~ : ~ : ~
This story is told from the point of view of Yukiyo Sasaki, the fanfic character of my good friend Zora. She graciously allowed me to use Yuki, and then spent a lot of her valuable time helping me not only to get the history and dialog correct for Yuki, but also for Kenshin. Her help improved this story immeasurably.
~ : ~ : ~
Yukiyo Sasaki had never quite lost the boyish mannerisms from her life as Taro, soldier for the Ishin Shishi. Dressed in a light blue yukata and black kendo pants, she came through the kitchen of the Aoiya and grabbed a piece of fruit from the shelf for her breakfast, then went out on the porch and collapsed, relaxed and crosslegged, to eat it. Not ladylike, perhaps, but comfortable. It felt good not to be traveling, and a night in a real bed had made her feel fresh again.
It had also sharpened her eyes and her wits. When she saw the flash of red up the street, what might be red hair on a not-very-tall person going around a corner, she didn't doubt herself, nor did she hesitate a moment. "Kenshin!" she swore under her breath, and leapt to her feet to follow him. She had no idea where he might be going at this early hour, but that didn't matter. She'd sworn to herself not to let him out of her sight while they were in Kyoto, and he knew it even if she hadn't said it, and here he was sneaking out!
Not only was the boy Taro recalled in some of her mannerisms, but also in racing after Kenshin, for she had not forgotten one alley or byway of Kyoto, even though she hadn't been back for many years and the city had changed since then. She ducked through the first alley to her right, the next to her left, around the bakery, and out onto the street, emerging only about ten yards behind Kenshin, who was walking without hurry. Yuki fell into step quietly behind him, just close enough so that she wouldn't lose him if he turned a corner. She followed him for ten minutes, through the busy marketplace near the Aoiya and northward, and she thought perhaps he was heading out of the city altogether, toward the mountain. She couldn't imagine why he would go this direction, but that didn't matter. She was going to watch his back, even if he didn't wish it.
He stopped abruptly, and she slid smoothly behind a gate post and made herself inconspicuous. This area was the better part of town, consisting mostly of residences, and she didn't have so many people to blend with. Had he turned when he'd stopped just then, he'd have seen her. Of course, he probably already knew she was there. She could give him an illusion of being on his own, but she doubted even her ability could hide her from Kenshin's awareness of all around him.
He was still just standing there, looking ahead. Then he turned his head and looked directly at her. She became part of the shadow, in fact shadow herself, a long-ago skill. He smiled. "You can come out now, Yuki, that you can."
As she thought. She shrugged and stepped forward with a wry smile, determined not to be put on the defensive, not when it was he who was in the wrong."Where are you going?"
"To visit an old friend. She lives down there at the end of that road."
Her curiosity was roused. "Who is she?"
"Her name is Hikaru Kimiyama."
"The potter's wife?" She could admit to herself, now, the little twinge of jealousy she'd so rigorously suppressed. Madame Kimiyama had to be nearly 50 years old.
"You know her?" He seemed pleased at the idea.
"No, I've never met her," she admitted. "But of course I've heard of her." Everyone in Kyoto knew about Toshiro Kimiyama and the wife he brought home from Edo. "But how do you know her?"
"That's a very long story, and we're almost there."
Translation: he wasn't going to tell her. "I'm going with you, Kenshin. Even here in this part of town, there could be danger. Shishio's men are everywhere."
"If you want to, then come with me," he said agreeably.
"I'm coming with or without your permission. I'll wait outside the house, if you want, but I'm coming."
"You don't need to wait outside. I'm sure Madame Kimiyama will welcome you, that she will." He smiled. Then he was striding off again, and she had to hurry to catch up.
"Is Madame Kimiyama one of the people you asked Okina to find for you?"
"She wasn't on the list, but I did ask him if he knew her. He said pretty much the same thing you did, but he was also able to tell me that she is a widow now. That is a great sorrow. Toshiro Kimiyama was a very good man. However, Hikaru-san still lives in Kyoto and in the same house by the shop."
"How do you know her so well, a woman like that?"
"It does seem funny, doesn't it?"
"Very," she said drily. She would just have to wait until he was willing to tell her. "That's it right ahead, isn't it? The green gate with the arch over it." She realized that she'd come a step ahead of him, and turned.
His steps had slowed, and when she turned, he stopped altogether.
