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FRAGRANT HARBOUR

"A loaf of bread, the Walrus said, is what we chiefly need..."

from

"The Walrus and the Carpenter"
Through the Looking Glass

by Lewis Carroll

*********************************************

ACT I

PROLOGUE

PLACE: Somewhere on Mainland China

TIME: 1847

At rise: The dim light of an opium lamp is seen at one side of the stage. In the opaque gloom, we see an elderly, emaciated, sallow-faced CHINESE MAN, with hairstyle and dress of the Ch'ing Dynasty, lying on his side on an opium bed. His head is raised up onto a filthy rattan pillow.

HE withdraws a needle from his opium tray and attaches a small quantity of opium. With a circular motion, HE holds the opium to the lamp until it is the treacly consistency of molasses. His voice is scratchy and feeble.

CHINESE MAN
Yong Sang!..Ahee! Children! Come!

(His scene dims nearly to black in which we see barely more than his watery eyes lit by the dancing flame of the opium lamp)

(We hear the laughter of his children and the sound of a Chinese flute. We see a brief dreamlike scene of his SON and DAUGHTER, laughing and playing. The girl tries to run about a tree or large stone to escape, but the boy blocks her way. HE teases her into singing)

SONG: "Something's There"

YONG-SANG
SISTER, WHAT IS ON YOUR HEAD NOW?

AHEE
SOMETHING'S THERE; SOMETHING'S THERE

YONG-SANG
SISTER, HAS A SPARROW LANDED?

AHEE
IN MY HAIR; IN MY HAIR

YONG-SANG
SISTER, WHAT IS IN YOUR HEART NOW?

AHEE
SOMETHING'S THERE; SOMETHING'S THERE

YONG-SANG
SISTER, HAVE YOU FOUND A TRUE LOVE?

AHEE
(hesitantly)
DO I DARE? DO I DARE?

YONG-SANG
(mussing her hair)
You and your "love." How can you believe in something so strange?

AHEE
One day I will know what love is. And I will know what love is for.

(YONG-SANG starts to laugh when, suddenly, the CHINESE MAN laughs. It is the loud laughter of a man deranged by opium. Both CHILDREN grow immediately unhappy and quiet)

CHINESE MAN
Yong Sang! Ahee!

(The children move to him and his scene again lights up. The FATHER hands the opium pipe to the BOY who touches its tiny aperture in the bowl to the flame of the lamp. He hands it back to his father)

(His FATHER takes a deep breath, traps the opium in his lungs, then releases it. He reaches out to his unhappy daughter and grasps her arm. She is crying softly. He stares, sighs and releases her. He turns to his son)

FATHER
You must take care of your sister.

YONG SANG
Yes, father.

FATHER
When I am gone you must leave here and begin to search for a suitable husband for her. Many from here have settled in Hong Kong and are growing rich. You might find a match for her there.

YONG SANG
Yes, father.

FATHER
And you must try not to hate me.

YONG SANG
I do not hate you, father. I hate the distant-coming barbarians who made you like this!

(The CHINESE MAN takes another deep breath and again releases it, adding to the dense, white opium cloud about him. As the scene blacks out, their FATHER begins laughing again and his laughter builds to an anguished climax)

(Transition music underscoring immediately begins)

ACT I

SCENE I

PLACE: The Town of Hong Kong

TIME: Ten Years later; Early January 1857

At dusk, lights come up on the bustling town of Victoria, Hong Kong, specifically Pedder's Wharf. Sailors and boardinghouse keepers; gentlemen in frock coats and ladies in crinolines. Chinese coolies and foreign seamen are unloading a clipper ship, and townspeople have come to meet people disembarking. On board the ship, men aloft and on deck are shouting orders to one another. Itinerant Chinese hawkers sing out their wares as they pass by with their products on each end of shoulder poles. We see a pipe seller, fish monger, basket weaver, etc. A flute seller appears with a basket of flutes over his shoulder. He plays a short tune.

VARIOUS SHIP VOICES
Alow from aloft!..Avast hauling!..Belay the lines!..Aye, aye, sir!..Well the starboard main topsail sheet!..Haul the gantline!..Tar the larboard rigging!..Aye, aye, sir!..

VARIOUS HAWKER VOICES
Mai som ju! (oranges)...Mai chu hut chuk! (pigs' blood congee)...mai yu shang chuk! (fish congee)...mai dau fu! (bean curd)...ham yu! (salt fish)...mai lan t'it lan t'ung! (buyer of old iron and copper)...sun meng! (fortuneteller)...

Song: "Hong Kong in 1857"

ALL
WE HAVE COME TO THIS ISLAND TO DO BUSINESS
THERE IS NOTHING ON THIS GODFORSAKEN, GOOD-FOR-NOTHING ISLAND OUTSIDE OF BUSINESS
AND WHEN WE HAVE EXTRACTED ALL OUR PROFITS FROM OUR BUSINESS
WE'LL GO HOME!

HONG KONG! IN 1857
NOT EXACTLY HELL, BUT NOWHERE CLOSE TO HEAVEN!
THIS YEAR! SOMETHING COULD GO WRONG!
THIS YEAR! SOMETHING COULD HAPPEN HERE! AND IT'S CLEAR, FOR SOME IN HONG KONG
THERE MIGHT NOT BE A "NEXT YEAR"!

ENGLISH
CHINESE! DO NOT RESPECT US!
HEATHENS! ARE FULL OF HATE AND SPITE!
(gesturing toward ships' cannon)
THANK GOD OUR GUNS PROTECT US
(gesturing toward the Chinese)
THEY MUST BOW TO ENGLISH MIGHT!
THEY WILL BOW TO ENGLISH MIGHT!

(JOHN AVERY notices LT. WILSON in the crowd)

JOHN AVERY
Lieutenant Wilson!

LT. WILSON
Oh, hello, Mr. Avery! Good day to you, Mrs. Avery. Here to greet someone?

SARAH AVERY
Good day, Lieutenant. We're meeting the clipper ship from San Francisco; the son of an old friend should be aboard. You're meeting someone also?

LT. WILSON
No, ma'am. Governor Bowring's escorting a mandarin official to his boat. The mandarin's goin' back to the mainland; where 'e bloody well belongs, if you ask me. Oh! Pardon my language, ma'am.

JOHN AVERY
And did Sir John find his meeting with the mandarin to his liking?

LT. WILSON
Oh, yes, sir. As the devil would find being sprinkled with holy water to his liking.

SARAH AVERY
One can only wonder if John Chinaman will ever acknowledge the benefits of a Christian God.

LT. WILSON
He will, ma'am; when two Sundays come together. (belches)

JOHN AVERY
Lieutenant, I hope you're not inebriated while on duty.

LT. WILSON
In where, sir?

JOHN AVERY
I mean to say you are chirping merry, are you not, sir?

LT. WILSON
A nip of nappy ale from a bawdy 'ouse bottle to quench the spark in my throat, sir. Nothing more.

(Voices from two BRITISH SERVICEMEN about to fight interrupt them)

BRITISH SEAMAN
You had better shut your bone-box, mate!

BRITISH MARINE
I'll give you a clout on your jolly knob, you bacon-faced sea crab!

LT. WILSON
Excuse me, sir, I 'ave to clear the pier of doubtful characters.

(WILSON walks away to deal with the men)

JOHN AVERY
There would be one less doubtful character here if he would start by clearing himself. Ah! That must be Dr. Taylor.

(TAYLOR's 'Fragrant Harbour' theme music underscores his appearance as he walks down the gangway)

JOHN AVERY
Charles Taylor?

TAYLOR
Yes! You must be Mr. Avery. And Mrs. Avery. It's marvelous to meet you at last. After all the wonderful things my father said about you.

SARAH AVERY
Why, thank you, doctor. And how was your voyage?

TAYLOR
Smooth sailing until we neared Hong Kong. A fleet of pirate ships appeared but they stayed clear of our cannon. (Looking around) What a marvelous place! Decorations everywhere. Is it always this colorful?

SARAH AVERY
Chinese New Year is approaching.

JOHN AVERY
Don't let looks deceive you. There isn't a Chinaman here who wouldn't love to slit our throats. We carry pistols; and so will you.

(AVERY observes the now fully grown YONG-SANG as he enters and greets other Chinese)

JOHN AVERY
(cont)
Chinamen here are busy chopping off foreign heads and scampering across the harbor with them to the mainland where they're paid for them in silver!

(Two CHINESE come from the ship carrying TAYLOR's luggage on their shoulder poles)

ALL CHINESE
ENGLISH GREETING ONE ANOTHER BY THE BAY!
ENGLISH MEETING ONE ANOTHER AT THIS LOVELY PIER!
WHAT A CITY!
WHAT A PITY THEY ARE HERE!

ALL CHINESE (cont)
FOR SIXTEEN YEARS OUR BRITISH 'FRIENDS'
HAVE RULED OUR FRAGRANT ISLE
AND ALL THE WHILE
SERVILE...

CHINESE (solo)
WE BOW AND SMILE.

(THEY bow and smile and chin-chin one another mocking the way they are expected to act when dealing with foreigners)

CHINESE
FOR FAR TOO LONG OUR BRITISH 'FRIENDS'
HAVE SHOWN THEIR ROYAL MIGHT
BOTH DAY AND NIGHT

BRITISH
QUITE RIGHT!

ALL
HONG KONG! IN 1857
FROM OUR PROFITS WHEN WE SELL!
WE'LL BUY OUR WAY TO HEAVEN!

THIS YEAR! SOMETHING COULD GO WRONG!
THIS YEAR! SOMETHING COULD HAPPEN HERE! AND
IT'S CLEAR, FOR SOME IN HONG KONG
THERE MIGHT NOT BE A "NEXT YEAR"!

CHINESE
ENGLISH! WERE NOT INVITED!
ENGLISH! ARE FAR TO STRONG TO FIGHT!
ONE DAY WHEN WE'RE UNITED
THEY MUST BOW TO CHINESE MIGHT!
THEY WILL BOW TO CHINESE MIGHT!

(A now fully grown AHEE, accompanied by her servant, ALOY, crosses the stage and stops to buy flowers from a hawker. TAYLOR sees her and is struck by her beauty)

TAYLOR
That woman...

