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Full text of "A Japanese blossom"

I 




THEY CALLED ACROSS MERRILY TO EACH OTHER 






A JAPANESE 
BLOSSOM 



by 
ONOTO WATANNA 

ILLUSTRATED BY 

L. W. ZIEGLER 




NEW YORK AND LONDON 
HARPER & BROTHERS 
PUBLISHERS M-C-M-V-I 



Copyright, 1906, by HARPER & BROTHERS. 

All rights reserved. 
Published October, 1906. 




ILLUSTRATIONS 

'THEY CALLED ACROSS MERRILY TO 

EACH OTHER" Frontispiece 

'MARION SAT ON A GIGANTIC MOSS- 
GROWN ROCK, LOOKING . ./AT 
THE CHILDREN IN THE FAMILY 
POND'! Facingp. 52 

'THE LITTLE WAITRESS BROUGHT 

HER SAMISEN, AND . . . BEGAN 

TO PLAY AND SING". . . . 
'HE SEIZED HER HAND SUDDENLY 

IN HIS OWN AND FELL ON HIS 

KNEES BEFORE HER". . 








A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



HTHE children sat in a little semi- 
1 circle about their grandmother, 
listening intently as she read to them 
the last letter from their father in 
America. Ever since they could re- 
member, his business as a tea mer- 
chant had taken him away from 
Japan on long visits to the foreign 
countries. His latest absence had 
continued for three years now, and 
little Juji born a short time after 
his departure had never seen him. 
As the grandmother finished the let- 
ter, the children instinctively looked 










^4-*' 

r*j 

JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

first of all at Juji, sitting there in 
placid indifference, stolidly sucking 
his thumb. Juji had ceased to be 
the baby of the Kurukawa family. 
Afar off in America a new, strange 
baby had been born, and had taken 
the place of Juji, just as its moth- 
er one year before had taken the 
ace of Juji's mother, who was 
dead. 

When the old grandmother, with 
whom they made their home, had 
gently broken the news to the chil- 
dren that their father had taken 
a new wife from the daughters of 
America, she had impressed upon 
them the seriousness of their duty 
to their new parent. They must 
love her as a mother, revere her as 
their father's wife, remember her 
with their father in their prayers, 
and endeavor to learn those things 

which would be pleasing to her. 
fj\t > ' ^ 

jT-k 













A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

Gozo, who was the eldest of the 
children he was seventeen years of 
age set his little brothers and sisters 
a bad example. He grew red with 
anger, allowing himself to be so over- 
come by his feelings that for a mo- 
ment he could not speak. Finally, 
he snapped his fingers and said, as 
his eyes blazed: 

"Very well. So my father has 
put a barbarian in my mother's 
place. I cannot respect him. There- 
fore I cannot further obey him. 
shall leave his house at once!" 

At these revolutionary words, hii 
old grandfather commanded him 
sternly to keep his place while he 
taught him a lesson. 

"To whom," asked the old man, 
"do you owe your existence, and 
therefore your first duty in life?" 

The hot-headed boy, who for a 




number of 



years had 
3 



had neither 













OSSOM 



father nor mother to guide him, 
answered, immediately: 

"To the Emperor I owe my exist- 
ence and duty, sir. He comes even 
before my father. Therefore, in leav- 
ing my father's house to enter the 
service of Ten-shi-sama [the Mikado] 
I am but doing my highest duty." 

The grandfather looked at the 
flushed face of the young boy. 

"You will enlist?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"You are too young, my boy." 

"I can pass for much older," said 
Gozo, proudly. 

"You are but seventeen," said his 
grandfather, quietly. 

The boy's heart heaved. 

"Life would be unbearable here," 
said he, "with such a change in the 
family." 

"Do not use such expressions be- 
fore your young brothers and sisters," 

4 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 
f 7 \ ' 

said the grandfather, sternly. "You 
almost make me think you are un- 
fit to be an elder brother." 

At this Gozo winced and became 
pale. He had always been proud of 
his position as the young master of 
the family. 

Then his grandmother spoke, and 
her words reached the heart of the 
boy. 

"Be not rash, my Gozo. Our 
dearest daughter, your mother, would 
have been the first to urge you to 
filial thought for your father." 

"Grandmother," cried the boy, "I 
can't bear " He flung his hand 
across his eyes as though to hide the 
tears. Now all the children began 
to weep in sympathy with their big 
brother. Miss Summer, the daugh- 
ter of their father's friend, set up 
a great wail, declaring between her 
sobs that never, never, never could 
''ffi. 








iSf. 



A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

she be induced to wash the feet or 
be the slave of a barbarian woman. 
For Summer, though but twelve 
years old, was some day to marry 
Gozo so their fathers had said 
and in Japan a daughter-in-law is 
under the command of the mother- 
in-law. 

By patience and reasoning, the 
grandparents at last exacted from 
Gozo a promise that he would not 
leave home until his step -mother 
came to Japan. It was possible she 
might never come. Gozo, the proud 
and stubborn, sullenly gave the prom- 
ise. During the months that fol- 
lowed, however, he seemed greatly 
changed in disposition. He became 
studious, quiet, given to gloomy 
moods, when he would lock himself 
up in his room and brood over what 
he considered the wrong and insult 
done to his mother's memory. He 
6 






MM 



A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



would have found it hard enough to 
bear if his father had married a 
Japanese woman, but the thought of 
an American mother overwhelmed 
him with dismay. He pictured to 
his young mind her influence upon 
his sisters Plum Blossom and Iris, 
twelve and eight years old respec- 
tively; in boyish indignation he saw 
her punishing his little ten-year-old 
brother Taro, who could not keep 
his face and hands clean nor keep 
his clothes whole. One night Gozo 
dreamed he saw his step -mother in 
the guise of a hated fox-woman sound- 
ly switching with a bamboo stick his 
little, fat, baby brother Juji. When 
he awoke in the middle of the night 
to find it only a dream, he got up 
from his couch, and, going to where 
Juji slept, carried him to his own 
bed. He held the little, warm body 
closely in his arms. Juji slept on, 
















A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

and snuggled down comfortably in his 
brother's arms for the rest of the night. 

It was the following morning that 
the letter had come from America 
telling of the birth of the new baby. 
As if this news were not bad enough, 
the father, unconscious of the resent- 
ment he had awakened, announced 
his intention of returning at once to 
Japan with his wife, the new baby, 
and his two young step-children, for 
he had married a young American 
widow. 

The children's faces wore a fright- 
ened expression as the grandmother 
read the letter aloud. Little Plum 
Blossom glanced stealthily at her 
brother; then suddenly, to the sur- 
prise of them all, she spoke up: 

"Well," said she, "Daikoku [god 
of fortune] is good. He has given us 
another sister. / shall make him a 
great offering this year." 
8 



- 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

Iris, who was a mere echo of her 
sister, ventured a little sing-song as- 
sent. 

"I shall make a big offering, too." 

Taro grinned apprehensively in 
the direction of his moody brother; 
then said, defiantly: 

"As for me, / shall beat every sin- 
gle day of the honorable year that 
barbarian step -brother"; for there 
was a little step-brother of the same 
age as Taro, and the latter, boylike, 
longed to try his powers upon him. 

Gozo ground his teeth together. 

"The gods only know," said he, 
"what you poor little ones will do. 
As for me, I shall not be here to bow 
to the barbarian. My time has come. 
The Emperor needs me." 

" Oh, please don't leave us, broth- 
er," said Iris, resting her face on his 
hand; "I shall die of fear if you are 
not here to help us defy her." . 
9 








PANESE BLOSSOM 

naren, hush!" cried the old 
grandmother. "Never did I dream 
I should hear such words from my 
children. Ah, had my beloved 
daughter lived, you little ones would 
have had more filial principles." 

"It is not right to distress grand- 
mother," said Plum Blossom, "and 
it is very wrong to speak evil of one 
we do not even know. I, for one, am 
going to to love the foreign devil!" 

"So am I," sobbed Iris, still caress- 
ing Gozo's hand, "b-but I shall hate 
her if she drives our Gozo away!" 

Gozo patted the little girl's head, 
but said nothing. 

Meanwhile, little Juji's thumb had 
fallen from his mouth. For some 
time he had been watching in per- 
plexed wonder the expressions upon 
the faces of his brothers and sisters. 
He could not decide in his small 
just what was troubling them 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

all; but troubled they surely were. 
The weeping Iris had finally decided 
Juji. Plainly something was wrong. 
The baby's lower lip, unnoticed by 
any one, had gradually been swelling 
out. Suddenly a gasp escaped him, 
the next moment the room resound- 
ed with his cries. When Juji cried, it 
seemed as if the very house shook. 
Though not often given to these 
tempestuous storms, he seemed fairly 
convulsed when once started upon 
one. He would lie on his back on 
the floor, stiffened out. First he 
would hold his breath, then gasp, 
then roar. Juji's crying could never 
be stopped until a pail of water was 
thrown in the face of the enraged 
child. This time, however, he be- 
came the object of intense com- 
miseration. The children felt that 
he had acquired somehow a sense of 
their common calamity. 










A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

The screaming child was alter- 
nately hugged and petted and fanned, 
until finally, his fat little legs kick- 
ing out in every direction, he was 
carried from the room by Gozo. 
Out in the garden, the big brother 
ducked him in the family pond. 
Kind travellers in Japan have made 
the extraordinary statement that 
Japanese children never cry. Cer- 
tainly they could never have heard 
Juji and there are many Jujis in 
Japan, just as there are in every 
country. 

Juji's crying fit broke up the little 
family council for that day, but he 
was the only member of the family 
who slept soundly that night. 

The little girls cried softly together, 
as they whispered under the great 
padded coverlid of their bed. Taro 
was quite feverish in his imaginative 
battles with his step-brother. 

12 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



As for Gozo, he sat up all night 
l n g> g az i n g with melancholy eyes at 
the stars, thinking himself the most 
miserable being on the face of the 
earth. He, too, like Juji, needed a 
little pail of something dashed upon 
him, and soon he was to have it! 











II 



H, dear, how I can ever bear 
this corset!" 

Plum Blossom subsided in a little, 
breathless heap on the floor. 

Early in the day both she and Iris 
had been dressed in their best a 
plum-colored crepe kimono for little 
Plum Blossom, and an iris-colored 
crSpe one for little Iris. Their hair 
had been carefully arranged in the 
pretty mode at this time fashionable 
for little girls in Japan. Flower or- 
naments glistened at the sides of the 
glossy coiffures. The grandmother 
had regarded them with pride when 
the maid brought them before her. 
14 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"Certainly," said slie, "your father 
and mother will be proud to see you." 

" And we have a great surprise, too, 
for her," said Iris, her bright eyes 
dancing. *\^. 

Plum Blossom put a plump little 
hand over her sister's mouth. 

"Hush! Not even grandmother 
shall know yet." 

Grandmother smiled knowingly. 

"And now," said she, "can you 
say all the big English words you 
remember?" 

"Yes, yes," cried Iris, excitedly. 
At once she began to shout in her 
most sing-song voice : 

"How de do! Ver' glad see you 
two days. Thanzs your healt' is 
good. Most honorable welcome at 
Japan. Pray seated be and egscuse 
the most unworthy house of my 
fadder." 

Plum Blossom was chanting her 
T S 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



welcome before Iris had quite fin- 
ished. 

"Mos' glad you cum. Come agin. 
Happy see you. Come agin. Liddle 
girl, welcome for sister. Liddle boy, 
too. Nize bebby! Please I will 
kees. So!" 

She indicated the kiss by putting 
a little, open mouth against her 
sister's cheek, leaving a wet spot 
behind. Iris wiped her cheek care- 
fully with one of her paper handker- 
chiefs; then as carefully she re- 
powdered the spot where her sister's 
moist lips had rested. 

Ever since their father had been 
in America, the family had been 
learning to speak English. Their 
teacher was a missionary priest, and 
low, at the end of three years, even 
le smallest child could speak the 
language, though imperfectly. In 
order to obtain fluency, they had 
16 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

made English the spoken language 
in the family. The speeches of wel- 
come to the step-mother were com- 
posed by the grandmother; the chil- 
dren had learned them like parrots. 
Madame Sano tapped both of the 
little girls on the shoulder and 
caressed them. Clinging to each 
other's sleeves, off they tripped into 
the other room, where was the great 
"secret." The secret consisted of a 
few articles of American attire, which 
the little girls had induced a jinriki- 
man to bring them from Tokio. All 
of the money Gozo had left behind 
for them as his parting gift had been 
expended thus. How the boy's an- 
gry heart would have stormed had 
he known his little sisters had spent 
his gift for such a purpose! 

Plum Blossom wore a corset out- 
side her kimono. Some one had told 
her that this was the most important 











article of a barbarian woman's ward- 
robe, and the tighter it was the bet- 
ter. So the little Japanese girl had 
tied herself by the corset-string to a 
post. By dint of hard pulling she 
had managed to encase her plump 
form so tightly that she could 
scarcely breathe. Iris, with hands 
clad in large kid gloves, was drawing 
on a pair of number five shoes. Her 
feet were those of the average Amer- 
ican child of seven or eight years. 
At this juncture Miss Summer (who 
being engaged to Gozo was always 
called "Miss" by the little girls) 
opened the shoji and thrust a flushed 
and excited face between the parti- 
tions. She was six months older 
than when she had wailed aloud her 
determination not to wash the feet 
of a barbarian mother-in-law, but 
she seemed as childish and silly as 
ever as she came tittering into the 
18 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

room, an enormous straw hat, from 
which dangled ribbons and bedrag- 
gled ostrich-feathers, upon her head. 
The sisters gasped in admiration, 
their eyes purple with envy and won- 
der. Only in pictures had they seen 
anything so gorgeous as that hat. 

"Where did you get it?" inquired 
Plum Blossom, letting the corset out 
a bit by the simple method of breath- 
ing hard, hence snapping the fragile 
cord. 

"Well," said Summer, confiden- 
tially, "I will tell you if you will 
never, never repeat it to my future 
husband." 

"Gozo ?" 

Summer nodded. "Gozo hates 
much Otami Ichi," said Summer, 
with meaning. 

Plum Blossom's scorn burst the 
last string of the corset. It slipped 
from her as she arose. 











^'~&^&tt;$r/* " 

%&#&^&* 





"Hi," she said, "Otami Ichi! He 
says he is two years too young to be 
a soldier. He is older than Gozo. 
Did you take gifts from him!" 

Summer giggled and shrugged her 
shoulders. 

"Why not? His honorable father 
keeps a fine foreign store in Tokio." 

It was Plum Blossom's turn to 
shrug. She undid her obi and tied 
the corset to her with the sash. 

''What do you suppose Taro has 
been doing?" said Iris. 

"Something bad?" 

"No, not bad exactly," said Plum 
Blossom, who disliked her future 
sister-in-law. "He has been learn- 
ing jiu-jitsu." 

It was Summer's turn to gasp, 
thus displacing her elaborate head- 
gear. 

"What! A baby of ten learn jiu- 
jitsu?" 

20 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"Eleven," corrected Plum Blos- 
som. "His grandfather was samu- 
rai. Ver' well. That grandfather's 
friend teach him jiu-jitsu a few 
tricks of jiu-jitsu." 

"What for? Will he, too, fight 
the Russians?" inquired Miss Sum- 
mer, sarcastically. 

"N-no," said Plum Blossom, dubi- 
ously, "but he says he will fight 
somebody." 

"And little Juji," put in Iris, "has 
a fine present for our dear mother." 

"What is it?" 

"A bag of peanuts!" 

"That's nize. How can I keep 
this hat on. It falls off if I move." 

"You must pin it on," suggested 
Plum Blossom, "for so the fashion- 
books say. There, take one of your 
hair-pins." She adjusted the hat 
back to front on Summer's head, and 
fixed it firmly in place with a long 

21 

^flTR 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

hair-dagger she took from the girl's 
coiffure. 

Summer found a seat and began to 
fan herself languidly. "My sleeves 
feel very heavy to-day," said she. 

"Why?" 

"They are much weighted," de- 
clared Summer; "I carry in them 
five love-letters." 

"Oh! Oh-h! From our Gozo? 
Why, has he already written to you, 
Summer?" 

"I'll tell you a secret," said Sum- 
mer, giggling. "No, you must not 
listen, Iris. You are too young." 
She whispered into Plum Blossom's 
ear. Suddenly the latter thrust out 
her little, plump hands. 

"Go away. You are not good 
girl. Only my brother should write 
you love-letters!" 

Plaintively Summer made a gest- 
ure of annoyance. 

22 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



" I must spend a lifetime with 
Gozo," said she. "Therefore, is it 
not better to have a little fun first of 
all?" 

Iris cried out something in a very 
jeering voice. Summer pretended 
she did not hear. 

"What is that?" cried her sister, 
excitedly. 

"Oh, I know who wrote Summer's 
love-letters to her." 

"Who did?" 
."She wrote them herself." 

"I did not." 

"You did." 

"I did not!" 

" You did, for your cousin told me 
so." 

"Oh, the wicked little fiend!" 

"Young ladies," called a maid 
from below. "Come, come; come 
quickly. Your father is seen. The 
jinrikishas! Hurry! Your honor- 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

able grandmother wishes you to be 
at the door to welcome him!" 

In a panic the little girls rushed 
about the room, gathering up their 
various articles. Then, grasping each 
other's sleeves, they tripped down 
the stairs. 







HILE the husband assisted the 
children and nurse to alight 
from the jinrikishas, Mrs. Kurukawa 
the second stood looking about her. 

She was a little woman, possibly 
thirty-five years old. Her face was 
expressive, showing a somewhat shy 
and timid nature. Her large, brown 
eyes had a look of appeal in them as 
she turned them towards her hus- 
band. He smiled reassuringly and 
put an affectionate hand upon her 
arm. Immediately her momentary 
restraint and fear left her. 

" Is this the famous Plum Blossom 
Avenue?" she asked, indicating the 

3 25 





JAPANESE 



BLOSSOM 



budding trees under which they now 
passed, and which served as an ex- 
quisite pathway through the garden. 

"This is Plum Blossom Avenue," 
replied her husband, "and as you 
-see, I keep my .promise. You know 
I cabled to Japan to have the plum 
blossoms all in bud for us when we 
should arrive." 

"How good of you!" she laughed. 
"Just as if you didn't know they 
bloom at the end of March! But 
where are the children? You also 
promised that they would be under 
the trees waiting for us." 

Mr. Kurukawa looked a bit worried. 

" It's strange," he said. "Ah, here 
come my mother and father-in-law." 

His first wife's father and mother 
hastened down the path to meet 
them. 

; To the delight of the little Ameri- 
can children, the old man and woman 
^" * ~* * 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

favored them with the most wonder- 
ful bows they had ever seen. In 
fact, the boy afterwards insisted 
that the old man's bald head had 
literally touched his own boots. 

The new wife held out both her 
hands with a pretty impulse. 

"Oh," she said, "I have heard all 
about you how very, very good you 
have been to the children." 

The old couple did not quite un- 
derstand what she said, but feeling 
assured that it was something com- 
plimentary, they began a fresh series 
of bows, repeating over and over 
again one of the English words they 
had learned. 

"Thangs, thangs, very thangs." 

Mr. Kurukawa now inquired anx- 
iously for his children. He had cer- 
tainly expected they would be at the 
gate to meet them. The grand- 
mother explained that only 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

ment before the two little boys had 
been with her, and she had sent im- 
mediately for the little girls. But 
just as they came to the door the 
little boys had run away in fright, 
and were now shyly hiding some- 
where. 

" Gozo ? What of Gozo ?" 

The two old people looked at each 
other. They did not know what to 
say. 

"Pray come into the house, my 
son," said Madame Sano. "We can 
better speak there." 

They had been talking in Jap- 
anese. Noting her husband's look 
of worry, Mrs. Kurukawa anxiously 
inquired the reason. Without ex- 
plaining, he led her into the house. 
As they entered they were startled by 
the strange sound that greeted them. 
It was like the sharp sigh of a wind 
in an empty house. In reality it 
28 



ff 




A JAPANESE BLOSSO 



was the panic-stricken flight from 
the hallway of the children of Mr. 
Kurukawa. 

Grouped closely together, the four 
children and Miss Summer had re- 
treated to the far end of the hall, 
where they awaited the advent 
of the dreaded "barbarian" step- 
mother, for such Gozo had made 
them believe she must be. For 
many months they had conjured up 
in imagination pictures of their step- 
mother and her children. 

They had seen but one foreigner 
in their town, the missionary, who 
had been their teacher. Him they 
had held in as much awe and fear as 
they would a strange animal. 

Now their father appeared in the 
hall, holding by the arm what seemed 
to the children a most extraordinary 
looking creature, while behind them 
came, hand in hand, the strangest 
29 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

looking little boy and girl, with eyes 
so big that Plum Blossom thought 
them like those of a goblin. The 
face, however, which frightened them 
most was that of the Irish nurse, 
who bore the baby in her arms. The 
children gazed only a moment at 
this outlandish group; then with one 
accord they fled, each in a different 
direction. 

The strangers coming from the 
out-door sunlight into the darkened 
hall had barely time to see the chil- 
dren ere they were gone. They had 
a hazy glimpse of a patch of color at 
the end of the hall, and then its sud- 
den, wild dispersion. For st moment 
they stood looking about them in 
blank astonishment. Suddenly Mr. 
Kurukawa, who was ebullient with 
humor and good-nature, burst into 
laughter. He laughed so hard, in- 
deed, that his wife, the children, and 
30 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

& """"""si <v 

the nurse joined him. This unusual 
mirth in the house brought the chil- 
dren cautiously back, too curious 
and inquisitive to withstand the 
novelty of the situation. 

Through the paper walls little 
fingers were cautiously thrust; little 
black eyes peered at the new-comers 
from behind these frail retrenchments. 

When his mirth had subsided, Mr. 
Kurukawa favored his wife with a 
sly wink, and then quick as a flash 
he pushed back one of the shojis, dis- 
closing the little figure behind it. 
He lifted it up by the bow of its obi. 
Something strange stuck closely to it 
and invited the gaze of Mrs. Kuru- 
kawa. It was the corset! 

At the same time the father per- 
ceived it, and, pulling it off, held it 
aloft. 

"Ah, ha!" he cried, "here is surely 
a little flag of truce." 








