Episode 2: Choosing the future
One day after the an donut (fried donut topped with red bean paste) which Jin had created as a confection to treat beriberi had created a sensation in Edo, he is asked by Matsumoto Ryojun of the Institute of Western Medicine who is also the doctor to the shogun, to present the donuts to Princess Kazunomiya, who is suspected to have beriberi. This is to be kept secret, but unbeknownst to both men, someone has eavesdropped on their conversation. At that same moment, Taki Antaku, the principal of the Tokugawa government’s medical school tries to make Fukuda Genko divulge the ingredients in Jinyudo’s donut so that it can be presented as a herbal medicine to Princess Kazunomiya.
At Jinyudo, Saki and the others are overjoyed to hear of this big honour as Princess Kazunomiya is the daughter of the late emperor and the wife of the current shogun. However, Jin broods alone as he has qualms that it could change history again … …
“I’ve been too involved with historical figures lately.
If I were to meet Princess Kazunomiya too ….
If that were to happen, it would somehow feel that I’m meant to die here.
Edo is a nice place, but if I’m asked whether I don’t think it matters if I die here, I’ll not be able to say “yes” with conviction.
I’ve parents and friends whom I’ve left behind.
And, as long as I’m here, I won’t be able to know what has happened to Miki.
Still, will the day come when I can say “yes” definitively?
I feel such a day will probably never come.”
At that moment, Jin meets with Nokaze again. She had been teaching children to read and write, but was driven out of her tenement house in Yokohama on fears that husbands would become restless with her around. She has resolved to cherish the life that Jin gave to her, and has no intention to be someone’s mistress or concubine. Concerned for Nokaze and wishing for her happiness, Jin offers her to let her work at Jinyudo. Saki, who has been managing the financially troubled Jinyudo, also cheerfully welcomes Nokaze.
Jinyudo has no money and the doctors have never been paid. The occasional large medical fees that are earned, disappears on medical instruments, while the production of penicillin is still being supported by Hamaguchi Gihe. Saki has actually been bringing her kimonos and personal effects to the pawnshop to sell without Jin’s knowledge, in order to buy the daily necessities.
Jinyudo has no money and the doctors have never been paid. The occasional large medical fees that are earned, disappears on medical instruments, while the production of penicillin is still being supported by Hamaguchi Gihe. Still, this chance for Jinyudo to flourish by being the purveyor of an donuts to the Imperial Household does not prompt Jin to grab Matsumoto’s offer. In fact, Saki has been bringing her kimonos and personal effects to the pawnshop to sell without Jin’s knowledge, in order to buy their daily necessities.
It is Nokaze’s plight that finally spurs Jin to make the decision to present the donuts to the princess. Like Princess Kazunomiya, who had to leave Kyoto where she grew up and could never return to her birthplace after she was brought to the inner palace, Nokaze does not have anything like a hometown. Everyone at Jinyudo is happy that Jin has decided to present the donuts, but Saki wears a complicated expression.
Meanwhile, Taki, who has been informed that Jinyudo will present the donuts to Princess Kazunomiya, orders Fukuda to make it end in failure … …
The night before they are to present the donuts, Saki presents a fine kimono for Jin to wear the next day. When he comments on it, she lies that she had borrowed it from her brother. But Jin later discovers the truth when he looks through Jinyudo’s account books.
“This is for a single day,
for a man who may disappear anytime.
But what am I supposed to do?
In this body in limbo,
and with feelings that are stuck in the middle,
what do I say?”
Accompanied by Saki the next morning, Jin visits Princess Kazunomiya, who has travelled incognito to watch Sawamura Tanosuke’s play. The donuts are presented to her without incident, and he is relieved to see her eat it as if it were delicious. However, that is short-lived as she suddenly clutches her chest and collapses on the spot just as the performance is about to start!!!
Jin and Saki watch on helplessly as Matsumoto examines the princess and determines that she has been poisoned by arsenic. Washing her stomach is the most effective way to remove the poison, but Jin cannot administer the procedure because he is not a doctor to the shogun. So, he gives Matsumoto instructions on the treatment. To everyone’s relief, Princess Kazunomiya’s life is saved.
Then, Jin and Saki are arrested on the orders of the lady in charge of the inner palace. Matsumoto tries to intervene, arguing that the symptoms took too long to set in for it to be the donuts that were presented. But she has already drawn her own conclusion: Jin had schemed to advance his position by putting the poison to show what he can do. They are put into Kodenmacho jailhouse on charges of attempted poisoning.
Jin, who is placed in the great jailroom where commoner men are held, is subjected to unrelenting treatment from the head of a prisoner’s group and his underlings, and braces himself for death … …
“Will I be able to go back if I die like this?
But if I return, what will happen?
I certainly won’t be able to know what became of Saki-san from the future.
I won’t be able to respond to that gawky kindness of hers.
I won’t be able to see that smile.
Even so, will the day come,
in those new days ahead,
when I’ll be able to declare, “That’s okay”?
I’ve to live on here,
if I think such a day never come.”
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