A/N: Sorry I took so long with this chapter... well, here it is: )

"Di-Di! Na ge poison zai nali? (1)" Kitty yelled, frantically pulling open the shoe cabinet beside the door. "Aiyoh (2)…" she muttered, grabbing the nearest pair of slippers she could reach. With all her might, she whacked the slipper down onto her victim, shouting a loud "Ha!" in victory.

"Miss Harris?"

Kitty jumped with shock. She stared up through the open doorway, still wielding the shoe, a squashed cockroach now sticking to the sole. "M-Mr Ford! How… um… how nice to see you!" she stammered. "Please… do come in." She pushed aside the mosquito net for him, throwing the slipper – cockroach and all – quickly back into the shoe cabinet.

"I'm sorry if my arrival is unexpected," Mr Ford began.

"Oh, um, don't worry! It's perfectly okay, we always have visitors popping in randomly all of a sudden." She turned around and shouted, "Di-Di! You ke ren (3)! You'd better get dressed properly!"

"Shenme (4)?" Kitty's brother, a rather tall and lanky boy with messy hair, popped his head out from his room, grinning.

"You know what I said." Kitty glared at him. "Put a shirt on, for heaven's sake!" She turned once more to Mr Ford, nervously scratching her ear. "Um… I'll get you a drink," she said quickly. "Take a seat."

She rushed into the kitchen, glad to be out of his sight. She shuddered as she looked down at herself. Why did he have to catch her wearing such short shorts and such an ancient T-shirt? Couldn't he have come at another time, when she wasn't wearing her housework clothes?

From the voices in the living room, Kitty could tell that her brother had joined Mr Ford there. With a groan, she grabbed a glass and held it under the automatic tap, then tipped a packet of Aqua Bon water-cleaning powder into it before leaving the kitchen in a huff. "John! Out! He's my guest!"

John looked hurt. "We were just getting to know each other!" he exclaimed, slouching off.

"Be more mature. Go to your room." She rolled her eyes as she handed Mr Ford the glass and sat down opposite him. "Sorry about him – sometimes even I can't believe he's almost twenty already, the way he behaves!"

Mr Ford chuckled. "He seems nice. He was telling me about his studies in Vietnam."

"Oh, that." Kitty smiled. "He likes to show off." She noticed that she was somehow having the same feeling that she used to get when John – extremely cute and adorable at a young age – turned up at her birthday parties and stole all her friends away. Jealousy, was it? Could it be? Did she actually feel jealous when her brother talked to Mr Ford? Oh Lord. I can't tell Mei Ling that, she thought. She'd have a field day! And I would be ruined

"Are you back for business again?" she asked.

Mr Ford nodded. "Yes," he said, "I have to check that all our reforms are carried out properly, and that workers are well taken care of."

"I'm sorry I wasn't there to see you off when you left… when was it, two months back?"

"It's okay," Mr Ford said. "I was also surprised that I had to leave so quickly." He turned and looked out the window, sighing.

Kitty bit her lip. "I'm… sorry. About your father."

Mr Ford shrugged. "We weren't very close. He's probably happier where he is now." Kitty decided that this was not the time to mention how difficult it was for rich people to get into the Kingdom of God. "At least now I can get all the reforms done properly without being afraid of his opinion. I guess it's better this way, him not knowing." He looked at her. "You… could come with me, if you like," he said slowly, "tomorrow afternoon."

"What, to a factory?"

"Well, yes… and maybe dinner afterwards, since it might get late…"

"Oh… okay. Of course," Kitty replied, without really thinking. "Yes, I'll come."

Mr Ford seemed strangely relieved to have that question over with. "Well, I suppose I have to go. I'll see you tomorrow, then." And he stood up.

Kitty saw him off to the road, trying to hide her confusion at his short visit. When she returned, she found John gawking at her weirdly. "Yes, what is it now?" she asked.

"Is this my jie-jie (5) or are you an impostor?"

"Why should it not be me? Has too much studying addled up your brain?" She grabbed her book from where she had left it last and started going to her room, John close at her heels.

"No, I was just wondering… my sister would never agree to go to a date, you see."

Kitty stopped in her tracks. She turned and stared up at him. "A what?" She could hardly speak with shock. She felt cold all over.

