Miss Maloney on the Chinese Question

by Mary Mapes Dodge


OCH! don't be talkin'. Is it howld on, ye say? An' did n't I howld on till the heart o' me was clane broke entirely, and me wastin' that thin you could clutch me wid yer two hands? To think o' me toilin' like a nager for the six year I 've been in Ameriky,—bad luck to the day I iver left the owld counthry! to be bate by the likes o' them (faix an' I'll sit down when I 'm ready, so I will, Aunt Ryan, an' yed better be listnin' than drawin' yer remarks)! an' is it mysel, with five good characters from respectable places, would be herdin' wid the haythens? The saints forgive me, but I 'd be buried alive sooner 'n put up wid it a day longer. Sure an' I was the granehorn not to be lavin' at onct when the missus kim into me kitchen wid her perlaver about the new waiter man which was brought out from Californy.

"He 'll be here the night," says she, "and, Kitty, it 's meself looks to you to be kind and patient wid him, for he 's a furriner," says she, a kind o' lookin' off.

"Sure an it 's little I 'll hinder nor interfare wid him nor any other, mum," says I, a kind o' stiff, for I minded me how these French waiters, wid their paper collars and brass rings on their fingers, isn 't company for no gurril brought up dacint and honest.

Och! sorra a bit I knew what was comin' till the missus walked into me kitchen smilin', and says kind o' shcared: "Here 's Fing Wing, Kitty, an' you 'll have too much sinse to mind his bein' a little strange."

Wid that she shoots the door, and I, misthrusting if I was tidied up sufficient for me fine buy wid his paper collar, looks up, and—Howly fathers! may I niver brathe another breath, but there stud a rale haythen Chineser a grinnin' like he'd just come off a tay-box. If you'll belave me, the crayture was that yeller it ud sicken you to see him; and sorra stitch was on him but a black nightgown over his trousers, and the front of his head shaved claner nor a copper biler, and a black tail a-hangin' down from behind, wid his two feet stook into the heathenestest shoes you ever set eyes on.

Och! but I was up stairs afore you could turn about, a givin' the missus warnin', an' only stopt wid her by her raisin' me wages two dollars, and playdin' wid me how it was a Christian's duty to bear wid haythins and taitch 'em all in our power,—the saints have us!

Well, the ways and trials I had wid that Chineser, Ann Ryan, I couldn't be tellin'. Not a blissed thing cud I do but he'd be lookin' on wid his eyes cocked up'ard like two poomp-handles, an' he widdout a speck or smitch o' whiskers on him, an' his finger-nails full a yard long. But it 's dyin' you'd be to see the missus a' larnin' him, and he grinnin' an' waggin' his pig-tail (which was pieced out long wid some black stoof, the haythen chate), and gettin' into her ways wonderful quick, I don't deny, imitatin' that sharp you'd be shurprised, and ketchin' an' copyin' things the best of us will do a-hurried wid work, yet don't want comin' to the knowledge of the family,—bad luck to him!

Is it ate wid him? Arrah, an' would I be sittin' wid a haythen an' he a-atin' wid drum-sticks,—yes, an' atin' dogs an' cats unknownst to me, I warrant you, which it is the custom of them Chinesers, till the thought made me that sick I could die. An' did n't  the crayture proffer to help me a wake ago come Toosday, an' me a foldin' down me clane clothes for the ironin', an' fill his haythin mouth wid water, an' afore I could hinder squirrit it through his teeth stret over the best linen table-cloth, and fold it up tight, as innercent now as a baby, the dirrity baste! But the worrest of all was the copyin' he'd be doin' till ye'd be dishtracted. It's yersel' knows the tinder feet that's on me since ever I 've bin in this counthry. Well, owin' to that, I fell into a way o' slippin' me shoes off when I 'd be settin' down to pale the praities or the likes o' that, and, do ye mind! that haythin would do the same thing after me whiniver the missus set him to parin' apples or tomaterses. The saints in heaven could n't have made him belave he cud kape the shoes on him when he'd be palin' anything.

Did I lave for that? Faix an' I did n't. Did n't he get me into trouble wid my missus, the haythin? You're aware yersel' how the boondles comin' in from the grocery often contains more 'n 'll go into anything dacently. So, for that matter, I'd now and then take out a sup o' sugar, or flour, or tay, an' wrap it in paper and put it in me bit of a box tucked under the ironin' blankit the how it cuddent be bodderin' any one. Well, what shud it be, but this blessed Sathurday morn the missus wos a spakin' pleasant and respec'ful wid me in me kitchen when the grocer boy comes in an' stands fornenst her wid his boondles, an' she motions like to Fing Wing (which I never would call him by that name ner any other but just haythin), she motions to him, she does, for to take the boondles an' empty out the sugar an' what not, where they belongs. If you'll belave me, Ann Ryan, what did that blatherin' Chineser do but take out a sup o' sugar, an' a handful o' tay, an' a bit o' chaze right afore the missus, wrap them into bits o' paper,  an' I spacheless wid shurprise, an' he the next minute up wid the ironin' blankit and pullin' out me box wid a show o' bein' sly to put them in.

Och, the Lord forgive me, but I clutched it, and missus sayin', "O Kitty!" in a way that 'ud cruddle your blood.

"He 's a haythin nager," says I.

"I 've found you out," says she.

"I 'll arrist him," says I.

"It 's you ought to be arristed," says she.

"You won't," says I.

"I will," says she; and so it went till she give me such sass as I cuddent take from no lady,—an' I give her warnin' an' left that instant, an' she a-pointin' to the doore.