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Wang the Ninth The Story of a Chinese Boy   By: (1877-1930)

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WANG THE NINTH

BOOKS BY THE AUTHOR

POLITICAL:

Manchu and Muscovite The Re Shaping of the Far East (2 volumes) The Truce in the East and its Aftermath The Coming Struggle in Eastern Asia The Conflict of Colour The Fight for the Republic in China The Truth about China and Japan

ROMANTIC:

Indiscreet Letters from Peking The Forbidden Boundary The Human Cobweb The Unknown God The Romance of a Few Days The Revolt The Eternal Priestess The Altar Fire Wang the Ninth. The Story of a Chinese Boy

WANG THE NINTH

THE STORY OF A CHINESE BOY

BY

PUTNAM WEALE

NEW YORK DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 1920

COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, INC.

VAIL BALLOU COMPANY BINGHAMTON AND NEW YORK

PREFACE

This book is a partial explanation of the phenomenon of China which seems so strange when curtly dealt with in the daily press.

It has quality of being true and should therefore be known.

Peking, July, 1919

WANG THE NINTH

WANG THE NINTH

CHAPTER I

Wang the Ninth was born a few years before the end of the nineteenth century in a village called prosaically in the vernacular Ten Li Hamlet because it lay ten li or Chinese miles from the great imperial highway. He was the eighth child; that was why, according to immemorial custom, he was called the Ninth, since the numeral eight added to his patronymic signified that opprobrious epithet term "tortoise," a nickname which no Chinese could survive. When he was little more than three and scarcely weaned (for the children of this land are suckled until they can run) he was unceremoniously put on a creaking wheelbarrow and trundled off into the unknown.

This inconsequential hegira was the beginning of his great adventures, and was the natural aftermath of a curiously swift tragedy in an environment saturated with inaction.

Famine had suddenly descended on Ten Li Hamlet, and his brothers and sisters, having been leased or sold one after another to neighbours (you can use whichever expression you like), he and his father had become the last survivors in a disrupted family. For his mother, too, had tired of privation. She had sat ominously quiet for one whole week and had then slipped away with a travelling blacksmith, who had been working for a season not fifty feet from the family home of mud bricks and who disappeared as he had come like a wraith in the night.

It was this which had been the last straw for the father not the hunger. For, he, too, was a blacksmith by trade. Added to the shame in his bosom for the beggarly condition to which he had been reduced, there had come a volcanic outburst of hurt professional pride. He was totally unable to reconcile himself to the idea that he had been abandoned in favour of another such as he and for no better reason that there was want in the land. For there was always want; never could he remember a time when the people were not a hungering, marching through the country in ragged bands, and spreading dismay wherever they camped.

So one dawn he had sullenly dragged out two baskets, put his last child into one, thrown on top of him some spare clothing, placed his few pots and pans and the implements of his trade (including the unwieldy bellows) in the other, and had marched down the rutted village road shouting curses on every one and declaring that he was shaking the dust of the poverty stricken place for ever off his feet.

Thus had he gone angrily and vigorously, full of resolution, until he had covered the ten li which separated the village from the great highway. Then, when he had seen the broad road leading to the capital, and the carts and the travellers in their handsome clothing, and the long camel trains with their rich loads of merchandise, a sense of unfamiliarity and loneliness had suddenly overwhelmed him, and he had sat down and wept loudly and unrestrainedly in the manner all Chinese will do... Continue reading book >>




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