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Cherished and Honorable Mother, Moy Sen. Most respectful salutations. Bing Ang. Bing Ang.
Your lazy and careless child has much that she wishes to say to you, while her heart bleeds because she is separate by so many miles from the most to be revered Mother.
Though so great distance divide us, yet my heart is as near to you as ever; rivers and mountains will hinder us from seeing one another, but they can never give obstruction to our mutual love and help.
By day and by night I pray for your safety and I offer to heaven much incense, and also foods, and my hope is that no harm may come near to your house.
Before the rise of the sun each day I make my worship as you have taught me, though many of the girls in this College do not so, and sometimes I have very great fear that the Guis (devils) will all swallow up on this account.
One day Miss Sterling come into my room and say, "It offends me much to see so many tablets and images here; will you not place them away from sight at least?" This I do at once having greatest fear to offend and bring upon us all great troubles though not yet come.
Miss Sterling, so beautiful, so good, so full kind thoughts for every one, all girls in this College say, "She too kind, too good." Already I love Miss Sterling so much my heart ache to do some good thing for her.
Last night all girls in this College go take walk on far hills to see set of sun in Ocean; Miss Sterling walk by me and say, "Please try a little to speak out your thought when possible for how then can we help you to better ones?" I promise to try but I always so afraid, O I know I not worthy to speak out my mean thoughts to great people, who all so wise so clever.
For a long time Miss Sterling talk to me of her home in America across the great water, and she tell me many stories of how she live there, how all people live, what kind, beautiful country is America; sometimes I think I see bright tears in her eyes when she so talk, and then I feel sharp pain go into heart, for I well know that this time Miss Sterling think she like much to go to American home.
When Miss Sterling go to American home I surely cry to death; many other girls in the College say same thing.
Each girl in College have one duty for every day, mine very nice kind, must to look all about mails, what time come, what time go, when Steamers close, carry mail to rooms, keep care stamps and all writing materials.
All this make for me very great interest, when big mail come in, every body so much excitement, every body snatch letters then run away and read - read like hungry dog bite bone. Miss Sterling all time get very big letter, very large character on cover, color blue; when big blue letter not come, O then Miss Sterling too sad. One day I very bold and say: "Miss Sterling you very much love big blue letter?" she all smiling say, "Yes truly I do love big blue letter the very best of all."
This time we have very hard work, for spring time near, and much of work is to be done before we to our homes may go.
One day Miss Powers say, "Perhaps we are giving too much hard work just now, perhaps more better we go on river have play for one week." O then all College have greatest joy and excitement; girls all time talk, what can do, how can do. Some times girls talk too late at night, Matron have much hard work. When Matron say, "No more of talk tonight," then all very still for little while, then when Matron go far away, talk begin again, and go on and on. Matron have another bad trouble with girls, every Chinese girl think she die if air from night get into her lungs, so she go to bed and pull Mieng all over head and ears so no air can touch her. Today too sad thing happen, "Miss I Sterling fall ill, cannot to class room come, Dr. Ewing say cannot do work for many days, and ask Matron to send some good girl to help Nurse. Matron appoint me to go, I most happy to have honor, and because of this I can no more write at this time.
To My Honorable Family, Bing Ang. Bing Ang.
Your Most Miserable and Contemptible Child.
To My Honorable and Wise Mother, Moy Sen, Greetings. Bing Ang. Bing Ang.
Two Moons ago I have sorrow to tell you Miss Sterling very ill. This time I have great gladness to tell you she all well again and we all happiness once more.
Great joy and pain have gone over our heads like flocks of birds since last time I have Honor to write to you.
