China- A Collection of Short Stories by Caroline Maddock Hart
A Collection of Short Stories
By Caroline Maddock Hart
Steve & Terri Crawford, June 1992 Ridgecrest, California
Table of Contents
It Is Wuhu In September
Honeymoon In China
Village Of 99
Wuhu Ho Cheo Honeymoon
Village Near Iche san
She Saved Her Face
The Shantung Guild
The Little Orphan
Ching Tek Cheng
Preface. In June/July 1991 during the Crawford reunion we discovered Grandmother Hart's
wonderful stories for the first time. Seeing their deteriorating condition and realizing their family and
historical significance, we borrowed them from Grandmother Crawford intending to transcribe and
"publish" them for all family groups, e.g., Crawford's, Reynolds, Harts, Eikelmann's, and Greens. With
grandmother's visit this month, we needed to finish this project.
The stories were written in the 1950's and were originally typed by Betty Hart. If not for her efforts
then, these wonderful stories might have been forever lost. This story collection is very close to
Grandmother Hart's proofed copy. Since they were written over a period of time, personal names,
especially Chinese names were often capitalized and hyphenated differently. Therefore the Chinese
names are all the same throughout the book using Virgil Hart pinyin names. As you read through and
enjoy this part of our family's history, please note and contact us about any questions, we can then
research and correct any errors.
The intent is to preserve a part of our family's past. We hope you enjoy these stories as much as we
Steve & Terri Crawford, June 1992
It Is Wuhu In September
Estell below Ichi can, Wuhu, Anhuai
At last my preparation of years were rewarded, for I carried in my pocket a half-read letter that
appointed me to China. That early afternoon in the Spring of 1904 found me hurrying toward the
operating rooms of Chicago's huge Cook County Hospital, at that time said to be the largest charity
hospital in the world. Its patients represented many nationalities, who had unusual diseases and met
with a wide variety of accidents and medical emergencies, I had elected nurse's training there. Its
military-like discipline and long hours had been hard at times to accept, but on that Spring day, all that
was soon to be in the past.
A brief luncheon period and a rush day in surgery had allowed only a glance at the letter, but it was
my uppermost thought as I scrubbed up, put on cap, mask and gown and entered the room where an
operation was already under way. I moved silently to my station and after a few moments, the chief
surgeon, alert always to the personnel and efficiency of his assistants, looked up. He said teasingly,
"So the little red-headed missionary is here to help, looking for all the world as if she had seen a
vision. Just when and where are you going?"
After months of incredulous banter, it was good at last to reply, "I found the letter this noon. It is
Wuhu in September." Keen amusement glanced from eyes above the masks at the euphonious name,
and then silence fell over the swift movements of the three surgeons. Finally, the operation was over.
As I relieved the chief surgeon of his mask and gown, he grumbled, "Lots of need right here. Can't see
why you want to go half-way around the world. You never will find a more deplorable specimen of
disease than our last case. Better reconsider, nurse, and stay here."
His having left gave an opportunity for the intern’s and nurses to gather round me as I snatched the
free moment to finish reading my letter. "Yes, I go to Wuhu in September and I am to have a house of
my own." Dismayed as I grasped the significance, I repeated, "A whole house! What will I do with a
whole house to myself?"
Many times in the next ten years I was to hear other equally bewildered workers put the same
question of the management of a house in the Orient with its endless variations and ramifications.
Those houses were built for spaciousness in hot weather, but were drafty and inadequately heated in
cold and damp seasons. Moth and rust perpetually corrupted furnishings. Large groups of house staff
whose collective faces "must be saved" (spared embarrassment). Always some unenlightened ones
persisted in "the squeeze." Over it all, there is a leisureliness that could never be hustled and bills that
inevitably had to be paid in a currency which was never stable. I have known many persons, who
surmounted the difficulties of their special vocations with signal success, but who quailed under the
irritations of the avocation of maintaining a household.
So, one evening, after having sailed two hundred and fifty miles up the Yangtze River from
Shanghai, I came to my long expected home at Wuhu. A cordial welcome awaited me. During dinner
my Doctor host said casually, "We have engaged three servants for you. You can begin housekeeping
in the morning." I gasped, "I can't even speak a word of Chinese, and why do I need three servants?"
The Doctor resumed, "That will not be hard. Your Chinese teacher has been here for a week. The
quickest way to learn a language is to use it. As to the three servants, you have to have a cook, then
there is a coolie to do many things a cook will not do and for your own room and washing an older
woman is essential. She will give respectability to a young unmarried woman living alone." I silently
The next afternoon the doctor and his wife had some calls away from the compound, so they left on
my doorstep for tea an unexpected guest. He was a Scotsman, a man long in China, who came from
that mysterious place, the Interior. I had never heard of him before and never saw him again, but I
have blessed my fortunate stars that he came my way that day. Over our scones and tea he humorously
said, "Do not let the household set-up vex you, Miss Maddock. Many women, and men too, worry
because they cannot hurry the Oriental. When you are tempted to say, 'In America one servant does all
these things,' remember that out here you pay your cook ten pennies a day. When you think of that
pittance be content with his nickel bit of work." He showed me too, how easily I could be diverted
from my real reason for coming to China and, that wherever possible, I should hand unimportant details
to others, leaving me to give attention to the specialized type of service for which my Mission had sent
me to this strange land.
So I accepted the house and the three servants. Three years later I married Dr. Hart, a widower
with five children, and our household staff was increased to nine.
Our compound was unique in that it was a rocky promontory that rises one hundred feet above the
Yangtze. It was indeed "a place by the side of the road," only the road's pavement was two miles of
muddy water flowing three miles an hour between its shores. Of that mud, W. Robert Moore says, "It
is estimated that the Yangtze dumps into the Yellow Sea 400,000,000 tons of mud annually."
The Chinese from time immemorial have saved their lives by drinking tea. Tea making cannot be
done by using warm water, which they call "reh shui," but must be done by vigorously boiling water
called "kai shui." Kai is the word for "to open." It is only when the bubbles gather and burst, of kai, on
the surface that the water is safe to drink. The muddy taste is offset by the addition of tea leaves. I
once, while having walked the dike, stopped to talk to a flood refugee who lived in a tea-matting shelter
scarcely thirty inches high and not broad enough to protect feet and head at the same time. With
imperturbable calm in calamity she was coaxing water to boil over a bonfire of leaves and grass and
with innate hospitality she said. "The water has now opened. Please have a cup of tea."
The river with its slow current seemed deceptively peaceful on fair windless days, but many a
sorrow lay hidden in its mighty stream. When high water came in late summer we had a rise of twenty
seven feet at Wuhu. Often dikes were broken and crops destroyed. There was one channel off our hill
where a Navy Captain said that his chain ran one hundred and eighty feet and had not found bottom.
One day, when two native junks collided, the one bound up-river sank, masts, sails, hulk and
passengers, never to be seen again. Another time I watched with horror while a venturesome ferry-boat
essayed to cross when all other boats were tied up by boisterous weather. It was overturned and of its
forty eight passengers, only six were saved. Our children were never for a moment away from the
guardianship of an older person. And still, with all its hazards, this great highway of traffic was our
On clear days the elevation of our compound gave us a view across the river to mountains four
thousand feet high which housed vast quantities of un-mined coal. We looked down river to Si Ho
shan (Dead Priest's Hill) where many years later the Japanese sank our gallant American gun-boat, the
Wuhu was an old walled city with a population of over one hundred thousand persons. It was the
largest rice shipping center in the world. It also exported soy bean products, silk, sesame oil, dried
eggs and wrought iron works. Its iron flowers were famous throughout the Empire. I have often seen
thirty ocean-going vessels lay in port at one time. Its landmark, the Wuhu Pagoda, said to be the oldest
in China, had stood for thirteen centuries. Legend had it that on New Year's Eve all the other pagodas
came to pay it homage.
Wuhu Harbor and Pagoda in background with cross river ferry
This great river highway brought much of interest into our daily lives. My marriage to Dr. Hart added
a wealth of his old friends and associations. He was born in Kiukiang above Wuhu on the Yangtze,
and had lived there until he went to America for college and medical training. The officers on all the
passenger boats knew him from boyhood. At that time, the British, French and German ships were in
regular service on the river as well as the China Merchant Marine. At the time of our Civil War
American shipping largely retired from Eastern inland waters, but a few of the old Yankee skippers
remained. One of these was brought to the hospital one morning with Cholera. After forty years he
had let his desire for fresh fruit override his prudence, and had eaten a pear bought on the street.
Twelve hours later he died.
In later years, refrigerator steamers half loaded with shad from Vladivostok would put into Wuhu
and fill the rest of their holds with duck and pheasant for the London market.
There were native junks engaged in inland traffic on the small tributaries of the river. Often these,
loaded with pilgrims going to one of China's sacred mountains, passed, headed upstream with singing,
the clamor of ancient musical instruments and squawks of fowls being made propitiatory offerings for
fair sailing around the hill.
Doubly welcomed were our American gun-boats on the Asiatic station. Many of the officers, then
young in the service, have since risen to the highest rank in the Navy. Ships of light draft such as the
Villalobos, the Quiros and the Panay operated at all times of the year. In the high water seasons old
veterans like the Wisconsin and Helena came too.
I remember one August with its terrific heat when the doctors had been called by emergencies to
other ports. I was the only foreigner on the Hill. For two days I had lain weak and feverish with one of
the many oriental diseases, and had come in my pain and loneliness to feel that I would never recover.
My old Amah sat beside me saying, "Aiya, Aiya." Suddenly I heard music, band music. The strains
sounded heavenly. Weakly, I thought, "This is delirium, this can only be a fiction of a sick mind, the
end cannot be far away." The insistent air made me drag myself to the shuttered window. There off
the Hill lay the Wisconsin, The Stars and Stripes waving from her mast and her band playing in
serenade. "Hurry," I called to the Amah, "Hurry, tell the gate-man to dip our flag." This was Home,
this was American soil! My recovery dated from that hour.
