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Topic-icon 詩詞古文英譯集帖

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2018-02-04 21:00 #391 海外逸士
海外逸士 回复: 詩詞古文英譯集帖
Chapter 17

Linda proceeded on her way to the west. She passed a pond, the water in it so clear and transparent. There were some boys of about ten years old swimming in it, their bare butts submerging in water, but still discernible. Seeing this, Linda had an impulse to plunge in for a hearty swimming, but she remembered that she did not even have a bikini on her. Besides, she noticed that no girls would swim in public in the sixteenth century in China.

The boys saw her, shouting and waving their fists at her. Linda understood from their gesture that they wanted her to get lost at once. At that time a girl should not look at boys, especially with bare butts. To avoid further trouble, Linda ran away as fast as her legs could carry her.
Presently Linda came to a village. From seeing the boys she concluded that there must be a village close by and she wanted to find her lodging for the night there. Generally she eluded to stay in a town for the night. She preferred the village because the villagers might not know the government announcement about her and so she would be safe.
On entering the village, she was attracted by the voices of the boys reading some books aloud. She followed the sound to a house where she could see through the window that an old man was giving lessons to some ten boys. Linda had already learned something about the education in the ancient China. There were public schools then, but only in the capital and main cities. Somewhere else there might be private schools built at the donations of local wealthy families. Mostly boys got education from private tutors in the house of the tutor and the parents paid the tutor certain amount of money every month. The textbooks were the works of Confucius and Mencius. Linda had studied some when she had lived with the head eunuch. Girls were not encouraged to learn reading and writing. They were taught to sew and cook, and how to serve their future husbands satisfactorily. Girls only in rich families could have a tutor coming to teach them or were taught by their mothers, who were literate.
Linda listened for a while and walked away. She wanted to find a family that could take her in for the night. Soon she found one. Hospitality was a common virtue in the ancient time everywhere. The family was well-to-do and had a daughter of eight. The girl loved to read and write, and refused to learn sewing and cooking. The parents doted on her and had to give in at length. She had learned hundreds of Chinese characters. When a pupil reached such a stage, a tutor would train him to write parallel sentences or structures. The practice was like that: when the tutor gave two characters, say, meaning “mountain”, the pupil must use two characters, say, meaning “river”. If he said something meaning “orange”, it was wrong, because “mountain” and “river” belonged to the same category of words, the geographic category while “orange” was in a different category. If the pupil was right, the tutor would add another character like “stands” and the pupil must say “flows”. That made “mountain stands” and “river flows”.
The girl implored Linda to play that kind of word game with her. Luckily Linda had had such practice before and so had no difficulty thereupon. The girl said “wolf” and Linda replied with “dog”. Then the girl said “howls” and Linda added “barks”. The girl continued with “in woods” and Linda paralleled with “in house”. The girl was so delighted that when Linda wanted to leave next morning she importuned her to stay a little longer. As Linda had really nowhere to go, she was glad to comply.
They could not play the word game all day long. The girl went out with Linda to sightsee the village. When they were passing a house, they noticed some people crowding before the open door. They wondered what had happened inside that house and so squeezed in to have a look.
On the table in the center of the room some candles and joss sticks were burning and behind the table sat a woman in her fifties. With her eyes shut she began to chant something like “Open the door wide. Your ancestors will come.” Then her mouth foamed and she leaned back. Suddenly her voice changed sounding like that of an old man.
Linda asked a woman beside her, “What’s the matter? Is the woman sick?”
“No.” The woman replied, “The woman is a witch. She’s summoning the ghost of the old man, who was the father of the woman standing at the side of the table. Now the old man’s ghost has got into the body of the witch. It’s the old man’s voice speaking now."
The woman standing at the side of the table was asking some questions while sobbing and the woman with an old man’s voice was answering. Linda did not quite catch what they were saying.
After a while the voice of the witch came back and she opened her eyes. It seemed that the ghost was gone. The woman paid the witch, who left soon. The woman came to close the door and the crowd dispersed.
Linda and the girl strolled in the main street and saw a tea house a few paces ahead. They went into it and took seats at an unoccupied table. The house was half full. Four men sat next to them, talking and laughing. Some of their words wafted into Linda’s ears because it concerned her.
Man A said, "I read in the city yesterday a government announcement. They are seeking for a girl with golden hair and offering a hundred taels of silver."
Linda’s heart went wild. She was terrified, but did not show it on her face, still sipping tea, but her hand holding the cup was a little trembling. Only no one noticed it. The girl was interested and turned to look at the four men.
Man B asked, “Is she a criminal? Did she break the prison wall and run away?”
Linda calmed down and sipped some more tea.
Man A said, “Not likely from the announcement. Seems her husband wants her back.”
Linda had already learned it. That was no news for her.
Man C said, “Did she elope with another man or what?”
Linda was amused by the notion of elopement.
Man A said, “Doesn’t say anything about that.”
Man D said, “One hundred taels is not much. Not worth the effort to look for her.”
Presently she left the tea house with the girl.

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2018-02-11 23:48 #392 海外逸士
海外逸士 回复: 詩詞古文英譯集帖
chapter 18

