Love in the Land of Dragons

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 18 (v.1) - Chapter 18

Submitted: December 29, 2015

Reads: 336

Comments: 10

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Submitted: December 29, 2015

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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

 

Miss Chang came out to the porch carrying a tray with two cups of freshly brewed tea.

"Thank you, Miss Chang," Elizabeth Ander said, as she took a cup.

"Yes, thank you," Grace Seton added, while taking the other cup, "you're such a dear," which won Grace a scowl from Miss Chang, who scurrried back into the house.

Grace sat her tea cup down on the bench space between her and Elizabeth, then reached into her shirt's right pocket and took out a cigarette and holder. She placed the end of the cigarette into the holder and, taking out a box of matches from her pants pocket, struck a match to light the cigarette. She inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, as the bluish smoke swirled lazily about her.

"So Lizzie, you want to know about the illustrious Mr. Carlton Chambers, eh?"

"Yes, I want to know everything about him."

"Didn't you two talk when you were out on your picnic? Or were you both too 'busy' doing other things?"

Grace gave Elizabeth a most mischievous smile.

"Gracie!!" Elizabeth giggled, as her face turned a dozen shades of red.

"Oh, don't play innocent farm girl with me, young lady," Grace teased, "it's you quiet types one has to watch out for."

"No, I assure you I kept my honor intact."

"That's what I was afraid of," Grace laughed.

"It's just that with Carlton, every question answered just leads to two more questions."

"Well, ain't that the truth with all men?" Grace winked, as Elizabeth smiled.

"There's just so much I still don't know about him."

"Well, sit back and let Aunt Gracie bring you up to par."

Grace took another puff off her cigarette, then took the whiskey bottle and poured a bit into her tea and took a swig, as Elizabeth took a sip of her own tea.

"You know he's a wanted man, don't you?"

"What??!!" Elizabeth called out in shock, almost choking on her tea.

"The rebels have a million yuan reward out for his death or capture. As one of those Zane Grey dime novels would put it: he's wanted dead or alive."

"But why would anyone want him dead?"

"To many he represents the devil himself," Grace explained, "As you've obviously already gathered after your experience being shot, China is in turmoil. The so called 'established government' wants to open up their markets to the western world. There's millions of dollars to be had in China's emerging markets.

"But many Chinese resent the west barging in and taking over their land and their culture. On one side is the industrialists. On the other, the rebels, who'd love to rid China of all westerners. Since Carlton represents western interests, he's a prime target. And you, Miss Lizzie, could become a prime target as well."

"Me?! A target?!"

"If word gets out that the handsome and charming representative of the devil is sweet on some young missionary girl from Nebraska, then the answer is absolutely!"

Elizabeth shivered at the thought.

"Well, at least you wouldn't be the only one here at the Sanctuary on a wanted list."

Elizabeth nodded, "Yes, I understand Pia is an escapee wanted for murder."

"Not only Pia but our Miss Chang as well."

"Miss Chang is wanted for murder?!"

"Now that can't be much of a surprise can it, Lizzie?" Grace teased, "I'm not up on all the details but rumor is that several years ago she killed a couple of clientle where she used to work."

"Where was that?"

"At a house of ill repute."

"You're saying Miss Chang...was...a?"

"Murderous whore?! You bet she was, that's why she took refuge here."

"So like Pia, she's under the protection of the church?"

Grace smiled cynically, "Well, Pia and Chang are more like under the protection of the monthly "donations" Father Johnny makes to that prick, Sergeant Kiang and his army of thugs to look the other way."

"I do remember a few weeks ago," Elizabeth added, "I accidentally overheard Father Polsky and Carlton discussing something in the Father's study and I saw Carlton hand over an envelope."

"Give that girl a cigar!" Grace laughed, "And Father Johnny uses that money for more than just teaching the kids English."

"But why would Carlton's employer be donating so much money to a Sanctuary?"

"Seems the western industrialists are using all of the sanctuaries across China to try and help them win the hearts and minds of the people, but it goes way beyond that and this is where it gets to be quite the sticky wicket."

"What do you mean?"

"I've heard that Standard Oil believes the rebels have planted spies within the sancuaries and that some of the leaders themselves are affiliated in some way. So they want the priests to provide them with information as who those rebel affiliates might be."

"You know this for a fact, Gracie?"

"From Father Johnny himself."

"Father Polsky told you this?"

"Well, he didn't intend to but a while back, when I was on a stop over, I had brought some whiskey Johnny had requested and he opened up the bottle and we shared a bit of the 'ol spirits. It loosend him up enough to tell me a few things he probably shouldn't have. I really feel sorry for Johnny, though."

"How so?"

"Carlton has placed him between a rock and a hard place. If he doesn't give Carlton the information he seeks, the donantions will quickly dry up."

"And if he gives Carlton what he's seeking?"

"Then if word gets back to the rebels that Father Johnny is a stool pigeon...well..I wouldn't want to be around when that rice hits the bowl."

Elizabeth frowned, "I guess I never realized"....

..."What a twisted web you've found yourself in?" Grace noted.

Elizabeth nodded.

"And I'd guess they never mentioned any of this to you back in Nebraska during the interview you had for this position, did they?"

"No, they did not."

"Did they mention Alice Riley?"

"Alice Riley?"

"Well, don't tell Father Johnny or Carlton I told you this but I think you should know."

"I should know what, Gracie?"

"Just like you, Alice was a sweet girl. I think she said she was from somewhere in Oregon. She was the missionary here just before you arrived."

Elizabeth then remembered something Carlton had mentioned when he had met her at the dock when she first arrived. He had said he was relieved Elizabeth hadn't brought along as much luggage as had the previous missionary.

"So Alice decided one day to go for a walk by herself and explore some of the surrounding countryside and" .....

Grace then paused to take another drag on her cigarette, then another sip of tea. Elizabeth noted it was a long sip.

"You're scaring me, Gracie. What happened to her?"

"They eventually found her nude body in a ravine about a mile from the Sanctuary. She had been raped and decapitated."

Elizabeth gasped.

"So Lizzie," Grace graciously wondered, "you want that sip of whiskey yet?"

Elizabeth, without hesitation, held out her cup of tea.

 


© Copyright 2018 Nikki Evans. All rights reserved.

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