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楼主: 海外逸士

Adventure of a US Girl in Ancient China

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 楼主| 发表于 12/4/2016 08:32:24 | 显示全部楼层
Chapter 30

Linda felt that life here was very boring because since she unexpectedly arrived here out of the air she had never been out for sightseeing. She was not a girl fond of a quiet life. She loved exercises and hiking, and to explore the beautiful natural scenes. Linda found that this was a beautiful place with verdant mountains and translucent streams and a cool cascade.
            Now as people seldom came to bother her recently, there was no need for her to hide any more. She wanted to go out to enjoy the beautiful nature.
            Next day she went out like a moth bursting out of the cocoon. Danba followed her everywhere.
They went to the little waterfall, under which there was a pool. The water spilling from the pool formed a little creek, which emerged with other creeks into the main stream in this area.
            Linda sat on a rock at the edge of the pool. She took off her shoes and dipped her feet in the clear cool water. She felt so good as if she was eating ice-cream. She told Danba to do the same, but the girl did not dare, afraid that the chieftain would punish her if she came to know it.
            “Don’t be afraid. I order you to.” Linda encouraged her, “You are my maid and must obey me first.” So the girl obeyed and taking off her shoes, dipped her feet in the water, too. They sat there for half an hour, enjoying the feeling of self-indulgence. They talked and laughed to their heart’s content. Danba had a sudden feeling that the goddess was not a goddess any more, but a girl like herself. Then as suddenly as she had the feeling she realized that it was a blasphemy that she had such a thought. She felt ashamed of herself and punished herself by slapping her own face twice.
            “What’s the matter? What are you doing?” Linda inquired, turning her head to look at Danba.
            “Sorry. Nothing.” She could not tell the goddess that she had had such a thought flitting across her mind for a moment. If the goddess knew it, the goddess might get angry and turn her into a frog or something else. But she forgot that a goddess, if Linda was, knew everything, including what people were thinking. Then she would be deemed lying to a goddess. It would be more serious to lie to a goddess than she had thought the goddess was a mortal girl like herself.
            A man stood on the top of the mountain just across the pool and saw the goddess and the girl sitting together, talking and laughing. In his opinion, or in the mind of the most people here, a goddess should be stern, demure and quiet, just like the statue in the temple. But he did not think of the difference between the statue of a goddess and the living goddess. He would certainly be overwhelmed with great astonishment if he learned some of the stories about the Greek goddesses.
            He thought that he must go to find the chieftain and tell her everything he saw. He found the chieftain at her new home and reported it to her. The chieftain and the other old women in her house were flabbergasted at the news. They stood up and hurried to the spot.
            They all got on their knees before Linda and after kowtowing for three times, the chieftain said, “My Goddess, pray go back home. It’s not safe here for my Goddess.” She forgot that a goddess would not fear anything. A goddess was safe everywhere. But she could not say in the face of the goddess that a goddess should also behave herself.
            “I just relax for a while.” Linda pleaded, “I’ll go back soon. Don’t worry.”
            The chieftain and the other old women kept on kowtowing, which meant that if Linda did not go back, they would kneel there for ever. Linda recalled what had happened in the palace. A prime minister had done the same as he had wanted the emperor to accept his advice. There arose a question: who must listen to whom, the emperor to the courtier, or the courtier to the emperor. Perhaps everyone should listen to reason, to whoever had the reason.
            These old women were still kneeling before her. She could not ignore them, just enjoying herself. Now she knew that the means they were taking were really effective. She had to get up, put on her shoes and leave. Danba followed suit.
            After the goddess went for a while, the chieftain and other women stood up and followed at a distance. They saw Danba walking after the goddess. The chieftain was aware that Danba could not crawl after the goddess at the current moment and in the current condition. It was a long way to home. Besides, the girl could not crawl on the rugged mountain trail. Otherwise, she would be disrespectful to the goddess and would be punished.
            When Linda got home, she was frustrated. She could not surmise what she could do and what she could not do. She knew that the one thing she could not do was to sit still and stiff all day long like the statue in the temple. She could not live here forever like this. If a goddess had limited moves, she would not be a goddess. Actually she was not one. She wanted freedom of what she would like to do. So she must leave some day. She began to make a plan.
