grace attached to a death by hari-kari, and in former times its occurrence was almost an every-day affair. One writer says, 'The sons of all persons of quality exercise themselves in their youth, for five or six years, with a view to performing the operation, in case of need, with gracefulness and dexterity; and they take as much pains to acquire this accomplishment as youth among us to become elegant dancers or skilful horsemen; hence the profound contempt of death which they imbibe in early years.' Curious custom, isn't it, according to our notions?"
Both the boys thought it was, and said they were glad that they were not born in a country where such ideas of honor prevailed.
The Doctor told them that an old story, which he had no doubt was[Pg 223] true, since it accorded with the Japanese ideas of honor, would be a very good illustration of the subject. It was concerning two high officers of the court who met one day on a staircase, and accidentally jostled each other. One was a very quick-tempered man, and dema