THE UNEXPURGATED DIARY of a SHANGHAI BABY

ELSIE McCORMICK February 15 1924

THE UNEXPURGATED DIARY of a SHANGHAI BABY

ELSIE McCORMICK February 15 1924

THE UNEXPURGATED DIARY of a SHANGHAI BABY

ELSIE McCORMICK

CHAPTER IV.

In Which the Baby Hears a Conversation on Art as She is Daubed. . . Later Observes the Chinese Art of Squeeze.... Indications of Gentle Spring in the Far East.... Why it was Caesar crossed the Rubicon.

APRIL twentieth.—Mama received picture from America, which she said Aunt Mary sent her for anniversary present. “Isn’t it a wonderful work of art?” said mama, showing it to papa.

“It surely is,” said papa, turning frame. “Which way do you look at it?”

“It’s a view of the sun setting behind waves,” said mama, snatching it away.

“Oh, is it?” asked papa. “I thought it was a ripe tomato rising above a sheaf of lettuce leaves.”

Mama said papa had no appreciation of art, and papa said that he had and could prove it by bringing home picture which friend had just given him called “Nymph Among the Flowers.”

“I’m not sure we would want that in our home,” mama answered.

“Oh, it’s perfectly O.K.,” papa said. “It was done after the Futurist School and might just as well have been entitled, ‘Electrical Buzz Saw in Action.’ ”

Family stopped talking about pictures, as washman came just then and mama wanted to know why all family linen had changed initials in last five days.

April twenty-first.—Pleasant weather. Sat on porch with wooden elephant and watched our coolie cut flowers from next-door garden. Later coolie came in and collected twenty cents from mama to pay flower-man. Just wait until I can talk.

April twenty-first.—Auntie said at tiffin to-day that she was going to tea-dance with new man named Cyril. “Everybody says that he is a wonderful dancer,” said Auntie. “He has made a name for himself.”

“He has made several names for himself, and he uses them when he signs chits,” said papa.

“I think you are too mean for words,” said Auntie, struggling to cut chop with a knife that was blunt.

“Well,” said papa,

“I wouldn’t pin too much faith to a wonderful dancer. You can’t eat a foxtrot.”

Mama said it was a good thing young men in town had the habit of hiring cars, as a girl couldn’t make much progress otherwise as ricshas were so unsociable.

“They ought to build them tandem,” said papa.

When family stopped talking about ricshas, papa remarked that mama ought to tell the cook not to buy any more Peking camels, as he had blisters on his hands from trying to cut the meat.

April twenty-first.

— Nice afternoon.

Went out with amah in perambulator. Saw fresh Jap baby on Jap amah’s back. Looked very foolish. Glad I don’t have to wear kimono in street.

APRIL twenty^ first. —Came home later and saw Cyril arrive to take Auntie to tea-dance. Neighbor lady called.

“Isn’t Shanghai just too cosmopolitan for anything?” said Auntie, sitting on edge of chair and starting conversation.

Didn’t hear more, as mama remarked to neighbor lady that amah had kept me out a long time that afternoon, but that she didn’t mind because the fresh air did me good. Amah didn’t say that we spent afternoon with other amahs in moving-picture show, seeing fine film of lady tied to railroad track by gentleman.

April twenty-second.—Nice day. Mama took accounts with cook this morning, and when papa came home at noon she showed him grocery bill.

“Do you think we could have eaten as much as that?” she said.

“Not unless we kept an orphan asylum,” said papa reading total. “He must have added in the average annual rainfall and the gross tonnage of the Empress of Asia.”

“We’d better not be too hard on him,” said mama. “Maybe we do eat more than we realize. Only this morning he showed me that the coffee can was empty again.”

Guess cook didn’t mention dipping out of can every day to fill two other cans on shelf. Probably amah will keep me out of kitchen when family begins to understand my language.

April twenty-third.—Raining. Mama and papa talked at breakfast about dinner they will give next week for taipan. Mama said that they will have to invite one more man and suggested friend in mess. “I’ve heard people say that he’s pretty good in a party,” said mama.

“He is in some ways, but I’ve noticed that when the chits come around, he always gets writers’ cramp,” said papa.

Mama said that they would have to ask him, as there wasn’t much time left, and that she would send coolie over with note.

“If you’re in a hurry, you’d better mail it,” said papa, starting for office.

Mama went out herself soon afterwards, because she told Auntie that she was going to try to find a spring hat

under fifty dollars that didn’t look as if it had gone through the Kansu earthquake.

April twenty-third.—(afternoon) —Still raining in afternoon. Lady who writes poetry called after tiffin and asked papa if he had observed the evidences of spring.

“Yes,” said papa. “I’ve noticed that all the drugstores have taken in the cold remedies and are featuring the cholera cures.”

“Haven’t you observed other indications?” asked lady, looking disappointed.

“The riesha coolies are taking off more clothes,” said papa.

“But surely you feel a thrill of happiness because Winter is over,” lady said. “Doesn’t it mean something to you.”

“It means something to me, but it doesn’t give me a thrill of happiness,” papa answered. “It means that pretty soon I’ll have to wear a monkey-jacket, and every time I put one on, I feel that I ought to pick up the cardtray and page somebody.”

Mama came downstairs just then, and papa sneaked out toward Race Course. Wish he’d take me some time. Tired of going to park and hearing amahs talk about new family that just moved to Frenchtown.

April twenty-fourth.—Sunday, sat on the floor in living room and heard family talk about next-door automobile. “I wish we had a car,” said mama, looking out window.

“Why?” asked papa. “We don’t know anybody in Woosung.”

“There are plenty of places to go besides Woosung,” said mama.