"Kenshin? What's wrong?"
He rubbed the back of his head, looking sheepish. "I'm not sure she's going to be glad to see me. I left without saying goodbye, you see, a long time ago. She might be angry with me, that she might."
That was almost what he'd done to her, eight long years ago. The only difference was that he had said goodbye – but he'd done it in a letter, left for her to receive when he was hours gone. "Do you make a habit of just leaving people like that?"
"Only when I think I have to," he said nervously.
"I'm beginning to understand. You did it for her own good, then?"
"Actually, I wish I could say yes to that."
He looked at the ground for a long moment, then back up at her. "You will understand when you meet her, I think. But after the Revolution, I didn't want to face her. Not as I was. She would have been ashamed of me. No," he amended. "Not that. But she would have made me even more ashamed of myself, because she would have forgiven me. And pitied me."
"And that would have been the worst of all."
He nodded. "I don't really remember my mother, you know that. When I think of having a mother, I think of Hikaru-san. When I was with my Master, she loved me as if I were her son. I couldn't bring myself to come to her with so much blood on my hands."
This, Yuki understood completely. But she was shocked that he had never once even mentioned Madame Kimiyama to her. In all the time they'd shared, as close as they had been, as much and as intimately as they had talked, he had never told her that there was a woman in Kyoto so important to his life. He knew everything about her, all of her secrets. She'd always assumed she knew all of his. He'd shared many which were terrible, yet not this one, which seemed wonderful. After a speechless second, she said, "Why haven't you ever talked about her before? You've never even said her name to me."
"That's why I'm telling you now, before it's too hard to do. I wouldn't come here at all, that I wouldn't, except that if she learned I'm in Kyoto and didn't come to see her..." He shrugged expressively.
"Come on, what's the worst she can do to you? Get really angry and throw you out? That's not so bad."
"Oh, no. That's not nearly the worst." He looked thoroughly miserable. "I hope she is angry with me, and shouts and hits me with something, like Miss Kaoru would, that I do. But most likely she will cry, and I have never seen her do that."
Yuki wouldn't blame the woman if she did cry. She rarely cried, herself, but she'd gotten teary-eyed when she saw Kenshin again after all the years of separation, so she would understand it. Still, she didn't want to be a third person in so uncomfortable a scene. "I hope she shouts."
"I have never heard her raise her voice."
"Maybe she will this time. You deserve it, you know. Didn't you even write to her, to tell her you were alive?"
He shook his head. "I believed she would be happier, eventually, if she thought I was dead. She's a gentle woman, Yuki. She never understood the sword or the reason for the Hiten Mitsurugi. And I never thought I would come back to Kyoto. Did you think you would?"
"No. Never." She took his arm. "Come on. You have to do this. You owe it to her."
This, it seemed, was the right thing to say. He straightened. "That I do," he said, and walked on.
At this early hour there were no customers in the pottery shop, but workers were already inside, dusting and readying the shop for business. A young man came forward at once to help them, but warily, with one eye on Kenshin's sword. When Kenshin asked for Madame Kimiyama and gave his name, the man's attitude changed from wary to frosty. He turned to another clerk and said, "Get Bunto." Then he turned back to Kenshin and said, "Himura, huh? Well, at least you remembered the red hair."
"What, do you think you're the first Kenshin Himura to be wandering in here, hoping to take advantage of our lady?"
The back door of the shop opened and a man came through, a man who made Yuki wish she'd had time to bring her own sword. He wasn't much taller than Kenshin, but was all muscle and sinew, with his right arm missing below the elbow and a patch over his left eye. His visage, scarred by the cut which had cost him the eye, was ferocious even in repose, but now, with anger in it, it was scary. Then he saw Kenshin, and his entire bearing changed. He grinned hugely. "Little Himura! You have grown!"
"Hello, Bunto," Kenshin said with a polite bow. "It's been a long time since I used to sneak down to talk with you, that it has. This is a friend of mine, Yukiyo Sasaki."
They exchanged bows, and Bunto assured her, "Any friend of Himura's is welcome in this house. Come, I'll take you to the lady."
The clerk was staring at them, mouth agape. "It's the real Himura?"
"Of course it is. Get back to work," Bunto snapped, and the clerks, who had all been staring with unabashed curiosity, immediately turned away and pretended to be busy. But Yuki could feel their eyes on them all the way out of the shop, and her shoulderblades shuddered, although there was nothing threatening in a bunch of pottery sellers.
