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My Lady of the Chinese Courtyard   By: (1877-1945)

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My Lady of the Chinese Courtyard by Elizabeth Cooper.

[Illustration: Mylady01.]

Etext Dedicated to Marion by "Teary Eyes" Anderson.

Transcriber's Note:

I try to edit my etexts so they can easily be used with voice speech programs, I believe blind people, and children should also be able to enjoy the many books now available electronically. I use the for a em dash, with a space, either before or after it depending on it's usage. This helps to keep certain programs from squishing the words together, such as down stairs. Also to help voice speech programs I've enclosed upper case text between and ( UPPER CASE TEXT ). This etext was made with a "Top can" text scanner, with a bit of correcting here and there.

My Lady of the Chinese Courtyard by Elizabeth Cooper.

Author of "Sayonara," etc.

With Thirty One Illustrations In Duotone From Photographs.

Dedicated, To My Husband.

Author's Note.

In these letters I have drawn quite freely and sometimes literally from the excellent and authoritative translations of Chinese classics by Professor Giles in his "Chinese Literature" and from "The Lute of Jude" and "The Mastersingers of Japan," two books in the "Wisdom of the East" series edited by L. Cranmer Byng and S. A. Kapadia (E. P. Dutton and Company). These translators have loved the songs of the ancient poets of China and Japan and caught with sympathetic appreciation, in their translations, the spirit of the East.

I wish to thank them for their help in making it possible to render into English the imagery and poetry used by "My Lady of the Chinese Courtyard."

Acknowledgment is also made to Mr. Donald Mennie of Shanghai, China, who took most of the photographs from which the illustrations have been made.

Elizabeth Cooper.

Part 1.

Preface .

A writer on things Chinese was asked why one found so little writing upon the subject of the women of China. He stopped, looked puzzled for a moment, then said, "The woman of China! One never hears about them. I believe no one ever thinks about them, except perhaps that they are the mothers of the Chinese men!"

Such is the usual attitude taken in regard to the woman of the flowery Republic. She is practically unknown, she hides herself behind her husband and her sons, yet, because of that filial piety, that almost religious veneration in which all men of Eastern races hold their parents, she really exerts an untold influence upon the deeds of the men of her race.

Less is known about Chinese women than about any other women of Oriental lands. Their home life is a sealed book to the average person visiting China. Books about China deal mainly with the lower class Chinese, as it is chiefly with that class that the average visitor or missionary comes into contact. The tourists see only the coolie woman bearing burdens in the street, trotting along with a couple of heavy baskets swung from her shoulders, or they stop to stare at the neatly dressed mothers sitting on their low stools in the narrow alleyways, patching clothing or fondling their children. They see and hear the boat women, the women who have the most freedom of any in all China, as they weave their sampans in and out of the crowded traffic on the canals. These same tourists visit the tea houses and see the gaily dressed "sing song" girls, or catch a glimpse of a gaudily painted face, as a lady is hurried along in her sedan chair, carried on the shoulders of her chanting bearers. But the real Chinese woman, with her hopes, her fears, her romances, her children, and her religion, is still undiscovered.

I hope that this book, based on letters shown me many years after they were written, will give a faint idea of the life of a Chinese lady. The story is told in two series of letters conceived to be written by Kwei li, the wife of a very high Chinese official, to her husband when he accompanied his master, Prince Chung, on his trip around the world.

She was the daughter of a viceroy of Chih li, a man most advanced for his time, who was one of the forerunners of the present educational movement in China, a movement which has caused her youth to rise and demand Western methods and Western enterprise in place of the obsolete traditions and customs of their ancestors... Continue reading book >>

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