Our Hart, Episode 36!
By Lloyd Lofthouse
Robert Hart arrived in China in 1854. By the time he left in 1908, he was the most powerful Westerner in China's history and the only foreigner the Emperor of China trusted. His love and dedication to China was born from the love for one womana love story Robert wanted to hide from the world. I spent a decade exploring China and Hart's life to discover this story.
The rebels attacking Canton had been defeated.
After Horatio returned to Shanghai, Robert wrote a letter to Ayaou. He had difficulty forming the Chinese characters, because his hand was trembling. For that reason, he kept the note brief.
“Ayaou, it’s time to come home. I miss you horribly. You are always in my thoughts. Bring Guan-jiah too.”
It was difficult to stop from pouring his feelings into the letter. In the last line, he told Ayaou to bring Fooyen; she would make a good nanny for Anna. He sent five hundred yuan for Ayaou to give to her cousins to help repair the junk.
* * *
A week later, his boat-girl was back.
She stood before him in the bedroom looking like the girl he’d first met during that battle with the Taipings years earlier. His head was thick with desire. He’d forgotten how good she smelled. He stood behind her while his hands explored. “I’ve missed your beauty,” he said.
“You are a crazy man,” she replied. “I am no beauty. My face is not round and pale like the full moon. You have forgotten how large my feet are. I have high cheekbones and dark skin. In China, this means I am ugly.”
“But I’m not Chinese. I see beauty from a different standard. You’re everything I’ve desired and dreamed of.” He pulled her closer. The familiar curve of her spine against his body was something he’d dreamed about on lonely nights. His starved hands slipped under her clothing to explore the warmth her body offered.
They made love for hours like drunken sailors who had been without Scotch too long and couldn’t get enough.
Karen Lynn Vidra won the drawing for a copy of "Our Hart". Thank you, Karen, for the comments.
Links to Reviews for "Our Hart"
Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
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