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Emory Women Writers Resource Project

A Japanese Blossom, an electronic edition

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

date: 1906
source publisher: Harper & Brothers
collection: Genre Fiction

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XIV

THE farewell breakfast was as merry a one as they could make it under the circumstances. To please the father, it was served in the ceremonious Japanese fashion peculiar to such a time. There were hot rice and freshly fried fish, fruit, persimmons and oranges, and clear, delicious tea. Everything, in fact, there was to tempt the appetite at this time, when the appetite might fail them. Even Mrs. Kurukawa, whose white face showed a night of wakefulness, ate some of the crisp, inviting fish, and drank the tea with grateful relish. Mr. Kurukawa ap- | | 134 page image : 134      A JAPANESE BLOSSOM peared all cheerfulness. He made them gifts. Each of the family had an exchange gift for him. Smiling whimsically, he looked at the little pile.

"Do you suppose I can find room to take them to the front with me?" he asked his wife, jocularly.

"Oh yes, yes," she said, earnestly, "for I advised them all to get you something you could use there."

"Let me see." He began going over the heap of presents. There were needles and thread from Plum Blossom. Iris had bought a tiny pair of scissors. Taro's gift was a little drinking-cup which folded up, a foreign novelty. Billy gave a jackknife, such a one as he had long saved to buy for himself. A little Bible was Marion's gift. The grandparents gave the most sensible gift--certain clothes he would appreciate, compactly rolled in a small bundle, | | 135 page image : 135     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM and consisting of Japanese underwear and sandals. He would find them grateful after long use of the uniform. Juji had been permitted to choose his own gift.

"Buy something for father," said Plum Blossom in the store. Then Juji had pointed with a fat finger at something bright. It proved to be a silk handkerchief. Even Norah and the baby had gifts for him. A pin the Irish girl had prized much, since it had been given her by an old sweetheart, and which bore in twisted letters of silver the legend, "Remember me," was the nurse's tribute. The baby's gift Mrs. Kurukawa had chosen--a leather folder containing the photographs of the entire family. Her own gift she put upon his finger, a ring he had given her. "Bring it back to me," she said, and he promised that he would.

| | 136 page image : 136     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM

The parting took place on the threshold. It was not similar to that of most Japanese farewells, for Mr. Kurukawa embraced his little girls and his wife, and they clung about his neck and kissed him, while Marion, because she could not keep back her tears, rushed into the house to hide them.

The boys, Billy, Taro, and Juji, were allowed to go with him to the train. As Gozo had done, Mr. Kurukawa carried Juji on his shoulder.

The little boys waved their flags as the train drew out, and shouted at the top of their voices.

"Banzai! Banzai! Banzai Dai Nippon!"

They were silent as they made their way homeward. Even Billy, the garrulous, found he could not speak with such a great lump chok- | | 137 page image : 137     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM ing his throat. When they reached the house they found all the blinds drawn. Suspecting that the "females," as Taro called them, had retired to weep in their rooms, Taro drew Billy towards the pond.

"Let's play," said he.

Billy shook his head.

"Play fight," urged Taro. "I will be Admiral Togo--you be the Lussian admiral."

"Me a Russian!" cried Billy, fiercely.

"Yaes, because you loog jes' same."

At the insult Billy became purple. He shouted:

"I don't. Father says when I wear your old kimono I look Japanese. I'll be Togo. I'm the oldest."

Taro shook his head.

"I tell you what," said Billy. "Juji can be the Russian. See how | | 138 page image : 138     JAPANESE BLOSSOM sleepy and lazy he looks. Let's just duck him in the water and wake him up."

"He'll cry too much."

"Oh, the Russians all cry and pray and make a big noise, but they can't do anything after a Jap gets them. We won't really hurt Juji. He'll groan like a wounded Russian, and you can be a Red Cross Japanese doctor and make him better."

"All lide," said Taro.

So they began to play.

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