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xlwoo
September 20th, 2015, 02:50 PM
Chapter 28

Just when Linda was in the dilemma, someone said aloud outside the house, “May I come in to worship the goddess?” The chieftain had given order that no one should go into the house without the permission from the goddess.
Linda told Danba to let the woman in. The girl was about to crawl to the door when Linda told her to stand up and walk. “I can’t.” Danba said, “It’s chieftain’s order.”
“Don’t be afraid. Tell the chieftain that the goddess permits you to walk before her when you are performing some duties for her.”
The girl stood up and walked to open the door. She forgot to walk backwards and showed her butts to the goddess. But Linda did not care even if she was really a goddess.
In went a middle-aged woman on her knees. She could not crawl because she was holding a dress on her palms. She handed the dress to Danba, who was now on her knees again. The woman kowtowed and said, “Pray, my Goddess, take a bath and change into this dress. It was made after the style of the dress on the statue of the goddess in the temple.”
Linda did not understand why she should be dressed like the statue in the temple. However, she really did not care, either. Anyway, she needed a bath badly. She had not taken a bath for a long time. She bade the woman to leave. Then she got on her feet and was led by Danba (actually the girl walked after Linda and just told her where to go) into another house with a few rooms. Linda entered a room and saw that there was a hot spring inside. Linda stripped herself and had a hearty bath. The girl knelt beside the bathtub, holding the dress.
“Put the dress on the chair and jump in to have a bath with me.” Linda told the girl.
“No, I can’t. This room is for my Goddess only. We use other rooms.”
Linda did not want to force her. Soon she dried herself and put on the new dress. It fitted her and suited her like being custom-made. She liked the dress though it would look weird if she wore it in America. She returned to her own house, followed by Danba, who was walking now by the order of the goddess.
It turned dark soon and the candles in some holders fixed on the walls were lit. Presently the girl served dinner. All were vegetables and fruits, because the cook thought that a goddess would not eat meat. Linda was hungry and helped herself to the food.
All the time when Linda was eating, Danba knelt beside the table and stood up only when necessary. Linda glanced at the kneeling girl and recalled that she had knelt before the emperor when she had been in the capital. At that time she thought why she must kneel before another person, but now people knelt before her. She did not know whether she should enjoy it or should be disgusted at it.
When bedtime came, Danba kowtowed to Linda three times and kissed her feet as a sign of good night. Linda retired to her own bedroom and went to sleep. The girl slept in another room. There was a rope hanging from the ceiling by Linda’s bed. The other end of the rope went through a hole in the ceiling to the next room, which was the girl’s bedroom. There was a bell tied on the other end. Linda could pull the rope if she wanted the girl and the bell would sound to awaken Danba.
Next day when Linda was having breakfast, a man’s voice came in, “May I come in to worship Goddess?” Linda heard it and told Danba to let him in. An old man crawled in and kowtowed to Linda. Linda got used to such ritual by now and just asked the man what he wanted from her.
“First, I beg Goddess to grant blessings on myself.” He prostrated before Linda, who did not know how to bestow blessings. But before she could say anything, the man kissed her right foot and then lifting her foot, put it on his head, like Friday did to Robinson Crusoe on the island.
Linda thought that he had something else to ask. She just waited. Then the man crawled back for a few feet and said, “My Goddess, my son is sick. Would Goddess go to see him and cure him?”
“I’m not a doctor. How can I cure your son?”
“By magic power, my Goddess. I beg Goddess to have mercy on my son.”
Linda thought that if she had had the supposed magic power, she would have loved to heal his son. Now what could she do? She had to tell people the truth now. It was their mistake to believe that she was a goddess, not her fault.
“I’m not a goddess and don’t have any magic power.” She confessed.
But the old man did not believe her. If she could have descended from heaven, she should be a goddess. Therefore, the man implored hard by kowtowing on the floor without stopping. That was too much. Linda could no longer just sit there and do nothing. She could not let the old man keep on kowtowing like that. She had to grant his wish and quickly finished her breakfast.
Once Linda walked into the old man’s house, everyone inside fell on their knees and his wife crawled up to Linda and kissed her feet. Linda went directly into another room and checked on the son, who was lying on bed. She asked the son how he was feeling and after getting the reply, she guessed that he had been suffering from the sunstroke since he had worked in the hot sun yesterday all day long.
When Linda had been in the capital as the wife of the head eunuch, she had learned some herb and medical knowledge. It was another tradition in the ancient China that the royal male members, including the emperor himself, and the officials must learn some basic knowledge about Chinese herb and medicine. It was particularly needed for a high official like a minister or a cabinet member. It was because when the emperor was taken ill, though he would be diagnosed by the royal doctors, some close royal members and the officials of the highest rank would read the prescription written by the royal doctors to see whether it was suitable and if it did, they would approve the use of it so that the doctors would not shoulder the responsibilities alone if the condition of the emperor’s sickness deteriorated. That was why they should learn some knowledge of the medicine.
When Linda had left the capital, she had taken with her some ready medicine, like pills and powders. Now she took out a pill for sunstroke and ordered the son to swallow it with water. Then she came out of the room and told the old man that she had given his son some medicine and hoped that he would get better soon.
In the evening the old man came again to beg to see the goddess. When he was let in, he made a lot of kowtows as his hearty gratitude to the goddess because his son was recovered. Linda was glad to hear it.