Fortress Besieged By Ch'ien Chung-shu

Those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out.


Fortress Besieged is a classic of world literature, a masterpiece of parodic fiction that plays with Western literary traditions, philosophy and middle class Chinese society in the Republican era. The title is taken from an old French proverb, "Marriage is like a fortress besieged: those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out". Set on the eve of the ferocious Sino-Japanese War, Fortress Besieged recounts the exuberant misadventures of the hapless hero Fang Hung-chien. This masterwork of world literature plays with Western traditions, picaresque humour, tragic-comedy, satire, Eastern philosophy and the mores of middle-class Chinese society to create its own unique feast of delights.


Fortress Besieged

By Ch'ien Chung-shu

Translated by Jeanne Kelly and Nathan K. Mao

Author's Preface

In this book I intended to write about a certain segment of society and a certain kind of people in modern China. In writing about these people, I did not forget they are human beings, still human beings with the basic nature of hairless, two-legged animals. The characters are of course fictitious, so those with a fondness for history need not trouble themselves trying to trace them out.

The writing of this book took two years altogether. It was a time of great grief and disruption, during which I thought several times of giving up. Thanks to Madame Yang Chiang, who continuously urged me on while holding other matters at bay, I was able through the accumulation of many small moments to find the time to finish it. This book should be dedicated to her. But lately it seems to me that dedicating a book is like the fine rhetoric about offering one's life to one's country, or handing the reins of the government back to the people. This is but the vain and empty juggling of language. Despite all the talk about handing it over, the book remains like the flying knife of the magician—released without ever leaving the hand. And when he dedicates his work in whatever manner he chooses, the work is still the author's own. Since my book is a mere trifle, it does not call for such ingenious disingenuousness. I therefore have not bothered myself about the dedication.

December 11, 1946 CH'IEN CHUNG-SHU

Translators' Preface

Ch'ien Chung-shu ranks among the foremost twentieth-century Chinese novelists, and his novel Wei-ch'eng (Fortress Besieged) is one of the greatest twentieth-century Chinese novels. After receiving extensive treatment of his works in C. T. Hsia's A History of Modern Chinese Fiction in 1961, Ch'ien was largely neglected until recently. The present translation of Wei-ch'eng reflects that renewed interest, and it is hoped that it will generate even greater interest in Ch'ien Chung-shu and his works.

This translation is the cooperative effort of Jeanne Kelly and Nathan K. Mao. Whereas Jeanne Kelly did the first draft of the translation, Nathan K. Mao revised it; in addition, Mao wrote the introduction, refined the footnotes, and prepared the manuscript for publication. Despite our divided tasks, this book is our joint responsibility.

We wish to thank Professor Joseph S. M. Lau of the University of Wisconsin and Professor Leo Ou-fan Lee of Indiana University for their expert editing assistance, patience, and encouragement; Chang Hsu-peng for help in the first draft of the translation; James C. T. Shu of the University of Wisconsin and Professor Mark A. Givler of Shippensburg State College for reading the entire manuscript and offering their advice; Mr. George Kao of the Chinese University of Hong Kong for permission to reprint chapter one, published in Renditions (No. 2, Spring 1974); and lastly Professor C. T. Hsia of Columbia University for supplying us with biographical and bibliographical information on Ch'ien Chung-shu.

We also wish to express our gratitude to Mr. Ch'ien Chung-shu himself for reading the biographical part of the Translators' Introduction as well as the Author's Preface during his visit to the United States in April-May of 1979. He clarified several items of biographical detail and made some corrections. We are deeply honored that this translation has the author's full endorsement and support.

Chevy Chase, Maryland

Chambersburg, Pennsylvania




Fortress Besieged, or Wei-ch'eng, first serialized in Literary Renaissance (Wen-i fu-hsing) and published in book form in 1947, has been acclaimed as "one of modern China's two best novels,"' or her "greatest novel;"2 it has been the subject of two doctoral dissertations and one master's thesis and various scholarly papers in English and Chinese.3 Among differing views on the merits of the novel, C. T. Hsia has highly praised the novel's comic exuberance and satire;4 Dennis Hu, its linguistic manipulation; Theodore Huters, its relationship to modern Chinese letters; and Mai Ping k'un has written favorably on both Ch'ien's essays and his fiction. What each critic has stressed is one aspect of the novel's multifaceted brilliance, and it is the intent of this introduction to discuss the novel as an artistic whole.

On November 10, 1910, Ch'ien Chung-shu, the author of Fortress Besieged, was born into a literary family in Wuhsi, Kiangsu province. His father Ch'ien Chi-po (1887—1957) was a renowned literary historian and university professor. Ch'ien was a precocious child, noted for his photographic memory and brilliance in writing Chinese verse and prose. Upon graduation from grade school, he attended St. John's University Affiliated High Schools in Soochow and Wuhsi. In high school, Ch'ien excelled in English. When he sat for the matriculation examination of the prestigious Tsing-hua University, it was said that he scored very poorly in mathematics but did so well in English and Chinese composition that he passed the examination with some ~cIat.

At Tsing-hua, Ch'ien was known as an arrogant young man, who cut lectures and kept much to himself. Among his few intimate friends was Achilles Fang, the "word wizard" (as Marianne Moore called him), who was then a student in the department of philosophy. There Ch'ien also met his future wife Yang Chiang. After graduating from Tsing-hua in 1933, he accepted a teaching appointment at Kuang-hua University in Shanghai.

In 1935, on a Boxer Indemnity Scholarship, Ch'ien went to Exeter College, Oxford, and majored in English literature. He read more thrillers and detective yarns than was healthy for a student devoted to serious research. He also developed a keen interest in Hegel's philosophy and Marcel Proust's fiction. Perhaps most ego deflating was his failure to pass the probationer examination in English palaeography, and he had to sit for it a second time. Nonetheless, he did achieve his B. Litt. degree from Oxford in 1937. His thesis, composed of three meticulously researched chapters ("China in the English Literature of the Seventeenth Century" and "China in the English Literature of the Eighteenth Century''), was later published in the English edition of the Quarterly Bulletin of Chinese Bibliography (Tu-shu chi-k'an). Having taken his Oxford degree, he studied a year in Paris.

Returning to China in 1938, the second year of the second Sino-Japanese War, Ch'ien, at home in the literatures of two or three major European languages, taught at the National Southwest Associated University in Kunming; i the National Teachers College at Lan-t'ien in Pao-ching, Hunan province; Aurora Women's College of Arts and Sciences in Shanghai; and Chi-nan University in Shanghai. From 1946 to 1948 he was also the editor of the English language periodical Philobiblion, published by the National Central University Library in Nanking.

Among the small corpus of pre-Communist works by Ch'ien, the following are noteworthy. At Tsing-hua he wrote a number of short stories and vignette-type essays for Crescent Moon (Hsin yuieh) and Literary Review (Wen-hsiieh tsa-chih) magazines. In 1941 the essays were published in Shanghai as a volume entitled Marginalia of Life (Hsieh tsai jen-sheng pien shang). Some of the short stories were anthologized in his 1946 publication entitled Men, Beasts, and Ghosts (Jen, Shou, Kuei). In 1948 he published On the Art of Poetry (T'an yi in), composed in an elegant wen-y en, or classical, style.

After the Communist victory in 1949, he returned to Peking to teach at Tsing-hua University. While still in Shanghai, Ch'ien had become dissatisfied with Fortress Besieged, and thought he could do better. He began to write another novel to be called "Heart of the Artichoke" (Pai-ho hsin), after Baudelaire's phrase "Le coeur d'artichaut." He had written some 3,000 to 4,000 words, but unfortunately the manuscript was lost in the mail when the Ch'iens moved from Shanghai to Peking. He has not worked on the novel since then.

In Peking Ch'ien first worked as a researcher in the Foreign Literature Institute of the Academy of Sciences; then he transferred to the Chinese Literature Institute of the same academy. Since the foundation of the Institute of Literature in the Academy of Social Sciences in 1952, he has been one of its two senior fellows, the other being Yu Ping-Po, well-known for his studies on the Dream of the Red Chamber (Hung-lou meng). Ch'ien's wife Yang Chiang is a researcher in the institute.

Ch'ien seems to have abandoned the writing of his earlier vitriolic works and restricted himself to literary scholarship. His most significant post-1949 work has been Annotated Selection of Sung Poetry (Sung-shib hsiian-chu), which was published in 1958. Later he headed a team of scholars responsible for the writing of the T'ang and Sung sections of a history of Chinese literature. In 1974 it was widely rumored that he had died. The rumor prompted C. T. Hsia to write a memorial essay, "In Memory of Mr. Ch'ien Chung-shu" (Chui-nien Ch'ien Chung-shu hsien-sheng) ~6 Ch'ien, how ever, is alive and well and has been "resurrected" after the fall of the Gang of Four. His recent activities include visits to Rome in the fall of 1978 and to the United States in the spring of 1979 as a member of Chinese academic delegations. While he was in Italy, he talked with three scholars who were translating or had translated Fortress Besieged into French, Czech, and Russian. Yang Chiang was a member of a Chinese delegation in Paris while her husband was in America. Her most recent publication was a Chinese translation of Don Quixote in 1978, and it is now in its second printing.

In 1979 Ch'ien published a book containing four studies, one on Chinese painting and Chinese poetry dating back to the 1930s and the other three essays written since 1949 (including one on Lin Shu, which was partially translated by George Kao and published in Renditions). Also in 1979 a new edition of Annotated Selection of Sung Poetry with thirty additional notes was published.

Ch'ien's most important publication in 1979, however, is a mammoth work of over one million words entitled Kuan-chui pien, in four volumes. Each section focuses on one major classical Chinese work: I ching, Shib ching, Chuang-tzu, Lieh-tzu, Shib-chi, Tso-chuan, and the complete pre T'ang prose. Altogether ten studies, both philological and comparative (Western), comprising the four divisions of ching, shib, tzu, and chi, are written in a style more elegant and archaic than that of On the Art of Poetry. Ch'ien wanted to show the world that there is at least one person in China who can write in this style and has not broken with the old tradition; he also hoped to inspire younger Chinese everywhere to study the Chinese past. Kuan-chui pien, Ch'ien believes, will be his masterwork.7

Ch'ien's B. Litt. thesis, On the Art of Poetry, and Annotated Selection of Sung Poetry are all works of solid scholarship. The first represents meticulous research; the second contains many references to Western poetics from Plato to the Abb~ Bremond and an honest evaluation of Chinese poets and their shortcomings; and the preface to the third is a masterpiece of literary analysis.8 Apart from these works, Ch'ien is primarily a satirist in his essays and short stories. For example, the first essay in Marginalia of Life is "Satan Pays an Evening Visit to Mr. Ch'ien Chung-shu" (Mo-kuei yeh fang Ch'ien Chung-shu hsien-sheng), a satire on man through the super natural, the targets being hypocrisy and ignorance. In "On Laughter and Humor" (Shuo hsiao), he attacks those lacking humor; he mocks and scorns false champions of moraFortress Besiegedlity in "Those Who Moralize" (T'an chiao-hsun); he chides the hypocrites in "Men of Letters" (Lun wen-jen) and literary charlatans in "Illiteracy" (Shih wen-mang). In a similar vein, his vitriolic fire is also apparent in his short stories, most notably in "Inspiration" (Ling kan), a satiric and harsh attack on the writing profession itself and a lampoon on a number of well-known literary figures. Lampooning as much as he does in Men, Beasts, and Ghosts, he is also a fine writer of psychological insight. His story "Cat" (Mao) is a good example of marital strife which mars the happiness of a certain Li family. Even finer than "Cat" is "Souvenir" (Chi nien), often considered the best story in Men, Beasts, and Ghosts. A study of the seduction of a lonely married woman by an air force pilot during the Sino-Japanese War, it emphasizes the heroine's feelings of guilt, fascination, revulsion, and relief toward her extramarital affair. Also well done is the story's ironic ending. After the pilot dies in action, the woman's husband, not knowing of his wife's infidelity and impregnation by the pilot, suggests that they commemorate the dead pilot by naming the baby after him, if it is a boy.

Fortress Besieged, however, remains the best of Ch'ien's pre-1949 works. Structured in nine chapters, it is a comedy of manners with much picaresque humor, as well as a scholar's novel, a satire, a commentary on courtship and marriage, and a study of one contemporary man.

The nine chapters can be divided into four sections, or what Roland Barthes calls "functional sequences": 9 Section I (chapters 1—4); Section II (chapter 5); Section III (chapters 6—8); and Section IV (chapter 9). Section I begins with the story of Fang Hung-chien, who is returning to China from Europe in 1937; continues with his brief visit to his hometown, Wushi, and his experience in Shanghai; and concludes with his accepting a teaching appointment at the newly established San Lii University in the interior. Section II is relatively short and centers on the trials and tribulations Fang Hung-chien and others encounter in their journey to the university; Section III highlights in vivid color the true story of Chinese pseudo-intellectuals within the confines of an academic environment; and Section IV details the trivial misunderstandings between Fang Hung-chien and his bride and ends with the dissolution of their marriage.

In each of the four sections, Ch'ien Chung-shu emphasizes the hero's experiences from hope through frustration to defeat; a functional unit in itself, each section has its own curve of hope, frustration, and defeat. Furthermore, Section I serves as a microcosm for the other sections. The theme of "besiegement" is seen in Ch'ien Chung-shu's description of the various types of pressures closing in on Fang Hung-chien in Section I; the pressures are amplified in Sections II and III and concretized in Section IV. Traits of character that we are to know in excruciating detail for tens of pages are unmistakably sketched in a few. Fang's ineffectualness as a person in Section I clearly hints at the failures that are to haunt him in later sections. An inkling of the types of characters we are to meet in other sections also surfaces in Section 1. For example, the comprador Jimmy Chang in Section I is to return as Mrs. Lu in Section IV; the effeminate pseudo-intellectuals in Miss Su's circle are to be reborn as gossipmongers and power grabbers in Section III, and Japanese collaborators in Section IV. Even the boat trip in Section I is to be repeated in Section II and Section III to indicate the ebbing of the protagonist's fortunes.

Even though Section I serves as a microcosm for the whole book and reveals the structural cleverness of the novel, this is not to say that the tone and mood of each section is the same; in fact, a definite pattern toward the worsening of Fang Hung-chien's fortunes can be discerned. Section I has the frivolousness of spring; Section II, the comic delights of summer; Section III, the somberness and seriousness of fall; and Section IV, the worst moments of wintry chill. By making each section a separate unit, by fashioning Section I into a sampling of the other three sections, and by showing the continuous change of tone and mood from Section I through Section IV, the author demonstrates that he is a very careful artist who fabricates and engineers every small part to fit his overall plan, down to the point of sup plying us with an omniscient narrator who steers us all the way. The result of this careful engineering is a mighty singleness and a massive consistency.

Besides the careful engineering that goes into the structure of the novel, Fortress Besieged is a comedy of manners in its presentation of representative segments of the author's time. We meet the lowly porters, shopkeepers, innkeepers, bus drivers, country folk, soldiers, prostitutes, and French policemen serving their mother country in her Concessions in China; the middle- class returned students, country squires, journalists; and the rising middle class bankers, compradors, factory managers, Japanese collaborators, and others. Each group has its own particular characteristics, somewhat exaggerated and simplified, by which they are easily comprehensible. In minute and accurate detail, Ch'ien Chung-shu shows their idiosyncrasies. What results are brilliant caricatures of avaricious porters, defensive shopkeepers, superstitious countryfolk, hollow intellectuals, vulgar compradors and businessmen?

In Section II there is also a great deal of picaresque humor, resulting from the interplay of characters and their very different standards and assumptions. One brief example must suffice. After traveling for some time on the road, Fang Hung-chien and his companions check into a nondescript inn. In examining the menu, they learn that there is "milk coffee" available and they ask the waiter for more information.

The waiter assured them at once that it was good stuff from Shanghai with the original seal intact. Hung-chien asked what the brand was. This the waiter didn't know, but in any case it was sweet, fragrant, and top quality, for one paper bag made one cup of coffee.

"That's coffee candy to cajole children with," said Hsin-mei, suddenly understanding.

"Don't be so particular," said Hung-chien in high spirits. "Bring us three cups and then we'll see. At least it should have a little coffee flavor."

The waiter nodded and left. Miss Sun said, "That coffee candy has no milk in it. How could it be called milk coffee? Milk powder must have been added to it."

Hung-chien jerked his mouth in the fat woman's direction and said, "As long as it's not her milk, anything'll do."

Miss Sun frowned and pouted in a rather charming expression of disgust.

Reddening, Hsin-mei restrained a laugh and said, "You! Your re marks are disgusting."

The coffee came; surprisingly enough it was both black and fragrant with a layer of white froth floating on the top. Hung-chien asked the waiter what it was. The waiter said that it was milk, and when asked what sort of milk, he replied that it was the cream.

Hsin-mei remarked, "It looks to me like human spit."

Hung-chien, who was about to take a drink, brusquely shoved the cup away, saying, "I won't drink it!" (pp. 156—157)

Fortress Besieged is also a scholar's novel. Throughout the novel, par ticularly in Section 1, references are made to Chinese and Western literature, philosophy, logic, customs, laws, educational systems, and other areas such as foreign languages and feminism. The author's knowledge is so wide that he is probably modern China's foremost "scholar novelist," a designation for a special class of literary men "who utilized the form of a long narrative not merely to tell a story but to satisfy their needs for all other kinds of intellectual and literary self-expression."'0 Among the works of Chinese lit erature that belong to this special category are Journey to the West (Hsi yu chi), Dream of the Red Chamber (Hung-lou meng), The Scholars (lu-un wai-shih), Flowers in the Mirror (Chin g-hua yuan), Yeh-sou p'u-y en, T'an shih, and Yen-shan wai-shih."

However, a distinction must be drawn between Fortress Besieged and the others. Whereas the others are mostly episodic in nature and often digress on such subjects as astrology, arithmetic, calligraphy, gardening, medicine, and so forth for the sole purpose of displaying their authors' erudition, Fortress Besieged has structural unity and never burdens the reader with unnecessary or excessive information on any subject. The author's knowledge merely helps the narrative strand of the novel in supplying the reader with an observant, witty, and rhetorical narrator.

The narrator is indeed all of the above. His observations are sharp and direct. Remarking on the filth on the deck of Vicomte de Bragelonne, he muses: "The French are famous for the clarity of their thought and the lucidness of their prose, yet in whatever they do, they never fail to bring chaos, filth, and hubbub, as witness the mess on board the ship" (p. 4). In a second instance, the narrator's wit bubbles forth in his description of Miss Pao: "When men students saw Miss Pao, they burned with lewd desire, and found some relief by endlessly cracking jokes behind her back. Some called her a charcuterie—a shop selling cooked meats—because only such a shop would have so much warm-colored flesh on public display. Others called her 'Truth,' since it is said that 'the truth is naked.' But Miss Pao wasn't exactly without a stitch on, so they revised her name to 'Partial Truth'" (p. 7). Rhetorically, the narrator takes a great deal of delight in word play. His penchant for definitions is seen in the following two examples: "It is said that 'girl friend' is the scientific term for sweetheart, making it sound more dignified, just as the biological term for rose is 'rosaceae dicotyledonous,' or the legal term for divorcing one's wife is 'negotiated separation by consent'" (p. 26). In another case, he writes, "Kao Sung-nien, the president of San Lu University, was an 'old science scholar.' The word 'old' here is quite bothersome. It could describe science or it could just as well be describing a scientist. Unfortunately, there is a world of difference between a scientist and science. A scientist is like wine. The older he gets, the more valuable he is, while science is like a woman. When she gets old, she's worthless" (p. 192).

The author's knowledge of Chinese classics and Pidgin English unquestionably helps him to better caricature Mr. Fang Tung-weng, the protagonist's father, and Mr. Jimmy Chang, a Shanghai comprador. In the case of the former, his every thought is an allusion, a proverb, or a quote from the classics, as evidenced in the following letter advising his son to pay more attention to school work:

I did not begrudge the expense of sending you hundreds of miles away to study. If you devoted yourself to your studies as you should, would you still have the leisure to look in a mirror? You are not a woman, so what need do you have of a mirror? That sort of thing is for actors only. A real man who gazes at himself in the mirror will only be scorned by society. Never had I thought once you parted from me that you would pick up such base habits. Most deplorable and disgusting!

Moreover, it is said that "When one's parents are still living, a son should not speak of getting old." You have no consideration for your parents, who hold you dearly in their hearts, but frighten them with the talk of death. This is certainly neglect of filial duties to the extreme! It can only be the result of your attending a coeducational school—seeing women around has put ideas in your head. The sight of girls has made you think of change. Though you make excuses about "autumnal melancholy," I know full well that what ails you are the "yearnings of springtime." (pp. 9—10)

Fang Tung-weng's style of writing is the man himself: allusive, self- righteous, prejudiced, traditional, and pedantic. The success of the portrait of Fang Tung-weng is due, to a large extent, to the author's understanding of the empty posturings of the traditional country squire whose ideas are those of the imperial past though he lives in the modern twentieth century.

On the other hand, Ch'ien Chung-shu's portrait of Jimmy Chang is precise. The following is a description of Fang Hung-chien's visit with Jimmy (the words in italics are in English in the original):

As Mr. Chang shook hands with Hung-chien, he asked him if he had to go downtown every day. When the pleasantries were over, Hung-chien noticed a glass cupboard filled with bowls, jars, and plates and asked, "Do you collect porcelain, Mr. Chang?"



The Red Sea had long since been crossed, and the ship was now on its way over the Indian Ocean; but as always the sun mercilessly rose early and set late, encroaching upon the better part of the night. The night, like paper soaked in oil, had become translucent. Locked in the embrace of the sun, the night's own form was indiscernible. Perhaps it had become intoxicated by the sun, which would explain why the night sky remained flushed long after the gradual fading of the rosy sunset. By the time the ruddiness dissipated and the night itself awoke from its stupor, the passengers in their cabins had awakened, glistening with sweat; after bathing, they hurried out on deck to catch the ocean breeze. Another day had begun.

It was toward the end of July, equivalent to the 'san-fu' period of the lunar calendar - the hottest days of the year. In China the heat was even more oppressive than usual. Later everyone agreed the unusual heat was a portent of troops and arms, for it was the twenty-sixth year of the Republic (1937).

The French liner, the Vicomte de Bragelonne, was on its way to China. Some time after eight in the morning, the third-class deck, still damp from swabbing, was already filled with passengers standing and sitting about -the French, the Jewish refugees from Germany, the Indians, the Vietnamese and, needless to say, the Chinese. The ocean breeze carried with it an arid heat; the scorching wind blew dry the bodies of fat people and covered them with a frosty layer of salt congealed with sweat, as though fresh from a bath in the Dead Sea in Palestine. Still, it was early morning, and people's high spirits had not yet withered or turned limp under the glare of the sun. They talked and bustled about with great zest. The Frenchmen, newly commissioned to serve as policemen in Vietnam or in the French Concession in China, had gathered around and were flirting with a coquettish young Jewish woman. Bismarck once remarked that what distinguished French ambassadors and ministers was that they couldn't speak a word of any foreign language, but these policemen, although they did not understand any German, managed to get their meaning across well enough to provoke giggles from the Jewish woman, thus proving themselves far superior to their diplomats. The woman's handsome husband, who was standing nearby, watched with pleasure, since for the last few days he had been enjoying the large quantities of cigarettes, beer and lemonade that had been coming his way.

Once the Red Sea was passed, no longer was there fear of the intense heat igniting a fire, so, besides the usual fruit peelings, scraps of paper, bottle caps and cigarette butts were everywhere. The French are famous for the clarity of their thought and the lucidity of their prose, yet in whatever they do, they never fail to bring chaos, filth and hubbub, as witness the mess on board the ship. Relying on man's ingenuity and entrusted with his hopes, but loaded with his clutter, the ship sailed along amidst the noise and bustle; each minute it returned one small stretch of water, polluted with the smell of man, back to the different, boundless and never-ending ocean.

