Learn English Conversation Speaking Lessons Online to become a very proficient and impressive speaker.

English.Dbperl.com

Learn English Speaking Class 12

Jump to Menu

  • CBSE Classes 1, 2, 3
    1. Class 1 English
    2. Class 2 English
    3. Class 3 English

  • CBSE Class 4 "Wake Up"
    1. Wake Up; Neha's Alarm Clock
    2. Noses
    3. Run
    4. Why?
    5. Don't be Afraid of the Dark
    6. The Donkey
    7. Hiawatha
    8. A Watering Rhyme
    9. Books
    10. The Naughty Boy

  • CBSE Class 5 "Ice-cream Man"
    1. Ice Cream Man
    2. Wonderful Waste
    3. Bamboo Curry
    4. Team Work
    5. For Want of Nail
    6. My Shadow
    7. Robinson Crusoe
    8. Crying
    9. Food for Thought
    10. My Elder Brother
    11. The Lazy Frog
    12. Rip Van Winkle
    13. Class Discussion
    14. The Talkative Barber
    15. Topsy Turvy
    16. Gulliver's Travel
    17. Nobody's Friend
    18. The Little Boy
    19. Sing a Song of People
    20. The Village Child
    21. The City Child
    22. Around The World
    23. Malu Bhallu
    24. Who will be Ningthou

  • CBSE Class 6 "A Pact with the Sun"
    1. A Tale of Two Birds
    2. The Friendly Mongoose
    3. The Sheherd's Treasure
    4. The Old-Clock Shop
    5. Tansen
    6. The Monkey and the Crocodile
    7. The Wonder called Sleep
    8. A Pact with the Sun
    9. What Happened to the Reptiles
    10. A Strange Wrestling Match

  • CBSE Class 6a "Honey Suckle"
    1. Who did Patrick's Home Work
    2. How the Dog Found himself a Master
    3. The Quarrel
    4. Kalpana Chawla
    5. A Different Kind of School
    6. Who Am I
    7. Fair Play
    8. TA Game of Chance
    9. Vocation
    10. Desert Animals
    11. What If
    12. The Banyan Tree

  • CBSE Class 7, "Honey Dew"
    1. Three Questions
    2. The Squirrels
    3. A Gift of Chappals
    4. The Rebels
    5. The Shed
    6. The Ashes That Made Trees Bloom
    7. Chivvy
    8. Quality
    9. Trees
    10. Expert Detective
    11. Mystery of the Talking Fan
    12. The Invention of Vita-Wonk
    13. Fire: Friend and Foe
    14. A Bicycle in Good Repair
    15. The Story of Cricket

  • CBSE Class 8, "Honey Dew"
    1. The Best Christmas Present
    2. The Tsunami
    3. Macavity: The Mystery Cat
    4. Bipin Choudhury's Lapse of Memory
    5. The Summit Within
    6. This is Jody's Fawn
    7. A Visit to Cambridge
    8. A Short Monsoon Diary
    9. The Great Stone Face 1
    10. The Great Stone Face 2

  • CBSE Class 8a, "It So Happened"
    1. How the Camel got the Hump
    2. Children at Work
    3. The Selfish Giant
    4. The Treasure Within
    5. Pricess September
    6. The Fight
    7. The Open Window
    8. Jalebis
    9. The Comet Part 1.1
    10. The Comet Part 1.2
    11. The Comet Part 2.1
    12. The Comet Part 2.2

  • CBSE Class 9, "Beehive"
    1. The Fun They Had
    2. Sound of Music
    3. The little Girl
    4. Beautiful Mind
    5. The Snake
    6. My Childhood
    7. Packing
    8. Reach for the Top
    9. Bond of Love
    10. Katmandu
    11. If I Were You

  • CBSE Class 9, "Supplementary Reader"
    1. The Lost Child
    2. The Adventure of Toto
    3. Iswaran
    4. In The Kingdom of Fools
    5. The Happy Prince
    6. Weathering The Storm
    7. The Last Leaf
    8. A House is not a Home
    9. The Accidental Tourist
    10. The Beggar

