Yone Santo: A Child of Japan
THE CRAFT OF INNOCENCE.
FROM that time Shizu Miura was transferred to our care, under which she continued during the short remainder of our excursion. Upon the very day of her arrival among us, a subtle change was apparent in Yone’s demeanor, the nature of which may be indicated by the circumstance that at the same time she put aside the foreign garments she had been wearing at Miss Gibson’s desire, and resumed the native dress, with all its characteristic accessories. Her delicate tact was so much a matter of instinct that I am not sure she could have explained with precision the reasons which prompted her to this proceeding. It needed but little observation, however, to discover that she was anxious to establish the closest possible connection between herself and the object of her solicitude, and to discard every outward sign or token that might convey the slightest suspicion of contrast. There was no great difficulty in accomplishing this end. Although unlike in countenance, the two girls were strikingly similar in bearing and manner. In all their movements, in their attitudes and gestures, there was a suggestion of perfect unity. Even in speech they appeared to reflect one another. But the insufficient development of many qualities in our new guest disturbed the completeness of the identity. She often produced upon us the effect of a shadowy and immature reproduction of the vivid reality with which we were familiar. Her gentleness could scarcely have exceeded Yone’s, but the subdued reserve which seemed to impart a natural grace to the one took the form, in the other, of a shrinking timidity, that could be overcome only by strenuous effort. Her voice, when she spoke English, was so low as to be almost inaudible, and while her vocabulary was abundant and apt, like that of most Japanese who study foreign languages in earnest, her utterance was hesitating and slow.
In spite of the few points of variance, there were periods when Shizu was so nearly the image of her friend as to make Miss Gibson keenly, and not always agreeably, conscious of the resemblance. She would have been better pleased if the difference had been more marked. I must say, in her behalf, that she struggled valiantly to conceal every vestige of the disfavor with which she had originally regarded the hapless child, and to extend the charity and sympathy which she knew were due ; but her judgment was controlled by the training and the associations of her whole life, and could not be easily moved to a thoroughly just consideration of the question now suddenly brought before her. She could be pitiful, and she thought herself lenient, but she could go no farther. I had no right to blame her. Knowing as absolutely as I did that Shizu’s sorrows entitled her to a commiseration far deeper than should be given to the less severely tried, I nevertheless felt myself incapable of viewing her in the same light as those who had been spared the most cruel ignominies; and if I, who believed my reason to be unobscured by pusillanimous prejudice, were forced to acknowledge this sense of treachery to my principles, it was clearly not my privilege to criticise the shortcomings of another.
It is satisfactory to remember, however, that no lack of kindly or hospitable warmth was perceptible, either by our visitor or by her young protectress. The idea that any human being could withhold the fullest measure of generous friendliness, at such a moment and under such conditions, would, indeed, have been beyond the range of Yone’s comprehension. The slight disturbance in Miss Gibson’s mind was manifest to me, probably, because I shared it, in a limited degree. In all that related to Shizu’s future welfare the American girl’s interest was zealous and unwearied. After Roberts’s departure for Yokohama, on the day following our improvised banquet, she let fall sundry observations implying disquietude and doubt respecting his sincerity of purpose. I was glad to put her at ease on the most essential point.
“ He will keep his promise,” I assured her. " I have his signature to certain papers which are sufficient to bind him. But these will not be needed. He is a man to be trusted, when he has given his word, and he has pluck enough — or obstinacy enough, if you choose — to withstand the derision he will have to encounter. His jaw bears witness to that. I don’t mean his jackdaw chatter, but his chin. He will not give up a thing he has set his mind to.”
“ I am rejoiced to believe it,” said Miss Gibson: “ it is a happy stroke of fortune for her.”
If I agreed with her, as to which I was not definitely satisfied, it did not please me to avow it too cordially.
“ Possibly,” I replied : “ she will be comfortably established, after a fashion, and I suppose he will not abuse her.”
“ Doctor, you are unfair. I think he has shown a fine spirit, and Shizu ought to be proud of the position he will give her.”
“ I dare say she will be, but I don’t admit that she ought to be, by any means. What is he ? A third or fourth rate colonial tradesman; a petty shopman and a snob. It is hard lines when we have to congratulate ourselves that we are dealing with a snob, but that is just our case. Nothing struck him so forcibly as the discovery that the girl belongs to an old family. You saw that his exaggerated notion of her former station influenced him more than any other detail. Our deft little mediator builded wiser than she knew, when she brought forward the family records. I am afraid it all turned upon that opportune revelation. Don’t look so reproachfully at me. Let me test your real estimate of this worthy gentleman. How would it affect you if the circumstances were such as to allow an attractive and eligible suitor of the same stamp to honor Yone with his addresses ? ”
“ Doctor ! How can you dream of anything so horrible ? ”
“ Precisely ; that tells the whole story. Never mind; it might be worse. I don’t deny that he is many heads and shoulders above the average of his tribe. If I were not convinced of this, and if Shizu’s silly little heart had not somehow fastened itself to him, I should have opposed the whole proceeding. My plan was to set up the school that Yone has been longing for, and let the two take charge of it together. I do not like to see my sober, wholesome projects overturned by a juvenile matchmaker.”
“ Surely this is better, in every way.”
“ Oh, well, he does n’t appear to be an utter brute, like the majority, and she will not be maltreated. What I hope is that he will shut up shop in that den of thieves, and carry her away to Europe. And that is what I expect. He can hardly stand the pressure of mockery, here, year after year. His associates will never forgive him for being a better man than themselves. He will be jeered at wherever he shows his face. The newspapers will print swinish paragraphs about him and his wife. They will call him ‘ sentimental,’ and that breaks the back of any commercial camel in this part of the world. A foreigner in Japan may be guilty of almost any infamy, — he may lie, cheat, steal, forge, pulverize the ten commandments, and hold up his head in impudent defiance of popular opinion and consular law; but let him exhibit a spark of feeling for the natives of this land, and he is made the scoff of the ‘ settlements.’ If he persists, he becomes an outcast. In the last extremity he is branded as ‘ sentimental,’ and then his doom is sealed, for that means ostracism. I think our friend Roberts has a good deal of the bull-dog in him, but he has other qualities as well, and, unless I am in error, it will not be long before an unappeasable homesickness takes possession of him. I trust he can afford to yield to it. Home is the place for him and his, hereafter. As soon as he gets there, he will begin vaporing about his high-born Oriental bride. Let him alone to make the most of the glory. Of course she will have a title, — princess, probably, — but he need not trouble himself with that matter; every Japanese girl becomes a princess the instant she touches European or American soil.”
