Java Head (1934) Script

Oh, I did over 38 years at sea my boy.

38 years.

Yes. At 12, I shipped as a powder monkey aboard an East-Indiaman.

At 33, I had two ships of my own. Of my own!

And I started the firm of Ammidon And Sons.

It's quite true I didn't have a son. Still, I was always an optimist.

And presently, William came along.

With Gerrit a little later to justify the plural.

This house, you know. Java Head.

It was building at the time. The rumour came that Gerrit was on his way.

We had to race to do it in time for the stork to drop him down the chimney.

That's a landlubber's trick to drop a baby down a chimney.

It's an odd name for a house, sir. Java Head.

People thought I was crazy. Crazy! Ha.

Ah, but they'd never sailed out of a hurricane in the Indian Ocean.

And to see the rock of Java Head.

With its promise of calm water in the Sunda Straight.

Ah. That is what the sign on my gatepost has always meant to me.

The promise of a safe and happy ending ..

To a long and stormy run. Eh?

Has Grandfather been giving you the family history?

It has been very interesting.

Excuse me, won't you, sir. Certainly, my boy.

Mother, I think Roger needs some tea.

Did you ever hear such noise?

There has been a tea party every day this week.

We'll have nothing left to talk about.

I've seen them on Clifton Downs.

Gerrit Ammidon and Nettie Vollar?

With no chaperone and a lunch basket.

After all, there is nothing really wrong with Nettie Vollar.

No, but Frank Vollar and her mother were going to be married.

If she hadn't have broken his neck before the wedding.

No-one would have known that they had been a little too much engaged.



Have you seen uncle Gerrit since lunch? No, mother.

Laurel was upstairs helping him to pack.

Oh, Laurel.

You'd better stow the rest of that cake under the hedge.

Laurel, dear.

I said no more cake. But ..

No. Don't speak with your mouth full.

Just run upstairs and tell uncle Gerrit we're waiting for him.

It won't do any good.

He said he was going down to his ship .. Never mind, dear.

And she said that George said ..

You are naughty. I didn't say that at all.

Except that she is blooming and common and I dislike her intensely.

My dear, you're impossible. Absolutely.

Father? Hmm?

Oh .. Gerrit.

Are you having a nice time? Wonderful.

You know, you get your love of social life from me.

Well, Gerrit. Why, William.

I didn't think anything could drag you away from your office in the afternoon.

I can't let our friends think the Ammidon men have no manners at all.

You might pray for me as well, William.

Well, Miss Olive Wyburn. How are you, Olive?

As usual, Gerrit. Oh, that's a pity.

Be careful. I may succumb to your sarcasm.

As easily as others have succumbed to your sympathetic understanding.

Rhoda, dear. I'm so glad you came down.

I'll be back for dinner.

Oh Gerrit, no.

You're sailing tomorrow. I'm giving this party and you're the guest of honour.

A thoughtful guest of honour comes late and leaves early.

Thereby throwing his character and reputation to the beasts in the arena.

And making the thing a howling success. I'll be back for dinner.

Hello, Nettie.

Where did you come from? The back door.

Mother finished the beading on your sister's new dress.

And I brought it round.

Don't say you're running away from the party?

Not if you'll come in.

Just for a minute. Oh Gerrit, I can't.

I wasn't asked.

You don't know your luck.

A zoological chamber of horrors.

Snakes, vultures, spiders.

Hissing and squawking their horrid gossip.

Spiders don't hiss and squawk. Well, weaving a nasty web, say.

This is no laughing matter. People like that make me feel just like a porcupine.

Better to be an ostrich.

Stick your head in the sand and let them gossip.

With all these animals, we'll soon have a Noah's ark.

Well, thank goodness I'm sailing away in my own ark tomorrow.

So the Nautilus is quite ready to go? She's perfect.

That's splendid.

Let's walk up Brandon Hill.

I'd love to.

But grandfather knew I was only coming here.

He doesn't sit with his watch in his hand, does he?

And a bible. Punctuality and Godliness you know.

Was Nettie to go on any other errand?

Beside the Ammidons?

No, father.

You've your own life to live. You're too resigned.

What you need is someone to make you rebel.

A real friend.

Haven't I got one?

I'm going away tomorrow.

But the right sort of chap must be in Bristol somewhere.

I wonder.

You know, I'm just as proud as the people who think I'm beneath them.

And so you should be.

Why, you're as good as anyone in Bristol and better than most.

I've an idea.

I'll send you back a Spanish Don or a French Marquis.

Why not?

Or would you prefer a Brazilian millionaire?

How about a King from the Cannibal Islands?

The very thing. If he doesn't suit ..

You can give him Olive Wyburn for dinner and he'll die of indigestion.

I might even send you a boatload of assorted coloureds, and let you choose.

How do you do, Mr Dunsack. We wait at tea. It's cold.

Go in and boil some water.

Will you come in too, for a minute? Thank you, sir. I would like to.

Your mother is waiting for you.

Excuse me.

I won't ask you to sit down. I have little to say.

But that little, I mean.

I told you your mother is waiting.

Well, Mr Dunsack?

I want you to keep away from Nettie.

May I ask why? Yes.

That you expect me to think you are a fool?

You know.

Because you're a fool, sir. Keeping up a quarrel with my father for 20 years.

It is not for you.

Nor any impious sinner to make light of.

I won't have another mortal sin in this house.

Like her mother's.

I think you've gone mad, sir.

Ah, the defence of a guilty conscience.

If you mean what say, perhaps you'll explain it.

I know your inheritance.

Only today, I've learned how I've been lied to.