"Didn't you hear yourself just then? You're going to dinner with Mr Ford tomorrow!" John grinned. Then he noticed how pale his sister looked. "What is it? Are you okay?"

Kitty was leaning her head on her hands, frustrated. "How could I?" she cried. "How could I?" She rushed into her room and banged the door shut, ignoring her brother's protestations.

Sighing, she flopped down onto her bed, dropping the book on the floor in the process – something she had never done before. She stared up at the ceiling. Father, what have I done? she prayed. Did I just break my promise? But no… the promise had been about marriage. This was only a date. Maybe it wasn't even one, maybe her brother was just misunderstanding the situation. Probably he was. She hoped he was.

But if she so easily slipped and answered such a question so quickly and unthinkingly, then what would happen if someone proposed to her? Would she also notice only later what she had done?

What should I do, what should I do, what should I do? She hid her face in her hands and stared into the blackness of her closed eyelids. Father, help me… lead me not into temptation…

Han Mu-Shr's study was as messy as ever. Kitty dodged some crumpled sermon drafts on the floor, contemplating the mountains of folders, books and papers everywhere but inside the shelves, which were filled with nothing but dust and some old ornaments. From every direction, pictures of her mother smiled down at her, permanently young and pretty. A lump grew in Kitty's throat. She hadn't known her mother enough. How she wished she could speak to her now, and tell her about her problems. She knew that her mother would understand so much better than her father.

Lily Harris, however gentle in the children's room, however careful in the kitchen, had always been a reckless driver. Kitty still had vague memories of small discussions between her parents over who should drive the children to school on the motor scooter. Her father had always insisted on driving them himself, giving excuses like that he had to see someone in the city anyway or wanted to speak to the teachers himself. But everyone knew that he just didn't trust Lily with anything on wheels, be it even a tricycle. Okay, maybe not that extreme, Kitty thought. But he was proven right after all – not even a year after John was born, she had a nasty accident on the way home from the market.

Kitty didn't even want to think about it. Like all children, she had been very close to her mother, even though she only knew her for such a short time. If Lily were alive right now, Kitty knew she would be able to help her. But for the moment, maybe trusting her father would have to make do – and if that father was no use, she still had another one.

"Papa," she said softly, poking him so that he jumped with shock and misspelled something. "I brought you your tea." She set it down beside his ancient Windows Vista computer, an object so outdated that even the poorest people Kitty met in the community centre wouldn't have it. "Writing another sermon?" she asked, sitting down on the extra chair which used to be her mother's.

"Yes," Han Mu-Shr nodded, reaching automatically for the tea without looking up, while with the other hand he flicked through his Bible, looking for a particular verse to quote.

She watched him in silence for a while, not knowing how to ask her question. Or was it that she just didn't dare ask, for fear of what the answer might be? Thinking that, she immediately wanted to slap herself. She did not like Mr Ford, she had no intention of accepting him if he even asked, so why did she even have to ask in the first place?

Okay, sorry, she said quickly, I lied. Maybe I do like him. A bit. She shifted uncomfortably. FINE! A bit more than that. I don't know… I just…

"Papa," she brought out at last.


Kitty hesitated. She looked over his shoulder to see what he was typing. And she felt immediately cold. His sermon was on a passage in the book of Judges – the part about Jephthah's daughter. Jephthah had made a promise to God to sacrifice the first thing to meet him after coming back from victory – and the first thing he saw was his daughter.

"Um… nothing," Kitty said quickly, and left, feeling slightly dazed, not to mention scared. Are you trying to tell me something, Father? she asked. What should I do? He kept his promise, and it was a much bigger sacrifice than mine will be. But what if Mei Ling is right? What if you don't want me to stay unmarried? How do I even know?

Tell me. Somehow. Please.

"Kitty, are you all right?" Mr Ford asked.

Startled, she looked up from her food. "Huh, what?"

"You seem distracted."

"Oh." She turned back to picking at her food, leaning on her elbow even though she knew it was bad manners. "No, I… I'm fine."

