Maria Sama Ga Miteru:Volume12 Chapter3
Midsummer Greetings with a Pressed Leaf
We'll be arriving shortly. Hearing Sachiko-sama's voice, Yumi looked around, and found the scene outside the window had changed completely since some time ago. She had been asleep again, she realized.
The watch read almost 10am. If everything goes well, it's said to not take two hours, but with the summer season and the break included, a bit under four hours could be considered okay.
Slender and tall trees with unknown names proliferated on both sides of the road, blocking the mid-summer sun. The trees were not very dense. Shadows from branches and leaves form a natural ceiling, and lace-like shadows dropped on the road.
Stone steps surrounded by trees. Old stone fences covered by moss. The scenes were exact copies of scenic photos on a travel guidebook.
A group of young ladies were taking one another's pictures in the lush green. Couples were taking a stroll holding hands. Here and there tourist-like groups could be found.
"This area has been a summer resort since way in the past."
Sachiko-sama squinted her eyes in pride. From that expression, it was a Sachiko that had taken quite a liking to the surroundings. Well, Sachiko-sama is extremely picky, and Yumi had heard that she visits this place every year, so she must be considerably fond of this place. How lucky I am to be invited to such a place! Yumi delightfully thought.
This here is Onee-sama's favorite world.
During the one week stay, even if only by one thing more, Yumi desired to connect with the things that Onee-sama fancies. They are things related to knowing about Onee-sama, after all.
Having likely rested without any reservations due to Yumi having already fallen asleep, after yawning a bit, Sachiko-sama folded up the lap blanket.
"You can be sound asleep even without the car-sickness medicine. I didn't need to worry at all."
Sachiko-sama had given a somewhat awkward expression when Yumi refused her car-sickness pills. She seemed to feel guilty that she would go to sleep herself and leave Yumi by herself. However, suffering from lack of sleep, Yumi caught a healthy nap without the use of medicine in the end. It didn't turn out as Sachiko-sama had worried over, so it probably meant a happy conclusion for everyone.
The car entered a narrow track and climbed a little up a gentle slope. At the end of the track a building appeared.
The car smoothly came to a stop.
"This is it."
This was just like Alice in Wonderland.
In the woodland stood a house with white walls and tea-brown triangular roofs. The name "Summhouse under possession of the Ogasawara's" made Yumi brace herself a little, but this house looked okay, Yumi thought. It was not that big, and resembled a small resort inn.
"Is it shockingly old and small?"
"No, not at all!"
The design might be old, but it was far from worn. No cracks ran on the walls, and the entrance door panels showed signs of being repaired. All were proof that the house was properly maintained and carefully used. Ivy vines crawled on part of the walls. Moss covered the stone pavement to the entrance like velvet. The whole house exuded the aura of an antique.
And the house is small only compared to the home residence of the Ogasawaras. Compared to the Fukazawa residence, the building is comparable in size... no, even a little bigger.
Gentle breezes could be felt when they got out of the car.
Probably because there was so much green, or because the altitude was higher, the temperature here was definitely lower than that in Tokyo. It is actually cool here. This definitely marks this land as a summer resort. Not only the image of it, but this place is definitely a refuge from the hot summer.
"There isn't a gate or anything like that, is there?"
Yumi looked around the surroundings.
"That's right. The stones stacked around this place in abundance can be the sign of private land, I guess. Grandpa and Dad hope to live as close to nature as possible, so there are no high walls encircling this place. This place is not well known as our summer resort, and those who know are old friends who live in this vicinity, so we do not worry at all. Even if a burglar is to break in, there is nothing like valuables or cash for him to steal here."
Sachiko-sama laughed in delight. Probably she also longed for a worry-free life without tight security.
The driver honked the car horn, and a middle-aged couple came out of the house.
"Welcome back, madam."
"It must have been a long journey for you."
The couple surrounded Sachiko-sama and each exchanged greetings. They had not met their dear madam for over a year. Of course, neither of them took notice of Yumi.
"Both of you, Kiyo and Gensuke, seem well. I'm glad."
"Thank you very much. Come, come, you're probably tired. Please come inside and enjoy."
After nodding ascent, Sachiko-sama looked back at Yumi and brought her forward.
"My younger sister Yumi. She'll be staying for one week's time, please treat her well."
Having been suddenly introduced, Yumi hurriedly lowered her head.
"I'm Fukuzawa Yumi. I'll be in your care."
Continuing on, Sachiko-sama held out her upward facing palm in front of the older couple and said:
"Managing the property for us, the Sawamura couple."
