FLIGHT

A few days after the experience gained in the conflict, Kano decided
to go to Kyoto. He announced his decision to the Council, where no
opposition was made. Indeed, several members, Hattori among the number,
declared that they too would go. They felt that the Clan had thrown
down the gauntlet, and that there must be victory or annihilation.
There had been a steady emigration of the young samurai, and even
Ekichi had besought his father to let him go. It was decided that all
should be recalled and ordered to report at Choshiu’s yashiki at Kyoto.

When Kano, accompanied by his friends, and escorted by a corps of six
hundred well-armed samurai arrived at the Capital, he could scarcely
credit his senses. The quiet and almost solemn city had changed
apparently into a garrison town. Everywhere samurai were met. The
crests of Satsuma, Choshiu, Tosa, Hizen, and Kaga, jostled with those
of the Tokugawa, with the result that brawls and street fights were
common, and peaceable citizens scarcely dared leave their houses. The
shout of Sonno Joï was heard everywhere and at all hours. A revolution
was imminent.

It was not long after Kano was installed in his apartments of the
yashiki when an attendant announced a visitor, who declined giving his
name. Receiving directions to admit him, a samurai in rônin dress,
that is without crest and his face concealed by a cloth entered. After
saluting, the visitor discarded his disguise, and Kano recognized the
features of Karassu Maru.

“Well, Mr. Councillor,” said the Kuge after they were seated, “you
have indeed heeded my advice of pulling the ground from under the
court; you have produced chaos, my friend. What has struck Aidzu, I can
not conceive. Our chairs go in and out of the palace gates and, instead
of being stopped and turned back, we are politely saluted by the guard.
There must be more of this, and I believe Tenshi Sama will order the
Phoenix Car, and promenade in the city. But how do you propose to
restore order out of this chaos?”

Kano did not confide enough in his visitor to disclose his plans. He
replied: “Before building a new house, my lord, it is best to clear
away the debris, especially after a conflagration. But, as your
lordship knows, I have been at Nagato for some time, and am very
anxious to know what has happened. I shall feel much relieved if you
will inform me.”

“I do not know how it came to pass, but after Iyemochi’s visit it was
easier for the palace attendants to secure passports, and finally they
were no longer demanded. Sanjo, Iwakura, and myself, went in and out as
we pleased, and I met a great many rônin, all good fellows. Sometimes
we had a little bout, and swords were drawn. Taken altogether, there is
a very pleasant change in our condition, and I only hope it will last.”

Kano saw that Karassu Maru would not help him much in his scheme. When
his visitor departed, he called Inouye:

“Have you still the haori which Karassu Maru lent you?”

“I have, my lord.”

“Very well; I have mine. Let us see if they will carry us past the
gates of the Gosho.”

The two gentlemen went out. Although they met numerous parties of
boisterous samurai, they were not molested, since the crest they wore
was known as that of a kuge. When they came to the gate, Kano walked
boldly in, followed by Inouye.

“Your tablets, please, gentlemen,” said one of the guards, bowing.

“How now, fellow,” cried Kano haughtily, “who has dared instruct you to
address gentlemen of our quality? Take his name,” he said to Inouye,
but the man disappeared, and they passed in.

Kano remembered the way, and, arriving at the house where they had met
before, he inquired for Sanjo. He found, however, that this was the
residence of Iwakura, and requested to be announced. After waiting a
few moments, he found himself in the presence of the man who was one of
the chief instruments in the re-organization of the empire.

“I am glad to see you, Mr. Councillor,” said the kuge, “and you come
at an opportune time. Some of us who are interested in the present
movement, were going to meet later on. But I will request them to come
as soon as possible.” He clapped his hands, and gave some directions to
the kneeling attendant. Presently a handsome screen was brought in and
placed behind Kano; then he heard the opening of the sho ji behind the
screen, and surmised that the meeting would be attended by a person of
so exalted a rank as to be invisible to him.

