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A Handsome Man

"Okoi!" Mataemon called out as soon as he got home. His wife hurried out to greet him. "Prepare some sake. I've brought home a guest," he said abruptly.

"Well, who is it?"

"A friend of our daughter's."

Tokichiro came in behind him.

"Master Kinoshita?"

"Okoi, you've kept me in the dark until today. This is inexcusable behavior for the wife of a samurai. It seems that Master Kinoshita and Nene have known each other for some time. You knew, so why didn't you tell me?"

"I deserve to be scolded. I'm very sorry."

"That's all well and good, but what kind of father does Tokichiro think I am now?"

"She got letters, but she never hid them from me."

"I should hope not."

"Besides, Nene's a bright girl. As her mother, I believe she's never done wrong. So I didn't think it was worth bothering you with each and every letter she received from the men in this town."

"There you're overestimating our daughter. I really don't understand young people nowadaysyoung men or young women!" He turned to Tokichiro, who stood scratching his head in embarrassment, blocked from coming in, and he burst out laughing.

Tokichiro was overjoyed to have been invited to his sweetheart's home by her father and his heart was racing.

"Well, don't just stand there!" Mataemon led the way to the guest parlor, which though it was the best room in the house, was nonetheless rather small.

The archers' tenement houses were no more comfortable than Tokichiro's own home.

All the retainers of the Oda, regardless of rank, lived plainly. And in this house, too, the only thing that caught the eye was a suit of armor.

"Where did Nene go?"

"She's in her room." His wife offered Tokichiro some water.

"Why doesn't she come out and greet our guest? When I'm here, she always runs away and hides."

"She's probably changing and combing her hair."

"That won't be necessary. Tell her to come and help with the sake. It'll be just fine to put some plain home cooking in front of Tokichiro."

"Goodness! Don't say such things."

Tokichiro stiffened in embarrassment. With the crusty retainers in the castle he was audacious and pushy, but here he was nothing more than a shy young man.

Nene finally came out to greet him formally. She had put on some light makeup. "We haven't much but please make yourself at home." She then brought out a tray of food and a flask of sake.

Tokichiro answered Mataemon's questions as though in a trance, all the while admiring Nene's figure and demeanor. She has a lovely profile, he thought. He was particularly taken by her unaffected grace, as plain as cotton cloth. She had none of the coquettishness of other women, who were either unpleasantly coy or put on airs. Some might have found her a little on the skinny side, but wrapped within her was the fragrance of wild-flowers on a moonlit night. Tokichiro's keen senses were overcome; he was in ecstasy.

"How about another cup?" Mataemon offered.

"Thanks."

"You did say you liked sake"

"I did."

"Are you all right? You haven't drunk too much, have you?"

"I'll have it bit by bit, thank you." On the edge of his seat, with the lacquered sake flask in front of him, Tokichiro stared fixedly at Nene's face, so white in the flickering lamplight. When her eyes moved suddenly in his direction, he passed his hand over his face and said, confused, "Well, I've had quite a bit this evening." He blushed when he realized that he himself was far more aware of his behavior than Nene was.

Once again he thought that, when the time came, even he would have to get married. And if he had to take a wife, she would have to be beautiful. He wondered whether Nene could stand poverty and hardship and bear him healthy children. In his present circumstances, he was bound to have money problems after setting up a home. And he knew that in the future he would not be satisfied with mere wealth, and that there would be a mountain of troubles waiting for him.

Looking at a woman from the point of view of taking her as a wife, there were naturally considerations such as her virtue and appearance. But it was more important to find a woman who could love his mother, an almost illiterate farmer, and one who could also cheerfully encourage her husband's work from behind the scenes. Besides possessing these two qualities, she must be a woman with the kind of spirit that could endure their poverty. If Nene were such a woman he thought again and again.

Tokichiro's interest in Nene had not begun that evening. He had long before

considered Mataemon's daughter to be the right woman for him. He had noticed her before knowing who she was, and he had secretly sent her letters and presents. But that night he was sure for the first time.

"Nene, I have a private matter to discuss with Tokichiro, so would you leave us for a little while?" When Mataemon said this, Tokichiro imagined that he was already Mataemon's son-in-law, and he began to blush again.

Nene left the room, and Mataemon sat a little straighten "Kinoshita, I want this to be a frank talk. I know you to be an honest man."

"Please say anything you like." Tokichiro was pleased that Nene's father was treating him with such familiarity, even if this was not going to be the talk that he hoped for. He, too, sat straighter, ready to be of service, no matter what Mataemon asked him.

