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92 SkjZ cop 1 


The Chinese ginger jars 

NOV ?f 


The Chinese Ginger Jars 

THE CHINESE GINGER JARS is a bright and 
intimate portrait of the adventures, trials, 
and achievements of an American house- 
wife who lived through dangerous days in 
modern China. 

When Myra Scovel arrived in Peking in 
1930 with her medical missionary husband 
and infant son, China was a land steeped 
in an ancient culture, mellow as the smooth 
cream ivory of its curio shops, relaxed as 
the curves of a temple roof against the sky. 
Twenty-one years later as the Scovels 
were forced to leave China by the Com- 
munists it was a country of fear, of terror, 
of hatred toward the foreigner. The dra- 
matic events that transformed China are 
recounted here from the fresh and poignant 
viewpoint of an extraordinary American j 
wife and mother. 

a Scovel 

With Nette Keys BeU 

The Chinese Qinger 'jars 

Harper & Row , Publishers 
New York, Evanston, 
and London 

NUMBER: 62-7299. 


For the six of them, lest they forget 


The Ginger Jars 1 1 


The Jade Pagoda 13 


The Ancient Poem 2,5 


The Gourd 53 


The Grape 69 


The Chrysanthemum 89 


The Peach 105 


Lao Shou Hsing, The Birthday Fairy 127 


The Mei Hua (Flowering Plum) 143 


The Bamboo 167 


The Chinese Ginger Jars 

CThe Prologue 
The Qinger *]ars 

We found them, quite by chance, this afternoon in the junk 
shop kept so carelessly by the old Sikh gentleman with the 
long white beard two Chinese ginger jars, sitting squat and 
proud among the empty bottles and the broken tins. The jars 
were not a perfect pair, although identical in size and both 
covered with the same rich, jadelike glaze. 

We looked at them for a long moment; then my husband 
smiled and put his hand in his pocket, pulling out the neces- 
sary coins. He carried the jars carefully as we climbed the 
steep hill back to the cottage. 

They are green, the color of quiet water. My husband 
crumples the newspaper wrapping from the second jar of 
the pair. 

"Look at it," he is saying, as he puts one of the jars into 
my hands. "Do you remember . . . ?" I turn it slowly, con- 
templating the plaques embossed on its six sides. China, 
home to us for more than twenty years! There is a memory 
of that home in each design the gourd, the grape, the 
chrysanthemum, the peach, the flowering plum, the bamboo. 

The glaze feels like cold stone. 

"Let me see the other," I say, and I give him the one I 
have held. 

This one has three scenes, once repeated the Jade Pagoda; 

i 2 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

the poem written in brush strokes in an ancient script; Lao 
Shou Hsing, the birthday fairy. Yes, the memories are all 

We look at each other across the ginger jars, across the years. 


'Jade Pagoda 

Peking in 1930! It was a city straight from the pages of Marco 
Polo. The Temple of Heaven still retained its patina of age, 
unaware of the desecrating renovations that were to come. 
The whole city seemed steeped in the culture of its people, 
mellow as the smooth cream ivory of its curio shops, wise with 
a wisdom drawn from the deep pools of its clearest jade, re- 
laxed as the curve of a temple roof against its sky. How did 
I, born and brought up in Mechanicville, New York, happen 
to be walking its streets? 

Events had exploded one after another since that morning, 
a little more than two years before, when Miss Montgomery, 
the director of nurses, called me into her office in the 
Cortland County Hospital, in New York State. I was young, 
proud and confident in my new status as supervisor of the 
maternity ward, but I flinched at the summons. What had I 
done or what hadn't I done"? I can still feel the panic beneath 
my starched white as I hurried through the corridors. 

Miss Montgomery rose from her desk as I came in. This 
was worse than I had thought. "Miss Scott, I understand you 
are seeing a lot of Dr. Andrews/' (I am, but what is that to 
you? I thought, a little resentfully.) But the cool blue eyes 
were twinkling. "J ust don't give your heart away until youVe 
met Frederick Scovel. He's the new medical student up in 
the lab. That's all." 

j^ The Chinese Ginger Jars 

Frederick Scovel indeed! If he had that effect on the director 
of nurses, he was probably handsome and knew it. He 
was bound to be conceited, and pompous, and and icky! 
I seethed all the way back to the ward. 

Naturally I found an errand to take me to the lab. I had 
to see this paragon. The first thing I noticed about him was 
his ears. They were slightly reminiscent of faun's ears. He 
was tall; I had to look way up to see the light brown hair, 
brown eyes, and a Roman nose. Unbelievably, he was shy. 
Of course, nothing about this man was of the slightest interest 
to me. I picked up my test tubes and went back to the ward. 

"Shy * was hardly the right word. 

A week later, after eight hours on the ward, I hurried off 
duty to keep my third date with him. I remember that, as 
we sat in the living room, he bent to remove my shoes and 
gently rubbed my tired feet. Then he smiled, amused at 

"What's so funny?" I asked, 

"I was just wondering what that Dr. Andrews would say 
when he finds out that I'm going to marry you," he replied. 

Before I could think of anything else to say, he'd risen and 
walked across the room. He sat down in the chair farthest 
away and said quietly, "I shouldn't have said that. I can't ask 
you to share my life. I'm going to be a missionary." 

A what? This mild, disturbing man who had so quickly be- 
come the center of my existence did not look in the least like 
my mental picture of a missionary. And I couldn't, by the 
farthest stretch of the imagination, see myself in the role of 
what I supposed was the typical missionary wife high- 
topped shoes, umbrella firmly clutched in the middle, straw 
suitcase tied together with twine, hair snatched back in a bun. 
Me? Well, hardly! But he'd probably change his mind. 

It was natural for Fred to be drawn to such a calling. His 

The Jade Pagoda 15 

father was a minister; his mother, the daughter of a minister. 
Both grandfathers had been ministers, for that matter. Mission- 
aries had been in and out of Fred's home for as long as he 
could remember. 

I forgot all about missionaries in the whirl of happiness 
that followed. 

It was a beautiful wedding with peonies everywhere. I 
wanted to wear a mantilla, because the comb would make me 
look taller. 'Well look silly standing in the front of the 
church/' I had said, "y ou six feet one and a half, and I five 
feet and half an inch/' 

"If I'd wanted a tall wife, I could have had one/' he had 
answered conclusively. 

There was a halo around life together, around our planning 
for the future. We talked of the day when we would go to 
China as missionaries, but that seemed like another age to 
come. I knew that Fred was in correspondence with what we 
always spoke of as "the Board," meaning the Presbyterian 
Board of Foreign Missions. But the joy at hand wrapped us 
in a cloak that shut out the winds of the world. We did not 
see each other often enough or long enough at a time to discuss 
anything at length. Fred was interning at Memorial Hospital 
in Syracuse, New York, and I was still working in Cordand, 
some forty miles away. 

All other considerations were temporarily put aside when 
we knew we were to have our first child. During the last two 
months I went to live with Fred's parents in Cortland. "Just 
see how God answers prayer," said Father Scovel, who was 
more like Christ than any man I have ever known. "For 
twenty-six years I prayed for a daughter, and now God has 
given me one who even looks like me/' 

How Father's black eyes would shine when someone would 
mistake me for his own daughter and think Fred the son-in- 

16 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

law! But both men were cut from the same pattern, the tall 
frame, the slope of the shoulder, the "Scover nose. It was 
only that Father and I had the same black hair and dark 
eyes. And, as one friend put it, "I thought she must be your 
daughter because you look as if you loved each other so 

Mother Scovel was a tall, queenly, cultured lady of the old 
school, with golden blond hair. She was a perfect minister's 
wife kept a beautiful home, was an excellent cook, could 
lead a meeting with sparkle and verve and never fail to give 
you something that you could take home and live by. It might 
have been a difficult position for me, being the wife of an only 
son, but never in that home. I was accepted and loved. 

Father Scovel wanted us to have a little girl. He always 
spoke of the baby as Carlotta. (Father's name was Carl.) But 
when our little son was born, we named him James Kiehle 
Scovel. "James" because he looked as if he should be called 
Jimmy and "Kiehle" because it was Mother Scovel's maiden 
name. China didn't exist. 

Then, in one moment of time, the vague future became 
the crystallized present. 

Young James Kiehle Scovel had been delivered in the 
Syracuse hospital where his father was interning. I was lying 
in bed that morning, a few days after the confinement, when 
Fred came into the room with the day's mail in his hand. He 
kissed me and sat down in the wicker chair beside the bed to 
read aloud the congratulatory messages from friends. 

" *. . . so delighted with the news . . / 'How lovely for 
you . . .' Um, here's one from the Board." 

What was he saying? "We are looking forward to your 
sailing in August and have booked passage for you on the 
President McKinley from Seattle. That will get you into 
Peking in time for language school. . . " 

The Jade Pagoda 17 

Peking? Language school? August? This was April! I 
looked at him, incredulous. But he had picked up another 
letter and was reading. 

". . . We are so happy to hear of the birth of . . ." 

1 couldn't believe it. Our safe, comfortable world was crash- 
ing down upon our heads, and to him this bombshell was 
just another letter. After what seemed like hours, he was 
called to see a patient and I was left alone to think. 

It was high time I did some thinking. I hadn't looked ahead 
to anything except the birth of our baby and a comfortable 
little home of our own somewhere nearby. Now, while I was 
still exhausted from a sixty-hour labor with complications, 
life in far-off difficult China was laid in my lap. I hadn't 
seriously considered Fred's call to a lifework. 

There was little in my background to prepare me for a 
missionary life. My practical father would snort at the idea. 
"Aren't there enough heathen in this country?" I could hear 
him say it. Mother would know that I must live where my 
husband wanted to live. All that I knew of such a life in a 
foreign country had been learned from a few stories told to 
us as children when the mite boxes had been passed out in 
our beautiful gray-stone Episcopal Church. China was the 
picture of the sampan in our geography books, and my father's 
detective stories of the Mandarin with the slim silver knife 
hidden in his sash, Dr. Fu ManChu. My father called him 
Dr. Fume and Chew. 

But did Fred really want to be a missionary? Perhaps he 
was doing it to please the parents he loved so much. It 
would certainly be gratifying to them to have their only son 
give his life in full-time Christian service. But surely they 
would understand if he changed his mind now. 

"If you could do anything in the world that you wanted to 

iS The Chinese Ginger Jars 

do, what would it be?*' I asked him when he came in that 

<0 Why, I'd be a medical missionary and go to China/' he 
said casually, folding his six-foot-one-and-a-half into the wicker 
chair. "You know, I can remember wanting to be a medical 
missionary before I knew that 'medical' meant doctor. Why do 
you ask?" 

"Oh, I was just wondering/' I replied. 

He is so sure, I thought. Yet how can I bear it? How can 
I take this beautiful baby halfway across the world to a 
strange, germ-infested country? Is it fair to this child of 
ours? Suppose something should happen? How can some- 
thing not happen? 

I thought of the new nursery furniture which our son 
would probably never get to use, and came near to tears; but 
suddenly a new picture began to form in my mind. I saw our 
home in China neatly plastered mud walls, a thatched roof, 
curtains at the window, the black, wrought-iron candlesticks 
upon a shelf. 

Then it came, the Voice of Gentle Calm: "How little you 
trust Me who have brought you all the way/' 

I would take that nursery furniture to China. 

Father and Mother Scovel went with us across the country to 
see us off at Seattle. Difficult as the parting was, for us it 
was colored by our starting out on a great adventure. What 
must it have been for the two on the dock as they watched 
their only son sail away to be gone for five years! 

We left the President McKinley at Kobe and boarded the 
Chdku Moru, a tiny Japanese ship that carried us through 
the Yellow Sea to Taku in northern China. We had a very 
rough crossing; even the captain and the purser were seasick. 
I turned out to be the world's worst sailor, a great disappoint- 

The Jade Pagoda 19 

ment to Fred, who loves a heaving deck. The voyage to Taku 
was memorable for one great event the discovery of our 
baby's first tooth. 

China didn't look like the picture in the geography book 
but it didn't feel like a strange country, as I had expected it 
would. I was not frightened by the jostling coolies on the 
dock, nor by the rickshaw-pullers haggling for fares, nor by 
the crowds on the third-class train during the journey of 
several hours from Taku to Peking. The sights and smells 
were different from anything we had ever known, but from 
the moment of our arrival in China, we felt at home. How 
does one express that quiet quality of friendship with which 
a Chinese reaches out to you? People were so good to us* A 
wizened old man moved over to make room where there 
was no room; a tiny, bright-eyed woman offered us chunks 
of chicken with a bright-red glazed sauce. The flies were 
thick and we didn't dare accept it, but we smiled our thanks 
as best we could. 

We were thankful that we were not making this first train 
trip alone. Knowing how difficult travel with a small baby 
would be for newcomers, sandy-haired, salt-witted Tex Eubank 
had taken the trouble to come down from the language school 
to meet us; so my first Chinese words were flavored with a 
Texas drawl. 

"How do you say, 'Please don't touch him*?" I asked Tex 
when the first passengers pushed and shoved to handle the 
white carrying-basket that held the baby, to feel the soft 
wool blanket and, horrors, to pinch his fat little cheeks! 

"Pia tung," said Tex. 

"I don't hear the 'please/ " I said. 

"Never mind. You just use the words I give you and 
smile. They'll understand." 

I was kept so busy with my first Chinese sentence that I 

2o The Chinese Ginger Jars 

had no time to learn another before the train chugged to a 
stop in the Peking station. 

We had talked about riding in rickshaws before coming 
to China. We had agreed that we could not let another human 
being pull us around behind him. I do not know what we have 
done to our moral standards, but we both think now that of 
all the modes of travel there are in the world today, travel 
by rickshaw is by far the best. There is a snapshot in our 
album, showing my first attempt at sitting in one. There was 
no other conveyance to take us from the railway station to the 
language school. There I sit, bolt upright, the baby held 
stiffly in my arms, protest written in every line of my face. 

"Relax, gal," said Tex. 

The streets were wide. I had pictured them as narrow lanes. 
And oh, there was so much to see! There were shop signs with 
huge gold characters in bold relief against black lacquer; 
there were chubby, pig-tailed children playing a game with 
short sticks; there was a wedding procession coming down 
the middle of the road with sedan chairs of bright red satin 
heavily embroidered in gold. Three or four black-bristled, 
scrawny pigs scurried into the street, their sagging bellies 
dragging the ground. And there was a camel! Our eyes were 
tired and we were sootier than we had ever been in our 
lives when we pulled up at the gate of the College of 
Chinese Studies on the street called T'ou T'iao Hut'ung. 

The smooth green lawns of the interior courtyard with 
their potted evergreens and pools of quiet, chiffon-tailed 
goldfish were a welcome we will not forget. A smiling house- 
boy in a long white garment took us to two comfortable 
rooms overlooking the courtyard. It was our first home alone. 

Such a new young family from such a new young world! 
It was appalling how litde we knew. But we were there to 
learn and we took our places in the classroom the morning 

The Jade Pagoda 21 

the language school opened. Our First-Born was left in his 
basket at the hostel to learn Chinese as it should be learned. 
We found a little old amah (almost entirely bald) to look 
after him during school hours. We thought En Nai Nai was 
perfection until we found her poking holes in the rubber 
nipple with the silver pin she wore in her hair. 

There must have been a hundred and fifty of us in the 
classroom that first day of school businessmen, consular offi- 
cials, Catholic priests, men in army uniform, Protestant mis- 
sionaries. All of us had our eyes on the door through which 
our first Chinese teacher would come. Someone had passed 
on the incredible information that no teacher in the school 
could speak English. This, we felt, was a serious mistake on 
the part of the administration. If Chinese were anything like 
what the laundries at home had led us to believe, these 
teachers were going to need a considerable command of our 
native tongue. 

The door opened to admit one of the most charming gentle- 
men I have ever seen. He was wearing a long black gown 
with a sleeveless jacket of heavy brocade. His smooth young 
face beamed happily as he approached the desk. Someone 
murmured, "Dearest/* and from then on we never spoke of 
him as anything else. Dearest wiped his heavy horn-rimmed 
glasses, and the lesson began. 

"Wo," he said, pointing to himself; "Ni," with a long 
singing upward tone, pointing to us. 

'What does he mean?" We looked at one another. Dearest 
repeated the words and the gestures. Light broke "I," "You/' 

With a gesture that included us all, he continued, 'Wo 
men, ni men." 

"Ah, the 'men' sound means plural," we guessed. 

We were learning the language as First-Born was to learn 
it after all. First we listened. We listened to the same thing 

22 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

over and over for days. We heard old teachers and young 
teachers, men teachers and women teachers, teachers who 
spoke crisply and distinctly, and teachers who insufflated their 
words through a fringe of mustache. Only after many days 
of listening were we allowed to speak the words ourselves. 
Finally we were shown the printed character. We were not 
surprised when we heard that John Dewey, the great educator, 
had called Dearest the best teacher he had ever known. 

The unfolding of the language revealed the beauty of this 
ancient culture the calligraphy, the poetry, the wise old 
sayings handed down since the time of Abraham. Every Friday 
was Proverb Day. We were taught the sayings and the proper 
time to use them: "A fat man is not made so by one mouth- 
fur*; "The husband sings and the wife follows/' 

"Doctor/* said the teacher one Friday, "what proverb cornes 
to your mind when you think of your wife?" 

Obviously the answer should have been, "The husband 
sings and the wife follows." 

I was a long time forgiving Fred for his reply: "If the old 
doesn't go, how can the new come?" 

Language study continued after school hours as we tried out 
our new words on long-suffering shopkeepers and the rick- 
shaw-pullers. What companions they were, those rickshaw 
men! Even small shopping expeditions became personally 
conducted tours. They would tuck the fur robe cozily about 
our feet and start off on a jaunt to a side street to show us 
the amusing shop signs "False teeth and eyes, latest Meth- 
odists," "Tailor Shop. Ladies have fits upstairs." If we gave 
directions in a brand of Chinese that was almost beyond com- 
prehension, they were quick to sort out the meaning. 

Best of all we liked the ride to church on Sunday morn- 
ings. Then the streets were hushed and quiet. The fronts of 
the shops were closed and boarded up. The air smelled like 

The Jade Pagoda 23 

orchards in the fall, and the sun spilled long shadows over 
the pavement of rut-worn stone. The pat-pat-pat of the pullers' 
feet echoed in the empty lane. Occasionally a slower pat 
pat pat would be heard, and a caravan of camels would 
appear. What a picture they were, their proud noses in the 
air in spite of their ragged coats! Some of them would be 
laden with coal and some would have flung over their backs 
large burlap sacks containing hand-woven Mongolian rugs. 
The whole caravan would move along the street like a stately, 
rhythmic poem. 

These were thought-provoking days and I was troubled. Be- 
fore we had left America, there were those who asked, 'Why 
do you want to go way out there and impose your Western 
religion upon the Orientals?" 

I had been very sure of the answer then; now I wondered. 
What did I have that these wonderful people didn't have? 
And (did I dare whisper it, even to myself?) what did Chris- 
tianity have to give them? I had thought that, seeing how 
happy we were and how well we did everything, the Chinese 
would flock to our gates to find out more about the God we 
worshiped, the Christ we loved. So far no one had asked me 
a question. The only Chinese we had even met aside from 
the faculty of the school, who did not seem particularly im- 
pressed with the benefits we had to offer was a young student 
who came to practice his atrocious English and who invited 
us out to eat impossible things like sea slugs. (Fred loved 

As I stood looking out across the quadrangle one day, 
Fred said, "Something is troubling you. Are you homesick?" 

"Isn't it strange that in this strange country I have never 
felt a moment of homesickness? No, it is something deeper 
than that," I replied. "You never seem to have had a doubt in 

2,4 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

your life. Will you understand if I tell 

He has always understood, usually before I can voice my 

"Why don't you take this Weymouth translation of the 
New Testament," he suggested, "and imagine you are a 
Confucianist or a Taoist. You've never seen a church. All you 
know of religion is the dusty temple where you go on feast 
days to pray for a son without which you will be a disgrace 
to your husband and mother-in-law. Read it through as if for 
the first time. Don't even try to make any decisions. Just 
read it." 

The Bible suddenly came alive. Here, in this very city, sat 
the beggar at the gate; here two women were often seen 
grinding at a mill; here one had to know which were the high 
seats and which were the low seats at a feast. I began to 
wonder how such an Oriental religion as Christianity had 
ever taken root in the West. 

Then Christmas came, and like turning on the lights of 
the tree, all the little lights turned on inside me and I knew 
what I had to share. It would not be men seeking me to find 
the way, perhaps not even men seeking God to find the way; 
but God in His infinite love, in the humility of a manger and 
the simpleness of a Baby, forever seeking men. "God, in 
Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." 

"You've found a text," said my husband. "Shall I get you 
a soapbox*?" 


Ancient Poem 

Before my couch is the light of the effulgent moon. 

Perhaps it is hoar frost on the ground. 

Raising my head, I gaze at its brightness; 

Lowering my head, I think of home. 

Li Po (A.D. 701-762) 

CPoem on the ginger jars, 

translated by L. Carrington Goodrich) 

In my complacent ignorance I had always pictured China 
as a warm, sunny country. In spite of the specific instructions 
from the Board to take plenty of winter clothing to Peking, 
China was the Orient; and to me, the Orient meant hot 
weather. Our first Chinese winter furnished another of the 
enlightening experiences that China was constantly giving 
me. It was cold, bitter cold. The wind that blew down on 
Peking from the Gobi Desert felt as if it had been swept 
across Arctic ice. And seeing red lacquer temples and green 
pagodas through a whirling snowstorm was like living in a 
mixed-up dream. Fred finally bought a ponyskin coat for me 
from a Mongolian peddler. The Chinese teachers had their 
long garments lined with fur, but most of the populace kept 
warm by donning layer after layer of padded trousers and 
coats. Their clothing was so bulky that if a child fell over, he 
couldn't get to his feet and someone had to come and pick 


26 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

him up, I understood now why the pastor of the church 
had told me that the seating capacity of the pews was ten in 
summer and eight in winter. 

The winter passed swiftly, though, for we were very busy. 
We worked many hours a day at language school and at home. 
Until we could communicate with the Chinese in their own 
tongue, we could not begin the work which we had come so 
far to do. Our mission considered language study of primary 
importance. No matter how much Fred fretted and com- 
plained that his medicine was getting rusty and he must see 
some patients, there stood the inexorable rule that two years 
of language had to be passed before he could take on the 
responsibilities of the hospital. He was to be thankful for 
that rule in the years to come. I was given a little more 
leeway as to time, but we both had to pass five years of 
language study before we could be voted back after our first 

So we kept at it, that first winter in Peking, and at last our 
diligence began to bear results. We practiced on anyone who 
would talk to us. We were still far from thinking in Chinese, 
but we could understand a little and we could, by repeated 
efforts on our part and an uncanny perception on the part 
of the Chinese, make ourselves understood. 

Emboldened, I set out to learn another skill without which 
I had been told one could not get along in China: bargaining. 
One day in November as Fred and I were walking about the 
temple fair, I had spotted an incense burner, a tall pagodalike 
brass piece about ten inches high a hideous thing, I was 
to learn later; but being new to the beauty of simple bronze, 
I thought it was typically Chinese and I wanted it badly. 

The shopkeeper was immediately aware of my interest. 
After the usual exchange of greetings, I ventured to ask in 

The Ancient Poem 27 

my classroom Chinese, "To shao ch'ien?" "How much, how 
little money?" 

'The price is fifty dollars/' said the shopkeeper, rubbing the 
brass with the sleeve of his faded coat. "But you have just 
arrived in our country and I want you to have this, so I will 
give it to you for forty dollars/' 

Um, not bad, I thought. Exchange is almost five to one. 
Less than nine dollars our money. But I mustn't forget this 
bargaining business. 111 begin ridiculously low. 

"That is very kind of you/' I said, "but I really cannot 
spend more than ten of your dollars for an incense burner." 

"I am very sorry, Tai T'ai/' he replied. ("Tai Tai" meant 
"Honorable Mrs/0 

He put the incense burner back on his improvised shelf, 
a board on two packing boxes, and smiled sadly. Round One 
was finished and we retired to our corners. 

Many times that winter I was tempted to meet the price of 
my smiling, innocent-faced shopkeeper as he went from forty 
to thirty-five, to thirty, to twenty-five. I could hardly resist as 
his smile disappeared and his eyes grew sad. I would look 
from the lengthening face of the shopkeeper to the stern face 
of my husband and come away each week without my incense 

Then suddenly it was blazing spring. The Orient with its 
heat quickly redeemed itself. Within a week we were to 
leave Peking and continue language study at the cool seaside 
village of Peitaiho, northwest of Peking. We were eager to 
get to our first mission station, Tsining, but the missionaries 
there had written that on no account were we to bring First- 
Born into the heat of the Shantung Plain before September. 
In the midst of the packing, I remembered the incense burner 
and dropped everything for one last round with my shop- 

28 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

keeper. Fred came along to pick up some old coins he had 
seen at another shop. 

"We are leaving Peking, as you know/' I began. "Do let 
me have the brass piece for ten dollars." 

"Yes, you are leaving/' he replied, "and though I cannot 
afford it, I will give you the incense burner for ten dollars. 
It will mean that my old mother and the children will have 
to go without food today, but I want you to have it. Though 
I lose money, I want you to have it" He actually brushed 
away a tear with the back of his hand. For the fraction of an 
instant I wavered, but I did not lose the fight. Fred, who'd 
been off buying the coins, came up in time to rejoice with me 
that, for once, I had stood my ground when left on my own. 

As we were leaving the temple grounds, on an impulse I 
ran back to the shopkeeper. "You and I have had an interest- 
ing winter of bargaining," I said. "I am new to your country, 
as you have said, but I am going to be here a long time. I 
want to learn how to bargain properly. Tell me, how much 
did you really pay for this incense burner in the first place?" 

The shopkeeper laughed and said indulgently, "Just three 
dollars. Good-by, Tai Tai. I lu ping an all the way, peace." 

We had a glorious summer at Peitaiho, aside from Fred's 
swimming miles and scaring me to death by staying out of 
sight for hours. There were sharks off the coast. Sometimes 
I would be so furious that I'd wish they'd bite him; then I'd 
be so frightened at the thought that I would walk out into 
the sea as far as I could just to be that much nearer to him. 
I dared not swim out for fear of the sharks. He could never 
understand why I worried. He could swim, couldn't he? 
Cramps? Nobody ever had a cramp who used his head. And 
he loved the ocean and the gulls and the feeling of being 
alone in creation. 

The Ancient Poem 29 

First-Born added a few words to his vocabulary and learned 
to walk by digging his fat toes into the wet sand of the beach. 
He was so fat that his little mouth was lost in a hole in his 
face. The Chinese thought that anyone who was fat was 
beautiful. I took it rather badly the first time a friend tried 
to compliment me by saying, "Teacher-mother, how fat you 
are!" The only thing that troubled our Chinese friends was 
that the baby had blue eyes. Once when some country women 
were watching me bathe him, one of them said to the other, 
"Shell kill that child, washing him so much. How beautiful 
he is! So fat, so pretty, so white. If only he didn't have those 
goat's eyes." 

At last the day came when the train puffed into the Tsining 
railway station. What a welcome we had from our fellow 
missionaries, the Eameses and the D'Olives and the Walters, 
Miss Stewart and Miss Christman; and from the Baptist 
friends who lived across the city the Connelys, Miss Smith, 
Miss Frank and Miss Lawton. They were all at the station 
to meet us. Their first words were prophetic of what our life 
in China was to be. 

"The city was taken over by bandits last night," Frank 
Connely said casually, picking up a suitcase and maneuvering 
me through the crowd. 

"Bandits!" I gasped. 

Our senior missionary, the Rev. Charles Eames, who was 
hurrying along behind us, stepped up to the rescue. 

"There is nothing to worry about," he said quietly. "Shops 
will be looted; there may even be some shooting, but life for 
us will go on as usual. Really, there is nothing to worry about." 

Maybe we should get right back on that train, I thought. 
Fred looked as if he were enjoying the excitement. Just the 

3 o The Chinese Ginger Jars 

kind of an adventure he'd looked forward to, I could read 
behind his twinkle. 

But the streets were quiet as we drove through them in 
our cavalcade of rickshaws. In Peking I had been surprised 
to find that all Chinese houses were behind walls. Here, too, 
the streets were lined with mud or brick walls; closed door- 
ways with scrolls of letters across their tops and down each 
side marked the entrance to a private courtyard. For that 
matter, our compound was walled and the spacious grounds 
of each of our homes were surrounded by another set of walls. 
We did have access to one another through a path that ran 
along the back of the compound an arrangement that was to 
stand us in good stead in the years to come when it was too 
dangerous for us to be on the street. 

We stopped first at the Eames house where we were 
served tea. I was impatient to see our home. And what a sur- 
prise I got when I saw it! The thatched-roofed hut of my 
imagination turned out to be an imposing structure of gray 
brick that looked like a small factory with a front porch. Our 
house had been the one most recently built. The other houses 
on the compound were more in keeping with their Chinese 
background, with lattices of Chinese design and pillars on the 
porches. There had been an outcry when the first two-story 
building went up, many years ago; it would be possible for 
foreigners to look down from a point of vantage into the 
courtyards below. But by the time we arrived, a few of the 
more progressive Chinese inside the city wall were building 
two- and three-story houses themselves. 

Fred picked me up in his arms, carried me across the 
threshold of our new home, dumped me in the front hall 
among the luggage and was off to see the hospital. 

The house looked huge after our two small rooms at the 
language school. We had a living room, a dining room, a 

The. Ancient Poem 31 

kitchen and a study on the first floor, and three large bedrooms 
and a small one on the second. There was a third floor that 
could be finished off if we ever needed it. 

"Well never get this much furnished/* I told Fred that 
evening as we sat in borrowed chairs before our own fireplace. 
"Mrs. D'Olive said something about furniture made at a 
model prison. Somewhere in these trunks I have a furniture 
catalogue. We can show them pictures of what we want. Ill 
fish it out and we can have a couch and a chair made to 
begin with." 

"I'm glad we brought our own beds, even though the freight 
was so terrific. And we're lucky to pick up the dining-room 
furniture that belonged to that couple whoVe gone home. 
What were their names?" 

"I didn't get it." 

'Well, honey, there's one room you won't have to worry 
about furniture for our goldfish bowl of a bathroom; doors 
in three of the walls and a window off a porch on the fourth! 
Did you find out what time of day the man comes to empty 
the can?" 

(The can arrangement didn't last long. While walking 
along the Grand Canal one day we discovered a house deserted 
by the Standard Oil Company when the last foreign resident 
left. Fred climbed to an upstairs veranda and saw through the 
window that there was a good bathroom in the house. He 
wrote at once to the office in Shanghai for permission to buy 
the outfit complete with pipes. He installed it himself and 
designed the septic tank from one of his medical books on 

"Now tell me all about the hospital," I said as we drank 
our bedtime coffee. 

"There's too much to tell and you're tired. HI take you over 
and show it all to you the first thing in the morning." 

32, The Chinese Ginger Jars 

That night when I got up to cover the baby and for months 
afterward I looked down the stair well to see if one of those 
bandits had broken into the house and was even now on his 
way upstairs. 

Right after breakfast next morning we walked the half 
block and crossed the road to the hospital. Could it be called 
a hospital? The wards were rows of mud huts; the beds were 
boards on trestles. There was, however, a good little operating 
room in a small brick building which also housed the out- 
patient department. I fell in love with the little room that 
was the pharmacy. The shelves were filled with beautifully 
painted porcelain jars. I found it difficult to believe that they 
held such modern and prosaic things as zinc ointment and 
unguentine. I felt that if I lifted lids I would find tiger claws, 
lizard skins, and scorpion tails. 

The operating room was across an open courtyard from the 

"What do you do with postoperative cases in the dead of 
winter?'* Fred asked the immaculate operating-room supervisor. 

'We just wheel them across to the ward on a stretcher and 
pray that they won't get pneumonia," he replied. (There were 
no antibiotics.) This was only one of the reasons why, some 
time later, we converted a well-built school building into a 
very usable sixty-bed hospital. 

We got a language teacher at once, for Fred was determined 
to complete his second year by January so that he could take 
over full responsibility for the hospital. He was allowed to take 
a clinic for only an hour a day and the rest of the time had to 
be devoted to language study. Adopted Uncle Eames, being 
a minister, would be delighted if Fred could relieve him in 
time for the spring itineration trips to the country Christians. 
Young Mr. Wong, our teacher, had a silvery laugh and a 
pleasant disposition. He was one of twenty-seven children, only 

The Ancient Poem 33 

three of whom lived to grow up. Old Mother Wong was a 
tiny woman who looked like a gnarled crabapple tree. She 
always ended the story of her children by saying with a sigh, 
"I would have had more, but my husband died." Fred oper- 
ated on her for an inflamed appendix when she was well 
over seventy, and she walked after a fractured hip and re- 
covered from pneumonia several years after that. 

