Amsterdam 1605

In the Royal Banquet Room, Maurice of Nassau sat in his bejewelled throne surrounded by loyal servants and family, while the cream of Dutch aristocracy ate and drank at nearby tables looking splendid in their finest costumes.

“Yes, I am well loved,” Maurice said to himself as he scanned the room.

A guard tapped his spear on the floor and announced the arrival of the Japanese embassy.

Giant gilded doors swung open and Kintaro and his sister entered gracefully wearing traditional hakata and kimono.

“Splendid!” proclaimed Maurice of Nassau who noticed Kintaro’s eyes carefully scanning the room, “for weapons?” he thought. He whispered to Charlotte standing next to him, “Seems quite intelligent for a heathen. I can’t understand why you haven’t converted him yet.”

Kintaro was slightly overwhelmed by the opulence of the room but kept his composure absorbing every detail. From a young age he was trained to always be aware. His father, a master swordsman, would creep up on him any time of day of night and whack him on the back of the leg with a stick. Eventually, when Kintaro learned to anticipate every strike, his father handed him the family sword which he wore tonight.

“Greetings,” Maurice of Nassau said formally.

“Greetings,” replied Kintaro before bowing.

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“Shogun has asked me to read you a letter. My sister Hiina shall try her best to translate.”

Maurice of Nassau was intrigued, sitting upright on his throne, as a hush descended among the guests.

Kintaro broke the seal on the letter and read it out while Hiina translated in a loud voice.

“Dear Maurice of Nassau, greetings! I am Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Supreme Ruler of the Land of the Rising Sun. We would like to extend our friendship with your country. If you supply us with canon, you may build a trading base near Nagasaki.”

Maurice of Nassau sat stone-faced pondering the implications of the deal. So far only the Portuguese had been allowed to trade with Japan.

At last he gave a broad smile. “I heard you play golf?”

–> Chapter 11