The Crimson Azaleas_ A Novel

The Crimson Azaleas_ A Novel
Category: British / Japan / Fiction
Title: The Crimson Azaleas_ A Novel
Release Date: 2017-10-08
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Crimson Azaleas, by H. De Vere (Henry DeVere) Stacpoole

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Title: The Crimson Azaleas

Author: H. De Vere (Henry De Vere) Stacpoole

Release Date: October 8, 2017 [eBook #55709]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE CRIMSON AZALEAS***

 

E-text prepared by Roger Frank, Ernest Schaal,
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THE CRIMSON AZALEAS



[pg v]

CONTENTS.

PART ONE

THE TRAGEDY OF THE NIKKO ROAD

CHAPTER PAGE

I. The Road to Nikko5

II. The Blind One11

III. The Lost One20

IV. Amidst the Hills25

V. The Tea House of the Tortoise31

VI. The Dreamer and the Dragon44

VII. How Campanula Brought Fortune to theHouse of the Tortoise—and Other Things54

VIII. The Surprising Story of Momotaro—Akudogiand Spotted Dog61

IX. The House of the Clouds71

X. Of Mousmès and Other Things82

PART TWO

THE MASSACRE OF THE BLUE-BELLS

XI. The Dream91

XII. The Foreign Devils101

XIII. The Monastery Garden107

[pg vi]

XIV. Nagasaki by Night119

XV. M'Gourley's Love Affair124

XVI. The Philosophy of Evil135

XVII. The House by Night141

XVIII. Mostly about Flowers151

XIX. The Stork and the Tortoise172

XX. The Song of the Mushi183

XXI. M'Gourley's Love Affair194

XXII. The Complete Geographer206

XXIII. The Struggle213

XXIV. George Du Telle223

XXV. Retrospection232

PART THREE

THE BROKEN LATH

XXVI. The Broken Lath241

XXVII. The "Empress of Japan"247

XXVIII. M'Gourley's Love Affair262

XXIX. The Garden-Party268

XXX. The False Report280

XXXI. Farewell284

XXXII. Her House in Order292

XXXIII. The "La France"296

XXXIV. Amidst the Azaleas302

XXXV. Bon Matsuri307


[pg 5]

CHAPTER I

THE ROAD TO NIKKO

"Upon the road to Nikko,
Where the pilgrims pray,
Along the road to Nikko
Either side the way,
Thundering great camellia trees
Decked with blossoms gay,
Adorn the road to Nikko,
The mountain road to Nikko,
In the month of May."

The singer stopped singing and began to whistle.Then he broke out into prose.

"Damn boots! I'll be lame in another mile. Whycan't we be content with sandals like our 'brithers' theJaps!"

"Dinna damn boots, but their makers," replied hiscompanion, a sandy Scot of fifty or more, dressed inbroadcloth and a bowler, a figure at once a blot uponthe lonely road and a blasphemy against Japan—a blotwhose name was M'Gourley. "I vara well rememberwhen I was in Gleska—"

[pg 6]"Oh, don't!" said the poet of the Nikko road, DickLeslie by name, a young man, or rather a man stillyoung, very tall, straight, dark, and good-looking, anda gentleman from the crown of his close-clipped, curlyblack head to the soles of the boots that were torturinghim. "Don't haul up your factory chimneys, yoursmoke and whisky bottles in this place of places. Ibelieve if a Scot ever gets into heaven he'll start his firstconversation with his first angel by making some referenceto Gleska: Look there!"

"Whaur?"

"There!" cried Leslie, turning from the direction ofFubasami and the beginning of the great Nikko valleybefore them, and pointing backwards away towardsKureise over an expanse of distant country where theclouds were drawing soft shadows across the rice fieldsand the sinuous hills; over little woods of fir andcryptomeria trees, lakes where the lotus flowers spread insummer, and the king-fisher flashed like a jewel; overoccasional fields of flowers, flowers that grew by themillion and the million.

Many of these details were absorbed and dulled bydistance, yet still lent their spirit to the scene, producinga landscape most strange and quaint.

Nearly every other country seems flung together by[pg 7]nature, but Japan seems to have been imagined by somegreat artist of the ancient days—imagined and constructed.

"Look there," said Leslie, "saw you ever anythingbetter than that in Clackmannan?"

"Ay, have I," replied M'Gourley, contemplating theview before him, "many's the time. What sort ofcountry do you call that? Man! I'd as soon live on atea-tray if I had ma choice."

"Well, you've lived in Japan long enough to be usedto it. It's always the way; put a man in a paradise likethis where there are all sorts of flowers and jolly thingsaround him, and he starts grumbling and growling andpining after rain, and misery, and cold, and sleet, andpeat smoke—if he's a Scotchman. How long have youbeen in Japan, Mac, did you say?"

"Near ever since the Samurai took off their swordsand turned policemen."

"What kept you in the East so long if you don't likeit?"

"Trade, like the wind, blaweth where it listeth, and aman must e'en follow his trade," said M'Gourley; andthey resumed their road.

They were walking to Nikko together, this strangelyassorted pair, strangely assorted though they were both[pg 8]Scotchmen. They were approaching the place, not bythat splendid avenue of cryptomeria trees that leadsfrom Utso-no-Miya, but by the wild hill road, which runsfrom Kureise, or rather by the higher hill road, for thereare two, and they had taken the loneliest and the longestby mistake (M'Gourley's fault, though he swore that heknew the country like the palm of his hand).

