CHAPTER 14 : Part 3 – Shogun

CHAPTER 14 : Part 3 – Shogun

The old monk closed his eyes, prayed, and cried himself to sleep.

  Much as he wished it, Blackthorne could not sleep though night had come. His flesh crawled from the lice bites. His head swarmed with terror.

  He knew, with terrible clarity, there was no way to break out. He was overwhelmed with futility and sensed he was on the brink of death. In the darkest part of the night terror swamped him, and, for the first time in his life, he gave up and wept.

  “Yes, my son?” the monk murmured. “What is it?”

  “Nothing, nothing,” Blackthorne said, his heart thundering. “Go back to sleep.”

  “There’s no need to fear. We are all in God’s hands,” the monk said and slept again.

  The great terror left Blackthorne. In its place was a terror that could be lived with. I’ll get out of here somehow, he told himself, trying to believe the lie.

  At dawn came food and water. Blackthorne was stronger now. Stupid to let go like that, he cautioned himself. Stupid and weak and dangerous. Don’t do that again or you’ll break and go mad and surely die. They’ll put you in the third row and you’ll die. Be careful and be patient and guard yourself.

  “How are you today, señor?”

  “Fine, thank you, Father. And you?”

  “Quite well, thank you.”

  “How do I say that in Japanese?”

  “Domo, genki desu.”

  “Domo, genki desu. You were saying yesterday, Father, about the Portuguese Black Ships—what are they like? Have you seen one?” “Oh, yes, señor. They’re the greatest ships in the world, almost two thousand tons. As many as two hundred men and boys are necessary to sail one, señor, and with crew and passengers her complement would be almost a thousand souls. I’m told these carracks sail well before the wind but lumber when the wind’s abeam.”

  “How many guns do they carry?”

  “Sometimes twenty or thirty on three decks.”

  Father Domingo was glad to answer questions and talk and teach, and Blackthorne was equally glad to listen and learn. The monk’s rambling knowledge was priceless and far reaching.

  “No, señor,” he was saying now. “Domo is thank you and dozo is please. Water is mizu. Always remember that Japaners put a great price on manners and courtesy. Once when I was in Nagasaki—Oh, if I only had ink and a quill and paper! Ah, I know—here, trace the words in the dirt, that will help you to remember them …”

  “Domo,” Blackthorne said. Then, after memorizing a few more words, he asked, “How long’ve Portuguese been here?”

  “Oh, the land was discovered in 1542, señor, the year I was born. There were three men, da Mota, Peixoto, and I can’t remember the other name. They were all Portuguese traders, trading the China coasts in a China junk from a port in Siam. Has the señor been to Siam?”


  “Ah, there is much to see in Asia. These three men were trading but they were caught in a great storm, a typhoon, and blown off their course to land safely at Tanegashima at Kyushu. That was the first time a European set foot on Japan’s soil, and at once trade began. A few years later, Francis Xavier, one of the founding members of the Jesuits, arrived here. That was in 1549 … a bad year for Japan, señor. One of our Brethren should have been first, then we would have inherited this realm, not the Portuguese. Francis Xavier died three years later in China, alone and forsaken…. Did I tell the señor there’s a Jesuit already at the court of the Emperor of China, in a place called Peking? … Oh, you should see Manila, señor, and the Philippines! We have four cathedrals and almost three thousand conquistadores and nearly six thousand Japaner soldiers spread through the islands and three hundred Brethren….”

  Blackthorne’s mind filled with facts and Japanese words and phrases. He asked about life in Japan and daimyos and samurai and trade and Nagasaki and war and peace and Jesuits and Franciscans and Portuguese in Asia and about Spanish Manila, and always more about the Black Ship that plied annually from Macao. For three days and three nights Blackthorne sat with Father Domingo and questioned and listened and learned and slept in nightmare, to awaken and ask more questions and gain more knowledge.

  Then, on the fourth day, they called out his name.


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