“IT LOOKS VERY EXPENSIVE.” WITH BOTH HANDS, Ethelind carefully held the music box. “Funny whoever sent it didn't sign the card. You sure you don't know who it's from?”
“I'll probably get a call today,” I said, thinking I'd avoided blatantly lying about who might have sent it.
She looked at me with concern in her eyes. “Are you going to be all right?”
“About waiting for the biopsy results? I'm okay. Dr. Washabaugh told me that more than eight hundred thousand women have breast biopsies each year, and only about a hundred and eighty thousand of them are actually diagnosed with cancer. The rest are benign lumps, so the odds are definitely in my favor.”
I sat down at the kitchen table and picked up the Chronicle, glad to see our paperboy had actually delivered it on time.
I glanced over the front page. My article about Mack Macmillan looked good. There were no glaring errors. Of course there was no mention of Woody's arrest. That's the problem with a weekly! The news is never current. Neither was there any mention of Halloween, which was coming up soon. When I questioned Cassie about that, she said that it was a long-standing policy not to mention the holiday in the paper. Too many locals thought it smacked of Satanism.
Surprise! There was a brief mention of Dr. Washabaugh's murder on the bottom of the front page. Cassie must have heard the news on TV and called the printer with a last-minute change. Good for her! When Cassie heard the news, she thought of the paper. When I heard the news, I'm ashamed to say my first thought had been, “Now how am I going to get my test results?” I decided to call the office receptionist on Monday and ask if they had come in. Surely she would be there. Or I would call her at home.
Ethelind, her feet enormous in fuzzy gray slippers, shuffled over to the counter where she poured Tasty Tabby Treats in the cat bowls before starting to make coffee. They ate as if they hadn't been fed in weeks.
“I've been thinking,” Ethelind said, peering at me over the rim of her coffee mug, “that I might postpone my departure for little while longer. I don't like to think of you being sick and alone.”
Oh no. “Please don't,” I exclaimed, so abruptly that she stared at me in astonishment. “I mean, please don't do that on my account. I am just fine.” I swung my right arm in a circle to show her how fine I was. It hurt, not because of the biopsy but because it was still healing from having been broken last month.
“I'd be glad to stay…”
“I won't hear of it.”
“At least let me take care of you today, Tori. You pop upstairs and get back in bed. I'll bring you some breakfast.”
“Thanks very much, but I have somewhere I have to go today.”
Ethelind waited, head cocked, while I struggled to think of someplace I could go. Then I remembered Charlotte Macmillan had invited me to go riding today. I hadn't thought about it since Luscious had confirmed her alibi, but now it seemed like a perfect excuse.
“Riding!” Ethelind looked incredulous. I didn't blame her. “You?”
“I love to ride,” I said. “I even took lessons in college.” I really didn't love to ride. In fact, I didn't even like to ride. But it was true I'd taken lessons. Everybody who goes to school in the southwestern United States does.
Murray Rosenbaum, my next-door neighbor and best friend in New York, had sent most of my belongings to me when I sublet my apartment. The boxes had been placed in one of Ethelind's thirty or forty spare bedrooms, and I dug through a few until I found my riding clothes. Saying a little prayer to the Goddess of Yo-Yo Dieting that they'd still fit, I carried them back to my room.
At the edge of Gettysburg, I stopped at a Sheetz convenience store for directions to Shoestring Hill Farm. The middle-aged woman behind the counter appeared impressed. “Biggest spread around. You can't miss it. Take a right, hang a left, go about six-tenths of a mile, backs up on the battlefield. You lookin’ to buy the place?” She took in my riding clothes. “You'uns ain't going riding there, are ya?”
“Why, yes, I am,” I said, wondering why her lips were twitching. I paid for a Diet Coke and left. Probably she was just jealous of my opportunity to hobnob with the rich and famous.
I found the farm, just as the Sheetz clerk had described. I stopped at the top of the hill and looked down a long, tree-lined private drive to a grove of trees, where I saw a beautiful two-story gray stone home built in the traditional Pennsylvania style, door in the center, two windows on either side, and a row of five windows on the second floor. I counted at least four chimneys. To the right of the main building was a glassed-in sun-room, overlooking the pond. Nearby, partly concealed by more trees, were a large horse barn, a riding ring, several smaller houses, and some long block buildings. The property, divided in many places by rail fences, extended forever, covering at least one hundred acres, I'd heard, but since it shared a border with the battlefield, there seemed to be no end to it. Even I, an outsider, knew Mack Macmillan's campaign slogan had been “Mack-a man like you,” meant to convince his constituents he was really just a good old boy. He may have called his home Shoestring Hill Farm, but it reeked of money. Lots of it.
