Flower Spelling - Chapter 1.2
Chapter 1 – Tatsumi Residence Commotion Part 2
Three days have passed since the incident. After three days of questioning by the government officials and the cleanup of the wrecked tatami room, things have finally returned to order at Tatsumi Residence.
… At least, that was how it is supposed to be.
“Arrest the landlady?”
The unforeseen presence of the official caused Sogetsu, who was answering his call, to fall into a panic.
“Yes. It is suspected that the landlady here is planning to assassinate the foreigners by means of a mob. She would be requested to accompany me to the guardhouse for further investigation.”
“Wait, please wait a minute.”
Eikichi shoved aside the stiffening Sogetsu and stepped forward. “Sir, there must be some mistake. The landlady was protecting her customers from the assailants. Besides, it’s just a coincidence that the guests ended up in this store, there’s no way she could have schemed this beforehand.”
“This will be dealt at the guardhouse. If there is no agency, I’ll drag her away with force.”
“Do not trouble yourself about it.”
With a piercing voice, the landlady silently strode forth.
As usual, she straightened her back and firmly confronted the official.
“I understand your story. It is not something within my understanding, but if it is my role, then so be it. Please investigate to your heart’s content.” She bowed her head profoundly.
She faced the women, who were screaming in their voices. “Please take care of the store while I’m gone.”
After saying this, she was led away with a majestic demeanor and a brilliant hem.
“Will the landlady be alright…?”
Her complexion must have been terrible. Eikichi smacked Sogetsu on the forehead.
“What are you talking about? She has nothing to feel guilty for. They’ll let her out soon and she’ll be back by nightfall.”
“I guess so.”
Nonetheless, despite the wishes of Sogetsu and the others, the landlady did not return even after three days had elapsed.
“No good! The people at the guardhouse, no matter what I ask, they just claim they’re inquiring and do not know what’s going on at all.”
Eikichi, who had gone to check on the situation, stomped her foot in annoyance, and the other geishas exchanged worried glances.
It was in the evening of that day that things took a drastic twist. They were informed that the landlady was to be punished as the ringleader of the crime.
“What exactly is going on? How is it possible that the landlady is the mastermind!”
“A guest who has connections with government officials told me about it. It seems that the England side is putting pressure on them and they need to find the culprit as soon as possible. So, they’re trying to force the landlady to be the mastermind and end the case quickly.”
“That’s an absolute false accusation! They’ve got the wrong idea!”
“That’s right! Besides, would the foreign side believe such a story? Even the customers who were there would know that the landlady didn’t do anything.”
“I’m sure they’ll make it up as they go along. They’re very skilled at that kind of thing. That’s what government officials are good at.”
With that final retort, everyone fell silent.
Rage and resentment were evident on everyone’s face, and the air was filled with heaviness.
Straight away, Sogetsu raised her face.
“Then who’s the real mastermind? The people who attacked us that night. If we can find them, we can prove the landlady’s innocence.”
“You idiot, there’s no way we can find what the officials can’t find with their own eyes.”
… But if we don’t do anything about it, the landlady will really be framed as the culprit. Even though the landlady said to me, ‘Take care of it’. If I had paid more attention to my surroundings, we might have been able to avoid such a fuss.
Being taken care of. But not returning the favor yet.
“Then we’ll have to break the jade with resolution!”
Eikichi’s words brought Sogetsu’s consciousness back to reality.
“We’ll all go to the magistrate’s office and protest. We may get arrested too, but that’s fine! We can’t just abandon the landlady like this.”
The other geishas agreed, and the discussion was over in the blink of an eye.
… What to do?
With no other choice, Sogetsu remained in the futon musing over the issue.
If nothing was to be done, all will be arrested.
She was unable to fall asleep, so she ventured outside.
There was still some time before dawn.
Across the dimly illuminated moonlit street, the lights of small lanterns swayed.
There’s no doubt about it. It was Hanabishi, one of the geishas who had come to learn how to dance from the landlady. Although she was younger than Sogetsu, they became friends as they practiced together, and even went out to see a play on each other’s days off.
As soon as Hanabishi spotted Sogetsu and rushed over to her, she burst into tears.
“What, what happened, Ohana?”