She had been almost silent all morning. Partly it was because she was marvelling at how much Mr Ford had already done to help the poorer people not only of Taiwan, but the whole world. But partly it was also because she was afraid. She was afraid that she would do something wrong, because she didn't know whether she should keep a promise she had probably made too quickly, or whether she should finally admit to herself that as much as she knew Mr Ford, he was a very good person and would be quite a suitable husband…

Maybe she should have asked her father after all… maybe she should have stayed and plucked up the courage to ask, instead of getting panicked and ordering tickets to Namibia. She knew exactly what Mei Ling would say. "Kitty! Were you in your right mind? How can you just pack up and leave all of a sudden? How do you know he even is going to ask you?"

"I guess I just don't have any appetite today," Kitty sighed at last, putting down her fork. "I always lose my appetite before travelling."


"Yes… in two days. Taking a ship to Hong Kong, then changing on direct flight to Namibia. Some mission work."

"Ah…" Did that sound like disappointment in his voice? Kitty hoped she was imagining it. She didn't want to hurt him as much as she was hurting herself.

"I just feel like going to a desert," she said. "I want to get my thoughts collected, be alone for a while, but also still do something for people… I thought it would be good to go somewhere new for once." What if I told him? she wondered all of a sudden. No, she thought. No, I would seem to forthright. And it would be stupid if he's never even intending to marry me…

She was glad that he didn't ask her anymore questions. Or wasn't she? She didn't know herself anymore. How bad was that? Maybe she really was going crazy about this whole matter… so maybe it wasn't that bad after all, to go all the way to Namibia…


She looked up from her packing to see her father standing in the doorway. "Yes, Papa?" She leaned across the suitcase to grab a pile of books – Goodness, she noticed, I haven't been reading enough since this whole stupid business started!

"What is this about?"

"I'm going to Namibia – didn't I tell you yesterday? I'll be working in an orphanage and so that you won't get worried about money matters, I'll try to get a job teaching Chinese to business people."

"Yes, I know. But why are you going all of a sudden?"

"I saw on the mission website that they're looking for help in that orphanage," Kitty said, shrugging. "I just want to see all the opportunities, Papa, don't worry about me! I don't want to be on your hands all your life, you don't get enough pension as is and it's high time I do something on my own – I'm older than John and still hanging around at home!" She pressed a button to enlarge the suitcase, since not all her books would fit in.

Reverend Harris apparently wasn't satisfied with her answers yet, and persisted. "Every time I suggested to you to go do something else, you had an excuse to stay! Why this hurry to leave now of all times?"

With a sigh, Kitty replied, "I don't know… it's just…"

"There's something bothering you; I know." Seeing her face screw up and her eyes go very red, he dug in his pocket to take out an old-fashioned handkerchief, which he handed to her. "Tell me, Kitty, what is it?"

Quickly grabbing the handkerchief, she buried her face in it – she hated it when people saw her cry. Her face always went horribly blotchy when she did, it was so embarrassing…

"Come, tell me." He sat down on the floor beside her, putting his arm protectively around her shoulders. But nothing can protect me from myself, she thought. It's all inside me and I'll never get it out…

She didn't know how long she was sitting there, sniffling into the handkerchief, her father waiting patiently by her side. When the worst of her sobbing attack was over, she crumpled up the handkerchief in her hand, noticing how drenched it was. "Why do you still use these things?" she asked, managing some kind of a half-smile. "The reusable tissues are much better, they never get this wet!"

Han Mu-Shr chuckled. "That's just your old-fashioned father to you."

They sat in silence for another few minutes, Kitty staring silently ahead at a poster on the wall, noticing for the first time that it was slightly squint and that maybe she'd better fix it before she left… She glanced at her father beside her, knowing that now she would have to tell him… somehow… but how?

"I don't know how to say it," she mumbled at last. She sighed, looking at her fingers. Would they never wear a wedding ring? "It's just… I've made a promise, and… I'm not sure if I'll manage to keep it. Or even if I want to keep it anymore… I'm just so confused!"

"Who was it to?" Reverend Harris asked quietly.

Kitty bit her lip. "Papa," she whispered, "do you think God would mind if I broke a promise I made to him?"

