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Title: Miss Numè of Japan - A Japanese-American Romance
Author: Eaton, Winnifred
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Miss Numè of Japan - A Japanese-American Romance" ***

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MISS NUMÈ OF JAPAN.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: ONOTO WATANNA.]



MISS NUMÈ OF JAPAN

A Japanese-American Romance

BY
ONOTO WATANNA

AUTHOR OF "NATSU-SAN," "YURI-SAN AND OKIKU-SAN,"
"A HALF CASTE," ETC.

[Illustration: Decoration]

CHICAGO AND NEW YORK:
RAND, McNALLY & COMPANY.
PUBLISHERS.


Copyright, 1899, by Rand, McNally & Co.


THIS BOOK

IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED TO MY FRIEND,

HELEN M. BOWEN

BECAUSE I LOVE HER SO



INTRODUCTION.


The fate of an introduction to a book seems not only to fall short of
its purpose, but to offend those whose habit it is to criticise before
they read. Once I heard an old man say, "It is dangerous to write for
the wise. They strike warm hands with form, but shrug a cold shoulder at
originality." I do not think, though, that this book was written for the
"wise," for the men and women whose frosty judgment would freeze the
warm current of a free and almost careless soul. It was written for the
imaginative, and they alone are the true lovers of story and song. Onoto
Watanna plays upon an instrument new to our ears, quaintly Japanese, an
air at times simple and sweet, as tender as the chirrup of a bird in
love, and then as wild as the scream of a hawk. Mood has been her
teacher; impulse has dictated her style. She has inherited the spirit of
the orchard in bloom. Her art is the grace of the wild vine, under no
obligation to a gardener, but with a charm that the gardener could not
impart. A monogram wrought by nature's accident upon the golden leaf of
autumn, does not belong to the world of letters, but it inspires more
feeling and more poetry than a library squeezed out of man's tired
brain. And this book is not unlike an autumn leaf blown from a forest in
Japan.

OPIE READ.

CHICAGO, January, 1899.



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER.                                     PAGE.
      I--Parental Ambitions,                     5

     II--Cleo,                                  10

    III--Who Can Analyze a Coquette?            15

     IV--The Dance on Deck,                     20

      V--Her Gentle Enemy,                      24

     VI--A Veiled Hint,                         27

    VII--Jealousy Without Love,                 30

   VIII--The Man She Did Love,                  37

     IX--Merely a Woman,                        43

      X--Watching the Night,                    47

     XI--At the Journey's End,                  52

    XII--Those Queer Japanese!                  54

   XIII--Takashima's Home-Coming,               59

    XIV--After Eight Years,                     60

     XV--Numè,                                  64

    XVI--An American Classic,                   68

   XVII--"Still a Child,"                       73

  XVIII--The Meeting,                           76

    XIX--Confidences,                           79

     XX--Sinclair's Indifference,               83

    XXI--"Me? I Lig' You,"                      86

   XXII--Advice,                                92

  XXIII--Afraid to Answer,                      95

   XXIV--Visiting the Tea Houses,               99

    XXV--Shattered Hopes,                      104

   XXVI--Conscience,                           108

  XXVII--Confession,                           110

 XXVIII--Japanese Pride,                       115

   XXIX--Seclusion,                            117

    XXX--Feminine Diplomacy,                   121

   XXXI--A Barbarian Dinner,                   124

  XXXII--The Philosophy of Love,               126

 XXXIII--What Can that "Luf" Be?               130

  XXXIV--Conspirators,                         133

   XXXV--A Respite for Sinclair,               136

  XXXVI--Those Bad Jinrikisha Men,             139

 XXXVII--Those Good Jinrikisha Men,            141

XXXVIII--Disproving a Proverb,                 144

  XXXIX--Love!                                 148

     XL--A Passionate Declaration,             152

    XLI--A Hard Subject to Handle,             156

   XLII--A Story,                              160

  XLIII--The Truth of the Proverb,             163

   XLIV--Numè Breaks Down,                     167

    XLV--Trying to Forget,                     171

   XLVI--An Observant Husband,                 173

  XLVII--Matsushima Bay,                       176

 XLVIII--A Rejected Lover,                     180

   XLIX--The Answer,                           184

      L--The Ball,                             187

     LI--The Fearful News,                     190

    LII--The Tragedy,                          192

   LIII--A Little Heroine,                     194

    LIV--Sinclair Learns the Truth at Last,    198

     LV--Lovers Again,                         202

    LVI--The Penalty,                          206

   LVII--The Pity of It All,                   211

  LVIII--Mrs. Davis's Nerves,                  214

    LIX--Cleo and Numè,                        217



ILLUSTRATIONS.

TITLE.                                    PAGE.
ONOTO WATANNA,                     Frontispiece

NUMÈ-SAN,                                    29

KOTO, KIRISHIMA, AND MATSU,                 101

PLAYING KARUTTA,                            117

"NUMÈ BREAKS DOWN,"                         165

KOTO WOULD NOT MARRY,                       181

SITTING TOGETHER HAND IN HAND,              197

NUMÈ AND HER TWO FRIENDS KOTO AND MATSU,    205



Miss Numè of Japan.

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER I.

PARENTAL AMBITIONS.


When Orito, son of Takashima Sachi, was but ten years of age, and Numè,
daughter of Watanabe Omi, a tiny girl of three, their fathers talked
quite seriously of betrothing them to each other, for they had been
great friends for many years, and it was the dearest wish of their lives
to see their children united in marriage. They were very wealthy men,
and the father of Orito was ambitious that his son should have an
unusually good education, so that when Orito was seventeen years of age,
he had left the public school of Tokyo and was attending the Imperial
University. About this time, and when Orito was at home on a vacation,
there came to the little town where they lived, and which was only a
very short distance from Tokyo, certain foreigners from the West, who
rented land from Sachi and became neighbors to him and to Omi.

Sachi had always taken a great deal of interest in these foreigners,
many of whom he had met quite often while on business in Tokyo, and he
was very much pleased with his new tenants, who, in spite of their
barbarous manners and dress, seemed good-natured and friendly. Often in
the evening he and Omi would walk through the valley to their neighbors'
house, and listen to them very attentively while they told them of their
home in America, which they said was the greatest country in the world.
After a time the strange men went away, though neither Sachi nor Omi
forgot them, and very often they talked of them and of their foreign
home. One day Sachi said very seriously to his friend:

"Omi, these strangers told us much of their strange land, and talked of
the fine schools there, where all manner of learning is taught. What say
you that I do send my unworthy son, Orito, to this America, so that he
may see much of the world, and also become a great scholar, and later
return to crave thy noble daughter in marriage?"

Omi was fairly delighted with this proposal, and the two friends talked
and planned, and then sent for the lad.

Orito was a youth of extreme beauty. He was tall and slender; his face
was pale and oval, with features as fine and delicate as a girl's. His
was not merely a beautiful face; there was something else in it, a
certain impassive look that rendered it almost startling in its
wonderful inscrutableness. It was not expressionless, but
unreadable--the face of one with the noble blood of the Kazoku and
Samourai--pale, refined, and emotionless.

He bowed low and courteously when he entered, and said a few words of
gentle greeting to Omi, in a clear, mellow voice that was very pleasing.
Sachi's eyes sparkled with pride as he looked on his son. Unlike Orito,
he was a very impulsive man, and without preparing the boy, he hastened
to tell him at once of their plans for his future. While his father was
speaking Orito's face did not alter from its calm, grave attention,
although he was unusually moved. He only said, "What of Numè, my
father?"

Sachi and Omi beamed on him.

"When you return from this America I will give you Numè as a bride,"
said Omi.

"And when will that be?" asked Orito, in a low voice.

"In eight years, my son, and you shall have all manner of learning
there, which cannot be acquired here in Tokyo or in Kyushu, and the
manner of learning will be different from that taught anywhere in Japan.
You will have a foreign education, as well as what you have learned here
at home. It shall be thorough, and therefore it will take some years.
You must prepare at once, my son; I desire it."

Orito bowed gracefully and thanked his father, declaring it was the
chief desire of his life to obey the will of his parent in all things.

Now Numè was a very peculiar child. Unlike most Japanese maidens, she
was impetuous and wayward. Her mother had died when she was born, and
she had never had any one to guide or direct her, so that she had grown
up in a careless, happy fashion, worshiped by her father's servants,
but depending entirely upon Orito for all her small joys. Orito was her
only companion and friend, and she believed blindly in him. She told him
all her little troubles, and he in turn tried to teach her many things,
for, although their fathers intended to betroth them to each other as
soon as they were old enough, still Numè was only a little girl of ten,
whilst Orito was a tall man-youth of nearly eighteen years. They loved
each other very dearly; Orito loved Numè because she was one day to be
his little wife, and because she was very bright and pretty; whilst Numè
loved big Orito with a pride that was pathetic in its confidence.

That afternoon Numè waited long for Orito to come, but the boy had gone
out across the valley, and was wandering aimlessly among the hills,
trying to make up his mind to go to Numè and tell her that in less than
a week he must leave her, and his beautiful home, for eight long years.
The next day a great storm broke over the little town, and Numè was
unable to go to the school, and because Orito had not come she became
very restless and wandered fretfully about the house. So she complained
bitterly to her father that Orito had not come. Then Omi, forgetting all
else save the great future in store for his prospective son-in-law, told
her of their plans. And Numè listened to him, not as Orito had done,
with quiet, calm face, for hers was stormy and rebellious, and she
sprang to her father's side and caught his hands sharply in her little
ones, crying out passionately:

"No! no! my father, do not send Orito away."

Omi was shocked at this display of unmaidenly conduct, and arose in a
dignified fashion, ordering his daughter to leave him, and Numè crept
out, too stunned to say more. About an hour after that Orito came in,
and discovered her rolled into a very forlorn little heap, with her head
on a cushion, and weeping her eyes out.

"You should not weep, Numè," he said. "You should rather smile, for see,
I will come back a great scholar, and will tell you of all I have
seen--the people I have met--the strange men and women." But at that
Numè pushed him from her, and declared she wanted not to hear of those
barbarians, and flashed her eyes wrathfully at him, whereat Orito
assured her that none of them would be half as beautiful or sweet as his
little Numè--his plum blossom; for the word Numè means plum blossom in
Japanese. Finally Numè promised to be very brave, and the day Orito left
she only wept when no one could see her.

And so Orito sailed for America, and entered a great college called
"Harvard." And little Numè remained in Japan, and because there was no
Orito now to tell her thoughts to, she grew very subdued and quiet, so
that few would have recognized in her the merry, wayward little girl who
had followed Orito around like his very shadow. But Numè never forgot
Orito for one little moment, and when every one else in the house was
sound asleep, she would lie awake thinking of him.



CHAPTER II.

CLEO.


"No use looking over there, my dear. Takie has no heart to break--never
knew a Jap that had, for that matter--cold sort of creatures, most of
them."

The speaker leaned nonchalantly against the guard rail, and looked
half-amusedly at the girl beside him. She raised her head saucily as her
companion addressed her, and the willful little toss to her chin was so
pretty and wicked that the man laughed outright.

"No need for _you_ to answer in words," he said. "That wicked, willful
look of yours bodes ill for the Jap's--er--heart."

"I would like to know him," said the girl, slowly and quite soberly.
"Really, he is very good-looking."

"Oh! yes--I suppose so--for a Japanese," her companion interrupted.

The girl looked at him in undisguised disgust for a moment.

"How ignorant you are, Tom!" she said, impatiently; "as if it makes the
slightest difference _what_ nationality he belongs to. Mighty lot _you_
know about the Japanese."

Tom wilted before this assault, and the girl took advantage to say:
"Now, Tom, I want to know Mr.--a--a--Takashima. _What_ a name! Go, like
the dear good boy you are, and bring him over here."

Tom straightened his shoulders.

"I utterly, completely, and altogether _refuse_ to introduce you, young
lady, to any other man on board this steamer. Why, at the rate you're
going there won't be a heart-whole man on board by the time we reach
Japan."

"But you said Mr. Ta--Takashima--or 'Takie,' as you call him, had no
heart."

"True, but you might create one in him. I have a great deal of
confidence in you, you know."

"Oh! Tom, _don't_ be ridiculous now. Horrid thing! I believe you just
want to be coaxed."

Tom's good-natured, fair face expanded in a broad smile for a moment.
Then he tried to clear it.

"_Always_ disliked to be coaxed," he choked.

"Hem!" The girl looked over into the waters a moment, thinking. Then she
rose up and looked Tom in the face.

"Tom, if you don't I'll go over and speak to him without an
introduction."

"Better try it," said Tom, aggravatingly. "Why, you'd shock him so much
he wouldn't get over it for a year. You don't know these Japs as I do,
my dear--dozens of them at our college--awfully strict on subject of
etiquette, manners, and all that folderol."

"Yes, but I'd tell him it was an American custom."

"Can't fool Takashima, my dear. Been in America eight years now--knows
a thing or two, I guess."

Takashima, the young Japanese, looked over at them, with the unreadable,
quiet gaze peculiar to the better class Japanese. His eyes loitered on
the girl's beautiful face, and he moved a step nearer to them, as a
gentleman in passing stood in front, and for a moment hid them from him.

"He is looking at us now," said the girl, innocently.

Tom stared at her round-eyed for a moment.

"How on earth do you know that? Your head is turned right from him."

Again the saucy little toss of the chin was all the girl's answer.

"He's right near us now. Tom, please, please--now's your chance," she
added, after a minute.

The Japanese had come quite close to them. He was still looking at the
girl's face, as though thoroughly fascinated with its beauty. A sudden
wind came up from the sea and caught the red cape she wore, blowing it
wildly about her. It shook the rich gold of her hair in wondrous soft
shiny waves about her face, as she tried vainly to hold the little cap
on her head. It was a sudden wild wind, such as one often encounters at
sea, lasting only for a moment, but in that moment almost lifting one
from the deck. The girl, who had been clinging breathlessly to the
railing, turned toward Takashima, her cheeks aflame with excitement, and
as the violent gust subsided, they smiled in each other's faces.

Tom relented.

"Hallo! Takie--you there?" he said, cordially. "Thought you'd be laid
up. You're a pretty good sailor, I see." Then he turned to the girl and
said very solemnly and as if they had never even discussed the subject
of an introduction, "Cleo, this is my old college friend, Mr.
Takashima--Takie, my cousin, Miss Ballard."

"Will you tell me why," said the young Japanese, very seriously, "you
did not want that I should know your cousin?"

"Don't mind Tom," the girl answered, with embarrassment, as that
gentleman threw away his cigar deliberately; and she saw by his face
that he intended saying something that would mislead Takashima, for he
had often told her of the direct, serious and strange questions the
Japanese would ask, and how he was in the habit of leading him off the
track, just for the fun of the thing, and because Takashima took
everything so seriously.

"Why--a--" said Tom, "the truth of the matter is--my cousin is a--a
flirt!"

"Tom!" said the girl, with flaming cheeks.

"A flirt!" repeated the Japanese, half-musingly. "Ah! I do not like a
flirt--that is not a nice word," he added, gently.

"Tom is just teasing me," she said; and added, "But how did you know Tom
did not want you to know me?"

"I heard you tell him that you want to know me, and I puzzle much myself
why he did not want."

"I was sorry for you in advance, Takie," said Tom, wickedly, and then
seeing by the girl's face that she was getting seriously offended, he
added: "Well, the truth is--er--Cleo--is--a so--young, don't you know.
One can't introduce their female relatives to many of their male
friends. You understand. That's how you put it to me once."

"Yes!" said Takashima, "I remember that I tell you of that. Then I am
most flattered to know your relative."

As Tom moved off and left them together, feeling afraid to trust himself
for fear he would make things worse, he heard the gentle voice of the
Japanese saying very softly to the girl:

"I am most glad that you do not flirt. I do not like that word. Is it
American?"

Tom chuckled to himself, and shook his fist, in mock threat, at Cleo.



CHAPTER III.

WHO CAN ANALYZE A COQUETTE?


Cleo Ballard was a coquette; such an alluring, bright, sweet, dangerous
coquette. She could not have counted her adorers, because they would
have included every one who knew her. Such a gay, happy girl as she was;
always looking about her for happiness, and finding it only in the
admiration and adoration of her victims; for they _were_ victims, after
all, because, though they were generally willing to adore in the
beginning, she nevertheless crushed their hopes in the end; for that is
the nature of coquettes. Hers was a strange, paradoxical nature. She
would put herself out, perhaps go miles out of her way, for the sake of
a new adorer, one whose heart she knew she would storm, and then perhaps
break. She would do this gayly, thoughtlessly, as unscrupulously and
impetuously as she tore the little silk gloves from her hands because
they came not off easily. And yet, in spite of this, it broke her heart
(and, after all, she had a heart) to see the meanest, the most
insignificant of creatures in pain or trouble. With a laugh she pulled
the heart-strings till they ached with pain and pleasure commingled; but
when the poor heart burst with the tension, then she would run shivering
away, and hide herself, because so long as she did not see the pain she
did not feel it. Who can analyze a coquette?

Then, too, she was very beautiful, as all coquettes are. She had
sun-kissed, golden-brown hair,--dark brown at night and in the shadow,
bright gold in the daytime and in the light. Her eyes were dark blue,
sombre, gentle eyes at times, wicked, mischievous, mocking eyes at
others. Of the rest of her face, you do not need to know, for when one
is young and has wonderful eyes, shiny, wavy hair and even features, be
sure that one is very beautiful.

Cleo Ballard _was_ beautiful, with the charming, versatile, changeable,
wholly fascinating beauty of an American girl--an American beauty.

And now she had a new admirer, perhaps a new--lover. He was so different
from the rest. It had been an easy matter for her to play with and turn
off her many American adorers, because most of them went into the game
of hearts with their eyes open, and knew from the first that the girl
was but playing with them. But how was she to treat one who believed
every word she said, whether uttered gayly or otherwise, and who, in his
gentle, undisguised way, did not attempt, even from the beginning, to
hide from her the fact that he admired her so intensely?

Ever since the day Tom Ballard had introduced Takashima to her, he had
been with her almost constantly. Among all the men, young and old, who
paid her court on the steamer, she openly favored the Japanese. Most
Japanese have their full share of conceit. Takashima was not lacking in
this. It was pleasant for him to be singled out each day as the one the
beautiful American girl preferred to have by her. It pleased him that
she did not laugh or joke so much when with him, but often became even
as serious as he, and he even enjoyed hearing her snub some of her
admirers for his sake.

"Cleo," Tom Ballard said to her one day, as the Japanese left her side
for a moment, "have mercy on Takashima; spare him, as thou wouldst be
spared."

She flushed a trifle at the bantering words, and looked out across the
sea.

"Why, Tom! he understands. Didn't you say he had lived eight years in
America?"

Tom sighed. "Woman! woman! incorrigible, unanswerable creature!"

After a time Cleo said, almost pleadingly, as if she were trying to
defend herself against some accusation:

"Really, Tom, he _is_ so nice. I can't help myself. You haven't the
slightest idea how it feels to have any one--any one like that--on the
verge of being in love with you."

Takashima returned to them, and took his seat by the girl's side.

"To-night," he told her, "they are going to dance on deck. The band will
play a concert for us."

Cleo smiled whimsically at his broken English, for, in spite of his long
residence in America, he still tripped in his speech.

"Do you dance?" she asked, curiously.

"No! I like better to watch with you."

"But I dance," she put in, hastily.

Takashima's face fell. He looked at her so dejectedly that she laughed.
"Life is so serious to you, is it not, Mr. Takashima? Every little thing
is of moment."

He gravely agreed with her, looking almost surprised that she should
consider this strange.

"We are always taught," he said, gently, "that it is the little things
of life which produce the big; that without the little we may not have
the big. So, therefore, we Japanese measure even the smallest of things
just as we do the large things."

Cleo repeated this speech later to Tom, and an Englishman who had been
paying her a good deal of attention. They both laughed, but she felt
somewhat ashamed of herself for repeating it.

"I suppose, then, you will not dance," said the Englishman. Cleo did not
specially like him. She intended fully to dance, that night, but a
contrary spirit made her reply, "No; I guess I will not."

She glanced over to where the young Japanese sat, a little apart from
the others. His cap was pulled over his eyes, but the girl felt he had
been watching her. She recrossed the deck and sat down beside him.

"Will you be glad," she asked him, "when we reach Japan?"

A shadow flitted for a moment across his face before he replied.

"Yes, Miss Ballard, most glad. My country is very beautiful, and I wish
very much to see my home and my relations again."

"You do not look like most Japanese I have met," she said, slowly,
studying his face with interest. "Your eyes are larger and your features
more regular."

"That is very polite that you say," he said.

The girl laughed. "No! I didn't say it for politeness," she protested,
"but because it is true. You are really very fine looking, as Tom would
say;" she halted shyly for a moment, and then added, "for--for a
Japanese."

Takashima smiled. "Some of the Japanese do not have very small eyes.
Very few of the Kazoku class have them. That it is more pretty to have
them large we do not say in Japan."

"Then," said the girl, mischievously, "you are not handsome in Japan."

This time Takashima laughed outright.

"I will try and be modest," he said. "Therefore, I will let _you_ be the
judge when we arrive there. If you think I am, as you say, handsome,
then shall I surely be."



CHAPTER IV.

THE DANCE ON DECK.


That evening the decks presented a gala appearance. On every available
place, swung clear across the deck, were Japanese and Chinese lanterns
and flags of every nation. The band commenced playing even while they
were yet at dinner, and the strains of music floated into the
dining-room, acting as an appetizer to the passengers, and giving them
anticipation of the pleasant evening in store. About seven o'clock the
guests, dressed in evening costume, began to stroll on deck, and as the
darkness slowly chased away the light, the pat of dainty feet mingled
with the strains of music, the sough of the sea and the sigh of the
wind. Lighted solely by the moon and the swinging lanterns, the scene on
deck was as beautiful as a fairyland picture.

Cleo Ballard was not dancing. She was sitting back in a sheltered corner
with Takashima. Her eyes often wandered to the gay dancers, and her
little feet at times could scarcely keep still. Yet it was of her own
free will that she was not dancing. When she had first come on deck she
was soon surrounded with eager young men ready to be her partners in the
dance. The girl had stood laughingly in their midst, answering this one
with saucy wit and repartee, snubbing that one (when he deserved it),
and looking nameless things at others. And as she stood there laughing
and talking gayly, a girl had passed by her and made some light remark.
She did not catch the words. A few moments after she saw the same girl
sitting alone with Takashima, and there was a curiously stubborn look
about Cleo's eyes when she turned them away.

"Don't bother me, boys," she said. "I don't believe I want to dance just
yet. Perhaps later, when it gets dark. I believe I'll sit down for a
while anyhow."

She found her way to where Takashima and Miss Morton were sitting. Miss
Morton was talking very vivaciously, and the Japanese was answering
absently. As Cleo came behind him and rested her hand for a moment on
the back of his deck-chair, he started.

"Ah, is it you?" he said, softly. "Did you not say that you would
dance?"

"It is a little early yet," the girl answered. "See, the sun has not
gone down yet. Let us watch it."

They drew their deck-chairs quite close to the guard-rail, and watched
the dying sunset.

"It is the most beautiful thing on earth," said Cleo Ballard, and she
sighed vaguely.

The Japanese turned and looked at her in the semi-darkness.

"Nay! _you_ are more beautiful," he said, and his face was eloquent in
its earnestness. The girl turned her head away.

"Tell me about the women in Japan," she said, changing the subject.
"Are not they very beautiful?"

Takashima's thoughtful face looked out across the ocean waste. "Yes," he
said slowly; "I have always thought so. Still, none of them is as
beautiful as you are--or--or--as kind," he added, hesitatingly.

The man's homage intoxicated Cleo. She knew all the men worth knowing on
board--had known many of them in America. She had tired, bored herself,
flirting with them. It was a refreshment to her now to wake the
admiration--the sentiment--of this young Japanese, because they had told
her he always concealed his emotions so skillfully. Not for a moment did
she, even to herself, admit that it was more than a mere passing fancy
she had for him. She could not help it that he admired her, she told
herself, and admiration and homage were to her what the sun and rain is
to the flowers. That Takashima could never really be anything to her she
knew full well; and yet, with a woman's perversity, she was jealous even
at the thought that any other woman should have the smallest thought
from him. It is strange, but true, that a woman often demands the entire
homage and love of a man she does not herself actually love, and only
because of the fact that he does love her. She resents even the smallest
wavering of his allegiance to her, even though she herself be impossible
for him. It was because she fancied she saw a rival in Miss Morton that
for a moment she became possessed of a wish to monopolize him entirely,
so long as she would be with him.

When Miss Morton, who soon perceived that she was not wanted, made a
slight apology for leaving them, Cleo turned and said, very sweetly:
"Please don't mention it."



CHAPTER V.

HER GENTLE ENEMY.


Enemies are often easier made than friends. Fanny Morton was not an
agreeable enemy to have. She was one of those women who were constantly
on the look-out for objects of interest. She was interested in
Takashima, as was nearly every one who met him. In the first place,
Takashima was a desirable person to know; a graduate of Harvard
University, of irreproachable manners, and high breeding, wealthy,
cultured, and even good-looking. Moreover, the innate goodness and
purity of the young man's character were reflected in his face. In fact,
he was a most desirable person to know for those who were bound for the
Land of Sunrise. That he could secure them the entrée to all desirable
places in Japan, they knew. For this reason if for no other Takashima
was popular, but it was more on account of the genuineness of the young
man, and his gentle courtesy to every one, that the passengers sought
him out and made much of him on the steamer. And it was partly because
he was so popular that Cleo Ballard, with the usual vanity of woman,
found him doubly interesting. In his gentle way he had retained all of
them as his friends, in spite of the fact that he had attached himself
almost entirely to Miss Ballard. On the other hand, the girl had
suffered a good deal from the malicious jealousy of some of the women
passengers, who made her a target for all their spite and spleen. But
she enjoyed it rather than otherwise.

"Most people do not like me as well as you do, Mr. Takashima," she said
once. He had looked puzzled a moment, and she had added, "That is
because I don't like everybody. You ought to feel flattered that I like
you."

Fanny Morton could not forgive Cleo the half-cut of the evening of the
hop. A few days afterwards she said to a group of women as they lay back
in their deck-chairs, languidly watching the restless waves, "I wonder
what Cleo Ballard's little game is with young Takashima?"

She had told them of the conversation on deck, of the young Japanese's
peculiar familiarity and homage in addressing her, and of the flowery,
though earnest, compliments he had paid her.

"She must be in love with him," one of the party volunteered.

"No, she is not," contradicted an old acquaintance of Cleo's, "because
Cleo could not be in love with any one. The girl never had any heart."

"I thought she was engaged to Arthur Sinclair, and was going out to join
him in Tokyo," put in an anxious-looking little woman who had spent
almost the entire voyage on her back, being troubled with a fresh
convulsion of seasickness every time the sea got the least bit rough. It
is wonderful what a lot of information is often to be got out of one of
these invalids. During the greater part of the voyage they merely
listen to all about them, and, as a rule, the rest are inclined to
regard them as so many dummies. Then, toward the close of the voyage,
they will surprise you with their knowledge on a question that has never
been settled.

"That _is_ news," said Cleo's old acquaintance, sitting up in her chair,
and regarding the little woman with undisguised amazement. "Who told
you, my dear?"

"I thought I heard her discussing it with her cousin the other day," the
woman answered, with visible pleasure that she was now an object of
interest.

"My dear," repeated the old acquaintance once more, settling her ample
form in the canvas chair, "really, I must have been stupid not to have
guessed this. Why, of course, I understand now. That was what all that
finery meant in Washington, I suppose. That is why her mother has been
so mysteriously uneasy about Cleo's--and I must say it now--outrageous
flirtation with the Japanese. Every time she has been able to come on
deck--and, poor thing, it has not been often through the voyage so
far--she has called Cleo away from Mr. Takashima, and I've even heard
her reprove her, and remonstrate with her. Well! well!"

Fanny Morton was smiling as she stole away from the party.



CHAPTER VI.

A VEILED HINT.


