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xlwoo
September 23rd, 2015, 01:32 PM
Chapter 31

Linda and Danba walked eastward. Linda wanted to find a church so that she could leave Danba with the priest. She would ask the priest to find some way to send Danba back to her own people. Linda remembered that she had seen a church somewhere on her way here, but now she could not recall the exact location.
According to some records, the earliest priest that came to China was an Italian Giovanni da Montecorvino (1247-1328). He came in 1294 to the capital (Peking) of Yuan Dynasty (1271—1368) and built three churches there. He also translated the New Testament and the Psalms in the Old Testament into the Mongolian language, because Yuan Dynasty was established by Mongolians. In 1307, he was appointed by the pope to be an archbishop in Peking area. He then sent someone to Yangchow, a big commercial city in southern China, to build a church.
In 1316, another Italian priest, Odorico da Pordenone (1286-1331), came to China by water and disembarked in the city of Canton. Then he went to Peking and stayed there for three years (1325—1328) and visited some other cities. In 1330 when he returned to Italy by land, he wrote a book about China, referring to the city of Yangchow and the church. When Linda had been there, she had seen the church, too.
All this meant that when Linda reached China by accident, the western religion had developed there. After a few days, Linda came across a church. She went in with Danba to see the priest, but the priest came from France and Linda could not speak French. It was in the southwestern China. The French priests entered China through Vietnam.
Linda left the church and continued on her way east with Danba. Now she decided to go back to Yangchow. She remembered that she had seen a church there. But it was a long way there. She knew that it would take her and Danba several months to reach the city. She had still some money with her, but not much. She must save every coin. But she must buy some clothes for herself and Danba. The clothes they were wearing would look too weird among people of Han tribe.
In the first town they reached, Linda bought new clothes and changed into them. She wrapped her golden hair with a cloth like before. Danba was delighted to have new clothes on. She liked them very much. She also changed her hair style into that of other girls she saw in this small town.
When Linda had entered the town, she had paid particular attention if there was still the government announcement about her, but there were none of such announcements on the town wall by the gate, where any announcements were usually posted. Linda was at rest. It meant that no one would notice her even if the cloth covering her golden hair was blown off by the wind. Instinctively she tightened the knot of the cloth under her chin. They lodged in a small inn for the night.
One day they went through a village. Linda saw a house decorated with red lanterns and cloth streamers. She had experience now. She knew that there was a wedding going on in that house. And she also knew that she and Danba could go in to eat without being questioned or driven out. So she went in with Danba like invited guests. Danba had never seen so many dishes on the table. She ate to the limit her small stomach could contain.
After the feast, the two girls mingled with the real guests, touring the house. Then all the guests ended up in the bedroom of the bride and bridegroom. The tradition allowed the guests to make jokes on the newly-wed couple.
The red cloth that covered the head of the bride had already been taken off. Some guests made comments on the features of the bride.
“Her eyes a bit too small.”
“Her mouth a bit too large.”
“Her nose all right. So is her skin.”
“The little feet are lovely.”
Someone hung an apple by a string from the ceiling and asked the bridegroom to get a bite from it. “If you fail, you will be punished.” He told the bridegroom, who began to try, but failed every time, because he could only use his mouth without any help from hands. Whenever his teeth touched the apple, it swung away.
“Now how will we punish him?” One of the guests asked.
“Not we, but the bride should punish him.” Another suggested. All the guests applauded their agreement. They decided that the bridegroom should play his role as a footstool and let the bride rest her feet on his back. At first the bridegroom wanted to refuse, but after a second thought, he accepted because if he rejected this punishment offer, the guests might think of something else and something worse. The bride was a shy girl and had not said anything since the guests came into her bedroom. She was just like a puppet and let others guide her action. Now the bridegroom was on all fours before the bride, who just sat on the edge of the bed and did not stir. A girl guest came to pick up her feet and put them on the back of the bridegroom. Everyone laughed.
Linda and Danba stood at one side, watching the whole process. Linda had seen such things before, but it was new experience for Danba. She was greatly intrigued. It was past midnight that the guests dispersed. Some went back home and some lodged in the house of the host. Linda and Danba were so tired and sleepy that they found an empty room and slept on chairs put together. Members of the household had already retired to their own separate bedrooms, being drunk in the celebration.
After the guests were all gone, the bridegroom got up and helped the bride to unbutton her clothes. That night, they were like fish in the water, as a Chinese saying goes.
Next day Linda and Danba continued on their long journey to Yangchow City.