  • CBSE Class 10, "First Flight"
    1. A Letter to God
    2. Nelson Mandela
    3. Two Stories
    4. Anne Frank
    5. Hundred Dresses 1
    6. Hundred Dresses 2
    7. Glimpses of India
    8. Mijbil the Other
    9. Madam Rides the Bus
    10. The Sermon
    11. The Proposal

  • CBSE Class 10, "Footprints"
    1. A triumph of Surgery
    2. The Thief's Story
    3. The Midnight Visiors
    4. A Question of Trust
    5. Footprints without Feet
    6. The Making of a Scientist
    7. The Necklace
    8. The Hack Driver
    9. Bholi
    10. The Book that Saved the earth

  • CBSE Class 11, "Snapshots"
    1. The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse
    2. The Address
    3. Ranga's Marriage
    4. Albert Einstein
    5. Mother's Day
    6. Ghat of the Only World
    7. Birth
    8. The Tale of Melon City

  • CBSE Class 11, "Hornbill"
    1. The Portrait of a Lady
    2. Afraid to Die
    3. Discovering Tut
    4. Landscape of the Soul
    5. The Ailing Planet
    6. The Browning Version
    7. The Adventure
    8. Silk Road

  • CBSE Class 12, "Flamingo"
    1. Lost Spring
    2. Deep water
    3. Rat Trap
    4. Indigo
    5. Poet & Pancakes
    6. The Interview
    7. Going Places
    8. My Mother at Sixty-six
    9. An Elementary School
    10. Keeping Quiet
    11. Thingofbeauty
    12. Road Side Stand
    13. Aunt Jennifer's Tigers

  • CBSE Class 12, "Kaleidoscope"
    1. Sell My Dreams
    2. Eveylin
    3. A Wedding in Brownsville
    4. Tommorrow
    5. One Centimeter
    6. Poems by Milton
    7. Poems by Blake

  • CBSE Class 12, "Vistas"
    1. The Third Level
    2. The Tiger King
    3. Journey to the end of the Earth
    4. The Enemy
    5. Wizard hit Mommy
    6. ontheface
    7. Evans
    8. Memories of Childhood



  • English Class 12

    Kaleidoscope

    The Enemy.

    It is the time of the World War. An American prisoner of war is washed ashore in a dying state and is found at the doorstep of a Japanese doctor. Should he save him as a doctor or hand him over to the Army as a patriot?

    Dr Sadao Hoki’s house was built on a spot of the Japanese coast where as a little boy he had often played. The low, square stone house was set upon rocks well above a narrow beach that was outlined with bent pines. As a boy Sadao had climbed the pines, supporting himself on his bare feet, as he had seen men do in the South Seas when they climbed for coconuts. His father had taken him often to the islands of those seas, and never had he failed to say to the little brave boy at his side, ‘‘Those islands yonder, they are the stepping stones to the future for Japan.’’

    ‘‘Where shall we step from them?’’ Sadao had asked seriously.

    ‘‘Who knows?’’ his father had answered. ‘‘Who can limit our future? It depends on what we make it.’’

    Sadao had taken this into his mind as he did everything his father said, his father who never joked or played with him but who spent infinite pains upon him who was his only son. Sadao knew that his education was his father’s chief concern. For this reason he had been sent at twenty-two to America to learn all that could be learned of surgery and medicine. He had come back at thirty, and before his father died he had seen Sadao become famous not only as a surgeon but as a scientist. Because he was perfecting a discovery which would render wounds entirely clean, he had not been sent abroad with the troops. Also, he knew, there was some slight danger that the old General might need an operation for a condition for which he was now being treated medically, and for this possibility Sadao was being kept in Japan.

    Clouds were rising from the ocean now. The unexpected warmth of the past few days had at night drawn heavy fog from the cold waves. Sadao watched mists hide outlines of a little island near the shore and then come creeping up the beach below the house, wreathing around the pines. In a few minutes fog would be wrapped about the house too. Then he would go into the room where Hana, his wife, would be waiting for him with the two children.

