- chapter: VII
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TWILIGHT falls slowly and tenderly in Matsushima. The trees, which spread out their arms over the waters, seem but to deepen their shadows and gradually become part of the creeping silver shadow of night. For night is scarcely dark here in the summer. The noon-rays are perpetual. The stars shine with an unusual lustre. Earth reflects the light of the moon and the stars upon its shimmering waters, its deep blue fields, its blossom-decked trees. The pebbles on the shore become whiter, and the whiteness of the sands deepens the green of the pines. Night is but one long twilight, slumberous and peaceful in fair Matsushima.
When the numerous candles are lighted in the temples on the hills, slanting | | 55 out their glimmer upon the bewildered waters, one might almost wonder whether the stars have changed their place and descended like spirits to render more fairy-like this Princess of Bays.
An oddly assorted group of five people occupied a secluded spot on the shore. The influence of the night was upon them as they gazed out with seeing eyes that reflected the beauty of the scene and the emotions that tore at their hearts. A mother and two children--one, whose boy soul had only begun to open into a graver manhood, the other a child of seven. But seven years old was Hyacinth, yet in the child's little face shone the restless, passionate nature of one old enough to feel an infinity of suffering. She it was who helplessly sobbed as they stood there by the bay--sobbed with an effort at strangulation, and who gazed not alone at the magic of the scene, but upward into the face of Komazawa.
One of the ministers broke the painful | | 56 silence. An eager, odd, and somewhat nervous young man he appeared.
"Dear friend," he said, addressing the boy Koma, "it will be much for the best. Our good friend here agrees with me in believing that it is your duty to follow the wishes of your father."
Koma did not reply, but little Hyacinth raised a face of turbulent scorn towards the speaker. She did not speak, but contented herself with clasping the hand of Koma the tighter, pressing her face close against it.
"Possibly it might be as well to put off for a year--" began the elder missionary, hesitatingly. Aoi interrupted:
"Nay, excellency, the humble one agrees with the illustrious one. My lord's son has come to manhood. It is time now that he should leave us," her voice faltered--"for a season," she added, softly.
The Reverend Mr. Blount bowed gravely.
"I am glad, madame," he said, "to | | 57 find that your views coincide with mine. Your son is--er--first of all more English than Japanese."
Koma stirred uneasily. He opened his lips as though about to speak, then closed them and turned his face towards the speaker.
"He is, in fact, one of us," continued the minister. "He has the physical appearance, somewhat of the training, and, let us hope, the natural instincts of the Caucasian. It would be not only ludicrous but wicked for him to continue here in this isolated spot, where he is, may we say, an alien, and particularly when it is his duty to follow the wishes of his father as regards his English estate. Certainly this is not where Komazawa belongs."
"I do not agree with you, excellency," said Koma, with a queer accent. "This is, indeed, my home. Do not, I beg you, be deceived in that matter. It is true that I am also Engleesh, but, ah, I am not so base to deny my other blood. | | 58 Is it not so good, excellency? Could I despise this land of my birth, my honorable, dear home?"
"Nay, son," interposed the agitated Aoi, "his excellency meant no reflection upon our Japan. But, oh, my son, you would not rebel against the will of your father?"
"No," said Koma, clinching his hands at his side, "I would not."
"Then you will go to this England, like a good son. The time has come."
Koma remained plunged in gloomy thought.
After a moment he lifted his head and looked at the elder missionary.
"How do we know the time has come?"
"Because, my son, you have arrived at the years of manhood."
"I am but sixteen years."
The younger minister answered, quickly:
"It will require four or five years, at least, in England to learn the language and ways of your people thoroughly."| | 59
"I already speak that language," said Koma, flushing darkly. "Do I not, sir excellency?"
"No and yes. You have been brought up to speak the language. It is intelligible, but queer--wrong, somehow. You speak your father's language like a foreigner."
"Very well," agreed Koma, bitterly. "Let us admit that. But may I inquire whether it will be necessary for me to go all the way to England to learn that language?"
"Well, yes. Four years in an English school will do much for you."
"Four years; and when those four years are ended I still will lack one year from my majority."
"That's right," said the missionary. "In England one attains one's majority at twenty-one. So you would have a year in which to return, if you wish it, to Japan, previous to settling in England."
"I do not know if I shall ever do that," said the boy, sadly.| | 60
"It was the wish of your father," said Aoi, pathetically.
"Yes, it was his wish," repeated Koma. "Yet I will come back each year."
"That is right," said the old minister, patting him on the shoulder.
"Your father never came back," said Aoi, sighing wistfully.
"It would be entirely out of the question for you to return each year. Be advised by me, Komazawa; I have your interest at heart," said the young minister, earnestly. "Stay in England four years, then return and visit your mother and sister."
"Let the good excellency decide for us," said Aoi, glancing appealingly at her old friend. He drew his brows together.
"Wait till the time comes to decide that," he concluded. "If the boy is old enough to leave home, he is of an age, also, to choose what he shall do. Let us not attempt to curb him."
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