I FTRST met him at a port on “ the river.” — by which shorter but satisfactorily definite title all China residents designate the great Yangtsze Kiang.
The importance of that magnificent natural highway few of those who have not lived in China realize. Flowing thousands of miles through province after province, it bears on its rushing current hundreds of thousands of tons of produce yearly, in every conceivable kind of craft, — from the stately river steamers, which remind one of those which ply on the Hudson, the ocean-going tea clippers, the coastwise lorchas, and junks of every size, down to the tiny sampans ; and every boat bears upon either side a painted eye, for as any Chinaman will tell you, “ Suppose no got eye, how fashion can see ; and suppose no can see, how fashion can walkee ? ” Some day the river will be written of as it deserves, and the description of its wonderful gorges and rapids, its varied beautiful scenery, its yearly rising and falling, will be as interesting as instructive. In summer it often reaches a height of forty feet above its winter level, inundating cities and large tracts of land along its banks. It flo-ws through the finest tea-growing country, and all the porcelain which is used in the empire is distributed over its waters. It is ever changing, ever interesting, and always picturesque, — seeming to me a necessary background for my friend AhChy, as he was a citizen of one of the river ports.
Meeting Ah-Chy first as the compradore of one of the largest tea merchants, who was our neighbor and friend, we had many opportunities of acquaintance with him. Tall, handsome, erect, between forty and fifty years of age, with the most wonderful command of pidgin English 1 it was ever my good fortune to listen to, he was a delight to encounter ; and our interest in collecting porcelain brought us so often into our neighbor’s go-down to inspect fresh installments that we encountered him frequently. He had taken a lower literary degree, I believe, and was eligible for official position and promotion.
We were a very small foreign community,— foreign in China means any nationality not Chinese, — fourteen all told ; yet a very cosmopolitan little circle, including English, French, Russian, American, Scotch, Danish, and German representatives ; and for a time I found myself in one of the most enviable, delightful positions in the world, — that of being the only lady in the port.
On the occasion of a great review of Chinese troops gathered from many parts of the province, and the consequent congregating of its highest officials who were the inspecting dignitaries, it came about that we were hidden to a dinner given at the residence of China’s large Mercantile Marine Company to meet these provincial magnates. The dinner was served entirely in foreign style, doubtless because of the wish to honor the foreign officials present, and to the great delight of the one lady she was included in the invitation. Perhaps her presence was added to make it seem entirely foreign to the Chinese participants.
As I entered the drawing-room all the gentlemen rose, and in response to my inclination — intended to be very courteous — toward each of the gorgeously appareled Chinese, and my murmured “ Ta-yen hao,” each in turn raised his hands slowly to his face, the right clasped over the left, while I heard in reply, “ Tai Tai hao.” I had quite forgotten to ask, as I had fully purposed, what was the proper salutation to make on being introduced to such high and mighty personages ; but suddenly remembering that I had always heard my husband addressed as “ Ta-yen,” and knowing it to be a Chinese official title, I boldly made my little endeavor to be polite, and was afterward told, to my great relief, that I could not have done better.
The Chinese were indeed magnificently robed. From the official hat (which, according to their code of manners, it is discourteous to remove), with flaring black velvet rim, in some cases crowned with a beautiful pink coral bead an inch in diameter, from under which peacock feathers hung down over the back to the coat collar ; the satin coats, with medallions embroidered in every hue, or perhaps only in shades of blue, and dark soft sable linings, a short coat over a long one of different color; down to the high black satin boots with their wooden white-covered soles, they were each well worth study and admiration. They were stately, decorous, polite, without even the shadow of a smile on their faces, which might have looked expressionless except for the brightness and intelligence of their eyes.
Not so the foreign officials present, who, as they bowed in response to my greeting, smiled almost audibly in very evident enjoyment of the scene. It was the first time some of the Chinese gentlemen had been brought face to face with a foreign lady ; and to have that experience at an official dinner, to see her in full evening toilette, décolleté, must have been a terrible shock to their ideas of what was convenable.