The family Linda stayed with was very nice to her. At first she had half a mind to settle down here. The only dread was that this village was too close to a city. The message that she was wanted would some day spread here and then she would not be safe. Therefore, she could not have made up her mind whether to settle down or to move on.
Now her fear became a definite truth. For her own security, she could no longer stay here. So she insisted on leaving. Next morning when she bade farewell to the hostess, the woman gave her a parcel containing some dried cake, boiled eggs and a flask of water. People taking long journey always carried food and water lest they reach some places that they could get no food and water supply. Linda took the parcel and expressed her hearty gratitude to the woman for her kindness.
The girl almost began crying and begged Linda to visit her on her return. Linda was not sure if she would come back the way she went. But she had to make the promise as a white lie.
It was hot in the south of China. It was noon. Linda took a rest under the shade of a big tree and ate a piece of cake and an egg and drank some water. Then she started on her way again.
She came across a pond. The water was so lucid. Linda perspired all over and needed to have a bath. Since no one was seen all around, she stripped herself naked and dove into the pond.
There were a long row of thick bushes on the bank so that she could hide behind it when she was bathing. She put her clothes and the parcel at the roots of the bushes. This way no one could steal them. The jacket and pants she had had on when she had landed in China had been thrown away long before. Now she wore what the local people wore so that she could mingle with them without being too conspicuous.
To her panic, she beheld a young man approaching the pond. She had no time to put her clothes on when the young man ran up. He saw a naked girl in the water. How could a young man not get excited at such a sight? He kicked off his shoes and stepped into the water. Linda swam to the center of the pond where the water was deep. She only kept her head on the surface. The young man stayed in the shallow water up to his waste and did not plunge in. The situation lasted for quite some time. Linda could not stay naked for ever in the water. She must do something to get herself out of the plight.
She thought that the young man perhaps could not swim, or he would come after her. She got a good idea and swam toward the young man. When she got very close, the young man stretched his hands and looked like he wanted to grip on Linda’s hair and pull her out. Linda dove in the water and reached out her hands to pull his ankles. The young man struggled in water. Linda made him drink enough water and he lost consciousness. Linda laid him on the bank and put on her clothes. She left the young man where he was lying and went her own way. When the young man came to, the girl was nowhere to be seen. He did not know if he had had a dream or met a fox genie. Chinese people believed in fox genie, who could change into the form of a beautiful girl and could vanish in a moment.
Linda was now clambering a hillside. She suddenly heard a man’s voice shouting at some distance, “You girl, stop right there!” She turned to look. A middle-aged man with a sword in his right hand scurried toward her. She knew that the man must be a rogue and came to rob her or even rape her. She started to run at top speed. After a while, she looked back and saw the man getting closer and closer to her. She looked forth and saw that she would soon reach the top of the hill. She thought, “When I get to the hill top, I can roll down the other side and escape from the villain.”
But when she reached the summit, she was dismayed to find that the other side of the hill was a cliff that she could not estimate how high. At least she saw that the bottom was a valley. About half way down, a tree growing out from the cliff wall caught her eyes. Maybe, she could jump down onto the tree first and then climbed down into the valley. At the moment, the man’s voice yelled close behind her, “Stop. You’ll fall to death.”
Linda made up her mind that she could not let the rascal rape her. What if she was infected with AIDS? It was a painful disease. But she forgot that there was no AIDS in the sixteenth century anywhere. Anyway, she jumped down feet first and landed on the tree. She clutched on some branches with both her hands to steady herself. Then she looked up and saw the moron sticking his head out and watching her. Linda thought, “If he also jumps down, I have to fight him.” She fished out a dagger tied on her right leg. She had got the dagger when she had been with the outlaws. She always had it with her in case she might need it. Now she had the need for it.
The man stood at the edge of the cliff, considering whether he wanted to leap down, too, after the girl. When he saw Linda take out a dagger, he decided that it was not worth the risk of being pierced through the chest. He turned and left the spot.
As the immediate danger was now over, she had time to deliberately examine her surroundings. First, she looked at the cliff wall to see if there were thick vines that she could use to climb up. But to her disappointment, the vines did not climb upward, but climbed downward. Correctly to speak, the vines grew up from the foot of the cliff and stopped right round the tree. None grew any higher. So there was no hope for her to climb upward. “At least,” she thought to herself, “I can climb downward. No need for me to jump down.”
She was lucky. If there were no vines at all on the cliff wall, what could she do now? She could not jump down, for the height was about thirty meters by her estimation. Even if she did not dash herself to death, she would injure some parts of her body. Under such circumstances, how could she survive with serious injuries?
She began to descend on all fours gripping tightly on the vines. It took her quite some time to set her feet on the solid ground. She looked round. It was a beautiful valley with trees and grass covering the bottom. Then she found some rabbits and a deer staring at her from some distance.
She walked about in the valley and found a cave in the cliff wall. The cave was small, but with enough space to hold Linda. “I have to stay here for the time being. God made a cave here for me for the night.” She said aloud to herself. “Ah, I have some company. Come here, you cute little rabbit! And you, lovely deer!” She coaxed.
She sat on a rock and thought, “I’m like Alice in a rabbit hole now. Only this is not a rabbit hole, but a valley. There’s not the Cheshire cat, but a deer instead. No pack of cards either.” She looked round for mushrooms and saw some pretty ones. “What will become of me if I have a bite of the mushroom there? Will I grow up till I can reach the top of the cliff? Then I can get myself out of here. But what if I grow smaller and smaller? Will the rabbit bite my head off?” Of course, she would not eat that mushroom. She had been told that when a mushroom looked colorful, it was very probably poisonous. Then she found some fruits on the trees. She lived on fruits for three days and found that there was a slope at the other side that she might escape from there.
The deer and rabbits no longer evaded her when she approached them. She could caress or hug them. “I will leave tomorrow, but can’t take them with me.” She thought, not without being sorry. All at once a wonderful idea occurred in her mind. She took out her dagger and carved these words on one of the antlers of the deer: “Linda’s deer.”
Sometimes she wished that it were a nightmare and that when something terrible happened to her, she would wake up and find herself in her own room of her New Jersey home.

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2018-02-18 21:47 #393 海外逸士
海外逸士 回复: 詩詞古文英譯集帖
Chapter 19

The valley led to a steep slope. Linda scaled up and entered a forest. Soon she came across a hut, made of tree trunks with thatched roof. Carefully she approached the hut, unaware of what was lurking inside waiting for her. There might be an escaped prisoner hiding inside. There might . . .
She could not—should not make so many hypotheses. There hung in the doorway a patchy cloth curtain. She stood in front of the curtain, shouting, “Anyone there?”
“Who’s it?” A woman’s voice called from within. Then the curtain was pulled aside and a woman stood in the doorway. She was in her forties, dressed in old shabby clothes.
“I’m lost in the mountains.” Linda told the woman with an inquiring look.
“Come in, please.” The woman said. She stepped aside, still holding the curtain up.
Linda walked in. It was dim inside. Linda could not see anything. After a while when her eyes were adjusted, she saw a table a few paces away with two benches on either side of it and an oil lamp on it. A wooden bed was in one innermost corner. That was all the furniture they had.
Linda sat on one bench and the woman on the other.
“Do you want a drink of water?” The woman asked her.
“No, thanks.” She said curtly. She was not sure if she must tell the woman her story. Finally she decided to wait.
“My husband’s a hunter.” The woman said. “Whenever he gets some games, he will sell most of them in the village at the foot of the mountain and buy some necessities. I will collect fruits in the woods. We still have some salted deer meat. It’s delicious. You can stay for supper and for the night. Tomorrow my husband will show you how to get to the nearest village.”
Linda thanked her again. Now she was worried about the deer with her name on. Some day it would surely become the trophy of the hunter. She did not want to witness it. If she could, she would leave right off. But it was growing dark and she did not know the way out. So she had to stay for the night.
“I’m home.” A man’s voice came in. It must be the husband of the woman, who stood up and went out to meet him.
“A lovely deer! A big game!” exclaimed the woman.
“Yes.” The man said in delight. “It ran so fast, but couldn’t be faster than my arrow. So I got it. Look at its antler, the engravings.”
Linda’s heart thumped wildly. The horrible thing she had feared did happen to the poor deer. She got out checking on the antler. Surely her name was on it. She wanted to nauseate. She wanted to cry. But she restrained herself. There were something else beside the deer, a rabbit and two pheasants. She was not sure if the rabbit was the one she loved. She had not made any sign on it.
She returned into the hut and sat on the same bench. When the couple came in, she stood up to greet the husband, who just nodded his recognition. The games were left outside.
At supper Linda could not eat the salted deer meat and so she made up an excuse that she was a vegetarian. She ate some fruits and drank some water.
The family went to bed early. The woman arranged that Linda slept with her on the bed. The man put two benches together side by side and slept on them. Although it was not comfortable, the man did not complain. He blew out the wick and soon began to snore.
Linda had always slept alone, never shared a bed with anyone. So she could not sleep well. She stayed awake most of the night.
The family got up early when Linda wanted to sleep for a while longer. As the woman saw that Linda was still sleepy, she told Linda to keep on sleeping. Now Linda was alone on bed and so she slept like a log. When she woke up, it was almost noon. She got up and ate some fruits as brunch. The woman offered her some deer meat. Linda could not eat it. It was her deer. Thinking of that, her eyes were filled with tears. She turned away from the woman to wipe them off.
The husband had already gone out hunting. The woman asked Linda to wait for the return of her husband, but Linda declined. She wanted to leave at once and asked for the direction. The woman told her how to get to the nearest village. Linda thanked her for her hospitality and took leave.
She passed a graveyard and saw many people crowding before respective tombs here and there. The graveyard had no fences around. The tombs looked like domes, or inverted bowls, or in the eye of Linda, like gigantic buns. The tombs were made of stone bricks with boiled sticky rice as mortar. Mortar was easily broken while the stone bricks stuck together with the boiled sticky rice, when dried, were very strong. The gravediggers could hardly break through to steal the valuable things buried with the body. It was another custom for rich families to put some valuable things or the things the diseased had loved when alive in the coffin. They believed that the diseased could still possess them in the nether world when buried with him or her.
Before every tombstone there were platefuls of fruits and lighted candles and incenses. People of a family kowtowed to the tomb one by one, from the oldest to the youngest. Then some houses or horses or men and women, all made of paper, were burned. By burning these things, people also believed that the diseased could receive them and use them like in this world. The diseased could live in the house, riding the horse when traveling and have the men and women as servants.
Linda stood aside watching and wondered why so many people came on the same day. She went with a crowd going west. She asked a woman if it was a special day. The woman wondered how the girl could not know the day. It was a popular day that almost everyone knew. But she still replied, “Yes. Every year on this day people go to the graves of their ancestors to worship them.”
In Chinese it is called “Clear and Bright Day” in the fifth solar term. But it is not always clear and bright on that day. Sometimes it will rain.

