The Pagan Madonna (Chapter 2, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 2

It was chance that brought Jane Norman into Shanghai. The British
transport, bound from Vladivostok to Hong-Kong, was destined to swing on
her mudhook forty-eight hours. So Jane, a Red Cross nurse, relieved and on
the first leg of the journey home to the United States, decided to spend
those forty-eight hours in Shanghai, see the sights and do a little
shopping. Besides, she had seen nothing of China. On the way over,
fourteen months since, she had come direct from San Francisco to the
Russian port.

Jane was one of those suffocating adventurers whom circumstance had fenced
in. In fancy she beat her hands against the bars of this cage that had no
door, but through which she could see the caravans of dreams. Sea room and
sky room were the want of her, and no matter which way she turned--bars.
Her soul craved colour, distances, mountain peaks; and about all she had
ever seen were the white walls of hospital wards. It is not adventure to
tend the sick, to bind up wounds, to cheer the convalescing; it is a dull
if angelic business.

In her heart of hearts Jane knew that she had accepted the hardships of
the Siberian campaign with the secret hope that some adventure might
befall her--only to learn that her inexorable cage had travelled along
with her. Understand, this longing was not the outcome of romantical
reading; it was in the marrow of her--inherent. She was not in search of
Prince Charming. She rarely thought of love as other young women think of
it. She had not written in her mind any particular event she wanted to
happen; but she knew that there must be colour, distance, mountain peaks.
A few days of tremendous excitement; and then she acknowledged that she
would be quite ready to return to the old monotonous orbit.

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