Identifier

MSS.2.18

Publication Date

12-28-1917

Document Type

Letter

Transcription

491 Avenue Joffre
Shanghai, China
28 December, 1917

Dearest Dada:

Such a bunch of letters from America. And
two from you & one from Ted. One from Grandma Mills, Grand-
pa Mills and some others from the South. I wish I had
you here with me, for there are so many things to
tell. First of all - what a Christmas!

My uncle, the father of that cousin of mine in
Radcliffe has been dangerously ill. They thought he
was going to die, and Mother has been over at
Auntie's helping Auntie. He has two girls and two
boys - and yet he lies dying with all of
them either in America or Europe. And both the
boys are doctors too! Oh, the irony of his
fate seems too much to bear! His wife re-
fuses to have him moved to the Hospital
where the doctors think he may have a
fighting chance. The Chinese doctors too have
given up hope. My aunt refuses to have a
trained nurse: instead she has a dozen
Chinese women around him! The poor
man is so ill - too ill to hear their
silly, silly chatter. Auntie has seemed
to have lost her head, and we can do
nothing with her at all. Mother does
what she can, - but Auntie is a very [page break]
domineering sort. Last night they expected him
to die, and were not the situation so
pathetic, it could be actually ludicrous
to see the mourning arrangements that are
being made. They even have bought the
lining of his coffin! We have all protest-
ed strongly against Auntie's policy: but
have been told to get out of the
home for our pains. The poor lady really
is in a nervous state.

Of course with Mother away all the
time, the household cares naturally fall
on me. And worst of all, one of the cooks
has left as his wife is expecting a baby.
This leaves an awful lot for the other
cook to do, especially as the market's
quite far away. Then on top of everything,
our motor is still in the garage having
the winter top put on, and as Mother
takes the carriage off to Auntie's every
morning, I have had to resort to the
cold cold rickshaws to get all the Xmas
tree fixings and presents for the children
and servants.

You have no idea how cold a
rickshaw is in the winter time. The [page break]
bottom where your feet rest is made of
wooden slots with large openings across,
and when the wind whistles through your
legs - oh my!

Well, you know, I do not know Shanghai
at all except to order the chauffeur or the
groom where I want to go. Now a rickshaw
coolie has to have more explicit directions,
and as most of them are from the country,
and speak a "Cockney" Shanghai dialect,
I had great difficulty in making them
understand. The shops were so crowded
and there were so many things to
buy.

[N.B. Dad has just come in, and he said
that evidently your letters must be an
inspiration to me for scribbling, as immedi-
ately after your letters come, he always
finds me writing.]

Well to resume, usually the chauffeur
goes through the stores carrying my pack-
ages. But these past two weeks I had to [page break]
do that myself, and I was so jostled
that I almost became angry.

Christmas in our family is a great
event for the servants: so as Mother could
not buy the things, I had to. I bought
handkerchiefs, socks, stockings and candy,
oranges, tangerines, candy, cokes etc.
until I thought I would go crazy, for each
servant had to have a different size stock-
ing. After buying the things, the stockings
had to be filled, and the other things
tied into pretty little packages. I almost
went dizzy tying and tying things. I
surely did wish for Ted then, for she
loves to tie things up.

After the servants' things, and getting
the tree decoration, there were my little
brother and cousins' presents to think of.
They all seemed to have every plaything
imaginable: therefore it was difficult to
find novel toys. I went out every day
to shop for two weeks, and sometimes
twice a day!

The Chinese exchange is a very queer
thing. For instance we have "little
money" and "big money." A dollar in
"little money" is 11 dimes and 2 coppers, whereas [page break]
in "big money", it is ten dimes. Again
in "big money" a dime is ten coppers,
whereas in "little money" it is 12 coppers
and five cash. Some stores deal in
big money only and some in little money.
It all is very confusing. For instance if
you buy an article in one store and it
costs 90 cents, nine dimes would suffice,
while in another store you would have
to give them a dollar and only get
a dime in change. And then another
funny thing, if the article is only
30 cents, you can just give them
3 dimes, and that would suffice,
whereas if you were to buy 50 cents
more of something, eight dimes would
not be enough.

The Oriental mind you see is com-
plicated. When I first came home, I
got cheated right and left, and I do
not doubt that even now I am
often at a disadvantage.

By the way, has Ling Ling sent you
any money to pay for my magazines.
If no, how much? [page break]
Well, to go back to Xmas, the house was full
of company, and the servants were busy
every minute washing up dishes or prepar-
ing food for company. I never have seen
such gourmands. You see Dad likes to
keep "Open House."

By the way, you said something about
my vociferous "damns" - Well, it is
damn, damn cold in this house!
In spite of all the fireplaces and
stoves going red-hot, - it is damn
cold! You see I have been used to
steam heat, - and in Shanghai no
one has steam heat. In spite of all
the ice, we have not had a bit
of snow.

Last week the house had to be
decorated, and the gardener certainly
did his best. It looks perfectly
lovely and artistic: not a bit over-
done, and very fragrant. The living
rooms at least are warm, for we
have two grates going and a large
open-stove (very goodlooking) and all [page break]
the doors shut: but the halls are the limit.

Xmas day - or rather evening we had
a party for the children, and the
servants. Of course the servants did
not liven up at all until they went to
the servants' quarters: but they did
seem to enjoy getting presents and
seeing the tree. We had about
20 little cousins yelling at the top of
their lungs and pulling fire-crackers.
We had them here for dinner that
night, and I was so afraid that
they would all die of "bursting."
By the way, Dada, we had the most
wonderful American turkey!

H.K. sent me a telegram, for he said
he had not heard from me for ages
and was worrying to death. For Xmas
he sent a carload of flowers. I haven't
written him yet. The war is killing
so many people that one more or
less dead doesn't make much diff-
erence, does it?

My face is almost well now, and
I am enjoying myself. You know Mr. Yang [page break]
came to call several times, and each
time Mother informed him I was ill.
He then wrote me a very sarcastic
letter hoping that my "very temporary"
illness would soon be over. He meant
that I did not want to see him: hence
told him I was ill. Of course I became
furious, and refused to answer his
letters or telephone calls, - and this
is the card he sent me! He told
another man, who is one of our common
friends that I had treated him not
only without consideration: but with
actual contempt. Of course you und-
erstand, I never did that, and I really
was ill: only his letter made me
furious.

What a long letter.
Goodby, Dada
Daughter

P.S. I got some beautiful brocades, silks and
very very old paintings for Xmas.

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