Part 2 out of 2
rusty before sunrise, some of the teachers have classes at night.
I would rather have rest. I am too tired, then, to think.
I have put away all my vanity clothes. No need for them in
Hiroshima and in an icy room on a winter's morning, I do not stop
to think whether my dress has an in-curve or an out-sweep. I fall
into the first thing I find and finish buttoning it when the family
fire in the dining-room is reached. A solitary warming-spot to a
big house is one of the luxuries of missionary life.
In between times I 've been cheering up the home sickest young
Swede that ever got loose from his native heath. So firmly did he
believe that Japan was a land where necessity for work doth not
corrupt nor the thief of pleasure break through and steal, he gave
up a good position at home and signed a three-years' contract with
an oil firm. Now he is so sorry, all the pink has gone out of his
cheeks. Until he grows used to the thought that living where the
Sun flag floats is not a continuous holiday, the teachers here at
school take turns in making life livable for him.
His entertainment means tramps of miles into the country, sails on
the lovely Ujina Bay and climbs over the mountains. In the
afternoon the boy is so in evidence, we almost fall over him if we
step. Yesterday in desperation I tied an apron on him and let him
help me make a cake. Even at that, with a dab of chocolate on his
cheek and flour on his nose, his summer sky eyes were weepy
whenever he spoke of his "Mutter." I have done everything for him
except lend him my shoulder to weep on. It may come to that.
There is hope, however. One of our teachers is young and pretty.
Jack, in a much delayed epistle, tells me thrilling and awful
things about the plague; says he walks through what was once a
prosperous village, and now there is not a live dog to wag a
friendly tail. Every house and hovel tenantless. Often unfinished
meals on the table and beds just as the occupants left them. A
great pit near by full of ashes and bones tells the story of the
plague come to town, leaving silent, empty houses, and the
dust-laden winds as the only mourners.
The native doctors gave a splendid banquet the other night. With
the visiting doctors in full array of evening dress and
decorations. Jack says it looked like a big international flag
draped around the table. Everybody made a speech and Jack has not
stopped yet shooting off fireworks in honor of that Englishwoman.
Well, maybe _I_ should have studied science. It is too late now.
Besides, I have Uncle on my hands, and I have to commit to memory
pages on color printing that run like this: "Fine as a single hair
or swelling imperceptibly till it becomes a broken play of light
and shade or a mass of solid black, it still flows, unworried and
without hesitation on its appointed course."
Sada San is coining down nest week. I am looking forward to it
with great delight and hunting for a plan whereby I can help her.
Suppose Uncle should give me a glad surprise and come too!
_My dear Best Girl_:
If ever a sailor needed a compass, I need the level head that tops
your loving heart. I am worried hollow-eyed and as useless as a
It has been days since I heard from Jack. When he last wrote, he
was going to some remote district out from Mukden. I dare not
think what might happen to him. Says he must travel to the very
source of the trouble.
If Jack really wanted trouble he could find it nearer home. Is n't
it like him, though, with his German education, to hunt a thing to
its lair? I suppose when next I hear from him, he will have
disappeared into some marmot hole at the foot of a tree in a
Sada is here. A pale shadow of her former radiant self. She is in
deadly fear of what Uncle has written he expects of her when she
For the first few days of her visit, she was like an escaped
prisoner. She played and sang with the girls. The joy of her
laughter was contagious. Everybody fell a victim to her gaiety.
We have been on picnics up the river in a sampan where we waded and
fished, then landed on an island of bamboo and fern and cooked our
dinner over a _hibachi_. We have had concerts, tableaux and
charades, here at the school, with a big table for the stage and a
silver moon and a green mosquito-net for the scenery.
In every pastime or pleasure, Sada San has been the moving spirit.
Adorably girlish and winning in her innocent joy, I grow faint to
think of the rude awakening.
She has talked much of Miss West and their life together; their
work and simple pleasures.
To the older woman she poured out unmeasured affection, fresh and
sweet. Susan made a flower garden of the girl's heart, where, if
even a tiny weed sprouted it was coaxed into a blossom. But she
gave no warning of the savage storms that might come and lay the
Well, I 'm holding a prayer-meeting a minute that the rosy ideals
of the visionary teacher will hold fast when the wind begins to
I found Sada one day on the bed, a crumpled heap of woe; white and
shaking with tearless sobs. Anxious to shield her from the
persistent friendliness of the girls, I persuaded her to come with
me to the old Prince's garden, just back of the school.
She had heard from Uncle. For the first time he definitely stated
his plans. Hara, the rich man, had sent to him a proposal of
marriage for Sada! Of course, said Uncle, such an offer from so
prosperous and prominent a man must be accepted without hesitation.
It was wonderful luck for any girl, said dear Mura, especially one
of her birth. Nothing further would be done until she returned,
and he wished that to be at once.
Not a suggestion of feeling or sentiment; not a word as to Sada's
wishes or rights. If these were mentioned to him, he would
undoubtedly reply that the rights in the matter were all his. As
to feelings, a young girl had no business with such things. His
voice would be courteous, his manner of saying it would fairly
puncture the air.
His letter was simply a cold business statement for the sale of the
girl. When I looked at the misery in her young eyes, I could
joyfully have throttled him and stamped upon him. I wished for a
dentist's grinding machine and the chance to bore a nice big hole
into each one of his white, even teeth.
She knows nothing of the man Hara except that he is coarse and
drinks heavily. The girls in the tea-house always seemed afraid
when he came. Vague whispers of his awful life had come to her.
What was she to do? She had no money, no place to go, and Uncle
was the only relative she had in the world.
Mate, I heard a missionary speak a profound truth, when he said
that no Japanese would ever be worth while till all his relatives
were dead. Their power is a chain forged around individual freedom.
She had such loving thoughts of Uncle, Sada sobbed, before she
came. She longed to make his home happy and be one of his people.
She loved the beautiful country of her mother and craved its
Miss West had drilled it into her conscience that marriage was
holy, and impossible without love. (Bless you, Susan!) She wanted
to do her duty, but she _could not_ marry this man whom she had
never seen but once, and had never spoken to.
She knew the absolute power the law of the land gave Uncle over
her. She knew the uselessness of a Japanese girl struggling
against the rigid rules laid down by her elders. She knew
resistance might bring punishment. Well, Mate, I do not care ever
to see again such a look as was in Sada's eyes as she turned her
set face to me and forced through her stiff lips a stony, "I
won't!" But I thanked God for all the Susan Wests and their
In spite of the girl's unhappiness, there was a thrill in the
region of my heart. Of her own free will Sada San had decided.
Now there was something definite to work upon. In the back of my
brain a plan was beginning to form. Hope glimmered like a
It was late evening. A flaming sunset flushed the sky and bathed
the ancient garden of arched bridges and twisted trees in a pinkish
haze. The very shadows spelled romance and poetry. It was wise to
use the charm of the hour for the beginning of my plan.
I drew Sada down beside me, as we sat in a queer little play-house
by the garden lake.
In olden times it had been the rest place of the Prince Asano, when
he was specially moved to write poetry to the moon as it floated
up, a silver ball in a navy-blue sky over "Three Umbrella
Mountain." Had his ghost been strolling along then, it would have
found deeper things than, "in the sadness of the moon night beholds
the fading blossom of the heart," to fill his thoughts.
I led the girl to tell me much of her life in Nebraska; of her
friends and their amusements. Hers had been the usual story of any
fresh wholesome girl. The social life in a small town had limited
her experiences, but had kept her deliciously naive and sweet.
For the first time in our talks, she avoided Billy's name. I
hailed it as a beautiful sign. I mentioned William myself and
delighted in her red-cheeked confusion. I gently asked her to tell
me of him.