Iwakura entertained his visitors in that charming manner, peculiar
to the highbred Japanese. It appeared only a few minutes to Kano,
when norimono began to arrive, and he and his friend were presented
to the possessors of names, familiar to every Japanese, high or low.
Ichijo, Nijo, Higashi Kuze,[81] all historic names, appeared. At last a
norimono arrived, and Iwakura himself hastened to receive this visitor,
who, with his attendants was ushered into the room behind. The other
kuge kept up their conversation, but Kano noticed from the terms of
self-debasement, and the frequent drawing of the breath, that the last
caller must be, indeed, near to the throne. At last Iwakura reappeared,
and took his seat.

“My lords,” he said, “we have the unexpected but very gratifying
pleasure of having as visitor the man who really started the movement
which led to such surprising results. Mr. Kano is the trusted
Councillor of our friend Mori of Nagato, and this gentleman, Mr.
Inouye, he tells me, is his right hand. He has also informed me,
while waiting for your lordships to arrive, that he has a thousand
brave and devoted samurai at hand, ready to do His Majesty’s bidding,
and declares himself ready to answer any question it may please your
lordships to ask.”

Five minutes passed in performing the prostrations incident to this
introduction, and Nijo, as the oldest of the kuge present, spoke:–

“I do not understand quite, Mr. Councillor, why the peace of the Gosho
should be interrupted. His Lordship Iwakura tells us that you are the
cause, and I doubt not that you have good reasons. At the same time, I
protest that all these proceedings are highly improper, and that there
is no precedent for them. I am told that the barbarians are at our
door. Well, so they were six hundred years ago;[82] but His Majesty, as
in duty bound, visited the shrine at Isé,[83] and implored the aid of
the divine ancestors. The result is well-known. But the Gosho was not
disturbed. To guard his country properly, His Majesty needs repose and
contemplation. We like it not, Mr. Councillor, that his sacred presence
should be disturbed.”

Kano and Inouye bowed low, and were silent. After some moments of
decorous silence, the kuge next in years spoke:–

“I agree with my lord Nijo. Why does not the Shogun expel the
barbarians, as is his duty? The Court has ordered him to do so, and he
has replied that he will do it as soon as the necessary preparations
are made. So that matter is settled, it seems to me. I do not see what
Mori, Shimadzu, and other captains have to do with it. His Majesty
issues his commands to the Shogun who executes them reverently. These
proceedings are highly improper, as my Lord Nijo said. If Mori desires
any favor from the Fount of All Honor, let him apply to Iyemochi, and
when his request, properly endorsed, reaches us through the proper
channel, it will be considered and answered in due time.”

It was now Sanjo’s turn. “I have listened, my lords, with profound
satisfaction to the lessons drawn from the ripe experience of my
seniors. But I submit that our visitors be heard, since, having the
misfortune to be mere soldiers, they may not be able to appreciate to
the full extent the wisdom concentrated within the Council of Kuge.”

At this appeal to their forbearance, the kuge bowed, and Kano, seizing
his fan, began in a low but distinct voice:–

“I feel deeply, my lords, my own unworthiness, and appreciate the
honor of being admitted to this august assembly.” Here he prostrated
himself, and remained fully three minutes, his head resting upon his
outstretched hands. He then recovered his position, and continued:–

“Only a few years ago the country of the gods was at peace, thanks
to Tenshi Sama and his intercession with the divine ancestors, and
the repose of the Son of Heaven was undisturbed. Suddenly black ships
appeared near the capital of the Tokugawa, and, being ordered to
withdraw, refused to obey this reasonable behest. What did Tokugawa
do? Smite the disobedient barbarians and hurl them back to their own
desolate country? No! _Tokugawa was afraid._ The strangers departed
but returned with reinforcements the next year. There had been ample
time to call upon the clans to prepare for their visit, but _Tokugawa
was afraid_. The Go rojiu pretended to be unprepared, and conceded all
that the barbarians saw fit to ask. It was not much, but it was only
the beginning of their demands. Four years later they asked more. They
wanted land and the Tokugawa sold what was not his to sell. It was
only a few tsubo,[84] in a poor fishing village, but it was soil of
the country of the gods, part of the inheritance of the Son of Heaven.
What did the divine ancestors say about this alienation of their sacred
soil? My lords, you lay the blame of the disturbance of the sacred
bosom upon me. I and my clan are ready to expiate our sin, if by doing
so we can restore peace to the Light of our Day, to Tenshi Sama. But
that peace can be restored only by placating His Majesty’s ancestors,
when they receive back their own.”