A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 




He threw it aside and caught the 
little, trembling Plum Blossom in his 
arms, hugging her tightly.. She hid 
her face in his bosom. After a time 
he set her down upon the floor. 

"This," he said, "is Plum Blos- 
som. In America /she would be 
called Roly-poly she is so fat, and, 
like her father, good-natured," and 
he pinched her cheek. "Go now," 
he bade her/ " and kiss your new 
mother." / 

She went obediently, but with fear 
in her eyes, towards Mrs. Kurukawa. 
The letter knelt and held out both 
her arms. She was crying a bit, and 
possibly it was the tears and the 
sweet sound of her voice that won 
Plum Blossom. She tried to re- 
member the speech she had learned, 
but the only words that came to her 
lips were: 

"Come agin," and this she kept 
32 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

mechanically reiterating. " Come agin 
come agin come agin." 

Here it is painful to relate that 
the young son of Mrs. Kurukawa 
chose to make himself heard in un- 
couth American slang. Billy spoke 
almost reflectively, as if he had 
heard that "Come agin" somewhere 
before. "Come agin, on agin, gone 
agin, Finnegan!" said Billy, promptly. 

"Oh, Billy, hush!" said his moth- 
er, reprovingly, but Plum Blossom's 
face radiated. Here was a kindred 
spirit, one who had repeated her own 
words. "Come agin," and then pos- 
sibly finer ones. 

Meanwhile, Iris, showing first a 
curious little topknot, gradually pro- 
jected her head, and then her whole 
body through the dividing doors. 
She stood in the opening greedily 
watching Plum Blossom. Half hid- 
den behind her scanty little skirt, 










Ci-.<=-? 

Vv^fr^S*- 

~ V $> 




APANESE BLOSSOM 

the small, fat face of Juji peered. 
Though no one so far had seen him, 
Juji, with the usual consciousness of 
two and a half-years, was alternately 
showing and then hiding his face, be- 
ing divided between a desire to stand 
joyfully on hii head, or indulge in 
one of his farrious roars. Iris, edg- 
ing farther into the room, drew him 
after her. Mrs. Kurukawa perceived 
them. On the instant Juji sank to 
the floor, impeding the further prog- 
ress of his sister by clinging to her 
legs. 

"Oh, the darling little boy!" cried 
the little American girl, and ran to 
him to lift him up. Juji's lip began 
to protrude ominously. Plum Blos- 
som sprang into the breach. 

"Juji! Juji!" she cried, in moth- 
erly Japanese, "don't cry! Good 
boy! Give nice present to 1-lady!" 

Whereupon Juji held out a grimy 
34 











A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

little hand, from which Plum Blos- 
som extracted a crumpled paper 
package. She presented it to Mrs. 
Kurukawa with a smiling bow. 

"Peanut!" said she, in English; 
"nize. For you!" She had remem- 
bered the words now. 

" Oh, thank you, thank you, darling," 
said Mrs . Kurukawa . Wishing to show 
her delight in the gift, she added : 

"Come, we will all have some." 

She emptied the contents into her 
lap, then stared for a moment. 
Gradually her astonishment changed 
to laughter. 

The package contained only shells. 
Juji had eaten the peanuts. 

Plum Blossom and Iris felt com- 
pletely disgraced. Iris, from the 
shelter of her father's arms, whither 
she had gone, now flew towards the 
wicked Juji. 

"Oh, the bad boy!" she cried. 
35 




:cx 






.>. 






W7 

feS. 











SSOM 

Juji's lip broke. One of his terrific 
roars ensued. He was borne from the 
room by the humiliated little girls. 

"And now," said Mr. Kurukawa, 
rubbing his hands and speaking in 
a loud voice: "Where are my sons? 
Taro!" he called. 

Promptly the boy answered. He 
came literally tumbling into the hall, 
which, with the panels pushed aside, 
had now become a large room. 

Taro's eyes evaded his father. 
For some time he had been watching 
intently the American boy from his 
peep-hole in the paper shoji. As he 
appeared at the call of his father, his 
eyes were still riveted upon his hated 
rival. Suddenly he made a catlike 
spring in the boy's direction and 
landed sprawling on Billy's chest. 
For the astonished Billy, tripped un- 
awares, was lying on his back. A 
great flame of indignation, and yet 
36 







A JAPANESE 

f'y.\r\ 

almost unwilling admiration, stirred 
within the heart of the prize fighter 
of a certain Chicago school. 

Could it be possible that this little 
mite of a Jap was sitting victoriously 
on his chest ? He growled and moved 
a bit, but Taro, wildly trying to keep 
in mind the few jiu-jitsu tricks he 
had lately learned, touched the boy's 
arm in a sensitive place. 

Billy rose like a lion shaking off a 
troublesome cub. As Taro caught 
him about the calf of his leg, Billy 
reached down and took the little 
Japanese boy by the waist and 
coolly tucked him under his arm; 
then he marched up and down, sing- 
ing at the top of his voice: 



Yankee Doodle came to town, 
Riding on a pony 

Took a little Jappy Jap 
Who was a bit too funny!" 








If 



w 












A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

Here it may be well to explain that 
Billy, besides, being the prize fighter of 
his school, was also the class poet. 

Mrs. Kurukawa rescued the little 
"Jappy Jap" from her big son's 
hands, and gave the latter a reprov- 
ing look, saying : 

"Oh, Billy, is that the way to 
treat your little brother?" 

"Well, mother," protested Billy, 
"he did get funny, now didn't he, 
father?" He appealed to Mr. Kuru- 
kawa, who was patting the ruffled 
head of the discomfited and con- 
quered jiu-jitsu student. 

Taro's expression had undergone 
a change. In his little black eyes a 
gleam of respect for Billy might have 
been seen. Suddenly he nodded his 
head significantly, and made a mo- 
tion of his hand towards the garden, 
signifying in boy language the in- 
vitation : 

38 







Ho I 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"Come outside. I'll show you 
some things." 

Out they wandered together, ex- 
cellent friends at once. 

"Sa-ay," said Taro, pausing on 
the brink of his own private gar- 
den brook, "you you," he touched 
Billy with a stiff little finger "you 
Gozo!" 

Billy was at a loss to understand 
what ' ' say you Gozo ! ' ' could 
mean, but he liked the look on 
Taro's face, so grinned and said: 
"Me Gozo." Taro nodded. He 
had paid Billy the highest compli- 
ment in his power, likening him to 
the hero of the Kurukawa family, 
the great, elder brother Gozo. 









IV 

MEANWHILE, in the house, Mr. 
Kurukawa was inquiring ur- 
gently for Gozo. Where was he? 
Why was he not the first to greet his 
parents? The grandparents would 
not respond to his inquiries, but re- 
mained silent, looking very dejected 
and miserable. Their aspect alarmed 
Mr. Kurukawa, who now clapped his 
hands loudly. Several servants came 
running into the room in answer to 
his summons. Immediately the mas- 
ter questioned them: 

"Where is my sonOozo?" 
But all the response he received 
from the servants was a profound 
40 





silence, broken by that hissing, sigh- 
ing sound peculiar to the Japanese 
when moved, a drawing in of the 
breath through the teeth. Mr. Kuru- 
kawa recognized a boy who had been 
his own body-servant, and to him he 
strode, seizing the latter by the 
shoulder of his kimono. But the 
boy slipped from his hand to the 
ground and put his head at his 
master's feet. There, with his face 
hidden, he answered the questions 
put to him. 

"Speak, my boy, where is Gozo?" 

"O Excellency, young master 
sir " he broke off and began to cry, 
beating his head as he did so on the 
floor. Mr. Kurukawa raised him 
forcibly to his feet. 

"What is it, Ido? Has anything 
happened to our Gozo?" 

He could hardly bring the words 
out. The bare thought that mis- 

4 41 







JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

fortune had befallen his eldest son 
horrified him. 

Ido dried his face on his sleeve, 
and from his new hiding-place spoke : 

"Young master, sir, gone away, 
O Excellency!" 

Mr. Kurukawa's grasp on the boy's 
shoulder relaxed. He stepped back 
and stood a moment silent, his hand 
against his forehead. 

"What is it, Kiyo? What is it?" 
asked his wife, going to him and 
throwing an arm about him. 

The color came back into her 
husband's face. He laughed a bit 
weakly. 

"I thought it possible that my 
boy was " 

She held his hand tightly, her eyes 
full of tears. 

"Oh, I understand. I do," she 
said. "But where is he?" 

Her husband stepped back to the 
42 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



spot where Ido had been. Then he 
saw that in almost complete silence 
the servants, including Ido, had 
slipped from the room. 

He fancied he heard the slight 
movement of their feet on the pad- 
ded floor beyond the shoji. Im- 
petuously and insistently he clapped 
his hands again, and silently they 
answered his summons. Nearly all 
the servants of the Kurukawa family 
had been in their service for years, 
some of them having served the 
grandparents. Their averted faces 
alarmed Mr. Kurukawa. This time 
he did not question them. 

"Send Plum Blossom-san to me 
at once," he said. 

The little girl was brought in. With 
her Iris and the consoled Juji came. 

The father took the eldest girl by 
the hand; kneeling, he spoke to her 
almost pleadingly. 

43 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"Tell father all about Gozo," he 
said. 

Plum Blossom grew very red and 
looked towards Mrs. Kurukawa. 
Then she spoke low in Japanese, her 
hand half pointing in the direction of 
her step-mother. 

"She she send away our Gozo," 
she said. 

At the mention of Gozo's name 
Juji paused in his eating of a juicy 
persimmon to give signs of a re- 
newal of his late tear-storm. Little 
Iris drew him comfortingly into her 
arms, soothing him in this wise: 

"There, there, Juji, don't cry! 
Gozo is coming back some day. Oh, 
you should laugh, Juji, because our 
Gozo is so brave and fine. Think of 
it! He is a soldier of the beloved 
Ten-shi-sama!" 

"Soldier!" cried Mr. Kurukawa, 
and leaped to his feet. "My boy a 

44 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



soldier!" he cried, almost staggering 
forward. 

"Yes, father," said Plum Blossom. 
"Gozo is a g- great soldier now!" 

Mr. Kurukawa went towards the 
grandparents. 

"What does this mean? He was 
left in your charge. He is only a 
child a mere boy of eighteen. How 
could he enlist at such an age?" 

"He passed for older," said the 
grandmother, slowly. "We did ev- 
erything to prevent his going but he 
has gone." 

"Ah, I see I understand," said 
Mr. Kurukawa. For a moment his 
face was lighted as a look of pride 
swept across it. "The boy was in- 
spired. He could not wait to come 
of age. He wanted to give his young 
life for his country, his Emperor. I 
am proud of him. Where is he 
now?" 

45 












A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"The last time we heard from him 
he was at Port Arthur. That was 
two months ago." 

"Ah-h! Condescend to give me 
his letter 

The grandmother slowly and re- 
luctantly took it from her sleeve and 
handed it to the father. Mr. Kuru- 
kawa's eager fingers shook as he un- 
folded the letter, a long, narrow sheet, 
covered with the bold and character- 
istic writing up and down the pages 
of his son Gozo. As he perused it 
his face grew darkly red. The sheet 
rustled in his hands. When he had 
finished he crushed it, and stood for 
a moment in silence, anger and sor- 
row combating within him. 

"So," he finally spoke, "it was not 
honorable loyalty to the Mikado 
which inspired him, but a mean emo- 
tion hatred of one he does not even 
know. I expected better of my son." 
46 











A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

[e let the crumpled letter fall 
from his hand. Stooping, the grand- 
mother picked it up, to place it ten- 
derly in her sleeve. She spoke with 
a touch of reproach in her voice: 

"Kurukawa Kiyskichi," she said, 
" never before have I heard your lips 
speak bitterly of your eldest son. 
Be not inspired to feel anger towards 
him." She glanced at Mrs. Kuru- 
kawa as though she were the one 
at fault. "Gozo is a good boy, has 
always been so. It was not hatred, 
as you say, which prompted him 
to leave his own. Call it rather 
a boy's feeling of resentment, that 
the place of the one he had loved 
dearly his mother should so soon 
be filled and by a bar 

She did not finish the word. Her 
son-in-law stopped her with a stern 
gesture. 

"Sav no more, honorable mother- 





^ 






<J 



A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

in-law. It is enough that my son 
has, without so much as referring to 
me in the matter, left my house. In 
his letter he speaks slanderously of 
one who is good, who was ready to 
love him as her very son. She is my 
wife just as much as Gozo's mother 
was. She is no^ 'an intruder in her 
husband's house, and my son has no 
right to question her place here. Of 
his own free will he has left his 
father's house. Very well, he shall 
never return to 

" What does it all mean ?" broke in 
his wife with agitation. "Tell me 
what you are saying, Kiyo. Where 
is Gozo?" 

"7 will tell unto you," spoke the 
grandmother, going towards her. 
"Better, madame, that you should 
know. I say not English well, but " 

"I understand you." 

"Gozo our boy go way mek 
4 8 



,A/ 



^ : ivMl^/ . ... U..JM 

~^1_^S -v,V'i i ""vV:^ > i>vA vl* J*/pf- " 

~ ~ ~~>>* ', 4 ' * V V"H C* J" ^ ^^-t, - - -." * 

*'-'""-'*'' * \ XX X N ^ - * '"i-'T 



A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

soldier fight Lussians. He angry ac- 
count you therefore he be soldier 

" Account me ! Why, I don't un- 
derstand that is Yes I think I 
do understand. He was opposed to 
his father's marriage?" 

"He love his mother," said the old 
woman, and then began to trem- 
ble, for Mrs. Kurukawa had hidden 
her face in her hands. The grand- 
mother spoke uncertainly. 

"Pray egscuse I sawry ve'y 
sawry . Gozo Gozo bad. ' ' She 
brought the word out as if it hurt 
her to admit this much of her best- 
loved grandchild. 

"No, no," said Mrs. Kurukawa, 
softly. "He is not bad. I under- 
stand him. Why, it was only nat- 
ural." She moved appealingly tow- 
ards her husband. "Don't you 
remember, Kiyo, I feared this that 
the children might not want me." 
49 






. 

A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 









"And I told you," said he, quickly, 
"that it was not my children you 
were marrying, but myself." 

"You are angry with that boy," 
she cried. 

"Angry! I will never forgive 
him!" ' 

"Oh, you don't mean that." 

" We will not talk of it any longer," 
said her husband, turning away. 

The boy had written: 

" The barbarian female who has taken 
my mother's place is a witch a fox woman 
a devil! Otherwise how could she have 
worked upon my father's mind so soon to 
forget our mother? I could not remain at 
home and face such a woman. Better 
that I should go. Here, at least, my 
bitter thoughts can do no injury. How I 
long to be exposed to great danger! May- 
be, if I die, my father will be sorry!" 

Such unfilial, rebellious words were 
unheard of from a Japanese son. 
5 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

Left to the care of his doting old 
grandparents, Mr. Kurukawa saw 
clearly how much Gozo had needed 
the guiding hand of a father. 







MARION sat on a gigantic moss- 
grown rock, looking with some- 
what wistful eyes at the children in 
the family pond. She envied them 
their intense enjoyment. The family 
pond, it should be explained, was 
also the family bath-tub. It was a 
great pool of water, set in the heart 
of the garden, a beautiful and allur- 
ing spot for the children. All about 
it the blossoming trees bent their 
heads as if to look at their own re- 
flected images in the mirror of the 
water. The Kurukawas had added 
to its natural beauty by placing 
along its banks huge rocks of strange 
5 2 





" MARION SAT ON A GIGANTIC MOSS-GROWN ROCK, LOOKING 
AT THE CHILDREN IN THE FAMILY POND " 



n 



A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

formation, very charming to look 
at, and comfortable to sit upon. 

Out over the water a sort of pleas- 
ure-booth was built, over which the 
wistaria vines clambered and bloomed 
in wild profusion. This was the dolls' 
house of the little Japanese girls. In 
the water were two diminutive sam- 
pans and also a raft, the property of 
Taro, inherited from Gozo. 

The pond was a natural one. It 
might have been termed a small 
lake, but the family had always re- 
ferred to it as "the pond," and even 
had called it the "bath," for that 
was its chief use. The little Kuru- 
kawas dipped into it sometimes three 
times a day in the summer. They 
had almost literally spent their lives 
in it. Even three-year-old Juji would 
throw his fat little hands over his 
head, and dive into the water, swim- 
ming as naturally as a wild duck. 
53 






m 







i 
:. . 

: 



A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

Now as Marion watched the shin- 
ing brown bodies of her step-brothers 
and sisters her eyes unconsciously 
filled with tears. Why could not 
she throw aside her white starched 
clothes and join them in their pleas- 
ures? It was not that her mother 
would not permit her; but Mar- 
ion's sensitive soul had been deeply 
wounded by the manner of her step- 
sisters when first she had put on a 
kimono, and had gone, with innocent 
friendliness, to join them. At first 
the little girls had regarded her with 
amazement. Summer, who happen- 
ed to be with them, hid her face be- 
hind her fan, where she giggled and 
tittered in the most provoking way 
imaginable. Plum Blossom asked, 
bluntly : 

"Wha's triad? Dress?" 

"My kimono," faltered Marion. 

"Where you git?" 
54 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



"Mother bought it at a Japanese 
store in Chicago." 

Plum Blossom shook her head dis- 
approvingly, while Iris, in imitation 
of Summer, began to titter also. 

"Thas nod Japanese," said Plum 
Blossom, severely. 

Marion had moved proudly and 
silently away. 

"Mother," she cried, running into 
her room, with crimson cheeks and 
flashing eyes, "give me back my 
own clothes. Oh, I never, never, 
never want to wear these horrid 
things again," she sobbed in her 
mother's lap. 

And now, a week later, Marion 
still wore her white starched gown 
of pique, and sat there on the rock, 
quite alone ; for Billy was one of the 
happy bathers in the shining spring- 
pond. It was against him she felt 
most bitter. He was her own, own 

%. 











A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

brother; yet there he was quite at 
home with the enemy, even some- 
times pushing the boat which held 
that "nasty Miss Summer," who was 
at the root of all her trouble. She 
felt sure she could have been happy 
with Plum Blossom and Iris had not 
Summer, in some way, influenced 
them against her. And as for dear, 
little, fat Juji, why, she just loved 
him! even if he did scream every 
time she came near him and ran 
from her as fast as his little, fat, 
frightened legs could carry him. 
Summer had told him Marion was 
a fox-girl, who would bite him if 
she caught him. At first Juji had 
regarded this announcement with 
doubt. Full of confidence because 
of the winning, smiling face of 
Marion, he had even timorously gone 
into her arms. Lo and behold, she 
had indeed attempted to "bite" 
56 



BLO 




A JAPANESE BLOSSO 

him, for such the kiss had seemed to 
Juji, who had never been kissed in 
all his life. After that, Juji had kept 
his distance from the "yellow-haired 
fox-girl." 

There was a sudden squeal of de- 
light from the pond. Something 
flashed in the sun a moment. Then 
over went the sampan in which the 
three little Japanese girls were seat- 
ed. Billy had tipped it over, im- 
mersing the three girls, who came up 
shaking their little black heads, and 
swam towards the raft, upon which 
they clambered. 

Leading from the booth to the 
shore was a little arched bridge, part, 
indeed, of the pleasure-booth. Sus- 
pended between a pole on shore and 
another half-way out in the water, 
was a long, delightful bamboo rest. 
The gymnastic Taro would climb out 
on this pole as easily as a kitten; he 

5 57 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

would twist and twirl about, and 
end with his head hanging over the 
water and his feet clinging to the 
pole. Each time he performed these 
tricks Billy was filled with an in- 
tense ambition to transport his step- 
brother to America, to exhibit him 
to his old school-mates. 

Now the rock on which Marion sat 
was close to the shore end of the 
bamboo pole, and near to the little 
arbor. As she sat there in sad de- 
jection, Taro softly clambered up 
from the water end of the bamboo 
pole and crawled along the ridge un- 
til he stood over the head of the un- 
conscious girl. His body swayed, 
until he rested in his favorite posi- 
tion and hung by his feet from the 
pole. One quick, sharp push, and 
the next moment the little girl on 
the rock was plunged head-foremost 
into the water below. Taro had re- 
58 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

venged the upsetting of his sisters 
from the boat by Billy. The latter 
went suddenly white to his lips and 
began swimming frantically in the 
direction of his sister. 

One fleeting glimpse of the boy's 
horrified face Taro had; then he un- 
derstood. Marion could not swim! 

On the instant he threw up his 
arms and dived. Never had Billy 
seen anything so quick as that 
lightning dive and swift return of 
Taro. He supported his step-sister 
while he swam with her to the 
shore. She had been hardly a min- 
ute in the water; but she was fright- 
ened. Her little hands and face 
were blue, her teeth were chattering, 
and she was shivering and crying 
hysterically, although it was sultry 
and warm. The first words she 
spoke were: 

" BillyI I'm all right. Pi-please 
59 





. 

A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

don't fight Taro about it," for Billy 
was pugnaciously regarding his step- 
brother. 

The other children were now all 
about her, Plum Blossom's motherly 
little face looking very concerned. 
The water was dripping from the 
kimonos of the three Japanese girls. 
As they looked at the drenched 
Marion a kindred feeling must have 
possessed them simultaneously, for 
suddenly they all laughed outright 
in unison, Marion joining with them. 
She was almost glad of the adventure 
now, as she said: 

"If I had on a kimono I'd I'd 
go into the water with you." 

"You want keemono?" inquired 
Taro, eagerly. 

"Yes," she nodded. 

He brought her his own. 

She laughed with delight, and Iris 
and Plum Blossom clapped their 
60 













-HI 



A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



hands. What fun to see the yellow- 
haired one arrayed in a boy's kimono! 
But Marion had disappeared with the 
garment. A few minutes later she 
returned clad in it, to the uproarious 
delight of every one. 

Taro himself wore with great pride 
one of Billy's bathing-suits. 

As the sampan moved down the 
surface of the tiny lake, Marion con- 
fided to Plum Blossom, who held one 
of her hands, while Iris held the 
other : 

" I wanted so much to go into the 
water, but I thought you didn't 
want me. Oh, dear, I feel so comfy 
in this dear old loose thing," she 
added. 

"Tha's nize," said Plum Blossom. 

"Vaery nize," agreed Iris. 

