Signs of the times: The coming
The Governor of Manchuria, Chang Tso-Lin, had been a bandit chief in the Kirin mountains. In spite of this, or because of it, he was quite a good Governor. Taxes were not paid years in advance, as was the oppression practised in China proper in many provinces; there was general peace and law and order, rough justice, and freedom of religion, and freedom for the Christian Church. He was an astute politician also, `playing' the Japanese quite cleverly as they tried ways of infiltrating the country. Already the Liao-Tung Peninsula was leased to them as a sphere
of influence; they owned or controlled a section of railway line, but what they really wanted was to expand as they had in Korea, and take over the whole country. Manchuria had already been called `the cockpit of Asia'-between Russia and Japan. It was Governor Chang who stood in the way.
Chang Tso-Lin was trying to strengthen his position by alliances with other warlords, and had been to Peking. Now was the chance for Japan to strike, by blowing up the Governor's train as it neared its capital, Moukden. From a culvert the explosives were laid to be detonated at the right time, and Japanese soldiers were at the very gates of the city, ready to take over. The explosion happened, the train was wrecked, but reports went out immediately that the Governor, though wounded, had not been killed. The local Mission doctor was called urgently-and found himself seated in a large car beside a dead man. The Governor was to be kept alive officially until his son arrived to succeed him. The doctor had quite a time, entering into the spirit of the thing he issued bulletins galore for Japanese consumption; while in the Palace he was kept equally busy attending to the Governor's twenty-six wives who all made token gestures of committing suicide in some way-not all at once, fortunately. The Governor's son returned to take command, the Governor at last `died', but it was by then too late for the Japanese to do anything more.
There was only a short breathing space, however; for the Governor's son was not the man his father had been. Japanese tactics were the same as one sees today in industry, etc.-fomenting and stirring up trouble. Beginning in the country, they armed and trained local bandits to attack small towns and villages. Then such places were to be forced to ask the Japanese for protection-which of course was granted!-the Japanese took over. To the outside world went the news: `They, the Japanese troops, had gone in at the request of the local people' and `to protect the country from bandits.' By 1931 they had officially taken over everywhere. The Japanese are not good colonisers, and in Manchuria they were both cruel and stupid. They lived off the land, confiscating anything and everything they wanted. Manchuria was condemned to suffer under them for fifteen long years.
Travels with a donkey
Our way of travelling, where there was no railway, was usually by mule cart (three miles an hour) or ox cart (one mile an hour!) or just walking, with someone carrying our bedding rolls at each end of a carrying pole. Now there were no mules to be hired, or oxen farm carts, they had all been taken. I recalled the song about `The beautiful Miss Brady with her private ass and cart', and bought a donkey! And learned to drive it, in Chinese. It could pull a small, light cart, carrying our stuff and take one of us at a time, the other leading. We called the donkey Timothy, as he was `the helper of the Church', and set off into Mongolia where there were little hamlets of Chinese-Mongol Christians. This kind of country had now real bandits, not the sort used by the Japanese, but guerillas attacking Japanese outposts. We travelled country where Japanese soldiers dared not go: I can still remember the lonely hillsides where we would unyoke Timothy, and make a fire and cook our eggs and rice and rest a while before the next trek. In one place where we were working-I was telling a Bible story to a scattering of people, there was a guerilla chief with the nick-name of `How are you all?' This name was given him because it was what he said when he came upon a small garrison of Japanese before shooting the lot. The door opened, and in came `How are you all?' with his `army' or some of them. My class of locals showed a disposition to disperse. My heart missed a beat, remembering all those admonitions about `No Ransom', but my Chinese colleague, Miss Wang, with the greatest presence of mind, bowed the gentlemen to seats and started to make tea! So of course I carried on with the story until tea was ready, then `How are you all' and I conversed together in the politest way. My fair hair he accepted as a sign of advanced years (thought it was white), and I did not disillusion him, but instead made the correct enquiries about his aged parents and their welfare and we got on famously. Some of the local people advised us, when we were about to leave, to go secretly. We could not imagine how our presence, coming or going, and the donkey, could be kept secret. So we did the opposite: published it abroad, the time of our leaving next morning. `How are you all' came to say goodbye, and to say: `I have given orders that no matter where you go, you are not to be molested.' That really was wonderful, for we travelled much in that country later; but we were careful not to take too much `protection' for granted, so would scan the sky-line as we went along. Guerillas were very superstitious, and avoided a play on words which augured misfortune; in fact, they had a `secret language' for many things. We learned this too, and it worked for our protection too. Eventually `How are you all' was killed by the Japanese. I had written home about this and expressed sadness. A letter came from an old lady, trying to console me: `for the loss of your bandit friend . . . but no doubt' she added `the Lord will raise up another!'
As time passed, the oppression of the Japanese on the people became heavier, and the conflict with the Church began, and persecutions. Roads were being constructed, by local press-gang labour, for the armies to march on. Our Fakumen magistrate courageously tried to get some relief for bringing in the harvest. `As men are all away, and nobody but women and, children to reap the harvest, could not road-making wait for a month?' The answer was of course `No'. 'Ali well,' said our magistrate, `I just thought I'd ask; but one can't expect the doctor and the coffin-maker to see eye to eye!'
No-man's land town
This was a very difficult place in which to work, partly owing to the mixture of races, Mongolian and Chinese of fairly low mentality in each race; their `out of the world' situation on the border but off the caravan routes and having little contact with civilised ways. Someone long ago, in pioneer days, had rashly baptized people here, forming the nucleus of a Church which was not on a strong foundation. It is far harder to change a garment to the right shape when it has not been well cut to start with. The time came when Miss Wang and I were due to go again, and we planned to go by the direct route over the hills in a cart, about fourteen hours travelling. The season was late autumn and cold, but the snow still a long way off, according to the calendar. A surprise fall of snow on the very day we were to go meant that the hill route would be impossible. The other way was a day's journey to the railway, a short train journey, then overland again, like going round three sides of a rectangle. There were those who said that the unexpected snow was a `sign' which surely meant not to go at all. We agreed it could be a `sign', but did not agree with the interpretation thereof. We had better `test our sign'.
We set out on a cold and miserable journey, and next day alighted from the train, to find that our next means of travel was on a kind of cart, like a table top on one wheel, on a single rail. This means of travel was a left-over from Russo-Japanese war days, a method, perhaps, of conveying ammunition or supplies, over hill and dale. Some sort of lever started the cart on the rail, thence it careered of its own volition down the hillsides, gaining such impetus that it took us partly up the next slope. We sat cross-legged on it, side by side, facing front, letting ourselves go with the cart. To do otherwise would mean being shot off into space! On the upward slope, one had to watch for another cart coming in the opposite direction, and hastily lift off one's own cart, off the rail, to let the other whizz by.