Almost as if reading her mind, Kenshin said ruefully, "I suppose there will be gossip now."
"Not from them," Bunto growled. "I'll see to that. They're loyal to the lady." He led them through the back of the shop, to a long hallway. On either side, doors were slid open to reveal workrooms and shelves of stored pottery, where artisans glanced at them only in brief curiosity before returning at once to their craft.
Kenshin said, "What did they mean, when they spoke of other Himuras, Bunto?"
Bunto glanced at him, then stopped, rubbing his flat nose with one finger. Words obviously came hard to him. "When you disappeared, after all the fighting was over, the lady tried to find you. Word got out that a wealthy woman was looking for you because she was fond of you. Naturally there were vultures who wanted to take advantage of her, especially when years went by and no one heard from you and everyone thought you were dead. After the first one upset her so badly, I have taken care of the rest before they ever reached her eyes." He opened the door at the end of the hallway and ushered them outside.
Yuki had heard of the Kimiyama gardens, but even so, after the clean, brisk efficiency of the shop and workrooms, the luxuriant beauty on the other side of the door was a shock. They stepped from the porch onto a walk flagged with small flat stones in a variety of pastel colors, which led between two beds of brilliant pink azaleas to a stone bench beside a waterfall, trickling into a clear pool in which floated a single lily, all set in artistically arranged, balanced stones covered with bright green moss. Beyond was a vista of paths, bridges and ponds, half-hidden by stands of bamboo and flowering trees. From somewhere out there came the sound of a woman's voice raised in a song of praise for the gifts of Buddha. Her voice was very clear and obviously well-trained, yet full of joy. The song made Yuki want to raise her own voice in harmony.
Quite unnecessarily, Bunto informed them "the lady" was in the gardens. "But come with me to the house to wait for her. I think it would be best if I told her you were here. She finally convinced herself that you were dead. In fact," with a wave of his stump toward the gardens, "there's an altar out there for your spirit. I think I should break this to her gently."
Poor Kenshin looked as if he wished he were dead.
The house, in its own way, was as lovely as the gardens. Although there was nothing obviously rich or ostentatious about it, and it was sparingly furnished, everything was of the best quality, from the rice paper in the wall frames to the soft tatami on the floor. The cabinets were lacquered and painted with traditional motifs, and while the two kotatsu tables were plain, the wood was polished so highly that the grain seemed alive. Exquisite vases held flower arrangements, and the flowers and silk-covered pillows added bright warm color to the room. On one of the tables was a wide, shallow bowl of paper-thin porcelain in which lotus blossoms floated on a bed of water. Yuki felt out of place in this room, even a little shabby and dirty. She stared hard at a vase of unusual, twisted shape, the bends traced with pine boughs, to avoid looking at her dusty feet when they slipped off their zori at the door.
A woman came at once, but Bunto waved her away, saying, "The lady will serve them herself." This brought a deep and reverent bow from the woman as she backed out of the room. Bunto said, "Please make yourself at home. The lady will be with you shortly."
"Right, make ourselves at home," Yuki muttered under her breath as soon as the man was gone.
Kenshin grinned at her. "It is very pretty, isn't it? I never noticed, when I was a boy. And I begin to understand some things now."
"About my Master."
His Master? What did Seijuro Hiko have to do with it? But before she could ask, they heard the sound of light, running feet outside. The sound stopped abruptly, and after a moment the door was pulled open and a woman came in, speaking cheerfully in a rich clear voice. "I hear I have company," she said with a smile at both of them. Then her gaze locked on Kenshin and the brittle, false lightness fell away. "Kenshin," she said, and her lower lip trembled and disappeared between her teeth. Yuki realized that the brightness of her eyes was due to unshed tears. Oh, no. He's right. She's going to cry.
Kenshin looked as if he'd rather face Shishio and Soujiro together, barehanded, than to be here at this moment. He took refuge in a deep bow. "Hikaru-san."
She took a step toward him. "You're alive. And you're here, you're really here. It really is you." She put out a hand to touch his face, the unscarred side. As if that touch convinced her he was real, she suddenly sobbed and put her arms around him. The movement was oddly awkward, as if she'd never hugged him before, but once started, she hugged him as if she'd never let him go, her face buried in his neck. He held her and patted her back and looked at Yuki with an expression that said clearly, See? I told you this was going to be bad!
