Bonding with
Sarah Campbell over
Orange Juice

I’m sitting at the dining table with Sarah Campbell in Hassan Aziz’s cabin. Dressed in a gray Biblical gown, Sarah sits across from me and has had little to say since I arrived. The crew, at Hassan’s command, brought hot tea for me and a bowl of oranges for Sarah. I can tell by the way Sarah’s eyes dart between me and her orange that she has questions for me, but for one reason or another, she seems reluctant to ask them.     

I decided to make the first move by saying, “Thank you for meeting with me.”

Sarah answer with a polite smile.
Sarah: You not like tea?

I can’t help grinning at Sarah’s demeanor. Though she has a sweet disposition, she’s the kind of person who notices everything, even the things that most people miss. She just proved it just now, and her observation is spot on. I lean in until my chest touches the edge of the tablle. “No I don’t.”

Sarah’s eyes widen and a genuine smile blossoms on her lips.
Sarah: “Aye? I not like tea.

Josanna: Aye. (I glance down at the bowl of oranges, and my stomach growls, reminding me that I skipped breakfast this morning.)  Would you mind if I eat one of your oranges?

Sarah’s lips part.
Sarah: You like orange too?

Josanna: Oranges are one of my favorite foods.

Sarah: it mine too. I remember first time I try. I bite. (She points to one of the pieces of rind lying on the table in front of her.) I not like that. Cattin show me this. (Sarah points to one of her orange’s section.) I try. It sweet. I like now… a lot. (She says with widened eyes.)

I chuckle.
Josanna: Would you like to see how I eat them?

Sarah: You eat orange different than me?

Josanna: I drink the juice.

Sarah’s brow crinkles.
Sarah: How you do that?

Josanna: May I borrow a knife?

Sarah jumped up from the table and disappeared into the dressing room. She returns a few minutes later carrying an ivory handle knife.
Sarah: This good?

Josanna: It’s perfect.

I set the teacup beside the saucer and retrieve an orange. Sarah watches intently as I cut the orange in half. Placing the orange half in the palm of my hand, I squeeze the juice into the cup.  “The problem with using this method is that it takes quite a few oranges to fill one cup with juice,” I said as I reach for another orange. I was half right, it only took half the oranges in the bowl to fill the teacup with the juice. After wiping my hand, I slid the cup over to Sarah.
Josanna: Try this.

Sarah lifts the cup to her nose and sniffs before drinking the juice. She closes her eyes. Her face is the picture of bliss.
Sarah: I like this way.

She takes a few sips and slides the cup to me.
Sarah: You drink. 

Josanna: No, I made it for you.

Sarah: Aye? (She asks in a timid voice.)

Josanna: Aye. (I smile as I reach for my own orange, but this time, I peel it.)  "I came here to tell you I am introducing my story about you to the world in a few weeks."

Sarah gets quiet again, and she looks worried. I’m not sure why. Finally, Sarah breaks her silence and asks, “Josanna, you think people will like me?”

Hassan Aziz enters his quarters just as Sarah asks her question. He approaches us, but instead of sitting at the table, he stands behind her, resting his hands on her shoulders. I grin as he leans down and kisses the top of her head.

Hassan: Sweetheart, I am certain everyone will adore you as much as I do. How could they not?

Sarah looks up at him with trusting blue eyes. “Aye?”

Josanna: Sarah, I would not have written your story had I not believed that you are an extraordinary young woman. 

Sarah: What extr… mean?

Josanna: It means that you are very special. I loved your character because you are very different from the heroines in the stories told today. You are kind and child-like, yet you're intelligent and brave.

Hassan: Well said, Miss Thompson. I could not agree more with your observation about Sarah. (He kisses the top of Sarah’s head before taking a seat beside her.)

I pretend not to notice when Hassan reaches for Sarah’s hand under the table.

Hassan frowns when he spots the pile of orange rinds piled in front of me and the orange liquid in the tea cup.
Hassan: What the devil have you two been doing?

Sarah: Josanna not like tea. She… I not know how to say.

Josanna: I squeezed the juice from several oranges for Sarah. It is my favorite way to eat an orange.

Hassan: I see. (His lips form a scowl,)

Sarah slid the cup in front of Hassan.
Sarah: It good, Cattin. You try.

