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Full text of "The honorable Miss Moonlight"

tit 




OF 
* MAIN STl 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 



THE 

HONORABLE 
MISS MOONLIGHT 



BY 
ONOTO WATANNA 

AUTHOR OF 

" A JAPANESE NIGHTINGALE ' ' 
"TAMA" ETC. 




HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 

NEW YORK AND LONDON 

M C M X I I 

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BOOKS BY 
ONOTO WATANNA 

THE HONORABLE Miss MOONLIGHT. Post 

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A JAPANESE NIGHTINGALE. Illustrated. 

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THE WOOING OF WISTARIA. Illustrated. Post 

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HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK 




PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER. 1912 



H-M 



TO 
J. W., L. W., AND E. McK. 

IN REMEMBRANCE 
OF KIND WORDS 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 



THE 
HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

CHAPTER I 




HE day had been long and sultry. It 
was the season of little heat, when an 
all-encompassing humidity seemed sus- 
pended over the land. Sky and earth 
were of one monotonous color, a dim 
blue, which faded to shadowy grayness at the fall of 
the twilight. 

With the approach of evening, a soothing breeze 
crept up from the river. Its faint movement brought 
a measure of relief, and nature took on a more ani- 
mated aspect. 

Up through the narrow, twisting roads, in and 
out of the never-ending paths, the lights of count- 
less jinrikishas twinkled, bound for the Houses of 
Pleasure. Revelers called to each other out of the 
balmy darkness. Under the quivering light of a 
lifted lantern, suspended for an instant, faces gleamed 
out, then disappeared back into the darkness. 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

To the young Lord Saito Gonji the night seemed 
to speak with myriad tongues. Like some finely 
tuned instrument whose slenderest string must vi- 
brate if touched by a breath, so the heart of the 
youth was stirred by every appeal of the night. 
He heard nothing of the chatter and laughter of 
those about him. For the time at least, he had put 
behind him that sickening, deadening thought that 
had borne him company now for so long. He was 
giving himself up entirely to the brief hour of joy, 
which had been agreeably extended to him in ex- 
tenuation of the long life of thraldom yet to come. 

It was in his sole honor that the many relatives 
and connections of his family had assembled, joy- 
ously to celebrate the fleeting hours of youth. For 
within a week the Lord Saito Gonji was to marry. 
Upon this pale and dreamy youth the hopes of the 
illustrious house of Saito depended. To him the 
august ancestors looked for the propagating of their 
honorable seed. He was the last of a great family, 
and had been cherished and nurtured for one pur- 
pose only. 

With almost as rigid care as would have been 
bestowed upon a novitiate priest, Gonji had been 
educated. 

"Send the child you love upon a journey," ad- 
monished the stern-hearted Lady Saito Ichigo to 
her husband; and so at the early age of five the little 
Gonji was sent to Kummumotta, there to be trained 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

under the strictest discipline known to the samourai. 
Here he developed in strength and grace of body; 
but, seemingly caught in some intangible web, the 
mind of the youth awoke not from its dreams. His 
arm had the strength of the samourai, said his 
teachers, but his spirit and his heart were those of 
the poet. 

There came a period when he was placed in the 
Imperial University, and a new life opened to the 
wondering youth. New laws, new modes of thought, 
the alluring secrets of strange sciences, baffling and 
fascinating, all opened their doors to the infatuated 
and eager Gonji. With the enthusiasm born of his 
solitary years, the boy grasped avidly after the 
ideals of the New Japan. His career in college was 
notable. In him professor and student recognized 
the born leader and genius. He was to do great 
things for Japan some day! 

Then came a time when the education of the youth 
was abruptly halted, and he was ordered to return 
to his home. While his mind was still engaged in 
the fascinating employment of planning a career, 
his parents ceremoniously presented him to Ohano, 
a girl he had known from childhood and a distant 
relative of his mother's family. Mechanically and 
obediently the dazed Gonji found himself exchanging 
with the maiden the first gifts of betrothal. 

Ohano was plump, with a round, somewhat sullen 
face, a pouting, full-lipped mouth, and eyes so small 

3 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

they seemed but mere slits in her face. She had in- 
herited the inscrutable, disdainful expression of her 
lofty ancestors. 

Though he had played with her as a child and had 
seen her upon every occasion during his school vaca- 
tions, Gonji looked at her now with new eyes. As a 
little boy he had liked Ohano. She was his sole play- 
mate, and it had been his delight to tease her. Now, 
as he watched her stealthily, he was consumed with a 
sense of unutterable despair. Could it be that his 
fairest dreams were to end with Ohano? 

Like every other Japanese youth, who knows that 
some day his proper mate will be chosen and given 
to him, Gonji had conjured up a lovely, yielding 
creature of the imagination, a gentle, smiling, mys- 
terious Eve, who, like a new world, should daily sur- 
prise and delight him. As he looked at Ohano, 
sitting placidly and contentedly by his side, he was 
conscious only of an inner tumult of rebellion and 
repulsion against the chains they were forging in- 
exorably about him and this girl. It was impossible, 
he felt, to drag him nearer to her. The very thought 
revolted, stunned him, and suddenly, rudely, he 
turned his back upon his bride. 

The relatives agreed that something should be 
done to offset the gloom of the first stages of be- 
trothal. It was suggested that the bridegroom have 
a full week of freedom. As was the custom among 
many, he should for the first time be introduced to 

4 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

the life of gaiety and pleasure that lay outside the 
lofty, ancestral walls, the better, later, to appreciate 
the calm and pure joys of home and family. 

In single file the jinrikishas had been running 
along a narrow road which overlooked city and bay. 
Now they swerved into shadowy by-paths and 
plunged into the heart of the woods. A velvety 
darkness, through which the drivers picked their 
way with caution, enwrapped them. 

For some time the tingling music of samisen and 
drum close by had been growing ever clearer. Sud- 
denly the glimmer of many lights was seen, as if 
suspended overhead. Almost unconsciously faces 
were raised, excited breaths drawn in admiration and 
approval. Like a great sparkling jewel hung in mid- 
air, the House of Slender Pines leaned over its wooded 
terraces toward them. 

Gay little mousm6s, rubbing hands and knees to- 
gether, ran to meet them at the gate, kowtowing and 
hissing in obeisance. The note of a samisen was 
heard; and a thin little voice, sweet, and incredibly 
high, broke into song. Geishas, with great flowers 
in their hair, fell into a posturing group, dancing with 
hand, head, and fan. Gonji watched them in a 
fascinated silence, noting the minutest detail of their 
attire, their expression, their speech. They belonged 
to a world which, till now, he had not been permitted 
even to explore. Nay, till but recently he had been 
rigidly guarded from even the slightest possible con- 

2 5 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

tact with these little creatures of joy. Soon he was 
to be set in the niche destined for him by his an- 
cestors. Here was his sole opportunity to seize the 
fleeting delights of youth. 

A laughing-faced mousme, red-lipped and with 
saucy, teasing eyes that peeped at him from beneath 
veiled lashes, knelt to hold his sake-tray. He leaned 
gravely toward the girl and examined her face with 
a curious wonder; but her smile brought no response 
to the somewhat sad and somber lips of the young 
man, nor did he even deign to sip the fragrant cup 
she tendered. 

An elder cousin offered some chaffing advice, and 
an hilarious uncle suggested that the master of the 
house put his geishas upon parade; but the father of 
Gonji roughly interposed, declaring that his son's 
thoughts, naturally, were elsewhere. It was so with 
all expectant bridegrooms. His father's words awoke 
the boy from his dreaming. He turned very pale and 
trembled. His head drooped forward, and he felt an 
irresistible inclination to cover his face with his hands. 
His father's voice sounded in gruff whisper at his ear : 

"Pay attention. You see now the star of the 
night. It is the famous Spider, spinning her web!" 

As Gonji slowly raised his head and gazed like one 
spellbound at the dancer, his father added, with a 
sudden vehemence: 

"Take care, my son, lest she entrap thee, too, like 
the proverbial fly." 

6 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

A hush had fallen upon the gardens. Almost it 
seemed as if the tiny feet of the dancer stirred not 
at all. Yet, with imperceptible advances, she moved 
nearer and nearer to her fascinated audience. Above 
her flimsy gown of sheerest veiling, which sprang 
like a web on all sides and above her, her face shone 
with its marvelous beauty and allurement. Her 
lips were apart, smiling, coaxing, teasing; and her 
eyes, wide and very large, seemed to seek over the 
heads of her audience for the one who should prove 
her prey. It was the final motion of the dance of 
the Spider, the seeking for, the finding, the seizing 
of her imaginary victim. Now the Spider's eyes had 
ceased to wander. They were fixed compellingly 
upon those of the Lord Saito Gonji. 

He had arisen to his feet, and with a half- 
audible exclamation a sound of an indrawn sigh 
he advanced toward the dancer. For a moment, 
breathlessly, he stood close beside her. The subtle 
odor of her perfumed hair and body stole like a 
charm over his senses. Her sleeve fluttered against 
his hand for but the fraction of a moment, yet 
thrilled and tormented him. He looked at the 
Spider with the eyes of one who sees a new and ra- 
diant wonder. Then darkness came rudely between 
them. The geisha's face vanished with the light. 
He was standing alone, staring into the darkness, his 
father's voice droning meaninglessly in his ear. 




CHAPTER II 

ER real name was as poetical as the one 
she was known by was forbidding and 
repelling. Moonlight, it was; though 
all the gay world which hovers about a 
famous geisha, like flies over the honey- 
pot, knew her solely as the "Spider." 

"Spider" she was called because of the peculiar 
dance she had originated. It was against all clas- 
sical precedents, but of so exceptional a character 
that in a night, a single hour, as it were, she found her- 
self from a humble little apprentice the most cele- 
brated geisha in Kioto, that paradise of geishas. 

It was a day of golden fortune for Matsuda, who 
owned the girl. She had been bound to his service 
since the age of seven with bonds as drastic as if the 
days of slavery still existed. 

Harsh, cunning, even cruel to the many girls in 
his employ, Matsuda had yet one vulnerable point. 
That was his overwhelming affection for the geisha 
he had married, and she was afflicted with a malady 
of the brain. Some said it was due to the death of 
her many children, all of whom had succumbed to 
an infectious disease. From whatever misfortune, 

8 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

the gentle Okusama, as they called her in the geisha- 
house, was at intervals blank-minded. Still she, 
the harmless, gentle creature, was loved by the 
geishas; and, as far as it lay in her power, she was 
their friend, and often saved them from the wrath 
of Matsuda. It was into her empty bosom the little 
Moonlight had crept and found a warm and loving 
home. With a yearning as deep as though the child 
were her own, the wife of Matsuda watched over the 
child. It was under her tutelage that Moonlight 
learned all the arts of an accomplished geisha. In 
her time the wife of Matsuda had been very fa- 
mous, too, and no one knew better than she, soft of 
mind and witless as she was at times, the dances and 
the songs of the geisha-house. 

Matsuda had watched with some degree of irrita- 
tion, not unmixed with a peculiar jealousy, his wife's 
absorption in the tiny Moonlight. He did not ap- 
prove of gentle treatment toward a mere apprentice. 
It was only by harsh measures that a girl could 
properly learn the severe profession. Later, when 
she had mastered all the intricate arts and graces, 
then, perhaps, one might prove lenient. It was no 
uncommon thing for a geisha to be pampered and 
spoiled, but an apprentice, never! 

However, the child seemed to make happier the 
lot of the beloved Okusama, and there was nothing 
to be done about the matter. 

Disliking the child, Matsuda nevertheless recog- 

9 



THE HONORABL.E MISS MOONLIGHT 

nized from the first her undoubted beauty, the thing 
which had induced him, in fact, to pay an exceptional 
price to her guardians for her. He had little faith 
in her future as a geisha, however, since his wife 
chose to pet and protect her. How was it possible 
for her to learn from the poor, witless Okusama? 
When the latter joyously jabbered of the little one's 
wonderful progress, Matsuda would smile or grunt 
surlily. 

Then, one day, walking in the woods, he had 
come, unexpectedly, upon the posturing child, toss- 
ing her little body from side to side like a wind- 
blown flower, while his wife picked two single notes 
upon the samisen. Matsuda watched them dumb- 
smitten. Was it possible, he asked himself, that 
the Okusama had discovered what he had over- 
looked? But he brushed the thought aside. These 
were merely the precocious antics of a spoiled child. 
They would not be pretty in one grown to woman- 
hood. There was much to do in the geisha-house. 
The fame of his gardens must be kept assiduously 
before the public. Matsuda had no time for the 
little Moonlight, save, chidingly, to frown upon her 
when she was not in the presence of the Okusama. 
And so, almost unobserved by the master of the 
geisha-house, Moonlight came to the years of 
maidenhood. 

One night the House of Slender Pines was honored 
by the unexpected advent of most exalted guests. 

IO 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

The chief geishas were absent at an entertainment, 
and Matsuda was in despair. He was forced, con- 
sequently, to put the novices into service, and while 
he bit his nails frenziedly at the awkward move- 
ments of the apprentices, Moonlight slipped to his 
side and whispered in his ear that she was com- 
petent to dance as beautifully as the chief geishas. 
As he stared at her in wrathful irritation, his wife 
glided to his other side and joined the girl in plead- 
ing. Gruffly he consented. Matters could not be 
much worse. What mattered it now? He was al- 
ready disgraced in the eyes of the most high. Well, 
then, let this pet apprentice do her foolish dance. 

Moonlight seized her opportunity with the gay 
avidity of the gambler who tosses his all upon a 
final chance. At the risk of meeting the fearful 
displeasure of her master, the ridicule, disdain, and 
even hatred of the older geishas, whom it was her 
duty to imitate, the girl danced before the most 
critical audience in Kioto. 

Her triumph was complete. It may have been 
the novelty or mystery of her dance, the hypnotic 
perfection of her art; it may have been her own 
surpassing beauty no one sought to analyze the 
source of her peculiar power. Before the smiling, 
coaxing witchery of her eyes and lips they fell 
figuratively, and indeed literally, upon their knees. 

She became the mad furore and fashion of 
the hour. Poets indited lyrics to her respective 

ii 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

features. Princes flung gifts at her feet. People 
traveled from the several quarters of the empire 
to see her. And at this most dangerous period of 
her career the young Lord Saito Gonji, last of one 
of the most illustrious families in Japan, crossed 
her path. 




CHAPTER III 

IS honorable mother declared that Gonji 
was afflicted with a malady of the 
stomach. She proffered warm drinks 
and poultices and sought to induce him 
to remain in bed. Now that the long 
and severe years of discipline had passed and her 
son was at last at home with her, all of the natural 
mother within her, which had been repressed so long, 
yearned over her only son. Even her cold and 
somewhat repelling manner showed a softening. 

Had he not been at this time absorbed in his 
own dreams, Gonji would have met half-way the 
pathetic advances of his mother ; but he was oblivious 
to the change in her. He insisted politely that his 
health was excellent, begged to be excused, and 
wandered off by himself. 

His father, whose mighty business interests were 
in Tokio, abandoned them for the time being and 
remained by his son's side in Kioto, following the 
young man assiduously, seeking vainly to arouse 
him from the melancholy lethargy into which he 
had fallen. Deep in the heart of the elder Lord 
Saito was the acute knowledge of what troubled 

13 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

his son, for afflicted he undoubtedly was, as all the 
relatives unanimously and officiously averred. Such 
a funereal countenance was unbefitting a bride- 
groom. One would think the unhappy youth was 
being driven to his tomb, rather than to the bridal 
bed! 

The parents and relatives vied with each other 
in importuning the unfortunate Gonji, and sought 
to distract him from what were evidently his own 
morbid thoughts. Also they sought to entrap his 
confidence. Gonji kept his counsel, and from day 
to day he grew paler, thinner, more silent, and sad. 

"Call in the services of the mightiest of honorable 
physicians and surgeons," ordered the Lady Saito. 
"It may be an operation will relieve our son." 

Her husband, thoughtful, sad, a prey to an uneasy 
conscience, shook his head dumbly. 

"It is not possible for the honorable knife to 
efface a cancer of the heart," said he, sighing. 

"Hasten the nuptials," suggested the uncle of 
Ohano. "There is no medicine which acts with as 
drastic force as a wife." 

This time the Lord Saito Ichigo was even more 
emphatic in negativing the suggestion. 

"There is time enough," he asserted, gruffly. 
"I will not begrudge my son at least the short and 
precious time which should precede the ceremony. 
This is his period of diversion. It shall not be cut 
in half." 

14 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

The brusque words of the head of the Saito house 
aroused the ire of the nearest relative of the bride. 
He said complainingly : 

"It does not seem as if the honorable bridegroom 
desires to avail himself of his prenuptial privileges. 
He does not seek the usual diversions of youth at 
this time. Is it not unnatural to prefer solitude?" 

"It is a matter of choice," contended the father 
of Gonji, with curt pride. 

"But if it injure his health, is it not the duty of 
the relatives to assist him?" 

"The gates of the saito are wide open. My son 
is not a prisoner. He is at liberty to go whithersoever 
he pleases. It is apparent that his pleasures lie not 
outside the ancestral home of his fathers." 

"That," said the uncle of Ohano, suavely, "is 
because he still stumbles in the period of adolescence. 
It is necessary he be instructed." 

The father of Gonji pondered the matter som- 
berly, pulling with thumb and forefinger at his 
lower lip. After a moment he said, with sudden 
determination : 

"You are right, Takedo Isami. Your superior 
suggestion is gratefully received. Since my son 
will not seek the pleasures of youth, let us bring 
them to our house. It is necessary immediately to 
arouse him from a youthful despair which may 
tend to injure his health." 

He looked up and met the cunning eye of his 

15 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

prospective kinsman regarding him with a peculiar 
expression. Ichigo added, gruffly but sturdily: 

"It would be an excellent programme to secure the 
services of the honorable Spider of the House of 
Slender Pines. I pray you undertake the matter 
for me. See Matsuda, the master of the house. 
Spare no expense in the matter." 

The expression on Takedo's face was now enig- 
matic. He emptied his pipe slowly and with de- 
liberation, as if in thought. Then solemnly he 
bobbed his bald head, as if in assent. The two old 
men then arose, shaking their skirts and hissing 
perfunctorily. Their bows were formal, and the 
words of parting the usual friendly and polite ones; 
but each met the eye of the other, and both under- 
stood; and, strangely, a sense of antagonism arose 
between them. 



CHAPTER IV 




[O it was in the honorable house of his 
father, and of the hundred august an- 
cestors whom they accused him of dis- 
honoring, that Gonji again saw the 
Spider. 

Into the houses of the most exalted the geisha 
flutters with the free familiarity of a pampered 
house pet. No festivity, however private, is con- 
sidered complete without her. She is as necessary 
as the flowers that bedeck the house, the viands, 
and the sake. 

Upon a humid night in the season of greatest 
heat, and in the glow of a thousand fireflies, the 
Spider danced in the gardens of the house of Saito. 
Her kimono was vermilion, embroidered with dragons 
of gold. Gold too were her obi and her fan, and 
red and gold were the ornaments that glistened 
like fire in her hair. Yet more brilliant, more 
sparklingly, gleamed and shone the eyes of the 
dancer, and her scarlet lips were redder than the 
poppies in her hair, and held an hypnotic allure 
for the Lord Saito Gonji, watching her in a breath- 
less silence that fairly pained him. 

17 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Every gesture, every slightest flutter of her sleeve, 
her hand, her fan, every smallest turn or motion 
of her bewitching head, was directed at the guest 
of honor, the son and heir of the house of Saito. 
For him alone she seemed to dance. To him she 
threw her joyous smiles, and, in the end, when the 
dance was done, it was at his feet she knelt, raising 
her naively coy, half-questioning glance. Then, 
very softly and with gentle solicitation: 

"At your sole honorable service, noble lord," she 
said. "What is your pleasure next?" 

He said, like one awakening from some strange 
dream or trance: 

"It is my pleasure, geisha, that you look into 
my eyes." 

She glanced up timidly, as if troubled and sur- 
prised. A wistfully joyous light came into her dark 
eyes; then they remained unmovingly fixed upon 
his. Very softly, that those about them might not 
hear, he whispered: 

"I saw your face dimly in the firefly-light. I was 
possessed with but one ambition to look into your 
eyes!" 

Her pretty head drooped so low that now it touched 
his knee. At the contact he trembled and drew 
sharply away from her. Alarmed, fearing she had 
unwittingly offended him, she raised her head and 
looked at him with a mutely questioning glance. 
There was a cloud, dark and very melancholy, upon 

18 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

the face of the one she had been ordered to enter- 
tain. She thought of the instructions of Matsuda: 
that it should be her paramount duty to beguile 
and distract the Lord Saito Gonji. Her fortune for 
life might be made by succeeding in arousing him 
to a joyous mood. But, lo! the one she sought to 
please drew back from her, gloomy, troubled. 

Her rapid rise to fame had not brought to the 
Spider the peculiar joy she had anticipated. Fame 
carries ever with it its bitter savor, and, although 
she had not alone become the darling of the cele- 
brated geisha-house, but had brought fame and 
fortune to her master, many of the things she had 
most cared for she had been obliged to forego] in 
her new position as star of the House of Slender 
Pines. 

No longer was it possible for her to be shielded 
by the loving arms of the Okusama. Out into the 
broadest limelight even the delighted Okusama had 
pushed her, and this blinding light entailed a thou- 
sand duties of which she had only vaguely heard 
from the patronizing elder geishas. She had ceased 
to be the cuddled and petted little Moonlight, loved 
and stroked and tossed about by the geishas, be- 
cause of her beauty and ingenuous wit. Suddenly 
she had become the Spider! It was a new and 
fearful name that terrified her. 

Matsuda, proud of her success, and at last com- 
pletely won over, surrounded her with every luxury. 

19 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

So far he had forced upon the girl none of the odious 
exactions often demanded of the geishas by their 
masters, even though the law had defined the exact 
services to which he was legally entitled. 

A thousand lovers a geisha might have, said the 
unwritten law, but to possess one alone was fatal! 
She must place a guard of iron before her heart ! A 
geisha must sip at love as the bee culls the honey 
from the blossom, lingering but a moment over each. 
The rivers and the many pits of death were filled 
with the bodies of the hapless ones who had gone 
outside this law, who had dared to permit the pas- 
sionate heart to escape beyond the prescribed bounds. 

Moonlight, with all the witching arts of the 
geisha at her finger-tips, with a beauty as rare and 
mysterious as though she were a princess of some 
new world, had found it thus far an easy task to 
follow the rules laid down for her class. Like a 
fragile flower that must not be touched lest its 
bloom be soiled, the master of the geisha-house 
jealously protected his star from all possible con- 
tamination. She was held out as a lure to captivate 
and draw to his house the rich and noble ones; but, 
like some precious jewel in a casket, she was but 
to be seen, not touched! Matsuda was determined 
to save his most precious possession for the highest 
of bidders. Now his patience had met its due re- 
ward. The most illustrious head of the house of 
the exalted Saito solicited his services! 

20 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

So, while Matsuda gloated over the rich reward 
to be reaped surely from his lordly patron, the 
Spider was looking with frightened eyes into those 
of the Lord Saito Gonji, and she trembled and 
turned very pale under his somber glance. All her 
gay insouciance, her saucy, quick repartee, the 
teasing, witching little graces for which she now 
was noted, seemed to have deserted her. It troubled 
her that she was unable to obey the command of 
her master and make his most noble patron smile. 
Within the piercing eyes which sought her own she 
seemed to read only some tragic question, which, 
alas, she felt unable to answer. 

"I desire to please you, noble sir," she said, plain- 
tively, and added, with an impulsive motion of her 
little hands: "Alas! It is my duty!" 

For the first time a faint smile quivered across 
the young man's lips; but he did not speak. He 
continued to regard her in that musing fashion, as 
though he studied every feature of her face and 
drank in its loveliness with something of resignation 
and despair. 

