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xlwoo
August 27th, 2015, 02:29 PM
Chapter 4

It seems in men’s disposition to prefer beautiful girls and always wish to possess them as their property. In the feudal China, women did seem to be men’s property. They could sell their women to anyone they wanted to or even give away as gifts. Quite a few men would bet their wives on the gambling table when they lost everything else. If they lost again, their wives would change hands like some goods.
Since Green Phoenix and Linda arrived in the bazaar, two men had followed them everywhere. They were woman-mongers and planned to kidnap them and sold them for a handsome price as both girls were so beautiful. But when they saw that Green Phoenix had kungfu, they almost lost hope. Then they saw Linda alone among the crowd and so they sneaked close to her and put a handkerchief dipped in some kind of medicine akin to chloroform over her nose. When she would fall in a swoon, they gently supported her and pulled her away. They stuffed her into a carriage drawn by a horse, which they got ready all the time. They would sell her to a whorehouse.
The carriage rolled to the notorious Qinhuai River in the southeast of China. It was well-known for the Flower Boat. Those boats were decorated pompously. Every boat, slowly gliding on the smooth water, was a floating brothel. The girls there were divided into classes. Girls of the lowest class would have sex with patrons while girls of the highest class only entertained their patrons with singing, dancing or chess-playing with them. The most famous ones could even draw pictures and write poems. If getting a poem or a painting from a famous girl, a patron would proudly show it to his friends because it meant that he had a special relationship with the girl. He would let them guess in what stage their relationship reached. Some friends might tease him with a fond surmise that he had had sex with the girl, who would never have that with any patrons except the one she was really in love with. Even for the lover, she would not have sex with him until after marriage. Of course, they kept the joke a secret among themselves and did not dare to let the girl know, or the girl would refuse to see the man again for spreading the rumor about her and marring her good reputation.
All the girls were bought young and taught singing and dancing, arts and literature. They could play some kind of musical instruments like lute or fife. And of course, the charges were much higher than those in the whorehouses on land.
Since Linda was beautiful and special, any procuress would pay a high price for her though she was not so young. The two woman-mongers parked their carriage on the bank under a large tree. One of the men would go to a bawd, with whom they had done a lot of business. He rented a small boat and took Linda in it to a huge boat almost anchoring in the midstream.
When Linda came to, she found herself in a dark space like in a tiny room. Only it was moving. She was bound hand and foot, but nothing gagged her mouth. She yelled “Help!”
“Shut up!” A man climbed in, holding a bright sharp dagger. “If you do what we bid, we’ll treat you well. If you want to run away, we’ll kill you without hesitation. Understand?” Linda could not but nod her head in spite that she did not fully understand what he was saying. But she could guess under such circumstances. In the dim interior, she was not sure that the man could see her nodding. Since Linda kept silent and quiet, the man did not make any move or say anything more.
Several days later, they reached the riverside. The man ordered her to come out and hurried her into a small boat. After a while they got on board a huge beautifully adorned boat. The man left Linda in the outer cabin in the custody of another guy working for the bawd when he himself entered an inner cabin where he met the bawd. There was only a velvet curtain hanging in the doorway between the two cabins.
“Dear Madam,” said the man, “we have a precious piece of goods for you.”
“I know.” smiled the bawd. “You always keep the best girls for me, and I always pay you more than other madams. We both have what we want.”
“So, it’s pleasure to do business with you.”
“Where’s she? Show me the goods and we’ll see how much she’s worth.”
The man pulled aside the curtain and beckoned Linda to come in. Linda obeyed. At the sight of the special girl, the eyes of the bawd became wide and bright. She had never seen a girl with golden hair, and so beautiful. Even her favorite girl, Peony (the bawd liked her girls to use nicknames picked from flowers), was pale in comparison to her. The girl was certainly a western beauty she had heard so much about and only today she witnessed one. Linda only knew that she was on a boat, but could not guess what they wanted from her. She had been taught Chinese all the way down here. But they seemed to talk in a jargon. She had to wait and see what would be the result. She did not have the least idea of the prostitute business in ancient China.
Then they both left the inner cabin to finish their trade. The bawd came back after a long while. She told Linda that she must learn something. Linda did not care as long as she had food and board. She learned to sing Chinese classical songs and dances. She thought that they wanted her to perform these to make money. That was easy because she had won the second prize in a girl’s singing contest and had been trained in a ballet class, back in America. So she asked the bawd why not to let her sing and dance in her own way and thus might attract more people. Then she sang an American pop song while twisting her body in a modern American dance to the astonishment and satisfaction of the bawd. She had been endowed with a good sexy voice. Linda did not know that her existence and talent were already known to the outside world, beyond the bounds of the boat. News has wings and travels fast.
