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xlwoo
September 22nd, 2015, 01:52 PM
Chapter 30

Linda felt that life here was very boring because since she unexpectedly arrived here out of the air she had never been out for sightseeing. She was not a girl fond of a quiet life. She loved exercises and hiking, and to explore the beautiful natural scenes. Linda found that this was a beautiful place with verdant mountains and translucent streams and a cool cascade.
Now as people seldom came to bother her recently, there was no need for her to hide any more. She wanted to go out to enjoy the beautiful nature.
Next day she went out like a moth bursting out of the cocoon. Danba followed her everywhere.
They went to the little waterfall, under which there was a pool. The water spilling from the pool formed a little creek, which emerged with other creeks into the main stream in this area.
Linda sat on a rock at the edge of the pool. She took off her shoes and dipped her feet in the clear cool water. She felt so good as if she was eating ice-cream. She told Danba to do the same, but the girl did not dare, afraid that the chieftain would punish her if she came to know it.
“Don’t be afraid. I order you to.” Linda encouraged her, “You are my maid and must obey me first.” So the girl obeyed and taking off her shoes, dipped her feet in the water, too. They sat there for half an hour, enjoying the feeling of self-indulgence. They talked and laughed to their heart’s content. Danba had a sudden feeling that the goddess was not a goddess any more, but a girl like herself. Then as suddenly as she had the feeling she realized that it was a blasphemy that she had such a thought. She felt ashamed of herself and punished herself by slapping her own face twice.
“What’s the matter? What are you doing?” Linda inquired, turning her head to look at Danba.
“Sorry. Nothing.” She could not tell the goddess that she had had such a thought flitting across her mind for a moment. If the goddess knew it, the goddess might get angry and turn her into a frog or something else. But she forgot that a goddess, if Linda was, knew everything, including what people were thinking. Then she would be deemed lying to a goddess. It would be more serious to lie to a goddess than she had thought the goddess was a mortal girl like herself.
A man stood on the top of the mountain just across the pool and saw the goddess and the girl sitting together, talking and laughing. In his opinion, or in the mind of the most people here, a goddess should be stern, demure and quiet, just like the statue in the temple. But he did not think of the difference between the statue of a goddess and the living goddess. He would certainly be overwhelmed with great astonishment if he learned some of the stories about the Greek goddesses.
He thought that he must go to find the chieftain and tell her everything he saw. He found the chieftain at her new home and reported it to her. The chieftain and the other old women in her house were flabbergasted at the news. They stood up and hurried to the spot.
They all got on their knees before Linda and after kowtowing for three times, the chieftain said, “My Goddess, pray go back home. It’s not safe here for my Goddess.” She forgot that a goddess would not fear anything. A goddess was safe everywhere. But she could not say in the face of the goddess that a goddess should also behave herself.
“I just relax for a while.” Linda pleaded, “I’ll go back soon. Don’t worry.”
The chieftain and the other old women kept on kowtowing, which meant that if Linda did not go back, they would kneel there for ever. Linda recalled what had happened in the palace. A prime minister had done the same as he had wanted the emperor to accept his advice. There arose a question: who must listen to whom, the emperor to the courtier, or the courtier to the emperor. Perhaps everyone should listen to reason, to whoever had the reason.
These old women were still kneeling before her. She could not ignore them, just enjoying herself. Now she knew that the means they were taking were really effective. She had to get up, put on her shoes and leave. Danba followed suit.
After the goddess went for a while, the chieftain and other women stood up and followed at a distance. They saw Danba walking after the goddess. The chieftain was aware that Danba could not crawl after the goddess at the current moment and in the current condition. It was a long way to home. Besides, the girl could not crawl on the rugged mountain trail. Otherwise, she would be disrespectful to the goddess and would be punished.
When Linda got home, she was frustrated. She could not surmise what she could do and what she could not do. She knew that the one thing she could not do was to sit still and stiff all day long like the statue in the temple. She could not live here forever like this. If a goddess had limited moves, she would not be a goddess. Actually she was not one. She wanted freedom of what she would like to do. So she must leave some day. She began to make a plan.