Always, after dinner, the young Japanese would come on deck, having
generally finished his meal before most of the others, and rarely
sitting through the eight or ten courses. Like the rest of his
countrymen, he was a passionate lover of nature. Sunsets are more
beautiful at sea, when they kiss and mirror their wonderful beauty in
the ocean, than anywhere else, perhaps.

Fannie Morton found him in his favorite seat--back against a small
alcove, his small, daintily manicured fingers resting on the back of a
chair in front of him.

She pulled a chair along the deck, and sat down beside him.

"You are selfish, Mr. Takashima," she said, "to enjoy the sunset all
alone."

"Will you not enjoy it also?" he asked, quite gravely. "I like much
better, though," he continued, seeing that she had come up more to talk
than to enjoy the sunset, "to look at the skies and the water rather
than to talk. It is most strange, but one does not care to talk as much
at sea as on land when the evenings advance."

"And yet," Miss Morton said, "I have often heard Miss Ballard's voice
conversing with you in the evening."

The Japanese was silent a moment. Then he said, very simply and
honestly, "Ah, yes, but I would rather hear her voice than all else on
earth. She is different to me."

The girl reddened a trifle impatiently.

"Most men love flirts," she said, sharply.

The Japanese smiled quietly, confidently.

"Yes, perhaps," he said, vaguely, purposely misleading her.

Tom Ballard's hearty voice broke in on them.

"Well," he said, cheerfully, "thought I'd find Cleo with you, Takie,"
and then, smiling gallantly at Miss Morton, "but really, I see you've
got 'metal more attractive.'" He winked, and continued, "Cousins are
privileged beings. Can say lots of things no one else dare."

Fanny Morton's face brightened. She was a pretty girl, with pale brown
hair, and a bright, sharp face.

"Oh, now, Mr. Ballard, you are flattering. What would Miss Cleo say?"

Tom scratched his head. "She would prove, I dare say, that I
was--a--lying."

The play on words had been entirely lost on Takashima, who had become
absorbed in his own reveries. Then Miss Morton's sharp words caught his
ear, and he turned to hear what she was saying. She had mentioned the
name of an old American friend of his, who had gone to Japan some years
before.

"I suppose," Miss Morton had said, "she will be pretty glad when the
voyage is over." She had paused here, and Tom had prompted her with a
quick query, "Why?"

"Oh! for Arthur Sinclair's sake," she had retorted, and laughingly left
them.

Casually, Tom turned to Takashima. "Remember Sinclair, Takie? Great big
fellow at Harvard--in for all the races--rowing--everything going--in
fact, all-round fine fellow?"

"Yes."

"Nice--fellow."

"Yes."

"Er--Cleo--that is, both Cleo and I, are old friends of his, you know."

Takashima's face was still enigmatical.

Cleo had had a headache that evening, and had returned to her stateroom
after dinner. The water was rough, and few of the passengers remained on
deck. Quite late in the evening, Tom went up. The sombre, silent figure
of the Japanese was still there. He had not moved.

"Past eleven," Tom called out to him, and the gently modulated voice of
the Japanese answered, "Yes; I will retire soon."



CHAPTER VII.

JEALOUSY WITHOUT LOVE.


The next day Cleo rallied Takashima because he was unusually quiet, and
asked him the cause. He turned and looked at her very directly.

"Will you tell me, Miss Ballard," he said, "why Mr. Sinclair will be so
overjoyed that you come to Japan?"

The abrupt question startled the girl. She flushed a violent, almost
angry red, and for a moment did not reply. Then she recovered herself
and said: "He is a very dear friend of ours."

The Japanese looked thoughtfully at her. There was an embarrassed flush
on her face. Again he questioned her very directly, still with his eyes
on her face.

"Tell me, Miss Ballard, also, do you flirt only with me?"

Cleo's face was averted a moment. With an effort she turned toward him,
a light answer on the tip of her tongue. Something in the earnest,
questioning gaze of the young man held her a moment and changed her gay
answer. Her voice was very low:

"No," she said. "Please don't believe that of me."

She understood that some one had been trying to poison him against her.
Her eyes were dewy--with self-pity, perhaps, for at that moment the
coquette in her was subdued, and the natural liking, almost sentiment,
she had for Takashima was paramount. A silence fell between them.
Takashima broke it after a while to say, very gently: "Will you forgive
me, Miss Ballard?"

"There is nothing to forgive."

"Ah! yes," said Takashima, sadly, "because I have misjudged you so?" His
voice was raised in a half-question. The girl's eyes were suffused.

"Let us not talk of it any more," he continued, noticing her distress
and embarrassment. "I will draw your chair back here and we will talk.
What will we talk of? Of America--of Japan? Of you--and of myself?"

"My life has been uninteresting," she said; "let us not talk of it
to-night,--but tell me about yours instead. You must have some very
pretty remembrances of Japan. Eight years is not such a long time, after
all."

"No; that is true, and yet one may become almost a different being
during that time." He paused thoughtfully. "Still, I have many beautiful
remembrances of my home--all my memories, in fact, are sweet of it."
Again he paused to think, and continued slowly: "I will also have
beautiful memories of America."

"Yes, but they will be different," said the girl, "for, of course,
America is not your home."

"One often, though, becomes homesick--let us call it--for a country
which is not our own, but where we have sojourned for a time," he
rejoined, quickly.

"Then, if Japan is as beautiful as they say it is, I will doubtless be
longing for it when I return to America."

A flush stole to the young man's eager face.

"Ah! Miss Ballard, perhaps if you will say that when you have lived
there a while, I might find courage to say that which I cannot say now.
I would wish first of all to know how you like my home."

The girl put her hands at the back of her head, and leaned back in the
deck-chair with a sudden nervous movement.

"Let us wait till then," she said, hastily. "Tell me now, instead, what
is your most beautiful memory of Japan?"

"My pleasantest memory," he said, "is of a little girl named Numè. She
was only ten years old when I left home, but she was bright and
beautiful as the wild birds that fly across the valleys and make their
home close by where we lived."

[Illustration: NUMÈ-SAN.  PAGE 32.]

A flush had risen to the girl's face. She stirred nervously, and there
was a slight faltering in her speech as she said: "Tom once told me of
her--he said you had told him--that you had told him--you were betrothed
to her."

She had expected him to look abashed for a moment, but his face was as
calm as ever.

"I will not know that till I am home. My plans are unformed." He looked
in her face. "They depend a great deal on _you_," he continued.

For a moment the girl's lips half-parted to tell him of her own
betrothal, but she could not summon the courage to do so while he looked
at her with such confidence and trust; besides, her woman's vanity was
touched.

"Tell me about Numè," she said, and there was the least touch of pique
in her voice.

"Her father and mine are neighbors, and very dear friends. I have known
her all my life. When she was a little girl I used to carry her on my
shoulders over brooks and through the woods and mountain passes, because
she was so little, and I was always afraid she would fall and hurt
herself."

Cleo was silent now. She scarcely stirred while the young man was
speaking, but listened to him with strange interest. Takashima
continued: "I used to tell her I would some day be her Otto (husband),
and because she was so very fond of me that pleased her very much, and
when I said so to our fathers, it pleased them also."

The girl was nervously twisting her little handkerchief into odd knots.
She was not looking at Takashima.

"How queer," she said, "that our childhood memories are sometimes so
clear to us! We so often look back on them and think how--how absurd we
were then. Don't you think there is really more in the past to regret
than anything else?"

Takashima looked at her in surprise.

"No," he said; almost shortly, "I have nothing to regret."

"And yet," she persisted, "neither of you was old enough to--to care
for the other truly." Her words were irrelevant, and she knew it.

"We were inseparable always," the young man answered. "We were children,
both of us, but in Japan very often we are always children--always young
in heart."

Cleo could not have told why she felt the sudden overwhelming rebellion
against his allegiance to Numè, even though she knew only too well that
Takashima's heart was safe in her own keeping. With a woman's perversity
and delight in being constantly assured of his love for her in various
ways, in dwelling on it to feed her vanity, and yes, in wishing to hear
the man who loved her disclaim--even ridicule--one whom in the past he
might have cared for, she said:

"Do you _love_ her?"

"Love?" the Japanese repeated, dwelling softly on the word. "That is not
the word now, Miss Ballard. I have only known its meaning since I have
met you," he added, gently.

The girl's heart beat with a pleasurable wildness. It was sweet to hear
these words from the lips of one who hesitated always so deferentially
from speaking his feelings; from one who a moment before had filled her
with a fear that, after all, another might interest him just as she had
done; for coquettes are essentially selfish.

"You will not marry her?" she questioned, in a low voice.

She could not restrain the almost pleading tone that crept into her
voice; for though she kept telling herself that they could never be
anything to each other, and that she already loved another, yet, after
all, was she so sure of her heart? The Japanese was silent. "That will
depend," he said, slowly. "It is the wish of our fathers. They have
always looked forward to it." His voice was very sad as he added:
"Perhaps I should grow to love her. Surely, I would try, at least, to do
my duty to my parents."

With a sudden effort the girl rose to her feet.

"It would be a cruel thing to do," she said, "cruel for her and for you.
It would be fair to no one. You do not love; therefore, you should not
marry her." Her beautiful eyes challenged him. A wild hope crept into
the Japanese's heart that the girl must surely return his feeling for
her, or she would not speak so. He was Americanized, and man of the
world enough, to understand somewhat of these things. He purposely
misled her, taking pleasure in the girl's evident resentment at his
marriage with Numè.

"I would never marry a man I did not love," she continued. "No! I would
have to love him with my whole heart."

"It is different in Japan," he said, quietly. "There we do not always
marry for love, but rather to please the parents. We try always to love
after marriage--and often we succeed."

"Your customs are--are--barbarous, then," Cleo said, defiantly. "We in
America could not understand them."

There was a vague reproach now in her voice. The Japanese had risen
also. He was smiling, as he looked at the girl. Perhaps she felt
unconsciously the tenderness of that look, for she turned her own head
away persistently.

"Miss Ballard," he said, softly,--"Miss Cleo--I do not disagree with
you, after all, as you think. It is true, as you say--there should be no
marriage without love."

"And yet you are willing to follow the ancient customs of your country,"
she said, half-pettishly--almost scornfully.

"I did not say that," he said, smiling.

"Yes, but you make one believe it," she said.

"I did not mean to. I wanted only that you should believe that it might
be so for my father's sake, if--if the one I did love was--impossible to
me." There was a piercing passion in his voice that she had not thought
him capable of.

One of those inexplicable, sudden waves of gentleness and tenderness
that sometimes sweep over a woman, came over her. She turned and faced
Takashima with a look on her face that would have made the coldest
lover's heart throb with delight and hope.

"You must be always sure--always sure she is--she is impossible."

She was appalled at her own words as soon as they were uttered.

The Japanese had taken a step nearer to her. He half held his hands out.

"I am going below," she said, with sudden fright, "I--I--indeed, I don't
know what I'm talking about."



CHAPTER VIII.

THE MAN SHE DID LOVE.


When she reached her stateroom, she threw herself on the couch, being
overcome by a sudden weakness. She could not understand nor recognize
herself. It was impossible that she was in love with Takashima, for she
already loved another; and yet she could not understand why she should
feel so keenly about Takashima, nor why it hurt her,--the idea of his
caring for any one else. Was it merely the selfishness and vanity of a
coquette? Cleo could scarcely remember a time, since she was old enough
to understand that man was woman's natural plaything, that she had not
thoughtlessly and gayly coquetted, flirted and led on all the men who
had dared to fall in love with her. There was so seldom a real pang with
her, because she had seldom permitted any affair to go beyond a certain
length. That is, almost from the beginning she would let them know that
her heart was not touched--that she was merely playing with them,
because she could not help being a flirt. Then Arthur Sinclair had come
into her life. As she thought of him a wonderful tenderness stole over
her face, a tenderness that Takashima had never been able to call there.

It had been a case of love on her side almost from the first night they
had met. But with the man it was different; and perhaps it was because
of the fact that he at first had been almost indifferent to her, that
the girl who had wearied of the over-attention of the other men, who had
loved her unquestioningly, and whose love had been such an easy thing to
win, specially picked him out as the one man to whom she could give her
heart. How often it happens that she who has been loved and courted by
every one, should actually love the only one who perhaps had been almost
indifferent to her! True, Sinclair had paid her a good deal of attention
from the beginning, but it was because he admired her solely on account
of her beautiful face, and because she was popular everywhere with every
one, and it touched his vanity that she should single him out.

Later, the girl's wonderful charm had grown on him; and one night when
they stood on the conservatory balcony of her home, when the moon's
kindly rays touched her head and lighted her face with an almost wild
beauty, when the perfume of the roses in her breast and hair had stolen
into his senses, and the great speaking eyes told the story of her
heart, Sinclair had told her he loved her. He had told her so with a
wild passion; had told her so at a time when, a moment before, he had
not himself known it. That she was wonderfully beautiful he had always
known, but he had thought himself proof against her. He was not. It came
to him that night--the knowledge of an overmastering love for her that
had suddenly possessed him--a love that was so unexpected and violent
in its coming, that half of its passion was spent in that one glorious
first night, when she had answered his passionate declaration solely by
holding her hands out to him, and he had drawn her into his arms.

Sinclair had returned to his rooms that night almost dazed. Did he love
her? he asked himself. A memory came back of the girl's wonderful
beauty, of the love that had reflected itself in her eyes and had
beautified them so. And yet he had seen her often so--she had always
been beautiful, but before that he had been unable to call up anything
more than strong admiration of her beauty. Was it not that he had drank
too much wine that night? No! he seldom did that. It was the girl's
beauty and the knowledge that she loved him that had turned his head; it
was the wine too, perhaps, and the surroundings, the moonlight, the
flowers, their fragrance--everything combined. And then, having thought
confusedly over the whole thing, Arthur Sinclair had risen to his feet
and walked restlessly up and down his room--because he was not sure of
his own heart after all.

Cleo Ballard had known nothing of this struggle he had had with himself.
After that night he had been an ideal lover,--always considerate,
gentle, and tender. The girl's imperious nature had melted under the
great love that had come into her life. She ceased for a time to be a
coquette. Then she was only a loving, tender woman.

It was hardly a month after this that Sinclair was appointed American
Vice-Consul at Kyoto, Japan. He had told Cleo very gently of the
appointment, and they had discussed their future together. It meant
separation for a time, for Sinclair did not urge an early marriage, and
Cleo Ballard was perhaps too proud to want it.

"We will marry," Sinclair had said, "when I am thoroughly established,
when I have something to offer you--when I can afford to keep my wife as
I would like to keep you."

The girl had answered with half-quivering lip: "Neither of us is poor
now, Arthur;" and Sinclair had answered, hastily, "Yes, but I had better
make a place in the world for myself first--get established, you see,
dear. We don't need to hurry. We have lots of time yet."

Cleo had remained silent.

"When I am settled I will send for you to join me, dear," Sinclair had
added, "if you are willing to come."

"Willing!" she had answered, with indignant passion. "Oh, Arthur, I am
willing to go anywhere where you are."

Her mother's illness, soon after this, absorbed Cleo for a time, so that
when Sinclair left her, the date of their marriage still remained
unsettled.

That was three years before. Since then the girl had kept up an almost
constant correspondence with Sinclair. His letters were like him, tender
and loving, almost boyish in their tone of joyousness, for Sinclair
liked his new home and position so much that he wanted to remain there
altogether. He wrote to Cleo, asking if she would not now come to Japan
and judge for them, and if she liked the country they would live there
altogether; if not--they would return to America.

The girl's pride had long been roused in her, and but for her love for
Sinclair she might have given him up long before. But always the
overmastering love she had for him kept her waiting, waiting on for
him--waiting for him to send for her as he had promised he would. It is
true, she had grown used to his absence, and often tried to console
herself with the homage and love given by others, but it could not
be--her heart turned always back to the man she had loved from the
first, and even the little flirtations she indulged in were
half-hearted. Sometimes Sinclair's letters showed a trace of haste and
carelessness, often they were almost cold and perfunctory. At such times
she would plunge into a round of reckless gayety, and try to forget for
the time being her unsatisfied longing and love. And now she was on her
way to join him. The voyage was long, and would have been tedious had it
not been for Takashima. He gave her a new interest. Most of the other
passengers she found uninteresting. Sinclair's last letters, although
speaking of her trip, and seemingly urging her to come, appeared to her,
sometimes, almost forced. The girl's proud, spoiled heart rebelled. It
was with a feeling as much of hunger for sympathy and love, as of
coquetry, that she had started her acquaintance with Takashima, and now
as she lay in the narrow little couch in her room, she was asking her
heart with a sudden fear whether her hunger for love had overpowered
her. She was of a passionate, intense nature. It galled her always that
she was separated from the man she loved,--that she could not at once
have by her the love he had protested he felt for her. She buried her
face in the pillows and sobbed bitterly. With a passionate nervousness,
she thrust his picture away from her, and tried to think, instead, of
Takashima, the gentle young Japanese who now loved her--not as Sinclair
had done, with a passion of a moment that swept her from her feet, but
with deference and respect, and yet with as strong a love as she could
have desired.



CHAPTER IX.

MERELY A WOMAN.


Even a woman in love can put behind her easily, for a time, the image of
the one she at heart loves, when she replaces it with one for whom she
cares (not, perhaps, in the same wild way as for the other, but with a
sentiment that is tantamount to a flickering, wavering love--a love of a
moment, a love awakened by gentle words--and perhaps put away from her
after she has reasoned it out to herself); for it is true that the best
cure for love is to try to love another.

Cleo Ballard was not heartless. She was merely a woman. That is why,
half an hour after she had wept so passionately, she was smiling at her
own beautiful face in the mirror, as she brushed her long wavy hair
before it.

She was thinking of Takashima, and of his love for her, which he could
not summon the courage to tell her of, and which she tried always to
prevent his doing. There was a stubborn, half pettish look on her face
when she thought of his possible love for "the Japanese girl."

"Even if I cannot be anything to him," she told herself, remorselessly,
"still, if he does not love her, I'm doing both a kindness in preventing
his marrying her."

She paused in her toilet, and sat down a moment to think.

"I can't analyze my own feelings," she said, half-fretfully. "I don't
see why I should feel so--so bad at the idea of his--his caring for any
one else. I am not in love with him. That is foolish. A woman cannot be
in love with two men at once."

She smiled. "How strange! I believe it is true, though, and yet--and
yet--if it is so--how differently I care for them!"

She rose again, and commenced twisting her hair up.

"Oh, how provoking it is! I don't believe there are many girls who would
admit it--and yet it is true--that we can love one man and be 'in love'
with another." She pushed the last pin into her hair impatiently. "I
believe if it were not for the fact that he--that he--might really care
for some one else--I'd give him up now, but somehow, as it is--Oh! how
selfish--how mean I am!" She stopped talking to herself, and opening the
door called out to her mother in the next room:

"Mother dear, are you dressing for dinner yet?"

The mother's weak voice answered: "No, dear; I shall not be at the table
to-night."

"Oh, mother, I want you with me to-night," she said, regretfully, going
into her mother's room.

"You want me _with_ you?" said the mother, with mild astonishment. "Why,
my dear, I thought--you usually like being alone--or--or with
Mr.--er--with the Japanese."

"Not to-night, mother--not to-night," she said, and put her head down
on her mother's neck with a half-caress, a habit she had had when a
little girl, and which sometimes returned to her when in a loving mood.

"I don't understand myself to-night, mother," she whispered.

The peevish, nervous tones of the invalid mother repulsed her.

"My dear, _do_ not ruffle my hair so--There! go on to the dining-room
like a good girl. And _do_, dear, be careful. I am so afraid of your
becoming too fond of this--this Japanese. You are always talking about
him now, and Tom says you are inseparable on deck."

The girl raised her head, and rose from her kneeling posture beside her
mother. There was a cold glint in her eyes.

"Really, mother, you need not fear for me," she said, coldly. "Tom only
says things for the sake of hearing himself talk--you ought to know
better than to mind him."

"We are so near Japan now," the mother said, peevishly, "and we have
waited three years. I am not strong enough to stand anything like--like
the breaking of your engagement now. My heart is quite set on Sinclair,
dear--you must not disappoint me."

"Mother--I--," the girl commenced, in a pained voice, but the mother
interrupted her to add, as she settled back in her pillows, "There,
there, my dear, don't fly out at me--I understand--I really can trust
you." There was a touch of tenderness mingled with the pride in the
last hard words: "You always knew how to carry your heart, my dear."

The girl remained silent for a moment, looking bitterly at her mother;
after awhile her face softened a trifle. She leaned over her once more
and kissed the faded face. "Mother, mother--you really are fond of me,
are you not?--let us be kinder to each other."



CHAPTER X.

"WATCHING THE NIGHT."


It was quite a wistful, sad-faced girl who took her seat at the table,
and answered, half absently, the light jests of some of the passengers.

Tom's sharp ears missed her usual merry tone. He glanced keenly at her,
as she sat beside him, eating her dinner in almost absolute silence.

"What's up, Cleo?"

"Nothing, Tom."

"Don't fib, now. You are not in the habit of wearing such a countenance
for nothing."

"I can't help my countenance, Tom," she rejoined, with just a suggestion
of a break in her voice.

Tom looked at her a moment in silence, and then delicately turned his
head away. After dinner he took her arm very affectionately, and they
strolled out on deck together.

Takashima was sitting alone, as they came out. He was waiting for Cleo,
as usual, and had been watching the door of the dining-room expectantly.
Tom drew her off in a different direction from where the Japanese was
sitting. For a short time they walked up and down the deck, neither of
them speaking a word. Then Tom broke the silence, saying carelessly, as
he lit a cigar:

"Mind my smoking, sis?"

"No, Tom," the girl answered, looking at him gratefully. Instinctively
she felt the ready sympathy he always extended to her, often without
even knowing her trouble, and seldom asking for her confidence. When she
was worried or distressed about anything, Tom would take her very firmly
away from every one, and if she had anything to tell she usually told it
to him; for since they had been little girl and boy together Tom had
been the recipient of all her woes. When he was a little boy of twelve,
his father and mother both having died, Cleo's father, his uncle, had
taken him into his family, and the two children had been brought up
together. After the death of his uncle he had stood to the mother and
Cleo as father, brother, and son in one, and they both became very
dependent on him. Once in a while when he was feeling exceptionally
loving to Cleo he would call her "little sis." That night he did so very
lovingly.

"Feeling blue, little sis?" he asked.

"Yes, Tom."

Tom cleared his throat. "Er--er--Takashima?"

"No, Tom--it is not he. It is mother."

Tom stopped in his walk, and made a half-impatient exclamation.

"Oh, Tom, I do want to love her so much--but--but she won't let me. I
mean--she is fond of me, and--and--proud, I suppose, but whenever I try
to get close to her she repulses me in some way. We ought to be a
comfort to each other, but--but there is scarcely any feeling between
us." She caught her breath. "Tom, I don't know what's the matter with
me to-night. I--I--Oh, Tom, I do want a little sympathy so much."

The young man threw his lighted cigar away. He did not answer Cleo, but
he drew her little hand closer through his arm. After a time the girl
quieted down, and her voice had lost its restlessness when she said:
"Dear Tom--you are so good."

They strolled slowly back in the moonlight to where Takashima was
sitting. He was leaning over the railing, watching the dark waves
beneath in their silvery, shimmering splendor, touched by the moon's
rays. He turned as Tom called out to him:

"See a--a whale, Takie?"

"No; I was merely watching the--the night."

Cleo raised her head and smiled at Tom, both of them enjoying the
Japanese's naive way of answering.

"I was watching the night," he repeated, "and thinking of Miss Cleo. We
generally enjoy such sights together."

"Well, to-night I thought I had a lien on her for a change," Tom said.
"Cleo is too popular to be monopolized by one person, you know."

The Japanese smiled--a happy, confident smile. It touched the girl, and
she said, impetuously: "Tom, it always depends on who has the monopoly."

Tom answered with mock sternness: "Very well, madam; I leave you and
Takie to the tender mercies of each other."

"Your cousin likes you very much, does he not?" the Japanese asked her,
as Tom moved away.

"Yes; Tom is the best boy in the world. I don't know what I'd do
without him." She leaned her head against the railing. His next quiet,
meaning words startled her: "Would you wish to marry with him?" She
laughed outright; for she perceived the first touch of jealousy he had
shown in these words.

She lifted her little chin in its old saucy fashion.

"No--not if Tom was the only man in the world. It would be too much like
marrying one's brother."

She smiled at the anxious face of the Japanese. He bent over her chair a
moment, then he drew back and stood against the rail, in a still
indecisive posture. The girl knew instinctively what he wanted to say.
Perhaps it was because she was tired, and her heart was hungry for a
little love, that she did not try to prevent him from speaking.

"This afternoon, Miss Ballard, your words gave me courage. Will you
marry with _me?_" he asked.

The question was so direct she could not evade it. She must face it out
now. Yet she could find no words to answer at first. The effort it had
cost the Japanese to say this had made him constrained, for he had all
the pride of a Japanese gentleman; and after all he was not so sure that
the girl would accept him. He had been told it was customary in America
to speak to the girl herself before speaking to the parents, and it was
in a stiff, ceremonious way that he did so. He waited silently for her
answer.

"Don't let us talk about--about such things," she said; and again there
was that little break in her voice that had been there when Tom had
walked with her. "Our--our friendship has been so delightful," she
added; "don't let us break it just now."

For the first time since she had known him there was a note of sternness
in Takashima's voice.

"Love should not break friendship," he said. "It should rather cement
it."

The wind blew her hair wildly about her face, and in her restlessness it
irritated her. She put her hands up and held back the light, soft curls
that had escaped.

"Shall I speak to your mother?" he asked her.

"No!--No!" she said, quickly; "mother has--has nothing to do with it."

"Will you not tell me what to expect, then?" The sadness of his voice
touched the girl's heart, bringing the tears to her eyes.

"I cannot answer yet. Wait till we get to Japan. Please wait till then."

"I tried to plan ahead," he said, "but you are right, Miss Ballard. You
will want some time to think this over. It will be but five days now
before we reach Japan. If that you are very kind to me in those five
days my heart shall take great hope of what your answer will be."



CHAPTER XI.

AT THE JOURNEY'S END.


Cleo Ballard could not have told what it was that made her so restless,
almost feverish, during those remaining five days. She knew Takashima
had meant to ask her to show in some way, during that time, just what he
might expect. It was almost a prayer to her to spare him, if she knew it
was in vain. But the girl was possessed, during those days, with an
almost feverish longing for his companionship and sympathy. She showed
it constantly when with him; she would look unspeakable longings into
his eyes, longings she could not understand or analyze herself; she led
him on to talk of his plans, and he even told her of some wherein he had
counted on her companionship--how he would have a Japanese-American
house--a home wherein both the beauty of Japan and the comfort of
America would be combined; and of the trips they would take to Europe,
and the friends they would make. He used the word "we" always, in
speaking, and she never once questioned his right to do so. Often she
herself grew so interested in his plans for the future that she made
suggestions, and they laughed with light-hearted joyousness at the
prospect. At the end of the five days Takashima had not even a lingering
doubt left.

As the shores of his home came into view, and the passengers were all
clustered on deck watching the speck of land in the offing grow larger
and larger as they approached it, the young Japanese placed his hand
firmly on Cleo's--so soft and slender--and said: "Soon we will reach
home now--your home and mine."

A sudden vague fear crept into the girl's heart. She shivered as his
hand touched hers, and there was a frightened, almost hunted, look in
her eyes.

"Shall I have my answer now?" he continued.

Again she shivered. "Wait till we are on shore," she pleaded, "till we
have rested; wait five more days--I must think--I--I----"

"Ah, Miss Cleo, yes, I will wait," he said, gently. "Surely, I can
afford to do so. It is after all merely the formal answer I will ask
for. These last days you have already answered me--with your beautiful
eyes."

"Tom," the girl said, desperately, as the passengers were passing from
the boat on to the dock below, and her cousin was tying the heavy straps
around their loose baggage, "Oh, Tom--I am afraid now--I am afraid
of--of Takashima."

Tom's usually sympathetic face was almost stern. He rose stiffly and
looked at the girl remorselessly.