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2018-02-25 21:30 #394 海外逸士
海外逸士 回复: 詩詞古文英譯集帖
Chapter 20

On the right side of the road, Linda perceived a temple on the slope of the mountain. She felt thirsty and wanted to ask for a cup of tea there. She went up to the temple and found that it was a nunnery. She knocked at the door. Presently a young Buddhist nun came to open it. In China such a nun was the opposite of the Buddhist monk. That is to say, they shaved off all their hair on the head and burned nine tiny holes on the pate like the monks did. A young girl who became a nun always had certain reasons. Some wanted to escape from something very bad. Others probably came from destitute families. Their parents could no longer support them and had to send them to the nunnery. It was better than to be sold to the whorehouse.
There are two main sorts of religions in China that Han Tribe believes. The number of Han Tribe is more than ninety percent of the whole population. Besides Buddhism, which came from India, there is a native religion called Taoism. The Taoists, together with their opposite the Taoist nuns, wear their hair in a knot on top of their heads. They both worship Lao Tzu, and other legendary gods. They are polytheists. But the Buddhists in China are also polytheists.
“Can I have some water? I’m too thirsty.” Linda asked bashfully.
“Of course. Please come in.” The young nun said politely.
Linda was led to the guest sitting room and served tea. It was a nice place, so quiet. Linda thought that if she could live here, no one would find her, because no one would think that she hid herself in a nunnery. The only question was whether the nuns would agree to her request.
“Can I stay here for a couple of days?” Linda asked the young nun. Then she fished some money from her pocket and donated it to the nunnery. The young nun took the money and thanked her.
“But I must ask permission of the head nun for that.” She left Linda sitting there alone. She returned after a while, saying, “The head nun agrees. Will you please follow me?”
She led Linda to a guest bedroom and left. Though small, the room was neat and tidy, with a bed put against the innermost wall, a cabinet for clothes beside the bed, and a table and two chairs against the wall under the window.
Every morning the young nun brought in a basin of hot water for her to wash her face and a cup of salty water to rinse her mouth. There was no toothpaste at that time and no toothbrush either.
Before every meal, a nun would strike a piece of hollow wood carved into the shape of a fish. When stricken with a wooden stick, the sound would spread throughout the nunnery. It was the signal for meals. All the nuns would go into the canteen while the guests went to a special dining room. Before every meal, the nuns would have a ritual to chant their sutras. Then every nun would get into a file with two bowls. One would contain rice covered with some cooked vegetables and the other would hold vegetable soup. When nuns got the bowls full they would go back to their fixed seats at long tables. When they finished eating, they would leave the canteen in a file to their respective positions.
Linda was led to the special dining room and had breakfast with some more guests. Generally they would have porridge and steamed dumplings for breakfast. For lunch, they would be served rice and vegetable dishes and for supper noodles covered with mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
In old China nuns, monks, Taoists and Taoist nuns could not eat meat, egg, fish or even milk. They should keep celibacy. But nowadays, since no one will be monks or nuns, for encouragement they are allowed to eat everything and to get married because the temples are the scenic spots for sightseeing and the sources of income in the tourist business. If a temple has no monks or nuns, it will look ridiculous to the tourists.
Linda enjoyed the tranquility of her life for a month. During that time she watched the nuns having public prayers for some families, who wanted to memorialize their ancestors through the ceremony. The ceremony went like that: on the wall hung the portraits of the ancestors and before them there was a table, on which were laid lighted candles and incenses in a burner. Six nuns stood at one side of the table and six at the other side. They chanted sutras, accompanied by playing some Buddhist musical instruments. Every nun held a different instrument, some like a cymbal and some like a bell with the top on a short stick. The nun held it downside up like a goblet. All the nuns struck their instruments at regular intervals while chanting. During this performance, the family members would kowtow before the portraits one by one. When the chanting was over, a lot of paper money and other paper things were burned. Linda had never seen it before. So she never missed one.
One day when she went to bed, she forgot to latch the door. Next morning the young nun came and pushed open the door. Linda was still asleep in bed. Her hair spread over the pillow. The young nun was surprised to see the golden hair. She laid the basin of hot water on the table and went up to the bed. She felt the golden hair. The touch was the same as she had felt her own hair before it had been shaved off. She knew that it was real hair, not golden threads.
Linda suddenly woke up and saw the nun looking at her hair. She was horrified, afraid that the nun might go to report to the yamen in the nearest town. She didn’t know yet that those unworldly people never cared about the worldly things. But Linda decided then and there that she must leave soon.
“How can it be that your hair is golden?” The nun asked curiously.
“I was born like that. It brought me a lot of troubles.” She added privately, “Only since I landed in China.”
“I like your hair color.” The young nun said enviously.
“Will you please not mention it to anyone else?” Linda implored.
“Why not? Any particular reason?”
“I’m always afraid that someone may want my hair, thinking it is made of gold, and may come to murder me for it.”
“Be at rest. None will think your hair’s made of genuine gold, or he’s insane. But my advice is that you can shave off your hair and become a nun here.”
“Shave off the hair and become a nun?” Linda had never thought of that. She loved her hair and was proud of having it. It has certainly some advantage to have golden hair. Many people like the hair being golden and some men love girls with golden hair. Linda did not want to shave it and she did not want to become a nun, in China.
Linda got up, wrapped up her hair and came to the table to wash her face. After breakfast, she bade farewell to the nuns and left the nunnery. She walked west aimlessly along the public road. At noon she ate some dried food and drank some water the nuns had given her. Some other travelers on foot rested on the road side, sitting on rocks, while they had their lunch. Linda sat at some distance from them. She did not want to be asked questions. It would certainly happen if she sat close to anyone. By now she had learned that Chinese people loved to ask other people personal questions.
In the evening, Linda came to another village. When she passed a house, she saw a throng before the open door. She squeezed in to the front and saw two old men standing on opposite side of a table, on which there was a tray with fine sands in it. A thin piece of bamboo was made into a circle with two short straight bamboo pieces attached to the circle and crossing each other in the middle, looking like ⊕. A Chinese brush was tied onto the crossing point. The two old men stretched out their forefingers, one from his right hand and the other from his left hand, each holding the bamboo circle at opposite sides, or correctly to speak, the bamboo circle resting with opposite sides on their forefingers. That way, it meant that they could not move the brush to write any Chinese words.
There was a third old man who knelt before the table and murmured something like in prayer. Then Linda saw the brush moving as if by itself, looking like writing something in the sand tray. When the brush stopped the two old men took the brush away. The third old man stood up and copied what had been written in the sand on a slip of paper. And the three men gathered together in the consultation of one another.
The spectators scattered. Linda asked a middle-aged woman, “What’s all this about?”
“They have some problems they can’t solve and want to ask help from a god.” The woman answered. “If a god, any god, happens to pass the place in the sky, he may come down to write something in the sand, if it interests him to give the mortals some divine advice.”
“But I didn’t see any god come down.” Linda doubted.
“You can’t see a god. No one can see a god.”
“Then who knows if a god came down or not?”
“Did you see the brush being moved?”
Linda nodded.
“That meant that a god was here, because the two men supporting the brush were incapable of writing anything. Even if they were able to move the brush simultaneously, they couldn’t write out coherent sentences. So it proves that some god came to write something in the sand tray.”
Linda was still skeptical, but she said nothing more and went her own way. She had already been accustomed to anything weird in the ancient China.