How everyone in the city is talking, pointing and laughing at me.

Waiting for Nettie to go the way her mother did.

So that's what they were whispering about.

I heard people talking to Nettie as though they were doing her a favour.

That made me angry.

I found she had no friends.

So I tried to be friendly.

And you think I wanted to hurt her.

What a beautiful world this is.

And what a lovely corner of it.

And what an ornament you are with your bible!

People who can take a wish to be kind and turn it into something filthy.

Thank God for the sea!

What have you done?

We must give thanks to God that he opened my eyes.

To save you from the pursuing sin of your mother's shame.

You don't know what sin is.

I've always taken your word.

It was the laugh of Jezebel I heard just now.

Drawing the neighbours' eyes to my door.

So it is a sin to laugh?

But it is not a sin to be cruel?

You've driven away the only person who's ever been really kind and understanding.

Who's ever given me any hope of finding something happy, beautiful and living.

Oh Lord, judge not too harshly this child of your wrath.

Grant her thy mercy that she may find the way to humility and repentance.

And a healing submission ..

To .. Thy .. Holy .. will.

Bye, Rhoda. Goodbye, Gerrit.

Don't be away too long.

Best of luck, uncle.

Goodbye, William. Goodbye, old man.

Good luck.

Goodbye, Captain Ammidon.

Goodbye, Gerrit.


All clear, for'ard?

Aye-aye, sir .. all clear for'ard.

Goodbye, Tom. Goodbye. Good luck.

My good lass .. goodbye ..

Happy days, Gerrit.

Good luck to you. I say, Gerrit.

If you make Manila, don't forget my cheroots.

I won't, father.

I no speak Portuguese, see.

But I knew a girl here.

A girl I knew here in Lisbon.

[ Portuguese language ]

So you come to Rio De Janeiro. A beautiful city.

With many strange sights.

Very warm, isn't it?

It may be right under our feet.

The whole state of California is solid gold.

I sold everything to get here. I paid $800 from Panama to San Francisco.

You really mean there's gold in California?

Yeah, gold. There had better be gold.

My father is coming in today.

Keep those out of sight.

Put them with the special records. Yes, sir.

He likes to feel he is still in harness.

For there may be some more of those manifests there.

Yes, he does poke about, sir.

I was telling John you might be coming in.



I must be putting on weight. You won't remember you're not 21.

Thank you my dear. Why didn't you drive down?

Oh, damn driving.

Well if I could hoist to sail on the Barouche now.

Well, and how's the little lady?

I may be little but I'm no lady.

I'm the Bosun.

And I'll stand no guff from the crew. Laurel.

Yes, father.

I think I'll go with John.

I do wish you wouldn't encourage Laurel in that sort of sea-talk.

Oh, better than prunes and prisms.

Don't look down on the sea, William. It made us.

I know father, but now we are on land.

Don't I realise it every time I look at you. A landlubber from stem to stern.

Now Gerrit always had a nautical itch.

Even in his cradle.

A year.

And five days.

He didn't plan so long a voyage.

Gerrit would have been home and away again.

If the Nautilus had been a clipper.

Instead of an old-fashioned, fat-bottomed, slow-moving ..

What? Now listen, father.

Listen? While you insult the finest ship afloat?

Fat-bottomed, indeed.

She's brought us home a million pounds worth of cargo with her fat bottom.

And lost us another million for lack of speed.

Clipper ships. You can't build a boat in the shape of a jack-knife.

They're so fast they're called greyhounds of the sea.

Are they? Well for all kinds of weather, give me a good, solid St Bernard.

But in the future, success must depend on speed.

Here is Gerrit dawdling about picking up a cargo here and selling it again there.

These clipper ships run on a schedule. Schedule.

Ninety days out of Canton with single cargoes of tea.

They're making fortunes. Well, let them. No sir .. no sir.

The Ammidon flag has always been hoisted on fine, tall full-beamed sailing ships.

And that's the way it's going to stay.

As long as I'm the head of the line. Ha.

Morning, Dingwall. How are the twins?

Well sir, they're doing well. Glad to hear it.

Glad something is doing well.

Here, look here. They've left out the hedge-combings.

Left them out. On the repair to the Eastern Queen.

If I didn't come down here once in a while.

You'd forget you had any ships at all and go in for balloons.

Father, here's Nettie.

Well, Nettie.

How are you, Captain Ammidon? Oh, still afloat.

As I've just been telling William.

How are you, Nettie? Well, thank you.

I wouldn't have walked in like this only .. Laurel ..

It's quite alright. Won't you sit down?

Yes. Thank you.

I only wanted to ask if you had had any news of the Nautilus.

No. Not yet.

I just wondered. You see ..

My uncle Edward has come home and .. Oh yes, from London I believe.


He landed there from China a month ago.

He saw Gerrit in Shanghai.

In fact, Gerrit sailed before he did.

But the Nautilus couldn't be that much overdue.

Are you sure?

Uncle Edward had a chest of goods for Bristol.

Gerrit carried it for him.

Captain Ammidon! Father.

Grandfather! Oh, I'm alright.

I'm alright. Can I get you a doctor?

No thank you, my dear. I'm alright. I just felt a bit ..


Perhaps I'd better wear glasses.

Father won't do what he's told. He won't take care of himself.

Now you'll go straight home and lie down. I'll send for the carriage.

I shall go home when I please.

And on my feet.

Anyone would think I was an old hulk, who's never going to sail again.

You frighten me, father.

I'm sorry, William.

Sorry .. but you needn't worry.

Any more than I need worry.

