, sunk deep
into the ground, the water issued and irrigated the rice fields.
Ignorant of the mechanical side of this irrigating method at that time,
I stuffed the bamboo pole with stones and sticks, and satisfied that no
more water came up, I returned home and was eating supper when Furukawa,
fiery red with anger, burst into our house with howling protests. I
believe the affair was settled on our paying for the damage.

Father did not like me in the least, and mother always sided with my big
brother. This brother's face was palish white, and he had a fondness for
taking the part of an actress at the theatre.

"This fellow will never amount to much," father used to remark when
he saw me.

"He's so reckless that I worry about his future," I often heard mother
say of me. Exactly; I have never amounted to much. I am just as you see
me; no wonder my future used to cause anxiety to my mother. I am living
without becoming but a jailbird.

Two or three days previous to my mother's death, I took it into my head
to turn a somersault in the kitchen, and painfully hit my ribs against
the corner of the stove. Mother was very angry at this and told me not
to show my face again, so I went to a relative to stay with. While
there, I received the news that my mother's illness had become very
serious, and that after all efforts for her recovery, she was dead. I
came home thinking that I should have behaved better if I had known the
conditions were so serious as that. Then that big brother of mine
denounced me as wanting in filial piety, and that I had caused her
untimely death. Mortified at this, I slapped his face, and thereupon
received a sound scolding from father.

After the death of mother, I lived with father and brother. Father did
nothing, and always said "You're no good" to my face. What he meant by
"no good" I am yet to understand. A funny dad he was. My brother was to
be seen studying English hard, saying that he was going to be a
businessman. He was like a girl by nature, and so "sassy" that we two
were never on good terms, and had to fight it out about once every ten
days. When we played a chess game one day, he placed a chessman as a
"waiter,"--a cowardly tactic this,--and had hearty laugh on me by seeing
me in a fix. His manner was so trying that time that I banged a chessman
on his forehead which was injured a little bit and bled. He told all
about this to father, who said he would disinherit me.

Then I gave up myself for lost, and expected to be really disinherited.
But our maid Kiyo, who had been with us for ten years or so, interceded
on my behalf, and tearfully apologized for me, and by her appeal my
father's wrath was softened. I did not regard him, however, as one to be
afraid of in any way, but rather felt sorry for our Kiyo. I had heard
that Kiyo was of a decent, well-to-do family, but being driven to
poverty at the time of the Restoration, had to work as a servant. So she
was an old woman by this time. This old woman,--by what affinity, as
the Buddhists say, I don't know,--loved me a great deal. Strange,
indeed! She was almost blindly fond of me,--me, whom mother, became
thoroughly disgusted with three days before her death; whom father
considered a most aggravating proposition all the year round, and whom
the neighbors cordially hated as the local bully among the youngsters. I
had long reconciled myself to the fact that my nature was far from being
attractive to others, and so didn't mind if I were treated as a piece of
wood; so I thought it uncommon that Kiyo should pet me like that.
Sometimes in the kitchen, when there was nobody around, she would praise
me saying that I was straightforward and of a good disposition. What she
meant by that exactly, was not clear to me, however. If I were of so
good a nature as she said, I imagined those other than Kiyo should
accord me a better treatment. So whenever Kiyo said to me anything of
the kind, I used to answer that I did not like passing compliments. Then
she would remark; "That's the very reason I say you are of a good
disposition," and would gaze at me with absorbing tenderness. She seemed
to recreate me by her own imagination, and was proud of the fact. I felt
even chilled through my marrow at her constant attention to me.

After my mother was dead, Kiyo loved me still more. In my simple
reasoning, I wondered why she had taken such a fancy to me. Sometimes I
thought it quite futile on her part, that she had better quit that sort
of thing, which was bad for her. But she loved me just the same. Once
in, a while she would buy, out of her own pocket, some cakes or
sweetmeats for me. When the night was cold, she would secretly buy some
noodle powder, and bring all unawares hot noodle gruel to my bed; or
sometimes she would even buy a bowl of steaming noodles from the
peddler. Not only with edibles, but she was generous alike with socks,
pencils, note books, etc. And she even furnished me,--this happened some
time later,--with about three yen, I did not ask her for the money; she
offered it from her own good will by bringing it to my room, saying that
I might be in need of some cash. This, of course, embarrassed me, but as
she was so insistent I consented to borrow it. I confess I was really
glad of the money. I put it in a bag, and carried it in my pocket. While
about the house, I happened to drop the bag into a cesspool. Helpless, I
told Kiyo how I had lost the money, and at once she fetched a bamboo
stick, and said she will get it for me. After a while I heard a
splashing sound of water about our family well, and going there, saw
Kiyo washing the bag strung on the end of the stick. I opened the bag
and found the edict of the three one-yen bills turned to faint yellow
and designs fading. Kiyo dried them at an open fire and handed them over
to me, asking if they were all right. I smelled them and said; "They
stink yet."

"Give them to me; I'll get them changed." She took those three bills,
and,--I do not know how she went about it,--brought three yen in silver.
I forget now upon what I spent the three yen. "I'll pay you back soon,"
I said at the time, but didn't. I could not now pay it back even if I
wished to do so with ten times the amount.

When Kiyo gave me anything she did so always when both father and
brother were out. Many things I do not like, but what I most detest is
the monopolizing of favors behind some one else's back. Bad as my
relations were with my brother, still I did not feel justified in
accepting candies or color-pencils from Kiyo without my brother's
knowledge. "Why do you give those things only to me and not to my
brother also?" I asked her once, and she answered quite unconcernedly
that my brother may be left to himself as his father bought him
everything. That was partiality; father was obstinate, but I am sure he
was not a man who would indulge in favoritism. To Kiyo, however, he
might have looked that way. There is no doubt that Kiyo was blind to the
extent of her undue indulgence with me. She was said to have come from a
well-to-do family, but the poor soul was uneducated, and it could not be
helped. All the same, you cannot tell how prejudice will drive one to
the extremes. Kiyo seemed quite sure that some day I would achieve high
position in society and become famous. Equally she was sure that my
brother, who was spending his hours studiously, was only good for his
white skin, and would stand no show in the future. Nothing can beat an
old woman for this sort of thing, I tell you. She firmly believed that
whoever she liked would become famous, while whoever she hated would
not. I did not have at that time any particular object in my life. But
the persistency with which Kiyo declared that I would be a great man
some day, made me speculate myself that after all I might become one.
How absurd it seems to me now when I recall those days. I asked her once
what kind of a man I should be, but she seemed to have formed no
concrete idea as to that; only she said that I was sure to live in a
house with grand entrance hall, and ride in a private rikisha.

And Kiyo seemed to have decided for herself to live with me when I
became independent and occupy my own house. "Please let me live with
you,"--she repeatedly asked of me. Feeling somewhat that I should
eventually be able to own a house, I answered her "Yes," as far as such
an answer went. This woman, by the way, was strongly imaginative. She
questioned me what place I liked,--Kojimachi-ku or Azabu-ku?--and
suggested that I should have a swing in our garden, that one room be
enough for European style, etc., planning everything to suit her own
fancy. I did not then care a straw for anything like a house; so neither
Japanese nor European style was much of use to me, and I told her to
that effect. Then she would praise me as uncovetous and clean of heart.
Whatever I said, she had praise for me.

I lived, after the death of mother, in this fashion for five or six
years. I had kicks from father, had rows with brother, and had candies
and praise from Kiyo. I cared for nothing more; I thought this was
enough. I imagined all other boys were leading about the same kind of
life. As Kiyo frequently told me, however, that I was to be pitied, and
was unfortunate, I imagined that that might be so. There was nothing
that particularly worried me except that father was too tight with my
pocket money, and this was rather hard on me.

In January of the 6th year after mother's death, father died of
apoplexy. In April of the same year, I graduated from a middle school,
and two months later, my brother graduated from a business college. Soon
he obtained a job in the Kyushu branch of a certain firm and had to go
there, while I had to remain in Tokyo and continue my study. He proposed
the sale of our house and the realization of our property, to which I
answered "Just as you like it." I had no intention of depending upon him
anyway. Even were he to look after me, I was sure of his starting
something which would eventually end in a smash-up as we were prone to
quarrel on the least pretext. It was because in order to receive his
protection that I should have to bow before such a fellow, that I
resolved that I would live by myself even if I had to do milk delivery.
Shortly afterwards he sent for a second-hand dealer and sold for a song
all the bric-a-bric which had been handed down from ages ago in our
family. Our house and lot were sold, through the efforts of a middleman
to a wealthy person. This transaction seemed to have netted a goodly sum
to him, but I know nothing as to the detail.

For one month previous to this, I had been rooming in a boarding house
in Kanda-ku, pending a decision as to my future course. Kiyo was greatly
grieved to see the house in which she had lived so many years change
ownership, but she was helpless in the matter.

"If you were a little older, you might have inherited this house," she
once remarked in earnest.

If I could have inherited the house through being a little older, I
ought to have been able to inherit the house right then. She knew
nothing, and believed the lack of age only prevented my coming into the
possession of the house.

Thus I parted from my brother, but the disposal of Kiyo was a difficult
proposition. My brother was, of course, unable to take her along, nor
was there any danger of her following him so far away as Kyushu, while I
was in a small room of a boarding house, and might have to clear out
anytime at that. There was no way out, so I asked her if she intended to
work somewhere else. Finally she answered me definitely that she would
go to her nephew's and wait until I started my own house and get
married. This nephew was a clerk in the Court of Justice, and being
fairly well off, had invited Kiyo before more than once to come and live
with him, but Kiyo preferred to stay with us, even as a servant, since
she had become well used to our family. But now I think she thought it
better to go over to her nephew than to start a new life as servant in a
strange house. Be that as it may, she advised me to have my own
household soon, or get married, so she would come and help me in
housekeeping. I believe she liked me more than she did her own kin.

My brother came to me, two days previous to his departure for Kyushu,
and giving me 600 yen, said that I might begin a business with it, or go
ahead with my study, or spend it in any way I liked, but that that would
be the last he could spare. It was a commendable act for my brother.
What! about only 600 yen! I could get along without it, I thought, but
as this unusually simple manner appealed to me, I accepted the offer
with thanks. Then he produced 50 yen, requesting me to give it to Kiyo
next time I saw her, which I readily complied with. Two days after, I
saw him off at the Shimbashi Station, and have not set my eyes on him
ever since.

Lying in my bed, I meditated on the best way to spend that 600 yen. A
business is fraught with too much trouble, and besides it was not my
calling. Moreover with only 600 yen no one could open a business worth
the name. Were I even able to do it, I was far from being educated, and
after all, would lose it. Better let investments alone, but study more
with the money. Dividing the 600 yen into three, and by spending 200 yen
a year, I could study for three years. If I kept at one study with
bull-dog tenacity for three years, I should be able to learn something.
Then the selection of a school was the next problem. By nature, there is
no branch of study whatever which appeals to my taste. Nix on languages
or literature! The new poetry was all Greek to me; I could not make out
one single line of twenty. Since I detested every kind of study, any
kind of study should have been the same to me. Thinking thus, I happened
to pass front of a school of physics, and seeing a sign posted for the
admittance of more students, I thought this might be a kind of
"affinity," and having asked for the prospectus, at once filed my
application for entrance. When I think of it now, it was a blunder due
to my hereditary recklessness.

For three years I studied about as diligently as ordinary fellows, but
not being of a particularly brilliant quality, my standing in the class
was easier to find by looking up from the bottom. Strange, isn't it,
that when three years were over, I graduated? I had to laugh at myself,
but there being no reason for complaint, I passed out.

Eight days after my graduation, the principal of the school asked me to
come over and see him. I wondered what he wanted, and went. A middle
school in Shikoku was in need of a teacher of mathematics for forty yen
a month, and he sounded me to see if I would take it. I had studied for
three years, but to tell the truth, I had no intention of either
teaching or going to the country. Having nothing in sight, however,
except teaching, I readily accepted the offer. This too was a blunder
due to hereditary recklessness.

I accepted the position, and so must go there. The three years of my
school life I had seen confined in a small room, but with no kick coming
or having no rough house. It was a comparatively easy going period in my
life. But now I had to pack up. Once I went to Kamakura on a picnic with
my classmates while I was in the grammar school, and that was the first
and last, so far, that I stepped outside of Tokyo since I could
remember. This time I must go darn far away, that it beats Kamakura by a
mile. The prospective town is situated on the coast, and looked the size
of a needle-point on the map. It would not be much to look at anyway. I
knew nothing about the place or the people there. It did not worry me or
cause any anxiety. I had simply to travel there and that was the
annoying part.

Once in a while, since our house was no more, I went to Kiyo's
nephew's to see her. Her nephew was unusually good-natured, and
whenever I called upon her, he treated me well if he happened to be at
home. Kiyo would boost me sky-high to her nephew right to my face. She
went so far once as to say that when I had graduated from school, I
would purchase a house somewhere in Kojimachi-ku and get a position in
a government office. She decided everything in her own way, and talked
of it aloud, and I was made an unwilling and bashful listener. I do
not know how her nephew weighed her tales of self-indulgence on me.
Kiyo was a woman of the old type, and seemed, as if it was still the
days of Feudal Lords, to regard her nephew equally under obligation to
me even as she was herself.

After settling about my new position, I called upon her three days
previous to my departure. She was sick abed in a small room, but, on
seeing me she got up and immediately inquired;

"Master Darling, when do you begin housekeeping?"

She evidently thought as soon as a fellow finishes school, money comes
to his pocket by itself. But then how absurd to call such a "great man"
"Darling." I told her simply that I should let the house proposition go
for some time, as I had to go to the country. She looked greatly
disappointed, and blankly smoothed her gray-haired sidelocks. I felt
sorry for her, and said comfortingly; "I am going away but will come
back soon. I'll return in the vacation next summer, sure." Still as she
appeared not fully satisfied, I added;

"Will bring you back a surprise. What do you like?"

She wished to eat "sasa-ame"[1] of Echigo province. I had never heard of
"sasa-ame" of Echigo. To begin with, the location is entirely different.

[Footnote 1: Sasa-ame is a kind of rice-jelly wrapped with sasa, or the
bamboo leaves, well-known as a product of Echigo province.]

"There seems to be no 'sasa-ame' in the country where I'm going," I
explained, and she rejoined; "Then, in what direction?" I answered
"westward" and she came back with "Is it on the other side of Hakone?"
This give-and-take conversation proved too much for me.

On the day of my departure, she came to my room early in the morning and
helped me to pack up. She put into my carpet-bag tooth powder,
tooth-brush and towels which she said she had bought at a dry goods
store on her way. I protested that I did not want them, but she was
insistent.[A] We rode in rikishas to the station. Coming up the
platform, she gazed at me from outside the car, and said in a low voice;

"This may be our last good-by. Take care of yourself."

Her eyes were full of tears. I did not cry, but was almost going to.
After the train had run some distance, thinking it would be all right
now, I poked my head out of the window and looked back. She was still
there. She looked very small.



CHAPTER II.


With a long, sonorous whistle the steamer which I was aboard came to a
standstill, and a boat was seen making toward us from the shore. The man
rowing the boat was stark naked, except for a piece of red cloth girt
round his loins. A barbarous place, this! though he may have been
excused for it in such hot weather as it was. The sun's rays were strong
and the water glimmered in such strange colors as to dazzle one's sight
if gazed at it for long. I had been told by a clerk of the ship that I
was to get off here. The place looked like a fishing village about the
size of Omori. Great Scott! I wouldn't stay in such a hole, I thought,
but I had to get out. So, down I jumped first into the boat, and I think
five or six others followed me. After loading about four large boxes
besides, the red-cloth rowed us ashore. When the boat struck the sand, I
was again the first to jump out, and right away I accosted a skinny
urchin standing nearby, asking him where the middle school was. The kid
answered blankly that he did not know. Confound the dull-head! Not to
know where the middle school was, living in such a tiny bit of a town.
Then a man wearing a rig with short, queer shaped sleeves approached me
and bade me follow. I walked after him and was taken to an inn called
Minato-ya. The maids of the inn, who gave me a disagreeable impression,
chorused at sight of me; "Please step inside." This discouraged me in
proceeding further, and I asked them, standing at the door-way, to show
me the middle school. On being told that the middle school was about
four miles away by rail, I became still more discouraged at putting up
there. I snatched my two valises from the man with queer-shaped [B]
sleeves who had guided me so far, and strode away. The people of the inn
looked after me with a dazed expression.

The station was easily found, and a ticket bought without any fuss. The
coach I got in was about as dignified as a match-box. The train rambled
on for about five minutes, and then I had to get off. No wonder the fare
was cheap; it cost only three sen. I then hired a rikisha and arrived at
the middle school, but school was already over and nobody was there. The
teacher on night-duty was out just for a while, said the janitor,--the
night-watch was taking life easy, sure. I thought of visiting the
principal, but being tired, ordered the rikishaman to take me to a
hotel. He did this with much alacrity and led me to a hotel called
Yamashiro-ya. I felt it rather amusing to find the name Yamashiro-ya the
same as that of Kantaro's house.

They ushered me to a dark room below the stairway. No one could stay in
such a hot place! I said I did not like such a warm room, but the maid
dumped my valises on the floor and left me, mumbling that all the other
rooms were occupied. So I took the room though it took some resolution
to stand the weltering heat. After a while the maid said the bath was
ready, and I took one: On my way back from the bathroom, I peeped about,
and found many rooms, which looked much cooler than mine, vacant.
Sunnovagun! They had lied. By'm-by, she fetched my supper. Although the
room was hot, the meal was a deal better than the kind I used to have in
my boarding house. While waiting on me, she questioned me where I was
from, and I said, "from Tokyo." Then she asked; "Isn't Tokyo a nice
place?" and I shot back, "Bet 'tis." About the time the maid had reached
the kitchen, loud laughs were heard. There was nothing doing, so I went
to bed, but could not sleep. Not only was it hot, but noisy,--about five
times noisier than my boarding house. While snoozing, I dreamed of Kiyo.
She was eating "sasa-ame" of Echigo province without taking off the
wrapper of bamboo leaves. I tried to stop her, saying bamboo leaves may
do her harm, but she replied, "O, no, these leaves are very helpful for
the health," and ate them with much relish. Astounded, I laughed "Ha,
ha, ha!"--and so awoke. The maid was opening the outside shutters. The
weather was just as clear as the previous day.

I had heard once before that when travelling, one should give "tea
money" to the hotel or inn where he stops; that unless this "tea
money" is given, the hostelry would accord him rather rough treatment.
It must have been on account of my being slow in the fork over of this
"tea money" that they had huddled me into such a narrow, dark room.
Likewise my shabby clothes and the carpet bags and satin umbrella must
have been accountable for it. Took me for a piker, eh? those hayseeds!
I would give them a knocker with "tea money." I left Tokyo with about
30 yen in my pocket, which remained from my school expenses. Taking
off the railway and steamship fare, and other incidental expenses, I
had still about 14 yen in my pocket. I could give them all I
had;--what did I care, I was going to get a salary now. All country
folk are tight-wads, and one 5-yen bill would hit them square. Now
watch and see. Having washed myself, I returned to my room and waited,
and the maid of the night before brought in my breakfast. Waiting on
me with a tray, she looked at me with a sort of sulphuric smile. Rude!
Is any parade marching on my face? I should say. Even my face is far
better than that of the maid. I intended of giving "tea money" after
breakfast, but I became disgusted, and taking out one 5-yen bill told
her to take it to the office later. The face of the maid became then
shy and awkward. After the meal, I left for the school. The maid did
not have my shoes polished.

I had had vague idea of the direction of the school as I rode to it the
previous day, so turning two or three corners, I came to the front gate.
From the gate to the entrance the walk was paved with granite. When I
had passed to the entrance in the rikisha, this walk made so
outlandishly a loud noise that I had felt coy. On my way to the school,
I met a number of the students in uniforms of cotton drill and they all
entered this gate. Some of them were taller than I and looked much
stronger. When I thought of teaching fellows of this ilk, I was
impressed with a queer sort of uneasiness. My card was taken to the
principal, to whose room I was ushered at once. With scant mustache,
dark-skinned and big-eyed, the principal was a man who looked like a
badger. He studiously assumed an air of superiority, and saying he would
like to see me do my best, handed the note of appointment, stamped big,
in a solemn manner. This note I threw away into the sea on my way back
to Tokyo. He said he would introduce me to all my fellow teachers, and I
was to show to each one of them the note of appointment. What a bother!
It would be far better to stick this note up in the teachers' room for
three days instead of going through such a monkey process.

The teachers would not be all in the room until the bugle for the first
hour was sounded. There was plenty of time. The principal took out his
watch, and saying that he would acquaint me particularly with the school
by-and-bye, he would only furnish me now with general matters, and
started a long lecture on the spirit of education. For a while I
listened to him with my mind half away somewhere else, but about half
way through his lecture, I began to realize that I should soon be in a
bad fix. I could not do, by any means, all he expected of me. He
expected that I should make myself an example to the students, should
become an object of admiration for the whole school or should exert my
moral influence, besides teaching technical knowledge in order to
become a real educator, or something ridiculously high-sounding. No man
with such admirable qualities would come so far away for only 40 yen a
month! Men are generally alike. If one gets excited, one is liable to
fight, I thought, but if things are to be kept on in the way the
principal says, I could hardly open my mouth to utter anything, nor take
a stroll around the place. If they wanted me to fill such an onerous
post, they should have told all that before. I hate to tell a lie; I
would give it up as having been cheated, and get out of this mess like a
man there and then. I had only about 9 yen left in my pocket after
tipping the hotel 5 yen. Nine yen would not take me back to Tokyo. I had
better not have tipped the hotel; what a pity! However, I would be able
to manage it somehow. I considered it better to run short in my return
expenses than to tell a lie.

"I cannot do it the way you want me to. I return this appointment."

I shoved back the note. The principal winked his badger-like eyes and
gazed at me. Then he said;

"What I have said just now is what I desire of you. I know well that you
cannot do all I want, So don't worry."

And he laughed. If he knew it so well already, what on earth did he
scare me for?

Meanwhile the bugle sounded, being followed by bustling noises in the
direction of the class rooms. All the teachers would be now ready, I was
told, and I followed the principal to the teachers' room. In a spacious
rectangular room, they sat each before a table lined along the walls.
When I entered the room, they all glanced at me as if by previous
agreement. Did they think my face was for a show? Then, as per
instructions, I introduced myself and showed the note to each one of
them. Most of them left their chairs and made a slight bow of
acknowledgment. But some of the more painfully polite took the note and
read it and respectfully returned it to me, just like the cheap
performances at a rural show! When I came to the fifteenth, who was the
teacher of physical training, I became impatient at repeating the same
old thing so often. The other side had to do it only once, but my side
had to do it fifteen times. They ought to have had some sympathy.

Among those I met in the room there was Mr. Blank who was head teacher.
Said he was a Bachelor of Arts. I suppose he was a great man since he
was a graduate from Imperial University and had such a title. He talked
in a strangely effeminate voice like a woman. But what surprised me most
was that he wore a flannel shirt. However thin it might be, flannel is
flannel and must have been pretty warm at that time of the year. What
painstaking dress is required which will be becoming to a B.A.! And it
was a red shirt; wouldn't that kill you! I heard afterwards that he
wears a red shirt all the year round. What a strange affliction!
According to his own explanation, he has his shirts made to order for
the sake of his health as the red color is beneficial to the physical
condition. Unnecessary worry, this, for that being the case, he should
have had his coat and hakama also in red. And there was one Mr. Koga,
teacher of English, whose complexion was very pale. Pale-faced people
are usually thin, but this man was pale and fat. When I was attending
grammar school, there was one Tami Asai in our class, and his father was
just as pale as this Koga. Asai was a farmer, and I asked Kiyo if one's
face would become pale if he took up farming. Kiyo said it was not so;
Asai ate always Hubbard squash of "uranari" [2] and that was the reason.
Thereafter when I saw any man pale and fat, I took it for granted that
it was the result of his having eaten too much of squash of "uranari."
This English teacher was surely subsisting upon squash. However, what
the meaning of "uranari" is, I do not know. I asked Kiyo once, but she
only laughed. Probably she did not know. Among the teachers of
mathematics, there was one named Hotta. This was a fellow of massive
body, with hair closely cropped. He looked like one of the old-time
devilish priests who made the Eizan temple famous. I showed him the note
politely, but he did not even look at it, and blurted out;

"You're the man newly appointed, eh? Come and see me sometime,
ha, ha, ha!"

[Footnote 2: Means the last crop.]

Devil take his "Ha, ha, ha!" Who would go to see a fellow so void of the
sense of common decency! I gave this priest from this time the nickname
of Porcupine.

The Confucian teacher was strict in his manner as becoming to his
profession. "Arrived yesterday? You must be tired. Start teaching
already? Working hard, indeed!"--and so on. He was an old man, quite
sociable and talkative.

The teacher of drawing was altogether like a cheap actor. He wore a
thin, flappy haori of sukiya, and, toying with a fan, he giggled; "Where
from? eh? Tokyo? Glad to hear that. You make another of our group. I'm a
Tokyo kid myself."

If such a fellow prided himself on being a Tokyo kid, I wished I had
never been born in Tokyo. I might go on writing about each one of
them, for there are many, but I stop here otherwise there will be no
end to it.

