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by EVKH ^HG 


REYNT^L S HITCHCOCK -NEW YORK 

194 5 



Copyright 1945 by Reynal & Hitchcock, Inc, New York 


All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce 
this book or portions thereof in any form. 

Format by Richard Ellis 




Printing and Binding by the 
H, Wolff Book Manufacturing Co. New York 
United States of America 



person we want to introduce is Happy Boy and not 
Gamely because Camel is only his nickname. So we will 
first speak of Happy Boy, and when we have reached that point 
we will relate how he came to be connected with a camel, where- 
after we will forget the sobriquet and call him by his proper 
name anyway, which should settle the matter. 

We hope to describe Happy Boy's position with the same 
definiteness with which one would indicate the place of a cer- 
tain bolt in a machine. Before he came to be connected with 
the nickname "'Camel," he was one of those relatively inde- 
pendent rickshaw coolies, which is to say that he belonged to 
that group of strong young pullers who moreover own their 
own rickshaws; with their own rickshaws they have their own 
livelihood: they are the high-class rickshaw men. 

But that certainly is no easy point to reach. A year, two years 
“three or four years at the very least; one drop of sweat, two 
drops of sweat: no one knows how many tens upon countless 
tens of thousands of drops of sweat it took to earn that rickshaw. 
It was reaped from many and many a time that he had gritted 
his teeth in the wind and the rain and from his long self-denial 
in the food he ate and the tea he drank. That one rickshaw was 



the end result and final reward of all his struggling and suffering, 
like the medal worn by the soldier who has survived a hundred 
battles. In the days when he had rented someone else's rickshaw 
he had been like a top that was perpetually whipped to keep 
it spinning. In a dizzy whirl from early till late, from east to 
west, from south to north, there had been nothing he could call 
himself. But in all this spinning around his sight had not be- 
come blurred, nor his heart confused: he had thought always 
of a far-away rickshaw that would free him, make him inde- 
pendent, and be as much a part of him as were his own hands 
and feet. With a rickshaw of his own he need no longer take the 
guff of the rickshaw owners, and there would be no need for 
lengthy explanations to any one else: with his own natural 
strength and his own rickshaw, he had only to keep his eyes 
open and he would have food to eat. 

He was not afraid of hardship, nor did he have the bad habit 
that many rickshaw coolies had of condoning faults without 
making any effort to correct them: his mind and energy were 
both adequate to the task of turning his aspirations into facts. 
If his environment had been a little better, or if he had been 
given a little more education, he could certainly never have 
fallen into the rubber-tired corps, and in any case, whatever 
work he might have taken up, he would not have been insen- 
sible to his opportunities. Worse luck, he had no choice but to 
be a rickshaw coolie; all right, then, even in this trade he would 
prove his ability and his cleverness. It seemed as if even were 
he in hell he would still be a well-behaved devil. 

He was born and raised in a village and had lost his mother 
and father and a few mou of ground, and when he was eighteen 
had come in to the city. He brought with him the country boy's 
robust health and guilelessness. At one time or another he 
worked at practically every one of the jobs in which one sells 
one's strength to get food to eat, but it was not long before he 
realized that pulling a rickshaw was an even easier way of earn- 

8 



ing money. In other kinds of manual labor there was a limit 
to your income; in rickshaw pulling there were more chances 
and better chances; you never knew at what time or in what 
place you might just happen to receive a greater reward than 
you had hoped for for your labors. 

Naturally he also knew that this kind of chance was not alto- 
gether fortuitous; that it was necessary that both the man and 
his rickshaw be smart-looking and spirited, and that you had 
to have something of quality to sell before you could hope to 
meet with buyers who really knew quality. 

Turning the matter over in his mind, Happy Boy felt sure he 
had the qualifications: he was strong, he was just in the prime 
of his youth; the only lack was that he had never pulled a rick- 
shaw and did not dare try out his hand on a brand-new one. 
But this was not a difEculty over which it was impossible to 
triumph: with his physique and physical strength as a basis, 
he need only experiment for ten days or two weeks, in which 
time he would certainly be able to acquire a stride that had 
some style to it, and then he would go rent a new rickshaw- 
There would be no way of knowing how soon after that he 
might get into a job by the month, where by frugal eating and 
careful spending for one or two years, or even if it were so long, 
as three or four years, he would surely be able to get his own 
rickshaw, as smart as they come. Looking at his own young 
muscles, he told himself that the question was only one of 
time, that this was something he could certainly do: that it was 
not just a dream. 

His height and strength were both developed in advance of 
his age; he was under twenty and already very big and tall. Al- 
though the passing months and years had not yet molded the 
physical bearing of his body into any particular form, yet he 
already had the appearance of a full-grown man— an adult in 
whose face and manner was the suggestion of a child's unaf- 
fected naturalness and mischievousness. Watching the high- 

9 



class rickshaw men, he laid his plans to gird his loins among 
them, the better to show forth the iron strength of his own 
chest and the straight hardness of his back; he twisted his head 
to look at his own shoulders— they were broad enough. He 
would tighten his girdle and put on a pair of wide-legged white 
trousers which he would bind at the ankles with bands made 
from chickens' intestines, to show off his outsize feet. Right 
enough, there could be no doubt that he would become the 
best rickshaw man of them all! And like the simple country boy 
he was, he grinned largely at the prospect. 

There was nothing special about his features — what made 
him likeable was the spirit in his expression. His head was small, 
his eyes round, his nose fleshy, his eyebrows very short and very 
coarse, and his head always shaved clean of hair. There was no 
surplus fat on his jowls, but his neck was almost as thick as his 
head, and his face was everlastingly as red as if it had just been 
slapped. A large scar between his right ear and cheek bone shone 
witli special brightness— once during his childhood when he 
had fallen asleep under a tree a mule had taken a bite out of 
him. He didn't pay much attention to whether he was good- 
looking or not: the thing he liked about his own face was the 
same thing he liked about his physique— both had a firm hard 
strengtlr. It was as if he regarded his face as being in the same 
category with his arms and legs— if there was enough strength 
in it, it was all right. Yes, even after he had come to the city 
to live he could still turn a handspring, or even stand on his 
hands, with his head down, for half a day. In that difficult 
stance he felt that he was very much like a tree— there wasn't 
a single part of him, either up or down, that wasn't straight and 
firm. 

It was assuredly tme that even when he was standing upright 
Happy Boy did have something tree-like about him. He was 
sturdy, silent, and alive. He had his own plans, and he was not 
unintelligent, but it was hard for him to talk to other people. 

■■I©"':' 


Among rickshaw men the wrongs which each has suffered and 
the difficulties with which each is confronted are proper sub- 
jects of public conversation. At the rickshaw stands at street 
intersections, in the little tea shops, or in the general market 
place, each man would report, describe, or just bawl out his 
personal affairs, and after ‘that they would become a kind of 
capital of the whole group and would spread from one place 
to another like a new popular song. 

Happy Boy was a countryman and his lips and tongue were 
not as quick and fast as those of fellows born and raised in the 
city. If quickness of the tongue is a matter of natural talent, it 
must be said that from the time he was a baby Happy Boy had 
never liked to talk very much, and on that account he was 
loath to imitate the spiteful lips and evil tongues of the city- 
dwellers. He knew about his own affairs himself and he wasn't 
happy to discuss them with other people. Because his lips were 
habitually unoccupied he had the leisure in which to think, and 
it seemed as if his eyes were always turned in on his own heart. 
It was only necessary that his mind should be made up, and 
he would follow the road opened up in it. If it happened that 
that road could not carry him to his objective, he was able to 
keep all words from his tongue for two or three days. 

When he had decided to pull a rickshaw, he went directly 
to get a rickshaw to pull. He rented an old, broken-down one 
to try out his legs. The first day he earned no money; on the 
second his business was quite good, but for tlie next two days 
he was flat on his back, his ankles swollen up like two calabashes 
and hurting so that he couldn't lift up his feet. He bore it 
without complaint, no matter how great the pain was, because 
he knew that this was unavoidable, that it was an experience 
through which every rickshaw man must pass. Until he had suf- 
fered it he would not dare to really stretch his legs and run. 

After his ankles got well again, he was no longer afraid. He 
was as happy as he could be, because there was nothing more 


to be scared of: he was tlioroughly familiar with the names of 
streets and placeS;, and even if occasionally he took a fare the 
long way round to the place he wanted to go it made no great 
difference. Fortunately Happy Boy had plenty of strength, and 
that was what it took. Nor did he find it difficult to pick up 
from his own experience the various methods of handling his 
rickshaw—of pushing it back, pulling it, lifting it up, and using 
his shoulders. Moreover, he had his axioms to guide him: if 
you spent more time in being careful, and less in wangling for 
right-of-way, there certainly wouldn't be much chance of your 
committing a serious fault. 

When it came to haggling about prices and competing for 
fares, his tongue was too slow, and for all the vigor of his ap- 
pearance he was no match for the old oilies. Knowing his weak- 
ness, he simply did not go to the rickshaw stands at the big 
intersections, but wherever there were no other rickshaws, there 
he would put his own. In these out-of-the-way places he could 
talk price without embarrassment, and when sometimes he was 
unwilling to ask a definite fare, he would simply say, ''Get in 
and pay me whatever you feel like/' His manner was so sincere 
and his face so simple and likeable that it seemed as if people 
could only believe him and did not dare to think that this great 
big country bumpkin could possibly be trying to trick them. If 
they suspected him of anything, it was that he had just come to 
the city and not knowing his way about the streets or how long 
the haul would be, he did not know what the price should be. 
When it got to a point that the prospective passenger would ask 
him, "Do you know where that address is?^' he would only 
smile, in a way that made him seem to be either pretending to 
be stupid or trying to be coy, leaving the would-be passenger 
bewildered. 

In two or three weeks' time he had got his legs worked into 
it, and he realized that the style of running which he had de- 
veloped was very good to look at. A rickshaw man's running 

12 



style is the outward evidence of his ability and his qualifications. 
The fellow who throws his feet around, slapping them at the 
ground as if they were a pair of rush-leaf fans, is without any 
doubt a beginner who has just arrived in town from his village. 
Those whose heads are bowed very low, whose feet scrape along 
the ground, and who have all the appearance of running al- 
though their pace is actually not much faster than a walk, are 
the old ones, over fifty. There are also those whose experience 
is ten parts complete but who are without much strength—they 
have still another way. With their chests drawn in and their 
shoulders thrown forward, they lean far forward and lift their 
knees very high, ducking their heads with each step, so that 
they give the impression that they are running very hard, while 
as a matter of fact they are not moving a bit faster than any 
one else: they depend solely on appearances to maintain their 
^^face.'^ 

Naturally Happy Boy would never choose such a carriage. 
His legs were long and his stride was big; with exceptionally 
sound thighs, he ran almost noiselessly, every step elastic, and 
the shafts of the rickshaw absolutely steady, so that the passen- 
ger would feel at ease and comfortable. When it came to stop- 
ping, he had only to scrape his big feet lightly along the ground 
for two or three paces, and no matter how fast he might have 
been running he could come to a standstill; it was as if his 
strength reached every part of the rickshaw he was pulling. With 
his back bent forward a little, his two hands loosely gripping the 
shafts of the rickshaw, he was alive, facile, sure; and though he 
showed no sign of haste, he was yet a very fast runner —fast 
and with no risk for his fare. Even among the pullers of private 
rickshaws this would be regarded as worthy of honor. 

He changed his rickshaw for a new one. On the day that he 
made the change, he inquired carefully and discovered that a 
rickshaw like the new one he was renting, with soft springs, 
bright brass work, a rain cover for the top and a curtain for the 

■ ■ ■; ■■■I3 '■ 



front, two lamps, and a long-throated brass horn, was worth 
something over one hundred dollars. If the lacquering and the 
brass work were a little carelessly finished, then you could get 
it for a hundred dollars. Speaking generally, then, he need only 
have a hundred dollars to buy himself a rickshaw. Suddenly he 
thought to himself: if he could save ten cents every day, it 
would only take a thousand days to save a hundred dollars. A 
thousand days! Wlien he thought of a thousand days all to- 
gether, he could hardly figure out how far away the farthest was, 
but he made up his mind— a thousand days or ten thousand 
days, he had to buy his own rickshaw. 

He thought the thing out to himself, and he could see that 
the first thing was for him to become the rickshaw man in a 
private family. If he ran into a master who had many friends, 
and went out often to dinner, there might be in an average 
month as many as ten dinners, and he would get two or three 
dollars extra in food tips from his master's hosts without any 
extra work. If he added to that the eighty cents or a dollar he 
could save from his wages, he might have three or four or even 
five dollars, and in a year he could save fifty or sixty. In this 
way his hope seemed much closer and more easily realizable. 
He did not smoke or drink or gamble, and he had no weakness 
of any kind. He was not tied down by a family, and if only he 
himself were willing to grit his teeth, there was nothing he 
could not do. He made an oath to himself: in a year and a half 
he would have his own rickshaw, whatever happened. It must 
be a new one, not an old one built over. 

Happy Boy did in fact become the rickshaw man in a private 
family, but the actualities were not always an aid to his hopes. 
There was no mistake about it: he had gritted his teeth but by 
the end of a year and a half he had not made good his oath. It 
was true that he had become a private rickshaw puller and had. 
been very careful not to do anything that would cost him his 



job, but unfortunately the affairs of this world are not simple. 
He thought only of doing his work carefully, but his masters 
were not prevented on that account from firing him. Some- 
times it was two of three months, and sometimes perhaps only 
eight or ten days, and then his job would be gone as suddenly 
as a candle-light goes out when you blow on it, and he would 
have to hunt again for another employer. Naturally he had, on 
the one hand, to haul fares while, on the other, he was looking 
for a job; he was riding a horse in search of a horse, and he had 
no time for leisure. 

In times like these he often made mistakes. He was forcing 
his energy because he could not make enough each day to fill 
his stomach for the day: he had to continue saving his money 
to buy himself his rickshaw. But forcing your energy is never a 
good thing to do. When he was pulling a rickshaw he could 
not keep his mind on the job and mn straight along: it was as 
if he was always thinking of something, and the more he 
thought the more afraid and upset he became. Suppose things 
were always like this, when would he ever be able to buy his 
rickshaw? Why were things like this? Could anybody say that 
he wasn't trying to improve himself? Then his thoughts would 
become confused, he would forget his usual carefulness, and 
one of the rubber tires of the rickshaw would run over bits of 
twisted brass or broken crockery and when the tube blew out 
there would be a sound like a firecracker exploding. The only 
thing to do then would be to return the rickshaw to the shed 
from which he had rented it. Even more serious, he would 
sometimes run into people walking in the street, and there vras 
one time when he was in such a hurry to get over a crossing that 
his rickshaw got run into and the whole covering was smashed. 
If he had been working as a rickshaw man in a private family 
these things could not have happened, but whenever he lost a 
job like that he was terribly unhappy and would go about in a 
kind of a daze. When he got into an accident and damaged a 



rented rickshaw he naturally had to pay for repairs; that made 
him more hot and burnt-up than ever, like a fire on which kero- 
sene is poured. Because of his fear that he might get into even 
greater difficulties, he would sometimes, out of sheer vexation, 
sleep the whole day away. Then when he opened his eyes the 
hours would already be gone for nothing, and he would be filled 
with regret and hatred for himself. 

There was another thing: in these periods of anxiety and 
fear, tlie more frightened he got, the more he subjected himself 
to hardship, and the less regularity tliere was in his eating and 
drinking. He thought that he was made of iron but actually he 
too could be sick. Once sick, he was unwilling to spend the 
money to buy medicine and would stubbornly hold out against 
his illness. The result would be that he would get sicker and 
sicker, and would finally not only have to buy medicine but 
also to rest for many days together. These difficulties only made 
him clench his teeth more grimly and work the harder, but the 
money with which to buy his rickshaw did not collect any more 
rapidly on that account. 



Just exactly three years had passed by the time he had saved 
a hundred dollars. 

He could wait no longer. The original plan had been to buy 
the most completely equipped, the most modern, the most 
desirable of rickshaws, but now the best he could do would be 
to speak within the one hundred dollars. By good fortune there 
was a rickshaw that had just been built, but the man who had 
ordered it now had no money with which to take delivery of 
it. It was not very different from the rickshaw of which Happy 

i6 



Boy had dreamed^, and originally it was worth more than a 
hundred but because the down-payment had been forfeited the 
rickshaw shop was willing to accept a little less than its value. 
Happy Boy's face was flushed red^ and his hand shook. He 
brought out ninety-six dollars. 

'1 want this rickshaw%" The master of the shop hoped to 
force him up to a round number and talked endlessly^ pulling 
the rickshaw out and pushing it back again^ putting the top of 
it up and letting it down again, sounding the horn, and with 
each motion producing the most beautiful adjectives to match 
the action; and finally he kicked the steel spokes of one of the 
wheels. ''Listen to that sound! It's like a belli Pull the rickshaw 
away with you — pull it until it falls apart, and if one spoke 
comes loose you can bring the cart back and throw it in my face! 
One hundred dollars! One penny less and we snuff out the 
deal." 

Happy Boy counted his money once more. "I want this rick- 
shaw. Ninety-six dollars." The shopkeeper knew he was up 
against a person with sense. He eyed the money and he eyed 
Happy Boy, and sighed. "For the sake of making a friend, the 
rickshaw is yours. I guarantee it for six months, and unless you 
smash up the frame of it 111 make repairs on it for you for 
nothing. Here's the guarantee — take it." 

Happy Boy's hands trembled even more. He grasped the 
guarantee, and pulled the rickshaw out of the shop, feeling as 
if he wanted to cry. He drew it along to a secluded spot where 
he could go over it— his own rickshaw — with minute care, and 
could look at his own face in the bright polish of its lacquer, as 
if he were looking in a mirror. The more he looked at the rick- 
shaw the more he loved it; even the things in which it did not 
quite come up to his expectations he could now overlook, be- 
cause it was already his own rickshaw. He looked at it so long 
that he felt tired and sat down on the carpeted footrest, his 
eyes on the burnished yellow brass of the horn on the shaft. 

:;,17 



Suddenly lie remembered that this year he was twenty-two 
years old. Because his mother and father had both died early, 
he could not remember the date of his birth, and since he had 
come to the city he had not celebrated his birthday. Well, then, 
he would count today, the day on which he had bought his new 
rickshaw, as his birthday: both his and the rickshaw's. Tliat 
would be easy to remember, and since he had bought the rick- 
shaw with tlie sweat of his heart, there was actually no reason 
why he should not count it as part of himself. 

How would he celebrate this double birthday? Happy Boy 
had his plan: his first fare must be a well-dressed person and 
must on no account be a woman. The best thing would be a 
passenger to be taken to the South Gate, or to the Market of 
Eastern Peace. When he got there, he should properly go to 
the best food stall he could find and buy himself a meal of hot 
rolls with roasted mutton—or something like that. When he 
had finished, if he chanced on another good fare or two he 
would take them, but if not he would put his rickshaw up for 
the night. That would be his birthday celebration. 

From the day Happy Boy got his rickshaw life became more 
and more interesting. He could rent out his services by the 
month or he could pick up fares one by one: he need no longer 
worry about the rental money at the end of the day. All he 
earned in fares was all his own. Easy in his own heart, he was 
more than ever friendly to other people, and his business was 
because of that more than ever to his liking. When he had had 
his own rickshaw for six months, his hopes were even greater: 
if he could keep up at this rate, he need work only two years 
longer— not more than two— and he would be able to buy an- 
other rickshaw, and then another. In no time he would be open- 
ing a rickshaw shed! 

But most bright hopes come to strange and bitter endings, 
and Happy Boy's were no exception to the rule. 


i8 




/|^ECAUSE of Ills high spirits, Happy Boy lost some of 
i^t^te^his temerity: after he had bought his own rickshaw he 
ran even faster than before. Naturally he was particularly care- 
ful with a rickshaw that was his own property, but when he 
looked at himself and then at it he felt that it wouldn't be quite 
right for him not to run as fast as he could. 

He had grown over an inch in height since he had come to 
the city and he felt as if he would grow even taller. It was true 
that his features had settled a little, and that he had the begin- 
nings of a mustache on his upper lip, but he still felt that he 
should grow a little more. When he walked through the door 
of some little room or some low gateway, and he had to duck 
his head way down to get through, he would be happy in his 
own heart, even though he said nothing. The fact that he was 
already so tall and big while he was still growing made it seem 
as if he was at once a full-grown man and still a child: it was 
a lot of fun to be that way. 

A fellow as big as that, pulling a rickshaw as beautiful as his 
rickshaw was — his own rickshaw, with soft springs bouncing as 
he went along, so that even the shafts shook a little in his hands, 
with the back of the seat so brightly polished, the cushion so 
white, and the horn so loud~if he just dragged along and 
didn't run fast, how could he face himself? How could he face 
his rickshaw? This was not a false pride but rather a sense of 
responsibility. If he didn't fly along he would not be showing 
his own strength nor the excellence of his rickshaw. He could 


19 


find no words to say these things, but they were in his heart 
and he could not do other than follow his feelings about them. 

For this rickshaw of his was really lovable. By the time he 
had had it six months it was as if every part of it was alive and 
had feelings of its own. Whenever Happy Boy leaned to one 
side or the other, or bent his knees, or stood erect, his rickshaw 
would answer him- at once, giving him the most suitable assist- 
ance that it could. There was not the least barrier between 
them, and no contrariness one to the other. When he came 
to places where the road was smooth and the people few. Happy 
Boy needed to use only one hand to hold the shafts, and the 
light sound of the rubber tires on the gravel behind him, like a 
favorable wind, would carry him along evenly and at a flying 
speed. When he had reached the address of his fare, his clothes 
would be dripping with sweat, as if they had just come out of 
the wash. He would feel tired but very happy—a kind of tired- 
ness of which he could be proud, as if he had ridden a famous 
horse for several tens of li. 

Granted that fearlessness and carelessness are different 
things, Happy Boy was anything but careless in the brave way 
he sped along with his rickshaw. If running slow would make 
him unable to face his fare, running fast and wrecking his rick- 
shaw would leave him unable to face himself. His rickshaw was 
his life, and he knew how to be careful of it. With courage 
and care together, he became more and more self-confident: he 
was firmly convinced that both himself and his rickshaw were 
made of iron. 

Thus he was not only not afraid to run fast, he no longer 
worried about the hours which he worked. He felt that to earn 
his rice by pulling a rickshaw was the most independent thing 
in the world. When he wanted to go out, no one could stop 
him. He did not take very much to heart the rumors that he 
heard outside; he could not be bothered with all the talk about 
soldiers coming back to the Western Gardens, or the fighting 

'.20 ' 



at Ch'ang Hsin Tien, or the conscripting of men outside the 
Western Gate of Forthrightness, or the Gate of Uniform Trans- 
formation's being already closed for half a day. Naturally the 
stores would have put up their shutters and closed tlieir doors, 
and the streets would be full of armed police and members of 
the Peace Preservation Corps. He could not go hunting for 
trouble, and like everybody else he would put up his rickshaw 
as quickly as he could, but as for the rumors themselves he did 
not believe them. He knew how to be prudent, especially since 
his rickshaw was his own, but down underneath he was still a 
countryman, and not like the city people, who claimed it was 
raining whenever they heard the wind. Besides that, his size 
gave him confidence: if by some bad luck he should find him- 
self ''on the spot," he could certainly find some way out, so that 
he would not be likely to suffer too much loss. As tall as he was, 
and with such broad shoulders, it wouldn't be easy to take 
advantage of him. 

News of war and rumors of conflict grew up each year in the 
springtime with the growing wheat, and for the Northerner the 
full ripe kernel was the symbol of his hopes, as the glistening 
bayonet the omen of his fears. Happy Boy's rickshaw was six 
months old just at that season when the new wheat needs the 
rains of spring. Spring rains are not sure to fall when the people 
hope for them, but war comes anyway, regardless of whether or 
not anyone wants it. 

Whether the rumors were only rumors or actual facts. Happy 
Boy seemed to have forgotten that he had been a farmer; he 
did not think of how fighting mins the farmlands, and paid no 
heed to whether the spring rains had come or not. He only 
thought of his rickshaw. It could produce hot rolls and steaming 
rice and all his other food for him. It was a plot of soil in which 
anything could be grown, and which very conveniently followed 
him around; a piece of precious, living farmland. Because there 
had been a scarcity of rain and also because of the reports of 


21 



fighting, all kinds of food went up in price: this much Happy 
Boy knew. But he was like the city people—he could only com- 
plain about the price of food, without having any plan for doing 
anything about it. Food was dear. Well, then, it was dear. Who 
had the means of making it cheap? This attitude made him 
think only of his own livelihood, putting all calamities and dis- 
asters out of his mind. 

If the city people were without any means of helping them- 
selves, they could at least invent wild rumors. Sometimes they 
made them up out of nothing at all, and sometimes they started 
with one part of truth and talked it into ten parts of fancy, all 
to prove that they were neither stupid nor idle. They were like 
a school of little fish that have nothing better to do than put 
their mouths close to the surface of the water and amuse them- 
selves mightily by blowing useless bubbles. Among false rumors 
the most interesting are those about war: other false rumors 
end up only as false rumors, like telling stories about devils and 
fairy-foxes: no matter how much you tell about them, they 
won^t really appear. But as for rumors of war, tlie very lack of 
reliable news makes it possible for the wildest of stories to turn 
suddenly into fact. In small details there may be very great 
discrepancies between rumor and truth, but when it comes to 
the question as to whether fighting has broken out, rumor is 
eight or nine parts reliable. 

^'There's going to be warf' Whenever this sentence is spoken, 
you may be sure that sooner or later there will be war. As for 
who is to fight whom and why, each man will have a different 
answer. Happy Boy knew all this well enough. But although 
rickshaw men cannot welcome war, still they may not lose by 
its coming. Each time there has been war, it has been the rich 
who were most frightened. When the wind of rumor rises, they 
think at once of running for their lives; their money brings 
them to a place quickly, but it makes them the first to run from 
it when danger threatens. They can't run by themselves— their 


22 



feet and legs are laden down too heavily with their money. They 
must hire people to act as their legs; there must be people to 
carry their boxes; there must be rickshaws to haul men and 
women, old and young; at such a time the hands and feet of 
the brethren who sell their labor become more expensive. ''The 
Gate Before^^--"The East Station^^^"Where?^'--"The East 
Station''— "Oh— give me a dollar and forty cents— there's no 
use talking price— there'll be fighting here soonl" 

It was in conditions like these that Happy Boy took a fare 
outside the city wall. Rumors had been current for over ten 
days and prices had all gone up, but the fighting seemed a long 
way off, and not likely to reach Peking in any very short while. 
Happy Boy was pulling his rickshaw as usual, unwilling to sneak 
two or three days of lazying around just because of a few ru- 
mors. One day, when he had run his rickshaw to the western 
part of the city, he saw there many signs of trouble. Neither 
at the mouth of the Road of the Temple for the Defense of 
the State nor at the New Road Gate was there a single rickshaw 
man calling for fares to the Western Gardens or Ch'ing Hua 
University. Near the New Road Gate he strolled about for a 
while. Someone told him that rickshaws no longer dared ven- 
ture outside the city, that outside the Western Gate of Forth- 
rightness everything on wheels was being seized— wagons, push- 
carts, mule-carts, and rickshaws. He decided to take a cup of tea 
and then go back to the southern part of the city to put away 
his rickshaw. The emptiness of the street corners showed that 
there was real danger now. He had courage enough, but there 
was no use walking down a dead-end road. 

Just at this juncture two rickshaws came up from the south 
carrying fares that looked like students. The rickshaw men were 
calling out as they ran, "Who will go to Ch'ing Hua? Hei— 
Ch'ing Hua!" Because the college by that name was so far be- 
yond the safety of the city walls, none of the three or four rick- 
shaw men at the corner answered: they simply looked at the 



two rickshaws and smiled a little without resentment. One of 
them was sitting smoking a long-stemmed pipe: he did not 
even lift his head. The two rickshaw men kept on calling, ''Are 
you all dumb? Ch'ing Huaf' 

'Tor two dollars Fll go/' a shaved-head short little youngster 
answered, as if he were making a joke at the others who had 
said nothing. 

"Come along then. We must find one more.'' The two rick- 
shaws stopped. The short little fellow was silent for a moment, 
not knowing what it was best to do next. No one else moved. 
Happy Boy could see that it was certainly dangerous to go out 
of the city; otherwise, why, when ordinarily a haul to Ch'ing 
Hua was only a matter of twenty or thirty cents, was tliere no- 
body competing now when the price offered was two dollars? He 
didn't want to go either, but the youngster had made up his 
mind that if he could find someone to go wife him, he would 
take a chance, whatever happened. He looked hard at Happy 
Boy. "Big fellow, how about you?" 

The two words, "big fellow," made Happy Boy smile. It was 
a real compliment to him. He turned the thing over in his mind. 
For praise like feat it looked as if he ought to help out the little 
shaved-head fellow with the big guts. And besides, two dollars 
are two dollars. It wasn't every day that you could run into a 
idling like that. Danger? Was it likely feat he would just happen 
to run into it? Also he remembered having heard two days be- 
fore that the Altar of Heaven was crowded with soldiers, when 
he had seen with his own eyes that there wasn't even the hair 
of a soldier there. With that he pulled his rickshaw over to the 
road. 

When they reached the Western Gate of Forthrightness 
there was hardly anybody under the arches of the great gateway, 
and Happy Boy's heart grew chill. Tlie little shaved-head young- 
ster saw no good in the look of things either, but he still smiled, 
saying: "Take care, partner; 'if it's good luck it can't be bad; if 

24 , ■ ■ 



if s bad luck we can't dodge it anyway'; and we won't have to 
wait until tomorrow to find out." 

Happy Boy knew that things were going to turn out badly^ 
but he'd been making his living on the streets for too many 
years to go back on his word or act like a nervous old woman. 

Outside the Gate it was a fact that they didn't meet even 
one other rickshaw. Happy Boy kept his head down^ not daring ^ 
to look either to the left or the right of the road. His heart 
seemed to be knocking against his ribs. When they reached the 
Bridge of High Brightness he took a quick look around him 
without seeing a single soldier, and again felt a little easier at 
heart. Two dollars were after all two dollars, and he said to him- 
self that if you didn't have a little backbone, how could you 
hope to run into a good thing like that? Ordinarily he very 
much disliked talking, but right now he felt like saying a few 
words to the little shaved-head. The road was so quiet that it 
frightened him. 

''Let's follow the dirt path-— this highway we're on . . ." 

"You don't have to tell me that." The short fellow had 
guessed what he meant. "Once we get onto this path, we can 
figure that we've got a chance." 

They hadn't yet turned off the road when Happy Boy, the 
short fellow, their rickshaws and the fares riding in them, were 
all seized by some ten soldiers. 

Tliough it was already the season for the opening of the 
Temple on the Mountain of the Wonderful Peak, the night air 
was still too cold to be stopped by a single thin shirt. Happy 
Boy was not burdened down with either clothes or bedding, 
and had nothing to cover him but the thin gray coat of an amiy 
uniform and a pair of blue pants, both garments stinking with 
sweat. They were that way before he ever put them on. Looking 
at these tattered clothes, he thought of the small white jacket 
and the blue coat and trousers he had originally been wearing 



—how clean and smart-looking they had been! Yes, there were 
plenty of things in the world that were smarter-looking than 
Happy Boy’s clothes had been, but only he knew how hard it 
had been for him to reach the point in cleanliness and neatness 
which they had represented. 

Smelling now the stench of his own body and of these filthy 
rags, his past straggles and accomplishments already seemed 
to him to be far away and more than ever praiseworthy. There 
was ten times more glory in them than there had originally 
been. The more he thought of what had already gone by, the 
more he hated the soldiers who had taken him. They had 
robbed him of his clothes, his shoes, his hat, his rickshaw, and 
even of the strip of cloth that he wound around his waist as a 
belt. They had left him with nothing but black and blue bruises 
all over his body and blisters covering the soles of his feet. 

Well, the clothes didn’t count for much and the bruises 
would disappear in a little while, but the rickshaw that he had 
earned from years of sweat and blood was gone! From the time 
they had reached the military barracks, he had not seen it again. 
He could forget all the hardship and difficulty in the batting of 
an eye, but he could not forget his rickshaw. 

He was not afraid of sufEering: it was simply that the busi- 
ness of getting himself another rickshaw was not one that could 
be brought about just by saying the words. At the least it would 
take several years’ time. His past accomplishments were all now 
vain: he would have to start all over again from the very begin- 
ning. Happy Boy wept. He hated not only the soldiers but the 
whole world as well. Why had he been treated like this? \Vliy? 
Suddenly his anguish found voice, and he could hear himself 
almost shouting; “Why?” 

The sound of his voice startled him into a realization of the 
danger he was in. He had best forget all that for the present— 
the important thing was to get away alive. 

Where was he? It was a question that he couldn’t have an- 

26 / . 



swered properly himself. For the past days he had followed the 
troops, with the sweat pouring out of him from his head to his 
heels. When they were marching, he was either pulling or 
toting or pushing the property of the soldiers. When they 
halted, he had to carry water, make fires, and feed the animals. 
From morning to night he knew only how to use every last bit 
of the strength in his arms and legs—his mind was blank. When 
late at night he could at last lie down, it was as if he were dead. 
Nor was he certain that it would be such a bad thing if he never 
opened his eyes again. 

In the beginning he seemed to remember that the troops 
were retreating into the Mountains of the Wonderful Peak. 
Once into them, he could pay no heed to anything but the 
climbing itself, and the thought was constantly with him that if 
once his foot should slip he would be hurled down some ravine 
and his bones picked clean by the wild eagles that circled above 
him. The troops tramped about in the mountains for many 
days, and then suddenly one day the road became less and less 
mountainous; when the sun was on his back, he could see the 
level plains away off in the distance. When the bugle for the 
evening meal had sounded to call back the soldiers w^ho had 
been posted at some distance from the camp, several of them 
came back that evening leading three or four camels. 

Camels! Happy Boy's heart jumped. All at once he could 
think, like a person who, having lost his way, suddenly stumbles 
upon a familiar landmark from which he can quickly figure out 
everything else. Camels cannot cross mountains: they were cer- 
tainly back now to the plains. He knew that Wlietstone Pass 
and others of the villages to the west of Peking raised camels: 
was he to believe that they had dragged back and forth for so 
many days only to come out at Whetstone Pass, to the west of 
Peking? He did not know what kind of strategy that was, or if 
this gang of troops, who could only march and steal, were 
capable of strategy. But one thing he did know: if this was 



really Whetstone Pass, then the soldiers had not been able to 
find their way across the mountains and had come back to the 
foot of them to get their bearings. The Pass was a good place; 
if you went northeast from it you could get back to the Western 
Hills; if you went south you would reach the Inn of Unending 
Bitterness or Luxuriant Terrace, where the railway was. Tliere 
was also a road that went straight west from the Pass. Pie 
guessed that this was what the troops were probably thinldng, 
but by the same token it was a road out for him too. The time 
for him to run away had come! 



If it happened that the troops retreated again into tlie moun- 
tains, he would be in danger of starving to death even if he did 
escape. If he was going to run, he'd have to make the best of 
this opportunity. If he got away here, he could reach Seas’ Do- 
main in no time. In spite of the distance, he knew the way 
28 



perfectly. He was so excited that his heart seemed to be Jump- 
ing out of his mouth. In the last few days his blood had all run 
to his hands and feet;, but now it was as if it had all returned 
to his hearh mating it very hot, while his limbs became cold. 
He was trembling all over. 

It was after midnight, and he still could not close his eyes. 
His hope made him happy while he was at the same time almost 
terrified with the fear that it wouldn't come true. He wanted to 
sleep but couldn't. He had flung himself down on some dry 
grass, his arms and legs thrown out as if they were no longer 
parts of the same body. There wasn't the slightest sound, and 
only the stars in the heavens kept company with his thumping 
heart. The camels suddenly whinnied. They were not far away 
from him. He liked the sound. It made him sad, like the crow- 
ing of a cock in the middle of the night, and yet was somehow 
comforting. 

There was the crack of cannon fire in the distance: it was a 
long way off but was very distinctly cannon fire. He was afraid 
to move, although around him the camp was immediately 
thrown into confusion. He held his breath— the chance had 
come! He knew for certain that the troops would have to retreat 
again, and that they would be sure to go back into the moun- 
tains. His experiences in the past few days had taught him that 
the way in which these soldiers fought was the same as that of 
a fly locked in a room: they banged about wildly from one place 
to another, without any direction. At the sound of cannon fire 
they were sure to run. He'd have to be alert himself. 

Slowly and without breathing, he crawled along the ground, 
looking for the camels. He knew that the camels couldn't be of 
any help to him, but he was almost as much a beast of burden 
as they were, and it was as if he just had to feel a kind of fellow 
sympathy for them on that account. The encampment was in 
more confusion than ever. He found the camels, crouched down 
in the darkness like mounds of earth, motionless except for 

29 



their heavy breathing. The whole world seemed at peace. The 
quiet gave him more courage. He crouched down beside the 
camelS;, like a soldier behind a barricade of sandbags. Quickly 
he reasoned to himself: the sound of the firing came from the 
south; even if it did not mean that there would really be fight- 
ing, it was at the very least a warning that that road was closed. 
At that rate these troops would have to flee back into the middle 
of the mountains. When it came to scrambling up the moun- 
tainside, they couldn't take the camels along with them. So the 
camels' fate and his own were one and the same: if the troops 
didn't let these animals go, he would be finished along with 
them. If they forgot the camels, he could get away himself. He 
glued his ear to tlie ground to listen for footsteps coming in 
his direction, his heart racing the while. 

He didn't know how long he waited. No one came to take 
the camels along. He felt braver now and sat up looking out 
from between the humps of the camel at his side. He saw 
nothing at all. Everywhere there was only the blackest night. 
He would run. No matter— good luck or bad, he'd run. 



0 j HEN he had already run twenty or thirty paces away. 
Happy Boy stopped, unwilling to leave the camels be- 
hind. The only thing he had left in the world was his own life. 
If he had seen only a hempen string in the roadway, he would 
have been happy to pick it up. Even were it useless, he would 
at least have felt that in holding it his hands were not altogether 
empty. To save himself was the important thing, but of what 



use was that when he had nothing else? He would have to take 
the camels along. He had not quite figured out what use the 
camels would be, but at least they were something and some- 
thing pretty big, at that. 

He pulled the camels to their feet. The right way to handle 
the animals was a thing he knew nothing about, but he was not 
afraid of them. They got up very slowly, and he couldn't be 
bothered with seeing whether were all tied together; when he 
felt that they could be led away, he simply started off, not car- 
ing whether he had the whole lot of them or only one. 

He had taken only a few steps when he began to regret. 
Camels— ones that had become accustomed to carrying heavy 
loads — could not move fast. He must walk not only very slowly 
but very carefully as well. Camels were likely to slip: a puddle 
of water, a little mud, and they would be sprawled all over the 
road. Their value was all in their legs, and once their legs were 
done they were finished. And Happy Boy was trying to escape. 

But he wasn't willing to let them go. He would leave the 
thing to heaven— -how could he let go a flock of camels that he 
had got for nothing? 

Accustomed as he was to pulling a rickshaw, Happy Boy had 
a very good sense of direction: for all that, he was a little con- 
fused now. When he found the camels, he had paid no atten- 
tion to anything but them, so that with them in tow he didn't 
know which way was which. The night was so black, and he 
was so worried, that even if he had been able to get his bearings 
from the stars, he wouldn't have been able to go calmly about 
doing that. Just then, to his eyes, the stars, blinking so unstead- 
ily in the middle of the heavens, seemed to be in an even greater 
panic than he was himself. Happy Boy didn't dare look twice 
at the sky, but kept his head down, wanting in his frightened 
heart to move much faster but unable to because of the camels. 

He realized that, dragging them along with him, he would 
have to follow the main road and couldn't skirt along the foot 

31 



of the hills. From Whetstone Pass— if this was Whetstone Pass 
—there was a straight road to Yellow Village on which you 
could take camels, and which wasn't the least roundabout. For 
a rickshaw coolie, a road that goes straight from one point to 
another has a particular value. The trouble was that he would 
have no way of hiding on this road. What if, on the one chance 
in ten thousand, he should meet soldiers? Even if he didn't 
meet any soldiers, could he make anybody believe that these 
camels were his, dressed as he was in a tattered uniform and 
covered with dirt? He didn't look the part, not at all. If he 
wanted to escape, he'd have to let these animals go. But he 
couldn't finally make up his mind to let slip the rope in his 
hand that was tied to the ring in the lead-camel's nose, and he 
kept on walking. He'd keep walking as fast as he could, and 
when he couldn't go any farther he'd stop. He'd change his 
story according to whom he ran into— if he lived, he'd be the 
better by a couple of pack animals— if he died, he'd be dead, 
and there'd be nothing more to it. 

He shed his uniform, ripping off the collar of the coat and 
throwing into the darkness the two brass buttons that had still 
clung to it. Then he threw the collarless, buttonless jacket over 
his shoulders like a cape, tying the sleeves into a knot over 
his chest. Thus he could reduce a little the suspicion that he was 
a defeated soldier; the legs of his trousers he rolled up halfway, 
to disguise them too. He knew that even so he didn't look alto- 
getlrer like a camel-boy; at the same time he no longer was the 
runaway trooper. Add the mud on his face and the sweat on 
bis body, and probably he could pass as one of the coal-carting 
camel-men. 

It occurred to him that he could save his strength and bear 
the hunger better if he rode one of the camels, but he didn't 
dare try to mount one: supposing he could stay on after he got 
on, he would still first have to make the beast kneel down. Time 
was worth too much— he couldn't be bothered. Besides, when 




he got up that high it would be even harder to see the road 
before him, and if tlie camel slipped and fell he'd have to fall 
along with it. No, it would be better just to keep on walking. 

He knew generally that he was on a main road; of the place 
where he was and the direction in which he was moving he was 
utterly ignorant. The depth of the night, the long days of fa- 
tigue, and the fright of running away, made his heart and body 
wretched. When he had walked a little while, the soft even 
sound of the padded hoofs on the roadway and the slowness 
with which he was moving, gradually lulled him into a kind of 
sleep. It was still very dark, and the air was heavy with a damp 
cold mist that made his heart feel even less sure. He looked as 
hard as he could at the road at his feet: with every step he took 
it seemed to rise up before him, but when his foot touched the 
ground it would be smooth and even. To be so careful and still 
to be fooled time after time, made him angry. He might as well 

33 


not try to watch where he walked but just go on walking. He 
could see nothing around him, and he felt as if he were striding 
out of nothingness into nothingness again, with the silently 
moving camels trudging along at his back. 

Gradually he became accustomed to the darkness; his heart 
stopped pounding, and his eyes closed without his wanting them 
to. He didn't know whether he was still going forward or had 
already come to a dead stop. All he could feel was one wave 
after another of tootion, like the movement of a broad dark sea. 
His heart and the darkness around him had become one endless 
haze of indistinctness and confusion. He would have to think 
of something, have to keep awake. If he dropped down and 
slept, he knew that he wouldn't get up again for three days. 
What should he think of? His head was a little dizzy; his whole 
body was clammy with cold sweat; his head itched; his feet were 
heavy; his mouth was dry and rough. There was nothing else he 
could think of: he could only feel sorry for himself. His head 
was too empty and swollen: it was as if, just as he remembered 
himself, he forgot himself again. It was like a candle that is 
about to go out, and doesn't have enough light left to illuminate 
itself, much less anything around it. 

Never before had he suffered from any such agony of un- 
certainty and gloom. He had not been much given to making 
friends in his ordinary life, but with the sun shining down on 
you, and everything around you clearly to be seen, you don't 
feel afraid of things. 

If camels were as hard to handle as donkeys or mules, he 
probably would have had to keep alert to control them, but 
camels are particularly tame. These he was leading were so tame 
they got on his nerves. When he had been most frightened, he 
had suddenly suspected that they were no longer there at all. 
The thought had made him start: it was certainly possible that 
these beasts, moving so silently, could have slipped down some 
by-path without his knowing anything at all about it, as a cake 

34 


of ice that you dragged along after you might melt away before 
you knew it. 

At some time or other~he couldn't remember when—he sat 
down. He sat there five minutes— or maybe it was an hour-— he 
didn't know^ any more than he knew whether he sat down and 
then went to sleep, or went to sleep and then sat down. Probably 
he went to sleep first, because he was so tired that even standing 
up he couldn't keep awake any longer. 

Suddenly he woke up. It wasn't a natural awakening from 
sleep but a sharp jerk, as if in the time it took him to open his 
eyes he had jumped from one world to another. He could still 
see only the darkness, but he could hear very clearly the crowing 
of a cock. It was so clear it made the hard solid weight inside his 
head melt away, so that he could completely wake up. 

The camels? He had no time to think of anything else. The 
rope was still in his hand, and the camels were still at his side. 
He felt relieved, and too lazy to get up. His body was weary, and 
he didn't want to move, but he didn't dare go to sleep again. He 
had to think out, and think out carefully, a good plan to follow. 
He thought of his rickshaw. Why had he had to lose it? 

It did him no good at all to keep asking himself that ques- 
tion. He felt the camels: he didn't know how many there were 
of them, and now he was counting them. There were three. He 
didn't feel that that number was either too many or too few: he 
was simply going to think about the three of them. Although he 
didn't have any clear plan, he realized vaguely that from now on 
he must depend completely on these animals. Why shouldn't 
he sell them and buy himself another rickshaw? He was about 
to leap up to his feet but he didn't move. He felt ashamed of 
himself that he hadn't thought of such a simple thing earlier. 

His mind was made up: hadn't he just heard a cock crowing? 
Granting that sometimes cocks crow as early as two in the 
morning, it was yet certain that it could not now be long before 
dawn. And where there were cocks, there must be a village. 


Perhaps it was the town called Peace of Bitter Toil? There were 
camel breeders there. If he hurried he would be able to reach 
the village at daybreak^ get rid of his camels, and as soon as he 
got into the city he would buy himself a rickshaw. With every- 
thing in a panic on account of the fighting, rickshaws would 
certainly be cheaper. He could only think of buying a rick- 
shaw: it was as if the business of selling the camels was a very 
simple one. 

Thinking of the relation between the camels and a new 
rickshaw gave him fresh energy, and all his discomfort disap- 
peared. He wouldn't have been half as excited if someone had 
told him that he could buy a hundred mou of land with his 
three camels, or trade them for two or three real pearls. He 
jumped up quickly, pulled the camels to their feet, and started 
off. He didn't know what the current price of camels was, and 
could only remember having heard it said that in the old days, 
before railroads, a camel was worth fifty ounces of silver. Camels 
were strong, they ate less than horses or donkeys. Pie didn't 
hope to find a hundred and fifty ounces of silver, but only that 
he would be able to get eighty or a hundred dollars for them— 
just enough to buy a rickshaw. 

The more he walked the lighter the skies became. There was 
no mistake: the lighted spot was on the horizon toward which 
he was walking— he was in fact going east. Even if he had got 
the wrong road, the direction was right. He knew that the 
mountains were to the west and the city to the east. From com- 
plete blackness it was gradually becoming possible to distinguish 
light and shade, although you couldn't yet make out one color 
from another. In the gray mist the forms of distant trees and 
farmlands had already taken shape. Gradually the stars were 
thinning out; the heavens were much higher than before, and 
blanketed now with a dull murkiness that could have been 
either cloud or mist. Happy Boy wasn't any longer afraid to lift 
his head, and he had begun to smell the fragrance from the fresh 

36 



grass along the road and to hear the first faint cries of birds. 
Because now he could make out the forms of things, through 
the indistinctness, his other senses too seemed to come back 
to him. He could even see himself, and knew that however 
tattered and dirty he might look, he was still alive. It was like 
the feeling you have when you wake up from a bad dream: you 
realize how wonderful it is just to be alive. From himself he 
turned his eyes back to the camels. They were as dirty as he was, 
but he loved them too. It was at the season when animals shed 
their coats, and the grayish red skin of the camels showed 
through in great patches all over them, with only here and there 
a loose tuft of straggling hair hanging lifeless and ready to drop 
from their flanks. The saddest-looking part of them was their 
necks — they were so long and bare, bent and heavy, stretching 
so far that they looked like so many thin heart-broken dragons. 

But Happy Boy didn't despise them: he didn't care how 
awkward they looked, the important thing was that they were 
living. He congratulated himself on being the luckiest man 
alive. Heaven had presented him with three precious camels 
in exchange for his rickshaw, and it wasn't every day that you 
ran into a thing like that. He couldn't help smiling about it. 

The gray sky was beginning to show streaks of red, and the 
trees and landscapes were becoming clearer in outline. Gradually 
the red blended vnth the gray, turning almost purple in places, 
deep crimson in others, against a background of color that was 
like that of grapes that have not yet turned ripe. After another 
little while a bright orange showed through the red, and all the 
colors of the sky became brighter. Suddenly everything stood 
out distinctly; the morning mists in the eastern sky grew deep 
red, and the heavens above his head showed blue. Then the 
red mists scattered and the golden rays came down through 
them, weaving with the transverse clouds an immense and 
brilliant web. From a deep bluish green the fields, trees, and 
grass had changed to bright jade. 


37 



The trunks of ancient fir trees were brightly limned in the 
sunrise, and the wings of flying birds reflected the golden light. 
Everything around him seemed gay and smiling. Happy Boy 
wanted to call out in greeting to the sun: he felt as if he had not 
seen sunlight since the day the soldiers had siezed him. He had 
had a curse in his heart, and had kept his head down, forgetting 
that there was a sun or a moon, forgetting the heavens above 
him. Now he was free again, walking at liberty along a road that 
grew brighter as he walked. The glistening of the sun on the 
dewdrops in the«grass warmed his heart and made him forget his 
wretchedness and his pain. He didn't care how shabby and 
filthy he was— -the light and the warmth of the sun were not 
forbidden him. He lived in a world of warmth and light. He was 
so happy he wanted to shout for joy. 

Looking at his tattered clothes and shaggy camels behind 
him, he had to smile. It was a miracle that four such funny- 
looking objects as himself and these camels could have escaped 
such danger and be able to walk again in the sunlight. There was 
no use trying to think any more about who was right and who 
wrong— the whole thing was as heaven had decreed it. 

He was hungry for a sight of Peking. He had neither mother 
nor father there, nor anything that he could call his own, but 
still it was his home. The whole city was his home. Once he was 
there, he would find a way out of his difficulties. 

In the distance there was a village, a large one. Before it 
stood a line of willow trees, like tall green soldiers standing 
guard. Looking down, he could see the squat houses with smoke 
floating up from their chimneys. The distant barking of the vil- 
lage dogs seemed a beautiful sound to "him. He headed for the 
village, not thinking whether or not he might meet with good 
luck there. 

The way the dogs barked at him didn't worry him, but the 
attention which he attracted among the women and children 
of the place made him ill at ease. He thought he must look like 

38 



a very strange camel-boy: if not, why did everyone stare at him 
so open-mouthed? Suddenly he felt that it was all very hard to 
bear. The soldiers hadn't treated him as if he were a human 
being and now, among these villagers, everybody regarded him 
as some strange object! His size and strength had in the past 
given him a feeling of self-respect and pride, but in these last 
few days, without any reason or cause, he had been made to 
suffer the limit in wrong and misery. Over the ridge of one of 
the houses he caught sight again of the bright sunlit sky: some- 
how it was much less lovable than it had seemed just a little 
while before. 

The single main road through the village was pitted with 
puddles of stinking filth, and Happy Boy was afraid his camels 
might lose their footing in one of them. He wanted very much 
to rest a while. To the north of the road there was a relatively 
well-to-do person's house. In the back was a tiled building, 
although the portal was only latticed wood, with no proper gate 
and no gatekeeper's house. Happy Boy's heart leapt: a tiled 
house meant a wealthy man; a latticed gate and no gatehouse 
meant that the owner kept camels, because with a gatehouse 
over the gateway the animals would be too big to pass in or 
out. Well then, he would rest a while, and maybe there'd be one 
chance in a thousand that he could get rid of his camels here. 

''Sze, sze, sze" — Happy Boy called to his camels to kneel. That 
was the single call he knew in the language that camel-boys used 
to their charges. He was very pleased with himself to be able to 
use it, especially since it would make it seem to the villagers 
that he really knew his trade. The camels actually knelt down, 
and he himself sat dowii with a great flourish of elegance and 
dignity under a willow tree. People looked at him and he looked 
right back at the people. He knew that that was the only way to 
lessen the suspicions of the villagers. 

When he had sat there for a while, an old man with a shiny 
face and a blue jacket open in front came out from the com- 



pound. You could tell with a glance that he was a wealthy 
villager. Happy Boy made up his mind. 'Venerable Sir, is there 
some water at hand? Fd like to drink a cup."' 

"Ah.^^ The old man rubbed his hand across his bare chesty 
rolling up a little ball of dirt between his fingers. Fie looked 
Happy Boy over carefully and studied the camels minutely. 
"'Yes, there's water. Where'd you come from?" 

"From west of here." Happy Boy didn't dare mention the 
name of the place whence he'd come, as he wasn't sure of it. 

"There are soldiers to the west?" the old man asked, his eyes 
fixed on Happy Boy's soldier pants. 

"I was nabbed by them and have just got away." 

"Ah! You weren't in danger coming through the West Pass 
with those camels?" 

"The soldiers all went into the mountains, and the roads are 
very peaceful." 

"Uh." The old man nodded his head slowly. "You wait a 
while. I'll get you your water." 

Happy Boy went in with him. In the compound he saw four 
camels. "Venerable Sir, why don't you take my camels? Putting 
them with yours, you could make up a train." 

"Humph. If you were talking of thirty years ago, I had three 
trains. But times have changed. Who can afford to feed camels 
now?" The old man stood staring vacantly at the four animals. 
After a long time, he said: "A few days back I was thinking of 
going in with a neighbor and sending them out beyond the 
pass to graze. Then there were soldiers on the east and soldiers 
on the west— who would dare to go? It makes you miserable to 
see them here through the summer. Just to look at them makes 
you miserable. Look at the flies! And in a while, when the 
weather gets really hot, there'll be mosquitoes too. You just have 
to watch the poor beasts suffer under your eyes, it's the truth!" 
The old man kept nodding his head, as if he felt no end of 
sadness and chagrin. 

40 



''Venerable Sir, you take my three, make up a train of them, 
and take them out beyond the pass to graze. As lively and 
healthy as these animals are, if you keep them here over the 
summer, the flies and mosquitoes will surely eat them half 
alive.'' Happy Boy was almost pleading with him. 

"But who has the money to buy them? These aren't times to 
be raising camels!" 

"You keep them. Give me whatever you want to. I want to 
get them off my hands so I can get back to the city and make my 
living." 

The old man looked Happy Boy over very carefully again. 
He felt sure he wasn't a thief. Then he turned around and 
looked at the camels outside the gate. He really liked them, but 
he knew he would get no good out of buying them. A man who 
loves books thinks of buying every book he sees, and a horse 
raiser can't leave horses alone. A man who has owned three 
trains of camels is just the same. The fellow had said that he 
would sell them cheap: when a man who understands a trade 
gets a chance to close a bargain, he can easily forget whether 
there is any real advantage to him in the purchase. 

"Young fellow, if I had the money to spare, I really would 
keep them." The old man was telling the truth. 

"Just keep them anyhow, and give me whatever you can." 
Happy Boy was so forthright that the old man was a little 
ashamed not to take them. 

"To tell you the truth, thirty years ago those three camels 
would be worth a hundred and fifty liang of silver. In times 
like these, what with all the confusion and the fighting— no, you 
better go somewhere else to cry your wares." 

"They'll cost you whatever you want to pay." Happy Boy 
couldn't think of anything else to say. He knew the old man was 
telling the truth, but he didn't want to wander all over the place 
selling camels. If he couldn't sell them, he might get into some 
trouble for having taken them. 


41 


'Tou look here/' the old man said. 'It's hard for me to offer 
you only twenty or thirty dollars, but it's not easy for me to 
pay that much in times like these—there's nothing to be done." 

Happy Boy's heart grew cold. Twenty or thirty dollars! Tliat 
was a long way from enough to buy a rickshaw with, but for one 
thing he wanted to sell the animals quickly and get it over with, 
and for another he didn't think he could easily find another 
person who wanted to buy them. 

''Venerable Sir, give me whatever you can." 

"What kind of work do you do, young fellow? I can see that 
this isn't your trade." 

Happy Boy told him the truth. 

"Oh. You risked your life for these animals." The old man 
felt very sympathetic toward Happy Boy, and relieved at the 
same time. These camels hadn't been stolen, though there 
wasn't much difference between stealing them and taking them 
the way Happy Boy had. After all, there was a troop of soldiers 
in between. Once the havoc of war had passed over a place, 
none of the old rules held. 

"We'll do this, young fellow. I'll give you thirty-five dollars. 
And if I tell you that's not getting them cheap. I'm a dog. And 
if I could pay you one dollar more for them, I'd also be a dog. 
I'm over sixty years old. What else do you want me to say?" 

Happy Boy did not know what to do. In the past he had 
been very tight with money. Now, after having been so many 
days with the soldiers, suddenly to hear anyone talking as 
honestly and sympathetically as this old man did made him 
ashamed to bargain any more. Moreover, actually to have thirty- 
five dollars in his hand was more dependable than ten thousand 
in his dreams, even though thirty-five dollars seemed a small 
amount for which to have risked his life. If you spoke of the 
camels— three big, live camels could never be worth only thirty- 
five dollars. But what could he do? 

"The camels are yours, Venerable Sir. There's only one thing 



more Fd like to ask of you— give me a shirt and a little some- 
thing to eat/' 

can do that/' 

Happy Boy drank a long draught of water, took his thirty-five 
bright, new dollars and two cakes of cornmeal bread, put on a 
worn-out white shirt that only came down to his stomach, and 
started off to reach the city in a single stretch. 



APPY BOY lay for three days in a little inn in the tovm 
vcalled Seas' Domain, to the west of Peking. His body 
would suddenly become hot and then as suddenly cold again; 
his mind was confused and his gums were covered vwth blisters. 
He didn't want to eat anything, but only to drink water. After 
three days of fasting his fever subsided, leaving his body as soft 
and weak as taffy. At times during those three days, people must 
have heard Happy Boy talking in his sleep or in delirium about 
his relation to the three camels, because when he came to he 
already had the name ''Happy Boy Camel." 

From the time that he had first come to Peking he had been 
known as "Happy Boy," as if originally he had never had a 
surname. Now, with Camel added to his name, people cared less 
than ever to inquire what his surname was. He himself didn't 
care whether he had a last name or not. But to have sold three 
great big animals for such a trifling sum of money, and to have 
had a new nickname tacked to him as well, seemed to be a poor 
trade altogether. 


43 


He had hardly struggled to his feet when he thought of 
going out to look around. He wouldn't have believed it possible 
that his legs could become so weak. When he got to the door 
of the little inn he had to sit down on the ground, and he stayed 
squatting there stupidly for a long while, his forehead covered 
with cold sweat. "V^en tlie dizziness had passed, he opened his 
eyes again. His stomach made a noise and he began to feel a little 
hungry. Slowly he raised himself up and dragged himself along 
to a little stand where a peddler was selling steamed cakes. He 
bought a bowl of them and sat down again on the ground. The 
first mouthful of the soup made him sick and he held it in his 
mouth a long while before he could force himself to swallow it. 
He didn't feel like taking any more, but in a moment the hot 
liquid made its way like a warm thread through his insides to 
the bottom of his stomach, and he belched a couple of times. 
He knew from that familiar sound that he had come back to life. 

With a little food in his stomach, he had time to look him- 
self over. His body was much thinner; the ragged old trousers 
he was wearing were already as dirty as they could ever become. 
He felt too lazy to move but he had to restore as quickly as he 
could his cleanliness and tidiness: he could not go into Peking 
looking like a shoddy old ghost. The only thing was that if he 
wanted to be clean and tidy he'd have to spend money. Getting 
his head shaved, changing his clotlies, buying shoes and stock- 
ings~all these things would mean money. He shouldn't touch 
the thirty-five dollars he had in his pocket: even without spend- 
ing a penny of it, it was still a long way from enough to buy a 
rickshaw with. But he felt sorry for himself. Although the 
soldiers had not held him for long, it all seemed like a night- 
mare now— a nightmare that had made him much older, as if he 
had suddenly and in one breath added many years to his age. 

All told, it cost him two dollars and twenty cents to get 
fitted out again. A jacket and trousers of unbleached coarse 
cotton cloth cost one dollar; a pair of black cloth shoes were 

44 



eighty cents; cheaply woven socks were fifty cents; and there 
was also the big-brimmed straw hat that cost twenty-five cents. 
In exchange for the rags that he had taken off, he got two 
packages of matches. 

With the matches under his arm, he walked along the road 
toward the Western Gate of Forthrightness. He hadn't gone 
very far when he began to feel weak and tired, but he gritted 
his teeth. He couldn't take a rickshaw. However he looked at 
it, he just couldn't do it. If he couldn't walk to Peking, Happy 
Boy would be finished; the one thing he believed in was his own 
strength, no matter what kind of sickness he might be suffering 
from. His legs wobbling uncertainly, he stumbled on, walking 
faster as he went. In one stretch he walked to the entrance of 
the West Gate, Seeing there the rush of horses and men, hear- 
ing the medley of ear-piercing noises, smelling the stench of the 
dry dust of the road, treading that stinking dust himself. Happy 
Boy felt like getting down in the street and kissing the earth, 
the earth that he loved, the earth that sustained him! He had 
no mother or father, no relatives at all: the only friend he had 
was this ancient city. It gave him everything. If he had to starve 
in it, he would stilllove it mord than the village from which he 
had come. Here there were things to see and things to hear; 
there were colors everywhere, sounds everywhere. If you had 
only your own strength to sell, there was still more money than 
you could count to be got for it here; here were ten thousand 
good things, more kinds of food than you could eat and more 
clothes than you could wear. If you begged for your food on the 
street, you could still get soup with meat in it, while the best 
that the village had was cornmeal bread. 

When he got to the Bridge of High Brightness, he sat down 
on the river bank and wept. 

In the slanting rays of the sun the movement of people and 
carts across the bridge seemed unusually hurried, as if they all 
felt disquieted by the imminence of evening, but Happy Boy was 



in no haste to go on. Everything about him was familiar to him 
and part of him: he would have been happy even to die here. 

Wien he had rested for a long time, he went up to the head 
of the bridge and got himself a bowl of cooked bean curd. The 
vinegar, soybean sauce, pepper, and tips of leeks with which the 
hot white dish was seasoned gave off an order so fragrant that 
Happy Boy held the bowl cupped in his trembling hands, al- 
most afraid to breathe, looking at the deep green of the leeks. 
He drank a mouthful from tlie bowl, the warm food opening a 
path down his gullet to his stomach. When he had finished the 
bowl he was perspiring, and with his eyes half closed he ordered 
another bowl. 

Standing up, he felt like a man again. The sun was at its low- 
est in the west, tingeing the river water with crimson. Rubbing 
the scar on his face, the money in his belt, and looking again at 
the evening light slanting against the tall watchtower at the 
corner of the city wall, he forgot his illness and everything else. 
It was as if he had reached his heart's desire in returning to 
Peking. 

The gateway was crowded with all kinds of vehicles and all 
sorts of people. No one dared push on too fast, but everyone was 
in a hurry to get through. The cries, the cracking of whips, the 
cursing, the honking of horns, the tinkling of bells, die laughter, 
all mingled together to form a single medley of sound that 
seemed as if it came from an immense amplifier. Happy Boy 
planted his big feet first in one place and then another, using 
both hands to ward off the mob around him, like a long thin"^ 
fish leaping from wave to wave, finally working his way through 
the gate and into the city. Before him was the plaza of the New 
Street's Mouth. The road was so straight and broad it made his 
eyes shine like the tile roofs of the houses in the twilight. He 
bowed his head. 

His bedding was still in the Human Harmony Rickshaw 
Shed on West Gate Road, so he headed in that direction. Be- 



cause he didn't have a wife, he lived in the rickshaw shed, 
although he hadn't always pulled rented rickshaws. The man- 
ager of the Human Harmony, the Fourth Master Liu, was 
nearly seventy years of age. The man himself was old, but in his 
heart he was still full of tricks. In his youth he had been a 
treasury guard, had run a gambling house, had bought and sold 
women, and had lent out money at the devil's own rates. Fourth 
Master Liu had all of the endowments and qualifications neces- 
sary to these occupations-— -the strength, the shrewdness, the 
trickiness, the social knack, and the name. Before the fall of the 
Ch'ing Dynasty he had taken part in mob fighting, had stolen 
the daughters of good families, had knelt on chains before the 
magistrate. On chains he had not even knitted his brows, nor 
once called for mercy. Tlie officer was taken in by his fortitude, 
and accepted his innocence: from this he had gained his name. 

As it happened, the republic had been established by the 
time he got out of jail; the power of the police was getting 
stronger all the while, and Fourth Master Liu could see that the 
time of the local heroes had passed. So he had opened a rick- 
shaw shed. A local bully by profession, he knew how to deal 
with poor people — when to be hard, when to let up a little. And 
he had a flair for using people. The rickshaw pullers were afraid 
to talk back to him: all he had to do was. to glare at them and 
laugh, and they could only stand stupid before him. It was as if 
he had one foot in heaven and the other in hell— it was best to 
do what he told you to. 

He now had sixty-odd rickshaws, the oldest of them at least 
seven parts new. He wouldn't keep broken-down carts around. 
The rent he charged was higher than other sheds but at each of 
the three yearly festivals he allowed two more days rent-free 
than did the others. There was a place to live in the Human 
Harmony Yard, and unmarried rickshaw boys could stay there 
rent-free. But you had to pay your rickshaw rent: if you couldn't 
settle your accounts and tried to hang on anyway, he would keep 


your bedding and throw you out of the door like a broken tea- 
pot. But if any of the men had some pressing trouble, or some 
sudden illness, they had only to tell him: he would not hesitate 
but would go through fire or water to help them. Such was his 
name and fame. 



Fourth Master Liu looked like a tiger. Nearly seventy, his 
back was unbent and he could still lift up his feet and walk ten 
or twenty li. With big round eyes, heavy lips and prominent 
teeth, he had only to open his mouth to look like a beast of prey 
ready to spring. He was as tall as Happy Boy, shaved his head 
till it shone, and had neither beard nor mustache. He accepted 
the role of tiger, regretting simply that he had no son but only 
one daughter, of thirty-seven or eight. Everyone who knew 
Fourth Master Liu was certain to know Tiger Girl. She had the 
head and face of a tigress and on that account frightened the 
men away. She was a good hand at helping her father in his 
business, but nobody dared marry her. She was the same as a 
man in everything: even when it came to cursing a person, she 
was just as fluent and sometimes had more ways of expressing 
herself.^ ^ 


Fourth Master Liu took care of outside matters, and Tiger 
Girl looked after things inside the house. Between father and 
daughter, the Human Harmony Rickshaw Shed was so well 
managed that it was as firm and tidy as a steel box, and came to 
be the most influential of its kind. The methods of Liu and his 
daughter were frequently on the tongues of rickshaw owners and 
pullers alike, as scholars quote the classics to prove their point. 

Before he had bought his own rickshaw Happy Boy had 
rented one from Human Harmony, and the money he saved 
he had given to Fourth Master Liu to keep for him. When he 
had collected enough, he had asked for it back and had bought 
his new rickshaw. 

He pulled it right back to Human Harmony. "'Fourth 
Master Liu, look at my new rickshawr' Happy Boy said. The old 
man looked at it and nodded his head. "It's good enough." 

"But Fve still got to live here. When I get a job by the 
month, Fll go to live in the house where Fm hired," Happy Boy 
proudly added. 

"All right." Fourth Master Liu nodded his head again. 

Thereafter, when Happy Boy was hired by the month he 
lived at the house of his master, and when he lost the job and 
had to pick up fares on the streets he lived at Human Harmony. 

In the eyes of the other rickshaw men, it was a rare thing to 
be able to live in Human Harmony without renting one of its 
rickshaws. Because of this, some people guessed that Happy Boy 
was a relative of Old Man Liu; other people went so far as to 
say that the old man liked Happy Boy and planned to provide 
his daughter with a bridegroom who could move into the house 
of his father-in-law. Although this kind of guessing was a little 
envious, still if by chance it turned out to be true, then when 
Fourth Master Liu died Human Harmony would certainly be 
Happy Boy's. As to this they could only make wild guesses, but 
they didn't dare say anything nasty in Happy Boy's hearing. 

As a matter of fact. Old Man Liu's good treatment of Happy 

49 



Boy was on another account. Happy Boy was this kind of a 
person— in a new environment he could still maintain his old 
habits. If for instance he had become a soldier, it would have 
been impossible for him, as soon as he had put on his uniform, 
to go about pretending to be stupid when he wasn't stupid, and 
to cheat the populace. In the rickshaw shed he was never idle. 
As soon as he had stopped sweating from his day's work, he 
would find something to do. He would go polish up his rick- 
shaw, put air in the tires, put the canvas rain cover out in the 
sun to dry— it wasn't necessary for anyone to tell him to do 
these things: he did them because he wanted to do them him- 
self, and was absorbed in the task, as if it were the greatest 
pleasure for him. There were usually on an average about twenty 
rickshaw men living in the shed at any one time. When they 
had put tiieir rickshaws up, they either sat around talking or 
went sound asleep. Only Happy Boy's hands were not idle. 

In the beginning everybody thought he was trying to show 
Fourth Master Liu how diligent he was, and was running back 
and forth like a trained dog just to curry favor; after a few days 
they could see that he had no idea at all of attempting to make 
a good impression. He was so forthright and natural there was 
nothing they could say. 

Old Man Liu never said a word in praise of him, and never 
wasted a glance on him, but in his heart he kept a clear account. 
He knew that Happy Boy was a good worker, and he was glad to 
have him live in the shed even if he didn't rent one of its rick- 
shaws. Not to mention anything else, while he stayed there, the 
yard would always be swept as clean as could be. 

And Tiger Girl liked this big gawky boy even more than her 
father did. When she said anything. Happy Boy listened very 
carefully and did not talk back; the other rickshaw men, because 
they had suffered as much bitterness as they could endure, were 
always irritable and unreasonable in their speech. She wasn't in 
the least afraid of them, but at the same time she didn't like to 



pay much attention to them, and so she saved most of what she 
wanted to say for Happy Boy's ears. Whenever he got a job in a 
private household it was as if the Liu family, father and daugh- 
ter, had lost a friend, and when he would come back again it 
would always appear that even in the old man's cursing he was 
happier and kinder. 

Happy Boy, his two packages of matches in his hands, went 
into the Human Harmony Shed. It was still not dark, and the 
Lius were just eating dinner. When Tiger Girl saw him come 
in, she put down her chopsticks. 

“Happy Boy! Did a wolf run off with you or did you go to 
Africa to work in the gold mines?" 

“Hm." Happy Boy only grunted. 

Old Man Liu's large round eyes looked him over in silence. 

With his new straw hat still on his head. Happy Boy sat 
down facing them. 

“If you haven't eaten yet, have dinner with us," Tiger Girl 
said, as if she were welcoming a close friend. Happy Boy didn't 
move. He suddenly felt an intimacy with them in his heart that 
he could not express. For a long time he had taken the Human 
Harmony Rickshaw Shed to be his home. When he worked 
for private families he was always changing employers; when he 
was picking up fares on the streets he had a different person in 
his rickshaw every few minutes: this was the only place where 
he had always been permitted to stay on, where there was always 
someone to talk to. Now, when he had just escaped with his life 
and had come back to the people he knew, they even asked him 
to have dinner with them. He was almost suspicious that they 
meant to cheat him, but at the same time he was almost in tears. 

“I just ate two bowls of bean curd," he answered, refusing 
politely. 

Fourth Master Liu's large eyes were still on Happy Boy. 
“What have you been doing? Where's your rickshaw?" 


51 



''Ricfehaw?'' Happy Boy spat on the ground. 

"'First come over here and eat a bowl of rice! It can't poison 
you! What use are two bowls of beancurd?" Tiger Girl pulled 
him over to the table, with all the solicitude that the elder 
brother's wife might have for her young brother-in-law. 

Before he touched his rice bowl Happy Boy took out his 
money. "Fourth Master, you keep this for me-— thirty dollars." 
The change he put back in his pocket. 

The lift of Fourth Master's eyebrows asked more plainly 
than words, "Where did it come from?" 

While Happy Boy ate he told the story of his capture by the 
soldiers. 

Fourth Master heard him out, shaking his head the while. 
"FIm. You're a foolish young fellow. You could have brought 
the camels into the city and sold them to a slaughter house and 
got more than ten dollars apiece for them. If it was winter time 
and their hair was full, the three of them would be worth sixty 
dollars." 

Happy Boy had early regretted his bargain, and when he 
heard this he felt worse than ever. But when he thought about 
taking those three living animals to be slaughtered, it seemed 
wrong. He and the camels had escaped together, and they all 
had an equal right to live. Although he said nothing, his heart 
became easier again. 

Tiger Girl cleared away the dishes, while Fourth Master sat 
with his head back, as if he were thinking of something. Sud- 
denly he laughed, showing his two big front teeth. "Foolish 
One! You say you were sick at Seas' Domain. Why didn't you 
come straight back by the Yellow Village road?" 

"I went the long way round by the Western Hills. I didn't 
take the main road for fear of getting caught. And suppose by 
some chance the villagers had figured the thing out and taken 
me for an army deserter?" 

Fourth Master Liu smiled, the pupils of his eyes turning 

52 


inward to liis heart. He had been afraid that Happy Boy's words 
hid some evil act: suppose that, on the one chance in ten thou- 
sand, this money was stolen? It would not do for him to keep 
stolen goods for another. In his own youth he had done every 
lawless thing there was to do, and now that he was holding him- 
self out as having reformed he could not be too careful. And he 
knew how to be careful. Happy Boy's story had had only this 
one hole in it, and now that he had explained it without turning 
a hair the old man was easier in his heart. 

“What do you want done with it?" he asked, pointing to the 
money. 

“Whatever you say." 

“Do you want to buy another rickshaw?" The old man's teeth 
showed again as if to ask, “You buy your own rickshaw, and still 
want to live here free!" 

“It's not enough. If I buy one I want a new one." Happy Boy 
hadn't noticed Fourth Master's teeth—he was looking only into 
his own heart. 

“I'll lend you money — at one per cent interest. For other 
people, it's two per cent." 

Happy Boy shook his head. 

“Buying on installments from a rickshaw store wouldn't be as 
good as paying me one per cent." 

“I'm not going to buy by the month either," Happy Boy said 
absent-mindedly. “I'll save up gradually and when I've got 
enough I'll pay cash for what I want." 

The old man stared at Happy Boy as if he were looking at 
some strange hieroglyph— -a thing you disliked but couldn't get 
angry at. After a while he picked up the money. “Thirty dollars 
— don't get mixed up about that!" 

“Right." Happy Boy got up. “I'm going to bed. I'll make you 
a present of a package of matches." He put one of the packages 
on the table, and stood silent for a while, staring out at nothing. 
“Don't tell anyone else about the camels." 




0|N real truth, Liu did not spread the story of the camels 
abroad for Happy Boy, but it very quicHy reached the city 
from Seas' Domain. Formerly, although they could not name 
his short-coming, Happy Boy's diffidence had made the others 
feel that he was not very friendly, not one of the crowd, and of 
a difficult nature. After this story got around, they began to 
take a different view of him for all the fact that he was stilj not 
cordial and kept on grimly at his job. Some said he had picked 
up a gold watch; some said he had got hold of three hundred 
dollars; but those who were confident that they had tlie most de- 
tailed and reliable information nodded their heads and said he 
had brought back thirty camels from the Western Hills. 