Yone entered the room while I was saying these last words. She looked searchingly at me, as if my observation had a special interest for her.
“ May I ask if you were speaking of a princess ? ” she inquired.
“ Not a real one,” I answered ; “ only a princess of the mind, a false creation, like the dagger of another distinguished Scotchman. Nothing to be in awe of.”
“ I wonder if it is the same,” she continued. “ Have you seen Miss Jackman ? ”
“No, indeed; has she turned princess ? ”
“ You have not heard from her ? ”
“ She has left us in complete ignorance of her presence here.”
“ That will not be for long. I must tell you she has been urging me, for several days, whenever I have met her, to visit Tanegasima-san, at Nara-ya. She wished me to go on the day when I first saw Mr. Roberts, but I did not think it necessary. Now she is very angry, and declares she will complain to you. She says ‘ the princess ’ is expecting me, and scolds me for neglecting my duty. She always calls her ‘ the princess.’ I thought she had perhaps been here.”
“ She has not; but why does she concern herself with Tanegasima ? That is the last combination I should have looked for.”
Yone smiled. “ Miss Jackman has been at Nara-ya ever since she arrived in Miyanoshita. It is said that she greatly desires to become acquainted with Tanegasima-san, but finds it difficult. An interpreter is needed, and she thinks that I should be useful. I am not very willing. I have told her she must excuse me.”
“ This is delightful! ” I cried. “ The last time I had the luxury of conversing with Miss Jackman she could not devise epithets enough to denounce this lady, the Mikado, and the entire imperial household. You, Miss Gibson, must have heard some of the reverberations of her wrath.”
“ I heard the original explosion,” said Miss Gibson, laughing. “ She came straight from your office to Miss Philipson’s with the news — the news which inflamed her. I cannot imagine what she wants with the object of her former fury.”
“ Some magnificent programme of reclamation, it may be ; or, more probably, she is fascinated by the aristocratic glitter of the society at Nara-ya. The subjects of her Britannic Majesty are not the only snobs in the universe. New England has as keen a scent for a princess as old Scotland.”
“Why do you say ‘ princess ' ? ” asked Yone. “ She is the daughter of a kuge, I know, and her rank is high, but I did not think she could be named a princess.”
“ My dear, there is nothing so attractive to the people of the enlightened West as a lofty title. When they cannot get the genuine article, they console themselves with shams. If you and Shizu should go abroad, you would be hailed everywhere as princesses.”
“ I should not like that.”
“ You could not help it. When Mr. Roberts takes Shizu home, he will have a Japanese princess for a wife, mark my word. Think of that fellow married to a princess ! ”
“ Pray do not speak of him so. He will never be anything less than a prince to Shizu.”
“ Ah, she is infatuated with him. You are right, Yone. I half believe you saw this when you first went to her.”
“ It is true ; I did.”
“ Why, then, Yone,” exclaimed Miss Gibson, “ did you strive so earnestly to induce him to give her up ? ”
“ Yes, why ? ” I repeated. “ Expound that riddle, if you please.”
Instead of replying, she glanced at us alternately, a little timorously, yet with an odd, mischievous light in her eyes which I did not recognize as habitual. Then she started to run away, but apparently reminded herself that evasion was not consistent with her ordinary practice, and again confronted us, silent and demure.
“ How could you have the heart,” resumed Miss Gibson, “ to seek to separate them ? ”
“ Perhaps,” said Yone, thoughtfully and undecidedly — “ perhaps I did not. It was not my wish — I think it was not — to separate them.”
“ Why, you gave the man no peace for two successive days,” I declared. “ Be good enough to interpret yourself, immediately.”
“No, doctor, that is impossible; I do not exactly know how. But I did not intend that they should be kept apart, though I could not say so at the beginning. It was very difficult; sometimes I was deeply anxious ; but it was always my strong desire that he should not let her go.”
“That was your purpose, all through ? ”
“ That was what I hoped.”
“ You are a wily conspirator ; we shall never get to the bottom of your schemes. What do you say now, Miss Gibson ? You had better accept my theory without any more dispute. Witchery is the only word.”
Miss Gibson gave no response, but sat gazing so intently as to startle the little plotter with vague alarms. The gleam of playfulness vanished from her features.
“Have I displeased you? Was it wrong ? I meant to do what was best. I did not say a thing that was not true. And it was not a scheme, — not really a scheme. I tried to watch him, to follow his thoughts, to make him see and feel how he should act. There are many ways to show people what is just and kind. Marian, she loves him. I wished to make her happy. I knew what it would cost her to lose him. I knew, — I knew. Who could know so well as I ? Have you forgotten ” —
I hurriedly checked her. “ Hush, Yone ; you are all astray. What possesses you, my child, to suppose that we ever misconceive you ? Why should you distrust us, or yourself ? Would you rob me of my jests? That would be a more woful deprivation than any Shizu could have suffered. I believe you are resolved to remain a child throughout your life. Was it yesterday, or last week, that you came to me with your kitten and the dictionary, in the garden at Yumoto ? I wish you could have seen her, Miss Gibson ; she was the best little girl in the world, with all her sly cunning, and was bent upon proving herself the worst. It is an old trick, you perceive. Yes, Yone, you look precisely as you did that afternoon. What, six years ago ? You should have learned something, in all that time.”
“ I shall never learn to be anything but a foolish girl, doctor ; I have not changed in that. It seemed to me that Marian was offended because I had not been quite—quite frank.”
“ Miss Gibson is not such a goose, if she will pardon me for flattering her.”
“ I was only thinking,” said that young lady, “ how glad I should have been to do the very same, if I had known how.”
“ What beautiful things you say to me! ” cried Yone, her face flushing with renewed confidence and content. “ And the doctor, too, though I see that he laughs at me very often. That is what I like best, if I can be sure he is satisfied, and does not misunderstand me.”
It is hardly necessary to repeat that the danger of misunderstanding her was not formidable, and that my assurances of satisfaction would have been frequent enough, had it not been my settled determination to drive all serious reflections from her mind, and give her thoughts a lighter and gayer tendency than they were naturally disposed to assume.
“ Very well,” I said, with fictitious moroseness ; u it is you who will have to pay the penalty of your misbehavior. You have lost a chance of establishing the school which you had set your heart upon.”
“ That is hard,” she sighed ; u but perhaps another chance will come, while this was Shizu’s only one. I had to think of her, this time.”
“ This time ! Oh, certainly, you are quite right. I am glad you are beginning to think of others a little. Cultivate the habit, my dear ; make it your constant study. I don’t know anybody who is in greater need of it.”