His curious silence affected her. Was it not 
possible to arouse the strange one, then, to some 
animation and interest? Timidly she put out her 
hand a mute, charming little gesture then rested 
it upon his own. As though her touch had some 
electric power which stirred him to the depths, he 
leaned suddenly toward her, inclosing her hand in 

o 21 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

a close, almost painful grip. Now hungrily, plead- 
ingly, his look enveloped her. His voice trembled 
with the emotion he sought vainly to control. 

"Geisha, if it were possible if we belonged in 
another land if it were not for the customs of the 
ancestors I would tell you what is in my heart!" 

Like a child, wondering and curious, she answered : 

"I pray you, tell me! To keep a troubled secret 
is like carrying a cup brim full!" 

"I will ask you a question," he said incisively. 
"Wilt thou be my wife for all the lives yet to 
come?" 

As he spoke the forbidden words the Spider 
turned very pale. She sought to withdraw her 
trembling hands from his, but he held to them with 
a passionate tenacity. She could not speak. She 
could but look at him mutely, piteously; and her 
lovely, pleading gaze but added to the man's dis- 
traction. 

"Answer me!" he entreated. "Make me the 
promise, beautiful little mousme!" 

His vehemence and passion frightened her. She 
tried to avert her face, to turn it aside from his 
burning gaze; but he brought his own insistently 
close to hers. She could not escape his impelling 
eyes. At last, her bosom heaving up and down 
like a little troubled sea, she stammered: 

"You speak so strangely, noble sir. I I am 
but a geisha of the House of Slender Pines. Thou 

22 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

art as far above my sphere as as are the honor- 
able stars in the heavens." 

Her voice had a quality of exquisite terror, as 
though she sought vainly to thrust aside some 
hypnotic force to which she yearned to yield. It 
aroused but the ardor of her lover. 

"It is not possible," he murmured, "for one to 
be above thee, little geisha. Thou art lovelier than 
all the visions of the esteemed Sun Lady herself. I 
am thy lover for all time. I desire to possess thee 
utterly in all the lives yet to come. Make me the 
promise, beautiful mousme, that thou wilt travel 
with me that thou wilt be mine, mine only!" 

She drew back as far from him as it was possible, 
with her hands jealously held by his own. Her 
wide, frightened eyes were fixed in terror upon his. 

"I cannot speak the words!" she gasped. "I 
dare not speak them, august one!" 

For a moment his face, which had been lighted 
by excitement and passion, darkened. 

"You cannot then return my love?" 

"Ah! They are not words for a geisha to speak. 
It is not for such as I to make the long journey with 
one so illustrious as thou!" 

A sob broke from her, and because she could no 
longer bear to meet his burning gaze she hid her 
face with the motion of a child against their clasped 
hands. 

For a long moment there was silence between 

23 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

them. Louder, noisier, rose the mirth of the rev- 
elers about them. A dozen geishas pulled at the 
three-stringed instruments. As many more swayed 
and moved in the figures of the classical dance. 
Like great, gaudy butterflies, their bright wings 
fluttering behind them, the moving figures of the 
tea-maidens passed before them. Almost it seemed 
as if they two had been purposely set apart and 
forgotten. No one approached them. With con- 
certed caution, all avoided a glance in the direction 
of the guest of honor and the famous one who 
had been chosen to beguile and save him. How well 
she had performed her task one could see in the 
beaming face of Matsuda, the uneasy face of the 
elder Lord Saito, and the somewhat scowling one of 
the uncle of Ohano. 

The Lord Gonji saw nothing of the relatives. He 
was oblivious indeed of everything save the shining, 
drooped little head upon his hands. Scarcely he 
knew his own voice, so superlatively gentle and 
wooing was its tone. 

"I pray you, give me complete happiness with 
the promise, beloved one," he entreated. 

She raised her head slowly; and gravely, wistfully, 
her eyes now questioned him. Dimly she realized 
the effect of such a union upon his haughty family 
and the ancestors. 

She was but a geisha, a cultivated toy, educated 
for the one purpose of beguiling men and making 

24 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

their lot brighter. Like the painted and grotesque 
comedian who tortured his limbs to make others 
laugh, so it was the duty of a geisha to keep ever 
the laugh upon her lips, even though the heart 
within her broke. It was not possible that to her, 
a mere dancing girl, one was offering the entranc- 
ing opportunity of which lovers whisper to each 
other. Her face was very pinched and white, the 
eyes startlingly large, as she answered him: 

"I dare not speak the words, noble sir. I do not 
know the way. The Meido is very far off. We 
meet but once. Your honorable parents and the 
ancestors would turn back one so humble and in- 
significant as I." 

"The honorable parents," he gently explained, 
"can but point our duty in the present life. In 
the lives yet to come we choose our own companions. 
If I could if it were possible how gladly would 
I take thee also for this present life." 

She drew back, puzzled, vaguely distressed. 

"You you do not wish me now also?" she stam- 
mered, and there was a shocked, dazed note in her 
voice. He saw what was in her mind, and it startled 
him. 

"Do you not know why they have summoned 
you here to-night?" he questioned. 

"At at the command of my master," she fal- 
tered. "I am here to to please thee, noble sir. 
If it please thee to make a jest " 

25 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

She broke off piteously and tried to smile. Her 
hands slipped from his as he arose suddenly and 
looked down at her solemnly, where she still knelt 
at his feet. 

"You are here," he said, "to celebrate my honor- 
able betrothal to Takedo Ohano-san." 

She did not move, but continued to stare up at 
him with the dumb-stricken look of one unjustly 
punished. Then suddenly she sobbed, and her 
little head rested upon the ground at his feet. 

"Geisha!" He called to her sharply, command- 
ingly, and yet with a world of pleading emotion. 
Matsuda, hovering near, turned and looked lower- 
ingly at the girl on the ground. Her face was 
humbly in the dust at the feet of the Lord Saito 
Gonji. It was a position unworthy of a geisha, and 
Matsuda moved furiously nearer to them. This 
was the work of the Okusama, inwardly he fumed. 
Now when the geisha was put to the greatest test 
she 'was found wanting. At the feet of the man 
when he should have knelt at hers. 

"Geisha!" 

This time there was nothing but tenderness in 
his voice. He was conscious of the fact that 
the girl at his feet was suffering. He loved her, 
and was sure that life without her would be both 
intolerable and worthless. He had begged her to 
travel with him upon the final "long journey." She, 
in her simple innocence, believed he had asked her 

26 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

in marriage for this life also. Now, humiliated, she 
dared not look at him. 

Down he knelt beside her; but when he sought to 
put his arms about her, she sprang wildly to her 
feet. Not for a moment did she pause, but like 
some hunted, terrified thing fled fleetly across the 
garden. 

He started to follow, but stopped suddenly, 
blinded by the sudden excess of madness and rage 
that swept over him. For, as she ran, her master, 
Matsuda, doubled over in her path. His face was 
purple. His wicked little eyes glittered like one 
gone insane, and his great thick lips fell apart, 
showing the teeth like tusks of some wild beast. 
Gonji saw the shining doubled fists as they rose in 
the air and descended upon the head of the hapless 
Spider. Then he sprang forward like a madman, 
leaping at the throat of Matsuda and tossing him 
aside like some unclean thing. 

She lay unmoving upon her back, her arms cast 
out like the wings of a bird on either side. Gonji 
caught her up in his arms with a cry that rang out 
weirdly over the gardens. It stopped the mirth of 
the revelers and brought them in a hushed group 
about the pair. Now silence reigned in the gardens 
of the Saito. 

On the upper floor of the mansion the walls had 
been pushed entirely out so that an open pavilion, 
flower-laden, made a charming retreat for the 

27 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"honorable interiors," the ladies of the family, who 
might not, with propriety, join their lords in the 
revelry. Here, unseen, these "precious jewels of 
the household" might watch the celebration; but 
it was the part of the geisha to entertain their lord. 
Theirs the lot to receive him when, weary and worn, 
he must eventually return for rest. 

Now, from their sake-sipping the ladies were 
aroused by that cry of Saito Gonji. Over the 
lantern-hung, flower-laden trellis they leaned, their 
shrill voices sounding strangely in the silence that 
had fallen upon the entire company. Some one 
lighted a torch and swung it above the group on 
the ground. Under its light the mother of Gonji, 
and his bride, Ohano, saw the form of the Spider; 
and beside her, enveloping her in his arms, whis- 
pering to and caressing her, was the Lord Saito 
Gonji. 

Japanese women are trained to hide their deepest 
emotions. All the world tells of their impassive 
stoicism; but human nature is human nature, after 
all. So the bride shrieked like one who has lost 
his mind, but the cry was strangled ere it was half 
uttered. When the Lady Saito 's hand was with- 
drawn from the mouth of the bride, the pallid- 
faced Ohano slipped humbly to her knees, and, 
shaking like a leaf in a storm, stammered: 

"I I b-but laughed at the antics of the come- 
dians. Oh, d-d-d-did you see " 

28 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Here she broke off and hid her face, with a 
muffled sob, upon the breast of the elder woman. 
Without a word the latter led the girl inside, and 
the maidens drew the shoji into place, closing the 
floor. 



CHAPTER V 




|MI ! Omi ! Are you there ? Wretched 
little maiden, why do you not come?" 
The Spider peered vainly down through 
the patch in her floor. Then, at the 
faint sound of a sliding foot without, 
she slapped the section of matting into place again 
and fell to work in panic haste upon her embroidery. 
A passing geisha thrust in a curious face through 
the screens and wished her a pleasant day's work. 
The Spider responded cheerfully and showed her 
little white teeth in the smile her associates knew 
so well. But the instant the geisha had glided out 
of sight she was back at the patch again. She called 
in a whisper: "Omi! Omi! Omi-san!" but no an- 
swering treble child-voice responded. 

For a while she crouched over the patch and 
sought to peer down into the passage below. As 
she knelt, something sharp flew up and smote against 
her cheek. She grasped at it. Then, hastily closing 
the patch and, with stealthy looks about her, paus- 
ing a moment with alert ears to listen, she opened 
at last the note. It was crushed about a pebble, 
and was written on the thinnest of tissue-paper. 

30 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Moonlight drank in avidly the burning words of 
love in the poem. Her eyes were shining and bril- 
liant, her cheeks and lips as red as the poppies in 
her hair, when Matsuda thrust back the sliding 
screens and entered the chamber. He said nothing 
to the smiling geisha, but contented himself with 
scrutinizing her in a calculating manner, as though 
he summarized her exact value. Then, with a jerk 
or nod apparently of satisfaction, he left the room, 
and the girl was enabled to reread the beloved epistle. 

A few moments later the screens which Matsuda 
had carefully closed behind him were cautiously 
parted a space, and the thin, impish, pert, and pre- 
cocious face of a little girl of thirteen was thrust in. 
She made motions with her lips to the Spider, who 
laughed and nodded her head. 

Omi for it was she slipped into the room. She 
was an odd-looking little creature, her body as 
thin as her wise little face, above which her hair 
was piled in elaborate imitation of the coiffure of 
her mistress and preceptress. She fell to work at 
once, solicitously arranging the dress and hair of 
the Spider and complaining bitterly that the maids 
had neglected, shamefully, her beloved mistress's 
toilet. 

" Although it is not the proper work for an ap- 
prentice-geisha," she rattled along, "yet I myself 
will serve your honorable body, rather than permit 
it to suffer from such pernicious neglect." 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLTGHT 

She smoothed the little hands of her mistress, 
manicured and perfumed them, talking volubly all 
the time upon every subject save the one the Spider 
was waiting to hear about. At last, unable to bear 
it longer, Moonlight broke in abruptly: 

"How you chatter of insignificant matters! You 
tease me, Omi. I shall have to chastise you. Tell 
me in a breath about the matter." 

Omi grinned impishly, but at the reproachful look 
of her mistress her natural impulse to torment even 
the one she loved best in the world gave way. She 
began in a gasp, as though she had just come hastily 
into the room. 

4 'Oh, oh, you would never, never believe it in the 
world. Nor could I, indeed, had I not seen it with 
my own insignificant eyes." 

"Yes, yes, speak quickly!" urged the Spider, 
eagerly hanging upon the words of the appren- 
tice. 

Omi drew in and expelled her breath in long, 
sibilant hisses after the manner of the most exalted 
of aristocrats. 

" There are six of them at the gates, not to count 
the servants and runners down the road!" 

Moonlight looked at her incredulously, and Omi 
nodded her head with vigor. 

"It is so. I counted each augustness." She 
began enumerating upon her fingers. "There was 
the high-up Count Takedo Isami, Takedo Sachi, 

32 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Takedo there were four Takedos. Then the Lord 
Saito Takamura Ichigo, Saito " 

"Do not enumerate them, Omi. Tell me instead 
how you came, in spite of the watchful ones, in 
spite, too, of Matsuda, to reach his lordship." 

As she spoke the last word reverently, a flush 
deepened in her cheeks and her eyes shone upon 
the apprentice with such a lovely light that the 
adoring little girl cried out sharply: 

"It is true, Moonlight-san! Thou art lovelier 
than Ama-terasu-o-mi-kami!" 

"Hush, foolish one, that is blasphemy. Indeed I 
should be very unhappy did I outshine the august 
lady of the sun in beauty. But no more digressions. 
If you do not tell me and tell me at once exactly 
what happened how you reached the side of his 
lordship how he looked just how! What was 
said the very words how he spoke acted. Did 
he smile, or was he sad, Omi? Tell me tell me, 
please!" She ended coaxingly; but, as the pert little 
apprentice merely smiled tantalizingly, she added, 
very severely: 

"It may be I will look about for a new under- 
study. There is Ochika " 

At the mention of her rival's name Omi made a 
scornful grimace, but she answered quickly: 

"The Okusama helped me. She pretended an 
illness. Matsuda was afraid, and remained by her 
side, chafing her hands and her head." She laughed 

33 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

maliciously, and continued: "I slipped out by the 
bamboo-hedge gate. Omatsu saw me " At the 
look of alarm on the Spider's face: "Pooh! what 
does it matter? Every servant in the house ah! 
and the maids and apprentices yes, and the most 
honorable geishas too know the secret, and they 
wish you well, sweet mistress!'* 

She squeezed Moonlight's hands with girlish fer- 
vor, and the latter returned the pressure lovingly, 
but besought her to continue. 

"The main gates were closed. Just think! No 
one is admitted even to the gardens. Why, 'tis like 
the days of feudalism. We are in a fortress, with 
the enemy on all sides!" 

"Oh, Omi, you let your imagination run away 
with you, and I hang upon your words, waiting to 
hear what has actually happened." 

"I am telling you. It is exactly as I have said. 
Matsuda dares not offend the powerful family of the 
Saito, and it is at their command that the gates 
of the House of Slender Pines are closed rigorously 
to all the public. No one dare enter. No one dare 
go out save I!" and she smiled impudently. 
' ' It is said' ' lowering her voice confidentially ' ' that 
Matsuda has been paid a vast sum of 'cash' to keep 
his house closed. Mistress, there are great notices 
in black and white nailed upon the line of trees 
clear down the road. 'The House of Slender Pines 
is closed for the season of greatest heat!' And 

34 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

just think," and the little apprentice-geisha pouted, 
"not a koto or a samisen is permitted to be touched! 
Who ever heard of a geisha-house as silent as a 
mortuary hall? It is very sad. We wish to sing and 
dance and court the smiles of noble gentlemen; but 
you have made such a mess with your honorable love 
affair that every geisha and every apprentice is being 
punished! We are not permitted to speak above a 
whisper. Our lovers must stand beyond the gates 
and serenade us themselves. It is " 

"Oh, Omi, you wander so! Now tell me, sweet 
girl, exactly what I am perishing to know." 

"I will, duly!- You preach patience to me so 
often," declared the impish little creature; "now 
you must practise it also. I resume my narrative. 
Pray do not interrupt so often, as it delays my 
story." With that she leisurely proceeded. 

"Mistress, the entire gardens of the House of 
Slender Pines are patroled yes, and by armed 
samourai!" 

"Samourai! You speak nonsense. There is no 
such thing to-day as a samourai. Swords, moreover, 
are not permitted. Omi, you are tormenting me, 
and it is very unkind and ungrateful. You will 
force me to punish you very severely, much as I 
love you!" 

"It is as I have said. I speak only the truth. 
The ones who guard our house are exalted ones 
samourai by birth at least, relatives of his lordship. 

35 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

They do not permit even the smallest aperture to 
be unwatched, whereby his lordship might slip 
into the gardens, and from thence into my mistress's 
chamber " 

"Omi!" 

" for it has gone abroad through all the Saito 
clan that the peace of the most honorable ancestors 
is about to be imperiled." 

Moonlight's color was dying down, and as the little 
girl proceeded her two hands stole to her breast 
and clung to where the love poem was hidden. 

"As the relatives cannot by entreaty force his 
lordship from your vicinity, loveliest of mistresses, 
they are bent upon guarding him, in case by the 
artful intrigues known only to lovers" and the 
little maiden shook her head with precocious 
wisdom "he may actually reach your side despite 
the care of Matsuda." 

Moonlight now seemed scarcely to be listening. 
She was looking out dreamily before her, and her 
fancy conjured up the inspired face of her lover. 
She felt again the warm touch of his lips against 
her hair, and heard the ardent, passionate promise 
he had made in the little interval when she had 
come to consciousness within his arms there in the 
gardens of his ancestors. "If it is impossible to 
have you ay, in this very life then I will wed no 
other. No! though the voices of all the ancestors 
shout to me to do my duty!" 

36 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Now she knew he was very near to her. For 
days they had been unable to induce him to leave 
the vicinity of her home. Outside the gates of the 
closed geisha-house he had taken his stand, there 
to importune the implacable Matsuda and try 
vainly, by every ruse and device, to reach her side. 

Though she knew that never for a moment would 
the watchful relatives permit him to be alone, still 
at last he had eluded them sufficiently to send her 
word through the clever little Omi. Now she lis- 
tened with tingling ears, as Omi glibly and with ex- 
aggeration told how, as she flew by on her skipping- 
rope, he had slipped the note into her sleeve. Only 
this acute child could have outwitted Matsuda in 
this way. A few moments of hiding in the deserted 
ozashiki, a chance to toss the note aloft to her mis- 
tress, and then to await her opportunity when the 
lower halls should be clear and slip upstairs! Ap- 
prentices were not permitted to be thus at large, 
and Omi knew that, if caught, her punishment would 
be quite dreadful; but she gaily took the risk for 
her beloved mistress. 

She sat back now on her heels, having finished 
her recital. She watched Moonlight, as the latter 
read and reread her love missive. Much to the 
disappointment of the little maiden, her mistress 
did not read it aloud. The sulky pout, however, 
soon faded from the girl's lips, as her mistress put 
her cheek against Omi's thin little one. With arms 

4 37 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

enclasped, the two sat in silence, watching the falling 
of the twilight ; and in the mind of each one solitary 
figure stood clearly outlined. His features were 
delicate, his arched eyebrows as sensitive as a poet's, 
his lips as full and pouting as a child's. His eyes 
were large and long and somewhat melancholy, but 
there were latent hints within them of a stronger 
power capable of awakening. Upon his face was 
that ineffaceable stamp of caste, and it lent a charm 
to the youth's entire bearing. 

A maid pattered into the apartment and lit the 
solitary andon. Its wan light added but a feeble 
gleam in the darkened room. Presently she re- 
turned, bearing the simple meal for the geisha and 
her apprentice. When this was finished, with the 
aid of Omi she spread the sleeping-quilts and snuffed 
the andon light. It was the orders of Matsuda that 
the house should be darkened at the hour when 
previously it was lighted most gaily. There was 
nothing left for them to do save go to bed. Yet for 
some time, in the darkened chamber, with its closed 
walls, the two remained whispering and planning; 
and once the watchful maid upon her sleeping-mat 
outside the screens heard the soft, musical laughter 
of the famous geisha, and the servant sighed un- 
easily. She did not like this work assigned her by 
Matsuda. 

In the middle of the night Omi, turning on the 
quilts, missed her mistress at her side. Arising, she 

38 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

felt along the floor beside her. Then, alarmed, she 
slipped out from under the netting. It was a clear 
moonlight night, and a golden stream came into the 
room through the widely opened shoji. Leaning 
against it, with her dreamy head resting upon the 
trellis, was her mistress. By the light of the moon 
she held the shimmering sheets of tissue-paper, 
and over these she still pored and wept. 



CHAPTER VI 




|F the once flourishing and numerous 
family of the Saito, there were but two 
male members living, Saito Gonji, and 
his father, Saito Ichigo. The relatives 
of the Lady Saito were, however, nu- 
merous, and, like the mother of Gonji, they possessed 
stern and domineering dispositions. In contrast, 
her husband was easy-going and genial, and it had 
been an easy matter, in consequence, thus far, for 
the relatives to rule the head of the illustrious 
house. Lord Ichigo had even followed their counsel 
in the matter of the education of his boy, although it 
had cut him to the heart to resign his cherished son 
at so tender an age to the severe tutors chosen for 
him by his wife's relatives. 

When Ohano had been selected as a wife for the 
youth, the father of Gonji had offered no objection. 
In fact, there was little that he could have found to 
object to in this particular matter. The girl was of 
a family equally honorable ; her health was excellent ; 
she had shown no traits of character objectionable 
in a woman. Indeed, she appeared to be an honor- 
able and desirable vehicle to hand down the race of 

40 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Saito of imperishable fame. And that, of course, 
was the main idea of marriage. It was a matter of 
duty to the ancestors, and not of desire of the in- 
dividuals. So the peace-loving elder Lord Saito be- 
lieved, at the time of the betrothal, that he had safely 
disposed of a most vexing problem. 

He was dumfounded, panic-stricken, at the turn 
events had taken. On all sides, harangued by that 
insistent lady, his wife, and also by her many rela- 
tives, he found it, nevertheless, impossible to turn 
a deaf ear to the impassioned pleading of the young 
man himself. Day and night Gonji desperately beset 
his father, ignoring utterly all other members of the 
family. 

His vigil of many days before the gates of the 
House of Slender Pines had but strengthened the 
young man's resolve. At any cost yes, at the sac- 
rifice of the ancestors' honor even he was deter- 
mined to possess the Spider. Since he was assured 
that his passion was returned and the assurance 
came through the lips of the little Omi, who had 
screeched the words impishly in his ear, as if in de- 
rision, that those about them might not suspect 
Gonji determined to marry the geisha not alone in 
the thousand vague lives yet to come, but in the 
present one, too. He must have her now. It was 
impossible to wait, he told his father. If the cruel 
laws forbade their union, then they would go to 
the gods, and the less harsh heart of the river would 

41 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

receive them in a bridal night that would never 
pass away. 

It is not an easy matter for a youth in Japan to 
many without the full consent of his parents. Every 
possible obstacle had been thrown into the path of 
the despairing Gonji. Even his revenue was cut off 
completely, so that, even had he been able to move 
the stony heart of the geisha-keeper from the posi- 
tion he had taken at the behest of the powerful 
family, Gonji had not the means to purchase the 
girl's freedom from her bonds. There was nothing, 
therefore, left for the unfortunate Gonji save to focus 
all his energies upon his father; and day and night 
he besieged the unhappy Ichigo. 

The latter had listened, without comment, to the 
law as laid down by Takedo Isami, the uncle of 
Ohano. He had listened to the urgings of the many 
other relatives of his wife that he remain firm 
throughout the ordeal they realized he was passing 
through. He had given an equally attentive ear to the 
besieging relatives and to the stern Lady Saito, who 
was confident of the powerful influence of the tongue 
upon her lord. Then he had hearkened in silence, 
with drawn, averted face, to the desperate pleading 
of his only son, the one creature in the world that 
he truly loved. 