"What I want to say is well, Nene's about the right age to be married."

"To be sure." Tokichiro's throat was dry and strangely choked. Even though it would have been enough to nod, he felt that he had to make some kind of comment. He often said things when he did not have to.

"The fact is, I've received a number of offers for Nene that are well above our familys status," Mataemon continued. "And as her father, I just don't know which one to pick.

"It must be difficult."

"And yet"

"Yes?"

"Someone who may look right to a father may not be to a young girl's liking."

"I understand that. A woman has only one life to live, and her happiness depends on the man she marries."

"There's a page who is always at our master's sidea young man by the name Maeda Inuchiyo. You must know him."

"Master Maeda?" Tokichiro blinked. The conversation had taken an unexpected turn.

"That's right. Master Inuchiyo is from a good family, and he has repeatedly asked for Nene's hand in marriage."

Tokichiro let out something that sounded more like a sigh than an answer. A formidable rival had suddenly appeared on the scene. Inuchiyo's handsome face, his clear voice, and the good manners he had been taught as one of Nobunaga's pages all made Tokichiro, who had no confidence in his own looks, envious. After all, he could not stop people from calling him Monkey. So there was nothing more hateful to him than to hear someone called "a handsome man." And Inuchiyo was certainly a handsome man.

"Do you plan to give Nene to him?" Without meaning to, they had somehow gone beyond the point of mere talk.

"What? No," Mataemon said, shaking his head. He brought the cup to his lip though roused from a deep reverie. "As a father, I would be happy to have such a well-mannered gentleman as Inuchiyo for a son-in-law, and I've already accepted. Recently, however, my daughter doesn't bow so meekly to her parents' judgment, though only this matter."

Do you mean that these engagement talks are not to her liking?"

She hasn't said so in so many words, but she's never said she approved of them either. Well, I suspect she doesn't like the idea."

"I see."

"You know, these marriage talks really are a bother." As Mataemon talked, a worried look spread across his face.

In the end, it was a question of honor. Mataemon admired Inuchiyo. He considered him to be a young man with a bright future. And when Inuchiyo had asked for Nene as his wife, Mataemon had agreed, and had even rejoiced before asking his daughter. But when he had proudly told her, "I think he'd make a peerless husband," she didn't appear to be happy at all. Instead she had looked upset. Although they were father and daughter, he now understood that there was a big difference of opinion between them when it came to choosing a lifetime partner. As a result, Mataemon did not know what to do. Both as a father and as a samurai, he was ashamed to confront Inuchiyo.

Inuchiyo, on the other hand, pursued the affair openly. He told his friends that he was going to marry Master Asano's daughter, and asked them to intercede for him.

Mataemon explained his predicament to Tokichiro. The day of the engagement was approaching. He had managed to hold him off so far with such excuses as "Her mother's been in poor health lately" and "My wife says this is an unlucky year." But he was running out of excuses and was at his wits' end as to what to do next.

"People say you're a man of great ability. Don't you have any ideas?" Mataemon drained his cup and put it down.

If Tokichiro was drunk, it did not show on his face. Until then he had been enjoying his own idle fantasies, but as he listened to Mataemon's problem, he suddenly became very serious.

I have a tough rival, he thought. Inuchiyo was the "handsome man" that Tokichiro disliked so much, but he was hardly what might be called a model one. Raised in a country at war, he was brave but suffered from a stubborn and self-indulgent streak.

Inuchiyo had fought his first campaign with Nobunaga's army at the age of thirteen, and had been man enough to return with an enemy's head. In a recent battle, when a retainer of Nobunaga's brother had rebelled, Inuchiyo had fought savagely in Nobunaga's vanguard. When an enemy warrior shot an arrow into Inuchiyo's right eye, Inuchiyo had leaped from his horse, cut off the man's head, and presented it to Nobunaga. All without removing the arrow.

He was a daring, handsome man, although his right eye was now closed to a narrow slit; it looked as though a single needle had been laid on his beautiful, fair skin. Even Nobunaga could not control Inuchiyo's impetuosity.

"So what should I do about Inuchiyo?" Mataemon asked.

They sat in despair together; even Tokichiro, as resourceful as he normally was, didn't know what to suggest. Finally he said, "Well, don't worry. I'll think of something."

Tokichiro returned to the castle. He had done nothing to further his own cause and had only shared Mataemon's problems. But he considered it an honor that his sweetheart's father had relied on him and confided in him, even if those troubles became a burden to him.

