A little girl is sitting next to a
window looking out onto a busseling cobbled street.. Chinese women are shaking
out rugs, engaging in the usual gossip and chasing unruly children. Men are
gathering at the corner for their daily game of Wei Chi
year of our Lord 1792..
An older woman walks into the room. Dressed in travel
Child are ye
ready to go? Do you have yir doll? Please dont forget it this time. We
have to leave in a few minutes.
Sarah (10 years old)
Aye.. Ma Ma! I have Julie. Dont
worry I wont leave her.
Why is it that we have to leave again?
Auch.. it the Manchus magistrate..He
wants all the Western traders out of Shanghai as soon as possible. Seems they
have had some trouble with illegal trading of weapons with the Han Chinese. But
dont you worry we will be back at Glen Affrie before you know it
Will Daddy still be coming on the ship?
morning he sent McDougal with a message saying that he would be tied up and
would be able to join us until later. He said that you are not to worry he has
arranged safe passage all the way to Glasgow. Now we have to hurra. Nannie is
waiting doonstairs and the carriage has arrived
The docks are
busier than normal. Traders and their crews are frantically running all over
checking their loads and preparing for the journey. I can recognize some of
them but frankly I am surprised at the number trying to leave all at
I am looking
out into the harbour now. Royal British fleet ships have arrived to assist with
the traders evacuation.. Chinese junk boats are manoevering themselves
around the great ships with ease..almost as though they never existed.
I can see him now.. Hes chasing a
black cat.. Must be one of the ship rat catchers trying to slip off the ship to
steal some fish from the merchants..
sees me and smiles. I know that smile. I have seen it a million times. Sparking
eyes with wee dimples in his cheeks. (Voice in the distance)
Lassy you stay put and dont move. Ye dont want to get
mixed up in the chaos and end up in the wrong ship ..Do ye? I'll be back
in a minute..
The cat is coming towards me..Hes
rubbing up against my gown. Oh.. here he comes. He is signaling me to grab the
cat for him. I am smiling..
Thank you lady.. Hes a big cat.. is he not? I
think the ship First Mate will give me a penny for catching him.
You speak good
English. Why dont ye keep the cat? Dont Chinese people eat cats
(He senses Sarah joking..and smiles) No..I will get more money for
returning the cat and will be able to purchase more food for my family.
a better idea. I am sure your Mummy will be very proud of ye! So how is it that
you can speak English?
My Mother (stubbles over his words) work right over
there in the fish market. She has taught me what she has learned from the
sailors. Are you leaving Shanghai today?
Yes..My Mummy should be back any minute now.
Heres yir cat.. Be nice tae him please..
Sarah passes the grey tabby back to
him and smiles.. His hand touches hers during the exchange. A jolt of
electricity surges up through Sarahs veins right to her heart. She looks
at him oddly and steps back.. He is looking at her in the same strange way..
backwards 10..98..7..6.. you can hear my voice
1.. Now open your eyes. Do you
remember where you are?
There is a woman sitting in a leather lounger chair
in a Dr.s office.
(34 year old attractive American woman) Yes. I know where I am now.
Was I under for a long time? It seemed like a long session.
No. Only for ten
minutes. Do you remember everything you saw?
Yeah.. But I still dont
understand how can I go from being in a bomb shelter during the blitz to being
a girl in China in what I think is around the 1700s?
Written by Isabel Hodge