When Lady Carlton–Katie–wrote her memoir, The Blonde Samurai, she inscribed it in first person. But for her own pleasure, she was curious about what Shintaro thought about her, a Western woman who had come to Japan as a virgin bride in 1873.
She decided to find out.
By asking him.
During the late afternoons when a titillating breeze cooled the day and the passing of time stopped for the drinking of tea, Katie and Shintaro sat under the flowering cherry blossoms and warmed their hands around tiny tea cups and talked about their first encounter at the Imperial Palace.
What follows next is the third of three episodes of “Tea with My Samurai,” depicting this scene that appears in Katie’s memoir but instead told from Shintaro’s point of view as he related it to her during their teatime conversations.
Lord Shintaro speaks of the first time he saw Katie outside the emperor’s Imperial Palace in Tokyo (spelled Tokio at that time).
(Katie’s POV of the same scene appears in “The Blonde Samurai” on pages 154-156.)
Then another performer entered this outdoor Kabuki play, undoing the samurai’s fun with the beautiful female.
A portly Englishman.
Wiping his forehead with a tissue and panting as he struggled to catch up to the woman.
Legs spread apart, Shintaro stood watching the man make the long walk up to the gate, bowing and calling out in the language native to the samurai. The man was a go-between, he decided, acknowledging the intruder’s language fluency when he did his best at introductions.
Shintaro grunted again, then barely nodded. He had no doubt the woman understood his lack of a low bow indicated his superior status to her. Tapping his fingers on his scabbard, he waited to see what she would do next.
To his surprise, she mimicked his gesture then turned her back on him.
By the gods, she was insane.
His left hand went to his short sword stuffed into his sash belt. He squeezed the handle tight. Had they encountered each other on a country road, he had no doubt he would have carried her off and seduced her into his futon. Stroked her pale flesh with loving caresses and licked her full breasts before biting on her hard nipples and arousing her until she begged him to fuck her.
Protocol prohibited him from doing so at the gate of Imperial Palace.
Eyes flashing, he barely controlled his rage. He could not understand this particular madness that made the woman defy him so openly. She must be taught a lesson. Here. Now.
Without another thought, he grabbed onto the long train of her dress and pulled on its velvet folds, the nearness of her tempting him to rip it off her and run his hands up and down her nude body.
To his delight, she stopped short and lunged backward, nearly losing her balance.
Would the gods deliver her into his arms? he wondered.
A seedless cloud passed overhead, casting a shadow over the scene, as if the deities ignored his primal need. Instead the Englishwoman regained her balance, but not before dropping her parasol. It clattered down on the hard ground behind her. She ignored it. Instead she turned and glared at him, but he wouldn’t let go of her dress. Laughing, he pulled on it hard, so hard she couldn’t move.
“Release me at once,” she yelled, hands on her hips, then she said words in English he didn’t understand, though he imagined they were of a defamatory nature since the go-between, fanning himself with his hat, apologized many times over for her.
Shintaro grinned wide at her, enjoying watching her helpless. For a moment, he forgot he was samurai and she was gaijin. Foreigner. That he was most likely under surveillance by his enemies at court. Men who would see him ruined.
They were two people caught in a game of attraction that sparked a passion in him. In her, too. He could see it in her eyes, defiant yet curious. His mood changed. Such a game was dangerous. Both to him and to her. For reasons he didn’t understand, he cared about what happened to her.
Reluctantly, he let her go. Lips parted, she looked back at him, questioning, then, with a quick movement, she picked up her parasol and raced toward the pavilion with the Englishman close behind her.
Shintaro remained still for many minutes, his hand still on his sword. The moment between them had passed, but not the feelings she had aroused in him. Hot, tempestuous. She was a firebrand. Yet he knew the gods would not look kindly upon him if he dared to meet her again.
He gritted his teeth. Never again would he allow himself to get close to her. But it was already too late.
That moment at the palace gate he knew his fate.
Shintaro burst out laughing as only a condemned man could when he knew his time had come, for he was condemned never to forget her.