Hugh smiled sleepily. The cat opened one yellow eye and moved mystified whiskers. She profoundly distrusted this affectionate young admirer. Was she being stroked the wrong way or ruffled the right way?
“Tiger, tiger, burning bright,” murmured Hugh. “Puzzle, Kitty: find the Adventuress.”
BY G.F. ALSOP
From Century Magazine
The lilies bloomed that day. Out in the courtyard in their fantastic green-dragoned pots, one by one the tiny, ethereal petals opened. Dong-Yung went rapturously among them, stooping low to inhale their faint fragrance. The square courtyard, guarded on three sides by the wings of the house, facing the windowless blank wall on the fourth, was mottled with sunlight. Just this side of the wall a black shadow, as straight and opaque as the wall itself, banded the court with darkness; but on the hither side, where the lilies bloomed and Dong-Yung moved among them, lay glittering, yellow sunlight. The little box of a house where the gate-keeper lived made a bulge in the uniform blackness of the wall and its shadow. The two tall poles, with the upturned baskets, the devil-catches, rose like flagstaffs from both sides of the door. A huge china griffon stood at the right of the gate. From beyond the wall came the sounds of early morning—the click of wooden sandals on cobbled streets and the panting cries of the coolies bringing in fresh vegetables or carrying back to the denuded land the refuse of the city. The gate-keeper was awake, brushing out his house with a broom of twigs. He was quite bald, and the top of his head was as tanned and brown as the legs of small summer children.
“Good morning, Honourable One,” he called. “It is a good omen. The lilies have opened.”
An amah, blue-trousered, blue-jacketed, blue-aproned, cluttered across the courtyard with two pails of steaming water.
“Good morning, Honourable One. The water for the great wife is hot and heavy.” She dropped her buckets, the water splashing over in runnels and puddles at her feet, and stooped to smell the lilies. “It is an auspicious day.”
From the casement-window in the right balcony a voice called:
“Thou dunce! Here I am waiting already half the day. Quicker! quicker!”
It sounded elderly and querulous a voice accustomed to be obeyed and to dominate. The great wife’s face appeared a moment at the casement. Her eyes swept over the courtyard scene—over the blooming lilies, and Dong-Yung standing among them.
“Behold the small wife, cursed of the gods!” she cried in her high, shrill voice. “Not even a girl can she bear her master. May she eat bitterness all her days!”
The amah shouldered the steaming buckets and splashed across the bare boards of the ancestral hall beyond.
“The great wife is angry,” murmured the gate-keeper. “Oh, Honourable One, shall I admit the flower-girl? She has fresh orchids.”