Mrs. Spring Fragrance by Edith Maude Eaton
Tales of Chinese Children
Pat and Pan
They lay there, in the entrance to the joss house, sound asleep in each other's arms. Her tiny face was hidden upon his bosom and his white, upturned chin rested upon her black, rosetted head.
It was that white chin which caused the passing Mission woman to pause and look again at the little pair. Yes, it was a white boy and a little Chinese girl; he, about five, she, not more than three years old.
"Whose is that boy?" asked the Mission woman of the peripatetic vender of Chinese fruits and sweetmeats.
"That boy! Oh, him is boy of Lum Yook that make the China gold ring and bracelet."
"But he is white."
"Yes, him white; but all same, China boy. His mother, she not have any white flend, and the wife of Lum Yook give her lice and tea, so when she go to the land of spilit, she give her boy to the wife of Lum Yook. Lady, you want buy lichi?"
While Anna Harrison was extracting a dime from her purse the black, rosetted head slowly turned and a tiny fist began rubbing itself into a tiny face.
"Well, chickabiddy, have you had a nice nap?"
"Tjo ho! tjo ho!"
The black eyes gazed solemnly and disdainfully at the stranger.
"She tell you to be good," chuckled the old man.
"Oh, you quaint little thing!"
The quaint little thing hearing herself thus apostrophized, turned herself around upon the bosom of the still sleeping boy and, reaching her arms up to his neck, buried her face again under his chin. This, of course, awakened him. He sat up and stared bewilderedly at the Mission woman.
"What is the boy's name? " she asked, Noting his gray eyes and rosy skin.
His reply, though audible, was wholly unintelligible to the American woman.
"He talk only Chinese talk," said the old man,
Anna Harrison was amazed. A white boy in America talking only Chinese talk! She placed her bag of lichis beside him and was amused to see the little girl instantly lean over her companion and possess herself of it. The boy made no attempt to take it from her, and the little thing opened the bag and cautiously peeped in. What she saw evoked a chirrup of delight. Quickly she brought forth one of the browny-red fruit nuts, crushed and pulled off its soft shelL But to the surprise of the Mission woman, instead of putting it into her own mouth, she thrust the sweetish, dried pulp into that of her companion. She repeated this operation several times, then cocking her little head on one side, asked:
"Ho 'm ho? Is it good or bad?"
"Ho! ho!" answered the boy, removing several pits from his mouth and shaking his head to signify that he had had enough. Whereupon the little girl tasted herself of the fruit.
"Pat! Pan! Pat! Pan!" called a woman's voice, and a sleek-headed, kindly-faced matron in dark blue pantalettes and tunic, wearing double hooped gold earrings, appeared around the corner. Hearing her voice, the boy jumped up with a merry laugh and ran out and slowly followed him.
"Him mother!" informed the lichi man.
When Anna Harrison, some months later, opened her school for white and Chinese children in Chinatown, she determined that Pat, the adopted son of Lum Yook, the Chinese jeweller, should learn to speak his mother tongue. For a white boy to grow up as a Chinese was unthinkable. The second time she saw him, it was some kind of a Chinese holiday, and he was in great glee over a row of red Chinese candles and punk which he was burning on the curb of the street, in company with a number of Chinese urchins. Pat's candle was giving a brighter and bigger flame than any of the others, and he was jumping up and down with his legs doubled under him from the knees like an india-rubber ball, while Pan, from the doorstep of her father's store, applauded him in vociferous, infantile Chinese.
Miss Harrison laid her hand upon the boy's shoulder and spoke to him. It had not been very difficult for her to pick up a few Chinese phrases. Would he not like to come to her school and see some pretty pictures? Pat shook his ruddy curls and looked at Pan. Would Pan come too? Yes, Pan would. Pan's memory was good, and so were lichis and shredded cocoanut candy.
Of course Pan was too young to go to school — a mere baby; but if Pat could not be got without Pan, why then Pan must come too. Lum Yook and his wife, upon being interviewed, were quite willing to have Pat learn English. The foster-father could speak a little of the language himself; but as he used it only when in business or when speaking to Americans, Pat had not benefited thereby. However, he was more eager than otherwise to have Pat learn "the speech of his ancestors," and promised that he would encourage the little ones to practise "American" together when at home.
So Pat and Pan went to the Mission school, and for the first time in their lives suffered themselves to be divided, for Pat had to sit with the boys and tiny Pan had a little red chair near Miss Harrison, beside which were placed a number of baby toys. Pan was not supposed to learn, only to play.
But Pan did learn. In a year's time, although her talk was more broken and babyish, she had a better English vocabulary than had Pat. Moreover, she could sing hymns and recite verses in a high, shrill voice; whereas Pat, though he tried hard enough, poor little fellow, was unable to memorize even a sentence. Naturally, Pat did not like school as well as did Pan, and it was only Miss Harrison's persistent ambition for him that kept him there.
One day, when Pan was five and Pat was seven, the little girl, for the first time, came to school alone.
"Where is Pat?" asked the teacher.
"Pat, he is sick today," replied Pan.
"Sick!" echoed Miss Harrison. "Well, that is too bad. Poor Pat! What is the matter with him?"
"A big dog bite him."
That afternoon, the teacher, on her way to see the bitten Pat, beheld him up an alley busily engaged in keeping five tops spinning at one time, while several American boys stood around, loudly admiring the Chinese feat.