Yuki felt sorry for him, but at the same time she watched it all with intense curiosity. How in the world had Kenshin come to mean so much to this grand lady? Because she was a grand lady. Not just her reputation told Yuki that. Nor did her clothes, which were a plain purple kimono with a simple obi over black kendo pants, her head topped with a wide-brimmed straw hat, now knocked askew. The house said it, of course, but it was mostly in the way she stood, the well-kept hands, the straight-backed supple grace with which she finally released Kenshin and dried her eyes, and most of all the dignity that she was trying so hard to regain.
"Kenshin, where have you been?" she asked him.
He smiled at her. "That would be a long story."
She put her hands to her temples. "What am I doing? I'm forgetting my manners. Who is this young lady?"
"Yukiyo Sasaki, a friend of mine."
She and Yuki bowed to each other, perfectly and formally correct. "You are most welcome here, Yukiyo Sasaki. Please forgive my discourtesy."
"I understand. Your servant told us you thought Kenshin was dead, so it must be a shock to see him again."
"It is, but," she drew a shaky breath and glanced again at Kenshin, "a most welcome one. Please, Miss Yukiyo, will you not sit and be comfortable? My home is yours. If you will excuse me for a moment, I will fetch tea."
Just like that, she disappeared. Yuki sank down next to Kenshin and whispered, "I think she's gone to cry some more."
"That she may," he admitted ruefully. "We should pretend not to notice."
"Yes. And I see what you meant before. If she were my foster mother, I wouldn't have come to her after the Revolution, either."
"Still, I think I made her very unhappy, that I did."
He looked so unhappy himself that she squeezed his hand and said, "You made her happy again today. The worst part's over now."
He leaned his forehead against hers and sighed. "True."
"Kenshin? How did you ever meet her in the first place?"
He sat up and smiled at her ruefully. "I knew you were going to ask."
"Naturally. I know what you were before the Revolution, and it wasn't someone who would cross the path of a lady like this."
"She is an old friend of my Master's."
That explained it. But it led to another question. "But what does she have to do with Seijuro Hiko? How did they ever become friends?"
"I don't really know," he said, as if just now realizing how strange it was that he was in ignorance on the subject. "Neither of them ever told me. And I was just a boy, so I didn't think to ask."
Ten minutes passed before Madame Kimiyama returned, ushering in three women carrying trays. She brought not only tea but wine and sake as well, and tiny porcelain bowls of seasoned rice, and a tray of sweets like none Yuki had ever seen. She had changed her clothes; she still wore the kendo pants, but the plain purple kimono had been replaced by a black one with golden birds embroidered on cuffs and hems, and the straw hat was gone, her hair now dressed with ivory combs. She also had regained her self-possession, chatting pleasantly to both of them on neutral subjects while the women laid out the refreshments. Yuki noticed that the lady's eyes were still reddened, and she pitied her, so she exerted herself to help Madame Kimiyama pretend, at least for a short time, that this was just a normal social call. The lady's own manners made this easy. Even Kenshin's offer of condolences for the loss of her husband was accepted gracefully, with exactly the right blend of regret, sorrow, and gratitude to Kenshin for his sympathy.
Then Yuki noticed something else that altered her feelings completely. She wasn't sure what first caught her attention. Maybe that very correct bow, earlier, exactly the proper bow from an older woman to a younger, and now, reinforcing the impression, some little trick of movement. Whatever it was, suddenly alerted, she looked closer and saw that part of the reason Madame Kimiyama looked half her age was that her face was subtly painted. There was nothing to hide, for she was a lovely woman, but what was good in her features and complexion had been enhanced with great skill. Senses tingling, Yuki watched even more closely, seeing the signs now in everything Madame Kimiyama did, from the dulcet lowering of her eyes as she spoke with Kenshin to the graceful, ritualistic little gestures as she poured the tea for all of them. And, of course, there was that singing voice, trained just as her own had been.
It was impossible. But she couldn't be mistaken. She herself had been trained in an okiya, and she knew the signs. This lady, the respectable wife of the widely loved and respected Toshiro Kimiyama, had once been a geisha.