Just because Gerrit is a week or two late.

Of course not.

It was stupid of me. No. Nonsense, nonsense.

How is your grandfather?

He's been very ill. Ill?

And I didn't hear?

Oh, you know. Barzil and I are a couple of darned fools.

Can you imagine two old shipmates not speaking to each other for 20 years?

Bilge, that's what it is. Bilge. And I ..

I'm hanged if I don't put a stop to it. Now.

If only you could.

I'll meet the old scoundrel half way, by the jib.

Father, you're not going to Mr Dunsack's now?

It's just where I am going. Come along Nettie. Come on, Bosun.

Now look here. Save your breath, William.

When I make sail .. I go.

Come on.

Slack away for'ard.

Uncle Edward.

Captain Ammidon. This is a pleasant surprise.

Glad to see you back in Bristol.

I'll tell grandfather. Thank you.

Well, Bosun. Say how do you do to Mr Dunsack.

How do you do, Mr Dunsack.

I don't think you do very well.

Well that's too bad. A very frank young person.

Bad associations I'm afraid.

Been ill? You're as pale as a Chinaman.

I'm always well. And it flatters me to think that I resemble a Chinese.

I have the greatest admiration for the yellow race.

Hmm, they have their points.

The Chinese philosophies and refinements.

Their mental courage and knowledge of beauty are ..

It gives me nostalgia for them in this land of horsehair and underdone mutton.

But you didn't stay in China. I felt that my father needed me here.

I didn't know you and he were friends again.

We're not.

But we're going to be or I'll break his blasted neck.

You saw Gerrit in Shanghai?

Once. The day before he sailed.

I have a valuable chest aboard the Nautilus.

I hope it's safe.

Well now, that's nice of you, Edward.

So do I.

Captain Ammidon.

Grandfather is surprised. I think he's pleased. Will you come up?

Oh, I'll find a way up, thank you very much. If you look after Laurel.

Thank you, my dear.

Take this penetrating young person away. Give her a piece of cake or something.

Come along, Laurel. Let's see what we can find.

Well, Barzil.

You have been amongst the rocks, haven't you.

I'm glad you're afloat again.

Hard to kill, our kind.


Oak ribs and copper bound, eh?

We'll last a long time yet.

Won't we?

Thank you for seeing me, but ..

But you won't speak.

Is that it?

Oh come, come, come here.

Here am I like a dove with a blistering olive-branch in my hand.

And you glare as though I were a Malay pirate trying to board you.

Come on now.

Remember that Malay Proa hanging off our quarter by Formosa?

We trained the cannon aft and fired a shot and she sheared off.

Yes. Yes, too bad. We had some fun that time.

Eighteen hundred and one. In the Flora.

We made Oahu that year .. remember?

I wonder if the Kanaka girls still swim out to the ships?

With those hibiscus flowers in their hair.

You laughed at me because I turned to the Lord, when your eyes were on women.

Are you sure you didn't look over your shoulder, Barzil?

No, no. I didn't mean that.

Gerrit. In the Nautilus.

Is overdue.

Thou shalt have no other God.

Did you hear what I said? I'm worried over Gerrit.

The axe of God shall cut down the evil tree to cast it aside.

Lest it cast a blighting shade on the fruit of repentance.

What do you mean?

Are you calling my son evil? I sent him away.

His friendship with Nettie could only have ended in shame.

So Gerrit .. my son ..?

You mean to say that .. Naked Kanaka girls.

With flowers in their hair.

Oh, you're an evil-minded old fool, Barzil.

If Gerrit liked Nettie and she liked him ..

You've driven off a cursed-good husband. That's what you've done.

And if you think I object because Frank Vollar died instead of getting married.

Why, you've gone right out of your silly old head.

He who condones a sin, confesses himself as a sinner.

Well, I don't set myself up a judge.

But of course, no-one has told you should condone a sin.

But how about a little forgiveness?

Gerrit and Nettie must bear their burden.

As I bear mine. You are in the dark ages.

You have bad luck, don't you?

Well, I don't wonder with your religion.

I wouldn't give a word for a creator who didn't blow in your eye.

You were always a scoffer, a blasphemer.

You haven't changed. No, neither have you.

You're a fanatical, psalm singing, old devil-dodger.

That's what you are. A disgrace to the sea that we sailed.


Hey, Captain.

Hey, Captain. Eh?

You have forgotten me.


What's the matter?

Didn't you like old Mr Dunsack? Like him?

Do I like dirty, slimy poisonous toads?

He's a derelict, that's what he is. A derelict.

A dirty, dangerous menace.

To every bit of good shipping that comes in his way.

And I'm hanged if I'll ever give him a hail again.

Not so long as ever I live .. no, sir.

No, sir. Not even for the love of the cock-eyed mermaid of China.

Look, Captain.

I tell you there is more religion in your little finger ..

Than in the whole of that man's body. A flag!

A flag! Where?

On the Ammidon building.

A big one on top and a small one underneath.

An "N" for Nautilus!

They've sighted the Nautilus and your uncle Gerrit is coming home.

Stand by your heaving lines for'ard.

Stand by your heaving lines for'ard.


Don't blame this hat on me Uncle Gerrit. Mother made me wear it.


Hello Hilda. Hello!


I'll be ashore in a minute.

Haul in, for'ard.

Hello to Gerrit. Hi.

Well .. Captain Ammidon. Captain yourself, sir.

Rhoda, my dear.

Nettie, you look lovely.

And Laurel.

Hasn't she grown?

John, hello. How are you, sir?

Mr Brevard, trim as ever I see.

You wait and see what we have for dinner.