"I warned you, Cleo," he said; "I told you to be careful. You ought to
have answered him directly five days ago, when he spoke to you. You are
the greatest moral coward I know. I believe you could not summon pluck
enough to refuse anybody. Don't know how you ever did. It is a wonder
you are not engaged to a dozen at once."



CHAPTER XII.

THOSE QUEER JAPANESE!


Kyoto is by far the most picturesque city in Japan. It is situated
between two mountains, with a beautiful river flowing through it. It is
connected with Tokyo by rail, but the traveling accommodations are far
from being as comfortable or commodious as in America; in fact, there
are no sleeping-cars whatever, so that it is often matter of complaint
among visitors that they are not as comfortable traveling by rail as
they might be. It was in Kyoto that Sinclair and most of the Americans
who visited Japan lived. Sinclair kept one office in Kyoto and another
in Tokyo, and being inclined to shove most of his light duties on to his
secretary, went back and forth between the two cities; in fact, he had a
house in both places. Tokyo, with its immense population and its air of
business and activity, is yet not so favored by foreigners, nor by the
better class Japanese, as a place of residence as is Kyoto. Indeed, a
great many of them carry on a business in Tokyo and also keep a house in
Kyoto. Most of the merchants of Tokyo, however, prefer to live in one of
the charming little villages a few hours' ride by train from Tokyo, on
the shores of the Hayama, where there is a good view of Fuji-Yama, the
peerless mountain. And it was almost under the shadow of this mountain
that Takashima Orito and Numè had played together as children.

The Ballards took up their residence for the time being in the city of
Tokyo, at an American hotel, where most of the other passengers who had
arrived with them were staying. Arthur Sinclair had failed to meet them
at the boat, though he sent in his place his Japanese secretary, who
looked after their luggage for them, hailed jinrikishas, and saw them
comfortably settled at the hotel, apologizing profusely for the
non-appearance of Sinclair, and explaining that he had gone up to Kyoto
the previous day, and had been delayed on important business.

When they were alone in their rooms the mother sank in a chair,
complaining bitterly that Sinclair had failed to meet them.

"I will never get used to this--this strange place," she said, with her
chronic dissatisfaction. "I won't be able to stay a week here. How could
Arthur Sinclair have acted so outrageously? I shall tell him just how I
feel about it."

"Mother," Cleo turned on her almost fiercely, "you will say nothing to
him. If he had something more important to attend to--if he did not want
to come--we do not want him to put himself out for us--we do not care if
he does not." Her voice reflected her mother's bitterness, however, and
belied her words.

"He was always thoughtful," said Tom, laying his hand consolingly on his
aunt's shoulder. "Come now, Aunt Beth, everything looks comfortable
here--and I'm sure after we once get over the oddity of our
surroundings we will find it quite interesting."

"It _is_ interesting, Tom," said Cleo, from a window, "the streets are
so funny outside. They are narrow as anything, and there are signboards
everywhere."

Mrs. Ballard looked helplessly about the room.

"Tom, _what_ do you suppose they will give us to eat? I have heard such
funny tales about their queer cooking--chicken cooked in molasses,
and--and raw fish--and----"

"Mother," put in the girl, impatiently, "this hotel is on the American
plan. The little bell-boys and servants, of course, are Japanese--but
everything will be as much like what we have at home as they can make
it."

Both the mother and daughter were out of patience with everything and
were tired, the mother being almost hysterical. Tom went over to her and
tried to calm her down, talking in his easy, consoling way on every
subject that would take her mind off Sinclair. After a time Mrs.
Ballard's nervousness had quieted down, and she rested, her maid sitting
beside her fanning her gently, while Tom and Cleo unpacked what luggage
they had had in their staterooms with them, their other trunks not
having arrived. The girl was feeling more cheerful.

"When I go back to America," she said, "I believe I'll take a little
Japanese maid with me. They are so neat and amusing."

Tom looked at her gravely. "I thought you contemplated making your home
here?" he quizzed.

"Perhaps I will," the girl said, saucily, "perhaps I won't. It depends
on whether my mind changes itself."

"Hum!"

"Remember Jenny Davis, Tom?"

"Well, I guess so;--never saw you alone when she was in Washington."

"Well, she brought home with her the sweetest little Japanese maid you
ever saw. She used to be--a--a geesa girl in Tokyo, and the people she
worked for were horrid to her. So Jenny paid them some money and they
let her bring--a--Fuka with her to America. Well, I wish you could have
seen her. She wasn't bigger than that, Tom," measuring with her hand,
"and she was just as cute as anything,--walks on her heels, and smiles
at you even when you are offended with her, Jenny says."

"Where is Mrs. Davis now?" Tom asked. "Thought I heard some one say she
had come back here."

"So she did. She is somewhere in Japan now. Last time I heard from her
she was in Kyoto. I wrote her, care of Arthur though, because she moves
around so much, and I told her we were coming. I half expected she would
meet us." After thinking a moment she added, "Tom, do you know, there
was not a single American to meet us? I think mamma is right (though I
won't tell her so), and that Arthur acted abominably in not meeting us.
It doesn't matter _what_ business he had--he should have left it. He
might at least have sent--a--a friend to meet us, instead of that
smooth Japanese. Mrs. Davis says there is a perfect American colony
here, and in Yokohama and Kyoto--they are scattered everywhere, and
Arthur knows them all, and most of them know we are to be married."

"Sinclair's hands, I guess, are pretty full most of the time. Every
American nearly that comes here pounces onto him. He wrote me once that
he had a different party to dinner nearly every day at the
Consulate--when he is in Kyoto, and I guess that is why the poor chap
likes to run down here where every tourist does not throw himself at
him. Sinclair never was a good--a--business man. Don't believe he has
any idea of the responsibility of his work. Believe he'd just as lief
throw it up, anyhow."

But, though Tom stood up for his friend, even he could not help feeling
in himself that the girl was justly indignant.



CHAPTER XIII.

TAKASHIMA'S HOME-COMING.


Takashima had left the Americans at the dock. He had offered the
Ballards every courtesy, even inviting them to go with him to his home.
This, however, they refused, and as it had been so long since he had
been in Japan he was almost as much a stranger to his surroundings as
they were; so he left them to the care of Sinclair's secretary, feeling
confident that he would show them every attention,--telling them that he
would call on them the next day. He realized that they felt a trifle
strange, and wanted, in his generous, gentle way, to make them feel at
home in Japan. Two old Japanese gentlemen who stood on the dock, peering
eagerly among the passengers as they passed down the gangway, now paused
before him. Both were visibly affected, and the one who called his name
so gently and proudly trembled while he did so.

"Orito, my son."

"My father," the young man answered, speaking, impulsively, in pure
Japanese. With one old man holding each of his arms he moved away. Cleo
looked after them, her beautiful eyes full of tears.

"It is his father," she had said. "They have not seen each other for
eight years." Her voice faltered a trifle. "The other one must be _her_
father."



CHAPTER XIV.

AFTER EIGHT YEARS.


It was with mingled feelings of pleasure and, perhaps, pain that
Takashima Orito saw his home once more. The place had scarcely changed
since he had left it eight years before. It seemed to him but a day
since he and Numè had played on the shores of the Hayama, and had
gathered the pebbles and shells on the beach. He remembered how Numè
would follow him round wherever he went, how implicitly she believed in
him. Surely, if he lived to be a hundred years old never would such
confidence be placed in him again--the sweet, unquestioning confidence
of a little child. After dinner Orito left his father and Omi to go
outside the house and once more take a look at the old familiar scenes
of his boyhood; once more to see Fuji-Yama, the wonderful mountain that
he had known from his boyhood, and of which he had never tired. There it
stood in its matchless lonely peace and splendor, its lofty peaks
meeting the rosy beams of the vivid sky, snow-clad and majestic. Ah! the
same weird influence, the same inexplicable feeling it had always
produced in him had come back now, and filled his soul with an ardent,
yearning adoration. Every nerve in the young man bespoke a passionate
artistic temperament. Many a time when in America, wearied with
studying a strange people, strange customs, and a strange God, his mind
had reverted to Fuji-Yama--Fuji-Yama, the mount of peace, and in his
heart would rise an uncontrollable longing to see it once more, for it
is said that no one who is born within sight of Fuji-Yama ever forgets
it. Though he might roam all the world over, his footsteps inevitably
turn back to this spot. Standing majestically in the central part of the
main island, snow-clad and solitary, surrounded by five lakes, it rises
to the sublime altitude of 12,490 feet. It is said that its influence is
almost weird--that those who gaze on it once must always remember it.
They are struck not so much by its grandeur as by its wonderful
simplicity and symmetry. It is suggestive of all the gentler qualities;
it is symbolic of love, peace, and restfulness.

Orito remained outside the house for some time, his face turned in mute
adoration to the peerless mountain, no sound escaping his lips. When his
father joined him he said, with a sigh: "Father, how came I ever to
leave my home?"

The old man beamed on him, and leaned against his shoulder.

"Ah, my son, it pleases me much that you have found no spot more
beautiful than your home. Most long have the days been without you. Tell
me somewhat of your life in America."

"My father," the young man answered, "the world outside my home is
turbulent and full of a restlessness that consumes the vitality of man
and robs him of all peace." He pointed towards the mountain: "Here is
rest, peace--Nirvana, rest from the pulse of the wild world."

The old man looked uneasy. "But, my son, surely you do not regret your
travel?"

"No, father," said Orito. "Life is too short for regrets. It is folly to
regret anything. Here in this land, where all is so beautiful, we
sleep--perhaps a delicious, desirable sleep; but though there be beauty
all about us, all that the heart could desire, the foolish heart of man
still is not content. We cannot understand this restlessness that makes
us want to leave the better things of life and go out into the world of
sorrow, to leave beauty and rest behind us, and exchange it for a life
of excitement, of shams and unrealities."

Old Sachi looked frightened at his son's words. He did not quite
comprehend them, however. The son seemed to perceive this, and changed
the subject quickly.

"Where is Numè, my father? I have not yet seen her. She must surely be a
young lady now."

Once more the old man's face lighted up with pride and interest.

"I thought you would be tired after your long voyage, and would not care
so much to see any one but your father. Therefore, when she desired to
visit her American friends her father permitted her to do so." He smiled
at his son. "You will see her to-morrow. She is now a young maiden, and
you will not know her at first."

"No--perhaps not," the young man said, sadly. "I can think of her only
as the little wild plum blossom of ten years. I shall not care for her
as well now that she is a--perhaps--polite maiden of eighteen."

"You should rather like her better, now that she is a beautiful maiden
instead of a mere baby, for it is the nature of man to prefer the woman
to the child."

"Yes, I understand, father, but it is so many years since I have seen a
Japanese girl, and I have grown more used to the American woman."

A shrewd look crept into the old man's face.

"Omi and I thought of that long ago, and for that reason we encouraged
her to be with the Americans greatly, so that she has learned to speak
their tongue, and often becomes almost as one of them."

"But, father, I would not wish her to be an American lady. She could not
be--you cannot make a Japanese girl into an American girl. She would be
more charming solely as a Japanese maid."



CHAPTER XV.

NUMÈ.


The American lady with whom Numè was staying was the Mrs. Davis of whom
Cleo Ballard had spoken. She had rented one of the houses that eight
years before the foreigners had lived in. They had at that time filled
the house with American furniture, so that when Mrs. Davis came to look
at it, it had presented so familiar and homelike an appearance that she
had rented it at once. She had lived there for some months now. In fact,
as she was popular and always the centre of gay parties of foreigners,
quite a small colony of Americans and English people had settled in that
vicinity, which was within easy reach of Tokyo, and, indeed, only a
day's journey from Kyoto. They had rented houses and land from Omi and
Sachi, who cultivated them constantly because of their son. Mrs. Davis'
husband was a large silk merchant in Tokyo, and they had practically
made their home in Japan, though they often took trips to America and
Europe.

Ever since Orito had left Japan Numè had lived a retired, reserved life.
Although but a child at the time, she was of a peculiarly staunch and
intense nature, and for many years after Orito had been gone, she clung
to the memory of the happy days she had spent with him, and looked
forward constantly to his return. With the usual unquestioning content
of a Japanese girl, she was ready to marry whoever her father chose for
her, so long as he was not repugnant to her; and as they had already
decided on Orito, the girl took it as a matter of course that she would
some day be his wife. As she had only pleasant memories of him, her
marriage was looked forward to almost with delight, and until the day
before Orito's return there had not been a pang of fear or regret. She
had not been thrown into the society of young men, and knew very little
of them. Orito's letters to her, although formal in tone, always were
tender and kind, and spoke of the happy days they had spent together,
and which he said would be renewed when he was once more in Japan.

When the Americans had settled so near her home, the girl had gone out
curiously among them, studying their strange manners and customs,
learning to speak their language, and often even dressing in their
costume, to the amusement of her father, Sachi, and the Americans. They
had sought her out in the beginning because of her extraordinary beauty;
for, living on her father's land, they naturally often came across her
either with her father or roaming alone with her maid in the fields. At
first the child was inclined to resent any overtures on their part,
because of an unaccountable jealousy she cherished toward them ever
since Orito had gone to America. But after a time her better sense had
triumphed, and soon she became a familiar figure in their midst.

It is true that most of these foreigners stayed only a short time
there, and moved around constantly, but as fast as they went others
came, and the girl soon got used to them. Although she had received the
best education possible for a girl in Japan, yet she had traveled very
little, her father taking her once in a while on a flying trip to Kyoto
and Tokyo. But her knowledge of the outside world was gained entirely
through her acquaintance with the Americans, and often she sighed for a
larger life than the one she had known. She would ask her father
constantly to permit her to go away on trips with the Americans, but
though he encouraged her always to cultivate them, yet he never would
permit her to go away with them, even on a short trip to Yokohama.

Omi was perhaps a trifle more limited and narrow than Sachi, and more
regarded the etiquette of his class. Sachi had always been inclined to
take the lead in most things, and Omi was always willing to be guided by
him. Thus it happened that Omi had perhaps as much love for Orito as his
father had, and even thought more of him than he did of Numè, who was
only a girl.

Orito and Numè were the only children either of the old men had had,
and, moreover, both of their mothers had died many years ago.

When Mrs. Davis had settled there about six months before, she had
brought letters with her from Takashima Orito, whom she had met in
America, commending her to the hospitality of his father and Omi. With
her quick, gay manners, her beautiful and odd dresses, her frank
good-nature, she dazzled and was a puzzle always to the old men and to
Numè. Moreover, she was a wealthy woman, and had rented the most
exquisite of all the houses owned by Sachi. She took a great liking to
Numè almost at once, and the girl returned it. She would walk into Omi's
house in the most insinuating manner in the world, captivate the old man
with her wit and grace, and carry off Numè right under his nose, even
though he had told her of his resolve to keep his daughter in seclusion
until her marriage. She would say to him "Well, now, you know, Mr.
Watanabe, I am different. I knew dear Mr. Takashima so well in America,
and I am sure he would like Numè and me to be good friends, eh, Numè?"
And when she was alone with the girl and out of sight of the old man,
she would say, with a confident shake of her head: "Just wait, my dear;
soon I'll have things so that you can come and go as you like."

She did not speak vainly. Soon she had taken the two old men by storm,
so that she could have twisted them round her own shrewd little finger.



CHAPTER XVI.

AN AMERICAN CLASSIC.


The day before Orito was to arrive home Numè had crossed the rice fields
and gone to the American lady's house.

"I have felt so nerviss," she said, with her pretty broken English,
"that I come stay with you, Mrs. Davees."

"What are you nervous about, dear?" Mrs. Davis asked, kissing the girl's
pretty, troubled face.

Numè slipped down from the chair Mrs. Davis had placed for her, and sat
on the floor instead, resting her head against the older woman's knee.

"Orito will return to-morrow," she said, simply. "I am so joyed I am
nerviss."

The American lady's sweet blue eyes were moist.

"Do you love him, sweetheart?"

The girl raised wondering eyes to her.

"Luf? Thad is so funny word--Ess--I luf," she said.

"And you have not seen him for eight years? And you were only ten years
old when you last saw him? My dear, I don't understand--I can't believe
it."

The girl raised a wistful face to her.

"Numè nod unerstan', too," she said.

"Of course you don't, dear. Numè, I wish your father would let me take
you away for a time. It is a shame to tie you down already, before you
have had a chance to see anything or any one, hardly. You aren't a bit
like most Japanese girls. I don't believe you realize how pretty--how
very, very lovely and dainty and sweet you are. Sometimes when I look at
your face I can't realize you are a Japanese girl. You are so pretty."

"Bud the Japanese girl be pretty," Numè said, with dignity; "pretty more
than Americazan girl," she added, defiantly.

Mrs. Davis laughed. "Yes, they are--I suppose, some of them, but then an
American can't always understand their _style_ of beauty, dear. You are
different. Your face is lovely--it is a flower--a bright tropical
flower. No! It is too delicate for a tropical flower--it is like your
name--you _are_ a wild plum blossom. Sometimes I am puzzled to know
_when_ you look best--in the sweet, soft kimona or--or in a regular
stylish American gown; then I couldn't tell you were anything but an
American girl;--no, not an American girl--you are too pretty even for
that--you are individual--just yourself, Numè."

"The Americazan lady always flatter," the girl said, rising to her feet,
her face flushed and troubled. "Japanese girl flatter too; Japanese girl
tell you she thing' you vaery pritty--but she nod mean. Tha's only for
polite. Thad you thing me pretty--tha's polite."

This speech provoked a hearty laugh from a gentleman reading a batch of
letters at a small table.

"There's a lesson for you, Jenny. She can't jolly you, eh, Numè?"

"Numè nod unerstan' to jolly," the girl answered.

"Come here, Numè, and I'll tell you," he called across to her. She went
over to his side, her little serious face watching him questioningly.

"A jollier is an American classical word, Numè--a jollier is one who
jollies you."

"Numè _nod_ unerstan', still."

Mrs. Davis drew Numè away from him.

"Leave her alone, Walter," she said, reprovingly; and then to the girl:
"Numè, you must not believe a thing he tells you."

Walter Davis laid his paper-cutter down.

"Madam, are you teaching that young girl to lose faith in mankind
already?"

Mrs. Davis answered by placing her little hand over his mouth and
looking at him with her pretty blue eyes so full of reproach that he
pulled her down beside him. They had been married only a little over
eighteen months.

"Here is the literal translation of the word 'jolly,'" he said to Numè.
"Now, I want Mrs. Davis to be in a good humor, so I squeeze her up and
tell her she is the darlingest little woman in the world."

Still the girl's face was troubled. She looked at the husband and wife a
moment; then she said, very shyly: "Numè lig' to jolly, too."

Mrs. Davis pushed her husband's arm away.

"Don't use that word--it is ugly. Walter is full of slang."

"Ess, bud," she persisted, "_if_ thad the 'jolly' means to be _luf_,
then I lig' thad liddle word."

"But you must not use the word, dear."

When Numè had gone to bed for the night, and husband and wife were alone
together, Mrs. Davis reproached her husband.

"Really, Walter, I wish you would not teach that poor little thing
such--a--a--wicked things--or--or that awful slang. First thing we know
she will be using it seriously. You have no idea how quickly she catches
on to the smallest new word, and she will ask more questions about it,
if it catches her fancy, than a child of three."

"That's her charm, my dear," the man answered. "Ought to encourage it,
Jen."

"She does not need _that_ kind of a charm. She is a charm all by
herself. Every movement she makes is charming, every halting word,--her
own strange, sweet beauty. She is irresistible, Walter. You remember
that Englishman who stayed over at the Cranstons'? Well, you know what a
connoisseur of beauty every one thought him. You ought to have heard him
after he had seen Numè. He was simply wild about her--called her a
dainty piece of Dresden china--a rose and lily and cherry blossom in
one."

"Did he tell Numè so?"

"No, he didn't get the chance. He made the _awful_ blunder of telling
her father so. _He_ (Mr. Watanabe) disagreed very politely with
him--said his daughter was augustly homely, and wouldn't let the poor
little thing out of his sight for a month after. Really, Walter, you
needn't chuckle over it,--for Numè suffered dreadfully about it. If you
won't laugh I'll tell you what she said to me afterwards, though I
believe it was you, yourself, you wretch, who taught her the words. I
told her how sorry I was that the Englishman had been so stupid; because
she had told us never to praise her to her father--and at any rate not
to let any gentleman do so. Well, I half apologized to her, because, you
know, I had taken him to their house, and she said, 'Numè not lig'
Egirisu' (Englishman)--'he cot-tam.' I _know_ she did not know what the
word meant, poor little thing, and I spent half a day explaining to her
_why_ it was not proper to use such an expression. Yes, you can
laugh--you wicked thing--but really, Walter, I won't let that child
listen to you any longer."

Mrs. Davis left her husband almost in convulsions over this, and stole
on tiptoe to the girl's room. She was sleeping without a pillow under
her head. Beside her on the bed was a small English-Japanese dictionary.
Mrs. Davis picked it up and glanced at a page which was turned over. It
was a page of the letter J. Towards the bottom of the page was the word
"jolly," with the interpretation, "to be merry--gay."

Her husband's definition had been unsatisfactory to Numè, and she had
looked it up in her little dictionary.



CHAPTER XVII.

"STILL A CHILD."


The next day Numè seemed strangely loath to return home. For eight long
years the girl had thought almost constantly of Orito and their marriage
which had always seemed so far away. Now that he had come home, and the
marriage seemed but a matter of a few weeks, she was seized with a
sudden fear and dread of she knew not what. Long after she had finished
breakfast she still lingered with the Davises, and though once or twice
she had gone restlessly to the door and looked out across the fields
toward where her own home was, she seemed in no hurry to leave. Finally
Mrs. Davis had spoken to her, and asked if she did not think they would
be expecting her. Numè clung to the American lady's hands with a sudden
terror.

"Numè is _still_ nerviss," she said.

"Shall I go back with you, dear?"

"No; _let_ me stay with you."

About eleven in the morning, however, Orito walked through the rice
fields and came himself to bring her home. Mrs. Davis saw him alone
first, and after they had exchanged greetings and talked for a time of
their mutual friends in America, she told him of the girl's agitation
and how, at the last moment, she had broken down. The young man
appeared to be very much concerned, and begged Mrs. Davis to tell Numè
that she had nothing whatever to fear from meeting him. So Mrs. Davis
went into the next room to fetch Numè. She put her arm round the girl
and drew her gently into the room where Orito was. Numè did not raise
her eyes to look at him. He, on the other hand, looked at her very
keenly, taking note of every sweet outline of her face and form. To
please his father he had resumed the Japanese costume, and now, dressed
in his hakama, he looked every inch a Japanese gentleman, and should not
have alarmed Numè so seriously. Yet his manners had lost some of the old
Japanese polish, and as he crossed to her side and lifted her little
hand to his lips, it seemed more the act of a foreigner than that of a
Japanese.

At the light touch of his lips on her hand Numè's confidence returned.
She smiled, shyly, at him. Orito was the first to speak.

"You are not much changed, Numè," he said. "You look just as I expected
you would--and--and you are still a child."

Numè opened her little fan, and then closed it with a swing.

"And you, I thing you so changed that you must be Americazan," she said,
shyly.

They sat and talked very politely to each other for some time, neither
of them alluding to their proposed marriage; in fact, both of them
seemed anxious to steer away from the subject altogether. Orito
addressed her in Japanese, but she, with a strange wish to show off to
him her pitifully limited knowledge of the language of which she was
extremely proud, answered him in English.

Mrs. Davis drew Numè into the next room, before she left, and raising
her little flushed face, looked down into her eyes as though she would
fain have discovered what was going on in her little heart.

"Are you disappointed, dear?"

"No; _me_?--I am _vaery_ joyous," the girl answered, candidly.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE MEETING.


How different was the meeting between Cleo Ballard and Arthur Sinclair!
He had traveled over night from Kyoto, and because there were no
sleeping accommodations on the train he had passed a very uncomfortable
night. Consequently, when he arrived in Tokyo the next morning he was in
anything but a happy frame of mind. He had gone directly to the hotel,
and had followed his card to the Ballards' suite of rooms. Mrs. Ballard
was ill, as usual. Tom had gone out, and Cleo was waiting alone for him.
She had slept very little through the night, and there were dark shadows
under her eyes. She had stayed awake thinking of Sinclair, and of his
unkindness in failing to meet them. One moment she thought of him
bitterly, and of his seeming indifference to her, the next her mind was
thrilled with the wonder and tenderness of her love, which lost sight of
his every fault. And now his little card lay in her hand, and her heart
was beating to suffocation, for the footsteps that she knew so well, the
tall, athletic figure, and the deep voice she had learned to adore. She
had tried to steel herself for this meeting, telling herself that she
ought to punish him for failing to meet her, but as his tall figure
loomed up beside her she forgot everything save that she loved
him--loved him better than all else on earth, that she had come
thousands of miles to be with him, and that she would never leave him
again. For a moment neither of them spoke. They looked at each other,
the one with hungry, yearning love, the other with keen scrutiny,
together with an honest endeavor to call up some of the old passion he
had once had for her.

The girl's voice was almost frantic:--

"Why don't you speak to me, Arthur;--have you ceased to--to love me?"

"Why of--of course not, Cleo."

She went close to him and put her hands on his shoulder, looking into
his fine, fair face with beseeching, beautiful eyes. What man could have
resisted her, whether he loved her or not? Sinclair's arms closed about
her, and somewhat of the old passion did return as he kissed her, and
held her there. But she had broken down, and was sobbing pitifully,
hysterically, in his arms.

"Why, Cleo, what is the matter, dear?"

He drew her to a small lounge and sat down with her, putting his arm
affectionately about her, and drawing her close to him.

"Oh, I don't know," she sobbed; "but I--I--Oh, Arthur, I thought all
sorts of awful things about you. That you--that you did not love
me--that you did not want me to come--and--and--but I know it is not
true, now--and you will forgive me?"

She waited for his denial, almost longing to hear him reprove her
because her fears were unfounded. Instead, he merely kissed her, saying
she was a foolish little girl.

After Cleo had quieted down a little she began to tell him of different
home matters which she thought would interest him; but after listening
for a while to his monosyllabic answers she stopped talking and turned
her head away with the old pique and distrust. The distrust or pain of
one we love very dearly cuts like a knife and wrings the heart, but
where we do not love it irritates. It had always been so with Sinclair.
When, during their engagement in America, the girl had shown resentment
or anger against him for any cause, it had always had the effect of
making him nervous, sometimes almost unkind. On the other hand, when she
had put her entire trust in him, believed in and loved him
unquestioningly, he seldom could find the heart to undeceive her. Now,
as he looked at her pained, averted face, he felt only a vague
weariness, almost a dislike for her. There was a touch of impatience in
his voice: "What is the matter now, Cleo?"

"Nothing," the girl answered, proudly. "Only I thought perhaps you'd
rather not hear me talk. You do not answer when I ask you anything, and
I don't think you even hear what I say."

"Don't let us quarrel already, Cleo."

The girl melted. "No!" she said; and her feelings choked her.

"How is your mother?" he asked, mechanically.

She rose from beside him. "Come and see mother, Arthur. She is not at
all well, and was quite put out about your not meeting us."

They passed into the mother's room together, and Sinclair was soon
forced to listen to the querulous reproaches of the invalid.



CHAPTER XIX.

CONFIDENCES.


A few days later the Davises, together with several other Americans,
swooped down, en masse, on Cleo, and she soon found herself surrounded
by old acquaintances and friends. Mrs. Davis had heard of her arrival
from Takashima, and had come to her at once. The two friends had so much
to say to each other that Cleo was in a happy frame of mind. Sinclair
had spent the former day entirely with her, and had been as tender and
thoughtful as of old. After the first constraint had worn off and they
had grown more used to each other, and the man had settled the matter
with himself that she was the woman with whom he was to spend the rest
of his life, he had called up all the gentleness and tenderness he could
summon. If it was a poor substitute for love, it was, nevertheless, more
welcome to the hungry heart of the girl than the indifference she had
fancied she had detected, and which she now told herself was imaginary.