Tokichiro realized he was deeply in love with Nene.

Is that what love is all about? he asked himself, trying to understand the mysterious workings of his own heart. Saying the word "love" gave him an unpleasant feeling. He

disliked the word, which seemed to be on everyone's lips. Hadn't he given up on love since his youth? Certainly his looks and bearingthe weapons with which he fought against the worldhad been derided by the beautiful women he had met. But he, too, was moved by beauty and romance. And he had a deep store of patience that frivolous beauties and aristocrats could never imagine.

Although he had received nothing but contempt, he was not the kind of man who gave up. Someday I will show them, he vowed. The women of the world would fight for the attentions of this ugly little man. This thought was the goad that drove him on. It was this feeling that had formed his outlook on women and love before he even knew it. Tokichiro had nothing but contempt for men who worshiped the beauty of women. He despised those who turned love into a fantasy and a mystery, thinking it the highest good in human life, amusing themselves with their own melancholy.

Nevertheless, he thought, it's all right in Nene's caseeven to say that I've fallen in love. Love and hate are matters entirely up to the individual, and when he got used to the idea, Tokichiro compromised too. Just before going to sleep, he shut his eyes and imagined Nene's profile.

Tokichiro was off duty the following day as well. His new house in the paulownia stand, which he had visited the day before, was in need of some repairs, and he had to arrange for furniture. But he lingered inside the castle in order to call on Inuchiyo, who was always at Nobunaga's side. Inuchiyo looked down on Nobunaga's retainers from the raised wooden platform with a gaze more arrogant than his master's. When people like Tokichiro came to petition Nobunaga, Inuchiyo listened with a grin, the little dimples showing at the side of his mouth.

Monkey, again? Inuchiyo did not even have to say it. Somehow his single eye looked right through you. Tokichiro thought he was arrogant and did not mix with him much.

While Tokichiro was talking with the guard at the central gate, someone walked by and said, "Master Tokichiro, are you off duty today?"

Casually looking around, Tokichiro saw that it was Inuchiyo. Running after him, he said, "Master Inuchiyo. There is a delicate matter I would like to speak with you about.

Inuchiyo gave him his usual superior look. "Is this business or personal?"

"As I said, it's a delicate matter, so it's personal."

"If that's the case, right now is inappropriate. I'm just back from an errand for His Lordship, and I don't have time for a chat. Later." With this flat refusal, he left abruptly.

An unlikable fellow, but he does have some good points, Tokichiro had to admit. Left alone, he stared vacantly after Inuchiyo. Then he too went off, walking with long strides. He was headed for the castle town. Arriving at his new house, he found a man washing the gate and another man carrying in baggage.

Have I got the wrong house? Tokichiro asked himself.

As he looked around, a man's voice rang out from the kitchen. "Hey! Master Kinoshita. Over here."

"Oh, it's you."

"What do you mean, 'Oh, it's you'? Where have you been? Letting people furnish and

clean your house!" The man was one of his former colleagues in the kitchen. "Well, well. You've done rather well for yourself in no time at all." Tokichiro went in as if he were a guest in his own house. There was a new lacquered chest of drawers and a shelf. These were all gifts from friends who had heard of his promotion, but who, upon finding that the happy-go-lucky master of the house was out, had cleaned the place, moved in the furniture, and finally gotten around to washing the gate.

"Thank you. You're too kind." Embarrassed, Tokichiro quickly set about to help them with whatever he could do on his own. All that was left was to fill up the sake flasks and put them on the trays.

"Master Kinoshita," said one of the castle suppliers, who felt indebted to him from the time Tokichiro had worked as overseer for charcoal and firewood. Peeking into the kitchen, Tokichiro found a chubby maidservant washing and scrubbing. "This is a girl from our village. You must be busy these days, so why don't you employ her for the time being? Tokichiro took advantage of the offer and said, "I'd also like a manservant and a handyman, so if you know of anyone, I'd be most grateful." Then they sat down in a circle, and the housewarming party began.

It's a good thing I came here today. Imagine if I, the householder, had not shown up.

Tokichiro was ashamed of himself. He had not considered himself to be easygoing, but now he could see that he must be at least a bit. As they drank, the wives of his new colleagues in the neighborhood dropped by to congratulate Tokichiro on his promotion.

"Hey, Master Kinoshita! Master of the house!" one of the visitors called.

"What's up?"

"What do you mean, 'What's up?' Have you gone around to the other houses in the ghborhood to pay your respects?"

"No, not yet."