Each summer as usual a batch of Chinese students were returning home after completing their studies abroad, and about a dozen of them were aboard. Most were young people who had not as yet found employment; they were hastening back to China at the start of the summer vacation to have more time to look for jobs. Those who had no worries about jobs would wait until the cool autumn before sailing leisurely toward home. Although some of those on board had been students in France, the others, who had been studying in England, Germany and Belgium, had gone to Paris to gain more experience of nightlife before taking a French ship home. Meeting at a far corner of the earth, they became good friends at once, discussing the foreign threats and internal turmoil of their motherland, wishing they could return immediately to serve her. The ship moved ever so slowly, while homesickness welled up in everyone's heart and yearned for release. Then suddenly from heaven knows where appeared two sets of mahjong, the Chinese national pastime, said to be popular in America as well. Thus, playing mahjong not only had a down-home flavour to it but was also in tune with world trends. As luck would have it, there were more than enough people to set up two tables of mahjong. So, except for eating and sleeping, they spent their entire time gambling. Breakfast was no sooner over than down in the dining room the first round of mahjong was to begin.

once remarked that what distinguished French ambassadors and ministers was that they couldn't speak a word of any foreign language, but these policemen, although they did not understand any German, managed to get their meaning across well enough to provoke giggles from the Jewish woman, thus proving themselves far superior to their diplomats. The woman's handsome husband, who was standing nearby, watched with pleasure, since for the last few days he had been enjoying the large quantities of cigarettes, beer, and lemonade that had been coming his way.

Once the Red Sea was passed, no longer was there fear of the intense heat igniting a fire, so, besides the usual fruit peelings, scraps of paper, bottle caps, and cigarette butts were everywhere. The French are famous for the clarity of their thought and the lucidness of their prose, yet in what 'er they do, they never fail to bring chaos, filth, and hubbub, as witness the mess on board the ship. Relying on man's ingenuity and entrusted with his hopes, but loaded with his clutter, the ship sailed along amidst the noise and bustle; each minute it returned one small stretch of water, polluted with the smell of man, back to the indifferent, boundless, and never-ending ocean. Each summer as usual a batch of Chinese students were returning home after completing their studies abroad, and about a dozen of them were aboard. Most were young people who had not as yet found employment; they were hastening back to China at the start of the summer vacation to have more time to look for jobs. Those who had no worries about jobs would wait until the cool autumn before sailing leisurely toward home. Although some of those on board had been students in France, the others, who had been studying in England, Germany, and Belgium, had gone to Paris to gain more experience of night life before taking a French ship home. Meeting at a far corner of ti'' earth, they became good friends at once, discussing the foreign threats a1~ internal turmoil of their motherland, wishing they could return immediately to serve her. The ship moved ever so slowly, while homesickness welled up in everyone's heart and yearned for release. Then suddenly, from heaven knows where appeared two sets of mahjong, the Chinese national pastime, said to be popular in America as well. Thus, playing mabjong not only had a down- home flavor to it but was also in tune with world trends. As luck would have it, there were more than enough people to set up two tables of mahjong.2 So, except for eating and sleeping, they spent their entire time gambling. Break fast was no sooner over than down in the dining room the first round of mah jong was to begin.

Up on deck were two Chinese women and one toddler, who didn't count as a full person-at least the ship's company did not consider him as one and had not made his parents buy a ticket for him. The younger woman, wearing sunglasses and with a novel spread on her lap, was elegantly dressed. Her skin would be considered fair among Orientals, but unfortunately it looked stale and dry; and even though she wore a light lipstick, her lips were a little too thin. When she removed her sunglasses, she exposed delicate eyes and eye brows, and when she rose from the canvas lounge chair, one could see how slight she was. Moreover, the outline of her figure was perhaps too sharp, as if it had been drawn with a square-nibbed pen. She could be twenty-five or twenty-siX, but then the age of modern women is like the birthdates traditional women used to list on their marriage cards, whose authentication required what the experts call external evidence, since they meant nothing in and by themselves. The toddler's mother, already in her thirties, was wearing an old black chiffon Chinese dress; a face marked by toil and weariness, her slanting downward eyebrows made her look even more miserable. Her son, not yet two years old, had a snub nose, two slanted slits for eyes, and eye brows so high up and removed from the eyes that the eyebrows and the eyes must have pined for each other-a living replica of the Chinese face in news paper caricatures.

The toddler had just learned to walk, and he ran about incessantly. His mother held him by a leather leash so that he could not run more than three or four steps without getting yanked back. Bothered by the heat, tired, and irritable from pulling, the mother, whose thoughts were on her husband who was gambling down below, constantly scolded her son for being a nuisance. The child, restricted in his movements, turned and dashed toward the young woman reading the book. Ordinarily the young woman had a rather con cited, aloof expression, much like that of a neglected guest at a large party or an unmarried maiden at a wedding feast. At that moment her distaste for the child surfaced so much so that not even her sunglasses could hide it. Sensing J1 that, the child's mother apologetically pulled at the strap and said, "You zi~ughty child disturbing Miss Su! Come back here! How studious you are, Miss Su! You know so much and still you read all the time. Mr. Sun is always telling me, 'Women students like Miss Su give China a good name. She's beautiful and has a Ph.D. besides. Where can you ever find such nice people?' Here I went abroad for nothing and never even cracked a book. I keep house, and I forgot everything I'd learned as soon as I had him. Hey! You pest! I told you not to go over there. You're up to no good. You'll get Miss Su's clothes all dirty for sure."

Miss Su had always scorned the poor, simple-minded Mrs. Sun and de tested children, but when she heard all that, she was quite pleased. Smiling pleasantly, she said, "Let him come. I love kids."

She removed her sunglasses, closed the book she had been staring at vacantly, and with utmost caution she clasped the child's wrist before he could wipe his hands all over her clothes. "Where's Papa?" she asked him. Without answering, the child opened his eyes wide and went, "Poo, poo," at Miss Su, spitting out saliva in imitation of the goldfish blowing bubbles in the tank in the dining room. Miss Su hastily let go of his arm and pulled out a handkerchief to protect herself. His mother yanked him away, threatening to slap him. Then sighing, she said, "His father is gambling down below. Where else? I can't understand why all men like gambling so much. Just look at the ones on this boat. Every last one of them is gambling his head off. I wouldn't mind so much if it brought in a little something. But my husband, Mr. Sun, he's already gambled away a tidy sum and he just keeps going. It makes me so mad!" When Miss Su heard these last petty remarks, she, in spite of herself, felt a renewed contempt for Mrs. Sun. "You know, Mr. Fang does not gamble," she remarked coldly.

Mrs. Sun turned up her nose and sniffed. "Mr. Fang! He played too when he first got on the boat. Now he's too busy chasing Miss Pao, so naturally he can't spare the time. Romance is the big event of a lifetime, far more important than gambling. I just can't see what there is about that Miss Pao, coarse and dark as she is, to make Mr. Fang give up a perfectly good second-class berth for the discomforts of the third class. I see those two are getting on gloriously. Maybe by the time the boat reaches Hong Kong they'll get married. It's certainly a case of 'fate bringing people together from a thousand ii away.'

Miss Su felt a painful stabbing in her heart when she heard that. To answer Mrs. Sun and to console herself, she said, "Why, that's quite impossible! Miss Pao has a fianc; she told me so herself. Her fiancé even financed her studies abroad." Mrs. Sun said, "She has a fiance and is still so flirtatious? We are already antiques. At least we've learned something new this time. Miss Su, I'll tell you something funny. You and Mr. Fang were classmates in China. Does he always say whatever he pleases? Yesterday Mr. Sun was telling Mr. Fang about his poor luck in gambling, and Mr. Fang just laughed at him for having been in France all these years and not knowing anything about the French superstition; Mr. Fang said that if the wife is unfaithful and has an affair, the husband is sure to take first prize if he buys a lottery ticket, and he is sure to win if he gambles. And he added that if a man loses at gambling, he should take it as a consolation. When Mr. Sun told me all that, I scolded him for not asking that Fang fellow just what he meant. Looking at it now, it seems Miss Pao's fiance could certainly take first prize in the aviation lottery. If she became Mr. Fang's wife, Mr. Fang's luck at gambling would have to be good." The viciousness of a kind, simplehearted soul, like gritty sand in the rice or splinters in a deboned fish, can give a person unexpected pain. "Miss Pao's behavior is just too unlike a student's. And the way she dresses is quite disgraceful-" Miss Su remarked.
The toddler suddenly stretched his hands behind their chairs, laughing and jumping about. The two women looked around and saw that it was none other than Miss Pao coming toward them, waving a piece of candy at the child from a distance. She was wearing only a scarlet top and navy blue, skin- tight shorts; her red toenails showed through her white, open-toed shoes. Perhaps for a hot day in the tropics, this was the most sensible attire; one or two non-Chinese women on board dressed exactly like that. Miss Su felt that Miss Pao's exposed body constituted an insult to the body politic of theChinese nation. When men students saw Miss Pao, they burned with lewd desire, and found some relief by endlessly cracking jokes behind her back. Some called her a charcuterie-a shop selling cooked meats-because only such a shop would have so much warm-colored flesh on public display. Others called her "Truth," since it is said that "the truth is naked." But Miss Pao wasn't exactly without a stitch on, so they revised her name to "Partial Truth."
As Miss Pao approached, she greeted the two women, "You're sure up early. On a hot day like this, I prefer to loaf in bed. I didn't even know when Miss Su got up this morning. I was sleeping like a log." She had intended to say "like a pig," then on second thought decided to say "like a corpse." Final ly, feeling a corpse wasn't much better than a pig, she borrowed the simile from English. She hastened to explain, "This boat really moves like a cradle. It rocks you until you're so woozy all you want to do is sleep."
"Then you're the precious little darling asleep in the cradle. Now, isn't that cute!" said Miss Su. Miss Pao gave her a cuff, saying, "You! Su Tung-p'o's little sister,5 the girl genius!" "Su Hsiao-mei" (Su's little sister) was the nickname the men students on board had given Miss Su. The words, "Tung-p'o" when pro nounced by Miss Pao in her South Seas accent sounded like tombeau, the French word for tomb. Sharing a cabin with Miss Pao, Miss Su slept in the lower berth, which was much more convenient because she didn't have to climb up and down every day; but in the last few days she had begun to hate Miss Pao, feeling Pao was doing everything possible to make her life miserable-snoring so loud ly she couldn't sleep well, and turning over so heavily it seemed the upper berth would cave in. When Miss Pao hit her, she said, "Mrs. Sun, you be the judge of who's in the right. Here I call her 'precious little darling' and I still get hit! To be able to fall asleep is a blessing. I know how much you enjoy sleeping, so I'm always careful never to make a sound so I won't wake you up. You were telling me you were afraid of getting fat, but the way you like to sleep on the ship, I think you must have gained several pounds already." The child was yelling for the candy, and as soon as he got it into his mouth, he chewed it up. His mother told him to thank Miss Pao, but he paid no attention, so the mother had to humor Miss Pao herself. Miss Su had already noticed that the candy cost nothing. It was just a sugar cube served aboard the ship with coffee at breakfast. She despised Miss Pao for the way she put on. Not wanting to speak to Miss Pao anymore, she opened her book again, but from the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of Miss Pao pulling two deck chairs over to an empty spot some distance away and arranging them side by side. She secretly reviled Miss Pao for being so shameless, but at the same time hated herself for having spied on Miss Pao.
At that point Fang Hung-chien came on deck. As he passed by Mrs. Sun and Miss Su, he stopped to say a few words. "How's the little fellow?" Mrs. Sun replied curtly, not paying much attention to him.



Miss Su said with a smile, "You'd better hurry. Aren't you afraid someone will get impatient?"Fang Hung-chien blushed and gave a silly smile, then walked away from Miss Su. She knew perfectly well she couldn't keep him back, but when he left, she felt a sense of loss. Not a word of the book sank in. She could hear Miss Pao's sweet voice and laughter and couldn't resist looking at her again. Fang was smoking a cigarette. As Miss Pao held out her hand toward him, he pulled out his cigarette case and offered her one.Miss Pao held it in her mouth, and as he made a gesture with his fingers on the lighter to light it for her, she suddenly tilted her mouth upward, and touching her cigarette with the one he was smoking, breathed in. With the cigarette lit, Miss Pao triumphantly blew out a puff of smoke. Miss Su was so furious that chills ran through her body. Those two have no sense of shame whatsoever, she thought. right in full view of everyone using cigarettes to kiss.

Unable to bear the sight any longer, she stood up and said she was going below. Actually she knew there was no place to go below the deck. People were playing cards in the dining room, and the sleeping cabins were too stuffy. Mrs. Sun was also thinking of going down to her husband to see how much money he had lost that day, but she was afraid if he had lost badly he would take it out on her as soon as she asked him, and there would be a long quarrel when he returned to the cabin.

Thus, she didn't dare get up rashly and only asked her son if he wanted to go down and pee.Miss Su's condemnation of Fang Hung-chien for being shameless was ac tually unjust. At that moment he was so embarrassed that it seemed to him that everybody on deck was watching him. Inwardly he blamed Miss Pao for being too overt in her behavior and wished he could have said something to her about it. Although he was now twenty-seven and had been engaged be fore, he had had no training in love. His father had passed the second-degree examination under Manchu rule and was a prominent squire in his native dis trict south of the Yangtze. Nine out of ten of the emigrants from this district living in big cities were now either blacksmiths, bean-curd makers, or sedan- chair carriers. The most famous indigenous crafts were clay dolls; and for young men entering college, civil engineering was the most popular discipline. The intractability of iron, the insipidity of bean curd, the narrowness of sedan chairs, and in addition, the smell of earth could be called the local traits; even those who became rich or high officials lacked polish.

In the district a man named Chou had become wealthy from a blacksmith shop he opened in Shanghai. Together with some fellow villagers in the same business, he organized a small bank called the Golden Touch Bank, serving as manager himself. One year, remembering the saying about returning home clothed in glory, he chose the Ch'ing Ming Festival9 to return to his district to offer obeisance at the family temple, attend to the ancestral graves, and make acquaintances with local notables. Since Fang Hung-chien's father was one of the respected men in the community, in due time Chou paid him a visit. Thus they became friends and went on to become in-laws.

While Fang Hung-chien was still in high school, in compliance with his parents' decision, he became engaged. He had never met his fiancee; merely viewing a bust photograph of her had left him feeling indifferent.

Two years later he went to Peking to enter a university  and had his first taste of coeducation. Seeing couple after couple in love, he grew red-eyed with envy. When he  thought how his fiancee had quit school after one year of high school to learn housekeeping at home in order to become a capable daughter-in-law, he felt an uncontrollable  aversion toward her. Thus, bewailing his fate and feeling resentful toward his father, he went about in a half stupor for several days. Then suddenly he woke up, and mustering his courage, he wrote a letter home asking for release from the engagement.

Since he had received his father's guidance in literary composition and placed second in the high school general examination, his letter was couched in an elegant style without incorrectly using any of the various particles of literary Chinese. The letter went something like this: "I have of late been very restless and fitful, experiencing  little joy and much grief. A feeling of 'autumnal melancholy has suddenly possessed me, and every time I look into the mirror at my own reflection, so gaunt and dispirited, I feel it is not the face of one destined for longevity.

I'm afraid my body can't hold up much longer, and I may be the cause of a lifetime of regret for Miss Chou. I hope you, Father, will extend to me your understanding and sympathy and tactfully sever the ties that bind. Do not get angry and reject my plea and thus help bring me everlasting woe." Since he felt the wording of the letter was sad and entreating enough to move a heart of stone, he was quite unprepared for the express letter which came from his father. It gave him a severe scolding:I did not begrudge the expense of sending you hundreds of miles away to study. If you devoted yourself to your studies as you should, would you still have the leisure to look in a mirror? You are not a woman, so what need do you have of a mirror?

A real man who gazes at himself in the mirror will only be scorned by society. Never had I thought once you parted from me that you would pick up such base habits. Most deplorable and disgusting! Moreover, it is said that "When one's parents are still living, a son should not speak of getting old." You have no consideration for your parents, who hold you dearly in their hearts, but frighten them with the talk of death. This is certainly neglect of filial duties to the extreme! It can only be the result of your attending a coeducational school-seeing women around has put ideas in your head. The sight of girls has made you think of change. Though you make excuses about "autumnal melan choly," I know full well that what ails you are the "yearnings of spring time."Nothing can escape this old-timer's sharp eye. If you carry on with this foolishness, I will cut off your funds and order you to discontinue your studies and return home. Next year you will get married at the same time as your brother. Give careful thought to my words and take them to heart.

Fang Hung-chien was shaken to the core, never expecting his father to be quite so shrewd. He wasted no time in getting off a reply begging forgiveness and explained that the mirror was his roommate's and not something he had bought himself. Within the last few days, after taking some American cod liver oil pills and German vitamin tablets, his health and spirits had taken a turn for the better, and his face had filled out, he assured his father, except that the high cost of medicine had been more than he could afford. As for his marriage, he would like to ask that it be postponed until after his graduation. For one thing, it would interfere with his schooling; for another he was still unable to support a family and would not feel right about adding to his fa ther's responsibilities.

When his father received the letter, which proved that the father's au thority had reached across several hundred miles, his father was extremely gratified. In high spirits, his father sent him a sum of money so he could buy tonic medicine. From then on, he buried his

feelings and dared not indulge in vain hopes. He began reading Schopenhauer and would often say wisely to his classmates, "Where is romantic love in the world? It's entirely the reproductive urge." In no time at all he was a senior in college and was to marry the year

following his graduation.

One day an express letter came from his father. It read as follows: "I have just received a telegram from your father-in-law. I was greatly shocked to learn that Shu-ying was stricken with typhoid fever, and due to the negli gence of a Western-trained doctor, she passed away at four o'clock in the afternoon on the thirteenth of this month. I am deeply sorry. Marriage was so close at hand; all good things have unexpected setbacks. It is all due to your lack of good fortune."

The postscript read: "This may be a blessing in disguise. If you had married three years earlier, this would have cost us a large sum of money.

But with a family of such virtue as ours, if the marriage had taken place earlier, perhaps Shuying would have been spared this calamity and lived a long life. One's marriage is predestined, and you have no cause to be overly grieved. You should, however, send a letter of condolence to your father-in- law." Fang Hung-czhien read this with the joy of a pardoned criminal. But for the girl whose life had been cut short he felt a tinge of pity. While exulting in his own freedom, he wanted to help lessen others' grief. He therefore wrote a long letter of commiseration to his would-be father-in-law.

When Mr. Chou received the letter, he felt that the young man knew etiquette and so he instructed the bank's chief-secretary Mr. Wang to send a reply. When Chief-secretary Wang read Fang Hung-chien's letter, he had high praise for his boss's would-be son-in-law,

remarking that the young man's calligraphy and literary style were both excellent, and that the expres sion of his feelings for the deceased was deepand genuine, indicative of a very kind heart and talent that would take him far. Delighted with all this, Chou instructed Wang to reply in the following manner: "Although my daughter was never wed, our in-law relationship will remain unchanged. I had but one daughter and had originally planned to give her a grand wedding. Now I am going to give the entire amount, which I had set aside for the wedding and the dowry, along with the earnings from investments made with your family's betrothal present-altogether a sum of over twenty thousand dollars or one thousand three hundred British pounds-to finance your education abroad after your graduation from college next year.

Even in his dreams Fang Hung-chien had never conceived of such a stroke of good fortune and felt profound gratitude toward his deceased fiance. He was a worthless sort, who could never learn civil engineering, and while at the university he had switched his major from sociology to philosophy before finally settling down as a Chinese literature major.

It may sound a bit absurd for someone majoring in Chinese to go abroad for advanced study. In fact,however, it is only for those studying Chinese literature that it is absolutely necessary to study abroad, since all other sub jects such as mathematics, physics, philosophy, psychology, economics, and law, which have been imported from abroad, have already been Westernized. Chinese literature, the only native product, is still in need of a foreign trade mark before it can hold its own, just as Chinese officials and merchants have to convert the money they have fleeced at home into foreign exchange to maintain the original value of the national currency.

During his stay in Europe, Fang Hung-chien did not spend his time tran scribing the Tun-huang manuscripts or visiting the Yung-lo collections'4 or looking for relevant documents on the T'ai-p'ing Heavenly Kingdom. With in four years he had gone the rounds ofthree universities: London, Paris, and  Berlin. He took a few courses here and there, and though his interests were fairly broad, he gained nothing at all in the way of knowledge, mostly dissipating his life away in idleness. In the spring of the fourth year, with only three hundred pounds left in the bank, he decided to return home in the summer.

His father had written asking him if he had received his Ph.D. and when he would be coming home. He replied with a long letter denouncing the Ph.D. title as having absolutely no practical value. His father did not see it that way at all, but now that his son had

grown up, he hesitated to threaten him again with paternal authority, and merely said that he knew perfectly well titles were useless and that he would never force his son to get one, but his son had a duty toward Mr. Chou, who had invested a large sum of money on his edu- cation. A few days later, Fang Hung-chien also received a letter from his father-in-law, which said in effect: "A worthy son-in-law like you with talent and learning and a reputation extending far and wide does not need to flaunt a Ph.D. But your father passed the Manchu second-degree examination and therefore it seems only fitting that you become the foreign equivalent of the third-degree holder, following in your father's footsteps and even surpassing him. Then I too would share in your glory."

Finding himself pressured on both sides, Fang Hung-chien finally realized the importance of a foreign diploma. This diploma, it seemed, would function the same as Adam and Eve's figleaf. It could hide a person's shame and wrap up his disgrace. This tiny square of paper could cover his shallowness, ignor ance, and stupidity. Without it, it was as if he were spiritually stark naked and had nothing to bundle up in. But as for getting a degree at that point, whether by studying toward it himself or hiring a ghost writer to write a dissertation, there was neither time nor money. A Ph.D. from the nearby University of Hamburg was considered the easiest to muddle through, but even it required six months. He could just go ahead and deceive his family by saying he'd re ceived a Ph.D., but then he was afraid that he couldn't fool his father and father-in-law. As one who had passed the old second-degree examination, his father would want to see the official "announcement."

His father-in-law, a businessman, would want to see the "title deed." Unable to think of a solution, he was prepared to return home ,brazen-faced and tell them that he had not obtained a degree.One day as he was going to the Chinese bibliography section of the Ber lin library to see a German friend, he noticed on the floor a large stack of periodicals published in Shanghai during the first years of the Republic of China, including The Eastern Miscellany,Short Story Monthly, The Grand China, and the Women's Magazine. Having stopped to leaf leisurely through one, he happened to see an advertisement with Chinese and English parallel texts placed by the "Correspondence Division of the Carleton Institute of Law and Commerce" in the city of New York. It stated that for those Chinese stu dents who had the desire to study abroad but no opportunity to do 50, the school had special correspondence courses, upon completion of which certifi of the B.A M A or ees would be granted.The cate equivalents ., . ., Ph.D. degrbrochures would be forwarded immediately upon request by writing to such and such a number and on such and such a street in New York City.

Fang's heart skipped a beat. As a good twenty years had elapsed since the date of the advertisement, he had no way of knowing whether the school still existed or not. At any rate sending off a letter of inquiry won't cost much, he thought.

