MADAME BUTTERFLY


VII

HOW HE DIDN'T UNDERSTAND HER WHICHEVER

THE baby continued to sleep.  He rather justified the praises of his mother.  He was as good as a Japanese baby, and as good-looking as an American one.

Somebody was without.  There was a polite and subdued clattering of clogs in the entrance.

"Gomen nasai" ("I beg your pardon").

It was a familiar, deprecatory voice, accompanied by the clapping of hands.

Cho-Cho-San smiled wearily, and called the maid.

"Oh, Suzuki, Goro the nakodo -- he is without.  Shaka and all the gods defend us now!"

The two exchanged glances of amusement, and the maid proceeded to admit him.

Madame Butterfly received him with the odious lack of ceremony her independent life with Pinkerton had bred.  She was imperially indifferent.  The go-between pointed out how sad this was to as beautiful a woman as she.

"Is it a trouble to you?" she asked, perking her head aside.

The nakodo only sighed gloomily.

Madame Butterfly laughed.

"Poor, nize liddle old man," said she, with specious pity, in politest English; "do not trouble 'bout me.  Do not arrive any more if it pains you."

"I must; you have no parents now -- nor any one.  You are outcast."

"Ah-h-h!  But will you not permit me to suffer the lack?"

"But you will never be married!"

"Again?"

"Well -- yes, again, then."

"How tarrible!"

He took this quite seriously, and became more cheerful.

"Yes; a beautiful woman like you must have a husband."

"Yaes.  Thangs; I got one.  Do you perhaps mean more?"

"I mean a Japanese husband."

"Oh -- ah?  That will have me a month, and then divorce me?  And then another, and another, and another?"

She was becoming belligerent.

"How is it better with you now?"

She recovered her good humor.

"At America one is married foraever -- aexcep' the other die.  Aha!  What you thing?  Your marriages are not so."

She had been speaking indifferently both languages, and now the nakodo, who was not apt at English, begged her to explain this in Japanese.  She did so.

"Yamadori has lived long at America, and he says it is not thus.  Is it not safe to rely upon his excellent wisdom?"

"No; for I, which am foolish, are wiser than both you an' he.  I know.  You jus' guess.  Aeverybody got stay marry at United States America.  No one can git divorce, aexcep' he stay in a large court-house, all full judges with long faces, an' bald on their heads, long, long time; mebby two -- four -- seven year!  Now jus' thing 'bout that -- howthat is tiresome!  Tha' 's why no one don' git no divorce; they too tire' to wait.  Firs', the man he got go an' stan' bifore those judge, an' tell all he thing 'bout it.  Then the woman she got.  Then some lawyers quarrel with those judge; an' then the judges git jury, an' as' 'em what they thing 'bout it; an' if they don' know they all git put in jail till they git done thinging 'bout it, an' whether they go'n' git divorce or not.  Aha!"

"Where did you learn that?" asked the old nakodo, aghast.

"Oh -- ah -- that Mr. B. F. Pikkerton" -- she assumed a grander air -- "that Mr. Ben-ja-meen Frang-a-leen Pikkerton -- my hosban' -- "  She smiled engagingly, and held out her pretty hands, as who should say: "Is not that sufficient?"

It was so evidently the invention of Pinkerton that it seemed superfluous to make the explanation.  The nakodo said curtly that he did not believe it.

Not believe what Mr. B.F. Pinkerton had said!

Cho-Cho-San was exasperated.  The engaging smile had been wasted.  She flung the blue-eyed baby up before him.

"Well, then, do you believe that?"

She laughed almost malignantly.  The marriage-broker gulped down this fearful indignity as best he might.  He hoped there were not going to be anv more such women in Japan as the result of foreign marriages.  Still, even this phase of the situation had been discussed with his client.

"But Yamadori, who was bred to the law, tells me that our law prevails in such a matter, the marriage having taken place here."

She gave a gasp, and cried like a savage wounded animal:

"Yamadori -- lies!"

The nakodo was silenced.  She crushed the baby so fiercely to her breast that he began to cry.

"Sh!" she commanded harshly.  He looked up for an incredulous instant, then burrowed his head affrightedly into her kimono.  She turned upon the nakodo in magnificent scorn.

"Oh -- you -- foo-el!  You thing he naever arrive back.  Tha' 's what you thing in secret!  He?  He do!"