I pulled into a gravel area, where at least ten trucks and horse trailers were already parked, and followed the sound of voices to the barn. As I walked in, conversation stopped and about twenty pairs of eyes turned to stare at me. Everyone there wore riding breeches, high leather boots, hunting coats, and black helmets. I suddenly realized that while my high-heeled cowboy boots, fringed leather jacket, and jeans were the proper riding costume for New Mexico, they were all wrong for south-central Pennsylvania. Most definitely wrong! No wonder the woman at Sheetz had laughed at me. I was glad I'd at least left my cowboy hat in the car.
Eyes were politely averted and conversations resumed as I brazened my way through the crowd to find Charlotte Macmillan.
“She's outside, by the pool,” a woman told me.
Charlotte was standing by a long table, on which were several coffee urns and boxes of baked goods. She, too, wore the establishment riding garb. She looked just like everybody else there, except for the tan elastic mask hiding her face. Her lips smiled when she saw me, and she greeted me with as much warmth as if I'd been a member of the royal family come to play polo.
“I was positive you'd take me up on my offer to interview my friends,” she said.
I shook my head. “There's no need for me to do that, Mrs. Macmillan. The police have already verified your-”
“Alibi. You can say it.” Again, I admired her forth-rightness. “And please call me Charlotte. It makes me feel ancient when you call me Mrs. Macmillan.”
That was something I could understand.
“Won't you have some breakfast, Tori?” She pointed to the spread on the table. “The sticky buns are from the new bakery here in town and are just wonderful. I swear a day doesn't go by that I don't buy some.”
Since I'd had to lie down to zip my jeans up that morning, I regretfully turned down the sticky buns but did accept a cup of coffee. It was surprisingly good, putting an end to my theory that nobody in south-central Pennsylvania could make decent coffee.
“Let's pick a horse for you to ride,” she said, linking her arm in mine. “You look like an experienced rider.”
“Don't judge me by my Roy Rogers cowboy suit, please. I've ridden, but I'm no expert.” As we walked toward the horse barn, I heard dogs barking in the distance. “Pets?” I asked.
“No, I breed dogs.”
Moonbeam's roommate, Gloria, had told me that Mack Macmillan lobbied for the puppy-mill people. Had he run one also? “I love dogs. May I see them?”
“I'm afraid not.” She led me into the barn, where there were rows of box stalls on either side. “The bitches get nervous when strangers come around the puppies, Tori.” Three or four horses whinnied a greeting. “How about Maizie here? She's very good-natured.”
I looked up, way up, at the most enormous creature I'd ever seen. Maizie bared her teeth at me. The better to eat you with, my dear. “I think I'll need a steplad-der,” I said.
Charlotte chuckled. “I'll have her saddled up. You two will get along just fine.” She waved to a young man, who put down his pitchfork and came over. With her fingers moving at lightning speed, she signed to him, and he opened the gate to the stall and led Maizie out into the center of the barn.
Charlotte noticed me watching. “I hire hearing-impaired students from the Learning Center,” she said. “It's a good opportunity for them and saves me a little money.”
“Where did you learn to sign?”
“My dear mother taught me. It was my first language. You certainly are full of questions”
“It's my nature as a journalist, I guess.”
“Did your asking questions have anything to do with the arrest of that terrible man yesterday?”
“Woody? No, that came as a surprise to me.”
“You do believe he caused my husband's death, don't you?”
And she thought I asked questions! “Actually, Charlotte, I don't understand how an accident of this nature could have occurred. He's staged dozens of executions and should know how to do it right by now.”
“Maybe it wasn't an accident. That man was known to hold a grudge against Mack.”
She shrugged. “I've always tried to keep my nose out of my husband's business affairs, but there was a time about a year ago when he was trying to buy some farmland east of the battlefield to put up a one-stop shopping mall. The downtown merchants felt it would take business away from them and formed a committee to put a stop to it. Woody was their spokesman. He and my husband had a number of public battles.”
“What happened? Is the mall going to be built?”
“No, while half the people in town were fighting my husband, another developer came in and quietly put up a mall south of the battlefield. Mack blamed Woody and his damn committee for making him miss the opportunity to get rich.”
The horse was ready then. After an embarrassing moment when I couldn't get on Maizie's back and had to be boosted up by two young grooms, Charlotte and I joined the rest of the party, already mounted and eager to ride.
