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- Seven Maids of Far Cathay - 5/10 -
office writing in a small, black volume. Upon the outside of volume was writ in large, golden letters, D-I-A-R-Y and beneath, in smaller forms, Alice Ewing. All these things mine eyes beheld before I ask of her my question.
"A Diary - why?" she make laughter as pleasant as the ripple of a tinkling brook. "What do you know about Diaries, Moonflower?" Then came the Matron in so great haste to beg of Dr. Ewing that she come at once unto the bedside of Fuku. "She hath an attack," saith the Matron and was departed.
"Remain here, Moonflower, and make speech with whoever come in," Dr. Ewing ask of me; and I with so great gladness sit down before the table upon which lieth the Book of the Golden Letters. For having asked my question of all the Honorable Ones and no Honorable One having answered in full I make resolution to look within the Book that the so great secret of success I may at the once learn.
Many persons make entrance and departure into office. It seemeth best to make study of Book when none are present to divert my thinkings. When FooFoo (the Chow dog) and I are alone I make haste to open Book. Within, the volume was writ in parts. One part days of week; other part, hours of day. Also the writings of Dr. Ewing were of so great smallness, to translate produced much troubles. Thereupon I make selection of one day alone, that I may best interpret the meanings of its hours. This is them:
From the Diary of Dr. Ewing:
8 a.m. Withdrew mole-tooth from the mouth of Eng Muoi. 9 a.m. No. 1 Cook's wife's sister-in-law make birth of big boy - weight, 12 knocks or pounds. 11 a.m. Transcribe letter of No to Y. M. C. A. Secretary. 12.30 Dr. Wardoff came to Tiffin. He hath given me six months to make answer to his clothes or suit. 2 p.m. Unbound feet of Luey See. Delicious operation. Time two hours. 5 p.m. Took from left ear of FooFoo bamboo tree.
Upon mine ear fall the sound of approaching feet-steps. Thereupon I at the once close Book and go to look within the ear of FooFoo who is full of gladsome barkings at Dr. Ewing making entrance. To her, I present good-night partings - and without delay make arrival at Dormitory where warmly wrapt in my Mieng of comfort I lie in readiness for sleep, but she come not. Upon her little bed in further corner my room-mate, Ging Muoi, make slumberings of so great audibleness I find not rest.
Again and again I make repetition of Dr. Ewing's Diary unto myself. Again and again Ging Muoi make whistlings through noses with much warmth of expression not unto herself. By and by I arise and remove from closet, bamboo stick unto the bedside of Ging Muoi; she awake with much suddenness and make end to whistles. At the once I return within my Mieng and come to so great decision - that on the morrows will I nothing of duties write - but all, of happenings. Sleep comes to mine eyelids and I dream.
2d Moon - 10th day - Upon yesterday fell the birthday of our Beloved Doctor Ewing. Miss Powers invite all to eat Tiffin at Faculty house. At the hour of noon we move upward upon Faculty steps, when our eyes behold legs and feet, only, of man making entrance upon Dr. Ewing's balcony. His upper parts were enclosed within a bouquet of much magnitude and his shoes were of the color of clay so that he present appearance like unto a single flower-pot of our gardens of the Compound. We call to mind the extensiveness of the feet and the inconsiderableness of the body of the most Honorable Secretary of the Y. M. C. A. and at the once make recognition of him.
Miss Powers (our Honored President) come out and say, "Come in and have seat." Thereupon we sit. Dr. Ewing make entrance from balcony with much redness of face and we donate birthday greetings unto her. A bell ring and Miss Powers say, "Let us go into the dining-room."
When all seated Dr. Ewing, invited, makes little prayer and the foreign feast begin, of a formality not like anything we know. We unfold napkins and spread them upon our laps to preserve clothes clean, and eat soup from the side of spoons which we push away from us, watching our Honorable Teachers with so great care because we know not what is the polite or what is the impolite. At close of feast Boy bring cups of smallness filled with coffee. Miss Sterling (our Adorable Teacher) put hand over cup, we do likewise, and say:
"Before we drink of the coffee, Young Ladies, I will tell you of an American birthday custom. It is called a Toast, and each one drinks to it standing. I will now make one to the health and longevity of Dr. Ewing."
All persons get to feet and Miss Sterling hold up cup and shake yellow curls and say to Dr. Ewing with so great solemnity, "May your path be strewn with roses and your husband meek as Moses." We all put cups to lips when man's voice come loudly from doorway: "Impossible! The roses are all right, but Moses would not stand a ghost of a chance with Dr. Ewing." We turn as one people and behold the Community Doctor (Dr. Wardoff) standing in the doorway, his arms also full of flowers. Our Honored President grow much dignified then she regard Dr. Ewing all of an adorable pinkiness, and she sink within chair and make much silent laughter.