By the afternoon we were over the hills and went to get some food at an inn. Here we heard that a fierce band of Mongol bandits were `somewhere on the border'. We did the rest of the journey on foot, but nearing our destination met refugees, a common sight in those days. To our polite enquiry: `Is the road
peaceful?' we received the reply: 'If you don't meet anyone, it is!' As dusk fell, we arrived at the East Gate; a long, wide, high street stretched in front, and most of the buildings on either side were smouldering after fire. At some places hung bodies; and there were dead on the streets. Arson, looting, murder, torture to reveal where wealth was hidden-this was what had been happening. Where were the bandits now? They had not long ago left by the West Gate, as we were nearing the East one. If the snow had not come, and we had travelled direct through the hills, we should have met this horde, and that probably would have been the end of us too. As it was, there was so much to do: gathering people together, seeing to the sick and wounded and ill-used; organising to put out fires, to save something from the wreck, to comfort. The very small and weak Church suddenly found itself called upon for service and sacrifice, every one of them, as too, did all people of good will. I cannot remember, but I think it was some days before we got down to what some people would call `proper missionary work!' When we did, our audience had all the time in the world to listen, indeed would not go away: crowd after crowd assembled until we had to ask them to allow us some time to rest. That day the `weak' Church began to grow strong.
`You can always take one with you'
Miss Wang and I had boarded the night train to go north again, to our farthest away place, the church at Solitary Spring. No seats were vacant, so we sat on our bedding rolls just inside the long Pullman-type carriage. Actually there were empty seats, but many Japanese soldiers occupied the place of three people, lying stretched out asleep. Near us and opposite a sleeping soldier were two Chinese schoolgirls. We saw them swallowing something, sweets or medicine tablets, we thought; then suddenly there was pandemonium! One girl snatched the knife from the soldier's belt and stabbed him with it. We cowered in our corner while the girls were overpowered. People were being pushed around, but being outside the carriage proper, all we had seen was the sudden flash of the knife. It transpired that the `sweets' the girls had swallowed were opium tablets which they thought would kill them before the Japanese did. Both girls had had brothers executed by the Japanese: as well, they were hysterical with despair about their country `occupied'. We arrived at the next station and saw the last of the schoolgirls, bound and roped, bruised and bleeding, but still shouting through their tears: `Down with Japan! China for ever!' It was a sad sight, and a very quiet, white-faced lot of passengers for the rest of the night. The shock was still with us as after a day's journey more we came to Solitary Spring, there to be greeted by the local band, and school children singing a welcome. We were so distressed and fatigued that we hardly knew how to respond to them or speak properly.
Welcoming the invader
Our border town, being on a frontier, had a small garrison of soldiers under the magistrate. Word came that the Japanese would arrive soon, and wanted an assurance that they would be `welcomed'-flags flying, etc. The flying of a particular flag meant little or nothing to ordinary people. Most households had a variety of such in stock: New China, Old China, and various Japanese ones, whichever victorious army chose to pass by, people flew whichever flag would please them! So there was no problem there. And there was no denying our visitors if they wished to come; they were `assured' of a welcome. However, some bright spirits in the garrison felt more deeply about it, and arranged secretly to ambush some of the troops as they came through the Pass. This they afterwards did, and some Japanese were killed. Therefore with anything but peaceful intentions, the Japanese soldiers made for the town at top speed for revenge. We had almost no warning before they were at the East Gate, breaking it down; others to save time tumbled over the near-by wall, which happened to be the Mission compound, girls' school and hospital. When our Chinese cook came out to intercept them, he was commandeered to lead them to the `yamen'-the court-house and magistrate's residence. I happened to be near the compound gate when I heard the row, and was concerned for Mrs. O'Neill (senior missionary) whose house was just opposite the compound gate. The East Gate was between us, across the road. There at her door was Mrs. O'Neill being anxious about me! I crossed the road to her, and as we stood in the shelter of the archway she was able to tell me more. Word of the ambush and its likely consequences had earlier been known at the yamen, so the magistrate had gone into hiding, and his staff had fled-all but one responsible person who had run for Dr. O'Neill. (The senior missionary was held in high esteem in the town, a person to be consulted in civic matters.) So Dr. O'Neill had sent someone poste-haste to bring the French priest (of the Catholic Mission some distance away), who could speak some Japanese. A number of Japanese could speak a little French. There was also our Church pastor and a couple of elders, of whom one spoke Japanese, the other some French as he had been in the Chinese Labour Battalion in the first World War. These all converged on the empty yamen to be the receiving party. What Mrs. O'Neill and I saw was the first rush of Japanese through the gate, making horrible noises of revenge, while in front, running like a rabbit, was our cook! `To the yamen!' was the cry. We managed to shout to him: `Take them the long way round!' It was touch and go-the welcoming delegation just in time to be there before the army, making apologies for the mistake, talking all manner of blarney in three languages, to the effect that if the soldiers would not loot but go again peaceably, each would receive a wrist-watch (one of the Christians had a shop which stocked such), and a tremendous feast as well.
And so it was; they were fed and rewarded, and did go. But before going they broke down the gates and defences all round the town. Our town defence was not a wall, but a fence which could be electrified. (Some years before an electric plant was given to the town by a former resident, a case of poor boy becoming rich and remembering his home town. The electricity failed at least once a week, but all the same it was a help.) Outside this fence was a deep, wide ditch, not easy to get into or out of. We knew the Japanese to be people who did not keep their word, and would plan for eventual revenge, so this action of breaking down our defences was ominous. We were being left open to attack by the Mongolian bandits who would be sent to do the sacking of the town for them. The magistrate had not reappeared, so pro tem Dr. O'Neill, with the Chinese pastor, was asked to direct operations.
First step: Repairs of defences, everyone called out: it was like Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem! Soldiers, militia, volunteers, manned the mud ramparts armed with guns, pikes, spades, hoes, hatchets, and homemade bombs. Grain was bonded to be rationed out. Vegetables were brought in from the fields outside. Also there flooded into the town from outside villages about a thousand refugees. Not a day too soon we were ready. Five days after the departure of the Japanese we were besieged by the dreaded Mongolian force, well armed with small arms plus an ancient cannon firing cannon balls. The siege was on in earnest.
