Kaori browses through the clothing shop with a sharper eye than previous. Knowing the garment is for her, that her mother is letting her choose it for herself, whets Kaori’s appetite to be involved. She gravitates towards several of the more expensive fabrics near the back, and looks at them longingly. She knows that her mother would not allow them; several are too bright and garish, something for courtesans to wear. Other fabrics have rather suggestive patterns on them. Eventually she meanders towards the middle of the store, closer to the plain, subdued silks.
“What of this one Kaori?” Her mother holds an amethyst-purple carefully brocaded— no, embroidered fabric. Kaori’s mouth drops, her dark eyes widening. Even still, Kaori admires the peach blossoms on it, carefully concealing the character for long-life amongst the weave’s imperfections. She closes the fan which had hidden her shock.
“It would be beautiful, Mother, if it had but cherry blossoms on it instead, in honor of Father.” Her usually clear voice shakes.
“You’re right, daughter.” Her mother turns to the shopkeeper. “Do you have this fabric without embroidery?”
The shopkeep considers a moment, “I have a brocade piece that is similar, madame.” He comes from behind Kaori and walks to the front, stopping two-thirds of the way. He brings back to the women a bolt that is as described, but lighter colored. “It is local work, or close to it, from the next prefecture over. Very fine quality, and not very expensive since it has not come far, it would make good clothing for her.” Kaori and her mother look disappointedly at each other.
“We’ll keep looking, thank you.,” she bows politely and leaves the shopkeep holding the bolt of cloth. Kaori wanders again towards the back of the store. She was buoyed by how much her mother was apparently willing to spend on her, and reconsiders several pieces that she had passed over. Here a lovely emerald silk brocaded in an abstract color, much like the man from outside had been wearing. There is a lovely pink, this one embroidered with a scene of a red bridge over a stream. She turns to bring her mother to see it, and there, hidden among bolts where she almost misses it, is an all-but depleted bolt of rich amethyst silk.
Kaori calls out, “Mother! Look!” and points with her fan. The shopkeep comes over quickly, eyes wide. He frowns at the scrap, partially hidden amongst full bolts, his pale skin creasing deeply. He points back towards the pink she had handled earlier. “That one is much better; look, these are tiny scraps, certainly not enough to clothe your daughter with. And the fabric is poor, it is blank, uneventful, surely you would rather a great work of weaving rather than something so plain?”
Kaori addresses the shopkeep directly. “This is the color we want, and it is blank like canvas. Should not our clothing reflect the greatness of our own character rather than eclipse it?” Her fan opens, quickly fans her face and hides it as she glares at him, a single lock of her mahogany hair flutters in the fanning. Her eyes lock on his chest; ready to fan away the man’s argument.
The shopkeep turns to her mother, exasperated he gestures one-handed to her daughter. Before he could speak Kaori mother’s fan was out, fanning from her bosom, a shield over the fruit of her labor; she cuts him off. “My daughter is right. You may hold what you have of the plain amethyst, as well as a yard of the emerald brocade in the back for the Inaba household.” She bowed while closing the fan as Kaori followed suit, her brother detaching from a corner, and the three leave.