Unconsciously, for Kano was not acting but meant every word he said, he
stopped and allowed time for his words to sink into their breasts. No
one lost his decorum, still, a movement of the fan, or a readjustment
of the haori, betrayed the uneasiness of the kuge.

Kano resumed suddenly, with a slightly elevated voice:

“Aye, the divine ancestors must be placated, peace must be restored
within the sacred walls of the Gosho, but the barbarians must be
expelled before it can be accomplished. Hark ye! my lords. Myriads
of samurai have come to this capital, and there is but one shout:
Sonno-Joï! Revere the Emperor! Expel the foreigners! The breeze from
the ocean gently fans our cheeks, so long as the gods look placidly
down, while we, their humble servants, pay them our dues in respectful
homage. But sometimes we fail in our duty. The breeze turns into a
wind, the wind into a tai-fu,[85] and it sweeps all before it, the
hovel of the laborer and the roof of the temple. What mortal can bid
it refrain? The Yamato Damashii is the lovable zephyr of our country,
but the presence of these insolent barbarians has converted it into a
mighty wind. Hark ye, my lords, do you hear it swell? Sonno Joï! It is
turning into a tai-fu now!”

Assuming the plaintive and appealing voice to which the language lends
itself so well, Kano continued as if in self-commune:–

“We heed it not. The storm centres in our beloved land where the sun
rises, but there is no rift in the clouded sky. The sun smiles upon
the myriads of ships, cleaving the blue waters, and hurrying to the
shores of our land. It is one long procession. Their spies have told
the barbarians in their inhospitable regions of the one country where
the gods love to dwell. From tens of rude, insolent men, they have
increased to hundreds; they are now thousands and will soon be myriads.
Tokugawa is no longer a vassal of Tenshi Sama, he is a servant to men
scarce better than brutes. Hyogo and Osaka, are in their possession.
The two roads to the sacred capital are crowded with them. Ye gods!
will ye not at least preserve the Gosho and your child? They press
against the wall, it gives way. Where is the peace and contemplation of
the sacred enclosure now!”

His sighing voice melted into the silence, when in a strident tone that
made them start, he concluded:–

“No! Sonno Joï roars out of a myriad throats. Myriads of brawny
hands clasp the swords of Japan. Tenshi Sama has spoken through his
brave miya and kuge. Clan after clan marches on, sun of victory for
Yamato Damashii has come forth from behind the clouds and inspired
Dai Nippon’s sons. The Tokugawa has paid the penalty of treason; the
barbarians have fled before the edge of the Soul of Samurai. Peace is
restored and flowers innumerable and of brilliant colors delight the
eye. After the tempest calm. Not that treacherous, oppressive air,
forerunner of disaster. But the bright atmosphere which succeeds the
storm as surely as prosperous peace will follow the tempest raging now,
and which is the punishment for our neglect of duty.”

Solemn was the scene, after Kano had concluded his address. He himself
was prostrate once more, and remained in that position for more than
five minutes, while not even the rustling of a silk hakama disturbed
the silence. They sat like men of wax, immovable and serene. There was
a rustling of silk behind the screen, it was removed, and a gentleman
on whose haori appeared the imperial crest entered. All prostrated
themselves, and he answered with a dignified bow. One of his attendants
brought a cushion, and when he had squatted down, he said:

“Rise, Mr. Councillor.”

Kano and Inouye obeyed.

“We have heard your statement and we approve of Mori’s loyalty as
expressed by you. Your report will receive our early attention and will
be submitted to the proper authority. Fear not, son of Nagato, Tenshi
Sama and our ancestors are keeping guard. Now go! You will receive our
orders. Tomomi,[86] see to it that these gentlemen are refreshed.” He
bowed slightly and left the room. The other kuge followed as if they
were glad to get away, and only Sanjo and Iwakura remained.

