Harold took a lover, a gentle, blowsy girl of twenty-three, and bought for her an apartment in the city and a tidy car and tasteful jewels, and all this kept hidden (or sought to) from Miaomiao, for though he had a wandering eye and a selfish heart, he loved and cherished his wife, and would as lief not upset her mind. Miaomiao was much cleverer than her husband, and a lover of hidden things, and delighted in discovering secrets large and small, and so soon learned her of Harold’s adulterous ways. More amused than anything, she watched the progression of his affair, and found him (to her) sweeter and more tender, gentler and doting, while his hands and lips mangled and mauled and dishevelled his blowsy paramour.
She toyed with the idea of taking for herself a lover, but she had patience for but one man at a time, and had no need of ardent admirers. She took to leaving little slips of paper scattered about (as though by accident) the house, with words and phrases, scraps of romantic poetry, titles of books, pleasing gifts, and watched as Harold discovered these and all unconsciously began to feed these ideas into his affair.
Through close scrutiny Miaomiao discovered the beauty of the blowsy girl, hidden and common like that of a daisy or a bluebell waving in a field, but sweet and pretty still. What did the girl do when Harold was elsewhere, working, or travelling, or with his family? Miaomiao made excuses and slipped away to the city, to watch the girl and learn her ways. Hidden in the backs of bookstores, or lighting an unshaven cigarette outside a bar, she conceived a passion for this girl, for her husband’s girlfriend, and set out to steal her (subtly, anonymously) away from Harold.