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Lifting Ìsho’s minuscule weight from the puddle of vomit and urine soaking into the grass, I made sure he was dead, tucked him into my sleeve where he belonged, and told the wretched poppet, really quite steadily, Ìsho would not be able to play with her anymore. The mission’s chargé d’affaires, an often clever woman who had been outre-mer nearly as long as I, sent me downriver to Oesei on the Turquoise Gulf to meet him.
Having read the same dispatches, I understood her cleverness led her to believe we would be sympathetic, the envoy travelling with his inamorato and I.
At the gate of the White Peonies vicinage the old grandfather nodded me through politely and I went on to Blue Lamp Street where I rented my small house.
She was surprised by a kè-torantin attired in Haisner fashion who spoke her language, recognized her deities, saints, tutelary spirits.
I would not, could not, ask of him services outside the terms if they were anything I desired. “Shàu,” I said, “here, take this.” I pressed the small idol of pug-nosed Jù into his hand. A songbird, a chameleon, a goldfish in a bowl, a cricket in a cage—whatever you choose. I walked to the plum tree at the back of the garden, pressed my brow to its trunk, and tightened my eyelids against tears of my own.