From McCully (Popcorn at the Palace, p. 1225, etc.), a well- wrought story of two 17th-century Chinese women that opens with the birth of a baby girl whose steady gaze inspires her father to name her Jingyong, ``Quiet Courage.'' She is taught as a son would be, developing her qi, or vital energy, to such an extent that she wins a place as a Buddhist nun in the Shaolin Monastery, as well as a new name, Wu Mei, or ``beautiful warrior.'' The embodiment of the notion that inner strength defeats brute force, she helps Mingyi Wang, a village bean-curd seller, avoid marriage to the leader of a gang of thugs through the teaching of kung fu.
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