"Welcome Yumi-sama. I am Kiyo. Please be at ease and think of this house as your home."
"Please call me Gensuke. If not accustomed to the life-style here, or should there be any inconveniences, whatever it is, please ask us."
"T-Thank you very much."
Somehow, they were very friendly people, and she was relieved. Kiyo-san and Gensuke-san. Kiyo-san and Gensuke-san. She'll be in their care, so she must input diligently. Anyway, what's with the extent to which their old-fashioned names match the building...
"Well, with that, I'll leave things here."
Chauffeur-san, who had carried the luggage which was in the trunk to the foyer, said sounding formal.
"Oh, isn't Matsui-san good! Now, since I've made tea, if you can come in for a drink...?"
"I can't. In the evening I have the duty to give the master a ride, so I'll be returning. With that being the case, please excuse me, Mi'lady. Yumi-sama, thank you for the lunch. It was delicious."
It's seems that, while he was on break at the rest stop, Matsui-san, the chauffeur, had gratefully eaten the lunch that Yumi had brought. Kiyo-san received the cooler-case that Matsui-san held out and said, "I'll take care of washing it afterwards."
"I will pick you up after one week's time."
With such words lingering, the black car returned back down the road they had come and disappeared into the woods. Though for some reason, Yumi thought, wasn't the chauffeur-san with them the whole time?
After the car disappeared, the premises suddenly felt somewhat lonely, like a small stream that was flowing through a rustic bridge.
To start with, they went out from the first floor atrium onto a wide terrace, and were treated to black tea. Scones that Kiyo-san had baked, were accompanied by homemade strawberry jam that was said to have been given out by an acquaintance. It seems that these things had been prepared because they had heard that Sachiko-sama would be coming.
"Is everything all right with the master and the young master?"
While pouring a second serving of tea, Kiyo-san began the conversation.
"Thanks. Grandfather and father are both doing fine."
Gensuke-san wasn't there, and was likely working outside.
"For Lady Sayako-sama, it's unfortunate about her mother. Surely, she must have been feeling really down."
"It's alright now. Since it had been a lengthy struggle with illness, it seems that she had prepared herself."
Kiyo-san has probably been working for the Ogasawaras since ancient times. Here Sachiko-sama's grandfather was referred to as "master" and her father as "the young master". So that would be why the mother, Sayako-sama, was referred to in the same manner as Sachiko-sama, "the young lady" … complicated.
"Ah, that's right. An express delivery addressed to Lady Sachiko-sama arrived from Yumi-sama's house."
"Oh, I wonder what it could be?"
"Just a moment."
Kiyo-san withdrew into a room for a moment and with a "heave-ho" returned holding a smallish box, slightly smaller than a box for mandarin oranges. What is it, what is it? Such a heavy looking package...
"Seems like it's rice."
Kiyo-san said while looking at the product name field on the express delivery's form.
Sachiko-sama asked in return. Even Yumi, who hadn't heard even a single word about such a thing from her mother, was surprised and sought confirmation.
"Yep, rice. Shall we open it and take a look?"
After obtaining Sachiko-sama's consent, Kiyo-san peeled off the craft-tape sealing the box with a "schwah" sound. And then, it jumped into view:
It was written in large characters on a 5 kilogram vinyl pack. It indicated beyond any doubt that contents were indeed white rice.
Drip. Although Yumi maintained a composed expression, sweat trickled down her back. Mother, it's inconceivable how you came to enthusiastically send a Japanese person's staple food.
Kuhkuhkuhkuhkuh? She sought out the source of the sound that she couldn't quite comprehend, and for some reason it was Sachiko-sama's voice squeezing out. Sachiko-sama's body literally folded over on the next "kuh", and she grabbed her stomach laughing.
"Yumi's home, isn't it wonderful? Growing into children like Yumi and Yuuki-san is because of being born and raised in such a household."
She wasn't sure whether she was being praised or laughed at. But, onee-sama appeared to be enjoying it considerably.
"Kiyo. During our stay, when you cook the rice, by all means please make it for me with this. The onigiri that Yumi's mother-sama made were very delicious."
Kiyo-san promptly carried the box that the rice was in to the kitchen.
After tea, Sachiko-sama played the piano in the atrium for Yumi.
There wasn't a sofa in the almost twenty tatami mat atrium, instead there was a large dining table with six chairs, and along a wall there was a fireplace and an upright piano.
"Is there a tune you want to hear?"
After starting off at the top of the keyboard with a rising and falling Hanon piece to warm up her fingers and make sure the piano was tuned, Sachiko-sama flipped through a bundle of piano pieces with her thumb.