AVERY
What? Where? I don't see any women.

TAYLOR
The one buying flowers. She's lovely.

AVERY
Oh. You mean the Chinawoman. She's the wife of the town's main baker. Somewhat attractive, I suppose - for a celestial.

(Two sedan chairs are carried in by Chinese coolies, one decorated with a royal English lion carrying Governor Bowring, the other decorated with a yellow Chinese dragon, carrying a mandarin official)

SARAH AVERY
Oh, the governor is coming.

(Music underscores their entrance. The two men descend from their chairs and face one another. Several people stop their activity to observe them)

MANDARIN OFFICIAL
I repeat my assurance to you, sir, that no official in China was involved in the recent attacks on foreigners; yet I regret to say that your fleet is still bombarding Canton.

BOWRING
I do not deny my suspicion regarding your involvement, sir, and you may recall the Chinese saying: 'If there is no wind, the grass does not move.'

MANDARIN OFFICIAL
There is another Chinese saying: 'Paper cannot hold fire.' It refers to the anger that burns inside patriots whose land has been seized.

(LT. WILSON approaches BOWRING. BOWRING steps away to have a brief conversation with him)

(The MANDARIN OFFICIAL notices Yong Sang and the Chinese men around him. The OFFICIAL pauses to glance at YONG SANG. YONG-SANG bows slightly. The OFFICIAL speaks quietly to an ASSISTANT, hands him a scroll from under- neath his sleeve, then continues on)

(BOWRING returns)

BOWRING
I warn you, sir: this island is now under British law. Do not attempt any mischief here.

MANDARIN OFFICIAL
If patriots living in Hong Kong refuse to yield to a foreign shield, there is little a mandarin official in China can do.

(All CHINESE bow slightly to the MANDARIN OFFICIAL)

ALL CHINESE
WE BOW TO THE ROYAL DRAGON!
WE BOW TO THE GLORY OF THE DRAGON THRONE!

(The MANDARIN exits and BOWRING enters his chair)

(As BOWRING's chair is lifted and carried off, the ENGLISH RESIDENTS sing)

ENGLISH MEN AND WOMEN
HAIL TO QUEEN VICTORIA!
GOD SAVE OUR MIGHTY QUEEN!

ALL ENGLISH/ALL CHINESE
HONG KONG! IN 1857
NOT EXACTLY HELL BUT NOWHERE CLOSE TO HEAVEN!
THIS YEAR! SOMETHING COULD GO WRONG!
THIS YEAR! SOMETHING COULD HAPPEN HERE! AND
IT'S CLEAR, FOR SOME IN HONG KONG
THERE MIGHT NOT BE A "NEXT YEAR"!

JOHN AVERY
Come, Dr. Taylor, let us be off. It isn't wise to be in this part of town after dark. I'll introduce you to our governor on a more appropriate occasion; when he's in a better mood.

(Everyone begins leaving the stage)

ALL
WE HAVE COME TO THIS ISLAND TO DO BUSINESS
THERE IS NOTHING ON THIS GODFORSAKEN, GOOD-FOR-NOTHING ISLAND OUTSIDE OF BUSINESS
AND WHEN WE HAVE EXTRACTED ALL OUR PROFITS FROM OUR BUSINESS
WE'LL GO HOME!

(As the stage clears, it is now completely dark except for lights on YONG-SANG and his FRIENDS. The MANDARIN ASSISTANT approaches holding a scroll)

MANDARIN ASSISTANT
Yong-sang!

(As YONG-SANG turns, startled, the man hands him the scroll)

MANDARIN ASSISTANT (cont)
Do not disobey this official proclamation!

(The MAN disappears into the darkness)

(From out of the upstage darkness, spotlights follow two British POLICEMEN, inebriated and staggering across the stage. THEY are in uniforms with long coats, rifles, cartridge boxes and whistles. THEY are singing in a drunken manner. YONG-SANG's men scatter but YONG-SANG is engrossed in trying to read the scroll)

POLICEMEN
DAMN THEIR EYES IF EVER THEY TRIES
TO ROB A POOR MAN OF 'IS BEER!
DAMN THEIR EYES IF EVER THEY TRIES
TO ROB A POOR MAN OF 'IS-

(YONG-SANG suddenly notices the POLICEMEN and attempts to sneak away undetected but one of the POLICEMEN notices him and raises his rifle)

BRIAN
Yeu there! 'Alt!

(YONG-SANG flees)

BRIAN (cont)
Damn your eyes! I said, 'Alt!'

(BRIAN fires. YONG-SANG disappears into the wings)

ROBBIE
Bloody 'ell, What dya do that for?
BRIAN
(while reloading)
The Chinaman 'ad no lantern. Yeu know the rules. Aftah eight the Chinamen got to 'ave a lantern and a pass.

(ROBBIE walks to pick up a piece of paper YONG-SANG dropped)

ROBBIE
He had his pass, all right. He works for the E-sing Bakery in Spring Garden.

BRIAN
Well, 'e didn't 'ave 'is lantern, did 'e?

ROBBIE
You think you hit him?

BRIAN
Oi duhnow! 'oo cares?

(The two POLICEMEN walk on as before, nearly lost in drunken stupor)

POLICEMEN
DAMN THEIR EYES IF EVER THEY TRIES
TO ROB A POOR MAN OF 'IS BEER!
DAMN THEIR EYES IF EVER THEY TRIES
TO ROB A POOR MAN OF 'IS BEER!

BLACKOUT

ACT I

SCENE 2A

PLACE: Living Quarters of Cheung Ah-lum above his Bakery retail shop at Queen's Road West

TIME: Immediately Following

CHEUNG AH-LUM and his wife, AHEE, are in an upstairs bedroom. AHEE, about 25, is sitting on the bed dressed in samfu, a plain calf-length tunic (sam) over her trousers (fu). Her HUSBAND is at least fifteen years her senior. HE is preparing for bed. HE stretches, yawns and sits on the bed.

AHEE jumps up and removes his felt shoes. SHE puts his outer robe away and again sits on the bed. SHE reaches out to him but sleep overtakes him even before HE can unbraid his queue. HE begins snoring immediately.

As AHEE sits looking down at him, there are several quick knocks on the door at the end of a hallway off the bedroom. AHEE starts to wake her husband, then decides to answer the door herself. SHE stands behind it.

AHEE
Who is there?

YONG-SANG
Sister, open the door.

(Her BROTHER quickly enters. SHE closes the door quietly. THEY speak softly)

AHEE
Brother, I heard shots. Are you all right?

YONG-SANG
(out of breath)
Yes. Don't worry. Drunken foreign-devil police cannot shoot straight. I just need to stay here for a minute in case they're coming this way.

AHEE
(holding up the bullet hole in his jacket)
You could have been killed!

YONG-SANG
Sister, I am fine. I just wanted to see you before I meet with your husband and his father...but...

AHEE
What is it?

YONG-SANG
I heard something while I was in Canton. Your husband...

(AHEE glances toward the bedroom)

AHEE
What about him?

YONG-SANG
A woman there is coming to Hong Kong to...Your husband is taking a concubine.

AHEE
(anger mixed with surprise)
My husband...

YONG-SANG
This is my fault. I never should have arranged this marriage for you.

AHEE
(resignation)
My husband has every right to take a concubine...I am only worried about you and about...

YONG-SANG
(taking both her hands in his)
Sister, you mustn't worry. Things will work out.

AHEE
But, what if-

(YONG-SANG points in mock surprise to her hair. AHEE, alarmed, touches her hair)

YONG-SONG
SISTER, WHAT IS ON YOUR HEAD NOW?
SISTER, HAS A SPARROW LANDED?

(Music continues as underscoring)

AHEE
(relieved)
Oh, stop it. We are not children any longer.

YONG-SANG
Then try to remember to stop worrying so much. Now, I must go.

AHEE
Be careful, brother.

(YONG-SANG kisses her forehead and exits)

(AHEE walks back into the bedroom and looks at her sleeping husband. SHE takes the end of his long queue in her hand, leans forward and begins moving the un- plaited hair at the tip of the queue over his face and chest and arms. AH-LUM sneezes)

AHEE
My husband, you should have seen the crinoline dress an English lady was wearing in the bakeshop today...It had green silk flounces and swayed back and forth revealing her ankles. The foreign men seemed to...

(AH-LUM wakes and sees her there with her hand still holding his queue)

AH-LUM
Were you tickling me?

AHEE
I was trying...to interest you.

AH-LUM (sitting up)
Interest me?

AHEE
My husband-

AH-LUM
In the midst of all the turmoil in Hong Kong, it is all I can do to take care of business and you, my wife, are trying to "interest" me...

(HE takes the end of his queue from her hand, looks at it, then returns it to her hand)

AH-LUM (cont)
With my queue!

AHEE
(releasing the queue)
I am sorry, my husband. I only wanted-

AH-LUM
It is not a question of being sorry, but you should realize I have other things to think about now than...

AHEE
Yes, my husband.

AH-LUM
A man's queue is not a toy, you know.

(From out of the darkness of the down- stairs rooms, Ah-lum's FATHER, a tall, dig- nified, robed figure, ascends the stairs to the hallway adjoining AH-LUM's bedroom)

AHEE
But, my husband, what if one day Chinese men no longer wear their hair in a queue? The Western men living in Hong Kong-

AH-LUM
Chinese men not wear a queue?! (laughs) I think you've been speaking with foreign customers in the bread shop again.

AHEE
(lowering her head)
I...I learn from them...

AH-LUM
(lifting her head)
Oh, I don't mind. But my father warned you before about being overly curious of Western ways. If he ever-

(Ah-lum's FATHER pauses outside the door and speaks)

FATHER
Ah-lum!
(AH-LUM sits up slowly, warily. AHEE's body stiffens)

AH-LUM
Father?

FATHER
Ah-lum! Come. Quickly!

(AH-LUM glances quickly at his wife and leaps up from the bed. HE throws on his gown. HE walks to the door, opens it slowly, cautiously, and enters the hallway. His FATHER waits for the door to close before speaking)

FATHER (cont)
Yong-sang is downstairs.