The stories were different but they all amounted to the same 
thing: Happy Boy had come into easy money. And no matter 
how queer a fellow might be, when he came into easy money 
everybody treated him with respect. Since making money by the 
sale of your strength was so hard, everybody dreamed of coming 
by a little easy money. Because it was a thing that one could 
hardly hope to meet with in a thousand years, it was certain 
that a person who had that kind of luck was not like other 
people but was possessed of great good fortune and a great 
destiny. It was thus that Happy Boy's silence and his solitary 
habits came in a single change of view to be the quiet manner 
which characterizes great personages. It was proper that he 
should be that way, and by rights they should seek him out 
instead of his coming to them. 

"'All right now. Happy Boy. Won't you tell us how you got 
54 



rich?"' He heard things like that every day. He would say noth- 
ing at all until he was pressed to the limit and then^ with the 
scar on his face showing a livid red, he would reply, "'Get rich? 
Your mother's! Where did my rickshaw go to?" 

Yes, that was true. Where was his rickshaw? Everybody 
began to wonder. But to worry about another's misfortune is 
never as pleasant as to be happy about his good fortune, and 
they therefore soon forgot about the rickshaw and thought 
about his good luck. After a few days, when they saw that 
Happy Boy was still pulling a rickshaw, and had neither changed 
his trade nor bought himself a house or a piece of land, the 
crowd grew cooler toward him, and when his name was men- 
tioned no one any longer asked why he should so particularly be 
called "Camel"; it was as if that were originally his name. 

Happy Boy himself, though, had not lightly forgotten the 
affair. He wished with all his heart tliat he might buy a new 
rickshaw right away. The more anxious he became, the more he 
thought of his first rickshaw. From dawn until dark every day he 
bore with his weariness and his wrongs to carry on his work. But 
even while he was working he would think of his experience; as 
soon as it came to his mind he would feel as if the orifices of his 
heart had been stopped up, and, without wanting to, he would 
be asking himself what good it did him to be trying to improve 
himself. The world did not deal any more fairly with you be- 
cause you worked hard and tried to get ahead: if it did, on what 
grounds would his rickshaw have been taken away from him? 
Suppose he could make enough right away to buy another one, 
how was he to know that he might not again meet with the 
same experience? 

He felt that the past was, like a nightmare that left him 
afraid to think what hope the future might hold for him. Some- 
times when he saw the others drinking, smoking, or running 
about to whorehouses, he almost admired them. Since trying to 
get ahead was useless, why not have a good time now? They 



were right. Even if he didn^t go to whorehouses^ he ought to 
drinl a cup or so of wine occasionally to make himself feel 
easier. Cigarettes and wine had now for him a special attraction. 
They didn't cost much money and they would certainly be a 
consolation to him and make it possible for him to carry on 
along his bitter road. At the same time he would be able to for- 
get the pain of his past. 

For all that, he still didn't dare take up either cigarettes or 
wine. If he could save an extra copper, he absolutely had to save 
it: he had to do that or he would never be able to buy himself 
another rickshaw. Granted that if he bought it today he might 
lose it tomorrow, he would still go out and buy it. This was his 
will, his hope, even his religion. There was no doubt about it: if 
he could not pull his own rickshaw he might as well be dead. 
He did not think of becoming an ofEcial, or of becoming rich, 
or of buying property. The only thing he was able to do was to 
pull a rickshaw; his most dependable hope was to buy a rick- 
shaw; if he could not buy one, he would not be able to face him- 
self. All day, every day, he turned this thing over in his mind, 
counting and re-counting his money. He felt that if he were to 
get up one morning forgetful of this purpose, he would then 
have forgotten himself and would have become only an animal 
able to run about the streets, without any hope of becoming 
anything else or anything like a human being. 

No matter how good the rickshaw, if it was rented, he could 
not put his heart into pulling it. It was as unnatural as if he were 
carrying a big stone on his back. Even with a rented rickshaw he 
didn't lie down on the job; he kept it always perfectly clean and 
was always careful to avoid recklessly running into things on the 
street. But this was only being careful and cautious; it was not 
out of joy that he did it. 

Yes. To keep your own rickshaw in order was like counting 
your own money—it was a real pleasure. He would have to 
keep on without smoking or drinking wine; he might as well not 
56 



even drink good tea. Rickshaw pullers of his respectability were 
accustomed after a fast run to go into a teahouse and drink a cup 
of tea made from leaves that cost ten coppers a packet, with two 
lumps of white sugar to it, in order to catch their breath and 
lessen the heat within them. When Happy Boy had run until 
the sweat was dripping even from the lobes of his ears, and there 
was an acrid feeling in his breast, he would want very much to ■ 
do the same thing. This certainly was not from habit, or from a 
desire to put up a front, but rather because one or two such cups 
of tea were truly necessary to press down the bitterness inside 
him. But he would only think about it, and would still drink tea 
made from the sweepings of tea leaves that cost only a copper 
a packet. 

There were times when he wanted to curse himself. Why 
should he treat himself so badly? But how could a rickshaw man 
expect to save money if he didn't do it this way? He made up his 
mind grimly: he would buy the rickshaw first, then see about 
the rest. Wlien he had his rickshaw it would make up for every- 
thing else. 

So deadly tight about spending money. Happy Boy was even 
more grasping about earning it. When he was not hired by a 
private family by the month, he worked the whole day, taking 
his rickshaw out early and bringing it in late. If he had not made 
a certain sum of money he would not stop for the day, no matter 
what time it was or how tired his legs were. Sometimes he went 
right on working a whole day and night together. 

In the old days he had been unwilling to try to take cus- 
tomers from other pullers, especially if they were old men or 
young boys, soldiers who were already beaten. He had always 
felt that, with his height and strength and his well-kept rick- 
shaw, if he condescended to take their fares away from them, 
they wouldn't have a chance. Now he didn't pay much attention 
to all that. He thought only of money: each copper more was 
another copper, and he didn't care whether the business was 

.. --ST:; 



bitter or sweet, nor with whom he contested for it. He cared 
only to get fares, and thought of nothing else, like a wild animal 
mad with hunger. When he got a fare he raced away, his heart 
easier, as though the only hope he had of buying his rickshaw 
was to keep his feet constantly in motion. 

On one count or another. Happy Boy Camel's reputation 
was a long way from being what it had been before the “Camel" 
was added to his name. Many a time when he stole someone 
else's fare and started off, the other man's curses would follow; 
he would not reply but would keep his head down and fly on, 
thinking in his heart, “If it weren't that I wanted to buy a rick- 
shaw, I could never be so shameless!" It was as if he sought to 
beg the forgiveness of the others with this sentence but was un- 
willing to say it to them. 

It made him feel even worse to remember with what respect 
they had treated him when he first returned from the mountains, 
and to compare that with their present contempt of him. In the 
teahouses he was left alone with his pot of tea, and at the rick- 
shaw stands he was left alone to count his coppers. He used all 
his strength to keep down his rage: although he was not afraid 
of a fight, he didn't want one. Nor was the crowd afraid to fight, 
but to fight with Happy Boy was something to think carefully 
about. No one of them was his equal, and it wouldn't be very 
honorable for them all to fight one man. He had to force him- 
self not to lose his temper: he could think of no other plan but 
to bear it for the while and wait until he could buy his rickshaw, 
when it would be easier to handle things. He would not then 
have to worry every day about the rent of his rickshaw and could 
act more largely and would not be offending people by taking 
their fares away from them. With this thought in mind he 
would look the others in the eye, as if to say to them, “We'll 
see how it turns out." 

From the standpoint of his own health, he should not have 
gone so desperately about his work. After he had escaped and 

58 'A:,'':. 


got back to the city, he had not waited to recover completely 
from his illness but had begun pulling a rickshaw at once. Al- 
though he would not admit weakness, he frequently felt com- 
pletely exhausted. Exhausted, he yet did not dare to rest and 
thought always that to work up a sweat by running would lessen 
his feeling of weariness. As for food, he didn't dare go hungry 
but at the same time he didn't dare eat well. He could see that 
he was much thinner, although he was as tall as ever and his 
muscles just as hard. This latter made him easier in his heart. 
He always thought that because he was taller and bigger than 
other people he could certainly stand more than other people. 
It seemed that he had never thought that the bigger he was the 
more nourishment he would require. 

Tiger Girl had already remonstrated with him several times. 
''You there, fellow! If you keep on like this, it'll be your own 
affair if you begin spitting blood." 

He knew very clearly that this was well-meant, but because 
things were not going as he wished, and he was undernourished, 
his temper had become brittle. He would glare at her a little 
and ask: "If I don't do this, when will I be able to buy a rick- 
shaw?" 

If anyone else had looked at her like that Tiger Girl would 
at the very least have cursed him for half a day, but toward 
Happy Boy she was truly one hundred and one points polite and 
solicitous. With only a suggestion of a sneer on her lips, she 
would say: 

"Buying a rickshaw is something that you go about more 
slowly. You think you're made of steel. You ought to take a 
good rest for two or three days!" Seeing that Happy Boy paid 
no attention to this, she would add: "All right, you've got your 
same old idea. If you die at it, you can't blame me." 

Fourth Master Liu also disapproved a little of Happy Boy. 
Naturally Happy Boy's reckless determination to be out on the 
streets as early as possible and come back as late as he could 



was hard on the rickshaw he hired. Although the arrangement 
was to rent the rickshaws for the whole day^ and the pullers 
could take them out at whatever time they wished^ if everybody 
stuck so doggedly at the task as did Happy Boy^ the rickshaws 
would be all worn out at least six months before their time. No 
matter how strong and firm a thing is, it can't stand constant 
use like that. Besides that, with Happy Boy thinking only of 
making more money by hauling more fares, he didn't have time 
to help out by cleaning rickshaws and so forth, which was an- 
other item of loss. The old man wasn't very happy about that, 
but he didn't say anything. It was a general custom to rent 
rickshaws by the day, without any limit on their hours of use, 
while helping to keep the rickshaws clean and in repair was a 
matter of friendship ratlier' than of obligation. With his name 
and reputation, he couldn't involve himself by speaking to 
Happy Boy about it. All he could do was to show a little of his 
dissatisfaction in the corners of his eyes and keep his lip shut 
tight. 

Sometimes he thought a good deal of throwing Happy Boy 
out, but he'd look at his daughter and wouldn't dare. He didn't 
have the slightest idea of making Happy Boy an expectant for 
the post of son-in-law, but since his daughter was fond of this 
pig-headed youngster it wasn't easy for him to meddle in the 
matter. He had only this one daughter, and it was evident that 
there was no hope of her finding a husband; he could not, then, 
chase away even this friend of hers. 

To tell the truth, Tiger Girl was so useful that he really 
didn't want her to get married. For this selfish idea of his he felt 
a little apologetic toward her and on that account was just a 
little afraid of her. Throughout his life the old man had feared 
nothing in heaven or on earth, only to come in his old age to 
fear his own daughter. In his chagrin he thought of a reason for 
this: as long as he feared some one person, that fact was proof 
that he was not altogether without respect for God or man. Per- 

6o 



haps on this account he would not suffer the retribution which 
overtakes the evil when they are about to die. All righh he him- 
self admitted that he should fear his daughter and that it was 
for that reason he was unwilling to run Happy Boy out. This, 
naturally, was not to say that he would let his daughter make 
a fool of herself and go so far as to marry Happy Boy. No. He 
could see that his daughter was not without ideas of doing just 
that, but Happy Boy hadn't dared try to curry favor with one of 
his betters. 

Well then, he would have to be a little careful, but it was 
not worth making his daughter unhappy about now. 

Happy Boy had not even noticed the old man's attitude. 
He didn't have time for such idle monkey-business. If he thought 
of leaving the Human Harmony Shed, it was not at all because 
of any ill-feeling but simply because he hoped to get a job by the 
month. He was a little fed up with hauling individual fares; 
first, because the others had come to despise him for trying to 
take their fares away from them and, second, because there was 
no certainty as to the amount of his daily income. Today it 
might be a lot, tomorrow only a little: he had no way of telling 
ahead of time how long it would be before he had saved enough 
to buy himself his rickshaw. He wanted to have a sure aim in 
his heart; he wouldn't be afraid if the sum he could save were 
small, just so he could depend on saving a certain amount each 
month. Only then would he really have a chance and his mind 
be at ease. 

Finally he found work by the month. Huh! It was no more 
to his liking than hauling individual fares on the streets had 
been. This time it was with the Yang family. Mr. Yang was a 
Shanghai man, his principal wife was from Tientsin and his 
second wife from Soochow. With these two \vives, and the 
mixture of southern singsong and northern shrillness, there were 
more children than anyone cared to count. 

The first day he went to work Happy Boy missed fainting 

6i 



only by a little. Very early in the morning the principal wife 
went to the market to buy provisions. When he had hauled her 
back^ he took the young masters and their little sisters to their 
various schools. Some went to middle school, some to primary 
school, and some to kindergarten. The schools they went to 
were all different, their ages were all different, they didn't look 
alike, but they were all equally disgusting. This was especially 
true when they were riding in his rickshaw: the best behaved of 
the lot had two more hands than any monkey. When he had 
got all the children delivered to their schools, he would have 
to take Mr, Yang to his government office, whence he'd hurry 
back to haul the No. 2 wife to the Market of Eastern Peace or 
to see relatives or friends. By the time he got back he would have 
to go after the little scholars to bring them home to eat lunch. 
When they were finished he'd take them back to school. He 
thought he could get something to eat himself when he'd done 
with that, but the No. 1 wife yelled at him in loud Tientsinese 
to go draw some water from the well. The sweet water for drink- 
ing was brought to the Yang household but the bitter water for 
washing had to be carried in from the well by the rickshaw boy. 
This work was outside the terms of his contract, but in order 
to make out with his work Happy Boy didn't dare to argue, and 
filled the cistern without a word. Just as he finished drawing 
water and was about to go get his rice bowl, the No. 2 wife sent 
him out to buy something. 

The No. 1 and No. 2 wives had never agreed about anything, 
but in the management of the home they followed the same 
policy, one article of that policy being never to let the servants 
be idle and anotlier was their unwillingness to see the servants 
eat. Happy Boy didn't know that, and thought it was only by 
accident that his first day with the family should be such a busy 
one. So he didn't say anything about that either, and spent his 
own money to buy a couple of fried cakes. He loved money as 
his own life, but to keep his job he had to make sacrifices. 

62 ■ ■ 



When he got back from making the purchases, the No. i 
wife told him to sweep the courtyard. The master and the first 
and second wives in the Yang family dressed themselves up very 
handsomely when they went out, but their rooms and the 
courtyard were all as dirty as garbage heaps. The yard made 
Happy Boy sick to look at it, so there was nothing for it but he 
should clean it up, forgetting that a rickshaw boy is not also a 
house coolie. When it was spick and span the No. 2 wife told 
him to clean up the rooms also. Happy Boy didn't argue, but 
the thing that surprised him was, considering how good-looking 
and smart-appearing the two women were, how their rooms 
could be such a dirty mess you couldn't put your foot down in 
them. 

The rooms were hardly straightened out when the No. 2 
wife handed a sticky little devil of a one-year-old to him to hold. 
There was nothing he could do. Any kind of work where you 
sold your strength was in his line, but he'd never held a baby 
before. He held this little master in both hands: if he didn't 
hold him firmly enough he was afraid he might drop him; if 
he held him tight, he was afraid he might hurt him. Sweat came 
out all over Happy Boy. He wanted to hand this little jewel 
over to the amah Chang, a big-footed woman from north of 
the Yangtze, but when he found her, she only cursed him. 

The Yang family generally changed its servants every three 
or four days, and both the master and his wives regarded them 
as personal slaves. If they didn't work the poor people to death 
they didn't feel that they'd got their money's worth. Only the 
amah Chang could stay with them, and she'd been around for 
five or six years. The first reason for that was that she dared 
curse them all out. It didn't matter whether it was the master 
or one of the wives; if they got on her nerves, they got a cursing. 
With the poisonous sharpness of the master's tongue, the power 
of the first wife's Tientsin drawl, and the fluency of the second 
wife's Soochow singsong, the three together had never before 



met their match, but when they ran into the amah Chang's 
toughness, they felt as if they had found someone who could 
return their compliments: it was like a brave man meeting an- 
other of great courage. For that reason they appreciated her and 
made her a sort of bodyguard. 

Happy Boy was born in a northern village where the one 
thing most avoided was this casual cursing. However, he didn't 
dare strike Chang Ma, because a true son of Han never lifts his 
hand against a woman. Nor did he want to answer her: he only 
glared at her, and Chang Ma didn't utter another sound, as if 
she could sense the danger. 

Just then the first wife called to Happy Boy to go fetch the 
children back from school, and in great haste he delivered the 
dirty little brat in his arms back to the second wife. That lady 
thought he was purposely making a show of contempt for her, 
and as quickly as she could get her mouth open she started 
cursing him to a many-colored melon. 

But to begin with, the first wife had not been content to 
see Happy Boy holding the second wife's baby, and when she 
heard her cursing him, she too opened her highly polished 
throat to curse, and the person she was cursing was also Happy 
Boy. He had become a target for everybody's cursing. In the 
greatest haste he got between the shafts of his riekshaw and 
started off: it was as if he had even forgotten to be angry. Be- 
cause he had never experienced anything like this before, now 
that suddenly it had hit him in the head, he was, to put it 
bluntly, a little dizzy. 

One by one he brought the children all back to the house. 
The courtyard was more noisy than a market place. With three 
W'omen cursing at the top of their lungs and a mob of children 
wailing, it was more confused than Theatre Street at night when 
all the plays were over; and besides, it was a confusion without 
any reason. 

Fortunately Happy Boy still had to go get Mr. Yang, so he 

64 




could run out again right away. The cries of people and the 
whinnying of horses on the street seemed easier to bear than the 
commotion inside the house. 

He kept running back and forth right up till midnight before 
he found a moment to catch his breath. Not only did he feel 
completely worn out, with a buzzing noise in his head, but he 
could still hear the master and his two wives cursing him, as if 
he had three separate and different victrolas all playing crazily 
at the same time inside his heart, making him tenibly uneasy, 
although in reality the whole Yang family, old and young, had 
already gone to sleep. He had no time to think of anything but 
sleep. But no sooner had he entered this narrow little room of 
his than his heart grew cold, and he was no longer sleepy. 

It was the room next to the front gate, and had been divided 
into two by a panel in the middle. Chang Ma slept on one side 
and he slept on the other. There was no light except that which 


by good fortune came in through a little two-foot window from 
the street lamp outside. The room was damp and foub with a 
layer of dust as thick as a copper penny on the floor. A board lay 
across trestles next to the wall^ and there was nothing else. Feel- 
ing the board. Happy Boy discovered that if he put his head 
down he would have to lie with his feet propped up on the 
wall; and if he put his feet down he'd have to sleep in a half- 
sitting posture. He wouldn't be able to sleep curved like a bent 
bow, so after thinking a long time he finally arranged the board 
crosswise of the room. That way, with his feet in one corner of 
the room and his head in the other, he could put his head down, 
though his feet hung out over the end of the board. But he'd 
have to put up with that for the night. 

He brought his bedding in and, spreading it out any old way 
over the board, lay down. He couldn't get used to his feet hang- 
ing out in the air, and he couldn't go to sleep. Forcing himself 
to close his eyes, he tried to console himself. ''Go to sleep— to- 
morrow you've got to get up early. You've suffered everything, 
why should you not accept this? Don't think of the fact that 
the food is bad and the work too hard. Maybe they are always 
inviting guests to play mahchiang, and go out to dinner a lot. 
What did you come out for? Wasn't it for money? If only the 
money comes in, you'll have to be able to put up with any- 
thing." 

These thoughts made his heart much more comfortable, and 
the room no longer seemed to have so strong a stench. Slowly he 
drifted off into a dream. In it he felt confusedly that there was 
a stinkbug nearby which he couldn't be bothered with trying 
to catch. 

By the time two or three more days had passed, Happy Boy's 
heart was as cold as it could become. But on the fourth day 
there were women guests and Chang Ma hurried to set up the 
card tables. It was as if a spring breeze had blown across a little 
lake that had been frozen solid. 



Wlien tlie two wives started playing mahchiang, they handed 
all their children over to the servants. Since Chang Ma had to 
serve the guests with cigarettes, tea, and hot napHns, the whole 
crowd of little monkeys were all turned over to Happy Boy's 
guardianship. He detested these animals, but when he stole a 
glance into the room where the grownups were playing, it 
looked to him that the first wife was being very conscientious 
about putting aside a part of the winnings after each hand for 
the "'head money" to be given the servants. In his heart he 
thought, "You mustn't take notice of the old lady's toughness: 
maybe she's not dumb at all, and knows how to take advantage 
of an opportunity like this to give her servants a chance to make 
a little extra money." He was especially patient with the little 
monkeys; on account of this "head money" it was up to him to 
treat this bunch of bastards like little masters and young ladies. 

When the mahchiang was over, the first wife asked him to 
haul the guests back to their homes. The two wanted to leave 
at once, so they had to hire another rickshaw. Happy Boy called 
one over. The first wife felt around her girdle hunting for money 
to pay the fare for her guest. The guest politely refused several 
times, but the first wife cried out as if her life were at stake: 
"What's this? Sister! You come to my house and won't even 
let me pay for the rickshaw home! Take the rickshaw, please!" 

It was only then that she managed to find a ten-cent piece. 
When she handed over the ten cents. Happy Boy could see 
very clearly tliat her hand shook a little. 

When he had come back from taking the guests home, and 
was helping Chang Ma put away the card tables and straighten 
things up, he took a look at the first wife. She told Chang Ma to 
go out and get her some hot water for tea, and when the amah 
had left the room she took out a ten-cent piece and handed it 
to Happy Boy. 

"Take this, and stop glaring at me." 

Happy Boy's face suddenly went purple. He stood up so 



straiglit it seemed as if his head would strike the ceiling, and 
threw the ten cents in her face. 

"'Give me my four days" wagesl"" 

"'Whafs the matter?"" she asked, looking at Happy Boy. Then 
without saying anything more she gave him his wages. He had 
hardly got out of the front gate with his bedding in his rickshaw 
when he heard a new string of curses breaking out behind 

him . . . 



C^N the early autumn night the starlight was so bright that 
W^the leaves that had not fallen threw shadows on the ground; 
a faint breeze came and then went away and then came again. 
Happy Boy raised his head to look at the Heavenly River, high 
and far away. He sighed. The evening was so cool and refresh- 
ing, his chest was so broad, yet he felt as if there were not 
enough air, as if he were being smothered by the sadness in his 
breast. He wanted to sit down and weep bitterly. With his 
stature, his patient disposition, his desire to better himself, he 
could still have people treating him like a pig or a dog and he 
could still be unable to hold a job. He did not stop at hating 
that whole pack in the Yang household: his bitterness aroused 
in him a vague and pervasive feeling of hopelessness, a fear 
that he would never in his whole life come to anything. The 
further he walked, pulling his bedding roll along after him, the 
slower his pace became. It was as if he had ceased to be the 
Happy Boy who could pick up his feet and run eight or ten li 
at a stretch. 

When he reached the avenue there were only a few pass- 

68 



ers-by and the brightness of the street lights on this deserted 
thoroughfare made him feel even more completely swallowed 
up in his desolation. 

He did not know where best to go. Where should he go? 
Naturally he could go back to the Human Harmony Shed. But 
that would be hard to do, and the thought made his heart un- 
happy. As meekly and submissively as he had tried to carry on 
his work, and as much self-respect as he had already sacrificed 
in the hope of being able to buy a rickshaw, it hurt his heart to 
think that in the end he had held this job only three days and 
a half. Was he no different from one of those slippery old 
weasels who as a matter of habit avoids holding any job for 
longer than three days on end? It was almost as if he felt that 
he did not have the face to go back to the Human Harmony 
Shed to give the crowd there a chance to laugh at him and say, 
''Look at that. Happy Boy blows up in only three days! Heng!"' 

But if he didn't go back to the Human Harmony Shed, 
where else could he go? To avoid thinking of the matter any 
more, he walked straight out toward the great road of the Gate 
of Western Peace, in the direction of the shed. 

It was a one-story structure three store frontages in width. 
The middle section of the three served as the office; rickshaw 
boys were permitted to enter it only to settle their accounts or 
to discuss some business. They were definitely forbidden to walk 
back and forth through it whenever they pleased, the reason be- 
ing that the rooms forming the frontages on the east and west 
of the office were the bedrooms of the father and the daughter 
of the Liu family. 

Next to the west room there was a rickshaw entrance with 
big double swinging doors lacquered in green. Above the en- 
trance way to which these doors formed the portal there was 
stretched a heavy iron wire; from it was suspended a very bright 
electric bulb, naked of any shade or covering. Beneath the 
light, and also suspended on wires, was a horizontal metal 

^9 



plaque witli the legend '^Human Harmony Rickshaw Shed^’ 
engraved on it in gold lettering. This was the entrance which 
all the rickshaw boys used in taking out their rickshaws or bring- 
ing them back, as well as in their casual comings and goings. 
The lacquer on the leaves of the door was a deep green, ac- 
cording well with the gold lettering on the plaque above, and 
both the sign and the doors glittered in the light of the naked 
bulb that shone so brightly on them. And the rickshaws that 
came in and out of those swinging doors were all sleek and 
glossy too; whether they were lacquered in yellow or in black, 
they were all alike polished until they shone, their cushion 
covers as white as snow. And the men, too, all dressed more 
neatly and bore themselves with more pride than did others of 
their calling, as if they regarded themselves as the aristocrats 
among rickshaw boys. 

You had to go through this main entrance way and follow 
around behind the west room before you came upon a large 
square-shaped enclosure in the center of which stood a large tree 
—a locust of the yellow flowers. The rooms to the east and west 
of this yard both opened upon it and served as the sheds in 
which the rickshaws were kept. The hall on tlie south side of 
the yard, called the ''south room,’" together with the little rooms 
in back of it that were built around a second and smaller court- 
yard, were the sleeping quarters for the rickshaw men. 

It was probably after ii o'clock when Happy Boy arrived at 
the very bright but strangely solitary lamp at the door of the 
Human Harmony Shed. There was no light in either the ofEce 
or the east room, but the west room was still alight. He knew 
that Tiger Girl had not yet gone to bed, and thought to go in 
stealthily; it would not do to have her see him. Precisely because 
ordinarily she held him in high regard, he did not want her to 
be the first witness of his failure. He had hardly got his rickshaw 
in through the doorway and under her window when she came 
out from within the entrance. 


Happy Boy? What . . She was on the point of com- 
pleting her question but when she saw how crestfallen he 
looked;, and that he had his bedding roll in his rickshaw, she 
swallowed the rest of her sentence. 

If you fear something, it's bound to happen. All the mortifi- 
cation and depression in Happy Boy's heart froze into one hard 
ball, and forthwith he came to a dead stop, standing there as if 
stupefied. Unable to say anything, he just gaped at Tiger Girl. 

She was different tonight. He didn't know whether it was 
the strong light or whether she had powdered her face, but it 
was much whiter now than usual, and the new whiteness veiled 
away much of her evil manner. It was certain, too, that she had 
rubbed rouge on her lips: it had given her an almost seductive 
air. When Happy Boy became aware of this, he felt it to be 
very strange indeed, and his heart became more mixed up than 
ever. Because in his day-to-day meetings with her he had never 
looked upon her as a woman, suddenly now seeing her red lips, 
he felt as suddenly a tinge of shame in his heart. On the upper 
part of her body she wore a short silk jacket of a very light soft 
green color, and on the lower a pair of tissue-thin silk crepe 
trousers that were very full in the legs and at the feet. 

Under the glare of the lamp the green jacket bore a soft 
yielding sheen that carried beneath its bright surface the slight- 
est suggestion of sadness. Because it was so small and short, the 
jacket revealed beneath its hem some of the white waistband 
at the top of the trousers, so that its green color seemed for that 
contrast even the more simple and pure. The wide black silk 
trousers clothing the lower part of her body rippled a little in 
the evening breeze, as if they were moved and made restless by 
some sinister spirit come out of the teeming darkness and want- 
ing now to escape the glaring brightness and lose themselves in 
the night. ' 

Happy Boy did not dare to keep on looking, and hastily 
lowered his head, but even when his eyes could no longer see it. 



there was still in his heart the little green jacket* As far back as 
he had known her, he could not remember her having got her- 
self up this way before. From the standpoint of the Liu family's 
means, she could full well wear silks and satins every day of her 
life. But she spent her whole day every day meeting and dealing 
with rickshaw men, and always wore a cotton jacket and cotton 
trousers. If they sometimes were gaily colored, there yet had 
never been anything about them to attract the eye. Happy Boy 
felt as if he were seeing something extraordinarily new and 
strange that was at the same time very familiar: it was a startling 
and inexplicable difference where there should be none that 
confused his heart and raised in it an uneasy suspicion that he 
had got on the wrong street and come to the wrong door. 

To begin with, his heart had been sick with its distress, and 
on top of that he had met this new strangeness, this living per- 
son who was standing in front of him. What should he do now? 
He could think of no plan, and stood witness before her. Since 
in his own indecision he was unwilling to stir from where he 
was, he hoped she would quickly go back into her room, or 
perhaps order him to do some little thing that would take him 
out of her sight. He simply could not bear this strain, this added 
afiSiction that wasn't like any other feeling he had ever known, 
but was still terribly painful and embarrassing. 

''Hail" She thrust herself a step forward toward him, and said 
in a low voice: "Don't stand there like a block of wood! Go put 
your rickshaw up and hurry back as quickly as you can; there's 
something I want to talk to you about. See you in my room." 

He had long grown accustomed to helping Tiger Girl in the 
work about the shed, and the only thing he could do was to 
obey her. But tonight she wasn't the same as she usually was, 
and he wanted very much to be able to think a little about the 
matter. For a moment he stood there with a vacant look ponder- 
ing her request, but the trance-like emptiness of his mind only 
flurried him more. 


72 



Unable to think of anything else, he picked up the shafts of 
his rickshaw and pulled it back into the shed. Looking at the 
south room, he saw that tliere was no light in it; probably they 
were all asleep, or perhaps some of them had not yet brought in 
their rickshaws. When he had pushed his own into its place, 
he turned and walked back, defeated, to her door. Suddenly his 
heart started to pound violently. 

''Come in! I want to tell you something.'" Tiger Girl stuck 
her head out of the portal and spoke half smilingly, half play- 
fully. 

He went slowly in. On the table there were some small 
white pears that were not altogether ripe, their skins still dark 
green, and a wine pot with three white porcelain wine cups. In 
a large dish of the finest glaze there was set out half a chicken, 
cooked in soy sauce, together with some smoked liver, broiled 
tripe and other things to eat. 

"You see," said Tiger Girl, waving him to a chair and watch- 
ing him sit down, "you see, Fm giving myself a little treat to- 
night to pay myself back for tlie hard work I do in the daytime. 
You eat some tool" 

As she finished the sentence she poured him a cup of wine: 
it was bygar, a white wine made of kaoliang, and its pungent 
acrid fumes, blended with the odor of the soy sauce, seemed to> 
envelop his nostrils in a heavy fog. 

"Go ahead and drink it. And eat the chicken. Fve already 
finished eating, so you needn't wait for me. A little while ago 
I told my own fortune with dominoes, and I could tell for cer- 
tain you were coming back. Isn't that uncanny?" 

"I don't drink!" Happy Boy stared at the wine cup in his 
hand, his mind lost in the empty desert of his thoughts. 

"If you're not going to drink, then wriggle on out of here. 
For a kind heart and a good intent, how can you turn the gift 
away? You stupid camel, you! The wine is not so bitter that it 
will kill you. Even I can drink three or four cups of it. If you 



don’t believe me, just watch!" She took the cup from his hand 
and poured more than half of its contents into her mouth. Clos- 
ing her eyes, she gulped once, blew her breath out sharply, and 
then held the cup up to him. 

'Tou drink the rest! If you don’t 111 grab you by the ear and 
pour it down your throat." 

Happy Boy’s stomach was heavy with resentment at the 
wrongs he had suffered, and there was nowhere he could go to 
give vent to his anger. To be confronted now with this woman 
who was bent on making fun of him truly enraged him: he 
wanted more than anything else just to glare at her, to stare her 
down. But he knew that in the past Tiger Girl had treated him 
well and was well-disposed toward him. Moreover, she acted 
with the same breeziness and freedom toward everybody, and 
it was not proper for him to oflfend her. Since he was unwilling 
to offend her, the next thought that occurred to him was, why 
not just go to her in all openness and tell her the things that 
had hurt him? Heretofore he had not been one who wanted 
very much to talk, but tonight it seemed as if there were a 
thousand words and ten thousand sentences pent up in the 
sadness of his heart, and he could never be happy again until 
he had said them all. 

Thinking of it in that light, he no longer felt that Tiger Girl 
was trying to make a fool of him, but rather that she had no 
other thought than openly and frankly to love and protect him. 
He took the wine cup from her hand and drained it. 

Slowly, surely, powerfully the stream of pungent spirit 
coursed down within him. He stretched out his neck, threw 
back his chest, and belched a couple of times, not altogether 
comfortably. 

Tiger Girl started to laugh. It had not been an easy opera- 
tion at all for him to get that wine shifted from the cup to his 
stomach, and at the sound of her laughter he looked quickly 
across in the direction of the east room.' 


74 



one over there/^ she said^ checking her laughter, but still 
with a smile on her face. 'The old man has gone to take part 
in his sister's birthday celebrations, and he'll be tied up for at 
least two or three days. My aunt lives in Nan Yuan." As she 
spoke she filled up his wine cup again. 

When he heard this. Happy Boy's heart turned a corner, 
and he felt that somewhere there was a little something wrong in 
all this. At the same time he could not bear to get up and leave. 
Her face was so close to his, her clothes so clean and shiny, 
her lips so red; all of these things together produced in him a 
new kind of excitement, stimulated him in a way he had never 
been stimulated before. She was still as ugly as ever, but she had 
now a fresh vivacity, as if some added part of her had just this 
evening come alive, or as if she had suddenly become another 
person. She was still herself — but somehow more than herself. 

He did not dare investigate too closely what this new part of 
her was, and at the same time he was afraid to accept it from 
her in any offhand manner. But neither could he bear the idea 
of rejecting it. His face got redder and redder with this further 
confusion. While he sat there, Tiger Girl poured herself an- 
other cup of wine, and, as if to pluck up her courage, drained 
it at one swallow. 

A little while before Happy Boy had been thinking of telling 
her his troubles, but at this moment he could not recall what 
they were. For no special reason, he turned his red face to look 
at her more closely; the more he looked, the more confused his 
heart became: tliis new part of her that he did not understand 
was coming forth more and more clearly in her, and its hot 
pungent power was trying more and more to communicate itself 
to him, was coming closer and closer to him. Gradually she was 
becoming some overpowering abstraction of herself, some sea 
of scalding lava that demanded his immersal in it, that would 
draw out all the strength in his body and return it to the shore 
a dry and withered thing. 


75 





He tried to arouse himself, to warn himself that he must 
now at all costs be careful, but he wanted, too, to be brave. 
There was one way to do that: he drank three cups of wine, one 
right after the other, and forgot all about whatever it is that is 
called ''being careful.^' He looked at her with a muddled grin 
on his face; he did not know just why he felt so extraordinarily 
happy and bold. He was overflowing with courage, and wanted 
instantly to grab a firm hold on a new experience. Ordinarily 
he was a little bit afraid of Tiger Girl; now there wasn't the 
slightest thing about her to be afraid of; on the contrary, he him- 
self had become transformed, and realized suddenly how awe- 
inspiring and strong he really was. In comparison, the vaunted 
Tiger Girl was like a soft little kitten whose smooth fur he was 
stroking. 

The taunt, the edge of sarcasm, the mean disdain had gone 
out of her now, and he could feel only the hot admiration she 
had for his strength and the submissiveness with which she 
sought his comfort. 

76 




He had not known how much the glare of the light had 
bothered him until she turned it out, nor how tightly he had 
rolled and knotted the stomach band at the top of his trousers 
until she had untied it for him. It seemed natural, too, that in 
the darkness she should have no need of silk or rippling crepe; 
he could be freer still. Ages ago he had forgotten what she 
looked like: he could not see her face, but could only feel how 
avid her breath was as her hands showed him a place that was 
made for him. So it was that he came to pin down the thing 
that had been flaunted at him; all his strength now had a pur- 
pose, and even his anger had a way to spend itself. 

The night outside had come into the room, and all the 
heavens were black. Suddenly a white planet pricked its way 
through the Silver River, painting a path across the darkness, 
carrying its tail of red fire floating softly, or sticking out hard 
and straight behind it, streaking directly down or cutting across 
the arc of the sky. Sometimes its trembling shivered the universe 
with brightness and heat, rending the darkness with sharp 
flashes of light; then all the stars in the firmament would fall in 
a final explosion that would shake the void of autumn night. 
Ten thousand flickering points would be caught in confusion, 
and then grow dim and dark and quiet, until after a long time 
a new planet would stab across the horizon, thrusting itself for- 
ward through ten thousand heavens in a fierce radiance of joy. 
But it, too, would come in the end to quiescence; tire night 
would gather it in, and quietly, quietly, lazily, lazily, the multi- 
tude of stars found their own proper places, and the breeze of 
an autumn night smiled in its coolness. Outside there was now 
only an occasional firefly seeking a mate before the winter 
should end its time, and playing the while as well as it could 
at being itself a star ... 

The next morning Happy Boy got up very early and went 
out with his rickshaw. His head and throat ached a little; that 
was because it had been the first time he had taken wine, and 


77 



he didn’t pay much attention to it. Seated by the roadway at 
the mouth of a little lane, with the light dawn wind blowing 
on his forehead, he knew that the pain would be gone before 
very long. But there was something else in his head that made 
him very sad, a matter that he could not be quit of so quickly. 
The affair of the night before made him suspicious, ashamed of 
himself, and built a barrier in his heart that was hard to get 
across. More than that, he sensed that it was very dangerous 
for him. 

He did not understand what Tiger Girl was up to. That she 
had long before lost her virginity was a thing that Happy Boy 
had first discovered only a few hours previously. He had always 
had great respect for her, and he had moreover never heard 
anyone say there was anything wrong with her behavior. In 
spite of her free and easy manner toward everyone, no one had 
talked about her behind her back; if there had been any among 
the rickshaw men who spoke evil of her, it had only been to say 
she was a hard taskmaster; there had been no other ground of 
criticism. Then why had there been a performance like last 
night’s? 

Although it might seem stupid, Happy Boy had his doubts 
about last night’s business. She knew he was not in the rickshaw 
shed. How could she just have been sitting there with no other 
thought than to wait for him? Suppose it did not matter which 
one of the men it had been: that anyone would have done as 
well? Happy Boy buried his head in his hands. He had come 
from the villages, and although he had up to now given no 
thought to the matter of taking a wife, still it was not at all 
that he did not have a plan. Assuming that he had his own 
rickshaw, that his circumstances were a little more comfortable, 
and that he wanted to take a wife, he would certainly go back 
to the country and select a maid who was young and strong, 
could stand a hard life, could wash clothes and do housework. 

What one among the youths of his own age and who, like 

■' 7 ^ V. ■’ , ,, 



himself^ had no one to control them, did not steal out all the 
time to run among the 'white houses”? At no time had Happy 
Boy ever been willing to follow along with them. In the first 
place, he regarded himself as a person who wanted to better 
himself, and he could not spend his money on the bodies of 
women who sold themselves to anyone with the price. In the 
second place, he had seen with his own eyes the fools who paid 
this miserable rental — some of them not more than eighteen or 
nineteen years old— standing in the toilet wrenching their necks 
until their heads hit the ceiling and still unable to urinate. And, 
lastly, he had to behave himself or he would not be able to face 
his wife. Because if one day he did take a bride, he would cer- 
tainly want her to be the purest of virgins when she came to 
him. Therefore he should be the same way himself. 

But now, now . . . Thinking of Tiger Girl, supposing you 
looked at her as a friend, it was a fact that she was all right. 
But from the standpoint of being your wife, she was very ugly, 
old, sharp-tempered, and had no regard for her own face or any- 
body else's. He could think even of the soldiers who had stolen 
his beautiful rickshaw and very nearly taken his life without as 
much hatred and disgust as he felt when he thought of Tiger 
Girl. She had destroyed completely the clear fresh spirit that 
he had brought from the villages, and made him into a man who 
takes women by stealth. 

And another thing: what if this affair got bruited about and 
Fourtli Master Liu came to know of it? Did he know that his 
daughter was a broken package, a piece of spoiled goods? Sup- 
pose he didn't know, wouldn't that leave him, Happy Boy, to 
carry alone the whole weight of that black pot sooty with 
shame? Suppose, on the other hand, that the Old Man had 
known all along but just didn't want to try to control his daugh- 
ter, what kind of crawling things would that make both father 
and daughter? And what kind of a thing was he himself, to get 
mixed up with people like that? Even if father and daughter 

.■■■' 79 ,;: 



■both desired it, he could not take such a woman to be his wife, 
and he didn’t care whether Old Man Liu had six rickshaws or 
sixty, or six hundred, or six thousand. 

He would have to get away from the Human Harmony Shed 
at once, and with one stroke of the knife cut all connection with 
both of them. Happy Boy had Happy Boy’s own resources, his 
own kind of ability, and he would depend upon that to buy 
himself a rickshaw and to get himself a wife. Only if he did 
that could he feel that he was an upright person worthy of his 
own respect. When he had thought to this point, he lifted up 
his head again, and felt once more that he was a real fellow 
after all; there was nothing to fear, nothing to worry about. 
All he had to do was to work really hard and he would be sure to 
succeed. 

But no matter how much he hated her, how much he de- 
spised her. Tiger Girl seemed always to have her claws in his 
heart; the more he wanted to stop thinking of her, the more 
likely she was suddenly to leap up from his heart, all naked and 
bare, to bring to him at one time all her ugliness and whatever 
beauty and good there was in her, to give it all to him. 

It was like buying a pile of broken scrap: in the midst of the 
old copper and msted iron you would find one or two bright 
and colorful little things that would make you unwilling to 
pass them by. He had never before shared this kind of intimacy 
with any living soul; and although he had been taken by sur- 
prise, had been swindled and seduced, still in the end that kind 
of relationship could not be forgotten at will. Even if you 
thought to put it to one side, it might naturally and of itself 
wave and bend about in your heart, as if it had taken root there. 
For him it was not only an experience, it was a vague something 
indescribably disturbing, leaving him no longer sure of what it 
was best to do. He had no way to manage his relations with her, 
with himself, or with his future: he was like a little bug caught 
in a spider web; however much he struggled, it was too late. 

8o 



Absent-mindedly he carried a succession of several fares. 
Even while he was running along with the rickshaw behind him^ 
his heart had not forgotten this affair. Not that it arose in his 
thoughts in any clear form so that he knew where it began and 
where it left off: rather^ it came to him constantly in the guise 
of some idea, or perhaps of some slightly remembered taste or 
odor, or again of some fragment of feeling, always vague and 
indistinct but at the same time very close and real. He wanted 
very much to go some place alone and drink, drink until he 
was too drunk to recognize anyone or remember anything; per- 
haps then he could be a little happier. He could not bear this 
affliction any longer. 

But he did not dare go get drunk. He could not on account 
of this affair destroy himself. Once more he thought of buying 
a rickshaw. Now, though, he could not keep his whole mind on 
that alone: there was always something obstructing his thinking. 
He would no sooner get before his eyes the picture of the rick- 
shaw he would some day buy than this other thing would slip 
stealthily out and take possession of his heart, like a black cloud 
blanketing the sun and cutting off the rays of light. 

When evening came, and it was time to put away his rick- 
shaw, he was unhappier still. He had to go back to the rickshaw 
shed, but in truth he was afraid to. What would he do if he 
met her? He pulled his empty rickshaw up one street and down 
another, taking the long way round. Two or three times he was 
not far from the shed, and each time he wheeled back again 
and walked in some other direction, very much like a child 
who has for the first time played hooky from school and does 
not dare go home. 

The strange thing was, the more he thought of avoiding her, 
the more he thought at the same time of meeting her. And the 
darker it got, the sharper this thought became. Gradually a con- 
fused purpose that he clearly knew was wrong, a brash desire to 
try something again, got hold of his heart. It was just like this 

, '.'■81 



when as a little boy he used to take a long stick and go poke it 
in a hornef s nest: he would be afraid, but his heart would be 
pounding in anticipation of the attempt, as if some evil thing 
outside himself were pushing him on. Obscurely he felt the 
strength of a force stronger than himself that was kneading him 
into a soft round ball and that would shortly cast him into the 
flames. He had no means of checking his own progression. 

Again he turned back toward the Gate of the Western 
Peace. This time he had no more thought of delay. He wanted 
to go right straight to the office and hunt her out. She wasn't 
any very special personage, she was only a woman. His whole 
body got hot at the thought of it. Just as he reached the Gate 
and was turning down the road toward the shed, a man of forty- 
odd years walked under the street light. Happy Boy seemed to 
recognize this man's face and bearing, but he did not dare speak 
to him. Almost instinctively he asked instead, 'Tou want a 
rickshaw?" 

The man stopped and stared at him. ''Happy Boy?" 

"Yes, it's me." Happy Boy grinned broadly. "Mr. Ts'ao?" 

Mr. Ts'ao smiled a little and nodded his head. "I say, Happy 
Boy, if you haven't got a family to work for, why don't you 
come back to my place? The man I'm using now is too lazy, he 
never polishes the rickshaw, although he's a strong runner for 
all of that. Will you come?" 

"Do you think I could refuse, sir?" It was as if Happy Boy had 
even forgotten how to smile. He kept wiping his face and fore- 
head with a little towel. "When do I come to work. Master?" 

"That doesn't matter." Mr. Ts'ao thought a while. "Day after 
tomorrow." 

"Yes, Master." Happy Boy thought a moment himself. "Mas- 
ter, may I take you back home now?" - 

"There's no need. You recall I went to Shanghai for a while, 
don't you? When I came back I didn't live any more at the old 
place. Now I live on Long North Street and every evening I 

82 



come out for a walk. See you day after tomorrow.'' Mr. Ts'ao 
told Happy Boy the street number of his house, and then added, 
'I'd prefer that we use my own rickshaw." 

Happy Boy was so overjoyed that he wanted to take wings 
and fly. The worry and vexation of these last days were now 
suddenly cut clean , and clear away, as a great rain might flush 
off the dust and dirt from the white stones of a marble avenue. 
Mr. Ts'ao was his old master, and although they had not been 
together for many days, still the feeling between them was 
excellent. Mr. Ts'ao was a very amiable and agreeable person; 
moreover, there weren't many people in his family, only his 
wife and their little boy. 

Happy Boy raced his rickshaw straight to the Human Har- 
mony Shed. There was still a light burning in Tiger Girl's room. 
When he saw the light he stopped dead, suddenly become 
wooden. Aft^r he had stood there for what seemed a long time, 
he made up his mind to go in to see her. He would tell her that 
he had found another job working by the month, turn over to 
her his earnings for these last two days, and ask to be given back 
the money he had saved up. From then on he would sever all 
connection witli her, as with a single stroke of a sharp knife 
you might cut one rope into two separate ropes, neither any 
longer being connected by even a slender strand to the other. 
Naturally it would not be convenient to say this clearly, in so 
many words. She would certainly understand. 

He went into the shed, first wheeling his rickshaw back into 
its proper place, and then he came back and, plucking up his 
courage, called her name. 

"Come ini" He pushed open her door. She was lying across 
her bed, wearing her ordinary clothes and without shoes. With- 
out changing her position, she asked, "What is it? Has the little 
boy come back to eat some more of my honey? Has he discov- 
ered how good it tastes?" 

Happy Boy's face got as red as one of the dyed eggs that you 



give as a present to a mother who has just borne her child. He 
stood helplessly for a while, and then slowly and hesitatingly he 
managed to say: 'Tve found a job again, I go to work day after 
tomorrow. The family has its own rickshaw/' 

She heard him and sat upright on the bed. 'Tou little brat, 
you! You don't know when you're well off!" Half smiling, half 
teasing, she pointed her finger at him. ''Here there's food for 
you, there are clothes for you to wear. Is it tliat you never get 
enough of the stench of your own sweat? The old man can't 
control me, and I can't go on being a widow for the rest of my 
life. Suppose he does make his neck as stiff as a bull. I've still got 
enough change in the palms of my hands to keep the two of us* 
The two of us could get two or three rickshaws and rent them 
out. We'd make eighty cents or a dollar a day— wouldn't that 
be better than your running all over the streets the whole day 
long until your feet swell with weariness? What*^ wrong with 
me? Except that I'm a little older than you— but I can't be so 
much older. And I can protect you, and love you, and take care 
of you, and anticipate the things you want." 

'T want to be a rickshaw puller." Happy Boy could think of 
no other argument with which to meet what she was saying. 

^'You've certainly got a head like a dough-cake! Sit down for a 
while. I can't bite you!" As she finished speaking she smiled, 
exposing two wolfish teeth. 

Happy Boy bounced down in a chair with the stiff awkward- 
ness that tense young muscles gave him. "'How about that little 
bit of money of mine?" 

"The Old Man has it. It can't get lost— you needn't be afraid. 
You better not ask him for it. You know his temper. When it's 
enough to buy a rickshaw with, then ask him and he'll give 
every copper of it back to you. If you asked for it now, he'd 
give you such a cursing it'd be a wonder if your soul and body 
stayed together. He thinks well of you. You won't lose your 
money, and for every dollar that it's short I'll give you two. 


YouVe got the mind of a villager— don’t mahe me get sarcastic 
and hurt your feelings.” 

Again Happy Boy could think of nothing to say, and sat with 
his head down for a long while, digging in his pocket. Finally 
he found the rental money for the last two days and, getting up, 
put it on the table. 

^'That’s for two days.” Then he remembered. Backing out of 
the room, he said, 'Tm turning the rickshaw in today. Tomor- 
row Fm going to rest for a day.” In his heart he had not the 
slightest desire to take a day off, but tliis way he felt that the 
break was a cleaner one. From today on he would not come back 
again to the Human Harmony Shed. 

Tiger Girl crossed the room, picked up the money from the 
table, put it back in his pocket. 'Tor these last two days you’ve 
had both me and the rickshaw absolutely free — there’s no 
charge for either. That’s good luck for you, little boy. Just so 
you’re not ungrateful.” 

When she had finished speaking she swung about and 
locked the door behind her. 



7 


BOY went to live and work in the Ts’ao house- 
C-/ Vhold. Toward Tiger Girl he felt a certain sense of shame. 
But since the affair had come out of her seduction of him, and 
since moreover he did not covet her money, he felt that to cut 
off all connection with her from this time on would still not 
wrong her so much that he would be unable to look her in the 
face with a good conscience. The thing that he was not easy in 

8s 



his mind about was the money Fourth Master was holding for 
him. If he went at once to ask for it, it was to be feared that the 
old man would be suspicious. If from now on he never went 
back again to see either father or daughter, it would not unlikely 
happen that once Tiger Girl got angry, she would make a few 
slanderous remarks about him to the old man and his money 
would be fried in bean sauce. If he went right on entrusting his 
savings to the old man, he would have to meet her every time he 
went to the Human Harmony Shed and that would put him in 
a very difficult position. He could not think out any proper 
method of handling the matter, and the longer he was without a 
method the more uneasy he became. 

He wanted very much to ask Mr. Ts'ao to advise him as to 
what he had better do, but how could he explain it to him? 
That part about Tiger Girl and himself he would never be able 
to tell anybody. When he reached this point in his thinking he 
began to understand what it is really to regret something you 
have done, and for the first time, too, he began to see clearly 
that he could not cut himself completely from what he had 
done as you would cut a rope with a knife. You could never 
wash yourself clean of an affair like that — it was like a black 
scar deep in the flesh. Without any reason he had lost his rick- 
shaw, and now without any reason he was caught in this en- 
tanglement. He felt that his whole life would probably come to 
no more than this in the end; no matter how much he wanted 
to better himself, it was a vain excursion, a useless detour that 
could only bring him back at its close to the point from which 
he had started at its beginning. 

He thought up one avenue and down the next, and he 
could make out only one thing: in all probability he would 
ultimately have to give up every last shred of his self-respect 
and ask for Tiger Girl in marriage; if not on her own account, 
would it not have to be on account of those two or three rick- 
shaws? If you choose the part of a turtle you have to take 

m ■ 



warmed-over food: the man whose wife has had other men eats 
from a dirty dish. He could not bear even the thought of it, but 
he realized that when the time came it still might be a question 
of this or nothing. The best thing to do was to go ahead working 
hard. He would do as well as he could and await what evil might 
come; no longer did he dare have the confidence in himself that 
he used to have. His height, his strength, his broad chest, all 
counted together did not amount to anything. His life was his 
own, but he had let someone else get control of it, a someone 
who was as mean and cheap and dark a she-dog as could be 
found. 

According to the rules of reason, he should be very happy, 
because of all the households with which he had ever been 
mixed up the Ts'ao family was the most to be loved. It was not 
that the pay was better than in other places: except for the 
bonus at each of the three festivals, there was not very much 
extra money, but both Mr. and Mrs. Ts'ao were so exceptionally 
friendly and sympathetic and agreeable. Every man, whoever it 
might be, they treated as a human being. Happy Boy wanted to 
earn more money, was putting his very life into earning more 
money, but at the same time he wanted a place to sleep that 
looked like a room, and he wanted to be able to eat enough so 
that he would not be hungry. Everywhere in the Ts’ao house- 
hold it was very clean, even the servants" quarters. The food 
they ate was wholesome and there was enough of it; moreover, 
they would never give the servants something that stunk with 
rottenness while they themselves ate well. He had a wide spa- 
cious room for himself, and he could eat three quiet and 
leisurely meals. When you added to that the fact that the mas- 
ter was so affable, Happy Boy — even Happy Boy— was unwill- 
ing to think only of the money involved. 

Moreover, when your food and lodging both suit your taste 
perfectly, your work does not weary you; you lose nothing by 
taking an opportunity like that to get your body back into its 



best shape. If he himself had had to dig up the money to buy 
food for himself, he would never have eaten as well as this. Now^ 
since his meals were all made ready for him, and since he would 
not have to break his back in bitter toil to partake of them, why 
shouldn't he eat his fill? This was an item of which he had kept 
a very clear account: food cost money to buy. To eat well, sleep 
well, and to keep oneself clean and neat were all things it was 
not easy to find a chance to do. 

Furthermore, although the Ts'ao family did not play mali- 
chiang, and did not often have guests, so that there was no side- 
money, yet any time that he did some special little job of work 
he might get ten or twenty cents for it. For instance, if the 
mistress of the house asked him to go buy some pills for die 
little boy, she would be sure to give him an extra ten-cent piece, 
telling him to go by rickshaw, although she well understood that 
he could mn faster than any rickshaw man, A little bit of money 
like that doesn't count for much, but it made him aware of a 
genuine human feeling for him, the kind of sympathy that made 
you know they were thinking of you and remembering how 
they would feel if they were in your place. It was this that 
opened his heart and let the sunlight in. 

The masters whom Happy Boy had met up with could not 
be counted as few in number, and of them nine out of ten 
would pay you your wages one day late if they could, just to 
make it clear to you that they would much rather not pay them 
at all— -that it would be better to use your services free, servants 
being no better than cats or dogs, perhaps not so good. 

The Ts'ao family did not follow that pattern; that was why 
he liked it here. He would go straighten up the yard, water the 
flowers, and do tlie other necessary little things, all without wait- 
ing to be told. And whenever they saw him busy with things 
like that they would be certain to say something to him that 
would be nice to hear, and they would even take advantage of 
such occasions to hunt out some torn old garments and give 


them to him, telling him to exchange them for a few boxes of 
matches. In spite of what they said, the things would be sure to 
be usable, and he would simply keep them himself, as they 
intended he should. It was in actions like these that Happy Boy 
could taste the flavor of human kindness. 



In Happy Boy’s eyes. Fourth Master Liu could be counted 
as taking the part of the Tyrant of the Yellow Turbans, the 
famous leader of that famous band of rebels at the close of the 
Eastern Han Dynasty, nobody knew how many ages ago. The 
storytellers told about him in the teashops, and every child had 
heard about him — about how, for all he was so dangerous and 
hard, he would still not cost you face, would still consider the 
proprieties, call things by their right names. Never could he be 
black on one side and white on the other. 


89 



And aside from the Tyrant of the Yellow Turbans there was 
only one other worthy who had a place of respect in Happy 
Boy's heart, and that was the Sacred Sage, Confucius. When 
you got right down to it. Happy Boy was in a fog as to what 
kind of a person this Sacred Sage had been, except that every- 
body said he had known how to write a great many words and 
was excessively reasonable about everything. In the households 
that Happy Boy had been mixed up with there had been men of 
the literary type and of the martial type. Of the martial type 
there was not a one who came close to Fourth Master Liu. Of 
the literary kind, although there had been college professors and 
workers in government offices among them, who naturally could 
read a great many printed characters, yet he had never met one 
who was reasonable. And if the master of the household should 
happen to be somewhat inclined to be reasonable, the mistress 
and her daughters would be sure to be very harsh and demand- 
ing and unreasonable and hard to please. 

Only Mr. Ts'ao could read 'and was reasonable too. More- 
over, Mrs. Ts'ao was so quiet and modest that she won your 
heart. Therefore Mr. Ts'ao must take the role of the Sacred Sage; 
when Happy Boy couldn't quite recall what Confucius looked 
like, he just had to think of Mr. Ts'ao: that was what Confucius 
looked like, whether the Sage was agreeable to that arrangernent 
or not. 

As a matter of actual fact Mr. Ts'ao was not a man of such 
high attainments. He was simply a man of ordinary talents who 
occasionally acted as a tutor and for the rest did other work of one 
kind or another. He regarded himself as a socialist and as some- 
thing of an aesthete at the same time. A little chance reading 
that he had done in the works of an English writer named Wil- 
liam Morris had considerably influenced him. He did not 
have profound views on either government or art, but he did 
have one slight advantage: the little that he did believe was all 
capable of being carried into practice in tlie small acts of his 



everyday life. It was as if he himself recognized that he did not 
have personal force or ability of a kind that would startle any- 
one, or that would make it possible for him to perform feats 
that would surprise the heavens and shake the earth, and he had 
therefore decided to follow out his theories in ordering his own 
life and his own household. Although this course did not bring 
aid to the social order, it at least made it possible to keep his 
words and his actions in accord with one another, and kept him 
from hypocrisy. Because of this, he was very attentive even to 
the smallest things, as much as to say that if he could bring that 
one little household into perfect order, society could do what- 
ever it wished for all of him. Sometimes these thoughts made 
him ashamed of himself, at others they made him happy with 
himself. His home was a little island of green foliage in the 
midst of a sea of sand; it could only supply water and sustenance 
to those who chanced upon it, and had no larger mission. 

By sheer good luck Happy Boy had come to this green 
island; after having wandered for so many days in the desert it 
seemed a miracle to him. Never before had he met a man like 
Mr. Ts"ao, so it was natural that he should take him to be the 
Sage. Perhaps this was because he lacked experience, or perhaps 
because even men of Mr. TsWs calibre are rarely seen in the 
world. When you took him out in a rickshaw his clothes were so 
quiet and refined, the man himself was so full of animation and 
good spirits, his manner was so large and generous-minded, and 
you too were so clean and smart-looking, so stalwart and strong, 
that just to pull the rickshaw made your spirits extraordinarily 
high: you felt that only you were fit to be the rickshaw puller for 
a man as fine as the master. 

In the home there was nowhere anything sullied or unclean, 
and it was always so tranquil that it gave Happy Boy a feeling of 
comfort and security. During the time when he had lived in the 
villages he had often seen old men sitting in autumn evenings 
or through the long winter days silently sucking their pipes and 

9 ^ 



never saying a word. Although he was too young to copy these 
old men, he loved to watch them sit in their serene silence. It 
must be, he would ponder as a child, that they find some special 
flavor in it. Now, although he was in the city, the quiet peace- 
fulness of the Ts'ao household was enough to make him think 
again of the villages: he had a very real desire to find himself a 
pipe and sit somewhere smoking it, drawing out of its stem the 
last little essence of a fine flavor. 

But unhappily that Tiger Girl and the dab of money made it 
impossible for him to be really at peace. His heart was like a 
green leaf that a caterpillar has wrapped round and round with 
the thin silk web of its thread, making ready its cocoon. Be- 
cause of the Liu family affair, he could not be at ease with him- 
self, and in his dealings with other people, sometimes even with 
his master, he would become so lost in abstraction that the 
answers he gave were unrelated to the things that had been 
asked him. This made him terribly unhappy. The Ts'ao family 
went to bed very early; by nine o'clock in the evening he would 
be through with his work, and he would sit alone in his room or 
in the yard thinking back and forth, back and forth, always of 
these two problems. 

Sometimes he would even be of a mind to get married right 
away. That would certainly be sufficient to put an end to Tiger 
Girl's desires. But how could he raise a family on his earnings 
as a rickshaw man? He knew how it was witli his bitter brothers 
in the tenements. The man pulled a rickshaw, the woman 
worked at odd jobs mending for people almost as poor as her- 
self, on the streets the children rummaged in ash heaps collect- 
ing occasional kernels of unburnt coal. In the summer they 
gnawed on watermelon rinds off garbage dumps, and in the 
winter they all went together to stand in line at one of those 
sheds where tlie rice gruel is doled out free to the starving poor. 
Happy Boy could not stand anything like that. 

And besides, supposing he took a wife, he would certainly 
; '92' 



not be able to get back the money Fourth Master Liu was hold- 
ing for him; how could Tiger Girl so lightly forgive him? He 
just could not bear the idea of giving up that money: it had 
almost been the price of his very life. 

It had been a year ago, at the beginning of autumn, that he 
had bought his first rickshaw. Over a year had passed, and now 
he had nothing at all, nothing but thirty-odd dollars that he 
could not get back, and a sickening entanglement to boot. The 
more he thought, the glummer he got about it. 

It was ten days or more after the Autumn Festival, and the 
weather was gradually getting colder. He calculated that he 
would need two extra pieces of clothing. That would take money 
tool When he spent his money to buy clothes he could not at the 
same time save it, and his hope of buying a rickshaw— to come 
right to the point about it, he didn't dare even to go on hoping! 
And supposing he was to continue on this month-to-month basis, 
what would his whole life come to in the end? 

One evening Mr. Ts'ao was coming back a little late from 
the East Gate. As a precaution. Happy Boy brought him 
through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, along the wide avenues, 
to avoid the pitfalls of narrow lanes. The road stretched out spa- 
cious and level, free of pedestrians. There was the faintest 
stirring of a cold wind, the quiet softness of the street lights. 
He began to thrill with the feel of the thing and to run with 
more strength. His heart had been melancholy for many days, 
and now for a while he could forget about it. Listening to the 
regular fall of his feet on the roadway and to the soft sound of 
the springs of the rickshaw behind him, he forgot everything. 
Unbuttoning his jacket, he let the cold piercing wind blow 
against his chest and was happy. He could ran on like this for- 
ever, right straight down this broad avenue into the evening, 
into some land that he did not know. And the death of the 
runner would be a clear thing, crisp and fine. 

The longer he ran the faster he went. At one time there was 



another rickshaw in front of him, but he called to it and it 
made way for him. In no time at all they were through the Gate 
of Heavenly Peace. It was as if he had steel springs in his feet: 
no sooner would one of them touch the earth than it would 
shoot back up; the wheels of the rickshaw behind him were al- 
ready turning so rapidly that one could not see the spokes, and 
the rubber tires looked as if they had left the ground entirely. 
The puller and the passenger and the rickshaw itself all looked 
as if the sudden force of a very urgent wind had lifted them up 
into the air. Happy Boy had found his running legs again, and 
in his heart he thought vaguely that if he could just sweat once 
all over his body, so tliat his clothes would be wet with it, then 
tonight he could sleep soundly and would not be likely to lie 
awake brooding over anything. 

They were already not very far from Long North Street 
when they passed into a stretch of the roadway the northern side 
of which was shadowed into blackness by a forest of locust 
trees beyond the wall. Happy Boy was just thinking of slowing 
down his pace when his foot hit something sticking up in the 
road. When his foot reached it the wheels of the rickshaw 
reached it too. He was pitched forward head-long to the gravel 
of the street, and as he fell he could hear the snap of one of the 
rickshaw shafts breaking in two. 

''What is it?'' Mr. Ts'ao's question had hardly got past his 
teeth when he followed it out of the rickshaw and into the 
street. Happy Boy uttered no sound, but picked himself up. Mr. 
Ts'ao also drew himself up quickly to a sitting position. "What 
happened?" 

Before them both was the pile of newly unloaded rocks 
for repairing the road; the workmen had not put a red light on it. 

"Are you badly hurt?" Happy Boy asked. 

"No. I'll walk back. You bring the rickshaw." Mr. Ts'ao was 
still completely composed, and was feeling around among the 
rocks to see if he had dropped anything. 

94 


Happy Boy felt the broken rickshaw shaft. 'It's not badly 
broken— I can still pull the rickshaw and Master can ride back!" 
As he spoke he dragged the vehicle out from among the rocks. 
"Master, please sit in it!" 

Mr. Ts'ao did not want to ride back but he could hear the 
sound of a sob in Happy Boy's voice and decided that the best 
thing to do would be to get in. When they came beneath the 
electric street lights at the mouth of Long North Street, Mr. 
Ts'ao saw that a piece of skin had been rubbed off his left hand. 

"Stop a minute, Happy Boy." Happy Boy turned his head to 
look over his shoulder. His face was covered with blood. 

Mr. Ts'ao was so startled that he didn't know what to say. 
"Quick, quick!" 

Happy Boy could not figure out what his master was talking 
about, and thought that he was probably telling him to run 
faster. He set himself and in one breath ran all the way home. 

When he put the rickshaw down, he saw the blood on Mr. 
Ts'ao's hand and ran in great haste into the courtyard, thinking 
to get some medicine for it from the mistress of the house. 

"Don't worry about me," Mr. Ts'ao said, hurrying in. "Take 
care of yourself first!" 

Happy Boy looked at himself and for the first time felt the 
pain. Both of his knees and his left elbow were scraped raw; the 
wetness on his face, that he had thought was sweat, was blood. 
Without caring what he did or what he thought, he sat down 
on the stone step in the entrance of the gate house, staring 
stupidly at the rickshaw with its broken shaft. You take a new 
rickshaw all covered with sheer black lacquer, and when you 
break the front of it off, so that the white splinters stick out bare 
and shattered, there's something terribly wrong about it: it's a 
terribly hard thing to bring yourself to look at it. It's like one of 
the paper men they carry in funeral processions, when you've got 
him all beautifully pasted together but haven't yet put on his 
feet. Only the splintered ends of the millet stalks stick out from 



under the gown where his legs should be, and it makes you 
shiver as you do at the sight of some horrible deformity. 
Stupidly Happy Boy stared at the shattered ends of the rick- 
shaw shaft. 

'"Happy Boy!’' The woman servant of the Ts’ao household, 
Kao Ma by name, was calling him in her loud clear voice. 
"Happy Boy, where are you?” 

He kept on sitting there without moving, his eyes fixed 
unerringly on the broken shaft. 

"What kind of an odd splinter are you? Not uttering a sound, 
hiding here: you see how you frightened me! The master is 
calling you.” 

Kao Ma’s speech always mixed up the thing she wanted to 
say with her feelings about it: the result was at once moving and 
a little confusing. She was a widow thirty-two or three years old, 
clean, brisk and of good spirits, energetic in everything she did 
and careful at the same time. There might in other places have 
been people who regarded her as too boastful and expansive, too 
full of ideas, and always describing the eyebrows of tire spirits 
and the laws that the devils follow. But in the Ts’ao family they 
liked clean shining people, and didn’t pay very much attention 
to all the little shortcomings, so that she had already been with 
them two or three years, and when the whole family moved 
they took her along with them. 

"The master’s calling youl” she said again. Wlien Happy Boy 
stood up, and she caught sight of the blood on his face, she 
cried out: "My mother’s! You frightened me to death! What’s 
been going on here? And you were just going to sit there, with- 
out moving or saying a word. Suppose you caught cold on top of 
all this, then what could be done for you? Hurry in there— the 
master’s got some medicine there.” 

Happy Boy walked in front, with Kao Ma following along 
behind him and keeping up a steady flow of scolding. Together 
they went into the library. Mrs. Ts’ao was also there. She was in 

96 



the act of putting some medicine on her husband’s hand and 
wrapping the bandage around it. When she saw Happy Boy 
walk in, she exclaimed involuntarily, ''Ai!’’ 

''Ma’am, this time he cut himself up plenty to look at!” Kao 
Ma was afraid her mistress wouldn’t notice the blood all over 
Happy Boy. In a great hurry she poured cold water into a wash- 
basin, and in an even greater hurry kept on talking. "I knew it, 

I knew it all along. When he starts running he doesn’t care 
whether he’s alive or dead, and I could have told you that sooner 
or later he’d run right into a fork in the road. And you still 
aren’t in a hurry to wash your face? When you finish we can put 
some medicine on you. It’s the truth!” 

Happy Boy gripped his left elbow^ but did not move. The 
library was so clean and elegantly beautiful. It was the ultimate 
in unseemliness that a great big fellow like himself, his face 
covered with blood and his clothes torn, should be standing in 
the center of it. It was as if they all felt the wrongness of it, and 
even Kao Ma could think of nothing to say. 

"Master,” Happy Boy hung his head and the sound of his 
voice was low but full of strength, "Master must find another 
rickshaw boy. This month’s wages you keep to pay for the re- 
pair of the rickshaw. One shaft is broken and the glass is gone 
from the lamp on the left hand side. It’s in good shape every- 
where else.” 

"First wash your face and put some medicine on it, and then 
you can talk about this other business.” Mr. Ts’ao was looking 
at his own hand as he spoke. His wife was slowly wrapping a 
bandage around it. 

"First get washed up.” Kao Ma had by now thought of this 
original contribution to make to the conversation. "The mas- 
ter hasn’t said anything, and you mustn’t rush out and smash 
the tile just because you’re afraid someone else might possibly 
smash it.” 

Happy Boy still did not move. "It’s no use to wash— it’ll be 

■ 97 ''. 



all right in a little while. When a rickshaw man that you hire 
by the month throws his employer out into the street and 
smashes up the rickshaw, he hasn't the face to . . His words 
were not sufficient to be of real aid to him in fully expressing 
his idea, but the emotion in his heart was laid out bare before 
them, and one only waited for the sound of the sob in his 
throat. Giving up his job and waiving his pay were in Happy 
Boy's eyes not very different from killing himself. But it seemed 
to him that at a time like this his responsibility, his self-respect 
were even more important than continuing to live. 

That was because it had not been some other person that 
he had thrown to tlie roadway but it was Master Ts'ao himself. 
If, for instance, he had spilled that principal wife of the Yang 
family into the mud, a spilling would be a spilling, and she'd 
have been well served. Toward the Yang woman he could bear 
himself in the sharp tough manner of the streets because she 
had never treated him as a person capable of anything else. It 
would not have been easy for him to be polite to such a person; 
the money was everything, and no question of face or self-respect 
could arise at all. Wliat would be called ''acting correctly" in 
that kind of a situation? 

Mr. Ts'ao was in his very origins a different type of person, 
and Happy Boy could not but sacrifice all thought of money in 
order to protect his self-respect. He could not spend time being 
resentful at anyone or hating anyone: he could only hate his 
own destiny. He was on the point of deciding that from the 
time he left the Ts'ao household he would never again pull 
another rickshaw. Since his own life was worth nothing, he 
could smash it against a wall if he chose, but what of the life of 
some other person? Suppose he had thrown a living soul to its 
death, what then? 

Before now he had never thought of these things, but be- 
cause this time it had been Master Ts'ao whom he had dumped 
out and injured, he had been brought suddenly to a realization 



o£ the principles and ideas involved. All right, then, he could 
give up his month's wages, and henceforward he would change 
his calling and never again work at this task in which he had to 
carry the lives of others on his back. Rickshaw-pulling was the 
profession he had always thought of following, and to give it up 
was to give up all his aspirations. He felt that he could do 
nothing more than shuffle confusedly through what would be 
left of his life, like a blind man groping his way through a 
cavern and walking always farther from the light. There was no 
use thinking now even of becoming a good rickshaw man. In 
vain had he grown so tall! 

When he had worked out on the streets picking up indi- 
vidual fares, he had chased after prospective customers without 
any consideration for the other fellow, and had stood on no 
ceremony in competing for business with his fellows. He had 
been soundly cutsed out by them for that practice, but when he 
sacrificed face in such a fashion it was actually because he 
wanted to better himself, wanted to buy a rickshaw of his own. 
He could forgive himself for that, but to be pulling a rickshaw 
in a private household and bring an evil like this upon himself— 
what could he say now in his defense? If people found out that 
Happy Boy had spilled somebody, and had broken up his rick- 
shaw, what kind of a joke would that make of his reputation as 
a puller? 

There was no road out for Happy Boy. He could not wait for 
Mr. Ts'ao to discharge him. The best he could do was to crawl 
out of there before he was told to go. 

"'Happy Boy, you wash yourself," Mr. Ts'ao said. ""You don’t 
have to talk right off about resigning your job. It was not your 
fault. When they dumped that pile of stones in the roadway 
they ought to have put a red light on it. Let’s just count the 
matter closed. Wash up and put some medicine on yourself.’’ 

""Yes, of course, Master’’— Kao Ma had once more thought of 
something to say— ""Happy Boy just can’t get around the idea of 



his having accidentally injured Master like this. But/' turning 
to Happy Boy, ''since Master says it was not your fault, there's 
no use in your continuing to be difEcult about it." And then to 
the room in general: "Look at him! A great big fellow, and not 
lacking in strength, and still he acts like a little boy. It's a fact— 
he's in a terrible stew. Mistress Ts'ao, you say a word to him, 
to make him easier in his heart." Kao Ma's talk was like a 
victrola record: it went round and round and took in everybody 
in the room, without there being the slightest mark on it to 
show you where it began, or how it had been developed, or at 
what place it had turned from one point of view to the opposite, 
or from one subject to another. 

"Quickly, wash yourself, you frighten me," Mrs. Ts'ao man- 
aged to say. 

Happy Boy's heart was terribly confused, and now finally 
when he heard the mistress say she was afraid of blood, he found 
a simple little thing to do to comfort her: he carried the wash- 
basin outside and at the door of the library took a try or two at 
washing his face. Kao Ma waited for him inside the door with 
the bottle of medicine in her hand. 

She daubed the stuff on his face and neck. "How about your 
arms and legs?" she asked. 

Happy Boy shook his head. "Not necessary." 

The master and mistress went in to rest. Kao Ma, with the 
bottle of medicine in her hand, followed Happy Boy out. She 
put the bottle down in his room and stood at his door. 

"After a little while you rub some of it on yourself. It's my 
idea that you don't need to eat your heart out, as you are doing, 
about a little thing like this. In the beginning, during the days 
when my old man was alive, I was always quitting my job too. 
The first reason for that was, I was out working, wearing myself 
out, while he had no ambition at all, and that made me very 
angry. The second thing was that when I was younger and more 
coarse in spirit, if a single phrase was spoken which didn't suit 


100 



me, Fd quit. Fd say: 'Fm selling my strength to make money, 
and Fm not a slave; you can keep your stinking money. If I were 
made of mud, Fd still have the qualities of dirt. Nobody could 
wait on an old woman like you.^ Fd say that to one mistress after 
another. But Fm much better now. When my old man died, I 
didn't have anything more to worry about, and my disposition 
improved a little. Here in this house-well, Fve been here for 
a little less than three years now; that's right, I came to work here 
on the ninth of September. The extra money in tips that you 
get here is too little, but they treat you well. What we're selling 
is our strength, and we're doing it for money, and it's no help 
if all you get out of it is a few nice words. But there's more that 
must be said: there's an advantage in seeing the thing from the 
long view. If every two or three days you quit your job, in one 
year you will have been six months out of work. You don't 
make money out of that. It'd be better, when you meet up witli 
a good-natured master, to put up if you can with staying longer 
on the one job even if the outside money is too little, and depend 
on the length of the period you work to save a little money. 

