- chapter: XXIX
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A FEW days later. It is early evening and the crickets are making a great bustle in the grasses, while a small, gray ape, swinging in a bamboo, is mingling its chattering with the cawing of the crows in the camphor-trees.
"Summer is passing," said Hyacinth, "for everything is complaining."
"I do not complain," said Koma.
"No; life will always be summer for you. You are not going away from Nippon."
"Are you?" he asked.
"There is no help for me," she said.
"I grow more melancholy each day."
"Is it only Japan you care about leaving?"
"Japan holds all--all that is dear to me."| | 247
"And can you enumerate them--the things that are dear to you?"
She shook her head drearily.
"No," she said, "I cannot."
"Yet you could stay here if you wished."
"No. How could I?"
"Did not that young American from the consulate in Tokyo ask you to marry him? He lives here in Japan, necessarily."
"Was he not kind?" she said.
"Why did you refuse him?"
"Oh, for many reasons."
"Tell me them."
"He belongs to the West country, after all."
"He does not think so. For your sake he would forswear even that."
"Ah, but he does so, nevertheless. The gods--no, his God--fashioned him for his own land."
"And was that the only reason why you refused him?"| | 248
"No. I do--do not--" She hesitated, and turned her head droopingly from him. "I do not love him," she said, simply.
"You did not love Yamashiro Yoshida, yet you would have married him."
"I did not know better," she said, faintly.
"But it is only a little while since."
"A month," she said; "since you returned."
"Confess to me," he said, his eyes gleaming, "that it was I who made you know the meaning of love, and I will tell you why you are not going to America to-morrow--no, nor the day after, nor until you shall go with me."
"What can I confess?" she said, tremulously. "I do not know what you wish, dear Koma." She was trembling now.
"Confess to me," he said, "else I cannot speak, for fear I should wrong you, my little one. I will not try to urge you to stay here--with me--unless--"| | 249
"I--I cannot speak," she said. "I know not what to say."
"Then I will speak," he said. "I love you, I love you, Hyacinth; with all the life that throbs within me, I love you. Do you understand? No, do not speak unless you can answer my heart with your own. I want you for my own. Ah, I know I have won you! It is not a delusion, for I see it in your eyes, your lips. You do not know it yet, you are so innocent and pure, but I--ah, I am sure of it!"
She raised her quivering face to his in the moonlight. Then suddenly her head fell upon her clasped hands.
"Ah, is this--love?" she said.
He lifted her face and kissed her lips, her eyes, then her little, trembling hands.
"This is love--and this, and this."
Later they came to a hidden path arched on either side by the drooping bamboos. The moon was above them, making a silver pathway for their feet.| | 250
"Whither do we go?" she tremulously whispered.
"I know the way," said he, gently leading her onward.
They came to an open space, a narrow field. And on the grass, the winds, gently blowing, moved back and forth in the moonlight strange wisps of white paper.
"It is the Path of Prayer," said Koma.
She understood, and was dumb with the thrilling of her emotions.
"Here," he said, "the Goddess of Mercy walks nightly. Though we are no longer sad, let us leave our prayer here among these sad petitions for her to read."
"Yes," she said, "and we will pray to Kuannon for those less fortunate than we."
Kneeling there in the silver light, they wrote on fragments of paper their simple prayers. Did the Heavenly Lady, when trailing her robes of mercy through the Path of Prayer, read also the petitions of the lovers?| | 251
They left the Path of Prayer and climbed to the summit of the hill. Softly they turned their feet towards the mission-house.
"We have said our prayers to Kuannon--now we will turn to the God of our fathers," he whispered.
They paused a moment on the missionary's doorstep. She raised her face to his.
"The Reverend Blount may refuse," she said.
"He will not," he assured her, "since he has promised me. Come!"THE END
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