"My dear," said Mrs. Davis, "you _must_ come and spend a few days with
me at my house. I have such a pretty place--quite a little way from the
city, and in the most charming spot imaginable. The house is large
enough, almost, to be one of our own. I had wings built onto it after I
had been there awhile, and really, it is so much more comfortable and
homelike than the hotel."

"Indeed, I will come," Cleo answered. "Jenny--I want to see everything
there is to see here. You know Arthur likes the country, and has an idea
he'd like to settle here altogether. He says, however, it depends on
me--and I want to see lots of the place before I decide. I do hope I
will like it, for his sake."

"You certainly will get to like it."

"Yes, but I'm afraid I shall get lonely for America and Americans."

"No, you won't, Cleo, because there are scores of Americans here, to say
nothing of tourists from all over Europe. In fact, I intend giving a big
party in your honor, my dear. We haven't had one here for--oh, for ages!
We could invite all the Japanese we know, and all the Americans and
English worth knowing."

So the two friends chatted on, turning from one subject to another. At
one time they had been almost inseparable, and confided in each other on
all subjects. Hence, it was not surprising that Mrs. Davis, with
characteristic familiarity and bon-camaraderie, should dash into the
subject of Cleo's marriage.

"When is it to be, my dear?" she asked. "Sinclair is a splendid catch.
Every one thinks worlds of him here, and--well, he is charming as far as
his own personality goes."

Cleo was silent a moment. Then she said, abruptly: "Jenny, sometimes I
fear that Arthur does not actually love me. I do not know why I should
think so. He is always so kind to me. I suppose I am foolish."

"Of course you are. Why, Cleo, it would be--a--a perfect tragedy if he
did not--it would be dreadful."

The girl sighed. Her words were halting, for she hesitated to ask even
her closest friend such a question: "Does he--has he paid any one _here_
much--a--attention?"

"No, indeed. He doesn't _like_ Japanese women much--he told me so
himself. Says they are all alike. That they haven't any heart."

"Is it true?"

"Well, dear, I don't know. It is not true of all of them, at any rate.
There is one girl I know who is the dearest, best-hearted little thing
in the world. Cleo, she is the sweetest thing you ever saw. I won't
attempt to describe her to you, because I am not a poet, and it would
take a poet to describe Numè."

"Numè?"

"Yes--Mr. Takashima's little sweetheart, you know. Ever heard him speak
of her?"

Cleo Ballard had become suddenly very still and quiet. The other woman
rattled on, without waiting for an answer.

"She has waited for him eight years, and--and I actually believe she
still loves him. She seems to take it as a matter of course that she
loves him, and doesn't see anything strange at all in her doing so, in
spite of the fact that she was just a little girl when he went away."
She paused a moment, smiling thoughtfully. "Really, Cleo, it is the
prettiest thing in the world to see them together. He is rather stiff
and formal, but just as gentle and polite as anything, and she, poor
little creature, thinks he is the finest thing alive."

Cleo Ballard caught her breath with a sudden pain. She had grown quite
white. "Jenny, don't let's talk of--of the Japanese now. I--I--don't
care for them much."

"Don't _care_ for them! Why, you _must_ get over any feeling like that
if you intend living here. However, even if you dislike every Japanese
in Japan, you'd change your mind, perhaps, after you knew Numè. You
really ought to see her--she--why, my dear, what is the matter? You look
quite faint."

"Oh, it is nothing, dear; only don't talk about this--this girl--really,
I--I feel as though I shouldn't like her, and I am sure she won't like
me."

"Oh, come now; you're not well, that's all. Here, sit down. You are
tired after the long trip."

She left the girl's side to go over to Tom and Sinclair, who were
talking over old college days. Cleo heard her praising her new protégé.
Sinclair looked a trifle bored, though Tom was interested.

"Yes, they are all pretty, more or less," Sinclair said, languidly; "but
the deuce is, they are too much alike."

"Well, Numè _is_ different. Really, Mr. Sinclair, I am surprised you
have not met her. But you will all see her at my party. You know we're
going to have one for Cleo at my house," she added.



CHAPTER XX.

SINCLAIR'S INDIFFERENCE.


When Mrs. Davis had said Sinclair did not care for Japanese women she
had merely spoken the truth. With the unreasoning prejudice of a
westerner, he had taken a dislike to them, hardly knowing himself why he
did so. Perhaps one of the reasons lay in the fact that when he had come
to Japan he had been too acutely aware of his engagement, and that his
wife would likely make her home there in Japan. For this reason he
avoided the distractions that the tea-houses offered to most foreigners,
going there only occasionally with parties of friends; but, unlike most
western men, who generally consider it their privilege when in Japan to
be as lawless as they desire, he had got into no entanglements whatever.
That he had been called upon constantly, as consul, to help various
Americans out of such scrapes with Japanese women, had made him more
prejudiced against them.

On the night of Mrs. Davis' party, he stood in a doorway looking on at
the gayly mixed throng. Here were Americans, English, French, Germans,
and a good sprinkling of the better class Japanese. Mrs. Davis' house
was entirely surrounded by balconies, which she had had specially built
in American fashion, and the guests wandered in and out of the
ball-room on to these balconies, or down into the gayly lighted garden;
under the shadows of the trees, illumined, in spots only, by the flaring
light of hundreds of Japanese lanterns, scattered like twinkling
swinging lamps all through the gardens, and on the lawn. Cleo Ballard
was looking very beautiful; and because she was undoubtedly the
prettiest woman in the room she was surrounded the entire evening.
Sinclair had once told her laughingly that he gave her carte blanche to
flirt all she desired. In his secret heart, like most men, he was
opposed to this pastime (for women). Not that he was entirely free from
it himself. By no means; but sometimes the ring of falsity and untruth
in it all struck the finer sense of the man. Perhaps he was a trifle
bored that night. He watched wearily the dancers passing back and forth,
the filmy laces and beautiful summer gowns; and he sighed. Somehow, he
was not a part of the scene, for with the peculiarity of a traveler,
Sinclair detested anything smacking of conventionality, and most parties
(in society) are formal to a great degree--at least on the surface.
Quite late in the evening Mrs. Davis, who had disappeared for a time
from the ball-room, returned, bringing with her a young girl. Sinclair
could not see her face at first, because her head was turned from him.
She was dressed very simply in a soft white gown, cut low at the neck,
the sleeves short to the elbows. She wore no jewels whatever, but in the
mass of dense black hair, braided carelessly and coiled just above the
nape of her neck, were a few red roses. Something in the girlish poise
of the figure, the slim, unstudied grace of the neck, and rounded arms,
caused Sinclair to move deliberately from his position by the door, and
pass in front of her. Then he saw her face. There was something piteous
in the girl's expression. He could not have told what there was in her
face that struck him so with the peculiarity of its beauty. Her
nationality puzzled him. As the guests began to crowd about her, the
girl lost her repose of manner. She looked frightened and troubled. With
a few quick strides, Sinclair was beside Mrs. Davis, waiting to be
introduced. Almost as in a dream he heard his hostess say, half
jokingly:

"Numè, I am going to introduce you to a--a hater of Japanese woman--he
is our consul, Mr. Sinclair. You _must_ cure him, my dear," she added;
and then smiling at Sinclair she said: "Arthur, _this_ is Numè, Miss
Watanabe, of whom I told you."

The girl raised her little oval face, and looked very seriously at him.
She held her hand out; she had learned from the Americans the habit of
shaking hands. Sinclair felt a strange, indescribable sensation as her
little hand rested in his; it was as if he held in his hand a little
trembling, frightened wild bird.



CHAPTER XXI.

"ME? I LIG' YOU."


For a moment Sinclair was at a loss what to say to Numè, and as she had
not spoken he did not know whether she understood the English language
or must be addressed in Japanese.

"Will you not let me get you a seat somewhere where there is not such a
crowd?" he asked, speaking in English.

"Ess," she answered, looking almost helplessly at him, as Mrs. Davis
came towards them with a fresh company of Americans, all eager to meet
her. Numè belonged to the Kazoku order of Japanese (the nobles), the
most exclusive class in Japan. They lived, as a rule, in the Province of
Kyushu, and their women were supposed to be extremely beautiful, and
kept in great seclusion, as the daughters of nobles usually are. Numè's
father, however, had gone into business in Tokyo, and later had become a
large land-owner there, so that the girl had mingled very little with
her own class.

"I am going to take Miss Watanabe somewhere where she can breathe,"
Sinclair said to Mrs. Davis, and added: "Don't bring any more along just
now. I judge by her face she is scared to death already."

The girl looked gratefully at him. "Ess, I nod lig' big crowd _joyful_
ladies and gentlemen," she said, haltingly.

He found a couple of seats close by a window, where a soft breeze came
through, and fanned her flushed little face. In spite of what Mrs. Davis
had told her of Sinclair's not liking Japanese girls, with the usual
confidence of a little woman in a tall man, Numè felt protected from the
curious crowd when with him. She told him so with a shy artlessness that
astonished him.

"Me? I lig' you," she said, shyly. "You are _big_--and thad you nod lig'
poor liddle Japanese womans--still I lig' you jus' same."

"I like some of them," he said, lamely, confounded by the girl's direct
words. "You see, I have not met any Japanese _ladies_, and the Japanese
girls I have met always struck me as being--well, er--too gay to have
much heart."

Numè shook her head. "Japanese girl have big, big heart," she said,
making a motion with her hands. "Japanese boy go long way from home--see
all the big world; bud liddle Japanese girl stay at home with fadder and
mudder, an' vaery, vaery good, _bud_ parents luf _always_ the boy.
Sometimes Japanese girl is _vaery_ sad. Then account she stay at home
_too_ much, but she not show that she is vaery sad. She laugh and talk
so thad the parents do nod see she is vaery sad."

Sinclair did not interrupt her. Her odd way of telling anything was so
pretty and her speech so broken that he liked better to hear her talk.
But the girl stopped short here, and looked quite embarrassed a moment.
Then she said:

"Numè talk too much, perhaps?" Her voice was raised questioningly.

"No--no--Miss Numè cannot talk too much."

"Oa," the girl continued, smiling saucily, "Americazan girl talk too
much also?"

"Sometimes."

"That you do not lig' liddle Japanese girl--do you lig' Americazan big
proud girl?"

"No"--smiling. "Do you like the big proud American girl, Miss Numè?"

"Ess," she answered, half doubtingly. "Americazan lady is _vaery_
pretty. Sometimes she has _great big heart--then_ she change, and she is
liddle, liddle heart--_vaery_ mean woman."

"What makes you say that?"

"Oh! Numè watch everything," the girl answered, shrewdly.

Sinclair stayed by Numè's side almost the entire evening. She did not
know how to dance; he did not care to; and as she told him quite
candidly that she liked him to sit with her better than any one else in
the room, he needed no further excuse. The girl's beauty and naivete
captivated him, and in spite of her artlessness there were so many
genuine touches of shrewdness and cleverness about her. Sinclair was
converted into the belief that Japanese women were the most charming
women he had met--at least, if the ladies were all as sweet and pretty
as Numè.

During the evening Cleo Ballard paused in a dance, close by them. She
had noticed the attention Sinclair had paid the girl from the beginning.
He did not see her at first, but was looking with almost fascinated eyes
into the strangely interesting face of the Japanese maiden. Sinclair had
not once danced with Cleo through the entire evening, nor had he been by
her side even. He had told her he did not like dancing, and on this plea
had left her to the throngs of admirers who surrounded her, eager for a
dance. There was a look of bitter pride on Cleo's face as she looked at
him. In America Sinclair had always made it a point to attach himself
almost scrupulously to her, and although she had always felt something
lacking in his love for her, it pleased her that at least he had never
given her cause to be jealous of any other women. Her voice sounded
harsh even to her own ears.

"Perhaps, Arthur, you will introduce me--to----to your friend?" she
said.

The same pique that always irritated him so was in her voice now. It
was, he told himself, the reminder to him of his bondage; for long ere
this the man had admitted to himself that he did not love her. He was
too staunch by nature, however, knowing her love for him, to break with
her. He rose stiffly from his seat beside Numè, his face rather flushed.

"Certainly," he said, coldly, and pronounced the two girls' names.

Instinctively the woman nature in Numè scented a rival--possibly an
enemy. She wished the American gentleman would sit down again. She
could not understand why he should stand just because the beautiful
shining American lady had wanted to know her. The American girl's
partner tapped her lightly on the shoulder, reminding her of the dance,
and once more she glided away, leaving a vague unrest behind.

"Is the beautiful Americazan lady your betrothed?"

The man started, though he evaded the question.

"What makes you ask that?"

"All of us have betrothed," the girl said, vaguely. "See, I will show
you _my_ betrothed. He stands over there now--talking to the same pretty
Americazan lady."

"Takashima!" said Sinclair.

"Ess," the girl answered, happily.

Takashima was talking very seriously to Cleo Ballard. There was an
impatient, almost pettish, look on her face. She seemed anxious to get
away from him. Sinclair saw her make a motion to Mrs. Davis, and in some
way the two women managed to get rid of the Japanese. They stood talking
for a moment together, and Sinclair saw them look over in his direction.
He noted Cleo's movements almost mechanically, his mind being more
absorbed in what Numè had told him about her betrothal to Takashima.

"When does the wedding take place?" he asked, abruptly.

"Oh! I not know. _We_--Orito and _me_--do _not_ like much to hurry, the
fadders make great haste," she said.

Sinclair looked down at her thoughtfully, studying her with a strange
pang at his heart.

"So you are Takashima's little sweetheart," he said, slowly. "He used to
tell us about you in America. He said you were the prettiest thing on
earth, and the boys didn't believe him, of course, but, after all--he
spoke only the truth."

Again the girl smiled.

"When I was liddle, liddle girl," she said, "Orito carry me high way up
on his shoulder. Now I grow big and polite, and he is that far away to
me, and I thing' we are strangers."

The man was silent. "But I am _vaery_ happy," she continued, "because
some day I will be altogether with Orito, then we will be much luf for
each other again."

"May you always be happy, little woman," Sinclair said, almost huskily.
"Happiness is a priceless treasure; we throw away our chances of it
sometimes recklessly, for a joy of a moment only."

Mrs. Davis' voice broke in on them. She looked quite coldly at Sinclair.

"Come, Numè," she said, "I want you to meet some other people."



CHAPTER XXII.

ADVICE.


Mrs. Davis drew Numè into a corner of the balcony, and sat down to give
her a little lecture.

"Now, dear, I'm going to speak to you, not as your hostess, but as
your--a--chaperon--and friend. You must not speak too familiarly to any
man. Now, you ought not to have sat with Mr. Sinclair so long. There
were lots of other men around you, and you didn't speak to any of them."

"Bud I do _nod_ lig' all the udder mans," the girl protested. "_Me?_ I
lig' only the--a--Mister Sinka."

"Yes; but, Numè, you must not like people so--so quickly. And you must
not let any one know it, if you do."

"Oa, I tell him so," the girl said, stubbornly. "I tell Mr.--Sinka thad
I lig' him _vaery_ much; and I ask thad he sit with me, so thad too many
peoples nod to speak to me."

Mrs. Davis looked very much concerned at this confession.

"Now, that _was_ imprudent, my dear; besides, you know," she spoke very
slowly and deliberately, "Mr. Sinclair is to be married soon to Miss
Ballard, and so you ought to be very particular, so that no one can have
the chance to say anything about you."

The girl's bright eyes flashed.

"Mr. Sinka nod led me thing' thad," she said, remembering how Sinclair
had evaded the question. "I ask him thad the pretty lady is betrothed
and he make me thing'--no."

Mrs. Davis was silent a moment.

"Er--that's only a way American men have, Numè. You must not believe
them; and be very careful not to tell them you like
them--because--because they--they often laugh at girls who do that."

Numè did not stir. She sat very still and quiet.

Mr. Davis joined them, and noticing the girl's constrained face, he
inquired what was the matter.

"Nothing at all, my dear," the American lady said. "I was just giving
Numè some pointers."

"Look here, Jenny, you'll spoil her--make her into a little prig, first
thing you know. At least, she is genuine now, and unaffected."

"Walter," Mrs. Davis said, rising with dignity, "Mrs. Ballard thought it
outrageous for Sinclair to have sat with her all evening. I never knew
him to do such a thing before with any one. That makes it all the more
noticeable. Cleo, too, was quite perturbed."

When the party broke up and the guests were slowly passing into their
jinrikishas, numbers of them lingered in the garden, bidding laughing
farewells.

Numè, who was spending the night with Mrs. Davis, stood a lonely little
figure in the shadow of the balcony. She did not wish to say good-bye
to any of them--she did not like the pretty Americans, she told
herself, because she did not believe them any longer.

Sinclair went up to her, holding out his hand.

"Good-night, Miss Numè," he said.

The girl put her little hand behind her.

"Numè not lig' any longer big Americazan gentlemans," she said. "Mrs.
Davees tell me nod to lig'--goonight,"--this last very stiffly and
politely.

The man smiled grimly: "Ah, Miss Numè," he said, "you must always choose
your own--like whom you choose;--don't let any one tell you who to like
and who not to."

He looked searchingly at her face a moment, then turned and passed out
with the other guests, understanding the truth.



CHAPTER XXIII.

AFRAID TO ANSWER.


It was over ten days since the Ballards had arrived in Tokyo. Still Cleo
had not given Takashima the promised answer. It was not that she any
longer hesitated for the sake of any sentiment she might have had for
him, which was the case on the steamer, but that, having led him on to
believe in her, she had not the courage to let him know the truth.
Moreover, there was a certain assured, determined look always about his
face which frightened her. Cleo was a coward if she was anything. It
would have been a relief to her to have confided in Mrs. Davis, and
perhaps to have her break the truth to him, as gently as possible; but
knowing of her strong affection for Numè her heart misgave her whenever
she thought of doing so, and she dreaded the contempt, perhaps anger,
that such a revelation would cause in Mrs. Davis. So she put off from
day to day. Whenever Takashima called on her at the hotel she was either
out, or one of a party, so that he found no chance whatever of speaking
to her alone. The girl did everything in her power to avoid being alone
with him. If the young man guessed anything of the truth, he never
showed it, for he was persistent in his visits, and when he did get a
chance to speak to Cleo would talk to her as naturally and confidently
as he had done those last days on the boat. It terrified Cleo that he
refused to be discouraged, that in spite of the almost direct way in
which she at times ignored him, he let her understand, in every
conceivable way in his power, that he had not lost faith in her, letting
her believe that he understood that she, having so many friends, must
necessarily be surrounded for the first few days, at least. Cleo did not
know whether he had heard of her engagement to Sinclair or not. If he
had heard of it he simply ignored it, putting it behind him as so much
gossip, and as an impossibility, seeing the girl had told him nothing of
it herself, and had almost deliberately encouraged him to believe that
his own suit was not in vain. It was no use for her to try before
Takashima to let him see that she and Sinclair were more to each other
than friends, because Sinclair was no aid to her in the matter. He had
become strangely cold and reticent, and though he was always the essence
of politeness and attention to her, still he might have been just so to
any woman friend. Meanwhile, Takashima had not once reminded her of her
promise to answer him. He told himself he could afford to wait now that
he was so sure of her; besides, his mind was a good deal absorbed in
going over the old familiar haunts of his boyhood, and trying in every
way possible to do little acts to please his father, and which would
make up for the long years of separation. With Numè he was on the best
of terms, they being, however, more as brother and sister or very dear
friends, rather than lovers; for Numè had become as anxious as he to
put the marriage off for a time, and the subject was seldom broached
between them, though their fathers often alluded to it, and urged haste.

Although Takashima and Sinclair were excellent friends, neither of them
had ever mentioned Cleo Ballard's name to the other. Sinclair knew
nothing whatever of Takashima's love for the girl, or that there had
been anything between them; for both Tom and Cleo had been very careful
to avoid telling him, knowing Takashima to be an old friend of his.
Besides, perhaps Sinclair's interest in her had flagged, so that, in
spite of her beauty and vivacity, his engagement began to pall on him.
It galled him beyond measure that he did not have the freedom to go and
come when he pleased. This was another reason why he avoided, whenever
it was possible, talking about the girl, not wishing to be reminded of
her when it was unnecessary; for an engagement where there is no love is
the most irksome of things.

So they talked, instead, of Numè. Sinclair was intensely interested in
her. He had a half-pleasant, half-painful memory of her angry eyes and
flushed face when she had refused to shake hands with him in parting
that night of the party. He had not seen her since then, though he had
paid several visits to Mrs. Davis, and even to Takashima's home. Orito
told him she had taken an unaccountable whim, after the party, to become
very strict in Japanese etiquette, and that since then she had been
living in great seclusion, not even he (Orito) seeing her, save in the
presence of her father. And in these talks about Numè, with her
betrothed, Sinclair made one discovery which astonished, and strange to
say, pleased him--it was that Takashima did not love her--and further,
that the girl did not actually love Takashima, though they were the best
of friends. He wondered what understanding they had come to on the
subject, and whether they had bluntly told each other that they did not
love each other.



CHAPTER XXIV.

VISITING THE TEA HOUSES.


Quite a large party of Americans, which included the Ballards, Sinclair,
the Davises, the Cranstons, Fannie Morton, and others, visited the
picturesque tea-houses on the highway between Yedo (Tokyo) and Kyoto.
The oddly-built houses, with their slanting roofs, the beauty of their
gardens, the perfume-scented air, rich with the odor of cherry and plum
blossom, all contributed to lend an air of delight and sunshine to the
visits, and the Americans watched with pleasure and interest the pretty
waitresses and geisha girls, who seemed a part of the scene, as they
tripped back and forth before them in their brightly-colored kimonas,
played on the samisen and koto (harp), or danced for them.

One girl with an unusually pretty round face, and bright, sly eyes,
attracted especial attention. She waited on Cleo and Tom Ballard,
kneeling on the ground in front of them, holding a small tray, while
they drank the tiny cups of hot sakè. Cleo did not like the taste of
sakè. She told the little waitress so, who, although not understanding a
word the American girl had said, nodded her head knowingly, and brought
tea for her instead. She tripped on her little heels across the floor,
padded about three feet with rice straw, looking back over her shoulder
to smile at Tom, to the amusement of that gentleman, and the irritation
of some of the American ladies.

"Japanese girls are--rather bold," Rose Cranston said, sharply.

"They are--all right," Tom answered, ready to defend them.

"Yes," said Fanny Morton, with her usual cynicism. "Naturally you think
so. Perhaps we women would, too, if she peeped at us out of her wicked
little eyes as she does at you."

Cleo Ballard laughed, a slow, aggravating, silvery laugh.

"I think they are charming, Miss Morton," and then to Tom, "they are too
funny, Tom. It is the cutest thing in the world to see the way in which
they deliberately ignore us poor--females. At least they don't make any
pretense of liking us, as we would do in America."

The little geisha girl had come near them again, with a couple of
others. Thy were all pretty, with a cherry-lipped, peepy-eyed, cunning
prettiness. They stood in a group together, their fans in their hands,
glancing smilingly at the American men, undisguisedly trying to flirt
with them.

Rose Cranston, thoroughly disgusted, said loftily: "Nasty little things,
these Japanese women are."

"Not at all," said Tom, and went over to them, followed by Cleo and
Sinclair.

"What is your name, little _geesa_ girl?" Cleo asked, a touch of
patronage in her voice. The three girls looked at each other and
giggled. Sinclair looked amused. He put the question to them in
Japanese, and they answered him readily: "Koto, Kirishima, and Matsu."

[Illustration: KOTO, KIRISHIMA, AND MATSU.  PAGE 101.]

"What very pretty names!" the American girl said, graciously. "Er--do
you dance, as well as--as serve tea?"

Again the girls laughed, and Sinclair told them what the American lady
had said. The girls nodded their heads brightly, and a few minutes after
were dancing for the Americans.

"Do they make much money?" Cleo asked Takashima, who had joined them.

"Yes, but they spend a great deal on their clothes. They are very gay."

"Yes, they seem so," Cleo said, thoughtfully, "and yet somehow they look
kind of tired and fagged out at times. I have been watching them quite
closely, and noticed this about them in spite of the big show of gayety
they affect."

"Their chief duty is to arouse mirth," the Japanese answered. "Therefore
they must always appear joyful themselves. Some are very witty and
accomplished, and if you understood Japanese, as you will some day, you
would find a great deal to laugh at in what they say."

Towards evening the gardens began to fill up with more guests, and the
geisha girls soon had their hands full. They talked and laughed with
their guests, sang, danced, flirted, and played on odd musical
instruments.

The geisha's chief attractions lie in her exquisite taste in arranging
her hair, and in the beauty of her dress, the harmonious colors of which
blend, according to a Japanese idea, in an unsurpassed way. Her
manners, too, are very graceful, though the younger geishas are inclined
to be boisterous, and laugh perhaps too much. Moreover, the situations
of their houses and the picturesqueness of their tea gardens lend an air
of enchantment and charm to the geisha girl and her surroundings.
Although the geisha has little history, having first come into existence
the middle of last century, her popularity is such in Japan that no
parties are thought to be complete without her presence to brighten it
up,--to entertain the guests with her accomplishments and infectious
mirth, and to dance and play for them. Although her life is essentially
rapid and gay, yet, in spite of her lapses from virtue at times, the
geisha always retains her native modesty and grace. It is true, many of
them are extremely familiar with foreigners, who are their best patrons;
yet, in spite of this, the more modest and virtuous a geisha is the more
are her services required.

The remnant of the old Samourai class of Japanese, although very
taciturn and grave in deportment, are, nevertheless, extremely fond of
the distractions offered by the tea-houses. They are addicted to such
pleasures. The snow, the full moon, flowers of every season, national
and local fêtes,--these all serve as pretexts for forming convivial
parties which meet in the picturesque tea-houses and drink the sakè hot,
in tiny cups, twenty or more to the pint. The fact that they are so much
sought after, however, has not spoiled the geisha girl. In fact, when
you have become acquainted with any one of them, you soon discover that
she is quite diffident, modest, and gentle.

There are a great many tea-houses scattered over Tokyo, and on the
highway between that city and Kyoto; and it is notable that the style of
dress of the waitress and the geisha, as well as the dancing and other
amusements, very distinctly differ from each other in each locality.
Hence, one who starts out in the morning and visits a number of
different tea and geisha gardens is hardly likely to be bored, as he
will find new attractions in each place.



CHAPTER XXV.

SHATTERED HOPES.


It was in the month of April that Orito had arrived home--April, the
month of cherry blossoms, the month when the devout Japanese celebrate
the birth of the great Buddha. On the eighth of that month devotees go
to the temples where the ceremony is performed. It consists simply of
pouring tea over the sacred image. They also make trifling contributions
to the temple, carrying home with them some of the tea, which is
supposed to contain certain curative properties if administered to one
suffering from disease. Of later years this religious ceremony has been
practically done away with, although a few devout followers still
observe it. Instead of performing any ceremony in memory of Buddha, many
of the people commemorate the month of April by simply being very
gentle, kind, loving, and happy among themselves during the month. It is
at this time of year that the people stroll out for hanami (flower
picnic), clad in fantastic costumes, some with masks over their eyes. To
the foreigner the surging crowd of holiday makers will cause them to
think of an endless masquerade. No one is allowed to pluck the cherry
blossom during the entire month, and perhaps this is the reason that the
flower grows so luxuriantly throughout the island, as it is not plucked
by unscrupulous lovers who might have a special taste for it.

It was because of the fact that April is a month of peace and good-will
to almost every one, when one puts off the cares of to-day until
to-morrow, that Orito had failed to tell his parents of his love for the
American girl. He had, instead, tried every means in his power to please
the two old men, and would often sit by them for hours listening to
their plans for his and Numè's future, without saying a word. Neither
had he, as yet, spoken to Numè on the subject. That the girl was
extremely fond of him he knew, but with the reasoning rather of an
American than a Japanese he could not believe that she actually loved
him, whom she really scarcely knew.

