V. THE NUN OF THE TEMPLE OF AMIDA
I waited first, with Manyemon, before the station, which is very near the temple. The train arrived; a military sentry ordered all spectators to quit the platform, and outside, in the street, police kept back the crowd, and stopped all traffic. After a few minutes, the battalions came, marching in regular column through the brick archway, - headed by a gray officer, who limped slightly as he walked, smoking a cigarette. The crowd thickened about us, but there was no cheering, not even speaking, - a hush broken only by the measured tramp of the passing troops. I could scarcely believe those were the same men I had seen going to the war; only the numbers on the shoulder-straps assured me of the fact. Sunburnt and grim the faces were; many had heavy beards. The dark blue winter uniforms were frayed and torn, the shoes worn into shapelessness; but the strong, swinging stride was the stride of the hardened soldier. Lads no longer these, but toughened men, able to face any troops in the world; men who had slaughtered and stormed; men who had also suffered many things which never will be written. The features showed neither joy nor pride; the quick-searching eyes hardly glanced at the welcoming flags, the decorations, the arch with its globe-shadowing hawk of battle, - perhaps because those eyes had seen too often the things which make men serious. (Only one man smiled as he passed; and I thought of a smile seen on the face of a Zouave when I was a boy, watching the return of a regiment from Africa, - a mocking smile, that stabbed.) Many of the spectators were visibly affected, feeling the reason of the change. But, for that, the soldiers were better soldiers now; and they were going to find welcome, and comforts, and gifts, and the great warm love of the people, - and repose thereafter, in their old familiar camps.
I said to Manyemon: "This evening they will be in Osaka and Nagoya. They will hear the bugles calling; and they will think of comrades who never can return."
The old man answered, with simple earnestness: "Perhaps by Western people it is thought that the dead never return. But we cannot so think. There are no Japanese dead who do not return. There are none who do not know the way. From China and from Chosen, and out of the bitter sea, all our dead have come back, - all! They are with us now. In every dusk they gather to hear the bugles that called them home. And they will hear them also in that day when the armies of the Son of Heaven shall be summoned against Russia."
(1) The total number of Japanese actually killed in battle, from the fight at A-san to the capture of the Pescadores, was only 739. But the deaths resulting from other causes, up to as late a date as the 8th of June, during the occupation of Formosa, were 3,148. Of these, 1,602 were due to cholera alone. Such, at least, were the official figures as published in the Kobe Chronicle.
(2) At the close of the great naval engagement of the 17th of September, 1894, a hawk alighted on the fighting-mast of the Japanese cruiser Takachiho, and suffered itself to be taken and fed. After much petting, this bird of good omen was presented to the Emperor. Falconry was a great feudal sport in Japan, and hawks were finely trained. The hawk is now likely to become, more than ever before in Japan, a symbol of victory.