When my formal introduction was over, the principal said that I might go
for the day, but I should make arrangements as to the class hours, etc.,
with the head teacher of mathematics and begin teaching from the day
after the morrow. Asked who was the head teacher of mathematics, I found
that he was no other than that Porcupine. Holy smokes! was I to serve
under him? I was disappointed.

"Say, where are you stopping? Yamashiro-ya? Well, I'll come and
talk it over."

So saying, Porcupine, chalk in hand, left the room to his class. That
was rather humiliating for a head-teacher to come over and see his
subordinate, but it was better than to call me over to him.

After leaving the school, I thought of returning straight to the hotel,
but as there was nothing to do, I decided to take in a little of the
town, and started walking about following my nose. I saw prefectural
building; it was an old structure of the last century. Also I saw the
barracks; they were less imposing than those of the Azabu Regiment,
Tokyo. I passed through the main street. The width of the street is
about one half that of Kagurazaka, and its aspect is inferior. What
about a castle-town of 250,000-koku Lord! Pity the fellows who get
swell-headed in such a place as a castle-town!

While I walked about musing like this, I found myself in front of
Yamashiro-ya. The town was much narrower than I had been led to believe.

"I think I have seen nearly all. Guess I'll return and eat." And I
entered the gate. The mistress of the hotel who was sitting at the
counter, jumped out of her place at my appearance and with "Are you
back, Sire!" scraped the floor with her forehead. When I took my shoes
off and stepped inside, the maid took me to an upstairs room that had
became vacant. It was a front room of 15 mats (about 90 square feet). I
had never before lived in so splendid a room as this. As it was quite
uncertain when I should again be able to occupy such a room in future, I
took off my European dress, and with only a single Japanese summer coat
on, sprawled in the centre of the room in the shape of the Japanese
letter "big" (arms stretched out and legs spread wide[D]). I found it
very refreshing.

After luncheon I at once wrote a letter to Kiyo. I hate most to write
letters because I am poor at sentence-making and also poor in my stock
of words. Neither did I have any place to which to address my letters.
However, Kiyo might be getting anxious. It would not do to let her worry
lest she think the steamer which I boarded had been wrecked and I was
drowned,--so I braced up and wrote a long one. The body of the letter
was as follows:

  "Arrived yesterday. A dull place. Am sleeping in a room of 15 mats.
  Tipped the hotel five yen as tea money. The house-wife of the hotel
  scraped the floor with her forehead. Couldn't sleep last night.
  Dreamed Kiyo eat sasa-ame together with the bamboo-leaf wrappers. Will
  return next summer. Went to the school to-day, and nicknamed all the
  fellows. 'Badger' for the principal, 'Red Shirt' for the head-teacher,
  'Hubbard Squash' for the teacher of English, 'Porcupine' the teacher
  of mathematics and 'Clown' for that of drawing. Will write you many
  other things soon. Good bye."

When I finished writing the letter, I felt better and sleepy. So I slept
in the centre of the room, as I had done before, in the letter "big"
shape ([D]). No dream this time, and I had a sound sleep.

"Is this the room?"--a loud voice was heard,--a voice which woke me up,
and Porcupine entered.

"How do you do? What you have to do in the school----" he began talking
shop as soon as I got up and rattled me much. On learning my duties in
the school, there seemed to be no difficulty, and I decided to accept.
If only such were what was expected of me, I would not be surprised were
I told to start not only two days hence but even from the following day.
The talk on business over, Porcupine said that he did not think it was
my intention to stay in such a hotel all the time, that he would find a
room for me in a good boarding house, and that I should move.

"They wouldn't take in another from anybody else but I can do it
right away. The sooner the better. Go and look at the room to-day,
move tomorrow and start teaching from the next day. That'll be all
nice and settled."

He seemed satisfied by arranging all by himself. Indeed, I should not be
able to occupy such a room for long. I might have to blow in all of my
salary for the hotel bill and yet be short of squaring it. It was pity
to leave the hotel so soon after I had just shone with a 5-yen tip.
However, it being decidedly convenient to move and get settled early if
I had to move at all, I asked Porcupine to get that room for me. He told
me then to come over with him and see the house at any rate, and I did.
The house was situated mid-way up a hill at the end of the town, and was
a quiet. The boss was said to be a dealer in antique curios, called
Ikagin, and his wife was about four years his senior. I learned the
English word "witch" when I was in middle school, and this woman looked
exactly like one. But as she was another man's wife, what did I care if
she was a witch. Finally I decided to live in the house from the next
day. On our way back Porcupine treated me to a cup of ice-water. When I
first met him in the school, I thought him a disgustingly overbearing
fellow, but judging by the way he had looked after me so far, he
appeared not so bad after all. Only he seemed, like me, impatient by
nature and of quick-temper. I heard afterward that he was liked most by
all the students in the school.



CHAPTER III.

My teaching began at last. When I entered the class-room and stepped
upon the platform for the first time, I felt somewhat strange. While
lecturing, I wondered if a fellow like me could keep up the profession
of public instructor. The students were noisy. Once in a while, they
would holler "Teacher!" "Teacher,"--it was "going some." I had been
calling others "teacher" every day so far, in the school of physics, but
in calling others "teacher" and being called one, there is a wide gap of
difference. It made me feel as if some one was tickling my soles. I am
not a sneakish fellow, nor a coward; only--it's a pity--I lack audacity.
If one calls me "teacher" aloud, it gives me a shock similar to that of
hearing the noon-gun in Marunouchi when I was hungry. The first hour
passed away in a dashing manner. And it passed away without encountering
any knotty questions. As I returned to the teachers' room, Porcupine
asked me how it was. I simply answered "well," and he seemed satisfied.

When I left the teachers' room, chalk in hand, for the second hour
class, I felt as if I was invading the enemy's territory. On entering
the room, I found the students for this hour were all big fellows. I am
a Tokyo kid, delicately built and small, and did not appear very
impressive even in my elevated position. If it comes to a scraping, I
can hold my own even with wrestlers, but I had no means of appearing
awe-inspiring[E], merely by the aid of my tongue, to so many as forty
such big chaps before me. Believing, however, that it would set a bad
precedent to show these country fellows any weakness, I lectured rather
loudly and in brusque tone. During the first part the students were
taken aback and listened literally with their mouths open. "That's one
on you!" I thought. Elated by my success, I kept on in this tone, when
one who looked the strongest, sitting in the middle of the front row,
stood up suddenly, and called "Teacher!" There it goes!--I thought, and
asked him what it was.

"A-ah sa-ay, you talk too quick. A-ah ca-an't you make it a leetle slow?
A-ah?" "A-ah ca-an't you?" "A-ah?" was altogether dull.

"If I talk too fast, I'll make it slow, but I'm a Tokyo fellow, and
can't talk the way you do. If you don't understand it, better wait
until you do."

So I answered him. In this way the second hour was closed better than I
had expected. Only, as I was about to leave the class, one of the
students asked me, "A-ah say, won't you please do them for me?" and
showed me some problems in geometry which I was sure I could not solve.
This proved to be somewhat a damper on me. But, helpless, I told him I
could not make them out, and telling him that I would show him how next
time, hastily got out of the room. And all of them raised "Whee--ee!"
Some of them were heard saying "He doesn't know much." Don't take a
teacher for an encyclopaedia! If I could work out such hard questions as
these easily, I would not be in such a backwoods town for forty yen a
month. I returned to the teachers' room.

"How was it this time?" asked Porcupine. I said "Umh." But not satisfied
with "Umh" only, I added that all the students in this school were
boneheads. He put up a whimsical face.

The third and the fourth hour and the first hour in the afternoon were
more or less the same. In all the classes I attended, I made some kind
of blunder. I realised that the profession of teaching not quite so easy
a calling as might have appeared. My teaching for the day was finished
but I could not get away. I had to wait alone until three o'clock. I
understood that at three o'clock the students of my classes would finish
cleaning up the rooms and report to me, whereupon I would go over the
rooms. Then I would run through the students' roll, and then be free to
go home. Outrageous, indeed, to keep on chained to the school, staring
at the empty space when he had nothing more to do, even though he was
"bought" by a salary! Other fellow teachers, however, meekly submitted
to the regulation, and believing it not well for me,--a new comer--to
fuss about it, I stood it. On my way home, I appealed to Porcupine as to
the absurdity of keeping me there till three o'clock regardless of my
having nothing to do in the school. He said "Yes" and laughed. But he
became serious and in an advisory manner told me not to make many
complaints about the school.

"Talk to me only, if you want to. There are some queer guys around."

As we parted at the next corner, I did not have time to hear more from
him.

On reaching my room, the boss of the house came to me saying, "Let me
serve you tea." I expected he was going to treat me to some good tea
since he said "Let me serve you," but he simply made himself at home
and drank my own tea. Judging by this, I thought he might be
practising "Let me serve you" during my absence. The boss said that he
was fond of antique drawings and curios and finally had decided to
start in that business.

"You look like one quite taken about art. Suppose you begin patronizing
my business just for fun as er--connoisseur of art?"

It was the least expected kind of solicitation. Two years ago, I went to
the Imperial Hotel (Tokyo) on an errand, and I was taken for a
locksmith. When I went to see the Daibutsu at Kamakura, haying wrapped
up myself from head to toe with a blanket, a rikisha man addressed me as
"Gov'ner." I have been mistaken on many occasions for as many things,
but none so far has counted on me as a probable connoisseur of art. One
should know better by my appearance. Any one who aspires to be a patron
of art is usually pictured,--you may see in any drawing,--with either a
hood on his head, or carrying a tanzaku[3] in his hand. The fellow who
calls me a connoisseur of art and pretends to mean it, may be surely as
crooked as a dog's hind legs. I told him I did not like such art-stuff,
which is usually favored by retired people. He laughed, and remarking
that that nobody liked it at first, but once in it, will find it so
fascinating that he will hardly get over it, served tea for himself and
drank it in a grotesque manner. I may say that I had asked him the night
before to buy some tea for me, but I did not like such a bitter, heavy
kind. One swallow seemed to act right on my stomach. I told him to buy a
kind not so bitter as that, and he answered "All right, Sir," and drank
another cup. The fellow seemed never to know of having enough of
anything so long as it was another man's. After he left the room, I
prepared for the morrow and went to bed.

[Footnote 3: A tanzaku is a long, narrow strip of stiff paper on which a
Japanese poem is written.]

Everyday thereafter I attended at the school and worked as per
regulations. Every day on my return, the boss came to my room with the
same old "Let me serve you tea." In about a week I understood the school
in a general way, and had my own idea as to the personality of the boss
and his wife. I heard from one of my fellow teachers that the first week
to one month after the receipt of the appointment worried them most as
to whether they had been favorably received among the students. I never
felt anything on that score. Blunders in the class room once in a while
caused me chagrin, but in about half an hour everything would clear out
of my head. I am a fellow who, by nature, can't be worrying long
about[F] anything even if I try to. I was absolutely indifferent as how
my blunders in the class room affected the students, or how much further
they affected the principal or the head-teacher. As I mentioned before,
I am not a fellow of much audacity to speak of, but I am quick to give
up anything when I see its finish.

I had resolved to go elsewhere at once if the school did not suit me. In
consequence, neither Badger nor Red Shirt wielded any influence over me.
And still less did I feel like coaxing or coddling the youngsters in the
class room.

So far it was O.K. with the school, but not so easy as that at my
boarding house. I could have stood it if it had been only the boss
coming to my room after my tea. But he would fetch many things to my
room. First time he brought in seals.[4] He displayed about ten of them
before me and persuaded me to buy them for three yen, which was very
cheap, he said. Did he take me for a third rate painter making a round
of the country? I told him I did not want them. Next time he brought in
a panel picture of flowers and birds, drawn by one Kazan or somebody. He
hung it against the wall of the alcove and asked me if it was not well
done, and I echoed it looked well done. Then he started lecturing about
Kazan, that there are two Kazans, one is Kazan something and the other
is Kazan anything, and that this picture was the work of that Kazan
something. After this nonsensical lecture, he insisted that he would
make it fifteen yen for me to buy it. I declined the offer saying that I
was shy of the money.

[Footnote 4: Artists have several seals of stone with which to stamp on
the picture they draw as a guarantee of their personal work or for
identification. The shape and kind of seals are quite a hobby among
artists, and sales or exchange are of common occurrence.]

"You can pay any time." He was insistent. I settled him by telling him
of my having no intention of purchasing it even if I had the necessary
money. Again next time, he yanked in a big writing stone slab about the
size of a ridge-tile.

"This is a tankei,"[5] he said. As he "tankeied" two or three times, I
asked for fun what was a tankei. Right away he commenced lecturing on
the subject. "There are the upper, the middle and the lower stratum in
tankei," he said. "Most of tankei slabs to-day are made from the upper
stratum," he continued, "but this one is surely from the middle
stratum. Look at this 'gan.'[6] 'Tis certainly rare to have three
'gans' like this. The ink-cake grates smoothly on it. Try it,
sir,"--and he pushed it towards me. I asked him how much, and he
answered that on account of its owner having brought it from China and
wishing to sell if as soon as possible, he would make it very cheap,
that I could have it for thirty yen. I was sure he was a fool. I seemed
to be able to get through the school somehow, but I would soon give out
if this "curio siege" kept on long.

[Footnote 5: Tankei is the name of a place in China where a certain kind
of stone suitable for writing purposes was produced.]

[Footnote 6: "Gan" may be understood as a kind of natural mark on the
stone peculiar to the stone from Tankei.]

Shortly afterwards, I began to get sick of the school. One certain
night, while I was strolling about a street named Omachi, I happened to
notice a sign of noodles below of which was annotated "Tokyo" in the
house next to the post office. I am very fond of noodles. While I was in
Tokyo, if I passed by a noodle house and smelled the seasoning spices, I
felt uncontrollable temptation to go inside at any cost. Up to this time
I had forgotten the noodle on account of mathematics and antique curios,
but since I had seen thus the sign of noodles, I could hardly pass it by
unnoticed. So availing myself of this opportunity, I went in. It was not
quite up to what I had judged by the sign. Since it claimed to follow
the Tokyo style, they should have tidied up a little bit about the room.
They did not either know Tokyo or have the means,--I did not know which,
but the room was miserably dirty. The floor-mats had all seen better
days and felt shaggy with sandy dust. The sootcovered walls defied the
blackest black. The ceiling was not only smoked by the lamp black, but
was so low as to force one involuntarily bend down his neck. Only the
price-list, on which was glaringly written "Noodles" and which was
pasted on the wall, was entirely new. I was certain that they bought an
old house and opened the business just two or three days before. At the
head of the price-list appeared "tempura" (noodles served with shrimp
fried in batter).

"Say, fetch me some tempura," I ordered in a loud voice. Then three
fellows who had been making a chewing noise together in a corner, looked
in my direction. As the room was dark I did not notice them at first.
But when we looked at each other, I found them all to be boys in our
school. They "how d'ye do'd" me and I acknowledged it. That night,
having come across the noodle after so long a time, it tasted so fine
that I ate four bowls.

The next day as I entered the class room quite unconcernedly, I saw on
the black board written in letters so large as to take up the whole
space; "Professor Tempura." The boys all glanced at my face and made
merry hee-haws at my cost. It was so absurd that I asked them if it was
in any way funny for me to eat tempura noodle. Thereupon one of them
said,--"But four bowls is too much." What did they care if I ate four
bowls or five as long as I paid it with my own money,--and speedily
finishing up my class, I returned to the teachers' room. After ten
minutes' recess, I went to the next class, and there on the black board
was newly written quite as large as before; "Four bowls of tempura
noodles, but don't laugh."

The first one did not arouse any ill-temper in me, but this time it made
me feel irritating mad. A joke carried too far becomes mischievous. It
is like the undue jealousy of some women who, like coal, look black and
suggest flames. Nobody likes it. These country simpletons, unable to
differentiate upon so delicate a boundary, would seem to be bent on
pushing everything to the limit. As they lived in such a narrow town
where one has no more to see if he goes on strolling about for one hour,
and as they were capable of doing nothing better, they were trumpeting
aloud this tempura incident in quite as serious a manner as the
Russo-Japanese war. What a bunch of miserable pups! It is because they
are raised in this fashion from their boyhood that there are many punies
who, like the dwarf maple tree in the flower pot, mature gnarled and
twisted. I have no objection to laugh myself with others over innocent
jokes. But how's this? Boys as they are, they showed a "poisonous
temper." Silently erasing off "tempura" from the board, I questioned
them if they thought such mischief interesting, that this was a cowardly
joke and if they knew the meaning of "cowardice." Some of them answered
that to get angry on being laughed at over one's own doing, was
cowardice. What made them so disgusting as this? I pitied myself for
coming from far off Tokyo to teach such a lot.

"Keep your mouth shut, and study hard," I snapped, and started the
class. In the next class again there was written: "When one eats tempura
noodles it makes him drawl nonsense." There seemed no end to it. I was
thoroughly aroused with anger, and declaring that I would not teach such
sassies, went home straight. The boys were glad of having an unexpected
holiday, so I heard. When things had come to this pass, the antique
curious seemed far more preferable to the school.

My return home and sleep over night greatly rounded off my rugged temper
over the tempura affair. I went to the school, and they were there also.
I could not tell what was what. The three days thereafter were pacific,
and on the night of the fourth day, I went to a suburb called Sumida and
ate "dango" (small balls made of glutinous rice, dressed with
sugar-paste). Sumida is a town where there are restaurants, hot-springs
bath houses and a park, and in addition, the "tenderloin." The dango
shop where I went was near the entrance to the tenderloin, and as the
dango served there was widely known for its nice taste, I dropped in on
my way back from my bath. As I did not meet any students this time, I
thought nobody knew of it, but when I entered the first hour class next
day, I found written on the black board; "Two dishes of dango--7 sen."
It is true that I ate two dishes and paid seven sen. Troublesome kids! I
declare. I expected with certainty that there would be something at the
second hour, and there it was; "The dango in the tenderloin taste fine."
Stupid wretches!

No sooner I thought, the dango incident closed than the red towel became
the topic for widespread gossip. Inquiry as to the story revealed it to
be something unusually absurd. Since, my arrival here, I had made it a
part of my routine to take in the hot springs bath every day. While
there was nothing in this town which compared favorably with Tokyo, the
hot springs were worthy of praise. So long as I was in the town, I
decided that I would have a dip every day, and went there walking,
partly for physical exercise, before my supper. And whenever I went
there I used to carry a large-size European towel dangling from my hand.
Added to somewhat reddish color the towel had acquired by its having
been soaked in the hot-springs, the red color on its border, which was
not fast enough, streaked about so that the towel now looked as if it
were dyed red. This towel hung down from my hand on both ways whether
afoot or riding in the train. For this reason, the students nicknamed me
Red Towel. Honest, it is exasperating to live in a little town.

There is some more. The bath house I patronized was a newly built
three-story house, and for the patrons of the first class the house
provided a bath-robe, in addition to an attendant, and the cost was only
eight sen. On top of that, a maid would serve tea in a regular polite
fashion. I always paid the first class. Then those gossipy spotters
started saying that for one who made only forty yen a month to take a
first class bath every day was extravagant. Why the devil should they
care? It was none of their business.

There is still some more. The bath-tub,--or the tank in this case,--was
built of granite, and measured about thirty square feet. Usually there
were thirteen or fourteen people in the tank, but sometimes there was
none. As the water came up clear to the breast, I enjoyed, for athletic
purposes, swimming in the tank. I delighted in swimming in this
30-square feet tank, taking chances of the total absence of other
people. Once, going downstairs from the third story with a light heart,
and peeping through the entrance of the tank to see if I should be able
to swim, I noticed a sign put up in which was boldly written: "No
swimming allowed in the tank." As there may not have been many who swam
in the tank, this notice was probably put up particularly for my sake.
After that I gave up swimming. But although I gave up swimming, I was
surprised, when I went to the school, to see on the board, as usual,
written: "No swimming allowed in the tank." It seemed as if all the
students united in tracking me everywhere. They made me sick. I was not
a fellow to stop doing whatever I had started upon no matter what
students might say, but I became thoroughly disgusted when I meditated
on why I had come to such a narrow, suffocating place. And, then, when I
returned home, the "antique curio siege" was still going on.



CHAPTER IV


For us teachers there was a duty of night watch in the school, and we
had to do it in turn. But Badger and Red Shirt were not in it. On
asking why these two were exempt from this duty, I was told that they
were accorded by the government treatment similar to officials of
"Sonin" rank. Oh, fudge! They were paid more, worked less, and were
then excused from this night watch. It was not fair. They made
regulations to suit their convenience and seemed to regard all this as
a matter of course. How could they be so brazen faced as this! I was
greatly dissatisfied relative to this question, but according to the
opinion of Porcupine, protests by a single person, with what insistency
they may be made, will not be heard. They ought to be heard whether
they are made by one person or by two if they are just. Porcupine
remonstrated with me by quoting "Might is right" in English. I did not
catch his point, so I asked him again, and he told me that it meant the
right of the stronger. If it was the right of the stronger I had known
it for long, and did not require Porcupine explain that to me at this
time. The right of the stronger was a question different from that of
the night watch. Who would agree that Badger and Red Shirt were the
stronger? But argument or no argument, the turn of this night watch at
last fell upon me. Being quite fastidious, I never enjoyed sound sleep
unless I slept comfortably in my own bedding. From my childhood, I
never stayed out overnight. When I did not find sleeping under the roof
of my friends inviting, night watch in the school, you may be sure, was
still worse. However repulsive, if this was a part of the forty yen a
month, there was no alternative. I had to do it.

To remain alone in the school after the faculty and students had gone
home, was something particularly awkward. The room for the night watch
was in the rear of the school building at the west end of the dormitory.
I stepped inside to see how it was, and finding it squarely facing the
setting sun, I thought I would melt. In spite of autumn having already
set in, the hot spell still lingered, quite in keeping with the
dilly-dally atmosphere of the country. I ordered the same kind of meal
as served for the students, and finished my supper. The meal was
unspeakably poor. It was a wonder they could subsist on such miserable
stuff and keep on "roughing it" in that lively fashion. Not only that,
they were always hungry for supper, finishing it at 4.30 in the
afternoon. They must be heroes in a sense. I had thus my supper, but the
sun being still high, could not go to bed yet. I felt like going to the
hot-springs. I did not know the wrong or right of night watch going out,
but it was oppressively trying to stand a life akin to heavy
imprisonment. When I called at the school the first time and inquired
about night watch, I was told by the janitor that he had just gone out
and I thought it strange. But now by taking the turn of night watch
myself, I could fathom the situation; it was right for any night watch
to go out. I told the janitor that I was going out for a minute. He
asked me "on business?" and I answered "No," but to take a bath at the
hot springs, and went out straight. It was too bad that I had left my
red towel at home, but I would borrow one over there for to-day.

I took plenty of time in dipping in the bath and as it became dark at
last, I came to the Furumachi Station on a train. It was only about four
blocks to the school; I could cover it in no time. When I started
walking schoolwards, Badger was seen coming from the opposite direction.
Badger, I presumed, was going to the hot springs by this train. He came
with brisk steps, and as we passed by, I nodded my courtesy. Then
Badger, with a studiously owlish countenance, asked:

"Am I wrong to understand that you are night watch?"

Chuck that "Am-I-wrong-to-understand"! Two hours ago, did he not say to
me "You're on first night watch to-night. Now, take care of yourself?"
What makes one use such a roundabout, twisted way of saying anything
when he becomes a principal? I was far from smiling.

"Yes, Sir," I said, "I'm night watch to-night, and as I am night watch I
will return to the school and stay there overnight, sure." With this
parting shot, I left him where we met. Coming then to the cross-streets
of Katamachi, I met Porcupine. This is a narrow place, I tell you.
Whenever one ventures out, he is sure to come across some familiar face.

"Say, aren't you night watch?" he hallooed, and I said "Yes, I am." "Tis
wrong for night watch to leave his post at his pleasure," he added, and
to this I blurted out with a bold front; "Nothing wrong at all. It is
wrong not to go out."

"Say, old man, your slap-dash is going to the limit. Wouldn't look well
for the principal or the head teacher to see you out like this."

The submissive tone of his remark was contrary to Porcupine as I had
known him so far, so I cut him short by saying:

"I have met the principal just now. Why, he approved my taking a stroll
about the town. Said it would be hard on night watch unless he took a
walk when it is hot." Then I made a bee-line for the school.

Soon it was night. I called the janitor to my room and had a chat for
about two hours. I grew tired of this, and thought I would get into bed
anyway, even if I could not sleep. I put on my night shirt, lifted the
mosquito-net, rolled off the red blanket and fell down flat on my back
with a bang. The making of this bumping noise when I go to bed is my
habit from my boyhood. "It is a bad habit," once declared a student of a
law school who lived on the ground floor, and I on the second, when I
was in the boarding house at Ogawa-machi, Kanda-ku, and who brought
complaints to my room in person. Students of law schools, weaklings as
they are, have double the ability of ordinary persons when it comes to
talking. As this student of law dwelt long on absurd accusations, I
downed him by answering that the noise made when I went to bed was not
the fault of my hip, but that of the house which was not built on a
solid base, and that if he had any fuss to make, make it to the house,
not to me. This room for night watch was not on the second floor, so
nobody cared how much I banged. I do not feel well-rested unless I go to
bed with the loudest bang I can make.