    But at this moment the door opened and she looked out, a dark-blue woollen haori1 over her kimono. She came to him affectionately and put her arm through his as he stood, smiled and said nothing. He had met Hana in America, but he had waited to fall in love with her until he was sure she was Japanese. His father would never have received her unless she had been pure in her race. He wondered often whom he would have married if he had not met Hana, and by what luck he had found her in the most casual way, by chance literally, at an American professor’s house. The professor and his wife had been kind people anxious to do something for their few foreign students, and the students, though bored, had accepted this kindness. Sadao had often told Hana how nearly he had not gone to Professor Harley’s house that night - the rooms were so small, the food so bad, the professor’s wife so voluble. But he had gone and there he had found Hana, a new student, and had felt he would love her if it were at all possible.

    Now he felt her hand on his arm and was aware of the pleasure it gave him, even though they had been married years enough to have the two children. For they had not married heedlessly in America. They had finished their work at school and had come home to Japan, and when his father had seen her the marriage had been arranged in the old Japanese way, although Sadao and Hana had talked everything over beforehand. They were perfectly happy. She laid her cheek against his arm.

    It was at this moment that both of them saw something black come out of the mists. It was a man. He was flung up out of the ocean - flung, it seemed, to his feet by a breaker. He staggered a few steps, his body outlined against the mist, his arms above his head. Then the curled mists hid him again.

    ‘‘Who is that?’’ Hana cried. She dropped Sadao’s arm and they both leaned over the railing of the veranda. Now they saw him again. The man was on his hands and knees crawling. Then they saw him fall on his face and lie there.

    ‘‘A fisherman perhaps,’’ Sadao said, ‘‘washed from his boat.’’ He ran quickly down the steps and behind him Hana came, her wide sleeves flying. A mile or two away on either side there were fishing villages, but here was only the bare and lonely coast, dangerous with rocks. The surf beyond the beach was spiked with rocks. Somehow the man had managed to come through them - he must be badly torn.

    They saw when they came toward him that indeed it was so. The sand on one side of him had already a stain of red soaking through.

    ‘‘He is wounded,’’ Sadao exclaimed. He made haste to the man, who lay motionless, his face in the sand. An old cap stuck to his head soaked with sea water. He was in wet rags of garments. Sadao stopped, Hana at his side, and turned the man’s head. They saw the face.

    “A white man!” Hana whispered.

    Yes, it was a white man. The wet cap fell away and there was his wet yellow hair, long, as though for many weeks it had not been cut, and upon his young and tortured face was a rough yellow beard. He was unconscious and knew nothing that they did for him.

    Now Sadao remembered the wound, and with his expert fingers he began to search for it. Blood flowed freshly at his touch. On the right side of his lower back Sadao saw that a gun wound had been reopened. The flesh was blackened with powder. Sometime, not many days ago, the man had been shot and had not been tended. It was bad chance that the rock had struck the wound.

    Oh how he is bleeding!’’ Hana whispered again in a solemn voice. The mists screened them now completely, and at this time of day no one came by. The fishermen had gone home and even the chance beachcombers would have considered the day at an end.

    ‘‘What shall we do with this man?’’ Sadao muttered. But his trained hands seemed of their own will to be doing what they could to stanch the fearful bleeding. He packed the wound with the sea moss that strewed the beach. The man moaned with pain in his stupor but he did not awaken.

    ‘‘The best thing that we could do would be to put him back in the sea,’’ Sadao said, answering himself. ‘‘The best thing that we could do would be to put him back in the sea,’’ Sadao said, answering himself. Now that the bleeding was stopped for the moment he stood up and dusted the sand from his hands. ‘‘Yes, undoubtedly that would be best,’’ Hana said steadily. But she continued to stare down at the motionless man.

    Now that the bleeding was stopped for the moment he stood up and dusted the sand from his hands.

    ‘‘Yes, undoubtedly that would be best,’’ Hana said steadily. But she continued to stare down at the motionless man.

    ‘‘If we sheltered a white man in our house we should be arrested and if we turned him over as a prisoner, he would certainly die,’’ Sadao said.

    ‘‘The kindest thing would be to put him back into the sea,’’ Hana said. But neither of them moved. They were staring with a curious repulsion upon the inert figure.

    ‘‘What is he?’’ Hana whispered.