The man who had placed the advertisement was actually a swindler. Since no Chinese was ever taken in, he had dropped it for another line of busi ness and died sometime ago. The apartment he had lived in was now rented to an Irishman, with all the Irishirresponsibility,

quick wit, and poverty. It is said that an Irishman's fortune consists of his two breasts and two but tocks, but this one, being a tall, thin Bernard Shaw-type of man, did not have much breast or buttocks. When he came upon Fang's letter in his mailbox, he thought the

mailman had made a mistake. But the address was clearly his; so full of curiosity, he opened the letter. Greatly puzzled, he mulled over it for a while, then leaped for joy.

He quickly borrowed a typewriter from a tabloid reporter next door and typed out the following reply:"Since you have been studying in a uni versity in Europe, your level of achievement must be quite high, making it unnecessary for you to go through the correspondence procedures. You need only send a 10,000-word dissertation and enclose five hundred U.S. dollars. After evaluating your qualifications, we will immediately forward to you a Ph.D. degree diploma.Letters can be addressed to myself without having to write the name of the school. Signed, Patrick Mahoney." Underneath his name he conferred upon himself four or five doctoral titles.When Fang saw the letter was written on ordinary stationery without the name of the school engraved on it, and as the contents clearly showed the school to be fraudulent, he put it aside and forgot about it.The Irishman meanwhile grew impatient and sent off another letter stating that if Fang found the price too high, the price could be negotiated. He himself had always loved China, and as an educator, he was particularly averse to profit-seeking. Fang mulled it over for a while, suspecting that the Irishman was undoubted ly up to tricks. If he bought a bogus diploma and went back to dupe other people with it, wouldn't he himself be a fraud? But, remember, Fang had once been a philosophy major, and to a philosophy major lying and cheating were not always immoral. In Plato's Ideal State soldiers were justified in fooling the enemy, doctors in fooling their patients, and officials in fooling the people. A sage like Confucius had pretended to be ill in order to trick Ju Pei into leaving,even Mencius had lied to King Hsuan of Ch'i and pretended that he was ill.'~ Since both his father and his father-in-law hoped he would be come a Ph.D., how could he, a son and son-in-law, dare disappoint them? Buying a degree to deceive them was like purchasing an official rank in Man chu times, or like the merchants of a British colony contributing a few ten thousand pound notes to the royal exchequer in exchange for a knighthood, he reasoned. Every dutiful son and worthy son-in-law should seek to please his elders by bringing glory to the family. In any case,

when later it came time for him to look for a job, he would never include this degree in his resum& He might as well try slashing the price, and if the Irishman refused, he could then forget the whole thing and avoid turning into a fraud himself. So he replied that he would pay one hundred U.S. dollars, making a thirty- dollar down payment, and when the diploma was delivered, he would send the rest, and that thirty or more other Chinese students were also interested in dealing with "your honorable school" in the same manner.



At first, the Irishman would not agree. Later,realizing that Fang's decision was firm, and having ascertained from local sources that American doc toral titles were indeed fashionable in China, he gradually became convinced that there really were thirty-odd Chinese muddleheads in Europe wanting to buy a degree from him. He also learned that there were a number of

organi zations engaged in the same business, such as the University of the East, Eastern United States of America University, the Intercollegiate University, and the Truth University, where one could buy an M.A. diploma for as lit tle as ten U.S. dollars, while the College of Divine Metaphysics offered a bargain package of three types of Ph.D. diplomas. All these

were formally accredited and registered schools with which he could never hope to com pete. Therefore, keeping his objective of low profits but wide markets in mind, he came to terms with Fang Hung-chien. When he received the thir ty dollars, he printed up forty or fifty diplomas, filled one out, and sent it to Fang. In an accompanying letter he pressed Fang to send the balance and to inform the others to apply to him.

Fang replied that, after making a careful investigation, he had found no such school in the United States and that the diploma amounted to waste paper. But he would be lenient toward a first offender and not press charges in hopes that the

Irishman would repent and reform himself. Nonetheless, he did send the Irishman ten extra U.S. dollars to help tide the Irishman over while changing to another line of work.

The Irishman was so enraged that he cursed without stop, got drunk and red-eyed, and sought to pick a fight with any Chinese he could find. The inci dent may well mark China's sole victory over the foreigners since she began to have foreign relations or signed her first treaty of commerce.

Afterwards, Fang went to a photo studio, donned the German doctoral robe and had a four-inch picture taken. He sent a copy

each to his father and father-in-law. In a letter he reiterated how all his life he had hated the title of doctor and that while this time he could not avoid the convention, it was not worth mentioning his degree to others.

He returned to France where he enjoyed himself a few weeks, then bought a second-class steamship ticket for the return trip home. After boarding the ship at arseilles, he discovered that he was the only Chinese traveling second class and was lonely and bored. The Chinese students in the third class felt that he, being a student, too, was just flaunting his wealth by traveling second class, and they eyed him with some hostility. Learning of an empty berth in the cabin of a Vietnamese, he made arrangements with the purser to give up his original cabin and go sleep in third class, while still taking his meals in the second class.

Among the Chinese on board, the only one he knew from China was Miss Su, who had studied French literature at Lyons. She had written her dissertation on eighteen Chinese poets of the colloquial styleiO and had just received her doctorate. When Fang and she were classmates at college, she had never even noticed the existence of the little nobody Fang Hung-chien.

In those days she valued her affection too highly to bestow it casually. Now, however, she was just like the person who has some fine clothes made and, saving them for good occasions, locks them in a chest. Then one or two years later she suddenly finds their style and design are out of fashion and is filled with disappointment and regret. Before, she had had her heart set on studying abroad and despised those suitors for their lack of prospects, since they were merely college graduates. But now that she was a woman Ph.D., she felt the loneliness of her lofty perch, which was higher than any one dared climb. She knew a little about Fang's family background; and observing that he was a nice person and didn't seem to lack money, she thought she might use the trip to give him an opportunity to get near her. She never guessed that her cabinmate, Miss Pao, would beat her to him. Miss Pao was born and raised in Macao and was said to have Portuguese blood. To say she had "Portugese blood" was the same as for the Japanese to claim they have native culture,20 or for an author who has plagiarized a foreign play to declare in his revised version, "copyright reserved, transla tions forbidden," since the Portuguese blood had Chinese ingredients mixed in it from the start. But to judge from Miss Pao's figure, her Portuguese mother may also have had Arab blood inherited indirectly from Spain.

Miss Pao had a very slender waist, which fit exactly the standard of feminine beau ty the Arab poet praised and described at length in Arahian Nights: "Her waist was slender, her hips were heavy and did weight her down whene' er she would rise." Under her long eyelashes was a pair of sleepy, seemingly drunken, dreamy, big smiling eyes; her full, round upper lip seemed to be angrily pouting at a lover. Her fiance Dr. Li, without any sense of prudence, had given her the money to study obstetrics in London by herself. The Por tuguese have a saying that for a lucky man the firstborn is always a girl (A homen ventureiro a fliha ihe nasce primeiro), because when the girl grows up, she will be handy around the house and look after her younger brothers and sisters; thus before her marriage she saves her parents the expense of hiring a maid. Miss Pao was used to being at her parents' beck and call.

Being clever, she realized that she would have to find her own opportunity and seek her own happiness by herself.She therefore chose to become engaged to a man twelve years older, so she could have the chance to go abroad. The British are accustomed to seeing fair skin, so when they saw her dark, though not black, color with its rich, spicy attractiveness, they thought she was a true Oriental beauty. She believed herself to be very seductive, so she was very quickly and easily seduced. Fortunately, being a medical student, she did not take these affairs seriously or get into any trouble. After two years in England she was now returning to get married and set up a joint practice with her husband. Once aboard the ship, the Chinese students found out she carried a British passport issued by the Hong Kong government, which meant she was not a Chinese citizen, so they did not quite warm up to her. Since she couldn't speak French and didn't care to talk about home with the third-class Canton ese waiters, she felt terribly bored. She saw Fang was a second-class passenger and thought he might make a good companion to while away the time during the trip.

Miss Su, who pictured herself in the words of the familiar saying, "as de lectable as peach and plum and as cold as frost and ice," decided she would allow Fang to humbly gaze at her in admiration and then prostrate himself to beg for her love. Who would have thought that while the temperature hov ered around 100 degrees every day, this sweet, cool ice cream manner of hers was completely ineffective. By merely letting drop one lighthearted remark, Miss Pao had Fang hooked. The day after Fang had moved to the third class, he went up on deck for a stroll and happened to run into Miss Pao, who was leaning against the ship's railing by herself and taking in a breath of air. He greeted her and struck up a conversation. Before he had said more than a sen tence or two, Miss Pao remarked with a smile, "Mr. Fang, you remind me of my fiance. You look so much like him!" She made him feel both embarrassed and pleased. When an attractive woman says you look like her fian&, it is tantamount to saying that if she were not engaged, you would be qualified to win her love. A real cynic might interpret this as meaning: she already has a fiance, so you can enjoy a fiance's privileges without having to fulfill the obligation of marrying her.

Be that as it may, from that point on their friendship grew with the speed of a tropical plant. All the other Chinese men students teased Fang and made him treat everyone to iced coffee and beer. Although Fang was inwardly critical of Miss Pao for her immodest be havior, he was also feeling excited.When he turned his head and saw Miss Six and Mrs.Sun's empty chairs, he was thankful the cigarette incident had passed without their notice.

That evening it became windy, and the ship began pitching slightly. Af ter ten o'clock only four or five couples were on deck, hiding in the shadows from the gleam of lights, murmuring sweet words to each other. Fang and Miss Pao strolled along side by side in silence. A big wave violently shook the ship, she nearly losing her balance. He then hooked his arm around her waist, and staying close to the railing, he kissed her hungrily. Her lips were ready, her body submissive. This stolen kiss, hurried and rough, gradually settled into a full and comfortable one. She deftly pushed aside his arm, and breath ing heavily said, "You're suffocating me. I have a cold and can't breathe. You got away with it cheap. You haven't even begged for my love!"

"I'll make it up by begging for it now, all right?" Like all men without love experience, he considered the word "love" much too noble and solemn to be used casually on women. He only felt he wanted her, not that he loved her, thus this evasiveness in his reply.

"Anyway, you haven't anything nice to say. You can't get away with that same old line." "When you put your mouth against mine and I say something to you, those words pass right into your heart without having to take the long way around, making a turn, and going in through your ear." "I'm not going to be fooled by you! If you have something to say, say it like a gentleman. That's enough for today. If you behave yourself, tomorrow ......"

He wasn't paying any attention and again put his arm around her waist. Suddenly the ship lurched sideways. He had not taken hold of the railing and nearly pulled her down with him. At the same time, in the shadows, the other women let out shrill cries. Miss Pao took advantage of the situation and slipped away, saying, "I feel cold. I think I will go on down. See you tomorrow"-leaving him alone on deck.

Dark clouds had already formed in the sky, disclosing here and there a few stars. The storm sounded like a man greedily gulping his food; the broad open sea of the daytime had now been completely digested in the even vaster night. Against this background the tumult in a man's heart shrinks to noth ingness. Only a well of hope for the morrow, which has not yet descended into the vastness, illuminates itself like the speck of light from a firefly in the dark depths of boundless, roaring waves.

From that day on, Fang often ate his meals in the third class. Miss Su's attitude toward him visibly cooled, so he asked Miss Pao in private why Miss Su had been snubbing him lately. Miss Pao laughed at him for being such a simpleton, adding, "I can guess why, but I won't tell you so you won't get more stuck up."

He said she was imagining things, but after this, whenever he met Miss Six, he felt even more awkward and ill at ease.

The ship passed Ceylon and Singapore and in a few days reached Saigon. This was the first colony since the start of the voyage that the French could boast of as their own. The French on board were like dogs at the sight of their master's home-their chests suddenly filled out, their actions became more arrogant, and the pitch of their voices was raised. In the afternoon the ship docked and anchored for two nights. Miss Six's relatives, who worked at the local Chinese consulate, sent a car to the wharf to pick her up for dinner, and so, with everyone watching enviously, she was the first one to get off the ship. The remaining students decided to eat at a Chinese restaurant. Fang Hung-chien wanted to eat somewhere else with Miss Pao, bixt feeling it would be too embarrassing to say this in front of the others, he just went along with them.

After eating, the Suns left first to take their child back to the ship, while the others stopped at a coffee shop and Miss Pao suggested they go dancing. Though Fang had paid for a couple of dancing lessons in France, he was hard ly a master at it. After one dance with Miss Pao, he retreated to the sidelines and watched her dance with others. After twelve o'clock everyone had had enough and was ready to return to the ship to sleep. When they got out of the rickshaws at the wharf, Fang and Miss Pao lingered behind. She said, "Miss Six won't be coming back tonight."

"My Vietnamese cabinmate has gone ashore too. I heard his berth was taken by a Chinese businessman on his way to Hong Kong from Saigon." "We'll both be sleeping alone tonight," she said almost carelessly.

It was as though lightning had flashed through his mind and produced a sudden blinding glare. All the blood rushed to his face. He was about to speak, when someone up front turned around and shouted, "What are you two talking about so much? Walking slowly because you're afraid we'll eavesdrop, aren't you?" Without another word, the two hurried onto the ship. Everyone said, "Good night," and went his own way. Fang bathed and returned to his cabin, lay down, and then sat up again. Trying to dispel the thought, once it has lodged there, seems as agonizing as it is for a pregnant woman to have an abortion. Maybe Miss Pao had meant nothing by that re mark. If he went to her, he might make a fool of himself.



Since cargo was now being loaded on the deck and two watchmen were patrolling the corridors to prevent intruders from slipping in, there was no assurance he wouldn't be spotted by them. He couldn't make up his mind, yet he didn't want to give up hope. Suddenly he heard light, brisk footsteps, seemingly from the direction of Miss Pao's cabin. His heart leaped up, but was then pressed down by those footsteps, as if each step trod upon it. The footsteps halted. His heart likewise stood still, not daring to stir, as though someone stood upon it. A long moment passed and his heart was oppressed beyond endurance.

Fortunately, the footsteps resumed with renewed speed, coming closer. He was no longer in doubt, his heart no longer restraining itself. Wanting to shout with joy, he hopped from his bed and without getting his slippers all the way on, opened the door curtain to a whiff of Miss Pao's usual talcum powder. When he woke the next morning, sunlight filled the room. By his watch it was past nine. He reminisced how sweet the night's sleep had been, too deep even for dreams. No wonder sleep was called the land of dark sweetness. He then thought of Miss Pao's dark skin and sweet smile; later when he saw her he'd call her "Dark Sweetness," making him think of dark, sweet chocolate. Too bad that French chocolate wasn't any good and that the weather was too hot for eating it, for otherwise he would treat her to a box. Just as he was loafing in bed thinking of that nonsense, Miss Pao tapped on the outside of his cabin, called him "Lazybones," and told him to hurry and get up so they could go ashore and have fun.

When he finished combing his hair and washing up, he went to her cabin and waited outside a long while before she finally finished dressing. Breakfast had already been served in the dining room, so they ordered and paid for two extra servings. The waiter who served them, Ah Lix, was the one in charge of Fang's cabin. When they had finished eating and were about to leave, Ah Liu, instead of clearing away the things on the table, smiled at them gleefully and stretched out his hand. In his palm were three hairpins. Mouthing Cantonese Mandarin,22 he said in a jumbled roundabout way, "Mr. Fang, I found these just now while making your bed." Miss Pao flushed crimson and her big eyes seemed about to pop out of their sockets. Mortified, Fang cursed himself for being so stupid as not to have checked his bed when he got up. He pulled out three hundred francs from his pocket and said to Ah Lix, "Here! Now give me back those things." Ah Lix thanked him, adding that he was most dependable and would certain ly keep his mouth shut. Miss Pao looked elsewhere, pretending she knew nothing about it.

After they left the dining room, Fang gave the hairpins back to Miss Pao, apologizing as he did so. She angrily flung them to the floor, saying, "Who wants them after they've been in the filthy hands of that wretch!" The incident ruined their luck for the whole day.

Everything went wrong. The rickshaws took them to the wrong Place; they paid the wrong amount of money when they went shopping; neither one had any good luck. Fang wanted to go eat lunch at the Chinese restaurant where they went the evening before, but Miss Pao was set on eating Western food, saying she didn't want to meet anyone they knew from the ship. They then found a Western-type restaurant that looked respectable enough from the outside; but as it turned out, there wasn't a single thing edible from the cold dishes to the coffee. The soup was cold, and the ice cream was warm. The fish was like the Marine Corps. It apparently had already been on land for several days; the meat was like submarine sailors, having been submerged in water for a long time. Besides the vinegar, the bread, the butter, and the red wine were all sour. They completely lost their appetites while eating and couldn't hit it off in their conversation either. He tried to amuse her by calling her the affectionate nicknames "Dark Sweetie" and "Miss Chocolate." "Am I so dark then?" she asked heatedly. Stubbornly trying to justify himself, he argued, "But I like your color. This year in Spain I saw a famous beauty dancing. Her skin was just a little lighter than a smoked ham."

"Maybe you like Miss Six's dead-fish-belly white. You yourself are as black as a chimney sweep. Just take a look at yourself in the mirror," she answered him none too logically. With that she flashed a triumphant smile. Having received a thorough blackening from Miss Pao, he could hardly go on. The waiter served the chicken. There on the plate was a piece of meat that seemed to have been donated by the iron weathercock on a church steeple. Try as she might, Miss Pao could not make a dent in it. She put down her knife and fork, saying, "I haven't the teeth to bite into this thing. This restaurant is a total mess.

Fang attacked the chicken with a greater determination "You wouldn't listen to me," he said through clenched teeth. "You wanted to eat Western food. "I wanted to eat Western food, but I didn't ask you to come to this miserable restaurant! After the mistake is made, you blatue someone else. All you men are like that!" She talked as though she had tested the character of every man in the world.

After a while she somehow managed to bring up Dr. Li, her fiancé, say ing he was a devout Christian. Already piqued, Fang became disgusted upon hearing this. Since religious belief hadn't had the slightest effect on her be havior, he'd just have to use Dr. Li to get in a few digs at her, he thought. "How can a Christian practice medicine?" he asked.Without any idea of what he was driving at, she looked at him wide- eyed.

He added some rice-water "milk" to the scorched bean-husk "coffee" in front of her, and said, "One of the Ten Commandments of Christianity is 'Thou shalt not kill, but what does a doctor do butprofessionalized killing?" Unamused, she shot back, "Don't be

ridiculous!Medicine saves lives." Seeing how attractive she was when aroused, he decided to provoke her further. "No one who saves lives could be religious. Medicine wants people to live. It saves people's bodies. Religion saves people's souls and wants them not to fear death. So if a sick man is afraid of death, he'll call a doctor and take medicine. If the doctor and the medicine prove ineffective and there's no escape from death, then he'll get a minister or a priest to prepare him for his end. To study medicine and be religious at the same time comes down to: 'If I can't help a sick man to live properly, at least I can still help him die properly. Either way he can't go wrong by calling me in.' It's like a pharmacist running a coffin shop on the side. What a racket!" She was greatly incensed: "I suppose you won't ever get sick and have to call a doctor. Your big mouth and glib tongue are spouting all kinds of nonsense. Well, I study medicine too. Why do you malign people for no reason?"

Alarmed, he apologized. She complained of a headache and wanted to return to the ship to rest. All the way back he was very apologetic, but she remained in low spirits. After seeing her to her cabin, he slept for two hours himself. As soon as he got up he went to her cabin, tapped on the partition, and called her name, asking if she felt any better. To his surprise, the curtain opened and Miss Six came out saying Miss Pao was sick, had thrown up twice, and had just fallen asleep. He was at once chagrined and embarrassed; he said something lamely and beat a hasty retreat.

During dinner everyone noticed Miss Pao's absence and teased Fang, asking him where she was. He mumbled, "She's tired. She isn't feeling well." Gloatingly, Miss Six said, "She ate with Mr. Fang and came back with an upset stomach. Now she can't keep a thing down. I'm just afraid she's con tracted dysentery!" The callous men students laughed heartily and spouted all sorts of non sense, asking, "Who told her to eat with Little Fang behind our backs?" "Little Fang is a real disgrace! Why can't he pick a clean restaurant when he asks a girl out to eat?" "It couldn't be the restaurant's fault. Miss Pao was probably too happy and ate so much she couldn't digest it all. Right, Little Fang?"

"Little Fang, you didn't get sick? Oh, I get it! Miss Pao's beauty is such a feast to the eye, and you got your fill just looking at her and didn't have to eat." "I'm afraid what he feasted on wasn't beauty but-" The speaker was going to say "cooked meat"; then suddenly thinking the words would be inelegant in front of Miss Six and might be passed on to Miss Pao, he picked up a piece of bread and stuffed it into his mouth.

Fang actually hadn't had enough to eat during lunch but now could no longer stand everyone's teasing. Without waiting for all the dishes to be served, he took off, causing the others to laugh even harder. As he stood up and turned around, he saw the waiter, Ah Lix, standing behind him and giv ing him an understanding wink.

Miss Pao stayed in bed for a day or two; then she finally got up. She still toyed with Fang but not as freely as before. Perhaps because they would be reaching Hong Kong in a few days, she had to cleanse her mind and body in preparation for meeting her fiance.

Three or four students and the Suns were going to disembark at Colon to take the Canton-Hankow train. With departure imminent they gam bled away for all they were worth, only lamenting that lights were not per mitted in the dining room after midnight. On the afternoon before arrival in Hong Kong, they exchanged home addresses and made repeated promises to see one another again, as if the shipboard friendship was never to be forgotten. Fang was about to go on deck to look for Miss Pao when Ah Lix fur tively called him. Ever since the day he had given Ah Lix the three hundred francs, he felt uneasy whenever he saw Ah Lix. Hardening his expression, he asked Ah Lix what the matter was. Ah Lix said that among the cabins he took care of there was one vacant; he asked Fang if Fang wanted it for the eve ning, saying he would only ask six hundred francs for it. With a wave of the hand, Fang said, "What would I want with that?" and bounded up the steps two at a time, with Ah Lix laughing scornfully behind him. He suddenly realized what Ah Lix had had in mind and his face burned with shame. He went up to sputter out the incident to Miss Pao, cursing that scoundrel Ah Lix. She gave a snort, but as others were coming up, there was no chance to say anymore.

During dinner, Mr. Sun said, "Today, to mark our parting, we should live it up and gamble through the whole night. Ah Lix has an empty cabin which I've reserved for two hundred francs." Miss Pao threw Fang a contemptuous glance, then immediately stared at her plate and ate her soup. Mrs. Sun, feeding her child with a spoon, asked meekly, "We'll be going ashore tomorrow. Aren't you afraid of getting tired?" Mr. Sun said, "Tomorrow I'll find a hotel and sleep for days and nights on end. The engines on the ship are so noisy, I've nor been sleeping well." Meanwhile, Fang's self-esteem had deflated like a rubber tire under Miss Pao's glance. After dinner Miss Pao and Miss Six were unusually intimate, going about arm in arm and never leaving each other's company for an in stant. He followed them lamely onto the deck. As he watched them talk and laugh without letting him squeeze a word in edgewise, he felt silly and humil iated; he was like a beggar who, after running after a rickshaw for some dis tance without getting a cent, finally has to stop but is reluctant to give up. Looking at her watch, Miss Pao said, "I'm going down to sleep. The ship will dock before dawn tomorrow so we won't be able to sleep well in the morning. If I don't go to bed early, I'll be all tired out and will look a wreck when I go ashore tomorrow."  Miss Six said, "You're so concerned about your looks.Are you afraid Mr.Li won't love you? If you look a little weary, it'll make him dote on you so much more!"  Miss Pao said, "Is that the voice of experience? Just think. Tomorrow I'll be home. I'm so excited I am afraid I won't be able to fall asleep. Miss Six, let's go on down. We can lie down in the cabin and talk more comfortably." With a nod to Fang they went down. He burned with such rage inside that it seemed enough to set the end of his cigarette aglow. He could not understand why Miss Pao had suddenly changed her attitude. So was their relationship to end just like that? When he was at the University of Ber lin, he had heard the lecture on Eros by Ed Spranger, a professor xvell known in Japan, and so he understood that love and sexual desire are twins which go together but are different. Sexual desire is not the basis for love, and love is not the sublimation of sexual desire. He had also read manuals on love and other such books and knew the difference between physical and spiritual love. With Miss Pao it wasn't a matter of heart or soul. She hadn't had any change of heart, since she didn't have a heart. It was only a matter of flesh changing its flavor over time.