Hospitality was mandatory as well as a delightful oasis in the day's work. Outside of a few large
port cities, there were no hotel accommodations for foreigners. Our mode of life required helpers. I
daily gratefully acknowledged the need for a competent staff.
"What in the world did so many servants do?" I am often asked. The only difference is that in
America we never see so many of those who serve us. Think of our water supplies, our hydraulic
engineers, the great storage reservoirs, the chemists who protect the purity of the water and the
architects who pipe it in to our dwellings. The admiring wondering Chinese call it. "Silai tihhsui," the
self-arriving water. At Wuhu the water carrier, Lao Liang, went down the one hundred foot hill and
filled his buckets from that silt-laden river whose heavy mud content I spoke of earlier. Balancing his
two buckets on a carrying pole, he climbed half-way up the path and emptied them into the "Kangs,"
which were great glazed earthen-ware jars. Then, by stirring generous amounts of alum into the water,
the silt was caused to settle to the bottom. Later he dipped the cleared water into clean buckets and
carried them up to the kitchen Kangs. From there it was boiled and filtered for household use. This
preparation of the water was one man's work. In the great heat of the summer several men worked day
and night at this one task. You awoke in the morning to the chant of the water carriers as they
shouldered their heavy loads.
Hsa Si Fu was our cook. As the Chinese say, raising the hand while doubling the four fingers into
the palm and leaving the thumb extended, "He was the head Man." He was usually the go-between for
complaints from the other servants. Even if they came to us directly, we usually called him in. His
advice was sought, too, to employ new servants, for nowhere on earth are the old clan, neighborhood
and guild systems so widely observed. Hsa Si Fu went to the street and changed money into whatever
currency was needed. From farmers he bought eggs, chickens and vegetables which were to be
cooked. We never ate raw vegetables and fruits except those carefully supervised in our compound
gardens. Fish was bought during the cold months but never in the Cholera season. They were always
brought to the kitchen door swimming alive in buckets of water. As cook, Hsa Si Fu baked bread, pies
and cakes besides all the other dishes. Any servant, who accompanied a guest, was importuned for
fresh ideas in cooking. I recall a Bishop's cook, who could make excellent cream puffs. For days after
the Bishop's departure we had cream puffs with every dinner until our cook had acquired the skill. Hsa
joyously welcomed guests either expected or surprise. He was my cook before I was married, he went
with us on our one thousand mile honeymoon trip in our house-boat and he was the last of all those
faithful to close the doors of the empty house with me at midnight, when I came away for the last time.
By lantern light he guided my tired foot steps down the hill to the houseboat where Wang Si Muh had
hours before taken my little children. Hsa went with me to Shang-hai and helped in a hundred ways
until the boat weighed anchor for America. Nine years later, when he heard that my two step-daughters
returned to China, he left his work, traveled three hundred miles to Shanghai and waited till their boat
docked to see if he might serve the house of Hart once more.
Hsa Si Fu: Cook for the The Estella sailboat
Chang Si Fu did all of the laundry. From May until October everyone wore white and changed
often. Wuhu had no cleaning establishments so sponging and pressing also fell to him. Guests, who
were perennial, always were glad to be freshened up by Chang. He had a small octagonal room at the
top of the Hill with windows on all sides. Here he rubbed and watched the river traffic, ironed
clothing, table and bed linens and saw that fresh long gowns were ready for the other help. In times of
stress he was competent to assist in cooking or table service.
Song Teh Shao was our table boy. He kept the living rooms and study in order and set the table and
waited on us at meals. He had learned little peculiarities of service such as, the British liking a spoon
and fork for dessert. If in doubt, he would ask if the guests were European or American. Teh Shao
washed the dishes and silver and accounted for every piece of silver each night. He opened the door
for guests and served afternoon tea. Chinese guests, at any hour of the day, always expected
Lao Pan was our coolie. He was a protégé of the cooks and was so simple that once taught one way
of doing a task, never had ingenuity enough to devise another method. He daily washed all of the
Ningpo varnished floors. That lovely varnish, which with all our use and abuse, retained its high luster
for years. It is the varnish that requires two months in damp weather to dry. Lao Pan cleaned the
lamps and lanterns. No matter how brilliant the moonlight, it was not respectable to go out without
lantern bearers. He washed windows, swept walks and cleaned shoes. Then there was always bath
water to be carried in or dipped out of the tubs. He had keys to the locks on the rain water Kangs at the
four corners of our house. If any presumptuous soul took a dipper of that water, when the lock was off,
Lao Pan would yell like a mad-man. He was everybody's lackey and worked hard for enough dowry
money to acquire a wife. When I first saw his chosen one, she was perched on a stool, quite the
homeliest person I had ever seen. Yet he pointed with pride and said, "See her little feet!" As I look
back on it now, those helpless women tottering about on their bound feet, seem to have reached the
ultimate in slavery fashion. We gave Lao Pan's pathetic wife the task of mending.
Cheng Tsai Feng was the tailor. We acquired his services by degrees; at first, to make my modest
trousseau and later to tailor all of Dr. Hart's suits, the family coats and clothing. Then there were
always slip-covers and drapes to be made. My two beautiful silk gowns made in Chinese style from a
roll of "tribute silk" given Dr. Hart by a son of Li Hung Chang, were made by Cheng. After forty
years, those same gowns are still worn as hostess gowns by my daughters.
Many persons, especially in hot weather, used the Chinese cut and materials. The lovely grass
linens were a favorite for informal summer wear. The Chinese are quite ingenuous in meeting the
fearful heat and at the same time being formal. I remember once in crossing the wide hall, that the
front porch was crowded with callers. I said to Teh Shao, "There are guests at the door." "I know," he
said, "but they have not officially arrived." As I watched from my screened end of the hall, I saw the
men wore cleverly woven mesh shirts of fine bamboo cane. After wiping face, neck and arms with
damp towels, they were assisted into fine silk gowns which their bamboo undervests protected from
moisture. Then, taking their fans, the servants announced them as arrived.
Wang Si Muh, a very fine woman who spoke a good Mandarin, cared for the children. As I have
pointed out earlier, because of river hazards and also because of hundreds of patients came to the
hospital with serious diseases, the children were under constant supervision.
Our final servant was a man who cared for Dr. Hart's horse.
As wages were then we sometimes paid more than others for our helpers. Rather spoiled the
custom some old-timers reminded us. Records packed after leaving China thirty five years ago,
remained stored because of other more pressing work through the years. I exhumed them recently and
they show that:
Hsa Si Fu, the cook, received $10.00 Max. per month
Chang Si Fu, the laundry man 8.00 " " "
Song Teh Shao, table boy 5.00 " " "
Lao Pan, coolie 4.00 " " "
Lao Pan's wife, mending 3.00 " " "
Cheng Tsai Feng, tailor 12.00 " " "
Lao Liang, water carrier 4.00 " " "
Wang Si Muh, A-mah 6.00 " " "
Yard man 4.00 " " "
In 1912 the Gold standard for $56 Mexican would amount to approximately $27 in U. S. Currency. To
add to the embarrassment of recording these sums, our help ate native food entirely, which they bought
and prepared. However, their living quarters were furnished by us. We had the services of nine
persons for $27 Gold a month! I blush to record this.
Our sources of food supply were many. We had no refrigeration. In cold weather this was not so
great a hardship but during the long summer months, eternal vigilance was the price of living. No meat
was ever served a second time. Indeed, in hot weather our only meat came in tins. Chicken was
always available and sometimes a short walk from the Hill with a gun, would add snipe or duck to our
fare. Between May and October, which was cholera season, we never ate fish. In cold weather our
Wuhu Compradore Chun Yik, supplied us with beef (which might be water-buffalo) and good mutton.
His pass-book, exhumed from oblivion this year, shows a purchase of a seven and one half pound leg
of mutton for $ .72 (72 cents) Mexican! On imported goods his prices were exorbitant. Once there
was a charge of $11.25 Mex. for one case of forty eight tins of milk. By buying it directly from abroad,
we paid only $4.75 Mex. per case, in one hundred case lots. Four thousand eight hundred tins of milk
were quite a store, but many others were glad to share in the purchase at the lower price. There was no
pasturage in China away from the mountain resorts and, therefore, fresh milk was unobtainable.
Most Americans at that time, bought all of their staples from a store in San Francisco which catered
to Oriental trade and packed its goods to insure safe delivery. When the catalogs came out in the
Spring it was recognized social occasion to gather at some home, spread the dining table to its fullest
and explore the next year grocery lists. All of these things could have been bought in Shanghai but at
increased prices. Therefore, from San Francisco came most of our canned goods, our dried fruits and
vegetables, our jams, tinned meats and fish. We ordered several hams and sides of bacon, huge
cheeses, coffee, flour, cereal, raisins, and always citron and lemon peels for the Christmas cakes and
puddings. The seasonal preparation of these was a rite in which every member of the household
shared. Many loaves were packed away to last from Thanksgiving until Easter. Though sent in the
Spring, the orders were not filled until new fall stocks were in and they did not reach us until late
October. Then again all participated in opening, checking and storing, for this meant most of our meals
until the next May.
A tea buyer came from a New York importing house to Hankow during the tea picking season. He
too, was an old family friend and through him we bought our year's supply of tea. We chose a rich
amber Keemun. It was perfectly beautiful when poured, even though this adjective is not prescribed
for food. We bought a white tea for Chinese use, some of it with the jasmine flower in it. Tea came in
three and one half pound boxes and weighed a Chinese "catty." Often the weight has been confused
with the container and corrupted by us to a "tea-caddie."
Great Britain was our market for pie-plant, orange marmalade and black currant jam. From there,
too, came pickled herring, Finland haddock and occasionally a small Wiltshire ham. Then there were
the tea biscuits from Huntley Palmer's, sealed in two pound tins, and the various chutneys, of which
Major Grey's seemed the favorite. Every old far-Easterner aspired to the invention of his own chutney
recipe, rich in mangoes, raisins, ginger root and spices.
