Dr. Sadao Hoki’s house was built on a spot off the Japanese coast. As a little boy he had often played there. His low square stone house was built above the narrow beach. His father had taken him often to the islands not far from the shore. He would say to the serious little boy at his side.
“Those islands out there are the stepping-stones to the future of Japan.”
“Where shall we step from them?” Sadao had asked.
“Who knows?” his father had answered. “Who can limit our future? It depends on what we make it.”
Sadao had paid attention to this as he did everything his father said. His father never joked or played with him. However, he gave all his attention to his only son. Sadao knew that his education” was the most important thing in the world to his father. 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. Before his father died, he had seen Sadao become famous not only as a surgeon but as a scientist. Sadao was now working on an important medical discovery, so he had not been sent abroad with the troops. He also knew there was a chance the old General might need an operation. This was another reason why Sadao was being kept in Japan.
The weather had been surprisingly warm for the past few days. There was heavy fog at night.
The door opened and Hana looked out. She was wearing a dark-blue kimono’. She came to him affectionately. She put her arm through his, 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 believed in traditional Japanese values Otherwise, his father would never have received her. He thought about how lucky he was that he had found her by chance really, at an American professor’s house.
The professor and his wife had been kind people. They wanted to do something for their few foreign students”. The students, though bored Sadao had often told Hana that he had almost not gone to Professor Harley’s house that night.
But he had gone and there he had found Hana, a new student. They had not married carelessly in America. They had finished their studies and had come home to Japan. After his father had seen her. The marriage was arranged in the old Japanese way, although Sadao and Hana had talked everything over before. 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 thr0u.n out of the ocean by a wave”. He staggered a few steps, his arms above his head. Then the mists hid him again.
“Who is that?” Hana cried. She dropped Sadao’s arm and they both leaned over the railing’ of the 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. Behind him Hana came, her wide sleeves flying. A mile or two away on either side, there were fishing villages.
Somehow the man had managed to go through the rocks. He must be badly hurt. They saw that the sand on one side of him was red.
“He is wounded-.” Sadao exclaimed. He hurried to the man, who lay there without moving, his face in the sand. An old cap stuck to his head. His clothes were wet rags.
Sadao stooped. 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. His wet yellow hair, long, as though had not been cut for many weeks. On his young and tortured- he had a rough yellow beard. He was unconscious. Sadao remembered the wound and with his expert fingers 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 black. Sometime not many days ago, the man had been shot and had not been saved. It his bad luck now that a rock had struck his wound.
“Oh, how he is bleeding!” Hana whispered again. The mists lid them completely now. At this time of day no one came by. The fishermen had gone home.
“What shall are do with this man?” Sadao said.
But his hands seemed to have a will of their own. They worked to stop the bleeding. The man moaned with pain 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.
Now that the bleeding was stopped for the moment, he stood up and dusted the sand from his hands”’.
“Yes, that would be best,” Hana said. But she continued to look at the man.
“If we sheltered” a white man in our house we would be arrested. But if we turned him in 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.
“What is he?” Hana whispered. “There is something about him that looks American,” Sadao said. He picked up the cap.
“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 was shot.” “In the back,” Sadao agreed. They hesitated, looking at each other. Then Hana said, “Are we able to put him back into the sea?” “If I am able, are you?” Sadao asked. “So.” Hana said. “But if you can do it alone …” Sadao hesitated again.
“The strange thing is,” he said, “that if the man were whole6 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 asked.
“We must simply tell them that we plan to give him to the police. And we must, Sadao. We must think of the children and of our 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.”
Together they lifted the man. He was very light. They carried him up the steps and into an empty bedroom. It had been the bedroom of Sadao’s father. Since his death it had not been used. They laid the man” on the floor mat. Everything here had been Japanese-to please the old man. Sadao’s father 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.
“He is so dirty,” she whispered.
“Yes, he had better be washed,” Sadao agreed. If you will bring 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 thought a moment. “Yes,” he agreed. “You tell Yumi and I will tell the others.”