    ‘There is something about him that looks American,’’ Sadao said. He took up the battered cap. Yes, there, almost gone, was the faint lettering. ‘‘A sailor,’’ he said, ‘‘from an American warship.’’ He spelled it out: ‘‘U.S. Navy.’’ The man was a prisoner of war!

    ‘‘He has escaped.’’ Hana cried softly, ‘‘and that is why he is wounded.’’

    ‘‘In the back,’’ Sadao agreed.

    They hesitated, looking at each other. Then Hana said with resolution: “Come, are we able to put him back into the sea?”

    “If I am able, are you?” Sadao asked.

    “No,” Hana said, “But if you can do it alone...”

    Sadao hesitated again. “The strange thing is,” he said, “that if the man were whole I could turn him over to the police without difficulty. I care nothing for him. He is my enemy. All Americans are my enemy. And he is only a common fellow. You see how foolish his face is. But since he is wounded…”

    “You also cannot throw him back to the sea,” Hana said. “Then there is only one thing to do. We must carry him into the house.”

    “But the servants?” Sadao inquired.

    “We must simply tell them that we intend to give him to the police - as indeed we must, Sadao. We must think of the children and your position. It would endanger all of us if we did not give this man over as a prisoner of war.”

    “Certainly,” Sadao agreed. “I would not think of doing anything else.”

    Thus agreed, together they lifted the man. He was very light, like a fowl that had been half-starved for a long time until it is only feathers and skeleton. So, his arms hanging, they carried him up the steps and into the side door of the house. This door opened into a passage, and down the passage they carried the man towards an empty bedroom. It had been the bedroom of Sadao’s father, and since his death it had not been used. They laid the man on the deeply matted floor. Everything here had been Japanese to please the old man, who would never in his own home sit on a chair or sleep in a foreign bed. Hana went to the wall cupboards and slid back a door and took out a soft quilt. She hesitated. The quilt was covered with flowered silk and the lining was pure white silk.

    “He is so dirty,” she murmured in distress.

    “Yes, he had better be washed,” Sadao agreed. “If you will fetch hot water I will wash him.”

    "I cannot bear for you to touch him", she said. “We shall have to tell the servants he is here. I will tell Yumi now. She can leave the children for a few minutes and she can wash him.”

    Sadao considered a moment. “Let it be so,” he agreed. “You tell Yumi and I will tell the others.”

    But the utter pallor of the man’s unconscious face moved him first to stoop and feel his pulse. It was faint but it was there. He put his hand against the man’s cold breast.

    The heart too was yet alive.

    “He will die unless he is operated on,” Sadao said, considering. “The question is whether he will not die anyway.”

    Hana cried out in fear. “Don’t try to save him! What if he should live?”

    “What if he should die?” Sadao replied. He stood gazing down on the motionless man. This man must have extraordinary vitality or he would have been dead by now. But then he was very young - perhaps not yet twentyfive.

    “You mean die from the operation?”

    Hana asked.

    “Yes,” Sadao said.

    Hana considered this doubtfully, and when she did not answer Sadao turned away. “At any rate something must be done with him,” he said, “and first he must be washed.” He went quickly out of the room and Hana came behind him. She did not wish to be left alone with the white man. He was the first she had seen since she left America and now he seemed to have nothing to do with those whom she had known there. Here he was her enemy, a menace, living or dead.

    She turned to the nursery and called, “Yumi!”

    But the children heard her voice and she had to go in for a moment and smile at them and play with the baby boy, now nearly three months old.

    Over the baby’s soft black hair she motioned with her mouth, “Yumi - come with me!”

    “I will put the baby to bed,” Yumi replied. “He is ready.” She went with Yumi into the bedroom next to the nursery and stood with the boy in her arms while Yumi spread the sleeping quilts on the floor and laid the baby between them.

    Then Hana led the way quickly and softly to the kitchen. The two servants were frightened at what their master had just told them. The old gardener, who was also a house servant, pulled the few hairs on his upper lip. “The master ought not to heal the wound of this white man,” he said bluntly to Hana. “The white man ought to die. First he was shot. Then the sea caught him and wounded him with her rocks. If the master heals what the gun did and what the sea did they will take revenge on us.”