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2018-03-04 20:55 #395 海外逸士
海外逸士 回复: 詩詞古文英譯集帖
Chapter 21

Once more Linda trespassed on the hospitality of a family for the night. The family was so-so financially. After supper, Linda helped to wash the dishes as if she did it in return for the food and board. The couple was in their forties and had a son of twelve. They owned the house and used the front room as a dining place, selling wonton. It could not be called a restaurant. So people called it wonton shop.
The husband and wife were very busy. They must make wonton with minced meat wrapped up in flour skin. When customers came, they cooked it in boiled water. As all the wontons floated on the surface, it meant that wontons were ready to serve. They made some kind of soup at the same time and then they put twenty wontons in a bowl and ladled some soup into it. The son helped to take the bowl of wonton to the customers. Now Linda helped as a waitress. She also learned to make wonton.
At first Linda wanted to leave the next day, but the wife asked her to stay, saying, "If you are not in a hurry to leave, you can stay as long as you like. You are a nice girl. I love you very much."
Since Linda had really nowhere to go, she thought that she could stay here longer, or even for ever if they could get along well. But she did not know, or could not guess, why the woman asked her to stay. As the family lived only from hand to mouth, they could not afford to have their son married to any girls. They hoped that when their son came of age, at sixteen years old, he could marry Linda as she looked like a homeless girl. Although Linda was much older than their son, it did happen in ancient China to take older girls for wife. The sole concept of marriage in ancient China was to get a boy as an heir so that when they died they had someone to inherit their family name and property, if any, and look after their grave. And their ghosts could return home on certain days to enjoy the worship of their posterities.
Anyway, Linda stayed and helped with any work she could do. The shop would open early in the morning, when it was still dark outside. It would close late till the nightfall when the supper time was long over. Then the family would retire to the quarters behind the shop to rest.
Every day they had wonton for three meals. Actually they did not have regular three meals. Whenever anyone of the family, including Linda, felt hungry, he or she just ate wontons till full. It was indeed unbearable to eat wonton everyday, every meal. But what could Linda do or say? Sometimes when the husband went to market shopping for meat, flour and vegetables, he would buy some sweets or different food for Linda. The couple already looked upon her as their future daughter-in-law, and treated her like one.
Three months elapsed. Linda lost the tract of dates and days by the solar calendar, because the battery in her watch had died. In ancient China people used old methods to mark the time and dates. The more accurate way to count the time of the day was to use the sundial, but what if there was no sun that day? A simple machine was invented, named clepsydra or water clock. It consisted of two metal containers, one above the other. The above one holding water had a small hole in the bottom, the water dripping one by one into the lower container through the hole. There were grooves carved on the inner side to mark the time. People could tell time by checking on which groove the water reached. Chinese people divided the day into twelve equal parts. Every part was equal to two hours we use now. And so was the sundial marked.
For those who could not afford a water clock, or a sundial, they could only estimate time by looking at the sun or the light of the day if it was cloudy. Everywhere there were night watchmen, who reported time during the night by going around a certain area and striking a gong. They always worked night shift, beginning at the fall of the night. People divided the night time into five parts. The watchmen hit the gong once in the first part, twice in the second part and thrice in the third part. When they struck five times, it would soon be daybreak.
They had a rich neighbor living close to them, who frequented their wonton shop. He had a son four years older than their son. One day the neighbor visited them in the shop.
“Hello, my old friend!” He accosted the husband. “Long time no see.”
“Ah, my dear neighbor, long time no see.” The neighbor had been absent from his shop for a few months. “Where have you been?”
“Had a tour in the Yunnan Province and bought some herbs.” He was a doctor and owned a herb store. He not only charged his patients for consulting fees, but also sold them the medicine he had made. He earned a great deal of money and was one of the wealthiest men in the village.
“Welcome back, my dear neighbor.” He handed the neighbor a bowl of wonton for free.
While eating, he talked to the husband. “I know you have a homeless girl living with you. I also know you want her to be your daughter-in-law. But your son is still so young. He can’t marry her until four years later. My son just reaches the age to be married. Let’s have a deal, okay?”
“What’s the deal?” The husband was curious to know.
“The girl marries my son and I give you a thousand taels of silver.” He offered.
“Are you kidding me?” The husband was in doubt.
“I’m serious. Think of it, with a thousand taels, you can get any girl for your son.”
A thousand of taels was a lot of money then. It was a great temptation, but he could not make decision all by himself. He must consult his wife first. His wife was the one to decide on everything and anything in the household.
“Although the girl is beautiful, the money is more important. You cannot eat beauty when hungry. You cannot dress beauty when cold. So take the deal.” said the wife.
“How or what can we tell the girl?” asked the husband.
“We don’t need to tell her. Let the doctor tell her himself.”
“Good idea.” The wife consented.
Linda was ignorant about their deal. She lived everyday like the day before until one day when a red palanquin came to the door. Linda was curious to know what that was for. When she stepped out of the door to look, two middle-aged strong women came forth to hold her either arm and push her into the palanquin. Linda struggled, but the two women were too strong for her to get away from their grasp. Linda cried, but no one dared to interfere.
Linda was carried into a big house. When the palanquin stopped in the front courtyard, she was dragged out and rushed into a room. Then the two strong women came in to dress her up in bride’s costume. Linda had seen the costume before and came to know what would happen.
Linda knew that it was futile to resist by force and so she gave up struggle and let the women attire her while she was making a bold plan. When they finished with her, she said to them, “Go to tell your master to come here to see me. I have something very important to tell him.”
The two women did not stir. They were told to watch the girl lest she do something drastic or even commit suicide. Linda saw them standing still as if they were deaf and did not hear what she had spoken.
“It will save his life if he knows what I’m about to say." Linda had to use her last resort.
A matter of life and death was indeed very important. Therefore, the two women did not dare to delay. One of them went out of the room to fetch the doctor.
The doctor was doubtful. “What can the girl tell?” He thought. But he still came to see Linda.
When he came into the room, he saw a beautiful girl sitting on a redwood chair. What surprised him was that the girl had taken off her headwear and showed a headful of golden hair. The doctor seemed to know something about golden hair, but he could not remember anything.
“What do you want to tell me, my girl?” The doctor inquired.
“Do you notice the color of my hair?” Linda pointed to her head.
The doctor made an affirmative gesture.
“I’m the girl the government is seeking for. If they know you are forcing me to marry your son, what do you think they’ll do to you?”
Now it dawned on the doctor. He remembered that he had read the government announcement about a girl with golden hair they were hunting for. The girl must be a VIP or a criminal. Either way, he should report to the government since now the girl was in his house, or he would be punished, even imprisoned. He left Linda in the custody of the two strong women.
After making some arrangement, the doctor returned. He told Linda that he would send her to the local yamen. Linda made no objection and followed him out. There was a coach at the door. She climbed in and it moved forward.

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2018-03-11 21:08 #396 海外逸士
海外逸士 回复: 詩詞古文英譯集帖
Chapter 22

The coach went to the nearest city and after one hour it rolled to a halt before the local yamen. The mayor of the city was reported about the arrival of the girl with golden hair. He did not know who this girl really was, but at least he knew that it was the girl the head eunuch wanted. And from the document the head eunuch had sent to every city and town, the mayor could read between lines that this girl must be an important person to the head eunuch, not like someone who was wanted as an offender and would be punished when returned. The city he administered was a great distance away from the capital and so he did not learn the details.