She and Billy had gone to school together, played together and he
always seemed like a big brother to her. Once a boy had called her
a half-breed and Billy promptly knocked him down and sat on his
head while he manipulated a shingle.
Another time when they were quite small, the desire of her heart
was to ride on the tricycle of a rich little boy who lived across
the street. But the pampered youth jeered at her pleadings and
exultingly rode up and down before her. Billy saw and bided his
time till the small Croesus was alone. He nabbed him, chucked him
in a chicken-coop and stood guard for an hour while Sada rode
Through college they were comrades and rivals. Billy had to work
his way, for he was the poor son of an invalid mother. From
college he had gone straight to a firm of rich manufacturers and
was now one of the big buyers.
He had pleaded with her not to come to Japan. He loved her. He
wanted her. When she had persisted, he was furious and they had
quarreled. But she had thought she was right, then; she did not
know how dear Billy was, how big and splendid. She had written to
him but seldom, nothing of her disappointment. Maybe he had
married. She could not write now. It would be too much like
begging, when she was at bay, for the love she had refused when all
was well. No, she _could not_ tell him.
We talked long and earnestly in that old garden, and the wind that
sifted through the pine-needles and the waxy leaves was as gentle
as if the spirit of Susan West had come to watch and to bless.
I gained a half promise from her that she would write to Billy at
once, but I didn't stop there.
Unsuspected by Sada I learned his full address, and Mate, I wrote a
letter to the auburn-haired lover in Nebraska, in which I painted a
picture that is going to cause something to happen, else I am
mistaken in my estimate of the spirit of the West in general and
William Weston Milton in particular.
I told him if he loved the girl to come as fast as steam would
bring him; that I would help him at the risk of anything, though I
have no idea how. I have just returned from a solitary promenade
to the post-office through the dark and lonely streets, so that
letter will catch to-morrow's American mail.
Sada told me that for some reason she had never mentioned Billy's
name to Uncle. Now isn't that a full hand nestling up my
half-sleeve? Uncle thinks the way clear as an empty race-track,
and all he has to do is to saunter down the home stretch and gather
in the prize-money.
Any scruple on the girl's part will be relentlessly and carelessly
brushed aside as a bothersome insect. If she persists, there is
always force. He fears nothing from me. I am a foreigner--from
his standpoint too crudely frank to be clever.
He doubtless argues, if he gives it any thought, that if I could I
would not dare interfere. And then I am so absorbed in
color-prints! So I am, and, I pray Heaven, in some way to his
undoing. The child has no other friend. Shrinkingly she told me
of her one attempt to make friends with some high-class people, and
the uncompromising rebuff she had received upon their discovering
she was an Eurasian. The pure aristocrats seldom lower the social
bars to those of mixed blood. I wonder, Mate, if the ghost of
failure, who was her father, could see the inheritance of
inevitable suffering he has left his child, what his message would
be to those who would recklessly dare a like marriage?
Sada goes to Kioto in the morning. She promises not to show
resistance, but to keep quiet and alert, writing me at every
I am sure Uncle's delight in securing so rich a prize as Hara will
burst forth in a big wedding-feast and many rich clothes for the
trousseau. I hope so. Preparation will take time. I would rather
gain time than treasure.
I put Sada to bed. Tucked her in and cuddled her to sleep as if
she had been my own daughter.
There she lies now. Her face startlingly white against the mass of
black hair. The only sign of her troubled day is a frequent
half-sob and the sadness of her mouth, which is constantly reading
the riot act to her laughing eyes in the waking hours.
Poor girl! She is only one of many whose hopes wither like
rose-leaves in a hot sun when met by authority in the form of
The arched sky over the mountain of "Two Leaves" is all a-shimmer
with the coming day. Thatched roof and bamboo grove are daintily
etched against the amber dawn. Lights begin to twinkle and thrifty
tradesmen cheerfully call their wares.
It is a land of peace, a country and people of wondrous charm, but
incomprehensible is the spirit of some of the laws that rule its
One of my girls, when attached with the blues, invariably says in
her written apology for a poor lesson, "Please excuse my frivolous
with your imagination, for my heart is warmly." So say I.
I am sending you the crepes and the kimono you asked for. Write
for something else. I want an excuse to spend another afternoon in
the two-by-four shop, with a play-garden attached, that should be
under a glass case in a jewelry store. The proprietor gives me a
tea-party and tells me a few of his troubles every time I go to his
store. Formerly he kept two shops exclusively for hair ornaments
He did a thriving trade with schoolgirls. Recently an order went
out from the mighty maker of school laws to the effect that
lassies, high and low, must not indulge in such foolish
extravagances as head ornaments. The ribbon market went to smash.
The old man could not give his stock away. He stored his goods and
went to selling high-priced crepes, which everybody was permitted
to wear. Make another request quickly. I would rather shop than
Also, if you need any information as to how to run a
cooking-school, I will enclose it with the next package.
Since the war, scores of Japanese women are wild to learn foreign
cooking. On inquiry as to the reason of such enthusiasm, we found
it was because their husbands, while away from home, had acquired a
taste for Occidental dainties. Now their wives want to know all
about them so they can set up opposition in their homes to the many
tea-houses which offer European food as an extra attraction. And
depend upon it, if the women start to learn, they stick to it till
there is nothing more to know on the subject.
I was to furnish the knowledge and the ladies the necessary
utensils, but I guess I forgot to mention everything we might need.
The first thing we tried was biscuit. All went well until the time
came for baking. I asked for a pan. A pan? What kind of a pan?
Would a wash pan do? No, if it was all the same I would rather
have a flat pan with a rim. Certainly! Here it was with a rim and
a handle! A shiny dust-pan greeted my eyes. Well, there was not
very much difference in the taste of the biscuit.
The prize accomplishment so far has been pies. Our skill has not
only brought us fame, but the city is in the throes of a pie
epidemic. A few days ago when the old Prince of the Ken came to
visit his Hiroshima home, the cooking-ladies, after a few days'
consultation, decided that in no better way could royalty be
welcomed than by sending him a lemon pie. They sent two creamy
affairs elaborately decorated with meringued Fujis. They were the
hit of the season. The old gentleman wrote a poem about them
saying he ate one and was keeping the other to take back to his
country home when he returned a month hence. Then he sent us all a
We have had only one catastrophe. In a moment of reckless
adventure my pupils tried a pound cake without a recipe. A pound
cake can be nothing else but what it says. That meant a pound of
everything and Japanese soda is doubly strong. That was a week ago
and we have not been able to stay in the room since.
Good-by! The tailless pink cat and the purple fish with the pale
blue eyes are for the kiddies.
I am inclosing an original recipe sent in by Miss Turtle Swamp of
Clear Water Village:
1 cup of _Desecrated_ coconut
5 cup flowers
1 small spoon and barmilla [vanilla]
3 eggs skinned and whipped
1 cup sugar
Stir and pat in pan to cook.
HIROSHIMA, December, 1911.
I would be ashamed to tell you how long it is between Jack's
letters. He says the activity of the revolutionists in China is
seriously interfering with traffic of every kind. All right, let
it go at that! Now he has gone way up north of Harbin. In the
name of anything why cannot he be satisfied? England is with him.
I do not know who also is in the party. Neither do I care. I do
not like it a little bit. Jealous? The idea. Just plain furious.
I am no more afraid of Jack falling in love with another woman than
I am of Saturn making Venus a birthday present of one of his rings.