"Gounod's Ave Maria"
Yumi said seemingly without thinking about it.
"Ave Maria, is it?"
As Sachiko-sama narrowed her eyes and nodded agreement, she sat on the chair and proceeded to play the piano piece in it's entirety. Yumi wondered how Sachiko-sama was able to play the piece so well from memory.
This piece of music was a very special piece of music for Yumi.
In the spring of last year, Sachiko-sama, who was Rosa Chinensis en Buton at the time, had played the organ in the chapel sanctuary for Yumi and the other first year students. The song played was Gounod's Ave Maria.
It was in that moment that Yumi was completely captivated. By an onee-sama one year above, named Ogasawara Sachiko-sama.
Whenever she reminisces, it's still so.
Though Sachiko-sama might not remember, there was that time in the music room a bit before becoming Soeurs, where they played the piano together and even though it was only a short passage of the piece, it was also this piece of music. Calling it a four handed performance would be ridiculous. However, to the melody that Yumi uselessly played, Sachiko-sama added only the left hand. But, to Yumi it was a treasured memory. And so, of the numerous versions of Ave Maria, Gounod's piece was her favorite.
Sachiko-sama's fingers moved without faltering, and looked as though it was an elegant dance on top of the keyboard. The piece praising Maria-sama was perfect for her beautiful onee-sama.
By the time the piece finished, though she had no idea when they hade been lured to come there, both Kiyo-san and Gensuke-san had come to the atrium and the three of them gave her onee-sama a big applause.
On the 2nd floor there were 3 rooms. Two of them had been assigned to Sachiko-sama and Yumi.
"It's fine, though the two of us together was good too..."
Rather, it's better that way, Yumi thought, but it was a relief when onee-sama had said, "Especially since there's an excess of rooms."
"I might do things like reading books in the middle of the night, and if that happens, Yumi would be annoyed and unable to sleep."
"… got it."
In conclusion, the opposite reason could also be said, and the interpretation that Sachiko-sama didn't want her time intruded upon could also stand to be true.
For Yumi, who was adopting a secret goal of not intruding upon onee-sama's vacation, to be properly submissive here was the correct choice.
"See to your luggage."
Leaving that said, Sachiko-sama went into her room. Yumi wanted to be together for a bit more, but she didn't even have the courage to follow after her. Since remaining in the hallway by herself wouldn't accomplish anything, Yumi decided to quietly return to her room.
The room was almost 8 tatami mats in size, and had an atmosphere similar to an old hotel except that there wasn't a toilet, bath, phone, or television. There was one semi-double bed. Of the antique furniture, there was one armoire and one chest of drawers. The rest was a desk and chair set.
The room's walls were white. Areas such as the posts and beams were dark brown. The windows were left open and a pleasant feeling breeze was stirring the lace curtains.
Yumi placed her basket onto the floor and flopped onto the bed.
In any case, she had arrived. She was at Sachiko-sama's summer house.
Yumi wondered if, during this one week, the things she wanted to come for would happen. She had actually come to the summer house, and more than the heart-racing, there was a feeling like the count of thrilling experiences had gone up.
Aside from the property managers Kiyo-san and Gensuke, it was just the two of them, her and Sachiko-sama. At school Sachiko-sama was everyone's Rosa Chinensis, but for this one week, she had onee-sama to herself.
Whoohoo! she thought, and as she was doing a banzai cheer while lying down, a knock was heard. She didn't know whether the brief knock was on this room's door or onee-sama's neighboring door, but since right away Kiyo-san's voice was heard saying, "Yumi-sama, is it okay?" she hurriedly hopped up from the bed.
"Y-yes. Please come in."
"Do forgive me. About this, what would you like me to do?"
Kiyo-san held out before her the cooler-case that Yumi had brought. The plastic containers that were inside had already been considerately washed clean.
"If I were to return it now, it would be a bother, right? So, if there are no plans to use it, shall I store it for you in the kitchen?"
"Ah, thank you for your trouble."
Not a problem, not a problem. While laughing, Kiyo-san withdrew the cooler-case and after a pause as her gaze fell upon the plastic containers inside the case, she said, "Well…"
"It's an awkward matter to ask about, but…, Yumi-sama"
What awkward matter? Yumi thought, and tilted her head.
"The lunchbox's contents, what was it exactly?"
"The lunchbox contents? Umm, let's see, onigiri, grilled cherry tomatoes, fried white-meat fish, and… what shall I call it… grilled asparagus and cheese wrapped in bacon…but"
"There were four onigiri. All filled with umeboshi?"
"How did you know that?"