Over a month had passed by since his return home. One day in the month
of May, when the fields were ablaze with a burning glory of azaleas, and
the sun touched their wild crimson with dazzling splendor, Orito told
his father and Omi of his love for the American girl. He had invited
them both to go with him to Okubo, the western suburb of the capital, to
see some new variety of the azalea; for with the birth of each new
flower, every month, the Japanese celebrate fêtes in their honor. The
noisy crowd of pleasure-seekers had driven them away from the scene,
however, to a more secluded spot in the woods. Here Orito had told them,
very gently but firmly, of his love for the beautiful American girl. The
two old men remained perfectly silent, looking at each other with
haggard, uncomprehending eyes. The dream of their life was shattered.
There had not been a time since Numè was born that they had not talked
joyously of the marriage of their two children, and in their strong
pride in Orito they had sent him to America to become very learned and
accomplished. It had seemed to them, sometimes, that the eight years
never would come to an end. Now Orito had returned to them, but alas,
how changed! He stood by them, slim and quiet, his face sad but
determined, waiting for his father to speak.

Finally old Sachi rose to his feet.

"What does this mean?" he said, sharply. "Do you then wish to go against
the command of your father? Must I then say I have lost my son?"

"No, father--I will be more your son than ever."

The old man's voice trembled.

"Duty!" he said, sternly. "That is the watchword for a Japanese. Did you
forget that in America? Have you ceased to be Japanese?--duty first of
all to your parents, to the wife and children to come, and last to
yourself."

Orito was silent.

Omi now spoke. "Orito," he said, and his voice was quite dazed and
stupid, "you really speak only in jest. Surely, it is now too late to
change."

The young man's voice was very low:

"It would be too late had the marriage taken place--it is not too late
now. Not so long as I have not ruined Numè's happiness as well as my
own."

"Perhaps after you think this over you will change, my son," Sachi said,
gently.

"Nay, father, I would rather see you reconciled. I cannot change in
this. You do not understand. I love her with all my heart, and if--if
she were impossible to me, I should surely die."

"Could you, then, leave your father to a comfortless, childless life?"
the old man asked, sadly.

"We should go together," Orito said.



CHAPTER XXVI.

CONSCIENCE.


A pitiful constraint had settled over the households of Takashima Sachi
and Watanabe Omi. The two old men saw each other not often now; for
Sachi had not the strength to cross the eager vital will of his son,
whom he loved so dearly, while Omi was too stunned and grieved to care
to see them. So he and Numè remained in great seclusion for some days.
Omi had as yet told Numè nothing of what Orito had told them. He was a
shrewd old man, and there came to him a certain hope that perhaps the
American girl would, after all, refuse to marry Orito. Consequently, he
thought he would wait a while before telling the girl anything. Orito
called on him each day with presents of tea and flowers, but each time
the old man refused to see him, sending word that he and Numè were in
retirement. This gave Orito no opportunity whatever of speaking to the
girl alone. Sachi tried to convince him constantly that she actually
loved him, and that it would be a cruelty now, not to marry her. The
young man grew very despondent, though his resolve did not lose any of
its firmness, Sachi had fallen into a pitiful dull apathy, taking
interest in nothing about him, and refusing to take comfort from his
son, who tried to be very devoted and kind to him. Often, too, he would
upbraid Orito very bitterly. At such times the young man would leave the
house and go out into the valleys and wander through the woodland paths,
trying to forget his misfortunes in the beauty of his surroundings. He
had not seen Cleo Ballard for some days, but he had written to her,
telling her of what he had done. Cleo Ballard had read his letter with
dread misgiving.

"Miss Cleo," it said very simply, "I have told my father and Mr.
Watanabe that I cannot marry Numè-san because of my supreme love for
you. I did not tell them last month, because it was the season of joy,
and I wished to save them pain. Now they are very unhappy, but I tell
myself that soon will you bring back joy to our house."

His assurance frightened her. She read the note over and over, as she
sat before her dresser, her maid brushing her hair. She shook the hair
from the maid's hands.

"I must be alone, Marie," she said, and the girl left her.

Long she sat in silence, no sound escaping her lips save one long
trembling sigh of utter weariness and regret.

She looked at her image in the glass, seeing nothing of its beauty.

"You are a wicked woman, Cleo Ballard," she said, "a wicked, cruel
woman, and--and--Oh! God help me--what shall I do?"



CHAPTER XXVII.

CONFESSION.


Cleo Ballard did not answer Takashima's letter. All night long it rose
up before her accusingly, and the next morning she dressed in feverish
haste, and rushed off to her friend, Mrs. Davis.

"Jenny," she said, wildly, "I want to go away--I must go--I am stifling
here. I must leave Tokyo--I--I----" she broke down and covered her face
with her hands.

"Why, Cleo--what is it?" Her friend's kindly arms were around her.

"I can't tell you, Jenny. I can't tell you--you would hate me, and then,
except Tom--Oh, Jenny, I can't afford now to lose any one's friendship."

"Nothing you can tell me, Cleo, would make me hate you. Is it some
flirtation you have carried too far? Come, now, it used to relieve you
to tell me all about these things in America. Who is it? Alliston?
Cranston? or the Englishman?--or--or----"

"No--none of them--it--it--Oh, Jenny, I can't tell you."

"You must, Cleo--it will do you good, I know, and perhaps I can help
you."

"It is--Takashima."

Jenny Davis' hands dropped from Cleo's shoulders.

"Orito!"

The two looked at each other in tragic silence.

"Cleo, how _could_ you do it? There were enough without him;--when was
it? how? tell me all about it--Oh! poor little Numè!"

"It was on the steamer----"

"On the steamer," her friend repeated, stupidly. "Yes, go on;--well, and
what happened--you----?"

"Yes--I did it deliberately--I made him--care for me. I was lonely, and
wanted to be amused. The passengers were uninteresting and stupid. He
was different, with his gentle, odd ways. Sometimes I got almost
frightened of myself, because he took everything so seriously. I did not
mean to--to really hurt him. I wanted to see how a Japanese would act if
he were in love, and--and Tom kept telling me how proof he was against
women--and--Oh, Jenny, when he did speak out to me, I had not the
courage, then, to tell him the truth. And all the time I knew
it--but----"

Her friend's shocked face startled her.

"Yes; I understand," she said, bitterly. "I knew you would hate me--I
deserve it--only I----"

Jenny Davis put her arms round her again.

"Dear, I don't hate you. Indeed, I don't, but it has startled me so. I
am so--so shocked, because of Numè, and the two poor old men. I don't
know what to say, but I'd stand by _you_, dear, against all the Japanese
in Japan if it became necessary." She put her head against Cleo's, and
the two friends wept in sympathy with each other, as women do.

"You must face the thing out, Cleo. Have you told Takashima yet?"

"No;--he sent me this to-day," she put the note despairingly into her
friend's hands.

"How dreadful!--how perfectly awful!--you do not know the Japanese as I
do, dear. It will just break the two old men's hearts. They have looked
forward to his marriage with Numè all their lives. They don't love their
children as we do in America. Their pride in them is too pathetic, Cleo;
and when they disappoint them it is like a death-blow."

"Don't, Jenny--_don't_, please don't talk about them."

"But we must, Cleo. That is where the whole mistake has always been with
you. You are too weak, Cleo. You can't look suffering in the face, and
in consequence you do nothing to relieve it. Your duty is plain. Go
right to Orito and tell him the truth."

"Jenny, I can't do it. He said once on the steamer that he would not
scruple to take his life if he were very unhappy; and then he went on to
tell me how common suicides were in Japan, and how the Japanese had not
the smallest fear of death, and he seemed to think it would be a
courageous act to--to take one's life. Jenny, I got so frightened that
night I almost screamed out."

"But sooner or later you will have to tell him, Cleo. Don't let him know
it solely by your marrying Sinclair. That would be too cruel;--tell him.
Tell me, Cleo, do you think he actually believes you care for him?"

"Yes;--once I almost told him so--at least I led him to believe it--and
it was true, almost, that night."

"Cleo!"

"You tell him, Jenny."

"I! Why, he wouldn't listen to me, Cleo."

Cleo got up desperately, and began pacing the floor.

"I will not give Arthur up, Jenny. You don't know how I love him--love
him. I think day and night of him. I forgive him everything. He is cold
often, and I am humiliated at his indifference at times, but I go on
loving him better than ever. I can't help it;--I shall love him as long
as I live."

Jenny Davis watched her with anxious eyes. She had known her for some
years, had known her better qualities, her weaknesses, her strength; and
her heart ached for her. She was so beautiful, with a lithe, grand,
extraordinary beauty.

"Yes, Cleo," she said, slowly, "you are right. You must go away--right
at once. There is a party of English tourists going to Matsushima Bay
to-morrow. Pack a few things hastily and join them. I know them all
well, and you know some of them, too."

"Yes," the girl agreed, eagerly. "And you _will_ break it to him--you
will save me--that--that pain."

"I will try, Cleo." The two women were silent a moment. Then Mrs. Davis
said: "Cleo, does Arthur Sinclair know?"

Cleo's eyes were full of a vague terror "No--no--and he must not.
Jenny, he is so strict about such things--he would despise me; and then,
Mr. Takashima is his friend. He would not forgive me. Jenny, he _must_
not know." After a time she said, almost wildly: "Jenny, I hate
Takashima whenever I think of his alienating Arthur and me for even a
moment, as he would do if--if Arthur found out."



CHAPTER XXVIII.

JAPANESE PRIDE.


The next day Cleo left Tokyo with the party of tourists. Takashima, who
had called during the afternoon, found a note from her. It told him
simply that she had decided to make a trip through the island, and as
the party left that day she had no time save to write a hurried
good-bye. The letter was weak, conventional in its phrases, and
enigmatical. Had it been written to a westerner he would have understood
at once; in fact, her manner, long before this, would have raised doubts
as to her honesty toward him. It did not have that effect on Takashima,
because it is the nature of the Japanese to believe thoroughly in one
until they are completely undeceived. On returning home Orito found
waiting for him a dainty note from Mrs. Davis, asking him to call on
her.

It was a difficult task she had set herself--difficult even for a woman
of Mrs. Davis' social and worldly experience.

When Orito looked at her with grave, attentive eyes, in which were no
traces of distrust, she felt her heart begin to fail her before she had
said a word. They talked of the weather, of the flowers, of the month,
the foreigners in Tokyo, the pretty geisha girls--every subject save the
one she had at heart. Finally she dashed into it all at once, almost
desperately. Perhaps she had learned in that brief interview why it had
been so hard for Cleo to tell him, for the young man's face was so
earnest, pure, and true.

"Cleo has told me--I know all about that--and I--she told me to say--I
mean--I know about your--your caring for her, and----"

The Japanese had risen sharply to his feet. He was deathly pale.

"Will madam kindly not speak of this?" he said. "I can only speak with
Miss Ballard herself on this subject."

After he had left her Mrs. Davis sat down helplessly, and wrote a
flurried letter to Cleo.

"Dearest Cleo," it ran, "I tried to tell him; tried harder than I ever
tried to do anything in my life. But he would not let me speak--stopped
me as soon as I got started, and I had not the heart to insist."



CHAPTER XXIX.

SECLUSION.


Mrs. Davis had not seen Numè for some days. She had heard that the girl
was living in strict seclusion, as it was customary for Japanese girls
to do previous to their marriage. With a woman's quick wit and
comprehension, however, Mrs. Davis understood that she had taken
umbrage, and, perhaps, resented the lecture she had given her the night
of the party. She was afraid, too, that in her earnest desire to serve
both Cleo and Orito she had given Numè a false impression of Americans.
Mrs. Davis was a good woman, and a wise one. She was determined that
nothing on earth should prevent her friend's marriage with Sinclair. She
knew Cleo Ballard well enough to know the wonderful goodness and
generosity in her better nature. She knew also that she loved Sinclair
with a love that should have been her salvation. In spite of all this,
Mrs. Davis was genuinely fond of Numè, though not, of course, in the
same way as she was of Cleo. It pained her, therefore, to think that
Numè was probably suffering.

The day after Cleo left, she crossed the valley and went down to the
house of Watanabe Omi. With her usual sang-froid, she asked to see Numè.
Omi made some very polite apologies, saying his honorably unworthy
daughter was entertaining a friend, and would the august American lady
call the next day?

"No;" Mrs. Davis would like to see Numè's friend also; for Numè had told
her she wanted her to meet all of them.

She passed into the girl's room with the familiarity of old
acquaintance, for she and Numè had been great friends, and Omi thought
so much of her that the American lady had got into the habit of coming
and going into and out of his house just as she pleased, which was a
great concession and compliment for any Japanese to make to a foreigner.

She found Numè sitting with another Japanese girl, playing Karutta. They
laughed and talked as they played, and Numè seemed quite light-hearted
and happy.

[Illustration: PLAYING KARUTTA  PAGE 118.]

Mrs. Davis sat down on the mat beside her, and after having kissed her
very affectionately, asked why she had not been over for so long.

"I come visite you to-morrow," the girl answered, looking a trifle
ashamed, as Mrs. Davis regarded her reproachfully. Then, as she started
to make further apologies, the American lady said, very sweetly: "Never
mind, dear; I understand;--you did not like what I told you the other
night."

Numè did not answer. The other Japanese girl watched Mrs. Davis
curiously. Mrs. Davis turned smilingly to her and started to say
something, but stopped short, a look of puzzled recognition on her face.

"I am sure I have seen your friend somewhere before, but I can't tell
where," she said to Numè.

"Perhaps you seeing her at the tea garden, because Koto was, one time,
geisha girl."

"Why, of course! I remember now. She was the pretty little Japanese girl
who waited on us that day and made Rose Cranston so angry by flirting
with Tom."

The girl was smiling at Mrs. Davis. She too recognized her. Mrs. Davis
turned to Numè:

"I don't understand, Numè, how--how a geisha girl can be a friend of
yours," she said.

Numè looked very grave.

"Japanese lady _always_ have frien' who is also maid. Koto is my maid;
also my frien'."

"I understand," the American lady said thoughtfully.

Japanese ladies usually treat their maids more as sisters than as maids.
In fact, one of the duties of a maid is to act as companion to her
mistress. Hence, it is necessary that the maid be quite accomplished and
entertaining. Often a geisha girl will prefer to leave the tea-house
where she is employed, to take a position as companion and maid to some
kind and rich lady of the Kazoku and Samourai class, and in this way she
learns to be very gentle and polite in her manners by copying her little
mistress; besides, she will have a good home. It is a peculiar fact that
Japanese holding positions such as maid, or, for a man, perhaps as
retainer or valet, or even servant, become extremely devoted to their
masters and mistresses, remaining with them until they are married, and
sometimes preferring to remain with them after they have married, rather
than marry themselves. It is no uncommon thing for them to make
sacrifices, sometimes almost heroic ones, for their masters or
mistresses.



CHAPTER XXX.

FEMININE DIPLOMACY.


The next day Numè and Koto visited the American lady. Orito had gone up
to Yokohama, Numè told her, and would not be back for several days.

"You will be very lonely then, dear."

Numè sat in her favorite position, on the floor at Mrs. Davis' knee.
Koto trotted about the room, examining with extreme interest and
curiosity the American furnishings and decorations.

"No; I nod be lonely," Numè said, "because I nod seen Orito _many_
days--so I ged used."

"He must be a very bad boy to keep away from you so many days," Mrs.
Davis said, playfully.

"Oh, no! Orito is _vaery good_ boy." She sat still and thoughtful for a
while, her feet drawn under her, her little hands clasped in her lap.

"Do the pretty Americazan ladies always luf when they marry?"

"Nearly always, Numè."

Numè nodded her head thoughtfully. "Japanese girls nod _always_ luf,"
she said, wistfully. "Koto say only _geisha_ girls marry for luf."

"That must be because they are thrown into contact with men and boys,
while Japanese ladies are secluded. Is it not so, dear?"

"Ess. Mrs. Davees, do you lig' that I am goin' to marry Orito?"

"Yes, very much--I am sure you will be very happy with him. He is so
good. No one has said anything to you about--about it, have they?" she
added, anxiously, fearing perhaps the girl had heard of what Orito had
told his father.

"No," she said. "No one talk of luf to Numè bud Mrs. Davees; thad is why
Numè lig' to talk to you."

The American lady smiled.

"Suppose Japanese girl lig' instead some _nize, pretty_ genleman, and
she marry with some one she _nod_ like?" She emphasized this question,
and threw a charming glance at Mrs. Davis.

"Do you mean the case of a girl betrothed to one man and in love with
another?"

"Ess."

"Why, I don't know what she could do then, Numè. What put such an idea
into your head?"

Numè did not reply for a moment. Then she said, very shyly: "Numè _not_
lig' the big, ugly Americazan genleman any more. I telling him so."

"Numè!"

"Ess, I tell Mr. Sinka I _nod_ lig'--thad you telling me so."

"Well, Numè!" Mrs. Davis' voice betrayed her impatience. "What did you
do that for?"

The girl half shrugged her little shoulders.

"Oa! I dunno."

"Numè, you _must_ be careful how you speak to men. _Don't_ tell them
anything. If you like them, keep it to yourself; it's a good thing you
told him you disliked him, this time, and did not leave him with the
impression that you were in love with him. You know, dear, girls have to
be very careful who they like."

"Bud, Mr. Sinka tell me nod to let _any one_ choose for me--thad I
lig'"--she paused a moment, and added vaguely, "thad I lig' who I lig'."

"Really, Numè, you might take my advice before Mr. Sinclair's," the
older lady said, quite provoked.



CHAPTER XXXI.

A BARBARIAN DINNER.


The girls stayed to dinner with Mrs. Davis. Koto had never eaten an
American dinner before, though Numè had grown quite used to it.
Following the national custom, she ate all placed before her by her
hostess, and Mrs. Davis, knowing of this little habit of hers, which was
more an act of compliment to her hostess than of liking for the food,
was always very careful not to serve her too much. She quite forgot that
Koto would be altogether unused to the food. The two little Japanese
women presented a very pretty contrast. Both were small and, in their
way, pretty. Koto had a round-faced, bright-eyed, shy prettiness; while
Numè's face was oval and pure in contour. She chatted very happily and
confidently, now in Japanese to Koto, now in pretty broken English to
Mr. and Mrs. Davis.

Koto ate her dinner in silence, her face strangely white and pitiful.
Very bravely she ate the strange food, however, stopping at nothing. She
looked with wonder at the butter (something the Japanese never use),
puzzling for a moment what she was supposed to do with it, then picked
the little round pat from the butter-plate, slipped it into her tea, and
drank the tea.

Mr. Davis saw this act, and choked.

"What is the matter, Walter?"

"Er--er--hum--nothing, my dear! I--a--Oh, Lord!" This last ejaculation
was provoked by another act of Koto's. On the table was a small plate of
chowchow. The servant passed it to Koto, thinking perhaps she would like
some with her meat. Instead of helping herself to some, the girl held
the dish in her hand, hesitated a moment, and then very heroically ate
the hot stuff all up with the small china spoon in the dish. Her eyes
were full of tears when she had finished.

"What is it, Koto-san?" Numè asked, gently.

"It is the barbarian food," the girl answered, desperately, in Japanese.
"I do not like it."

Numè translated this to the Americans, apologizing for the remark by
saying:

"Koto _always_ been geisha girl. Tha's why she is nod _most_ careful in
her speech. It was _most_ rude that she spik' so of the kind
Americazan's food, _bud_ the geisha girl is _only_ stylish, and nod
understan' to spik' polite to foreigners."

This elaborate, rather mixed apology, the Americans took very
good-naturedly, telling Numè to assure Koto that they bore her no malice
whatever, and that, in fact, they owed her an apology for not having
remembered that she was a stranger to their food. Besides, the Americans
were just as foolish when they had eaten Japanese food.



CHAPTER XXXII.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF LOVE.


After dinner Numè resumed her seat by Mrs. Davis, while her husband took
Koto through the house, glad of an opportunity to air his limited
knowledge of Japanese; for Numè seldom permitted them to address her
save in English, pretending to make great fun of their Japanese in order
to make them speak English to her. They, on the other hand, always
praised her English extravagantly.

"I want you to promise me, Numè, that you will never tell any man you
care for him again, unless it is Orito."

"Why shall I _promise_?" the girl asked.

"Because it is not the right thing to say to any one."

"But if I luf----"

"Nonsense; you are not going to love except as all good Japanese girls
do--after your marriage."

"But you say one time thad is _shame_ for me thad I only luf _after_ I
marry."

"Well, I have been thinking it over," the other answered, a trifle
rattled--"and--and really, you are all so happy with things that way I
wouldn't advise your changing the custom."

"Bud Japanese girl luf a _liddle_ before they marry. After marriage big
bit. Koto say geisha girl luf _big_ bit _before_ they marry. Koto luf
vaery much Japanese boy in Tokyo----"

"That is good, and are they to be married?"

"Ah, no; because he worg _vaery_ hard to mag' money, but Koto say mag'
_vaery_ liddle money, so she come worg' for me, and save--_afterward_
they marry _vaery_ habby."

Numè looked at the American lady with eyes full of wistful wondering: "I
thing' I lig' vaery much thad I luf and be habby too. Numè nod know thad
she luf Orito _vaery_ much--Ess, she luf him _vaery_ much,
bud--sometimes I thing' I nod _luf_ him _too_ much; sometimes I thing'
mebbe Orito nod luf _me_ too much."

"Of course, you do love him, goosie. Now, don't begin thinking you
don't, because one often convinces oneself of things that are not
actually so."

"Bud I do _nod_ thing' much of Orito," the girl contradicted; and added,
shyly: "I thing', instead, of Mr. Sinka--but I not lig'--No! Numè nod
lig' Mr. Sinka;" she shook her head violently.

Mrs. Davis called all the argument she could to her aid.

"You ought not to think of him, Numè; that is wicked, because he belongs
to some one else."

The girl's face had lost its wistfulness. Now it was arch and
complacent.

"Perhaps Numè is _vaery_ wigged," she smiled. "Koto say all girls thad
are habby are wigged."

"Koto is a bad girl if she told you that. Don't let her teach you about
the geisha girls, dear--Er--every one knows they are not a good class,
at all."

Numè tossed her head provokingly. "All the _same_, Numè still _thing'_
of Mr. Sinka."

Her persistence astounded Mrs. Davis. She felt almost like shaking the
girl; and yet there was something so sweet and innocent in her openly
acknowledging that she thought of Sinclair.

She had not been out much, nor had she seen many people since the night
of the party. Therefore, it was quite natural that, as Sinclair had made
such an impression on her that night, she should think about him a great
deal. Moreover, Koto, with a geisha girl's usual flippancy and love of
anything savoring of romance, had perhaps fostered this feeling. The
girls had discussed him.

Ever since he had told his father of his love for the American girl,
Orito had been very kind to her, though sometimes Numè fancied he wished
to tell her something. Her interest in Sinclair had not spoiled her
loyalty to Orito, which she had felt and cultivated all these years.
Koto had encouraged her in the idea of flirting with the American. That
was all. She never for an instant thought of breaking off her betrothal
with Orito. She had grown used to that, and, unlike Orito, she had not
been in America, so that she still was Japanese enough to be obedient.
Besides, she really did love Orito in a way that she herself did not
comprehend. Because, although it pleased her very much to be with him,
to chat and tell him all the news of the neighborhood in which they
lived, ask his advice and opinion on different subjects, yet her mind
kept constantly wandering from him, and she could call up no genuine
warmth or enthusiasm in her affection for him. The truth was, her love
for him was merely that of a young sister for a very dear brother, one
from whom she had been parted for a long time.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

WHAT CAN THAT "LUF" BE?


Perhaps Orito recognized this fact, and for that reason seldom wearied
her with over-attention. He was tenderness itself to her; he took great
interest in all her studies; played games with her and Koto; and tried
in every way possible to make things pleasant for her. In this way a
very dear sympathy had sprung up between them. Although Orito had told
her nothing directly of his plans, yet he had often tried to give her
some inkling of the state of affairs. Thus, he would say: "I will be
your friend and brother forever, Numè-san."

Numè had a peculiar temperament for a Japanese girl. Although apparently
open and ingenuous and artless in all things, nevertheless where she
chose to be she could keep her own counsel, and one might almost have
accused her of being sly. But then the girl was far from being as
childish, or as innocent and contented, as she seemed at times. On the
contrary, her nature was self-willed almost to stubbornness. She either
loved one with all her strength, or she was indifferent, or she hated
one fiercely. There was nothing lukewarm about her. Perhaps when she
should meet the one to whom she could give her heart, she would give it
with a passion that would shake every fibre of her little body. This
was the reason why she was restless in her betrothal to Orito.

She instinctively felt her capability for a deeper love. The Japanese
are not, as a rule, a demonstrative people. It is said to be a weakness
to love before marriage, though a great many do so, especially those who
are thrown into contact with the opposite sex to any extent. Numè knew
this, and strove bravely to live up to the popular idea. She did not, as
yet, understand her own self, nor was she cognizant of the possibilities
for feeling which were latent in her. She attributed her restlessness
solely to the fact that she was so soon to be married. She had not
analyzed the word "love." It had only existed in her vocabulary since
she had known the Americans. She had tired Mrs. Davis out asking
questions about it. "Was this luf good?" "Was it wrong to luf too many
people?" "Why must she not tell when she lufed any one?" "Did the pretty
Americazan ladies luf their husbands, and was that why they were always
so proud and beautiful?" "She" (Numè) "would like to luf too."--"How
would she know it?"

These almost unanswerable questions, and many others, she put to Mrs
Davis, that lady answering them as sagely and wisely as possible, the
natural love of romance prompting her to encourage the girl to talk so,
but her desire to give only such advice as would keep her from thinking
of Sinclair causing her to modify her answers so that they might suit
the case. The worst of the matter was that although Numè would thank her
very sweetly for any information on the subject, she had a lingering
doubt that she ever wholly believed her, and that, in spite of her
advice, the girl would willfully permit her thoughts to run riot. No!
the Americazan lady could not prevent Numè from thinking of whom she
chose.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

CONSPIRATORS.


This visit to Mrs. Davis' house broke the retirement Omi and Numè had
planned for themselves. Besides, the girl was tired of the seclusion,
and wanted to go out once more. And Omi had lost a good deal of the old
interest in his daughter that he had had before Orito had told him of
his love for the American girl. He was still very strict with her, at
times; but soon he got into the habit of neglecting her, and would go
over to the house of Sachi, where the two old men would sit mournfully
together, neither of them alluding in any way to their children; so that
Numè was left a great deal to herself, and allowed to do pretty much as
she liked. She and Koto would start out in the mornings with their
lunches in tiny baskets, and would spend the entire day on the hills, or
the shores of the Hayama, wandering idly in the cool shade of the trees,
or gathering pebbles and shells on the shore. Sometimes they would join
parties of young Japanese girls and boys, who came up to the hills from
a little village near there. They were the children of fishermen, and
were plump and healthy and happy. Numè and Koto would play with them as
joyously as if they, themselves, were children.

One day when Numè and Koto were in the woods alone together, and Numè
had made Koto tell her over and over again of the gay life of the geisha
girls in Tokyo, Numè said:

"Koto-san, let us some day go up to Tokyo alone. Lots of girls now
travel alone, and we are so near the city. We would not let my father
know, and as he is away with Takashima Sachi all day, he would never
miss us. No one will recognize us in the city, or if they do they'll
think we are there with some friends, but it is common for two girls to
be together in the city, is it not, Koto?"

Koto said it was, but looked a trifle scared at this proposal. However,
she was as eager as Numè to carry it out, for they had both grown very
tired of the quietness of their life; especially Koto, who was used to
the noisy city. She entered into the project at once.

"Let me go first to the city alone to-morrow," she said, "and I will
tell your father that I have business to do there; then I will go and
make arrangements at a jinrikisha stand to send a special vehicle to
meet us each day--or every other day."

"And will we see Shiku?" Numè asked.

Koto's face beamed.

"If you say so, Numè-san--if you will permit."

"Why, of course I will," Numè said, excitedly. "Where will we see him?"

"I will tell him to meet us. He works for the American consul, and he is
very good to Shiku."

Numè looked at her narrowly.

"Do you know, Koto-san, that the American consul is the Mr. Sinka I tell
you of?"

"No; Shiku calls him only 'master sir,' and 'the consul.'"

Numè was silent a moment.

"And will we see the consul also, Koto?"

