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  • The Son of Chung Wo:Leslie's Weekly 16 June 1910: 592, 601, 602, 604
  • Sui Sin Far

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[End Page 126]

"I am very glad that he is married," said old Chung Wo, with a sigh of relief, when I, a guest at his son's wedding, came across him in an inner room, where, ensconced in a comfortable corner, he was meditatively smoking a pipe.

"Ah, well, Chung," I replied, "I can't blame a man of your age and seriousness for being a little tired of festivities. This is the third day, is it not?"

"Not that, not that," returned Chung; "though," with an expressive hunch of his shoulders, "I certainly do prefer the society of a quiet pipe to that of some tongue waggers."

"You're a wise man," I remarked.

"You have been my friend a long time," said Chung. He drew a long breath through his pipe and let it escape again in rings of smoke through his nose. "Yes, you have been my friend a long time," he repeated; "but," and he fixed his keen eyes on my face, "you have not known my secret—a secret that, whenever remembered, has made my heart as heavy as the blackest heavens and as tempestuous as the four seas in a storm."

I was interested at once. I had known Chung a number of years, and knew him to be a fine fellow. I was also acquainted with his family, which consisted of his wife, two young sons and a sweet little adopted daughter—a slave, some Chinese called her; but that was not my name for one who was loved as was she by those around her. The wedding festivities I was attending were in honor of her marriage to Chung Wo's eldest son.

"Because of that secret," continued Chung Wo, "I am glad that my son is married. When he has a wife and son he will no more be a 'Japanese Chinaman.'"

"What do you mean by 'Japanese Chinaman'?"

"Listen, and I will tell you," said Chung Wo, pointing to an easy chair, into which I subsided. Then he began:

"When I first came to San Francisco, my eldest boy, Chung Tie Sang, was but seven years of age. I brought him with me. Two years after I sent for my wife, and she came with the little girl, Sie, then about four years old. My youngest [End Page 127] boys are native sons of the Golden West. At that time my business was very prosperous. Chinatown was not then like it is to-day."

The old man sighed. Reminiscences of the business of old times seemed to be affecting him.

"My son, Tie Sang, was a good boy in many respects, affectionate and obedient. He was also very clever, and I looked forward to keeping him with me in business, and in time making him a partner. This prospect also pleased his mother, and as we had betrothed him to little Sie, there did not seem to be any reason why our hopes should not be realized.

"Now, there were quite a number of white boys around the neighborhood in which we lived, and my son would follow after them in the street, and when at home imitate their ways—unlike most Chinese children, who usually shrink from the whites and keep to their own kind. These whites were not always kind to my boy. Oftentimes they were cruel. I have seen one, without any provocation whatever, turn around and strike him on the face; and my boy would take the blow in silence, and actually sometimes offer in return a dozen or so lichees or some sweetmeat, hoping thereby to be restored to favor.

"Such conduct made me feel very much ashamed, for why should a Chinese boy humbly take dirt from a white one? Does not even the white man's greatest statute say, 'All men are born free and equal'; and if that is so, are not the Chinese as respect worthy as the whites, provided they follow their consciences? So I spoke to Tie Sang and told him how the...


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