Protection and Preservation, Book 10
As Caroline translated, neither Chang nor Mei seemed disappointed. Mei did have a slight look of relief in her eyes. I don't know if she didn't want David or didn't want me to have Chang. It didn't really matter.
Caroline turned back to us and said, "It is done in this land though now only between leaders having great respect for each other. It is also a way of complimenting the wife's beauty."
I said, "He was trying bore holes in my shirt and vest."
Caroline smiled. "He had figured out they were real and unfettered. It was truly an offer of appreciation. He is a good man by his lights but a bold one."
David said, "Caroline, what if we had agreed to his offer?"
"They would have done it but your rejection was very well done. Is that how you truly live?"
David said, "Yes. We do allow plural marriage. Bobbi's parents were three spouses. They had three more who died before I met her. Consent is vital in our communities. Punishment for rape is immediate and harsh. We also have an age of consent."
Caroline said, "Chang is the absolute leader of this area. He is smart but uses his position for his own benefit. That is common for this area. There is no real history of democracy. They also are a proud people. Humbling them is a mistake because someone will suffer. I have seen Chang kill people for little reason. He is careful with you but don't confuse his current caution with weakness."
I said, "I hope he doesn't make the same mistake about David or me."
Caroline said, "I will try to explain the American attitude and manner of treating people. I will try to explain to him that confusing your kindness with weakness would be a mistake. He doesn't know how tough Americans really are. However, I suspect that he will have someone test you. Be careful in the situation. Try not to hurt them too badly or get hurt yourselves."
The remainder of the day passed quietly. We did some minor maintenance on our planes. The next morning after breakfast, David and I went for a long walk leaving the airport area behind. We had pistols with us since it was our habit. We had walked a few miles and had started back when a younger man stepped out into the road. He was brandishing a sword. David whispered, "This is that test."
He, the young man, motioned at me to come with him. I shook my head and actually said, "No, I will stay with my husband."
He didn't seem to like my rejection for he frowned and said some words which, of course, we didn't understand. We smiled, shook our heads, and started to continue on by moving around him. He grabbed my arm.
He still had his sword in his free hand. I decided instantly that it was time to end the test. He wasn't expecting me to do anything and I disarmed him. I tossed his sword to David and motioned him to come at me. He was mad now.
David said, "Break an arm. There needs to be evidence." I nodded as he came at me. He knew something of the arts but wasn't ready for me to attack him as hard as I did. It was over quickly with a feint and an arm breaking throw. The snap of his arm breaking was loud in the otherwise silent morning. His scream of pain thereafter was even louder.
I stood back from him. I looked at David. "It's over. Why don't you keep his sword? That will make a point, too." David nodded and we continued our walk with David carrying the naked blade in his hand.
I said, "Husband, I hope no one attacks you and tries some sword play."
He smiled one of his quiet smiles. "I don't think it would be a good idea. I have the feeling that they carry their swords more for dress than for any real anticipated use." It was only known to a few that David liked to play with swords and had developed his skills. We walked back toward the airport.
When we were close, Chang approached us with Caroline. He spoke to Caroline. She grimaced and said, "Chang asked where you found the blade. I know that it's owned by one of his lieutenants."
David said, "Tell him that someone dropped it. I plan to keep it."
Caroline translated. Chang's face looked unhappy. He spoke and Caroline said, "Chang says that it is great shame for someone to drop their sword."
David said, "His arm was broken and he couldn't grip it any longer. He wanted to touch Bobbi without her permission. That's unwise."
Caroline looked a little startled but translated to Chang. He responded. She said, "Chang says that a man who can't protect his woman is no man."
David said, "Tell him that a man who attacks a woman and is defeated by her is no man. The only person to who I prove my manliness is Bobbi. She seems satisfied." I smiled and nodded my head happily while Caroline translated.
Chang was now distinctly unhappy. He said something rather abruptly to Caroline. She translated. "Chang says that he will take the sword."
David said, "Tell him, 'No.' I plan to keep it unless someone has the skill to convince me otherwise."
Caroline said, "He may fight you, David."
"That's his choice. He will learn he is not all powerful. Translate that as I said it."
"I have seen him kill with his sword, David."
David said, "Have you seen him fight with his sword?"
She said, "No, but I may when I tell him what you say."
David smiled one of his quiet smiles. "That's true."
Caroline spoke to Chang and was out of arm's reach. I think he might have hit her otherwise. He was mad and drew his sword.
David squared up and saluted him with the sword held in what looked like a careless manner. Chang swung his sword and his blow was met by David with a counter. Chang almost dropped his sword with the shock of the violent meeting of the blades. He stepped back with a look on his face of surprise. He made another swing and found his blade met again by David's with another harsh clang.
David now swung his blade and brushed Chang's blade to one side and made a cut across Chang's chest that wasn't deep though it would be painful. Chang's face was now showing shock and pain. David came at Chang again. When Chang tried to counter, David disarmed him with a quick twist of the blade. The sound of it hitting the ground was loud.