“Perhaps you'll want to take Maizie around the ring a few times to get used to her,” Charlotte said. She appeared to be doubtful of my riding abilities. That made two of us. I'd only used a western-style saddle before. On this, there wasn't even a pommel to grasp. I probably should have been grateful she didn't have me riding sidesaddle.
“Giddyup,” I ordered. Nothing happened. I clicked my tongue against my teeth and nudged old Maizie with my heels. She shot forward, nearly toppling me from my perch.
She galloped right past the entrance to the ring, and I began to fear we'd be in Hanover before she slowed down, but after a minute or two she began to walk more sedately. I managed to pick up the reins and get the horse turned around. The stone farmhouse looked like a dollhouse from where we were.
“Nice and slow, girl. Nice and slow.” Maizie cooperated. I sat high in my saddle wishing Garnet could see me now. The horse seemed to know the way back to the barn without any assistance from me. Shortly, she brought me up to the back of one of the long block buildings I'd noticed earlier. There was a row of metal cages, and inside the cages were dozens of barking dogs. The breeding kennel! As Maizie carried me past, I saw these dogs were living in doggie paradise. Well-groomed dogs in clean cages. So different from what I'd seen at the Amish farm. There were Labs, some adorable beagles and golden retrievers, all the different kinds of outdoorsy dogs one would expect to find at an elegant farm like this.
Maizie took me back to the barn, where the other guests were already mounted and ready to go.
“Where did Maizie take you?” Charlotte asked.
“Just around that building,” I said, pointing to the kennel and not mentioning Maize had taken me on a fifty-mile detour. “Your dogs look very well cared for.”
“I told you not to go back there.”
“I didn't have any choice.” I patted Maizie between her ears.
“Let's go, we're holding up the others.”
I followed her quietly. I think I'd expected the hunting scene from the Albert Finney version of Tom Jones, with dogs chasing foxes and horns blaring, but this was not that kind of day. The horses set off across the fields, some galloping, some trotting, and some, like mine, walking sedately. Charlotte stayed next to me, as if she feared I'd fall off, which was a distinct possibility.
“Now we're crossing into the national park,” she pointed out as we came to a low wall built of heaped gray stones. “We're supposed to stay on the marked trails.” She pointed to a small brown-and-white picture of a horseback rider. “Don't go off alone. People frequently get lost here.”
She led the way, talking to me over her shoulder, pointing out things I never would have noticed if I'd been alone. “The stone walls were here before the battle, built with rocks the farmers cleared from their fields. Just imagine what it must have looked like here, with thousands of young men crouched behind these walls, firing at other young men just a few hundred yards away. We're in Pitzer's Wood, where General Longstreet had his troops on July second. There's an observation tower up ahead if you'd like to climb up and take a look at the area.”
“I'll skip it. I don't like heights,” I told her. “You are certainly knowledgeable about the battle.”
“It's hard not to be when you live here. And my husband was such a historian that he made it all quite real for me.”
“You must hate the idea of moving,” I said.
“I'm not going anywhere. Why did you think I'm about to move?”
“It was something someone said. The checkout clerk at Sheetz asked if I were going to buy the place. I assumed it was for sale.”
“Mack and I had talked about moving to Arizona for his health. Obviously there's no need for me to move now. Let's hurry. The others are already out of sight.”
“Don't you want to be up front with your friends?” I asked as we rode up a steep hill.
“Not really. They all know their way around the battlefield. You don't.”
We were now on a narrow trail, which wound through dense woods. “You can see how easy it would be to get lost,” she pointed out.
Despite the closely set trees, I saw a man walking slowly, holding something in front of him. He noticed us at about the same time, and ducked out of sight behind a tree.
“What do you suppose he's doing?” I asked.
“Poaching. That's a metal detector. He's looking for shallow graves to dig up and rob.”
“Isn't that illegal?”
“Of course it is, but people do it all the time. There's a lot of money to be made in selling things from the battlefield. In the old days, you didn't even have to dig. The stuff was lying all over the ground.” We were on a ridge, now, overlooking woods, fields, and rocky plains.
“That's Little Round Top,” she said, pointing to a hill. That rocky area beneath it is Devil's Den. And just to the side of it is the Wheatfield. There were more than four thousand dead and dying down there on the second day of the battle.”
I wanted to show I knew something about the Battle of Gettysburg, so I asked, “Where did Pickett's Charge take place?”
