Asako Barrington was restored to the name and home of the Fujinami. Her action had been the result of hereditary instinct, of the natural current of circumstances, and of the adroit diplomacy of her relatives. She had been hunted and caught like a wild animal; and she was soon to find that the walls of her enclosure, which at first seemed so wide that she perceived them not, were closing in upon her day by day as in a mediaeval torture chamber, forcing her step by step towards the unfathomable pit of Japanese matrimony.
The Fujinami had not adopted their foreign cousin out of pure altruism. Far from it. Like Japanese in general, they resented the intrusion of a “tanin” (outside person) into their intimacy. They took her for what she was worth to them.
Since Asako was now a member of the family, custom allowed Mr. Fujinami Gentaro to control her money. But Mr. Ito warned his patron that, legally, the money was still hers, and hers alone, and that in case of her marrying a second time it might again slip away. It was imperative, therefore, to the policy of the Fujinami house that Asako should marry a Fujinami, and that as soon as possible.
A difficulty here arose, not that Asako might object to her new husband—it never occurred to the Fujinami that this stranger from Europe might have opinions quite opposed to Japanese conventions—but that there were very few adequately qualified suitors. Indeed, in the direct line of succession there was only young Mr. Fujinami Takeshi, the youth with the purple blotches, who had distinguished himself by his wit and his savoir vivre on the night of the first family banquet.
True, he had a wife already; but she could easily be divorced, as her family were nobodies. If he married Asako, however, was he still capable of breeding healthy children? Of course, he might adopt the children whom he already possessed by his first wife, but the elder boy showed signs of being mentally deficient, the younger was certainly deaf and dumb, and the two others were girls and did not count.
Grandfather Fujinami Gennosuke, who hated and despised his grandson, was for sweeping him and his brood out of the way altogether, and for adopting a carefully selected and creditable yoshi (adopted son) by marriage with either Sadako or Asako.
“But if this Asa is barren?” said Mrs. Fujinami Shidzuye, who naturally desired that her daughter Sadako’s husband should be the heir of the Fujinami. “That Englishman was strong and healthy. There was living together for more than a year, and still no child.”
“If she is barren, then a son must be adopted,” said the old gentleman.
“To adopt twice in succession is unlucky,” objected Mr. Fujinami Gentaro.
“Then,” said Mrs. Shidzuye, “the old woman of Akabo shall come for consultation. She shall tell if it is possible for her to have babies.”