It was a rare sight.
Kanda area Kandaku in Jimbocho, i was visiting a bookstore district that was built during the reconstruction after the great fire of 1912. A student caught my eye.
In addition to universities such as Meiji University and Chuo University, there were many junior high schools and vocational schools in Kanda, so it was not surprising that there were students around.
However, that girl. Yes, a girl who looked like she was only 12 or 13 years old and that she had just graduated from elementary school, would be in a bookstore that sold books written in German, French and English. It can be said that it was rare for a girl like her to visit a specialty store that only sells foreign books not written in Japanese.
The reason why I knew that the young girl was a schoolgirl was because she was wearing a white summer sailor suit.
Until a few years ago, when it came to schoolgirls, most of them were dressed in meisen kimonos and female hakama.
I don’t know which girl’s school it was, but the sailor uniform with a large collar that seemed a little big for a girl. Her white sleeves and below-the-knee skirt showed thin, fragile limbs that seemed to float vaguely between the dimly lit shelves.
The girl with long black hair in two braids took a step forward, stopped, and looked up at the shelf. Perhaps because of her short stature, it was difficult for her to see the top shelf.
‘What kind of book is she looking for?’ I thought… ‘Wait, wait,’ I asked myself again. ‘Does she understand foreign languages in the first place?’
Her young profile was terribly serious, and it made me hesitate to talk to her.
Looking around, it seemed I was not the only one that felt that way.
The male students in western clothes and hakama who were around seemed to be having a good time.
Of course, I didn’t have any companions to fight with, so after looking at the little girl sideways, I turned my attention back to the shelf in front of me.
I was curious, but it’s not like I planned to get involved.
Following the bookshelf’s Alphabetical order with my eyes, where the German books were placed, but before long I could see the girl reaching for the upper shelf. There were books on the shelf that she couldn’t reach even if she stretched as hard as she could.
The male students still showed no signs of moving. It would be a good opportunity to help and start a conversation.
I let out a sigh, then i ended up moving closer because I was the closest to the girl.
“Which book do you want?”
I approached the girl with a few steps and called out to her even though I knew it was rude.
Immediately, the girl jumped up, her shoulders raised in surprise and she looked up at me. Her eyes were wide open, like fawn eyes with slightly raised eyes.
In the dimly lit room, the brilliance and the boundaries of the pupils melted together, and dark eyes with a weak light were staring at me.
The girl was dumbfounded for a while, but eventually caught her breath and stepped back a little as if she was on guard. She, well, she was suddenly called out to by a boy she didn’t know, so it was natural for her to be wary.
To show that I had no other intentions than helping, I offered, “If you don’t mind, I’ll take the book for you.” She hesitantly, but pointed with the index finger of her right hand, which was stretched out on the shelf, and answered in a low voice.
“’Kinder- und Hausmärchen’…”
I was deeply impressed by the beautiful German pronunciation that came out of the young girl’s mouth.
I see it was appropriate to be in a store specializing in foreign books.
“Do you like Grimm’s fairy tales?” I asked politely.
“Do you know?” Surprised that I knew about the book, she asked back.
In response to the question being asked, the question was answered in reverse. This was probably because not many people knew the official title of the original book, which was generally translated as “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” in Japan.
After nodding and affirming, the girl’s face suddenly lit up. As if she had found her friend, the caution she felt earlier faded from her eyes.
I picked up the book on the shelf with the title written in gold letters on the top shelf and handed it over to her. I was suddenly intrigued by her happy expression.
“I like it so much that I read the original,” She said.
“It helped me learn German” she continued after a bit of thought.
“Do you have a question?” I asked..
“Yes,” she replied, taking some time to think about it before she continued.
“Because, when the prince came, it would be ruined if Princess Thorn’s sleeping posture was bad, wouldn’t it?
In the first place, if you sleep in the same position for a hundred years, you may get bedsores, and you may need to roll over. The same is true for kings and queens, dogs and horses.”
“Oh, oh…” I said, visibly intrigued.
The momentum of the girl who suddenly became bold and talkative did not stop. “She wasn’t in the translation, so I thought the original would have more detail,” she continued.
While being taken aback by the girl’s momentum, I thought, “What a strange little girl.”
I don’t think it was written in the original. After all, it was a story, a reading material for children in which fairies and magic that couldn’t exist in reality appear.
I thought about it, but I also felt bad about interfering with the girl’s lively sparkle and childlike curiosity.
“I think it’s better to tie your legs with a string to improve your sleeping position. Just like how women tie their knees so that they don’t mess with the hem of their kimono when they commit suicide…”
“No, wait, you.”
I withdrew my previous statement as I hastily interrupted.
A dangerous word like suicide popped out from the girl’s pale pink lips, and the gazes of the surrounding people looked in my direction, wondering what was going on. While I put my index finger on her lip to shut her up, I said.
“I think you’ve said too much.”
The girl seemed to come to her senses, and hurriedly covered her mouth with both hands. It was a cute gesture, but now that I saw the strange side of the girl, I had no choice but to look at her with a complicated expression.
“I-I’m so rude, I… Ah, I’ve already been warned by my brother again and again…”
The blushing and embarrassed girl became a little pitiful and showed a soothing smile.
“Well, I think it’s a very good thing to be interested and investigate,” I said in an attempt to calm her down.
“……Is that so?” She replied, visibly surprised.
The girl remained troubled, but she cast her eyes down as if she felt reluctant.
“Thank you very much,” she shyly thanked me again.
I met such a strange girl at the end of July in the 12th year of Taisho.
About a month later, at 11:58 a.m. on September 1st, a violent tremor hit the southern part of the Kanto region.
It was an unprecedented disaster, later called the Great Kanto Earthquake. The earthquake that devastated the imperial capital, Tokyo, and caused many deaths and missing people will leave deep scars in the hearts of the city and the people.
And at that time, I had no way of knowing that it would be the opportunity to reunite with her.
I guess it was fate at work.