When dinner was announced by the long-coated Chinese butler, the official highest in rank rose, bowed before me, and offered me his arm. Rising, I took it, or tried to take it; for I occupied myself all the way from the drawing-room to the dining-room, through a hall unusually long,— and we went very slowly,— in trying to find out with the tips of my gloved fingers whether or not there was any arm inside the wide, satin, sablelined sleeve. That there were several layers of silk under-jacket sleeves, besides, I made sure, and as I neared the dining-table I had just arrived at what I thought was solid enough to be an arm. How I longed to give it just a little hard pinch to find out if I were correct! But even if I had pinched it suddenly and viciously, looking up into the face of my magnificent escort meanwhile, to find out if he had felt it in the least, I am sure he would have made no sign whatever. He would not have believed the evidence of his own senses if they had endeavored to tell him that a woman, and that woman a foreigner, was trying to pierce the mantle of his dignity. Fortunately, my very little understood duty as the wife of a foreign official kept me from playing any such prank, but it was a terrible temptation.
The deftness and aptitude with which the Chinese used the new and utterly unaccustomed knives, forks, and spoons, in lieu of their universally useful chopsticks, without showing that they were closely watching what ought to be done with them, was perfectly wonderful. They simply waited a second or two after they were served with a course, and, glancing apparently quite casually round the table, proceeded to use whatever the foreigners did and in exactly the same manner. It was fascinating to watch all these details, and I found that I had to keep myself well in hand, for fear that, in my interest and amazement, I should be detected observing them, and should show that I had less politeness than these quiet, keen - eyed, imitative representatives of one of the oldest and most ceremonious civilizations.
The dinner-table was beautifully decorated with flowers and leaves laid on the white table-cloth in many different designs, surrounding the quaintly shaped dishes of fruit and sweetmeats. The variety of ways in which a Chinese butler can adorn a table is endless and marvelous, and was always a pleasure and surprise to me in my own home. In China, no hostess needs to oversee the arrangements for a dinner-party, but can walk in with her guests as free from care or anxiety as any of them, without even having looked beforehand to see that everything is in order. Each table napkin is folded in a distinctive shape, sometimes imitating a swan or a bird, with a colored paper eye stuck on either side of the rather queer-looking head, while a buttonhole bouquet is tucked in at the top, ready for the guest to appropriate as he sits down. The carving and serving are done entirely from the sideboard, and there are as many men to wait at table as there are guests, for each guest brings his own servant. The butler of the host looks after the opening and serving of the wine, deputing the carving meanwhile to some other butler he can trust. I think it shows the prevailing honesty of the servants who are thus gathered together at every dinner-party (and they are many ; I can well remember dining out eleven consecutive evenings) that I never heard of a case of theft. All the domestics of the household where the dinner - party was in progress were busy in the diningroom, pantry, or kitchen, the rest of the house being quite unoccupied ; and as we never locked up any of our personal belongings, it would have been easy enough for a servant to slip away and help himself to anything he might fancy.
Chinese butlers have, too, a strange system of give and take, which twenty-five years ago used to prevail much more extensively than it does now ; in fact, it was then universal. At the first large dinner-party to which I was invited — I went as a bride — I found myself eating with my own brand-new knives, forks, and spoons. I stared at them very hard, but there could be no mistake, for there was the fresh monogram. I was dreadfully distressed, but did not dare to say anything. When I reached home I told my husband rather tremblingly, for I was quite sure they had been stolen. To my amazement, he only laughed and said, “ Oh, you will get quite used to it very soon; and when you have too many guests, you will find that instead of asking you to get more supplies the butler will just get your neighbors’, and always make up the deficiency.” And so it proved. I can well remember, once when my husband had asked eight in to dinner only half an hour before the usual time (one for each of the delicious first spring snipe he had just shot), that there appeared later a splendid roast leg of mutton as one of our courses. Now I knew that we had no mutton, for earlier in the day the cook had been bewailing the non-arrival of the Shanghai steamer by which it always came. Turning to the gentleman on my left, I asked, “ Did your steamer come from Shanghai to-day ? ”
I looked down to the other end of the table, where my husband was carving the unexpected treasure trove with very evident enjoyment. “Well, ours did not,” said I, “ and yet ” —
He caught sight of the mutton. “ Oh, I suppose that is mine,” he laughed. “ No doubt yours will come to-morrow, and probably be much better ; so I shall be the gainer this time, and shall enjoy it all the more.”
The cooks kept very strict accounts among themselves, I am sure, and we never suffered by these exchanges, while it was unspeakably comforting to know that at any time, if occasion arose, we could feel quite sure of having our neighbor’s dinner, cooked in his kitchen and handed over the wall, provided only we remembered to invite him.