“No place that I know except the Rubicon,” said papa, “and I’ve been around that so many times that I don’t wonder Julius Caesar got impatient and crossed it instead.” '

“It isn’t so much a question of where you can go as the impression a motor car makes on members of the community,” mama answered.

Papa said yes, that most cars did make impressions on members of the community, but they were usually made on Chinese members that didn’t jump fast enough.

Mama picked up paper and turned leaves with rattle.

April twentyfourth —later.—Had pleasant nap upstairs, but woke up later and saw coolie trying on mama’s new spring hat before mirror. I’d just like to catch him putting on my bonnet!

CHAPTER V.

In Which the Baby Finds That a Dinner Party Takes as Much Preparation as a Battle and is About the Same Thing in the End.... The Diplomatic HouseBoy Gets a Line on the T ai p an's Dinner Clothes. . ..Papa's Friend Believes in Preparedness.

TRIL twentyfifth.—Went out calling on amah’s third cousin who lives on little street near Nanzing Road. Perfumes very unusual. Not a bit like mama’s talcum. Don’t remember much of visit as went to sleep on bed with Chinese baby getting over mumps. Later amah let me drink tea from her cup and gave me a fried dumpling. Pleasant morning.

Continued on page 54

Continued from page 13

April twenty-sixth.—Nobody paying I any attention to me to-day. Everybody getting ready for taipan’s dinner. Amah busy making red paper frills. Mama busy making place cards. Cook busy making ' menu. Auntie busy making complexion.

Houseboy busy making trouble. Hope ■ they don’t forget my chow.

April twenty-sixth—later—Papa came home to tiffin and brought fresh lettuce, j “It’s perfectly safe,” he said. “One of the men in the office grew it in his own j garden.”

“I’m so glad,” said mama. “I’m as hungry for lettuce as a rabbit. I’ll send it right down to the cook to get ready for I to-night.”

Sat in kitchen later while amah tried on ! Paris garters she had found in papa’s j bureau. Had interesting time watching cook blow mouthfuls of water on sanitary lettuce to keep it fresh.

April twenty-sixth.—Still sitting in living-room. Family forgot to have me put to bed. Table all ready for taipan’s party. Mama called downstairs to papa and asked him what he was doing.

“Reading a love-story in the Municipal Gazette,” said papa. “Can’t I sit down for five minutes without giving an account of myself?”

“Go in the dining-room and compare the place-cards with the initials on the knives and forks,” said mama. “The houseboy borrowed from all over so as not to have dish-washing between courses and I want to make sure that nobody gets his own silver.”

Mama said later that she had decided upon everything except the person who was to sit on papa’s left.

“Well, don’t go and pick out a centuryplant,” said papa, taking salted peanut from red paper dish. “The last one you put me next to remembered the inauguration of Lincoln.”

Squalled at this point and was taken upstairs, but couldn’t sleep anyway on account of noise. Heard papa ask mama what had become of his pearl studs.

■“I gave them to the baby for coughdrops,” said mama, with unpleasant look in voice. Papa said all right, that she didn’t need to tell him if she didn’t want to, but if he didn’t find them he would wear my safety pins.

APRIL twenty-sixth.—Last bulletin— A—Papa wondering if taipan would wear evening suit or dinner coat. “If he wears a dress suit, I don’t want to show up in a dinner coat, and if he comes in a dinner coat, I don’t want to put something over on him by wearing an evening suit,” said papa. Mama said he might send the houseboy over to ask taipan’s houseboy what his master was putting on.

“I’m afraid he’d tip it off tothe taipan,” said papa. Mama said she didn’t think so, and that anyway the Orientals have a

grand reputation for diplomacy. Houseboy went, but came back pretty soon. Told papa that other master sent compliments and said he would wear evening dress and that his wife was going to wear low-necked purple gown with pearl necklace. Did not catch papa’s remark,.but heard shoe falling downstairs after houseboy.

Sometime when feeling good, I will get even with family by squalling all night.

APRIL twenty-seventh.—Everybody cross to-day after taipan’s dinner. Papa said party would have been a success if houseboy had not served dinner from behind heavy garlic barrage. Mama said it was papa’s fault for telling story he had heard at club and for spearing olives with fork. Auntie cross because Bertie led her aside to say something special and then asked her for piece of baby-ribbon to tie up his lampshade. Cook cross because people ate so much that he had nothing left over for cousins. Family living to-day on salted peanuts, fudge, and ripe olives. Glad we don’t have dinners often.

April twenty-eighth.—Had interesting morning sitting on living-room floor and trying new tooth on carved wood screen. Heard mama remark that she had met papa’s friend and that he looked as if he were going to be best man at a hanging.

“He is upset because he is going home on the Golden State,” said papa. “He is afraid his suitcases will leak.”

“Is the Golden State going to be dry?” asked mama.

“Theoretically, yes,” said papa, “but thus far there have been 103 }/2 more tons of baggage than freight shipped on board, and practically all of it would splash if roughly handled.”

“But won’t they be caught by the Department of Justice when they land in San Francisco?” asked mama.

“Oh, no,” said papa. “By the time they reach San Francisco, it will be a case for the Department of the Interior.”

Spent part of afternoon sitting in pen on porch and hearing mama tell the neighbor lady that her hair had come out something terrible since living in Shanghai and that pretty soon she would not have enough for sidepuffs.

April twenty-eighth.—Papa came home feeling very happy, and said that he had seen friend off on Golden State.

“He must have unpacked his suit-cases rather soon,” mama remarked.

“Oh no,” said papa, looking at self in glass. “All the Elijahs who tried to protect themselves against the drought will have a lot more than a little oil. They put a bar on at Hongkong.”

Mama said that she was glad there was a place where papa’s friend could settle down with his knitting and feel at home.

Further infantile wisdom in March 1.