The trouble is she may fall in love with him, and it is altogether
unnecessary for any other woman to get her feelings disturbed over
I fail to see the force of his argument that it is not safe nor
wise for any woman in that country, and yet for him to show wild
enthusiasm over the presence of the Britisher. No, Jack has lost
his head over intellect. It may take a good sharp blow for him to
realize that intellect, pure and simple, is an icy substitute for
love. Like most men he is so deadly sure of one, he is taking a
holiday with the other.
Of course you are laughing at me. So would Jack. And both would
say it is unworthy. That's just it. It is the measly little
unworthies that nag one to desperation. Besides, Mate, I shrink
from any more trouble, any more heart-aches as I would from names.
The terror of the by-gone years creeps over me and covers the
present like a pall.
There is only one thing left to do. Work. Work and dig, till
there is not an ounce of strength left for worry. I stay in the
kindergarten every available minute. The unstinted friendship of
the kiddies over there, is the heart's-ease for so many of life's
There are always the long walks, when healing and uplift of spirit
can be found in the beauty of the country. I tramp away all alone.
The little Swede begs often to go. At first I rather enjoyed him.
But he is growing far too affectionate. I am not equal to caring
for two young things; a broken-hearted girl and a homesick fat boy
are too much for me. He is improving so rapidly I think it better
for him to talk love stories and poetry to some one more
appreciative. I am not in a very poetical mood. He might just as
well talk to the pretty young teacher as to talk about her all the
I have scores of friends up and down the many country roads I
travel. The boatmen on the silvery river, who always wave their
head rags in salute, the women hoeing in the fields with babies on
their backs, stop long enough to say good day and good luck. The
laughing red-cheeked coolie girls pause in their work of driving
piles for the new bridge to have a little talk about the wonders of
a foreigner's head. With bated breath they watch while I give them
proof that my long hatpins do not go straight through my skull.
The sunny greetings of multitudes of children lift the shadows from
the darkest day, and always there is the glorious scenery; the
shadowed mystery of the mountains, a turquoise sky, the blossoms
and bamboo. The brooding spirit of serenity soon envelops me, and
in its irresistible charm is found a tender peace.
On my way home, in the river close to shore, is a crazy little
tea-house. It is furnished with three mats and a paper lantern.
The pretty hostess, fresh and sweet from her out-of-door life,
brings me rice, tea and fresh eel. She serves it with such
gracious hospitality it makes my heart warm. While I eat, she
tells me stories of the river life. I am learning about the social
life of families of fish and their numerous relatives that sport in
the "Thing of Substance River"; the habits of the red-headed wild
ducks which nest near; of the god and goddesses who rule the river
life, the pranks they play, the revenge they take. And, too, I am
learning a lesson in patience through the lives of the humble
fishermen. In season seven cents a day is the total of their
earnings. At other times, two cents is the limit. On this they
manage to live and laugh and raise a family. It is all so simple
and childlike, so free from pretension, hurry and rush. Sometimes
I wonder if it is not we, with our myriad interests, who have
strayed from the real things of life.
On my road homeward, too, there is a crudely carved Buddha. He is
so altogether hideous, they have put him in a cage of wooden slats.
On certain days it is quite possible to try your fortune, by buying
a paper prayer from the priest at the temple, chewing it up and
throwing it through the cage at the image. If it sticks you will
My aim was not straight or luck was against me to-day. My prayers
are all on the floor at the feet of the grinning Buddha.
Jack is in Siberia and Uncle has Sada. I have not heard from her
since she left. I am growing truly anxious.
At last I have a letter from Jack. Strange to say I am about as
full of enthusiasm over the news he gives me as a thorn-tree is of
He says he has something like a ton of notes and things on the
various stunts of the bubonic germ in Manchuria when it is feeling
fit and spry. But he is seized with a conviction that he must go
somewhere in northwest China where he thinks there is happy
hunting-ground of evidence which will verify his report to the
Government. Suppose the next thing I hear he will be chasing
around the outer rim of the old world hunting for somebody to
verify the Government.
There is absolutely no use of my trying to say the name of the
place he has started for. Even when written it looks too wicked to
pronounce. It is near the Pass that leads into the Gobi Desert.
Jack wrote me to go to Shanghai and he would join me later. I am
writing him that I can't start till the fate of Sada San is settled
for better or for worse.
NANKOW, CHINA. February, 1912.
News of Jack's desperate illness came to me ten days ago and has
laid waste my heart as the desert wind blasts life. I have been
flying to him as fast as boat and train and cart will take me.
The second wire reached me in Peking last night. Jack has typhus
fever and the disease is nearing the crisis. I have read the
message over and over, trying to read between the lines some faint
glimmer of hope; but I can get no comfort from the noncommittal
words except the fact that Jack is still alive. I am on my way to
the terminus of the railroad, from where the message was sent. I
came this far by train, only to find all regular traffic stopped by
order of the Government. The line may be needed for the escape of
the Imperial Family from Peking if the Palace is threatened by the
Orders had been given that no foreigner should leave the Legation
enclosure. I bribed the room boy to slip me through the side
streets and dark alleys to an outside station. I must go the rest
of the distance by cart when the road is possible, by camel or
donkey when not. Nothing seems possible now. Everything within
sight looks as if it had been dead for centuries, and the people
walking around have just forgotten to be buried.
I am wild with impatience to be gone but neither bribes nor threats
will hurry the coolies who take their time harnessing the donkeys
and the camels.
A ring of ossified men, women and children have formed about me,
staring with unblinking eyes, till I feel as if I was full of peep
holes. It is not life, for neither youth nor love nor sorrow has
ever passed this way. The tiniest emotion would shrivel if it
dared begin to live. Maybe they are better so. But then, they
have never known Jack.
How true it is that one big heart-ache withers up all the little
ones and the joy of years as well. With this terror upon me, even
Sada's desperate trouble has faded and grown pale as the memory of
a dream. Jack is ill and I must get to him, though my body is
racked with the rough travel, and the ancient road holds the end of
love and life for me.
Around the sad old world I am stretching out my arms to you, Mate,
for the courage to face whatever comes, and your love which has
never failed me.
Such wild unbelievable things have happened!
After twenty miles of intolerable shaking on the back of a camel,
my battered body fell off at the last stopping-place, which
happened to be here. There is no hotel. But three blessed
European hoys living at this place--agents for a big tobacco
firm--took me into their little home. From that time--ten days
ago--till now, they have served and cared for me as only sons who
have not forgotten their mothers could do.
On that awful night I came, while forcing food on me, they said
that Jack had stopped with them on his way out to the desert, where
he was to complete his work for the Government. He was to go part
of the distance with the English woman, who, with her camels and
her guides, was traveling to the Siberian railroad. The next day
they heard the whole caravan had returned. Four days out Jack had
been taken ill. The only available shelter was an old monastery
about a mile from the village. To this he had been moved. My
hosts opened a window and pointed to a far-away, high-up light. It
was like the flicker of a match in a vast cave of darkness. They
told me wonderful things of the rooms in the monastery, which were
cut in the solid rock of the mountain-side, and the strange dwarf
priest who kept it.
They lied beautifully and cheerfully as to Jack's condition, and
all the time in their hearts they knew that he had the barest
chance to live through the night.
The woman doctor had nursed him straight through, permitting no one
else near. The dwarf priest brought her supplies.
Her last message for the day had been, "The crisis will soon be
Even now something grips my throat when I remember how those dear
boys worked to divert me, until my strength revived. They rigged
up a battered steamer-chair with furs and bath robes, put me in it,
promising that as soon as I was rested they would see what could be
done to get me up to the monastery. But I was not to worry. All
of them set about seeing I had no time to think. Each took his
turn in telling me marvelous tales of the life in that wild
country. One boy brought in the new litter of puppies, begging me
to carefully choose a name for each. The two ponies were trotted
out and put through their pranks before the door in the half light
of a dim lantern.
