Little Butterfly

by Paul Young


As Benjamin Pinkerton lay dying, he reached out and took his son Phillip’s hand.  He then said to his son, “I have Suffered guilt for many years for what I did to your Mother.  It is my dying wish that you go to the little village near Nagasaki.  Once there, you are to look for the grave of your Mother, and ask her forgiveness for me what was done to her.”

Phillip Pinkerton boarded the ship that would take him to Nagasaki.   He watched from the deck of the ship people waving good bye to family and friends.  Phillip had no one to wave good bye to; he knew that it was going to be a long and lonely trip.  He brought along two novels by his favorite author, Charles Dickens, to pass the time and keep him company.  Phillip lay down till it was time to go to dinner.   Catherine Bronte’s parents waved good bye to their daughter. They were very unhappy knowing that she was making the trip to Nagasaki alone.

When Phillip awoke he dressed and went to dinner. After dinner he decided to take a walk around the ship. As he came around a corner Phillip noticed a woman standing by the railing of the ship looking out at the ocean, her beauty did not escape his eye.  He was afraid of disturbing her, so Phillip walked past her very quickly.

The next day at lunch, Phillip saw the same woman at the next table. She did not appear to be engaged in much conversation with the people that were seated around her.  After lunch Phillip wanted to get some exercise, and went for a walk around the deck of the ship.  Again he came across the woman standing at the railing of the ship, looking out at the ocean.  Phillip was pretty sure at this point, that the woman wasn’t with anyone on the ship.  Phillip knew it would be a very bold thing for him to do but he threw caution to the wind and went to introduce himself to her.

“Excuse me ma’am, my name is Phillip Pinkerton and I know this is very forward of me. But I would be very honored if you were to have afternoon tea with me.”

Catherine knew this was a bit strange, but she also knew that it was going to be a long and lonely trip without someone to talk with. So she answered,

“My name is Catherine Bronte and I would be pleased to except your invitation to tea.”

Phillip said he would meet Catherine in the area where tea was to be served. They both said good day to each other and went to their Staterooms.  Phillip could not believe that Catherine had accepted his invitation to tea. Knowing this he was too excited to take an afternoon nap, instead he started to read one of the Charles Dickens novels.  Having tea with Catherine was very pleasant. When the tea was over, Phillip and Catherine went to the deck area and sat in deck chairs. Phillip asked Catherine what was her destination.   And Catherine replied she was traveling to Nagasaki, Phillip then said that was his destination also.

“What is the objective of your visit to Nagasaki?” Catherine asked.

Phillip explained to Catherine why he was going to Nagasaki by telling her the story of his Father’s dying wish.   Phillip then asked Catherine what was her reason for going to Nagasaki. Catherine’ face took on a look of sadness, but she still explained the reason to Phillip for her trip to Nagasaki.

“My husband Robert worked in the service of the American Government.  Robert loved his job, but he would never tell me anything about his job or what he did. He would only say that he would tell me someday. Then one day about a month ago, I received a telegram from the US Government that my husband had been assassinated and his ashes were being held at the American Consul in Nagasaki.”

Phillip said he was very sorry for her loss. They both then decided it was time to go watch the sunset.  Catherine and Phillip continued to have their meals, conversations, walks and sunsets together.  The night before they were to arrive in Nagasaki they had dinner together and decided that if it were possible they would try and take the same ship back to America.  When the ship docked in the Nagasaki harbor, Phillip and Catherine walked down the gangplank and went their separate ways to do what they had come to do.


With the information and direction his Father had given him, Phillip found the village and inn.

After Phillip had checked in, he went to dinner.

The innkeeper asked, “What is the reason for your visit to our village?”

“I have come to find my Mother’s grave”, replied Phillip.

“What was your Mother’s name?” the innkeeper inquired.

“Her name was Butterfly”, answered Phillip.

“I knew your Mother”, the innkeeper stated. The innkeeper did not tell Phillip that he was Butterfly’s brother-in-law.  Phillip was given directions to the cemetery, and where to find Butterfly’s grave.  He thanked the innkeeper, and then went back to his room.

Standing at the window in his room, Phillip looked out at beautiful moon.  In his head Phillip could hear his Mother’s voice singing a song that she had sung to him as a child.

The following day Phillip located the cemetery and the grave. He sat down on a bench at the foot of his Mother’s grave.  Phillip, in deep thought, did not notice an older woman approaching the grave.

“What is your name, and why do you come to this grave?” the woman demanded to know.

Phillip was surprised by the woman, but managed to tell her that his name was Phillip Pinkerton, and that Butterfly was his Mother.

“May I sit down?” the woman asked.  “Has your Father ever told you what he did to your Mother?”, the older woman inquired.

“My Father has died, and the only thing he ever told me, was that my mother loved me very much,” Phillip replied.

“Then I will tell you the story of your Mother and Father,” said the woman.  “Your Mother loved your Father, and gave up her family and her religion to become his wife, and then your father betrayed her.   She believed he was coming back to take you and your mother to America, but he arrived with an American wife, and they tore you from your mother’s arms and took you to America.  Your mother then believed she had no reason to live without you and your father.  To her she had only one choice and that was to take her own life.”  With a pause she continued,

“Phillip I am your mother’s sister and my name is Chrysanthemum.  I am also the wife of the innkeeper where you are staying.  May I give you a hug and kiss for your mother?

My husband and I hope you will return some day, to meet more of your family members.”

Phillip made a promise to Chrysanthemum that he would return some day.  Arm-in-arm Chrysanthemum and Phillip walked out the cemetery together.

Chrysanthemum and Phillip went back to the inn in the village. His aunt introduced Phillip to his uncle.  The three of them had a nice lunch and conversation together.  After lunch Phillip said goodbye to his aunt and uncle, and started back to Nagasaki.  He arrived there in early evening.

Phillip went to the hotel where Catherine was staying.  He got a room, and then went to Catherine’s room. Phillip knocked on her door, when Catherine answered the door she was very pleased to see him.  Phillip then invited her to dinner. During dinner Catherine and Phillip related the results of their objectives that had brought them to Nagasaki.  Phillip said to Catharine that he had learned a lot about his Mother and her family. Catherine explained to Phillip that her experience was a very emotional one. Catherine said she was given her husband’s ashes, but nothing was said about his assassination. The only thing that was explained to her was that he had served his country honorably and died a hero.

Catherine informed Phillip that their ship was to leave tomorrow, then they returned to their rooms.  Phillip and Catherine boarded the ship in late afternoon the next day for their return trip back to the United States. They spent a lot of time together on the trip back to America.

On the last night of their trip, they had a nice dinner together, and then went to watch the sunset.

Phillip walked Catherine back to her Stateroom.  At the door Phillip asked Catherine if he could give her a kiss goodbye, and Catherine said yes. Then Catherine took a calling card out of her purse, it had her name on the front and her address on the back. She gave the calling card to Phillip and said she hoped that they would continue to become good friends.

When the Ship docked the next day, Catherine walked down the gangplank carrying her husband’s ashes. There to meet Catherine were her parents. They were very happy that their daughter had returned home safe. When Phillip walked down the gangplank there was no one to greet him and welcome him home. But Phillip was not unhappy about this, because he knew his life was about to take on a new beginning with Catherine.




Paul Young is 68 and is interested in reading, photography, art, music and life.