All the way towards the east, Green Phoenix kept asking around who had seen a girl with golden hair. Someone said no and someone said yes. The one who said yes had seen such a girl coming out of an inn with two men and even pointed out the direction she had gone. So Green Phoenix followed the clues eastward.
One day, the governor of this province came on the boat and asked to see Linda, now under the nickname of Water Lily. When Linda entered the big guest cabin, he loved her at the first sight. He was an old man and already had wife and three concubines. He wanted Linda to be his fourth concubine. He offered a large sum of money to the bawd, double or even triple to the price the bawd had paid for Linda. The bawd wanted to refuse because Linda was young and would earn her more money in the years to come, but she did not dare to reject as he was the governor.
The governor could hire some experienced administrative persons as his counselors. They had helped all the ex-governors to deal with daily routine. One would help him with legal business. One would attend to all the financial matters. And one would write all the documents for him like a secretary. It was especially important if the governor wanted to write reports or petitions to the emperor. If one word was used wrong, it might cost him his position or even life. This counselor was his first counselor. Now his first counselor accompanied him here. He also loved Linda at the first sight and thought of a way to discourage the governor.
“As Your Excellency know, in this country, everything special must be sent to the emperor. If His Majesty knows that Your Excellency have such a special girl for a concubine instead of sending her to the palace, His Majesty may get angry, and think of the result when an emperor flares up.”
The governor was, of course, afraid of the emperor. So he was contented with her singing and dancing. When he left, besides paying the bawd the dues, he gave Linda personally a ring with a big piece of emerald set on it. Linda thanked him and put the ring on her ring finger. She did not even know that some danger had approached her a while before.
A few days later, the first counselor came and offered the bawd more money than the governor had offered. He was a middle-aged man and had wife and a concubine. The bawd was a clever woman and said to him, “What if the governor, His Excellency, knows that Your Counsellorship have the girl?” He did not think of that in his eagerness to get the girl. He left crestfallen. Now Linda was safe and raked in silver and gold for the bawd everyday. The bawd looked upon Linda as her Ali Baba’s cave, a never-exhausted treasure source. She even thought Linda’s golden hair worth some money. But Linda was contented, making her living by singing and dancing, better than doing wearisome and laborious housework in that old Englishman’s dwelling.
Water Lily became famous. Many young men of rich families came to visit her and asked for her hand, but Linda gave rejection to every suitors. She did not want to marry in China in the sixteenth century, especially not to be a concubine. She had a boyfriend back home. Besides, she was still young, only eighteen. However, in China at that time, a girl became of age at sixteen, the right time to get married. The hair style would tell the difference. Before sixteen, a girl would comb part of her hair upward into pigtails like two horns, about two inches high, which was called fork-styled in Chinese. After that age, she would do her hair into one of many styles that an adult would wear. Therefore, everyone who knew Linda thought that she was already two years past the age she should get married.
One of the young men was of a violent type and particularly unreasonable. He insisted on marrying Linda at any price as his second concubine. At that time in China, rich people only took a girl to wife from an equally rich family. So any girl, though very beautiful, but coming from a brothel or a poor family, could only be a concubine, even if the man had no wife yet. He would get a suitable wife later to help him to manage things of the household.
One day, the young man brought a group of man-servants with him, declaring that he would take Water Lily home today by force if he met with another rebuff and could not get her peacefully. The bawd was terrified and could do nothing in her limited power to protect Linda. And it was futile to report the event to the district authorities, because government officials were always hand in glove with rich people even if they were wrong.
The servants forced Linda to go with them and put her in a small boat they had come in. Linda felt like being kidnapped a second time. The young man and his servants rowed the boat to the river bank. There was a luxuriously decorated coach on the shore, waiting to carry the girl home. So many people were there watching that the traffic was blocked. All wanted to have a look at the girl with the golden hair, whom they had heard so much about.
Green Phoenix stood among the crowds. When she came here, she learned that Linda was in one of the Flower Boats to be a whore. She must deliver her from a hell of a brothel. She had planned to rent a boat rowing around to search all the Flower Boats. Once she found Linda, she would take her away by force. Now she also learned that some violent young man wanted to snatch Linda away from the Flower Boat Linda was in and take her home.
It was a chance and would save her a lot of trouble to search for her. She tied her horse on a tree behind and watched the young man and his servants with Linda among them. When the group approached the coach, Green Phoenix stepped forward, saying, “You can’t take her. She’s my friend.”
“Who are you?” The young man asked. “How dare you to interfere with my business?” He made a sign with his hand to his servants and two of them came up to Green Phoenix. She knew that she could not dissuade the young man. So she just used her kungfu. She swirled her long whip and made the thin end go round the waist of a servant. Then she jerked up the whip and threw the servant into the river. She did the same with the other servants. Seeing this, the young man got into the coach and hurried the coachman to drive away, leaving Linda behind.