They showed me the treasures of their bachelor life, the family
photographs and the various little nothings which link isolated
lives to home and love. They even assured me they had had _the_
table-cloth and napkins washed for my coming. Household interests
exhausted, they began to talk of boyhood days. Their quiet voices
soothed me. Prom exhaustion I slept. When I woke, my watch said
one o'clock. The house was heavy with sleeping-stillness.
Through my window, far away the dim light wavered. It seemed to be
signaling me. My decision was quick. I would go, and alone. If I
called, my hosts would try to dissuade me, and I would not listen.
For life or for death, I was going to Jack. The very thought lent
me strength and gave my feet cunning stealthiness. A high wall was
around the house but, thank Heaven, they had forgotten to lock the
Soon I was in the deserted, deep-rutted street shut in on either
side by mud hovels, low and crouching close together in their
pitiful poverty. There was nothing to guide me, save that distant
speck of flame. Further on, I heard the rush of water and made out
the dim line of an ancient bridge. Half way across I stumbled.
From the heap of rags my foot had struck, came moans, and, by the
sound of it, awful curses. It was a handless leper. I saw the
stumps as they flew at me. Sick with horror, I fled and found an
The light still beckoned. The way was heavy with high, drifted
sand. The courage of despair goaded me to the utmost effort.
Forced to pause for breath, I found and leaned against a post. It
was a telegraph pole. In all the blackness and immeasurable
loneliness, it was the solitary sign of an inhabited world. And
the only sound was the wind, as it sang through the taut wires in
the unspeakable sadness of minor chords. A camel caravan came by,
soft-footed, silent and inscrutable. I waited till it passed out
to the mysteries of the desert beyond the range of hills.
I began again to climb the path. It was lighter when I crept
through a broken wall and found myself in a stone courtyard, with
gilded shrines and grinning Buddhas. One image more hideous than
the rest, with eyes like glow-worms, untangled its legs and came
towards me. I shook with fright. But it was only the dwarf
priest--a monstrosity of flesh and blood, who kept the temple. I
pointed to the light which seemed to be hanging to the side of the
rocks above. He slowly shook his head, then rested it on his hands
and closed his eyes. I pushed him aside and painfully crawled up
the shallow stone stairs, and found a door at the top. I opened
it. Lying on a stone bed was Jack, white and still. A woman
leaned over him with her hand on his wrist. Her face was heavily
lined with a long life of sorrow. On her head was a crown of
snow-white hair. She raised her hand for silence. I fell at her
feet a shaking lump of misery.
I could not live through it again, Mate--those remaining hours
of agony, when every second seemed the last for Jack. But morning
dawned, and with the miracle of a new-born day came the magic gift
of life. When Jack opened his eyes and feebly stretched out his
hand to me, my singing heart gave thanks to God.
And so the crisis was safely passed. And the hateful science I
believed was taking Jack from me, in the skilful hands of a good
woman, gave him back to me.
The one comfort left me in the humiliation of my petty, unreasoning
jealousy--yes, I had been jealous--was to tell her.
And she, whose name was Edith Bowden, opened to me the door of her
secret garden, wherein lay the sweet and holy memories of her
lover, dead in the long ago.
For forty long and lonesome years she had unfalteringly held before
her the vision of her young sweetheart and his work, and through
them she had toiled to make real his ideals.
I take it all back, Mate. A career that makes such women as this
is a beautiful and awesome thing.
In spite of all my pleadings to come with us, Miss Bowden started
once again on her lonely way across the wind-swept plains, back to
Europe and her work, leaving me with a never-to-be-forgotten
humility of spirit and an homage in my heart that never before have
I paid a woman.
I am too polite to say it, but I have had a taste of the place you
spell with four letters. Also of Heaven. Just now, with Jack's
thin hand safely in mine, I am hovering around the doors of
Paradise in the house of the boys in Kalgan. If you could see the
dusty little Chinese-Mongolian village, hanging on the upper lip of
the mouth of the Gobi Desert, you would think it a strange place to
find bliss. But joy can beautify sand and Sodom.
Yesterday my hosts made me take a ride out into the Desert. Oh,
Mate, in spots these glittering golden sands are sublime. My heart
was so light and the air so rare, it was like flying through sunlit
space on a legless horse.
Life, or what answers to it, has been going on in the same way
since thousands of years before Pharaoh went on that wild lark to
the Red Sea. Every minute I expected to see Abraham and Sarah
trailing along with their flocks and their families, hunting a
place to stake out a claim, and Noah somewhere on a near-by
sand-hill, taking in tickets for the Ark Museum, while the "two by
two's" fed below. I never heard of these friends being in this
part of the country, but you can never tell what a wandering spirit
Jack is getting fat laughing at me. But Jack never was a lady and
does not know what havoc imagination and the spell of the East can
play with a loving but lonesome wife. And take it from me,
beloved, he never will. Nothing gained in exposing all your
follies. He sends love to you. So do I--from the joyful heart of
a woman whose most terrible troubles never happened.
PEKING, February, 1912.
I do not know whether I can write you sanely or not. But write you
I must. It is my one outlet in these days of anxious waiting. I
have just cabled Billy Milton, in Nebraska, to come by the first
steamer. I have not an idea what he will do when he gets to Japan,
or how I will help him; but he is my one hope.
Yesterday, on our arrival here, I found a desperate letter from
Sada San, written hurriedly and sent secretly. She finds that the
man Hara, whom her uncle has promised she shall marry, has a wife
and three children!
The man, on the flimsiest pretest, has sent the woman home to clear
his establishment for the new wife. And, Mate, can you believe it,
he has kept the children--the youngest a nursing baby, just three
One of the geisha girls in the tea-house slipped in one night and
told Sada. She went at once to Uncle and asked him if it was true.
He said that it was, and that Sada should consider herself very
lucky to be wanted by such a man. Upon Sada telling him she would
die before she would marry the man, he laughed at her. Since then
she has not been permitted to leave her room.
The lucky day for marriage has been found and set. Thank goodness,
it is seventeen days from now, and if Billy races across by
Vancouver he can make it. In the meantime Nebraska seems a million
miles away. I know the heartbeats of the fellow who is riding to
the place of execution, with a reprieve. But seventeen days is a
deadly slow nag.
I had already told Jack of my anxiety for Sada San and of the fate
that was hanging over her, but now that the blow has suddenly
fallen I dare not tell him. In a situation like this I know what
Jack would want to do; and in his present weakened condition it
might be fatal.
It is useless for me to appeal to anybody out here. Those in Japan
who would help are powerless. Those who could help would smile
serenely and tell me it was the law. And law and custom supersede
any lesser question of right or wrong. By it the smallest act of
every inhabitant is regulated, from the quantity of air he breathes
to the proper official place for him to die. But, imagine the
_majesty_ of any law which makes it a ghastly immorality to mildly
sass your mother-in-law, and a right, lawful and moral act for a
man, with any trumped-up excuse, to throw his legal wife out of the
house, that room may be made for another woman who has appealed to
Japan may not need missionaries, but, by all the Mikados that ever
were or will be, her divorce laws need a few revisions more than
the nation needs battleships. You might run a country without
gunboats, but never without women.
This case of Hara is neither extreme nor unusual. I have been face
to face in this flowery kingdom with tragedies of this kind when a
woman was the blameless victim of a man's caprice, and he was
upheld by a law that would shame any country the sun shines on. By
a single stroke of a pen through her name, on the records at the
courthouse, the woman is divorced--sometimes before she knows it.