The latter ordered refreshments, and when they were brought, said: “Mr.
Kano, I, and I suppose my lord Sanjo, are highly pleased. We have been
in the minority, and have been in grave danger of our lives. But you
have converted the miya nearest to the throne, and whatever happens,
he is beyond danger, and a most powerful ally. Still, our council is
large; and if Tokugawa replaces the present commandant by one who will
make his authority felt, we shall be just where we were before.”

“My lords, may I speak freely? I do not ask safety for myself. My life
is worthless, but my cause and my clan are dear to me. Promise me that
if I exceed the limits of propriety, or if what I say appears to you
as high treason, you will permit me to let me expiate my transgression
alone, and that it shall never go beyond these walls. My young friend
will share my doom, so that the secret will remain locked up between
you.”

Both Iwakura and Sanjo bowed assent.

Kano after thanking them, said:–“Imperial orders are issued over His
Majesty’s sign manual, and the tenor of those orders depends naturally
upon the sympathy of the kuge in charge. Could not a change be effected
by which it was placed within the hands of one favorable to the cause
of Japan?”

Iwakura looked at Sanjo and shook his head. “Impossible,” he said. “The
sign manual is held for life by one appointed by Tenshi Sama upon the
request of a majority of the council. No,” he repeated, “that can not
be done.”

“In that case,” suggested Inouye, speaking before Kano could commit
himself, “can not his Majesty be induced to ride to Hakone and drive
the foreigners into the ocean. This would call forth such a host as Dai
Nippon has never seen. There would be no danger, no risk even, for I am
sure that the barbarians would not await the approach of such an army.
They would take ship and depart, with the conviction that Dai Nippon
was opposed to their presence.”

“That might be done,” said Sanjo, approvingly. “Send me an official
letter signed with the seal of your clan and containing that request,
and I shall submit it to the Council. But do it at once, and while the
impression made by Mr. Kano is vivid. Let there be no delay.”

“If your lordships will order one of your servants to go with us, the
letter shall be written at once,” replied Kano, preparing to depart.
As they were leaving, a gentleman approached followed by a page. “Are
these the gentlemen from Nagato?” he inquired. Being assured of their
identity, he took a long package from the page and severing a cord,
presented one to Kano and one to Inouye. “His Imperial Highness Prince
Arisugawa bids you accept these as a token of his good will,” he said.
Both prostrated themselves and lifted the present to their forehead.
When they arrived home, they found each a costly sword.

The letter was written and submitted to the Council. Kano’s address
must have made a deep impression, for he was informed in a private
communication from Sanjo that his suggestion had been adopted, and
orders had been issued to make the necessary preparations. At this time
the fate of the foreigners in Japan hung by a thread.

Of all the clans of the Tokugawa family,–Iyeyasu had endowed his sons
with ample estates,–all but Aidzu seemed as if stricken with palsy
at the storm raging about them. But Aidzu, in its mountain home, had
preserved its manhood, and despatched to Kyoto a man of penetration
and dauntless courage. Shortly after taking command, the guards at the
palace gates were quadrupled, and all ingress and egress prohibited,
except under a most severe system of passports, obtained from the
commandant himself.

On the 30th of September, 1863, Kano was sitting in his room
overlooking the accounts of the clan, when Ito and Inouye entered
hurriedly. There was no diminution of the salutations, and both waited
until the Councillor spoke. Kano, however, saw at once that something
important had occurred, and he simply requested them to speak.

“Your lordship,” said Ito, “there is something in the air. The
commandant of the castle has issued orders to the people to close their
houses and keep within, on penalty of being cut down. Armed patrols are
in every street, and strong bodies of Aidzu men have taken up positions
near the palace.” At this moment an officer of the guard at the gate
entered, and beckoned to Kano, who rose angrily and demanded if he had
forgotten his manners. His explanation, however, seemed to satisfy
the Councillor, for he said: All right, and hurried out. Presently
he returned accompanied by seven gentlemen, among whom Ito and Inouye
recognized Sanjo and Iwakura.