The girls' school, hospital and missionary house were just inside the perimeter trench and electrified fencing and in line with the electricity station which had a tall chimney. The attackers aimed at the chimney with their cannon, so the old-fashioned cannon balls passed over the school to reach their target! One or two fell in the playground, short shots, and made good big holes; of the others, none hit the chimney. The Christian schools did not close, for the girls's school had more than fifty boarders, and nowhere to send them to in any case. It was common sense to have school as usual, and some day pupils continued to come. Of course there were adjustments: partial blocking of the windows against stray bullets, no playground activity, and instructions about lying flat if firing began when a child was outside. The teachers and children seemed quite fearless, holding their own little group meetings for prayer. The respect in which the Christian Church was held by the whole community was a revelation to me at this time, especially in one of the emergency ventures of caring for refugees. A Moslem school for boys had closed, and its governors agreed that the thousand or so refugees from the surrounding countryside might be housed there, if the Christian Church would `cope' with the organising. It `coped' in one way by asking the Buddhists to go grain collecting for the
food needed. This sort of job was just `up their street'; they would `acquire merit' by such work, and nobody begrudged them a bit of merit so earned. As well as organising, the Church also gave medical care. We had no doctor then, but the senior nurse and dispenser with the available staff worked wonders. School teachers and others went in rota to teach the children and play with them. It was the `other religions' who after some days actually asked that the Christians should `tell Bible stories to comfort the people'. So we were given evangelistic opportunity as well. Just good manners had restrained us till now: we were all working together, people of good will, Moslem, Buddhist, Christian.
Of these days much remains a blur of hard work and anxiety. The discomfort of not undressing at night became a trial as the days wore on. People began to feel the strain, as on the hills we saw the flames of burning villages or farms where the bandits had been. But there were miracles to ponder upon: that though our school was in such a dangerous position, we had escaped direct hit or injury. In normal days, the electricity supply was an uncertain quantity, a power failure every few days. Now it had not failed for over a month, day or night, and presumably the bandits did not know how to damage the protecting fence. The time came when the besiegers were possibly worse off than the besieged, for food supplies. Then our pastor had his good idea. (He was very much the Chinese ideal of a man of integrity. Small of stature and shortsighted, he yet had great dignity, and very good manners, was a student of the Classics, and much respected for his wise ways and common sense.) His `good idea' was that our small number of trained soldiers should make a noisy `sortie' from one of the gates, as though we were expecting immediate help. `Why go out, otherwise?' would be the bandit reasoning. This plan was carried out with great gusto and shouting from the besieged to those outside, and this primitive psychological warfare worked! The besiegers retired, the siege was broken. A great fuss was made of the local heroes who had ventured forth. The Church rewarded them with five pigs (feast food for the body) and five hundred copies of the Gospels (ditto for the soul), and `a good time was had by all'.
Real officialdom came back into its own, as the emergency was over. The Church in its various ways and sections held a week-end Retreat, mostly quiet rest, singing and praying together and finishing with a Communion service. `After those days, many were added to the Lord.' The anti-climax came from Moukden, the capital. There were complaints that we had not filled up statistic forms nor answered letters. They did not even know we had been besieged for over a month.
I used to think then, and now think I was probably right in so thinking, that because Fakumen had survived the Japanese-planned siege, because the
Church had done so much then, it was the reason for the extra attention and persecutions we had afterwards. The pressures increased, the harrassments became more varied and intricate. Schools were one target; pressure to have us take part in shrine worship (the Japanese Emperor divine). Hardly a week passed that there was not some ceremony like a Cenotaph remembrance of the death of Japanese soldiers, to which school children must go. So long as we were not asked to take part in incense burning nor worship, we could compromise. Next was, that school children must undertake `civil and social work'. The girls' school was delegated to cleaning out an open sewer in our area. (There was no sewerage system in the town.) Our girls did this fearfully dirty job, and did it well! What is more, having time left over, they tidied up a good part of the street as well. It was real `second mile' spirit. Children are very quick to pick up whatever mood is expected. I have seen them in the playground suddenly being `doing something useful', or gardening, and sing merrily at the same time. The reason? One had seen and signalled the others that Japanese were coming in. Hence, `Manchurian children happy under the new educational system' made good headlines, the Japanese were pleased, and when they were pleased, we would be left alone for a while.
There was a new emphasis on drill and discipline and loyalty to the Emperor and Manchuria. Drill every morning, unfurling the flag (the new one), delivery of the Emperor's Edict to the headmistress to be read to all. This was indeed quite a performance. The `Edict' was wrapped in yellow silk; the headmistress ascended a rostrum, the Edict was handed to her, the handler bowing low. She received it with both hands and bowing low, opened and read it to us assembled and we bowed low. Then followed the new national anthem, to the effect that `Between Heaven and Earth, had come into being a new nation, a new Manchuria, a new Heaven-on-earth!'
All the school lessons were now Japan-orientated. In athletics, for instance, the winning team was always the one which had struck the right political note. Girls's education was reduced to the minimum of the three R's, enough to do the shopping; but there were many cultural subjects like how to serve tea, how to hand a man his hat!-in short, how to be an attractive door-mat. I used to feel so sorry for our teachers, for Chinese women did have a higher place, and all this was degrading. The best way was to make fun of it. `I'll be the husband, you hand me my hat, and dear help you if you don't do it right!' We took the attitude: `We have to do these new things (and they are not all bad), so let's do them well.'
The most ridiculous regulations concerned school books: We must not have any book which had been printed in Shanghai, not even an arithmetic. The
Shanghai Commercial Press, whose founder was the father of Madame Chiang Kai Shek, was where nearly all books came from. Sometimes we could manage
by just taking off the covers, or stroke out the word `China', but others could not easily be changed and they had cost money, so we were loth to destroy them. Such were gathered and put in the window seat of the Mission house living room-a seat which slid forward and had space beneath, not noticeable when closed. There was a small school library also, but all seemed harmless, `Little Women' and such-like. `They' arrived for spot inspection. Every desk, every locker, was searched for unauthorised books, and, alas, they found one, a biography of China's president, Chiang K'ai
Shek, photograph, Chinese flag and all! It had somehow fallen down between the library cupboard shelf and a wall. So the three searchers brought it in triumph to me. I had already invited our guests to tea, and at that time had the invaluable help of a young colleague, Miss Marion Young. She arranged our guests sitting on the window seat while they had their tea. Little did they know over what they were sitting! Then began the parley over the forbidden book, I taking the blame as not having been careful enough in my search. One thing led to another-the tea was good, the cakes to their liking, and at last one man said he would take the book back to his office and destroy it for me there. The book was on a table between us and I was nearer the fire, so I picked it up and said I wouldn't dream of giving him such a task: instead he should see me do what was necessary. Before he could stop me I had it in the fire, and Marion Young saw to it that it burned.