Then she goes away to hide her disgrace and her broken heart--not
broken because of her love for the man who has cast her off, but
because, from the time she is invited to go home on a visit and her
clothes are sent after her, on through life, she is marked. If she
has children, the chances are that the husband retains possession
of them, and she is seldom, if ever, permitted to see them.
I know your words of caution would be, Mate, not to be rash in my
condemnations, to remember the defects of my own land. I am
neither forgetful nor rash. I do not expect to reform the country,
neither am I arguing. I am simply telling you facts.
I know, too, that some Fountain Head of knowledge will rise from
the back seat and beg to state that the new civil code contains
many revisions and regulates divorce. The only trouble with the
new civil code is that it keeps on containing the revisions and
only in theory do they get beyond the books in which they are
Next to my own, in my affections, stands this sunlit,
flower-covered land which has given the world men and women
unselfishly brave and noble. But there are a few deformities in
the country's law system that need the knife of a skilled surgeon,
amputating right up to the last joint; among these the divorce laws
made in ancient times by the gone-to-dust but still sacred and
revered ancestors. Who would give a hang for any old ancestor so
cut on the bias?
I cannot write any more. I am too agitated to be entertaining.
I wrote Sada a revised version of Blue Beard that would turn that
venerable gentleman gray, could he read it. Uncle will be sure to.
I dare him to solve the puzzle of my fancy writing. But I made
Sada San know the Prince Red Head was coming to her rescue, if the
engine did not break down.
Now there is nothing to do but wait and pray there are no weak
spots in Billy's backbone.
Cable just received. William is on the wing!
PEKING, CHINA, February, 1912.
Well, here we still are, my convalescent Jack and I, bottled up in
the middle of a revolution, and poor, helpless little Sada San
calling to me across the waters. Verily, these are strenuous days
for this perplexed woman.
It is a tremendous sight to look out upon the incomprehensible
saffron-hued masses that crowd the streets. I no longer wonder at
the color of the Yellow Sea.
But, Oh, Mate, if I could only make you see the gilded walled city,
in which history of the ages is being laid in dust and ashes, while
the power that made it is hastening down the back alley to a
mountain nunnery for safety! Peking is like a beautiful golden
witch clothed in priceless garments of dusty yellow, girded with
ropes of pearls. Her eyes are of jade, and so fine is the powdered
sand she sifts from her tapering fingers it turns the air to an
amber haze; so potent its magic spell, it fascinates and enthralls,
while it repels.
For all the centuries the witch has held the silken threads, which
bound her millions of subjects, she has been deaf--deaf to the
cries of starvation, injustice and cruelty; heedless to devastation
of life by her servants; smiling at piles of headless men; gloating
over torture when it filled her treasure-house.
Ever cruel and heartless, now she is all a-tremble and sick with
fear of the increasing power of the mighty young giant--Revolution.
She sees from afar her numbered days. She is crying for the mercy
she never showed, begging for time she never granted. She is a
tottering despot, a dying tyrant, but still a beautiful golden
We have not been here long but my soul has been sickened by the
sights of the pitiless consequences of even the rumors of war all
over the country and particularly in Peking. If only the
responsible ones could suffer. But it is the poor, the innocent
and the old who pay the price for the greed of the others. In
this, how akin the East is to the West! The night we came there
was a run on the banks caused by the report that Peking was to be
looted and burned. Crowds of men, women and even children,
hollow-eyed and haggard, jammed the streets before the doors of the
banks, pleading for their little all. Some of them had as much as
two dollars stored away! But it was the twenty dimes that deferred
slow starvation. Banks kept open through the night. Officials and
clerks worked to exhaustion, satisfying demands, hoping to placate
the mob and avert the unthinkable results of a riot. Countless
soldiers swarmed the streets with fixed bayonets. But the
bloodless witch has no claim to one single heart-beat of loyalty
from the unpaid wretches who wear the Imperial uniform; and when by
simply tying a white handkerchief on their arms they go over in
groups of hundreds to the Revolutionists, they are only repaying
treachery in its own foul coin.
Though I hate to leave Jack even for an hour, I have to get out
each day for some fresh air. To-day it seemed to me, as I walked
among the crowds, fantastic in the flickering flames of bonfires
and incandescent light, that life had done its cruel worst to these
people--had written her bitterest tokens of suffering and woe in
the deeply furrowed faces and sullenly hopeless eyes.
Earlier in the year thousands of farmers and small tradesmen had
come in from the country to escape floods, famine and robber-bands.
Hundreds had sold their children for a dollar or so and for days
lived on barks and leaves, as they staggered toward Peking for
Now thousands more are rushing from the city to the hills or to the
desert, fleeing from riot and war, the strong carrying the sick,
the young the old--each with a little bundle of household goods,
all camping near the towering gates in the great city wall, ready
to dash through when the keeper flings them open in the early
And through it all the merciless execution of any suspect or
undesirable goes merrily on. Close by my carriage a cart passed.
In it were four wretched creatures with hands and feet bound and
pigtails tied together. They were on their way to a plot of
crimson ground where hundreds part with their heads. By the side
of the cart ran a ten-year-old boy, his uplifted face distorted
with agony of grief. One of the prisoners was his father.
I watched the terrified masses till a man and woman of the
respectable farmer class came by, with not enough rags on to hide
their half-starved bodies. Between them they carried on their
shoulders a bamboo pole, from which was swung a square of matting.
On this, in rags, but clean, lay a mere skeleton of a baby with
beseeching eyes turned to its mother; and from its lips came
piteous little whines like a hunger-tortured kitten. Tears
streamed down the woman's cheeks as she crooned and babbled to the
child in a language only a tender mother knows, but in her eyes was
the look of a soul crucified with helpless suffering.
I slipped all the money I had into the straw cradle and fled to our
room. Jack was asleep. I got into my bed and covered up my head
to shut out the horrors of the multitude that are hurting my own
heart like an eternal toothache.
But, honey, bury me deep when there isn't a smile lurking around
the darkest corner. Neither war nor famine can wholly eliminate
the comical. Yesterday afternoon some audacious youngsters asked
me to chaperon a tea-party up the river. We went in a gaily
decorated house-boat, made tea on a Chinese stove of impossible
shape, and ate cakes and sandwiches innumerable. Aglow with youth
and its joys, reckless of danger, courting adventure, the promoters
of the enterprise failed to remember that we were outside the city
walls, that the gates were closed at sunset and nothing but a
written order from an official could open them. We had no such
order. When it was quite dark, we faced entrances doubly locked
and barred. The guardian inside might have been dead for all he
heeded our importunities and bribes. At night outside the huge
pile of brick and stone, inclosing and guarding the city from
lawless bandits, life is not worth a whistle. A dismayed little
giggle went round the crowd of late tea revelers as we looked up
the twenty-five feet of smooth wall topped by heavy battlements.
Just when we had about decided that our only chance was to stand on
each other's shoulders and try to hack out footholds with a bread
knife, some one suggested that we try the effect of college yells
on the gentlemen within. Imagine the absurdity of a dozen
terrified Americans standing there in the heart of China yelling in
unison for Old Eli, and Nassau, and the Harvard Blue!
The effect was magical. Curiosity is one of the strongest of
Oriental traits, and before long the gates creaked on their hinges
and a crowd of slant-eyed, pig-tailed heads peered wonderingly out.
The rest was easy, and I heard a great sigh of relief as I
marshaled my little group into safety.
Jack's many friends here in Peking are determined that I shall have
as good a time as possible. Worried by disorganized business,
harassed with care, they always find opportunity not only to plan
for my pleasure but see that I have it, properly attended--for of
course Jack is not yet able to leave his room.
Beyond the power of any man is the prophecy of what may happen to
official-ridden Peking. The air is surcharged with mutterings.