Rigidly observant of the salutations the company was at last seated,
when Karassu Maru remarked:

“Mr. Councillor, I hope Mori’s larder is well supplied, for I am afraid
you are going to have us as your guests for some time.”

Kano bowed and calling a servant ordered dinner to be prepared, when
Sanjo spoke.

“My lord Karassu Maru chooses an odd time for pleasantry, but I am
afraid, Mr. Councillor, that there is more truth in what he says than
can be agreeable to you or us. The Council has honored myself and the
gentlemen with me, with a decree of banishment.”

Perturbed as he was, Kano bowed, and said simply:–I hope that it may
please your lordships to accept the hospitality of Mori such as it is,
but which is freely offered. Permit me to look after the safety of your
lordships.

He went to the quarters of the commandant. “Have all the men under
arms, and prepare to defend the gates. See that no man bearing the
Tokugawa crest enters upon your life. Admit all stragglers, but no
one is permitted to leave the yashiki except on written order over my
seal. See that the arms and equipments are in proper order, for at five
o’clock we march. Any disobedience will be punished most severely. Is
this understood?”

“It is.”

“Very well. Send for Mr. Hattori.”

“He is in my room now.”

Kano entered. “Hattori,” he said, “we have received a severe check,
but there is no time to explain. Ride for your life to Nagato, and
inform Mori that seven kuge have been banished, and will accept his
hospitality. Do not let him entertain the idea of changes in the rooms
of the palace, but tell him that we shall be there almost as soon as
you. As you pass by, engage rooms in the usual temples.”

Hattori at once ordered a horse. Satisfied that there would be no
delay, Kano sent for Ekichi:

“Dress as a boy of the common people,” he said. “In a few minutes Mr.
Fujii will give you a basket of eggs, and tell you their price. Then go
slowly to the castle; notice closely everything you see, and report to
me. Try to sell your eggs to the soldiers of the guard, but be careful
that they do not suspect you. Be back by about four.”

The boy was ready in a few minutes, and the Councillor himself saw him
through the gate and gave him the pass word. He then returned to his
guests, and informed them that they would leave for Choshiu at five.

While they were eating their dinner, Karassu Maru entertained the
company, this was the time for relaxation, and his remarks elicited not
unfrequently peals of laughter.

“I think that Honami is to blame for the whole thing. He came to me
this morning, and said:–

“‘What do you think? I am going to buy some rabbits.’

“It did not interest me very much, but for the sake of politeness, I
asked: ‘where?’

“‘Oh!’ he said, ‘I have seen some beauties in Karassu Maru cho.’[87]

“I thought that he was indulging in personalities, and said:

“‘You don’t take me for a rabbit-warren do you?’

“‘You? No; I wish you were.’”

Shouts of laughter greeted this sally, and the speaker laughed as
heartily as the others. “Well,” he continued, “I grew tired of his
interesting conversation, and remarked that the rabbits might be
waiting for him. This suggestion seemed to strike him, for away he
trotted.

“He was not gone long before he came back in a great temper, and begged
me to go with him to the gate, because they would not let him pass. He
had told the guard, he said, that he had a very important appointment,
but they would not listen to reason.” There was a dangerous glitter in
Karassu Maru’s eye, as he continued: “I thought that the guard might
have taken liberties with a kuge, and was going to give him a lesson in
politeness. But when we came to the gate, an officer stepped out and
said: ‘Pardon me, my lord, but I am under orders to let no one pass.
The Council is in session and your lordship will soon know the reason.
I am compelled to escort you to your house.’ The fellow was serious
enough, and under guard of a dozen men I returned, Honami in his chair
asking constantly about his rabbits. I had no stomach for them then.”