A certain church in Moukden was more careless about books. From the school they had been collected, put in boxes and stored in a room on Church premises. Among them were pictures and books which were certainly
anti-Japanese and political, not mere school text-books. And there they lay, forgotten. If they had been discovered on Church premises, there would have been great trouble. As it was, the missionary there himself did some checking and found this potential `dynamite', had it removed to his own house, which had a cellar and a boiler, and two of us there that day began `the burning of the books'. The weather was cold, and so were most houses, so when the Japanesc arrived they remarked on the nice warm atmosphere. The missionary was ready with the explanation of a delicate wife who could not stand cold. All was well; they did not search the house. If they had gone to the cellar they would have found two very hot and dirty women stoking the boiler-to save the church.
The minister of this Moukden Church could be described as `harmless as a dove' but certainly not `wise as a serpent', and in Japanese occupied territory
you needed to be both. Some of his innocent remarks made the Japanese suspect him and he was arrested and thrown into prison. The Japanese tortured prisoners, often using the water torture-forcing liquid into a person until they were nearly drowned. With this pastor they broke all the bones in his hands and fingers. The interrogator would begin his horrible work at a certain time each day; at stated times stop for food and rest, and talk in quite a friendly way to the prisoner, then at the appointed time by the clock, begin again. There was not any confession to be extracted from the pastor-he did not have one to make. Eventually after seventy-two days, just before Christmas, he was released.
While their minister was in prison, what was happening to his congregation? Had it melted away? No, various folk took charge. There were special prayer meetings, and the class preparing for baptism continued. In prison, the minister on being told he was to be released, straightway invited his torturer to come to the Christmas service! (He did not come, instead he committed suicide.) But the pastor came back to his people on Christmas Day, finding seventy-two waiting for baptism, one for every day he had been away. With his broken hands, this was his first task.
In another place, there was another minister, a marvellously eloquent preacher, who was also imprisoned for a time, but released on a Sunday morning. He only took time to wash and shave, then was back to church to preach on the text `Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it.' This same man, in the year he was Moderator of Assembly, looked over the crowd, seeing us as we indeed were, fearful, despondent, with little hope for the future. And he said to us: `Why are we, you and
I, why are we so cast down? Have we forgotten who we are? We are the Church of God! What do we believe?' And in one movement the whole Assembly was on its feet, chanting the Creed: `I believe in God the Father Almighty . . .' if ever I beheld a `movement of the Spirit' surely this was it.
`Before they call, I will answer'
I am sure that our local Japanese officials tried to implicate our minister, Pastor
Shang, in something not approved of, as they had in other places, but they could not accuse him of anything. But the pastor had a brother who was a teacher in the boys' school, so in the course of the usual school searches, they found in Mr. Shang's desk a number of old coins, of Chinese currency no longer in use. It was much as we might have a farthing or threepenny piece that were no longer legal currency. They argued that he had retained these because he was still thinking `Chinese thoughts', thoughts dangerous to the present regime. He was taken to a prison in a town on the railway line, called Iron Mountain. Iron Mountain had a military prison as well as a civil one;
very, very few people ever came out of the military one. But that was where he was. By this time the seriousness or otherwise of accusations did not matter much, there was so little justice'. Being arrested was enough for condemnation and suffering. What could we do? Thinking to myself: `Do I know anyone in Iron Mountain who could help?' I suddenly remembered I did know someone. Long before, a Chinese girl, a Christian, who had lived in Fakumen, was married to a Korean. As he was bilingual he had a good position as interpreter for the Japanese. They had lived at the other end of the town, at Japanese quarters, so she was seldom free to attend Church. But we had kept in touch and I knew her two little girls. Now they had removed from Fakumen to, of all places, Iron Mountain, and the special work of her husband there was interpreter in the military prison. Here was a `contact' if I could make it.
The second difficulty was travel. By this time, there was, instead of the old cart track, quite a passable road on which a bus ran, under a watchful Japanese eye. No one could leave or enter the town now except by giving previous notice; as for `foreigners' like me, I had to give notice, ask permission, state exact time of departure and return, and give the object of one's journey. Obviously a Chinese trader could travel easier than a foreigner, but what Chinese could contact the wife of a man working in a Japanese prison! Somehow it would have to be me: they did allow me to go on the usual `tours' but I could not in this case give `the reason for the journey'. I'd have to go without leave. Almost unthinkingly as I walked the streets, my steps took me to the bus station, and people were wandering around the square where a few buses stood, and drivers checking their vehicles. Someone passed the time of day-a young man doing some minor repairs. I did not know him but he said he knew me, or rather, his mother knew me. Explanations followed: his mother had been invited into a home where my Chinese colleague and I had gathered a group of women to listen to Christian teaching. `Now' said my driver-friend, `my mother said it was good teaching, and that the Christian people were being treated badly these days, and she said "My son, if ever you can do anything to help a Christian, do it!" ' This was surely extraordinary guidance. I told him I should like to leave the town unseen officially and come back privately, could it be done? It was possible. I must explain that although I did not look like a Chinese, and my hair was fair, I could `be a Chinese' in almost every other way, that is, walk and talk and act natural. The weather was cold enough by then for women of my age to wear a hat of sorts. It looked like a large
tea-cosy trimmed with fur, and would quite cover the hair. A drab woollen scarf could be added to the shabby, worn clothes. I got the right outfit from the old lady who was Bible school cook. Miss Marion Young would see that all was `normal' in the Mission compounds, and deal with enquiries, if any. So next morning early I made the arranged rendezvous at the bus station, and was put into the back seat. Soon the bus was packed like a sardine tin, and when we
came to the gate for check, the checker only had room to stand on the top step, look around at the mass of humanity, announce `O.K. On you go!' and we
When we reached Iron Mountain, I knew where I could find a guide to the house of the interpreter's wife, and was expecting to find her in a `mixed' community-Chinese and Japanese or Korean or Russian. (Russians would be `white' Russians, not Communists.) My guide, an old fellow who kept a sweetie stall, told me: `Follow me, and when I stop to light my pipe, that is the doorway.' We went to a better quarter of the town; my guide stopped and puffed at his pipe, then turned away. This was it-I looked up and I was at the doorway of a large compound, and so far as I could see, inside were all Japanese or Korean houses. I could not possibly go in there asking for my little friend and endangering her. In despair I wandered on a bit to where there was a small public park. Who should be playing in the park but my friend's two little girls! What was more, they came running to meet me with cries of' recognition. I asked them to tell their mother where I was, that I was too busy to call, especially in my shabby clothes, but . . . I meandered in the park until she came, and we met naturally-and hastily arranged a correspondence code: The children would be `well' or `poorly' or something, which would mean `news' or `come again' or `wait'. She would get her husband to do the interpreting, for Mr. Shang. A good interpreter was always a great help.
