Home The Case Files of Jeweler Richard The Case Files of Jeweler Richard Book 1 Chapter 1 (Part 2)

The Case Files of Jeweler Richard Book 1 Chapter 1 (Part 2)

Translating this chapter made me realize that splitting up chapters in thirds may not be the best idea. Would you all mind if I translated shorter chunks in exchange for more frequent updates?

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The first two weeks of my second year of university went by with a terrifying speed. The blossoms of the cherry trees fell into cherry trees in leaf, and thin coats turned into hoodies. Everyone in my seminars were already talking about their plans for summer jobs.

The Ginza coffee shop I was called to was behind the Wako* clock tower. The walls were all colored and textured like chocolate bars, and the indirect lighting was also stylish. Since it was during the daytime of a weekday, there were not a lot of customers.

(TN:Wako is a Japanese company that sells watches, jewelry, and other things. Its headquarters in Ginza is famous for the iconic clock tower.)

The first two weeks of my second year of university went by with a terrifying speed. The blossoms of the cherry trees fell into cherry trees in leaf, and thin coats turned into hoodies. Everyone in my seminars were already talking about their plans for summer jobs.

The Ginza coffee shop I was called to was behind the Wako* clock tower. The walls were all colored and textured like chocolate bars, and the indirect lighting was also stylish. Since it was during the daytime of a weekday, there were not a lot of customers.

Richard had come earlier than our scheduled time. “Sorry for keeping you waiting,” I said, and sat down before the jeweler. “So, what do you have for me?”

“You have shown me something very unusual.”

Richard first returned the pink sapphire. His expression was hard.

“By the way, are you sure you were not mistaken that this ring was an heirloom of your grandmother’s? Do you know anything else about this ring?”

“What do you mean?” I asked back.

Richard spoke without changing his expression. “Are you aware that this ring may be a stolen article?”

It was at the moment I heard that sentence.

I looked up at the ceiling of the coffee shop. I let out a sigh like a moan, then looked at Richard. Even with his brows drawn together, he was as beautiful as ever. He had an expression on his face, like he wanted to say he didn’t understand. It was probably because my reaction was unexpected.

I laughed. I was ecstatic. I was relieved from the bottom of my heart.

“You’re…incredible! A true jeweler! Incredible, truly incredible!”

“Please be quiet.”

At the end of his cold gaze, I shut my mouth. I got too excited.

Richard maintained a forest-like silence. His eyes of a mysterious shade were looking at me. I think beautiful things had a mysterious power. Just by them being there, you felt like all malice and ill will had gone, and that you couldn’t do anything bad. It was similar to that feeling where you didn’t even know the sect of your family, but when you go to a temple, for some reason you want to place your hands together. That was how I felt with Richard. And with the ring.

“Could you please explain?”

“…I apologize for acting like I was tricking you. I lied when I said my grandmother ‘insisted that it was fake.’ It was because I wanted a means to have you check it. But I didn’t lie about the other parts. This is my Grandma’s heirloom, and it was stolen goods. It’ll take a long time for me to tell you the story, so are you okay with that?”

“That is why I came.”

“Thank you very much,” I said, then bowed my head. This time, Richard ordered mineral water, and I ordered café au lait. Could I tell everything before I drink it all up?

“Then, I’ll start from what my grandma was doing in Tokyo. It’s a story from the past that’s almost fifty years old.”

My grandma’s name was Kanou Hatsu. She lived in Tokyo.

She worked as a pickpocket.

She was born before the war, and married a veteran after. He had just barely returned with his life from the South Pacific, and had no home or family. Everyone had burned to death in the air raids. It’s a cruel thing to talk about, but people like him might not have all that rare in that period. My Grandma was the same, after all.

She probably thought that she would continuing living with her husband while sharing the same sorrows, but he suffered from what we would call PTSD now, and he drank and beat his wife. A cycle of finding work and then getting fired. Neither of them had relatives they could rely on. His military pension was their only lifeline. Until my mother was born, they apparently had two boys, but neither of them lived long.