Sugar came from Hong Kong although grown in the Philippines. In cool weather the butter sent
from Australia was packed fifty-six one pound bricks to the box but the lack of refrigeration in warm
weather compelled us to buy either French or Danish butter in one pound tins. Reduced to an oily
liquid, we served it in tiny bowls and just "dunked" our bread.
For the hot six months the usual fare was chicken. Every householder, either man or woman,
sought eagerly for new ways to present this fowl to tempt jaded appetites. They carefully hoarded any
special method of preparation and exalted when guests were surprised. Hsa Si Fu de-boned chickens,
then dressed and roasted them. When strangers came he lingered near the dining room door to hear the
ripple of excitement as Dr. Hart commenced to carve across the breast. Another delicious variation
resulted from separating the meat from bones and skin and grinding it fine. Then, adding seasoning of
salt, pepper, lemon juice, grated lemon rind, a trace of nutmeg, mace and flour enough to make a
cohesive roll, he would steam it slowly in a pudding cloth resting on the bones but clear of the water. It
was a gourmet's dream.
I always wondered, until I went to China, just what "Pilau" was which Joseph Sedley in "Vanity
Fair" insisted upon making for Becky Sharp. Even, after I learned the formula, I was dubious about
eating it. After one trial it became a favorite. For this, rice was boiled to preserve the kernels, raisins
were fluffed up in boiling water, small cubes of bread were toasted and white fish boiled and flaked.
After mixing all those ingredients, they were sautéed in hot butter until golden brown. Served with
chutneys, coconut, spiced fruits and mustard, it was really delicious.
There were many varieties of rice and for a limited season each year, an especially gluttonous kind
might be bought. It was called, quite descriptively, if not ecstatically, "lily-foot" rice. This rice was
enclosed in a woven reed container shaped like a woman's shoe. After boiling, each person
disentangled the reeds and ate the gluttonous mass. The reed gave a peculiar flavor but, while Dr. Hart
and the children welcomed it, I never indulged a second time.
Many strictly Chinese foods like water chestnuts, lotus seeds and bamboo shoots made for variety.
Duck and pheasant were plentiful and cheap during their season. Peanuts, oranges and pumelo were
eaten by all. Oranges came in great variety from tiny kumquats to large and luscious Mandarin.
We were constantly welcoming expected and unexpected guests. There were no foreign hotels
outside of the coast cities, so we were careful to entertain strangers and often found them angels
unaware. Many times I blessed the canny advice of my Scot caller and thanked Providence for a well
trained staff. Our guests were a delightful tie with the outside world, but there always remained, as Sir
Anthony Eden once aptly put it. "A job of work to be done." That job of work was crowding our
elbows twenty four hours of every day. It was our reason for being in China and with our colleagues,
we shared it, and no hour found it absent from our concern. The great river brought many a traveler of
delight to our door, never on schedule, for time and tide, storms and cargoes determined the
movements of all boats. We thought in terms of boat transit so much that long after we were back in
Chicago and taking a suburban train, one of the children might ask, "When do we sail?"
About two o'clock one night a telegram arrived from Kiukiang, a day's trip West on the river,
asking us to tell Mrs. X, the wife of an American Army Colonel in Manila, that she could not proceed
to visit her friends in Kiukiang but must leave the upriver steamer at Wuhu. Sudden riots had flared up
in Kiukiang and all local foreigners had taken refuge on gun-boats off shore. A bitter winter storm
buffeted our little boat as it made its hour long trip to the Company's bulk but it required a harder effort
for a lady to be awakened and to hastily disembark in an utterly unheard of place, even though the
Captain assured her it was all right.
Another time a telegram was delayed two days in delivery. When it came the boat was already in
sight. The Bishop had sent word from Hankow saying, he could not sanction a young couple, new to
the Orient, trying to make the trip up through the gorges at that time of year. Would we please
entertain them for nine months until travel was better? Dr. Hart was operating and an attendant read
him the telegram. After ordering a man to hurry and meet the steamer with a sam-pan, he sent a
message asking me to devise some way to take them in. I canvassed the possibilities. Temporarily,
while I hoped for a new nurse to take my old suite of rooms in the hospital, we had used them for our
school. I sent a note to the teacher who told her pupils to each carry their desk and books and set up
school on our front porch. Faithful helpers took furniture from storage, made beds and hung curtains.
When the sampan arrived, we met our unknowing guests as if we had a week to prepare.
As I sort these old papers, packed long ago, I find all sorts of forgotten treasures and reminders of
happy though hectic days. I have pasted into the book, "The Break-up of China", letters of appreciation
from the author and signed briefly, "Beresford", others, too, from his secretary, Robin Gray. A letter
from our American Legation at Peking says, "Dear Dr. Hart, I enjoyed my stay with you last year so
greatly, that I have decided to ask if Mrs. Conger and her niece may visit you for a week or two."
The last guest we entertained was a member of the Swedish Army Engineering Corps. He was in
charge of the Whangpoo Conservancy Board, which kept open the harbor at Shanghai. I earlier
mentioned the terrific load of silt carried down the Yangtze each year. Shanghai was at that time, in
point of tonnage, the second largest shipping port in the world. Situated on the Whangpoo River a few
miles from the mouth of the Yangtze, the bar, caused by sediment, constituted a very difficult
engineering problem. When Dr. Hart told me Mr. Von Heidenstam might come to advise on local
flood prevention work near Wuhu, if we would entertain him, I was overwhelmed. For months we had
a succession of guests and my youngest child was only a few weeks old. I protested, but he came.
Each day he worked tirelessly surveying the needs. I might add that his prescribed methods of dike
repair and flood control held for years.
My worries about entertainment were needless for at dinner and into the evening we listened
enthralled as he told of methods used in far places where he had been. Feats of engineering on the
Thames, Mississippi, the Nile at Asswan and on the Euphrates. In return, he was delighted with Hsa Si
Fu's boned chicken with water chestnut dressing. He relished the snipe so common in our Wuhu
marshes. We served him chicken roll, nut bread, pop-overs and all the other hot breads that Hsa had
mastered. Our guest constantly penciled recipes in a little notebook and just as assiduously
embarrassed me because so often I had to move about, thus causing him to spring to his feet at
Such delightful, varied and charming people! I wonder often where their paths have led them these
Just this week my friendly mailman exclaimed before I reached the door, "This is the first time I
have seen a letter with sixty thousand dollars worth of postage on it." It was an Air Mail from Wuhu.
As I looked at the sixty thousand dollars in postage, I wondered how I would ever struggle with the
Chinese inflation of 1948, when it seemed insurmountable thirty five years ago. I am forced to admit
that living was considerably cheaper in those days! though let me tell of some of my struggles with
exchange. Food, work and goods had to be paid for varying currencies caused suspense and surprise.
The Chinese coined copper money in the time of Abraham. The familiar cash piece with the hole
for convenience in stringing, dates back three thousand years. They have used the decimal system for
that long also, not only in money, but in weights and long and land measurements. The Arabians
brought in the use of silver. The largest denomination is called a Tael, which is one and one half
ounces by weight. It is not a minted coin, just a term. In some regions persons carried a chunk of
silver from which they would chop off a part and weigh it on the small scale always carried with them
for this purpose. In some of the Southern Port cities small silver coins about the size of our dimes and
quarters were minted. Their values were based on the money table:
10 li (cash) make 1 candareen
10 candareen " 1 mace
10 mace " 1 Tael
I have a dime sized coin marked 72 candareens and another of the same size marked 1 mace and 14
candareens. When first in China, I so often distinguished the idiom at ie phrase "cha puh dou" which I
learned meant, "not quite, just about." This flexibility seems to carry over into the monetary values
which are not exact but "just about."
Upon arrival in China, I was advised to open an account at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking
Corporation. There I was paid $2.07 Mexican for each gold dollar deposited. During my residence I
saw exchange vary from $2.05 to $2.18 Mexican. We always waited expectantly to learn at what rate
our Mission Treasurer would exchange our Quarterly compensation.
But that was just the beginning. We would give the cook a check in Mexican which he exchanged
into cash for local buying. Here again there was fluctuation, all the way from 998 cash to over 2000 for
one Mexican dollar. Our Winter's coal and wood were paid for in Spanish dollars. My old check
books show that when we paid forty-seven cents gold for a Mexican dollar, the Spanish dollar cost
fifty-nine cents gold. At times, when we imported goods from abroad, we had to pay the Imperial
custom's duty in Taels. I found two checks, written consecutively dated on the same day, the one that
paid the import tax to the Government, cost $1.03 Mexican per Tael, and the other to pay the shipping
company for carrying the cargo from Shanghai to Wuhu, was in Shanghai Taels and cost $1.29
Mexican each. Our method was to write a check for the particular Tael specified and later the bank
sent a note tallying the differences.
Marco Polo spoke of bank notes in his "travels", and the British Museum is said to have one from
China dated three hundred years before they were used in Europe. The only time we used bank notes
was in paying chair and baggage coolies in going up to Kuling, our mountain summer resort. These
coolies would accept nothing but 100 cash notes.
The last night in Wuhu, two months after Dr. Hart's death from the dreaded Typhus Fever, Hsa Si
Fu and I stood in the dim lantern light. He said, "We must still 'suan kiang'." (Take accounts) I
protested that I was quite satisfied and knew that there had been no time to listen to the accounting for
money used in household expenses, but there again the 'kue chi' (established custom) prevailed. The
cook's face would be lost if he did not render a statement for money advanced. In all, fifty-two
thousand cash were involved. Like a good steward, Hsa made his reckoning. The door closed on a
decade of constant surprises and baffled feeling that ten times ten years would never exhaust the
infinite variety of the Orient. That exchange between the East and the West varied in far more ways
that in currency. That perhaps in their endurance in calamity, in their frugality, in their reserve and
their refusal to be rushed, they have much to teach us. In the vital things, such as the "open water" for
their tea, may they always be watchful, and may the door to helpful intercourse between countries
always be "Kai."
