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Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

The Heart of Hyacinth, an electronic edition

by Onoto Watanna [Watanna, Onoto, 1879-1954]

date: 1903
source publisher: Harper & Brothers
collection: Genre Fiction

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HYACINTH did not slacken her pace until she was before her home. Then, with trembling fingers, she undid the gate, sped up the little adobe path, and burst breathlessly into the guest-chamber, where Aoi was quietly and pensively arranging blossoms in a vase.

Aoi turned with mild surprise at the girl's entry, but when she saw her face the mother hastened towards her.

"Why, something has affrighted the little one. Aré moshi, moshi. Well, she should not have followed the strangers. There, tell it all to the mother."

She drew the trembling girl to the soft-padded floor and placed her arm reassuringly about her. But Hyacinth seized both her foster-mother's hands | | 142 page image : 142 THE HEART OF HYACINTH and held them in a spasmodic, almost fierce, clasp.

"They going to come for me! Oh yes, yes. They will take me away. Oh, what can I do? What--They tell me--Oh-h--"

She broke down utterly, her throat choked with her sobs.

"Why, what does the little one mean?"

She could not respond. She clung to Aoi fearfully.

There were heavy, quick steps coming up the garden-path. Then a pause before the door. The next moment loud raps.

The young girl's trembling fear communicated itself to Aoi, and the two now clung together fearfully, listening, with strained ears, to every sound. They heard the shuffling sound of Mumè's feet in the hall, then the gruff, deep voices of the callers, and a few moments later the men were ushered into the guest-chamber of Madame Aoi.

| | 143 page image : 143 THE HEART OF HYACINTH

Their mission was soon explained. They understood that seventeen years ago an American lady had died in her home, which was then in a village on the shore of the bay. She, Madame Aoi, they understood, had adopted the child, having failed to find the father. He, on his part, had only just succeeded in tracing the child's whereabouts. It was believed that she, Madame Aoi, was still in possession of her.

Although Aoi made no denial, she made no admission. She looked at the girl she had brought up as her own child with dry eyes and quivering lips. The young girl looked back at her with piteous, imploring eyes. Aoi closed her lips and refused even to answer the strangers. But after a space the girl herself stepped towards them and, raising her face defiantly, said:

"Foreigners, you make ridiculous mistake. Yet, supposing you do not make mistake, what will you do?"

"Send immediately for the father."

| | 144 page image : 144 THE HEART OF HYACINTH

"And then?"

"He is your legal and natural guardian. You, of course, would have to go with him."

The lawyer did not hesitate to pronounce her the one for whom they had sought.

"Leave--Japan?" she asked, her bosom heaving.

"You are not Japanese. You see, I take it for granted you are the girl in question."

"Yes," she said, "I am that girl in question. My mother's clothes--they are Engleesh. Excellencies do not make mistake. I--I--foolish to deny that. But--but what he--that father going to do--if I will not go with him?"

"You are under age," said the lawyer. "He can force you."

"Force me to leave my home?" she said, softly. "Force me to leave Japan? No!"

"You belong to his home. It is some | | 145 page image : 145 THE HEART OF HYACINTH fatal and horrible miscarriage of fate that has cast your destiny among this alien people."

"Not alien!" she said, fiercely. "My people--my--" She broke off, and almost staggered towards Aoi, against whom she leaned, as if for support.

"Go away, go!" she cried to them. "Excuse our rudeness, but--but, alas, we are in sorrow."

She sank to the ground, burying her face and sobbing piteously.

Aoi stepped falteringly towards them.

"Good-bye, excellencies. Pray you come to-morrow instead. We will be in good health then. Good-bye."

Silently the two men left the house. They were quite far down the street before either spoke again. Then:

"Good Heavens! It is grotesque, impossible, horrible," said the younger man.

"She is more Japanese than anything else."

| | 146 page image : 146 THE HEART OF HYACINTH

"But her face--it--by George! I haven't words to express myself. I thought to render a splendid service to the little girl, yet now--well--I feel like a--criminal."

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