'In that business today, since the master didn't say anything, 
Fd just count it done. Why not? It isn't that Fm trying to 
presume on my age, but you're still a little brother, and it's easy 
for you to catch on fire. There's no need for it at all. You can't 
make a brittle temper do instead of rice to eat. As honest and 
hard-working and well-disposed as you are, you better just pre- 
pare to stay on here a while. That will certainly be better than 
flying all over heaven trying to catch a fish. And Fm not telling 
you this on their account: Fm thinking of you, and how fine it 
would be for the two of us to go on working here together." 

She caught her breath quickly, and then added: "All right. 
See you tomorrow. Don't dig your hoofs in the ground like a 
stubborn bull. Tliere's only one eye in my heart, and it isn't a 
shifty one. When there's anything I have to say, I say it 
right out." 


101 


Happy Boy’s left elbow hurt him very much, and for half the 
night he couldn’t sleep. Figuring the thing out from beginning 
to end, and counting all the sevens for sevens and all the eights 
for eights, he felt that Kao Ma had sound reason in what she 
said. Everything was false, and only money was true. He would 
save money to buy a rickshaw: he could not put the heat of his 
anger in a bowl and eat it for rice. When he had thought it all 
out that far, there came to him the spirit of a little peaceful 
sleep. 


8 



(lAA^* rickshaw repaired^ and didn't take 

^ f V Vthe cost out of Happy Boy's wages. Mrs. Ts'ao gave 
him two pills of 'Triple Yellow Precious Wax/' which will cure 
practically anything, but he didn't swallow them. He didn't say 
anything more about the matter of resigning. Kao Ma’s advice 
gained the ultimate victory in his mind, although for many days 
he could not get away from the uneasy feeling that he had not 
done quite right about it. After a few weeks had passed, how- 
ever, his life slipped back into its old groove, and very gradually 
he forgot the whole affair. 

All his old hopes began to put out their little buds again. 
During the times when he was free to sit alone in his room, his 
eyes would grow bright with the mental calculations he was mak- 
ing about the ways in which he would save money, and how he'd 
buy himself a rickshaw; his lips would be pursed with his mutter- 
ing, like a person with some slight sickness in his mind. His 
method of calculating was neither illustrious nor profound, but 
on his lips and in the center of his heart there was this constant 


102 



refrain; ''Six times six makes thirty-six/' These figures had no 
connection whatever with the sum of his money: it was only that 
this was the phrase of his ritual, and he repeated it over and over 
again. It was as if his heart could feel more replete because of it, 
or as if he were actually settling some account that someone had 
with him. 

For Kao Ma he had a proper respect, feeling that this woman 
had more pathways in her mind and more strength and ability 
than most men. In the things she said she tried to get right 
down to the roots of the matters of which she spoke. He didn't 
dare hunt her out to pass the time of day, but if he met her in 
the courtyard or at the doorway, and if she had the leisure to 
say a sentence or two, he was delighted to listen to her. He felt 
that even her least formal lectures were worth mulling over for 
half a day, so that whenever he ran into her he would smile his 
broad foolish smile to make her understand his respect for her 
wisdom. She, too, would be tickled by the happen-chance of 
their meeting and by his obvious regard for her, and even if she 
did not have the leisure to talk she would manage to get in a few 
words. 

But there was this to be said: when it came to plans for the 
management of money, he did not dare to smash recklessly for- 
ward following the principles she outlined for him. Her plan 
was one which from his point of view could not be regarded as 
bad, but it meant running a risk, however great or however small 
the risk might prove. He liked very much to hear her describe 
it, because it gave him a chance to get used to the mention of 
large sums of money: it opened up his heart and made it spa- 
cious, so that he felt like a wealthy man. On the question of 
putting her scheme into actual practice, he was still a follower of 
his old principle; never lightly loosen your grip on money, no 
matter how small the sum may be. 

There was no mistake about it: Kao Ma did in all truth have 
a plan. From the time she had become a widow, she had taken 

■^103,:, 



the little bit of money she could save each month and lent it 
out; if it was a dollar, she loaned a dollar, and if it was two 
dollars, she loaned two dollars. She loaned it to other servants 
or policemen of the second or third grade in rank or people who 
had small businesses. The rate of interest was at least three per 
cent for a month or less. People of that type were often so 
worried for the need of a single dollar that their eyes ground 
round and round like grindstones in their heads to find some 
way to get hold of it. If someone offered them that dollar with 
the demand that they promise to pay back two dollars instead of 
one, they would still be forced to reach out their hands and 
receive it. Except through means like these, they would never 
know what money looked like. All the money that they saw was 
covered with poison; they knew that if they accepted it, the very 
blood in their veins would be sucked dry, but they still had to 
take it. Anything that made it possible for them to draw just 
one more breath, they would have the courage to take. Their 
whole lives were no more than the desperate postponement 
from one short gasp to the next of that hour when even the 
strength to gasp would be gone. For them the evils of the day 
were sufficient; tomorrow would be time enough to think of 
tomorrow's troubles. 

Kao Ma herself, when her husband was alive, had suffered 
from the effects of this same kind of poison. Her husband would 
no sooner get drunk than he would come looking for her, and 
insist that he would not leave until she had given him a dollar. 
If she had no money, she would stand outside the gate of the 
house in which she happened to be employed, crying and curs- 
ing and making a drunken row until she had no other way out. 
No matter how much interest she had to pay, she had to borrow 
the dollar right away. From experiences like these she had 
learned this plan of hers. It was not that she sought revenge but 
rather that she accepted what had been done to her as proper 
and right, and saw no reason why she herself should not do 
: 104 



the same things to others. Since it meant the saving of many 
people from extremities of immediate need, it was almost to be 
considered a work of charity. When you had on one hand a 
person who had money and was willing to lend it, and on the 
other a person whose need for money wouldn't wait, it was like 
Chou Yii and Hwang Kai in the story of 'The Three King- 
doms." Chou struck his friend Hwang to prove to an enemy 
general that they were no longer friends; one was happy to 
strike and the other to be struck, so what could be wrong with 
it, whatever the bystanders thought? 

Being thus without any scruples of conscience so far as the 
principle of the thing went, Kao Ma could be a little sharp in 
its actual practice. She could not throw money into a stream just 
to see if it would float; when she said something she meant it. 
For a plan like this you had to have good eyes, you had to be 
resourceful, and you had to taste bitter where you spilled over 
or you would find yourself only feeding the falcons that the 
swindlers had flown, and be done out of every penny. 

She spent as much of her heart's blood in weighing the 
chances as did the manager of a bank, because she had to be 
even more cautious and prudent than a banker. Whether the 
capital is large or small, the principle is tlie same, and because 
ours is a capitalist society, it is like a tremendous sieve with 
the very finest netting: little by little the money drains from the 
top down; and the farther down it gets the less there is. At the 
same time the principle of the thing comes down too, but it is 
the same at the bottom as it is at the top, because it is a disem- 
bodied thing that is not like money, and does not have to fear 
the smallness of the holes in the sieve; it slips through anyway. 

Everybody said that Kao Ma was sharp and hard. She ad- 
mitted it herself. Her hardness and her sharpness had come from 
the long hammering and grinding of deep poverty. Whenever 
she thought of the distress she had known, and how even her 
own husband had been so lacking in either reason or affection 

105 ' 



toward her, she would only clench her teeth the more grimly. 
She could be very affable and kind, and she could be very sharp 
and bitter. She knew that that was the only way in which she 
could survive in this crooked world of ours. 

She urged Happy Boy to lend out his money too. Entirely 
out of the best intention toward him did she give him this 
advice, and if he were willing to follow it she would help him. 

'1 tell you. Happy Boy, as long as you keep it in your pocket, 
a penny is forever only a single penny: If you will let go of it, 
money will grow more money. There's no mistake about it. 
What are our eyes made for? You can take a good look to be 
sure of the borrower before you let any money out of your hand. 
Naturally you can't get a grip on the tail feathers of an eagle 
that's already shorn. But take a policeman, for instance. If when 
the time comes he doesn't pay the interest due on his money, or 
doesn't pay back the principal when he should, you just hunt up 
his police captain. One word and his job is finished. Do you 
think he'd dare! Find out clearly on what day they are paid, and 
then block all escape from the nest while you reach in to take 
out the eggs. Not return your money? That would be a new one. 
We can compare one to the ten that have gone before, and we 
need lend money only when we have some security for doing so. 
Just passing it out to anybody, and then feeling all over the 
ocean bottom to find a lost pot, what good would that be? You 
just listen to me, and I guarantee you won't go wrong." 

Happy Boy had no need of saying anything; his whole man- 
ner and attitude amply expressed his vast admiration of Kao Ma 
and the things she said. But when he got off to himself and fig- 
ured it all out, he still felt that to have the money in your hand 
was better than any other system. It was right to say that your 
money was dead, and had no way to multiply itself, but it was 
also trae that you couldn't lose it. He took the few dollars he 
had managed to save in the last few months— it was all in cash 
—into his fingers, and lightly and lovingly turned it about in his 

ao6 ' ' 


hands, putting it all first in one hand and then in the other, as 
softly as if he were afraid of the sounds the coins made striking 
against each other. They were so bright and shining, these silver 
coins, so full and rich and real, so worthy of regard: he felt more 
than ever that not for ten thousand urgings could he be got to 
release them, except only to buy himself a rickshaw. Each man 
has his own methods, and it was not necessarily fitting or ad- 
vantageous that he should follow those which were proper for 
Kao the amah. 

At one time he had worked in the household of a family by 
the name of Fang. The master himself and the whole family, 
from the biggest to the littlest, even including the servants, all 
had, each of them, one of the folding passbooks of the Postal 
Savings put out at the Post Office. The First Wife Fang had 
also exhorted Happy Boy: 

"It only takes a dollar to open a passbook. Why don't you get 
one? The proverb speaks well which says, "If always when there 
is sunlight you will think of the day when there may be no sun, 
you will never wish there was still time when tlie time is past.' 
You are so young now, and yet you will not take advantage of 
your youth and the fullness of your strength to save a few cop- 
pers? There are three hundred and sixty days in the year, and 
they cannot every one of them be bright and fair and with a big 
sun in the sky. This doesn't take any trouble, it's very trust- 
worthy, and moreover you get interest. At any time that you're 
pinched for money, you can draw a little out to use. How could 
it be more convenient than that? You go now and get an appli- 
cation blank, and if you can't write I'll help you fill it out. And 
that's altogether out of the goodness of my heart!" 

Happy Boy knew she was good-hearted, and he knew too 
that the cook, Wang the Sixth, together with the baby -amah, 
Ch'in Mah, both had passbooks, and he thought very seriously 
about trying it himself. But one day the Eldest Daughter Fang 
told him to go deposit ten dollars to her account. On the way 

i(yj 



there and back he studied the passbook very carefully. On the 
face of it were some characters and a little red seal. Hengl it 
wasn't much heavier than a handful of toilet paper. When he 
handed the money in, they just made a few more figures in the 
passbook and stamped another little seal mark opposite them. 
He felt that if this wasn't a swindle, it just had to be a swindle 
anyway. You took new white coins, as bright as fresh flowers, 
and turned them in through the gratings, and the only thing 
you got to show for them were the three strokes and five lines 
that some stranger with an easy pen slapped into a folding pass- 
book, and that was the end of the transaction! 

Happy Boy wasn't going to get caught in a cheat like that. 
He suspected that the Fang family and the Post Office had 
gone into this business together. He had felt all the time that 
the Post Office was just a commercial concern that had branches 
everywhere. Probably its firm name was very old, at least as old 
as the Auspicious Water Beetle or the Sign of the Wild Swan. 
The Fangs no doubt had a connection with this business, which 
explained why they were so enthusiastic in trying to drum up 
trade for it. And even if the actual facts were different from this, 
it was in the last analysis much better to have the cash in your 
hands than to have it in the passbook. Much better! The money 
in the passbook was no more than a few characters! 

Of the big banks and smaller banking houses he knew only 
that they were good places to go to find fares. Supposing that 
the policeman on the beat didn't forbid his parking his rickshaw 
at the bank entrance, he would be sure to pick up a passenger 
there. As to what it was they were all busy about doing inside 
the bank, he could make no clear guess. There was no mistake 
about the money part of it; in a place like this there was certain 
to be a very great deal of money, but he couldn't understand 
why people should come particularly to just such a place to put 
in their own money or to juggle with what others had put there. 
In any case it would be no easy thing for him to become in any 

108 



way connected with a bank, so why should he make his heart 
anxious thinking about it? 

Within the four walls of the city there were many, many 
things that he did not understand. In the teahouses he would 
listen to his friends discussing them, but they would only con- 
fuse him the more, and make him feel more stupid than before. 
Because each one would say something different from anyone 
else, and none of them would seem to him to be bringing the 
talk home or to have got the real point of the problem. He 
didn't want to listen to any more of it or to think any more 
about it. He knew that if you were going to carry out a robbery, 
the very best place to rob would be a bank; and since he had 
no desire to become a robber, the best thing for him to do 
would be to keep his own money firmly in his own hands, and 
not to concern himself with any of the rest of it. He felt that 
this was after all the most dependable and correct method. 

Kao Ma knew that Happy Boy's heart was red with his de- 
sire to buy a rickshaw and for that, too, she proposed a scheme. 

"'Happy Boy, I know you're not willing to let your money 
out at interest. But that would also be a way of buying your 
own rickshaw much sooner. If I were a man, and if I were a rick- 
shaw puller, I would have to pull my own rickshaw. I would pull 
my ovm cart and sing my own song, and in the ten thousand 
things I would ask for aid from no one. If I could be that way, 
I wouldn't trade my place with the magistrate of the district. 
Pulling a rickshaw is a bitter business, but if I were a man and 
I had my share of strength, I would be determined to be a rick- 
shaw puller, and I wouldn't go and be a policeman. For him it's 
always the same monotony, winter and summer; he must always 
stand there at his post in the street, and in a month he only 
makes a few dollars. He has no outside money and no freedom. 
Even if he decides on his own to grow himself a mustache, he 
gets fired for it. To tell you the straight truth, he hasn't the 
slightest chance of improving himself . 

109 



'^What I started to say was— yes, that's right, if you want to 
buy yourself a rickshaw in a hurry, Fll tell you a good way of 
doing it. Start a club with ten or more people— twenty at the 
most— in it, each one to pay in two dollars a mon"h. You could 
use the first month's collection — wouldn't you have almost forty 
dollars then right away? And no matter how little, you've al- 
ready got some money saved up. By adding one thing to an- 
other, you'd be able to get yourself a rickshaw to pull. A clear- 
cut, smart move! Then, when you had the rickshaw in your 
hands, you could change the club into a lottery association and 
you wouldn't have to pay any interest; and besides, it would be 
a very respectable thing and certain to suit your own ideas. If 
you really want to form a club, I will come into it as one mem- 
ber. And I guarantee I'm not talking nonsense, either. How 
about it?" 

In all truth this proposition made Happy Boy's heart beat 
faster. If he could really get together thirty or forty dollars, and 
add to that the thirty-odd dollars in Fourtli Master Liu's hands, 
together with the few dollars that he had now himself, would 
he not then have a little less than eighty dollars? Although that 
wouldn't be enough to buy him a rickshaw that was ten parts 
new, he could certainly manage one that was eight parts. Fur- 
thermore, if he went at it this way, he could go to Fourth Mas- 
ter Liu and get his money back. That would save its just lying 
in the old man's hands, like nothing on earth. And eight parts 
new would be eight parts new; good or bad, he could pull the 
rickshaw until he had a surplus and could change it for another. 

But where would he go to find these twenty people? And 
supposing he could collect them together, there was a matter 
of face involved. When he himself needed money he would 
form a club, but what of tomorrow when the other fellow 
needed money and came to ask him to join such a club? This 
business of forming clubs, in years and months as poor as these, 
could often as not slip away from you and fall apart, and your 


no 


money would be gone. The good son of Han seeks no man's 
aid; it was clear-cut then; if he were destined to buy a rickshaw, 
he would buy it, and not ask for help. 

Seeing that he was immovable, Kao Ma seriously thought of 
trying to whip him into action with sarcasm, but when she 
thought again of his simple and sincere and straightforward 
way, that had a kind of force of its own, she could not feel easy 
in her conscience about doing it. 

'Tou're certainly something!" she said. ''Why don't you herd 
pigs in the little side-lanes? You could go straight up and come 
straight back; that would be simple, too." 

Happy Boy didn't say anything but waited until Kao Ma 
had gone off, and then he silently nodded his head to himself, 
as if in recognition of the fact that his own plan for keeping a 
dead grip on his money was the only one worthy of respect. In 
his heart he was strangely elated. 

The weather was already that of the tenth lunar month, the 
first month of winter, and in the evening in the narrow lanes 
you could hear the hawkers calling out, "Selling chestnuts 
roasted in sugar," "Selling peanuts." There were other voices 

too, but they were lower and a little shamefaced and melan- 
choly, as if they were only doing an unpleasant thing that had 
to be done, saying: "Selling night pots, selling night pots." 

On the carrying poles of the night-pot sellers were also porce- 
lain containers made like gourds with a small opening in the 

top. Happy Boy bought one of the largest size. It was the first 
sale the hawker had made and he couldn't find enough change. 
Happy Boy's heart turned quickly in accommodation of this 
lack: his eye had been caught by the cutest little night pot in 
green porcelain, its color broad and deep, and with a pouting 
little mouth. "Don't bother about the change, I'll take one of 
these instead." 

When he had put away the porcelain gourd, he took the 
small green night pot into the inner rooms. 



“Has Little Master gone to sleep yet? I bought you a small 
plaything.” 

They were all in the act of watching Little Elegance— the 
Ts’ao family’s baby boy— being given a bath, and when they 
saw what the toy was that had just been given him they could 
not keep from smiling. Neither the mother nor father said any- 
thing. Probably they felt that although the gift itself was awk- 
ward, still Happy Boy’s idea had been a kind one, and that they 
should accept it on that account. Therefore they both turned 
their faces to him with smiles to express their thanks. 





Little Elegance was delighted with his toy, and forthwith 
began scooping up the water in his bath into the little pot. 
'This little teapot big mouth/' he observed, making his contri- 
bution to the proceedings. 

Everybody laughed even harder at that. Happy Boy straight- 
ened himself up, and because when he was really pleased about 
something he never knew what to do with himself, he walked 
out. He was very jubilant. To have everybody in the room turn- 
ing toward him with smiling faces, as if he were some very im- 
portant personage, was something he had never experienced 
before. He smiled a little to himself and then again brought out 
his few dollars and very lightly, a dollar at a time, dropped them 
through the narrow lips of the porcelain gourd. In his heart he 
was saying: 'This is more dependable than anything else! On 
the day when the sum is sufficient, on that day 111 throw this 
gourd against the wall and, pa jal therell be more dollars on the 
floor than there are tiles on the roofl" 

He decided definitely that he would never ask anyone to 
help him again. Even with Fourth Master Liu, as trustworthy 
as he was, in the end there were times when it became annoying 
and irritating. In the Fourth Master's hands the money would 
not be lost, but he was still a little uneasy in his mind about it. 
This thing called money was like a ring, it was always better 
on your own finger. The decision he came to made him happy, 
and he felt as he did when he tightened his belt so that his 
broad chest would be even more impressive and firm. 

Each day was colder now but Happy Boy did not seem to 
know it. In his heart he had a definite purpose, and on that ac- 
count the things around him had become bright and clear, and 
in that bright clarity he could not feel the cold. For the first 
time there was ice to be seen on the ground, and even the dust 
in the side roads was hard and frozen. Everywhere there was 
manifest a dry solidity; the color of the black earth had taken 
on the slightest tinge of yellow, as if all the moisture in it had 

. ■ ,113. ■„ 



been exhausted. Especially in the early hours^ when the dust 
that the big trucks raised was streaked with fine tliin strands of 
frost. In a while the edges of the small winds of the morning 
would cut through the clouds and blow them away from the 
sky, exposing the highest, bluest and gayest of heavens. Happy 
Boy liked to take his rickshaw out for a run before the sun rose. 
The cold wind would blow up his sleeves, making him shiver 
all over as if he had taken a cold shower, and making him want 
to sing, as a shower did. Sometimes a mad wind would rise and 
lash at him so hard that no breath could come out of his mouth, 
but he would put his head down, grit his teeth, and weave his 
way forward, like some great fish swimming against the current. 
The stronger the force of the wind, the stronger was the force 
of his resistance; it was as if he and the wind were making war 
on one another to the death. 

When a fierce gale laid hold of him and would not let him 
breathe, he would close his mouth for a long time and then 
belch as if he were a harpooned whale. But he would go forward 
as before, battling his way on; he was a giant that nothing could 
stop. There was not a muscle in his body that was not flexed 
and tense. He was like a green bug that the ants were attacking; 
his whole body shook with its resistance. 

And the sweat that covered him! When he had put his rick- 
shaw down, and had had a chance to blow out the air in his 
lungs and to wipe away the yellow dust from the corners of his 
mouth, he straightened himself up, proud in the belief that he 
had no equal anywhere. He watched the wind, carrying ashes . 
and gravel along with it, sweep across before him, and gravely 
nodded his head. The wind bent the trees along the roadside 
until they looked like bows; it took the cloth shop signs with 
their red symbols showing what the store sold and tore them 
into shreds; it ripped all the handbills posted on the walls clean 
away; it covered the very face of the sun itself with clouds; it 
sang, it shouted, it moaned; it turned back upon itself in a vast 


and reckless swirl, and then as suddenly charged straight for- 
ward like a disembodied spirit driven mad by fright that will 
rend the heavens and split the earth in the agony of its flight. 
Abruptly then it seemed to become confused and to be running 
amok in every direction at once; it was an evil demon seeking 
only to know how best to harm the most; recklessly it swept 
crosswise taking advantage of the unpreparedness against this 
flanking movement to attack everything on the ground, to twist 
off the branches of trees, to carry away the tiles from the roofs, 
and to snap the telephone wires in two. 

But Happy Boy only stood there watching. He had just come 
from out of the wind, and it had been unable to do him any 
harm. The victor had been Happy Boy! And when he met with" 
a favorable wind, he had to do nothing more than take a firm 
hold on the handles of his rickshaw, and he would not have to 
spend his strength in mnning; the wind itself was capable of 
turning the wheels around for him like a good friend. 

Naturally he was not blind, and of necessity he had seen the 
old and feeble rickshaw men. A little breeze would go through 
the clothes they wore, and a real gust of wind could tear them 
apart. With torn clothing and feet wrapped up in God knows 
what odds and ends of cloth, they would stand shivering, at the 
street entrances, their eyes watering like a thief s. If a person 
appeared on the street, no matter from where, tliey would 
scramble and fight to be the first to ask him, "'Rickshaw?'' 
When they got a fare they warmed up a little, and the sweat 
would show through their torn and thin clothing. Once they 
stopped, the perspiration would freeze on their backs. If they^ 
ran into a wind, they would be unable even to lift their feet, 
but they would try with all the life left in them to drag their 
rickshaw along behind them. When the wind smashed down 
on them they did their best to hide their heads in their chests; 
when it drove up from under them, their feet would be unable 
to find the ground. When it came directly at them, they could 



not hold out a hand lest their arm fly up like a kite; if it came 
from behind them, they no longer had any means of controlling 
either the rickshaw or themselves. But they would exhaust every 
possible way, use to its very last all the strength and breath in 
their bodies, drag along half dead and half alive, until finally 
they had got their fare to his address. It would be for a few 
coppers that they had done all this— for a few coppers that they 
had smashed and poured away their own lives. 

In a trip like that, the dust and dirt blown into their faces 
would have been turned into mud by the sweat, and would 
cover them like paste, so that there would be only three holes 
in the mask— their eyes and mouth, all of them red with cold. 
The days of winter are so short and cold that there are not many 
people on the streets. They could follow this bitter road for a 
whole day and not be sure that at the end of it they would have 
earned enough even to buy one good meal. But the old in years 
would have an old woman and children at home; the young 
would have parents and brothers and sisters. In the winter time 
they were altogether and completely in a hell of their own. They 
were worse off than a ghost for the breath of life that they drew, 
and at the same time they lacked its leisure and freedom. A 
devil did not have to wear himself out as they did! Like the 
homeless cur that dies at the street corner, death brings them 
closer to comfort and nearer to peace than they have ever been 
before. And according to what people say, a poor devil who 
freezes to death dies with a smile on his face. 

How could Happy Boy have failed to see people like that? 
But he didn't have the time to be anxious about them or to 
meditate on their fate. Their sin was his own, except that he 
was in the strongest years of his youth, and could stand hard- 
ship, was not afraid of the cold or the wind, had a clean place 
to sleep in the evening, a clean gown to wear during the day; 
but because of these differences he felt that he could not be 
mentioned in the same breath with the others. Although they 

116 



and he were now together in bearing hardship, yet the degree 
of the hardship they bore was not precisely the same. He was 
suffering less now, and he hoped in the future to be able to 
escape their fate. He thought that when he himself was old, 
he would never be pulling a broken-down rickshaw, hungry and 
cold. He had faith that his present excellence was a guarantee 
of his future victory. 

It was the same with him and those others as it was with the 
chauffeurs whom he occasionally met outside of hotels or pri- 
vate homes. They were unwilling to fall into conversation with 
him, because they felt that any intercourse they might have with 
a rickshaw man would be injurious to their station in life and 
their position in society. Their attitude toward rickshaw men 
had a good deal in common with Happy Boy's attitude toward 
these aged and broken-down soldiers of his craft. They were in 
the same inferno, but bore different grades in it. They would 
never have thought of joining together, but tried each to walk 
his own road alone, blinded by his hope and by the energy with 
which he sought to improve his own lot. Each thought that 
empty-handed he could set about establishing his family and 
setting up his trade. Each sought in the darkness to feel his 
own way. Happy Boy thought of no one else, and paid heed to 
no one else; he thought only of his own money and future success. 

Slowly the streets took on the air of the year's ending. In 
clear bright weather, during the times that there was no wind, 
the roadways blossomed in color for all the dry cold of winter. 
New Year paintings, gauze lanterns, tall wax candles of red and 
white, colored flowers of silk for women to wear in their hair, 
big and little likenesses of the Heavenly Messenger who bears 
reports on earthly happenings to the Throne of God, with his 
lips smeared with honey so that he would say nothing but sweet 
things about the members of the household where his likeness 
was hung — all these were arrayed before the shop fronts, mak- 
ing the hearts of men happy. 


117 



But this feeling was mixed with not a little disquietude, for 
the reason that everyone, no matter who he was, looked forward 
to the few days of merrymaking at New Year's time, and yet for 
each of them there were bound to be difEculties, great or small. 
Happy Boy's eyes grew brighter at the sight of the New Year's 
goods along the street; he thought of the presents the Ts'ao 
family would be sure to make, and how for each one he deliv- 
ered there would be a twenty or thirty cent tip for him. And the 
New Year's cumshaw was already set at two dollars. That was 
not much, but when people came to extend their New Year's 
greetings to his master, he would take them back in his rick- 
shaw, and for each such trip he would again receive two or three 
dimes. Put all that together and it would be a sizeable sum. He 
wasn't afraid of small amounts so long as they kept coming 
into his hands, Plis porcelain gourd was not capable of cheating 
anyone. Late at night when his work was done he would sit with 
his soul in his eyes staring at this little clay friend of his, that 
could eat money but did not want to spit any of it out again, 
and in a low voice he would exhort it, ''Eat more and more, fel- 
low worker; eat more and more! On the day when you've had 
enough. I'll be all right too." 

The time of the New Year's Festival grew closer and closer. 
In one short turn of the hours it was already the eighth day of 
the twelfth lunar month, the day on which the thin gruel is 
eaten. By the pleasures that they anticipated or the fears that 
crowded them, people were forced to make their plans and to 
put their affairs in order. 

There were still twenty-four hours in every day, but these 
few days were not like those that had gone before it; they would 
not permit you to pass them in any way convenient to yourself, 
but required that you be busy with something, something which 
looked toward the coming of the New Year. It was as if Time 
had suddenly become conscious of himself, had acquired emo- 
tions, was forcing people to follow him in their thinking and 
irs: 



to follow him, as well, in all their flurried scurrying about. 
Happy Boy stood on the side of the delighted; the bustling life 
in the streets, the sound of the hawkers calling their wares, the 
anticipated cumshaw at festival time, the New Year's vacation, 
the image of all the good things he would have to eat, all these 
things made him as happy and as full of hope and anticipation 
as a little child. 

He had it all thought out, how he would break out eighty 
cents or a dollar to buy some small New Year's gift for Fourth 
Master Liu and take it to him. "'The present is a trifle, but the 
gesture of giving is freighted with love." He just had to take 
him a little something: in the first place, to make his amends 
for not having gone to see the old fellow in so many days, on 
account of his being so busy at the Ts'ao household; and, in the 
second place, because it would afford him an opportunity to 
collect the thirty-odd dollars that were being held for him. If 
by spending less than a dollar he could get back that sum of 
money, it would be well worth it. With this figured out, he 
picked up his gourd and shook it ever so lightly, trying to 
imagine how much more full and beautiful the sound would be 
when he had added the thirty-odd dollars. It was a fact: once 
he had gotten that money back, there would be notliing about 
which his heart need be uneasy. 

On one such evening, just as he was lightly shaking his 
bowl that collected precious things, Kao Ma called out to him: 

"Happy Boy, there's a girl at the gate looking for you. I just 
happened to run into her on the street as I was coming back, 
and she asked most particularly after you," 

When Happy Boy came out Kao Ma added in a low voice: 
"She looks like a great black pagoda—she's enough to frighten 
anybody." 

Happy Boy's face suddenly grew as red as if it were wrapped 
in flame. He knew now that the whole affair had spoiled and 
would turn rotten! 




APPY BOY had hardly the strength to step across the 
L/v threshold. His head swam with befuddlement and his 
feet had not yet managed to get over the raised boarding at the 
bottom of the outer door, but already he had seen Tiger Girl 
under the street lamp. She had probably powdered her face 
again; the light made her skin look gray-green, like a black and 
withered leaf coated with frost. In simple truth. Happy Boy was 
afraid to look her in the eye. 

The expression on Tiger GirPs face was very complex: in her 
eyes there was something of the light of an ardent longing to 
see him; her lips, though, were parted a little, tracing a cold 
smile; her nose was raised up in wrinkles which enfolded within 
them the haughtiest suggestion that of course the whole thing 
involved a condescension that she well realized was hardly fit- 
ting for one in her high station. Her eyebrows stuck up at sharp 
angles, and through its fantastic coat of white powder her face 
revealed an almost evil seductiveness combined with a grim de- 
termination to accomplish her purpose, no matter how destruc- 
tive it might prove. 

When she saw Happy Boy coming out, her lips pouted a 
little and all the varied expressions of spirit and feeling in her 
face sought in vain for some adequate precipitant. She swal- 
lowed a mouthful of saliva, and, as if she had succeeded in 
reducing her complex feelings and emotions to order, she man- 
aged to assume something of the worldly and nonchalant air 
she had learned from the Fourth Master. Half teasing and half 


120 



smiling, pretending the while that none of this mattered very 
much, she said jestingly: 

'Touhe a good one, though! I take a roll of meat and beat 
the dog with it, and still he runs away from me and won't come 
backl" Her voice was shrill and loud, the same as it was when 
she was wrangling with the rickshaw men back at the shed. 
When she had finished speaking, the half-smile disappeared 
from her face, and suddenly she seemed to feel a kind of shame 
at her own cheapness. She bit her lip. 

''Don't shout!" It was as if Happy Boy had brought all the 
strength of his body to his lips to explode these two words. 
They were low in sound but very strong. 

"Hengl I should be afraid!" Her smile was evil, but involun- 
tarily she lowered a little the tone of her voice. "No wonder 
you've been avoiding me — sure enough you've got a sweet little 
fairy-fox of an amah here. I knew a long time ago that you were 
no toy for a child to play with. You don't fool anybody looking 
like a big simpleton with your coarse black face. A Tartar dan- 
gling a pipe, pretending to be stupid when you're not stupid at 
all!" Her voice was growing loud again. 

"Don't shout!" Happy Boy was only afraid that Kao Ma 
might be eavesdropping from behind the door. "Don't shout. 
Come over here!" As he spoke he walked over toward the road. 

"It doesn't matter to me where I am, I'm not afraid. My voice 
is naturally loud and that's all there is to it." On her lips there 
was opposition, but she walked across after him. 

When they had crossed the highway and had come a little 
way up the street to the east and were close to the red wall that 
surrounded the public park. Happy Boy— -he had not forgotten 
the customs of the village-squatted down on his haunches. 

"Why did you come?" 

"Me? Heng! There's reason enough!" Her left hand was stuck 
in her waistband, over a stomach that curved out like a bow. 
Her head drooping a little, she looked at him out of one eye 


121 



and thought a while, as if suddenly her heart felt compassion 
for him, pitied him. ''Happy Boy, I came looking for you about 
a matter, an important matter.'’ 

The low gentle sound of the words "Happy Boy" dissipated 
much of his anger. He raised his head to look at her. There was 
still nothing about her that you could love, but the sound of 
that "Happy Boy" still echoed faintly in his heart with a soft 
intimacy, as if somewhere he had heard the words spoken in 
that tone before, as if they tugged at a bond of affection tliat he 
could not deny and would find hard to break however much he 
might wish to break it. His voice was still low but warmer and 
more friendly. 

"What matter are you talking about?" 

"Happy Boy," she said, pressing closer to him, "Fve got—" 

"You've got what?" 

"This!" She pointed to her stomach. "Tell me what you want 
me to do about it." 

He put his hands to his head, and made one sound— "Ahl" 
Suddenly he understood everything. Ten thousand things he 
had never thought of before all rushed in on his consciousness, 
coming in such numbers and with such haste and such con- 
fusion that in a violent upheaval of its own his heart became a 
block of white emptiness, like a moving picture screen when 
suddenly the film breaks in two. The street was extraordinarily 
quiet and deserted. In the heavens gray clouds covered the 
moon, and over the ground there moved from time to time a 
little breeze, shaking the dead branches and their withered 
leaves. From some place far away there came the sharp-edged 
sound of a cat wailing. 

Happy Boy's heart had come from confusion to emptiness; 
he did not even hear these sounds around him. His chin in his 
hand, he sat stupidly staring at the ground before him, staring 
at it so hard that it seemed as if it were about to move. He could 
not think of anything and did not want to think of anything; 


122 



lie only felt smaller and smaller, and yet he could not draw him- 
self back entirely into the ground. His whole life stood now just 
on this one moment that was so hard to bear. Of anything be- 
yond that there was nothing at all. It was not until now that 
he knew how cold it was: even his lips were trembling. 

''Don't just squat there, say something! Get up!" She, too, 
seemed to have felt the cold and wanted to walk a few steps. 

He could not stand the heavy sarcasm of her voice, and 
got up, following her as she walked off in a northerly direction. 
He could still find nothing to say. His whole body had sud- 
denly turned numb, like a drunk who has just been frozen into 
soberness by the cold. 

"You have no plan?" She let her glance run over Happy Boy, 
in her eyes an expression of her fondness for him. 

There was nothing that he could say. 

"When the twenty-seventh comes around, the old man will 
have a birthday. You pay us a visit." 

"Too busy. That's just before New Year's." Even in the utter- 
most confusion in his heart. Happy Boy could not forget his 
own affairs. 

"I know the kind of a little rascal you are— you'll take the hard 
but not the soft— talking nicely to you is just a waste of time." 
Her voice had got loud and shrill again, and the cold solitude of 
the street made the words that she was saying sound excep- 
tionally clear. In Happy Boy's ears they were a maddening 
scream, 

"You think I'm afraid or what?" she asked. "What do you 
think you're going to do? If you don't want to listen to what 
I'm telling you. I've got no leisure to spend wasting my spittle 
in playing about with you. If you want it that way. I'm perfectly 
capable of blocking the door of the house where you work and 
cursing you out for three days and three nights. Wherever you 
go I can find you. I'm not going to be stopped by any arguments 
about right or wrong or who was at fault to begin with." 


123 



'^Could you do without shouting?'' Happy Boy stepped away 
from her, 

'If you were afraid of my making a noise, you shouldn't have 
come around trying to get something for nothing in the first 
place. You've got tired of the flavor, and you want me to carry 
the black pot all alone. Why don't you pull back the skin on 
your dead jeebah and take a look at me out of your one eye, 
take a look at who you're dealing with." 

"Take your time, and say what you want to say. I'll listen." 
In the beginning, Happy Boy had felt very cold, but with Tiger 
Girl's imprecations he had suddenly become hot all over. The 
heat opened the pores on his skin that had been benumbed with 
cold, and his whole body began to itch. On his head, particu- 
larly, these stabbing little prickles that cried to be scratched 
were almost unbearable. 

"This thing isn't going to end here, and there's no use making 
it any more uncomfortable for yourself than you have to." She 
parted her lips in what was meant to be a smile, showing the 
tiger fangs. "You mustn't be so darkly suspicious. I'm truly very 
fond of you. And don't forget what's good for you, either! You 
won't get any good out of making your neck stiff like a bull's, 
I'm telling you." 

"There's no—" Happy Boy wanted to say, "There's no use 
slapping me once and then patting me three times," but he 
couldn't think of the whole phrase. When it came to the smart 
slang of Peking, he knew quite a bit of it, only he wasn't facile 
in speaking it. If somebody else used it, he could understand; 
it was just that he couldn't quite get it out himself. 

"There's no what?" Tiger Girl demanded. 

"You go ahead and say what you were going to." 

"I'll tell you a scheme." Tiger Girl took a firm position di- 
rectly in front of him, sticking her face into his. "See here. If 
you got a go-between to ask the old man to give me to you in 
the regular formal way like everybody else does, he would cer- 
124 . / 



tainly refuse. He’s an owner of rickshaws, and you’re only a 
rickshaw puller, and he wouldn’t be willing to go beneath his 
own social station to find a son-in-law. For myself, I don’t care 
anything about that. I like you and that’s good enough for me 
— why should I give a mother’s for any of the rest of it? 

"No matter who spoke for me it would be the same. When 
anybody comes to the old man to talk about my marriage, he 
thinks right away that they’re calculating on getting hold of 
those several tens of rickshaws of his. He’s turned down suitors 
higher in station than you are. So I made up my mind that this 
matter was one that I’d have to manage myself, and I picked 
you out. We went about it like the executioner who first cuts 
off the prisoner’s head and then memorializes the throne asking 
for permission to sentence him to death. Anyhow, whatever 
way you look at it now, ‘the joy is already in me,’ and neither of 
us can run away from the other now. 


125 



''But it would still not do for us to walk right into the main 
hall of the house and say all this. The old man gets more and 
more stupid all the time. If he got wind of the two of us, he's 
perfectly capable of taking a young wife to himself and running 
me out. The old man is as strong as a staff— don't think that 
just because he's almost seventy he wouldn't do it. If he really 
took a wife, well, I don't dare say more than this: I guarantee 
he could manipulate two or three children out of her, believe 
it or not." 

"Let's move along while we're talking." Happy Boy had no- 
ticed that the policeman on the beat had walked over toward 
them several times. 

"We'll talk right here. Who can stop us?" Following Happy 
Boy's eyes, she too noticed the policeman. "You're not pulling 
your rickshaw— why should you be afraid of him? Do you think 
that without any reason or excuse at all he could still bite any- 
body's jeebah off? That would really show him up as a vicious 
actor. Let's go ahead with what we were saying and pay no 
attention to him. 

"See here, this is what I think. When the twenty-seventh— 
that's the old man's birthday— comes around, you go and kow- 
tow three times to him. Then when New Year's Day comes, you 
call on him again to wish him a happy new year. That will 
soften him, and when I see he's in good spirits, I'll bring on 
some wine and have him drink enough to make him happy. 
When he's seven or eight parts drunk, you can come right out 
and tell him that you take him to be your foster father. 

"Then, after several days, I can gradually let him know that 
my body has this inconvenience. He's bound to question me 
very closely, and I'll act like the official of old who was brought 
as a prisoner into the camp of the great General Ts'ao. At first 
I will be unwilling to say anything at all. I'll wait until he gets in 
a real frenzy about it before I mention anyone's name. Then 
ni tell him that it was Chiao Two, who just recently died— he 
126 


was the manager of the cofhn-storage room to the east of us. 
He didn't leave a single living relative, and they've already 
buried him in the potter's field outside the Straight East Gate. 
Wliere could the old man go to search out the truth of that? 

'"He won't know what to do, and we can gradually stir the 
breezes a little with the thought that the best thing would be 
to give me to you. To begin with, you would be his foster son, 
and from that to becoming his son-in-law wouldn't make a great 
difference. We could propel the boat along as the currents 
favored us, and so save a nasty situation for all of us. Tell me, 
have I thought the thing out well or not?" 

Happy Boy said not a word. 

Feeling that she had come to the end of the chapter in what 
she had been saying, Tiger Girl started walking away toward 
the north, her head lowered a little and seeming to be flavoring 
with a critic's appreciation the way she had spoken her part. It 
was also as if she were giving Happy Boy an opportunity to 
ponder the meaning of what she had told him. 

Just then the winds blew open a little crack in the gray 
clouds, letting the moonlight through. The two of tiiem had 
already reached the northern end of the street. The waters of 
the Grand Canal had early frozen over, and the shining gray 
ribbon of its course followed through the night the ancient 
battleihents of the Forbidden City, offering them always its 
poised and sure support. There was not the slightest sound from 
within the city walls, and the gem-like watchtower rising above 
them, the gold and jade-stone archway, the great red portals, 
and the Pagoda on the Mountain of the Beautiful Vista all 
seemed to be waiting breathless in the bright moonlight to 
catch the echo of some heavenly voice that would never speak 
again. A little wind blew fragilely across the walls, moving ever 
so lightly through the halls and pavilions of the Forbidden City 
as if it thought to tell some tale of long ago that still should 
not be overheard. 


127 


Tiger Girl walked in a westerly direction, and Happy Boy 
followed along witli her to the Jade Pillar surmounted by the 
Golden Turtle. On the marble bridge there were no passers-by, 
and the obscure clarity of the night’s brightness made the wide 
stretches of ice on either side shimmer with a desolate coldness 
that told the wanderer how as long as he lived in the world he 
would always be alone. It made Happy Boy shiver, and he didn’t 
want to go any farther. 

Ordinarily when he pulled his rickshaw over this bridge, 
all his energy would be in his feet, for fear of slipping, and he 
would have paid no attention whatever to anything to the right 
or the left of him. Now he was free to look about him, but in 
the center of his heart he felt that there was something fearful 
about all this beauty: the ashen cold ice, the shadows of the 
trees that moved ever so slightly, the sad empty whiteness of 
the tall pagoda were all so intensely lonely that Happy Boy was 
terrified lest they should suddenly shriek at him or make some 
mad lunge toward him. Even the bridge on which he stood was 
extraordinarily remote and unreal in its whiteness; the street 
lamps at eitlier end of it were mournful in their light. He did 
not want to go any further or look any more and of all things he 
wanted least to be with Tiger Girl. He knew what he truly 
wanted to do; he wanted to jump off the bridge, right now, head 
first, break through the ice, and be frozen into it, like some 
great dead fish. 

Suddenly he swung around. "'See you tomorrow,” he said, 
walking rapidly away. 

"Happy Boy! We’ll do it that way— see you on the twenty- 
seventh!” She called it to his broad back. With the sentence 
said, she glanced up at the White Pagoda, sighed, and walked 
off in a westerly direction. 

Happy Boy did not even turn his head. He felt as if there 
was a devil at his side, and as he stumbled confusedly down to 
the guard wall he almost ran into it. He had been there, wooden 

128 



and motionless, for a while when he heard a voice calling to 
him from the bridge. ''Happy Boy, Happy Boy, come here.'' It 
was Tiger Girl's voice again. 

Very slowly he moved a couple of paces toward the bridge, 
and Tiger Girl came down to meet him, her body bent forward 
a little and her lips parted. "I say. Happy Boy, come here— I've 
something to give you." Before he could take two more steps 
she was standing in front of him. "I'm giving this to you— the 
thirty-odd dollars that you saved. There was some change too, 
but I've added enough to it to make it a round sum. Here it is. 
I'm not doing this for anything but to show you my heart. I 
think about you, and feel for you and try to protect you. There's 
no use saying the rest, only you mustn't forget favors that are 
done you, or turn your back on a good intent. Take it, and be 
careful of it. If you lose it you can't blame me." 

Happy Boy took the money — a stack of bills — and stood 
there vacantly, unable to think of anything to say. 

"Good enough. We'll meet on the twenty-seventh— if you 
don't meet me we'll still not part." She smiled at him. "It's 
you that's getting the best end of the bargain. You just calculate 
the whole thing carefully." She turned about and walked away. 

He fumbled with the money and looked stupidly after her 
until the bridge hid her head from view. The moon was covered 
again by the gray clouds; the street lights were brighter than 
ever; and the bridge was abnormally white and empty and cold. 
He wheeled quickly away. It was as though it had frozen his 
mind: when he was already at his house gate, the shadow of that 
cold, sad, comfortless bridge was still just over his shoulder, as 
if by just blinking his eyes he would be back there again. 

When he was back at last in his own room, he counted the 
bills. He counted them all over three times, and the perspiration 
from his hands was making the bills sticky, but still he could not 
get the same count twice. When finally the number came out 
right, he put the bills in his gourd and sat on the side of his bed 
' ' '' 



staring at the little vessel of porcelain. He did not intend to try 
to think anything out; he had money now, and when you had 
money there was always a way. He had complete confidence that 
this little bank would solve all his problems. It wasn't necessary 
for him to fret himself trying to think any more. The Grand 
Canal, the Mountain of the Beautiful Vista, the White Pagoda, 
the bridge, Tiger Girl, her big stomach— they were all a dream; 
when he awoke from the dream, his china bank would have 
thirty-seven more dollars in it. That was real. 

Wlien he had looked long enough at the gourd he hid it 
away, and thought he would get a good long sleep. Your troubles 
might be as big as the heavens, and still you could sleep through 
them. Tomorrow would be time enough to speak of them again. 

He lay down but couldn't close his eyes. The things that 
had happened were like a nest of hornets— you come out and 
I'll go in— and each one of them with a sting in its tail. 

He was unwilling to think, and the awful truth was— there 
was nothing more to think about. Tiger Girl had blocked every 
road, and there was no way of escape left to him. 

The very best way would be for him to pick up his feet and 
leave. But Happy Boy couldn't leave. Even if you told him that 
if he stayed he'd have to stand guard over the ''Northern Sea" 
and the White Pagoda, he would still be happy to do that rather 
than go back to his village. Go to another city? He could not 
think of any place in the world that compared with Peking. He 
could not leave. He wanted to die in Peking. 

Since he did not want to leave, there was no use wasting his 
energj^ thinking on the rest. If Tiger Girl told him he had to 
come, he had to come. If he did not follow her road, she was 
truly capable of making a terrible uproar about the whole thing. 
As long as he was in Peking, she could hunt him down. With 
her, to tell the truth, there was no use thinking of slipping out 
of anything. If you angered her, she might even bring Fourth 
Master Liu into it, and if he hired the services of a man or two 


—there wasn’t much use in dwelling on it — in any secluded 
spot they chose they could take Happy Boy’s life. 

Thinking over from the beginning to the end what the Tiger 
Girl had said, Happy Boy felt as though he had fallen into a 
trap, and that both his arms and legs had been pinned down by 
the steel spring of it, leaving him absolutely no chance of get- 
ting away. He lacked the ability to criticize her proposals one 
by one, and he could therefore find no crack in her armor. He 
could only see with sickly certainty that the net she spread was 
one which would be the end of himself and his line. A fish an 
inch long would never have been able to slip out of it. 

Since he could not think minutely of each individual point 
in her plot against him, he had no way but to see it all as one 
large whole that pressed him down like a thousand pounds of 
stone piled on his back, or like a giant stone crusher coming 
down with immense force on the top of his head. Beat down 
by this oppression which he had no means to resist. Happy Boy 
felt that the fortunes of a rickshaw man throughout the span 
of his life could be completely expressed in two words—hard 
luck. A rickshaw man, just by reason of the fact that he was a 
rickshaw man, should think of nothing but pulling a rickshaw, 
and not do anything at all out of the way. He shouldn’t even 
try putting a little glue into a woman: you do it once, and you’ve 
committed a crime as vast as the heavens. Fourth Master Liu 
relied on his ownership of a few tens of rickshaws, and the 
Tiger Girl on her possession of a stinking glue-snatcher, to 
swindle him, to cheat him out of everything that he really held 
close to himself. 

There was no use thinking about it in detail. Suppose he de- 
cided to accept his fate; well then, he could go and knock his 
head on the ground and call Fourth Master his foster father, 
and afterwards wait for the time to receive in marriage that 
stinking monstrosity, that she-<ievil he hated and despised. If 
he did not accept this fate, then destiny would be ripped down 

131 



the middle for him: he had to choose between accepting de- 
struction or being destroyed. 

When he had thought to this point, he put the Tiger Girl 
and the words she had spoken to one side. No, it was not that 
she was so hard and cruel but that this was the fate ordained for 
a rickshaw man. He was like a dog: of necessity it must expect 
to be beaten and abused. Even the little children around it 
would sometimes without any reason or cause at all beat it with 
sticks. A life-destiny like that, what was the use of it? Why 
should he try to keep it? If it was to crash, then let it crash. 

He could not sleep, and with one foot he kicked away the 
covers and then sat up. He made up his mind to get some wine 
and drink until he was as drunk as he could be. Then all this 
whole affair, and whatever you call custom and the rules of be- 
havior— your grandmother's! Get drunk! Sleep! The twenty- 
seventh? He wouldn't knock his head on the ground on the 
twenty-seventh or the twenty-eighth or any time at all for any- 
body at all. Then we'll see who thinks they can take Happy 
Boy and by what means. 

Quickly he threw his gown around him, picked up the big 
bowl that he used as a tea cup, and ran out. 

The wind was even higher than it had been, and the gray 
clouds that had covered the night were all blown aside. Tlie 
moon was small and far away, indifferently shedding its bitter 
cold light. Happy Boy had just climbed out from his warm 
covers, and the chill made him draw his breath sharply. There 
wasn't a single pedestrian on the street, and there were only 
two or three rickshaws at the side of the road, their pullers 
standing close to them stamping their feet up and down and 
covering their ears with their hands to keep warm. 

In one breath Happy Boy raced down to the little store on 
the south corner. To hold in the warm air, the store had al- 
ready put up its shutters and barred its doors, but you could 
pay in your money and get what you wanted to buy through a 
; 132 ■ 


tiny peek-hole window that the proprietor slid open to look out 
at you when you knocked. Happy Boy bought four catties of 
bygar and three big coppers' worth of peanuts. Carefully balanc- 
ing the wine bowl, not daring to run, but slithering along rap- 
idly without lifting his feet, like the men who carry a sedan 
chair, he got back once more to his room and hurried as fast as 
he could to get back under his covers. His teeth were chattering^, 
and he didn't want to sit up again. 

The wine on the table filled the room with a sharp pungent 
odor that he didn't like, and he -didn't have it in his heart to- 
touch even the peanuts. The few moments in the winter air 
had been like cold water thrown in his face to awaken him. He 
was reluctant to stretch out his arm from under the covers, nor 
was his heart any more so consumed with fire. 

After he had been lying there for a long time his eye caught 
sight again of the bowl of wine on the table by the bedside. No, 
he could not destroy himself just because he had got a little 
tangled up in that other mess. He could not on that account 
break his resolution never to drink wine. The business was in all 
truth a hard one to handle but there was certain to be some 
little crack through which he could squirm. Even if it were true 
that there was absolutely no way of escaping, it was still not 
proper for him to take himself out beforehand and roll himself 
around in a mudhole. He must open his eyes and see as clearly 
as he could how it had been that he had after all allowed him- 
self to be pushed down to where he was now. 

He put out the light and pulled the covers up over his head. 
He figured that that way he could go to sleep. But still he could 
not sleep. Pulling the covers back, he looked out. The moon- 
light in the courtyard was turning dark on the paper panes of 
his window, as if it would soon be daylight. The tip of his nose 
felt the chill of his freezing room, the cold air bearing within it 
the faint odor of wine. Suddenly he sat up, reached out for the 
wine bowl, and drank it dry in one long gulp. 


133 





1 



% 10 


FIGHTING cricket that has lost one of its big legs in 
O'v combat still thinks to crawl on the little legs that are 
left it. Happy Boy was exactly like a cricket or any other living 
thing when it has been grievously wounded and knows there is 
nothing that can help it but still seeks with pitiful tenacity itself 
to mend the wound. He had no clear program but thought only 
of somehow getting slowly through one day after the other, of 
bearing as well as he could each period of pain the passing days 
brought to him. He would not hold before himself any distant 
objective but would be content to reach each day the stage to 
which this crawling pace would bring him. For him there could 
be no more thought of the strong leaping stride, of the fine far 
hop up into the air, than there could be for the legless cricket, 
once so brave. 

There were still some ten days till the twenty-seventh but his 
whole attention was now completely concentrated on that one 
day. In his heart he thought of nothing else; his muttering lips 
endlessly formed the words; and all his dreams were about the 
twenty-seventh. It seemed that if he could just get through that 
one fatal day he would have a solution for his difficulties. But 
in this thought, too, he knew he was only cheating himself. 

Sometimes his mind went out into the distances. Suppose 
he should take the few tens of dollars that he had in his hands 
and go to Tientsin? When he got there he might just strike it 
lucky and be able to change his trade and never have to pull a 
rickshaw again. Could Tiger Girl chase after him all the way to 

134 ; 



Tientsin? In liis heart it seemed that all places that you have 
to take a train to get to are of necessity very far away/ and he 
knew that no matter what happened she would never be able 
to follow him that far. 

He thought that was a fine idea, but to be honest with him" 
self he had to admit that the scheme was only one which could 
be followed in a great extremity; if any chance remained of his 
staying in Peking he wanted to do so. In this manner he came 
again to think of the twenty-seventh; thinking only of the things 
immediately before you was still the simplest and easiest way. If 
he could just get somehow through this one narrow pass, he 
could probably plunge through the whole affair without having 
to make any change in the larger position. Even if it would not 
be possible by this method to make a clean sharp break and 
shed himself of the involvement, get clear of it entirely, still in 
the last analysis a stage passed was a stage over. 

But how would he get through this stage? He had two plans. 
One was not to pay any attention to her business and simply 
not go there to visit the old man on his birthday. The other one 
was to do what she had told him to do. Although these two 
plans were not alike, they would in the end bring about the 
same result. If he did not go, she would certainly be incapable 
of allowing the thing to come to a good and generous ending, 
or of reaching some kind and gracious agreement about it; if 
he did go, she would still not pardon him from the punishment 
she had determined should be his. 

He could still remember how, when he had first begun to 
pull a rickshaw, he had tried to copy the other pullers, and 
whenever he saw a narrow side street he would turn down into 
it in order to take every possible short cut. Once when he was 
doing this he got by mistake into the Lane of the Laid Trap; 
the more it twisted the further he was from where he wanted 
to go, and when finally he came to the end of it he was just 
where he had started from. Now he was back again in just such 



a Barrow side street: whichever direction he turned, he came 
out in the end at the same place. 

Lacking any other solution, he tried sometimes to look on 
the good side of things. Suppose he should make a clean-cut job 
of it and receive the girl as his wife? Why could he not do tliat? 
But, no matter from what point of view he approached it in his 
thinking, there was always that stifling feeling of repressed re- 
sentment that was like holding your breath when you were 
smothering. When he thought of her manner, the way she 
looked and the air about her, he could only shake his head. 
But leaving her looks out of it: think of her behavior— hengl 

Just to consider himself, as ambitious as he was and as well- 
behaved, and then to think that he should take as his wife a 
piece of shopworn goods like that! He would never be able to 
look anybody in the eye again, and even after his death he could 
never face the spirits of his father and mother. Who could tell 
for sure whether the child in her belly was his? It was true she 
might bring with her as a dowry a few rickshaws; but was there 
any real guarantee of that? Fourth Master Liu was never a man 
whom it would pay to provoke. Even if everything went well, 
Happy Boy would still not be able to bear it. 

Would he ever be able to get the best of Tiger Girl? All she 
had to do was to stretch out her little finger to keep him run- 
ning until his head was dizzy and his eyes blurred and he could 
no longer tell east from west or south from north. He knew how 
mean and sharp she was. If he wanted to set up a family, there 
were the most basic reasons why he could not marry such a 
person as she was; there was just nothing else to be said about 
that. To take her would be to finish him, and he was no one 
to despise himself. There was no way. 

With no means of putting her in her place, he turned about 
and hated himself. He longed to give himself a few sharp slaps 
in the face. But, to speak the truth, he had definitely not done 
anything wrong. The whole thing had been arranged , by her, 

136 



and had wanted nothing but for him to walk into the trap. It 
seemed as if his trouble had been that he was too simple and 
honest and well-disposed; the honest were bound to be cheated, 
and there was no reason or right to be spoken of. 

The thing that made him the unhappiest of all was that 
there was no place he could go to unburden his heart of his 
wrongs. He had neither father nor mother nor elder nor younger 
brother, and he had no friends. Ordinarily he thought of himself 
as a real upstanding Son of Han, with head scraping the heavens 
and feet firmly planted on the earth, altogether free of any tie 
or hindrance. Only now did he understand, did he know enough 
to regret his mistake. No man can live independent and alone. 

Especially did he feel toward the others of his calling that 
there was now something to be loved and cherished about them. 
Supposing that in ordinary times he had made friends with two 
or three of the others who were big strapping fellows like him- 
self, he would still not be afraid even if tliere were two Tiger 
Girls. His friends would think up some way out for him, and 
they would even be willing to use their strength for him in 
pulling the thing out by its roots. But he had been from the 
beginning to the end only one person, and to go out now, be- 
cause just at this moment he stood in need, and scratch up a few 
people to be his friends would not be easy. He felt a kind of 
terror that he had never known before. If he kept on acting as 
he had in the past, anyone at all could cheat him or impose 
upon him; one lone man could never touch the heavens. 

This terror made him begin to have doubts about himself. 
In the winter time, when his master had a dinner engagement, 
or perhaps went out to listen to a play, Happy Boy would as of 
old take the water can from the bottom of the carbide lamp on 
the rickshaw and hold it inside the front of his gown, because 
if he left it on the lamp it might freeze. He would just have 
been running until his whole body was hot with sweat, and to 
put that ice-cold carbide tin against his bare skin would in- 

."■■■137 



stantly make him shiver all over. There was no telling how 
long it would be before the tin would have become a little 
warmer, like his body. But ordinarily he did not think of this 
as being anything too unfair or bemeaning. Sometimes, as he 
hugged the little tin, he thought of the thing as something 
superlative: those pullers whose rickshaws were tattered and 
dirty never had such a thing as a carbide laiiip in the first place. 

But now it was as if he saw clearly; working at a job that 
paid you only that little bit of money and having to put up with 
all the bitter things about it, even to pressing the carbide can 
against your own chest because it mustn’t be allowed to freeze 
•—your own chest, as broad as it was, didn’t seem to be worth 
as much consideration as a little tin water can. Originally he 
had thought of pulling a rickshaw as being the most ideal thing 
he could imagine doing. From it he could go on to the estab- 
lishment of a family and the setting up of a business. Now 
quietly to himself he shook his head. It was no wonder Tiger 
Girl imposed upon him. He was, to begin with, nothing but a 
fellow who wasn’t the equal of a little tin can. 

On the evening of the third day after Tiger Girl had come 
looking for him, Mr. Ts’ao went with his friends to see the 
night showing of a moving picture, and Happy Boy waited for 
him in a little teahouse, taking the ice-cold carbide can with 
him. The night was very cold and the doors and windows of the 
teahouse were shut very tight. The place was full of coal smoke, 
the smell of sweat, the dry snaoke of cheap cigarettes. Even so, 
the panes of the windows were covered with frost flowers. 

The tea drinkers were mostly rickshaw pullers who worked 
by the month. Some of them were sitting with their chairs tilted 
back and their heads against the wall, taking advantage of the 
warmth of the room to snooze a while. Some of them had cups 
of bygar, which, after having made the gesture of offering to 
share with the whole group, they were slowly sipping. As they 
took a little in their mouths they would smack their lips, and 

."138 ■ 



after they had swallowed it they would blow out their breath 
as noisily as possible, as if to signify how cold they had been 
and how warm the wine felt inside them. Some of them had big 
pancakes that they had rolled up, and they would put a whole 
half of a cake in their mouths at one bite. Their coarse faces 
and necks were distended and red with the effort of swallowing 
so much at one time.’ 

Then there was one of them who had thrust his face forward 
and was making a full report on his grievances to any and all 
who would listen. How it was that from the break of dawn until 
now his feet had only just come to a stop, and how his body had 
been wet with sweat and got dry again, and wet again and again 
dry, for so many times that he had lost count. Most of the rest 
of the patrons had been chatting with one another about noth- 
ing at all, but when they heard this one man speak, they sud- 
denly all fell silent for a while, and then each of them, remem- 
bering the wrongs that he himself had suffered in the course of 
the day, they all as suddenly began telling the world in general 
about them, until the room sounded as if it were full of a flock 
of birds whose nests had been destroyed. 

Even one of the fellows whose mouth was full of pancake 
managed to move it about until he had a clear space for his 
tongue, and while on the one hand he was trying to swallow the 
cake, on the other hand he was saying what he wanted to say. 
The veins on his head stood out with anger, and his words were 
punctuated by belches. 

'Tou think his mother's of a puller by the month doesn't 
have a mean time? I'll smack the mother's of a— -uh— uhl From 
the time I got up at two this morning until now, I haven't had 
time to draw myself water or to scoop up a bowl of rice. To 
speak only of going from the Gate Before to the Gate of the 
Law of Peace— uh—uh— I've pulled his mother's there and back 
three times! This very day Fve frozen even the eye in my bot- 
tom until its cracked wide open, and all I can do is break wind." 

m 


He took a look around the circle of his audience, nodded his 
;head emphatically, and took another big bite from his pancake. 

From this the generality of the talk turned to the weather, 
and with it as the central topic, each person had a chance to tell 
of his own hardships. 

From the beginning to the end. Happy Boy himself did not 
say a single word but he paid the closest attention to what the 
others were saying. Although the matter of their speech, the 
tones of the dialects in which they spoke, and the things they 
had to relate were different in each case, they all cursed the un- 
fairness and inequality of their lot. 

This kind of talk, touching as it did upon the hurt in his 
own heart, was absorbed into himself as completely as a few 
drops of rain falling on parched earth. He had no way, did not 
know how, to speak out his own story from the beginning to 
the end to let everyone hear it. The only thing he could do was 
to assimilate a little of the bitter flavor of life from the things 
the others said. They were all distressed and in trouble, and he 
was no exception. Coming to know himself, he was coming at 
the same time to have a deep feeling of sympathy for others like 
himself. When one of the others had reached a point of bitter 
grief in his tale, Happy Boy would knit his brows, and when 
something laughable was said he would purse his lips. In this 
manner he felt that he became one of the group; they were all 
friends together in their bitterness, and even though he said not 
.a word it would make no difference. 

In the old days he had thought they were simply all of them 
possessed of spiteful lips and tongues, and that because they sat 
around every day from morning until night talking their pov- 
erty-stricken talk, they would certainly never get rich. It seemed 
as if today was the first time he had realized that they were 
speaking for him as well as themselves, telling of the bitternesses 
of himself and all other rickshaw men. 

Just as they had reached the most interesting point in their 

140 



discussion, the door suddenly opened, letting in a blast of cold 
air. Everyone looked up with angry eyes to see who it was so 
dead to the displeasure he caused in the hearts of others as to 
push the door open. The more impatient everyone became, the 
slower the man on the threshold moved, as if he purposely 
meant to delay his entry. Half urgently, half pleasantly, one of 
the waiters in the teahouse called out: 

''Hurry a little, my uncle. Don't let out all of the little bit of 
warm air there is in here." 

Before he had finished speaking, the man outside had come 
in. He was a rickshaw puller too. To look at him, he was over 
fifty and he wore a padded coat that was not short enough to be 
called short nor long enough to be called long, and was in as 
many shreads as a reed basket that has come apart. At the lapel 
and at both elbows the padding showed. His face looked as 
though it had not been washed for many days, and you could 
not see the color of his skin except for his ears, which were frost- 
bitten until they were a bright red, as red as an apple about to 
drop to the ground. His white hair frizzled out in tangled con- 
fusion from under a small cap; on his eyebrows and in his short 
beard were little drops of frozen moisture. As soon as he got in 
he felt for a bench and sat down, saying with great effort: "Steep 
me a pot of tea." 

This particular teahouse had always been a gathering place 
for rickshaw pullers who worked by the month and under 
ordinary circumstances a puller like this old fellow would never 
have entered it. 

Everybody looked at him, and they all felt that somehow the 
ideas they had just been expressing were by his coming cut 
much more deeply into their minds than they could have been 
by words; no one thought of saying anything more. Ordinarily 
there would have been sure to be one or two young fellows who 
had no real understanding of the affairs of the world who would 
have come forward with their smart talk to ridicule the kind of 


141 



a teahouse patron that this one was, but tonight not a soul 
made a sound. 

They had not yet brought the tea when the old rickshaw 
man's head began to sink lower and lower, until his frail body 
slipped forward from the bench to the floor. 

The whole room was on its feet at once. ''What's wrong? 
What's wrong?" Everyone asked it at the same time, pushing 
forward to try to help. 

"Don’t move." The manager of the tea shop, a man of expe^ 
rience, restrained the crowd. Going across alone to the old rick- 
shaw^ man, he loosened his collar and lifted him to a sitting 
position, resting him against the back of a chair, and putting his 
hands on the old man's shoulders. "Bring some water with sugar 
init— quicki" 

He put his ear down to the old fellow's chest and, as if he 
were talking to himself, said, "His lungs sound all right." 

No one of the crowd had moved but neither had they sat 
down again. They all stood there blinking their eyes in the 
smoke-filled room and staring at the huddled figure on the floor 
near the doorway. It was as if, without there having been any 
agreement between them, they were all saying exactly the same 
thing to themselves, each to his own heart: 

"This shows what we will be! When we have come to the 
time when our hair is white, there will be a market rate on the 
life of each of us. Sooner or later there will come the day when 
the few coppers a fare offers us will be the price for which we 
will slip and stumble and drop dead between the shafts." 

The water with sugar in it had just been put in the old man's 
mouth. He breathed out two or three times, making a sound in 
his throat, and lifted his right hand—it was so black it shone, 
as if it had been lacquered— and wiped his lips with the back 
of it. 

"Drink some of this water," the manager said in his ear. 

"Eh?" The old rickshaw puller opened his eyes. When he 



realized he was sitting on the floor, he drew up his legs, think- 
ing to get up. 

''Drink this water first— there's no hurry," the manager said, 
relaxing his hold on the man's shoulder. 

Everybody rushed over toward him. 

"Ai! Ail" The old fellow looked about him, and gripping the 
cup with the sugar and water in it in both hands, he tasted it a 
sip at a time. 

Slowly he drank it all, and then glanced up again at the 
people around him. "Ai, I have troubled you all!" The words 
were spoken with an extraordinary gentleness and warmth of 
feeling, and to listen to them you would have felt that they 
could not possibly have come from the twisted old mouth 
beneath the dirty scraggly mustache. When he had finished 
speaking he tried again to get up. Three or four of those about 
him hunied to support him. With the suggestion of a smile, he 
said, speaking again in the same warm, friendly, and almost 
courtly way: "I can manage. It's not serious. I was both cold 
and hungry, and suddenly I fainted. It's not important." 

For all the thickness of the dirt on his face, his smile and his 
manner made them all feel as if they were looking into the clear 
clean visage of a man who was warm-hearted, generous and good. 

Everyone's heart was moved. The middle-aged fellow who 
had been drinking the cup of wine had finished it by now. His 
eyes* were bloodshot and there were tears in them. "Come," he 
called to the waiter. "Bring me two more catties of wine," By 
the time the wine had arrived the old rickshaw man was seated 
in a chair nearby. The middle-aged fellow was a little drunk, but 
with perfect politeness he placed the wine before the old man. 

"I'm inviting you to drink. I'm over forty myself, and I'm not 
going to try to deceive you: pulling a rickshaw by the month is 
only a makeshift with me, and it can't last anyway. Each year is 
a year passed: my legs can tell me that. In two or three more 
years I'll be just like yourself . You'll soon be sixty, won't you?" 



less than that. Fifty-five/" The old rickshaw man drank a 
mouthful of the wine. 'The weather is cold and I couldn't find 
a fare. I, uh, ai! I had an empty stomach; I only had a few 
coppers left and I spent them all buying wine^ trying to make 
myself a little warmer. When I came by here I couldn't bear 
the cold any longer^ and I thought I'd come in here to get warm. 
The room was so hot, and I hadn't had anything to eat, so I 
passed out. It's not important, it's nothing at all. I've given 
you all a lot of trouble and I want to thank you for being so 
kind." 



The old one’s white mustache that was like dry grass, the 
mud on his face, his hands that were like pieces of charcoal, 
together with the tattered cap and the worn wadded gown, all 
seemed now to be marks of honor, to possess a pure light of 
their own. It was as if you were standing before a neglected idol 
in a ruined temple; however broken-down it might be, the 
majesty of the Law of Buddha would still shine through it, still 
command respect. 

Everyone watched him and stood in attendance on him, as if 
they were afraid he would leave. From beginning to end Happy 
Boy had not uttered a word, but stood there stupidly. When 
he heard the old man say that his stomach was empty he sud- 
denly rushed out and in a moment was running back again, as. 

, 145 



quick as he could fly. In his hand he held a big cabbage leaf in 
which were wrapped ten rolls of meat cooked in a pastry cover. 
He took them directly to the old man and? placing them before 
him, said only: ''Eat these.'' After he had spoken he went back 
to his original seat and sat with his head down, as if overcome 
by some extraordinary weakness. 

"Ail" The old one seemed at once happy and as if he were 
going to cry. He nodded his head to the group in acknowledge- 
ment. ■ "After all, we are brothers together. When you pull a 
fare, how great is the strength that you sell him, and yet at the 
end of the ride it would be a terribly hard thing to get as much 
as an extra copper out of him." 

As he spoke he got up and started out. 

"Eat them!" Everyone in the room seemed to be speaking in 
the same breath. 

'Tm going to call Little Horse, my grandson. He's outside 
watching the rickshaw." 

'Til go. You sit down." It was the middle-aged rickshaw man 
speaking. "You can't lose your rickshaw here, you can set your 
heart at rest on that. There's a police sentry box right across the 
street." He opened the door a little crack and called, "Little 
Horse, Little Horse, your grandfather is calling you. Bring the 
rickshaw over here and leave it." 

The old one kept rubbing the meat rolls with his hand but 
he hadn't picked one up. The moment Little Horse walked in 
the door, he held one out to him. "Little Horse, my beloved 
boy, I'm giving this to you!" 

Little Horse was not more than twelve or thirteen years old, 
with a very lean face. His clothes were thin and shiny with wear 
and his nose was red with the cold. His nostrils seemed almost 
stopped up with mucus, and two dirty white ribbons of it were 
crusted on his upper lip. Over his ears he wore a pair of tattered 
ear muffs. Standing beside the old man, he took the proffered 
meat roll in his right hand, and with his left reached out and 



took another on his own account, while eating the first one as 
fast as he could. 

^'Ail Slowly!'^ The old man had one arm around the boy, 
and with the other hand he picked up a meat roll for himself 
and without haste put it to his mouth. '1 will eat two of them— 
that will be plenty for me, and the rest are all yours. When 
weVe finished eating them, we will put the rickshaw up and go 
back home, and not pull it any more this evening. Tomorrow, 
if it isn't so cold, we start out a little earlier. Isn't that right, 
Little Horse?" 

Little Horse nodded in the direction of the meat rolls— he 
had never taken his eyes off them— and sniffed back into his 
nose some of the mucus that was coming out of it. '‘Granddad, 
you eat three of them, and what's left over will all be mine. In 
a little while Granddad can ride in the rickshaw and I'll pull 
him back home!" 

"That won't be necessary." The old man looked very pleased, 
and smiled at the group. "When we go back we'll both walk. 
It would be too cold to ride a rickshaw." 

The old man finished eating his share, drained the last drop 
of wine from his cup, and sat waiting for Little Horse to eat the 
rest of the meat rolls. He brought out a piece of tattered cloth 
and wiped his mouth with it. Nodding his head to the crowd, 
he said: 

"My son went away to be a soldier, and has never come back. 
His wife — " 

"Don't talk^ about that!" Little Horse's cheeks were so full of 
food they looked like two peaches, and he kept on eating after 
interrupting his grandfather. 

"It won't hurt to talk about it," the old man said. "We're 
none of us really strangers to each other." After that he con- 
tinued in a lower voice. "My grandson takes everything very 
seriously, and I needn't tell you how ambitious he is. His mother 
left, and the two of us, granddad and grandson, earn our rice 



with that one rickshaw. If s a worn-out cart, but our support is 
the fact that we own it, we don't have to worry about paying 
rent on it every day. Sometimes we earn more and sometimes 
less, and the two of us pass our days in bitter poverty. There's 
nothing else we can do— nothing else." 

Little Horse was about through with the meat rolls. ''Grand- 
dad," he said, "we still have to pull a while— we haven't got any 
money to buy coal with tomorrow morning. If s all your fault. 
A little while ago, when that fellow offered you twenty coppers 
to take him to the Rear Gate, if you'd done what I wanted 
to do, you'd have taken him. And you were bound you wouldn't 
do it. We'll see how you manage tomorrow morning when 
there's no coal," 

"There's a way out of that. Granddad will charge five catties 
of coal balls." 

"Do you think they'd let us have some kindling too?" 

"That's right. You're a good boy. You go ahead and eat. 
When you've finished eating, we'll stroll along." As he spoke the 
old man got up and, glancing at the faces of the people about 
him, said, "Thank you, brothers, for all your trouble." He took 
Little Horse's hand in his and started out. The child still had 
not finished one of the rolls, and he put the whole thing into 
his mouth at on time. 

Some of the group sat still and didn't move, others went out 
with the old man and his grandson. Happy Boy was the first of 
those— he wanted to see what the rickshaw looked like. 

It was the most broken-down old rickshaw hcihad ever seen. 
The paint on the carriage was cracked and half peeled off, and 
the shafts were so worn you could see the grain of the wood. 
There was a dilapidated old lamp that rattled in the wind, and 
the supports holding up the faded cloth top had broken in 
places and been tied together with twine. Little Horse hunted 
out a match from one of his ear muffs and, lighting it on the sole 
of his shoe, held it cupped between his two thin black hands 

148 



until he had got the lamp alight. The old man spit on his hands^ 
groaned, picked up the rickshaw shafts, and said, ''See you all 



Happy Boy stood dully by the doorway watching the two of 
them, the old man and the young boy, with their rickshaw. The 
old man was talking as he pulled the cart along, sometimes in 
a loud voice and sometimes in a low one. The lights along the 
roadway were bright and the shadows impenetrably dark. Happy 
Boy listened and watched, and in his heart he felt a sadness 
more unbearable than any he had ever known before. 

It was as if Little Horse was all his past and his boyhood, 
and as if in the old man he could see the most that the future 
could hold for him. It had never been his habit lightly to let go 
of money, but the one thing that gave him any sense of relief 
now was the thought that he had bought those ten meat rolls 
for the old man and his grandson. He stood watching them 
until they were altogether out of sight before he went back 
again into the teahouse. The others had already begun talking 
and joking about other things, but he felt confused, and paid 
his bill and went out again, pulling his rickshaw back to the 
moving picture theatre to wait for Mr. Ts’ao. 