At any rate, he hadn't suffered any loss and may even have had the better of it, so there should be no cause for com plaint. He tried to console himself with these clever phrases and careful cal culations, but disappointment, frustrated lust, and wounded pride all refused to settle down, like the doll which always rights itself when pushed over and even wobbles about more vigorously.  At the crack of dawn the next day, the ship reduced its speed and the sound of its engines altered rhythm. Fang's cabinmate had already packed his things, while Fang lay in bed, thinking that since he and Miss Pao would never meet again, he would see her off with due courtesy, no matter what. Ah Lix suddenly entered with a woeful look and asked for a tip. "Why do you want money now?" asked Fang angrily. "It'll be several days before we reach Shanghai." Ah Lix explained in a hoarse voice that Mr. Sun and the others playing mahjong had been too noisy and had been caught by the French who had raised cain. He had lost his job and in a little while would have to pack his bedding and get off the boat.

Fang secretly rejoiced at this piece of good fortune,then sent Ah Lix off with a tip.During breakfast those disembarking were in lowspirits. Mrs. Sun's eyes were red and swollen and thecorners seemed saturated with tears; the y were like the dew on flower petals on a summer morning, and the slightest touch of the finger would cause them to drop. Miss Pao noticed there was a new waiter on duty and asked where Ah Lix had gone, but no one answered her. Fang asked Miss Pao, "You have a lot of luggage. Would you like me to help you off the ship?" In a distant tone of voice she answered, "Thank you. There's no need for you to bother. Mr. Li is coming aboard to meet me." Miss Six said, "You can introduce Mr. Fang to Mr. Li." Fang wished he could have crushed every bone in Miss Six's thin body to lime powder. Miss Pao ignored Miss Six and, after drinking a glass of milk, rose hurriedly, saying she still hadn't finished packing. Heedless of everyone's jesting remarks, Fang put down his glass and followed her. Miss Pao didn't even glance around, and when he called her name, she said impatiently, "I'm busy. I don't have time to talk with you." He did not quite know how to show his anger. Just at that moment Ah Lix appeared like a ghost and asked Miss Pao for a tip. Miss Pao's eyes ex ploded with sparks as she said, "I tipped you yesterday for waiting on the table. What other tip do you want? You don't take care of my cabin." Ah Lix silently reached his hand into his pocket and after a long time pulled out a hairpin. It was one of those Miss Pao had flung away the other day. While sweeping the floor he had found only one of the three. At first Fang wanted to scold Ah Lix, but seeing how seriously Ah Lix had pulled out this magical object, he couldn't help laughing. "You think it's funny?" Miss Pao snapped. "If you think it's so funny, you give him some money. I don't have a cent!" And with that she turned and strode off.

Afraid that a disgruntled Ah Lix might run his mouth off to Dr. Li, Fang gave Ah Liu some more money, charging it up to his bad luck. Fang then went on deck by himself and watched disconsolately as the ship drew up to the Kowloon wharf. Other disembarking passengers, both Chinese and non- Chinese, also came up. He hid himself in a corner, not wishing to see Miss Pao. On the wharf, policemen, porters, and hotel agents who had come to greet passengers were clamoring noisily; a group of people were waving handkerchiefs at the ship or gesticulating. He was sure Dr. Li was among them and wanted a closer look at him. Finally, the gangplank was lowered, and after the immigration procedures were completed, friends of departing passengers swarmed aboard.



Their son Hsiao-ch'eng said mischievously, "Hung-chien is getting a close look at that Six Wen-wan.

He's thinking of marrying her to take Shu-ying's place."Fang couldn't help from blurting out, "Don't talk

nonsense!" and barely managed to stop himself from flinging the paper to the floor. Though he

prevented his anger from showing on his face, his voice washoarse.When the Chous saw his

unsmiling countenance and his pale face, they were a little bewildered. Then suddenly exchanging

glances with each other as though they understood their son-in-law's state of mind, they scolded

their son Hsiao-ch'eng in unison, "You deserve a spanking. Who told you to inter rupt when adults

are talking? Your brother Hung-chien just came back to day. Of course, he's unhappy at the thoughts

of your sister. Your joking can go too far. From now on,you're to keep your mouth shut. Hung-chien,

we know you have a kindly nature. Pay no attention to thechild's nonsense."Fang Hung-chien again

blushed crimson. Puffing out his cheeks, Hsiao ch'eng thought resentfully, Don't you put on! If you

were any good, you'd never get married for the rest of your life. I don't care about your pen. You can

just take it back.When Fang returned to his room, he discovered Shu-ying's picture was missing

from the table. He thought probably his mother-in-law, afraid that he'd be reminded of Shu-ying by

the picture and become too grief-stricken, had come especially to remove it.It had been only six or

seven hours since he left the ship, yet everything that had happened there seemed to belong to

another world. All his excite ment about going ashore having evaporated, he felt small and weak,

thinking a job would be hard to find and romance difficult to achieve. As he had pic tured it,returning

home after study abroad was like water on the ground turning to vapor and rising to the sky,then

changing again to rain and returning to the earth, while the whole world looked on and talked about it.

His return home from thousands of miles away hadn't raised a single fleck of froth on the sea of his

fellow countrymen. Now, thanks to all the blather spewing out of Chief-secretary Wang's pen, he had

been blown up into a big soap bubble, bright and colorful while it lasted but gone at a single jab.

Leaning against the window screen he gazed outside.The stars filling the sky were dense and busy.

They remained completely still, yet watching them made him think the sky was bustling noisily. The

crescent moon seemingly resembled a girl that is not yet full-grown but already able to face the world

unabashed. Its light and contours were fresh and sharp, gradually standing out against the night

setting. The tiny insects in the garden grass hummed and buzzed, engaged in a nocturnal conversation.

From somewhere a pack of frogs croaked hoarsely, their mouths, lips, throats,and tongues working in

unison as though the sound waves were being stewed over a fire until they bubbled: "Brekekey Coky

Coky," like the chorus in Aristophanes' comedies, or of Yale University's cheerleaders. A few fireflies

gracefully passed to and fro, not as if flying but as though floating in the dense atmosphere. A dark area

beyond the reach of moonlight was suddenly lit up by a firefly's speck of light, like a tiny greenish eye in

the summer night.This was the scene familiar to him before going abroad; but now when he saw it, his

heart suddenly contracted in pain, his eyes smarted on the verge of tears, and then he understood life's

beauty and goodness and the joy of coming home. Such things as the item in the Shanghai newspaper

were no more worth troubling over than the hum of insects outside the screen. He sighed comfortably,

then yawned broadly.When he stepped off the train at his home district station, his father, his youngest

brother Feng-i, as well as seven or eight uncles, cousins, and friends of his father were all there on the

platform to meet him.He was quite dismayed, and greeting each in turn said, "On such a hot day as

this, I've really imposed on you too much." And observing how his father's beard had grayed, he said,

"Papa, you shouldn't have come!"His father, Fang Tung-weng, handed him his folding fan, saying, "

You people in Western suits won't need this antique, but it's better than fanning yourself with a straw

hat." When he saw his son had traveled second class, he praised him. "Such a fine lad! He came back

on the boat in second class, so I thought for sure he'd go first class on the train, but still he went second

class. He hasn't become haughty and proud and changed his true nature. He already knows how to

conduct himself." Everyone echoed his praise.They had jostled their way out of the ticket gate when

suddenly a man wearing blue glasses and a Western suit caught hold of Fang Hung-chien and said, "

Hold it,please! We're taking a picture." Bewildered,Hung-chien was just about to ask him what for, when

he heard the click of a camera, and the man in blue glasses let go of his arm. There facing Hung-chien

was another man pointing a camera at him. Blue Glasses pulled out his card, saying, "Did you return to

China yesterday, Dr. Fang?" The man with the camera came up and he too pulled out his card. Hung-chien

saw at a glance that they were reporters from two local newspapers in the district.The reporters both said,

"You must be tired from your journey today, Dr. Fang. We'll come to your residence tomorrow morning to

 learn more from you." They then turned to pay their compliments to Mr. Fang and accompalied the Fangs

and others out of the station.Feng-i said laughingly to Hung-chien, "You've become a celebrity in the district."

Though Hung-chien hated the way the reporters kept calling him "Dr. Fang," which grated on his ears,

seeing people so respectfully regard him as a man of importance made him swell up in mind and body

and feeltruly great.

Now realizing the advantage of living in a small town,he only wished he had put on a better suit and carried

a cane. With the big fan waving about in his hand and his face bathed in sweat, the picture they had taken

could not possibly turn out very well.When he got home and saw his mother and two sisters-in-law, he

distributed the gifts he had brought back.His mother said with a smile, "It takes going abroad to learn such

thought fulness. He even knows how to buy things for women."His father said, "P'eng-t'u mentioned a Miss

Six over he phone yesterday. What's that all about?""It's just someone who was on the same boat," said

Hung-chien crossly"There's nothing to it.P'eng-t'u-he likes to talk a lot." He was about to up braid his brother

for spreading rumors, but caught himself when he saw P'eng-t'u's wife was present.His father said, "We'll

have to work on your marriage.Both of youx brothers were married long ago and have children.

Matchmakers have already suggested several prospects, but you don't need disgusting old creatures like

us to make decisions for you. As for Six Hung-yeh, he does have a bit of reputation, and apparently held a

few government posts in his day-"Hung-chien thought to himself, Why do charming girls all have fathers?

She can be hidden away all by herself in one's heart to cuddle, but when he? father,uncle, and brother are

dragged along with her, the girl stops being so cute and carefree and it's not so easy to conceal her away

in your heart any more. Her charm has been mixed in with the dregs. Some people talk about marriage as

though it were homosexual love.It's not the girl they fancy, but her old man or her elder brother they admire.

"I don't approve,"said his mother. "It's no good to marry an official's daughter. She'll want you to wait on her

instead of waiting on you. Besides, a daughter-in-law should come from the same village.Girls from other

districts are always a bit unsuited in temperament. You won't be happy with her. This Miss Six is a returned

student, so she couldn't be very young." The faces of his two sisters-in-law, who had never graduated from

high school and who had been born and raised in that district, both bore an expressionof agree ment.His

father remarked, "She's not only studied abroad but has a Ph.D. I'm afraid Hung-chien couldn't manage

her," as though Miss Six were some sort of hard object like a brick which would take the stomach of an

ostrich or turkey to digest."Our Hung-chien has a Ph.D., too," protested his mother. "He's not in ferior to her,

so why isn't he a match for her?"Stroking his beard, his father said with a smile,"Hung-chien, that's

something your mother just couldn't understand. Women who've done a littlebook learning are the hardest

of all to handle. The man has to be a step above her, not an equal. That's why a college graduate should

marry a high school graduate and a returned student should marry a college graduate. As for a girl who

has studied abroad and received a Ph.D., no one but a foreigner would dare marry her. Otherwise, the man

would have to have two doctor ates at least. I'm not mistaken about that,am I, Hung-chien? It's the same

idea as 'Marry a daughter into a greater family than your own, but take a wife from a lesser family than your

own.'"His mother said, "Of the girls suggested by the go-betweens, the Hsus' second daughter is the best.

I'll show you her picture later."The matter is taking a serious turn, thought Hung-chien. All his life he had

detested those modern girls from small towns with outdated fashions and a provincial cosmopolitanism.

They were just like the first Western suit made by a Chinese tailor with everything copied from a foreigner's

old clothes used as a model down to the two square patches on the sleeves and trouser legs.

No need to protest now. In a few days he would make his getaway to Shang hai.His father also said that

therewould be many receptions given in his honor, and with the weather so hot, he should be careful not to

stuff himself. Hemust make courtesy calls to all family elders, for which his father would let him take his

rickshaw. When the weather cooled off a little, his father would take him to perform the rites at his

grandfather's grave.His mother said she would have the tailor come the next day to fit him for a silk gown

and pants, and for the time being his brother Feng-i had two gowns and could lend him one to wear when

he went visiting.For dinner that evening, his mother herself prepared fried shreddedeel, chicken wings in

soy sauce, stewed chicken with melon, and shrimps cooked in wine-all his favorite local dishes. She

picked out the best piecesfor his bowl, saying, "How terrible it must have been for you, living abroad for four

years with nothing to eat!"

Everyone laughed and said she was at it again. If a person ate nothing abroad, how could Hung-chien

keep from starving to death? She said, "I can't understand how those foreign devils stay alive! All that bread

and milk. I couldn't eat them if they gave them to me free."Hung-chien suddenly felt that in this family

atmosphere the war was something unbelievable, just as no one can think of ghosts in broad daylight. His

parents' hopes and plans left no room for any unforeseen circumstances. Seeing them thus so firmly in

control of the future, he too took heart and thought that maybe the situation in Shanghai would be eased,

and there would be no outbreak of hostilities.And if there were, they could be brushed aside and ignored.

When Fang Hung-chien rose from bed the next day, the two reporters had already arrived.



When he saw the newspaper they had brought along with the item, "Dr. Fang Returns Home," and the

full-length picture taken the day before beside it, he felt so ashamed he couldn't bear to look at it. Blue

Glasses' hand gripping his right shoulder showed clearly in the picture, added to which, the side view

of his own startled expression made it look exactly like a photograph of someone catching a thief.Blue

Glasses, a man of great learning, said he hadlong heard that Carle ton University was the most famous

institution of higher learning in the en tire world, on a par with Tsing-hua University.The reporter carrying

the camera asked Hung-chien what observations he had on the world situation and whether a Sino-

Japanese war would break out. Fang Hung-chien finally managed to send them on their way, though

not before he had written inscriptions: "The Mouthpiece of the People,"for Blue Glasses' newspaper,

and "The Mirror of Truth,"for Camera's newspaper.Just as Hung-chien was about to go out visiting, his

father's old friend, Principal Lu of the district's provincial high school, came to invite his father,him, and

his brother to breakfast the next morning at a teahouse and later asked him to give a lecture to the

summer school students on "A Reevaluation of the Influences of Western Civilization on Chinese

History." Hung-chien dreaded giving lectures and was going to beg off on some pretext. Then to his

chagrin his father readily accepted the invitation for him. He could only stifle a snort, in such hot weather,

to have to put on a long gown and vest, speak rubbish and stink with sweat, if it isn't a living hell, what is

it? he thought. Educators sure have a different mentality from ordinary people!

Mr. Fang, hoping his son would win praises for his "scholarly family background," dug out from a chest

several volumes of string-bound Chinese texts, such as Wen-tzu t'ang-chi,8 Kuei-ssu lei-kao,9 Ch'i-ching

lou-chi,'0 and T'an-ying lu,11 instructing Hung-chien to look through them carefully for his lecture material.

Hung-chien read all afternoon with deep interest, greatly broadening his knowledge. He learned that the

Chinese were square and hon est by nature, so they said the sky was square. Foreigners were round

about and cunning and therefore maintained that the earth was round; the heart of the Chinese was

located in the center, while a Westerner's heart tilted slightly to the left. The opium imported from the West

was poisonous and should be banned. The nature of the soil in China was mild, therefore opium produced

there would not be addictive. Syphilis, that is, smallpox, came from the West, and so on. Such a pity that

while these items of information were all very interesting, they could not be used in the lecture. He would

have to read something else. That day after returning home from dinner at his uncle's house with his eyes

blurred from drink, he flipped through four or five history textbooks and worked up a draft of over one

thousand words with a couple of jokes inserted. This kind of preparation did not tax his brains any, though

he did lose some blood to the mosquitoes.The next morning at the teahouse, after he had the usual soup

noodle- the fourth snack-dish to be served,Principal Lu paid the bill and urged Hung chien to start off. Each

hurriedly took his long gown from the waiter and de parted. Feng-i stayed with Mr. Fang for a cup of tea.

The school auditorium was already filled with students-over two hun dred boys and girls. Accompanied to

the stage by Principal Lii, Fang Hung chien felt his whole body tingle and itch from having so many eyes

focused on him, and walking became difficult.

After he had seated himself on the stage, the haze before his eyes lifted, and he noticed that those sitting in

the front row seemed to be the faculty. At the recording secretary's desk set close to the stage was a girl

student, the waves of whose new permanent were so stiff that they seemed to have been painted on.

Everyone in the auditorium was whispering back and forth, appraising him with great curiosity. He silent

ly enjoined his cheeks, Don't blush! You mustn't turn red! He regretted hav ing removed his sunglasses

when he entered. With two pieces of black glass in front of his eyes, it would have seemed as though he

too were hidden in heavy darkness, and he would have felt less embarrassed.Principal Lii was already

delivering his introduction.Hung-chien hast ily reached into the pocket of his gown to feel around for his

lecture notes only to find they were missing. He broke out in a nervous sweat.Oh, no! he thought. How

could I have lost something so important? When I left the house I distinctly remember putting them into

the pocket of my gown. Ex cept for a few opening sentences, he, in his fright, had forgotten the rest of his

speech. He searched his memory for all he was worth, but it was like trying to hold water in a sieve. Once

he grew panicky, he couldn't focus his attention. His threads of thought would get knotted up, then come

loose. A few vague facts remained, but it was like waiting for a person in a busy place. You catch a glimpse

of someone in the crowd who looks like him, only to find he's gone when you go over to get him. Just as his

mind was playing"hide-and-seek," Principal Lii bowed and asked him to speak. This was fol lowed by a

round of applause. He had just stood up when he noticed Feng-i rushing into the auditorium, breathless.

Seeing that the lecture had already begun, Feng-i found an empty seat and sat down in despair. Hung-

chien suddenly realized that as he was leaving the teahouse, he had put on Feng-i's gown by mistake.

Both gowns belonged to Feng-i and were of identical color and material. Such being the case, he'd just

have to screw up his courage, brace himself, and spout some nonsense.

When the applause had died down, Fang Hung-chien forced a smile and began, "Principal Lii, members

of the faculty, and students: Though your applause was welbmeaning, it is actually quite unjustified.

Applause indicates satisfaction with the speech. Now before I have even begun, you have already

applauded with satisfaction.Why should I have to go on? You should all listen to the lecture first, then clap

a few times as you wish,letting me leave the stage with dignity. Now that you've clapped at the start, if my

lecture can't live up to such enthusiastic applause, it'll put me in the embarrassing position of having been

paid without being able to deliver the goods."The audience roared with laughter. The recording secretary

was also smiling as her pen flew across the paper. Fang Hung-chien hesitated. What should he say next?

He still remembered a few of the points and views put forth in the string-bound texts, but as for the history

textbooks he had skimmed through after dinner, there wasn't even a trace left. Those con founded textbooks!

it's amazing that I could have learned all that stuff for examinations when I was a student! Ah, now I have it!

At least it's better than nothing. "As for the influence of Western civilization on Chinese his tory, you can find

that in any history textbook. There's no need for me to repeat it. You all know that the first time China officially

came in contact with European thought was in the middle of the Ming dynasty [1368-1644]. For this reason

Catholics always refer to this period as the Chinese Renaissance. Actually, the science brought by the

Catholic priests of the Ming dynasty is now out of date, while the religion they brought has never been up to

date. In the last several hundred years of overseas communication, there are only two items from the West

which have been lasting in Chinese society as a whole. One is opium, and the other is syphilis.These are

what the Ming dy nasty assimilated of Western civilization."

Most of the audience laughed, a small number gasped in astonishment, and a few of the teachers

scowled. The recording-secretary's face flushed crimson, and her pen stopped, as if by hearing Fang

Hung-chien's last remark her virgin ears had lost their chastity in front of the audience. Principal Lii uttered

a warning cough behind Hung-chien. By this time Fang Hung-chien was just like a man getting out of bed

on a cold winter morning. Having managed after the greatest of efforts to hop from the covers, he just has to

bear the cold long enough to dress. There was no backing out now."Opium was originally called 'foreign

tobacco'"Hung-chien noticed one of the teachers, who seemed to be an old instructor of Chinese, fanning

himself and shaking his head, and he quickly added, "'Foreign' refers, of course, to the 'Western Ocean' of '

Cheng Ho's Voyages to the Western Ocean, for according to the Ta-Ming hui-tien,opium was an article of

tribute from Siam and Java. But in the earliest literary work in Europe, Homer's Odyssey"-the old man's bald

pate seemed to be overwhelmed by that last foreign word-"there appears what is said to be this very thing.

As for syphilis"Principal Lii coughed several times in succession-"it is without doubt an imported

commodity from the West. Schopenhauer hassaid that syphilitic sores were the most distinctive feature

of modern European civilization. If you have not had the opportunity to read the original, you can very easily

read Hsii Chih-mo's'1 translation of the French novelCandide to learn something about the origins of syphilis.

The disease was brought by Western ers after the Cheng-te period of the Ming dynasty. The ill effects of

these two things were of course unlimited,but, nonetheless, one cannot dismiss them out of hand.

Opium inspired many works of literature. Whereas ancient poets sought inspiration from wine, modern

European and American poets all find inspiration in opium. Syphilis transmits idiocy, insanity, and

deformity by heredity, but it is also said that it is capable of stimulating genius. For example-"At this point

Principal Lu coughed himself hoarse.When Hung-chien had finished speaking, and while the clapping in

the audience was still going strong,Principal Lii, with a long face and a hoarse voice,said a few words of

thanks: "Today we have had the honor of hearing Dr. Fang tell us several novel views.We have found it

highiy interesting. Dr. Fang is the son of an old friend of mine. I watched him grow up and I know how much

he enjoys telling jokes. It is very hot today, so he has intentionally made his lecture humorous. I hope in

the future we will have the opportunity to hear his ear nest and solemn discourse. But I'd like to tell Dr. Fang

that our school li brary is filled with the spirit of the New Life Movement.17 It certainly has no French novels"

With this he struck the air with his hand.

Hung-chien was too embarrassed even to look at the audience.Before the day was over many people had

learned that Fang's son, just returned from study abroad, publicly advocated smoking opium and visiting

brothels. When this came to Mr. Fang's ears, he did not realize it was the result of his having instructed

his son to look through the string-bound texts. Though he did not approve of what his son said, he could

not very well get angry over it. The fighting at Wusung on August 13, 1937, occurred soon afterwards and

Fang Hung-chien's prank was mentioned no more. Those interested in making him their son-in-law,

however,could not forget his lecture, and they assumed he had led a life of profligacy while abroad. If

they went to the Matchmaker's Temple at West Lake to draw lots before the idols, they would probably

end up with tally number four, which read, "That this man should have this disease. ." Such a young

man would never do as a son-in-law. One after another they deferred discussion of marriage on the

grounds that the times were unstable and asked the Fangs for the return of their daughters' pictures

and horoscopes. Extremely disheartened by it all, Mrs. Fang could not get the Hsiis' second daughter

off her mind. Hung-chien,however, was quite unperturbed.Now that fighting had broken out, Mr. Fang,

a prominent squire in the village, was in charge of local security matters. Remembering the "January

28th Incident"20 when the district had not suffered enemy bombing, the in habitants of the district

assumed that this too was nothing important and were not particularly alarmed.




