Love in the Land of Dragons

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

Chapter 6 (v.1)

Submitted: September 10, 2014

Reads: 352

Comments: 15

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Submitted: September 10, 2014

A A A

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Chapter Six

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Elizabeth Ander’s first week at the Sanctuary House breezed by, as she found herself falling into a comfortable routine.

She always awoke at sunrise, with the help of the ever so punctual crowing of the bandy rooster, then attended the daily breakfast meeting with Father Polsky in the dining hall.

After breakfast, Elizabeth would head over to the classroom to begin the day’s lessons with the ten students assigned to her. When she asked Father Polsky what he expected from her in regards to the lesson plans, he just casually told her that she was to help the students improve their English while teaching an introductory course to the Bible. How she did that, the Priest advised, was entirely up to her.

Classes were held four days a week and lasted only until midday, as the children had to be home by early afternoon to help their families in the fields with planting and harvesting, as well as any other chores that were required.

So Elizabeth would spend the afternoons by herself in the classroom, busily preparing the next day’s lesson plan, while munching on the apples the children would dutifully bring her every morning. In the evening, she would re-join Father Polsky for another delicious dinner prepared by Pia.

Then the good Father would always retire early (after smoking his pipe) which left Elizabeth free for the rest of the evening.

Polsky had offered her the use of his study; the same study in which she had witnessed the strange exchange of the mysterious envelope between himself and Carlton Chambers. He had also encouraged Elizabeth to freely indulge in his collection of books and journals, so she began to read everything she could concerning Chinese culture and customs in which she found so very mysterious and yet so fascinating.

And some nights when she couldn’t sleep, Elizabeth would come downstairs and sit out on the front porch of the Sanctuary House under the soft, flickering light of a kerosene lamp. Then in the coolness of the late summer, she would listen to the sounds of the crickets chirping and watch the ghostly glow of the fireflies as they flitted about. It reminded her of home and how much she missed her family despite her decision to try to escape the heartbreaking memories of her fiancé Seth’s tragic death.

She hadn’t dreamt of Seth, or of Carlton Chambers for that matter, since that first night, but she kept finding herself inadvertently thinking of Chambers. She had a strong desire to ask Father Polsky when Chambers would return but decided not to as she didn’t want to appear to be too forward. So she just kept her silence and focused her mind on the tasks at hand.

Around noon that following Thursday, Elizabeth was about to dismiss her class for the week when suddenly the room started to subtly shudder and she could hear a low rumble that seemed to grow louder by the second.

Thinking it was an earthquake, Elizabeth was about to instruct her students to immediately leave the building, when suddenly the children started to laugh gleefully. Then they proceeded to run out of the room on their own while chanting the word, “CANARY! CANARY!”

Elizabeth glanced over towards Mingxia.

“What is it, Mingxia?”

“Canary now here!” Mingxia oddly replied, as she also hastily exited the classroom. So Elizabeth figured she had no choice but to follow her students to see what exactly was going on.

Once outside, she could hear that the low rumble had quickly become a loud roar, as the children all pointed up towards the bright blue cloudless sky. Elizabeth glanced up just in time to see a vibrantly yellow bi-plane barnstorming the Mission grounds.

The plane sharply banked to the left then swooped back overhead to the children’s delight just before leveling off. Then it slowly and gently touched down on a dusty field just beyond a row of cottages. As it taxied to a complete stop and cut its engine, Elizabeth’s students dashed off to meet the aircraft. Along the way they were joined by children from the other classes. Father Polsky soon arrived and stood next to Elizabeth with a big grin upon his face.

“What’s going on, Father?” Elizabeth confusedly inquired.

“Looks like the mail has arrived,” Father Polsky chuckled.

Elizabeth turned back to see the children playfully surround the pilot, who had already hopped out of the rear cockpit and had reached into the front to pull out a white canvas satchel along with a small brown cloth bag which was then dully handed over to the children. The kids reached into the brown bag to joyfully retrieve an assortment of lollipops. Before long the pilot approached with the canvas satchel in tow.