(AH-LUM glances toward the stairs)

AH-LUM
I'm coming.

(AH-LUM re-enters the bedroom, adjusts his gown and checks his calf-length queue in the room's mirror)

AHEE
Ah-lum?

AH-LUM
I'll be back in a little while. Go to sleep!

AHEE
...Has my brother returned from Canton?

AH-LUM
Yes! Now, go to sleep!

AHEE
My husband, how can I sleep? I am afraid. Drunken English sailors practically attacked my servant today. I want to leave Hong Kong.

AH-LUM
Leave? Where would we go? Do you know of some Jade Garden in the Western Paradise where there are no mandarin officials?

AHEE
But there must be somewhere-

AH-LUM
Aiyaah! When will you learn to face reality and deal with it as best you can!?

(HE rises and starts for the door, then turns to face her)

AH-LUM (cont)
And, from now on...you'll sleep over the bakery in Spring Garden.

AHEE
Sleep over the bakery? But why?

AH-LUM
Because...the foreign-devil ships with their drunken sailors anchor just outside our window. As you say, it is too dangerous for you here at night.

AHEE
...Is that the only reason?

AH-LUM
It is the only reason I need give you!

AHEE
...Will not your new concubine face the same dangers?

AH-LUM
My...Aiiyaah! You act as if I am the only man who ever took a concubine! Why are you always so full of questions?

AHEE
I do not question you, my husband; I know until now I have failed to give you a son. It is only that my father-

AH-LUM
Yes, yes, I know your father took no concubine! But I am not a Confucian scholar like your father was! I am a Hong Kong baker and you are my wife. All of your dreams will not change that. Now, I must speak with your brother. You'll see him tomorrow.

AHEE
Yes, my husband.

(AH-LUM and his FATHER descend the dark stairs, adjusting gowns and queues, and walk through a hallway into the back room of the retail shop. Their scene blacks out)

(For a few seconds, AHEE seems not to move. Then, from beyond her window, we hear many bells of the ships in the harbor telling the time. From each ship we hear three pair of two bells, then one bell: (11:30 p.m.)

(AHEE moves to the window, and the scene beyond the window lights up and we see the masts and furled sails of the many ships in the harbor: Clipper ships, brigs, frigates, sloops-of-war. And the masts of Chinese junks. As the bells cease, AHEE sings:

SONG: "Yes, My Husband"

AHEE
FROM MY WINDOW
I HEAR THE SHIPS' BELLS CHIME THE TIME
THE SCENT OF LOTUS BLOSSOM FILLS THE AIR
FROM MY WINDOW
IN THE EVENING I SEE THE SHIPS MOORED, ANCHORED
AND TIED - AS I AM MOORED, ANCHORED AND TIED

AHEE (cont)
YES, MY HUSBAND, I, OF COURSE, OBEY;
WE WILL HAVE A SON
AND I'LL BOW TO EVERYONE
AS YOU WISH, IT WILL BE DONE,
AND TOMORROW LIFE WILL BE AS YESTERDAY

NOW, IT'S EVENING, WHEN I'M MOST ALONE;
ALL MY HOPES I HIDE
AND TO SPARE MY HUSBAND'S PRIDE
I'LL KEEP EVERYTHING INSIDE
HE WILL NEVER KNOW WHICH FEELINGS ARE MY OWN.

WHEN I FEEL THIS LONGING FOR
TENDERNESS, AND I'M IGNORED;
THEN I FEAR THERE'S NOTHING MORE
NOTHING WORTH LIVING FOR...

YES, MY HUSBAND, I, OF COURSE, OBEY;
WE'll STAY IN HONG KONG
IT IS HERE THAT I BELONG
SOMEHOW, SOME WAY I'LL BE STRONG
BUT THE WORLD I DREAM I'LL NEVER PUT AWAY!

FROM MY WINDOW
I SEE GULLS WITH OUTSTRETCHED WINGS FLY...

(Lights slowly fade and then hold on AHEE's silhouette which remains until the end of the next short scene)

CROSSFADE: SCENE 2B

JOHN AVERY is standing next to a table in a living room. HE is holding a revolver. At first we can barely perceive him in the darkness but as HE turns up the wick on the oil lamp the scene is clearer. HE takes his gold pocket watch from his waistcoat pocket and checks the time against a large grandfather clock.

HE places percussion caps over the nipples of the revolver then moves past the table and clock (toward the audience) and walks onto the verandah. HE sits in one of the two rattan chairs, the revolver on his lap. HE lights up a cheroot and looks out across the harbor toward the dark, mysterious hills of Kowloon. HE irritably slaps at a mosquito. Behind him, CHARLES TAYLOR walks from the living room onto the verandah.

TAYLOR
Not in bed yet, Mr. Avery?

(AVERY turns in his chair to face his American house guest)

AVERY
I was, Dr. Taylor. Fighting off mosquitoes as usual.

TAYLOR
(eyeing the gun)
With your revolver?

AVERY
No, no. I heard gunshots.

TAYLOR
So did I. Near the harbor, I think.

AVERY
Yes. In the Chinese quarter. Of course, I wasn't asleep, anyway. Mosquitoes inside the bed curtain. Did my wife leave you the mosquito broom?

(TAYLOR takes a seat near AVERY and lights a cheroot. AVERY begins scratching his leg)

TAYLOR
Yes. Very kind of her, indeed.

AVERY
How quiet it is. Something's brewing I fear.

(For a few moments, both men smoke cheroots. In half-light of the next scene, British merchants are seen slowly walking into Sir John Bowring's office in Government House)

TAYLOR
(cont) John, do you really think the Chinese are planning something?

(The uneasiness in his tone of voice is so pronounced that AVERY turns to look at him)

TAYLOR
(cont)
I mean, I've always dreamed of following in my father's footsteps and coming out to Asia as a member of the medical profession, but when I left San Francisco I had no idea there was such tension here between the British and the Chinese. Hong Kong is so beautiful, but somehow I had thought it would be more, well, more...civilized.

AVERY
They're always planning something, Dr. Taylor. It's just a question of what and when. John Chinaman wants our blood no less than the bloody mosquitoes. That much you can count on.

TAYLOR
Forgive me, but as the Chinese seem so hostile, why stay in a place where you're not welcome?

AVERY
There are compensations. A man with his wits about him can do quite well 'chasing the dollar' in a place like Hong Kong. There are, how shall I say, fewer restraints placed on 'riding the wagon' than there would be back home.

TAYLOR
I see. Yes, Mrs. Avery did mention that you've been appointed administrative assistant to Governor Bowring and-

(AVERY begins to cough on his cheroot and he grabs the rail of the verandah with both hands)

AVERY
Bowring?! How Her Majesty's Government ever imagined that a literary scholar like Sir John Bowring could be the proper ruler of a military colony, I should like to know. And now he's proposing that Chinamen become magistrates and that they be allowed to sit on our Legislative Council! If I were not his assistant I would myself be facing off with him in tonight's meeting!

(Lights completely fade out on AHEE; AVERY and TAYLOR remain in silhouette)

CROSSFADE: SCENE 2C

GOVERNOR JOHN BOWRING is sitting behind his desk facing an angry group of Hong Kong's leading English MERCHANTS. THEY are dressed in the style of the period with top hat, cravat, cloak and boots.

LIEUTENANT WILSON, an English officer - Bowring's assistant and guard - is standing at parade rest apart from them.

SONG: "Gentlemen!"

MERCHANT ONE
I KNOW I HEARD SHOTS ON THE WAY HERE TONIGHT!
WHERE WERE THE POLICE?

ALL
NONE WERE IN SIGHT!
ONE THOUSAND OF US, FIFTY THOUSAND CHINESE!
THEY LAUGH AT OUR LAWS!
DO JUST AS THEY PLEASE!

MERCHANT TWO
WE DID NOT COME HERE TO ACCUSE OR MALIGN!

BOWRING
So kindly be still!

ALL
IF YOU'LL RESIGN!

MERCHANT ONE
The very same Chinamen making our beds are secretly plotting to cut our throats!

BOWRING (rising)
BEFORE YOU GO, GENTLEMEN,
AND THIS IS NOT A BOAST;
AS YOU MUST KNOW, GENTLEMEN,
MY HEAD IS WORTH THE MOST!

I'LL SEE YOU OUT, GENTLEMEN,
AND SPEAKING MAN TO MAN;
PLEASE NEVER DOUBT, GENTLEMEN,
I DO THE BEST I CAN!

THE CHINESE HERE, GENTLEMEN,
HAVE COME TO BUILD HONG KONG;
WHEN YOU ACCUSE, GENTLEMEN,
I THINK YOU DO THEM WRONG!

ALL
WE KNOW YOU GROW CLOSER TO THEM EVERY DAY!
WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

BOWRING
What did you say?! How dare you?! Simply because I suggested that Chinese might serve as magistrates and as-

ALL
WE CAME HERE TO WARN YOU:
OUR MAGISTRATES' ROBES
NEVER WILL BE WORN
BY CONFIRMED ANGLOPHOBES!

MERCHANT FOUR
BRITISH MERCY AND JUSTICE

ALL
ARE NOT FOR CHINESE!
WE MAKE OUR DEMANDS
YET YOU DO AS YOU PLEASE!

MERCHANT TWO
WE THINK YOUR EXAMPLE
OF TREATING THEM WELL
EMBOLDENS OUR FOES
THEY MIGHT EVEN REBEL!

ALL
THE DANGER IS CLEAR LET US MAKE NO MISTAKE
SOON IT WILL BE THEIR YEAR OF THE SNAKE! YEAR OF THE SNAKE! YEAR OF THE SNAKE! YEAR OF THE SNAKE! YEAR OF THE SNAKE!

BOWRING
Gentlemen! You're wasting my time! You make unscrupulous use of Her Majesty's laws while committing your crimes! Hypocrites! Bloody hypocrites! Your chests full of opium, ships armed for war?! Lieutenant Wilson!

WILSON
Sir!

BOWRING
SHOW THESE...GENTLEMEN...THE DOOR!

(As THEY leave, a MERCHANT speaks loud enough for BOWRING to hear)

MERCHANT THREE
I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to get one of the celestial devils appointed governor after he's gone.