“Anyhow, I must treat her well, whoever she is.” He said to himself. He hastened out to receive her and told a maid to lead Linda to the guestroom best-ornamented. When Linda took her seat at a rosewood table carved with flower patterns all around the sides, the maid brought in a basin of hot water for her to wash her face and hands.
At dinner time, she was invited to meet the mayor and his wife for dinner. He could not meet the girl alone lest his enemies should spread the rumor that he had some unnatural relationship with the girl, which would surely bring disaster on him.
At the dinner table, the mayor mentioned that tomorrow he would send a squad of soldiers to escort her to the capital. Linda kept calm. The first stage of her plan went successfully. Now she would carry out the second stage of her plan.
“Do you know who I am?” Linda asked the mayor.
“Not really. I only know that the head eunuch’s looking for you.”
“Do you know why he’s looking for me?”
“No clue whatsoever.” He said frankly.
“Because I’m his titular wife.” Thus speaking, Linda stared at the mayor and his wife, who were both stunned and dumbfound. After a while they stirred as if awakening from a slumber.
“As now you know who I am, let’s have a deal.”
“What’s the deal about?” The mayor stammered out the question.
“Will any woman willingly marry a eunuch?” She looked from the mayor to his wife.
The mayor kept silence. His wife replied “No” in a low voice.
Then Linda told them the part of her story about how to become the wife of the eunuch. She was of course not willing to be his wife.
“Now that I’m free, I won’t go back to him. So I’ll make a deal with you.” The mayor waited for her to go on. Linda continued, “If you send me back, I will tell the head eunuch that before you send me back to him, you want to rape me as I’m so beautiful. Do you think if he will believe me?”
That was out of question. Who would not believe the complaints of the young pretty wife?
“If he believes me, then do you think how he will deal with you?”
It was beyond all doubts that he would be killed under whatever excuses and die in disgrace. But he said nothing, waiting for her to reveal the other side of the deal.
“If you let me go, of course, I can’t complain to the head eunuch about you. We’ll forget everything that happened. You are still the mayor of the city.”
“Will you please stay here for the night? I’ll consult my wife and will tell you our decision tomorrow.” He needed time to consider it. It was too important to his future, or even his life.
Linda retired to her bedroom, but she could not sleep well. She feared that if the mayor was loyal to the head eunuch, which she could not be sure, and insisted on sending her to the capital at the risk of being killed, what could she do? She would fall again into the hands of that hideous man. Even if she had that mayor killed, she could not flee from the titular husband and would live with him for the rest of her life unless she would be carried back by that mysterious force to America in the twenty-first century.
Next morning when she woke up, the maid brought her the hot water and then the breakfast. When she finished, she was asked to see the mayor and his wife. She wrapped her hair in a cloth and followed the maid to the room where the couple was waiting for her.
“Sit down please!” The wife said when she saw Linda making her appearance in the doorway.
“Thanks.” Linda took her seat at their right hand and waited for them to tell her their decision.
After a while, the wife said, “We accept the deal. You can leave now.”
Linda stood up and was about to leave when the wife jerked out the words, “Wait a minute.”
Linda’s heart gave a sudden jump. Then she saw the wife hand her some money.
“Take these. You may need it.” said the wife.
The couple had had a serious discussion last night. They were really afraid that the girl would do as she had threatened. “I think we’d better let her go.” The wife suggested.
“What if the head eunuch gets to know that we let her go?” His dread was not without reason.
“How could the head eunuch know? He’s so far away from us. Besides, the information that we let the girl go won’t reach him until after a long time. If we have to take a risk, this is a long-termed risk.” The wife reasoned with him.
The mayor nodded his understanding and consent. His wife added, “It looks the girl’s short of money. We’d better give her some. If later she is caught by someone else and sent back to her husband, she won’t say anything unfavorable to us.”
Linda patted her empty pocket. She really needed money. So she took the money and left with many thanks. The mayor and his wife were satisfied. They were safe now.

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2018-03-18 20:29 #397 海外逸士
海外逸士 回复: 詩詞古文英譯集帖
Chapter 23

Linda left the city as fast as possible. She was afraid that the mayor might regret letting her go and send his men to catch up with her and take her back. She knew for a fact that the head eunuch would be very happy if the mayor sent her back to him and for that matter the mayor would surely get a promotion.
She proceeded west, but did not know where she could hide herself. She just kept walking. She had changed her shoes twice. The Chinese shoes at that time were made of cloth, not leather. The sole of the shoe was thus made: many layers of cloth cut into the sole shape were sewed tightly together, about one centimeter thick; the tops were also made of cloth, only two layers, and then the top and the sole were sewed together. The shoe was thus finished. So it was easily worn out.
When she had stayed in the wonton shop, the wife had made her a new pair of shoes, which she was wearing now. She felt the paper money in her pocket and took out to have a look. At the time when she had accepted it, she had not looked at it. So she did not know how much money they had given her. Now she could deliberately check on the amount of the money. It was a hundred taels of silver, which would last her for a long time. She was grateful to the couple.
When she was passing another village, she saw a large house decorated with white lanterns and white paper streamers in front of the main door. The people coming and going were all dressed in white linen clothes. Loud crying was heard even in the street.
Linda knew that someone had died in the house. She also learned the custom that anyone coming to mourn the deceased would get a treat of a substantial meal. Generally the mourners were relatives, friends or at least acquaintances. No strangers would go in to pay the last esteem to the deceased. But the custom allowed a hungry person to go in and mourn for the deceased, and then he or she could have free lunch or supper, depending what time of the day it was.
Linda felt hungry now, but she was not bold enough to squeeze through the crowd of spectators into the house. Just then, a man came out to announce that they wanted to hire some women to help crying and mourning beside the coffin as the family members of the deceased were tired and needed some rest after the long-time wailing. It was also the tradition that when anyone came to pay his respect, there must be persons wailing beside the body. So when the family needed rest, they would hire women to do the job, because the female voice was shrill and loud.
“Let’s go in.” A woman beside Linda pushed Linda to go in with her. To have company would make her not look so awkward. So Linda led the way in, pushed by the woman from behind.
It was close to the dusk. Linda and the woman were given supper first and then asked to work the night shift. Linda and woman were led into the hall where the coffin was laid at the far end. Linda noticed that the end of the coffin was different in shape from that in America, which was octagon, while the two ends were different in size and shape in China. It was rectangular at the bigger end for the head and square at the smaller end for the feet. There was a table before the coffin with candles and incenses burning the whole night. That was why they needed people working night shift to take care of the burning candles so that they would not cause a fire as there were so many white paper decorations in the hall.
Linda and the woman sat on the side of the coffin. She did not know what to do as a hired wailer and so she just followed what the woman did. When a visitor came, the woman began to bewail and covered her eyes with a handkerchief as if she really shed tears. Linda followed suit. As soon as the visitor left, the woman stopped crying and took the handkerchief off her eyes, which were totally dry. Linda thought it ridiculous, but it was the tradition and she could not change the tradition, however ridiculous it was.
The visitors came less and less as the night went deep. It was now almost midnight. The night watchman struck three times. Other servants and maids had gone to sleep one hour earlier. Linda and the woman were left in the hall to look after the burning candles.
Linda could not stay awake any more. She would like to have a cup of hot coffee, but there was no coffee in the sixteen century in China. The woman sitting beside her was dozing off. Linda let her eyelids drop, too.
Linda had no idea how long she had dozed. She awakened when she heard a sudden noise. She opened her eyes to look what it was. To her panic she saw the lid of the coffin was being pushed up by degrees. At once she woke up the woman, who was still yawning.
Linda did not dare to speak. She thought that any sound might expedite the action of that thing. So she pointed to the coffin and signaled the woman to look that way.
The lid suddenly slipped onto the floor. The body in the coffin jumped out. It was stiff. The limbs could not move separately by themselves. Only the whole body could leap forward, rigidly.
“Let’s run.” The woman whispered. She was also afraid to speak aloud. She started to dash out of the hall, dragging Linda along by the hand. “That’s the mutation of the corpse.” She told Linda while gasping, “We call it vampire.”
“Will it suck our blood?” Linda asked, terrified. She had watched a lot of movies and read a lot of books about vampire. She had thought that vampires, werewolves, as well as witches, were all legends, no such things in the world. But now, she witnessed a vampire herself. Perhaps, these things did exist in the olden times. They were extinct now as dinosaurs were.
“Sure. If it doesn’t do us any harm, why should we run like mice before a cat?”
Linda looked back. The vampire leaped fast and was very close behind. They had to maneuver like rabbits, making a sudden turn to the right. The vampire was clumsy at changing directions. It sprang straight forward. When it found that it had lost its target in front, it halted all at once and made a maladroit turn toward them. It began to leap again, faster and faster. Therefore, they made the turns oftener to elude being caught.
In the movies she had seen in America, a silver wedge would have conquered a vampire. But she did not know what could vanquish a Chinese vampire.
“We can’t keep running like that. We must do something to stop it.” She said to the woman. Both were out of breath now. She said the words between gasps.
“We must get a broom to throw at it.” She replied.
“Where can we get a broom?” Linda wondered.
“I don’t know. We are not familiar with the surroundings.” The woman despaired.
They were then entering the back garden. There were big rocks here and there among the trees and lawns. Linda noticed that the vampire could not jump high. She pulled the woman toward behind a rock and stopped running while getting breath back. The vampire hit the rock and fell on the ground, but it jumped up on its feet and continued its chase.
Linda and the woman ran anew. Presently they reached a pond. Linda jumped into the water, pulling the woman into it. The woman could not swim. In ancient China, women were not permitted to learn to swim. However, Linda managed to make the woman's head keep above water and drag her along in the water.
The vampire seemed not to know that there was water before it. It leaped into water, too. But it could not swim, nor could it jump up or forth in water. Since it could not move its limbs, it floated on the surface.
Linda reached the other side and drew the woman onto the dry ground. The woman did not faint, only wet and weary. They were safe now. They lay on the ground for a rest. After a while, they got up on their feet and turned their eyes to the pond. The vampire was floating there.
“We must find someone, better the butler, so that they can get that thing back into the coffin.” The woman said. So they went back into the hall to see anyone would be there. But they found none. Everyone was in sleep now. The day did not break yet.
Then they heard the gong was being struck four times. “Let’s go and find the night watchman.” The woman suggested. So they followed the sound of gong being hit and found the watchman. This watchman worked for the family and knew of course where to find the butler.
When informed of the accident, the butler had to report to the head of the family. Hearing it, almost all the family members got up. They all wanted to see the vampire. When the body was taken out of the water and onto the ground, it stayed still, no longer a vampire. The body was dried and the wet clothes on it were changed before it was put back into the coffin and the lid restored. More long nails were driven in to keep the lid firmly on the coffin so that such an accident would not happen again.
Everyone was disappointed that they missed the rare chance to see the vampire in action. But they forgot the fact that they would risk their lives to see a vampire.
Since everyone was up now, Linda and the woman were needed no more. They got paid and left. “Sorry.” The woman apologized to Linda, “I got you into this mess and almost lost our lives.”
“That’s okay since we are still alive.” Linda took leave of the woman and went her own way.