"What? Not yet? Are you the kind of person who dances and sings, waiting for people to come and pay their respects to you? Well, you'd better put on your best clothes and go on one round right away. You can take care of two problems at once by bowing to each house and telling them that you've moved to the neighborhood and that you've been appointed to the stables."

A few days later he had his help. A man from the same village as the maidservant came asking for work. And he employed another man. Somehow or another he had acquired a small residence and three servants, and was the master of his own house, despite his modest stipend. Now when Tokichiro left homewearing, of course, his secondhand blue cotton coat with the white paulownia crest on the backhe was seen off by the maid and servants.

That morning, thinking that everything would be perfect if only Nene became his wife, he skirted the outer moat of the castle. As he walked along, Tokichiro failed to see the grinning man coming from the other direction. And although one might have imagined that he was still thinking of Nene, his head was really filled with thoughts of castle siege and defense: This is a moat in name only. It's so shallow that in ten days without rain you could see the bottom. In wartime, if you threw in a thousand sandbags, you could open up an avenue of attack. There isn't very much drinking water in the castle, either. The weak point of this castle, then, is water supply. There isn't enough for a good defense in case of a siege. As he was mumbling to himself, a giant of a man approached and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Master Monkey. Are you on duty now?"

Tokichiro looked up at the face of the speaker, and in that instant hit upon a solution to his problem.

"No, this is a good time," he answered truthfully.

The man, of course, was Maeda Inuchiyo. That there had been no opportunity to talk since their former meeting, and that he now met him here by chance, outside the castle was a good omen. But before he was able to say anything, he was cut off by Inuchiyo.

"Master Monkey, in the castle you said something about a delicate matter you wanted to talk to me about. Since I'm not on duty, I'll hear you out."

"Well, what I want to say is" Tokichiro looked around, and brushed the dust off a rock at the edge of the moat. "This is not a matter to chat about standing. Why don't you sit down?"

"What is this all about?"

Tokichiro spoke frankly, and his eagerness and sense of the subject's importance showed in his face. "Master Inuchiyo. Do you love Nene?"

"Nene?"

"Master Asano's daughter."

"Ah, her."

"You love her, I suppose."

"What's it to you?"

"Because if you do, I would like to warn you. It seems that, being ignorant of the situation, you've gone through a go-between and have asked the girl's father for permission to marry her."

"Is there something wrong with that?"

"There is."

"What is that?"

"Well, the fact is that Nene and I have been in love for many years now."

Inuchiyo stared fixedly at Tokichiro, and suddenly his whole body shook with laughter. Tokichiro could see by the man's expression that he was not going to take him seriously, and he looked even more serious.

"No, this is not a laughing matter. Nene is not the kind of woman who would betray me and give herself to another man, regardless of the cause."

"Is that so?"

We've made firm promises to each other."

"Well, if that's the way it is, that's fine with me."

There is one person, however, with whom it's not so fine, and that is Nene's father. If you don't withdraw your request, Master Mataemon is going to be caught between two sides and will be forced to commit ritual suicide."

"Seppuku?"

"It seems that Master Mataemon had no idea of the agreement between us, so he

ageed to your proposal. But because of the situation I've just explained to you, Nene is refusing to go through with it."

"Well then, whose wife will she be?"

With this challenge, Tokichiro pointed to himself and said, "Mine."

Inuchiyo laughed again, but not as loudly as before. "Put a limit on your jokes, Master Monkey. Have you ever looked in a mirror?"

"Are you calling me a liar?"

"Why should Nene be engaged to someone like you?"

"If it's true, what are you going to do?"

"If it is, I'll congratulate you."

"You mean you wouldn't object if Nene and I got married?"

"Master Monkey"

"Yes?"

"People are going to laugh."

"There's nothing that can be done to a relationship based on love, even if we are laughed at."

"You're really serious, aren't you?"

"I am. When a woman dislikes the man who is courting her, she parries him cleverly, like a willow in the wind. When that happens, you're better off not thinking of yourself as a fool, or that you've been deceived. That aside, please don't bear a grudge against Master Mataemon if Nene and I do get married. That will just add insult to injury."

"Is this what you wanted to talk to me about?"

"Yes, and I'm very grateful for what you've said. I beg you not to forget the promise you made just now." Tokichiro bowed, but when he raised his head, Inuchiyo was gone.

