Welcome back! This week I'm continuing to share excerpts from my upcoming release, The Samurai's Garden. This scene takes place directly after the one I posted last week:
Hiro put the axe away and walked back to his hut. He made use of the tiny washbowl and returned to Hanako’s hut to find out what the day’s work would be. She was still busy cooking, so he sat down on the cushion to watch her.
He hadn’t expected to be comfortable here, but he had slept soundly and awakened full of energy. The air here seemed cleaner, everything looked brighter, and he had tiptoed past her hut to investigate the surroundings in the light of day. Noticing the nearly depleted woodpile, he imagined her struggling to chop the wood for her fire. The thought distressed him so much he chose the tallest tree he could find, cutting it down and chopping it into pieces so that she wouldn’t have to worry about the chore for a while.
Watching her now, as she worked on the simple meal, he compared her to the women he had known. Embodying the traditional concept of beauty, their smooth, uncalloused hands held delicately painted fans in front of their powdered faces. Hanako’s fingernails were lined with dirt, and her face was tanned from working outdoors. Her clear eyes shone with intelligence and sincerity. Yet in her simplicity she was as elegant as a geisha.
Hanako’s breakfast preparations were interrupted by a strange bellow from behind the hut. Hiro looked up, uncomprehending, while she jumped up and ran outside. He got up to follow her.
The cow had broken her lead rope and had begun to trot away. Hanako ran after the animal, but the kimono she wore didn't allow her to run very fast. She could only move her legs from the knees down, and the cow got farther and farther away.
Hiro knew he could overtake the animal more easily and raced after the errant cow. Charging past Hanako, he finally reached the animal and grabbed what was left of the lead rope. Then he slowed his steps, gradually bringing the cow to a halt. The massive animal resisted his pull, but Hiro managed to turn her around.
A flash of gray to his right caught his attention. A wolf? Was that why the cow had run? Perhaps he'd better go hunting later.
Before Hiro had the cow back to the hut, Hanako was already hard at work digging a hole. A sturdy pole and a thicker rope lay on the ground nearby.
He admired her athletic movement, as well as her fine form, as she set about her task. She was such a hard worker. A sudden thought entered his mind, startling him with its intensity.
She is a strong woman, worthy of a strong warrior.
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