Waah, Yumi put herself on guard. Was Kiyo-san a person with psychic powers? To not only have hit the mark on the filling of onigiri that should have been completely consumed, but to have even guessed the number...
"Since four pits were left behind…"
"Oh, is that so. Guess it is like that."
So it was a matter of deduction, and not ESP. However, umeboshi pits, eh? Though it seemed understandable if thought about for a bit, Yumi's head that was up in the clouds had been spinning quite badly.
"And so, what did milady eat and about how much did she eat of it?"
"Well... a whole one of each, but…"
"So that is: onigiri, cherry tomatoes, white-meat fish, asparagus, cheese, and bacon, right?"
Humph, it wasn't a sigh, but rather Kiyo-san had expelled a deep breath.
Since it was as if a nurse or nutritionist was precisely inquiring, Yumi was gradually becoming uneasy. Perhaps, could it be that there are things that must not be eaten by Sachiko-sama? Then, maybe because the well-known "Yumi's thoughts showing on her face" had unwittingly occurred, Kiyo-san hurriedly shook her head.
"I am sorry. I was only asking so that the menus for the mid-day and evening meals and such do not overlap."
"Ah, is that so?"
I see, it's that she has to take such things into consideration. Even being a manager-san is tough.
"May I help with something?"
Yumi offered. It was also something she had been told by her mother: In order to not become merely a guest, find things you can do, and get working.
"Certainly not! If Yumi-sama is Lady Sachiko-sama's little sister, you are also after all just the same as a young lady of the Ogasawara household. If such a thing were allowed to happen, I would be reprimanded. That aside, we are doing the off-season management as well of course, so including those things, it's not an exaggeration to say that we are working entirely for the Ogasawara family to spend the their summertime moments here pleasantly. Please don't take away our work, ok?"
"Yes. I'm sorry."
Yumi surrendered to Kiyo-san's earnest entreaty, nodding assent. It seems that for so-called wealthy young ladies there is an unexpected inability to do as one pleases.
"I'm glad that you understand. At half past twelve o'clock, we will do lunch. Please come downstairs around that time."
Kiyo-san politely lowered her head before leaving the room, and her light footsteps descended the stairs.
"Half past twelve…"
She looked at the clock. It was eleven. Kiyo-san's scones were delicious and she had eaten two of them, so frankly she wasn't hungry yet.
Yumi took off the one-piece dress, hung it in the armoire, put on a t-shirt and a denim skirt, and tried doing sit-ups for a bit. However, it was something she wasn't accustomed to doing, so she didn't continue. Having repeated 10 times, "get up, lie down," she had become exhausted immediately, and after that it was almost one hour later that she did the 11th time's "get up."
When she went down stairs at half past twelve, Sachiko-sama had not yet shown up.
"She said she wanted to lie down for a bit, and will be upstairs resting. She said that she didn't need lunch."
Kiyo-san entered the atrium pushing a service cart.
"Yumi-sama, where will you eat? The atrium? Or the terrace?"
"Then, shall we do the terrace? It's fine weather."
Having been persuaded, Yumi went out onto the terrace and sat in a chair. So, Sachiko-sama wouldn't be eating with her.
"It happens every year. The day that she arrives, she tends to rest until nearly evening."
Because of the after effects of the drowsiness causing motion-sickness medicine, she might be pretty much out of it until the medicine wears off. Yumi wiped her hands with a hand towel that had been prepared for her.
"Just a little while ago I asked about mi'lady's meal, but I forgot to ask about Yumi-sama's likes. Are there things that you don't eat?"
"No. I can eat just about anything."
"Oh, that helps. I have prepared egg and chicken sandwiches. For the drink, will café au lait be okay?"
"Ah, that would be terrific."
"You don't need to use polite speech for us. Please be more at ease."
"Even if you say so…"
Using casual speech to an older person was something she was not just a bit reluctant, but rather considerably reluctant, to do. After all, she wasn't a upper-class lady by birth.
"Since there is a second serving… please feel free to call for me."
With Kiyo-san apparently having completed laying out the table setting, Yumi hurriedly called out to stop her.
"Umm… aren't Kiyo-san and Gensuke-san joining?"
"We eat in a separate room."
Kiyo-san smiled sweetly and left. Evidently, it seems that in this place the masters and servants have strictly divided areas.
And that was how it had ended up with Yumi having lunch on the terrace alone. Sachiko-sama was skipping the meal and Yumi didn't really have much appetite, but since she felt bad for Kiyo-san who made it for her, in that way, she made up her mind to do her best to eat even though she wasn't hungry.