After he had passed his examinations, Fred went out every 
morning and came back late at night. He took time out only 
for a brief lunch and a more leisurely dinner. I would beg him 
not to go back to the hospital at night when he was so 
tired, but he would insist that sleep was half of getting 
well, and he wanted to make sure that everyone was going 
to settle down for the night. He did everything surgery, 
medicine, obstetrics. We had a good Chinese surgeon off and 
on (whenever we could persuade one to leave the port cities 
and come into the interior for much less pay). Chinese 
doctors seemed to prefer surgery and they were very adept 
with their hands. Getting an internist was another story and 
was probably the reason Fred eventually became a specialist 
in internal medicine. And we had an excellent obstetrician. 
Dr. Rung was a dear, tiny woman who had stopped counting 
after her thousandth delivery. It was only when she was on 
vacation or when her strength gave out that she had to call 
on Fred to take over. 

Almost all the patients were very ill. Few came to the 
hospital in those days unless every other means had failed 
to cure them. Typhoid, dysentery, malaria, an occasional case 
of smallpox were apt to be found in the course of a day's 

I helped out wherever I was needed sorting linen, making 
inventories, making rounds with the superintendent of nurses 
whenever she needed me; and I taught classes in nursing 

34 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

ethics, English, and bedside care to the students in the train- 
ing school. 

The missionary wives had had servants for us waiting to 
be interviewed. They assured me I was to make my own 
choices, however. Servants who worked well for one family 
did not necessarily do so for another, and servants who had 
been failures with one family sometimes turned out very 
well for other families. We finally settled down with Hu Shih 
Fu, the cook, an old man who made noises as if he were 
cooling broth all the time he was cooking, and who did not 
like to have me in the kitchen trying out my own recipes; 
Li Ta Ke, the gateman and gardener; Chen Wu, the houseboy 
and washerman; and Ning Ta Sao, the amah. I rebelled at 
having so many. Why did I have to have all these servants 
around? I soon found out. It took all morning for the cook 
to do the shopping; he had to bargain over the price of every 
egg. Our food bills would have been astronomical if I had 
attempted the bargaining. Li Ta Ke raised the vegetables for 
our table, did the errands in a different part of the city from 
the food market, bought light bulbs, carried mail, took notes 
to people in the city, was gateman, telephone and messenger 
between the hospital and the house. Chen Wu did the wash- 
ing and ironipg, and there was a lot of it during the hot season 
with Fred's daily uniforms; he did the cleaning and dusting 
and there was a lot of it during the dust storms. Ning Ta Sao 
looked after the children, 

Ning Ta Sao was an arrogant, uninhibited little woman 
who was a constant challenge to me because I simply could 
not stand her. As time went on, neither her disposition nor 
mine improved. 

"I feel terrible about this/' I told Fred. "Here I am a 
missionary and my attitude toward that woman is anything 
but Christian. I ought to love her she needs love; and I 

The Ancient Poem 35 

cannot bear to have her near me. What am I going to do?" 

"Let's face it," he replied. "You two are not tempera- 
mentally suited to each other. We'll get her another job. You 
will find that you can love her easily if she is a bit farther away 
from you." 

But I was not willing to fire her when I knew so well that 
the failure was not hers but mine. In a short time the problem 
solved itself. She ran off with a married man, and was soon 
happily settled as the proprietress of her "husband's" grain 

I struggled on without an amah, running home between 
classes at the hospital to see if everything was all right. Then 
one morning heaven opened. When I came into the garden 
on one trip from the hospital, a happy little woman with a 
pock-marked face was hanging diapers on the line. They 
were snow-white. 

"I hope you will not mind, Tai Tai," she said when she 
had taken a clothespin out of her mouth. "My name is Chang. 
I came to apply for work and while sitting idle waiting for you, 
I did this washing. I hope Tai Tai will not mind." 

Tai Tai did not mind at all! From that day on, Chang 
Ta Sao was a member of the family. 

A short while later, special services were being held in the 
church next door and Chang Ta Sao attended Christian wor- 
ship for the first time in her life. She came home with tears 
in her eyes. 

"I can't believe it, I can't believe it," she kept saying, "I'm 
only the Fourth Girl Child; I never even had a name. I'm a 
poor, poor woman that nobody knows, and yet Christ who 
is God died for me!" 

Then it was true. Those words could pierce the heart, could 
open a whole new world. It was a first experience for Chang 
Ta Sao, and for me; we were both overwhelmed by it. 

36 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

I envied Chang Ta Sao. Though it took her two years to 
memorize the few simple sentences in the catechism, she 
never tired of it. She would say the same thing over and over 
again as she leaned against the swing where First-Born was 
playing, pushing it back and forth with her swaying body, 
droning away the same words day after day. 

"I should think that you'd be so bored by now that you'd 
want to throw the book away/' I said to her one day. 

"Every time I read it, it seems more wonderful," she re- 
plied. "Doesn't it seem wonderful to you, too?" 

I wished fervently that it could mean that much to me. 

For I was having trouble with my soul again and at a time 
when I wanted to be thinking only the happiest of thoughts. 
Fred, First-Born and I, with Chang Ta Sao, traveled to Cheeloo 
University Hospital in Tsinan where Dr. and Mrs. Randolph 
Shields took us into their home to await the arrival of our 
Second-Born. After nine tranquil, radiant months, I was more 
depressed than I had ever been. 

"Even my faith is gone/' I told Fred. "If religion means any- 
thing, it should be a stand-by when you need it. My religion 
is no good to me at all. I am depressed when I ought to be 
happy, and I have not one ounce of courage left to face the 
labor ahead." 

"You're not in any position to judge your religion or any- 
thing else when you're not up to par physically," he said. 
"When this is all over and you are completely well, you can 
make your pronouncements. When you come right down to it, 
is there anything of importance in your past life that you 
would want changed?" 

I thought about it for a few minutes, wanting the answer to 
be a truthful one. 

"No, not one/' I said slowly. 

The Ancient Poem 37 

"Of course not/' he went on. "You admit that 'all things have 
worked together for good* in the past; there isn't any reason 
to suppose that they won't in the future. It's a good verse to 
hang on to." 

The onset of a difficult labor followed shortly after. With all 
my strength I clung to the verse he had given me. Then the 
blessed relief of the anesthetic, and my vision if vision is 
what one calls a more-than-dream. 

I was moving back in Time down a long, long road by 
the side of which the women of the ages were standing, pre- 
senting me with gifts held in their outstretched hands. The 
gifts were their suffering and pain. Because through the ages 
women had suffered, it was now possible for me to have my 
baby without pain. As I went back in Time, I knew beyond 
all doubt that God is. I felt sorry for people on earth who 
had to make an effort of faith in order to believe. Here in 
Reality there was no striving for belief; one simply knew. It 
was the greatest peace I have ever known. 

Then words began to swim into my consciousness stubby, 
blunt words through the haze of the anesthetic, and the 
doctor's voice: "She'll never get these shoulders through. . . ." 
And later, "Nurse, kao su Hsien Sheng shih i ke nan hai tze" 
"Tell the father it's a boy." 

We named him Carl Robert for Fred's father and for mine. 

"Two sons. You are blessed," said our Chinese friends when 
we got back to Tsining. 

"Honey, I want you to meet Mr. Yang Ping Nan, the Magis- 
trate from the county seat, Hsiang Wen," said my husband, 
coming in for his tea one afternoon. He ushered in a dynamic- 
looking gentleman wearing a loose-fitting foreign-style jacket. 

"I am honored to meet you," I said. 

"It's no honor, believe me," he replied in excellent English. 

38 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

"Wait until you see Hsiang Wen." 

The two men took out their pipes, exchanged brands of 
tobacco with the usual ritual, and settled down to talk. Chen 
Wu brought in the tea. 

'Til pour your tea and leave you to your discussion/' I said. 

"No, no, no. We want you to hear this," said the Magistrate, 
and launched into a vigorous recital of his plans for Hsiang 
Wen, punctuated by rapid puffs on his pipe. 

Mr. Yang had given up the chair of sociology in one of 
Peking's leading universities because he wanted to see if 
what he had been teaching in the classroom was applicable to 
the poorest county in the province. 

"Eventually our plan will take in fourteen counties/' he 
said. "You know the setup agrarian reform, mass education, 
flood control. . . . My immediate problem is to stamp out 
opium smoking. And here's where I need your help. Doctor, 
haven't you got something that will stop the horrible craving? 
I've arrested everybody caught smoking the stuff, men and 
women (that's why we want you to come too, Mrs. Scovel), 
and they are all going mad in the prison up there. You can't 
do this to people. Isn't there something you can give them?" 

"Yes, there are several methods being used/' Fred replied. 
"I'd like a chance to try out the one I read about just the other 
day in the Journal of the Chinese Medical Association" 

'Whatever it is, it will have to be cheap. I haven't much 
money for this program, and this item doesn't come under any 
category/' said the Magistrate, reaching for a homemade 

"Ml be cheap/' said Fred. 

Cantharides, the drug called for, could be purchased in- 
expensively in local medicine shops. This was ground to 
powder on a stone mill, mixed with vaseline fifty per cent 
by weight, and bandaged to a spot the size of a silver dollar 

The Ancient Poem 39 

on the patient's upper arm, the bandage to be left on overnight. 
By morning a large blister would have formed. With a hypo- 
dermic needle and syringe, the fluid from the blister would be 
withdrawn and injected into the patient's pectoral muscle. I 
could hardly believe that it would work, but Fred was eager 
to try it out. 

"How soon can you come?" asked the Magistrate. 'We'll 
need you at least three weeks." 

Til have to arrange for the children," I said. "The women 
on the compound will run in every day and Chang Ta Sao is 
wonderful with them. But it won't be easy to leave them for 
that long a time." 

"Fortunately the hospital isn't too full right now. Dr. Liu 
can carry on with the men and Dr. Kung with the women," 
Fred added. "How about Monday?" 

Mr. Yang Ping Nan certainly carried us along on the wave 
of his enthusiasm. 

"First I will take you to the museum/' said the Magistrate 
soon after our arrival at his headquarters. "Be careful as you 
step over the doorsill. I've collected all the stuff of historical 
interest and put it into this little room. Don't expect too much, 
but we do have a few good things. Confucius himself was 
once the Magistrate of Hsiang Wen. Here is one of his shoes." 
"Such a long shoe," I said. 'Was Confucius such a big man?" 
"Stop asking embarrassing questions," he replied. "How do 
you expect a cloth shoe to last two thousand years? Someone 
has to make a new one occasionally and every pattern must be 
taken from the last shoe made. Eventually Confucius will have 
been a giant. Just out here to the right is the mound where he 
stood when he preached to the people. I gave them a good talk 
from that spot myself the other day." 

I wanted to linger in the museum, to touch the bronzes 

40 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

that Confucius had touched, but we were swept along by this 
new day for Hsiang Wen and were powerless to stop long 
enough to discover what place the old might have in the think- 
ing of this present moment. Mr. Yang hurried us on toward 
the jail where the opium smokers were imprisoned, the 
women in one building, the men in another. 

"Here we are/' said the Magistrate. "I hope that treatment 
of yours works. These folks are pretty miserable." 

At first the patients took the treatment to be slow torture. 
It meant a sleepless night from the discomfort of the burn. But 
on the whole they were good sports about it and when they 
saw how the craving began to leave them after one injection, 
they accepted the plaster gratefully. After three or four in- 
jections they were well enough to be discharged, and the 
craving had left them never to return unless they deliberately 
went back to their opium smoking. Fred was delighted and 
so was the Magistrate. 

One morning after a delicious breakfast of crisp, fried cab- 
bage leaves dipped in beaten egg, hot cereal gruel and long, 
unsweetened crullers, Fred and the Magistrate went off on a 
trip to examine the widening of the dikes. I was left alone to 
change the dressings. Fred had applied the ointment to the 
men's arms the previous day while I was doing the women's 
section; this morning I was to take a look at the blisters to 
see how they were rising. Those in the women's ward were 
coming along nicely. 

By this time I knew the men pretty well, and when I en- 
tered their ward, I noticed that there were several newcomers 
in the group. I began the usual banter. "If you will get me a 
stepladder, Mr. Tall One, I will change your bandage." I 
was met with a sullen silence. Strange, I thought. They 
usually enjoy a laugh. Perhaps the dressings were more pain- 
ful than usual. It didn't take long to discover that the men 

The Ancient Poem 41 

had removed the dressings and had wound a layer of gauze 
around their arms with no medicine underneath. 

'What is the meaning of this?" I demanded sternly. "Are 
you babies that you are not willing to stand a little pain for 
your own salvation? You know that you will be executed if 
you are caught smoking again. The doctor has left a hospital 
full of sick patients to come out here to help you, and I have 
left my babies at home to give you my time so that your 
children will not have to suffer from this terrible habit of yours. 
And you big, strong men that you are will not even accept 
one night's pain to help yourselves. Stand up here, every one 
of you, and I will again apply the ointment." 

At night I went back to see the results. But I had had time 
to think, and by this time I was frightened. I remembered all 
Td been told about loss of moral integrity among opium ad- 
dicts; how, when thwarted, they would not stop at anything, 
even murder. Why hadn't I just backed out of the place that 
morning saying, "All right, all right," and left it for the men 
to take care of when they returned? No, I had to wax eloquent. 
Where were Fred and the Magistrate anyway? They should 
have been back before dark. 

The prisoners slowly surrounded me as I came into the 
room. One small kerosene lamp hung from the ceiling, making 
a circle of light on the clean straw covering the floor. There was 
not a smile on anyone's face as the men drew within that 
circle of light. 

They know the doctor and the Magistrate are away, I 
thought. They could finish me off in a minute and then 
say I never came into the prison. I looked at the guard at the 
door; he could have been my little boy, and . . . Oh, no! His 
gun was plugged with cotton, I remembered. No help from 
that direction. 

A huge man who seemed to be the leader stepped forward. 

42 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

"T'ai Tai," he began, "I have something to say to you/' 

This is it, I thought. 

'Tai T'ai, the men have asked me to speak to you. They 
want me to say that they are very sorry for what happened 
last night. After all that you and die doctor have done for us, 
we want to assure you that what happened last night will 
never happen again/' 

What a relief! The tension had snapped and we were all 
laughing. I thanked them for their cooperation, changed the 
dressings and got out as quickly as I could lest anyone change 
his mind. But not without giving them the farewell that 
never failed to amuse them "Pu sung, pu sung/' 

It is a delightful custom of the Chinese to accompany a 
guest out of the door to the main gate and then to walk with 
him some distance down the road, the guest all the while pro- 
testing, "Pu sung, pu sung don't bother to accompany me. 
I am not worthy of such honor." These prisoners, not being 
allowed to even approach their own door, took a wry pleasure 
in the parting words, "Don't bother to accompany me along 
the road/' 

By the time two weeks were up the Magistrate was complain- 
ing that the treatment was too successful. "These fellows are 
eating me out of house and home," he said, running his finger 
along the inside of the collar of his black uniform. "Their 
appetite had been so deadened by opium that they ate nothing 
at all when they first came in. Now they're hungry again and 
enjoying it. Look at old Wong. He's gained pounds." 

"Yes, the men are fine," Fred said. "I only wish that I could 
have had as much success with the women. They are so much 
harder to cure. That one old lady in the east wing is beating 
the wall with her hands and begging me to give her opium 
or kill her. Til try her on glucose injections today but it will 
cost you money, brother. 

The Ancient Poem 43 

"When you women go in for anything, you never do it 
halfway, do you, Honey?" he added, turning to me. 

In no time at all the three weeks were up. It would be 
so good to get back to the children, but we hated to leave 
the village of Hsiang Wen. We took a last walk around the top 
of the wall and watched the sun set over the rows of thatched 

Tm so glad you could be with me on this trip/' Fred said 
to me. "It's been interesting, hasn't it?" 

"Yes," I said, remembering the episode of the prisoners, 
"and I'm mighty glad to be going home with you, too. Do you 
think the children are all right?" 

"Sure to be with Chang Ta Sao looking after them," he 
assured me. 

Only one more night and I would be seeing them again. 
It must be bedtime for them now. Chang Ta Sao would be 
standing between their beds with her hands folded in prayer. 

"Cheemee, Kalo [her pet names for Jimmy and Carl], 
pi shang yen close your eyes. Wa men ts'ai t'ien shang ti 
Fu Our Father who art in heaven." Then sentence by 
sentence she would repeat the Lord's Prayer in her own 
language. They would tease her as usual by not saying amen 
until she had called each one of them by name. 

"Amen, Cheemee." 


"Amen, Kalo." 


During the summer of 1932, Evy Shields and I took the 
children to Peitaiho to escape the heat. So Fred was alone in 
the house when the cable came Father Scovel had died sud- 
denly from a heart attack. Fred shut himself in his room until 
Li Ta Ke, the gateman, knocked softly at the door and said, 

44 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

"Don't cry any more, Doctor. It's too hot." The logic of it made 
sense and Fred could face the world again, 

We urged Mother Scovel to come to China, and bravely 
she packed and sold and stored and came out to us; but she 
was determined not to be a burden. We were able to get a 
small house for her at the other end of the compound, since 
that was what she wanted, and she soon became Beloved 
Grandmother to the whole community. She taught English to 
hospital staff members and in the schools; her home was a 
haven to which we all turned; and she could read Browning 
and Thackeray to children and make the reading fascinating. 

One of her ministrations was to give up her little house, in 
December of 1933, and to move into ours to look after the 
family while I was at Cheeloo University Hospital for the 
birth of our first little girl, Anne Elizabeth, the Golden-Haired 
One. The big house was filling up. 

Beloved Grandmother often said that her mission in coming 
to China was to amuse the missionaries with her brand of 
Chinese. She learned to speak the language in her own fashion, 
to the amazement of our Chinese friends who wondered that 
such an ancient lady should even attempt study. She did 
remarkably well except for occasionally misplacing a word, 
as she did that evening after dinner when she said to her maid 
servant, "Big Sister Wu, go into the bedroom, open the top 
drawer, look into the left-hand corner and bring me the 
kindling wood/' 

With never a smile Wu Ta Sao did exactly as she had been 
told and returned with a small box of toothpicks! 

There were times when Beloved Grandmother and I had 
our difficulties, when our quiet disagreement left Fred puzzled 
and helpless. But if we did not always see eye to eye, we did 
see heart to heart. I wonder what we would have done without 
her. In addition to hospital work, there was that five years of 

The Ancient Poem 45 

language study to complete before furlough. For my classical 
examination I was translating a long poem of Po Chu Yi. How 
I mutilated that beautiful poem! After the examination had 
been passed, I found Arthur Waley's translation of it and tore 
mine into bits. 

And there was the daily teaching of the children to be done. 
For their first year they attended the Chinese kindergarten 
and had as their teacher a very pretty curly-haired Chinese 
girl who became my close friend. She was the only curly-haired 
Chinese I ever knew. Since there were no Chinese schools in 
Tsining that would prepare our children for school and life 
in America, I had to teach them myself. We had a classroom 
and went into it every morning at eight-thirty. We used the 
Calvert Course, a correspondence course sent out by the 
Calvert School in Baltimore. I knew nothing about teaching, 
but the instructions were so clear that "wayfaring men, though 
fools, need not err therein/' to use Beloved Grandmother's 
quotation from Isaiah. I stuck to my guns and saw each day's 
lesson completed before play could begin. Fred was amused 
by our being so conscientious and came in to snap a picture 
of Second-Born and me sitting up in bed with high fevers, 
Calvert books spread out before us. 

But the children had fun, too. The boys had a feud with the 
Li boys, the sons of a schoolteacher next door; the cook's 
children were "on our side." The feud necessitated much 
stalking through grass and running through gardens at top 
speed. The Golden-Haired One helped to roll out the dough, 
cook (and eat quantities of) the long, round noodles for the 
cook's table. 

One afternoon following an unusually tiring morning at the 
hospital, Fred and I went for a short walk in the nearby 
wheat fields. We came back refreshed, as we always did after 

46 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

a few moments out there in the quiet. As we entered the 
house we heard great thumping noises coming from the nursery 
overhead. In alarm we dashed for the stairs and reached the 
nursery door breathless. Nothing seemed amiss; there were 
our two innocent sons peering under the bed. What had 
caused all the noise? 

A huge, roly-poly figure in a cassock crawled slowly from 
under the bed with a toy truck in his hand and an embarrassed 
grin on his face. He looks just like Santa Glaus, I thought the 
same apple cheeks, the same benevolent rotundity, the same 
beatific, jolly smile. 

Our guest delivered the retrieved truck to First-Born before 
turning to us with a courteous explanation of his presence 
under our son's bed* He was Brother Linoldhus, a German 
lay brother from the Catholic monastery six miles north of 
Tsining; one of the priests was ill, and he had cycled over to 
ask Fred to visit him. Li Ta Ke had informed him that the 
doctor was absent but would soon return, so he had taken 
the opportunity to become better acquainted with the young 
men of the family. From the affectionate smiles with which 
the boys regarded him, it was obvious that he was already 

Brother Li, as he was always called by Chinese and 
foreigners alike, spoke to us in Chinese. We did not know 
any German and he did not know any English, Chang Ta Sao 
was highly amused that two foreigners had to speak Chinese 
in order to be understood by each other. Didn't they even 
know their own language? 

A continual flow of Chinese was coming from Brother 
Li now. 

"As I was coming through the village today, a smart young 
fellow called me a foreigner, I got off my cycle and called him 
over. The usual crowd gathered. Toung man/ I said, Tiow 

The Ancient Poem 47 

old are you?* Tm eighteen/ he replied. 'So, youVe been in 
this country only eighteen years and you call me a foreigner. 
I've lived in this country for over twenty years/ How the 
villagers laughed!" 

We liked this cheerful, friendly man as much as the boys 
did. That afternoon began a friendship that still endures. And 
although we had no intimation then of the dreadful years 
ahead, Brother Li was to be the instrument to bring us help 
when we needed it most. But that is a story that belongs to a 
later time. 

One never knew what a day would bring forth in that city 
so far from the stream of the world. A Chinese boy knocked 
at our front gate one morning with the message that Fred 
was needed at once; a foreigner was dying in the fur-buying 
place across the canal. 

"A foreigner?" the doctor asked. "Are you sure? There are 
no foreigners in Tsining except at our missions. Never mind. 
Ill be ready as soon as I pick up my bag." 

The boy had been right. The man, a White Russian, was 
dangerously ill with pneumonia. In those days before anti- 
biotics, nursing care was essential if he were to live; so Fred 
brought him home, and the whole family, including the 
children, nursed him back to health. From then on, the 
Russian fur-buyers would have turned the world upside down 
for us and even juggled it a while with Venus and Mars for 
our amusement. Fortunately they could speak English. They 
were a gay lot, those Russian boys, and the children loved them. 
Their laughter and rollicking music always made us feel as 
if a blast of clean, fresh wind had blown through the house. 

Oh, the wonderful dinners at the fur-buying warehouse, with 
all the food brought in from the port city liver paste, egg- 
plant fixed in a special way, caviar, salads, the table bearing 
up proudly under the weight of the elaborate hors d'oeuvres 

48 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

called "zakuska"! There would be hot borsch soup with a 
dollop of heavy cream floating upon its crimson surface, Kiev 
cutlets of pounded chicken breasts waiting to be pricked 
open with a fork to release the flow of hot melted butter, 
piroshkis (triangles of pastry filled with chopped savory meat 
and hard-boiled eggs), desserts, coffee and chocolate bonbons! 
Then the ride home under the brilliant stars, the sound of the 
rickshaw-puller's feet echoing hollowly against the boarded-up 
shops in the deserted streets. Our little dog, Ber-ber, barking 
with staccato insistence, would wake the gateman as we pulled 
up in front of the house. 

'Who is there?" the gateman would call sleepily. 

"Bandits! " my husband would reply in a gruff voice. The 
door would immediately be opened for us, 

I wonder how many children in the world have camphorwood 
boats sixty feet long to use as a playhouse. We certainly didn't 
know what we were getting into that day when Adopted 
Uncle Eames asked us casually, 'Wouldn't you like a nice 
wooden boat for your children to play with? You can have it 
for about fifty dollars." 

The boat in question had been used by the evangelistic com- 
mittee for reaching the floating population on the Grand 
Canal. It had never been an unequivocal success, tending to 
tip over in a high wind. There were two good-sized rooms in 
it, one of them with a small kitchen attached. The evangelistic 
committee, being short of funds and finding that the canal 
people could be reached as easily by wheelbarrow along the 
bank, had tried in vain to sell the boat. Its unseaworthiness 
was well known along the canal. Adopted Uncle Eames 
thought he had found a way out. 

It was not until after the purchase was a fait accompli that 

The Ancient Poem 4p 

we realized that the boat was fully half a mile away and in 
the canal. 

'Well take care of that/' said Adopted Uncle, who always 
took care of everything; who was our rock, our fortress, our 
bulwark of love. 

One night it rained, and the next morning the roads were 
covered with soft mud an inch deep. Sixty coolies hauled the 
boat out of the water, up the short incline and into the muddy 
road. Soon the "ayaho, ayaho" of their chant could be heard 
as they slid the huge bulk along the main thoroughfare. The 
children left the breakfast table to see what was happening. 

"Daddy, Mother, come quick! A boat on land! Why, look, 
it's stopping right in front of our house!" 

And then everyone looked at everyone else with a "Now, 
what?" expression on his face. The boat was far too wide to 
get through the front gate. Nothing to do but call Lao San 
and his workmen. While all the astonished traffic was held 
up in both directions, the front wall, twelve feet high and 
a foot thick, was torn down, and the boat slid across the wet 
grass to its final resting place under the trees. 

Not until some time later did we learn that the Christians 
of the community thought the doctor had had advance warning 
of a flood, as Noah had had. The doctor and his family 
would, of course, be spared because of this preparation. 

Not long after this, we actually had a flood, and though its 
waters never reached the city, its tragedy did. The Yellow 
Dragon was always bursting its bonds. Through the centuries 
the water had come down from the hills, depositing layer after 
layer of silt, so that now the floor of the river was many feet 
higher than the surrounding land. It could be kept in its 
channel only by high dikes. A few holes in one of these had 

50 The Chinese Ginger ]ar$ 

passed unnoticed, and now the whole countryside was flooded. 

We took a trip down the canal by boat to see the extent of 
the devastation. It could have been the ocean, except for the 
trees sticking their tops out of the water like growing celery. 
Villages, constructed entirely of mud brick, had been washed 

We took with us Mosely Eames, the teen-age son of 
Adopted Uncle. As the corpse of a man floated toward us, I 
did my best to divert the boy by pointing out a submerged tree 
on the other side of the boat. I thought I had succeeded. On 
the way back the same corpse, or another, came in sight. 

"You again, pal?" said Mosely quietly. 

Our city was the terminus of a branch line leading to the 
main railway. This was the outlet to safety for all the flooded 
area, and thousands of people collected at the railway station. 
Illness broke out, babies were born under freight cars, and 
our hospital was filled far beyond capacity. Fred and the 
hospital staff became a team that worked as one man. The 
challenge of the emergency called out the best in each member 
of the staff. For days nobody thought of sleeping. Fred had 
to insist that they take time out to eat. 

Nobody could guess how many months it would be before 
the waters would recede. The Yellow Dragon was in no 
hurry to decide where it would cut its new channel. Governor 
Han Fu Ch'u did an excellent job of moving each village as 
a unit to a place where it could make a fresh start. Each 
person's name was carefully written in a register as was the 
place where he had formerly lived and the place to which 
he was going. In this way friends and relatives did not become 
separated. The Governor provided food and transportation for 
the journey and even vacated a large section of his palace so 
that the refugees would have a stopping place en route to their 

The Ancient Poem 51 

After the waters had subsided, we heard the exciting and 
to me somewhat alarming news that Governor Han would 
make an official visit to the hospital to thank the doctor and 
his staff for all they had done. I did not have a notion of the 
protocol attendant upon a Governor's visit. I asked myself, 
"What would I do in America if a Governor came to call?" 
That didn't help a bit, and there was no one to ask. I would 
just have to pretend that the Governor was a stranger coming 
to town for an informal cup of coffee. Coffee it would be, with 
brownies and ice cream. I sent to the fish market for a cake 
of ice and we borrowed the biggest freezer on the compound. 
We had no idea how many there would be in the Governor's 

I had a few bad moments when I saw two truckloads of 
soldiers milling over the front lawn setting up machine guns. 
Did they all expect to be fed? Why were they setting up ma- 
chine guns, anyway? "To protect the Governor, of course/' the 
cook enlightened me. For a brief second I wondered what 
would happen if the Governor never came out of our house 
if he had a heart attack and died there. Suppose he should 
get acute food poisoning and collapse? Had the cook been 
careful not to get any of that dirty ice into the ice cream? 

The two boys were having a wonderful time with the sol- 
diers, who were showing them how to fire a machine 
gun! I had no time to make a tactful rescue; the Governor 
and six giant bodyguards in long silk Chinese garments were 
walking up the path and into the house with Fred. They were 
chatting away as if they had known one another for years. 
There would only be these seven to be fed. When they were 
seated, I gave a nod to the cook to come forward with the 
coffee tray. Standing in the doorway with his mouth wide 
open and his hands hanging limply at his sides, completely 

52 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

overawed at having such an august personage in the house, 
he could not move a step. 

I got up and did the serving myself. Apparently the 
Governor did not know I was in the room, so engrossed were 
he and Fred in their discussion of the flood. "More brownies, 
Governor Han?" I asked, passing him the plate. He took 

"And let me fill your cup." 

He passed it to me sideways without turning his head from 
my husband. He liked his ice cream, I could see that. I'd 
been a bit worried about it because most Chinese dislike any- 
thing made with milk or flavored with vanilla. I'd given this 
a heavy dose of maple and caramel. 

"Doctor, are you a Christian?" the Governor asked as he 
finished his coffee. "But of course you are. I do not need to 
ask that question. You wouldn't be doing what you are for my 
people if you weren't a Christian," 

As they rose to leave, the Governor said, "Doctor, I don't 
understand this at all. Most of the American men I know have 
to wait on their wives, but you seem to have this one pretty 
well in hand. Thank you both for everything, Good-by." 

"And I never gave you away at all," said Fred when we 
were back in the house. "I let the Governor go away without 
ever telling him the truth." 



"The passengers think you two are on your honeymoon/' said 
the stewardess. I cannot remember on which of the Dollar 
Line ships we were traveling from Shanghai to San Francisco 
for our furlough year at home after five years in China. 

"Our honeymoon! With three children?" I asked. 

"They think the doctor has been married before the 
children are all blonds and you have such black hair," she 
said. "And they think it is very generous of you to take your 
mother-in-law on your wedding trip!" 

It was June of 1936. We had had a spectacular send-off 
at the railway station in Tsining, with flags and banners and 
even a band which tootled its songs as we said good-by to our 
friends. It stopped playing long enough for the school children 
to sing their farewell song. The Chamber of Commerce was 
there to a man to express their appreciation for what the 
hospital had meant to the community. (We had been sur- 
prised to find a full-fledged Chamber of Commerce in 
Tsining.) It was hard to say good-by. These had been such 
rewarding, happy years that we hated to leave. 

But America is a wonderful country too! We hadn't realized 
how wonderful it was until we came into it after six years 
away. There was hot running water, crisp celery, smooth roads, 
and comfortable cars in which to ride over them. There were 


54 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

rolling hills, clean villages with tall white spires catching the 
sun. We could sit together as a family in church instead of 
separating at the door for the men's side and the women's side. 
There were friends who had known us all our lives. There 
were family and home. My beloved father and mother were 
suddenly converted into my children's grandparents, who 
scolded us for not being strict enough with them and then 
spoiled them outrageously themselves. 

The year passed quickly. Fred attended clinics at Cornell 
University, taking a course in X-ray diagnosis to help him in 
one of our major medical problems, tuberculosis; and he was 
buying equipment for the hospital. I was buying shoes for 
the seven years ahead; patronizing every counter of the five- 
and-ten; buying bolts of cloth for pajamas, underwear and 
curtains, and yards of dress material for the Golden-Haired 
One and me. The winter clothes could wait. I always knitted 
dresses and suits for the children each winter, and yam for 
these could be picked up in Japan on our way back. 

There were days when the newspapers made us wonder if 
we would ever get back to China. Remembering my qualms 
of five years ago, it seemed ironical that now I had to pray that 
I might be willing to remain in America if that turned out to 
be God's will for us. I did not even try to defend myself when 
friends said, "You are crazy to take those children out there 
at a time like this." There was no explaining the deep com- 
pulsion in any way that would make sense. 

But we got off, and Beloved Grandmother was with us, 
willing to face whatever might come. 