            She knew that she could not escape alone as the girl Danba always followed her everywhere. She had either to lose her or take her along. But to lose her was really a difficult task. Danba was almost like a chewed bubble gum sticking to her or like her inseparable shadow. Linda could think of no way to get rid of her. So she decided to take her along. Besides, it was safer to go with the girl. If people saw her with the girl, they would think that she and the girl were just sightseeing. The first step was decided that she would take the girl with her.
            Now she must make up her mind how to get away from here. She could not go too far among the mountains. It would rouse the suspicion of the people when they saw her, even if she was with the girl, because she had no reason to go too far from where she lived. The best possible way was to steal a boat and go downstream. If she could succeed in the plan at some night, she would leave the place forever. But after that, what would she do with the girl? She could not let the girl come back alone. She was too young to travel all by herself. It seemed that she would stick to her for a long time, even all her life. Then she must let her learn both Chinese and English so that she might find a job, or she could leave her with a European priest when she could speak some English. All right. She would consider it later. The urgent thing at present was how to get a boat and flee safely.
            Linda noticed that people just left their boats tied to some trees on the shore. If she could steal out at night without being detected by anyone, the success of escape was ensured.
            Now the last problem was how to persuade the girl to go with her. But if she told her that she would leave the place, the girl might go to report to the chieftain. The best way was to tell her a white lie. When they were at a safe distance, she would let her know the truth. Now she thought that her plan was perfect. She should choose a night to carry it out.
            “Danba, I just received a message from other goddesses in heaven.” Linda said to the girl one evening after supper. “They want to meet me somewhere else, not here. I will take you with me to meet them. But you must keep it a secret.”
            Danba was excited and promised not to tell it to anyone else. That night when she fell asleep, she dreamt that a throng of goddesses dancing and singing around her. They did not order her to go down on her knees before them. Instead, they invited her to join in their dancing. As Danba could not dance the dance they were dancing, she just stood in the center of the circle and looked and smiled at the goddesses she worshipped so much.
            Next day Linda and Danba fared as usual. After supper, Linda went into her bedroom and told Danba to stay with her. Linda pretended to be meditating to wait for the suitable time to leave. Danba meditated, too. Time ticked off. From the moonlight shining in through the window, Linda reckoned that it was almost midnight. Everyone should be in sleep. Linda got up and touched the girl, who opened her eyes and stood up, too. She guessed that it was time to meet the goddesses.
            They went to the bank of the main stream. There were a few boats, some tied to the tree trunks and one tied to a rock sticking out of the ground. Linda climbed into this boat and so did Danba. They rowed the boat downstream. Linda estimated the distance they were covering. Approximately after some ten miles which should be a safe distance, Linda signaled Danba to near the boat to the bank and tied it to a tree. They began to walk.
            “Why we come so far to meet the goddesses?” Danba asked.
            “They don’t want to be seen by other people.” Linda explained.
            They walked deliberately till it began to dawn. “Where we’re going?” The girl asked.
            “Let’s find a place to rest for a while and we must talk.” Linda said. Danba followed Linda to the side of a little brook. They sat down on a smooth rock to rest their poor legs and feet.
            “Listen, Danba. I’m really not a goddess. I just fell from above and your people mistook me as a goddess.” Linda wanted to tell the girl the truth. Danba listened agape.
            “I felt uncomfortable living among your people. I could not do what I wanted. I lived there like a prisoner, not a goddess. That’s why I want to leave. As you always followed me everywhere, I have to take you with me. Now we must stick together and make a living all by ourselves.”
            Next day when the cook did not see Danba come to the kitchen to take the breakfast to the goddess, he was at a loss what to think. He just waited till lunch time. But it was almost late in the afternoon that the food prepared for the goddess was still there. He himself was forbidden to go near to the goddess. So he had to report to the chieftain, who came immediately with other old women. She could not find the goddess or Danba anywhere.
“Goddess is gone, back to heaven.” One of the old women said.
“Then, Danba should come to report to us.” Another woman said.
“I guess Goddess take her along.” The third woman said.
“Anyway, Goddess can’t live among us forever.” The chieftain said, “Lucky for Danba. She can be with Goddess in heaven. I hope she’ll come down to visit us some day.”