Oh, I can't wait. I made for Manila for your cheroots, sir.

I thought I'd make a run for Shanghai and then I run into a gale off The Cape.

Bad luck. We worried about you.

Oh, nonsense.

Well, I must take the ship's manifest to the collective.

And then to Java Head and that dinner.


Well, don't be long, Gerrit. Rhoda.

You might send me back the closed Barouche in an hour, will you?

Of course. Well, I won't be long.

Oh, it's good to see you.

Tom. Look.

Welcome home, Captain Ammidon. How are you, Edward?

Oh, it's pleasant to see you, Nettie.

You were so long overdue.

Everyone's happy to see you back safely. I'm glad to be back.

It's nice to find you looking so well.

That chest of yours comes after my personal belongings.

More than kind of you. Oh don't mention it.

Well, I've still got a great deal to do, so you will excuse me, won't you.

And I'll be back in a moment, Nettie.

Have you a chest for me, Mr Dunsack? It came with Captain Ammidon's belongings.

Yes, Mr Dunsack. Here.

Alright, mate.

Give us a hand with it, will you? Right you are.

Ha-ha .. no need to tell me they ran into a gale.

Why the foresail and yardarm had been carried away and rigged again at sea.

Gerrit hates to take in sail.

And to haul in the jib is like pulling out a tooth.

It is odd that he should want the Barouche.

Laurel, dear .. do sit down.

Still worrying about the cargo, William?

I certainly hope it's a good one. I would welcome the Nautilus empty.

Can't I think about the cargo and be glad to see Gerrit?

Really father, I'm not inhuman.

This is Taou Yuen. My wife.

My father.

I am humbled before this honour.

God bless my soul.

This is my brother, William.

She was to have shaken hands. We rehearsed it on board ship.

But apparently, it wasn't respectable enough.

This is my sister-in-law, Rhoda.

And my nieces, Crystal.

And Laurel.

I greet you with greatest happiness.

Apparently, I must welcome you for Gerrit's family.

I am most grateful before your goodness.

You will want to go to your room.

But it .. isn't arranged for two.

At the moment.

But I will attend to that at once.

Thank you, Rhoda.

Crystal, take Laurel in to the garden and pick some flowers.

For your uncle Gerrit's wife.

Excuse me.

Will you come with me?

Thank you so much, Rhoda.

It's incredible, Gerrit.


I can't pretend anything else.

You are surprised, of course.

But you can take my word for it. It's a matter for congratulations, not horror.

I'm sorry there was no way to let you know before, father.

What did you say her name was?

Taou Yuen. It means Peach Garden.

Taou .. Yuen .. Ammidon?

Oh, it doesn't sound right my boy. The two won't go together.

They have.

You needn't have brought her here. You should think of Rhoda and the children.

I consider it an honour to know my wife.

And if it's birth and breeding you worry about, her father was a Manchu Prince.

That makes it more incredible, still.

How were you married? Legally.

Oh? With a bowl of tea? And a beating of a gong?

Does that mean less than putting on a ring?

Don't doubt my marriage, William. I won't allow it.

Who cares what you won't or will allow?

You know how people will think and talk? Let them.

They'll have a thing to talk about. You can't make my family share it.

That's enough, William.

Shouting won't help things now. But father ..

My decks are awash, quite as much as yours.

But I'm not sending up any rockets about it.

You know you raised a bit of a blow with your surprise, Gerrit.

But I think if we all reef sail and wait.

We'll run into pleasant weather alright.

I don't want to force Taou Yuen on you or anyone else, father.

We'll go on to London tomorrow.

Don't be a damned fool.

You will stay here, where you belong.

And you had better tell the cook what your wife would like for dinner.

Where the devil is my bottle of rum?

Thanks, Mr Jones.

Though it's not greens we be wanting now.

But birds' nests.

Because Master Gerrit has brought home a Chinese wife.

A Chinese? A heathen!

With fingernails .. like that!

Think of that, Mr Gimply.

Young Captain Ammidon has married a heathen Chinese.

A Chinese?

From China?

Believe it or not, Mr Binks.

A Chinese girl from China.

I got it just this minute. From the butcher.

What I say is, what have they got in China that we ain't got here?

I say everyone to their taste.

But can you imagine marrying a Chinese girl?

A Chinese girl.

What's that for? For what you're thinking.

It's the gospel truth, Mr Dunsack.

Captain Gerrit Ammidon has brought home a Chinese wife.

Are you sure? Sure.

Quite sure.

But I've heard it from a dozen people.

It's silly gossip.

I'm telling you Gerrit Ammidon has married a Chinese wife.

I don't believe it.

The marriage may be open to doubt, but he has brought a Chinese girl home.

The great Gerrit Ammidon playing a fool with a yellow girl from the tea house.


In China, a foreigner never meets any other kind.

Gerrit couldn't marry a Chinese girl.

Why not?

Is it so very important to you?

Not now. It might have been if grandfather hadn't interfered.

He said some dreadful things. Of course, Gerrit was disgusted.

Well, of course. No-one should dare to criticize an Ammidon.

Well, how the mighty have fallen.

But, can you imagine ..

I don't want to talk about it. I don't care!

We're developing quite a ceremony.

It does not please you? Of course it does.

Only it should be this way.

You give me too much honour. It is I who should honour you.

Our own special ceremony of greeting as you taught me.

I'm afraid there wasn't much ceremony in the way my family greeted you.

They were surprised. It was to be expected.

It made them stupid.

Such a thing could never happen to you.

I'll learn to be like you one day.

You .. learn from me?