A few days later, Tokichiro dropped in on Mataemon's house. "Regarding what we talked about the other day," Tokichiro said formally. "I met with Master Inuchiyo and carefully explained your distress to him. He said that if your daughter had no intention of becoming his wife, and if there was already a promise between the two of us, there was really nothing to be done. He seemed to be resigned to the situation." As Tokichiro told his story matter-of-factly, Mataemon's face showed that he didn't know quite what to make of it. Tokichiro continued, "Which is to say that Master Inuchiyo did have some regrets, so it would be unacceptable to him if she were given in marriage to anyone else. If she and I were engaged to be married, he would be disappointed would resign himself. He would take it like a man and congratulate me. Still, he would be highly displeased if you were to give Nene to someone else."

"Hold on, Kinoshita. If I heard you right, Master Inuchiyo says it's all right if Nene marries you, but no one else?"

"That's correct."

"Incredible! Who told you that you could marry Nene? And when?"

"No one, I'm ashamed to say."

"What is this? Did you think that I asked you to lie to Master Inuchiyo?"

"Well"

"But what kind of nonsense have you told Master Inuchiyo? And to say that you and Nene are engaged is nothing more than a joke. This is outrageous!" Mataemon, who was ordinarily a gentle man, was getting upset. "Because it was you who came up with this, people will think that it's probably a joke. But even as a joke, it's terribly embarrassing for an unmarried girl. Do you find it funny?"

"Of course not." Tokichiro hung his head. "I'm the one who made this mistake. I never meant for it to come to this. I'm sorry."

Mataemon looked disgusted. "I don't want you saying how sorry you are. It was my mistake, opening up to someone I thought had a little more common sense."

"Really, I"

"Well, go home. What are you waiting for? Having said what you have, you're no longer welcome in this house."

"All right, I'll be discreet until the day the wedding is announced."

"Fool!" Mataemon's store of geniality was finally exhausted. He yelled at Tokichiro "Do you think that someone is going to give Nene to a man like you? She wouldn't give her consent even if I ordered her to."

"Well, that's the issue, isn't it?"

"What do you mean?"

"There's nothing as mysterious as love. Nene probably conceals it in her heart that she won't have anyone else for a husband but me. It's rude of me to say so, but I haven't proposed to you; I've proposed to your daughter. Nene is the one who is hoping that I'd ask her to become my wife."

Mataemon looked at him dumbstruck. This had to be the pushiest man he had ever met! No matter what kind of man he was, maybe Tokichiro would go home if he made a sour face and remained silent and sullen. But Tokichiro sat there without a hint of getting up to leave.

To make matters worse, Tokichiro spoke up coolly, "I'm not lying. I'd like you to ask Nene once what is really in her heart."

Mataemon had had enough. Turning around as though he was unable to take any more, he yelled out to his wife in the next room, "Okoi! Okoi!" Okoi looked anxiously at her husband through the open doorway but didn't get up. "Why don't you call Nene?" he asked her.

"But"

When she tried to calm him down, Mataemon yelled past his wife: "Nene! Nene!"

Nene, afraid that something had happened, came and knelt behind her mother. Come here!" Mataemon said severely, "Surely, you have not made some promise to Master Kinoshita here without your parents' consent."

This came as an unmistakable shock for Nene. Wide-eyed, she looked back and forth at her father and Tokichiro, who was sitting with his head hung low.

"Well, Nene? Our family honor is at stake. It's also for the sake of your own honor when you do get married. You had better speak up clearly. Surely nothing like that has happened."

Nene was silent for a moment, but finally she spoke clearly and modestly: "It has not Father."

"Nothing, right?" With a look of victory combined with a sigh of relief, Mataemon stuck out his chest.

"But, Father"

"What?"

"There's something I'd like to say while Mother is here, too."

"Go ahead."

"I have a request. If Master Kinoshita will have an unworthy person like myself as his wife, please give your consent."

"Wha-what?" Mataemon stuttered.

"Yes."

"Have you lost your senses?"

"One doesn't speak lightly of such an important subject. I feel very embarrassed to speak of such things, even to my parents, but this is so important for all of us that I must speak about it openly."

Mataemon let out a groan and stared openmouthed at his daughter.

Extraordinary! Tokichiro silently praised Nene's splendid speech, and his entire body thrilled with excitement. But more than this, he could not understand why this carefree, laffected girl had given him her confidence.

It was evening. Tokichiro was walking along absentmindedly. Having left Mataemon's iuse, he was on his way to his own home in the paulownia grove.