Miss Jackman’s visitation was not long delayed. After once or twice repeating, in casual encounters, her ineffectual attempts to secure Yone’s coöperation, she presented herself at the temple on an afternoon when our party of four happened to be all united together. With massive stateliness she announced that the illustrious patroness of the Nara-ya hotel had for several days been ready to receive her, and was waiting only till the services of a suitable interpreter could be obtained. Miss Jackman was prepared to recommend Mrs. Santo as a competent medium of communication, — had, in fact, already done so, — and had tendered that humble member of society the brilliant opportunity of holding indirect converse with one of the pillars of state ; but the proposition, instead of being received with grateful acquiescence, had been persistently declined,— possibly owing to an unwillingness to cross the barrier which, in the Far East, separates the lofty from the lowly. That deterrent motive, however natural and becoming, need not prevail in the present instance, our visitor felt empowered to declare, and it was to be hoped that Dr. Charwell would exercise his influence and authority to bring about the desired result.
“ This is a matter for Yone to decide,” I remarked, at the conclusion of her exordium. “ If she does not incline to go, you can doubtless find another assistant. I should suppose, indeed, that your command of the language would render an interpreter superfluous.”
“ The princess has signified her acceptance of Mrs. Santo,” replied Miss Jackman, “ and it would be awkward to introduce another name. As for myself, I do not pretend to be at ease in the dialect of the central provinces, from which the princess comes. Mrs. Santo has no occasion to be afraid ; she will be under my protection.”
“ Afraid ! ” said Yone. “ That would be singular. I used to know her well.”
“ Know the princess ? ” questioned Miss Jackman, lifting her eyebrows.
“ Tanegasima-san studied with me, at Jo-gakko, for a long time. She was one of my own pupils.”
“ Utterly impossible ! ” exclaimed the astonished missionary. “ I am speaking of the Princess Tanegasima.”
“ It is the same individual,” I asserted, “ whatever you like to call her. I don’t know why you should be so very much surprised. The Emperor’s cousins go to the public school, and a kuge’s daughter may certainly study at the college for girls without disturbing anybody’s serenity.”
For a brief space Miss Jackman was lost in confusion. " Then that accounts ”— she began to murmur; but, recovering, she assumed a more ingratiating tone, and took up a new line of approach. “ In that case,” she said, “ Mrs. Santo should be overjoyed to meet her distinguished school companion once more. It is most interesting. I am delighted to be the means of bringing them together. Shall we appoint to-morrow, Mrs. Santo ? ”
Yone was silent, and her countenance indicated a growing discomposure. I was anxious to shield her from further importunity, but at the same time desirous to prevent the conversation from taking a hostile tone ; for I knew that, under provocation, I was as little likely as our caller to hold myself in judicious repression. While I deliberated, the proposal was repeated.
“ I will send word at what hour it will be agreeable for the princess to grant us an audience. I suppose we may say tomorrow ? ”
At this point Miss Gibson was moved to participate in the discussion : —
“ Really, Miss Jackman, I must beg you to desist. Yone objects to visiting that lady, and I respect her objection. So does Dr. Charwell. It is not to be thought of.”
“ Why not, Miss Gibson ? ” the stubborn “ reclaimer ” demanded. “ Why should she refuse the summons of one of the most exalted personages in this empire ? ”
“ I don’t choose to go into that question,” said Miss Gibson, “ though the answer is simple enough. It seems strange that a Japanese girl should be aware of restraints of propriety which are not apparent to a foreign teacher of morals.”
“ Exceedingly strange,” was the reply, loftily delivered ; “ and still more strange that the subject of morality should be brought up in this company, considering the associate that has been admitted here.”
Miss Jackman’s eyes flashed with the light of battle, as she stretched her arm toward Shizu, who sat trembling and terrified at the outburst, the cause and purport of which she but partially understood.
“ Run away, children! ” I cried, throwing open the sliding doors, and bustling the couple into the corridor with scant ceremony ; " get to your own quarters. This lady uses language not fit for young gilds to hear.”
“ Young girls ! ” she scoffed ; “ young girls, indeed ! I came in Christian charity, ready to overlook the misdeeds of that abandoned woman, and I am met with insult and vituperation.”
“For Heaven’s sake, Miss Jackman, let us have peace! It is no pleasure to quarrel with you every month in the year. Why can’t you let us alone ? ”
“ I entered these walls,” she responded, “ with peace and forgiveness in my heart, bearing an invitation from one who sits in high places, — an invitation emanating from a source which makes it equivalent to a command. The princess ” —
The incessant iteration of this fictitious title was too much for my nerves. “ Come, Miss Jackman,” I protested, “ you know very well that there is no princess in this neighborhood. It does n’t make a woman a princess to become the mother of the Emperor’s son. Why, it was only a few weeks ago that you were boiling with indignation against this identical person. You told me that the court in which she figured was a court of shame and infamy. Don’t you remember wishing you were the Empress, to give her a trouncing ? You have grown wonderfully tolerant, of a sudden.”
“ I am not accountable to you, sir, for my judgments or my actions.”
“ Assuredly not; you may endure, and pity, and embrace, to your soul’s content. But you must allow us our privileges as well. You have been informed a dozen times that Yone prefers not to call upon Tanegasima-san.”
“ I see where her preference lies, and it is not extraordinary that you should encourage it; but I confess I am amazed to discover that Miss Gibson, whom I thought a stranger to the vileness of this land, has been inveigled into a recognition of such a creature as I see flaunting herself in your circle.”
“You can’t affect me in the least by remarks of that sort,” interposed Miss Gibson. “You cannot even make me angry. But it is right that you should learn that the young girl to whom you allude is about to marry a gentleman of good standing in foreign circles.”
For the second time in this short interview, our unbidden guest’s self-confidence received a staggering blow. “ I don’t believe a word of it ! ” she vociferated.
“ That’s a pity, for you are one of the first to hear it; and,” I suggested, “ it might gratify you to circulate so pleasant an item of intelligence.”
“ You refer to that Mr. Roberts,” she continued. “ If the thing were credible, he ought to receive a warning. I have no high opinion of him, to be sure, but her I know thoroughly. I wrestled and pleaded with her day after day, and there was no grace within her. It may be my duty to admonish him.”
“ I wish to goodness you would ; you failed with her; now you can try your luck with him. You will find him in Yokohama, at No. 407. Do go. I dare say the princess can spare you for a week.”
