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The Shadow of the East   By: (-1947)

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" The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge ."

Ezekiel xviii 2 .


The American yacht lying off the harbour at Yokohama was brilliantly lit from stem to stern. Between it and the shore the reflection of the full moon glittered on the water up to the steps of the big black landing stage. The glamour of the eastern night and the moonlight combined to lend enchantment to a scene that by day is blatant and tawdry, and the countless coloured lamps twinkling along the sea wall and dotted over the Bluff transformed the Japanese town into fairyland.

The night was warm and still, and there was barely a ripple on the water. The Bay was full of craft liners, tramps, and yachts swinging slowly with the tide, and hurrying to and fro sampans and electric launches jostled indiscriminately.

On board the yacht three men were lying in long chairs on the deck. Jermyn Atherton, the millionaire owner, a tall thin American whose keen, clever face looked singularly youthful under a thick crop of iron grey hair, sat forward in his chair to light a fresh cigar, and then turned to the man on his right. "I guess I've had every official in Japan hunting for you these last two days, Barry. If I hadn't had your wire from Tokio this morning I should have gone to our Consul and churned up the whole Japanese Secret Service and made an international affair of it," he laughed. "Where in all creation were you? I should hardly have thought it possible to get out of touch in this little old island. The authorities, too, knew all about you, and reckoned they could lay their hands on you in twelve hours. I rattled them up some," he added, with evident satisfaction.

The Englishman smiled.

"You seem to have done," he said dryly. "When I got into Tokio this morning I was fallen on by a hysterical inspector of police who implored me with tears to communicate immediately with an infuriated American who was raising Cain in Yokohama over my disappearance. As a matter of fact I was in a little village twenty miles inland from Tokio quite off the beaten track. There's an old Shinto temple there that I have been wanting to sketch for a long time."

"Atherton's luck!" commented the American complacently. "It generally holds good. I couldn't leave Japan without seeing you, and I must sail tonight."

"What's your hurry Wall Street going to the dogs without you?"

"No. I've cut out from Wall Street. I've made all the money I want, and I'm only concerned with spending it now. No, the fact is I er I left home rather suddenly."

A soft chuckle came from the recumbent occupant of the third chair, but Atherton ignored it and hurried on, twirling rapidly, as he spoke, a single eyeglass attached to a thin black cord.

"Ever since Nina and I were married last year we've been going the devil of a pace. We had to entertain every one who had entertained us and a few more folk besides. There was something doing all day and every day until at last it seemed to me that I never saw my wife except at the other end of a dining table with a crowd of silly fools in between us. I reckoned I'd just about had enough of it. Came on me just like a flash sitting in my office down town one morning, so I buzzed home right away in the auto and told her I was sick of the whole thing and that I wanted her to come away with me and see what real life was like out West or anywhere else on earth away from that durned society crowd. I'll admit I lost my temper and did some shouting. Nina couldn't see it from my point of view.

"My God, Jermyn! I should think not," drawled a sleepy voice from the third chair, and a short, immensely stout man struggled up into a sitting position, mopping his forehead vigorously. "You've the instincts of a Turk rather than of an enlightened American citizen... Continue reading book >>

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