The whiteness of the man’s face moved Sadao to feel his pulse. It was faint” but it was there. He put his hand against the man’s cold chest”. The heart too was still alive.
“He will die unless he is operated on,” Sadao said. “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 looked at the motionless man. This man must be very healthy or he would have been dead by now. He looked so very young.
“You mean die from the operation?” Hana asked.
“Yes,” Sadao said.
Hana thought about this and when she did not answer, Sadao turned away.
“In any case 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. He seemed to have nothing to do with those whom she had known there. Here he was her enemy, a threatI5, living or dead.
She turned to the nursery and called, “Yumi!”
The children heard her voice. She had to go in for a moment and smile at them and play with the baby, now nearly three months old.
To Yumi she said, “Come with me!”
“I will put the baby to bed,” Yumi said. “He is ready.”
She went with Yumi into the bedroom next to the nursery. She 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 to the kitchen. The two servants were frightened at what their master had just told them.
“The master ought not to heal the wounds of this white man,”
The old gardener said 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 answered politely. But she herself was also frightened, although she was not superstitious as the old man was. Could it ever be right to help an enemy?
Nevertheless, she told Yumi to bring the hot water to – the room where the white man was.
She went ahead and slid back the partitions”. Sadao was not, there yet. Yumi, following, put down her wooden bucket”. Then she went over to the white man.
“I have never washed a white man,” she said, “and I will not wash one so dirty now.”
Hana cried, “You will do what your master commands you!”
“My master ought not to command me to wash the enemy,” Yumi said stubbornly.
The look upon Yumi’s round dull face made Hana feel afraid.
What if she 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.”
Yumi left the room. But this left Hana alone with the white man. She might have been too afraid to stay, but her anger at Yumi gave her courage”.
“Stupid Yumi!” she said. “Is this anything but a man? A wounded helpless man!”
She untied the rags that covered the white man. She dipped a small clean towel into the steaming hot water and washed his face carefully. 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 disappearing and she was anxious again. She got up and wiped her hands. She then put the quilt over him so he wouldn’t be cold.
Sadao!” she called softly.
He had been about to come in when she called. 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 and put his instruments out upon it.
“Bring towels,” he said.
She went obediently, but anxiously now, to the shelf and took out the towels.
“Help me turn him,” Sadao 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.
“Yes,” she said.
He did not seem to hear.
“You will have to give the anesthetic if he needs it,” he said.
“I?” she repeated. “But I never have!”
“It is easy enough,” he said impatiently.
The blood began to flow more quickly. He looked into the wound.
“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 he has lost much blood.”
At this moment Hana choked’. He looked up and saw her face – the color of sulfur.
“Don’t faint,” he said sharply.
He did not put down his instrument. “If I stop now, the man will surely die.”
She clapped her hands to her mouth” jumped 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 she had never seen an operation. The fact that he couldn’t go to his wife made him impatient6 and angry with the white man.
“This man,” he thought, “there is no reason under heaven why he should live.”
He worked quickly. The man moaned.
“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. She had not stopped even to smooth back her hair.
“Where is the anesthetic?” she asked in a clear voice.
“It is good that you came back,” he said. “This fellow is beginning to wake up.”
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 nose,” Sadao said working as he spoke.
“When he breathes badly”, move it away a little.” She looked into the sleeping face of the young American. 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. In the newspapers the reports’“ always said 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’. No one talked about that after he fought such a victorious battle in Manchuria.
If a man like that could be so cruel to a woman in his power, wouldn’t he be cruel to one like this?
She hoped anxiously that this young man had not been tortured. It was at this moment that she saw 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, gently. He was familiar with every atom of this human body. His old American professor of anatomy had made sure he would have that knowledge.
“Ignorance of the human body is the surgeon’s cardinal sin, sirs!” he had shouted at his classes year after year.