"This is bully!" and I straightened out my feet, when something jumped
and clung to them. They felt coarse, and seemed not to be fleas. I was a
bit surprised, and shook my feet inside the blanket two or three times.
Instantly the blamed thing increased,--five or six of them on my legs,
two or three on the thighs, one crushed beneath my hip and another clear
up to my belly. The shock became greater. Up I jumped, took off the
blanket, and about fifty to sixty grasshoppers flew out. I was more or
less uneasy until I found out what they were, but now I saw they were
grasshoppers, they set me on the war path. "You insignificant
grasshoppers, startling a man! See what's coming to you!" With this I
slapped them with my pillow twice or thrice, but the objects being so
small, the effect was out of proportion to the force with which the
blows were administered. I adopted a different plan. In the manner of
beating floor-mats with rolled matting at house-cleaning, I sat up in
bed and began beating them with the pillow. Many of them flew up by the
force of the pillow; some desperately clung on or shot against my nose
or head. I could not very well hit those on my head with the pillow; I
grabbed such, and dashed them on the floor. What was more provoking was
that no matter how hard I dashed them, they landed on the mosquito-net
where they made a fluffy jerk and remained, far from being dead. At
last, in about half an hour the slaughter of the grasshoppers was ended.
I fetched a broom and swept them out. The janitor came along and asked
what was the matter.

"Damn the matter! Where in thunder are the fools who keep grasshoppers
in bed! You pumpkinhead!"

The janitor answered by explaining that he did not know anything about
it. "You can't get away with Did-not-know," and I followed this
thundering by throwing away the broom. The awe-struck janitor shouldered
the broom and faded away.

At once I summoned three of the students to my room as the
"representatives," and six of them reported. Six or ten made no
difference; I rolled up the sleeves of my night-shirt and fired away.

"What do you mean by putting grasshoppers in my bed!"

"Grasshoppers? What are they?" said one in front, in a tone disgustingly
quiet. In this school, not only the principal, but the students as well,
were addicted to using twisted-round expressions.

"Don't know grasshoppers! You shall see!" To my chagrin, there was none;
I had swept them all out. I called the janitor again and told him to
fetch those grasshoppers he had taken away. The janitor said he had
thrown them into the garbage box, but that he would pick them out again.
"Yes, hurry up," I said, and he sped away. After a while he brought back
about ten grasshoppers on a white paper, remarking:

"I'm sorry, Sir. It's dark outside and I can't find out more. I'll find
some tomorrow." All fools here, down to the janitor. I showed one
grasshopper to the students.

"This is a grasshopper. What's the matter for as big idiots as you not
to know a grasshopper." Then the one with a round face sitting on the
left saucily shot back:

"A-ah say, that's a locust, a-ah----."

"Shut up. They're the same thing. In the first place, what do you
mean by answering your teacher 'A-ah say'? Ah-Say or Ah-Sing is a
Chink's name!"

For this counter-shot, he answered:

"A-ah say and Ah-Sing is different,--A-ah say." They never got rid of
"A-ah say."

"Grasshoppers or locusts, why did you put them into my bed? When I
asked you to?"

"Nobody put them in."

"If not, how could they get into the bed?"

"Locusts are fond of warm places and probably they got in there
respectfully by themselves."

"You fools! Grasshoppers getting into bed respectfully! I should smile
at them getting in there respectfully! Now, what's the reason for doing
this mischief? Speak out."

"But there is no way to explain it because we didn't do it."

Shrimps! If they were afraid of making a clean breast of their own deed,
they should not have done it at all. They looked defiant, and appeared
to insist on their innocence as long as no evidence was brought up. I
myself did some mischief while in the middle school, but when the
culprit was sought after, I was never so cowardly, not even once, to
back out. What one has done, has been done; what he has not, has not
been,--that's the black and white of it. I, for one have been game and
square, no matter how much mischief I might have done. If I wished to
dodge the punishment, I would not start it. Mischief and punishment are
bound to go together. We can enjoy mischief-making with some show of
spirit because it is accompanied by certain consequences. Where does one
expect to see the dastardly spirit which hungers for mischief-making
without punishment, in vogue? The fellows who like to borrow money but
not pay it back, are surely such as these students here after they are
graduated. What did these fellows come to this middle school for,
anyway? They enter a school, tattle round lies, play silly jokes behind
some one by sneaking and cheating and get wrongly swell-headed when they
finish the school thinking they have received an education. A common lot
of jackasses they are.

My hatred of talking with these scamps became intense, so I dismissed
them by saying:

"If you fellows have nothing to say, let it go at that. You deserve
pity for not knowing the decent from the vulgar after coming to a
middle school."

I am not very decent in my own language or manner, but am sure that my
moral standard is far more decent than that of these gangs. Those six
boys filed out leisurely. Outwardly they appeared more dignified than I
their teacher, it was the more repulsive for their calm behavior. I have
no temerity equal to theirs. Then I went to bed again, and found the
inside of the net full of merry crowds of mosquitoes. I could not bother
myself to burn one by one with a candle flame. So I took the net off the
hooks, folded it the lengthwise, and shook it crossways, up and down the
room. One of the rings of the net, flying round, accidentally hit the
back of my hand, the effect of which I did not soon forget. When I went
to bed for the third time, I cooled off a little, but could not sleep
easily. My watch showed it was half past ten. Well, as I thought it
over, I realized myself as having come to a dirty pit. If all teachers
of middle schools everywhere have to handle fellows like these in this
school, those teachers have my sympathy. It is wonderful that teachers
never run short. I believe there are many boneheads of extraordinary
patience; but me for something else. In this respect, Kiyo is worthy of
admiration. She is an old woman, with neither education nor social
position, but as a human, she does more to command our respect. Until
now, I have been a trouble to her without appreciating her goodness, but
having come alone to such a far-off country, I now appreciated, for the
first time, her kindness. If she is fond of sasa-ame of Echigo province,
and if I go to Echigo for the purpose of buying that sweetmeat to let
her eat it, she is fully worth that trouble. Kiyo has been praising me
as unselfish and straight, but she is a person of sterling qualities far
more than I whom she praises. I began to feel like meeting her.

While I was thus meditating about Kiyo, all of a sudden, on the floor
above my head, about thirty to forty people, if I guess by the number,
started stamping the floor with bang, bang, bang that well threatened to
bang down the floor. This was followed by proportionately loud whoops.
The noise surprised me, and I popped up. The moment I got up I became
aware that the students were starting a rough house to get even with me.
What wrong one has committed, he has to confess, or his offence is never
atoned for. They are just to ask for themselves what crimes they have
done. It should be proper that they repent their folly after going to
bed and to come and beg me pardon the next morning. Even if they could
not go so far as to apologize they should have kept quiet. Then what
does this racket mean? Where we keeping hogs in our dormitory?

"This crazy thing got to stop. See what you get!"

I ran out of the room in my night shirt, and flew upstairs in three and
half steps. Then, strange to say, thunderous rumbling, of which I was
sure of hearing in the act, was hushed. Not only a whisper but even
footsteps were not heard. This was funny. The lamp was already blown
out and although I could not see what was what in the dark, nevertheless
could tell by instinct whether there was somebody around or not. In the
long corridor running from the east to the west, there was not hiding
even a mouse. From other end of the corridor the moonlight flooded in
and about there it was particularly light. The scene was somewhat
uncanny. I have had the habit from my boyhood of frequently dreaming and
of flying out of bed and of muttering things which nobody understood,
affording everybody a hearty laugh. One night, when I was sixteen or
seventeen, I dreamed that I picked up a diamond, and getting up,
demanded of my brother who was sleeping close to me what he had done
with that diamond. The demand was made with such force that for about
three days all in the house chaffed me about the fatal loss of precious
stone, much to my humiliation. Maybe this noise which I heard was but a
dream, although I was sure it was real. I was wondering thus in the
middle of the corridor, when at the further end where it was moonlit, a
roar was raised, coming from about thirty or forty throats, "One, two,
three,--Whee-ee!" The roar had hardly subsided, when, as before, the
stamping of the floor commenced with furious rhythm. Ah, it was not a
dream, but a real thing!

"Quit making the noise! 'Tis midnight!"

I shouted to beat the band, and started in their direction. My passage
was dark; the moonlight yonder was only my guide. About twelve feet
past, I stumbled squarely against some hard object; ere the "Ouch!" has
passed clear up to my head, I was thrown down. I called all kinds of
gods, but could not run. My mind urged me on to hurry up, but my leg
would not obey the command. Growing impatient, I hobbled on one foot,
and found both voice and stamping already ceased and perfectly quiet.
Men can be cowards but I never expected them capable of becoming such
dastardly cowards as this. They challenged hogs.

Now the situation having developed to this pretty mess, I would not give
it up until I had dragged them out from hiding and forced them to
apologize. With this determination, I tried to open one of the doors and
examine inside, but it would not open. It was locked or held fast with a
pile of tables or something; to my persistent efforts the door stood
unyielding. Then I tried one across the corridor on the northside, but
it was also locked. While this irritating attempt at door-opening was
going on, again on the east end of the corridor the whooping roar and
rhythmic stamping of feet were heard. The fools at both ends were bent
on making a goose of me. I realized this, but then I was at a loss what
to do. I frankly confess that I have not quite as much tact as dashing
spirit. In such a case I am wholly at the mercy of swaying circumstances
without my own way of getting through it. Nevertheless, I do not expect
to play the part of underdog. If I dropped the affair then and there, it
would reflect upon my dignity. It would be mortifying to have them think
that they had one on the Tokyo-kid and that Tokyo-kid was wanting in
tenacity. To have it on record that I had been guyed by these
insignificant spawn when on night watch, and had to give in to their
impudence because I could not handle them,--this would be an indelible
disgrace on my life. Mark ye,--I am descendant of a samurai of the
"hatamato" class. The blood of the "hatamoto" samurai could be traced to
Mitsunaka Tada, who in turn could claim still a nobler ancestor. I am
different from, and nobler than, these manure-smelling louts. The only
pity is that I am rather short of tact; that I do not know what to do in
such a case. That is the trouble. But I would not throw up the sponge;
not on your life! I only do not know how because I am honest. Just
think,--if the honest does not win, what else is there in this world
that will win? If I cannot beat them to-night, I will tomorrow; if not
tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow. If not the day after tomorrow, I
will sit down right here, get my meals from my home until I beat them.

Thus resolved, I squatted in the middle of the corridor and waited for
the dawn. Myriads of mosquitoes swarmed about me, but I did not mind
them. I felt my leg where I hit it a while ago; it seemed bespattered
with something greasy. I thought it was bleeding. Let it bleed all it
cares! Meanwhile, exhausted by these unwonted affairs, I fell asleep.
When I awoke, up I jumped with a curse. The door on my right was half
opened, and two students were standing in front of me. The moment I
recovered my senses from the drowsy lull, I grabbed a leg of one of them
nearest to me, and yanked it with all my might. He fell down prone. Look
at what you're getting now! I flew at the other fellow, who was much
confused; gave him vigorous shaking twice or thrice, and he only kept
open his bewildering eyes.

"Come up to my room." Evidently they were mollycoddles, for they obeyed
my command without a murmur. The day had become already clear.

I began questioning those two in my room, but,--you cannot pound out the
leopard's spots no matter how you may try,--they seemed determined to
push it through by an insistent declaration of "not guilty," that they
would not confess. While this questioning was going on, the students
upstairs came down, one by one, and began congregating in my room. I
noticed all their eyes were swollen from want of sleep.

"Blooming nice faces you got for not sleeping only one night. And you
call yourselves men! Go, wash your face and come back to hear what I've
got to tell you."

I hurled this shot at them, but none of them went to wash his face. For
about one hour, I had been talking and back-talking with about fifty
students when suddenly Badger put in his appearance. I heard afterward
that the janitor ran to Badger for the purpose of reporting to him that
there was a trouble in the school. What a weak-knee of the janitor to
fetch the principal for so trifling an affair as this! No wonder he
cannot see better times than a janitor.

The principal listened to my explanation, and also to brief remarks from
the students. "Attend school as usual till further notice. Hurry up with
washing your face and breakfast; there isn't much time left." So the
principal let go all the students. Decidedly slow way of handling, this.
If I were the principal, I would expel them right away. It is because
the school accords them such luke-warm treatment that they get "fresh"
and start "guying" the night watch.

He said to me that it must have been trying on my nerves, and that
I might be tired, and also that I need not teach that day. To this
I replied:

"No, Sir, no worrying at all. Such things may happen every night,
but it would not disturb me in the least as long as I breathe. I
will do the teaching. If I were not able to teach on account of lack
of sleep for only one single night, I would make a rebate of my
salary to the school."

I do not know how this impressed him, but he gazed at me for a while,
and called my attention to the fact that my face was rather swollen.
Indeed, I felt it heavy. Besides, it itched all over. I was sure the
mosquitoes must have stung me there to their hearts' content. I
further added:

"My face may be swollen, but I can talk all right; so I will teach;"
thus scratching my face with some warmth. The principal smiled and
remarked, "Well, you have the strength." To tell the truth, he did not
intend remark to be a compliment, but, I think, a sneer.



CHAPTER V.


"Won't you go fishing?" asked Red Shirt He talks in a strangely womanish
voice. One would not be able to tell whether he was a man or a woman. As
a man he should talk like one. Is he not a college graduate? I can talk
man-like enough, and am a graduate from a school of physics at that. It
is a shame for a B.A. to have such a squeak.

I answered with the smallest enthusiasm, whereupon he further asked me
an impolite question if I ever did fishing. I told him not much, that I
once caught three gibels when I was a boy, at a fishing game pond at
Koume, and that I also caught a carp about eight inches long, at a
similar game at the festival of Bishamon at Kagurazaka;--the carp, just
as I was coaxing it out of the water, splashed back into it, and when I
think of the incident I feel mortified at the loss even now. Red Shirt
stuck out his chin and laughed "ho, ho." Why could he not laugh just
like an ordinary person? "Then you are not well acquainted with the
spirit of the game," he cried. "I'll show you if you like." He seemed
highly elated.

Not for me! I take it this way that generally those who are fond of
fishing or shooting have cruel hearts. Otherwise, there is no reason why
they could derive pleasure in murdering innocent creatures. Surely, fish
and birds would prefer living to getting killed. Except those who make
fishing or shooting their calling, it is nonsense for those who are well
off to say that they cannot sleep well unless they seek the lives of
fish or birds. This was the way I looked at the question, but as he was
a B. A. and would have a better command of language when it came to
talking, I kept mum, knowing he would beat me in argument. Red Shirt
mistook my silence for my surrender, and began to induce me to join him
right away, saying he would show me some fish and I should come with him
if I was not busy, because he and Mr. Yoshikawa were lonesome when
alone. Mr. Yoshikawa is the teacher of drawing whom I had nicknamed
Clown. I don't know what's in the mind of this Clown, but he was a
constant visitor at the house of Red Shirt, and wherever he went, Clown
was sure to be trailing after him. They appeared more like master and
servant than two fellow teachers. As Clown used to follow Red Shirt like
a shadow, it would be natural to see them go off together now, but when
those two alone would have been well off, why should they invite
me,--this brusque, unaesthetic fellow,--was hard to understand.
Probably, vain of his fishing ability, he desired to show his skill, but
he aimed at the wrong mark, if that was his intention, as nothing of the
kind would touch me. I would not be chagrined if he fishes out two or
three tunnies. I am a man myself and poor though I may be in the art, I
would hook something if I dropped a line. If I declined his invitation,
Red Shirt would suspect that I refused not because of my lack of
interest in the game but because of my want of skill of fishing. I
weighed the matter thus, and accepted his invitation. After the school,
I returned home and got ready, and having joined Red Shirt and Clown at
the station, we three started to the shore. There was only one boatman
to row; the boat was long and narrow, a kind we do not have in Tokyo. I
looked for fishing rods but could find none.

"How can we fish without rods? How are we going to manage it?" I asked
Clown and he told me with the air of a professional fisherman that no
rods were needed in the deep-sea fishing, but only lines. I had better
not asked him if I was to be talked down in this way.

The boatman was rowing very slowly, but his skill was something
wonderful. We had already come far out to sea, and on turning back, saw
the shore minimized, fading in far distance. The five-storied pagoda of
Tosho Temple appeared above the surrounding woods like a needle-point.
Yonder stood Aoshima (Blue Island). Nobody was living on this island
which a closer view showed to be covered with stones and pine trees. No
wonder no one could live there. Red Shirt was intently surveying about
and praising the general view as fine. Clown also termed it "an
absolutely fine view." I don't know whether it is so fine as to be
absolute, but there was no doubt as to the exhilarating air. I realized
it as the best tonic to be thus blown by the fresh sea breeze upon a
wide expanse of water. I felt hungry.

"Look at that pine; its trunk is straight and spreads its top branches
like an umbrella. Isn't it a Turnersque picture?" said Red Shirt. "Yes,
just like Turner's," responded Clown, "Isn't the way it curves just
elegant? Exactly the touch of Turner," he added with some show of pride.
I didn't know what Turner was, but as I could get along without knowing
it, I kept silent. The boat turned to the left with the island on the
right. The sea was so perfectly calm as to tempt one to think he was not
on the deep sea. The pleasant occasion was a credit to Red Shirt. As I
wished, if possible, to land on the island, I asked the boatman if our
boat could not be made to it. Upon this Red Shirt objected, saying that
we could do so but it was not advisable to go too close the shore for
fishing. I kept still for a while. Then Clown made the unlooked-for
proposal that the island be named Turner Island. "That's good; We shall
call it so hereafter," seconded Red Shirt. If I was included in that
"We," it was something I least cared for. Aoshima was good enough for
me. "By the way, how would it look," said Clown, "if we place Madonna by
Raphael upon that rock? It would make a fine picture."

"Let's quit talking about Madonna, ho, ho, ho," and Red Shirt emitted a
spooky laugh.

"That's all right. Nobody's around," remarked Clown as he glanced at me,
and turning his face to other direction significantly, smiled
devilishly. I felt sickened.

As it was none of my business whether it was a Madonna or a kodanna
(young master), they let pose there any old way, but it was vulgar to
feign assurance that one's subject is in no danger of being understood
so long as others did not know the subject. Clown claims himself as a
Yedo kid. I thought that the person called Madonna was no other than a
favorite geisha of Red Shirt. I should smile at the idea of his gazing
at his tootsy-wootsy standing beneath a pine tree. It would be better
if Clown would make an oil painting of the scene and exhibit it for
the public.

"This will be about the best place." So saying the boatman stopped
rowing the boat and dropped an anchor.

"How deep is it?" asked Red Shirt, and was told about six fathoms.

"Hard to fish sea-breams in six fathoms," said Red Shirt as he dropped a
line into the water. The old sport appeared to expect to fetch some
bream. Bravo!

"It wouldn't be hard for you. Besides it is calm," Clown fawningly
remarked, and he too dropped a line. The line had only a tiny bit of
lead that looked like a weight. It had no float. To fish without a float
seemed as nearly reasonable as to measure the heat without a
thermometer, which was something impossible for me. So I looked on. They
then told me to start, and asked me if I had any line. I told them I had
more than I could use, but that I had no float.

"To say that one is unable to fish without a float shows that he is a
novice," piped up Clown.

"See? When the line touches the bottom, you just manage it with your
finger on the edge. If a fish bites, you could tell in a minute. There
it goes," and Red Shirt hastily started taking out the line. I wondered
what he had got, but I saw no fish, only the bait was gone. Ha, good for
you, Gov'nur!

"Wasn't it too bad! I'm sure it was a big one. If you miss that way,
with your ability, we would have to keep a sharper watch to-day. But,
say, even if we miss the fish, it's far better than staring at a float,
isn't it? Just like saying he can't ride a bike without a brake." Clown
has been getting rather gay, and I was almost tempted to swat him. I'm
just as good as they are. The sea isn't leased by Red Shirt, and there
might be one obliging bonito which might get caught by my line. I
dropped my line then, and toyed it with my finger carelessly.

After a while something shook my line with successive jerks. I thought
it must be a fish. Unless it was something living, it would not give
that tremulous shaking. Good! I have it, and I commenced drawing in the
line, while Clown jibed me "What? Caught one already? Very remarkable,
indeed!" I had drawn in nearly all the line, leaving only about five
feet in the water. I peeped over and saw a fish that looked like a gold
fish with stripes was coming up swimming to right and left. It was
interesting. On taking it out of the water, it wriggled and jumped, and
covered my face with water. After some effort, I had it and tried to
detach the hook, but it would not come out easily. My hands became
greasy and the sense was anything but pleasing. I was irritated; I swung
the line and banged the fish against the bottom of the boat. It speedily
died. Red Shirt and Clown watched me with surprise. I washed my hands in
the water but they still smelled "fishy." No more for me! I don't care
what fish I might get, I don't want to grab a fish. And I presume the
fish doesn't want to be grabbed either. I hastily rolled up the line.

"Splendid for the first honor, but that's goruki," Clown again made a
"fresh" remark.

"Goruki sounds like the name of a Russian literator," said Red Shirt.
"Yes, just like a Russian literator," Clown at once seconded Red Shirt.
Gorky for a Russian literator, Maruki a photographer of Shibaku, and
komeno-naruki (rice) a life-giver, eh? This Red Shirt has a bad hobby of
marshalling before anybody the name of foreigners. Everybody has his
specialty. How could a teacher of mathematics like me tell whether it is
a Gorky or shariki (rikishaman). Red Shirt should have been a little
more considerate. And if he wants to mention such names at all, let him
mention "Autobiography of Ben Franklin," or "Pushing to the Front," or
something we all know. Red Shirt has been seen once in a while bringing
a magazine with a red cover entitled Imperial Literature to the school
and poring over it with reverence. I heard it from Porcupine that Red
Shirt gets his supply of all foreign names from that magazine. Well, I
should say!

For some time, Red Shirt and Clown fished assiduously and within about
an hour they caught about fifteen fish. The funny part of it was that
all they caught were goruki; of sea-bream there was not a sign.

"This is a day of bumper crop of Russian literature," Red Shirt said,
and Clown answered:

"When one as skilled as you gets nothing but goruki, it's natural for me
to get nothing else."

The boatman told me that this small-sized fish goruki has too many
tiny bones and tastes too poor to be fit for eating, but they could be
used for fertilising. So Red Shirt and Clown were fishing fertilisers
with vim and vigor. As for me, one goruki was enough and I laid down
myself on the bottom, and looked up at the sky. This was far more
dandy than fishing.

Then the two began whispering. I could not hear well, nor did I care to.
I was looking up at the sky and thinking about Kiyo. If I had enough of
money, I thought, and came with Kiyo to such a picturesque place, how
joyous it would be. No matter how picturesque the scene might be, it
would be flat in the company of Clown or of his kind. Kiyo is a poor
wrinkled woman, but I am not ashamed to take her to any old place. Clown
or his likes, even in a Victoria or a yacht, or in a sky-high position,
would not be worthy to come within her shadow. If I were the head
teacher, and Red Shirt I, Clown would be sure to fawn on me and jeer at
Red Shirt. They say Yedo kids are flippant. Indeed, if a fellow like
Clown was to travel the country and repeatedly declare "I am a Yedo
kid," no wonder the country folk would decide that the flippant are Yedo
kids and Yedo kids are flippant. While I was meditating like this, I
heard suppressed laughter. Between their laughs they talked something,
but I could not make out what they were talking about. "Eh? I don't
know......" "...... That's true ...... he doesn't know ...... isn't it
pity, though ......." "Can that be......." "With grasshoppers ......
that's a fact."

I did not listen to what they were talking, but when I heard Clown say
"grasshoppers," I cocked my ear instinctively. Clown emphasized, for
what reason I do not know the word "grasshopers" so that it would be
sure to reach my ear plainly, and he blurred the rest on purpose. I did
not move, and kept on listening. "That same old Hotta," "that may be the
case...." "Tempura ...... ha, ha, ha ......" "...... incited ......"
"...... dango also? ......"

The words were thus choppy, but judging by their saying "grasshoppers,"
"tempura" or "dango," I was sure they were secretly talking something
about me. If they wanted to talk, they should do it louder. If they
wanted to discuss something secret, why in thunder did they invite me?
What damnable blokes! Grasshoppers or glass-stoppers, I was not in the
wrong; I have kept quiet to save the face of Badger because the
principle asked me to leave the matter to him. Clown has been making
unnecessary criticisms; out with your old paint-brushes there! Whatever
concerns me, I will settle it myself sooner or later, and they had just
to keep off my toes. But remarks such as "the same old Hotta" or "......
incited ......" worried me a bit. I could not make out whether they
meant that Hotta incited me to extend the circle of the trouble, or that
he incited the students to get at me. As I gazed at the blue sky, the
sunlight gradually waned and chilly winds commenced stirring. The clouds
that resembled the streaky smokes of joss sticks were slowly extending
over a clear sky, and by degrees they were absorbed, melted and changed
to a faint fog.

"Well, let's be going," said Red Shirt suddenly. "Yes, this is the time
we were going. See your Madonna to-night?" responded Clown. "Cut out
nonsense ...... might mean a serious trouble," said Red Shirt who was
reclining against the edge of the boat, now raising himself. "O, that's
all right if he hears.......," and when Clown, so saying, turned himself
my way, I glared squarely in his face. Clown turned back as if to keep
away from a dazzling light, and with "Ha, this is going some," shrugged
his shoulders and scratched his head.

The boat was now being rowed shore-ward over the calm sea. "You don't
seem much fond of fishing," asked Red Shirt. "No, I'd rather prefer
lying and looking at the sky," I answered, and threw the stub of
cigarette I had been smoking into the water; it sizzled and floated on
the waves parted by the oar.

