“It is of Sada that I came to speak to father,” said Mr. Gentaro. “The marriage of our Sada is a great question for the Fujinami family. Here is a letter from Mr. Osumi, a friend of the Governor of Osaka. The Governor has been of much help to us in getting the concession for the new brothels. He is a widower with no children. He is a man with a future. He is protected by the military clan. He is wishful to marry a woman who can assist his career, and who would be able to take the place of a Minister’s wife. Mr. Osumi, who writes, had heard of the accomplishments of our Sada. He mentioned her name to the Governor; and His Excellency was quite willing that Mr. Osumi should write something in a letter to Ito.”
“Hm!” grunted the old gentleman, squinting sidelong at his son; “this Governor, has he a private fortune?”
“No, he is a self-made man.”
“Then it will not be with him, as it was with that Viscount Kamimura. He will not be too proud to take our money.”
The truth of the allusion to Viscount Kamimura was that the name of Sadako Fujinami had figured on the list of possible brides submitted to that young aristocrat on his return from England. At first, it seemed likely that the choice would fall upon her, because of her undisputed cleverness; and the Fujinami family were radiant at the prospect of so brilliant a match. For although nothing had been formally mentioned between the two families, yet Sadako and her mother had learned from their hairdresser that there was talk of such a possibility in the servants’ quarter of the Kamimura mansion, and that old Dowager Viscountess Kamimura was undoubtedly making inquiries which could only point to that one object.
The young Viscount, however, on ascertaining the origin of the family wealth, eliminated poor Sadako from the competition for his hand.
It was a great disappointment to the Fujinami, and most of all to the ambitious Sadako. For a moment she had seen opening the doorway into that marvellous world of high diplomacy, of European capitals, of diamonds, duchesses and intrigue, of which she had read in foreign novels, where everybody is rich, brilliant, immoral and distinguished, and where to women are given the roles to play even more important than those of the men. This was the only world, she felt, worthy of her talents; but few, very few, just one in a million Japanese women, ever gets the remotest chance of entering it. This chance presented itself to Sadako—but for a moment only. The doorway shut to again; and Sadako was left feeling more acutely than before the emptiness of life, and the bitterness of woman’s lot in a land where men are supreme.