While the father miserably debated the matter 
within himself, Gonji suddenly ceased to importune 
his parent. Retiring to his own chamber, he closed 

42 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

and fastened the doors against all possible in- 
truders. 

The relatives regarded this latest act of their 
fractious young kinsman as an evidence that at last 
his impetuous young will was breaking. They con- 
gratulated themselves upon their firmness at this 
time, and advised Lord Saito Ichigo to retain an 
unbending attitude in the matter. 

The abrupt retirement of his son, however, had 
a strange effect upon Ichigo. He could think of 
nothing save the youth's last words. He dared not 
confide his fears even to his wife, who was already 
sufficiently distracted by her task of caring for 
Ohano and her anxiety about her son. 

Against the advice of the relatives that Gonji be 
left alone to fight out the battle by himself, his 
father forced his way into the boy's presence. Gonji 
responded neither to his knocking nor to his father's 
imperative call. So Lord Ichigo forced the screens 
apart. 

In one glance the father of Gonji saw what it 
was the desperate young man now contemplated, 
for he had robed himself from head to foot in the 
white garments of the dead. His face was, moreover, 
as fixed and white as though already he had started 
upon the journey. 

' ' Gonji my dear son ! " 

The elder Lord Saito scarce knew his own voice, 
so hoarse and full of anguished emotion was it. He 

43 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

stood close by the kneeling Gonji and rested his 
hands heavily upon the boy's slender shoulders. 
Gonji looked up slowly and met his father's gaze. 
A mist came before his eyes, but he spoke steadily, 
gently : 

"It is better this way. I pray you to pardon me. 
I am unable to serve the ancestors." 

"It is not of the ancestors I think," said Lord 
Saito, gruffly, "but of you you only, my son!" 

Gonji looked at him strangely now, as though he 
sought to fathom the mind of his father; but he 
turned away, perplexed and distressed. 

"You must believe that," went on his father, 
brokenly. "What is best for your happiness, that 
is my wish, above all things. If happiness is only 
possible for you by giving you what is your heart's 
desire, then" a smile broke over the grave, pain- 
racked features of his father, as though a weight 
were suddenly lifted from his heart at the sudden 
resolve that had come to him "then," he con- 
tinued, "it shall be!" 

With a cry, Gonji gripped at his parent s hands, 
his eyes turned imploringly upon Lord Saito 's face. 

"You mean ah, you promise, then He could 
not speak the words that rushed in a flood to his 
lips. 

"H6! (Yes!)" said Lord Ichigo, solemnly. "It is a 
promise." 



CHAPTER VII 




AVING determined upon the course to 
take, Lord Saito Ichigo summoned a 
council of the relatives of the family. 
For the first time, possibly, since his 
marriage, he faced the assembled kins- 
folk with the calm demeanor of one who had seized, 
and intended to retain, the authority properly in- 
vested in him as head of the house of Saito. His 
should be the voice heard! His the decision that 
must prevail! 

In the minds of most men Japanese men, at 
least who have married at the dictates of their 
parents, there is always some little cherished cham- 
ber to which, despite the passing years, memory re- 
turns with loving, loitering step. So with Lord 
Ichigo. Now, with the fate of his beloved child 
in his hands, the father looked back upon his own 
life, and it was no reflection upon his excellent and 
virtuous wife that he did so with just a shade of 
vague regret. 

The impetuous Gonji's passionate words had not 
been spoken to deaf ears. Lord Saito Ichigo was 
determined to keep his promise to his son, what- 

45 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

ever the result; for well he knew of the upheaval 
in his household which would be sure to follow. 

There was, of course, Ohano to think of. Her 
case was not as difficult as it seemed, he pointed out 
to the assembled relatives. An orphan, one of a 
family already allied by marriage to the Saitos, they 
had taken her into their house at an early age. They 
already regarded her as a daughter. As for a daugh- 
ter, they would seek, outside their own family, for 
a worthy and suitable husband for the maiden. In 
fact, it was better that Ohano should marry another 
than Lord Gonji, since the latter had always looked 
upon her as a sister, and a union between them 
was, to him, repugnant. That, indeed, Ichigo himself 
had thought at first, but he had desired to please 
" the honorable interior " (his wife) and the many 
relatives of his honorable wife. 

Thus he disposed of this matter briefly, and, al- 
though the relatives looked at each other with 
startled glances, they had nothing to say. Some- 
thing in the fixed attitude of the one they had hith- 
erto somewhat contemptuously regarded as weak 
and yielding claimed now their respectful attention. 

To approach the matter of the marriage of a 
Saito with a public geisha required not alone tact, 
but bravery. Hardly had the father of Gonji 
mentioned the matter when a storm of dissent arose. 
To a man to say nothing of the countless unseen 
female relatives arrayed even more bitterly against 

46 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

her the exalted kinsmen resented even the sug- 
gestion of such a union. So the Lord Ichigo ap- 
proached the subject by wary paths. 

In the first place, he pointed out boldly, the as- 
sembled ones were not actually of the Saito blood, 
but relatives by marriage only; and, while their 
counsel and advice were respectfully and gratefully 
solicited, even their united verdict could not finally 
stand out against the legal head of the house. This 
bold statement at the outset met a silence more 
eloquent of resentment than any storm of words. 

It was imperative, as all had agreed, continued 
Lord Ichigo, that the son and heir of the house of 
Saito should make an early marriage. He was the 
last of the line. The glorious and heroic ancestors 
demanded descendants. It was a sacred duty to keep 
alive the illustrious seed. 

Lord Ichigo launched into a detailed recital here 
of the notable deeds of his ancestors, but was stopped 
abruptly by the sarcastic comment of Takedo Isami, 
who quoted the ancient proverb, " There is no seed 
to a great man!" meaning none could inherit his 
greatness. 

This cut off Ichigo's oratory; and, hurt and dis- 
turbed at the quotation as a reflection upon his 
own shortcomings, he brought up squarely before 
the main issue. 

These were the days of enlightenment, when the 
iron-clad ships of war sailed the seas as far as the 

47 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

great Western lands ; when the Japanese had accepted 
the best of the ways of the West ; when the spirit 
of the New Japan permeated every nook and corner 
of the empire. There was one Western privilege 
which the men of New Japan were now demanding, 
and desired above all things. That they must have : 
the right to love! 

Now, "love'* is not a very proper word, according 
to the Japanese notion of polite speech. Hence the 
attitude of the relatives. Nor did the frigid at- 
mosphere melt in the slightest before the flow of 
fervid eloquence that the father of Gonji brought 
to the defense of this reprehensible weakness. 

Takedo Isami, who seemed to have assumed the 
position of leader and dictator among the relatives, 
arose slowly to his feet, and, thrusting out a pugna- 
cious chin, asked for the right to speak. He was 
short, dark, with the face of a fighter and the body 
of a dwarf. 

Admitting the right of man to love, he said it 
was better to hide this weakness, and, by all means, 
fight its insidious effort to enter the household. 
Only men of low morals married for love. Duty was 
so beautiful a thing that it brought its own reward. 
The proper kind of love the lofty and the pure 
declared the uncle of Ohano, came always after 
marriage, and sanctified the union. That the last 
of a great race, in whose keeping the ancestors had 
confidently placed the family honor, should con- 

48 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

template a union of mere love and passion with a 
notorious and public geisha was a gratuitous and 
cruel insult not alone to his many living relatives 
and they of his mother's side were equally of his 
blood but to the ancestors. 

As the uncle of Ohano reseated himself a low 
murmur of approbation broke out from the circle. 
Gloomy looks were turned toward Ichigo, whose 
face had become curiously fixed. Far from weaken- 
ing his resolve, his pride had been stung to the 
quick. Nothing, he told himself inwardly, would 
cause him to retreat from the position he had 
taken. He looked Takedo Isami squarely in the 
eye ere he spoke. 

The honorable Takedo Isami's remarks, he de- 
clared, were a reflection upon his own, since they 
concerned one whom the ancestors and the Lord 
Saito Gonji deemed worthy to honor. Moreover, 
it was both vain and reprehensible to cast a stone 
at a profession honored by all intelligent Japanese. 
It was of established knowledge that often the 
geishas were recruited from the noblest families in 
Japan. It was absurd to regard them with disdain, 
as apparently had latterly become the fashion. 
There was no great event in the history of the 
nation since feudal times wherein the geisha had 
not played her part nobly. The greatest of sacrifices 
she had made for her country and the Mikado. 
There were instances, too famous to need repeating, 

49 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

of the most exquisite martyrdom. The Emperor, 
the nobility, the priests all delighted to do her 
honor. Only the ignorant assumed to despise her. 
She was in reality the darling and the pride of the 
entire nation. One would as soon dream of being 
without the flowers and the birds, and all the other 
joyous things of life, as the geisha. Who was it, 
then, dared to reflect upon the most charming of 
Japanese institutions? 

Up sprang Takedo Isami, his hand raised, his 
dark face flushed with fury, despite the restraint 
he sought to exercise upon his features. His voice 
was under control, and he spoke with incisive 
bitterness. 

His honorable kinsman, he loudly declared, wished 
but to confuse the issue. No one denied the virtues 
of the geisha; also the undoubted fact that many 
of them came from the impoverished families of 
the samourai. Nevertheless, charming and de- 
sirable as she was, she had not been educated to 
be the mother of a great race. Her lithe, twisting, 
dancing little body was not meant to bear children. 
Her light, frivolous mind was ill-fitted to instruct 
one's sons and daughters. Society had set her in 
her proper place. It was against all precedents to 
take her from her sphere. One did not desire as a 
mate through life a creature of mere beauty, any 
more than one would care to take one's daily bowl 
of rice from a fragile work of art which would shat- 

50 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

ter at the mere contact of the sturdy chop-sticks 
against it. 

Such a storm of dissent and discussion now arose 
that it was impossible for the father of Gonji to hear 
his own voice, and indeed all seemed to make an 
effort to drown it. So he summoned servants, and 
coolly bade them put the amado (outside sliding 
walls) in place, lest the unseemly noise of wordy 
strife be heard by some passing neighbor for the 
Japanese esteem it a disgrace to engage in contro- 
versy. Then, when the doors were in place, Lord 
Saito Ichigo gravely bowed to the assembled rela- 
tives, and, taking his son by the arm, bade them good 
night, advising that they argue the matter among 
themselves, without his unnecessary presence. 




CHAPTER VIII 

HE most dreaded moment of a Japanese 
girl's life is when she enters the house 
of the mother-in-law. Her future hap- 
piness, she knows, is in the hands of 
this autocratic and all-powerful lady. 
Meekly the wise bride enters, with propitiating 
smiles and gifts, robed in her most inconspicuous 
gown, her aim being not to enhance whatever beauty 
she may possess, but, if possible, to hide it. 

Far more necessary is it for her to have the good- 
will of the mother-in-law than that of the husband. 
It is even possible for the mother-in-law, for certain 
causes, to divorce the young wife. In point of fact, 
the bride goes on trial not to her husband, but to her 
husband's parents. It depends entirely upon their 
verdict whether she shall be "returned" or not. In 
most cases, however, where the marriage is arranged 
between the families, there is the desire to please the 
family of the bride; and it is more often the case 
than not that the parents of the husband re- 
ceive the little, fearful bride with open arms and 
hearts. 

The geisha is not educated for marriage. From 

52 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

her earliest years, indeed, she is taught that her 
office in life is merely to entertain. 

In the case of the Spider, she had even less oppor- 
tunity for knowing the rules that prevailed in such 
matters. She had been educated by the witless wife 
of the geisha-keeper. All her short life had been 
spent in aiding nature to make her more beautiful, 
more charming. The most important thing in life, 
the thing that brought rare smiles of admiration to 
even the sternest lips, was to be beautiful, witty, 
and charming. 

So the Spider set out for the Saito house with 
a light and fearless heart, confident in the power of 
her beauty and witchery to win even the most 
frosty-hearted of mothers-in-law. Arrayed in the 
most gorgeous robe the geisha-house afforded, with 
huge flowers in her hair, her little scarlet fan fluttering 
at her breast, attended by her no less gaudily dressed 
maiden and apprentice, Omi, and followed almost 
to the gates of the estate by a procession of well- 
meaning friends and former comrades, the geisha 
entered the ancestral home of the illustrious family. 
For just a moment, ere she entered, she paused 
upon the threshold, a premonitory thrill of fear 
seizing her. She clung to the supporting hand of 
the garrulous Omi, whose shrill and acid little 
tongue already grew mute in the silent halls of the 
shiro (mansion). 

Presently they were ushered into the ozashiki, 

5 53 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

and the Spider became conscious of the stiff and 
ceremonious figures standing back coldly by the 
screens, their gowns seeming in the subdued light 
of the room of a similar dull color to the satin fusuma 
of the walls, their shining topknots undecorated with 
flower or ornament, their thin, unmoving lips and 
eyes almost closed in cold, unsmiling scrutiny of 
the intruder, who seemed, like some brilliant butter- 
fly, to have dropped in their midst from another 
world. 

The women of the household and these com- 
prised the mother, two austere maternal aunts, and 
Takedo Ohano-san (she who was to have been the 
bride of Lord Gonji) surveyed the Spider with 
narrow, keen eyes that took in every detail of her 
flaming gown, her dazzling coiffure, flower-laden, 
and, beneath, the exquisite little face, with wide 
and starlit eyes that looked at them now in friendly 
appeal. 

There was no word spoken. Nothing but the 
sighing, hissing sound of indrawn breaths, as with 
precise formality they made their obeisances to the 
bride. 

In vain did the wandering eyes of the geisha scan 
the farthermost corner of the great room in search 
of her lover, or even his seemingly friendly father. 
There were only the women there to receive her. 

Dimly, now, she recalled hearing or reading some- 
where that this was a fashion followed by many 

54 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

families the reception of the bride at first alone by 
the women of the house, who were later to present 
her to the assembled relatives. But why this discon- 
certing silence? Why the cold, unfriendly, lofty gaze 
of these unmoving women? They stood like grave 
automata, regarding sternly the bride of the Lord 
Saito Gonji. 

The smile upon the geisha's lips flickered away 
tremulously; her little head drooped like a flower; 
she closed her eyes lest the threatening tears might 
fall. 

A voice, cold, harsh, and with that note of com- 
mand of one in authority addressing a servant, at 
last broke the silence. 

"It is my wish," said the Lady Saito Ichigo, 
"that you retire to your chamber, and there remove 
the garments of your trade." 

So strange and unexpected were the words that 
at first the Spider did not realize that they could 
possibly be addressed to her. She looked up, be- 
wildered, and encountered the steely gaze of the 
mother-in-law. Moonlight never forgot that first 
glance. In the unrelenting gaze bent upon her she 
read what brought havoc and pain to her heart, 
for all the stored-up resentment and hatred that 
burned within the Lady Saito Ichigo showed now 
in her face. Her voice droned on with mechanical, 
incisive calmness, but always with the cruel and 
harsh tone of contemptuous command: 

55 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"It is my wish that your maiden of the geisha- 
house be returned at once to her proper home." 

She clapped her hands precisely twice, and a 
serving-woman answered the summons and knelt 
respectfully to take the order of her mistress. 

"You will conduct the wife of the Lord Saito 
Gonji to her chamber." 

The servant crossed to the still kneeling Moon- 
light, and while the latter, mystified, looked dumbly 
at the exalted but, to her, horrible lady, she assisted 
the Spider to arise. Mechanically and fearfully, 
pausing not even at the wrathful, sobbing outcry 
that had broken loose from Omi, she followed in 
the wake of the serving-maid. 

Presently she found herself in an empty chamber, 
unlike any she had known in the geisha-house, with 
its golden matting shining like glass, and its lacquer 
latticed walls of water-paper, and the sliding screens, 
rare and exquisite works of art. Here the maid fell to 
work upon the geisha, removing every vestige of her 
attire and substituting the plain but elegant flowing 
robes of a lady of rank. 

From the geisha's hair she removed the ornaments 
and the poppies. She swept it down, like a cloud 
of lacquer, upon the shoulders of the girl, then drew 
it up into the stiff and formal mode proper for one 
of her class. From the girl's face she wiped the last 
trace of rouge and powder, revealing the rosy, shining 
skin beneath, clear and clean as a baby's. 

56 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

When she emerged from the hands of the maid, 
Moonlight looked at herself curiously in the small 
mirror tendered her, and for a moment she stared, 
dumfounded at the face that looked back at her. 
It seemed so strangely young, despite its wide and 
wounded eyes. Though she was in reality more 
charming than ever, seeming like one who had come 
from a fresh and invigorating bath, the geisha felt 
that the last vestige of her beauty had fled. Within 
her heart arose a panic-stricken fear of the effect 
of the metamorphosis upon her lord. She wished 
ardently she were back in the noisy geisha-house, 
with the maidens clamoring about her and the 
apprentices vieing with one another in imitating 
her. She put the mirror behind her. Her lips 
trembled so she could hardly compress them, and 
to avoid the scrutiny of the maid she moved 
blindly to the shoji. There she stared out unsee- 
ingly at the landscape before her, heroically try- 
ing to choke back the tears that would force their 
way and dripped down her dimpled cheeks like 
rain. 

Some one whispered her name, very softly, ador- 
ingly. She turned and looked at him her young 
bridegroom, with his pale face alight with happiness. 
She tried to answer him, but even his name eluded 
her. It was the first time they had been alone to- 
gether, the first time they had seen each other since 
that night in the gardens of the Saito. 

57 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"Why, how beautiful thou art!" he stammered. 
"More so even than I had dreamed!" 

He was very close to her now, and almost uncon- 
sciously she leaned against him. His arms enfolded 
her rapturously, and she felt his young cheek warm 
against her own. 




CHAPTER IX 

E mistake you will admit it was a 
mistake? was to have countenanced 
such a match at all," said the Lady 
Saito Ichigo. 

Her husband's manner was less sure, 
less unyielding than it had been in many days. In- 
deed, there was a slightly apologetic tone in his voice, 
and he avoided the angry eyes of his spouse. He 
too had seen the arrival of the Spider! 

"Well, well, let us admit it, then, for the sake of 
peace. The marriage was a mistake. But consider, 
our son's happiness nay, his very life! was at 
stake." 

He lowered his voice. 

"I will tell you in confidence that which I had 
discovered. They had already made their plans to 
marry." 

"Pff!" Lady Saito waved the matter aside as 
unbelievable. "Will you tell me how they were to 
do this thing? Marriage, fortunately, is not such 
an easy matter without the consent of the parents. 
Moreover, the woman was under bonds to her 
keeper." 

59 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"You forget there are other unions possible to 
lovers. You should know that many such start 
bravely on the long journey to the Meido when it 
is impossible to marry in this life." 

Lady Saito turned her face slowly toward her 
husband and fixed him with a piercing, bitter glare. 

"That," said Ichigo, gently, "was the union con- 
templated by our children." 

His wife drew in her breath in that peculiar, hiss- 
ing fashion of the Japanese. Her beady little eyes 
glittered like fire. 

"That was what she the Spider woman in- 
duced my son to do! You see, do you not, how 
completely she has seduced him even from his 
duty to his parents and his ancestors?" 

She beat out the minute blaze from her pipe, 
digging into it with her forefinger. Then, first 
coughing harshly to attract the attention of the 
young people, she called out loudly: 

"Come hither, if you please! I say, come! You 
seem to forget you are no longer in the geisha-house. 
It is the voice of supreme authority which summons 
you now. A cup of tea, if you please and water 
for my honorable feet!" 

She repeated the demand twice, in a peremptory 
voice; and now she arose to her feet and advanced 
a step almost threateningly toward the young couple. 

They had been smiling into each other's eyes. 
They were oblivious of everything and every one in 

60 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

the room, for they were in that exalted and en- 
raptured condition of first love which makes the in- 
dividual seem almost stupid and obtuse to all save 
the loved one. Only dimly the words of their 
mother had reached them, and they stirred like 
children rudely awakened from some beautiful 
dream. The smile was still on the face of the girl 
as she turned toward her mother-in-law; but it 
slowly faded, leaving her pale, confused, and tim- 
orous. She met the malevolent gaze of the older 
woman, and began to tremble. 

She tried to speak, and her hand reached out 
flutteringly toward her husband a charming, help- 
less little gesture that warmed him to the soul. He 
inclosed the little reaching hand, and thus, hand 
in hand, they faced the enraged lady. 

"Your manners, my good girl, are in keeping 
with the geisha-house. Is it the fashion there to 
ignore the voice of authority?" 

The bride's large, dark eyes had widened in inno- 
cent surprise. Only partially she seemed to com- 
prehend the older woman's attitude. She had been 
but a day in the house of the parents-in-law. No 
one as yet had taught her, the cherished, petted, 
adored star of the House of Slender Pines, that the 
position of a daughter-in-law is often as lowly as 
that of a servant. Not even by Matsuda had she 
ever been thus offensively addressed. She said, 
stammeringly : 

61 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"I I have not heard the voice of which you 
speak, august lady." 

A cruel smile curled the lips of her mother-in-law. 

"Then it is time, my girl, that you kept your ears 
wide open." . 

She sat down upon her heels abruptly by the 
hibachi. 

"Tea is desirable for the honorable insides. 
Water for my feet, which are tired!" 

The girl's eyes turned inquiringly toward her 
husband. He had grown darkly red. For a moment 
he seemed about to speak protestingly to his mother; 
then in a whisper he murmured to his bride: 

"It is your duty!" 

Moonlight's shocked glance had gone from her 
husband's face to the opposite shoji. There, in 
dumb show, a maid beckoned to her. Without a 
word her lovely little head bowed in meek assent; 
she began upon her first menial task. 

When she was gone Gonji looked scowlingly at 
the back of his mother's head she had turned her 
face rigidly from him. He felt keenly the danger 
threatening his wife, the one he adored. He knew 
the exact power in the hands of the mother-in-law, 
the cruel whip of authority it was possible for her 
to wield. That Moonlight would be forced to 
succumb to the common lot of many unhappy 
wives he had not realized. Secretly he determined 
to help her in every way possible within his power. 

62 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"What has come over you?" His mother's voice 
broke upon his miserable reverie, and it was as harsh 
as the one she employed to his wife. "Is it a new 
fashion of the geisha-house perchance to answer a 
parent's question with silence?" 

"Did you question me, mother? I am sorry I 
did not hear you." 

"Oh, it is of no consequence. Besides, you are not 
listening, even now. Your eyes are still upon the 
screen through which the insignificant daughter-in- 
law passed to do me service." 

He flushed and bit his lips. Something in his 
mother's baleful look moved him to an impetuous 
cry: 

"Mother! Do not hate my wife! If you could 
but know her as she is, so sweet and lovely and " 

"There is no medicine for a fool!" snarled his 
mother, enraged at the boy's apparent infatuation. 

Moonlight, who had pushed the sliding doors open, 
heard the words, and now she paused, looking from 
one to the other. Gonji hastened across to her and 
seized the pail of water from her hand. 

"It is too heavy for hands so small and so 
lovely!" he cried, and then, as though aghast at 
his own words, he again pleadingly faced his 
mother. 

"We have many servants. Why give such em- 
ployment to my wife?" 

"Since when," demanded the mother, hoarsely, 

63 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"did a childless son become master in his father's 
house?" 

" These are modern times, mother," he protested. 
"She has not been bred for service such as this!" 

"Then it is time we undertook her education," 
said his mother, ominously. "In the house of the 
honorable mother-in-law she will quickly learn her 
proper place." 

She put out her feet, and the girl knelt and washed 
them. 

Alone that evening in their room, they clung to- 
gether like frightened children. It had been a hard, 
a cruel day for both. 

"It is true," she said, searching his face in the 
hope of finding a denial there, "that your parents 
bitterly hate me." 

' ' They will outgrow it. It is not so with my father, 
and later you will win my mother's affection. Your 
sweetness, beauty, goodness, beloved one, will win 
her even against her will." 