By this time he had completely forgotten the French superstition he had told Mr. Sun on the boat. All he wanted was to win money. At the end of the eighth round, Fang Hung-chien had won nearly three hundred dollars. The three other players, Mrs. Chang, "For Example," and "Admiral Nelson," all stood up and got ready to eat without paying a cent or mentioning a word about paying. Hung-chien reminded them with the remark, "How lucky I've been today. I've never won so much money before."As though waking from a dream, Mrs. Chang said, "Why, how stupid of us! We haven't settled with Mr. Fang yet. Mr. Ch'en, Mr. Ting, let me pay him, and we can settle it among ourselves later on." She then opened her purse and handed the notes over to Hung-chien,counting them out one by one.They had Western food. "Admiral Nelson," who was a Christian, rolled his eyes up toward the ceiling and thanked God for bestowing the food be fore he sat down. Because he had won so much money, Fang Hung-chien was full of talk and banter. After the meal everyone sat about smoking and drink ing coffee. He noticed a little bookcase next to the sofa and supposed it con tained Miss Chang's reading material.Besides a big stack of West Wind and Reader's Digest in the original, there was an unannotated, small-type edition of The Complete Works of Shakespeare in the original, the Bible, interior Decorating, a reprint of The Biography of Madame Curie, Teach Yourself Photography,My Country and My People [by Lin Yutang I, and other immortal classics, as well as an anthology of a dozen screen plays, one of which, needless to say, was Gone with the Wind.There was one small blue volume with the title in gilt letters on the spine:How to Gain a Husband and Keep Him. Hung-chien could not resist taking it out and skimming through it. He came across a paragraph which read:"You must be sweet and gentle to the man in order to leave a good impression deep in his heart. Girls,never forget always to have a bright smile on your face." As he read this, the smile transferred itself from the book to his own face. When he looked again at the cover, he noticed the author was a woman and wondered if she were married. She should have written "Mrs. So-and-So," then the book would have obviously been the voice of experience. At this thought his smile broadened. Raising his head, he suddenly noticed Miss Chang's gaze on him and hastily replaced the book and wiped the smile from his face.

"For Example" asked Miss Chang to play the piano, and they all echoed the request in unison. When Miss Chang had finished playing, in order to rectify the misunderstanding which had caused his smile,Hung-chien was first to say "Wonderful," and called for an encore. He stayed for a while longer, then said goodbye. Halfway home in the rickshaw, he remembered the title of the book and burst out laughing. Husbands are women's careers. Not having a husband is like being unemployed, so she has to hold tightly to her "rice bowl."Well,don't happen to want any woman to take me as her "rice bowl" after reading that book.I'd rather have them scorn me and call me a "rice bucket."Miss Wo-Ni-Ta, we just weren't meant to "raise the bowl to the eyebrows."I hope some other lucky guy falls in love with you. At this thought Hung-chien stamped his foot and laughed loudly.Pretending the moon in the sky was Miss Chang, he waved goodbye to her. Suspecting he was drunk, the rickshaw puller turned his head and asked him to keep still, for it was hard to pull the rickshaw.

After all the guests had left, Mrs. Chang said, "That Fang fellow isn't suitable. He's too small-minded and values money too highly. He showed his true colors the moment I tested him. He acted as if he were afraid we weren't going to pay him off. Isn't that funny?"

Mr. Chang said, "German goods don't measure up to American ones. Some doctor! He's supposed to have studied in England, but he didn't even understand a lot of the English I spoke. After the first World War, Germany fell behind. All the latest designs of cars,airplanes, typewriters, and cameras are American made.

I don't care for returned students from Europe.""Nita, what do you think of that Fang fellow?" asked Mrs. Chang.Miss Chang, who could not forgive Fang Hung-chien for his smile while reading the book, replied simply,"He's obnoxious! Did you see the way he ate? Does he

look like someone who's ever been abroad! When he drank his soup, he dipped his bread in it! And when he ate the roast chicken, instead of using a fork and knife, he picked a leg up with his fingers! I saw it all with my own eyes. Huh! What kind of manners is that? If Miss Prym, our etiquette teacher, ever saw that, she'd certainly call him a piggy-wiggy!"When the affair of marriage with the Changs came to naught, Mrs. Chou was greatly disappointed. But when Fang Hung-chien was young he was brought up on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the Tale of the Marshes, Monkey,and other such children's literature that were not in line with basic educational principles for children. He was born too soon to have had the good fortune to take up such fine books as Snow White and Pinocchio. He remembered the famous saying from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, "A wife is like a suit of clothes," and of course clothes also meant the same as wife. He now had himself a new fur coat. The loss of a wife or two wasn't about to worry him.Perhaps because so many people had died in the war,the unspent life energy of all those who had died in vain merged into the vital force of spring. The weather that spring was especially beautiful. Stirred by the invigorating spring, men, like infants cutting their teeth, somehow itched painfully from the budding of new life. A boomtown, Shanghai had no scenic spots in which spring might rest its feet. In the parks and lawns the grass and trees were like the wild beasts confined in iron cages at the zoo-restricted and lonely; there simply was no place for spring to lease its full splendor. Lodged only in the minds and bodies of men, spring brought an upsurge of illnesses and infections, adulteries, drunken brawlings, and pregnancies. Since the wartime population needed replenish ment, pregnancies were a good sign. But according to Mrs. Chou, children born in that year were really the souls of all those who had died prematurely in the war hurrying to be reborn so that they could live out the allotted years of their lives. Consequently, she believed, they wouldn't live long. For the last few days, Fang Hung-chien had been drowsy during the day but wide awake at night. When he woke up at dawn and heard the birds chirping in the trees outside his window, for no reason at all he felt happy, full of inexplicable expectations. Also his heart seemed to have become lighter, giddy, floating,but it was an empty joy. Like the balloon released by a child, it would rise no more than a few feet and then burst into nothing, leaving only an indefinable sense of loss and disappointment. He was restless and eager for action and yet lethargic. He was like willow catkins floating about in the spring breeze, too light and too powerless to fly far. He felt this indecisive and confused state of mind was exactly like the mood evoked in the spring time poetry1 describing the longings of maidens secluded in their chambers.Since women themselves no longer bothered with such springtime senti ments and he, a man, was still afflicted with such thoughts, he felt ridiculous. A woman like Miss Pao, for instance, would never have time for springtime longing, but Miss Su? It would be hard to tell, for she seemed to be the model of the traditional beauty of sentiments. He had promised to visit her, and why shouldn't he visit her once? Although he knew the visit might lead to complications he also realized that life was too terribly boring and there were so few ready-made girl friends. He was like an insomniac disregarding the ill effects of sleeping pills and thinking only of the immediate relief.

When Fang Hung-chien arrived at the Sus' residence, he imagined Miss Su dashing into the living room, full of laughter and noise, and chiding him for not having come sooner. Instead, her doorman served him tea, informing him, "Miss Sn will be right out." In the Sus' garden, the peach, the pear, and the lilac trees were in full bloom. It was only the end of February by the lunar calendar, but the flowers were already in bloom. He wondered what would be left of the spring scene by the time of the Ch'ing Ming Festival in early April. One of the windows in the living room was open, and the fragrance of flowers baked by the sun was thick enough to stuff one's nose and warm enough to make one drowsy. The fragrance of flowers resembles the odor of garlic and onions: both are scents from plants but smell meaty and not much different from the thick smell of human hair at a summer dance. Among the wall scrolls was a poem by Huang Shan-ku,calligraphed by Shen Tzu-p'ei. The first line read, "Flower scent overcomes man, making him wish to break Zen."He was amused by the line, thinking that if a monk had been affected by the fragrance outside the window, the monk had already violated his principle of total concentra tion and this transgression was similar to a monk's eating meat. After looking at the scrolls and antiques in the room for more than three times, he was struck by the thought that the foot stroke of Shen Tzu-p'ei's character for "man" closely resembled the tiny bound foot of an elderly Peking maidserv ant. The top part of the leg character was stiff and bulky while the bottom part suddenly came to a tiny point and ended.Some foot that was!

Just then Miss Su appeared. Her faint smile was like an overcast sky on a cold dreary day. As she shook his hand, she said, "I haven't seen you for a long time, Mr. Fang. What brought you here today?" She shook my hand with such warmth at our parting last year but now grasping her hand is like clutching a cold-blooded shark fin. We were on such good terms when we parted, so why this reserve today? Hung-chien won dered. Like a student who has crammed for an examination but finds he has forgotten everything after a night's sleep, Hung-chien could only lie, saying that he hadn't been in town for more than a few days and had made a point of coming to see her. Miss Sun courteously thanked him for "honoring her with a visit," and asked him where he was "making his mark." He stammered that he had not yet found a job, was thinking of going to the interior, and for the time being was helping out at a bank run by a relative.




Since women themselves no longer bothered with such springtime senti ments and he, a man, was still afflicted with such thoughts, he felt ridiculous. A woman like Miss Pao, for instance, would never have time for springtime longing, but Miss Su? It would be hard to tell, for she seemed to be the model of the traditional beauty of sentiments. He had promised to visit her, and why shouldn't he visit her once?Although he knew the visit might lead to complications7 he also realized that life was too terribly boring and there were so few ready-made girl friends. He was like an insomniac disregarding the ill effects of sleeping pills and thinking only of the immediate relief.When Fang Hung-chien arrived at the Sus' residence, he imagined Miss Su dashing into the living room, full of laughter and noise, and chiding him for not having come sooner. Instead, her doorman served him tea,informing him, "Miss Sn will be right out."In the Sus' garden, the peach, the pear, and the lilactrees were in full bloom. It was only the end of February by the lunar calendar, but the flowers were already in bloom. He wondered what would be left of the spring scene by the time of the Ch'ing Ming Festival in early April. One of the windows in the living room was open, and the fragrance of flowers baked by the sun was thick enough to stuff one's nose and warm enough to make one drowsy. The fragrance of flowers resembles the odor of garlic and onions: both are scents from plants but smell meaty and not much different from the thick smell of human hair at a summer dance. Among the wall scrolls was a poem by Huang Shan-ku,calligraphed by Shen Tzu-p'ei. The first line read, "Flower scent overcomes man, making him wish to break Zen."He was amused by the line,thinking that if a monk had been affected by the fragrance outside the window, the monk had already violated his principle of total concentra tion and this transgression was similar to a monk's eating meat. After looking at the scrolls and antiques in the room for more than three times, he was struck by the thought that the foot stroke of Shen Tzu-p'ei's character for "man" closely resembled the tiny bound foot of an elderly Peking maidserv ant. The top part of the leg character was stiff and bulky while the bottom part suddenly came to a tiny point and ended.

Some foot that was!Just then Miss Su appeared. Her faint smile was like an overcast sky on a cold dreary day. As she shook his hand, she said, "I haven't seen you for a long time,Mr. Fang. What brought you here today?"

She shook my hand with such warmth at our parting last year but now grasping her hand is like clutching a cold-blooded shark fin. We were on such good terms when we parted, so why this reserve today? Hung-chien won dered. Like a student who has crammed for an examination but finds he has forgotten everything after a night's sleep, Hung-chien could only lie, saying that he hadn't been in town for more than a few days and had made a point of coming to see her. Miss Sn courteously thanked him for "honoring her with a visit," and asked him where he was "making his mark." He stammered that he had not yet found a job, was thinking of going to the interior, and for the time being was helping out at a bank run by a relative.Eyeing him, she asked, "Isn't the bank run by your father-in-law? Mr. Fang, you are really something!When was the wedding? Here I am, an old classmate from years back, and yet you kept your wedding all to yourself and didn't breathe a word about it. You were coming home to get married after you got your Ph.D.,weren't you? That's really a case of having your name on the golden rolls4 and figured candles in the nuptial chamber-what they call double happiness. I haven't had the honor of meeting Mrs. Fang."Fang Hung-chien felt so ashamed that he wished he could hide some where. Remembering the news item in the Shanghai paper, he said quickly that she must have obtained that information from a newspaper. Roundly cursing the paper, he briefly recounted, in the manner of the Spring and Au tumn Chronicles,the full story behind his having an adoptive father-in-law and a fake doctorate. By purchasing a fake degree he was thumbing his nose at the world, he said; by accepting an adoptive relative, he was conforming to tradition, he argued. Then he added, "When I saw that item in the paper, first I thought of you, of how you would ridicule and despise me. I even got into a big row with my so-called father-in-law about the whole news release."

Her expression gradually changing, Miss Su said, "What for? Why nat urally all those insufferable, vulgar businessmen expect a return on their mon ey. You can't expect them to understand that true learning doesn't depend on a degree. Why quarrel with him? After all, this Mr. Chou is your elder and he does treat you well enough. He has the right to put the item in the paper. Anyway, who's going to notice it? Those who do will forget it the moment they turn their backs. You thumb your nose at the big things, yet you take the trivial things so seriously. This contradiction is hilarious!" Fang Hung-chien sincerely admired Miss Su for her eloquence. He re plied, "When you put it that way, I don't feel so guilty anymore. I should have come and told you everything earlier. You are so understanding! What you said about my getting hung up on trivialities is especially perceptive. The world's major issues can always be dealt with in one way or another; it's the minor issues that can't be treated carelessly. Take a corrupt official, for in stance. He would accept millions in bribes but would never steal a man's wallet. I suppose I am not consistent enough in my cynicism." Miss Su felt like saying, That's not true. He doesn't steal the wallet be cause it isn't worth stealing. If there were millions in the wallet and stealing it were as safe as taking bribes, he'd steal it too. But she kept her thoughts to herself, eyeing Hung-chien momentarily; then staring down at the designs on the rug, she said, "It's a good thing that cynicism of yours doesn't apply to everything. Otherwise your friends would always be afraid that while you were humoring them on the outside, you were laughing at them inwardly."

Hung-chien quickly went out of his way to assure her how much he valued friendship. In their conversation,she revealed that her father had al ready gone to Szechwan with the government,that her brother had gone to work in Hong Kong, that her mother, her sister-in-law, and she herself were the only ones at home in Shanghai, and that she was thinking of going to the interior. Fang Hung-chien said perhaps they could again be travel compan ions going to the interior. Then she mentioned she had a cousin who had finished her first two years of college at their almamater in Peking, and that since the university had moved to the interior because of the war, her cousin had quit school and stayed home for six months but was planning to resume her study again. It so happened that the cousin was at the Sus' that day, so Miss Su went in to get her to meet Hung-chien. They all could become travel companions in the future.Miss Su led out a cute little girl of about twenty and introduced her to Fang, "This is my cousin, T'ang Hsiao-fu." On Miss T'ang's charming, well-

proportioned, round face were two shallow dimples; one look at her fresh and natural complexion, which most girls would have had to spend time and money to imitate, was enough to make one drool and forget his thirst, as though her skin were a piece of delicious

fruit. Not especially large, her eyes were lively and gentle, making the big eyes of many women seem like the big talk of politicians-big and useless. A classics scholar, upon seeing her love ly teeth when she smiled, might wonder why both Chinese and Western traditional and modern poets would want to turn into the pin in a woman's hair, the belt around her waist,the mat on which she slept, or even the shoes and socks, that she wore, and not think of transforming themselves into her toothbrush. Her hair unwaved, her eyebrows unplucked, and her lips un adorned by lipstick, she appeared to allow nature to take its own course with regard to her looks and had no wish to amend it in any way. In short, she was one of those rarities of modern civilized society-a genuine girl.

Many city girls who put on all the precocious airs cannot be considered as girls; then there are just as many others who are confused, silly, and sexless, and they too don't deserve to be called women. Fang Hung-chien immediately wanted to impress her, while she called him "elder senior schoolmate," a respectful term of address. "That won't do," he protested. "When you call me 'senior,' I feel like a prehistoric relic. Why do you add the word 'elder'? It's my misfortune to have been born too early. Not being lucky enough to go to school at the same time you did is something I regret. If you call me 'senior' again, you're just deliberately reminding me that I'm old and out of date. That's too cruel."

Miss T'ang said, "Mr. Fang, you are too concerned with insignificant details. Forgive me. I'll first retract the word 'elder.'" At the same time Miss Su said lightheartedly, "Aren't you ashamed? Do you still want us to call you Little Fang like they did on the boat? Hsiao-fu, ignore him.If he can't accept the honor, then simply don't call him anything."Fang Hung-chien noticed that the trace of a smile lingered on Miss T'ang's face when she was not smiling, like the last few notes that float in the air after the music has ceased. Many women can smile just as sweetly, but their smile is only facial muscle calisthenics, as if a drill master were barking the order, "One!" and suddenly the whole face would be wreathed in smiles, then "Two!" and just as suddenly the smile would vanish, leaving a face as blank as the screen in a movie theater before the movie starts.Trying to make conversation, he asked what Miss T'ang's major at col lege was. Miss Su, on the other hand, wouldn't let Miss T'ang tell and insisted that guess.Fang Hung-chien said Miss T'ang's major was literature, which was wrong; he then said it was education, which was also wrong. When he found chemistry and physics were both wrong, he resorted to one of Chang Chi mm's English expressions: "Search me!Don't tell me it's mathematics. That would be too much!"

Miss T'ang then told him. It was actually quite a common subject-polit ical science.Miss Su said, "It's still too much. In the future she will be our ruler, a lady official."Fang Hung-chien said, "Women are natural political animals. Political tactics, such as saying yes and

meaning no, retreating in order to advance, are what they know from birth. For a woman to study political science is really developing the innate through the acquired; it is as superfluous as adding flowers to embroidery. In Europe when I attended Professor Ernest

Peyg mann's lectures, he said men have the capacity for creative thought and wom en for social activity.Thus, men's work in society should be turned over to women, so that men can seclude themselves at home to think at leisure, invent new science, and produce new art. I think that makes a lot of sense. Women don't need to study politics, but if present-day politicians want to succeed, they should all imitate women. In politics roles are being reversed." Miss Su said, "You're just purposely spouting weird ideas. You like that sort of thing."Fang Hung-chien said, "Miss T'ang, your cousin really doesn't appreciate the respect I'm showing her. I speak of women participating in government, yet she turns around and laughs at me for purposely spouting weird ideas! You be the judge as to who's right. As the old saying goes, 'The house must first be put in order before the kingdom can be ruled and the country paci fied.'How many men, may I ask, can take care of domestic chores? They rely on women to manage the house, yet they go around boasting about how great men will run the country and bring peace. If they can't be bothered with trivial little domestic chores, then it's just like building a house by first positioning a roof in midair. There are several advantages in handing over the state and society completely to women. At least it would reduce the chances of war. Maybe diplomacy would become more complicated and there would be more secret treaties,but women's biological limitation would make them shun war. And even if a war started, since women aren't as mechanically minded as men, they would probably use simple weapons and apply basic military maneuvers such as pulling out the hair, scratching the face, and pinching the body. In such cases damage would be insignificant. At any rate, the new women today have already balked at raising a lot of children. By that time they'll be so busy managing the affairs of the state that they'll have even less time to procreate.With the population down, wars probably won't even occur."

Miss T'ang sensed that Fang Hung-chien was saying all that to attract her attention. Laughing to herself,she said, "I can't tell whether Mr. Fang is insulting politics or women. At the least, it's not complimentary."Miss Su said, "Oh, great, you spend all day beating around the bush try ing to flatter her and she not only doesn't appreciate it, she doesn't even understand it. I suggest you save your breath.""It's not that I don't appreciate what he said," said Miss T'ang. "I am truly grateful that Mr. Fang is willing to show off his eloquence. If I were studying mathematics, I bet he would have some other viewpoints and say that women are natural calculating animals."Miss Su said, "Maybe he would say that if someone like you wanted to study mathematics, he'd stop hating mathematics from then on. Anyway, no matter how you put it or how ridiculous the arguments get, it's all just talk. I never knew he had such a glib tongue. I guess I found that out on the boat returning home.

When we were classmates in college, his face would turn scarlet whenever he saw us co-eds from a distance and get redder the closer he came. It was so red that we'd get hot and uncomfortable all over just looking at his face. We used to call him 'The Thermometer'

behind his back since his facial coloring indicated his relative distance from girls. It was so much fun.I never would have thought that once he'd gone abroad he'd get so thick- skinned and brazen-faced. Maybe hegot his training from running around with girl friends like Miss Pao.""What rubbish!" said Hung-chien nervously. "What's the point of bring ing all that up? You co-eds are really something! You act serious in a person's presence, but as soon as his back is turned, you tear him apart. You really have no sense of decency!"When Miss Su saw how distressed he had become, her displeasure at see ing him show off in front of Miss T'ang completely vanished. She said with a smile, "Look how upset you are! You yourself are probably guilty of fancy talk in front of people while belittling them behind their backs."At that moment a tall, thirtyish, imposing-looking man walked in.




While Miss T'ang greeted him as "Mr. Chao," Miss Su said,"Oh, good, you're here.I'll introduce you: Fang Hung-chien, Chao Hsin-mei."Chao Hsin-mei shook hands with Fang Hung-chien,superciliously glanc ing at him from head to toe as if Hung-chien were a page from a large-type kindergarten reader to be glossed over at one glance. He asked Miss Su, "Didn't you come home with him on the boat?"Hung-chien was dumbfounded. How did this Chao fellow know who he was? Then it suddenly occurred to him that Chao might have seen the item in the Shanghai paper,and the thought made him feel uncomfortable. Chao Hsin-mei looked smug to begin with, and after hearing Miss Su confirm that I Hung-chien indeed came home with her on the same ship, he acted as if Hung-chien had turned into thin air and ignored Hung-chien completely. If Miss Su hadn't bothered to speak to him, Hung-chien would really have felt that he had thinned into nothingness, like a phantom of early dawn upon the cock's crowing or the Taoist truth, which can be "looked at but not seen, expounded but not grasped."Miss Su explained to Hung-chien that Chao Hsin-mei was a family friend, a returned student from the United States, a former section chief of the for eign office who had not gone with the office to the interior because of illness. She added that he was at the moment a political editor at the Sino-American News Agency. She did not, however, recite Hung-chien's background for Chao Hsin-mei, as if Chao already knew all about it without being told.

With a pipe in his mouth, Chao Hsin-mei lounged on the sofa; looking at the ceiling light, he asked, "Where do you work, Mr.Fang?" Somewhat annoyed by the question, Fang Hung-chien felt he must an swer it. And since the "Golden Touch Bank" didn't sound impressive, he answered vaguely, "For the time being I'm working at a small bank."Admiring the smoke ring he had blown, Chao Hsin-mei said, "A great talent gone to waste. Such a pity! Such a pity! What did you study abroad,Mr. Fang?" "I didn't study anything," said Hung-chien crossly.Miss Su said, "Hung-chien, you studied philosophy, didn't you?" Chortling, Chao Hsin-mei said, "In the eyes of those of us engaged in real work, studying philosophy and not studying anything amount to one and the same.""Then you'd better find an eye doctor right away and have your eyes examined. Eyes that see things like that must have something wrong with them," said Fang Hung-chien, purposely guffawing to cover up his ill feelings.Chao Hsin-mei, quite pleased with the wisecrack he had made a moment ago, was for the moment unable to say anything in reply and puffed away furiously on his pipe. On the other hand, Miss Su tried hard not to laugh, though she was a little ill at ease. Miss T'ang, meanwhile,sat with a distant, aloof smile on her face, as if she were watching a fight from the clouds. It suddenly dawned on Hung-chien that Chao's rudeness toward him had stemmed from jealousy, for Chao had obviously taken him as his love rival. All of a sudden, Miss Su began calling Fang Hung-chien Hung-chien instead of Mr. Fang, as though she wanted Chao Hsin-mei to know her intimacy with Fang. Having two men battle over her must be a woman's proudest moment, Fang reflected.Well, why should make myself Chao's enemy for nothing. Let Chao go ahead and love Miss Sul he decided. Unaware of Fang Hung-chien's intention, Miss Su thoroughly enjoyed the battle of two men over her, but she was worried that the exchange might get too fierce and in a moment separate the victor from the vanquished, leav ing only one of the two as the sole survivor and terminating all the excitement around her. She was even more worried that the vanquished might be Fang Hung-chien. She had tried to use Chao

Hsin-mei to rouse Fang Hung-chien's courage, but perhaps Fang Hung-chien, like the war news in the newspapers for the last few days, had been "maintaining the present strength through strategic retreats."