Grandma endured it all for a long time, but she strengthened her resolve when her third child, a girl, was born. She probably thought, at least this child. She decided to abandon her marriage life without a future, and live in Tokyo, where she had no relations, as a single mother with her child. But she couldn’t find any job where she can work while raising a baby. The days where even food was hard to come by continued. Living that bare minimum life, she made a decision.

And so, she became a pickpocket.

I don’t know if her fingers were so dexterous at the beginning. But, she was a genius at stealing. She first started on the transit buses, and gradually the Yamanote Line became her workplace. Her nickname among the police was “Swiping Hatsu.” The moment she stole a wallet from a purse was so skillfully masterful that you couldn’t even see it. She only targeted wealthy men, only stole watches and money, and left twenty percent of the money in the wallet instead of taking it all. She was kind, and distributed her earnings to her friends who were poor and in need. She didn’t even flinch from yakuza. There was a style. I feel like you could even call it an aesthetic.

Grandma used that money to nourish and raise my mother.

This isn’t an old story from a faraway country, but a story from sixties Tokyo. The image we have of the past was something like the Olympics and “Good Old Showa” type movies, but it was also a time were illnesses caused by pollution frequently occurred on the other side of prosperity.* An era where everyone was poor and rushed to become rich. When a large group raced forward without worrying about the details, it seemed that what was left behind in their tracks was a wasteland and the slow-footed.

(TN: This is a reference to the Four Big Pollution Diseases of Japan, which were commonplace in Japan in the 1950s and 60s due to environmental pollution created by corporations.)

Grandma was also someone who lived in that “wasteland.” Someone who was crowded out of and excluded from the blessings of post-war prosperity. In this corner of the country, as though left behind by the era, she was always alone.

In the early evening of a certain spring, Grandma, who was waiting for a job opportunity in the train station throng, saw a young woman waiting for the train by herself. She was a well-dressed young lady who was maybe twenty years old and looked somewhat otherworldly. There was a ring on her left ring finger.

When she fixed her hair, a bright pink stone glittered. It was a beautiful jewel, like the crimson clouds of sunset had melted into it.

At that moment, Grandma didn’t think that woman was a being who lived in the same world as her. She seemed like an angel who whimsically descended the stairway to heaven out of a little bit of curiosity.

Grandma got on the same train as that young lady.

In the time it took for the Yamanote Line to reach the next station, the ring became hers.

Usually, she didn’t keep what she stole and pawned it off, but that night, Grandma put the ring on her finger and gazed at it. It was an era where getting a ring when one got married was only for rich people. The tenement house mother and child lived in was four-mats* wide or less, and the bare lightbulbs were always flickering. She wouldn’t have had any opportunity to be fashionable for a long time.

(TN: Four mats is about 7.29 square meters.)

In the morning, Grandma still hadn’t taken the ring to the pawn shop, and put it in the rice bin.

About noon on that day, the train suddenly stopped while she was working. The area was noisy. When she asked what was going on, a well-informed friend quickly found out the story. Grandma caught her breath.

A woman had jumped. She was still young, and from a good family.

Because she lost her ring her fiancé gave her, to maintain the honour of both families, she apologized with her death and threw her body in front of the train. The friend laughed wryly, wondering exactly what time period did she believe she was living in, but Grandma didn’t even smile. It seemed that the young lady’s family members rushed to the location and prostrated themselves, making a huge scene. The young lady escaped death, but was seriously injured.

As soon as she heard it, she ran home. Apparently, she was thinking of getting the ring. However, right before she finally reached home, she was caught by the police who had been chasing her. The items she had earned that day were still in her pockets, so there was no room for excuses.

Instead of the ring, handcuffs were put on Grandma’s hands. She was sentenced to five years in jail. Five years for just pick-pocketing was an uncommonly long sentence. But, maybe Grandma’s “earnings” weren’t a sum small enough for them to overlook for reasons like having a young child or being a woman. It might had also meant to serve as a warning towards her other friends.

