8.11 The Samurai Returns

14 October, 2012 by katelaity

Canova’s Amorino [Dublin]

Maggiormente brushed away a tear, no less enraptured in the tale now that he could feel its end drawing near. Like the samurai he found a gladness filling his heart that made it feel as if it were bursting.

Eduardo did not even notice the hunger growing his belly, which may just have been without precedence. It had to be the combination of Seito’s music and Myojo’s storytelling magic.

She smiled with increased pleasure, knowing her audience had become as fully immersed in the samurai’s exploits as she always did. Seito made a sort of clip-clop sound that mirrored the echo of horse hooves as much as possible and the journey of the goddess and her brave rescuer seemed so very real.

“In no time the samurai and the goddess reached the emperor’s magnificent palace. The crowds of people busy at their work stopped and froze like painted images as they glimpsed the incredible beauty of the goddess.

“It was not merely her matchless face or her glorious robes—untouched by her cruel captivity—but the glorious loving kindness that radiated from her like a second sun. For some it was too much to experience and they turned away abashed. Small children ran toward her, laughing. Their parents thought to step in and restrain them, yet there was something in her countenance that let them know they were welcome.

“Without a command, many people knelt, tears falling from their eyes not in sadness, rather in a happiness that had the lightness of summer mornings when their hearts would sing with the pure joy of existence and all things seemed possible.”

Seito outdid herself with a song so redolent of those delights that Eduardo whined with happy longing and the alchemist wept unashamed, a huge smile across his face. “Yes,” he whispered to no one in particular. “Yes.”

“When the travelers arrived at the emperor’s palace the guards parted like rushes before a boat. The samurai strode into the hall buoyed by joy and the goddess deigned to walk upon the earth once more, modestly following behind the brave man.

“With the scent of cherry blossoms filling his senses, the samurai stepped into the emperor’s hall and said, ‘My liege, I bring you a wondrous miracle.’ Then he bowed low and waited for the goddess to pass him, but she paused by his side and bad him rise and walk with her before the emperor.”

Maggiormente was ready to swear that the delicate scent of cherry blossoms had filled the room. Even his lion sniffed the air, uncertain whether to believe in his nose or his ears.

“The emperor arose and swooned at the beauty of the goddess,” Myojo continued, her arms sketching the scene in the air, “falling to his knees before her. All he could say was, ‘My dream, my dream.’

“‘I am real,’ the goddess reassured him, ‘and in real peril from a demon until this brave samurai released me. I am forever grateful to him.’

“The emperor felt a stab of disappointment that he had not been the one to rescue her. For a moment he hated the faithful samurai, but he gained control of his emotions the next moment. ‘Glorious goddess,’ he said unable to hide the effort it took to say this, ‘if you wish to reward your rescuer I will be grateful. I shall offer him whatever reward he desires.’

“The goddess, too, agreed. ‘Let him have whatever he desires!’

“They both turned to regard the samurai whose heart leapt up at this declaration, but who could not bring himself immediately to declare his deepest desire. ‘I serve the emperor and you, my lady. It was his dream that sent me to you. It was the rabbits who saved you by destroying the demon’s chains. I did nothing.’

“Both the emperor and the goddess tutted at his declaration of doing nothing. ‘Is there no boon you would ask of a goddess?’ the emperor asked, fearing the answer.

“The samurai hesitated, but the two of them looked at him with such expectation that he at last relented. ‘My heart’s fondest wish is to return home to my wife and children to live happily as long as the seasons turn.’

“The emperor’s own soul rejoiced and he insisted the samurai take great wealth with him. The goddess kissed his forehead and left the same mark of grace that the rabbits shared. And the samurai went home where his wife smiled at the kiss of the goddess on his forehead and his children laughed and played and there was not a happier family in the whole of Japan.”

Myojo bowed low and Seito whistled a cheery tune while the alchemist applauded wildly with joy and tears and his lion ran crazy circles around them all, flapping his wings noisily.

“A fine tale! A grand tale! Well worth an emperor!”

“Let’s eat cake,” added Eduardo. “We know just the place.”

“Indeed we do,” Maggiormente said, wringing Myojo’s hand with great feeling. “Come along to our friends’ café and they will hear what a wonder you bring us. I cannot wait for the Exposition to begin!”

And away they all went.

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