The house of fiction has many windows; in Tulku, the windows open out upon the conflicts of faith, the drama of adventure and the style of life of a people at once remote and fascinating.
Theodore Tewker is the young son of an American missionary in turn-of-the-century China. One night he is shaken awake and brusquely told to flee his father’s settlement. The Boxers have come to exorcise China of the Foreign Devils, to burn the mission and the missionaries. Theo spends a miserable night losing his faith in the damp woods nearby and in the morning meets a strange set of travellers, Mrs Jones, a plant collector and ex-demi-mondaine from Battersea and her sidekick Lung, an exiled Mandarin bureaucrat and poet.
Unsettled by the Boxers, Mrs Jones’s porters rebel. With a cool display of nerve and a 12-shot repeating rifle, she faces them down and shoos them away. The trio goes on to the settlement – all plumes of smoke and rifled corpses, including that of the Reverend Tewker. Clearly the