When Grandma returned from women’s prison, she was over forty years old. Her daughter Hiromi was in elementary school. Her nickname was “Yakuza.”* Everyone in her school knew why her mother was absent. That was because the ones who looked after her were Grandma’s old work friends.

The one Hiromi hated most in the world was her mother.

Grandma’s old friends, upon her release, gave her a welcome-back present. When she unwrapped the oil paper, there was a ring with a pink gem inside. It was the only thing the police hadn’t found and didn’t take with them in the end.

I wonder what were Grandma’s thoughts when she received that ring.

Afterwards, Hiromi graduated from school, became a nurse and got married. Her home moved from Tokyo to Saitama. A desired separate home and different surname. Perhaps those were her only reasons for wanting to get married. But her first husband—my father—was a wife-beating bastard, so she quickly divorced him after I was born. Even so, she was stubborn and did not return to live with her mother, only continuing to send back living expenses. When she was in the middle of forty years old, she remarried to Nakata-san, my second father. He worked for an excavating equipment company and has been engaged in oil field development in Indonesia for ten years. This time our home was in Machida. It was around the border between Tokyo and Kanagawa.

As ever, Hiromi continued to live separately from Grandma.

The situation changed when I was in my second year of middle school. Our apartment’s landlord contacted Hiromi with the news that Grandma was acting strange recently. Thinking back on it now, that was the beginning of her dementia. She was wandering aimlessly late at night, prepared food in the middle of the night, and spoke to herself in a loud voice.

Hiromi, who worked at a general hospital in Tokyo, collecting information on nursing homes in Tokyo for a while, but ended up only collecting, since in summer she showed Grandma into our home and so our two-person life became three. It wasn’t for long. Probably due to the change in the environment, her condition took a sudden turn at the end of autumn. Grandma incessantly cried and screamed, and reached the point where she was hitting her head against the wall. Hiromi admitted her into the hospital where she worked, and took care of her in spite of work.

In the summer of my first year of high school, Grandma died in hospital. It was a modest funeral, a ceremony with only us and our neighbours who helped us. Hiromi stubbornly didn’t allow Grandma’s old friends to be at the funeral.

It’s been three years since then. “Swiping Hatsu’s” grandson was accepted into a Tokyo university. While somewhat dreaming of becoming a government official in the future and letting his mother rest easy, he worked a part-time job at a television station, and by a curious coincidence, he met a blue-eyed jeweler.

“I didn’t take it to a big store because I was afraid that my mother would be contacted by some chance or other. If a young man was carrying around a ring by himself, people might get suspicious, and I don’t know what kind of face she’ll make if she knew it still existed.”

“Does your mother not know of the existence of the ring?”

“If she did, I’m afraid she’d have definitely donated it to the Red Cross or UNICEF a long time ago… It was hidden in the back of a dresser, and Grandma only showed it to me secretly. I retrieved it when I left home. It’s better than it being thrown away.”

Richard was drinking his mineral water extremely slowly, like he was drinking it on the rocks. My café au lait had about three millimetres left, somehow holding out. This was the first time I told this story to anyone.

“Did you get this story directly from your grandmother?”


Until I took advantage of my high school entrance exams to quit, I took karate lessons every week since third grade. My sensei was strict, but training was fun, and better than everything else, Hiromi wouldn’t get angry at me even when I came home late on training days. When training was over, I would change trains and go play at Grandma’s apartment.

I loved my Grandma. For some reason, Hiromi hated even going to visit her for Obon and New Year’s, and she was so clearly avoiding her mother that even a little kid could see it, but Grandma was always kind to me. She was petite but strong, scary when she got angry, and had a different air than the “grannies” in my friends’ homes, but she always delightedly welcomed me whenever I visited.

She always used to say “You mustn’t do bad things” and “Because there will be punishment.”

She always had lonely-looking eyes.

I heard about her pickpocketing from Grandma’s old friend. When I was in fifth grade and on the way home from the apartment, I was suddenly told by an old man I had never met before that Grandma was an amazing woman. That was when I learned that there were many people who acted as a foster parent to my mother. And that those people also weren’t doing entirely honest business. And about a “great bargain”.