A sailor long on an even keel. Perfectly balanced.

In any kind of weather.

I hope you like this room.

It's been mine ever since I was a small boy.

It is like you. Honest.

So it is beautiful.

I'll get you a day bed and your wicker pillow is coming up from the ship.

English women do their hair every day you know.

They go about with bare faces, too.

Is that not quite modest?

No paint, you mean? No, you won't see any of that.

It's considered indecent.

Funny, isn't it? Where with you, it's just the opposite.

It is life.

What seemed wise yesterday might seem foolish tomorrow.

Now that we are here, you do not regret it?

Do you?

Don't talk nonsense, or think it.

And you believe that I came because I love you?

That I did not just wish to be free?

Like a bad woman who gives herself for a price.

You are beyond price.

You must remember that I have brought an evil spirit to harm others that I love.

What is this, a catechism?

I must be sure.

Unless I make you happy, I have no right to live.

I can't remember an evil spirit because there is no such thing.

I thought we'd agreed on that.

The only spirits we have in England are in bottles, and they're all very good.

That's supposed to be a joke, you know.

Then I will laugh like a dutiful wife.

And afterwards you can explain it to me.

I suppose you will be spending your morning down at the boat.

Oh, you prefer not to have me at church? Don't be absurd.

I think it would be nice if we went with you this morning.

We are going to church, not a circus.

I hope you're not thinking of bringing your wife ..

In that outrageous costume to St Mary with the family?

I am, my dear William.

And if you don't like it, you'd better stay at home.

Please come in.

Good morning.

Good morning to you.

I brought your hot water because maid has her lumbago again.

That's very kind of you. I thank you so much.

Do you mind if I stay a few moments?

Not at all.

No, dear.

I must show my respect for your God.

But I cannot shake his hand. He'll understand.

I became also, a reproach unto them.

When they looked upon me, they shake their heads.

Help me oh Lord, my God.

Who saved me according to thy mercy.

I'm glad to see you, Gerrit.

I prayed many times for your safe return.

Thank you, Tom. I'm sure that helped us.

Canon Parker - my wife.

I'm pleased that your first visit in Bristol was to God's house.

I welcome you. I am humbly grateful.

Is your wife a Christian, Gerrit?

Almost, sir. She follows the teachings of Confucius.

Ah. I have studied Confucius's five philosophies.

It will give me great pleasure to call and discuss them, Mrs Ammidon.

I would be very happy.

Why not make it this afternoon, sir? Tea and Confucius.

I shall be delighted. That's splendid.

Nettie, I'm worried about your uncle Edward.

Why doesn't he do something to help father?

He should know about the shipping business.

He had a very good position in Shanghai.

I don't believe he left it as he says. I think he lost it.

Well, there is something wrong.

All he can talk of now, is Gerrit Ammidon's Chinese wife.

I was a fool. I should have known the incredible Ammidon luck.

She's a Manchu. A Princess.

All the beauty and culture of 2,000 years ..

Of civilisation flowered in one woman.

Everything the Dunsack's touch turns to ugliness and failure.

Beauty and success are offered to the Ammidons on a golden platter.

We might be sure of keeping a roof over our heads.

If only you would think about our business.

Instead of envying the Ammidons and complaining about your bad luck.

You said Gerrit liked you.

Does it matter now?

If he liked you enough before, he'll like you as much again. He's that sort.

One idea, one affection. Is all his head will hold.

He loves her. Or he wouldn't have married her.

You think I'm crazy, don't you?

Gerrit's marriage won't last.

He and this Manchu Princess are as far apart as the poles.

The Ammidons will be at home this afternoon, and I'm going to call.

If you're wise, you'll put on your prettiest frock and come with me.

After the way you've talked ..

Aren't you ashamed of going where you know you won't be welcomed?

Utterly ashamed. But I intend to overcome it.

These blasted boots.

Most charming. Very different from the European.

Yes. Very nice. Very nice indeed.

That was the Lotus song, wasn't it? One of them.

We have many songs about the Lotus.

Mr Edward Dunsack is calling.

Show him in.

Mrs Ammidon.

How do you do, Mr Dunsack. How do you do.

How are you, sir?

Better tempered than when I saw you last.

My visit is unceremonious, I'm afraid.

I wanted to thank you properly for bringing in that merchandise of mine.

Please don't, or I shall begin to think I really have done you a favour.

The Canon Parker.

I was pleased to see you in church, Edward.

Your sermon was very beautiful, sir.

Mr Edward Dunsack - my wife.

[ Chinese language ]

My wife always prefers to speak English. As you wish.

Come in to the garden.

English is so crude and I so reverence your wonderful country.

You are most kind.

I heard your music just now.

It made me homesick for China.

Please play again.

I have played all that I know.

Taou Yuen. Thank you.

Tea, Mr Dunsack? No thank you.

When one has drunk tea as it is prepared in China ..

All others seem flavourless.

I did not hear what you said.

I mean that my tastes are far more Chinese than they are English.

It takes knowledge to appreciate the full fascination of China.

It must seem strange to be married to a man ..

Who doesn't know the eight diagrams of Confucius.

And cannot see the Buddhist soul ..

Devolving perpetually in the urn of fate.

As I can.

Goodbye, Captain. Come again soon, Canon.

Goodbye, William. Goodbye, sir.

We'll see you to the door. Thank you.

Come on, William. Yes, father.

Canon Parker is going. It was nice of you to have called.

It's been a privilege.

I shall dream of this afternoon.

I'm sorry you were bored and annoyed.

But there was nothing I could do without making a row.

It doesn't matter.

