BUT his wife's family (the word has a more important application there than here ) held a solemn conference, and, as the result of it, certain of them waited upon Lieutenant Pinkerton, and, with elaborate politeness, intimated that his course had theretofore been quite unknown in Japan. This was their oblique way of saying that it was unsatisfactory. They pointed out with patient gravity that he would thus limit his wife's opportunities of reappearing on earth in a higher form of life.
Pinkerton smilingly remarked that he was not sure that it would be best for his wife to reappear on earth in a higher form. She would probably accomplish mischief enough in this very charming one as she was in fact doing.
" Do you know," he continued to the spokesman, " that you look exactly like a lacquered tragedy mask I have hanging over my desk? "
One must have seen one of these masks to appreciate this.
But they all laughed good-naturedly, as their host had designed, and quite forgot their errand. And Pinkerton labored that they should remember it no more. This was quite Japanese. In the politest way possible he made them drink his liquors and smoke his tobacco ( in the generous Western fashion), either of which operations was certain to make a Japanese very ill. This was thoroughly like Pinkerton.
They protested a deal of friendship for Pinkerton that night; but at the final conference, where Cho-Cho-San was solemnly disowned, none were more gloomily unfriendly than they who had eaten and drunken with him.
" I did the very best I could for you, little moon-goddess," said Pinkerton to his wife; " but they were proof against my best wine and tobacco."
She bent her head in reflection a moment.
"Ah, you mean I begin learn you, Mr. B. F. Pikkerton! You mean they not proof. Aha! "
And Pinkerton delightedly embraced her.
" You are no longer a back number," he said.
" Aha ! Tha' 's what I thing. Now I bed you I know what is that bag nomber ! "
" Well ? "
" People lig I was."
" But not people lig I am?"
" No; you are up-to-date."
" I egspeg I ought be sawry? " She sighed hypocritically.
" Exactly why, my moon-maid ? "
" Account they outcasting me. Aeverybody thing me mos' bes' wicked in all Japan. Nobody speak to me no more they all outcast me aexcep' jus' you; tha' 's why I ought be sawry."
She burst into a reckless laugh, and threw herself like a child upon him.
" But tha' 's ezag' why I am not! Wha' 's use lie? It is not inside me that sawry. Me ? I 'm mos' bes' happy female woman in Japan mebby in that whole worl'. What you thing?"
He said honestly that he thought she was, and he took honest credit for it.
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