The night was truly cold. The air was full of fine sand, and, 
up above, the winds seemed to have marshalled their forces for a 
rapid march across the world. Of the stars the only ones you 
could see very clearly were the large ones, and they shivered a 
little in the heavens. There was no wind along the ground, but 
the air was frozen everywhere. In the wheel tracks along the road 
the dirt had frozen and come apart in big cracks. The earth was 
an ashen white, as shiny as ice and just as hard. 


149 



Happy Boy stood a while outside the theatre and was already 
beginning to feel the coldy but he didn^t want to go back to the 
teahouse. He wanted a chance to be very quiet and think the 
whole thing over for himself. It seemed as if the old man and his 
grandson had destroyed his greatest hope. The old man's rick- 
shaw was one that he owned. From the very first day that Happy 
Boy had pulled a rickshaw he had made up his mind to buy his 
own. Even now it was still to satisfy this ambition that he 
worked so hard; he had always felt that once he had his own 
rickshaw he would have everything. Heng! Just look at that 
old man! 

Was it not also because of this hope that he might some day 
buy his own rickshaw that he was unwilling to ask for Tiger 
Girl? Had he not hoped to get his own rickshaw^ to save money, 
and afterwards to take to himself some clean innocent little 
village girl as his wife? Heng! Look at Little Horse! How could 
he be sure that his own son would not some day be in the 
same situation? 

Thinking this way, there no longer seemed to be any partic- 
ular reason why he should resist Tiger Girl's demands. In any 
case, whatever happened, he could not himself escape the circle 
that was closing in on him. What difference did it make what 
kind of wife he married? And, moreover, she might bring him 
two or' three rickshaws. Why not make the most of what little 
he could get out of her? When you saw through your own self, 
tliere was no more need of despising someone else. Tiger Girl 
was just Tiger Girl, and there was no need to say any more 
about it. 

The movie was over, and he hurried to screw the water can 
back on the carbide light and to get the lamp itself lit. He took 
off his gown, and even the little fur jacket underneath it, leaving 
only a short waist-coat against the cold. He wanted to run as 
fast as he could, to run until he had forgotten everything, and 
if he fell and killed himself that wouldn't matter either. 



O^HENEVER he thought of the old man and Little 
J'^y Horse, Happy Boy wanted to take all his hopes and put 
them away from him and look to each day for the most pleasure 
it could give him, counting only the day itself and never look- 
ing to the morrow. Why should he go about the whole day long 
gritting his teeth, unable to forgive himself for failing to do 
more than he was able? The poor man’s destiny, he seemed at 
last to understand, was like the kernel of an almond: it was 
sharp at both ends. If you could get through your childhood 
without starving to death, you had the luck of one in ten thou- 
sand, but it was when you were an old man that avoiding starva- 
tion got really difhcult. It was only during that brief middle 
span between childhood and the onset of age, when the years 
were light on your shoulders and your strength was full, and you 
feared neither the long hunger that sought only for food, nor 
the weariness of bodily toil, that you bore yourself with the 
pride of a human being. To be in that period of your life when 
you should be happy and carefree and gay and in good health 
and spirits, and still to be afraid to take advantage of it, was to 
be a sovereign fool indeed. This was the village where the 
hostel was; you passed the village by and you passed the hostel 
too; on the weary road beyond there would be no more of them. 
When he thought like this about it all, even the affair of Tiger 
Girl didn’t seem worth worrying about. 

When he caught sight of his porcelain gourd his opinions 
would swing back around again. No, he could not simply follow 
his own pleasure; he lacked now only a few tens of dollars of 

151 



having enough to buy himself a rickshaw. He could not now 
throw away so completely the results of all his previous labors; 
at the very least, he could not take the little bit of savings that 
he had accumulated in tlie porcelain gourd and blindly yield 
it up. So difEcult as it had been to save! No, he would still have 
to walk the road of rectitude, that was certain. But Tiger Girl? 
He still had no plan, still had that hateful twenty-seventh to 
worry about. 

When his harassment had reached the point where the 
whole thing seemed utterly hopeless, he would take his porcelain 
gourd in his arms and, holding it tightly to him, talk to it in a 
plaintive whisper. 'They can have it whatever way they want it 
but, whatever happens, this little bit of money belongs to me! 
Nobody can take it away from me. As long as he has this money. 
Happy Boy is not afraid. If they cause me too much anxiety, I 
can lift my feet and run away. When you have money you can 
move around.'" 

The streets were becoming more and more bustling and 
busy; the roadways were covered with displays of candied 
melons used in the sacrifices to the God of the Kitchen Stove, 
and wherever you walked you could hear the sound of the 
hawkers" cry— "Hard sugar candy, hard sugar candyl"" Originally 
Happy Boy had looked forward to the coming of the New Year 
festival, but now he couldn't get up any enthusiasm for it at 
all. The more confused and excited the streets became, the 
tighter became his heart. That day so much to be feared, the 
twenty-seventh, was before his eyes. His eyes beeame downcast 
as if not to see it, and even the scar on his face became darker. 

He had to be extra careful pulling his master's rickshaw, with 
the streets in such confusion and the ground underfoot so 
slippery. The matter that occupied his heart and the desire to be 
careful were like two spirits engaged in mortal combat, and he 
felt as if his own energy were not enough to supply them both. 
When he thought of one of them, he forgot the other, and 


time after time, when something brought him up short with a 
start, his whole body would break out in a prickly itch, like a 
child coming out with heat rash in the summer time. 

On the afternoon of the day of the offerings to the God of 
the Kitchen Stove there was a softly shifting east wind blowing 
that brought with it a sky full of black clouds. The weather had 
suddenly got warmer. When it was close to the time to hang 
the lanterns, the wind fell even lower and scattered snowflakes 
began dropping from the heavens. The sellers of sugared melons 
got all excited and anxious. Warm weather, and add to that 
these snowflakes! With one motion they all began sprinkling 
white sand over their candy, for fear it would get soft and stick 
together. Not many snowflakes fell; soon they changed to small 
fine particles of snow that came down with a swishing noise and 
brushed the ground to whiteness. 

After seven o'clock they began, in the stores and houses, to 
make their offerings to the God of the Kitchen Stove, and in 
the midst of the glowing of incense sticks and the light and 
shadow of exploding firecrackers, the soft snow fell in un- 
remitting silence and mystery, affording a somber and timeless 
background to this transient celebration. 

The people in the streets all seemed full of a frightened 
urgency. Those afoot and those in rickshaws or sedan chairs or 
automobiles were hurrying to get back home in time to make 
their offerings to the god, but the ground was so wet and 
slippery they dared not go too rapidly. The small tradesmen 
selling candies were in great anxiety to get off their hands goods 
which had been prepared for this festival and would be worth- 
less tomorrow. Without even stopping to catch their breath, 
they kept calling their wares. But, instead of making you 
nervous, the sound of their voices was somehow very soothing. 

It was 9 o'clock, and Happy Boy was pulling Mr. Ts'ao back 
from the West Gate to his house. As they passed through the 
bustling street markets along near the Lone West Honorific 



Arch and were headed east along the Street of Everlasting 
Peace, the people and horses both became gradually fewer. Over 
the smooth surface of the asphalt road was spread a thin cover- 
ing of snow that dazzled the eyes a little in the reflected light of 
the street lamps. Every once in a while an automobile would 
pass, its bright headlights shooting their beams of light far out 
into the night through which it moved; in these rays of light 
the little grains of snow would turn yellowish, like a myriad 
grains of golden sand. 

The stretch of road just before you get to the New China 
Gate is, to begin with, very broad, and with the covering of 
snow over it, it served more than ever to give you a feeling of 
breadth and distance of view and to make your spirits lively and 
free. And everything seemed more grave and dignified. The 
Arch of Everlasting Peace, the structure above the New China 
Gate, the red walls around the Southern Sea, all wore white 
mourning caps, contrasting with the colors of the red cassia 
trees and the dull red of the walls, shaded by the night in the 
light of the street lamps, under whose quiet and tranquil glow 
the stateliness of the old capital lay revealed. 

This time and this place made you feel that Peking was a city 
in which no one lived, as if it were one wide concourse of 
lustrous and brilliant palaces, a heaven of soft green jade, with 
nothing else besides save the old fir trees, receiving in utter 
silence their burden of the falling snow. Happy Boy had no time 
to waste looking at this beautiful scenery; when he saw the Jade 
Road before him he thought only of racing down it to get home 
in one long stride; that straight, white, dispassionate highway 
made him feel that the eye of his heart could see straight down 
it right to the doorway of his home. 

But he could not run fast. Although the snow was not thick 
on the ground, and the separate little flakes were very small, 
still the snow itself was heavy and weighted, and, because it 
held your feet and confused your eyes, you could not move 



through it with fleet strides. The particles that fell on Happy 
Boy did not melt easily, and before long his shoulders and 
clothes had a layer of snow on them too. Although this didn't 
count for much, still the dampness oozed into his inner clothing 
and irritated him. 

Along this run there were not many shops, but from a 
distance the sound of the firing of firecrackers still continued 
unbroken and every once in a while the darkness of the sky 
would be cut by the light of a twice-exploding rocket or by one 
of those crackers called the ''Five Devils Resisting Judgment." 
When the flying sparks of the rocket had spread across the sky 
and disappeared, the heavens would seem even darker than 
before, so dark that it made you afraid. Listening to the sounds 
of exploding firecrackers and watching the faint fire of the 
rockets fade against the blackness of the night, Happy Boy 
wanted to get back home right away. But he did not dare stretch 
his legs and really run. Aggravating! 

A thing that made him feel even more uneasy was that from 
the western part of the city he had felt that a bicycle was follow- 
ing along back of him. When he reached the Western Street of 
Everlasting Peace, where the road was quieter, he felt more 
definitely than ever that there was someone behind him, follow- 
ing him. The wheels of the bicycle crunched the thin snow and, 
although the sound was not loud, still it was perceptible. Happy 
Boy, like every other rickshaw puller, hated bicycles more than 
anything else. An automobile was hateful enough, but it made 
a loud noise and you could get out of its way while it was still 
a long way off. A bicycle wriggled its way through the first open 
crack, swaying first to one side and then to the other, and going 
east at one moment and west the next. Your eyes got out of 
focus from dizziness just trying to watch it. 

And on no account must you get into trouble with the rider 
of a bicycle; if there was trouble, it was always the rickshaw 
puller's fault. According to the calculations in a policeman's 



heart, a rickshaw man would be easier to deal with than the 
rider of a bicycle, no matter what the circumstances of the case 
might be. He would therefore go first about setting out all the 
wrongs the rickshaw man had committed. Several times tonight 
Happy Boy had wanted very badly to stop his rickshaw suddenly 
and throw that little bastard on the bicycle into a tailspin, but 
he didn't dare. A rickshaw man had everywhere to bear in 
silence the insults and mistreatment of others. So that every 
time he stopped to stamp his feet to clear the soles of his shoes, 
he had to call out, '"Stopping." 

At the front gate of the Southern Sea, where the street is so 
broad, the bicycle still clung closely behind him, and Happy 
Boy began to feel the fire rising inside him. He purposely 
stopped his rickshaw and started brushing the snow off his 
shoulders. When he came up short, the bicycle brushed by, 
close to the rickshaw, and the rider even turned his head to 
look. Happy Boy purposely dawdled, waiting until the bicycle 
had gone a long way ahead before picking up the shafts of his 
rickshaw. As he did so he spit on the ground. "Disgusting!" 

Mr. Ts'ao's humanitarianism made him unwilling to use the 
cloth curtain that spreads across the front of the rickshaw after 
the passenger is seated in it and serves to protect him from the 
wind. He would never even let Happy Boy put up the rickshaw 
top unless it was raining very hard, because both the windbreak 
and the top, when they were used, made the rickshaw just that 
much harder to pull, and he wanted to save his rickshaw man 
the added effort. He had seen no reason why the rickshaw top 
should be put up on account of this little bit of snow, and be- 
sides he coveted the pleasure of watching a snow scene at night. 

He, too, had paid heed to the bicycle and when Happy Boy 
spoke he said in a low voice: "If he keeps on following us, don't 
stop at our door when you get to the house; just pass right by 
and go on to Mr. Tso's house, near the Gate of the Imperial 
Transformation. Don't get flustered!" 

156 



Happy Boy was already a little flustered. He had only known 
that he disliked bicycles? but he had never understood before 
that they were really to be feared. If Mr. Ts'ao didn't even dare 
go to his own home? the little stinkpot on this particular bicycle 
must have a long history. Happy Boy hadn't run more than a 
few tens of paces when they caught up with the fellow again; he 
had been deliberately waiting for them? and he didn't start 
until Happy Boy had passed him. 

In going by? Happy Boy took a look at him and in a glance 
understood — the man was a member of the secret police. He 
had frequently met members of the corps in the teahouses? and 
although he had never spoken with one of them? he knew the 
expression of their faces? their manner? and their style of dress. 
He had seen the style often enough to be well acquainted with 
it—a dark blue outer gown and a felt hat? the brim of the hat 
always pulled down very low over the face. 

When they reached the mouth of Long South Street? Happy 
Boy's feet found added strength. There was nothing but the 
cold light of the street lamps and at his back a detective chasing 
him! Happy Boy had never had an experience like this before? 
and sweat broke out all over him. At the Public Gardens he 
looked around; the man was stiU following them. 

When they reached the entrance way to the door of their 
own home? he did not stop; it was hard to pass it by? but Mr. 
Ts'ao made not a sound and the only thing for him to do was 
to keep on going north. In one breath he ran to the northern 
mouth of the street? but the bicycle was still with them. He 
went into the opening of a small lane; it followed them. When 
he came out the other end of the lane? it still followed them. To 
reach the Gate of the Imperial Transformation? it was in fact 
not necessary to have entered the lane. It was not until he 
reached the northern mouth of it that he realized this? and 
when he had to admit to himself that he was a little befuddled 
it made him angrier than ever. 


157 



When he had reached a point in back of the Mountain of 
the Beautiful Vista, the bicycle turned north toward the Black 
Gate. Happy Boy wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back 
of his hand. The fall of snow had lessened a little, and in the 
midst of the fine particles were occasional large flakes. Happy 
Boy took a great delight in snowflakes that floated and danced 
between the heavens and the earth with a real abandon, a fine 
spirit of bravado. They weren't like those petty damp little 
snow particles that gave you nothing but a feeling of irritation. 

He turned his head and asked, "'Where shall we go, Master?" 

"Still to the Tsos' home. If anyone asks you any questions 
about me, say you don't know me." 

"All right." In the middle of Happy Boy's heart an aperture 
opened, but he could not very well question his master for the 
details. 

When they reached the Tso house, Mr. Ts'ao told Happy 
Boy to pull the rickshaw right in through the gate and close it 
behind them at once. Mr. Ts'ao was still very calm but the 
color of his face was not very good to look at. When he had 
finished instructing Happy Boy he went into the house. 

Just as Happy Boy had got his rickshaw pushed back into 
the gate-room and properly placed there, Mr. Ts'ao came out 
again, this time with Mr. Tso. Happy Boy recognized Mr. Tso, 
and knew that he was a good friend of the household. 

"Happy Boy"— Mr. Ts'ao's lips were moving very rapidly — 
"you take a car and go back to the house. Tell the mistress that 
I am here. Tell them to come here, too; to come by car, to call 
another car. You mustn't have the car in which you go wait for 
you. Do you understand? Fine! Tell the mistress to bring the 
things that she'll need, together with those scroll paintings in 
the library. You hear clearly what I'm saying? In a moment I'll 
telephone Mrs. Ts'ao, but I'm telling you too for fear she might 
get. excited and forget what I tell her. If she does, you can 
remind her." 

'■1:58:.,/ 



''How about my going?'" Mr. Tso asked. 

"It isn't necessary. It's not certain that that fellow Just now 
was a detective. It's only that I have that other business in my 
heart, and I can't afford not to be prepared. Do you mind calling 
a car for me?" 

Mr. Tso went to call a car, and Mr. Ts'ao repeated his 
instructions to Happy Boy. "When the car comes. I'll pay the 
driver. You tell the mistress to get her things together quickly. 
None of the rest is important; only by all means bring the baby's 
things and the scrolls in the library, the scroll paintings! When 
the mistress has everything ready, tell Kao Ma to telephone for 
a car and they can come over here. Do you understand all that? 
After they have gone, you lock the big gate and move into the 
library to sleep. There's a telephone there. Can you use a 
telephone?" 

"I can't make a call out to anybody but I can take a call that 
comes in." As a matter of fact. Happy Boy didn't like very much 
even taking incoming calls but he didn't want to get Mr. Ts'ao 
excited, so the best thing was to say what he had. 

"That's good enough." Mr. Ts'ao went on, still speaking very 
rapidly: "If by any chance anything happens, if there's any 
movement or commotion, you mustn't open the gate. With all 
of us gone, and only you left, they'd never let go of you. If 
things take a bad turn, you put out the lights, go through the 
inner courtyard, and climb over the wall into the Wang family 
compound. You know the Wang family's servants, don't you? 
Right! Hide a while in the Wang household before you go. 
You don't need to try to take care of my belongings or of your 
own things. You just jump over the wall and go, to save their 
grabbing you. If you lose anything. I'll make it good to you later 
on. Right now you take this five-dollar bill. 

"All right, I'll go now and telephone the mistress, and in a 
little while when you get there you say it all to her too. You 
needn't say anything about anyone being grabbed, That fellow 

159 



on the bicycle a little while ago might be a detective and he 
might not. And you mustn't get flustered yourself, either.'' 

The car came and Happy Boy climbed into it, his head 
benumbed. The snow kept falling, neither heavy nor light. You 
couldn't see very clearly anything on the outside. He sat with 
his back absolutely stiff and straight, his head almost touching 
the top of the car. He wanted to think the whole thing over, 
but his eye was caught by the red arrow on the top of the 
radiator cap at the front of the car and he couldn't get his mind 
on anything else. It was so fresh and sprightly and lovable! In 
front of the driver there was a small wiper on the outside of the 
glass that swished back and forth all on its own account, sweep- 
ing clean the frost and moisture from the semicircle on the 
windshield over which it moved. It was a cute little thing, too. 
Just as he was beginning to tire of watching it, the car drew up 
at the door of the house. Without the slightest enthusiasm in 
his heart he got out. 

Just as he was about to press the bell at the gate, a man ap- 
peared from nowhere, as if he had wriggled out of the very wall, 
and seized Happy Boy's wrist. At first Happy Boy thought of 
jerking his hand away, but he didn't move; he had already 
recognized the man: it was the detective who had ridden the 
bicycle. 

“Happy Boy, you don't remember me?" The detective smiled 
as he let go of his victim's wrist. 

Happy Boy swallowed a mouthful of air, and did not know 
what it was best to say. 

“You don't remember when we took you to the Western 
Hills? I'm that Lieutenant Sun, do you recollect?" 

“Ah, Lieutenant Sun!" Happy Boy couldn't recall. At the 
time, when he was being dragged out into the mountains, he 
couldn't be bothered with who was a lieutenant and who was 
a captain. 

“You don't remember me, but I remember you. That scar on 

160 



your face is a good identification mark. A little while ago, when 
I was following you around for half a day, at first I didn't dare 
be sure about it myself, and I looked at you from the right and 
then from the left, but there's no mistaking that scar." 

'‘Do you have some business with me?" Again Happy Boy 
wanted to press the doorbell. 

"Naturally I have business with you. Whafs more, it's very 
important business. What do you say to our going in and talk- 
ing about it?" Lieutenant Sun— now an operative in the secret 
police— reached out and pressed the bell. 

"I'm busy." Happy Boy's forehead was suddenly dripping with 
sweat. His heart had all at once been flooded with hate, and at 
the same time it cried to him, "Can't you get rid of the fellow 
somehow? How can you be inviting him right into the house?" 

"There's no reason to wony^ I'm 
here to do you a favor." A cunning 
and slippery suggestion of a smile 
showed on the detective's face. Kao 
Ma had no sooner got the door 
open than he thrust his foot 
through and forced his way into the 
compound. 

"Thank you for your trouble, 
thank you for your trouble!" He 
did not give Happy Boy a chance 
even to exchange a sentence with 
Kao Ma but pulled him along into the courtyard. Pointing 
to the room next to the gate, he asked, "Do you live in here?" 
When they got into the room he looked around him. "This 
little place is really clean and tidy! Your job's not a bad one," 

"Have you business with me? I'm m a hurry." Happy Boy 
couldn't listen to any more of this piffle. 

"Didn't I tell you I've got important business?" Detective 
Sun was still smiling, but the spirit behind his words was extraor- 

161, 




dinarily sharp and hard. 'Til make it crisp enough for you: I 
tell you this fellow named Ts'ao is a member of a party tliat's 
opposed to the government; as soon as he's caught he'll be shot^ 
and he's got no chance of escaping. We've at least a one-sided 
acquaintanceship, however you figure it: you were my servant in 
the army barracks. What's more, we're both people of the street. 
So I took on myself the very great responsibility of coming here 
to bring you word of this. If you're one step too late in running 
away, when we come back it'll be to clean out a burrow from 
which all escape will be blocked and nobody will slip through. 
Those of us who are selling our strength to get food to eat, why 
should we suffer to help our masters win a crooked case at law? 
Am I right or not?" 

'Td never be able to look them in the face again." Happy 
Boy was still thinking of the message which Mr. Ts'ao had en- 
trusted to him. 

"Who would you be unable to face?" The corners of Detec- 
tive Sun's lips bore a faint smile, but the corners of his eyes were 
drawn out thin and hard. "It's a calamity that they brought on 
themselves. Why should you be unable to face them? They 
risked doing it; the responsibility for it is theirs. If we had to 
share their punishment, that would really be an injustice. We 
don't need to speak of anything else: suppose you're shut up for 
only three months? Accustomed as you are to living like a wild 
bird, and doing what you please, you suddenly have to sit for 
three months in a black room — you think you could stand it? 

"Another thing. If they go to prison, they've got money to 
spend in bribes. They won't suffer. You, my good brother, you 
won't have a single hard dollar in your hand, and the boys will 
be sure to tie you over the urine bucket. That's only a small 
matter. With any luck, the Ts'aos will spend money and use 
influence and so get off with a few years' imprisonment; but 
you—you won't have any means of taking care of the officials, 
and if they don't sink your back ten feet down it'll be a wonder. 

162' • 



''You and me, now, we don't do anybody any harm and we try 
not to give anybody any cause for offense, and we end up eating 
a few of the hard black almonds on the execution ground at 
Heaven's Bridge. Would that not be an everlasting wrong? You 
understand these things, and nobody who does would take a loss 
when he can see clearly that it would be a loss. You wouldn't 
be able to face them, Yo, hoi I'll tell you, my fine young brother, 
under the whole heavens there has never been a time when any- 
body felt that they couldn't look us— those of us who live in 
bitter toil— in the face." 

Happy Boy was frightened. When he thought of the suffer- 
ings he had endured when the soldiers dragged him off to the 
mountains, he could imagine how prison life would taste. "Then 
I have to leave, and not mind what happens to them?" 

"You mind what happens to them, and who minds what 
happens to you?" 

Happy Boy had nothing to say in reply. He sat staring into 
space for a while, and even his conscience bowed its head. "All 
right, I'll go!" 

"You'll just walk off like that?" 

Again Happy Boy was thrown back into confusion. 

"Happy Boy, my good partner! You are too stupid! Do you 
think that, seeing as how Fm a detective, Fd be willing to let 
you go?" 

"Then—" Happy Boy w^as so scared and nervous he didn't 
know what to do. 

"Don't pretend to be a fool!" Detective Sun's eyes nailed 
Happy Boy to the wall. "You probably have saved up some 
money. Bring it out and buy your life, I don't earn as much in 
a month as you do, and I have to eat and wear clothes and sup- 
port my family, and all I have to depend on is the little money I 
can scrape together here and there outside of my regular wage. 
I'm talking to you as a friend who knows my very heart. You 
tliink it over. Gould I just open my hand and let you go like 

x6s 



that? Friendship is friendship: if I weren't a friend of yours 
would I have come here to urge you to leave? But business is 
business^ and if I don't make a little something out of it, I sup- 
pose I should tell my family to drink the northwest wind? 
People who know their way in the world outside their doorways 
don't need to waste words— isn't it true?" 

''How much will it take?" Happy Boy sat down on his bed. 

"Bring out whatever you've got— there's no fixed price." 

"Fll wait to be put in prison!" 

"Remember that it's you that's saying that. And you won't 
regret it afterwards?" Detective Sun put his hand significantly 
under his gown. "Look here. Happy Boy. I could take you right 
now. If you resisted arrest. I'd shoot you. You add tliat into your 
calculations." 

Happy Boy sat choking with his indignation for a long time 
before he spoke. "You've got time to squeeze me, why don't 
you squeeze Mr. Ts'ao?" 

"He's the principal offender. When I arrest him I get a small 
reward, and if I let him slip I'd be committing a fault. You, 
you, my stupid younger brother, to let you go would be like let- 
ting an air-stench and to shoot you would amount to no more 
than stepping on a stinkbug. Bring out the money, and get 
along. Or else don't bring it out, and I'll see you on Heaven's 
Bridge. Don't dawdle, come clean. A fellow as big as you are! 
And besides, I can't swallow all of this little bit of money my- 
self. My colleagues all have to get their little patch of it, and 
there's no telling how many coppers will be left as my share. I'd 
never sell a life as cheap as this if there were any other way out. 
How much money have you got?" 

Happy Boy stood up, his brain bursting and his fists 
clenched. 

"I warn you," said the detective, "don't raise a hand or there 
won't be any you. There's a whole gang of men outside. Quick, 
get the money. I'm thinking of your face. Don't get mixed up as 
, 164 



to what's good and what's bad for you." Detective Sun's eyes 
had a glint in them that was ugly to see. 

''When have I ever done anybody any harm?" Happy Boy's 
voice was a sob, and when he had spoken he sat back down on 
the edge of the bed. 

"You haven't done anything to anybody, but you just hap- 
pened to hit the exact spot. The only time a human being is 
really well-off is when he's still in his mother's womb. We're 
both at the bottom of the scale, and tliere's no use talking." 
Detective Sun shook his head from side to side as if he were 
swept by a feeling of infinite melancholy. "All right, let it go 
at that. I'm doing you a wrong. But don't keep on dawdling." 

Happy Boy thought a while longer, but he could think of 
no plan. With shaking hands he brought his porcelain gourd 
out from under his bedclothes. 

"Let me look at it." Detective Sun smiled, and no sooner did 
he have it in his hands than he threw it against the wall, smash- 
ing it to bits. 



Happy Boy saw the coins scatter over the floor, and his 
heart split open. 

"Is there only this little bit?" 

Happy Boy made no sound, but only shivered. 

"We'll let it go at that. I'm no one to kill a man in a hurry. A 
friend's a friend. But you must know, buying a life with this 
pittance of money, you've got a real bargain." 

Happy Boy still made no sound but he was shivering and he 
started to crawl under his covers. 

"Don't touch that!" 


165 



^'As cold as it is . . Happy Boy glared at him with fire flam- 
ing out of his eyes. 

'When I tell you not to touch your beddings you don't touch 
it. Squirm away! Get going!" 

Happy Boy swallowed a mouthful of anger, bit his lips, 
pushed open the door, and walked out. 

The soft carpet on the ground was already more than an 
inch thick, and Happy Boy walked through it with his head 
sunk low. Everywhere there was whiteness and purity, except 
only for the big black footprints that he left behind him in the 
snow. 



BOY wanted to find a place to sit down and go 
vover the whole story in his mind, to get the things that 
had happened all straightened out, so at least he would know 
what came first and what came next and what came after that. 
And what if he did weep like a child before his thinking was 
done? It would be good for him to know what it meant to weep. 
Affairs had moved too quickly and changed too sharply for him; 
already his brain was unable to catch up with the events around 
him. But there was no place provided for him to sit down in. 
Snow was everywhere. The small teahouses had already put up 
tlie boards that shuttered their shop-fronts and had closed their 
doors. Even if he had found one of them open, he would not 
have wanted to go into it. He wanted to find a quiet secluded 
spot because he knew that the tears in which the balls of his 
eyes were floating might pour out at any moment. 



Since he had no place to sit down^ the next best thing was to 
walk slowly on. But where should he go? This silver white world 
had no place for him to even sit down in, nor was there in its 
cold infinity any place for him to go. In this limitless flat stretch 
of whiteness only the hungry little birds with empty stomachs 
and a lonely rickshaw man for whom there was no escape under- 
stood why it was that the wind sighed and moaned. 

Where to go? This was the immediate problem, and until it 
was settled there was no need of thinking of anything else. 
Should he go to one of the small inns? That wouldn't do. Con- 
sidering how relatively clean and new the suit of clothing he 
wore was, he would be sure to lose some of it in the middle of 
the night. And that was not to mention how much he feared the 
lice with which such a place would swarm. Should he go to 
a larger inn? He couldn't afford it. In his hands he had only one 
five-dollar bill; it was the sum total of all his wealth and assets. 
Should he go to a bathhouse? They put up their shutters at 
midnight, and you couldn't stay overnight in them. There was 
no place he could go. 

The clearer that became to him, the more pinched and 
straitened and harassed he felt. He had run his muddy course 
within the walls of Peking for so many years, and all he had got 
out of it was the clothing he wore and a five-dollar bill! Even 
his bedding was muddled away. From this he thought of tomor- 
row. What should he do tomorrow? Should he pull a rickshaw? 
Go again and pull a rickshaw! Hengl The end result of his rick- 
shaw-pulling had been that he could find nowhere to go; all 
that it had got him was the money he had managed to save, and 
now that had been stolen from him. 

Could he go into a small business? He had only five dollars 
as capital, and he would have to begin by buying even the flat 
carrying-pole from each end of which the hawker suspends his 
baskets bearing the wares he sells. Moreover, could he be sure 
that such a business would earn him a mouthful of grain to chew 



on? Starting from level ground and with no backing, a rickshaw 
puller could earn thirty or forty cents. To be a small business 
man you had to have capital, and you had, besides, no assurance 
that you could hope to earn enough to pay for your tliree meals 
a day. To wait until you had fed all your capital into such a pro- 
ject and then go back to pulling a rickshaw, wouldn't that be the 
same thing as taking your pants down when you only meant to 
fart? Wouldn’t that be just losing five dollars to no purpose at 
all? He couldn’t lightly let go of a single ten-cent piece or even 
one penny of this five dollars; this piece of paper was the last 
hope he had. 

Could he get a job as a servant? It wasn’t in his line. When 
it came to waiting on people, he just couldn’t do it. He couldn’t 
wash clothes and he didn’t know how to cook. There was 
nothing workable, nothing that he knew how to do. He was just 
a big, stupid, black, coarse, useless thing! 

Without being aware of it, or knowing by what route he had 
come, he had reached the Central Sea. From the bridge there 
was nothing visible but a vast emptiness on either side and, 
as far away as the eye could see, nothing but falling flakes of 
snow. It was not until then that he seemed to become aware of 
the fact that the snow had not abated. He felt the top of his 
head; the little woolen cap was already soaked with wetness. 
There wasn’t anyone but himself on the bridge, and even the 
policeman on the beat had ducked away to no one knew where. 
The few street lights blinked continuously as the fresh flakes 
fell on the hot bulbs and then melted away, and new flakes 
fell in their place. Happy Boy looked at the snow on all sides of 
him, and his heart became vast and vague and empty. 

Fie stood on the bridge a long time. The universe around 
him was already dead; no sound issued from its death, and no- 
where was there even the slightest movement. The gray-white 
snowflakes had found their time and tlieir opportunity, and in 
a flustered confusion that was yet light and quick they tuihbled 

168 



continually down, seeking to bury the earth deep in a white 
grave before anyone knew that it had perished. 

Through this quiet solitude Happy Boy heard the frail voice 
that calls one to the way of virtue. First he must not consider 
himself; he had still to go back to see how the Ts'ao family was. 
Only Mrs. Ts’ao and Kao Ma would be left there, and without 
a man around! Could anyone say that the last five dollars that he 
possessed had not been given him by Mr. Ts'ao? He did not dare 
think any further about it, but picked up his feet and started 
back, walking very fast. 

Outside the door there were some footprints, and in the road 
were two freshly made auto tracks. Could it be possible that 
Mistress Ts’ao had already gone? Why hadn't that fellow Sun 
nabbed her? 

At first he didn't dare TOlk across the pavement to push 
open the courtyard door, for fear he would again be seized. He 
looked to tlie right and the left — there was nobody. His heart 
began leaping up. He would try it and see what happened. Any- 
way he had no home to go to, and if somebody arrested him 
they'd just have to arrest him. Lightly he pushed against the 
door; it swung open. He stepped across the threshold and, keep- 
ing close to the wall of the outer courtyard, took a few cautious 
steps forward. Tlie light in his own room was still burning. His 
own room! He felt like sobbing out loud. Stooping low, he crept 
toward the window and stood outside it, listening for any 
sounds within. There was a coughing noise; he knew from the 
tone of it that it was Kao Ma. He pulled open the door. 

''Who is it? Ai, it's you! You frightened me to death!" Kao 
Ma pressed her heart, trying to compose herself, and sat down 
on her bed. "Happy Boy, what happened to you?" 

Happy Boy could not get out a reply to her question. He 
could only feel how many years it seemed since he had last seen 
her. His heart was stopped up with fever. 

"What kind of a thing is this?" Kao Ma's voice seemed ready 

169 


to break and become a sob as she went on. /'Before you came 
back, the master had already telephoned to tell us to go to the 
Tso house. He said, too, that you would be here right away. You 
did come— wasn't it myself that opened the door to let you in? 
As soon as I took one look and saw that you were with a 
stranger, I didn't say a word but went back into the mistress's 
room as quick as I could to help her get her things packed. 
From first to last you didn't come in, but left us there in the 
darkness and with the fims out to crawl about blindly trying to 
get everything together. 

"The little master was already sleeping fragrantly, and we had 
to lift him up out of his warm bedclothes and wrap him up. 
Then we had to go into the library and take down the paintings. 
From first to last you didn't show your face. What were you do- 
ing, I ask you? Wlien we'd got things packed in any old way, 
I'ust thrown together somehow, I came out to look for you. Wdl, 
there wasn't the shadow of you anywhere. The mistress was so 
angry-— it was half due to her being so excited— that she trem- 
bled. The only thing I could do was to call a car. But we couldn't 
fust act out The Plan of the Empty City' like it says in The 
Tliree Kingdoms'; we couldn't all of us just leave the house 
empty and open to anybody who wanted to come in. So I stuck 
out the hard bridge of my nose at the mistress and said to her: 
The mistress may go on, I'll stay here and watch the house. 
When Happy Boy comes back. I'll come as fast as I can to the 
Tso house. If he doesn't come back, I'll just accept my fate.' 
How do you explain it? What happened to you? Speak out!" 

Happy Boy had nothing to say. 

"Say something! Does that count as settling the matter, just 
sitting there dumb? What really did happen?" 

"You go ahead and leave!" It had been terribly hard for 
Happy Boy to find this one phrase that he could say. 

"Will you watch the house?" Kao Ma's anger had subsided a 
little. 



'Wlien you see the master, you tell him that the detective 
arrested me, but—but, well, he didn't arrest me.” 

''What kind of talk is that?” Kao Ma was so angry she looked 
as if she wanted to laugh. 

"You listen.” Happy Boy was angry now himself. "You tell 
the master to get away as quickly as he can. The detective said 
he was going to be sure to arrest him. Even the Tso family house 
isn't a safe place for him to be. Escape as quickly as possible! 
You go on. Fll jump over the wall into the Wang family com- 
pound and sleep a night there. Ill go hunting for a job. The 
master will have to forgive me.” 

"The more you say the more muddled I become.” Kao Ma 
sighed. "All right. 111 go. The little master might have caught 
cold, and 111 go as quickly as I can to see how he is. When I see 
the master. 111 say that Happy Boy says he should escape as 
quickly as he can. Tonight Happy Boy will lock the big front 
gate and jump over the wall into the Wang compound to sleep 
for the night; tomorrow hell go out to look for other work. Is 
that what you want me to say?” 

With ten thousand parts of mortification Happy Boy slowly 
nodded his head. 

After Kao Ma had left. Happy Boy locked the gate and went 
back into his room. The broken pieces of the porcelain gourd 
were scattered on the floor. He picked up a piece of it and 
looked at it, and then dropped it back on the floor. The covers 
on his bed had not been moved. It was strange. After all, what 
kind of a business was it? Could it possibly be that Detective 
Sun was not a real detective at all? It wasn't possible! If Mr. 
Ts'ao had not seen that there was danger, why should he have 
abandoned his house and run away? Happy Boy did not under- 
stand! He did not understand! He did not understand^ Un- 
consciously he sat down on the edge of his bed, and then sud- 
denly again, as if he had heard something that startled him, he 
jumped up. He couldn't stay here long. Suppose that fellow Sun 


should come back. In his heart the whole thing turned round 
and round: to leave like this was a fault which would make it 
hard for him to face Mr. Ts'ao again^ but with Kao Ma taking 
the message back to him to urge him to escape quickly, it was 
after all a thing that he could get over in his heart; it did not 
make the road impassable for his conscience. 

Speaking from the standpoint of conscience, Happy Boy had 
never deliberately cheated anybody or taken a mean advantage 
of anyone, but he himself had suffered a grievance. He had lost 
his own money, and now he had no means of guarding the 
money and possessions of Mr. Ts'ao. He went on talking to him- 
self in this vein, muttering away, while he was picking up and 
making ready his bedding. 

Lifting the roll of it up onto his shoulder, he put out the 
light and made his way out through the back courtyard. Then he 
put his burden down for a moment, gripped the top of the wall 
and pulled himself up to look over it. 

In a low voice he called: ''Old Ch'engl Old Ch'engr^ Old 
Ch'eng was the rickshaw man in the Wang household. 

No one answered, and Happy Boy made up his mind. He 
would jump over the wall and see what happened. First he put 
his bedding over, dropping it down noiselessly in the snow. His 
heart beat fast. Quickly he crawled over the top of the wall and 
leapt down on the otlrer side. He picked up his bedding and 
walking very lightly went to find Old Ch'eng. He knew the 
place where Old Ch'eng stayed. The whole household seemed 
to be asleep, and there wasn't a sound throughout the court- 
yard. Suddenly it came to Happy Boy that being a thief 
wouldn't be a very difficult job after all. He plucked up his 
courage, and stopped tiptoeing. The snow was firm under his 
feet and made a little crunching sound as he walked over it. He 
found Old Ch'eng's room and stood outside of it, coughing a 
little to awaken him. 

Old Ch'eng had evidently just gone to bed. "Who is it?" 

'■172 


Old Ch’eng turned on the light, put a tattered old fur-lined 
gown over his shoulders and opened the door. 

“What’s this? Happy Boy! At the third watch, in the middle 
of the night!” 

Happy Boy went in, put his bedding roll on the floor, and 
took the opportunity to sit down on it, all without saying a word. 

Old Ch'eng was thirty years old or more, and the flesh of his 
body was all covered with pimples, so hard that each one seemed 
to stand straight out. In ordinar)' times Happy Boy had no 
special friendship for him, beyond the fact tliat when they saw 
each other they spoke. Sometimes Mrs. Wang would go out 
shopping with Mrs. Ts’ao, and the two rickshaw boys W'ould go 



off somewhere and have a cup of tea together and rest a while. 
Happy Boy did not altogether respect Old Ch’eng. Old Ch'eng 
could run very fast^ but in a very flustered way, as if it took a 
lot of energy, and moreover he never looked as if he had a really 
firm grip on the rickshaw shafts. In spite of the fact that as a 
person Old Ch'eng was a very fine fellow, Happy Boy could 
never altogether forgive him for this fault, and therefore could 
never give him his complete respect. 

But tonight Happy Boy felt that Old Ch'eng was altogether 
lovable. Sitting there, Happy Boy could not say anything, but his 
heart was grateful and filled with warmth. Just a little while ago 
he had been standing on the bridge over the Central Sea; now 
he was in a warm room with a familiar person. The scene had 
shifted with such pressing speed that it had made his mind be- 
come suddenly empty and his head hot, as if with fever. 

Old Ch'eng had crawled back under his warm covers, and 
pointing to the tattered fur-lined gown that he had shed again, 
he said, 'Have a smoke. Happy Boy. There are cigarettes in the 
pocket— 'County Villainies.’ ” From the time that "County 
Villa” cigarettes had come into existence they had been called 
"County Villainies” by the rickshaw men, perhaps because of 
tlie two similar sounds. Tliey had known more of villainy than 
of villas. 

As a rule Happy Boy did not smoke, but this time he felt 
as if he could not refuse. Taking a cigarette, he suspended it 
from between his lips. 

"Whafs happened?” Old Ch’eng asked. "Did you quit 
your job?” 

"No.” Happy Boy was still sitting on his bedding roll. 
"There’s been trouble. The whole Ts’ao family have fled, and 
I don’t dare try to watch the house all alone.” 

"What kind of trouble?” Old Ch’eng sat up in bed. 

"I can’t tell you clearly. Anyway, it’s not just some little thing 
—it’s a plenty big trouble. Even Kao Ma has gone with them.” 


''All four doors wide open, and nobody caring what happein 
to the place?'' 

"I locked the big front gate of the compound/' 

"Heng!" Old Ch'eng reflected for what seemed half a day, 
and then asked: "Wouldn't it be a good thing if I said some- 
thing about it to Mr. Wang?" While he was speaking Old 
Ch'eng got up and started to wrap his aged fur-lined gown 
around him again. 

"Let's talk about that tomorrow. Tlie whole thing simply 
can't be clearly explained tonightl" Happy Boy was afraid Mr, 
Wang would question him closely about it while it was still so 
confused in his own mind that he'd never be able to get the 
story straight. 

He could not have known then how many months it would 
be, or how much else would befall him, before the truth of this 
incident was told him, but one thing was already obvious: the 
master and mistress and the little master and even Kao Ma had 
all got away, leaving no one but himself. Everybody had a plan; 
there was a crack through which they all could crawl — all except 
Happy Boy. He couldn't escape, because he was only the rick- 
shaw puller. A rickshaw boy swallows a very coarse grain, and 
what he spits up is blood. He sells the greatest strength and gets 
the smallest recompense. He stands in the lowest position 
among men and awaits the blows of all his fellows, of all their 
laws, and of every bitter circumstance. 

When he had finished smoking the cigarette, Happy Boy 
had still not figured out the principle of the thing, the right and 
wrong of it. He was like a chicken that the cook holds in his 
hand: the only thing he knows is that he will be lucky to draw 
liis next breath, and has no other thought. He wanted very 
much to dalle it over with Old Ch'eng, but there was nothing 
he could say. His words would not be enough to express his 
thoughts and anxieties. He had experienced every kind of suffer- 
ing and difficulty, but he could not open his mouth. He was 



like a dumb person. He had bought a rickshaw^ and had lost it; 
he had saved money, and had lost it; tlie end of all his labor 
had been to have someone come along and cheat him out of 
what he had earned. He had never dared risk exciting anyone's 
anger, and he even made way for the wild dogs on the street, 
and the final result was still that he had been so badly cheated 
that he could hardly draw his breatli. 

But first he had better not think of what was past and done 
with: what was he going to do tomorrow? He could not go 
back to the Ts'ao house— where should he go? 

''Will it be all right if I spend tire night here?" he asked. He 
was like a street cur that has found a corner in which to escape 
tire wind, and of which he will have to make the best for the 
time being. But even in a simple thing like that he had to be 
careful to see that he did not get in anyone else's way. 

"You just stay here. When the heavens are ice and the earth 
is covered with snow, where would you go? Will you be all 
right sleeping on tlie floor? You can crowd in with me in the 
bed if you'd like to." 

Unwilling to discommode his host. Happy Boy answered 
that the floor would be fine. 

Old Ch'eng went off to sleep. Happy Boy tossed back and 
forth, turned over and over, and from the beginning to the end 
never slept at all. In a little while the cold air sweeping across 
tlie floor froze his bedding into an ice-cold sheet of iron. He 
doubled his feet up under him, and his legs felt as if he was 
about to have cramps in their calves. The frigid winds that came 
in through the crack in the door were like a flock of cold needles 
stuck into the top of his head. With a fierce desperation he 
closed his eyes and ducked his head down under the covers, 
but still he couldn't sleep. He heard the heavy, even breathing 
of Old Ch'eng, and his heart filled with irritation and envy. 
Just then it would have made him extremely happy to get up 
and strike his friend, to wake him up too, and he was vexed 

rjS 



at not being able to do that. The later it got, the colder it be- 
came; he was so frozen that his throat itched, but he was afraid 
that T he coughed he would wake up Old Ch'eng. 

Unable to sleep, he thought in all earnest of getting up 
stealthily and going back to the Ts'ao house to take a look 
around. In any case, he had quit his job; there was no one in the 
compound; why shouldn't he go take a few things? His own few 
dollars of money tliat it had been so hard for him to save up 
had been stolen from him. It was on account of the Ts'ao family 
affairs that they had been stolen from him. Why could he not 
himself go over there now and steal a few things? Because of 
his working for the Ts'ao family he had lost his money; now to 
recover his loss from the Ts'ao family, was not that precisely 
proper? What could be more appropriate? Thinking in tliis way, 
his spirits rose and forthwith he forgot the cold. He would go 
right away. The money it had been so hard for him to come by 
was lost, and now he could get it back again so easily. Go now! 

He had already sat up, and then suddenly he laid himself as 
speedily back down again. It seemed as if Old Ch'eng had seen 
him. His heart started beating very rapidly. No, he could not be 
a thief. A little while back, in order to shake himself clear of 
the danger, he had failed to carry out Mr. Ts'ao's instructions. 
On account of that he would be unable to face his master; how 
could he go, on top of that, and steal his master's things? Fie 
could not do it! If he died of his poverty, he w^oiild not steal! 

How could he know that someone else would not go and 
rob the place? If that fellow Sun had taken away some of the 
things, w^ho would know the difference? Again Happy Boy sat 
up. In some distant place a dog barked several times. lie lay 
back once more. lie still could not go. If other people were 
going to steal, they'd just have to steal: that would not be a 
thing for which his own conscience would have to bear the 
shame. It was bad enough to be as povert^^-stricken as he was 
now; he couldn't put another black spot on his heart. 


^77 



Another thing to be said was that Kao Ma knew he had 
come to the Wang house; if something were lost during the 
night, whether he did it or not, he would still have done it. Not 
only was he unwilling to go steal anything himself; he was afraid 
that someone else might do it. It was very true that if during 
this particular night something was stolen, he might jump into 
the Yellow River and still not wash himself clean of the suspi- 
cion. He wasn't cold now— he was hot. He was so hot that the 
palms of his hands were perspiring. What should he do? Should 
he jump back over the wall into the Ts'ao compound to keep 
watch? He didn't dare. He had bought back his own life for a 
price in money; he could not again knowingly blunder into a 
trap like that. If he didn't go, and by some unlucky chance 
something was lost, what then? 

He could think of no clear course of action. For a third time 
he sat up, with his legs drawn up under him like a bow and his 
head so low that it almost touched the grass matting on the 
floor. His mind was heavy with a great weight, and his eyes 
wanted to close, but now he didn't dare sleep. The night was 
so terribly long: only for Happy Boy was there no time to close 
the eyes. 

He sat he did not know how long, and changed his plans he 
did not know how many times. Suddenly there was a light in 
his heart, and he leaned over and pushed at Old Ch'eng. ''Old 
Ch'eng! Old Ch'engl Wake up!" 

"What's the matter?" Old Ch'eng was very loath to open his 
eyes. "If you want to urinate, there's a night pot at the bottom 
of the bed." 

"Wake up! Turn on the light!" 

"Is there a thief or what?" In muddled bewilderment Old 
Ch'eng sat up. 

"Are you fully awake, so that you understand what's said 
to you?" 

ijS , . 


“Old Ch’eng, you take a good look. This is my bedding. 
These are my clothes. This five-dollar bill Mr. Ts’ao gave me. 
That’s all there is, isn’t it?” 

“That’s all. Why?” Old Ch’eng yawned. 

“Are you wide-awake? That’s all tlrere is of my things. I 
haven’t taken a blade of grass or a stick of wood tlrat belongs to 
the Ts’ao family?” 

“No, of course not. We brethren who eat long the food of a 
household, how would it do for us to have sticky hands? If it’s 
work that we can do, we do it. If we can’t do it, we don’t. How 
could we steal our employer’s things? Is that why you woke 
me up?” 

“Did you get a good look?” 

Old Ch’eng smiled. “Yes. There’s no mistake. I say, aren’t 
you cold?” 

“I’m all right.” 




'ECAUSE the snow caught the light and sent it glisten- 
'ing back to the sky again, the day seemed to come a little 
earlier than before. It would soon be the year’s end, and many 
people had bought chickens to fatten them up; tlie sound of the 
cocks’ crowing was many times what it would have been at other 
seasons. Everywhere there was the caw of chickens and over 
everything the promise of plenty and prosperity that the auspi- 
cious snow had brought. 

But Happy Boy had not slept all night. In the very first 
hours of morning, before daybreak, he had managed to close his 

179 


eyelids and doze a while. It was sleep without sleeping, like float- 
ing in water where the waves suddenly carried you high up and 
as suddenly slid you down again, so that your heart could not 
be at peace. The longer he slept this way the colder he got, and 
outside the house there canae from all four directions the sounds 
of the chickens. It was the actual truth that he could stand it no 
longer. He did not want to disturb Old Ch'eng, so he buckled 
his legs up under him and stopped his mouth with a corner of 
the bedding quilt to muffle his coughing. He still did not dare 
get up, and endured the waiting until his heart was parched with 
vexation. It was no easy thing for him to wait until daylight, to 
wait until the sounds of turning wheels and the calls of the 
cart-pushers came to the streets. 

He sat up but he was just as cold that way as he had been 
lying down. He got all the way up, looped the clotli loops on 
one side of the front of his gown over the little round balls of 
cloth that were the buttons on the other side, and opened a 
crack in the door to look out. The snow was not very deep: it 
had probably stopped falling sometime in the middle of the 
night. The weather seemed already to have cleared, but in the 
oozing gray of the morning mist he could not see very distinctly, 
and even the snow seemed to be covered with a pallid shadow 
of gray. In his first glance he saw the big footprints that he him- 
self had left the night before; although snow that had fallen 
afterward had buried and blurred them a little, they could still 
be seen, one depression after another. 

In the first place because it gave him something to do, and 
in the second place because he wanted to eliminate these traces 
of himself, he felt around inside the room until he found a 
broom and without a word went out to sweep away the snow. 
It was heavy and not easy to sweep; the broom he had found in 
his short minute of searching was not a large one, and he had to 
bend way over, using all his strength to get the snow off. When 
he had swept off the top layer, there was still a layer of very fine 

180 



snow that seemed already to have stuck itself fast to the ground. 
His posture was so tiring that he had twice to straighten himself 
up and rest a while before he had finally cleared the entire court- 
yard and got the snow all piled up around the trunks of tlie two 
young willow trees. There was by now a light sweat on his body; 
he was warmer and felt a little more relaxed. Stamping his feet 
to get the snow off them, he exhaled a long breath, very long 
and very white. 

Going back into the room, he put the broom down again in 
its original place, and was trying to put his bedding in order and 
get it rolled up when Old Ch'eng woke up, yawned, and, before 
he had properly closed his mouth again, asked, 'Is it late?’" The 
tones of his language were confused: he did not speak any one 
dialect clearly, but a mixture of all of them. He rubbed the 
moisture away from the corners of his eyes and as a part of the 
same gesture reached over to the pocket of his old fur-lined 
robe and felt out a cigarette. Only after he had had two or 
three puffs was he wide-awake. 

'TIappy Boy, you mustn't go yet! Wait until I boil a little 
water and we have a pot of steaming hot tea. Last night must 
have been enough for you to bear!" 

"Can't I go get the water?" Happy Boy said with a gracious 
air. But he had hardly spoken when tlie feeling of fright that the 
night before had brought him came back to him again, and 
suddenly the middle of his heart was so stopped up as to become 
one single hard little ball. 

"No, I'll go. You are still my guest." As he spoke, Old Ch'eng 
very quickly threw on his clothes, leaving the whole of his 
buttons unbuttoned, only throwing liis tattered gown about his 
shoulders, so that it hung like a bundle suspended from a stick, 
and with a cigarette clinging to his lips he ran out of the door. 

"Heh! You've already got the courtyard swept clean. You're 
a good one, in all truth. You'll have to accept my invitation." 

Happy Boy felt a little lighter at heart. 

i8i 



He had not waited long when Old Ch'eng came back toting 
two big bowls of sweet broth of congee, along with he did not 
know how many horse's-hoof cakes and crisp 'little deviF^ 
biscuits fried in oil. 

"I haven’t steeped the tea yet. First let’s drink a little of this 
broth. Come on, eat. If there’s not enough, we’ll go buy some 
more. If we haven’t any money, we’ll buy it on credit. Those of 
us who earn our living in bitter labor must not try to cheat our 
mouths of the food we need. Come on!” 

It was full daylight now, and the room was clear and cold in 
the transparent brightness. The men held their bowls to their 
lips with both hands and the noise they made in drinking was 
loud and sweet to hear. Neither of them said anything and, 
almost as if it had been in the same long inhalation, they ate up 
all the cakes and biscuits. 

"How about it?” Old Ch’eng finally asked as he picked a 
sesame seed from between his teeth. 

"I must be going.” Happy Boy looked at his bedding roll on 
the floor. 

"Tell me about it. After all I still don’t understand what hap- 
*pened or how it happenedi” Old Ch’eng held out a cigarette, 
and Happy Boy accepted it, nodding his head. 

Thinking it over. Happy Boy felt a little ashamed not to tell 
the whole story to Old Ch’eng. So he went over the affair of the 
night before, one thing following the other and all connected 
together just as it had happened. And although it cost him a 
tremendous effort, it could not be said that the result was in- 
complete in any detail. 

Old Ch’eng sat for what seemed half a day with his lips 
pursed, as if he were tasting the flavor of the chronicle. 

"According to the way I view it, you should still go hunt up 
Mr. Ts’ao. You can’t just give up your job like this, and you 
can’t just lose your money like that. Didn’t you say a moment 
ago that Mr. Ts’ao had given you instructions, had told you that 

■■ ' ■ 182, 


if you saw that things were going badly you should run away? 
Well, then, as soon as you stepped out of the car you were 
blocked off by a detective. Whose fault was that? It wasn't that 
you weren't loyal and faithful, it was because the whole affair 
was too crooked, and you had no other course hut first to con- 
sider your own life. From the way I look at it, there's nothing 
in that that would make it hard for you to face the Ts'aos. You 
go and hunt for Mr. Ts'ao, and tell him the true facts from one 
to ten and from beginning to end. I don't think he can possibly 
hold it against you, and there's even a chance that he might 
make good your loss! You go ahead— leave your bedding roll 
here, and make an early start to look for him. The days are 
short and by the time the sun is up it will be eight o'clock. 
Hurry along and don't lose any time." 

Happy Boy's heart came alive again. He still had a little feel- 
ing that it would be hard to face Mr. Ts'ao, but Old Ch'eng had 
spoken very close to true reason. When a detective with a gun 
under his gown had pushed him back into a hole and stopped 
him up, how could he at that moment still have regard for the 
affairs of tlie Ts'ao family? 

''Go on," Old Ch'eng urged him. "I think last night you were 
so tied up in your mind you couldn't think. Nobody can guaran- 
tee that when they meet up with an affair of great urgency they 
won't be befuddled in the head. I can assure you that the road 
I've suggested to you is not the wrong one. I'm a little older 
than you are, and I can't help but have had more experience. 
You go ahead— isn't the sun already coming out?" 

The light of the morning sun had borrowed the brightness 
of the snow and already had illumined the whole city. The blue 
heavens, the white snow, the light in the sky and the light on 
the snow, with tlie gold of the roofs shimmering between, was 
so thrilling that one could hardly open one's eyes to look at it. 
Happy Boy was about to be on his way when someone knocked 
at the gate. 


■183 



Old Ch'eng went out to see who it was, and from the 
gateway he called back, "'Happy Boy, it's someone looking 
for you." 

It was Wang Two from the Tso household. His nose was so 
cold that clear v^ater was dripping from it, and he stood outside 
the gate-room stamping his feet to get the snow off of them. 
When Old Ch'eng saw Happy Boy coming out toward the gate 
too, he offered them his place. "Let's all of us go inside and 
sit down." The three of them went into the room together. 

"Well, then—" Wang Two mbbed his hands. "I've come to 
watch the house. How do I get in? The big gate is locked. Well, 
then— the cold that comes after the snow is truly cold. Well, 
then— Mr, Ts'ao and Mrs. Ts'ao both left early this morning; 
they went to Tientsin or maybe to Shanghai, I couldn't say very 
clearly which. Mr. Tso charged me with coming to look after 
the house. Well, then— it's certainly cold." 

Suddenly Happy Boy felt like sobbing. Just as he was about 
to follow the advice and urging of Old Ch'eng and go look for 
Mr. Ts'ao, Mr. Ts'ao himself goes away. He stood stupidly for 
a long time, and then asked: 

* "Mr. Ts'ao didn't say anything about me?" 

"Well, then— no, he didn't. Before daylight they all got up. 
There simply wasn't a chance to say anything. The train, well, 
then— left at seven-forty. Well, then— how will I get across the 
courtyard?" Wang Two was in great hurry to get over into the 
Ts'ao compound. 

"Jump over the wall!" Happy Boy looked at Old Ch'eng, as 
if to turn Wang Two over into his care, and began rolling up 
his bedding. 

"Where are you going?" Old Ch'eng asked. 

"To the Human Harmony Rickshaw Shed— there's no other 
place I can go." This one sentence was laden with all the griev- 
ances and bitterness in Happy Boy's heart, and all the mortifica- 
tion, and all the feeling of helplessness. He had no other way — 

' 1,84 „ 


the best he could do was to surrender. Every other road was 
sealed against him, and he could only make his way through 
the beautiful white world of snow to the wretched black pagoda 
that was the Tiger Girl. He had put store by honor, ambition, 
loyalty, integrity; all these things were utterly useless to him; 
his was the destiny of a dog. 

Old Ch'eng walked over to him. *Tou go your way. And it 
isn't to be saying it in front of Wang Two that I tell you that I 
know you haven't taken a single blade of grass or one splinter 
of wood that belongs to the Ts'ao family. May you find good 
fortune on the road, and w'henever you get back to this street 
you must come in and while away some time with me. It might 
be that I will hear of a good job, and I could recommend you 
for it. When you've gone, I'll take Wang Two over to the other 
side. Is there coal there?" 

'The coal and kindling wood are all in the little room off 
the back courtyard." Happy Boy swung his bedding over his 
shoulder. 


Already the snow on the streets was no longer so white. On 
the avenues the wheels of passing cars had packed it down so 
tight it showed something of the color of ice. In the unpaved 
byways the hoof prints of horses had trampled it into dark 
splotches only interspersed with a white that was pitiable to see. 
Happy Boy thought of nothings attending only to the toting of 
his bedding and his own forward steps. Without once stopping 
or slackening his pace he walked straight to the Human Har- 
mony Rickshaw Shed. He did not dare stop at the gate: if he 
paused just once, he knew he would not have the courage to go 
in. So he walked directly in, his face so hot it was burning. 

He had already prepared a speech that he would say to Tiger 
Girl: 

'1 have come. Do what you see fit. Anything you do will be 
all right. I am helpless."' 

When he did see her, he turned this statement around many 
times in his heart, but from first to last he remained unable to 
speak it out. He had no such facility with his lips. 

Tiger Girl had just got up, her hair was all grizzled and 
sticking out at angles, her eyelids were swollen, and over her 
black face was a layer of little white chicken-pimples, like a 
frozen capon from which all the feathers have been plucked. 

''Yol You've come back." Her voice was warm and intimate, 
and the laughter in her eyes made them bright. 

^'Rent me a rickshaw." Happy Boy kept his head down and his 
eyes fixed on the snow that was still unmelted on his shoes. 

"'Go tell the old man about it." She spoke in a low voice, and 
as she finished the sentence she pursed her lips and moved 
them to indicate the direction of the east room. 

Fourth Master Liu was in his room and in the act of drink- 
ing tea. In front of him was a great white chafing stove, the 
flames from which reached up over six inches from the coals. 
When he saw Happy Boy come in, he said, half in vexation and 
half in jest: "You're a slick one! Let me count-— how many days 
,"'186 ■ 



has it been since you were here last? How's your worlc? Have you 
bought a rickshaw yet?'' 

Happy Boy shook his head, tlie words jabbing so deep in his 
heart that it was like a pain that he could feel. ''Fourth Master^ 
you still have to give me a rickshaw to pull." 

"Hengl you've puffed away your job like you'd blow out the 
light of a candle, haven't you? Again! All right, you go pick out 
a rickshaw for yourself." 

Fourth Master Liu emptied a teacup. "Come. First drink a 
cup of tea." 

tiappy Boy picked up the cup in both hands and, standing 
before the stove, drained it in one big gulp. The tea was extraor- 
dinarily hot, the fire extraordinarily warm, and suddenly he felt 
a little sleepy. He put the cup down and was just about to go out 
when Fourth Master called to stop him. 

"Wait before you go. What are you in a hurry about? I want 
to tell you: you've come just at the right time. The twenty- 
seventh is my birthday, and I want to put up a matshed and 
invite guests. The thing for you to do is to help out for two or 
three days — there's no need of your going out right away again 
to pull a rickshaw. None of them" — Fourth Master waved his 
hand in the direction of the courtyard — "can be depended on. 
I don't want to call any of those profligate and dissipated 
wretches in to help and have them stumbling around raising a 
blind rumpus. If you'll help me it'll be all right. When some- 
thing should be done, you go ahead and do it, and don't wait for 
me to tell you. First go out and sweep up the snow, and at noon 
ril invite you to share a bowl of food that'll have fire under it." 

"Yes, Fourth Master." Happy Boy had thought it out: since 
he had come back to this place, he would put everything in the 
hands of the father and daughter of the Liu family. However 
they wanted to push him around would be all right; he would 
take his orders and accept his fate. 

"Didn't I tell you?" Tiger Girl chose this time to come in. 

. 187 



'"Happy Boy is still the one. Everyone else laclcs just a little 
something of his/' 

Old Liu smiled. Happy Boy's head hung even farther down. 

"Come, Happy Boy!" Tiger Girl was calling him to go out 
with her. "I'm giving you money to go buy a broom, one made 
of bamboos so that it'll be good for sweeping the snow. You 
must hurry and get it swept up. The man who puts up tlie 
matshed is coming today." 

As they walked across to her room she was counting out the 
money for him, and at the same time whispering to him, "Look 
a little brighter and more alert. Try to please the old man. 
There's hope for our business." 

Happy Boy said nothing, nor did he get angry. It was as if 
his heart were dead. He thought of nothing, only that one more 
day dragged through would be one more day gone by. If there 
was food he would eat, drink he would drink, work to do he 
would do it. As long as his hand and feet were not idle he need 
only turn about a few times and the daylight was gone. The best 
thing he could do would be to study the ways of the blindfolded 
mule that patiently pulls the upper grindstone. Were you to 
ask it one thing there would be three that it did not know; all 
it could do was to plod darkly through its circuit, turning the 
grindstone round and round. 

At the same time he could feel that no matter what he did or 
didn't do he could not find delight in it or real elation. In spite 
of his unwillingness to think, to speak, or to be angry, his heart 
was blocked up with something as completely as if it had been 
a bottle with the stopper stuck way down into its long neck. 
During the time when he was working he could forget tempo- 
rarily, but if he had only the shortest period of leisure he would 
feel that piece of something again— as soft as cotton but always 
large; it had no distinct taste or flavor, and yet he felt terribly 
choked by it, as he would have been by a great sponge down be- 
low his throat. 

188 


With his heart stopped up by this things he forced himself to 
work up enough energy to go about the tasks given him, in order 
that he might get so tired in doing tliem that he wouldn't be 
able to move any farther, and then he could fall into a heavy 
fevered sleep. The night he turned over to the governance of 
his dreams, the daytime to that of his feet and hands. It was as 
if he were a dead man who could do the work of a living one. 
He swept away the snow, he bought things, he ordered the 
kerosene lamp, he polished rickshaws, he moved tables and 
chairs, he ate the dinner that Fourth Master Liu prepared as a 
reward for his workmen, he went to bed at night and got up in 
the morning; he did all these things without clearly knowing 
that he was doing any of them. There were no words in his 
mouth and no thoughts in his heart; all he could feel was that 
dark, hidden, sponge-like thing that had sopped up the whole 
of his spirit. 

The snow on the ground had been swept clear, and that on 
the roofs had gradually melted away. The matshed builder had 
shouted the words that told everyone he was climbing up to the 
housetop, and from there he raised the bamboo framework over 
which the matshed was to be built. It had all been described 
and agreed upon: it was to be a shed large enough to cover the 
whole courtyard, and completely enclosed so that it could be 
heated. There were to be coverings and balusters and trim- 
mings on three sides, and glass windows on all three sides as 
well. Inside the matshed there were to be glass partitions, and 
scrolls hung along the walls; wherever the wood showed it was 
to be wrapped in red clotli. The center door and the doors on 
either side of it were all alike to be festooned in cloths of bril- 
liant coloring; the shed to house the kitchen was to be put up 
in the rear courtyard. Because it was the Fourth Master's sixty- 
ninth birthday, one year short of his seventieth, and he wanted 
to carry out an uproarious celebration of it, the first important 
step was to put up a handsome matshed, a really respectable one. 

189 



On account of the shortness of the winter dayS; the matsbed 
builder was only able to put up the structure of the shed itself 
and the balusters witli the cloths with the lucky characters on 
them; the paintings and tifie hangings he would have to come 
back the next day to put in place. Fourth Master Liu got in a 
great rage about this builder of harmonious matsheds; a rage 
that made his face a flying scarlet. It was because of this that 
he sent Happy Boy scurrjdng out to hurry up the man who was 
to send them the kerosene lamp, and to tell the cook on no 
account to neglect his duties. As a matter of fact, neither of 
them was at all likely to forget, but the old man was not easy 
in his mind. 

When Flappy Boy had just come running back from this 
errand. Fourth Master sent him out again to borrow sets of the 
ivory counters with which machiang is played; he was to borrow 
three or four sets— when the day came nothing was going to 
do but that the old man should gamble until he was content. 
Once the counters were borrowed. Happy Boy was told to go 
out again to borrow a phonograph— -when you celebrate a birth- 
day you certainly have to have a little noise. Happy Boy's legs 
never stopped even for a little while; he kept running from one 
place to another until eleven o'clock at night. He had grown 
accustomed to pulling a rickshaw— to go racing about without 
the shafts in his hands made him even more weary. The last 
time he came back to the shed even he, even Happy Boy, could 
hardly lift his feet. 

'Tou're a good one," the old man said. 'Ton'll do! If I had 
a son like you, even if I had to live two or three years less, it 
would still be good. You go rest— tomorrow there'll still be 
things to do." 

Tiger Girl, standing to one side, winked at Happy Boy. 

Early the next morning the matshed builder arrived to sup- 
ply the deficiencies in his labors. He hung the brightly painted 
cloths— there were pictures of war scenes from "The Three 

190 


Kingdoms”: the three battles in which Liu Pei fought Lii Pu; 
the fighting on the hillside where Chao Yun saved the defeated 
Liu Pei's son; the debacle in which Liu Pei's encampments were 
destroyed by fire, and from which the hero himself escaped only 
by the grace of a miracle; and other storied happenings—the big 
painted faces and the small ones were all astride their horses, 
flourishing spears and swords. Old Man Liu stretched his neck 
to look them all over carefully and felt well satisfied. 

Close on the heels of the matshed builder came the furni- 
ture store men. They set up eight tables inside the matshed; 
the table aprons, the chair cushions, and the stool covers were 
all of silk with great red flowers embroidered on them. An altar 
to the God of Longevity was set up in the ceremonial room; the 
censers and the candelabra were of cloisonnd enamelware in a 
beautiful blue, and before the table were four red rugs. The 
sight of them reminded Old Man Liu that they hadn't any 
apples to set around, and he sent Happy Boy off in a hurry to 
order some. Behind the old fellow's back Tiger Girl slipped 
two dollars into Happy Boy's hand, telling him to get peaches 
and cakes of longevity and to have baked on each of the peaches 
one of the Eight Immortals; these were to be as if they had been 
a present from Happy Boy himself. 

When he had bought the apples, tliey went to work to set 
them out, and after what was not a very long while the peaches 
and cakes of longevity that he had ordered arrived too, and they 
put them in back of the apples. The peaches were so large that 
the lips of the cleft near the top looked like a mouth, and the 
figure of the Immortal as if he were issuing from it; it was mar- 
velously genteel and large-spirited. 

''Happy Boy bought them as presents for you. See how the 
eyes of his heart overlook nothing!” Tiger Girl was stuffing the 
ears of her father with good words for Happy Boy. Fourth Mas- 
ter looked at him and smiled. 

The hall for the celebration of the aged one's birthday still 

191 



lacked the one immense character ^Xongevity"' which should 
hang in the center of the back wall behind the long table on 
which the censers stood. According to custom, one need not 
prepare this character oneself: one's friends presented it. Up to 
now no one had sent one; Fourth Master was of a hasty and 
impetuous disposition, and once more he flew into a rage. 

''Whenever there's a red affair— a wedding or a birthday— or 
a white one, a funeral, I always run over to be down in front, but 
when I have a celebration, his mother's!— they walk off and 
leave me on an empty stage." 

"Tomorrow's only the twenty-sixth, and the tables won't be 
ready until then. Why are you in such a hurry?" Tiger Girl 
called out across the shed to console him. 

"I want to get everything prepared and set out at once. It 
grieves my heart to look at it when it's put together piecemeal 
like this, all in little fragments and odds and ends. I say. Happy 
Boy, the carbide light has to be installed today. If they haven't 
sent it here by four o'clock this afternoon. I'll cut their flesh 
into little strips and hack them to death." 

"Happy Boy, you go once more to hurry them up." Tiger Girl 
purposely leaned heavily on his aid and always she was ealling 
him and asking him to do something when her father was in 
earshot. Happy Boy didn't utter a sound; when he understood 
what w^as being asked of him he went off to do it. 

"It isn't because I'm saying it, Old Pa." Tiger Girl pursed her 
lips a little as she spoke: "If you had had a son, if he wasn't like 
me, he'd be like Happy Boy. It's a pity that my spirit stole into 
the wrong womb, but there's no help for that now. As a matter 
of fact, it wouldn't be too bad to have a fellow like Happy Boy 
as an adopted son. Look at him— he doesn't even let a fart the 
whole day long, but he gets all the work done just the same." 

Fourth Master Liu made no answer, but sat thinking. Then 
suddenly he asked: "The phonograph? Is it here? Let's have a 
song!" 



A broken-down old phonograph, borrowed from no one 
knew where, was brought out and wound up. The needle was 
old and the record worn-out: every sound the machine let out 
was like the howl of a cat when someone steps on its tail, and 
the shrill shriek twisted in your heart like an awl. But Fourth 
Master didn't mind that— just so it made a noise it w^as all right. 

By that afternoon everything was in readiness, and only 
awaited the coming of the cook on the following day to prepare 
the tables. Fourth Master had gone all over the place on a tour 
of inspection: everywhere tlie flowers were red and the willo’ws 
green, and he nodded his head in approval. 

That evening he went down to the Coal Store In Accord 
With Heaven to invite the manager to keep the accounts of 
the celebration for him. His name was Feng, he came from 
Shansi Province, and he kept very careful accounts. Mr. Feng 
came right over to see about it, and sent Happy Boy out to buy 
two large red account books and a scroll of paper glazed in a 
felicitous scarlet. He unrolled the scroll, inscribed a series of 
''Longevity" characters on it, and then cut it up into sections, 
each with a character, and went around pasting them up in ap- 
propriate places. Fourth Master Liu felt that Mr. Feng truly 
had a clear concise mind, and immediately wanted to invite two 
more people over so that they could have a round of machiang. 
Mr. Feng, knowing how sharp a player Fourth Master was, 
didn't dare accept. 

His failure to get up a game left Fourth Master a little angr}v 
and he called together several of the rickshaw men. "How about 
playing a game of Pawn the Jewel? Have you the guts to do it 
or not?" 

Tliey would all have liked to play, but none of them had the 
courage to play with the Fourth Master. Who didn't know that 
in the old days he had owned a gambling house? 

"You flock of stuffed toys! How did you ever come to be 
alive." Fourth Master was working himself into another rage. 

. ' 193 '. '■ 



''Wlien I was as young as you are^ I wasn't afraid to play even 
if I didn't have a copper in my pocket. Fd talk about losing 
when Fd already lost, and not before. Come on!" 

''Can we play for coppers?'' one of the rickshaw men asked 
tentatively. 

"Keep your coppers! Fourth Liu doesn't play at coaxing chil- 
dren." The old man swallowed his cup of tea in one mouthful, 
and rubbed his bald head. "Let's count that settled. If you in- 
vited me to play, I wouldn't play. I say, you fellows tell all the 
others: tomorrow the tables are going to be set out, and in the 
afternoon my relatives and friends will be coming. All the rick- 
shaws must be in the shed at four o'clock, and you can't be push- 
ing back and forth crowding and confusing everybody with your 
rickshaws after that time. Tomorrow's rickshaw rental you 
needn't pay; you can all pull your rickshaws for nothing for one 
day, and you must all recite over in your hearts the lucky phrases 
that will bring me good fortune. Don't be unkind and don't 
act without conscience. 

"Day after tomorrow is the birthday itself, and nobody is per- 
mitted to take out his rickshaw. At eight-thirty in the morning 
I will spread out for you six main courses with as many large 
bowls and two seven-inch bowls, four small plates and one 
chafing dish; I will be able to look you all in the face. You must 
wear your long gowns, and the man who comes in dressed in a 
miserable short jacket is the man who will get kicked out. When 
you've finished eating, do me the favor of squirming away, so 
that I can receive my relatives and friends fittingly. They will 
be served three large meat courses, six platters of cold meats, 
six bowls of vegetables roasted in a frying pan, four more large 
dishes, and a chafing dish. I'm telling you plainly ahead of time: 
you mustn't stand around and look on greedy-eyed. Friends and 
relatives are friends and relatives; I'm not asking anything of 
you. Those of you who have any sympathy in your hearts for 
your fellow man can give me ten large coppers each as a birth- 

m 



day present, and I won't consider the amount too small; if yon 
don't bring me a single copper, but only knock your head on the 
ground three times before me, I will still accept that. Only you 
must be well-behaved and orderly, do you understand? In the 
evening anybody who still wants to eat my food can come back 
after six o'clock, and whatever is left over, whether it's much or 
little, all belongs to you. But it won't do to come back early. 
Do you hear? Have you all understood?" 

'Tomorrow some of the fellows are pulling the night shift. 
Fourth Master," a middle-aged rickshaw puller said. 'How can 
they put their rickshaws up at four o'clock?" 

'Those who are pulling the night shift can come back for 
their rickshaws after eleven o'clock. In any case they can't be 
crowding and pushing around while there are people in the 
matshed. You are rickshaw pullers: Fourth Liu is no fellow 
craftsman of yours, do you understand?" 

There was nothing that anyone in the group could say, and 
they felt as if they were on a high stage with no steps leading 
down from it by which they might leave. There was no way for 
them to make a graceful exit, and they all stood there as stiff 
and numb as if they had been so many mummies. Fourth Mas- 
ter's words had enclosed in the heart of each a feeling of anger 
and resentment and inequality. Although having one day's rick- 
shaw rent remitted was an advantage, still who among them 
would be willing to eat a free meal? Did not each of them have 
to give out at least forty coppers as a present to the old man? 
And, moreover. Fourth Master had spoken so discourteously to 
them that it was as if, when he celebrated his birtliday, they 
should all scamper away like rats and hide. 