“After that, I was told little by little about her past stories. I pestered her. The story about the ring was told to me later, but I’m afraid I’m the only one who knows that story…”

For me, who didn’t know much about dementia nor understood it really, living with Grandma was like a dream. Back then, she was my hero, and my mother was an awful person who acted self-important even though she tended to be away from home.

In the autumn of my second year of middle school, when I told my mother that since I didn’t have to go to high school, I wanted to work, I got a huge scolding. She said, “I’m working hard so that I can definitely send you all the way to university, but it’s all for nothing if you’re going to be like that!” I, who lost it, snapped back that I would not look after her, since I was going to live strongly and boldly like Grandma. Hiromi was livid and we grappled with each other, finally stopping when Grandma intervened. Hiromi stormed outside.

Tears were streaming down Grandma’s face.

“She was furious. She was truly furious. I can clearly remember her face and voice at that moment. ‘I am a terrible example. Seigi, you must not copy me.’ That was the day she told me about the ring. Grandma kept crying as she told me. She was so frantic, like she couldn’t be released from a curse that was put on her until she told it all the way until the end…it was terrifying.”

You mustnt do bad things.  

Because there will be punishment.

Hiromi didn’t return that night, and went straight to her workplace in the morning, and so the next time we saw each other was the evening of the next day. When I apologized, she looked like she had completely forgotten everything and made a heap of curry. And so, she sent me all the way to university like that.

I remembered that at the funeral, as I watched the smoke of crematory, I wondered why Grandma didn’t rid of the ring.

In the back of the bottom drawer of the dresser, behind the hidden partition, there was not just the ring box, but also a prisoner number tag with the name of the prison. That was still in the dresser.

How good it would be if one could be released from one’s sins in heart as well as body just by taking the prescribed punishment.

“If you can determine that the possibility of it being a stolen is high, then surely the records of transaction for the ring still remain. I looked through old newspapers and searched for attempted suicides by jumping, but it all led nowhere, so I didn’t expect you’d find out that much.”

“I would like you to not use a mere jeweler for strange cases. Records for excellent items remain for a long time, even if they are old.”

“…So it is a high-quality thing. I have a request. Could you please search for the original owner of this ring? I want to return it to them no matter what. It can’t make up for what was done in the past, but…”

For Grandma, and for this ring, it was surely better for it to be returned to where it should be.

When I was in elementary school, I didn’t like my name all that much. A classmate witnessed me guiding an old man who lost his way and mocked me with, as expected of the champion of justice, what a good boy! I was so embarrassed I wanted to die. I didn’t especially do it with that in mind.

It was right on a karate practice day, so I confided in Grandma. Why was I laughed for helping people? I was even mocked for it. Grandma looked at me with fire-like eyes. When I braced myself, wondering if she was going to get angry, she quietly laughed and patted my head.

She said, Im proud of you, Seigi——.

Those words saved me. It wasn’t wrong to want to be someone’s strength. But now I’m thinking about something else. Grandma’s regrets. Her pain. The irreversible past.

“Please. I want to put an end to this.”

Richard put down his glass of mineral water. His eyelids were filled with a little bit of strength, and his expression turned stern.

“From here on, I will not treat you as a client, but an acquaintance. Do you mind that?”

“…Please go ahead.”

“Well then, Seigi.”

His blue eyes looked straight at me. I sat up straight at that strength that seemed to pierce through me.

“You said you have a part-time job, but when will you be free? I do not believe that you would have a shift every night. If you do not have the time, give a suitable reason and take a day of absence.”

“…Um, I don’t quite follow.”

“There is someone I want you to meet. Their location is in Kobe.”

“Kobe…you mean, that Kobe?”

“Hyogo Prefecture’s Kobe.”

Why so sudden? The image of Kobe hammered into me was Kobe beef and ijinkan.* I knew no one there. My class trips in middle and high school were to Kyoto and Nara.