She held him back from her, with her two little 
hands resting flatly on his breast. 

"They despise me because I am a geisha? That 
is why they treat me so." 

"No, it is not that only. It is often the case at 
first in the house of the parents-in-law. It is your 
duty to serve them to obey even their cruel caprices. 
But" and he drew her into a warm embrace "it 
will not be for long! Maybe a year longer, if the 

64 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

gods decree it! You can bear it for a little while, 
can you not, for me?" 

"And after that?'* she persisted, with the clear- 
eyed innocence of a child. 

"After that? Why, the gods are good!" he cried, 
joyously. "We will have our own home. The 
humblest daughter-in-law is elevated with the com- 
ing of an heir!" 

Her eyes were very wide, and in their dark depths 
he saw a piteous look of terror there. She caught 
at his hand and clung to it. 

"Gonji! Suppose suppose it is not possible for 
me to please the gods!" she gasped. "Ah!" as 
he hastened to reassure her "it is said by the wise 
ones that a geisha is but a fragile toy, for transient 
pleasure only, but with neither the body nor the 
heart to mother a race!" 




CHAPTER X 

IFE for a young wife in the house of 
her parents-in-law in Japan is seldom a 
bed of roses. Of the entire family she 
is, up to a certain period, the most in- 
4 significant. Under the most galling cir- 
cumstances the Japanese bride remains meek, duti- 
ful, patient. She dare not even look too fondly for 
comfort from her husband, lest she arouse the 
jealousy of the august lady, for no woman can, with 
equanimity, endure the thought that her adored 
son prefers another to herself. 

Moonlight's lot was harder than that of most 
brides, for, besides the menial tasks assigned her, 
she was obliged to endure the veiled, insulting 
references to her former caste, and to carry always 
with her the knowledge that she was not alone 
despised but hated by her husband's people. 

There was one compensation, however. Far from 
decreasing, the love of the young Lord Gonji for 
his beautiful wife grew ever stronger. It was im- 
possible, moreover, for him to conceal the state of 
his heart from the lynx-eyed, passionately jealous 
mother, with the consequence that she let no oppor- 

66 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

tunity escape her of making her daughter's life a 
burden. In this venomous task she was ably 
assisted by Ohano, who was still a member of the 
household. 

In contrast to the treatment accorded the young 
wife, Ohano was cherished and made the constant 
companion and confidante of Lady Saito. Always 
healthy, plump, and active, she presented at this 
time a striking contrast to the wistful-eyed and 
fragile Moonlight, who looked as if a breath might 
blow her away. She was given to dreaming and 
star-gazing, a girl devoted to poetry and music. In 
the geisha-house her fresh, young laughter had 
mingled at all times with the other joyous sounds. 
Now, however, she seemed under some spell. She 
was a different creature, one who even moved 
uncertainly, starting painfully at the slightest mo- 
tion and flushing and paling whenever addressed. 

She had set herself the task of studying "The 
Greater Learning for Women," and now, pain- 
fully, from day to day, she, who had once gaily 
ordered all about her, tried to obey meekly the 
strict rules laid down for her sex by Confucius. 

No matter how humiliating the task set her, how 
harshly, and even cruelly, the tongue of the mother- 
in-law lashed her, she made no murmur of com- 
plaint. But daily she visited the Temple. While it 
seemed as if her back must break from weariness, she 
would remain upon her knees for hours at the shrine, 

67 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

murmuring ever one insistent, passionate prayer to 
the gods. 

The first year passed away, and there was no 
change in the household of the Saitos. 

A letter came to the young wife from the wife of 
Matsuda, entreating her former favorite to come 
to her for a little visit. The letter was laid meekly 
before the mother-in-law, and, to the girl's surprise, 
permission was granted. Her husband took her to 
her former home and left her there among her friends. 

They had both expected that her health would be 
improved by the change, by the reunion with old 
friends and comrades, the brightness and cheer of the 
House of Pleasure, and the throng of admiring maidens 
and geishas about her. But, instead, the place had a 
depressing effect upon the former geisha. The lights, 
the constant strumming of drum and samisen, the 
singing, the continuous dancing and chatting, bewil- 
dered her, and before the week was over she returned 
to her husband's home. Hardly, however, had she 
entered the Saito house when a new fear seized her. 

Something in the silent, speculating gaze of her 
mother-in-law smote her heart with terror. Of 
what was the older woman thinking, she wondered, 
and what had put that curious smile of satisfied 
triumph upon the face of Ohano? 

Troubled, she begged her husband to tell her 
exactly of what they had talked in her absence. 
He reassured her, told her she but imagined a 

68 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

change; but he held her so closely, so savagely to his 
breast that she was surer than ever that something 
menaced their happiness. 

The following morning she trembled and turned very 
pale at a sneering hint conveyed by the mother-in-law. 

The fact that she was childless at the end of the 
first year, then, had become a subject of remark in 
the family! 

The Lady Saito remarked sarcastically that 
among certain classes it was customary for childless 
women to drink of the Kiyomidzu Temple springs. 
They were said to contain miraculous qualities by 
which one might attain to motherhood. 

Moonlight said nothing, but unconsciously her 
glance stole to her husband. He had grown un- 
comfortably red, and she saw his scowling face 
turned upon his mother. 

Later, very timidly, she begged his permission to 
drink of the springs. He was opposed to it, saying 
it was a superstition of the ignorant; his mother 
but jested. She pleaded so insistently, and seemed 
to take the matter so deeply to heart, that at last 
he consented. 

And so, with this last frantic hope, the geisha 
whose flashing beauty and talents had made her a 
queen in the most exacting of the tea-houses of 
Kioto now joined this melancholy band of childless 
women who thus desperately seek to please the 
gods by drinking of their favored waters. 




CHAPTER XI 

a matter of expediency, the father told 
Gonji, it would be necessary to divorce 
Moonlight. One could not allow one's 
family to be wiped out because of a 
matter of mere sentiment and passion. 
Doubtless, the young wife, who had proved a most 
docile and obedient daughter-in-law in every way, 
would see the necessity of dissolving the union. 

Gonji pleaded for time, one, two, three more 
years. Moonlight was very young. They could 
afford to wait. 

His father, at heart as soft toward his son as his 
wife was stern, surrendered, as always. 

"Arrange it with your mother, then. I am going 
to Tokio for a week." 

It was a difficult subject to broach to his mother, 
and Gonji avoided it fearfully; nor did he mention 
the matter to his wife, whose wistful glance he had 
begun to avoid. Indeed, he saw less of his wife 
each day, for his mother was careful to keep the 
girl constantly employed in her service, and in the 
intervals of leisure Moonlight would go to the 
shrines or to the Kiyomidzu springs. Gonji, more- 

70 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

over, was making an effort to conceal somewhat of 
his affection for his wife from his mother in an 
effort to conciliate her; and he even made advances 
toward the older lady, waiting upon her with great 
thoughtfulness and seeming anxious for her constant 
comfort and happiness. But all his efforts met 
with satirical and acid remarks from his mother, 
and not for a moment did she change in her attitude 
to the young wife. 

The subject, avoided as it had been by the young 
husband, was bound to come up at last. It was 
plain that it occupied the mind of Lady Saito at 
this time to the exclusion of all else. She broached 
it herself one morning at breakfast, when, besides 
her son and her daughter-in-law, Ohano was 
present, ostentatiously vieing with the young wife 
in replenishing the older woman's plate and 
cup. 

"Now," said Lady Saito, abruptly, turning over 
her rice bowl to signify her meal was ended, "it 
must be plain to both of you that things cannot 
continue as they are. The fate of all our ancestors 
is menaced. Come, Moonlight, lift up your head. 
Suggest some solution of the problem." 

"I will double my offerings at the shrines," said 
the young creature, with quivering lips; and at the 
contemptuous movement of her mother-in-law, and 
the smile upon Ohano 's face, she added, desperately : 
"I will wear my knees out, if necessary. I will not 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

leave the springs at all, till the gods have heard 
my prayer. " 

Lady Saito tapped her finger irritably against 
the tobacco-bon. Ohano solicitously filled and lit 
the long-stemmed pipe, and refilled and relit it ere 
the mother of Gonji spoke again. 

"Of course, it is very hard. So is everything in 
life hard! We learn that as we grow older; but 
there are the comforting words of the philosophers. 
You should study well the 'Greater Learning for 
Women.' Really, my girl, you will find there is 
even a satisfaction in unselfishness." 

Two red spots, hectic and feverish, stole into the 
waxen cheeks of the young wife. Her fingers writhed 
mechanically. Her eyes were riveted in fascination 
upon the face of the one who had tormented her 
now for so long. Wayward, passionate, savage im- 
pulses swept over her. She felt an intense longing 
to strike out just once! 

Something was touching her hand. Her fingers 
closed spasmodically about Gonji's. A sob rose 
stranglingly in her throat, but she held herself 
stiffly erect. Death, she felt, would be preferable, 
rather than that they should see how she was 
suffering. 

The mother-in-law's voice droned on monoto- 
nously : 

"I have been well advised in the matter. Yes, 
I even called in the counsel of your uncle, Ohano," 

72 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

turning toward Ohano, who was affectionately 
waiting upon her. "When your father returns, my 
children, there shall be a family council. Be assured, 
Moonlight, that, whatever comes, you will be prop- 
erly supported by the Saito family for the rest of 
your days, though I have no doubt at all but that 
you will shortly marry. With a dowry from the 
Saito and a pretty face well, a pretty face often 
accomplishes astonishing things. See the case of 
our own son. It was apparent to every one he was 
bewitched, obsessed ! He would have his way ! Con- 
templated suppuku ! Forgot his duty to his parents, 
his ancestors forgot that in Japan duty is higher 
than love. He made great promises. Well, we 
listened. At the time I bade him ponder the proverb : 
'Beware of a beautiful woman. She is like red 
pepper!' will burn, sting, is death to those who 
touch her, and " 

"Mother!" 

"Is it a new custom to interrupt the head of the 
house?" 

The young man's voice trembled with repressed 
feeling, but there was a certain expression of out- 
raged dignity in his face as he looked at his mother 
fairly. 

"In the absence of the honorable father, the son 
is the legitimate head of the household," he said. 

It was the first time he had spoken thus to 
her. He had restrained himself during this last 

73 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

year, for fear of bringing down his mother's wrath 
upon the defenseless head of Moonlight. 

The hand that pounded the ash from her pipe 
trembled now, and her lips had become a thin, com- 
pressed line. She started to arise, but Ohano sprang 
to her assistance, and she leaned against the girl 
as she flung back, almost snarlingly, the words at 
her son : 

1 'So be it, august authority! We will await the 
return of thy father. He will then decide the fate 
of this" 

"No, mother," he broke in, "I make humble 
apology. Speak your will, but pity us, your chil- 
dren. We desire to be filial, obedient, but it is 
cruel, hard!" 

' ' Hard ! ' ' cried his mother, savagely. " Is it harder 
than for a mother to see her only son enmeshed in 
the web of a vile Spider?" 

Moonlight had sprung up sharply now. Her eyes 
were like wells of fire as, her bosom heaving, she 
started toward the older woman. A grim smile 
distorted the features of the Lady Saito Ichigo. 
As the girl advanced toward her, with that un- 
consciously threatening motion, this old woman of 
patrician ancestry neither moved nor retreated a 
space. In her cold, sneering gaze one read the 
disdain of the woman of caste who sees one whom she 
deems beneath her betray her lowly origin. 

"Moonlight!" She felt herself caught by the 

74 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

shoulders in a grip that almost pained. She caught 
but a glimpse of his face. It was livid. Feeling 
that he, too, was deserting her, she uttered a loud 
cry, and covering her face with her sleeve, she fled 
from the room. 

And all that night she lay weeping and trembling 
in the arms of her husband. In vain he besought 
her not to abandon herself to such wild and terrible 
grief. Moonlight was very, very sure, she told him, 
that all the gods of the heavens and the seas had 
deserted her forever and forever. She dreamed of 
an abyss into which she was pushed and which 
closed inexorably about her, and from which not 
even the loving arms of the Lord Saito Gonji could 
rescue her. 




CHAPTER XII 

HE quiet that comes before a tempest 
reigned for a few days in the household. 
Like a volcano whose pent-up energy is 
the more violent from long repression, 
it burst its bounds upon the return 
of the master. 

Day and night they renewed the argument. 
Now Lord Ichigo was in firm agreement with his 
wife on the subject. There was no other course. 
Moonlight must go. Without descendants, who 
would there be to make the offerings and pray 
for their souls and those of the ancestors? 

And again he was won over to his son's side. 
Well, it would do no harm to wait another year. 
Moonlight was, as they had pointed out, still very 
young and healthy. There was every likelihood 
that she would bear children. 

Lady Saito, however, had set herself stubbornly 
against all truce. She was determined now to be 
rid of the Spider. The wretched geisha-girl, she 
alleged, had been forced into their illustrious family 
through the mere passion of a boy. It was a matter 
of humiliation that a child should have prevailed, in 

76 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

such a contention, over the parents. They should 
have vetoed the thing at the outset. Their love 
for their son should have but strengthened their 
resolve. The main thing now was to be rid of the 
incubus. The law was perfectly clear upon the 
matter. Never a simpler case. Doubtless, it was 
the workings of the gods, who pitied the ancestors. 
Here was a great family threatened with extinction. 
Should a thousand illustrious and heroic ancestors 
then be doomed to the cruelest of fates because 
of a notorious Spider woman? It were better, de- 
creed the stern-minded lady, that the family commit 
honorable suppuku than suffer an extinction so 
contemptible. 

Against such a flood of bitter argument and in- 
vective the young people could turn only their 
tears and their prayers. 

Then it seemed as if the very hand of Fate inter- 
vened to settle the matter finally. The war with 
Russia had begun. The effect of this news upon 
the Saito family was electrical. It silenced the 
storm of cruel innuendo and abuse. It stopped the 
battle of words. All saw at once that the Lord 
Saito Gonji could now take but one course. 

Following the steps of his ancestors, he must of 
course be in the foremost ranks of war. It would be 
his duty, his hope, to give up his life for the Mikado. 
Therefore, before leaving for the seat of war, it 

77 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

would be imperative that he should leave behind 
him in Japan a lineal descendant. 

There was no need, the parents now felt assured, 
to speak another word of urging. Even the young 
wife, of lowly stock as she was, would see the neces- 
sity now of self-sacrifice. 

Dry-eyed, pale, with leaden hearts, the young 
people now faced each other. The family had mer- 
cifully left them alone. 

She sought to entrap his gaze, but persistently, 
gloomily, he averted his face. The delusion which 
had upheld her through all these dizzy, torturing 
months, that the gods had chosen one so humble 
as she to hand down the race of heroes, had dissolved 
now into thin air. Alas, how slender ah, slenderer 
than the imaginary web she had spun as the Spider! 
had been her hold upon the all-highest! 

"Gonji! My Lord Gonji!" She caught at his 
hand, entreating his touch. "Do not turn your 
head. Speak to me. Pardon me that I have been 
unable to serve the ancestors to please you, 
augustness!" 

"You please me in all things," he said, roughly. 
"I dare not look at you now!" 

"It will give me strength if you will but con- 
descend. The sacrifice will be sweet, if it gives 
your lordship pleasure!" 

"Pleasure! Gods!" 

He broke down completely and, like a child, 

78 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

buried his face upon her bosom. But no tears came 
to the relief of the girl. Tremulously, tenderly, she 
smoothed his hair. 

Presently he put her from him and sat back 
looking at her now with hungry, somber eyes. She 
met his glance with a bright bravery. Their hands 
close-locked, they repeated solemnly together the 
promise to marry in all the lives yet to come and to 
travel the final journey to Nirvana together. 

Then: 

"There is satisfaction in performing a noble 
duty," said he, automatically. 

And she : 

"It is a privilege for one so humble to serve the 
exalted ancestors of your excellency in even so 
insignificant a way." 

Silence a moment, during which he tried to 
speak, but could not. Then he burst out wildly: 

"A thousand august ancestors call to me sternly 
from the noble past." He covered his eyes, lest the 
wistful, appealing beauty of her face might cause 
him to falter. "They entreat me not to extinguish 
their honorable spark of life. I am but the honor- 
able custodian of the seed! I cannot prove recreant 
to its charge!" 

A longer silence fell between them now, and when 
he dared again to look at her, he found she smiled, 
a gentle, brooding smile, such as a gentle moth- 
er might have turned upon him. It irradiated 

79 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

and made beautiful beyond words her thin little 
face. 

"I will speak to my father!'* he cried out, wildly. 
"It is not possible for me to put you away from 
me, beloved one!' 1 

He made a savage movement toward her, as though 
again he would enfold her within his arms; but now, 
as he advanced, she retreated, her little speaking hands 
held before her, as though she pushed him from her. 

"It is as it should be! You are the all-highest 
one, and I but a geisha. With this little hand I 
cannot dip up the ocean. I have tried, august one, 
and and its waters have engulfed me!" 

"I go to service of Tenshi-sama ! " he cried, hoarse- 
ly. "We may never meet again in this honorable 
life, but, ah, there are a thousand lives we can 
be sure to share together!" 

1 ' A thousand lives together ! ' ' she repeated, 
her eyes closed, her face as white as one dead. 

Slowly, feeling backward with her hands, she groped 
her way to the shoji. There she paused a moment 
and looked at her husband, a long, deep, enveloping 
look. 

He heard the sliding doors trapped between them, 
and listened vainly for even the softest fall of her 
footsteps. But the geisha moves with the silence 
of a moth, and the one who had gone from him 
forever, as it seemed, had broken her wings against 
his heart. 



CHAPTER XIII 




|O the Lord Saito Gonji went to Tokio 
the following day, and immediately the 
machinery of law, which grinds less 
slowly in Japan than in many other 
countries, was set in motion. All that 
wealth, power, influence could do to hasten matters 
was brought to bear. Presently the wife of Lord 
Gonji was divorced by her husband's parents and 
legally barred from the home of his ancestors. 

No one knew where she had gone. Disregarding 
and refusing all the charitable and gracious offers 
and promises of present or future aid, she dis- 
appeared upon the night of her last interview with 
her husband, going without even the customary cere- 
monious leave-taking. 

Even her going, pointed out the relatives, was 
proof of her unworthiness. The daughter of a 
samourai would have departed with a certain sub- 
missive dignity and grace, and, whatever her lacerated 
feelings, would have proclaimed her pleasure in the 
act of the superior ones. But the geisha-girl fled 
in the night, like one who goes in fear and shame. 
Meanwhile Ohano was duly taken to Tokio. 

Si 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Here in the presence of a host of triumphantly 
joyous and exultant relatives she was married at 
last to the Lord Saito Gonji. 

Here, like a dutiful wife, she remained in the 
capital by her husband's side, awaiting the summons 
which would take him from her and give him eter- 
nally to the Emperor* 

As a little boy Gonji had been, in a way, fond of 
Ohano. She was of that chubby, sulky type that 
a small boy delights to tease. Time had changed 
very little the form and disposition of Ohano; but 
what in a child had appealed to his humorous 
affection, in a woman proved not merely tiresome 
but repellent. Mere unadorned flesh has little 
attraction for one of a naturally poetic and visionary 
temperament. Even the slight affection he had 
felt for Ohano as a child had now entirely disap- 
peared. It was with an element of positive loathing 
that he regarded the girl he had married. When 
his mind reverted to the one he had forsaken on her 
account, he was filled with such overwhelming 
despair that it seemed as if he must injure himself 
but for the mighty events in which he tried vainly 
to plunge his mind. 

No soldier in all the Emperor's service, though ani- 
mated with the most lofty patriotism and excitement 
as the times demanded, seized upon the cause with 
such fanatic zeal as Lord Gonji. Day and night 
he was among his men. When not in some way 

82 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

improving their equipment and physical condition, 
he was arousing and stimulating their ardor and 
patriotism. 

People pointed with pride to the young man's 
heroic ancestry, and prophesied that in his young 
body still glowed that wonderful spark which would 
give to Japan another hero, and assure for all under 
him glorious victory and triumph. 

It seemed as if it were impossible for him to 
leave his men even to return to his temporary 
home for rest and sleep. The prayers and entreaties 
of his mother and of his new wife fell upon deaf ears. 
Vainly they besought him, in the short time he was 
yet to be in Japan, to remain as much as possible 
in their company. They were sacrificing him for 
all time. Surely even exalted Tenshi-sama (the 
Mikado) would not begrudge to them the little, 
precious moments he might yet spend in Japan. 

Gonji looked at the pleading women with blank, 
cold eyes. Then, abruptly, he would return to his 
labors. 

Never since the day they had married him to 
Ohano had he voluntarily addressed a single word 
to his wife. When forced finally at night to return 
to her sole company, he would creep back stealthily 
to the house like some guilty wretch entering upon 
some infamous errand. There, always, he found 
her patiently, dutifully awaiting his coming. 

"My dear lord," she would humbly say, "though 

83 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

it is very late, I pray you feed the honorable insides. 
Permit the honorable interior to wait upon your 
excellency." 

He ignored the tray of viands thus nightly ten- 
dered him as completely as he did her words; but 
when she made officious efforts to assist him to un- 
dress, kneeling in the attitude of a servant or the 
lowliest of wives, to wash his feet, he would quietly 
push her to one side, just as though she were some 
article that stood in his pathway. 

Sometimes he would point silently to his wife's 
couch, thus sternly bidding her retire. When this 
was accomplished, he would lie down beside her, 
and not till the heavy, even, healthy breathing of 
Ohano proclaimed she slept would he close his own 
weary eyelids. 

Beside Ohano 's blooming, satisfied face (for with 
feminine logic Ohano set her husband's curious 
treatment of her down to his absorption in the war 
matter, and thus in the proud knowledge of pos- 
session still found happiness), he conjured up always 
that thin, white, wistful one, whose long dark eyes 
had drawn the very heart out of his breast from 
the moment they had first looked into his own. 

Sometimes in the night he would arise, to tramp 
frenziedly up and down, as he pictured the fate 
that might have befallen the beloved Moonlight. 
What had become of her? Whither had she gone? 
How would she fare, now that, penniless and 

84 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

without even her old employment (for now in 
time of war the geishas were in reduced circum- 
stances), she had been cast adrift? 

He cursed his own folly in not having foreseen 
the way in which she would go; for not having 
provided for her, forced her to acccept at least 
monetary assistance of some kind from his family. 

His agents had assured him she had not returned 
to Matsuda; neither had a trace been found of her 
in any of the geisha-houses of Tokio or Kioto. 
Whither, then, had she gone? A sick fear seized 
upon him that she had started upon the Long 
Journey alone, without waiting for him, who had 
promised to tread it with her. He knew that he 
would never know a moment 's peace till the time 
when, face to face, they should meet each other 
upon the Long Road which has no ending. 

Thus the wretched nights passed, giving the un- 
happy man little or no rest; and that he might not 
encounter the ingratiating smiles and questions of 
Ohano, he would depart hurriedly ere she awoke, 
and plunge into the war preparations with renewed 
fervor and desperation. 

7 




CHAPTER XIV 

HE days stretched into weeks; the 
weeks into months. It is not possible 
to account for the various delays that 
arise in time of war. 

Four months had passed since his 
marriage to Ohano, when at last the welcome sum- 
mons came. His honorable regiment was to go to 
the front! 

Gonji felt like one released from a cruel bondage. 
His very heart leaped within him like a mad thing. 
Even to Ohano he spoke, and although his words 
had a deep ulterior meaning, she was gratified and 
elated. They stood as a proof at least to her of 
her elevation. He had noticed her! Undoubtedly 
she had leaped forward a thousand paces in the 
estimation of her lord. He recognized her impor- 
tance now at the crucial moment. 