“Near the visitor center. That's where the High Water Mark is, the place where the South lost the war. After that, on July Fourth, Lee's army began to retreat.”
We rode downhill, through another heavily wooded area. This time, when we came out of the trees, we were not alone. There were two groups of about a dozen people each, gathered around picnic tables, but they didn't look like ordinary picnickers. Many in the first group carried American flags, others signs that said SPARE THE DEER AND NO MORE KILLING AT GETTYSBURG. The picketers in the second group carried signs that said HUNTERS DO IT WITH CLASS AND HUNTERS HAVE RIGHTS TOO. A man with silver hair in the first group looked up at us in surprise. He was no more surprised than I when I recognized Ken Nakamura.
Charlotte dismounted. “Let's stretch our legs a minute. I take it you two have met.”
Professor Nakamura walked over to us and bowed low to me. I did the best I could, bowing from the saddle on top of my horse. He inclined his head just slightly when he turned to Charlotte, a sign of disrespect that she didn't seem to recognize.
Before I dismounted, I took a look around to see if there was a wall or something nearby that I could stand on to get back on Maizie. I spotted a stone wall, about three feet high, and figured that would do.
“What are you doing here?” I asked Ken.
“Protesting the deer hunt. Every year, the park service sends out sharpshooters to thin the deer herd. We want to stop the heartless slaughter of these innocent animals. We try to post a presence every Saturday, at least until we're chased away.”
“And that other group?”
“Hunters who think they, and not the park's official gunmen, should be allowed in to shoot the deer.”
“Can we sit down, please?” Charlotte was fanning her face mask. “This thing is so damn hot. I feel like I've been sweating in a sauna.”
She perched on a boulder near the edge of the woods and patted a spot next to her. “Come sit down, Ken. We haven't talked since Christmas.”
He didn't move.
As if he forgot he was holding a flag, his fingers opened, and he dropped it. “I'll get it,” I said, stepping forward and bending over. I heard a cracking sound and something rushed past my left ear with a whistle. “What the-?”
Another crack off in the distance, caused me to turn back around. Ken Nakamura was on his knees, clutching at his chest. As I stared in disbelief, blood oozed between his fingers. He toppled sideways, and I dropped to the ground beside him.
“Get help,” I cried. The men and women from his group rushed over to us. “Someone's shot him.” I ripped off my jacket and was using it to stanch the flow of blood from his wound.
Even the pro-hunting group had gathered around us by now. With them there, I felt safer, for they protected us from more flying bullets.
“I called 911,” a woman said, showing me her cell phone. “So did I,” said half a dozen other people.
Ken was still conscious but was losing blood rapidly, and I feared for the worst. I kept pressure on the wound and hoped for a miracle. After what seemed like hours, but was in reality only a few minutes, a park ranger car pulled up, followed by an ambulance.
The emergency medical team from the ambulance made us all move back, put an IV in Ken's arm, did their best to stabilize him, then carefully placed him on a stretcher that they then carried to the ambulance.
“Can I go with him?” I asked. “I'm a friend of the family.” That wasn't exactly a fib; after all, I'd had dinner with his daughter-in-law only a few days ago.
“I guess,” one of the EMTs said, and I climbed into the back of the ambulance before he could change his mind.
I leaned out of the door. “My horse!”
“I'll take care of Maizie,” Charlotte called. “Please call and let me know how he's doing.”
As the emergency vehicle bounced across the field, the EMT asked me, “What happened?”
“Somebody was shooting in our direction. I heard at least two bullets. I was right next to Professor Naka-mura, talking to him, when he was hit.”
“Lots of boulders in Devil's Den. The shooter could have been hiding out there. I'd better call the park service and have them search the area.”
“He's had plenty of time to get away. We were all so busy tending to Ken that we wouldn't have seen him.”
“I wonder why this happened,” the technician said. “Was it some nut protesting the protest? Or a hunter taking advantage of the confusion to bag himself a deer?… Does Professor Nakamura have any enemies that you know of?”
“I don't really know him all that well,” I admitted. The medic looked sharply at me. “I'm more of a friend of a relative.”
At the hospital, I hung around outside the emergency room until Moonbeam arrived. “My ex is on the road with the high school football team, so I can't even let him know.” We hugged, then she went inside to see how Ken was doing. I promised to wait for her.
Soon I was approached by two policemen who said they wanted to ask me some questions. One of them whipped open a notebook and asked my name.
