“The trail, quite literally, goes cold at that graveside in Happy Valley cemetery.”
Thus ended an October 2011 Post Magazine article about British sea captain Samuel Cornell Plant, the trail mentioned belonging to two young Eurasian girls adopted in China by Plant and his wife, who had also recently died. The sisters attended the funeral in 1921 but little more was known about them.
The mystery would not stay unsolved for long. In an article published almost two years later, Post Magazine revealed who the girls were and uncovered their story.
Isobel and Clara had been born to a Chinese father and English mother in Chengdu, Sichuan, but death and upheaval characterised their lives until, after the funeral in Happy Valley, they found themselves in the care of Mary Emilia Moore, in Yichang, 1,125 kilometres west of Shanghai.
Eventually, Clara moved back to Chengdu, Isobel to the United States – and the sisters were never to see each other again.
It’s a fascinating tale and one Polly Shih Brandmeyer, a granddaughter of Isobel and co-author of the second feature, will discuss in Hong Kong this evening at a Royal Asiatic Society lecture.
The lecture begins at 7pm at the auditorium, L4, Centre for Visual Arts, 7A Kennedy Road, Mid-Levels. Reception at 6.30pm. Call 2719 4974 for tickets and booking.