    “I will tell him what you say,” Hana replied courteously. But she herself was also frightened, although she was not superstitious as the old man was. Could it ever be well to help an enemy? Nevertheless she told Yumi to fetch the hot water and bring it to the room where the white man was.

    She went ahead and slid back the partitions. Sadao was not yet there. Yumi, following, put down her wooden bucket. Then she went over to the white man. When she saw him her thick lips folded themselves into stubbornness. “I have never washed a white man,” she said, “and I will not wash so dirty a one now.”

    Hana cried at her severely. “You will do what your master commands you!”

    There was so fierce a look of resistance upon Yumi’s round dull face that Hana felt unreasonably afraid. After all, if the servants should report something that was not as it happened?

    “Very well,” she said with dignity. “You understand we only want to bring him to his senses so that we can turn him over as a prisoner?”

    “I will have nothing to do with it,” Yumi said, “I am a poor person and it is not my business.”

    “Then please,” Hana said gently, “return to your own work.”

    At once Yumi left the room. But this left Hana with the white man alone. She might have been too afraid to stay had not her anger at Yumi’s stubbornness now sustained her.

    “Stupid Yumi,” she muttered fiercely. “Is this anything but a man? And a wounded helpless man!” In the conviction of her own superiority she bent impulsively and untied the knotted rugs that kept the white man covered. When she had his breast bare she dipped the small clean towel that Yumi had brought into the steaming hot water and washed his face carefully. The man’s skin, though rough with exposure, was of a fine texture and must have been very blond when he was a child.

    While she was thinking these thoughts, though not really liking the man better now that he was no longer a child, she kept on washing him until his upper body was quite clean. But she dared not turn him over. Where was Sadao? Now her anger was ebbing, and she was anxious again and she rose, wiping her hands on the wrong towel. Then lest the man be chilled, she put the quilt over him.

    “Sadao!” she called softly.

    He had been about to come in when she called. His hand had been on the door and now he opened it. She saw that he had brought his surgeon’s emergency bag and that he wore his surgeon’s coat.

    “You have decided to operate!” she cried.

    “Yes,” he said shortly. He turned his back to her and unfolded a sterilized towel upon the floor of the tokonoma2 alcove, and put his instruments out upon it.

    “Fetch towels,” he said.

    She went obediently, but how anxious now, to the linen shelves and took out the towels. There ought a0lso to be old pieces of matting so that the blood would not ruin the fine floor covering. She went out to the back veranda where the gardener kept strips of matting with which to protect delicate shrubs on cold nights and took an armful of them. But when she went back into the room, she saw this was useless. The blood had already soaked through the packing in the man’s wound and had ruined the mat under him.

    “Oh, the mat!” she cried.

    “Yes, it is ruined,” Sadao replied, as though he did not care. “Help me to turn him,” he commanded her.

    She obeyed him without a word, and he began to wash the man’s back carefully.

    “Yumi would not wash him,” she said.

    “Did you wash him then?” Sadao asked, not stopping for a moment his swift concise movements.

    “Yes,” she said.

    He did not seem to hear her. But she was used to his absorption when he was at work. She wondered for a moment if it mattered to him what was the body upon which he worked so long as it was for the work he did so excellently.

    “You will have to give the anesthetic if he needs it,” he said.

    “I?” she repeated blankly. “But never have I!”

    “It is easy enough,” he said impatiently.

    He was taking out the packing now, and the blood began to flow more quickly. He peered into the wound with the bright surgeon’s light fastened on his forehead. “The bullet is still there,” he said with cool interest. “Now I wonder how deep this rock wound is. If it is not too deep it may be that I can get the bullet. But the bleeding is not superficial. He has lost much blood.”

    At this moment Hana choked. He looked up and saw her face the colour of sulphur.

    “Don’t faint,” he said sharply. He did not put down his exploring instrument. “If I stop now the man will surely die.” She clapped her hands to her mouth and leaped up and ran out of the room. Outside in the garden he heard her retching. But he went on with his work.

    “It will be better for her to empty her stomach,” he thought. He had forgotten that of course she had never seen an operation. But her distress and his inability to go to her at once made him impatient and irritable with this man who lay like dead under his knife.