Early in the spring of 1907, we decided we would be married in October of that year. It was our
plan to defer our vacations until fall and not before spring; I was entitled to mine with pay, so this
would provide the clearance of any debt incurred in my training days, and in buying my outfit for
Happily a young couple destined for West China, came to stay at Wuhu until Autumn, when
making the trip up the Rapids was safer for a young mother. She, therefore, provided chaperonage, so I
would not be alone on the Hill with Edgerton, Jr..
Before the River level fell too low, Edgerton had a trench dug, and floated the houseboat ashore.
There, it was stayed up, as in dry-dock, and thoroughly caulked, and later painted. As nearly as I can
estimate, the boat was from 42 to 50 feet long and ten to twelve feet wide. It was flat-bottomed and
drew four feet of water. Because often it was used in tributary creeks, the boat draft was made for
navigating in shallow water.
Hart Children on Estella sailboat Interior view of Estella with
Caroline & Dr. Edgerton
Forward, there was a deck about ten feet long and just where it met the cabin, the mast was
centered. The cabin, down four steps from the deck, had a double bunk on the port side and single
bunk Starboard, with storage drawers beneath these. A chest of drawers, a drop leaf table, and a few
chairs were the furniture. Racks lined the sides beneath the port holes. Opening from the cabin, a
small bath-room and a tiny kitchen with its dishes all in racks. On a raised place, the smallest wood
cook stove stood, which the cook made to perform miracles, including the sterilizing of the river water
daily for our household needs. The deck aft, had the great sweep-oar set on its support and operated
through the center of the stern, as is done in sculling. It was used, too, as steering blade when under
sail. It was called a "YA LU", and when used to propel the boat needed several men to handle it. The
aft-deck boards were lifted at night, and the crew slept below, bolting the boards down tight, while at
The large square sail had slots at intervals and was hung to the mast near the center of the top.
Sometimes, we sat on top of the cabin, but we were watchful for wind shifts lest we be swept off by the
veering of the sail. After the outside of the boat was caulked and painted, the upper part of the cabin
inside was painted white, and the lower part Ningpo varnish.
I might say here, that years before, some one in America had given money to Dr. Virgil Hart to buy
a boat upon which to itinerant. Dr. V. C. Hart first bought from a sportsman in Shang-hai, a beautiful
boat, which he named the "Stella." However, the Stella's draft was too deep, and her lines too slender
for use in shallow streams.
The Stella was sold and four house boats purchased, broad in beam and only four feet in draft.
Three were used in the districts by evangelists, and the other one belonged to the hospital. The
Hospital boat was always maintained in good condition and as a source of revenue, was at times rented
to outsiders for trips into the interior.
The 1907 summer was very hot, and a very bad Cholera season. I stood at my hospital window,
one morning, looking down the foreshore towards the city. The cook told me that in the area I could
see from my rooms, the night before, twenty persons had lain down and died of Cholera.
That summer too, we had several foreign patients, from the Customs, business firms, and the
foreign navies, as well as missionaries.
As ours was a General Hospital, I had not been able to train women nurses along with the men. So,
for any foreign women patients, I had to supervise their care. Up to the 24th of October, I could not be
sure I would be able to leave, as our French lady still awaited discharge.
I should have liked to have been married at Wuhu, but our Doctor and wife were new to China, and
had a small baby, so it seemed too much to ask her to do.
Early in the spring, I asked my sisters to have made a traveling suit, and dress for receptions -
These with hats, gloves, and shoes, Dr. Mary Stone brought out with her, when she returned from
America. My sisters also had an engraving plate made leaving date of marriage vacant, and of these
Dr. Stone brought two hundred to China. Later, when I cabled home the date and place, the engraving
was finished for those which my parents sent out in America.
The place of marriage as well as time remained uncertain.
Captain Perrill, of the American Gunboat "Quiros," was a frequent dinner guest of ours. He urged
us to be married on his boat, which would be "American Soil." It might be at Wuhu or at Nanking.
Our marriage had to be made in the presence of the American Council. Just at that time the Council
had to go to another Station, and Judge McNally took his place. Then, later, Captain Perrill was
transferred, so a "Quiros" service was impossible.
Early, too, in the summer, Mrs. George Stuart, whose husband was President of Nanking
University, wrote to me. She said they wished to observe their twenty-fifth anniversary, and that they
would be glad to have us come to their home and be married at that time. I felt keenly the kindness of
Dr. and Mrs. Stuart. I had gone to China with them in 1904. I had visited in their home for a week in
1905, when I had the privilege of seeing the historical places in that great city. But, at the same time.
for this great event in my life, I did long for an hour which should belong to Edgerton and me, alone.
On the afternoon of October 24th, my patient recovered, and her family came by launch and took
For the first time I was sure I could be married on time.
At once we had the "Lau teh" call his crew of three men and get the boat ready to sail. I had my
own table linens and silver and the tea set Captain Hogg had given me, put on board. Also, my dinner
set of China, my cha fing dish, trays, and small things to create a home atmosphere in this our first
home, were hurriedly sent down - along with my trunk and steamer rugs. The boatman set sail, at once,
so as to be sure to meet us at Hsa Kvan, which was the river port six miles from Nanking.
Then, I set hospital affairs in my department in order for my month's absence. This work kept me
until late in the night. I then lay down without having undressed to snatch some sleep, until the
watchman would call that the boat was in sight. On clear nights, we could see the mast lights, miles
away, across a bend in the river. This gave us an hour to row up to the Hulk from the Hill.
I can still smell the fumes from the old kerosene lamp, swinging above the dining table in that old
China Merchant steamer, as I entered about three o'clock in the morning. Hsa Si Fu, my cook, put my
bags in my cabin, as he was to go to Nanking with me, and to be our cook on the houseboat. The
laundry man came down with Edgerton the next day, and acted as "boy" for our voyage. Our other
combined servants remained on the hill in charge of our house. We had to pay our staff, so there was
every reason to have help. Now, in 1957, in retrospect, it seems a very luxurious way to live.
I bade goodbye to my hospital suite, a sweet place, that had been heaven and home for two years.
When Edgerton waved "goodbye" from the sam-pan going back to the hill, and the boat started down
river, I went back to the empty dining room table. There, I spread out my engraved announcements
and for the next few hours crossed out the place "Wuhu" and wrote in Nanking. I also put in the date
October twenty six and addressed the envelopes.
Then I went to my cabin and brushed up for breakfast... and Nanking.
At Nanking Hsa Si Fu called a rickety old carriage and putting the bags in we started for the city.
On the way we stopped at the American Consulate and left a letter for Judge McNally about our
marriage the next day. I never can forget that mad ride past the Drum Tower. The mafoo lashed his
horse and we careened down the hill past the Christian Mission Compound, barely avoiding spilling
any and all bags on the road-side.
I went first to the Stuart's where I left my bags, but she was not home. I then went to the Wilson's,
the wife of our Mission Treasurer. Later, hearing that the Rowe's were back from America, and knew
they had seen my Chicago family, I took a ricksha and went across town to see them. The Rowe's were
just back from furlough and some of their baggage was delayed. A fearful storm blew up and my
ricksha man wouldn't come out to take me back to the Stuart home. So we sent a message, and again I
lay down without having undressed on a mattress and covered myself with my coat.
In the morning I returned to the Stuart's who had a large family and a large house. As President of
the College he often had to entertain guests. They also took in four unmarried young persons into their
home. They had a circular dining table that seated eighteen persons.
All day the household was busy - tailors trying to finish clothes for the children; rooms being
prepared for the evening reception, which included all the foreign community; of business, customs,
Councilor as well as missionaries. My bedroom opened at a corner of the house, by French windows
onto an outside galley. Servants wandered in bringing things to store. Dr. Stuart came in one time with
an arm load of books. There seemed no leisure or place for preparations for the evening ahead. At the
great round dinner table, Dr. Stuart told me I had a caller in his study. There to my great joy and relief
I found Edgerton. He had just come from the Japanese Steamer, the only down-river boat that day. He
had sent a message that he would be a passenger. Any other line, British, French, German, or China
Merchants, would have held their boat for him, but not the Japanese. They were underway, and he had
to take a rope, flung to his sampan, and go up the "Jacob's Ladder" over the side.
I told Edgerton again, how I wanted an hour just our own. I wanted to go quietly that afternoon
with Dr. Beebe and one or two close friends, to the American Consulate and there be married, then
later that evening see all the friends at Dr. Stuart's. Edgerton went on to Dr. Beebe's, and ___ came
with Edgerton. They were sure if we went to the Consulate, the whole community would rise up and
also go. So, we gave it up.
All day long Miss Laura White, head of the Music Faculty at the university, played over and again
Wedding Marches. Later that evening, when Dr. Stuart took me in, on his arm, to meet Edgerton, Miss
White played the Mendelssohn's March from Midsummer Night's Dream.
There was to be no meal served at the Stuart home that evening. So, Dr. Beebe, invited Edgerton
and me to dinner at his home. He was a widower, living alone, but had kept the beautifully trained
staff of servants Mrs. Beebe had around for years. It was a quiet, serene, beautifully restful hour after
the hurry and confused day. His grounds were separated from the Hospital Compound by a high brick
wall. This was ground and buildings Father Hart had secured money for, and built. Dr. Beebe was Dr.
Virgil Hart's dear friend. He once said, "Dr. Virgil C. Hart was the most cultured gentleman, the most
conscientious worker, the most Christian Scholar, the rarest of spirit, I have met in my many years in
China." Dr. Beebe had opened his arms and his heart to Edgerton when he came back to China. We
opened the gate that evening, and followed the brick walk in the misty rain that fell. A most lovely
fragrance followed our every step. A fragrance we found later that came from thousands of English
violets in the bed against the wall - They were double, and had stems over twelve inches long, carrying
the color into the stem.
Several weeks of rainy weather had beaten down all garden blossoms. But, Dr. Beebe had gathered
a huge bunch of these blooms, quite ten or twelve inched across, and these I carried that night.