I saw at once that his mind was ill.

China is bad for men like him.

Mother dear, I would like to see the celebrations. Wouldn't you?

Can't we go? I don't see how, Nettie.

But it's the Queen's birthday.

Nobody else stays at home.

Oh, please.

You know there is no use asking.

Oh mother, darling.

What is it now?

The same things only worse. Debts.

Father prays that Edward might see the light while the business goes to pieces.

In the last few days I've given up hope that things will ever be any better.

Why not just try to forget them?

Do come. We'll have such fun.

No. Grandfather would want me for something.

He'd only get upset and be ill again.

Ill? Because you've had a little pleasure for once?

I've taken all I can of that sort of thing.

I'm going. Nettie.

I'm past being shut up in this house. I'm young. I'm going to enjoy myself.

I'll hear the bands and see the parades and watch the games.

I'll stay all day whether grandfather likes it or not.

Haven't you got a squeaker? Take one of mine, I've got two.

Oh, thank you.

Why, Nettie. Hello, Nettie.

Good evening, Nettie.

Who are you with? No-one. Mother wouldn't come.

I've been here all day.

Hasn't it been glorious.

You're very pretty, Nettie. I think you'll get a beau. Crystal has.

I wish you'd hold your tongue. No. Crystal has!

You shouldn't be alone in all this crowd.

It's getting late. I don't mind.

Why don't you come back with us and see the fireworks from Java Head?

Yes, Nettie. Why don't you.

Yes, come on, Nettie. Come on.

Come on, my dear.

Are you quite comfortable there, Nettie? Yes, quite. Thank you.

I remember the fireworks from last year.

They wouldn't go off. It was raining, silly.

Yes, it rained cats and dogs.

All the time after uncle Gerrit went away. Remember?

Oh, do you think Taou Yuen would like to come down, Gerrit?

She said she was tired. She can see quite well from her window.

Fireworks are everyday affairs in China, you know.

Do you know something?

Uncle Gerrit's wife doesn't like rice.

And she says she's never eaten a bird's nest.

Does your uncle Edward? Laurel, dear.

Well, grandfather say he looks like a Chinese.

I'm the only little girl in Bristol with a Chinese aunt.

Quiet, Laurel.

I think that's the last. Is that all?

Now I shall have to go to bed.

I must go now. It's been lovely. Thank you.

It's been pleasant to have you, Nettie.

Now we must see you safely home. I'll just go. I'll be alright.

No, no. It's too late. Thomas will drive you home.

Please, I must keep it a secret. I'll walk down with Nettie.

Oh, very well.

Goodnight, Miss Ammidon. Goodnight.

Goodnight, Crystal.


Here we are. Yes.

It's not a very long walk, is it.

I didn't say a thing that I wanted to say.

Are things any better?

They might have been, if uncle Edward hadn't come home.

He's in a terrible state. I suspected as much.

I hoped it wasn't true.

I'm so sorry for him.

Of course he can't help himself now.

We found out the day he went to Java Head.

I called in for dinner.

He didn't answer.

He had forgotten to lock his door.

I went in.

Grandfather knew what it was the moment he saw him.

It was horrible.

Now we know why he lost his position in Shanghai.

Is he going away again?

If there is any chance for him at all, it's here.

We may be able to help him.

If only he would stop thinking of .. China.

It would put his mind on trying to straighten out the business.

While there is any business left.

As bad as that?

The Dunsack Line has just two ships.

They'll probably be taken from us.

We'll see that they're not.

You and I will put things back on their feet.

Now don't argue. I won't listen.

Your grandfather need never know that I'm meddling in his affairs.

But I couldn't .. I'll find a way to work things out.

And you will have to obey orders.

No, Gerrit.

You've got to be safe and secure.

No other consideration matters.

What a silly day.

Trailing about watching parades and fireworks.

Crowds always make me feel down somehow.

You are tired.

Just a bit.

I'm afraid I'm too material to ever achieve your detachment.

The sea gives me confidence in life, and I the land destroy it.

I do not understand.

Perhaps I don't myself.

Probably just nonsense.

To be sad without reason shows the presence of an evil spirit.

You will have your evil spirits, won't you.

By the way, what did you do this morning?

You burned some coloured paper in a teacup.

Your father said there would be a storm.

I made the figure of the sun look black and red and drank its ashes in my tea.

The day has been fine.

I must admit it has.

I need to hurry the work on the Nautilus to leave here by the beginning of June.

It is right for you to go. That is your life.

I've got you to think about. Your life is my life.

You can't spend it cooped up in a ship's cabin.

I will wait here for you.

This is my home now.

This will never be your home. I should have known that.

Our English life will always seem impossible to you.

I know what courage it takes for you to meet all kinds of people.

And go about as only a common woman would in China.

I came willingly.

Knowing that I could never go back.


You must not think of me. I can't help it.

You are so different from everything here.

I feel like a clumsy fool.

Who's stolen a priceless lacquered vase.

And expect it to serve as a beer mug.

But why not?

As long as you do not drop and break it.

There's no danger of that.

I apologise for being so dull.

I ran into a land fog just now.

And you know how any kind of fog affects a sailor.

We're giving money away by being old fashioned.

Half a dozen firms are turning over a thousand percent profits in contraband.

Well, let them. Let them.

I'm as fond of money as any man.

But not when it's dirty money.

No sir. The Ammidon ships will not carry cargoes of misery to any country.

No need to shout, father.

Well then, don't suggest disgracing the Ammidon flag.

He is right about the Clippers, father.

I'm afraid they've come to stay.

Money. Money.