And then again, on the main day, the twenty-seventli, not to 
let any of them take their rickshaws out, just at the time when 
the New Year was near and there was plenty of business! Fourth 
Master Liu could well sacrifice one day of income from rentals, 
but the crowd could not endure keeping company all day with 

■m : 



a bursted bubble. They stood there daring to be angry but not 
daring to show it in speech, and the words they were saying 
over and over in their hearts were not lucky phrases to bring 
good fortune to Fourth Master Liu. 

Tiger Girl tugged at Happy Boy's sleeve, and he walked out 
with her. 

It was as if the anger of the group had found the opening 
through which it could spend itself. They glared at Happy Boy's 
retreating form. For these last two days they had all felt that 
Happy Boy had become the running dog of the Liu family. He 
was toadying to them for all his life was worth, laboring uncom- 
plainingly and bearing every grievance, just for the honor of 
being their little scullery boy. 

Happy Boy himself knew nothing of this; he was helping 
the Liu family prepare for its big affair because the work helped 
him drive away the vexation in his own heart. In the evening he 
said nothing to the others because there was in the nature of 
things nothing that he could say. They knew nothing of his 
grievances and therefore imagined that it was because he was so 
busy currying favor with Fourth Master that he had no time to 
make conversation with them. 

The care that Tiger Girl took of Happy Boy had a particu- 
larly sour taste in tlie hearts of the others. When they thought 
of the things before their eyes, how Fourth Master Liu would 
not even let them go in and out of his matshed of felicity at 
will, and yet Flappy Boy would certainly be able to eat the best 
food all day long — weren't they all rickshaw men together? 
Why, then, have a third class, and a sixth class and a ninth 
class? Look at that—the Tiger Girl was calling Happy Boy outi 
The eyes of every man in the group followed him; their legs, 
too, felt like moving and they shuffled out, abusive words be- 
hind their lips. As they came through the door, Tiger Girl was 
just in the act of talking to Happy Boy under the kerosene light, 
and they all looked at each other and nodded their heads. 

196 



Liu family affair was carried out with much color and 
bustle and commotion and ado. Fourth Master Liu was 
very well satisfied to have so many people coming and knocking 
their heads on the ground before him and offering him their 
birthday congratulations. Especially sufficient to make him 
proud of himself was the fact that many of his old friends hur- 
ried themselves over to proffer their felicitations. From the pres- 
ence of these old friends he could see that not only was the 
affair a huge success^ but that it showed how completely he had 
reformed and changed for the better. In the clothing that his 
friends wore they had already dropped behind in the ranks, 
while Fourth Master's fur gowm and silken fur-lined jacket were 
both newly made. From a business standpoint many of these 
old friends of his had in former years been better off than him- 
self, but now — in the changes of fortune through which they 
had all passed in the last twenty or thirty years— the further 
the muddy river had rolled the dirtier it had become, and the 
longer they lived the worse off they became. Some of them 
found it very difficult now to eat a full meal. Looking at them 
and then looking at his own matshed of felicity, his chapel of 
longevity, the cloth scroll so bravely painted with the Battle 
of the Long Incline, and the feast of the three great bowls, he 
felt how true it was that he had grown taller than them all by 
a head; he had ''reformed." Even when it came to gambling, he 
had prepared machiang sets for his guests; that was much more 
refined and polished than playing the lottery game called 
"Pawning the Precious Thing." 


197 



For all that, in the midst of this appearance of gayety and 
life, he still felt a sense of cold loneliness, of a sadness that made 
it difficult for him to carry on. He had grown accustomed to a 
single life, and he had originally thought of the guests at his 
birthday party as being limited to the managers and staffs of the 
shops in the locality or with which he had dealings, together 
with some of the ''bare sticks/" the unmarried rogues and bache- 
lors, with whom he had been associated in earlier years when 
he lived in the outside world and went freely about the town. 
He had not thought that there might be a few women guests. 
Although Tiger Girl could receive them for him and take care 
of them, still their presence made him feel suddenly the solitude 
of his house. He had no woman to keep him company, but only 
his daughter, who moreover had grown up to look more like a 
man than a woman. Supposing Tiger Girl had been a boy, 
naturally he would early have established his own home and 
would by now have children. Then, even though he himself 
were an old widower, he would still not be so lonely and 
wretched. Yes, he lacked nothing himself. All he lacked was a 
son. The greater his own age became, the slimmer and slimmer 
grew his chances of having a son. Receiving felicitations on the 
length of one"s life was by right a very happy occasion, but it 
seemed at the same time as if one ought to be weeping. No mat- 
ter how completely he had "reformed,"" or how much better off 
he was, if he had no one to carry on his business after him, had 
he not taken all his pains to no purpose? 

Throughout the forenoon he had been extraordinarily 
pleased to have all these people prostrating themselves before 
him and wishing him a prolonged life; he had puffed himself 
up to seem very big and put on a grand manner indeed, as if he 
were a hero so great that he had wrested from the mystic sea 
turtle the position of world-supporter, and was now due all the 
reverence that once was paid to that fabulous godhead. 

By the afternoon a little of this air with which he had been 
' 19^ . 


inflated had leaked out. Seeing the children that the women 
guests had tugged along with them, he was both admiring and 
envious. At the same time there was the problem of how to act 
toward the children themselves: he did not dare assume an air 
of too great intimacy toward them, and yet not to do so left 
him feeling constrained and unnatural. It irritated him so that 
he felt like flying into a rage, but again he was unwilling to do 
that forthwith because he knew that he was himself a man of 
the world and therefore could not put out into the very faces 
of his friends and relatives a stench like that. He hoped that 
the day would be over quickly, very quickly: he could bear this 
punishment no longer. 

There was also a further circumstance which lent imperfec- 
tion to his felicity: Happy Boy almost got into a fight. 

The food had been set out for the rickshaw pullers at a little 
after eight o'clock. They were all a little grudging about it; al- 
though they had had a day's rickshaw rental remitted the day 
before, still none of them had come empty-handed this morning 
to eat a free meal— whether it was a ten-cent piece or forty cop- 
pers, much or little, each had brought his share of gift-money. 
In other times they were just laborers, sons of bitterness and 
toil, and Fourth Liu was the master of the rickshaw yard; today, 
according fo the way they looked at it, they were guests and 
shouldn't receive this kind of treatment. What was more, when 
they finished eating they had to leave, and weren't going to be 
permitted to take their rickshaws out, right at the year's end, 
die one time that business was really good! 

Happy Boy knew for a certainty that the ""'finish eating and 
be on your way" rule did not apply to him, but he wanted to 
have his meal with the crowd. First, the earlier he finished eat- 
ing the sooner he could be about his work and, second, it 
seemed more friendly. Wlien he sat down with the crowd, they 
turned all their displeasure with Fourth Master Liu upon him. 
He had hardly got into his seat when someone said, "Ai! You 


199 



are an honored guest. How can you be sitting at the same table 
with us?'' 

Happy Boy smiled his good-hearted silly smile without hav- 
ing caught the idea or tasted the flavor of the remark. In the last 
few days he had not opened his mouth to say a single idle word, 
and for that reason his mind did not seem to be functioning 
now. 

The group did not dare to make their feelings manifest to 
Fourth Master Liu: the best thing they could do was to eat a 
few mouthfuls more of his food than otherwise they would have 
done. There were no extras of the meat and vegetables, but 
there was no way of limiting the wine— was it not the wine of 
felicity, and how then could you be niggardly of it? By a kind 
of tacit agreement they all took to the wine to work off the 
violence of their anger at Fourth Master. 

Some of them drank in a kind of depressed solitude; others 
boisterously played the fingers game with one another. Old man 
Liu could not prevent their doing that. Seeing the crowd drink- 
ing, Happy Boy felt that it was not convenient for him to be 
too much out of things, so he drank a couple of cups with them. 
As they drank and drank, everybody began to get red-eyed, and 
their lips got past the point where they could govern them. 

One of them even said, ''Happy Boy Camel, that job you've 
got is a beautiful one! It gives you enough food to eat each day, 
waiting on the old master and his daughter. And when tomor- 
row comes you won't have to pull a rickshaw — you can perform 
two different kinds of jobs at the same time." 

Happy Boy got a little bit of the idea but he still didn't take 
it to heart. From the time he had come back to the Human 
Harmony Rickshaw Shed he had determined to put aside alto- 
gether any idea of acting the "hero" or the "real son of Han"; 
he sought only to submit to the will of heaven in all things. 
Whoever wanted to say whatever they wanted to say could 
say it. He would repress his anger. 


200 


Then someone else said^ 'That fellow Happy Boy walks a 
road of his own. We depend on the strength of our legs to earn 
our money: that fellow Happy Boy is an inside worker.’' Eveiy- 
body started to laugh loudly. Happy Boy could feel that they 
were all snapping at him, but he had borne so great a grievance, 
why should he pay any attention to a few idle words? So again 
he made no sound. 

When they saw they were getting something for nothing, 
the people at a nearby table joined in, one of them calling over, 
''Happy Boy, when tomorrow comes and you’re the master of 
the yard, you mustn’t forget your fellow rickshaw men.” 

Still Happy Boy said nothing, and one of the men at his 
own table spoke up, "Say something. Camel.” 

Happy Boy’s face flushed red, and in a low voice he asked, 
'TIow could I become master of the yard?” 

"Heng, why can’t you? Under the very eyes of tlie beholder 
the magic happens, and the rickshaw man is a rickshaw^ man 
no longer.” 

Happy Boy could not quite thread the maze and get the 
thought untangled; he did not know exactly what the idea be- 
hind this talk about magic was, but he guessed intuitively that 
they were speaking about the relationship between himself and 
Tiger Girl. Slowly the color of his face turned from red to white, 
and all of the wrongs and grievances he had suffered in the past 
came into his mind at the same time; they were all there, block- 
ing up his heart. It came to him that he could no longer main- 
tain the silence of those latter days, no longer go on enduring; 
the thing was like water at flood inside himself, stopped up and 
overflowing, that would rush out in a turbulent flood through 
the first opening it could find. 

Just in this interval of crisis, another of the rickshaw men 
pointed his finger in Happy Boy’s face and said: "Happy Boy, 
I’m talking about you— you’re the real dumb man eating meat 
dumplings; while the talkers are wrangling you get the meat. 


201 



Your heart keeps a clear count. Isn't that so? Admit it, Happy 
Boy, admit it!" 

In a sudden mad rage Happy Boy stood up, his face a ma- 
levolent white. Of the man who had last spoken he demanded: 
''Come outside and say that, do you dare?" 

The crowd became wooden in speechlessness. In their hearts 
they had really thought only of snapping at him, to throw out 
a little idle harassment just to pass the time, but they had cer- 
tainly not intended to prepare for a fight. 

Suddenly they had become perfectly silent, like a forest full 
of twittering little birds when unexpectedly an eagle appears. 
Happy Boy stood there alone, much taller than any of the 
others. He felt his isolation, but his anger was at the window of 
his heart, and it was as if he were possessed of a deep conviction 
that even should they all move against him at once, still they 
would be no match. 

He drove home another sentence as if he were driving a nail: 

^ "Does anybody here have the courage to step outside of the 
door with me?" 

All at the same time they recognized the taste of their situa- 
tion, got the point of it, and almost together they cried out: 
"Enough of this. Happy Boy. We were only teasing you." 

Fourtli Master Liu saw them. "Sit down, Happy Boy!" Turn- 
ing to the group, he said: "Don't pick out a person to ridicule 
just because he's quiet and inoffensive. If you cause any trouble 
ril kick everyone of you out. Hurry up and eat!" 

Happy Boy left the table. The crowd picked up their rice 
bowls again, watching Old Man Liu out of the corners of their 
eyes. In no very long time they were all whispering and chatter- 
ing to each other again, like birds in the forest when the danger 
is past twittering lightly to each other. 

Happy Boy squatted for half a day outside the door, waiting 
for them. Supposing any one among them dared repeat any of 
that idle talk, his mother's! He had nothing himself and noth- 


202 


ing to lose: he'd give them something that would show them 
he didn't care what happened. 

But they came out together in little groups of two or three^ 
and did not come to seek him out at all. And although the fight 
hadn't occurred, he felt that he had given vent to some of his 
feelings. But when he thought about it a little more, he could 
see that this act he had put on today had given offense to a great 
many people. In ordinary times, it had been in the nature of 
things that he had no close friends, which was how it came 
about that when he had been deeply wronged there had been 
no one to whom he could go to confide his troubles; how could 
he afford to go about offending even more people? 

He began to repent a little. The little bit of food that he 
had just eaten had got stuck crosswise in his stomach, and it was 
beginning to ache. He got up. Why should he worry? Didn't 
the fellows who got in two fights every three days over their 
accounts get a lot of fun out of life? Because you acted accord- 
ing to the proprieties and were well-disposed and well-behaved, 
did that necessarily mean that you got some advantage out of it? 
Or any good out of it? 

Thinking about it from this point of view, his heart traced 
out another road for him to follow. The Happy Boy who walked 
on this new road would be altogether different from the Happy 
Boy who in the past he had hoped he might sometime become. 
This new individual would be one who would make friends with 
anyone he met, would take every mean advantage that was af- 
forded him, would drink the other fellow's tea, smoke the other 
fellow's cigarettes, borrow money and not return it, see an auto- 
mobile coming down the street and not turn aside to avoid it, 
piss wherever he happened to be when he felt like pissing, 
spend the whole day trying sly little tricks to evade or get the 
better of one policeman or another, and eounting it a matter 
of no importance to be held in the precinct station for two or 
three days on end. 


203 



Yes, it was trae. A rickshaw man like that went on living, 
and was happy too. At the very least he was as happy as Happy 
Boy. All right, since being well-behaved, law-abiding, and am- 
bitious were all useless, there could be nothing wrong, no mis- 
take, in changing oneself into this kind of a thoroughly unde- 
pendable and worthless character. Not only was it all right. 
Happy Boy thought, but there was something of the bearing 
and spirit of the hero, of the real man, about such a person. 
There was nothing in heaven he feared, and nothing on earth, 
and never would he hang his head and suffer for not taking 
his own part. Right! He ought to be like that! The lowest rowdy 
is cut of the good man's cloth. 

Now he began to repent a little for just the contrary reason: 
he was sorry that the fight hadn't come off. Fortunately he 
needn't be in any hurry about it. From today on he'd never 
lower his head again to anybody. 

There was no sand in Fourth Master Liu's eyes. He had 
taken the things he had heard and the things he had seen and 
put them all together in the same place; in his heart he already 
understood eight or nine parts of the whole. In these last few 
days, his daughter had been extraordinarily obedient. Heng! 
Because Happy Boy had come back! Her eyes were always fol- 
lowing him. The old man hid this affair in his heart, and he felt 
more cold and desolate and miserable than ever. Thinking about 
the thing, and looking at it— to begin with, he didn't have a son 
and you could not just in a blaze of fire bring together a family. 
And now if his daughter went off with some man, the trouble 
and thought and scheming of his whole life would be only a 
vain expenditure. 

Happy Boy was in truth all right, but if you considered him 
as occupying the position of both son and son-in-law, he was a 
long way from being fit to be either one: a stinking rickshaw 
man! He, the Fourth Master, had gone through the toil and 
anxieties of life for his whole generation, he had fought mob 

204 


battles, he had home the cruel torture or kneeling before the 
government yamen on chains of iron— was he to come in the 
end to this, to seeing a fellow with the head of a village farmer 
on his shoulders move out with his daughter and all his prop- 
erty? Nothing came as cheap as that! Nothing came as cheap 
as that! If there were bargains like that to be had, there was no 
use thinking you could come here to Fourth Liu to get it! 
Fourth Liu who from his youth had blown a hole in the ground 
every time he farted! 

At three and four o'clock in the afternoon there were still a 
few people coming to pay their ceremonial call on Fourth Mas- 
ter on the occasion of his birthday, but the old man had lost his 
taste for it, and the whole thing was insipid and meaningless 
to him. The more people complimented him on his vigorous 
and hearty look and assured him that good fortune was cer- 
tainly his, the sicker he got of it and the more of a sham it 
seemed to him. 

After the lanterns had been hung, the guests began to dis- 
perse, leaving one after the otlier. Only some ten, those who 
lived closest or whose friendship had been the longest, had not 
yet gone. They got up a machiang game among them. Seeing 
the empty matshed over the courtyard, the tables with their 
aprons pulled away, all illuminated with the ghostly green light 
of the acetylene lamp, made the old man feel endlessly remote, 
as if he had been made to understand that after his death things 
would not be very different from this: the matshed of felicity 
need only change its name and become a matshed of mourning; 
the colors of the now disarrayed hangings would be white in- 
stead of red. There would be no son or grandson to wear the 
mourning robes and kneel before his cofSn; there would only 
be a few people, to whom it was a matter of no concern, who 
would sit there playing machiang by w^y of keeping the night 
watch by the lighted coffin. In all truth he thought seriously of 
running these guests who had not had the good sense to leave 

205"''. 



out of tlie place; he owed it to himself to take advantage of the 
living breath still left in his lungs to show a front to the world 
that would really be awe-inspiring. But when it came right down 
to ih he felt a certain hesitancy, a degree of inappropriateness, 
in venting his murderous temper on his friends. 

His wratli then turned a corner; the more he looked at his 
daughter the less she pleased his eyes. Happy Boy was sitting 
inside the matshed, a fool with the form of a man and the face 
of a dog; the light that issued from the endless hissing of the 
acetylene lamp made the scar on his face green in color, like a 
piece of jade stone. How was it that the more he looked at this 
pair the more the sight irritated him? 

Customarily Tiger Girl paid no regard to her clothing or her 
manners — she was like a wild song without either rhythm or 
tune. Today she was elaborately garbed from head to toe, and 
the airs she was putting on in the reception and entertainment 
of the guests!-— if her purpose was to secure everyone's approval 
and praise, it was still at least partly to show off her wifely skill 
before Happy Boy. In the earlier part of the day she had found 
this tremendously interesting and diverting, but as the after- 
noon passed and she grew a little weary she began to feel that 
on the contrary it was a disgusting show and to long to find 
somebody at whom for a change she could curse and shout. By 
evening she did not have as much as even a half of a dot of 
patience left, and if the black eyebrows that she had painted 
diagonally across over each eye to her temples stayed straight 
and stiff in the mask-like make-up on her face, it was only 
through a grim effort of will. 

It was after seven o'clock and Fourth Master Liu was a little 
sleepy. But he would not give in to old age and was still unwill- 
ing to off to bed. The crowd invited him to join their game and 
play a few rounds with them. He was unwilling to say that he 
didn't have the energy to do it, and told them instead that he 
didn't find any release in machiang; ''Pawning the Jewel" 

, ,,'206, 


or 


'‘Nine Cards'' were more to his taste, for all they were low class 
gambling games. The crowd didn't want to change midway, and 
the best he could do was to sit at one side watching them. To 
get up a little energy he drank a few more cups of wine, and 
with every sound that came out of his mouth he was saying that 
here he'd given a party and didn't even get enough to eat him- 
self; moreover he bore a grudge against the cook for squeezing 
too much money; the food had not really been plentiful at all. 

With this question of the insufficiency of the food as a start- 
ing point, he took every^ item with which in the course of the 
day he had felt well content and reversed himself on the whole 
lot of them. The matshed, the furnishings, the cooking, were 
none of them worth w^hat he had paid for them. Tliey were 
snatching at his big head, all swindles! 

By this time Mr. Feng, who had charge of the accounts, 
had got them all recorded and added up. The receipts were: 
twenty-five scrolls inscribed with verses of longevity; three 
chapel-sets of longevity cakes baked in the shape of the peaches 
of immortality; a similar quantity of the noodles of long life; an 
earthenware jug full of the wine of the undying; two sets of 
candles of endless light; and a little less than twenty dollars in 
ceremonial money. The list of the contributors was not a short 
one, but the greater number had given forty coppers or ten 
cents in large money. 

Hearing this report. Fourth Master Liu's fire blazed even 
higher. If he had knowm ahead of time that this was the way it 
would be, he should properly have prepared fried noodles with a 
few chopped vegetables! Eat a feast of three great courses, and 
give out only a ten-cent piece in friendship money? In simple 
truth this was taking the old man for a big-headed simpleton 
asking to be defrauded. From this time fon^’^ard he would never 
hold another affair; he could not afford to lose the money that 
he had thrown down this black hole! There was no use talking 
about it: everybody, including both his relatives and his friends, 

207 



all of them, had thought of nothing but eating a free meal off 
him. A man of sixty-nine, clever all his life, had turned around 
and played the fool for this one time, and let a flock of turtle-egg 
bastards whose real fathers had been monkeys eat him alive! 

The more the old man thought about it the more enraged he 
became. Even the fact that during the daytime he had felt 
pleased about some of the things was now only further evidence 
to him of his stupidity. With these thoughts filling his heart, his 
lips were giving continuous voice to them, embellished by many 
an ancient epithet that long ago had dropped out of currency in 
the streets. 

Not all of his friends had left and in her solicitude for the 
face of all concerned. Tiger Girl thought to check her father in 
his loud bluster and deliberate rudeness. But seeing that the 
guests were all engrossed in their machiang counters, and were 
apparently taking no note at all of whatever the old man might 
be muttering about, she felt it a little inconvenient to open her 
mouth in the matter, lest she make it only the more obvious. 
Let him go ahead with his grumbling: if everybody pretended 
to be deaf, it would pass off harmlessly. 

How was she to know that the old man would keep on talk- 
ing and talking until he had got the subject worked around to 
herself? She determined that she was not going to swallow this 
particular line of talk: he wanted to celebrate his birthday, and 
she had rushed about in all the confusion for many days, and in 
the end she was to get no good out of it. She wouldn't accept 
that complaisantly. Whether he was sixty-nine or seventy-nine, 
he had to have some regard for straight reasoning. Quickly she 
turned it back on himself: ^It was you yourself who wanted to 
spend your money in a celebration. What harm is that to me?" 

Meeting with this resistance, the old man's energy leapt sud- 
denly upward. 'What harm is it to you? You're to blame for the 
whole thing! Do you think my eyes see nothing of what goes on 
around them?" 

208 


'What have you seen? Fve worked myself weary all day, and 
at the finish of it you take out your temper on me. Wait a little, 
wait a little. Say it, what did you see?'' Tiger Girl's weariness was 
all gone too, and her lips were exceptionally quick and handy. 

'Tou needn't watch over my celebrations with your hot eyes. 
See? I saw the w^hole thing long ago. Hengl" 

Tiger Girl's head shook from side to side in anger. ''What 
are my eyes hot about? What have you actually seen?" 

"What haven't I seen! Isn't that—" Fourth Liu pointed into 
the matshed; Happy Boy was there, his back bent over in the 
act of sweeping the floor. 



"Him?" Tiger Girl shuddered; she had not thought the old 
man's eyes could be as sharp as that "Heng! What about him?" 

"Don't press so closely that the thing becomes clear. Talk 
stupidly about it, as if you didn't understand." The old man 


20,9 



got to his feet. 'If you want him, you won't have me. If you 
want me, you can't have him. I'm telling you crisply and 
directly. I'm your father, and it's proper that I should make this 
my business." 

Tiger Girl had not anticipated that the affair would break 
so quickly; her own plan had only been carried to the halfway 
point, and the old man had already punctured the cunning be- 
hind her campaign. What should she do? Her face grew red, 
a dark purple red; add to that the half-death-like hue of her 
powder^ and the gray-green whiteness of the light of the carbide 
lamp, and she looked like an overcooked piece of pig's liver, 
her coloring was so splotched and repulsive. She was tired, this 
thing had sharply excited her, the fire in her spleen had leaped 
in flame, she could think of no plan, and her heart was terribly 
confused. She could not just crawl back into her hole like a 
whipped animal; for all the confusion in her heart, she must still 
find a course of action to follow, and find it quickly. The worst 
and most unsound plan would be better than not having any 
plan at all. Never had she submitted, never had she accepted 
the part of the weaker person in the face of any man. All right, 
she would come out with a clear frank heart and make a clean- 
cut issue of it, and let success or failure, a good result or a bad 
one, all depend on this one hammer blow. 

"All right," she said, "that's good enough. We'll talk the 
whole thing out clearly today. Let's figure that you've got the 
account straight, that your statement of it is right, what are you 
going to do about it? I'd just like to hear! But remember that 
you found this sickness for yourself. Don't claim that I've got 
it in my heart to deliberately upset you!" 

The machiang players acted as if they heard the father and 
daughter quarreling, but could not bring themselves to divide 
their attention between their ivory counters and the affairs of 
the household of their host, and so, to resist the noise which 
would have distracted them, they were all slapping their count- 

,2X0 ■' '' 


ers down on the table and shufHing them back and forth with 
the greatest eclat; their lips were loud with the phrases of the 
play, and a player who filled his hand would shout ''Strike’" with 
almost too great a vehemence. 

Happy Boy had overheard the affair and already understood 
it. He kept his head low as before and went on sweeping, but in 
the waters of his heart his feet had touched bottom. To say what 
he felt in another way: "Their mothers"!’" 

"You’re simply trying to anger me!"" The old man’s eyes had 
already grown round with glaring. "You want to drive me into 
such a rage that Fll die of it, so you can use niy money to buy 
yourself a man? There’s no use in your planning on that. I still 
have a few years longer to live!"" 

"There’s no use in your dragging out a lot of idle gossip to 
put on display. What are we talking about? I asked you, what 
are you going to do?” Tiger Girl’s heart was beating so loudly 
she could hear the pooh-tung, pooh-tung of its rhythm above 
the sound of her voice, but her lips still moved facilely and with 
speed. "What am I going to do? Haven’t I already said— if you 
want him you can’t have me, and if you want me you can’t have 
him. I can’t give everything I’ve got to a stinking rickshaw man 
just because he’s looking for a mean advantage.” 

Happy Boy threw his broom aside, straightened his waist 
and stood erect. Looking squarely at Fourth Liu, he asked: 

"Who are you talking about?” 

Fourth Master Liu broke into mad laughter. "Ha, ha! You, 
you’re a slick one! You’re thinking of rebellion, are you? I’m 
talking about you. Who am I talking about! Squirm away from 
here, in a hurry! Squirm! Because I thought you were all right, 
and gave you countenance, you dare to dream of digging founda- 
tions on the face of the planet Jupiter. Wliat I am and what I 
do, you didn’t stop to inquire. Squirm! Never again let me see 
you. You come his mother’s over here to take a cheap ad- 
vantage, ah?” 


211 



The sound of the old man's voice had grown overly loud, and 
had attracted some of the rickshaw men who came out to see the 
excitement. The machiang players were under the impression 
that the Fourth Master had got into another of his quarrels with 
some rickshaw puller, and went on with their play, still un- 
willing to raise their heads from it long enough to look and see 
what was going on. 

Happy Boy was not facile in the use of his lips; the things he 
thought of saying were very numerous, but not a single sentence 
of all of them ever came to his tongue. So he stood tliere in 
duinb silence, stretching his neck and swallowing spittle. 

''Squirm away from here! Squirm, quick! So you were going 
to play a cheap trick on me? I was dealing in trickery before 
there was such a person as you! Heng!" In his shouting at Happy 
Boy the old man seemed a little as if he were shouting purely to 
be shouting. The hatred he had in his heart for Happy Boy was 
nowhere near so sharp and bitter as that he felt for his daughter. 
It was as if even in his anger he recognized that in all truth 
Happy Boy was well-disposed and decently behaved, 

"All right, ril leave!" There was nothing more that Happy 
Boy could say. All he could do was to get away from here as 
quickly as possible. However things might come out, he knew 
he could not match either of those two in quarreling. 

The rickshaw men had originally come in to see the excite- 
ment, but when they saw that Fourth Master Liu was cursing 
out Happy Boy, they all remembered the act that morning and 
felt delighted. But when it came to hearing that the old man 
was driving Happy Boy out, they all went over to his side. He 
had labored at so wearisome a task, and now that the river was 
crossed the old man was tearing down the bridge; he had no 
more use for Happy Boy, and was turning his face against him 
and would not recognize him. They all felt for Happy Boy the 
unfairness of this treatment. Several of them hurried over 
to him. 


212 


^What's the trouble, Happy Boy?"' 

Happy Boy could only shake his head. 

'Wait a little before you goV It was as if the lightning had 
struck in Tiger Girl's heart. She saw with full clarity: her plan 
was useless now. Haste is not the equal of speed. She must 
quickly grab hold of Happy Boy: if she had scared away the 
chicken she must not at the same time break the egg. 'The two 
of us are alike a couple of crickets tied to one string: neither can 
run away from the other. You wait, wait until I have explained 
things clearly.'' 

She turned her head about and plunged the knife of her 
words straight at the old man, 'TII tell you crisply: Fm with 
child— Flappy Boy's! Wherever he goes, Fm going with him. 
Will you give me to him or are you going to drive us both out 
together? Well listen to a single sentence in answer." 

Tiger Girl had not imagined with what speed affairs would 
move, or how early she would be obliged to fall back on this, her 
last stratagem. Fourth Master Liu w^as even less prepared for this 
turn of the play, or for the fact that it could ever have been 
brought to such a pass as this. But it had already come to it. 
He could not submit, especially before so many people, 

"You really have the face to say a thing like that openly? This 
old face of mine blushes for you, burns with fever for you!" He 
slapped himself hard across the mouth. "P'eil You ‘are shame- 
less!" 

The machiang players brought their quick fingers to rest, 
feeling that there was a little something going on that lacked 
somewhat of the right flavor. But they were in complete con- 
fusion, not knowing what business this was or how it had come 
about. They could not join the conversation, or make any 
reasonably sensible remark; some of them stood up, and others 
sat stupidly staring at the ivory counters lying on the table 
before them. 

Having said everything that she could say, Tiger Girl felt 

213 



happy. /Tm shameless? Don’t force me to tell about you and 
your affairs. There isn’t any kind of excrement you haven’t 
pushed out of your bowels. This is the first time for me, and 
it, too, is all your fault. When a boy grows to manhood, you 
should find him a wife, and when a girl matures she should be 
given in marriage. You’re sixty-nine years old~you’ve wasted 
your life and learned nothingl It isn’t because there are people 
here that I’m saying this.” Tiger Girl paused to point to the 
group about them. 'The best thing is to get everything clear. 
Let’s act with clear eyes and understanding hearts. We’ll take 
this matshed of felicity— you have only to perform one more 
ceremony in it, and everything will be all right.” 

"Me?” Fourth Master Liu’s face turned from red to white, 
and bringing out all the spirit of the earlier days when he was a 
"bare stick” and a tough on the streets of the old capital, he 
said, "I would burn this matshed down before I would let you 
use it.” 

"Good!” Tiger Girl’s lips were trembling, and the tone of her 
voice was unpleasant to hear. "If I roll up my bedding and leave, 
how much money will you give me?” 

"The money is mine, and I’ll give it only to the people I want 
to give it to.” When the old man had heard his daughter say she 
was going to leave, his heart had been pained, but he had steeled 
himself to have out this quarrel. 

"Your money? I’ve helped you all these years, and no part of 
it’s mine? You think about it in your own heart. It’ll be a 
wonder if you don’t spend all your money supporting prostitutes. 
We’ll let the good in our hearts be our guidel” Her eyes sought 
out Happy Boy. "Say something!” 

Happy Boy only stood there, very erect, without a thing 
to say. 


214 



^^^^l^EGARDING the use of violence. Happy Boy could not 

Vhit an old man nor could he raise his fist against a 
woman. There was no direction, then, in which to employ his 
strength. And to act the part of the slick scoundrel, so as to 
turn the situation to his own advantage and play these two off 
against each other for what he could get out of them, was a 
thing he could only think about and could not actually carry 
through. Concerning Tiger Girl, he was fully ready to shake his 
feet and run away. On account, howwer, of the scene that was 
being acted out before his eyes, in which it was made to appear 
that she was sacrificing herself for him, there was nothing he 
could do before all these people but put on something of a 
heroic and protective air. There was nothing that he could say; 
all he would do was to stand there waiting for the unending flow 
of water finally to reveal the stones. But that, as least, he must 
do; anything less would make him appear to be lacking in the 
qualities of the true son of Han. 

And all that there was left for the father and daughter of the 
Liu household to do was to glare fixedly at each other, since 
there was already nothing more that could be discussed and 
Happy Boy had closed his mouth tightly and would let no 
word escape from it. 

As for the rickshaw men, it looked as if it would be very 
difficult for them to stick their lips into the matter, which- 
ever side it was that they might favor. The machiang players 
could not remain silent: they had to speak, the absolute 

,, 215 



quietness had already been so unbearably prolonged. The 
only difficulty was that they could only float with trivial 
lightness over the outside skin of the thing, saying a few sen- 
tences composed of surplus words, urging the two sides in 
conventionally acceptable phrases to desist, and not to hook too 
much of anger’s hot fire on themselves, to talk the thing over 
in a leisurely way, that there was no barrier in the affair that 
could not be got over— this sort of thing they could say, but 
they couldn’t solve anything and didn’t want to solve anything. 
Seeing that neither side was willing to give way, there was 
nothing to do but slip away as soon as the opportunity afforded. 

Without waiting for everyone to get away, Tiger Girl 
grabbed hold of Mr. Feng of the Coal Store In Accord With 
Heaven. ''Mr. Feng, isn’t there some room in your store? First 
let Happy Boy live there for a couple of days. If there’s to be a 
ceremony for the two of us, it will be quickly carried out; he 
won’t take up your space for any length of time. You go along 
with Mr. Feng, Happy Boy, and I’ll see you tomorrow to talk 
over our affairs. I tell you, if I’m going out of the door of my 
father’s house. I’ll go in a flowered sedan chair as becomes a 
bride or I’ll never step over the threshold. Mr. Feng, I’m hand- 
ing him over to you, and tomorrow I’ll hold you for his safe 
return to me.” 

Mr. Feng could do nothing but gulp. He did not want to 
undertake any such responsibility. Happy Boy was in a frantic 
haste to get away from there under any terms, and he spoke one 
sentence: "I wouldn’t be able to escape— I won’t run away.” 

Tiger Girl glared once more at the old man and went back 
into her own room, locking it from the inside. Then she cleared 
her throat and broke’ into loud sobs. 

Mr. Feng and the others urged upon the Fourth Master the 
propriety of his going back into his room as well, but the old 
man managed to bring back into play some of the energy and 
spirit that belonged to him in his character as a man of the 

216 


world, and he invited his guests not to leave, insisting instead 
on their having a few more cups of wine. 

''All of you gentlemen may make yourselves easy in your 
hearts: from now on she is she, I am I, and we will never quarrel 
again. She may walk her own way, and it will only be as if I had 
never had any such little slave girl around me. For the whole 
period of my generation I have been out in the world, and here 
in one evening she has caused me to lose every vestige of face I 
ever had. If we could turn back twenty years, I would tie them 
living between wild horses and rend them apart. In this present 
time, ril let her leave. But if she counts on getting a single 
copper from me, it will be ten thousand times difEcult. A single 
copper — I won't give it! I w'on't give it! Well see how she 
lives. Let her taste of it and shell know whether in the end her 
father was good, or it's some ignorant scoundrel, some wild 
man, who is good. Don't leave, have another cup of wine!" 

The crowd found a few pointless sentences to say, and all 
made haste to get away, to avoid being involved in scandal. 

Happy Boy went to tlie Coal Store In Accord With Heaven. 

In all truth the affair was carried out very quickly. In the 
Cove of the Mao Family Tiger Girl rented two small rooms with 
a northern exposure that were on one of those large courtyards 
which a number of leaseholders share in common, the living 
quarters around it being cut up, tenement-like, into a number of 
little cubbyholes. Immediately she called in a paper hanger and 
had the four walls covered with bright clean whiteness right 
down to the floor. Then she entreated Mr. Feng to write a few 
felicitous characters, and when he had done so, she had them 
pasted up on the walls of the room. When the rooms were 
ready, she went out to bargain for a sedan chair, one with all 
the silver stars in the heavens, sixteen musical instruments to ac- 
company it, but no gold lanterns and no conductor. When the 
terms had been talked out and agreed upon, she got out her red 
satin, embroidered, sedan-chair dress; she had prepared it before 

217 



the New Year celebrations so that she would not have to break 
the taboo that forbids one to move one’s needle until tlie fifth 
day of the New Year has passed. The sixth was appointed the 
Day of Felicity since that was a lucky day in the calendar of 
astrology, and also it would not be necessary on it to follow the 
superstitious usages about the birth-dates of those who cross the 
threshold of the newly married. 

All of these things she arranged herself, and instructed 
Happy Boy to go out and buy a new set of clothes from his head 
to his feet. 'There’s only one time like this in one lifetime.” 

In his hands Happy Boy had only five dollars. 

Once more Tiger Girl glared. "What? The thirty-odd dollars 
that I turned over to you?” 

There was nothing Happy Boy could do but tell the truth, so 
he took the whole story of the Ts’ao family affair and told it all 
to her. She blinked her eyes at him as if she half believed and 
half suspected him. "All right, I haven’t any time to quarrel 
with you. Each of us must act according to his own conscience. 
I’ll give you fifteen dollars. And if when the day comes you 
aren’t fitted out like a new fellow, you better be prepared to 
defend yourself.” 

On the sixth day of the New Year Tiger Girl climbed into 
her sedan chair. She had not exchanged a sentence with her 
father; she had neither elder nor younger brothers to escort her; 
she had no relatives or friends there to tender felicitations; she 
had only the gongs and the drums to make their loud clamor 
along streets that had so recently seen the celebrations of the 
New Year. Moving in a stable and even progression, firm and 
secure, the sedan chair was borne through the Gate of Western 
Peace and under the Four Western Arches; and in the hearts of 
people in the streets, wearing their new clothes for the New 
Year, and especially among the helpers in the shops, it aroused 
a certain feeling of admiration and stimulated emotions of long- 
ing or remembrance. 

218 



Happy Boy wore the new clothes he had bought near the 
Bridge of Heaven, and above his red face, scrubbed clean, there 
sat one of those little velvet caps that cost thirty cents apiece. It 
was as if he had forgotten himself and was watching everything 
with a dumb unreflectiveness, unaware that he had any part in 
it. Listening to all of it, he did not even recognize himself. From 
a coal store he had moved into a new room that was freshly 
papered and as white as snow. He did not know how that had 
come about: everything that had happened previously was ex- 
actly like a coal store — there was one heap after another and all 
of them black. Now suddenly he had been transported into a 
new room, so white that it dazzled his eyes, with the walls stuck 
over here and there with writings as red as blood. 

He felt somehow as if he were being manipulated, played 
with, made sport of. It was a vague, misty, limitless feeling of 
resentment and depression, all glaring in white. 

The rooms were furnished with the table, chairs, and bed 
that had been Tiger Girl's in her father's house; the stove and 
the kitchen table were in tmth new, and in the corner was hung 
a duster made of chicken feathers of many colors. He recognized 
the old table and the chairs, but toward the stove, the kitchen 
table, and the chicken-feather duster he felt estranged and at 
variance. Mixing the old furniture up with the new and putting 
it all in the same place within the same four walls made him 
recollect the things that had passed, the old things, and con- 
fronted him with the uncertainty and anxieties of the future, 
with all the fears that new things bring. In everything he was al- 
lowing some other to do with him as that other pleased; he, too, 
was some kind of piece of furniture or ornament, some strange, 
queer thing that seemed at the same time to be completely new 
and to be identical with something out of the past; he did not 
know himself, was not sure of his own name and identity. He 
could not think to cry, nor think to laugh; moving about in this 
warm little room, acutely conscious of his big. hands and feet, he 


219 




felt like a great rabbit caught in a frail little bamboo cage, looking 
with avid eyes at the world outside and then glancing around 
at the cramped wooden space within; legs that could run with 
the speed of flight were useless now-— he could not get out. 

Tiger Girl wore her red jacket, and on her face she had 
rubbed white powder and red rouge. Her eyes flowed after him, 
lapping like water around every move he made. He did not dare 
look straight into those eyes of hers: she, too, was some strange 
thing that was both old and new, both familiar and unfamiliar; 
she was at once a girl and a woman; she had the seeming of 
being a woman and yet the seeming of being a man; she was 
like a human being and at the same time was like some evil, 



savage, malignant beast. This beast in the red jacket had already 
pounced upon him, captured him, and now she was preparing to 
dispose of him bit by bit, very carefully and with relish. Any- 
body could do what they wanted with him, but tliis beast was 
dangerous and sharp and cruel beyond any of the others. She 
kept guard over him every moment, never letting him get an 
inch away, glaring at him, laughing at him, and then pulling 
him to her, holding him very tightly in her arms, her legs locked 
around him, her lips on his to silence him while by another soft 
function she sucked out his strength until all his strength was 
gone. 

He had no way to escape her. He took his little round velvet 
cap in his hands, staring stupidly at the red button on top of it 
until his eyes became blurred, and when he turned his face up 
again tlie white wall was covered with red buttons swirling 
about, shimmering up and dowm, until from their center there 
evolved a red button larger than any of the others, that 
splotched the whole wall with red, and the face of it was a 
human face, smiling a stinking, leering, ugly smile: the face was 
the face of Tiger Girl. 

It was not until the evening of their marriage, their first 
wedding night, that Happy Boy understood: Tiger Girl was not 
pregnant at all! Like a magician in a juggling act, she explained 
the whole thing to him with the greatest ease: ''If I hadn't 
deceived you that way, how would you ever have come to 
deaden your heart and walk the hard earth of reality and lower 
your head in submission? I put a pillow inside the waistband of 
my trousers. Ha, ha! Ha, ha!" She laughed until the tears came 
to her eyes. "You stupid thing! Let's not talk any more about it. 
At any rate, I have no reason to be ashamed to face you— -I owe 
you nothing. You're the kind of a person you are, and Fm the 
kind of person I am. You ought to thank the heavens and thank 
the earth— I came right out and fought with my father to 
follow you." 


221 



On the morning of the second day, Happy Boy got up very 
early and went out. Most of the stores had already opened up 
for business again after the holidays, but some of the private 
residences still had their front gates closed. The New Year 
mottoes written on strips of red paper and pasted on the doors 
were as full and red and voluptuous as before, but the strings 
of yellow paper ingots had some of them been torn by the wind. 
The street was quiet and cold and unstirred by any warmth of 
feeling, but for all of that there were still quite a number of 
rickshaws passing up and down it. The rickshaw pullers seemed 
to have more energy than on other days; they nearly all of 
them wore new shoes, and on the back of their rickshaws they 
had pasted squares of red paper for good luck. Happy Boy ad- 
mired and envied these rickshaw men: he felt that they really 
had the manner and bearing, had caught the spirit of passing the 
New Year as properly it should be, while he had for many days 
been caught up inside of a dark suffocating gourd. They all 
seemed to be on their way, each contented with his lot and 
minding his own business, while he had no occupation and was 
idling along the highway as aimlessly as one of the long wooden 
signs hung over the sidewalk as a store-mark waves back and 
forth in the breeze. 

He was not at peace in this complete idleness, but if he 
calculated to give some thought to tomorrow's affairs, the only 
thing he could do would be to go and discuss them with Tiger 
Girl— his wife! His wife, the kind of a wife he had, was keeping 
him and he was eating the food that she fed him. It was for an 
empty nothing that he had grown so tall, and for nothing but 
emptiness that he had such great strength: neither was of any 
use. His primary reason for being was to provide his old woman 
with the service she incessantly required— she, that red-jacketed 
and tiger-toothed creature who was neither man nor beast, who 
sucked his blood and siphoned off into her own body the very 
milk of his virility. Already he was no longer a man, but a single 


222 


piece of bone^ a single extension of flesh. He had no self that was 
his self; but was the prey that she had got her teeth intO; that 
was hanging from her jaws, like a little mouse dangling from the 
mouth of a cat. 

He did not want to go discuss anything with her. The thing 
for him to do was to go away, to tliink out his own plans care- 
fully, and to part from her without so much as taking his leave 
of her. There was nothing in such a course that would make it 
difficult for him to face her before his own conscience; she was 
an evil spirit in the shape of a woman who had been capable of 
using a pillow to play him a cheap trick of sleight-of-hand. 

In the dark den of his heart his spirit lay sick, gnawing out 
the walls of its house. He wanted to tear that new suit of 
clothes of his into strips and fragments, and, more than that, 
he wanted to put himself into a pool of pure water and cleanse 
himself; inside as well as out; he felt that his whole body was 
covered with some stinking, sticky impurity, some unclean thing 
that gave him a feeling of nausea, that vexed him from his 
very heart. He did not want ever to see her face again. 

Where should he go? He had no objective. Ordinarily, pull- 
ing a rickshaw, his legs went in the direction set for them by the 
lips of his fare. Today, although his legs might take him where 
they chose— they were free— his heart was surprised and con- 
fused. Fbllowing along the Four Western Arches, he turned 
due south and came out through the Gate of Martial Display: 
the road was so straight that his heart was less able than ever 
to turn the comer that it had to turn. Coming out of the city 
gate, he kept on walking south until he saw a bathhouse. He 
decided to go in. 

He undressed himself and stood in his complete nakedness 
looking down at his body, feeling the deepest sensation of shame 
and mortifi-cation. When he got down into the bathing pool the 
hot water boiled him so that he became wooden with numbness 
all over. He closed his eyes and lay back, his body relaxing in a 

323 



drugged drowsiness and giving forth all the collected filth within 
it as it would give forth sweat. He was almost afraid to soap him- 
self; his heart was empty of everything and his forehead was wet 
with big pearls of sweat. Only when his breathing was becoming 
labored did he manage slowly and lazily to crawl up out of the 
tub, his whole body as red as that of a new born baby. It was as 
if he did not dare step out all naked like that; with a towel 
around his middle he still felt unsightly and ugly, and with the 
dripping perspiration dropping bee-da by-da to the rattan mat 
on which he stood, he still felt that he was not clean: it was as if 
the stain of impurity, the spot of filth in his own heart could 
never in any eternity be washed away. In the eyes of the Fourth 
Master, in the eyes of everyone who knew him, he would always 
be a man who stole women. 

Before his perspiration had gone completely down, he 
dressed himself in the greatest haste and rushed out of the bath- 
house. He was afraid that people would see him naked, would 
guess the shame of the way he was living. On the street again, 
with the cold wind blowing on him, he felt light and easy and 
free; the tension seemed gone. The streets were busier and much 
more gay than they had been earlier. Tlie resounding clarity of 
the bright heavens lent everyone's face a little of its gayness and 
light, but Happy Boy's heart still felt as if some hand were 
clutching it, and he didn't know where it was best to go. 

He turned south and then east and then south again, cross- 
ing over by the Bridge of Heaven. At nine o'clock on a morning 
just after the New Year, the apprentices in the shops would 
already have finished their early rice and come here. Every, 
color of street stall, every kind of acrobat's tent, had all been set 
up and arranged very early. When Happy Boy arrived, the place 
was already surrounded by circle after circle of people, and in 
the center were men beating on gongs and drums. He had no 
heart to watch any amusement; he was already incapable of 
smiling. 

224 


Ordinarily the mimics that were here, the men with their 
trained Tibetan bears, the magicians, the counters of coming 
treasures, the singers of the rice-planting songs, the tellers of the 
stories out of the ancient books, the war dancers, could all of 
them give him a little of true happiness, making him open his 
mouth wide and laugh. The fact that he could not do without 
Peking, that he could not bear to leave the city, was at least half 
due to the Bridge of Heaven. Whenever it came into his mind, 
or he had a chance to go there, it would bring to his memory 
countless laughable and lovable things. Now he had no spirit to 
press forward among the crowd, and the sound of the laughter 
at the Bridge of Heaven already lacked for the share that he had 
always contributed. He turned away from the mobs, seeking to 
walk towards some spot where he could be quiet and alone, but 
again he felt loath to leave. No, he could not leave this lively, 
colorful, bustling place that was so much to be loved. He could 
not leave the Bridge of Heaven, he could not leave Peking. 

Go away? There was no road along which he could walk. Pie 
would still have to go back to her— to her!— and discuss what 
to do. He could not leave, and he could not go on in idleness. He 
would have to retreat one step in his thinking, exactly as every- 
one does in that hour when there is no other recourse. He had 
suffered every kind of wrong, and why should he go now scream- 
ing for the truth at this one added grievance? He could not 
straighten out all the crooked things in the past, and so the best 
thing he could do was to keep on walking down the road that 
he was already on. 

He stood still, listening to the confused sounds of people's 
voices, of the beating of drums and songs, and w’^atching the 
endless currents of those who came and those who went away, 
and the carriages and the horses, and suddenly he thought of the 
two little rooms. It was as if the sound that had been in his ears 
was gone, as if the people and things that had been before his 
eyes had disappeared. There was nothing but the two white 

225 ■■ 



warm little rooms with the red characters pasted on the walls, 
clean and straight and in good order before his eyes. Although 
he had only lived there one night, the place was still extraor- 
dinarily familiar and intimate. Even that woman who wore the 
red jacket seemed now to be something that could not be for- 
saken at pleasure. Standing there on the Bridge of Heaven, he 
had nothing and was nothing; in those two little rooms he had 
everything. He would go back: only by going back would he find 
the means of meeting his situation. Everything that belonged to 
tomorrow was in that little room. Shame, fear of involvement, 
the feeling that things were hard to live through, were all use- 
less; if he calculated to live, he would have to go back to the 
place where he could find a plan. 

He walked back in one breath; when he entered the room, it 
was just eleven o’clock. Tiger Girl had finished cooking the fore- 
noon meal: steamed dumplings, boiled cabbage with meat 
balls, cold pig’s skin, a dish of pickled turnips. Everything was 
on the table except the cabbage, which was still on the fire and 
giving out the most beautiful of fragrant odors. She had already 
taken off her red jacket, and wore again the cotton trousers and 
cotton jacket of ordinary times, although she still wore in her 
hair the little cluster of red velvet flowers, a tiny ingot of gold 
paper in their midst. And she still wore, too, a little of that air 
of self-satisfaction, of pleasure with one’s self for having got 
what one wanted. 

Happy Boy glanced at her. She did not look like a new wife. 
Every act and movement was that of a woman who has been 
married for many years. She was quick, ready, expert, and old in 
experience. In spite of the fact that she did not seem like a new 
wife, at bottom she made him feel a little something new, 
something that he had never felt before: her cooking for him, 
her cleaning the room, the faint fragrance of the place, its 
warmth, all were things that he had not experienced before. It 
did not matter what sort of person she was; he felt that she had 

226 



made him a home, and a home always has points about it that a 
person can love. 

“Where'd you go?'' She served the cabbage as she ques- 
tioned him. 

"1 went to have a bath/' he answered, taking off his long 
gown. 

''All! After this, when you go out, say something to me about 
it. Don't just heedlessly fling up your hands as if you were angrj^ 
and walk off." 

He said nothing. 

"Are you able to say as much as 'heng' or not? To show at 
least that you've heard what I said? If you can't. I'll teach 
you how." 

He made the sound, "Heng!" Tliere was nothing else he 
could do. He knew he had married the bitch that whelps the 
night demons tliat fly like meteors, messengers of hell, but this 
mother of the night demons could cook and she could keep the 
room clean; she could curse him and she could help him too. 
But whatever she did for him, the taste of it would always be 
wrong. He started eating the dumplings. It was a fact that the 
food was more appetizing, and came hotter from the fire, than 
he was used to eating. For all of that, he ate without relish; as 
he chewed the food his heart could not find the joy that was 
ordinarily his in his wolfish appetite. This was not one of those 
meals where he could eat until he perspired. 

When he had finished eating, he stretched out on the brick 
bed, linking his hands behind his head for a pillow and looking 
up at the ceiling. 

"Hi! Help me clean the dishes! I'm not somebody's slave 
girl!" she called from the outer room. 

Reluctantly he got up, looked at her, and went through the 
door of the paper partition to help her. Usually he was extraor- 
dinarily diligent and hard-working, but now he worked with his 
lips closed tight to keep the anger from coming out. At the rick- 

227 ■/ ■ 



sliaw shed, he had frequently helped her out, but now the more 
he saw of her the more she disgusted him. Never in all his life 
had he hated anyone as sharply and as deeply as he hated her. 
He could not explain why it was. Turning around and around 
in these tiny rooms, he felt as if his destiny was just one long 
grievance, as if it were a sin against him that he should ever have 
lived. 

When they had finished putting the dishes away, she swept 
the four walls with a glance, and sighed. Then she began to 
smile. 

''How about it?'^ 

"What?'' Happy Boy was squatting down by the stove warm- 
ing his hands. His hands were not cold at all, but because there 
was no proper place to put them, the best he could do was to 
warm them. In truth these two little rooms did seem like a 
home, but he never knew where best to put his hands and feet 
when he was in them. 

"Won't you take me out? Can't we go some place to amuse 
ourselves? To the White Cloud Monastery? No, it's a little late 
for that— couldn't we just go out and saunter on the streets?" 
She wanted to taste to the very fullest all the joys of the new 
bride. Although her wedding had not been fit to behold, on the 
other hand it was good to be so completely without all the 
ordinary conventional restraints, and the best thing about it was 
that she could be more with her husband, and could spend these 
few days with him in abandoned play. In her father's house, she 
had not lacked for food or clothing or money to spend. The 
one thing she had lacked had been a man whom her heart 
could know. Now she wanted to make good for all the years of 
drought; she wanted to swagger about the streets, in the temples 
and the market places, with Happy Boy to play with her. 

Happy Boy was unwilling to go. In the first place he felt that 
to go all oyer the world sight-seeing with your old woman in tow 
was a thing to be ashamed of, and in the second place he held 

228 


that an old woman acquired in the way he had acquired his old 
woman could only properly be hidden away in the home; this 
affair was not one to be proud of, and the less you waved it 
before the eyes of other people the better it would be. There 
was one more thing: once they went out, how could they avoid 
meeting people they knew? There wasn't a rickshaw boy in the 
western half of the city who had not heard the story of Happy 
Boy and Tiger Girl; he could not go out on the streets just to 
give occasion to people to titter behind his back, 

''Let's discuss it, shall we?" He was still squatting by the stove. 

"Wliat is there to discuss?" She strode across and stood by the 
side of the stove. 

He took his hands down and put them over his kneecaps. 
Dumbly he watched the flames of the fire. He was stuck like a 
wooden pole in this distraught vacancy of his for a long time, 
and finally he spoke a single sentence: "I can't be idle like this." 

"Your destiny is to work and be weary." She laughed shortly. 
"When you go for a whole day without pulling a rickshaw, you 
begin to itch all over. Isn't that true? Look at the old man — he 
spent all his life in idleness, and when he was old he opened a 
rickshaw shed. He never pulled a rickshaw, and never sold his 
strength. He depended for his rice on the ways that opened in 
his heart. If you insist on pulling a rickshaw all your life, what 
reward do you expect to get for that? Let's first enjoy ourselves 
for a few days, and then talk about it again. It's not just in these 
two or three days that business will be good. Why are you in 
such a hurry? You're just taking advantage of the fact that I 
don't mean to quarrel with you these two days, and you're 
purposely trying to make me angry." 

"We'll first discuss it." Happy Boy was determined not to 
give in. Since he could not simply shake his feet and be gone, he 
had to think of some way of getting to work. And the first thing 
that he had to do was to take up a firm position— -he could not 
keep going back and forth like a child in a rope swing. 


229 



''All rights tell me what you want to say/' She moved a stool 
over and sat down by the side of the stove. 

"How much money have you got?" he asked. 

"Isn't it true? I knew you were going to ask me just that. You 
didn't marry a wife^ you married that bit of money, didn't you?" 

It was as if Happy Boy had been caught in a sudden strong 
gust of wind and knocked breathless. He swallowed several 
mouthfuls of air. Old Man Liu and the rickshaw men at the 
Human Harmony Rickshaw Shed, all thought it was because he 
was covetous of her money that he had been brought to form his 
illicit connection with Tiger Girl. Now she herself had put that 
same suspicion into words. Without cause or reason he had 
lost his own rickshaw and then later his own money, and now 
he was to be crushed beneath a few dirty dollars of his old 
woman's. It was as if the very food he ate had to go down his 
backbone instead of his gullet, it was that hard to swallow. He 
hated himself for not being able to clench his two hands around 
her throat and choke her and choke her and choke her until her 
eyes turned back into her head and only the whites of them 
showed. He would choke it all to death, the whole thing. He 
felt his own throat. They weren't people, either of them. They 
should both die. He wasn't a human being himself — he should 
die too; neither of them, none of them, need hope to live. 

Happy Boy stood up, thinking to go out to walk a while. His 
coming back to the place a little while ago had been a mistake. 

Seeing that Happy Boy's color and expression were not right, 
she became again a little more easy and accommodating. "All 
right, I'll tell you. I had a little less than five hundred dollars to 
start with. Counting the sedan chair, the rent— three payments 
—papering the room, having clothes made, buying utensils and 
things, and adding in what I gave you, throwing it all in ’to- 
gether, it comes to less than a hundred dollars, and I've still got 
a little less than four hundred dollars left. I tell you, you've no 
reason to be anxious or get excited. When we have a chance to 
.■230,. 


be happy, let's be happy. You— the whole year through you pull 
a rickshaw and are stinking with sweat. You ought to just play 
for two or tliree days, and be smart and fresh and attractive. For 
my part, Fve filled the post of an old maid for all these years— 
I ought to have a few days of pleasure too. Wait until we've 
spent almost all our money, and then we can go back again and 
seek the old man's help. I— if I hadn't fought with him that 
night, I would never have had to leave. Now that my anger's 
gone, papa after all is still papa. From his side, he's only got me 
for a daughter — there are no other children, and you're a person 
that he's very fond of. We have only to be a little meek and 
submissive, and apologize for our fault, and in all probability 
there's nothing in the matter that can't be got over. How made 
to order it all is! He's got money, we're in the direct descent, 
and in perfect seemliness and propriety we inherit it from him. 
There's nothing in the slightest wrong or unreasonable about it. 
And how much better that is than your going out and being a 
transport animal for anybody who hires you. 

''After two or three days, you go once— he probably won't be 
willing to see you. If he won't see you the first time, go a second 
time. That will give him all the face, and then there'll be noth- 
ing for him to do but repent and change his ideas. When that 
has happened, I'll go and right or wrong I'll give him a few 
sentences that it will please him to hear. I wouldn't say for cer- 
tain but that we won't be able to move back. And once we move 
back, I guarantee that if we hold our chests out, there won't be 
anyone who will dare look askance at us. If we just go on in- 
definitely putting up with this, we'll always be like a pair of 
branded people, or criminals— don't you agree with me?" 

Happy Boy had never thought this over. From the day that 
Tiger Girl had come to the Ts'ao family house to look for him, 
he had taken it for granted that after he took her to wife he 
would use her money to buy himself a rickshaw, and go out 
himself and pull it. Although using your old woman's money 

■ 231 


was not a very self-respecting thing to do, still, since the relation- 
ship between himself and her was one of those that you could 
not explain even if you had the mouth with which to tell about 
it, there just wasn't any help for it. He had not thought that 
Tiger Girl had a stratagem like this one in her mind. If you put 
aside the mask, and gave up all idea of face, naturally there was 
in all truth a real scheme. But Happy Boy was not that sort of 
a person. Thinking of all that had happened, of the things that 
had happened before and the things that had happened after- 
ward, he seemed to begin to understand a little. His own money 
—he would let somebody else steal it from him without any 
cause, and without giving him any return, and he had no one 
to whom to take his grievance. So that you're in a position where 
if someone else gives you money, you have no choice but to ac- 
cept it, and after you have accepted it, you are absolutely un- 
fitted from that time forward to regard yourself as a man. Your 
chest is for nothing, your strength is for nothing— you must be 
another person's slave, you must afford your wife her favorite 
plaything, you must serve as the male slave of an aged father- 
in-law. It seemed that at the roots of a thing a man was nothing; 
he was at best like a bird. If it goes itself to find its food, it may 
well fall into the trapper's net; if it eats the grain that another 
provides, it must remain obedient and well-behaved within its 
cage, singing its shrill song when that is required of it, and fac- 
ing the possibility of being sold by its master whenever he 
chooses to do so. 

He was unwilling to go hunting for Fourth Master Liu, 
With Tiger Girl his relationship was one of flesh within flesh; 
with the Fourth Master he had no connection whatever. He 
had already suffered by reason of this woman, and he would not 
on her account go begging of her father. 

don't want to go on being idle." Of all that he had thought 
he spoke only this one sentence, in order to avoid wasting words 
and quarreling futilely. 

2.32 



''Destined to toil and be weary/' She said it as if it were a 
club with which one could pound one's opponent at will. "If 
you don't want to be idle, go into some kind of business— sell 
something," 

"I can't do it. I wouldn't make money. I can pull a rickshaw— 
I love to pull a rickshaw!" The blood vessels stood out on top 
of Happy Boy's shaven head. 

"I tell you, I just won't permit you to pull a rickshaw! I just 
won't have you coming onto my brick bed with me when your 
whole body is red from running and stinking with sweat. You've 
got your plans and I've got mine. You see which of us can 
irritate the most. You took a wife, but I spent the money. You 
didn't find a little copper of it anywhere else. Think about that 
for a while. Of the two of us, who should obey who?" 

Once again Happy Boy had nothing to say. 



C^T was already the time of the festival of the fifteenth day 
of the first lunar month, and Happy Boy was still loafing 
around. He could stand it no longer. 

Tiger Girl was in high spirits. She had set about cooking 
the food of the festival, the little round rice balls that have year 
after year for hundreds and hundreds of years been appropriate 
to it, and the wrapped meat dumplings that Happy Boy loved. 
In the daytime she would have it that they sight-see among the 
many Buddhist temples, and at night they must go out and 
stroll about the streets to see the lighted lanterns that had been 


233 



hung out before shops and homes. She did not permit Happy 
Boy to put forward a single proposal of his own on any subject, 
but she took care that he should never lack for tasty food to 
put in his mouth. She was always reforming her methods, con- 
tinually changing her approach, contriving to buy and prepare 
fresh new dishes for him to eat. 

In the common compound, sharing this one courtyard, were 
seven or eight families, the majority of them having only one 
room apiece. In that one room would be seven or eight people, 
old and young, all living together. Some of the men were rick- 
shaw pullers, some of them street-hawkers, policemen, and 
others were household servants. Each had his work to do, and 
none had any leisure. Even the children would each of them 
shoulder a basket and go in the morning to collect a bowl of* 
congee from the free rice kitchen, and in the afternoon to pick 
among the ash piles for pieces of unburned coal. It was only 
the very smallest children who resorted to the courtyard, their 
bare little behinds frozen a rosy red, to play and shriek and 
quarrel with each other. 

The ashes from the stoves, the dust and dirt, the unclean 
water, were all thrown into the middle of the courtyard, and no 
one took any responsibility for cleaning it up. The water that 
had collected in the center was frozen solid, and the larger chil- 
dren, when they returned in the later afternoon from their coal- 
collecting expeditions, would use it as an ice rink, sliding back 
and forth on it, pushing each other over it, beating it with sticks, 
and all of them yelling at once. 

The most miserable were the very old people and the women. 
The old people had neither food nor clothing, and lay all day 
on brick beds as cold as ice, waiting in empty idleness for the 
young to earn a pittance in coppers and bring it back at night, 
so that they could drink a bowl of thin rice gruel. Perhaps by 
the sale of their strength the young would have been able to 
earn that pittance, but it was just as likely that they would come 



back with empty hands. When that happened they would come 
back angry and search for any opening to quarrel. Then the old 
people with their empty stomachs would have to take their tears 
for water and swallow them down. 

The womenfolk had to take care of the old, mind the very 
young, and at the same time string along the younger men of 
the household who earned the money. They had to carry on 
their labors as usual even though they were pregnant, with only 
the same old flour cakes in the shape of birds' nests and congee 
made from white sweet potatoes. Not only would they carry 
on with their work just the same, they would try in some way 
or other to keep things going; they had to make shift to keep 
the others and themselves alive. If by good fortune the old and 
the young alike would all have had enough and have gone to 
bed, the women would have to cherish the scant light of a little 
kerosene lamp by which to wash and bake and sew and mend 
for the whole family. The room would be so small, the walls 
so dilapidated, that the cold wind would bore in through one 
side and blow straight out through the other, carrying off with 
it every breath of warm air there might have been. 

About their bodies there would be wrapped a strip of torn 
cloth for clothing, and in their stomachs might be left a cup of 
thin gruel, and in their bellies might be a child six or seven 
months on the way. They had to do their work, and they had 
to do their best to see that old and young all had enough to eat. 
They would be sick in every part of their body, they would be 
losing their hair before they were thirty, but they could not rest 
for one minute or one second, and from sickness they walked 
on to death, and to buy their cofEns it would be necessary to 
collect subscriptions from the charitable. 

The growing daughters, sixteen or seventeen years old, would 
not even have a decent pair of trousers to wear, and could only 
wrap themselves in what tattered rags of garments their mothers 
could give them, and stay inside the room— a natural prison for 



them—helping their mothers do the work and mend the men's 
clothing. If they wanted so much as to go to the privy, they 
would have to look out first to see that there was no one in the 
courtyard before they scuttled across it like sneak thieves. Once 
winter came, they would not see the sun or clear weather. Those 
among them who were growing up to be ugly would in the 
future inherit everything that was their mothers', all the siek- 
ness and pain. Those who were nice to look at, who had an 
appearance, even they themselves knew that early or late their 
parents would sell them away— to ''enjoy happiness." 

It was just in this kind of a "common courtyard" that Tiger 
Girl felt very well pleased with herself. She alone had food to 
eat and clothes to wear, and did not need to be anxious. And, 
moreover, she could stroll about or go sight-seeing, all at her 
leisure. She stuck her face up high and proud both going out 
and coming in, and since she felt that her situation was due to 
her personal excellence, and was afraid that the others would 


defile or provoke her, she gave no sign that she knew those 
poverty-stricken people so much as existed.' 

Almost all of the hawkers and hucksters who came to the 
place to carry on their trade were sellers of the cheapest grade 
of things, like scrapings of meat from the bone, frozen cabbage, 
thin bean gruel, horse and donkey meat. It was in places like 
these that they found their customers. From the time that the 
Tiger Girl moved in, the hawkers of sheepshead meat, of 
smoked fish, of hard biscuits made of wheat flour, of bean curd 
cooked in brine and then fried, would stop at the gate in pass- 
ing to cry out their wares. She would come forth with her face 
stuck up and a bowl in her hands, shortly proceeding back to 
her room again, her bowl full of this miscellany of food. The 
children, sucking their bony fingers that were black and thin like 
little twisted strands of iron wire, would watch her in awe, as if 
she were some princess from a different world. But she had come 
here to receive, not to give, and she could not, would not, see 
the bitter sufferings of the others. 

Happy Boy in the first place could not but regard this be- 
havior with contempt. He was born in poverty, and he knew 
what deep poverty meant. He was not happy to eat all these 
miscellaneous odds and ends of stuff, all these tidbits— he re- 
gretted the money. In the second place — a thing which was even 
more unbearable: he had gradually worked through to the sugges- 
tion of an idea, as the stone polisher rubs through to the stone, 
that she was not permitting him to pull a rickshaw, and was see- 
ing to it that he was well nourished every day on good meats and 
vegetables and good rice, just as you would fatten a cow to 
squeeze more milk out of her. He had become completely her 
plaything. He had seen it before: in the streets a lean old bitch 
in heat would choose the fattest and strongest of the young 
male dogs. Tiger Girl would know what she wanted and would 
know how to get it. When this thought was uppermost in his 
mind he not only abominated the kind of life he was living, but 

, 23,7,. ■ 



he was even concerned for his own proper person. He knew how 
carefully a man who sells his strength should protect his physical 
well-being: it was everything to him. Supposing that he should 
go on living like this, eating and sleeping with no other purpose 
than to build up virility for a bitch to suck out of him, would 
he not become one day nothing more than a dried-out frame- 
work of bones? Still the same height and the same size, but with 
only emptiness where his guts should be? 

The thought made him shiver. He calculated that even if 
it meant risking his life he was still going out right away and pull 
a rickshaw, going out to run all day and come back at night and 
put his head down and sleep unconscious of everything else. 
He would not eat anymore of her tidbits, nor would he serve 
any more in her night-long games. He decided definitely on such 
a course of action, and he could not again give way; if she 
wanted to put out the money to buy a rickshaw, well and good; 
if she didn't want to, he would go rent one. Without making 
a sound about it, he thought the thing out in his own mind, and 
went and rented a rickshaw. 

On the seventeenth of the first moon he started rickshaw- 
pulling again, renting his cart by the day. After he had pulled a 
couple of fares on relatively long jobs, he began to notice several 
slight weaknesses that he had never felt before. The calves of his 
legs became knotted and hard, as if he were about to have 
cramps in them, and in the groins and the joints of the thighs, 
the place where the thigh bones join the rest of the body, he was 
aware of a vague aching sensation. He knew well enough the 
source of his own illness, but in order to console himself he 
pretended that it was due to not having worked for over twenty 
days; that his legs were out of practice. When he had taken a 
few more trips and got used once more to running, there prob- 
ably wouldn't be anything more to it. 

Again he took a fare. This time it was in a group, four rick- 
shaws together. Picking up the shafts of their rickshaws, the 

238 



company all gave way to a tall fellow in their midst, over forty 
years old, and asked him to lead. The tall one smiled: he knew 
that actually any one of the other three was a stronger staff than 
he was. But he was not afraid to use his strength, and although 
he knew clearly enough to begin with that he could not outrace 
these three young fellows, he was still not willing to trade on his 
age. When they had run for something over a third of a mile, 
one of the men behind called out to him in praise, 'TIow's this? 
Are you trying to prove to us how good you are? You're certainly 
not far from one of the best." 

In all truth he was not a slow runner; even Happy Boy had to 
bring out seven or eight parts of his strength just to keep up 
with him. But the way he ran was hard to look at. As tall as he 
was, he didn't seem to be able to bend at the waist. It was as if 
his back and waist were one solid flat piece of board plank, so 
that his whole body had to lean forward. This posture made his 
hands— gripping the shafts— seem to be too far back; he didn't 
look as if he was running, but as if he were weaving his way for- 
ward. With such a dead board as a backbone, his hips and but- 
tocks could do nothing but flop back and forth and up and 
down, while his feet slipped along the ground, his whole body 
twisting forward with what seemed an always augmenting ur- 
gency. The twisting process was in effect a rapid one, but you 
knew from watching it that it cost a great deal of wasted 
strength. When it came to swinging around a circle or turning 
a corner, his whole body turned, like a man witli a stiff neck 
who can't turn his head without turning his whole body in the 
same direction. The group sweat in their sympathy for him; he 
seemed always to think only of somehow getting forward, and 
the job seemed so grim a one for him that he had no energy left 
to pay any attention to what happened to the rickshaw he was 
pulling, or to the person who happened to be his passenger. 

When he reached the destination, big drops of sweat that 
had formed on his head and face ran down from the tip of his 



nose^ from the lobes of his ears, and from his lips, dripping down 
pea da py da as if they were racing to get to the ground. He put 
down the rickshaw shafts, straightened up quickly, and opened 
his mouth, peeling his lips back over his teeth. When he took 
the money that his fare proffered him his hand shook so that it 
did not look as if it had the strength to lay firm hold of anything. 

Because the four rickshaw pullers had hauled a group-job to- 
gether, they counted as friends, and they all stayed together 
when the job was done to wait for new fares. Happy Boy, like 
the others, wiped himself clean of perspiration while he joked 
and laughed with them. Only the tall one kept sweating for half 
the day, spending a. long time coughing, a dry retching cough, 
and spitting out quantities of white spittle, before he gradually 
came around and could begin talking to them. 

'Tm finished. My heart, the small of my back, my legs— 
there's no more strength to be got out of them. No matter how 
much I strain my thighs, I just can't make them lift my legs up 
in a free running stride— I only fret myself for nothing." 

^*Just now, those few paces we ran together, you were not lack- 
ing in much— do you regard that as slow travelling?" A short 
young fellow, twenty years old or so, had taken the conversation 
into his own hands. 'I'm not trying to deceive you; honestly, the 
three of us are all stout enough sticks, and which one of us 
hasn't sweat as much as you have?" 

The tall one was pleased a bit by that, but he sighed as if in 
mortification. 

The short fellow said: "If we're speaking of the way you run, 
it doesn't lack by much of throwing you forward on your face, 
am I right?" 

Another youngster said: "I'm not joking with you: I think 
it's a question of your age." 

The tall one smiled a little and shook his head. "And yet 
it's not altogether a matter of age, my brothers. I'm going to tell 
you one sentence of the truth: people who follow our profession 

240 



should never get married. It's the truth!" Seeing that the whole 
group had respectfully tendered him their ears, he dropped his 
voice a little. ''Once you get married, in the deep of the dark 
night and the brightest daylight as well, you have to spend your- 
self, and the time comes when you're played out. Look at my 
torso—it's as if it were no longer a live, flexible thing. There's 
no more give left in it. I'd best not press myself too hard in my 
running: once I grit my teeth and really try to move, I begin 
to cough and my heart becomes a jungle of bitter confusion. 
There's no use talking about it — his mother's! When you do 
our work you've got to be a bare stick for your whole generation. 
Even the house sparrows travel in pairs, but it's not allowable 
that we should marry. 

"Then there's another thing to be said. After you get married, 
you have a child every year. I've got five of them now. All with 
their mouths stretched open waiting to be fed. The rental for 
my rickshaw is high, grain and food are dear, my business is 
bad— what can I do? It would be better to have been a bare 
stick all my life, and whenever my strength flopped up at me. 
I'd go to one of the white houses where you pay to have it taken 
care of. And if later you break out with syphilitic sores, you just 
have to accept your fate. A single man can die, and when he's 
dead he's dead — that's all there is to that. But with a toy like 
this, if you ever get married, with all those mouths, you could 
die and you still wouldn't be able to close your eyes. Isn't that 
true?" he turned to ask of Happy Boy. 

Happy Boy nodded his head, but said nothing. 

Just then a fare came up, and although the short young fel- 
low was the first to accost the prospective passenger and they 
settled upon a charge, he stepped aside, making way for the tall 
one to take the job. "Old Elder Brother, you take him. You've 
got five children at home." 

The tall one smiled. ''All right. I'll make one more trip, but 
I wouldn't take advantage of an offer like that ordinarily. But 

■ .241 



well let that be— when I go back to the house in a little while 
111 be able to take one more piece of hard bread to the young- 
sters. See you soon again, my brothers.'' 

Watching the tall one until he had gone off into the dis- 
tance, the short fellow spoke as if to himself: 'It's mother's! 
You drag along through a whole generation, and you can't even 
rub up a woman. And the others— their mothers'!— in one 
household one man hugs four or five women to himself." 

''Don't talk about what the others do." The third among their 
number was speaking now. "You can see that in this business 
of ours you really do have to be careful. The tall one was not 
wrong in what he said. Let's just take what you were talking 
about. What is it that you get married to do? Can you take your 
wife and set her off somewhere as an ornament, a toy that's 
pretty to look at? You cannot. All right, then, there's where 
your trouble comes in. All day long you have nothing to eat but 
hard biscuits baked in the shape of birds' nests, and the strength 
you get out of them is attacked from two sides; no matter how 
husky a pole a youngster may be, he'll still have to crawl down." 

When he had heard this much. Happy Boy picked up the 
shafts of his rickshaw and said in an offhand way over his shoul- 
der: "I'm going to the southward a ways to wait for a fare— 
there's no business here." 

"See you again," the two young fellows replied. 

Happy Boy did not seem to have heard. As he walked along 
he picked his feet up. It was a certain fact that his loins still 
ached a little. Originally he had thought to put his rickshaw up 
and not pull any more fares for the day, but to tell the straight 
truth he just didn't have the courage to go back home. It was 
no proper wife who awaited him there, but an old bitch pos- 
sessed of the spirit of the she-wolf who steals at night into the 
darkened chambers of lonely men and sucks them empty of 
semen, drinking so deep of their manhood that the well runs 
dry, and they wander through the rest of their time staring 

" 242 ■ 



vacantly at the world about them and mumbling to themselves. 

