Madame Butterfly: Chapter V


A BIRD flew to the vine in the little porch.

"Ah, Suzuki!"

But the maid had withdrawn. She clapped her hands violently for her to return.

"Now why do you go away when "--her momentary anger fled, and she laughed"--when birds flying to the wistaria? Go quickly, little maiden, and see if he is a robin, and if he has completed his nest--quickly."

The maid returned, and said that he was indeed a robin, but that he had no nest there as yet.

"Oh, how he is slow! Suzuki, let us fine 'nother robin, one that is more industri-ous--an' domes-tic, aha, ha, ha!"

"They are all alike," said the girl, cynically.

"They--not! Say so!"

Suzuki giggled affirmatively. When her mistress took so violently to English she preferred to express herself in this truly Japanese fashion.

"Inform me, if you please, how much nearer beggary we are to-day than yesterday, Suzuki."

The girl had exact information for her on this subject. She said they had just seventeen yen, fifty-four sen, two rin.

"Alas--alas! How we have waste his beau-tiful moaneys! Tha' 's shame. But he will not permit that we starve--account he know we have no one aexcep' him. We all outcasted. Now loog how that is bad! So jus' when it is all gone he will come with more--lig the stories of ole Kazabu. Oh! lig story of Uncombed Ronin, who make a large oath that he go'n' be huge foo-l if he dress his hair until his lord arrive back from the banishment. Lo! when they cutting his hade off him, account he don' comb his hair, his lord arrive back, an' say, 'What they doing with him?' --an' reward him great deal, account he constant ontil he 'mos' dead. So, jus' when we go'n' out on the street--, mebby to fine him,--you with Trouble on your back, me with my samisen, standing up bifore all the people, singing funeral songs, with faces, oh, 'bout 'mos' so long,"--she illustrated liberally,--"sad garments, hair all ruffled--so, dancing liddle--so,"--she indicated how she should dance,--" an' saying out ver' loud, 'O ye people! Listen, for the loave of all the eight hundred thousan' gods and goddesses ! Behole, we, a poor widow, an' a bebby what got purple eyes, which had one hosban', which gone off at United States America, to naever return no more-- naever! Aexcep' you have seen him? No? See! This what I thing. Oh, how that is mos' tarrible! We giving up all our august ancestors, an' gods, an' people, an' country,-- oh, aeverything,--jus' for him, an' now he don' naever colne no more! Oh, how that is sad! Is it not? Also, he don' even divorce us, so that we kin marry with 'nother mans an' git some food. He? He don' even thing 'bout it! Not liddle bit! He forgitting us--alas! But we got keep his house nine hundred an' ninety-nine year! Now thing 'bout that! An' we go'n' starve bifore, aexcep' you giving us--ah-ah-ah! jus' one sen! two sen! mebby fi' sen! Oh, for the loave of sorrow, for the loave of constancy, for the loave of death, jus'--one-- sen! Will you please pity us? In the name of the merciful Kwannon we beg. Loog! To move your hearts in the inside you, we go'n' sing you a song of sorrow--an' death--an' heaven."

She had acted it all with superb spirit, and now she snatched up her samisen, and dramatized this also; and so sure was she of life and happiness that this is the song of sorrow and death she sang:

"Hikari nodokeki haru no nobe,

Niwo sakura-no-hana sakari,

Mure kuru hito no tanoshiki ni,

Shibashi uki yo ya wasururan.

"Sunshine on a quiet plain in spring,

The perfume of the blooming cherry blossoms,

The joy of the gathering crowd,

Filled with love, forget the care of life."

And then, as always, abandonment and laughter.

"Aha, ha, ha! Aha, ha, ha! What you thing, liddle maiden? Tha' 's good song 'bout sorrow, an' death, an' heaven? Aha, ha, ha! What--you--thing? Speak! Say so!"

She tossed the samisen to its place, and sprang savagely at the maid.

"If that Mr. B. F. Pikkerton see us doing alig those--" ventured the maid, in the humor of her mistress.

"O-o-o! You see his eye flame an' scorch lig lightening! O-o-o! He snatch us away to the house--so--so--so!"

The baby was the unfortunate subject for the illustration of this. He began to whimper.

"Rog-a-by, bebby, off in Japan,

You jus' a picture off of a fan."

This was from Pinkerton. She had been the baby then.

"Ah, liddle beggar, he di'n' know he go'n' make those poetries for you! He don' suspect of you whichever. Well! I bed you we go'n' have some fun when he do. Oh, Suzuki! Some day, when the emperor go abroad, we will show him. You got say these way"--she changed her voice to what she fancied an impressive male basso: "'Behole, Heaven-Descended-Ruler-Everlasting-Great-Japan, the first of your subjecks taken his eye out those ver' blue heaven whence you are descend!' Hence the emperor loog on him; then he stop an' loog; he kin naever git enough loogs. Then he make Trouble a large prince! An' me? He jus' say onto me: 'Continue that you bring out such sons.' Aha, ha, ha! What you thing?"

The maid was frankly skeptical.

"At least you kin do lig the old nakodo wish you--for you are most beautiful."

Cho-Cho-San dropped the baby with a reckless thud, and sprang at her again. She gripped her throat viciously, then flung her, laughing, aside.

"Speak concerning marriage once more, an' you die. An' tha' 's 'nother thing. You got know at his United States America, if one is marry one got stay marry--oh, for aever an' aever! Yaes! Nob'y cannot git himself divorce, aexcep' in a large courthouse an' jail. Tha' 's way with he--that Mr. B. F. Pikkerton--an' me--that Mrs. B. F. Pikkerton. If he aever go'n' divorce me, he got take me at those large jail at that United States America. Tha' 's lot of trouble; hence he rather stay marry with me. Also, he lig be marry with me. Now loog! He leave me a 'mos' largest lot money in Japan; he give me his house for live inside for nine hundred an' ninety-nine year. I cannot go home at my grandmother, account he make them outcast me. Sa-ay, you liddle foolish! He coming when the robins nest again. Aha! What you thing? Say so!"

The maid should have been excused for not being always as recklessly jubilant as her mistress; but she never was. And now, when she chose silence rather than speech (which was both more prudent and more polite), she took it very ill.

John Luther Long's Madame Butterfly (1898). Previous Chapter: Trouble--Meaning Joy. Next Chapter: Divine Foolery