 楼主| 发表于 12/5/2016 08:46:34 | 显示全部楼层
Chapter 31

Linda and Danba walked eastward. Linda wanted to find a church so that she could leave Danba with the priest. She would ask the priest to find some way to send Danba back to her own people. Linda remembered that she had seen a church somewhere on her way here, but now she could not recall the exact location.
            According to some records, the earliest priest that came to China was an Italian Giovanni da Montecorvino (1247-1328). He came in 1294 to the capital (Peking) of Yuan Dynasty (1271—1368) and built three churches there. He also translated the New Testament and the Psalms in the Old Testament into the Mongolian language, because Yuan Dynasty was established by Mongolians.
            In 1307, he was appointed by the pope to be an archbishop in Peking area. He then sent someone to Yangchow, a big commercial city in southern China, to build a church.           
In 1316, another Italian priest, Odorico da Pordenone (1286-1331), came to China by water and disembarked in the city of Canton. Then he went to Peking and stayed there for three years (1325—1328) and visited some other cities. In 1330 when he returned to Italy by land, he wrote a book about China, referring to the city of Yangchow and the church. When Linda had been there, she had seen the church, too.
            All this meant that when Linda reached China by accident, the western religion had developed there. After a few days, Linda came across a church. She went in with Danba to see the priest, but the priest came from France and Linda could not speak French. It was in the southwestern China. The French priests entered China through Vietnam.
            Linda left the church and continued on her way east with Danba. Now she decided to go back to Yangchow. She remembered that she had seen a church there. But it was a long way there. She knew that it would take her and Danba several months to reach the city. She had still some money with her, but not much. She must save every coin. But she must buy some clothes for herself and Danba. The clothes they were wearing would look too weird among people of Han tribe.
            In the first town they reached, Linda bought new clothes and changed into them. She wrapped her golden hair with a cloth like before. Danba was delighted to have new clothes on. She liked them very much. She also changed her hair style into that of other girls she saw in this small town.
            When Linda had entered the town, she had paid particular attention if there was still the government announcement about her, but there were none of such announcements on the town wall by the gate, where any announcements were usually posted. Linda was at rest. It meant that no one would notice her even if the cloth covering her golden hair was blown off by the wind. Instinctively she tightened the knot of the cloth under her chin. They lodged in a small inn for the night.
            One day they went through a village. Linda saw a house decorated with red lanterns and cloth streamers. She had experience now. She knew that there was a wedding going on in that house. And she also knew that she and Danba could go in to eat without being questioned or driven out. So she went in with Danba like invited guests. Danba had never seen so many dishes on the table. She ate to the limit her small stomach could contain.
            After the feast, the two girls mingled with the real guests, touring the house. Then all the guests ended up in the bedroom of the bride and bridegroom. The tradition allowed the guests to make jokes on the newly-wed couple.
            The red cloth that covered the head of the bride had already been taken off. Some guests made comments on the features of the bride.
            “Her eyes a bit too small.”
            “Her mouth a bit too large.”
            “Her nose all right. So is her skin.”
            “The little feet are lovely.”
            Someone hung an apple by a string from the ceiling and asked the bridegroom to get a bite from it. “If you fail, you will be punished.” He told the bridegroom, who began to try, but failed every time, because he could only use his mouth without any help from hands. Whenever his teeth touched the apple, it swung away.
            “Now how will we punish him?” One of the guests asked.
            “Not we, but the bride should punish him.” Another suggested. All the guests applauded their agreement. They decided that the bridegroom should play his role as a footstool and let the bride rest her feet on his back. At first the bridegroom wanted to refuse, but after a second thought, he accepted because if he rejected this punishment offer, the guests might think of something else and something worse. The bride was a shy girl and had not said anything since the guests came into her bedroom. She was just like a puppet and let others guide her action. Now the bridegroom was on all fours before the bride, who just sat on the edge of the bed and did not stir. A girl guest came to pick up her feet and put them on the back of the bridegroom. Everyone laughed.
            Linda and Danba stood at one side, watching the whole process. Linda had seen such things before, but it was new experience for Danba. She was greatly intrigued. It was past midnight that the guests dispersed. Some went back home and some lodged in the house of the host. Linda and Danba were so tired and sleepy that they found an empty room and slept on chairs put together. Members of the household had already retired to their own separate bedrooms, being drunk in the celebration.
            After the guests were all gone, the bridegroom got up and helped the bride to unbutton her clothes. That night, they were like fish in the water, as a Chinese saying goes.
