Welcome back! I have another sample from my current work-in-progress, The Plum Blossom Covenant. In the previous three Saturdays, we've met the hero, Yasa Tanaka, his parents, and the heroine, Yumiko. They're childhood friends, but there's something dark in their past. Yasa has just returned to Japan from several years in America. Here, they meet again.
Yasa couldn’t sleep. His mind raced with all the things he wanted to do once he reached home. He couldn't wait to see all of his family, of course. And his many friends. But most of all there was his pet project, one he had been planning since leaving America. He had always been interested in the development of new plants, heartier varieties, and during his days at the Agricultural College, he had spent more time in the laboratories than anywhere else. During his time in America, he had met growers who had generously allowed him to tour their gardens and examine their plants. One grower, Hiram Becker, had become a close friend and had actually given him some plants and seedlings to take home and try. It would be interesting to see if these plants would grow in the cooler Hokkaido climate.
He dressed and tiptoed out of the house. When his mind raced, he needed to walk. He had spent the last two weeks cooped up on the ship, where walking was limited. Now that he was back on dry land, he could walk. He was familiar enough with the area around his uncle’s house - he would be safe enough. Mindful of his mother’s tendency to worry, he left a note for her in case she awakened early, and slid noiselessly into the night.
The smells of the city assailed him as he made his way to the main street. They were the scents of humans living in close quarters - rotting garbage, human waste, and bad sake. Yasa held his breath and walked more quickly to the open area in the marketplace. As he neared the area, he realized his solitary time was not to be. Angry voices arose from the crowd gathered there. Three women, one Japanese and two Caucasian, were surrounded by a group of men. Some of the men waved papers. Yasa was relieved that they didn’t seem to pose a physical threat to the women. They were simply perturbed. Still, it bothered him to see these men harbored ill will toward the women. What was the problem? He stepped closer.
“You are poisoning the minds of our women!”
“Take your idiotic ideas back across the ocean with you!”
Ahh, the women were feminists. He had seen some of them in action in America. The women there were much more outspoken than Japanese women, and some of them actually wanted women to have the right to vote in elections! Had some of them come over here to get the Japanese women to join their cause?
Yasa wondered if the women would need help, but a constable’s stern voice broke through the complaints.
“All right, men! Leave these women alone! Go on back to your homes before I cite you for creating a disturbance!”
Grudgingly, the men left. Yasa shook his head at the difference between this crowd and some of the crowds he had witnessed in America. In that country, it would have taken more than one lone constable to break up such a large, noisy crowd. There might have been physical violence. But here, authority was respected and directions were followed without question. Yasa looked over at the women, who seemed to have recovered from their ordeal. The constable was speaking with them.
“You ladies need to get to your destination. It is far too late for you to be walking outside unescorted.”
“I will accompany them.” Yasa spoke before he could think.
The three faces swung toward him. One face looked vaguely familiar -
“Yumiko.” The nickname came on a sigh, and his mind went back in time. Lazy summer days, fishing at the stream behind his house. Happy times. And one excruciatingly painful time.
“You know these women, sir?” The constable’s voice broke into his reverie.
Yuki shook off the cobwebs in his mind. “Yes, sir. This woman is a childhood friend. I will see her and her friends safely to their destination.”
The man nodded and left.
Yasa turned a rueful smile toward his former friend. “So,” he sighed, “we meet again.”
Thanks for stopping by! Please let me know your thoughts, and make sure to read the excerpts offered by other authors today. You can find links to their blogs at Sweet Saturday Samples.
If you want to know about Yasa's parents, be sure to read The Samurai's Garden, published by Astraea Press. You can get it HERE.