"The students are all glad because you have come. So we want you do your
best." Red Shirt this time started something quite alien to fishing. "I
don't think they are," I said. "Yes; I don't mean it as flattery. They
are, sure. Isn't it so, Mr. Yoshikawa?"

"I should say they are. They're crazy over it," said Clown with an
unctuous smile. Strange that whatever Clown says, it makes me itching
mad. "But, if you don't look out, there is danger," warned Red Shirt.

"I am fully prepared for all dangers," I replied. In fact, I had made up
my mind either to get fired or to make all the students in the dormitory
apologize to me.

"If you talk that way, that cuts everything out. Really, as a head
teacher, I've been considering what is good for you, and wouldn't like
you to mistake it."

"The head teacher is really your friend. And I'm doing what I can for
you, though mighty little, because you and I are Yedo kids, and I would
like to have you stay with us as long as possible and we can help each
other." So said Clown and it sounded almost human. I would sooner hang
myself than to get helped by Clown.

"And the students are all glad because you had come, but there are many
circumstances," continued Red Shirt. "You may feel angry sometimes but
be patient for the present, and I will never do anything to hurt your
interests."

"You say 'many circumstances'; what are they?"

"They're rather complicated. Well, they'll be clear to you by and by.
You'll understand them naturally without my talking them over. What do
you say, Mr. Yoshikawa?"

"Yes, they're pretty complicated; hard to get them cleared up in a
jiffy. But they'll become clear by-the-bye. Will be understood naturally
without my explaining them," Clown echoed Red Shirt.

"If they're such a bother, I don't mind not hearing them. I only asked
you because you sprang the subject."

"That's right. I may seem irresponsible in not concluding the thing I
had started. Then this much I'll tell you. I mean no offense, but you
are fresh from school, and teaching is a new experience. And a school is
a place where somewhat complicated private circumstances are common and
one cannot do everything straight and simple".

"If can't get it through straight and simple, how does it go?"

"Well, there you are so straight as that. As I was saying, you're short
of experience........"

"I should be. As I wrote it down in my record-sheet, I'm 23 years and
four months."

"That's it. So you'd be done by some one in unexpected quarter."

"I'm not afraid who might do me as long as I'm honest."

"Certainly not. No need be afraid, but I do say you look sharp; your
predecessor was done."

I noticed Clown had become quiet, and turning round, saw him at the
stern talking with the boatman. Without Clown, I found our conversation
running smoothly.

"By whom was my predecessor done?"

"If I point out the name, it would reflect on the honor of that person,
so I can't mention it. Besides there is no evidence to prove it and I
may be in a bad fix if I say it. At any rate, since you're here, my
efforts will prove nothing if you fail. Keep a sharp look-out, please."

"You say look-out, but I can't be more watchful than I'm now. If I don't
do anything wrong, after all, that's all right isn't it?"

Red Shirt laughed. I did not remember having said anything provocative
of laughter. Up to this very minute, I have been firm in my conviction
that I'm right. When I come to consider the situation, it appears that a
majority of people are encouraging others to become bad. They seem to
believe that one must do wrong in order to succeed. If they happen to
see some one honest and pure, they sneer at him as "Master Darling" or
"kiddy." What's the use then of the instructors of ethics at grammar
schools or middle schools teaching children not to tell a lie or to be
honest. Better rather make a bold departure and teach at schools the
gentle art of lying or the trick of distrusting others, or show pupils
how to do others. That would be beneficial for the person thus taught
and for the public as well. When Red Shirt laughed, he laughed at my
simplicity. My word! what chances have the simple-hearted or the pure in
a society where they are made objects of contempt! Kiyo would never
laugh at such a time; she would listen with profound respect. Kiyo is
far superior to Red Shirt.

"Of course, that't all right as long as you don't do anything wrong. But
although you may not do anything wrong, they will do you just the same
unless you can see the wrong of others. There are fellows you have got
to watch,--the fellows who may appear off-hand, simple and so kind as to
get boarding house for you...... Getting rather cold. 'Tis already
autumn, isn't it. The beach looks beer-color in the fog. A fine view.
Say, Mr. Yoshikawa, what do you think of the scene along the
beach?......" This in a loud voice was addressed to Clown.

"Indeed, this is a fine view. I'd get a sketch of it if I had time.
Seems a pity to leave it there," answered Clown.

A light was seen upstairs at Minato-ya, and just as the whistle of a
train was sounded, our boat pushed its nose deep into the sand. "Well,
so you're back early," courtesied the wife of the boatman as she stepped
upon the sand. I stood on the edge of the boat; and whoop! I jumped out
to the beach.



CHAPTER VI.


I heartily despise Clown. It would be beneficial for Japan if such a
fellow were tied to a quernstone and dumped into the sea. As to Red
Shirt, his voice did not suit my fancy. I believe he suppresses his
natural tones to put on airs and assume genteel manner. He may put on
all kinds of airs, but nothing good will come of it with that type of
face. If anything falls in love with him, perhaps the Madonna will be
about the limit. As a head-teacher, however, he is more serious than
Clown. As he did not say definitely, I cannot get to the point, but it
appears that he warned me to look-out for Porcupine as he is crooked. If
that was the case, he should have declared it like a man. And if
Porcupine is so bad a teacher as that, it would be better to discharge
him. What a lack of backbone for a head teacher and a Bachelor of Arts!
As he is a fellow so cautious as to be unable to mention the name of the
other even in a whisper, he is surely a mollycoddle. All mollycoddles
are kind, and that Red Shirt may be as kind as a woman. His kindness is
one thing, and his voice quite another, and it would be wrong to
disregard his kindness on account of his voice. But then, isn't this
world a funny place! The fellow I don't like is kind to me, and the
friend whom I like is crooked,--how absurd! Probably everything here
goes in opposite directions as it is in the country, the contrary holds
in Tokyo. A dangerous place, this. By degrees, fires may get frozen and
custard pudding petrified. But it is hardly believable that Porcupine
would incite the students, although he might do most anything he wishes
as he is best liked among them. Instead of taking in so roundabout a
way, in the first place, it would have saved him a lot of trouble if he
came direct to me and got at me for a fight. If I am in his way, he had
better tell me so, and ask me to resign because I am in his way. There
is nothing that cannot be settled by talking it over. If what he says
sounds reasonable, I would resign even tomorrow. This is not the only
town where I can get bread and butter; I ought not to die homeless
wherever I go. I thought Porcupine was a better sport.

When I came here, Porcupine was the first to treat me to ice water. To
be treated by such a fellow, even if it is so trifling a thing as ice
water, affects my honor. I had only one glass then and had him pay only
one sen and a half. But one sen or half sen, I shall not die in peace if
I accept a favor from a swindler. I will pay it back tomorrow when I go
to the school. I borrowed three yen from Kiyo. That three yen is not
paid yet to-day, though it is five years since. Not that I could not
pay, but that I did not want to. Kiyo never looks to my pocket thinking
I shall pay it back by-the-bye. Not by any means. I myself do not expect
to fulfill cold obligation like a stranger by meditating on returning
it. The more I worry about paying it back, the more I may be doubting
the honest heart of Kiyo. It would be the same as traducing her pure
mind. I have not paid her back that three yen not because I regard her
lightly, but because I regard her as part of myself. Kiyo and Porcupine
cannot be compared, of course, but whether it be ice water or tea, the
fact that I accept another's favor without saying anything is an act of
good-will, taking the other on his par value, as a decent fellow.
Instead of chipping in my share, and settling each account, to receive
munificence with grateful mind is an acknowledgment which no amount of
money can purchase. I have neither title nor official position but I am
an independent fellow, and to have an independent fellow kowtow to you
in acknowledgment of the favor you extend him should be considered as
far more than a return acknowledgment with a million yen. I made
Porcupine blow one sen and a half, and gave him my gratitude which is
more costly than a million yen. He ought to have been thankful for that.
And then what an outrageous fellow to plan a cowardly action behind my
back! I will give him back that one sen and a half tomorrow, and all
will be square. Then I will land him one. When I thought thus far, I
felt sleepy and slept like a log. The next day, as I had something in my
mind, I went to the school earlier than usual and waited for Porcupine,
but he did not appear for a considerable time. "Confucius" was there, so
was Clown, and finally Red Shirt, but for Porcupine there was a piece of
chalk on his desk but the owner was not there. I had been thinking of
paying that one sen and a half as soon as I entered the room, and had
brought the coppers to the school grasped in my hand. My hands get
easily sweaty, and when I opened my hand, I found them wet. Thinking
that Porcupine might say something if wet coins were given him, I placed
them upon my desk, and cooled them by blowing in them. Then Red Shirt
came to me and said he was sorry to detain me yesterday, thought I have
been annoyed. I told him I was not annoyed at all, only I was hungry.
Thereupon Red Shirt put his elbows upon the desk, brought his
sauce-pan-like face close to my nose, and said; "Say, keep dark what I
told you yesterday in the boat. You haven't told it anybody, have you?"
He seems quite a nervous fellow as becoming one who talks in a feminish
voice. It was certain that I had not told it to anybody, but as I was in
the mood to tell it and had already one sen and a half in my hand, I
would be a little rattled if a gag was put on me. To the devil with Red
Shirt! Although he had not mentioned the name "Porcupine," he had given
me such pointers as to put me wise as to who the objective was, and now
he requested me not to blow the gaff!--it was an irresponsibility least
to be expected from a head teacher. In the ordinary run of things, he
should step into the thick of the fight between Porcupine and me, and
side with me with all his colors flying. By so doing, he might be worthy
the position of the head teacher, and vindicate the principle of wearing
red shirts.

I told the head teacher that I had not divulged the secret to anybody
but was going to fight it out with Porcupine. Red Shirt was greatly
perturbed, and stuttered out; "Say, don't do anything so rash as that. I
don't remember having stated anything plainly to you about Mr.
Hotta....... if you start a scrimmage here, I'll be greatly
embarrassed." And he asked the strangely outlandish question if I had
come to the school to start trouble? Of course not, I said, the school
would not stand for my making trouble and pay me salary for it. Red
Shirt then, perspiring, begged me to keep the secret as mere reference
and never mention it. "All right, then," I assured him, "this robs me
shy, but since you're so afraid of it, I'll keep it all to myself." "Are
you sure?" repeated Red Shirt. There was no limit to his womanishness.
If Red Shirt was typical of Bachelors of Arts, I did not see much in
them. He appeared composed after having requested me to do something
self-contradictory and wanting logic, and on top of that suspects my
sincerity.

"Don't you mistake," I said to myself, "I'm a man to the marrow, and
haven't the idea of breaking my own promises; mark that!"

Meanwhile the occupants of the desks on both my sides came to the room,
and Red Shirt hastily withdrew to his own desk. Red Shirt shows some air
even in his walk. In stepping about the room, he places down his shoes
so as to make no sound. For the first time I came to know that making no
sound in one's walk was something satisfactory to one's vanity. He was
not training himself for a burglar, I suppose. He should cut out such
nonsense before it gets worse. Then the bugle for the opening of classes
was heard. Porcupine did not appear after all. There was no other way
but to leave the coins upon the desk and attend the class.

When I returned to the room a little late after the first hour class,
all the teachers were there at their desks, and Porcupine too was
there. The moment Porcupine saw my face, he said that he was late on
my account, and I should pay him a fine. I took out that one sen and a
half, and saying it was the price of the ice water, shoved it on his
desk and told him to take it. "Don't josh me," he said, and began
laughing, but as I appeared unusually serious, he swept the coins back
to my desk, and flung back, "Quit fooling." So he really meant to
treat me, eh?

"No fooling; I mean it," I said. "I have no reason to accept your treat,
and that's why I pay you back. Why don't you take it?"

"If you're so worried about that one sen and a half, I will take it, but
why do you pay it at this time so suddenly?"

"This time or any time, I want to pay it back. I pay it back because I
don't like you treat me."

Porcupine coldly gazed at me and ejaculated "H'm." If I had not been
requested by Red Shirt, here was the chance to show up his cowardice and
make it hot for him. But since I had promised not to reveal the secret,
I could do nothing. What the deuce did he mean by "H'm" when I was red
with anger.

"I'll take the price of the ice water, but I want you leave your
boarding house."

"Take that coin; that's all there is to it. To leave or not,--that's my
pleasure."

"But that is not your pleasure. The boss of your boarding house came to
me yesterday and wanted me to tell you leave the house, and when I heard
his explanation, what he said was reasonable. And I dropped there on my
way here this morning to hear more details and make sure of everything."

What Porcupine was trying to get at was all dark to me.

"I don't care a snap what the boss was damn well pleased to tell you," I
cried. "What do you mean by deciding everything by yourself! If there is
any reason, tell me first. What's the matter with you, deciding what the
boss says is reasonable without hearing me."

"Then you shall hear," he said. "You're too tough and been regarded
a nuisance over there. Say, the wife of a boarding house is a wife,
not a maid, and you've been such a four-flusher as to make her wipe
your feet."

"When did I make her wipe my feet?" I asked.

"I don't know whether you did or did not, but anyway they're pretty sore
about you. He said he can make ten or fifteen yen easily if he sell a
roll of panel-picture."

"Damn the chap! Why did he take me for a boarder then!"

"I don't know why. They took you but they want you leave because they
got tired of you. So you'd better get out."

"Sure, I will. Who'd stay in such a house even if they beg me on their
knees. You're insolent to have induced me to go to such a false accuser
in the first place."

"Might be either I'm insolent or you're tough." Porcupine is no less
hot-tempered than I am, and spoke with equally loud voice. All the other
teachers in the room, surprised, wondering what has happened, looked in
our direction and craned their necks. I was not conscious of having done
anything to be ashamed of, so I stood up and looked around. Clown alone
was laughing amused. The moment he met my glaring stare as if to say
"You too want to fight?" he suddenly assumed a grave face and became
serious. He seemed to be a little cowed. Meanwhile the bugle was heard,
and Porcupine and I stopped the quarrel and went to the class rooms.

In the afternoon, a meeting of the teachers was going to be held to
discuss the question of punishment of those students in the dormitory
who offended me the other night. This meeting was a thing I had to
attend for the first time in my life, and I was totally ignorant about
it. Probably it was where the teachers gathered to blow about their own
opinions and the principal bring them to compromise somehow. To
compromise is a method used when no decision can be delivered as to the
right or wrong of either side. It seemed to me a waste of time to hold a
meeting over an affair in which the guilt of the other side was plain as
daylight. No matter who tried to twist it round, there was no ground for
doubting the facts. It would have been better if the principal had
decided at once on such a plain case; he is surely wanting in decision.
If all principals are like this, a principal is a synonym of a
"dilly-dally."

The meeting hall was a long, narrow room next to that of the principal,
and was used for dining room. About twenty chairs, with black leather
seat, were lined around a narrow table, and the whole scene looked like
a restaurant in Kanda. At one end of the table the principal took his
seat, and next to him Red Shirt. All the rest shifted for themselves,
but the gymnasium teacher is said always to take the seat farthest down
out of modesty. The situation was new to me, so I sat down between the
teachers of natural history and of Confucius. Across the table sat
Porcupine and Clown. Think how I might, the face of Clown was a
degrading type. That of Porcupine was far more charming, even if I was
now on bad terms with him. The panel picture which hung in the alcove of
the reception hall of Yogen temple where I went to the funeral of my
father, looked exactly like this Porcupine. A priest told me the picture
was the face of a strange creature called Idaten. To-day he was pretty
sore, and frequently stared at me with his fiery eyes rolling. "You
can't bulldoze me with that," I thought, and rolled my own in defiance
and stared back at him. My eyes are not well-shaped but their large size
is seldom beaten by others. Kiyo even once suggested that I should make
a fine actor because I had big eyes.

"All now here?" asked the principal, and the clerk named Kawamura
counted one, two, three and one was short. "Just one more," said the
clerk, and it ought to be; Hubbard Squash was not there. I don't know
what affinity there is between Hubbard Squash and me, but I can never
forget his face. When I come to the teachers' room, his face attracts me
first; while walking out in the street, his manners are recalled to my
mind. When I go to the hot springs, sometimes I meet him with a
pale-face in the bath, and if I hallooed to him, he would raise his
trembling head, making me feel sorry for him. In the school there is no
teacher so quiet as he. He seldom, if ever, laughs or talks. I knew the
word "gentleman" from books, and thought it was found only in the
dictionary, but not a thing alive. But since I met Hubbard Squash, I was
impressed for the first time that the word represented a real substance.

As he is a man so attached to me, I had noticed his absence as soon as I
entered the meeting hall. To tell the truth, I came to the hall with the
intention of sitting next to him. The principal said that the absentee
may appear shortly, and untied a package he had before him, taking out
some hectograph sheets and began reading them. Red Shirt began polishing
his amber pipe with a silk handkerchief. This was his hobby, which was
probably becoming to him. Others whispered with their neighbors. Still
others were writing nothings upon the table with the erasers at the end
of their pencils. Clown talked to Porcupine once in a while, but he was
not responsive. He only said "Umh" or "Ahm," and stared at me with
wrathful eyes. I stared back with equal ferocity.

Then the tardy Hubbard Squash apologetically entered, and politely
explained that he was unavoidably detained. "Well, then the meeting is
called to order," said Badger. On these sheets was printed, first the
question of the punishment of the offending students, second that of
superintending the students, and two or three other matters. Badger,
putting on airs as usual, as if he was an incarnation of education,
spoke to the following effect.

"Any misdeeds or faults among the teachers or the students in this
school are due to the lack of virtues in my person, and whenever
anything happens, I inwardly feel ashamed that a man like me could hold
his position. Unfortunately such an affair has taken place again, and I
have to apologize from my heart. But since it has happened, it cannot be
helped; we must settle it one way or other. The facts are as you already
know, and I ask you gentlemen to state frankly the best means by which
the affair may be settled."

When I heard the principal speak, I was impressed that indeed the
principal, or Badger, was saying something "grand." If the principal was
willing to assume all responsibilities, saying it was his fault or his
lack of virtues, it would have been better stop punishing the students
and get himself fired first. Then there will be no need of holding such
thing as a meeting. In the first place, just consider it by common
sense. I was doing my night duty right, and the students started
trouble. The wrong doer is neither the principal nor I. If Porcupine
incited them, then it would be enough to get rid of the students and
Porcupine. Where in thunder would be a peach of damfool who always
swipes other people's faults and says "these are mine?" It was a stunt
made possible only by Badger. Having made such an illogical statement,
he glanced at the teachers in a highly pleased manner. But no one opened
his mouth. The teacher of natural history was gazing at the crow which
had hopped on the roof of the nearby building. The teacher of Confucius
was folding and unfolding the hectograph sheet. Porcupine was still
staring at me. If a meeting was so nonsensical an affair as this, I
would have been better absent taking a nap at home.

I became irritated, and half raised myself, intending to make a
convincing speech, but just then Red Shirt began saying something and I
stopped. I saw him say something, having put away his pipe, and wiping
his face with a striped silk handkerchief. I'm sure he copped that
handkerchief from the Madonna; men should use white linen. He said:

"When I heard of the rough affairs in the dormitory, I was greatly
ashamed as the head teacher of my lack of discipline and influence. When
such an affair takes place there is underlying cause somewhere. Looking
at the affair itself, it may seem that the students were wrong, but in a
closer study of the facts, we may find the responsibility resting with
the School. Therefore, I'm afraid it might affect us badly in the future
if we administer too severe a punishment on the strength of what has
been shown on the surface. As they are youngsters, full of life and
vigor, they might half-consciously commit some youthful pranks, without
due regard as to their good or bad. As to the mode of punishment itself,
I have no right to suggest since it is a matter entirely in the hand of
the principal, but I should ask, considering these points, that some
leniency be shown toward the students."

Well, as Badger, so was Red Shirt. He declares the "Rough Necks" among
the students is not their fault but the fault of the teachers. A crazy
person beats other people because the beaten are wrong. Very grateful,
indeed. If the students were so full of life and vigor, shovel them out
into the campus and let them wrestle their heads off. Who would have
grasshoppers put into his bed unconsciously! If things go on like this,
they may stab some one asleep, and get freed as having done the deed
unconsciously.

Having figured it out in this wise, I thought I would state my own views
on the matter, but I wanted to give them an eloquent speech and fairly
take away their breath. I have an affection of the windpipe which clog
after two or three words when I am excited. Badger and Red Shirt are
below my standing in their personality, but they were skilled in
speech-making, and it would not do to have them see my awkwardness. I'll
make a rough note of composition first, I thought, and started mentally
making a sentence, when, to my surprise, Clown stood up suddenly. It was
unusual for Clown to state his opinion. He spoke in his flippant tone:

"Really the grasshopper incident and the whoop-la affair are peculiar
happenings which are enough to make us doubt our own future. We teachers
at this time must strive to clear the atmosphere of the school. And
what the principal and the head teacher have said just now are fit and
proper. I entirely agree with their opinions. I wish the punishment be
moderate."

In what Clown had said there were words but no meaning. It was a
juxtaposition of high-flown words making no sense. All that I understood
was the words, "I entirely agree with their opinions."

Clown's meaning was not clear to me, but as I was thoroughly angered, I
rose without completing my rough note.

"I am entirely opposed to......." I said, but the rest did not come at
once. ".......I don't like such a topsy-turvy settlement," I added and
the fellows began laughing. "The students are absolutely wrong from the
beginning. It would set a bad precedent if we don't make them apologize
....... What do we care if we kick them all out ....... darn the kids
trying to guy a new comer......." and I sat down. Then the teacher of
natural history who sat on my right whined a weak opinion, saying "The
students may be wrong, but if we punish them too severely, they may
start a reaction and would make it rather bad. I am for the moderate
side, as the head teacher suggested." The teacher of Confucius on my
left expressed his agreement with the moderate side, and so did the
teacher of history endorse the views of the head teacher. Dash those
weak-knees! Most of them belonged to the coterie of Red Shirt. It would
make a dandy school if such fellows run it. I had decided in my mind
that it must be either the students apologize to me or I resign, and if
the opinion of Red Shirt prevailed, I had determined to return home and
pack up. I had no ability of out-talking such fellows, or even if I had,
I was in no humor to keeping their company for long. Since I don't
expect to remain in the school, the devil may take care of the rest. If
I said anything, they would only laugh; so I shut my mouth tight.

Porcupine, who up to this time had been listening to the others, stood
up with some show of spirit. Ha, the fellow was going to endorse the
views of Red Shirt, eh? You and I got to fight it out anyway, I thought,
so do any way you darn please. Porcupine spoke in a thunderous voice:

"I entirely differ from the opinions of the head teacher and other
gentlemen. Because, viewed from whatever angle, this incident cannot be
other than an attempt by those fifty students in the dormitory to make
a fool of a new teacher. The head teacher seems to trace the cause of
the trouble to the personality of that teacher himself, but, begging
his pardon, I think he is mistaken. The night that new teacher was on
night duty was not long after his arrival, not more than twenty days
after he had come into contact with the students. During those short
twenty days, the students could have no reason to criticise his
knowledges or his person. If he was insulted for some cause which
deserved insult, there may be reasons in our considering the act of the
students, but if we show undue leniency toward the frivolous students
who would insult a new teacher without cause, it would affect the
dignity of this school. The spirit of education is not only in
imparting technical knowledges, but also in encouraging honest,
ennobling and samurai-like virtues, while eliminating the evil tendency
to vulgarity and roughness. If we are afraid of reaction or further
trouble, and satisfy ourselves with make-shifts, there is no telling
when we can ever get rid of this evil atmosphere[G]. We are here to
eradicate this very evil. If we mean to countenance it, we had better
not accepted our positions here. For these reasons, I believe it proper
to punish the students in the dormitory to the fullest extent and also
make them apologize to that teacher in the open."

All were quiet. Red Shirt again began polishing his pipe. I was greatly
elated. He spoke almost what I had wanted to. I'm such a simple-hearted
fellow that I forgot all about the bickerings with Porcupine, and looked
at him with a grateful face, but he appeared to take no notice of me.

After a while, Porcupine again stood up, and said. "I forgot to mention
just now, so I wish to add. The teacher on night duty that night seems
to have gone to the hot springs during his duty hours, and I think it a
blunder. It is a matter of serious misconduct to take the advantage of
being in sole charge of the school, to slip out to a hot springs. The
bad behavior of the students is one thing; this blunder is another, and
I wish the principal to call attention of the responsible person to
that matter."

A strange fellow! No sooner had he backed me up than he began talking me
down. I knew the other night watch went out during his duty hours, and
thought it was a custom, so I went as far out as to the hot springs
without considering the situation seriously. But when it was pointed out
like this, I realised that I had been wrong. Thereupon I rose again and
said; "I really went to the hot springs. It was wrong and I apologize."
Then all again laughed. Whatever I say, they laugh. What a lot of boobs!
See if you fellows can make a clean breast of your own fault like this!
You fellows laugh because you can't talk straight.

After that the principal said that since it appeared that there will be
no more opinions, he will consider the matter well and administer what
he may deem a proper punishment. I may here add the result of the
meeting. The students in the dormitory were given one week's
confinement, and in addition to that, apologized to me. If they had not
apologized, I intended to resign and go straight home, but as it was it
finally resulted in a bigger and still worse affair, of which more
later. The principal then at the meeting said something to the effect
that the manners of the students should be directed rightly by the
teachers' influence, and as the first step, no teacher should patronize,
if possible, the shops where edibles and drinks were served, excepting,
however, in case of farewell party or such social gatherings. He said he
would like no teacher to go singly to eating houses of lower kind--for
instance, noodle-house or dango shop.... And again all laughed. Clown
looked at Porcupine, said "tempura" and winked his eyes, but Porcupine
regarded him in silence. Good!

