Madame Wu was a hard woman but she did understand the importance of treating her girls well. As a general rule, they worked six days a week and were allowed five days off every month for their “Lady’s problem”. Every six months they were allowed seven days off for a holiday if they wished, which the girls found acceptable. They were well fed and not beaten. Damaged merchandise was of little use to Madame Wu. As long as they followed her rules they were treated well.
Mai-Ling’s first two weeks under the tutelage of the old woman, consisted of having clothes made (which added to her debt) and observation. From different areas where she could remain unseen she watched how the other girls moved amongst the guests and listened to Wu as she spoke.
“Do you see daughter how your sisters snare their prey? Nothing elaborate, a smile, a subtle gesture, that’s all it takes. Men are really simple creatures, easy to control if one knows how.”
The third week she was dressed and allowed to mingle, practicing her coy look, her perfume catching the attention of moneyed men, their eyes watching her young beautiful body, the slight touch of her hand on theirs, a squeeze of the arm, her tongue sensually passing over her upper lip. Men couldn’t help but notice Wu’s new acquisition and they wanted her, as Wu knew they would. She was waiting for the right time, which came after two more weeks.
Mai-Ling was a virgin, something Wu ensured was true, and the old woman knowing men as she did, knew that they prized being the first into the inner folds of a woman. Wu thought that this was because most men performed so badly in bed that taking a woman’s maiden head assured little danger of comparison. Wu had taken time with her selection she observed and took mental notes.
On a warm Friday evening, three well dressed men were shown into one of the private rooms of Madame Wu’s place of business, the old woman secretly watching. They were offered food and drink as well as cigars, they expected nothing less.
The first man she saw was Charles Ward, a prominent rancher in Wyoming territory, a man who could not be mistaken for anything other than what he was, a western cattle baron, and a very wealthy one at that.
The second individual was Adam Roberts, a powerful influence with the railroad, a competitive man who took his business and pleasure equally serious.
The last man was short and round bringing to mind a top, if they thought of anything. Gruff and confident, Oliver Gordon was an oil man with successful wells in Pennsylvania and Mexico, and who had just started drilling in Texas.
There was a fourth man in the room, one hired by Madame Wu, James “Jimmy” Dowel, who made his living as an auctioneer and who was needed for the evening planed. With the necessary players in place, Madame Wu entered the room accompanied by one of her man servants.
With the old woman in sight, the men all stood and bowed to her which she acknowledged with a nod of her head and bade them to be seated. Dowel took his place at a podium near a small platform and pounded his gavel three times.
“Gentlemen, on behalf of Madame Wu, I welcome you to this evening’s bidding. You have all been chosen because it is known that you men can appreciate the finer things in life, one of which is being offered for your pleasure this very night, to the highest bidder of course, Gentlemen, good luck.” Dowel snapped his fingers and Mai-Ling with hands tied before her was led into the room and placed on the platform near the podium.
She was a stunning sight. She wore a tight silk dress of dark green split high on the thigh. The dress accented her curves, her smooth behind and shapely breasts, her nipples had been rubbed so that they now strained against the silk. Her hair had been arranged on top of her head, her lips, dark red with cochineal. Green jade hung from her ears and around her lovely delicate neck. After she was slowly turned to give the men an all around view, the comb was removed from her hair allowing it to fall over her shoulders.
“Gentlemen, we all know the purpose for our presence in this room. Shall we start the bidding at $200? Do I hear $200”
The first one to speak was Gordon. “200”
“200, 200, do I hear 250?”
“250” said Ward.
“250, 250, do I hear 300 for this fine piece of female flesh, untouched by man, 300?”
“300” said Gordon.
“400” said Ward.
“450” countered Gordon.
“450, 450, do I hear 500? 500?” asked Dowel. “500” said Ward.
“600” upped Gordon.
“650” countered Ward.
“700” smiled Gordon.
“2000” said Roberts speaking for the first time. There was silence in the room. All the men were well off financially, but $2000 for one night with this woman, exotic as she was, was a bit more than Ward or Gordon wished to spend.
“2000, do I hear 2050? 2050?” Asked Dowel who noticed Ward and Gordon shake their heads.
“2000, 2000. 2000 going once, going twice…” he banged the gavel down. “Sold! The services of one Mai-Ling, in the employment of Madame Wu to Mr. Adam Roberts, for the sum of $2000. Payable by close of business, Monday, June 16th 1873.”
The bidding done, Mai-Ling was lead from the room to her own quarters, grateful that the business finished as quickly as it did. For the next three nights Madame Wu would not require her to “work the floor” so to speak. She wanted Mai-Ling fresh for the esteemed Mr. Roberts, Monday evening.
Taking off the seductive green silk, she replaced it with a worn but comfortable sleeveless nightgown and after washing her face settled down to read a book concerning King Arthur and his knights, enjoying the time she had to herself.
The men toasted Roberts on his good luck and seemingly unlimited purse. Even Madame Wu obliged them by taking a glass of champagne. $2000 American dollars, this young Mai-Ling might prove to be quite the money maker. She would defiantly have to watch over the young girl. With no parents, it was after all, only fitting.
Wu placed her empty glass on the table. “Gentlemen, I bid you Good evening,’ “she said with a smile. “After all, I’m not as young as the ladies who will soon be attending you.” Her comment brought devilish grins to the men, the young ladies who would be attending their needs.
“Good night gentlemen,” and with that Madame Wu left the room. She had money to count.