All the years after that, whenever Edgerton went to Nanking, Dr. Beebe gave him violets to bring to
me. He was a princely man with Dr. Houghton and one or two others, one of our dearest friends.
The dinner was perfectly planned and served. That quiet hour was never forgotten resting like a
benediction on my tired spirit.
After dinner, we went back for Dr. and Mrs. Stuart's reception. I moved about in the crowded
rooms until about half past nine, seeing Edgerton across the rooms at times, also talking to others.
Both of us in hearts longing for the time to come when we might do as we pleased. Then I went
towards the door, meeting Edgerton, who said low, "You will not fail me." It was our first word in that
crowded room that night.
I went on upstairs, and refreshed my face and hair, and then down to find Dr. Stuart waiting for
me. As Miss White played Mendelssohn, the Wedding March from Midsummer Night's Dream, Dr.
Stuart led me in, and then Dr. Beebe had the service.
It was the twenty sixth day of October, 1907. We had just been united in marriage by Dr. Robert
Beebe, at the home of Dr. and Mrs. George Stuart in the City of Nanking, and in the official presence
of Judge McNally, United States Council at Nanking.
Honeymoon In China
It was the occasion of the Silver Wedding Anniversary of Dr. and Mrs. Stuart. So, all the Nanking
community were there. I was glad to leave the laughing, loving, well-wishing group and find ourselves
at least in a rickety old carriage headed for Hsa Kuan and the house boat. The treasurer of the City had
sent the Key to the Gate of the Wall, in care of messengers, we went through the gate, and down to the
Yangtze, were we found our house boat. The boatmen pulled up anchor, lifted sail, and we were off,
for a thousand miles of play.
It seemed unbelievable that work would be set aside for a whole month, with nothing to do but idly
sit on deck and drift before the wind.
In my fondest imaginings, I can think of nothing more ideally exhilarating than the feel of wind, in
a sail, and cutting through running water, long lazy days in the most perfect time of year, late October
and November, on the lower Yangtze and Boyang Lake.
In March, we had ordered much of our food for our trip, from San Francisco and England, from
Denmark, we had butter in tins. We added duck, snipe, chicken, and fish at local stops. Our cook, Hsa
Si Fu was with us, and he carefully guarded the safety of water and food.
We had not a care in the world. Before dark each evening, Edgerton and Cheo Lao Ban selected a
place of anchorage away from nests of pirates. For pirates did exist and did still descend on unwary
boatmen to rob and mistreat them. When sailing, we carried the American flag at the mast, and that
helped as a deterrent to assault.
Village of 99
I wish now I had kept a journal of dates and places, but I was so tired with my hard year's work,
that I never looked toward this day when it would have meant so much.
One evening between Wuhu and Anking, we anchored on the east shore of the Yangtze to avoid a
nest of pirates on the south side. We were near a little village, and very soon the villagers came down
to the boat. Our old Cheo Lau Ban was there, as always, feeling important with his parsonages.
"Where are your honorable roots?" The people asked. Cheo Lao Ban quickly replied, "Do you not
know that this is the great Dr. Hart. Why he is so distinguished, he thinks nothing of cutting off your
leg if it is crooked and putting it on again in a straight line." Edgerton protested modestly that Cheo's
praise was over zealous. We then listened to questions; "Could he make the blind see?" "Could he
make the lame walk?"
Edgerton finally asked how many there were in the village. There were ninety-nine. While Cheo
had boasted, Edgerton had counted; so he asked, "Where is the other honorable head? There are only
ninety-eight here." So they said, "One had been left at home. He was blind and old." Edgerton asked
them to bring him; and then examining him as he lay on his stretcher, he told them, "This was a case he
could care for, but he would have to use the knife... but later the man could likely see." It was a case of
cataract, so they promised to bring him to the hospital when we came back. ( They did, and he did
regain his sight.)
The people crowded around for examinations and several were cared for that evening, for we
carried medicines and a surgical kit. As twilight emerged, they went back to their simple houses, and
we sat and watched the stars, and were grateful that at almost every stop we could witness the spirit of
the "Great Physician".
Anking magistrates office with pagoda in background: There was some
the identification of just where this photo was until I met Mariam Wong, who
identical photo with Anqing written on it.
So, our boat sped on against its four mile current up the wide reaches of the Yangtze. We saw little
intimate glimpses of life that steam-boat travel never gave. One night we reached An-king, capital of
Anhuai Province. Many good friends were there, with whom we wished to visit. But, at Anking they
locked the city gates at sundown, so we could not enter - years, two or three or four later, those gates
were locked for several days. It happened after the interdict against raising poppies. That was a time
when Prohibition prohibited! The Edict worked, but there was still the Treaty with Great Britain, by
which China was compelled to buy its quota of Indian Opium. The Governor of our Province took his
quota. Paid a million Taels for it. Paid the Imperial import duty. Then felt it was their own to do with
as they pleased.
One afternoon, Edgerton came hastily over from the hospital and said, "The British gun boat
__________ has gone up river. It is flying the flag of the British Vice Council of Shanghai. I will ride
down to the British Consulate for there must be trouble." Soon, he came back. The Shanghai Official
was on his way to Anking. The Governor there had taken one million taels worth of opium and had
burned it in public in an open bonfire. That was boycotting British trade, so, the British official, second
only to the Minister at Peking, had gone on one of their largest boats to protest.
Edgerton tried to reason that when they had paid for the opium, surely they might do as they
pleased with it. Well, we heard later when the vessels came down river, the rest of the story.
In China, news flies by some mysterious magic beyond belief. By the time the British warship
reached Anking, the gates were locked, and ordered kept locked day and night. Had the Governor
known an official was there, courtesy demanded he should call upon him. But the gates were locked,
no one came in or went out. The Governor could not see over the wall - so, no call was made. After
waiting some days - I now do not recall how long - the British took up anchor and returned down river.
The Oriental does have a different approach to life to what we do.
So, this early November night, looking at those massive walls and locked gates, we know there was
nothing to do until morning but wait.
At dawn as we lay outside the city of Anking, the ropes for the sails began to flap, flap against the
mast long before the sun's first color was seen - often now, when I hear leaves rustle while darkness
still holds, I think of those houseboat days - That first rustle of wind is the first notice night is over.
The cook and crew were astir. Dr. Hart spoke to them. "Ah!" the old boatman said, while he
watched the clouds, "the 'feng' (wind) would carry us far today." So, Edgerton said, "Kai Teo" and
before the sun was up, we were off - leaving Anking to our return trip.
Such a day! The wind blew up along - except for meals, we sat on the deck all day, our backs
against the low cabin wall. The sail billowed full, never once sagged in ten hours - I have never felt
such exhilaration in my life - beat against that mighty four mile an hours current, from six to four, we
made sixty miles...an equivalent of one hundred miles, to consider the current we breasted in ten hours.
The old boatman always watched the hours of 16:00 and then assayed his breeze. The wind was his
power. He knew its every mood - He loved it as a youth now loves his car. He feared it because it was
beyond his control. The wisdom of the ancients was in his eyes an he scanned the sky and clouds, and
listened to the whisper of trees.
I wonder if I do not have some Viking blood in me - I could lie down gladly and put out to sea in
the evening of life, the wind humming in the ropes, the breeze lifting the sail until one seems to fly -
that breasting of the waves, the old irresistible force of water, the cleanness of the air, from all that
fouls it up on shore. No man made device except this skiff, there is nothing in all the world so
uplifting. My heart, now nearly at eighty, yearns for the breeze over water.
An evening after this, we anchored early, Edgerton took his rifle and I took the shotgun and went
ashore. We climbed some hills, perhaps 1500 feet, whose side towards the river were perfectly bare,
When we reached the top, we looked down into an enchanting little valley. Stepping down the slope, I
touched something with my foot. Faster than I could see, a little deer leaped up and pranced off across
the hillside. It stopped just once to look back, such a slender graceful creature, then by long bounds
It was sunset. Below, a little stream widened out to make a lake, and on its waters floated hundreds
of swans. Beyond was a small village, and the men were going home in the dusk - Their songs
serenaded us - The hillsides had many trees, some of them oak with autumn coloring - It might have
been a New England village, with its trees and smoking chimneys and home-coming workers. Some
roofs were thatched, but some were tiled, because we were coming into the Kiangsi pottery country.
One night when a favored wind caused us to sail late and made us anchor in an untested spot, I
heard Edgerton whisper, "Pirates, quiet." We heard their craft slide up alongside ours, hear them pick
at the locked shutters of the port holes, stealthily trying them from window to window. Edgerton took
his rifle and handed me a revolver. Shots in the air would likely have driven them off, had they forced
a shutter. That star-spangled banner with its red, white, and blue, a small oblong, which flew at our
mast in the day, was a mightier deterrent that any gun, we felt. They cruised all around our boat, tried
all the shutters, then Edgerton said, "One is coming on deck to try the door." The locks held - The crew
safely below deck, made no sound or movement, but we knew they were terrified. In an hour,
Edgerton put the firearms back in the rack. His hearing acutely wiser than mine to foreign sounds, told
him they were leaving. I did not sleep again that night.
"Aiyah, Aiyah!" exclaimed the servants and crew in the morning that was "puhdeh lian." Old Cheo
added, "Tha Tai Tai has a liver as big as a water buffalo's," which was the highest praise he could give.
Here in America, one does not often discuss one's liver in social talk, but, in China, it is supposed to be
the seat of courage, and so complimentary.
But big or little "tau zo's" we thereafter decided to find safe anchorage above favoring breezes.
That next day, too, as we glided along, Edgerton told me of how many times as a boy in Kiukiang,
when his father was away itinerating, his mother had been awakened. He stood silently by her side as
they heard stealthy footsteps go from window to window trying shutters. The thieves, or pirates, for
they usually lived in communities reached by boats, would not openly assault. They had no desire to
come within range of gun fire. And that brave pioneer mother in Kiukiang kept her rifle ready for its
moral support more than for its physical effect.