When I said, “Tori Miracle,” the two men exchanged glances I didn't understand. I proceeded to tell them everything I had seen and heard just prior to the shooting, which wasn't much. “I didn't even realize what was happening, until I saw Ken Nakamura bleeding from the chest.” I couldn't even tell them what direction the shots had come from.
The man with the notebook wrote down everything I said. When I was finished, he said, “Are you Tori Miracle from Lickin Creek?”
“Why, yes, I am. How did you know that?”
“I have a report on my desk from the park service. There was a Tori Miracle caught acting in a suspicious manner around the exhibit cases at the visitor center yesterday. Was that you?”
I acknowledged that it was indeed me. “But I wasn't doing anything wrong. I was only trying to see how difficult it would be to steal something.” They exchanged those glances again, and I realized that had not been a smart thing to say.
“And you don't think that's odd behavior?”
“I wasn't charged with anything.”
“I know that,” the policeman said, snapping shut his notebook. “But you'd better be aware we'll be keeping a close eye on you from now on.”
Moonbeam came out of the ER, looking terribly downhearted, and answered a few questions about why her father-in-law had been on the battlefield. “I understand you have a close relationship with Woody Woodruff,” one said.
“I do.” Moonbeam looked defensive. I couldn't blame her.
“He's in jail, isn't he? For another shooting?”
“No, he isn't. I bailed him out last night.”
After a few more questions, the police seemed satisfied that they'd gotten all there was to get from us, and left.
As soon as we were alone, I asked, “How could you afford to post bail, Moonbeam? You said you had no money.”
“I used my house as collateral. It's all I had. Don't look at me that way, Tori. He'll pay me back.” She appeared so dejected, I didn't tell her what I thought of her boyfriend. “You don't think they're going to blame this on him, too, do you?”
“Just because he had the opportunity doesn't mean he had a motive. I don't think there's any reason to worry.”
“Please don't leave me,” Moonbeam said. “I don't want to wait alone.”
Ken was transferred to the Cardiac Care Unit, and Moonbeam was allowed to visit him for five minutes every hour. Once, while she was in there, I took a chance on going down to the lab to see if I could get my biopsy results. “Sorry,” the woman behind the desk said. “We send those reports to your doctor. You'll have to get them from him.”
“My doctor is a she. And she's dead. Can't you please-”
“It will be sent to his, I mean her, office, and that office will forward them to the doctor who takes over the practice. You'll probably hear something in a week or two.”
I grumbled and snarled all the way back to the CCU, but there was absolutely nothing I could do. Moonbeam thought I was upset about Ken, and took my hand and tried to console me by saying, “He's going to be fine, Tori. I know he is.”
Finally, a doctor came out and told us Ken was stabilized. “Why don't you go home and get some rest,” he said to Moonbeam. “We'll call you if anything changes.”
She nodded, and we walked slowly to the door. “Can I ride with you to Lickin Creek?” she asked. “I need to feed Dad's pets, and I don't think I'm up to driving alone.”
For either of us to get to Lickin Creek meant I had to go back to Shoestring Hill Farm to retrieve my car.
Moonbeam drove, and Charlotte met us in the parking lot.
“How is he?” she asked. “I've been so worried.”
“Stable,” Moonbeam told her. And she added optimistically, “He's going to be all right.”
We transferred to my car for the trip back to Lickin Creek. Moonbeam sat quietly next to me, sniffing occasionally into a Kleenex. Once we were in the borough, she directed me to Ken's house, which was in the historic district near the college.
She had a key to the back door. We walked through a small vestibule into the large, sunny kitchen, which was swarming with small dogs and cats. “Gloria knows what a softy Dad is,” Moonbeam said as she began to open cans of cat food. “If she rescues a small animal that nobody wants, she knows she can always count on him to take it in.”
A small white dog with fluffy hair, black-rimmed eyes, and a curly tail put his paws on my knees and begged to be loved. I picked him up and was surprised to find he weighed a lot less than my Fred. “I saw some dogs like this at an Amish farm recently. Only not groomed. In fact they were a disgusting mess. I told Gloria about it. I hope she follows through. What is he?”
“He's a bichon frise. I think they're distant relatives of the poodle family. Very popular and expensive, right now. The farmer's probably making a lot of money supplying pet stores with bichon puppies.”
I reluctantly put the sweet little ball of fur down and helped Moonbeam by scooping dog food into a row of bowls along one wall of the kitchen, while she tended to the ferrets in the next room. There were birds and guinea pigs upstairs, a black-and-white gibbon in the living room, and a snake in a terrarium in the dining room.
