By James Clavell
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The bosun shouted, and the crew shipped the oars and slipped over the side and dragged the boat smartly above the surf. Struan hesitated. Then he leaped off the prow. The moment his seaboots touched the shore he knew that the island was going to be the death of him. ” Robb was beside him and saw the sudden pallor. ” Struan forced a smile. ” He brushed the sea spray off his forehead and strode up the beach toward the flagpole. By the blood of Christ, he thought, I’ve sweated and planned years to get you, Island, and you’re not going to beat me now.
His feet hurt and he was uncomfortable in his gold-braided uniform. Damn the delay! Damn the island and the harbor and the waste of good ships and good men. He remembered his father’s saying, “Blasted civilians. All they think of is money or power. They’ve no sense of honor, none. Watch your backside, son, when there’s a civilian in command. ” How can a man like Longstaff be so stupid? The man’s from a good family, well-bred—his father was a diplomat at the court of Spain. Or was it Portugal? And why did Struan push Longstaff into stopping the war?
But that’s finished. God damn the Emperor of China! Fool to wreck a structure so cleverly constructed a century ago. Everything was working so well, Quance thought bitterly, but now it’s over. Now we’ve taken Hong Kong. And now that the might of England is committed in the East and the traders have had a taste of power, they won’t be content with just Hong Kong. ” “Why so glum, Mr. ” Quance put on his spectacles. Morley Skinner was standing at the foot of the bank. “Not glum, young man. Sad. ” He put the unfinished painting aside and set a clean piece of paper on his easel.
Asian Saga 02 - Tai-Pan by James Clavell