- chapter: XVIII
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A MONTH and a half had gone by since the American attorney had cabled to his client in Europe of the success of his mission. Richard Lorrimer's immediate response had been that he was leaving at once for Japan. Any day now he might arrive in Sendai.
In the meanwhile, Aoi sought to comfort and strengthen the despairing Hyacinth. She contrived to break up their retirement, and sought to divert her mind by taking her out each day. The girl had acquired a peculiar loathing and horror for the "white people," of whom the little town of Sendai had now quite a plague.
The women went about in hideous garments, with what appeared to be heavy flower-baskets upon their heads. | | 170 The men gazed at her and made insinuating efforts to speak to her. Hyacinth was sure all these foreigners carried knives, because they were constantly chipping off pieces of the tombs and the temples. They were sacrilegious beasts, she thought, who had not reverence even for the dead. Everywhere in the city she found them. Sometimes they were even on the heights of Matsushima, where they laughed and talked in loud voices to one another under the very shadows of the holy temples. She hated them all, she told herself. Most of all she loathed this man who was said to be her father, who had broken her mother's heart and married a woman her mother despised, and who now sought to drag her by force from those she loved.
Yet the visiting foreigners in Sendai possessed a more friendly spirit towards her than she knew. Knowing her history, they were prompted by pity and curiosity to seek an acquaintance, which was always met by the darkest and | | 171 haughtiest of frowns and disdainful glances. When they addressed her, she stared stonily before her. Once, when a too-curious woman persisted in annoying her with numerous questions, Hyacinth had raised her voice suddenly and shrieked to a score of little urchins playing in the street. In an instant they had rushed into the road, whence they threw sticks and mud at the indignant foreigner. Whereat Hyacinth had burst into a wild peal of shrill, defiant laughter. Then she had rushed headlong into the house, where she flung herself on the floor, giving vent to a tempest of tears.
In these days she could not bear Aoi out of her sight, and even old Mumè received an unusual share of affection. The thought of leaving them caused her deep sorrow. The passage of the days added not one whit to her resignation. If she must go, she would go battling at every step. But, before the time should come, maybe the gods would intervene, and she might die.| | 172
Strangely enough, in these days she forgot, or refused to remember, all she had learned at the mission-house. Instead, she would climb wearily the long way to one of the temples on the hill, where she sought the old priest who kept the fire of the gods perpetually burning, and bitterly she poured out at his feet all the anguish of her heart.
She was a Japanese girl, she asserted--Japanese in thought, in feeling, in heart, in soul. How could she leave her beloved home and people to go away with these cold, white ones, whom she could never, never learn to know or understand.
And the priest promised to give her counsel and help when the time should come. From day to day he would admonish:
"A little longer--wait! The gods will find a way."
But the days passed with more than natural speed of time. Then came a telegram to Sendai. The lawyer, Mr. | | 173 Knowles, brought it to Aoi's house. It was from Mr. Lorrimer. He had arrived in Tokyo. He would start at once for Sendai.
Then desperation seized upon Hyacinth. Unmindful of the pleadings of Aoi, she besought the Yamashiro family for help.
Now, the Yamashiro family had always been ashamed of the fact that Hyacinth was half English. They had more than once declared that if she had been wholly so a union with their son would have been an impossible thing. Consequently, Madame Yamashiro received the young girl frigidly. She considered it both hoydenish and rude for a girl to pay a visit to her betrothed's parents alone. But the moment Hyacinth began to speak, Madame Yamashiro became so frightened that she trembled.
The girl, in a breath, told her of the discovery of her true parentage. She implored Madame Yamashiro to hasten | | 174 her marriage with Yoshida, so that she might not be forced to leave Japan. For could this foreign father then tear her from her husband? No, all the laws of Japan would prevent him.
So rapid was her utterance that one word tripped against another.
In her agitation, Madame Yamashiro thought the girl insane. She clapped her hands so loudly that half a dozen maidens came to answer at once.
"The master!" she cried; and never had the Yamashiro servants seen their mistress so perturbed.
Not a word did she speak to Hyacinth after that until her husband and son entered the room; then faithfully she repeated the words of the girl.
Like a little stupid animal the boy's round face became vacant. He stared at the girl out of a pair of small, amazed eyes. She tapped her foot impatiently upon the floor, and then turned to the father, her two little hands outstretched.
"Oh, good Yamashiro, will you not | | 175 hasten this marriage? I am ready, willing, to wed at once--to-day--this minute."
"If it be true," said Yamashiro, heavily, "that you are an Engleesh, it is quite impossible. My son could not marry with such."
"But we are betrothed," she cried, piteously. "Yamashiro Yoshida is my affianced. Oh, you will not cast me off!"
She turned pitifully from one to the other. They were all quite silent. Then she spoke to Yoshida. Her voice was clear and hard.
"You--Yoshida, you would not cast me off? You swore you adored me. It is not my fault I am Engleesh. I am Japanese here."
She placed her hands over her heart. "If you will marry me," she said, "I will be Japanese altogether."
"My son," said Yamashiro the elder, "will obey his father's august will in all things."| | 176
The girl spoke slowly, scornfully.
"I make a fool of myself to come to you with such a request. I would not marry you, Yoshida--no, not though the white people killed me."
Drawing the doors sharply behind her, Hyacinth left the house unattended to the gate.
"Ah, what an escape we have had!" burst from Madame Yamashiro.
Her husband scowled.
Yoshida slowly moved to the shoji and stared out dimly at the little figure hurrying down the path.
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