“I’m sorry! It’s my fault! I told them about the Tatsumi Residence, then this happened…”
“For the moment, please calm down. Simply take your time and talk to me. What do you mean you told him?”
Under Sogetsu’s mild prodding, Hanabishi faltered and then described her meeting with the three samurai the night of the disturbance.
“I didn’t think it would cause such a commotion… When I heard that the landlady was going to be punished for being one of the culprits, I didn’t know what to do…”
Tears welled up in her eyes again.
“It’s okay. It’s not your fault, Ohana… Hey, do you recall anything about those people? Like their names, where they live?”
“He claimed to be from the Choshu clan. Ito Shunsuke of Choshu.”
“Choshu… I see, thank you. That was informative. Don’t worry, everything will turn out alright. The officials will know they have the wrong person, and the landlady will be back soon.”
Hanabishi’s visage softened considerably when she stated this with a grin, as though she felt more at ease after conversing with her.
Watching her retreating figure scurrying back down the whitening street, Sogetsu made a resolution.
The distance from Fukagawa, where most of the townspeople live, to the samurai estate near Edo Castle was about one mile (four kilometers).
On that road, Sogetsu was hustling as fast as she could.
She intended to track down and speak with the three assailants from that time. That was the resolution that Sogetsu held.
Looking at Sogetsu, running with blood in her veins, the early birds’ expression was as if they were expressing, “What’s going on?”. Crossing the Nihonbashi bridge, she passed through several towns and eventually came to a section lined with large mansions. It was the first time she had approached a place that was devoid of the usual commotion.
… Which one is Choshu’s mansion?
Unlike the direct clans, which serve the shogunate directly, each clan has its own residence in Edo, where it is involved in administrative affairs. However, the mansions were not marked with nameplates, leaving her clueless as to which one to approach.
After roaming around for a while, she was fortunate enough to learn the location from a buckwheat noodle vendor who was passing by and was eventually successful in finding it.
Here is it…
The entrance was not flashy, yet it was solid and massive. From there, the white walls stretched out endlessly on both sides.
This whole area is Choshu’s mansion? It looks like there’s plenty of room for the entire university grounds…
Sogetsu strove to be optimistic as she tried to get herself together to aid the landlady. Taking a deep breath, she elevated her voice.
“Excuse me! Is anyone there!―Excuse me! Somebody!”
“What’s all this about, at this time of dawn?”
Hearing the sound of a cane being detached, a man who looked like a gatekeeper came out of the service gate.
“Um, please forgive my intrusion.” She dropped her head as if she intended to be the one to make the initial move. “My name is Sogetsu, and I belong to a store called ‘Tatsumi Residence’ in Fukagawa. I’d like to speak to Lord Ito Shunsuke or Lord Takasugi here, please.”
“I’m sorry, but they can’t see anyone. You’ll have to come back later.”
“It will be too late by then! Can’t we meet now somehow? I just need a few minutes! The landlady will be…”
“What’s futile is futile. Now, behave yourself and return back.”
No matter how aggressively Sogetsu banged on the door or yelled, the gate would not open.
“…What! At the very least, you could have listened to me!”
Kicking the door in exasperation, she snapped back indignantly.
If everything else fails, Bain would need to figure out what’s going on and convince the officials to let the landlady go.
I believe he said they use a temple in Shinagawa called Tozenji as their consulate.
Muttering to herself, she hurried westward through the gradually brightening city.
“Well, well, well. Finally given up, haven’t you?”
At the sound of fading footsteps, the gatekeeper drew in a deep breath. He opened his mouth, yawning loudly, letting the sleepiness that had come back instantly take over.
Then it was followed by a chuckling voice.
“You seem sleepy.”
“You, you are Master Sufu!”
As he turned around in a cold sweat, his gaze collided with a man eyeing him with amusement.
He was Sufu Masanosuke, one of the executives of the Choshu clan.
“When did you…?”
“What? Just a few days ago. I was ordered to stay in Edo.”
“No, I meant…”
“Haha, around the time you drove away the guest. So, what did she come here for?”
Sufu stopped fanning his fan when he was told that she had apparently come to see Takasugi and Ito.