That said, the amount of sandwiches, neatly arranged on the large plate, wasn't skimpy. Just the bread alone seemed like it could very easily be an entire loaf. This was not an amount that a high-school girl could eat alone.
On the serving plate were chicken sandwiches and egg sandwiches, she took one each of the two kinds of sandwiches.
As she was preparing to take a bite, Yumi realized there was something to the left and right of the plate.
A knife and a fork.
Because of such a thing, there sure was no doubt that this was Sachiko-sama's home, she thought. It was a shame she that couldn't be laughing about it together with onee-sama.
As an experiment, she tried eating with the knife and fork. Alas, with the egg sandwich, the filling squeezed out from both ends, and with the chicken one, she used a bit too much force and the bread was smushed.
It was a sandwich that Yumi desperately battled. If it was Sachiko-sama, she probably could skillfully cut it up and elegantly convey it to her mouth, even though it was such a difficult thing.
"I give up."
Yumi resigned herself to eating them using her hands. She started things off by picking up the lettuce that had fallen onto the plate and tossing it into her mouth.
"Chicken and egg. ...parent and child?"
She said by herself, and laughed by herself.
As for the sandwiches, the bread was done moist, and even the ingredients for the filling were fresh and tasty.
Just a bit, it was a lonely lunch.
Sachiko-sama remained cloistered in her room until around evening.
Yumi was bored, so bored, and even though she wasn't yet grasping for things to do to the point that she must rouse onee-sama from her rest, returning to her room couldn't be helped, and she tried doing such things as moving the luggage from one place to another, and meaninglessly hopping up and down on the bed.
If she had been allowed to, something like clearing away lunch would have probably passed the time, but sure enough, that had been rejected by Kiyo-san.
When she also got tired of exploring the inside of the room, Yumi gazed out the window. The house was standing in the middle of the trees looking like they were encircling it to the extent that the force of their outstretched branches would appear almost sufficient to crack the window glass.
"If it's going to be like this, I wonder if I should have at least brought a crossword puzzle…"
Initially, she was going to bring a small guidebook, but…. She had been so happy about coming here that before leaving she had read it until she was tired of reading it. Besides, in the room by herself, looking for a page about a noteworthy spot around here would be somewhat useless. With that said, Yumi was not familiar with the area and it would probably be too reckless for her to do such things as heading out by herself relying on the guidebook. First off, she was starting from the middle of these woods, and even if there were a place she could walk to, whether could she get to a lively sight-seeing area, she really had no idea. At best, the outcome would be her becoming a "lost child."
It was quiet enough to hear herself sighing greatly.
She turned her head about after feeling like she was being watched, and there was something -- a small animal and it's eyes. At first, she thought, a long tailed rabbit?, but with the ears being short...
It was Squirrel-like in the way squirrels are always depicted, and while not having a vertical-stripe pattern at all, it was unmistakably a squirrel. Larger than a chipmunk, it was merely just a brown-looking squirrel. The squirrel was on the branches near the window staring her way motionlessly.
"Come here, come here ."
She tried, reaching out her hand, but, of course a wild squirrel wasn't going to be drawn closer with something like that. As if coldly disregarding Yumi, it scampered off toward the thick tree trunk.
"He mustn't like me…"
It would be good if onee-sama woke up soon, she thought.
Sachiko-sama came downstairs just before dinner, and arrived at the dinner table with glazed over eyes. Sachiko-sama was said to be bad about having low-blood pressure when waking up in the morning. As expected, it really was the case that she might be listless for an unrelated period of time after having slept.
Dinner's menu was a full complement of blessing from the mountain.
The main course was grilled salted ayu. All kinds of mushroom tempura. Local vegetable aemono. After that, hand-made yosedofu. All of it looked delicious, but... having eaten plenty of scones and sandwiches, she should've been more anxious to take the initiative to eat sparingly from the start.
"Please have seconds."
Kiyo-san placed a steaming rice bowl on the table.
That's right, she mustn't forget. The rice was the Uonuma produced Koshihikari that had been sent from the Fukuzawa household, and there was okoge. Sachiko-sama's grandfather liked rice cooked on a traditional stove, and she'd heard that when the kitchen was renovated, the only thing to remain was the traditional stove.
As two of them began their meal sitting facing each other at the six-seater table, Sachiko-sama asked,
"What did Yumi do while I was sleeping?"
"Umm. Organizing the luggage and such, lying down for a bit…, ah, after that I also saw a squirrel from the window."
"That so. There's a lot of nature that remains here. Don't you think it's nice and quiet?"