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2018-03-25 20:08 #398 海外逸士
海外逸士 回复: 詩詞古文英譯集帖
Chapter 24

She walked through a village after a village, a town after a town, a city after a city, in the direction the sun set. One day in the evening she reached a reclusive big house, owned by a wealthy family. The nearest neighbor was five li (about two miles) away. She lodged in it. The hostess was very nice to her. After supper, the hostess asked a favor of Linda.
“What’s it?” Linda inquired, “I don’t know if I can do it.”
“Sure, you can do it, or I won’t ask.” said the hostess.
Linda waited for her to go on.
“I have a son, who is seriously sick.”
Linda’s heart thumped wildly. She feared that the woman would ask her to marry her sick son like in another case she had witnessed.
“Sorry, I can’t marry your sick son.” She ejaculated.
“I’ve never thought of it. I won’t ask a stranger to marry my son. That’s not what I will ask you for the favor.”
“Then what’s it?”
“Have you heard of fox genie, who often turns into a pretty girl and runs after boys?”
Linda had certainly heard of it during the time she lived in China, though she did not believe it.
“When a fox genie finds a boy she likes, she will come into his bedroom every night, assuming the form of a beautiful girl and has sex with him. How can a boy refuse a beautiful girl? Even if he rejects, the fox genie will succeed, using her magic power. The problem is that the fox genie sucks excessive sperm from the boy. We believe sperm is the essence of a boy’s life. If sperm is all gone, the boy will die. This is the case with my son. It began almost half a year ago and my son looks like a skeleton now.”
“Why does the fox genie want to suck sperm? What’s the use for her?”
“I don’t know, but it is said that human sperm can prolong the life of a fox genie.” Then she added jokingly, “You can ask the fox genie herself if she comes.”
“What can I do? I don’t have any magic power to drive the fox genie away.” Linda observed.
“You don’t need to do anything. Just sit in my son’s bedroom.”
“What’s the use for me to sit there?” Linda wondered.
“It is said that if a girl’s with the boy, the fox genie won’t have sex with him before a girl.”
“If that’s so easy, I can do it.” Linda agreed in earnest. She did want to save the boy’s life.
“Thank you very much. You only need to sit there during the night. You can do whatever you like during the daytime.”
“What if I fall asleep while sitting there?”
“I don’t know. We’ll see if you do. It’s time now. Let’s go.”
The woman led Linda into the boy’s bedroom and introduced her to her son, who acknowledged by a slight nod of his head. The boy lay in bed and looked really skinny. When the woman told her son about her plan, he did not say anything and shut his eyes.
The furniture in this room consisted of a single bed with a large canopy over it, a table with two chairs at either side of it by the window, a cabinet against one wall by the headboard side and some trunks, one on top of another, against the opposite wall.
The bed curtains on this side of the canopy were generally hooked up in the day and let down at night when the boy was sleeping. But that night the curtains could not be let down because Linda sat in the room and watched over him to see whether the fox genie would come to have sex with him or not.
Linda took her seat at the table by the window. There was a candle in the center of the table. Presently the woman left. Linda just sat there. She could do nothing in the candle light, which was so dim, compared with the electric lights Linda had been used to in America.
Linda felt sleepy after midnight, but she did not dare even to doze off. She was a responsible girl. Once she promised to do something, she must keep her promise. If in America, she could have drunk some coffee to keep her staying awake, but now in China, in the sixteenth century, no coffee was available. She pinched her left arm hard with her right hand so that the pain would drive her drowsiness away.
Soon it dawned and nothing happened overnight. Linda had been told that she could leave the bedroom at daybreak. So she went to her own bedroom for some sleep. When she woke up, it was early afternoon. She got up and got into her dress. A maid came in with washing water and then came again with food. When she was eating, the hostess came in and waited for her to finish.
“Anything happened last night?” She inquired.
“Nothing.” Linda replied laconically.
“Thank you very much for your help.” The woman was really grateful.
Linda bade her farewell and wanted to leave. But the woman importuned her to stay longer.
“Oh, my good girl, you can’t leave like that. You must stay till my son’s recovered.” The woman was almost in tears.
“Madam, why don’t you send a maid in?” Linda had had the question turning in her mind all night. She thought that if a girl like herself could keep away the fox genie, any girl could do it.
“The maid is so young. She’s only thirteen. When I wanted to send her in, she was so frightened that she almost fainted. How could I force her for that?” She explained. "When I asked you for the favor, you didn’t faint, nor refused. So I think you are the right person. If you can stay, say, for a month, the fox genie can have no more chance to come and may find someone else. Once the fox genie stops coming, my son will get well soon.”
It seemed a life and death problem. She could not harden her heart to refuse the request. So she stayed. “I’m working night shift.” She said to herself.
Sometimes she felt her eyelids so heavy and could not help dozing off for a few minutes. When she opened her eyes, everything was the same, all quiet. It meant that the fox genie did not take the advantage to come. Linda wished that she could see a fox genie and ask her why she wanted to suck a boy’s sperm.
One night she planned to have some sleep, not just to doze off, so as to give the fox genie more time that she might see one when she woke up. But her scheme was wasted. Nothing had happened. She doubted if there was really a fox genie in existence.
During the month, the boy got gradually recovered. The mother thanked Linda profusely.
“Ah, my good girl, you can stay here as long as you like if you don’t have anywhere to go. Make it your home.” The woman said honestly.
Linda thought that she could hide here safely. So she stayed willingly.
Soon the boy got totally well anew. He was eighteen now and was educated at home under the private tutorship of a learned scholar, who was staying with the family. The textbooks at that time were all classics, including literature and poetry. There were no physics and chemistry, no algebra and geometry. Sometimes pupils were taught how to add and subtract and asked to memorize the multiplication table.
Boys of eighteen already knew sex, but in ancient China boys and girls should strictly keep a polite distance between them. Their marriage was decided by parents. They could not see each other until after the wedding ceremony. Then they began to know each other, understand each other and then deliberately fall in love with each other, if they could. If they fitted each other in all respects, they were a lucky pair and would live happily ever after. If not, they would often quarrel. The strange thing was that the husband could divorce the wife and send her back to the home of her parents, but not vice versa.
Since boys could not easily approach girls, once they were in a secret contact with one, they were like a piece of dry wood that easily caught fire. That was why the son could not refuse the induction of the fox genie in the form of a beautiful girl.
One night after dinner, the woman invited Linda to sit for a while in her bedroom. She wanted to have a tête-à-tête with Linda.
“Where are your parents, if you don’t mind my asking?” The woman began.
“I’m alone here.”
“So you are an orphan?”
“Almost.”
“You never got married, I guess?” She wanted to make sure that the girl was still a virgin.
“Of course not.”
“Do you like my son?” In ancient China people never said the word “love” referring to the relationship between the opposite sex.
From her experience Linda knew from the beginning where the conversation would lead to. So she replied readily, “I won’t marry your son.”
The woman knew that she could not force it on her and so dropped the heart-to-heart talk and let Linda go. Linda bade her good night and went back to her own bedroom. She lay in bed, but could not fall into sleep right away. She sank into reverie.
“Why do people always want me to marry their sons when I lodge in their houses?” She asked herself, but could get no answer. She was tired of it. She decided to set out on her aimless journey again tomorrow morning.
However, when she told the woman that she would depart after breakfast and thanked her for the hospitality, the woman asked her to stay one day more because she would marry the maid to her son so that the fox genie would not return to bother him.
“Good idea!” Linda said and complied with her invitation. That night a hasty wedding was held, but the maid was only a concubine. The boy could still marry another girl of the same social status and of equal wealth as wife.
Early next day Linda took leave of the woman and her family.