“Aren’t those two under house arrest along with Kusaka? They caused a disturbance in town or something…”
“Yes. That’s why I told her she couldn’t see them now, but she was so persistent. She said she came from Fukagawa, so she must have come to ask for the bill. ―Um, have I done something wrong?” The man grew a little uneasy as Sufu fell silent, as if in thought.
“No, it’s nothing. Well, I’d better get to work now.”
“Takasugi, it’s me, Sufu. Are you awake?”
A sleepy face peeked out from inside when he called out from the doorway.
“Mr. Sufu? What are you doing here so early in the morning? If it’s a sermon, Mr. Katsura has given me plenty enough.”
“It’s not me that is searching for you. A while ago, a girl who called herself Sogetsu came to visit you. ――She said she came from Fukagawa. That girl said something about the landlady. Do you have any idea what she’s talking about?”
Takasugi’s eyes, which had before been sleepy, had instantly grown solemn. Sufu watched his reaction closely, and then.
“That’s all I have to say. You are still under house arrest. Don’t even think about trying to get out.”
Leaving behind a meaningful statement, Sufu left.
Takasugi, who was left behind, swiftly changed his clothes and knocked on the door of Kusaka’s nagaya.
“Kusaka, wake up, Kusaka.”
Kusaka, who was presumably already awake, glanced at Takasugi and frowned.
“What are you doing? We’re under house arrest. We can’t just leave the room without permission.”
He restrained Kusaka from saying anything and took him out of the Nagaya, insisting that the situation was urgent.
“I have no clue, but it seemed something happened at that store in Fukagawa.”
Ito was taken out as well (he was deeply sleeping), and the three of them sneaked out of the mansion through the back gate.
Sogetsu rode to Tozenji with great vigor, but she was denied entry once again, with her initial vigor gone and she was utterly discouraged by the combination of hunger and fatigue.
As she trudged along the seaside road, she thought about everyone at the store.
They were probably worried about Sogetsu’s absence at this point.
What am I doing? I dashed out to help everyone, but there was nothing I could do. On the contrary, I’m making everyone’s life difficult…
She struggled to keep her emotions at bay.
It was the last place Sogetsu wanted to go, as she didn’t want anyone to find out her true identity.
I can’t abandon the landlady who saved me.
Fortunately, Eikichi and the others didn’t seem to have shown up yet.
They might be in a tizzy over Sogetsu.
Well, I guess it was worth the trip.
Take a deep, slow breath.
Just as she was about to step out with all her energy.
An arm swiftly reached out from behind, grabbing Sogetsu’s body and pulling her towards a side alley.
As Sogetsu struggled to escape, an unanticipated voice whispered in her ear.
“Hey, hey, hey, don’t get upset. I’m not going to hurt you. Just calm down.”
―! This voice…
The restraints on her arms eased once she drew to a sudden standstill. She swung her body around carefully.
“It’s a pity we have to go through all of this just for a geisha.”
As it turned out, the droopy-eyed assailant from before was looking at her with a dumbfounded expression.
“You…! You are Mr. Takasugi? What brings you here? What exactly are you up to?”
“If you were going to rescue the landlady, I expected you’d come here. I’ve been awaiting your arrival. I was expecting you, but I didn’t imagine you’d try to go in on your own. You will be turned away if you go. If the worst happens, you’ll be caught.”
“Don’t talk like it’s none of your business. The reason the landlady got arrested was that you guys got violent.”
“I know.” Takasugi nodded cryptically. “I heard the whole story at the Tatsumi Residence. We’ll help you rescue the landlady.”
“… Eh?” Her rage was forgotten as she was taken aback by the shocking remarks.
“What’s with the stupid look on your face? Let’s move on. We’re supposed to meet up with Kusaka and the others at Kodenmacho Prison.”
“Kodenmacho…? Isn’t that where the landlady is being held?” She rapidly followed Takasugi’s back, who had begun walking ahead. “What the hell is going on? Please explain properly! You didn’t even let me see you when I went to visit you at your residence.”
Takasugi snorted, “I am under house arrest. So, they won’t let you meet me.”
“Under house arrest?”
“Kusaka was foolish enough to report the commotion to his superiors. I’ve snuck out…”
“Eh? Would that be alright?”