Summer, sitting in the stern of the 
boat, opened her paper parasol. The 
sight of it sent the little girls into 
6i 











A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 







another peal of laughter. When 
Billy upset the boat the parasol had 
shared the fate of its owner as it was 
thrust into her obi in front. The 
effect of its bath was ludicrously ap- 
parent. Being of paper, it split in 
several places as she opened it. 
Now as she held it loftily above her 
head, water of several shades of 
color rolled from it to splash upon 
its haughty owner, for just at this 
moment Summer was endeavoring 
to make an impression upon the 
sisters. She had succeeded beyond 
her expectations. The boat rocked 
with the wild gale of their mirth. 




IT was the day after Marion's acci- 
dent that the baby was lost, or, 
rather, "shtolen," as the nurse-maid 
put it. 

Norah had taken it in its carriage 
a short distance from the house. In . 
Chicago it had been her daily duty 
to push the baby up and down the 
street on which they lived. The 
Kurukawas' garden was of a fair size, 
but its dimensions were limited for 
Norah's purpose. Moreover, the girl 
was intensely homesick "for the 
soight of the face of a foine op!" 

When she had gone to America, 
one of the first things she noticed 
63 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

was that all, or nearly all, the police- 
men were Irish. The idea occurred 
to her that it might be the same in 
Japan. And so, unmindful of the 
instructions of her mistress not to 
leave the vicinity of the house, Norah 
sallied forth, and wandered on until 
she came to the main street of the 
little town. The news of the pres- 
ence in the street of a most ex- 
traordinary Booking foreign devil, a 
giant in sizfe, pushing an outlandish 
jinrikisha with a pale-faced, yellow- 
hair btfoy in it, spread like wild- 
fire through the surrounding streets. 
Soon a small mob of children and 
a number of curious men and wom- 
en were following and surrounding 
Norah. Some of them ran ahead of 
her, impeding the progress of the 
baby - carriage. At first Norah re- 
garded them with inherent good- 
humor, but after a time she became 
64 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

embarrassed and annoyed. A little 
girl of about seven years had actually 
climbed over the front of the car- 
riage, and there she perched, regard- 
ing the baby with great curiosity. 

Norah stopped. One hand sought 
her plump hip, and the other doubled 
to a fist, which she shook. 

"Now, you young spalpeen," said 
she, "you climb down, or I'll put 
you down none too gently. Off with 
you, you hay then imp!" 

The little girl regarded her unblink- 
ingly, but the surrounding crowd 
began to jabber excitedly. Norah 
turned upon them. 

"Shure, it's a fine lot of haythens 
you be! wid nothing better to con- 
sarn yersilves wid than the business 
of others. Off wid you all, or Oi'll 
make short worruk of the boonch of 
yez." 

A threatening movement cleared 
65 









JAPANESE BLOSSOM 




a space about her. Her fighting 
blood was up. She began to lay 
about her in every direction, spank- 
ing a little boy on her right, pushing 
along by the ear another, and cuff- 
ing a giggling maiden of fifteen sum- 
mers, whose tittering had for some 
time irritated ner. But in attacking 
the children following her, Norah 
made a mistake. The "haythens," 
merely curious at first, now became 
aggressive. In a few minutes there 
was a concerted rush in the direction 
of the Irish girl. She took fright at 
this, and at the top of her voice 
shrieked: 

"Police! Police! Murdher! Hilp!" 
Her cry had immediate effect. 
Some one came running towards her. 
The crowd fell back, and indeed dis- 
persed almost in silence at the ap- 
proach of the little, uniformed figure 
which descended upon them. He 
66 








A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

made his way straight to Norah with 
wonder. She watched the magic 
effect of his coming upon the crowd, 
and as he came up to her she spoke 
admiringly : 

"Shure it's the Mikado himself 
yer afther being, I should think, 
from the grand way you're threated." 

He touched her arm with a hand 
of authority. 

j "I have the honor to arrest you," 
said he, in distinct English. 

"Arrest me!" shouted the now 
irate Norah. "And who in Hai 
are you?" 

" Police, " said the little man, shortly. 

"You a policeman!" cried Norah. 
"Now the saints forgive you for the 
lie! Shure, I niver saw a policeman 
of your sawed-off size before! Where 
I come from " 

But the grip upon her arm had 

tightened. Indignantly Norah sought 

67 




$f 

ff* ' - m^y 



2* 

xSf*J 




JAPANESE 



)SSOM 



to withdraw, but to her astonish- 
ment she could not move. The little, 
"sawed-off" policeman held her in a 
tighter grip than any Irish policeman 
could have done. Norah's red face 
blazed. 

"It's yersilf that '11 be arrested for 
the outrage," she said, and then be- 
gan to wail aloud in most distressing 
accents. 

"Oh, wirrah, wirrah, wirrah! And 
why did I iver lave the ould coun- 
try ? And why did I iver come to 
this haythen land of savages ? Shure 
it was love for the innocent babe 
that" 

She stopped and turned to look for 
the baby. Carriage and child were 
gone! 

A frightful scream escaped the lips 
of the terrified girl. Then she col- 
lapsed heavily in the arms of the 
little "haythen" policeman. 
68 











VII 



IT would be cruel to dwell upon 
the sufferings of Norah. She came 
to consciousness while being carried 
bodily through the streets by half a 
dozen of "the finest" in Japan. But 
she retained consciousness only long 
enough to give vent to another ter- 
rific shriek and then faint again. 
When next she came to, she was in 
the "dhirty hay then doongeon," as 
she termed it. There Mr. Kurukawa 
found her, secured her release, and 
took her home. 

But the baby! It was only a little 
after nine when Norah had gone forth 
so bravely. By five in the afternoon 




' 



**-*-.' . 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

the search for the baby had not end- 
ed. Everybody in the village ap- 
peared to have had the baby at one 
time or another through the day. 
The little one had been passed from 
house to house as an object of curi- 
osity. Its clothing was a marvel to 
all Japanese eyes; its blue eyes were 
extraordinary; its little wisps of yel- 
low hair the most amazing of sights 
ever seen in the little town; and its 
milk-white skin positively unreal. 
Japanese mothers brought their own 
brown offspring and put them side by 
side with the little white baby. They 
patted its little, chubby hands, and 
put their fingers into its mouth. The 
latter never failed to please the Kuru- 
kawa baby, which immediately fell 
to sucking the finger greedily. After 
a time, however, as no milk was forth- 
coming from the numberless fingers 
thus offered, the baby became cross. 
70 

'M^M--*'--:., 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

Then nobody wanted it any longer. 

Mr. and Mrs. Kurukawa and a po- 
liceman went about the town hunting 
for the child. The mother was al- 
most prostrated, but insisted on ac- 
companying her husband. As they 
turned away from each house the 
mother grew paler and more fearful. 
Finally the policeman suggested that 
they abandon the search until the 
following morning. It was getting 
towards night, and the Japanese re- 
tire early. 

The parents would not hear of 
this. They would search all night if 
necessary. The policeman shrugged 
his shoulders. Very well, he had 
other duties. As the honorable ex- 
cellencies could see for themselves, 
the streets were already almost de- 
serted. Indeed, there were only a 
few children left yonder in the street. 
The father and mother turned al- 

11 


















A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

most aimlessly towards the place 
where a number of children were 
playing skip rope. One little girl 
after another would jump back and 
forth over the swinging rope. One 
girl seemed less nimble than the 
others. She slipped once, and trod 
on the rope often. As the Kuru- 
kawas came nearer to the group 
they noticed her because she seemed 
humpbacked. But the hump upon 
her back bobbed and moved up and 
down. When she stopped skipping 
and came to their side of the rope 
the hump upon her back moved a 
bit higher, until it rested against her 
neck. It was a little baby's head! 

Mrs. Kurukawa uttered a faint 
cry and rushed upon the little girl, 
pitifully trying to drag the baby 
from her back. It was sound asleep 
and seemed perfectly comfortable 
and none the worse for its late ad- 
72 








ventures. Mrs. Kurukawa hugged it 
wildly. 

"Oh, my little, little baby!" she 
sobbed. It opened its sleepy blue 
eyes and gooed and gurgled softly. 

From this time forth the baby be- 
came the centre of attraction to all 
the family. Even Juji seemed to be 
conscious of its enviable position. 
Was it not surrounded at all times 
by the little girls? Was it not 
hugged and petted in a way he had 
considered due only to him from his 
sisters ? 

He had watched with wonder the 
queer little plaything ever since it 
had come into the house. It was no 
larger than some dolls his sisters had ; 
but when it opened its mouth it 
could make a noise almost as loud 
as Juji himself. In fact, its noises 
and its limbs and everything about 
it had an absorbing interest for Juji. 
6 73 







JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

began to hang about its vicinity. 
Norah would discover him pressed 
up close to her knee, his little, serious 
slits of eyes intent upon every move- 
ment of the baby. 

"Bless his heart," she would say. 
"Shure the little lamb loves his wee 
brother. Then give him a nice kiss," 
7/7-1 whereupon she would put the baby's 

face close to Juji. The latter would 
rub his nose against the fat, soft, baby 
cheek. He must have pondered over 
his little step-brother, for one night 
Norah was awakened by strange 
little sounds in the vicinity of the 
baby's bed. She reached over in the 
dark, found and enclosed a little 
hand in her large one. Then she 
saw a little figure in bed with the 
baby. Juji was sitting up and lean- 
ing over the baby. In his hand was 
a bottle, the end of which was 
thrust into the baby's mouth! 
74 












A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



Norah was too astonished at first 
to do anything but watch the child. 
Then she seized him. 

"You lamb!" said she. "If you 
aren't the swatest haythen, shure I 
don't know who is!" 

"Opey mouth," said little Juji, in 
English, and pushed the bottle tow- 
ards Norah 's lips. 

He had seen the nurse-maid do 
this with the baby, and had heard 
her say: 

''Opey mouthie, lovey!" 

He had found the bottle, and 
while all were asleep and there was 
no one to interfere with him, he had 
sought to feed his baby step-brother. 







VIII 

MARION came flying into the 
garden, her cheeks aglow, her 
bright eyes dancing. 

"Iris Blossom!" she called, ex- 
citedly. 

She could hardly get her breath to 
tell them the great news. In her 
hand she waved aloft a sheet of paper. 

"What ees't?" asked Plum Blos- 
som, puzzled. 

"A letter," cried Marion. "Guess 
who from?" 

"Gozo," both answered at once. 

Marion nodded. 

"Right," she said, "and to me! 
me /" She began dancing airily about, 
76 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

waving the letter triumphantly and 
then caressing it. 

Iris shrieked the news across the 
garden to Taro, pirouetting on his 
beloved pole. He leaped down and 
came running to join them. 

"Why he ride unto you?" de- 
manded Plum Blossom, enviously. 

"Well, now, I'll tell you," con- 
fided Marion, sweetly. "You know 
ever since we've been here I've 
heard nothing but Gozo, Gozo, Gozo, 
from you all. Goodness! you never 
speak a sentence without 'Gozo' in 
it. Well, I began to think him a 
real hero, and I just longed to know 
him. Besides" she lowered her 
voice " I did think he ought to be 
warned about that about Summer!" 

"About Summer?" repeated Plum 
Blossom, hazily. 

"We kinno understan'. You spik 
so fast." 

77 











A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



"Oh, dear, don't you see? Why, 
she's not good enough for a hero 
now is she?" 

"Wha's 'hero'?" asked Taro, dis- 
gustedly. Had they brought him 
from his favorite sport merely to 
bother him with words he could not 
understand. 

"A hero is is well, he's some- 
thing grand/ 1 ' 

Iris yawned sleepily. She had 
forgotten all about the letter and 
now was lying on the grass blinking 
sleepily at the blue sky overhead. 

"You're not listening, Iris," said 
Marion, frowning upon her and forc- 
ing her to get up. 

"Don't you want to hear Gozo's . 
letter?" 

"Yes, yes spik it," urged Plum 
Blossom. 

"But I didn't finish what I was 
saying explaining why he wrote me. 
78 





/ 

A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



- 

Don't you see, / wrote to him first. 
Yes, I did, too, I wrote him the 
longest letter, and I told him about 
you all and and can he read 
English?" 

Billy had joined the group, and he 
spoke tip now: 

"Ah, sis, go on now read his an- 
swer. What's he say?" 

"But I can't read it. See, it's in 
Japanese." 

"You read it, Taro." 

"Me?" Taro seized the letter, 
and began laboriously reading it in 
Japanese. 

"Well, well, what does he say?" 
asked Marion, excitedly. 

Plum Blossom looked over her 
brother's shoulder and translated in 
this wise : 

"M-M-MADAME, Your letter got 
" Yours truly forever, 

" KURUKAWA GOZO." 

79 










A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"Is that all?" inquired Marion, 
blankly, her blue eyes filling with 
tears. 

"Postscript," shouted Taro, then 
read it: "Write agin, thangs!" 

Marion pouted and sat down in 
deep dejection. / 

"Well, I won't do it, if that's the 
way he answers my letters." 

She took the letter and went to her 
mother. 



IX 

ON the 1 5th of April the chil- 
dren dressed themselves in pink- 
and- white kimonos, simulating cherry 
blossoms, and strolled abroad for 
hanami (flower picnic). They had 
been looking forward to this delight- 
ful occasion for weeks. The cos- 
tumes had been prepared by their 
grandmother some days in advance 
of the festival. Even Marion had a 
little, white crepe kimono embroidered 
with the pale pink flower, and with 
the sash or obi of the same shade. 
She made quite a picture, as with her 
eyes dancing and shining she came 
running into the garden to join her 
81 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

step-sisters. The wings of the dainty 
sleeves of her dress fluttered back 
and forth. Her cheeks were the 
color of the cherry blossom, and the 
golden crown of her hair, drawn up 
into the Japanese fashion, glistened 
in the sun. Plum Blossom wore a 
crpe silk gown of deep pink, shad- 
ing at the ends to white. The sash 
was white with pale green leaves 
and stalks embroidered on it. Iris, 
too, was in pink, and the bow of her 
obi was tied to imitate a cherry blos- 
som. The three little girls had flow- 
ers in their hair cherry blossoms, of 
course. They waited now in the 
garden for their brothers and parents. 
As the festival was new to Marion, 
she was the most eager of the girls. 

From above their heads a voice 
rang out: 

"Here, you, girls! get your masks 
and petals ready." 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



called 
about 



"Where are you, Billy?" 
Marion, looking everywhere 
them. 

"Here up in the tree." 

He was perched in an old cherry- 
tree, where with vandal hand he was 
plucking the blossoms. 

"O-o-oo!" exclaimed Plum Blos- 
som. "You ba' boy! No can pig 
flower. Tha's nod ride!" 

"Why, father said we were to fill 
our sleeves get all we could," called 
down Billy. 

"Yes, pig from ground," said 
Plum Blossom; "never mus' pig 
from tree." 

"Billy, you vandal, what are you 
doing up there?" 

Mr. Kurukawa had joined the chil- 
dren in the garden. He, too, was in 
Japanese dress. 

"Why," said Billy, "you said" 

"Now, my boy, come down." 
83 







JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



Very promptly Billy obeyed. 

Taking his step-son by the hand, 
Mr. Kurukawa taught him a lesson 
known to all Japanese children. 

"Never pluck the flowers wanton- 
ly, least of all the sacred cherry blos- 
som. When you wish the flower in 
your house, pluck out one branch, 
one flower. See, you have filled the 
front of your kimono, your sleeves, 
and your obi with the blossoms. 
Look at them!" 

He held up the crushed branches 
to view. They drooped almost re- 
proachfully at Billy. 

"But, father," he began again. 
"You did tell me" 

"To gather all the cherry-blossom 
petals you could. See, the ground 
is thick with them." 

"But they are all apart. They 
have no stalks." 

Mr. Kurukawa stooped and filled 
84 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



his hands full of petals. He held 
them a moment and then lightly 
tossed them into the air. j/ \ 

" That is how we want them, boy. 
We use them like confetti. Now fill 
all your sleeves, children. Get as 
many as you can, and then we'll 
start." 

Soon the long sleeves of their 
dresses were filled with the petals, 
and hung like little pillows. Mrs. 
Kurukawa was the last to join the 
merry party. All the children helped 
her to fill her sleeves, for she, too, 
wore the national kimono. 

"Here are your masks, children," 
said the father. With laughing chat- 
ter they fastened on the grotesque 
masks and clambered into the jin- 
rikishas. It was a joyful day. 

They passed numbers of picnick- 
ers, and exchanged showers of cherry- 
blossom petals with them. 
85 











A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

They ate a delicious luncheon un- 
der a tree fairly weighted down with 
the heavenly flower. While they 
were in the midst of their repast, 
Taro and Billy mounted into the tree 
and shook it till the lunch was al- 
most hidden under the petals, and 
the heads of all were crowned in 
cherry pink. 

The petals they slipped into their 
food purposely, declaring that it 
added a delicious taste. Then the 
children played battledore and shut- 
tlecock. Later, there being a pleas- 
ant wind, Mr. Kurukawa sent up a 
kite. Billy was permitted to hold 
the string. This was great fun, es- 
pecially when Taro's kite had a race 
with Billy's, and finally won. By 
four in the afternoon they were all 
so refreshingly tired that nobody 
wanted to go home, and soon "fa- 
ther" was besieged for a story. 
86 













A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



"Make it modern, father," said 
Billy, "for we like that kind best." 

"Well, let's see. What shall it be 
about?" 

"War," shouted Taro. 

For a while there was silence, and 
Mr. Kurukawa looked very grave. 
He was thinking of Gozo. 

"Very well," said he, after a mo- 
ment's thought. "I will tell you a 
true story of to-day which has to do 
with a war." 

"Make it very, very long, father," 
said Plum Blossom. 

"And exciting," said Taro. 

"With a little girl in it," said Iris. 

"No, no, a liddle boy," growled 



"It's about a little woman," said 
Mr. Kurukawa, "and she was called 
'The Widow of Sanyo.'" 


















T ] 



HIS is the story the Japanese 
father told, in English, for his 
own children understood the lan- 
guage better than they spoke it. 

"You must know, children, that 
all loyal Japanese love and reverence 
Ten-shi-sama (the Mikado). No true 
Japanese would hesitate to give his 
life for the father of us all. That is 
why our boys go to war with faces 
shining like the sun. That is why 
we bid them go, and do not weep be- 
cause we love them. We are proud 
and glad to give them for such 
service." 

"Father," put in little Iris very 
88 







gently, "we are glad 
Gozo, are we not?" 

He hesitated a moment, and then 
said, simply: 

" Yes, my child. But this 
not of Gozo." 

It was the first time since his 
turn that he had mentioned his son 
name, and he did it without any sign 
of bitterness. His wife reached out 
and sought his hand, which she held 
for a moment closely. 

"Go on," urged Billy. "What do 
you want to interrupt for, Iris?" 

She leaned against her father. 
He put his arm about her. 

"Ten million egscuse," said she to 
Billy. 

" Where does the widow come in?" 
asked Billy. 

"Well, she was not a widow at 
the beginning. She was just a very 
young and very beautiful girl. But 





& 




JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



she had the spirit of a man. You 
see, before she came, her parents had 
prayed for a son to give to the service 
Ten-shi-sama ; but they were un- 
fortunate. Their gods gave them 
only a girl, and they never felt quite 
the same to her as they would to a 
boy. They were very powerful peo- 
ple, and of noble ancestry, so they 
did not wish their race to die out. 
They prayed constantly for a son, 
and all they got was one daughter. 
Quite unfairly, they neglected the 
girl, just as if it were her fault that 
she were not born a boy. She grew 
up in the great shiro (palace) all 
alone, under the care of servants and 
tutors. None of the relatives cared 
to see her. Her mother died when 
she was born, and her father, being 
in the cabinet service of the Mika- 
do, rarely saw her. But though a 
maiden, as I have said, she had the 
90 



=/ 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

soul of a man, and she yearned to do 
the deeds of a man and a hero. 
Every morning of her life, as a little 
girl, she would prostrate herself be- 
fore her shrine and beseech the gods 
to perform some miracle whereby she 
might indeed become a man. But 
that was a child's prayer, and of 
course vain. So from childhood she 
came to womanhood. Looking one 
day into her mirror, she beheld the 
most beautiful face she had ever 
seen. Hitherto she had scorned to 
loiter over her mirror. Her thoughts 
were on other matters than her looks, 
she told herself. But this day she 
picked up her mirror on a sud- 
den impulse, and the face which 
looked back at her so enthralled 
her that she could not put it 
down. 

"'Why,' said she, 'I am the most 
mtiful maiden in Japan!' 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

a long time she continued to look 
at her face. Then she spoke again : 

"'And to think,' said she, 'that no 
one but my servants have ever seen 
me!'" 

"What did she look like?" asked 
Marion. 

" Well, let me see. I do not know 
whether Americans would regard her 
as the highest type of beauty, but to 
the Japanese mind she would have 
been considered peerless. Her hair 
was so black and shiny it was like 
lacquer. Sometimes when her maid 
would take it down it fell to her 
knees in a perfect glory of ebony. 
Her eyes were of the same color, al- 
most pure black, and they were very 
long and poetic looking, the thick 
lashes veiling them. Her brows were 
perfectly formed, a slim, silky black 
line above the eyes. Her nose was 
thin and very delicate. Her mouth 
92 













A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

was small, the lower lip a trifle point- 
ed, curling up just the least bit at 
the corners. The lips were red as 
blood. The shape of her face was 
oval, though her chin was delicately 
pointed. And she had tiny pink 
ears, as pretty as a baby's, and small, 
exquisite hands." 

"Kiyo," said Mrs. Kurukawa, gen- 
tly, "who is this Japanese Venus?" 
She smiled. 

"The Widow of Sanyo," he re- 
plied as gently. "This is as she ap- 
peared when she looked at her own 
image in the mirror. 

"Well, it was on that very day 
that Japan proclaimed war against 
China, and the country was pulsing 
with fever. Haru, as her name was, 
had spent many wretched hours in 
her chamber. Her despair and im- 
patience at being unable to serve the 
Mikado and her country, was break- 
93 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

ing her heart. What could she do, 
a helpless maiden? All the employ- 
ment left to women she scorned. 
She wanted to do something more 
than a mere woman could accom- 
plish. Her soul was the soul of a 
man, not a maiden's. All day she 
prayed, and all night, and then she 
looked into her mirror and saw 
that lovely face! Suddenly the face 
changed, became curiously illumi- 
nated. A great idea had come to 
her. It was this: 

"The gods had given her mar- 
vellous beauty. What man could 
resist her? She would wed a man, 
bear him children, and give them all 
to the Mikado. 