The brutally oppressed people may turn at last, rise, and, in their
fury, rend to bits all flesh their skeleton fingers grasp.
The Legations grouped around the hotel are triply guarded. The
shift, shift, shift of soldiers' feet as they march the streets
rubs my nerves like sandpaper.
Rest and sleep are impossible. We seem constantly on the edge of a
precipice, over which, were we to go, the fate awaiting us would
reduce the tortures of Hades to pin-pricks. The Revolutionists
have the railroads, the bandits the rivers. Yet, if I don't reach
Japan in twelve days now, I will be too late. Poor Sada San!
Please say to your small son David that his request to send him an
Emperor's crown to wear when he plays king, is not difficult to
grant. At the present writing crowns in the Orient are not
fashionable. As I look out of my window, the salmon-pink walls of
the Forbidden City rise in the dusty distance. Under the flaming
yellow roof of the Palace is a frail and frightened little
six-year-old boy--the ruler of millions--who, if he knew and could,
would gladly exchange his priceless crown for freedom and a bag of
PEKING, Next day.
It is Sunday afternoon and pouring rain. Outside it is so drearily
mournful, I keep my back turned. At least, the dripping wet will
secure me a quiet hour or so.
My Chinese room-boy reasons that only a sure-enough somebody would
have so many callers and attend so many functions--not knowing that
it is only because Jack's wife will never lack where he has
friends. Hence the boy haunts my door ready to serve and reap his
reward. But I am sure it was only kindness that prompted him on
this dreary day to set the fire in the grate to blazing and arrange
the tea-table, the steaming kettle close by, and turn on all the
lights. How cozy it is! How homelike!
Jack grows stronger each day, and crosser, which is a good sign.
At last I have told him of Sada San's plight; and he is for
starting for Kioto to-morrow to "wipe the floor with Uncle Mura,"
as he elegantly expresses it. But of course he 's still too weak
to even think of such a journey.
He makes me join in the gaieties that still go on despite the
turmoil and unrest. I must tell you of one dinner which, of the
many brilliant functions, was certainly unique.
It was a sumptuous affair given by one of the Legation officials.
I wore my glory dress--the color Jack loves best. I went in a
carriage guarded on the outside by soldiers. Beside me sat a
strapping European with his pockets bulging suspiciously. I was
not in the least afraid of the threatening mob which stopped us
I could almost have welcomed an attack, just to get behind my big
escort and see him clear the way.
Merciful powers! Hate is a sweet and friendly word for what the
masses feel for the foreigners, whom most believe to be in league
with the Government.
Happily, nothing more serious happened than breaking all the
carriage windows; and, in the surprise that awaited me in the
drawing-room of the gorgeously appointed mansion, I quite forgot
Who should be almost the first to greet me but Dolly and Mr. Dolly,
otherwise the Seeker, married and on their honeymoon! She was
radiant. And oh, Mate, if you could only see the change in him!
As revolutions seem to be in order, Dolly has worked a prize one on
him, I think. He was positively gentle and showed signs of the
making of a near gentleman. I was glad to see them, and more than
glad to see Dolly's unfeigned happiness. The mournful little
prince has gone on his way to lonely, isolated Sikkam to take up
his task of endless reincarnation.
Very soon I found another surprise--my friend Mr. Carson of the
Rockies. It seemed a little incongruous that the simple,
unlettered Irishman should have found his way into the brilliant,
many-countried company, where were men who made history and held
the fate of nations in their hands and built or crumbled empires,
and women to match, regally gowned, keen of wit and wisdom.
But, bless you, he was neither troubled nor out of place. He was
the essence of democracy and mixed with the guests with the same
innocent simplicity that he would have shown at his village church
He greeted me cordially, asked after Jack and spoke
enthusiastically of his work.
I smiled when I saw that in the curious shuffling of cards he had
been chosen as the dinner escort of a tall and stately Russian
beauty. I watched them walk across the waxen floor and heard him
say to her, "Sure if I had time I would telegraph for me roller
skates to guide ye safely over the slickness of the boards." Her
answering laugh, sweet and friendly, was reassuring.
For a while it was a deadly solemn feast. The difficulty was to
find topics of common interest without stumbling upon forbidden
subjects. You see, Mate, times are critical; and the only way to
keep out of trouble is not to get in by being too wordy. By my
side sat a stern-visaged leader of the Revolution. Across the way,
a Manchu Prince.
Mr. Carson and the beauty were just opposite. I became absorbed in
watching her exquisite tact in guiding the awkward hands of her
partner through the silver puzzle on each side of his plate to the
right eating utensils at the proper time. I saw her pleased
interest in all his talk, whether it was crops, cider or pigtails.
And for her gentle courtesy and kindness to my old friend I blessed
her and wiped out a big score I had against her country. How glad
Russia will be!
But the Irishman was not happy. Course after course had been
served. With every rich course came a rare wine. Colorado shook a
shaggy gray head at every bottle, though he was choking with
thirst. He was a teetotaler. Whenever boy No. 1, who served the
wine, approached, he whispered, "Water." It got to be "Water,
please, _water_!" Then threateningly, "Water, blame ye! Fetch me
water." It was vain pleading. At best a Chinaman is no friend to
water; and when the word is flung at him with an Emerald accent it
fails to arrive. But ten courses without moisture bred
desperation; and all at once, down the length of that banquet
board, went a hoarsely whispered plea, in the richest imaginable
"Hostess, _where 's_ the pump?"
It was like a sky-rocket scattering showers of sparks on a lowering
cloud. In a twinkling the heaviness of the feast was dispersed by
shouts of laughter. Everybody found something delightful to tell
that was not dangerous.
We wound up by going to a Chinese theater. When we left, after two
hours of death and devastation, the demands of the drama for gore
were still so great, assistants had to be called from out the
audience to change the scenery and dead men brought to life to go
on with the play.
When I got back Jack was, of course, asleep; but he had been busy
in my absence. I found a note on my pin-cushion saying he had sent
a wire to meet Billy's steamer on its arrival at Yokohama and that
I 'm to start alone for Japan in a day or two--as soon as it seems
safe to travel.
Honey, there is a thrill a minute. I may not live to see the
finish, for the soldiers have mutinied and joined the mob, maddened
with lust for blood and loot. I must tell you about it while I
can; for it is not every day one has the chance of seeing a fresh
and daring young Republic sally up to an all-powerful dynasty,
centuries old with tyranny and treasure, and say, "Now, you vamoose
the Golden Throne. It matters not where you go, but hustle; and I
don't want any back talk while you are doing it."
If I was n't so excited I might be nervous. But, Mate, when you
see a cruelly oppressed people winning their freedom with almost
nothing to back them hut plain grit, you want to sing, dance, pray
and shout all at the same time, and there is no mistake about young
China having a mortgage on all the surplus nerve of the country.
Of course, the mob, awful as it is, is simply an unavoidable
attachment of war.
All day there has been terrible fighting, and I am told the streets
are blocked with headless bodies and plunder that could not be
The way the mob and the soldier-bandits got into the city is a
story that makes any tale of the Arabian Nights fade away into dull
Some years ago a Manchu official, high in command, espied a
beautiful flower-girl on the street and forthwith attached her as
his private property. So great was her fascination, the tables
were turned and he became the slave--till he grew tired. He not
only scorned her, but he deserted her. Though a Manchu maid, the
Revolution played into her tapering fingers the opportunity for the
sweetest revenge that ever tempted an almond-eyed beauty. It had
been the proud boast of her officer master that he could resist any
attacking party and hold the City Royal for the Manchus. Alas! he
reckoned without a woman. She knew a man outside the city walls--a
leader of an organization--half soldiery, half bandits--who
thirsted for the chance to pay off countless scores against
officers and private citizens inside. After a vain effort to win
back her lover, the flower-girl communicated with the captain of
the rebel band, who had only been deterred from entering the city
by a high wall twenty feet thick. She told him to be ready to come
in on a certain night--the gates would be open. The night came.