Elizabeth noted the pilot was dressed very smartly in a long sleeved, brown safari shirt with aviator-style tan pants that flared out just above knee high black leather boots. As the pilot came closer, Father Polsky amusingly called out.

“Well, look who’s here. If it isn’t my favorite angel in the sky.”

The pilot then slipped off the goggles and black soft leather helmet to let her page boy styled reddish hair gently frame her pretty face and profoundly green eyes.

“I may be an angel in the sky,” the female pilot replied with an ever so coy smile, “but I’m still a devil on the ground.”

“How have you been, my dear?” Father Polsky laughed, as they both warmly embraced.

“Well, I’ve been just peachy!" the girl laughed back, "And how’s my favorite priest? You still trying to save all us heathens from going to hell? Although some of us might argue we’re already there.”

“Then all the more reason for me to stay here and fight for your soul,” Father Polsky lightheartedly replied.

Elizabeth could see that Father Polsky seemed very fond of this girl, whom Elizabeth guessed was her age or maybe a year or two older.

“By the way, here’s your mail,” the girl announced, handing the canvas bag over to the good Father, who accepted it with delight. The girl then glanced over towards Elizabeth with a curious smile.

“Oh, pardon my lack of manners,” Father Polsky apologized, “Elizabeth, this is Miss Grace Seton. Grace, this is Miss Elizabeth Anders, our new missionary.”

“Pleased to meet you, Miss Seton,” Elizabeth pleasantly greeted.

“Oh, call me Gracie,” the girl happily replied, reaching out to shake Elizabeth’s hand, “I’m not as formal as Father Johnny.”

“How long can you stay this time, Grace?” Father Polsky asked.

“Not long,” Grace answered, “I have to fly over to Shan Hai before sunset, but I’ll be back in a few days and I promise I’ll stay a little longer.”

“Then I’d better go fetch the outgoing mail for you,” Father Polsky said, as he headed back towards the house.

“So Lizzie,” Grace began, “how long have you been here at the Sanctuary?”

“Just a little over a week.”

“And how do you like it?” Grace further inquired.

“Well, so far it’s been very interesting.”

Interesting?” Grace repeated, with a crooked smile that subtly spread across her lightly freckled face with a pixie like nose, “now that’s a wiggle worm word if ever I’ve heard one. A word that could mean so many things.”

Elizabeth just sheepishly grinned.

“Where are you from?” Grace continued.

“Nebraska.”

“I’ve flown over Nebraska,” Grace noted, “lots of corn.”

Elizabeth subtly smirked, “Yes. Lots of corn. Where are you from, Gracie?”

“Oh, I’ve lived in a lot of places,” Grace demurely replied, “but originally Albany in upstate New York.”

“Well, you certainly have an out of the ordinary job,” Elizabeth noted, “and your plane is quite colorful.”

“She’s a beauty, ain’t she?” Grace proudly proclaimed, “the kids have nicknamed her ‘Canary’ for obvious reasons. I got her back in the States on the surplus market. She’s an Airco-DH4 used during the war. Of course she was painted a dull gray back then, so I had her spruced up a bit.”

“And you use it to deliver the mail?”

“Air mail is the future, Lizzie,” Grace explained, “back in the States the Post Office is considering using this exact type of plane to start cross country carrier routes next year. With its 375 horsepower Rolls-Royce engine, one can make pretty good time. Although the fuel consumption can be a bit of a bear. I have to resort to getting my fuel on the black market, but over here that’s par for the course.”

“Well, it all sounds pretty thrilling,” Elizabeth noted.

“If you’d like,” Grace added, “I’ll take you up for a ride when I get back.”

“Uh, I don’t know,” Elizabeth nervously replied, “I’m kind of fearful of heights.”

“Nonsense, as long as you don’t fall out of the open cockpit when I do a barrel roll,” Grace teased, “you’ll be fine.”

Elizabeth laughed apprehensively.

All of a sudden, they could hear someone yelling. As they turned around, they caught sight of Miss Chang briskly approaching from the house.