            Next day Linda and Danba continued on their long journey to Yangchow City.
 楼主| 发表于 12/6/2016 08:46:34 | 显示全部楼层
Chapter 32

Now they were approaching big cities. When Linda entered one, she noticed that there still was the announcement about her on the city wall by the gate. But no one was reading it. The reward was increased to a thousand taels of silver. But since none had seen such a girl with golden hair, people had lost interest in it long before.
            Linda thought that she had better disguise herself as a boy so that no one would suspect a boy as the girl with the golden hair. Therefore, she bought some man’s clothes for both of them, only in different style. She attired herself as a boy from a rich family. She covered her hair in a man’s cap and carried a folded fan in her right hand. Now she looked like a young man who had read a lot of books. She disguised Danba as her page, because such a young man always had a page to wait on him and follow him everywhere he went. Danba looked funny in her page’s apparel. She wore her hair into the popular page’s style like growing two horns on either side of the top of her head.
            Then they went out in disguise to test if people could recognize them. They sauntered in the streets for a while and walked into a big restaurant. Since Linda pretended to be a wealthy young man, she could not go into a shabby one, where only the laborers and pedlars frequented.
            Although she had not much money left, she thought that she could order cheap dishes in such a restaurant. She found an empty table on the second floor. According to a custom in the old China, a page or a servant could not sit with his master at the same table. But it was demanded only at home. When traveling outside, master and servant could sit together at the same table.
            Before Linda ordered anything, a young man at the next table stood up and accosted her, “What’s your surname, my brother?” This was also a custom that people of almost the same age, especially young people, liked to get acquainted with each other even if they were totally strangers at first.
            Linda quickly invented her Chinese surname, “Li. And yours?”
            “My humble surname (a kind of modest saying among Chinese people, used even today) is Wang. Can Brother Li share the same table with us?” He was with other two young men. Another Chinese custom was to put the word Brother before the surname of another man to show esteem and intimacy. He pulled out the chair beside him.
            Linda went there to take the seat. Danba did not know what to do. Wang noticed Danba and said, “This little brother (a sort of polite address to another man’s page) can sit with our pages at the other table.” Linda turned her head to look at the table Wang pointed to. There were three boys of almost Danba’s age. They were also eating and talking to each other. It seemed that they were familiar with each other. It bespoke that their masters were friends and frequently met. Linda told Danba to sit there. Danba bashfully sat down on the empty chair. She began to help herself to the dishes on the table as she was already hungry. When anyone at the table spoke to her, she just replied with one word or two.
           “Where do you come from, Brother Li?” Wang asked after introducing other two men to Linda as Zhang and Cheng.
            Linda could not say that she came from America. Instead she said that she came from Peking.
            “So, you must be from a high official’s family, or even from that of a royal member?” Zhang guessed. Linda could not tell them the truth. “Neither.” She replied curtly.
            “Does Brother Li have any business here?” Chinese people liked to know everything about someone they had just known though it had nothing at all to do with them.
            “Just traveling.” She answered. “What does Brother Wang do here?” Linda now adopted the strategy that she asked them questions so that they could no longer ask her questions.
            “We all live here. Our fathers are all landowners as well as businessmen. The three wealthiest families in this city.” Cheng boasted.
            “Let’s drink our welcome to you!” Wang held up his cup to Linda, who did not like the taste of the Chinese wine.
            “I never drink wine. Sorry, Brother Wang.” Linda declined.
            “Just try this cup.” Wang said. When he saw Linda did not stir, he added, “I take it as an insult if you don’t drink it.” That was the Chinese way to force people to drink.
            “I said sorry I can’t drink. It has nothing to do with insult.” Linda contradicted.
            “It’s our custom that you must drink it.” Zhang and Cheng came round to hold Linda’s head and Wang poured the wine into her mouth. They acted so fast that Linda had no time to shun from them. Some of the wine spilt onto the chest of Linda’s silk gown and some into her mouth. Linda spat it out onto the floor.
            The three of them laughed without caring how Linda was feeling. Linda got on her feet and was about to bid them goodbye when Zhang said, “Let’s go to some place. It’s fun there.” They did not let Linda say anything of refusal and just pushed her along like being kidnapped. Danba and the three other pages ensued.