My "think box" is not of superior quality, so things said by Badger were
not clear to me, but I thought if a fellow can't hold the job of teacher
in a middle school because he patronizes a noodle-house or dango shop,
the fellow with bear-like appetite like me will never be able to hold
it. If it was the case, they ought to have specified when calling for a
teacher one who does not eat noodle and dango. To give an appointment
without reference to the matter at first, and then to proclaim that
noodle or dango should not be eaten was a blow to a fellow like me who
has no other petty hobby. Then Red Shirt again opened his mouth.

"Teachers of the middle school belong to the upper class of society and
they should not be looking after material pleasures only, for it would
eventually have effect upon their personal character. But we are human,
and it would be intolerable in a small town like this to live without
any means of affording some pleasure to ourselves, such as fishing,
reading literary products, composing new style poems, or haiku
(17-syllable poem). We should seek mental consolation of higher order."

There seemed no prospect that he would quit the hot air. If it was a
mental consolation to fish fertilisers on the sea, have goruki for
Russian literature, or to pose a favorite geisha beneath pine tree, it
would be quite as much a mental consolation to eat dempura noodle and
swallow dango. Instead of dwelling on such sham consolations, he would
find his time better spent by washing his red shirts. I became so
exasperated that I asked; "Is it also a mental consolation to meet the
Madonna?" No one laughed this time and looked at each other with queer
faces, and Red Shirt himself hung his head, apparently embarrassed. Look
at that! A good shot, eh? Only I was sorry for Hubbard Squash who,
having heard the remark, became still paler.



CHAPTER VII.


That very night I left the boarding house. While I was packing up, the
boss came to me and asked if there was anything wrong in the way I was
treated. He said he would be pleased to correct it and suit me if I was
sore at anything. This beats me, sure. How is it possible for so many
boneheads to be in this world! I could not tell whether they wanted me
to stay or get out. They're crazy. It would be disgrace for a Yedo kid
to fuss about with such a fellow; so I hired a rikishaman and speedily
left the house.

I got out of the house all right, but had no place to go. The rikishaman
asked me where I was going. I told him to follow me with his mouth shut,
then he shall see and I kept on walking. I thought of going to
Yamashiro-ya to avoid the trouble of hunting up a new boarding house,
but as I had no prospect of being able to stay there long, I would have
to renew the hunt sooner or later, so I gave up the idea. If I continued
walking this way, I thought I might strike a house with the sign of
"boarders taken" or something similar, and I would consider the first
house with the sign the one provided for me by Heaven. I kept on going
round and round through the quiet, decent part of the town when I found
myself at Kajimachi. This used to be former samurai quarters where one
had the least chance of finding any boarding house, and I was going to
retreat to a more lively part of the town when a good idea occurred to
me. Hubbard Squash whom I respected lived in this part of the town. He
is a native of the town, and has lived in the house inherited from his
great grandfather. He must be, I thought, well informed about nearly
everything in this town. If I call on him for his help, he will perhaps
find me a good boarding house. Fortunately, I called at his house once
before, and there was no trouble in finding it out. I knocked at the
door of a house, which I knew must be his, and a woman about fifty years
old with an old fashioned paper-lantern in hand, appeared at the door. I
do not despise young women, but when I see an aged woman, I feel much
more solicitous. This is probably because I am so fond of Kiyo. This
aged lady, who looked well-refined, was certainly mother of Hubbard
Squash whom she resembled. She invited me inside, but I asked her to
call him out for me. When he came I told him all the circumstances, and
asked him if he knew any who would take me for a boarder. Hubbard Squash
thought for a moment in a sympathetic mood, then said there was an old
couple called Hagino, living in the rear of the street, who had asked
him sometime ago to get some boarders for them as there are only two in
the house and they had some vacant rooms. Hubbard Squash was kind enough
to go along with me and find out if the rooms were vacant. They were.

From that night I boarded at the house of the Haginos. What surprised me
was that on the day after I left the house of Ikagin, Clown stepped in
and took the room I had been occupying. Well used to all sorts of tricks
and crooks as I might have been, this audacity fairly knocked me off my
feet. It was sickening.

I saw that I would be an easy mark for such people unless I brace up
and try to come up, or down, to their level. It would be a high time
indeed for me to be alive if it were settled that I would not get three
meals a day without living on the spoils of pick pockets. Nevertheless,
to hang myself,--healthy and vigorous as I am,--would be not only
inexcusable before my ancestors but a disgrace before the public. Now I
think it over, it would have been better for me to have started
something like a milk delivery route with that six hundred yen as
capital, instead of learning such a useless stunt as mathematics at the
School of Physics. If I had done so, Kiyo could have stayed with me,
and I could have lived without worrying about her so far a distance
away. While I was with her I did not notice it, but separated thus I
appreciated Kiyo as a good-natured old woman. One could not find a
noble natured woman like Kiyo everywhere. She was suffering from a
slight cold when I left Tokyo and I wondered how she was getting on
now? Kiyo must have been pleased when she received the letter from me
the other day. By the way, I thought it was the time I was in receipt
of answer from her. I spent two or three days with things like this in
my mind. I was anxious about the answer, and asked the old lady of the
house if any letter came from Tokyo for me, and each time she would
appear sympathetic and say no. The couple here, being formerly of
samurai class, unlike the Ikagin couple, were both refined. The old
man's recital of "utai" in a queer voice at night was somewhat telling
on my nerves, but it was much easier on me as he did not frequent my
room like Ikagin with the remark of "let me serve you tea."

The old lady once in a while would come to my room and chat on many
things. She questioned me why I had not brought my wife with me. I asked
her if I looked like one married, reminding her that I was only twenty
four yet. Saying "it is proper for one to get married at twenty four" as
a beginning, she recited that Mr. Blank married when he was twenty, that
Mr. So-and-So has already two children at twenty two, and marshalled
altogether about half a dozen examples,--quite a damper on my youthful
theory. I will then get marred at twenty four, I said, and requested her
to find me a good wife, and she asked me if I really meant it.

"Really? You bet! I can't help wanting to get married."

"I should suppose so. Everybody is just like that when young." This
remark was a knocker; I could not say anything to that.

"But I'm sure you have a Madam already. I have seen to that with my
own eyes."

"Well, they are sharp eyes. How have you seen it?"

"How? Aren't you often worried to death, asking if there's no letter
from Tokyo?"

"By Jupiter! This beats me!"

"Hit the mark, haven't I?"

"Well, you probably have."

"But the girls of these days are different from what they used to be and
you need a sharp look-out on them. So you'd better be careful."

"Do you mean that my Madam in Tokyo is behaving badly?"

"No, your Madam is all right."

"That makes me feel safe. Then about what shall I be careful?"

"Yours is all right. Though yours is all right......."

"Where is one not all right?"

"Rather many right in this town. You know the daughter of the Toyamas?

"No, I do not."

"You don't know her yet? She is the most beautiful girl about here. She
is so beautiful that the teachers in the school call her Madonna. You
haven't heard that?

"Ah, the Madonna! I thought it was the name of a geisha."

"No, Sir. Madonna is a foreign word and means a beautiful girl,
doesn't it?"

"That may be. I'm surprised."

"Probably the name was given by the teacher of drawing."

"Was it the work of Clown?"

"No, it was given by Professor Yoshikawa."

"Is that Madonna not all right?"

"That Madonna-san is a Madonna not all right."

"What a bore! We haven't any decent woman among those with nicknames
from old days. I should suppose the Madonna is not all right."

"Exactly. We have had awful women such as O-Matsu the Devil or Ohyaku
the Dakki.

"Does the Madonna belong to that ring?"

"That Madonna-san, you know, was engaged to Professor Koga,--who brought
you here,--yes, was promised to him."

"Ha, how strange! I never knew our friend Hubbard Squash was a fellow of
such gallantry. We can't judge a man by his appearance. I'll be a bit
more careful."

"The father of Professor Koga died last year,--up to that time they had
money and shares in a bank and were well off,--but since then things
have grown worse, I don't know why. Professor Koga was too good-natured,
in short, and was cheated, I presume. The wedding was delayed by one
thing or another and there appeared the head teacher who fell in love
with the Madonna head over heels and wanted to many her."

"Red Shirt? He ought be hanged. I thought that shirt was not an ordinary
kind of shirt. Well?"

"The head-teacher proposed marriage through a go-between, but the
Toyamas could not give a definite answer at once on account of their
relations with the Kogas. They replied that they would consider the
matter or something like that. Then Red Shirt-san worked up some ways
and started visiting the Toyamas and has finally won the heart of the
Miss. Red Shirt-san is bad, but so is Miss Toyama; they all talk bad of
them. She had agreed to be married to Professor Koga and changed her
mind because a Bachelor of Arts began courting her,--why, that would be
an offense to the God of To-day."

"Of course. Not only of To-day but also of tomorrow and the day after;
in fact, of time without end."

"So Hotta-san a friend of Koga-san, felt sorry for him and went to the
head teacher to remonstrate with him. But Red Shirt-san said that he had
no intention of taking away anybody who is promised to another. He may
get married if the engagement is broken, he said, but at present he was
only being acquainted with the Toyamas and he saw nothing wrong in his
visiting the Toyamas. Hotta-san couldn't do anything and returned. Since
then they say Red Shirt-san and Hotta-san are on bad terms."

"You do know many things, I should say. How did you get such details?
I'm much impressed."

"The town is so small that I can know everything."

Yes, everything seems to be known more than one cares. Judging by her
way, this woman probably knows about my tempura and dango affairs. Here
was a pot that would make peas rattle! The meaning of the Madonna, the
relations between Porcupine and Red Shirt became clear and helped me a
deal. Only what puzzled me was the uncertainty as to which of the two
was wrong. A fellow simple-hearted like me could not tell which side he
should help unless the matter was presented in black and white.

"Of Red Shirt and Porcupine, which is a better fellow?"

"What is Porcupine, Sir?"

"Porcupine means Hotta."

"Well, Hotta-san is physically strong, as strength goes, but Red
Shirt-san is a Bachelor of Arts and has more ability. And Red Shirt-san
is more gentle, as gentleness goes, but Hotta-san is more popular among
the students."

"After all, which is better?"

"After all, the one who gets a bigger salary is greater, I suppose?"

There was no use of going on further in this way, and I closed the talk.

Two or three days after this, when I returned from the school, the old
lady with a beaming smile, brought me a letter, saying, "Here you are
Sir, at last. Take your time and enjoy it." I took it up and found it
was from Kiyo. On the letter were two or three retransmission slips, and
by these I saw the letter was sent from Yamashiro-ya to the Iagins, then
to the Haginos. Besides, it stayed at Yamashiro-ya for about one week;
even letters seemed to stop in a hotel. I opened it, and it was a very
long letter.

"When I received the letter from my Master Darling, I intended to write
an answer at once. But I caught cold and was sick abed for about one
week and the answer was delayed for which I beg your pardon. I am not
well-used to writing or reading like girls in these days, and it
required some efforts to get done even so poorly written a letter as
this. I was going to ask my nephew to write it for me, but thought it
inexcusable to my Master Darling when I should take special pains for
myself. So I made a rough copy once, and then a clean copy. I finished
the clean copy, in two days, but the rough copy took me four days. It
may be difficult for you to read, but as I have written this letter with
all my might, please read it to the end."

This was the introductory part of the letter in which, about four feet
long, were written a hundred and one things. Well, it was difficult to
read. Not only was it poorly written but it was a sort of juxtaposition
of simple syllables that racked one's brain to make it clear where it
stopped or where it began. I am quick-tempered and would refuse to read
such a long, unintelligible letter for five yen, but I read this
seriously from the first to the last. It is a fact that I read it
through. My efforts were mostly spent in untangling letters and
sentences; so I started reading it over again. The room had become a
little dark, and this rendered it harder to read it; so finally I
stepped out to the porch where I sat down and went over it carefully.
The early autumn breeze wafted through the leaves of the banana trees,
bathed me with cool evening air, rustled the letter I was holding and
would have blown it clear to the hedge if I let it go. I did not mind
anything like this, but kept on reading.

"Master Darling is simple and straight like a split bamboo by
disposition," it says, "only too explosive. That's what worries me. If
you brand other people with nicknames you will only make enemies of
them; so don't use them carelessly; if you coin new ones, just tell them
only to Kiyo in your letters. The countryfolk are said to be bad, and I
wish you to be careful not have them do you. The weather must be worse
than in Tokyo, and you should take care not to catch cold. Your letter
is too short that I can't tell how things are going on with you. Next
time write me a letter at least half the length of this one. Tipping the
hotel with five yen is all right, but were you not short of money
afterward? Money is the only thing one can depend upon when in the
country and you should economize and be prepared for rainy days. I'm
sending you ten yen by postal money order. I have that fifty yen my
Master Darling gave me deposited in the Postal Savings to help you start
housekeeping when you return to Tokyo, and taking out this ten, I have
still forty yen left,--quite safe."

I should say women are very particular on many things.

When I was meditating with the letter flapping in my hand on the porch,
the old lady opened the sliding partition and brought in my supper.

"Still poring over the letter? Must be a very long one, I
imagine," she said.

"Yes, this is an important letter, so I'm reading it with the wind
blowing it about," I replied--the reply which was nonsense even for
myself,--and I sat down for supper. I looked in the dish on the tray,
and saw the same old sweet potatoes again to-night. This new boarding
house was more polite and considerate and refined than the Ikagins, but
the grub was too poor stuff and that was one drawback. It was sweet
potato yesterday, so it was the day before yesterday, and here it is
again to-night. True, I declared myself very fond of sweet potatoes, but
if I am fed with sweet potatoes with such insistency, I may soon have to
quit this dear old world. I can't be laughing at Hubbard Squash; I shall
become Sweet Potato myself before long. If it were Kiyo she would surely
serve me with my favorite sliced tunny or fried kamaboko, but nothing
doing with a tight, poor samurai. It seems best that I live with Kiyo.
If I have to stay long in the school, I believe I would call her from
Tokyo. Don't eat tempura, don't eat dango, and then get turned yellow by
feeding on sweet potatoes only, in the boarding house. That's for an
educator, and his place is really a hard one. I think even the priests
of the Zen sect are enjoying better feed. I cleaned up the sweet
potatoes, then took out two raw eggs from the drawer of my desk, broke
them on the edge of the rice bowl, to tide it over. I have to get
nourishment by eating raw eggs or something, or how can I stand the
teaching of twenty one hours a week?

I was late for my bath to-day on account of the letter from Kiyo. But I
would not like to drop off a single day since I had been there everyday.
I thought I would take a train to-day, and coming to the station with
the same old red towel dangling out of my hand, I found the train had
just left two or three minutes ago, and had to wait for some time. While
I was smoking a cigarette on a bench, my friend Hubbard Squash happened
to come in. Since I heard the story about him from the old lady my
sympathy for him had become far greater than ever. His reserve always
appeared to me pathetic. It was no longer a case of merely pathetic;
more than that. I was wishing to get his salary doubled, if possible,
and have him marry Miss Toyama and send them to Tokyo for about one
month on a pleasure trip. Seeing him, therefore, I motioned him to a
seat beside me, addressing him cheerfully:

"Hello[H], going to bath? Come and sit down here."

Hubbard Squash, appearing much awe-struck, said; "Don't mind me,
Sir," and whether out of polite reluctance or I don't know what,
remained standing.

"You have to wait for a little while before the next train starts; sit
down; you'll be tired," I persuaded him again. In fact, I was so
sympathetic for him that I wished to have him sit down by me somehow.
Then with a "Thank you, Sir," he at last sat down. A fellow like Clown,
always fresh, butts in where he is not wanted; or like Porcupine
swaggers about with a face which says "Japan would be hard up without
me," or like Red Shirt, self-satisfied in the belief of being the
wholesaler of gallantry and of cosmetics. Or like Badger who appears to
say; "If 'Education' were alive and put on a frockcoat, it would look
like me." One and all in one way or other have bravado, but I have
never seen any one like this Hubbard Squash, so quiet and resigned,
like a doll taken for a ransom. His face is rather swollen but for the
Madonna to cast off such a splendid fellow and give preference to Red
Shirt, was frivolous beyond my understanding. Put how many dozens of
Red Shirt you like together, it will not make one husband of stuff to
beat Hubbard Squash.

"Is anything wrong with you? You look quite fatigued," I asked.

"No, I have no particular ailments......."

"That's good. Poor health is the worst thing one can get."

"You appear very strong."

"Yes, I'm thin, but never got sick. That's something I don't like."

Hubbard Squash smiled at my words. Just then I heard some young girlish
laughs at the entrance, and incidentally looking that way, I saw a
"peach." A beautiful girl, tall, white-skinned, with her head done up
in "high-collared" style, was standing with a woman of about forty-five
or six, in front of the ticket window. I am not a fellow given to
describing a belle, but there was no need to repeat asserting that she
was beautiful. I felt as if I had warmed a crystal ball with perfume
and held it in my hand. The older woman was shorter, but as she
resembled the younger, they might be mother and daughter. The moment I
saw them, I forgot all about Hubbard Squash, and was intently gazing at
the young beauty. Then I was a bit startled to see Hubbard Squash
suddenly get up and start walking slowly toward them. I wondered if she
was not the Madonna. The three were courtesying in front of the ticket
window, some distance away from me, and I could not hear what they were
talking about.

The clock at the station showed the next train to start in five
minutes. Having lost my partner, I became impatient and longed for the
train to start as soon as possible, when a fellow rushed into the
station excited. It was Red Shirt. He had on some fluffy clothes,
loosely tied round with a silk-crepe girdle, and wound to it the same
old gold chain. That gold chain is stuffed. Red Shirt thinks nobody
knows it and is making a big show of it, but I have been wise. Red
Shirt stopped short, stared around, and then after bowing politely to
the three still in front of the ticket window, made a remark or two,
and hastily turned toward me. He came up to me, walking in his usual
cat's style, and hallooed.

"You too going to bath? I was afraid of missing the train and
hurried up, but we have three or four minutes yet. Wonder if that
clock is right?"

He took out his gold watch, and remarking it wrong about two minutes sat
down beside me. He never turned toward the belle, but with his chin on
the top of a cane, steadily looked straight before him. The older woman
would occasionally glance toward Red Shirt, but the younger kept her
profile away. Surely she was the Madonna.

The train now arrived with a shrill whistle and the passengers hastened
to board. Red Shirt jumped into the first class coach ahead of all. One
cannot brag much about boarding the first class coach here. It cost only
five sen for the first and three sen for the second to Sumida; even I
paid for the first and a white ticket. The country fellows, however,
being all close, seemed to regard the expenditure of the extra two sen a
serious matter and mostly boarded the second class. Following Red Shirt,
the Madonna and her mother entered the first class. Hubbard Squash
regularly rides in the second class. He stood at the door of a second
class coach and appeared somewhat hesitating, but seeing me coming, took
decisive steps and jumped into the second. I felt sorry for him--I do
not know why--and followed him into the same coach. Nothing wrong in
riding on the second with a ticket for the first, I believe.

At the hot springs, going down from the third floor to the bath room in
bathing gown, again I met Hubbard Squash. I feel my throat clogged up
and unable to speak at a formal gathering, but otherwise I am rather
talkative; so I opened conversation with him. He was so pathetic and my
compassion was aroused to such an extent that I considered it the duty
of a Yedo kid to console him to the best of my ability. But Hubbard
Squash was not responsive. Whatever I said, he would only answer "eh?"
or "umh," and even these with evident effort. Finally I gave up my
sympathetic attempt and cut off the conversation.

I did not meet Red Shirt at the bath. There are many bath rooms, and one
does not necessarily meet the fellows at the same bath room though he
might come on the same train. I thought it nothing strange. When I got
out of the bath, I found the night bright with the moon. On both sides
of the street stood willow trees which cast their shadows on the road. I
would take a little stroll, I thought. Coming up toward north, to the
end of the town, one sees a large gate to the left. Opposite the gate
stands a temple and both sides of the approach to the temple are lined
with houses with red curtains. A tenderloin inside a temple gate is an
unheard-of phenomenon. I wanted to go in and have a look at the place,
but for fear I might get another kick from Badger, I passed it by. A
flat house with narrow lattice windows and black curtain at the
entrance, near the gate, is the place where I ate dango and committed
the blunder. A round lantern with the signs of sweet meats hung outside
and its light fell on the trunk of a willow tree close by. I hungered to
have a bite of dango, but went away forbearing.

To be unable to eat dango one is so fond of eating, is tragic. But to
have one's betrothed change her love to another, would be more tragic.
When I think of Hubbard Squash, I believe that I should, not complain if
I cannot eat dango or anything else for three days. Really there is
nothing so unreliable a creature as man. As far as her face goes, she
appears the least likely to commit so stony-hearted an act as this. But
the beautiful person is cold-blooded and Koga-san who is swollen like a
pumpkin soaked in water, is a gentleman to the core,--that's where we
have to be on the look-out. Porcupine whom I had thought candid was said
to have incited the students and he whom then I regarded an agitator,
demanded of the principal a summary punishment of the students. The
disgustingly snobbish Red Shirt is unexpectedly considerate and warns me
in ways more than one, but then he won the Madonna by crooked means. He
denies, however, having schemed anything crooked about the Madonna, and
says he does not care to marry her unless her engagement with Koga is
broken. When Ikagin beat me out of his house, Clown enters and takes my
room. Viewed from any angle, man is unreliable. If I write these things
to Kiyo, it would surprise her. She would perhaps say that because it is
the west side of Hakone that the town had all the freaks and crooks
dumped in together.[7]

[Footnote 7: An old saying goes that east of the Hakone pass, there are
no apparitions or freaks.]

I do not by nature worry about little things, and had come so far
without minding anything. But hardly a month had passed since I came
here, and I have begun to regard the world quite uneasily. I have not
met with any particularly serious affairs, but I feel as if I had grown
five or six years older. Better say "good by" to this old spot soon and
return to Tokyo, I thought. While strolling thus thinking on various
matters, I had passed the stone bridge and come up to the levy of the
Nozeri river. The word river sounds too big; it is a shallow stream of
about six feet wide. If one goes on along the levy for about twelve
blocks, he reaches the Aioi village where there is a temple of Kwanon.

Looking back at the town of the hot springs, I see red lights gleaming
amid the pale moon beams. Where the sound of the drum is heard must be
the tenderloin. The stream is shallow but fast, whispering incessantly.
When I had covered about three blocks walking leisurely upon the bank,
I perceived a shadow ahead. Through the light of the moon, I found
there were two shadows. They were probably village youngsters returning
from the hot springs, though they did not sing, and were exceptionally
quiet for that.

I kept on walking, and I was faster than they. The two shadows became
larger. One appeared like a woman. When I neared them within about sixty
feet, the man, on hearing my footsteps, turned back. The moon was
shining from behind me. I could see the manner of the man then and
something queer struck me. They resumed their walk as before. And I
chased them on a full speed. The other party, unconscious, walked
slowly. I could now hear their voice distinctly. The levy was about six
feet wide, and would allow only three abreast. I easily passed them, and
turning back gazed squarely into the face of the man. The moon
generously bathed my face with its beaming light. The fellow uttered a
low "ah," and suddenly turning sideway, said to the woman "Let's go
back." They traced their way back toward the hot springs town.

Was it the intention of Red Shirt to hush the matter up by pretending
ignorance, or was it lack of nerve? I was not the only fellow who
suffered the consequence of living in a small narrow town.



CHAPTER VIII.


On my way back from the fishing to which I was invited by Red Shirt, and
since then, I began to suspect Porcupine. When the latter wanted me to
get out of Ikagin's house on sham pretexts, I regarded him a decidedly
unpleasant fellow. But as Porcupine, at the teachers' meeting, contrary
to my expectation, stood firmly for punishing the students to the
fullest extent of the school regulations, I thought it queer. When I
heard from the old lady about Porcupine volunteering himself for the
sake of Hubbard Squash to stop Red Shirt meddling with the Madonna, I
clapped my hands and hoorayed for him. Judging by these facts, I began
to wonder if the wrong-doer might be not Porcupine, but Red Shirt the
crooked one. He instilled into my head some flimsy hearsay plausibly and
in a roundabout-way. At this juncture I saw Red Shirt taking a walk with
the Madonna on the levy of the Nozeri river, and I decided that Red
Shirt may be a scoundrel. I am not sure of his being really scoundrel at
heart, but at any rate he is not a good fellow. He is a fellow with a
double face. A man deserves no confidence unless he is as straight as
the bamboo. One may fight a straight fellow, and feel satisfied. We
cannot lose sight of the fact that Red Shirt or his kind who is kind,
gentle, refined, and takes pride in his pipe had to be looked sharp, for
I could not be too careful in getting into a scrap with the fellow of
this type. I may fight, but I would not get square games like the
wrestling matches it the Wrestling Amphitheatre in Tokyo. Come to think
of it, Porcupine who turned against me and startled the whole teachers'
room over the amount of one sen and a half is far more like a man. When
he stared at me with owlish eyes at the teachers' meeting, I branded him
as a spiteful guy, but as I consider the matter now, he is better than
the feline voice of Red Shirt. To tell the truth, I tried to get
reconciled with Porcupine, and after the meeting, spoke a word or two to
him, but he shut up like a clam and kept glaring at me. So I became
sore, and let it go at that.