Chao Hsin-mei's and Su Wen-Wan's fathers had been colleagues and had rented a house in Peking together during the early years of the Republic. Hsin-mei and Miss Su had been friends since childhood. When Mrs. Chao was pregnant with Hsin-mei, everyone thought she would have twins. By the time he was four or five, he was as tall as a seven- or eight-year-old, so that whenever the servant took him on a trolley car, the servant would always have to argue with the conductor over the "no fare required for children un der five"rule. Though Hsin-mei's body was huge, his head,resembling a large turnip with nothing in it, was not.In grade school he was the butt of his classmates'jokes; for with such a large target, no shot could ever miss the mark. With Miss Su and her brother and sister, he used to play "cops and robbers." The two girls, Miss Su and her now married older sister, could not run very fast, so when it came their turn to play the "robber," they insisted on being the "cop." When Miss Su's elder brother played the robber, he re fused to be caught. Hsin-mei was the only one who would be a good little robber and take a beating. When they played Little Red Riding Hood, he was always the wolf,and when he ate up Miss Su or her sister, he would pick them up and make a strange expression by rounding his eyes and opening his mouth wide. In the part where the woodcutter kills the wolf and cuts open the wolf's stomach, Miss Su's brother pressed him into the mud and tried to dig at his stomach. Once Miss Su's brother did really cut through his clothes with scissors. While Hsin-mei was amiable by nature, it didn't follow that he therefore must have a poor mind. His father believed in physiognomy, so when he was thirteen or fourteen, his father took him to see a famous woman physiog nomist who praised him for his "fire planet square, earth shape thick, wood sound high, cow's eyes, lion's nose, chessboard piece's ear, and mouth shaped like the character for 'four.' "And she said his physiognomy fit the description of a high official according to her Hemp Robe fortunetelling book.Moreover, she predicted that he would achieve great fame and high political status surpassing that of his father. From then on Hsin-mei considered himself a statesman.When Hsin-mei was little, he had a secret crush on Miss Su. One year when Miss Su was critically ill, he overheard his father say, "Wen-wan is sure to recover.She is destined to be an official's wife and has twenty-five years of a 'helpmate's fortune.'" He henceforth concluded that she would be his wife since the woman physiognomist had predicted he would be an official. When Miss Su returned from abroad, he thought he would renew their childhood friendship and propose to her at an appropriate time. But to his surprise, when Miss Su first came home, every other word she said was Fang Hung-chien, a name which she abruptly dropped after the fifth day. The reason was that she had discovered an old issue of a Shanghai newspaper and her sharp eyes had noticed an item in it that others had overlooked.It must be said that her long years of friendship with Hsin-mei did not add up to love, just as in winter no one can add today's temperature to yesterday's to come up with a warm spring day for tomorrow. It must also be said that Hsin-mei excelled in making speeches in English; his resonant and fluent American speech,resembling the roll of thunder in the sky, when oiled and waxed, would slip halfway through the sky. Speeches, however, are delivered from a podium, with the speaker looking down at his audience. On the other hand, a marriage proposal has to be made by the person stooping down to half his height and earnestly entreating the other with an uplifted face. And since Miss Su was not his audience, he never had a chance to exercise his talent.Though Chao Hsin-mei was jealous of Fang Hung-chien,it was not an it's-either-you-or-me type of enmity.His haughty rudeness was an imitation of Mussolini's and Hitler's attitude toward representatives of small nations during negotiations. He thought he could overwhelm and scare off Hung chien with the forbidding mannerism of Mussolini or Hitler. But when he encountered a retort from Hung-chien, he could neither pound the table nor roar like the Italian ruler or raise a fist in a shout of authority like the German leader. Fortunately he knew the diplomat's secret of using a cigarette to create a smoke screen if he found himself temporarily at a loss for vords. When Miss Su came to his rescue and asked him about the var, he proceeded to

recite from memory the editorial he had just written. Continuing to ignore Fang Hung-chien, he kept up his guard against Fang; his attitude resembled that of a person toward germs when inquiring after the health of someone with a contagious disease.

Hung-chien was not interested in Hsin-mei's talk and thought primarily of striking up a conversation with Miss T'ang, but Miss T'ang was listening to Hsin-mei with rapt attention. He prepared to wait for Miss T'ang to leave, then he would get up himself and ask her for her address when they left to gether. Hsin-mei finished analyzing the current war situation, looked at his watch and said, "It's now almost five o'clock. I'll run to the newspaper office for a while and then come take you to dinner at the 0 Mei-ch'un.If you want Szechwanese food, that's the best Szechwan restaurant. The waiters all know me there. Miss T'ang,you must join us; Mr. Fang, if you are in the mood,why not come join the fun? I'd be glad to have you." Before Miss Su could answer, Miss T'ang and Fang Hung-chien both said it was late and they had to go home. They declined the invitation but thanked Hsin-mei, nonetheless. Miss Su said, "Hung-chien, stay a while. There's something I want to talk to you about. Hsin-mei, my mother and I have a social engagement today, so let's eat at the restaurant some other day, all right? Tomorrow afternoon at four-thirty, all of you are invited to come here and have tea with Mr. and Mrs.Shen, who've just returned from abroad. We can have a good chat." When Chao Hsin-mei saw Miss Su detain Fang Hung-chien,he left in a huff. Fang Hung-chien rose and intended to shake hands with him but had to sit down again.

"That Chao Hsin-mei is strange. He acts as if I had offended him in some way. He hates me so much that it shows on his face and in his speech." "Don't you hate him too?" asked Miss T'ang with a sly smile. Miss Su blushed and scolded her, "You're awful." When Fang Hung-chien heard Miss Su's remark, he dared not deny hating Chao Hsin-mei but merely said, "Miss Su, thanks for inviting me to tea, but I don't think I will be coming." Before Miss Su could open her mouth, Miss T'ang said,"You can't do that? It's all right for the audience not to show up,but you're one of the prin cipal actors. How can you not come?" Miss Su said, "Hsiao-fu! If you utter any more nonsense, I'm not going

to pay any attention to you. Both of you must come tomorrow!" Miss T'ang left in Miss Su's car. Hung-chien, face to face with Miss Su, tried his best to say something that would dilute or clear the thick and stifling atmosphere of intimacy. "Your cousin has a sharp tongue. She seems quite intelligent too." "That girl is very capable for her age. She has a slew of boy friends that she fools around with!" Hung-chien's disappointed look sent a twinge of jealousy through Miss Su's heart. "Don't think she's naive. She is full of schemes! I always thought that a girl just entering college who is already involved in love affairs can't have much of a future. I mean, how can someone who runs around with boys and leads a wild mixed-up life still have time for study? Don't you remember our classmates, Huang Pi and Chiang Meng-t'i?Who knows what's become of them now?"Fang Hung-chien quickly said he remembered them. "You were quite popuiar yourself in those days, but you always looked so arrogant. We could only admire you from a distance. I never dreamed that we would be such good friends today."With that Miss Su felt better. Then she brought up some old school matters; and when Hung-chien saw she really had nothing important to say, he said, "I'd better be going. This evening you still have to go out with your mother on a social engagement."Miss Su said, "I don't have any engagement. That was just an excuse, because Hsin-mei was so rude to you. I don't want to make him any more arrogant."Hung-chien said nervously, "You're too kind to me."Miss Su glanced at him; then lowering her head she said, "Sometimes I really shouldn't be so kind to you." The tender words he was supposed to say at that point squirmed in the air and rushed to the tip of his tongue to be spoken. He didn't want to say them, yet he couldn't remain silent. As he saw Miss Su's hand resting on the edge of the sofa, he reached out and patted the back of her hand. She drew back her hand and said softly, "You go now. Come a little early tomorrow afternoon." She walked him to the door of the living room. As he crossed the threshold, she called,"Hung-chien." He turned around and asked what was the matter. She said, "Nothing. I was just watch ing you.Why did you dash forward without even turning your head? Ha, ha, I have become such an unreasonable woman. I wanted you to grow eyes at the back of your head. Come early tomorrow." When he left her, Fang thought he had become a part of spring, at one with it in spirit and no longer the outsider of two hours ago. As he walked along, his body felt so light that it seemed the ground was floating upward. Just two small matters bothered him.

First, he should never have touched Miss Su's hand; he should have pretended he didn't understand what she meant. Being too softhearted, he had often catered to women without intending to, because he didn't want to offend them. In the future he'd just have to talk and act more decisively and not let things get serious. Second, Miss T'ang had many boy friends and might already be in love with someone. So vexed by this fact, he struck his cane violently against a roadside tree and decided he'd better quash all hope from the very start. What a disgrace it would be if he were to be jilted by a teen-age girl! Disconsolately, he hopped on a trolley car and saw a young couple sitting nearby whispering tender words to each other. On the boy's lap was a pile of high school textbooks; the girl's book covers were all decorated with pictures of movie stars. Though she was no more than sixteen or seventeen, her face was made up like a mask kneaded out of gobs of rouge and powder. Shanghai is certainly avant-garde culturally. The phenomenon of high school girls painting and plastering their faces to attract men is rare even abroad, he reflected. But this girl's face was so obviously faked, for no one would pos sibly believe that powdered wafer cake pasted on her face could be her own. It suddenly occurred to Fang that Miss T'ang did not use any makeup. A girl who works hard at making up either has a boy friend already and has discov ered a new interest or value in her body, or else she's looking for a boy friend and is hanging out a colorful eye-catching signboard to attract a man's atten tion.Since Miss T'ang dresses plainly, she obviously doesn't have a man in her life, he concluded. His conclusion had such a profound psychological basis and had followed such precise logical reasoning that he couldn't sit still in his seat.When the trolley car reached his stop, he rushed ahead and jumped off without waiting for the trolley car to come to a stop, nearly falling down as he did supporting himself with his cane and pushing against a utility pole with his left hand, he managed to check his downward momen tum. He broke out in a cold sweat from the scare, and a layer of skin was scraped from his left palm. He was also rebuked by the trolley car attendant. When he reached home he applied some tincture of merthiolate to his palm,blaming Miss T'ang for his mishap and promising to get even with her later. Like foam, a smile floated up from his heart to his face, and the pain was immediately forgotten. It didn't occur to him, however,that the scrape might have been punishment for his having put his hand on top of Miss Su's a while ago.The next day when he arrived at the Sus, Miss T'ang was already there. Before he had sat down, Chao Hsin-mei came. Chao greeted him and then said, "Mr. Fang, you left late yesterday and came early today. This must be a good habit you developed in the banking business. Your diligence is commendable. Congratulations.""Thank you, thank you." Fang Hung-chien had thought of saying that Hsin-mei's early departure and late arrival must be in the bureaucratic tradi tion of a yamen mandarin,9 but he changed his mind and kept the thought to himself. He even smiled pleasantly at Hsin-mei. Hsin-mei, on the other hand, had not expected him to be so meek and was startled to find that he had struck at thin air. Meanwhile, Miss T'ang looked surprised and so did Miss Su at the lack of drama. However, Miss Su assumed that Fang's meekness was the mag nanimity usually demonstrated by the victor, and since Hung-chien knew she loved him, Hung-chien felt no need to quarrel with Hsin-mei.Mr. and Mrs. Shen arrived. While introductions were made and pleas antries exchanged, Chao Hsin-mei picked the sofa nearest Miss Su and sat down. The Shens sat together on a long sofa, and Miss T'ang sat on an embroidered couch between the Shens and Miss Su. Next to Mrs. Shen, Hung chien sat by himself. He had no sooner seated himself than he regretted it immensely,for Mrs. Shen had an odor about her for which there is an elegant expression in classical Chinese as well as an idiom in Latin, both using the goat as a comparison: yun-ti and olet hircum (smelling like a goat). Mingled with the scent of face powder and the fragrance of flowers, this smell was so strong that it made Fang Hung-chien queasy, yet he was too polite to smoke a cig arette to dispel the stench. Here was a woman just returned from France all right, bringing back to China a whole "symphony of foul odors" from the Paris marketplace. Fang never ran into her while in Paris, and now of all times there was no escape from her; the explanation seemed to be that Paris was big while the world was small.Mrs. Shen was rather odd-looking and very heavily made up; the two black bags under her eyes were like round canteen bottles, filled probably with hot, passionate tears; the thick lipstick had been washed into her mouth and colored the yellowish, rough ridges of her teeth red, making her teeth look like hemorrhoids dripping with blood or the clues to a bloody murder in a detective yarn. Her speech was full of French exclamations such as "Tiens!" and "la la!" as she squirmed her body around into various seduc tive

poses. Each twist of the body let off a fresh wave of the smell. Hung chien wished he could have told her that it was quite enough if she'd just talk with her mouth and be careful not to twist herself in two.Mr. Shen's lower lip was thick and drooping. One could tell at a glance that he was a man who spoke much and quickly as though he had diarrhea of the mouth. He was describing how he had propagandized the war to the French and how he had won the sympathy of quite a few people for China's cause. "After the withdrawal from Nanking,'they all said China was fin ished. I said to them, 'During the war in Europe, didn't your government also move the capital out of Paris? Yet you were the final victors!' They had noth ing to say to that, no sir, not a thing."Hung-chien was thinking, Governments may be able to move their capitals, but can't change my seat.As though offering an expert's opinion, Chao Hsin-mei observed, "An excellent answer! Why don't you write an article about it?""Wei-lei [Mrs. Shenil put those remarks of mine in the foreign corre spondence column in a Shanghai paper.

Didn't you see it, Mr. Chao?" asked Mr. Shen with a touch of disappointment.Mrs. Shen twisted around and gestured at her husband, saying with a coquettish smile, "Why bring up that thing of mine? Who'd ever have no ticed it?"Hsin-mei said quickly, "Yes, I did see it. I was very much impressed. Now I remember, it had the part about relocating the capital.""I didn't see it," Hung-chien interrupted. "What was it called?"Hsin-mei said, "You philosophers study timeless questions, so naturally you don't read newspapers. It was called-uh-it's on the tip of my tongue. Why can't I think of it just now?" He had never read the article in the first place but couldn't pass up the chance to humiliate Hung-chien.

Miss Su said, "You can't blame him. He probably was in the country at the time the article appeared, and he might not have seen any newspapers. Right, Hung-chien? The title is quite easy to remember: 'Some Letters to My Sisters in the Motherland.' At the top was a

headline in large type which went something like this,'A Verdant Island of Europe in the Azure Blood of Asia.' Mrs. Shen, is my memory correct?""Oh, that's right," said Hsin-mei, slapping his own thigh. " 'Some Letters to My Sisters in the Motherland' and 'A Verdant Island of Europe in the Azure Blood of Asia.' Beautiful titles. What a good memory you have, Wen wan!"Mrs. Shen said, "Gee, you even remember that silly thing of mine. No wonder all the people who know you say you are a genius."Miss Su said, "If it is something good, you don't have to remember it. It'll leave a deep impression by itself."Miss T'ang said to Hung-chien, "Mrs. Shen wrote her article for us women to read. You're one of the brothers in the motherland,' and you can be forgiven for not having noticed it."Since Mrs. Shen was not young and since her letter was not addressed to her "nieces and grandnieces in the motherland," Miss T'ang, by reading it, had been elevated to the status of Mrs. Shen's sister.To make amends for his forgetfulness, Hsin-mei flattered Mrs. Shen, say ing that the Sino-American News Agency was going to publish a women's magazine and asking for her help. The Shens grew even more friendly to ward Hsin-mei.The servant drew the curtain separating the dining room from the living room, and Miss Su invited everyone to step inside for refreshments. Hung chien felt like a criminal having been granted a pardon.When he finished eating, he returned to the living room and quickly sat next to Miss T'ang.




Mrs. Shen and Chao Hsin-mei were so deeply engrossed in their conversation that they could not be separated; since he had a stuffy nose and a cold Hsinmei didn't mind being close to Mrs. Shen. Meanwhile,Mr. Shen was dropping hints to Miss Su with the intention of having Uncle Sut' find him a position: in Hong Kong. On the other hand, Fang Hung-chien decided his luck that day had turned for the better,as in the expression "After the bitter comes the sweet," and he asked Miss T'ang in a whisper, "You didn't eat anything just now, as if you didn't feel well. Are you better now?""I ate quite a bit," said Miss T'ang. "There is nothing wrong with me.""I'm not the host; you needn't be polite with me. I clearly saw you drink, a mouthful of soup, then frown and play with the spoon without eating any thing else." "What's so interesting about watching someone eat? Is it polite to keep staring at someone? I didn't like you watching me eat, so I didn't eat. That's what you did to me-Ha, ha, Mr. Fang. don't take it seriously. I really didn't know you were watching others eat. Tell me, when you were sitting down' next to Mrs. Shen, why did you turn your face away and hold your mouth tightly shut as if under torture?"

"So the same thing happened to you!" Fang Hung-chien and Miss T'ang laughed intimately, having now become comrades in adversity. Miss T'ang said, "Mr. Fang, I'm a little disappointed today." "Disappointed? What were you hoping for? Wasn't that smell strong enough for you?" "It's not that. I thought for sure that there'd be a lot of fireworks between you and Chao Hsin-mei. Who would have thought there'd be nothing." "I'm sorry that there wasn't any nice drama for you to watch. Chao Hsin-mei misunderstands my relationship with your cousin. Maybe you are under the same misunderstanding. I just let him be the provocateur today, while I sit back without returning his salvos to let him know I have nothing against him." "Is that true? Wouldn't a mere indication from my cousin clear up the misunderstanding?" "Maybe your cousin has her own ideas. Dispatching a general on a mission isn't as effective as challenging him to do it as a mission impossible.There has to be a major adversary before Mr. Chao's ability can come to the fore. Too bad this tired old soldier can't live up to the fight and for that matter isn't interested in the fighting."

"Why not be a volunteer?" "No, it'd be like dragging in a conscript." As he said this, Fang Hung chien regretted having spoken so flippantly, since there was no guarantee that Miss T'ang wouldn't pass all this on to Miss Su. "But often the underdog gets more sympathy from the bystanders."ealizing that this remark could be misconstrued, Miss T'ang blushed. "I mean, my cousin might be aiding the smaller, weaker people."Hung-Chien was so overjoyed at hearing this that his heart skipped a beat. "That's her business. Miss T'ang, I'd like to invite you and your cousin for dinner tomorrow at the Mei-chun. May I have the honor?"Miss T'ang hesitated and before she could answer,Hung-chien went on, "I know it's very presumptuous of me. Your cousin told me you have many friends. Though I am unworthy, I'd like very much to be included among them.""I don't have any friends. My cousin was talking nonsense. What did she say to you?""Oh, nothing in particular. Just that you are very good at socializing and know quite a few people.""That's ridiculous. I am just an ignorant country girl!""You're being polite. Please come tomorrow. I wanted to go to that res taurant but didn't have a good excuse. I'm using you two as a pretext so I can enjoy myself. Please oblige me by accepting the invitation."

Miss T'ang said with a smile, "Mr. Fang, there's something behind every thing you say. If that's the way it is, I'll certainly come. What time tomorrow evening?" Hung-chien told her the time. Relaxed and happy, he heard Mrs. Shen speak in her sonorous voice, "The time I attended the World Conference of Women, I observed widespread trend. Women all over the world are now going in the direction of men." Hung-chien was both startled and amused, thinking, h's been like that since ancient times. Mrs. Shen shouldn't have to attend a women's conference now to find that out.Meanwhile, Mrs. Shen continued, "All the occupations that men have held, such as members of parliament,lawyers, journalists, airplane pilots, women can hold and perform just as well as men. A Yugoslav woman sociologist gave a lecture at the con ference in which she said that with the exception of women who were willing to be virtuous wives and mothers, career women could be called 'the third sex.' Though the women's liberation movement is a recent development, already there have been such outstanding achievements. I would venture to say that in the near future the distinction between the sexes will become an his toric term."Chao Hsin-mei said, "You're right, Mrs. Shen. Women today really are capable! Wen-wan, take Miss Ilsu Pao-ch'iung, for instance. Do you know her, Mrs. Shen? She helps her father manage a dairy farm and handles major and minor chores herself. Outwardly she looks so dainty and refined. You could never tell what she does."

Hung-chien said something to Miss T'ang, whereupon Miss T'ang burst out laughing. Miss Su said, "Pao-ch'iung is more clever than her father and is actually the behind-the-scenes manager."Disgusted by Hung-chien's closeness to Miss T'ang, she asked, "Hsiao-fu, what's so funny?"Miss T'ang just shook her head and laughed.Miss Su then said, "Hung-chien, if there's a joke let us hear it."Hung-chien too shook his head and said nothing, making it even more apparent that he and Miss T'ang were sharing a mutual secret. Miss Su became quite vexed,and Chao Hsin-mei, putting on his most supercilious expression, said, "Maybe the great philosopher Fang was expounding some optimistic philosophy of life, which made Miss T'ang so happy. Right, Miss T'ang?"Ignoring Hsin-mei, Fang Hung-chien said to Miss Su, "I heard Mr. Chao say he couldn't tell by looking at Miss Hsu that she runs a dairy farm. Maybe Mr. Chao thinks Miss Hsu ought to grow two horns on her head so that people could tell who she is at one glance.Otherwise, you could never tell what she does, no matter what she looks like."

Chao Hsin-mei said, "That makes no sense. If she grew horns on her head and turned into a cow herself, how would that show she's a dairy manager?" While he was speaking, he looked around the room and roared with laughter, feeling he had trounced Fang Hung-chien again. Determined not to be the first one to leave, he entrenched himself deeper into the sofa.Having achieved his aim, Fang Hung-chien did not care to stay any longer and wanted to leave while there were still enough people present to make his parting from Miss Su a little easier. Since he hadn't been near her that day, Miss Su made a point to see him to the hallway. Her reasoning was similar to warming one's hands in front of the stove before stepping outside on a cold day.Hung-chien said, "Miss Su, I didn't have a chance to talk with you much today. Are you free tomorrow evening? I'd like to invite you to dinner at the Mei-chun. I don't care to have Chao Hsin-mei invite me. I just wish I were an old customer. I probably can't order the dishes as well as he can."The fact that Fang was still at odds with Chao Hsin-mei gave Miss Su an uplift in spirit. She said with a smile, "Fine. Just the two of us, then?" As soon as she said this, she felt a little embarrassed,having realized that the ques tion was unnecessary.Fang Hung-chien said hesitatingly, "No, your cousin is also coming.""Oh, she is. Have you invited her?""Yes, I did. She promised to come-to accompany you.""All right then, goodbye."Miss Su's parting manner dampened Fang Hung-chien's high spirits. He felt the situation between him and the two women was too difficult to handle. and prayed that he would be able to handle it smoothly and cleanly and let Miss Su's affections toward him die a painless death. He heaved a sigh for Miss Su. Though he didn't love her, he had become softhearted because of her. It's just too unfair! She is too scheming. She shouldn't be so easily hurt and she should bear the situation without complaint. Why does love have to lower one's mental resistance and make one so weak that one can be easily manip ulated? if God really loved man, He would never be the master of man, he thought. If his thoughts had been made known to Chao Hsin-mei, Fang Hung-chien would have had to listen to Hsin-mei's abuse about how "the philosopher is up to tricks."That night Fang's sleep was fitful, like rice-flour noodles without elastic ity or stretchability. His joy burst from his dreams and woke him four or five times.Each time he awoke, he seemed to see T'ang Hsiao-fu's face and to hear her voice. Her every word and gesture during the day he tried to impress upon his heart.Moments later he would drift to sleep only to awake with a start a moment later, feeling his joy had been robbed by sleep. Once more he would mentally review the day's happiness. When he finally awoke and got up, he found the sky dull and grey. He had not chosen a nice day for a dinner party, he thought, and wished he could have pressed blotting paper against the pale rain clouds to dry them up.Monday was usually the busiest day of the week at the bank. Fang wouldn't be able to leave the office until after six o'clock in the evening. Since he wouldn't have time to come home and change before going to the restaurant, he got dressed in the morning before leaving for work. Imagining he were Miss T'ang, he judged his appearance in the mirror through her eyes.In less than a year since his return from abroad, he had acquired more wrinkles on his forehead, and since he hadn't slept well the night before, his complexion and eyes were dull and lusterless. His acquisition of a new love two days ago had made him meticulously aware of every last blemish in his appearance in the manner of a poor man with only one dress suit who knows its every spot and patch. Actually, to other people, his complexion looked the same as ever, but he found himself particularly ugly that day. Thinking that the color of his necktie made his sallow complexion greenish, he changed neckties three times before going down for breakfast.