“It is not quite at the kidney, my friend,” Sadao whispered. It was his habit to whisper to the patient during an operation.
He always called his patients “my friend,” and so now he did, forgetting that this was his enemy.
Then quickly, with the cleanest and most precise incision, the bullet was out. The man quivered, but he was still unconscious.
He said a few English words.
“Guts,” he muttered, choking. “They got my guts …”
“Sadao!” Hana cried sharply.
“Hush”,” Sadao said.
The man went again into such a deep silence. Sadao took up his wrist” hating the touch of it. Yes, there was still a weak pulse 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 thrust a needle into the patient’s left arm. Then, putting down the needle, he took the man’s wrist, again. The pulse under his finger grew stronger.
“This man will live in spite of all,” he said to Hana and sighed.
The young man woke. He was weak and terrified when he realized where he was. Hana felt she had to apologize. She served him herself, for none of the servants would enter the room.
“Don’t be afraid,” she begged him softly.
“How come?… you speak English?” he gasped.
“I was in America for a long time,” she replied. She saw that he wanted to say something, but he could not. She 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, but wanting 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 was white.
“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,”
“What are you going to do with me?” the boy asked. He looked just barely seventeen. “Are you going to hand me over?”
For a moment Sadao did not answer. He finished examination and then pulled the silk quilt over the man. “I do not know myself what I shall do with you,” He said. “Of course, I ought 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 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.
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 in America for so long that we have forgotten to think of our own country first. They think we like Americans.”
“It is not true,” Sadao said, “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.
As the days passed the servants were as polite as ever, but their eyes were cold.
“It is clear what our master ought to do,” the old gardener’ said one morning. “My old master’s son knows very well what he ought to do,” he said. “When the man was so near death, why did he not let him bleed?”
“The young master is so proud that he can save a life that he saves any life,” the cook said.
“It is the children of whom we must think,” Yumi said sadly. “What will happen to them if their father is punished as a traitor?”
They did not try to hide what they said from Hana, who was arranging flowers on the veranda. She knew they wanted her to hear what they said. She knew that they were right. But there was another part of her which she herself could not understand. It was not that she liked the prisoner. She had come to think of him as a prisoner. She had not liked him even yesterday when he had said, “Anyway, let me tell you that my name is Tom.”
As for Sadao, every day he examined” the wound” carefully. The last stitches had been pulled out” this morning. In a fortnight he would 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. He typed: “On the twenty-first day of February an escaped prisoner … “. 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. First, the servants were leaving. When Hana got up in the morning nothing had been done. The house had not been cleaned and the food had not been prepared, and she knew what it meant. She was afraid, even terrified, but her pride as a mistress would not allow her to show it. Instead, when they came into the kitchen, 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.
Yumi cried because of the children.
“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 no matter how much the baby cried.
She made the breakfast and Sadao helped with the children. Neither of them spoke of the servants. 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, “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 long3. You must 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 said. “I feel I ought to thank you, doctor, for saving my life.”
“Don’t thank me too early,” Sadao said coldly. He saw the terror again in the boy’s eyes. The scars on his neck were bright red for a moment. Those scars! What were they? Sadao did not ask.
In the afternoon the second thing happened. Hana, working hard, saw a messenger come to the door in official uniform.
Her hands went weak and she could not breathe. The servants must have told already. She ran to Sadao, gasping”, unable to speak. But by then the messenger had simply followed her through the garden and there he stood. She pointed at him anxiously “.
Sadao looked up from his book.
“What is it?” he asked the messenger, and then he got up, 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 said. “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 resting for a moment. She was more tired from her fright3 than from work.
“I thought they had come to arrest you,” she said.
He looked down into her anxious eyes. “I must get rid of this man for your sake,” he said in a worried voice. “Somehow I must get rid of him.”
“Of course,” the General said weakly, “I understand. 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 since I operated on him with such success…”
“Yes, yes,” the General said. “It only makes me feel you are even more important to me. It is clear that you can save anyone.
