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CHAPTER III HE CONFIDES IN ME
In this way I came to have a new companion and dear confidant with whom I lived happily for many months. I soon became accustomed to him, but I must own to you that during the first two or three days, when I wasn’t looking at him, I still thought it all a dream. As soon as I had put him to rest I went to sleep myself (the noise of the rain was so soothing), and when I awoke I was so sure that Fiam was a dream that I forgot him entirely. But the little boy was near me on the floor and before long I heard rapid tapping on the thin wooden sides. Fiam was knocking.

I opened his prison, and out he came. He took the cotton from his head carefully, so as not to break the phosphorus, and sat down on top of a slipper that was near him.

“Glad to see you,” I said.

[30]

“Thank you,” he replied in his feeble voice.

As I leaned toward him he shouted at me:

“Put me on your white wall; we can talk then more easily.”

“What wall?” I asked, looking all around me. “I don’t see any.”

“I mean the battlement that defends your neck. Put me on top of that. I shall be near your ear.”

Then I understood what the little match meant. The walls of the Japanese fortresses are painted white, and he had taken my collar for a bulwark to defend my neck. I explained, and put him astride of the collar.

“You are right,” he said to me as he sat serenely on the edge. “I find now that it isn’t a wall. But you see I don’t know what is little and what is big. I am so small myself that I can’t make things out. You [31] seem to me larger than Fuji-Yama, the sacred mountain.”

We began to chat. He talked so well that I listened enchanted. I already loved him. It gave me pleasure to feel on my neck the light touch of his little leg and the caress of his wooden arms on my ear calling my attention when he had something important to tell me. This little trick of his was the cause of some unfortunate incidents.

Occasionally when I was absent-minded and thinking of something else, I would feel my ear being tickled and I would wave my hand as if brushing away an insect, and that would throw poor Fiam to the floor from a height that was really dangerous to him.

That first day, sitting astride the “battlement,” he gave me some confidences. He told about his past so sorrowfully that it made me very sad. It was the only time Fiam ever entertained me with the story of his life in the tree; but if I should live a thousand years I could never forget a single word of it.
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