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   Chapter 6 YONé

The Way of the Gods By John Luther Long Characters: 6894

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


The war with China got slowly into the air. Troops were mobilizing. The Guards were being fitted with uniforms for a warmer climate. The army was thrilled with that nameless thing which speaks of action to the soldier. Maps and plans of campaign grew over night. Nurses were gathered where they could be most easily requisitioned. Plans for hospital and transportation service were born and matured as certainly now, as if the army had lived in an atmosphere of war instead of peace for many years. But when the actual going came near, Arisuga thought of Yoné. There would be no more of that. And when it was said, a certain sadness came and stayed with him, when the glory dulled a little. For it had been sweet. And it might be only once again. Marching orders were imminent.

So that, though it was even, and Yoné might not go out in the even, he found her one day, when the sadness came, and they stole through the house's rear to that tomb of Esas in Shiba, where they had made a seat of stone and moss. They had never before been alone together in the wood at night, and Yoné was terrified, as a maid ought to be, while Arisuga was brave, as a soldier should be.

Yet, notwithstanding these adverse circumstances, it was there-at the tomb of Esas, on this night of nights to Yoné-that they made together that song of "The Stork-and-the-Moon." And it was on this night, while they sang it (without the samisen, for Yoné was reposing too snugly against one of Arisuga's arms for him to play, though they had the samisen with them), that the watchman came with lantern and staff and cried out that he had heard a song in that place of sacred tombs-a foolish, worldly song-and adjured the sinners to come forth and be punished.

Now both were frightened suddenly, and Yoné crept deeply into the arms of her soldier for protection. And she did not vacate her place of safety when the watchman had passed on; Arisuga prevented her.

For he had not in the least fancied how sweet that might be. And her fancies had fallen short of truth. And yet other things passed there at that tomb of Lord Esas which I shall not stop to tell.

Later, perhaps, in this story, there may be occasion to tell what happened there at the tomb of Lord Esas on the seat of stones and mosses they had made: the promises,-if there were any,-the song, and all the joy of that night upon which little Yoné would have to live until Arisuga came again-for this was indeed all he left to her.

It was a disgraceful hour when they stole forth. And had the watchman seen them then, the gods alone know what the penalty would have been. They passed the walls safely; but there was yet before them the re?ntry to the house of Yoné, which was more terrible. Yet they were strangely happy in their terrors, though Yoné expected, hoped, to be disowned and driven from home, disgraced in the eyes of the world. But also, in that case, Arisuga would marry her. Chivalry would demand it. Of course he had not exactly said so. In order that he might have the opportunity, Yoné protested:-

"I do not regret-not a word, not a thing!"

"No, it is my fault-"

"If they drive me from home, outcast me, I shall sing in the streets!"

"You!"

"Or go to Geisha street."

"You!"

"What, then, will I do, lord?"

"You will marry me-a little sooner than we planned, and live with my mother while I fight."

"Yes," breathed Yoné, quite content with this. It was more t

han she had expected. Indeed, she was so filled with content that it was all she could say.

Nevertheless, though this event had been arranged there behind the tomb, under the influence of the terror of the watchman, yet its consummation was put a long time off, for the parents of each had to be consulted, cunningly, as if it had not at all been arranged. And this marred Yoné's happiness a trifle; for, if marriage was anything like that behind the tomb, it could not come too soon. And, however soon it might come, it would not be soon enough, for soon enough was now, and that was passing.

Besides, she hoped it might happen before his sacrifice; for though she would then be his widow and quite sure of his spirit, that first personal contact by the tomb of old Lord Esas had been sweet.

However, there seemed, happily, no way of escape from an outcasting and the consequences they had fixed upon, and this grew upon them more and more as they went homeward, so that as they were yet quite happy in it they came into the vicinity of Yoné's home. Now, by that time all the details had been arranged: Yoné was to go to Arisuga's mother, where a complete confession would be made. Then, on the morrow, the consent of the parents would be asked, which, whether it were or were not obtained, would be the signal for the wedding preparations. For in the one case Yoné would be the daughter of her parents, whose consent would have been obtained, in the other of his whose consent was sure.

Then they looked up to find themselves almost in the midst of a great fire which their absorption had kept them from noticing. And it was at once but too plain that Yoné's home was in that part of the district already burned clear. Of course there were parents and brothers to think of at once, and in thought of their safety Yoné forgot the opportunity for her outcasting and the hastening of her happiness. When she remembered, it was too late.

She had been pounced upon by her father, and borne in joy to the rendezvous where all the brothers and sisters, as well as the parents of Yoné, were now in prosaic safety and little perturbation. Shijiro Arisuga had, upon the appearance of the father, ignominiously disappeared-which, indeed, was the best thing which could have happened for Yoné, so far as her safety from scandal was concerned, and the worst so far as her wish for an immediate marriage was concerned. There was, now, not the least hope of an outcasting. No one had even seen Shijiro, it appeared, nor knew of their going away or coming back together.

"How did you escape, my pleasant daughter?" cried the happy father, embracing her.

"I do not know," said Yoné, with some truth, looking furtively about for Arisuga.

"And fully dressed?" asked the father again.

With a sigh of disgust, Yoné answered again that she did not know.

"It was an interposition of the gods."

"Yes," sighed Yoné, in her heart, "I suppose it was an interposition of the infernal gods."

For Shijiro was undoubtedly gone, not at once to return.

"The smell of fire has not even passed upon your garments," pursued the delighted parent.

"It is very strange," sighed the daughter.

"The gods love you!" declared her father.

"I suppose so," answered Yoné, indifferently, thinking of quite another escape and another love.

It happened that the next day the Kowshing was sunk and the Guards started for Ping-Yang.

PING-YANG

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