While we were still on shipboard, it was announced that 
the Japanese army had landed at Shanghai. We could take 
our choice of getting off the ship at Japan or going on to 
Hong Kong. There seemed a slight chance that we could 

The Gourd 55 

obtain passage from Japan directly to our province, Shantung, 
so we disembarked at Kobe. 

But we did not get away from Japan as easily as we had 
hoped. We spent futile weeks trying to obtain passage and 
permission to travel. The Presbyterian missionaries took us 
into their homes, though it cast suspicion upon them for 
harboring such close friends of their enemy, China. The David 
Martins loaned us their dear little house at the foot of Mount 
Fujiyama for several weeks. 

What a gem of a country Japan is! It was here that Fred 
first began to work with pastels. One of our neighbors, a China 
missionary refugee too, would go off into the woods each 
morning with her box of chalks and a pad of paper, and come 
home at night with her achievement for the day. 

"Look at this one/* she would say, laughing. "Did you ever 
see such a tree?" We hadn't. "But you have no idea what it 
has done for my morale/' she would add. 

As the days wore on and Fred became more and more frus- 
trated at not being able to get back to his work, I suggested that 
he, too, might take up drawing. 

"Me, draw?" he protested. "Never. When I was in school 
I got my poorest grades in drawing/' But I sent to Tokyo for 
the materials. 

One rainy day I said to him, "Go upstairs and take a look 
at Fujiyama. It's just peeking its head above the clouds. And 
here, take these with you. Not one bite of dinner do you get 
until you have put something on paper/' 

We were both surprised at the results. To some discrim- 
inating individuals his painting might have appeared a very 
amateur attempt, but to me it was as if he himself had created 
the beautiful, snowcapped mountain. 

Back at Kobe we made every attempt to get on to China. 

56 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

Reluctantly we decided that Fred would have to go on alone 
and leave the rest of us in Japan. He talked it over with a 
friend in the United States consulate, and though nothing 
official was said, there was a sympathetic understanding of 
Fred's desire to get back to his hospital. The first step was to 
secure a passport for himself alone all five of us were now 
included in his. Great care had to be exercised because the 
true reason for obtaining separate passports could not be told. 
No official sanction could be given to a civilian for taking 
himself into the middle of a war. 

We two walked into the office of an undersecretary that 
gray, drizzling afternoon, feeling the burden of the separation 
before us. I sat down on one side of the room and Fred on 
the other. We could not trust ourselves even to look at each 

"Name? Age? Which one of you will have the children? 
Have you ever been divorced before?*' 

Divorced? The ludicrousness of the situation dawned on us. 
The secretary thought we were seeking a divorce! Well, she 
would just have to go on thinking it. 

Not many days later, when the clouds were so thick that I 
couldn't even see the ship in the bay, Fred stepped into a little 
gray cutter and was taken out to sea, the long V of ripples 
widening the distance between us. I watched the small boat 
disappear into the wall of mist and wondered if the children 
and I would ever see him again. 

Barbara Hayes, another China missionary refugee, and I 
kept trying to find passage for our families. It did not look as 
if the war would end in the near future and we decided that, 
come what may, we were going back to our homes in China. 
Together we walked the streets, going from one office to 
another. At last we persuaded one company to take us on 
board the Havel, a little German freighter. The captain did not 

The Gourd 57 

like missionaries and was perturbed when he found that some 
twelve of us were booked to travel with him. 

It had not been easy to manage alone the passage, visas, 
finances, children and Beloved Grandmother. I hadn't realized 
how much I had come to depend upon Fred for everything, 
especially for thinking out loud to. We hadn't heard from 
him in weeks. The newspapers in Japan had repeatedly told 
of the bombing and complete demolition of our city, Tsining. 
It was the repetition in the papers of the term "complete 
demolition*' that gave us hope. Too many "complete demoli- 
tions" couldn't mean accurate reporting. But the question 
remained, where was he? Would he get our message? Would 
he be on the dock to meet us? 

It took seventeen days to make what was ordinarily a 
three-day journey. In spite of Germany's being an ally of 
Japan, the ship was held up by the Japanese authorities at 
every port. Sometimes we were held in quarantine several 
days before being allowed to proceed into the harbor. The 
passengers became one family, and the distraught captain an 
anxious father to us all. 

But at last we did put into port at Tsingtao, and Fred was 
on the dock to meet us; and he had brought Chang Ta Sao with 
him. By some miracle our cable had reached him. Though 
he could stay with us only a few days, we took comfort in 
being in the same country together. We decided reluctantly 
that, for the present, it was best for the family to remain in 
Tsingtao rather than to risk the dangers of the road while 
armies were on the move. We were able to rent a house 
and we unpacked our Lares and Penates and set up a new 
home. Then Fred went back to Tsining to continue his hospital 
work. He did not open our big house, but made himself as 
comfortable as he could in Beloved Grandmother's smaller 

58 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

one. Letters were frequent and we settled down to the long 
winter ahead. 

It was late November when I received his telegram: 


"He must want me to buy ether and bring it in to him/' I 
said to Beloved Grandmother. "There is no other way to get 
it into the interior; but I just don't see how I can do it. How 
can I leave the children and you at a time like this?" 

"If it is right for you to go, the way will open/* Beloved 
Grandmother replied. "Chang Ta Sao and I will look after 
the children with no trouble at all. Only do come back for 
Christmas, both of you. That will give you more than three 
weeks there." 

"Don't worry; we'll be here for Christmas! I said. 

I went from shop to shop, buying a can of ether here and 
another there. I also bought Christmas presents for the 
children and wrapped them in gay kite paper at odd moments. 
I was determined to be back with them for Christmas, but so 
many things could happen. At least they'd have their presents. 

Supplies were not coming in and ether was hard to find. 
I finally collected a suitcase full of it. The next step was to 
get on a train. All of China was on the move. Crowds of 
refugees clung to the sides and covered the roof of each train. 
People were traveling in both directions in toward the line 
of battle and out to the coast again. They seemed to feel they 
were safe as long as they were moving. 

We were only a few miles outside of Tsingtao when the 
train screeched to a jerking stop. At once the myriad passengers 
started to shove and claw their way out of the windows; all 
exits were jammed. I didn't understand what was going on but 
I had to protect that ether from damage. Whether or no, I 

The Gourd 59 

was swept along with the refugees who swarmed down the 
sides of the train and scattered over the fields to cast them- 
selves flat in any available ditch. As I threw myself down along- 
side the suitcase of ether, fear and understanding reached me 
at the same moment: Japanese bombers were flying low 

Finally the engine tooted, and there was an equally mad 
scramble to get on again before the train started. A few miles 
farther on the same thing occurred: the jarring halt, the frantic 
rush. This time I sat still. I thought it safer for the ether and 
for me to avoid the jam. Again and again the train came to a 
stop and each time I had the luxury of a few moments of space 
around me, tinged with the thought, however, that I was a sure 

After an all-day ride, the train pulled into Tsinan, where I 
had to make connections for Tsining. I battled my way out of 
the station and selected a rickshaw from the crowd of them 
that hemmed me in. It took me across town to the other rail- 
way station. Here people were packed in a radius a half mile 
deep around the building all of them waiting and hoping 
for transportation. I could not move forward one inch through 
the mass. 

In desperation I told the man ahead of me that wounded 
Chinese soldiers would die if I did not get through to them 
with the medicine I carried, and asked him to pass the word 
through the crowd to the station master. I don't know what the 
message sounded like by the time it got to him, but eventually 
he came out with a squad of policemen. People were un- 
willing to give up their places so the policemen had to take 
small rope cords and strike at the people on either side to make 
a pathway to the train. 

The policemen lifted me into the baggage car; it was 
crammed with soldiers but again they beat a path through 

60 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

to a seat for me. I sat bolt upright on the hard bench with 
the suitcase of ether in my lap, completely immobilized by 
the soldiers jammed close on either side, and went sound 
asleep. When I wakened the train was under way. A soldier 
was asleep against my right shoulder, another on my left 
shoulder, one across each knee, and two across my feet. 

"At last/' I said to myself, Tve solved the problem of how 
to keep warm on a train/' 

From time to time someone would wake up and start a 
conversation with me. The soldiers could not understand why 
I was traveling alone under such circumstances in order to 
help them. Why should anyone care whether they lived, 
suffered or died? 

"Brother, please do not smoke in here/* I would say to them. 
"Please do not smoke near this suitcase. It is filled with ether 
and may explode," 

'What difference does it make, Tai Tai, to be blown up 
here or a few days later on the battlefield?" 

"One very big difference, brother. I shall not be with you on 
the battlefield!" 

Wonderful, wonderful people! They could always laugh. 
They had learned, over the long centuries, never to take 
themselves, or life, too seriously. 

I had wired Fred when I began the journey, and he met 
me the next morning at Yenchow, the nearest railway station 
on the main line. With unutterable relief I handed over the 
ether. Our city had not yet fallen, Japanese newspaper reports 
to the contrary notwithstanding. As we rode across the flat 
plain with its fields sprouting winter wheat, Fred outlined 
his plans. 

"You know the rumors we are hearing about the on-coming 
army. They may be true and they may not, but the young 
girls in the nursing school are afraid and want to go inland to 

The Gourd 61 

safety. I can hardly keep them here against their wishes. But 
the Boys' School at Tenghsien has closed and the boys have 
come home. Do you suppose you could take some of the most 
promising of those boys and give them a short nurses' aid 
course? Then well put them on the wards and teach them as 
they go. A few of the older nurses have family responsibilities 
and can't leave. Well put them on the women's wards, and 
the boys can work with the men. With all these wounded, 
most of the patients are men anyway. What do you think?" 

"It sounds like a very good idea," I said. "But what about 
the children and Grandmother? I promised we'd both be 
there for Christmas." 

"Yes, I know. . . . Well, we'll see what we can do in the 
next three weeks, and if there is any possibility at all, we'll 
try to get out for Christmas. If not, you'll have to go back 
alone and . . . but I can't let you do that." 

Somehow or other the work was accomplished. The boys 
were given the fundamentals and an older nurse instructed on 
how to carry on. We even managed to work in a birthday 
party for Fred, inviting a few friends from the city. It was 
an evening to be remembered. We sat around the fire singing 
Christmas carols, each in his own language; the old German 
woman and her son singing "Silent Night, Holy Night," the 
Chinese singing it softly in Chinese, the Americans humming 
softly too all of us with our eyes on the German woman's 
beautiful face, as her still lovely voice rose above the rest. 

And then it was time to take the journey back to the 
children. What a trip the two of us had! We climbed in and 
out of train windows, were carried along by the surge of 
crowds, ate whatever scant food we could find along the way. 
But we made it! We arrived in Tsingtao on the evening of the 
twenty-first of December. 

Since the Christmas gifts were already bought and wrapped, 

6z The Chinese Ginger Jars 

we planned to use these last few days making popcorn balls 
with the children, melting old candles into wax stars with 
wicks (for the Adopted Aunts and Uncles), and decorating 
the house. We sank exhausted into bed, expecting a long 
night's sleep. 

But I could not sleep. At first I thought it was because I was 
overtired; but gradually I realized a firm, insistent urging, as if 
God were trying to speak to me. 

"Get up. Leave the city at once, all of you. You are to go 
back to Tsining to your home. Now/' 

This is just plain silly, I said to myself. Who would dream 
of taking the children and Beloved Grandmother directly into 
the line of battle? Why, I couldn't face the trip myself after 
these last days on those awful trains! 

But long before morning, I knew that I would have to wake 
Fred and tell him. No, I wouldn't have to wake him. 

"You know," he said, "I have the strangest feeling, a strong 
compulsion that we must all get out of this city and go back 
to Tsining children, Mother, all of us. It seems crazy. You 
know I'm not like you, seeing visions and dreaming dreams; 
but this is it and there is no doubt about it." 

"I know/' I replied. "It's like Lot at Sodom, only this time 
the wife is not going to be turned into a pillar of salt. Fm sure 
that we must go/' 

Beloved Grandmother did not seem at all surprised when 
we told her. Had she, too, had a vision? Once again she was 
ready to disrupt a peaceful life and to go with us into danger. 
We found that she could go by a special train that had just 
been put on, for which we would be able to buy reservations. 
We telephoned the two "ladies" from our station, Miss Christ- 
man and Miss Stewart. They, too, had been waiting at Tsing- 
tao for an opportunity to go back to their work, and hadn't 
heard about the special train. (The unmarried women of the 

The Gourd 63 

station were always called 'ladies" by the children to distin- 
guish them from "mothers" who were not "ladies"!) 

We worked all day packing. We put the children's Christ- 
mas gifts in a separate suitcase, for it looked as if we would 
spend Christmas on the road. We went to the landlord, who 
was convinced that we were insane; we got Beloved Grand- 
mother and the ladies off on the train; we wired young Adopted 
Uncle, Deane Walter, who was already in our mission station, 
to meet them with his car at the railway junction. We learned 
later that that train was the last one to leave Tsingtao for many 

Fred and I, the children, and Chang Ta Sao were going to 
attempt a cross-country trip of something under seven hundred 
miles in order to take with us the Ford truck a friend in 
America had given us for use as an ambulance. Before day- 
light on the twenty-third we started out, the children excited 
with the new adventure. Chang Ta Sao was sure that she was 
going to be seasick all the way. She was. 

Looking back on it, I can remember only snatches of the 
journey, as one recalls a bad dream. We went through a wind- 
ing river eight times, never knowing how deep the water in the 
middle of the stream might be. The truck had double wheels 
in back; we crossed one bridge that was only as wide as the 
inner wheels so that we bump-bump-bumped over the stumps 
of piles that held the bridge. We spent the night at Ichowfu, 
another of our mission stations, with Katherine Hand. Kathe- 
rine could hardly have been more surprised when we drove up 
to her gate. She hadn't seen one of her own countrymen for 

In spite of Katherine's entreaties and the temptation to spend 
Christmas with her, we hurried off early next morning for 
another grueling day across the level plain. (The plain was 
level enough but the road was anything else but.) At dusk 

fy The Chinese Ginger Jars 

snow began to fall, and by dark we found ourselves behind a 
column of inarching soldiers whom we took to be Japanese. 
We were afraid to ask. Apparently the soldiers thought that 
the truck was part of their own unit, for they paid no attention 
to us. The marching file eventually turned off. Some time 
later the road petered out and became a small village. As a 
last straw the truck slid into a deep hole previously used by 
the village animals as a wallow. 

I often wonder what the villagers thought when that 
snorting monster of a truck came to such an abrupt halt at 
the edge of their village that cold winters night, and such 
queer-looking people piled out into their street. Exactly as 
we would feel if a spaceship from Mars landed on Main Street 
in River Bend, I suppose. No white person had ever been in 
the village before. 

"Hsiao h'ar che ma pang, lien che ma pei," the villagers said 
as they crowded around us. ("So fat the children, so white 
their faces!") 

'Where have you come from and what do you want here?" 
a thin-mustached old gentleman asked Fred. 

"Ni kan. Ta ti t'ou fa ch'uan pei la!" "Just look/' said a 
young girl carrying a baby, "the litde girl's hair has all turned 

"It isn't white, it's like gold thread," said a woman who 
might have been the girl's mother, "and it's all in little circles. 

She pulled out a ringlet from the Golden-Haired One's 
head, and was delighted when it snapped back into a tight 
curl. At once everyone, young and old, wanted to try it. I 
had all I could do to keep my daughter from being frightened 
as I held her in my arms. Fortunately she was a very outgoing, 
friendly child and rather enjoyed being the center of attention; 
but the crowd almost smothered us. 

The Gourd 6$ 

Fred asked for oxen to pull the truck out of the wallow, 
but all their animals had been commandeered by the army. 
He and a few of the men went off to the surrounding villages 
to see if they could find some oxen. The other villagers pressed 
closer, feeling our clothing and pinching the children's cheeks. 
The questions they asked were endless; and we were so tired. 

At last a motherly looking woman came out of her house, 
took in the situation at a glance, and having elbowed the 
people out of her way, swept the three children into her 
capacious arms. 

"Come into my miserable hovel/* she said to us. "Here, Tai 
T'ai, sit down on the bed. Boy, get some straw for the fire. I'll 
have some soup ready in no time. You are so cold and hungry." 

She called it a miserable hovel; but she said the words as 
a queen would say them, asking you into her palace. A palace 
could not have seemed more inviting. 

Fred didn't come back and we grew even more tired and 

The night wore on. I sat on the board bed with the weary 
children and could not keep from crying. First-born, puzzled 
at this phenomenon, crawled over beside me and whispered, 
"Don't cry, Mother. Everything will be all right. God will take 
care of us." 

Finally Fred returned with the news that no oxen were avail- 
able anywhere. What were we to do? The village men were 
not easily thwarted. They put their backs to the huge, awk- 
ward vehicle and by sheer manpower lifted it out of the 
muddy pit and wheeled it into the road. 

"Shall we stay here the rest of the night?" Fred asked. "The 
villagers want us to spend the night here and go on in the 
morning. We are about five hours from home, if nothing else 
stops us. One of the men has offered to go with us to show us 
the way." (When our guide returned to his village he had a 

66 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

Bible and other reading material for the village schoolteacher 
to read to them all.) 

'Well, what do you say? We'll do whatever you want/' 
said my husband. 

It was not difficult to see that he was longing to get out on 
the road again, to finish this ghastly journey and see us all 
safe at home. 

"Let's go on/' I said. 

"But not until you have had some of this hot soup/' said our 
hostess, dipping a gourd ladle into the simmering kettle. The 
light from the fire caught the satiny sides of the gourd as the 
soup, with its hot chunks of sweet potato, slipped into the 
heavy porcelain bowls. Never was hospitality more gratefully 

At last we said our good-bys, after expressing our gratitude 
as best we could, and started out with our guide on the final 
lap of our journey. Aside from having to get the magistrate 
out of bed to give us permission to go through one walled 
city, nothing untoward happened; and not long before dawn, 
the car turned in at the mission compound. It was Christmas 

Christmas morning and home, with Beloved Grandmother 
and Stella Walter there to welcome us! Stella had opened the 
house, had it thoroughly cleaned, taken all the furniture out 
of the storeroom and arranged it exactly as it had been the year 
before. The beds were made and, joy of all joys, she had put 
up a Christmas tree and decorated it! We opened the suitcase 
full of Christmas gifts and laid them under the shining tree 
to be unwrappeH later that morning. 

Tired and thankful, thankful, thankful, we all fell into bed. 

A few days later, Fred came back from the hospital with a 
strange look on his face joy? bewilderment? wonder? 

The Gourd 67 

"What is it?" I asked. 

Tve just learned/' he told me quietly, "that the Chinese 
have begun to plow up the roads we came over; they're plant- 
ing them with winter wheat so that the enemy won't find 
any road at all. If we hadn't come the day we did, we could 
never have made it." 



Three weeks later our city fell to the Japanese. I had been 
doing the rounds of the hospital one afternoon, chatting with 
the patients and giving each one a flower. Even the men liked 
to hold a blossom in their hands. 

Now I noticed that the planes were zooming lower and 
lower, and that the sound of the guns was getting louder and 
louder. One deafening detonation must surely have awakened 
the children from their naps. I hurried out of the hospital and 
saw that planes were strafing the courtyard and the roads 
nearby. Keeping close to the high compound walls, I reached 
the street and ran as fast as I had ever run. From the sound 
I thought thousands must be running behind me, and I turned 
to see that I was leading the retreat of what seemed to be the 
whole Chinese army. Well, they would have to continue with- 
out my leadership. I slipped in at the gate of our compound, 
negotiated the open space between the street wall and the 
house, and arrived, breathless, in the front hall just as the 
children were coming sleepily down the stairs. 

Try to keep life normal for them, I thought. 

"Let's have some fun this afternoon. Let's take a plate of 
cookies and some books and go down into that little cellar 
room that Daddy has built for us to play in." It was a bomb- 
proof shelter we hoped. 

I am not sure the children had ever been fooled by my 

6 9 

70 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

efforts over the last weeks to keep things normal to continue 
with school every day, to move casually to some other place 
in the house when the bullets started to come through the 
windows. I have a suspicion that they, too, played the game, 
because they didn't want me to be frightened. Now they ami- 
ably agreed that playing in the little room would be fun. 

The cook's wife and children were already in the cellar. 
We sat on the floor and told stories, first in Chinese and then 
in English, lifting our voices in what First-Born called a 
"quiet roar" in order to be heard above the noise of the guns 
outside. We ate cookies and waited. We had no way of telling 
which way the battle was going. Once I came upstairs and 
found the cook standing in an open doorway watching the 
progress of the fray. 

"Hu Shih Fu, come down into the cellar with us. It's dan- 
gerous here," I said to him. 

"Never mind, Tai Tai, pu yao chin. I'm all right here. . . . 
Ai yah! What was that?" 

"That was a bullet through your hat, Hu Shih Fu. Now 
will you come down with us?" 

The battle lasted only three hours. It seemed like three 
years. The din grew so terrible that all I could think was, "If 
only the noise would stop! Let them come in. Let them take 
the city anything to have it quiet again." 

But when the battle closed we were stunned by the ominous 
silence that fell upon the city. The next morning there was 
a Japanese flag flying from every shop front. 

It was a strange feeling to be "the enemy" completely at 
the mercy of an army that had been promised the freedom 
of the city and who took unspeakable advantage of that free- 
dom. But the American flag was still respected by the Japanese, 
and at least for the time being, our compound and the people 
in it remained unmolested. Thousands of men, women, and 

The Grape 7 l 

children flocked into the compound for refuge, and it was 
heartbreaking to have to turn away the thousands more for 
whom there was no room. 

We did our best to provide shelter for the refugees. Most 
of them had been able to bring food with them. Sanitation 
was the major problem; Fred realized that an epidemic in the 
crowded compound would threaten the refugees with perhaps 
even more danger than there was from the enemy outside. 
Deane Walter was in charge of the committee who collected 
able-bodied men to erect hasty shelters and make bore-hole 
latrines, and try to control the myriad flies. We lacked sprays 
in anything approaching the amount needed, so an offer was 
made to the children: three pennies for a hundred flies. Dead 
flies. The response was so overwhelming and the weather so 
hot that Deane found it impossible to count the corpses of 
the disintegrating insects, and quickly changed the offer to 
three pennies an ounce. 

Military victory can be a terrible thing an evil, corrupting, 
fear-generating horror. As we walked the streets from our 
compound to the Baptist mission to see how our friends there 
had fared during the battle, evil was so palpable in the air 
that you could almost reach out and touch it. Half the shops 
were closed and the best wares buried lest they be confiscated, 
but saki must have been available by the barrel. Drunken 
soldiers roamed the streets. Women, no matter how old, hid 
out in the fields at night, so a shopkeeper told us. I could not 
believe it and thought he was exaggerating the danger, but 
the day came when I, a Christian missionary, was glad to see 
that the army had shipped in a trainload of prostitutes. Poor, 
hard, unhappy little girls! 

There were those among the Japanese, officers and soldiers, 
who hated the whole situation as much as we did more, 
perhaps, because it was closer to them. Our compound, our 

72 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

home, was a comparative lake of peace in this morass of mud. 
Many times a day the doorbell would ring and our few words 
of Japanese would make a soldier welcome. But I never heard 
the clomp of army boots upon the stone walk without a mo- 
ment of fear. 

At the beginning this feeling of fearful uncertainty was al- 
most overwhelming. What was happening? What was going 
to happen? What was the rest of the world doing? Did our 
families at home know what had happened to us? We could 
learn little of real fact, although there were constant rumors. 
One recurring rumor was that the Chinese army was about 
to recapture the city. Certainly we could hear continual firing 
in the outskirts of the city and there were times when the 
guns sounded much closer. But the weeks passed and nothing 
happened. We gradually grew accustomed to having the 
soldiers drop in, and began to take the firing for granted. 

In an effort to keep up morale and to break the monotony 
of our restricted life, we celebrated every celebratable occasion 
and some that are not ordinarily considered so. We had al- 
ways been a station that made the most of any opportunity 
to have a party the anniversary of someone's coming to 
China, engagement anniversaries as well as wedding anniver- 
saries, everyone's birthday including George Washington's, 
which was celebrated by an Early-American fancy dress din- 
ner and St. Patrick's Day. The same scanty food would be 
served, but it was a challenge to cook it or serve it just a bit 
differently; and it gave us a chance to be together, to hear 
Adopted Uncle Eames tell his jokes, and to exchange the 
latest rumors. 

One day, six months after the city had fallen, I was dressing 
for a luncheon party the Walters were giving to celebrate 
Stellas birthday. Bertha Smith, the children's Adopted-Aunt- 
from-across-the-city, had come in from the Baptist mission and 

The Grape 73 

was sitting in the bedroom with me. I remember I was tying 
the bow at the neck of my yellow cotton maternity dress when 
the sound of a shot zinged through the air. 

"That must be near here/' I commented. But gunfire was 
so commonplace that we went on talking without a second 
thought. Another shot crumpled the quiet. 

"Fred will probably be late to lunch," I said. "He's so busy 
at the hospital now. But there is still plenty of time, isn't 

It was then that we heard the gateman's wife lumbering up 
the stairs in a great effort of speed. She threw open the door 
and stood there quivering. 

"They've shot the doctor and we can't find his body!" she 
blurted out. (She told me later that she had insisted she be 
the one to tell me because she would break it to me gendy. 
"After all, one needed to be careful," she said, "... in your 

In her crude way she did break it to me gently because I 
didn't believe her. I did not believe her at all. "Now, Li Ta 
Sao, just because you have heard shots near the hospital, it 
doesn't mean that the doctor has been hurt. You are always 

The gateman appeared in the doorway. "Please, Teacher- 
Mother/' he said gently, "will you go and see?" 

As soon as we reached the street, I knew that it was true. 
Not a word was spoken, but people were looking at me with 
such compassion in their faces. At the hospital gate I faltered; 
could I go on? Bertha caught my arm fiercely. "Come," she 
said. "God can take care of this, too." 

Stella Walter met us at the door. She had come over as soon 
as she had heard the second shot. I looked at her mutely, and 
she answered my unspoken question, "He is alive. He was 
shot in the back and the bullet went all the way through his 

74 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

body. Dr. Rung is with him* She cannot tell yet how badly 
he is hurt/' 

As we hurried up the stairs she told me briefly what had 
happened. A drunken Japanese soldier had come into the 
hospital courtyard waving a gun and looking for nurses. (The 
gun wasn't loaded, but nobody knew that then.) Fred and 
a few of his staff had gone out to stop him. Two of the boys 
in the nursing course took the gun away from the man; an- 
other went out into the street to find a soldier on duty who 
would taken the drunken one away. But the soldier from the 
street, either misunderstanding the situation or interpreting 
it as a slur on the Japanese army, drew his own gun and forced 
the boys to return the weapon to the drunken soldier. Then 
he immediately left the compound. 

By this time the drunken soldier was furious. He put a clip 
of five bullets into the gun. He singled out Fred, perhaps 
because he looked different from the rest taller and wearing 
his white uniform and motioned with the gun for him to 
lead the way to the women's quarters. Fred stepped into the 
path, thinking to guide him to the back gate and out into the 
street. The rest of the group scattered. 

Fred was about fifteen feet ahead when the soldier shot 
him. A second bullet went wide of its mark because Fred had 
fallen into a flower bed. ("Not fallen" he protested to me 
later. "I knew I'd been shot, and people usually lie down when 
they're shot. The flower bed looked like a nice, soft place.") 

As he lay there, the berserk soldier came and stood over 
him, with three bullets left in his gun. (Even now I am weak 
with the miracle of it. "God sent an angel to touch that gun/' 
said Brother Li later.) The soldier aimed at Fred's head and 
pulled the trigger. Drunk as the man was, he could not miss, 
but the gun did not go off. People who know those Japanese 
guns tell us that they never jam not even when they are hot 

The Grape 75 

from having been fired all day. Again the soldier tried, and 
again; finally he wandered off into the street. After a few 
moments Fred was able to lift himself and walk into the hos- 
pital that was why his body could not be found. 

It was typical of him that, with two first-class rooms empty, 
he had put himself to bed in the third-class ward with the rest 
of his patients. I went over to him, afraid of myself and of 
making a scene in front of that roomful of sick. "How are 
you?" I said. "Will you be ... all right?" 

His face was flushed and his eyes showed the strain, but 
he answered quietly, "We won't know for a few hours yet. 
But don't worry. Please, honey, don't worry." 

The external bleeding had almost stopped, but there was no 
way to tell whether the liver had been damaged. We might 
need surgical help and need it badly and Fred was the only 
surgeon. I did what I could to make him comfortable, as 
cheerfully as possible, but underneath I was desperate. I had 
to be alone for a minute to get hold of myself and to say a 
fervent prayer in private. 

As I opened the door, I saw a beautiful sight: Lay Brother 
Li was bounding up the hospital stairs. "Is it true?" he gasped, 
out of breath. "Will he. . . ?" 

"Yes, it is true," I said. "As to the rest, it is in God's hands. 
We won't know for at least twenty-four hours whether he is 
safe from internal hemorrhages." 

'What can I do for you? I was on my way to the city." 

"You can take the message out. Get it to the nearest Ameri- 
can consul if you possibly can." 

I seized some blank temperature charts and wrote a report 
of the incident, ending with the plea, "Please send help as 
soon as you can. There is no other surgeon within this area 
of five million people." (Our Chinese surgeon had fled to 
West China a month earlier because he did not feel that he 

j6 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

could work under the Japanese.) 

I quickly folded the papers and gave them to Brother Li. 
"Do get this out as soon as you can/' 

"Depend upon me. God give you courage/' he said, and 
hurried down the stairs, rucking his cassock around his portly 
waist as he went out to pick up the bicycle he had dropped at 
the door. There was something very comforting in the sight. 

Someone had gone for Beloved Grandmother, whose little 
house was at the opposite end of the compound. Later our 
wonderful friend, Dr. Kung, who stood staunchly by us 
through it all, remarked, "I never realized before what the 
long heritage of being a Christian through many generations 
meant. Mother did not come in screaming or wailing, as we 
would have done. She went to him smiling, and took his hand. 
None of us could have done that." 

As I sat beside the bed, looking across at Beloved Grand- 
mother, we were overwhelmed with wave after wave of 
gratitude that he was still alive. And, too, it was so like God 
to have sent Lay Brother when He did. Now there was hope 
that another doctor would arrive. 

I watched Fred's respiration: the pulse held strong. No 
sign of internal bleeding yet. (God, O God, don't let any- 
thing happen to him!) Suddenly I remembered the children. 
I must tell them before anyone else had a chance to. I told 
Fred where I was going and that I would hurry back. 

I was too late. Precious old Chang Ta Sao, overcome with 
grief and anxiety, had somehow got hold of Fred's bloodstained 
shirt and was sitting in the middle of the nursery floor, rocking 
back and forth and wailing, 'Tour father was shot. Your father 
was shot!" while the stunned children huddled in a circle 
around her. They looked up at me as I came into the room 
and did not say a word. 

"Yes, Daddy has been shot/' I told them, "but he is all right. 

The Grape 77 

Chang Ta Sao, please get up. The doctor is all right and is 
going to be all right. Come, children, we are going over to the 
hospital now. You can see for yourselves that he is only hurt 
a little. Chang Ta Sao, you come too, and then you can bring 
the children back home and give them their tea/' 

When the Golden-Haired One saw Fred, she went over 
to the bed and very quietly felt him all over from head to foot 
to see if any part of him was missing. Reassured, the children 
went off with Chang Ta Sao and Beloved Grandmother went 
with them to be sure they were no longer frightened. 

Fred slept at intervals during that long day, while I stayed 
with him, checking pulse, temperature, respiration. Occasion- 
ally I would look up to find him watching me with a semblance 
of the old grin on his face. By nightfall we knew that the im- 
mediate crisis was over, and the prayers of intercession became 
prayers of gratitude. As soon as we felt sure that he could be 
moved without hemorrhaging, we put him on a stretcher and 
brought him home to the quiet of his own bed. Every person 
who had ever known him, it seemed, had come to the hospital 
and demanded to see for himself that the doctor was alive. At 
one point during that interminable day I had counted seventy- 
five people jammed into the room and out into the hall. Their 
loving solicitude was touching, but Fred was still in danger 
and that had to be our first consideration. 

Among the refugees living on the compound were several 
Chinese businessmen. A few of them were firm friends of 
Fred, although they had never been moved to become Chris- 
tians; but most were shopkeepers whom he hardly knew. These 
men went to the pastor of the church next door and asked, 
"Sir, may we go into the church? We would like to kneel 
down and thank the God who saved our doctor's life." 