The days had very gradually grown longer, and when he had 
swung back and forth across the town several more times, it was 
still just five o'clock. He ate a pound of meat cakes and drank 
a bowl of millet congee cooked with red beans. Walking slowly 
homeward, he kept time with his own steps with a loud and 
musical belching. He knew for sure that there was a clap of 
thunder waiting upon his return, but he was very calm. He had 
made up his mind: he would not quarrel with her, would not 
be angry with her, but would just lay his head down and go off 
to sleep. Tomorrow he would go out as he had today to pull his 
rickshaw. She could do what she liked. 

As soon as he got in the door, he saw Tiger Girl sitting in the 
outer room. She looked at him, her face so deep in storm it 
seemed as if torrents would pour out of it in that instant. Happy 
Boy sought to follow a slippery way, putting face aside, to speak 
to her. Unfortunately he was not accustomed to doing that sort 
of thing, and he went on into the inner room without uttering 
a sound, his head down. She, too, was silent and the little room 
was as quiet as an ancient grotto deep in the mountains. The 
coughing of their neighbors in the compound, their talking, 
the crying of children, all could be heard with an absolute clarity 
that at the same time seemed to belong to sounds that came 
from some remote distance, exactly as if from a mountain peak 
one had heard voices that came from far away. 

Neither of them was willing to be the first to speak, and 
first one and then the other lay down on the brick bed, their 
lips still tightly closed, like a pair of great turtles. After they had 
awakened from their first sleep. Tiger Girl spoke, the tones of 
her voice carrying a note of jest as well as one of anger: 

''What did you go off to do? Away the whole day!" 

"I pulled a rickshaw.'' He spoke as if he were half awake and 
half asleep; his throat seemed to have something stuck in it. 
"Oh! If you're not out making yourself smelly with sweat. 


243 



your heart itches, you cheap piece of bone! You didn't come 
back to eat the food I cooked for you. Are you more comfortable 
wandering stupidly all over the face of the earth? Don't deliber- 
ately try to turn me against you. My father began his career as a 
bachelor“-a tough, unsheathed cudgel in all truth—and I'm his 
daughter. There isn't anything I'm not capable of doing. If you 
dare go out again tomorrow like this. I'll just hang myself to 
give you something to look at. And if I can say it, I can do it." 

"1 can't go on being idle." 

"Tou can't go look up the old man?" 

"Tm not going to." 

'It's the truth, you're ugly-tempered and overbearing." 

Happy Boy had fire hooked onto his heart, and he could not 
forbear longer to say the words that were in his mind. 

'I'm going to pull a rickshaw, and I'm going to buy my own 
rickshaw. If anybody tries to stop me. I'll just leave and never 
come back again." 

'Hh-uh-h." The sound revolved in her nostrils, rising and 
falling and long drawn out. In it was expressed her pride and her 
conceit and her contempt for Happy Boy, but at the same time 
she had turned a corner in her heart. She knew that, for all his 
good disposition and his simple honesty, Happy Boy was a firm 
and determined person. And such a person never spoke in jest. 
It had been no easy thing to catch him; he was an ideal 
man to have: well-behaved and well-disposed, frugal, vigorous 
and strong of physique. Considering her age and looks, it 
wouldn't be so simple to lay her hands on another such a jewel 
as he was. 

You are only really able if you can be hard at one moment 
and soft at another. For the next move she would have to be as 
yielding as virgin cotton or soft felt. 

'1 know how ambitious you are, but you must understand 
how much I really feel for you. If you're not willing to go look- 
ing for the old man, we'll do it this way: I'll go hunt him up. 

244 



After all, Fm his daughter, and it doesn’t matter much if I 
lose a little face.” 

''Even if the old man will take us back, I still have to have 
a rickshaw to pull.” Happy Boy wanted to make his point 
absolutely clear. 

For a long time Tiger Girl said nothing. She had not thought 
Happy Boy could be so clever. In spite of the simplicity’ of the 
words he was using, he was yet telling her very clearly that he 
was through with her tricks. He was no stupid donkey after all. 
On this account particularly, she felt an even greater interest in 
him. She would certainly have to use her wits to rein in this 
great fellow who could kick like a mule when he was really 
exercised. Or maybe he was not a person, but just an immense 
thing; in any case, she must not press him too hard — it wouldn’t 
be so easy to find another thing as big as that. She would have 
to be measured in the strength of her pressure on him, her use 
of him: she could grip him tightly but not for too long, and then 
she must relax her grip and caress him lovingly, so that he 
would never quite get out of reach of her hand. 

^'All right, if you like to pull a rickshaw, there’s nothing I can 
do to stop you. You must swear an oath that you won’t take a 
job in some household to work by the month— that you’ll come 
back every evening. Just think of that; you can see for yourself 
that if I have to go a whole day without you my heart gets fran- 
tic. Promise me that you’ll come back home early every night.” 

Happy Boy thought of what the tall one had told them that 
day, and he opened his eyes wide and stared into the darkness, 
seeing there a whole battalion of rickshaw men, an army of 
those who lived by the sale of their strength: their backs were 
all round and bent over, and they could only shuffle their feet 
along the ground. At some future day he, too, would be that 
way. But right now it was not convenient to exasperate Tiger 
Girl; if he could only pull a rickshaw, that alone would count 
as one victory for him. 


245 



'Til keep on picking up fares on the street, and won^t take 
a private job/' he promised her. 

In spite of what she had said, Tiger Girl was not very- 
enthusiastic about going to hunt up Fourth Master Liu. Even 
when the two of them, father and daughter, had been living in 
the same house, they were continually quarrelling, but the 
present situation was more complicated. Tliis was a fog that you 
couldn't disperse in a single day's time by speaking thrice now 
and twice more a little while from now; aside from the serious- 
ness of their split, she could no longer be counted as a member 
of the Liu family. Whatever the particular circumstances might 
be, the relationship between a daughter who has left home to go 
to her husband's home and her parents whom she has left is 
bound to become more or less distant. She did not dare go di- 
rectly back like some brash litigant walking straight into the pub- 
lic hall of the magistrate's yamen, without having things ar- 
ranged in advance. 

Suppose, on that one chance in ten thousand, the old man 
should in truth turn his face away from her and refuse to 
acknowledge that she was his daughter. All she could do then 
would be to create a disturbance, shouting and brawling around, 
but if he kept a death-grip on his property, and would let none 
of it out of his hands, there wasn't the slightest thing she could 
do about it. Even supposing there was someone present to come 
forward and try to make peace between them and bring them to 
agreement, the most such a person would be able to accomplish, 
if no other course were open, would be to urge her to go quietly 
to her own home. The Liu house was no longer her home. 

Happy Boy went on as usual pulling a rickshaw, and she was 
alone in the empty rooms, walking back and forth. Three times 
over many times she started to put on her best clothes and go 
out to look up her father, but for all the intent in her heart, her 
hands were reluctant to move. She was in a dilemma. For her 
own comfort and happiness, the only course open was to go 

246 


back; from the standpoint of her own self-respect and the looks 
of the thing, the best thing was not to go back. Supposing the 
old man's anger had spent itself, all that she would have to do 
would be to drag Happy Boy back to the Human Harmony 
Rickshaw Shed, and naturally it would be possible to find work 
for Jiim to do, so that he wouldn't have to pull a rickshaw. 
Moreover, they could very firmly and securely lay hold on the 
old man's business. 

But here a sharp flash spread a cold illumination through her 
heart: suppose the old man remained unyielding to the very 
end? She would lose face. She would not only lose face, she 
would have to bend her head and recognize that from then on 
she could be no more than the old woman of a rickshaw man— - 
she, heng! There would be not the slightest difference between 
herself and the other women in the courtyard. Suddenly her heart 
grew as black as the blackest enamel. She almost regretted that 
she had married Happy Boy. No matter how ambitious he 
might be, if her own father did not nod his head. Happy Boy 
could be nothing more than a rickshaw puller for all the days of 
his generation. 

When she had reached this point in her thinking, it even oc- 
curred to her that it would be better for her to cut her connec- 
tion with Happy Boy as you would cut a cord with a knife, and 
go back alone to her father's house. She could not on his ac- 
count afford to lose everything that was her own. But as she 
continued along the unravelling thread of her thought, it came 
to her that the happiness that she had known with Happy Boy 
was something that no word or phrase could embody. She sat on 
the edge of the brick bed staring vacantly into space, wandering 
absently through the vague afternoon of her sensations, pursuing 
in her thought the essence of the joy that had been hers after 
her marriage. It was a joy that was not really here, nor there,* 
but resided in an idea, a flavor, that she could not name or 
describe. It was as if her whole body had been a bouquet of 


247 



flower buds, and all of them had burst into the warm fragrance 
of their flowering under the heat of the sun. 

No, she could not give up Happy Boy. She would let him 
have his way about pulling a rickshaw. If he wanted to beg for 
his food on the streets, she would still stay with him forever. 
Look — look at the women with whom she shared this courtyard. 
If they could bear it, she could bear it. And even if she and 
Happy Boy broke up, she would not want to go back to the Liu 
household. 

From the day he left the Human Harmony Shed, Happy 
Boy had been unwilling even to go down the Avenue of the 
Gate of Western Peace. In these last few days that he had been 
pulling a rickshaw again, he had always gone out the gate and 
toward the East City to spare himself the embarrassment of a 
meeting with any one of the many rickshaws from the Human 
Harmony Shed that would be sure to be circulating around the 
West City. 

But on this day, after he had put up his rickshaw, he pur- 
posely walked past the gate of the shed, for no reason except to 
take a look at it. What Tiger Girl had said was still in his heart, 
and he thought that before he returned to the shed he should 
first experiment a little to see if he would dare to walk down the 
road that Tiger Girl wanted to take. With his hat pulled down 
well over his face, he sauntered along on the other side of the 
street from the shed and some distance from it, the one fear in 
his heart being that someone he knew would recognize him. 
From far off he could see the light over the gateway through 
which the rickshaws were taken into and out of the shed; he 
could not have said why the sight of that lamp turned his heart 
into a turbulent stream that was hard for him to cross. There 
rose before his mind all the circumstances of his first coming to 
this place; he remembered how Tiger Girl had tempted him 
into a fatal course, and there was before him, too, the scene 
that took place on the night of the old man's birthday. 

248 


All of these things he could see before his eyes, like a series 
of paintings hung there, extraordinarily clear and distinct in 
every detail. Among these paintings there were others, of an- 
other time, smaller and simpler but just as distinct: they were 
of the Western Hills, camels, the Ts’ao household, the govern- 
ment detective; separate and clear and sharply lined, they 
formed one long connected gallery, fearful to behold and awful 
to think about. They were so real for him that his heart turned 
round in its confusion, and a vagueness and uncertainty and in- 
security blocked away everything that was real; the actuality lost 
its identity in the dream, and he had no way of knowing 
whether the tissue of memory could breathe and live or how 
it was that he had gone back among them or where they were 
or where he himself— alone in the dusk when they had all gone 
—could be. 

Without there having been any beginning to his thought, he 
was thinking again about himself and wondering why after all 
it was that he should suffer so much affliction and wrong. The 
time that he had been standing across from the front of the shed 
seemed very long, and yet again it did not seem that there had 
been any interval of time at all, or any passage of it. He could 
not figure out clearly how old he was, but he could only feel 
that, compared to the Happy Boy who had first come to the 
Human Harmony Rickshaw Shed, he was much older, much, 
much older. In that period his had been a full heart, and all of 
hope; now he had only a stomach crammed with anxieties. He 
did not understand why, but he knew that these pictures were 
not cheating him. 

In front of his eyes was the Human Harmony Rickshaw 
Shed, and he was standing across the street from it, staring 
stupidly at that bare electric bulb, still terribly bright. He 
watched and watched, until suddenly his heart moved. The four 
characters in gold on the metal plaque beneath the light had 
changed their appearance. He did not recognize characters— he 

249 



had never learned to read— but he could remember the look of 
the first character of the four: it was like two sticks leaning 
toward each until their tips touched at the top, and with their 
sides bowed in a little— X. It was not a cross, and it lacked one 
side of being a triangle. That very simple and very strange 
character would be, according to the order of words in the name 
of the shed, tlie one that stood for ''human’" or, more com- 
monly, just "man.” The first one of the four characters that was 
there now was an even stranger one, and altogether different. 
The name of the shed had been changed. He could not think 
of any reason for it or of any principle that would explain it. He 
looked again at the east and west rooms— never in all his life 
would he forget those two rooms — and in neither of them was 
there a light. 

It was only when he had been standing there so long that 
even he had grown impatient with himself that he turned and 
walked off homeward, his head low. While he walked he kept 
pondering what he had seen: it couldn’t mean to say that the 
Human Harmony Rickshaw Shed had failed and gone out of I 
business? He would have to question people about it, slowly 
and in his own time; until he had done that it would not be 
convenient to speak of the matter to his old woman. 

When he got back home Tiger Girl was opening melon 
seeds between her teeth and eating them to have something to 
do to relieve the boredom of waiting. 

"Again you come back as late as this.” There was not even a 
little spot of anything but hostility and hard bitterness in her 
face. 'Tni telling you, if you keep on like this. I’m not going to 
put up with it. When you go out it’s for the whole day, and I 
don’t dare go outside of this hole— the whole courtyard full of 
thieving beggars— I’m afraid of losing something. All day until 
evening there’s no place I can go even to say a single sentence. 
It won’t work. I’m not made of wood. You think of some 
plan— it won’t work like this.” 

■ ■ 250'- 



Happy Boy made never a sound. 

''Say something, you! What are you doing, deliberately try- 
ing to drive me into a burning rage? Have you got lips or not? 
Have you or haven't you?" The more she talked the faster the 
words came, and the more sharp and crisp they were, like the 
sound of a small-calibre artillery piece, firing one shell after 
another. 

Happy Boy still had nothing to say. 

"We'll do this — " she broke off the sentence in her frenzy, 
but even in her frenzy there was something that suggested that 
she really was without recourse, that she knew she had to have 
him; she was neither crying nor smiling, and her face was burn- 
ing with a fire that could not break into flame. "We'll buy two 
rickshaws and rent them out. You can stay home and we'll live 
off what we make in rental. Will you do that?" 

"Two rickshaws would only bring in tliirty-some cents a day 
—that's not enough to feed us. Rent one, and I'll pull the other, 
and together it'll do." Happy Boy spoke very slowly but very 
naturally. When he heard talk of buying a rickshaw he forgot 
everything else. 

"Won't that be just the same thing as now? You still 
wouldn't be at home." 

"Or we could do this" — Happy Boy could think of many 
schemes as long as the object of them was a rickshaw — "we 
could rent out one rickshaw and get a full day's rental from it. 
I could pull the other one myself for half a day and rent it out 
the other half. If I pulled it in the daytime, I could go out early 
in the morning, and come back at three in the afternoon. If I 
worked in the afternoon, I could go out at three and come back 
late at night. That would be fine." 

She nodded her head. "Wait until I think it over, and if 
there isn't a still better scheme we'll do just that." 

Happy Boy's heart was elated. If this plan could be brought 
to realization, it would amount to his pnlling his own rickshaw 

, 251, 



once again. Although it would have been bought with his old 
woman’s money, still he could slowly save more money of his 
own, and in a while buy another rickshaw himself. It was not 
until this time that he felt that Tiger Girl was worth something. 
Unexpectedly he turned to her and smiled— a natural, simple, 
unaffected smile that came from inside his heart. It was as if all 
the poverty and hardships were crossed off with one stroke of 
the pen, and the old world had become a new world, as easily 
as one would change from old clothes into new. 



7 

S LOWLY Happy Boy managed to piece together, by ask- 
ing one person and then another until he had the story 
clear, what had happened to the Human Harmony Rickshaw 
Shed. Fourth Master Liu had sold a part of the rickshaws, and 
the rest he had turned over to a well-known rickshaw owner in 
the West City. Happy Boy could guess that, the old man's age 
being upon him, he could not keep the business turning round 
without his daughter to help him, and he had therefore clearly 
and crisply given it up, and taken the money away to enjoy him- 
self. Where had he gone? But this Happy Boy had been unable 
to find out. 

He could not say whether he should properly be glad for this 
news or not. From the standpoint of his own inclinations and 
his obstinate purposes, Happy Boy felt that since Fourth Master 
Liu had definitely made up his mind to abandon his daughter, 
Tiger Girl's plans and schemes could be counted as having fallen 
252 




completely into emptiness, and he himself could go ahead in 
simple honesty pulling his rickshaw without any other thought 
than earning the rice that he ate, and without relying on anyone 
else. Speaking from the standpoint of the little bit of money and 
property that Fourth Master Liu had, it was in all truth a some- 
what regrettable thing. Who could have known that Old Man 
Liu would throw his money away like that? Not a single copper 
of it had so much as stained the hands of the Tiger Girl or 
himself. 

But affairs had already come to this pass, and he did not give 
ten parts of his mind to meditating on them, and there would 
be even less basis for saying that his heart had been moved in 
the slightest. The way he felt about it was this: whatever hap- 
pened, his strength was his own, and as long as he was willing 
to sell his strength to earn money, there would never be any 
question of not having rice to eat. Very simply and without any 
emotion whatever, he told Tiger Girl. 

Her heart, though, was deeply and terribly moved. Almost in 
the instant that she heard it she saw her own future with utter 
clarity: she was finished! Everything was finished. The best she 
could do now was to be the wife of a rickshaw man for the whole 
of her lifetime. She would never escape from this common 
courtyard. She had anticipated the possibility of her father's 
taking another wife, but it had never occurred to her that he 
might just shake his hands free of the whole thing and go away. 
Supposing it had come about that he had taken a young woman 
to wife, Tiger Girl could have gone to her and disputed the 
property, and there would have been no certainty but what she 
might have been able to join forces with her stepmother, a situa- 
tion from which she could have gained some advantage at least. 
She had plenty of schemes, as long as the old man kept the 
rickshaw shed. 

The one thing she had never dreamed might happen had 
happened: that the old man could be that hard and unyielding 

253 



and malicious as to turn his property into cash, and steal off 
somewhere and hide himself with it! Originally when she had 
fought with him she had regarded it as a type of maneuver, and 
had been sure that when the time had come to do so she could 
with the appropriate language turn the thing so that it would 
come out all right. She knew that the Human Harmony Rick- 
shaw Shed could not run without her; who could have believed 
that the old man would open his hands and let the rickshaw 
shed drop? 

There was even now a whispered rumor of the coming of 
springtime; the buds on the twigs of the tree branches already 
seemed full and red. But in this courtyard the spring did not 
first come to the branches of the trees: there wasn't a single tree 
or flower anywhere around. In this place the spring announced 
itself in the pock-like holes the melting ice had left in the center 
of the yard and in the rank, sickening stench which floated up 
with the spring breezes from the filth that the cold had covered. 
And the same breezes would pick up all the old chicken feathers 
and garlic skins and shreds of torn paper and blow them into 
the corner of the wall, making a tiny whirlwind of tliem there. 
The people who lived in the courtyard had their troubles for 
every season of the year. Only now would the old folk dare to 
come out to bask in the sun, and only now it was that the 
young girls wiped some of the soot smudge off their noses and 
faces, showing something of the natural yellow and rose of their 
skins. Then, too, it was that the women drove their children out 
into the yard to play, there being less reason now for them to be 
ashamed of the inadequacy of the youngsters' clothing. The 
children could find a piece of paper and try to make a kite of it, 
and could run about the courtyard as they pleased, without 
being afraid that their black little hands would be so badly 
frozen by the cold that they would split open in places. But the 
public kitchen that served the free congee put out the fire under 
its big cauldron; the distributors of relief stopped giving away 

254. , ^ 


rice; those who practiced doing good deeds stopped giving 
money to the needy; it was as if they took all those who were 
poor and in distress and turned them over to the care of the 
sunlight and breezes of the spring. 

It was just at this time that the early wheat was as green as 
new grass, and the stores of the old grain were beginning to run 
out, so that wheat and rice became as usual more dear. The days 
too were longer, and the old people could not very well go to 
bed as early as was their wont in the wintertime; it was no longer 
as easy to use their dreams of food in plenty to cheat the hungry 
rumblings of their stomachs. The entrance of spring into the 
life of man had only one effect for this courtyard: it deepened 
the distress. 

Lice that had grown old and wily~the worst kind, and the 
hardest to catch — would sometimes hop out from inside the 
wadded cotton of the garments of one of the old men, or of one 
of the children, and sit in the sun, to gain some experience of 
its warnith. 

Tiger Girl looked out into the courtyard at tlie freshly 
melted ice, at the unbearably tattered clothing, smelled the 
mixed hot odor, heard the sighs of the old men and the cries of 
the children, and her heart grew half cold. In the wintertime the 
people all stuck to their rooms to avoid the cold; the filth and 
garbage was all frozen under the ice; now the people had come 
out, and the filth had reassumed its original form. Even the wall 
—built of the fragments of broken bricks held together by 
mortar — was shedding dirt and dust, as if it were preparing to 
collapse on the first day that a heavy rain fell. The whole court- 
yard was bright with flowers and the soft green of their leaves: 
the flowers were these broken blossoms of poverty, and the 
green was the sick green-purple of rotting filth. It was many 
times more ugly and horrible than in the deep of winter. Heng! 
That it should be precisely at this time that she should be faced 
with the realization that she would have to live here forever; 

' . ^55 



that that little bit of money of hers would some day be all spent, 
and Happy Boy was nothing but a rickshaw man. 

She told Happy Boy to watch the house while she went to 
the Southern Park to find her father's sister, to ask after any 
news of the old man. Her aunt said that Fourth Master had in 
fact come on one occasion to her house— as best she could 
remember, it was on about the twelfth day of the first month. 
For one thing, he wanted to thank her, and for another to tell 
her that he calculated to go to Tientsin or maybe to Shanghai 
to have himself a good time. He said he'd passed his whole life 
without once having got outside the gate of Peking; after all, 
that could not be counted as anything very brave. He would take 
advantage of the fact that he still had a breath of life left in him 
to go to all these various places and increase his knowledge. He 
had also said he didn't himself have the face to spend any more 
time in the city because his daughter had lost all his standing as 
a man for him. This little bit was all his sister had to report; her 
judgment on the matter was even more simple and to the point: 
it might be that tire old man had in truth left the city, or it 
might be that he only said he was going to, and had gone into 
hiding in some little house down one of its countless lanes. Who 
could tell? 

When Tiger Girl got back home she threw herself down on 
the bed, and in the depth of her sadness began to cry. For a 
long time she lay there weeping, and her eyes grew red and 
swollen with tears- 

The crying done, she wiped her face and said to Happy Boy, 
"'All right, you've won! You can have everything your way. This 
time I bet on the wrong number. When you marry a rooster, 
you've got to be content to be a chicken like the rest. I'll give 
you a hundred dollars, you buy a rickshaw to pull." 

Behind this speech there was a sly thought of her own: 
originally it had been planned that they would buy two rick- 
shaws, one for Happy Boy to pull and the other to rent out. Now 

256 



she changed her plan, and would buy only one, for Happy Boy 
to pull. The rest of the money she would still keep in her own 
hand. As long as she had the money, she would have the power. 
She was unwilling to dig it all out: suppose by some remote 
chance that after she had used the money to buy rickshaws, 
Happy Boy's heart should change, and he should desert her? 
She could not but make some preparation for such a contin- 
gency. And, moreover, old man Liu's going off this way had 
made her feel how little reliance one can put on anything. No 
one can be certain of what tomorrow may bring; the best course 
of all was to take pleasure where you found pleasure. For that 
you had to have a few pennies in your hand, so that if you felt 
like eating a mouthful of something you could eat that mouth- 
ful. She had always been fond of tidbits, and now she was 
thinking only of those few joys that were still before her eyes 
and that she could still hope to grasp. 

There would come a day when the money was all spent for- 
ever. Marrying a rickshaw man — although there was no help for 
that now— was already perpetrating a wrong against herself; she 
could not add to tliat humiliation of going every day to him 
with the back of her hand turned down asking for money, and 
be without a copper in her own pocket. 

This decision made her feel a little more lighthearted again: 
although she understood very clearly that it meant that the 
future was impossible, still she would not immediately have to 
bow her head. It was as if, walking into the sunset with the 
distance already shadowed and obscured by the coming of night, 
one sought to take advantage of the remaining light to walk on 
a little farther without any thought of what one would do 
when darkness came. 

Happy Boy did not dispute with her. It would be good 
enough to buy just one rickshaw, so long as it was his own. 
Good or bad, he could make sixty or seventy cents a day, and 
that would be enough to supply them both with a mouthful 

257 



of nourishment to chew on. Not only did he not argue— he even 
felt a certain lift in his spirits, a kind of joy. Had he not under- 
gone all those hardships in the past for nothing else than to 
buy a rickshaw? Now he could buy one again— well, then, what 
had he to complain of? Naturally, when you depend on one 
rickshaw to feed two people, you can't save money; there would 
be danger ahead when this rickshaw began to wear out and you 
had made no preparation to replace it. But considering how 
difEcult it was to get the money to buy a rickshaw in the first 
place, he should certainly be satisfied now that he was in a 
position to get one. Why should he spoil what pleasure there 
was in it for him by thinking of anything so remote? 

One of those who shared their courtyard, he who was called 
Second Vigorous Son, was just at this time trying to sell his 
rickshaw. In the summer of the preceding year he had sold his 
daughter, Little Lucky One— she was nineteen years old— to an 
army officer for two hundred dollars. After Little Lucky One 
had gone, her father had for a time put on a great air of wealth. 
He redeemed all the things he had pawned at the hock shops, 
and even had a few pieces of new clothing made, so that the 
whole family looked strangely neat and well-dressed. 

The wife of Second Vigorous was the shortest and ugliest 
woman in the compound. Her forehead protruded, her jowls 
were heavy, she didn't have much hair, her teeth stuck out over 
her lower lip, and her face was covered with freckles, so that 
all in all you almost felt nauseated simply from looking at her. 
Her eyelids were red and swollen; the while she wept for her 
daughter, she wore her new blue cotton gown. Second Vigorous 
Son's temper had always been violent, and after he had sold his 
daughter he would often drink several cups of wine; with the 
wine in him, the balls of his eyes would become oiled with his 
tears, and he would be particularly given to finding fault with 
those around him. 

For the wife, although she wore her new dress, and got one 
,■■258 



really full meal to eat, still the pleasure did not balance the 
suffering: the number of times she had to suffer herself to be 
beaten up was now double what it had been. 

Second Vigorous Son was over forty, and he calculated that 
he would no longer pull a rickshaw. Wherefore he bought a pair 
of wicker baskets and rigged them up at each end of a shoulder 
carrying-pole, to go about hawking general merchandise. He had 
a complete line of goods: melons, fruits, peanuts, and cigarettes. 
After carrying on this business for two months he struck a rough 
balance and discovered that he was not only losing, but losing a 
great deal. Accustomed to pulling a rickshaw, he could not meet 
the demands of business; the rickshaw man's job was a matter of 
bumping into a customer on every street you went down; if 
you got the job, all right; if you didn't, there was an end to it. 
To carry on a small business, you must sweat over every little 
detail, over every half copper, and be quick to see your chance 
to cheat your customer. Second Vigorous wasn't capable of it. 

Rickshaw pullers know how to buy things on credit, and they 
are therefore unable to get by with a whole face in refusing to 
let people whom they know well owe them their accounts; once 
owing, it is no easy thing to collect the money. 

Proceeding on this basis, it was impossible for Second 
Vigorous to draw any good customers to himself, and those 
who had business transactions with him were almost exclusively 
people who coveted the opportunity to buy on credit things for 
which they never had any intention of paying. He had no way to 
avoid losing money, and when he lost money he would be sad, 
and when he was sad he would drink even more wine than usual. 
Dmnk, he was constantly quarreling with policemen on the 
street, and at home he would take out his anger on his old 
woman and his children. He would offend the police, and beat 
his wife, all on account of wine. 

When he got sober again, he would be extraordinarily re- 
pentant and swallowed up in an aching regret. And when he 

259:; 



gave the matter further thought, and realized that this little bit 
of money had come from the sale of his own daughter, and he 
was losing it like this without getting any return for it, and was 
even drinking wine and hitting people, he would feel that he was 
hardly worthy to be called a human being. At times like these 
he was capable of going off and falling into a vexed slumber for 
the whole day, turning his bitterness and his distress over to 
his dreams. 

He made up his mind to abandon his business and go back 
to pulling a rickshaw; he could not simply fritter that money 
away. He bought a rickshaw. During his drunken periods he 
would never talk reason and had no use for the proprieties, but 
when he was sober he had the greatest love for respectability and 
an impressive front. Because he had this predilection for face, 
he was forever putting on the airs a poor man affects when he 
wants to impress people. Everything had to be according to the 
book. The rickshaw he bought was a brand-new one, and the 
clothes he wore were neat and clean. On account of the fact 
that he felt himself to be a high-class rickshaw man, he felt 
obliged to drink the better-grade tea, and that it would be 
beneath him to haul any but smart-looking and well-dressed 
fares. 

He was capable of standing at the mouth of some lane for 
long periods of time, letting the bright sunlight shine on his 
new rickshaw and on his white vest and trousers, gossiping with 
the crowd, but never deigning to try to do any business. Every 
few minutes he would bring out his new duster made of strips 
of blue cloth at the end of a stick that served as a handle and 
make a great display of brushing off his rickshaw; again he would 
stamp his feet on the ground, bringing his new double-lined, 
white-soled shoes down on the roadside; yet again he would 
stand with one foot crossed over the other one, one arm akimbo 
and the other resting on the mudguard of his rickshaw, his eyes 
looking down his nose and a faint smile on his lips, waiting for 

260 


someone to praise the rickshaw^ whereafter they could find a 
topic of discussion, and once they had gotten started talking 
there would be no end to it. In this way he could soak away 
two or three days on end without any result. When it did come 
to the point that he got a good fare, his feet would be no proper 
match for his rickshaw and his clothes: he would be unable to 
run. This again made him extraordinarily sad; once this sadness 
came upon him, he thought of his daughter, and the only thing 
that there was to do was to go drink wine. In this way all of his 
money had soon been squandered, and all he had left was his 
rickshaw. 

Sometime near the Day of the Winter's Beginning he got 
drunk again. As soon as he came in the door his two sons— one 
was thirteen and the other eleven — thought to get out of his 
way. This enraged him and he gave each of them a good hard 
booting. His wife said something, and he bore down on her, 
trampling on the lower part of her stomach. She lay down on 
tlie ground and for a long time emitted no sound. The two boys 
were frantic, and one took the coal scoop and the other the pole 
used in pounding grain, and entered a battle to the death against 
their father. The three were rolled into one struggling mass, and 
the seven hands and eight feet that flew about in all directions 
managed to trample tlie mother several more times. The neigh- 
bors came over and with the greatest difflculty were able finally 
to get Second Vigorous laid out on the brick bed, while the two 
children embraced their mother and wept. 

Mrs. Second Vigorous came to, but from that time on until 
the end she was never again to set her feet on the ground. On 
the third of the twelfth lunar month her breathing stopped, and 
she lay dead on the brick bed, dressed in the long blue gown 
that had been bought for her after her daughter had been sold. 

Her own family would not stand for their daughter's being 
brought to such an end, and nothing would do but that they 
must have a lawsuit over it. Friends on both sides came forward 

261 



and entreated them in the name of the living and in the name 
of the dead before the wife's family was finally willing to give 
way, although Second Vigorous Son was on his part obliged to 
promise that he would see that the dead was properly escorted 
to her grave, and he had moreover to pay her family fifteen 
dollars. 

He pawned his rickshaw for sixty dollars. After the New 
Year he wanted to get it off his hands entirely, since he had no 
hope of ever being able to redeem it himself. In his drunken 
periods he would in all truth think of selling one of his sons, 
but there was never a chance of anyone's wanting to buy one 
of them. Also on one occasion he hunted up Little Lucky One's 
husband, but the fellow refused from the very beginning to 
acknowledge that he had any such father-in-law at all, so there's 
no need relating again how that turned out. 

Happy Boy knew the history of this rickshaw, and he did not 
very much like the idea of taking it. There were plenty of rick- 
shaws to pull-— why should they buy this particular one, this 
rickshaw of ill omen that had been bought at the price of a 
daughter, and was being sold because of the murder of a wife? 

Tiger Girl did not look at it that way. She thought that with 
the use of a little more than eighty dollars, you would be able 
to buy it — a bargain! The rickshaw had only been in service for 
a little less than half a year, and even the color of the tires 
hadn't changed much. Moreover, it was a known fact that it 
had been made by the famous Virtue Achieved Factory in the 
West City. If you bought one that was seven parts new, 
wouldn't that cost you fifty or sixty dollars? She could not forego 
so cheap a price. She knew, too, that so soon after the New 
Year money was tight everywhere; Second Vigorous Son would 
not be able to get a high price, and he was in urgent need of 
the use of the money right away. She went herself to look at 
the rickshaw, herself bargained with Second Vigorous over the 
price, and handed over the money. 

262 


Happy Boy could do nothing but wait to have the rickshaw 
brought to him for a trial pull. He said nothing, nor was it 
convenient for him to say anything, since the money was not 
his own. When the cart had been fully purchased, he looked it 
over with minute care. In all truth it was strong and solid. But 
he had always a certain slight feeling of irritating constraint 
about it. The thing that he was least enthusiastic about was the 
fact that the body of it was in black lacquer, while the brass 
fittings were all finished in white enamel. When Second Vigor- 
ous was having the cart made, because white and black are 
in such sharp contrast with each other, and tend each to ac- 
centuate the other, he felt that it would make a handsome 
appearance; Happy Boy, on the contrar}^, felt that it was ill- 
omened, like a person dressed in mourning. He was very much 
tempted to change the cover, perhaps to a chrome yellow or a 
moon white; that might be enough to lessen a little the austerity 
of the rickshaw's decor. But he never discussed the matter with 
Tiger Girl, the better to avoid just another spate of her barbed 
and malicious mouthings. 

When he drew tliis rickshaw out to pull it, the crowd all 
took especial notice of it. Some people would call it only ''the 
Little Widow." Happy Boy’s heart was not at ease on that score, 
although he managed in ways of his own to keep his mind off it. 
But the rickshaw itself was always with him, from early morning 
until late at night, and he was always nervous and apprehensive, 
as he never knew at what moment it might jump the track. 
Sometimes he would suddenly think of Second Vigorous Son, 
and the misfortunes with which the fellow had met; it would be 
then as if it were not a rickshaw at all that he was pulling, but 
a coffin. It seemed to him that he was constantly seeing the 
shadowy spirits of the dead riding for nothing in this rickshaw 
of his. 

In spite of the tick-tick sound of unreasoning restlessness 
that his heart made, he had no trouble at all with the rickshaw 

263;'; ■ 



from the first day forward. The weather grew warmer as the 
weeks passed; he took off his cotton padded garments^ and it 
was almost as if you could do without any lined clothes at all, 
and wear only a jacket and trousers of a single thickness of cloth; 
Peking does not have much springtime. The days grew so long 
that people seemed as if they were growing impatient with the 
whole thing; they were all sleepy and tired. Plappy Boy went 
out at dawn, and went round and round through the streets 
until four o'clock in the afternoon, when he felt that he had 
already sold enough of his strength; the sun, though, would 
still be very high in the heavens. He didn't want to run any 
more, and yet he was unwilling to put up his rickshaw. Caught 
in this perplexity, he would yawn long and lazily. 

If this length of the days made Happy Boy feel weary and 
spiritless. Tiger Girl back at home was even more dejected and 
solitary. In the wintertime she could warm herself by the stove, 
listening to the sound of the wind outside, and even though she 
would be depressed she could always console herself with the 
thought that it was better not to go out into such weather. Now 
the stove was moved out under the eaves, and there was just 
nothing at all left for her to do in the room. The courtyard, too, 
was so filthy and stinking; there was not even a single blade of 
living grass to be found in it. If she went out on the street, she 
would have to be uneasy about the neighbors; even if it was 
just to go buy something, she still had to go straight there and 
come straight back, without daring to loiter on the way. She 
was very much like a bee that has been shut up inside a room; 
it is in vain that it watches the sunlight outside, because it can- 
not fly out into it. With the other women in the courtyard she 
felt that she had so little in common that she could not get up a 
conversation with them. The thing they talked most about was 
the latest gossip of the neighborhood, while she had been so long 
accustomed to being completely free, like a wild hill song with 
neither tune nor rhyme, that she didn't like to talk about, or 

264 


hear about, all this pettiness. Their grievances arose from the 
miserable lives that they led; every little unimportant thing 
was enough to bring tears to their eyes. Her grievances arose 
from her discontent with the life she was leading; she had no 
tears to weep, and when she wanted to let out some of her 
stored-up resentment, she would think to find someone to 
whom she could give a good cursing. She and the other women 
could have no mutual understanding of each other, so it was 
best that each minded her own affairs and neither spoke to the 
other. 



It was not until the fourth month was half over that she 
found a companion. Little Lucky One, the daughter of Second 
Vigorous, came back. Her "man” was a military officer; wher- 
ever he went it was his custom to establish a very simplified 
“family.” He would spend one or two hundred dollars to buy 
himself a young virgin, and besides that he would purchase a 

265 



large-size bed of boards and two chairs, which was enough to 
make it possible for him to pass a few days in pleasure. 

When the troops were transferred to some other place, he 
would open his hands to let the whole affair drop from them 
and turn his back and walk away, leaving the woman and the 
board bed stretched out where they were. He took no loss at all 
on the transaction, spending one or two hundred dollars for a 
year or a year and a half s time. Counting only the washing and 
mending of clothes, cooking, and all the other little things that 
have to be done around the house, if he had hired a servant 
to take care of them, would he not have had to spend eight or 
ten dollars a month, not counting the money it would cost to 
feed him? By this method of taking a wife, he not only got a 
servant, but someone to sleep with as well. Moreover, she was 
absolutely guaranteed to be clean and without disease. If he 
was enthusiastic about her, he would have a brightly flowered 
calico dress made for her that would cost something over a 
dollar. If she gave him no particular pleasure, he would buy her 
no clothes at all and keep her kneeling on her haunches in 
the room bare-holed and helpless. 

So when the time came for him to be moved on, he would 
not in the least regret the bed-board and the pair of chairs, be- 
cause the last two months: room rent he would be owing would 
be left for the girl to find some means to pay, and pawning the 
board and anything else that might have been accumulated 
would hardly cover the full amount. 

Little Lucky One had simply sold the bed-board, paid the 
rent, and come back home wearing her calico dress and a pair of 
silver-plated earrings. 

After Second Vigorous had sold the rickshaw, aside from 
the repayment to the pawn shop of the principal and interest 
they had loaned him on it, he had about twenty dollars left. 
Sometimes he would get to feeling that it was a terribly pathetic 
thing for a middle-aged man to have his wife die; since no one 

266 


else had any sympathy for him, he would go off and have a cup 
of wine with himself for the sake of consolation and com- 
miseration. At such times it was as if he had a feeling of enmity 
for money and was determined to squander it no matter how 
great the effort or risk involved. On occasion it would come 
over him that it was more than ever necessary that he put forth 
every bit of energy in his rickshaw pulling, in order to properly 
drag his two boys up to manhood, so that the future might hold 
a little hope for all of them. When these thoughts of his sons 
would occur to him he would chirp seven times like a bird and 
neigh eight times like a horse, rush out to buy a whole stock of 
food and stagger back with it to give it to the two of them to eat. 

Watching them gulp it down with tiger-like appetites, his 
eyes would hold back their tears, and he would make conversa- 
tion with himself, saying: ''Children without a mother! Chil- 
dren of bitter destiny! Papa lives in poverty and works hard, all 
for you children. Without any deception I can tell you, whether 
I get enough to eat or not counts for nothing; first my children 
must have their fill. Go ahead and eat. The only thing I ask is 
that when you grow up and become men, you just don't for- 
get me." 

In moods like these he also spent no small amount of money, 
and gradually the whole twenty dollars was used up. 

Being without money, when it came again time for him to 
drink, he would go into a rage and for two or three days on end 
pay no attention to whether the youngsters had anything to eat 
or not. There was nothing that they could do. The only course 
they knew of was to think of some schemes of their own for 
scraping together a few coppers to buy something to eat. They 
could act as guides and runners in weddings or funerals; they 
could follow along after the trash cart and pick up a few scraps 
of broken copper or a few torn newspapers. Sometimes in that 
way they could get enough to buy a roll baked with a meat fill- 
ing, but sometimes they could only afford a catty of wheat husks 

267 ' 



and yams, which they would gulp down whole, skins, roots and 
all. And at yet other times the two of them would have only one 
copper between them; the best thing they could do then was to 
buy a handful of broad beans and peanuts; you couldn't ward 
off the pangs of hunger that way, but at least you could chew 
on them a little longer. 

When Little Lucky One returned, and they saw someone 
who was one of them, there was nothing that they could say: 
one took hold of her right arm and the other of her left, and 
they both just looked up at her, smiling, their faces streaming 
with tears. Mother was deadi Big Sister was Mother now! 

Second Vigorous gave no sign either of pleasure or displeas- 
ure at his daughter's return. Her coming back only added one 
more person to be fed. But, seeing how happy the two young- 
sters were, he was forced to admit that there ought to be a 
woman in the home, to cook for the family and to wash its 
clothes. It was thus not convenient for him to make any objec- 
tion, and he thought it best simply to keep on going and calcu- 
late where you were when you got there. 

Little Lucky One had grown into a girl who was not hard 
to look at. Although originally she had been very thin and slight, 
since she had gone to live with the army officer she had filled 
out a great deal, and had even grown a little taller. Her face was 
soft and round, her eyes and eyebrows very even, and although 
there was no one thing about her that was particularly striking 
or above average, she was solidly pretty in all truth. Her upper 
lip was very short, and no matter whether she was angry or about 
to smile, this upper lip drew back a little, showing a row of teeth 
very even and very white. The thing that the army officer had 
been especially fond of about her had been those teeth. When 
she showed them, her face took on a simple bewildered look, 
like that of a person who does not know what to do next, and 
at the same time it gave her tlie air of a petted and innocent 
child, 

268 



This guileless expression gave her— in common with all girls 
who come from poverty and are yet pretty— something of the 
natural beauty of the flowers and grasses of the forests, and made 
it certain that, like tliem, they need only have a little fragrance 
or coloring of their own for them to be duly plucked and taken 
to the market to be sold. 

From the beginning Tiger Girl had taken no notice of the 
other people in the courtyard, but she regarded Little Lucky 
One as worthy of being her friend. In the first place, she had 
some looks; in the second place, she wore a long gown of flow- 
ered calico; in the third place, Tiger Girl was convinced that 
since she had been married to an army officer, she would cer- 
tainly have seen something of the world; and therefore she w^as 
willing to be seen in her company. It is not easy for women to 
make friends, but if they are going to associate with each other 
the relationship is very quickly established. It was not many days 
before they had become intimate friends. 

Tiger Girl loved to eat tidbits, and every time she got hold 
of a few melon seeds or anything of that sort she would be sure 
to call over for Little Lucky One to come across and share them 
with her. As they ate they would talk and laugh. In the midst 
of this chatter, Little Lucky One would show her wdiite teeth, 
and in her simple-minded bewildered manner tell Tiger Girl 
many things that she had never heard of before. Living with 
her army officer had not been any business of ''enjoying happi- 
ness,"' but when he was in high spirits he would sometimes take 
her to a hotel to dinner, or to the theatre, so that she had plenty 
of things to tell about, and as she related them Tiger Girl would 
listen to her with admiration. 

There were also many things that it was very hard to speak 
of: she thought of them as kinds of ill-treatment to which she 
had been subjected, humiliations too lecherous to be discussed, 
even with one's closest friend, but to Tiger Girl all of these 
things were thrilling experiences. Tiger Girl begged and en- 

269 



treated lier to tell lier all about them^ and for all the embarrassed 
constraint Little Lucky One felt in discussing them^ she still 
could not quite bring herself to refuse her friend. 

Little Lucky One had seen one of those books entitled 'The 
Palace of Springtime"' which are shown to virgins on their wed- 
ding night before their husband takes them^ and in which in a 
long series of beautiful paintings are shown all the ways in which 
virile strength may approach the soft cushion that so tingles to 
receive it and absorb its heat. Because Tiger Girl had first given 
herself a long time ago and without formality to a man who was 
practically a stranger, she had never looked inside 'The Palace 
of Springtime” and she must needs hear in detail from her more 
fortunate friend about every position and posture, and about 
what he does when she does this, and what she does when he 
does that. With everything of this sort it was the same: when 
Tiger Girl had heard about it once, she wanted to have it told 
to her all over a second time. 

In her eyes Little Lucky One was an altogether lovable, alto- 
gether admirable, and altogether enviable person. When she 
had finished listening to one of these recitals, and turned to con- 
sider herself “her looks, her age, and her husband — she felt that 
in everything in life she had been deeply wronged. She had 
never known the springtime of passion, the future held no hope 
for her, and as for the present— Happy Boy was so dead and 
heavy, like a brick! The more discontented she became with her 
husband, the more she loved Little Lucky One; although she 
was so poor, and so pitiable, still, in Tiger Girl's eyes, she was a 
person who had seen better days, who had lived and seen life; if 
Little Lucky One were to die that same day, she would still have 
no cause for complaint. In Tiger Girl's way of looking at it. 
Little Lucky One was a sufficient example of the joys that every 
woman should know. 

But Tiger Girl had not seen the depth of her friend's pov- 
erty, nor understood the bitterness of her distress. Little Lucky 

270, ' 


One had brought nothing back with her, and yet, no matter how 
worthless her father was, she had to take care of her two younger 
brothers. Where was she to go to get the money to feed them? 

Second Vigorous in his drunkenness proposed a way: 'If in 
your heart you have any true feeling for your brothers, there's a 
way that you can make money to take care of them. Everyfhing's 
up to me; I have to spend the whole day playing pack horse for 
the public, and Fve got to have enough to eat before I can do 
that— do you think I can run when my stomach's empty? 
Would you think it was funny if I tripped and fell and killed 
myself, or what? And you're just spending your time in idleness 
—you've got something ready-made that would bring a good 
price any time you were willing to sell it — what are you waiting 
for? Why don't you get out and start selling it?" 

Looking at her sodden alley-cat of a father, and at herself, 
and at her two little brothers who were so starved they were like 
sick rats, Little Lucky One could do nothing but cry. *But her 
tears would not move her father, they would not feed her broth- 
ers; she would have to bring out something much more helpful 
than that. So that her brothers might have food, she must sell 
her own flesh — she must open up the portal of her womanhood 
to any who had the price; she must nominate the number of 
coppers for which she would lay down her body and spread wide 
her legs. 

She took the youngest of the boys in her arms, hugging him 
tightly to her. He did not feel her tears wetting his hair: there 
was only one thing he could think of: "Sister, I'm hungry!" Sis- 
ter! Sister was a piece of meat herself, to be given to her brother 
to eat! 

Not only did Tiger Girl refuse her any comfort— just the 
contrary, she wanted to help. She volunteered to put up a little 
capital so that Little Lucky One could dress herself up ,and haye 
rouge to put on her lips. She could pay her back, Tiger Girl said, 
from her earnings. The older woman also wanted to lend her 

.271; 



young friend the space necessary for her contemplated venture. 
Little Lucky One's own room was too dirty, but Tiger Girl's had 
at least something of an appearance, and with the two rooms to- 
gether, there'd be more space to move around in. Since Happy 
Boy would certainly never come back during the daytime, Tiger 
Girl was pleased to help out a friend. Moreover, since the parti- 
tion was of paper, and you could make a place to peep through 
just by wetting your finger and putting it against it, she could 
hardly contain her composure in the thought of all the things 
she would see and all she would learn: all the things that she 
herself had missed, that she wanted to do but couldn't do. 

But there was one condition that Tiger Girl put forward: 
each time Little Lucky One used the room, she must pay her 
twenty cents. A friend is a friend, but business is business: on 
account of Little Lucky One's project, she had to put the room 
in the very best order, and since it was necessary to do that work, 
certain expenditures were entailed — was anyone going to claim 
that it doesn't take money to buy brooms and dustpans? Twenty 
cents could by no means be considered high — it was because the 
two of them were such good friends that Tiger Girl was consid- 
ering her face to the extent of renting the room to her at so 
cheap a price. 

Little Lucky One showed her white teeth, but the tears she 
shed fell in her own heart. 

That night when Happy Boy came back. Tiger Girl told him 
nothing of what had happened but he paid, too, in the sleep 
that he lost. With a full, deep, passionate joy Tiger Girl went 
after him: she had broken her father, she had just that day 
helped ruin the friend that she hated and envied, and now she 
would take it out of Happy Boy. 


272 


O^HEN the year had reached the sixth monthj, the coiirt- 
yard was hushed and deserted in the daytime. The chil- 
dren, clutching at the early morning, would pick up their broken 
baskets and go out to collect whatever they could find to collect; 
by nine o’clock the heat from the sun in its poisonous flowering 
would crack open the skin that covered their bony backs, and 
the only thing that would be left for tliem to do would be to 
bring back home whatever they had been able to pick up, and 
eat whatever food the grownups could give them. After the meal 
the larger ones among them, if they could scrape together even 
the world’s smallest amount of capital, would go buy a few frag- 
ments of ice from the ice plant, scrounge a few more, and take 
them out with all despatch to get them sold before they had 
melted. 

If they couldn’t find the requisite capital, they would join 
together in a crowd and go out to the River of the Protecting 
Wall to bathe, stealing a few lumps of coal from the railway 
station on their way or perhaps collecting a few live dragonflies 
and spiders to sell to the children of rich men’s homes. 

The smaller youngsters, not daring to run off to such long 
distances, would all go outside the compound gate to places 
nearby where there were trees, and in the shade of them play 
about, collecting locust bugs or digging gold mines. 

With all the children outside, and all the menfolk gone too, 
the women would be in their rooms, their backs bare to their 
waists, no one of them daring to venture outdoors-— not because 

273 



they were afraid of the way they looked but because the ground 
in the courtyard was already so hot it would scorch their bare 
feet. 

Only when the sun was about to go down would the men- 
folk and the children begin, one after another, to drift back. 
By this time the courtyard would be shaded by the wall, there 
would be a breeze, faintly cool, while the rooms would still have 
closed inside them the whole day's heat, as a vessel for broiling 
food contains the steam; everybody would be sitting around the 
courtyard waiting for the women to finish cooking the food. At 
this moment the courtyard would be full of an extraordinary 
bustle and excitement, like a market place but without any of 
the merchandise. Everybody would be red-eyed with the heat 
they had borne through the day, and no one would be in a good 
humor; the hunger in their stomachs would have made every 
face among them even more lean and strained. 

For a single sentence that was off the right track there were 
those who beat their children and others who beat their wives; 
if they couldn't beat them, they would curse them to complete 
satisfaction. This shouting and brawling would go on continu- 
ously until everyone had finished the evening meal. Then some 
of the children would lie down in the courtyard and go to sleep, 
others would go out to the streets to scatter about and play. The 
older people would be in much better temper after they had 
had their meal, and those who liked to talk would gather in little 
groups of three or four and tell each other of the hardships of 
the day. 

There would be those others who had no food to eat. By that 
hour of the evening there would be no place that you could go 
to pawn or sell anything, even if you had anything to pawn or 
sell, because it had already grown dark. The man in such a fam- 
ily would either throw himself down on the brick bed, paying 
no heed to the heat of the room and without making a sound, 
or he would shriek and curse in his rage. Holding back the tears 
■■ .274' ' ' 



in her eyes, the woman would do her best to smooth things over, 
and then go out and, somehow or other, after bumping her head 
against the hard nails of no one knows how many refusals, fi- 
nally manage to borrow a dirty little torn bit of paper, a twenty- 
copper note. Holding this precious scrap crumpled up in her 
hot moist hands, she would go buy a bit of mixed flour to fix 
up a pot of congee for the family to eat. 

Neither Tiger Girl nor Little Lucky One was a part of this 
pattern of life. Tiger Girl was pregnant, and this time it was 
real. Happy Boy went out at dawn; it would be at least eight or 
nine o'clock before she got up. That it was not proper for preg- 
nant women to move about much was a mistaken belief that 
had come down by tradition through countless generations, and 
Tiger Girl put great faith in it. Moreover, she wanted to use 
this as an excuse to make manifest her superior position: every- 
body else had to get up very early and be about their work, ex- 
cept only herself, who could in a leisurely and comfortable man- 
ner sleep until any hour she chose. In the evening she would 
take a little wooden bench out to the street beyond the gate in 
a place where there was a little breeze, and squat there, not com- 
ing back in until just about everyone in the courtyard was al- 
ready asleep. She would not bemean herself to engage in idle 
conversation with the other tenants. 

Little Lucky One got up late too, but for quite another rea- 
son. She was afraid the men in the compound would squint at 
her, so she waited until they had all gone off to work before she 
dared come out of the door of her room. In the daytime, if she 
didn't come over to look up Tiger Girl, she would go out to 
saunter on the streets, because she herself was her only advertise- 
ment of her stock-in-trade. In the evening, in order to avoid the 
gaze of people in the courtyard, she would not come stealing 
back in until she figured that everybody had already gone to bed. 

Among the men it was Happy Boy and Second Vigorous 
who kept unusual hours. Happy Boy feared coming into this big 

275. 



compound, and even more going into his room. The poor- 
mouth talk of the mob in the courtyard shook his heart with 
vexation; what he wanted to do was to find a secluded spot 
where he could sit down by himself. As for the room, he had 
come more and more to feel that Tiger Girl was truly like an 
old she-bitch of a tigress; the little room was so hot and stifling, 
and when you added in the tiger-bitch too, it was almost as if 
the moment he stepped into that room he was no longer able to 
breathe. Some days before he had had no choice but to come 
home early so as to avoid having Tiger Girl brawling at him and 
picking a quarrel with him for being late. In the last little while, 
since she had had Little Lucky One as a companion, she did not 
keep so tight a control over him, and he was coming in later. 

And Second Vigorous — well, it seemed that he hadn't been 
coming home much at all of late. He knew what kind of business 
it was that his daughter was engaged in, and he didn't have the 
face to come in the gate. But he had no way to stop her; he 
knew he didn't have the strength himself to provide for his sons 
and daughter; the best thing for him to do was not to come 
back again, but to make out instead that ''what the eyes do not 
see will not vex the heart." Sometimes he hated his daughter: 
supposing Little Lucky One had been born a boy child, he 
would guarantee that there would have been no need to have 
made such a stench as this; since the unborn was to be a girl, 
why had she chosen his wife's womb to steal into? Sometimes 
he pitied her— was not his daughter selling her body to nourish 
her little brothers? 

Hating her or feeling for her — neither supplied him the means 
to do anything about it. And when the time of his drunkenness 
came, and he had no money in his hands, he neither hated nor 
pitied her; he simply came back and demanded money of her. 
At such times he regarded his daughter as an object that could 
make money; he was the father, and it was fully appropriate to 
his position and in accord with the teachings of the ancients 

276 



that he should ask her for money. In these periods he would 
also be mindful of his good name; did not everyone despise 
Little Lucky One? Well, her father didn't make any excuses 
for her either, and didn't forgive her. While he was pressing her 
for money he would at the same time be reviling her, as if to 
make it clearly known to everyone that it was no fault of Second 
Vigorous, it was simply that Little Lucky was just naturally 
worthless and had no self-respect. 

While her father was shouting these things at her Little 
Lucky One would emit no sound, and not even so much as sigh. 
Tiger Girl on the other hand would meet him on his own 
ground, and, half urging him and half cursing him, manage to 
get him to leave. Naturally he had to have a few-even if it was 
very few— coppers put in his hand; however many these were, 
they would be just sufficient to permit him to go again to drink 
wine, because if he should sober up and see tliem, and remem- 
ber where he got them, he might jump into the river or hang 
himself. 

On the fifteenth day of the sixth moon the weather was so 
hot it drove you mad. The sun had hardly come out when the 
ground already felt as if it had been pushed down into a fire. 
A layer of dust-laden air that seemed like a cloud but wasn't a 
cloud, and seemed like a mist but wasn't a mist, floated low 
through the atmosphere, making people feel as if they were be- 
ing smothered. There was not the slightest breath of wind. 
Happy Boy went out into the courtyard and looked up at that 
dust-red sky, calculating that he should pull the late shift, wait- 
ing until after four o'clock to go out. Supposing he couldn't 
make enough money, he could keep on pulling his rickshaw 
right through till dawn of the next day; the night would in any 
case be a little easier to bear than the daytime. 

Tiger Girl pressed him to go out, for fear his being around 
the house would get in the way. Suppose by a remote chance 
Little Lucky One brought back a guest with her? 


277 



''Do you think itll be any easier to bear at home than on the 
street? By noon even the walls of the room are roasting/' 

He said never a word^ but drank a gourd of cold water and 
went out. 

The willow trees on the street were as if they were sick; their 
leaves^ covered by a layer of dust, were curling back on the 
stems; their branches could not find the energy to make even 
the slightest movement, and only hung listlessly down toward 
the earth- There was not a drop of water anywhere on the 
avenue; it was so dry it gave off a shimmer of white light, like 
heat become visible. In the by-ways the dust rose up very high, 
joining with the gray air of the heavens to form a floating carpet 
of the crudest dust and sand, to scald the faces of people who 
walked the paths beneath it. Everywhere it was parched; every- 
thing you touched burned your hand; everywhere it was stifling; 
the whole city was like a burned-out brickkiln. People could not 
draw their breath, and dogs lay panting in the street, their red 
tongues stuck out. The nostrils of horses and mules were ex- 
traordinarily distended; the hawkers did not dare to cry their 
wares; the macadamized roads began to melt away; even the 
brass shop signs hanging now so still before the store fronts 
seemed about to melt. 

The street was extraordinarily deserted and quiet; there was 
only the monotonous ting-tong of the hammers from the copper 
and iron stores, that made you even more uncomfortable. The 
rickshaw pullers, knowing full well that if they did not keep 
moving they would not have food to eat, yet were reluctant to 
try to find fares. Some of them found places that were relatively 
a little more cool and shady, parked their rickshaws there, put 
up the tops, and sat down in them to take a nap; others slipped 
into some teahouse and sat there sipping tea; there were still 
others that didn't take their rickshaws out at all, but simply 
walked down to the corner to see how things were, and discov- 
ered for themselves that there was no possibility of pulling a 
.278 V 



rickshaw in such weather. Tliose who actually picked up fares, 
even if they were the smartest-looking lads of the lot, had even 
at that to accept a loss of face: they did not dare run, but could 
only walk slowly along, their heads down. Each time they got 
close to a well platform, the thought of water would seem to 
them to be the star of their salvation, and, disregarding the fact 
that they might only have come a few steps on the way tliat 
they were to pull their fare along, they would head straight for 
the well. If they could not reach freshly drawn water, they would 
share the trough with the horses and mules, and gulp a big 
mouthful of the water used by the animals. There were still 
others who, because they were already sunstruck or were in the 
first stages of cholera, walked on and on, aimlessly, their heads 
hanging almost down to the ground, and never lifting them up. 

Even Happy Boy was a little bit fearful. He had not pulled 
his rickshaw many steps when he could feel the hot air besieging 
him everywhere from his face to his feet; the very backs of his 
hands were pouring sweat. But, when he saw a passenger, he still 
wanted to take him, believing that if he could get started run- 
ning he might on the contrary feel a little breeze and be more 
comfortable. It was only when he did find a fare and began 
running that he knew the weather had already reached a degree 
of severity that would not permit of any man's working in it. 
As soon as he would start running he would no longer be able 
to breathe, and his lips would become parched; although he 
knew he was not really thirsty, still every time he saw w^ater he 
would rush to drink it. If he did not run, the poisonously flower- 
ing sunlight would bake the skin on his hands and back until it 
split. By the time he had somehow or other got his fare to the 
destination, his pants and vest would be plastered to his body 
with sweat. He would pick up a palm-leaf fan and fan himself, 
but that was no use— the breeze he made was hot too. He had 
already lost track of the number of gulps of cold water he had 
swallowed, and yet he rushed as fast for the next teashop as he 

' m : ■ 



had for the lash his heart becoming a little more tranquil only 
after he had drunk down two pots of hot tea. As rapidly as he 
poured the tea into his mouth, the sweat ran out all over his 
body: it seemed that he had become only a hollow cavity inside, 
without the capacity to store up even the smallest part of the 
liquid he drank. He was afraid to move again. 

After he had sat in one teashop a long time, a feeling of dis- 
gust began to grow up in his heart. The circumstance that, since 
he did not dare to go out, there was nothing at all he could do, 
made him feel that the weather was almost deliberately creating 
an impossible situation for him. No, he would not meekly sub- 
mit to it. This was not the first day he had pulled a rickshaw, 
and it was not the first time he and the summer had encountered 
one another: he could not let one whole day be blown away 
from him like a bubble in the air, altogether in vain. He wanted 
to go out, but his legs were reluctant to move, and his whole 
body was extraordinarily soft and weak, as you feel when you 
take a steaming hot bath and stay overlong, and somehow just 
can’t get back any energy or feeling of freshness after it. He had 
perspired no small amount, and yet he didn’t have that light, 
relaxed feeling that a good sweat gave him. He sat yet a while 
longer, and then could stay quiet no more. However you looked 
at it, you kept right on sweating even when you were sitting 
still, so why shouldn’t you go directly forth with a clear heart 
and give the thing a try? 

It was only when he got out that he knew the mistake he 
had made. The layer of gray atmosphere in the heavens had dis- 
sipated itself, and the extremely suffocating closeness was re- 
lieved, but the sun was much fiercer than before; no one dared 
look up to see where it was— one could only know that its daz- 
zling brightness was everywhere, in the air, on the roofs of 
houses, on the walls, on the ground beneath one’s feet. Every- 
thing was white with this awful shimmering whiteness that held 
a heart of red fire within it; the whole of the sky was a vast mag- 

280 



nifying glass, and any spot where you were was the point of 
focus, bringing down so intense a heat that everything about 
you seemed on the very point of breaking into flame. In this 
white light every color stabbed the eyes, every sound was a pierc- 
ing shriek, and every breath in the nostrils stank with the rancid 
stench of the steaming earth. 

Already the streets were empty of people, and it was as if 
the avenues had become much more broad, like boundless and 
deserted sheets of glare, without a single breath of cool air com- 
ing over their glistening surfaces. 

It made a man's heart afraid. Happy Boy did not know what 
to do. His head down, he pulled his rickshaw along, moving for- 
ward as slowly as he could and still move at all, without any 
objective. His mind was lost in a haze of heat, and his body stank 
with sticky sweat. After he had been walking a while his feet got 
so wet and hot that his shoes and stockings seemed to become 
all one gummy mass that made him feel with every step he took 
as if he were sliding in slime. It was a terrible feeling. He had 
decided that he was not going to drink any more water, but 
every time he passed a well he would go over, through no voli- 
tion of his own, and gulp down several more big draughts of it. 
It was not to quench his tliirst but simply and solely to feel the 
coolness of the well and with the water to cool his throat and 
stomach, to get from that sudden douse of coldness and delicious 
quick shiver that its dank chill gave him. That was a wonder- 
fully comfortable moment, but almost before he was through 
drinking he would start hiccupping, and the water would rush 
back up his gullet in a burning hurry, trying to get out again. 

Walking a while, resting a while, he was from first to last 
without the energy to hunt for a fare. At high noon he still did 
not feel hungry enough to eat anything. He decided to eat any- 
way at his regular time; but the sight of food made him sick. His 
stomach was full of all kinds of water from a dozen different 
wells, and every once in a while he could hear it gurgling a little 

281 



inside of him, in the way that you can sometimes hear the water 
slopping about inside a horse or a donkey that's just had its fill. 

If you were comparing winter and summer, Happy Boy 
would have been sure to claim that winter was the more to be 
feared. It had never occurred to him that summer could be as 
hard to bear as this was. It had been many more than a single 
summer that he had passed within the city's walls, but he could 
not remember one as hot as tliis. Was it really that this summer 
was hotter than the ones that had gone before it, or was his 
body growing less able to resist it? The moment this thought 
came to him, the fog in his mind lifted, and his heart suddenly 
grew cold. That was it! It was his own body that was no good 
anymore! He was frightened, but there was nothing that he 
could do. Tiger Girl was avid for every last drop of strength she 
could wring from his loins, and night after night she was after 
him, draining away his substance even after he was too weary to 
move. There was no way he could drive her off. He would soon 
be turned into just another Second Vigorous, or would become 
like the tall fellow he had met that time: he would be the grand- 
father of Little Horse. Happy Boy was finished. 

It was just a few minutes after high noon when he got an- 
other fare. This was the very hottest hour of the day, the very 
hottest day of the whole summer, but he had made up his mind 
to make another run. He didnT care how hot it was under the 
glaring sun. If when he'd finished this run it hadn't hurt him 
any, that would be proof enough that his body hadn't gone bad 
at all. If on die other hand he couldn't manage to carry this fare, 
what would there be left to say? If he couldn't pull a fare 
wouldn't he be better off if he slipped and dropped dead on this 
burning ground? 

He had only taken a few steps with his fare when he felt the 
breath of a cool breeze on him, as you feel a draft of cold air 
coming into a terribly hot room through the crack of a momen- 
tarily opened door. He hardly dared believe his own senses, and 

282 



looked at the branches of the willow trees. Sure enough, they 
were swaying ever so gently. Suddenly more people began to 
appear in tlie street: they were piling out of stores and houses, 
holding rush-leaf fans over their heads and hunting about in 
every direction, saying to each other, 'There's a cool breeze! A 
cool breeze! The cool air has come down!" It was as if everyone 
were about to begin jumping up and down and shouting. The 
leaves on the willow trees had become messengers of Heaven, 
commissioned to transmit Heaven's tidings. "The willow 
branches are moving! May the venerable Old Gentleman of 
Heaven vouchsafe us more of tliis cool breeze!" 

It was still hot, but one's heart was much more composed. 
The cool breeze, even though it was only a very very small one, 
brought everyone hope. After the first few wafts of cold wind the 
sun did not seem so strong. It would be bright for a moment and 
then be darkened, as if a blanket of floating sand had moved 
across it. Suddenly the wind became much stronger, and the 
willow branches, that had until a moment before been motion- 
less all the day, acted as if they haid learned abruptly some piece 
of very good news, and were dancing and swaggering from the 
joy and the pride of it. A heavy gust of wind blew over them, 
the heavens passed into the shadow, and all the gray dust from 
the desert rose up to float in the sky. When the dust and dirt 
had settled a little you could see on the northern side of the 
heavens the gathering clouds, deeply black. Happy Boy had no 
more sweat on his body. After a glance to the north he set his 
rickshaw down and put up the rain guard. He knew that in 
summer the rain comes the instant it tells you it is going to, and 
gives you no leisure to make ready for its coming. 

He had hardly got the rain cloth up when there was another 
blast of wind, and the black clouds rolled over and over until 
they had covered half the heavens. The heat from the earth 
blended with the cold wind, and the rank smell of the dry dust 
was added to the mixture. It seemed cool and yet it still felt hot. 

283 



The southern half of the heavens were resplendent with the 
brightness of a clear summer day, while the northern half was 
clouded over as black as ink. It was as if some terrible natural 
catastrophe impended, and in the panic the whole world had 
lost its head. Rickshaw men hurriedly put up their rain guards, 
and shopkeepers rushed to take in their street signs, while with 
hasty hands and scurrying feet the street hawkers rolled up their 
sidewalk displays. Pedestrians quickened their steps, pressed to 
reach the places they wanted to go while there was yet time. 
Then there came another heavy blast of wind, rolling everything 
up in its passage, so that when it was gone everything else 
seemed to be gone too, save the willow branches dancing madly 
to the wind's music. 

Even before the clouds had spread over the whole sky, the 
earth was already black. A bright, hot summer noon had sud- 
denly become the darkest hour of night. The wind, carrying 
raindrops in its folds, tore about with reckless madness as if in 
search of something, rushing first in one direction and then in 
another. Far out in the northern sky a streak of red lightning 
ripped away the black cloud like a strip of burnt flesh, as if to 
show the crimson blood beneath it. 

The wind was smaller now, but its sharp soughing made a 
man shudder. When it swept by it left everything in its trail 
confused and unsure. Even the willows seemed to wait in fright- 
ened uncertainty for they knew not what. Another flash of light- 
ning, directly overhead, spread a white and silver light through 
the heavy rain that began at that instant to fall. The big drops 
struck hard at the dust, beating it into the ground. They fell too 
on Happy Boy, so coldly that they made him shiver. By the time 
this shower had let up a little, the black clouds had spread them- 
selves evenly across the whole of heaven. 

Again the wind moved in, even more terrible than before. 
Willow branches were torn from their trees, the dust swirled 
everywhere, the rain came down hard again, riding a road it 

284 



knew. The wind, the dust, the rain were all stirred in together 
until they became one boundless howling force that sought to 
encompass the sky and swallow every living thing. You could not 
tell what was tree and what was earth or what was cloud and 
what was water; the four directions and the eight points of the 
compass were all now confused, and all echoing the same long 
moan. When the wind had died away once more there was noth- 
ing left but torrential rain, tearing the heavens and ripping the 
earth, a solid column of water. For long minutes there was no 
telling earth from sky but for the direction in which this vast 
river between them w^as hurrying its flood. Occasional flashes of 
lightning lit up the illimitable wastes of water. 



Happy Boy's clothing had early been soaked through; there 
wasn't a dry spot on his whole body; his hair had been wet under 
his straw hat. Below him the rivulets pouring across his feet had 
made each step forward very diSicult; above, the rain beat him 
on the head and back, sweeping sidewise across his face and 
wrapping itself around, his loins. He could not lift his head, nor 

2,85 ■ 



force his eyes open^ nor breathe, nor pick up his feet. The best 
thing he could think of was to stand still in the midst of the 
water; he did not know where the roadway was, or which was 
back and which was forward. The only sensation he had was of 
cold cold water, soaking through every inch of his body straight 
to the bone; he was aware of nothing else but of the constant 
drumming in his ears of the sound of falling rain, and the vague 
and fearsome fever that was beginning to burn in his heart. He 
wanted to put the shafts of his rickshaw down, but he did not 
know where it would be best to stop. When he thought of run- 
ning forward at something like a more normal gait, the water 
caught his feet. So he just kept dragging himself and his rick- 
shaw along, with his head down, taking one painful step after 
the other, and more dead than alive. The man riding in his rick- 
shaw acted as if he had died in it; without saying a word, he 
allowed his puller to stmggle desperately in the rushing water. 

The rain slackened a little, and at last Happy Boy could 
straighten himself up and draw a full breath. ''Master, let's take 
to shelter for a while and then go on." 

"Get along, and be quick about it! What kind of business 
would you count that, leaving me in a spot like this?" The man 
seated in the rickshaw shouted and stamped his feet. 

For a moment Happy Boy tmly thought of putting his rick- 
shaw down and going off anyway to find shelter. But looking 
down at the water running off him, he knew that as soon as he 
stood still anjwhere he would get a chill all over his body. 
Clenching his teeth, he began running, heedless of how deep 
the water might be. Before he had got very far the sky grew 
black again, and once more his eyes were blurred with rain. 

When finally he got his fare to the destination, the fellow 
stepped down truculently and handed him the price first agreed 
upon, without adding a single copper to it. Happy Boy said 
nothing; he was already having enough trouble just keeping him- 
self alive. 

286 



There was a lull in the rain, and when it started up again it 
fell much less heavily than before. Happy Boy pulled his rick- 
shaw back home, running all the way without stopping. Hug- 
ging the fire, he toasted himself for a while: he was shivering 
like a leaf in the wind and rain. Tiger Girl brewed him a cup of 
preserved ginger tea. He took it like an imbecile, grasping the 
cup in both hands and drinking the hot brew at one gulp. When 
he had finished it he wriggled down under the covers on the 
brick bed and lay there unconscious of anything around him, 
seeming to sleep without sleeping, with the ''shwah shwali"' of 
falling rain sounding ceaselessly in his ears. 

By four o'clock the black clouds were beginning to show 
signs of weariness, and the red streaks of lightning that flashed 
through them had lost their strength. In a little while the edges 
of the breaking clouds showed gold and yellow, and the thunder 
sounded only weakly from the south. In the eastern skies a 
seven-colored rainbow appeared, its ends resting in clouds and 
its arc sweeping high into the clear blue sky. In a while it was 
gone, and with it the last trace of a dark cloud. The blue firma- 
ment emerged from its cleansing like the earth beneath it, born 
anew from its darkness into brightness and beauty. 

Even to the mud holes in the compound enclosure a few 
gaily colored dragonflies came. But except for the barefooted 
children who chased them, trying to catch them, no one in the 
compound enclosure had time to take pleasure in the dragon- 
flies or the rainbow or the beauty of the world when the storm 
had passed. The retaining wall of the compound, at the point 
where it formed the back wall of Little Lucky One's room, had 
collapsed, and she and her two little brothers were busy patching 
up the hole with the matting from their brick bed. The com- 
pound wall had fallen in many places around the yard, but no 
one paid any attention to that: they were all busy cleaning up 
the debris in their own rooms. In some of the rooms the floor 
was too nearly level with the ground outside, with the result 

287 


that they were flooded with water; in them the whole family 
would be using seven hands and eight feet scooping out the 
water with broken rice bowls and old dustpans. In others the 
roof leaked like a sieve, soaking everything, and their occupants 
would be urgently moving everything out, to dry it by a stove in 
the yard or to lay it out in the sun. While the rain was falling 
they could only crowd into these rooms, the walls of which 
might at any time collapse and bury them alive, and commend 
their souls to the Venerable Old Gentleman in Heaven; when 
the storm was past they could count the cost of repairing the 
damage done. Although the coming of rain would bring down 
the price of rice by a few coppers a catty, their losses were not so 
slight as to be repaired with this scant saving. They paid rental 
regularly, but no one ever came to repair the place they rented, 
unless the walls and roof tumbled down so completely that no 
one could live there any more. Only then would a mason come, 
and with a little mud and a few broken bricks patch up the walls 
against the time when they would fall again. If the tenant 
couldn't pay the rent when it fell due, he and his whole family 
would be run out and his belongings seized in payment. But if 
the roof was broken or the walls likely to fall inward and crush 
you, nobody paid any heed. For the rent they paid, that was the 
most they could expect. Suppose there were holes in the walls 
and the lives of tenants were endangered? What of it? It was 
their damned fault. 

But the greatest of all losses that storms could bring them 
was sickness. Grownups and children alike, they all scrabbled 
every minute of every day to get enough to keep alive, working 
with what strength there was in them. Their bodies covered with 
sweat, their pores open, they could not fend against the sudden 
storms that swept the north in the summertime with the cold 
rain. The best they could hope for was to be ill only a day or 
two with fever, but if in that time one of the children was also 
taken sick, there would be no money to buy medicine for it. 

288 



Such a rain pushed up the corn and kaoliang in the countryside^ 
but it sprinkled death for many a child of the poor within the 
city. And if the grownups were sick it was even worse. 

The well-fed makers of poetry may sibilantly sigh forth their 
soft hymns to the jewel-bright bud of the water lily when tlie 
rain has passed, or to the beauties of the double rainbow; for 
the poor, when the storm is over and the worker is ill, the whole 
family starves. Each storm adds to the number of girls turned 
prostitutes and boys turned thieves, and there are more men to 
fill the jails. The rain falls on the rich and the poor alike, and 
on the just and the unjust. But the bitter truth is that there is no 
equity even in the fall of rain, because the world on which it 
falls is so unjustly ruled. 