(Lt. Wilson accompanies them a few steps. Lights fade out on AVERY and TAYLOR. Lt.Wilson returns)

BOWRING
Lieutenant Wilson.

WILSON
Sir!

BOWRING
Lieutenant, I've decided to appoint a Chinese to replace me as governor. I'd like you to make the announcement in the morning.

WILSON
Sir, I...I dunno, sir...I mean...

BOWRING
Relax, Lieutenant. I was being facetious.

WILSON
Bein' what, sir?

BOWRING
I was making a joke.

WILSON
Oh! I must say, sir, you 'ad me goin' there for a minute. I swallowed the bullock, horns and all. I was afraid you might 'ave caught a touch of Colonial Fever. A Chinaman as guv'nor! That's a good one, that is!

BOWRING
Lieutenant, do you suppose it would be possible to set up a network of Chinese informants in Hong Kong?

WILSON
I don't see why not, sir. A lot of the Chinamen 'round 'ere don't fancy their government in Peking any more than we do. And you'd be surprised 'ow 'elpful John Chinaman becomes if 'e knows there's to be some silver in it for 'isself.

BOWRING
Then tomorrow you will begin special assignment for me. As distasteful as these opium-dealing...I mean, leading merchants may be, we wouldn't want to ruin our careers by allowing them to be massacred in their beds, now would we?

WILSON
Oh, no, sir! We wouldn't want that, sir. Well, goodnight, sir.

BOWRING
Goodnight, Lieutenant.

(LT. WILSON exits)

BOWRING
Whose side am I on! How dare they!

SONG: "I See Hong Kong"

BOWRING (cont)
I SEE HONG KONG - FUTURE HONG KONG
A CITY RICHER THAN MANY A NATION
I DREAM TODAY FOR A FUTURE GENERATION
A CITY OF WEALTH, POWER, SUCCESSFUL IN ITS QUEST
TO BLEND THE WISDOM OF THE EAST WITH THE PROMISE OF THE WEST

I SEE HONG KONG - FUTURE HONG KONG
I SEE - I DON'T UNDERSTAND ALL THAT I SEE
WHEN I DREAM OF FUTURE HONG KONG
BUT I KNOW IT WILL BE!

A CITY RICHER THAN MANY A NATION
AND CHINESE SERVING, NO, LEADING IN EVERY OCCUPATION;
A BRITISH JEWEL HELD IN HIGH ESTEEM
THAT'S WHAT I SEE WHEN I DREAM OF HONG KONG
I SEE HONG KONG; FUTURE HONG KONG

(Lights begin slowly fading up on AH-LUM, FATHER and YONG-SANG)

(As BOWRING stares out, still absorbed in his vision, repeat of final notes only. Lights fade down to silhouette of BOWRING and fade up on the next scene)

CROSSFADE: SCENE 2D

AH-LUM and his FATHER enter the room. Ah-lum's brother-in-law, YONG-SANG, is examining a hole in his jacket.

AH-LUM
What is it?

FATHER
British police shot at Yong-sang. He's lucky to be alive.

(AH-LUM briefly looks at the bullet hole)

AH-LUM
You are lucky, brother-in-law. A few inches to the left...

YONG-SANG
Yes. Lucky.

AH-LUM
So, what news from Canton? Is the city still-

YONG-SANG
The British ships are bombarding the city, shells are falling in the streets, our people are-

AH-LUM
Yes, yes, I know all that. I'm asking why the mandarin officials sent for you.

YONG-SANG
Why? Why do you suppose? It's been weeks since they ordered all Chinese to stop doing business with foreign devils here in Hong Kong, but here we are serving them bread as if there were no war going on.

AH-LUM
Many Chinese haven't left Hong Kong. Why single me out?

YONG-SANG
Did you think mandarin officials are ignorant of the fact that we're baking bread for foreigners when we should be fighting?

AH-LUM
Fighting?! China's obsolete armies can never hope to defeat foreign soldiers so why not trade with them and take their money?

YONG-SANG
Our armies may be obsolete, but our spirit is not! With guile and cunning a few brave men may defeat a stronger enemy.

AH-LUM
Aiiyaahh! Brother-in-law, you are a dreamer. Like your sister!

YONG-SANG
Yes, like my sister, I am a dreamer. And what are you? When our friends in Canton are fighting and dying?! What do you do? Sell bread to the barbarians and make your profit!

(THEY close as if to fight)

AH-LUM
I am a baker. I leave the dreams of glory to-

(The baker's FATHER moves to separate them)

FATHER
Enough! Things are bad enough without my own relations attacking one another.

AH-LUM
I have no time for this. I'm going to our bakery at Spring Garden.

YONG-SANG
Ah, yes. Be sure our enemies are well fed.

AH-LUM
Our bakery business keeps you well fed, does it not?

FATHER
I said, 'Enough'! Ah-lum, you will have to bribe the police to let you travel at night. Don't waste money.

AH-LUM
It's all right, father. I'll keep to the back lanes. If I don't check on the bakers day and night, they play rather than work. (HE pauses) And as for the threats of mandarin officials, my business is here in Hong Kong and I am not leaving!

(AH-LUM exits the stage. YONG-SANG makes certain he has left and then places the scroll on the table with reverence)

YONG-SANG
Father-in-law, do you wish to read it again?

(FATHER stares at the scroll, then at YONG-SANG)

FATHER
No need. Call your sister.

YONG-SANG
Ahee!..Ahee!

(AHEE appears. FATHER motions for her to sit. HE stands behind her and places a hand on her shoulder. SHE trembles)

(Lights fade out on BOWRING)

FATHER
I wish you to cross to Kowloon.

AHEE
If it is your wish of course I will go. But may I know why?

FATHER
It is important to learn if the foreign-devil soldiers will search you when you return to Hong Kong island.

(YONG-SANG holds up the scroll)

YONG-SANG
The mandarin officials have given us the honor of striking a blow against the foreign-devils. We shall place arsenic in their bread!

AHEE
Arsenic? In the bread of the foreigners?

YONG-SANG
Yes! They will never expect this. We will achieve victory!

AHEE
(angrily)
Victory? You would poison an entire community of innocent people and call it 'victory'? Brother, please do not ask me to be a part of your 'victory.'

YONG-SANG
Aiiyaahh! My sister, you are becoming as fond of Westerners as your husband! Just how much humiliation do you think we must endure before we strike back?!

FATHER
Ahee, your brother and I did not ask for this.

(FATHER holds up the scroll with both hands)

FATHER (cont)
But the mandarin officials have spoken and I will not risk their displeasure. They have already threatened our cousins in China. If we disobey we may all lose our heads.

AHEE
But surely you must tell my husband...your son, what his bakers will do.

FATHER
No. I know my son well. He will never agree to this. For his own safety, you must make certain he never suspects anything. We need you to go to Kowloon and bring us the arsenic!

AHEE
I...I cannot.
YONG-SANG
(tenderly)
Sister, you are attractive and educated. And you speak their language well. If anyone can get the arsenic past the British sentries, a woman can! If I thought there was the least danger, I would not ask you.

AHEE
(trembling but determined)
I cannot.

YONG-SANG
Sister, please. The chief barbarians forcing opium on us live here in Hong Kong! We can avenge our father's death and finish them with one blow!

AHEE
Please do not use our father's opium addiction as an excuse for poisoning an entire foreign community! Our father did not hate them!

YONG-SANG
Perhaps if he had, he might-

FATHER
Enough! Ahee. If you cannot do this, no one will force you. But there is one thing you must do. To protect your husband.

AHEE
I will do anything to protect him.

FATHER
I want you to persuade Ah-lum to leave Hong Kong on the morning of the 15th no later than the Hour of the Rabbit. You must make certain he is on the steamer to Macau when the bread is being baked and delivered.

AHEE
Yes, my father-in-law. I will do so.

YONG-SANG
Father-in-law, she must bring the arsenic!

FATHER
It is no use. Even if we force her, her anxiety would give her away to anyone who challenged her. It must be you, Yong-sang. I'm sorry.

YONG-SANG
Don't worry. I am not afraid.

FATHER
That is what worries me.

YONG-SANG
Father-in-law, please talk to Ah-lum. Sometimes he seems not to care for his own country.

(The following song is accompanied by Chinese instruments - pipa, erhu, lute, etc.)

SONG: "My Son is too Young"

FATHER
MY SON IS TOO YOUNG TO REMEMBER WHEN
THE EMPIRE WAS RULED BY BETTER MEN;
WHEN THE SON OF HEAVEN HELD HIS SCEPTER OF JADE
THE WORLD TOOK HEED - MONARCHS TREMBLED AND OBEYED.

YONG-SANG
AND NOW YOUR SON TRADES WHERE WE DON'T BELONG!
AND COUNTS UP HIS PROFIT!

AHEE
IS MAKING IT SO WRONG?

YONG-SANG
OUR COUNTRY NEEDS CHANGES!

AHEE
I FEAR CHANGES FAR TOO FAST!

FATHER
WILL MY GRANDSONS HEAR ONLY OF AN EMPIRE THAT HAS PASSED?

YONG-SANG
THE PASSION OF YANG!

FATHER
NEEDS THE CAUTION OF YIN!

YONG-SANG/FATHER
WHEN IN HARMONY

AHEE
STRENGTH!

YONG-SANG/FATHER
WHEN IN CHAOS

YONG-SANG
CHAGRIN!

YONG-SANG (cont)
Father-in-law, we must fight to win!

FATHER
MY SON IS TOO YOUNG TO HAVE SEEN OUR WORLD
WHEN ARMIES WENT FORTH; FLAGS UNFURLED!

YONG-SANG/FATHER
WHILE THE SON OF HEAVEN HOLDS HIS SCEPTER OF JADE

YONG-SANG
OUR LAND IS LOST - DEVILS MOCK US AND INVADE!

AHEE
AND WHAT OF THE CRIME YOU CHOOSE TO IGNORE?
YOU'RE POISONING CHILDREN!

YONG-SANG
WE'RE ENGAGED IN A WAR!

AHEE
IS THIS REALLY MY BROTHER!?

