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- Seven Maids of Far Cathay - 2/10 -
not to the land! I am of the boat people!"
We look at Each, full of dumbness. A boat child! Born of a people without a foundation, whom the Gods had command to live all the many moons to come on the water and never again upon the land! Impossible! But Miss Powers put finger to lips and nod head, and we know that it is of a truth that Fuku has spoken.
By and by Fuku go with Dr. Ewing and Miss Powers say one half to ownself, one half to ourself, "Poor little girl," and look about at Each, most earnestly.
"Young Ladies, you have much to give thankfulness for," she say. "It is good to be well born. I shall tell you of Fuku that you may help her to overcome these unfortunate attacks. It is as she said, she is of the boats. When a little child playing on the deck of her boat-home, the rope fastened about her waist, parted, and she fell into the water. She struck her head as she went down, which I think partly accounts for these attacks; when she came up, an American who happened to be passing that point in a sampan, caught her by her long hair and tried to give her back to her parents, but they said, 'Return her to the water. The Water Gods have claimed her; she is theirs, not ours. We will not take her back.' So he brought her to me. Here she has grown up and from here, God willing, she will go forth into the world a noble woman!"
Then Miss Powers make a little prayer of Fuku and we drink of the tea and eat of the cakes of much sweetness. The clock strike five times before we leave the home of our Honored President.
When we arrive at her balcony a strange happening come to view. The Chrysanthemum pots were all departed. In their place were our lilies of China, nodding tiny heads in greeting as we pass over the walks to our dormitory. I go most quickly that I may arrive at the English Flower-book, for I know not the meaning of our lilies.
For five moons we play at game with greatest pleasure and much gaining of English. All read aloud with more understanding and our Honored President say we also write better. No Chinese girl know what other Chinese girl have written, so we talk of papers most freely and with great funniness.
One afternoon when we had complete our Readings and were drinking the tea of our Honored President, she say, "Do you realize, Young Ladies, that we shall meet together but once more, then our game is finished?"
When we told her that we had not so realized and were full of sorrow, she say, "I, too, am sorry for I have enjoyed the play." Then she look all about and of a suddenness request - "How many girls wish to commemorate our game?" We look at Each. Commemorate is an Americanism uncommon; we not the meaning know, but Miss Powers' bright eyes most kind and at once we hold up hands. She nod head and say, "I thought so! All of you! Each week I have marked the papers which you voted 'best.' If your Biographer will select and arrange them I will have them printed in book form that each girl may possess a Class book." We have haste to assure her that such a possession will be most pleasurable, and Eng Muoi jump on feet and say out loudly, "Our Honored President must also possess Class book." Fear comes at sound of voice and at once she sit down. Miss Powers smile most graciously and say, "Thank you, Eng Muoi, I would like one, but there is one condition, it is necessary that I shall know which girl has the B - not in her bonnet," she laugh, and we join with laughter, for we also have knowledge of the bonnet - B.
Next morning I have honor to walk from Chapel with Miss Powers (our Honored President) and tell to her of my troubles. By the Dictionary of the Centuries, a Biographer speaks of one human in one book. How then can I be a Biographer of correctness?
"But a Class book is different," Miss Powers say most polite. "It is a chronicle of College life, Bing Ding." I am much puzzled. On steamer days Cui Ai present Miss Sterling with American newspaper and say, "Here is Chronicle!" Is newspaper in America all the same as book? Miss Powers tell, in Class book must be something written by, and about Each; also something about Residence and Doings. I will therefore now make picture of our Adorable College. It is situate on hills of Island grown from the shining bosom of river Ping. At left hand the Monastery of Dreams stands of a whiteness of snow, from the tall mountain - Kushan. At right hand, if eyes follow glistening trail many Li (miles) by and by see blue of ocean of an unexplainable vastness. And all time - of gold with shining of Sun - of silver with Moonbeams play, sleeps the great, beautiful river Ping.
The seven buildings of our adorable College are of a brick and stand quite at the top of hill. From their feet green lawns run away down to hide their greennesses in shadow of wall which about the Compound encircles. This wall, of a ten-foot height, from grey stone is made. At top of stones, not too often, posts stand of a color like lawn, and upon posts looking at sky, sits the balustrade made of stone of a redness to be seen afar. When the wistaria is full of bloom many times have I wish to sit upon balustrade that I might make rain of wistaria blossoms upon Honorable Strangers making entrance through door in wall, but Sedia (the keeper of the gate) is of much strength and bigness and I do not dare.