Porcupine has not spoken to me since. The one sen and a half which I
paid him back upon the desk, is still there, well covered with dust. I
could not touch it, nor would Porcupine take it. This one sen and a
half has become a barrier between us two. We two were cursed with this
one sen and a half. Later indeed I got sick of its sight that I hated
to see it.

While Porcupine and I were thus estranged, Red Shirt and I continued
friendly relations and associated together. On the day following my
accidental meeting with him near the Nozeri river, for instance, Red
Shirt came to my desk as soon as he came to the school, and asked me how
I liked the new boarding house. He said we would go together for fishing
Russian literature again, and talked on many things. I felt a bit
piqued, and said, "I saw you twice last night," and he answered, "Yes,
at the station. Do you go there at that time every day? Isn't it late?"
I startled him with the remark; "I met you on the levy of the Nozeri
river too, didn't I?" and he replied, "No, I didn't go in that
direction. I returned right after my bath."

What is the use of trying to keep it dark. Didn't we meet actually face
to face? He tells too many lies. If one can hold the job of a head
teacher and act in this fashion, I should be able to run the position of
Chancellor of a university. From this time on, my confidence in Red
Shirt became still less. I talk with Red Shirt whom I do not trust, and
I keep silent with Porcupine whom I respect. Funny things do happen in
this world.

One day Red Shirt asked me to come over to his house as he had something
to tell me, and much as I missed the trip to the hot springs, I started
for his house at about 4 o'clock. Red Shirt is single, but in keeping
with the dignity of a head teacher, he gave up the boarding house life
long ago, and lives in a fine house. The house rent, I understood, was
nine yen and fifty sen. The front entrance was so attractive that I
thought if one can live in such a splendid house at nine yen and a half
in the country, it would be a good game to call Kiyo from Tokyo and make
her heart glad. The younger brother of Red Shirt answered my bell. This
brother gets his lessons on algebra and mathematics from me at the
school. He stands no show in his school work, and being a "migratory
bird" is more wicked than the native boys.

I met Red Shirt. Smoking the same old unsavory amber pipe, he said
something to the following effect:

"Since you've been with us, our work has been more satisfactory than it
was under your predecessor, and the principal is very glad to have got
the right person in the right place. I wish you to work as hard as you
can, for the school is depending upon you."

"Well, is that so. I don't think I can work any harder than now......."

"What you're doing now is enough. Only don't forget what I told you the
other day."

"Meaning that one who helps me find a boarding house is dangerous?"

"If you state it so baldly, there is no meaning to it....... But that's
all right,...... I believe you understand the spirit of my advice. And
if you keep on in the way you're going to-day ...... We have not been
blind ...... we might offer you a better treatment later on if we can
manage it."

"In salary? I don't care about the salary, though the more the better."

"And fortunately there is going to be one teacher transferred,......
however, I can't guarantee, of course, until I talk it over with the
principal ...... and we might give you something out of his salary."

"Thank you. Who is going to be transferred?"

"I think I may tell you now; 'tis going to be Announced soon. Koga
is the man."

"But isn't Koga-san a native of this town?"

"Yes, he is. But there are some circumstances ...... and it is partly by
his own preference."

"Where is he going?"

"To Nobeoka in Hiuga province. As the place is so far away, he is going
there with his salary raised a grade higher."

"Is some one coming to take his place?"

"His successor is almost decided upon."

"Well, that's fine, though I'm not very anxious to have my salary
raised."

"I'm going to talk to the principal about that anyway. And, we may have
to ask you to work more some time later ...... and the principal appears
to be of the same opinion....... I want you to go[I] ahead with that in
your mind."

"Going to increase my working hours?"

"No. The working hours may be reduced......"

"The working hours shortened and yet work more? Sounds funny."

"It does sound funny ...... I can't say definitely just yet ...... it
means that we way have to ask you to assume more responsibility."

I could not make out what he meant. To assume more responsibility might
mean my appointment to the senior instructor of mathematics, but
Porcupine is the senior instructor and there is no danger of his
resigning. Besides, he is so very popular among the students that his
transfer or discharge would be inadvisable. Red Shirt always misses the
point. And though he did not get to the point, the object of my visit
was ended. We talked a while on sundry matters, Red Shirt proposing a
farewell dinner party for Hubbard Squash, asking me if I drink liquor
and praising Hubbard Squash as an amiable gentleman, etc. Finally he
changed the topic and asked me if I take an interest in "haiku"[8] Here
is where I beat it, I thought, and, saying "No, I don't, good by,"
hastily left the house. The "haiku" should be a diversion of Baseo[9] or
the boss of a barbershop. It would not do for the teacher of mathematics
to rave over the old wooden bucket and the morning glory.[10]

[Footnote 8: The 17-syllable poem]

[Footnote 9: A famous composer of the poem.]

[Footnote 10: There is a well-known 17-syllable poem describing the
scene of morning glories entwining around the wooden bucket.]

I returned home and thought it over. Here is a man whose mental process
defies a layman's understanding. He is going to court hardships in a
strange part of the country in preference of his home and the school
where he is working,--both of which should satisfy most
anybody,--because he is tired of them. That may be all right if the
strange place happens to be a lively metropolis where electric cars
run,--but of all places, why Nobeoka in Hiuga province? This town here
has a good steamship connection, yet I became sick of it and longed for
home before one month had passed. Nobeoka is situated in the heart of a
most mountainous country. According to Red Shirt, one has to make an
all-day ride in a wagonette to Miyazaki, after he had left the vessel,
and from Miyazaki another all-day ride in a rikisha to Nobeoka. Its name
alone does not commend itself as civilized. It sounds like a town
inhabited by men and monkeys in equal numbers. However sage-like Hubbard
Squash might be I thought he would not become a friend of monkeys of his
own choice. What a curious slant!

Just then the old lady brought in my supper--"Sweet potatoes again?" I
asked, and she said, "No, Sir, it is tofu to-night." They are about the
same thing.

"Say, I understand Koga-san is going to Nobeoka."

"Isn't it too bad?"

"Too bad? But it can't be helped if he goes there by his own
preference."

"Going there by his own preference? Who, Sir?"

"Who? Why, he! Isn't Professor Koga going there by his own choice?"

"That's wrong Mr. Wright, Sir."

"Ha, Mr. Wright, is it? But Red Shirt told me so just now. If that's
wrong Mr. Wright, then Red Shirt is blustering Mr. Bluff."

"What the head-teacher says is believable, but so Koga-san does not
wish to go."

"Our old lady is impartial, and that is good. Well, what's the matter?"

"The mother of Koga-san was here this morning, and told me all the
circumstances."

"Told you what circumstances?"

"Since the father of Koga-san died, they have not been quite well off as
we might have supposed, and the mother asked the principal if his salary
could not be raised a little as Koga-san has been in service for four
years. See?"

"Well?"

"The principal said that he would consider the matter, and she felt
satisfied and expected the announcement of the increase before long. She
hoped for its coming this month or next. Then the principal called
Koga-san to his office one day and said that he was sorry but the school
was short of money and could not raise his salary. But he said there is
an opening in Nobeoka which would give him five yen extra a month and he
thought that would suit his purpose, and the principal had made all
arrangements and told Koga-san he had better go......."

"That wasn't a friendly talk but a command. Wasn't it?"

"Yes, Sir, Koga-san told the principal that he liked to stay here better
at the old salary than go elsewhere on an increased salary, because he
has his own house and is living with his mother. But the matter has all
been settled, and his successor already appointed and it couldn't be
helped, said the principal."

"Hum, that's a jolly good trick, I should say. Then Koga-san has no
liking to go there? No wonder I thought it strange. We would have to go
a long way to find any blockhead to do a job in such a mountain village
and get acquainted with monkeys for five yen extra."

"What is a blockhead, Sir?"

"Well, let go at that. It was all the scheme of Red Shirt. Deucedly
underhand scheme, I declare. It was a stab from behind. And he means to
raise my salary by that; that's not right. I wouldn't take that raise.
Let's see if he can raise it."

"Is your salary going to be raised, Sir?"

"Yes, they said they would raise mine, but I'm thinking of refusing it."

"Why do you refuse?"

"Why or no why, it's going to be refused. Say, Red Shirt is a fool; he
is a coward."

"He may be a coward, but if he raises your salary, it would be best for
you to make no fuss, but accept it. One is apt to get grouchy when
young, but will always repent when he is grown up and thinks that it was
pity he hadn't been a little more patient. Take an old woman's advice
for once, and if Red Shirt-san says he will raise your salary, just take
it with thanks."

"It's none of business of you old people."

The old lady withdrew in silence. The old man is heard singing "utai" in
the off-key voice. "Utai," I think, is a stunt which purposely makes a
whole show a hard nut to crack by giving to it difficult tunes, whereas
one could better understand it by reading it. I cannot fathom what is in
the mind of the old man who groans over it every night untired. But I'm
not in a position to be fooling with "utai." Red Shirt said he would
have my salary raised, and though I did not care much about it, I
accepted it because there was no use of leaving the money lying around.
But I cannot, for the love of Mike, be so inconsiderate as to skin the
salary of a fellow teacher who is being transferred against his will.
What in thunder do they mean by sending him away so far as Nobeoka when
the fellow prefers to remain in his old position? Even
Dazai-no-Gonnosutsu did not have to go farther than about Hakata; even
Matagoro Kawai [11] stopped at Sagara. I shall not feel satisfied unless
I see Red Shirt and tell him I refuse the raise.

[Footnote 11: The persons in exile, well-known in Japanese history.]

I dressed again and went to his house. The same younger brother of Red
Shirt again answered the bell, and looked at me with eyes which plainly
said, "You here again?" I will come twice or thrice or as many times as
I want to if there is business. I might rouse them out of their beds at
midnight;--it is possible, who knows. Don't mistake me for one coming to
coax the head teacher. I was here to give back my salary. The younger
brother said that there is a visitor just now, and I told him the front
door will do; won't take more than a minute, and he went in. Looking
about my feet, I found a pair of thin, matted wooden clogs, and I heard
some one in the house saying, "Now we're banzai." I noticed that the
visitor was Clown. Nobody but Clown could make such a squeaking voice
and wear such clogs as are worn by cheap actors.

After a while Red Shirt appeared at the door with a lamp in his hand,
and said, "Come in; it's no other than Mr. Yoshikawa."

"This is good enough," I said, "it won't take long." I looked at his
face which was the color of a boiled lobster. He seemed to have been
drinking with Clown.

"You told me that you would raise my salary, but I've changed my mind,
and have come here to decline the offer."

Red Shirt, thrusting out the lamp forward, and intently staring at me,
was unable to answer at the moment. He appeared blank. Did he think it
strange that here was one fellow, only one in the world, who does not
want his salary raised, or was he taken aback that I should come back so
soon even if I wished to decline it, or was it both combined, he stood
there silent with his mouth in a queer shape.

"I accepted your offer because I understood that Mr. Koga was being
transferred by his own preference......."

"Mr. Koga is really going to be transferred by his own preference."

"No, Sir. He would like to stay here. He doesn't mind his present salary
if he can stay."

"Have you heard it from Mr. Koga himself?"

"No, not from him."

"Then, from who?"

"The old lady in my boarding house told me what she heard from the
mother of Mr. Koga."

"Then the old woman in your boarding house told you so?"

"Well, that's about the size of it."

"Excuse me, but I think you are wrong. According to what you say, it
seems as if you believe what the old woman in the boarding house tells
you, but would not believe what your head teacher tells you. Am I right
to understand it that way?"

I was stuck. A Bachelor of Arts is confoundedly good in oratorical
combat. He gets hold of unexpected point, and pushes the other backward.
My father used to tell me that I am too careless and no good, and now
indeed I look that way. I ran out of the house on the moment's impulse
when I heard the story from the old lady, and in fact I had not heard
the story from either Hubbard Squash or his mother. In consequence, when
I was challenged in this Bachelor-of-Arts fashion, it was a bit
difficult to defend myself.

I could not defend his frontal attack, but I had already declared in my
mind a lack of confidence on Red Shirt. The old lady in the boarding
house may be tight and a grabber, I do not doubt it, but she is a woman
who tells no lie. She is not double faced like Red Shirt, I was
helpless, so I answered.

"What you say might be right,--anyway, I decline the raise."

"That's still funnier. I thought your coming here now was because you
had found a certain reason for which you could not accept the raise.
Then it is hard to understand to see you still insisting on declining
the raise in spite of the reason having been eradicated by my
explanation."

"It may be hard to understand, but anyway I don't want it."

"If you don't like it so much, I wouldn't force it on you. But if you
change your mind within two or three hours with no particular reason, it
would affect your credit in future."

"I don't care if it does affect it."

"That can't be. Nothing is more important than credit for us. Supposing,
the boss of the boarding house......."

"Not the boss, but the old lady."

"Makes no difference,--suppose what the old woman in the boarding house
told you was true, the raise of your salary is not to be had by reducing
the income of Mr. Koga, is it? Mr. Koga is going to Nobeoka; his
successor is coming. He comes on a salary a little less than that of Mr.
Koga, and we propose to add the surplus money to your salary, and you
need not be shy. Mr. Koga will be promoted; the successor is to start on
less pay, and if you could be raised, I think everything be satisfactory
to all concerned. If you don't like it, that's all right, but suppose
you think it over once more at home?"

My brain is not of the best stuff, and if another fellow flourishes his
eloquence like this, I usually think, "Well, perhaps I was wrong," and
consider myself defeated, but not so to-night. From the time I came to
this town I felt prejudiced against Red Shirt. Once I had thought of him
in a different light, taking him for a fellow kind-hearted and
feminished. His kindness, however, began to look like anything but
kindness, and as a result, I have been getting sick of him. So no matter
how he might glory himself in logical grandiloquence, or how he might
attempt to out-talk me in a head-teacher-style, I don't care a snap. One
who shines in argument is not necessarily a good fellow, while the other
who is out-talked is not necessarily a bad fellow, either. Red Shirt is
very, very reasonable as far as his reasoning goes, but however graceful
he may appear, he cannot win my respect. If money, authority or
reasoning can command admiration, loansharks, police officers or college
professors should be liked best by all. I cannot be moved in the least
by the logic by so insignificant a fellow as the head teacher of a
middle school. Man works by preference, not by logic.

"What you say is right, but I have begun to dislike the raise, so I
decline. It will be the same if I think it over. Good by." And I left
the house of Red Shirt. The solitary milky way hung high in the sky.



CHAPTER IX.


When I went to the school, in the morning of the day the farewell dinner
party was to be held, Porcupine suddenly spoke to me;

"The other day I asked you to quit the Ikagins because Ikagin begged of
me to have you leave there as you were too tough, and I believed him.
But I heard afterward that Ikagin is a crook and often passes imitation
of famous drawings for originals. I think what he told me about you must
be a lie. He tried to sell pictures and curios to you, but as you shook
him off, he told some false stories on you. I did very wrong by you
because I did not know his character, and wish you would forgive me."
And he offered me a lengthy apology.

Without saying a word, I took up the one sen and a half which was lying
on the desk of Porcupine, and put it into my purse. He asked me in a
wondering tone, if I meant to take it back. I explained, "Yes. I didn't
like to have you treat me and expected to pay this back at all hazard,
but as I think about it, I would rather have you treated me after all;
so I'm going to take it back."

Porcupine laughed heartily and asked me why I had not taken it back
sooner. I told him that I wanted to more than once, in fact, but somehow
felt shy and left it there. I was sick of that one sen and a half these
days that I shunned the sight of it when I came to the school, I said.
He said "You're a deucedly unyielding sport," and I answered "You're
obstinate." Then ensued the following give-and-take between us two;

"Where were you born anyway?"

"I'm a Yedo kid."

"Ah, a Yedo kid, eh? No wonder I thought you a pretty stiff neck."

"And you?"

"I'm from Aizu."

"Ha, Aizu guy, eh? You've got reason to be obstinate. Going to the
farewell dinner to-day?"

"Sure. You?"

"Of course I am. I intend to go down to the beach to see Koga-san off
when he leaves."

"The farewell dinner should be a big blow-out. You come and see. I'm
going to get soused to the neck."

"You get loaded all you want. I quit the place right after I finish my
plates. Only fools fight booze."

"You're a fellow who picks up a fight too easy. It shows up the
characteristic of the Yedo kid well."

"I don't care. Say, before you go to the farewell dinner, come to see
me. I want to tell you something."

Porcupine came to my room as promised. I had been in full sympathy with
Hubbard Squash these days, and when it came to his farewell dinner, my
pity for him welled up so much that I wished I could go to Nobeoka for
him myself. I thought of making a parting address of burning eloquence
at the dinner to grace the occasion, but my speech which rattles off
like that of the excited spieler of New York would not become the place.
I planned to take the breath out of Red Shirt by employing Porcupine who
has a thunderous voice. Hence my invitation to him before we started for
the party.

I commenced by explaining the Madonna affair, but Porcupine, needless to
say, knew more about it than I. Telling about my meeting Red Shirt on
the Nozeri river, I called him a fool. Porcupine then said; "You call
everybody a fool. You called me a fool to-day at the school. If I'm a
fool, Red Shirt isn't," and insisted that he was not in the same group
with Red Shirt. "Then Red Shirt may be a four-flusher," I said and he
approved this new alias with enthusiasm. Porcupine is physically strong,
but when it comes to such terms, he knows less than I do. I guess all
Aizu guys are about the same.

Then, when I disclosed to him about the raise of my salary and the
advance hint on my promotion by Red Shirt, Porcupine pished, and said,
"Then he means to discharge me." "Means to discharge you? But you mean
to get discharged?" I asked. "Bet you, no. If I get fired, Red Shirt
will have to go with me," he remarked with a lordly air. I insisted on
knowing how he was going to get Red Shirt kicked out with him, and he
answered that he had not thought so far yet. Yes, Porcupine looks
strong, but seems to be possessed of no abundance of brain power. I told
him about my refusal of the raise of my salary, and the Gov'nur was much
pleased, praising me with the remark, "That's the stuff for Yedo kids."

"If Hubbard Squash does not like to go down to Nobeoka, why didn't you
do something to enable him remain here," I asked, and Porcupine said
that when he heard the story from Hubbard Squash, everything had been
settled already, but he had asked the principal twice and Red Shirt once
to have the transfer order cancelled, but to no purpose. Porcupine
bitterly condemned Hubbard Squash for being too good-natured. If Hubbard
Squash, he said, had either flatly refused or delayed the answer on the
pretext of considering it, when Red Shirt raised the question of
transfer, it would have been better for him. But he was fooled by the
oily tongue of Red Shirt, had accepted the transfer outright, and all
efforts by Porcupine who was moved by the tearful appeal of the mother,
proved unavailing.

I said; "The transfer of Koga is nothing but a trick of Red Shirt to cop
the Madonna by sending Hubbard Squash away."

"Yes," said Porcupine "That must be. Red Shirt looks gentle, but plays
nasty tricks. He is a sonovagun for when some one finds fault with him,
he has excuses prepared already. Nothing but a sound thumping will be
effective for fellows like him."

He rolled up his sleeves over his plump arms as he spoke. I asked him,
by the way, if he knew jiujitsu, because his arms looked powerful. Then
he put force in his forearm, and told me to touch it. I felt its swelled
muscle which was hard as the pumic stone in the public bathhouse.

I was deeply impressed by his massive strength, and asked him if he
could not knock five or six of Red Shirt in a bunch. "Of course," he
said, and as he extended and bent back the arm, the lumpy muscle rolled
round and round, which was very amusing. According to the statement of
Porcupine himself, this muscle, if he bends the arm back with force,
would snap a paper-string wound around it twice. I said I might do the
same thing if it were a paper-string, and he challenged me. "No, you
can't," he said. "See if you can." As it would not look well if I
failed, I did not try.

"Say, after you have drunk all you want to-night at the dinner, take a
fall out of Red Shirt and Clown, eh?" I suggested to him for fun.
Porcupine thought for a moment and said, "Not to-night, I guess." I
wanted to know why, and he pointed out that it would be bad for Koga.

"Besides, if I'm going to give it to them at all, I've to get them red
handed in their dirty scheme, or all the blame will be on me," he added
discretely. Even Porcupine seems to have wiser judgment than I.

"Then make a speech and praise Mr. Koga sky-high. My speech becomes sort
of jumpy, wanting dignity. And at any formal gathering, I get lumpy in
my throat, and can't speak. So I leave it to you," I said.

"That's a strange disease. Then you can't speak in the presence of other
people? It would be awkward, I suppose," he said, and I told him not
quite as much awkward as he might think.

About then, the time for the farewell dinner party arrived, and I went
to the hall with Porcupine. The dinner party was to be held at
Kashin-tei which is said to be the leading restaurant in the town, but I
had never been in the house before. This restaurant, I understood, was
formerly the private residence of the chief retainer of the daimyo of
the province, and its condition seemed to confirm the story. The
residence of a chief retainer transformed into a restaurant was like
making a saucepan out of warrior's armor.

When we two came there, about all of the guests were present. They
formed two or three groups in the spacious room of fifty mats. The
alcove in this room, in harmony with its magnificence, was very large.
The alcove in the fifteen-mat room which I occupied at Yamashiro-ya made
a small showing beside it. I measured it and found it was twelve feet
wide. On the right, in the alcove, there was a seto-ware flower vase,
painted with red designs, in which was a large branch of pine tree. Why
the pine twigs, I did not know, except that they are in no danger of
withering for many a month to come, and are economical. I asked the
teacher of natural history where that seto-ware flower vase is made. He
told me it was not a seto-ware but an imari. Isn't imari seto-ware? I
wondered audibly, and the natural history man laughed. I heard afterward
that we call it a seto-ware because it is made in Seto. I'm a Yedo kid,
and thought all china was seto-wares. In the center of the alcove was
hung a panel on which were written twenty eight letters, each letter as
large as my face. It was poorly written; so poorly indeed that I
enquired of the teacher of Confucius why such a poor work be hung in
apparent show of pride. He explained that it was written by Kaioku a
famous artist in the writing, but Kaioku or anyone else, I still declare
the work poorly done.

By and by, Kawamura, the clerk, requested all to be seated. I chose one
in front of a pillar so I could lean against it. Badger sat in front of
the panel of Kaioku in Japanese full dress. On his left sat Red Shirt
similarly dressed, and on his right Hubbard Squash, as the guest of
honor, in the same kind of dress. I was dressed in a European suit, and
being unable to sit down, squatted on my legs at once. The teacher of
physical culture next to me, though in the same kind of rags as mine,
sat squarely in Japanese fashion. As a teacher of his line he appeared
to have well trained himself. Then the dinner trays were served and the
bottles placed beside them. The manager of the day stood up and made a
brief opening address. He was followed by Badger and Red Shirt. These
two made farewell addresses, and dwelt at length on Hubbard Squash being
an ideal teacher and gentleman, expressing their regret, saying his
departure was a great loss not only to the school but to them in person.
They concluded that it could not be helped, however, since the transfer
was due to his own earnest desire and for his own convenience. They
appeared to be ashamed not in the least by telling such a lie at a
farewell dinner. Particularly, Red Shirt, of these three, praised Hubard
Squash in lavish terms. He went so far as to declare that to lose this
true friend was a great personal loss to him. Moreover, his tone was so
impressive in its same old gentle tone that one who listens to him for
the first time would be sure to be misled. Probably he won the Madonna
by this same trick. While Red Shirt was uttering his farewell buncomb,
Porcupine who sat on the other side across me, winked at me. As an
answer of this, I "snooked" at him.

No sooner had Red Shirt sat down than Porcupine stood up, and highly
rejoiced, I clapped hands. At this Badger and others glanced at me, and
I felt that I blushed a little.

"Our principal and other gentlemen," he said, "particularly the head
teacher, expressed their sincere regret at Mr. Koga's transfer. I am of
a different opinion, and hope to see him leave the town at the earliest
possible moment. Nobeoka is an out-of-the-way, backwoods town, and
compared with this town, it may have more material inconveniences, but
according to what I have heard, Nobeoka is said to be a town where the
customs are simple and untainted, and the teachers and students still
strong in the straightforward characteristics of old days. I am
convinced that in Nobeoka there is not a single high-collared guy who
passes round threadbare remarks, or who with smooth face, entraps
innocent people. I am sure that a man like Mr. Koga, gentle and honest,
will surely be received with an enthusiastic welcome there. I heartily
welcome this transfer for the sake of Mr. Koga. In concluding, I hope
that when he is settled down at Nobeoka, he will find a lady qualified
to become his wife, and form a sweet home at an early date and
incidentally let the inconstant, unchaste sassy old wench die ashamed
...... a'hum, a'hum!"

He coughed twice significantly and sat down. I thought of clapping my
hands again, but as it would draw attention, I refrained. When
Porcupine finished his speech, Hubbard Squash arose politely, slipped
out of his seat, went to the furthest end of the room, and having bowed
to all in a most respectful manner, acknowledged the compliments in the
following way;

"On the occasion of my going to Kyushu for my personal convenience, I am
deeply impressed and appreciate the way my friends have honored me with
this magnificent dinner....... The farewell addresses by our principal
and other gentlemen will be long held in my fondest recollection.......
I am going far away now, but I hope my name be included in the future as
in the past in the list of friends of the gentlemen here to-night."

