Madame Chrysantheme

Madame Chrysantheme - From Madame Chrysanthme (1888) Pierre...

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From Madame Chrysanthème (1888) Pierre Loti (Julien Viaud, 1850-1923) Chapter IV Choosing A Bride Three days have passed. Night is closing, in an apartment which has been mine since yesterday. Yves and I, on the first floor, move restlessly over the white mats, striding to and fro in the great bare room, of which the thin, dry flooring cracks beneath our footsteps; we are both rather irritated by prolonged expectation. Yves, whose impatience shows itself more freely, from time to time looks out of the window. As for myself, a chill suddenly seizes me, at the idea that I have chosen to inhabit this lonely house, lost in the midst of the suburb of a totally strange town, perched high on the mountain and almost opening upon the woods. What wild notion could have taken possession of me, to settle myself in surroundings so foreign and unknown, breathing of isolation and sadness? The waiting unnerves me, and I beguile the time by examining all the little details of the building. The woodwork of the ceiling is complicated and ingenious. On the partitions of white paper which form the walls, are scattered tiny, microscopic, blue-feathered tortoises. “They are late,” said Yves, who is still looking out into the street. As to being late, that they certainly are, by a good hour already, and night is falling, and the boat which should take us back to dine on board will be gone. Probably we shall have to sup Japanese fashion tonight, heaven only knows where. The people of this country have no sense of punctuality, or of the value of time. Therefore I continue to inspect the minute and comical details of my dwelling. Here, instead of handles such as we should have made to pull these movable partitions, they have made little oval-holes, just the shape of a finger-end, into which one is evidently to put one’s thumb. These little holes have a bronze ornamentation, and, on looking closely, one sees that the bronze is curiously chased: here is a lady fanning herself; there, in the next hole, is represented a branch of cherry in full blossom. What eccentricity there is in the taste of this people! To bestow assiduous labor on such miniature work, and then to hide it at the bottom of a hole to put one’s finger in, looking like a mere spot in the middle of a great white panel; to accumulate so much patient and delicate workmanship on almost imperceptible accessories, and all to produce an effect which is absolutely nil, an effect of the most complete bareness and nudity. Yves still continues to gaze forth, like Sister Anne. From the side on which he leans, my veranda overlooks a street, or rather a road bordered with houses, which climbs higher and higher, and loses itself almost immediately in the verdure of the mountain, in the fields of tea, the underwood and the cemeteries. As for myself, this delay finally irritates me thoroughly, and I turn my glances to the opposite side. The other end of my house, also a veranda, opens first of all upon a garden; then upon a marvellous
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Madame Chrysantheme - From Madame Chrysanthme (1888) Pierre...

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