Page images
PDF
EPUB

ulary to meet the case, the little givings as to the identity of lieutenant rescued the sheet the Japanese boat, these were with his right hand and brought dispelled as one of the bluethe boat up to the wind again jackets rove on to the halyards himself, while with his left he the emblem of the rising sun, belaboured the steersman. They so that it fluttered out above had to make a considerable the lateen sail. The rival comdetour before they could get manders must have given the round the obstacle in front of ranges to their men simultanethem, but once they were clear ously, for the smack of the they found that they were half small-bore rifles of both parties a mile away from the junk, the burst out together. The sight of which had so agitated Russians stood off a couple of the Korean. As a rule, in points so as to bring more these waters fishermen do not rifles to bear. The range was carry arms, and the first thing now 500 yards. The Russian the lieutenant made out, when shots whizzed overhead, sang he got a clear sight of the through the rigging, ripped strange craft, was the glint of tiny holes in the sail, and the morning sun on rifles. Had splintered the planks of the a Japanese boat's crew ever forward whaleback. The Japhad such luck before ? and the anese answered deliberately; little officer smiled all over his the little lieutenant, with his face as he communicated the foot on the tiller, the sheet in joyful tidings to his men—here his right hand, and his glasses indeed was a situation ; a prim- in his left, directed the fire. itive sea fight on the racing Fifteen minutes of this, and waters of the Yalu. The suddenly the sail of the Russian Korean steersman the junk went aback, round came glint of the rifles at the same her ponderous prow. She had moment; the sight did not fill had enough. The breeze again him with similar enthusiasm, caught her great sail, and she and he settled all doubt that headed up with the tide. The had hitherto possessed him as lieutenant reduced his firing to the safety of the mission by strength by two as he ordered abandoning the tiller and jump- two bluejackets to man the ing overboard. For a moment junk's sweep: himself, he never the thought of the death pen- moved either his foot from the alty flashed across the little tiller or his hand from the sheet, lieutenant's mind, and his hand even though a bullet carried instinctively closed on the butt the glasses out of his left hand of his revolver; but he had no and scored a great sear in his use for cowards, dead or alive, forearm : he was going to have so with a loud laugh he himself that junk, or perish in the attook the tiller, and, pulling the tempt. The Russian sheet taut, bore down upon the mander evidently thought so Russian junk.

too, for he only stood upon his Nor were the Russians refus new course long enough to see ing. If they had had any mis- that the smaller vessel was

saw

com

men

overhauling him, when he put sandbank they in their turn his helm over and ran the suffered the ordeal of a concenboat for a sandbank. In three trated fire. But they made the minutes she was aground, and shore, and were advancing to her crew of nine soldiers wading the attack when suddenly they to the shore. This gave the descried two more junks bearJapanese bluejackets their op- ing down upon them from portunity. Up they jumped round the end of the bank. and let their magazines do their There is a limit to the odds best. The water round the which even a junior naval Russians became as agitated as lieutenant dare encounter, so the surface of a pond in a hail- the youth doubled his storm. But the men made back and pushed both the good their passage to the shore, junks off: at least, if he could and, opening out, doubled to not complete his skirmish, he the summit of the dune. The would carry off the spoils of lieutenant brought his boat up war. Loyally his men answered alongside the abandoned junk, to his call-they fixed a tow-line and as his men made it fast and manned the sweeps, but it they found in the corpses of was no good; the two junks two Russians the evidence of could not make sufficient headtheir good shooting; but they way against the tide, and he had not time to apprise the found the reinforcements rapidvalue of their capture, for it ly overhauling him. There was was up and into the water in nothing for it but to cast off, pursuit. By this time the and then, with four men at the Russians had taken up a posi- sweeps and two men firing, he tion to prevent a landing, and beat his way under the cover as the bluejackets waded to the of the first friendly sandbank.

THE SACRIFICE OF O’TERU SAN.

NAGASAKI, 4th May 1904. fully; “I shall have to go to A boy and girl sat on a work like a common coolie, for steep grass slope in a Japanese we have not the money for me garden. The boy, who wore to continue my education.” the apron affected by students, The maid made no comment was talking earnestly-far too to this statement, and the boy earnestly for his years, we in continued to pour out his the West would have thought. troubles. " It is very, very The girl, whose kimono and hard,” he said, "that I should paper sunshade formed the have come from a family of only coloured relief to a back- princes, and have now to do ground of fresh emerald green, menial work in order that I was listening with downcast may live,- perhaps even be eyes.

obliged to serve foreigners in "It is no use, O'Teru San," some low capacity, and profess the youth said, almost mourn- myself obedient to people whom

was

I despise. To think of it, fully. In a moment the girl O'Teru San! from to-morrow made up her mind.

" Then I shall go to the College no Teru San will do something more, and from the next day for you. O’Tanaka San, go back will be apprenticed to an art to the school to-morrow. I will isan. I, who was to go next find the money.' year to the military school, in order, as befits

one of my There was a grand entertainstation, to become an officer; ment at the Mitsui Club. The and now, just because my resident members of this great father has speculated badly in and exclusive family were giving some Western enterprise, I must a farewell send-off to a batch of give up all thought of the officers of the Imperial Guard future and live in the present who were due to leave Tokyo a coolie!”

on the following morning to The youth cast himself over join the transports collected in on his side, and although his the inland sea. For the purpose companion did not look up, yet of this entertainment the ten she knew that his brown eyes most popular Geishas in Tokyo had filled with tears. There had been retained.