Away in a northern port, a party of bachelors were once enjoying themselves in a happy, hearty fashion round the dinner-table ; and among them was a fresh arrival from Scotland, whose means of smiling were so capacious that really, when he laughed, which he did almost continuously, there was ever present the old danger of the upper part of his head becoming an island. There was also a gentleman who had spent much time in the interior, and whose knowledge of Chinese was both profound and varied. While conversation and laughter abounded, he chanced to overhear a remark made by one of the “ boys ” who was waiting at table ; and, while pretending not to listen, he soon found out that every foreigner present was being spoken of by a nickname which referred to his personal appearance.
When the servants had retired, and the foreigners were enjoying their coffee and cigars, the sinologue told the others what he had overheard, and mentioned as many of the sobriquets as he could remember. The young Scotchman’s was not among them, so he proceeded, next day, to find out from his own “ boy ” what it was. When he got him into the room, he locked the door, stood with his back to it, and told the badly scared servant he would not let him out until he confessed. By dint of coaxing and threats he finally induced the poor frightened Chinaman to blurt out that it was “ codfish mouth.” The entire appropriateness of the nickname overcame him, and he shouted with laughter, making the fitness still more apparent. One of the funniest parts of it all was to watch the faces of his friends when he told them the story, which he did many times and often. Their sense of politeness would make them struggle bravely not to laugh ; but when, having reached the climax, he bestowed upon them the full comprehensiveness of his smile, it was absolutely impossible not to join in the hearty laughter which he always led with contagious good humor.
I have often wondered since in how many other ways we foreigners were ridiculed by our quiet, demure-looking domestics. But I must get back to my official dinner, even at the risk of being made fun of.
Beside me at table, to my great delight, I found Ah-Chy, and my husband nearly opposite. After dinner had begun, one of the Chinese magnates at my husband’s side began telling him an adventure of the previous evening, when he had accompanied home one of his colleagues who had imbibed too freely of champagne. While he was describing the struggles and antics of his unsteady friend, I looked up, caught my husband’s eye, and laughed heartily. The official stared, turned, and asked quickly in Chinese (he could neither speak nor understand one word of English), “ Does your honorable wife understand Chinese ? ”
When my husband answered in the affirmative, the poor man was painfully distressed and shocked, because he thought he had been telling an indiscreet story. He was unnecessarily penitent, making humble apologies and explanations, protesting that he had no idea whatever that I understood his language even a little, else he would never have transgressed in such a manner. He was with difficulty persuaded that I was in reality very much amused, and not in the least shocked; which in turn must have upset his ideas, and probably started him wondering as to the emancipation (he would have called it something very different) of foreign women.
Ah-Chy had been enjoying it all, meantime, in several ways, and after we had talked on many matters of local interest I suddenly said to him, “ How many piecee wife you just now have catchee [got], Ah-Chy?”
“ Just now ? Oh, just now have catchee seven piecee, before time have catchee eight piecee, one piecee have makee finish, so just now have catchee seven piecee.”
“ Makee finish, what thing you talkee ? I no savey what thing belong makee finish.”
“ Oh, makee finish belong all same you talkee makee die, one piecee makee die, all same makee finish.”
“ What side you number one [first] wife, Ah-Chy ? ”
“ Oh, he belong Kwangtung side, you savey, he no likee stop this side, so he makee stop Kwangtung, you plenty savey China fashion no belong all same foreign fashion number one wife any time wantee stop he own home.” (There is only one gender in pidgin English ; everything is masculine.)
After a little I turned and said laughingly, “ Ah-Chy, talkee my [tell me], what piecee wife you likee more better just now ? ”
He threw his head back with a hearty laugh, and with a twinkle in his eyes said, “Well, I thinkee I likee number five piecee more better just now. He belong good-look-see [pretty] and plenty young.”
“ You belong all same Bluebeard with your eight piecee wife, Ah-Chy.”
“ Who man you talkee ? Who belong Bluebeard ? ”
“ Oh, he belong one piecee man, live long time ago, and he have catchee eight piecee wife, and by and by he no likee, so he cuttee all he heads off.”
“I no belong all same Bluebeard!” he cried. “ What for because I talkee you one piecee wife have makee finish, you talkee my belong all same Bluebeard.? I no likee you talkee my so fashion.”
