by Lady Carlton née Katie O’Roarke, heroine of “The Blonde Samurai”
I was taking tea, that green foamy brew so favored by the natives, with the beautiful young geisha Simouyé whom I met in the pleasure quarters of Yoshiwara, when she told me about her barbarian.
In her own indirect way, of course.
Taller than most geisha with a long, elegant neck like a heron, she told me how she found great pleasure in viewing the cherry blossom on the bough.
How it fluttered in the wind but never let go, how strong it was and how its pink petals were smooth and perfect.
Like a geisha’s skin, she said.
She strove to be as perfect as the cherry blossom. Never wavering, always strong, forever beautiful in the eyes of the beholder.
But she feared she would fail in her quest. Sent back to her poor village to starve or forced to become a courtesan within the green houses of Yoshiwara.
Why? I asked her.
Because she had fallen in love.
She had sworn never to fall in love…but all that changed when she met him. A man with broad shoulders and unfailing strength.
A man she could never have.
For he was gaijin. A foreigner.
They called him a barbarian.
A word that made me smile, for I knew the gentleman of whom she spoke. A gentleman whose presence had delighted my own feminine eye before I met my samurai.
Mr. Edward Mallory.
I described him in The Blonde Samurai as “Tall, broad chest, good solid features, his face clean shaven without the abundant whiskers favored by so many westerners. He looked so gallant, like a gentleman strolling in Regent’s Park…The late-afternoon shadow cut deep angles into his face, giving him a strong, intelligent look.”
If you have read my memoir, you know that Mr. Mallory played an important role in my story; but should you have not read my book, I shall not give it away.
A geisha must dedicate her life to her art, Simouyé told me, and not to the desires of her heart.
Bending, aching, thrashing about, she yearned to give in to temptation until she saw a lone cherry blossom clinging to the bough of a branch, refusing to let go as the merciless wind tried to shake it free. That gave her strength.
And so like the cherry blossom that blooms then fades, she let him go…
I have since received a song from Simouyé written in her grand calligraphy on fine rice paper that leads me to believe that her gaijin has found his way into her futon.
Is it true? I do not know, but I pray ’tis so.
I shall end this post with her song and you shall be the judge.
“The Last Cherry Blossom”
“I am like the last cherry blossom clinging to the bough, afraid to ride on the wind, her petals scattered, lost.
“I am like a fair maiden who sighs from behind latticed shutters when she sees her lover pass by, but does not call out to him.
“However impatiently I long for your touch, I must wait. For only when I see the last cherry blossom let go of her fears and catch a ride on the wind will I, too, find the courage to defy the gods that rule my fate. Then I shall meet you in the garden of the Teahouse of the Look-Back Tree.
“Today is that day, my love.”
The Blonde Samurai
“She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”