    “This man.” he thought, “there is no reason under heaven why he should live.”

    Unconsciously this thought made him ruthless and he proceeded swiftly. In his dream the man moaned but Sadao paid no heed except to mutter at him.

    “Groan,” he muttered, “groan if you like. I am not doing this for my own pleasure. In fact, I do not know why I am doing it.”

    The door opened and there was Hana again.

    “Where is the anesthetic?” she asked in a clear voice. Sadao motioned with his chin. “It is as well that you came back,” he said. “This fellow is beginning to stir.”

    She had the bottle and some cotton in her hand. “But how shall I do it?” she asked.

    “Simply saturate the cotton and hold it near his nostrils,” Sadao replied without delaying for one moment the intricate detail of his work. “When he breathes badly move it away a little.”

    She crouched close to the sleeping face of the young American. It was a piteously thin face, she thought, and the lips were twisted. The man was suffering whether he knew it or not. Watching him, she wondered if the stories they heard sometimes of the sufferings of prisoners were true. They came like flickers of rumour, told by word of mouth and always contradicted. In the newspapers the reports were always that wherever the Japanese armies went the people received them gladly, with cries of joy at their liberation. But sometimes she remembered such men as General Takima, who at home beat his wife cruelly, though no one mentioned it now that he had fought so victorious a battle in Manchuria. If a man like that could be so cruel to a woman in his power, would he not be cruel to one like this for instance?

    She hoped anxiously that this young man had not been tortured. It was at this moment that she observed deep red scars on his neck, just under the ear.

    “Those scars,” she murmured, lifting her eyes to Sadao. But he did not answer. At this moment he felt the tip of his instrument strike against something hard, dangerously near the kidney. All thought left him. He felt only the purest pleasure. He probed with his fingers, delicately, familiar with every atom of this human body. His old American professor of anatomy had seen to that knowledge. “Ignorance of the human body is the surgeon’s cardinal sin, sirs!” he had thundered at his classes year after year. “To operate without as complete knowledge of the body as if you had made it - anything less than that is murder.”

    “It is not quite at the kidney, my friend,” Sadao murmured. It was his habit to murmur to the patient when he forgot himself in an operation. “My friend,” he always called his patients and so now he did, forgetting that this was his enemy.

    Then quickly, with the cleanest and most precise of incisions, the bullet was out. The man quivered but he was still unconscious. Nevertheless he muttered a few English words.

    “Guts,” he muttered, choking. “They got...my guts...”

    “Sadao!” Hana cried sharply.

    “Hush,” Sadao said.

    The man sank again into silence so profound that Sadao took up his wrist, hating the touch of it. Yes, there was still a pulse so faint, so feeble, but enough, if he wanted the man to live, to give hope. “But certainly I do not want this man to live,” he thought.

    “No more anesthetic,” he told Hana.

    He turned as swiftly as though he had never paused and from his medicines he chose a small vial and from it filled a hypodermic and thrust it into the patient’s left arm. Then putting down the needle, he took the man’s wrist again. The pulse under his fingers fluttered once or twice and then grew stronger.

    “This man will live in spite of all,” he said to Hana and sighed.

    The young man woke, so weak, his blue eyes so terrified when he perceived where he was, that Hana felt compelled to apologise. She herself served him, for none of the servants would enter the room.

    When she came in the first time, she saw him summon his small strength to be prepared for some fearful thing.

    “Don’t be afraid,” she begged him softly.

    “How come... you speak English…” he gasped.

    “I was a long time in America,” she replied.

    She saw that he wanted to reply to that but he could not, and so she knelt and fed him gently from the porcelain spoon. He ate unwillingly, but still he ate.

    “Now you will soon be strong,” she said, not liking him and yet moved to comfort him.

    He did not answer.

    When Sadao came in the third day after the operation, he found the young man sitting up, his face bloodless with the effort.

    “Lie down,” Sadao cried. “Do you want to die?” He forced the man down gently and strongly and examined the wound. “You may kill yourself if you do this sort of thing,” he scolded.

    “What are you going to do with me?” the boy muttered. He looked just now barely seventeen. “Are you going to hand me over?”