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 face showed he was in deep in thought.
“You cannot be arrested”,” the General said, closing his eyes. “What if 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 General suddenly felt weak. “It is very unfortunate” that this man was 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. What if I sent 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 for you to leave the white man’s room open while he sleeps?”
“Certainly it would be very natural,” Sadao agreed. “In fact, it is left open every night.”
“Good,” the General said, yawning. “They are very good assassins. If you like, I can even have them take the body away.”
Sadao thought about this. “That perhaps would be best, Excellency,” he agreed, thinking of Hana.
He left the General 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. She would not like the idea of assassins in the house. Of course, such persons were necessary in a country like Japan. How else could rulers deal with those who were against them?
He struggled to think logically as he went into the room where the American was in bed. But to his surprise he found the young man out of bed, getting ready to go into the garden.
“What is this!” he exclaimed. “Who gave you permission to leave your room?”
“I’m not used to waiting for permission,” Torn said happily. “I feel pretty good again! But will the muscles on this side always feel stiff?”
“Do they?” Sadao asked, surprised. He forgot about everything else.
“Now I thought I had taken care of that,” he said. He lifted the man’s shirt, and looked at the scar”. “Massage” may do it,” he 30 said, “if exercise does not.”
“It won’t bother me much,” the young man said. His face was thin under the blond beard”. “Say, doctor, I’ve got something I want to say to you. If I hadn’t met a Jap” like you-well, I wouldn’t be alive today. I know that.”
Sadao bowed but he could not speak.
“Sure, I know that,” Tom went on warmly. “I guess if all the Japs were like you there wouldn’t have been a war,”
“Perhaps,” Sadao said with difficulty. “And now I think you had better go back to bed.”
He helped the boy back into bed and then bowed. “Good night,” he said.
Sadao, slept badly that night. Time and time again’ he woke, thinking he heard footsteps.
The next morning he went into the guest room. When he opened the door he saw at once that last night was not the night.
There on the pillow was the blond head. He could hear the peaceful breathing of sleep and he closed the door again quietly.
“He is asleep,” he told Hana. “He is almost well to sleep like that.”
“What shall we do with him?” Hana whispered.
Sadao shook his head. “I must decide in a day or two,” he promised. But certainly, he thought, the second night must be the night. There was a wind that night, and he listened to its sounds. Hana woke too. “Shouldn’t we go and close the sick man’s partition?” she asked. “No,” Sadao said. “He is able to do it for himself.”
But the next morning the American was still there.
Then the third night of course must be the night. The wind changed to quiet rain. Sadao slept a little better, but he woke at the sound of a crash5 and leaped to his feet.
“What was that?” Hana cried. The baby woke at her voice and began to cry. “I must go and see.” But he held her and would not let her move. “Sadao,” she cried, “what is the matter with you?” “Don’t go,” he said, “don’t go!”
He was terrified and stood breathless, waiting. There was only silence. Hana took the child in her arms and together they crept back into the bed, the baby between them.
Yet, when he opened the door of the guest room in the morning, there was the young man. He was very gay and had already washed and was now on his feet. He had asked for a razor yesterday and had shaved himself. Today there was a faint color in his cheeks.
“I am well,” he said joyously.
Sadao drew his kimono around his tired body. He could not, he decided suddenly, go through another night. It was not that he cared for this young man’s life. No, simply it was not worth the strain.
“You are well,” Sadao agreed. He lowered his voice.
“You are so well I think if I put my boat on the shore tonight, with food and extra clothes in it, you might be able to rows to that little island’ not far from the coast’! Nobody lives there. You could stay there until you saw a Korean fishing boat pass by. They pass quite near the island.”
The young man stared” at him, slowly understanding. “So I have to?” he asked.
“I think so,” Sadao said gently. “You understand-it is known that you are here.”
The young man nodded. “Okay,” he said simply.
Sadao did not see him again until evening. As soon as it was dark he had brought the boat down to the shore. He put food, bottles of water and two quilts into it. There was no moon and he worked without a flashlight.
