Mrs. Uno, of Dunbriar Manor, worried, quite naturally, about her children. She’d two of them. Shoma, the oldest, impish and improbably stubborn, and Itsuki, the youngest, absorbed in books and fond of the outdoors and wandering. Both rather liked games too much. She fretted they may seem ill-bred. But her children dressed well for their station and had perfect manners and comportment. She and their governess, elegant Miss Higuchi, had seen to that.
Still she despaired. Not so much for the youngest, for a bookish, albeit ambling, gentleman with a decent allowance could find a wife. It was the oldest which made her wake up at night and wander the halls of Dunbriar, pacing and muttering what was to be done , what was to be done , until Mr. Uno collected her back to bed, saying she was worrying too much.
But the fact was Shoma was not like their sibling. No, Shoma felt they were both male and female in bearing. They were, one day, a handsome young dandy, in waist and tailcoats and necktie. The next they would transform into a beautiful girl, enjoying frocks and dresses and a coral necklace. They would often be seen in town on a summer’s day, carrying their parasol.
“Good day M. Uno,” the townsfolk would say, for Shoma’s joint existence had long been accepted and become part of the fabric of life for those in Norbury. “M.” was simply Shoma’s honorific, no matter the occasion, just as their pronouns were “they” and “theirs”.
Mrs. Uno had at first rejected Shoma’s inclinations towards femaleness and maleness, saying it was a “folly”. She said it because she was afraid of men with shovels, for instance, coming after her child and beating them. She thought if she persuaded Shoma not to do this, they would stop, and be safe. It was through the coaxing of Mr. Uno that Mrs. Uno came to see that letting Shoma be their dual form was a good thing, however unusual. It made Shoma happier, and this in itself made Mrs. Uno happier to see her child smiling more.
Still, there was the question of marriage. Who would find the prospect of marrying a young gentleman and a young lady appealing? It seemed impossible. It seemed likely that Dunbriar would have no natural heirs through Shoma, and the estate would pass to one of Itsuki’s children. Which wasn’t bad , as her husband consoled her. What was bad, she always argued, was Shoma being left alone, without a companion.
“My dear, all will be well,” Mr. Uno said. “Shoma is quite loveable no matter their guise.”
Her husband’s assurances allayed some of her fears, but, she decided the person who wed Shoma would have to be somewhat extraordinary.