Hassan takes one sip of the juice before drinking the rest of it.
Hassan: That is good, very good. I would not recommend eating oranges that way.

Sarah: Why not?

Hassan: Because we will run out of oranges in one day if you eat them that way. There is no easy way to replenish our supply.

Sarah: Oh. I eat one.

Hassan chuckles: That is very sensible. What else have you two been discussing?

Josanna: Sarah and I were discussing the release of A Maiden’s Honor. I was about to ask if she had a favorite scene

Sarah; Cattin, you remember first time you give me this? (She held up her orange.)

Hassan smiles tenderly at Sarah: I shan’t ever forget it. Is that your favorite scene?

Sarah: I like. That not mine. What your’s, Cattin?

Hassan: I liked all the pleasant scenes that we shared.

Sarah: You like one better?

Hassan: All right, I admit that I'm partial to the scene where I gave the blue paru to you.

Sarah: I like that.

Josanna: Is that your favorite scene?

Sarah: No, I like first night we together. We sat in front of my trunk. I show you my things.

Hassan: I love that scene too.

Josanna: Is that your favorite scene?

Sarah and Hassan say simultaneously: Aye.

Josanna: Would you like to introduce the scene to your readers?

Sarah: This my fav… (She sighs.) I like this one.

Hassan returned to his quarters a half an hour later with a perfect sunset unfolding outside his window. Streaks of fuchsia danced across the water as the orb slowly sank into the horizon. Sarah was oblivious to the setting sun, even though she was sitting beside the window. Instead, she sat naked with her feet tucked under her. Her discarded garment lay folded on the floor beside her. She emptied the oranges from the bowl and neatly stacked them on the table. The china bowl sat beside her, filled with water, untouched. She just stared at the trunk in front of her with her hands resting on the latches.

Hassan felt a fire in his belly and quickly tore his eyes from the soft curves of Sarah’s waist. He forced himself to focus on her tossled hair hanging loosely down her back before retrieving a silver brush from one of his plunders. “I thought you could use this.” Hassan knelt beside her, restricting his gaze to her eyes. He could tell by Sarah’s tentative movements that she was uncertain about the evening ahead of her. He couldn’t decide if she was feeling sadness or fear.

Sarah smiled politely and said something in her language before taking the brush from him. Instead of combing her hair, she traced the floral design engraved on the back of the brush.

“This is for your hair.” Hassan took it from her and demonstrated how to use it before handing it back to her. Sarah patiently brushed out the tangles; Hassan couldn’t take his eyes off her. “No, you keep it,” he insisted when Sarah attempted to hand the brush back to him.

Sarah laid her gift on the floor beside her before returning her attention to her trunk. Once again, she reverently rested her hands on the latches.

“Do you miss your home and your father?” he asked.

“Aye,” Sarah quietly admitted. There was unmistakable sadness in her voice.

“Why don’t we open your trunk together?” Hassan placed his hands over hers as they lifted her trunk’s domed lid. The inside smelled of flowers and coconuts. It didn’t surprise him to discover a chest filled with worthless treasures. Sarah removed a straw mat, a sponge, a flat shell, a triangular tooth, and a shiny stick. He picked up the stick and discovered that the inside was hollow. Sharp-narrow spears were cut on one end of the tube, and the other half, he assumed, was used as a handle. Giving into his curiosity, he asked, “What is this?”

“I show.” Sarah took the primitive tool from Hassan and ran the spears through her hair.
“That’s very clever.” Hassan marveled at the Polynesians’ ingenuity. He picked up the tooth. It was gray and took up nearly a third of his palm. “What is this?”

“It fish.” Sarah pointed to her teeth. “It sha … sharp?”

Hassan rubbed his thumb across the serrated edge. “I noticed. What purpose does this have?”

“I show.” Sarah took the shark tooth from Hassan and bent a lock of her hair over her finger. She slipped the tooth’s sharp edge through the loop and pressed it against the inner edge.

“Don’t you dare,” Hassan gasped when she began slicing through her hair.

Sarah released the lock and looked at him with wide eyes. “What I do wrong?”

Hassan’s cheeks warmed unexpectedly. “I don’t want you to cut your hair for me. It is lovely the way it is.” He knew it was not his place to dictate how she wore her hair, but he hated the thought of her shortening it just the same.