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2018-04-01 20:01 #399 海外逸士
海外逸士 回复: 詩詞古文英譯集帖
Chapter 25

Linda was vexed with the problem that people always wanted her to marry their sons, but could not find a proper solution. She walked on and on, and finally entered a small town. At the turn of a street she accidentally bumped into a boy. The boy screamed in a shrill voice like a girl. Then he blamed Linda for bumping into him, but the voice was really a girl's.

Even in old China there were tomboys, who would be attired as a boy and would perform a lot of mischievous deeds. This boy, or rather girl, had just made a practical joke on a pedlar by drawing a pig on his back furtively. The pedlar was her neighbor. When Linda knocked on her, she was on her way to escape.
Then a wonderful idea struck Linda. Why would she not pretend to be a boy, though she was not a tomboy in real life? Now she was looking for a ready-made clothes store, but could not find one. She was not familiar with the town. So she had to ask somebody and was told that there was one two blocks down.
She bought some boy’s clothes and carried them in a bundle to some deserted place. After she made sure that there was no one at the site, she changed into them. “Remember, I’m a boy now.” She reminded herself. She tucked her hair into a boy’s cap. She wanted to make sure if she was looking like a boy, but she could not find a mirror. When she walked past a pond, she stooped to look into the smooth water that reflected her image. A familiar boy smiled at her from the mirror of water. She was satisfied with the disguise. Then she decided that she would play a mute boy lest her voice should betray her.
She continued on her trip. In the evening she reached another small town and put up at an inn. She went up to the counter. As she must play mute, she had to communicate by gestures.
“How can I help you, sir?” The counter clerk asked.
She declined her head to her right side and put her two hands palm to palm together on her cheek, a common gesture for sleep. Another clerk led her to a guest room. At that time there was no lock on a bedroom door. A wooden latch was attached on the inside for a person to secure it when sleeping. “Will you have supper in the room or in the dining hall, sir?” The clerk asked.
Linda pointed to the table in the room, meaning she would have it here. The clerk left in a hurry and presently returned with a teapot and a teacup. He poured a cup of tea for Linda and asked, “What do you want for supper, sir?” Linda could not order as she should not speak. She made a gesture of writing. The clerk took out a piece of paper and a brush and an ink box. Linda wrote down what she wanted and handed it to the clerk. About half an hour later, the clerk came again with the supper.
After the table was cleared, the clerk brought in a hot towel for Linda to clean her face and hands. Then he brought in a basin of hot water for Linda to wash her feet. When the basin was taken away, Linda latched the door and went to sleep.
Next day she set off after breakfast. Soon she was out of the town. When the sun clambered high she felt weary and took a break, sitting on a rock by the road. After a while a wagon came drawn by a donkey. An old man sat on it, looking like a peasant. The wagon was empty. He must have dropped some goods and was returning home. Linda stood up and asked for a ride. Pointing to herself and then pointing to the wagon, she made a sitting posture. The man understood and nodded his consent. So she climbed on it and sat crossed-legged.
The old man was talkative, forgetful that she was mute. Linda only said “ah-ah” in reply. Then the man began to hum a rural tune to himself while from time to time he was smoking some sort of tobacco in a long-stemmed pipe.
It was toward the dusk when they reached a village. Generally a village had no inns. That was why a traveler must depend on the kindness of a host or hostess. Once in the village, the old man stopped his wagon before the gate of a big house and said to Linda, “I think you must stay here for the night. My humble home is very small and untidy, and can’t let a rich young man like you sleep in there. You can lodge in this house. The family never refuses to take in travelers.”
Linda understood why the old man thought her rich because she had by mistake bought silk clothes that rich people wore. She realized it when she put them on and she could not go to change them. Now she had to pretend to be rich.
She got down from the wagon, and taking out a small piece of silver, she gave it to the old man as a sign of thanks for riding on his wagon. He took it and thanked Linda, who already turned to go to knock at the double door of that big house.
The door opened and the head of manservants in uniform appeared from behind the door.
"The young man is a mute. He needs food and board." The old man shouted to the manservant, who opened the door wide to let Linda in as he heard what the old man had said and as the young man looked so harmless.
Linda was led to the sitting room. She was received by the host, who was in his fifties. The host was so surprised to see such a handsome young man before him and the young man looked like coming from a rich family.
The host had a daughter of sixteen years old and was at present seeking for a suitable young man for his daughter. He could not find one in this village. Now a young man came to his door.
“Where did you come from, young man?” The host commenced the conversation.
Linda feigned to be mute and asked for paper and brush and ink. She wrote “From Peking” when she got the supplies. She would almost have written, “From America.” She had wanted to write the name of some city closer to here, but she knew few names of the cities or towns in China. Besides Peking or Beijing, the only city she knew was Shanghai. But she seemed to have learned that Shanghai developed in Qing Dynasty (1644—1911 A. D.), not in Ming Dynasty in which she was now.
“He must come from the family of some high officials.” The host thought. “If he can marry my daughter, I will have a strong relationship with the high officialdom. The only defect is that he is mute. But it is also an advantage. He won’t quarrel with my daughter.”
“Where do you want to go?”
“Just travel all over the country.” She wrote. She really did not know where she would go.
“If you are not in a hurry, you can stay here a little longer.” He invited.
Since Linda had really no definite destination, she accepted the offer. The host was happy and sent a message to his wife and daughter, who knew his intention.
At dinner the mother and daughter came out to meet Linda. They both were fond of Linda at the first sight. Linda looked at the daughter, too, because young girls would attract each other more easily. The daughter was pretty and had a sweet smile. Linda also liked her.
The daughter often invited Linda to go out in their family coach during her stay. They went to see the mountains some miles away. There was a beautiful waterfall, which formed a clear brook on the gentle slope. The daughter took off her shoes and socks and dipped her feet in the cool water. Linda followed suit.
“You have nicely-shaped feet. Your feet don’t look like a boy’s, so small and so white.” She commented. Linda pointed to her own feet and then pointed to the feet of the daughter. It meant that her feet were also small and white, almost the same size.
“A boy’s feet should be bigger than mine.” She smiled at Linda, who wanted to ask, “Is that a rule?” But they left the paper and brush and ink in the coach, which parked at the foot of the mountain. She just said, “Ah-ah” instead.
It was almost a month when at last the father put up the proposal. “Do you like my daughter?” He asked Linda one evening after dinner when only he and Linda were in the sitting room. The paper and brush and ink were all ready on the table before Linda. She just nodded. She really liked the other girl. She forgot that when Chinese people said “like”, it actually meant “love”.
“Would you like to marry her?”
Linda was stunned. To avoid the possibility that people would ask her to marry their sons, she went through all the trouble to change into a boy’s clothes. But now she was astonished and confused. How could it happen that she was asked to marry someone’s daughter when she was disguised as a boy?
Involuntarily she ejaculated, “Sorry, I can’t.” How could she marry a girl? She was not a lesbian.
Then it was the host’s turn to be astounded. How could the young man speak if he was mute? He did not realize yet that the voice sounded like a girl’s.
“I’m also a girl in a boy’s clothes, which will make me travel more conveniently." Linda confessed. Then she told the father the stories about the proposed marriages to people’s sons. That was why she had put on a boy’s clothes.
The man was delighted by her stories, but disappointed at the disillusion of his dream. He sent for his wife and daughter and repeated the stories to them, who were totally surprised, too. But the daughter did not care. She still liked Linda. She was only sixteen, not eager to get married. She liked a playmate better.
That night when Linda lay in bed, she thought to herself, “I must leave as my secret has been revealed.” Therefore, next day, she bade adieu to the family. The host did not ask her to stay longer. Only the daughter felt sorry that Linda would leave so soon. She gave Linda a white long dress as a token of friendship. “When you are tired of being a boy, you can put on this dress to be a girl again.” The daughter said.