“Doesn’t matter, Whether I am in the room or not, no one can tell.”
This guy, will it really be alright?
By the time she started to regret following him as she was told, she had already arrived at the destination.
“Oh, you are here, this way!”
Recognizing Sogetsu and the others, a familiar man waved from the alleyway next to them.
That must be the Ito, who Hanabishi was referring to. The man with the shaved head next to him was Kusaka, who had reported the incident to his superiors.
“Good. I’m glad both of you were able to meet up. I didn’t expect you to beat up the magistrate’s office, but it turned out to be true. You’ve got some nerve.”
“Hey, that’s rude.”
Kusaka poked Ito with his elbow, saying that he was greatly impressed.
“I apologize for the inconvenience. I’m Kusaka Genzui of the Choshu clan, and this is Ito Shunsuke. You already know… Takasugi, don’t you?”
“Oh, now talking about it, I didn’t tell you my name properly.”
Before Sogetsu could answer, Takasugi straightened his posture and fixed his eyes straight on Sogetsu.
“This is Takasugi Shinsaku, a samurai of the Choshu clan.”
“… Sogetsu, from Tatsumi Residence.”
She stared back at him, losing to the pressure of his stern gaze.
“Ms. Sogetsu.” Kusaka faced her with an inscrutable expression and bowed deeply. “I’m so sorry about the landlady, even though I didn’t know her. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”
It was unexpected to hear such an honest apology from him, so she didn’t find the right words immediately.
“So, here’s what we’re going to do…”
“Wait a minute. Why are you all here in the first place? What exactly is going on?”
Now, Kusaka was the one who was staring absentmindedly. Eh? He murmured, then turned to face Takasugi.
“Didn’t you inform her about it?”
Takasugi averted his gaze as if he were out of breath. “Already explained it!”
“Which part have you explained! Showing up out of nowhere and kidnapped me, then brought me here with you! And then suddenly you say you’re going to help the landlady, but I have no idea what you’re talking about!”
“Is your fault that you were in trouble! If I hadn’t stopped you right there and then, you would have been arrested by the authorities by now!”
“Whose fault do you think it is that we’re in this mess! You’re the ones who caused it in the first place―”
“Stop it, both of you. Now is not the time to fight amongst ourselves.” Kusaka stepped in immediately to save the situation from becoming heated. “I’ll explain it to you step by step, so please hold back for now, Ms. Sogetsu.”
When they had settled down, Kusaka began to speak slowly.
The three of them headed straight to “Tatsumi Residence” after leaving the clan residence, where they discovered for the first time that the landlady had been arrested and that Sogetsu had run off alone.
The geishas were preparing to search for Sogetsu, but he stopped them and assured them that he would track her down and bring her back. Kusaka and Ito proceeded to the prison to double-check the landlady’s allegations.
“Actually, I wanted to be the one to look for you but, the only one who remembered your face properly was Mr. Takasugi.”
After Ito shrugged his shoulders, Kusaka took over. “I’m acquainted with the jailer of this prison-house for a reason. When I heard about the landlady, I was impressed by how resolute and honorable she was even in prison. She doesn’t seem to have been treated badly, so you can rest assured about that. But…”
Kusaka’s brow darkened: “I’m sure the landlady will be punished in some way. We’ll hear from her in a day or two.”
“We don’t have much time then.”
“… Takasugi, I will report to the magistrate’s office and commit seppuku.”
Takasugi and Sogetsu’s voices overlapped.
Seppuku is… Um, belly cutting, hah? Are you being serious?
“You, don’t say something like that!”
“If we don’t do something, people will be punished for what we’ve done! Besides, I’d be happy to slit my own belly if it means revealing Choshu’s intentions to expel the barbarians and bringing down Nagai.”
“Idiot! If you die, there will be no one to stop Nagai! I’m sure he’ll take advantage of the opportunity to round up the Shogunate with his signature oratory.”
“Yeah, that’s right! Forget about committing seppuku!” Sogetsu came to her senses and joined Takasugi. “I just want the landlady to be released!”
“Shunsuke, you speak up too.”
“Well, if I was told to cut my belly, I would cut it, but anyway…” Ito smirked. “It would be better if you kill again, and then kill one of the foreigners as well.”
