Welcome back! I had intended to share another excerpt from my upcoming regency, Love's Refrain, but I changed my mind when I got the honor of having my very first published novella The Legacy, as one of the Astraea Press Book Club's monthly free read. The Legacy holds a special place in my heart, because in addition to being my first publication and my first association with Astraea Press, it was a part of a fund raising effort for victims of the northern Japan earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster. At the time Astraea Press put out the call for charity novellas, I was working on The Samurai's Garden. Since that story was much longer than the novella length requested, I chose to write a shorter tale about the samurai's great-great-great grandson.
In this excerpt, Andy Tanaka has found an old trunk in a shed on his family's flower farm. In it are some Japanese swords, clothing, and a scroll. He and his friend Leigh, along with Andy's grandfather Kenjiro, ask a family friend to help translate:
"This is a letter from a man named Hiromasa Tanaka—I’m assuming he's an ancestor of yours—to his son, Yasahiro. It is a moving letter. I'm not sure of some of the characters, since the letter is faded from age, and it's written in an old style of the language. You may have to check with a linguist to get the exact meaning of some phrases. But I will tell you what I know."
Kenjiro sat in an upholstered chair. Andy and Leigh settled on the floor in front of the old man and waited eagerly for his story. Mr. Kimura regarded each of them solemnly, and then focused his attention on Kenjiro.
"Hiromasa Tanaka was a samurai soldier. He came from a family of samurai. It says here he always knew he disliked fighting, and at the end of the samurai age, he was actually relieved, even though he didn't know what he would do. It wasn't until he met his wife in the far north, that he knew what he wanted to do with his life. He became a farmer, and established a successful flower farm.
"He had been raised with the samurai code of honor known as the bushido, and he believed it was this code that helped him to prosper as a farmer and a businessman. He raised his sons with the same ethics. Apparently his eldest son, Yasahiro, came to live in America. He must have been the Tanaka who established Tanaka Farms in California."
Kenjiro nodded in agreement. "Yes, Yasahiro was my grandfather."
Kimura-san continued the story. "Hiromasa was, of course, sad to see his son leave the country, but on the other hand was proud of him for his bravery in going to a new land. Hiromasa had other sons who continued Tanaka Farms in Japan, but he observed the accomplishments of his son in America with great pride.
"The letter says Hiromasa realized he was growing old, and feared he wouldn't have much longer to live. He wanted to give his eldest son his swords and other treasures of his life as a samurai, which Yasahiro was to pass down to his sons when they proved they were true keepers of the samurai code, or the bushido."
Leigh's breath caught. What a beautiful legacy! But she saw Andy's grandfather frown. Was something wrong?
"So this would have been passed down from Yasahiro to his son Ichiro, my father,” Kenjiro mused. “And Father would have passed it down to my older brother, Michio. But Michio was killed in World War II. I was in college then, and my family was in the relocation center at Camp Amache in Colorado. I wonder when it was put away in the storage shed?"
"It is hard to say,” Kimura-san replied. “Perhaps it was stored there before the family went to the camp, and later, in his sorrow, Ichiro didn't think to pass the legacy to you, his second son. It is rightfully yours now."
Kenjiro nodded. "It would seem so."
Thanks for stopping! I'd love to read your comments. During the month of July, you can get The Legacy FREE by joining the AP Book Club and emailing the coordinator with your choice of book and format.
And be sure to visit other author blogs for more excerpts. Find their links at Sweet Saturday Samples. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!