Now to get home again. There would not be such a crowd in the homeward bus, and I should be noticed at the gate, so what we did was that the bus slowed down outside the town on the hilly road. I dropped off and made my way through the defences, the deep trench and electric wire. Thanks to years of walking around, I knew places where the soil was sandy, and it was easy to climb down, climb up, dig away some soil, then go under the wire head first and on one's back, and so home, and no questions asked. The back-up for all this `guidance' was, as usual, the prayer of the Church. No one knew what was happening; that was for their own safety and they knew it, but they also knew there had to be `prayer without ceasing'. They took this literally. Meetings every day in church might have excited comment, but anyone can, at any time, go to a hospital! We had no doctor, but some well-trained nurses did some work, midwifery and minor ailments. Off the hospital waiting room was a store room, almost like a secret room. This was to be the prayer room, never to be unoccupied day or night, while our troubles lasted. Always someone came and did not leave until others came. It was cold there, kneeling for hours sometimes. (Which reminds me, that in all the persecutions the most frequent prayers I heard were, not for protection and safety, but for courage, witness, and endurance.)
Letters came and went between me and my friend. I took the journey to Iron Mountain a few times more. Once, sitting in the little park, eating a snack,
some Japanese noticed me: `A foreigner! English?' `No, no' said one knowledgeable fellow, `not English, poor Russian trash.' That time I remember hastily cramming a piece of steamed bread rudely into my mouth, to conceal the fact that I had understood what they were saying. It was important to look blank. Mr. Shang, in prison, was now being helped by the interpreter. The latter would slap his face, punch him and knock him about, to `make him answer properly', but the blows were not hard slaps, more like slap-stick comedy ones; accompanied between the questions by rapid Chinese instructions on how to answer! `Yell and groan when I hit you! Everyone is praying for you. Your wife and family are all well. Play up, man! Cringe a bit more!' Such was the interpreter's help; yet still came no release nor reprieve. Sometimes my old Irish ancestry blood causes me to be `fey'. It happened one night in the middle of the night. I knew that Mr. Shang was free. `He couldn't be. It must mean he has been shot', so said my reason. But he came home that morning His name had been on an execution list, but it appears a clerk had made a mistake and written him as for transfer to the civil prison. So he was transferred there; from where they promptly let him go. So far as the Japanese were concerned, he was dead, executed. He came home, and saw the new baby, born while he had been away.
The interpreter and his wife regarded their new baby, born soon after, as a direct sign of Divine approval for their part in all that had gone before: After two girls, they had a son!
Another school story
In a border town where the Church had a small primary school, the teacher in charge was quite a young girl in her twenties. To her came the usual command from the local Japanese officials to take her pupils to shrine worship on a certain day; it meant actually participating in the worship. Not to obey would mean the closure of the school, and the usual rash of arrests.
She went straight to headquarters, made a great parade of subservience and humility and of being `only a woman', but explained she felt she had to come to the highest authority to help solve her problem. `Whenever there is an order, I must obey, but Sir, you see my difficulty? This day that I must take my school out is the 21st Sunday after Trinity, so how can I?' How indeed. The Japanese in command had not the least notion of what she was talking about, but his ego had been well blown up, the conversation was through an interpreter, and the office staff all listening. But how could he, a man, in his position, say so? He had to pretend to see her point and agree. She likewise flattered him into writing it down-that she was excused the school exercise-and went on her way rejoicing. Japanese usually put their worst people on the perimeter of a district, and kept them there for a maximum of three years (to avoid fraternisation) and then they were promoted. So our brave little teacher, when receiving the same order in future days, could produce her exemption certificate from the previous official, who was now the superior of the newly-come one. He could not countermand what his superior had done.
A Fifth Column exercise of the Japanese was drug peddling. Introduced as cures for many ills, such peddlars roamed the country. Chinese thought it safe to buy something-it was like a protection racket-then, having the stuff in the house, not straight opium which they knew about, but heroin, they would use it, to try out in a case of illness. Thus could the morale of a people be undermined. In our town, Japanese drug shops sold the stuff, and being outside Chinese law, nothing could be done. The Church tried to do something. They had a protest march, not to want something for themselves but to warn people about heroin. They carried banners, stopped at street corners and behaved like the Salvation Army. The drug shops put up their shutters for the day. Police came to object about the placards. One in particular said `the Kingdom of God is near' and they said there must not be mention of any kingdom but of Japan. The Church pastor reassured them: `While you are here, the Kingdom of God is far away!' and this satisfied them.
Always a bit anxious when parties of Japanese descended on the school, we, Miss Marion Young and I, persuaded the two important looking gentlemen with their attendant bodyguard, to come to the bungalow for rest and refreshment. The bodyguard stood in the hall, the two important persons, in uniforms like a Field Marshal's at least, came into the sitting-room. We, as humble females, helped them off with their coats, lit their cigarettes, served tea-and wondered what was coming, what new trial. At least the reason for their call was revealed: they were selling patriotic pills! The had not come to complain about the school nor the Church nor us, but just to sell some disguised dope. To prove its excellence they had pictures depicting soldiers on the battlefield, bleeding at every pore, but still dashing on brandishing their spears, all because they had patriotic pills inside them. Our relief was great; we bought a couple of bottles. After our guests had gone, we two relapsed into helpless, nearly hysterical laughter.
The funny side
Chinese enjoyed pulling the Japanese leg, and getting round regulations. A
city regulation was that horse-drawn vehicles had to have a bucket hung under the horse's tail, to save soiling the streets. `Horse' was a skeleton animal which pulled a droschky, a kind of one-man carriage. The Chinese soon evolved a bucket tailored to the horse's hindquarters, curved on one side. So the street was kept clean, and when the bucket needed emptying, it was tipped up in the side streets. Any gardeners could collect; so could poor folk who used the manure as fuel, compounded with coal-dust. So at least nothing was wasted.
In the city also were sweet vendors who had their wares arranged in a wheelbarrow, like a coster's barrow. They were ordered to have a glass lid on the barrow to keep off dust and flies, which was a good idea-but I have seen a barrow upset, the owner picking the sweets out of the dirt, giving them a rub on his clothes if necessary, or even a lick; and then, all arranged neatly again, putting back the lid. He didn't really know why there should be a cover, but `the Japanese liked it that way'.
Then `Rats'-there must be a rat extermination programme. So in a large city the order went forth: `Everyone must catch rats! No rats, no ration card'-nor even a train ticket, as one missionary discovered when he went to buy one. `No problem' said Chinese friends, `so-and-so breeds them!'