YONG-SANG
I WILL DO WHAT MUST BE DONE!

FATHER
HAS THE MANDATE OF HEAVEN NOW ABANDONED HEAVEN'S SON?

YONG-SANG
I'VE GIVEN MY OATH AT OUR ANCESTORS' SHRINE!

AHEE
THEY'LL STILL CALL IT MURDER!

YONG-SANG
THEN THE GUILT WILL BE MINE!

FATHER
MY SON IS TOO YOUNG; AND CHINA TOO OLD
GREAT TALES OF GREAT MEN; NO LONGER TOLD
I SENSE A BEGINNING; BUT WHAT HAVE WE BEGUN?

(BROTHER and SISTER stare at each other and SHE then moves to hold him)

AHEE /FATHER
PLEASE BE CAREFUL, MY BROTHER! HAS THE MANDATE OF HEAVEN

YONG-SANG/AHEE/FATHER
I ONLY DO WHAT/YOU ARE OUR/NOW
ABANDONED HEAVEN'S SON?!
MUST BE DONE! FATHER'S ONLY SON!

ACT I

SCENE 3
PLACE: John Avery's House

TIME: Morning of Following Day

SARAH AVERY and CHARLES TAYLOR are in a kitchen. From the kitchen there is a short hallway leading to a storeroom. A long hallway from the kitchen leads to a living room and verandah. JOHN AVERY is sitting in the living room reading newspapers. MAIDS and other servants are bustling about cleaning.

As TAYLOR unpacks some boxes, HE and SARAH are in the middle of singing a folksy tune.

SONG: "Tell her that I Rode Away"

SARAH AVERY/ CHARLES TAYLOR
WHEN THE SOLDIER HEARD HIS LADY - CRYING
HOW COULD HE DARE FAIL TO HEED HER PLEA:
'ALL I ASK IS THAT YOU REMAIN ALIVE
JUST PROMISE (WON'T YOU PLEASE) YOU'LL DO THAT FOR ME!'

WHEN THE SOLDIER FELL IN BATTLE - DYING
ALL THE MEN AROUND HIM HEARD HIM SAY
'IF MY LOVE SHOULD ASK WHAT BECAME OF ME
JUST TELL HER (WON'T YOU PLEASE) THAT I RODE AWAY!'

TAYLOR
(laughing)
I had no idea that song was as well known in England as in America!

SARAH AVERY
Indeed it is. We always - Oh!

(SARAH runs her finger over the edge of a platter)

SARAH AVERY (cont)
Would you look at that? Now the servants have managed to chip my only platter which wasn't smashed to pieces on its voyage out to Hong Kong.

TAYLOR
I think this can be fixed almost as good as new.

SARAH AVERY
Yes, and no doubt the Chinaman who fixes the platter is related to the Chinaman who broke it so the former gets some business thrown his way while the latter gets his 'squeeze'. God only knows how much of the shopping money our servants manage to keep for themselves. And speaking of squeeze, where is Ah-ling? He should have been back with the bread an hour ago. Ah-ling!

TAYLOR
It's all right, Sarah. I can finish here.

SARAH AVERY
No, I will not have my houseguest doing kitchen work the servants should be doing! Wong and Ah-mei will finish here! Ah-ling!

(As THEY walk toward the living room SARAH picks up a bell on a sideboard and rings it. SHE glimpses WONG and AH-MEI although they are trying to stay out of sight. SARAH stops abruptly)

SARAH AVERY (cont)
Wong! Where have you been?

WONG
Master wantchee Ah-Ling walkee chop chop catchee one piecey chair coolie. Maybe laining soon, not easy then catchee chair coolie. My tell coolie-boy bring chair coolie now.

SARAH AVERY
Well, my wantchee now you finishee cook my chow-chow chop chop, you savvy?

WONG
Yes, Mississey. My makee numba' one chow-chow chop-chop!

SARAH AVERY
And who-man makee blake that one-piecey platter?

WONG
One piecey platter? Ah-ling blake, mississey.

SARAH AVERY
Beforetime my talkee Ah-ling buy numba one first chop bread. Bread hab got?

WONG
No, mississey. Ah-ling no catchee bread.

SARAH AVERY
No!? No catchee bread? Ah-ling now in what-place?

WONG
Mississey...likee looksee he?

SARAH AVERY
Yes, mississey likee looksee he!

WONG
Ah-Ling...he sick, Mississey.

SARAH AVERY
My wantchee savvy what-place Ah-ling sick!

(WONG walks quickly to the kitchen door before answering, his long thin queue trailing behind him)

WONG
Ah-ling, he in storeroom sick.

SARAH AVERY
Oh, is he? Well, we'll just see about that. Come with me, Dr. Taylor.

TAYLOR
What is it, Sarah?

SARAH AVERY
I know of only one reason a cook would condescend to involve himself in getting a sedan-chair. That's to cover up for the domestic who should be getting the chair. For a price, no doubt.

(SARAH leads TAYLOR through the hallway toward the storeroom)

TAYLOR
What is that smell?!

SARAH AVERY
Precisely!

(SARAH swings open the storeroom door and in the dim light we make out the form of AH-LING)

(HE is lying on his side holding his opium pipe. The drug has placed him far beyond the reach of an employer's wrath. Neverthe- less, SARAH explodes)

SARAH AVERY
Ah-Ling! Beforetime my talkee you smokum pipe - no can! What for you makee so fashion? Outside house, can! (pointing up and downstairs) Topside house, no can! Bottomside house, no can! I shall report this to Master, Ah-Ling! You gave your word that you would never smoke opium in my house again. This is very bad pidgin! Bad business!

(SARAH and TAYLOR draw back as AH-LING slowly rises, and in a manner more asleep than awake, walks through the door and toward the back of the house)

(As this is happening, WONG and AH-MEI speak to one another while standing by the kitchen door)

AH-MEI
Aiiiyaaah! If these foreign-devils don't want opium in their houses what do they bring it to China for in the first place? And why are their hands and faces so white?

WONG
My father says the foreign-devils paint them white. But I can't bear to look at them; they look like ghosts!

AH-MEI
What I can't bear is listening to you and this foreign female ghost speak such silly baby language to each other.

WONG
What are you blaming me for? The foreign-devils aren't smart enough to learn Chinese; if we didn't create pidgin English for them, nobody can do business. No business, no profit.

AH-MEI
It's bad enough to work for people with ghost faces but this woman has green eyes! She may be some kind of evil spirit.

WONG
My father says the eyes of foreign-devils are dark like ours when they're born but then they fade.

(WONG and AH-MEI speak their exasperated sigh as they disappear through the kitchen door)

WONG/AH-MEI
Aiiiyaaah!

TAYLOR
That is a very...pungent smell.

(SARAH guides TAYLOR her through the hallway toward the verandah)

SARAH AVERY
Oh, I am sorry, Doctor. But at least now should I ever return to London I'll appreciate the quality of British domestic help. Let's get some fresh air. Whoever said Chinamen make good servants must have been high on opium himself.

(SARAH and TAYLOR reach the living room on their way to the verandah. JOHN AVERY has been smiling throughout all this commotion. There is a sampler on the wall behind him. Its motto is: 'Give us This Day our Daily Bread.' JOHN AVERY looks up from his paper with an indulgent smile)

JOHN AVERY
Very bad business, indeed! The poor natives on the mainland as well as the clerks at Jardines thought you were yelling at them, and they've all dumped their opium into the harbor.

SARAH AVERY
(near tears)
John Avery, it is not funny! And if you would take a firmer attitude toward the household staff I could get a bit more respect out of them. As if this island-prison were not enough aggravation-

(JOHN AVERY takes his wife's hand in his and tenderly kisses it. HE then turns back to his newspaper)

JOHN AVERY
Quite right, darling, I'm sorry. You relax for awhile. I'll go to the baker's shop and pick up the bread.
(motioning toward a chair)
Dr. Taylor, do sit down.

SARAH AVERY
(to TAYLOR)
Never mind the cynic, Doctor. You relax here for a bit while I move to the drawing room and have a glass of soda water. I'll get no sympathy here.

(SHE enters the drawing room upstage and begins preparing her soda water)

JOHN AVERY
(sighing)
I almost made a fatal mistake there, Charles. I should know by now when my wife is on the verge of tears. Most Western women in Hong Kong seem perpetually on the verge of tears or close to hysteria or about to have a severe case of the vapors.

TAYLOR
Actually, I could use a stroll myself. Could I accompany you to the baker's shop?

(JOHN AVERY looks toward the drawing room to make certain his wife cannot overhear)

JOHN AVERY
Well, if you really feel like taking a stroll, you could get the bread for me. Then I could sneak over to the racetrack for a bit.

(Suddenly, the stage area with SARAH AVERY lights up just as SARAH AVERY screams. Everyone else on stage freezes and looks toward the sound of the voice. SARAH AVERY is standing up, looking down between her feet)

SARAH AVERY
Oh, my heavens! Look at this carpet. The servants must have used the black-lead brush on it. It's ruined! Ah-mei! Wong!

(AH-MEI and WONG appear and as they walk toward SARAH AVERY they glance at each other with a look of 'Here we go again')

WONG
Aiiiyaaahh! This turtle's egg is more trouble than she's worth!

AH-MEI
How can anyone consider these foreign-devil women attractive? They haven't even had their feet bound!

WONG
My father said they wear those huge dresses to hide the fact that their bodies are deformed.

AH-MEI
Is that why foreign-devil women are always upset and screaming?

WONG
No. Their noses are so big they can't even get close to each other. If you had been born with a nose like that, you'd be upset and screaming too!

(The SERVANTS reach SARAH AVERY and, with one hand inside the other - traditional style - bow to her)

WONG/AH-MEI
Yes, mississey!

ACT I

SCENE 4A

PLACE: Hong Kong Streets and Lanes

TIME: Thirty Minutes Later

On his way to the bakeshop, TAYLOR takes a stroll through Hong Kong. During his stroll, people pass along the lane: Foreign residents - and Chinese peddlers calling out their winter wares of oranges, sugarcane and Tientsin pears, etc.

