CHAPTER ONESLOWLY, the mist lifted and the sea which hitherto had been a choppy grey changedmiraculously to an enchanting blue, giving Laurel an exciting glimpse of Fujiyama as the shipapproached the superb harbour. Oriental sampans came into view, their decks alive withslanting-eyed, yellow-skinned little men.Then the big ships from foreign ports mingling with those flying the flag of the RisingSun. From the deck of the ship, Laurel's first impression of Japan was that of a lovelysiren gaily executing the dance of the seven veils.Provocatively, tantalizingly, she discarded them one by one to reveal scenes of incrediblebeauty, each one more lovely than the last. Lightly, the veils of gauze mist were tossedaway on the breeze to frolic and curve around the branches of pine trees gracing thedelicate lines of the hills now touched to gold by the sun.Laurel could feel its warmth through her linen suit as it blazed down on to theinnumerable islands caressed lovingly by the inland sea. On one oasis of greenery abeautiful old temple pricked the blue sky in isolated splendour with the liberating breezewhisked away the last of the misty veils to frolic around the fishing fleet setting out infull sail.Their junk sails, held together by intricate interlacing of ropes, strained against thebreeze, a picturesque craft gliding over the surface of the water like silver veinedbutterflies on blue glass.The scene photographed itself on Laurel's mind with an endearing clarity. Everything wasso fresh, so young, so gay, so utterly different from anything she had ever seen that shefound herself smiling at the yellow faces beneath mushroom hats bobbing up and downindustriously between bales of rice straw on the quay.With quickening heartbeats she scanned the crowd awaiting the ship's arrival and theheat rose in her cheeks. There he was! A wild thrill shot through her. He had not changed.He was still larger than life with a careless grace about him, a quality which, while itarrested and charmed, also gave confidence. He looked tanned and very fit, unlike Laurel,who was pale, tired and a little overwhelmed upon reaching a country that alternatelycharmed and frightened her by its strangeness.