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- Seven Maids of Far Cathay - 1/10 -
Seven Maids of Far Cathay Being English Notes From A Chinese Class Book
Compiled By Bing Ding
Illustrated By Ai Lang
The custom of Americanism having been related unto me - "That one book shall take unto self one dedication" - I have honor to make speeches of presentation unto N-B-E, a Grandmother Genius of Geniuses.
The English Notes which go to make up this Chinese Class book are the result of a game which the President of the Woman's Anglo-Chinese College of Neuchang, China, induced the seven Chinese girls of the graduating class to play during the last six months of their College course. The Notes were read aloud in class, taken down by a stenographer, and afterwards arranged alphabetically by the Biographer assisted by the President of the College. At the request of interested friends the President has now permitted the publication of these Notes exactly as they were originally produced, without revision, that the unique atmosphere pervading them might not be lost.
Foreword Biographer Correspondent Diarist Essayist Folklorist Genius
"I Will Therefore Now Make Picture or Our Adorable College" (Frontispiece) "It Was He of the Bridge of the Ten Thousand Ages" "All Day Long Very Good Water, Very Much Pleasure" "I Find Many Idols of Uselessness" "Gui (Devil) Always Travel in Straight Line, Road Wind Around so Gui No Can Catch Traveler" Cliff Near the Monkey Mother's Home "All is of Great Stillness and Peace"
Because I drew the B - I have honor to commence this Class book. For once English A comes not at the head, for our Artist, (whoever is she?) can at the first do nothing.
It all began thus: The first of last semester in the English class Each, most horribly read. Miss Sterling, (our Adored Teacher), play with rings and shake head and say, "Girls, why do you all mispronounce that word, B-O-U-G-H-? It is pronounced - Bow - like this." She arise and make grand Kow-Tow, "Or like this," she shake head until little yellow curls all up and down dance and say, "Bow-wow! Bow-wow! Bow-wow!" The door open and Miss Powers, (our Honored President), come in. She say nothing, but Look! Ging Muoi giggle. Miss Sterling grow all white and pink like Chinese lady. Then Miss Powers speak much dignified:
"We are here to teach these young ladies the art of deportment; can it be that you were demonstrating a lesson on manners, Miss Sterling?"
Miss Sterling opens lips; no sound come out and her blue eyes with tears fill up. Most times so timid I cannot tell or act out what I most long to do, but I love Miss' Sterling.
"Miss Powers," I say, afraid forgetting, "May I have speech?"
Miss Powers smile with corners of mouth only and say, "Yes, Bing Ding, proceed."
"You know what kind girls we are, Miss Powers, of such a stupidness that we cannot of the English to learn. We only are to blame, not Miss Sterling," I say, then afraid remember and sit down.
"It is true that our language is very difficult for you," say Miss Powers most graciously. "And in order that you may learn to construct and pronounce it correctly, I propose that this last semester of your College course, you play a game that we may call 'English Notes.' Have any of you ever heard of it?" When we told her we had not so heard, she smile with chin also, and hold to view small package all of a whiteness.
"These are sealed envelopes," she say. "Each one contains one of the first seven letters of the English Alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, a letter for each girl. Miss Sterling, will you be kind enough to give them to the young ladies?"
It seemed of a purpose that to me came Miss Sterling last. Afterward, when I so state privately to her, she smile all about and say, "It is most fortunate that your envelope contains the B, Bing Ding, for being a Eurasion, you can write the English more fluently than the others." But that is of Biography unimportant, so I return to where I stop.
Fuku start to open envelope, Miss Powers hold out hand and say, "Wait, Fuku, and I will tell you about the game. It is played thus:"
"For the next five months, every Saturday each girl must deposit in my office letter-box an unsigned, written paper of not less than two hundred English words, on a topic corresponding to the word represented by the letter found in her envelope. For example: A stands for the Artist of the class. B - for the Biographer. C - Correspondent. D - Diarist. E - Essayist. F - Folklorist. G - Genius, to her goes my heartfelt sympathy." Miss Powers look at Miss Sterling and draw down corners of mouth and take on sadness. All Chinese girls grow solemnity, but Miss Sterling laugh, and we know it is of American funniness, and are much relieved.
"Bing Ding will distribute this writing paper which I wish you to use in preparing your articles," say Miss Powers, and again hold to view a package, this time of much largeness and most blue. "Six of you will begin playing the game this week. A, cannot play until next week; her name, alone, I must know that I may send her the papers to illustrate after they are typed."
"On next Monday afternoon and on all the following Mondays, I shall expect you to come to my study at Two of the clock, to drink tea and play your game. That is all now, Young Ladies, except that each girl must keep the secret of her letter; that is for her alone. Good after noon," and Miss Powers disappear with much graceful carriage, of which all Chinese girls admire but cannot to imitate.
Miss Powers great lady; of a tallness and much commanding, with snow hair and bright eyes - at times of a hardness like steel - of them we have much fear. For Miss Powers we have admiration greatly but our love we cannot show out to her; only can we show that to Miss Sterling who is of great dearness, with heart of so great bigness that for her we take the name of "Mother Heart." Each, to her gather and wish of her that she may play the new foreign game with us, but she make explanation that of the letters there are but seven, and soon all Chinese girl go to herself alone and open her envelope. As I have before spoken, B, was in mine. A Biographer I have now become. I shall at once at the Dictionary of the Centuries arrive and study to show forth the meaning of my word.
When we went forth on the first Monday afternoon to play our game and drink the tea of our Honored President, the Chrysanthemums were of great beauty. For many days the gardener had present pots of Chrysanthemums of great choiceness, so that the walks of the Compound and the steps leading to Miss Powers' study were of a two times border; inside part show tiny yellow and white hemispheres, outside part show much large yellow globes. When I behold Chrysanthemums to me alone I say, "Can it be English flower-book is of a rightness? 'That a heart to desolation is now left?' Perhaps the foreign game we cannot play." and I enter much afraid.
Miss Powers meet us on balcony and invite us in and to take seat; we have hesitation for Chinese must not at once sit down, but Miss Powers command, "Be seated, it is the American way." Then she wave hand to tray on table and say, "Young Ladies, here are your notes; I have had them put into type that you may not know whose notes you are reading. Go forward, Cui Ai, and select one to read aloud."
We watch with carefulness Cui Ai open paper and read of Folk-lore. I look about, but girls' faces all most composed and to me I think, "That paper is of Cui Ai's own make," when I see Fuku all of a shakiness and am full of doubt.
Miss Powers ask of each girl to read in turn until there is but one remainder, Fuku, who seems much offended that she comes at the last. She take paper, open, throw on floor with great noise. First time like little squeak of mouse, second time like Chinese Tom-Tom, and all time kick at paper on floor with much strength of purpose. We at once arise and when the foot of Fuku is high in air Da Hua make rescue of paper. Miss Powers say, "Be seated, Young Ladies," and we sit down with stillness; but Fuku keep most noisy. Miss Powers sit at telephone and by and by Dr. Ewing come and try to introduce Fuku into next-door room but she cry, "No, No, it is not my will to go! I shall of the paper now read." Then she again squeak and Tom-Tom, and Dr. Ewing draw up arm and put big slap in Fuku's nose centre. Fuku at once come to self and say, "Where am I?" When she look see us - six Chinese girls in a row sitting - she put up thumbs to cover face and it seem as if she would cry to death, and all time she whisper, "Take me away! Take me away! I belong
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