Friday, November 03, 2006

The Widow Ching—Pirate

Ching is a woman who takes over a pirate fleet after the death of her husband. (Her husband was murdered by the shareholders of the fleet after he accepted an offer from the emperor of China to assume the position of master of the royal stables, in exchange for giving up piracy.) The emperor twice sends fleets to subdue her. The first is wiped out. The second flies dragon kites above Ching’s fleet and she reads in their passage an omen that instructs her to surrender and sue for mercy. She is pardoned by the emperor, retires from piracy, and spends her remaining days in the relatively peaceful occupation of opium smuggling.

Another quick (and presumably true) vignette from Borges’ Universal History of Infamy.

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