Naturally vain and proud, Ohano's mind had been 
entirely concerned with the attention she was at- 
tracting from all as the wife of the Lord Saito 
Gonji. People pointed her out as she rode abroad 
in the lacquered carriages of the Saito family, and 
everywhere was recounted the illustrious history 

86 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

of his ancestors and of her own important mission, 
now when the last of the exalted race was sacrificing 
his life for Japan. 

And now her lord himself had condescended to 
notice her, and for the first time his somewhat wild 
eyes had looked at Ohano with an element of gentle- 
ness and kindness. His words were curious, and 
long after he was gone to the city Ohano turned 
them over in her mind and pondered their meaning; 
and when, that night, he returned to her for the last 
time, she begged him to repeat them, saying that 
the presence of the parents-in-law had confused her 
hearing. She wished rightly and clearly to under- 
stand his words, so that when he was quite gone 
from her she might the better carry out his wishes. 

With solemn dignity he repeated the instructions : 

"Take care of your honorable health and of that 
of my descendant. Choose wisely a companion 
upon the Long Journey, for it is lonely to travel. 
The world is peopled with many souls, but only 
two may travel the final path together." 

Again she pondered the words, and she shivered 
under her husband's melancholy glance. What did 
the strange words imply? Consideration for her 
future merely? Surely he must know that, as the 
wife of one so illustrious as he must become, she 
would never marry another in his place. (Every 
Japanese woman resigns her husband to war 
service with the proud and pious belief and hope 

87 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

that he will not return, but will gloriously sacrifice 
life for the cause.) 

Finally she said, as she watched his face stealthily : 

"It will be unnecessary for the humble one to 
choose another companion. Glorious will be the 
privilege of awaiting the time when she will join 
your honor on the journey." 

He gave her a deep look, which seemed to pierce 
and search to the very depths of her heart. 

"Ohano," he said, "thou knowest I did not marry 
thee save for the time of this life." 

She sat up stiffly, mechanically, moistening her 
dry lips. All the petty vanity with which she had 
upheld herself since the day when she had married 
Saito Gonji now seemed to drop from her in shreds. 
Her many days of supreme devotion, and even ado- 
ration, for the Lord Gonji and they stretched back 
as far as her childhood days came up to torture 
her. Looking into her husband's face, Ohano knew, 
without questioning, who it was who would make 
the final precious journey with him. She was to 
be wife only for the short span of his lifetime. 
That other one, the Spider whose image in effigy 
she had pricked so mercilessly with a thousand 
spiteful pins in order to destroy her soul, as she 
fain would have done her body she was to be the 
wife of Saito Gonji for all time! She who had 
stolen him from Ohano upon her very wedding- 
night! 

88 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Her face became convulsed. The eyes seemed to 
have disappeared from her face. Presently, breath- 
ing heavily, her hands clutching her breast to re- 
press the emotion which would show despite her 
best efforts: 

"I pray you permit your humble wife to attend 
your lordship upon the journey, " she said. "Who 
else is competent to travel at your side, my lord?" 

He did not answer her. He was looking out of 
an open shoji, and his face in the moonlight seemed 
as if carved in marble, so set, so rigid, immovable 
as that of one dead. 

Ohano rose desperately to her feet. She felt 
unspeakably weak from the excess of her inner 
passion. At that moment gladly would she have 
exchanged places with the homeless and outcast 
wife of Saito Gonji, who in the end was to come to 
that eternal bliss so rigorously denied to Ohano. 

She caught at her husband's hand. He drew it 
up into his sleeve. There had never been any caresses 
between them. Always he seemed rather to shrink 
from contact with her. 

"Lord, let us call a family council, "she cried, shrilly. 
"Let them decide where is my proper place, Lord 
Saito Gonji. It is not for the time of one life only 
that we marry. I have plighted my troth to you 
for all time!" 

Slowly he turned; and the deep, penetrating look 
scorched Ohano again. 

89 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

1 'And I," he said, "have plighted my troth with 
another." 

"Lord, it was dissolved," she cried, breathlessly, 
"by the honorable laws of our land. The Spider is 
now an outcast. Ah ! " her voice rose shrilly on the 
verge of hysteria "it is said it is known proved 
by those who know that now now she is an in- 
mate of the Yoshiwara. She " 

He had gripped her so savagely by the shoulder 
that she cried aloud in pain. At her cry he threw 
her from him almost as if she had been some unclean 
thing. She fell upon her knees, and upon them 
crept toward him, stretching out her hands and 
beating them futilely together. 

"My Lord Gonji! My husband! I am your 
honorable wife before all the eight million gods of 
the heavens and the seas. It is impossible to for- 
sake me. I will not permit it. I will cling to your 
skirts and proclaim my rights ah, yes, to the very 
doors of Hades, if need be!" 

He seemed not even to hear her. With his face 
thrust out like one who dreams, he was recalling 
a vision. It was the face of Moonlight as he had 
seen it last with that exalted, spiritual expression 
of self-sacrifice and adoration upon it. She an in- 
mate of the cursed Yoshiwara! The thought was 
grotesque, so horrible that a short laugh came to 
his lips. 

He strode by the agonized woman on the floor 

90 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

without a further word, and sharply snapped the 
folding doors between them. This was their farewell. 

As he passed down the street, on his way to join 
his regiment, he was halted by the throngs pressing 
on all sides. The whole country seemed to be 
abroad in the streets. The people marched about 
carrying banners, and even the little children 
seemed to have caught the spirit of Yamato Damashii 
(the Soul of Japan), and stammered their little 
banzais in chorus. It was an inspiring sight, and 
he wandered about for some time, with no particular 
purpose, unconscious where he was, in what direction 
his feet carried him, following the throngs as they 
pushed along through the streets. 

Suddenly he came to where the lights were 
brighter; and the sounds of revelry seemed to 
shriek at the very gates. Gonji paused, concen- 
trating his attention for the first time upon the place. 

All at once it dawned upon him that he was 
before the gates of the Yoshiwara! The words of 
Ohano seemed to ring in his ears. As if to shut out 
their loud outcry, he covered his ears and sped like a 
madman down the street. He swore to his very soul 
that it was an accursed lie Ohano had uttered, and yet 

He stopped suddenly and threw a furtive, ag- 
onized glance toward the infernal "city." Then 
his head drooped down upon his breast and he stag- 
gered toward the barracks like one who has been 
wounded mortally. 




CHAPTER XV 

)T us go outside. See, many of the 
citizens stand on the roofs of the cars. 
We can see nothing from here." 

Thus coaxed Ohano. With Gonji's 
parents she was traveling, their train 
running parallel with another crowded with the de- 
parting troops. The trains moved slowly, for all 
the country had come to see the departing ones and 
to acclaim them with loud banzais. 

Lady Saito's hard features were unrecognizable 
because of their swollen and agonized appearance. 
She allowed the younger woman to support her 
and finally draw her outside. The people made way 
respectfully for them. Every one knew their his- 
tory knew, moreover, of the sacrifice they were 
making in giving up the only son, and of how 
generously they had contributed to the war fund. 
Here were the brave, patriotic father and mother! 
Here the young and beautiful wife. 

Ohano's round cheeks were pink with excitement. 
She had forgotten, for the time being at least, her 
last interview with her husband. The excitement 
of the situation, the murmured admiration and re- 

92 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

spect of those about her, upheld her. There was 
almost an element of enjoyment mingled with her 
excitement, as her eyes wandered eagerly over the 
crowds. 

The train bearing the troops moved a bit swifter 
along its course, and the fourth car came opposite 
to that on the platform of which stood the Saito 
family. 

"There he is! There he is!" cried Ohano, ex- 
citedly; and she leaned far out, restrained by the 
solicitous hand of her father-in-law, and, waving 
her silk handkerchief, called to her husband by 
name: 

' ' Gonji ! Gonji ! My Lord Gonji ! " 

"My son!" moaned the aged woman, unable 
longer to restrain her feelings. 

Stoically, and with no sign of the ache with- 
in her, she had parted from her son. Japanese 
women send their men on perilous journeys with 
smiles upon their lips, even while their hearts are 
breaking; but now, as the mother saw the train 
carrying away the only child the gods had given 
her, the tension broke. She clung moaning to her 
husband and her daughter-in-law. 

For the first time, as she saw the thin profile of 
the young man in the window of the car opposite, 
she was seized with an overwhelming sense of 
remorse. What happiness had she ever helped to 
bring into the life of her boy? She had put him 

93 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

from her after the manner of a Spartan woman 
while he was yet in tender years. She had done 
this fiercely, heroically as she believed, fearing that 
otherwise she might not sufficiently do her duty 
to both him and the ancestors. But now now! He 
was going from her forever! She had given him 
to the Emperor! Soon her terrible prayer that he 
might give his young life in service for his Emperor 
and country might indeed be answered. 

She felt very old, very feeble, and utterly for- 
saken and forlorn. Even as she looked through 
tear-blinded eyes at her son there came vividly 
before her memory the pale and tragic face of the 
young and outcast wife he had loved so passion- 
ately. She burst into a loud cry, stretching out her 
arms frantically: 

"Oh, my son! Oh, my son!" 

In the opposite train Gonji raised his head, saw 
his people, but, possibly because of the crowds and 
the intervening glass pane, did not notice their in- 
tense anguish. He smiled, bowed, and made a slight 
motion of salute with his hand. 

His mother was silenced, and remained staring 
at him like one turned to stone. Ohano's face fell, 
and she stood like a pouting child unjustly punished. 
He had not even risen in his seat nor so much as 
opened the window. 

Both trains had now come to a standstill at the 
little suburban station. Crowds of people swarmed 

94 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

over the platform, some even climbing the steps of 
the troop-train and penetrating into the cars them- 
selves. A band began to beat out the monotonous 
droning music of the national hymn. Windows 
were raised, caps lifted, and cheering ensued for a 
time. But still the Lord Gonji remained unmoved, 
not rousing from the moody reverie into which he 
seemed plunged, and casting not even a glance in 
the direction of the party that watched him so 
eagerly from across the way: so oblivious and in- 
different to his surroundings did he seem. 

Suddenly an officer in the seat behind him leaned 
over and spoke to him. His family saw Gonji start 
as if he had been struck. Turning about quickly 
in his seat, he tore at the fastenings of the window. 
Now he leaned far out, his ears strained, his eyes 
searching above the vast crowds without. 

They watched him curiously, following his gaze. 
His lips moved; he seemed about to leap from the 
window, but was held back by the restraining hand 
of his brother-officer, and the train began to move 
rapidly. 

A hush had fallen not alone upon the family of 
the Saito, but on the throngs pressing on all sides. 
As if compelled, their united gaze followed that of 
the seemingly entranced Gonji. 

Upon a little hillock a short space removed from 
the station, one lone figure stood out, silhouetted 
against the clear blue sky. Her kimono was of a 

95 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

vermilion color, embroidered with dragons of gold. 
Gold, too, was her obi, and in the bright sunlight 
her scarlet fan and the poppies in her hair flashed 
like sparks of fire. 

To the crowds in the valley below, surging like 
a swarm of sheep all along the railway- tracks, 
following the troop-trains, their hoarse cheers ming- 
ling with that of the beating drums and the chanting 
of the national hymn, she seemed a symbol of 
triumph, an exquisite omen of victory to come! 

Some one shouted her name aloud: 

"The glorious Spider of the House of Slender 
Pines!" 

"Nay," cried another, "it is the vision of the 
Sun Lady herself!" 

The soldiers, too, saw her, and began to cheer, 
their wild banzais ringing out triumphantly and 
reaching the geisha on the hill. 




CHAPTER XVI 

N a day in the season of greatest heat, 
a few months after the going of Lord 
Saito Gonji to the front, there staggered 
up the tortuous and winding pathway, 
which climbed the mountain - side to 
where the House of Slender Pines rested as on a cliff, a 
curious figure. She was garbed in the conventional 
dress of the geisha, and the burning sun, beating 
down upon the little figure, showed the gold of her 
wide obi and the glittering vermilion of her kimono. 
Something bound to the woman's neck and back 
seemed to crush her almost double beneath its 
weight, and she clung weakly to the stumps of tree 
and bush as she made her way along. 

It seemed almost, to the geishas sitting in the 
cool shade of the pavilion, that she dragged herself 
along on her hands and knees. 

One ceased strumming upon the samisen, and 
a dancer, idly illustrating a few new gestures to 
the admiring apprentices, stopped in the middle of 
a movement. 

Omi suddenly screeched and caught at the sleeve 
of the dancer. No one moved or spoke. They stood 

97 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

dumfounded, staring with unbelieving eyes at the 
Spider, as she crept up the last height and dropped 
in silent exhaustion in their midst. There, with the 
glowing sun beating mercilessly down upon her, 
entangled in her glimmering gown, she lay like a 
great dead butterfly. 

There was a stir among the geishas. Eyes met 
eyes in meaning, shocked glances; but still, from 
custom, they were voiceless. 

Suddenly the little Omi began to run about like 
one bereft of her senses. One moment she knelt 
by her former mistress; the next she sought to 
awaken the chaperon, shaking and pounding that 
enormously stout and somnolent lady. Several 
maids now joined her, and they ran about in panic- 
stricken circles, uncertain what to do. Matsuda 
was absent. The poor, mindless Okusama was 
indoors, playing and talking with her countless dolls, 
quite oblivious of all about her. Should they go to 
her? Would she understand? 

Omi finally darted into the house, and, dragging 
the Okusama from her dolls, drew her out into the 
sunlight. For a moment the demented creature 
stared with a puzzled, troubled look at the form 
upon the ground. Then she began to utter strange 
little inarticulate cries and threw herself upon the 
body of the Spider. 

She seemed suddenly to regain all of her lost 
senses. She felt the geisha's hands, listened to 

98 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

her heart, screamed for water, and tore at the 
object upon the Spider's back, drawing it warmly 
to her own bosom. 

One maiden brought water, another a parasol, 
another a fan, while Omi supported Moonlight's 
head upon her lap. One vied with the other in 
performing some service for the one they all had 
loved. 

Presently the heavy eyes of the Spider opened, 
and, dazedly, she appeared to recognize the faces 
of those about her. A faint smile crept to her 
white lips. But the smile quickly faded, and a 
piteous look of commingled fear and pain stole 
over her wan little face. She put back her hands 
to her neck and started up, moaning. Loving arms 
were about her. They reassured her that all about 
her were friends, and showed her her baby, where, 
safe and sweet, it rested in the bosom of the Okusama. 
Then for a long time she lay with her eyes closed, a 
look of peace, such as comes after a long, exhausting 
race, upon her face. 

Later, when, refreshed and stronger, she rested 
among the geishas in the pavilion, she weakly and 
somewhat incoherently told them the story of her 
wanderings. 

At first she had found employment under another 
name in a tea-house of the city of Tokio; but it 
was not in the capacity of geisha, for she knew 
the agents of her husband sought among all the 

99 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

houses of the two cities for a geisha answering her 
description. Moreover, she had not the heart nor 
the strength to follow her old employment. So she 
had worked in the humble capacity of seamstress 
to a geisha-house in Tokio, near by the very barracks 
where her husband daily went. Every day she had 
seen him, unseen by him. She had even heard his 
inquiries of the master of the house for one an- 
swering her description. But no one had thought 
of the pale and shrinking little sewing woman, who 
so humbly served the geishas, as the famous one 
they sought. 

Then the war had caused business stagnation 
everywhere in Tokio, and the first to suffer were 
the geishas. Patrons now were few, confined mostly 
to members of the departing regiments. 

Moonlight's strength at this time had begun to 
fail her. Her work was unsatisfactory. She was 
dismissed. Now, at this time, when it was too late 
to please the Lord Saito Gonji and all his august 
ancestors, she had made the astonishing discoveiy, 
which she had not known when with him : that she 
was to become a mother ! 

Unable, even had she so desired, to return to the 
house of the Saitos, scorning to accept even the 
smallest help from the family which had divorced 
her, turned away from every place where she sought 
employment because of her condition, she had been 
reduced to the direst necessity. Indeed she, the once 

100 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

celebrated Spider, the wife of the noble Lord Saito 
Gonji, had become a miserable mendicant, hovering 
on the outskirts of the temples and the tea-houses, 
seeking, in the garb of her late calling, now worn 
and tattered, as they saw, for pity and charity. 
After long and tortuous wanderings, she had at 
last managed to return to Kioto. She wandered 
out into the hills in search of the House of Slender 
Pines. 

In a secluded and quiet little corner of a seemingly 
deserted and unexplored hill she had found at last 
a refuge in a diminutive temple, where a lonely 
priestess expiated the sins of her youth by a life 
of absolute solitude and piety. Here Moonlight's 
child was born. Here she might still have been, 
but the aged nun had finished her last penance 
and had gone to join the ones the gods loved in 
Nirvana. The geisha had set out again, in search 
of her former home, and now she bore her baby 
on her back. Without funds to pay for a jinrikisha, 
she had traveled entirely on foot. The journey 
had been long, the sun never so hot, but, ah! the 
gods had guided her feet unerringly, and here at 
last she was in their midst ! 

She looked at the Okusama, whispering to the 
little head against her lips; at Omi, holding her 
hands in a strangling grasp and making violent 
contortions of her face in an effort to keep back 
the tears; at the geishas and maidens, with their 
8 101 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

pretty faces running over with tears. Then she 
sighed and smiled. 

The Okusama seemed to remember something 
of a sudden. She started upon her knees, clapping 
her hands violently. 

"Hurry, maidens!" she cried, shrilly. "The 
most honorable Spider requires new apparel! Wait 
upon her quickly and excellently!" 

Omi whirled around in a dizzy circle, and she 
danced every step of the way to the house. Inside 
they heard her singing, and a moment later berating 
and scolding the maid who was to wait upon her 
mistress. 




CHAPTER XVII 

IETURNING from a fruitless canvass 
for patrons for his house, Matsuda was 
in an evil mood. The times were bitter. 
Upon every tongue was heard but the 
one topic the war! The gayest and 
most spendthrift of youths turned a deaf ear to the 
geisha-keeper's descriptions of the exceptional beauty 
and talents of his maidens. The clash of drum and 
arms had a more alluring call to the men of Japan 
than the most charming song ever sung by geisha; 
and the glittering sun-flag, tossing aloft from every 
roof and tower, was more enchanting to their sight 
than the brightest pair of eyes or reddest lips of 
which the master of the geishas told. 

Not a patron in all the city of Kioto for the 
once famous House of Slender Pines! Super- 
stitiously its master feared his place was doomed. 
At the solicitation of his wife, he had kept the 
girls despite the hard times; now he felt he could 
no longer humor even the Okusama. Matsuda 
knew the fate likely to befall the geishas, were they 
to be turned out of employment at this time. Unable 
to obtain positions through the customary channels 

103 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

of the geisha-houses, they had but one last re- 
source the Yoshiwara! Even in war- times the 
"hell city," as it was aptly named, thrived. Against 
this fate the Okusama had so far shielded the 
geishas of the House of Slender Pines, and even 
now, as he thought of her, Matsuda debated how 
he should explain the going of even the humblest 
apprentice. 

As his jinrikisha wound in and out up the twisting 
pathway, he noted through the shadowing trees 
that the tea-house was brilliantly lighted, an expense 
lately considerably cut down by his express orders. 
The frown upon his brow grew darker, and his 
little cruel eyes were like those of a wild boar. 

As he turned into the gates he saw that even 
the pathway was strung with lighted lanterns, and 
from the house itself came the resounding beat of 
the triumphant little koto, mingled with the softly 
humming voices of the geishas. 

The illuminated tea-house, the music, the air of 
festivity and affluence puzzled him. It was against 
his orders, but, perchance, in his absence, some 
lofty ones had condescended to patronize his place! 

As he stepped from his carriage, the laughing 
little Omi came running down to the gate to meet 
him, a bowl of water splashing in her hands. So 
eager she seemed to welcome the master, she barely 
waited for him to kick aside his clogs ere she dashed 
the refreshing water upon his heated feet. 

104 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

The geishas prostrated themselves as he passed 
among them. Wherever he looked he saw the lights 
and the evidences of a recent feast; but nowhere 
did the master of the geishas see a single guest. 

His face had become pastily white, and his little 
eyes glittered as they turned from side to side. So 
far he spoke no word to the offending geishas. 
Looking upward, he noted the illuminated second 
story, while the lighted takahiras were visible 
against the massed flowers of the balconies and the 
tingling wind-bells. But still, nowhere a guest! 
Mystified, his rage deepening, he turned suddenly 
with a roar toward the geishas. 

So this was the way his servants disported them- 
selves in his absence! Feasting and celebrating! 
So be it. They were shortly to learn that their 
master carried with him a punishment even more 
dreadful than the whip. "The Yoshiwara!" he 
shouted, raising his clenched fists above his head. 
That was the fate reserved for the faithless cattle 
he had trusted. 

No one stirred. No one spoke. The geishas, 
still prostrated, kept their humble heads on the 
ground. Yet something in their unshrinking atti- 
tude made him see that for some reason they did 
not realize his words. Like an animal in pain, he 
bounced into their midst, his arm upraised to 
strike, his foot to kick. 

Some one caught at his sleeve and held to it in- 
105 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

sistently. He turned and encountered the white, 
wild face of his wife. Her lips moved voicelessly, 
but she clung with tenacity to his sleeve. 

For the first time he struck the Okusama a 
cruel, savage blow that sent her staggering back 
from him. She sprang back to his side, dumbly 
caught again at his sleeve with one hand, and 
pointed steadily upward with the other. 

Matsuda looked and began to shake. There on 
the widest balcony of the House of Slender Pines, 
swaying and tossing like a moth in the wind, the 
Spider spun her web. 

He wiped his eyes as if to make sure he did not 
see a vision; but still the alluring, smiling face of the 
one who had brought him fortune glanced at him 
in the torchlight. 

"The Spider!" he cried hoarsely. "She is back!' 1 



CHAPTER XVIII 




|F course, figured Matsuda to himself, 
even the addition of one so famous as 
the Spider could not at once bring for- 
tune to the House of Slender Pines at 
war-time. Then, too, there was the 
honorable child to sustain. 

Not for a moment, Matsuda told himself, did he 
begrudge or regret the celebrations in the Spider's 
honor rightly insisted upon by his wife. Undoubt- 
edly she was an honorable guest. Still, a poor man, 
the keeper of a half-score of geishas, must make 
proper provision for their future sustenance and 
his own old age. If the Spider were, in fact, to prove 
her old title of fortune-bringer to the geisha-house, 
it was necessary that she begin at once. 

So, while the Okusama and the geishas showered 
the Spider with favors and waited upon her slightest 
wish, while the honorable descendant of the illus- 
trious Saito blood joyously passed from hand to 
hand, while the Okusama cast aside her dolls and 
hovered like a brooding mother over Moonlight 
and her baby, Matsuda held his head within his 
own chamber and cunningly planned a scheme 

107 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

whereby the Spider's presence in his house might 
be turned to immediate profit. 

By his contract with the Saito family, the Spider 
was released from bondage. Hence she was not 
entirely bound to serve him. She had already ex- 
cited his exasperation by her persistent refusal 
to dance for prospective customers the dance by 
which she had won fame. She desired to assume 
another pseudonym, and for a month at least asked 
that she might rest and thus regain her strength. 

A month! inwardly had snorted Matsuda. Why, 
even the last batch of troops would be at the front 
by then. Japan would be emptied completely of 
her men. Now was the time, if ever, to draw 
patrons to the house, since the departing soldiers 
celebrated their going at the most popular geisha- 
houses. Only the fact that the House of Slender 
Pines was some distance away among the hills kept 
the soldiers from patronizing it in preference to 
those in the city of Kioto. But, could Matsuda 
venture down below, proclaiming the fact of the 
return of the Spider, ah, then indeed he might 
be assured of customers for a time at least! 

No amount of pleading or reasoning, however, 
moved the Spider. With the pitying, solicitous, 
fond arms of the Okusama about her, she languidly 
proclaimed herself still ill, as indeed she looked and 
was. 