"That was her first thought. 

"But the war would be over by 
the time her children were grown 
and they might not be men! 

"No, that would never do! 
94 














i-^ 1& J 
fep^ 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



"A better way presented itself to 
her. She sprang wildly to her feet, 
and wildly she clapped her hands, 
so!" 

He illustrated her action, and the 
children did likewise, as they moved 
nearer their father to hear, their eyes 
wide with excitement. 

" Her servants came running to 
answer her summons. She bade 
them dress her in the most beautiful 
and luxurious garments. At once a 
dozen maids waited on, her. One 
brushed her glossy hair, dressed it in 
the most becoming mode, placed 
long, golden daggers and pins with 
sparkling stones glistening in them, 
and on either side of her ears set 
precious kanzashi. Another mani- 
cured, perfumed, and massaged her 
little hands. Still another softly 
kneaded her face until the blood 
sprang to the surface, and made it 
95 








A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 




more beautiful than any paint could 
do. Then they robed her in a rosy 
gown one fit only for a princess 
as perhaps she was." / 

He paused here, and the impatient 
children prompted him. 

"Well well?" / 

"What did she do then?" 

"She was carried from the house 
and gently lifted into a gorgeous 
norimono.'^ 

"Anoriihono!" cried Billy. "What's 
a norimono?" 

"Why a little something they 
used before jinrikishas." 

"But did not this all happen re- 
cently?" It was Marion's question. 

"Yes, that's so," admitted the ro- 
mancer. "Now that I think of it, 
what she did was to walk down to 
her gate and allow them to lift her 
into the jinrikisha. That's where 
the 'lifting' comes in." 
96 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"Then where did she go?" 

"I know," said Taro. 

"Where?" queried Billy. 

"She go ad temple." 

"What for?" 

"Pray to gods mek her man ride 
away." 

"Did she, father?" 

"No. She drove to " Again he 
paused. 

"Where? Where?" 

"To the house of the best known 
Nakoda in the town." 

"Nakoda!" Even Mrs. Kurukawa 
echoed the word. 

"Professional match-maker." 

" Oh-h what did she want there 
questioned Marion. 

"A husband," said Mr. Kuruka 
"Well, in she walked, and the Na- 
koda, when he beheld her glorious 
beauty, was overcome with the honor 
of her presence in his house. Said she : 
97 








" ' Honorable creature, cease to de- 
grade yourself at my insignificant 
feet. Pray arise.' 

"He did sp, humbly and apolo- 
getically. 

"Now, in 'America, a girl might 
have said: 'Have you any husbands 
for sale?' In Japan the girl said: 
'Deign to prepare a look-at meeting 
for me. I wish to marry.' 

"Then she proceeded to explain 
herself further by means of questions. 

"'Know you many men creatures 

depraved of mind they prefer not 

go to the war?' 

"'I am, alas, acquainted with 
many such depraved reptiles,' an- 
swered the Nakoda. 

"'Ah! Well, it is such a one I 
would marry. Do you think I can 
secure such a husband ?' 

" ' No man can look in the sublime 
direction of your serenity without 
98 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

immediately being willing to do any- 
thing you might command,' declared 
the Nakoda. 

"'That is well, then,' she smiled, 
graciously. 'Bring forth a man- 
worm!' 

"Well, a man- worm was brought 
forth and he fell at her feet. The 
thought of his great fortune in being 
able to marry any one so beautiful 
nearly drove him out of his senses. 

"They were married at once, with- 
out much ceremony, and she took 
him home. He was like one in a 
dream of heavenly bliss. Well, the 
first thing she said to him as they 
entered the palace was: 

"'Man, dost thou adore me?' 

" He fell on his face and kissed the 
hem of her robe." 

"Kiyo, I believe you're making it 
all up as you go along," interposed 
his wife here. 

99 







SSOM 



"Hush! Hush! We are coming 
to the thrilling part." 

"What a story to tell children!" 

" When does the war begin ?" asked 
Billy. 

"Oh, the war is going right on 
now. Well, then, he fell on his face ; 
she graciously bent over and lifted 
up his head, and she spoke in the 
most wooing of voices : 

" ' If you of a truth adore me, are 
you ready to die for me?' 

" He said he wanted to live for her. 
She shook her head, and said she 
wanted better proof of his affection 
than that. He then declared he 
would do anything she asked. 

"She thereupon said: 'You must 
be a soldier!' At this he began to 
tremble, for he was a great coward 
at heart. However, she kept him in 
her house for five days, teaching him 
the principles of bravery and valor. 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

At the end of that time she had so 
wrought upon his feelings that she 
persuaded him to enlist. She went 
in person to see him march away, 
which he did quite bravely for him! 
Her last words were the noble ones 
Japanese women say to their men at 
such a time : ' I give you to Ten-shi- 
sama. Come not back to me. Glori- 
ous may be your end. The blessings 
of Shahra upon you.' 

"He was not a good soldier; he 
turned out to be a wretched one, in- 
deed, and in a short time was killed. 
She was free again to marry. Then 
she chose another man-worm, and 
again she sacrificed him to her Em- 
peror, with the same result. He was 
one of those doomed in a transport 
sunk in Chinese waters. She mar- 
ried again, and her third husband 
was killed. Her fourth husband was 
blown to atoms, and her fifth met 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

the fate of the first. Her sixth died 
scarcely six months later, and her 
seventh died of melancholia while in 
Manchuria. 

"Now, seven is a lucky number, 
and she stopped there. She said: 
'If I marry another I will have no 
more luck. He will live, and I have 
given seven men already to the Em- 
peror. What woman of Japan has 
done more? Behold, I am a widow 
seven times over.' 

"That is why she is called 'The 
Widow of Sanyo.'" 

So the story ended. 

"Is she still beautiful?" questioned 
Plum Blossom, wistfully. 

"Very." 

"Ugh!" said Marion, "I think 
she's horrid." 

Taro rolled into Billy on the grass. 

"I'll be the next," said Billy. 

Iris was softly crying. 

102 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"Why, what's the matter?" asked 
her father. 

"Oh, father," said she, "I I'm 
afraid that she was the fox-woman 
who sent away our Gozo and not 
mother!" 

He embraced her. 

"There, it was a foolish story." 

"And told," said his wife, "in the 
way an American would tell it not 
a Japanese!" 

' ' Hm ! " Mr. Kuruka wa cleared his 
throat. "Well, I think you'll ad- 
mit I began in the most approved 
Japanese style, but as I went on I 
fell under your American influence, 
and by the time I reached the end 
the story was just as you might have 
told it." 

They gathered up their baskets 
and piled them into the jinrikishas. 
Juji was sound asleep on the grass 
The cherry-blossom petals had fall 

ay * - -^"- \ Tw5r -v ^" * 

103 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

so thickly upon him that he seemed 
half buried in them. Mr. Kurukawa 
bent over him tenderly. He turned 
his head back towards his wife; at 
once she came and knelt among the 
petals by his side. His voice was 
husky. 

" That is how my Gozo looked as a 
little boy," he said, softly. 

She kissed the sleeping Juji. 






w-i i^P 





XI 



EFE would be delightful were it 
made up entirely of flower pic- 
nics. But even in the land of sun- 
rise storms must come. 

The little family of Kurukawa, 
idling and playing in the small in- 
land town, for the nonce seemed to 
put behind them all thought of care. 
Even the father, in the first few 
weeks of his return, refused utterly 
to do otherwise than enjoy what he 
termed his "honeymoon" with his 
wife and children. But the honey- 
moon season began to wane. It was 
not possible for any Japanese, how- 
ever optimistic and cheerful in tem- 
s 105 



* 











JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



perament, at such a crisis in his 
nation's history to be free from care. 
Then, was not Gozo at the front? 
Mr. Kumkawa might laugh and play 
aH day with the children, but at 
night, when, worn out, they slept 
soundly and well, he would lie awake 
thinking and worrying. At first it 
was his boy Gozo who occupied his 
night thoughts to the exclusion of all 
else. After all, he was a true Jap- 
anese at heart, for, although father- 
like, he scarcely dared to think of 
the possible death of his son, yet he 
was glad that Gozo was serving the 
Mikado. All the papers, local and 
foreign, he could get he read with 
avidity. Because he knew it would 
give his wife pain, he read them at 
night when she was asleep. After a 
time the father-love was slowly push- 
ed aside for a greater, deeper emo- 
tion, the longing to help his country. 
106 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

He was of samurai ancestry, and 
patriotism was as natural and deep- 
rooted in him as life itself. Yet he 
had married a woman belonging to a 
country that believed that the men 
of his age did their duty best by re- 
maining at home, the protectors of 
the weak. So she had told him 
many times. Often he had believed 
himself convinced of its truth. 

But reading and hearing of his 
countrymen's sacrifices, struggles, 
splendid heroism and victories, a 
wavering, an aching grew within him 
to emulate their example and give 
himself to the glorious service of his 
nation. 

A Japanese wife would have shared 
in his confidence at this time, would 
have understood his feelings and suf- 
fered with him. More, she would 
have been the first to urge him, 
command him to leave her. 
107 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 






Mr. Kurukawa thought he under- 
stood completely the character of the 
American woman who was his wife. 
Hence he hid from her his feelings. 

But his wife was more sensitive 
than he knew. Her husband's evi- 
dent depression began to be noticed 
by her. She sought the cause, and 
attributed it to the absence of Gozo. 
She, too, suffered because she was 
the innocent cause of his exile. One 
night there was a moon festival in 
the little town. The people gathered 
in the river booths and drank their 
sake and tea in the moonlight. She 
remarked to her husband that more 
than three-quarters of the festival- 
makers were women. He had turned 
about with a sudden movement ; then 
answered in an almost hoarse voice: 

"That is as it should be." 

So silent and taciturn was he dur- 
ing the rest of the evening that for 
1 08 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

her the festival was spoiled ; but even 
the moon gave not enough light to 
show her tears. Restless that night, 
she could not sleep, or slept so lightly 
that she waked at intervals. It 
must have been almost morning, 
when, waking from a restless sleep, 
she saw the dim light of an andon 
shining through the paper shoji that 
divided their chamber from an ad- 
joining room ; clearly outlined by the 
light on the shoji was the silhouette 
of her husband. His bed was empty. 
She went to him quickly and pushed 
the shoji apart. Then she saw the 
papers about him on all sides. He 
had not time to hide them. His 
startled face betrayed him. 

She sank down on the floor beside 
him, terror in her eyes. 

"Kiyo!" she cried. "Oh, Kiyo! 
I understand everything. Why did 
you not tell me before?" 
109 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

He spoke with difficulty. His 
hands trembled as he folded up the 
papers. 

"It is all right, I read the news 
of the victories. What Japanese 
could help himself?" 

"Oh, but you read it in secret; 
you hide your feelings from me. 
Why do you not confide in me?" 

He took her hands and stroked 
them very gently. 

" If you were a Japanese woman " 
he began, when she interrupted: 

"It ought to make no difference 
what I am. I am your wife. Do 
not treat me as an alien a stranger." 

He drew her warmly to him at 
that. 

"No, I will not," he said. "I will 
tell you everything all my thoughts. 
You know, Ellen, I am of samurai 
ancestry, and as a young man I was 
brought up in that school. When I 
no 







JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

became old enough? I served for a 
time in the army. I hold a com- 
mission. Later, my father, who was 
one of the most enlightened of the 
men of old Japan, was imbued with 
the new thought. He put aside old 
traditions and pride. I was forced, 
so to speak, into a commercial life. 
Conditions changed for the samurai 
then. We were desperately poor for 
a time. They looked to me to re- 
deem the family fortunes. And to 
do it I had to be taken from one 
school of thought and put into an- 
other from samurai to tradesman. 
It was a strange transformation for a 
Japanese of such ancestry as mine. 
But I learned to like the work. If 
succeeded. You know of my long 
sojourn in America, till I could al- 
most believe that I thought as your 
people think, and saw things as you 
in America see them. I seemed to 



5? 











A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



^ 




be a living example of the evolution 
of an Oriental mind long swayed 
by Occidental environment. I called 
myself American many times, as you 
know. We came back here. The 
war, with all it meant to Japan, and 
the old patriotic feeling aroused, be- 
gan a struggle with my acquired Oc- 
cidental sense. Now I know that I 
never can be other than what I am 
by every inherent instinct a true 
Japanese' I loved you, so I feared 
to tell you. You married me think- 
ing possibly I was other than I am, 
Japanese only by birth, but of 
thought the same as you. That is 
why I have not confided in you." 

"But I knew it all the time," she 
said. "7 never thought you other 
than you were. Because you wore 
our dress, it did not make you of our 
country, nor did I love you for that, 
Kiyo. I did not require that you, 




J 




JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



should become like my people. /, 
as your wife, was willing to become 
one of you, if you would let me." 

For a long time he was silent. 
Then with a sudden impulse he held 
the light before her face. 

"Let me see your face then," he 
said, "when I tell you of my re- 
solve." 

"Tell me," she whispered; "I am 
not afraid." 

"I must give you up for one who 
has a larger claim upon me for be- 
loved Ten-shi-sama!" 

He saw her face whitening in the 
dim light. She tried to part her lips 
to speak, but no words came. Then 
she smiled, a smile so full of bravery 
and love that he almost dropped the 
light. 

"Now I know," he said, "that you 
are my own true wife not foreign to 
me, but as my wife should be." 
"3 











E BLOSSOM 

Then she spoke: "Yes, as a Jap- 
anese wife would be. Oh, Kiyo, / 
have understood them. It is not 
because they do not love their hus- 
bands that they do not weep and 
protest when they must lose them 
for a glorious cause. It is brave to 
give up the loved ones freely, will- 
ingly." 

He began rapidly to discuss plans 
for his going, watching her face 
closely. She bore it all with that 
brave cheerfulness peculiar to the 
Japanese woman. Only when he 
planned the disposition of his fort- 
une in case of his death, did she 
protest. 

" We will not anticipate the worst, 
Kiyo." 

" Is it not best to do so ?" he gently 
interposed. 

"I know it is Japanese," she said, 
wistfully, "but I will always look for 
114 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

you to return. In that you can't 
make me Japanese." 

"A Japanese soldier never expects 
to return. His wife gives him up 
forever. But I, like you, will have 
the better hope, my wife. I will 
come back to you." 

"It is a promise," she said, and for 
the first time her eyes were full of 
tears. He took her in his arms and 
held her closely. 

"It is a promise," he said, solemn- 
ly. He wiped the tears away from 
her eyes. 

" There must be no more of these, 
he said, "else how can I have the 
strength to go?" 

"I have shed my last tear, Kiyo," 
was her answer. "You have prom- 
ised me!" 






XII 

THE "glorious news," as they 
termed it, was given to the chil- 
dren the following morning. Even 
Juji was called to the family council, 
while the nurse-maid, Norah, held 
the baby in her arms. 

Mr. Kurukawa talked of his going 
to the front as if it were a cause to 
make them happy and rejoice. His 
words had the desired effect upon 
the Japanese children. Taro, Plum 
Blossom, and Iris were thrilled with 
pride and excitement. Taro wanted 
to rush out to the village at once to 
proclaim to every one the great tid- 
ings. His father was going to serve 
Ten-shi-sama. He was going to re- 
116 







K.SWO 



^ 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

cruit a new regiment from their town 
and vicinity. And they would all 
march away, with drums beating 
and the sun flag flying. His satis- 
faction and excitement spread to 
some extent to Billy, who began beg- 
ging his step -father to let him and 
Taro go, too, as "drummer-boys," 
just as the little boys in the Kipling 
stories did. But Marion stole from 
the room to weep. She loved her 
step-father as dearly as if he were her 
own father, and so in imagination she 
saw him wounded, or even killed. 
Her tender little heart was bruised 
at the thought. The pride and ela- 
tion of her step-brothers and sisters 
horrified her. She could not under- 
stand it. She cried out her thoughts 
in her mother's arms. 

"Oh, mamma, mamma, hear them 
singing! Oh! and papa may be 
killed, and they are glad glad /" 
117 























A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

She had expected her mother at 
least to understand, and to weep 
with her, but to her astonishment 
her mother put her gently from her 
arms. 

"Listen, Marion! Listen, darling, 
to what they are singing! Don't you 
know what it is ? It is the national 
hymn, Marion. Oh, my little girl, 
be brave, too, with them. There is 
nothing to cry about nothing 
nothing!" 

Taro bounded into the room, his 
cheeks aflame. "My f adder goin' 
ride away. Mebbe he leave to-marl- 
low." 

Billy's voice was heard in raised 
tones outside. 

"Then we can see into the chest 
to-day!" he cried, excitedly. 

"Yes." 

Taro rushed into the hall to speak 
in excited Japanese to his father. 
118 








A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

With the two boys clinging to his 
arms Mr. Kurukawa came into the 
room. 

"There's a little ceremony I have 
promised the boys, mother," he said. 
" It was once customary for Japanese 
soldiers to look at, and often wor- 
ship, the swords of their ancestors 
before starting for the seat of war." 

"We are going to look into the an- 
cestor's chest," cried Billy; "that old 
brown thing in the go-down." 

The "old brown thing" was 
brought reverently into the room by 
careful servants. At Mr. Kuruka- 
wa 's quiet command complete silence 
reigned before he touched it. Then 
he said, in the gravest of voices: 

"You children must learn to con- 
trol your feeling. You exhibit too 
much excitement. You, Billy, and 
Taro, both of you, evince the same 
excitement over a solemn occasion 
119 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

such as this, as you would over a 
festival or a game. Appreciate and 
remember this occasion, my boys." 

The boys, reproved, hung their 
heads. Mr. Kurukawa then opened 
the old chest. One by one he 
brought forth the various articles 
within it. Some of them were 
mouldering with age. These he han- 
dled with reverent touch. He ex- 
plained to the family what each relic 
was after this fashion: 

"This garment, my children, was 
worn exactly three hundred years 
ago by your ancestor, Carsunora. 
He was in the service of the Emperor. 
The Shogun Lyesade set a price upon 
his head, and after repeated battles 
with his clan they succeeded in sur- 
rounding his fortress at Carsunora. 
Here for fifty -five days they kept 
a siege. His brave men preferred 
death to surrender, despite the prom- 





mm-- 

' * 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



ise of Lyesade. Day and night the 
assault was made upon the fortress. 
Its turrets and windows were de- 
molished. Starvation stared them 
in the face. Still your ancestor held 
out. Finally one of the enemy start- 
ed a fire under the walls, and the 
brave ones were driven out into the 
open. Your ancestor was surround- 
ed on all sides. The swords of his 
enemy pierced him. See, there are 
the rents in his garments. It is said 
there were over a hundred wounds 
upon his body. But desperately and 
valiantly he fought on, killing or 
wounding all who came within touch 
of his sword. See it, my children, 
bent and rusty, with the very stains 
of the enemy's blood preserved upon 
it! But even the most valiant of 
heroes cannot bear up against a host 
of men. With his retainers dead on 
all sides, wounded by the eager 







JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

swords of a thousand enemies, he 
suddenly signified his intention of 
committing supuku. 

" For the first time in many hours 
the enemy, out of respect, lowered 
their weapons. Your ancestor broke 
his shorter sword here are the pieces. 
Then taking the longer one, he thrust 
it into his bowels, and expired." 

One bit of grewsome history after 
another he related to the children, 
listening with awe-struck faces. 

Subdued and very quiet the chil- 
dren left the room when the " cere- 
mony" was over. Marion alone had 
been unable to contain her emo- 
tion, and, weeping bitterly, had been 
sent from the room. Now husband 
and wife were alone for the first time 
that day. 

"Does it seem strange to you," he 
said, " that I should repeat such tales 
.to my children?" 






JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"No," she said, steadily, "not if 
they are accustomed to such things." 

"Japanese children are told stories 
of war from their youngest years. 
That is why they seem impassive 
when their own family's gory history 
is unfolded to them." 

"But the little girls," she said; 
"their eyes shone with as great a 
zeal as Taro's." 

"Yes, they are fine girls. You 
have heard of their ancestry." 

"And Taro?" she said. 

"Taro," smiled the father, "has a 
great sorrow. He is too young yet 
to emulate the deeds of his ancestors. 
His little heart is almost ready to 
burst with his longing." 

"Will it be the same with our 
baby?" she asked, earnestly. 

"Would you have it so?" was his 
question. 

She thought a moment, and then 
123 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

she said: "Yes yes, indeed. Who 
would not? Even our Billy is af- 
fected." 

" Billy has inquired most earnestly 
of me whether when he grew up he 
could be a Japanese soldier, and I 
told him he would have to be a Jap- 
anese citizen first. He said his father 
meaning me was Japanese, and 
he would be whatever he was!" 

"And so he will be," said she, ear- 
nestly. 

" But we will wait till he is a man 
to decide that," said her husband. 








XIII 



T 



HE old grandmother was the first 
to arise on the auspicious morn- 
ing. The sun had not yet made its 
appearance when she opened her 
shoji and looked out at the dawning. 
She dressed herself hastily, and 
then went to arouse the servants. 
While the family still slept the house 
was put in perfect order, and soon 
breakfast was preparing. When she 
had set all the maids at their tasks 
the grandmother returned to the 
floor above, and entered the room 
now shared jointly by Taro and 
Billy. Opening the shutters she let 
in the light. Then as they did not 
125 




K$A 
'W 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

stir, she deftly turned down their 
bedclothes and drew the pillows 
from beneath their heads. Taro sat 
up grumbling and yawning, while 
Billy turned over on his side, felt 
about for the pillow, and then slept 
uneasily without it. Taro, now awake, 
shook Billy. 

"Oh, let me sleep," complained 
Billy. 

"All ride," said Taro, slipping out 
of bed and beginning to put on his 
clothes quickly. "You kin sleep 
when we marsh off with my fadder. 
No more Pdrt Authur. Soon no 
more Lussians!" 

Billy was out of bed in a minute, 
suddenly recalled to the fact of what 
this day was to bring forth. 

"I'll beat you dressing," said he. 

Meanwhile, Madame Sano was help- 
ing the little girls with their toilets. 