The Chinese church next door had come to mean a lot to 
us. It had no beauty of architecture, being of the same gray- 

78 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

brick "factory construction" as our house, but helped a little 
by tall, slim, glass windows. Too, the service was not the 
hushed, dignified one we were used to. Though our splendid 
Chinese pastor tried his best, nothing could prevent an oc- 
casional outburst from someone breaking into the service to 
announce that "Uncle Wong has just come in from the village 
and you'd better hurry home/* During prayer a dog might 
brush past you to pick up the steamed bread the child next to 
you had dropped. Beloved Grandmother's first Sunday in 
church had been quite a shock. I did not help her any when, 
in reply to her question, "Myra, what are those Bible verses 
written on the black lacquer pillar?" I replied, "It says, 'Don't . 
spit on the floor/ " 

But these were the "outward appearances" we completely 
forgot as, Sunday after Sunday, we worshiped with our Chi- 
nese friends. There was a holiness about the church that was 
good for the soul. We all sang together lustily, "Chi-i-H lai! 
Ch'uan shih chieh ti tsui jen" ("Arise, all ye of the world 
who have sinned") and such old favorites as 'What a Friend 
We Have in Jesus." Miss Christman pumped faithfully at the 
little organ, Fred played the violin, and I directed the choir. 
The preaching was done not by the missionaries but by the 
Chinese pastor; for the church had fulfilled the aims of the 
Board of Foreign Missions in becoming self-governing, self- 
propagating, and self-supporting. When the pastors and elders 
had called upon us that first autumn of 1931, we mentioned 
a tithe of our salary as our regular contribution to the church, 
and met a situation which we have never experienced in any 
other church in the world. 

'That will be too much," said the pastor. "Save part of your 
money for starting new work. You see, we are self-supporting 
and we do not want too large an amount to come from foreign 


The Grape 79 

I could not always understand our pastors sermons, which 
were delivered at the speed of Morse code and with no more 
inflection. But I loved to sit in the choir facing the congrega- 
tion of earnest, seeking faces old Feng Ta Sao with her 
patient, tranquil smile; the robust local carpenter; the intelli- 
gent young professor with his head cocked to one side; the 
mother with her crying baby, rocking her body back and forth 
and patting the baby without taking her eyes from the pastor's 
face; the ancient anesthetist, dozing as if he had succumbed 
to his own ether. He would awaken presently, and fix the 
pastor with that rapt attention one uses to cover a doze. And 
the slim bamboos, swaying against the front window beyond 
the crowded pews, were a benediction in themselves. 

The church was opened the morning after Fred was shot, 
though it was a weekday, and more than a thousand people 
knelt to give thanks to God for saving their doctor's life. I 
could not leave him to attend the service, but Adopted Uncle 
wrote us an account of it, telling how the pastor had taken 
this opportunity to tell again the story of Christ's coming to 
earth and giving His life for us all. 

"So God uses even the wrath of man to praise Him," the 
letter ended. 

We talked about it as Fred lay there how you work so hard 
on the mission field, year after year, with no apparent results. 
Then suddenly one day, doing just the next thing to be done 
in a long routine of things to be done, something is accom- 
plished, some wall broken down not by your planning at all, 
but by the very circumstance of the hour. But Fred was em- 
barrassed beyond words when people said to him, "You are 
just like Jesus. You shed your blood for us." 

Brother Li was one of the first visitors to call after we had 
moved Fred home. He had got his message through and had 
taken the first train back to tell us about it. Dr. Theodore Green 

80 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

would be arriving from Tsinan almost any time now. 

"But how in the world did you manage to be here at the very 
moment when we needed you most?" I asked. 

"Ah, that was God's doing/' he replied. "I was cycling in 
from the monastery to the railway station, and I thought to 
myself, I'll just stop by and see the doctor and his family for 
a moment. I can take the road past their house as easily as any 
other. But no, Father Superior doesn't want me to spend so 
much time visiting unless I have business. I cannot honestly 
say that I have business there today/' 

At this point, he had come upon an overturned ox-cart 
which blocked the road completely. Estimating that it would 
be a good three hours before the road could be cleared, Lay 
Brother took it that the Lord Himself had barred his path. 
There was nothing to do but take the other road, past the 
doctor's house. 

As he pedaled into the south suburb, he felt a tenseness in 
the atmosphere. Something had happened. He called to a 
passing Chinese, "Peace to you, brother. How are you today?" 

"Aya! Sir, have you not heard the terrible news? The doctor 
has been shot. It is rumored that he " 

"Oh, no-no-no! It cannot be!" Brother Li had raced to the 
hospital and had met me just coming out of Fred's room. I 
pondered again upon God's perfect timing. 

Brother Li was a machine-gun conversationalist, "Did I tell 
you the fun we had at the monastery last week? One of the 
new priests is what did you call it the other day? An eager-r-r 
beaver-r-r? The Old Brother who rings the bell for prayer at 
four A.M. has been doing it for years. How Old Brother loves 
to ring that bell! But this new young man decided to relieve 
him of the job. Nothing the old man said made any difference. 
So some of us fixed the bell so it wouldn't ring. We left the 
rope intact, but wired the clapper so it wouldn't swing when 

The Grape 81 

the rope was pulled. Poor young man! But he took it well. He 
is so young, and he will learn, he will learn. We all have had 
to. It is not good to take oneself too seriously, is it?" 

What a man Lay Brother is, I thought. I wonder what the 
rest of his family is like? How could his mother stand to be 
separated from such a son for over twenty years? I thought 
of the story he had told me of his mother's death. One morning 
at about two o'clock he had been awakened by a bright light 
shining all around him. At first he thought that he had fallen 
asleep while reading his book and had not turned off the light. 
But this light was far brighter than any other he had ever seen. 
While he was puzzling, his mother came into the room. "Son, 
I have come to say good-by," she said. He knew then that she 
had died, and that God in His infinite mercy had granted him 
this blessing that he see his mother once more. It was six weeks 
later that the letter got through telling him that she had died, 
and the date and hour of her death. He was not at all surprised 
to find that it coincided perfectly with the time of his vision. 

Now he was off on another story. 

"Last week I went down to the railway station with a truck 
to pick up some boxes of clothing. On the way back the Chi- 
nese guards stopped me and wanted to know what I had in the 
boxes. It would be better for you not to know/ I said to them. 
That did it. They demanded that I open every box. 'O.K/ 1 said 
(I say O.K. just like an American, don't I?) 'O.K., you Ve asked 
for it. You want those boxes opened? Then you take the 
responsibility for what happens. Do you still want them 
opened?' They started talking among themselves, not knowing 
what to make of this crazy man. Well, Yd teased them long 
enough, so I leaned over and whispered, 'Brothers, I've got 
Japanese devils in these boxes. If I open them you'll have 
devils all over the countryside/ They had a good laugh at that 
and said, We might have known that Lay Brother would have 

8 2 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

something up his sleeve/ I asked them, Why else would I 
wear such broad sleeves?* They love a joke, don't they?" 

Fred was amused, but he was looking very tired. 

"One would think that you never had a serious moment/' 
I said, laughing. "Let's go downstairs and have a cup of coffee. 
It's time for Fred to have a nap/' 

"Brother Li ? you've made me feel like a new man/' said 
Fred. "Happiness is good medicine," 

"Happiness is my mission in life/' Brother Li replied as he 
rose to go. 

"Happiness is my mission in life." I thought of the words 
as he pedaled out of the front gate and I remembered the day 
Brother Li showed me the pair of shoes he was making for an 
old priest who was having trouble with his feet. He had ex- 
plained his contrivings to make the shoes comfortable. 

"You are wasting your time making shoes/' I said to him. 
"You would have made a wonderful priest. Why didn't you go 
on and study to become one?" 

He had looked at me as if I were a child. "You do not 
understand," he said. "I make shoes for God." 

Dr. Green arrived next day and immediately gave Fred a 
thorough examination. It was unutterable relief to learn that 
the liver had not been damaged and that no surgery would be 
necessary; the deep wound was beginning to heal and, given 
time, would take care of itself. It only remained to see that die 
dressings were changed daily. 

Work at the hospital went surprisingly well in Fred's en- 
forced absence, with the staff taking care of patients, and the 
supervisor of the operating room doing what minor surgery 
he could handle. Members of the staff came to Fred's bedside 
for consultation, and carried out the treatments he directed, 

Dr. Green did what he could in the few days he was with 

The Grape 83 

us, but he soon had to return to his own work at Cheeloo Uni- 
versity. His biggest service was during the repeated investiga- 
tions by the Japanese army. The first and from my point of 
view, the worst of these had occurred before his arrival; 
within an hour of Fred's being shot, a military doctor had come 
to the hospital to examine the wound. Powerless, I watched 
him fish dingy-looking forceps from one pocket, a metal box 
of alcohol swabs from another, and with these doubtful objects 
probe deep into the wound. From then on I stood guard over 
Fred and would let no one but Dr. Green, or later our own 
staff, touch the wound. 

Another military doctor, whom we called "The Terrible/' 
arrived every morning at six o'clock, ordered the gateman to 
lead the way, and then kicked him all the way upstairs! I made 
sure that the dressing was always finished before his arrival so 
that there would be "no need to do more than look at it." If 
the surly examiner moved to touch the wound, I would step 
between him and Fred. When I think how powerless I was to 
save the gateman his daily kicks, I marvel that I got away with 

A few days after the shooting, the General in charge of the 
town came to apologize. He was a soft-spoken, white-haired 
gentleman whom I liked at once. He seemed genuinely grieved 
at what had happened. 

"But, Honored Lady," he said at the conclusion of a long 
interview with Dr, Green and me, "how did you succeed in 
getting the message out? This doctor-from-the-distant-city says 
he is here because you sent for him through your consul. But 
how did your consul know? I assure yo>u that within half an 
hour of this dreadful occurrence every road was closed and 
every means of communication no longer available to you. I 
have checked back on everything very carefully. We know, too, 
that you have no radio transmitting apparatus." (This all had 

g^ The Chinese Ginger Jars 

to go through an interpreter, the tallest Japanese I have ever 

"My dear General, there is one more thing you know, isn't 
there?'' I replied. "You must know that I cannot tell you how 
I got the word out/' Brother Li had taken the road to Yen- 
chowfu not ten minutes before every traveler on it was ex- 

'We accept your apology/' Dr. Green went on, "but, Gen- 
eral, we are citizens responsible to our government and we 
would be wrong not to let our consul know what happened/' 

"I understand," said the General, running his hand over his 
short-cropped hair. "But this may mean my dismissal. You 
see, I did not report it/' 

"Oh, General, I hope it will not mean that," I said, and 
meant it. 

(A year later he paid us his final visit, coming to say good-by 
on his round of official calls before being transferred to another 

"But now, may I see the doctor?" he was saying. 

We went upstairs and we all began to talk of our happy 
days in Japan. Then the interpreter said, "The General wants 
to know if you want the man who wounded you shot." 

"No, by all means, no," said Fred vehemently. "What good 
would that do? He was drunk and didn't know what he was 
doing. He had nothing against me personally. I feel sorry for 
the poor fellow. I hear he has been sick and was left behind 
by his regiment, and has nothing to do all day except to get 
drunk and make trouble/' 

'Then, sir, what do you want?" 

'Td like to see better discipline in the city when the soldiers 
are off duty. Do you know that no woman is safe in the streets? 
And this isn't the first time that a civilian has been shot," 
said Fred. 

The Grape #5 

"It shall be as you wish, Doctor/' said the General "You 
speak of having climbed Mount Fujiyama. I came here ex- 
pecting to find an enemy and I find a man whose heart is as 
kind as Fujiyama is high. Good-by, sir." 

From that day on, order was restored. The reason for it was 
so obvious that when we took our first walk through the city 
after Fred's recovery, merchants came out of their shops to 
shake his hand and to say, "Thank you, Tai Fu. You have 
saved us/' 

But the poor sick soldier was shot at last. I had asked about 
him over and over again and had received only evasive an- 
swers. Finally an officer said to me, "Madam, do not ask about 
him, please. We know how your husband feels, but this was a 
very bad man. Your husband was the seventh person he had 

One day the tall interpreter came to call, bringing a box of 
candy bars for the children. It was the first candy we had seen 
for a long time. 

"My mother sent these from Japan/' he said. "I want the 
children to have them. May I see the doctor? My former visit 
was an official one and today I want to say personally how sorry 
I am. I have many American friends and this grieves me very 

Coming into the bedroom a few minutes later with a trayful 
of tea things, I stopped aghast at the threshold. The interpreter 
was lying face down across a chair drawn up beside the bed. 
His long samurai sword was dangling on the floor, and such 
contortions as he was going through! Fred did not look at all 

'What on earth " I began. 

"I'm showing the doctor how to do the flutter stroke/' said 
the interpreter. "I am a swimmer. I have just been telling him 
how I swam in the Olympics against Johnny Weismuller." 

86 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

"I don't mind so much getting shot/' Fred said to me one day, 
"but I surely do dislike being apologized to!" 

This time the Major, the highest ranking officer in the whole 
area, had sent notice that he would arrive with his retinue. 
(I could never figure out why the Major seemed to have a 
higher position than the General.) Our Chinese friends were 
worried about the visit. "Remember, he is a very great man," 
they said to me. "If anything goes wrong, there may be retalia- 
tions upon us/' 

"Nothing will go wrong. Why should it? There is nothing 
to worry about/' I told them with more assurance than I felt. 

Just now, within a few minutes of the arrival of the great 
man, I was anything but confident. I had asked the children 
if they would like to wear the kimonos made for them in Japan 
by the mother of their little Japanese friend. They would 
help me serve tea to the Major in Beloved Grandmother's 
Japanese wedding cups. The two boys allowed themselves to 
be persuaded, but with no enthusiasm. Little Golden-Haired 
One could hardly wait. 

There was a bang on the door and I took the Golden-Haired 
One by the hand and went downstairs; the boys followed 
reluctantly. The Major had arrived. He stood there scowling. 
A round-faced man he was, with a huge sunburst of a beaid 
surrounding his face like the rays of the sun itself. I had never 
seen anything like it before. Neither had the children. I began 
to talk feverishly lest they make some remark about it. 

The Major stalked upstairs and into the bedroom, brushing 
aside the doctor's greeting with a wave of his hand. He stood 
at attention and delivered his oration. It was translated by his 
interpreter. His official duty done, the Major sat down in a 
rocking cKair and relaxed. Like a flash, the Golden-Haired 
One streaked across the room and jumped into his lap. She 
leaned back against his shoulder happily and began to pull 

The Grape 87 

the hairs of his exquisite silky beard, one by one. 

What do I do now? I wondered. How can I get her to stop? 
How will the Major take it? He may be very sensitive about 
that beard. I motioned the child to get down. 

"My dear lady/' said the Major in perfect English, "please 
do not disturb your little girl. It has been a long time since I 
have had the privilege of holding my grandchildren on my lap. 
Do you mind if she stays here?" 

The next day the Major's orderly called to present a package 
to the Golden-Haired One. It contained a beautiful Japanese 

On January 10, 1939, little Fourth-Child was born a beauti- 
ful yellow-haired baby with stars in his eyes. 
We named him Thomas Scott Scovel. 

Fred was now back at work in the hospital and I was busy at 
home, adding the care of a new baby to the teaching of the 
other three children. The Golden-Haired One was really too 
young for school but she loved to sit at a desk and color a pic- 
ture anything to feel that she was part of the classroom. 

It was best to keep busy in the house, or at least near the 
compound. If we went for a walk of any length, we had to 
bow to the Japanese guards at the gate. This meant a really low 
bow from the waist. It is not easy for Americans to bow low; 
and this situation was not made any easier for us by our having 
to cross a wooden bridge just before we got to the guards. 
Across the bridge were nailed steel rails which clearly read, 
"Bethlehem, Penn."; so we were furious before we even got 
to the guard at the gate. 

But we truly had much for which to be thankful. We had 
enough food of a sort; we had a good home and enough 
clothing and bedding to keep us warm, and we had friends. 

88 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

God was good to give us such friends as the adopted aunts 
and uncles in the compound. They were really more than 
friends, they became our family. Then there were the Baptist 
mission aunts and uncles, the Russian fur-buyers, the Catholic 
priests and nuns, Brother Li, the Swiss nurse from the north 
suburb, the German friends who sang, and the Chinese with 
whom we lived and worked daily. We spoke Chinese far more 
hours of the day than we did English. Such good hosts were 
our Chinese friends that we forgot we were guests in their 
country and thought that China was our home. 

It is difficult to choose out individuals above others the 
teacher with the brilliant mind with whom Fred delighted to 
converse, the manager of the Standard Oil Company in our 
inland city who was lonely for life in Shanghai, the owner of 
the ancient pickle factory who came out of seclusion to help 
us with the refugee camp (and who wore an arm band that 
read REFUGEESCAMP!). (How we loved to take visiting friends 
through that pickle factory with its acres of huge porcelain 
vats containing every variety of local vegetable aging in its 
own particular brine! Inside there were special cheeses made 
of bean curd and kept at just the right temperature to grow an 
inch or so of feathery, yellow mold.) 

There were others of our friends, but there is still enough 
fear left in our hearts to keep from naming any except those 
who, by now, have gone far beyond fear. It has been a long, 
long time since the tranquility of China was broken. Even as 
long ago as the summer of 1940, fear struck the heart of a little 
family who were among our dearest friends. 



"Han Fu Liang is in jail!" The cook brought the news with 
our breakfast pomelos. "You know that Little Teacher's hus- 
band has been a leader of guerrilla troops out in the country. 
I can't understand why he, an educated man, the principal of 
a school, should want to be a soldier. You know our saying, 
'One does not use good iron to make nails nor good men to 
make soldiers/ " 

"But how did he get caught?" we asked. 

"He came in last night to see his family, and some Judas 
told the Japanese. They arrested him at the railway station 
this morning." Hu Shih Fu snuffed and snorted his contempt. 

"And do you know what Wang Lao San heard him say to 
the men who arrested him?" he asked as he brought in the 
eggs. " 'Yes, I am your enemy. I have worked against you and 
I will work against you/ That's what Principal said/' 

The Japanese were shrewd enough to recognize the poten- 
tial value to them of such a loyal man. It would be worth 
while to win him to their side; they used every means to do it. 
When they found that their arguments, their promises, did not 
sway him, they put full responsibility for her husband's life or 
death in Little Teacher's small hands. "If you can persuade 
him to come over to our side, he will be released," they told her. 
"If not, he will be executed. It is entirely up to you." 

"Little Teacher, how can you bear it?" I asked her. 


po The Chinese Ginger Jars 

"God gives me strength/' she said, "but do pray for me. I 
am so afraid I will weaken." 

Finding that she could not be moved, they tried to use the 
two children. 

"You don't want your daddy to die, do you?" they said. "Go 
in and tell him that if he will work for us, he will live. He 
may go home with you and your mother now/' 

But those little children had the courage to say, "Daddy, the 
soldiers have told us to say this to you, but you do what God 
wants you to do." 

Han Fu Liang asked for his Bible and read it through three 
times during the following months of imprisonment. All of that 
time he was questioned again and again, especially concerning 
the American missionaries. 

"It is true, isn't it, that they are spies in the employ of their 

"No, it is not true." 

"Then how do they get their money?" 

"Well, you see, it is with them as it is with us in the support 
of our temples. Several old women [sic!] in America give of 
their money, a few cents here and a few cents there, and thus 
the missionaries are supported." 

"That is very hard to believe." 

One day the Japanese officers came to him with a letter. It 
was one of those being sent routinely by the consulate to all 
Americans in China urging them to leave on a ship sailing 
from Shanghai. 

"Now you will know for certain that these foreigners are 
spies for their government," they said to our friend. "Here are 
their orders to leave at once." 

"You will see," he replied. "They will not leave. Some of 
them have already left, but that was because of bad health or 

The Chrysanthemum pi 

because their furloughs were due. This letter will not make any 
difference. The ones who are here will stay. You will see/' 

It was the evening of Thanksgiving Day, 1940. We had all 
been across the city to the Baptist mission to have dinner with 
Adopted Aunt and Uncle Connely. We had eaten all of the 
traditional Thanksgiving dishes, some of them planned for 
months in advance, the ingredients purchased on furlough 
and carefully hoarded. We had sat around the living-room 
fire with the traditional stuffed Thanksgiving feeling. We 
had sung, 'Tor the Beauty of the Earth" and "Come, Ye 
Thankful People, Come" and each of us had had his separate 
memories. Now we were back at home. The children had been 
put to bed and Fred and I had settled down in the little up- 
stairs room over the kitchen which I used as a study, a sewing 
room, and a place to bathe the baby. On this cold night it was 
the warmest room in the house. And now we had one more 
thing for which to be thankful the mail had come. 

In the midst of reading those wonderful letters from home, 
Fred handed me an official-looking letter. It was the one from 
the American consulate. "May we advise you that ... the 
ship will leave Shanghai on ... Women and children are 
especially urged to . . ." 

"I just can't walk out and leave a hospital full of sick 
patients," Fred said flatly. 

"Does this mean that I will have to go alone with the chil- 
dren?" I faltered. "We've talked this over so many times. It's 
the same old circle is it right to keep the children here? Is it 
right to leave you here alone? In the end will separation from 
you be harder on the children? I'm never myself when I am 
away from you, and the children feel it. I've prayed and prayed 
about this and the only thing that comes to me and it always 
comes is the verse, Tor ye shall go out with joy, and be led 

p2 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth 
before you into singing and all the trees of the field shall clap 
their hands/ If I am led forth now, it will not be with joy, it 
will be with agony/' 

' We've had such a wonderful day/' he said, "so very much 
to be thankful for! Let's not say any more about this tonight. 
Let's go to bed thinking about our happy Thanksgiving and 
trust Him to guide us to His decision for us. In the morning 
we will tell each other what He has made clear to us." 

By morning I was still disturbed. I had a decided assurance 
that the right thing to do was to stay, but I couldn't be one 
hundred per cent sure that it was not my own strong desire 
to stay that made me think it was divine guidance. We had 
both been so critical of missionaries who had failed to heed 
consular warnings in the past. We had vowed that we would 
never fail to take the advice of our government, and here we 
were doing that very thing. Again the old treadmill of thoughts 
suppose we were lined up and shot? Suppose the children 
should have to see us being shot? 

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, ^hose mind is stayed 
on Thee whose imaginations are stayed on Thee." 

If this thing is right, it is right all the way through, no matter 
what may come, I thought, I have to take only one step at a 

"Another cup of coffee, dear? More milk for your cereal, 
First-Born?" I went on with the usual routine of breakfast. 

"No, thank you, Mother," said our ten-year-old First-Born. 
He looked across the table at his father; then he turned 
to me, and said steadily, "I heard you two last night when 
you were reading that letter. I don't know what you're going 
to do, but IVe prayed to God about it; I'm going to stay." 

"That just about makes it unanimous." His father smiled. 

What a wave of relief swept over me! And through all the 

The Chrysanthemum 93 

troubles that followed, we never doubted that this decision 
was truly God's decision for us. 

Little Teacher's husband was kept in jail for many months. 
One night a Korean interpreter came to him and said, "The 
whole garrison is changing. I am the only one left who knows 
you are here. It might be a good time for you to walk out." 

Sitting in our garden one moonlit night, our friend told us 
his story. When we heard how he had answered his question- 
ers, we were glad that we had not caused his prophecy regard- 
ing our staying on at our work, to fail. 

Early in the spring of 1941 Beloved Grandmother returned 
to America to keep a promise made years before that she would 
be with her sister on her Golden Wedding anniversary. We 
hated to have her go, and she hated to leave us; but with the 
future so uncertain it seemed the only wise thing to do. 

One day after she had gone, I was shocked to hear First- 
Born telling Second-Born and the Golden-Haired One that he 
thought I was going to die. 

"She gets whiter jnd thinner and she is in bed all the time 
and Dr. Kung comes every day," he was saying, 

I called each of them to me separately as I lay on a cot in 
the garden and told them the wonderful secret. It was such a 
happy day. The sun sparkled on every leaf. After I had been 
carried into the house, the Golden-Haired One flew across 
the room, knelt at the side of the cot, buried her head in my 
lap and whispered ecstatically, "Baby, I'm your sister." 

But aside from a few oases of happiness, it was a grim sum- 
mer. I managed to get permission from the Japanese to travel 
to the coast with the children, hoping to find some relief from 
the fever. "Huo Tai," the Chinese called it, "the fire preg- 
nancy." With no pun intended, it was the "freezing" that 
finally cured me. I was too frightened and there was too much 

94 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

to be done to indulge myself any longer. Japan was freezing 
all American assets in China in retaliation for a similar move 
made in the United States on all Japanese assets. I was caught 
with almost no money. Luckily we had friends in Tsingtao who 
loaned me enough to buy the railway tickets for our return 
to Tsining. 

When I tried to buy the tickets, I found that money was 
almost the least of my troubles. The Japanese no longer per- 
mitted any Americans to go into the interior. I kept pleading, 
"I must get back to my doctor husband before it is too late." 

C"One look should have been enough to convince them/' 
Fred said later.) 

They examined every inch of my luggage. The new baby 
clothes helped to reassure them that I wasn't trying to smuggle 
something in that way. The guards almost balked when they 
found my brother's army address on a loose slip of paper in 
my address book. They puzzled over it for a few moments; I 
offered no explanations and they went on with the examina- 
tion. Miss Christman, one of the "Ladies," was traveling with 
us; we had another very bad moment when the soldiers were 
leafing through her photo album. She grew more and more 
nervous as they turned the pages. I could see that she was at 
top tension when they stopped to look at a full-page photo of 
her brother in the uniform of World War I, broad-brimmed hat 
and all. 

"So-o-o . . . American cowboy/' the examiner remarked, and 
turned another page. 

Just as the train was about to pull out, two more guards came 
aboard and took away my travel permits and passport. Those 
hard-f ought-f or permits . . , the weary miles I had trudged from 
government office to government office, always in the heat of 
the day, to obtain them. And my passport! Without it I was 
helpless. Would I never see any of them again? 

The Chrysanthemum 95 

By now it was late at night. I undressed the tired children 
and put them into their berths, wondering as I did so if I 
would have to get them up, dress them and get them off the 
train. No, I won't, I resolved. If they get us off this train, they 
will have to drag us off. 

The whistle was blowing when an officer rushed into the car 
and put the precious documents into my hands. He looked at 
the sleeping children, then at me. "It is difficult these days," 
he said with a sad smile. "Good luck to you/' That officer 
never knew how close he came to finding himself in the happy 
embrace of a foreign woman. 

"And he got his wish; you did have good luck," Fred said 
when I told him the story. "You got here. I was afraid you'd 
never make it. And here we are with only eleven people in 
the house to see that we do no wrong/* 

I had arrived home to find nine Chinese soldiers, in the 
employ of the Japanese, on duty in the house guarding Fred, 
and two Japanese soldiers quartered in the study. Their total 
mission seemed to be to watch his every move. It was disturb- 
ing, of course, but we had lived on the edge of danger and 
difficulty for so long that the thing that bothered me most in 
the whole absurd business was the bayonet scratches on the 
piano where the Chinese guards had rested their guns against 

I consider it positive proof of my husband's genius that he 
was able the next day to have the nine Chinese guards removed 
by the simple expedient of telling the authorities he did not 
think it suitable to have me alone in the house with that many 
men all day while he was at the hospital! Headquarters, how- 
ever, refused to withdraw the two Japanese soldiers; evidently 
they felt I would be perfectly safe with them. As I was. 

We have so often wondered what became of those two fine 
young Japanese soldiers. They themselves closed the door to 

p The Chinese Ginger Jars 

the study when they first took up residence there, and it was 
never opened except when we knocked at it each evening to 
give them a plate of cookies or a bowl of fruit. They had all 
their meals sent in, and even took their baths in the middle 
of the night so as not to disturb us. We never heard them talk- 
ing to each other. During the day they spent their time looking 
after the cook's baby or playing with our children in the yard. 
I longed to know more Japanese. Once when an interpreter 
came in on hospital business, we learned that the sister of one 
of the boys had begged him to become a Christian before he 
had left home. After some effort we were able to get a New 
Testament in Japanese. The young man seemed very grateful. 

It was certainly no trouble to have them in the house. We 
even felt a little sad, after their many weeks with us, when 
they came to tell us they were being sent to Singapore to fight. 
Night after night I prayed for them, never trying to fathom 
what their living might mean to my own brothers, for in- 
stance, who might one day be in that very place fighting. I 
knew God was able to sort out my prayers and use them. 

Before leaving for Singapore the guards returned with an 
interpreter to thank the family for all that had been done for 
them and to say "Sayonara," that loveliest of all farewells, 
"Since it must be." After calling on us the Japanese guards 
called at the home of each of the servants to thank them. When 
we got back into the study, we found that the desk and papers 
on it had remained untouched. There was not a single cigarette 
burn on any of the furniture. We wondered how many of our 
American boys would have done as well in a Japanese home. 

It was autumn again the autumn of 1941. There were chry- 
santhemums in every conceivable corner; pots of them in the 
dark musty teashops, large gardens full of them ready for the 
annual chrysanthemum shows, great golden sprays of them 

The Chrysanthemum 97 

spilling over the backs of the junks on the canal. There were 
crisp, white, snowball ones, and tawny sparse-petaled ones like 
dragons stretching their claws in the sun. And in our own 
garden little Fourth Child ran about trying to catch the butter- 
flies as they lit on the beautiful blossoms. It was time for me 
to open Beloved Grandmother's house, which had been closed 
since her return to America. 

And at last it was over. I lay in Beloved Grandmother's big 
mahogany bed thinking that to have produced five such won- 
derful, healthy children was a good job well done. Five chil- 
dren. A perfect family. Chang Ta Sao came in with Judith 
Louise in her arms. 

"Oh, Teacher-Mother/' she exclaimed, "at last the brown- 
eyed ones have started to come!" 

The miracle of it was that this baby, who was so beautiful 
that she might have been carried off from a Reuben's canvas, 
had not been born in a concentration camp, or in the corner of 
a prison yard, though she might easily have been in those 
troubled days. She had been born in Beloved Grandmother's 
bed, cared for by our own doctor. I couldn't help thinking of 
the words of one of our oldest friends: "I have had many 
troubles in China. Most of them never happened." 

But some of them did happen. 

"Today is another week," Fred said as he got out of bed 
that Monday morning of December the eighth still Sunday, 
the seventh, back home in Mechanicville. I was never to 
hear him say it again without shuddering; but then it seemed 
like such a usual Monday morning. We were on our way 
downstairs for breakfast when Second-Born came running up 
the stairs to meet us. 

"There are Japanese soldiers guarding our gate," he said. 

Fred went out to ask the reason why, but the answers he got 

p The Chinese Ginger Jars 

were noncommittal. Not long after breakfast an officer, fol- 
lowed by a group of soldiers, came up the front walk with the 
characteristic d-lump, drag, cMump of heavy army boots the 
sound that never failed to produce a sinking heart. The door 
opened and the officer said, "You are under arrest/* 

We stood in the front hall, stunned. Fred spoke to the officer. 
"May I ask why we are under arrest? Have we done something 
we should not have done?" 

"You know very well why you are under arrest/' the officer 
replied. "These are your orders/' 

The Brown-Eyed One, just ten weeks old, began to cry. 
The officer said, "Here, let me hold her/' As he rocked her in 
his arms, he read to us the document from Tokyo. 

"You are not to leave the house. Everything you formerly 
owned is now the property of the Imperial Japanese Govern- 
ment. . , . There, there, don't cry, little one, everything will 
be all right. . . . You are to make lists in triplicate of everything 
in the house. Your money is to be counted, the house searched 
in the presence of this officer. . . . There, there, don't cry, don't 
worry, little one." 

This day was a blur of soldiers milling all over the house, 
upstairs and down; of lists being made, corrected, remade; of 
the scramble to find food enough to feed all the soldiers who 
were tearing our house apart. I remember looking around the 
table and thinking, "Thou preparest a table before me in the 
presence of mine enemies." 

Night came. The soldiers were getting ready to leave when 
a message came from headquarters; they were to bring Dr. 
Scovel with them. Fred walked down the path through the 
garden, chatting to the soldiers as he went. How many more 
times would I have to watch him go, not knowing whether or 
not he would return? Or would this be the last? "Don't worry 
about me, please," he had said. That is easy to say, I thought. 

The Chrysanthemum pp 

He was back within an hour.The chief officer at headquar- 
ters had been most kind and communicative. 

"I suppose you know that Japan has declared war on 
America. Several American cities have been bombed. We 
have not come away unscathed either," he told Fred. In the 
light of what happened that day at Pearl Harbor, we have 
always wondered why he added that last sentence. 

For the next ten days we were not allowed to admit patients 
to the hospital. Then the Chinese Chamber of Commerce re- 
quested the Japanese to permit the doctor to carry on as usual, 
and the request was granted. 