(TN: Ijinkan are historical Western-style mansions in Kobe. Most of them are now museums.)

Richard stared intently at me.

By some chance, he already knew.

“…Do you know about them? The ring, I mean. And the original owner.”

“As soon as you know when it would be convenient for you, please contact me. The sooner the better. I will get back to you. I also do not mind if you come with your mother.”

I compared Richard’s blue eyes with the pink sapphire.

I felt that the gears of time that had stopped in Tokyo of a half century ago were grinding once more to a start.

After I got the answering machine three times in a row, the line finally connected.

“Why did you call so much? Did you catch a cold? Or is this a phone scam?”

“It’s the real deal. I’m healthy. Are you doing fine, Hiromi?”

“Don’t call your mother by her name. I’m as fit as a fiddle.”

“That’s good to hear.”

After going through my dark rebellious phase and my high school years like doing a three-legged race on a long bumpy road, now Hiromi and I got on with each other like we were war buddies. I thought I contacted my mother and returned home more frequently than university students with their mothers anywhere, but it didn’t feel like we were poking our noses in each other’s business in various ways. If you were fine, then it was all fine. I often went home because I thought it was better for crime prevention for a young man to frequently visit the apartment of a lone woman who tended to be away from home. But there would practically be nothing worth stealing from that home. Even when things were tight, Hiromi donated to the Red Cross and UNICEF every month. We were a frugal family.

“Putting that aside, I planned on going back tomorrow.”

“Oh, that’s right. My co-worker has to take time off work for mourning, so I will be the one standing in for them. You can come back, but I won’t be there.”


Richard said that he would like me to contact him as soon as possible.

How should I talk about this with her? The topic of Grandma’s past was the same as a landmine to Hiromi. I might not be able to talk about it directly to her.

Even so, if I let the present get away, I surely wouldn’t get another chance.”

“Um…I do want to talk about Grandma, though.”

“Why are you bringing her up?”

“Well, that’s because…”

The topic of Grandma. The topic of Grandma’s past. The topic Hiromi hated.

If I went home, there would be a small Buddhist altar. There would also be a kagezen offered to her.* But there were no portraits.

(TN: A kagezen is food served at meal time for a deceased family member.)

“What do you think of Grandma?”

“…What do you mean, ‘what,’ she’s my mother.”

 “I know that, but…”

“I don’t think it has anything to do with you. Anything else? I’m tired.”

Nothing to do with me.

I felt my stomach turn cold.

That’s right. Certainly, in this world, there were people who held the image of someone absolutely unforgivable to them close to their hearts. Probably not quite so few people. Hiromi was undoubtedly one of them. Her “unforgivable person” was her own mother. If necessary, she’d eat with her. If necessary, she’d take care of her. If need be, she’d even speak to her. When it was necessary.

Living together and being a family in heart and spirit were two different things—I learned that from watching her.

But for me, Grandma was the only blood relative I had, other than Hiromi. She was my companion who I spent more time with than with my father, and more than anything, she was my true Grandma.

And yet, she said it had nothing to do with me?

“…I’m not going to go home tomorrow after all.”

“Gooooot it. Well? If you don’t need anything else, I’m going to bed.”

“Okay. Night.”

Hiromi hung up before me.

With the finger that pressed the call button, I texted Richard. I wrote that my shifts for my job next month were pending, so I can get off work anytime next month, and that for the closest day off, I have tomorrow free. That last sentence might have been unnecessary.

Just when I was thinking about drinking green tea or something for the first time in a long while, a reply came. It was strangely quick.

“Tomorrow, ten a.m., Tokyo Station Yaesu ticket gate. You must bring the ring with you.”

The signature “Richard” in katakana was at the end of his text. I felt like I was reading too much into the wrong part. Tomorrow? Really? Was it okay? And to begin with, where exactly in Kobe were we going to?

He said that he was ending client mode. It seemed that from now on, I would not be treated as an honored customer.