Iris was standing patiently while 
126 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



her hair was being dressed in an 
elaborate mode. Plum Blossom, her 
round, fat little face still flushed with 
sleep, was sitting on the floor draw- 
ing on a white stocking. 

A maid was helping Marion. The 
latter 's hair was arranged in the 
same fanciful mode as her step- 
sister's. 

" Grandmother, please let me wear 
my new cherry-blossom kimono to- 
day," coaxed Iris. 

"You must wear your white," said 
the grandmother; " all wear white to- 
day. You must look your best. 
Now, Plum Blossom, let O'Chika 
arrange your hair." 

"Please, grandmother, tie my obi. 
You do it so beautifully," begged 
Marion. 

Smiling, Madame Sano pulled and 
twisted the little girl's kimono into 
correct shape, wound the sash about 



127 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



/ 




her, and tied it in a huge bow be- 
hind. Then she slipped a fan and 
two little paper handkerchiefs into 
the sleeves of each little girl. Now 
that they were all ready, she took 
occasion to give them a short lecture. 

"You mus' westr sweed, smiling 
face to-day, lid^le gells. No more 
cry." /. 

"Oh, grandmother, how can I help 
it?" asked Marion, a catch in her 
voice which already betokened the 
forbidden tears. "I'd better stay 
home. I can't see father go away to 
that awful, cruel war." 

"When Gozo went away I nebber 
cry one tear!" said Plum Blossom, 
fervently. 

"I no cry needer," said Iris; "and 
when he say good-bye I laff and wave 
both these han's like this." 

"She have flag in both those 
han's," explained Plum Blossom. 
128 



> / v \Vv-^c^*>^*-^v - 

' * 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"She have my flag also; so when I 
also wave my han's I have no flag, 
but jus' same me / laff, too." 

"Oh, didn't Gozo feel bad to see 
you laughing at him like that?" 

"No," cried Plum Blossom, indig- 
nantly. "My! how good he feel. 
He hoi' himself like thisaway." She 
threw out her chest in illustration. 
"And when he reached corner of 
street he put Juji down." 

" Juji ? Where was he ? " 

"Gozo carry him on shoulder all 
way down stleet. And Taro he 
too marsh ride nex' his side with 
Gozo. Then when Gozo reach that 
corner he put Juji down and he put- 
ting his han' on his head thisaway, 
and then he turn quick, and thad was 
las' time we saw Gozo." 

Her voice fell at the end, and her 
face had now a distressed expres- 
sion. 

129 




w 



J **xiJv$er& 





BLOSSOM 

* '--&S _^ i^^ifSiSf-Lj 

"/ only cry after he gone way," 
admitted Iris. 

Plum Blossom turned on her 
fiercely. 

" If you talk of thad cry now, you 
goin' cry agaia, and to-day you mus' 
smile, account^ our f adder marshing, 
too." 

Iris smothered all signs of tears. 

"Me? I cry to-day?" she said. 
"Never I cry." 

"Did Juji cry?" asked Marion, 
curiously, mindful of the child's 
talent in that direction. 

"No, Juji never cry, even after 
Gozo gone. Everybody cry then 
'cept Juji. He forget he god brud- 
der naime Gozo." 

"Now all honorably go down- 
stairs and sedately wait for your 
august parents to descend for break- 
fast." 

Later the grandmother dressed lit- 
130 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

tie Juji, and the baby, too, for the 
lazy Norah could not see the neces- 
sity for such early rising, and grum- 
bled at being awakened. 

"Shure an' wot time is it he's 
afther goin' away?" she inquired of 
the grandmother. 

"Your master go away at three 
o'clock," said the grandmother, qui- 
etly.. 

"Thray o'clock! In the afther- 
noon, may I arsk?" 

"Certainly." 

"And you get up at thray in the 
morning because he laves at thray in 
the afthernoon?" 

The grandmother did not answer. 
She was unused to such questioning 
from her own servants, and found it 
hard to tolerate it from the Irish 
girl. But Norah persisted: 

"What's the sinse of getting up 
before you're awake?" 




'#*> 



;OJ 





The grandmother -condescended an 
explanation. 

"We desire to make this day a 
long one, since we can't have your 
master with us long." 

Still grumbling, the Irish girl dress- 
ed herself, and then took the baby 
from the grandmother. 











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- 









\ 



'in 






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 jack- 
knife, such a one as he had long 
saved to buy for himself. A little 
Bible was Marion's gift. The grand- 
parents gave the most sensible gift 
certain clothes he would appreciate, 
compactly rolled in a small bundle, 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

and consisting of Japanese under- 
wear 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 
sofhething 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, " Remem- 
ber 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 prom 
ised that he would. 










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. Kuru- 
kawa 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- 
136 



KSANQ 





A J 



ing his throat. When they reached 
the house they found all the blinds 
drawn. Suspecting that the "fe- 
males," as Taro called them, had re- 
tired to weep in their rooms, Taro 
drew Billy towards the pond. 

"Let's play," said he. 

Billy shook his head. 

" Play fight, ' ' urged Taro. " / will 
be Admiral Togo you be the Lus- 
sian 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 Japan- 
ese. /'// be Togo. I'm the oldest." 

Taro shook his head. 

"I tell you what," said Billy. 
" Juji can be the Russian. See how 













A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

sleepy and lazy he looks. Let's just 
duck him in the water and wake him 

He'll cry too much." 
Oh, the Russians all cry and 
y and make a big noise, but they 
'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. 




XV 

OUMMER, with its flowers, car- 
O nivals, moonlight fetes and ban- 
quets, is a season of unalloyed bliss to 
Japanese children. It seemed as if 
all nature took a holiday, and bade 
the children and the grown folks, 
too, come forth from their houses 
and rejoice at her beauty and happi- 
ness. 

Never before had the Japanese held 
so many celebrations. But this year 
their festivals were not in honor of 
the beauty of the flowers or the 
glory of the moon. They tossed 
their fans, their parasols, any article, 
above their heads. They marched 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

the streets of the towns at night 
with swinging lanterns and torches in 
their hands, sometimes singing and 
always shouting, "Banzai! Banzai!" 
Impassive faces turned ruddy with 
excitement and pride. Even deli- 
cate-faced ladies leaned from their 
jinrikishas in the public streets and 
waved the sun flags in their hands. 
Never had a flower festival drawn 
forth such enthusiasm and excite- 
ment. On all sides people spoke the 
word, breathlessly, with smiling lips: 

"Victory! Always victory for Dai 
Nippon." 

The Kurukawa family caught the 
spirit of the country. There was not 
a member of the little flock that did 
not feel a personal pride in Japan's 
achievements. Even Mrs. Kuruka- 
wa, after the first shock of the act- 
ual sense of loss had passed, re- 
fused to be oppressed by her sorrow. 
140 












A JAPANESE BLOSS 



By this time her husband's friends in 
the town were hers. She became a 
member of a society which had for 
its aim the succor of the town's poor 
families whose wage-earners had been 
given to the war. No Western wom- 

Ien's club or society ever worked 
harder than did these little Japanese 
women when they took upon them- 
selves the actual support of the poor 
of the town. Mrs. Kurukawa found 
a wonderful comfort in the work. 
All the little girls assisted. Immedi- 
ately after the departure of her hus- 
band the grandmother had come to 
her with a suggestion that at first she 
could not understand. 

"Now that the master has gone," 
had said the old woman, "shall we 
not dismiss all the servants?" 

"But why?" she had inquired, as- 
tonished. "We can afford to keep 
them, can we not?" 
141 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



Madame Sano could not make her 
reasons understood. For a time she 
went about the house very gloomy 
and unhappy, shaking her old head 
as the servants waited upon their 
mistress and the children. She her- 
self refused to be waited upon. Her 
own meals she cooked herself. It 
was shortly after she had become a 
member of the Aid Society that Mrs. 
Kurukawa learned from another 
member that most of the war families 
had dismissed their servants, or kept 
at most but one scullery maid. The 
little Japanese lady told her at the 
same time that none of them had 
bought new clothes since the begin- 
ning of the war, and that some of 
them had refused fire, food, and lux- 
uries. The reason was this. Their 
husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers 
were suffering hardship and peril. It 
would be unseemly for them to live 
142 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



in a, 




luxury. Since they .could not 
share that hardship at the front with 
their men they would deny them- 
selves at home. 

"But what of the servants?" Mrs. 
Kurukawa had asked. "They would 
be without employment." 

The answer was prompt. "The 
men-servants belong to the war 
service. Some of the women receive 
reduced wages. The money saved is 
devoted to charity. The servants 
themselves understand that they, too, 
must make sacrifices. Some of them 
are sent by their mistresses to the 
homes of the poor and the sick, there 
to work." 

When she returned home Mrs. j 

urukawa called the family together 
to tell them of her resolve. They 
ould keep but one maid -servant 
and Norah, the nurse. The maid- 
servant would do the cooking and 
T 43 











A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



/ 



the scullery work. Marion, Plum 
Blossom, and Iris were to do all the 
chamber work and keep the second 
floor clean and sweet. Madame Sano 
would do the sewing. The boys 
must take care of the garden and 
draw the water. Mrs. Kurukawa 
would see to the rest of the house. 
As the average Japanese family of 
similar circumstances kept a great 
many servants in fact, any num- 
ber of "assistants," cook's assistant, 
scullery assistant, etc. the Kuru- 
kawas had in all fourteen, including 
the men who worked in the garden 
and the rice-fields. Of these, one old 
man's services were retained. The 
younger men were advised to enlist 
if they could. If not, they would re- 
ceive reduced wages and be employed 
in caring for the poor. So the work 
previously done by the servants was 
now done cheerfully and happily 
144 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

by the members of the Kurukawa 
family. 

No chamber-maid ever cleaned a 
sleeping-chamber with more pleasure 
than did the little girls. Their hair 
wrapped about in white linen, their 
sleeves rolled up, they made the 
bamboo brooms fly across the floor. 

" If one liddle bit of dust be in cor- 
ner even," said Plum Blossom, "I 
shall die of shame." 

That was the spirit of all. 

They who had never known what 
it was to wash their own bright faces, 
now joyfully did all such services for 
themselves and for one another. They 
were always so busy that they found 
no time for sadness. They arose 
with the sun to busy themselves in 
the house throughout the mornings. 
The afternoon was given to more 
pleasurable work. They would sew 
and embroider in the garden, or write 
i45 










i<&8W i ^3S8&r 

A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 
1 !^3 *) **"** /55 V^**^ 

letters to their father and Gozo. 
Often all of them would go on mis- 
sions of charity to the town. Japan 
has no actual slums in her smaller 
' towns. Asylums and "Refuges" are 
scarcely needed. The charity work 
done is all personal, and perhaps, 
better. 














XVI 

OCTOBER forced the little family 
in-doors. It was a bleak month, 
cold and chilly this year. There is 
a general superstition in Japan that 
this desolate month, when the gods 
are all absent, will bring disaster to 
all who observe events connected 
with home joys. The Kurukawas 
were Christians, and had no faith in 
these childish superstitions; never- 
theless, they instinctively felt the 
contagion of the general feeling of 
dreariness everywhere. Nearly every 
afternoon they were wont to gather 
together in the great ozashiki, and 
there they would talk of the war, or 
M7 










A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

listen to tales of their ancestors' valor 
told by the grandfather, a garrulous 
story-teller when once upon a theme 
that pleased him. It is true his 
English was at times almost unin- 
telligible, and he chose the most gory 
subjects for his tales, but he held his 
listeners spellbound . Indeed , Marion , 
high-strung and excitable as she had 
been, became quite hardened and 
used to stories of bloodshed. 

"I believe, mamma," she said, "/ 
could see a great fight now without 
closing my eyes." 

The gloominess of the month was 
broken by a great letter from the 
father. It had been written Sep- 
tember 5th, during the action at 
Lyago-yang. He told the family 
little or nothing of the war itself be- 
yond simple descriptions of his com- 
panions and of Russian prisoners he 
had seen. There was no word of the 
148 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

hardships, no word of the battles 
fought, and he was now a veteran. 
He wrote that at night when he 
closed his eyes he could see them all 
so clearly, as they had looked in their 
cherry gowns on that day pf the 
flower festival. It seemed now so 
far away that he sometimes wonder- 
ed if he were the same man who, 
covered with cherry-blossom petals, 
told them the foolish story of "The 
Widow of Sanyo." There were mes- 
sages for each child individually. 
Finally he wrote that he had not 
seen Gozo, but that he knew of his 
whereabouts. Soon he hoped to be 
with him. 

The children rushed for their little 
writing-desks. Soon, heels doubled 
under, all of them were busily en- 
gaged in writing to father. Mrs. 
Kurukawa, too, writing at her desk, 
described the absorbed group about 
149 










^;,,p 

V 0*- 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

her. After a time the various epistles 
were read aloud by their authors. 
With her little lisp Plum Blossom 
read her letter: 

"HONORABLE FADDER, We got you 
proud ledder. Oh, how happy we feel! 
I kees this ledder ride this one place. 
Please kees me bag agin. I lig kees. I 
am now chamber-maid and Marion she 
also chamber-maid and Iris also. House 
never so clean before. We keep light all 
time burn for you and Gozo. Juji burn 
his liddle finger with match. When we 
hear of grade victory we blow plenty fire 
worg and Juji burn match. Thas some- 
thing for him. I am now soon 13 years 
ole. Kees agin that spot as I do. 
"Your most obedient and filialest 
"daughter foraver, 

"P. B." 

As soon as Plum Blossom ceased, 

Iris began reading. Her letter 

proved to be, however, an almost 

exact copy of her sister's, for, sitting 

150 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

close to Plum Blossom, she had 
simply copied her sister's letter bod- 
ily, thus saving herself the labor of 
composition. They all laughed when 
she re-read Plum Blossom's letter. 
Marion read hers shyly. 

"DEAR FATHER, Please come back 
soon. I pray for you every night. Have 
you got my Bible still? I hope you read 
it. Do you remember Miss Lamb in 
Chicago? She used to be my Sunday- 
school teacher, and when you became my 
papa she told me to be sure to urge you to 
read the Bible, for that was the way to 
convert the heathen, and I told her you 
were not a heathen, but my own dear 
father, and the best man in the world. 
But I don't know why I condescended to 
write about Miss Lamb at this time. It 
makes my letter so long. 

Dear father, I do love you. Mamma 
cries for you at night." 

She was interrupted here by a pro- 
test from the family. Father ought 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

not to be told of tears. So she 
scratched that sentence out labori- 
ously, and then continued: 

"I know she cries at night, because her 
eyes show it, and it's because she loves 
you so. So please come back to her at 
once and " 

Billy interrupted this time. " How 
much longer is it?" he asked, gruffly. 
Marion continued, her face flushed: 

" and this is all, dear father, and I 
hope you will win the fight, only please, 
please don't kill anybody or let any one 
kill you. Your own little 'Yankee girl,' 
"MARION." 

"P. S. Give my best love to Gozo, and 
tell him I pray for him, too, and, please, 
also, would you lend him the Bible I gave 
you sometimes?" 

It was Taro's turn. He began 






!LOSS( 



reading in Japanese, but was forced 
to translate: 

"AUGUST FATHER, I would like much 
be with you and fight. I could kill 
ten Russians now for Samurai Komatzou 
taught me some great tricks. Billy 
,ys I would make a giant Russian look 
like ' 30 cents.' Billy also wants to be 
Japanese soldier. We hope war lasts till 
we grow up so your two dutiful sons may 
enlist. I sign myself now your unworthy 
son, 

"TARO." 

Billy's letter was characteristic. 

"DEAR FATHER, Are there any drum- 
mer-boys our age? Have you killed any 
Russians yourself? How did you do it? 
Did you shoot him or run your sword 
through his bowels like that ancestor you 
told us about did ? Do you use my jack- 
knife any? I hope it's useful. I wish I 
was grown - up. Say, would you ask 
Gozo, when you see him, to send me some 
Russian buttons. He sent one to Marion. 
153 







JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

It was all rusty, and she gave it to me, as 
Taro told there was blood on it. Taro 
and I worked very hard this summer in 
the garden, but it's great sport. We pre- 
tended we were digging trenches, and 
whenever we found stones we said they 
were bullets, and we piled them up to- 
gether, and after a time had lots of am- 
munition. Say, there's a French boy 
living out here, and he told Taro that 
after a time there'd be no Japs left, be- 
cause Japan was so small, and he said 
we'd all be killed off, and he said that the 
regiments would have to have boys in 
them soon, because his father said so. Is 
it true, and if so, can't Taro and I come 
at once ? Taro licked the Frenchy till he 
squeaked for mercy, and his father came 
out and jabbered a lot of gibberish, and 
he got terribly excited and said, 'Insoolt 
to France!' and everybody laughed at 
him. Well, this is all. We want the 
French boy to play war with us, but he's 
like Rojestvensky, he bluffs but we'll 
catch him yet. Say, father, write some- 
thing about the fight and if you're wound- 
ed anywhere. Aff., " BILLY." 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"Talk about long letters," said 
Marion. 

"Oh, well," said Billy, "/ had 
something to say. Besides, if it's 
true what the Frenchy says, Taro 
and I will be soldiers soon, too, and 
father ought to know." 














T 



XVII 

'HERE was a long silence from 
the soldier in Manchuria. The 
Kurukawas, like many other fam- 
ilies in Japan, watched for the mail 
each day with greedy feverishness. 
But the autumn passed away and 
there was no further word from 
Kurukawa. He had told his wife 
she must expect these long silences. 
There were reasons that she must 
understand for such interludes. A 
soldier's letter cannot be had every 
day. And so she waited with the 
patience worthy of a brave woman. 
But when December was ushered in 
with a little drift of snow, and she 
156 




A JAPANESE BL 

knew that winter was coming, her 
thoughts wandered unceasingly to 
that one out there in the frozen Man- 
churia, and, brooding over it, her 
strength gave way. Nights passed; 
alone with a terrified imagination fur- 
ther exhausted her. Suddenly she 
decided that she must go at once 
to Tokio and make inquiry of the 
Minister of War of the fate of her hus- 
band. Leaving Juji and the baby at 
home, she took the three little girls 
and two older boys with her. She 
told the children nothing of her fears. 
They believed the trip to Tokio was 
made for the purpose of making pur- 
chases for the Christmas and New- 
Year's season. 

"When you come back," had said 
the smiling old grandmother, "the 
honorable house will be quite new 
and fresh for New- Year's." 

The children were excited by the 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



prospect of a visit to Tokio. The 
Japanese children had never been in 
the large town. Thus it actually fell 
to Billy and Marion to describe Tokio 
to them, for they had passed two days 
in the city. 

The little party arrived at the 
Shinbasi Station, where they took 
jinrikishas and rode through the be- 
wildering streets to the Imperial Ho- 
tel. As it was past six o'clock, the 
children after dinner went straight to 
bed, thoroughly tired out. But Mrs. 
Kurukawa sought to see some one 
who could allay her anxiety. There 
were only two clerks left in the War 
Office at this hour. They were ex- 
cessively polite and even sympa- 
thetic, going over all the lists of the 
dead and wounded they possessed. 
There were two Kurukawas among 
the wounded, but neither was her 
husband. She felt that a great load 
158 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

had been lifted from her, and with a 
happier heart she drove back to the 
hotel. For the first time in many 
days she slept in peace. 

Early in the morning she was 
awakened by the children. They 
were crowded at the windows, look- 
ing out upon the streets and chatter- 
ing. 

"I'm going to buy all my gifts to- 
day," announced Marion, "because 
if we don't buy early all the best 
things will be snapped up," she add- 
ed, wisely. 

Taro said, reflectively: "I'm going 
to wait till second January." 

"Second January!" cried Billy. 
"Why, that's after Christmas!" 

Taro nodded. 

" I nod give Christmas presents. I 
give only New- Year's gift." 

" Oh, Taro!" cried Marion. " Why, 
we're going to have a Christmas-tree! 




\\ 











A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

Who wants to wait till January 
second?" 

" But thad is day the otakara 
(treasure - ships) are on streets," ex- 
plained Plum Blossom-. 

"Yes," said Iris, iy and in Tokio he 
has beau-tee-ful presents." 

"Mother says, we'll be home for 
Christmas. So how can you wait till 
January second?" 

The little Japanese children's faces 
fell. 

"Tha's true," admitted Iris, de- 
jectedly. 

"Oh, well," said Plum Blossom, 
consolingly, "the toshironschi is open 
in December, and I wan' take home 
wiz me plenty mochitsuki" (nice 
pastry). 

" Are you dressed, children ?" asked 
Mrs. Kurukawa, coming into the 
room. 

They were in their quaint blue 
1 60 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

linen Japanese night-dresses, a queer 
little group, all barefooted. 

They dressed quickly, busily talk- 
ing and planning as they did so. 
The day was to be spent in the stores 
of Tokio. Never were there more 
enticing stores to shop in, the chil- 
dren thought. They got out their 
little savings, rolled up in paper 
handkerchiefs in their sleeves, and 
counted them over and over. 

Billy had the most money, nearly 
twenty dollars in all. He had not 
saved a penny, but becoming des- 
perate as the Christmas season ad- 
vanced, he had sold nearly all his 
American clothes to various sus- 
ceptible Japanese youth of the town. 
One paid him two dollars for a sail- 
or hat. A young man of eighteen 
years now wore the twelve-year-old 
Billy's short trousers under a kimono. 
Three of his shirts had been pur- 
161 







BLOSSOM 



chased by Miss Summer, which she 
proudly wore on festival occasions. 
Even his suspenders had proved 
marketable, and also his heavy shoes 
and rubbers. When he had asked 
his mother's permission to "give" 
his clothes a^ay she had laughed 
and told him' that by the time he 
ceased to wear kimonos again he 
would be too large for the American 
clothes he now possessed, and so had 
lightly given her consent. But she 
was quite distressed when she learned 
he had sold them. Billy, however, 
was equal to the occasion, and soon 
persuaded her that he had done right. 
"It would have been wrong to make 
the proud Japanese accept second- 
hand American clothes as charity." 
So BiDy was now rich, and accord- 
ingly avaricious. He wished he had 
a hundred dollars instead of twenty 
dollars; then he could buy camt 

162 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

and guns and such things which cost 
plenty of money, but since there was 
such a large family, and since the 
Japanese had to have presents at 
New- Year's as well, he couldn't afford 
costly ones. In any event he wanted 
them all to know that he was not 
going to spend more than half his 
money, as he was saving the other 
half for something for himself he 
wouldn't tell what. 

