Second Daughter, pt. xvi

Kaori does not cry when she reads the response from the governor. She also cannot bring herself to be angry at her brother. She knew it would be a gamble, big risk and big rewards. She pushes it away from her mind, focuses on the daily activities of the household. Much of that is helping her mother with the preparations for the wedding. The message had not come the way the first had, there was no armored rider carrying the banner of the province. This time it was just a humble messenger from the nearby office of records. Kaori knew of him, the record-keeper. He had grown up with Kaori’s father, the younger brother of the now-patriarch of the Sengicha family. Kaori’s father and him had talked for hours before Kaori’s father finally came to her room to deliver the letter.

“Thank you, father.”

“I am sorry your work will not be featured this time. These events have put me to wonder though, how was it that governor heard that verse of yours?”

“I imagine one of the men that were there. Perhaps big brother will know, he was much more observant at the time than I was.”

“He mentioned a man in green brocade, but also that no one there held the seal of the province anywhere on their person.”

“If I was casting suspicions, I would also have to say the man in green brocade. He seemed the only one out of place. Perhaps a courtier at the governor’s offices?”

“Perhaps…”

“Is there anything else, father?”

“I have asked for a copy of the Provincial Poem, once it is available to those who could not attend the ceremony, I wish to see in what company you would have been.”

Kaori’s fan comes out. It flutters slowly, lazily. “Is that, perhaps, why big brother saw fit to take the gamble?”

Her father sighs. “It is why I did not stop him. The company you keep as a poet, especially as a young woman and a poet, should be of almost as large a concern for you as finding a husband.”

Kaori watches her father as her fan keeps moving. He smiles gently at her. “Why don’t you come join us for tea?”

She smiles back at him, “I would not intrude upon your meeting.”

“Our business is concluded, and he is a good character for you to know.”

“If you insist, father.” Kaori rises, the pastel yellow of her clothes settling around her, long sleeves flowing across the front of her sapphire sash. She walks with her father to the sitting area, her fan tucked into her sleeve. The gentleman there is just slightly younger than her father, perhaps her mother’s age.

Kaori bows as she enters, “Good afternoon Mister Sengicha.” Her father steps forward. “Hensei, this is my daughter, Kaori.”

“It is a pleasure to meet the blossom of my good friend’s eye, you have grown quite a bit since I last saw you.”

“I must have been just a tiny sprout, certainly to young to carry the memory of the meeting.”

Hensei laughs. “She’s quick too, Kage. You’ve done well.”

Kaori’s father smiles. “Thank you old friend. Please, sit, let us all enjoy our tea together.”

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