Dr. Ewing take from Dr. Wardoff the flowers he hath brought unto her and cover her pinkiness of face in their blossoms of fragrance.
No. 1 Boy make entrance with yet another bouquet of flowers of so great magnificence and say with much strength of voice, as he present flowers unto the arms of Dr. Ewing: "From the Son of the Consul." Dr. Ewing drop all flowers upon floor. Dr. Wardoff scowl, look see watch and say, "I must be off!" making departure of quickness. We Chinese girls pick up flowers and place them within the arms of Dr. Ewing.
3d Moon - 15th day - This morning the Chinese boys from St. Marks arrive to Confirmation at Chapel. Upon left of aisle-centre they were seated, all Chinese girls, on right.
Eng Muoi receive Confirmation and seem of so great humbleness, Cui Ai, sitting at side whisper to me, "Can the change of heart of Eng Muoi be of everlastingness?" I answer not, being much occupied with view of Honorable Head Master of St. Marks; a man of much magnificence of person.
For the past Moon Eng Muoi hath made offers of lendings, bestowing upon other Chinese girls gifts of hairpins and bracelets and hath been of so great meekness, unlike her disposition of naturalness, that all Chinese girls say, "Unto Eng Muoi hath come the Goddess of Mercy." Now all know it is the God of the foreigner that hath made the difference.
Cui Ai displayed unto me her Beloved Betrothed. A small man he seemed, seated upon the bench before the Honorable Head Master of Magnificence.
We descend upon Chapel-steps one side; other side, descend Cui Ai's Beloved Betrothed and Honorable Head Master.
Miss Sterling say, "Cui Ai, do you wish to hold speech with your Betrothed?" Cui Ai and Beloved Betrothed stand all together before Miss Sterling. Dr. Ewing put hand upon arm of me, stop, say one - two words unto Honorable Head Master. Head Master speak back to her but Look at me. At the once my heart knocketh with so loud beating I have greatest fear that unto the ears of the Honorable Head Master will the sound thereof arrive.
4th Moon - 10th day - Today Dr. Ewing send for me. When I make entrance into Hospital-office Foo Foo bark welcomes and Dr. Ewing say, "Sit down, Moonflower, I have something to tell you." First she make speech of weather, next she make speech of health, last she make speech of Honorable Head Master of St. Marks, Quong Lee. It seemeth the Honorable Head Master of Magnificence having looked upon useless me findeth my uselessness good unto his sight, and hath presented Miss Powers, through Dr. Ewing, an offer of marriage with useless me.
"In America a suitor endeavors to learn if he is acceptable to the girl whom he wishes to marry before he asks her parents for her," Dr. Ewing make explanation. "Quong Lee is a Christian and knows of this custom so he came first to me. He is a fine man and would make you a good husband, Moonflower - what say you?"
Dr. Ewing sit on sofa beside me and smooth hair of useless brow, and look see deep down into my heart of uselessness and find there what I dare not to confess.
Already, when yet a child, I was betrothed to the son of the Exalted Friend of my August Father. Him I have never seen.
All these things I tell unto Dr. Ewing, and she make arrangements that on the morrow I go unto the House of my Mother-in-law there to abide for such a time as it seemeth best, until I behold in secret the face of my Betrothed - for "You shall not marry a man you have never seen; it is not right," say Dr. Ewing.
4th Moon - 16th day - For five days have I dwelt within the House of my Gifted and Capable Mother-in-law who hath for useless me all kindnesses and considerations. My heart of guilt lieth heavy within my breast. Today, in cleaning of House, I give of help unto Capable Mother-in-law and in closet obtain many Idols of uselessness. Long time I think so to say unto Capable Mother-in-law but have much fear. When she say unto me, "Hath the task of the closet come to accomplishment?" I say, "No, not so," and tell to her of foreign cleanliness. "Behold!" I say, and bring to view most filthy and awful Idol, "These are dirty old Idols! Let us cast them forth and clean the closet rightly," I speak on, fear forgetting.
Capable Mother-in-law nod head. I open window and fear returning, throw Idols into garden with great shakiness.
At noise of so loud violence Boy make appearance in garden walking with four legs. One pair, own legs; other pair, wooden legs. Upon his shoulders, also of a difference, sat a head of much bigness. He upward look see. I downward look see. Horror come upon my heart! Capable Mother-in-law at the once close window but I have knowledge that my Betrothed I have now beheld. With him I can never, never to marry. Tonight will I send chit (letter) to Dr. Ewing that she may help me to make departure of quickness from the House of most Gifted and Capable Mother-in-law.
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