She slipped from doorway to doorway through the guarded streets
till she reached the appointed place. Even the sentries
unconsciously lent a hand to her plan, in leaving their posts and
seeking a tea-house fire by which to warm their half-frozen bodies.
The one-time jewel of the harem, who had seldom lifted her own
teacup, tugged at the mighty gates with her small hands till the
bars were raised and in rushed the mob. She raced to her home,
decked herself in all the splendid jewels he had given her, stuck
red roses in her black hair, and stood on a high roof and jeered
her lover as he fled for his life through the narrow streets.
The city is bright with the fires started by the rabble. The
yellow roofs, the pink walls and the towering marble pagodas catch
the reflection of the flames, making a scene of barbaric splendor
that would reduce the burning of Rome to a feeble little bonfire.
The pitiful, the awful and the very funny are so intermixed, my
face is fatally twisted trying to laugh and cry at the same time.
Right across from my window, on the street curbing, a Chinaman is
getting a hair-cut. In the midst of all the turmoil, hissing
bullets and roaring mobs, he sits with folded hands and closed eyes
as calm as a Joss, while a strolling barber manipulates a pair of
foreign shears. For him blessed freedom lies not in the change of
Monarchy to Republic, but in the shearing close to the scalp the
hated badge of bondage--his pigtail.
And, Mate, the first thing the looters do when they enter a house
is to snatch down the telephones and take them out to burn; for, as
one rakish bandit explained, they were the talking-machines of the
foreign devils and, if left, might reveal the names of the looters!
High-born ladies with two-inch feet stumble by, their calcimined
faces streaked with tears and fright. Gray-haired old men shiver
with terror and try to hide in any small corner. Lost children and
deserted ones, frantic with fear, cling to any passer-by, only to
be shoved into the street and often trampled underfoot. And
through it all, the mob runs and pitilessly mows down with sword
and knife as it goes, and plunders and sacks till there is nothing
As I stood watching only a part of this horror, I heard a
long-haired brother near me say, as he kept well under cover,
"Inscrutable Providence!" But (my word!) I don't think it fair to
lay it all on Providence.
So far the foreign Legations have been well guarded. But there is
no telling how long the overworked soldiers can hold out. When
they cannot, the Lord help the least one of us.
Jack's friends are working day and night, guarding their property.
I guess the Seeker found more of the plain unvarnished Truth in the
East than he bargained for. He and Dolly have disappeared from
Nobody undresses these nights and few go to bed. Our bodyguard is
the room-boy. I asked him which side he was on, and without a
change of feature he answered, "Manchu Chinaman. Allee samee
bimeby, Missy, I make you tea." I have a suspicion that he sleeps
across our door, for his own or our protection, I am not sure
which; but sometimes, when the terrible howls of fighters reach me,
as I doze in a chair, I turn on the light and sit by my fire to
shake off a few shivers, trying to make believe I 'm home in
Kentucky, while Jack sleeps the sleep of the convalescent. Then a
soft tap comes at my door and a very gentle voice says, "Missy, I
make you tea." Shades of Pekoe! I 'll drown if this keeps up much
longer. He comes in, brews the leaves, then drops on his haunches
and looks into the fire. Not by the quiver of an eyelash does he
give any sign, no matter how close the shots and shouts.
Inscrutable and immovable, he seems a thing utterly apart from the
tremendous upheaval of his country. And yet, for all anybody
knows, he may be chief plotter of the whole movement. His unmoved
serenity is about the most soothing thing in all this Hades. I am
not really and truly afraid. Jack is with me, and just over there,
above the crimson glare of the burning city, gently but surely
float the Stars and Stripes.
Good night, beloved Mate. I will not believe we are dead till it
happens. Besides, I simply could not die till Jack and I have
saved Sada San.
By the way, I start for Japan tomorrow. The prayers of the
congregation are requested!
KIOTO HOTEL, KIOTO, March, 1912.
Rejoice with me! Sing psalms and give thanks. Something has
happened. I do not know just what it is, but little thrills of
happiness are playing hop-scotch up and down my back, and my bead
is lighter than usual.
Be calm and I will tell you about it.
In the first place, I got here this morning, more dead than alive,
after days of travel that are now a mere blur of yelling crowds,
rattling trains and heaving seas. A wire from Yokohama was
waiting. Billy had beat me here by a few hours. At noon, to-day,
a big broad-shouldered youth met me, whom I made no mistake in
greeting as Mr. Milton. Billy's eyes are beautifully brown.
William's chin looks as if it was modeled for the purpose of
dealing with tea-house Uncles.
Not far from the station is a black-and-tan temple--ancient and
restful. To that we strolled and sat on the edge of the Fountain
of Purification, which faces the quiet monastery garden, while we
talked things over. That is, Billy did the questioning; I did the
talking to the mystic chanting of the priests.
I quickly related all that I knew of what had happened to Sada, and
what was about to happen. There was no reason for me to adorn the
story with any fringes for it to be effective. Billy's face was
grim. He said little; put a few more questions, then left me
saying he would join me at dinner in the hotel.
I passed an impatient, tedious afternoon. Went shopping, bought
things I can never use, wondering all the time what was going to be
the outcome. Got a reassuring cable from Jack in answer to mine,
saying all was well with him.
Mr. Milton returned promptly this evening. He ordered dinner, then
forgot to eat. He did not refer to the afternoon; and long
intimacy with science has taught me when not to ask questions.
There was only a fragment of a plan in my mind; I had no further
communication from Sada, and knew nothing more than that the
wedding was only a day off.
We decided to go to Uncle's house together. I was to get in the
house and see Sada if possible, taking, as the excuse for calling,
a print on which, in an absent-minded moment, I had squandered
Billy was to stay outside, and, if I could find the faintest reason
for so doing, I was to call him in. This was his suggestion.
I found Uncle scintillating with good humor and hospitality.
Evidently his plans were going smoothly; but not once did he refer
to them. I asked for Sada. Uncle smiled sweetly and said she was
not in. Ananias died for less! He was quite capable of locking
her up in some very quiet spot. I was externally indifferent and
internally dismayed. I showed him my print. At once he was the
eager, interested artist and he went into a long history of the
Though I looked at him and knew he was talking, his words conveyed
no meaning. I was faint with despair. It was my last chance. I
could have wagered Uncle's best picture that Billy was tearing up
gravel outside. I had been in the house an hour, and had
accomplished nothing. Surely if I stayed long enough something had
Suddenly out of my hopelessness came a blessed thought. Uncle had.
once promised to show me a priceless original of Hokusai. I asked
if I might see it then. He was so elated that without calling a
servant to do it for him he disappeared into a deep cupboard to
find his treasure.
For a moment, helpless and desperate, I was swayed with a mad
impulse to lock him up in the cupboard; but there was no lock.
It was so deadly still it hurt. Then, coming from the outside, I
heard a low whistle with an unmistakable American twist to it,
followed by a soft scraping sound. My heart missed two beats. I
did not know what was happening; nor was I sure that Sada was
within the house; but something told me that my cue was to keep
Uncle busy. I obeyed with a heavy accent. When he appeared with
his print, I began to talk. I recklessly repeated pages of
text-books, whether they fitted or not; I fired technical terms at
him till he was dizzy with mental gymnastics.
