Title Thumbnail

Daughters of Nijo

A Romance of Japan

301 pages
Library of Alexandria
IN the early part of the year of the Restoration there lived within the Province of Echizen a young farmer named Yamada Kwacho. Although he belonged only to the agricultural class, he was known and honored throughout the entire province, for at one time he had saved the life of the Daimio of the province, the powerful Lord of Echizen, premier to the shogunate. In spite of the favor of the Daimio of the province, Yamada Kwacho made no effort to rise above the class to which he had been born. Satisfied with his estate, he was proud of his simple and honest calling. So the Lord of Echizen, having no opportunity of repaying the young farmer for his service, contented himself perforce with a promise that if at any time Yamada Kwacho should require his aid, he would not fail him. Kwacho, therefore, lived happily in the knowledge of his prince’s favor; and since he possessed an excellent little farm which yielded him a comfortable living, he had few cares. He had reached the age of twenty-five years before he began to cast about him for a wife. Because of his renown in the province, Kwacho might have chosen a maiden of much higher rank than his own; but, being of a sensible mind and nature, he sought a bride within his own class. He found her in the person of little Ohano, the daughter of a neighboring farmer. She was as plump, rosy, and pretty as is possible for a Japanese maiden. Moreover, she was docile and gentle by temperament, and had all the admirable domestic virtues attractive to the eye of a youth of the character of Yamada Kwacho. Though their courtship was brief, their wedding was splendid, for the Prince of Echizen himself bestowed upon them gifts with all good wishes and congratulations. Life seemed to bear a more joyous aspect to Kwacho. He went about his work whistling and singing. All his field-hands and coolies knew him for the kindest of masters. The young couple had not been married a month, when a great prince, a member of the reigning house, visited the Lord of Echizen in his province. Report had it that this royal prince was in reality an emissary from the Emperor, for at this time the country was torn with the dissensions of Imperialist and Bakufu. It was well known that the Daimio of Echizen owed his office of shogunate premier to the Mikado himself, and that he was secretly in sympathy with the Imperialists. Consequently there were great banquets and entertainments given in the Province of Echizen when a prince of the royal family condescended to visit the Mikado’s vassal, the Daimio of Echizen. The whole province wore a gala aspect, and the streets of the principal cities were constantly enlivened by the passing parades and cortèges of the retainers of the visiting prince. Owing to the presence of his august guest, the Lord of Echizen was obliged to send a courier to Yedo with proper apologies for not presenting himself before the Shogun at this time. He showed his confidence in Kwacho by bestowing upon him the honor of this important mission. The young farmer, while naturally loath to leave his young bride of a month, yet, mindful of the great honor, started at once for the Shogun’s capital. Thus Ohano was left at home alone. Being but fifteen years old, she was fond of gayety, of music and dancing, and it was her dearest wish to visit the capital city of the province, that she might see the gorgeous parade of the nobles. With her husband gone, however, she was forced to deny herself this pleasure, and had to remain at home in seclusion under the charge of an elderly but foolish maid. Ohano became lonely and restless. She wearied of sitting in the house, thinking of Kwacho; and it was tiresome, too, to wander about the farm fields and watch the coolies and laborers.