SONG: "Fragrant Harbour"

TAYLOR
CHINESE TEMPLE BELLS...CHRISTIAN CHURCH BELLS...
IN THE TOWN, CANTONESE OPERAS ARE HEARD ALL DAY
AND AS SAILORS WEIGH ANCHOR, SHIP BELLS RESOUND IN THE BAY!

(Three or four Chinese vendors approach Dr. Taylor holding out fine silk, ivory carving, porcelain, etc.)

VENDOR
Jack, looksee! Number one silk! First chop!

SECOND VENDOR
Jack, how you dooah? You catchee what thing, Jack?

TAYLOR
Beautiful! Everything is beautiful! But another time. Thank you!

(A British couple walks by and the vendors leave TAYLOR and surround them as they walk)

TAYLOR (cont)
IS IT TRUE?...AM I HERE?
DO I DARE BELIEVE MY EYES?
IN A CULTURE SO OLD, YET SO NEW TO ME

ALL AROUND ME ADVENTURE IS CALLING MY NAME!
ALL THE NOISE AND EXCITEMENT; SO MUCH TO SEE!

BOUNTEOUS TREASURES ALL AROUND ME
SILK! JADE! BLACK DRAGON TEA AND FINE PORCELAIN FIGURINES
FRAGRANT HARBOUR WITH YOUR BEAUTY ALL AROUND ME
WHAT A WORLD I AM IN! IT MUST BE A DREAM!

TAYLOR (cont)
IN THE BUSTLING MARKETPLACE, SHOPKEEPERS BEG MY ATTENTION
AND SOUNDS OF CONSTRUCTION ARE CONSTANTLY FILLING THE AIR
SWEET SANDLEWOOD INCENSE AND PERFUME OF JASMINE SURROUND ME
SUCH EXOTIC DELIGHTS, I CAN'T HELP BUT STARE!
EVERYWHERE!

PAINTED, FIERCE GOLDEN DRAGONS ON SIGNPOSTS AND DOORWAYS
WILL WARD OFF DEMONS
FAT RED CANDLES FOR LUCK BURN BRIGHTLY AS BUDDHIST MONKS
IN SAFFRON ROBES GO BY
NEAR THE BANYAN TREE CROWDS GATHER 'ROUND IN
DELIGHT
WHILE OVERHEAD DANCES A DRAGONTAIL KITE

WHEN A MAN SEEKS ADVENTURE A MAN ALWAYS GAMBLES TO WIN
AS I WALK I CAN FEEL THE ROMANCE AND ADVENTURE BEGIN!

(Taylor finds himself in front of the Bakery Retail Shop and stops to look at the baked goods in the window. He remains there as the next scene opens. Music underscores next scene)

ACT I

SCENE 4B

PLACE: Cheung Ah-lum's Bakery Retail Shop

AH-LUM appears from within his retail shop (bakeshop) at Queen's Road. HE walks up to his WIFE who, along with assistants, has been waiting on customers and tending to business. HE motions for her to step aside so HE may speak privately to her.

AH-LUM
Go upstairs and take the box in my desk to the bakery. Hide it in your room. And don't lose it! It is full of silver!

AHEE
Silver? For whom?

AH-LUM
The new assistant to Governor Bowring has asked to meet with me later. John Avery.

AHEE
What does he want?

AH-LUM
What does any British official want with a Chinese merchant? He smells money. Their decision on the baking contract is due. I think I will keep it again if the right palm is greased.

AHEE
That is not business, that is-

AH-LUM
Well, that is Hong Kong business! Now do as I ask.

(As AHEE exits, CHARLES TAYLOR enters the busy shop and sees AH-LUM. TAYLOR points to some bread and rolls. AH-LUM begins wrapping the bread for him)

TAYLOR
Wonderful smell in your shop! Nothing like the smell of fresh bread!

(AH-LUM looks up at him)

AH-LUM
You are...British?

TAYLOR
No. American. Charles Taylor is my name.

(TAYLOR holds out his hand. AH-LUM hesitates, then takes it)

AH-LUM
My name is Ah-lum. Cheung Ah-lum. You are new to Hong Kong?

TAYLOR
Just arrived. From California. I guess you've been in Hong Kong a long time.

AH-LUM (proudly)
Yes! Many years. My first job was for Mr. Bingham, but Mr. Bingham went to California. Oh! You from California! You must know him!

TAYLOR (laughing)
No. I don't think so, I-

AH-LUM
But, finally, I got to start my own business! This is my bakeshop; my bakery is about a mile from here in Spring Garden. And, now, I supply the Navy with biscuit! The British Navy!

TAYLOR
Well, good for you! And business is good?

AH-LUM
...Good. But now there is plenty trouble between Chinese officials in China and British troops. Too much trouble! Business need peace, you savvy?

(A BAKER requests AH-LUM'S assistance and AH-LUM moves away from TAYLOR)

(AHEE appears from the interior of the shop. SHE and TAYLOR suddenly see each other and openly stare. TAYLOR is again struck by her beauty. AH-LUM returns, glances at AHEE, then turns to TAYLOR)

AH-LUM (cont)
This is my back-of-the-house person.

AHEE
How do you do? I'm very pleased to meet you.

TAYLOR Oh. You speak English so well?

AHEE
Yes. I learned in China from tutors and from missionaries.

TAYLOR
I thought most Chinese spoke only a kind of amusing, broken English.

AHEE
I think you will find that the Chinese spoken by Englishmen in Hong Kong, if any, is far more 'amusing' and 'broken' than our attempts to communicate in English.

(AH-LUM is called away by one of the clerks to assist with a problem)

TAYLOR
I beg your pardon; I meant no offence. I only-

AHEE
I took no offence. You are a merchant from London?

TAYLOR
No. I am a physician from America.

AHEE
Of course. Your accent. I should have known. And you have left your own country to be a physician in Hong Kong?

TAYLOR
My grandfather was the ship surgeon on board the Empress of China, the first American ship here. And my father was a surgeon for many years in Malaya and Singapore.

AHEE
I see. And I had thought it was only Chinese who had such strong family traditions!

AH-LUM
Ahee!

AHEE
Excuse me.

(AHEE moves to speak with AH-LUM and a customer. They remain in half light. Spot on TAYLOR as his soliloquy continues)

TAYLOR
GENTLE, ORIENTAL MAIDEN, IF SHE WERE NEAR, WHAT DELIGHT
HER LOVELY FACE, I COULD SEE DAY AND NIGHT
A VISION OF SATIN AND SILK EMBROIDERED IN BRIGHT, GAY HUES
AND AS SHE WALKS, THERE ISN'T A SOUND WHEN SHE GLIDES BY IN VELVET SHOES

EARRINGS OF JADE, BRACELETS OF PEARL, ANKLETS OF GOLD
IVORY COMBS IN HER RAVEN HAIR
OH, TO KISS HER CRIMSON LIPS...
WOULD I DARE?!

IS THIS MAGIC? HAS SHE CAST A SPELL ABOUT ME?
I CAN FEEL THAT MY FUTURE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME
TELL ALL CAPTAINS - LET THEIR CLIPPERS LEAVE WITHOUT ME
WHEN I FIRST SAW HER FACE - I KNEW WHY I CAME!

(AHEE and AH-LUM return; lights up)

AHEE
I am sure Hong Kong can use the services of another surgeon. And, now, if you will excuse me, I must go to our bakery.

(AHEE bows to TAYLOR and exits)

TAYLOR (cont)
Your...'back-of-the-house person' is lovely.

AH-LUM
Thank you. She is from a high-class family in China. (touches his head) Everybody smart. Everybody scholar. (laughs) Not like me. (gestures at TAYLOR) You are always welcome to be my customer. Most foreign people in Hong Kong take my bread. I-

(Ah-lum's FATHER appears in an inner doorway)

FATHER
Ah-lum!

(AH-LUM's mood suddenly changes to one more furtive and frightened. HE turns back to TAYLOR, quickly hands him his bread and rolls and speaks abruptly)

AH-LUM
Thank you. I must go!

(HE quickly disappears after the older man into the depths of the shop)

(TAYLOR picks up his walking stick and bread and walks out of the shop.

(TAYLOR stops an English couple walking by)(TAYLOR stops an English couple walking by)

TAYLOR
I beg your pardon. Could you direct me to the E-Sing Bakery?

(The man points with his walking stick)

ENGLISHMAN
About one mile. Just follow the road along the harbour to Spring Garden.

(TAYLOR nods and quickly walks off)

TAYLOR (cont)
Thank you!

TAYLOR (cont)
FRAGRANT HARBOUR - BOUNTEOUS TREASURES ALL AROUND ME
SUNLIGHT BATHING THE HARBOUR CREATES A GOLDEN GLEAM
FRAGRANT HARBOUR - IN YOUR SPLENDOR, YOU ASTOUND ME
THIS ADVENTURE IS REAL, YET TRULY MY DREAM!

BLACKOUT

ACT I

SCENE 5

PLACE: The E-Sing Bakery

TIME: Immediately Following

The POISONERS (including YONG-SANG) are seen silhouetted against the backdrop and then in person. We discern them only indistinctly against the black background and in the red glow of the woodburning brick bread oven.

As the powerful, percussive music (from the end of the following full song) is heard, the bakers begin choreographed steps, a combination dance/tai ch'i in which, as their heads quickly turn in unison, their queues are thrown back in a show of defiance. This is then combined with actions of bread baking.

BAKERS
WE MIX THE DOUGH
IN WITH THE YEAST
BAKING BRE-EAD
A BREAKFAST FEAST

WE FINISH WORK
THEN START AGAIN
FERMENTING DOUGH
FERMENTING MEN

(A kneading machine of the period - with an enormous amount of cogs, gears and moving parts - is being worked by hand and another by steam. Steam is billowing all over the stage. WORKERS mix the dough and the yeast and put dough for the bread into the wood- fired oven. Several BAKERS also knead dough by hand at the dough troughs)

(As THEY do so, they forcefully plunge their clenched fists into the dough, raise the clinging mass with their arms and fling it down again with a series of loud "Aiiyaaahs!" and heartfelt grunts; lights up)

POISONER ONE
We bake their bread, build their roads and empty their chamber pots! When do we strike back?!