Wuhu Ho Cheo Honeymoon
Fifty miles above Nanking we anchored at Iche san, Wuhu to greet our friends and to pick up mail.
Thirty miles farther we came the next day to Ho Cheo, a very small village, by the river side, but
where we had a chapel and a Chinese pastor. The dikes had broken there, and the lower part of the
town was flooded. Upon calling at our pastor's place, we found the front door open, with boards laid
from table to table. We sailed right up to the front door. We crossed the trestle and stepping on the
upper stairs found ourselves on the second floor. However, the family was there, surrounded by all the
movable things from below. Cooking was managed on a charcoal brazier. Washing was threaded on
bamboo poles and hung out the windows. We were invited to have a cup of tea, kept hot in a quilt
On sympathizing with their discomfort we were told it was "Puh iao kin." So often in China, one
hears that, over many various calamities and disasters. The patient Chinese say "Puh iao kin," "It is
Village Near Iche san
An afternoon walk we often took on the dike leading to Wuhu, led us past many little family
villages. The one in the picture was especially picturesque. These family groups were the foundation
of Chinese society. They centralized all their interests. Each member shared its prosperity, they were
governed by the elders of the group, and in trouble all shared the calamity.
Often as the sun was going down we would see the young boys riding the water-buffalo home from
the fields. These clumsy, coarse-hided creatures with long horns were at times quite vicious. We often
treated boys who had been hideously injured by an angry buffalo's horns. The Chinese said the animals
did not like the smell of foreigners. They always appeared belligerent. They still are the work animal
in central China, in plowing and tread-mill work.
The little village shown looked idyllic with its thatched roofed houses clustered on a small island a
few hundred feet in from the banks of the Yangtze. The pond was a natural depression, and it was
deepened in times of high water by cutting a channel from the river. It acted as a moat about the
village, securing a degree of safety as the farmer retired to his island taking his tub with him.
In the picture the women pounded their wash at the water-side, laying the wet garments on a flat
stone, while they beat them with another stone or stick, turning and squeezing as they rinsed. The
Chinese do not mind squatting, doing it hour after hour. They never seem to sit flat on the ground. I
remember one moonlight evening walking into town with Dr. Hart to make some professional calls. As
we passed beside a village we came to some graves marked by head-stones. These stones stood
perhaps 15 inches from the ground, were about a foot wide and two inches thick. On top of adjacent
stones, squatted two men gossiping in the moonlight. When we returned two or three hours later the
two were still there apparently unwearied on the precarious perch.
Beside using the water of these ponds for washing, they make a reservoir from which the farmer
floods his fields for rice culture, and other irrigation purposes. This is done by treadmills operated at
times by one man alone, and often by five or six working side by side, holding on to a horizontal rail.
It is an exhausting labor, to cover a field several inches deep with water, into which rice is
transplanted. Later as the rice is ready for harvest the water must be pumped out. At times of such
tremendous effort the workers ate raw eggs for quick energy.
Chinese men operating a treadle water pump
These ponds also made a fish hatchery. Scores of times I have seen a boy drifting about in a tub,
hanging over the edge and catching fish by his hands. Sometimes to make sure the fish did not flop out
of the tipped craft, he would seize its throat by his teeth, as his hands again swept the water. Do you
remember the old cock robin story? We often use phrases in such tales without analyzing them. "Who
caught his blood?" goes the old rhyme. I often thought of that, as I observed the frugality of the
Chinese fisherman to its extreme point. Beside being moat, reservoir, washtub and fish hatchery, the
pond gave the ducks a place to swim, and the buffaloes in which to wallow.
Picturesque as this view seems it had its smells and discomforts. Each farm house had its hard-
earth floor, beaten smooth for threshing.
The flail was used. After the grain was separated a large woven cane tray about three feet in diameter
would "fan" out the chaff, making a choking dust. But it is by such exhausting primitive methods that
the grain is prepared for storage in millions of homes. When the harvest is over some of the straw is
used to re-thatch the house. Some of it goes into work sandals. Some is sewn to make skirts and capes
to shed rain.
At times villages have four generations in them. The sons marry and bring home their wives.
Another room is added or a small house built. Many houses have earthen floors. The furniture is a
square table with rough stools, or perhaps only "bon tongs", like our familiar saw-horse. Their bed-
boards are supported on "bon tongs", they use them for chairs. Each person has his own quilt, which he
rolls up in at night, when it acts both as mattress and cover. The stove is usually built of bricks, with
the iron kettles cemented in holes at the top. The rice and vegetable kettles are scraped once a day
when the fire is low, and then the crust sticking to the bottom is pried off. When I was in Shanghai that
first winter, about eleven o'clock each night a peculiar sound occurred. An old timer told me the rice
shop man is scraping his "Ko", or kettle. The hard crust is called "ko bao" or kettle-baked. Some years
later after I was married I saw the three boys suddenly disappear through the gate towards the hospital
kitchen. I said to the cook "The children must not go to the hospital." With a smile he said, "Just this
once, do you not hear the cook scraping his 'ko'?" Imagine a child in America eating the brown hard
shell of a burned pot of rice! Though in China nothing is wasted.
The land is never idle. In central China they have three crops a year. In the fall they planted winter
wheat and rape. Two or three days after this was harvested in May, the fields were flooded and the rice
transplanted from the nursery beds. At the end of August quick growing crops of "peh tsai" or celery
cabbage for winter greens were put in. When ripe, they would be hung on racks or lines to dry, or else
put in deep brine in "Kangs." The Chinese love their vegetables. When one is a guest the hostess says,
(or host); "dai pu la gi, muhiu she mo tsai," "Excuse me for I have so poor a variety of vegetables." I
have heard it in simple family meals with only turnips and celery cabbage, and again at elaborate
feasts, where there were eight courses, each consisted of a central bowl and eight side dishes, all
different, all delicious, and at the end the rice would be served. They are wonderful cooks, extremely
sensitive to taste and seasoning, exceedingly critical of texture and flavor, but never a grain of rice was
wasted. Still millions with their delicate awareness of what is appetizing go to bed hungry each day.
Today it is common for Chinese to leave a portion of food from each plate, so not to give the
appearance of still being hungry.
To return to the little farm village. The boys of the families gather about an old school-master to
learn their lessons. The teacher's first lesson would require each child to fold its coarse paper to make
an exercise book. Each child had to make his own pen. Taking a short piece of bamboo, just rightly
seasoned, he would moisten one end and then pound it gently with a stick, slowly turning and pounding
until the connective tissues were broken down and only the long fibers left. With their fingers they
would shape these into a pointed brush like a pen. The ink slab would be placed in a shallow dish of
water and the brush, or pen would rub that until an inky consistency made writing possible. As each
child wrote the character he would repeat aloud its name. They began with simple characters, having
only one or two strokes and go on to the more complex ones. Some had as many as seventeen strokes.
The Chinese held the written word in great honor. Many a foreigner has offended by unthinkingly
using printed paper for common uses. I often saw men with baskets and wooden tongs, going about the
streets picking up papers with characters printed on them. They expected thus to "lay up merit" for
Fifty years ago the scholar was honored above all men. A man coming back to his village after
long absence had first to make his courtesy call on his teacher.
Do you recall the little rhyme of the "Thank you" theme, common among the Chinese, which I
taught you? It brings in the "bon tung" and trestle on which they sat, and upon which their bed-boards
were laid, and a dozen other uses.
Sie sie lih tih cha (tea)
Sie sie lih tien (salt, or smoke)
Sie sie lih tih bon tung
Tsoe (to sit) liao bon tien (1/2 day)
During the Revolution of 1911 Lord Li, the son of Li Hung Chang had to flee to Japan with his
family, leaving his beautiful home and gardens in Wuhu, along with many business ventures. His
eldest son had spent many years in England at public schools and university. He came back in 1912
with his "queue" cut and quite strange to the people of Wuhu. One day the son came to Wuhu, dressed
in a plain cotton gown, to see what damage had been done to the family property. He went about the
town as a peasant, but years before as a small boy he had had English lessons with the Hart children.
So the "Kwei chi" (custom) held, he must call upon his teacher. This ceremonial call was done with
hazard and fear of exposing his identity. He managed to come to the Hill and saw Dr. Hart and did
The mothers in all villages were never idle. Cooking, washing, tending children, added to this the
making of shoes for the whole household. Shoes, except rain shoes or sandals, were made of cloth.
For the soles each mother had a rough pattern. She would paste small scraps of cloth on coarse paper,
then sew many layers together. The good house-wife was supposed to have five pairs of soles ahead
for each member of the family. The shoes lasted at best two or three weeks, in wet weather perhaps ten
days. In the brick chimneys were found little depressions in which shoes could be set to dry. I was
amazed to watch a mother with 8 or 9 feet to keep shod - still lovingly embroider little motifs of
applied fine braid-work. This longing to adorn or make fine extended to cross stitch on belts of eye-
shields for their men folks. I have seen beautiful needle-work on an eye shield work by a poor peasant
man in the fields.
Sometimes a loom would be set up on the threshing floor and coarse cotton cloth woven on it. I
have seen it block-printed too, in these simple door-yards.
At times, slack in the year's work, the village girls would come to our house, to bring with them
their design patterns, in cross stitch. Each mother taught her daughter the designs she learned as a
child. There would be a running border, one or two corner "motifs" and center designs. It was the
same as in France or Belgium where lace designs belong to families and are handed from mother to
daughter. Under direction quite lovely effects could be achieved.
To us who knew the old China, with its self contained households comes a feeling of nostalgia that
all this must pass. I cannot help but feel that it will take a long long time of living under conquerors to
destroy that sense of family unity, that has existed for thousands of years. Some things must be
endured, but the sense of loyalty to kin, of respect for ancestors is hard to eradicate.
"Man man tih," go slowly - slowly - is not an idle idea. Ideas live.
She Saved Her Face
"It's Iao Kin Tih" (very important) exclaimed the old gate-man at the Wu-hu Hospital as he burst
excitedly into the operating room waving a large red calling card. "It's Iao Kin Tih - the City Official is
sending a very sick person in a litter."
