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Thursday, August 29, 2013

The House of Chen Chapter 1


Today begins a new continued story: The adventures of a poor Chinese Girl sold into the care of a rich English lady and the terrors that were waiting for the young girl there.  To not miss any of the coming chapters - - sign up to follow by e-mail in the side bar box.

A Sampan
Courtesy Google Search
It was during the control of Hong Kong by the British that this story occurred.

Going back several years The House of Chen were honored merchants with several Junks that plied their trade in the ports of China.  The elder Chen had inherited much wealth but with each generation it was diminished due to the distribution of the wealth among the children.

The last of the Chen family with money was Cheng Chao Chen, but as he aged his sons wasted the last of their estate.  Cheng was left with what amounted to a couple of Sampans anchored at Hong Kong.

Along with the loss of wealth was the loss of social standing.  The once proud clan was now just another poor family trying to survive.

The family consisted of the aged grandmother, Cheng and his wife along with four boys.  He was lucky to only have boys for they were able to earn a little money to help the family survive.

Then the last thing they wanted to happen occurred.  A baby girl was born to the House of Chen.  She was a fine looking child but Cheng said when she gets older she will eat too much and we won’t have enough food for us all.  

Cheng told his wife to let it slip overboard into the water like so many others were doing.   His wife put it off saying she would nurse the child and it wouldn’t cost anything to feed it but after two years the father caught the mother giving the child a little rice and demanded she do as he had said.

The mother wrapped the child in a piece of linen and was preparing to release the child into the Hong Kong bay at night for that was the practice, when the grandmother grabbed the child away from the mother and retreated back to where she stayed on the Sampan.

The mother was frantic for her husband had threatened her if she didn’t obey and she tried to wrestle the child from the grandmother, but when she was stuck with a small knife by the grandmother she withdrew leaving the child with the grandmother.  Then she went and told her husband what had happened.

He went over to the Sampan and was going to rip the child from his aged mother.  When he saw the knife she had and the menacing motions she was making toward him, he retreated and made some threats which she ignored.

From that time on the grandmother shared her food with the child and named her Cheri Leng Chen.  There were no further threats to Cheri but her grandmother never let her out of her sight.

Perhaps it was just because Cheri was intelligent or because her grandmother taught her all the wisdom of their ancestors she possessed; but Cheri was exceptionally gifted, and had to temper her smarts with wisdom so as not to put down her brothers.

One by one the brothers left the home of their father and sought something better for them-selves.  

Cheri’s grandmother was ailing and she didn’t have many days left on earth so now it was Cheri’s turn to protect her grandmother.  

With the boys gone they only needed one Sampan to live on so the Cheng sold one of them and this bought enough rice for their remaining years.

A series of events were going to transpire that would change the fortunes of the girl Cheri.

One of the British officials who had been posted there had two sons and one daughter and it was time for them to return to England for their education.

The English mother had some difficulty in letting her daughter go for her studies, but finally consented to allow it.  The house was quiet and lonely for the mother without her children.  The father was too busy to notice his wife’s sadness because he was often away on the state’s business.

The mother decided that maybe having another child from among the local castoffs might give her some relief from her solitude.  

She gave strict instructions to the head house maid as to what she wanted and warned her not to bring anything else for they would never do.
            
The first day the maid went out looking brought no results, but later in the week she spied Cheri selling some goods she had acquired by bartering.

The maid inquired as to who she might be, and talked to several store keepers about her.  As it turned out she decided Cheri might just do.

She went aboard the Sampan and started to explain what she had in mind when the father deferred to the grandmother.

After four hours of explaining that Cheri would be living in a grand house and she would be perfectly safe the grandmother agreed and put her knife away.

To be Continued

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