It was quite an experience to be interned in one's own 
home for a year. We were guarded by Chinese soldiers, one of 
whom used to sit on a soapbox at the front gate and embroider 
beautifully on pieces of grass linen, his gun propped up on 
his shoulder. Fred was the only one allowed out of the com- 
pound, and he was permitted to go only as far as the hospital, 
a few doors down the street from our own gate. We read our 
books over and over again, going through sets of Shakespeare 
and Thackeray that before had only been dusted. We bicycled 
around the tennis court for exercise. We had picnics on the 
roof and in every corner of the yard, and did all the things we 
had always thought we would do if only we had the time. 

Once we had orders to prepare for repatriation. Trunks were 
packed, examined by the Japanese, repacked, kicked open and 
the contents strewn; repacked, re-examined and finally sealed 
shut. But nothing more happened. Every time an officer came 
to call, we would ask him, 'When do we go to America?" 

'Wait one week. If you do not go then, wait one month. If 
you do not go then, wait one year/' was one not-too-helpful 

One day, after many weeks of waiting, we asked an officer 
the same old question, 'When do we go to America?" 

z 00 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

His English was not too fluent and he had to think a long 
rime. Then he said, "Long, long ago/* 

"That's just what I thought/' I told Fred. "That settles it. 
We unpack the trunks and go back to living normally again/' 

There was a new arrangement at the hospital. A Japanese 
who called himself a pastor-doctor had been appointed superin- 
tendent; he came down from the capital city once a week to 
make his inspections. He was a member of the newly formed 
Church of Christ in China. (The already existent Church of 
Christ in China, consisting of many denominations working 
harmoniously as one church, had been functioning successfully 
for many years.) The pastor-doctor seemed also to be a member 
of what was called Special Services, whose duty it was to 
investigate subversive activities. It was difficult to figure out 
just what the pastor-doctor was doing. We had a good time 
together one evening as he taught us to sing a hymn in 
Japanese, "Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow/' His prayer 
before retiring that night was in English, heavily sprinkled 
with the Japanese word "No" which he seemed to use merely 
for emphasis. Or was it the English word "No?" 

"Doctor very good man. No. Doing very good work. No. 
Bless him and his family. No/' 

Fourth Child fell to the floor while he was jumping on his 
bed one morning and broke his thigh bone. (What a day that 
was!) Pastor-doctor was most gentle and skillful in applying the 
cast after Fred had set the leg; we were so grateful to him for 
his ministrations that day. Once I asked him why he didn't 
wear the uniform of the Secret Service or rather, Special 
Services Department. He seemed very shocked at my ques- 
tion and said, "I am not worthy of it." Altogether he was a 
very puzzling person. 

One day during the six weeks that Fourth Child's leg was 
strung up on pulleys, a soldier from the ranks, whom we had 

The Chrysanthemum 101 

never seen before, knocked at the door. He made us know that 
he wanted to see the boy with the broken leg. He stood at the 
foot of the bed for a long time, watching Fourth Child play 
happily with his white rabbit, which ran all over the bed and 
nibbled at his cast. Sobbing great sobs, the soldier turned 
and plunged down the stairs and out the door. We have been 
forever in the dark as to what prompted his visit or why he 
was so moved. 

The next problem that presented itself was that we ran out 
of money. "Hu Shih Fu," I said to the cook at last, "as you 
know, this is all the money we have left. Two dollars in this 
currency won't buy much, but it ought to be enough for 
food for your family and ours for today. I suppose people 
can't understand why I still have a cook when we haven't 
one cent of money. They don't know that you haven't been 
paid, and that you have brought grain in from your land to 
share with us, and that we share the little we have with you. 
I feel very bad that we haven't been able to do more for you. 
Perhaps you can find another job." 

"No, no, Teacher-Mother. I will stay here. We have talked 
about all this before. You are doing your best and we are 
doing our best. But what shall we do now that the money 
is gone?" 

"I don't know, Hu Shih Fu. We have learned the meaning 
of the prayer, 'Give us this day our daily bread.' God has 
answered it so far. Just think what a miracle it was that we 
were given a sack of rice last week. God has not forgotten 
where we live/' 

That very afternoon a member of the Japanese consulate 
called to give us five hundred Chinese dollars from the Inter- 
national Red Cross. We had had no idea that the world knew 
we were still in Tsining. "Comfort money," they called it. I 
hope the International Red Cross knew what comfort it 

1 02 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

brought. First of all, I paid Hu Shih Fu; then we laid in a 
supply of fresh vegetables to supplement the diet of lentils 
and blood sausages our German friends had given us. 

And now it was Christmas again. There was no money to buy 
gifts for the children; every cent of the five hundred dollars 
had to be used for food. But there was a precious evergreen 
in the front yard; we would cut it down and decorate it. There 
must be some evidence of Christmas in the house. 

This was not the first time we had been faced with a 
presentless Christmas. Once the gifts we had ordered from a 
mail-order house failed to arrive, and the Russian fur-buyers 
came down from Tientsin in the nick of time, their arms full 
of bundles. One package contained a toy gun that worried 
me. The rule of our house had been no guns to play with. 
Guns were used to do harm. We were people who healed. But 
the boys wanted guns so badly. I finally rationalized myself 
into agreeing that, since the children knew how I felt about 
it and that I would never buy them a gun, it might be all 
right for them to accept this gift of the kind Russian uncles. 

But this time there were no Russian uncles. I looked through 
the trunks and found a few books I had meant to save until 
the children were older Huckleberry Finn, Pinocchio, The 
Stars for Sam. There were some scraps of cloth with which I 
could make and dress rag dolls for the girls. Fred carved out 
a horse's head, painted it, and put it on a broom handle for 
the boys. A strip of fur from the bottom of my coat made a 
glorious black mane. Christmas cookies would have to be 
omitted. There was no sugar. 

There was no sugar at all. I had hoarded half a cup of it, 
but a Japanese officer called one cold afternoon, bringing with 
him a little prostitute waif who looked so thin and so sad that I 
took out the sugar for their coffee. I put a meager teaspoonful 

The Chrysanthemum 103 

into each cup, but after the coffee had been handed around, 
the poor little girl crossed the room, took the sugar bowl in 
her hands and emptied its entire contents into her coffee. If 
I tended to regret the loss of the sugar, I had only to think of 
those burning eyes as the girl gulped down her coffee. My 
children could do without cookies. 

'Teacher-Mother/' It was the gateman with a message. 
"The Catholic Sisters are here making their Christmas calls/' 
(Each year they came to thank the doctor for what he had 
done for them.) 

The Sisters had brought a package which they now gave to 
the children. "You must open it carefully/* they cautioned. 

"Oh, Mother, look! Little angels and stars, and oh ... they 
are made out of sugar cookies!'' 

"Sugar cookies! Sisters, how on earth did you " I stopped 

myself. "Really, you shouldn't have done it," I finished feebly. 

They ventured a smile at each other and began at once to 
help the children hang the little angels on the Christmas tree, 
insisting that a few cookies must be eaten while working. 

"And you must come over to the church and see the creche," 
they urged. "The children of the school are giving a play/' 

"Perhaps we may be able to get permission from the 
Japanese this once," I replied. "It is such a special occasion/' 

The creche with its exquisite figures, made by a brother of 
one of the nuns and brought out carefully from Germany, the 
old carols sung in stilted English by the Chinese children of 
the school this was Christmas. 

And Mother Superior confessing to me, "I vowed that these 
poor Sisters, who have gone without so much all year, would 
have sugar for Christmas, even if it cost every cent we had 
in our meager treasury. So I bought a few pounds though the 
price was unbelievable. The Sisters insisted on dividing the 
sugar in half and making cookies for your children. We all 

1 04 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

love them very much 7 you know. I remember so well when 
little Golden-Haired One was a baby. It was the first time I 
had ever called on you. Do you remember? I hadn't seen a 
white baby in fifteen years. She looked like a little cherub. And 
now look at her, chatting away in Chinese to our girls. The 
children are pleased with the cookies, then?" 
This this was truly Christmas. 



There was nothing we could put a finger on, but something 
was in the air. We found ourselves becoming squirrels; we hid 
things. We took all of Beloved Grandmothers old family 
mahogany and stowed it behind a chimney in the attic. Then 
we built a false wall across the room and plastered it over to 
look as if there were nothing behind it. We took our precious 
music records and slid them down on ropes between two walls. 
We scrambled up to hidden recesses under the eaves and 
concealed our best-loved pictures. Fred filled an old camphor 
box with our wedding silver, sealed it shut, painted it with a 
heavy coat of white lead, and buried it in a deep hole under 
the porch, along with his stamp collection, Father Scovel's 
pulpit Bible, and the children's baby books. We had no money 
to hide. 

We tried to spread the remaining furniture around to look 
as if nothing were missing. Beloved Grandmother's things 
were no problem; they had been brought up from her little 
house, and the Japanese did not seem to know that that house 
existed. Once started, we couldn't stop. One room in the attic 
had an outside window and a door leading into the attic guest 
room. The room was as apparent as the front street gate, but 
we put away dishes, some cherished curios, a few more pieces 
of furniture, and plastered the doorway shut. 

The plaster was still wet, the door clearly outlined, when a 


The Chinese Ginger Jars 

Japanese officer and five soldiers arrived to search the house. 
Had they been tipped off? The officer was either extremely 
stupid or extremely kind; I incline toward the latter view, for 
he found nothing. He stood with his back to the plastered 
doorway while his men made a cursory search of the guest 
room, looking behind chairs, under the bed and in the drawers 
of a washstand. They went through the house in the same 
manner and then left. 

Why were we hiding things? We said little to each other, 
and nothing in front of the children, of the fear that hung 
over us. Yet I couldn't believe it when the Japanese officer 
began his polite conversation that afternoon in early March 
of 1943. 

"We fear for your health, here in the interior. Everything 
is so dirty/' It looked like a routine call, but he shifted un- 
easily in the rocker. Now he leaned forward. "So we are 
putting all foreigners together in one place where we can 
look after you properly under hygienic conditions." 

"Oh, you mustn't worry about us. We re making out very 
well and we'd be much more comfortable in our own home/' 
I was slow to catch the implication of his words. 

But Fred looked very serious. "When do we leave for the 
concentration camp?*' he asked. "And, by the way, where 
is the camp to be?" 

"You will leave the day after tomorrow for Weihsien, half- 
way between Tsinan and Tsingtao, Doctor. Here is the paper 
with your instructions." He edged to the front of the rocker. 
'Well, I must be going now. Ill be here at five in the morning 
to take you to the station/' 

'Why are you doing this to us?" I asked as the officer rose 
to his feet 

"Madame, it is in retaliation for what your government is 

The Peach 107 

doing to Japanese civilians; your country is putting them into 
concentration camps." 

"But that can't be true!" I protested. "I know my govern- 
ment would not do such a thing. I was in America during the 
first World War and a German even taught in our school. 
They were not put into concentration camps." 

The officer only smiled. "What's the use of trying to explain 
it to her?" the smile said. 

I was furious but I tried to hide it. After all, the poor 
fellow had been duped and deluded into believing tall tales 
about the United States. 

'Til see you at five, the day after tomorrow," he said as 
he left. 

Well, at least we knew now what was going to happen to 
us. In a way it was a relief. We wouldn't have to worry now 
every time the boots came up the walk. We were not going 
to be shot; we were going to an internment camp. We could 
take our beds with us, the instructions said. They were to be 
shipped ahead. Ahead? We were leaving the day after to- 
morrow. There was a lot to be done. Another glance at the 
instructions informed us that we were to take all the food 
possible. We had no money to lay in a supply, but we did have 
enough to buy a large sack of whole-wheat kernels, I would 
send the cook to the market at once and have the kernels 
broken on the large stone mill But first we had to tell the 
children. To this day they hold it against me that I told them 
we were going on a camping trip. 

Early next morning John and Agnes Weineke of the 
Weimar Mission across the city came with a large pillowcase 
full of the little fruit cookies called "pfeflEernuesse." They had 
stayed up half the night baking them. (One cooky apiece was 
to be our dessert for weeks.) 

J0 g The Chinese Ginger Jars 

"How did you find out so soon?" I asked them. 

"Trust the grapevine," Agnes replied. "The whole city 
knows it. Pfeffernuesse keeps forever so you won't have to 
worry about these drying up before they are used/' 

Chang Ta Sao was sure that she was "going to prison" 
with us. The Japanese officer had to tear her away from us 
that cold gray morning. The last time I looked back, she was 
still sitting in the middle of the dusty road; her hands covered 
her face and she was rocking back and forth as she wailed 
her grief. For the first time since I had told them, the children 
were shaken. They never saw her again. 

The mission compound at Weihsien we knew very well, but 
it looked sadly different to us when we arrived there next 
evening. Japanese officers were living in the homes where 
we had been entertained so hospitably in the past. School 
buildings were barracks the girls' school for the women and 
the boys' school for the men. But, unbelievably, we were 
not separated. We were to be together as a family in two 
tiny rooms in a small courtyard shared with five other families. 
Our beds, sent ahead, hadn't come nor did they for several 
weeks. We lay down with the children on the cold, damp 
bricks and tried to sleep. I was sick, sick, sick; but I would 
have to pull myself together. I would have to learn to take 
it and to keep cheerful. Before morning I knew that it was 
not fear that was disturbing me; it was pregnancy. Wave after 
wave of nausea was all too familiar a symptom to be passed 
off as anything else. I had ample time to consider the chances 
for a child born in prison camp. Those long hours before 
daybreak were an all-time low. 

Hygienic conditions indeed! The first thing the men did 
the next morning was to wall off a corner of our small court- 
yard as a latrine. (It was in constant use as everyone had 
"camp tummy/') The next project was the building of a 

The Peach 109 

stove out of old bricks. Having scrounged (a good camp word) 
coal dust from the coal the Japanese officers burned, the men 
would sit down on the ground, mix the coal dust with mud, 
form it into balls and set it out to dry in the sun* This was the 
fuel we used in our fireplace type of stove. 

But for the first few weeks Fred had all the work to do 
alone. I tried again and again to get up and finally got it 
through my head that it was harder for him to have to clean 
up after me and dress the children than it was to just dress 
the children. Poor, dear man! I will never forget his efforts 
to get the Brown-Eyed One's dress over her wiggling, fat 
body, nor my agonizing to get my hands on it. "Worse than 
delivering a head through a contracted pelvis/' he would 

It was wonderful to be sleeping in a bed again and not 
on the cold floor. And I was more than grateful for all the 
kindness being shown me. Every day someone would come in 
with a tray of some precious hoarded delicacy. A bowl of 
mushroom soup became water from David's well, though I 
never had David's courage to pour it out upon the ground. 
Every drop was consumed and enjoyed, in spite of the 
sacrifice of it perhaps because of the sacrifice of it. 

Two of the nuns offered to go on teaching the two older 
boys. The new teachers were careful to send home each book 
for us to look over before they gave it to the children lest 
it contain some Catholic doctrine that we might be unwilling 
to have the children learn. 

And there was the cold, bitter March day when everyone 
was away from the house. The bare branch of the stripped 
tree was tapping at the window with such a melancholy 
sound that I burst into tears. The tapping of the branch be- 
came a knock at the door. 

"Come in," I said, when I had dried my eyes. Into the room 

no The Chinese Ginger Jars 

stalked a tall nun wearing a blue habit with a stiff white 
headdress sweeping up in wings from her scrubbed, shining 
face. She began to talk volubly in what I took to be Dutch. 
When she saw that she was not being understood, she 
made a quick tour of the room, searching everywhere, and 
finally found what she wanted underneath one of the beds 
a basket suitcase overflowing in all directions with dirty 
clothes. The thought of that ever-filling basket and my in- 
ability to do anything about it had been one of the reasons 
for my tears. She took the clothes away and brought them 
back a few days later transformed into sparkling clean and 
neatly ironed garments. The children called her "the Dutch 
Cleanser/* and until the day when the bare branch against 
the window became a bough of pink, and I knew that I 
could face the world once more, the Dutch Cleanser, bless 
her beautiful soul, performed these devotional ablutions once 
a week. 

It was indeed good to be up again, to be taking some of 
the burden from Fred so that he could be free to work in 
the hospital. A small building had been set aside and the 
sick of the camp were taken care of there. The doctors and 
nurses had gone from door to door, asking for each family's 
supply of drugs, huck towels to be used for operating towels, 
and bandages. It was a little frightening to give over every- 
thing for the common good when you did not know when 
your own family was going to need a drug that might already 
have been used up on someone else. But people were generous. 
The doctors had been allowed to bring in their instruments, 
and soon a reasonably well-equipped hospital was set up. 
We feared epidemics, but aside from "camp tummy," none 
broke out. When people complained to Fred that there 
seemed to be a lot of sickness, he would say, "It's only be- 
cause you know everybody and you know when a person is 

The Peach 1 1 1 

sick. There are really fewer than the average number who 
are ill." 

We never ceased to marvel at the way the fifteen hundred 
people in the camp met the emergency people from all 
walks of life, businessmen (two of them millionaires), 
Belgian and Dutch priests, nuns from several different coun- 
tries and from different orders, beachcombers, Protestant mis- 
sionaries, and prostitutes. These last came into camp with 
lovely auburn, gold, or platinum hair. As time went on, inch 
by inch of black, gray, or mouse appeared at the hairline, the 
children wonderingly reporting the progress of it on each 

We hadn't been in camp overnight before one of the 
millionaires planted gladiolus bulbs. When they bloomed, 
their flaming flags made us lift our heads a little higher as 
we walked by. We thought it was a little disconcerting to 
the Japanese to see the way this conglomeration of humanity 
formed itself into a community, elected its officers for self- 
government and appointed various camp duties. Three big 
kitchens were set up and the food doled out to us so that 
one could either eat it on the spot or carry it home. The 
children took turns standing in line with the bucket, for we 
preferred to eat together at home perched on beds and trunks 
with a small table between us. 

We were more than grateful for being allowed to live 
together as a family. One of our two small rooms was so 
filled with beds that the only way to get across the room was 
to kneel from bed to bed. This took care of the children, and 
our double bed all but filled the remaining room. To Fred, 
the greatest horror of internment was sweeping underneath 
those beds. But the two little rooms became home to us. 
There were curtains at the windows and a clean cloth on the 
little table. Our Chinese embroidered piece hung on one 

1 1 2 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

wall. We called it our culture corner. This, and a drop of 
perfume on my handkerchief, kept me from forgetting there 
was another world. 

There came a time when the curtains at the window had 
to be cut up and made into clothing. These were the curtains 
that had hung in the schoolroom at home in Tsining. They 
were of dark blue coolie cloth with appliqu<d suns and 
moons on them, and though these had been carefully ripped 
off, Fred's pair of shorts showed very clearly the outlines 
of sun and moon over each rump, much to the delight of the 
whole camp, especially when he bent over to do his stint of 
a thousand strokes at the communal pump each evening. 

Our own courtyard was a cross section of the entire camp 
a Greek restaurant owner and his wife; a Belgian with his 
wife and two boys; an American missionary couple, a British 
businessman and his wife, their twin boys and an adorable 
little girl whom everyone called "Queenie"; and another 
British businessman who had a Russian wife and two teen- 
aged children. In spite of the rumored "affair" of the Belgian 
wife, the continual Mah Jong playing of the Russian wife, 
and the continual pot-scouring of the Greek restaurant owner's 
wife (putting all the other housewives to shame), we all got 
along well together. We learned to walk softly on those days 
when one of us had had all that he or she could take, and to 
shut our ears tactfully when the angry shouts from one room 
became too loud. 

Fred was studying calculus, "I can think of only one thing 
worse than being interned/* I told him. "Being interned and 
studying calculus/' Certain of our number volunteered to 
teach the eighty classes in adult education, and one could study 
anything from flower arrangement to well, calculus; and 
there was a full-fledged school for the children. 

Sometimes I worked in the kitchen with a group of women, 

The Peach 113 

helping to prepare the stew, paring endless mounds of vege- 
tables that seemed to vanish without a trace in the huge 
cauldrons of water. One of my jobs was to help make break- 
fast "porridge." Orange peelings were collected from those 
who had been lucky enough to bring fruit in with them. 
These were dried and then cut into tiny pieces, an infinitesimal 
amount of sugar added and boiled with hunks of stale bread 
that had been allowed to soak overnight. This made a hot 
gruel that had better staying qualities for the working men 
than tea and dry bread all we were allotted for breakfast. 
Our family was able to avoid the hideous porridge for several 
weeks, until the cracked wheat gave out. Breakfast of whole- 
wheat porridge with no milk would have been a delight to 
us if we had not had to endure the smell of frying bacon as 
the Russian wife prepared quantities of it. She sometimes 
gave us a little bacon fat, and this we would use to fry 
potatoes fished out of the weak stew and covered with one 
or two beaten eggs for the seven of us. It was a feast for us, 
and to this day it is a favorite family dish, prepared now with 
lots of bacon and lots of eggs. 

The eggs were purchased from the black market and it went 
against my conscience to use them. 

"I know we don't actually buy the eggs ourselves/' I told 
the family, "but I don't like the idea of asking anyone else 
to sin for us." 

For the black market was run almost entirely by the Catholic 
Fathers who did not consider it a sin, and who did it as an act 
of service for the entire camp. 

"If we are caught and executed for this," they would say, 
"well, there will be one less priest in camp, but if one of the 
fathers of a family is caught, there is the added suffering of 
his wife and children." 

The priest at the head of the whole project was a mild- 

ii4 ^ e Chinese Ginger Jars 

mannered, saintly gentleman who belonged to an order whose 
priests take the vow of silence. He had done almost no talking 
in his fifteen years in the monastery, and now he was thrown 
into this vocal vortex of humanity where all such vows had 
to be laid aside temporarily. The priests used a clever system 
to inform each other of the arrival of a Japanese guard while 
the actual buying was in progress. Priests were stationed at 
intervals in all directions from the scene of the buying a 
corner of the back wall where the Chinese could bring their 
eggs, peanut oil, fruit and vegetables. As a guard approached, 
one watcher would scratch his head, the next man getting 
the signal would flip out his handkerchief, the next would 
bend over to pick up something, and in no time at all the 
news had spread, and the buyers and sellers would retreat 
to a place of safety. 

One day the Silent Father was almost caught. He disap- 
peared into a latrine, took off his cowled cloak, and came out 
smoking the cigarette of a man who had gone in before him. 
But though the Silent Father was threatened many times by 
the Japanese officers in charge, he still continued his benevo- 
lent, nefarious practices. At last he was caught with a chicken 
in his hand and was given his sentence solitary confinement 
in the small shed near the homes of the officers. 

His reply must have been somewhat disconcerting. "Thank 
you so much," he said to them. "I am used to solitary con- 
finement and I like it. In my cell at the monastery I was 
always alone and I could pray. Here in camp I have little 

Overnight he became the camp hero. Children wrote him 
notes and slipped them under the door of his shack; women 
saved the choicest food and prepared it especially for him. 
The officers in the nearby houses frowned upon this but had 
little to say. They would play Mah Jong until two or three 

The Peach 115 

o'clock in the morning, and what really troubled them was 
that this prisoner had the horrible habit of awaking at four to 
begin his devotions with loud hymns of praise. It was thought 
best to release him, and he was soon back at his old post by 
the outside wall. 

Thoughts of food filled all my waking hours. Nutritionists, 
interned with us, assured us that we would not starve to death 
on the diet we were getting. "Do our stomachs know that?'' 
my husband wanted to know. Mine felt as if it were in the 
last stages of starvation. Within reason, one could have all the 
bread one wanted, as the Japanese had confiscated large 
quantities of white flour, and the Belgian priests had con- 
structed ovens and were the self-appointed bakers. The chil- 
dren were continually filling up on their nicely baked bread, 
but the adults found it more and more difficult to face the 
endless slices with nothing to spread on them to make them 

These same nutritionists, realizing the lack of calcium in the 
diet, prepared ground eggshells for the pregnant and nursing 
mothers. We met everyday for "tea" of ground eggshells in 

Eggshells in bonebroth! When all I wanted from life was a 
plate of fried oysters and a mound of salted peanuts, and to 
have hot water enough to be clean just once. To look at my 
beautiful baby all grimy was bad enough, but to have to do 
it on an empty stomach was even worse. I vowed that I 
would never again accuse poor people of being shifdess and 
lacking initiative. I could not get my mind one peg above 
that plate of fried oysters. And I could do with a chair to 
sit on. 

"People are imagining all sorts of things about what we 
are suffering," I said to the missionary next door as we were 

116 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

doing our washing together, "and all I long for is food and 
a chair with a nice, comfortable back. Anyone with a baby 
in front needs a chair in back." 

"I wish you had the nice litde rocker I brought out from 
America with me," she said. "It belonged to my grandmother. 
I tried to bring it into camp with me but the Japanese wouldn't 
let me. Only beds, they said, could be brought. This little chair 
was so comfortable it just fit the small of your back." 

"Don't talk about it," I said. 

"You know, for the first time I realized how much God 
expected of Lot's wife, telling her to leave her beautiful home 
in the city, with all those litde treasures she'd been accumu- 
lating for years, and not even look back once. I tell you I 
looked back a good many times when I left my house." 

Lot's wife again. So much had happened since that night 
we had decided to leave Tsingtao. If I had it to do over again, 
would I do what I had done that next day or would I stay 
on in Tsingtao? I had to admit that I would have gone on 
into Tsining even knowing what I knew now. 

"You're very quiet," said the husband of the missionary 
next door as he came out of the house with a few more 
clothes for his wife to wash. "Come on into the house a minute. 
We have something for you." 

"I wanted to give it to you, but he wouldn't let me. He 
wants to have the fun himself," said his wife. 

We wiped the suds from our hands and went into the house. 

"Shut your eyes. Now open," said our friend. 

In his hand was a luscious Shantung peach. At the very 
sight of it I felt a lump rise in my throat. I knew that he 
had risked the danger of dealing with the men outside the 
wall, and oh, the peach was so beautiful that I had all I 
could do to keep from bursting into tears. 

'This is for you," he said, "but I will give it to you on one 

The Peach 117 

condition that you do not share it with anybody. You are to 
eat the whole thing yourself." 

After the long days of gristle floating in water with a few 
anemic vegetables added, the peach was from heaven. In the 
end I broke my promise, as he knew I would, and gave each 
member of the family a bite of it. 

Time lay upon us like a weight, but life fell into a pattern. 
There was the one daily pail of hot water, and a small one 
at that, for all the washing that needed to be done for the 
seven of us, including faces, hands, baths, and clothes. 
Little Brown-Eyed One, obsessed with getting her hands into 
any water available, would start calling "wata, wata," as soon 
as she was dressed. She would sit in the dust of the courtyard 
happily washing handkerchiefs in her little basin as long 
as I was there to work beside her. 

But life in camp was not all drudgery. The Negro band 
from the Peking Hotel was interned with us and they put on 
a dance every Saturday night. We were fortunate to have 
an excellent musician who led eighty voices in a glorious 
Holy Week production of Stainer's "Crucifixion." Hearing 
that music in such a place at such a time was an experience 
to remember. The solemn occasion was not without its mo- 
ment of humor when the Japanese commandant walked down 
the aisle, having arrived late, to the chorus singing at its peak, 
"Fling wide the gates, fling wide the gates, fling wide the 

The boys, now aged thirteen and eleven, were busy with 
scouting, organized games, and watching the baseball league 
with another Catholic Father hero as pitcher. The scout badges 
were squares of green felt with the scout emblem embroidered 
in gold by the nuns. 

The Golden-Haired One was happy as long as there were 

1 1 8 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

people around and she went from courtyard to courtyard, 
calling on her little friends and talking with their mothers 
and fathers. She came home with such bits of information as, 
"The little Russian woman in the next-courtyard-from-the- 
corner fought all night with her husband. She has a black 
eye. She told me she was going to leave him as soon as she 
can get out of here." 

Or, "You know the family that lives next to Susie's? [The 
other millionaire family.] Well, the children say they've never 
had such a good time before in all their lives. The mother 
used to leave them to the Nanny, that's a kind of amah, and 
go to a lot of parties and things all the time. Now they're 
having so much fun together that they don't want to leave 
even when the war is over!" 

Then one day little Fourth Child disappeared. We thought he 
was with his favorite, the kindergarten teacher. When he 
didn't come home, we sent the other children to his usual 
haunts to find him. One by one they came back without him. 
No one had seen him. Fred got tie men of the courtyard 
to help him and they scoured the camp. The child just 
hadn't been seen by anyone. I was so weak from anxiety that 
I could only lie on the bed and pray. By late afternoon 
Fourth Child still had not returned and the Japanese guards 
joined the search. They even let the men go outside the camp 
to the garbage pile to see if he had wandered out when the 
men had gone out to empty the refuse. (That ghastly place, 
the garbage pile, where poor, hungry Chinese beggars waited 
to snatch the awful refuse that we, hungry as we were, could 
not eat!) 

By this time the whole camp was alerted. We prayed as we 
had never prayed before. Then, just before dusk, he was dis- 
covered leaving the Japanese Commandant's headquarters with 

The Peach up 

an apple in his hand. He had had a wonderful day. The 
officers had taken him home with them and had shown him 
a cow and the new puppies and had given him candy and 
this apple and "Mummy, you're crying. What's the matter?'* 
The Japanese loved all growing things, children and 
plants. One afternoon when I was at home alone, a Japanese 
guard knocked at the door. He said something in Japanese 
that I didn't understand, but he finally made me know by a 
gesture of his hand that he wanted a pair of scissors. He was 
very gruff about all this and I couldn't imagine what he wanted 
with scissors until he pointed to the straggling tomato plants 
growing at our door. We had decided, after much discussion, 
to plant tomatoes instead of flowers in our two-by-four garden, 
since the children would need vitamin C. They were in for 
a good bout of deficiency if they were to depend on our 
tomato plants! When summer came and the pitiless Shantung 
sun beat down on our one-story house, we scrounged a piece 
of matting and made a slanting roof over the windows to keep 
the worst of its rays from penetrating. This shaded the tomato 
plants, which shot straight upward in pale shoots that bore 
no sign of fruit on their stalks. The soldier spent the after- 
noon skillfully trimming them, and in time the plants were 
prolific. He did not smile once, in spite of my repeated 
efforts to be friendly, and I never found out whether he felt 
sorry for us or for the tomato plants. 

I was ironing a little dress one morning when a friend of 
ours from the British American tobacco company dropped in. 

'Where's Fred?" he asked. 

"Over at the hospital, I suppose. Sit down there on the bed. 
And excuse my back. It's a major operation to turn around 
in this room. How's everything with you?" I asked. 

"Oh, fine. I hear Fred has a new recipe for tobacco," he 

i2o The Chinese Ginger Jars 

went on. Td like to try some. Would he mind?" 

"Of course not." I passed him the tin and went on ironing. 

He filled his pipe, lit it and took a few puffs. 

"Say, this is good really good," he said. "How did he 
make it?" 

The men swapped recipes for tobacco just as the women 
swapped recipes for making pancakes out of soppy bread 

'Tin not quite sure," I began, "I know he got the leaves from 
some of the priests who seem to be able to get them in. It 
must be grown near by." 

"It is. At one time we had this whole area planted in good 
seed. I never thought the day would come when I'd be 
smoking the stuff almost straight from the fields. But go on 
with the recipe." 

"You know the usual routine, I suppose, choosing out the 
good leaf and stripping away the stems and veins. Then he 
spread them out on that flat stone outside the door and 
smeared them all over thickly with some kind of goo." 

"Yes, yes, I know. But what was in the goo?" he asked. 

"I really don't know. You'll have to ask him. I know there 
was tea in it and that the pharmacist made him an extract 
of licorice. And then, of course, there was honey. 

"Ah, licorice. That's the flavor I was wondering about. 
Then what?" 

"He spread the goo over the leaves, added another layer 
and smoothed it on again until he had quite a pile. Then he 
rolled the whole thing up in one of my precious pieces of 
old sheeting; using my even more precious clothesline, he 
tied one end of it around a tree for purchase and wound 
the rope around the roll of tobacco, squeezing it with all his 
strength until he had a long 'sausage' completely covered by 
rope. This had to be dried and he put it up on the tin roof and 

The Peach 121 

had to run home from all meetings whenever rain threat- 
ened. After all this tender care, he used my best carving 
knife to shave the tobacco into shreds. Greater love hath no 
woman than this that she allow her husband to use her best 
carving knife for shaving tobacco. Fred will be flattered that 
you like it. Do you want some to put in your pouch?" I 
asked as I circled the starched ruffle with my iron. 

There was no answer. There was not a sound in the room. 
I twisted my head around and saw that I was alone. "How 
long have I been talking to myself?" I puzzled, and went on 
with my work. 

In a few moments he returned, his face a morbid shade of 
gray-green. "Whew! That stuff is powerful. I couldn't take it. 
I doubt if anyone outside of a longshoreman or a missionary 
could/' said our friend from the tobacco company. 

I loved doing the ironing, but the sweeping was another 
thing; I tried to get it done before Mr. Davies arrived. He was 
a man well along in years, a member of our own mission, and 
a tower of strength to me as the days went by. He would 
come into the room at about the time I would be sweeping 
the floor and, knowing that I would never let him do the work 
if he asked, he would take the broom from my hands and 
begin to scold me. 