“I will go when it suits me,” she retorted, in a state of combustion for which, I am bound to admit, I had not been backward in furnishing fuel; “ but not before I hold up a mirror in which Miss Gibson may witness the precipice on which she stands. She shall know from my lips, before it is too late, — if indeed it is not now too late, — the character of this man who is luring her on the downward path, and dragging her in the mire with the refuse and dregs of Japanese iniquity ; this man who, for his own base purposes, sets up a pretense of monopoly in humanity; who makes a mockery of us who labor for righteousness, and of all other sacred things ” —
She stopped short, in the middle of her tirade, and fixed her gaze upon Miss Gibson, who had seated herself at a table, and was now writing with rapidity.
“What are you doing?” she asked, in an altered tone.
“ I am taking it all down ; I am something of an expert in short-hand. I shall publish every syllable.”
It was an afternoon of surprises for Miss Jackman, upon whom this third unexpected statement acted like an electric shock. In her wildest flights of fantasy there was always a method which kept her from overleaping the outermost bounds of discretion, and she was instantly alive to the inconvenient consequences that would follow the execution of the threat. It did not occur to her to doubt its reality. She had no time to reflect that it might be a ruse, extemporized with the sole view of stemming the torrent of her eloquence. She gathered herself together, and swept forth without further articulate speech ; breaking the silence only by staccato exclamations, which, though charged with belligerent significance, were of a nature to elude phonographic reproduction, and fulgurating in fierce glances the wrath which she did not venture to proclaim in words.
That same evening, before sunset, we had another glimpse of her ample form, — the last in that region, — as it was carried past our windows in a kago, along the road leading to Hakone. Our inference that she had definitely shaken the dust of Miyanoshita from her feet was confirmed, a little later, by a messenger from Nara-ya, who, previous to delivering a missive addressed to Yone, imparted the information that the innkeeper had for a considerable time been expecting the foreign lodger to bring a Japanese lady whom his principal patroness especially desired to greet; that the foreigner had been permitted to tarry at the honjin, which was uncomfortably overcrowded, solely because of her promise to satisfy this expectation; that she had just now acknowledged her inability to fulfill the condition, and had consequently been politely requested to vacate her apartment, and seek accommodation elsewhere.
The letter, which was from Tanegasima, expressed the pleasure with which the writer had heard that Yone was close at hand, and the hope that she might receive a visit from her friend and teacher of former years. The phraseology was intricate and affected, in accordance with the courtly forms prescribed for epistolary intercourse, but evidences of sincere feeling were discernible through the ornate verbal embroidery. Yone read it more than once, and pondered deeply before acquainting us with its tenor.
“ If I thought that I were needed,” she finally said, “ if she were sick, if I could help her in the smallest trifle, I would ask permission to go. But she is busy with lively occupations, her hours pass lightly from morning till night, and I truly know of no way in which I can serve her or give her pleasure. It pains me to hold myself back from her, but I have no belief that I could be useful; and we are so far — so very far — apart.”
She slowly folded the paper, and looked thoughtfully at Miss Gibson and me. “Are you willing to advise me ? ” she asked.
“ Dr. Charwell knows better than I,” the Boston girl responded ; upon which I told her that it was not a matter to cause her serious concern, either way, and that she might safely trust her own instincts.
A few minutes later Shizu’s voice was heard, speaking softly, but earnestly, in her native language. She saw that our attention was attracted, and reminding herself, apparently, that she could not be comprehended by Miss Gibson, drew nearer to that lady, and proceeded in English, her low, mild, measured tones sounding like a fine and delicate echo of Yone’s clear accents.
“ I ask pardon of everybody ; it was not right for me to speak as if I had a secret with Yone. It was only that I am forgetful, — not my intention to be rude. I wished to say that perhaps she does not know all the reasons why Tanegasima writes to her. I can understand a little better. When I was very lonely, not long ago, I hoped each day that I might see a face that would look kindly at me, and hear such weeds as a friend would speak, to make me less sorrowful. I was always thinking that if I could call to my side some dear companion of the years that seemed far away, the years when I was a child, my sadness would be easier to bear. Then I heard that Yone was near me. Oh, I cannot tell you what I felt, nor what was in my heart, when she came and stood over me, with love and pity in her eyes. It is not the same with Tanegasima as it was with me, — no, all is different. She has faithful servants to obey her, she can be gay, she is powerful to do great things ; there are many who will help to drive grief from her and fill her thoughts with pleasure. But that is not enough; ah, Yone, it is not enough. Do you remember the schooldays when she was so happy ? I do not forget them. I think she never can forget them. Now she is in the midst of grandeur ; most things that she wants she has but to command, and they are hers. But not all. There is one thing that she does not command. She asks it gently and without pride. Her letter is like a sister’s. She wishes to be led back, for a little while, to the time when you and she were close in friendship. She wishes to be made for one hour the same young girl that was given to your care, and to be carried to the old place by her teacher’s side. Who can do this for her but Yone? There is no other. Dear Yone, you have been good to me in the greatest trouble of my life. Be good to her. You tell us she does not need you, but you cannot be sure of that. Do not refuse. It is not difficult; there is nothing to prevent you. I shall be so glad if you will go.”
It was manifest, long before she had finished, that her supplication could not be resisted. Yone’s answer was not immediate, but in her pause there was no sign of doubt or indecision.
“We will go together,” she murmured ; “ early to-morrow, if the doctor and Marian consent.”
“I shall go if you tell me,” said Shizu, “ but it is you that she wants.”
When we separated, two hours later, Miss Gibson turned to Shizu with unusual warmth. “ Will you kiss me, dear, to-night ? ” she asked.
“ To-night ? ” repeated Shizu, with a peculiar intonation which struck my ear curiously, but to which the American girl appeared to attach no especial significance.
“To-night, and every night, if you care for our foreign caress,” she said tenderly.
“ I do care, greatly,” replied Shizu, with more than her usual gravity.
“ I know it is not supposed to mean anything, here,” continued Miss Gibson ; “ but Yone lets me kiss her, like one of my own countrywomen.”
“ To me it would mean much,” our guest responded, again with a singular vibration in her voice, though the words were so softly breathed as to be scarcely distinguishable. She moved slowly across the room, and as she passed me I saw that she was contending with a suddenly awakened emotion. Dropping upon her knees, and bending forward, she lifted her new friend’s hand to her lips.
“ That is not what I wished, at all! ” hastily exclaimed the recipient of this unexpected salutation, surprised and perplexed.
Without further remark, Shizu bowed and left us. Yone would have followed on the instant, but was checked by a demand for information.
“ Why did she do that ? I wanted her to kiss me, as you do. I thought she understood.”
“ I believe she did understand,” Yone answered, somewhat confused. “ You will excuse her; you saw that she was agitated. I have told you of her sensitiveness, and she is proud as well. That is a fault she cannot put aside.”