"Oh, no! because if we do not want any one to know we must be very
careful not to be recognized."

So the two girls planned, and the next day Koto went up to the city and
made every arrangement.



CHAPTER XXXV.

A RESPITE FOR SINCLAIR.


It was about two weeks later. Orito had not returned from Yokohama,
neither had Cleo Ballard returned from Matsushima. She was enchanted
with the beauty of the wonderful bay, and after the strain she had been
under in Tokyo, it was a great relief for her to be away from the noise
of the city in a spot that suggested only beauty and rest.

Sinclair had not accompanied them on the trip. He had been somewhat
surprised at the haste in which it had been undertaken, and had told
Cleo that unless he could travel leisurely he did not care to go at all;
besides, he never enjoyed traveling with a large party of tourists,
preferring to go alone with one congenial companion. However, he urged
her to go, saying that he might run down himself and join them in a few
days.

After the departure of the party he was left almost entirely to himself.
He found time for looking about him. It was a relief for the time being
to feel free once more, and to come and go as he chose; whereas, when
the Ballards were in the city, he had always felt in duty bound to be
with them constantly, and to place himself and his time entirely at
their disposal. Sinclair was not looking well. He had grown thin and
nervous, and there was a harassed look about his usually sunny face.
Sinclair was by no means an extraordinary or brilliant man. He was
easy-going in disposition, a trifle stern and harsh to those he
disliked, but as a rule genial and easy to get on with. He was a
favorite both with men and women. He was too good-natured to be a strong
man, perhaps, and was easily swayed by his own likes and dislikes.

His engagement worried him more than he cared to admit. He told himself
constantly that he ought to be happy, that nine men out of ten would
have envied him Cleo. He recognized that she was good and generous, as
well as beautiful; but yet all this seemed rather to paralyze his
efforts to love her than otherwise. He knew her beauty and charms too
well. When a man admits to himself that he has summed up all a woman's
charms, then be sure affection begins to wane; for where there is love
the lover is constantly discovering new charms, and, in fact, even those
he has known are ever new to him.

Sinclair was weary. The prospect of his marriage appalled him. Even the
beauty of the country, in which he had hitherto taken such great
delight, ceased to interest him. It was replete with sadness now. The
girl's departure was an unconscious respite and relief to him.

After they had left he threw himself into the actual joy of living,
which life in Japan always suggests. He succumbed to the _dolce far
niente_ of the atmosphere, went out into the country, with his Japanese
interpreter and office boy, and even on two or three occasions visited
the tea-houses and frivolled away a few dreamy hours with the
light-hearted geishas.

Often he and an English traveler named Taylor would find a quiet spot on
the Hayama, where they would spend the entire day fishing, a favorite
pastime of Sinclair's. Shiku would accompany them, carrying their rods
and the Englishman's sketching apparatus, for in a quiet, unobtrusive
fashion Taylor was quite a clever artist, though he painted almost
entirely for his own pleasure. He would often desert the rod for the
brush and leave Sinclair to fish alone, while he tried to reproduce
parts of the exquisite, incomparable landscape; for, as some clever
Japanese poet has described the scenery in Japan, it consists of
"precious jewels in little caskets," and that within the vicinity of
Fuji-Yama, from many points of which a distant view of the peerless
mountain can be seen, is one of the most beautiful of all the lovely
spots in Japan.

Taylor was of an uncommunicative, reticent nature,--strong and staunch.
Between the two men an inexplicable friendship had sprung up, one that
partook of no confidence betwixt them, but showed itself simply in the
pleasure they took in being together.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

THOSE BAD JINRIKISHA MEN.


One balmy day in June, when the woods were so still that scarce a leaf
stirred on the branches of the trees that shaded a spot along the Hayama
where the two friends were fishing and smoking together, they were
aroused from a pleasing silence by voices on the road which ran curving
along the river bank only a short distance from where they sat. They
were women's voices, and they were raised in protest. The Englishman
lazily puffed on at his pipe, saying laconically:

"Some damned jinrikisha man, I suppose. Got a nasty habit, some of them,
of demanding extra fare of women when they get them well on the road,
and then, if they don't pay, won't carry them any further."

The American turned to Shiku:

"Go and see what you can do, Shiku."

Shiku ran lithely through the small bush that separated them from the
road. After a time he came back, his face flushed and indignant.

"The lady has forgot to bring more money than the fare, and now the
runners will charge more."

Sinclair stopped watching the line at the end of his rod. He put his
hand carelessly into his trousers pocket, pulling out a handful of
small change. "How much is it, Shiku?"

"Fifteen sen."

"Here you are."

"Wait a moment," said the Englishman, slowly, pulling in his line. "I'll
just step over with you, and punch his head for him."

Sinclair smiled to himself as he watched his tall, strong figure
disappear among the trees. As he did not return for some time, Sinclair
also drew in his line, and sauntered toward the road. Taylor was not
bullying the runners. Instead, he was listening very attentively to the
little Japanese women in the jinrikisha, who seemed tearful and excited.
As Sinclair came nearer to them he caught what one of them was saying:

"An' I bring no _more_ moaneys." The halting English struck him with a
pleased ring of familiarity. He turned sharply to look at her face. It
was Numè!



CHAPTER XXXVII.

THOSE GOOD JINRIKISHA MEN.


It did not take Sinclair long to learn the source of her trouble. It
seems she and Koto had been making trips to Tokyo, and had made special
arrangements with a jinrikisha man to take them for so much per week.
Unfortunately, two new runners had been given to them that day. Like the
rest of their class, they were unscrupulous and, consequently, as soon
as they were in a portion of the road from which the girls could not
attempt either to walk to the city or to their home, they had stopped to
demand extra fare. This the girls could not pay them, having no more
with them. Thereupon the runners had refused to carry them farther. It
was in this pitiful plight the two men had found them.

Sinclair reprimanded the men very severely, threatening to report them
to the police, as soon as he returned to Tokyo. He could not be too
harsh, however, because at heart he was thanking them for giving him
this happy chance to see Numè again.

How pretty she looked in the soft kimona! He had only seen her in
conventional American evening dress. It had seemed to him, then,
wonderfully lovely and suited to her; now he thought it incongruous when
compared to the Japanese gown on her.

"You must have been awfully frightened," he said; "better stop a while
until you are composed;" then, as the girls hesitated, "I'll fix it all
right with the runners." He did so, and soon all were in good humor. As
for Numè and Koto, they stepped daintily, almost fearfully, from the
jinrikisha, and followed the two men to the pretty shaded spot, leaving
the jinrikisha men with their vehicles to take care of themselves.

Sinclair noticed that the Englishman seemed to know Numè. He addressed
her as Miss Watanabe, and inquired after Mrs. Davis.

"You have met before, I see," he remarked.

"Ess," the girl smiled; and Taylor repeated the incident of how he had
spoken to her father of the girl's beauty.

"Did I offend you?" he asked the girl.

"Ess."

Both Sinclair and Taylor laughed heartily at her assent, and the two
girls joined in, scarcely knowing what they were laughing at, but
feeling strangely happy and free.

Numè called their attention to Koto, telling them she was her friend and
maid. Sinclair recognized the girl almost immediately as she smiled at
him.

"And so you have been making almost daily trips to Tokyo?" he said,
wondering at the girl's skill in evading detection.

"Ess--we become so _lonely_."

"Well, it's a jolly shame to shut you up like they do the women here,"
Taylor said, with a vivid memory of how the girl had been kept under
such rigid seclusion after his conversation with her father. Taylor
began fumbling with his sketching tools.

"Will you let me paint you, Miss Numè?" he asked. "I'll make the sky a
vivid blue behind you, and paint you like a bright tropic flower
standing out against it."

The girl looked at Sinclair standing behind Taylor. He shook his head at
her.

"No," she said, with exaggerated dignity, "Numè does not wish to be
painted."

"Well, what about Koto?"

Koto nodded her head in undisguised pleasure at the prospect.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

DISPROVING A PROVERB.


While Taylor sketched Koto, Sinclair and Numè wandered away from them,
and finding a pretty shady spot sat down together. The girl was
strangely shy, though she did not pretend to hide the artless pleasure
she had in seeing him again.

"What have you been doing with yourself all these days, Numè?"

"Nosing."

"I thought you had been making sly trips to Tokyo?"

"I was _so lonely_," the girl said, sadly.

"You ought to be very happy now--now that your marriage is assured."

"Numè is nod _always_ habby," she answered, wistfully. "Sometimes I tell
Mrs. Davees I am nod _vaery_, VAERY habby, an' she laf at me, tell me I
donno how habby I am."

"But why are you not always happy?"

"I _don't_ to understand. I thing' thad I want to--" she looked Sinclair
in the face with serious, wistful eyes--"I thing' I want to be luf," she
said.

Sinclair felt the blood rush to his head in a torrent at this strange,
ingenuous confession. The girl's sweet face fascinated him strangely. He
had thought of her constantly ever since he had met her. With her
strange, foreign, half-wild beauty, she awakened in him all the
slumbering passion of his nature, and at the same time, because of her
sweetness, innocence and purity of heart, a finer sense of chivalry than
he had ever felt before--a wish to protect her.

"You do not need to wish to be loved, Numè--every one who knows you must
love you."

"Koto luf me," she said, "tha's all. My fadder _vaery_ proud of me
sometimes, an' thad I marry with Orito; Orito luf me a liddle, liddle
bit--Mrs. Davees--vaery good friend--you----" she paused, looking at him
questioningly. Then she added, shyly:

"You are _vaery_ good friend too, I thing'."

Sinclair had forgotten everything save the witching beauty of the girl
at his side. She continued speaking to him:

"Are you habby, too?" she asked.

"Sometimes, Numè; not always."

"Mrs. Davees tell me thad you luf the pretty Americazan lady all with
your heart, an' thad you marry with her soon, so Numè thing' you _mus'_
be vaery habby."

Sinclair made a nervous gesture, but he did not answer Numè. After a
while he said:

"Numè, one does not always love where one marries."

"No--in Japan naever; bud Mrs. Davees say nearly always always in
America."

"Mrs. Davis is wrong this time, Numè."

About a half hour later he heard Taylor calling to them.

"Numè," he said, as he helped her rise to her feet, "I know a pretty
spot on the river not far from your home. Won't you and Koto come there
instead of going all the way to Tokyo?"

The girl nodded her head. As they started up the hill she said: "Mrs.
Davees tell me _not_ to say too much to you."

"Don't put any bar on your speech, Numè. There is nothing you may not
say;" he paused, "but--er--perhaps you had better not say anything to
_her_ about our meeting."

He was strangely abstracted as he and Taylor trudged back to their
hotel. The Englishman glanced at him sideways.

"Nice little girl, that--Numè-san."

Taylor stopped in the walk to knock the ash from his pipe against a huge
oak tree.

"Hope she is not like the rest of them."

"What do you mean?"

"Ah--well, don't you know--lots of fire and all that--but as for
heart--ever hear the old saying: 'A Japanese flower has no smell, and a
Japanese woman no heart'?"

The perfume-laden blossoms and flowers about them stole their sweetness
into his nostrils even as he spoke. Perhaps Sinclair recognized this.

"It is doubtless as untrue of the woman as the flower. Ah--pretty good
smelling flowers those over there, eh?" He plucked a couple of wild
flowers that resembled the pink.

"Well, I guess the poet--or--fool--who said that alluded only to the
national flower--the chrysanthemum," Taylor said.

"Apparently--yes; he was a fool;--didn't know what he was talking
about."



CHAPTER XXXIX.

LOVE!


Summer in the woods--summer in Japan! Ah! the poet Hitomaru sang truly
over a thousand years ago, when he said: "Japan is not a land where men
need pray, for 'tis itself divine." It seemed as if the Creator had
expended all the wealth of his passion and soul in the making of Nippon
(Japan) the land of beauty. It pulsated with a warm, wild, luxuriant
beauty; the sun seemed to shine more broadly over that fair island,
kissed and bathed it in a perpetual glow until the skies and the waters,
which in their clearness mirrored its glory, became as huge rainbows of
ever-changing and brilliant colors. Color is surely contagious; for the
wild birds, that sang deliriously, wore coats that dazzled the eye; the
grass and flowers, the trees and blossoms were tinged with a beauty
found nowhere else on earth; and even the human inhabitants caught the
spirit of the Color Queen and fashioned their garments to harmonize with
their surroundings. So, also, the artists of Japan painted pictures that
had no shadows, and the people built their houses and colored them in
accord with nature.

What spirit of romance and enchantment lurked in every woodland path,
every rippling brook or stream! Sinclair was intoxicated with the
beauty of the country. It is true he had lived there nearly three years
now, but never had it struck him as being so gloriously lovely. Why was
there an added charm and beauty to all things in life? Why was there
music even in the drone of the crickets in the grass? Sinclair was in
love! Love, the great beautifier, had crept into his heart, unseen. Numè
knew it--knew that Sinclair loved her. From the first he had never even
tried to battle against the growing love for Numè which was consuming
him, so that he thought of nothing else, night or day. His letters to
Cleo Ballard grew wandering and nervous, or he did not write at all to
her. He would neglect official business to meet Numè on the banks of the
Hayama, and spend whole days in her company, with no one by them save
the wee things of nature, and within call of Koto and Shiku. Neither did
Numè struggle against or make any resistance. With all the force of her
intense nature she returned his love. And it was the awakening of this
love in her that had taught her to be discreet. She had taken the lesson
well to heart that Mrs. Davis had taught her--to tell no man she loved
him even if she did love him.

"Orito is coming home neg's weeg," she told him one morning.

Sinclair drew his breath in sharply.

"It will mean, then, the end of our--our happy days in the woods."

Numè was feeling perverse. Why did not Mr. Sinka tell her he cared for
her--did he love the beautiful American lady more than he did her?

"Oh, no--_not_ the end, Mr. Sinka," she said; and added, cruelly,
"Orito can come, too."

It was the first time she had ever seemed to trifle with him. Hitherto
she had always been so gentle and lovable. He felt a pain at his heart,
and his eyes were quite stern and contracted.

"Numè," he said, almost harshly, "you--you surely hold our meetings more
sacred than that. You know they would lose their essence of happiness
and freedom, with the intrusion of a third party."

The girl was filled with remorse, in an instant.

"Ess, Mr. Sinka," she said. "Please forgive bad Numè."

"Forgive you, Numè!" He turned his eyes reluctantly from the girl's
flushed face. "Oh! little witch," he whispered, holding her hands with a
passionate fierceness. "You tempt me so--tempt me to forget everything
save that I am with you."

She let her hands rest in his a moment. Then she withdrew them and rose
to her feet restlessly. Sinclair rose also, looking at her with yearning
in his face.

"Why do you speag lig' thad, Mr. Sinka?" she asked.

"Numè, Numè, don't you understand--don't you know?"

"No! Numè does _not_ onderstand Americazan. Mrs. Davees tell me thad the
Americazan genleman mag' luf to poor liddle Japanese women, but he nod
really luf--only laf at her."

A cold anger crept over Sinclair.

"So she has been telling you some more yarns?"

"No; she telling thad yarns long, long time ago."

He recovered himself with an effort.

"I won't make love to you, Numè," he said, bitterly. "You need not
fear."

In his misery at his helplessness and inability to tell the girl how
much he loved and wanted her, he was doubting her,--wondering whether it
were indeed the truth that a Japanese woman had no heart. A feeling of
utter misery came over him as he thought that perhaps Numè had been only
playing with him, that her shy, seeming pleasure in being with him was
all assumed. He looked down at the girl beside him. Perhaps she felt
that look. She raised her little head and smiled at him, smiled
confidently, almost lovingly. His doubts vanished.

"Numè--Numè!" was all he said; but he kissed her little hands at parting
with a vehemence and passion he had never known.



CHAPTER XL.

A PASSIONATE DECLARATION.


"Koto," Numè said that night, as the maid brushed her hair till it shone
bright and glossy as the shining jade-stone she placed before the huge
Buddha when she visited the Kawnnon temple, "Mr. Sinka luf me."

"I know," the other said, quite complacently, and as though she had
never had even the smallest doubt about it.

"Why, Koto," Numè turned around in surprise, "how do you know?"

"Shiku tell me first. He say always the august consul carry with him the
flowers you give him, and he leave his big work for to come and see
you."

Numè smiled happily.

"Do you think he will love me forever, Koto?"

"Ah, no!" Koto answered, elaborately; "because the august consul is to
marry with the honorably august American woman in two months now, and of
course he love only his wife then."

This answer displeased Numè. She spoke quite sharply to Koto. "But he
tells me love never dies; that when he will love somebody he love her
only forever."

Koto shrugged her shoulders.

"Americans are very funny. I do not understand them."

The next day Numè asked Sinclair whether he thought it possible for one
who was married to love any one else besides his wife.

"Yes, Numè, it is possible," he said.

Then an idea struck him that she was thinking of her own case and her
approaching marriage to Orito.

"I don't believe in such marriages," he said. "I would despise a woman
who loved one man and married another." Numè smiled sadly.

"Ah, Mr. Sinka, that's _vaery mos'_ sad thad you despising poor liddle
womans. Will you despise _also_ grade big mans who do same thing?"

Then Sinclair comprehended. His face was quite haggard.

"Oh, Numè, Numè-san," he almost groaned, "what can I do?" The girl was
silent, waiting for his confidence.

"You understand, Numè, don't you--understand that I love you?"

The girl quivered with his passion, for a moment, then she stood still
in the path, a quiet, questioning, almost accusing, little figure.

"But soon you will marry with the red-haired lady," she said.

"No! I cannot!" he burst out, passionately. "I won't give you up! Numè,
I--I will try to free myself. It must not be, now. It would be wronging
all of us. Sweetheart, I never cared for her. I never loved any one in
the world but you, and I think I loved you even that first night. I will
tell her all about it, Numè. She is a good woman, and will give me my
freedom. Then she will go back to America, and we will be married and be
together here--in this garden of Eden." He was holding her little hands
in his now, and looking into her face hungrily.

"Think of it, Numè," he repeated; "only you and I together--always
together--no more parting at the turn of the road--no more long, long
nights alone. Oh! Numè! Numè!"

"But Orito?" she said, with pitiful pain. "Ah! my father would surely
kill me. You dunno my people."

"Yes, I do, sweetheart. You must tell them--they will forgive in
time--promise me, Numè--sweetheart."

He drew her towards him, but the girl still held back.

"Wait," she cried, almost in terror. "We _mus'_ be sure firs' _thad_ my
father, _thad_ Orito will not killing me."

"Kill you!" the man scoffed at the idea.

"Bud Numè is afraid," she persisted, and pulled her little hands
desperately from his. She ran a little way from him, a sudden feeling of
shyness and terror possessing her.

"Koto!" she called.

At the bend of the road where they were wont to part Sinclair helped her
into the waiting jinrikisha. Her little hand rested against his sleeve
for a moment. She was not afraid now--now that Koto was with her, and
the runners were watching them. She was not afraid to let him read her
little heart now. Such a look of tenderness and love and passion was in
her small flower face as filled Sinclair with a wild elation.

"My little passion flower," he whispered, and bending kissed her little
hand fervently.



CHAPTER XLI.

A HARD SUBJECT TO HANDLE.


When the girls reached their home that afternoon they found Mrs. Davis
waiting for them. Numè, who thrilled with a joy she herself could not
comprehend, ran to her, and putting her arms about her neck, clung with
a sudden passion to her.

"Oh, Numè is so habby," she said.

Mrs. Davis undid the clinging arms, and looked the girl in the face.
Then Numè noticed for the first time that the American lady was
unusually silent, and seemed almost offended about something. Numè tried
to shake off the loving mood that still lingered with her, for where one
is in love there is a desire to caress and shower blessings everywhere,
and on all living creatures. So it was with Numè.

"I want to have a talk with you, Numè dear," Mrs. Davis, said, gravely;
and then turning coldly to Koto she added, "No, not even Koto must
stay." The little maid left them together.

"Numè, how could you be so sly?"

"Sly!" the girl was startled.

"Yes--to think that all these weeks when you have been pretending to be
alone with Koto in the woods, you have been meeting Mr. Sinclair."

The girl turned on her defiantly.

"I nod telling you account tha's nod business for you."

"Well, Numè!"

"I getting vaery lonely, and meeting only by accident with Mr. Sinka."

"Does your father know?" the other asked, relentlessly.

The girl approached her with terror. "No! Oh, Mrs. Davees, _don't_ tell
yet." After a time she asked her: "How did _you_ know?"

"I learned it by accident through a clerk at the consulate. How he
knows--and how many others know of it, I cannot say." She almost wrung
her hands in her distress. She saw it was no use being angry with Numè,
and that she might do more by being patient with her. She had learned
merely the fact of Sinclair's being in the woods each day with a
Japanese girl. This had set her to thinking; Koto's and Numè's long
absences in the country each day--a few questions and a handful of sen
to the runners who had been loitering in her vicinity for some days now
with their vehicles, and she soon knew the truth.

Just how far things had gone between Sinclair and Numè she must find out
from the girl herself, though she was not prepared to trust her
completely when she realized how Numè had deceived her all these weeks.
She was determined to help Cleo, and felt almost guilty when she
remembered that she had urged the girl to make the trip which might
result in so much disaster to her, for Jenny Davis knew Cleo Ballard
well enough to know that it would break her heart to give Sinclair up
now, after all the years she had waited for him.

"Numè," she said, quite sadly, "don't look at me so resentfully. I want
only to do my duty by you and my friend. Let me be your friend. Oh!
Numè, if you had confided in me we could have avoided all this."

Numè had a tender spot in her heart for Mrs. Davis, who had always been
so good to her.

"_Forgive_ Numè," she said, impulsively, and for a moment the two women
clung together, the American woman almost forgetting, for the moment,
everything save the girl's sweet spontaneity and impulsiveness. Then she
pulled herself together, remembering Cleo.

"Numè, tell me just what--just how--all about the--the meetings with Mr.
Sinclair."

The girl shook her head, flushed and rebellious.

"Me? I _nod_ tell. Mr. Sinka tell me--all _too saked_."

Mrs. Davis caught her breath.

"He told you--told you the--the--meetings were sacred?"

Numè nodded:

"Ess."

"Then he is not an honorable man, Numè, because he is betrothed to
another woman."

"Bud he writing her to breag'," the girl said, triumphantly.

"He write to--Numè, what are you talking about? Are you conscienceless?
When did he write--what?"

"He say he writing soon, and I telling Orito, too."

The girl's complacency cut Mrs. Davis to the quick. She forgot all about
Cleo's flirtations. She remembered only that Cleo was her dearest
friend--that this strange Japanese girl might cause her immeasurable
trouble and pain, and that she must do something to prevent it.

"Numè, you can't really care for--for Sinclair."

"Ess--I luf," the girl interrupted, softly.

"Come and sit at my knee, Numè, like--like you used to do. So! now I
will tell you a little story. How hot your little head is--you are
tired? No? Oh, Numè, Numè, you have been a very foolish--very cruel
little girl." Nevertheless, she bent and kissed the wistful upturned
face.



CHAPTER XLII.

A STORY.


"Once there was a young girl," Mrs. Davis began, "who was born in a
beautiful city away across the seas. She was just as beautiful and
good--as--as you are, Numè. But, although the city was very beautiful in
which she lived, she had very little in her life to make her happy. She
lived all alone in a house so big that the halls and stairways were as
long as--as the pagodas. She seldom saw her father because he was always
away traveling, and, besides, he did not love children much. Her mother
was always sick, and when the little girl came near her she would fret
and worry, and say that the little girl made her nervous. So she grew up
very, very hungry for some one to love her. After a time, when she
became a beautiful young lady, many men thought they loved her; but she
had grown so used to not loving, and to not being loved by any one, that
she never could care for any of them. At last there came one man who
seemed different to her from all the others. And, Numè, he fell in love
with her--and she loved him. Oh! you don't know how much they loved each
other. They were with each other constantly, and, and,--are you tired?"
she interrupted herself to ask the girl, who had moved restlessly.

"No."

"Well, Numè, then her lover, that she loved so much you would have
cried to have seen her, went far, far away from her to take a fine
position, and he promised her faithfully that he would love only her,
and would send for her soon. So the girl waited. But he did not send for
her soon, Numè. He kept putting off and putting off--till three long
years had passed; and all this time she had been true to him--waiting
for him only to say the word to come. Then, at last, he wrote to her,
asking her to come to him all the way across the seas--thousands and
thousands of miles, and she left her beautiful home, and came with her
sick mother to join him."

Numè's eyes were fastened on her face with a look of intense interest.

"Ess?" she said, as the American lady paused.

"When she reached him she found he had changed--though she had not. He
was cold, and always bored; kind to her at times, and indifferent at
others. Still, she loved him so much she forgave him, and was so sweet
and gentle to him that even he began to melt and began to be kinder to
her, and all, Numè, would have turned out happily, and he would have
loved her as he used to, only--only----" she paused in her story. She
had exaggerated and drawn on her imagination strongly in order to make
an impression on Numè; for she knew the girl's weakness lay in her
tender heart.

"_Only_ whad, Mrs. Davees?"

"Numè--the girl was Miss Ballard--the man Mr. Sinclair. Oh, Numè, you
don't want to separate them now after all these years. Think how cruel
it would be. It would kill her, and----"

Numè had risen to her feet. She looked out at the burning blaze of the
oriental landscape, the endless blue of the fields--at the misty
mountains in the distance. She was trying to reason. The first real
trouble of her life had come to her. She thought of all to whom she
would bring sorrow should she yield to Sinclair; of the two old fathers,
for she knew nothing as yet of what Orito had told them. She thought of
the beautiful American girl, and remembered the look on her face that
night of the ball. She wondered how she would have felt in her place.
Her voice was quite subdued and hushed as she turned to Mrs. Davis.

"Numè will marry _only_ Orito," she said. "Numè will tell Mr. Sinka so."

The other woman put her arms around the girl and attempted to draw her
to her with the old affection; but Numè shrank strangely from her, and
perhaps half the pleasure at her success was lost as Mrs. Davis saw the
look of mute suffering in the girl's face.



CHAPTER XLIII.

THE TRUTH OF THE PROVERB.


It was with a heart full of yearning and love that Sinclair waited for
Numè the next day. She was late; or was it that that last look of hers
had turned his head so that he had come earlier than usual to the spot,
unable to wait the appointed time?

He found himself planning their future together. How he would love
her--his bright tropic flower, his pure shining star--his singing bird.
Every leaf that stirred startled him. He tried to absorb himself in the
beauty of the country, but his restlessness at her failure to come
caused him to go constantly to the road and see if there were any signs
of her.

At last he heard the faint, unmistakable beat, beat, beat of sandaled
runners. They started his blood throbbing wildly through his veins. She
was coming--the woman he loved, the dear little woman who had told him
she loved him--not in words--but with that last parting, sweet look; and
oh! Numè was too sweet, too genuine, too pure, to deceive.

As he helped her from the jinrikisha and looked at her with all his
pent-up longing and eagerness, she turned her head aside with a
constrained look. Koto stayed close by her, and refused to take any
suggestion from Sinclair to leave them alone together.

Numè began to talk hastily, and as though she could not wait.

"We have had lots of fon, Mr. Sinka?"

"Fun!--why, Numè!"

She opened her little fan and shaded her face a moment.

"Ess--Numè and all Japanese girl luf to have fon."

"Numè--I don't like that word. It is inapplicable in our case."

He tried to take her hand in his, but it clung persistently to her fan,
while the other remained hidden in the folds of her robe.

"My little girl is quite cross," he said, thinking she was trying to
tease him.

"No! Numè nod mos' _vaery_ cross;" after a moment she added, in a hard
voice: "Numè does nod _want_ to have any _more_ fon." She clung to that
word persistently.

"You do not want any more fun, Numè!" he repeated, slowly; "I don't
understand you."

"Ess--it is _all_ fon," she said. "All fon thad we pretending to luf."

"All fun?" he echoed, stupidly. "What is all fun, Numè? Why, what is the
matter, sweetheart--why so contrary to-day?"

"Nosing is madder 'cept that Numè does nod wand any more fon with
you--she tired _vaery_ much of Mr. Sinka."