Both day and night I watch over Miss Sterling though Matron say many times I must to go into air or be ill. Nothing can my heart comfort but to every moment look to see if some little thing I may not do to relieve Miss Sterling from so great pain. Every day the burnings of the fever make fire in brain of our Adorable Miss Sterling until she know nothing of what say or of what do, this all too terrible, and make my heart to bleed most so of all when she cry out one name over and over again, this name sound like Dick, Dick, sometimes Dear Dick, then most times she try to rise up, but is too weak and so she sink back on pillows and lie so still, so still, I freeze with fear she be dead, O then I creep out and cry to death, and pray pray to heaven, and burn much incense, and then creep back and bend close over Miss Sterling to bear if any little wavering breath come from lips or not, for it seem to me she is surely to die.
One day very strange thing happen. Nurse go out and say I am to watch all what Miss Sterling do? if she call out or move to rise I must give to her of large bottle one portion. A very long time I watch every breath, then all suddenly Miss Sterling try to sit up, and cry out: "Where am I, What has happened? O yes I remember I am in China" - and she sink back on pillows, like one little baby she fall asleep, all so full of peace and so quiet and still. When Nurse come back and I tell her of all this, she say - "O yes the climax, now Miss Sterling will surely live I think." That moment such a joy, too great to bear, come into my heart, I could to shout for gladness, and all the other girls too glad also.
Now every day Miss Sterling one little bit stronger grow, so that Miss Powers promise us she soon will be able to go on beautiful river fete, for that day all wait with heart of gladness.
Bing Ang. Bing Ang.
From Your Detestable and Foolish Child.
Most Honorable and Wise Mother, Moy Sen, Greetings. Bing Ang. Bing Ang.
So wonderful thing happen since last time I write, my poor language can nothing show out of what my heart now hold.
Have patience with my dull and stupid writing while to you I give one complete history.
On the fifth day of this Moon Miss Powers say - "Tomorrow morning all girls in this College have clothing and beds ready packed, for river fete. Ten boats wait at Short Bridge landing. Ten of the clock strike all must be there. Each girl take one carrying basket, no more."
Next day two hours before rise of sun all girls run up and down make large noise and excitement.
Matron and Cook make much shoutings, Coolies work very hard to pack 30 food baskets, 20 bags rice, 20 live chickens, 60 carrying baskets, 3 cot beds for teachers, just outside gate 60 man and women Coolies wait to carry all safely to Boat.
This time every body talk at same time, most time shout, every body say Hurry! Hurry! Cook, because head man, talk most loudly, part time jump on table, wave long bamboo stick and command all to work rightly. After two hours time, yet no make start. What reason? Miss Powers come out and say very sternly, "Cook, why do you not send baskets to Boats? it is long past time." Cook say "All ready" and open gates, let outside Coolies come in, then sixty more Coolies shout and begin to fight, because every body will to carry the light loads, and no body will to carry the heavy ones! Again Cook climb on table and compel every one to do his work rightly.
Twelve o'clock strike, all things on board boats, every body happy to make start. River men have much trouble to get boats off because of high wind and waves against Bridge. At last all started safely, every body sing songs, play games, and enjoy to look see all things which pass on river.
All day very good water, very much pleasure, all night good sleep by bank of river placing Miengs on floor of Boats. Next day very happy till noon then come very high winds, and much rough water, after long time men begin loud shoutings, and take down high covers from overhead. "What matter, What matter?" every body cry out, all fear some trouble come, boatmen say - "Now come to rapids, very swift, very dangerous, many bad rocks."
I well remember how many boats go to pieces on such rocks, so I hide my head and see nothing, only shake with fear, only can hear screams, and know some boat has already gone on the rocks.
Now our Captain began to shout to our men the awful shout - "Buy your coffins," "Buy your coffins" and I know well that this means that we too will soon be on the rocks. Then I could only pray to heaven that we be not all drowned.
At last come one most awful crash, some girls catch hold of me and cry, others make most awful screamings, and because the boat is fast filling with water all try quickly to climb upon the rocks, only I am left in Boat at last, and am much too afraid to move. Suddenly one Coolie lift me by arm and throw me over on rocks with sacks of rice and baskets of bedding.
Now we all very sure it is to die that we have come on this great river, and so we wait.