When he came to the house he entered as though he were just back from his work, and so Hana knew nothing. “Yumi was here today,” she said as she served his supper. “She cried over the baby,” she went on with a sigh, “She misses” him so.”
“The servants will come back as soon as the foreigner” is gone,” Sadao said.
He went into the guest room” that night. He carefully checked the American’s temperature. the wound and his heart and pulse.
“I realize you are saving my life again,” he told Sadao.
“Not at all,” Sadao said, “it is only inconvenient to have you here any longer.” He had hesitated” about giving the man a flashlight”. But he had decided to give it to him after all. It was a small one, his own, which he used at night when he was called.
“If your food runs out before you catch a boat,” he said, “signal me two flashes just when the sun goes down. Do not signal in darkness, for it will be seen. If you are all right but still there, signal me once. You will find fish easy to catch but you must eat them raw. A fire would be seen.”
“Okay,” the young man said.
He was dressed now in the Japanese clothes that Sadao had given him, and at the last moment Sadao wrapped a black cloth about his blond head.
“NOW,” Sadao said.
The young American, without a word, shook Sadao’s hand warmly. Then he walked down the step into the darkness of the garden. Once-twice-Sadao saw his light flash to find his way. But that would not be suspected” He waited until there was one more flash. Then he closed the partition. That night he slept.
“You say the man escaped?” the General asked faintly. He had been operated upon a week before. It was an emergency operation and Sadao had been called in the night. For twelve hours Sadao had not been sure the General would live. Then the old man had begun to breathe deeply again and to demand food.
Sadao had not been able to ask about the assassins”. So far as he knew they had never come. The servants had returned, and Yumi had cleaned the guest room thoroughly” to get the white man’s smell out of it. Nobody said anything.
But after a week Sadao felt the General was well enough for him to talk about the prisoner.
“Yes, Excellency, he escaped.” Sadao said in a way that showed that he had not said all he might have said, but that he did not want to disturb the General. But the old man opened his eyes suddenly.
“That prisoner,” he said with some energy, “did I not promise you I would kill him for you.”
“You did, Excellency,” Sadao said.
“Well, well!” the old man said in a tone of amazement”, “so I did! But you see, I was suffering” a lot. The truth is, I thought of nothing but myself. In short, I forgot my promise to you.”
“I wondered’, Your Excellency,” Sadao whispered.
“It was certainly very careless of me,” the General said. “But you understand it was not because I am not a good Japanese.” He looked anxiously at his doctor. “If the matter should come out, you would understand that, wouldn’t you?”
“Certainly, Your Excellency,” Sadao said. He suddenly understood that he had the General in the palm of his hand. And therefore he himself was perfectly safe. “I can swear to your loyalty, Excellency,” he said to the old General, “and to your zeal against the enemy.”
“You are a good man,” the General said and closed his eyes. “You will be rewarded.”
But Sadao, searching the darkness in the sea that night, had his reward. There was no flash of light. No one was on the island. His prisoner was gone. Sadao was sure he was safe.
He stood for a moment on the veranda’“ looking out to the sea from where the young man had come that other night. Into his head, although without reason, there came other white faces he had known. There was the professor at whose house he had met Hana. He remembered his old teacher of anatomy and his fat landlady”.
It had been hard to find a place to live in America because he was a Japanese. The Americans were full of prejudice. It had been hard to live among such feelings. It was hard because he knew that as a Japanese he was superior to Americans. How he had hated the ignorant and dirty old woman who had agreed to rent him a room in her miserable home!
He had once tried to be grateful to her, but it was too difficult. In his last year, she had taken care of him when he was sick. He thought she was disgusting, even though she was kind to him. But then, white people were disgusting, of course. It was a relief to be openly at home with them at last. Now he remembered the young, tired face of his prisoner-white and disgusting.
“Strange,” he thought, “I wonder why I could not kill him?”