“Aye? You like?”

“Very much.”

Sarah bit her lip. “Umm women, hair … wear here.” She placed her hand on her shoulder to indicate that the women wore their hair cut to their shoulders.

“Why did you not cut your hair to that length?” he asked with a mild curiosity.

“Da not like.”

“Your father preferred you to wear your hair waist-length.”


Hassan surmised that her father had other reasons for keeping his daughter’s hair long. Sarah’s hair was thick, and it provided a natural cover for her chest. He was sure her father’s requests to keep her hair long was a subtle way of enforcing his daughter’s modesty. Hassan leaned in and whispered, “Your father was right; your hair is perfect the way it is. I would not change a single hair on your head.”

Sarah blushed. She rummaged through her trunk and pulled out a thick parcel wrapped in stiff paper. She peeled back the edges.

Hassan’s eyes widened when he discovered the images drawn on paper identical to the cloth that wrapped the bundle. To his amazement, they weren’t primitive images, but complex black and white drawings that were worthy of hanging in a fine art gallery. 

Sarah picked up the first picture in the stack and handed it to Hassan. “My friend, Temoe. She … beautiful, aye?” 

Hassan frowned as he studied her drawing. If he had to guess, her friend looked as if she were Sarah’s age, perhaps a little older. She wore her hair cut to her shoulders with flowers tucked behind her ears, just as Sarah described, but she was not the Aphrodite goddess from his fantasies. Her flat nose and angular jaw gave her a slightly masculine quality. Dressed only in a cloth tied around her waist, her full breasts provided the only proof that she was a woman. 

“She beautiful, aye?”

“Well, um.” Hassan didn’t know how to answer her. “Do all the women on your island look like this?”

“Aye. You not like?”

“I am certain that your friend is lovely. Honestly, it's hard to ascertain her beauty from this portrait.”

"Temoe have … um … many sweetheart.”

“I see.” Hassan grinned as he studied the expression on her face. “I imagine you had many sweethearts of your own.”

Sarah looked down at her lap as her trembling hand fidgeted with a lock of her hair. “No. I not beautiful.”

Hassan raised a brow. “You must be joking.”

“No, my.” Sarah pointed to her nose.

“Nose,” Hassan offered.

“Nose. It not like Temoe nose.”

“What do you mean?

Sarah pointed to her friend’s nose. “Beautiful women have nose like Temoe.”

“Do you mean that men esteem women who have flat noses?”

“What esteem?”

“Um.” Hassan thought for a moment. “In other words, your people consider flat noses as a sign of beauty.”


Hassan wished he had a mirror to show Sarah just how exquisite she truly was. Then again, he wondered if it would make a difference considering that she measured beauty by the Polynesians’ standards. In this part of the world, Sarah would be regarded as the rarest of all beauties, for he had never seen her equal. Hassan caressed her cheek with the back of his finger and said, “I cannot speak for your countrymen, but I can speak for mine. They will esteem you as a lovely young woman.”

“Aye?” She looked at Hassan as if this was the first time someone had told her that she was beautiful.

“Yes,” he whispered. Hassan glanced back at her sketches and asked, “May I see your other drawings?”

“Aye,” she said, handing the stack to him.

He silently studied the sketches of people bathing in a pool with a waterfall spilling into the pool in the background, a warrior holding a tall spear, island landscapes, and an exquisite portrait of her father portraying his rustic demeanor. Unlike the warriors in her drawings, who didn’t seem to have a single hair on their chest or face, her father sported a carpet of hair on his chest and a thick beard on his face. What stood out to Hassan was an unmistakable tenderness in his eyes.

“Did you draw these?” he asked without taking his eyes off her father’s portrait.

“Aye,” Sarah shyly replied as she stared at the images. Looking up at him, she asked in a hesitant voice. “You like?”

“They are extraordinary, Sarah,” Hassan said just as she looked away. “Did your father teach you how to draw?”

“Aye.” Sarah took the stack from him and flipped through each one until she came to a drawing of her. She explained in broken English that her father had drawn this portrait a few days before the French ship arrived. It had been a perfect day. While the people in her village gathered at the pond for their midday bathing, she and her father slipped away to a different part of the pool.

