a performance


Mistress Ching Shih

Mistress Ching Shih

Tian Shih shushed herself.  How could she be nervous in front of these people who did not even know her?  But her performances thus far had been for families and friends.  She was dressed in her finest clothes, her floor length hair completely subdued under glittering hair ornaments.  Ting Ting shuffled along behind her.  As she entered the theatre, she saw L’Enchanteur in her glory and was momentarily stunned and humbled.  Arrayed about her were the officers of the ship, and Tian Shih made low bows to each, hands pressed together at her forehead.  

She met the eyes of the captain who was swinging a roll of duct type around her wrist.  The captain seemed amused.  Why amused?  Tian swiftly checked her clothes for tears or problems but there were none.  Perhaps this amusement was meant as an attempt at friendship.  Other cultures were difficult waters to navigate. L’Enchanteur indicated that she should approach, and Tian Shih reached into her hidden pocket and retrieved the gift and extended her hand, palm up with the walnut in it.  “I am honored to receive this gift,’ she said in her clear accent-less voice.  L’Enchanteur reached down and clasped her hand around Tian Shih’s hand, enclosing the walnut inside.  “May it bring you the dreams you desire, ” she said, or so Tian thought she said, although later she wasn’t sure if the words were spoken or had just been in her head.  Her Fox self chuckled wickedly and decided that later that night would be a good time for hunting.  

Tian Shih turned and walked to the stage.  As she faced the men and women around her, she couldn’t help but notice the presence of several interesting passengers.  A bright green skirt shone briefly in the lights as a smiling woman passed the stage.  The fairy was in the room somewhere, Tian could feel her and a young woman, neatly dressed in the latest style sat at a table with another young man and woman who paid no attention but to each other.  This young woman stared at Tian but her face had a sadness about it.

Tian Shih briefly closed her eyes to block out the minds and eyes of the audience and then she launched into her operatic performance.  She had worked hard over the years to be prepared for a performance such as this, practicing the traditional acrobatics, musical instruments, singing and gestures.  

Tian Shih had chosen a section from ‘Women Warriors of the Yang Family’, an opera depicting the triumph of the Yang matriarchs over the  the Si Xia army.  It was an unusual opera because women were featured in most major roles, but that  was why it appealed to Tian Shih.

The audience was eerily silent as she performed her movements deftly and her high-pitched voice leapt from one note to the next as dextrous as the wind.  A drum and a guzheng played softly as an accompaniment, causing some of the listeners to crane their necks to find the musicians, but they would look in vain.  Tian Shih had arranged her musicians herself and they would disappear as quickly as they had appeared when she finished her piece.

As she neared the end and the music trailed off, she sank to the floor in the silence.   For a moment, no one spoke or moved.  Then L’Enchanteur rose and began to clap and applause followed.  Tian Shih rose, bowed low to the audience, then turned and bowed lowed to L’Enchanteur.  The people aboard this ship may not have realized what they had witnessed, but L’Enchanteur had and she was pleased.

Tian Shih left the theatre trailing her robes with her head high, Ting Ting behind her muttering as usual.  Tian would be glad to be in her cabin again to savor the experience of performance.

(Note:  if you wish to listen to Chinese opera, please go to Women Warriors of the Yang Family.  Skip the first 3 minutes unless you speak Mandarin.)


14 Responses to “a performance”

  1. Fran Says:

    We all enjoyed the performance. Wee Angus says it wasn’t that much different from a good skirrrrrel of the pipes. CP

  2. gailkav Says:

    Ching Shih is hot! (so is Gong Li) Her performance was breathtaking.

  3. rosylee Says:

    That was the best peformance, Senua. Such vivid description.

  4. fairyrainbow Says:

    My dearest Lady Ching. I offer you a gift of a black walnut shell, but it is not empty: Inside you will find a small, but exquisitely decorated, Kitsune Mirror. I traded it for a magical box from a Black Dutches years ago, but I believe your performance tonight is worthy of such a gift. I hope that you will accept it.

    I would also love to see you when you hunt, as I believe you now have more than one tail…your wisdom shines through in your dignity and calm manner.

  5. Thalia Says:

    great story with intriging characters. The detail adds so much to the overall impact.

  6. kvwordsmith Says:

    A well-crafted, intriguing story. Is she a Fox maiden? I’m sure we’ll find out before the voyage is over!

  7. woodnymph Says:

    Looking forward to seeing much more of Lady Ching.

  8. porchsitter Says:

    Exquisitely lovely performance.

  9. shewolfy728 Says:

    What a wonderful performance! The variety and level of talent aboard the SSVulcania is something to be marveled at!

  10. Jill Says:

    Such a superb performance, mesmerising and beautiful.

  11. Anita Marie Says:

    You want to get at that Captain?
    Ask about the Rice Pudding incident.
    That”ll wipe that look of amusement off her face

  12. pearlz Says:

    Wonderful descriptions of the movement of the character and of her attire.

  13. Sue Says:

    Very descriptive. I had a chinese opera playing in my imagination while reading it.

  14. Heather Blakey Says:

    I am not sure why I had not actually noted what a wonderful performance this was. Maybe I was simply caught contemplating, wondering about the hunt the fox would go on once the performance was complete. Wonderful detail here.

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