“Proud! Why, she is all humility. Surely it was not pride that made her kneel before me. I cannot let her do such things.”
“ That is not humility, in Japan; here every one kneels. She desired to show that she was grateful; but to be kissed by you, — she did not look for that. She was not prepared, and she could not accept it. I am afraid, Marian, that I explain very badly. You must not think there is anything wrong or vain in her pride. It is very simple, and I am not at all ashamed of her for it. Perhaps I should not call it pride ; there may be a better word, though I do not know it. Sometimes it seems to me that pride and humility are exactly the same. But I can tell you in another way: if you will kiss her on the day when she is married to Mr. Roberts, she will thank you not only with her lips, but with her whole heart and soul.”
Miss Gibson did not answer immediately. After a short delay she said : —
“ I see my mistake. I should have taken her in my arms, without speaking a word.”
“ Ah, if you could have done that! But ” —
“ But it is too late now. You are right, Yone. I will wait.”
“ And you will think as well of her as before ? ”
“ Have no fear : I shall think a great deal of her self-respect. My feeling for Shizu is all that yon could wish ; you shall see that it is. And so shall the doctor.”
“ You have been out of my depth for the last ten minutes,” I declared. “ I should be drowned, if I had not something more solid under my feet than your fanciful metaphysics. To tell you the truth, I was nearly asleep.”
It was not telling them the truth, nor anything near it; but I imagined it would please Miss Gibson to hear me say so.
During the few remaining days of our inland sojourn, it was noticeable that this large-hearted American’s intellectual activity was strongly stimulated, and that she was restlessly eager for opportunities to demonstrate the sincerity of her good-will toward all deserving mankind. Her succinct explanation of the impulse which possessed her was that she could not sit still and see those two little heathens doing all the good. She had been most effectively moved by Yone’s phenomenal success in promoting the union of Shizu and the Scotchman ; and, in a spirit of emulation, she set herself to the task of readjusting the destiny of more than one of her companions. The ardor with which she undertook the redress of Yone’s wrongs often surprised and embarrassed the object of her advocacy. She began to construct elaborate schemes for rescuing her cherished friend from what she termed the present thralldom, very few of which, I was obliged to inform her, had the merit of being practical. She went so far, on more than one occasion, as to propose, unblusliingly, to my face, that the plan of divorce which I had suggested for Arthur Milton’s acceptance should still be carried out, with the simple difference of substituting me, Charwell. for the runaway scapegrace.
“ Not that abominable wretch ; oh, no ! But I will give her to you, doctor ; you shall take her, and make her free and happy.”
She returned so often to this attack that I found it necessary to talk seriously to her.
“ My dear Miss Gibson,” said I, “ you must not speak of this again to any person. You compel me to remind you that Yone is another man’s wife. You would not think of such a thing, if you were not, as your recent guide and philosopher would say, ‘in Japan.’ Wait one moment. I think you are about to tell me that I overlooked the obstacle of her present marriage when it was a question of uniting her to Milton. But in that case I had in view the prospect — at least the possible prospect — of a life of almost unbounded happiness for Yone. She loved the young man with a love as intense and absorbing as it was suddenly inspired; and if he had been worthy of her, I could have reconciled myself to straining a good many points of conventional delicacy, for the sake of brightening and cheering her whole existence. But there is now no such object to be considered. Even if she were entirely unfettered, I should not ask her to take a step of the kind you suggest, unless it were absolutely necessary, to preserve her from great and otherwise unavoidable danger. Why, she is an infant, in my eyes. I have watched her growth since she was a little child. I have no feeling for her but that of a father. Her affection for me is simply a fond daughter’s. It would shock me even to think of her in any other relation. I beg you never to reopen the subject, either with me or any one else. It might lead me to forego or abridge the gratification I now have in watching over her as a guardian.”
A guardian ! ” exclaimed she, struck by the word ; " and why not a guardian always ? I heard something of what happened when you thought of adopting her, before ; but what does that matter ? If that old boat-maker could be brought to relinquish her for one purpose, he would certainly do it for another, and a better. Why, the trouble is ended already. Nothing can be easier, and it would make me — it would make us all so happy.” The impulsive girl glowed with anticipative delight.
“ You must not think I have neglected any inquiry that can be useful,” I said. " I believe I have left nothing undone in search of methods by which Yone’s chains might be loosened. Her marriage with a foreigner is possible. Her adoption, situated as she now is, is impossible by the laws of the empire.”
“ That seems incredible,” she replied. “ Why one, if not the other ? ”
“ There may be sound reasons, — or it may be only an oversight. But there is no chance of getting the rule relaxed at this day. I have served the State as well as many, but not for me nor any other will the rulers consent to waive a single legal right, while they continue bound down by the vicious and oppressive foreign treaties. They will yield nothing, until their independence is restored to them. They are thoroughly justified, though the individual hardships are severe. You will understand, however, that if Yone’s grandmother had agreed to break off the proposed marriage, and had left her here, alone and unprovided for, as I hoped she would, then I should have taken her unhesitatingly ; for I am sure the authorities would not have interfered to restrain me from following what they would consider a humane impulse. But the child was provided for, in a way, and now her transfer from Santo to me, as an adopted daughter, would not be sanctioned. If done at all, it would have to be done in defiance of an usage which has all the force of Law. Santo would never risk the consequences of such a violation of precedent, and I would do nothing to subject her to the discomfort of public notoriety, or discussion, or criticism ; unless, as I have said, it were to save her from some greater evil than seems likely to befall her.”
“ How can you talk so about it ? ” Miss Gibson cried. “ Have you so little — No, not that — forgive me, doctor.”
“ I have no wish to talk about it in any way,” I answered. “ Let this matter rest forever. If, in time, I see a clearer path than now, you shall know of it, I promise you.”
Then she desisted, — and to my great content, although it was impossible to remain unmoved by these evidences of generous and womanly sensibility. Her energies were thenceforward applied to the development of projects more consistent with the necessities of Yone’s position ; and in these she had no cause to complain of my lack of interest or readiness to coöperate.