I appeased him after a time with many assurances that I had only been telling an old fairy tale; but, to my intense surprise and amusement, he went next day into my husband’s office to ask him. “What for your Tai Tai have talkee my belong all same Bluebeard ? ” On my husband’s also assuring him that I was only joking with him, he went away content, for he also dearly loved a joke.
The dinner was a matter of so many courses that I have forgotten all about them, as just such dinners of great length and variety were our universal custom, beginning at eight o’clock in the evening, and often lasting two or more hours. During the long time we sat at table Ah-Chy was ever ready to amuse me by talking on any and every subject. At times it was wholly impossible for me to master the torrent of words in their queer pidgin English setting, and then I would laugh and say, “ Oh, man, man [slower], please, Ah-Chy.” At which he would stop, look rather astonished for an instant, smile, and answer, “ Oh, I savey, you no savey all I talkee,” and go on again as rapidly as before. The solemn gorgeous official on the other side vindicated his idea of what was due to his dignity by treating me with studied though chilling courtesy. He occasionally handed me a dish of sweetmeats within his reach, between the courses, as the only acknowledgment of my inferior (because feminine) existence.
My vis-à-vis of the bibulous story was at first very circumspect in his further remarks ; but I noticed that after he had himself partaken of several glasses of the ever tempting champagne (the only foreign wine the Chinese are universally very fond of) he forgot his late embarrassment, and only now and then regarded me suddenly with a rather frightened look, as if he had just remembered me, and ought to be careful. The look passed quickly away, but was upsetting to my gravity, and I found myself almost laughing aloud every time. It was easy to see that he was a genial soul, and he seemed thoroughly to enjoy the chance of talking so unreservedly with a foreigner who understood him well enough to be able to give back joke for joke in his own language.
Some time afterward, my curiosity — which was then a source of great distress to my family and friends, and which now I wish I had gratified a thousand times more — led me to desire to see the interior of a Chinese pawnshop. The great tall buildings here and there all over the city, raising their blank walls high above the two-storied uniformity of the vast acreage of the other houses, had a sort of fascination for me.
Ah-Chy came to my aid. His brother owned a large pawnshop in the city, and he volunteered to escort me thither. I suspect Ah-Chy had had a hand in establishing his brother in pawnbroking, and had himself a large interest in the concern ; for in China as elsewhere this is said to be an exceedingly lucrative business. However that may be, it happened that one day my husband and I got into our sedan chairs, each with four bearers, and preceded by Ah-Chy, also in a chair, were soon swinging along through the narrow, crowded, wonderfully picturesque streets of the native city. I was always glad of an opportunity to make an expedition into these strange regions, but I was always a little afraid, and made it a rule to have my chair go in advance of my husband’s ; for the coolies went so quickly, and the crowd was so dense, that his chair could easily turn a corner ahead, and in less time than it takes to tell it I might find myself alone on the streets, many miles from home, and without the faintest idea how to get back. The natives never got accustomed to the sight of a foreign lady, and any shop we entered was sure to be soon besieged by an eager crowd, jostling one another good - naturedly to get a better view of the stranger.
Oh, those streets, those streets ! How can they be described so that one who has never seen them can even imagine what they are like ? The highways of Egypt (Cairo, for instance) have more picturesque coloring, because of the gorgeousness and variety of the head-dresses and clothing of the wearers, gathered together as they are from every nation under the sun. But Chinese streets are unique. The shops, all wide open to the street, with their endless variety of wares spread in full view, are hung on both sides with multitudinous signs of every length and color, brilliant with gold, green, or red lettering. There are evil smells of awful intensity; and the tremendous tide of human life is forever flowing through. Tinkers of every kind abound, each plying his craft at the door of the shop which has supplied him with something to mend. Here is a carnival of repairing,— cobbling shoes, mending broken porcelain and glass, riveting umbrellas. There are women mending and patching garments for so many cash each, then moving on with their little bamboo stools in search of more work; barbers busy shaving or shampooing customers, or dressing their hair; men with cookshops slung on their shoulders from a bamboo, one end weighted with the little earthen charcoal stove, the other with the stock in hand, —probably cakes to fry in evil-smelling castor oil; children of all sizes playing in seeming unconsciousness of the din around them ; beggars in every stage of filth and tatters. There are Buddhist priests with shaven heads and dirty yellow robes, and the ever present, ever empty gourd held out for alms; dogs of every mongrel type ; coolies emptying into buckets, by means of long-handled bamboo ladles, the drainage from the huge kangs sunk in the ground at street corners; presently they swing the buckets over their shoulders and stride away, utterly indifferent to the stench they trail behind ; and as if to supplement the coolies’ task, pigs go grunting along, performing their office of scavengers. All these and more are crowded together in streets only wide enough to allow two sedan chairs to pass each other.