And you haven't heard the worst.

He wants us to leave sail, and go into steam.


With floating palaces and whatnot.

A landlubber who couldn't cross the Bristol Channel without being sick.

Sits in his office and wants to tell us sailors what's what on the sea.

Very well.

I thought it would be useless to argue you into any common business sense.

So I've made arrangements to force you into it.

A month ago I placed orders for four clipper ships and two steam packets.

That's high handed of you, William.

I intend to keep Ammidon and Sons at the top.

In spite of your independence and father's childish prejudice.

You forget you're not the only one.

Wait, wait. No use back-chatting.

If it's done, it's done.

I've got the papers and the estimates at my office.

If you care to come down, I'll be glad to go over them with you.

Well I must say you've got the courage of your convictions, William.

And I respect you for it.

I'll walk down with Gerrit. We'll look at the plans.

And I bet I'll find some mistakes in them, too.

Must you go into every detail, father? It will take all of summer at this rate.

Yes. And most of the winter too, if you don't heave to and give me right of way.

I'm slow, but I'll get there.

Remember William. If it hadn't been for father ..

There would be no business to fuss about and fiddle with.

Well I don't call four clipper ships and two steam packets exactly fiddling.

I'm not forgetful of anything I owe you, father.

Well then, pipe down.

Pipe down for the love of the cock-eyed mermaid of China.

If I am going into steam.

I want to know about steam.

Yes. Uncommonly expensive it looks, too.

I admit it is a big thing. It will cut sharply into our funds.

One hundred and fifty thousand pounds probably.

But we've got it.

Hello there, my lad.

If you'll be patient and trust me, say for a year.

I'll show you astonishing returns.

Look here, father. Here's an old shipmate of ours.

I'm sorry. I don't know this manifest got there.

What is it, father?

I didn't think either of you need ever know.

We've been in the opium trade for two years.

Three schooners running into Amoy.

You rotten .. Don't complain. You share the profits.

I don't like that kind of profit. You're not onboard ships now, Gerrit.

Father .. father!



God forgive me.

How long are you going to keep up this attitude, Gerrit?


This silent inference that I killed father.

It is what you think, isn't it?

I know that you sacrificed him to your commercial grasping.

I can never forget it.

And I can never forgive you.

You won't believe how much I reproach myself.

I can't.

That's true.

I was fonder of father than I ever took time to know.

Then you wasted your time.

Don't be a hypocrite, William.

You knew how he felt, and yet you risked what happened.

One day of his life was worth more than a million pounds from any rotten trade.

Father was never fair to me.

He was contemptuous of me because I didn't care for the sea.

You were always perfect.

Yet I am just as useful a citizen as you.

For all your noble sentiments. You can do as you please now.

Without my interference or father's decency and principles to hold you back.

You are still a member of the firm. I'm resigning.

I'll take the Nautilus and the rest of my share in cash.

You can exclude the profits of your contraband trade from that.

You are welcome to them.

I wish you joy.

[ Chinese language ]

[ Chinese language ]

Please, how long are you going to kneel there? And what are those silly clothes?

It is my mourning. According to the law.

It is to honour the spirit of you father.

Can't you do it in a less barbaric way?

I mean .. father had no patience with forms and conventions.

Your colours and flowers, and what he called those Manchu doodads, amused him.

You wish me to break the law?

I think we can remember and respect father.

Without making a gloomy ceremony of it.

I heard the doorbell ring as I came upstairs.

I suppose .. whoever it is, I ought to go down and see them.

He must have suffered terribly.

We didn't realize.

Dear Gerrit, I .. I know just how you feel.

Thank you very much, Mrs Vollar.

I was terribly unjust to your father.

I shut my heart against his humanity and kindness.

I reproach myself bitterly.

I understand.

I'm sorry, dearest. So very sorry.

Words don't seem to mean much.

They do sometimes.

Our plot is all arranged.

Clarke and Company are going to buy into the Dunsack firm as partners.

That will give money for a complete reorganization with Clarke as adviser.

But .. won't grandfather suspect that you are behind all this?

He must think that it's your idea.

You went to Clarke with the suggestion and persuaded him.

You know where Clarke's offices are in King Street?

Go there tomorrow afternoon. I'll see that you're expected.

Nettie, we must go now.

Goodbye, Gerrit. Goodbye, Mrs Vollar.

Goodbye, Gerrit. Goodbye, Nettie.

Goodbye, Gerrit. Goodbye, sir.

I won't be a moment. If you don't mind? Of course not.

Crystal, do come and sit beside me. Thank you, I will.


Stop those horses!

The horses! Stop them .. stop them!

Get out the way!


Let me jump out.

Jump out. Jump out!

Stop, I say! Stop!

It was not our destiny to be hurt.

But for another, it was written.

The horses struck the woman, I'm sure.

We must find out about it. I've sent Thomas to make enquiries.

And I think that you both should rest.

I go about criticising life.

But I'm afraid I'll never learn your contempt for death.

I have changed.

Today, for the first time I saw death.

Not as a happy gateway to my ancestors.

But as a door that would shut me away.

From you.

I beg your pardon.

Forgive this intrusion, madam. I am happy to see that you are safe.

Nettie wasn't so fortunate. Nettie?

Your horses hit her down. Is she badly hurt?

She was brought home unconscious. Her first words were to ask for you.

I thought it my duty. I'll go at once.

An old friend.

Nettie is my niece.

I regret my indiscretion in breaking the news so baldly.

You wonder why Nettie should send for Gerrit, what made him to go like that.

There is nothing you need to tell me.

How superior your civilisation is to ours.

