IN THE SHADOW OF LOVE

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Boursicot's touch seems to frighten her. Boursicot is somewhat nervous, too. He goes into the bathroom to put on a condom. He comes back, lies down with her and starts to caress her. Shi catches his hand. It is over quickly and Boursicot has to admit to himself that this first time with a woman is not as erotic as it had been with the boys he had slept with when he was a teen-ager -- perhaps because all the planning had made them tense. He goes into the bathroom to get rid of the condom and when he comes out he finds Shi in her underwear with blood on her leg.

Sex is never completely relaxed or free between them. She confides in him, he recalls, that in order to look masculine she has taken hormones. She fears they have damaged her health. Shortly before he is to leave China at the end of December , she tells him that she suspects she is pregnant.

The day before his departure, Boursicot tells her that if their baby is a boy he would like it to be called Bertrand; if it is a girl, to take his middle name, Michele. I don't know how. Just remember I will be back. He is not the innocent he was when he came to China.


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He has had a serious love affair with a beautiful French girl, a medical student, whom he is still seeing. He is living in an apartment in the diplomatic compound, but he puts no return address on the envelope. He is fearful, given the political climate, of making a bad move. He wants to go to her at once, but he can't. He isn't certain the new address he was given more than two years ago is right and he has to report to work, this time as an archivist at the embassy.

By his third day in Beijing, Boursicot has a plan. He will go to Shi's old house, where he knows the neighbors, and see if they have news.

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This could be safer, in these xenophobic times, than risking a trip to an unfamiliar neighborhood. He takes a pedicab to the center of town. From there he walks the few blocks to Shi's house. When the neighbors open the door, they gesture for him to go away.

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He tries to explain it is urgent. They quickly write out the address, then shut the door. The address is the one to which he has sent his letter. A few days later, a Sunday, Boursicot leaves the embassy compound and returns to the center of town and hires a pedicab. They ride north to the outskirts of the city and Boursicot concentrates on the route. Red Guards stand at intersections waving red flags and chanting "A thousand years to Chairman Mao.

There are rows of square, cinder-block buildings and they all look alike. As he searches for Shi's building, Boursicot realizes that people in the street are staring at him. A few days later, he tries again. He waits till evening, when the streets are relatively empty. He puts on a Mao jacket and a worker's cap, with visor and ear flaps. He borrows a bicycle from a friend at the embassy so he won't have to worry about a cab and driver.

The bicycle has diplomatic license plates, but Boursicot doesn't think of that. He finds the complex, but the address makes no sense to him. He takes a risk: he walks up to a young woman and asks for help. Boursicot is scared. The girl may be taking him to Shi or she may be taking him to the police. They go to one of the apartment blocks. Boursicot leaves his bicycle at the stairwell and follows the girl up the stairs to a second-floor apartment. He knocks, worrying. And then he hears the familiar voice. The door opens. Shi is wearing a man's shirt and baggy dark-blue trousers.

Four Tops - Standing In The Shadows Of Love (1967) 0815007

Her face is composed, but her voice is trembling. The girl leaves. Boursicot walks inside, his heart pounding. He grabs Shi's mother and kisses her. Then, all restraint gone, he kisses Shi. I was upside down. It is dark in the new apartment. Shi's old furniture and carpets and beautiful wall hangings are gone. The only picture on the wall is a portrait of Mao. Shi is excited now, trying to tell Boursicot everything at once. Times have been awful. The child is not here; it would be too dangerous for him, but he is safe. It is dangerous for Boursicot to remain. Everyone may know by now there is a foreigner in the building.

He must go. She doesn't know when they will see each other again.

She will think of something. Three days later, he is back. Shi is nervous when she opens the door.

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Boursicot is desperate for news of her and the child. Shi allows him in. Then, Boursicot recalls, she brings out a black-and-white photo of a solemn little boy, 2 or 3 years old, with Boursicot's square face.

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Shi shows him the photo for a moment but doesn't allow him to keep it. She tells him, with some urgency, to go. They hear shouting outside the door. Terrified, Shi opens the door. Dozens of people rush into the small apartment, yelling and pointing at Boursicot. One man grabs an alarm clock. Boursicot and Shi's mother, in the sitting room, are surrounded. Shi is taken to her bedroom.

An hour later, three men in army uniforms arrive.

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One speaks French. He has been teaching me the changes that have taken place in the great Cultural Revolution under the great leader Mao. The man interprets for his superiors. The officer nods soberly. They talk like this for a while, the crowd watching.

It seems to Boursicot everything may be all right. Then he realizes that Shi is no longer in the house. Boursicot bicycles back to the compound, terrified about what has become of Shi. Weeks pass. When the political climate improves slightly, he goes to her neighborhood on his bicycle a few nights a week with his visored hat low on his head, hoping to spot her.

Even this is dangerous. One evening, Boursicot sees three men following him on their own bicycles. His obsession with Shi grows. Just a glimpse of her will change his life, he thinks. He doesn't have to speak to her. He just needs to know she is safe. Then, one evening in late October, he sees her. She is walking with an elderly woman, heading for a bus stop.

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