When an official goes abroad in his chair, he usually has a coolie who runs ahead — run he must, for the chairbearers keep up a wonderfully fast gait — and shouts at the top of his voice, “ Chia Quang Ah ! ” which means, I believe, “ Give light, give light,” and is the polite form of saying, “ Make way, there.” I only hope it is more courteous than it sounds, but it certainly makes the pedestrians scuttle into the open shops to get out of the way. So heralded, we brushed through the narrow streets on our visit to the pawnshop. When we entered the huge building I was almost appalled at its size, and amazed at the order and cleanliness of its vast interior. On the long rows of shelves, running up to a great height, with little passageways between, there were thousands upon thousands of bundles, each carefully wrapped up, the little tag with its number hanging in full view from the end. The intense silence and the dim light made it so eerie that I was glad to get out into the sunlight again and hear All-Chy’s cheery flow of pidgin English.
I have been told that at the beginning of summer the wealthy Chinese all pawn their furs, of which they have an enormous number and variety ; redeeming them when the cold weather returns. Out of these pawnshops come a great many of the curios which foreigners find at the shops in the native cities. They are pledged very often by decaying Chinese families, and never redeemed; after a certain length of time — I have forgotten just how long Ah-Chy said it was — the pawnbroker is allowed to sell them.
When summer came, Ah-Chy frequently urged us to visit him at his house on an island in the lake near the city ; and little knowing the pleasant things in store for us, we started one hot afternoon with some foreign gentlemen friends to see his summer home. As we stepped out of our boat we found ourselves on what seemed to be enchanted ground. No description can do justice to the beauty of the little island. We walked up by tiny circuitous paths from the marble steps where the waves twinkled against the white stone. At every turn there were delightful surprises : a miniature landscape with tiny lakes, little rivulets and waterfalls, the daintiest of fairy bridges, toy summer-houses perched in nooks on artificial mountains scarcely twelve inches high ; and out of every crevice peeped delicate maidenhair ferns, tiny shrubs, and wee wild flowers. It made an exquisite animated willow - pattern plate scene, and oh, so beautiful! On every side were these artificial landscapes, blended so ingeniously with the natural beauties that it was often impossible to tell where the one ended and the other began. Here was an evergreen shrub trained on a wire frame to represent a deer, life-size, with head and horns of colored clay, looking strangely queer as they poked out of the body of living green ; there were men and women of the same growing shrub, in native costume, life-size, with heads and hands placed in the proper position, and looking, it must be confessed, exceedingly grotesque. Dotted here and there were porcelain barrel - shaped gardenseats of every hue, and immense bowls, beautifully decorated, full of water, in which swam the lovely little gold and silver fish of which the Chinese are so fond.
With so many claims to our admiration on every hand, we went slowly up to the house on the highest part of the island. We were delighted to find that from one balcony we could look straight down into the lake below, and also away to the magnificent range of mountains beyond. From that side there was nothing whatever to remind us of the great toiling city which lay just behind us, and the view was exceedingly grand.
At the invitation of our courteous, smiling host we entered the house. Everything was in the most orthodox Chinese style; all the furniture, most elaborate in design, very stiffly arranged. After admiring the many beautiful bronzes, cloisonné porcelains, embroideries, lanterns, etc., we were taken into our host’s bedroom, where there was a magnificent Ningpo canopied bedstead, carved and inlaid with ivory. The sides and foot were in the shape of an enormous circle, the corners filled in with open carved wood and ivory. The blankets were laid in long, straight, narrow folds at the foot of the bed, and the pillows and mat were of the finest woven cane.
After praising everything most enthusiastically, I turned suddenly to Ah-Chy and said, “ This belong your room ? ”
“ Yes. You thinkee belong number one handsome ?”
“Yes, indeed; but what side your six piecee wife have got ? I no can see any room this side belong your wife.”
He drew himself up very quickly to his full height of over six feet (I am only five feet two inches), raised his arm, and, pointing to another pretty building of which we could just see the irregular skyline above the trees and shrubs, said in a tone of perfectly indescribable scorn, “ Have got that side. Suppose my wantee, my sendee; talkee he come.”