A Bristol wife would have asked questions and probably fainted.

But what you understand at once, and with such philosophy.

I understand you, at least.

Then you know what you mean to me.

You are the embodiment of all I thought I'd lost.

All the beauty.

The inspiration of China.

Your compliments do not interest me.

But it is the truth. I worship you.

No-one, not even Gerrit has my power to realise your perfection.

Even madness cannot excuse such talk.

Why be trivial in the pretence that I've shocked you?

It didn't horrify you to see your husband go to the woman he loved?

You could even share him with her, so long as he shared himself with you.

Gerrit once loved your niece. It is over.

Perhaps it's only begun?

You will go, please.

Not without the complete understanding that it is our destiny.

Dreams .. you've destroyed your mind with poison.

It is not a dream that my father's business has been saved by a miracle.

Destiny has begun to provide for our future together.

You will force me to call the servants.

Then my husband will hear. And that will not be well for you.

Not even Gerrit. Nothing can keep you from me now. I know.

Oh .. aunt Taou Yuen.

I thought you would be alone.

Do I look like you?

[ Door knocks ]

Come in.


Nettie. Are you alright? Gerrit.

I can't tell you how sorry I am.

Thank you, Gerrit.

It's splendid to be so brave.

But you must look after yourself.

Are you sure you have everything you need?

Even .. something to help the pain.

Uncle Edward gave them to me.

How often are you taking these?

Oh, one about every three hours .. why?

You must be careful.

Too many might be poison.

I won't take any more.

Surely there is something I can do?

Nothing, Gerrit.

Thank you for coming to see me so soon. Nonsense.

I'd have come the moment I heard.

Even without your message.

I didn't send you a message.

Edward told me you asked to see me.

That's strange.

But I'm glad you're here.

Well .. it doesn't matter.

The chief thing is I've seen you and ..

I know you're going to be alright. I am.

So is grandfather, Gerrit. Everything.

Thanks to you. I'm glad.

You make saying goodbye a more cheerful business.

I suppose ..

You must be sailing soon.

As soon as I can make it.

It's going to be for good this time.

I've taken myself and the Nautilus out of the business.

I'm going to make my headquarters somewhere in the East.

Since father has gone, everything has changed.

Nothing seems to hold me here anymore.

I always was at odds with Bristol .. so ..

It is better.

I'll miss you, Gerrit. I'll miss you, Nettie.

Well .. goodbye.

It sounds stupid doesn't it, when it's for always?

But it's about all one can say, unless perhaps ..

Good luck.

Good luck, Gerrit.

And don't forget.

That we've been friends.

I love you, Nettie.

Oh my dear.

I love you too much.

That's why I'm not coming back.

I can't go on seeing you without wanting you more than everything in the world.

Well, there it is.

I've found the one thing that could be perfect.

And it's too late.

Mine isn't like any other marriage. It's a life I'm responsible for.

Well, at least I've told you.

And kissed you.

And held you.

In all my life I'll be grateful that you've given me that to remember.

Goodbye, Nettie.

It was thoughtless of me to rush away and leave you with Edward Dunsack.

I hope she is not badly hurt.

Not dangerously. I am glad.

Nettie ..? Nettie Vollar.

You must think about packing soon.

When are we leaving? In about a week, I hope.

Of course there is business to be attended to, as well as the ship.

Did Edward stay long? No.

Laurel came in. She looked very funny, dressed in Chinese.

Since then, I've been reading. Though I know this book by heart.

Like many old Manchu stories, the hero had two wives.

That is against your law?

Of course.

In China, as this book tells, a man can love two women equally.

He can be kind and just to both.

Never hurting one for the other.

That would not be possible in England?

To love two women? An Englishman?

It depends what kind of love you mean.

I mean a real love. A love as long as life, and stronger.

An Englishman could not love two women that way?

Perhaps for a moment, but ..

One love would die.

And the other grow stronger.

We English are very single-minded, you know.

I feel I should get down to the Nautilus.

I don't think I'll be late.

But if I am, tell Rhoda not to wait for dinner.

I am Mrs Gerrit Ammidon.

I have come to ask for Miss Nettie Vollar.

I am her mother. Your daughter is better?

A little .. but she's still in pain.

I am sorry.

I had hoped she might be able to see me for a moment.

I'm sure she'd like to. Will you come up?


There is someone to see you.

Gerrit's wife.

Won't you come in?

Won't you sit down.

Perhaps you would like a cup of tea? I thought of getting some for Nettie.

If you'll excuse me. Thank you.

I ask your pardon for having forced myself upon you.

It seemed .. necessary.

Since you and my husband love each other.

Did .. he tell you that?

Not intentionally.

It's true.

But it needn't matter to you.

He'll never leave you .. he said so.

And you are resigned ..?

It has happened like this.

It can't be changed.

You poor child.

For you have no hope .. no hope.

What can life be if one is always lonely?

With no hope of happiness.

I would not wish to live so.

Do you?

The room is filled with the perfume of poison.

To sleep.

And not to wake again.

To escape from all pain.

Who could say that it was longed for?

Only a mistake.

What I do with my life now.

Is for me to decide.

You'd better go.

We've nothing to say.

You can't help me.

And I can't hurt you.

You must believe that.

I do, today.

Then .. that's all.

But there is tomorrow. And there will be other days. l fear then, for my husband.

He may shut his mind to you, but his heart will want you.

He will think of you here alone, wanting him.

That thought will be like a knife to cut through his soul.

So that an evil spirit can enter in, and teach him to hate me.

So long as you are here.

He will be in danger.