After nodding agreement, Yumi added,
"But, onee-sama wasn't there and I was a bit lonely."
If there's something you want to say, please say it, were the words she'd heard Sachiko-sama say previously.
Sachiko-sama smiled a bit.
"Well then, in the evening shall we play some games or something?"
"Is that ok?"
Yumi asked searchingly.
Was the agreeable reply.
Joy surged through her body and without thinking she had stood up from the chair.
"Yumi. Don't stand up in the middle of the meal."
Though cautioned, it didn't halve her joy at all. That's because her happiness was already at ten fold or a hundred fold.
That aside, playing games wasn't the reason that she was so happy. Simply, it was that she would be together with her onee-sama. And, onee-sama would be using that time for her. That was what had made Yumi happy.
Yumi, resuscitated, consumed all the side dishes. After all, rather than the delicious highland air, it seems that onee-sama's single word became a stimulant for her appetite.
After the meal as promised, they played games.
Unfortunately, the holiday house only had playing cards, chess, and Go, but doing things such as hasami-shogi with the chess board and Othello with the Go board, it was sufficiently fulfilling.
Kiyo-san, who finished tidying up after the meal, and Gensuke-san, who disliked it, were dragged into doing card games such as "Old Maid" and even "Sevens". Since the Sawamura couple didn't know the rules for games such as "Daihinmin" and "Page One", they had to repeat doing those two card games, but even with that it wasn't at all tiresome.
With the classical records and the sometimes mixing in of a "ji ji ji" noise, it was at some points a nostalgic feeling night.
I want to keep staying up late like this forever, Yumi thought.
I wonder what kind of enjoyable thing I'll be waiting for today. Anticipation swelled within Yumi's bosom (though there was no change in the actual size). Climbing off the bed, Yumi used the second story landing's washbasin to wash her face, and went downstairs.
Last night, in the end she was absorbed in the games until 12:30, and by the time she took her turn to enter the bath and went to bed, it was close to two o'clock in the morning. Before disbanding, it was decided that breakfast would be at 8:00 AM, and though, calculating backwards, she had set the alarm for 7:40 AM, she woke up before the electronic "PiPiPi" sound flowed out. It was the same reason her father's generation would get up excessively early if there was golf.
Yumi started off with greeting Kiyo-san who was arranging the dishes on the table.
"Good morning, Yumi-sama. Were you able to sleep well?"
Fwah. There was a smell of butter and eggs cooking.
It was cooler than compared to restless Tokyo nights, so she had slept very well. Was that also why even though it was 8:00 AM, Sachiko-sama hadn't appeared in the atrium?
"Ah, Yumi-sama. Good morning."
The aromatic fragrance of freshly baked bread entered together with Gensuke-san.
"Good morning. That smells good."
"I bought freshly baked bread. Please eat them while they are piping hot."
Gensuke-san was wearing a helmet. It seems that he went out by bike to buy the bread for them. Piping hot, he had said, and sure enough steam was rising up from the bag.
"Then, shall we entrust a task to Yumi-sama?"
While wiping her hands on a towel hung from her apron, Kiyo-san winked.
Whatever it was, she was happy being told to do a task. Since becoming a guest here, it seemed as if both her body and her mind had dulled.
"Before the bread and omelets get cold, could you go rouse Lady Sachiko for us? This is a serious task."
"Please entrust it to me."
Yumi thumped her chest and energetically galloped up the stairs.
She could see Onee-sama.
Standing in front of the door, she restrained her leaping heart, and after taking a deep breath, she knocked.
They were together until a few hours ago, so something like already wanting to see her might be strange... But there was no way she'd ever tire of being together with Sachiko-sama, and if she could, she wanted to be by her side, so to be able see her face even just a bit earlier, she was happy.
Since there was no reply, she knocked again. Still, no reply came from inside.
Since the door wasn't locked, she opened it a crack and called out, and even with that, there was no response.
Though she had carelessly accepted, this might really be a serious task.
Gathering her resolve, Yumi entered the room. Though she tentatively called out an "excuse me", it probably wouldn't be delivered to Sachiko-sama's ears.
In the bed, wrapped in a cotton blanket, a Sleeping Beauty slept soundly. Disheveled black hair snaked over her face and bare arms as if vines, making her pale skin stand out all the more.
Since the scene was excessively beautiful, Yumi who was about to shake her awake, had halted her outstretched hand mid-motion. This is so much like a picture.
This, although the nuance might differ a bit, would it not have the feel of: Picture of a Younger Sister Attacking her Onee-sama in her Sleep.