So Matsuda chewed on his nails and thought and 
1 08 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

thought. He thought of the agents of the young 
Lord Saito Gonji, who had come to see him at the 
time Gonji 's regiment was stationed in Tokio. He 
thought of the exorbitant reward temptingly ten- 
dered him for any information of the Spider. How 
he had cursed his inability to find the girl at that 
time. But the young Lord Gonji was gone gone 
forever, undoubtedly. Who was there in all this 
haughty family, which had disdainfully and con- 
temptuously cast out from its doors the miserable 
geisha, who could now possibly be interested in 
her lot? Nevertheless, the master of the geisha- 
house pondered the matter, and as he did so there 
came up suddenly before his mind's eye the round 
rosy face of the rightful heir of all the Saito an- 
cestors. His heart began to thump within him 
with a strange excitement. Suddenly he set out 
upon a journey. 




CHAPTER XIX 

HE ancestral home of the Saitos was 
situated in the most aristocratic of the 
suburbs of Kioto. Walled in on all 
sides by the evergreen hills and moun- 
tains and sharing in eminence and 
beauty the most famous of the temples, the shiro 
should have proved an ideal retreat for the saddened 
female relatives of the Lord Saito Gonji. 

Here, with their household reduced to a single 
man and maid, and themselves performing menial 
tasks the more to chasten their spirits, as had 
become the custom during this period among the 
nobility, the mother and the wife of Saito Gonji 
lived silently together. For even the father of 
Gonji had heard the stern voice of Hachiman, the 
god of war, and had taken up arms dutifully in his 
Emperor's defense. 

No longer was the harsh, sarcastic tongue of the 
Lady Saito Ichigo heard in insistent berating of 
maid and daughter-in-law; nor did the loud, mirth- 
less laughter of Ohano ring out. Mute, their white 
faces marked with the shadow of a fear that fairly 

no 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

ate at their hearts' core, the two Saito women 
plodded along daily together. 

For a time, after the going of Gonji, the older 
woman had waited upon the younger; but as the 
days and weeks passed her solicitude for the health 
of the young wife slowly diminished, and in its 
place came a scorching anxiety to torture the now 
aging woman. 

Not in the sneering tone she had turned upon 
the hapless Moonlight, but with the deepest earnest- 
ness, she now besought her daughter-in-law daily 
to lavish costly offerings at the shrines, and even 
to drink of the Kiyomidzu springs! As became a 
dutiful daughter, the once smiling, taunting Oha- 
no joined that same melancholy group where once 
the unhappy Moonlight had been a familiar fig- 
ure. 

Thus the tragic months passed away. Few if any 
words now passed between the Saito women. A 
wall seemed to have arisen between them. Where 
previously the older woman had felt for Ohano an 
affection almost equivalent to that of a mother, she 
now turned wearily from the girl's timid effort to 
appease her. Unlike, however, her treatment of the 
Spider, she at least spared the young wife the 
harsh, nagging, condemnatory words of reproach 
and recrimination. 

Every morning the selfsame question was asked 
and answered: 

in 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"You were at Kiyomidzu yesterday, my daugh- 
ter?" 

"H6, honorable mother." 

"And?" 

"The gods are obdurate, alas!" 

Lady Saito would mechanically knock out the 
ash from her pipe and refill it with her trembling 
fingers. Then, shaking her head, she would mutter : 

"From the decree of heaven there is no escape!" 



CHAPTER XX 




VEN a calamity, left alone, may turn 
into a fortune," quoted Lady Saito 
Ichigo, devoutly, as with her hand 
trembling with excitement she filled 
her pipe. 

Ohano listlessly extended the taper to her mother- 
in-law, and the latter took several puffs and inhaled 
with intense satisfaction. 

There was something peculiarly still and strange 
about the attitude of Ohano. Her eyes seemed 
almost closed, her lips were a single colorless line, 
and there was not a vestige of color in her face. 
Almost she seemed like some automaton that was 
unable to move save when touched. One of Ohano's 
arms was shorter than the other, and this had 
always been a sensitive matter to her, so that gen- 
erally she had carried it hidden in her sleeve. Now 
she nursed it mechanically, almost as if it pained, 
and twice she extended the lame arm for the taper. 
Whatever there was about the girl's expression or 
attitude, it aroused the irritation of the older woman, 
and she said sharply: 

"3 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"You perceive the wisdom of the proverb, my 
girl, do you not?" 

Ohano said slowly, as though the words came 
from her with an effort: 

"It is not apropos to our case at all. I do not 
at all see either the calamity or the fortune, for that 
matter." 

Her mother-in-law took her pipe from her mouth 
and stared at her amazedly a moment. Then she 
enumerated events upon her fingers. 

"Calamity," she said, "when my son met the 
Spider woman. Almost it seemed as if the gods 
had forsaken their favorites. What a fate for the 
illustrious ancestors the last of the race married 
to a geisha!" 

Ohano shrugged her shoulders, then averted her 
face. She had bitten her lips so that now they 
seemed to be blistered, and pushed out, thick and 
swollen. 

"Well," resumed her mother, triumphantly, "you 
perceive the workings of the gods undoubtedly in 
what followed. The war came like a veritable 
miracle. Think; had it come but a few one or 
two months later even, the Spider would still 
have been in our house, and, what is more, Ohano, 
elevated! Oh, there would have been no enduring 
the dancer. It is said" and she lowered her voice 
confidently "that the arrogance and pride of women 
of her class is an intolerable thing when once aroused. 

114 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

An excellent actress was this Spider. Let .us admit 
it. She was prepared to wait! She entreated pa- 
tience for only a few months longer. But, as I have 
said, the gods intervened. The war arose! It was 
found imperative to return her at once! Hoom! 
That is right. You may well smile, my girl, since 
your turn had come!" 

Ohano's mask-like countenance had broken into a 
rigid smile of reminiscence. She recalled the days 
of her supreme triumph the casting out of the one 
she hated, her own elevation as the wife of the 
Lord Saito Gonji. A faint color stole into her cheeks. 

"I'll confess," continued the mother-in-law, humor- 
ously, "that you proved a less docile and filial 
daughter." She chuckled reminiscently. "It is 
impossible to forget the humility of the Spider!" 
She looked at Ohano fondly. "I will tell you, my 
girl, I always desired you for my daughter. Your 
mother and I were cousins, and do you know I 
will tell you, now that my lord is honorably absent 
that it was originally planned that your father and 
I should marry." She scowled and blinked her 
eyes, sighing heavily. ' ' Well, schemes fall through ! ' ' 

For a time she was silent, drowsily pulling at her 
pipe, which Ohano mechanically filled and refilled. 

Presently Lady Saito laid her pipe down on the 
hibachi and resumed as if she had not stopped. 

"So much for the calamity the intervention of 
the gods that followed. Now look you, my girl. 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

All the expensive offerings heaped at the shrines 
have been in vain. It is my opinion that if you 
supplicated the gods till doomsday and drank of 
the last drop of the Kiyomidzu waters, you would 
not now become a mother! Superstitions are for 
the ignorant. These are enlightened days, when 
we fight and beat and beat, Ohano! the Western 
nations! So, now, we supplicate the gods for a so- 
lution of the tragic problem facing us the ex- 
tinction of the illustrious race of Saito. It is im- 
possible for such a race to die!" 

Ohano moved uneasily. She had picked up her 
embroidery frame, and was attempting to work, 
but her lips were moving and her hands trembled. 
Partly to hide her expression from her mother-in- 
law, she bent her head far over the frame. Lady 
Saito began to laugh quite loudly. 

"Never no, not within the entire span of a 
lifetime have I even heard of such favor of the 
gods! Just think, Ohano, without the pains and 
labors of a mother, they put into your honorable 
arms a most noble descendant of the august ances- 
tors. Why, you should extend your arms in perpet- 
ual thanks to all the gods. Was ever such mercy ?" 

Said Ohano, with her face still hidden by the frame : 

"It is said, as you know, that it is easier to beget 
children than to care for them!" 

Silence a moment. Then she added with sudden 
passionate vehemence: 

116 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"I loathe the task you set me, mother-in-law. 
It is not possible for me to carry out your wishes." 

The expression on the older woman's face should 
have warned her. The thin lips drew back in a 
line as cruel as when previously she had looked at 
the hapless Moonlight. Her voice was, if possible, 
harsher. 

"It is better to nourish a dog than an unfaithful 
child!" she cried, got to her feet, and, drawing her 
skirts about her, moved away in stately dudgeon. 

Ohano leaped up also, anxious to repair the injury 
she had done. 

"Mother!" she cried out, chokingly, "put yourself 
in my place. Would it be possible for you to cherish 
in your bosom the child of one you abhorred?" 

Slowly the outraged and angry look faded from 
Lady Saito's face. It seemed pinched and haggard. 
Her voice was curiously gentle: 

"That is possible. Ohano. I have given you an 
instance in my own honorable house, for as deeply 
as I hated your mother, so I have loved you!" 

Ohano's breath came in gasps. She was losing 
control of the icy nerve that had hitherto upheld 
her. She longed to fling herself upon the breast of 
her mother-in-law, who, despite her austere bearing 
to all, had always been kind to Ohano. Even as 
the two looked into each other's face the cry of 
the one they were expecting to arrive was heard 
outside the screens. Matsuda had kept his word! 
9 117 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Ohano turned white with despair. She clutched 
at her throat as though she were choking and clung 
for a moment to the screens, her anguished face 
turned back toward her mother-in-law. 

"It is a crime!" she gasped. "The Spider will 
come for her child!" 

"Let her come," darkly rejoined Lady Saito. 
"Who will take the word of a public geisha against 
that of the honorable ladies of the house of Saito?" 

"The man he himself will betray it is not 
possible to close the tongue of one of the choum 
class." 

"He is well paid. Moreover, in committing the 
act he places himself under the ban of the law. 
Will he betray himself?" 

Lady Saito moved with a curious sense of hunger 
toward the doors, ouside which, she knew, was the 
son of her son. For the moment at least she had 
forgotten Ohano; but when she found the girl 
barred her passage she thrust her ruthlessly aside. 
Ohano fell upon her knees by the shoji, and, with 
her face hidden upon the floor, she began to pray 
to the gods. 




CHAPTER XXI 

IEANWHILE in the House of Slender 
Pines there was pandemonium. The 
frightened, panic-stricken geishas and 
maidens fled wildly about, seeking in 
every nook and corner of the place for 
the lost child, while above their chattering and awe- 
stricken whispers rose the shrill, hysterical laughter 
of the Okusama. 

She it was who had lost the child, so she averred, 
for it was upon her bosom the little one had slept. 
Of all the inmates of the House of Slender Pines, 
the only one whose voice had not yet been heard 
was the geisha Moonlight. She sat in an upper 
chamber, her chin pillowed by her folded hands, 
while her long, dark eyes stared straight out before 
her blankly. She had remained in this motionless 
position from the moment they had told her of the 
loss of her child. Her little apprentice, Omi, fearing 
that her mistress's mind was affected, hung about 
her in tears, alternately offering bodily service and 
seeking to tempt the silent one to eat. But her 
offices were ignored or passively endured. The 
food remained untouched. 

119 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Not even the wild crying of the Okusama stirred 
her, though she could plainly hear the coaxing 
voices of the maidens as they sought to restrain 
her from flinging herself down the mountain-side. 

Later in the day, however, when the Okusama, 
whose wailing, from sheer exhaustion, had turned to 
long gasping sobs, scratched and pulled at the shoji 
of the Spider's room, Moonlight stirred, like one 
coming out of a trance, and drew her hand dazedly 
across her eyes as she listened to the heartrending 
words of the Okusama. 

"Dearest Moonlight! The honorable little one 
has gone upon a journey. He was too beautiful, 
too exalted for a geisha-house; the gods coveted him. 
What shall I do? I pray you speak to me. What 
shall the Okusama do?" 

With the aid of Omi, the geisha slowly arose, 
and, walking blindly toward the screens, opened 
them at last. 

At her sudden appearance the maidens supporting 
and restraining the Okusama drew back, and even 
the wild wife of Matsuda stopped her bitter crying 
for a moment, for a faint smile was on the lips of the 
Spider, and she held out both her hands toward them. 

"Silence is good," she gently admonished. "It 
is necessary to think. Help me all, I pray you!" 

They followed her into the chamber and seated 
themselves in a solemn little circle about her. Pres- 
ently : 

120 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"Last night the honorable Lord Taro slept safe 
upon your bosom, Okusama?" 

The poor wife of the geisha-keeper clasped her 
thin hands passionately upon her breast; but her 
expression was less wild, her words intelligible. 

"Here, my Moonlight ! In my arms, the soft head 
nestling beneath my chin so warm so so so-o ' 

She laid her hands in the place where the little 
head had rested. Her features worked as if she must 
again abandon herself to anguished weeping, but 
the look on Moonlight's face restrained her with 
almost hypnotic power. 

"It was after the going of the master?" she 
queried, speaking very slowly and gently, as if 
thus the better to secure intelligent answers. 

"After the going," repeated the woman. "For 
good-fortune I held him in the andon-light, that 
his honorable face might be the last my lord should 
see as he departed." 
. "He has gone to the city?" 

"To the city. He contemplated arousing the in- 
terest of a departing regiment in your honorable 
presence here, but, alas!" She broke down again, 
crying out piercingly that the evil ones had come 
meanwhile in the absence of the master of the house, 
and who was there left save helpless females to seek 
the august little one? 

Moonlight's chin had fallen into her hands again. 
She seemed to think deeply, but the stricken, numb 

121 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

look was gone. Two red spots crept into her cheeks, 
and her dark eyes gleamed dangerously. 

She was rehearsing in her mind the words and 
actions of Matsuda since his return. She was 
acutely aware of the base character of the geisha- 
keeper, and recalled the many times when she had 
seen him plunged in calculating thought, pacing 
and repacing the gardens, gnawing like a rat at his 
nails, and ever his eye stealing craftily to her. 

Suddenly there came clearly to the geisha what 
had possessed for days the mind of the master. 
Like an illuminating flash from the gods it came 
upon her what Matsuda had done with her 
child. 

There arose now before her agonized vision the 
cruel, scornful face of the fearful mother-in-law, 
and beside it the round, envious, malicious coun- 
tenance of Ohano. Like a meek, mute fool, she had 
permitted them to drive her from her rightful 
yes, her legal home, because she had not then 
known her full power. Now they had stolen from 
her the one link that bound her inexorably to the 
beloved dead: for Japanese women believe their 
soldiers dead until they return. Little they knew 
of the true character of the Spider! She would 
show them that even one of the vagabond, despised 
actor race from which she had come was not to 
be trodden upon with impunity. 

She sprang to her feet, electrified with her new 

122 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

purpose. The geishas scattered, alarmed and fright- 
ened, on either side of her. 

"Okusama!" She caught at the woman's wan- 
dering attention as the latter raised herself from 
her prostrate position on the floor. 

"My Moonlight?" 

"You have jewels cash, perhaps! Speak!" 

The troubled brows of the Okusama drew to- 
gether, and the vague look of wandering came back 
to her eyes. Moonlight dropped on her knees 
opposite the woman, and, placing her hands on 
her shoulders, forced her to look directly in her 
face. 

"Answer me speak, Okusama!" 

As still the poor creature regarded her vaguely, 
the geisha whispered with entreating tenderness: 

"Tell me my mother!" 

Over the wild features of the Okusama a gentle, 
wistful smile crept. 

"What shall I say?" she plaintively whis- 
pered. 

"Name your possessions. He has given you 
jewels, money even. Yes, it is so is it not?" 

The woman nodded. Her lips began to quiver like 
a child about to cry. The geishas and the ap- 
prentices had crowded in a circle about them, and 
now they seemed to hang in suspense upon the words 
of the Okusama. 

"It is so!" she faintly said. 
123 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"Will you not give them to me?" pleaded the 
Spider. Then, as the woman drew back timorously, 
she cried: "Quick, now, while you remember where 
they are!" 

Her eyes were on the Okusama's, hypnotically 
compelling her. Slowly the woman tottered to her 
feet. She staggered across the room, supported on 
either side by the geishas. She came to the east 
wall, felt along it till her fingers found a secret 
panel, pushed it aside, found an inner one, and still 
an inner one, and still an inner one. Then she drew 
out the lacquer safe, and, with a conciliating smile 
trembling over her vacant features, she opened the 
casket and poured the jewels into the lap of the 
Spider. Moonlight looked at them with glitter- 
ing eyes of excitement. Then she spoke to the 
geishas. 

"You all have heard of Oka, the great and just 
judge of feudal days. You know how it was he 
decided the parentage of a child whom two women 
claimed. He bade them each take an arm of the 
girl and pull, and the strongest should prevail to 
keep the child. Alas, the poor mother dared not 
pull too hard lest she hurt her beloved offspring, 
and preferred to resign her child to the impostor. 
Thus the judge knew she was the true mother. 
Maidens, in the city of Kioto there are judges as 
wise as Oka, but much money is needed to obtain 
the services of those who must bring the cases 

124 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

before them. Come, little Omi, we set out now 
upon a long and perilous journey!" 

"The gods go with you!" quavered the geishas, 
wiping their tears upon their sleeves. 

"Ah, may all the gods lead and protect you!" 
sobbed the Okusama. 



CHAPTER XXII 




HEY were bathing the young Lord 
Saito Taro: the Lady Saito Ichigo and 
a rosy-cheeked country girl who had 
recently entered the family's service. 
Indeed, the coming of the child had ma- 
terially altered the regimen of the household. The 
servants that had been cast aside, as a pious sipn 
from the women that they desired to share their 
lord's sacrifices during war-time, were now restored, 
or their places were filled by new maids. 

There was an air of activity throughout the 
entire estate; the maids bustled about swiftly, the 
chore-boy whistled at his toil, and the aged gateman 
looked up from the great Western book into which 
he seemed to bury his nose at all times. 

The little Taro lay upon his grandmother's lap, 
and she rubbed his shining little body with warm 
towels, tendered by the admiring maids. 

There was a curious change in the face of Lady 
Saito. Almost it seemed as if an iron had been 
pressed across her features, smoothing away the 
harsh and bitter lines. The eyes had lost their 
angry luster, and seemed almost mild and peaceful 

126 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

in expression as she raised them for a moment to 
give an order to the nursemaid. She chuckled 
contentedly when the baby grasped at her thumb 
and put it into his diminutive mouth, sucking upon 
it with fervor and relish. 

Every slight movement of its face or body de- 
lighted and moved her to an emotion new and fas- 
cinating. Indeed, she was experiencing in the little 
Taro all the maternal emotions she had sternly 
denied herself with her own son. 

From the moment when she had taken the warm 
tiny body into her arms everything within her 
seemed to have capitulated; this in spite of the fact 
that she did not wish to love, had not intended 
to love, this child of the Spider! 

Now the Spider, and all the bitter animosity and 
shame she had brought into the proud family of 
the Saitos, were forgotten. This was the child of 
her son, the Lord Saito Gonji! Its eyes were the 
eyes of her son its mouth, its chin, even its gentle 
expression; she traced hungrily every seeming like- 
ness, and proclaimed the fact that her son had 
indeed been reborn to her in the little Taro. 

The youngest of the nursemaids was a bright- 
eyed, somewhat forward girl who had obtained em- 
ployment recently by cajoling the honorable cook, 
now factotum of the household. In the eyes of 
Ochika, wife of the cook, the girl was an impudent 
minx, who should have been sent flying from a re- 

127 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

spectable household. Ochika even penetrated from 
her domain of the kitchen, to the presence of the 
Lady Saito Ichigo, in order to whisper into the 
lady's somewhat absent ear a tale of unseemly 
dances and songs indulged in by the nursemaid 
for the delectation of the other servants. 

Omi (the nurse-girl's name) seemed, however, so 
innocent and childish in appearance that the Lady 
Saito was loath to believe her guilty of anything 
more than a naughty desire to tease Ochika, whose 
jealousy of her good-looking husband was so no- 
torious among the servants that it was a never- 
failing source of both merriment and strife. What, 
however, in Omi recommended her chiefly to the 
fond grandmother was the fact that the honorable 
Lord Taro appeared to love her, and was never so 
happy as when upon his nurse's back. 

Now, as Omi danced her hand playfully across his 
round and shining little stomach, Taro roared with 
delight, and tossed up his tiny pink heels in appro- 
bation. So noisy, so continued, so absolutely joyous 
was his crowing laughter that the face of his grand- 
mother melted into a smile. 

The smile, however, wavered uneasily and was 
soon suppressed as Ohano silently entered the room. 
The girl's face was ashen in color, her eyes more 
like mere slits than ever. She stood leaning against 
the shoji, her expression sullen and lowering, her 
attitude similar to that of a spoiled and angry child. 

128 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"Ohayo gozarimazu ! " murmured the mother-in- 
law, politely; and she was angrily aware of the con- 
ciliating tone in her voice, she who was accustomed 
to command. 

" Ohayo!" The girl flung back the morning 
greeting, almost as if it were a challenge. 

"Well," said her mother, sharply. "Be good 
enough to take the place of Omi. It will do your 
heart good to rub the honorable body of your" 
she paused and met the scowling glance of Ohano 
"your lord's child," she finished. 

Omi was tendering the towels; but Ohano ignored 
the pert little maid. She crossed the room delib- 
erately and slowly sank upon her knees opposite 
Lady Saito and the baby. Omi was watching the 
scene with absorbed interest, and she jumped at 
the sharp voice of Lady Saito. 

"To your other duties, maiden!" admonished 
her mistress, conscious of the fact that the girl was 
watching Ohano intently. 

Alone with the child and Ohano, she began in a 
complaining voice: 

"Now it is most uncivilized to permit one's emo- 
tions to show upon the honorable face, which should 
be a mask as regards all inner feelings. I advise 
stern control of all angry impulses. Cultivate 
graciousness of heart, and do not forget each day 
properly to thank the gods for putting into your 
arms the honorable child of your lord." 

129 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Said Ohano in a breathless whisper, while her 
bosom heaved up and down tempestuously: 

"He is the child of the Spider! Take care lest 
he sting thy breast too, mother-in-law!" 

The older woman drew the warm towels about 
the baby, almost as if for protection. 

' ' He is my son's child, ' ' she said, hoarsely. * ' Envy 
and malice are traits we women are warned repeat- 
edly against in the 'Greater Learning for Women.*" 

"He is the Spider's child!" almost chanted Ohano, 
and she put her lame hand to her throat as though 
it pained her. "His eyes are identical with hers!" 

"Nay," said her mother-in-law, gently; "then 
you have not looked into the eyes of the little one. 
I pray you do so, Ohano. It will soften your heart, 
for, see, they are duplicates of the eyes of your lord ! " 

She turned the child's head about so that its 
smiling, friendly glance met Ohano's. 

For a moment the latter stared at him, her lips 
working, her eyes widened. The baby had paused 
in his laughter and was studying the working 
features of his stepmother with infantile gravity. 
Almost unconsciously, as if fascinated, she bent 
lower above him, and as she did so he reached up a 
little hand and grasped at her face. A smile broke 
over his rosy features, displaying the two little 
teeth within and showing every adorable dimple 
encrusted in its fair features. 

The breath came from Ohano in gasps. All of 
130 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

a sudden she threw up her arm blindly, almost a 
motion of defense. Then with a wordless sob she 
put her face upon the floor. She wept stormily, 
as one whose whole forces are bent upon finding an 
outlet. For a time there was no sound in the cham- 
ber save that of the moaning Ohano. 

The child had fallen asleep, and Lady Saito kept 
her eyes fixed upon his round, charming little face. 
She would let Ohano's passion spend itself. These 
daily outbursts since the coming of the child were 
becoming intolerable, she thought. She had been 
too lenient with Ohano. It would be necessary soon 
to teach the girl her exact position in the household. 