A gleam of respect for the Church
The Japanese Army lived off the land, and in a certain place the officer stopped a farmer and demanded to have a field of a certain kind of beans for his soldiers. They set off, the farmer to show the officer where the beans were growing. As it happened, they passed a bean field. The officer noticed, and thinking he was being tricked in some way, said: `What are you up to? There are the beans we want growing in that field!' And the Christian farmer answered: `But that is not
my field.' That Japanese officer himself told me that story, and how he had begun, as he put it, `to look twice at Christians after that.' He was much impressed.
Japanese and Chinese
There were in the city of Moukden, a number of Japanese Christians. Their Church sent delegates to the Chinese Church in Assembly, and we could, and did, sit round the same Communion table. Sometimes the Japanese were able to help Chinese Christians, even at risk to themselves. As Christians they in Japan had not found things easy; they too had their martyrs.
The strength and weakness of Chinese was their talent for compromise, like `the bamboo swaying in the wind, so not breaking'. The temptation was there too, to `get by somehow'. Japanese shortcomings, to our eyes, faults, of strutting and bravado and pig-headedness, could be transformed by Christianity into real dignity and courage and honourable behaviour. On the whole, those coming on Colonial Service, from the civil side of Japanese life, were much easier to get on with than those from a military background.
`Shall we music together?'
After many years in Fakumen, I was transferred to the town of Kwangning, where there was a small hospital, a boys' school, and a large church building, built as a memorial after the Boxer persecution. At this time there was no resident missionary nor evangelist nor pastor, a general shortage of staff, and the local Church had got into some trouble because in the school, things had not been done to the satisfaction of the education authorities. One could avoid trouble from the Japanese, frequently, by punctilious observance of small things and regulations that did not matter. So it was to sort such things out before they became worse that I was sent, as I had had by this time, considerable practice in such negotiations. A Chinese committee had given me what they called `powers of Presbytery' to cope as best I could. Actually, getting things right was not a big task; the shock for me was that I found myself, pro tem., in charge of the Church! I was to preach all the Sunday sermons, have a look-in at the Kirk Session and Committee. Shades of the Fathers and Brethren in Belfast. I did not baptize nor conduct a Communion service; though I `assisted' at the latter, but invited some other missionary when these services were required; and one could plan in advance for such times. But I did marry and bury, and that was something new for me. There were a number of out-stations to be superintended, and Kwangning was a beautiful little walled city, but the Church was `difficult'. There was a mixture of races, Korean and Chinese, which did not make for stability.
Then there came to the city a new Japanese magistrate; so I seized the chance to have good relations, as I had heard he came from the civilian side of Administration. He was quite a gentleman, had had some of his education in a Mission school in Japan; and he was quite appreciative of my courtesy call on behalf of the Church. All was quiet for over a year, then to our sorrow, we heard that our magistrate was leaving, to be transferred back to Japan. He was not considered tough enough for Manchurian Government.
I called to say goodbye and brought some small gift for the magistrate's wife and children in Japan. He had been kind to us, and that was ordinary good manners, but my actions were noted and approved of. The really unusual thing was that the magistrate returned the call! Dr. Hunter and I entertained him. Dr. Hunter had a piano and was a very gifted pianist. Seeing the piano, our visitor seated himself at it and asked: `Shall we music together for the last time?' He played with one finger and we three sang: `God be with you till we meet again!'
A new identity
Winter had come, and deep snow, and outside a firing squad were taking a number of prisoners to die outside the city wall. They had dug their own grave, a long, deep trench, now were shot to fall into it. One man found himself among the dead men, under one of them; and was able to crawl out, and over the wall at a broken part to our house and hospital just inside the wall. The snow would cover his tracks, and any bleeding would freeze as it flowed; this we realised as we heard the faint knocking under the window and found him. Upstairs was a little store room which held hospital medicine reserves. No one at all knew, as we got him up there and the doctor attended to him. He was hidden there for about a month, then employed in the garden, to get his hands rough and dirty. Eventually a new identity, farmer's clothes and a new name, and so he left us to go north where he could begin a new life.
Another Fakumen story: `Christians, awake! Salute the happy morn'
It was Christmas Eve, and the `carollers' had come and gone, and Miss Marion Young and I had retired to bed. The senior missionaries, Dr. and Mrs. O'Neill, were home on furlough, and their house was being cared for by a young caretaker and his teenage wife, who were expecting their first child soon. Towards dawn I was awakened by the sound of running feet: it was the young caretaker shouting for help, his wife had jumped down the well! Miss Young and I only took time to throw gowns round us and push our feet into bedroom slippers, seize a hurricane lamp, and a coil of rope, and run. The coil of rope had been bought just the day before, so was quite new, and not yet tidied away in a cupboard, but ready to lift. This was an extraordinary factor in what ensued. We were followed in our running by our Chinese cook, and in shorter time than it takes to tell were by the well side. The young husband had now dashed away to rouse the hospital. They took for granted it was an emergency midwifery call to the country, so there was some delay in opening the gate while they collected their `country outfit'. The well was deep, about 30 feet to the surface of the water. Over the wall was ordinarily suspended a two-gallon petrol can with a handle across, attached to a windlass, to raise the water. The young wife had put on a heavy padded gown (padded with cotton wool, and new, for Christmas), to go, as her husband thought, to the lavatory. Then he heard a cry and a splash. Fearful of coming into labour, perhaps, she had thought drowning to be the easy way out. But as she jumped, she became entangled with the water-can, so that the rope unwound itself too, and the windlass jammed. New cotton wool kept her floating! Our cook insisted on going down to the rescue, while we would pull them up, so on the well rope and with the new rope round his waist, he got down all right. Now for the pull up: I t
seemed impossible to disentangle her from the petrol-can now full of water, and the rope, so we were having to pull up the two of them together. I knelt on the ice at the well edge, Marion Young behind' stood and pulled backward. My arm had to take the rope across it at one point in case it could be cut on the ice-edge. We pulled, shouting for more help the while, and at last got them clear of the water and near the top. Help arrived, to get the girl lifted out and to hospital; she was now unconscious from cold and shock. Some economical soul in separating our cook from the petrol-can of water, carefully poured it back into the well, over the poor fellow's head. We all went back home to get warm and drink tea. Where we had been cut or scratched, the blood had frozen as it flowed, so we appeared to have short strands of red wool sprouting from arms and hands and feet. The baby was born, no anaesthetic needed-the cold had solved that problem.