They had come twenty or twenty-five miles of theway by riksha, and were now hoofing the remainder,their luggage having been sent on to Nikko by train.

"And talking of trade," said M'Gourley, "let's goback to the matter we were on a moment ago; there'smoney in it, and I know the beesiness. I ken it fine;never a man knows better the Jap Rubbish trade."

"You were talking of starting at Nagasaki."

"Ay, Nagasaki's best."

"Well, I'll plank the money," said Leslie. "I'll putup a thousand against a thousand of yours."

M'Gourley stopped and held out a hand sheathed ina mournful-looking black dogskin glove.

"Is't a bargain?" said he.

"It's a bargain. Funny that we should have only metthe other day in Tokyo, and that you should have comealong to Nikko to show me the sights. I believe all thetime you were bent on trepanning me into this business."

[pg 9]"I was that," said M'Gourley, with charming frankness;"for your own good. A man without a beesinessis a man astray, and when you told me in the hotel inTokyo you were a boddie with money, and nothing todo with it, I said: 'Here's my chance.'"

"If I had met you two months ago," said Leslie bitterly,"I wouldn't have been much use, for my fatherwould not have been dead, and I would not have comeinto his money. Do you know what I have been?—Ihave been a remittance man."

"I've met vera much worse people than some ofthem," said Mac, who if his newly found partner haddeclared himself a demon out of Hades would perhapshave made the same glossatory remark—the capitalbeing assured.

"I'm hanged if I have," said Leslie bitterly. "Giveme a Sydney Larrikin, a Dago, a Chinee, before yourremittance man. I know what I'm talking about for Ihave been one—see?"

"What, may I ask—" began M'Gourley, then hepaused.

"You mean what was the reason of my being flungoff by my father? Youthful indiscretions. Let's sitdown; I want to take my boot off."

The road just here took a bend, and became wilder[pg 10]and more lovely, a stream gushed from the bank onwhich they took their seats, and before them lay a littlevalley, a valley hedged on either side by cypress trees,and thronged with crimson azaleas.


[pg 11]

CHAPTER II

THE BLIND ONE

Crimson azaleas in wild profusion, here struckwith sun, here shadowed by the cypress trees—asight to gladden the heart of a poet. Between the cypresstrees, beyond the azaleas, beyond country brokenby sunlight and cloud shadows, lay the sea hills of Tanagurain the dimmest bluest distance.

"If I could get that into a gold frame," said Leslie,as he inhaled the delicious perfume of the azaleas andbathed his naked foot in the tiny cascade breaking fromthe bank on which they sat, "I'd take it to London andsend it to the Academy—and they'd reject it."

"Vara likely," replied Mac. "It is no fit for apeecture. Who ever saw the like of yon out of Japan?It's nought but a fakement."

"I say," said Leslie, "talking of fakements—in thisbusiness of ours I hope we'll steer clear of all that."

"In this beesiness of oors," said Mac, "I thought[pg 12]you distinctly understood my friend Danjuro will bethe nominal head of the firrm—we are but the sleepingpairtners."

Mac's Scotch bubbled in him when he grew excited, orwhen he forgot himself. Ordinarily he talked prettyordinary English, but when the stopper was off theScotch came out, and you could tell by the pronunciationof the word "money" whether he was mentioning thearticle casually or deep in a deal.

"Well," said Leslie, "I don't want my dreams troubledby visions of Danjuro swindling unfortunate tourists;you say we're to export things, but I don't wantto have him roping in people, selling them five-shillingpagodas at five pounds a-piece."

Mac sighed as if with regret at the impossibility ofsuch a delightful deal as that.

"It's rather jolly going into business," continuedLeslie, dreamily gazing at the azaleas. "Only crimeI've never committed, except murder and a few others.Good God! when I started in life I never thought I'dend my days peddling paper lanterns, and cheating peopleinto buying penny-a-dozen kakemonos for a shillinga-piece. Don't talk to me; all trade is cheating."

"You should have known Macbean," said M'Gourley,who had also taken off his boots and stockings and[pg 13]was bathing his broad splay feet in the pretty littletorrent.

"Who was he?"

"Forty year ago I was his 'prentice. Mummies, andidols, and pagods, and scarabeuses was the output of thefirm, and Icknield Street, Birmingham, its habitation."

"Idols?"

"Ay, idols. Some the size of your thumb, and somethe size of bedposts, which they were derived from; somewith teeth, and some with hair, and some bald as a bannock.We stocked half West Africa with idols, and theSouth Seas absorbed the balance."

"Well, you certainly take the cake," said Leslie.

"I took three pun ten a week at Macbean's, andlearnt more eelementary theology than's taught in theschules of Edinboro'. Macbean said artistical idols waswhat the savages wanted, and what they would get aslong as old bedposteses were to be bought at knockdownprices, and sold for the waurth of elephants' tusks."

"You disgust me," said Leslie, "upon my word youdo."

"That's what Macbean said one day to the boddie Ihad in mind when I began telling you of this. Theboddie came in grumbling about a mummy—a vara finemummy it was, too—that had been sold to him for export.[pg 14]The mummy had

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