"Haven't I told you before that this is not the way to 
sweep properly? First sprinkle the floor with water. Where 
is that basin I used last time I was here? I wonder if you will 
ever learn. [I liked mud even less than dust.] Now, sweep 
toward the door with long, firm strokes like this/' 

He didn't stop scolding until the floor had been swept. 
Then he would put the broom back in its place, smile with 
satisfaction and sit down for a while to philosophize. He was 
suffering from diabetes and I worried about him. I knew there 
were times when there was nothing at all that he could eat. 

122 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

'What have you learned so far from this concentration- 
camp experience?" he might ask. 

"I'm not at all sure that I have learned anything," I would 
reply, "except perhaps that one must walk to the edge of the 
gangplank and jump off before one can know that the limitless 
sea is actually there/* 

"Fairly good, but I don't like your metaphor. Say, rather, 
that you have learned that you are a child standing on a 
table, and that if you jump, you will surely find yourself in 
the arms of your Father/' 

"But you have to jump/' I would say. 

"Of course/' said our friend, stroking his neat white beard. 

Every month on a certain day the whole camp was turned 
out on the athletic field to be counted. The daily roll call was 
rather casually taken, courtyard by courtyard. On this scorch- 
ing August day, the fifteen hundred of us were lined up in 
rows of one hundred according to our assigned camp numbers. 
It should have taken a matter of minutes to count us; it took 
hours. Someone was at the hospital; another had lost his 
number, two were watching the ovens and shouldn't leave, 
and so forth. Children cried, babies vomited, adults fainted, 
and still one person was missing. It turned out to be the man 
they were sending to round up the others! After what 
seemed an eternity spent in a furnace, we were dismissed. 
I took the children back to the house while Fred went to the 
hospital to take care of the new influx of patients. Our old 
friend should have gone to bed at once* Instead, he came to 
see if we were all right. 

"Lie down there quietly with the children and I will tell 
you a story/' he said. "Once upon a time there were three 
ducks, a mother duck, a father duck, and a baby duck. While 
they were out walking one day, they came to the bank of a 
swollen stream. Father Duck said to Mother Duck, 'You swim 

The Peach 123 

across first; Baby Duck will follow you and I will come last 
to see that there is no danger from the rear/ So Mother 
Duck struggled bravely across and reached the bank safely. 
Baby Duck had a more difficult time but he made it, and 
at last Father Duck succeeded in getting across. They stood 
on the bank, shook their feathers, and, said Baby Duck with 
a sigh of relief, Isn't it wonderful that all five of us got 
across safely/ Now why did Baby Duck say 'all five of us'?" 

"I suppose Mother Duck was pregnant/' I offered. 

"Silly! Mother Ducks don't become pregnant; they lay 
eggs, remember? You have a one-track mind these days. No, 
you see Baby Duck was a Japanese army duck and he couldn't 

I knew now what Jesus meant when he warned the people to 
beware of wars and rumors of wars. There were times when 
the rumors were almost worse than the wars. One could hear 
anything in camp. One group made it their business to start 
rumors just to see how credulous people could be. The 
rumors kept getting more and more far-fetched until the 
bubble finally broke with the report that Churchill and 
Roosevelt had been on their way to call at the camp in 
person to do something about getting us out, when Churchill's 
camel got stuck in the sand at the edge of the Yellow River. 
When the rumormongers found that some people would 
actually believe this, they gave up in disgust and tried to find 
another method of relieving their boredom. 

I was better off than most of my co-sufferers because, for 
them, time stretched endlessly ahead, while I had something 
lovely to look forward to at the end of a fixed period of time 
the birth of my baby. It gave me something to count toward, 
something very much worth living for. 

Then, like a flowering cactus, the bulletin board blossomed 

124 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

a white notice. There was to be an exchange of internees! 
Japanese from the internment camps in America (then the 
Japanese officer in Tsining had been right after all!) were 
to meet Americans from the internment camps of Asia at 
the neutral port of Goa in Portuguese India. There the ex- 
change would be made. We only half believed it, but again 
the old question had to be faced would we have to be 
separated? For there were only five categories under which 
we could apply for repatriation; women and children came 
under one heading, but there was no category under which 
Fred could apply. We went to ask the advice of the obstetri- 
cian who was to take care of me. She did not say it in so many 
words, but she made it clear that anything might happen to 
me at the delivery even death and that I was in no con- 
dition to travel alone. Since we knew that the baby probably 
would be born en route, her question, in a low voice, "What 
would the children do then?" was more than enough to 
swing the decision. We filled out the papers waiving my right 
to repatriation and settled down for the "duration" (another 
good camp word). 

A few weeks later we were sitting on the stone in the court- 
yard after the day's work was done. The children were in bed. 
Fred and I were having a few moments before going in when 
Ralph Lewis, another of the doctors, stopped by and dropped 
down on the ground beside Fred. 

"I suppose youVe heard that the list is up/' he said. 

"What list?" Fred asked. 

"The list for repatriation/' he replied. 

"How can you be so calm about it?" I asked. "Isn't your 
name on it? Oh, I do hope so. You and Roberta have had to 
be separated so long." 

"Yes, my name is there. So is yours, you know?" 

"There must be some mistake," said Fred. 'We made out 

The Peach 125 

papers some time ago waiving Myra's right to go. No telling 
what might happen en route; we didn't dare let her go 
without me/' 

"Well, your name is on the list too, Fred, and so are all 
the children's/' 

We couldn't believe it, not even after we had lit matches 
and read the names on the bulletin board. 

Such a fever of excitement as we were in! One moment we 
would be filled with hope and the next minute plunged into 
despair, dreading the disappointment if our plans should once 
again fall through. And suppose that at the last minute they 
took Fred's name off and made me go alone with the 

But we went ahead sorting and packing our few belongings. 
Everything possible was to be left behind for those who were 
to remain; for of the fifteen hundred people in camp, only 
three hundred of us were chosen for repatriation. I exchanged 
my dresses for a few maternity clothes offered to me by a 
woman who had already had her baby. 

At last the day came when the three hundred chosen ones 
were to leave the camp. Another three hundred internees 
from the Cheefoo camp had been brought in the night before 
to take our places. 

We were led through the streets of the camp, crowded with 
people calling out "Good-by, and good luck!" then out of the 
gate, down a steep little hill, across a small stream and into 
a grove of trees. We sat on the ground to await the coming 
of the lorries that would carry us to the railway. The Brown- 
Eyed One crawled into my lap, and Fred took her litde hand 
in his. The other children were exploring the grove, happy 
in a new adventure. 

Fred and I were very quiet, filled with conflicting emotions. 
Fear were we really being taken out to safety or was this a 

126 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

trick, a way to rid the camp of three hundred extra people? 
Sorrow at the thought of those who were left behind, and 
joy surely joy that we were at least outside the gate with 
the real possibility of freedom before us. A light breeze brushed 
the trees and the leaves stirred. 

"Fred, they are clapping their hands!" I said. "The leaves 
are clapping their hands! The verse is coming true!" 

Just then the whole hillside before us burst forth into 
singing as the fifteen hundred clambered for places along the 
wall and raised their voices in "There'll Always Be an 
England," "God Bless America," and "God Be With You Till 
We Meet Again." 

We went out with joy, and were led forth with peace: the 
mountains and the hills broke forth before us into singing, 
and all the trees of the field clapped their hands. 


Lao Shou IRsing, 

the ^Birthday JPairy 

Ralph Lewis made his way down the car toward us, lurching 
back and forth with the movement of the train, picking his 
way between the sleeping bodies on the floor. He reached the 
place where we were sitting and leaned over to ask confi- 
dentially, "Have you noticed the ankles?" 

"Yes, I have/' said Fred. "Is there anything we can do 
about it?" 

The two doctors went on talking. I remembered something 
about swollen ankles and poor nutrition and could see that 
the men were worried about us. The trip from the intern- 
ment camp to the seaport of Shanghai should not have taken 
more than thirty-six hours. None of us knew why it was taking 
three days. We would go a few miles and then stop for long 
periods of time. The food had long since been eaten all that 
had not spoiled the first night and we were so crowded that 
it was almost impossible to sleep. First-Born and Second- 
Born and the other boys of their age had kept on their feet 
so that the older folk might have a place to sit. They would 
stand up as long as they could and then lie down in the aisle, 
curling themselves up as small as possible to avoid being 
stepped on. I looked down at our boys* ankles; swollen, yes, 
but not as terribly swollen as some of those sitting near us. 


J2 8 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

Would we ever get to Shanghai? There we would at least 
have food and water. The hours inched by and at last we 
neared the city limits. The train stopped, we thought to get 
the all-clear signal; but when it started again it was going 
in the opposite direction and this it continued to do for an 
hour or more. At once the rumors began to fly. 

"Back to Nanking! They're taking us back to Nanking! 
Well be put in a camp there! The repatriation is off. . . ." 

Late in the afternoon the train stopped again, and when it 
started this time, it was headed in the right direction. 

At long last we arrived in Shanghai and piled out of the 
train. The railway station had just been bombed in fact 
was being bombed as our train had been about to pull in. But 
the unloading was allowed to proceed, our men grumbling 
at the weight of the heavy trunks some of the women had 
insisted on bringing out of camp. Lifting a heavy trunk, even 
with plenty of help, was almost more than most of the men 
could manage. 

We were crowded into buses and taken out to the campus 
of one of the universities; I think it was St. John's. Oh, the 
smooth, green lawns! We stumbled out of the buses and 
stretched full length on the sweet-smelling grass. 

Here we were to await the arrival of our repatriation ship. 
The time was filled with endless inspections of what luggage 
we had. It meant constant repacking and we were so tired. 
But there was just a little less to pack after each inspection. 

American money was one of the objects of search. Hems of 
dresses were felt carefully, shoulder pads ripped open, shoe 
soles torn off, and long hair thoroughly combed out. The girl 
in line in front of me turned and whispered, "What shall I 
do? I have an American check that my father sent me for 
Christmas two years age It is tucked into the roll of my hair/' 
It was too late to do anything about it. When the Japanese 

Lao Shou Hsing, The Birthday Fairy 129 

police woman reached us, all she said was, "Never mind 
taking your hair down/' We never knew why this particular 
girl was thus exempted. 

It was with mixed feelings that we boarded the Japanese 
ship, the Teia Maru. We were not at all sure where we 
were going to be taken. The Teia had come over from Japan 
carrying American repatriates from that country. Later a 
missionary already on board told me that as we walked up the 
gangplank she had turned to a Japanese officer and said, "I 
take it that the people with the blue rosettes in their lapels 
are the diplomats. Who are these now coming up [indicating 
our large family] wearing red rosettes?" 

"Those," he replied, "are the hardened criminals." 

When we were given our accommodations, I was surprised 
to find that the three youngest children and I had been as- 
signed to a very good cabin with three berths. Fred and the 
boys were down in the lowest hold where the wooden bunks 
had been hastily erected to hold several hundred passengers. 
The boys, now thirteen and eleven, were suddenly thrust from 
their sheltered living into a maelstrom of life in the raw; 
for in this hold, under these terribly crowded conditions, were 
men who were constantly drunk. Some of them smuggled 
women into various off-corners (some of the corners not so 
off!). There were constant fights with knives or fists. All 
of this became a daily occurrence to the boys. They said little 
but they looked very thoughtful. 

Our ship had formerly been one of the French Line's 
"Three Musketeers." It had been called the Aramis, and had 
been a beautiful ship in its day, but after its capture it had 
been allowed to deteriorate. There must have been a quantity 
of excellent wines and liqueurs on board, for these were now 
being sold to the long-deprived men at exorbitant prices. 
Since the Japanese yen was the only currency we were 

130 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

allowed to use, and since it all had to be spent while on 
board, it was no trial at all for the drinkers to pay the amounts 
demanded. Even the missionaries were willing to spend ten 
of these Japanese dollars for an extra cup of coffee now 
and then. 

I found it more and more difficult to eat the food set 
before me. The diet of rice filled with worms was almost 
more than I could take. 

"Eat it," Fred would say to me, "eat every bit of it/' 

"But the worms!" I would protest. 

"You're just lucky to be getting that much extra protein/' 
he would reply. 

Fred was getting weaker too. It struck me with a blow when 
I discovered that all of the passengers had to reach out 
for the handrail in order to pull themselves up the short flights 
of stairs. One day when Fred was carrying the Brown-Eyed 
One up a ladder, his knees buckled under him and he fell. 
Fortunately neither of them was hurt. 

"It's the vitamin B deficiency," Fred told me, 'We'll make 
it up when we get on board the other ship at Goa." 

There came a day when I was too weak to get out of bed. 
I just lay there wondering what I was going to do. Fred 
tried to help me up, but I could not stand on my feet. I had 
been saving one can of evaporated milk so that if there were 
no milk at all when the baby was born, we could at least 
have something to start on. There was a great feeling of 
security in owning that can of milk, and it was with difficulty 
that Fred persuaded me there just wouldn't be any baby unless 
I drank it then. He borrowed some cocoa from a woman down 
the hall, heated some water and gave me drinks of the 
chocolate throughout the morning. By night I was able to 
get up again. 

Lao Shou Hsing, The Birthday Fairy 131 

"Darling," I said to Fred one morning, "stop reading for a 
minute and look around the deck/' 

He looked up from his Bible and saw at once what I meant; 
people sat propped up against smokestacks or lay full length, 
chins cupped in hands; every person in sight was reading 
a Bible! This, by the way, was the first time I had ever seen 
a woman smoking a cigarette as she read her Bible. The only 
other books allowed us were Japanese propaganda leaflets, 
which the children used for making paper airplanes and 
flying darts. With the exception of the Bible, nothing written 
or printed could go with us out of camp, and if the Bible 
were marked or underlined in any way, that too had to stay 
behind. The Golden-Haired One had prayed that the Japanese 
would not take away her Bible, and as the examiner had 
flipped through its pages, not one of the many marked verses 
did he find. 

The ship continued on its course, down the coast of China 
to Hong Kong, on to a port not far from Manila, then to 
Saigon (a wonderful day it was, sailing up the Mekong 
River with lush green on either side), then Singapore, through 
the Straits of Sunda, past Karaktau, the volcanic island which 
upset half the world by its eruption; steadily nearing Goa, our 
neutral port of destination on the west coast of India. At no 
port en route were we allowed to disembark; in fact, the 
ship always anchored well out to sea. 

At the Philippines we had taken on more internees, among 
them the wives of some of the men already on board. It was 
a glorious day of rejoicing; some of the couples had not seen 
each other for two years. 

Soon after this new influx of passengers, I was standing 
on deck near a group of them one morning when they began 
to pass around a box of salted Spanish peanuts. For all those 

The Chinese Ginger Jars 

months at camp I had been dreaming of salted peanuts, I 
wanted some of those peanuts so badly that the craving for 
them could hardly be suppressed. I was standing a little apart 
from the group and only with difficulty could I keep from 
thrusting myself forward. I waited greedily as the box passed 
from person to person. Surely they had seen me there. But no, 
they went on talking and laughing and the box of salted 
peanuts went the rounds and was put away. 

Fred found me later lying on the berth crying uncon- 
trollably. Taking me in his arms, he tried to quiet me. He 
was greatly relieved when Dr, Harold Loucks came in for 
his daily call. (We hoped Harold would deliver the baby if 
it were born en route.) In our embarrassment at being caught 
thus, the story was blurted out. Harold asked his usual daily 
questions about my condition and went out. He came back in 
a few minutes with a medicine glass filled with the precious 
salted peanuts. 'Just what the doctor ordered/' he said. It 
did not lessen my embarrassment, but I ate the nuts one by 
one, chewing each nut carefully, lingering over each one. 
To this day, when any lack of security threatens, I find myself 
having to go out to buy peanuts. 

The days went by. There were games with the children and 
there were long hours of interesting conversation on deck 
with many colorful people: the General, a Canadian who had 
spent years with the Chinese army and who told tales stranger 
than fiction; the maiden authoress who had had a child for the 
experience of child-bearing and who smoked long black cigars 
in the evening; the beachcomber who, since coming on board, 
had beaten up so many people that he had been confined to 
the brig on deck. The two boys held conversations with him. 
They had to be careful because at times he was really violent. 

Conversation, Bible reading, and an occasional card game 
helped to count off the calendar. It was during a rather boring 

Lao Shou Hsing, The Birthday Fairy 133 

game of bridge that we came to realize the danger we were in. 
Our foursome was sitting on deck under a lifeboat, using it 
as a shield from the tropical sun. One of the men began to 
speak in a low voice. "Don't tell this to the others. I wouldn't 
tell you except that IVe got to tell somebody or bust. The 
other night I came up here completely frustrated by this 
awful inactivity. I rammed my fist against one of these life- 
boats in desperation. My fist went straight through the wood! 
So I made a tour of the deck. Not one of these boats is sea- 
worthy. That accounts for the fact that we haven't had a 
boat drill since we've been on board. Fifteen hundred of us, 
and no way to save us if a submarine happens to mistake us 
for an enemy! It's a great life ... if you live." 

Goa at last, her lovely green hill topped by the old-world church 
of St. Francis Xavier; the comforting smell of wind blowing 
across earth! I am sure I am a direct descendant of that first 
little fish that crawled up out of the ocean to dry land. Now, 
after all the miserable days at sea, we were allowed to walk 
along the quay and a few steps farther down into the green 
fields near by. Fred couldn't understand why I hadn't learned 
to love the sea during our many voyages. Whenever we sailed 
past a visible stretch of land, he would ask, "Do I have to lash 
you to the mast as they did Ulysses to keep you from striking 
out and swimming to shore?" 

We had expected that the Swedish ship, the Gripsholm, 
would be there to meet us. We scanned the horizon each day 
but no ship came in sight. Again we were set upon by rumors, 
this time in the form of a pun. "Goa is as far as we are Goan." 
It wasn't very funny, and when you'd heard it even a few times 
with fear at the pit of your stomach, you were ready to throw 
the next punster overboard. 

But one day the dream came true. A tiny speck appeared on 

134 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

the horizon and the news sped through the ship like a grass 

"The Gripsholm is coming! The Gripsholm is coining!" Fif- 
teen hundred of us crowded the forward decks. We sang, we 
waved handkerchiefs, we shouted. Then, first one of us and 
then another remembered the Japanese on board the incoming 
vessel who would have to take our places here. Why had these 
Japanese, so well off in America, chosen repatriation? No 
doubt we would find out when they arrived. 

I was humiliated to have the first-hand evidence that what 
the Japanese officer had told me in Tsining was true. The 
Japanese, so soon to board this ship carrying with them Ameri- 
can cameras, sewing machines, good shoes and clothing, had 
chosen to return to Japan in many instances because it was 
their only hope of being reunited as a family, the father having 
been interned in one camp and the mother and children in 
another. No doubt there were zealous patriots among their 
number too, but it was clear they had no idea of what lay be- 
fore them; nor, if the tales of the American repatriates from 
Japan could be trusted, of the weight of suspicion that would 
fall upon them as soon as they reached their ancestral shores. 

One youngster had a photograph album which she showed 
to a missionary from Japan. It contained several photos of her 
brother in the uniform of the United States Army. 

"Do destroy these, or give them to me to keep for you/* the 
missionary pleaded. "This can be a source of great difficulty 
for you. 7 ' 

But the girl remained firm. 

"Surely the authorities of Japan will excuse those who, like 
my brother, have remained loyal to the United States, for 
they were brought up from childhood there/' 

It was evening and the exchange was to be made the next 
day. We were to board the Gripsholm in the morning. Of- 

Lao Shou Hsing, The Birthday Fairy 135 

ficially none of us had even seen one of the Japanese from 
America, but there had been many instances of "fraternizing," 
since both parties could hardly wait for news of what was 
happening in their respective countries. Now Fred and I were 
standing on the deck of the Japanese ship watching the clean, 
fine-looking officers from the Griysholm as they walked back 
and forth along the wharf. 

"I wonder if one of them has an orange in his pocket/' I 
said. Dear Heavenly Father, would I ever again be able to 
think of anything except food? 

Yet when it came, the abundance of it hurt us. We had 
lined up that morning single file and had presented our papers. 
We were asked not to go below until our cabins had been 
thoroughly cleaned. The whole ship looked spotless to us 
gleaming white smokestacks with the blue and gold crest, 
shining brass, freshly uniformed staff. While we were still 
waiting, the Red Cross personnel lined us up again. Each of us 
was to receive a gift of the hugest chocolate bar I have ever 
seen. Those in the approaching line were beside themselves 
with impatience, so those of us in the line with bars already in 
our hands would break off a piece to give to someone who had 
not as yet passed the table, admonishing him to return the 
piece when he had received his own bar. 

And now a smorgasbord was being prepared on deck. The 
waiters found it difficult to get through as the people crowded 
for a sight of the food. Whole roasted turkeys, whole cheeses, 
whole hams, heaped-up salads, gallons of fruit juices, real 
butter and snowy Swedish breads were being brought up from 
the galley, and with the arrival of each tray, cheers would ring 

Fred and I stood a little apart to avoid being crushed in 
the surge forward to see each tray. "I can't bear it," I said, 
"when I think of those who are left behind. The whole camp 

136 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

could be fed for a week on this one meal This is a strange 
experience, isn't it? Now we are free and have everything; the 
day we dreamed of has come, and it is the very dream-come- 
true, the abundance, that hurts/* 

"I know," he said. "I suppose we are in a position to appreci- 
ate the riches of life more fully than almost anyone we know, 
and yet we will never be able to accept them again com- 

What a feast that was! But how very little we could eat. It 
was frustrating to see all this good food and to have a stomach 
shrunk to a size that could hold only a small helping. The fruit 
juice ran like a river in flood and I could get down only one 
glass of it. We found that it was days before some of us could 
digest anything as rich as whole milk. The Brown-Eyed One 
was the wise one of the family; she didn't try to eat some of 
everything, but contented herself with applesauce and bread 
and butter. 

On the second day out at sea I met the captain. With my 
characteristic inattention to stripes and bars, I thought he was 
a steward. 

'When will we reach New York?" I asked him. 

"That I am not allowed to tell you," he replied with a kindly 
smile. "This much I will say you will not arrive before I do/' 

"Somebody else may arrive before either of us gets to New 

"Now, my dear, you are not to worry about that arrival. I 
will get you to New York in time, and if I do not, we have 
three doctors and six nurses and all of the needed equipment 
to welcome the coming one." 

And we will use it, I thought. This passenger was due to 
arrive three weeks before we could possibly reach New York. 

Lao Shou Hsing, The Birthday Fairy 137 

Gradually it began to sink into our consciousness that we were 
free, that we were approaching friendly waters, that we could 
give way to the luxurious relaxation of free people. Strangely, 
it was only then that I began to have nightmares. Up to that 
time, even when there had been much to fear, I slept well 
each night and was kept in peace the peace of God that 
passes understanding. "If I could only accept Him fully with 
my subconscious mind as well, I wouldn't have these terrible 
dreams/' I told Fred. 

I would hear again and again the scuff-clump-scuff of the 
heavy-booted soldiers coming up the walk. The soldiers would 
take Fred off and I would hear a shot; or we would all be lined 
up against a wall and I would be trying to give the children 
that one last reassuring word that would take them into heaven 
without fear. I would wake up shaking as if I had malaria and 
it would be a few minutes before I could realize that we were 
all safe and on our way home. 

Home was a wonderful word to think about; home and 
family, after all these years of separation! We had had an un- 
expected thrill in finding a large packet of letters waiting for us 
at Goa. It had been two full years since we had received a letter 
from anybody, and it hadn't occurred to us that there would be 
mail en route. To my intense relief I learned that my father, 
a semi-invalid, would be waiting to welcome us home. During 
the two years of no letters I had dared to hope that he would 
live to see us again, and God had answered my prayer. I found, 
too, that I had my first sister-in-law. Letters were wonderful. 

Some farsighted person had seen to it that copies of current 
and back issues of magazines were placed on board our ship. 
We were amazed to find that in the comparatively short span of 
two years the language had changed so that it was often unin- 
telligible. What was a "WAG" or a 'WAVE"? What was 

138 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

"ack-ack"? Above all, what was a "jeep"? Every other para- 
graph contained a word that made the meaning of what we 
read obscure. We finally guessed that a "jeep" was some kind of 
vehicle and at last someone found a picture of one and it was 
passed around the ship, so that that mystery, at least, was 

Port Elizabeth on the tip of South Africa, and what a warmth 
of welcome! The whole city turned out to meet us. We were 
surprised to see so many people in uniform. One could hardly 
find a man or a woman on the streets in civilian clothes. It 
was good to feel pavement under my feet and to look up to 
tall buildings again. We stood still for a moment, looking up 
at the American flag flying from one of the buildings. It was 
the first time we had seen it flying for years, and I, who had 
always scoffed at sentimental patriots, who called myself a 
citizen of the world, wept at the sight of it. 

The children's one memory of Port Elizabeth is that each 
of us was given a whole pint of ice cream and that the Brown- 
Eyed One ate hers at one sitting, a feat which none of the rest 
of us could accomplish. 

Leaving Africa, we sailed toward the coast of South America 
and on up to Rio, that fabulous city with its emerald harbor. 
The ship's doctor advised against going ashore. "The baby 
is a week overdue," he warned. 

"I can't miss the one opportunity of a lifetime to see Rio," 
I said. "The baby has taken so many chances so far, can't we 
risk one more?" 

We were soon walking up the quay toward a sparkling white 
building where members of the Evangelical Church were 
waiting to take us out to see the city. A dear little picture-book 
lady stepped forward to greet us. She was Mrs. Oliveira. She 
told us afterward that when she saw the five children, she 

Lao Shou Using, The Birthday Fairy 139 

said to the man in charge, "Oh, do let me have that family/' 

"You are certainly a brave woman to have taken this family/' 
my husband told her. "It would be difficult to find a larger 
one or one in a more bedraggled state. At least we are now 
shod, thanks to the American Red Cross who rescued Second- 
Born from his barefoot bliss just before we got off the ship/' 

We had such a memorable day. We were driven by Mrs. 
Oliveira's chauffeur to the top of Sugar Loaf to see the beauti- 
ful panorama below. The boys were intrigued by the charcoal- 
burning attachment at the rear of the car. There were many 
such in Rio since gasoline was scarce due to the war. Mrs. 
Oliveira then took us to her sunny home at the seashore to 
spend the rest of the day. The next morning, before the ship 
sailed, our new-found friend was at the wharf to see us off. 
She had brought a gift for everyone of us, including the baby 
for whom we were restlessly waiting. 

Rio de Janeiro was still two weeks from New York. In some 
ways they were the longest two weeks in the seventy-two day 
voyage. We learned later that there had been a large number 
of bets laid as to whether or not I would reach New York 
before the baby's arrival. Fellow passengers also amused them- 
selves by choosing names for the child. "Gripsholm Maru," 
for both ships, was one of the gruesome suggestions. 

But at last the journey neared its close. The boys' only regret 
was that we hadn't been hit by a torpedo so that they could 
put to sea in one of the Gripsholm's well-equipped lifeboats. 
The F.B.L, having come aboard at Rio, combed the entire ship. 
We did not seem to be suspicious characters, much to Fred's 
disappointment. He wanted a chance to chat with those men. 

We were gathering on deck for our usual evening prayers. 
The nuns would soon be singing their beautiful "Stella Mans" 
and the whole ship would be joining reverently in the singing 
of "God Bless America" as we had every evening since leaving 

The Chinese Ginger Jars 

Goa. One of the ship's officers came up to a Red Cross nurse 
and, motioning across the deck to where we were standing, 
said, "Can't you do something about that woman?" 

"Why should I?" the nurse asked. 

"She's three weeks overdue/' 

"I guess you can stand it if she can." 

"But you don't know what I'm up against. The ship's mani- 
fest has to be complete before tomorrow. We don't know 
whether we are landing with fifteen hundred passengers or 
fifteen hundred and one. And besides, that one is going to 
be an alien, don't forget. This ship is flying the Swedish flag, 
and if the kid is born outside the three-mile limit, it'll be a 
Swede. Do you know how many complications that will cause? 
Brother! Well, see to it that she either has it tonight or not un- 
til every last man is ashore." 

"Aye, aye, sir. Just anything you say, of course." 

The next night the ship moved slowly into the harbor. 
There before us were the shores of our own country. We could 
see the headlights of cars slipping through the blackness. What 
would it feel like to ride in a car again? 

Daylight of December i, 1943, and the whole ship going 
completely mad! Before us stood the Statue of Liberty. We 
were all shouting, singing, dancing. Fred took me in his arms 
and together we danced around the deck. 

"We're home," he said to me. "We're home!" 

A Catholic priest standing near us took off his hat and 
addressed the Lady in the Harbor. "Old girl, take it from me, 
I'll never go so far away from you again that I can't be re- 
patriated by streetcar." 

"How much longer will it be before we get off the ship?" 
the children asked. 

"Several hours yet," said a passing steward. "You ought 
to get oif about lunchtime." 

Lao Shou Using, Tine Birthday Fairy 141 

Lunchtime. Then I would have to see the ship's doctor. 
There was no use putting it off any longer. 

"No!" groaned the doctor. "You can't do this to me. We've 
had everything ready for you for the last three weeks. How 
many times have we had to resterilize that maternity packet? 
Now everything is locked up; the quarantine officers are on 
board. Listen, you can't have the baby now. Do you hear me? 
You can't have it now. Go down to your cabin, get into bed 
and don't move. I'll call for an ambulance right away and it 
will be on the dock when we get there." 

I felt like repeating the nurse's words to the ship's officer, 
"Aye, aye, sir. Just anything you say, of course." 

I lay in my bunk as quietly as I could. Fred sat beside me 
holding my hand. It was then that I named her, knowing for 
a certainty that it would be a girl Victoria "Thanks be 
unto God who giveth us the victory." 

Lunchtime came and went. Mrs. Ruth Shipley herself, the 
head of the United States Passport Division, newly arrived 
from Washington, cleared our passports for entrance. At last 
the gangplank was down and our family were the first passen- 
gers to disembark. 

"You would fix it so that we go off before the diplomats/' 
said Fred. 

The ambulance was waiting for me, but what would we do 
with the children? We piled them all into the ambulance with 
us. There they sat in a row watching me with agonized ex- 
pressions on their faces as I winced with pain. 

"Drive to the hotel," I said to Fred. "You and the children 
get off there and I'll go on to the hospital. You know how it is 
with me. Some day I may learn how to have a baby quickly, but 
you'll have plenty of time to give the children their supper and 
put them to bed. Then you can come up to the hospital and 
we'll have the baby in peace." 

The Chinese Ginger Jars 

The ambulance sped on through the city. I was determined 
that the baby should be born before Fred could get there. He 
had had to bear enough of my suffering already. The radio 
had been giving hourly bulletins, "Grvpsholm races with 
stork!" But of this I knew nothing. 

Met by Dr. Theodore Reed, the kindest of doctors, I was 
cared for lovingly and skillfully and, of necessity, with celerity! 
Victoria Fairchild Scovel was born before I reached the de- 
livery table. An intern came in when it was all over. 

"You came thirty thousand miles/' he said, "and you couldn't 
make the last three feet/' 


(flowering Plum) 

I don't expect heaven to look any more wonderful than Presby- 
terian Hospital did that next morning when I woke up. It 
was all over the danger, the dirt, the hunger; the baby was 
perfect, if weak and tiny. And the nurses and doctors and 
dietitians were so good to me. I was among people who really 

We had apparently made the headlines in our "Gripsholm- 
races-with-stork" episode, and everyone was being very careful 
not to let the press in to see me. There was a hospital rule to 
the effect that newspapermen were not allowed in the mater- 
nity ward for publicity purposes. This meant no visitors except 
the carefully screened few, and I enjoyed the quiet with only 
the family and a few friends. 

We had hoped that Beloved Grandmother would be in New 
York to meet us, but she was suffering from a virus infection, 
and her doctor advised against her leaving Cortland where 
she had gone to visit her old friends. Instead, Beloved Grand- 
mother asked our cousin, Harriet Day Allen, who was more 
like a sister than a cousin, to meet us in New York. Harriet 
took over the care of the children at the Prince George Hotel. 

The morning after our arrival, Harriet took the children 
down to breakfast in the coffee room. Fred had left early to 


144 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

get our baggage through customs. As the children sat eating 
piles of pancakes, a gentleman came into the room, and find- 
ing no vacant table, sat down with Fourth Child and the 
Brown-Eyed One. When his order of bacon and eggs arrived, 
he pushed the plate away from him and called the waitress 
to complain about the cooking of the eggs. The Brown-Eyed 
One pushed the plate back in front of him, saying, "Eat it. 
It's food/' 

We literally sneaked out of the hospital and down a freight 
elevator the day I was discharged, Dr. Reed coming with me 
to put me into a taxi that would take me to the railway station. 
I rather doubt that the press was that interested in me, but 
at any rate, either we avoided the reporters or they weren't 
there in the first place. Fred and the children met me at the 
station. We were to spend Christmas in my home in Mechanic- 
ville, and Beloved Grandmother would join us there. 

