2021-04-18 11:54:57

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ENGLISH The laugh that followed the story of the Doctor's experience was interrupted by the breakfast-bell, and the party went below. There was a light attendance, and the purser explained that several passengers had gone ashore.

"The kosatsu," continued Doctor Bronson, "is the sign-board where the official notices of the government are posted. You find these boards in all the cities, towns, and villages of Japan; there may be several in a city, but there is always one which has a higher character than the rest, and is known as the great kosatsu. The one you are now looking at is the most celebrated in the empire, as it stands near the Nihon Bashi, whence all roads are measured, as I have already explained to you."[Pg 51]"Having been exclusive so long, and having been compelled against her will to open her ports to strangers, there was naturally a good deal of opposition to foreigners even after the treaty was signed. The government endeavored to carry out the terms of the treaty faithfully; but there[Pg 99] was a large party opposed to it, and anxious to have the treaties torn up and the foreigners expelled. This party was so powerful that it seemed to include almost a majority of the nation, and the Kioto government took the Yeddo section to task for what it had done in admitting the foreigners. One thing led to another, and finally came the war between the Mikado and the Tycoon. The latter was overthrown, as I have already told you, and the Mikado was the supreme ruler of the land.

"When I was last here," said the Doctor, "I was in this very hotel, and had one of the regular servants of the establishment to wait on me. The evening after my arrival, I told him to have my bath ready at seven o'clock in the morning, and to bring a glass of ice-water when he[Pg 84] waked me. Exactly at seven he was at my bedside with the water, and told me the bath was waiting; and as long as I remained here he came at precisely the same hour in the morning, offered me the glass of water, and announced the readiness of the bath. I never had occasion to tell him the same thing twice, no matter what it was. Occasionally I went to Tokio to spend two or three days. The first time I went, I showed him what clothes I wished to take, and he packed them in my valise; and afterwards I had only to say I was going to Tokio, when he would immediately proceed to pack up exactly the same things I had taken the first time, or their equivalents. He never made the slightest error, and was a trifle more exact than I wished him to be. On my first journey I carried a bottle of cough-mixture to relieve a cold from which I[Pg 85] happened to be suffering. The cold had disappeared, and the bottle was empty before my second trip to Tokio; but my faithful servant wrapped it carefully in paper, and put it in a safe corner of my valise, and continued to do so every time I repeated the excursion."Suddenly into the blanks, into the black erasures, there stole the images which just now he had tried in vain to recall. All else was erased, and Norah filled the empty spaces. Her presence, voice and gesture and form pervaded his whole consciousness: there was room for nothing else. They loved each other, and to each other they constituted the sum of all that was real. There was nothing for it but to accept that, to go away together, and let all the unrealities of life, The Cedars, the salmon, the slippers, pass out of focus, be dissolved, disintegrated.... And yet, and yet he knew that he did not make the choice with his whole self. Deep down in him, the very foundation on which his character was built, was that hidden rock of his integrity, of his stern Puritanism, of the morality of which his religion was made. He was willing to blow that up, he searched for{305} the explosive that would shatter it, he hacked and hammered at it, as if in experiment to see if he had the power to shatter it. It could hardly be that his character was stronger than himself: that seemed a contradiction in terms.

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CHAPTER XAlice had a faint smile for this.

DEPARTURE FROM SAN FRANCISCO. DEPARTURE FROM SAN FRANCISCO.[Pg 74]

Ah, yes, and left her room lit, he said, joking with him out of sheer happiness.

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At this moment the steward rang the preparatory bell for dinner, and[Pg 52] the conversation ended. Half an hour later dinner was on the table, and the passengers sat down to it.Doctor Bronson said he was reminded of a story about the viaduct.

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Apr-18 11:54:57