“Well, once again look who’s on the warpath,” Grace stated as an aside, while throwing a knowing wink at Elizabeth.

Elizabeth couldn’t help but stifle a giggle at Grace’s comment.

“Why you land in field??!!” Miss Chang vigorously confronted Grace, “You mess it all up for planting! You suppose to land on road out back!”

“Oh, I know where I’m suppose to land,” Grace mockingly replied, “but I wanted to land in the field just so I could get your bowels in an uproar!”

Elizabeth quickly put her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud.

“Oh, you think that funny?” Miss Chang angrily turned towards Elizabeth, “you think she funny girl?!”

Elizabeth nodded while still trying to stem a laugh.

“Miss Chang,” Grace calmly replied, “I have an idea. Why don’t you go and practice your talent for being so obnoxious someplace else. Preferably two provinces over!”

Elizabeth then inadvertently laughed out loud.

With that said, Miss Chang gave both girls a caustic look then turned and irately stomped off.

“By now you’re familiar with our Miss Chang,” Grace turned back to humorously address Elizabeth, “and I swear she’s a shoo in for the world title of Miss Sourpuss 1921. That’ll be quite an accomplishment considering the year ain’t even over yet.”

Elizabeth chuckled, “Well, she does seem to have a problem with me being here.”

“Ah, don’t sweat that wet blanket, Lizzie,” Grace laughed, “Chang has a problem with anybody being here.”

“So what is her problem?” Elizabeth wondered.

“Oh, she has many problems,” Grace now seriously answered, “to use your word, she’s had an interesting life.”

“How do you mean?” Elizabeth wondered, but their conversation was interrupted when Father Polsky returned.

“Here you go, my dear,” the Father said, as he handed the satchel back over to Grace.

“Well then, I'd better get a wiggle on,” Grace said, as she gave the good Father another hug, “you take care, Father Johnny. As I promised, I’ll be back in a few days.”

“Goodbye and Godspeed, Grace,” Father Polsky understandingly replied.

“And it was nice meeting you, Lizzie," Grace stated, as she re-shook Elizabeth's hand, "When I get back, we’ll sit down for a longer chat.”

“I’d like that very much, Gracie,” Elizabeth cheerfully replied.

As Grace headed towards the plane, she slipped her soft leather helmet and goggles back on and called out to the children still playfully running around the plane.

“C’mon kiddos, help me get the this big yellow bird turned about.”

Hurriedly, the children joined her in pushing the bi-plane around to face in the opposite direction from which it landed. Then the children all embraced Grace before she reached into the cockpit to flip on the power. As she instructed the children to stand away from the plane, she went to the front and grabbed a hold of the propeller to spin it for a jumpstart, then stood back as the engine loudly roared to life.

Grace then swiftly jumped into the cockpit and throttled up the engine. The backwash from the propeller created thick clouds of dust as the plane steadily picked up speed before elegantly becoming air born once again.

Grace sharply banked right to fly back over the Sanctuary grounds, then consecutively dipped the plane’s right and left wings in a farewell manuever. The children, as well as Father Polsky and Elizabeth, heartily waved back in kind and watched as the bright yellow plane climbed into the clear blue sky before eventually disappearing over the distant horizon.

“Well, she seemed nice,” Elizabeth said.

“She is,” Father Polsky agreed, “but she’s quite the character.”

“Well, she has quite an exciting job,” Elizabeth added.

“Yes,” Father Polsky delicately smiled, “that’s her job now, but Miss Grace has a restless soul and is a nomad at heart.”

“I guess we’re all wanderers here,” Elizabeth introspectively noted, “in one way or another.”

“Well anyway,” Polsky continued, changing the subject, “Pia should have lunch ready so let’s head on over to the house, shall we?”

As Elizabeth walked along with Father Polsky, she realized she really looked forward to Grace’s return. For not only did Elizabeth like this outgoing and adventurous girl pilot, but figured Grace might also be able to answer some of the questions that has haunted Elizabeth since she arrived at the Sanctuary Mission House just little over a week ago.


© Copyright 2019 Nikki Evans. All rights reserved.

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