One of the Chinese attendants took the card, while easing the gate-man in his dusty gown outside
the door. Returning, the nurse reported to Dr. Hart, "The official is sending a critically ill patient,
asking if you will use your most honorable skill to save her life."
It was late afternoon in June 1907, and having just completed a fourth serious operation, we were
hot and weary. "No need for you to wait, Miss Maddock. Dr. Ting and I can care for this case," said
Dr. Hart. I slipped gratefully away to my upstairs hospital apartment, anticipating a bath and change of
clothing. The idea of rest was quickly dispelled by my personal servant hurrying in from the porch
where she had been listening to the uproar in the courtyard below.
"It's a sick woman" announced Wang ma; "she is about to die." "A woman patient. They will need
me. I must go back," I thought. As I reached the receiving room, skilled hands were lifting to the table
a terribly emaciated young woman. Her eyes were sunk deep in her face. Her hair was matted from
sweat and dirt. Her two hands, like claws, were clenched beneath her chin as she lay on her side, while
her anguished face looked in terror on the strange place and alien people.
Gently we loosened her garments, soaked them with warm water to soften the clotted blood and
exudate, thus to lay bare her shoulders and back. What we found outraged all sense of decency. From
her neck to her thighs great welts had torn the tender flesh, leaving in many places the bones exposed.
Days of neglect had resulted in suppuration and maggots swarmed amidst the filth and clotted blood.
As the doctors worked, cleansing these wounds, they exchanged horrified glances. "There is
something ominously criminal here, Ting," in a low aside Dr. Hart said in English to Dr. Ting. "Tell
the official he must constantly detail a woman at the hospital to see all we do."
I asked one of the girl's friends, "How they called the patient?" "Her name is Lan Hua," said the
woman. Mentally translating, I choked over the poignancy of the meaning - Lan for blue, Hua for
flower. Blue Flower, such a beaten, crushed blossom of humanity huddled there in utter misery.
When the doctors had done all they could, we put clean garments on her wasted body. A woman
nurse brought a cup of tea to moisten the parched mouth and throat. But no entreaty could persuade
Lan Hua to take a drop of it. Bending close to that feverish face, I caught the words, "Let that old one
eat bitterness." I heard that phrase repeated scores of times in the next few days.
The ubiquitous Wangma hovering in the background whispered, "She wants to die to spite the old
Carrying her to a clean bed in a private room, we saw she was a girl about sixteen years old, who
had been beautiful. Delicate cheekbones, long, slender hands, and unbound feet were definitely not of
peasant origin. But the skin, like parchment, and entire shriveled flesh, cried out for water. Her
ceaselessly searching eyes watched our every movement, frustrating any attempt to relieve her
That night, as we finished hospital rounds, I pleaded, "She is absolutely dehydrated. Can't we do
something to force liquids?" Dr. Hart, long resident and therefore wise in Oriental ways, quickly
interposed, "This is China, Miss Maddock. She must acquiesce in all we do. There must be no hint of
coercion. The undercurrents of unrest in this land warn us to weigh every action. Sinister elements
would be quick to twist our intent and bring disaster on the community."
Thus admonished, I resorted again to persuasion. Going to my china closet I chose a fragile, native
style tea cup. Butterflies, denoted "continuous welfare" and a single lotus blossom, meant "long life, "
decorated its surface. Brewing the fragrant jasmine tea, I carried the cup held it in both hands, and
stooped beside the famished Lan Hua. Her eyes gave a flicker of appreciation for the courtesy of my
gesture. The thin hand reached, turning the cup still resting on my palms, while she traced the
decorative motif. Just a glimmer of a rueful smile brushed her lips as she recognized the symbolism of
design. Designs from times immemorial were embroidered on thousands of baby shoes by women
alike in luxurious homes or in mud-floored hovels, to express the mother's well-intentions.
"Kehki tien" (the ultimate courtesy), she murmured, responding involuntarily, as do all Chinese, to
a polite approach. In a moment her face hardened as she refused the tea, saying "Let that old one eat
Thwarted by her inflexible refusals and aghast at the extreme brutality which had caused this
suffering, I demanded "Is there no law prohibiting these heinous floggings?" "No," Dr. Hart replied.
"In China an owner may beat a slave, he even, legally may beat his wife, but if the victim dies there has
to be an inquest. For ourselves, we must be scrupulously careful that the cause of death is not laid to
While we knew the town buzzed with gossip about the case, we only, bit by bit, solved the
mystery. A native friend gleaned from one of the Official's retainers that the girl had a dim recollection
of a far-away gentle home from which brutal hands had snatched her and sold her into slavery. It was
vague, so vague, that she long ago resigned herself to - the inevitable. She tried to please and flatter
her querulous mistress. She realized her own delicately molded face and long, slender fingers made her
different from the other slaves in the household. Her gentle nature prevailed and made her want to
please and shed happiness around her.
Later Dr. Hart, riding in from some professional calls in the walled city, brought more
enlightenment on the pitiable case and implacable resolve of the slave girl. After seeing and
prescribing for the grandfather in a wealthy Chinese home, the head A-mah had escorted him to the
gate. There she asked in low, furtive tones about Lan Hua. Surprised by her interest, Dr. Hart urged
her to tell him what she knew. He learned that only a few days before the A-mah had been dismissed
from the home where for years she and Lan Hua had been trusted servants. The A-mah was reticent,
but eventually she told the whole story.
"It is a matter of the familiar triangle," Dr. Hart told us, "only this triangle is pentagonal." When
Lan Hua came as slave to the Tai Tai there were already two concubines in the house, their miserable,
difficult lives dominated by the old wife's whims and carping jealousy. In some way Lan Hua's coming
had altered things. The slave employed many little artifices to make the cantankerous old shrew
comfortable; even at times when the woman could not sleep, Lan Hua had crouched in the bed making
a responsive back-rest to ease the termagant's restlessness. She massaged the lines in the woman's face,
rubbed her arms and back, and flattered her by tucking flowers in her hair.
"Gradually there had been created an atmosphere of tranquility in place of the outbursts of temper
and tantrums which had racked the days before Lan Hua came."
I interjected, "What a sadist the old fiend was to punish a slave who was so kind."
Dr. Hart resumed, "It's true the world over about the fury of a woman scorned." One of the
concubines, overhearing the Official praise Lan Hua about his wife's improved temper, wrongly
interpreted his motive in addressing the slave. She lost no time in telling the number two concubine,
thus stirring up her jealousy. Together they took the tale to their mistress. Goaded by these secondary
claimants to her husband's attentions, the enraged Tai Tai clapped her hands to summon all her women.
Calling Lan Hua forward, she asked, "Who are you to have words with the Tao Yeh? That is done
only by the head Nai Nai "elder woman". You shall be beaten until you learn your place." "Mercy,
mercy," cried Lan Hua, prostrating herself and knocking her head on the floor.
"But helpers pulled off her jackets, while others held her across a chair. Then began the merciless
flogging of shoulders and back with knotted cords."
The woman telling the story said it broke her heart to hear Lan Hua's cries and moans as she
writhed under each stroke. At last, because she had served there so long, the A-mah begged the Tai Tai
to stop the ordeal. Angered by interference, the virago continued the punishment as long as she dared.
Then turning on the A-mah, she ordered her to pack and leave the place at once.
Hours and days of anguish followed, as Lan Hua's frail lacerated body tossed in agony on her cot.
Her lips were torn with the effort to suppress her groans. In place of a desire to please came a fierce
longing for vindication - not revenge, as the Oriental knows it, rather an implacable, inexorable intent
to impugn the justice of this torture. Of transcendent importance to this Chinese girl was the
indefinable, evasive, enigmatical idea of "the loss of face."
Lan Hua could survive physical injury, but this indefensible, subtle psychical hardship she could
not endure or forgive. Stronger than hunger, more urgent than pain, was her fixed determination to
restore her "lost face."
Time passed. Waiting women begged her to eat or drink, but she steadfastly refused. At length,
frightened by Lan Hua's growing weakness, the Tai Tai commanded her to drink. Not succeeding, she
hid her pride and entreated her to comply, but neither food or water passed Lan Hua's lips. Life meant
nothing now that her "face was lost."
Nurtured in this land long civilized by Confucian moral law, though curiously long delayed in
developing humane civil law, Lan Hua knew if death resulted from a beating there would have to be a
public inquiry. Only by that tragic sequence could the little slave's reputation be restored.
Terror seized the old mistress. She sent Lan Hua to the hospital hoping the "foreign devil" of a
doctor could compel submission.
All efforts failed. The intense suffering ended in death. As long as her cracked dry lips could
move she repeated "Let that old one eat bitterness."
As Lan Hua had foreseen, death at last vindicated her. An inquest had to be held before her frail
body could be moved.
The Hs'ien came. At such times women did not appear, so we gathered in my rooms and watched
through closed shutters the drama of the trial.
Protocol required that the Hsien first make a social call on Dr. Hart as head of the hospital. That
concluded, the doctor excused himself, meticulously avoiding suspicion of interfering in the process of
Coolies meanwhile had brought special chairs and a table which were set up in the courtyard.
Slight poles, driven in the ground, supported a silk canopy, thus making a brilliant, ornate pavilion.
The Hs'ien, coming from Dr. Hart's study, took off his social gown. Hovered servants handed him an
elaborately embroidered silk judicial robe and his hat with buttons and trailing peacock feathers.
Word of the impending trial had spread and curious patients and towns-men crowded into the
After viewing Lan Hua's body in the morgue, the Hsien took his seat in the pavilion. The testimony
was given in tones too low for us to catch the full meaning. Recognizing some of the Chinese who laid
briefs on the table as legal experts, Dr. Hart identified them for us.