She felt herself growing cold as the unwelcome knowledge pushed its way past her incredulity. She began to tense, beginning with her legs and moving up her body until her teeth were actually clenched. Of all things in life, one of her greatest fears was being recognized as the girl who had run away from her okiya. She could tell herself with all the logic in the world that this woman was too old to have been anywhere around when she had been enslaved there, and that, supposedly, she had come from Edo anyway, so there was no way she could recognize her. None of this mattered. For every argument like that, there was a corresponding fear that she would do something that would give her away as surely as Madame Kimiyama was now giving herself away.
The tension grew too great to bear, and she shuddered. Madame Kimiyama was at once solicitous. "Are you cold? I can shut the door."
"No. I'm fine," she said gruffly, and applied herself diligently to a delicate sweet made of almond paste that she swallowed without tasting.
Her free hand was fisted in her lap, illogically wishing for her sword. Kenshin covered it with one of his, and when she glanced up and met his eyes, he smiled and gave her a slight shake of the head, as if to say, It's all right. Trust me.
If she hadn't trusted him, she would have already run out the door. Kenshin knew her past. He must know Madame Kimiyama's as well, or he wouldn't so obviously understand why she was tense now. She had to believe in him. He wouldn't bring her into danger. He simply wouldn't.
If Madame Kimiyama noticed any of this, she gave no sign, but dismissed the servants and continued serving. Although she was unfailingly courteous, it was obvious her real attention was on Kenshin and not this strange young woman in her home, and Yuki took some hope from that, shrunk into herself, and assured them by both words and actions that she knew they had some catching up to do and that she wouldn't mind at all being left out of most of the conversation for a while. If Madame Kimiyama's manners betrayed her background, so, too, might Yuki's. She wanted to be invisible.
Whether deliberately or not, Kenshin aided her by answering Madame Kimiyama's question about where he'd been for the past ten years. Being Kenshin, however, he simply said he'd been wandering, and the conversation turned, both because of Kenshin's own reticence and the lady's courtesy, to Tokyo and Kenshin's new life there.
But Madame Kimiyama was not totally distracted. "You still carry a sword," she observed dispassionately.
He wasn't fooled by her tone. "It's a reverse blade sword. It can harm no one."
"Then why carry it?"
"I sometimes find it useful."
"For what? Chopping wood?"
This was said tartly, and seemed only to amuse Kenshin, for he laughed. But Yuki looked up and said, "It's for self-defense and protecting others. There are always men who want to carve a reputation out of Kenshin's hide so they can go around saying that they killed 'the Battousai'. They don't care that 'the Battousai' they're after died with the Revolution."
She regretted speaking at once, but the look she got from Madame Kimiyama had nothing but approval in it. She liked it, apparently, that someone defended Kenshin. "I see. Yes. I think I understand." She gave Kenshin a look of deep sadness. "Does it ever stop?"
"Sometimes it does," he said cheerfully. "You must not be worried for me."
"If I were Seijuro, I would tell you bluntly what I thought of such a silly statement, but I'm not, so I will simply say that having you here, and alive, to worry about – that is a good thing." She tilted her head. "Are you going to see him?" she asked quietly.
"That is one reason I am in Kyoto. I want to complete my training, if I can, and learn the last secret of the Hiten Mitsurugi style."
Madame Kimiyama sat back and stared at him. "You won't get a warm reception."
"I don't expect it. Is he still disappointed with me?"
The lady laughed, an unexpectedly merry sound. "Disappointed? Seijuro? You know how he can hold a grudge. He's still furious with you!"
"After 15 years?"
"He's still angry with me about something I said to him the day we met, and that was more than 25 years ago," she smiled. "But – why now? Why do you want to finish your training, after so long?" Kenshin didn't answer, and Madame Kimiyama, whose mind was very quick, set down her teacup and narrowed her eyes at him. "Does this have anything to do with Shishio Makoto?" she demanded. "Kenshin? Does it?"
"Why do you think that?" Kenshin hedged.
"Because everyone in Kyoto knows that man measures himself against no one but the man you once were. Tell me you don't plan to fight him!"
But Kenshin was not going to lie to her. "I must."
"Because no one else can, and he must be stopped, that he must."
"There's the police, the army..."
"He has defeated both of those forces, easily."
"Kenshin! He won't just fight a duel with you! It won't be that easy! He's surrounded by warriors. You'll have to fight all of them, not just a clean, one-on-one battle with him!"