Happy Boy was sick. Nor was he the only one 



“^OR two days and two nights Happy Boy slept a deep, heavy 
sleep. Tiger Girl was beside herself with fear. At the Temple 
to the Goddess of Mercy she besought from the spirits of the 
other world— by shaking the bamboo sticks in the little round 
box until one fell out before the others — a miraculous prescrip- 
tion. Following its requirements, she mixed a little of the ashes 
of incense sticks with two or three kinds of medicinal herbs into 
a liquid and poured it down Happy Boy's throat. It is a matter 
of actual fact that he opened his eyes and looked around, but in 
only a little while he went to sleep again, his lips continually 
making a gee-gee koo-koo gurgle from which it could not be 
known what he meant to say. 


289 



It was not until then that Tiger Girl called in a doctor. He 
punctured Happy Boy twice with a sharp needle and gave him 
a dose of medicine. The patient recovered consciousness, asking 
as soon as his eyes were open, “Is it still raining?'' 

The second dose of medicine was already concocted when 
he refused to take it. Because in his heart he was loath to part 
with money, and at the same time hated himself for being so 
far below standard that a rainstorm should lay him up sick, he 
was unwilling to swallow that cup of bitter juices. In order to 
prove that there was no need for him to be taking medicine, he 
thought to get up at once and get dressed. But hardly had he sat 
upright when his head felt as if it were being crushed under the 
weight of an immense rock. His neck went soft, his eyes saw 
golden stars before them. There was no further need of speech: 
he reached for the cup and swallowed the medicine. 

He lay on his back for ten days, and the longer he was there 
the more worried he became. Sometimes he pressed the pillow 
in his arms and wept soundlessly. He knew he could not go out 
and earn money, and that therefore Tiger Girl had to advance 
it from the little money she had. When that was gone they 
would be completely dependent on his rickshaw. The way Tiger 
Girl loved to spend money and eat good things, he knew he 
couldn't support her, and, moreover, she was with child! The 
longer he lay ill, the more confused and extravagant his misgiv- 
ings became: the more he upset himself with these anxieties, the 
harder it was for him to get well. 

Hardly was he out of the danger of death when he asked 
Tiger Girl: “How about the rickshaw?" 

“Don't worry. It's rented to Ding Four to pull." 

“Ah!" His mind was not at rest about his rickshaw. The 
thing he feared was that Ding Four~or somebody else— would 
get it smashed up or wear it out with ill-usage. But since he 
could not pull it himself, naturally it had to be rented out. 
Could it be left idle? In his mind he cast up the account. If he 
2Qo; 



were pulling the rickshaw, he could make in a full day at the 
very worst fifty or sixty cents. That was hardly enough— count- 
ing the rent, coal, rice, firewood, lamp oil, tea and water— for 
two people to live on, and that didn't allow for buying new 
clothes. Even then it would be necessary to scrape and weigh 
every penny, and Tiger Girl could not go on as she had been, 
just paying no attention to anything. Now their only income 
was the something over ten cents daily in rental for the rickshaw; 
it was necessary to make good, without any chance of recovering 
it again, the additional forty cents each day. And that didn't 
count the cost of the medicine. 

Supposing he just never got well? Yes, you couldn't blame 
Second Vigorous for drinking; you couldn't blame your down- 
and-out friends for acting stupidly and without regard for pro- 
priety: the road of the rickshaw man was a dead-end road! No 
matter how hard you worked, or how ambitious you were, if you 
got married or got sick or went a little bit off the track, you were 
finished. Huh! He thought of his first rickshaw and of the money 
he had struggled so hard to save. He had hurt no one, offered no 
one offence, had been neither sick nor married, and yet with no 
shadow of justification in feeling or reason both rickshaw and 
money had been taken from him. Whatever you did, good or 
bad, ended the same: the road he was on could lead only to 
death, death that would meet him he knew not how soon or in 
what fashion. When his thoughts brought him to this, his wor- 
ries would give way to the exhaustion of utter despair. Ha! His 
mother's! If he could not get up, he would go on lying there on 
his back. That was about all there was to it anyway. It would end 
the same way. So everything would go out of his mind and he 
would lie in perfect quietness. But in a little while this would 
again become unbearable, and he would want to get up right 
away to set about his bitter business. The road was a dead-end 
road, but the heart of man is living, and until it has been laid in 
the coffin there is no end to its hopes. 


291 



When he had tried once more to rise and couldn't, there 
would be nothing he could do but turn miserably, piteously to 
Tiger Girl, to speak to her. 

tell you that rickshaw is bad luckl" 

''Think more of getting well. Always talking about your rick- 
shaw. You're rickshaw-crazy." 

Then he would not say anything more. That was right: he 
was rickshaw-crazy. From the time he had first begun pulling a 
rickshaw, he had had utter faith tliat his rickshaw was every- 
thing, but the real truth was. . . . 

As soon as his sickness got a little lighter he got up and 
looked at himself in the mirror. He did not recognize the person 
he saw there. Flis whole face seemed to be covered with grisly 
whiskers; his temples and cheeks were as sunken as the jaws of 
an old woman who has lost all her teeth; his eyes were two deep 
holes; even his facial scar was covered with wrinkles. The room 
was terribly hot and close, but he did not dare go out into the 
yard, first because his legs were as soft as if there were no bones 
in them, and, second, because he was afraid someone would see 
him. Not only in this one compound alone but at every rick- 
shaw stand in all the West City he was known as an absolutely 
No. 1 cudgel among No. i hard-staffs. Happy Boy and this in- 
valid could not possibly be the same person! He was unwilling 
to go out; inside their little room he was stifled with boredom. 
He hated himself because he could not gulp down in one great 
swallow enough food to bring his body back to strength so that 
he could go out and pull his rickshaw. But sickness comes to 
tear down its victim, and it cannot be got to leave him so easily. 

When he had been recuperating for a month, he determined 
to disregard the fact that he was not yet recovered and started 
pulling his rickshaw in spite of everything. So that no one would 
recognize him and he could run as slowly as he pleased, he pulled 
his hat far down over his eyes. The name "Happy Boy" had be- 
come a synonym for "speed"; there was no way in which the 

292 ; 


two ideas could be separated, and he could not brazenly go about 
slowly dragging one foot after the other: everyone would despise 
him for it. 

To begin with, his body had not got altogether well, and on 
top of that Happy Boy could not forego pulling two or three 
extra fares so as to make up more quickly for the loss that idle- 
ness had cost him. In a few days his illness came back, only this 
time dysentery was added to it. He was so aggravated that he 
wanted to strike himself across the mouth, but it was no use. 
The skin on his belly seemed almost to have touched his back- 
bone, and still the flow did not stop. When finally it was checked 
his legs were so weak that even to squat over the stool exhausted 
him. There was no use even thinking of trying to pull a rick- 
shaw. So he rested for another month, knowing the while that 
Tiger GirFs money would soon be finished. 

On the fifteenth day of the eighth moon he made up his 
mind and took out his rickshaw. In his heart he swore an oath: 
if he got sick again, he would drown himself. 

During his first illness, Little Lucky One had come over fre- 
quently to see him. Happy Boy's tongue had never been the 
equal of Tiger GirFs, and because of the terrible stifling feeling 
in his heart he would occasionally exchange a few sentences with 
Little Lucky One. This enraged Tiger Girl. When Happy Boy 
was not at home, Little Lucky One was a good friend, but with 
Happy Boy there she was— according to Tiger Girl— a disrepu- 
table woman who had no regard for face who came to flirt with 
another woman's husband. 

She jpressed Little Lucky One to pay her the money owing 
her, and told the poor girl, "Trom now on, I won't permit you 
to come in here." 

Little Lucky One thus lost a place in which to receive her 
guests. Her own room was so ramshackle, with a gaping hole in 
the back wall only half stopped up with the matting off the brick 
bed, that there was nothing for her to do but to go down to the 

■ m 


'Transport Company'" to register her name. But the company 
had no need of the kind of goods she had for sale. The standards 
of the organization were very high: they specialized in introduc- 
tions to girl students and in the auction of virgins raised in the 
families of the great; their prices were high, and they did not 
want any ordinary article such as she brought them. She had no 
way out. If she thought of going down into a regular house of 
prostitution, the fact that she was without capital would make 
it impossible for her to do anything but mortgage her body. That 
would cost her her freedom. Who then would take care of her 
little brothers? It would be the simplest and easiest thing to die; 
life was already only mortal torture. She was not afraid to die 
nor did she want to die, because what she wanted to do was 
braver and finer tlian dying. She wanted to see her two little 
brothers old enough to earn their own livings; then she would 
die, and with an easy heart, but only when her death would save 
two lives. 

She thought coming and she thought going: there was only 
one road to travel. She would sell herself much more cheaply. 
Nobody who was willing to come into that broken-down hovel 
of hers could be expected to pay a high price for his pleasure. 
All right, then, it didn't matter who came, just so they left her 
a little money. In this way there was at least a saving on clothes 
and rouge: the kind of people who patronized her now could 
not expect that she be decked out in the latest styles. They 
could take their fun according to the pittance they paid: they 
should feel lucky enough that she was so young. 

Tiger Girl's body had already become not very convenient 
for her, so that even to go out to the street to buy something to 
eat was now a thing she sought to avoid. With Happy Boy away 
all day again, and Little Lucky One unwilling to come over to 
see her, she was as lonely as a dog chained in an empty house. 
The lonelier she got the deeper her hatred became: she felt that 
Little Lucky One's policy of making more sales at a cheaper 
: ': 294 ; ' ; 



price had been adopted on purpose to irritate her erstwhile 
friend. Tiger Girl was not going to take any loss of face like that, 
so she sat in the outer room, with the door open, and waited. 
Whenever anyone went into Little Lucky One's room. Tiger 
Girl would stretch her throat and make a lot of loud talk, to 
shame both the girl and her guest; when Little Lucky One's 
guests became fewer and fewer. Tiger Girl was in high spirits. 

Little Lucky One knew that if this went on for long, soon 
everyone in the compound would be echoing Tiger Girl, and 
they would run her out. She was only afraid: she did not dare to 
be angry. When a person falls to as low an estate as she had, 
they learn to place realities before either anger or tears. She led 
her two little brothers across the yard and knelt down in suppli- 
cation before Tiger Girl. Little Lucky One said nothing, but 
from her expression it was perfectly clear that if this was not a 
sufficient humiliation, then she had no fear at all of dying, but 
neither had the Tiger Girl any room to tliink of living. 

The most fearful and awesome sacrifice is the acceptance of 
shame, and the deepest shame will give birth to the bitterest 
resistance. 

This sudden reversal left Tiger Girl speechless. The thing 
had lost its flavor however you tasted of it, but with a stomach 
as swollen with pregnancy as hers was, she didn't dare risk a 
fight. Since she could not bring out a warlike answer, the next 
best thing was to provide herself with the stairway by which to 
leave the stage on which this anticlimax had caught her. Why, 
she was only jesting with Little Lucky One! Who could have 
thought that anyone could have taken this pretense for reality? 
Little Lucky One had too small an eye in her heart— she took 
things too seriously. With the whole thing explained away after 
this fashion, the two of them became good friends again, and 
once more Tiger Girl supported Little Lucky One in everything. 

From the day in mid-August when Happy Boy brought his 
rickshaw out again, he had become more careful of each move. 

2gs .. 



His two bouts of illness had made him understand that he was 
not built of iron. He had not altogether forgotten his ambition 
to make more money, but the repeated shocks he had absorbed 
had left him with a clearer perception of how feeble a thing is 
the strength of one man alone. There comes a time when the 
real man must grit his teeth and show what he’s made of, but 
for all the teeth-gritting he may soon enough be spitting blood. 
And even though Happy Boy’s dysentery was cured, from time 
to time he would be almost bent double by terrible cramps in 
his stomach. Sometimes, just as he had started to stretch his legs 
and was thinking of getting up a little speed, a horrible knot 
would tie itself up in his stomach, and he would have to slow 
down, or sometimes stop altogether and, with his head lowered 
and his stomach drawn in, force himself to bear the pain as best 
he could. When he was alone with only his own fare to consider, 
the matter could be handled vdthout too much difficulty, but 
when he was one of a group of rickshaw men whose fares were 
all in one party, and he suddenly came to an abrupt halt, it made 
everybody wonder what mysterious thing could be happening, 
and was almost unbearably chagrining for himself. Here he was 
still in his early twenties, and already becoming such a laughing- 
stock! What would he be like when he was thirty or forty? 
When he thought of it he would snort in disgust, and his body 
would come out in a cold sweat. 

From the standpoint of his own well-being, he longed greatly 
to go back to hiring himself out by the month. That would in 
any case be lighter work. At the same time he knew for a cer- 
tainty that Tiger Girl would absolutely refuse to let him out of 
her hand. Wlien you’re married your freedom is gone, and 
Tiger Girl was particularly fierce. He would just have to put up 
with it 

So it was that he passed the four or five months of fall and 
early winter, halfway making out, afraid on the one hand of be- 
ing reckless in the amount of work he did, and on the other of 

296 



being too lazy. His heart stifling from all the things that pressed 
down into his breast, he kept his head low and went about his 
bitter slavery in silence. His head was always down now: he no 
longer had the courage to dash about in reckless disregard of 
everything, as was once his wont. When it came to making 
money, he still earned somewhat more than most rickshaw men. 
Except when his stomach was paining him, he was never willing 
to pass up a fare; if he should haul a passenger, he hauled him. 
Nor had he from first to last picked up any of the evil practices 
of so many rickshaw men. He had never learned to deliberately 
demand an exhorbitant price from a passenger who might be 
ignorant of the proper fare, nor to stop halfway there and order 
his passenger to get out, nor even to sit waiting half the day for 
a really good paying passenger to come along. By his method he 
worked harder, but he earned a sure income every day. He was 
not looking for lucky breaks, and so was never in danger. 

Still the money that came in was too little. There was never 
any left over. It came into his left hand and went out from his 
right, and at the end of each day he was clean again. As for 
putting any money aside, the very thought was one he no longer 
dared think. He knew how to save, but Tiger Girl knew how to 
spend. Her '‘month"' was due to fall sometime early in the sec- 
ond moon of the new year, and from the beginning of winter 
the foetus had already begun to show its shape. More than tliat: 
Tiger Girl took a deliberate pleasure in sticking her stomach out 
even further to show off her own importance. Contemplating 
her own belly with such immense satisfaction, she was too in- 
dolent even to get down from her bed. The cooking of food and 
rice she turned over altogether to Little Lucky One. Naturally 
in return for this service she had to turn over to Little Lucky 
One and her small brothers the water in which vegetables had 
been cooked, and any left-over soup, for them to eat. This was 
a big waste. 

Outside of her regular meals. Tiger Girl also had to have 

■■ 297.; 



special collations. The bigger her belly got the more necessary 
she felt it to be that she eat all kind of tidbits; she could not let 
her appetite go wanting. Not only did she buy these incidentals 
from time to time for herself^ but she instructed Happy Boy to 
bring some home to her. However much he earned, she would 
spend it. Her demands rose and fell with his income. Happy 
Boy couldn't say anything. Wlien he was sick he had spent her 
money, and now it was only right that in his turn he should 
requite her; he could not do other than let her spend whatever 
he had. If Happy Boy tightened his fingers even a little she 
would immediately get ill. 

''Carrying a child/' she would say, "is a nine months' sickness. 
What do you understand?" And the words she spoke were true. 

By New Year's time she had thought up even more ways to 
spend money. She herself could not move from her nest, so it 
was necessary to send Little Lucky One out any number of 
times every day to buy things. Tiger Girl hated herself for not 
being able to go out, and at the same time she had such a tender 
love for herself that she was unwilling to go out. But not going 
was terribly boring, so that the only answer was to buy more 
things for her amusement and comfort. With every breath she 
made it clear that it was not for herself that she made these pur- 
chases: it was out of her feeling for Happy Boy. To him she 
would say : 

"You have worked hard all year, and you don't dare eat a 
mouthful of sweets at New Year's? You've never got back all 
your strength since you were sick, and if you won't eat at festival 
time, what are you waiting for? Until you are so starved that 
you're like a shrivelled-up bedbug?" 

It was not convenient for Happy Boy to enter into an alter- 
cation with her, nor was he able to do so. When the delicacy, 
whatever it happened to be, had been prepared, she would swal- 
low two or three large bowls of it. Nor would she take any exer- 
cise at all, and when she got frightfully swollen from too much 

298' ,, 



food she would clasp her stomach in her hands and swear she 
was suffering from an affection of pregnancy. 

After New Year's she would under no circumstances permit 
Happy Boy to be out at night. She did not know at what hour 
she might give births and she was afraid. It was only now that 
she gave thought to her real age^ and although she had never 
clearly told Happy Boy how old she was, she no longer tried to 
conceal the years between them by saying, 'I'm just a little 
older than you are." 

The continual clamor that Tiger Girl raised about first one 
thing and then another had Happy Boy in a state of complete 
confusion. It is only by bringing forth sons and daughters that 
human life prolongs itself; although it was not in the least neces- 
sary for them to have a child, still Happy Boy could not help 
the stealthy feeling of pride and happiness that was growing in 
his heart at the thought that that simplest and yet most mystic 
of words, "father," w^ould one day be applicable to his own per- 
son. It was enough to make any man, even if his heart were of 
iron, sit with closed eyes and think; the more he thought of that 
word, the more his heart would be moved by it. Happy Boy, 
with his heavy hands and heavy feet, could hardly think of any- 
thing about himself to be proud of; as soon as he thought of 
this rare and mystic word, he suddenly felt his own nobility and 
worth. It was as if the fact that he had nothing was no longer 
of importance. If only he had a child his life would not be 
empty. At the same time his only desire was to do his uttermost 
to serve Tiger Girl, to wait on her and make her comfortable. 
She no longer was just one person; granted that she was irri- 
tating and disagreeable, it still had to be admitted that in this 
particular matter she deserved one hundred per cent of the 
credit. 

But however great her merit, her capacity for brawling 
around was becoming almost unbearable. Every minute she had 
some new idea, and was forever making a confused hubbub 


299 



about seeing ghosts or devils. And through it all Happy Boy had 
to earn their living and he had to get rest. Accepting the fact 
that what money he could make would be spent foolishly^ he 
still had to get a full night’s sleep so as to be able to go out the 
next morning and begin another day of bitter labor. When she 
would neither let him go out to work after dark nor get a good 
night’s sleep at home, he was at his wit’s end. The whole day he 
would go about in a haze, with everything whirling around his 
eyes and not knowing what he should do next. Part of the time 
he was very pleased with himself; part of the time he was sick 
with anxiety; part of the time he Vv^as sad. Sometimes the feeling 
of pleasure would turn to shame, or from his sadness he would 
become unaccountably happy again; his emotions were so 
twisted in the tangled knot inside his heart that from the sim- 
plest and most direct person he had been worried into one who 
no longer knew the east from the west or the north from the 
south. It actually got so bad that once he carried a passenger 
past his destination, forgetting where the man had said he 
wanted to go! 

At about the time of the festival of the lanterns Tiger Girl 
decided to have Happy Boy go call a midwife; she could stand 
her pregnancy no longer. The midwife told her that the time 
had not yet come and explained the signs by which she would 
know when the hour to get close to the tub had arrived. Tiger 
Girl bore it for another two or three days, and then set up such 
a commotion again that once more they called the midwife. It 
was still not time. Tiger Girl wept and screamed and said she 
was going to find some way to die; she could not go on under 
this horrible affliction. Happy Boy had not the slightest idea 
what he should do, but to show that he was trying his very hard- 
est to help, he gave in to Tiger Girl’s wishes and temporarily 
stopped pulling his rickshaw so that he could be at hand all the 
time. 

This confusion continued right up to the end of the month, 

300 



when even Happy Boy could see that the time had now truly 
come. Tiger Girl no longer looked like a human being. The 
midwife came again, and hinted darkly to Happy Boy that she 
was afraid it was going to be a hard delivery. Because of Tiger 
GirFs age and the fact that this was her first child, that she had 
not taken any exercise, and that during her pregnancy she had 
loved to eat fatty things, the foetus had grown very large: these 
circumstances, all taken together, made it vain to hope tliat the 
birth would be a smooth and easy one. And, moreover, they had 
not once had a doctor and no effort had been made to correct 
the position of the child in the womb. She, the midwife, did 
not possess this skill, but there was this much she could say; 
it was to be feared tliat it would come out crosswise and be a 
fractious delivery. 

In the compound in which they lived the deaths of mothers 
in childbirth had always been almost as much a commonplace 
of conversation as were the births themselves. But Tiger Girl 
was in even greater danger than the others. Other women con- 
tinued right up to the day of their confinement to move about 
and do their work. Moreover, because they never had enough to 
eat, the child in their womb could never grow very large, so 
that it would be that much easier to dehver. The greatest danger 
to such a mother would come after the baby had been bom. It 
was directly the opposite with Tiger Girl: her advantages were 
her misfortune. 

Happy Boy, Little Lucky One, and the midwife stood watch 
over her for three days and three nights. Tiger Girl called on all 
the spirits that had achieved Buddhahood, and made countless 
vows in propitiation of them, but all in vain. Finally her voice 
grew so hoarse she could hardly speak, and all she could whisper 
were the agonized words, ''Ma-ahl Ma-ahF^ There was notliing 
tliat the midwife could do, nothing that any of them could do. 
Then Tiger Girl herself managed to suggest that Happy Boy 
go outside the Gate of Victorious Virtue and invite Second 

. . . ■ ,30i., ; 



Grandmother Cli'en to secure the intercession of the mystic 
genius of the Immortal Toad. Since without five dollars Second 
Grandmother Ch’en would not come, Tiger Girl brought out 
her last seven or eight dollars. 

''Good Happy Boy, my Happy Boy, go as quickly as you can! 
Spending the money is of no importance. Wait till Fm well 
again, and every day Fll love you. Go quicklyl'' 

Second Grandmother brought with her a "young lad"'— re- 
quired by the rites to be a child innocent of life's experiences — 
who was in fact a great robust yellow-faced son of Han a little 
less than forty years old. It was almost time for the lighting of 
lamps when they finally arrived. Second Grandmother herself 
was in her late forties. She wore a blue pongee jacket and a big 
red sandstone pomegranate flower in her hair, with a full outfit 
of gold-plated rings on her fingers and bracelets on her arms. 
Her eyes glittering like a magician's, she first washed her hands, 
set up a row of upright incense sticks on the table, lighted them, 
and knelt down, knocking her head on the floor before them. 
Then she sat down behind the table staring stupidly at the 
burning tips of the incense. Suddenly her whole body began to 
jerk and shiver as if in convulsion. She hung her head, closed 
her eyes, and gradually subsided, not moving at all for a long 
time. Even Tiger Girl gritted her teeth and made no sound: you 
could have heard the noise of a falling needle. 

Slowly Second Grandmother Ch'en lifted up her head and 
nodded to the assembled company. The "young lad" tugged at 
Happy Boy's sleeve, telling him to kotow quickly. Happy Boy 
did not know whether he believed in spirits or not, but he felt 
fairly sure that knocking his head on the ground could do no- 
body any harm. In his befuddlement he bumped his head on 
tlie floor he didn't know how many times. When he stood up 
again and saw the glittering eyes of the sorceress, the bright of 
the still burning stubs of the incense sticks, and smelled the 
curious odor of their smoke, his heart filled with a vague hope 
302 



that this whole act might bring some good result. He stood 
staring dully before him, the palms of his hands wet with per- 
spiration. 

With a full throat and booming sound, and not without 
condescension, the Immortal Toad began to speak. ''No — no— 
no— -no matter! Write out a charm— a charm— a charm for 
hastening childbirthr' 

With the greatest agility the "young lad"' brought forth a 
scroll of silken paper. The Immortal scratched about in the 
ashes of the incense sticks, and then, wetting one with her 
spittle, began to write on the scroll. When the charm was writ- 
ten, the Spirit spoke again through many a silly grin and gri- 
mace on the face of the medium. The general purport of these 
oracles was that in a previous existence Tiger Girl had incurred 
a debt to this child, and in payment she must suffer this afflic- 
tion now. Happy Boy, at his wit's end, beating his own head, 
could understand little of it all, but was frightened by it. 

Second Grandmother Ch'en yawned a big long yawn, and 
after sitting a while longer with her eyes closed, suddenly 
opened them, as though she were awakening from a vivid dream. 
The "young lad" hurriedly reported to her the sayings of the 
Immortal. She seemed to be delighted. "Today the Immortal 
is truly in fine spirits. He has taken to talking!" Afterwards she 
showed Happy Boy how to get Tiger Girl to swallow the charm, 
giving her a pill which she took at the same time. 

Enthusiastically Grandmother Gh'en awaited the results of 
the charm, and she required that her dinner be prepared while 
she watched. These instructions Happy Boy transmitted to 
Little Lucky One, who went out and bought sesame sauce, 
meat cakes, and salt twists; Grandmother Ch'en complained, 
for all that, because there was no wine. 

After Tiger Girl had eaten the charm, and Second Grand- 
mother and the ''y^ung lad" had had their dinner, the patient 
still twisted and rolled in her pain. When it had continued un- 



relieved for another hour, the pupils of Tiger GirFs eyes were 
already slowly turning upward. Grandmother Ch'en had an- 
other plan: without haste or excitement she asked Happy Boy 
to light another stick of incense and kneel down before it. 
Happy Boy had already lost the greater part of his faith in this 
woman, but since he had already spent the five dollars, he 
thought it best to try out all her schemes with the best good 
will he could muster. There was still one chance in ten thousand 
that they might have some effect. 

With his back stiff and straight he knelt before the tall in- 
cense stick. He did not know what spirit it was whose help he 
was beseeching, but he knew his heart must be sincere and de- 
vout. Watching the dancing flame on the tip of the incense, he 
pretended that in its red embers he could see the form and 
shadow of some spiritual thing, and in his heart he prayed to it. 
The longer the incense burned the shorter the stick got, until 
it seemed that embers were turning to ash. His head dropped 

304 



down to his chest, he put his hands on the floor, and, through 
the haze, sleep came to him. It was already two or three days 
since he had been to bed. Dozing, his head suddenly went for- 
ward, and he awoke with a start. Glancing at the incense, he 
saw that it was burned out. Without waiting to know if it was 
properly time to do so or not, he stood slowly up on his legs 
that had grown a little numb. 

Second Grandmother Ch'en and her 'young lad'' had al- 
ready stolen away. 

Happy Boy did not have time to hate her. He went at once 
to Tiger Girl, knowing that things had reached the worst pos- 
sible point. She had left to her now only that last mouthful of 
mortal breath that goes out when life goes out: she could no 
longer speak. The midwife told him that he must find some 
means to get her to a hospital, that her skill was of no avail. 

Suddenly Happy Boy's heart split within him, and he 
opened his mouth and began to sob. Little Lucky One wept 
too, but because it was her duty to help she kept her mind 
clearer than his. "Elder brother! You must not cry. Shall I go 
to the hospital and ask?" 

Without regarding whether Happy Boy had heard her, she 
wiped away her tears and ran out. 

An hour passed before she came running back again, panting 
so hard that the words would not come out of her mouth. She 
held on to the table, her lips dry, until finally she could speak. 
To get the doctor to come one time, you had first to pay him ten 
dollars, and that was only to look at the patient, and did not 
cover receiving the newborn. That was twenty dollars more. If 
the birth was difficult, you had to go to the hospital, and that 
would be several more tens of dollars. 

"Elder brother, what shall we do?" 

There was nothing that Happy Boy could do. Where could 
he get all that money so late at night? The only thing left was 
to wait; they who were fated to die would fust have to die. 

", 305 ■ , 



Stupidity and the crudest avarice in themselves and the 
order of their world had brought them here, and now left them 
no way to leave. 

At midnight Tiger Girl bore a dead child and stopped 
breathing. 



APPY BOY sold his ricicshawl 
V Nor could his hand close over the money as it slipped 
through his fingers. There was no getting around the fact that 
Tiger GirFs body had to be carted out, and it cost money even 
to get a death certificate to paste on the front end of the coffin. 

Happy Boy watched dumbly while everyone scurried back 
and forth in front of him: all that he was good for was to shell 
out money. His eyes were so red they were frightful, with sticky 
yellow pus oozing from their corners; his ears heard nothing; in 
a numb, uncomprehending way he followed the milling con- 
fusion of the others, with no idea what they were doing or how 
he came to be there. 

It was only when he had followed Tiger GirFs coffin out 
beyond the walls of the city that the outline of things became 
a little clearer to him, but he still could not bring himself to 
try to think about them. There was no one to accompany the 
body to the grave except Happy Boy and the two small brothers 
of Little Lucky One. Each of the boys carried in his hand a thin 
little packet of imitation paper money which they scattered by 
the wayside to bribe the devils who would otherwise block the 
road against the spirits of the dead. 

306 



With the same numbness Happy Boy watched the bearers 
lower the cofhn into the grave: he did not cry. A fire of con- 
suming fury smouldered in his breash and its heat had dried up 
all tears; he could not have wept had he wanted to. Stupidly 
he watched, hardly knowing what it was they were doing. Only 
when the head bearer came over to look after him did he realize 
that everything was over and it was time for him to go home. 

Little Lucky One had already put the room in order. When 
he got back he fust flopped down on the brick bed, so tired he 
couldn't move. His eyes were too hot and dry for him to close 
them, and he lay there staring dully at the big stains that leaking 
rainwater had made in the paper on the ceiling. Because he 
couldn't sleep, he finally sat up, not knowing what to do with 
himself. Then he went out and bought a package of cigarettes, 
and sat on the edge of the bed smoking, afraid to look around 
him at the room. But he didn't want to smoke, and held the 
cigarette away, watching the blue smoke curl up from its tip. 

Suddenly the tears came, first like beads on a string, and then 
in one long flood. It was not only of Tiger Girl and his dead 
child that he was thinking, but of all the rest besides. These 
years since he had come to the city— this, no more than this, was 
what all his hard work had brought him tol So deep was the 
pain that even his sobbing was soundless. His rickshaw — his rick- 
shaw— it was his own rice bowll And he had bought it, and 
lost it, and bought another, and sold it: three times he had 
reached upward and three times been thrown back to the earth. 
The thing he wanted was like an apparition of the dead: he 
could reach out and grasp it but his hand closed over nothing, 
and it was for that emptiness that he had suffered all his wrongs 
and all his bitter labor. He had nothing, nothing — not even his 
old woman. For all that Tiger Girl had been sharp and mean, 
still without her how could he have a home? If you looked at the 
things in the room— they were all hers, but she herself was 
buried in a grave outside the walls of the city. 


307 




And his son had been bom dead. 

The more he thought of it the more cruel and horrible it 
seemed. The flame of his rage dried the tears again^ and in bitter 
anger he puffed at his cigarette. The more he disliked smoking, 
the harder he smoked. When the cigarettes were all gone he put 
his head in his hands, his mouth and his heart dry and puckered 
with bitterness. If he could only shriek in his madness, spitting 
out all the blood in his heart, he might then be for a while in 
peace. 

He did not know when it was that Little Lucky One came 
into his quarters to stand before the kitchen table in the outer 
room watching him open-eyed. 

When suddenly he lifted his head and saw her, the tears 
poured out in a torrent again. Just then he would have wept if it 
had only been a dog that he had seen. His whole heartful of 
wrong and misery spilled out at meeting another living being 
that knew suffering too. He wanted to tell her all about it and to 
have her sympathy, but the words were too many and he could 
not even open his mouth. 

3ofl 


She stepped forward toward him. 

''Elder Brother/' she said, '1 straightened everything up." 

He nodded his head, but could not thank her: for those in 
grief, the conventional forms of politeness are meaningless. 

"What do you figure on doing, Elder Brother?" 

"Eh?" It was as if he had not understood, but when the words 
entered his consciousness he shook his head. He could not bring 
himself to make any plans. 

She walked a couple of more steps forward, her face suddenly 
suffused with color and her white teeth showing, but she could 
not speak. The way she made her living had made it impossible 
for her not to forget any sense of shame, but when it came to a 
matter touching the deeper proprieties she was still a sincere and 
true-hearted woman. "I think . . ." She could get only that 
little bit out. The words in her heart were many indeed, but 
when her face flushed they all suddenly fled from her and she 
could not think of them again. 

The truth which people have to communicate to one an- 
otlier is little enough to begin with, and the blush on a woman's 
face sometimes says more than a long speech: even Happy Boy 
understood the idea in her mind. In his eyes she was one of the 
most beautiful of women, with a beauty that was in her very 
bones. Even if her whole body had been covered with sores, 
and her flesh was rotten with them, in his heart she would still 
be very beautiful. She was beautiful, she was young, she was 
diligent and frugal. If he was thinking of marrying again, she 
was an ideal person. He had most definitely not thought of 
taking another wife right away, and he was loath to put his 
mind to any question like that. But since she was already willing, 
and the pressure of her situation had forced her to bring it up 
without delay, it seemed to him that he could not possibly 
reject her. She was such a fine person in her own self, and she 
had helped him so much, that he could only nod his assent. 
What he really wanted to do was to take her in his arms and 

309 



put his head down on her breast and weep until all his wrongs 
had been washed clean by his tears. Afterwards they could go on 
together, working with all their energy and with a single heart, 
however bitter the road might be. It seemed to him that her 
person held all of that comfort and consolation that a woman 
should bring her man. His mouth was slow to speech, but when 
he saw her he felt like talking freely because, with her to listen, 
nothing that he said would be wasted; her nod or her smile 
would be the most beautifully sufficient of any reply that he 
could ever receive, and he would know then what it really meant 
to have a home. 

Just at this moment Little Lucky One's second brother came 
running in. ''Sister, sister, papa's coming!" 

She frowned. Hardly had she opened the door when Second 
Vigorous appeared. 

"What are you doing going into Happy Boy's room?" The old 
man teetered on his wobbling legs and glared at her. "Haven't 
you sold yourself enough times? Do you still have to give it away 
free to Happy Boy? You cheap, filthy thing!" 

Hearing his own name. Happy Boy came quickly out and 
stood behind Little Lucky One. 

"I say, Happy Boy." Second Vigorous wavered uncertainly, 
trying to throw his chest out in a gesture of great dignity, al- 
though he was hardly able even to keep his feet. "I say. Happy 
Boy, do you still pretend you're a man? Who do you think 
you're getting something for nothing from now? What kind 
of cheap play do you call this? Who else do you think you can 
take advantage of?" 

Happy Boy was unwilling to mistreat the poor drunken devil, 
but his pent-up grief left him incapable of controlling his anger. 
He stepped forward, and eyes that were red and swollen from 
weeping glared into eyes that were red and swollen from drink. 
It was as if their stares would strike fire in crossing. Happy Boy 
gripped the old man by the shoulders, and as if they were play- 

310' .■ 


ing a children's game gave him a quick shove^ pushing him a 
long way off. 

Second Vigorous tumbled backward, ending in a sitting 
posture in the middle of the courtyard, in a position which sug- 
gested none of the severe dignity that he had meant should 
attend his highly moral reproof of Happy Boy. His drunkenness 
had been at least in part put on, and his fall made him almost 
sober. He would have liked to counterattack, but he knew 
clearly that he was not Happy Boy's match. To just go quietly 
away now, like a whipped dog, would be ten parts of the wrong 
flavor. He was therefore unwilling to get to his feet, although 
at the same time he realized that he could not conveniently go 
on sitting there indefinitely. With his heart in such complete 
confusion, all he could do was to let his mouth run on un- 
restrained. 

'What business is it of yours if I correct my own children? 
You strike me? Your mother's! You'll have to pay for it!" 

Happy Boy had no desire to reply; he was quietly waiting for 
the fellow to get up and fight. 

Little Lucky One tried to keep back her tears, hardly know- 
ing what to do with herself. It would be useless to try to pacify 
her father, and yet she could not stand by tranquilly and watch 
Happy Boy beat him. Frantically she felt in all her pockets, 
finally managing to scrape together some ten copper pieces, and 
gave them to her brother. Ordinarily the little boy would never 
have dared to go near his papa, but today, seeing that the old 
man had been knocked down, his courage was a little greater. 

'Take this and get out!" 

His eyes still glaring. Second Vigorous took the money, and, 
struggling to his feet, muttered the while: "I offended the Lord 
of Heaven when I loosed you brats from the stomach of a slave 
girl. Your mother's! One of these days I'll get a knife and cut 
your throats like pigs." Making for the street door of the com- 
pound as fast as he could, he yelled over his shoulder, "Happy 



Boy^ well put this by for another time. Well meet outside and 
settle it/' 

When Second Vigorous had gone, Little Lucky One and 
Happy Boy went back to the room together. 

'There's nothing I can dol” The girl spoke as if to herself, 
expressing in that one sentence the whole burden of her despair 
and at the same time conveying something of the one hope that 
she now had: if Happy Boy would take her as his wife, there 
would be things that she could do. 

But having gone through this scene. Happy Boy could now 
see many dark shadows behind the slender person of Little 
Lucky One. He was still fond of her, but he was unequal to the 
responsibility which die support of two little brothers and a 
drunken father involved. He did not dare to think that now, 
just because Tiger Girl was dead, he was free to do anything he 
pleased: Tiger Girl had Tiger Girl's good points; at the very 
least she had helped him a great deal when it came to money. 
Nor did he think for a moment that Little Lucky One would 
deliberately eat even a single mouthful of his food without 
making her full contribution in return, but it was still an abso- 
lutely certain fact that her whole household was incapable of 
earning even one red penny. 

Love or no love, the poor have only one way of deciding any 
issue that confronts them, and that is on the basis of dollars and 
cents, on the possession or the lack of pitifully small amounts of 
the currency affording the means by which tlie rich exploit 
them and destroy their lives. Only in the homes of the very 
wealthy can the seeds of passion grow to their full flower. 

He began collecting his things. 

, "Are you going to move?" Little Lucky One's lips were ashen- 
white. 

'Tm moving!" He made his heart hard: in a world so cruel 
in its injustice, the poor can only maintain the terribly limited 
freedom that is still theirs by learning to be cruel themselves. 

312 ' ■ 



She looked at him just once, and then went out, her head 
down. She did not hate him, she was not angry, she did not nag. 
Only the hope in her heart was broken. 

Tiger GirFs head ornaments and her better clothing she had 
worn with her to the grave. What was left was nothing more 
than a pile of old and worn-out garments, a few wooden utensils, 
and a collection of dishes, bowls, pots, ladles, and what not. 
Happy Boy selected a few of the dresses that were a little better 
tlian the others and put them to one side; the rest of the things 
he lumped together and sold. He called a ''drum beatef' in and 
turned it all over to him for the first offer that was made to him 
— sometliing over ten dollars. He was in a hurry to move, in a 
hurry to be rid of all this junk, so he had no mind to call in 
one man after another and gradually force up the price. When 
the "drum beater’' had carried the stuff away, there was nothing 
left in the place except his own bedding roll and the few frocks 
he had held back, lying on the brick bed now shorn of its cover 
of straw matting. With the room so completely empty he felt 
easier, as if he had freed himself from a whole tangle of ropes 
that had bound him down. Now he could take long strides and 
go great distances, or even take wings and fly high into the 
heavens if he chose. 

In a little while he began to think of the things again. The 
table was gone, but around the spots on the floor where its 
square legs had rested there were collected tiny little four-walled 
embankments of fine dust, like the square towers at the corners 
of the bastions of a city. Looking at these traces in the dust of 
things that had been, he thought also of the person who had 
lived among them: like a dream she had gone. It did not matter 
whether the things were good or bad, or even whether the per- 
son was good or bad. Without them there was no place any- 
where that his heart could be at rest. Sitting on the side of the 
brick bed, he pulled out another cigarette. 

With it a ten-cent piece came out of his pocket, and without 

'■ 313 ' 



thinking he began to search through his clothes to fish out what- 
ever money he had on his person. In these last few days he 
hadn't got around to casting up his accounts. When it was all 
out— the silver dollars^ the ten-cent notes, the copper notes, 
the copper pieces, some of every kind— he piled it all in one 
pile and counted it. There wasn't quite twenty dollars. Adding 
to that the ten dollars that he had got from selling the things, 
his entire financial resources came to only a little over thirty 
dollars. 

He put the money on the edge of the brick bed and sat 
staring at it, not knowing wheitlier to cry or to laugh. The room 
was empty both of people and things, and all he had left of his 
life in it was this pile of dirty, filthy, poisonous money. How 
could you explain that? 

Sighing, he took the only course open to him: he put the 
money in his vest, collected the dresses and his bedding roll, 
and went to find Little Lucky One. 

''You keep these few dresses and wear them. I'll leave my 
bedding roll in your keeping for a while, until I've found a 
rickshaw shed, when I'll come back for it." He did not dare look 
at Little Lucky One, and blurted out these few words all in 
one breath. 

She made some little sound that meant assent, but said 
nothing more. 

When Happy Boy had located a rickshaw shed where he 
could stay, he came back for his bedding. Little Lucky One's 
eyes were swollen with crying. He was incapable of saying any- 
thing, but by exhausting every resource he had for articulate 
expression he managed to get out this one sentence: 

"Wait— wait for me until I've got started again, and then I'll 
come for you— I'll certainly come!" 

She nodded her head, saying nothing. 

Happy Boy only rested for one day, and then began pulling 
a rickshaw as before. His heart did not burn as it had before 

314 



to get passengers, but still he never purposely loafed on the job. 
Thus without great enthusiasm and yet without distaste he 
passed one day after another, until soon another month was 
gone. His heart felt tranquil and at peace; his face filled out a 
little, although it did not regain its old full roundness. Nor was 
his complexion flushed and red as it had been; it had become a 
sallow yellow, not seeming healthy, but at the same time not 
revealing any signs of wasting away. His eyes now were always 
bright, without showing either emotion or sympathy: it was as 
if they were forever alight with energy but never saw anything. 
His whole spirit and expression was like that of a tree that has 
survived a violent tempest and now stands very quietly stretch- 
ing its boughs in the sun, afraid to move again. In the past he 
had not enjoyed talking; now he liked even less to open his 
mouth. The days were turning very w^arm again, the willow trees 
covered once more with their leaves, and sometimes he would 
put down the shafts of his rickshaw in a place facing the sun- 
light and sit there with his head on his chest, his lips moving 
ever so slightly in the language he muttered to himself. Then 
perhaps he would throw his head back so the sun fell on his face, 
and doze for a while. Except when he was absolutely obliged to 
open his mouth, he simply never passed a word with anyone. 

Cigarettes, though— that was a habit he had long since 
firmly accquired. Whenever he sat down between the shafts 
of his rickshaw, his hands would automatically begin feeling 
under the matting of the footrest where he kept his cigarettes. 
Wlien he had lighted one, he would draw in the smoke and 
exhale it again ever so slowly, moodily watching each puff as it 
drifted tardily upward and away. Then he would nod his head, 
as if that eventual dissipation of the smoke in the air bore for 
him some special message, told him something of the inevitable 
course of life that he too had already learned, made a statement 
of truth that he could subscribe to. 

Wlien he picked up the rickshaw shafts, he was still a more 

'■ ' 3 ^ 5 " 



expert runner than most, but no longer would he put his whole 
life into running. In turning corners or going up and down 
inclines he was especially careful, perhaps even too careful. And 
suppose another puller wanted to race with him: no matter how 
much he was teased, or what the other did to arouse him, he 
would keep his head down and not emit a sound, keeping right 
on at the same pace that he had been running before, neither 
slower nor faster. It was as if he had seen through this whole 
business of pulling a rickshaw, and had no more illusions about 
it, and no more thought to wrest from it whatever small honor 
or praise it might bring. 

In the shed, though, he undertook to make friends. For all 
he did not like to talk, tlie silent eagle was still happy to fly with 
the flock. If now he had not made a few friends, his loneliness 
would have been unbearable. Whenever his packet of cigarettes 
came out of his pocket, it made the circle of the group, was 
offered to each in turn. Sometimes when the others saw that 
perhaps he had only one left, and were embarrassed on that ac- 
count to reach out their hands, he would say, very simply, 'I'm 
going to buy more." 

And on occasions when the crowd was gambling, he no 
longer— as was once his wont — held himself aloof, but came 
over to have a look and once in a while he would pick a number 
and place a bet of his own, not caring at all whether he won or 
lost, but just to show the crowd that he was one of them, what- 
ever they did, and that he understood full well that after you 
had fagged yourself out with days of toil you owed it to your- 
self to be happy and carefree for once. 

Wlien they drank, he drank with them; not much, but he 
himself would put up the money to buy another round of drinks 
and some meat balls for the crowd. The things which earlier he 
had looked down on, he now felt were diverting. Since he had 
found his own road blocked against him, he could not but 
admit that the others had been right. Whenever among his 

316 


friends there was one in whose family there was a wedding or 
a funeral, he — who had once not known what it meant to carry 
out one's social obligations—now put out his forty coppers or 
whatever his share might be. And not only did he give money, 
he went himself to sacrifice to the dead or to offer appropriate 
felicitations, because he understood that this was not a matter 
of wasting money but rather of fulfilling the obligations in- 
herent in human relationships. On these occasions people were 
really weeping or honestly smiling: they were not just raising a 
hullabaloo for the sheer devilment of it. 

The thirty dollars, though, he did not dare to touch. He got 
a piece of white cloth, and with his clumsy fingers and a big 
needle he sewed the money up inside it and hung the sack in a 
secret nearby place. He didn't want to spend it, nor did he think 
any more of adding to it until he could buy another rickshaw. 
He only wanted to keep it close by, as a kind of preparedness— 
who knew what calamities and misfortunes the future might 
bring! Sickness, some unexpected accident, anything— it all 
might come upon his own person at any time. Certainly he 
should have some preparation. Man was not made of iron: that 
much he now thoroughly understood. 



It was close again to the Beginning of Autumn when once 
more he found himself a job by the month. This time it was an 
easier job than he had ever had before in a private household; if 
that had hot been the case, he would not have accepted it. He 
knew now how to pick and choose among the places open to 

' 3^7 



him; his heart was no longer on fire to work in private families; 
if the job wasn't suitable, there wasn't anything wrong with 
working for hire on the public highways. He understood that his 
own health was precious; a rickshaw puller who tried to work 
himself to death, as he had used to do, would only end by killing 
himself without getting any benefit whatever out of it. Experi- 
ence taught a fellow that he should be a little sly and cunning 
about things — you only had one life! 

This time the house where he worked was near the Palace of 
Harmony. The master was named Hsia; he was over fifty, a man 
who knew the books and understood the proprieties; at home he 
had a wife and twelve children. Very recently he had taken a 
second wife, and, not daring to let his family know about it, had 
especially selected a secluded spot in which to set up a small 
household. In it there was just himself and his new wife, with 
a maidservant and rickshaw man— the latter being Happy Boy. 

Happy Boy liked this job very much. First there was the 
compound. There were only six rooms altogether. The Hsias 
occupied three, the kitchen one, and the other two were serv- 
ants' quarters. The yard was very small, with a little date tree 
growing against the south wall. In its branches were some ten 
half-ripe fruits. When Happy Boy swept the yard, it seemed 
that it only took three swipes of the broom to get from one end 
of it to the other: it was wonderfully easy. There were no 
flowers or grasses to water, and although he was strongly 
tempted to lavish a little labor on straightening up the date tree, 
he bethought himself that it was of a species that just naturally 
grew crooked and resisted all correction, so he left it alone. 

Of other work there was also very little. In the morning Mr. 
Hsia went to his office to carry on his official labors, and did 
not come back until five in the evening. All Happy Boy had to 
do was to take him there and bring him back; when he got back 
home, he would not go out again. It was almost as if he were 
a refugee hiding from the police. Mrs. Hsia, on the other hand, 
318 



went out all the time^ but around four o'clock in the afternoon 
she would be sure to come back so as to let Happy Boy go pick 
up Mr. Hsia. When he had brought the old man homCy his 
day's work could be counted as done. Moreover, Mrs. Hsia 
seldom went anywhere but to the Market of Eastern Peace, or 
the Public Garden of Middle Mountain, and when he had got 
her there, he still had long periods of rest. A job like this was 
play for Happy Boy. 

Mr. Hsia was very tightfisted; he would not lightly let go of 
a single copper. Coming to and from his work he would look to 
neither side of him, as if the streets were empty of both people 
and things. 

The wife was just the opposite: her hand was lax. Every two 
or three days she had to go out to buy things; if it was food, 
the things that she didn't like she'd give to the servants; if it was 
some article or other, when she went out the next time to buy 
a new one, she'd give the old one to the servants, so that when 
she asked Mr. PIsia for the money for it she could say with truth 
that she didn't have one. It was as if Mr. Hsia's whole destiny 
were to wear himself out making ofEcial bows at the yamen and 
to spend the rest of his energy and all of his money in respectful 
offerings to his concubine. Beyond these two he had no liveli- 
hood and no enjoyment. According to reports, his original wife 
and the twelve children lived in Paoting, and would sometimes 
go for four or five months without receiving a single copper 
from him. 

Plappy Boy despised this Mr. Hsia: his back bent over and 
head drawn down so that you couldn't see his neck, going in 
and out like that the whole livelong day, for all the world like 
some petty thief, his eyes fixed on the toes of his shoes, never 
saying anything, never spending any money, never smiling, and 
looking, even when he sat in the rickshaw, like an emaciated 
monkey. If by some chance he should suddenly say two whole 
sentences together, it would be bound to be something nasty, 

,.''■ 3 ^ 9 ',' 



something that would turn men's hearts against him. It seemed 
as if no matter who he was spealdng of or to, the other fellow 
was a scoundrel and he himself was a truly superior man who 
knew the books and understood the proprieties. Happy Boy had 
no use for that kind of a man, but he viewed his job as a job; as 
long as he got paid every month, why should he bother about 
anything else? Besides, the mistress was very open and easy to 
get on with; he was always being given sometlring extra to eat 
or to use; he'd just leave it at that, and consider that he was 
pulling a monkey who had no understanding of human feelings. 

So far as the mistress went. Happy Boy simply regarded her 
as a woman who was capable of presenting him with occasional 
extra money: he was far from being ten parts fond of her. She 
was much more beautiful than Little Lucky One, and the way 
she steeped herself in fragrant perfumes, and wrapped her body 
in satins and silk gauze, put her even further beyond any com- 
parison with Little Lucky One. But, in spite of the beauty of her 
features and the smartness of her appearance, for some reason 
which he could not name she made Happy Boy think of Tiger 
Girl. There was something about her body that was very much 
like Tiger Girl's. It was not her clothes and it was not her looks, 
but some similarity in the manner and spirit of her movements: 
Happy Boy could find no proper word to describe it. He was 
certain that she and Tiger Girl were — to use the only expression 
he had for it— the same line of goods. She was very young — 
twenty-two or twenty-three years old at the very most— but she 
had the air and bearing of an old hand at the game. Never in 
the world did she seem like a newly-married girl who has just 
left her own family, but rather she appeared, exactly as had 
Tiger Girl, to be a person who could not have known the time 
when she had been a modest and bashful maiden. She curled her 
hair, she wore high-heeled shoes,, and her tight-fitting clothes 
helped bring out every outline of her body with each move she 
made. 


320 


Even Happy Boy could see that, for all the stylishness with 
which she decked herself out, hers was not the spirit which 
marks the ordinary wife. Still, she did not seem to have come 
from a singing-girFs background. Happy Boy could not figure 
out what she was all about; he only knew that you had to fear 
her, as of old he had had to fear Tiger Girl. But Tiger Girl had 
not had this girFs youth; nor had she had a tenth of her attrac- 
tiveness; for these reasons Happy Boy was even more afraid. It 
was as if she bore in her own person all of the peril and the 
vicious poison that could be imagined in the body of a vicious 
woman. It w^as a simple fact that he did not dare to look straight 
at her. 

After he had been on the job for a few weeks, his fear of the 
woman mounted even higher as a result of his observations of 
his new master's behavior. Pulling Mr. Hsia about. Happy Boy 
had never seen the old man spend much money, but there was 
one thing that he bought very regularly, and that was a special 
kind of medicine from the local drug shop. Happy Boy did not 
know what kind of medicine it was, but each time after he 
brought his master back from the drug shop he noticed that Mr. 
and Mrs. Hsia would seem to take great joy in each other for 
the next two or three days, and Mr. Hsia, who ordinarily 
couldn't draw as much as a big breath, would act as if he were 
especially full of energy. In another two or three days he would 
be breathless again and his back would be even more bent. It 
was like buying a big fish on the street: when first you put it in 
a pail of water, it flashes and flicks about with energy and joy, 
and then in a little while it grows quiet again. Wlienever he saw 
Mr. Hsia sitting in his rickshaw as limp as a dead fish, he knew 
that it had come time again to visit the drug shop. He didn't 
care for old man Hsia, but each time they made the dmg-shop 
trip he could not help feeling sorry for the shrivelled-up old 
monkey. And when they got back to the house with Mr. Hsia 
hugging his packet of drugs. Happy Boy would think of Tiger 

■3.21" ■ 



Giil^ his heart ill with a sickness that he could not describe. He 
had no wish to hate the spirit of the dead, but, looking at him- 
self and at old man Hsia, he would be swept with a feeling of 
deep hatred in spite of himself: whatever you said, his own body 
was nowhere near as vigorous as it had been, and the greater part 
of the responsibility for that circumstance rested on the person 
of Tiger Girl. 

He was strongly inclined to quit the job. But still, to quit for 
a thing like this, that did not adjoin the borderline of one’s 
proper functions, did not sound right. Taking out a cigarette, he 
asked himself a muttered question: 

*'Why should I always be minding somebody else’s business?” 


21 

r\ZL ECAUSE, at the time when the chrysanthemum flowers 
camc to market, Mrs. Hsia had bought four pots of them, 
and Yang Ma, the womanservant, had broken one of the pots, 
the mistress began abusing her. Yang Ma had come from the 
village, and began in the first instance with a conviction that 
grasses and flowers were not to be regarded as matters of impor- 
tance; however, since she had broken something belonging to 
another person, even if it were a thing without value, that 
certainly showed that she had been awkward and careless, where- 
fore she did not dare to make a sound. When it developed that 
Mrs. Hsia intended to keep right on bawling at her without ever 
stopping, and was cursing her in the same breath as a country 
bumpkin and an uncouth savage, Yang Ma could no longer 
press down the fire within her, and she answered back. A villager 
■ 322. 




who once gets excited can no longer speak in measured phrases; 
Yang Ma scraped the bottom and fished up the coarsest abuses. 
Mrs. Hsia hopped up and down in her vexation, handed the 
servant a new course in cursing and told her to roll up her 
bedding and wiggle her eggs out of there. 

From beginning to end Happy Boy had made no move to 
come forward to urge them to compose their differences. His 
tongue was no good at settling quarrels, and it was particularly 
inadequate to a situation in which the protagonists were women. 
And when the thing got to the point that he heard Yang Ma 
curse out Mrs. FIsia as a vile vagina that a thousand men had 
mounted and ten thousand had fingered, he realized that it was 
pretty certain that she would have to resign her job. It was 
definitely beginning to look that way. At the same time he could 
see that if Yang Ma was fired, he would have to be fired too: it 
did not seem likely that Mrs, FIsia would want to keep a servant 
who knew so much about her personal history. 

After Yang Ma had gone, he waited to be told that his 
services were no longer required; he calculated that when the 
new maidservant arrived the time would have come for him to 
roll up his bedding. But he did not fret himself with anxiety on 
this account: his experience had taught him to take a job or lose 
it with the same cool indifference; it was not worth while to let 
yourself be emotionally disturbed by it. 

Contrary to his expectations, however, after Yang Ma 
walked out, Mrs. Hsia was extraordinarily affable to Happy Boy. 
Since she no longer had a maidservant, she had to go down her- 
self to the kitchen to cook the meals. She gave Happy Boy 
money and asked him to go buy the vegetables. When he had 
brought them back, she instructed him as to what should be 
peeled and what should be washed. While he was peeling and 
washing the vegetables, she was chopping up the meat and boil- 
ing the rice, working away on the one hand and on the other 
hunting for words with which to engage him in conversation. 

'■'■323 '■ 



She wore a smock of pale-pink color, with light silken trousers 
under it, and on her feet were small white satin slippers embroi- 
dered in red, that made a quick little slap-slap noise as she 
walked back and forth. Happy Boy bent over his bench doing 
as best he could with his clumsy fingers the tasks that had been 
assigned to him; he did not dare 
look up. And yet he wanted very 
much to look; the fragrance of 
her perfume was always in his 
nostrils, as if it meant to tell him 
that he had to look at her 
whether he wanted to or not, 
enticing him as the scent of a 
beautiful flower entices the 
honey bee. 

Happy Boy knew how deadly 
a woman can be; he knew, too, 
what they have to give a man. 

A Tiger Girl would have been 
enough to teach any man how 
much women are to be feared, 
and at the same time to make it 
impossible for him to be with- 
out women. And how much 
more true these things were of a 
woman who was so far beyond 
comparison with Tiger Girl in 
every way. He stole a sidewise glance at her. Supposing it was 
true that she was as dangerous as Tiger Girl, she still was in 
several ways many more times as desirable to a man than Tiger 
Girl could ever have been. 

If this had happened two years previously, Happy Boy would 
never have dared look at her as he had a moment ago. Now he 
paid very little heed to such conventions. In the first place, he 

3H 




had already once been the victim of a woman's seduction, and 
he no longer had any means of controlling himself. In the 
second place, he had come by very gradual stages to fit into the 
groove of the average rickshaw man: what the other rickshaw 
men recognized as right, he too now felt to be right; since his 
own hard work and self-denial had brought him only to failure, 
it must then be that the behavior of the others which he had 
once thought beneath him was in fact in accord with the true 
principles of conduct. He therefore was determined to be a 
''rickshaw man" like other "rickshaw men," whether he felt like 
doing the things they did or not: you travel with the crowd or 
the road is closed to you. 

Now, as anybody who is poor and works hard can tell you, 
there's nothing wrong with getting something for nothing when- 
ever you can get away with it, which is not often. Wliy should 
Happy Boy see something cheap and pass it up? All right, he 
had looked at this woman. What of it? She was just a woman 
like the rest, and if she was willing, he had no way to refuse her. 
He could hardly believe that she could lower herself as much as 
that, but suppose by some remote chance that she did? If she 
made no move. Happy Boy would make no move; if she should 
move first, finding some way to make known her desire, he 
would not know what to do next. Had she not already given him 
some hint of her feelings? If not, why had she not hired another 
maid as soon as she had fired Yang Ma? Why had she chosen 
instead to have Happy Boy help her in the kitchen? Wliy had 
she sprinkled herself with so much perfume just to do the 
cooking? 

He did not dare to draw any conclusion from all this, nor 
to entertain any special hope, but the suspicion of a judgment 
had already formed in his mind, and in his heart the first glim- 
mer of desire had early been aroused. It was as if he were asleep 
and dreaming a beautiful but unreal dream; knowing all the 
time it was a dream, he still wanted to keep right on dreaming it, 

325 



and hoped against hope that he wouldn’t awake. There was a 
warm pressure in the life within him impelling him to confess 
to himself that he was worthless^ and in this acceptance of 
worthlessness to find a wonderful pleasure — or maybe it would 
only turn out to be a terrible trouble, who cared which? 

This faint whisper of desire aroused his courage a little, and 
a little courage set up a hot fire in his heart. How could it be 
cheapening at all for either of them? Neither of them would 
be lowering themselves: carnal passion was common to all 
mankind. 

Then a moment of fear awakened wisdom, and a brief reflec- 
tion dampened down the fire in his heart: he almost thought of 
skipping out of there as quickly as he could. Here there could 
only be trouble and suffering for him; if he followed this road 
he could only end by making a fool of himself. 

At one moment hot with hope, at the next shivering with 
fear. Happy Boy felt as if he had suddenly been taken down 
with the intermittent chills and fever of malaria. This was harder 
to get through than was the pass to which Tiger Girl had 
brought him; then he did not know anything, and was like a 
little bee that has ventured out for the first time and falls 
straightway into a spider’s web; now he understood how careful 
he ought to be, and at the same time he knew how to be bold. 
For some strange reason he wanted to keep slipping downward 
until he took the plunge, while in the very same instant he had 
the clearest and most vivid fear of falling in. 

He did not look lightly upon this second wife of another 
man, this unregistered prostitute, this woman of great beauty: 
she was everything and she was nothing. And even admitting 
that he would have some explaining to do himself, he still felt 
that it was rather that old dried-up monkey of a Mr. Hsia who 
was to be despised— he ought to have some misfortune befall 
him! With a husband like him, nothing that she could do 
would be wrong. With a master like that, he, Happy Boy, could 

326 



do anything without its making any difference. His gall was 
growing larger. 

But she didn't show any sign of being aware whether he 
looked at her or not. She ate alone in the kitchen, and when she 
was through she called to him: 

''Go ahead and eat. But when you're finished you must wash 
the dishes. In the afternoon when you go to get Mr. Hsia, buy 
the vegetables for tonight's dinner first, so as to save going out 
again. Tomorrow is Sunday, the master will be home all day, and 
Fll go out and hunt for an amah. Do you know anyone that you 
could recommend? Amahs are certainly hard to find. All right, 
first you go eat, don't let the food get cold." 

She had spoken in a poised, dignified, and yet very natural 
way. Suddenly that pale-pink smock changed — in Happy Boy's 
eyes— to a hue more pallid and chaste. He felt a kind of disap- 
pointment, and then a mounting sense of chagrin. He saw 
clearly that he was not only a person who sought to better him- 
self, but he was a rascal as well. In a kind of stupor he managed 
to pile two bowls of rice into his mouth, and to eat a little of the 
cooked vegetables. Never had he felt more dispirited. When he 
had finished the dishes, he went back to his own room to sit 
down, smoking he did not know how many cigarettes one right 
after the other. 

In the afternoon when it came time to go get Mr. Hsia, he 
began — for some reason he couldn't have explained— to feel 
the greatest hatred for the old dried-up monkey. In all truth he 
thought of pulling the old man along right merrily, as fast as he 
could, and then just dropping the shafts and letting the aged 
tool roll out on the road and half kill himself. Only now did 
he understand a thing that had happened a long time before 
when he was the rickshaw man in the home of a wealthy family. 
The master's third concubine and his eldest son had some con- 
nection between them that was not very clear, and when the 
old master found out about it the young master came near to 

m 



poisoning his father. At the time Happy Boy had figured that 
the young master just didn't realize what he was doing; not until 
now did Happy Boy perceive how much the old man had 
deserved to die. 

But Happy Boy didn't have any desire at all to commit 
murder; he simply felt that old man Hsia was disgusting and 
hateful, but that he had no way of making him suffer for these 
qualities. Wlien the emaciated monkey got into the rickshaw, 
Happy Boy purposely jerked the shafts up and down a couple 
of times just to give him a good shaking up. But the old 
monkey didn't say a word, and Happy Boy felt as if somehow 
he had got the worst of it. He had never before done anything 
like that, and now that suddenly he had found himself doing it 
he could not forgive himself, however good his reason might 
have been. 

His regret gave him a feeling of indifference to the whole 
thing: why should he deliberately rob himself of his peace of 
mind? He was a rickshaw man — he would work hard and do his 
best for his master; what use was it thinking of other things? 

His heart became more tranquil, and he put out of his 
memory that brief drama that had come to no climax; if oc- 
casionally it recurred to his thoughts it was as something to be 
laughed at. 

The next day Mrs. Hsia went out to hunt for a womanserv- 
ant. When she had been away a while she came back with a 
trial maid. Happy Boy's heart gave up all hope, but, however he 
thought of the matter, it left a bad taste in his mouth. 

After the noon meal on Monday Mrs. Hsia dismissed the 
trial maid: she felt that the girl was too careless about keeping 
things clean. A little bit later she asked Happy Boy to go out 
and buy her a catty of chestnuts. 

When he had brought the catty of hot chestnuts back. 
Happy Boy stood outside of her door and called in to tell her. 

''Bring them in," she said from inside. 

328 



Happy Boy went in. She was just in the act of powdering her 
nose before the mirror, and had on again the delicate pink 
smock, but she had changed to pale green trousers under it. 
Seeing Happy Boy's entrance in her mirror, she turned about 
quickly and smiled at him. Suddenly in this smiling countenance 
he saw the face of Tiger Girl, a younger and much more 
beautiful Tiger Girl. He stood there like a piece of wood. His 
bravery, his hope, his fears, his carefulness, all were gone; the 
only thing that was left was a breath of steaming heat that was 
broiling his body, and that could swell up into a big thing or 
shrivel away into a very small one. When it wanted to go in he 
would go in, when it wanted to draw back he would draw back. 
He himself was already without any clear plan; all he could do 
was to go on almost out of habit, like a farmer who uncovers 
an old well and lowers the bucket down — down and up, up and 
down, with a motion as old as any ploughman knows. . . . 

On the evening of the following day he rolled up his 
bedding and went back to the rickshaw shed. 

A thing which formerly he had felt was the most to be feared 
and the most disgraceful he was presently divulging to the 
whole crowd, shamelessly, as if it were a joke: he could not 
urinate. 

Everyone competed with everyone else to tell him what 
medicine to buy, what doctor to go to. No one felt that it was 
anything to be ashamed of, and out of their sympathy for him 
they all tried to offer him helpful suggestions. Moreover, they 
took pleasure in recounting to him— their faces a little red as 
they spoke— their individual experiences in the acquisition of 
this manly ailment. Many of the youngsters among them had 
used money to purchase it; many of the more mature had picked 
it up for nothing; others— pullers who were working by the 
month— had had experiences differing rather in degree than 
kind from that of Happy Boy with his master's concubine. The 
rest, who might not themselves have enjoyed such liberties, had 

329 



all heard stories about their masters and mistresses that were 
well worth retelling. This little illness of Happy Boy's caused 
them all to open their hearts to him. 

He himself forgot his shame, and although he didn't feel 
that he had covered himself with any special glory, he suffered 
the sickness to run its course in the same calm mood with which 
he would have accepted the inconvenience of having caught 
a cold. At times when he had to take a twinge of pain, he felt 
some slight remorse, but after he had again been comfortable 
for a while, the memory of the pleasure of the experience 
would recur to his mind. On no account was he going to excite 
himself about the matter: he had already lived enough to know 
how little life is worth. What use could there be in worrying 
about it? 

A little bit of medicine here, a pet prescription there, and 
he had put out more than ten dollars, without really curing the 
root of his ailment. In this half-hearted, hazy way he finally 
counted himself well again, and stopped taking medicine. On 
dark rainy days, or at a turning of the seasons, the pain would 
come back to his joints and bones, and as a temporary expedient 
he would take some more medicine, or else grimly determine to 
face it out without doing anything about it. In neither case 
would he regard the matter as of any importance. Since life 
was already tlie ultimate in bitterness, what did his health count 
for? You had to see this thing clearly: even a fly in a cesspool 
takes his pleasure on occasion; why then should a fellow as big 
as he was feel sorry for doing the same thing? 

But when the illness had largely passed, it seemed to leave 
behind it an entirely different person. He was still as tall as ever, 
but the uprightness of spirit and expression was gone; in his 
bearing as well, he seemed intentionally to let his shoulders 
hunch forward, and his lips drop loosely, with a cigarette always 
hanging down from one corner of his mouth. Sometimes he 
would stick a half-burnt butt behind his ear, not because that 


330 


was a convenient place for it but for the particular purpose of 
putting on a tough act. He was still loath to talk very much; 
when he opened his mouth at all, though, he strained to use the 
hard smart slang of the street. Allowing that he couldn't get it 
off with any easy fluency, it was still, good or bad, an effort in the 
right direction. His heart had eased its grip, and his bearing and 
manner had exchanged their freshness for a dissolute look. 

Yet, compared to the typical rickshaw man, he could still 
not be counted as too bad. At moments when he sat down alone 
and thought of himself as he used to be, he still wanted to im- 
prove himself; he was not content to slip on downward in the 
way he was going. Even though ambition was a useless thing, he 
could not see how ruining himself was to be regarded as any- 
thing very high or bright. In these moods his mind would turn 
once more to the purchase of a rickshaw. Of his thirty-odd 
dollars he had spent more than ten to cure the sickness— he had 
cheated himself there! But he still had over twenty dollars to 
use as a start, and when you came right down to it he had more 
hope of getting somewhere than most of the others, who had to 
fire their cannon with neither powder nor ball. When he got to 
thinking about it, he wanted very much to throw away the un- 
smoked half of his packet of cigarettes, swear off smoking and 
liquor from that moment forward, grit his teeth and begin 
saving money. From the thought of the money his mind turned 
to buying the rickshaw, and when he thought of that he remem- 
bered Little Lucky One. It was a little hard to face her even in his 
imagination. First to last, he had not been back to see her since 
the day he left the compound, and he had not only not tried to 
better himself, but had covered his body with a foul disease. 

When his friends came along, he smoked with them as 
before, and drank a cup or two of wine whenever the op- 
portunity afforded, forgetting Little Lucky One clear and clean. 
In their company, he never took the lead to suggest what they 
should do. There was this to be said, however: he could hardly 



refuse to follow along with the others in whatever they wanted 
to do. With every day just another fourteen or sixteen hours 
of bitter labor, and with his whole stomach full of the gall of all 
the wrongs that had been done him, he had only one way of 
forgetting, even for a little while, and that was to talk and 
gossip and go out for a good time with others like himself. 

The pleasure that was right there in front of him barred from 
his view those lofty aspirations of an earlier period. What he 
liked was to be happy and gay for a little while and afterwards 
to sleep so soundly that the heavens would grow dark and the 
earth be lost in blackness. Who would not have liked to do the 
same, life being the pointless, bitter, hopeless thing that it is? 

Only the poisons of opium, wine, and women could put to 
sleep for even the passing moment the pain of the long syph 
sore that was living: it takes poison to cure poison. And on the 
morning of some day like other days the miasma of these poi- 
sons would at last reach his heart, and that would be all. Who 
did not know that that was true? And yet who had a better plan? 

The more unwilling he became to exert himself, the more 
sorry he felt for himself. Before, he had not been afraid of any- 
thing; now he was capable of finding ways to avoid undue 
exertion and to guard his personal ease. When it rained or the 
wind blew hard he would not bring out his rickshaw. If he felt 
any little ache or pain, he would lay off three days at a stretch. 
Self-pity made him self-seeking: he got so that he was unwilling 
to lend his friends as much as a single copper out of the little 
bit of money he still clung to. That he would save for his own 
use against the day of the wind or rain. Cigarettes or wine you 
could offer the others, but money you couldn't lend. 

He was more fastidiously pitiable than any of those around 
him. The more leisure he found for himself, the lazier he got; 
and the less he did, the more bored he became. It was therefore 
more and more frequently necessary to find pleasure in women 
and wine or in some tidbit of palatable food. 

'332 



Whenever the thought oceurred to him that he should not 
be squandering the hours of light and darkness in this way, his 
heart had forever ready a stock answer, a sentence cut deep in 
it by the slow chisel of experience: 

started out with plenty of ambition, and what good did it 
do me?^^ 

No person alive could refute the implications of that ques- 
tion, nor explain them away. Who was there, then, who could 
keep Happy Boy from going straight to hell? 



Q 1 HEN he had first come to Peking, the one hope that 
K[^PPy Boy had had in his heart was to pull a rickshaw, 
but now he was disgusted with rickshaw pulling, tie was 
beginning to think that he'd have to find a better way to get 
money, some scheme that would be easier than wrestling with 
a two-wheeled cart. Of course he could not hope to break off 
all connection with his present profession suddenly, but when- 
ever he could find some other means of making enough money 
to supply his three meals for that particular day, then for one 
day his hands would not touch the shafts of a rickshaw. 


The lazier his body got, the sharper his ears became: every 
idle rumor brought him rushing forward. Whether it was a 
protest parade of the citizenry, or a picket line presenting a 
petition, or whatever it might be, just so long as he got paid 
for his pains, he would take part in it. Twenty cents was good 
enough; thirty was so much the better: for either one, more or 

'. 333 ''' 



less^ he was perfectly content to tote a banner the whole day 
long, following the curious winding marches of the crowd. 

Happy Boy would have no tlieories as to what might be 
inscribed on the banner he was carrying, or for precisely what 
purpose all these people might be parading bach and forth, but 
he felt that in any case this was better than tugging a rickshaw. 
You didn't earn much money, but neither did you have to use 
much strength. He would follow along, holding aloft a light 
silken emblem, with his head down, a cigarette butt hanging 
from his lips, without uttering a sound, and with a smile on 
his face that was not a smile at all. 

At those moments when it was absolutely required of him 
that he let out two or three loud cheers for something or other, 
he was perfectly capable of opening his mouth wide, as if he 
were yelling louder than anyone, but without making the slight- 
est noise. He didn't want to take any chances on cheering him- 
self hoarse. 

In this, as in any other endeavor, he saw no reason to ex- 
haust himself: he had tried his hand at working really hard, 
and he knew how little reward it brought you. Occasionally 
while he was busy carrying signs and pretending to raise his 
voice for some cause about which he knew nothing, it hap- 
pened that the marchers met up with one kind of danger or 
another; when they did. Happy Boy was the first to take to his 
heels, and when he ran he ran fast. He could go on destroying 
his own life, but he wasn't going to make the smallest sacrifice 
for anybody else. Those who will labor only for themselves also 
know well the way to work their own destruction: this is the 
great paradox of individualism. 

One morning in late autumn, on a day when he had found 
no parades to join, Happy Boy was trailing his hired rickshaw 
listlessly along behind him through a street in the West City. 
A fare hailed him, a girl not much over twenty who wanted 
him to take her to Ch'inghua University. He could see from her 

334 



plain blue gown that she was a student, and probably not one 
who could afford to pay him more than the lowest rate. Since he 
no longer had any feeling that just because someone wanted 
to go to a particular place, he was obliged to take them there, 
and because the destination brought back to his mind that 
other trip so long ago when his first rickshaw was taken from 
him, he did not assent immediately but stood bargaining over 
the price. And in real truth he was too lazy to run all that dis- 
tance. 

The girl would not give up. Looking directly into his face, 
as if she recognized him, she said: *1 know how far it is, and 
how much you need the money. Ill pay whatever you ask.” 

She spoke so simply and yet with so much sympatliy that 
Happy Boy could not refuse her. 

As the road passed under the towers that surmount the por- 
tals at the West Gate, the way became crowded with vehicles. 
There were rickshaws coming in with fares from the country- 
farmers coming to town— or piled high with cabbages for the 
market; there were heavy wooden-wheeled pushcarts, and sedan 
chairs supported on the shoulders of weary bearers. Just as 
Happy Boy was coming abreast of this throng, an automobile, 
wrapped in the cloud of dust that its own wheels raised, bore 
down toward them, sounding continually the contemptuous 
command of its horn. Happy Boy hated automobiles and he 
hated their horns, and he would not turn aside for any of them, 
no matter how much noise and dust they made or what dire 
threats the driver might scream at him. 

The car lessened its speed a little, but with its horn making 
an even louder noise it kept coming on. His passenger yelled at 
him to watch out, but without the slightest regard for what- 
ever she might be shouting he stopped dead, dropping the 
shafts of his rickshaw, and glared in hostile defiance at the 
frosted glass eyes of the vicious machine that was offering him 
his choice between running away or being run down. When he 

■ ■ ' ■ " 335 ' 



did not move at all the car swerved sharply, headed up the 
side of the dirt embankment along the road, and halted its 
course. Everybody else stopped too, and although nobody had 
been hurt there was as much confusion as if there had been a 
train wreck. 

The chauffeur got out of the car white with anger. Not 
only was his professional prestige at stake, but his rich master's 
arrival at a family festival would now be unseasonably delayed. 
Thinking to recover some of this lost face by a full-throated 
cursing out of the stupid beggar who had caused it all, he walked 
over to Happy Boy, sputtering vile imprecations at him. But 
nowadays when the moment came for a fight. Happy Boy was 
surer than at any other time of his own strength and cleverness: 
he felt it to be a high and honorable thing to bring all the force 
in his body down cmshingly on the flesh of an antagonist. It 
made even the light of the sun seem for a moment more vividly 
bright and clear. 

This gathering of all his strength in preparation for a fight 
was something that earlier in his life he would never even have 
dreamed for an instant of doing, but now it was a regular prac- 
tice, and moreover it was one way that he had of bringing clear 
joy to his heart; he loved to do it, so much so that sometimes he 
would break out laughing just at the thought. 