It was good that Tsutako-san wasn't by her side, Yumi thought with a sense of relief. If she were here, it's absolutely, absolutely for sure that the shutter would be clicking away. And that person, she would skillfully use any means necessary to bamboozle, decorating an especially large panel for the school festival.
She acquired Sachiko-sama's turning in her sleep. She mustn't. Since Sachiko-sama was pretty, if Yumi continued looking, she would enter into the company of perverts.
Yumi didn't know where it would be ok to touch, so with trepidation she shook Sachiko-sama's shoulder and called out.
"Please get up. It's morning."
Still half-asleep, Sachiko-sama pulled the cotton blanket over her head with a sound of sliding fabric.
"Gensuke-san bought bread for us, and it'll get cold. After that, Kiyo-san's omelets will as well."
"I don't need to eat. So let me sleep."
"That's no good. Because I want to eat breakfast with onee-sama."
Though it was a bit rude, Yumi yanked off the cotton blanket. Sachiko-sama made herself into a 'く' character and her sleep-wear came to resemble a tank-top with the hem stretched to her calves. Incidentally, the color of the sleep-wear was baby-pink.
"Please get up."
"I get it. I should get up."
Sachiko-sama gave in, brushing her hair aside and raising her self up. She was scowling just a bit, but she properly put on her slippers and got out of bed.
"I'll go in five minutes..."
Finally noticing that Sachiko-sama was holding the shoulder area of her sleep-wear, Yumi realized she was saying, get out, I'm changing my clothes.
"Well then, I'll be waiting downstairs."
Hurriedly, Yumi left the room.
Idiot idiot idiot idiot. What an idiot.
It's not that I stood around like a fool looking. Yumi tsukomi'd herself, descending the stairs while red faced.
The meal which began after 8:00 in the morning, was completely tidied up by 9:00.
Well, wonder what we'll do today…, Yumi thought trembling excitedly while waiting for Sachiko-sama to speak up, but whether something like: shall we go somewhere?, or shall we do something?, no such words were heard at all.
How about plans for after meal digestion exercises? Sachiko-sama went directly to reading on the terrace. Somehow or other, it had already been an hour.
"Summer vacation homework. A book report."
In Sachiko-sama's hands, the Complete Works of Dazai Osamu.
"It's a travel journal and I don't really like it."
Seems the assignment was "Tsugaru". Yumi had not read it yet, but she inferred it was probably "A story where the protagonist travels through Tsugaru." It seems so for Sachiko-sama to say, "Come now, that place..."
"Though it picks up a bit toward the end."
"Is that how it is?"
While secretly peeping, she saw the characters for "Tsugaru" at the top of Sachiko-sama's open page. Having said that, the reason "Tsugaru" is still read in the present continuous tense, is because it's not supposed to arrive at an end.
"I said that since I've read it."
After all, she had read the book at this holiday house when she was a first year in middle school, she said. Shockingly, in addition to that, she said she had sought out and read her father's bookshelves after completely reading all the books she brought from home and having run out of books to read. Yumi was such that she wouldn't read a literary novel unless it was homework.
"Yumi should also get her homework done early."
Sachiko-sama said, dropping her line of sight again to the page.
"Since our schedule will be full after this."
She wanted to hop up saying, some fun things were scheduled for later?
"Isn't it going to be as I said? 'In the later half of summer vacation we'll be out at school preparing for the school festival.'"
"Ah, …right. I remember."
Early. It seems she meant early in the summer vacation. Nevertheless, Yumi happily jumped to a hasty conclusion earlier this morning. Danger, danger. She was about to get off to a false start.
"Yumi, your homework?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't bring it."
Why she says. You wouldn't ordinarily bring your homework with you on a vacation.
No, wait, Yumi recalled. Recently on TV, there was talk of it being fashionable to go about life the same as usual at your travel destination. Wasn't there something extremely demeaning, like Japanese people having been exposed as country bumpkins, who go overseas and while sightseeing are only thinking about travel gifts for people back home.
Probably Sachiko-sama is of the faction that goes with the normal flow of things. And Yumi, the latter. In this way, can a pair whose perceptions were out of sync, sync up their lifestyles for a week? She was becoming a bit anxious.
No, it's alright, Yumi thought to herself, while shaking her head.
Wasn't the important thing that she should be together with Sachiko-sama? That she be able to share the same time with onee-sama, even if only to spend a Sunday without plans relaxing.
"You didn't bring the book for your book report either?"
Sachiko-sama muttered in amazement.
Though she had bought a compilation book just in case, unfortunately, it had been left on the desk in her room still in the bag from the bookstore.