He smoothed out his precious picture. I fell upon it. I raved
over the straight-front mountains and the marceled waves in that
foolish old woodcut as I had never gushed over any piece of paper
before, and I hope I never will again. Not once did he relinquish
his hold of that faded deformity in art, and neither did I.
Surely I surprised myself with the new joys I constantly found in
the pigeon-toed ladies and slant-eyed warriors. Uncle needed
absorption, concentration and occupation. Mine was the privilege
to give him what he required.
No further sound from the garden and the silence drilled holes into
my nerves. I was so fearful that the man would see my trembling
excitement, I soon made my adieux.
Uncle seemed a little surprised and graciously mentioned that tea
was being prepared for me. I never wanted tea less and solitude
more. I said I must take the night train for Hiroshima. It was a
sudden decision; but to stay would be useless.
I said, "Sayonara," and smiled my sweetest. I had a feeling I
would never see dear Uncle Mura on earth again and doubtless our
environment will differ in the Beyond.
I went to the gate. It faced two streets. Both were empty. Not a
sign of Billy nor the jinrickshas in which we had come. I trod on
air as I tramped back to the hotel.
HIROSHIMA, Five Days Later, 1912.
I am back in my old quarters--safe. Why should n't I be! A
detective has been my constant companion since I left Kioto,
sitting by my berth all night on the train, and following me to the
gates of the School!
I had planned to start back to Peking as soon as Sada and Billy
were clear and away. But this detective business has made me very
wary--not to say weary--and I 've had to postpone my return to Jack
to await the Emperor's pleasure and lest I bring more trouble on
Sada's head, by following too closely on her heels; for I suspect
the blessed elopers are themselves on the way to China.
When I took my walk into the country the afternoon after I got
here, I saw the detective out of the back of my head, and a merry
chase I led him--up the steepest paths I knew, down the rocky
sides, across the ferry, and into the remote village, where I let
him rest his body in the stinging cold while I made an unexpected
call. For once he earned his salary and his supper.
That night I was in the sitting-room alone. A glass door leads out
to an open porch. Conscious of a presence, I looked up to find two
penetrating eyes fixed on me. It made me creepy and cold, yet I
was amused. I sat long and late, but a quiet shadow near the door
told me I was not alone. Even when in bed I could hear soft steps
under my window.
I have just come from an interview that was deliciously
Sada San has disappeared; and, so goes their acute reasoning, as I
was the last person in Uncle's house, before her absence was
discovered, the logical conclusion is that I have kidnapped her.
Two hours ago the scared housemaid came to announce that "two Mr.
Soldiers with swords wanted to speak to me."
I went at once, to find my guardian angel and the Chief of Police
for this district in the waiting-room. We wasted precious minutes
making inquiries about one another's health, accentuating every
other word with a bow and a loud indrawn breath. We were tuning up
for the business in hand.
The chief began by assuring me that I was a teacher of great
learning. I had not heard it but bowed. It was poison to his
spirit to question so honorable, august, and altogether wise a
person, but I was suspected of a grave offense, and I must answer
Where was my home?
How did I live?
Who was my grandfather?
Fortunately I remembered.
Was I married?
Where was my master?
Did not have any. My husband was in China.
Was I in Japan by his permission?
Had I been sent home for disobedience? Please explain.
No explanation. I was just here.
Did I know the penalty for kidnaping?
No, color-prints interested me more.
Had any of my people ever been in the penitentiary?
No, only the Legislature.
At this both men looked puzzled. Then the Chief made a discovery.
"Ah-h," he sighed, "American word for crazysylum!"
Would Madame positively state that she knew nothing of the girl's
whereabouts. Madame positively and truthfully so stated. I did
not know. I only knew what I thought; but, Mate, you cannot arrest
a man for thinking. After a grilling of an hour or so they left
me, looking worried and perplexed. They had never heard of Billy,
and I saw no use adding to their troubles. Nobody seems to have
noticed him at dinner with me; and now that I think of it, he had
men strange to the hotel pulling the jinrickshas.
It was dear of Billy not to implicate me. I am ignorant of what
really happened, but wherever they are I am sure Sada is in the
keeping of an honorable man.
Last night, after I closed this letter, I had a cable. It said:
"Married in heaven,
"BILLY AND SADA."
But the cables must have been crossed, for it was dated Shanghai;
or else the operator was so excited over repeating such a message
he forgot to put in the period.
Just received a letter from Billy and Sada. It is a gladsome tale
they tell. Young Lochinvar, though pale with envy, would how to
Billy's direct method. I can see you, blessed Mate that you are,
smiling delightedly at the grand finale of the true love story I
have been writing you these months. Billy says on the night it all
happened he tramped up and down, waiting for me to call him, till
he wore "gullies in the measly little old cow-path they call a
The passing moments only made him more furious. Finally he decided
to walk right into the house, unannounced, and find Sada if he had
to knock Uncle down and make kindling wood of the bamboo
doll-house. But as he came into the side garden he saw in the
second story a picture silhouetted on the white paper doors. It
was Sada and her face was buried in her hands. That settled Billy.
He would save Uncle all the worry of an argument by simply removing
the cause. There in the dusk, he whistled the old college call,
then swung himself up on a fat stone lantern, and in a few minutes
he swung down a suitcase and Sada in American clothes. They caught
a train to Kobe, which is only a short distance, and sailed out to
the same steamer he had left in Yokohama and which arrived in Kobe
Billy says, for a quick and safe wedding ceremony commend him to an
enthusiastic, newly-arrived young missionary; and for rapid
handling of red tape connected with a license, pin your faith to a
fat and jolly American consul. So that was what the blessed rascal
was doing all that afternoon he left me in Kioto to myself. Cannot
you see success in life branded on William's freckled brow right
The story soon spread over the ship. Passengers and crew packed
the music-room to witness the ceremony, and joyously drank the
health of the lovers at the supper the Captain hastily ordered.
Without hindrance, but half delirious with joy, they headed for
Billy found that he could transact a little business in China for
the firm at home and with Western enterprise decided to make his
honeymoon pay for itself.
And now that my task is finished I shall follow them as fast as the
next steamer can carry me.
PEKING, APRIL, 1912.
Back once again, Mate, in the City of Golden Dusts. Glorious
spring sunshine, and the whole world wrapped in a tender haze.
Everything has little rainbows around it and the very air is
studded with jewels.
Soldiers are still marching; flags are flying; drums are thumping
and it is all to the tune of Victory for the Revolutionists. But
best of all Jack is well! To me Peking is like that first morning
of Eve's in the Garden of Eden.
What crowded, happy weeks these last have been. Waiting for Jack;
amusing him when time hangs heavy--even unto reading pages of
scientific books with words so big the spine of my tongue is
threatened with fracture.
And in between times? Well, I am thanking my stars for the chance
to doubly make up for any little tenderness I may have passed by.
Put it in your daily thought book, honey, forevermore I am going to
remember that if at the time we'd use the strength in doing, that
we consume afterwards being sorry we didn't do, life would run on
an easy trolley.
Billy and Sada are with us, still with the first glow of the
enchanted garden over them. Bless their happy hearts! I am going
to give them my collection of color prints to start housekeeping
with. How I'd _love_ to see Uncle--through a telescope.
To-night we are having our last dinner here. To-morrow the four of
us turn our faces toward the most beautiful spot this side of
Heaven, home. The happy runaways to Nebraska, Jack and I to the
little roost we left behind in Kentucky.
There goes the music for dinner. It 's something about "dreamy
love." Love is n't a dream, Mate--not the kind I know; it's all of
life and beyond.
I know what they are playing!
Breathe but one breath
Rose beauty above
And all that was death
Grows life, grows love,