My Dearest Reggie:
Again I find myself breaking the rules of war correspondence, though not with news of fear and danger, but rather of business. Matters financial I leave to the bottom, where your daughter-out-of-law kindly appends a thorough precis of the "Bretton Woods" system. In short, she thinks it solid, for at least this generation. As far as I can make out, this is just female intuition, but it is ostensibly not unsupported by political arithmetic, and I cannot argue my case. The business, then, is concerned with more irregular matters.
First, Wong Lee has been to Los Angeles, and has established that the "Section 60" clause is no boilerplate. It was inserted into our friend's contract two years ago, in response to some marital issues which have apparently been resolved as far as they can be. Unfortunately, before he appealed to us, our friend took the rather desperate step of burning his own house down. This seems to have confirmed his employer in his suspicions at the same time that it apparently removed any evidence. Even more unfortunately, it now appears that his employer has been offered independent confirmation. Although it seems absurd that a morals clause would be triggered by such a barbaric law, our friend has relations who will not wish to see the facts emerge. The point here being not to humiliate someone in public, but leverage contract negotiations. Our friend wants his freedom --but at what cost?
Second, after diffident sniffing about submarine tours and various grandiose and implausible aerial projects, Fat Chow is going homewards the way he came. His pan-Turanian friends may be both mad and pro-German, but the bomb plot has soured them on Berlin, and they are willing to extract him. He has the precious medium, and a device for "reading it," which the Gestapo, for its own reasons, has manufactured entirely of components removed from American aircraft --which should help if his belongings are searched. He will not, of course, proceed to the Panchen Lama and make broadcasts to set Central Asia aflame --he doubts even his Gestapo handler takes this project seriously any more, never mind the Foreign Office girl assisting him. They just want to cultivate us, Fat Chow intimates. Well, we shall return the favour, however ambiguous. The girl and the man's family, anyway. I doubt that anyone will care very much if someone with that much innocent blood on his hands slips into the black waters instead of being delivered to Buenos Aires safe and hale. As for the Pan-Turanians, they get one last chance to bleed us. Fat Chow has been evasive about his route, but if they really do send him through Tashkent, I shall be quite cross. Considering its reputation, the NKVD is surprisingly inept, but I do not trust Russian slackness anywhere near that far.
However, whether via the Pansheer or the Vale of Fergana, Fat Chow will not be returning to California directly. You will have heard of the fall of Nomura. Now comes word from Nagasaki of a willingness to exchange yen-for-Hawaii dollars-for-US at a most favourable return. Or, indeed, for promissory notes on the right conditions. Some money is better than no money, it is thought, an American investment even better under the circumstances. I have word that our Hawaiian counter-parties are pleased by the idea of silent partners of such distinction. Moreover, though I have misgivings about dealing with the old enemy, the exchange will be done at the old house in Alicia, giving us the means to reward old retainers. Fat Chow will need to be conducted thence, and Nagasaki's assistance will greatly ease the trip from Kashgar to Zamboanga. If the matter does not disintegrate into a mutual massacre of Moros and Satsuma men, Fat Chow will then make his way to New Guinea and join me on Sparrow, and we shall see to the freight from there.
Speaking of Sparrow, I am definitely taking a temporary leave of "Cousin H.C.'s" employ to drive to Vancouver to join my ship. I will be accompanied by your youngest, "Miss V.C.," my housekeeper, and one other. I have taken your counsel, and will not chance having someone with "Miss V.C.'s name register at the Provincial Archives. Rather than ask her to use forged papers, it proved a simple matter to arrange the accession of certain papers to the city's holdings. I get the sense that while the money is not unwelcome, ancestral memory weighs heavily on a house trying to forget its past.
Whether the father or the mother more, I do not know. I could tell them that those days could be hard for an orphan girl, that not all who "gave honey for money" had their heart in the old trade. But I expect they would misunderstand, and my disapproval of their lack of filial piety might come through.
I may not approve of the lack of filial piety, but that just causes "Miss V.C.'s" inquiries to warm my heart the more. I do not think her lessons advanced enough yet to read the old papers, so I have asked that Miss Wong accompany us as translator. I imagine that your youngest could read them, but he has so far kept his oath of silence remarkably well.
Young Lieutenant A. will be joining us in Vancouver from Bremerton at what I expect will be all-too frequent occasions. I gather that his admiral has chosen to fly his flag from the New Jersey battleship, notwithstanding its dubious suitability. She will be returning to Pearl to make up its most serious deficiencies with some equipment to be assembled in Seattle under the young man's supervision. That is the admiral for you.
Have I mentioned that I met Lierutenant A.'s grandfather in Palo Alto? A younger sibling is in prospect of being sent to the college, and inasmuch as the father is serving in the Pacific, it is left to the grandfather to see libraries and sororities and be jollied by his old chief. The Engineer is as uncomfortable in the role of college booster as you would expect, and I managed to restrain the temptation to grab the old admiral by the lapels and yell, "Where are my ships?" For I gather that it was really all no-one's fault, or possibly that of the Admiralty, or of Stark, or King, or the President, or perhaps even tourism boosters who would not black out the coast. Heaven forbid that we should trouble the old man in his retirement!