            They took Linda to a casino. Linda had to follow them in since they had never let go of her arms all the way from the restaurant to here. She did not like gambling. She did not even know how to gamble. “How much money do you have, Brother Li?” Wang asked her.
            “I don’t have any money with me.” Linda thought that if she did not have any money, they would let her go. But Wang said, “I’ll lend you money. You can pay me back later.” Wang thought that as Linda came from Peking, even if she was not from a high official’s family, she should be rich. She should have a lot of money with her when traveling.
            Without asking Linda for her consent, Wang bet ten taels of silver for her on the small side of the dice table. It lost as the dice showed large dots added up. Linda was not even aware that the bet was for her. This way she owed a hundred taels of silver to Wang when she wanted to leave. She was greatly shocked to find it out when Wang asked her to repay him the hundred taels.
            “How can I owe you so much money? I did not remember that I even borrowed money from you?” Linda protested.
            “I said I would bet for you. When you did not say NO, I thought that you acquiesced. That’s why you owe me money.”
            Linda was stunned. Linda never thought that he was so low as to be able to do such things to her. But she did not know that it was not a thing that seldom happened in ancient China.
            Now Linda did not know what to do. She counted the money left in her pocket. There were only fifty taels of silver in paper form. She could not give the money to Wang for two reasons. First, she had not agreed to let him bet for her. He had never even asked her. Second, she needed the money to travel at least to Yangchow City.
            However, Wang would not let her go. “Let’s go to yamen and let the mayor decide.”
            Although it was the last place that Linda wanted to go, Wang and his two friends pushed Linda along, followed by Danba and the pages. Danba did not know what happened to Linda. Under such a situation, she could not say anything and she did not know what she should say.
           Once they reached the yamen, Wang took up the drumstick and beat the huge drum set up in front of the yamen gate. Shortly, the mayor sat in the hall behind the big long table with some yamen bailiffs lining up on both sides.
            The three young men pushed Linda into the hall and they stood before the long table. The pages could not go in and had to wait outside.
            “Who’s the plaintiff?” The mayor inquired.
            “It’s me.” Wang stepped a little forward and answered.
            “State your reason.” The mayor banged his heavy wooden piece on the table. Every official in this situation would bang the wood, which meant that it was the yamen, so behave yourself and speak the truth, nothing but the truth. Liars would be punished.
            Wang stated what had happened between himself and Li. After the mayor got confirmation from Linda that Wang stated the truth, he decided that Li was in the wrong. When he learned that Li had only fifty taels he ordered his yamen bailiffs to give Li fifty spanks on the buttocks, one for each tael owed.
            Linda was scared because she knew that when they beat a man on the butts they would strip him of his trousers and hit him on the bare skin. How could she be beaten like that?
            Desperately she took off her boy’s cap and shook loose her golden hair, which hung down round her shoulders. Now it was their turn to be surprised. The mayor and the three young men gazed at Linda without speaking anything for a while. At last they realized that Li was a girl in disguise of a boy.
            It was apparent that Li was the girl with the golden hair, who was wanted by the head eunuch. The mayor had ordered the announcement posted on the wall by the city gate. The young men had read the announcement. Now the mayor thought that if he sent the girl to the capital, he would win the permanent favor of the head eunuch. So he changed his attitude and ordered his yamen bailiffs to drive the three young men out.
            Then he invited Linda to go into the rear part of his yamen, where he and his family lived. He introduced Linda to his wife and asked her to take good care of their noble guest. Before the mayor went out of the room, Linda stopped him, saying, “I’ve a companion waiting before the yamen. Will Your Excellency let her in?” Linda told the mayor that her name was Danba and gave him some description of the girl.
            Shortly after the mayor left, Danba was led in. when she saw Linda, she instinctively fell on her knees before Linda and kissed her feet like Linda was still a goddess. The mayor’s wife thought that the girl was Linda’s maidservant.
 楼主| 发表于 12/7/2016 08:25:18 | 显示全部楼层
Chapter 33

When Linda revealed her true identity in the critical situation, she knew that they would send her to the capital. She was prepared for it, which would be better than to be spanked on the bare buttocks. Now she no longer had any need to go to the church in Yangchow City. She had to take Danba with her to live in the capital.