The driver coming over with such officious haughtiness to 
remonstrate with him was dressed in a foreign-style suit that 
must have cost him fifty or sixty dollars. Cutting the fellow 
short in the midst of a sentence that was intended to be espe- 
cially impressive, Happy Boy grabbed the man's sleeve, closing 
his hand over the skinny forearm of this servant of wealth. His 
grip was so tight that it hurt, and his great paw, covered with 
sweat and soot, would leave a mark on the fellow's precious coat- 
sleeve that would never come out. Happy Boy knew how afraid 
these proud gentlemen who wore western dress were of getting 
their clothes dirty; he knew, too, how stingy they were be- 

336 



neath their domineering exterior. So he kept this trick in read- 
iness and frequently used it with great effect on passengers who 
would not pay him the fare he demanded: they not only got 
their clothes soiled but they discovered how much strength he 
had, and in the end still had to pay him what he had asked in 
the first place. The dirt on their sleeves was his present to them, 
a gift that gave pleasure to the giver. 

Another thing Happy Boy had learned was how to glare at 
people: the way he was staring down into this chauffeur's eyes 
was shrivelling the bastard to a cinder. 



A policeman came over to intercede: it was his duty in life 
to keep the road clear for automobiles, especially if they were 
long and sleek and official-looking. But Happy Boy had no fear 
of him either. In such situations he had developed the practice 
of moving his lips but not his body, prolonging as long as pos- 
sible the period in which he could curse out the whole police 
force. If the policeman was unwilling to abide this language, 
Happy Boy was more than ready to give the fellow a real beating 
as well. After that if he had to stay for two or three weeks in a 
dirty jail, he would still feel that the pleasure had been cheaply 
bought. 


337 




But this time, before either he or the policeman could open 
their mouths, the slender little girl student jumped down from 
the rickshaw. 

''The driver was in the wrong! He was coming so fast that we 
were both sure he was going to hit us. It was not the rickshaw 
man's fault at all/' 

The policeman turned on her, but not with the same assur- 
ance that he had felt when he had started over just a few seconds 
earlier with the intent in his heart to administer a good kicking 
and clubbing to an obnoxious rickshaw boy. As between the 
latter and the owner of a big car he need not hesitate: his duty 
was clear. The rickshaw boy would be penniless and helpless; 
tlie car owner would be wealthy and have wealthy friends: the 
very government itself would bow and scrape to do his bidding. 

Students were another matter. Some of them had money 
and some didn't, but at the very least somebody had to be spon- 
sor for them: it cost money to go to school. And however much 
they were to be hated for it, the students were always parading 
and making speeches; they were dangerous. Your rice bowl 
might well depend on the whim of the man in the car, but if 
you got the students against you, you might lose it just the 
same. 

The girl maintained her insistence: "It's true, it's the car's 
fault! Do you think a rickshaw is going to run into a car?" She 
would yield nothing to either the policeman or the chauffeur 
and, in his surprise at this unexpected assistance, Happy Boy 
dropped the driver's arm and stood silent. This girl student 
certainly had ability. 

He had hardly got through thinking this thought when she 
addressed him. 

"Come on! No one can prevent us from attending to our 
proper business. If they want to stand here wrangling all day, 
let them." She got into the rickshaw again, signalling Happy 
Boy to get back between his shafts and pull away. He did as he 

338 



was bidden, maintaining the while a vigorous show of defiance 
to the other two. The chauffeur swore bitterly over his soiled 
garment, but the policeman was helpless, because, not having 
solved the problem as to whether the student or the car owner 
would be likely to have the more influence, he had no clue as to 
whom to declare right and who wrong. By the time an irate 
voice from the car recalled him from these reflections on justice, 
the rickshaw had disappeared into the traffic at the West Gate. 

It could not be considered that Happy Boy's regular run- 
ning gait wsis a slow one and in these latter days he had adopted 
the rule that he would not under any circumstances increase 
that pace without being paid extra for it. The moment a pas- 
senger urged him to run faster, he would bring his big feet down 
flat to die ground and ask: "Taster? How much will you add to 
the fare?" He was sweating his own blood, and there was no 
such thing as being polite about it: he no longer hoped that 
anybody would give him anything just out of the goodness of 
their hearts. He would not expend an ounce of extra strength 
until the extra coppers he was to receive for it had been agreed 
upon. 

But toward this girl student he felt differently. It was almost 
as if he could respect her as much as he respected Little Lucky 
One; he w^anted to show her how fleet he was on his feet and 
to say to her through his bearing toward her how ashamed he 
was now of the sharp bargain he had sought to drive when she 
had hailed him. It was with this thought in his heart that on the 
long road northwestward from the West Gate he ran harder 
than he had for many months. 

The thing that she said next startled him almost as much 
as what she had said to the policeman. It seemed that she could 
look out through his eyes. 

"Ton shouldn't run that fast for anybody, no matter what 
they pay you. You're not a pack animal." Almost grudgingly 
Happy Boy slackened his pace. 


339 



'There’s -something I want to ask you/’ she went on, "but 
first tell me one thing: what is your name?” 

Happy Boy looked back over his shoulder, a little grin of 
pleasure on his face, and spoke his name. 

"Didn’t you carry a placard in the demonstration for the re- 
lease of political prisoners? Or were you just selling your strength 
for the few tens of cents they presented you with?” 

Even the back of his neck was red with his embarrassment. 
He did not know what gathering she was talking about, but he 
could not deny that it was he that she had seen, nor could he 
account to himself for how stupid and foolish he felt about it. 
Certainly this was the first time anybody had ever made him 
feel ashamed for having done something simply for the money 
to be got out of it. How could he know what the placards said 
when he could not recognize the characters in his own name? 

"Even if I was too poor to learn to read, I still have to eat,” 
he said at last, pronouncing every word with a distinctness that 
was almost fierce. By now he had slowed down to hardly more 
than a walk. 

"I understand, I understand,” the girl said quickly, her voice 
full of the same sympathy that had marked it when he had tried 
to argue with her about the fare. "You weren’t doing anything 
wrong. You were helping too, whether you knew it or not. I 
only meant that if you hadn’t heard why we were demonstrat- 
ing, I’d like to tell you.” 

Then she recounted the story of the prisoners and why the 
students sought their release, which Happy Boy could under- 
stand easily enough. And if, in trying to go on to describe the 
broader objects which she and the paraders and the prisoners 
all held in common, she said many things that he could only 
comprehend very dimly, still she gave voice to grievances that 
he had long carried mute in his own stomach, believing that he 
suffered them alone, and at least for the time that she was speak- 
ing he felt that a new road had opened in his heart. 

340 



One thing was certain without any confusion: this girl 
student was clean and honest and unselfish. She sought him no 
harm. When they had reached the University she offered him 
more than he had asked. He tried to refuse, but she insisted, 
saying: ''Because we are both poor I know you have more need 
for this money now than I have, so you must take it.'' 

Back inside the wall, at a teahouse in the West City, Happy 
Boy thought painfully on the meaning of this whole affair. 
Finally he decided to dismiss it from his mind: if much that tlie 
girl had said still seemed very reasonable to him, the things 
that she hoped to do— whatever they might be— were sure to 
be unworkable. And, in any case, none of it could help him 
much. Where was there any money in it? It was not that some 
of her ideas did not make sense but that money— money that 
you could use to buy a little something good to eat or some wine 
to drink or a night in a "white house"— made much better 
sense. 

For, although Flappy Boy perhaps did not realize it, ex- 
perience is the fertilizer of life: the experiences through which 
you have passed mold you into the person that you are. In the 
wastes of the Shamo Desert no camellia ever came to flower. 
Happy Boy had entered completely into the groove of life in 
which he found himself: he was now no better and no worse 
than the generality of his kind, but only a rickshaw man like 
other rickshaw men, even to the point of detesting his calling, 
as they did. Without perceiving why, he was yet more com- 
fortable because of this fact. As he was now, the others found 
him more agreeable in their sight: all crows are black, and he 
didn't want to be the only one whose feathers were white. 

If anything, he was even more of a tough than before, espe- 
cially where the police were concerned. In their eyes. Happy 
Boy was a "thorn-head" of the very first rank, and yet they did 
not dare provoke him. It is when the bitterly poor see that hard 
work brings them only to emptiness that they become shiftless; 

341 



that such a one should turn into a "'thorn-head'' as well is per- 
haps only a fitting recompense to the social order for its pains. 

Again winter came and the yellow^ sand-laden winds that 
the desert blew over Peking froze many tens of homeless people 
to death in the streets of the city each night. When he heard 
the sound of the wind, Happy Boy would bury his head back 
under the covers and would not dare to get up. Not until that 
sound of wolves howling and devils wailing had altogether sub- 
sided would he finally arise, willy-nilly, having no further excuse 
to stay abed. Then he would be unable to decide whether it was 
best to go out or to rest for a day. He was loath to lift the ice- 
cold shafts of a rickshaw and afraid of that wind that sighed so 
deeply it made you sick in your insides. 

The wildest wind itself fears the setting of the sun: on this 
day too the soughing became tranquil and then utterly silent 
sometime after sundown, when in the twilight the heavens bore 
a western glow of the faintest rose. Happy Boy forced himself 
to muster his energy and took his rickshaw out. With the shafts 
under his armpits, his arms folded over his stomach and his 
hands tucked into his sleeves, he propelled the rickshaw slowly 
forward by pushing his chest against the crossbar at the shaft 
ends. He wandered thus aimlessly about the streets, without 
spirit, making an empty show, the butt of an old cigarette 
hanging from his lips. The sky was by now almost black, and he 
bethought himself that he had better hurry up and haul a pas- 
senger or two, so that he could take his rickshaw back earlier 
to the shed. He was too lazy to light his lamps, and only after 
the policemen along the roadside had reminded him four or 
five times did he finally do so. 

Beneath the lamp at the Drum Tower he managed at last 
to grab a fare. He didn't even take off his padded gown but went 
along just as he was, five parts running and five parts walking, 
in a piddling, half-hearted manner. He knew that this made a 
very poor impression, but if it did not have a proper appearance, 

342 



well, it just didn't have a proper appearance. Would anybody 
be willing to give him an extra copper for a proper appearance? 
This wasn't pulling a rickshaw; it was merely dragging oneself 
along, getting by as best one might. There was a perspiration 
on his forehead and he still was unwilling to shed his long gown; 
he would make out as he was as long as he could. 

He was turning into a narrow bydane when a street dog 
started to bark at him, probably because it felt that a rickshaw 
boy pulling his rickshaw in a long gown was a sight not pleasing 
to the eyes. Happy Boy put down the shafts and, grabbing up his 
cloth duster, set out after the dog, beating him for dear life 
with the duster handle. When he had chased it so far away 
that there was no shadow of it left, he stood waiting a while 
to see if it dared come back. The dog did not return and Happy 
Boy felt no obstruction to his contentment with himself. ‘Its 
mother's! You thought I was afraid of you!" 

In anything but a good spirit, the man in his rickshaw spoke 
up. “I must ask you, what kind of a rickshaw man do you think 
you are, acting like this?" 

Happy Boy's heart jumped. The sound of this voice was 
very familiar in his ears. The by-lane was quite dark; although 
the lamps on his rickshaw were bright, the light they threw 
fell downward toward tlie ground. He could not see clearly 
who his passenger was, perceiving only that he wore a heavy 
fur headpiece against the wind, had his coat collar turned 
up, and had wrapped a thick wool scarf around his neck and 
the lower part of his face, covering his mouth and nose, so 
that the air he breathed would not be freezing cold when it 
reached his nostrils. From all this bundling his two eyes alone 
shone out, and his voice came through low and muffled. 

Just as Happy Boy was busy guessing who it could be, the 
man in the rickshaw spoke again. 

“Aren't you Happy Boy?" 

Then the truth came clear and white in Happy's mind: the 

■ ■ 343 



man in the rickshaw was Fourth Master Liul He grunted affirm- 
atively in reply, his whole body hot and sour like the sourest 
sauce. 

''My daughter?'^ 

"She's dead!" Happy Boy stood there dumbly, not knowing 
whether it was he himself or some other person who had spoken 
those two words. 

"What? Dead?" 

"Dead!" 

"Falling into hands like yours, how could she do anything 
but die." 




APPY BOY forgot where he was going. His head thrown 
vbacky his hands clenched tightly over the shafts of his 
rickshaw and his eyes flashing with all the light that there was 
in the darknesS;, he strode forward, thinking only to keep on 
walking, without caring at all in what direction he moved or 
to what destination. His heart was full of joy; his body was 
light and free; all of the bad luck that had weighed him down 
since he had taken Tiger Girl to wife he had in one short mo- 
ment spewed out on the person of Fourth Master Liu! 

He forgot the cold and forgot to solicit passengers. All he 
could think of was to keep on marching, as though these firm 
strides could not but bring him in the end to the place where 
he would find once more the self that of old was his, the am- 
bitious and always hard-working Happy Boy, unhampered and 
pure in heart. 

When he thought of that black shadow standing back there 
in the middle of the lane, that old man, it seemed that there 
was no need of saying anything further. To have triumphed over 
Fourth Master Liu was to have triumphed over everything. 
Although he had not taken as much as one crack of his fist at 
the aged tool, and had not even kicked him, still the old bastard 
had lost the only relative he had, while Happy Boy on the 
other hand was completely at his ease and perfectly composed. 
Wlio was there to say that this was not retribution. If the old 
man did not actually die of his vexation, it would still bring 
him not far from death. Fourth Master Liu had everything; 

345 



Happy Boy had nothing at all; yet now Happy Boy could go on 
in the highest spirits pulling his rickshaw and old Fourth Mas- 
ter could not even find his only daughter's grave* All rights Old 
Man, you can have your piles of silver dollars and your temper 
so great that it fills the heavens. You've been beaten by a wan- 
dering beggar who has first to earn the money before he buys 
each meal and who is as poor as a polished egg. 

The more he thought about it, the more delighted he was. 
In all truth, he yearned to sing out the loud chant of this hymn 
of his, so that all living people in the world might hear it: 
''Happy Boy is alive again! Happy Boy is alive again! Happy Boy 
has won the victory!" The cold air of the night cut his face, but 
he did not feel chilled; its sharpness made him glad. The frozen 
glare of the street lamps seemed to illumine his heart with 
warmth and cheer; there was light everywhere, making bright 
the path that would lead him to his future. 

It was at least an hour now since he had smoked a cigarette, 
and he would not smoke again. From now on he would touch 
neither cigarettes nor wine. At the drum's beat he had opened 
a new account, working hard and trying to better himself as 
he had of old. Today he had triumphed over Fourth Master; 
from now on and forever against all the Fourth Masters of the 
world he would triumph. The curses of Fourth Master Liu were 
just what he needed to assure him of the fullest success: to 
have heard the old bastard tell him he was hopeless flooded 
him with hope. 

Having spit out all tliat malevolence in one breath and 
divested himself of the spirit of evil that was the dark influence 
of the Lius—father and daughter— Happy Boy would always 
breathe the fresh air of a freer atmosphere. He looked at his 
own hands and feet: was he not still young? Happy Boy would 
be forever young! Let the Tiger Girl die. Let Fourth Master die. 
Happy Boy would still be Happy Boy, laughing, ambitious, and 
alive. Evil men would all meet with evil, and come in the end to 

346 



die: the soldiers who stole his rickshaw; Madame Yang who 
starved her servants; Tiger Girl who had cheated and oppressed 
him; Fourth Master who despised him; Sun the detective who 
had swindled him of his money; the Second Wife Ch'en who 
had made a fool of him; and Madame Hsia who had seduced 
him— all were doomed, all must die. Only Happy Boy— the 
loyal, simple, honest Happy Boy— would go on living, would 
live forever! 

''But, Happy Boy, from now on you must work hard,'' he 
admonished himself. 

Himself it was who replied: "What excuse would I have for 
not working hard? I have the spirit, I have the strength, and 
I'm still young!" 

"Once Flappy Boy's heart is free and no longer obstructed," 
he spoke in defense of himself, "who will be able to stand in his 
way and stop him from establishing a family and building a 
business? What other person could have kept his spirits up 
under the load that he was bearing until today? Who is there 
who would not have gone down and down under it, as he did? 
Now all that has passed, and tomorrow you will see a new 
Happy Boy, with more ambition than ever— much more!" 

While his lips were busy forming the sentences of this con- 
versation with himself, his legs and feet gained a new accession 
of strength, as if in testimonial that these words were not falsely 
spoken: he had really found a new determination. For all the 
fact that he had been sick and had had a despicable disease as 
well, what difference did it make? Now that his heart had 
changed, his members would grow strong again; tliere was no 
question about that. 

tie had come out all over his body with sweat, and his mouth 
had gotten so dry that he thought of getting himself something 
to quench his thirst, before he realized that he had already 
reached the x\fter Gate. He felt that he didn't have time to go to 
a teahouse, so he put his rickshaw down at tlie rickshaw stand to 

. 347 



the west of the Gate and called over to him a small boy— toting 
a big teapot and a yellow clay bowl — who sold tea. He drank 
two bowls of the foul stuff: it tasted like water that had been 
used to wash a cooking pot and was terribly hard to swallow. 
But he told himself that from now on this was what he must 
drink: he could not spend all tlie money he earned buying good 
tea and expensive food. 

Having reached this firm decision^ he proceeded with brisk 
good spirits to eat a little snack of something that was hard to 
get down his gullet, and that served well as an introduction to 
this new life of long-enduring frugality upon which he had so 
lately entered. It was a kind of pastry roll, the insides being 
nothing but stewed cabbage butts and the outside being at once 
leathery and full of gritty sand. No matter how hard things like 
this were to eat, he would eat them. 

When he had finished he wiped his mouth witli the back of 
his hand. Where should he go? 

In his heart there were only two people to whom he could 
go for refuge, on whom he could rely. If he planned to work 
hard and make something of himself, he must find these two: 
Little Lucky One and Mr. Ts'ao. Mr. Ts'ao was a sage and 
would certainly forgive him, help him, and find a way out for 
him. If he followed whatever plan Mr. Ts'ao thought through 
for him, and afterwards had Little Lucky One to help him as 
well— he would meet the world outside, and she would mind 
the hearth within— they could not fail, they could not fail; 
there could be no doubt of that. 

Who knew whether Mr, Ts'ao had come back or not? No 
matter — tomorrow he would go to Long North Street to in- 
quire. If he could not find out there, he could go to Mr, Tso's 
house to ask. If only he could go to Mr, Tso^s house to ask. If 
only he could find Mr, Ts'ao, everything else would be easy to 
arrange. All right, this evening he would work his rickshaw all 
evening and tomorrow he would go hunt for Mr. Ts'ao. After he 

348 



had found him, he would go to see Little Lucky One and tell 
her the good news: Happy Boy hasn’t done well at all, but he’s 
determined to do better from now on, and the two of us must 
put our hearts together and work hard and go forward as one. 

Having laid his plans in this wise, he flew to the first prospec- 
tive passenger he saw, peeling off his padded gown before he had 
even got the amount of the fare settled. His eyes were as bright 
as an old eagle’s and darted in every direction. And though his 
legs were in all trath not what they once had been, a hot spirit 
seemed now to buoy up his whole body; he was putting his life 
into it. In spite of all that had transpired. Happy Boy was in the 
end still Happy Boy, and when he cared to run for all his life was 
worth there was no one in the whole city who could equal him. 
Every time he saw a rickshaw in front of him he would race past 
it, however fast its puller cared to move. A madness had seized 
hold of him. Sweat poured down his limbs and, when he had 
finished one trip, his body felt much lighter; his legs had re- 
gained their elasticity; he was ready for another run. Like a 
famed race horse that, when its course is completed, paws the 
ground with its hoofs in its impatience to be off again. Happy 
Boy could not bear to be idle. He kept going continuously until 
eleven o’clock, when he put his rickshaw up. 

He slept straight through to daybreak, turned over and did 
not open his eyes again until the sun was already high in the 
heavens. No sensation is so sweet as sleep after exhaustion; he 
stretched himself languidly, listening to the light crisp sound of 
his cracking joints. His stomach felt completely empty; he 
wanted very much to eat a little something. 

When he had finished dressing and had had a bite of food 
and a cup of tea, he smilingly told the manager of the shed, “I’m 
resting for a day— I’ve got some business to attend to.” In his 
heart he had made clear calculations: he would take this one day 
off and arrange all of his affairs; tomorrow he would begin his 
new life. 


349 



He headed directly for Long North Street on the chance that 
Mr. Ts'ao might already have returned and be living in the same 
house as before. While he was walking he prayed: ''Mr. Ts'ao 
must have returned, by a thousand times ten thousand en- 
treaties! Don^t let me grasp at emptiness! If this first affair does 
not come out fortunately, nothing will be fortunate for me. 
Happy Boy has changed entirely: can you. Venerable Master in 
the Heavens, then withhold Your protection?'' 

When he had arrived before the gate of the Ts'ao household 
his hand shook as he rang the bell. While he stood waiting for 
someone to answer, his heart seemed to be trying to jump out of 
his body. Standing in front of this very familiar door, he yet had 
no time to ponder over the past: he only hoped that the door 
would open and he would see a face he knew. He waited for 
what seemed a long time before he began to suspect that there 
was no one in the compound. If it were not empty, why would 
it be so quiet, so fearfully tranquil? 

Suddenly there was a little sound within the door, startling 
him so that he jumped. He was like a man who, watching 
through the night beside the body of a dead friend, all at once 
hears a whisper from within the coffin. The door opened; over 
the clatter of the dropping crossbar and the screech of the 
hinges, there came in a precious and intimate voice the single 
ejaculation: "Oh!" It was Kao Mai 

"Happy Boy? We've seen little of you, in truth! How did you 
get so thin?" Kao Ma, on the other hand, had put on weight. 

"Is the master in?" Happy Boy had no time for anything else. 

"He's at home. You are a good one, though! All you know is 
the master, as if the two of us were strangers. You don't even 
ask if I'm well! Come in! Have you made out all right?" While 
she was speaking she led him toward the house. 

"Huh! No good!" Happy Boy smiled as he answered her. 

"How's that? . . . Master!" ... Kao Ma called from out- 
side a room. "Happy Boy has come!" 

350 



Mr. Ts’ao was in his study, engaged at that moment in mov- 
ing the iiaicissus flowers from one place to another with the 
shifting sunlight. 

^^Come ini" 

''Ai, you go on in. In a little while well have a chance to talk. 
Ill go tell the mistress; we have all of us thought of you often! 
A simple-minded person is attractive in a simple-minded way, so 
you needn^t look askance at me." Kao Ma kept up her chattering 
as she went back toward Mrs. Ts'ao's room. 

Happy Boy entered the study. 

''Master, Fve come!" He thought to ask after his master's 
health, but the words did not come out. 

"Ah, Happy Boy!" Mr. Ts'ao was standing in the center of the 
room, wearing a short jacket, a slight smile of the deepest seren- 
ity on his face. "Sit down! Well! — " He thought a while. 
"WeVe been back a long time. Old Ch'eng told us that you-— 
that's right, that you were working at the Human Harmony 
Rickshaw Shed, We even sent Kao Ma over there once to look 
for you, but she couldn't find you. Sit down. How are you? Have 
your affairs gone well?" 

Happy Boy wanted to cry. He was unable to tell anyone what 
was in his heart, because his words were fashioned of blood and 
buried in the deepest recesses of his soul. For a long time he was 
silent, trying to regain his composure. He wanted very much to 
let that flow of bitter and simple language pour out from him. 
It was all there in his memory, as vivid as a crimson flag, and 
every time he thought of any corner of it the whole tiling un- 
furled before him. 

He must think slowly of everything, to be sure that each fact 
was in its proper sequence, and that they were all marshalled 
rank on rank in his mind. For it was a living history that he 
sought to relate: although he did not know its inner meaning, 
still the long record of the wrongs he had suffered was clear and 
true and unconfused. 



Mr. Ts'ao could see that his visitor was in the midst of his 
thoughts, and sat down quietly, waiting for him to speak. 

Happy Boy sat dumb and awkward for a long time. Suddenly 
he lifted his head and looked at Mr. Ts'ao, as if to say that if 
there was no one who cared to listen to him, he would not speak 
at all; that would be all right with him, too. 

'Tell me about it,’' Mr. Ts'ao said, nodding his head. 

Then Happy Boy began to recount the things that had hap- 
pened, beginning with the story of how he had come from the 
village to the city. Originally he had not intended to speak of all 
tliese useless matters, but yet if he left even them unsaid, his 
heart would be unable to be happy because the tale would not 
have been completely told. His memory was cut deep through 
bloody sweat by the knife of his suffering; he could not make a 
joke of his recital, nor could he chop off the head nor leave off 
the back end of it. Every drop of sweat, every drop of blood, 
was wrung from his very life, so that every incident tliat had 
occurred was worth the time it took to tell of it. 

It was all there in the words that were pouring from his 
mouth: how, after he had come to the city, he had worked as a 
laborer; how he had saved money and finally bought a rickshaw; 
how he had lost it; how he had come to his present circum- 
stances. Even he himself felt it to be an extraordinary thing that 
he was able to speak at such length and in so natural a flow. The 
incidents seemed to leap, one after another and alive, from his 
lips and to be able themselves to find the words appropriate to 
their description: sentence followed sentence, each true to 
reality, and each according to its content worthy of love or the 
soft falling of tears for its sadness. His heart had no way to halt 
this parade of the past, nor had he any means to stop his own 
speech. He wanted with one breath and without hesitation to 
take out his whole heart. The more he talked the more relieved 
and happy he became. He had forgotten himself because he had 
put himself into the things he was saying: in every phrase there 
,352 


was part of him, of that ambitious, grievously wronged, bitterly 
sufiering, far-fallen self that was he. 

When he had finished, you could see the perspiration on his 
forehead. His heart was empty of everything, empty and com- 
fortable, like that of a man who has just regained consciousness 
after having fainted. 

“Now you want me to advise you what to do?” Mr. Ts’ao 
asked him. 

Happy Boy grunted in assent: he had said what he wanted 
to say, and now it seemed as if he was unwilling to open his 
mouth again. 

“All right. But first you must let me tell you about that affair 
of the detective that you couldn’t explain to yourself. You know, 
the time I went away—” 

“Ah!” 1 










'Well; it came about like this. You know that I was teaching 
two or three classes in the Northern University. There was a 
student in the school named Yuang Ming who was from the first 
very friendly to me^ and who would frequently come around to 
talk to me. Fm supposed to be what people call a socialist— that 
iS; I think that land and factories and things like that should be 
owned by the people and used for everybody's benefit, instead of 
being controlled by a few persons and used to support them in 
great wealth, with big cars and dozens of houses and more food 
than they can eat, while other people starve. Do you under- 
stand?" 

Happy Boy nodded his head a little vaguely. It reminded 
him of the girl student tliat he had taken months before to 
Ch'inghua, but it still didn't sound very practical. 

"Now this Yuan Ming claimed to be even more radical than 
I, so that we found a lot to say to one another that was mutually 
interesting. However, the difference in our ages and the fact that 
I was the professor and he the pupil made for a slight conflict 
between us. I viewed our relationship from the standpoint of my 
position as a teacher, and believed tliat I should put my whole 
heart into teaching the texts and lessons that comprised the 
courses I gave, that my students should try their best to learn 
those lessons, and that none of them should take advantage of 
his personal friendship with me to be careless about his grades." 

Happy Boy's perplexity showed on his face. It was clear that, 
although he wished to preserve a perfectly respectful demeanor, 
he couldn't see what this had to do with Detective Sun. 

Mr. Ts'ao answered the thought in his mind. "You'll see the 
connection in a moment." Then he resumed his narrative. 

"Afterwards I realized that Yuan Ming's point of view had 
been a little different. He felt that it showed a sophisticated su- 
periority to the confusion of the world to talk about laboring 
somewhat for the coming of the revolution, and to disregard as 
of no moment the question of whether he was doing well or 

354 ' 



poorly in his class work. He cultivated an association with me 
because^ first, we had found a common ground of conversation 
and, second, because he hoped that I would give him, by reason 
of our friendship, a passing mark in the course no matter how 
far gone in rottenness his examination papers might be. 

'1 suppose,"' Mr. Ts'ao continued, his mind lost for this little 
while in the forest of his own speculations, ''he saw that there is 
always an aura of worthlessness around the leaders who arise in 
periods of disorder; probably he felt that if I knew enough his- 
tory I would find many precedents for treating him leniently on 
those grounds. For instance, which of our great men was not 
stupid in school? 

"At any rate, when the examinations came, I didn't give him 
a passing grade. His marks in his other courses were so bad that, 
even if I had passed him, he would have been sure to flunk out 
of school. Nevertheless, his hatred for me was a special hatred 
because he felt that I had shown no regard for his face. Face is 
equally as important as the revolution!" Mr. Ts'ao paused to 
laugh. 

"My failure to give him a passing grade only proved to him 
, that I didn't understand a youth of strength and determination. 
The circumstance that, when our day-to-day relationship was so 
cordial, I could still place him in such an insupportable position 
at examination time, convinced him -—according to what he said 
to otlier students— that I was a secretive and treacherous man. 

"In all truth, if it would have saved his being expelled, I would 
have given him another examination and passed him. But he 
wouldn't bemean himself so much as to study. He claimed to be 
in such a great haste to change the social order that he didn't 
have time for learning. Because he despised learning, he had 
gradually made a habit of laziness, and he wanted the respect, 
the assistance, and the protection of those around him, without 
any pain or labor on his part whatever. He was certainly an ad- 
vanfced thinker. 


355 



''Well, when he discovered that there was no way of resisting 
his expulsion from the University, he evidently decided to vent 
his anger on me. He was like a person being kidnapped for ran- 
som who hopes for a partner in his predicament; he thought it 
only proper that I should be put out of school along with him- 
self. So he took everything that he could remember my having 
said—in my lectures or in casual conversation-~on the subject of 
government or the social order, and edited them, putting them 
in the form of an information which he turned in to the local 
party headquarters in support of a formal charge that he made 
against me of propagating radical tliought among the youth. 

"I learned these details later. At the time all I heard was a 
bare rumor of what had happened, and I thought of it only as a 
joke. It was laughable to think that I should presume to the 
title of a prophet of the revolution. Too laughable to be taken 
seriously, although both my students and my teaching colleagues 
all warned me that I should be a little more careful.^' 

What Mr. Ts'ao did not tell Happy Boy was that he knew 
well enough just how limited and superficial his own "socialism'' 
was, and how deeply his traditional aestheticism would have hin- 
dered his effectiveness as a social revolutionary. But this ex- 
perience which he was relating had had to teach him how ir- 
lelevant to the issue is the knowledge of one's innocence when 
such charges have been brought: he had thought that, even in 
a confused world, a clear heart and a calm demeanor were some 
guarantee of security. He was wrong. 

He went on with his explanation to Happy Boy: "The win- 
ter holidays offered the secret police a good opportunity 'to 
tranquilize the academic world'; they set in in a great hurry to 
make investigations and arrests. I had already many times been 
aware that I was being followed, and the shadow that seemed 
always to be in back of me gradually caused me to change my 
attitude from one of ridicule to grave seriousness. 

"I was obliged to give thought to the matter. If I wanted to 
356 


achieve fame, this was an excellent chance. To go to jail for a 
few days would be easier than throwing a bomb and more re- 
liable.'' Mr. Ts'ao seemed about to laugh again. “Being put in 
jail is an absolute prerequisite to becoming a person of impor- 
tance," he explained. 

Happy Boy grinned broadly. This was something he could 
understand. He had gone to jail not a few times himself since 
he had last seen his master and, although it had not made him 
important, he could see where it might be definitely worth, 
while. 

“But I couldn't bring myself to do it," Mr. Ts'ao continued. 
“I couldn't play the same cheap game that the government 
played. It would have been easy enough to meet their strategy 
with a similar strategy of my own— and thereby create for myself 
a reputation that would have been false— but I couldn't do it." 
Behind his words was a deeper thought: he hated himself for 
not being a true warrior, but by the same token he was unwill- 
ing to become an imitation warrior. 

“So I looked up my friend Mr. Tso. He had a plan. When it 
becomes necessary, you move into my house with me. They're 
not very likely to search my place.' Mr. Tso had friends, and 
friends are everywhere more powerful than the law. Tou come 
here and live a few days,' he told me, 'to get out of their way. 
That will be evidence enough that we're afraid of them. After 
that we can go to them and try to bring about an understanding. 
It'll probably be necessary to spend some money as well. When 
they have been given ample face by our show of fear of them, 
and they have the money in their hands, you can go back to your 
own house and that will be the end of the matter.' 

“This Detective Sun that the secret police assigned to follow 
me must have known that I went frequently to Mr. Tso's house, 
and he could guess that as soon as the chase became close I 
would be bound to move to Mr. Tso's. But they didn't dare of- 
fend Mr. Tso, and they probably only wanted to throw a fright 

357 



into me. However that may have been, not until they had chased 
me from my own house to Tso's would they have real hope of 
getting any money out of me. Besides that, the fact that I had 
fled my home would give them plenty of face. 

'That is how it worked out. It cost quite a bit of money and 
alarmed me so that I went to Shanghai for a while, but as a mat- 
ter of fact that wasn't necessary." 

Happy Boy's face was red with his hatred for Detective 'Sun. 
"Why then did they rob me?" he asked. 

Mr. Ts'ao sighed. "I don't think 'chipping' you was any part 
of the original plans of the secret service, but I guess that, since 
they saw you, they probably just regarded you as an incidental 
catch to be bagged by the way. You know how they reason: why 
shouldn't they pick up a few tens of dollars when the money is 
practically put down before them?" 

"Ai"— ya— a!" Happy Boy groaned in the agony of his mem- 
ories. He could hardly keep from sobbing even now. 

"Yes, that's correct — you just happened to be 'on the spot,' as 
the Americans say, and you had to take what you got. It wasn't 
your fault. You remember I asked you to go back, so the re- 
sponsibility is mine." Mr. Ts'ao did not want Happy Boy to stay 
longer in the recollection of things that could not be changed. 
"It's sufflcient that you know how it came about; we've already 
thought enough of the past. Let's speak of what you want to do 
now. Must you still pull a rickshaw?" 

Happy Boy nodded his head. It was still the only thing he 
could really do. 

"Since you want to go on pulling a rickshaw," Mr. Ts'ao said 
slowly, "then there are only two roads open to you. One is to 
collect enough money together to buy a rickshaw, and the other 
is to rent one temporarily. Isn't that so? Not having any savings 
in your hands, you would have to borrow the money, and 
wouldn't paying interest on it be almost the same as paying: the 
rental? Wouldn't it be better first just to rent one? And work- 
358 . 


ing by the month is better than serving as a public conveyance. 
The work is more regular and you get your food and a place to 
live, along with your wages. According to the way I look at it, 
the best thing for you to do would be to come back to work for 
me. I sold my rickshaw to Mr. Tso, so if you do come back well 
have to rent one. What do you think about that?'' 

'That v/ould be fine!" Happy Boy stood up. 

'There's something I must warn you about." Mr. Ts'ao spoke 
as though he were thinking aloud. "I don't teach at the Unh 
versity any more, of course, but Yuan Ming has since become a 
powerful official. Although just now I'm on quite good terms 
with him, it's always possible—" 

Happy Boy made a quick gesture with his hands. 'If Master 
is not afraid, I am not," he said simply. 

"All right." Mr. Ts'ao smiled and their contract was made. 
"Just now you told me about Little Lucky One. What are you 
going to do about her?" 

"I don't have any clear plan." 

"Let me think it over a little for you and we'll see what can 
be done. If you take her in marriage and rent a room outside, 
that still wouldn't be a very sound proposition. The rent, coal, 
light and charcoal would all take money. Your wages would 
hardly cover it. And where would you find a job for the two of 
you together? You couldn't depend on being so lucky as to be 
the rickshaw boy in the same household in which your wife 
worked as an amah." Mr. Ts'ao shook his head in perplexity. 
"You mustn't take this the wrong way, now: tell me, when you 
come right down to it, is that girl really to be depended upon?" 

Happy Boy's face colored with his embarrassment and he 
swallowed for a minute before he could answer. "She only took 
up that trade when there was no other way out for her. I would 
dare to risk my head, she's a very good girl! She—" In his heart 
confusion opened; many different emotions had hardened into 
a ball inside him; now they were about to crack open and run 

3S9 



in all directions. He could not say the next word in the sentence 
he had started to speak. 

'If thaf s the case/' Mr. Ts'ao went on with some hesitation, 
as if the matter were a hard one to decide, "the only thing 
would be if I could put you both up here. Alone you would take 
one room; the two of you together would still take up just the 
one room, so there's no problem about a place to live. I don't 
know whether she's able to wash and do odd jobs or not, but if 
she is we'll have her help Kao Ma. Before long the mistress is 
going to have another baby, and Kao Ma, being alone here, is a 
little too rushed. Little Lucky One could eat here for nothing; 
on the other hand, she wouldn't get any wages. How does that 
look to you?" 

"That would be wonderful." Happy Boy smiled with all the 
naturalness of a little child. 

"And I'll give you a few dollars extra each month until I've 
made good the savings that were stolen from you." The look of 
inarticulate gratitude on Happy Boy's face was so poignant that 
Mr. Ts'ao hurried forward into the next thought in his mind. 
"There's just one other thing: about the girl— that's a matter 
that I can't decide altogether alone. I'll have to talk it over with 
the mistress—" 

"There can't be any mistake!" Happy Boy, too, had turned to 
speak of Little Lucky One. "If the mistress is not easy in her 
heart, I will bring the girl here so that the mistress can see her!" 

"That, too, would be good." Mr. Ts'ao smiled. "We'll do this, 
then: I'll first mention the matter to the mistress, and in a day 
or so you arrange to bring her here. If the mistress nods her 
head, we can count that we've been completely successful." 

"Then may I go right away, Master?" Happy Boy was in a 
great hurry to hunt out Little Lucky One and report to her these 
marvelous tidings, better than he had even dared hope for. 

When he left the Ts'ao household it was just before noon, 
that time in a late winter's day that is most to be loved. Today 
360 



it was especially clear and crisp; in the whole of the bright blue 
heavens there was not a single cloud; the sun's rays bent down 
through the dry cold atmosphere^ bringing to those they 
touched a warmth that was joyously happy. The sounds of the 
roosters crowing, of dogs barking, and of the street hawkers cry- 
ing their wares, all carried to great distances; the noises of one 
street came loud and clear in the next, like the cries of wild geese 
coming down from the skies. The rickshaws all had their tops 
lowered, and their brassware shone with a yellow light. Along 
the roadsides the camels moved with a slow and stable gait; 
streetcars and automobiles took their urgent way up or down 
tire center of the avenue; the people, the four-footed animals, 
the vehicles, the birds in the air, every aspect of the life and 
movement of the city, all were possessed by the serene tran- 
quillity of tire morning. In the midst of the hurry and bustle 
there was happiness, and happiness, too, wherever there was 
quiet. Lining the long roads, the trees stood tall in their silent 
assurance. 

Happy Boy's heart wanted to leap out of his body and take 
wings and sail about in space with the pigeons. Everything he 
wanted was his: work, wages, and Little Lucky One! From a few 
sentences this wonderful solution had come — a thing that he 
would never have thought possible. 

When some great good fortune falls to your lot, even the 
weather turns fine; Happy Boy could not remember a fairer day 
in any of his winters than this one v/as. To make even more real 
tlie expression of his joy, he bought himself a frozen persimmon 
and bit right into it. It turned his whole mouth as cold as ice, 
and then this cold that struck at the roots of his teeth moved 
down his throat until it reached his stomach, making him shiver 
all over. In two or three swallows he had finished the fruit. 
His tongue was numb, but he felt beautifully comfortable inside. 

He stretched his legs on great strides to go find Little Lucky 
One. In his mind he could already see the common yard, the 

361 



little room, and the person whom his heart loved. All he lacked 
was a pair of wings to carry him there in one swift flight. When 
once he saw her, all the past would be cancelled out by a single 
stroke; from that moment forward they would live in another 
world. His urgency now was even greater than when he had been 
on his way to see Mr. Ts'ao. Mr. Ts'ao was his friend and master 
and in their relationship a good deed requited a good deed. 

She was not only a friend: she would soon give over her 
whole life to him. They were two souls only now freed from in- 
ferno, who would wipe away each other's tears and walk forward 
hand in hand. Mr. Ts'ao's words had moved him deeply; Little 
Lucky One had no need of words to move him deeply. He had 
spoken the trath to Mr. Ts'ao; to Little Lucky One he would say 
the things that were even closer to his heart; he would speak to 
her in words that could be spoken only to her. She was in this 
present moment his very life. Without her, nothing would count 
for anything. He could not eat and drink and work hard just for 
himself alone: it was absolutely necessary that he rescue her 
from that dirty cell in which she was caught, so that she could 
live with him thereafter in a clean warm room. They would live 
together as joyously as a pair of little birds, with the same simple 
propriety and the same warm intimacy. 

She could give up trying to take care of her father and broth- 
ers and come to take care of Happy Boy. Second Vigorous was 
perfectly capable of earning his own living from the very start, 
and work could certainly be found for the two boys. Perhaps 
they could together manage a rickshaw. They could make out 
without her, but Happy Boy absolutely had to have her. To his 
physical well-being, his spirits, and his work— she was essential 
to each and all of these and to every other part of his life. On 
her side too, she needed just the kind of man that he was. 

The more he thought the more he hurried and the more 
elated he became. Under the heavens there were unnumbered 
women and yet not a single other as good as Little Lucky One 

362 


or as fit for him. He had already taken one woman in marriage 
and another by stealth; he had had intercourse with old women 
and young ones, women who were beautiful and women who 
were ugly; of them all there had been none who had stamped 
herself in his heart. They were only women, not the unique 
woman who would be his mate his whole life long. 

It was true that Little Lucky One was not the pure virgin 
whom his heart had sought when he first came to the city, but 
precisely because of that fact she engaged his pity more com- 
pletely and would be the more able to help him. That dumbly 
innocent maiden from the village w^ould without doubt be alto- 
gether virginal, but she would never have Little Lucky One’s 
ability or so many paths in her thought. Moreover, how about 
himself? There were a great many black spots in his heart. Well, 
then, he and she were just right to be matched with one an- 
other: as to innocence, or lack of it, neither was any taller or 
shorter than the other. They were like two pitchers of which 
both had been cracked but both were still able to hold any fluid 
put in them: it was proper that they should be placed side by 
side. 

Thus, from whatever point of view the matter was consid- 
ered, their union was a very appropriate one. Having thought 
over all this, he turned his mind to more practical things. First 
he would get a month’s pay in advance— or else part of the 
money that was to be made good to him — from Mr. Ts’ao; then 
he would buy Little Lucky One a new cotton-padded gown and 
fresh shoes and stockings; after she had bathed herself all over 
and got dressed up in a completely new outfit of clothes, he 
would take her to see Mrs. Ts’ao. Clean from the top of her 
head to the soles of her feet, and attired in a spotless long gown 
simple and pure in color, she could rely upon the mold of her 
features, a certain style and spirit in her face that was her own, 
and her youth. With these things she would surely succeed in 
pleasing Mrs. Ts'ao! And no mistake about it! 


363 



When lie reached the place he was covered with perspira- 
tion. Seeing that dilapidated old compound door, he felt as if 
he were returning after an absence of many years to his old 
home. The ruined door, the collapsing wall, the two or three 
lonely sprays of dry yellow weeds that grew out of the dirt piled 
up over the top of the doorway — he was suddenly very fond of 
them all. He went in the gate, and headed directly for Little 
Lucky One's room. He could not be bothered with knocking 
on the door or with calling out that he was coming. 

The instant he opened the door, he instinctively drew back. 
There was a middle-aged woman sitting cross-legged in the mid- 
dle of the brick bed, her feet drawn up under her. Because there 
was no fire in the room, she had wrapped her hunched, shivering 
shoulders in the tattered remains of a quilt, which the claw-like 
grip of her dirty bony hands kept tight around her. Happy Boy 
stood stupidly on the threshold. 

From the figure on the bed came a harsh voice: 

''What is this? Are you a bearer of ill tidings? Has somebody 
died? What are you doing, walking without a word into stran- 
gers' rooms? Who are you looking for?" 

Happy Boy had no thought of speaking. The sweat on his 
body had all turned cold now, and he held to the rickety swing- 
ing door to steady himself. Still he did not dare throw all his 
hope away. 

"I'm looking for Little Lucky One." 

"I don't know who you're talking about. Tlie next time you 
go looking for anybody, call out first before you go pulling peo- 
ple's doors open. None of this Little Lucky One, Big Lucky One 
business." 

Mute and dull, he sat on his hands outside the compound 
gates for what seemed half a day, his heart an empty space, with- 
out remembering what it was that he was doing. 

Slowly a part of it came back to him, and in his heart Little 
Lucky One began to pass back and forth, like a paper figure in 

364 


a jack-o'-lantern shoW;, so that he could see just how tall she was 
and how she was to be described. But there was no use at all in 
her walking up and down like that forever, and he seemed for a 
time to have forgotten that there was a special connection be- 
tween this figure and himself. 

After a while the shadow of Little Lucky One grew smaller, 
and his heart became more awake. Only then it was that he 
knew how horribly it ached. 

When the fortunate or unfortunate issue of an event is still 
not clear, man will always cling to his hope for the best out- 
come no matter how unlikely it may be. Happy Boy guessed 
that perhaps Little Lucky One had simply moved to some other 
place, and that there probably had been no other great change 
in her circumstances. It was he who was remiss. Why had he 
not come regularly to see her? Remorse whips one on to action, 
to make good the loss that the mistake has caused. The best 
thing to do would be to inquire around. He went back into the 
compound again and found an old neighbor and asked him. The 
news he got was vague and uncertain. 

He still did not dare lose his hope. It was already late in the 
afternoon, but he had no wish to eat anything. He must find 
Second Vigorous, or if he could locate either of the two young 
brothers that would be all right, too. These three people would 
be sure to be somewhere on the streets, and it should not be 
difficult to find one of them. 

Whomever he saw he asked. At the mouths of the little 
lanes, at the rickshaw parking stands^ in the teahouses and the 
tenements, he asked everywhere. All that evening and the next 
day he walked until the strength of his legs was spent, without 
hearing any word of news. 

When he returned at the end of the second day to the rick- 
shaw shed his body was exhausted. He could not forget, but he 
no longer dared to hope. The bitterly poor die easily, and are as 
easily forgotten. Who could call it unlikely that Little Lucky 

365 



One was already dead? Or^ drawing one step back in his 
thoughts, even supposing she were not dead, might it not be that 
Second Vigorous had sold her again, this time to some distant 
place? That would be more terrible than if she were dead. 

The last thing that he wanted to do was to go to the Ts'aos' 
house. How could he face his master? How could he explain 
that, needing her as much as he did, he yet had not gone near 
Little Lucky One for so many months that he had lost all track 
of her? There was no use even in sending them word that he 
was not coming. Happy Boy's destiny was smashed now beyond 
any aid that even Mr. Ts'ao could give him in repairing it. 

But finally, after ten days of futile searching, he went back 
to the Ts'ao household and moved into the room tliat in his 
heart was Little Lucky One's as well. He would say nothing, nor 
was even Kao Ma so tactless as to ask. 

And no one scolded when wine and cigarettes became once 
more almost his only friends. If he did not smoke, how could 
he think? And if he did not drink, how could he stop thinking? 


2 ^ 

le Imperial 
very warm, 
he pleased, 

but Happy Boy had long been a stranger to any spirit of pleasure; 
in his utter discouragement he could think of nothing more to 
do than wander up one street and down another, like a ghost 
that had lost its way back to the burial ground. 

But the city around him paid little heed to how Happy Boy 

366 



year had come again to the festival of tl 
Sacrifices, and again the weather had become 
Mr. Ts'ao had given him the day in which to do as 


felt. The hawkers of paper fans seemed to have crawled out from 
wherever they had been hiding through the winter and to be 
swarming all over, their trays suspended from straps around 
their necks, with the bells hanging from the corners sounding 
'Va-lang, wa-lang*' to draw the attention of the passers-by. At 
the sides of the road green apricots were already being sold by 
the pile; the bright red of the ripened cherries glistened in one's 
eyes; vast multitudes of yellow bees flew back and forth, to and 
from the bowls of red fragrant roses and the dishes of dates; the 
glassware on display in big porcelain platters reflected the sun 
in a milky light; the baskets swaying from both ends of the 
hucksters' shoulder-poles bore piles of cookies or cubes of sea- 
weed jelly arranged with extraordinary neatness; on the street- 
stands there was set forth every kind and color of material for 
every conceivable purpose. 

The people themselves had changed, where they could, from 
drab clothing to light garments of more delicate hues or of gayer 
markings, so that the streets seemed suddenly to have acquired 
a richer and much more variegated color and to curve like so 
many bright rainbows among the habitations of man. 

The street-sweepers worked with even more than their usual 
diligence, ceaselessly sprinkling the roadways with water, but 
the fine dust rose regardless, filling the air and harassing pe- 
destrians. Yet even at its worst this irritating haze still revealed 
the long branches of the willow hanging down through it and 
the quick-darting swallows that were unaware of it, so that one's 
spirits were high in spite of oneself. It was weather that left it 
hard to know how best to dispose of the hours: it made almost 
everyone feel relaxed and a little fatigued, so that one contin- 
ually wanted to yawn. 

Processions of every kind— those of the singers of the magi- 
cal songs while the rice is transplanted; those in honor of the 
''Five Tigers," the great generals of ancient time; those in which 
long lines of men supporting the trailing forms of paper lions, of 

367 



which any unwary devil might well be afraid; and many others— 
all, one after another, wended their way through the city and 
out of it to the hills beyond. Beating gongs and drums, bearing 
boxes of polished wood, or toting banners of apricot yellow, they 
filed past, one group close upon the heels of- the one before it, 
lending the aged Peking an abnormal stimulation, giving the 
people who lived within its walls a vague but very intimate 
thrill, and leaving after them in the atmosphere the echoes of 
their music and a floating film of the dust that to every true 
Buddhist symbolizes the defilement of the world. 

Those who participated in the processions and those who 
watched them were alike swept with this warmth of feeling, and 
touched with a sense at once of excitement and of devout be- 
lief. All the bustle and activity of a confused world are born of 
superstition; the stupid find their only solace in self-deceit. The 
blending of colors, the medley of sounds, the dusty streets, gave 
everyone fresh energy and something to occupy their attention: 
those who were headed for the hillsides went out to the hills; 
those who were on a tour of the temples went to the temples; 
those who were out to see the flowers went about looking at 





fresli blossoms; the multitudes who could spend little time do- 
ing any of these things could at least stand by the side of the 
road and watch the excitement for a while, repeating to them- 
selves the blessed name of Buddha. 

There was amusement everywhere, excitement everywhere, 
and everywhere there was sound and color. On the still ponds 
called the Southern and Northern Seas, young couples guided 
their boats in under the shadows of the overhanging willows, or 
lay side by side on the banks, humming the melodies of the love 
songs they remembered. In this soft languor they kissed each 
other with long glances: their eyes knew what their hearts meant 
to do, and for their bodies it was almost as if it were already 
happening. 

At the Bridge of Heaven a huge matshed had been erected as 
an open-air teahouse, where the whiteness of the cloths on the 
crow^ded tables and the beautiful grace of the singing girls pre- 



sented themselves across the distance to the old pine trees that 
grew from the walls of the Temple of Heaven. 

Persons of elegance^ scholars of refinement and culture were 
drawn by the peonies and the camellias to the public gardens, 
where they walked slowly back and forth with irresolute steps, 
agitating their valuable fans to cool themselves, and stealing 
sidewise glimpses at the virgins from the great families and the 
famous courtesans from the South who might be passing by. 
The weather simplified the problem of dressing both for the 
virgin and the courtesan: they need only wear a single simple 
gown of sheer texture to be beautifully arrayed, a circumstance 
which incidentally allowed them to display every curve in their 
bodies. 

This first wave of heat in the opening of summer had acted 
like a divine charm, bringing out everywhere the fascination of 
the ancient city of Peking; in due season, regardless of suffering, 
calamity, or death, she had chosen to display her powers, hypno- 
tizing the hearts of a million people and leaving them in a 
dream-like trance, able only to sing poems in her praise. She was 
filthy; she was beautiful; she was senile and decadent; she was 
lively and smiling; she was disparate and confused; she was at 
peace and in leisure; she was Peking, immense, inimitable, and 
much to be loved. 

Happy Boy could still not have borne the thought of leaving 
this city, but for him the spell was broken. Once such a time of 
festival would have found him as lighthearted and eager as a 
child, but now he was hot and weary and indifierent. 

It was still fairly early in the morning when his listless prog- 
ress brought him upon a familiar face: it was the grandfather of 
Little Horse. The old man had given up pulling a rickshaw and 
in his clothing and general appearance he looked even more tat- 
tered and run-down than before. Across his shoulder he carried 
a pole of willow wood from the front end of which there hung 
a big teapot, while in back there was suspended a worn-out sycee 

370 


basket with a few cakes and fritters in it, together with a large 
brick. He still remembered Happy Boy. 

They started to talk, and Happy Boy learned for the first 
time that Little Horse had been dead for over half a year and 
that the old man had sold the broken-down rickshaw, depending 
now solely on what he could make from selling a few fried roll- 
cakes and a little fruit at the rickshaw stands. He was still as 
friendly and lovable as ever, though his back was much more 
bent, and his eyes ran tears whenever he faced the wind, his eye- 
lids being always red and swollen as if from weeping. 

Happy Boy drank a cup of his tea, and told him in two or ' 
three sentences a little about his own troubles. 

''So you thought you could come to some good just by relying 
on your own efforts?'" The old man gave his judgment on Happy 
Boy's words. "Have we not all thought the same thing? But 
which one among us has come to good? When I started out, 
my own body was straight and firm and my heart was well dis- 
posed. I have worked and worried and struggled incessantly up 
to this very moment, and you see before you the total of all I 
have achieved. You are physically strong? A man who was made 
of iron could not escape this trap set by Heaven and sprung by 
Hell in which we are caught. Your heart is good? What use is 
that? 

" Those who do good are rewarded with good; those who do 
evil are rewarded with evil' — there is in fact no such principle or 
law, either of God or man. When I was in the years of my 
youth, mine was truly a heart overflowing with sympathy. The 
other man's sufferings were as real to me as my own, and the 
woi;k he wanted done I did as faithfully as if it were for myself. 
Was that of any use? It was not. 

"I have even saved people's lives. I have rescued men who 
jumped into rivers, and cut down women who sought to hang 
themselves. Have I received any recompense? I want to tell you: 
there is no way for me to know when I will starve to death, or 

371 ■ 



on what winter's night I will die by freezing. You can count me 
as one person who thoroughly understands that those of us who 
labor in poverty and hope to come to some good might as well 
try to reach Heaven by leaping up to it. 

"'How much spring is there in one lone man? Have you ever 
watched a grasshopper? Wlien he is by himself^ the fact that he 
can jump surprisingly far only makes it more likely that some 
small boy will catch him and tie him with a thread, so that he 
won't even be able to get up off the ground. 

"But let him join with a swarm of other grasshoppers and go 
forth in battle array. Hengl In one sweep they will destroy an 
entire crop, and who can stop them? Where is the small boy 
with his thread? Tell me yourself, am I right or not? 

"Because, in spite of everything, my heart is good, I cannot 
even keep one little grandson. He got sick; I had no money to 
buy him medicine; I watched him die in my arms. There's no 
use talking about it! . . . Get your tea here! Who will drink a 
cup of tea?" 

Happy Boy truly understood: his victory over Fourth Master 
Liu was after all without any meaning. Fourth Master, Mistress 
Yang, Detective Sun— they would none of them by his curses 
come to the evil which was their just retribution; nor could he 
himself expect that, because he wanted to work hard and better 
himself, he would get any benefit. Alone, depending only on 
himself, he was in truth, as the old man had said, like a grass- 
hopper tied by a thread: of what use were the strongest wings? 

As he was hunting for the words in which to express how 
closely his own experience followed the old man's observations, 
a newsboy came running through the street, opening his small 
throat wide and shrieking shrilly: "Yuan Ming arrests dangerous 
radicals! News of the execution of the radicals! Condemned to 
be paraded at ten this morning!" 

For those who were out finding what pleasure they could on 
a forenoon of festival, the added excitement of a diverting piece 

372 



of news, a story that would be worthy of being read two or three 
times without getting boresome, was precisely the one thing 
that this gay bright day had lacked. And now just such news had 
come! A copper, a copper, and yet more coppers passed into the 
sooty black hand of the newsboy as pedestrians pressed to be 
first to buy his ''Execution Special/" 

Close to where Happy Boy and the old man were standing a 
shopkeeper was deftly pasting his copy up on the outer wall of 
the compound next to his wine shop. The old man moved over 
to look at it and a small crowd shortly collected around him. 
Someone spoke: "Venerable Elder Brother, many of us do not 
recognize characters. Please read it to us/" 

Smiling in deprecation of the compliment that the assump- 
tion that he was educated implied, the old man began to read 
aloud the important parts of the story. It was largely, the account 
of an interview with Yuan Ming, of the feats which the latter 
had performed in the service of the government of which he was 
now so important a member, and of the manner in which, 
through the aid of the secret police and a certain One Pock Li, 
this group of low criminals who had been plotting against the 
stability of the state had been apprehended. From all this it was 
clear that Yuan Ming was a great man and had acted with true 
courage. As if to afford visual evidence of these facts, a large 
likeness of the official himself was displayed in the center of the 
sheet, and the condemned were being brought on a tour of the 
city, the list of the avenues which they were to traverse showing 
that they would come down the very one on which this group 
was congregated. 

If Happy Boy and the old man's auditors heard this news 
without enthusiasm, the generality of the holidayers appeared 
to welcome it much more warmly. Before another ten minutes 
had passed, the street was crowded with expectant, clamorous, 
pushing people, waiting the coming of the living villains in this 
exciting drama. The women had abandoned their cooking or 

■ 373 ,' ■ 



their promenading, as the case might be, the rickshaw men had 
stopped looking for fares, the clerks in the stores were disregard- 
ing their customers, the hawkers had stopped crying their wares, 
all in honor of the exploits of Yuan Ming and the hope of see- 
ing his victims. 

In history there had already been the Yellow Turbans, a 
powerful secret society of outlaws at the close of the dynasty 
of the Eastern Han; Chang Hsien-chung, who had helped to 
overthrow the Ming Dynasty, opening the way for the Manchus; 
and the people of the Dynasty of Heavenly Peace: they all had 
loved to watch a good slaughter and were all capable, as well, of 
getting themselves slaughtered. Tliis morning their descend- 
ants were most of a mind that execution by rifle fire was a little 
too simple. They would have preferred decapitation, or die 
death of a thousand slices, in which the appendages are all 
slowly cut away before the condemned is finally dispatched, or 
the more delicate operation of peeling off all his skin while he is 
still alive. Just to hear the words was like eating ice cream: it 
made you shiver with pleasure. 

This time, however, in addition to the executions, there was 
the tour of the city, and people felt a real gratitude to Yuan 
Ming for thinking up this excellent plan, making it possible for 
them to see the half-dead criminals bound in a cart for the titil- 
lation of their eyes. Granted that one could not oneself be the 
executioner, still this was almost the same thing. 

Suddenly everyone grew quiet. In the distance there ap- 
peared a troop of mounted police, fully armed. ^They^re com- 
ingf " someone shouted. At the same time, like a vast engine, the 
whole crowd surged forward an inch, and then another inch: 
they were coming, they were coming! The murmur of voices 
grew loud again, and the stench of sweat seemed stronger, as 
these citizens of a state whose religion is the law of propriety 
pressed forward to gape at prisoners about to die. 

In the back of the open truck that was being driven slowly 

374 



by there were kneeling three small, bedraggled figures, their 
arms bound behind them, their heads down, their faces tense 
and drawn, each with a big cloth placard on his back and 
shoulders denouncing the crime for which its bearer was to be 
executed. One was a woman, evidently still quite young. The 
three of them, huddled together in silence, looked like fright- 
ened street dogs who had got drenched in the rain. The spec- 
tators pursed their lips in disappointment. Was this all the 
show was going to amount to? Was it to be as flavorless and 
pointless as all this? Would they not even make a sound? 

A fellow in front of the crowd had an idea: he wanted to 
have a little fun at the expense of these terrified monkeys. 
Turning to the rest of the audience, he proposed: 

'Tef s give them a cheer.” 

O f 

Everyone saw the point of this at once: in the theatre, when 
the villain — ''the Great White Face” — turns in a really striking 
performance, he is met by a storm of applause, every throat in 
the house roaring out, "Excellent, excellent!” 

So now nearly everyone joined in crying "Excellent! Excel- 
lent!” in an expression of the refinement of their contempt for 
the three figures in tlie slowly moving truck. 

Neither of the men in the truck moved or showed in any 
way that he had heard, but the girl, evidently misunderstanding 
the purpose of her tormentors, lifted to the crowd a face of ter- 
rible intentness and began to recite the slogans for which she 
knew she soon must give her life. Her first words were inaudible; 
then she said: 

"Freedom of publication!” 

"P'ei! P'ei!” answered an old woman at the edge of the road, 
spitting toward the car. "What good is that, when only one in 
twenty can read? The fool deserves to be shot.” 

"Probably she's the agent of some rich publisher who wants 
to make himself richer cheating both those who can write and 
those who can read!” suggested a thin youth sneeringly. 

37 ? 



The little girl who was condemned perhaps did not hear 
these taunts; she seemed oblivious now to everything but the 
tenets of her own pure unrealistic faith: 

''Overthrow the secret police! Oppose crooked politicians and 
the sale of justice! Drive out corruption from the government!'" 

By this time one of the mounted police had ridden back 
opposite her and was beating her with a truncheon, cursing her 
the while for a filthy whore. In a final expression of perverse de- 
fiance to the order in which she lived, she screamed: 

"Freedom of speech!" 

And that was all. The cavalcade passed on, out of sight and 
hearing, except of those few who chased along after it to stay 
with it till it should come to the Bridge of Heaven, and the 
execution be in actuality carried out before their eyes. The 
others had had their show; the flavor of it was strange indeed, 
and very tart. The festival had somehow been spoiled a little. 

The while the open truck and its escort were progressing 
through this stretch of their journey, the old man and Happy 
Boy had stood on an ancient refuse pile at the base of the wall 
close to the place where the newspaper was posted. They could 
see clearly over the heads of the crowd, but they had not shared 
its interest in the prisoners until the girl raised her head to speak. 

Then Happy Boy knew: the girl was the Ch'inghua student 
who months before had been his passenger and who had sided 
with him against the policeman. The girl who reminded him of 
Little Lucky One. His whole body suddenly drew in together 
like a crouching animal's and his face turned a color that was 
not good to look upon. 

The old man, who had slipped his teapot and basket to the 
ground and had been watching too, felt the hand that his 
younger companion had placed on his shoulder tighten with a 
sharp, convulsive, almost cmshing force. 

"She's only a girl!" The breath issued from Happy Boy's lips 
without any relaxation of his jaws. 

376 



The old man turned to face him, standing between Happy 
Boy and the scene on the road. There was no wind stirring to 
account for the tears in his aging eyes. ‘Tut they would simply 
Ml you too/' he implored, answering the impulse sweeping the 
heart of Happy Boy. 'Tou can do nothing." 

'd know." Flappy Boy swayed back against the wall and 
slumped down to a squatting posture, his head buried in his 
hands for his shame. The old man sat down beside him. 

Neither of them moved or spoke at all until a long time after 
the crowd had dispersed. Then slowly and with long hesitations 
Happy Boy managed to recount the story of Yuan Ming and 
Mr. Ts'ao, and also how the Ch'inghua girl had defended him in 
his argument with the policeman and the chauffeur, how she 
had talked to him of things which he still did not understand, 
although he could remember some of the words, and how at the 
end she had overpaid him. 

''Because I needed the money morel" Happy Boy recalled. 

"It is for those thoughts that she has been accused of all the 
crimes listed against her, and is being shot," the old man ex- 
plained softly. "Whether it is true, as it is written in the canons, 
that 'all men are born good, but in living depart from it,' it is 
certain that in all the children of Han there is both darkness and 
light, and that it was in tlie hour of the ascendancy of the evil in 
them that they set up this doctrine called the source of wealth 
that she was probably trying to tell you about. It is the reason 
for money. And because it is dark and evil it draws out the dark- 
ness and evil in each of us, and stops up the good. The more we 
are willing to cheat and steal and watch others starve, the more 
money we will have; and the less able we are to match others in 
those things, the nearer we shall be to starving ourselves. And 
because nobody wants to starve or to have to beg for their food, 
and nobody wants their children to starve or to have to beg, 
maybe we can't speak too ill of those who have money and want 
to keep it— or perhaps even get more and more. The more 

377 



money they have, the more people they can have working for 
them, the safer they are, and the more power they have. But 
then they have to kill or imprison anyone who questions the 
roots of the principle, as the student did.’' 

Happy Boy wanted to cry. Clearly he could recollect now 
how loath he had been to give up the little bit of money that 
Fourth Master had held for him, and how it was partly for 
money that he had stumbled into the course of his life with 
Tiger Girl. And now he could see that in this he had been as 
selfish as Mistress Yang; that he had been following in the foot- 
steps of the Fourth Master and everyone else whom he hated. 

"'You spoke of Yuan Ming,” the old man went on. "Tie's only 
a puppet, no worse than those whom he serves. Tlie man who 
is truly to be despised is One Pock Li. The paper said he was the 
informer who reported the girl and the other two to the secret 
police, as Yuan Ming reported your master. But, instead of a 
job in the government, he got a reward of sixty dollars for the 
three: a market rate for human lives of twenty dollars each.” 

""Is he the same as the One Pock who used to pull a rickshaw 
in the West City?” 

""Yes, that's the fellow. He was not much more fortunate than 
the rest of us. Then he got the habit of opium smoking, and for 
two years there hasn't been anything he would not do to get 
money into his hands. He's no better than a dog. And yet it's 
hard to say that the fault is really his. Men have through count- 
less ages gradually pulled themselves up from among the animals, 
and even at the present time they still persist in driving their 
fellow men back down to the level of wild beasts. In this city of 
great culture many of us must become animals again.” 

""It is only by very little that I've missed being one of them!” 
Happy Boy said aloud. To himself he was thinking again of all 
the things that he himself had done for the sake of money, and 
the things that the lack of it had forced him to do. If he had had 
only a little money he would never have left Little Lucky One. 

378 



Were they, too, all condemned? Was there no road out? Then, 
because he had already told him so much, Happy Boy took the 
old man as a true friend and laid before him the affair of Little 
Lucky One. 

''According to my guess,"' the old man responded, turning his 
mind to this problem, "there are two ways that might have been 
followed: if she was not sold by Second Vigorous to be some 
man's concubine, the only other tiring that could have happened 
is that he put her body in pawn to a 'white house/ In all prob- 
ability she went down to a 'white house." Why do I say that? 
Since Little Lucky One has already, according to what you have 
just been telling me, been married, it would not be easy to get 
anyone else to accept her. Men buying concubines want the 
original goods in unbroken packages. So it's probable that there 
are eight chances out of ten tliat she's gone down into a 'white 
house/ I'm almost sixty and I've seen many things. When one 
of these robust young rickshaw men doesn't come for two or 
three days to the street corners where he's usually seen, and you 
go looking for him, if he hasn't got a Job by the month some- 
where, he's sure to be crawling about in some 'white house/ And 
if the wives or daughters of any of us who are bitterly poor sud- 
denly disappear, there are seven or eight chances out of ten that 
they have gone to one of the same places. We sell our sweat and 
our women sell their flesh. You go look for her in some of those 
places. We can't say we hope she's in one of them, but—" 

"I've asked everywhere inside the walls." Happy Boy shook 
his head in despair. 

"You've probably heard men speak of 'White Flour Sacks'?" 
the old man asked. 

"Yes, Fve heard of her." 

"Well, she's the head of a house outside the Western Gate 
of Forthrightness. She has many connections among the lowest- 
class 'white houses' and she might have some information about 
Little Lucky One." 


379 



'Tour heart is truly good. I must leave now, but I will come 
by this corner another day to see yt)u." Happy Boy could not go 
quickly enough; in one breath he ran all the way to the Western 
Gate of Forthrightness, 

As soon as he was outside the portals he felt the empty quiet 
of the unending countryside. In the distance he could soon see 
the cool, remote Western Hills. To the north of the railway 
tracks there was a wooded stretch, and as he traversed that he 
saw, beyond, a cluster of low-ceilinged structures. He calculated 
that these in all probability made up the "white house'' he was 
looking for. The leaves in the trees around him were without 
movement. Far off to the north was the marshy ground outside 
the Garden of Ten Thousand Living Things. 

There was no movement, either, around the little houses; 
everything— far and near— was so tranquil that he began to 
doubt whether this after all was the "white house" he was seek- 
ing. Plucking up his courage, he walked toward the center room. 
On its door was a new door-screen of grass matting, freshly hung 
and of a glossy yellow color. He remembered now having heard 
that in houses like these— catering to the poorest of wayfarers— 
the women sat outside their doors in the summertime, bare to 
the waist, hailing passers-by. And men coming to patronize them 
were supposed to begin singing the "Song of the Potter's Shop" 
—a whorehouse tune — as soon as they came within earshot, to 
show forth the fact that they were "insiders," long members of 
the guild. Why was it so quiet now? Could it possibly be that 
they had all gone to the temples to celebrate the festival? 

Just as he was hesitating, the grass screen on the door of the 
room to the side of the middle one moved a little, and a woman's 
head came out. Happy Boy started: that head, when you first 
looked at it, was extraordinarily like Tiger Girl's. He said to him- 
self in his heart: "I've come looking for Little Lucky One; if I 
should find Tiger Girl, I'd be seeing ghosts in all truth." 

"Come in, you stupid boobyl" It was the head speaking; the 

380 



tone of the voice was not Tiger Girl's, but throaty and hoarse, 
very much like the rasping urgency of the hawkers of medicinal 
herbs at the Bridge of Heaven. 

There was nothing at all in the room except the woman and 
a couple of wooden planks laid across two mules to serve as a 
bed. The stench was so heavy it was hard to breathe. There was 
a dirty strip of bedding over the boards, shiny with grease and 
age. The woman's hair was dirty and dishevelled and she had not 
washed her face. On the lower part of her body she wore light 
cotton trousers, while above she had on a single dark cloth jacket 
that she had left unbuttoned. 

Happy Boy had to bring his head away down to get in 
through the doorway. The moment he had entered the room she 
embraced him, the jacket opening wide to display a pair of the 
longest and biggest breasts he had ever seen. 

Because he could not lift his head or stretch his neck as long 
as he stood up, he sat down on the bed. This woman was with- 
out any doubt ''White Flour Sacks" herself, and in his heart he 
was elated that he had found her. It was clear to see from what 
her familiar name had come. 

The story was that with one flip she could toss those breasts 
■of hers over her shoulders. Travellers who came to her as patrons 
frequently asked her, as a supplement to her regular labors, to 
perform that trick for them. But her fame did not come alone 
from these extraordinarily large udders. She was the only known 
case of an inmate of a "white house" who retained her freedom; 
she had entered of her own free will. It was the legend that she 
had had five husbands; that each one had dried up like fat pork 
that is fried too long and then died, whereafter she had given up 
getting married and entered a brothel to enjoy what in her single 
case was literally a kind of happiness. 

Since she was independent, she was not afraid to talk; if you 
wanted to spy out anything of the affairs of the "white houses" 
you had to come to her: the other women were all afraid to 

381 


disclose anything. As a result everyone knew of her, and there 
was no end to the people coming to ask her questions. Naturally, 
if you wanted to know something, you still had to give her tea 
money, so that her business was not only better than that of the 
others but a little lighter as well. 

Happy Boy knew of this custom, and first paid the tea money. 
'"White Flour Sacks’^ understood his intentions, and did not 
press herself any further upon him. With the directness of a 
man who when he wants to see a mountain opens his front door 
and looks out, he asked her if she had seen anyone called Little 
Lucky One. 

She didn’t know and hadn’t heard of any such person. 

Wlien Happy Boy had described to her in detail what Little 
Lucky One looked like, it came to her. 

"Yes, Yes! There’s just such a person right here. She’s young, 
and given to showing those white teeth of hers. That’s right. We 
all call her Tittle Tender Flesh’!” 

"What room is she in?” Suddenly Happy Boy’s eyes had 
opened wide and become bright with a killing brightness. 

The color of the woman’s face changed. "You can’t see her.” 

"I’ve got to see her!” 

"She’s dying.” 

Happy Boy leapt from the bed, his face white with rage. 

"You take me to her or I’ll kill you!” he shrieked in her face. 

"I thought— I only meant— I’ll take you.” She understood 
that the moment might have a desperate issue, and the blood 
pounded in her head as she hastened to lead the way. 

It was in the corner cabin, in what light the late afternoon 
shed through the half-open door lattice, that he saw her lying. 
In truth it was she! 

He knelt beside the bed, calling her by name: "Little Lucky 
One!” 

Her face was thin and sallow, and under the dirty sheet her 
body seemed now as small as a child’s. Slowly her eyes opened, 

382 


her lips parted, showing her white teeth, and she smiled in recog- 
nition. 

''Happy Boy?'' There was no breath behind her voice, so that, 
although it was quite distinct, it sounded like a distant whisper. 
After a moment she spoke again. "Elder Brother, why have you 
come so late?" 

Happy Boy's heart was frantic. "I couldn't find you!" 

"Ah! I came here last winter. Little Brother died of sickness. 
Then papa fell down drunk in the street and froze to death, and 
when that happened the other brother ran aw^ay. After I had 
paid the burial expenses there was no money left for rent. There 
was nothing I could do and no place I could go. This was the 
only house that wmuld take me." 

"What sickness has she?" Happy Boy asked, looking up over 
his shoulder at "White Flour Sacks." 

"Who knows? She’ hasn't eaten for three days. She couldn't 
stand the life." 

"I want to take her out. Aren't you the manager?" 

"What? Nobody leaves this place alive who isn't bought out 
of it. Don't despise the establishment because the rooms are 
small. The place and the women in it are owned by Second 
Brother Chu, the great philanthropist and one of the most in- 
fluential men in five provinces. You won't live long if you try to 
take any cheap advantage of him." 

"All right. At least you can give her some food to eat." 

"She won't eat." 

"Yes, I will!" whispered Little Lucky One. 

Happy Boy got up, his body cramped in the little room. He 
glared down at "White Flour Sacks." "Get some food!'' 

The woman went out. 

This girl, this quiet figure lying there without complaint, was 
his life. She must not die. He could not let her die. Nor could 
he leave her here, in all the stench and rottenness of this vile 
hole. He had to have her; without her he would go on stumbling 

.383 



blindly down the road of One Pock Li and so many others; with 
her at his side, they w^ould both have a chance. 

There was even in his heart the wordless hope that together 
they might work some harm on the things that meant to destroy 
them, that they might find a way to serve in the forces fighting 
the principle of evil that ruled under heaven. 

But what should he do? In spite of the fact that Little Lucky 
One was of no use to them now, yet when they discovered how 
much lie wanted her. Second Brother Chu and ''White Flour 
Sacks"' would ask him a price that he might never be able to pay. 

The agony of these feelings made his head wet and the palms 
of his hands moist. It would be better for both Little Lucky One 
and himself to die now than that he should go out of this hut 
without her. 

Suddenly he knew what he meant to do: no one could stop 
him! 

With quick movements he lifted the frail body up, folding 
the sheet about it, and, crouching to get through the door, he 
sped as fast as he could across the clearing into the woods. 

In the mild coolness of summer evening the burden in his 
arms stirred slightly, nestling closer to his body as he ran. She 
was alive. He was alive. Tliey were free. 




^Illahabad AGRICULTURAL 
INSTITUTE LIBRARY 


No. 

Title Rickshaw Boy, 


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