She snatched a photograph from an easel at the tokonoma, tore the child from his hiding, and held them up together.  Her purpose was quite evident.

The nakodo was thoroughly frightened.  She recovered her poise and her control of the situation.

"Now what you thing?  Aha, ha, ha!  Sa-ay -- I bed you all moaneys he go'n' come 'mos' one millions mile for see that chile!  Tha' 's what I all times praying Shaka an' the augustnesses for -- one chile ezag' lig him.  Well, sa- ay!  I got him.  An' now that Mr. Ben-ja-meen Frang-a-leen Pikkerton he got come back -- hoarry -- even if he don' lig.  He cannot stand it.  But he do lig."

All her passion was gone now, and her sure gladness returned.  She was naive and intimate and confidential again.

"Sa-ay!  Firs' I pray his large American God, -- that huge Godamighty, -- but tha' 's no use.  He don' know me where I live.  Then I pray Shaka an' all the kaimyo of the augustnesses in the god-house.  I thing they don' hear me, account they outcasted me when I marry with that Mr. B.F. Pikkerton.  But" -- she smiled at her pretty celestial cajolery -- "I pray them so long an' so moach more than they aever been pray with bifore that they feel good all times, an' -- an"' -- there was finality in this -- "an' 't is use.  An' mebby I not all outcasted!  Don' tell him.  He -- he laugh upon my gods, an' say they jus' wood an' got no works in them.  An' he all times call the augustnesses bag nombers!  Jus' he don' know till he fine out.  Aha, ha, ha!"

"If he returns he will probably take the child away with him -- that is his right," chanted the sad-faced nakodo.

But nothing could ruffle Madame Butterfly now.  She laughed sibilantly at this owl-like ignorance.

"Oh-h-h!  How you don' know things!  How you don' onderstan' me what I mean, whichever!  Of course he take that chile away with him -- of course!  An' me -- me also; an' Suzuki, aha!  An' we go an' live in his castle for aever an' aever!"

The improbability of changing the girl's point of view began to dawn upon the slow intellect of the nakodo.

"At least, Yamadori wishes for a look-at meeting.  I have promised him.  Will you not grant this?"

Cho-Cho-San shook her head at him knowingly.

"An' if I do not, he not go'n' pay you one present?"

She laughed wildly, and the nakodo by a grin admitted the impeachment.

"Well," -- the spirit of mischief possessed the girl, -- "sa-ay -- I don' keer.  Let him come.  He lig for see me; I lig for see him.  An' if I say I go'n' marry him, he got hoarry an' marry me right away.  Aha!  What you thing 'bout those?"

The nakodo said delightedly that that was precisely what he sought.

"Yaes; but suppose they put me in a large jail, an' got loog out between bar -- so," -- she illustrated, -- "an' don' git nawthin for eat; he go'n' stay all times behine my side, an' comforting me?  Hol' my hand?  Lemme weep upon him?  I dunno.  Mebby they cut my hade off me.  Then he got git his hade cut off, too, an' go the road to Meido together -- with -- without those hade!  Oh, how that is tarrible!  An' suppose" -- she whispered it horridly -- "that Mr. B.F. Pikkerton -- aha, ha, ha! -- arrive?"

The nakodo was not sure how much of this was meant seriously.  They were extremely unusual humors to him.  But she had consented to the meeting, and he promptly took her at her word.

"When, then, will it please you to have me bring Yamadori? "

"When you lig -- nize liddle ole friend."

The nakodo fixed that day a week.

As he was going, Cho-Cho-San laughingly asked:

"Sa-ay!  How often he been marry?"

"But twice," the nakodo replied virtuously.

"An' both times divorce?"

He admitted that this was the case.

"An' both times jus' on visit from United States America -- jus' liddle visit? -- so long?"  She spread her hands.

Under her laughing gaze it seemed best to admit it.

"Oh! he -- he jus' marry 'nother for fun whenever he thing 'bout it.  Then he forgit it when he don' thing 'bout it, and marry 'nother.  Say so!"

He heard her laugh again as he left the courtyard; but he had confidence in the ability of Yamadori to accomplish his purpose if he could be brought into contact with her.  He was one of the modern pensioned princes of Japan, a desirable matrimonial article, and preternaturally fascinating.


Chapter 8

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