They both sat in a pompous coach specially made for her. Danba had never seen such a coach before, let alone to sit in it. The coach was guarded by a battalion of soldiers. When they reached the next city, the soldiers were sent back and the mayor of this city sent the soldiers there to escort Linda to the capital. Therefore, the coach with the two girls inside was like a stick in the hands of the runners in a relay race till the final runner reached the finish line.
            The head eunuch was exulted when he got the news that Linda had been found. It was almost a year since Linda had disappeared. He reported the happy news to the empress dowager and the emperor. Both of them felt happy, too, because they really liked the girl.
            “Your slave must report to Your Majesties, Empress Dowager and Emperor, your slave’s humble wife brings another girl with her. It is said that the other girl belongs to a minority in the southwestern part of Your Majesty’s domain.” This was also a custom that a simple thing should be said in complication when reporting to the royal family.
            “How old is the other girl?” asked the emperor, who was always interested in girls though he had already the empress and several royal concubines. If he came to like any of the palace maids, he could rightfully possess her as another concubine.
            “Your slave got report from the mayor of that city that the girl is thirteen years of age.”
            “Too young for me.” The emperor thought to himself. “The mayor did a good thing and I will reward him by promoting him to a higher rank.”
            “Your slave thanks Your Majesty for him.” The head eunuch got on his knees and kowtowed three times. It was the palace ritual.
            Three days later Linda arrived in the capital. When the head eunuch got the report, he hastened out to meet her after he reported the news to the empress dowager and the emperor and got their approval. He met Linda at the gate of the city. Although Linda had always been disgusted with the emasculated man, twenty years older than herself, she was now moved by his sincerity and warmth toward her.
            The head eunuch had been granted for three days’ absence from his palace duties. Now they gathered in their sitting room. Linda introduced Danba to him. Then the boy came forward to kowtow to Linda, who was his adoptive mother.
            After a sumptuous dinner, Linda told her husband and her son all that had happened to her after she had been separated from the boy and the two yamen bailiffs. When she came to the story about how she had been mistaken for a goddess and people there kowtowed to her and kissed her feet, the head eunuch and the boy could not but burst into laughter. The eunuch said to Danba, “Now you know she is my wife, not a goddess.”
            “But she looks very much like the statue of the goddess in our temple.” The girl said.
            “But if she is a goddess, she will take you flying to heaven, not travel to here.” The eunuch tried to persuade her.
            When Linda and the eunuch retired to their bedroom, they discussed what they should do with Danba. “We can either send her home escorted by soldiers, or let her stay with us.” The eunuch added, “What do you think, my beloved wife?”
            “I’ll talk to her tomorrow to see what she thinks. She’s a nice girl. I don’t want to force her to accept our arrangement.” Linda observed. The eunuch made no objection.
            Next day, when Linda consulted Danba for her own opinion, the girl said that her mother had died two years before and she had no one there to really care for her.
            “Where’s your father?” Linda was curious to know. She had never asked Danba about her personal information.
            “Died in an accident when I was a baby. He fell from the mountain.”
            Linda sympathized with the girl and decided to let Danba live with her here. That night she told the eunuch about her decision.
            “Very good.” The eunuch said, “How about we adopt her as our daughter? We have a son and now we have a daughter. Life is so happy for us.”
            “Just for you, not for me.” Linda thought to herself. “Good idea.” She said aloud.
            Danba was glad to learn the decision they had made for her. She could now live in such a big city and with Linda, her adoptive mother, whom she always worshiped even if she was not a goddess. Besides, she had a brother to play with.
            When the head eunuch returned to his duties in the palace, he reported to the empress dowager and the emperor that they had adopted the girl Linda had brought with her as their daughter. The empress dowager was happy for them. She gave the eunuch some jewels for his foster daughter as gifts and ordered him to tell Linda to bring the girl to her presence next day. “I’d like to see the girl and I haven’t seen Linda for a long time.”
The head eunuch promised to give his wife the message and kowtowed three times as thanks for the gifts endowed to his adopted daughter. When the head eunuch went home in the evening, he conveyed to Linda the wish of her majesty that she wanted to see her and the girl next day.