For the first time in a long while, I boiled hot water in the kettle and made tea. The ring box was still on the table. I opened the lid, placed a teacup so that it could be dedicated, and placed my hands together. Afterwards, I responded to Richard with “Got it”, and downed my hot tea with a gulp.

Richard, waiting at the Yaesu gate, expressionlessly said “Late” to me, who was three minutes late. He was wearing a grey three-piece suit. Instead of the suitcase, he was carrying a leather bag. Without even minding me, who was panicking over coming in an open-necked shirt and jeans, he told me that we were heading off and held light blue tickets and train station box lunches. Reserved seat tickets. Hakata Line. The box lunch with beef tsukudani* and scrambled eggs placed on top was delicious down to the individual grains of rice.

(TN: Tsukudani is food that’s been simmered in soy sauce.)

Sitting window-side next to the dumbfounded me, the jeweler hung his suit on a hook. He was just stuffing his mouth with strangely delicious-looking fruit sandwich with strawberries, melons, and yellow peaches before falling asleep before I knew it. It seemed like I met many forced smiles saying, “Oh, sorry, not you” when I turned my head to shrill voices squealing, “So hot!” I considered “accidentally” poking him and waking him up, but I stopped myself because I was too mature. I was sure he was making today’s arrangements until late at night.

It was after one in the afternoon when we reached Shin-Kobe Station on the Shinkansen line. Richard, who had woken up, looked refreshed. He calmly and confidently got into a taxi, and handed an address to the driver.

“We will arrive in about twenty minutes.”

“…It’s too late to ask this now, but who are we going to meet?”

“You will know when you meet them.”

Maybe I should have woken him up.

The taxi began to leave the station. After ten minutes, we approached an incredible corner. A row of only large detached houses with gardens. They all looked like old Western architecture. I suppose this was the so-called Yashikichou or the foreigners’ quarter.

Our taxi stopped in front of a garden with richly colored flowers in blooming gloriously.

“It’s here? It’s really here?” My whispered question was in vain. Richard paid the driver and got out of the taxi, and then pressed the intercom button next to the door. The security camera above our heads made whirring sounds as they moved, and the automatically locked doors opened. When Richard turned back to me and said, “This way,” I accepted my fate and prepared myself. I could only entrust my person to the flow of the situation.

The garden was like a watercolor painter’s palette, and it was filled with the scent of greenery. There were flowerpots with pansies planted together, light pink climbing roses twined around an arch, and a cherry tree that looked older than the house. In addition, there were flowers whose names I did not know—blue flowers, red flowers with round petals, and double-flowered white flowers. A stone path that led to a genuine Western-style two-storied building was laid out to meander between the plants. When we reached the entrance of the mansion, the door opened too quickly.

“Yes? Oh!”

A refined woman in her forties saw the jeweler and smiled, saying, “Aren’t you Richard-san?” She seemed to know him by sight. She had a straw hat atop long hair and was wearing a yellow apron. She seemed to be about to garden.

“So you’ve come to Japan. Do you have an appointment with the master today?”

“It has been a long time since I’ve seen or got in touch with you. I have come for an appointment with the mistress of the house.”

“Mother…?* I wonder what could it be about. And this young man over here is?”

(TN: The mother here refers to her mother-in-law.)

“A guest of the mistress.”

“Oh, now that you mention it…ah, yes, I was told that a guest will be calling on Mother today. You must be the one. I thought it surely must be the tea master…oh my. Oh my.”

The woman, who kept repeating “Oh my” at my bowed head, introduced herself as Miyashita Kimiko.

“Please, there’s no need for that, come in. I will have tea brought to you now.”

On the other side of the door, a world perfectly suited to a big garden spread before me. Oil paints on the wall. Flowers I had never seen before in porcelain vases. There might even be maids if I looked for them.

“This way, please. What brought you here today?”

While being forcefully prompted by a man suited to work in a Western-style house, we passed through a dining room as wide as a conference room and proceeded to the back room, where Richard adjusted his clothing and glanced at me. It seemed to hold the meaning of “do the same thing.” After I hurriedly smoothed down my hair, Richard knocked on a heavy door. A young woman who looked to be a maid told us that she had brought the person we had an appointment with, then bowed.