The next morning Pat received five strokes from a cane which Miss Harrison kept within her desk and used only on special occasions. These strokes made Pat's right hand tingle smartly; but he received them with smiling grace.
Miss Harrison then turned to five year old Pan, who had watched the caning with tearful interest.
"Pan!" said the teacher, "you have been just as haughty as Pat, and you must be punished too."
"I not stay away flom school!" protested Pan.
"No," — severely — "you did not stay away from school; but you told me a dog had bitten Pat, and that was not true. Little girls must not say what is not true. Teacher does not like to slap Pan's hands, but she must do it, so that Pan will remember that she must not say what is not true. Come here!"
Pan, hiding her face in her sleeve, sobbingly arose.
The teacher leaned forward and pulling down the uplifted arm, took the small hand in her own and slapped it. She was about to do this a second time when Pat bounded from his seat, pushed Pan aside, and shaking his little fist in the teacher's face, dared her in a voice hoarse with passion:
"You hurt my Pan again! You hurt my Pan again!"
They were not always lovers — those two. It was aggravating to Pat, when the teacher finding he did not know his verse, would turn to Pan and say:
"Well, Pan, let us hear you."
And Pan, who was the youngest child in school and unusually small for her years, would pharisaically clasp her tiny fingers and repeat word for word the verse desired to be heard.
"I hate you, Pan!" muttered Pat on one such occasion.
Happily Pan did not hear him. She was serenely singing:
"Yesu love me, t'is I know, For the Bible tell me so."
But though a little seraph in the matter of singing hymns and repeating verses, Pan, for a small Chinese girl, was very mischievous. Indeed, she was the originator of most of the mischief which Pat carried out with such spirit. Nevertheless, when Pat got into trouble, Pan, though sympathetic, always had a lecture for him, "Too bad, too bad! Why not you be good like me?" admonished she one day when he was suffering "consequences."
Pat looked down upon her with wrathful eyes.
"Why," he asked, "is bad people always so good?"
The child of the white woman, who had been given a babe into the arms of the wife of Lum Yook, was regarded as their own by the Chinese jeweller and his wife, and they bestowed upon him equal love and care with the little daughter who came two years after him. If Mrs. Lum Yook showed any favoritism whatever, it was to Pat. He was the first she had cradled to her bosom; the first to gladden her heart with baby smiles and wiles; the first to call her Ah Ma; the first to love her. On his eighth birthday, she said to her husband: "The son of the white woman is the son of the white woman, and there are many tongues wagging because he lives under our roof. My heart is as heavy as the blackest heavens."
"Peace, my woman," answered the easy-going man. "Why should we trouble before trouble comes?"
When trouble did come it was met calmly and bravely. To the comfortably off American and wife who were to have the boy and "raise him as an American boy should be raised," they yielded him without protest. But deep in their hearts was the sense of injustice and outraged love. If it had not been for their pity for the unfortunate white girl, their care and affection for her helpless offspring, there would have been no white boy for others to "raise."
And Pat and Pan? "I will not leave my Pan! I will not leave my Pan!" shouted Pat.
"But you must!" sadly urged Lum Yook. "You are a white boy and Pan is Chinese."
"I am Chinese too! I am Chinese too!" cried Pat.
"He Chinese! He Chinese!" pleaded Pan. Her little nose was swollen with crying; her little eyes red-rimmed.
But Pat was driven away.
Pat, his schoolbooks under his arm, was walking down the hill, whistling cheerily. His roving glance down a side street was suddenly arrested.
"Gee!" he exclaimed. "If that isn't Pan! Pan, oh, Pan!" he shouted.
Pan turned. There was a shrill cry of delight, and Pan was clinging to Pat, crying: "Nice Pat! Good Pat!"
Then she pushed him away from her and scanned him from head to foot.
"Nice coat! Nice boot! How many dollars?" she queried.
Pat laughed good-humoredly. "I don't know," he answered. "Mother bought them."
"Mother!" echoed Pan. She puckered her brows for a moment.
"You are grown big, Pat," was her next remark.
"And you have grown little, Pan," retorted Pat. It was a year since they had seen one another and Pan was much smaller than any of his girl schoolfellows.
"Do you like, to go to the big school?" asked Pan, noticing the books.
"I don't like it very much. But, say, Pan, I learn lots of things that you don't know anything about."
Pan eyed him wistfully. Finally she said: "O Pat! A-Toy, she die."
"A-Toy! Who is A-Toy?"
"The meow, Pat; the big gray meow! Pat, you have forgot to remember."
Pat looked across A-Toy's head and far away.
"Chinatown is very nice now," assured Pan. "Hum Lock has two trays of brass beetles in his store and Ah Ma has many flowers!"
"I would like to see the brass beetles," said Pat.
"And father's new glass case?"
"And Ah Ma's flowers?"
"Then come, Pat."
"I can't, Pan!"
Again Pat was walking home from school this time in company with some boys. Suddenly a glad little voice sounded in his ear. It was Pan's.
"Ah, Pat!" cried she joyfully. "I find you! I find you!"
"Hear the China kid!" laughed one of the boys.
Then Pat turned upon Pan. "Get away from me," he shouted. "Get away from me!"
And Pan did get away from him — just as fast as her little legs could carry her. But when she reached the foot of the hill, she looked up and shook her little head sorrowfully. "Poor Pat!" said she. "He Chinese no more; he Chinese no more!"