“Hey, stop it!”
“That is a good idea too.”
“Even Mr. Takasugi! All of you please don’t say anything stupid! That’s absolutely not allowed!”
“I am just joking.” Takasugi laughed and patted Sogetsu on the forehead. “The foreigners are surrounded by many guards. If we attacked them without a plan, we would only get beaten back. It’s not something we can do in a day or two.”
(It didn’t sound very much like he was joking)
She gazed at him, holding her smacked forehead in her hand, but Takasugi didn’t appear to mind and carried on with a casual demeanor.
“The point is, we just need to prove that the landlady had nothing to do with it, right?”
She smiled wryly and said, “Hmm.”
“I have an excellent plan.”
A quarter of an hour later. Sogetsu was walking with Takasugi on the road to Shinagawa.
The purpose was to ask for Bain’s cooperation on Takasugi’s “excellent plan”.
Will Mr. Jude really listen to us?
Even if it was to save the landlady, it would be too good to be true that they would cooperate with those who came to kill them.
But despite my annoyance, Takasugi and the others don’t seem like bad people, and I don’t want them to die or get caught…
While thinking about it, she arrived at Tozenji Temple.
“Yes, Mr. Takasugi. I forgot to mention that when I came here this morning, they didn’t even listen to me and turned me away. Would they let us in now?”
“Well, I guess you didn’t ask them in the right way. All means of moving people’s hearts are the same.”
As Takasugi had said, the gatekeeper let them through easily.
That’s… under his sleeves…
Sogetsu’s face scrunched up as she felt like she had seen something she shouldn’t have.
In any case, it was great to be able to go inside.
She introduced herself to the man in the small room as an acquaintance of Bain’s and requested to meet him.
They were instructed to wait in a room with a hardwood floor and ornate seats and desks, which were most likely designed for British people.
A British metropolis with massive stone buildings and a steam locomotive is depicted in the photos on the wall.
Amazing…The UK is already progressing so much in science and technology at this time.
Takasugi, who had been staring at it with fascination, sharply turned to face Sogetsu.
“By the way, what is the name of that guy…?”
“Mr. Jude Bain.”
“That’s a tricky name to pronounce, Jubei will do. Does this Jubei knows Japanese?”
“Yes, just a few words. The last time I was in the tatami room, there was a Japanese guide acting as an interpreter, so I was able to get by.”
“Yeah. But you can’t ask the guide to be here today, can you? When Jubei comes, talk to him in English.”
“Don’t tell me you can’t speak it. You had spoken to that foreigner in English that night, right?”
“You… You heard it!?”
Inadvertently, she covered her mouth with her hand. She could feel her blood rushing to the surface.
What should I do? They’re definitely suspicious of me. How can I explain that…?
“Don’t be so green, I’m not going to kill you. I’m just intrigued as to why you can speak English.”
Just as she was about to open her mouth and say something.
“Oh, Fantastic Girl!”
With a bright tone, Bain appeared. As soon as he spotted Sogetsu, he sprinted up to her, beaming.
“Miss Sou. Are you doing well?”
“Ah, yes, I am well. What about Mr. Jude…?”
“Yes. I am well.”
Looking at Takasugi, he asked, “He? Who is this?”
How to explain this? Takasugi stepped forward quickly as she was lost in thought.
“I am Takasugi Shinsaku, a samurai of the Choshu clan. I apologize for the other day. I’m here today to ask you for a favor.”
Once they had finished speaking, Bain folded his arms with a difficult look on his face.
She falsely claimed that she could speak English due to her time in Yokohama, a lie that the landlady had fabricated upon her first arrival in Edo (Yokohama had a foreign settlement and many Japanese came and went), and although she was unsure to what extent she was able to communicate in her faltering English, she did what she could regardless.
“I know I’m being selfish. But I’m trying to help the landlady. Please lend me your help.”
“…. As far as I’m concerned, I’d like to turn that man to the authorities right now. My friend was almost killed. But…” Bain sighed. “There was no real damage, and it was our fault for going into the town without permission. Above all, we can’t help it if Miss Sou, who saved our lives, asks us to help. I will cooperate.”
