Second Daughter, pt. vi

Kaori sits with her mother across the table. The two of them are enjoying a cup of tea after dinner, while Kaori’s father and brother discuss “business”.

“Are you enjoying the tea, Kaori?”

“Yes, Mama. The faint hint of lemongrass almost sweetens the chamomile, but still manages to shine through the mint.”

“I’m glad. Your Aunt Chochin sent this blend to us. Did you know she was married at your age?”

Kaori puts the cup down on the table; sensing an imminent story, she grabs her flute and prepares to play while her mother finishes her tea. It is a habit her mother has encouraged: that all good stories should be set to music. Kaori excels at musical improvisation now.

“Your Aunt, much like you, had never shown much interest in being married. She lounged around the House, perfecting the things that all good girls should know. In specific, your Aunt adored tea, and our mother would take us down to the herb vendor every week in order to acquire new herbs for your aunt to make tea from.” A quick, busy burst of notes for the town.

“I will admit, your Aunt was not always good, and several of her concoctions were nearly poisonous; her lack of real enthusiasm in anything except tea made it difficult for mother to find her a suitable husband. Aunt Chochin never went out with other girls like I did, never attending the festivals or the courts except when required to by mother or father. Her focus also made many men uncomfortable, preferring as they do the demure nature of other girls.” A more quiet, meandering melody for the home and thoughtful reflection.

“In time, without recourse, your Grandmother went to a matchmaker, and the two conversed over tea about her daughter. The Matchmaker told your Grandmother that she would do what she could in order to find her a husband, but that the prospect did not look promising. The spirits had other plans for your Aunt, though. Later that day, the owner of several tea plantations went to the same Matchmaker.” The song picks up in pace as the telling gets more excited.

“He told her that his family was pressuring him for an heir, that his previous wife had died of illness before bearing children, and that he was looking for a new wife to share his lonely plantations with. He loved all his land very much however, and so he would need a wife that could tend to herself while he sought to make tea fit for the Emperor. The Matchmaker smiled at him, and told him she had just the woman in mind.” The ending implied, the song finishes out, higher pitched, lively and peaceful. Kaori holds the last note.

“And now, Chochin helps her husband, and several of her teas have been featured at the Imperial Court, have they not, Mother?”

“Indeed. In this world, there is always someone the spirits want for you. And it may take time to find them, but never lose hope that love can spring from the most unlikely of places.”

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