It was a sullen procession which filed out of Choshiu’s yashiki on
that 30th of September, and it was well for the Tokugawa that no
armed opposition was offered to them. Twelve hundred deeply insulted
samurai could make sad havoc among any force, and these men hoped for
the fray. They had marched in close ranks with seven norimono, well
guarded between them. Kano was on horseback and had assumed command.
He, too, had thought of the possibility of a conflict; but Ekichi had
discovered that Satsuma had also been expelled, and that Choshiu would
have to face the united power of Tokugawa. Loyalty to his clan, and the
responsibility for the safety of the kuge imposed self-restraint; but
they did not prevent him from being exasperated.

Past Fushimi[88] they marched, and on to Osaka where they remained
over night. The next morning they stopped at Hyogo; it was eight days
after they had left Kyoto when they were within their own province,
and shortly after Mori in his state dress received the highly honored
guests, and bade them make themselves at home.

Kano heard that Sawa had disappeared. That was well. Choshiu’s samurai
might not have liked to see the Tokugawa crest among them, and the
blood of such a poor worthless creature, could not further the cause.
But Choshiu thirsted for vengeance, and drilling went on from morning
till night. Nagato was an armed camp.

Thus passed the winter and spring of the year 1864. Kano heard that
the number of rônin multiplied at a frightful rate, and that many were
congregating in the suburbs of Kyoto. Several young samurai applied
for leave of absence, and, when they received a refusal, sent in their
resignations and disappeared.

The men were exasperated. On the 4th of August a courier from Kyoto
brought news which caused Kano to call an extra meeting of the Council.
When they had come together, Kano informed them that in the beginning
of July a body of rônin had petitioned Tenshi Sama to remove the decree
of arrest from Mori, and to recall the seven kuge and restore them to
honor; but the Council of the Gosho, now wholly under the influence of
Aidzu had not even vouchsafed a reply. Several hundred Choshiu men had
joined the rônin, and were preparing to march upon Aidzu.

This was serious news. What if Aidzu, in triumph at its success, should
secure a decree of _Choteki_[89] against Mori from the servile court.
That must be prevented at any cost! Kano and Hattori were commissioned
to proceed in all haste to Kyoto, and to restrain their clansmen. They
arrived at the capital on the 15th, and, appealing to the loyalty of
their men, succeeded in bringing them back under Choshiu’s banner.

Aidzu did not appreciate this self-control. On the 19th a Court
messenger delivered a notification at the yashiki that Mori was to be
punished for contumacy, and that Tokugawa Keiki[90] would command the
loyal army commissioned to enforce the Court’s order.

Kano and Hattori deliberated long and earnestly. There was not much
choice. It was either to submit to punishment, which would strike their
innocent lord the hardest of all, or trust to the spirit of unrest and
leave the decision to the sword. The latter alternative was chosen, and
Kano prepared a proclamation. He demonstrated the justice of his cause
and mentioned the crimes committed by the Tokugawa since the arrival
of Perry; he called upon the samurai of Japan to aid him in punishing
Aidzu, who was desecrating the private grounds of Tenshi Sama, and
implored the pardon of the Son of Heaven “for creating a disturbance
so near the wheels of the Chariot.”

The number of Choshiu men had increased to 1300. Kano had divided his
men in three divisions, and, at dawn of the 20th of August, marched
to the attack. His intention was to surround the flower garden of
the palace where Aidzu’s troops were encamped. They were opposed by
the samurai of Aidzu who had been reenforced by those of Echizen,
Kuwana, Hikone, and other Tokugawa clans. There were some cannon and
muskets; but most of the men were in armor, and trusted to the keen
native sword. With terrible odds against them, and no clan coming to
their assistance, Choshiu maintained the fight for two days. A native
historian states that 811 streets, 18 palaces, 44 large yashiki, 630
small yashiki, 112 Buddhist temples, and 27,000 houses were destroyed.
The same historian says: “The city, surrounded by a ninefold circle of
flowers, entirely disappeared in one morning in the smoke of the flames
of a war fire. The Blossom Capital became a scorched desert.” The end
was such as might have been expected. The Choshiu men were utterly
defeated. Thirty-seven men were taken prisoner and beheaded in prison.
Kano died in battle, and his body was probably cremated, for it was not
found.