    For a moment Sadao did not answer. He finished his examination and then pulled the silk quilt over the man. “I do not know myself what I shall do with you,” he said. “I ought of course to give you to the police. You are a prisoner of war - no, do not tell me anything.” He put up his hand as he saw the young man was about to speak. “Do not even tell me your name unless I ask it.” They looked at each other for a moment, and then the young man closed his eyes and turned his face to the wall. “Okay,” he whispered, his mouth a bitter line. Outside the door Hana was waiting for Sadao. He saw at once that she was in trouble.

    “Sadao, Yumi tells me the servants feel they cannot stay if we hide this man here any more,” she said. “She tells me that they are saying that you and I were so long in America that we have forgotten to think of our own country first. They think we like Americans.”

    “It is not true,” Sadao said harshly “Americans are our enemies. But I have been trained not to let a man die if I can help it.”

    “The servants cannot understand that,” she said anxiously.

    “No,” he agreed

    Neither seemed able to say more, and somehow the household dragged on. The servants grew more watchful. Their courtesy was as careful as ever, but their eyes were cold upon the pair to whom they were hired.

    “It is clear what our master ought to do,” the old gardener said one morning. He had worked with flowers all his life, and had been a specialist too in moss. For Sadao’s father he had made one of the finest moss gardens in Japan, sweeping the bright green carpet constantly so that not a leaf or a pine needle marred the velvet of its surface. “My old master’s son knows very well what he ought to do,” he now said, pinching a bud from a bush as he spoke. “When the man was so near death why did he not let him bleed?”

    “That young master is so proud of his skill to save life that he saves any life,” the cook said contemptuously. She split a fowl’s neck skillfully and held the fluttering bird and let its blood flow into the roots of a wistaria vine. Blood is the best of fertilisers, and the old gardener would not let her waste a drop of it.

    “It is the children of whom we must think,” Yumi said sadly. “What will be their fate if their father is condemned as a traitor?”

    They did not try to hide what they said from the ears of Hana as she stood arranging the day’s flowers in the veranda near by, and she knew they spoke on purpose that she might hear. That they were right she knew too in most of her being. But there was another part of her which she herself could not understand. It was not sentimental liking of the prisoner. She had come to think of him as a prisoner. She had not liked him even yesterday when he had said in his impulsive way, “Anyway, let me tell you that my name is Tom.” She had only bowed her little distant bow. She saw hurt in his eyes but she did not wish to assuage it. Indeed, he was a great trouble in this house.

    As for Sadao, every day he examined the wound carefully. The last stitches had been pulled out this morning, and the young man would, in a fortnight be nearly as well as ever. Sadao went back to his office and carefully typed a letter to the Chief of police reporting the whole matter. “On the twenty-first day of February an escaped prisoner was washed up on the shore in front of my house.” So far he typed and then he opened a secret drawer of his desk and put the unfinished report into it.

    On the seventh day after that, two things happened. In the morning the servants left together, their belongings tied in large square cotton kerchiefs. When Hana got up in the morning nothing was done, the house not cleaned and the food not prepared, and she knew what it meant. She was dismayed and even terrified, but her pride as a mistress would not allow her to show it. Instead, she inclined her head gracefully when they appeared before her in the kitchen, and she paid them off and thanked them for all that they had done for her. They were crying, but she did not cry. The cook and the gardener had served Sadao since he was a little boy in his father’s house, and Yumi cried because of the children. She was so grieving that after she had gone she ran back to Hana.

    “If the baby misses me too much tonight, send for me. I am going to my own house and you know where it is.”

    “Thank you,” Hana said smiling. But she told herself she would not send for Yumi however the baby cried.

    She made the breakfast and Sadao helped with the children. Neither of them spoke of the servants beyond the fact that they were gone. But after Hana had taken morning food to the prisoner, she came back to Sadao.

    “Why is it we cannot see clearly what we ought to do?” she asked him. “Even the servants see more clearly than we do. Why are we different from other Japanese?”

    Sadao did not answer. But a little later he went into the room where the prisoner was and said brusquely, “Today you may get up on your feet. I want you to stay up only five minutes at a time. Tomorrow you may try it twice as long. It would be well that you get back your strength as quickly as possible.”

