Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Shrewd Sanctity

From chapter 10 of Shrewd Sanctity – the story of Kathleen Hall 1896-1970, missionary nurse in China, by Rae McGregor, published by Polygraphia 2006

After giving instructions to her [Chinese] nurses about what should be done at the clinic while she was away she began the long walk to the railway line where she could catch a train to Beijing. It was a relief that there were no obstructions [from the Japanese] and she arrived in Beijing full of enthusiasm for the future of the mission at Songjiazhuang.

She was in for a shock.

The Japanese had made a formal complaint about her to the British Embassy and were demanding that she be sent out of China. After all her efforts to keep her work quiet a well-meaning Chinese journalist had heard about her activities and written a glowing article about her in a Chinese newspaper. Of course the Japanese intelligence read all the newspapers and immediately became suspicious of her. She was ordered out.
There was a message for her from Mr Britland saying she was to go immediately to Hong Kong and get in touch with Bishop Hall. Her life was in danger and on hearing of her arrival in Beijing the mission had made out a travel pass so she could leave immediately.

She didn’t want to go and, during the night, she considered over and over again ways in which she could slip out into the Western Hills and return to the JinChaJi area. She knew the terrain, all the paths that others didn’t know. It would be easy for her to make her way out of Beijing and get back into the village in the hills. But as the night wore on she realised that now she was a big danger to others. The Japanese would be watching her. Anyone she contacted would immediately be suspect and in mortal danger. Even if she did get through safely, she wouldn’t be able to take any supplies with her and it would only be a matter of time before she was hunted down.

After her sleepless night she dressed early, aware that there was nothing she could do but go. Through her secret contacts in Beijing she sent messages back to her nurses at Songjiazhuang. It was a miserable thought that she wouldn’t be able to continue her work, but worse that she couldn’t say goodbye.
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