When the fugitives began to arrive in Nagato, there was almost a panic
among the samurai. Ito and Inouye, now recognized as leaders, restored
quiet. It was not the defeat which had the effect of frightening men
for whom pain nor death has any terror: it was the term _choteki_,
which rendered their arm nerveless. It was only when Inouye proved
to them that it was Aidzu and not Tenshi Sama who had inflicted this
disgrace upon them that their courage returned together with their
self-control.

The clan would soon stand in need of it. By Kano’s order they had
continued to fire upon vessels entering the Strait of Shimonoseki.
They had Tenshi Sama’s mandate to do so, and it had not been revoked.
On the 5th of September a fleet of powerful vessels appeared, and
bombarded Choshiu’s forts. The men stood to their guns like heroes, but
again the odds were against them. The batteries were blown about their
ears, and when landing parties attacked the forts, individual daring
backed by swords, could not stand before the withering fire of trained
troops. The clan despatched Ito and Inouye to make peace, and the terms
hard as they were, were accepted.

It was two days after the bombardment, and a meeting of the Council
had been called in the great hall of the castle. Ito and Inouye, both
Councillors now, were present. After all were seated, Ito opened the
meeting.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “there is little use in mourning for losses,
since it will not repair them. But losses may be turned into an
advantage, if we profit by the lessons we may derive from them.

“The foreign fleet which attacked us had such heavy metal, that our
guns and gunners could not stand before it. It was a hail storm
of iron and we went down before the blast. But when I saw that the
barbarians were landing men, I thought that we were going to have our
turn. They were but a handful, those barbarians, and man for man, our
samurai would have made short work of them. But we could not get near
them. They moved as one man and in the thickest of the fight a word of
command was obeyed as if it was a machine instead of a body of men. It
was their discipline and drill that defeated us, gentlemen, and we must
acquire that same order and skill.

“We have met two foes, and twice we have been defeated. The barbarians
will not molest us so long as we do not molest them, and, for the
present at least, we shall leave that to other clans who may wish to
pay for some experience. We stand face to face with another foe, and we
are fighting for our very existence. Tokugawa would have us Choteki,
gentlemen, and we must turn the tables upon them. We can do it, never
fear! But first we must learn the drill and tactics from the barbarians
that we may give Aidzu a surprise as the foreigners surprised us.
For that purpose we must engage instructors and purchase arms. I now
propose that Mr. Inouye be appointed with full authority to act in this
matter, and that the treasurer of the clan furnish him with money.”

“But,” objected one of the older members, “the barbarian instructors
will have to live among us; will they be safe? We do not want any more
trouble with them now.”

“Your lordship speaks well. We do not want any more trouble with them
_now_. The next time we have trouble with them, it will not be we who
pay the bills. They will be as safe here as in their own homes. Our
samurai shall know why they are here. They shall know that we must
dissemble; pretend that we are pleased with our defeat, and that we
love the men who invaded our soil. But this dissembling will not last
forever, and a time shall come when this defeat is wiped out. May we
live to see it!”

The order was then passed and Ito resumed: “The next thing that _must_
be done is to come to an understanding with Satsuma and the other
Southern clans. Yes, I know, gentlemen, the dish is not palatable, but
there is nothing for it but to eat it.” A feud existed between Satsuma
and Choshiu and to the older Councillors this advice was extremely
repugnant. “We have no choice. Choshiu alone can not reduce the united
Tokugawa Clans, and Tokugawa must be deposed unless we wish to see the
barbarian our master. Satsuma, after all, is of our blood, and has the
same interests. Tosa too, must join. I propose then that I undertake
this disagreeable work; somebody must do it, and I do not suppose that
any one cares for the honor.”

There was a silence. At last one of the Councillors spoke: I suppose
that Mr. Ito is right. Let it be as he wishes. I agree with him that of
the two, Satsuma is preferable to the barbarians.

The order was entered upon the books and the council adjourned. The
two friends left together. Inouye said he would start the next day.

“Have you any objection if I take Ekichi with me?”

Ito looked up, smiled, and said: “None at all.”

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