She knew that she could not escape alone as the girl Danba always followed her everywhere. She had either to lose her or take her along. But to lose her was really a difficult task. Danba was almost like a chewed bubble gum sticking to her or like her inseparable shadow. Linda could think of no way to get rid of her. So she decided to take her along. Besides, it was safer to go with the girl. If people saw her with the girl, they would think that she and the girl were just sightseeing. The first step was decided that she would take the girl with her.
Now she must make up her mind how to get away from here. She could not go too far among the mountains. It would rouse the suspicion of the people when they saw her, even if she was with the girl, because she had no reason to go too far from where she lived. The best possible way was to steal a boat and go downstream. If she could succeed in the plan at some night, she would leave the place forever. But after that, what would she do with the girl? She could not let the girl come back alone. She was too young to travel all by herself. It seemed that she would stick to her for a long time, even all her life. Then she must let her learn both Chinese and English so that she might find a job, or she could leave her with a European priest when she could speak some English. All right. She would consider it later. The urgent thing at present was how to get a boat and flee safely.
Linda noticed that people just left their boats tied to some trees on the shore. If she could steal out at night without being detected by anyone, the success of escape was ensured.
Now the last problem was how to persuade the girl to go with her. But if she told her that she would leave the place, the girl might go to report to the chieftain. The best way was to tell her a white lie. When they were at a safe distance, she would let her know the truth. Now she thought that her plan was perfect. She should choose a night to carry it out.
“Danba, I just received a message from other goddesses in heaven.” Linda said to the girl one evening after supper. “They want to meet me somewhere else, not here. I will take you with me to meet them. But you must keep it a secret.”
Danba was excited and promised not to tell it to anyone else. That night when she fell asleep, she dreamt that a throng of goddesses dancing and singing around her. They did not order her to go down on her knees before them. Instead, they invited her to join in their dancing. As Danba could not dance the dance they were dancing, she just stood in the center of the circle and looked and smiled at the goddesses she worshiped so much.
Next day Linda and Danba fared as usual. After supper, Linda went into her bedroom and told Danba to stay with her. Linda pretended to be meditating to wait for the suitable time to leave. Danba meditated, too. Time ticked off. From the moonlight shining in through the window, Linda reckoned that it was almost midnight. Everyone should be in sleep. Linda got up and touched the girl, who opened her eyes and stood up, too. She guessed that it was time to meet the goddesses.
They went to the bank of the main stream. There were a few boats, some tied to the tree trunks and one tied to a rock sticking out of the ground. Linda climbed into this boat and so did Danba. They rowed the boat downstream. Linda estimated the distance they were covering. Approximately after some ten miles which should be a safe distance, Linda signaled Danba to near the boat to the bank and tied it to a tree. They began to walk.
“Why we come so far to meet the goddesses?” Danba asked.
“They don’t want to be seen by other people.” Linda explained.
They walked deliberately till it began to dawn. “Where we’re going?” The girl asked.
“Let’s find a place to rest for a while and we must talk.” Linda said. Danba followed Linda to the side of a little brook. They sat down on a smooth rock to rest their poor legs and feet.
“Listen, Danba. I’m really not a goddess. I just fell from above and your people mistook me as a goddess.” Linda wanted to tell the girl the truth. Danba listened agape.
“I felt uncomfortable living among your people. I could not do what I wanted. I lived there like a prisoner, not a goddess. That’s why I want to leave. As you always followed me everywhere, I have to take you with me. Now we must stick together and make a living all by ourselves.”
Next day when the cook did not see Danba come to the kitchen to take the breakfast to the goddess, he was at a loss what to think. He just waited till lunch time. But it was almost late in the afternoon that the food prepared for the goddess was still there. He himself was forbidden to go near to the goddess. So he had to report to the chieftain, who came immediately with other old women. She could not find the goddess or Danba anywhere.
“Goddess is gone, back to heaven.” One of the old women said.
“Then, Danba should come to report to us.” Another woman said.
“I guess Goddess take her along.” The third woman said.

“Anyway, Goddess can’t live among us forever.” The chieftain said, “Lucky for Danba. She can be with Goddess in heaven. I hope she’ll come down to visit us some day.”