One little incident occurred to cloud, though only for a moment, the cheerfulness of our excursion. At the end of the tour, we chanced to pass a night in the village of Tonozawa, at a house much frequented by foreigners, the landlady of which regarded us with an air of partial recognition, as she superintended the preparations for supper. She asked when we had honored her place before, and seemed surprised to hear that this was our first visit. Later in the evening, she submitted for our edification a collection of autographs, native poetry, ancient Chinese maxims, and more or less elaborate sketches, left with her, in accordance with a common custom, by travelers from near and far. Not appreciating the merit of the ideographic writings, Miss Gibson and I were glancing over them somewhat carelessly, when an exclamation from Yone diverted our attention. She had risen to her feet, and, grasping a scroll in her hand, she bent upon the hostess a look of mingled pain and reproach, as if grieved by the idea that the woman had designedly inflicted an unwelcome surprise upon her. Immediately after, realizing the injustice of this suspicion, she resumed her seat, and with a faltering hand replaced the paper upon the table, not attempting to conceal it, — which, in fact, would have been totally contrary to Yone’s open disposition. We, her foreign companions, hardly needed to look at it, knowing instinctively that it must be the handiwork of Milton, who had passed many days of the early spring in this neighborhood. It was a medley of disconnected drawings which he had contributed to the general store, — bits of landscape, figure groups, and a number of outline heads ; among which latter, Yone’s, mine, and his own were included. The likenesses were all excellent, though rapidly produced. That of himself was bright and spirited, presenting him in the best and happiest humor ; while into Yone’s he had, perhaps unwittingly, thrown an expression which seemed to show what the tendency of his feeling toward her had been some time before he allowed it to become apparent. As I have remarked, she made no effort to put the sheet out of sight, but continued to keep it in view, until her lip ceased quivering and her eyes grew clear, and the composure which had briefly deserted her was regained. Then she turned to us with a plaintive smile, which would, I think, have touched the stoniest heart that ever hardened itself to human sorrow.
“ You will buy it for me, doctor ” — she began ; then paused, reflecting.
We waited with concern for her next words.
“ And destroy it,” she added softly.
HOW THE PEST CAME TO JAPAXT.
Our holidays were over, and we returned to Tokio, to encounter fewer changes than might have been expected. A correspondence had been opened between Miss Gibson and her former associates, the interlineal reading of which showed that it was hoped, on the Philipson side, that the credit of the establishment might not be injured by a sudden breach ; the direct suggestion being that it might, on reflection, seem more judicious to continue, at least to outward appearances, the same terms of intercourse as before. This proffer was in no wise misconceived by Miss Gibson, but it indicated what was manifestly the most convenient course for herself ; and so, pending her ultimate decision, she resumed her residence with the two sisters, this time as a boarder, and without especially defined functions. She busied herself much with the children, and took a deep interest in Yone’s private projects of benevolence, the extent and elaborate organization of which surprised her, as indeed they would have surprised any one not thoroughly familiar with the extraordinary cheapness of food and lodgings among the natives of Japan, and the amount of wholesome instruction that can be imparted at infinitesimal cost, under intelligent and systematic management.
A culminating shock of astonishment was reserved for her in the discovery that, during our absence, a spacious edifice had been erected upon the open ground at the rear of my dwelling, and made ready for the accommodation of more than fourscore children, •— to be chosen by herself and Yone from the humblest strata of the populace, — at a total disbursement not exceeding two hundred dollars ; and that the working expenses of this frugally administered institution, including the outlays for teachers, for books and other paraphernalia, and for occasional juvenile festivals, were estimated at twenty-five dollars each month. Here, at last, was something to live for ! It was a wonder that Shizu could resist the temptation to renounce her matrimonial prospects, and dedicate herself to this matchless enterprise. What, in comparison, were the ignes fatui of Yokohama, or even the more substantial glories of the outer world, — Scotland, Britain, Europe, the broad continents of the West ?
In the person of Mr. Roberts, however, a fact existed which neither argument nor imaginative sophistry could nullify or extinguish. Under his guardianship, now legitimately exercised, the young girl was soon transferred to the new position in her old home in the adjacent port. As I had foreseen, it was not long before the moral atmosphere became too oppressive to be tolerated by the adventurous merchant, and, to escape being stifled outright, he took rapid measures for transferring himself and his belongings to a healthier social clime. The little matron came several times, with her Scotch step-children, to visit us in Tokio, hoping, by gradual farewells, to soften the impending separation from her schoolfellow and friend. It was not known to any of us then that no words of final parting would ever be spoken. Between Yone and her American coadjutor a charming and happy alliance was established, unimpeded by the difference in their ages, which was nearly ten years. It appeared, indeed, that in all their little joint proceedings the foreigner was generally ready to transfer to her younger companion the direction which the Japanese, on the other hand, would gladly have yielded to her older and more mature associate. One point of disagreement, however, always divided them. No earnestness, no eloquence of entreaty, would induce Yone to visit Marian Gibson at her own dwelling. Into the house of the Philipsons she would not enter, even to meet the friend whom she loved. Those women had struck at her honor and good name, and the spirit usually so yielding and docile was for once aroused to a sharp and abiding sense of injury. She could not be turned from her avowal that she would never set foot in their school, except in the event of being called thither on some errand of charity or humanity, — a contingency of which she could foresee no possibility.
Marian regretted this resolution, but could not withhold the acknowledgment that it was just, and necessary for Yone’s self-respect; and this position she hotly maintained whenever the Philipsons incautiously ventured an attack upon any single act of her comrade. She managed her contests with fine strategy, I was told, presenting an aspect of coolness which she did not really feel, and thereby provoking her antagonists into glaring general indiscretions of speech ; immediately upon the utterance of which she would draw forth a memorandum book, and take notes with phonographic rapidity, murmuring, the while, dark and mysterious allusions to the work she was preparing for speedy publication, on the broad question of the fitness of missionary measures and men, with chapters especially designed for and applicable to missionary women. But the bold and courageous attitude thus preserved in presence of the enemy was by no means consistently adhered to in confidential intercourse with the children, who were always clamorous for news of their beloved Yone, and for messages of fond remembrance. These were invariably received, and not infrequently imparted, with an emotion which, if perceived or suspected by the heads of the establishment, might have seriously impaired the glory of Miss Gibson’s dashing triumphs over her elders.