Danba was so excited at the news that she kept awake the whole night. She had never dreamt that she could visit the palace some day in her life. When the first rays of the sun shone on her windows, she jumped out from the bed, slipped into her new clothes as fast as she could and put on the jewels given to her by the empress dowager. When she stepped out of her bedroom door, she saw no one in the corridor. Usually there was bustle and hustle everywhere. Her bedroom was in the rear part of the house, where all the females lived. Now she went to the dining room in the front part of the house. Gradually she met people hastening to and fro in all the corridors. When she reached the dining room, Linda, the boy and the tutor were already there.
“Lazybones. You should get up before the sun.” Linda joked with her.
“Where’s dad?” Danba asked.
“He must arrive in the palace before five. He’s already there now.” Linda told her.
“When will we go to see the empress dowager?”
“It’s too early now. Being old, her majesty gets up late. After she’s dressed, she’ll put on some makeup and then has breakfast. She’ll be ready to see anyone after nine. But we have to reach there a bit earlier and wait to be received.”
Danba hurried down her food. The tutor and the boy had gone to their study to have lessons. Danba must learn and would join them later when she was back from the palace.
Linda and Danba rode in a beautiful coach to the palace. They were shown into an anteroom to wait there. After at least half an hour, a cry came: “Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager’s coming!”
The empress dowager stepped into the anteroom and took her seat in her accustomed throne. Linda kowtowed to her. And Danba knelt a little behind her and kowtowed, too.
Linda thought that not long before other people kowtowed to her, but now she kowtowed to someone else. The turn of things was really so unpredictable.
Linda was granted a chair when she got up. She thanked the empress dowager and sat down. Danba stood behind Linda’s chair. Then the empress dowager told the head eunuch to send for the empress and all the royal concubines. The head eunuch was off on the errand. Linda knew that the empress dowager wanted her to tell them her adventures when away from the capital.
When all the listeners arrived and were seated, Linda began her narration. As she came to the part that she had fallen from the air, had been mistaken for a goddess and the tribe people there had all kowtowed to her, the empress dowager, the empress and all the royal concubines smiled in mirth. The palace etiquette did not allow females to laugh aloud. Educated females in the ancient China should be demure and quiet, especially in the palace. The eunuchs and maids standing aside could only gnash their teeth to keep them from bursting into laughter.
“She’s the girl they sent to serve me.” Linda pointed to Danba behind her. Danba lowered her head in timidity when all the eyes centered on her.
Linda finished her narration and it was already noon. The empress dowager ordered everyone to remain for lunch. Danba had never seen so many dishes served. She was allowed to sit beside Linda and shared the table and food. It took much longer to finish the lunch in the palace than in the head eunuch’s home.
After the lunch the empress dowager would take a nap and everyone must leave. Linda and Danba kowtowed their adieu to the empress dowager, the empress and all the royal concubines and stepped out of the anteroom. As they got into the open space of the front yard before the anteroom, where all those in the anteroom could see them, a queer thing happened that no one who witnessed it could believe their own eyes.
Linda and Danba suddenly were no longer there as if they evaporated into the thin air.   
            People inside the anteroom looked at each other. They did not know what to think. One of the royal concubines muttered to herself, but loud enough to be audible to all the people there: “Maybe, that girl with the golden hair is actually a goddess from heaven.”
 楼主| 发表于 12/8/2016 10:18:42 | 显示全部楼层
Chapter 34

It seemed that the mysterious cosmic force traveled between America and China and now it took Linda back to America with Danba since they stuck together hand in hand. Linda felt again like in a dream and when she woke up, she found herself in the Central Park in New York. She sat up and looked around and saw Danba lying beside her. She could remember everything that had happened in China. It had not been a dream. Something did have happened to her, or she should be now at home in New Jersey, not in New York. It was in midday time. People stood around them, watching, because they were dressed in weird clothes. Linda just ignored them. Shortly Danba came to like from a coma. She opened her eyes, but could not recognize the surroundings. So many people in clothes of different styles were around them and so were a few dogs on leash. Danba did not know that these animals were dogs because they looked different from those she had seen in her life.
            Then her eyes fell on Linda. “Where are we now?” she asked feebly as if she was recovering from a serious disease.
            “We are in America now.” Linda responded. “Let's go.” She pulled Danba up from her lying position. Linda had mentioned America several times to Danba. So she knew that it was Linda’s home country, from where she had come to China.
Linda was in ecstasy that she could go home and see her parents now, and her boyfriend Frank. They pushed through people and walked out of the park. Linda hailed the first taxi she saw in the street. Danba had never seen any motor vehicles before. She asked, “What is this?”