Today when from Chapel we arrive, on breeze of morning come sound of Tom-Tom from without the Compound wall. All Chinese girl run down to gate. Miss Sterling enter in and Sedia at once close gate but not too quickly. In opening I view Chinese all about box in street-centre standing. On box, man; he make movement to turn face, and to me alone I cry, "It is He of the Bridge of the Ten Thousand Ages!" My soul is in darkness and my feet have wings. I fly far away. When I wish no more to fly I cannot cease, but go onward. At last I fall to earth and know no more.
When I awake it is in a place of strangeness - a room full of sunshine, making entrance through windows of much number. The walls and carpets are of the blue of the sky; the chairs, dressing-table and couch upon which I lie are all of a whiteness; the Mieng about me is again blue. I shut my eyes in wonderment; all is of beauty extraordinary! A hand comes to my miserable forehead and Mother Heart (Miss Sterling) give of sympathy to her unhappy child.
The memory of being like Fuku - not well born - smites my heart and bids my tongue be still. I speak not. By and by Miss Sterling whisper, "Why did you run away from the gate, Bing Ding?" I whisper return: "It was He of the Bridge of the Ten Thousand Ages. Of his power I have greatest fear. If He find, He will sell me to be a slave, for to him do I owe my most miserable existence." Miss Sterling's eyes flash of fire and she say, "No! No! I will have care."
Comfort to my heart creeps in, and I have speech with her of the Story Teller of the Streets. How, seventeen years past by, He was telling tales from box as now happen, and to Chinese all about standing, He say, "Do good deeds! Be of unselfishness! Have of others care!" One Chinese laugh and make large fun of Story Teller and say, "Why, O Wise Man, dost thou not perform goodnesses, thyself? Just now I pass over the Bridge of the Ten Thousand Ages and beside the stones of bridge I view babe of new birth. Go, thou, and take of it all care." To save his face the Story Teller went upon the bridge and took the babe unto his arms and house; but having children of much number, that night when all was dark that none could see, he went again upon his way and with him went the babe. I could no more speak.
Miss Sterling press my unworthy hand and say, "I know the rest, Bing Ding. He took you to an orphanage where we found you and brought you here that you might be educated. Have no fear; I will take care of you." I cry out of joy now, so happy to be of safety in Miss Sterling's heart.
Our I last game is played. Next week we graduate. The separation as of one family is upon us. We have been most happy in our Adorable College and are full of sadness that Each, alone her way must go. Some Chinese girls to be married, other Chinese girls, teachers to become. I, with Mother Heart to America, am going.
Times of much number have I been to the study of our Honored President to make arrangements of our Class book. With Miss Powers' assistance I have honor to select of the papers those that of our Adorable College make pictures of clearness. That when Each, goes by self, one reading in Class book will bring forth memories and together we will all be sitting, playing our game and drinking the tea of our Honored President. When so sitting, will please Each, give thought of kindliness to most humble Biographer, is the wish of your most unworthy.
Bing Ding. Woman's Anglo-Chinese College, Neuchang, China, June 15th.
Cherished and Honorable Mother, Moy Sen. Most respectful salutations. Bing Ang. Bing Ang.
Your lazy and careless child has much that she wishes to say to you, while her heart bleeds because she is separate by so many miles from the most to be revered Mother.
Though so great distance divide us, yet my heart is as near to you as ever; rivers and mountains will hinder us from seeing one another, but they can never give obstruction to our mutual love and help.
By day and by night I pray for your safety and I offer to heaven much incense, and also foods, and my hope is that no harm may come near to your house.
Before the rise of the sun each day I make my worship as you have taught me, though many of the girls in this College do not so, and sometimes I have very great fear that the Guis (devils) will all swallow up on this account.
One day Miss Sterling come into my room and say, "It offends me much to see so many tablets and images here; will you not place them away from sight at least?" This I do at once having greatest fear to offend and bring upon us all great troubles though not yet come.
Miss Sterling, so beautiful, so good, so full kind thoughts for every one, all girls in this College say, "She too kind, too good." Already I love Miss Sterling so much my heart ache to do some good thing for her.
Last night all girls in this College go take walk on far hills to see set of sun in Ocean; Miss Sterling walk by me and say, "Please try a little to speak out your thought when possible for how then can we help you to better ones?" I promise to try but I always so afraid, O I know I
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