"If that's what I must do, then I will."
Yuki said, "He isn't alone."
"No," Kenshin said with a smile at her. "I have friends. And I hope Master will help me, if in no other way, then in teaching me the final technique of the Hiten Mitsurugi style. If I can learn that, I have a very good chance of defeating Shishio, even with his warriors between us."
There was a long silence. Then Madame Kimiyama drew in a deep breath. "This is not right. You've already done enough fighting."
"No, but it is something I must do, nevertheless."
"There's nothing I can do to help you! I can't even help you with Seijuro. We have never agreed when it came to you. Anything I say will simply stiffen him even further against you."
"I will find some way to convince him that he is still my Master," Kenshin said, although he didn't exactly sound sure of himself.
She refilled his tea cup, and then Yuki's and her own, while she tried to bring herself to accept what he was saying. "Do you know he is still in the same cottage?"
"Yes, I found that out. But he changed his name, I heard. And took up pottery?"
"I taught him."
Yuki looked up again. The man who had taught Kenshin everything he knew about the sword had become a potter?
Kenshin was grinning. "So Seijuro Hiko was the apprentice?"
She laughed with him. "Not for long. You know Seijuro. He picked up the techniques almost faster than I could teach them. But the concept that it's also an art... that, he found harder. By the time he finally grasped it, we were barely on speaking terms. Now we market some of his work, and he does the rest himself. I must admit, even after all these years, and as much as I hate the reason for it, it will seem much more natural up there with you two sparring."
"I'm not looking forward to it."
"You survived it as a child. And you are no longer a child. Are you?"
"No, that I am not."
Suddenly, as if she couldn't help herself, she said, "Don't do this. Please. Go back into hiding. Live your life. Don't fight Shishio. You don't know what he's become. He's a monster."
"Hikaru-san," he chided, gently but firmly. "I know more than you think. But Shishio must be stopped, and it seems I am the only one who can do it."
"It's not fair," she said in a small voice. Then she regained her self-control yet again. "I suppose if Seijuro couldn't talk you out of something you set your mind on when you were still a boy, I have no chance at all now that you're a man. If there is anything I can do for you, anything at all, even the smallest thing, you know you have only to ask."
"Do you have a place to stay?" she asked, including both of them in the question. "There is plenty of room here."
"Thank you, that's kind of you. But we are staying at the Aoiya."
She nodded. "With the Oniwaban group. I suppose that's wise."
"Yes. Shishio wouldn't hesitate to strike at me through the people I care about. I won't put you in danger."
The tiniest of frowns creased her brow, and she looked at Yuki. "But Miss Yukiyo...?"
"I can take care of myself," Yuki said. "And I'll have the Oniwaban to protect me." If it should come down to fighting, she actually expected to be of more help to the Oniwaban than the other way around, but that was something she wasn't going to mention. Hiding her past was second nature to her now.
They spent another hour with Madame Kimiyama, long enough to include a tour of the gardens, which was, for Yuki, the only really comfortable and enjoyable part of the visit. When they were taking their leave, Madame Kimiyama asked Kenshin, "You'll send me word how things go with Seijuro? If he takes you back, he won't want me visiting."
Kenshin smiled. "He never did, that he didn't. But you came anyway."
She remained sober. "I won't now. This time it's different. Isn't it?"
"Yes, Hikaru-san. Many changes have taken place, and there will be more changes to come. But," the smile returned, "when everything is finished, maybe you and I and Master can sit and drink sake together again, the three of us, as we used to do."
"If it's as we used to do, you will be drinking tea, not sake!"
Kenshin laughed with her. "I see Master hasn't changed."
"Not one bit. Dare we invite Miss Yukiyo to join us as well?" she asked with a sparkling, sidelong glance at Yuki.
Kenshin rubbed the back of his head. "That depends."
"You don't have to tell me what it depends on." The time had come to say goodbye, and the fear, never far from Madame Kimiyama's eyes, returned again. "You will be careful?"
"That I will." It was a promise.
She turned to Yuki. "You'll come again? You will be welcome, any time."
Yuki bowed and thanked her. She wasn't sure what to say. There was too much she didn't know, too much that passed between Kenshin and this lady which was from their past and she didn't understand. She couldn't tell yet how much of Madame Kimiyama's courtesy was sincere and how much was simply good manners. She didn't trust the lady.
Back to main page