A silence, tragic in its feeling, passed between them.

"What do you mean, Numè?" He was still stupid.

"That I only have fon to pretend that I luf you--I am very tired now."

A gray pallor had stolen over the man's face.

"You--you are trying to jest with me, Numè," he said unsteadily.

The truth began to dawn on him gradually. He remembered his doubts of
the former day. He had been deceived in her after all! Oh! fool that he
was to have trusted her--and now--now he had not thought himself capable
of such fierce love--yet he loved her in spite of her deceit, her
falsity.

He got up and stood back a little way from her, leaning against a tree
and looking down at her where she sat. A sudden wild sense of loss swept
over him. Then his voice returned--it was muffled and unfamiliar even to
his own ears.

"Numè!" was all he said; but he stretched his arms toward her with such
yearning and pain that the girl rose suddenly and ran blindly from him,
Koto following. On, and on, to where the jinrikisha was waiting. Koto
helped, almost lifted her bodily in, and as the runner started down the
road, Numè put her head back against Koto and quietly fainted away.

When she came to herself she was in a high fever. She called pitifully
for Sinclair, begging Koto to take her to him--to go to him and tell him
that she did not mean what she had said; that she was trying to help
Mrs. Davis; that she loved only him, and a thousand other pitiful
messages. But Mrs. Davis had her carried to her house and stood at her
bedside, invincible as Fate.

Sinclair remained where she had left him for some time, the same dazed
expression on his face. When the girl had darted from the fallen tree on
which they had sat, she had dropped something in her flight.
Mechanically he stooped and picked it up. It was a Japanese-American
primer. Numè and he had studied out of it together. He ground his teeth
with wild pain, but he threw the book from him as if it had been poison.
He ran his hand through his hair, tried to think a moment, and then sat
down on the fallen tree, his face in his hands.

There Taylor and Shiku came across him, sitting alone, looking out at
the smooth, scintillating waters of the Hayama.

"Had a sunstroke, old man?" Taylor asked.

"No;" he rose abruptly to his feet. "I--I was just thinking,
Taylor--just thinking--thinking of--of what you had told me a month or
so ago. Do you remember--it was about Japanese women?"

"Er--yes, about them having no heart. Remember we decided the poet--or
fool, we called him--was wrong."

"He was wrong only about the flower, Taylor."



CHAPTER XLIV.

NUMÈ BREAKS DOWN.


A few days later Orito returned to Tokyo. His father's house was
strangely sad and gloomy. On his return home from America it had been
thrown open, as if to catch every bright ray of light and happiness. Now
it was darkened. Sachi no longer sat in the little garden, but he and
Omi were indoors trying to pass the time playing a game which resembled
checkers.

Neither of them greeted Orito otherwise than sadly, both of them letting
him see in every way that he had wounded them deeply, although Omi was a
trifle hopeful and often told Sachi that he had great hopes that Orito
would change his mind, that something would turn up to help them. Sachi,
on the other hand, was inconsolable. Moreover, he was growing quite old
and feeble, and this last disappointment seemed to have stooped his
shoulders and whitened his hair even more.

Orito tried to cheer them up, telling them of some clever business deal
he had made in Yokohama, by which he had sold a large tract of land for
a good round sum.

[Illustration: "NUMÈ BREAKS DOWN."  PAGE 167.]

"How is Numè?" he asked.

The old man shook his head sadly.

"Quite sick," he said. "She grew very sad and lonely for a time, and
about a week ago she broke down when out with her maid, and was carried
to Mrs. Davis' house, where she has been ever since."

"I'll go right over and see her," Orito said, with concern.

He found Numè looking very thin and wan. She was lying on an English
sofa. Koto was beside her, singing very softly as she played on her
samisen. Orito paused on the threshold, listening to the last weird,
thrilling notes of the beautiful song, "Sayonara" (Farewell).

"It is indeed very sad to find you sick, Numè," he said, gently, as he
sat down beside her.

She smiled faintly.

"I am afraid you have kept too much in seclusion, Numè. You ought to go
out more into the open air."

Still the girl smiled silently--a pitiful, trembling, patient smile.

Mrs. Davis came into the room and welcomed Orito, trying to cheer the
girl up at the same time. "Now we will get better soon," she said,
pinching the girl's chin--"now that Orito has come home."

"Ess," the girl answered, vaguely. "Numè will be bedder now."

Koto laid her face against the sick girl's, caressing her little head
with her hand.

"Your voice is so weak, Numè-san," she said.

A look of genuine sympathy and affection passed between mistress and
maid. Koto understood her, if no one else did. Koto loved her and would
stand by her through thick and thin.

Orito expressed himself to Mrs. Davis as being very shocked to find
Numè so weak and thin. He had not heard of her illness. How long had it
been?

"Only a few days," Mrs. Davis told him. It had been very sudden. She
would improve soon, now that Orito had returned.

Her persistency in dwelling on the fact that it depended on him--the
restoration of Numè's health--irritated Orito. He knew Numè better than
Mrs. Davis imagined; and knew, also, that she did not love him so that
for the sake of it she would suddenly break down and become as white and
frail as a lily beaten by a brutal wind.

Koto talked to him rapidly in Japanese. She wanted them to return home
soon. Neither she nor Numè were comfortable. "Numè wanted to be all
alone with Koto, where no one--not even the kind Americans--could
intrude until she should be better again."

"I will carry her across the fields now," Orito said, and told Mrs.
Davis of his intention of doing so. That lady seemed very anxious that
the girl should not be removed for several days. But Numè settled the
question by rising up from the couch and saying she was perfectly
strong, and wanted to return home; that she would always be grateful for
the kindness Mrs. Davis had shown her, but would Orito _please_ take her
home?

The American lady was in tears. She kissed the girl repeatedly before
letting her go, but Numè was too listless to be responsive.

Ever since that day when she had fainted in the jinrikisha and had
awakened in a high fever, Numè had been sick--ill with no particular
malady, save perhaps the strain and shock.

Mrs. Davis had been very kind to her, waiting on her with her own hands,
once staying up all night with her. In fact, she and Koto had vied with
each other in serving and doing everything to please her, but Numè
seemed to have lost interest in everything. The only thing that soothed
her was for Koto to sing and play very gently to her, and this the
little maid did constantly.



CHAPTER XLV.

TRYING TO FORGET.


Sinclair had become suddenly attached to his work. He deserted the
country for the city, remaining sometimes quite late in the evening in
his office, attending to certain matters that had collected during his
absences from the office. One was the case of an American missionary who
had been arrested for attempting to bribe school boys to become
Kirishitans (Christians). The charge against him was that he had caused
dissension in several of the public schools by bribing certain of the
poorer children to leave their schools, and, in some cases, their homes,
and attend the missionary school in Tokyo. It was said that he had
become a terror to parents in the district, who were afraid of losing
their children, for he generally got them to accompany him by paying
them small sums of money.

One deserter who had been converted to the Christian belief by a bright
silver yen, was accredited with having told him after he had become a
backslider and the missionary had reproached him: "You pay me ten more
sen I go to church--you pay me twenty sen I love Jesus."

On the other hand, the missionary declared he had merely interfered and
protested at the harsh treatment Christian children received at the
hands of their playmates in the schools, and which he declared was
encouraged by the teachers. In this way he had antagonized some bitter
Japanese against him, who had had him unjustly arrested and thrown into
prison.

The case was quite a serious one, as the missionary was a well-known man
in America. It gave Sinclair plenty of thought and work, and he was
untiring in his endeavor to obtain his discharge.

He had seen nothing of Numè since that day in the woods, when she had
told him she had never cared for him. In spite of constant visitors and
the volume of his work, which he tried personally to superintend for the
time being, Sinclair could not forget Numè. The moment he was left to
himself his mind would revert to the girl, to the dreamy days he had
spent with her in the woods, to little things she had said that lingered
in his mind like Japanese music. In spite of himself he could not hate
her. Had she been an ordinary woman it might have been different, but
with Numè could he cherish anything harsher against her than regret?

He tried to assure himself that he had put her from his mind altogether,
that after all she was unworthy of his pain, but every incident that
came up which reminded him of her, found him wandering back to the dear
dead days he had spent with her, days that were tinged with bitterness
and regret now.



CHAPTER XLVI.

AN OBSERVANT HUSBAND.


So, though Sinclair tried honestly to forget Numè and harden himself
against her, he could not do so. He grew so thin and wretched looking
that his friends began to notice it. They thought it was due to the fact
that he had worked so hard lately on the missionary's case.

"You ought to take a rest and change of some sort, Sinclair," Mr. Davis
told him, "now that you have got the missionary off. Why not take a run
down to Matsushima, where the Ballards are? Cleo thinks the spot even
more beautiful than about Fuji-Yama."

"I hadn't thought of going away," Sinclair said, absently; "besides,
Cleo is coming back next week, anyhow."

"Well, suppose you run down for the rest of the week, and then come home
with the party."

Sinclair remained thinking a moment.

"Yes, perhaps it would divert me for the time being," he said, drawing
his brows together with a sudden flash of pain, as he remembered how he
had once told Numè that they would visit Matsushima together, some day.
Mr. Davis left him at his desk.

"Can't make out what's the matter with Sinclair," he told his wife. "He
looks wretched, and is as absent-minded as he can be. Seems to be
worrying about something."

"He no doubt is--a--lonely, Walter. When Cleo returns he will be all
right."

In the same way as she trusted or tried to make herself believe that
Orito's presence would cure Numè, so she liked to imagine that Cleo
Ballard's return would raise Sinclair out of the despondency into which
he had fallen.

"No--Jenny, I think you make a mistake about Sinclair's caring so much
for Cleo," Walter Davis said, slowly.

"What makes you say that?" his wife interrupted, sharply, fearful that
he had guessed something during Numè's illness in their house; for she
had told him nothing, as yet.

Her husband hesitated a moment before answering, then he said:

"Fact is, I saw on his desk quite a batch of unopened letters. I wanted
Sinclair to go somewhere with me. He pleaded press of business, and I
took it he had to answer those letters. They were all from one person,
Jenny, and were lying in a letter basket on his desk without even the
seals broken. I made the remark that he had quite a lot of mail for one
day. What do you think he answered? 'This is nearly a week's mail'--and
said he had forgotten the letters."

Davis flicked the ash from his cigar into a receiver, then he continued,
slowly: "My dear, the letters were from Cleo Ballard. I know her
writing. A man does not let the letters from a girl he is in love with
remain unopened long," he added.

Mrs. Davis got up. "Walter," she said, indignantly, "that man is a--a
brute."



CHAPTER XLVII.

MATSUSHIMA BAY.


Matsushima Bay is perhaps one of the most beautiful spots in Japan. It
is on the northeastern coast, and being cool and refreshing is a
favorite summer resort. Countless rocks of huge size and form are
scattered in the bay, and these rocks are covered with pine trees.
Unnamed flowers bloom also on these rocks and burn their surface with
flaring colors. It may be that the rocks are even more nutritious than
the earth itself; for the tall pines that take their root in them seem
more graceful and delicate than those found on land, and the flowers are
more fragrant and lovely than those of a fairyland dream.

About eight miles from the northern shore, where rests the beautiful
city of Sendai, towers Mount Tomi, only a shadowy tracing in the evening
skies.

It was in the city of Sendai that the party of tourists had settled.
They were charmed with the beauty of their surroundings, and being, most
of them, ardent lovers of nature, made daily trips, exploring the
country, visiting the temple Zuiganji, which is located only a few ch_o_
from the beach. This temple originally belonged to Marquis Date, the
feudal lord of Sendai, who sent an envoy to Rome in the seventeenth
century, and a wooden image of him still stands in the temple. Or they
climbed Mount Tomi in order to get a view of the matchless bay with its
countless white rocks; eight hundred and eight, they are said to number,
and there is only one rock in the entire bay which is bare of foliage.
It is called Hadakajima, or Naked Island.

Sinclair arrived in this ideal, quiet, restful spot, travel-stained,
sick-hearted and weary. Some of his travel had been by rail, a great
part solely by kurumma. He had sent Cleo Ballard no word of his proposed
trip, and he was not expected. She was not at the hotel when he arrived,
having gone out with her party to the mountains.

Sinclair went immediately to the room assigned him, and after bathing
went to bed in the middle of the day. He had not slept for several days,
in spite of the strange lassitude and weariness he had felt. The
inviting white of the American bed tempted him. It was perhaps the first
real sleep he had had in weeks.

When the party of tourists returned to the hotel the clerk told Cleo
Ballard of the arrival of a gentleman who had enquired for her. A glance
at the register showed her Arthur Sinclair's name.

Fanny Morton and a number of women acquaintances were at her elbow.
After the first start of emotion and surprise she tried to appear calm
before them and as if she had expected him.

"So he has arrived?" she said carelessly to Tom--and to the clerk:
"Please send him word that we have returned."

The boy brought the answer back that the American gentleman was
sleeping--they did not like to wake him.

"He must be very tired," the girl said.

Sinclair did not appear in the dining-room that evening. His dinner was
served to him in his room, and Cleo Ballard saw nothing of him till the
following day.

"I am so glad you have come, dear," she told him; "the summer was going
by so quickly, and I was afraid you had forgotten your promise."

"Did I make any promise," he asked, indifferently.

"Why, of course, Arthur;" she looked hurt.

"Well, I forgot, Cleo. One can't remember all these little things, you
know."

"Then what made you come?" she asked, sharply, stung by his
indifference.

"Not because of any promise, my dear," he said. "Simply because I was
tired," and then as he saw her hurt face he added, with forced
gentleness: "I wanted to see you--that was the chief reason, of course."

Cleo melted.

"You know, dear," she said, "we had arranged to go back to Tokyo the end
of this week. Of course we will postpone our return, now, on your
account. You really must see the country with us."

"Well, Cleo, I have seen Matsushima before. I only wanted a change for a
day or two, that was all. No; don't delay the return home--as--I----,"
he struck some gravel aside with his cane; "the fact is, it is too quiet
here, and I prefer the city."

The party returned to Tokyo about a week later, Sinclair feeling
somewhat better. The bracing air, the beauty of the bay, and the
constant companionship of friends, served to turn his mind, for a time,
from his troubles.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

A REJECTED LOVER.


Sinclair found a very odd letter waiting for him on his return to Tokyo.
It was written in English, and ran as follows:


     TOKYO, August 20, 1896.

     HON. A. SINCLAIR.

     Dear Master Sir:--Here I write to you ashamed to say to below
     lines.

     I intend to marry in next month soon as I get money. I must spend
     two hundred yen while I marry. My father gave me fifty yen upon day
     before yesterday, and I was have twenty yen on my hands. I have
     already seventy yen at present, and I know extraly some of my
     friends will help me.

     Anyway, soon I shall have full one hundred yen, but I cannot begin
     marrying with that much money, so I complain to you for borrow me
     some money if you like that I going to marry. If you thinking right
     and borrow me some in this time, I will be thousand thanks for you
     until before I die. Afterward I will pay back to you as soon as I
     can, but I cannot pay you all in one time. I would pay six yen each
     end of per month.

     Although this is not great bisiness for you, but as for me first
     greatly bisiness in my life. If you do not like to borrow me some
     money in this time I never marry in before several years.

     Do as you please that you like it or not.

     I have very many things to tell you, but I know English very little
     so I stop.

     Your lovely (loving) clerk,
     SHIKU.


[Illustration: KOTO WOULD NOT MARRY.  PAGE 181.]

Sinclair read the letter aloud to Taylor, and both of them laughed
heartily, enjoying the contents; then he touched the electric button on
his desk. The next minute Shiku was with them.

"So you want to marry, Shiku?"

"Yaes, master-sir."

"Um! Have you settled on the girl yet?"

"Yaes, master-sir."

"Fortunate girl!" from Taylor.

"And you think she'll have you?"

"Yaes, master-sir."

"What's her name?"

"Tominaga Koto."

"Not Koto whom I painted in the woods?" put in Taylor.

The boy nodded his head sagely.

Sinclair had grown suddenly silent. The mention of Koto's name instantly
called up memories of Numè--memories that he had told himself, when at
Matsushima with Cleo Ballard, would no longer cause him a pang. His
voice was quite gentle as he spoke to Shiku.

"Well, go ahead and marry her, Shiku. I'll make you a gift of the money,
and perhaps a trifle more."

The boy thanked him humbly, repeating over and over that he was a
thousand thanks to him until before he died.

"Rum little chap that," Taylor said, as the boy left them.

"Yes, he _is_ a bright little fellow. Been with me now ever since I came
to Japan."

"Well, he's going to get a mighty pretty girl."

"Yes--I suppose so--as good as the rest of them."

The next day Shiku presented himself before the consul with a very
woe-begone and disappointed countenance.

"Well, Shiku, what luck?" Sinclair asked him. For the boy had gone
straight to Koto.

"Koto will not marry with me, master-sir."

"Why, I thought you told me she had already promised."

"Yaes--bud--she changing her mind."

Sinclair laughed, shortly.

"Been fooling you?"

"No;" he hesitated a moment, as though he feared to tell Sinclair the
truth. Then he said: "She not like for to leave her mistress now;--" he
paused again, looking uneasily at the consul, and shifting from one foot
to the other.

Sinclair had been opening some letters with a paper-cutter while the boy
had been speaking. He suddenly laid it down, and wheeled round on his
chair.

"Well?"--he put in.

"Numè-san is quite sick," the boy said.

"Quite sick!" Sinclair rose with an effort. He was struggling with his
desire to seem indifferent, even before the office boy, but a sudden
feeling of longing and tenderness was overpowering him. It shocked him
to think of Numè's being ill--bright, happy, healthful Numè.

"What is the matter?" he asked.

"I not know. Koto say she cry plenty, and grow very thin,--that she have
very much luf for somebody."

"Ah!"

"I tell Koto," the boy continued, "that I think she love Takashima
Orito, and that he not love her she is very sad."

Sinclair began to pace the floor with restless, unsteady strides.

"Yes--it's doubtless that, Shiku," he said, nervously. "Well, I'm
sorry--sorry that your--that your marriage will have to wait."



CHAPTER XLIX.

THE ANSWER.


The same day that Sinclair had heard of Numè's illness, Cleo Ballard
received a letter from Orito. It was very brief and simple.

"I am coming to see you," it ran, "at seven o'clock to-night, before
your party will start. Then will I ask you for the answer you promised
me."

Mrs. Davis was with her when she received the letter.

"Now, you _must_ be strong, my dear," she said. "See him, and have it
all over."

"Yes, I will," Cleo Ballard said.

Precisely at seven o'clock Takashima Orito presented himself at the
hotel. He had told his father and Omi of his mission there; and the two
old men were waiting in great trepidation for his return.

As he stood, calm but expectant, by the girl's side, waiting for her to
speak first, she felt a sudden fear of him. She did not know what to
say. She knew he was determined to have a direct answer now.

"I don't know what to say." She broke the strained silence desperately.

"I have only one answer to expect," he said, very gently. This answer
silenced the girl. The Japanese came closer to her and looked full in
her face.

"Will you marry with me, Miss Cleo?"

"I--I----" She shrank back, her face scared and averted.

"I cannot!" she said, scarcely above a whisper.

She did not look at him. She felt, rather than saw, that he had grown
suddenly rigid and still. His voice did not falter, however.

"Will you tell me why?" he asked.

"Because--I--am already betrothed--to Mr. Sinclair. Because I never
could love any one but him."

The shadows began to darken in the little sitting-room. The Japanese was
standing almost as if petrified to the spot, immovable, silent. Suddenly
she turned to him.

"Forgive me," she said, and tried to take his hand.

He turned slowly and left the room without one backward look.

The silence of the room frightened her. She went to a window and put her
head out. A sudden vague terror of she knew not what seized her. Why was
everything so still? Why did he leave her like that? If he only had
reproached her--that would have been better;--but to go without a word
to her! It was awful--it was uncanny--cruel. What did he intend to do?
She began to conjure up in her mind all sorts of imaginary terrors. She
told herself that she hated the stillness of the Japanese atmosphere;
she wanted to go away--back to America, where she could forget
everything--where, perhaps, Sinclair would be to her as he had been in
the old days. She had been on a nervous strain all day, and she broke
down utterly.

Mrs. Davis found her walking up and down the room hysterically.

"There, dear--it is all over now,"--she put her arms about the girl and
tried to soothe her.

"No, no, Jen; I feel it is not over. I think--I imagine--Oh, Jenny, I
don't know what to think. He acted so queerly. I don't know what to
think. I dread everything. Jenny," she put her hand feverishly on the
other woman's shoulder, "tell me about these Japanese--can they--do they
feel as deeply as we do?"

"Yes--no; don't let's talk about them, dear. Remember, they are giving
you and the travelers a big party to-night at the hotel. You _must_
dress--it is nearly eight now."



CHAPTER L.

THE BALL.


Never had Cleo Ballard appeared so beautiful as that night. Her eyes
shone brightly with excitement, her cheeks were a deep scarlet in hue,
and her wonderful rounded neck and arms gleamed dazzlingly white against
the black lace of her gown.

Even Sinclair roused out of his indifference to look after her in deep
admiration.

"You are looking very beautiful to-night, Cleo," he said; and ten
minutes afterwards Tom, passing with Rose Cranston on his arm, laid his
hand on Cleo's shoulder: "You are looking unnaturally beautiful, Cleo.
Anything wrong?"

"Must there necessarily be something wrong, Tom, because I am looking
well?"

Tom gave her a scrutinizing glance. In spite of her quick bantering
words there was something in the girl which made him think she was
laboring under some intense excitement, and that it was this very
excitement that was buoying her up and lending her a brilliancy that was
almost unnatural. Tom knew the reaction must come. All through the
evening he watched his cousin. She was surrounded almost constantly,
save when she danced. Later in the evening he pushed his way to her
side. She was resting after a dance.

"Cleo, you are dancing too much," he said, noting the girl's flushed
cheeks.

"One can't do anything too much, you know, Tom. I hate moderation in
anything--I hate anything lukewarm;" she was answering at random. He put
his hand on hers. They burned with fever.

"You are not well at all," he said, and then added, looking about them
anxiously: "I wonder where Sinclair is?"

The girl was possessed with a sudden anger.

"Don't ask _me_, Tom. I would be the last person to know of _his_
whereabouts." The words were very bitter.

"You know, Cleo," he answered her, soothingly, "Sinclair never did care
for this kind of thing. He is doubtless in the grounds somewhere.
Wait--I'll hunt him up." He rose from his seat, but the girl stayed him
peremptorily.

"Not for _my_ sake, Tom. Oh, I assure you, I shall not wither without
him," she said.

Tom sat down beside her again.

"Look here, little sis, don't get cynical--nor--nor untruthful. I know
very well you want to see Sinclair. I have not seen you together all
evening, and I believe it's partially that which makes you so restless.
No use trying to fool old Tom about anything."

Cleo did not argue the point any longer, and Tom passed on to the piazza
of the hotel.

Quite a lot of the guests were congregated there, some of them telling
tales, others listening to the music. Tom made his way to where he saw
Mrs. Davis standing. She was with Fanny Morton, and they seemed to be
waiting for some one.

August is the universal month for holding banquets in honor of the full
moon, in Japan, and gay parties of pleasure-seekers are to be met on the
streets at all hours of the night.

"Seen Sinclair anywhere about?" Tom asked them.

"Yes, Tom," Mrs. Davis said, nervously. "He and Walter went down the
street for a while. Something has happened. Mr. Sinclair thought some
one had got hurt. They said they would be back in a minute."

Tom waited with the two women. The dance music floated out dreamily on
the air, mingled with the incessant chatter and laughter of the guests.
Inside the brilliantly-lighted ball-room the figures of the dancers
passed back and forth before the windows.

As they sat silently listening, and watching the gay revelry, a weird
sound struck on their ears--it was the muffled beating of Buddhist
drums.

The two women and Tom rose to their feet shivering. They turned
instinctively to go indoors. Standing quite near the door by which they
entered was Cleo. Her beautiful face was flushed with fever; her eyes
were filled with terror. She was leaning forward, listening to the
faint, muffled beat of the drums.

"Some one is dead!" she said, in a piercing whisper, and threw her
beautiful bare arms high above her head as she fell prone at their feet.



CHAPTER LI.

THE FEARFUL NEWS.


What awful premonition of disaster had filled Cleo Ballard all that
night! The guests gathered awestruck about the fallen figure which, but
a moment before, was so full of life, vivacity, and beauty.

"What is the matter?" some one breathed.

Fanny Morton's sharp words cut the air:

"Some Japanese has died, that is all--killed himself, they say. She
fainted when she heard the drums beat."

Very gently they carried the unconscious girl to her room. The music had
ceased; the guests had lost their appetite for enjoyment. Almost with
one accord all, save a few stragglers, had deserted the ball-room, and
were now grouped in the grounds of the hotel, or on the steps and
piazzas, waiting for the return of the two men who had gone to learn the
cause of the alarm.

At last they came up the path. They walked slowly, laggingly. Mrs. Davis
ran down to meet them.

"What is it?" she whispered, fearfully. "Cleo has fainted, and a panic
has spread among all the guests."

Walter Davis's usually good-tempered face was bleached to a white
horror.

"Orito, his father, and Watanabe Omi have all killed themselves," he
said, huskily.

The American lady stood stock-still, staring at them with fixed eyes of
horror. The news spread rapidly among the guests, all of whom had known
both families well. They were asking each other with pale lips--the
cause? the cause?

Mrs. Davis clung in terror to her husband.

"Keep it from Cleo," she almost wailed. "Oh, don't let _her_ know
it--she must not know it--she must not."

The guests lingered late that night, in the open air. It was past three
o'clock before they began to disperse slowly, one by one, to their rooms
or their homes.



CHAPTER LII.

THE TRAGEDY.


After leaving Cleo Ballard, Orito had jumped into the waiting kurumma,
and had been driven directly home. There he found the two old men
waiting for him. The house was unlighted, save by the moonlight, which
was very bright that night, and streamed into the room, touching gently
the white heads of the two old men as they sat on their mats patiently
awaiting Orito's return. It touched something bright, also, that lay on
a small table, and which gleamed with a scintillating light. It was a
Japanese sword!

Orito entered the house very silently. He bowed low and courteously as
he entered the room, in strict Japanese fashion. Then he began to speak.

"My father, you have accused me sometimes of being no longer Japanese.
To-night I will surely be so. The woman of whom I told you was false,
after all." His eyes wandered to the sword and dwelt there lovingly. He
crossed to where it lay and picked it up, running his hand down its
blade.

"I have no further desire to live, my father. Should I live I would go
on loving--her--who is so unworthy. That would be a dishonor to the
woman I would marry for your sakes, perhaps. Therefore, 'tis better to
die an honorable death than to live a dishonorable life; for it is even
so in this country, that my death would atone for all the suffering I
have caused you. Very honorable would it be."

Sadly he bade the two old men farewell; but Sachi stayed his arm,
frantically.

"Oh, my son, let thy father go first," he said.

One thrust only, in a vital part, a sound between a sigh and a moan, and
the old man had fallen. Then quick as lightning Orito had cut his own
throat. Omi stared in horror at the fallen dead. They were all he had
loved on earth, for, alas! Numè had represented to him only the fact
that she would some day be the wife of Orito. Never, since her birth,
had he ceased to regret that she had not been a son. He picked the
bloody sword up, and with a hand that had lost none of its old Samourai
cunning he soon ended his own life.

About an hour after this a horror-stricken servant looked in at the room
in its semi-darkness. He saw the three barely distinguishable dark forms
on the floor, and ran wildly through the house, alarming all the
servants and retainers of the household. Soon the room was flooded with
light, and the dead were being raised gently and prepared for burial,
amidst the lamentations of the servants, who had fairly idolized them.
Relatives were sent for in post haste, and before the night had half
ended the muffled beating of Buddhist drums was heard on the streets,
for the families were well known and wealthy, and were to be given a
great and honorable funeral. And also, the sounds of passionate weeping
filled the air, and floated out from the house of death.



CHAPTER LIII.

A LITTLE HEROINE.