As she looked at the beautiful, sleeping child 
the sudden thought of parting with it seized hor- 
ribly upon her. Her face twitched like some hideous 
piece of parchment suddenly animated with life. 
Nothing, she told herself fiercely neither the clam- 
oring voice of the wild mother, nor the sulky jealousy 
of Ohano should cause her now to relinquish her 
hold upon the descendant of the illustrious ancestors. 
Let the Spider do her worst! Let the vindictive 
jealousy of Ohano betray to the world the truth! 
She, the Lady Saito Ichigo, would defy them all. 
The gates of Saito should be sealed and guarded as 
rigorously as if these were feudal days. As for 
Ohano ! She looked at the girl with a new expression. 
Between her and the little one resting upon her 
bosom there could be but one choice. 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

11 My girl," she said to Ohano, finally, "dry your 
face, if you please. It is unseemly for one of gentle 
birth to abandon one's self to passion. Come, come, 
there is a limit to my patience!" 

Ohano sat up sullenly, drying her eyes with the 
ends of her sleeve. The Lady Saito was choosing 
her words carefully, and her stern glance never 
wavered as she bent it upon Ohano 's quivering face. 

"Without my lord's child, Ohano, you are but a 
cipher in the house of the ancestors. It would 
become necessary to serve you as once we served 
an innocent one before you!" 

Ohano's hand clutched at her bosom. She ap- 
peared to be suffocating, and could hardly speak 
the words: 

"You do not mean you dare not mean that 
you would divorce me!" 

"The law is clear in your case, as in that of your 
predecessor," said her mother, coldly. 

"I will speak to my uncle Takedo Isami. I will 
address all of my honorable relatives. I will tell 
them with what you have threatened me, the 
daughter of samourai ! You have compared me with 
a geisha a Spider! It is intolerable not to be 
borne !" 

"Nay," vigorously defended her mother-in-law. 
"You speak not now of a geisha, Ohano, but of 
the mother of the last descendant of the illustri- 
ous ancestors." 

132 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

A silence fell between them, broken only by the 
breathing of Ohano short, gasping, indrawn sobs 
which she seemed no longer able to control. 

Presently, when she was quieter, her mother-in- 
law put a question roughly to the girl. 

"What is it to be, Ohano? Will you accept the 
child of the Lord Saito Gonji, proclaiming it to be 
your own, defying the very world to take it from 
you, or ?" 

Ohano's face was turned away. Her head was 
swimming, and she felt strangely weak. After a 
moment she said in a very faint voice, as if the 
last trace of resistance within her had been vic- 
toriously beaten out by her mother-in-law: 

"I serve the ancestors of the Saito and my 
Lord Saito Gonji!" 

10 



CHAPTER XXIII 




IHANO did not leave her room all of the 
following day. A maid brought word to 
Lady Saito that her daughter-in-law 
wished to meditate and pray alone. 
Permission was somewhat ungraciously 
granted. Her " moods, " as Lady Saito termed them, 
had become a source of irritation. However, the 
proposition to " meditate and pray" was good. 
Ohano, perchance, would profit by her thoughts and 
emerge a reasonable being. 

At noon the soft-hearted little Omi begged to 
be permitted to take tea and refreshments to Ohano. 
She was gone some time, to the aggravation of her 
mistress, for the little Taro was loudly demanding 
his favorite's return. When at last, however, the 
girl returned, she brought such a message to her 
mistress that the latter forgot everything else in 
the glow of satisfaction. Ohano asked for the 
Lord Saito Taro. 

Little Omi hurried out with the child in her arms. 
She paused upon the threshold for a moment and 
threw a curious glance back at her mistress. Lady 
Saito's face was wreathed in smiles, even while 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

the tears dropped like rain down her withered 
cheeks. The girl hid her excited face against the 
child's little body, then, almost running, she sped 
from the room. 

It was very lonely for Lady Saito the rest of that 
day. She did not wish to disturb Ohano, but how 
hungrily her heart longed for the return of her 
baby! How she missed it, even during the short 
period it had been gone. 

In the middle of the afternoon, when she had 
fallen into a drowsy reverie upon her mat, she was 
disturbed by the sudden shoving aside of a screen 
behind her. She turned her head and saw in the 
aperture the agitated face of Kiyo, the gateman. 
He had fallen to his knees, and now crawled on 
them toward her. Something in his abject attitude 
awoke within the breast of his mistress a sicken- 
ing fear of a calamity he had come to report. She 
felt as if paralyzed, unable either to stir or to utter 
a word. 

Undoubtedly the gateman brought bad tidings, 
for his place was not in the house, and it was an 
unheard-of thing for one in his position to force 
his way into the august presence of the mistress. 
She said to herself: 

"He has come to report the death of my dear son 
or of my husband!" 

Vainly she put back her hand for the support of 
Ohano, but the girl was still secluded in her chamber. 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"Speak!" she gasped, at last. "I command you 
not to hesitate!" 

Despite the peremptory words, she was shaking 
like one in an illness. Her knees gave way. She 
sank down upon them in a collapsed heap. She 
looked entreatingly at the retainer, who seemed 
unable or unwilling to answer her. 

"You bring exalted and joyous news from Ten- 
shi-sama!" she cried, brokenly. "I pray you speak 
the words!" 

"Nay, mistress!" His tremulous old voice shook, 
and he could not control the shaking of his aged 
limbs. He had been in the service of the Lady 
Saito since her babyhood. "It is of the youngest 
Lord Saito I speak!" 

"My son! Gonji!" 

"Thy honorable grandson, mistress," he corrected. 

She stared at him, aghast. 

"Baby-san!" She was upon her feet now, with 
the strength and savagery of a mother at bay. "He 
is here in the shiro!" 

The gateman looked at her mutely. 

"He has been stolen by the maiden Omi. It 
is said she was in the service of the first Lady Saito 
Gonji." 

For a moment Lady Saito stared at the man with 
unbelieving eyes. Suddenly she clapped her hands 
loudly, but no smiling-faced, sharp-tongued Omi 
came running fleetly to her service. Only the 

136 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

swollen -eyed wife of the cook crept into the 
room. 

' ' Thou knowest where ' ' She could not continue. 
Her words choked her. 

"Nay, I do not know," burst out Ochika. "She 
was an imp of the lowest Hades. Maledictions 
upon her! May Futen tear her flesh!" 

"Hush!" cried Lady Saito, with a sudden violence; 
and almost aloud she shouted the words: 

"It is the rod of the gods! From the decree of 
Heaven there is no escape!" 

She became conscious that Ohano was beside her. 
She looked at the girl strangely, and as she did so 
something in Ohano 's eyes revealed the truth to her. 
She shrank from her daughter-in-law with a motion 
almost of loathing. 

' ' Why, Ohano ! " she cried. ' ' It was thou who sent 
for it is" 

Ohano turned from her abruptly and moved 
briskly toward the gateman. 

"It was thy duty," she haughtily censured, "to 
pursue and seize the woman." 

"Her feet had wings, august young mistress. 
With the honorable young lord upon her back she 
fairly flew by the gates, as if possessed of infernal 
power." 

"And thou art very old!" said the Lady Saito, 
gently. "Thy ancient limbs are unable to compete 
with the fleet wings of a mother's love!" 



CHAPTER XXIV 




|T the evening meal, which was served 
upon an open balcony because of the 
intense heat, Ohano kept her eyes as- 
siduously upon her food. The mood of 
her mother-in-law had changed. There 
was nothing gentle in her expression now as she 
savagely stabbed at the live fish upon her plate, 
speared it in just the proper place, and then lifted 
a morsel of the still palpitating flesh upon her 
chop-stick. 

"This is excellent fish, Ohano," she said, pleasantly. 
"Come, taste a morsel while the live flavor is still 
upon it. Possibly it will remind you of the brevity 
of life. Now we are here, possessed of tempestuous 
passions and emotions for even a fish, so it is said, 
has the soul of a murderer. Then just think, one 
sharp pick of the knife or sword and, like the 
honorable fish, we are gone! The devils of hatred, 
envy, desire, and malice can no longer torture 
us!" 

Ohano said nothing. She gave one swift glance 
at the fish, then turned away, nauseated. 

Lady Saito grunted and fell to eating her meal 
138 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

as if hungry. Presently, filled and refreshed, she 
began again: 

"Of course it must be very plain to you, Ohano, 
that it will be impossible for the Saitos to regain 
possession of my son's child unless we take into 
our household the mother also." 

Ohano sat up with a start, and as her mother- 
in-law continued, the expression of intense fear on 
her face deepened. 

"I know of no law in Japan and I have been 
advised in the matter by which we can forcibly take 
a child from its mother, in the absence of its father." 

Ohano did not move. She moistened her dry 
lips, and her eyes moved furtively. She watched 
her mother-in-law's face with a mute expression, half 
of terror and half of defiance. In the going of the 
hated child of the Spider, Ohano had not found the 
relief she had expected. Nay, there loomed before 
her now the possibility of a greater menace to her 
peace of mind. She felt the weight of the older 
woman's tyrannical will as never before. She 
stammered : 

" Pardon my dullness. I do not understand your 
words." 

"It is better," counseled the other, sternly, "that 
you not alone understand my words, but that you 
study them well! Think awhile, Ohano!" 

For a time there was silence between them; then 
Lady Saito continued : 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"It is my wish, it is the wish of the ancestors, 
that the honorable descendant of the Saitos be 
housed here in the home of his fathers. If it is 
impossible to have my son's son without the legal 
custodian of his body, then we must face the matter 
gracefully, and solicit her, humbly if need be, to 
come also!" 

"That would be impossible!" gasped Ohano. 

"Nay," protested her mother, coldly, "it is done 
every day in Japan. The honorable Moonlight will 
not be the first divorced wife who has been again 
received in the home of the parents-in-law. You 
forget that until recently there was even a custom 
among many families where the wife failed in her 
duty to supply children to her husband, for an 
honorable concubine to be chosen in her place duly 
to serve her lord." 

Ohano tried to smile, but it was a ghastly effort. 

"That is an ancient custom. It is no longer 
tolerated in Japan. It would be a matter of no- 
torious gossip. We could not, with honor, she and 
I, live under the same roof together." 

"That is true," admitted Lady Saito, calmly, and 
now she met Ohano's eyes firmly. 

"I refuse to be 'returned,' " cried Ohano, shrilly. 
"My honorable relatives will not permit you to 
divorce me for such a cause. It is not possible to 
treat me in the manner accorded a geisha!" 

"That, too is true," quietly assented her mother- 
140 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

in-law. "We, the Saitos, desire to remain on terms 
of friendship with your most honorable family. 
Now, therefore, we look to you, Ohano, for a solution 
of the problem. You are right. These are not the 
times when honorable men maintain concubines 
under the same roofs as their wives. We wish to 
impress the Western people with our morality! 
Ha!" she broke off, to laugh bitterly. "We follow 
the code set by them. Yet what are we to do when 
confronted by such a condition as exists in our 
household now? When a wife is childless, it is 
surely an excellent rule which allows a humble one 
to bear the offspring and put them into the arms of 
the exalted but childless wife. But we can do this 
no longer. Our war with Russia our victories, 
which are proclaimed daily will make these matters 
all the more a sensitive point with the nation. 
We must live according to the code set down by 
the Westerners, as I have said. They have taught 
us to fight! Our people desire to imitate their 
virtues!" She laughed in hoarse derision. Then 
she continued: 

"We bow, then, to this. It cannot be helped. 
Now, as we cannot take the honorable Lord Taro 
by force from his mother, and we cannot permit 
two wives of my son to remain under the one roof, 
we must seek some other solution of our problem. 
Can you not offer some suggestion?" 

"It is possible," said Ohano, "that the Lord 
141 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Saito Gonji may not give up his life for Tenshi- 
sama. Many soldiers return. In that event " 
She stammered piteously. "I am young and very 
healthy. I will bear him children yet!" 

"We cannot count upon so unlikely a contingency, 
my girl. We Japanese women, when we sacrifice our 
men to the Emperor's service, pray that they may 
not return! It is a pious, patriotic prayer, Ohano. 
Be worthy of it, my girl. Duty and honor to the 
ancestors are the watchwords of our language." 

"Duty and honor!" repeated Ohano, slowly. 

A long silence fell between them, during which 
Ohano 's eyes never left the face of her mother-in- 
law. A sick terror assailed her, so that she could 
not move, but sat there rigidly, nursing her lame 
arm. What dreadful project, she asked herself, 
did the stern mother-in-law now meditate, that she 
should look at the unhappy Ohano with such a 
peculiar, commanding expression? 

Finally the older woman said, with quiet force: 

"Ohano, you come of illustrious stock. There 
have been women of your race who have found a 
solution to problems more tragic than yours. I 
pray you reflect upon the text of the samourai, 
which, as you know, was as binding upon the women 
as the men: 'To die with honor, when one can no 
longer live with honor!" 1 

She stood up, and leaned heavily upon her staff. 

"Let me recommend," she added, softly, "that 
142 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

you study and emulate and emulate" she repeated 
the last word with deadly emphasis "the lives of 
your ancestors!" 

Ohano's mouth had dropped wide open. She 
came to her feet mechanically, and mechanically she 
backed from her mother-in-law until she came to 
the farthest screen; and against this she leaned like 
one about to faint. 

Her mother-in-law's voice seemed to reach her 
as from very far away, and also it seemed to Ohano 
that a smile, jeering and cruel, was on the aged 
woman's face, marking it like a livid scar. It was 
as if she cried to Ohano: 

"I challenge you, as the daughter of a samourai, 
to do your duty!" 

Ohano gasped out something, she knew not 
what. 

"Ho!" cried Lady Saito, fiercely, "it does not 
matter to the true daughter of a samourai whether 
the days of suppuku are passed or not. We take 
refuge too much behind the new rules of life. The 
spark of heroes is imperishable. If you are a worthy 
daughter of your ancestors it is still within your 
insignificant body ! " 

Said Ohano, with chattering teeth: 

"I I will go to the go-down (treasure-house), 
honorable mother-in-law, and study the swords of 
my ancestors. I pray you ask the gods to give me 
strength!" 

i43 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

When she was gone, the Lady Saito Ichigo sum- 
moned a maid. To her she said curtly: 

''You will bid the Samourai Asado" it was the 
first time in years she had referred to this old 
retainer as "samourai" "unlock the doors of the 
honorable go-down. The Lady Saito Gonji would 
examine the treasure-chests of her ancestors!" 




CHAPTER XXV 

N the go-down itself, Ohano's courage 
deserted her completely. As the stone 
doors of the go-down were pushed aside, 
and she stepped into the darkened cham- 
ber with its odor almost as of dead 
things, a sense of unconquerable repugnance and 
terror assailed her. 

From every side, gleaming, softly smiling almost, 
in the light of the setting sun, the ancient relics of 
bygone days were heaped. Almost it seemed as if 
these beautiful objects were living things, their bur- 
nished and lacquered bodies afire in the darkened 
chamber. 

Slowly, fearfully, staggering as she walked, Ohano 
made her way between rows of this piled-up treasure, 
the wealth and pride of the house of Saito. 

Now she had come to where the possessions of 
her own honorable family were set. Trembling in 
every limb, hovering and hesitating above it, she 
at length unlocked and opened an ancient chest. 
Fearfully she looked down into its depths, then felt 
below the heavy layers of silk. Presently, with her 
poor, lame hand, Ohano brought up a single sword 

US 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

It was very long. The hilt was of lacquer, a 
shining black. The ferrule, guard, cleats, and rivets 
were inlaid and embossed with rare metals. The 
beautiful blade, as brittle as an icicle, seemed to 
shine in the darkened chamber with its noble 
classic beauty, and it awoke in the breast of the 
agitated Ohano a new sensation one of awe, of 
reverence and pride! 

She held it in the light that came through the 
still open door, and for long she looked at it with 
widened, fascinated eyes. 

It seemed to her that some chanted song of 
proud and noble achievements rang in her ears, as 
if the whispering ghosts of her ancestors were urging 
her on. 

"Courage!" they cried to her. "The gods love 
thee now!" 

She pricked her wrist to test her strength. Then 
she screamed harshly, like one who has lost his senses. 
The sword dropped with a clank upon the stone 
floor. Ohano fled from the go-down like one pos- 
sessed. 

With the blood streaming from her hands and 
marking her progress with its ruddy drops, she sped 
across the gardens and into the house. No one 
stopped her; no one even called to her. All had been 
sent away by orders of the Lady Saito Ichigo. 

Alone again in her chamber, with her breath 
coming in agitated gasps, her wrist burning with an 

146 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

unbearable pain, weak from the loss of blood, she 
swayed by the shoji, her dry lips reiterating the 
common prayer of the devout Buddhist: "Namu, 
amida, Butsu!" (Save us, eternal Buddha!) 

Suddenly she felt something cool placed within 
her hands, and her ringers were pressed gently but 
forcibly about the object. It was the sword she 
had left behind. A superstitious fear assailed her 
that the gods had perceived her weakness and in- 
exorably had placed the sword within her hands, 
demanding of Ohano that she do her duty. 

Within the girl's breast a new emotion arose 
the ambition to prove to all the ancestors that 
within her weak and insignificant body yet glowed 
the spark of heroism; that she was, after all, a true 
daughter of the samourai. 

Her hands acquired a miraculous steadiness and 
strength. She set the sword firmly before her, 
point up. Grasping it with both hands about the 
middle, she dumbly, and with a certain dignity and 
even grace, rested her body upon it. Slowly she sank 
down the full length of the blade. 




CHAPTER XXVI 

IEANWHILE, within the war-torn heart 
of Manchuria, the last words of Ohano 
came up to torment the soldier. His 
days and nights were made horrible by 
the imagined reiteration in his ears of 
the words of Ohano. 

By the light of a hundred camp-fires he saw the 
face of Moonlight, the wife he had discarded at the 
command of the ancestors. He tried to picture it 
as he had first seen her, with that peculiar radiance 
about her beauty. She had appeared to him then 
like to some rare and precious flower, so fragile 
and exquisite it seemed almost profanation to 
touch her. How he had desired her! How he had 
adored her! 

He recalled, with anguish, the first days of their 
marriage a mixture of exquisite joy and pain; 
then the harrowing, heartbreaking months that had 
followed the metamorphosis that had taken place 
in his beautiful wife. How timid, meek, submissive, 
they had made her in those latter days! He paced 
and repaced the ground, suffering torments incom- 
parably worse than those of the wounded soldiers. 

148 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

To think of Moonlight as an inmate of the Yoshi- 
wara, as Ohano had insisted, the last resource of 
the most abandoned of lost souls, was to arouse him 
to an inner frenzy that no amount of action in the 
bloodiest encounters could even temporarily efface. 

He began to count the days which must pass 
before his release. He knew by now that the war 
was soon to end. Already negotiations were under 
way. At first he had bitterly regretted the fact 
that the gods had not mercifully permitted him to 
give up his life; now he realized that perchance 
they had saved it for another purpose the purpose 
of finding his lost wife. He would devote the rest 
of his life, he promised himself, to this undertaking; 
and, ah! when once again they two should meet, 
nothing should part them. 

They would go away to a new land a better land 
even than Japan of which he had heard so much 
from a friend he had made out here in Manchuria. 
There men did not cast off their wives because they 
were childless. There no cruel laws sacrificed an 
innocent wife at the demand of the dead. There 
there were no licensed dens of inquity into which 
the innocent might be sold into a bondage lower 
than hell itself! 

Gonji dreamed unceasingly of this land of promise, 
whither he intended to go when once he had found 
his beloved Moonlight. 

Incognito, finally, the Lord Gonji returned to 
u 149 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Japan. He did not, as became a dutiful and honor- 
able son, proceed straightway to his home, there 
to permit the members of his family to celebrate 
and rejoice over his return. 

At last Lord Gonji felt free of the thrall of the 
ancestors. He was a son of the New Japan, master 
of his own conscience and deeds. The old strict 
code set down for men of his class and race he knew 
was medieval, childish, unworthy of consideration. 
Hitherto his actions had been governed by the 
example of the ancestors and by order of those in 
authority over him. Now he was free free to 
choose his own path; and his path led not to the 
house of his fathers. 

It led, instead, to that "hell city*' which had 
been imprinted so vividly upon his mind that even 
in the heart of Manchuria he had seen its lights and 
heard its brazen music. 

From street to street of the Yoshiwara, and from 
house to house, now went the Lord Saito Gonji, 
scanning with eager, feverish eyes every pitiful little 
inmate thus publicly exhibited in cages. But among 
the hopeless, apathetic faces that smiled at him 
with enforced beguilement was not the one he 
sought. 

He turned to other cities, wherever the famous 
brothels were maintained, leaving for the last his 
home city of Kioto, where once the Spider had 
been the darling of the House of Slender Pines. 

150 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

How his haughty relatives had despised her 
calling; yet how desirable, how infinitely superior 
it was in every way to the one to which they had 
perhaps driven her. 

The geisha was protected under the law, and her 
virtue was in her own hands. She could be as pure 
or as light as she chose. Not even the harshest of 
masters could actually drive her to the degradation 
of the inmates of the Yoshiwara, who were sold 
into bondage often in their babyhood. 

If he could but believe that Moonlight was now 
in the House of Slender Pines! Yet his agents had 
insisted she had not returned to her former home: 
moreover, they had supported the contention of 
Ohano, that undoubtedly it was into some such resort 
that the unhappy outcast had finally been driven. 

Upon a day when the inmates of the Yoshiwara 
of Kioto were upon their annual parade, when the 
city was swept by a paroxysm of patriotic enthu- 
siasm over the return of the victorious troops, 
Saito Gonji, worn and wearied from his vain quest 
through many cities, returned at last to his home city. 

The streets were in holiday dress. From every roof- 
tree and tower the sun-flag tossed its ruddy symbol 
in the air. The people ran through the streets as 
if possessed, now cheering the passing soldiers, now 
waving and shouting to the happy paraders, and all 
following, some taunting, some cheering the long 
line of courtezans of the Yoshiwara. 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

They marched in single file, their long, silken 
robes, heavily embroidered, held up by their maids, 
and accompanied by their diminutive, toddling ap- 
prentices, often little girls as young as six and seven. 

Yet, small as they were, each was a miniature 
reproduction and understudy of her mistress, in 
her elaborate coiffure with its glittering ornaments 
(the geisha wears flowers), her obi tied in front, and 
the thick paste of paint laid lividly from brow to 
chin. Some day it would be their lot to step into 
the place of the ones they emulated, and, in turn, 
slaves would hold their trains and masters would 
exhibit them like animals in public cages. 

Gonji followed the long train of courtezans for 
miles. Sometimes he would run ahead, and, walking 
backward, pass down the long line, scanning every 
face piercingly and letting not one escape his scru- 
tiny. And, as he studied the faces of these "hell 
women," as his countrymen had named them, for 
the first time Gonji forgot his beloved Moonlight. 
The words of the American officer he had met in 
the campaign in Manchuria came up vividly to his 
mind: 

"No nation," the American had said, "can honor- 
ably hold its head erect among civilized nations, no 
matter what its prowess and power, so long as its 
women are held in such bondage; so long as its 
women are bartered and sold, often by their own 
fathers, husbands, and brothers, like cattle." 

152 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

A great and illuminating light broke upon the 
tempest-tossed soul of the Lord Saito Gonji. He 
would erect an imperishable monument to the 
memory of his lost wife. She should be the in- 
spiration for the most knightly act that had ever 
been performed in the history of his nation. 

It should be his task to effect the abolishment of 
the Yoshiwara ! He would devote his life to this one 
great cause, and never would he abandon it until 
he had succeeded. This, and the revision of the 
inhuman and barbarous laws governing divorce, 
should be his life-work. 

He would show the ancestors that there were 
deeds even more worthy and heroic than those of 
the sword. 




