These stories could be multiplied indefinitely; and are detailed by the dozen as proof of the “stupidity” of the Chinese. The Chinese are anything but stupid; and, as I have said before, when once they have grasped the logic of the situation, can figure out a case with the best of them.
They are, however, great sticklers for formalism; and disapprove of any short cuts in ceremony. As soon leave with the silver as without waiting for the finger bowls. A friend of mine, training a new man by example, as new men of this nationality are always trained, was showing him how to receive a caller. Therefore she rang her own doorbell, presented a card; in short, went through the whole performance. Tom understood perfectly. That same afternoon Mrs. G——, a next-door neighbour and intimate friend, ran over for a chat. She rang the bell. Tom appeared.
“Is Mrs. B—— at home?” inquired the friend.
Tom planted himself square in the doorway. He surveyed her with a cold and glittering eye.
“You got ticket?” he demanded. “You no got ticket, you no come in!”
On another occasion two ladies came to call on Mrs. B—— but by mistake blundered to the kitchen door. Mrs. B——’s house is a bungalow and on a corner. Tom appeared.
“Is Mrs. B—— at home?” they asked.
“This kitchen door; you go front door,” requested Tom, politely.
The callers walked around the house to the proper door, rang, and waited. After a suitable interval Tom appeared again.
“Is Mrs. B—— at home?” repeated the visitors.
“No, Mrs. B—— she gone out,” Tom informed them. The proper ceremonials had been fulfilled.
To one who appreciates what he can do, and how well he does it; who can value absolute faithfulness and honesty; who confesses a sneaking fondness for the picturesque as nobly exemplified in a clean and starched or brocaded heathen; who understands how to balance the difficult poise, supervision, and interference, the Chinese servant is the best on the continent. But to one who enjoys supervising every step or who likes well-trained ceremony, “good form” in minutiae, and the deference of our kind of good training the heathen is likely to prove disappointing. When you ring your friend’s door-bell, you are quite apt to be greeted by a cheerful and smiling “hullo!” I think most Californians rather like the entirely respectful but freshly unconventional relationship that exists between the master and his Chinese servant. I do.[H]
THE LAST HUNT
Of all ranch visits the last day neared. Always we forgot it until the latest possible moment; for we did not like to think of it. Then, when the realization could be no longer denied, we planned a grand day just to finish up on. The telephone’s tiny, thin voice returned acceptances from distant neighbours; so bright and early we waited at the cross-roads rendezvous.