Tokyo Bay
bristling with guns and armed men was not sufficient, he had emphasized, he was fully prepared to go further and use them - even though the squadron carried a total force of only one thousand men to be pitted against innumerable Japanese. Boldness and confidence, therefore, were all-important. In previous years, he had recalled, some American ships which had sailed into this same bay had been boarded, and their commanders had been harassed and humiliated. This would not happen again, under any circumstances! It was for this precise reason that he had ordered the repeated drills at battle stations to bring the crews and the marine guard to a high pitch of readiness. He had particularly reminded all ranks that the formal letter which they carried from the President of the United States to the Emperor of Japan was of crucial importance. It was essential that this letter be presented with the utmost dignity - but as a last resort he would threaten to land and march by force into Yedo, to deliver the letter personally to the Emperor. And that threat was not an idle one.. . Studying the proud, ramrod-straight figure who had made these decisions, Eden could almost feel his steely, unflagging determination. It was widely known that Perry himself had proposed this expedition several years earlier, and he seemed now to swell visibly with the ambition to impose his will on the mysterious country that was at last sketching itself before his eyes through the mist.
The sudden boom of a gun from the shore interrupted Eden’s thoughts and wrenched his attention from the quarterdeck. Looking westward through his gunport, he saw a great fist of dark smoke rising slowly from a cl iff top fort. He guessed a rocket or a cannon had been fired - either in an attempt to warn the ships to proceed no further or to give notice of their coming to defenders higher up the bay. Realizing this, he swung back quickly to check the reaction of Commodore Perry at the quarterdeck rail. His flag lieutenant was waiting respectfully for orders a few paces away, and eager midshipmen were also hovering, ready to run headlong to all quarters of the frigate with messages and commands. But the burly figure of the commodore remained impassive and unmoved. Almost nonchalantly he continued to study the smoke of the explosion and the fortified shoreline through his telescope, yet he made no comment and issued no new orders.
Glancing quickly about himself, Eden noticed that crewmen and marine guards alike were showing signs of tension. Other forts were becoming visible on distant cliffs and, although no further shots were fired, when he drew a small pair of personal binoculars from his jacket pocket to scan the distant heights, he was able to see that most of their ramparts bristled with guns. More and more fishing junks and fast mosquito boats with official-looking stern flags were putting to sea to swarm in the direction of the squadron, and he realized from their faces that some of the sailors around him were beginning to fear that their own ships might be moving into the jaws of a trap.
‘I will be accused, master, of bringing forbidden thoughts back to Japan...’ Sentaro was back at Eden’s side, his expression more anxious than before. ‘Arriving home in a barbarian warship I can see now will look very bad for me. I may even be executed.’
‘You don’t have to remain in Japan, Sentaro,’ said Eden quietly, still studying the coastline through his binoculars. ‘You could stay on board this ship and return with us to America.’
‘How?’ asked the castaway frantically. ‘I asked to be brought back here. Who would help me now?’
Eden did not reply at once, As more hilltop forts emerged from the haze, dark swarms of armed men could be seen drilling purposefully around them. The afternoon sunlight was also illuminating a landscape of extraordinary beauty: precipitous cliffs were giving way to deep ravines cloaked in rich green vegetation, which in turn opened

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