If her parents would give their permission, she would like to become Master Kinoshita's wife, Nene had said. Even though he was putting one foot in front of another, he wass so wrapped up in his happiness that he was barely conscious. Nene had spoken seriously, but he still had some doubts. Does she really love me? If she loves me that much, why didn't she tell me sooner? he wondered. He had secretly sent her letters and gifts, but until now Nene had not sent him a single answer that might be interpreted as favorable. From this he had naturally thought that Nene did not like him. And what about the way had dealt with Inuchiyo and Mataemon? He was just being his normal pushy self. Win or lose, he had persisted in his own hopes without asking himself what Nene really felt. He should marry her. He had to marry her.

Nevertheless, for her to say in front of her father and mother that she wanted to marry himand when he himself was presentrequired a great deal of courage. Her admission astonished Tokichiro more than it surprised her father.

Until Tokichiro left, Mataemon had sat with a sour and disappointed look on his face, without consenting to his daughter's request. Rather, he had sat silently sighing, confused, pitying and disdaining his daughter's frame of mind, saying, "There's no accounting for taste.

Tokichiro was also uneasy. "I'll come back another day and ask again," he had said as prepared to leave.

Mataemon replied, "I'll try to think about it. I'll think about it." Which was an implicit refusal.

But Tokichiro found some hope in these words. Until then, he had not understood Nene's feelings at all. But if Nene's heart was set, he was confident that he would be able to change Mataemon's mind somehow. "I'll think about it" was not an outright no. So

Tokichiro felt that he had already made Nene his wife.

Tokichiro was still lost in thought as he entered his house and sat down in the main room. He was thinking about his own self-confidence, Nene's feelings, and the right time for their marriage.

"There's a letter for you from Nakamura."

As soon as Tokichiro had sat down, the servant put the letter and a package of millet flour in front of him. A feeling of homesickness told him that the letter was from his mother.

There are no words to express our gratitude for the gifts you always send: the dumplings and the clothes for Otsumi. We only have tears to thank you.

He had written to her several times, telling her about his house, and asking her come and live with him. Although his stipend of thirty kan would not allow him to discharge his filial duties fully, she would not lack food or clothing. He also had several servants, so that her hands, which had become rough from years of work on the soil, would not have to scrub and clean again. He would also find a husband for Otsumi. And he would buy some good sake for his stepfather. He himself enjoyed a drink, and nothing would please him more than if the whole family could live together, talking about the former poverty over their evening meal.

Onaka's letter went on:

Although we would be happy to live with you, I am sure that this would get in the way of your work. Certainly, your mother understands that a samurai's duty is to be ready to die at any time. It is still too early to think of my happiness. When I think about former times and your present position, I thank the gods, the Buddhas, and His Lordship for their favors. Do not worry about me. Rather, work harder. There nothing that will make your mother happier. I have not forgotten what you said at the gate that frosty night, and think of it often.

Tokichiro cried and read the letter over and over. The master of the house was not supposed to let his servants see him cry. Moreover, it was the upbringing of a samurai not to let anyone see his tears. But Tokichiro was not like that. And there were so many tears that the servant felt awkward and fidgety.

"Ah, I was wrong. What she said is perfectly correct. My mother is so smart. It's still not the time to think about myself and my family," he said aloud to himself as he folded the letter. His tears would not stop, and he rubbed his eyes with his sleeve like a small child.

That's right! he realized. There haven't been any wars here for a while, but there's no telling when war might erupt in a castle town. The people who live in Nakamura are safe. No, she's saying that that kind of selfish thinking is wrong to begin with. Service to ones lord should come first. Raising the letter to his forehead reverently, Tokichiro addresse his mother as though she were in the room with him, "No, I understand what you've said, and I'll abide by it absolutely. When my position is secure, and I have the confidence of my lord and others, I'll visit you again, so please come to live with me then." He then took the package of millet flour and gave it to the servant. "Take this to the kitchen. What are you looking at? Is there something strange about crying when you're supposed to? This millet flour my mother ground at night with her own hands. Give it to the maid-servant. Tell her not to waste it, but to make it into dumplings for me from time to time. Ive liked them since I was a child. I guess my mother remembered that."

He completely forgot about Nene, and continued thinking about his mother while he ate his solitary evening meal. What does Mother eat? Even if I sent her money, she'd use it to buy sweets for her child or sake for her husband and eat unseasoned vegetables herself. If my mother does not live a long life, I don't know how I'll carry on.

When he went to bed, he was still lost in thought. How can I get married before my her comes to live with me? It's too soon, much too soon. It would be better to marry Nene later.


Characters and Places | Taiko | The Walls of Kiyosu