Protection and Preservation, Book 10
SJ and Jacob quickly joined us and received David's concise explanation of the situation. He then said, "We will be leaving. Logistically, taking them with us will be no issue. I don't see how we can leave them morally. However, I want another pair of opinions in this matter. I will have to explain that we will never return." He looked up and said, "Caroline, would you leave her and join us for a moment?" She came over. He repeated his last statement to us and said, "We can take them with us but we will not return. They will come to America with us and never see this area again. Caroline, do you think Mei understands that and the ramifications of her request?"
Caroline said, "I think so. She knows that staying here will result in death. She and the older girl would be gang raped before they were killed. The culture can be cruel when status is lost. That's particularly true for upper status folks."
We were all a bit shocked. David said, "Tell her she and her children may join us. However, explain all the ramifications that you can think of in that decision. Her children will become Americans learning a new language and a new culture. It won't be an easy choice but might be her only one."
Caroline talked to her for a while. She came to us with the four of them. Caroline said, "She will come with us. Her daughter is twelve years old and named Kimora. The boy is nine and named Shing. The small girl is six and named Ting. They are scared. Watching their father die was not pleasant and the older two are well aware of what would happen to them if they stayed. It will take a while to acclimate them to American ways but I think it will work."
David said, "They are welcome. Caroline, get them on the plane and keep them close to you and Ellis. Please watch over them. I will talk with them later. We will leave within the hour. There is nothing for us here. I don't want us to get involved any further in the local issues."
Caroline nodded and took the four inside Mallard with their few belongings. David began giving instructions and, ten minutes later, Duck and Mallard were in the air. Our next stop was Beijing under four hundred miles away.
Beijing was not in good shape. We landed but found no fuel and no people. We quickly left and flew toward our next stop, Seoul, South Korea. We didn't land. There had been a war here many years ago. We shook our heads and flew on to Tokyo. The airport had damage but was usable. We landed in Duck and went through our normal procedure for checking out an airport. It appeared that earthquakes had caused some damage. We had seen smoke as we approached Japan but nothing close. David and I went out in the Humvee with Myra and Tom. We found no one but did find good fuel. David wanted us to stay the night. Mallard was brought in and we fueled both birds. We settled into the terminal for the night. David and I talked to Mei and her children with the help of Caroline and Ellis.
The six of them had settled into a comfortable spot in the terminal though all six looked worried. David had told me to take the lead. I did. "I hope you are all comfortable." As Caroline translated, all four came to their feet and bowed. I said, "You are with a new culture. Everyone is equal and no one bows to anyone. We shake hands and hug with friends and family. We would like to be your friends."
David shook hands with Ellis as I hugged Mei. She held on tightly as David moved to Caroline and hugged her. Amy joined us with her husband. I moved to the children and David moved to Mei. The four of us completed hugging with David and Bill shaking hands with Mei's son, Shing. We all sat down together.
I resumed talking. "Mei, I know this has been a tough time for you and you and your children are with a new group in a new situation. First, please know that you are all welcome. Secondly, you and your children are safe. No one makes demands upon others in our culture. Your children are under our age of consent. They may not engage, even willingly, in any sexual action without there being serious trouble for the other party. I am sure you have many questions and we will try to answer them."
Caroline spoke to Mei translating my words. Then, Mei spoke and Caroline translated back to me. Caroline said, "She is grateful to you and David for saving them. All of them would have been killed. It happens when leaders change."
I was first inclined to chuckle but it wasn't funny. Instead, I said, "My brother was the elected leader of Protection. When he wouldn't run for another term, he simply returned to his farm. No one was harmed. That is the way leadership changes in our community. Another person from another family is now our leader. If someone tried to use force to become leader, the people would stop him or her."
Caroline translated and talked with Mei some. At one point, Amy entered the conversation to insure that there was no misunderstanding about how we governed ourselves and how we treat others. After a while, Caroline said, "What duties does Mei have? What about her children? I guess I have the same question about Ellis and me, too."
I said, "There are no duties for any of you. You will all be asked to help out with various chores during our trip. If they have duties, it is to learn to speak English and learn about our culture. Caroline, you and Ellis have that second item, too. We are a democracy and David delegates and asks for opinions very well. On the other hand, if he tells someone to do something, he is serious and we do it. We elected him to be our leader for a reason and that is to lead."
Amy said, "You should understand that Bobbi is his co-leader. You see here David delegating a role."
David said, "I just felt that Mei would be more comfortable with Bobbi talking to them rather me. We don't dictate."
Amy and Caroline did a lot of translating then. When Amy and Caroline finished answering Mei's additional questions. She made a short speech to them. Caroline translated. "Mei says she is honored and thankful to be part of the community. She and her children will do as you say. They will try to learn fast."
I hugged Mei. Her younger daughter, Ting, crawled into David's lap. He put his arms around her gently. She looked quite happy.
We had supper and slept for the night in the terminal. No one came to the airport and, in the morning, we left for our next stop, Shanghai. It was a longer leg being about eleven hundred miles by air according to our figures.