Ten dollars was Taro's total, but 
he had in addition an unopened bank 
half full of sen (pennies). He had 
been saving all summer, and would 
have had a larger sum, but he had 
generously contributed two yen to the 
support of an old coolie whose sons 
were at the war and whom his mother 
was befriending. Billy, too, had made 
a like contribution, though he said 
nothing about it now. Taro, however, 
could not forget that two yen. 
163 











*^fl^WV 








SSOM 



"If I had thad two yen more I 
could buy fine present for you, Billy, 
but I have only liddler got I gotter 
buy for girls first. Mebbe I buy you 
something if I have aeny left." 

"Well, you'd just better," snorted 
Billy, "and you know what I want." 

Taro grunted discontentedly, but 
made no rash promises. 

"How much have you got?" Billy 
asked Plum Blossom, who had her 
money arranged in a neat row. 

"Three yen and " she began 
counting the sen again. 

"And you, Iris?" 

"Jus' same Plum Blossom," said 
Iris, who had not bothered to count. 

"Why, no, you silly, you haven't. 
I'll count for you." ' Iris possessed 
three yen and seventy-five sen, about 
two dollars and a quarter. 

Marion had seven dollars; two dol- 
lars she had saved, and five dollars 
164 




JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



an aunt had sent her "to buy a 
pretty kimono with." 

" But I have lots of kimonos," said 
Marion, " so I'll buy Christmas pres- 
ents instead, as it's more blessed to 
give than to receive," she added, 
piously. 

"All right," grinned Billy. "You 
must not expect to receive much, sis." 




": 



XVIII 

WHEN the little Kurukawa fam- 
ily started for the shopping dis- 
trict the streets were bathed in the 
beautiful early winter sun. In a city 
where the distances are very great, 
where large parks and actual stretches 
of bare country exist in seemingly the 
centre of the town and where the 
streets zigzag in every direction, it is 
a matter often of hours to reach cer- 
tain points. But the children en- 
joyed the long ride. They would 
have laughed aloud at the average 
foreigner's complaint against the 
"jerking jinrikisha." What child 
does not prefer a vehicle that bumps 
166 






;TO Ht 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

up and down a bit to one that runs 
inanely and smoothly? 

Taro and Billy occupied one jin- 
rikisha, Marion and Plum Blossom 
another, while Iris rode with her 
mother. , They called across merrily 
to each other. When one runner, 
swifter-footed for the moment than 
his fellows, sped on ahead, the pair 
in advance would cheer in delight. 

The speed with which the jinriki- 
men ran, Billy thought wonder- 
ful. 

" They would beat anybody at our 
Sunday-school picnic races," he told 
Taro. 

It would be great fun, suggested 
Taro, if some time they could come 
to Tokio alone and apprentice them- 
selves to jinriki-men. Then they 
would learn to run! The sugges- 
tion thrilled Billy. He saw in it 
glowing possibilities of easily 
7 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

money; the opportunity to own a 
jinrikisha and learn to run like the 
wind. But, then, how would they 
be soldiers ? Certainly their military 
ambitions came first. 

At the end of two hours' running 
they drew up before a tea-house 
which stood within a little park of its 
own. Smiling and bowing the jin- 
riki-men suggested that their patrons 
must be thirsty, as they, the runners, 
were. Would they not condescend 
to refresh themselves with tea and 
sweetmeats ? The suggestion went 
to the hearts of the children. They 
had no idea how hungry they were, 
and so "mother" smilingly nodded 
to the little, begging faces. In a few 
moments they were within the tea- 
house. At that season of the year 
the tea-house is not well patronized, 
but as it was close to the noon hour, 
a number of Japanese business-men 





sat at the various tables eating their 
luncheon. 

A maiden with roguish black eyes 
came running over to the Kurukawas 
to help the children into their seats. 
Her rosy mouth slipped open as she 
saw that her visitors, despite their 
dress, were not all Japanese. For a 
moment she stood perfectly still s 
ing at Marion, but when Mrs. K 
kawa addressed her she slipped to 
her knees, bowed very deeply, and 
inquired what they might command 
her to bring. 

All of them wanted tea and sweet- 
meats except Billy, who insisted upon 
having a piece of rare steak with 
fried onions. When Taro translated 
this astonishing order the little maid 
shook her head and laughingly de- 
clared that they were too poor a 
house to serve such extraordinary 
luxuries. 

is 169 







JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



"Well," said Billy, crossly, "I'm 
tired of rice-cakes and sweet things. 
I want something else. Do you keep 
chop-suey?" It was a dish he liked 
very much, having become acquaint- 
ed with it through a Chinese cook 
lately employed. The little maid 
thought she might bring something 
resembling chop-suey. So she sped 
away to fill the orders. Soon she 
was back, followed by another maid 
carrying the luncheon on black lac- 
quer * trays. The omelets ordered 
by Mrs. Kurukawa were served in 
the most attractive shapes. Each 
omelet was formed in a different 
pattern, as a chrysanthemum, a twig 
of pine-tree, a plum blossom. 

"They're too pretty to eat," said 
Marion, looking with delight at the 
flower form before her. 

Billy's chop-suey was a chicken- 
stew, to which had been added 
170 




"THE LITTLE WAITRESS BROUGHT HER SAMISEN AND .... BEGAN 
TO PLAY AND SING " 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

mushrooms. As they ate the meal 
the little waitress brought her sami- 
sen, and, running her fingers lightly 
across it, she began to first play and 
then to sing: 

"Oh, the soldiers march awayj 
See them march away. 
The maids at home must stay, 
Hush! do not weep, but pray, 

Oh, the soldiers march away! 

"Oh, how long now will they stay? 
No one truth can say. 
When soldiers march away, 
List! often 'tis for aye, 

Oh, the soldiers march away!" 

Her queer little staccato voice fell 
mournfully at the end, and the sami- 
sen concluded her song in its lower 
keys. 

Plum Blossom tried to explain to 
them what it was she sang, though 
both Billy and Marion now partially 
understood the language. 
171 








A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"The soldiers marching way, nae- 
ver, naever come bag. All maidens 
must not cry, bud pray for them." 

She threw a reproachful look at 
Marion, who had wept so often. 

"Tell her to sing something hap- 
py," said Billy. 

Mrs. Kurukawa addressed the girl, 
as she spoke Japanese with more 
than usual fluency. 

"Whose songs do you sing?" 

"My own, honored one." 

"You make up your own songs?" 

"Yes, gracious lady." 

"The music, too?" 

"Yes, augustness. By profession 
I am a geisha, but since the war our 
business is so poor we are obliged to 
become tea- waitresses also." 

"And are geishas also poetesses 
and musicians?" 

"Yes, gracious one. Shall I write 
my honorably foolish poetry for you, 
172 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



and will you condescend to accept 
it?" 

"I should be delighted. I should 
keep it always . But sing to us again. ' ' 

She sang shrilly, to the high notes 
of her samisen: 

"Look! the moon is peeping, 

Little maid, take care.' . 
Lovers trysts are keeping, 
Little maid, take care! 



vers oft are weeping, 

Little maid, take care! 

When the moon is peeping, 

Little maid, take care! 

'Who is this comes creeping! 

Little maid, take care! 
Hah! the moon still peeping, 

Little maid, take care! 

'Oh, the heart upleaping! 
Little maid, take care! 
Lovers? moon a-peeping! 
No! It's brother there! 
Little maid, take care!" 
173 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

Still squatting on her heels, the 
little geisha-girl wrote her poems in 
Japanese characters for the American 
woman. Then bowing very deeply 
she presented them to her, saying 
sweetly : 

"Two sen, highness, one sen for 
each poem." 

Mrs. Kurukawa paid the price, and 
laughed as she did so. 



i 







IP- 

f\ 




XIX 



THE tea-house was only a short 
distance from the shops, and the 
runners, rested and refreshed by 
sake, drew them swiftly into the 
heart of the town. Soon they were 
in a shop kept by a tiny Japanese, 
very old and very wrinkled, who 
begged, as he bowed deeply, that 
they would help themselves to all 
they saw in his most insignificant 
shop. The 'magnificence of this offer, , 
made in intelligible English, quite de- 
lighted Billy. He began to have 
visions of what he would do with his 
twenty dollars since this Japanese 
was so polite that he was actually 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

offering to give them the articles. 
Soon he was undeceived. In a short 
time the unwary children were en- 
meshed in the wily bargaining web 
of the shrewd small merchant of 
Tokio. 

Billy saw a flag which warmed his 
heart. It was a large Japanese flag, 
with the sun solidly embroidered in 
its centre. What a gift to send to 
his father! In imagination he saw 
the flag torn and cut by bullets. He 
priced it. It was ten dollars. The 
old man insinuated that he might 
take eight dollars for it. Billy shook 
his head, swallowing deep disap- 
pointment. The old man would let 
it go for five dollars. No ? Possibly 
the young augustness was poor? 
Billy flushed proudly and dipped 
into his sleeve for his money. Then 
he said, sturdily: "I'll give you a 
dollar for it." 

176 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

The old man shrugged, protested, 
but finally rolled up the flag tenderly 
and gratefully took the dollar in ex- 
change. 

"My goodness!" said Billy, "are 
there Jews in Japan?" 

"Be careful, Billy," his mother 
warned. 

She herself, however, was feeling 
strangely drawn towards a certain 
padded silk dressing sack, heavily 
embroidered with chrysanthemums 
of the color most admired by her 
husband. Unlike Billy, she did not 
pause to bargain. Her husband had 
warned her: "The Japanese shop- 
keeper will take what he can get. 
Set your price and give no more." 

"I'll give you five dollars for that," 
said she. Then she felt ashamed of 
herself when he, with a sad shake of 
his head, began wrapping it up for 
her. 





T-'v2ipKSfflffl -> v SoSf 




- vv :j > 

; BLOSSOM 



The little girls' purchases were 
trifling but pretty. Their sleeves, 
being full of parcels, hung down on 
either side like heavy bags. Billy's 
and Taro's purchases, however, were 
so large that *there was some ques- 
tion how they 'were to be carried. 

Three swords, an old American 
rifle, and a water-pistol were among 
Taro's acquisitions. Billy had his 
. large flag, a soldier's uniform, a 
miniature cannon, and a folio of 
bright pictures describing war. At 
the last moment his conscience smote 
him. Neither he nor Taro had 
bought presents for the girls. Both 
had been too absorbed in buying 
things for boys. They put their 
heads together and whispered now. 
Ten cents remained to each. Taro 
bought toothpicks, cheapest face- 
powder, nail - polish and a back- 
scratcher, each article costing three 
178 











A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

cents. He grudgingly gave up one 
of the articles he had already, and 
instead purchased for the mother a 
pot of the rosiest paint. 

Billy, too, begrudged the money 
necessary to spend on the girls, so he 
was determined not to part with any 
of his own things. His gifts cost in 
the neighborhood of a cent or two 
cents each. For Marion he bought 
one paper handkerchief, for Plum 
Blossom a brass ring, for Iris a hat- 
pin, for Juji a bit of candy, and 
for Norah tooth-blacking. This, he 
thought, she could utilize for her 
shoes. As the presents looked very 
bright and gaudy, Billy and Taro 
felt that they had done their duty, 
and that the girls ought to be duly 
grateful. 

On the way home a shrill vo 
shouting in the street was recogni 
by the sharp-eared Taro. 
i79 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"The treasure-ship!" he cried, ex- 
citedly. 

Around the corner came a most 
wonderful cart piled high with bright- 
ly colored toys and things dear to the 
heart of a child. Following the cart 
was a veritable procession of little 
children. Loudly the vendor shout- 
ed: 

"Otakara! Otakara!" 

Ambitious to imitate the com- 
mercial foreigner, the treasure- vendor 
had decided to play this little trick 
on his fellows. He would not wait 
till January 2d, but would appear on 
the street with his treasure cart thus 
early in the season when people had' 
not yet spent all their money. 

The entreaty in the faces of the 
children Mrs. Kurukawa could not 
resist. Soon some of the bright 
things of the treasure - cart were 
transferred to the jinrikishas. 
1 80 

- 




Hfoi-,< ll v 

"But, mind you, children/ 
said, as they turned gleefully home- 
ward, "I'm going to put everything 
away until Christmas." 




T 



XX 

'HE following day Mrs. Kurukawa 
yielded to the coaxing of the 
children and took them to hear one 
of the famous story-tellers of Tokio. 
There is not a child, I believe, of 
any nationality, who does not love a 
"story." In Japan story- telling is 
an actual profession, possessing its 
own halls and houses of entertain- 
ment. But the audience is not made 
up of children. People of all ages 
attend, though the story-teller is not 
as popular to-day as he once was. 
With eagerness, then, the little Kuru- 
kawa children, after hanging their 
clogs among others, entered the hall. 
182 










A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

They were led into a square little 
booth or box. In a few minutes a 
waitress from an adjoining tea-house 
sold them refreshments. 

The hall was dimly lighted by 
candles. As black cloths were 
draped about the stage the place had 
a gloomy appearance. Presently the 
story-teller entered and seated him- 
self on the raised dais. So horrible 
and weird was his aspect that the 
little girls involuntarily clung to one 
another's hands and looked at their 
mother apprehensively. His face and 
bald head were chalky white. Seen 
from the distance of their box his 
eyes were black chasms set into his 
white face. He appeared to have 
enormous teeth which protruded as 
long fangs beyond his lips. As he 
seated himself on the dais all the 
candles in the hall went out, seem- 
ingly of their own accord. Only 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

those upon the stage remained burn- 
ing. 

" Oh," said Marion, grasping Taro's 
hand in the darkness, "he looks like 
some horrible ghost!" 

"Sh!" whispered the little Japan- 
ese boy. " He's going to tell a ghost- 
story." 

"I thought," broke in Billy, "they 
told war-stories." 

" Sh! I'll tell you what he says, if 
you be quiet." 

"I don't want to hear," said 
Marion, covering her ears with her 
hands, for at that moment the deep 
and hollow voice of the story-teller 
fell upon the hushed audience. He 
was a pantomimist as well as a story- 
teller. As both Billy and Marion 
understood some Japanese he made 
his story clear even to them. As he 
proceeded with his tale the candles 
on the stage gradually flickered out, 
184 





until he was in darkness, save for a 
weird yellow glow surrounding him. 
Then it was that the thrilled au- 
dience thought they saw strange 
white shapes fluttering about him, 
first hovering over and covering the 
speaker, then wandering about the 
stage. 

The tale he told was an old one 
known to all Japanese. It was the 
story of the faithless husband who 
swore to his young and dying wife 
that he would never marry again. 
Scarcely, however, had she been cold 
in her grave before he married a 
young and beautiful girl. For many 
nights the bride was visited by a 
wraith with warning to leave her 
husband. She would wake scream- 
ing with fright, but always her hus- 
band, lying there beside her, would 
reassure her. Finally the ghost set a 
day for the bride's departure, telling 
13 185 





A JAPANESE BLOSSC 

SB 

VSm 

it! 




BLOSSOM 

her that if she did not go on that 
day a terrible fate would befall her. 
That night the husband set a guard 
of/ twelve watchmen in their cham- 
ber. When the ghostly visitor en- 
tered the room of armed men they 
fell dead at the feet of the spirit 
as it crossed the threshold and went 
straight to the bed where the fright- 
ened bride cowered close against her 
sleeping lord, for although he had 
sworn to keep the watch with the 
guards he had yielded to irresisti- 
ble slumber. The following morning, 
waking early, he stretched his arms 
out to enfold his bride. The form 
he held was stiff and cold. Some- 
thing wet and slimy touched him. 
As he put out a hand to caress her 
hair he saw the thing beside him, a 
trunk from which the head had been 



away 



jtory-teller finished the re- 
186 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

cital there was a long interval of ab- 
solute silence in the hall. Then out 
of the darkness of the stage a white 
figure bore upon the vision. In the 
weird light that suddenly enwrapped 
the spectre the audience saw that it 
held aloft the head of a woman, the 
long, black hair floating away from 
the deathly face as though a wind 
were blowing through the hall. 

A stir, a shiver seemed to pass at 
once over the whole audience. Then 
almost an unknown thing in Japan 
a child's shrill voice startled the 
silence. Mrs. Kurukawa reached out 
to catch Marion in her arms; the 
little girl had become almost paralyzed 
with fear. A moment later the candles 
were lighted. People looked at one 
another in the new light everywhere 
faces were pale and lined with fear. 

"Oh, let's go home," pleaded 
Marion, at which the mother arose. 
187 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

" No, no !" protested Taro. " He'll 
tell war -tales now. We want to 
stay." 

"Of course we do," cried Billy. 
"That old cry-baby always spoils our 
fun." 

A smiling waitress with candy 
beans assured them that the lights 
would not be turned out again, and 
so Marion leaned against her mother 
resignedly. 

"/wasn't the only one afraid," she 
said, plaintively. "All of you were, 
even mother, weren't you?" 

"Yes, I was," she answered, truth- 
fully. "I didn't know I could feel 
quite so shivery over a mere ghost- 
story." 

" Don't they ever tell pretty fairy- 
stories?" asked Marion. 

"No," said Taro, disgustedly. 
"They would have no business then." 

"Story-tellers' halls," said Billy, 
1 88 










A JAPANESE B 



didactically, "aren't for girls. Girls 
haven't the sense to enjoy tragedy." 
They remained until five o'clock, 
listening to exaggerated accounts of 
the war. Graphic details were re- 
counted of the battles. Many Jap- 
anese fed their imaginations at the 
story-teller's table after the hunger 
left by mere official accounts pub- 
lished in the newspapers. 









p !; , >$ 



:- - 











XXI 



I^HREE more days the little party 
remained in Tokio. Then, tired 
out, happy, and loaded down with 
purchases, they returned to their 
home. There they found the long- 
looked-for letter from the soldier. It 
had come during their absence. 

He had not written sooner because 
the soldiers had been forbidden to 
write to their families during a cer- 
tain period of operations. He hoped 
that his letter would reach them in 
time to make their Christmas and New 
Year season happy. His letter ran : 

"As I write, I am a happy man, despite 
the many things of which I am deprived. 
190 








A JAPANESE 

. 

First, I am a servant in a glorious cause. 
Who could choose a nobler way to die? 
It is with cheerfulness that we soldiers 
bear the enforced hardships. Indeed, we 
scarcely feel them, so buoyed up are we 
by our cause. But I have* still another 
reason for happiness at this time. I am 
with my boy Gozo at last, and if the 
fates but permit, we shall never separate 
again. I have told him about you all, 
and his letter to you will reach you with 
my own. The experiences he has been 
through since leaving his father's home 
have made a man of him. And it is with 
a man's deep understanding that he asks 
your pardon. But he speaks for himself. 
"I cannot send you gifts this year, my 
children and my wife, but my prayers and 
blessings are for you always. Tell Billy 
I cannot send him the Russian buttons 
for which he asks. I think he would un- 
derstand if he were here. Let him im- 
agine the kind of man who would cut 
away a trifling souvenir from the body of 
a dead enemy. Tell the boys also that I 
do not doubt their zeal to serve Japan, 
but that it is not likely we shall need 
191 





Yt'Tf 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

their services. Their French friend had 
better revise his thoughts. 

"I read many times the letters from 
my little girls. Tell Plum Blossom so 
well have I kissed the spot she indicated 
in her letter that there is a little hole 
there now. Tell my/'little Yankee girl, 
too, that not only have I lent her Bible to 
Gozo, but it is the common property of 
the little band of Christians in our regi- 
ment. There are fifteen of us in all. It 
will give Marion pleasure to know that 
her gift to me passes from hand to hand, 
and fifteen loyal soldiers of Ten-shi-sama 
unconsciously bless her each day they 
read. 

"Take care of my house for me, my 
children, and my wife. Encourage my 
boys in thoughts of patriotism. Remem- 
ber that always I think of you, and that is 
happiness enough." 

The letter from Gozo was brief, 
but his step-mother read it greedily. 
It was written in the English lan- 
guage. 

192 




XikAL 



A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"ESTEEMED MADAME, AND MOTHER-BY- 
LAW, I know not to express myself good 
in your language. How I can find words 
begging your pardon ? Put my rudeness 
to you down to my ignorance. I am more 
old to - day and through my honored fa- 
ther's words I am now acquainted with 
your respected character. I shall never 
have pleasure to look upon your honor- 
able face, for I have given my insignifi- 
cant life to my Emperor, yet I write beg- 
ging for your affection. 

"Also I humbly asking that you will 
continue to show kindness to my little 
brothers and sisters, whom though they 
be unworthy, I am very sick to see. 
Sometimes I think all night long of that 
little Juji brother. Pray excuse each 
foolish emotion. I beg remain, 

"Your filial step-son forever, 

"KURUKAWA GOZO." 






y-v^7]N 

T^HE country was ringing with the 
1 hateful news of the Kamrahn Bay 
incident. When a French name was 
mentioned, Japanese faces looked 
dark and bitter. Foreigners in Japan 
talked more about the matter than 
did the Japanese themselves, how- 
ever, for they were silent and thought 
much. Nevertheless, this incident 
and others pierced deeply. Women, 
smiling strangely, told their little 
sons the story, and they repeated 
after their mothers the words: "We 
Japanese never forget!" In the 
higher classes of the schools the 
teachers quietly instructed their pu- 
194 










A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

pils of the unfriendly act of a 
"friendly" nation. The story-tellers 
in their halls enlarged upon the 
theme, and told the story over and 
over again, with greater exaggera- 
tion each time. By-and-by the news 
reached the ears of the Kurukawa 
family. Billy and Taro held a coun- 
cil of war. 

"How to be revenged?" that was 
the question. 

They marched up and down the 
little garden-path discussing the 
ject from every stand - point, 
some unfortunate coincidence 
little French boy from the neighbor- 
ing street happened to pass the Kuru- 
kawa house at the fateful moment 
when this fierce debate was in prog- 
ress. In one of those flashes that 
often come, even to children, Billy 
and Taro simultaneously recognized 
in him the object for just vengeance. 




By 
the 




srw. 