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2018-04-08 20:08 #400 海外逸士
海外逸士 回复: 詩詞古文英譯集帖
Chapter 26

Before long Linda entered a district in the southwestern China, where many minorities lived. The weather is warm there. Some minorities lived in houses made of bamboos instead of logs. The bamboo houses were not put up on the ground. They were high above the ground. People erected many thick bamboos with the big ends firmly in the ground like pillars. Then they built the horizontal floor at about a person’s height with the bamboo stairs from the ground up for the access, then the bamboo walls with windows. Everything inside was also made of bamboo.
Linda lodged in one of the houses. She climbed up the bamboo stairs into the outer room. The family had two children, a boy of ten and a girl of nine. Everyone just sat on the bamboo floor around a low bamboo table. Then supper was served. It was rice cooked inside a piece of hollow bamboo trunk. The rice had a special good scent. Linda never tasted such rice before and liked it.
When it was bed time, Linda got a quilt as a mattress put on the bamboo floor and a sheet of cloth as a cover. It was not so comfortable as a bed, but tolerable. The only annoying thing was the squeaking of the bamboo floor when she turned on the quilt.
Life was easy here. Linda loved to stay longer. She could pay the family for that. She guessed that no one could find her if she lived here. However, she wanted to travel further to see more of this beautiful district. She could come back any time when she had enough of roaming.
Next day she took leave of the family and went further west. She walked by a stream and saw some girls ahead, washing clothes in it. When Linda passed them, one of the girls threw some water on her, which wetted her clothes a little. She turned to look what the matter was.
There was a peculiar tradition among this minority about the girls selecting their husbands. When a girl was at waterside, if she saw a passing boy she liked, whether it was her kinsfolk or a total stranger, she would throw some water on him. The tradition decided that if the boy ignored the girl and went straight ahead, it meant that the boy did not like the girl and that if the boy turned to look at the girl, it meant that the boy liked the girl and the girl must marry the boy.
Nevertheless, Linda did not know the tradition and turned to look at the girl. Now all the girls ran up to surround her. Linda was at a loss what to do. The girls did not say anything to Linda, just pushed her toward the village at a distance. Linda had to follow them.
They reached a house, made of logs as pillars and dried mud plastered on some wooden frames as walls. A girl pushed Linda into the house, which consisted only of one room. There was a table and some benches. Linda sat on one of the benches, waiting to see what would happen next. She must still pretend to be mute.
Since there were a few girls, Linda did not know which girl had thrown water on her as she had not witnessed the action. Linda thought the girl pushing her in was the one throwing water on her, but actually she was wrong. The girl splashing water on her would be the bride tonight and was hiding somewhere else.
The girl pushing Linda in was leaning on the door jamb. Other girls were nowhere to be seen. The girl must have been told to watch over her lest she should run away. Linda did not know what they wanted of her. Suddenly she had a surmise that they might kill her as a sacrifice to their deity. She had read that such things did happen with the primitive natives in Africa. It was better that she should escape now. She could easily conquer this girl as she had been an athlete at school. She was about to stand up and rush forth when a group of girls and women came into sight. Linda had to stop and kept sitting where she was.
Two women came in while the girls stood outside. One of the women congratulated Linda, saying that she had been chosen to be the husband of the girl who had splashed water on her. Now Linda became aware of the reason why they brought her here. It was the second time that such things happened to her. She had had some experience before and now showed some amusement on her face. At least she could be at rest that she would not be killed as a sacrifice to a deity.
She said ah-ah and made some gestures to show that she was mute. She reckoned that they might not want to have a mute as the girl’s husband. Then to the woman’s surprise she found the boy mute. But the tradition maintained that once the relationship was decided by the throwing of water on the girl’s part and the affirmative reaction of the boy, they could not go back on it, no matter whether the boy was a mute or a cripple or one having much more serious conditions.
The woman was the mother of the would-be bride. The sole comfort she got was that the boy was very handsome, the handsomest among all the husbands the girls in the village had married.
Then the women and the girls all left except the one leaning against the door jamb. Linda did not need to flee now. Besides, she had a secret weapon to use if she was cornered.
Soon it was dinner time. Another woman came to take Linda to a square where there was a wedding party ready. Linda was arranged to sit beside the bride. Food was put on the table and Linda felt very hungry. So she just helped herself to everything served. When dinner was finished, everybody stood up and went to sit on the ground around a bonfire. According to the tradition, the bride and the bridegroom should dance and sing round the bonfire to entertain the guests.
Linda thought that it was time to reveal her identity. She shouted aloud, “Sorry, I can’t marry her.” Everyone was stunned hearing a girl’s ringing voice issued from the mute boy. No one said anything. So Linda went on, “I’m really a girl myself. I put on a boy’s clothes because it’s more convenient for me to travel. How can a girl marry a girl?”
Finally it dawned on the people in the square. But it was not the stranger’s fault. She did not know their tradition and she had the freedom to disguise herself as a boy.
The bride began to burst into laughter as if it was the most laughable thing in the world. The other girls chuckled and giggled. Since the time of their ancestors, they had never got a fake boy for a husband. This time the disappointed bride hit the “jackpot”.
It seemed as if the laughing was infectious and all the people started to guffaw, too. Linda could not help smiling. Laughing made the awkward situation turn into a merry moment. At least no harm was done to the bride and she could still find a husband.
Gradually the laughter abated and the young people, girls and boys, recommenced dancing and singing. Why not make the merry moment last longer?
Linda joined in the dancing. She learned fast and danced to the tune of the singing. Linda had now changed into a girl’s dress she had got as a memento, the white long dress reaching her ankles. She looked like a goddess from the heaven. Three boys, who thought themselves handsome enough to be the husband of Linda, wanted to befriend Linda first. There was another tradition among this minority that once a month there would be a gathering of young people. During the dancing and singing, a boy could court a girl. The way of courting was special. The boy sang out love words in the song he improvised on the spot. If the girl agreed to marry the boy, she could sing back with the words of consent. Then the parents of both families would arrange their wedding party.
The three boys took the opportunity to turn the occasion into a courting gathering. They danced around Linda and sang the love words. But as Linda did not understand what all this meant, all their efforts were in vain. When the boys saw that Linda could not respond in the way the tradition demanded, they resorted to the other alternative means. Each of them plucked a pretty wild flower and offered it to Linda. If she accepted the flower of any of them, Linda should marry him.
Since the previous experience, Linda became wary. But before she had time to react, three girls rushed over here to Linda’s rescue. One of them pulled Linda away from the boys. It was because the three girls were fond of the three boys and were waiting for the boys to respectively court them. So they did not want any of them to marry the alien girl.
Linda was towed to the circle with the bride in. Other girls were teasing her. On seeing Linda coming, the bride scurried over and shouted to Linda, “You are my friend though you can’t be my husband. Pray, stay with us if you are not on an urgent errand.”
“I’m just traveling and sightseeing. I can stay for a while.” Linda said honestly.
During Linda’s stay, the three boys often came to visit her, but every time they appeared, there were the three girls with Linda. And they acted like Linda’s bodyguards against the boys.
The three girls secretly wished that Linda should leave soon though they could not drive her away. Linda could guess what was happening. Therefore, after ten days, she departed to the delight of the three girls and to the disappointment of the three boys.

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