"Well…" Her father looked thoughtful for a while. Then he said, "I don't know what kind of promise this was. You don't have to tell me if you don't want me to know. But Kitty, just think about this while you are away: first and foremost, God is still your father, and he just wants you to be happy. He doesn't ask you to do big things for him – he wants you to love him, to obey him and to be happy in him. He also doesn't like to see you sad.

"Just think about it, okay?" He hugged her, ruffling her short brown hair. "And have fun in Namibia! Tell me when I should drive you to the airport." He stood up with a groan, mumbling something about annoying old age, and she managed a small smile.

Maybe, maybe… maybe her life wasn't all too bad after all…

"Good-bye, Kitty!" Mei Ling exclaimed, making a big show of hugging her. "You stupid girl! You could be sitting at home with septuplets by now if you weren't so headstrong!" she whispered so that Han Mu-Shr, who was smiling proudly at his daughter, wouldn't hear.

"Why don't you marry him?" Kitty suggested, poking her in the ribs and giggling.

"I don't think I should marry anyone," Mei Ling replied. "I nag too much!" And they both laughed.

"Bye, jie jie!" John yelled, pouncing at her from behind.

"John! We're in a big international airport! I don't want everyone to know my brother is a lunatic!" she exclaimed, laughing.

"Aw…" He pretended to be sad but since he had always failed in Drama lessons, he didn't do exactly well.

"I'm going to miss you, little Johnnie," she said, standing on tiptoes to pinch his nose like she used to when he was small. He had a Western nose, which was larger than her own Chinese one, and it was such fun poking it. "Do well in your studies. Become a good pastor so Papa can be proud of you." She leaned up to kiss him on the cheek. "Gah, you're too tall! Eat less!" she exclaimed. Then she hurried over to her father.

"I'm going to feel so lonely without you messing up my kitchen drawers," he said.

"What about me? There won't be anything to sort out in that orphanage I'm going to, they have so little! My sense for neatness will kill me! All the sand!"

"You don't know Africa, Kitty," he replied, grinning. "You'll see what it's like – you'll like it. I wouldn't mind if you stayed there, actually. Here, I have some addresses of friends of mine. Knew them in university." He pressed a small address-reciting robot into her hand. "I hope they allow robots in hand luggage."

"Bye, Papa," she just said, "don't worry."

"You're going to miss the flight, you sentimental thing!" Mei Ling said, looking at her watch.

"Don't worry, Mei Ling!" Kitty exclaimed. "These flights are always late."

"Oh really? Then why did the announcement just say 'Last Call'?"

"What, already?" Kitty grabbed her suitcase and gave everyone a last hug.

When she reached Mei Ling, her friend just laughed and said, "It's a joke."

"I know," Kitty replied. "I hope you'll come visit me in Namibia. You should come too! Try and bug your mother into stopping the husband hunt. Tell her African husbands are better."

"Like she'll believe me? Now go!"

Laughing, Kitty hurried over to passport control. She dumped her passport on the counter, trying to keep cool and quiet. Trying not to make herself notice how disappointed she was that Mr Ford hadn't shown up…

If I'm like this, how will I survive a whole year in a continent so far away from him? she wondered. Lord, can't you make me stop? I don't like where my mind is going…

Suddenly, just as she took back her passport and was going to move on, she saw something from the corner of her eye. She turned around. And there he was.

He waved to her. She hesitated, then, slowly, lifted her arm to wave back. He called to her, but she couldn't hear what he was saying. She realised that there was someone behind her impatiently waiting his turn, so she quickly packed away her passport and walked over to the other side. She could still see him.

She didn't know what possessed her. Walking right up to the glass separating her away, she called it out to him. Those words she had believed she would never say to anyone again. Those words that she hadn't believed she would ever say to him.

Thank you, she prayed. Thank you for helping me say it. Then she turned away and hurried past the duty free shops, robots on wheels moving past, offering to carry her suitcase for her or trying to make her buy some automatically opening parachutes (did they really think she was that paranoid?).

Somehow, her heart felt suddenly lighter.

(1) Di-Di! Na ge poison zai nali? – Little brother! Where is that poison?

(2) Aiyoh – exclamation of frustration

(3) You ke ren – We have guests / there's guests

(4) Shenme – what

(5) jie-jie – big sister