As usual, Mr. Chou was still in bed, so Fang ate with Mrs. Chou and Hsiao-ch'eng. As Fang was still eating breakfast, the telephone outside his bedroom upstairs rang. At home, he seldom had a moment's peace and quiet, and when irritated by the phone, he would often think his fianc6e's life had been snatched away by that "soul-snatching bell" of the telephone. The maid servant came down to say, "Telephone, Mr. Fang. It's someone named Su, a woman." As she spoke, her eyes passed the message to Mrs. Chou and Hsiao ch'eng, whose eyes were so busy that they resembled ripples in a spring pond in the breeze. Hung-chien had never expected Miss Su to call, and he was sure Mrs. Chou would quiz him about the call. As he bounded up the stairs to an swer the phone, he heard Hsiao-ch'eng remark in a loud voice, "I bet it's Su Wen-wan." The other day in his history class Hsiao-ch'eng had incorrectly identified the family name of the Manchu rulers Ai-hsin Chiao-1o13 as Ch'in-ai Pao-lo (Dear Paul); for his mistake he had received a severe reprimand from his teacher, and the reprimand had so infuriated him that he was playing hooky and staying home that day. On the other hand, after seeing Miss Su's name once, he had it memorized. As Hung-chien picked up the receiver, he felt the entire Chou family were listening in with bated breath. "Miss Su?" he said softly. "This is Hung chien." "Hung-chien, I thought you'd still be home so I called you up. I'm not feeling well today, so I won't be going to the  Mei-chun this evening. I'm very sorry.You mustn't get mad at me.""Is Miss T'ang going?" As soon as the words came out of his mouth, he regretted having said them.Incisively, she said, "I have no idea." Then in a distant tone, she went on, "Of course, she will be." "What's wrong with you? Is it serious?" He knew his inquiries were already too late. "It's nothing. I just feel too tired to go out." The implication was ob vious."Well, I am relieved to hear that. Take good care of yourself. I'll cer tainly see you tomorrow. What do you like to eat?""Thank you. I don't want anything." Pause. "Well,then, I will see you tomorrow."After Miss Su hung up, it occurred to Hung-chien that as a matter of courtesy he should cancel and schedule the dinner for another day. Should he call Miss Su and ask her to tell Miss T'ang about the postponement? But he really didn't want to. Just as he was pondering over the matter, Hsiao ch'eng came running and jumping along, yelling at the top of his lungs all the way,"Dear Miss Su, have you come down with lovesickness?

What do you love to eat? I love baked sesame buns,fried puffs, five-spice beans, dried bean- curd strips, dried mucus, stinky salt-preserved fish."With a yelp, Hung-chien grabbed Hsiao-ch'eng, cutting short his pro posed menu and frightening him into begging for mercy. Hung-chien gave him a light pat and dismissed him. He then went downstairs to finish his breakfast. As expected, Mrs. Chou was waiting to query him in detail. "Don't forget, you must make me your adopted mother," she said."I'm waiting for you to get an adopted daughter. The more daughters you get, the wider is the selection for me. This Miss Su is only an old class-. mate. Nothing serious between us, so don't worry," Hung-chien quickly an swered.The sky gradually cleared up, but because of the phone call that morn ing Hung-chien's high spirits had been considerably dampened. He felt un worthy of such a beautiful day as he had planned it, and he felt as if a tent were about to collapse on him. Miss Su was up to mischief, no doubt. And if she didn't come, so much the better as that would leave just Miss T'ang and himself. But without a third person, would Miss T'ang come? he wondered. He hadn't asked Miss T'ang for her address and telephone number the day before, so he couldn't find out if Miss T'ang knew about Miss Su's not coming to the party. Miss Su would surely let Miss T'ang know. What if Miss T'ang had asked Miss Su to tell him that she wasn't coming either. That would be disastrous! At the bank he assisted Chief-secretary Wang with letter writing. His mind preoccupied with his own affairs, he made a few errors in the drafts of letters he wrote. Wang corrected them for him, chuckled, and said, "Brother Hung chien,i4 the eyes of this old clerk are still pretty sharp."By six o'clock when he still hadn't received any word from Miss T'ang, he began to get nervous but didn't dare call Miss Su to ask about Miss T'ang. Around seven, he briskly walked over to the Mei-chun and engaged a pri vate dining room, preparing to wait for Miss T'ang until eight-thirty. If by that time she still hadn't come, then he would have to eat alone.

Waiting patiently and never raising his hopes too high, he lit a cigarette and then snuffed it out. The evening was too chilly for him to open the windows,yet he was afraid the odor of smoke might fill the room and offend Miss T'ang. He opened the book he had brought to the bank to read during his spare time but not a single sentence made any sense. When he heard the waiter greeting a customer outside, his heart fluttered. The dinner was for seven-thirty, and it was just seven-forty-five by his watch. She couldn't possibly be coming this early, but suddenly the curtain was drawn, the waiter stood aside and in came Miss T'ang. In his heart what Hung-chien felt was gratitude, not joy. After greeting her, he said, "I am sorry Miss Su couldn't make it today.""I know. I almost didn't make it myself. I tried calling you but couldn't get through.""Then I'm grateful to the telephone company. I hope their business pros pers and their lines get so busy that telephone calls to make last minute changes of plan won't get through. Did you call the bank?""No, I called your house. This is what happened. Early this morning my cousin called me saying she couldn't come to dinner and had already informed you. I said I wouldn't go either, in that case. She wanted me to tell you my self and gave me your phone number. I dialed and asked, 'Is this the Fangs' residence?' A woman answered in your native dialect-I couldn't imitate the way she said it-'This is the Chous' residence.



Are you Miss Su? You want to speak to Fang Hung-chien. Hung chien's not in. I'll have him call you when he gets back. Miss Su, you must come visit sometime when you're free. Hung-chien often says how pretty and talented you are,' and she went on and on in the same breath. I meant to explain, but I couldn't get in a word. I thought all that rice gruel was being. poured down the wrong ear,so I very rudely hung up on her. Who was that?""That's my relative, Mrs. Chou, the wife of the general manager of the bank where I work. Your cousin

had called just before I left the house, so Mrs. Chou thought the call was from her again."

"Oh, no! What a mess. Mrs. Chou surely blames my cousin for being so rude. I hadn't hung up for more than five minutes when my cousin called again to ask whether I'd talked to you. I said you weren't home, and then she gave me your office number. I thought you were probably on the way there, so I might as well wait a while before calling. Then of all things, my cousin called me fifteen minutes later for the third time. I was getting a little mad. When she found out I hadn't yet got in touch with you, she told me to hurry and call you before you'd reserved a table. I said if he's reserved a table then I will go. What difference would it make? She said that wouldn't be good and invited me to her house for dinner. I replied that I wasn't feeling well either and wasn't going anywhere. Later I thought my cousin was just too silly. I decided to accept your invitation and not make any call."Hung-chien said, "Miss T'ang, today you haven't just honored me with your presence, you've been a real savior. As host I am more than grateful. I'll have to invite you out many more times. If none of the invited guests shows up, it means the death sentence for the host as far as his social life is con cerned. Today was a close call!"

Hung-chien ordered food enough for five or six people. Miss T'ang asked if there would be any other guests,for how could two people eat so much. He said it really wasn't that much, prompting her to remark, "You noticed I didn't have any refreshments yesterday, so now you're testing to see if I'll eat anything, aren't you?"He knew she wasn't one of those dainty women who will screw their mouth up to the size of the tip of an eyedropper at a dinner party, so he re plied, "This is the first time I've been to this restaurant and I am not sure which dishes I like best. If I order a few extra, then I'll have a wider choice. If this one isn't any good, then there's that one. I won't starve you this way.""That's not eating, that's more like the Divine Farmeri6 testing a hundred varieties of herbs. Isn't that a little extravagant? Maybe all men like to be extravagant in front of women they don't know.""Maybe. But not in front of all women they don't know."

"Just in front of stupid women, right?""What do you mean?""If women weren't fools, they'd never be impressed by a man just be cause he is extravagant. But don't worry, all women are foolish, just as foolish as men expect them to be. No more and no less."He wondered whether these remarks came from naive candor or from what her cousin had called her social experience. When the food was served and they were eating, he asked her for her address, suggesting she write it on the blank page at the back of the book he had brought along to read, as he never liked the idea of carrying little address books around. When he saw she had written down her phone number, he said, "I won't be calling you up. I hate talking to friends over the phone. I'd much rather write a letter.""Yes, I feel the same way. Friends should enjoy seeing each other face to face. Talking over the phone is considered having contact, but you haven't seen each other, and what you say over the phone can't be kept like a letter to be taken out and read over several times. A phone call is a lazy man's visit or a miser's lettet, not what you would expect from a friend.Besides, did you notice that a person's voice over the phone often sounds unrecognizable or unpleasant?" she said.

"You are right, Miss T'ang. At the Chous where I live,there's a phone right outside my room. The noise gives me a headache every day. Often at the most unreasonable hours, such as in the middle of the night or in early morning, someone will call. It's such a nuisance. Luckily televiewing isn't in wide use;otherwise it'd be even worse. There'd be people spying you when you're in the bathtub or in bed. As education becomes increasingly widespread, the number of people writing letters decreases. Unless it's an important business matter, people are afraid to write letters, and they'd rather call on the phone. I think that's because it's easy to make a fool of yourself in writing a letter. People in high positions can often speak quite well but can't handle a pen effectively.But with a phone call a person can dispense with a visit from someone repulsive or hide his poor writing ability. So the telephone has been considered a great gift to mankind."Fang Hung-chien babbled on happily, urging Miss T'ang to eat from time to time. He, on the other hand, ate very little. By the time they had their fruit for dessert, it was nine o'clock. She wanted to leave, and he didn't dare keep her. After paying the bill, he asked the waiter to call a taxi to take her home. He told her he had promised to go see Miss Su the next day and asked if she was going. She replied she might but doubted Miss Su was really sick. He then asked,"Should we tell her about our dinner tonight?"

"Why not? No, no. I got mad a while ago and told her I wasn't going anywhere today. All right, whatever you decide. In any case you can't go to her place until after work tomorrow, and I will go a little later.""I was thinking of visiting you the day after tomorrow. Would you mind?""I'd be glad to have you. It's just that our house is very cramped, noth ing like Miss Su's Western-style house with a big garden. If you don't mind visiting a modest home, come by all means.""May I meet your father?" he asked."Not unless you have some legal questions to ask him.He usually stays in his law office and doesn't get home until late in the evening. My parents have absolute trust in my sisters and me. They've never interfered with or checked up on our friends," she replied.The taxi arrived as Miss T'ang was speaking, and Hung-chien helped her into it. On his way home in the rickshaw, he thought the day had turned out to be unexpectedly perfect. But Miss T'ang's parting remark about "our friends" made him jealous as he conjured up visions of a huge throng of young men secretly surrounding her.When Miss T'ang arrived home, her parents teased her,"Well, our social butterfly is home." She went to her room and was changing her clothes, when the maid said Miss Su was on the phone. She went downstairs to answer the phone, but halfway down the stairs she changed her mind, stopped, and in structed her maid to say, "Young Lady'7 isn't feeling well and has gone to bed." Indignantly, she thought, That must be my cousin checking up to see whether I'm home or not. She is such a bully. Fang Hun g-chien isn't hers, and he doesn't need her to look after him like that! The more she interferes, the closer 1 will let him get to me. I can never love Fang Hun g-chien; love is a grand and

complicated emotion, and it's never so simple and easy. If I could fall in love with someone that easily, then I can't either believe in or submit to love.

The following afternoon Hung-chien bought some flowers and fruit and went to the Sus. The moment he saw Miss Su, he burst out without giving her a chance to speak, "What happened yesterday? You got sick, she got sick.Was it anything contagious? Or were you afraid I'd poison the food? Was I ever mad! I just went to eatby myself. I could have cared less that you weren't coming. All right, all right, now at least I know what a couple of stuck-up girls you are. Next time I won't risk a refusal."Miss Su apologized, "I really was sick. I felt better by afternoon but didn't call you up for fear you'd scold me for playing jokes on you, changing my mind from one moment to the next. When I told Hsiao-fu I was sick yes terday, I didn't tell her not to go. Let me call her up and ask her over. It's all my fault.

Next time I will be the host."She then called up Miss T'ang to ask if Miss T'ang felt better and invited her over, saying that Hung-chien was at her house. After she hung up, she took the flowers Hung-chien had given her and smelled them, instructing the servant to arrange them in the vase in her bedroom. Turning to Hung-chien, she asked,"When you were in England, did you know a Ts'ao Yuan-lang?"Hung-chien shook his head.

"He studied literature at Cambridge. He's a new-style poet who's just returned from abroad. His family and mine have been friends for generations. Yesterday he came to see me, and he's coming again today.""Oh, so that's it," said Hung-chien. "No wonder you didn't show up yesterday. All that time you were discussing poetry with someone. We're uncouth, just not worthy of your acquaintance. This Mr. Ts'ao hails from the illustrious Cambridge University, while we are nominal students from newly established colleges.How could we ever qualify to make friends with him?Tell me, since your Eighteen Poets of the Colloquial Style doesn't seem to mention him, are you planning to include him in the next edition?"

Miss Su was half angry and half amused. Waving her finger at him, she said, "You like being jealous, and it's over nothing." Her expression and im plication frightened Fang Hung-chien so much that he became wordless, and he blamed himself for having done too well at feigning anger.Presently Miss T'ang came in. Miss Su said to her,"Such airs you put on! I called up yesterday to ask about you, and today you didn't even return the call.Now you wouldn't come until I invited you. Mr. Fang was asking about you.""Am I good enough to put on airs?" said Miss T'ang. "I keep getting bossed around; is it so strange that I don't come until summoned? If I refuse to come after being invited, then you can call me self-important."

Afraid that Miss T'ang might say something about her three telephone calls the day before, Miss Su quickly put her arm around Miss T'ang's waist and said placatingly, "Look at you. I was joking and you take it so seriously." She then peeled an orange Hung-chien had brought and shared it with him. The doorman showed in a perfectly round-faced man,announcing, "Mr. Ts'ao." Hung-chien gave a start. How did his last year's shipmate, Mrs. Sun's child, grow so big already, he wondered, and nearly called Mr.Ts'ao "Broth er Sun." Mrs. Sun's child and the guest did resemble each other a great deal,and somehow Fang felt that it was inappropriate for a poet to have such a plump face and big ears, as if those features would mean that his poetry couldn't be any good. Then he suddenly remembered that the T'ang poet Chia Tao'noted for his poetic leanness, was also round-faced and squat in stature, and he shouldn't judge Ts'ao Yuan-lang by his appearance.When the introductions and pleasantries were over,Ts'ao Yuan-lang took a redwood bound copybook from his briefcase and solemnly presented it to Miss Su,saying, "I brought this today especially to ask for your opinion."

Hung-chien then realized it was not a copybook but a notebook of fine Hsuan calligraphy paper in a deluxe mounting put out by the Jung-pao Print ing House.'Miss Su took the notebook and leafed through it, saying, "Mr. Ts'ao,let me keep it so I can study it. I will return it next week. OK? Hung chien, you haven't read Mr.Ts'ao's work, have you?"

Hung-chien was just thinking what wonderful poetry this must be to be recorded in such a fancy notebook.Reverently he took it from Miss Su; he found standard-type-face characters written very evenly with a brush. The first poem of fourteen lines was entitled "Adulterous Smorgasbord," with the small number "1" beneath it. After studying the poem carefully, he discov ered that the poet's annotations were on the second page. This "1," "2," "3," "4," and so on indicated the sequence of the annotations. Note "1" was "Mlange adult're."

The poem read as follows:

The stars of last night tonight stir ripples on the wind swirling into tomorrow night.The full, plump white belly of the pregnant woman's pasted tremblingly to the heavens.When did this fleeing woman who had maintained a chaste widowhood find a husband?

Jug! Jug! In the mud-En ange e ii mondo![sic]a nightingale sings, Hung-chien skipped to the last couplet:

The summer evening after the rain is saturated and washed; the earth is fertile and fresh.

The smallest blade of grass joins in the soundless outcry. "Hirsind!"  At the end of the poem the sources of the words and phrases were care fully noted, including excerpts from the poetry of Li I-shan,T. S. Eliot, Tristan Corbiere, Leopardi, and Franz Werfel. Hung-chien surmised that the "belly of a pregnant woman" referred to the moon; the "fleeing woman," to Ch'ang ; and the "nightiogale in the mud," to a frog. He did not have the stomach to read any further and put the book down on the tea table, saying, "There's not one word without a source. It's almost like what traditional poets call 'scholar's poetry.' Isn't that style neoclassicism?"Ts'ao Yuan-lang nodded and repeated "neoclassic" in English. Miss Su asked which poem it was and then she read through "Adulterous Smorgas bord." When she

finished reading it, she exclaimed, "Such a marvelous title. There's one phrase that's especially good: 'the soundless outcry.' Those words truly capture summer's bursting, squirming vitality. How wonderful that Mr.Ts'ao was able to express everything so xvell!"

Upon hearing this, the poet was so delighted that his plump face, as round as the T'ai-chi diagram,was flooded with butter.

Hung-chien suddenly had the alarming suspicion that Miss Su was either a big idiot or a superb liar.Miss T'ang also went over the poem and said, "Mr.Ts'ao, you're too cruel to us unlearned readers. I can't read any of the foreign words in the poem.The poet said, "The style of this poem is such that those who can't read the foreign words can appreciate it all the more. The title is an assortment, a mixture of different ideas. You just have to note how each person's poetic phrase is used. Naturally the mixture of foreign words with the Chinese gives it a random,disorganized impression. Miss T'ang, didn't you get this haphazard, mixed-up feeling?"Miss T'ang nodded her head in agreement. Like the surface of a pond at the drop of a pebble, Ts'ao Yuan-lang's face was wreathed in smiles. He said,"Then you've grasped the essence of the poem. There's no need to look for its meaning. If the poem has any meaning, so much the worse for it."Miss Su said, "Excuse me, all of you wait here a minute. I will show you something."When Miss Su had gone, Hung-chien said, "Mr. Ts'ao,when Miss Su's second edition of the Eighteen Poets of the Colloquial Style comes out, it'll certainly include you as the nineteenth."Ts'ao Yuan-lang said, "Not a chance. I'm much too different from the other poets; we don't go together.Miss Su told me yesterday that she wrote that book to get her degree. Actually she doesn't think much of their poetry.""Oh, really?""Mr. Fang, have you read her book?""I did, but I don't remember much." When Miss Su gave him a copy, he had merely flipped through it to see who the eighteen poets were."In the preface she quotes a parable by Jules Tellier about a man whose hair was falling out. The man went to get a haircut, but the barber told him he needn't bother because his hair would all fall out by itself in a few days. For the same reason, most of modern literature is not worth criticizing. That parable is quite apt."

"I guess I didn't notice that," Hung-chien could only say, thinking to himself: Good thing I don't want to marry Miss Su; otherwise, I'd have to read her book just as carefully. Too bad Chao Hsin-mei's French is not good enough to read books; otherwise, he could certainly make Miss Su happy the way Ts'ao does now. Miss T'ang said, "The poets my cousin discusses in her book are like eighteen strands of fallen-out hair; in the future Mr. Ts'ao will be like the single strand of hair that the miser refuses to part with."They all laughed. Miss Su returned to the room carrying a purple san dalwood fan case. Winking at Miss T'ang who smiled and nodded, Miss Su removed the case's lid, took out a woman's carved garu-wood folded fan, handed it to Ts'ao and said,"There's a poem on it. Please read it."Yuan-lang opened the fan and read it aloud in the tone of a monk beg ging alms or an actor reciting the spoken part of opera. Hung-chien couldn't make out a word, for the chanting of a poem, like a dying man talking in his sleep, was in the native dialect. After reading it aloud, Yuan-lang then read it once more to himself, his lips puttering up and down in the manner of a cat chanting the sutra. Then he exclaimed, "Very good! It's simple and sincere and has the flavor of an ancient folk song."

Seemingly bashful, Miss Su said, "How sharp you are,Mr. Ts'ao! Tell the truth. Is the poem any good?"Fang Hung-chien took the fan from Ts'ao Yuan-lang. As soon as he saw it, he was filled with disgust. On the perfectly good gilt-flecked fan was the following poem

written askew with a fountain pen in purple ink:

Surely I've not imprisoned you? Or have you taken possession of me? You burst into my heart, Shut the door and turned the key.The key to the lock was lost by me, or maybe by you yourself.Now there's no way to open the door.Forever you are locked in my heart.Below in small characters were: "Autumn, twenty-sixth year of the Republic (1937), an old work copied for Wen-wan. Wang Er-k'ai."This Wang Er-k'ai was a well-known young politician, a middle-level official in Chungking. Miss Su and Miss T'ang meanwhile both looked at Fang Hung-chien,anxiously waiting for his reaction to the poem. He put down the fan and with a wry face said, "The palm of whoever wrote those characters should be spanked. I've never seen fountain pen writing on a fan; well, at least, he didn't write anything in English."

Hastily Miss Su said, "Never mind the calligraphy. What do you think of the poem?"Hung-chien said, "Could someone as ambitious as Wang Er-k'ai for high political office write good poetry?I'm not asking him for a job, and there's no obligation for me to flatter him," totally unaware that Miss T'ang was frowning and shaking her head at him."You are so obnoxious!" fumed Miss Su. "You're completely prejudiced. You shouldn't be discussing poetry." With that she took the fan from him.Hung-chien said, "All right, all right, let me read it again calmly and objectively."Miss Su pouted and said, "I don't want you to," but she let him have the fan again.Suddenly pointing at the poem on the fan, Hung-chien exclaimed, "Oh, terrific! This poem was cribbed"Miss Su's face livid, she said, "Don't be ridiculous!How could it have been cribbed?"

Miss T'ang opened her eyes wide in amazement."At the very least it was borrowed-a foreign loan. Mr.Ts'ao was quite right when he said it had the flavor of an ancient folk song. Remember, Miss Su? We heard the professor talk about this poem in the history of European literature class. It's a German folk song of the fifteenth or sixteenth century. When I studied German with a tutor before I went to Germany, I came across it again in a beginning reader. It started out,'I am yours, you are mine,' and the rest of the poem went something like, 'You've been shut in my heart. The key is lost, and you can never get out.' I can't remember the exact words but I couldn't be mistaken about the general outline. There could never be such a coincidence."Miss Su said, "I don't remember this poem ever being discussed in the history of European literature class."Hung-chien said, "How could you not have? Maybe you didn't pay close attention in class. You didn't have to jot down everything the way I did. You can't be blamed for that. You were attending classes in your own major and your not taking notes just showed how knowledgeable you were. You knew everything the professor said, but I was an auditor from the Chinese literature department; if I didn't keep my pen busy in the classroom, I'd have been laughed at by you for being so ill prepared for the course that I couldn't understand the lecture well enough to take notes."

