My Dearest Reggie:
The trip through the Oregon country was as wonderful as ever, although somewhat trying, in that Wong Lee and I were confined in close quarters with three teen-agers with considerably less patience with sweeping coastal vistas. Nor was the impatience much lessened by the experience of the sleepy pace here in Canada. Your youngest is amazed to see the way that time has stopped since he left! Ore perhaps he merely chafes under instructions to be circumspect in looking up old friends. Word is not likely to get back to the police, never mind the FBI or Border Patrol where it is not sought, but even so, I should hate to undo the work of his "midnight rebirth," and his American life will be the easier if there is never occasion to doubt his supposed American birth.
Turning to your hospitality, I can only repeat my thanks, and apologise for the burden we impose on your wife, who has retired to your summer place on Bowen Island, as I am sure she will let you know. Fortunately, a few more days (and one more newsletter), and I shall be on my way to the South Seas, while Wong Lee adopts the role of teen-ager-wrangler-in-chief and chivvies the young ones back down the coast to California.
If I can ask one more favour, could you discretely seek out our friend and put some questions to him? I distinctly recall him saying, on more than one occasion, that his grandfather came to the country to work on the railroad. Nor was he above the old joke, "Ching, Chang, Chong, the Old Names make the sound of the hammers," although careful to leave his own clan off the list. While I would not put it past the Old Man to lie to us in the matter, I am confident that Grandfather would have sought his own sureties in the matter of purging the relevant records. Yet it seems certain now that our friend's employer believes that it has in its possession documentary evidence of our friend's grandfather's date of arrival in the country and racial origins. I know that you will regard this as a footling matter, but it is important to me that when discussions turn to breaking off the relationship, we have the upper hand, in the form of an offer to address their technical concerns, and not they, in the form of a breach of the morals clause of the employment contract. (If you are wondering about the fate of your "Christmas present," Bill and David have subcontracted the matter to a Santa Clara engineering student of the utmost discretion.)
Speaking of investigations, and morals concerns, you are correct that the fonds that I have directed "Miss V.C." towards in the Vancouver Archives are related to Old Liu, and, of course, the Honolulu arrests cannot go unmentioned, even after 39 years, as his family's continuing attempt to ignore their ancestor would anyways suggest. Yes, these are not matters that one wishes to discuss with an eighteen-year-old girl, and, yes, her mother's opinion of me can still go lower. However, they are also not a side of life that can be practically withheld from a young lady of her generation, what with the Andrews Sisters and burlesque dancers and worse on every radio and cinema screen. Old Lieu will introduce "Miss V.C." to the specific cargo that the whalers of the old McKee "triangle trade" brought in to Nootka, and the provision that was made to place that cargo on the trail and rails to Chicago. If she does not now think of the issue of the "Prince of Maquinna," it will be because she is diverted into the larger scandal, seeing in the fonds the connection to the Chinatown arrests that the family interest so promptly suppressed.
And that, apart from the delicious scandal of it all, will, I imagine, bring her back to the rails and the connection with her grandfather on another line of inquiry.
I suppose. Right now, she is asking for my assistance in reaching Nootka. Naught but disappointment awaits her inquiries there, as you had the good sense to move our landings to more congenial locations in anticipation of the Volstead Act, but I can hardly tell her that!
As I rather expected, we have seen more of Lieutenant A. than one might have expected. His employment in Seattle seems none too onerous, and his attendance at Pearl Harbour scarcely required, as in practice if not in strict chain of command the refitting of the new flagship's radio arrangements is in other hands. Fortunately or not, it now appears that the young man will continue his remote association with it, too. That is, he will join Nimitz's family in Honolulu, rather than that of his admiral at sea, for the forthcoming campaign, with signals responsibility. It does not appear that military service is necessarily that onerous if you choose your grandfathers adroitly. It rather makes me wonder how "Sink-Us" got his appointment!
I do not ignore your inquiries about Fat Chow. We believe that he is going to reach Kashgar via Herat, and when we know more, we will let you know.