CHAPTER 10 : Part 1 – Shogun

CHAPTER 10 : Part 1 – Shogun

 Their journey from the bay to Osaka was uneventful. Rodrigues’ rutters were explicit and very accurate. During the first night Rodrigues regained consciousness. In the beginning he thought he was dead but the pain soon reminded him differently.

  “They’ve set your leg and dressed it,” Blackthorne said. “And your shoulder’s strapped up. It was dislocated. They wouldn’t bleed you, much as I tried to make them.”

  “When I get to Osaka the Jesuits can do that.” Rodrigues’ tormented eyes bored into him. “How did I get here, Ingeles? I remember going overboard but nothing else.”

  Blackthorne told him.

  “So now I owe you a life. God curse you.”

  “From the quarterdeck it looked as though we could make the bay. From the bow, your angle of sight would be a few degrees different. The wave was bad luck.”

  “That doesn’t worry me, Ingeles. You had the quarterdeck, you had the helm. We both knew it. No, I curse you to hell because I owe you a life now—Madonna, my leg!” Tears welled because of the pain and Blackthorne gave him a mug of grog and watched him during the night, the storm abating. The Japanese doctor came several times and forced Rodrigues to drink hot medicine and put hot towels on his forehead and opened the portholes. And every time the doctor went away Blackthorne closed the portholes, for everyone knew that disease was airborne, that the tighter closed the cabin the safer and more healthy, when a man was as bad as Rodrigues.

  At length the doctor shouted at him and posted a samurai on the portholes so they remained open.

  At dawn Blackthorne went on deck. Hiro-matsu and Yabu were both there. He bowed like a courtier. “Konnichi wa. Osaka?”

  They bowed in return. “Osaka. Hai, Anjin-san,” Hiro-matsu said.

  “Hai! Isogi, Hiro-matsu-sama. Captain-san! Weigh anchor!”

  “Hai, Anjin-san!”

  He smiled involuntarily at Yabu. Yabu smiled back, then limped away and Blackthorne thought, that’s one hell of a man, although he’s a devil and a murderer. Aren’t you a murderer, too? Yes—but not that way, he told himself.

  Blackthorne conned the ship to Osaka with ease. The journey took that day and the night and just after dawn the next day they were near the Osaka roads. A Japanese pilot came aboard to take the ship to her wharf so, relieved of his responsibility, he gladly went below to sleep.

  Later the captain shook him awake, bowed, and pantomimed that Blackthorne should be ready to go with Hiro-matsu as soon as they docked.

  “Wakarimasu ka, Anjin-san?”


  The seaman went away. Blackthorne stretched his back, aching, then saw Rodrigues watching him.

  “How do you feel?”

  “Good, Ingeles. Considering my leg’s on fire, my head’s bursting, I want to piss, and my tongue tastes like a barrel of pig shit looks.”

  Blackthorne gave him the chamber pot, then emptied it out the porthole. He refilled the tankard with grog.

  “You make a foul nurse, Ingeles. It’s your black heart.” Rodrigues laughed and it was good to hear him laugh again. His eyes went to the rutter that was open on the desk, and to his sea chest. He saw that it had been unlocked. “Did I give you the key?”

  “No. I searched you. I had to have the true rutter. I told you when you woke the first night.”

  “That’s fair. I don’t remember, but that’s fair. Listen, Ingeles, ask any Jesuit where Vasco Rodrigues is in Osaka and they’ll guide you to me. Come to see me—then you can make a copy of my rutter, if you wish.”

  “Thanks. I’ve already taken one. At least, I copied what I could, and I’ve read the rest very carefully.”

  “Thy mother!” Rodrigues said in Spanish.

  “And thine.”

  Rodrigues turned to Portuguese again. “Speaking Spanish makes me want to retch, even though you can swear better in it than any language. There’s a package in my sea chest. Give it to me, please.”

  “The one with the Jesuit seals?”


  He gave it to him. Rodrigues studied it, fingering the unbroken seals, then seemed to change his mind and put the package on the rough blanket under which he lay, leaning his head back again. “Ah, Ingeles, life is so strange.”


  “If I live, it is because of God’s grace, helped by a heretic and a Japman. Send the sod-eater below so I can thank him, eh?”


  “All right.”

  “This fleet of yours, the one you claim’s attacking Manila, the one you told the Father about—what’s the truth, Ingeles?”

  “A fleet of our warships’ll wreck your Empire in Asia, won’t it?”

  “Is there a fleet?”

  “Of course.”

  “How many ships were in your fleet?”

  “Five. The rest are out to sea, a week or so. I came ahead to probe Japan and got caught in the storm.”

  “More lies, Ingeles. But I don’t mind—I’ve told my captors as many. There are no more ships or fleets.”

  “Wait and see.”

  “I will.” Rodrigues drank heavily.

  Blackthorne stretched and went to the porthole, wanting to stop this conversation, and looked out at the shore and the city. “I thought London was the biggest city on earth, but compared to Osaka it’s a small town.”

  “They’ve dozens of cities like this one,” Rodrigues said, also glad to stop the cat-and-mouse game that would never bear fruit without the rack. “Miyako, the capital, or Kyoto as it’s sometimes called, is the biggest city in the Empire, more than twice the size of Osaka, so they say. Next comes Yedo, Toranaga’s capital. I’ve never been there, nor any priest or Portuguese—Toranaga keeps his capital locked away—a forbidden city. Still,” Rodrigues added, lying back in his bunk and closing his eyes, his face stretched with pain, “still, that’s no different to everywhere. All Japan’s officially forbidden to us, except the ports of Nagasaki and Hirado. Our priests rightly don’t pay much attention to the orders and go where they please. But we seamen can’t or traders, unless it’s on a special pass from the Regents, or a great daimyo, like Toranaga. Any daimyo can seize one of our ships—like Toranaga’s got yours—outside of Nagasaki or Hirado. That’s their law.”

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