“ Oh ! ” I gasped. Then, pretending to shake in my shoes with fear and consternation, I said, “ I am plenty glad I no belong China wife, Ah-Chy. I no likee any man talkee my so fashion.”
His face broke into a smile ; he really had looked very angry as he answered me. Now, turning to me with the most courteous inclination, he paid me the prettiest compliment I have ever received: “ Tai Tai, suppose my could catchee one piecee wife all same you, one piecee can do, and my all time likee he stop this side.”
The repartee was so quick and so perfect that we were all taken by surprise, and my friends and husband greeted it with acclamation. Upon my laughing protest that I could never believe myself capable of equaling “ eight piecee wife,” he began, to my dismay, to enumerate my accomplishments, beginning with, “ You makee number one music, makee ridee bobbery [frisky] pony,” and, abetted by the encouragement and laughter of my friends, went on through a long list up to the climax, which he reached in saying, “You just now plenty young and have catchee two piecee boy.” That appealed to him most, for his own two sons had died, and he had been obliged to adopt one, in order to insure a descendant who would worship at his grave and keep his memory green. It is the greatest misfortune and sorrow a Chinaman knows to be sonless, and I felt my heart deeply touched with pity for the man, in the midst of the badinage and fun in which we were all engaged.
Meantime, we had been sauntering through the rooms, and found ourselves again in the large cool salon overlooking the lake, where we rested and did ample justice to the champagne, crystallized fruits, and cakes awaiting us. Then the gentlemen lighted their cigars and I a cigarette, to the delight of our host, who congratulated me, saying, “Ah, Tai Tai, you can smokee all same China wife.”
“ Yes, but my no can smokee pipe, Ah-Chy.”
“ Maskee [no.matter]. Cigarette more better look see. My thinkee by an by China lady savey smokee allo same.”
Before we left, Ah-Chy took us to see his dwarfed fir, a tiny but perfect tree, about nine inches high, which grew in a it beautiful porcelain flower-pot, standing on a garden-seat, evidently in a place of honor, and showing evidence of the greatest care and attention. He told us it had been planted by his father on the day his son Ah-Chy was born, and it was easy to see that he held it in the greatest veneration. He added quite seriously that when he had been ill the little tree had drooped and pined, recovering always as he grew better, and that when he died it would die too. It certainly looked then as fresh and healthy in its tiny way as our host in his vigorous manhood, and we sincerely congratulated him upon its flourishing condition. be seemed much pleased and touched by our expressing the hope that it would he many a long year before there was any evidence that less fortunate days had come upon either of them. We strolled down to the lake by another exquisite pathway, and, after thanking our host for the pleasure of the afternoon, rowed away into the sunset, leaving him gazing after us with manifest kindliness and good will.
Among the pleasant recollections of our leave-taking of the port are AhChy’s regrets that we were going away, and his warmly expressed hope that we might be ordered back again before long. Several years afterward, while we were stationed at a southern port, I was much astonished at seeing our usually very solemn-faced butler appear at the drawing-room door with a comical smile. It was instantly explained by the announcement, “ Tai Tai, Ah-Chy have got ” (is here) ; and in walked my old friend, looking just as well and happy as ever. I chaffed him about being tied to his number one wife’s apron-strings by at least one thread, in spite of the attractiveness of some of the “ six piecee ” away up the river. He laughed, and admitted having come south to see her, saying, “ Must wantee come every two or three year, makee look see how fashion have got” (how she is). After a long talk over old times, in what seemed to me more rapid pidgin English than I had ever heard even him use, Ah-Chy bade me good-by, reiterating the hope that we might be ordered back to our former home.
So out of my life passed my friend; and as .I end this little sketch of him I am very conscious that I am loath to finish it. It seems like breaking one of the links which bind me to the old happy, interesting life of which he formed a part. Every remembrance of him is pleasant, courteous, and amusing, so that it is not surprising that I am sorry to take leave of my friend Ah-Chy.
- “ Pidgin ” is a corruption of the word “ business,” and “ pidgin English " is the queer jargon of broken English arranged according to the Chinese idiom, which, ever since its introduction at Macao as the medium of intercourse between foreigners and Chinese, has formed the language in which the greater part of the domestic and commercial relations are carried on.↩