Chang and his wife saw no more of
their son that day until it was time to eat rice in
the evening. Chi Fu had been at the mission compound.
Naturally the Changs were both full of excitement over
the morning’s adventure; so little happens to
disturb the tranquillity of home life in China.
They had talked of nothing else, and were quite ready
to begin again when Chi Fu arrived.
‘Well, have you thought of a
plan to get hold of those children?’ his mother
asked, as soon as he had swallowed one bowl of rice.
The family oracle replied slowly that
he had thought a good deal about it, and that he had
inquired at the mission when the courier was going
‘You surely did not tell about
those children?’ screamed Chang Nai-nai.
‘No, I only asked about the
courier,’ quietly replied Chi Fu, ’and
as he has only just left, my letter could not go until
next month. It would not be prudent to send a
letter written in foreign characters otherwise than
by the mission courier, and were I to use Chinese writing
it might be read on the way.’
Chi Fu partook of another half bowl
of rice, and then continued:
’Therefore it would be advisable
to make some plan for the escape of the two young
ladies, and receive them here.’
‘But what plan?’ cried
his mother. ’Your father and I have been
thinking it over all the afternoon, and there seems
’No, there is no way unless
we get the help of some one in the compound,’
replied Chi Fu. Then he dropped a little of his
dignity, and warming to the subject, unfolded his
plan, which was that his father should question Nelly
next day about An Ching, and that if she seemed reliable
Nelly should tell her everything, and they would arrange
a meeting between her and Chang. If An Ching
were willing to help, it would be quite possible to
get the children over the wall by means of ropes.
Chi Fu, who certainly had a good head on his shoulders
and could use it to some purpose when he forgot his
affectation, suggested also that in case of an extra
courier being sent from the mission, or the arrival
of a missionary, Nelly had better write a letter to
her parents, which he could enclose.
‘But,’ said Chang, ’if
we get the children, are we to keep them here until
they are taken back to Peking?’
Chi Fu replied that he was afraid
his father would be obliged to make the journey to
Peking, and told his mother to fatten her fowls in
readiness. There would be plenty of time, as Ku
Hung Li was not likely to be back yet, and they could
not attempt to get the children away except by night,
in which case they must wait for the moonlight.
Chang and his wife thought that their
clever son had planned everything marvellously, and
next morning Chang went into the small court and waited
to see what would happen. He had not been there
long when he saw a little red ball on the other side
of the wall rise up in the air several times.
Nelly was trying to throw a pebble wrapped in a piece
of red paper over the wall, but as Bob Bates had often
told her, she threw just like a girl, and it was only
after several attempts that her little red messenger
landed on Chang’s side.
Very soon after her successful throw
Nelly saw Chang’s pleasant, round, smiling face
appearing cautiously over the wall. When he was
satisfied that no one else was looking, he came a
‘Good-morning, Ku-niang (young
lady),’ he said. ’What are the others
doing, and where are they?’
‘They are all busy doing their
hair,’ Nelly replied; ’at least An Ching
and Ku Nai-nai are. Little Yi is washing some
rice at the well, and the old servant is still ill.
I’ll begin to sing at once if I see any one
coming. I can see quite well through the hole
when I stand here in the middle of the court.
Please will you tell me your name?’
Chang did so, and said: ’My
son thinks that we ought to let An Ching know of the
plan to get you away. Are you sure she is to be
‘Oh yes, quite,’ replied Nelly.
’You are sure she won’t
tell her mother-in-law or any female friends who come
to the house?’
’I am certain she won’t
say anything about it to Ku Nai-nai, and I don’t
believe she has any friends. She wants to get
away from here and come to me in Peking. But
there’s Little Yi,’ Nelly went on.
’She’ll be cross if I tell An Ching and
‘Well, well,’ said Chang,
’of course she will have to know, and it may
as well be now.’
And then he told Nelly about his son’s
idea that she should write to her father.
Nelly was delighted, until she suddenly
remembered that she had nothing to write with.
Chang at first said that she must
do her best with Chinese paper and the brush that
the Chinese use for a pen, but then he recollected
that Chi Fu had a lead pencil and some foreign paper,
of which he was very proud. He promised to throw
them over the wall, and went on to talk about his
clever son. He had by no means finished when Nelly,
who spied An Ching coming, suddenly began to sing
most vigorously. Chang broke off and vanished,
leaving Nelly standing in the middle of the court foolishly
looking at the wall.
‘Whatever is the matter?’
An Ching asked when she had hobbled into the court.
‘What are you looking at?’
‘Nothing,’ said Nelly; ‘at least
he’s gone now.’
‘Who? What do you mean?’ exclaimed
‘The Christian I mean Chang.’
An Ching was more and more puzzled, and looked at
Nelly in wonder.
At length Nelly said, ’Come
and sit down and I’ll tell you all about it.’
They both sat down on the bench near
the wall, and Nelly told her tale to the astonished
An Ching, or rather she half told it, for just as she
was in the middle of it Ku Nai-nai came shouting for
that lazy An Ching to come indoors.
You may be sure that An Ching made
haste to finish up her work after they had all eaten
their mid-day meal. She and Nelly got out to the
court alone, and Nelly was able to finish the exciting
story. An Ching was too surprised to offer any
advice. She agreed, however, that Little Yi must
know at once, and when that young lady joined them
she was told the wonderful news of the man in the
next compound who was willing to help them to get
Little Yi was quite as enthusiastic
about it as was possible to a Chinese girl. She
wanted Nelly to throw over some red paper at once to
call Chang, but An Ching said that as Ku Nai-nai had
already been smoking and dozing some time, she might
call them at any moment, so it was decided that they
should wait until next day, and throw over the paper
as soon as ever Ku Nai-nai was comfortably settled
on the kang with her pipe.
Poor An Ching! she hated the thought
of being left behind, and was dreadfully disappointed
when she heard that Chang had said he could not take
her; but she promised to do nothing to hinder their
flight in any case. There was one thing she did
not want to do, though, and that was to talk to Chang
over the wall unless his wife were there. ’You
must see him first, Nelly,’ she said, ’and
tell him to send up his wife to talk to me, or else
get two ladders. It would not be at all proper
for me to speak to a strange man alone. Respectable
Chinese young women never do that.’ Nelly
saw no objection, though she thought An Ching was foolish,
and it was decided that she and Little Yi should receive
Chang next day.