The scribes of the court wrote the evidence as it was given. After it was concluded, the Hs'ien
made a brief statement. Instantly all his attendants sprang to their feet, and pushed the crowd back,
leaving an open space about the pavilion. The Hsien arose, paused a moment, then raising his foot he
gave a mighty kick to the table, overturning it, bringing poles and canopy crashing to the ground. The
papers and all the evidence were scattered in wild disorder in the dust. The Judge's servants scrambled
after the papers and stored them with the other paraphernalia of justice in boxes.
We had witnessed the astonishing oriental method of clearing the table of evidence.
After he changed again to his social hat and gown the Hsien departed in his sedan-chair.
The case was officially closed. No one was publicly punished. In that land, expert in squeeze, we
were confident the Tai Tai's husband did not escape extortion. Such a trail in itself was punishment.
Lan Hua had been vindicated. Death and the publicity relieved her of the indignity of the old
She had lost her life, but she "saved her face."
The Shantung Guild
One hot midsummer night in 1907 I was awakened in my Hospital suite by loud cries of "Kai Men"
(open the gates) and many fists beating against the locked barrier. At first thinking it must be medical
emergency I started to dress. Yet there was no stretcher, and the crowds poured into what was called
the Palm Walk, and so up the incline, around into Dr. Hart's backyard. My rooms in the Hospital were
twenty-five feet above the level of the Hart Compound, so I could look down into that terrace. There
must finally have been two hundred tall men gathered, speaking a dialect of which I knew nothing. So
other than by gestures and tones I could gain no idea of their visit.
They were angry, speaking in vociferous voices, gesticulating, sticking their carrying poles on the
ground. Every word carried an idea of venom and hate. They carried a few lanterns - the only lights
by which to watch the vehement gestures, and at times wild roars of rage.
Dr. Hart stood there, talking to them. At first I had a horrible fear that they were threatening him.
He never raised his voice, but using their dialect he answered them or asked questions. In Chinese one
does not modulate the voice in making a query - though there is a little expletive "mah", often used at
the end of a question, which seems in use by all dialects. Accents and negatives, too are much the
same. So I could gather some idea of approval or rejection of what Edgerton said. For over an hour
the angry discussion went on. It kept me completely bewildered, and at periods of heated argument, I
was trembling fearfully for Edgerton's safety.
At last they grew more calm, and then Dr. Hart said something amusing. If one can face a Chinese
mob and make them laugh the argument is won. Slowly they turned and went towards the gate. Dr.
Hart talking, started to accompany them. They said, "Puhiao sung." (Do not perform the courtesy of
escorting us.) He said, "Man man tseo," (Go slowly, slowly) as they faded away down the dike, and
the old gate-man locked the gate.
Edgerton, knowing I must have been disturbed sent a hastily penciled note by his house-boy, saying
he would explain it in the morning.
It developed that the men who loaded and unloaded cargo from the riverboats were from the
Northern Province of Shantung (Shandong Province). Shantung men and women are all larger framed
and taller than the southern Chinese. These men were employed almost exclusively in Wuhu in this
stevedore work. In fact for years they had a monopoly on it. They were knit together as the Shantung
Guild and would allow no intruders from other Provinces. The foreign shipping companies, sometimes
found it to their disadvantage, and had been trying to infiltrate their ranks with local men. This the
Shantung men fiercely resented and all cargo loading had been stopped for several days.
Dr. Hart had been born in China and grew up there as a boy. The Chinese called him, "a pentih
ren"; a man with his roots in the soil, a native. So they carried many a grievance to him for settlement.
He had known of this feud for days. It was awkward to be asked to negotiate with foreign shipping
companies, many of them powerful, and for decades in the China Trade. The next few days were spent
in discussion with both sides, and some compromise arranged. The companies learned how savage and
bitter a fight with a Guild could be, if the Guild members were thwarted in China. Intrigue and bodily
harm were averted, and finally a settlement was made.
Later the Shantung Guild which for years had owned a small cemetery on the eastern slope of our
hill; which was the last plot of land that we did not own on Iche san, gave us permission to enclose it,
upon our promise to allow them entrance and exit privileges. They used it as a temporary burial site,
until the bodies could be carried back to their native Province, which was their ancestral home.
I often wonder what the Communists have encountered with the Guilds. I cannot think this
centuries old system can be changed in a generation. One had to recognize it and work with it in
China, not work against it. Iche san was a perfect knoll 100 feet above the surrounding fields and on
the River bank. For this reason the Navy officers had felt it would be the best place to fortify and hold
in case of trouble. So, all foreigners of all nationalities had been ordered to repair there if persecution
came. For these reasons we desired to have the Shantung Cemetery as part of our enclosure.
The Big Orphan
My great grandmother actually has the names switched, the above photos are of the
"Big Orphan" or Da-Xia
My dear Helen:
It was October and we sailed a thousand miles on the Yangtze River and Boyang Lake. After forty
years, I can think of no way I would rather choose for a honeymoon. Every day the news papers revive
interest by mentioning those places seen so long ago. Today I am writing about the Little Orphan, one
of the loveliest sights in that one thousand miles.
Five hundred miles inland from Shanghai, the Boyang Lake flows into the Yangtze River. Shortly
before reaching the mouth of the lake, we came in sight of The Little Orphan. The island lies in mid-
stream and on the down river side, rises a sheer rock face four hundred feet out of the water. As we
passed and went beyond we found the incline sloped slightly and in clefts in the rock, hardy evergreens
made a scant coverage. Only in one tiny cove, where the current divides, to flow around the island, can
a small boat approach. Even there, the precipitous face looked forbidding and inaccessible. About half
way up, a narrow ledge held the foundations for the first temples. Above them another smaller group
clung to the rocky side and at the summit was the third and last, a single pagoda. From the house boat
deck, those temples with their white paint and tiled roofs, appeared utterly remote and unapproachable.
The whole aspect of the little isle was one of enchantment and mystery.
This is the "Little Orphan" or Xie Xia in Boyang Lake
"Ah," the old China traveler tells you, "there are two orphan islands. This is the Little Orphan and
the Big Orphan lies in Boyang Lake." And then I was told a story that runs like this.
Long, long ago an aged Chinese official lay dying. He had been serving his Emperor at a place
near the sea coast, but his thoughts turned ever toward his home in a little village in Kiangxi Province
on the shores of the Boyang Lake. When he knew that he could never again see this loved town, he
called his head man to him and gave his last directions. He told him that years before he had bought
fine thick board and that now the head man must call carpenters and have his coffin made. He outlined
all his wishes for his vestments and funeral ritual. He made this servant solemnly promise to dispatch a
retinue with his coffin to his ancestral village in Kiangxi. His voice faltered as his two daughters stood
by his bedside weeping copiously. His last words were that the faithful servant must escort the two
lovely girls safely to the village home where their family roots were.
There was great mourning for the old official. Priests chanted, drums beat and incense burned. The
coffin was made of boards five inches thick. These were heavily lacquered and gold and silver
trimmings and handles were put on. Within, luxurious silk quilts were placed and the cockcrow pillow
put under his head. The official was dressed in rich silken robes with the insignia of his office
embroidered both on the front and back. On his head was placed his hat with flowing feathers, and in
the center of the crown, the button denoting his rank. In each hand he held the ornamental jewel
encrusted rods he had grasped when he approached the Emperor.
After the boat bearing the coffin moved away, the servant turned to the weeping children. He had
to "suan chang" as they say in China, or "take accounts". Only then did he discover that his money was
nearly gone. In bitter sorrow he told the little girls, "The spirits must care for us. I cannot hire a boat
but will ask them to turn me into a big turtle and you may sit upon my back while I swim up the great
The spirits granted the request and day after day they traveled west in the mighty waters. When
they had gone twelve hundred "li", the youngest girl said, "I am so tired I cannot hold on any longer."
In spite of her sister's help, she slipped into the rushing waters. The older sister lamented loudly and
the faithful servant wished he might die from grief. But the ever loving spirits whispered, "Do not
grieve. We will turn your sister into a lovely island rising straight from these waters and there she will
always stand, aloof, noble, and her name will be the Little Orphan."
So the turtle comforted the older sister saying, "We must go on. Not far away we shall turn into
Boyang Lake and soon you shall be at your honorable father's home." But this lake has very sudden
and violent storms. As one of these broke in fury and the winds beat coldly against the lonely sister's
face, she gave one cry and slipped into the depths of the boisterous waves. The kindly spirits again
hovered near and they turned her, too, into an island, not so startlingly lovely as her little sister, but
serene and sentinel, facing ever southward towards her father's home. And they call her the Big
Orphan to this day.
With a sad heart the old turtle swam on to the ancestral village. Long since the last rites had been
performed for his old master. And now that he could do no more for the two lovely daughters, he
turned his face toward the places where they stood and sat down on the west shore of Po-yang Lake.
There one beautiful evening at sunset as we sailed toward Nan-chang, I myself saw him keeping his
vigil, a great rock turtle, looking ever back toward the Big and Little Orphans.
That is the story as it was told me long ago, and now I want to tell you about the day we climbed
the Little Orphan.
As we were sailing in our houseboat and with the landing place being so small, we anchored above
the island and hired a fishing boat to put us ashore. There were no seats in the boat, the boards being
level with the gun-whale. Fear seized me as we moved out into the swiftly running stream whose
waters were ever more turbulent as they divided to flow around the island. Suddenly we shot into a
little cove, the only place the island can be approached. Then began the long climb up the steps cut
into the solid rock, with rises about sixteen inches and treads three or four inches wide. By grasping a
stout iron chain anchored in the rock, we pulled ourselves slowly upward. In the picture can be seen a
light almost vertical line. This is where the steps were cut. The sound of the rushing waters below and
the meagerness of the foot hold made me falter. Your father had been here as a boy with your
grandfather and it was only his reassuring voice which prodded me on step by step.
Our approach was noticed by the temple attendants and presently a boy acolyte ran down the rocky
stairs to inquire our errand. Your father handed him his large red paper calling card with his name in
Chinese characters inscribed in black. Holding the card high above his head, the boy leaped up the
steep flight like a mountain goat. As he did so, he repeatedly called aloud, as is the custom, "Huei Ren,