Back to bed for a short time only, because there was to be Christmas
Day service at Church, and according even to Japanese regulations,
Christmas Day was a holiday which Christian schools might claim. But the
boy's school was having its problems: the pupils had been ordered to go
and observe Japanese Army manoeuvres at a mock battle, and must go. The
pastor assured the disappointed boys: `We will wait for you, we will not
start the service till you come.' And so it was: There we all were in the
church, waiting. The police were also there, to take notes, thinking that
we would soon tire of waiting, and disperse. It was like a modern
`sit-out', eyeball to eyeball. People pressed hymn-books and Bibles on our
visitors, ushered them to good seats, and kept assuring them that we were
prepared to stay at church all day. `Don't blame us, blame them' that the
service is late in starting. At last, it was the police who gave up, too
hungry and tired to endure longer. The happy sound of the boy's school
band was heard. And they came, and `O come, all ye faithful' certainly had
reality. After service, the minister remarked to us that he was tired, for
he had been up early. We said `so had we
Politics and diplomacy
The railway which ran between Moukden and the Great Wall of China, and through to Peking, was now divided at the Great Wall. There was some complication about British capital having been involved at the building of one or both sections of the track, so there was a certain British `connection', though one could not call it a responsibility. The Manchurian train was now in the complete control of the Japanese; the Chinese part was under Chinese management. There was no desire on the part of either party to co-operate, nor to facilitate the journeyings of people changing from one train to the other. It had become quite difficult for inexperienced foreigners, white people or women and children, to change trains at this Great Wall junction. Somebody asked
the British Consul at the Great Wall to intervene to help. But Britain did not officially recognise the existence of what the Japanese now called Manchukuo-Manchuria under the Japanese did not exist officially. To Britain, Manchuria was still a province of China. However, the Consul suggested that one British soldier be at the railway station to give what help was possible without compromising the diplomatic situation. `One soldier?' they asked the Consul, in consternation. `One will be enough' was the reply.
So one soldier kept an eye on things when the two trains were there. Passing a booking office one day he heard growls of rage and squeals of terror coming from inside. Going in, he found a young Chinese on the floor, a Japanese sentry straddled over him, with his bayonet at the other's throat, and making horrible noises. The British soldier found some way of engaging the Japanese one's attention-while the Chinese youth took to his heels-and somehow pacified the sentry. Then he went in search of the Chinese, found him and demanded to know what he had done to make the Japanese so angry. Eventually he found out: The Chinese booking clerk wanted to put a fine point on his pencil, and just outside his window, with this back towards him, stood the sentry, with rifle and bayonet. Such an opportunity was not to be missed-the clerk sharpened his pencil on the bayonet! To him, it was quite a sensible thing to do, a good sharp knife within easy reach; to the Japanese it was like trampling on the flag. So was an `incident' avoided, without any trouble, and as the Consul had said: `One soldier was enough.'
A change of work: I take to the roads again
The year or so in Kwangning was very restful. The days had a pattern; there was less anxiety, and I lived in a house with an upstairs and which had a real basin and a cold tap, and indoor sanitation. There were evenings to read, and spend with my medical colleague, talking about many things, and listening to great music. Then I was appointed to be Religious Education Secretary for the whole Church in Manchuria, that is, including all the Missions, Irish, Scots, and Danish Lutheran sometimes. It was like being a Religious Education School Inspector, travelling to see work in schools and Sunday schools and Bible classes, also work in a `crash course' in religious education in some centres, also to produce lesson material in three grades, primary, junior and senior, with visual aid material also. No longer could we count on `the daily round, the common task' to supply the needs of the Church in the future. These were days of war, and to the question: `What of the night?' there was only one answer: `Our days are numbered.' Mission institutions would be forced to close, or be taken over. Could we help the Church, left on its own, to cope with the future? The teaching material for the three grades was planned to last for three years, by which time they could begin over again as children
passed from one to the other. It was not ideal, but it gave continuity of instruction. The books had to be printed locally, after censorship and permission to print had been obtained. I had thought of red covers for primary, green
for junior, blue for senior, but the red ones were objected to because they might give the children Communist ideas(!)-and the censors looked at me somewhat suspiciously, I thought. So hastily I explained that I had thought of yellow, but did not dare use the Imperial colour. `But that would be just right' said they, so yellow replaced red. My publication problem was easier to solve than that of the missionary who was agent for the British and Foreign Bible Society, because `the authors of his book were not resident in Manchuria!' After cryptic correspondence with his headquarters office, he was allowed, for Japanese consumption, to proclaim himself on the fly-leaf to be the `Editor' of the Scriptures! and he could assure the Japanese that they were not even mentioned in the book! (No anti-Japanese propaganda.)
The travelling was hard because now I was always being spied on, and had police at every training class and demonstration lesson. Men missionaries were now regarded with more suspicion and their movements restricted; but women were for a while, considered not worth bothering about. All the same, one had to be careful all the time, not only for one's own sake, but the Church group. One time I was on a train and had a spy, disguised as a fellow traveller, asking me questions hour after hour, and when I had arrived at my station was made to go to the railway office for further interrogation. The hour was late, and at last I asked: `Gentlemen, at what time do you retire for the night? I am concerned that my unimportant affairs should delay your rest period.' They swallowed this irony at one gulp, and remarking that I showed proper humility and consideration, hailed a rickshaw for me and let me go. Not only that, but I had a whole week's teaching without supervision. Someone `in the know' found out that against my record was marked: `Definitely not dangerous!'
`One day in all the years; one hour in that one day.'
I suppose things got too much for me. Like the two disciples when Jesus asked: `Can you drink of the cup that I drink of?' they said so confidently `We can', though they certainly could not, so had I passed the Girls' Auxiliary to Womens' Missionary Association motto stage. (It was `I can do all things through Christ . . .' but it is essentially a text for enthusiastic youth, which cannot help putting the emphasis on the `I'.) Now I felt I was walking in the valley of the shadow of death. I had suffered much sorrow, known of the death in captivity of friends, and there was a loneliness in the travelling work which I had not felt before.
On what happened to be `the first Sunday in Advent' I was free to go to a children's service, the children not Chinese but of missionaries, home for
holidays from boarding school. Advent meaning `the coming of God', my thought was that God must come to me, not the other way round: I was brought very low. The one who spoke to the children spoke of `the immeasurable things' (in contrast with things that could be measured)-length, breadth, height, depth, and he changed the short English words to the rolling Latin ones, for the immeasurable love of God in
Christ Jesus our Lord. There is no explaining it: I did see, hear, feel, and become absorbed in something I know not what, like hearing the deep thrill of an organ before the music begins. It must have been some kind of trance or mystic state, because I did not know the others were standing up until someone touched me, thinking I had not heard the hymn announcement, or had fallen asleep! Whereas like Elijah who had all but given up and lain down under the juniper tree, but was there refreshed by an angel, so now I, like him, could `walk in the strength of that meat' for many days afterwards.