“Having to look at that every mealtime would be enough to make even me give up eating. Come to think of it, maybe I should get one, I might actually stick to my diet.”
“I understand they eat snakes in China,” Moonbeam said.
“They do. There's a place in Taipei called Snake Alley where you can pick out a live snake, and they'll skin it and cook it for you right there. I think of it every time I go to a restaurant that has live lobsters on display for customers to choose from. That makes me sick, too.”
Finished with the feeding, we went back into the kitchen. The cats and dogs were chewing with relish. Each animal had its own dish, and I was glad to see there was no fighting.
On the kitchen table were several scrapbooks and a notebook. “I wonder what Dad's working on,” Moonbeam said. “He didn't mention any research project to me.” She opened the top scrapbook and looked at the first few pages. “This is wonderful. I've never seen these before. It's family stuff,” she said. “Maybe he's going to write a family memoir. Just look here, these are Ken's grandparents. See how distinguished they look. I'm so glad somebody took the time to write names under the pictures, otherwise I wouldn't know who they were if…”
“He's going to be all right,” I reassured her.
She smiled bravely and stared for a long time at the stiff portrait of a solemn-looking young woman in a formal kimono and a distinguished gentleman in a morning suit. She turned the page, revealing a family group, mother, father, and two children. “Ken's mother and father. The baby is Ken. The older boy's name is Masao. I wonder who he was?”
“I don't think so. Dad's never mentioned a brother.”
“Maybe a cousin, then. Or a friend. You can ask him when he's feeling better.” Please let there be the opportunity, I prayed.
She picked up the notebook and opened it. “It's all in Japanese. Dad said you speak the language. Can you read it?”
“I never learned how,” I admitted. Learning to read Japanese had been on my list of things to do longer than starting a diet.
She put the notebook down and picked up another scrapbook. The black pages were covered with the kind of black-and-white snapshots found in almost any family scrapbook, children playing on a lawn, a fishing boat at a dock with its small crew waving from the deck, school photos, backyard barbecues, unnamed adults smiling at the unseen photographer. Then she turned a page to reveal a yellowed piece of folded newspaper. She unfolded it carefully and laid it on the table. It was page 1 of a Long Beach, California, newspaper, dated December 7, 1941. The headline read JAPANESE ATTACK PEARL HARBOR.
I turned the next page of the scrapbook and found another clipping, this one dated December 9, 1941, which reported that President Roosevelt had declared the attack on Pearl Harbor a “day of infamy.” The headline simply said WAR.
Glued to the following pages were more articles about the early days of the war in the Pacific, all from Los Angeles area newspapers. I read through them with some interest, remembering that my grandfather had served with the navy in the Pacific during WWII. I stopped when I came to a folded piece of paper, which had been inserted between two pages but was not glued in. I carefully unfolded it, noticing that it was already torn in several places and had holes in it as if it had been thumbtacked to something. It was a poster, I realized, carrying the notice ALL PERSONS OF JAPANESE ANCESTRY, BOTH ALIEN AND NONALIEN, WILL BE EVACUATED FROM THE ABOVE DESIGNATED AREA BY 12:00 NOON. Penciled on the bottom was a date: 04/07/42. I had a funny feeling I knew what was coming. There were no more family photos, no more fishing boats, no more happy faces. There was nothing more in the album.
“Did your father-in-law ever tell you he was interned during the war?” I asked.
“What do you mean by interned?” Moonbeam stared blankly at the poster, uncomprehending. “I don't understand. What does this mean?”
“It means all Japanese Americans on the West Coast were put into camps for the duration of World War II.”
She gasped. “Dad's never said anything about it. I never heard of such a thing.”
“It's a shameful part of American history that isn't taught in schools, Moonbeam. “It's not something the ‘land of the free’ acknowledges with pride.”
“How come you know about it, then?”
“I didn't go to American schools.”
“Tell me what happened,” she begged.
“I don't know the details, Moonbeam. You should ask your father-in-law about it. I do know that more than a hundred thousand people were imprisoned, including small children, even babies.”
“But not if they were American citizens, right?”
“It didn't matter if they were American citizens or not. If they had even one drop of Japanese blood, the government looked at them as security risks.”
“I am shocked. I wish he'd talked to me about this. It's part of my daughter's heritage.”
I patted her hand gently. “I'm sure he was going to, Moonbeam. That's probably why the books are on the table.”
I stayed with Moonbeam until Gloria and Tamsin arrived. They were prepared to console her by holding a drumming session, so I quickly said good-bye and left.