Miss Su became wordless; Miss T'ang just lowered her head. Ts'ao Yuan lang guessed that Fang Hung-chien's knowledge of German was about as good or as bad as his own. Besides, Fang was a Chinese major, so he couldn't be too brilliant. For in a university, science majors look down on humanities majors, foreign language majors on Chinese majors, Chinese majors on philosophy majors, philosophy majors on sociology majors,and sociology majors in turn on education majors.Since education majors have no one to look down on, they can only despise the professors in their own department.

Immediately Ts'ao Yuan-lang blurted out, "I knew the poem had a model. Didn't I say it had the flavor of an ancient folk song? But Mr. Fang's attitude is contrary to the spirit of literary appreciation. You Chinese majors all have the nasty habit or even obsession of

textual authentication. If a poem has allusions, it means more to someone who can recognize them; reading it will bring to mind countless others which can set it off in Mr. Fang, if you read T. S. Eliot's poetry, you'd realize that every phrase in modern Western poetry has its source, but we never accuse those poets of plagia r,sm. Do we, Miss Su?"




Fang Hung-chien wished he could have said, No wonder your honorable work is such a hodgepodge. You experts don't find it at all strange, but 'we laymen feel obliged to report to the police when we have nabbed the thief and recovered the goods. Instead, he merely said with a smile, "Don't take it too hard. Gifts to women are rarely one's own; it's nothing more than borrowing flowers to offer to Buddha. If the donor is an official, you can assume that the gift was fleeced off someone else." As he spoke he wondered why Miss T'ang was not paying much attention.Miss Su said, "I don't like your cutting remarks. So Fang Hung-chien is the only intelligent person in the world."Hung-chien stayed a little longer; with no one in the mood for more conversation, he said goodbye and left before anyone else. Miss Su did not try to keep him. After he'd left the house he was vaguely uneasy, aware that his remarks might have offended Miss Su, that Wang Er-k'ai must be one of her worshipers. But remembering he was to visit Miss T'ang the next day, he, in anticipation, forgot everything else. When Fang Hung-chien arrived at the T'angs the next day, Miss T'ang's maid told him to wait in Miss T'ang's study. When Miss T'ang saw him, she said, "Mr.Fang, you made a terrible mistake yesterday. Did you know that?" Fang Hung-chien reflected for a moment; then he said with a smile, "You mean your cousin is mad at me because I criticized that poem?""Do you know who wrote the poem?" She saw his blank uncomprehend ing look and went on, "It was written by my cousin, not by Wang Er-k'ai.""What!" he exclaimed. "Don't put me on. Didn't it plainly say on the fan, 'An old work copied for Wen-wan'?"

"It was Wen-wan's old work that was copied. Wang Er-k'ai knows my uncle and was Chao Hsin-mei's boss.He's married, but last year when my cousin returned from abroad, he was trying to ingratiate himself with her. He made Chao Hsin-mei so angry that Chao lost weight. Usually, when a per son is filled with rage,he swells up and gets fat, don't you think? Later the executive offices of the government all moved to the interior. Anxious to be an official, Wang finally cast my cousin aside and went to the interior, too. This is why Chao Hsin-mei refused to go there. The fan was Wang's present to my cousin, and he had someone specially carve the design on it. And the poem was my cousin's favorite piece.""That moron, two-bit politician. The inscription on the fan was so am biguous that it got me in trouble.Damn! What do I do now?""What do you do? Luckily, you are a smooth talker. A few sentences should be enough to clear the matter."Pleased and humbled by this remark, he said, "It's such a mess now; I am afraid it won't be easy to remedy the situation. I'll go home and write a letter of apology to your cousin immediately."

"I'd really like to know how you'd write such a letter. Let me learn how and maybe I can use one someday." "If it proves very effective, I'll certainly make a copy of the letter for you. Did they criticize me much after I left yesterday?""The poet said all kinds of things, but my cousin didn't say much. She said your Chinese is very good.So quoting a friend of his, the poet said that nowadays if someone wanted to have good Chinese, he'd have to study for eign literatures. Before, people majoring in Western science had to know foreign languages, and now people in Chinese literature have to be well versed in Western languages first. This friend of his is supposed to be returning from abroad soon, and Ts'ao Yuan-lang wants him to meet my cousin."Oh, another jerk! If he's a friend of that poet, he couldn't have much on the ball. You saw that poem of his, something about the 'smorgasbord and adulterer.'You can't tell what it's all about. And it's not honest, unpretentious incoherence, but presumptuous,arrogant, and shameless. It insults the reader's intelligence."

"I'm too ignorant about such matters; I am not qualified to comment, but it seems to me somebody who has studied at a prestigious university abroad couldn't be as bad as you say. Maybe that poem of his was meant to be funny." "Miss T'ang, studying abroad today is like passing examinations under the old Manchu system. My father used to say that if a man failed the third-degree examination, no matter how high an official he became,he'd carry that regret around for the rest of his life. It's not for the broadening of knowledge that one goes abroad but to get rid of that inferiority complex. It's like having smallpox or measles, or in other words, it's essential to have them. Once a child has had the smallpox or measles, he can grow up protected, and if he comes in contact with these diseases later on, he has no fear of them. Once we've studied abroad, we've gotten the inferiority complex out of the system, and our souls become strengthened,and when we do come across such germs as Ph.D.'s or M.A.'s we've built up a resistance against them. Once we've had smallpox, we can forget about ever having caught it; similarly, someone who's studied abroad should also forget about ever having gone abroad. People like Ts'ao Yuan-lang can never forget that they have studied abroad; everywhere they go they have to brag about their Oxford or Cambridge

backgrounds. They are like those people who have contracted smallpox and got pock marked and brag about their faces as if they were starred essays."Smiling, Miss T'ang said, "If people heard you say all that, they'd just say you were jealous because their universities are more famous than the one you wentUnable to think of a reply, he gave a silly smile. She was glad that she Sometimes caught him speechless. She then said, "Yesterday I wondered why you didn't know that the poem was my cousins. You must have read her poems before."

"I came to know your cousin on the boat coming home.It's been a very short time. We'd never even talked before. Remember that day when she said my school nickname was 'TheThermometer'? I am not interested in new- style poetry, and I don't think it's worth getting interested in it just for your cousins sake.""Hmm, if she found that out""Miss T'ang, listen to me. Your cousin is a very intelligent and talented woman, but how should I put it? An intelligent and talented woman was born to make a stupid man swoon before her. Since he himself has no talent, he looks upon her talent as something mysterious and wonderful, and so he pros trates himself before her in worship the way a penniless pauper idolizes a rich man.""In other words, someone as intelligent as Mr. Fang would prefer a stu pid, illiterate woman.""Woman has an intelligence all her own, and it is as nimble and lively as her person. Compared to that kind of intelligence, talent and scholarship are sediments.To say a woman is talented and scholarly is like praising a flower for balancing on the scale with a cabbage or potato-utterly pointless. A truly intelligent woman would never try to become a genius.She'd just find clever ways to loaf around.""What if she wanted to get a Ph.D.?" she asked with a smile.

"She'd never think of getting one in the first place.It's only women with talents like your cousin who want a Ph.D.""But nowadays even to graduate from a run-of-the-mill university, you have to write a thesis.""Then the year she is to graduate, there'd be a change in the world situation. The school would hold its commencement exercise early, and they'd let her graduate without requiring a thesis."She shook her head in disbelief and dropped the subject. They quickly exhausted their topics of conversation, for pleasantries bear no repetition once they have been spoken. Though the words that lovers speak to each other are inexhaustible, Fang Hung-chien and Miss T'ang were not lovers. He felt that every subject that could be safely mentioned had been spoken, and he could not say any more if he were not to step beyond the bounds of propriety. Noticing his silence, she said with a smile, "Why don't you say something?"Responding with a smile, he said, "Well, why don't you?"She told him that in the courtyard of her country home were two cinna mon trees, each over a hundred years old. When she was little she often no ticed that a whole flock of noisy sparrows in the trees would suddenly fall silent; then after a brief pause just as suddenly they would start up all at once. And she commented that it was the same way with human conversation.On his way home Fang Hung-chien mentally drafted the letter to Miss Su, convinced that it would be more appropriate to write it in the classical style, since its ambiguity contained a terseness that would make it an excellent tool for glossing over or playing down an error.

After dinner he wrote a rough sketch, amazed at his greatly increased ability to write the uncruth.Worried that the joke might have gotten out of hand,he lay down his brush halfway through the letter; but when he thought how Miss T'ang would appreciate and understand the letter and how the lies would bring smiles to her lips, he continued on happily. The letter read as follows:

Yesterday when you showed me the poem on the fan, I was vexed at seeing that such a beautiful piece of writing had been composed by none other than a vulgar common official. In my surprise and resentment, I made the unfair accusation that it must have had a model.

Though I derived momentary pleasure, I really felt uneasy. I am beholden to you for your kindness. I deserve a stern rebuke.At the end of the letter he backdated it to the day before and then added two more lines:

P.S. After writing this letter, I left a whole day and night go by before sending it to you. Suffering such a defeat in front of Mr. Ts'ao was most up setting. I hated it.He then put down the day's date. He read the letter twice again with complete satisfaction. In his magination, it was not Miss Su but Miss T'ang reading the letter.The next day when he arrived at the bank, he dropped the letter at the mail section to be delivered to Miss Su by a special messenger. In the evening he went home and had just reached his bedroom when the telephone rang. He reached over and answered it."The Chous' residence. Who's calling, please?" He heard a woman say, "Guess who this is."Hung-chien said, "It's Miss Su, isn't it?""Right." Crisp laughter."Miss Su, did you get my letter?""Yes, I did. You are childish. I don't blame you.Don't I know your tem perament?""You may be willing to forgive me, but I can't forgive myself.""Oh, is it worth getting so upset about such trivia?Tell me, do you really think that poem is good?"Making every effort not to let the smirk on his face slip into his voice, Hung-chien said, "I just wish such a good poem hadn't been written by Wang Er-k'ai.It's too unfair!""Let me tell you something. It wasn't.""Then who wrote it?""I wrote it just for fun.""What? You wrote it? Well, I'll be damned!"He was thankful that they were talking by telephone and not by tele vision. Otherwise, the interesting combination of the glee on his face and the alarm in his voice would have certainly made Miss Su suspicious.

"You were entirely justified in saying that the poem had a model. I got the idea from Tirsot's collection of old French folk dance tunes and felt it was fresh and interesting, so I wrote a poem in imitation.According to you, there's a similar German version.It's obviously very common.""Yours is more lively than the German poem.""You mustn't flatter me. I don't believe you!"''That's not flattery."Are you coming over tomorrow afternoon?"Hung-chien answered quickly that he was, and since she still hadn't hung up, he didn't hang up either."Yesterday you said men don't give their own things to women. What did you mean by that?"He laughed apologetically and replied, "Because his own things are so lousy, he's ashamed of them, so all he can do is borrow someone else's things to offer.For instance, in inviting a lady out for dinner, if his house is too cramped and the cook's no good, then he has to go to a restaurant and make use of its facilities and cooking."Miss Su giggled and said, "OK, you win. I'll see you tomorrow."His head damp with perspiration, he wondered whether it was from nervousness or from his hurried walk home. That evening Fang Hung-chien copied out a draft of the letter, enclosed a short note with it, and sent it to Miss T'ang. He wished he could have written in English, since the tone of a letter in literary style was so impersonal, while the tone of a letter in colloquial style too easily turned into obnoxious familiarity. Only a letter in English would permit him to write openly, "My dear Miss T'ang," and "Very truly yours, Fang Hung-chien." These common terms of address in Western correspondence only sounded offensive and sick ening in Chinese. He was well aware that his English was imbued with the spirit of the free speech of the British and the Declaration of Independence of the Americans in not being bound by the rules of grammar. Otherwise, were he really to depend on a foreign language to "dear" Miss T'ang, it would be like a political offender carrying out his activities while hiding in the

foreign concessions in China.In the next month or two he saw Miss T'ang seven or eight times, wrote her a dozen or so letters, and received five or six replies from her. The first time he received a letter from her, he read it once before going to sleep, then put it next to his pillow, and when he awoke in the middle of the night, he turned on the light to read it again. When he had read it through, he switched off the light and settled back down; then mulling over what he letter had said, he couldn't resist turning on the light again and reading it once more. Later on the letters he wrote gradually became a day-to-day collection of random notes, which he took to the bank with him. Whenever he came across a subject of interest or thought of a phrase, he would pick up his pen and carry on a private, intimate talk with Miss T'ang on paper. Sometimes even when he had nothing to say, he would still want to write something such as, "Today at the bank I drafted several letters and now at last I can catch my breath, stretch,a-a-a-ah! Can you hear my yawn? The waiter came to say

lunch is ready. I'll talk to you later. Maybe you're having lunch now. May you 'Eat a bite more and live till 9994,' or, I still have more to say in this letter I'm about to send you, but as you can see, the page is already full. There's only this tiny space on the paper and I can barely squeeze in the sentence from my heart, which is still too shy to look you in the face. Oh! The page- He always considered letter-writing a small comfort which, while better than nothing at all, couldn't compare with the joy of meeting her face to face. Then when he did see her,there was so much he couldn't bring himself to say; he would then think it was still better to have written a letter. However, seeing her soon became an addiction.

At first, a date with her could "won derize" the day before and the day after by virtue of their association. Gradu ally he wished he could see her every day and even every minute. Once he had written and sent a letter off, he would be forever worrying about it, afraid that when it, like a flaring arrow, reached its destination, it would be nothing but dead ashes by the time she received it.Miss Su and Miss T'ang saw less of each other than before, but Fang Hung-chien, caught between Miss Su's alternating threats and kindness, had no choice but to go to the Sus often. Waiting for him to make his formal declaration of love, Miss Su inwardly faulted him for being so frivolous and tardy; he, on the other hand, was waiting for a chance to explain that he did not love her, and wished he weren't so tenderhearted and could be courageous enough to cut the Gordian knot. Every time he went to the Sus, he came away reproaching himself for having gone one more time and talked so much again. He gradually realized that he was what Westerners called a "moral weakling," and was worried that Miss T'ang would detect this major flaw in his character.

One Saturday afternoon after returning home from having tea with Miss T'ang, he saw on the table an invitation from Chao Hsin-mei for dinner the next day and was struck with the horrible thought that this might be Hsin mei's engagement party. That would be disastrous. Miss Su would start con centrating her affections on him all the more. Miss Su called to ask if he had received the card or not and Hsin-mei had asked her to invite him; moreover, she told him to see her the next morning. The next day Miss Su said that Hsin-mei had insisted that he come, as a chance for everyone to get together. At first he was going to ask why Hsin mei had invited him, but the words shrank away from the tip of his tongue. Not wishing to mention Hsin-mei's antagonism toward him any more for fear of deepening Miss Su's misunderstanding of him, he asked instead if any oth ers were invited. She said two of Hsin-mei's friends had also been invited."Is that little fatso and big poet Ts'ao Yuan-lang included? If he is, they can save on the food. Just looking at that meatball face of his will make people feel full," he said."Probably not. Hsin-mei doesn't know him. I know how petty both you and Hsin-mei are. Hsin-mei would start quarreling the moment he saw Yuan lang. Well, my place here is not a battlefield, and I am not going to let the two of them meet. Yuan-lang is a very interesting fellow. You're so biased; I think your heart must be way over in your armpit. Since that time, I haven't

let you and Yuan-lang meet so as to avoid any squabble."He was going to say, "Actually it makes no difference to me," but under her doting gaze, he couldn't say anything. At the same time, he was greatly relieved to learn that Ts'ao Yuan-lang had been added to the list

of Miss Su's worshipers."What do you think of Chao Hsin-mei?" she suddenly asked.

"He is more capable than I and has a very dignified bearing. He is sure to l)e a success in the future. I think he is in fact an ideal-uh-man."If God had praised the devil or a socialist had eulogized the petty bour geoisie, Miss Su could not have been more astonished. She was all set for Hung-chien to ridicule Hsin-mei, whereupon she was going to uphold justice by arguing in Hsin-mei's defense. She then said with a sniff, "The guest is already praising the host before he's even had a bite of food! Hsin-mei's been writing letters to me almost every other day. I needn't repeat what's in the letters, but they all say he's losing sleep. I get so sick of reading them! Who told him to lose sleep?What's that got to do with me? I am not a doctor!"She knew perfectly well his losing sleep had quite a bit to do with her without having to ask a doctor's opinion."As the poem from the Book of Odes27 goes, 'The noble young lady, Waking and sleeping he sought her; He sought her but could not find her, Waking and sleeping he longed for her.' His letters are a manifestation of genuine Chinese culture," Hung-chien said with a grin. Glaring at him, Miss Su said, "Isn't it a pity he doesn't have your good fortune! You don't know how lucky you are. All you do is make fun of people with your wisecracks. I don't like that about you.Hung-chien, I wish you'd learn to be more kind. I'm really going to get after you about that in the future.He became speechless with fright. Miss Su had business to attend to at home, so she agreed to meet him that evening at the restaurant. He went back home and for the rest of the day remained glum and despondent,

feeling he could no longer go on as before and must clarify his position to her as soon as possible.When Hung-chien reached the restaurant, the other two guests were already there. One was hunchbacked with a high forehead, large eyes, and a pale complexion. He was wearing a gold wire-rimmed pince-nez and a Western suit with cuffs covering his fingers. His face smooth, with neither a mus tache nor wrinkles, he resembled an infantile old woman or an elderly child.The other guest had a very proud bearing. His nose was straight and high; his profile gave the impression of a ladder propped against his face. The bow tie at his neck was so large and neat that Hung-chien was struck with hopeless admiration. When Hsin-mei saw Hung-chien, he greeted him warmly. During the introductions, Hung-chien learned that the hunchback was the philoso pher Ch'u Shen-ming and the other was Tung Hsieh-ch'uan, a former attache at the Chinese legation in Czechoslovakia. Transferred back to China,Tung had not yet been assigned a new post; he wrote excellent old-style poetry and was a great literary talent.Ch'u Shen-ming's original name was Ch'u Chia-pao.After attaining fame he found Chia-pao (literally,family treasure) unsuitable for a philosopher and changed it, following the precedent set by Spinoza, to Shen-ming (liter ally, careful and clear), taken from the expression "consider carefully and argue clearly."He was known as a child wonder, though some xvondered about his sanity. He had refused to graduate from grade school, high school, or college, for he felt no teacher was good enough to teach or test him. He harbored a special hatred for women, and though extremely nearsighted, he had refused to be fitted for

glasses for fear of getting a good look at women's faces. He always said that man's nature was composed of a natural humaneness and an animal disposition, and that he himself was all natural disposition. He was an avid reader of foreign philosophical journals,and if he came across the addresses of any world-renowned philosophers, he would write them saying how much he enjoyed their works. He culled his praise of their works from the review sections of philosophy journals and added a word here or deleted a word there and passed everything off as his own opinion.In the intellectual world, Western philosophers are the biggest whiners; they don't wield the experts'authority as scientists nor do they enjoy as much popular fame as men of letters. So, when suddenly from thousands of miles away came a letter of praise,needless to say they were so thrilled that they nearly forgot philosophy. China, as they saw it, was a primitive country, heaven knows how mean and backward,and yet here was a Chinese who wrote with sense. In their replies to Ch'u Shen-ming, they praised him as the founder of a new philosophy of China and even sent him books. If he wrote them again, however, he rarely received any more replies. The reason was that these vain old men would show off his first letter among their colleagues only to find that everyone else had received a similar letter and had been similarly called "the greatest philosopher of modern times."

Inevitably they became angry and disappointed.With some thirty or forty of these replies, Ch'u Shen-ming had awed innumerable people. One wealthy,talent-loving official spent ten thousand ounces of gold to send him abroad. The only Western philosopher who did not respond to his letter was Henri Bergson,who dreaded having strangers come pester him and kept his address confidential and his telephone number unlisted. After Ch'u Shen-ming arrived in Europe,Ch'u, in a last-ditch effort, sent a letter to Bergson to make an appointment for a visit, but to his chagrin the letter came back unopened. From then on, he bitterly hated Intuitivism. On the other hand,Bergson's rival, Bertrand Russell, was willing to humor the Chinese and therefore invited him over for tea. From then on Ch'u studied mathematical logic.When Ch'u went abroad, for the sake of convenience, he had to wear glasses, and so it happened that his attitude toward women gradually changed. Though he loathed women and could smell them three doors away, he de sired them, which was why his nose was so sharp.His mind was filled with them. If he came upon the expression a posteriori in mathematical logic, he

would think of "posterior," and when he came across the mark "X" he would think of a kiss. Luckily he had never made a careful study of Plato's dialogues with Timaeus; otherwise he would be dazed by every "X" mark. Now he was translating into English a work on the Chinese view of life written by the official who sent him abroad. Every month he drew out a sum of money from the National Bank for living expenses and lived a very leisurely life.

Tung Hsieh-ch'uan's father, Tung I-sun, was an old scholar who had served as an official for the Republic of China but had not forgotten the former Manchu regime.Hsieh-ch'uan himself was quite gifted and wrote old-style poetry in the same way his father did. A country of active scholar- generals, China is unlike France, which, if it had one or two generals capable of wielding a pen, would want them to be revered at the National Academy. While Hsieh-ch'iian's military strategems were not too different from those of most scholar-generals, his poetry, even if it hadn't been the work of a scholar-general, would still have been considered quite good. But writing can reduce one to poverty. He never had much luck as an official, even though this was not necessarily a misfortune for the soldiers. As a military attach6, instead of discussing military affairs, he criticized his superiors and peers for their literary incompetence, and for this reason he was transferred back to China. Shortly after his return, he decided to look for another job.

Fang Hung-chien viewed Tung Hsieh-ch'uan as a very distinguished individual, so when he heard Chao Hsin-mei say Hsieh-ch'uan was the son of a famous father, he was overwhelmed and said, "Mr. I-sun is well known both at home and abroad. Mr. Tung lives up to his distinguished heritage-a man of both literary and military talents." He thought this would be considered the highest form of praise. Tung Hsieh-ch'uan said, "My poetic style is different from my father's. In his youth he followed wrong models. Even now he still hasn't gotten away from the styles of Huang Chung-tse and Kung Ting-an of the Ch'ien-lung and Chia-ch'ing periods. I started right off writing in the style of the T'ung chih and Kuang-hsu periods."Fang Hung-chien didn't dare venture a word. Chao Hsin-mei asked the waiter for the menu he had submitted the day before and gave it a final scrutiny. Tung also asked the waiter for a brush and ink stone, took the menu from the tea table, and quickly leafed through it. Fang Hung-chien was perplexed.Ch'u Shen-ming sat silently and stiffly, smiling as though contemplating something interesting in the depths of his subconsciousness. His enigmatic smile would make that of the Mona Lisa amount to nothing.Hung-chien tried to talk to him. "Mr. Ch'u, what philosophical questions have you been studying recently?"

With a nervous expression, Ch'u shot a glance over at Hung-chien and then turned to Chao Hsin-mei. "Old Chao,Miss Su should have been here by now. Waiting for a woman like this-this is the first time in my life."

Hsin-mei gave the menu to the waiter, turned around and was about to agree, when he saw Tung Hsieh-ch'uan writing something. He asked quickly, "Hsieh-ch'uan, what are you up to?""I'm composing a poem," replied Tung, without raising his head.(The End)



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