Then again bowing, he returned to his seat. There was no telling how far
the "good-naturedness" of Hubbard Squash might go. He had respectfully
thanked the principal and the head teacher who had been fooling him. And
it was not a formal, cut-and-dried reply he made, either; by his manner,
tone and face, he appeared to have been really grateful from his heart.
Badger and Red Shirt should have blushed when they were addressed so
seriously by so good a man as Hubbard Squash, but they only listened
with long faces.

After the exchange of addresses, a sizzling sound was heard here and
there, and I too tried the soup which tasted like anything but soup.
There was kamaboko in the kuchitori dish, but instead of being snow
white as it should be, it looked grayish, and was more like a poorly
cooked chikuwa. The sliced tunny was there, but not having been sliced
fine, passed the throat like so many pieces of chopped raw tunny. Those
around me, however, ate with ravenous appetite. They have not tasted, I
guess, the real Yedo dinner.

Meanwhile the bottles began passing round, and all became more or less
"jacked up." Clown proceeded to the front of the principal and
submissively drank to his health. A beastly fellow, this! Hubbard Squash
made a round of all the guests, drinking to their health. A very onerous
job, indeed. When he came to me and proposed my health, I abandoned the
squatting posture and sat up straight.

"Too bad to see you go away so soon. When are you going? I want to see
you off at the beach," I said.

"Thank you, Sir. But never mind that. You're busy," he declined. He
might decline, but I was determined to get excused for the day and give
him a rousing send-off.

Within about an hour from this, the room became pretty lively.

"Hey, have another, hic; ain't goin', hic, have one on me?" One or two
already in a pickled state appeared on the scene. I was little tired,
and going out to the porch, was looking at the old fashioned garden by
the dim star light, when Porcupine came.

"How did you like my speech? Wasn't it grand, though!" he remarked in a
highly elated tone. I protested that while I approved 99 per cent, of
his speech, there was one per cent, that I did not. "What's that one per
cent?" he asked.

"Well, you said,...... there is not a single high-collared guy who with
smooth face entraps innocent people......."

"Yes."

"A 'high-collared guy' isn't enough."

"Then what should I say?"

"Better say,--'a high-collared guy; swindler, bastard,
super-swanker, doubleface, bluffer, totempole, spotter, who looks
like a dog as he yelps.'"

"I can't get my tongue to move so fast. You're eloquent. In the first
place, you know a great many simple words. Strange that you can't make
a speech."

"I reserve these words for use when I chew the rag. If it comes to
speech-making, they don't come out so smoothly."

"Is that so? But they simply come a-running. Repeat that again for me."

"As many times as you like. Listen,--a high-collared guy, swindler,
bastard, super-swanker ..."

While I was repeating this, two shaky fellows came out of the room
hammering the floor.

"Hey, you two gents, if won't do to run away. Won't let you off while
I'm here. Come and have a drink. Bastard? That's fine. Bastardly fine.
Now, come on."

And they pulled Porcupine and me away. These two fellows really had come
to the lavatory, but soaked as they were, in booze bubbles, they
apparently forgot to proceed to their original destination, and were
pulling us hard. All booze fighters seem to be attracted by whatever
comes directly under their eyes for the moment and forget what they had
been proposing to do.

"Say, fellows, we've got bastards. Make them drink. Get them loaded. You
gents got to stay here."

And they pushed me who never attempted to escape against the wall.
Surveying the scene, I found there was no dish in which any edibles were
left. Some one had eaten all his share, and gone on a foraging
expedition. The principal was not there,--I did not know when he left.

At that time, preceded by a coquetish voice, three or four geishas
entered the room. I was a bit surprised, but having been pushed against
the wall, I had to look on quietly. At the instant, Red Shirt who had
been leaning against a pillar with the same old amber pipe stuck into
his mouth with some pride, suddenly got up and started to leave the
room. One of the geishas who was advancing toward him smiled and
courtesied at him as she passed by him. The geisha was the youngest and
prettiest of the bunch. They were some distance away from me and I could
not see very well, but it seemed that she might have said "Good
evening." Red Shirt brushed past as if unconscious, and never showed
again. Probably he followed the principal.

The sight of the geishas set the room immediately in a buzz and it
became noisy as they all raised howls of welcome. Some started the game
of "nanko" with a force that beat the sword-drawing practice. Others
began playing morra, and the way they shook their hands, intently
absorbed in the game, was a better spectacle than a puppet show.

One in the corner was calling "Hey, serve me here," but shaking the
bottle, corrected it to "Hey, fetch me more sake." The whole room
became so infernally noisy that I could scarcely stand it. Amid this
orgy, one, like a fish out of water, sat down with his head bowed. It
was Hubbard Squash. The reason they have held this farewell dinner
party was not in order to bid him a farewell, but because they wanted
to have a jolly good time for themselves with John Barleycorn. He had
come to suffer only. Such a dinner party would have been better had it
not been started at all.

After a while, they began singing ditties in outlandish voices. One of
the geishas came in front of me, and taking up a samisen, asked me to
sing something. I told her I didn't sing, but I'd like to hear, and she
droned out:

"If one can go round and meet the one he wants, banging gongs and drums
...... bang, bang, bang, bang, bing, shouting after wandering Santaro,
there is some one I'd like to meet by banging round gongs and drums
...... bang, bang, bang, bang, b-i-n-g."

She dashed this off in two breaths, and sighed, "O, dear!" She should
have sung something easier.

Clown who had come near us meanwhile, remarked in his flippant tone:

"Hello, dear Miss Su-chan, too bad to see your beau go away so soon."
The geisha pouted, "I don't know." Clown, regardless, began imitating
"gidayu" with a dismal voice,--"What a luck, when she met her sweet
heart by a rare chance...."

The geisha slapped the lap of Clown with a "Cut that out," and Clown
gleefully laughed. This geisha is the one who made goo-goo eyes[J] at
Red Shirt. What a simpleton, to be pleased by the slap of a geisha, this
Clown. He said:

"Say, Su-chan, strike up the string. I'm going to dance the Kiino-kuni."
He seemed yet to dance.

On other side of the room, the old man of Confucius, twisting round his
toothless mouth, had finished as far as "...... dear Dembei-san" and is
asking a geisha who sat in front of him to couch him for the rest. Old
people seem to need polishing up their memorizing system. One geisha is
talking to the teacher of natural history:

"Here's the latest. I'll sing it. Just listen. 'Margaret, the
high-collared head with a white ribbon; she rides on a bike, plays a
violin, and talks in broken English,--I am glad to see you.'" Natural
history appears impressed, and says;

"That's an interesting piece. English in it too."

Porcupine called "geisha, geisha," in a loud voice, and commanded; "Bang
your samisen; I'm going to dance a sword-dance."

His manner was so rough that the geishas were startled and did not
answer. Porcupine, unconcerned, brought out a cane, and began performing
the sword-dance in the center of the room. Then Clown, having danced the
Kii-no-kuni, the Kap-pore[K] and the Durhma-san on the Shelf, almost
stark-naked, with a palm-fibre broom, began turkey-trotting about the
room, shouting "The Sino-Japanese negotiations came to a break......."
The whole was a crazy sight.

I had been feeling sorry for Hubbard Squash, who up to this time had sat
up straight in his full dress. Even were this a farewell dinner held in
his honor, I thought he was under no obligation to look patiently in a
formal dress at the naked dance. So I went to him and persuaded him with
"Say, Koga-san, let's go home." Hubbard Squash said the dinner was in
his honor, and it would be improper for him to leave the room before the
guests. He seemed to be determined to remain.

"What do you care!" I said, "If this is a farewell dinner, make it like
one. Look at those fellows; they're just like the inmates of a lunatic
asylum. Let's go."

And having forced hesitating Hubbard Squash to his feet, we were
just leaving the room, when Clown, marching past, brandishing the
broom, saw us.

"This won't do for the guest of honor to leave before us," he hollered,
"this is the Sino-Japanese negotiations. Can't let you off." He enforced
his declaration by holding the broom across our way. My temper had been
pretty well aroused for some time, and I felt impatient.

"The Sino-Japanese negotiation, eh? Then you're a Chink," and I whacked
his head with a knotty fist.

This sudden blow left Clown staring blankly speechless for a second or
two; then he stammered out:

"This is going some! Mighty pity to knock my head. What a blow on this
Yoshikawa! This makes the Sino-Japanese negotiations the sure stuff."

While Clown was mumbling these incoherent remarks, Porcupine, believing
some kind of row had been started, ceased his sword-dance and came
running toward us. On seeing us, he grabbed the neck of Clown and
pulled him back.

"The Sino-Japane......ouch!......ouch! This is outrageous," and Clown
writhed under the grip of Porcupine who twisted him sideways and threw
him down on the floor with a bang. I do not know the rest. I parted from
Hubbard Squash on the way, and it was past eleven when I returned home.



CHAPTER X.


The town is going to celebrate a Japanese victory to-day, and there is
no school. The celebration is to be held at the parade ground, and
Badger is to take out all the students and attend the ceremony. As one
of the instructors, I am to go with them. The streets are everywhere
draped with flapping national flags almost enough to dazzle the eyes.
There were as many as eight hundred students in all, and it was
arranged, under the direction of the teacher of physical culture to
divide them into sections with one teacher or two to lead them. The
arrangement itself was quite commendable, but in its actual operation
the whole thing went wrong. All students are mere kiddies who, ever too
fresh, regard it as beneath their dignity not to break all regulations.
This rendered the provision of teachers among them practically useless.
They would start marching songs without being told to, and if they
ceased the marching songs, they would raise devilish shouts without
cause. Their behavior would have done credit to the gang of tramps
parading the streets demanding work. When they neither sing nor shout,
they tee-hee and giggle. Why they cannot walk without these disorder,
passes my understanding, but all Japanese are born with their mouths
stuck out, and no kick will ever be strong enough to stop it. Their
chatter is not only of simple nature, but about the teachers when their
back is turned. What a degraded bunch! I made the students apologize to
me on the dormitory affair, and considered the incident closed. But I
was mistaken. To borrow the words of the old lady in the boarding house,
I was surely wrong Mr. Wright. The apology they offered was not prompted
by repentance in their hearts. They had kowtowed as a matter of form by
the command of the principal. Like the tradespeople who bow their heads
low but never give up cheating the public, the students apologize but
never stop their mischiefs. Society is made up, I think it probable, of
people just like those students. One may be branded foolishly honest if
he takes seriously the apologies others might offer. We should regard
all apologies a sham and forgiving also as a sham; then everything would
be all right. If one wants to make another apologize from his heart, he
has to pound him good and strong until he begs for mercy from his heart.

As I walked along between the sections, I could hear constantly the
voices mentioning "tempura" or "dango." And as there were so many of
them, I could not tell which one mentioned it. Even if I succeeded in
collaring the guilty one I was sure of his saying, "No, I didn't mean
you in saying tempura or dango. I fear you suffer from nervousness and
make wrong inferences." This dastardly spirit has been fostered from the
time of the feudal lords, and is deep-rooted. No amount of teaching or
lecturing will cure it. If I stay in a town like this for one year or
so, I may be compelled to follow their example, who knows,--clean and
honest though I have been. I do not propose to make a fool of myself by
remaining quiet when others attempt to play games on me, with all their
excuses ready-made. They are men and so am I--students or kiddies or
whatever they may be. They are bigger than I, and unless I get even with
them by punishment, I would cut a sorry figure. But in the attempt to
get even, if I resort to ordinary means, they are sure to make it a
boomerang. If I tell them, "You're wrong," they will start an eloquent
defence, because they are never short of the means of sidestepping.
Having defended themselves, and made themselves appear suffering
martyrs, they would begin attacking me. As the incident would have been
started by my attempting to get even with them, my defence would not be
a defence until I can prove their wrong. So the quarrel, which they had
started, might be mistaken, after all, as one begun by me. But the more
I keep silent the more they would become insolent, which, speaking
seriously, could not be permitted for the sake of public morale. In
consequence, I am obliged to adopt an identical policy so they cannot
catch men in playing it back on them. If the situation comes to that, it
would be the last day of the Yedo kid. Even so, if I am to be subjected
to these pin-pricking[L] tricks, I am a man and got to risk losing off
the last remnant of the honor of the Yedo kid. I became more convinced
of the advisability of returning to Tokyo quickly and living with Kiyo.
To live long in such a countrytown would be like degrading myself for a
purpose. Newspaper delivering would be preferable to being degraded so
far as that.

I walked along with a sinking heart, thinking like this, when the head
of our procession became suddenly noisy, and the whole came to a full
stop. I thought something has happened, stepped to the right out of the
ranks, and looked toward the direction of the noise. There on the corner
of Otemachi, turning to Yakushimachi, I saw a mass packed full like
canned sardines, alternately pushing back and forth. The teacher of
physical culture came down the line hoarsely shouting to all to be
quiet. I asked him what was the matter, and he said the middle school
and the normal had come to a clash at the corner.

The middle school and the normal, I understood, are as much friendly as
dogs and monkeys. It is not explained why but their temper was
hopelessly crossed, and each would try to knock the chip off the
shoulder of the other on all occasions. I presume they quarrel so much
because life gets monotonous in this backwoods town. I am fond of
fighting, and hearing of the clash, darted forward to make the most of
the fun. Those foremost in the line are jeering, "Get out of the way,
you country tax!"[12] while those in the rear are hollowing "Push them
out!" I passed through the students, and was nearing the corner, when I
heard a sharp command of "Forward!" and the line of the normal school
began marching on. The clash which had resulted from contending for the
right of way was settled, but it was settled by the middle school giving
way to the normal. From the point of school-standing the normal is said
to rank above the middle.

[Footnote 12: The normal school in the province maintains the students
mostly on the advance-expense system, supported by the country tax.]

The ceremony was quite simple. The commander of the local brigade read a
congratulatory address, and so did the governor, and the audience
shouted banzais. That was all. The entertainments were scheduled for the
afternoon, and I returned home once and started writing to Kiyo an
answer which had been in my mind for some days. Her request had been
that I should write her a letter with more detailed news; so I must get
it done with care. But as I took up the rolled letter-paper, I did not
know with what I should begin, though I have many things to write about.

Should I begin with that? That is too much trouble. Or with this? It is
not interesting. Isn't there something which will come out smoothly, I
reflected, without taxing my head too much, and which will interest
Kiyo. There seemed, however, no such item as I wanted I grated the
ink-cake, wetted the writing brush, stared at the letter-paper--stared
at the letter-paper, wetted the writing brush, grated the ink-cake--and,
having repeated the same thing several times, I gave up the letter
writing as not in my line, and covered the lid of the stationery box. To
write a letter was a bother. It would be much simpler to go back to
Tokyo and see Kiyo. Not that I am unconcerned about the anxiety of Kiyo,
but to get up a letter to please the fancy of Kiyo is a harder job than
to fast for three weeks.

I threw down the brush and letter-paper, and lying down with my bent
arms as a pillow, gazed at the garden. But the thought of the letter to
Kiyo would come back in my mind. Then I thought this way; If I am
thinking of her from my heart, even at such a distance, my sincerity
would find responsive appreciation in Kiyo. If it does find response,
there is no need of sending letters. She will regard the absence of
letters from me as a sign of my being in good health. If I write in case
of illness or when something unusual happens, that will be sufficient.

The garden is about thirty feet square, with no particular plants worthy
of name. There is one orange tree which is so tall as to be seen above
the board fence from outside. Whenever I returned from the school I used
to look at this orange tree. For to those who had not been outside of
Tokyo, oranges on the tree are rather a novel sight. Those oranges now
green will ripen by degrees and turn to yellow, when the tree would
surely be beautiful. There are some already ripened. The old lady told
me that they are juicy, sweet oranges. "They will all soon be ripe, and
then help yourself to all you want," she said. I think I will enjoy a
few every day. They will be just right in about three weeks. I do not
think I will have to leave the town in so short a time as three weeks.

While my attention was centered on the oranges, Porcupine[M] came in.

"Say, to-day being the celebration[N] of victory, I thought I would get
something good to eat with you, and bought some beef."

So saying, he took out a package covered with a bamboo-wrapper, and
threw it down in the center of the room. I had been denied the pleasure
of patronizing the noodle house or dango shop, on top of getting sick of
the sweet potatoes and tofu, and I welcomed the suggestion with "That's
fine," and began cooking it with a frying pan and some sugar borrowed
from the old lady.

Porcupine, munching the beef to the full capacity of his mouth, asked me
if I knew Red Shirt having a favorite geisha. I asked if that was not
one of the geishas who came to our dinner the other night, and he
answered, "Yes, I got the wind of the fact only recently; you're sharp."

"Red Shirt always speaks of refinement of character or of mental
consolation, but he is making a fool of himself by chasing round a
geisha. What a dandy rogue. We might let that go if he wouldn't make
fuss about others making fools of themselves. I understand through the
principal he stopped your going even to noodle houses or dango shops as
unbecoming to the dignity of the school, didn't he?"

"According to his idea, running after a geisha is a mental consolation
but tempura or dango is a material pleasure, I guess. If that's mental
consolation, why doesn't the fool do it above board? You ought to see
the jacknape skipping out of the room when the geisha came into it the
other night,--I don't like his trying to deceive us, but if one were to
point it out for him, he would deny it or say it was the Russian
literature or that the haiku is a half-brother of the new poetry, and
expect to hush it up by twaddling soft nonsense. A weak-knee like him is
not a man. I believe he lived the life of a court-maid in former life.
Perhaps his daddy might have been a kagema at Yushima in old days."

"What is a kagema?"

"I suppose something very unmanly,--sort of emasculated chaps. Say, that
part isn't cooked enough. It might give you tape worm."

"So? I think it's all right. And, say, Red Shirt is said to frequent
Kadoya at the springs town and meet his geisha there, but he keeps
it in dark."

"Kadoya? That hotel?"

"Also a restaurant. So we've got to catch him there with his geisha and
make it hot for him right to his face."

"Catch him there? Suppose we begin a kind of night watch?"

"Yes, you know there is a rooming house called Masuya in front of
Kadoya. We'll rent one room upstairs of the house, and keep peeping
through a loophole we could make in the shoji."

"Will he come when we keep peeping at him?"

"He may. We will have to do it more than one night. Must expect to keep
it up for at least two weeks."

"Say, that would make one pretty well tired, I tell you. I sat up every
night for about one week attending my father when he died, and it left
me thoroughly down and out for some time afterward."

"I don't care if I do get tired some. A crook like Red Shirt should not
go unpunished that way for the honor of Japan, and I am going to
administer a chastisement in behalf of heaven."

"Hooray! If things are decided upon that way, I am game. And we are
going to start from to-night?"

"I haven't rented a room at Masuya yet, so can't start it to-night."

"Then when?"

"Will start before long. I'll let you know, and want you help me."

"Right-O. I will help you any time. I am not much myself at scheming,
but I am IT when it comes to fighting."

While Porcupine and I were discussing the plan of subjugating Red Shirt,
the old lady appeared at the door, announcing that a student was wanting
to see Professor Hotta. The student had gone to his house, but seeing
him out, had come here as probable to find him. Porcupine went to the
front door himself, and returning to the room after a while, said:

"Say, the boy came to invite us to go and see the entertainment of the
celebration. He says there is a big bunch of dancers from Kochi to dance
something, and it would be a long time before we could see the like of
it again. Let's go."

Porcupine seemed enthusiastic over the prospect of seeing that dance,
and induced me to go with him. I have seen many kinds of dance in Tokyo.
At the annual festival of the Hachiman Shrine, moving stages come around
the district, and I have seen the Shiokukmi and almost any other
variety. I was little inclined to see that dance by the sturdy fellows
from Tosa province, but as Porcupine was so insistent, I changed my mind
and followed him out. I did not know the student who came to invite
Porcupine, but found he was the younger brother of Red Shirt. Of all
students, what a strange choice for a messenger!

The celebration ground was decorated, like the wrestling amphitheater at
Ryogoku during the season, or the annual festivity of the Hommonji
temple, with long banners planted here and there, and on the ropes that
crossed and recrossed in the mid-air were strung the colors of all
nations, as if they were borrowed from as many nations for the occasion
and the large roof presented unusually cheerful aspect. On the eastern
corner there was built a temporary stage upon which the dance of Koehi
was to be performed. For about half a block, with the stage on the
right, there was a display of flowers and plant settings arranged on
shelves sheltered with reed screens. Everybody was looking at the
display seemingly much impressed, but it failed to impress me. If
twisted grasses or bamboos afforded so much pleasure, the gallantry of a
hunchback or the husband of a wrong pair should give as much pleasure to
their eyes.

In the opposite direction, aerial bombs and fire works were steadily
going on. A balloon shot out on which was written "Long Live the
Empire!" It floated leisurely over the pine trees near the castle
tower, and fell down inside the compound of the barracks. Bang! A black
ball shot up against the serene autumn sky; burst open straight above
my head, streams of luminous green smoke ran down in an umbrella-shape,
and finally faded. Then another balloon. It was red with "Long Live the
Army and Navy" in white. The wind slowly carried it from the town
toward the Aioi village. Probably it would fall into the yard of Kwanon
temple there.

At the formal celebration this morning there were not quite so many as
here now. It was surging mass that made me wonder how so many people
lived in the place. There were not many attractive faces among the
crowd, but as far as the numerical strength went, it was a formidable
one. In the meantime that dance had begun. I took it for granted that
since they call it a dance, it would be something similar to the kind of
dance by the Fujita troupe, but I was greatly mistaken.

Thirty fellows, dressed up in a martial style, in three rows of ten
each, stood with glittering drawn swords. The sight was an eye-opener,
indeed. The space between the rows measured about two feet, and that
between the men might have been even less. One stood apart from the
group. He was similarly dressed but instead of a drawn sword, he carried
a drum hung about his chest. This fellow drawled out signals the tone of
which suggested a mighty easy-life, and then croaking a strange song, he
would strike the drum. The tune was outlandishly unfamiliar. One might
form the idea by thinking it a combination of the Mikawa Banzai and the
Fudarakuya.

The song was drowsy, and like syrup in summer is dangling and slovenly.
He struck the drum to make stops at certain intervals. The tune was kept
with regular rhythmical order, though it appeared to have neither head
nor tail. In response to this tune, the thirty drawn swords flash, with
such dexterity and speed that the sight made the spectator almost
shudder. With live men within two feet of their position, the sharp
drawn blades, each flashing them in the same manner, they looked as if
they might make a bloody mess unless they were perfectly accurate in
their movements. If it had been brandishing swords alone without moving
themselves, the chances of getting slashed or cut might have been less,
but sometimes they would turn sideways together, or clear around, or
bend their knees. Just one second's difference in the movement, either
too quick or too late, on the part of the next fellow, might have meant
sloughing off a nose or slicing off the head of the next fellow. The
drawn swords moved in perfect freedom, but the sphere of action was
limited to about two feet square, and to cap it all, each had to keep
moving with those in front and back, at right and left, in the same
direction at the same speed. This beats me! The dance of the Shiokumi or
the Sekinoto would make no show compared with this! I heard them say the
dance requires much training, and it could not be an easy matter to make
so many dancers move in a unison like this. Particularly difficult part
in the dance was that of the fellow with drum stuck to his chest. The
movement of feet, action of hands, or bending of knees of those thirty
fellows were entirely directed by the tune with which he kept them
going. To the spectators this fellow's part appeared the easiest. He
sang in a lazy tune, but it was strange that he was the fellow who takes
the heaviest responsibility.

While Porcupine and I, deeply impressed, were looking at the dance with
absorbing interest, a sudden hue and cry was raised about half a block
off. A commotion was started among those who had been quietly enjoying
the sights and all ran pell-mell in every direction. Some one was heard
saying "fight!" Then the younger brother of Red Shirt came running
forward through the crowd.

"Please, Sir," he panted, "a row again! The middles are going to get
even with the normals and have just begun fighting. Come quick, Sir!"
And he melted somewhere into the crowd.

"What troublesome brats! So they're at it again, eh? Why can't
they stop it!"

Porcupine, as he spoke, dashed forward, dodging among the running crowd.
He meant, I think, to stop the fight, because he could not be an idle
spectator once he was informed of the fact. I of course had no intention
of turning tail, and hastened on the heels of Porcupine. The fight was
in its fiercest. There were about fifty to sixty normals, and the
middles numbered by some ninety. The normals wore uniform, but the
middles had discarded their uniform and put on Japanese civilian
clothes, which made the distinction between the two hostile camps easy.
But they were so mixed up, and wrangling with such violence, that we did
not know how and where we could separate them.

Porcupine, apparently at a loss what to do, looked at the wild scene
awhile, then turned to me, saying:

"Let's jump in and separate them. It will be hell if cops get on them."

I did not answer, but rushed to the spot where the scuffle appeared
most violent.

"Stop there! Cut this out! You're ruining the name of the school! Stop
this, dash you!"

Shouting at the top of my voice, I attempted to penetrate the line which
seemed to separate the hostile sides, but this attempt did not succeed.
When about ten feet into the turmoil, I could neither advance nor
retreat. Right in my front, a comparatively large normal was grappling
with a middle about sixteen years of ago.

"Stop that!"

I grabbed the shoulder of the normal and tried to force them apart when
some one whacked my feet. On this sudden attack, I let go the normal and
fell down sideways. Some one stepped on my back with heavy shoes. With
both hands and knees upon the ground, I jumped up and the fellow on my
back rolled off to my right. I got up, and saw the big body of Porcupine
about twenty feet away, sandwiched between the students, being pushed
back and forth, shouting, "Stop the fight! Stop that!"