“Is that true! Thank you very much!”
“However, if the culprit goes unchecked and withdraws, the prestige of my country will be at stake. The ‘culprit’ must definitely disappear, will that be alright?”
“Yes, you have my word!”
“Then we have a deal.”
The three of them shook hands firmly.
By the time they left Tozenji, the sun had already risen to the middle of the sky.
When she stood here at dawn, she never dreamed that things would turn out this way. It had been a journey of impatience and tension that felt like it was going to erupt before, yet now it was an uplifting feeling walking with Takasugi on the road. It was quite a strange thing.
They picked up a palanquin on the way and rode it to “Tatsumi Residence,” where they were quickly mobbed by Eikichi and others who had gathered in front of the store.
“Sogetsu! You’re safe.”
“Don’t this girl just makes people anxious? Going there by herself.”
She was so glad and relieved hugging her tightly, that her legs began to quiver.
The truth was that she was very scared.
“Sorry to worry you guys. Thanks…” Sogetsu hugged her back with heartfelt gratitude.
Despite the commotion, Takasugi entered the store with ease. Kusaka and Ito were already waiting for him there
“How did it turn out?”
“Excellent. By now, the magistrate’s office should have gotten notice of our prison raid.”
“Everything you requested has been prepared. I’ve also sought assistance from the people at this store.”
“Okay, I’ve convinced the foreigner to cooperate too. Then…”
Takasugi raised his eyes to the group at the front. “―Sogetsu! Sorry to interrupt, but let’s get this operation started. Let’s save the landlady.”
The yoriki of Edo’s Minamimachi Magistrate’s Office wiped away his cold sweat in front of his prison in Kodenmacho.
Only a few days ago, he received a notice from the person who claimed to be the perpetrator of the assault on the foreigners in Fukagawa, and he, who was on duty, was dispatched to assist.
Along with a private detective, a low-ranking prison guard named Kinroku also rushed to support him.
If only that’s all… why are even the foreigners here!
He claimed he had arrived to find out what was going on and arrived with an interpreter and an escort. There was also a considerable gathering of intrigued Edo residents present, who had probably heard about the letter of warning. No matter what happens, if he doesn’t catch the culprit, he’ll lose his head.
When he shuddered, Kinroku exclaimed and pointed upwards.
Three guys materialized out of nowhere on the house’s wall, as if by sleight of hand.
“Well…! Are you guys the masterminds of the notice! Show your face!”
“We are the anti-movement breaking away from the feudal domain to eliminate the barbarians for the sake of our country. Release the fellow immediately. We were the ones who attacked the foreigners the other day, but it had no relation to the landlady of the store. Release the woman immediately. Otherwise, I will break the prison by force!”
“Go ahead and try it, you low-ranking samurai!”
As they leaped down the wall, Kinroku sprang out in front of the three of them.
Getting their feet in no time, “Wah, we should follow suit!”
Yoriki, who had finally come to his senses, led his men in a charge.
They were outnumbered. The ronin were gradually driven back to the edge of the moat, and finally, in desperation, they thrust their swords into their own stomachs.
“This is it! But even if we die, our comrades will surely carry on the cause of the expulsion of the barbarians. Don’t forget that!”
The three of them slowly sank into the moat behind them, leaving behind their final words.
Even the onlookers, who had been staring breathlessly, were stunned by the unexpected outcome.
The only one who was overjoyed was Bain.
“As expected of you, Mr. Yoriki. You have successfully killed the bad guy.”
“Oh, no, as an official, this is my duty.”
Yoriki was not pleased with the compliment, but…
“In light of this, I absolve the Shogunate of having captured a misguided person. Don’t let this happen again.”
He was at a loss for words as he was nailed down so tightly.
“Now, hurry up and let the landlady go.”
“… I wonder if the landlady will really come back.”
“Don’t worry, Ms. Eikichi. ‘The real criminal’ has committed seppuku, and the officials have no reason to hold on to the landlady any longer.”
Even though she said this, Sogetsu was fidgeting and wondering what was going on outside.
The strong western sun shone on the street, casting long shadows, but there was still no sign of the people I had been waiting for.
She closed her eyes against the flickering shimmer of the sun.