    He saw the flicker of terror on the young face that was still very pale. “Okay,” the boy murmured. Evidently he was determined to say more. “I feel I ought to thank you, Doctor, for having saved my life.”

    “Don’t thank me too early,” Sadao said coldly. He saw the flicker of terror again in the boy’s eyes - terror as unmistakable as an animal’s. The scars on his neck were crimson for a moment. Those scars! What were they? Sadao did not ask.

    In the afternoon the second thing happened. Hana, working hard on unaccustomed labour, saw a messenger come to the door in official uniform. Her hands went weak and she could not draw her breath. The servants must have told already. She ran to Sadao, gasping, unable to utter a word. But by then the messenger had simply followed her through the garden and there he stood. She pointed at him helplessly.

    Sadao looked up from his book. He was in his office, the other partition of which was thrown open to the garden for the southern sunshine. “What is it?” he asked the messenger and then he rose, seeing the man’s uniform.

    “You are to come to the palace,” the man said. “The old General is in pain again.”

    “Oh,” Hana breathed, “is that all?” “All?” the messenger exclaimed.

    “Is it not enough?”

    “Indeed it is,” she replied. “I am very sorry.”

    When Sadao came to say goodbye, she was in the kitchen, but doing nothing. The children were asleep and she sat merely resting for a moment, more exhausted from her fright than from work.

    “I thought they had come to arrest you”, she said. He gazed down into her anxious eyes. “I must get rid of this man for your sake,” he said in distress. “Somehow I must get rid of him.”

    Sadao goes to see the General)

    “Of course,” the General said weakly, “I understand fully. But that is because, I once took a degree in Princeton. So few Japanese have.”

    “I care nothing for the man, Excellency,” Sadao said, “but having operated on him with such success…”

    “Yes, yes” the General said. “It only makes me feel you more indispensable to me. Evidently you can save anyone - you are so skilled. You say you think I can stand one more such attack as I have had today?”

    “Not more than one,” Sadao said.

    “Then certainly I can allow nothing to happen to you,” the General said with anxiety. His long pale Japanese face became expressionless, which meant that he was in deep thought. “You cannot be arrested,” the General said, closing his eyes. “Suppose you were condemned to death and the next day I had to have my operation?”

    “There are other surgeons, Excellency,” Sadao suggested.

    “None I trust,” the General replied. “The best ones have been trained by Germans and would consider the operation successful even if I died. I do not care for their point of view.” He sighed. “It seems a pity that we cannot better combine the German ruthlessness with the American sentimentality. Then you could turn your prisoner over to execution and yet I could be sure you would not murder me while I was unconscious.” The General laughed. He had an unusual sense of humour. “As a Japanese, could you not combine these two foreign elements?” he asked.

    Sadao smiled. “I am not quite sure,” he said, “but for your sake I would be willing to try, Excellency.”

    The General shook his head. “I had rather not be the test case,” he said. He felt suddenly weak and overwhelmed with the cares of his life as an official in times such as these when repeated victory brought great responsibilities all over the south Pacific. “It is very unfortunate that this man should have washed up on your doorstep,” he said irritably.

    “I feel it so myself,” Sadao said gently.

    “It would be best if he could be quietly killed,” the General said. “Not by you, but by someone who does not know him. I have my own private assassins. Suppose I send two of them to your house tonight or better, any night. You need know nothing about it. It is now warm - what would be more natural than that you should leave the outer partition of the white man’s room open to the garden while he sleeps?”

    “Certainly it would be very natural,” Sadao agreed. “In fact, it is so left open every night.”

    “Good,” the General said, yawning. “They are very capable assassins - they make no noise and they know the trick of inward bleeding. If you like I can even have them remove the body.”

    Sadao considered. “That perhaps would be best, Excellency,” he agreed, thinking of Hana.

    He left the General’s presence then and went home, thinking over the plan. In this way the whole thing would be taken out of his hands. He would tell Hana nothing, since she would be timid at the idea of assassins in the house, and yet certainly such persons were essential in an absolute state such as Japan was. How else could rulers deal with.
    Jump to Menu
    Indian English
    UK English
    US English