Hassan’s breath hitched as he studied her portrait. Sarah sat on a log beside the pond with a waterfall spilling into the water in the background; the flowers in the foreground seemed abundant. His imagination filled in the scents and the colors that the black and white sketch denied him. It wasn’t hard to imagine that her island was a paradise. Sarah wore a cloth tied around her waist. Her hair, adorned with a crown of flowers, hung loosely over her chest. Her lips wore a playful smile. Above all, Sarah looked like a girl who didn’t have a single care.

”You like?” Sarah asked after a few awkward moments of silence.

“It’s exquisite,” Hassan whispered without taking his eyes off her portrait. He didn’t want to give it back to her. If he had his way, he would display it so that he could look at it often. Being a man of honor, he handed the portrait back to her.

“You keep,” she insisted.

“I couldn’t possibly, Sarah. This belongs to you.”

“You keep,” she said, pushing his hand away.

“Thank you. I shall treasure it, always.” Hassan studied her. “Tell me more about your people.”

Sarah used her illustrations to teach Hassan about her people. Cleanliness was an important part of her culture. Everyone in her village, including men, women, and children, gathered at a fresh-water pool to bathe three times a day throughout the year.

That was a stark contrast to his people, who ironically, were regarded as the epitome of the civilized world. Englishmen, including women, bathed privately once a month if that. Their hands, necks, and arms were the only parts of their bodies that his countrymen washed with regularity. Hassan was no exception. However, he and his crew took full advantage of the Turkish baths whenever they were in the city of Algiers. In their defense, fresh water in England was not as abundant as it was on Sarah’s island, and it was often too cold to stand in for longer than a minute. Everyone, including Hassan, hated using lye soap because it burned their skin. So far, no one had come up with a suitable alternative. Lastly, the water quality made bathing unsafe. Hassan knew a few people who died from ailments contracted from swimming in a lake. As a result, no one swam in England, and people only bathed when necessary.

Sarah told Hassan about her people’s bathing ritual. Bathing was always a social time, a happy time for everyone. Sarah’s melancholy voice and downturn lips made it abundantly clear that she missed her people.

Hassan wiped a tear from her cheek. “I’m curious,” he said with a playful grin, “did you bathe today?”

“Aye.” She held up two fingers.

“Indeed,” Hassan said, wondering when she fit in her baths. He couldn’t help wondering how bad he smelled to her. Not wanting an answer to his question, Hassan studied her with narrow eyes and picked up a flat shell. “What purpose does this have?”

Sarah’s somber demeanor brightened. “I show,” she said with enthusiasm.

“If you wish.” Hassan chuckled.

Sarah reached for his arm and pinched a few hairs between her fingers. Placing the flat shell against his skin, she used the edge to slice off the hairs.

Hassan frowned as he wondered why she didn’t cut off the hairs from her body.

Sarah answered his unspoken question by guiding his hand across her arm. “No hair. We say, hair here not clean.”

“Ah,” Hassan mumbled. The skin on her arms, her legs, and even her armpits were completely devoid of hair. Sarah had also sculpted her brows into perfect thin arches. The only other hair on her body was what covered her head.

Hassan tilted his head to the side and asked in a thoughtful way, “Does that mean you believe that I am unclean by wearing a beard?”

“No. You like Da. Da not take off hair.”

“I see,” Hassan traced the outline of her cheek with the back of his finger.

Sarah got quiet again, and her demeanor somber. Without saying another word, she twirled her hair into a bun. After dipping the sponge into the bowl of water, Sarah began washing her body as if she were alone.

Hassan moved to the table, hoping he was at a safe distance from her. He knew that he couldn’t resist making love to her if he remained sitting beside her much longer, for he had never wanted any woman so badly. Everything about this creature fascinated him - her perfect figure, her graceful movements, but it was much more than that. Sarah was sensual, yet innocent, and Hassan found that combination irresistible.

It would be so easy to make love to her tonight, he mused. Sarah was willing. Moreover, she thought of him as her husband. Hassan shook his head in a futile attempt to dismiss the unbidden images filling his mind. Feeling his loins tighten, he jumped to his feet and fled his quarters.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Sarah Campbell. 

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