APANESE BLOSSOM 



With a bound Taro sprang through 
the garden-gate and seized the help- 
less and unsuspecting French boy, 
whom he dragged down the path. 
Then Taro sat upon him. Billy was 
jumping about wildly, throwing out 
his fists, and pretending to spit upon 
them. Taro, however, was quite 
calm. 

"We kinnod," said he, proudly, 
" both beat thad French boy. That's 
nod fair." 

Billy's jaw dropped. Then his 
face brightened. 

" Say, Japan doesn't want to fight 
France yet. You leave him to me. 
They interfered in what wasn't their 
affair, and now America's going to 
do the same." 

Taro shook his head. 

" You be England," said he, wisely; 
"she our honorable ally." 

"I am English, then," shrieked 
196 




n 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 
nbf / '^/ S I/ j/\$ * 

Billy; "all our people come from 
England originally. Mamma said so. 
Let him up." 

Taro reluctantly arose, permitti 
the crushed young Frenchman to d 
likewise. He was a little fellow, 
though past his fourteenth year. 
His eyes were very black and fur- 
tive, and he had a tiny little mouth 
that would not keep closed. Actual- 
ly his face was smiling. He spoke 
Japanese with only slight hesitancy. 
His polite suggestion was that they 
should go to his father to borrow 
swords with which to fight a decent 
duel. The boys received this sug- 
gestion with shouts of derision. Then 
the little Frenchman declared he 
would not fight at all, and crossing 
his arms over his chest, told them 
they could murder him if they wished. 

Billy surveyed him contemptu- 
ously. 

197 



. 



A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"Say, what's your name, any- 
how?" he queried, after a moment. 

" Alphonse Napoleon Tascherean." 

"Well, what do you think of that 
Kamrahn Bay matter?" continued 
Billy, curious to know the boy's 
views; but Alphonse only shrugged 
expressive shoulders and smiled a 
little, subtle, sneering smile. 

"D'ye remember how Taro licked 
you last fall?" 

The French boy turned darkly red. 
His hands were in his pocket, and 
one of them suddenly flashed out. 
He had a knife. 

"I no longer am afraid of heem," 
he said, contemptuously. "I will 
cut him up so! if he touch me once 
again!" 

"You will?" cried Billy. "You 
think we're afraid of your old knife ? 
Get it, Taro." 

Taro did get it, though he had a 
198 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

scratch on his hand to show how 
dangerous the undertaking was. 
Then the French boy's assured man- 
ner vanished as if by magic. Quite 
piteously he began to cry. At the 
top of his voice he shouted aloud for 
"Pa-pa! Pa-pa!" 

" We're not going to hurt you after 
all," said Billy, after a moment. 
" We'll make you do something you'll 
remember. Taro, help me tie his 
hands first." 

They secured him firmly. 

"Now," ordered Billy, "you run 
to the house and get that old French 
flag you and I have been using as a 
mark for firing at for some time, and 
get a Jap flag, too." 

Taro was gone but a moment, and 
then returned with the desired flags. 
These Billy took and held before the 
French boy. 

"Now, you," said he, "if you don' 
199 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

want to stay tied up here all night, 
you just do what we tell you. Kiss 
that sun flag right in the centre. 
That's the thing! What! Ah, you 
will, you divil," for the French boy 
put his lips against the flag but a 
second, and then withdrew them to 
spit at it. 

Taro had turned livid. In a flash 
he had seized the flag and was ram- 
ming it fiercely into the mouth of the 
French boy. Billy fought Taro back. 

"Here, Taro! That's not fair! 
He's tied!" 

He drew forth the flag. The dye 
ran down in livid streams on Al- 
phonse's chin. He fought vainly to 
free his arms. 

"Now, you," said Billy, "we'll let 
you free if you'll fight either one of 
us alone. But if you won't, you'd 
better do what we tell you. If you 
don't " 







KSAW-... 1 





A JAPANESE 

Taro had quietly stripped himself 
to the waist prepared for battle. He 
was younger by several years than 
the French boy, but the latter had 
already felt the taste of the little 
Japanese's strength. When he en- 
countered that bloody purpose in 
eye of Taro he trembled visibly. 

"I will do what you ask," he d 
cided, suddenly. 

"Good!" cried Billy. " You 
lieve in spitting, eh ? Well, now yo 
just spit good and plenty at that! 
He thrust the French flag before 
phonse, who spat at his country's 
flag. Then shrugging his shoulders, 
he swore as little boys of some 
nationalities do not. 

Fifteen times he was forced to bow 
to the Japanese flag, touching each 
time the ground with his head. 
Finally he cried as instructed at the 
top of his voice: 

14. 201 








m 



BLOSSOM 



"Vive la Nippon! Banzai!" 

He went home a very much wilted 
and bedraggled little Frenchman, but 
he- did not tell his papa or mamma 
of the flag incident. 

When his father read with appar- 
ent exultation further news of Kam- 
rahn Bay, Alphonse raised his little 
thin shoulders and eyebrows to vent- 
ure the astonishing remark: 

"Was it wise of France, pa-pa?" 




XXIII 

THERE came not many letters 
during the winter months to the 
little Kurukawa family, but the ones 
that did come were all the more 
precious. Before the first flowers of 
the year had begun to tint the plum- 
trees with their pink beauty, all 
Japan knew that the war would have 
but one ending. Victory followed 
victory. Instances of heroism be- 
came so frequent they could scarcely 
keep count of them. People, smil- 
ing, would hear the tale of a certain 
officer or soldier's self-sacrifice for his 
country, then they would say, still 
with that mysterious smile so com- 
203 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 




mon in Japan: "He has done only 
what any soldier of Japan would do." 

The newspapers, little, slim sheets, 
containing less than a quarter of the 
words an American newspaper would 
give to the war-story, seemed to drift 
about the empire. Everywhere they 
were found, everywhere people car- 
ried them. 

It was in April that the Far East 
published a story of a certain act 
of surpassing heroism performed by 
a Japanese officer. Mrs. Kurukawa 
had seen the head-lines, and stopping 
in the street had bought the paper. 
She read it through slowly, still 
standing there in the street. As she 
stood, perfectly still, her white face 
tense and drawn, curious passers-by 
stopped to . look at her, wondering 
what it was the foreign woman 
found in the paper to make her 
look so strangely. It was the act of 
204 

L? 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



a child which aroused her. Passing, 
he lightly pulled the sleeve of her 
kimono. She started as if struck, 
the paper fluttered from her hand. 
Mechanically she reached for it, but 
a sudden wind caught it up and blew 
it hither and thither about the 
street. She stood there watching its 
flight until it had passed out of sight. 
It disappeared utterly. Surely it 
had never been at all, she had not 
really held it in her hand and read 
the story of her husband's terrible 
fate! Walking unsteadily and blind- 
ly, she started down the street. 

Madame Sano came swiftly from 
the garden-path to meet Tier, for the 
news had reached the house in Mrs. 
Kurukawa's absence. 

Japanese women are not demon- 
strative, but they are exquisitely 
tender. The touch of Madame Sano's 
hands upon her face was balm itself. 
205 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

The stricken woman's features quiv- 
ered. Sobs burst from her lips, and 
in the other woman's arms she wept 
as though she had found the ha- 
ven of a mother's breast. Without 
speaking, Madame Sano led her into 
the house. The children, a pitiful, 
frightened group, were in the hall, 
waiting for her. Passionately, Marion 
called her mother by name, and 
clung to her a moment, but Madame 
Sano gently put the little girl aside 
and took the mother to her room. 
There she induced her to lie down 
until she waited upon her, murmur- 
ing words in soothing Japanese. 
When the younger woman was calm- 
er, Madame Sano gently spoke of the 
sad news. She said, in a reverent 
voice : 

" God is good, my daughter. How 
gloriously he has rewarded your hus- 
band!" 

206 











A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

The woman on the bed did not stir 
or speak. Madame Sano continued: 

"Think how many families there 
are in Japan whose men have never 
had the opportunity to give such au- 
gust service to their Emperor. We 
are fortunate indeed." 

Mrs. Kurukawa covered her face 
with her hands. The tears came 
slipping through them; helpless, si- 
lent tears which would not be held 
back. Her voice was choked but in- 
expressibly sweet : 

"I know," she said, "it is all 
very glorious but I will not give 
up hope." 

"Hope?" repeated Madame Sano. 
"Our best hopes are realized, my' 
daughter. Kurukawa Kiyskichi has 
made the supreme sacrifice. He has 
given his life to his Emperor and to 
his country." 

Now, Mrs. Kurukawa raised her- 




PCS 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 






self. Two spots of red appeared in 
her cheeks. Her eyes were feverish, 
her nervous fingers clasped each 
other spasmodically. 

"I will tell you my hope my be- 
lief. I feel, in spite of what we have 
heard, that my husband is not dead. 
I feel it somehow/ I cannot explain. 
Only this I do know: he promised 
he would return, and he must! Oh, 
I am sure he will!" 

Gently the old woman spoke, 
smoothing the hands of the other 
woman as she did so. 

"My child, he will truly return to 
you as he has promised. All Jap- 
anese soldiers expect to return to 
their wives, but in the spirit!" 

Mrs. Kurukawa drew her hands 
passionately away. 

"That was not his meaning," she 
said. 

Madame Sano shook her head sadly. 
208 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



"Ah, my child, be reconciled to 
the august inevitable." 

There was a smile upon the pale 
lips of the younger woman. 

"You do not understand my 
faith/' she said, "and I cannot ex- 
plain it. When I read that story in 
the street I felt as if something had 
struck me. I tried to push it from 
me with my hands, and I do not 
know how I found my way home. I 
still feel as if I had been hurt and 
bruised in some, way, and yet I 
know I feel that it is not true 
that he is dead." 

Her voice whispered the word, 
and for a long interval there was 
silence in the room. Then she said, 
slowly: "It is a mistake a horrible 
mistake. God give us courage to 
bear the mistake. But that is all it 




is.' 



"You do not believe the story of 
209 







" 



BLOSSOM 



your husband's magnificent hero- 
ism?" 

"I do believe it." 

"Then you-^ must admit that he 
has passed away. Is it not clearly 
stated that after he had saved almost 
the entire division that was caught 
in the ambush that he himself was 
struck down and his body carried 
away by the Russians, for what pur- 
poses can only be surmised?" 

Mrs. Kurukawa was silent. After 
a while she arose, and, though her 
hands were trembling, she dressed 
herself afresh with calmness. Ma- 
dame Sano watched her in silence. 

After a while she asked: 

"You are going out?" 

"Yes, to learn what I can. If 
necessary I will go again to Tokio, 
leaving the children with you." 

The old woman nodded. 

"They will make an honorable 

210 


















A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

effort," she said, "to obtain posses- 
sion of your husband's body, and he 
will be given an exalted funeral. 
'He died gloriously for Dai Nippon' 
will say all loyal Japanese." 

Mrs. Kurukawa smiled wearily. 

"He is not dead," she said. "Do 
not, dear Madame Sano, rob me of 
my hope. I want to be courageous, 
for while I feel he is not gone tru- 
ly from me, I do not know what 
may have befallen him. It may be 
that he is wounded sick tortured 
a prisoner. Oh, I cannot bear to 
think of it!" 

" Better, my child," urged the old 
woman, gently, "to believe he is at 
rest. Cherish not false hopes. Ah, 
had you been a true daughter of 
Japan, you would have looked for, 
expected, and even bailed this be- 
reavement, but " 

"Do not reproach me," cried Mrs. 












A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

Kurukawa. " My husband would not 
have done so. Oh, I have tried to 
be as he would wish me, and and 
I feel that he would have me be- 
lieve as I do. I know he will keep 
his promised word. He will return 
to me." 








TWO weeks later the mail for 
Tokio contained several pathetic 
epistles. Most of them were written 
in the wandering, crude, yet pecul- 
iarly attractive handwriting of little 
children. Mrs. Kurukawa read them 
over and over again, crying softly as 
she did so. 

"DARLING MAMMA, Do please let us 
come to you in Tokio. You do not know 
how sad we are without you. Little girls 
have little hearts, but I know that they 
can suffer much, just the same. Grand- 
mother, too, is very sad, and Norah is 
crying, 'Wirrah, wirrah, wirrah!' all the 
time', and, oh, mamma, she says she hears 
the banshee every night wailing outside 
213 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

our house. Grandmother says it's only 
that old gray cat of Summer's. You 
probably remember her. But Norah says 
it is the banshee, and it means that some 
one in our family is dead. Oh, mamma, 
how it made me cry! Grandmother has 
made us all the strangest-looking kimonos. 
They are of black crepe, and I cannot 
bear to put mine on. She says that 
black is not the mourning color in Japan, 
but we must wear black in honor of you, 
mamma, because black crepe is mourning 
in America. So yesterday we all went to 
church in those black kimonos, and every- 
body stared at us, and I put my head 
down on the pew, and cried and cried. 
Plum Blossom and Iris also hid their 
faces, and though they say they did not 
cry, I think they did, for their eyes were 
all red. Everybody treats us as if we 
were great people. In church they all 
bowed so deeply to us as we went in. 
Sometimes the men we meet on the street 
will cheer when they see us. Taro says it 
is because father did such heroic things. 
Taro has no heart, I sometimes think, for 
he seems to be proud and happy that 
214 






ETC 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

father is gone, and he says he wishes he 
could have the chance to do what father 
did. Billy is very serious these days. 
He thinks he ought to be with you in 
Tokio, to take care of you and protect 
you. Oh, dear mamma, do let us know 
all the news you hear, and if we cannot 
come to you, please, please come home to 
us soon. 

"Your affectionate and loving, 

"MARION." 

"BELOVED DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, I hope 
that your health is excellent and that you 
will return home soon. The servants 
weep for their okusama (honorable lady 
of the house). The children are augustly 
sad without you. Billy has lost his ap- 
petite for food. He has the pale face got. 
When I request, 'Are you ill, Billy?' he 
makes reply, in boy rough way, 'No, but 
I ought to be with my mother.' Marion 
spoils her pretty eyes with too much 
weep. She and Juji weep enough tears 
for all the honorable family. Plum Blos- 
som does all your work most neatly, and 
is learning excellently to be a good house- 

215 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

keeper. You chose wisely to put her in 
your place, and she feels proudly your 
august confidence in her. Iris assists her 
in all things, but neither does she appear 
in good health. She has too much pale- 
ness in the face also. Taro is a great 
comfort. His father's heroism has in- 
spired him with noble ambitions. He is 
a worthy son, though young. The baby 
has more words to say each day. Yester- 
day she spoke of the white moon which 
appeared in the sky while it was yet day 
as "ball," and she said, 'It is too high!' 
Those are many words for one so young. 
She has her august mother's eyes. 

"Excellent daughter-in-law, I beseech 
you to earnestly seek details concerning 
the fate of our beloved Gozo. It is said 
in some of the papers that he did accom- 
pany his father upon this expedition. I 
entreat you to think first of all of your 
august health and happiness. I sign my- 
self, Your unworthy mother-in-law, 
"SANO-OTAMA." 

"DEAR MOTHER, Since father is dead, 
/ ought to take care of you. I think 
216 











about it all the time and want to come 
you. I don't think it right for a woman 
to be alone, and I must come to you at 
once. Taro and I have not felt like doing 
anything lately. I don't know what's 
the matter with everything. The house 
doesn't seem the same without you. 
can't write much. I want to be 
you, mother. 

' ' Your boy, 

"BlLLY." 



yvu., 



"ESTEEMED MOTHER, The plum-trees 
have much buds again got now, but very 
sad they make us this year. I think only 
of those cherry blossoms we did see with 
our honorable father. They are so like 
the plum. Billy says they make him 
sick if he look upon those trees. So we 
go not out much, as it makes so sorrow in 
the hearts to see those same trees shine. 

"Earnestly I endeavor to follow your 
honorable counsel about the house, and it 
is unworthily clean to your honor. I am 
become like Marion. Always my eyes 
those tears in them when I think about 
you, and several times I make my pillow 

is 217 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

^V-T"~ 

wet. Therefore I praying until you 
please come home with us. Tha's very 
sad that our father die and go way, but 
tha's sadder that we lose our mother also. 
"Unworthy and insignificant, 

"PLUM BLOSSOM." 



s; 

preci 

**, 



"DEAR MAM, I thought I would write 
a letter, hoping that you are well, i 
you very much, mam, and i love the 
precious lambs, both the babby and Juji, 
mam, i cannot bear any longer so 
much sorrow, and it's a letter to you i'm 
writing to say i must go back to the old 
country, for i cannot bear so much 
trouble and i have heard the banshee cry 
at night and it's afraid i am that there's 
death hovering about. Will you buy my 
ticket, please, mam? And it's breaking 
my heart sure to leave you and the lambs. 
"Respectfully, 

"NORAH O'MALLEY." 









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 ey 
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!" 

219 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

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

She took no one into her confi- 
dence, but began, in secret, a corre- 
spondence with the Minister of War. 
All of her inquiries were answered. 
In Japan her husband had not been 
without high influence, and his hero- 
ism 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 
220 







A JAPANESE 

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 hus- 
band's fate, and her strange faith 
that he was still alive, invigorated 
her. The change effected in her 
rapidly spread to the entire house- 
hold. 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, 













A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

the sleeve- wings weighted with pe 
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-mak- 
ers 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. 

222 









^s=- 

A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



"Shure," said the girl, "they're all 
babbies, mam, just look at the dar- 
lints," 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. Kuru- 
kawa 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 an- 
swered, 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. Some- 
thing in the girl's face startled her. 
The usual impassive expression was 
223 








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, Natsu?" she 
said. "Are you in trouble?" 

The girl shook her head. 

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

Suddenly tt*e girl slipped to the 
ground and buried her face in the 
folds of her mistress's kimono. Ma- 
dame Sa/io drew her almost roughly 
away./ 

"What is it?" she demanded, 
harshly, in Japanese. "It is un- 
seemly to act so in the okusama's 

jsence. 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 
224 



AH. 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

such hysterical vehemence that she 
woke the older sleepers. They sat 
up, looking about them, startled 
from their dreams. But Mrs. Kuru- 
kawa shook the girl by the arm. 
Her voice was hoarse. 

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

For answer the girl turned tow- 
ards 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 jin- 
rikishas and ran towards him, call 
ing his name aloud : 

"Gozo! Gozo! Gozo!" 

Mrs. Kurakawa turned and blindly 
followed the children. 

He put the clinging children aside 
from him and advanced a step tow- 
ards her. Then suddenly he stopped 
short, standing uncertainly. She 
225 







l*\A 

> k/r 



JAPANESE BLOSSOM 







spoke with a note of irresistible ap- 
peal in her vpice. of 

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

He made a sort of smothered sound ; 
then, with a movement strangely rem- 
iniscent 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. 





HE SEIZED HER HAND SUDDENLY IN HIS OWN AND FELL ON HIS 
KNEES BEFORE HER" 




XXVI 

HP HE following morning Mrs. Kuru- 
1 kawa was with her husband, 
having travelled all bight, accom- 
panied by Gozo. He had known she 
would come. When she approached 
his bed he raised himself on his elbow 
and greeted her cheerily, with an airy 
wave of his arm. When she saw his 
dear, familiar face, with the kindly 
smile lighting up the features, she 
rushed with an inward sob towards 
him. She could not speak, so deep 
were the emotions that assailed her, 
but she clung to his hand as he whis- 
pered to her. 

Later, when she was calmer, she 
227 



*> 









0-^9 









JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

took the chair Gozo placed for her; 
then, with broken sentences, she 
poured out to her husband all that 
was in her heart. 

The days that followed were cheery 
ones for the soldiers in Mr. Kuruka- 
wa's ward. His wife would come 
each day loaded with flowers, books, 
magazines, and food of various sorts. 
She seemed to forget no one in the 
ward. Sometimes her impatient and 
selfish husband actually begrudged 
the little time she spent away from 
his side, as she went from cot to cot 
with her gifts and her words of com- 
fort and praise. He would hold her 
hand greedily when she would come 
to him and say: 

"There! At last, you have come. 
Tell me everything now. Ah! the 
letters. Read them, please, at once." 

They always began the day with 
her reading of the pile of letters that 
228 













A JAPANESE BLOSJ 

came from the impatient children at 
home. 

Taro wanted his father's sword 
sent, unwashed, by express. If he 
waited until they returned home he 
feared that some one might steal the 
precious weapon in the interval. Of 
course, Gozo, as the eldest son, was 
rightfully entitled to the sword, but 
he had a sword of his own already, 
and Taro had none. If his father 
would only give him this one he 
would swear by it to use it only in 
glorious service. Billy, apparently 
inspired at his step-brother's request, 
wrote an eloquent plea for his father's 
rifle. If his father could spare his 
uniform, which must be all ragged 
and worn from bullet wounds and 
blood, Billy would cherish it as his 
choicest possession. Marion's epis- 
tles were always blurred by tear 
marks. They were sometimes al- 
229 




y^ 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

most undecipherable. Because the 
invalid insisted on hearing every 
word she had written, Mrs. Kuru- 
kawa usually spent more time over 
her letters than any of the other 
children's. The little girl was given 
to dissecting her inmost emotions. 
Her letters were usually a recital of 
how she felt when she heard this and 
that about her dear, dear, dear, 
brave father, whom she loved so 
much. 

Plum Blossom wrote pages of 
flowery words. The father had sim- 
ply made a bird of her, she said. 
She wanted to sing and- laugh all the 
time. She had a calendar on which 
she chalked off each day the date, so 
she could keep count of the days un- 
til her father would return. The 
baby had fallen down the stairs, she 
wrote, but the floor, fresh padded 
with rice-paper, in anticipation of the 
230 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

return of "father," was so soft that 
she only bounced when she reached 
the bottom. When Norah had 
picked her up the baby had actually 
laughed, and said: "Coco faw down." 
The baby could make long sentences 
now. She could even say a prayer 
Marion had taught her, but she was 
very rude, and often said "Amen" 
right in the middle. 

There were three soldiers in the 
town, and everybody was making a 
great fuss over them. Miss Summer 
had said she wished she could marry 
one of them, which showed she had 
no sense, since Gozo already was a 
soldier. Anyhow, the soldiers never 
deigned to look at little girls, and 
they only marched by the Kurukawa 
house because they wanted to see 
Norah, who said they were "small, 
but grand!" 

Iris's letters brimmed over wi 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 




the same expressions of love and en- 
treaties for the quick return of her 
parents. 

