Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
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

Table of Contents

<< chapter 24 chapter 29 >>

Display page layout

XXV

THE letters brought the mother back to her home. She had altered strangely in the two months she had been in the city. Always slim, she seemed now a mere shadow of a woman--slight and frail as if a breath would blow her away. But the thin face still retained its gentle sweetness of expression and the eyes held that smile of hope.

The children were glad to see her. Laughing and crying they clung to her.

"Why," she said, as if she had only just realized it, "what a lot there is to live for!"

| | 220 page image : 220     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM

"Seven of us, mother," said Marion; "no, eight!--for there's Gozo, too."

She took no one into her confidence, but began, in secret, a correspondence with the Minister of War. All of her inquiries were answered. In Japan her husband had not been without high influence, and his heroism had made his name revered by all Japanese. Hence the requests of his widow were given the greatest attention. Soon they had reached the highest authorities. Orders went straight to the field of action. At last there came a day when she knew that a special search was to be made for her husband--dead or alive.

The Russians would tell if he were with them. If not, then, at least, his body must be found. Such were the orders issued from a high place.

She was like a flower opening to | | 221 page image : 221     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM the sunshine and spring rain. The color came back to her pale cheeks and lips. Back also came the light of health to her eyes. She moved like a new person.

The assurance that no stone would be left unturned to learn her husband's fate, and her strange faith that he was still alive, invigorated her. The change effected in her rapidly spread to the entire household. Gloom slipped out of the door and sunshine ventured in with summer. And this is as it should be in the house of children.

While the cherry blossoms were still flying like myriad pink-and-white birds in the skies and all the mossy ground was white with the flowery carpet blown from the trees, the family went out once again on a flower picnic.

In the same little flowery gowns, | | 222 page image : 222     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM the sleeve-wings weighted with petals, they started gayly for the picnic grounds where "father" had taken them only a year before. A gentle melancholy which pervaded even the youngest of them, at the memory of that absent one, was dispersed with the mother's thought!

"Father would have you happy to-day, children. This is his day, darlings. So be happy."

And so they were. They played the games popular in Japan, engaged in the fascinating sport of kite-flying, listened with eager ears to the tales of the grandfather, and then, sleepy, homeward bound in their jinrikishas lazily attacked passing festival-makers with the petals, to be smothered in turn with the flowery shower.

When they reached home it was gloaming. Norah made the discovery that most of the children were asleep.

| | 223 page image : 223     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM

"Shure," said the girl, "they're all babbies, mam, just look at the darlints," and she indicated the heads of the three little girls all resting asleep on the back of the seat. Marion was in the middle with a hand of each step-sister in her own. Mrs. Kurukawa stood silently looking at them, then Norah interrupted her thoughts again.

"Did you think, ma'am, I'd have the heart to leave them?"

"I hoped not, Norah," she answered, gently, "but I know it has been hard for you, and you are a good girl."

She helped the Irish girl lift the sleeping Juji from the carriage. As a maid from the house came to the jinrikisha Mrs. Kurukawa turned to direct her to assist Norah. Something in the girl's face startled her. The usual impassive expression was | | 224 page image : 224     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM gone, and in the dim light of the evening her mistress saw the silent tears rolling down her face.

"Why are you crying, Norah?" she said. "Are you in trouble?"

The girl shook her head.

"What is it? You are unhappy about something."

Suddenly the girl slipped to the ground and buried her face in the folds of her mistress's kimono. Madame Sano drew her almost roughly away.

"What is it?" she demanded, harshly, in Japanese. "It is unseemly to act so in the okusama's presence. Keep your troubles for your own chamber."

"But I have no troubles," said the girl, rising and wiping her eyes with her sleeves. "I w-weep because I am happy."

She brought the last word out with | | 225 page image : 225     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM such hysterical vehemence that she woke the older sleepers. They sat up, looking about them, startled from their dreams. But Mrs. Kurukawa shook the girl by the arm. Her voice was hoarse.

"What is it, Norah? Tell me quickly!"

For answer the girl turned towards the house and pointed to the silent figure standing there by the doorway. Even in the twilight the Japanese children knew him. They jumped tumblingly from the jinrikishas and ran towards him, calling his name aloud:

"Gozo! Gozo! Gozo!"

Mrs. Kurukawa turned and blindly followed the children.

He put the clinging children aside from him and advanced a step towards her. Then suddenly he stopped short, standing uncertainly. She | | 226 page image : 226     A JAPANESE BLOSSOM spoke with a note of irresistible appeal in her voice.

"Oh, you bring me news of my husband--your father!" she said.

He made a sort of smothered sound; then, with a movement strangely reminiscent of his father, he seized her hand suddenly in his own and fell on his knees before her.

"Good news--for good woman!" he said.

"He is alive!" she cried.

"In Japan--the hospital at Saseho. I unworthily brought him home on--"

He noticed that her hand fell feebly from his. Then he caught her as she reeled. She had fainted.

Illustration from Watanna's A Japanese Blossom.
<< chapter 24 chapter 29 >>