Ruth Harkness: the Lady and the Panda Essay

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Ruth Harkness: The Lady And The Panda

My husband, Bill and I were opposites, but we fit perfectly. I had been with Bill for ten years and could not believe the love of my life was gone. When my husband bill died I received a relatively small inheritance. I received about $20,000, which was not an unpleasant amount in 1936, but wouldn’t last more than a year for a fifth avenue address. This was the last thing that I would spend time dwelling on. My husband decided to go on the expedition with four men with dreams of capturing the giant panda. Though they deserted him long before he passed. I decided that I wouldn’t leave Bill’s mission incomplete- I would pick it up and carry it to victory. In my lifetime several large animals had just
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I soon began to work with Quentin Young more to get ready for the expedition. Respect grew between us during the long days of collaboration. Young conjured a chinese name for me. It was “Ha Gansi” which is translated as “ laughing with courageous thoughts”. China has given me piece of mind that I have never had before, and a calmness that is a great relief. I began to worry about how we were going to keep the panda alive, etc. so I began to think that a baby panda instead of an adult was a good solution. Though, it would be hard enough to find a panda, a baby panda would be impossible to find. “I was told that Western China was no place for a lone white women- especially a woman with no experience in business or traveling. I did not believe it. I was also warned of the present possibility of running into bandits in the interior of Szechwan and reminded that Bill had been compelled to run back. I had done too much to admit defeat before I started.” I soon began to discard my Western ways. My American clothes were left behind in Shanghai. My Shanghai tailor fashioned for me loose-cut, boxy jackets and matching trousers made out of blue cloth and coolies wore. I was hoping to forget all things Western and absorb all things Chinese. Just miles out of Chengdu there were reports of bandits in the area. We came across a man sprawled on the road next to an open field and pierced with bullets. This was a freshly murdered body of one of the

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