It Happened in Japan
To My Brother
MAJOR ARTHUR HAGGARD.
... "Pearl's was a perfect Japanese garden: itwas a garden of the past, a poem, a creation of an artwhose charm and loveliness only a Japanese canproduce."
Chapter I.--Renunciation 1
Chapter II.--In Lotus Land 25
Chapter III.--Pains and Penalties 56
Chapter IV.--Deep Waters 75
Chapter V.--Home News 91
Chapter VI.--A Woman's Womanliness 118
Chapter VII.--Tried as by Fire 146
Chapter VIII.--Amy to the Rescue 159
Chapter IX.--On the Verge of the Unknown 176
Chapter X.--In the Shadow of a Tomb 198
Chapter XI.--The Price of a Kiss 222
Chapter XII.--Danger Signals 244
Chapter XIII.--Hidden Fires 265
Chapter XIV.--A Bird of Ill Omen 280
Chapter XV.--'Twixt Scylla and Charybdis 298
Chapter XVI.--"It is best so, Amy, Dear" 315
Two men, side by side, were slowly pacing thedeck of the Empress of India on her outwardvoyage to Japan. A week had almost passedsince the boat had sailed from Vancouver, andthe extremely bad weather encountered until thisafternoon had prevented all but the mosthardened good sailors from penetrating frombelow. Now, however, the wind and sea hadsomewhat abated, the first ray of sun hadbrought the storm-tossed and sea-sick from theirberths, and the broad decks were soon swarmingwith passengers of both sexes, whose faces andgeneral demeanour expressed entire satisfactionat their restored liberty.
Monsieur de GŁldenfeldt, the newly-appointedSwedish Minister to Japan, though an experiencedand enterprising traveller, was watchingthis motley crew through his eye-glass with anamused and somewhat quizzical expression. Hehad seen many such scenes, and yet to his observantmind they were ever new and always[pg 2]entertaining. He was at the present momentoccupied in gazing at a French priest, a Germancommercial traveller, and a cadaverous-lookingEnglishman discussing with varied gesticulationssome point in the political situation, on whichquestion each appeared as ignorant as he waspositive, and he was vaguely wondering whatmeans they would ultimately find to unravel thetangled skein, when he felt his companion, a talldark man with a black moustache and a distinguishednose, grip him by the arm.
"By Jove, de GŁldenfeldt!" exclaimed thelatter excitedly, while an unusual air of animationlit up his somewhat sleepy eyes, "Isn't thatMrs. Norrywood? That woman about whomthere has been all that fuss, you know. Or am Idreaming?"
Monsieur de GŁldenfeldt glanced along thedeck and fixed his eyes on a lady who, all unconsciousof the notice she was attracting, slowlycame towards them.
"Not much doubt on that point, I fancy," hereplied, as the tall, graceful figure passed nearthem. "I've known her for years. As one knowspeople about Town, you know. Dined with her,and that sort of thing. There's no mistaking her.Sapristi! what a beautiful woman she is! Iwonder if Martinworth is on board: if they aretogether, you know."
"It would give me intense satisfaction to beacquainted with the rights of that story," continuedde GŁldenfeldt. "It was an uncommonlymixed up affair. Doubtless, Nicholson, you willput me down as a fool, but I believe that I amone of the few people who, after having followedthe evidence from the beginning to the end, stillbelieve in her and Martinworth's innocence.Why! you can't look into that woman's eyes,and not feel convinced that she is all right. Idefy you to do so."
"My dear fellow, it is just because she looks souncommonly innocent and pure, and all that sortof thing, that she's probably as bad as they make'em," replied Sir Ralph sententiously. "You aresuch a devilishly indulgent fellow, de GŁldenfeldt.All the many years that I have known you, and allthe time you were posted in London, I hardly everheard you utter a word against a soul: especiallyif the individual discussed happened to be awoman. Yet heaven knows, in the course of along and successful career you must have hadplenty of knowledge of the fair sex and theirpeculiar little ways."
"Believe me, my dear boy," replied deGŁldenfeldt somewhat gravely, "women are farmore sinned against than sinning. But it's no[pg 4]earthly use arguing with a juvenile cynic, such asno doubt you consider yourself, on this much disputedpoint. At present, you have all the censoriousnessand hard-heartedness of youth onyour side. Only wait ten or fifteen years--tillyou are my mature age--and then tell me whatyou think about the matter. But," he added,"to return to our friend Mrs. Norrywood. Youhave no notion what a brute was Norrywood.It was only after years of neglect and infidelity,even downright cruelty on his part, that his wifetook up at last with that nice fellow Martinworth.One only wonders she didn't consoleherself ages before."
"But surely it was she who started the divorceproceedings?"
"Yes. You see one day things came to aclimax when she--oh! Well, don't let's go overthe whole sordid history. Suffice it to say, thatno woman with a particle of self-respect could,knowing what she knew, put up a day longer withsuch a blackguard. Then he--Norrywood--youknow, brought the counter charge against her,poor soul, and Lord Martinworth; and at onetime things were made to look uncommonlyblack against them. However, nothing wasproved, for the excellent reason, in my opinion,that there was absolutely nothing to prove. Andin the end she got her divorce right enough."
"Well, the year is almost past. We shall seewhether everyone was right, and whether Martinworthis on board; and if so, in what capacity.Here she comes again. I shall stop and speak toher this time, I think," and Monsieur de GŁldenfeldt,hat in hand, went towards the lady.