And when she opened her eyes.
Across the street, escorted by the jailer, the familiar landlady could be discerned.
Although a little worn out, she still stood tall and dignified as before.
“Oh, good, you’re released!”
“Are you all right, ma’am?”
“We were all worried about you, you know.”
The landlady was encircled by the other geishas who surged towards her.
“Thanks for your concern, guys. As you can see, I’m fine… but you guys! We’re not selling oil. We’re ready to welcome our guests. Now, get back to work!”
They all shook their shoulders and returned to their places after the landlady’s exhortation.
Everyone, however, had an uncontrolled beam on their countenance.
… Ah, this feeling.
After all, without the landlady, there would be no “Tatsumi Residence”. Feeling the warmth in her heart, Sogetsu quietly went upstairs.
She poked her head into a small room in the back, “Everyone, the landlady has returned!”
“Yes, I heard you. That’s good, we’re all relieved.”
The answer came from Takasugi, who was dexterously twirling the Hyottoko mask.
“Wasn’t my plan good?”
“Well, you say that, but I was afraid your stinkin’ act was going to get exposed.”
“But Mr. Kusaka was also very much in tune with the story, wasn’t he? The final scene of seppuku was in great form.”
Kusaka reddened when Ito mentioned this.
“Well, even if it’s a theatrical performance, a samurai committing seppuku would be remarkably effective.”
Takasugi’s plan was to disguise as a ronin, pose as a low-ranking samurai who had assaulted the foreigners, and then feign to be dead in front of the officials.
Sogetsu and Eikichi, who were waiting on the boat, discreetly fished the three out of the moat and brought them to the store.
“So, I suppose we’ll be departing right now. I’d like to meet the landlady, but the narrative is too long. We’ll return another day to make amends.”
The three individuals who get to their feet, swords in hand, are escorted to the rear door.
“Thank you, Mr. Kinroku, for your assistance as well.”
She also bowed to the prison officer who had assisted in the operation and had gone to the effort of returning the landlady to her home.
“You don’t have to thank me. If it’s a request from Master Shoin’s disciple, I can’t refuse it.”
“… Oh, don’t you know, young lady? In Choshu, there was a great teacher named Yoshida Shoin.”
Didn’t I hear of the name somewhere before?
“―Hah, Yoshida Shoin! Um? Is this the man who taught at Shōka Sonjuku?”
“Oh, you know it well. It was about two years ago. When he was thrown in jail by the authorities, I was the one who took care of him.”
“Kinroku looked after me in a variety of ways, including providing money and messages to my prison-bound teacher.” Takasugi took over the conversation from Kinroku. “In the end, the Shogunate’s men killed him outright…”
“Takasugi, that’s why we have to do our best. We must carry on his will and do our best for Japan.”
Beside Kusaka, Ito also nodded broadly.
“So, Mr. Takasugi and the others are…”
She was about to continue, “So you are a disciple of Yoshida Shoin,” when something suddenly drew her attention, and she was cut off.
While Takasugi looked quizzically at the strangely silent Sogetsu, her head was shaking faster than ever.
Wait… Yoshida Shoin, Takasugi Shinsaku… Takasugi Shinsaku. No way…
“Eh!? Mr. Takasugi, you are that Takasugi Shinsaku!?”
“Yeah, that’s me. What about it?”
“Don’t worry about it… I’m just enduring the second shock of my life.”
Incidentally, the first shock was arriving in the Edo era.
“… Well, I guess a young girl has a lot of things going on in her heart?” Ito stated some things she could comprehend and others she couldn’t, and everyone seemed to be convinced, even if they didn’t understand why.
Bidding farewell to them and watching them leave, Sogetsu sighed deeply.
I feel like I am getting to know some extraordinary people.
Thus, the Tatsumi Residence commotion came to an end.
The only thing that remained was the storm in Sogetsu’s heart――
Agency – The agency here means something like a lawyer in Edo period. I don’t think agency is the correct word though but I have no idea what’s the precise word in Edo era
Break the jade – In Japanese, it means to choose an honorable death rather than surrender/die (in battle)
Under his sleeves – He’s bribing them with money to enter
All the bolded text in dialogue is written in English by the author
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