It was three days later. Cleo Ballard had been sick with nervous
prostration ever since the night of the ball. Mrs. Davis was with her
constantly, and would permit no one whatever to see her--not even
Sinclair. She had told the facts to her husband and to the doctor, and
had enlisted them on her side; so that it was not a difficult matter for
her, for the time being, and while Cleo lay too ill to countermand her
orders, to forbid any one from intruding, for she did not want her to
know of the awful tragedy that had transpired.

Sinclair inquired day and night after Cleo's health, and sent flowers to
her. He, himself, had suffered a great deal since that same night, what
with the shock of his friend's death, Cleo's unexpected illness, and,
above all, an inexplicable longing and desire to see Numè--to go to her
and comfort her in this fresh trial that had come to her. She was now
utterly alone in the world, he knew, save for one distant relative.

Thoroughly exhausted with the trials of the last days, and wishing to
get away from the hotel, Sinclair had shut himself indoors, and had
thrown himself on a couch, trying vainly to find rest. He kept puzzling
over the cause of Takashima's death. Whether the truth had been
suspected among some of the Americans who had been on the boat with Cleo
and Orito or not, no one had as yet breathed a word of it to him. As he
lay there restlessly, some one tapped on his wall.

"Who is it?" he called, fretfully.

"It is Shiku, master-sir."

"Well, come in."

The boy entered almost fearfully, and began apologizing profusely in
advance.

"It is Koto who has made me intrude, master," he said. "She is waiting
outside for you, and tells me she must talk with you. She will not enter
the house, however, and she is very much fearful."

The American went to the door. There stood Koto, a trembling, frightened
little figure in the half-light.

"Come in, Koto," he said, noting her embarrassment; and then, as she
still hesitated, he drew her very gently but firmly into the house and
closed the door. Soon she was seated in one of his large chairs, and
because she was such a little thing it seemed almost to swallow her up.

"Numè not know that I come tell you of our grade sadness," she said,
stumblingly. "Mrs. Davis will not forgive me forever, but I _come_ tell
you the trute, Mister Consul." She began to weep all of a sudden, and
could go no further. The sight of the wretched little sobbing figure
touched Sinclair very deeply. He thought she had some revelation to make
about the death of Orito. He was unprepared for her next words.

"My mistress, Numè-san, luf vou so much that she going to die, I
thing'."

Sinclair stood up, a strange, doubting, uncomprehending look on his
face.

"What do you mean, Koto?" he asked, sternly. "Are you trying to--to fool
me about something?"

"No! No! I not to fool with you. I tell you the trute. Mrs. Davis tell
Numè of _vaery_ sad story account the august Americazan lady wait long
many years for you, that you love her always, just not love for a liddle
while, because of Numè, that----"

A sudden light began to break in on Sinclair.

"So Numè tell you _she_ not to luf because she want to _serve_ the
honorable Americazan ladies and not to _pain_ her father and Takashima
Sachi. Then she get _vaery_ sick. She cry for you all the time, and when
she is very sick she say: 'Koto, go tell Mr. Sinka I not mean.' Then
when she is better she say: 'No; Koto must not go.'"

Sinclair sat down again, and shaded his face with his hand. His mind was
in confusion. He could not think. Only out of the jumble of his thoughts
came one idea--that Numè loved him, after all. Now he remembered how
unnatural, how excited, she had been that last day. Ah, what a fool he
was to have believed her then!

His voice was quite unsteady when he broke the long silence. "Koto!
Koto! how can I ever repay you for what you have done?"

The little maid was weeping bitterly.

"Ah! Koto is _vaery_ 'fraid that she tell you all this, account Mrs.
Davis will speag that I mus' not worg any longer for Numè; she will
tell her relatives so, and they will send me away. Then Numè will be all
alone; because only Koto love Numè forever."

Sinclair was smiling very tenderly. "You have forgotten me, Koto. I will
take care of both of you, never fear, little woman. I am going with you
to her now."

"It is too late now," the girl said. "Numè will have retired when we
reach home. Shiku is going to take me home, and to-morrow will you
come?"

She rose from her seat, looking more hopeful and happy than when she had
first come in.

"You will make it all good again," she said, looking up at him with
somewhat of Numè's confidence: "for you are so _big_."



CHAPTER LIV.

SINCLAIR LEARNS THE TRUTH AT LAST.


After Koto had left Sinclair he sat down to think. His brain was
whirling, for his thoughts and plans were in confusion. His first
impulse had been to go straight to Numè; but he had promised Koto to
wait until the following day. Now that he was alone, he suddenly
remembered Cleo Ballard. Was he free to go, after all? Could he desert
Cleo now while she lay so sick and helpless? His joy in the renewed
assurance of Numè's love for him had been suddenly tinged with bitter
pain. What could he do?

He slept none through the night. In the morning of the next day he
hurried over to the hotel and made his usual enquiries after Cleo's
health. Mr. and Mrs. Davis, with Tom, had done their best to prevent him
from knowing the cause of Orito's suicide. Various reasons had been
suggested; and after the first alarm had worn off, and the bodies had
been interred with due ceremony, the excitement subsided somewhat, so
that they had hopes of the talk quieting down, and perhaps dying out
altogether, without the truth reaching Sinclair's ears; for, knowing him
to be her betrothed, there were few who were unkind or unscrupulous
enough to tell him.

As Sinclair passed through the hotel corridor on his way to the front
door, Fanny Morton came down the wide staircase of the hotel. She
stopped him as he was going out.

"_Let_ me express my sympathy," she said, sweetly.

"Your sympathy!" he said, coldly; for he did not like her. "I do not
understand you, Miss Morton."

"Yes," she cooed. "I am sure I can vouch for Cleo that she _never_
dreamed he would take it so seriously. I was with them on the voyage
out, you know, and indeed Cleo often said the passengers were dull. _He_
cheered her up, and--and----"

"Really, Miss Morton, I am at a loss to understand you," he said,
curtly.

Fanny Morton showed her colors. There was no suggestion of sweetness in
her voice now.

"I mean that every one knows that Mr. Takashima killed himself because
he was in love with Miss Ballard; because she let him believe on the
boat that she reciprocated his--affection, and the night of the ball she
told him the truth. He killed himself, they say, hardly an hour after he
had seen her."

Jenny Davis stood right at the back of them. She had heard the woman's
venomous words, but was powerless to refute them. Sinclair felt her eyes
fixed on him with an entreaty that was pitiful.

He raised his hat to Fannie Morton.

"I will wish you good morning," he said, cuttingly, and that was all.

Then he turned to the other woman.

"Let us go in here," he said, and drew her into a small sitting-room.

"What does that woman mean?" he asked.

Mrs. Davis had broken down.

"We can't keep on pretending any longer, Mr. Sinclair. Yes; it is true,
what she says. Poor Cleo did lead him on, thoughtlessly--you know the
rest."

A look of dogged sternness began to settle on Sinclair's face.

"Then she was the real cause of----"

"No! no! _don't_ say that. Arthur, she never intended doing any harm.
Cleo would not willingly harm anything or any one. She really liked him.
Tom will tell you. It was the reason why she never had the heart to tell
him--of--of her engagement to you."

For a long time the two sat in moody silence. Then Sinclair said, almost
bitterly: "And it was for _her_ that Numè suffered."

"Why, Numè--is--what do you mean?" the other asked, showing signs of
hysteria.

"Yes; Mrs. Davis, I know the truth," he said, grimly. "I understand that
you thought you were really serving Cleo and myself by acting
so--but--well, a man is not cured of love so easily, you know. She
(Numè) gave me up because she did not want to spoil a good woman's life,
as she thought, after what you told her. This same woman did not scruple
to take from her the man who might have comforted her after everything
else had failed. Now she is utterly alone."

"I won't say anything now," Mrs. Davis said, bitterly. "I can't defend
myself. You would not understand. It is easy to be hard where we do not
love;--that is why you have no mercy on Cleo."

"I am thinking of Numè," the man answered.

"May I ask what you intend to do?"

"Last night I was uncertain. This morning, now that I know the truth,
things are plain before me. I am going to Numè," he added, firmly.

"But Cleo?" the other almost implored.

"I cannot think of her now."

"But you will have to see her. What can you tell her? We are hiding from
her, as best we can, the fact of--of the tragedy. _That_ would kill her;
as for your ceasing to care for her, she suspected the possibility of it
long ago, and might survive that. Yet how can she know the one without
the other?"

Sinclair remained thinking a moment.

"There is only one way. Let her think of _me_ what she will. You are
right; if possible the truth--even Takashima's death--must be kept from
her so long as she is too weak to bear the knowledge. Can we not have
her make the return voyage soon? I will write to her, and though it will
sound brutal, I will tell her that the reason why I cannot be more to
her than a friend is--because I--I do not love her,--that I love another
woman."

Mrs. Davis was weeping bitterly. All her efforts and plans had been of
no avail in Cleo's behalf. She saw it now, and did not even try to hold
Sinclair.

"Yes," she said, almost wildly. "Go to Numè--she will comfort you. At
least your sorrows and hers have ended, now. But as for ours--Cleo's and
mine, for I have always loved her better than if she were my own
sister--we will try to forget, too."



CHAPTER LV.

LOVERS AGAIN.


Koto had told Numè nothing of her visit to Sinclair. The girl had been
so stunned by the deaths of her father, Orito, and Sachi, that Koto had
not the heart even to tell her good news; for when our friends are in
sorrow the best comfort one can give is to weep and sorrow with
them;--so the Japanese believe. Besides, she wanted Sinclair's coming to
be a surprise to the girl.

[Illustration: SITTING TOGETHER HAND IN HAND.  PAGE 202.]

In Numè's great sorrow and illness she would have no one by her save
Koto, and once in a while Koto's friend, Matsu, who was visiting them.
Koto had had her come to the house because she played the harp so
beautifully, and she knew the music would please Numè. Both the girls
tried in every way to make up to the grieving orphan for the sorrows
that had suddenly come to darken her young life. Often the three would
sit together hand in hand, Numè between her two friends, speaking no
word to each other, but each feeling strangely comforted and refreshed
with the others' love and sympathy. After the funeral ceremony, Numè had
awakened somewhat out of her apathy, and tried to take interest in
things about her; but it was a pitiful effort, and always made Koto weep
so much that one day Matsu had suggested to her that she go to the city
and see the American and tell him the truth. For Numè had told Koto of
what Mrs. Davis had caused her to do; and Koto, in her turn, had told
Matsu.

"You have become too secluded and proud, Koto," the city geisha girl
told her. "It is an easy matter to go to the city and perhaps you will
do Numè and the American a great service. I will stay with Numè-san
while you are gone, and will wait on her just as if I were indeed her
maid instead of your being so." It was in this way Koto had been induced
to visit the American.

[Illustration: NUMÈ AND HER TWO FRIENDS KOTO AND MATSU.  PAGE 203.]

The next morning, as she and Numè sat together, she said:

"Numè-san, did you know why Orito killed himself?"

"No."

"It was because he loved the honorable American lady."

Numè did not interrupt her. Koto continued: "The beautiful one that was
betrothed to Mr. Sinka."

Numè's little hands were clasped in her lap. She did not speak, still.

Koto went on: "You see, she was not worthy, after all, that you
sacrificed the pretty American gentleman for her, for Matsu says that
all the Americans say at the hotel that she tell Orito sometime that she
love him just for fun--and she not love--so Takashima Orito kill
himself."

Still Numè did not reply. Her little head had fallen back weakly against
the pillow. She was looking away out before her. After a time Koto put
her arms about her, and they clung together.

"Koto," Numè said, vaguely, "will you leave me now? Or will you stay
with me forever? Numè is so lonely now."

Koto evaded the question.

"I will stay with you, Numè-san, until you do not need me any longer."

"That will never be," the other said, tenderly.

That afternoon Koto fetched her samisen and played very softly to Numè.
After a time she laid her instrument aside and went to the door, shading
her face with her hand as she scanned the road. It was about the hour
Sinclair had told her to expect him. She heard the beat of his runners
before they were within a mile of the house.

"I am going to leave you all alone, for a little while," she told Numè.

She went down to meet Sinclair, and admitted him into the house. She
pointed to the room where Numè was and then left him.

Sinclair pushed aside the shoji and passed into the room.

Numè raised her head languidly at the opening of the screens. At first
she thought she was dreaming, and she sat up straight on the little
couch on which she had been resting. Suddenly Sinclair was beside her,
and had taken her bodily into his arms.

"Numè! Numè!" he whispered;--and then, as she struggled faintly to be
free, he said, blissfully, "Oh, I know the truth, little sweetheart,
though it is too good for me to understand it yet. Koto has told me
everything, and--and oh! Numè!" He kissed the wistful eyes rapturously.

He scarcely knew her, she had grown so quiet and sad. In the woods she
had chattered constantly to him;--now, he could not make her say
anything. But after a while, when Sinclair had chided her for her
silence, she said, very shyly:

"Do you luf me, Mr. Sinka, bedder than the beautiful Americazan lady?"

Sinclair raised her little face between his two hands.

"Sweetheart--do you need to ask?" he said. "I have _never_ loved any one
but you."

The girl smiled--the first time she had smiled in weeks. Her two little
hands met round his neck, she rose on tiptoe. "Numè _lig'_ to kees with
you," she said, artlessly. There is no need to tell what Sinclair
answered.

When the shadows began to deepen, he and Numè still sat together on the
small lounge, neither of them conscious of time or place. They were
renewing their acquaintance with each other, and each was discovering
new delights in the other.

It was Koto who broke in on them. She had been in the next room all the
time, and had watched them through small peep-holes in the wall.

She made a great noise at the other side of it to let them know it was
now getting late. They looked at each other smiling, both comprehending.

"Koto is our friend _foraever_," Numè said.

"We will be Koto's friends forever," Sinclair answered.



CHAPTER LVI.

THE PENALTY.


When Sinclair returned to the city that night he sat down in his office
and wrote a letter to Cleo Ballard. It was the most difficult thing he
had ever done in his life. It told her briefly of his love for Numè. He
felt he could not be a good husband to her so long as he loved another
woman. It was better she knew it than to find it out after they had
married.

Mrs. Davis gave it to Cleo when she thought her strong enough to bear
the shock. She read it with white lips, her poor, thin hands trembling
as the letter slipped to her feet.

"I expected it," she said, bitterly, to Mrs. Davis; and then suddenly,
without the smallest warning, she leaned over and picked the scattered
sheets from the floor and tore them into a thousand fragments with such
fierceness that it frightened her friend.

After that day Mrs. Davis devoted herself more than ever to her friend,
and scarce left her alone for a moment. A strange calm and quiet had
come over Cleo. She would sit for hours by an open window, perfectly
silent, with her hands clasped in her lap, looking out before her with
large eyes which were dry of tears, but which held a nameless brooding.

Mrs. Davis tried in every way to cheer her up, but though she protested
that she was not suffering, yet she could not deceive her friend who
knew her so well.

"You _are_ going to be happy, dear, and as soon as you are strong enough
we'll make the voyage back. You didn't know I was going with you, did
you? Well, dear," her sweet voice faltered, "_I_ couldn't bear to stay
here--after--after you were gone. We will all be happy when in America
again. I believe that's what has made us all more or less gloomy. We
have been homesick. Japan _is_ all right, beautiful and all that--but,
well, it is not America. We never _could_ feel the same here." So she
rattled on to Cleo, trying to take the girl's thoughts out of herself.

And then, one day, Cleo turned to her and told her very quietly that she
knew everything.

Mrs. Davis gasped. "Everything!"

She looked at the girl's calm, emotionless face in horror. "And--and
you----"

"I've known it some time now," the girl continued, grimly. She heard the
other woman sobbing for her, and put her hand out and found the little
sympathetic one extended.

"I know--know, dear, how you tried to hide it from me," she smiled
faintly; "that could not be."

Mrs. Davis was mute. Cleo was an enigma to her now.

"I never guessed you knew."

"No? Mother told me. She did not mean to be cruel, but she was not well
herself then, and she--she reproached me."

She rose suddenly to her feet, the same still, white look on her face
that had come there when she had read Sinclair's letter. She turned on
her friend with an almost fierce movement.

"Why don't you _hate_ me?" she said, with only half-repressed vehemence.
"Why does not every one--as I do myself?"

She was beyond the comfort of her friend now. Jenny Davis could only
watch her with wide eyes of wonder and agony. For a moment the girl
paced the room with restless, dragging step, like a wild caged thing.

"Jenny, I will tell you something now. You may laugh at me--laugh as--I
can--as I do myself, but----" Again she paused, and she put her hand to
her throat as though the words choked her.

"After I read that--that letter, it seemed as if something broke in
me--not my heart--no, don't think that; but at first I felt desolate,
with a loneliness you could never comprehend. He had been in my mind so
many years then. Yes, I know--I had expected it all--but it was a shock
at first. I never _could_ face anything painful all my life, and when I
actually knew the truth--when I read his letter, and it _was_ cruel,
after all, Jenny, I wanted to go away somewhere and hide myself--no--I
wanted to go to some one--some one who really loved me, and cry my heart
out. Don't you understand me, Jenny? Oh, you must----" her voice was
dragging painfully now. "I wanted--to--go--to Orito!"

"Cleo!"

"Yes, it is true," she went on, wildly. "_He_ was better than the other.
So much tenderer and truer--the best man I ever knew--the only person in
the whole world who ever really loved me. And I--Jenny, I _killed_ him!
Think of it, and pity me--no, don't pity me--I deserve none. And
then--and then----" she was beginning to lose command of her speech now.
Mrs. Davis tried to draw her into a chair, but she put the clinging,
loving hands from her and continued: "When I wanted him--when that other
had deserted _me_--had let me know the truth that he never did care for
me--never did care for me," she repeated, incoherently, "and I loved him
all those years. I used to lie awake at night and cry for him,--for
Orito--for his comfort--just as I do now. I cannot help myself. I
thought I would go to him and tell him everything--_he_ would
understand--how--how my heart had awakened--how I must have loved him
all along. And then--then mother burst out at me only last week, Jenny,
and told me the truth--that--that he was _dead_--that he had killed
himself; no--that I had killed him. Do you wonder I did not _die_--go
mad when I learned the truth? Oh, Jenny, I am half dead--I am so numb,
dead to all pleasure, all hope in life."

She had been speaking spasmodically; at first with a hard, metallic ring
to her voice, and then wildly and passionately. Now her voice suddenly
trembled and melted. She was still quite weak, and had excited herself.
Her friend caught her to her breast just in time for the flood of tears
to come--tears that were a necessary, blessed relief. She broke down
utterly and began to sob in a pitiful, hopeless, heart-breaking fashion.

From that day, however, she seemed to improve, though she was erratic
and moody. She would insist on seeing all the callers--those who came
because of their genuine liking for her, and sorrow in her illness, and
the larger number who came out of curiosity. However much of her heart
she had shown to Mrs. Davis, no one else of all Cleo's friends guessed
the turmoil that battled in her breast.



CHAPTER LVII.

THE PITY OF IT ALL.


Although it was nearly two weeks since Sinclair had written to her, she
had not seen him once. He had talked the matter over with Tom and Mrs.
Davis, and they had decided that, for a time at least, it would be best
for her not to see him. About a week before the Ballards sailed, Cleo
wrote to Sinclair. She made no allusion whatever to his letter to her.
She simply asked him to come and see her before she left Japan, and
without a moment's hesitation Sinclair went straight to her. He could
afford to be generous now that his own happiness was assured.

It was a strange meeting. The man was at first constrained and ill at
ease. On the other hand, the girl met him in a perfectly emotionless,
calm fashion. She gave him her hand steadily, and her voice did not
falter in the slightest.

"I want you to know the truth," she said, "before I go away."

"Don't let us talk about it, Cleo," Sinclair said. "It will only cause
you pain."

"That is what I deserve," she said. "That is why I have always been
wrong--I was afraid to look anything painful in the face. I avoided and
shrank from it till--till it broke my heart. It does me good now to
talk--to speak of it all."

He sat down beside Cleo, and looked at her with eyes of compassion.

"You must not pity me," she said, a trifle unsteadily. "I do not deserve
it. I have been a very wicked woman."

"It was not altogether your fault, Cleo," he said, vaguely trying to
comfort, but she contradicted him almost fiercely.

"It _was_--it was, indeed, all my fault." She caught her breath sharply.
"However, that was not what I wanted to speak about. It was this. I
wanted to tell you that--that--after all, I do not love _you_. That I--I
loved _him_--Orito!" She half-breathed the last word.

Sinclair sat back in his chair, and looked at her with slow, studying
eyes.

She repeated wearily: "Yes; I loved him--but I--did not--know--it till
_it was too late_!"

For a long time after that the two sat in complete silence. Sinclair
could not find words to speak to her, and the girl had exhausted her
heart in that heart-breaking and now tragic confession.

Then the man broke the silence with a sharp, almost impatient,
ejaculation, which escaped him unconsciously. "The pity of it all!--Good
God!"

"Arthur, I want to see--to speak to Numè before I go away. You will let
me; will you not?"

He hesitated only a moment, and then: "Yes, dear, anything you want."

And when he was leaving her, she said to him, abruptly, with a sharp
questioning note in her voice that wanted to be denied:

"I am a very wicked woman!"

"No--no; anything but that," he said, and stooping kissed her thin,
frail hand.

Something choked him at the heart and blinded his eyes as he left her,
and all the way back to his office, in the jinrikisha, he kept thinking
of the girl's white, suffering face, and memories of the gay, happy,
careless Cleo he had known in America mingled with it in his thoughts in
a frightful medley. Something like remorse crept into his own heart; for
was he entirely blameless? But he forgot everything painful when he
arrived home, for there was a perfume-scented little note written on
thin rice-paper, waiting for him, and Numè was expecting him that day.
When one has present happiness, it is not hard to forget the sorrows of
others.



CHAPTER LVIII.

MRS. DAVIS'S NERVES.


The next day Sinclair brought Cleo to call on Numè. It was the first
time the two girls had ever really talked with each other. At first Numè
declared she would not see the American girl, whom she held responsible
for her father's, Sachi's and Orito's deaths, but after Sinclair had
talked to her for a while and had told her how the other girl was
suffering, and how she, after all, really loved Orito, the girl's tender
little heart was touched, and she was as anxious to see Cleo as Cleo was
to see her.

She went herself down the little garden path to meet Cleo, and held her
two little hands out with a great show of cordiality and almost
affection.

"Tha's _so_ perlite thad you cummin' to see me," she said.

Cleo smiled, the first time in days, perhaps. It pleased Numè. "Ah!" she
said, "how nize thad is--jus' lig' sunbeam in dark room!"

She was very anxious to please the American girl and make her feel at
her ease, and she chatted on happily to her. She wanted Cleo to
understand that in spite of her father's death she was not altogether
unhappy, for she had talked the matter over very solemnly with Koto and
Matsu only the previous night, and they had all agreed that Cleo's
desire to see her (Numè) was prompted by remorse, which remorse Numè
wished to lessen, to please Sinclair.

Sinclair left them alone together, and strolled over to Mrs. Davis's
house. She had been kept in ignorance of this proposed visit. Sinclair
found her busily engaged in packing, preparatory to leaving. Mrs. Davis
was in despair over some American furniture that she did not want to
take with her.

"Can't you leave it behind?"

"No; the new landlord won't let me. Says the Japanese have no use for
American furniture--unpleasant in the houses during earthquakes, etc."

"Well, I'll take care of them for you," Sinclair volunteered,
good-naturedly.

"Oh, will you? Now, that _will_ be good of you. That settles that, then.
And now about this stuff--come on, Tom," she began crushing things into
boxes and trunks, in her quick, delightful fashion, scarce noting where
she was placing them. She paused a moment to ask Sinclair if he had been
over to Numè's.

"Yes," he smiled a trifle. "Cleo is there now."

She dropped a piece of bric-a-brac and sat down on the floor.

"Cleo! _there--with Numè!_ Well!"

"Yes, she wanted to _know_ Numè, she said, before going away," Sinclair
told her.

"She will never cease surprising me," Mrs. Davis said, plaintively. "She
ought not to excite herself. I never know _what_ to expect of her,
which way to take her. I used to think my nerves were strong; now--my
nerves are--are nervous."

"Cleo is not herself lately," Tom said, quietly, without looking up.
"We'd better humor her for a little while still. Besides--Numè will do
her good, I believe."



CHAPTER LIX.

CLEO AND NUMÈ.


As soon as Sinclair left them the Japanese girl went close up to the
American girl.

"Sa-ay--I goin' tell you something," she said, confidingly.

"Yes, dear."

"You mos' beautifoolest womans barbarian--No! no! nod thad. Egscuse me.
I _nod_ perlite to mag' mistakes sometimes. I mean I thing' you mos'
beautifoolest _ladies_ I aever seen," she said.

Again Cleo smiled. Numè wished she would say something.

"You lig' me?" she prompted, encouragingly.

"Yes----"

"Foraever an' aever?"

"Well--yes--I guess so."

"How nize!" she clapped her hands and Koto came through the parted
shoji.

"_Now_ I interducing you to my mos' vaery nize friens, Mees Tominago
Koto."

Koto was as anxious as Numè to please, and as she had seen Numè hold her
two hands out in greeting, she did the same, very sweetly.

About an hour later Mrs. Davis, with Tom and Sinclair, looked in at the
three girls. Cleo was sitting on the mats with Koto and Numè, and they
were all laughing.

"Well, we've come for the invalid," said Tom, cheerily. "She has been
out long enough."

"I have enjoyed my visit," she told them, simply. "And Numè," she turned
to her, "Numè, will you kiss me?"

"Ess;" she paused a moment, bashfully, throwing a charming glance at
Sinclair. "I _kin_ kees--Mr. Sinka tich me."

They all laughed at this.

"An' now," she continued, "I inviting you to visit with me agin." She
included them all with a bewitching little sweep of her hands, but her
eyes were on the American girl's face. "An' also I lig' you to know thad
Mr. Sinka promising to me thad he goin' tek me thad grade big United
States. Now, thad _will_ be nize. I egspeg you lig' me visite with you
also. Yaes?"

"Of course; you would stay _with_ us," Tom said, cordially.

"Thad _is_ perlite," she breathed, ecstatically.

"Not polite, Numè," Sinclair corrected, smiling, "but, well--'nize,' as
you would call it."

"Ah, yaes, of course. I beg pardons, egscuse. I mean thad liddle word
'nize.' Tha's foolish say 'perlite.'" She laughed at what she thought
her own foolishness, and she was so pretty when she laughed.

Cleo turned to Sinclair. "I understand," she said, softly, "why you--you
loved her. If I were a man I would too."

"Ah! thad is a regret," sighed Numè, who had overheard her and half
understood. "Thad you nod a mans to luf with me. Aenyhow, I thing' I
liging you without thad I be a mans. Sa-ay, I lig' you jus' lig' a--a
brudder--no, lig' a mudder, with you." This was very generous, as the
mother love is supreme in Japan, and Numè felt she could not go beyond
that.

Cleo seemed very much absorbed on the way home. Tom was in the kurumma
with her, Sinclair having stayed behind a while.

"Matsu is going back with us to America," she said. "I think she is a
dear little thing, and I shall educate her." She was silent a moment,
and then she said, very wistfully:

"Tom, do you suppose I can ever make up--atone for all my wickedness?"
and Tom answered her with all the old loving sympathy.

"_I_ never _could_ think of you as wicked, sis--not wantonly so--only
thoughtless."

"Ah, Tom--if _I_ could only think so too!"

When the boat moved down the bay Cleo's and Tom's eyes were dim, and
when the wharf was only a shadowy, dark line they still leaned forward
watching a small white fluttering handkerchief, and in imagination they
still saw the little doleful figure trying to smile up at them through a
mist of tears.

And a week later the selfsame missionary who had given Sinclair so much
work, and thereby helped him bear his trouble, married them--Sinclair
and Numè. The girl was gowned all in white--the dress she had worn that
first time Sinclair had met her.

About two years later a party of American tourists called on Sinclair.
Among them were a few old acquaintances. They brought strange news. Cleo
and Tom Ballard had been married for a month past!

Perhaps the most frequent visitors at the Sinclairs' are Mr. and Mrs.
Shiku.


THE END.





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