Following Richard, I went through the door.

The room was white.

Lace curtains. A round rug that stretched far. Sofas of various sizes with white covers on them. Small ornaments by the window. A faint sweet floral scent.

In the middle of it all was a woman in a wheelchair.

“Welcome. I am Miyashita Tae. I apologize for meeting you while sitting down.”

The beautiful elderly lady was sitting in a wheelchair. Over her white blouse was a bright green cardigan, and more than half of her white hair was gently fastened back with a tortoiseshell hair ornament. A lace lap blanket covered her legs. She was probably close to seventy. She was a small person.

Richard bent his knee deeply, and bowed his head like a knight who was granted audience with his Queen.

“I feel delighted to be able to see you again. I have come to deliver the promised item. Seigi, come here.”

“…I am honored to meet you. My name is Nakata Seigi.”

Miyashita-san smiled at me, whose mouth and eyes were gaping open and shut while bowing my head.

“I heard about everything from the phone call from Richard-san. I see you know about me.”

It was this person.

The young lady who jumped in front of a train to maintain the honor of two families, who Grandma stole the ring from—however, that was almost half a century ago.

“Seigi, tell Miyashita-sama about your grandmother. Make it a bit shorter than what you told me in the coffee shop before.”

“I do not mind if you go slowly. Seigi-san, please take a seat in any chair you like. Richard-san, please take a look at the garden if you have time. The climbing roses in their last days are still beautiful.”

“If it does not disturb you, I shall stay here.”

Miyashita-san cracked a smile. I checked Richard-san’s face to see if this was really, truly okay. The jeweler made an expression that said, Why are you asking me now, and jerked his chin slightly.

After I sat down on one of the covered sofas, Miyashita-san wheeled herself over and arrived next to me. Against her skin that was so white it seemed faded, there was a soft smile on her face.

I told the story of Grandma one more time.

Why did she pickpocket. What kind of person was she. How much she suffered. How she was gentle to me. To have her understand Grandma’s feelings of regret and apology. But absolutely not to make it seem like a justification.

I had no confidence that I did it well, but Miyashita-san was silent as she listened.

Her bony hand gripped mine throughout the whole story. She was nodding and wiping her tears many times.

Right when I was telling the part where I entrusted the ring to Richard, who I had met by chance, the room’s cuckoo clock lightly sounded. It sounded two times. Apparently, it sounded once at a half hour. A full hour had passed. When I turned to Richard, he was with the woman from before, standing at the door to the room and silently watching the two of us. The maid was holding a tray with coffee. It seemed that Miyashita-san had been stopping her with her eyes.

“…Katakura-san, some water please. Oh, there is a lot of it coming out of my eyes.”

“Seigi, you were speaking for too long. Madam, please do not overexert yourself.”

“It is alright, Richard-san. If there is a reason for why my life has continued until now, it surely must be for today.”

While Miyashita-san rehydrated with a flower-patterned teacup, I stood up and accepted coffee, quenching my thirst. It had become lukewarm. I felt like I had used my mouth enough for a lifetime in these two days. That something I had thought I would be taking with me to the grave. Given to someone who I almost met for the first time, and someone I really did meet for the first time. But in my recollections, she was someone I knew for a long time.

I returned the cup and was standing dazed. Richard poked my shoulder. That’s right. The ring.

I took out the jewelry box from my bag. I showed the pink sapphire ring to Miyashita-san. 

Miyashita-san laughed gently and gently held out her right hand. When I placed the ring on the palm of her hand, she picked it up between the fingers of her left hand and held it up to the lily-of-the-valley-shaped chandelier. The beautifully cut gemstone sparkled in the hand of its true owner.

Miyashita-san smiled a satisfied-looking smile.

And then, she returned the ring to my hand.

“This is something you should keep.”

Miyashita-san urged me, whose eyes were wide open, to sit down.

And so this time, it was she who began a long story.

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