Christmas in the bosom of my own family was all that I had 
dreamed it would be. But now we had to hurry on to Rochester, 
New York. Fred was to work in the medical department of 
Eastman Kodak. No one could guess when, or if, missionaries 
would get back to China, and the Board had asked us to find 
other work if possible. Fred wanted to do something for the 
war effort but was not well enough or strong enough to 
enlist. He had lost forty pounds from his already thin frame. 
At Eastman he would be working for the navy. 

"You'll never find a house/' my father warned. "Do you 
two have any idea what housing is in this day and age?" 

But again I had a Bible verse to cling to. In the first batch 
of mail to reach us at Goa, a friend had sent a verse that had 
become a prayer: "Behold I send an angel before thee to keep 
thee in the way, and to bring thee to the place which I have 
prepared/' Fred went up to Rochester for one day and found 
the first furnished house in the whole city that had been on the 

The Mei Hua I45 

real estate list of available houses that year. It was on the list 
for one hour on the only day that Fred was able to be in Ro- 
chester for house hunting* 

Life in Rochester was perfect. And to make it even more 
perfect, we had a visit from the Magistrate of Hsiang Wen. 
He was now a famous man, serving on international com- 
mittees for which purpose he was in America at the time. 

After dinner that night I said to him, "Come now, you are 
no longer a magistrate; you're taking orders from me. Let's 
all do the dishes together because in the first place, I want 
them out of the way, and in the second place, I don't want to 
miss a word of your conversation/' 

"I'd love to help with the dishes/' he replied. "Nobody but 
you would ever ask me to wipe dishes." 

When the last pan had been washed and the sink cleaned, 
I reached for the bottle of hand lotion on the shelf and poured 
a generous dollop into my palm. 

"Just like American women," said the Magistrate. "The 
hardest-worked women in the world, but they never forget to 
be beautiful." 

In the living room, puffing his English pipe, he was thought- 
ful. We had asked him to give the Littlest One her Chinese 

"I've got it," he said. "Mei Hua is just the name for her. 
'Mei' for America and 'Hua' for China. All of your children 
have this 'Hua' character in their Chinese names in accordance 
with true Chinese custom, so this is entirely appropriate." 

"Mei Hua. I like it very much," I said. "It's the name of a 
flower, isn't it?" 

"Now you are getting your Chinese characters confused," 
he said. "The two characters for Mei Hua, the flowering plum, 
are different ones and are spoken in a different tone. Here, 
give me that envelope, I'll write them for you. See? These are 

146 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

the ones for the flowering plum. She is as sweet as a flower* 
Call her that, if you like/' 

"Oh, I remember the La Mei Hua!" I said. "It is like no other 
flower on earth. We had a bush of it in our garden in Tsining. 
The colder the winds blow, the more profusely it blooms and 
the more fragrant it becomes/' 

"That's something else again," said the Magistrate. "But 
do you know that some famous gardeners tie ice along the 
boughs of the La Mei in order to improve its flowers?" 

"If our daughter could be like the La Mei!" I said. "Fragrant 
in the midst of adversity . . ." 

"Before my Woman-from-the-inside-of-the-house' becomes 
even more confused, let's get back to the original idea," said my 
husband. "I agree with you. 'America and China' is just the 
name for her." 

'We shall call her Mei Hua, certainly," I said. "You two 
can think of her as 'America and China' if you like, but I shall 
think of her as the La Mei." 

America and China! The boys used to say there was only 
one thing wrong with our kind of life when you were in 
America, you wished you were in China, and when you were 
in China, you wished you were in America. America certainly 
looked wonderful to us this time. I never turned on a hot-water 
faucet without being thankful for that continuing warm stream 
flowing from it. The children would fill a glass with cold water, 
drink what they wanted from it and put the remainder on the 
shelf above the sink to be drunk later. And coffee! To be able 
to have coffee again! We drank nine cups a day the first month 
we were home. 

We were appalled by the amount of food people wasted 
whole slices of bread, leftover meat, fruit with a small spot 
on it, all dumped into the garbage can. I remembered every day 
what a peach had meant to me, or that handful of peanuts. 

The Mei Hua 

When we were in camp, we used to joke about eating in a 
restaurant when we got out: we feared we would forget our- 
selves and say to some well-dressed man at the next table, 
"Pardon me, sir, but are you going to eat that piece of steak 
youVe left on your plate? If not, Id be glad to eat it for you/' 

The day the war ended we had invited friends for a picnic 
supper at a nearby park. The food was spread out on the table 
and we were just ready to eat it when every whistle and bell 
and automobile horn in the city suddenly went wild. 

'The war must be over!" we said to one another. First-Born 
ran home to get the news over the radio and hurried back to 
tell us it was true. 

"Isn't it glorious? Isn't it wonderful? Now those back in 
camp will be free! I almost wish I were there today, don't you 
darling?" I asked. 

Fred was looking up across the treetops, a sandwich halfway 
to his mouth. "I must write the Board tonight," he said. 

He went back to China alone. No passports were being 
issued to women and children nor was there any passage avail- 
able for us. Fred went out on a troop ship. He wrote long, daily 
letters of his trip to our old mission stations through north and 
north central China, trying to find a location for his future 
medical work. He enjoyed the survey, traveling by train, by 
river boat, by cycle, walking miles and miles over the Shan- 
tung roads, sleeping at night with the farmers who gave him 
their best accommodations the barn with the animals be- 
cause the heat from their bodies made it the warmest room in 
the house. He had a wonderful reunion with the friends in 
Tsining and was almost caught by Communist troops when he 
all but presented the wrong pass. It had been a temptation to 
remain in Tsining, but the Communists were so active there 
that he feared that no work would remain open long. The 
hospital was being run by one of the nurses, so he left it at that 

The Chinese Ginger Jars 

and went on down to Anhwei province. 

He finally chose Huai Yuan, a village at the fork of two 
rivers. Our mission hospital there had been doing excellent 
work before the war. Now there was nothing left but the shell 
of a building. Floors, window frames and doors had been torn 
out, and every movable piece of furniture had been removed. 
Soldiers who had been left behind because they were ill were 
lying on the dirt floors, 

Fred's first task was to get these patients moved to a better 
location and then to clean up one small building so that he 
could open an outpatient department. He found a man in the 
village who had once been a nurse in the hospital, and another 
who had been a laboratory technician. A former hospital coolie 
was added to the staff, and the work began. So great had been 
the former reputation of the hospital that as soon as the doors 
were opened, Fred was deluged with patients. 

Then, almost at once, a cholera epidemic confronted the 
meager staff. A village doctor offered his services and the tiny 
crew worked day and night. There were no beds at all, and 
the cholera sufferers were stretched out on the floor of the 
clinic building so that it was hard to avoid stepping on them. 
The treatment was normal saline solution intravenously, and 
the small still was kept going constantly to prepare it; one of 
the valuable men had to run it day and night. When they 
could go on no longer, Fred and the village doctor took turns 
lying down for a few hours at a time. Of the more than two 
hundred patients they treated in their small clinic, not one was 
lost from cholera, though two died later from kidney complica- 

No sooner had the cholera epidemic subsided, and fortu- 
nately it was a mild one, than the two rivers flooded. The 
hospital, located on a rise of ground, became the scene of all 
the activity of the village; families moved up by the hundreds, 

The Mei Hua 

as did the merchants with their wares. Even the post office set 
up shop on the compound. As the waters receded and life be- 
gan to fall back into a normal pattern, a plague of locusts de- 
scended upon them. 

"I had seen enough movies to know what that cloud of 
locusts descending upon the land and destroying the crops 
would mean," Fred wrote, "but I was not prepared for the 
personal annoyance of having them up my pants-legs. Shake 
them off and they come back with their sisters and their cousins 
and their aunts. How they get into the room, I don't know, 
but they are into everything." 

The locusts were a small variety, and after they had eaten 
their fill of green stuffs, they were unable to rise from the 
ground. They died by the thousands, and the ensuing stench 
was hard to endure. 

Fred had many difficulties and we missed each other un- 
bearably. It is better not to recall my year in America without 
him; each day was a heavy link in an endless chain that grew 
heavier and heavier as I dragged the weight of it around. 

But one evening when a Fuller brush salesman was sitting 
in the living room ready to show us his wares, the telegram 
arrived granting us a passport and announcing a sailing for us 
all, including Beloved Grandmother! At once there was a 
cyclone of joy in that room. We screamed, we danced, we 
hugged each other. First-Born finally made himself heard. 
"Let's get it down to a quiet roar," he said with his character- 
istic chuckle, which is really a vocal smile. (First-Born is the 
only quiet Scovel.) It was then that we discovered the Fuller 
brush man standing in the middle of the floor with a dazed 
expression on his face. 

Beloved Grandmother had not been at all well. Her right 
arm was showing the effects of Parkinson's disease. But with 
her usual high courage she insisted that we must all be to- 

150 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

gether in order for Fred to do his work efficiently and happily. 

"Then he will not have the anxiety of separation," she said, 
"nor will he need to waste energy worrying about us." 

She even managed to persuade her doctor that it was the 
right thing for her to do. So her passage was booked with ours, 
much to the delight of the children. 

That trip has still a nightmare quality for me; the one 
compensation is that no other journey since has seemed diffi- 
cult. During the final packing, and en route across country by 
train, the three boys had bouts of virus pneumonia; they were 
still weak when we reached San Francisco. The day before 
the ship was supposed to sail, Fourth Child was rushed to the 
hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Fortunately the 
ship was delayed and Fourth Child was carried aboard on a 
stretcher. I could not have managed alone; but John Rosen- 
grant of our Board was on hand to put us all on the Marine 
Lynx that December day in 1946. 

We passengers soon rechristened the ship the Marine Stinks, 
which was probably quite unfair of us. It was a troop transport 
that had been hastily converted for use in sending out mission- 
aries. We slept in the hold of the ship, some two hundred of 
us in canvas bunks hung three deep and kept telling one 
another how lucky we were to have any transport at all so soon 
after the close of the war. 

On Christmas Day I was stricken with lobar pneumonia. I 
dimly remember crawling out of my bunk early that morning, 
before the children were awake, to arrange the creche on top 
of a suitcase with the gifts beside it. It was an endless task; 
nothing would stay in place because the ship was rolling and 
pitching and so was I. At last the task was finished and I col- 
lapsed on my canvas bunk. For me the rest of the day was, 
mercifully, blackness. 

Many, many times during our life across the world we 

The Mel Una 151 

have had occasion to be grateful for friends. This was one of 
them. Dorothy Wagner, the beautiful new recruit for our sta- 
tion, Huai Yuan, took complete care of the two little girls. 
Stella Walter, who was to join Deane in Shanghai en route 
for Shantung, was also on board. She looked after the older 
children. A young bride who was a nurse gave Beloved Grand- 
mother constant care. 

One always awakens from a nightmare, and this was a happy 
awakening. As we approached the harbor, the ship's doctor 
wired for Fred to come out with the pilot boat to help me to 

"Trust you to do something different to get to see your hus- 
band an hour ahead of time," he said as he extricated himself 
from the children and made his way through the pile of suit- 
cases to where I was lying. 

We left the two older boys in Shanghai to attend the Shang- 
hai American School, and the rest of us were soon on our way 
to our new station in Huai Yuan. 

For the past year Fred had been living in one room. "I 
couldn't bear the big empty house without you/' he had writ- 
ten. But now we had arrived and the children were surprised 
to see their father lift me over the doorsill like a new bride. 
He set me down in what would soon be the reception room 
but which was now the room in which he had been living. I 
was shocked when I saw it and I had expected the worst, 
knowing what he could do to a house in a week's time if I were 
away. I looked around at the camp cot, the desk, the chairs 
every surface covered with a conglomeration of tins of food, 
books, medicines, papers, a clock to be fixed, a couple of stones 
picked up on the mountain, a clean shirt half unfolded. . . . 

"Now I am disappointed/' he said when he saw the look 
on my face. "I worked so hard to clean it all up for you/' 

It was fun to be making a home for him again. The house 

The Chinese Ginger Jars 

was huge. It had been built by the father of one of the former 
missionaries as a gift to him and his bride. Nothing had been 
spared to make the house beautiful and useful. Many were 
the tales told of the dinners and parties held in that house "in 
the good old days''; for the people of the community loved 
Duboise Morris and his wife and enjoyed recalling the days 
of their sojourn among them. The house was surrounded by 
a garden and we never tired of hearing of the exquisite roses, of 
the chrysanthemum shows held here to which the gentry 
from miles around would come to enter their choicest blooms. 
The garden had been allowed to run wild during the war 
years; when we moved great yucca plants, we would find be- 
neath them such rare shrubs as the delicate tree peony. The 
smaller "Poet's Garden" was across the little bridge in a quiet 
spot. A stream of water flowed lazily through it and one could 
picture the poets of those bygone days writing their verses in 
the little covered "t'ingtze" or summer house with its lacquered 
pillars and pointed roof. 

It embarrassed me to live in such a "mansion" when there 
was so much poverty around us, I would seek an opportunity 
during conversations with our new friends to apologize for it, 
saying that ours was the largest family and that none of the 
other missionaries needed such a large place; that we didn't 
really need such a large place either, but that the house had 
been assigned to us, and so forth. One day a Chinese doctor 
from the hospital was sitting in Fred's study looking up some- 
thing or other in a medical journal; he heard me telling all 
this to a guest who had dropped in. When the visitor left, 
Dr. Li said, "Why are you always apologizing for this house? 
Do you feel that you cannot be a good missionary because of 
it? The house doesn't matter at all. It is what you are, not what 
you have, that counts with us Chinese. The man who lived 
here before you did a great deal for this community. For one 

The Mei Hua 153 

thing, he used to persuade the gentry to show their best paint- 
ings in exhibitions for the poorest school children with the 
result that you will find an appreciation of art and calligraphy 
in this little village that you do not find in many of the cities. 
I'm from the city myself and I know/' 

"I've noticed that too," I said. 

"But it was what Dr. Morris was that attracted men to him 
and made them willing to take out those valuable paintings 
and show them. He talked to them about Christ, but more 
than that, he showed them what it meant to live a Christlike 
life, to care whether or not those poor children saw the beauti- 
ful in life. You mustn't be concerned because of the house. 
We don't hold it against you. People feel free to come here; 
weren't there fifty of us singing on the terrace Sunday night? 
Why don't you relax and enjoy your home?" 

Work at the hospital mushroomed. The doctors saw some 
hundred and fifty patients a day in the outpatient department; 
the hospital itself had been opened. It was astonishing to see 
how ingeniously the staff had improvised equipment. Test-tube 
racks had been carved out of wood; bedside tables had been 
constructed and the tops covered with tin; thermometer trays 
were of wood with handles for easy carrying; charts were 
printed on the street by the local printer; a stretcher was made 
of old piping. The wheels didn't work very well but it was 

To equip a hospital beginning with nothing, at a time when 
no equipment was available, had taxed everyone's ingenuity. 
But such organizations as the British Red Cross and UNRRA 
(through the China organization, CNRRA) came to the res- 
cue. The British Red Cross gave beds the first requisite. Later 
our Board bought a shipload of army surplus and that helped 
all our hospitals as they reopened. However, one does not 
pick and choose gifts, and there were great gaps in what was 

154 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

needed to carry on the work. At one time Fred had written, "I 
have two hundred beautiful red corduroy bathrobes and not 
one aspirin tablet/* Narcotics were almost impossible to get 
and presented a real problem in postoperative care. Alcohol 
was distilled from local wine and the ward smelled more like a 
tavern than a hospital. 

Added to the routine hospital work were a biweekly clinic 
for the many sufferers from kala azar; a school of nursing and 
a school of midwifery, both schools meeting government re- 
quirements and all of this accomplished in less than two 

In spite of his busy schedule Fred managed to spend a little 
time each day with his family. This he was determined to do, 
having been alone for thirteen months. In the midst of a teem- 
ing clinic he would let the patient out of his consulting room, 
and before calling in the next, he would climb through a win- 
dow and come home through the back garden. After a fifteen- 
minute lunch during which I read a little from some book that 
would interest the whole family (a ruse to keep him a few 
minutes longer), he would climb back through the window, 
open the door and admit the next patient. 

"Those farmers would get discouraged if the nurse told them 
Fd gone to lunch/* he would say. "That would mean a couple 
of hours to a Chinese. Most of these folks have come miles 
to get here and they have to wait too long to see us as it is/* 

Sometimes in the late afternoon the whole family would 
climb the hill behind the compound, walking out past the 
deep well a quarter of a mile from the house where the ascent 
began. We would meet the hospital water carriers with their 
dripping kerosene tins, now converted into water buckets, 
slung from a pole on their shoulders. They would be singing 
in spite of the fact that they were tired, having had to carry 
all die water that was used in the hospital. 

The Mei Una 155 

One evening just at sunset we started out on a picnic. It 
was a lovely evening; the quaint old village with its stone 
houses was painted a soft rose by the setting sun. Two little 
Chinese waifs ahead of us were leaning against the carved 
stone pillars of a memorial arch, their baskets of fuel grass 
lying at their feet. Bright blue jackets and the red trousers 
of the smallest one gave just the right touch of color. 

"What a picture!" I said as we approached. The youngest 
child called out a greeting. The older one tried to but couldn't 
speak. She was in the act of blowing a great wad of bubble 
gum into its bubble! It broke against her dirt-stained face as 
we passed. 

"And what wouldn't Life magazine give for that picture!" 
said Fred as he helped the Brown-Eyed One over a bump in 
the road. 

Beloved Grandmother was now confined to her bed except 
for a short time each day when Fred and the gardener lifted 
her into a chair by the window. Again she had a small house 
of her own near us. It was difficult for her to hold a book in her 
hand, but her son read to her and Dot Wagner wrote letters 
for her and the Golden-Haired One sang her favorite hymns by 
the hour. So fertile was her mind and so well stored that she 
told me once that she had never exhausted the possibilities 
of what she could recall of the poetry and the literature she 
had memorized. Each day, too, she would choose one of her 
old friends and in her mind go down the street to that friend's 
house and try to remember everything she had done with that 
friend and the places they'd been together. I am sure that part 
of each day was lived in the memory of the husband who 
adored her. 

Two women servants looked after her as if she had been 
their own mother, and the hospital staff enjoyed dropping in 

156 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

to see her. In her quiet little house at the end of the garden, 
the hospital pastor would often be found consulting her about 
his work. 

"Are you giving enough time to your sermon preparation?" 
she asked him one afternoon. 

"But, Venerable Lady, God has promised to put the words 
into our mouths/* 

"Into your mouth, yes, but not into your head/' was her 

'Til remember that/' he said, laughing. "I must thank you 
again for your generous gift to the new hospital chapel. The 
little organ was all that we needed to make it complete. Some 
day we must arrange to wheel you over so that you may see it." 

"Describe it to me," she said to him. She could see the chapel 
in her mind's eye but she never tired of hearing about it. "My 
daughter tells me that it was just a storeroom before you made 
it into a chapel/' 

"Originally it was a guest reception hall, a room for small tea 
parties, art exhibitions, and so forth. The hall had been built 
in perfect Chinese architecture with lacquered pillars support- 
ing a curved roof of tiles. When we moved the packing boxes 
from one end of the room, we found a round window with the 
crosspieces carved in a bamboo design forming the lattice. 
A touch of gold on the leaves here and there accentuated the 
cross and gave us our worship center. The carpenter became 
so interested that he carved an altar table to match; the 
student nurses brought brass candlesticks. Each of us has had 
a part in it/' 

"You have done very well The hospital should be proud 
to have such a pastor/' said Beloved Grandmother. 

"Actually I have done very little. There was one thing I 
wanted and the carving is even now being done. On the back 
of the pulpit, facing the preacher, are to be the words from 

The Mei Hua 157 

the twelfth chapter of John, 'Sir, we would see Jesus/ You 
see, Venerable Lady, I am even now heeding your advice/' 

In the spring of 1947 the two hoys came home from the 
Shanghai American School and saw their new home for the 
first time. They brought with them two of their classmates 
whose homes were too far-distant for them to return for the 
short vacation. The Golden-Haired One, now in her early 
teens, was ecstatic. 

"At last there will be some excitement around here/ 7 she 

But she was disappointed. The boys, with the lethargy of 
adolescence, spent the entire vacation moving from one horizon- 
tal surface to the other out of bed, to the dining table, to the 
living-room floor, sprawled out with books, back to the table, 
back to the floor with the record player beside them. 

"Mother, they are horrid!" she said. "I had planned so many 
hikes up East Mountain, picnics to the Milk White Spring, 
games on the lawn, and they won't move!" 

We hadn't been back to Tsining to visit our friends. Beloved 
Grandmother had spoken often of her furniture and her fa- 
miliar belongings which had been left behind. Travel was 
dangerous but we decided to risk it and see what we could 
do about bringing our things to Huai Yuan. My diary records 
the trip: 

May 9, 1947. Taught school in the morning. Dot came over to 
look after the family while we are gone. Started for Hsiichow 
at noon. A perfect day. Stayed with the Hopkinses at night 

May i o. Drove to Chin Hsiang riding on top of a truckload 
of matches covered with a very slippery straw matting. Held 
on for dear life. We'd been warned that if we fell off, the 
truck would not stop. Too dangerous going through Com- 

The Chinese Ginger Jars 

munist territory. Road perfectly awful and had to watch 
boughs of trees above us. Truck broke down; had to change 
radiators en route. At Chin Hsiang, ran into Rung Yu Chen 
[one of the nurses from Tsining] who brought us to the 
offices of an official where we slept. Met Elder Han and 
some of the Christians. They are so discouraged. 

May 1 1 . Waited for trucks to come through from Tsining to be 
sure road was safe. Two trucks had been taken and six people 
killed the day before. Tore through another patch of Com- 
munist territory and got to Tsining and the Baptist mission 
a little after noon. Mary and Frank were thrilled to see us 
as we were to see them. [There were no missionaries at 
our compound then and we had planned to surprise our 
Chinese friends.] 

May 12. What emotions flooded over us as we went into our 
old home lived in by Communists, Japanese, and Central 
Government troops, yet in good condition. Chang Ta Sao 
came in to help us. How I hugged her! She looks a lot older. 
She has a grandson and is as proud of him as she can be. 
Chen Wu died of tuberculosis. Hu Shih Fu has gone, too. 
Gateman and family back in country. 

May 13. Opened secret room and found all in good condition. 
Hole under porch broken into silver and stamps gone! 
But nobody touched things like the horrible Peking incense 
burner in the attic! Started packing. Out for all meals with 
friends. Oh, it is good to see them! Church has raised funds 
to repair and redecorate. 

May 14. Tea party in afternoon given by street Elders. Packed 
the trunk so full we couldn't get in one toothpick more, but 
never mind, we're off tomorrow. 

May 15. Started out from Tsining at seven A.M. driven by 
dear Brother Sophronius from the Catholic mission (who 
offered to do it). Schools lined up, even at that early hour, to 

The Mei Hua 

wave good-by. Drove to Hsuchow and then on to Sui Ning 
where we stayed all night at the Catholic mission with Fa- 
ther Brice, a young American from San Francisco. He 
opened all his stores and feasted us royally. Learned the 
next morning that I was the only woman who had ever 
stayed at the monastery. He could hardly have turned me 
out at midnight. 

May 1 6. Rode all A.M. through wheat fields looking for a bridge 
to cross. Had a narrow escape as bridge cracked. Another 
time, truck almost turned over. Arrived at Ku Chen, couldn't 
go by truck to Pengpu. Freight train coming. Got coolies 
and threw everything on, including piano. Stayed at chapel 
in kindergarten for die night. 

May 17. Oh what a thrill to get home! Dot met us at the door 
with "Mr. and Mrs. Livingstone, I presume." Fred had a 
three-day growth of beard. Children were wonderful. Grand- 
mother had had a bad spell but is better. 

We had a year of peace in our lovely home in Huai Yuan, 
then . . . 

"Must I always be planting heavenly blue morning-glories 
and having to leave them before they bloom?" I asked as I 
handed the letter back to Fred. He had stopped in the garden 
with the mail on his way to lunch. I dusted off my knees 
and went into the house with him. 

'We won't have to face moving again for a while yet. I'm 
getting to hate it as much as you do/' he said. "The letter only 
asks us to consider the need for a doctor to teach in Ling Nan 
Medical College in Canton. As I see it, I can't possibly leave 
this place now. There's still too much to be done. We couldn't 
move Mother anyway. Let's forget it. I'll write them a note this 

I knew he would not forget it. When the mission asked him 

160 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

to do a thing, he usually did it. I knew, too, that the mission 
would not have asked him to consider it without having 
weighed the relative needs in both places. Teaching was the 
work he loved. He taught all the time he was in the hospital, 
nurses, doctors, technicians. Our friend the Magistrate had 
been urging him to go into medical education for years. 

"Don't stay on in a small mission hospital/* he would say. 
"When you die, the work will die with you. Get out and do 
something big for China; teach and train men to carry on after 
youVe gone. Remember our proverb: If I can help one hun- 
dred men, why should I help ten? If I can help a thousand, 
why should I help a hundred?' " 

We had to consider also the rumors that the Communists 
had an army five miles away and could come in and take the 
strategic village at the fork of the rivers at any moment. 
Wouldn't it be better to get Beloved Grandmother out now 
while it was still possible? Was it possible to move her at all? 
No, it certainly was not. An elderly woman, partially paralyzed, 
how could we think of moving her all those hundreds of miles, 
on and off trains, across crowded station platforms, through 
cities and into crowded coastal steamers? It was out of the 
question. Come what may, we would have to remain where 
we were. 

But I must not close the door in God's face, I thought. I 
picked up the prayer notebook from the table beside me and 
wrote out a list of all the reasons why we could not possibly 
go to South China. At the top of the list I wrote, "Moving 
Beloved Grandmother," and I added, "the new and difficult 
language . . . the necessity of finding another doctor to take 
over Fred's present work . . . uprooting the children again. . . ." 
It was a formidable list, even for God. 

I had not written "another packing up," though I had been 

TheMeiHua 161 

tempted to. Little things like that I should be able to take care 
of myself. It had been so much fun unpacking the things 
we had brought from America to make this house a home. 
When I had had the trunks removed to the attic, I had hoped 
they would remain there for a long time. I looked up at the 
oil painting I had carried all the way by hand. Would I have 
to start all over again? The dishes, the glassware . . . 

"What are you laughing about, Mother?" asked the Brown- 
Eyed One, coming into the room. 

"I was thinking of the time when we unpacked the glass- 
ware. Do you remember?" 

We had just unpacked the navy-surplus drinking glasses, 
which were unbreakable. The boys had been tossing them back 
and forth, dropping one on the rug occasionally to prove their 
indestructibility. Our new servant came into the room. 

<r Wong Ta Ke, did you ever see glass that would not break? 
Look," I said to him as I threw the tumbler on the floor. It 
crashed into a thousand pieces. Wong Ta Ke looked at the 
doctor with a shaU-we-put-her-in-a-straight-jacket expression 
on his face. No amount of explaining ever convinced him that 
I had not been temporarily deranged that winter morning 
throwing glasses on the floor and saying they wouldn't break! 

There was no doubt but that the war was moving closer to us. 
After a terrible battle to the north, the wounded were being 
sent into our quiet little village by the hundreds. The mission 
primary school was temporarily converted into a field hospital. 
The army doctors worked day and night. Most of the operat- 
ing was done by our doctors at our hospital. Second-Born and 
I went over to the school that first morning to see what we 
could do to help. The patients were lying on the floor in an 
unbelievable condition; their dressings had not been changed 

i 62 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

since they had received first-aid treatment on the battlefield; 
their faces were still caked with mud and, worst of all, they 
had had nothing to drink. Second-Bom and I went from sol- 
dier to soldier passing out cups of hot water. (Cold water is be- 
lieved to be harmful to anyone. No one in Shantung would 
think of ever drinking anything cold.) The men who had 
tetanus couldn't open their mouths and they looked at us in 
anguish. We took wet cotton and squeezed water between 
their clenched teeth. Then we set to work to wash faces and 
hands. The flies swarmed over their wounds, crawling over 
the eyes of the men, who were too weak to brush them off. Sec- 
ond-Born went back to the house for a DDT spray and to get 
some of the other women on the compound to help. (They 
had not heard of the wounded in our midst and came at 
once.) So diligent was Second-Born in his spraying that after 
three days it was almost impossible to find a fly. The whole 
missionary community helped daily until the soldiers were 
moved to a base hospital in a larger city. 

One morning not long after this I was suddenly called from 
the schoolroom to see two policemen who were waiting in the 
living room. 

"We have come to tell you to leave the village before noon 
today," said one of them. 

"Why?" I asked. 

"Because we have word that the Communists will be in the 
village by noon. You should leave at once." 

"Thank you for coming to tell us," I said, '"but I am afraid 
the Communists will have to take us along with the village. 
The doctor has gone to the hospital at Showchow for an 
emergency. He cannot return for two or three days at least. His 
venerable mother lies paralyzed upon her bed. So, gentlemen, 
you see we cannot leave." 

"Oh. We are very sorry," the policeman replied, "but . . * 

The Mei Hua 163 

well, perhaps the need to leave may not be urgent. Who 

I went back to the schoolroom wondering what would hap- 
pen to us before night. Nothing did. Nor did the Communists 
enter the village. Some time later we heard it might possibly 
be that the chief of police had been wanting our house for his 
headquarters and that he had been using this method to have 
it evacuated, but this story was never verified. 

The village remained peaceful, and June of 1948 found us 
in Shanghai attending First-Born's graduation from high 
school. We came back together to Huai Yuan until it was time 
for him to leave for America for college. I had known all his 
life that this would come, but I was not prepared for the tearing 
of my heart as the river launch took him away. We did not 
know, though we might have guessed, that our days in that 
lovely village were numbered. 

"But Teacher-Mother/' the hospital pastor said, "the doctor 
cannot leave us. You must not let him. This hospital is like a 
baby less than two years old. It cannot walk alone. A mother 
does not leave her baby with others until it is able to walk." 

"Pastor Chang/' I said, "the doctor loves this hospital as 
much as if it were his own child, but it is not his child; it is 
God's child. Doctor Scovel is only the amah, and God is able 
to find another amah for it. He will not leave unless another 
doctor comes. And surely we cannot move Beloved Grand- 
mother, so do not worry." 

In the end it was Beloved Grandmother who settled every- 
thing. She called Fred to her one afternoon and said, 'What's 
this I hear about your being asked to go to South China to 

"Oh, it's just an idea the mission had," he told her. "Don't 
worry your head about it. I can't possibly go; too much to do 

The Chinese Ginger Jars 

here and no one to take over if I did want to leave. Did you 
think we would go off and leave you here alone?" 

"I don't see why you couldn't take me with you/' she said. 
"Do you think because I am almost eighty years old I have no 
interest in seeing new places? Besides, you have always wanted 
to teach; you are a teacher to your finger tips from a long 
line of teachers. It seems to me that the mission is entirely 
right in sending you to a medical college. 

"But, Mother, the mechanics of such a move alone would " 

"If it is right for you to go, God is perf ectly capable of taking 
care of the mechanics of it," she said. 

Beloved Grandmother learned that the Lutheran mission 
had a plane which had been flying in behind the lines of battle 
to rescue missionary personnel, and she made it financially 
possible for us to use this means of travel. 

We were to meet the "St. Paul" at Pengpu, the nearest land- 
ing field eight miles down the Huai River. (The Lutherans 
had two planes, the "St. Peter" and the "St. Paul." The pilot 
used to say he was always robbing Peter to pay Paul until at last 
the "St. Peter" was grounded!) 

Just at this time, too, Dr. Marshall Welles from one of our 
mission hospitals in a port city offered to come into the interior 
to take over the Huai Yuan hospital. This was a brave move on 
his part because it meant leaving his family. 

Sitting in church that last Sunday morning, I went down 
the list of insurmountables in my prayer book; the new doctor, 
moving Beloved Grandmother, the difficult language. . . . 
Well, we would just have to learn the language. I looked 
up at the carving above me, the tiny gold-leaf petals of the 
La Mei Hua, the flower that flourishes in adversity. What a 
symbol for the Chinese church! And a good symbol for me 
to take as my own. But there were times when I would so 
much rather have put down roots and become a carrot. 