`O breath from far eternity, blow o'er my soul's unfertile land,
So shall the pine and myrtle tree, spring up amidst the desert sand,
And where Thy living water flows, my heart shall blossom as the rose.'
It was a time of war. I came home on furlough, was ill, worked in a munitions factory. Acted as a stop-gap in India (Irish Presbyterian Mission Girls' High School) to let the missionary there have leave of absence, then back to China, but not to Manchuria.
As the war situation grew worse, so among the missionaries a committee was formed, to plan who should go and who should stay, depending on the worsening situation. First to go would be young men and women who could join the Services at home and be more use than if interned. Next, those who were ill, or had not had furlough for a long time, and `the women and children'-missionaries' wives and families. Those who remained after this would be interned. Later they were in Nagasaki Camp, some of them when the atom bomb fell. A few had before this been exchanged for Japanese prisoners, and were taken to Lorenco Marques in East Africa, and so home. They and the others all have stories to tell. I was with the Class Two Group, accompanying the women and children, on a Japanese ship across the Pacific to Vancouver. I was six months in Canada, lived in Montreal, worked at the Dominion Rubber Company in the laboratory, testing rubber and cotton (connected with war
work in some way). Then home to Ireland, to India, home again, then back to China, this time to the south-west,
Y�nnan Province, as a missionary of the Chinese Christian Church and directly under their control. And here nothing was at all like one's former life.
Fakumen scenery: Small blue iris, growing wild, all over the hills and dykes in early springtime, even springing like a blue river in the cart ruts.
Harvest time: From our favourite walk and picnic place, the five trees on the hillside marking the local family grave mounds, one looked out over a plain of deep orange-red-brown millet ready for the harvest, against the deep cloudless blue sky.
The crystal frost: It did not happen every year, but sometimes when there had been mist in the air. One day, all was autumn colours, the beautiful cosmos flowers, white, pink, mauve, crimson, tall and delicate as lilies, and butterflies dancing over them: the next day, the crystal frost had come, and every single thing was encased in thin ice, the colours shining through. No least movement of leaf or flower, it was frozen beauty, like magic, until the sun melted everything and all was gone. Later in the night one woke to the `honk, honk' of the wild geese going south. So winter had come, and the preparations for its coming were put into effect. Windows doubled with inside panes or oiled paper; door handles or anything made of metal were given their padded covers, for to touch such with bare hands would take the skin off:
About the month of March, or Chinese second month according to lunar calendar, the coming of spring was heralded by dust storms. Fine desert dust so filled the air that there was no shutting it out: it lay inches deep along window sills, got into one's hair and eyes and clothing. One of Miss MacWilliams' wise remarks and advice to me was: `Don't let them, or yourself, ever make decisions in March, for everyone is a bit mad while the dust blows!' She was right!
Country church in autumn
Picture a small building all made of mud and straw, with a flat mud roof, while the surrounding countryside is silver-grey-lemon with the stubble of the millet. If the millet was cut above a certain joint it meant that the owner of the crop wanted the stubble later for his fuel. But if cut below that joint, then anyone poor might dig and collect fuel freely. (It was like Boaz in his grain fields
helping Ruth!) The flat roof of the church showed a spread of cabbages drying for pickling, while from the eaves hung bright scarlet peppercorns like Leprechauns' boots. In and out the door wandered at will a black, hairy pig. His sty was a lean-to beside the evangelist's room, and he represented `the sustenation fund!' i.e. the wee bit extra for supplementing the meagre stipend of his owner.
A picture and a poem
In Florence I saw in one of the galleries a print (primitive) called `St. Dominic at the Cross'. It showed only part of the cross, the pierced feet, and St. Dominic looking up, an expression of puzzlement, even anger on his face. The whole question was `why?'
And these are the words (one of Miss Helen Waddell's translations):
`Look on thy God, Christ hidden in our flesh,
A bitter word the Cross, and bitter sight.
What love may balance thine? My Lord was found
In fashion like a slave, that so His slave
Might find himself in fashion like his Lord.'
Early morning memory
Hearing the local blind man going out with a grandchild to guide him, to look for work. A blind man would be the best fortune-teller, people thought, for he would have insight to compensate for lack of physical sight. He played a flute, and I remember the tune still.
A sort of treadmill was operated all day long to lift the water from a well in scoops made of half a dried gourd, each pouring its contents into the irrigation channels for the vegetables. Round and round went the wheel, and the weary little chant of the waterman made the hot noon sun seem even hotter:
`Heaven is so dry, and no rain falls.
And tired almost to death. the waterman is.'
In early days in Fakumen, when it was still the custom for marriages to be `arranged', there came to the town, to work in the local Post Office, a personable young man. In the girls' school was a young teacher, quite attractive but a brunette-type Chinese. She was a Christian, so went to Church. He was not,
but had gone to see what it was like, and he had been at Mission school. `Across a crowded room' as the song says, these two, sitting in the male and female sections of the congregation and without exchanging a word, nevertheless were attracted to each other. The old customs were beginning to give way a little, insofar as Miss M. was able to ask a friend to ask the postman if he would find out whether the young man, Mr. N. would be `interested?' This was a good, roundabout, respectable way of doing things, so we waited with interest to hear what the response would be. At last it came. By the same circuitous route the young man, Mr. N. was interested enough, but thought that Miss M's complexion was too dark! Miss M. was cast down, and came to the doctor and me for advice: `I want to do
things the Western way' she said. `What action should I now take?' So we two unmarried young ladies advised her: `In a. situation like this in the West, you should do nothing. If you can drop a hint to the effect that you do not want him after all, it will be all to the good.' So, thanking us, she did nothing.
It worked like a charm. Mr. N. came to ask formally for permission to pay his respects to Miss M., intentions honourable. We invited them both to tea. They came, both wearing, we noticed, large hairy scarves or wool mufflers which were all the rage among the up-and-coming young people at that time -a sort of `liberation' sign. After tea, the doctor had a hospital round, and I had exercises to mark, so we made a tactful withdrawal for a short time. When we returned we knew everything had gone all right, for they had exchanged mufflers! It did go all right-eventually a very happy marriage, and twins. By the time the marriage took place, Mr. N. was baptized into the Church. He had sent a letter, written in his best English, to Dr. O'Neill, requesting baptism, and addressed: `To His Grace, the Archbishop of Fakumen,' and stating inside: `Dear Your Grace, I am an astray lamb, and I want to be washed.'