YONG-SANG
When the time is right! Be patient!

POISONER ONE
Why can't we fight the outside barbarians like men?! We should be taking up swords!

YONG-SANG
Swords and spears against their rifles and fire ships armed with cannon?!

POISONER ONE
So we do nothing?!

(YONG-SANG stares at the man then motions for all of them to gather around him)

YONG-SANG
Watch the door.

(One of the bakers stands by the door)

YONG-SANG
I received instructions from mandarin officials at Canton. (excited murmuring) We are to act very soon. And if we carry out their instructions, we will change history and restore Hong Kong to China! (excited murmuring)

POISONER ONE
What is it?!

POISONER TWO
What is the plan?!

(Yong-sang gestures toward the bakery)

YONG-SANG
We are going to...poison...their...bread.

(Awed silence among the bakers followed by incredible hilarity, vengeful laughter bordering on brief hysteria)

(The baker at the door runs into the room)

BAKER
Ah-lum is coming! The baker is coming!

(Instantly, the POISONERS place aprons about their waists. THEY quickly run upstage which now suddenly lights up as bakers throw open the window shutters. They begin working frantically)

(Just as the door opens and AH-LUM walks in, THEY begin singing a pleasant work song. AH-LUM walks about, eyeing them suspiciously, occasionally whipping one with his queue as HE catches him moving too slowly or even sleeping in one of the troughs)

SONG: "We are the E-Sing Bakers"

ALL BAKERS/POISONERS
WE ARE THE E-SING BAKERS
WE'RE AT SPRING GARDEN LANE;
FINE BREAD AND BISCUIT MAKERS
AND CAKES BOTH PLUM AND PLAIN. PLUM AND PLAIN!
PLUM AND PLAIN!

WE ARE THE E-SING BAKERS
IN CHEUNG AH-LUM'S EMPLOY;
(SOLO) I AM AH-PUK!
(SOLO) I AM AH-CHEE! (SOLO) AH-FUK!
(SOLO) AH-TSAT!
(SOLO) AH-TSOI!

(SOLO) WE WEIGH THE FLOUR
(SOLO) AND BLEND THE YEAST;
(SOLO) AND MIX IT WITH A PINCH OF SALT.
(SOLO) DAYTIME!
(SOLO) NIGHTTIME!
(SOLO) ALLATIME!
(SOLO) ANYTIME!

(The next line is sung softly to the audience behind AH-LUM's back)

POISONER 4
IF SOMEBODY'S SICK? HOW CAN THEY SAY IT'S OUR FAULT?

ALL BAKERS/POISONERS (cont)

WE ARE THE E-SING BAKERS
WE'RE AT SPRING GARDEN LANE;
FINE BREAD AND BISCUIT MAKERS
AND CAKES BOTH PLUM AND PLAIN. PLUM AND PLAIN!
PLUM AND PLAIN!

WE ARE THE E-SING BAKERS
IN CHEUNG AH-LUM'S EMPLOY;
(SOLO) I AM AH-PUK!
(SOLO) I AM AH-CHEE! (SOLO) AH-FUK!
(SOLO) AH-TSAT!
(SOLO) AH-TSOI!

(AH-LUM moves to the door and opens it)

ALL BAKERS/POISONERS (cont)
WE KNEAD AND KNEAD THE MIXTURE
UNTIL IT STARTS TO RISE;
THE BALL OF DOUGH IS GROWING
THE BALL OF DOUGH IS GROWING

(AH-LUM glares at his bakers while the singing of the last lines continue)

ALL BAKERS/POISONERS (cont)
THE BALL OF DOUGH IS GROWING
THE BALL OF DOUGH IS GROWING
THE BALL OF DOUGH IS...RISING...

(AH-LUM exits and slams the door. Immediately, the bakers whip off their aprons, and again move downstage facing the audience. The music is now as at the opening of the scene)

ALL BAKERS/POISONERS (cont)
IT MIGHT BE SAID
IT'S ONLY BREAD;
DOESN'T MATTER
WHEN THEY'RE ALL DEAD!

I GUESS YOU KNOW
WE'LL SPIKE THE DOUGH
THEN WE'LL POP IN
AND SAY 'HELLO'!

IT MIGHT BE SAID
IT'S ONLY BREAD;
DOESN'T MATTER
WHEN THEY'RE ALL DEAD!

I GUESS YOU KNOW
WE'LL SPIKE THE DOUGH
THEN WE'LL POP IN
AND SAY 'HELLO'!

ACT I

SCENE 6

PLACE: Outside the E-Sing Bakery

TIME: Immediately Following

TAYLOR finds himself in Spring Garden. His theme music continues. HE is in a quiet lane at the far end of which is the facade of a large house with the sign in English and Chinese: E-SING BAKERY. Caged birds hanging from trees chirp against one another. TAYLOR sits beneath a tree on a large rock and leans on his walking stick.

An elderly congee HAWKER walks laboriously along the lane weighted down with a pole across the back of his neck and shoulders. A large, burdensome, cooking pot dangles from each end of the pole.

Two British SAILORS appear in chairs borne by two Chinese BEARERS. The congee HAWKER doesn't see them soon enough and as HE turns, one of his cooking pots hits one of the BEARERS. The BEARER falls to his knees and the chair tips over, spilling out the SAILOR. The SAILOR picks himself up and charges after the HAWKER. HE begins whipping the man with his stick.

SAILOR
You bloody fool!

(TAYLOR is sitting just behind the SAILOR and as the man reaches back to deliver another blow, TAYLOR gets to his feet and holds on to the man's stick)

SAILOR
(cont) (turning)
What the bloody 'ell?!

TAYLOR
It's not the hawker's fault. It was an accident.

(While this has been happening, the second SAILOR has been let down from his chair, and approaches TAYLOR from behind)

FIRST SAILOR
Mind your own business, Yank! Or you'll get the same.

TAYLOR
You thrash that man again, and I'll give you a thrashing.

(TAYLOR is spun brusquely about and hit by a solid blow in the stomach. As HE doubles over, a poorly aimed knee grazes the side of his face. HE straightens to defend himself and throws a right into his assailant's face. The first SAILOR pins his arms and his companion smashes a fist into TAYLOR's eye)

(Suddenly, AHEE runs out of the nearby bakery accompanied by YONG SANG and some of the BAKERS. SHE screams at the SAILORS and pushes them away from TAYLOR as the BAKERS, wielding kitchen knives and cleavers and other bakery utensils, keep the SAILORS at bay)

AHEE
Let him alone! You foreign-devils let him alone and get away!

SECOND SAILOR
Foreign devil?! What the bloody 'ell do you think 'e is?

AHEE
He is a physician!

FIRST SAILOR
(holding his bloody nose)
'E don't fight like one!

(The SAILORS move away from TAYLOR and, as the BAKERS threaten them, they get back into their chairs and move off)

AHEE
Come with me. I will tend to your cut.

TAYLOR
Thank you. But I think-

AHEE
You are bleeding. (to YONG-SANG) Help me get him to the parlor. (YONG-SANG hesitates) Brother, he fought for one of us!

(YONG-SANG and others aid AHEE in walking TAYLOR inside the bakery)

(The BAKERS place TAYLOR on a couch inside a spacious parlor over the E-Sing Bakery at Spring Garden. AHEE's servant, ALOY, appears with a container of hot water)

AHEE
It's all right, brother. You can go back to work.

YONG-SANG
I will not leave you alone with him.

AHEE
Brother, he is a physician who is injured. Besides, I am not alone; Aloy is here. Now, please go!

(YONG-SANG and the other BAKERS leave)

(AHEE prepares Chinese herbal medicine at a low table a few feet away. TAYLOR sits up and looks about the room. The wall opposite the couch is in darkness)

AHEE
Rest a minute, please. I need to wash your cut.

(TAYLOR cautiously feels various areas of his face and each time holds his hand out to check for blood. AHEE carries a bowl of water, a tiny container and a towel to the couch. SHE sits beside him, dips the cloth in the water, and begins using it as a compress above his eye)

AHEE (cont)
There is a bit of blood but I think it is not so serious.

(TAYLOR winces slightly as she moves the cloth to his mouth, then applies Chinese herbs to his eye)

AHEE
(cont) (smiling)
You are American. A surgeon. And you fought two British sailors in defense of an elderly Chinese hawker of congee?

TAYLOR
I only intended to release him. I wanted no fight. I'm glad you arrived when you did. What are you rubbing on the cuts?

AHEE
A mixture of Chinese herbs. How does it feel?

TAYLOR
Pleasant. Cooling. I didn't dare hope the wife of a baker would be so skilled with Chinese herbs, Mrs...

AHEE
I learned from my father in China, Dr. Taylor....and you may call me Ahee. (SHE glances toward ALOY) Aloy, you may go. (ALOY hesitates) You may go!

(ALOY exits. AHEE stands up, and returns the bowl and various ointments to the shelf)

AHEE (cont)
I'm sorry.

TAYLOR
Sorry? Whatever for?

AHEE
My father taught me how to apply herbs to injured people. I do it automatically. But I think a Western lady would not have touched you. Now you will think I am not...ladylike.

TAYLOR
(laughing)
Ahee, you are the most "ladylike" person I've ever met.

AHEE (brightening)
Really? I try to observe the foreign ladies to see how they dress and how they behave. I wish I could read the foreign newspapers and magazines that arrive on the ships.

TAYLOR
You speak English so well, but cannot read?

AHEE
I do read and write, but not well.

TAYLOR
The house where I'm staying has stacks of foreign papers. I could bring you some. If you like, I could read articles on foreign customs to you. And on world events.

AHEE
Would you really? I want to know everything about Western ways. What people are doing far away from here. Hong Kong is only a place for business and it is always in so much turmoil.

TAYLOR
Yes. But I think...despite all the troubles swirling about this colony, I think you have more than enough strength to deal with whatever may come...You are a very remarkable woman. And...

AHEE
Yes?

TAYLOR
And very beautiful.

AHEE
I am sure your wife is very beautiful.

TAYLOR
I have no wife. I journeyed to Hong Kong alone.