In July, 1879, occurred an act which, in due time, will take its place in history, notwithstanding all efforts to exclude it, as one of the most revolting and inhuman outrages ever perpetrated by superior force of arms upon a feeble nation. Cholera, the most dreaded scourge of the Far East, had already made its appearance in isolated cases, and the government of Japan was straining all its authority to annul the dangers of former years by establishing an effective quarantine at the most frequented seaports. In the midst of these laudable endeavors, a German merchant steamer arrived at Yokohama directly from an infected district. She was, naturally, ordered to comply with the quarantine regulations duly promulgated. Her captain, however, appealed to the German diplomatic authorities, who immediately sent a Prussian ship of war to the scene, under convoy of which the suspected vessel was brought into Yokohama harbor, and her passengers and cargo landed, in defiance of protests and warnings from Japanese officers of every rank, and from foreigners in their medical service. What may, perhaps, be regarded as aggravating the offense was the fact that the government of Japan was at that moment engaged in lavishing hospitality with singular and exceptional liberality upon two grandsons of the Emperor of Germany ; and a peculiar coincidence in the proceedings was perceptible in the active approval of the quarantine violation which was exhibited by a foreign envoy at Tokio, who represented a sovereign most nearly allied, after their own family, to the young princes in question. The German and British ministers boldly maintained that the interests of commerce must not be endangered on so insufficient a plea as the possible destruction of any indefinite number of Japanese subjects by one of the most horrible pests known to mankind. For some time, indeed, it was a matter of doubt whether British or German vessels had been mainly instrumental in importing the disease. The majority of the official delegates from European courts looked on in calm indifference. The diplomatic agent from the United States, on the contrary, viewed the performance with unconcealed horror and aversion. One of the most illustrious soldiers of modern times, who was then sojourning in Japan, — an ex-President of the American republic, bringing to an end a memorable voyage around the world, — openly avowed his opinion that the Japanese authorities would have been fully warranted in directing the guns of their powerful ironclads against the invading ships, and straightway sinking them, if they stirred beyond the boundaries imposed by rules of quarantine.
But the government, fearing — no doubt wisely — to incur the ill - will of the potent and unscrupulous Chancellor Bismarck, saw no other course open than to redouble its precautions, and protest with energy against the cruel outrage of which it had been the victim.
With quick and angry stride, the plague took possession of the country surrounding the open ports, and the most populous part of the empire was stricken with desolation. The circumstance that Europeans and Americans were not exempt from this inroad, as they mainly had been from previous attacks, gave it an importance, in foreign eyes, not usually accorded to such visitations. The democratic and impartial dealings of the destroyer struck alarm to the breasts of all aliens. Attempts, more or less efficacious, were made in various directions to impede the progress of the disease. In Tokio, particularly, certain well-concerted hygienic arrangements were organized.
As was naturally to be expected, though not entirely to my satisfaction, Yone presented herself at an early stage of the proceedings. Something must be given her to do ; where and of what nature she would willingly leave to me. But I must appoint her to some line of service, or she would feel it her duty to seek a field for herself, — and these, unhappily, were already numerous.
I was not a little perplexed by this appeal. I felt that she had really not strength enough to go into regular hospital work, and it was only in a hospital that I could even partially watch over her. I reminded her of her fragile condition, which she did not attempt to deny.
“ It is very true,” she answered ; “ I am not so strong as I ought to be. But my weakness is not unwholesome weakness. Why, cholera cannot come near me. I should carry disinfection into every room I entered. When I fan me, the odors of carbolics and all sorts of acids fly many yards about me.”
This was not so convincing as she perhaps hoped, but it suggested the idea that if I kept her near me she might always be reasonably safe from infection ; whereas in her own region, though not in her own dwelling, the provocations to disease were unnumbered. I proposed that we should ask Miss Gibson to give us her counsel, knowing that she would assent to everything for our dear child’s advantage.
“Oh, surely,” said Yone; “and if I can work beside Marian, I shall be so well pleased. What is she doing now ? ”
“ She is under Dr. hi——, one of the best of leaders. That is, she was yesterday ; but she will tell us soon. It is close upon her hour to be here.
Soon, indeed, she came, entering in a state of no little excitement, which increased the moment she caught sight of Yone.
“ This is a strange piece of fortune, to find you here ! ” she exclaimed. “ I am so glad. It has saved me the trouble of sending for her, doctor,” she added, turning to me. “Would you ever believe it ? We have cholera all over the school.”
“ Nothing easier to believe,” I replied, “ considering the notions of drainage, ventilation, food, and everything pertaining to health that have always prevailed there. Ah, well; having defied and disobeyed all my injunctions, I suppose they now want me to go and undo the mischief they have set on foot. If I succeed, it will be the happy result of their petitions to Heaven; if I fail, it will be owing to my lack of skill.”
“ Don’t talk so, doctor,” said Miss Gibson ; “ this is not a time for ill-feeling, and I know you cannot mean all that you say. Come and help us with good work, and let those poor ladies manage their fastings and prayers.”
“ What! ” I shouted. “ Fastings — and prayers ! Have they forgotten what I told them upon that very point, and the reasons for my warning ? Hearken to me, Miss Gibson : go back at once, and take Yone with you. She will go, I presume ? ”
“ Yes,” said Yone, “ I will go now.”
“ Very well; I will follow in half an hour. But unless you can assure me, at the door, that there is plenty of nourishing food in preparation, — beef tea and chicken broth, above all, — and that the children are not to be harassed by praying panics, which will go far to take away their weak little capacity of resistance to the disease, I swear to you I will not go inside the house, nor move one step in trying to help you.”
“ I think, doctor, you use your opportunity rather unfairly,” said Miss Gibson dejectedly.
“ Not so, not so ; what right have you to imagine that I would oppose any practice which these ladies follow in the name of their faith, unless I saw peril in it ? What I protest against is the resort to fasting at a moment when physical nourishment should be increased by every possible means, and the fatal error of allowing these timorous infants to believe themselves threatened by a danger which nothing but supernatural agencies can avert. I have told you repeatedly that I am an enemy to no man’s religion. But I speak now as a practical physician. Some day you shall see the records of the epidemic in Scotland, a quarter of a century ago. You can soon learn the ghastly consequences of spreading superstitious terror among starving people at such a time. You can see, also, what the most popular and powerful of English statesmen thought it his duty to do, in the face of a fanatical demonstration which was intended to destroy his political life. But go — go! Every instant may be of vital importance ! ”
“ Come, Marian,” said Yone ; “ you know that the doctor must understand best. We will go at once, doctor, and will do everything that is possible.”
The impetuous Boston girl yielded to her calm and earnest companion, and they hastened to the scene of their new labors.
CHARMS AND SPELLS.
Miss Gibson’s quick and energetic temperament was not without distinct advantages, at times. On arriving at the seminary, the two girls chanced to be met, at the very door, by that notable reclamatory agent, Miss Jackman. This lady, it will be readily believed, had brought back from the country no increased tenderness for the Japanese girl, whose fastidiousness had thwarted one of her favorite enterprises. She planted herself on the threshold, and began to interrogate.