Over us the sky shine in glory of sun set, nothing of this do we see, only do we know of cold and great fear and of wetness, and pain most miserable.
Where our other Boats, where our most dear Miss Sterling? We look up river and down, some boats top-side, some bottomside, two boats on rocks, like our own poor broken one. Now night comes swiftly, all grows dark and we more and more afraid, every one say - "Now we die!" "Now we die!" I alone think not so, but very sorrowful and cry in my heart, but not with my lips.
Whole heart eat out with fear that our most precious Miss Sterling may already be drowned, no body can to tell.
After long time we hear men calling loudly, one boat comes near to our rocks in darkness, we could only see one little lantern like insect flash.
"Who comes near our rocks?" we say, and through the black night comes Miss Sterling's voice to us. O what joy. Quickly I run to edge of rocks and hold out arms to her with heart beating loudly for gladness, all our miserable lives will now be saved we know this of a truth.
In one breath Miss Sterling cry out "Are all safe, Is no one hurt here?" and we say, "No one is hurt, only all so horribly afraid, so wet, and cold."
At once Miss Sterling have Coolies make big fire on rocks, make all dry and warm, get rice ready cooked then girls eat with long hair pins for chopsticks like playing at feast when children.
After long time Miengs quite dry, Miss Sterling say all must try to sleep, she so like Mother make all cover up warmly then no cover left for herself, I see this and make her take one half of my blanket and we lie down so closely I can hear poor Miss Sterling heart beat, O so fast and loudly, then I know she have much fear, but too proud, too brave to let girls know she also afraid; this all I cannot bear, so I put arms about Miss Sterling and beg her to let me be good helper to her, I say "Chinese girl very strong, American girl not so, our Chinese people very strange and make you afraid; dear Miss Sterling not any one can harm you while I live, believe me true."
Miss Sterling then say if any thing happen to her I must to write letter to Dr. Richard Newman and tell to him all what happen here, and he will of me take care because I her good friend. Then Miss Sterling tell me all about this Friend also all about when she very little girl she go live with old lady called Aunt because Father and Mother both die; this Aunt only go Church, nothing play, nothing laugh, nothing happy look see, always sad, always talk little girl some day go be Missionary. By and By little girl grow up, then Aunt say, "Now time come go Mission field."
That same time Miss Sterling very much love one man Dr. Newman he no like her go Mission pigeon; What can do? That time Miss Sterling break heart, but she say, No, I good girl, no turn back, no break promise to Aunt. Dr. Newman angry to death. Miss Sterling nothing say, only go away without good-by say. Long time Dr. Newman keep anger, no write letter, now write much blue letter and say all time, "Come back, Come back?"
This all give Miss Sterling too much sorrow, not know rest of heart, not know what to do; I perish of thought about all this, and I say "I will all well do for you that you may live and go back to this Doctor man that you so truly love some day quite soon."
Before Miss Sterling can reply make, we hear sudden loud shoutings from all parts of river, and because the light is beginning to come we can a little see, and wonderful things we do see, hundreds of boats come near our rocks. Miss Sterling cry with joyfulness, "O these men have come to save us." Chinese girl know these men do not save, well we know they come only to rob and murder and take slaves, for these are river pirates.
Now I know the time has surely come when I must with life protect Miss Sterling, so I cry to all people on rocks to take bamboo poles and fight for lives, not one pirate must come on rocks or we die. Every girl know this true, and our boatmen help and fight strongly; so fast do all hit at men with poles that they much surprised, and after a little while go away to talk and say - what do. Just that time Miss Sterling look see how water rise swiftly and she well know that soon our rocks will be covered and we all drown, so with face as white as paper she go to edge of rocks and call to one of pirate band and say - "I give you $20 gold if you will all to land carry." He only laugh and say - "$150 gold" she say "$50" he say "$120" she say "$75" he say "$100" she say, "All right $100" and in one minute all men begin work to carry us on shore.
Most girls very afraid and say pirates no keep word, no can trust to take to shore safely.