(THEY stare at each other for several moments)

TAYLOR
I could come tomorrow about this time if you like.

AHEE
Yes. I would like that very much.

TAYLOR (cont)
Well, I feel much better. Please tell your father he taught you well.

AHEE
My father passed away some time ago.

TAYLOR
I'm sorry.

AHEE
He was a scholar living near Canton. Respected and successful. Then he was introduced to foreign mud.

TAYLOR
"Foreign mud?"

AHEE
It is what you call "opium". My father...In any case, when he died, my brother and I came to Hong Kong and my brother was able to arrange a marriage for me. Excuse me, I say too much.

TAYLOR
And so you became a baker's wife.

AHEE
Yes. My husband provides well for me.

TAYLOR
But it sounds like you are not happy...Forgive me, I meant the political situation between China and England seems to be closing in around Chinese willing to do business with foreigners.

AHEE
Yes. Fortune-tellers have warned me that things will get worse for us if we don't leave; but my husband will not listen. I try not to think about things too much. Sometimes...

(Musical underscoring begins)

AHEE (cont)
Sometimes I dream.

TAYLOR
And, what, may I ask, do you dream about?

AHEE
I have never told anyone that, Dr. Taylor. Besides, you might laugh.

TAYLOR
Please call me Charles. And I give you my word I will not laugh. Now tell me your dream.

AHEE
What I dream of was a real place, but so far removed from my own life, that, for me, it will always be magical.

(AHEE slides a window curtain aside and a shaft of light now reveals that the wall is almost completely covered by a tapestry with a magni- ficent scene of the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851. Queen Victoria and her retinue are surrounded by a well dressed crowd on the opening day of the Great Exhibition in London's Hyde Park. TAYLOR also turns to look at the tapestry)

TAYLOR
The Great Exhibition.

(AHEE becomes more excited as she speaks. Simultaneously, the tapestry is transformed into an actual upstage setting of people dressed as in the tapestry and acting out the roles of visitors to the Great Exhibition, including top-hatted gentlemen, crinolined ladies, Queen Victoria and others. Events in the Great Exhibition on stage respond directly to the lines of her song)

AHEE (cont)
Yes. London's magnificent Crystal Palace. Some of our bread customers were there. One gave my husband this tapestry. But his father is not fond of things Western; so I brought it here. And, sometimes, I even imagine...I was there.

(AHEE now moves into the actual setting of the Great Exhibition)

SONG: "The Great Exhibition"

AHEE (cont)
THE GREAT EXHIBITION!
I SAW PEDDLER AND PATRICIAN!
ON EVERY ROAD TO HYDE PARK THEY CAME
EVERY LIVELIHOOD I TRIED TO NAME
MENDICANT TO MILLIONAIRE
I WAS THERE...

THE GREAT EXHIBITION!
OPENING DAY ADMISSION!
THREE GUINEAS FOR GENTLEMEN
LADIES JUST TWO;
BUT I DID NOT PAY LIKE THE REST
FOR I WAS AN INVITED GUEST
A MEMBER OF HER MAJESTY'S RETINUE!
I WAS THERE TOO...

AND A VOICE WAS HEARD ABOVE THE CLAMOR OF THE THRONG:

AHEE/ATTENDANT TO QUEEN VICTORIA
MAKE WAY, MAKE WAY, MAKE WAY FOR THE LADY FROM HONG KONG!

AHEE
ALL HEADS TURNED AS I REACHED THE HEAD OF THE QUEUE
AND THE QUEEN SMILED AND SAID

AHEE/QUEEN VICTORIA
MY DEAR, AFTER YOU

AHEE
IN THE GLITTERING FAIRY TALE PALACE OF CRYSTAL
ALL DREAMS CAN COME TRUE!

THE GREAT EXHIBITION!
I WAS ON A NOBLE MISSION!
I HAD WRITTEN THE QUEEN WITH AN URGENT PLEA
AND ASKED THAT SHE MIGHT SPEAK WITH ME
AS I STOOD BY HER SIDE THE SUN APPEARED
AND IN MY HEART ALL OF CHINA CHEERED;
AND I SAID, "REGINA, VICTORIA, REGAL QUEEN - (spoken) Your policy on opium is wrong!!"

(sudden horror & silence in the crowd; All movement ceases)

AND A HUSH BESTILLED THE CLAMOR OF THE THRONG!

AHEE/QUEEN VICTORIA
INDEED!

AHEE
ROARED THE QUEEN

AHEE/QUEEN VICTORIA
EXPLAIN THEN WHAT ENGLAND SHOULD DO!

AHEE
I SPOKE, SHE LISTENED, THOUGH TENSE, SHE AGREED
SHE ISSUED HER COMMANDS AND THE OPIUM SHIPS WITHDREW!

AHEE & ENSEMBLE
IN THE GLITTERING FAIRY TALE PALACE OF CRYSTAL
ALL DREAMS CAN COME TRUE!

AHEE
THE GREAT EXHIBITION!
NATIONS PAID RECOGNITION!
THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON KISSED MY HAND
AND THANKED ME FOR TAKING A MORAL STAND;
WHEREVER I WENT PEOPLE CHEERED MY NAME
AND THANKED ME FOR ENDING ENGLAND'S SHAME!
I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EYES TO SEE
THAT AS I WALKED MEN BOWED TO ME
THEY TIPPED THEIR HATS SO PERFECTLY DEBONAIR
I WAS THERE...

AND A VOICE WAS HEARD ABOVE THE CLAMOR OF THE THRONG:

AHEE & ENSEMBLE
MAKE WAY, MAKE WAY, MAKE WAY FOR THE LADY
FROM HONG KONG!

AHEE
IN THE GLITTERING FAIRY TALE PALACE OF CRYSTAL

AHEE/QUEEN VICTORIA/ENSEMBLE
ALL DREAMS CAN COME -"

(The Great Exhibition scene suddenly blacks out; the tapestry immediately reappears. As it does so, a door opens, and silhouetted in the doorway, is AH-LUM. For several seconds, no one says a word. AH-LUM moves into the room, followed by YONG-SANG. AH-LUM glances about)

AH-LUM
You should have offered tea and sweatmeats to your guest.

AHEE
My husband, Dr. Taylor was-

AH-LUM
Yes, I heard about the attack. You are feeling better now?

TAYLOR
Yes. It was fortunate for me that your wife has such extensive knowledge of Chinese herbs.

(AH-LUM walks a few steps and retrieves TAYLOR's walking stick. HE holds it out to him)

AH-LUM
Then I shall walk you out.

(TAYLOR walks forward and takes it)

TAYLOR
Most kind of you. (to AHEE) I certainly thank you for your kindness.

AHEE
It is I who should thank you. You attempted to aid one of my countrymen. I remain in your debt, Dr. Taylor.

(The door closes. SHE stands still facing the door for several seconds, then turns to YONG-SANG)

YONG-SANG
He's a foreign devil!

AHEE
Brother, not all foreigners are devils.

YONG-SANG
Sister, I know how unhappy you are living apart from your husband, but you must never bring shame on him!

AHEE
I did nothing to bring shame on my husband! Is that why you have come? To lecture me? Then you may as well-

YONG-SANG
No. (lowering his voice) I came to tell you I am leaving for Kowloon tomorrow. I will take three or four men with me after dark and return with the arsenic.

(HE opens the doors of a shelf)

YONG-SANG (cont)
We will hide the arsenic here. I think ten pounds should be- (He sees the silver bars; removes one) What is this silver?

AHEE
That is to aid my husband in securing his baking contract with the British.

YONG-SANG
So Chinese must first bribe the outside barbarians before they will allow us to feed them?!

(He throws the silver bar back inside the shelf and slams the doors closed)

YONG-SANG (cont)
Has Ah-lum no pride at all?!..No matter. After tomorrow night all on this island will be ours.

AHEE
Brother, please don't go. It is too dangerous! And it is wrong!

YONG-SANG
Do you not remember it?

AHEE
Remember what, my brother?

YONG-SANG
Our father's gentle laughter. Before the foreign mud arrived. Before he stopped studying, stopped eating, stopped caring about anything except lying down with his opium pipe.

AHEE
Brother, please...

YONG-SANG
And when in his stupor he had forgotten my name, the pathetic wreck who was once our father summoned the courage to take his life! (softer) It is too late for our father, little sister. But if we can force the foreigners to withdraw from Hong Kong, then perhaps China will be saved.

AHEE
Brother, not everything foreign is evil. The physician we helped is not evil. There are many good things here in Hong Kong that-

YONG-SANG
Good!? On our land, we are told to carry passes at night or be arrested! And when they arrest us they grab us by our queues and herd us to jail like some kind of animals! Their Jesus-men mock our gods and call them heathen idols! This is our land!

AHEE (holding him)
I am afraid for you.

(The lights begin fading)

YONG-SANG (embracing her)
Don't be. But know this: I know how unhappy you are living in Hong Kong; but if anything happens to me, your husband and his father will protect you. You in turn must always honor and obey them. Promise me this.

AHEE
I...I promise. And you must promise to be careful. You are all the family I have.

YONG-SANG
Careful? Yes, I promise. For your sake. Your pretty head is always full of dreams. Someone more practical must be here to look after you. I will be careful but I will do what I must.

REPRISE: "My Son is too Young"

YONG-SANG
THE PASSION OF YANG!

AHEE
NEEDS THE CAUTION OF YIN!

YONG-SANG
WHEN IN HARMONY - STRENGTH!

AHEE
WHEN IN CHAOS - CHAGRIN!

YONG-SANG
I SENSE A NEW BEGINNING!

AHEE
BUT WHAT HAVE WE BEGUN? PLEASE BE CAREFUL, MY BROTHER!

YONG-SANG / AHEE
I ONLY DO WHAT MUST BE DONE/ YOU ARE OUR
FATHER'S ONLY SON

BLACKOUT

The Great Exhibition of 1851. A Chinese swordsman & juggler did in fact show up at the Great Exhibition. He spoke no English and was dressed in mandarin robes. The British assumed he must be the Chinese ambassador and gave him a place of honor (as seen in this painting). Proof, if any were needed, of how it pays to dress for success.

Read the conclusion of Act One