The Mei Una 165 

The coolies had come before daylight to carry out the baggage. 
I had gone through every room in the house for the last time. 
We closed and locked the doors, walked through the garden, 
past the morning-glory plants, to Beloved Grandmother's 
cottage. She had already been moved to the smaller bed upon 
which she was to be carried. As we reached the big gate at 
the entrance to the hospital, the sun was just beginning to 
spread its gold upon the river below us. The moment we 
stepped out into the big thoroughfare, a loving crowd sur- 
rounded us. A huge pole of firecrackers was raised and the 
first one in the string set off. The ever-enlarging procession 
moved toward the river bank where the launch was waiting. 
Such a spluttering of firecrackers! Such farewells from every 
doorway! The firecrackers never stopped until the whole family 
was safely on board the launch. 

As it drifted slowly from the shore, and the faces of our 
friends became smaller and smaller, I thought of Paul leaving 
the people of Tyre as they had come to the river bank to see 
him off. 

Our friends upon the shore were singing, "God Be With 
You Till We Meet Again." We floated farther and farther away 
from the singing until the last thread of song spun itself out. 

We will never meet again, I thought, never this side of eter- 
nity. O God, be with them; be with them. 



The "St. Paul" dropped down upon the airstrip at Canton and 
taxied to a stop. We had been all day in that bucket-seat plane, 
part of the time flying over mountains at eleven thousand feet. 
Beloved Grandmother and the children had been as blue as a 
Chinese rug from lack of oxygen. Now the doors were thrown 
open and the sweet, fresh air rushed in. The sun was setting 
and beautiful White Cloud Mountain had its head in a heaven 
of rose. Paul Snyder, a new Adopted Uncle, drove up with 
the hospital chauffeur in a shining ambulance, and Beloved 
Grandmother was taken at once to the well-equipped, modern 
Hackett Medical Center where Fred was to work. 

As Beloved Grandmother was wheeled down the green 
parquet corridors and into her sunny room, Fred and I looked 
at each other, marveling at what we saw. 

"Am I walking in my sleep?" he asked. "This place is like 
a dream come true. A few hours ago we were seeing the small 
beginnings of medical missionary work, and this afternoon the 
efforts have become reality." 

It was thrilling to see the Chinese chiefs of staff in their 
long white coats, followed by the inevitable brood of residents, 
interns, and medical students. Except for the faces above the 
coats, this might be any hospital in America. Nurses rustled 
starchily as they carried out their ministrations. One of them 


Chinese Ginger Jars 

was explaining the earphones at the head of Beloved Grand- 
mother's bed. 

"It's almost time for evening devotions/' she was saying. 
'We broadcast them over a public address system morning 
and evening. We like the idea of earphones instead of a loud- 
speaker; then people are free to listen or not as they choose. 
Here is your bell. If there is anything I can do for you, push 
the button." 

"You'll only be here for a few days," I told Beloved Grand- 
mother. "As soon as we are settled, well be taking you home." 
She was never to leave that bed. Her Parkinson's disease, with 
complications, was advancing more rapidly than we had 

We were soon settled in a double house in one corner of 
the hospital compound. Dr. Cheung and his lovely family of 
teen-agers lived in the other half of the house. I was a long 
time getting to feel that that house was home. I felt as if I were 
in a new country. The language was so very different, the 
scenes were different, though at least they looked like the 
geography book. Gradually we made friends and entertained 
and did enough living in the house to have it begin to envelop 
us with warmth. 

Of all the rooms in the little house, I liked the schoolroom 
best. Here I could look out over the fields to the distant horizon. 
In the foreground was the canal that ran past the back wall of 
the compound; here women were at work, washing their vege- 
tables or their clothing or their babies. A flame-of-the-forest 
tree made a beautiful silhouette against the bright blue sky. 
It was difficult to keep my mind on the teaching before me. 

Calvert was fun to teach. One never knew what was coming 
next. It might be "the tremendous and appalling boom" when 
the world broke off from the sun, or it might be an answer 

The Bamboo 169 

to a routine question such as Fourth Child gave me one morn- 

"If a man found buried in the ground a coin which was 
dated one hundred B.C., would the coin be authentic or not?" 
I asked him. 

Quick as a squirrel he replied, "Of course not." 

"How did you figure that out so quickly?" I asked. 

"Simple," he replied. "B.C. Bad coin." 

Into the schoolroom one morning was wafted the syncopated 
"thoom ta-ta-tum" of distant drums. Three pencils were 
dropped, three chairs were pushed back and three pairs of eyes 
looked questioningly at me. It was no use going on; if the 
dragon boats were coming, the children would have to run 
out on the porch to see them. I wouldn't miss that sight myself. 

The slim, graceful shell, ninety feet long and one man wide, 
was just coming into sight. The rowers cut the water with the 
precision of Radio City Rockettes. The "dragon" in the center 
writhed and tossed his head to the beat of the drums beside 

"Is it a really, truly dragon, Mother?" asked the Littlest One. 

"No, it's just a man with a big dragon's head made of cloth. 
He is shaking it around with his arms. See, there are his legs in 
his blue pants." 

In a matter of seconds the boat whisked out of sight. But 
another would be coming in a moment; the rowers were prac- 
ticing for the races on the great day of the Festival of the River 

"Let's get on with today's lesson," I said. "If we keep our 
minds on it, we can finish by one o'clock. Perhaps we can 
persuade Daddy to take one of the little picnic boats and go 
down the river to watch the practice while we eat our lunch." 

Teaching the children, three of them in three different 

1 70 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

grades, now took all morning, but here I was not needed in the 
hospital. The nursing department was well organized under 
the leadership of Rena Westra and Martha Wylie; Dorothy 
Snyder, Paul's wife, taught English and had Bible classes for 
the student nurses. So I spent my free time helping in the 
School for the Blind. 

It occurred to Alice Schaefer, the principal, that a little 
knowledge of the hospital beforehand might soften the blow 
later if any of the blind were to become patients; so we invited 
the blind from the school, according to age groups, to spend an 
afternoon at the hospital and in our home. 

It was always fun to entertain them; everything seemed to 
give them pleasure. The older women liked the rocking chair 
best. Each one of them would take a turn having a good, long 
rock. The older boys liked the refrigerator. What a joy it 
was to have that refrigerator! After the hot summers in Tsining 
and in Huai Yuan, with no refrigeration, where we had to 
drink tepid water and throw out any leftover food each day, 
Beloved Grandmother had insisted that we have a refrigerator 
if we were going down to the heat of South China. Actually, 
South China was much cooler, being near the ocean, than 
either Tsining or Huai Yuan, but the refrigerator still saved 
us money on our food bills. Beloved Grandmother little 
guessed, when she gave us that refrigerator, that it would be 
used as a toy for blind children. The boys liked opening the 
door and feeling the rush of cold air on their faces. Each one 
would be given an ice cube to hold and they would have such 
fun with the slippery, cold, square things in their hands. 

Today the youngest children were to be "shown'* the hos- 
pital. The cook and I were setting the table for tea. 

'The table will be crowded with fourteen children sitting 
here," said Ah Yang with a twitch of her long black braid. 
"And all of them blind/* she sighed. "They will surely break 

The Bamboo 171 

things. Why do you use these beautiful thin cups, your very 
best ones? They can't see them anyway/' 

"But they can feel them," I said, "and these cups will feel 
different from the ones they use every day. They will be care- 
ful, I know." 

We took the children to the hospital first. We gave them 
rides on the elevators, whizzed them down corridors in wheel 
chairs and on stretchers, gave each one a turn at lying on the 
X-ray table to reach up and touch the cone which would take 
a picture of their insides and show us what was wrong if they 
were ill. The children's ward was the most fun of all. Here 
the chairs and tables were just the right size, and here was 
the huge doll house with its tiny furniture. We decided that 
they must have one of their own. 

Then the children took hands and in pairs they walked 
back to our house for tea and cakes. And Ah Yang was con- 
vinced at last that not a thing on the table was unsafe in those 
deft, sure little hands. 

By late November of that same year, 1948, we were watching 
at the bedside of Beloved Grandmother daily. She would look 
up at us and say, "Oh, children, why can't I die?" 

On December second, her prayers were answered and she 
left her tired body lying there on the hospital bed. We were 
thankful that she could go; we had even been praying that 
she might be taken from her suffering, but we were in no way 
prepared for the sudden emptiness of the world without her. 
In that first hour we learned the meaning of the word bereft. 

The next morning, after making plans for the service to be 
held in the hospital chapel, Fred went out with one of the 
men to make final arrangements for the interment. I picked up 
Beloved Grandmother's Bible. There on the flyleaf was a 
quotation from a poem by Whittier. I had often read from this 

172 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

Bible to Beloved Grandmother, but I had never seen the poem 
before. When had she copied it in? It had been over a year 
since she had been strong enough to hold a pen in her hand. 
It was her message to us for this very day. 

'Tet love will dream, and Faith will trust, 
(Since He who knows our need is just,) 
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must. 
Alas for him who never sees 
The stars shine through his cypress trees! 
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away, 
Nor looks to see the breaking day 
Across the mournful marhles play! 
Who hath not learned, in hours of faith, 
The truth to flesh and sense unknown, 
That life is ever lord of death, 
And love can never lose its own!" 

The Littlest One was sure that Beloved Grandmother had 
gone straight to heaven that very day, taking her body with 
her. The child had stayed with friends during the simple cere- 
mony in the chapel That evening after the body of Beloved 
Grandmother had been laid to rest in the beautiful English 
cemetery by the river, the Brown-Eyed One, the Littlest One, 
and I were taking a stroll out past the hospital buildings. 

"Oh," said the Littlest One, stopping in the middle of the 
walk, "Beloved Grandmother forgot her clothes!" 

"She won't need her old clothes in heaven/' I said. "God 
will have lovely new ones waiting for her/' 

'What will they be like, I wonder?" said the Brown-Eyed 
One. "Nicer than our clothes; like that light, Mother, don't 
you think so?" And she pointed to the laboratory on the top 
floor where all the fluorescent lights were lit, spreading a radi- 
ant glow across the treetops. 

The Bamboo 173 

The Communist army was moving South and the Nationalists 
were preparing to defend Shanghai. A telegram from the 
children's school announced that Second-Born and the Golden- 
Haired One were being evacuated on gunboats. Their destina- 
tion was not made known, but America, Japan, Okinawa, or 
Hong Kong were the rumored possibilities. We prayed that it 
might be Hong Kong so that they could come home to us. 
For several days we heard nothing further and then the looked- 
for telegram came with the thrilling message: "ARRIVED HONG 


It was a wonderful reunion. Second-Born had completed 
his high-school work. The Golden-Haired One was desolate 
at having to leave her singing teacher, but somewhat cheered 
that she would be going to school in nearby Hong Kong. No, 
they didn't know anything about the fighting except what 
they had read in the Hong Kong papers that Shanghai had 
been "liberated." 

The army is moving rapidly, I thought. It is only a question 
of time now. 

We were grateful for the few extra months with Second- 
Born, but it seemed no time at all before we had to take him 
to Hong Kong to see him off for America and college. The 
plane was an eagle carrying off our son in its talons. And we 
had to leave the Golden-Haired One in Hong Kong to begin 
her new school year. 

Back in Canton the air was taut. Every day brought news of 
the approach of the Communist army. I was so tired of excite- 
ment. This time my reaction to imminent danger was no longer 
exhilaration and challenge; my only feeling was one of numb- 
ness and my only urgency was to finish the sweater I was knit- 
ting for the Golden-Haired One so that I could get it to Hong 
Kong before we were cut off. 

174 Tta Chinese Ginger Jars 

The "liberation" itself, on October 14, 1949, turned out to 
be peaceful enough one army marching in as the other army 
marched out. It might have passed as any other day had not 
the retreating army decided at the last moment to blow up 
the Lingnan bridge on its way out. A crash like the rending 
of the earth at Judgment Day threw garish colors across the 
sunset sky and all was quiet again. 

Soon there were Communist soldiers all over the streets, 
many of them from our former province of Shantung, as I 
discovered one day when some of them were billeted in the 
school building next door. 

"I go housie," I heard the Brown-Eyed One saying; then the 
slam of the screen door and the creak of it opening again. '1 
come out housie." 

Why is that child talking baby talk? I wondered, and left 
my letter writing to see what was going on. Straddling the 
ridgepole of the building next door was a row of Communist 
soldiers. Below in the garden the children were teaching them 

"You mustn't listen to this little one s English; she is teach- 
ing you baby talk/' I said to them in the northern dialect into 
which I always lapsed in an emergency. 

'Where did you learn to speak Chinese?" one of them asked. 

"Oh, I'm an old Shantung countrywoman," I replied, and 
went on to tell them about the place where we had formerly 
lived, far to the north on the Shantung Plain. 

"I know, I know!" the soldier said. "My home is in Yenchow, 
twenty-six miles from Tsining. Now I remember where you 
lived. You come up the main road from the railway station, 
cross the little bridge, and just before you get to the Memorial 
Arch, on the right-hand side of the road, is the hospital. Your 
house is on the left farther down the road/' 

The Bamboo 

't/' I said. "You are making me homesick/' 

"You are homesick, Tai T'ai, what about me? It has been 
years since I have seen my home." 

Such a happy fraternizing was frowned upon, and the 
soldiers never appeared upon the rooftop again. 

We loved these Shantung soldiers who reminded us so much 
of the friends we had left behind. It always surprised the 
soldiers to find people who could speak their own dialect; and 
after our struggles with Cantonese, it was a relief to us to be 
able to express ourselves freely once again. In some ways we 
seemed less foreign to the Shantung boys than the Cantonese 
whom they could not understand. And, as in almost any coun- 
try in the world, there is a lasting feud between the north and 
the south. 

'Tai T'ai, from what country do you come?" one of the 
soldiers asked one day when we were crowded together on a 
river boat. 

"Sir, I dare not tell you," I replied. 

"Ah, yes, America. We thought so. America is a good coun- 
try. We Chinese have always been friendly with America. 
There are many Communists in America." 

When Fred made rounds in the wards where many of these 
wounded Shantung soldiers were lying, it was like walking 
through a country teahouse everyone talking, telling stories, 
asking questions, and the ambulatory patients preparing spe- 
cial bowls of meat dumplings which they made on their little 
charcoal stove. It was a favorite northern dish and one they 
knew would please the doctor. They loved to talk to him about 
their old homes and their families. Later, when one of die ac- 
cusations against Fred was that he had neglected the Com- 
munist soldiers who were his patients, I was indignant. 

"How can they say such things about you?" I remonstrated, 

The Chinese Ginger Jars 

"I could have done more for them than I did/' he replied, 
"After they were up walking around, I only went in to see 
them every other day/' 

"But they didn't need medical attention then/' I said. "They 
were really ready for discharge; and look at all the work you 
had to do with the hospital full of really sick patients/' 

But all this was much later. Now he was a hero, and how 
he hated it! One awful day, the Central Government planes 
had flown over and the bombing that had come upon us filled 
the the whole city with terror. The fearful staccato of the 
anti-aircraft guns, so close to our house, was almost worse than 
the deep boom of the bombs. Ah Yang, our beloved little cook, 
with no thought for her own safety, first ran to see if we were 
out of danger. She herded us into a hallway where double 
walls would keep the flying shrapnel from hitting us, then tried 
to comfort the Littlest One, who was crying against my skirt. 

When it was all over, we found that a bomb had stnack just 
in front of the house and another just behind us. Over a hun- 
dred of the wounded were brought into the hospital, and we 
were all kept busy binding up the wounds. It was heartbreak- 
ing to see the people going from bed to bed hoping to find 
their loved ones, their lost children, or the mothers of their 
children. Tears could not be held back when one man fell to 
his knees beside his heavily bandaged wife, sobbing, "You 
are all I have left. The children are gone, the house is gone, 
but you are here, you are here!" 

A few days later Fred went over to the hospital earlier than 
usual. It was Sunday and not many people would be around. 
A poor coolie woman had had her leg blown off and needed 
a transfusion. She had no relatives left, and since Fred was a 
universal donor, it would be simple enough to give her a pint 
of blood. (It always seemed "simple enough'' to give someone 
a pint of blood. I used to wish, for his own good, that he was 

The Bamboo *77 

not a universal donor. "It doesn't mean that you have to donate 
blood to the universe/' I would tell him.) This time he swore 
the nurses to secrecy, had the blood removed in one room and 
carried into the patient's room to be administered. 

'In these days of anti-American propaganda it might upset 
her if she knew she had American blood in her veins," he ex- 

But the story leaked out and Fred was one of fourteen heroes 
chosen to receive the special Communist award of a "golden" 
fountain pen. It was with difficulty that he was persuaded to 
attend the ceremony. 

"I don't like this idea of singling people out," he told them. 
'We are all working to help those who come to us for medical 
attention; this was nothing special or different. Some of the 
patients need drugs, some of them need operations, and what 
they need, each one of us here tries to supply. This woman 
just happened to need blood." 

But the crest of the wave spilled over and there was a gradual 
ebb in the popularity of the foreigner. As one friend put it, 
'We were allowed to attend the Christmas pageant, yes; but 
for the first time in all my years in China, not a bathrobe of 
mine appeared as a Wise Man's robe!" 

Ginger, the cat, was lost. It was impossible to accomplish any- 
thing in the schoolroom until something was done about find- 
ing him. I didn't dare to take the children with me on the 
search. I had looked out of the schoolroom window a few 
minutes earlier in time to see a woman in the shack across the 
canal skinning an animal for the family pot. The tawny fur 
falling away from it was suspiciously like Ginger's. 

I gave each child a written assignment and started out on 
my unpleasant errand, I hadn't gone ten steps before I met 
the gardener coming in with the precious pet in his arms. A 

The Chinese Ginger Jars 

tragedy narrowly averted if only I could spare the children 
other blows as easily! 

There was the afternoon when the two litde girls ran to me 

''Mother, we don't want to be killed. We don't want to be 
killed," they wailed. 

"What is all this silly talk?" I asked. "Nobody is going to 
kill you/' 

"Yes, Mother. That girl in the gray uniform told us to come 
in and tell you to go to America, and that if you don't go, we 
will all be killed," the Brown-Eyed One insisted. 

Why, oh, why couldn't they pick on somebody their own 
size? I wondered. 

"She's just saying that to be funny," I said. "You know how 
Brother likes to tell you frightening stories to scare you just 
for fun? Well, that is all this amounts to. Run and get your 
faces washed, and dress your dolls in their party dresses. Aunt 
Rena has invited you to a doll's tea party, and she has the 
material all cut out for new pajamas for them. She's going to 
help you make them this afternoon." 

Bless Adopted Aunt Rena who entertained them through 
the long afternoons when it did not seem safe for them to play 
outside in our own compound, when they might have had to 
hear something that would fill them with terror, as they had 
this time. 

Always the question kept pounding into my mind: Had we 
been right in staying on in China? As medical workers, in- 
terested only in the welfare of the people, we had been so 
confident that we would be able to work under the Com- 
munists. We all had the interest of the common man at heart, 
didn't we? We had talked about it and prayed about it. We 
had written First-Born saying, "This is your decision as well 
as ours. It may mean being cut off from you for years. It may 

The Bamboo 179 

mean that we will not even be allowed to send or receive let- 
ters. If you would feel better if Mother and the children were 
in America, please say so, won't you? We can trust you to 
tell us the truth about how you really feel." 

"I've thought about it a lot," he had replied, "and it seems 
to me that I would rather know that somewhere in the world 
my father and mother were living happily together than to 
have you two separated. My only unhappy times as a child 
were the times when you were away, Dad. And as I see life 
here in America, I realize that we as a family are closer to- 
gether across the miles than many here who live in the same 

Second-Born, with his realistic idealism, had added, "I 
don't see that you two will have a leg to stand on if you go. 
Why should you leave? You still have work to do, haven't 

And now the Golden-Haired One was leaving for America. 
Though the separation, with all its uncertainties, cut through 
to our hearts, it was a relief to have one more child out to 

The three children who were left with us seemed to be 
having to bear the brunt of it all. The accusations made against 
Americans that they were living in imperialist mansions, 
controlling all the finances, receiving higher salaries, and so 
on, did not apply in our case even in one particular instance. 
We were living in a duplex with a Chinese doctor (his side 
only was screened). Deep-voiced, gray-haired Dr. Cheung 
had been in complete charge of the hospital for the past twenty 
years, carrying the burden on his stocky little frame without 
a tremble from the weight of it, and what an excellent job 
he did! Fred was more than delighted to be in a place where 
he did not have to worry about administration; he did not even 
know about many of the finances of the hospital, nor was he 

i So The Chinese Ginger Jars 

the highest paid doctor on the staff. The Chinese children 
in the school next door must have been puzzled by the con- 
trast between what they heard in class about Americans and 
what they could see before their eyes. Why had the doctor 
come to China then? Their teachers had an answer. 

One day, when our three were playing in the yard, a group 
of children from the school joined them. 

"Do you see that woman sitting on the porch?" one of them 

"Yes, she's our mother/' was the reply. 

"No, she isn't your mother. She stole your father away from 
your real mother in America and made life so unhappy for 
him there that he had to leave his practice and come to China." 

The good joke was shuttled around the compound, and 
there were many references to me as the "concubine/' It was 
all very, very funny until we realized that the Littlest One 
was not eating. At first we thought she might be coming down 
with measles or chicken pox, but soon her loss of security 
revealed itself. 

"Mother, are you a witch? Can you turn yourself into 
something that you aren't?" were some of her questions. 

It was only after a long time and after many reassurances 
with stories of "when you were a little baby inside me/' that 
she began to feel secure again. 

To all outward appearances, life went on fairly normally. 
We were allowed to go and come as we chose as long as we 
kept well within the city limits. For that matter, no Chinese 
could leave the city without permission either. It was a bit 
disconcerting at times to be called a Russian devil as we 
passed. People seemed to think that any foreigner now ap- 
pearing in their city streets must surely be a Russian; and that 
was not far from the truth since there were few foreigners of 
any other nationality in the country. But the screws were grad- 

The Bamboo 18 1 

ually being turned. Visitors calling at our home were com- 
pelled to register in a book stating their name, age, nationality, 
profession, and the purpose of their visit to us. They were 
required to leave any package which they might happen to 
bring with them at the gatehouse with the guard until their 
return from us when they signed out, giving the time. We 
feared to have our Chinese friends get their names in what 
we felt sure was a black book, but it did not deter them from 

Once when we were all out for a short ride in a rickshaw 
we passed a group of primary school children marching to a 
meeting. One of them called out, "Look, Russians!" and the 
rest of the children took up the cry. Knowing how our three 
might react to that, I looked back quickly to their rickshaw 
to see how they were taking it. The situation was ripe for an 
international incident. I needn't have worried. They were 
accepting the ovation with bows to the right and to the left 
like visiting royalty. 

Strange, incongruous things were happening which would 
have been highly amusing were it not for the rising tension. 
One Sunday all of the employees in the hospital were called 
upon to march in an anti-American parade. (It was in vain 
that the hospital administration pleaded that such an exodus 
would deplete the staff to a point where it would be impos- 
sible to care for the patients, let alone take care of an emergency. 
The reply came back, "What are you putting first, the lives 
of a few individuals or the State?") There was some question 
in Fred's mind as to the wisdom of our walking through the 
streets on such a day, but the bishop was counting on me to 
play the hymns for the union service, and since we would 
probably be taken for Russians anyway, we decided to risk it. 

The Anglican church, where the service was held, was across 
the street from the Russian Trade Embassy, and as we ap- 

1 82 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

preached we saw that part of the street was fenced off so that 
no common person could interfere with the arrival of important 
guests at a cocktail party now in progress. The guests were 
arriving, one to a car, an American car. It would not do to 
crowd two or three in one car together. So, as our Chinese co- 
workers from the hospital were marching in an anti-American 
parade, and as we were trying to listen to a sermon by an 
English bishop, his voice was being drowned out by the 
Russians entertaining their Chinese guests with such Ameri- 
can records as "Rose Marie, I Love You/' played over a 
raucous loud-speaker. 

Parades were the order of the day. One of our dearest 
Chinese friends, a devout Christian woman who was obliged 
to march in many of them, said to me one day, "I welcome 
every opportunity to walk through the streets of this city. 
There is nothing these people need more than love. I look at 
them as I pass and love them. I pray for them too and, do you 
know, they go home never knowing what hit them!" 

It didn't seem like China any more. Nobody smiled or 
laughed out loud. The wonderfully apropos quips were 
dropped from all conversation. Suspicion and fear were tan- 
gible enough to touch, and there were accusation meetings held 
against Fred and our closest friends. That Fred neglected 
Communist soldiers who were his patients, that he con- 
trolled the finances of the hospital, that he was a spy of 
American imperialism were some of the trumped-up charges. 
This I rebelled against with all my being. 

"What can you do, which way can you turn, when you have 
no recourse to justice?" I would ask Fred. For no explanation 
of an action, no answer to an accusation was accepted by those 

Fred took it far more philosophically than I ever could. But 
one morning we found the vicious placards posted on the 

The Bamboo 183 

walls of the hospital. When he saw that some of the signatures 
were those of his own students whom he had worked with 
and loved, it seemed as if his heart would break. 

'What they say is not true/' he said sadly, "but I suppose that 
if they had asked me, I could have told enough that was 
true for them to make a case against me. I am human, I make 
mistakes. Perhaps this amounts to the same thing/' 

'"You may make mistakes/' I protested, "but you have 
never wilfully done anything against anyone. You wouldn't 
hurt a snake. And every single soul around here knows that 
the accusations against you are not true!" 

That was the diabolical part of it It was as if the Com- 
munists were saying, "You all know these accusations are not 
true; we, too, know that they are not true. But we have 
absolute power to make them as if they were true. This too 
can happen to you." 

As the loud-speakers blared out speeches of frenzy against 
us all day long and night after night until midnight, I won- 
dered how long my sanity would hold out. "God has not 
given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a 
sane mind." Power, love, sanity! I tried to hold the words in 
my mind. 

There were some evenings when the Chinese gentleman on 
the nearby balcony would play his accordion. We could not 
see him clearly through the heavy bamboo sprays, but he 
appeared to be in uniform. When the accusation meetings 
were at their loudest pitch, he would play American folk 
songs. We never found out who he was and he may never 
know how grateful we were for his friendly hand of song 
across our darkness. 

On December 3, 1950, we registered our application with 
the police for permission to return to America. Fred had 
hoped to complete the medical lectures he was giving before 

1 84 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

applying, but the day came when one of his Chinese colleagues 
at the Medical College telephoned to say, "Don't come in 
for your lecture today under any circumstances/' The walls of 
the college had been plastered with accusations against Fred, 
the sight of which his friends were trying to spare him. 

"But I have only two more lectures to give before the 
course is completed/' Fred replied. 

"Just forget about those two lectures and don't come down 
here at all," his friend warned. 

A day or two later, following an official injunction that no 
patient was to allow himself to be treated by a foreign doctor, 
Fred's work at the hospital too was finished. We sat in the cold, 
damp house huddled around the fireplace, popping the last 
of the popcorn sent out from home, playing games with the 
children, and waiting for the permit to come. 

Christmas came and still no permit had been issued. The 
gardener, intimidated, refused to bring in the Christmas tree 
or to allow anyone else to dig it up and put it in its pot. But 
the Chinese engineer in charge of repairs for the hospital went 
out and cut down an evergreen from his family burial plot. 
'These children are going to have a Christmas tree," he said. 

It was a strange Christmas morning. We had decided against 
taking the children with us through the streets to church. 
It was well we had. Just as we were passing a primary school, 
we heard jeers and looked up to see forty or more children 
on the roof spitting down at us. Fortunately there was a good 
wind and the barrage missed fire. 

"I'd feel differently about it," I said as we walked along, 
"if it weren't that I never get up that high without having 
the desire to spit down on someone myself. Wasn't it Richard 
Halliburton's poet friend who, on top of the Matterhorn, 
looked at the beauty below him and came out with the un- 
poetic remark, *I could spit a mile'?" 

The Bamboo 185 

One morning there were chalk marks on the walk in front 
of the house: "Imperialist dog, do you not yet know enough 
to leave China?" 

Well as we knew who had put them there, and how little 
it had to do with our friends and colleagues, the chalk marks 
on the cement hurt. And part of the hurt came from the 
stricken looks of our co-workers as they too read the words. 

"Darling/' I said, "do go to the police again and ask them 
if we may leave. I can't bear this any longer/' 

"I know, Honey, but it was only day before yesterday that 
we went, and the officer said no permission had been given," 
Fred replied. 

By now we both knew the route to the police station blind- 
folded. We had made thirty-two trips (and presented twelve 
photos) in order to get permission for the Golden-Haired One 
to come in for ten days on her last visit before leaving for 
America. But she had been allowed to come in, which was an 
unusual concession. 

And there were the constant questionings. We were at a 
distinct advantage during these hours of examination because 
we did not need an interpreter and could speak directly to our 
questioners in Mandarin, the official language. The mission- 
aries who had never lived in the north and the businessmen 
who did not speak the language were at the mercy of their 

One Sunday morning we had been called in for another 
of the questionings. For some reason we were alone with lie 
examiner; usually the room was full. 

"Why did you come to China in the first place?" the 
examiner asked. 

Fred was trying to avoid the pitfall that China was a needy 
country and he had come to help; he hesitated a moment to 
phrase his answer. 

1 86 The Chinese Ginger Jars 

I turned to him and said quietly and quickly in English, 
"Don't you think the real reason we came is because Jesus 
said to go into all the world and teach and preach and heal?" 

Fred turned back to the police official to give that answer 
in Chinese and found him smiling and nodding in complete 
accord with what I had whispered to Fred. But the serious, 
dead-pan expression returned to his face at once as he barked 
out another question. 

The day the chalk marks appeared on the walk, Fred went 
to the police station alone. When he came into the house 
some two hours later, I knew at once that the permit had 
not been granted. 

"Do you remember that crazy Western movie we saw?" he 
asked as he helped me remove the chalk marks, "the one 
about the fellow with the two guns shoving the little guy 
into the corner and saying, "You can't go and you can't stay. 
What are you going to do?' I've been thinking about it all 
the way home. 

"Here is something for you/' he added as we went into the 
house. "I thought you deserved a little surprise." And he gave 
me a tiny package containing the beautiful opal stone that we 
had looked at so often in the jade market. 

Two days later the permit came through. Though it had 
seemed like an age of time, we were actually far more fortunate 
than most people in obtaining the permit in less than two 

On January 24, 1951, we left Canton. Our staying on under 
the Communists had justified every person who left early 
because he felt he could not work under this regime. We 
had been so sure that we could. By far the most difficult thing 
we had to face was not the suspicion, not even the accusation 
meetings, but seeing our Chinese friends placed in an 
impossible position because of our being there. Any move 

The Bamboo 187 

toward us on their part put them in the bad graces of 
the Communists. We urged them not to come to see us, not 
to speak to us when they passed us on the street. We dreaded 
the consequences of their having anything to do with us. In 
spite of our entreaties they had continued to come to see us 
at our home, and now two of them braved censure and 
came to the railway station for a last farewell, 

"At least we did not have the heartache of listening to 
'God Be With You Till We Meet Again/ " said Fred as the 
train pulled out of the Canton station. 

At last the border, the gates flung open and the neat, black- 
uniformed Hong Kong police saying, 'Welcome to Hong 
Kong!" My knees felt weak. I threw my arms around our 
faithful Ah Yang, who had elected to live in Hong Kong and 
had left China with us. With my head on her shoulder, I 
cried and cried and cried. 

How great a deliverance! How great a deliverance! was all 
I could say or think. Why had we been allowed to come out, 
and why were some of our dearest friends still back there in 
solitary confinement in prison? We did not deserve it; we did 
not deserve it at all. How sweet it was to breathe the air of 
freedom; how beautiful would be the low white house, the 
soft green meadows, the flowering dogwood of River Bend! 

I looked up at Fred. His gaze was down the long silver 
tracks, but he was not seeing them. 

"I wonder where we'll be two years from today/' he was 


It is but a few months more than two years from that day. 
We are in India, crumpling the newspaper wrappings from a 
pair of Chinese ginger jars. We found them, quite by chance, 
this afternoon in the junk shop kept so carelessly by the old 
Sikh gentleman with the long white beard. There on his shelf 
were the lovely green jars, sitting squat and proud among the 
empty bottles and broken tins. We have brought them home 
to our summer cottage in the foothills of the Himalayas. 

"Look at it," Fred is saying as he places one of the jars in 
my hands. 

He is now Professor of Medicine at the Christian Medical 
College at Ludhiana in the Punjab, and we have come to this 
hill station to study the language. It is strange to be starting 
a new life in a new country a country as big, as colorful, as 
confusing as India. And yet there is a familiarity that is 
frightening. What course will India take? Are we beginning 
a new life, or are we facing the same old round of uncertainty 
and difficulty, the same old troubles? 

The same old troubles those which we would never have 
chosen, but which we wouldn't have missed for anything in 
the world! 

Whatever comes, we will not be facing it alone. I hold the 
cold stone jar against my face and thank God. 


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