Miss Sterling and I say not so, Chinese always keep word even pirates do so.
Most strange, most wonderful when we land and turn back to look at rocks where we spend the night we see nothing but swift water running like wild horses over that place, and we know that so nearly had we been drowned that nothing could have us saved if Miss Sterling had not been so wise, so clever.
This letter is of too great longness already.
My Bing Ang to My Honorable Brothers and Sisters
From Your Utterly Contemptible Child
Neuchang, April 5th.
Most Wise and Honorable Mother, Moy Sen, Greetings. Bing Ang. Bing Ang.
After four adorable years in this most distinguished and advantageous College I am now about to go to the home of my Mother-in-law in this same village.
To go is like fire against my face.
Day and night I cease not to weep and nothing can turn me about from much weeping.
Miss Sterling come in to me often and say, "To marry is right and proper, my husband will be very wise because he is learned man, I go to live with kind, not cruel, Mother-in-law, I must not longer weep and refuse food."
Truly I try at all times to please Miss Sterling, but to cease I cannot.
I with all of wonder and nothing of understanding see how with joy and song like bird Miss Sterling go about the house packing trunks, boxes all things make ready to go America side to marry with Dr. Newman; truly she so happy she send out light from every part, from top of head to sole of foot. Miss Sterling say to me she no have fear of Mother-in-law what she say, how she do, how best to please Mother-in-law so as to escape beatings daily or other hard punishments.
Miss Sterling reveal to me how Dr. Newman have one adorable, beautiful home already builded, already furnished, where they two live without Mother-in-law to live with them.
I very glad and astonished about these things, so like beautiful, golden dream, while for my own marriage I have only terror, and cannot but weep all the day.
Today my betrothed came to College to have speech with me, also to make plans for our marriage; Miss Sterling come to fetch me to see Honorable betrothed, but finding my miserable eyes all swollen from many tears, contemptible nose all red, whole face most ugly, she begin to bathe face with Cologne and say she will not have such things; she will to betrothed freely speak that he must make separate home for me after the American way. My heart stand still with I know not what kind of fears, but Miss Sterling never mind, she drag me after her to Reception room, seat me before Honorable betrothed into whose face I dare not to look, and then she talk many hours to show out how much better way American way to make home.
I listen and tremble like awful chill. O, if Honorable betrothed would only listen and believe!
At last he speak giving good assurance that he will all carry out as Miss Sterling has requested. Then all my heart rise up and go out to Miss Sterling in blessing; when Honorable betrothed come and stand before me and make solemn promise. I in return beg Honorable betrothed to pardon the contemptible selfishness of selfish me, that such unspeakable gladness come to me with this promise.
Now almost I could love him that he this thing will do for poor unworthy me. Can it be that to Chinese girl also can come gladness to marry, and can come that love so wonderful, so strange that Miss Sterling has told me of?
Today beautiful gift come from Honorable betrothed one messenger bring to me large blue No. 1 Lacquer box, in box two gold and jade bracelets, most fine, most rare; when I try bracelets on arms all girls come look see, all say - "Too excellently fine," "Too dazzlingly beautiful," "Too costly," "All same high Official lady," - "All same Princess."
This give me much elevation of heart, but I careful not show out what feel, only say, "Gift too small, too ugly, too mean." This time Miss Sterling go with me to street to buy all things proper for wedding, I find in it great pleasure, and all the girls most interest to look see.
Another visit from Honorable betrothed, this time I Not afraid so much and can a little tell out, after Miss Sterling praise me, and say now I become as American girl not too timid. O these American ways very new, very strange to Chinese girl but now I have no more fear to marry and sit all day working on beautiful red Marriage shoes and weep not any more, truly this is magic, and not any devil magic to make fear come.
Now on my fingers I can count the days when you and my Honorable Sisters and Brothers will come to my Marriage. O then can speak out all things which now too ignorant, too afraid to write.
At all times my prayers go up to the heavens for your good safety and health, and good journey to this village.
Your Detestable and Most Foolish Child