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Worthy Opponents

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[Letter from Date Masamune to his mother Yoshihime, dated Keichô 4]

Honored Mother:

I am not sure that I can venture to predict your reaction to the news this letter will bear you, but I am certain that I would prefer you hear it from me rather than from rumor. So know this, Mother: I have decided to support the Tokugawa in the current crisis.

----

 

[Diary of Mogami Yoshihime]
10th year of Eiroku, seventh month

I am to be married in a month's time. I am told on all sides that I should be grateful that the Mogami position is sufficient to allow me to go to the Date household as official wife, rather than as a mere concubine. I suppose in the years to come I shall share the sentiment, but at the moment I feel nothing but anger.

I shall do my best to serve Mogami and its interests when I am among our enemies; I do not need my father to tell me that serving Mogami means fulfilling my obligations to Date as best I can. I will do so, of course, but no more than that.

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[Letter from Masamune to Yoshihime, continued]

You well know, Mother, that the country is not what it was even ten years ago; allying with Ieyasu, I deem, is the only way to ensure Date's prosperity - and Mogami's along with it, I believe, although of course you will come to your own conclusion on that score. O-Hiroi is still a child, and the generals who support his succession are in no wise able to prevent the country from slipping back into war. Ieyasu is our best chance of averting a return of the disorders that plagued the realm until the Taikô pacified the domains, and if he cannot succeed, there will be no safety for Date and Mogami in any case.

----

 

[Letter from Yoshihime to Masamune, dated Keichô 4]

My son:

I hope it will not disturb you to know that we are in accord on the question of Ieyasu versus O-Hiroi. Now that he is dead, I can say what everyone knows, which is that if O-Hiroi is a son of the Taikô's body then I am the Lord Amida Buddha. In any case, whatever his parentage, there is no way a child so young can preserve what his father built, even were his capabilities known in advance, which of course they are not.

I know you understand, my son, that the world into which I bore you is vanishing like dew on the grass of Musashi plain, and I cannot believe that there is anything in that world whose absence we ought mourn. I can only hope that Ieyasu's rule will not give us cause to regret the actions we take now in support of it. Make no mistake: there are Tokugawa enough that the realm will never again face a succession crisis such as the one the late Taikô has bequeathed us, should Ieyasu win the day.

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[Letter from Masamune to Yoshihime, dated Keichô 4]

Honored Mother:

For my part, I care not if the Tokugawa reign ten thousand years, so long as they guarantee the rights of me and mine in Date. This Ieyasu has sworn to do. The man is no Nobunaga (and not even a Hideyoshi, although I trust you will not share that opinion beyond your own chambers). As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate the late Taikô's desire for stability, and I am certain that Ieyasu shares it. I surrendered Date's autonomy to the Taikô for that cause, and I will not see that surrender go to waste.

----

 

[Letter from Yoshihime to Masamune]
My son:

Age has changed us all, has it not? When you write of understanding the desire for stability, I must wonder whether you are in fact the same dangerously ambitious child whose competence I so feared, once.

I did not understand at the time, of course, that you were one of the new men like Nobunaga and Hideyoshi and even Ieyasu. Though you were born rather too high and a little too late, I am convinced that had the world been otherwise, you could have been one of the men to re-unify the realm, one-eyed as you are.

I do not mourn your brother. He was not suited to the times as you are, and had he inherited your father's place both Date and Mogami would have suffered for it.

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[Letter from Masamune to Yoshihime]

Honored Mother:

I have always admired your political acumen as much as your will of steel; it is no surprise to me that I turned out the way I have, with your example to guide me. Although I would have preferred you to be a partisan of Date, I learned a good deal from observing you acting for Mogami's interests to the best of your ability as I grew up. You flatter me unduly, however, when you say that I might have been one of the unifiers like Nobunaga and the late Taikô, however. My stays in Kyoto during his regency were enough to convince me that I am better off as I am, a dragon without undue pretensions to polishing his scales with refinements. If serving commoners tea and forcing one's lords to participate in atrocious theatricals is what is required of a unifier, then no, I am not and never would have been the man for the job.

----

 

[Letter from Yoshihime to Masamune]

You must admit that the tea and the theatricals and the grand palace at Momoyama did what they were intended to do, however - no one wanted another Nobunaga, and I am quite convinced that the Taikô indulged his taste for ceremonies partly because Nobunaga had none, and terrified half the realm because of it. We shall see what hoops Ieyasu concocts for us to jump through, should he win through this crisis.

I understand that you are concerned for my safety, and intend to station a detachment of your forces with me. I appreciate your concern, my son, but be warned: I will command them where they can best serve, even if that place is not at my side. I am an old woman whom no one but you will bother about, and in any case, I can take care of myself.

----

 

[Diary of Mogami Yoshihime]

Fourth year of Keichô, eleventh month

Masamune flatters me with his pretensions that Mogami and Date's interests are still divergent, but we both know that such has not been the case for at least a dozen years. I will act in Date Masamune's interests now, for by his fortunes does Mogami rise or fall.

Women of the ancient days were wont to write their diaries for the world to see, but I shall burn this record when I take holy vows. I have no wish to defend myself to later generations; I can only imagine that they will scorn me, no matter which way this matter with Ieyasu falls out. So be it. I wish to be understood only by my opponents, and if my recent letters with my son - always the most worthy of my foes - are any indication, I am such, and with that I am content.

In the meantime, I must think on how to put this detachment of soldiers Masamune has sent me to better use.