"How do you do, Mrs. Norrywood," he said;"how extremely pleasant it is for me to thinkthat we are fated to be travelling companions."
The person addressed stopped a moment in herwalk, raising her clear grey eyes, in which lurkeda look of annoyance and of slight surprise, toMonsieur de GŁldenfeldt's face.
"I think," she said very slowly but very clearlyand incisively, "you have made a mistake. I amno long--I am not Mrs. Norrywood. My nameis Nugent," and with a slight bow she swept pasthim.
With a look of stupefaction on his expressiveface, Monsieur de GŁldenfeldt's outstretchedhand fell slowly to his side as he stared after theretreating form.
He turned slowly round to Sir Ralph, who hadbeen watching the whole incident with interestand considerable amusement.
"Tell me, Ralph," he exclaimed, "am I dreaming?Is it not Mrs. Norrywood? Is it her[pg 6]double? But what a fool I am," he added; "ofcourse there is not a doubt of it. The fact is, mydear boy, that I--I, Stanislas de GŁldenfeldt, havebeen deliberately cut by one of the prettiest andsmartest women in Town. A by no meanspleasant experience, I can tell you!" and Monsieurde GŁldenfeldt, with a twinkle in his blueeyes, gave a little shake to his shoulders that wasdistinctly foreign and decidedly expressive.
"Yes," smiled Nicholson, "if she had snubbeda nobody like me, now, there would have beennothing to be surprised at. Precious glad, though,I didn't give her the chance," he added, with acheery laugh. "I should never have survived it,whereas a diplomat like you can of course, geteven with her any day. Forgive my laughing, deGŁldenfeldt, but really it was rather a comicspectacle for an onlooker, you know."
"Laugh away, laugh away, my dear boy. Perhaps,however, when your hilarity has spent itself,you will kindly help me to unravel thismystery. What the dickens does it mean, eh?"
"Oh! I don't think we need go very far foran explanation. Probably she is going out to theAntipodes to try and start afresh. Of course, thefirst step towards that operation is to wipe out thepast. So she begins by cutting her old friends,you see. 'Pon my word, I admire her pluck. ButI shall take warning from your adventure, and before[pg 7]making a move shall wait with resignationuntil Mrs. Norrywood--I beg her pardon--Mrs.Nugent, condescends to recognise in me a formeracquaintance. It's a beastly bore being snubbedby a pretty woman, isn't it old fellow? Come,don't eat me, but let's go below and see ifMartinworth's name is among the list of passengers."
Meanwhile the subject of the above conversationwas standing in her cabin, and with flushed cheeksand a beating heart was thinking deeply. Thismeeting with two members of the set in whichshe had originally moved had come upon her asa most unpleasant shock, a shock for which shewas totally unprepared. Indeed, she had been sotaken by surprise that she had behaved, as shetold herself now, in a most unwarrantably tactlessmanner. Both de GŁldenfeldt and Nicholsonshe had known fairly well in the old days, and incalmly thinking over the circumstances of themeeting, it struck her what a false step she hadmade in this crude attempt of ignoring personswhom, indeed, it was impossible to ignore. Sheremembered now having read in a paper beforeleaving England, that de GŁldenfeldt had beennamed Swedish Minister to the Court of Japan, inwhich case she knew that sooner or later she wasbound to come across him again, and as forNicholson, it did not take her long to recall that[pg 8]his relations with Lord Martinworth had been informer years of the most friendly nature.
The meeting with these two men brought backvividly to Pearl all the wretchedness of her pastlife, and it was only now that she realised to thefull the intense relief and sense of freedom thatfilled her soul, as she stepped aboard the AtlanticLiner at Southampton, and had watched thecoast-line of England fade--as she then hadsincerely hoped--for ever from her eyes.
Sir Ralph Nicholson had judged the situationrightly. Pearl Norrywood, or Nugent, had leftEngland with the firm intention of forgettingeverything connected with her unhappy past. Shewas determined, as far as it was possible, to wipeout all the despair, the hatred, the humiliation ofthe last ten years of her life. But in doing this,she felt there could be no half measures. That incompany with the misery must also be obliteratedall the joy and happiness she had experienced inthe one love of her existence. She told herselfthat with this blotting out of the past, DickMartinworth must be sacrificed with the rest.There was a decision of character, a certainsternness in her nature which she knew wouldhelp her to carry out that determination, andfrom the day that she and Lord Martinworthleft the Divorce Court a suspected, but in spiteof all, an unconvicted couple, Pearl Nugent had[pg 9]never again seen the man who for a series ofyears had exercised so great an influence overher life.
She had been but little past twenty when sheput her future into the charge of a husbandwhom three months later she learned toutterly loathe and fear. From that time, everyday, every hour, was a fiery ordeal from which,indeed, but few women could have hoped toescape unscathed. The inevitable arose ere longin the appearance on the scene of the HonourableDick Pelham, as he was in those far-away days.Mr. Pelham had at once been struck by the refinedbeauty and grace of the girl with sad grey eyes.Then in getting to know her well he learnt topity her, a feeling which ultimately culminatedbefore many months passed into a deep andpassionate love.
It did not indeed take Pelham long to learnthat he worshipped the very ground on whichPearl trod, and no great interval passed beforehe told her so. The world never knew, neverwould know, whether Pearl Norrywood had listenedto these protestations. All that it saw wasthat she behaved as if she had done so, for fromthe day that Dick Pelham commenced to haunther