Pon’s memories

A portrait of Master Chen and his Dragon self

Master Chen and his Dragon self

As Pon lay in his bunk, he remembered Master Chen, Mistress Ching’s father, and his variable temper, his laughter like demons.  But that was better than the Master at his worst.  Those days everyone hid or ran away for the dragon came.  Master Chen Changed and became the Dragon, the wrong Dragon.  Pon didn’t know how it had happened that the Chens had become Dragons of pain instead of Dragons of wisdom but generations before a Chen had performed an act of terrible vengeance and in so doing the universe had seen fit to bring down fire upon all Chens.

Most Chens were gone now, driven away into the mountains or from their lands or killed.  But Master Chen had thrived and had had a daughter, but had in the process killed his wife.  The daughter, Tian Shih, had grown up without her mother, with Pon and Ting Ting to guide and shield her.

She had shown none of the Dragon blood until her coming of age, her blood year, when on a Day of Woman, she grew angry and Changed.

Pon had not been with her—of course he had not been with her of a Day of Woman, but Ting Ting had, and she had fainted as her mistress Changed and became a Fox of great beauty and jumped from the window into the forest.

A portrait of a Chinese fox woman as she Changes

A portrait of a Chinese Fox woman as she Changes

Master Chen had raged.  “A Fox woman!  There will be no Fox women in my family!”  But it was true.  And Tian Shih had returned after nightfall and became herself again.

Tian Shih and her father had never had a true father-daughter relationship—Pon was more a father to her—but after her Change, Master Chen never spoke kindly to Tian Shih again.  Tian Shih found interest in books and travel, Pon having found her a tutor who asked no questions about her periodic absences, so she began to thrive as a woman of beauty and intelligence with Ting Ting and Pon at her side.

Suddenly, as she reached the age of 16 years, Master began proceedings for her marriage, choosing a simpering young man, Master Ching, of equal wealth whom she had never met.  Their wedding was extravagant and exceedingly boring for Tian, but she could not refuse her father, the Dragon and ruler of her life.  She became Mistress Ching Shih reluctantly and moved from her father’s house to the adjacent building, although traditional held that she should have gone to her new husband’s home; however, no one refused Master Chen’s wishes to have his daughter and son-in-law under his roof.

Portrait of Tian Shih before her wedding

Portrait of Tian Shih before her wedding

Pon and Ting Ting went with her, Pon as her man servant and guard and Ting Ting as her woman servant and mother and both as her only friends.  Her new husband had nothing in common with her.  He spent the days sleeping, smoking opium, visiting with friends, and at night would dress magnificently and go out to the districts where drugs, gambling and women were commodities.  Pon had followed Master Ching once or twice to see where he went, but Master Ching’s own guards were very good, and Pon soon lost the Master’s whereabouts in the twisted back alleys.

Tian did not suffer at first.  She continued her studies, bringing in scholars and objects and animals that interested her.  But her nature began to assert itself and she became restless in her house.  She went before her husband and requested a journey, not far, just to visit a shrine of interest and a library.  Master Ching, perhaps unwisely, perhaps a lingering of  opium, looked contemptuously at his beautiful wife, who stared at him fearlessly.

“And why should I let you go?” he spat.  Tian was startled.  She had not considered the possibility that her husband, who had shown no interest in her, even on their wedding night, would care whether she traveled or not.  “Husband, do you have need of me?” she asked quietly.  “Have need of you?  Have need of you?” Master Ching’s voice rose.  “You are useless to me.

 

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8 Responses to “Pon’s memories”

  1. gailkav Says:

    This unfolding story is fascinating. Gypsies love stories – tell on.

  2. dg Says:

    I am very much enjoying these beginning scenes. I can’t wait to see what plots spring forth from these knotted beginnings…

  3. Anita Marie Says:

    I love feeling that shift in a story, the timing in this is wonderful.

  4. Heather Blakey Says:

    I love stories too. You may keep me amused 🙂
    E

  5. FairyRainbow Says:

    Curiouser and curiouser…do tell on! Oh, and perhaps the Master Ching did not really go the back alleys to find women there? Also, why didn’t the mistress turn into a fox and follow the master in this guise? This story has hooked me!

  6. Sue Says:

    Lots of interesting background to the story. Looking forward to what follows.

  7. pearlz Says:

    Some excellent writing, with lots of productive conflict between the father and daughter to follow as a reader….

  8. Heather Blakey Says:

    I have just been refreshing myself by reading some of the background of Mistress Ching. This really is stunning writing Sen.

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