"Say, we can't do anything!" I hollered at him, but unable to hear, I
think, he did not answer.

A pebble-stone whiffled through the air and hit squarely on my cheek
bone; the same moment some one banged my back with a heavy stick
from behind.

"Profs mixing in!" "Knock them down!" was shouted.

"Two of them; big one and small. Throw stones at them!" Another shout.

"Drat you fresh jackanapes!" I cried as I wallopped the head of a normal
nearby. Another stone grazed my head, and passed behind me. I did not
know what had become of Porcupine, I could not find him. Well, I could
not help it but jumped into the teapot to stop the tempest. I wasn't[O]
a Hottentot to skulk away on being shot at with pebble-stones. What did
they think I was anyway! I've been through all kinds of fighting in
Tokyo, and can take in all fights one may care to give me. I slugged,
jabbed and banged the stuffing out of the fellow nearest to me. Then
some one cried, "Cops! Cops! Cheese it! Beat it!" At that moment, as if
wading through a pond of molasses, I could hardly move, but the next I
felt suddenly released and both sides scampered off simultaneously. Even
the country fellows do creditable work when it comes to retreating, more
masterly than General Kuropatkin, I might say.

I searched for Porcupine who, I found his overgown torn to shreds, was
wiping his nose. He bled considerably, and his nose having swollen was a
sight. My clothes were pretty well massed with dirt, but I had not
suffered quite as much damage as Porcupine. I felt pain in my cheek and
as Porcupine said, it bled some.

About sixteen police officers arrived at the scene but, all the students
having beat it in opposite directions, all they were able to catch were
Porcupine and me. We gave them our names and explained the whole story.
The officers requested us to follow them to the police station which we
did, and after stating to the chief of police what had happened, we
returned home.



CHAPTER XI.


The next morning on awakening I felt pains all over my body, due, I
thought, to having had no fight for a long time. This is not creditable
to my fame as regards fighting, so I thought while in bed, when the old
lady brought me a copy of the Shikoku Shimbun. I felt so weak as to need
some effort even reaching for the paper. But what should be man so
easily upset by such a trifling affair,--so I forced myself to turn in
bed, and, opening its second page, I was surprised. There was the whole
story of the fight of yesterday in print. Not that I was surprised by
the news of the fight having been published, but it said that one
teacher Hotta of the Middle School and one certain saucy Somebody,
recently from Tokyo, of the same institution, not only started this
trouble by inciting the students, but were actually present at the scene
of the trouble, directing the students and engaged themselves against
the students of the Normal School. On top of this, something of the
following effect was added.

"The Middle School in this prefecture has been an object of admiration
by all other schools for its good and ideal behavior. But since this
long-cherished honor has been sullied by these two irresponsible
persons, and this city made to suffer the consequent indignity, we have
to bring the perpetrators to full account. We trust that before we take
any step in this matter, the authorities will have those 'toughs'
properly punished, barring them forever from our educational circles."

All the types were italicized, as if they meant to administer
typographical chastisement upon us. "What the devil do I care!" I
shouted, and up I jumped out of bed. Strange to say, the pain in my
joints became tolerable.

I rolled up the newspaper and threw it into the garden. Not satisfied, I
took that paper to the cesspool and dumped it there. Newspapers tell
such reckless lies. There is nothing so adept, I believe, as the
newspaper in circulating lies. It has said what I should have said. And
what does it mean by "one saucy Somebody who is recently from Tokyo?" Is
there any one in this wide world with the name of Somebody? Don't
forget, I have a family and personal name of my own which I am proud of.
If they want to look at my family-record, they will bow before every one
of my ancestors from Mitsunaka Tada down. Having washed my face, my
cheek began suddenly smarting. I asked the old lady for a mirror, and
she asked if I had read the paper of this morning. "Yes," I said, "and
dumped it in the cesspool; go and pick it up if you want it,"--and she
withdrew with a startled look. Looking in the mirror, I saw bruises on
my cheek. Mine is a precious face to me. I get my face bruised, and am
called a saucy Somebody as if I were nobody. That is enough.

It will be a reflection on my honor to the end of my days if it is said
that I shunned the public gaze and kept out of the school on account of
the write-up in the paper. So, after the breakfast, I attended the
school ahead of all. One after the other, all coming to the school would
grin at my face. What is there to laugh about! This face is my own,
gotten up, I am sure, without the least obligation on their part. By and
by, Clown appeared.

"Ha, heroic action yesterday. Wounds of honor, eh?"

He made this sarcastic remark, I suppose, in revenge for the knock he
received on his head from me at the farewell dinner.

"Cut out nonsense; you get back there and suck your old drawing
brushes!" Then he answered "that was going some," and enquired if it
pained much?

"Pain or no pain, this is my face. That's none of your business," I
snapped back in a furious temper. Then Clown took his seat on the other
side, and still keeping his eye on me, whispered and laughed with the
teacher of history next to him.

Then came Porcupine. His nose had swollen and was purple,--it was a
tempting object for a surgeon's knife. His face showed far worse (is it
my conceit that make this comparison?) than mine. I and Porcupine are
chums with desks next to each other, and moreover, as ill-luck would
have it, the desks are placed right facing the door. Thus were two
strange faces placed together. The other fellows, when in want of
something to divert them, would gaze our way with regularity. They say
"too bad," but they are surely laughing in their minds as "ha, these
fools!" If that is not so, there is no reason for their whispering
together and grinning like that. In the class room, the boys clapped
their hands when I entered; two or three of them banzaied. I could not
tell whether it was an enthusiastic approval or open insult. While I and
Porcupine were thus being made the cynosures of the whole school, Red
Shirt came to me as usual.

"Too bad, my friend; I am very sorry indeed for you gentlemen," he said
in a semi-apologetic manner. "I've talked with the principal in regard
to the story in the paper, and have arranged to demand that the paper
retract the report, so you needn't worry on that score. You were plunged
into the trouble because my brother invited Mr. Hotta, and I don't know
how I can apologize you! I'm going to do my level best in this matter;
you gentlemen please depend on that." At the third hour recess the
principal came out of his room, and seemed more or less perturbed,
saying, "The paper made a bad mess of it, didn't it? I hope the matter
will not become serious."

As to anxiety, I have none. If they propose to relieve me, I intend
to tender my resignation before I get fired,--that's all. However, if
I resign with no fault on my part, I would be simply giving the paper
advantage. I thought it proper to make the paper take back what it
had said, and stick to my position. I was going to the newspaper
office to give them a piece of my mind on my way back but having been
told that the school had already taken steps to have the story
retracted, I did not.

Porcupine and I saw the principal and Red Shirt at a convenient hour,
giving them a faithful version of the incident. The principal and Red
Shirt agreed that the incident must have been as we said and that the
paper bore some grudge against the school and purposely published such a
story. Red Shirt made a round of personal visits on each teacher in the
room, defending and explaining our action in the affair. Particularly he
dwelt upon the fact that his brother invited Porcupine and it was his
fault. All teachers denounced the paper as infamous and agreed that we
two deserved sympathy.

On our way home, Porcupine warned me that Red Shirt smelt suspicious,
and we would be done unless we looked out. I said he had been smelling
some anyway,--it was not necessarily so just from to-day. Then he said
that it was his trick to have us invited and mixed in the fight
yesterday,--"Aren't you on to that yet?" Well, I was not. Porcupine was
quite a Grobian but he was endowed, I was impressed, with a better
brain than I.

"He made us mix into the trouble, and slipped behind and contrived to
have the paper publish the story. What a devil!"

"Even the newspaper in the band wagon of Red Shirt? That surprises me.
But would the paper listen to Red Shirt so easily?"

"Wouldn't it, though. Darn easy thing if one has friends in the
paper."[P]

"Has he any?"

"Suppose he hasn't, still that's easy. Just tell lies and say such and
such are facts, and the paper will take it up."

"A startling revelation, this. If that was really a trick of Red Shirt,
we're likely to be discharged on account of this affair."

"Quite likely we may be discharged."

"Then I'll tender my resignation tomorrow, and back to Tokyo I go. I am
sick of staying in such a wretched hole."

"Your resignation wouldn't make Red Shirt squeal."

"That's so. How can he be made to squeal?"

"A wily guy like him always plots not to leave any trace behind, and it
would be difficult to follow his track."

"What a bore! Then we have to stand in a false light, eh? Damn it! I
call all kinds of god to witness if this is just and right!"

"Let's wait for two or three days and see how it turns out. And if
we can't do anything else, we will have to catch him at the hot
springs town."

"Leaving this fight affair a separate case?"

"Yes. We'll have to his hit weak spot with our own weapon."

"That may be good. I haven't much to say in planning it out; I leave it
to you and will do anything at your bidding."

I parted from Porcupine then. If Red Shirt was really instrumental in
bringing us two into the trouble as Porcupine supposed, he certainly
deserves to be called down. Red Shirt outranks us in brainy work. And
there is no other course open but to appeal to physical force. No wonder
we never see the end of war in the world. Among individuals, it is,
after all, the question of superiority of the fist.

Next day I impatiently glanced over the paper, the arrival of which I
had been waiting with eagerness, but not a correction of the news or
even a line of retraction could be found. I pressed the matter on
Badger when I went to the school, and he said it might probably appear
tomorrow. On that "tomorrow" a line of retraction was printed in tiny
types. But the paper did not make any correction of the story. I called
the attention of Badger to the fact, and he replied that that was about
all that could be done under the circumstance. The principal, with the
face like a badger and always swaggering, is surprisingly, wanting in
influence. He has not even as much power as to bring down a country
newspaper, which had printed a false story. I was so thoroughly
indignant that I declared I would go alone to the office and see the
editor-in-chief on the subject, but Badger said no.

"If you go there and have a blowup with the editor," he continued, "it
would only mean of your being handed out worse stuff in the paper again.
Whatever is published in a paper, right or wrong, nothing can be done
with it." And he wound up with a remark that sounded like a piece of
sermon by a Buddhist bonze that "We must be contented by speedily
despatching the matter from our minds and forgetting it."

If newspapers are of that character, it would be beneficial for us all
to have them suspended,--the sooner the better. The similarity of the
unpleasant sensation of being written-up in a paper and being
bitten-down by a turtle became plain for the first time by the
explanation of Badger.

About three days afterward, Porcupine came to me excited, and said that
the time has now come, that he proposes to execute that thing we had
planned out. Then I will do so, I said, and readily agreed to join him.
But Porcupine jerked his head, saying that I had better not. I asked him
why, and he asked if I had been requested by the principal to tender my
resignation. No, I said, and asked if he had. He told me that he was
called by the principal who was very, very sorry for him but under the
circumstance requested him to decide to resign.

"That isn't fair. Badger probably had been pounding his belly-drum too
much and his stomach is upside down," I said, "you and I went to the
celebration, looked at the glittering sword dance together, and jumped
into the fight together to stop it. Wasn't it so? If he wants you to
tender your resignation, he should be impartial and should have asked me
to also. What makes everything in the country school so dull-head. This
is irritating!"

"That's wire-pulling by Red Shirt," he said. "I and Red Shirt cannot go
along together, but they think you can be left as harmless."

"I wouldn't get along with that Red Shirt either. Consider me harmless,
eh? They're getting too gay with me."

"You're so simple and straight that they think they can handle you in
any old way."

"Worse still. I wouldn't get along with him, I tell you."

"Besides, since the departure of Koga, his successor has not arrived.
Furthermore, if they fire me and you together, there will be blank spots
in the schedule hours at the school."

"Then they expect me to play their game. Darn the fellow! See if they
can make me."

On going to the school next day I made straightway for the room of the
principal and started firing;

"Why don't you ask me to put in my resignation?" I said.

"Eh?" Badger stared blankly.

"You requested Hotta to resign, but not me. Is that right?"

"That is on account of the condition of the school......"

"That condition is wrong, I dare say. If I don't have to resign, there
should be no necessity for Hotta to resign either."

"I can't offer a detailed explanation about that......as to Hotta, it
cannot be helped if he goes...... ......we see no need of your
resigning."

Indeed, he is a badger. He jabbers something, dodging the point, but
appears complacent. So I had to say:

"Then, I will tender my resignation. You might have thought that I
would remain peacefully while Mr. Hotta is forced to resign, but I
cannot do it"

"That leaves us in a bad fix. If Hotta goes away and you follow him, we
can't teach mathematics here."

"None of my business if you can't."

"Say, don't be so selfish. You ought to consider the condition of the
school. Besides, if it is said that you resigned within one month of
starting a new job, it would affect your record in the future. You
should consider that point also."

"What do I care about my record. Obligation is more important
than record."

"That's right. What you say is right, but be good enough to take our
position into consideration. If you insist on resigning, then resign,
but please stay until we get some one to take your place. At any rate,
think the matter over once more, please."

The reason was so plain as to discourage any attempt to think it over,
but as I took some pity on Badger whose face reddened or paled
alternately as he spoke, I withdrew on the condition that I would think
the matter over. I did not talk with Red Shirt. If I have to land him
one, it was better, I thought, to have it bunched together and make it
hot and strong.

I acquainted Porcupine with the details of my meeting with Badger. He
said he had expected it to be about so, and added that the matter of
resignation can be left alone without causing me any embarrassment
until the time comes. So I followed his advice. Porcupine appears
somewhat smarter than I, and I have decided to accept whatever advices
he may give.

Porcupine finally tendered his resignation, and having bidden farewell
of all the fellow teachers, went down to Minato-ya on the beach. But he
stealthily returned to the hot springs town, and having rented a front
room upstairs of Masuya, started peeping through the hole he fingered
out in the shoji. I am the only person who knows of this. If Red Shirt
comes round, it would be night anyway, and as he is liable to be seen by
students or some others during the early part in the evening, it would
surely be after nine. For the first two nights, I was on the watch till
about 11 o'clock, but no sight of Red Shirt was seen. On the third
night, I kept peeping through from nine to ten thirty, but he did not
come. Nothing made me feel more like a fool than returning to the
boarding house at midnight after a fruitless watch. In four or five
days, our old lady began worrying about me and advised me to quit night
prowling,--being married. My night prowling is different from that kind
of night prowling. Mine is that of administering a deserved
chastisement. But then, when no encouragement is in sight after one
week, it becomes tiresome. I am quick tempered, and get at it with all
zeal when my interest is aroused, and would sit up all night to work it
out, but I have never shone in endurance. However loyal a member of the
heavenly-chastisement league I may be, I cannot escape monotony. On the
sixth night I was a little tired, and on the seventh thought I would
quit. Porcupine, however, stuck to it with bull-dog tenacity. From early
in the evening up to past twelve, he would glue his eye to the shoji and
keep steadily watching under the gas globe of Kadoya. He would surprise
me, when I come into the room, with figures showing how many patrons
there were to-day, how many stop-overs and how many women, etc. Red
Shirt seems never to be coming, I said, and he would fold his arms,
audibly sighing, "Well, he ought to." If Red Shirt would not come just
for once, Porcupine would be deprived of the chance of handing out a
deserved and just punishment.

I left my boarding house about 7 o'clock on the eighth night and after
having enjoyed my bath, I bought eight raw eggs. This would counteract
the attack of sweet potatoes by the old lady. I put the eggs into my
right and left pockets, four in each, with the same old red towel hung
over my shoulder, my hands inside my coat, went to Masuya. I opened the
shoji of the room and Porcupine greeted me with his Idaten-like face
suddenly radiant, saying:

"Say, there's hope! There's hope!" Up to last night, he had been
downcast, and even I felt gloomy. But at his cheerful countenance, I too
became cheerful, and before hearing anything, I cried, "Hooray! Hooray!"

"About half past seven this evening," he said, "that geisha named Kosuzu
has gone into Kadoya."

"With Red Shirt?"

"No."

"That's no good then."

"There were two geishas......seems to me somewhat hopeful."

"How?"

"How? Why, the sly old fox is likely to send his girls ahead[Q], and
sneak round behind later."

"That may be the case. About nine now, isn't it?"

"About twelve minutes past nine," said he, pulling out a watch with
a nickel case, "and, say put out the light. It would be funny to
have two silhouettes of bonze heads on the shoji. The fox is too
ready to suspect."

I blew out the lamp which stood upon the lacquer-enameled table. The
shoji alone was dimly plain by the star light. The moon has not come up
yet. I and Porcupine put our faces close to the shoji, watching almost
breathless. A wall clock somewhere rang half past nine.

"Say, will he come to-night, do you think? If he doesn't show up, I
quit."

"I'm going to keep this up while my money lasts."

"Money? How much have you?"

"I've paid five yen and sixty sen up to to-day for eight days. I pay my
bill every night, so I can jump out anytime."

"That's well arranged. The people of this hotel must have been rather
put out, I suppose."

"That's all right with the hotel; only I can't take my mind off
the house."

"But you take some sleep in daytime."

"Yes, I take a nap, but it's nuisance because I can't go out."

"Heavenly chastisement is a hard job, I'm sure," I said. "If he gives
us the slip after giving us such trouble, it would have been a
thankless task."

"Well, I'm sure he will come to-night...--... Look, look!" His voice
changed to whisper and I was alert in a moment. A fellow with a black
hat looked up at the gas light of Kadoya and passed on into the
darkness. No, it was not Red Shirt. Disappointing, this! Meanwhile the
clock at the office below merrily tinkled off ten. It seems to be
another bum watch to-night.

The streets everywhere had become quiet. The drum playing in the
tenderloin reached our ears distinctively. The moon had risen from
behind the hills of the hot springs. It is very light outside. Then
voices were heard below. We could not poke our heads out of the window,
so were unable to see the owners of the voices, but they were evidently
coming nearer. The dragging of komageta (a kind of wooden footwear) was
heard. They approached so near we could see their shadows.

"Everything is all right now. We've got rid of the stumbling block." It
was undoubtedly the voice of Clown.

"He only glories in bullying but has no tact." This from Red Shirt.

"He is like that young tough, isn't he? Why, as to that young tough, he
is a winsome, sporty Master Darling."

"I don't want my salary raised, he says, or I want to tender
resignation,--I'm sure something is wrong with his nerves."

I was greatly inclined to open the window, jump out of the second story
and make them see more stars than they cared to, but I restrained myself
with some effort. The two laughed, and passed below the gas light, and
into Kadoya.

"Say."

"Well."

"He's here."

"Yes, he has come at last."

"I feel quite easy now."

"Damned Clown called me a sporty Master Darling."

"The stumbling[R] block means me. Hell!"

I and Porcupine had to waylay them on their return. But we knew no more
than the man in the moon when they would come out. Porcupine went down
to the hotel office, notifying them to the probability of our going out
at midnight, and requesting them to leave the door unfastened so we
could get out anytime. As I think about it now, it is wonderful how the
hotel people complied with our request. In most cases, we would have
been taken for burglars.

It was trying to wait for the coming of Red Shirt, but it was still more
trying to wait for his coming out again. We could not go to sleep, nor
could we remain with our faces stuck to the shoji all the time our minds
constantly in a state of feverish agitation. In all my life, I never
passed such fretful, mortifying hours. I suggested that we had better go
right into his room and catch him but Porcupine rejected the proposal
outright. If we get in there at this time of night, we are likely to be
prevented from preceding much further, he said, and if we ask to see
him, they will either answer that he is not there or will take us into a
different room. Supposing we do break into a room, we cannot tell of all
those many rooms, where we can find him. There is no other way but to
wait for him to come out, however tiresome it may be. So we sat up till
five in the morning.

The moment we saw them emerging from Kadoya, I and Porcupine followed
them. It was some time before the first train started and they had to
walk up to town. Beyond the limit of the hot springs town, there is a
road for about one block running through the rice fields, both sides of
which are lined with cedar trees. Farther on are thatch-roofed farm
houses here and there, and then one comes upon a dyke leading straight
to the town through the fields. We can catch them anywhere outside the
town, but thinking it would be better to get them, if possible, on the
road lined with cedar trees where we may not be seen by others, we
followed them cautiously. Once out of the town limit, we darted on a
double-quick time, and caught up with them. Wondering what was coming
after them, they turned back, and we grabbed their shoulders. We cried,
"Wait!" Clown, greatly rattled, attempted to escape, but I stepped in
front of him to cut off his retreat.

"What makes one holding the job of a head teacher stay over night at
Kadoya!" Porcupine directly fired the opening gun.

"Is there any rule that a head teacher should not stay over night at
Kadoya?" Red Shirt met the attack in a polite manner. He looked a
little pale.

"Why the one who is so strict as to forbid others from going even to
noodle house or dango shop as unbecoming to instructors, stayed over
night at a hotel with a geisha!"

Clown was inclined to run at the first opportunity; so kept I
before him.

"What's that Master Darling of a young tough!" I roared.

"I didn't mean you. Sir. No, Sir, I didn't mean you, sure." He insisted
on this brazen excuse. I happened to notice at that moment that I had
held my pockets with both hands. The eggs in both pockets jerked so when
I ran, that I had been holding them, I thrust my hand into the pocket,
took out two and dashed them on the face of Clown. The eggs crushed, and
from the tip of his nose the yellow streamed down. Clown was taken
completely surprised, and uttering a hideous cry, he fell down on the
ground and begged for mercy. I had bought those eggs to eat, but had not
carried them for the purpose of making "Irish Confetti" of them.
Thoroughly roused, in the moment of passion, I had dashed them at him
before I knew what I was doing. But seeing Clown down and finding my
hand grenade successful, I banged the rest of the eggs on him,
intermingled with "Darn you, you sonovagun!" The face of Clown was
soaked in yellow.

While I was bombarding Clown with the eggs, Porcupine was firing at
Red[S] Shirt.

"Is there any evidence that I stayed there over night with a geisha?"

"I saw your favorite old chicken go there early in the evening, and am
telling you so. You can't fool me!"

"No need for us of fooling anybody. I stayed there with Mr. Yoshikawa,
and whether any geisha had gone there early in the evening or not,
that's none of my business."

"Shut up!" Porcupine wallopped him one. Red Shirt tottered.

"This is outrageous! It is rough to resort to force before deciding the
right or wrong of it!"

"Outrageous indeed!" Another clout. "Nothing but wallopping will be
effective on you scheming guys." The remark was followed by a shower
of blows. I soaked Clown at the same time, and made him think he saw
the way to the Kingdom-Come. Finally the two crawled and crouched at
the foot of a cedar tree, and either from inability to move or to
see, because their eyes had become hazy, they did not even attempt to
break away.

"Want more? If so, here goes some more!" With that we gave him more
until he cried enough. "Want more? You?" we turned to Clown, and he
answered "Enough, of course."

"This is the punishment of heaven on you grovelling wretches. Keep
this in your head and be more careful hereafter. You can never talk
down justice."

The two said nothing. They were so thoroughly cowed that they could
not speak.

"I'm going to neither, run away nor hide. You'll find me at Minato-ya on
the beach up to five this evening. Bring police officers or any old
thing you want," said Porcupine.

"I'm not going to run away or hide either. Will wait for you at the same
place with Hotta. Take the case to the police station if you like, or do
as you damn please," I said, and we two walked our own way.

It was a little before seven when I returned to my room. I started
packing as soon as I was in the room, and the astonished old lady asked
me what I was trying to do. I'm going to Tokyo to fetch my Madam, I
said, and paid my bill. I boarded a train and came to Minato-ya on the
beach and found Porcupine asleep upstairs. I thought of writing my
resignation, but not knowing how, just scribbled off that "because of
personal affairs, I have to resign and return, to Tokyo. Yours truly,"
and addressed and mailed it to the principal.

The steamer leaves the harbor at six in the evening. Porcupine and I,
tired out, slept like logs, and when we awoke it was two o'clock. We
asked the maid if the police had called on us, and she said no. Red
Shirt and Clown had not taken it to the police, eh? We laughed.

That night I and Porcupine left the town. The farther the vessel steamed
away from the shore, the more refreshed we felt. From Kobe to Tokyo we
boarded a through train and when we made Shimbashi, we breathed as if we
were once more in congenial human society. I parted from Porcupine at
the station, and have not had the chance of meeting him since.

I forgot to tell you about Kiyo. On my arrival at Tokyo, I rushed into
her house swinging my valise, before going to a hotel, with "Hello,
Kiyo, I'm back!"

"How good of you to return so soon!" she cried and hot tears streamed
down her cheeks. I was overjoyed, and declared that I would not go to
the country any more but would start housekeeping with Kiyo in Tokyo.

Some time afterward, some one helped me to a job as assistant engineer
at the tram car office. The salary was 25 yen a month, and the house
rent six. Although the house had not a magnificent front entrance, Kiyo
seemed quite satisfied, but, I am sorry to say, she was a victim of
pneumonia and died in February this year. On the day preceding her
death, she asked me to bedside, and said, "Please, Master Darling, if
Kiyo is dead, bury me in the temple yard of Master Darling. I will be
glad to wait in the grave for my Master Darling."

So Kiyo's grave is in the Yogen temple at Kobinata.

--(THE END)--

[A: Insitent]
[B: queershaped]
[C: The original just had the Japanese character, Unicode U+5927, sans
    description]
[D: aweinspiring]
[E: about about]
[F: atomosphere]
[G: Helloo]
[H: you go]
[I: goo-goo eyes]
[J: proper hyphenation unknown]
[K: pin-princking]
[L: Procupine]
[M: celabration]
[N: wans't]
[O: paper.]
[P: girl shead]
[Q: stumblieg]
[R: Rad]





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