Linda did not know how to explain to the full comprehension of Danba. She just said, “It’s a sort of coach here.”
“Why no horse to draw it?” Danba was always curious.
Linda knew that Danba could not understand that it was driven by motor. She just said, “You will learn it later.” Danba must learn English first now that she was in America.
            All the way to New Jersey, Danba was excited to see the view flitting by. When at last the taxi stopped at the address Linda remembered she had been living, she and Danba jumped out of it. She gave the driver the twenty dollar bill she had always kept in her pocket, but it was not enough. She gave him her watch that she had always had on her, and then she took out some big broken pieces of silver that she still had in her pocket. The driver shook his head and accepted all those as the fare. He guessed that the girls came from another country that was very backward.
            Linda and Danba ran to the house. Linda rang the door bell while Danba stood a little behind her. After a while the door opened. To Linda’s great surprise, there stood in the doorway a woman that looked like her mother, but in a younger version.
            “Who are you, Miss?” The woman asked.
            “Mom, it’s me, Linda.” She replied, “You don’t know me?”
            “Should I know you? I never saw you before.”
            Linda was confused. Something must have gone wrong. “Can we come in to explain?” She asked.
            She and Danba looked quite harmless. The woman stepped back and opened the door wide. Linda walked in with Danba in her wake. When they all sat down, Linda started to tell everything, from the day she had found herself in China till today she had found herself in New York with the girl Danba. To convince the woman, she produced some silver bits that had been used as currency in the ancient China.
            “An intriguing story. But what does all that have to do with me?” The woman was dubious.
            Linda was helpless. She looked up and happened to see the calendar on the wall opposite her seat. It showed the year 1984 on it. Impossible. She could not believe her own eyes. It was twenty years earlier than the year in which she had been sent to  China by a mysterious cosmic force. She had been eighteen in that year. When it was twenty years back, she was not born yet. No wonder, her mom did not know her. The whole thing seemed in a science fiction. How could it happen to her?
            Linda was desperate and knew that any further explanation was futile, too. How could a mother know her daughter unborn yet? She stood up and so did Danba. They said bye-bye to the woman.
            Linda did not know where she could go. She was homeless now. She could not sleep in the streets like a vagabond. Frank was not yet born either. Therefore, there was no one she was familiar with that she could go for help. The sole way now was to rent a house. But she must have money first. She had some jewels with her. So she must sell one of them. The first thing she decided to sell was her gem necklace. Anyway, she managed to sell it to someone who was a collector for some ten thousands of dollars. But she did not know that when the collector showed it to an expert, the expert was greatly surprised to see such an artwork. From the style the expert recognized it as a precious piece generally used by someone in the palace of ancient China. It was worth millions of dollars.
            Linda rented a room in a certain house in  New York. She must find a job to support herself and Danba. And Danba should go to school. So she must have more money. She had to give up her two bracelets for auction. They were sold for one million dollars.
            Shortly Linda became a celebrity. Reporters from both the newspapers and the television stations tracked her down. They wanted her story. But FBI made investigations on her. They wanted to know how and where a girl of her age could get such a valuable thing. Was any crime involved in it? Linda told her true story to them, but they did not believe her. Only they had nothing whatsoever against her. They even at a time suspected her to be an alien spy from the outer space to the Earth.
However, when the media learned it, the story became the headline on every newspaper and on every news program of every television station. The reporters even dogged Danba’s steps. But some days later, they gave up any attempts to draw anything from her, because she could not speak English yet.
            Then a publisher came to see Linda and asked her to write a book about her adventures in  China. The publishing company advanced to her a large sum of royalty under a contract. When her book came out, it was soon turned into a movie.
            Linda and Danba lived comfortably. Sometimes after a few years, Linda had a curiosity to know whether her parents had given birth to a girl named Linda now, or the next door neighbors had born a boy named Frank. But she had nothing to do with them any more. When that Linda or Frank grew to eighteen years old, she would be nearly forty, almost her mother's age since she had returned to  America twenty years earlier. Sometimes she felt that she owed her mother something. At least the bringing up of her had cost her mother a lot of money and energy. One day she mailed a package to her mother with a best-quality pearl necklace inside, which the empress had given her as a souvenir.

The END
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