“ May I ask, Miss Gibson, upon what authority you propose to admit that young person to this establishment ? ”
Miss Gibson, I was afterward told, glared at her questioner for perhaps twenty seconds, expanding, the while, with gathering wrath. She then commenced to brandish her umbrella in a wild and irregular fashion, which the most practiced of French tambour-majors would have found it difficult to emulate. Presently, however, the movements took a more methodical shape. They seemed to menace the portly “ reclaimer ” from every possible direction, except the open way to the street. That was left clear, but on all other sides magical and supernatural passes weirdly threatened her, until, totally bereft of self-possession, she bowed her heavy head, and plunged toward the thoroughfare ; acknowledging her defeat by an inefficacious whimper, as incongruous with the body from which it emanated as a mouse’s tiny squeak proceeding from the ponderous and ivory jaws of an elephant.
Slamming the door after her discomfited adversary, Miss Gibson turned, with a look of exultation which showed that the surrounding troubles were momentarily forgotten, and exclaimed : — “ There ! I always knew our sword exercise would do me a good turn one day. I learned that eight years ago, Yone, dear; but oh, it does make the wrist ache ! I will teach it to you by and by.”
Yone laughed, actually laughed, as in the forests of Hakone ; but, soon remembering the needs of the situation, said :
“ I will run to the children at once. And you, Marian, please go and get the prayer classes stopped, at least for today, as Dr. Charwell ordered us.”
The two girls separated on their diverse errands, and, thirty minutes later,
I found them able to relieve all my immediate anxieties. Miss Gibson had gained her point by fixing upon the mind of the elder Miss Philipson — who fancied herself hourly succumbing to the disease, although she had shown thus far no single symptom of it — that I would not set foot within the premises upon any other condition ; and Yone, after a first hasty visit to the little people, and making them half delirious with the joyous news that she had come to take care of them, had flown to the kitchen, where, conquering the cook absolutely by the mere brightness of her salutation and the warmth of her sympathetic inquiries, she had been given complete command; had turned the storeroom inside out, partially converted all the available beef and chicken into soups, sent for more material, and made the house redolent with appetizing odors, so wholesome and invigorating as to drive away, for a time, the dire disquietude which was beginning to prevail.
Heavy cares soon descended upon us. The poor children, whom a false idea of sanitary economy had made ready victims to the pest, began to droop and die. I was obliged, before long, to run out to Santo’s place, and inform that irascible personage that he could not expect his wife’s return for an indefinite period; whereupon, as was anticipated, he flung himself into a rage.
“ Is it my wife, or is it not my wife, that you are plotting to keep away from me ? ” he vociferated, with flaring eyes.
“ Undoubtedly it is your wife, my most amiable Santo ; but for the rest, nobody is plotting to keep her away from you.”
“ I know all about it. She was with you in the country for the best part of this year.”
“ Less than a month, you will find, Santo, if you consult that admirable memory which is one of your finest possessions, and excites the envy of all your neighbors.”
“ And now she has been absent a week.”
Two days, if you please. Send for the soroban, and make the calculation with your own nimble fingers. You will see that it is precisely two days.”
“ It does not matter at all. I have had my eyes wide open. Now, look you, she is an aristocrat. Do you think I care for aristocrats ? Not so much as a spark from my anvil. But it suited me to have an aristocrat for my wife. You need not tell me! I know she comes directly from the Empress Suiko, many ten thousand years ago. But she belongs to me, and I will not have her plotting to keep away, because she is high-born. Yes, yes ; I know, I know! ”
“ Excellent Santo, did she ever tell you she was high-born ? ”
“ No, no ; but I am not a frog in a well. I know ; yes, indeed ! ”
“ Well, she certainly never made any boasts to me, and it seems you are the only one that talks about it. As for plotting to stay away, she shall come home to-day, if you like, but she will perhaps bring the cholera with her.”
The boat-builder staggered, as if he had received a blow in the centre of his thick forehead from one of his heaviest adzes, and for a moment remained speechless. The word “ cholera ” was invested with terrors too awful to be expressed in any language available by the class to which he belonged. He retreated from me, gasping for breath.
“ Where, where ” — he stammered.
“ Where is she, do you mean ? She is in my care, safe enough. You had better leave her with me until the disease has passed away from Japan. I have far too much regard for you, my strong-minded and warm-hearted Santo, to allow any risk to come near your person.”
“ Thanks ; yes, thanks. You are always my friend. But you, Charwellsama, •—you yourself ? ”
“ You are too kind,” I answered, with some surprise at this unexpected sign of consideration ; “ but doctors are never in danger, you know. You need not fear for me.”
“ Why should I fear for you ? ” he demanded, having now made his way outside of the house, and put a considerable space between himself and me. “ You ! It is all in your business. I am not thinking of you. No ; it is the danger you bring here, to me, Santo Yorikichi. I beg you to leave me. Perhaps already ” —
His voice faltered, and his bronzed countenance took on an unwholesome bluish hue.
“ Santo,” said I, “ it is singular a marine architect of your reputation cannot comprehend that when a man is a brute it is not absolutely commanded by nature that he should also be a fool. The teachings of your earliest childhood ought to remind you that there are magical charms against which all the deadly diseases put together have no power. I have thrown one of these charms around you. I came to-day for that purpose. I have been doing it ever since I arrived. In fact, I have just finished. You are perfectly safe. But there is a condition ” —
“ Yes, yes — anything, anything,” he palpitated ; “ only give me the charm.”
“ It is already in operation, though you cannot see it,” said I ; " a wave of my hand has fastened it upon your body, unknown to you. And the condition”—
“ Ah, I will be true to it.”
“It is merely that you should speak no word to any person of what I have bestowed upon you. You will give heed to this.”
“Oh, yes,”he answered indifferently.
” But you must take great care,” I added. “ If you tell what has happened, others will apply to me, and the protection I give them will be drawn away from you. Be warned ! ”
“ Not a syllable shall pass my lips ! ” exclaimed the selfish boor, with a fervor born of newly excited fears.
Then all will be well. Live quietly, eat sparingly,” — I repeated a few maxims for his general guidance, — “ and the cholera will leave you unharmed.”
As I walked away, I endeavored to congratulate myself that I had made one human being— of a tolerably low grade, but still human — confident and reliant in the midst of a panic-stricken community. Santo felt himself entirely safe, with all the trustfulness of a believer in spells, incantations, and the mysterious potency of a science unfamiliar to him. No preventive, however skillfully compounded, no watchfulness of treatment, would have gone a hundredth part as far toward rendering him inaccessible to the epidemic. For such as he, a firm conviction that infection cannot touch them is an almost certain guarantee of exemption. I was reasonably sure, then, that I had made one wretched creature’s life secure by appealing to his blind ignorance and superstition. After all, it is perhaps not only among the illiterate that medical craft finds it necessary to resort to such devices, and it might not be disadvantageous if intelligence and enlightenment could sometimes be wrought upon as effectively.
E. H. House.