"Um… if it's in the books that came to held by onee-sama's father, could you lend it to me?
"That's fine. What would you like?"
"Natsume Souseki's 'Heart'."
"If it's Souseki, we have the complete collection. If I remember correctly, in here---"
Sachiko-sama stood up and opened the atrium's cabinet's long, narrow door. You couldn't tell from the outside, but the cabinet was jam-packed with books from top to bottom.
She admired without thinking. When opened, it seemed even the cabinets abutting the entrance to the hallway and the stairway landing had similarly become bookshelves.
"Since both father and grand-father were busy people, they couldn't take time to leisurely read novels. So, they indulged in reading during the summer vacations here. But at home, only opening business writings. ...ah yes, here it is."
Sachiko-sama took out a rather substantial book and handed it over to Yumi.
"I'll gratefully borrow it."
"A friendship themed book, isn't it?"
Sachiko-sama muttered. As expected, seems she's read this book too.
After that, she read with Sachiko-sama on the terrace.
Yumi quietly opened the first page.
I always called that person "sensei".
The story's beginning was profoundly heavy to the extent that it rivaled the book's weight.
That evening, Sachiko-sama started on her English-Japanese translation homework at the atrium table, so Yumi decided to write postcards alongside her.
Addressed to Yoshino-san and Shimako-san:
Midsummer greetings, I am currently visiting Sachiko-sama's summerhouse. It is cool and very quiet here. It's a shame that I can't send this delicious air together with the postcard. -Yumi
In the blank space of the postcard, Yumi affixed the pressed leaf of a weed that she didn't even know the name of, picked from beside the terrace during the daytime.
If she can write them up by mid-evening, she'll say to Gensuke-san: tomorrow morning, while on your way to buy bread, please mail these for me.
"With only half of a day of pressing, won't the pressed leaves come off?"
Sachiko-sama said while presenting glue. She's saying, that as time passes, it'll become an ordinary wilted weed.
"Though, it would be good if it holds up until delivered to them..."
Yumi affixed the postage. Although Yumi didn't bring her homework with her, she did diligently bring postcards and stamps. As with prior trips, she'll send out postcards. That is her travel routine.
Sachiko-sama took the postcards and wrote the summer home's address in the sender line for her. As was often the case, Yumi was thinking that the style of saying "At: ___" was good, but Sachiko-sama said that this way of inserting the address by both of them more readily conveyed the image of this place.
Yumi wondered, was there a need to expressly inform that this is a weed native to such-and-such place? Though at that time, the straightforward Yumi did think about it.
If she tried to think back on it later, that was probably Sachiko-sama's way of being considerate.
If the receiver did overlook it, up until that place on Yumi's postcards where the house number was written, it really was an itty-bitty autograph.
- Sachiko is written here as ご祥子 (so it's still honorific) and that she'd taken a liking to the surroundings is written as a pre-nominative.
- お嬢さま -- A daughter of wealth or nobility.
- The caretaker couple are using extremely formal language when addressing Yumi and Sachiko throughout this chapter.
- (お嬢さま) but that doesn't sound formal when written in English so "madam", "Lady", and "Mi'lady" has been used instead were appropriate.
- Uonuma is a city in Niigata prefecture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uonuma,_Niigata
- A popular type of rice in Japan and the variety grown in Uonuma is particularly well regarded (and expensive): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koshihikari
- タラリ -- sweat-drop sound effect.
- The "kuh" sound looks like a line bent in half: く So, the "literally" may refer to her "literally" bending into the shape of the Ku character.
- Rice balls: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onigiri
- The size of a tatami mat is a common unit for measuring the floor area of Japanese rooms. Approx. 1.8 x 0.9 meters. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatami
- Piano Exercises by Charles Louis Hanon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Virtuoso_Pianist_in_60_Exercises
- Composed by Charles-François Gounod: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ave_Maria_(Gounod) (There is audio of the piece at the link.)
- Pickled plums: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umeboshi
- Ritual saying generally equivalent to "thanks for the food" that is said before eating.
- 鮎(Ayu) -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayu
- 和え物 -- a blanched and dressed vegetable side dish.
- 寄せ豆腐 -- a creamy tofu made by adding nigari (magnesium chloride) to unsweetened soy milk.
- お焦げ, the crispy rice that forms at the bottom of the cooking pan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okoge_(food)
- 眠れる森の美女 -- literally "sleeping beauty of the forest", but this is the classic "Sleeping Beauty": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeping_Beauty
- A place in Aomori and also the title to a work by Dazai Osamu. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsugaru,_Aomori
- As in flying off the starting line before the starting gun in a race.
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