a brief silence, during The evening was half-way which Teru San was making through, and the young men, up her mind. Although to our grouped in easy attitudes around Western ideas she was but a the room, were satiated with child, yet here in the East the ordinary efforts at female those whom we would still dancing. " Where is O'Teru opine children have, in their San ? somebody shouted ; teens, reached a mental balance others took up the cry and which we call maturity. The clapped their hands. A screen cruel fate which seemed about at the far end of the room was to ruin her companion's am- pushed aside; the little frail bitions hurt her as deeply as if figure appeared in the opening. a bann had been placed upon It was Teru San. She fell to herself. She also had her own her knees and bowed to the ambitions. But her hopes for ground, as is the etiquette on the future were bound up in such occasions. Then she stood the success or failure of this up in all her glory of gold and youthful student who had been grey. A perfect round of apin her life ever since she could plause greeted her, for at the remember. Personally, also, moment she was the idol of she did not wish to be the young Tokyo. Even to the wife of a carpenter or a 'rick- European estimate she shaw coolie.

beautiful,—to young Tokyo, “Is there no way?" she said; peerless. She glided in to the “will not your relations do some centre of the room, radiant in thing for you?She turned the knowledge of her success, and put her hand upon the magnificent in the blending shoulder of the prostrate stud- colours of her finery, and she ent. He shook his head mourn- danced as young Tokyo had

was

never

seen

a Geisha dance the dainty little lass who falterbefore. Her dancing finished, ingly had offered herself to she stepped down among the sign the indentures: He had audience and gracefully ac- paid a sufficient sum in cash knowledged the congratulations to ensure the first year's fees which were heaped upon her. of Tanaka’s education; the Surely this girl was happy, successful Teru San's outside if the happiness of a Geisha earnings had supplied the rest. is to be judged by popularity. Thus supported, her lover had Daintily she took the little china passed from one grade to ancups which were offered her, other, until now he was a dashmodestly she pressed them to ing subaltern in the Guards. her lips, just tasting the con All that the young couple were tents. Then they pleaded with waiting for was the day when her to dance again. All smiles the tea-house ransom should be she retired to the stage, and paid in full, and Teru San free gave a representation in grace- of her strange obligations. We ful movements of some old ballad of the West cannot understand of love and war, such as young this : in the East it is different. Tokyo adored. Then, bowing low, she passed again behind The leading company had the screen.

And as the sound been lying under the cover of of the applause died in her ears, a sand - dune since day break. 80 did the smile of happiness The men were becoming restfrom her face. Hastily she less: behind them they could changed her kimono, and called hear the even rhythm of the for the jinrickshaw which was three batteries of artillery waiting for her in the courtyard. which were endeavouring to

It was a bitter night for silence the Russian guns on poor Teru San; she was going the far side of the river, and now to meet her lover for the ever and anon some projectile last time—for Tanaka, a lieu- would whistle angrily above tenant in the Imperial Guards, their heads, or, burying itself was also leaving in the morn in front of them, would throw ing to meet the Russians. great showers of sand into Such was the history of Teru their ranks.

The men San. When she had come to getting restless because they her resolution to find the money were waiting to fulfil their with which her lover was to be orders. These orders educated, she had gone straight- engraven in each man's heart, way and sold herself—as many for such is the system of the hundreds of other Japanese Japanese : when possible each girls have done in similar cir- man in the army, from the cumstances—to the master of general of division to the some tea - house. The house humblest stretcher bearer, which she had selected had knows exactly what is to be been owned by a man who, expected of him during the long trained in the art, had ensuing day, as far as the seen the commercial value of general staff can calculate the

were

were

function of any particular unit. and a fresh company of sappers This regiment of the Guards were there to lash the stanchions had orders to lie under cover tight. as near as possible to the foot "They will never do it,” said of the bridge which the sappers the captain, as it seemed that were constructing, and as soon the latest effort had failed. as the structure was worthy, to “See, they are bringing down push across it and turn the reinforcements from the bluff Russians from their positions above us.” It was true,-a on the far side of the river. column of Russian infantry From two o'clock in the morning were debouching from behind they had been lying there, and the hills on the opposite bank it was now past mid-day and of the river, and were moving yet the bridge was not complete. down to the threatening bridge. Tanaka had crept up to his The Japanese gunners had seen captain's side, and together them, and almost immediately they had crawled to the top the column was torn and shatof the sand-dune and watched tered with bursting shell, but the progress which the sappers this counter was not sufficient were making. It seemed now to stay their advance. Down that almost the last pontoon they pressed towards the had been floated down. The water's edge; so near were they little engineers were working now that the Guardsmen could like demons on the bridge-head, make out the glint of the indiand as they worked the water vidual bayonets as they glistall round the pontoons seemed ened in the mid-day sun. alive with bursting shells. “Now is our time,” shouted Time after time the men work- Tanaka; “see, here come our ing on the hawsers were swept orders.” A staff officer galloped away, and as the cord passed up; as he came, the two officers from their lifeless grasp there could see that the last pontoon were other willing hands ready had floated into its place, and to take it. There was no time that by wading it would now to care for dead or wounded, be possible for the infantry to there was no room for either dash across. The staff officer on the pontoons, a man down shouted his orders —“Bridgewas a man lost, and it served head! Guards, column of fours the interests of the State better from the right.” The suspense to push his body into the boil. was over. In a moment the ing stream rather than hamper battalion was on its feet, and the bridge - way with doctors Tanaka was racing with the and hospital attendants. For men of the leading four for the the fifth time that morning a bridge. They felt the pontoon salvo of bursting shells de- sway under their feet—they stroyed the nearest pontoons, jumped from side to side to carrying the working party avoid the mangled frames of away with it.

Yet, nothing dead and wounded sappers. A daunted, fresh pontoons were shell tore up the planks in pushed off and floated down, front of them, and spattered

« PreviousContinue »