Finally, there came an extraordi- 
nary little document penned by Juji. 
It was written in English, apparently 
under the direction of the faithful 
Norah, for at the bottom of the sheet 
had written: 

" If you please, mam, it was Norah that 
taught the little lad to write the beautiful 
letter." 

Beautiful it was to the eye of the 
fond father. Every letter was print- 
ed and loving words misspelled. 
There were three smudges of ink on 
the page. One distinct little mark, 
where a dirty little finger had rested 
for a moment, pleased him. 

"Do you know," said Mrs. Kuru- 
kawa, very earnestly, "I would still 
be in Tokio if it had not been for 
232 





the children's letters. They 
to come in every mail little, soiled 
epistles of love, all bearing their 
childish pleas for mother to return. 
Why, I could not stay away from 
them. They just drew me back." 

Her husband looked at her fondly. 

"What a mother you are!" he 
said. 

" Yes," said she, " that's my strong- 
est trait maternity. I love all chil- 
dren. There's nothing sweeter in the 
world than baby arms about one's 
neck, baby voices, baby kisses, baby 
touches. Oh, they are the most pre- 
cious things in life!" 

He looked a trifle injured. 

" You think more of babies than of 
husbands, then." 

She laughed with the tears in her 
eyes. 

"Why, husbands are the biggest 
babies of all!" she said. "I've al- 
16 2 33 






/ 

A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



ways felt like a mother to you, you 
know." 

"You have?" 

She nodded brightly. 

"Don't you know what first ap- 
pealed to me in you?" 

"No." 

" Well, it was your utter loneliness 
in a strange country. You seemed 
so strangely alone in America, and 
you wanted so much to be friendly. 
I saw it in your face." 

" Yes, I did want to be friendly 
with you," he admitted, gravely. 

"You did not find it hard, did 
you?" she asked, still smiling. 

"Yes, I did." 

"Why, I gave you every encour- 
agement." 

"I know, but still I could not 
know that." 

Gozo came into the ward, and, 
joining them, tossed upon the bed a 
234 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

number of newspapers and periodi- 
cals. 

"What are you talking about?" he 
asked, noting their smiling expres- 
sions. 

Blushing like a girl, the wife 
looked at her husband shyly. 

"We were talking about our court- 
ship days, my son," said Mr. Kuru- 
kawa. 

"Ah," said Gozo, very seriously, 
"it makes one happy to think of 
those times, does it?" 

"Very, very happy," said his step- 
mother. 

Gozo sighed. 

"I cannot understand why," he 
said, simply. 






XXVII 

"TJURRY down to Takashima, 
11 Taro, and tell him he must 
send us without fail two large cases of 
the best and brightest fire-flies. Now, 
remember, they must be delivered by 
to-morrow morning at latest." 

" Can't we bring them back, grand- 
ma?" queried Taro. 

"No, oh no, you might break the 
netting and the flies escape. Where 
isBeely?" 

"Here I am, gam," answered the 
boy from his place on the back 
piazza. He was engaged in pasting 
carefully in a scrap - book several 
newspaper pictures of his step-father. 
236 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



" Beely," said Madame Sano, speak- 
ing now in English, "you must go 
down to the river and get all the 
white pebbles and shells you can 
find. Fill up your sleeves full." 

"Aw right, gam," said the boy, 
obediently, though he left his fasci- 
nating book reluctantly. 

"What d'ye want with them, 
gam?" 

" For the flower-beds I desire. You 
would not have them look shab- 
by when your honorable father 
comes." 

Billy sauntered off on his errand, 
whistling, overtook Tarp, and they 
raced down the street, Taro in the 
lead. 

"Marion!" the grandmother called 
up the little stairway. In answer to 
the call she came running. 

"Yes, gramma." 

"Where's those bamboo palms?" 
237 








A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"I'll get them. Do you want 
them now?" 

"Ride away." 

"All right." 

Madame Sano took them from her 
and showed the little girl how to dust 
the eaves with them. 

" Bamboo means long life," she ex- 
plained. "I always clean the house 
with them, and the gods will deign 
long life to give." 

"The gods!" gasped Marion, re- 
proachfully. "Oh, grandmamma!" 

Madame Sano's withered little face 
turned rosy. She had been from 
girlhood a Christian, as she was 
proud to say. 

"I speak, my child," she explain- 
ed, "only poetically, not religiously." 

"Oh," said Marion, dubiously; 
then after a moment of silent work 
she stopped and regarded the old 
woman earnestly. 

238 












BLOSSOM 



" Dear grandma, you aren't a hea- 
then, are you?" 

"Dear grandma" grunted, but 
went on with her work, her little old 
face puckered into a rather disdain- 
ful expression. 

"Are you, grandma?" pleaded 
Marion. 

"Little girls make foolish ques- 
tion," she answered finally, crossly. 

"Well, are you a Christian, dear 
grandma?" persisted Marion. 

"Certainly I am," replied the old 
lady, with dignity. 

Marion kissed her impulsively, 
whereupon she declared that the 
little girl was honorably rude, and 
no help at all. 

"Join your sisters for flowers," 
she ordered. 

"Shall we want so many flowers 
for the house, grandma?" asked 
Marion. 

239 








A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"No, no, no. Only one small 
bunch for house." 

"Then why ?" 

"The flowers are for the honorable 
picnic booth. It must have plenty." 

" O o-h ! Why, grandma, it's just 
covered heavy with wistarias now " 

" Such a talk-child ! Hush ! Go at 
once." 

The little ^irl obeyed this time, 
though she thrust a mischievous face 
back between the shoji for a moment. 

"Grandma," she called, "I'm go- 
ing to take a wagon along and fill it. 
Will that be enough?" 

"Go, go, naughty one!" and the 
naughty one fled. 

On this day the Kurukawa house 
ed alive with busy ones. In 
very room some one was moving 
,bout. Many of the old servants 
had been recalled. From the top to 
the bottom of the house work was in 
240 



'*"-, - ~ - ^ >" ' i % \N% V * c * ~ * ** * I 

~ " x * - * 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

progress. The shoji of the entire 
upper floor had been pushed aside, 
making a sort of roofed pavilion of 
this upper level. The little bal- 
conies were heaped with flowers and 
green trailing vines were threaded in 
and out among the railings. The 
long, bare expanse of exquisite mat- 
ted floor needed no relief of furniture. 
This cool interior was the most at- 
tractive place imaginable. From all 
sides the breezes swept in, making 
it delightfully cool. Madame Sano 
bustled about the place throwing 
mats about. 

Here the family would dine this 
day. The outlook was picturesque, 
for one could see the blooming coun- 
try and the blue fields and hills, and 
nestling in its heart the little village. 

This was the floor on which the 
children slept. It was only the work 
of a few minutes to slip the sliding- 
241 









\ j 

walls back into place again. Japan- 
ese beds need no making. On the 
second floor Madame Sano had been 
most busy. flow the chamber of 
the okusama shone ! The long, white, 
foreign bed seemed not at all out of 
place in the room. It was the only 
furniture Mrs. Kurukawa had brought 
with her. She used the little toilet- 
boxes of Japan, and there were sev- 
eral bamboo chairs and one small 
rocker her husband had bought for 
.er in Yokohama. 

The room was sweet with the odor 
of some faint perfume. Perhaps it 
was only the sandal -wood of the 
toilet - boxes, or the odor of sweet- 
smelling incense which had recently 
been burned to purify the house. 
There was not a speck of dust on 
the floor. Even Madame Sano, from 
whose sharp little eyes nothing seem- 
ed to escape, seemed satisfied as she 



242 





A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

drew the sliding-doors in place and 
descended to the lower floor. 

In the guest-room a maid was pol- 
ishing something round and dark 
golden in color. It was very ancient 
and beautiful, an old hibachi, highly 
prized by the master of the house. 
A serving -boy stood waiting at the 
tokonoma. He handed Madame Sano 
reverently the things he had brought 
from the go-down. 

She did not put the kakemona in 
place, but left it on a stand, for there 
was much else to see before she could 
spare the time for the tokonoma, al- 
ways the last and pleasantest task. 
Besides, she had promised Plum Blos- 
som the task of flower arrangement 
in the ancient house, and the hanging 
of the scroll. 

A visit to the kitchen revealed the 
fact that the cook and four assistants 
were deep in the preparation of a 
243 










meal which promised to be perfect in 
its excellence. 

Madame Sano felt and smelled of 
every bit of fish and meat, of fruit 
and vegetable, to see that everything 
was fresh. She condescended to 
speak a word of praise to the cook, 
an old man long in the service of the 
family. 

"Choice marketing is an art, ex- 
cellent Taguchi. Worthily you ex- 
cel." 

The cook bowed with the grace of 
an old-time courtier, his face wreathed 
in smiles. Did the elderly grand- 
mother believe that the okusama 
would deign to be satisfied? 

The okusama would be honorably 
pleased, indeed, Madame Sano as- 
sured him. She left the kitchen 
helpers in a glow, and outside the 
door listened, her old face smiling to 
their happy chatter within. 
244 








JAPANESE 



r 

One said: 



"Hah! the master always liked his 
fish just so. If I give one more beat 
to the fish it will be spoiled. These 
cakes are ready now for frying." 

"The master," said another, "has 
not eaten civilized food for many 
moons. These rice -balls will water 
his palate." 

A woman's voice broke in shrilly. 

"Okusama will ask for the sugar- 
coated beans first of all. Look at 
these, fresh as if growing. Think of 
the pleasure of her tongue." 

"Talk less, work more," came the 
admonishing voice of the old chief 
cook. For a moment there was 
silence, then a woman's voice broke 
into song, and the song she sang was 
of war, furious, glorious war! 









m 






XXVIII 

JUST before the noon hour the 
train bearing the Kurukawas ar- 
rived. They were unprepared for the 
reception. The towns - people had 
gathered at the station. When Mr. 
Kurukawa, pale, but able to walk 
alone, appeared on the platform, a 
murmur which rapidly became a 
cheer arose from the crowd. Old 
friends and neighbors rushed forward 
to greet him. He was overwhelmed 
by the storm of banzais and cheers. 
The Japanese people do not often 
give way in this fashion, but in these 
times they let themselves loose, and 
they shouted now with all the pent- 
246 









*t* 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

up enthusiasm of months. Their he- 
roes were sacred objects to them 
to look at them even was an honor. 
How proud the little town had be- 
come! Did they not boast as a citi- 
zen one of the bravest heroes of the 
war? The gods had singled them 
out for the peculiar honor. Grateful 
and proud indeed they felt. Always 
a modest man by nature, the homage 
offered Mr. Kurukawa now almost 
distressed him. Indeed, his face 
showed bewilderment and embarrass- 
ment. Respectfully the people per- 
mitted his son to lead him to the 
waiting jinrikisha. The crowds im- 
peded the progress of the vehicles, 
which they followed all the way 
the house. 

At the house everything was ready 
for the reception. The children were 
in their gayest clothes. All were rosy 
with excitement. About them ev- 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

erything seemed to shine. Madame 
Sano, old as she was, made quite a 
picture. Her withered old cheeks 
were pink with pride. 

They were all waiting there in the 
hall. Hard by, the servants in their 
best attire waited also. 

"It's after twelve already," said 
Billy, consulting for the twentieth time 
his Christmas watch. " They're late." 

"I hear sounds," said Taro, his 
ears pinched up like a small dog's. 

Taro rushed to the shoji, and be- 
fore his grandmother could prevent 
him he had thrust his fist through the 
beautiful new paper upon it. Billy, 
however, made a rush for the door, 
forgetting in one moment all the 
grandmother's injunctions concern- 
ing the "dignified and most refined" 
reception due at such a time. Billy's 
departure seemed to affect the girls. 
They looked at one another in hesi- 
248 








tation. Then almost with one ac- 
cord they followed their brother's 
lead, dragging little Juji along with 
them. Down the garden-path they 
sped, stocking-footed, for they had 
not stayed to put on clogs. Billy 
and Taro pushed through the gate 
ruthlessly. Down the road they 
dashed. A moment later they were 
in the midst of the crowd follow- 
ing and cheering their father. They 
shouted as they ran and waved their 
arms wildly above their heads. Mr. 
Kurukawa saw them while still a 
distance off, and suddenly arose in 
his seat. Unmindful of the crowd, 
he gave an answering shout to the 
boys. How he reached the house he 
never could remember. His wife 
told him afterwards that the children 
seemed to fall upon him at once. 
They clung about his legs, his hands, 
and his waist. 

17 2 49 






ANESE BLOSSOM 



ice across the threshold, he gave 
a great sigh. Then in a voice which 
went straight to the very heart of old 
Madame Sano, he said: 

"This house seems to be the most 
beautiful place on earth." 

He permitted an excited, happy 
maid to take off his sandals and 
bathe his feet. Then followed by the 
happy ones, he ascended the stairs to 
the upper floor, where the meal was 
served. Never in his life, he de- 
clared over and over again, had he 
been so hungry. He ate everything 
placed before him. When the chil- 
dren begged to be told this or that 
about his adventures he would an- 
swer: "After dinner. Talk, all of 
you, if you wish, but let me eat." 

"I thought," said Billy, "that you 
were wounded, and that wounded 
men aren't allowed to eat so much." 

" So / thought in Saseho, my boy. 
250 








A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 



We ate not much in Manchuria, but 
we famished in the hospital." 

"Honorable father, why did you 
not send me that sword?" queried 
Taro. 

" I had none to send, my son. It 
was lost." 

"And the rifle, too, father?" asked 
Billy. 

"The rifle, too." 

"But what about the uniform?" 

"Well, it was, as you thought, torn 
and worn from service. The Rus- 
sians gave me a new one." 

"What!" cried Billy, in horror, 
Russian uniform!" 

Mr. Kurukawa smiled. 

"Hardly that, my boy. You see 
a sick man on a stretcher usually 
wears a er nightie isn't that 
what they call it?" 

"Oh-h!" said Taro and Billy both 
together, apparently disappointed. 

25 1 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

" If they put a Russian uniform on 
me," growled Taro, "I would tear it 
off!" 

Billy's eyes rolled. 

"Hm! They'd never get one on 
me!" said he. 

"What did they put on you, 
Gozo?" asked Taro, turning to his 
brother. 

" Yes, " added Billy. " You weren't 
wounded." 

"Neither was my uniform," smiled 
Gozo. "They permitted me to re- 
tain my honorable garment." 

"Huh! Well, did they torture 
you?" 

"No oh no." 

"Not even knout you?" 

"No. They were augustly kind 
sometimes." 

"Sometimes!" repeated Billy, ex- 
citedly. "Then some other times 
they were cruel, huh?" 
252 







A JAPANESE BLOSSO 



"Not exactly, but well, there 
were many things we thought rea- 
sonable to ask for, and they did not 
argee with us." 

"What things?" 

LGozb looked at his father. The 
tter, still eating, nodded to him to 
continue. 

"Well, sometimes we begged for 

"" to be sent to our friends." 
"And they wouldn't" 
" They would take our letters, but 
they did not send them. Our peo- 
ple permitted Russian prisoners to 
write to their friends. Not always 
were the Japanese allowed to 

"But on the whole," put in Mrs. 
Kurukawa, gently, "they treated 
you kindly, did they not?" 

Gozo's face was inscrutable. Then 
after a slight silence he answered, 
gravely : 

2 S3 








A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"We were prisoners, madame 
mother not guests." 

"I bet they herded you together 
like cattle!" cried Billy, indignantly. 

Gozo and his father exchanged 
smiles. 

"Hardly," said Mr. Kurukawa. 
"There were not enough Japanese 
prisoners to 'herd,' you know." 








XXIX 

us a story of horrible car- 
nage," said Billy, his freckled 
face aglow with excitement. 

Gozo took the long-stemmed pipe 
Plum Blossom had filled for him with 
sisterly solicitude. Three or four puffs 
only he drew, then permitted Iris in 
turn the pleasure of refilling it. 

"You better wait till father is 
more better. He kin tell better 
story," he said, gravely. 

"Oh, you're a veteran, too," de- 
clared Billy, admiringly. 

"And a hero!" added Marion, in an 
awed voice. 

Gozo permitted the ghost of a 
2 55 









A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

smile to flicker across the tranquillity 
of his face. / 

"In liddle while," said Plum Blos- 
som, smiling happily, "father coming 
down into garden. He'll tell story 
then." / 

"He naever tell story 'bout his 
own self," said Taro, discontentedly. 
" He mos' greatest hero of all. Tha's 
right, Gozo?X 

Gozo nodded gravely. 

"Mos' of all," he agreed. 

" 'Cept you'' said Marion, still bent 
on hero worship. 

Gozo smiled in the little girl's direc- 
tion. His usually impassive face was 
trangely winning when he smiled. 
Marion went closer to him, and, tak- 
ing her hand, put it fondly against 
his cheek. 

"You see, Gozo," she said, "I 
used to think about you as a hero 
even before father went away." 
256 






A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

"Yes," said Billy, disgustedly, "she 
thinks you're a greater hero than Togo 
even,." 

"But Miss Summer she say that 
you better have die," put in Taro. 

"Yes," said Gozo, sighing, "it was 
my misfortune not to get killed." 

"Oh, don't, don't! Just think 
how unhappy we would all have been 
if you had never come home," said 
tender-hearted Marion, "and think 
what you'd have missed never to 
have seen us mother and Billy 
the baby and me." 

Gozo admitted that their acquain 
ance certainly was worth living for. 

"Our acquaintance!" said Marion, 
reproachfully; "our love you sh 
say. We love you, Gozo." 

"Then if you love Gozo why you 
nod waid upon him like unto Iris an' 
me?" queried Plum Blossom. "See 
how we fill up thad 
'57 







twenty-one times, an' also we bring 
wiz tea " 

"An' also I fan him," added Iris, 
suiting the action to the words. 

For a moment Marion looked very 
thoughtful. 

" I know," ^he said, " that you love 
him, too, but^even if I just talk to 
him, I can love him just the same. 
Can't I, Gozo?" 

"Yes, but you only love me for 
mebbe liddle w'ile. Then soon's my 
father come you desert me. Tha's 
same thing with Plum Blossom and 
Iris. Me? I am grade hero when I 
am alone, but when my father come, 
I am jus' liddle insignificant speck 
nothing!" 

"Oh, Gozo!" 

"Never mind," he said, with mock 
seriousness. "Nex' week I goin' sail 
for America. Then, perhaps, you 
sorry." 

258 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

The tears slipped from Marion's 
eyes, and she wiped them with the 
pink sleeve of her kimono. 

"Take me with you, dear Gozo!" 

"An* me, also." 

"An* me, too," cried the two little 
6 girls. 

"Girls," said Billy, with contempt, 
4V!7aren't allowed in colleges. You 
haven't any sense, Marion!" 

"Well, b-but I could keep house 
for Gozo." 

"A fine house you'd keep," said 
her brother, witheringly. 

Marion's pride arose. She ignored 
Billy entirely. 

"Gozo," she said, "mother let me 
do all kinds of work when the ser- 
vants went." 

"Hoom!" grunted Billy, "you used 
to play at work. Plum Blossom did 
it all. If you take any girl" he 
spoke the word with almost Orien- 
259 





BB 

Vb'.o 





JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

tal contempt "take Plum Blos- 
som." / 

The latter smiled gratefully in the 
direction of her step-brother. 

"I goin' wait till you grow up, 
Beely. Then I keep house for you." 

"You gotter git marry with Taka- 
shima Ido," put in Taro. 

"I nod got!" cried the little girl, 
indignantly. 

"You got!" persisted Taro. "His 
fadder already speag for you to our 
fadder." 

"Tha's jus' account our fadder be- 
com' hero. He wan' be in our 
family also. But I nod goin' marry 
thad boy all same. He got a small- 
pox all over his face." 

"Plenty husband got small-pox, 
said Taro. " He also got lots money 
Mebbe one hundred dollars." 

Plum Blossom pouted. 

"I goin' marry jus' same m 
260 






JAPANESE BLOSSO 








i 



mother. Me ? I goin' loave my hus- 
band." 

" What's all this talk of husbands ?" 
queried a cheerful voice. 

Mr. Kurukawa seated himself among 
the children. Plum Blossom and Iris 
found a seat, one on each of his knees. 
Between them Juji nestled against his 
father's shoulder. The hand which 
had rested so contentedly in Gozo's a 
moment since had become a bit rest- 
less. Marion, the fond, showed an 
inclination again to desert; but Gozo 
maliciously held her small hand tight- 
ly so that she could not escape. 

"I want to say something to fa- 
ther," she said. 

"Say it to me," said Gozo. 

"Yes, but " 

"Hah! Did I not say so? Very 
well, you love me only sometimes. 
Tha's not kind love." 

She was contrite in a moment, es- 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

saying to put her hand back in his, 
but he waved it away bitterly. 

"No, no. Tha's too lade. Never 
mind. I know one girl never leave 
me." 

"You mean Summer?" 

"Summer-san. What a beautiful 
name!" 

Marion turned her back upon him. 

"Listen," he said into her little 
pink ear. "I go alone at America, 
but after four years I come bag, an' 
then I goin' tek to America with 
me " 

"Summer?" 

"No." 

"Me?" 

" No nod exactly. ' ' 

"Then who, Gozo?" 

"All of you." 

"Oh, won't that be lovely," she 
cried. "Father, are we all going to 
America in four years?" 
262 




A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

He nodded, smiling. " After Gozo 
graduates." 

"An' naever come bag at Japan?" 
cried Plum Blossom, in a most tragic 
voice. 

"Oh yes, it will be only a visit, 
perhaps." 

"I goin' to die ride away when I 
cross that west water," averred the 
little Japanese girl. 

"Why," grumbled Billy, "you just 
now promised you'd be my house- 
keeper." 

"In Japan," said Plum Blossom. 

Taro had finished whittling the 
bamboo arrow he had been industri- 
ously fashioning. 

"Pleese, my father, tell now thad 
story of yourself." 

"Yes?" 

"Oh do." 

All of the children chorussed assent, 
well. Now it's a long, lo: 







A JAPANESE BLOSSOM 

story, and if any of you go to 
in the telling " 

"Oh, how could we?" breathed 
Marion. 

"Very well, then. Come close, all 
of you." 

They drew in about him, their 
small, eager faces entranced at once. 
He smiled about the circle, touched 
a little head here and there, and then 
began his tale: 

" Once upon a time " 




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