CHAPTER XXVII 

F Ohano's relatives were aware of the 
manner of her death, they gave no sign. 
Such of the male members of the family 
and of her husband's as were not 
serving in the war stolidly attended 
the funeral of their kinswoman, and shortly Ohano 
was honorably interred in the mortuary halls of the 
Saito ancestors. 

There had been expressions of sorrow over her 
passing, but these were largely perfunctory. Ohano 
had been an orphan; and, as she had lived all of her 
life in the Saito house, her husband's people had 
really been nearer to her than her own family. 
Her uncle, Takedo Isami, was possibly the only one 
of her relatives who had known the girl with any 
degree of intimacy, and at this time he too had 
entered the war service. 

Many offerings and prayers were put up for Ohano, 
and in the end the relatives quietly dispersed to 
their homes, leaving the silent and prim old Lady 
Saito alone in the now almost deserted mansion. 
She shut herself into the chamber of the dead girl, 
and for several days not even her personal maid was 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

permitted to intrude upon her voluntary retirement. 
Whatever were the thoughts that tormented and 
haunted the mother-in-law of Ohano, she emerged, 
in the end, still resolute and stern, though her hair 
had turned as white as snow. 

From day to day now the aged lady crouched 
over the kotatsu, warming her withered old fingers, 
lighting and relighting her pipe, and always seeming 
to listen, to watch for some one she expected to 
return. 

Couriers and agents had been despatched by her 
orders to the city in search of Moonlight and her 
child. There was nothing left for the Dowager 
Saito to do, save to wait. Not for a moment had she 
considered the possibility that her servants might 
be unable to find the one they sought, or, having 
found her, fail to induce the geisha to return to 
the house of the Saitos. To keep her mind from 
brooding over Ohano, she endeavored to force it to 
remain fixed upon one matter only the recovery 
of her son's child. 

But the days passed away, the chill season of 
hoar frost swept the trees bare of leaf and color, 
and the silently moving servants set the winter 
amado (wooden sliding walls) in place; and still, 
with a stony, frozen look upon her face, the Lady 
Saito waited. 

Gradually the proud and strong spirit within her 
began to weaken under the strain. Supported by 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

a maid on either side, she toiled up the mountain 
slope to visit the temple endowed by her family, 
and to seek advice and comfort there. In broken 
words, her voice stammering and shaking, she whis- 
pered a confession to the chief priest, and entreated 
him to help her with spiritual advice and prayers. 

Though the lives of the priests are devoted largely 
to meditation and the study of the sacred books, 
they are by no means ignorant of what passes about 
them. The chief priest of the Saito temple knew 
every detail of the casting out of the first wife; he 
knew, moreover, what had been the end of Ohano. 
As the family had not, up to the present, however, 
sought his advice in the matter, he had expressed 
no opinion. 

An acolyte had quite recently come to the chief 
priest with a strange story. It concerned a very 
beautiful geisha who seemed in deep distress, who, 
with her maiden clinging to her skirt and a baby 
upon her back, had asked the boy to direct them 
toward a certain small temple where an ancient 
priestess of the Nichi sect had lived. The acolyte 
had been unable to direct the geisha; and, to his 
surprise and distress, the two had climbed higher 
up the mountain slope, with the evident intention 
of penetrating farther into the interior. Both the 
priest and the acolyte had waited anxiously for the 
return of the wanderers, for they knew there were 
no sheltering places in the direction the pair had 

156 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

taken, and the weather had turned very cold. It 
was not the season for an infant to be abroad. 
Now the chief priest called the acolyte before him 
and requested the boy to repeat his story to the 
Lady Saito Ichigo. 

She listened with mixed feelings; and when the 
boy was through he chanced, timidly, to raise his 
eyes to the face of the exalted patroness of the 
temple, and,- as he afterward informed the priest, he 
saw that great tears ran down the stern and fur- 
rowed cheeks of the lady, nor could she speak for 
the sobs that tore her. 




CHAPTER XXVIII 

HE trees had dropped their leaves, and, 
with naked arms extended, seemed to 
speak voicelessly of the winter almost 
come. Only the evergreen pines kept 
their warm coats of green, and under 
their shade the travelers found a temporary refuge 
from the wind and the cold, piercing rain. 

Moonlight had been very sure that they had 
climbed the hill in which was hidden the retreat of 
the nun who had previously harbored her, and where 
she knew she could find a refuge to which not even 
the agents of the Saito might penetrate. But Kioto 
is surrounded by hills on all sides, and the geisha 
had lost her way. 

With the little Omi to run before her and sell to 
the chance passer-by or pilgrim, for a sen or two, the 
jewels of the crazed wife of Matsuda, or to beg rice 
and fish from charitably disposed temples, they had 
subsisted thus far. 

At first she had turned a deaf ear to the entreaties 
of her maiden, that they go to the city below rather 
than to the bleak, deserted, autumn hills. But 
now, as the penetrating rain searched down through 

158 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

even the wide-spreading branches of the pine-trees, 
her heart ached heavily. 

Omi, shivering against her mistress's side, began 
to cry, and recommenced her prayers to return to 
the city below. The troops were returning, and 
even here on the quiet hillside the sound of the 
beating drum, the wild and hoarse singing, and 
cheering of the soldiers and the citizens was heard. 

"Why perish in the cold hills?" asked the little 
apprentice-geisha, "when the warm, happy city 
calls to us? Oh, let us go! Let us go!" 

Feeling the cold hands of her baby, the geisha 
shivered; yet as she looked off hungrily to where 
the little maiden pointed she felt a sense of strong 
reluctance almost akin to terror. It was down 
there they were looking for her, she knew. There 
they would take from her the honorable child of 
her beloved lord. 

"How much colder it is getting," reproached Omi, 
crossly; "and see, graciousness, your kimono is not 
even padded." 

"Undo my obi, Omi. Wrap it about yourself 
and his lordship. It is seven yards long, and will 
protect you both amply." 

"But you, sweet mistress? I will not take your 
obi. Your hands are cold. The august clogs are 
broken even!" 

She knelt to tie the thong firmer, and while still 
kneeling Omi continued her beseeching. 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

"Now, if we start downward, we shall travel much 
quicker. I will bear his lordship on my back. We 
can reach the city in less than a night and a day. 
I know a little garden just on the outskirts of Kioto. 
There we can spend the night. With warm rice 
and sake and " 

"Hush, Omi, it is impossible." 

Omi threw back her head and began to wail 
aloud, just as a child would have done. The burden 
of her cry was that she was cold, very cold, and she 
was very sure that they would all perish in the wet 
and horrible mountains. The geisha tried vainly 
to quiet her. At last she said: 

"Omi, if you love me, be patient for yet another 
day. If to-morrow we do not find the shrine of the 
honorable nun, then then " her voice broke, and 
she turned her face away. Omi caught at her hand 
and clung to her joyously. 

"Oh, you have promised!" Then, as she saw the 
distress of her mistress, she cried out remorsefully 
that she was prepared to follow her wherever she 
desired to go yes, even if it should prove to be 
the highest point of the mountains, said the little 
maid. After a moment, as the geisha made no re- 
sponse, Omi, already regretting her generous out- 
burst, sighed heavily and declared it was very hard. 
She sat back on her heels, upon the damp ground, 
and looked off plaintively toward the city below. 
How she longed for the bright lights of the geisha- 

160 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

house, the chatter and the movement, the dance and 
the song, the warm quilt under which was hidden the 
glowing kotatsu, close to which, Omi knew, the 
geishas would creep at night for comfort. As she 
felt the drizzling rain and wind and saw nothing 
but the dark trees about her, her little head drooped 
upon her breast, and she began to sob drearily again. 

Suddenly the Spider bent above the child and 
patted her softly upon the head. 

"Play a little tune upon your samisen, my Omi, 
and I will sing to you a little song I myself have 
composed to the honorable baby-san." 

Instantly Omi's face cleared. Crouched upon her 
heels, looking up adoringly at her mistress, she 
picked upon her instrument, and while the cold 
rain dripped down upon them the Spider sang: 

Neneko, neneko, ya! 

Sleep, my little one, sleep, 
As the bottomless pit of the ocean, 

So is my love so deep! 

Neneko, neneko, ya! 

Sleep, my little one, sleep! 
As the unexplored vasts of Nirvana, 

So is my love so deep! 

As the softly crooning voice of the dancer stole 
out upon the air a little cortege which had found 
its way up the intricate mountain-path halted there 
in the woods. In silence the runners dropped the 
shafts of the vehicles. Supported by her maids, 

161 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

the Lady Saito alighted, and tottered painfully up 
the hill-slope. She stood very still when she saw 
that little group under the tree, and began to tremble 
in every limb. 

The little Omi saw her first, and with a cry of 
fear threw her arms protectingly about her mistress, 
thrusting her thin little body before her, as if to 
shield the beloved one from harm. Now Moonlight 
saw her, and for a moment she remained unmoving, 
staring at the old figure standing there unprotected 
in the drizzling rain, with arms half extended, 
the withered old face full of an appeal she had not 
yet found the courage to utter. 

As she looked at the once dreaded lady, Moon- 
light was conscious of a sense of great calmness and 
strength. No longer was her being flooded with 
the wild impulses of resentment and hatred toward 
her mother-in-law. She knew not why it was so, 
but her heart felt barren of all feeling save one of 
overwhelming pity. 

Her voice was as calm and gentle as though she 
had always been a lady of high caste, who had never 
known a turbulent emotion. 

"Thou art unprotected from the rain. I pray 
you take my place, honorable Lady Saito!" 

Now she was at the side of the other, leading 
her, waiting upon her. Under the sheltering arms of 
the great pine-trees, so near to each other that 
their shoulders touched, these two, who had once 

162 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

hated each other so deeply, looked at one another 
with white faces. 

Said the Lady Saito Ichigo, with quivering lips: 

"I have made a long journey!" 

Said Moonlight, calmly: 

"You come to seek your son's son?" 

"Nay," said the aged woman, and she put out 
a trembling hand and caught beseechingly at the 
arm of the geisha. "I have come for thee, too, 
my daughter!" 

A silence, unbroken save by the sobs of the 
little Omi, fell now between them. Then said the 
geisha, very gently: 

"Speak your will all-highest one. I I will 
try to to serve the honorable ancestors of the 
Saito, even though it be necessary to make the 
supreme sacrifice." 

Her hands fumbled with the strings that bound 
the child in its bag upon her back. Now she had 
swung it round in front. The child's little face, 
rosy in sleep, rolled back upon her arm. She felt 
the hungry arms of the woman beside her reaching 
out irresistibly toward the child; and, though she 
tried to smile, a sob tore from her lips as she lifted 
her baby and put it solemnly into the arms of its 
grandmother. Then she turned her back quickly, 
and Omi sprang up and received her into her 
arms. 

Suddenly she felt the shaking fingers of the aged 
163 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

woman upon her shoulder. She said, with her 
face still hidden and her voice muffled by sobs: 

"I pray you go, hastily, lest my love prove greater 
than my strength." 

"The journey is long," said Lady Saito. "Let 
us set out at once, my daughter. I go not back 
without thee." 

Slowly Moonlight put the sheltering arms of Omi 
from her and turned and looked wistfully, almost 
hungrily, at her mother-in-law. 

"It is unnecessary," she said, gently. "I pray 
you forgive the dissension I have already caused 
in your honorable family. Say to Ohano, from me, 
that though it is not possible for me to give to her 
the one who has given to me his eternal vows, yet 
gladly I resign to her my little son." 

A curious look was on the face of the mother-in- 
law. For a long moment she stood staring up 
blankly at the geisha. Then she said, in a tone of 
deadly quiet : 

"My daughter Ohano has gone upon a journey!" 

"A journey!" repeated the geisha, lowly. Then, 
as she saw that look upon the other's face: "Ah, 
you mean not surely the Long Journey to the 
Meido? " she cried out, piteously. Lady Saito's head 
dropped upon her breast. Moonlight felt over- 
whelmed, dazed, awed. Ohano gone! Ohano, the 
strong, the triumphant one! 

"I entreat you to come with me now," said 
164 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Lady Saito, simply. "It was the wish of Ohano 
that you that you should take her place." She 
paused, and added quietly: "It was she, my daugh- 
ter, who made a place for you in the house of the 
ancestors." 

They had lifted her into the carriage. Her head 
fell back, and she began to weep slow, painful tears 
that crept down her face and dropped upon the 
hands of her maiden. Said the latter, joyously: 

"See how the gods love you, sweet mistress. 
See how they have avenged you. See how they 
destroy your enemies and " 

"Do not speak so," cried her mistress entreat- 
ingly. "Only the gods themselves are competent to 
judge us. I do not weep for myself, but for Ohano, 
who has been ruthlessly thrust out upon the Long 
Journey. I would that I could take her place; but 
all that I can do to help her is to go to the shrines 
daily and beseech the gods to make easy the travels 
of Ohano." 

12 




CHAPTER XXIX 

T was the season of greatest cold. The 
hills of Kioto were enwrapped in a gar- 
ment of snow, and with the glistening 
sun upon them they looked as beautiful 
as a dream. The pines and hemlocks 
seemed to spread out their dark-green arms, as if 
to support the glorified burden. 

The gateman of the Saito shiro, squatting upon his 
heels, with his face buried in the great, absorbing 
book of the West, chanced to look up over his bone- 
rimmed glasses, and saw a lone traveler coming on 
foot along the path which led to the lodge gates. 
Kiyo hobbled down to the gates just as the visitor 
reached them. In a high, thin voice the ancient 
gateman challenged the traveler. Then, as the 
latter did not respond to his call, but peered up at 
him curiously and suddenly, the old retainer began 
to tremble so violently that his shaking hands could 
hardly unbar the gates. 

As the young man entered, Kiyo dropped upon 
his knees, and bumped his bald head repeatedly 
upon the frozen ground, emitting strange little cries 

166 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

of excitement and joy over the return of the long- 
absent one. 

Deeply touched, Gonji, who had always loved old 
Kiyo, bent over the gateman, patting his head, and 
finally even assisting him to his feet. He inquired 
solicitously after the health of Kiyo and his kindred, 
and then asked how his own family now were. 
Kiyo had answered joyously and willingly all the in- 
quiries of his master touching upon his own kinsfolk, 
but at the questions regarding the family he served 
he became suddenly constrained and wretched. His 
silence apparently but aroused the further curiosity 
and anxiety of Gonji. He persisted, his voice be- 
coming almost peremptory in tone. 

"I condescended to ask you regarding the health 
of my family. You do not answer me, good Kiyo- 
sama! Is there sickness, then, within the shiro?" 

"lya, iya! (No, no!)" hastily protested Kiyo. 
"All is well. It is good health within the shiro, 
praise be to the gods!'* 

Still his questioner noted something strange about 
the manner in which the gateman avoided his 
glance. He studied old Kiyo curiously, as though 
from his own sad reveries, in which he had been 
absorbed to the exclusion of all else, he had been 
reluctantly aroused at the thought of possible 
danger to his people. Gonji had hardened his 
heart, as he thought, against the ones who were re- 
sponsible for his unhappiness nay, who had delib- 

167 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

erately cast forth a pure and beautiful soul. Never- 
theless, he experienced a sense of uneasiness at the 
thought that all had not been well with them. 

"Come," he urged. "Do not hesitate to confide 
in your master, good Kiyo-sama. Tell me the news, 
be it good or bad." 

* ' All is well. All is well, ' ' almost sobbingly chanted 
the gateman. "I pray you enter the shiro. There 
you will see for yourself." 

Gonji turned a bit uneasily toward the house, 
then halted abruptly. 

"I read in your face," he said, "a tale of some 
calamity to my family. Already I know of my 
father's glorious sacrifice for Tenshi-sama" bowing 
as he spoke the Mikado's name "for I was with my 
father at the end. So if it is that but no, there is 
something else troubling you, Kiyo. I know you 
too well not to read your face. Is it my mother?" 

His voice broke slightly, and for the first time in 
years he was conscious of a sense of tenderness 
toward his mother. She had been the main source 
of all his misery; but she loved him. This Gonji 
knew, despite all. 

Again Kiyo hastened to reassure him, this time 
eagerly and proudly. 

"lya, master. Thy mother is in excellent health. 
Happy, moreover, as never before, with the honor- 
able Lord Taro, thy son, embraced within her 
arms!" 

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THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

The young man was staring at him now strangely. 
He seemed unable to speak or move. A look as of 
almost troubled awakening was in the face of Gonji. 
It was as if a thought, long thrust aside, had sud- 
denly recurred to him. During all these agonizing 
months, when he had wandered about from city 
to city, he had been possessed with but one idea 
the rinding of his wife. Now, suddenly, the gate- 
man's words came to him as a very revelation. 
Strange that he had not even thought upon this 
matter since he had left Japan. He was a father! 

"It is possible!" he gasped. "I have a" 

"Son! Gloriously a son, master!'* cried Kiyo, 
grinning joyously. 

The young man continued to stare almost in- 
credulously at the gateman, but in his face was no 
reflection of the joy visible in that of the faithful 
retainer. He was overwhelmed with the sense of a 
new emotion whose very sweetness tore at his 
heart, and brought unbidden tears to his eyes. 

Suddenly, against his will even, there came 
vividly before his mind's eye a vision of Ohano 
as he had seen her last, crawling upon her knees 
toward him and beating her hands futilely together, 
as she besought him piteously to permit her to 
attend him through the dark paths that led to the 
Lotus Land. 

How the gods had comforted the unloved wife, 
was his thought, and with it came a sense of over- 

169 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

whelming grief and bitterness that they had not 
shown a similar charity toward the beloved Moon- 
light. He pictured Ohano, cherished, protected, 
praised, within the honorable house of Saito, with 
the long-desired heir of all the illustrious ancestors 
upon her bosom. Then his mind reverted to the 
wandering outcast, Moonlight, and a lump rose 
stranglingly in his throat. As he made his way 
blindly toward the house, all the pride and joy of 
fatherhood, which had uplifted him as on a flood 
but a moment since, seemed to drop from him no less 
suddenly, leaving him as before, hopeless, uncom- 
forted, and utterly forlorn. 

Within the shiro, the Lady Saito Ichigo sat 
drowsily swaying by the hibachi, ceaselessly smok- 
ing, and muttering incoherent prayers for the soul 
of her lord and for Ohano's. She was very feeble, 
helpless, and childish now. Her body had lost 
much of its vigor, and the sternness which had once 
made her so formidable seemed to have entirely 
left her. 

Moonlight's dark eyes rested upon her with an 
expression of both pity and anxiety. Suddenly she 
pushed the little Taro along the smoothly matted 
floor and whispered coaxing words into the child's 
ear. He crawled along several paces till he came 
behind his grandmother. By grasping her obi at 
the back he was enabled to pull himself to his 
feet. Now his chubby, warm little face nestled up 

170 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

against Lady Saito's neck. The pipe dropped from 
her mouth and fell unheeded upon the hearth. 
She turned hungrily toward the child and drew 
him passionately to her breast. 

Outside the screens Gonji had paused, unable 
either to enter or to retire. He had resolved, at what- 
ever cost, to resume his forlorn wanderings in search 
of the lost one, ere finally he should take up the 
abolition of the Yoshiwara a task which had 
seemed to be assigned to him by the very gods them- 
selves. But before going he felt it to be his duty 
to have a last interview with his mother, and with 
Ohano, the mother of his child! 

Nevertheless he paused outside the screens, 
feeling unable to combat the sense of reluctance 
and repugnance to joining that little family he 
knew was within. How long he remained outside 
the shoji he could not have told. He debated the 
advisability of withdrawing without their knowl- 
edge of his presence. Kiyo would keep the secret. 
So would Ochika, whose loud outcry at his advent 
he had quickly silenced. Gonji felt sure his brief 
visit might bring merely unrest and unhappiness. 
It would be kinder both to Ohano and to his mother 
to go. As his resolve became fixed, he was swept 
with an anguished longing and desire at least to 
see, but once, the face of the son the gods had gra- 
ciously given him. 

With infinite caution, lest the sound might be 
171 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

heard by those within, he began to scratch with 
his nail upon the fusuma, till gradually he had 
made a small aperture, and to this he applied his 
eye. 

He remained motionless at the shoji. He saw, 
within, the toddling child, as it made its swift way 
across the room toward its grandmother; he heard 
the sob of his mother as she took the child into her 
embrace; then he saw the face of Moonlight lifted 
alertly and turned toward where her husband's 
face was pressed against the screen. She alone 
had heard, and, intuitively, had guessed the truth. 
She came slowly to her feet, her lips apart, her wide 
eyes dark and beautiful with emotion and excite- 
ment. 

Suddenly the man outside the screens became ani- 
mated with the strength almost of a madman. He 
tore violently at the sliding wall, crushing it into 
its groove. Now he was upon the threshold of the 
room. 

His mother screamed, hoarsely, wildly. But his 
glance went over her head and by the little wonder- 
ing child, who had crawled toward him. Gonji saw 
nothing in the world save the face of that one 
who had rushed to meet him. 

It was much later that they told him of Ohano. At 
first the girl's sacrifice, for his sake and that of the 
ancestors, brought from him only an exclamation 
of pity; he seemed unable to appreciate the facts 

172 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

of the matter. There was no room for a shadow 
upon his happiness now. They were sitting in the 
sunlight, that came in a golden stream through 
the latticed shoji, piercing its way even through the 
amado. They said little to each other, but upon 
their faces was a radiance as golden as the sunlight. 

Suddenly a tiny shape flickered across the outer 
wall. It seemed but a moving speck at first upon 
the water-colored paper; but so insistently did it 
beat against the wall that the family perceived it 
was an insect of some kind. 

Gonji arose and looked at it curiously, where it 
fluttered against the outside of the paper wall. 

"Why, it is a cicada and at this time of year!" 
he said. 

Lady Saito laid her pipe upon the hibachi and 
hobbled across to her son's side, and Moonlight 
and the little Taro pressed against him on the 
other. They all watched the moving little shape 
outside with absorbed interest and wonder. 

"I dreamed of a cicada last night," said Lady 
Saito, uneasily. "It kept flying at my ears, whis- 
pering that it could not rest. It is a bad sign. 
Open the shoji, my son. We can catch it with the 
sleeve." 

He pushed the screen partly open, and the cicada 
crept along the lacquered latticed wall, beating its 
little wings and sliding up and down. 

Lady Saito slapped at it with the end of her 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

long sleeve, but it fled to the top of the wall. She 
beat at it with a bamboo broom, and presently it 
fluttered down and fell upon the floor. 

They all hung over the curious little creature, 
and as they examined it an oppressive feeling of 
sadness crept upon them. 

"How strange is this little cicada," murmured 
Moonlight, troubled. "See, one of its little wings 
is much smaller than the other." 

"It is a bad sign," repeated the mother, gloomily; 
and she made as if to step upon the little creature, 
when Moonlight grasped at her arm and drew her 
back. 

"Do not kill it! Do not kill it!" she cried, in 
sudden excitement. "Oh, do you not see it is 
Ohano, poor Ohano! She has returned to us in this 
way. There is a message she wishes to bring us." 

Even as she spoke the cicada ceased its fluttering 
and lay very still. A silence fell upon the Saito 
family. They were oppressed with the sense of 
being in the presence of one dead. 

Said the Lord Saito Gonji, in a very gentle 
voice : 

"What can it be my wife wishes? I would gladly 
resign my happiness if I could but make easier the 
lot of Ohano." 

"She was always anxious about her next birth," 
whispered his mother. "Perhaps she desires a 
Buddhist service especially for her spirit!" 

i74 



THE HONORABLE MISS MOONLIGHT 

Moonlight had tenderly lifted the little body 
and put it into a small box. 

"Come," she said, simply. "We must set out at 
once for the temple. The good priest will perform 
the Segati service, and we will bury Ohano's little 
body in the grounds of the temple. There surely 
it will rest in peace!" 



THE END 



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84-53 The honorable Miss Moonlight 

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