By Adele Marion Fielde
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Extra resources for A Pronouncing and Defining Dictionary of the Swatow Dialect: Arranged According to Syllables and Tones
And I wanted Christine to be happy. She deserved it. She is a person who asks for little, who gives more to others than she ever seeks for herself. A woman who faces hardship without complaint, whose instinct in the face of calamity is to roll up her sleeves, not crumple in a heap. She had always done all she could for me. I could do this for her. So I gave in. We tried. And we failed. The details are unimportant. What’s important is that at the end, when the doctors with their magic patches and glistening balms had done what they could, Christine was bereft, as wounded as a human being can be.
I came downstairs early that morning, not long after we’d learned 22 CHINA GHOSTS that we two would not produce a third. Christine was already up and sitting at the dining room table. The newspaper lay folded in front of her. Her cup of coffee was untouched and growing cold. She loves the sunlight, but that morning she seemed not to notice the beams streaming through the dormer window. It might as well have been raining. She sat very still, as if painted onto a canvas background, and she looked so tired and beaten that I didn’t speak.
On the front of the shirt a cartoon rabbit is ﬁshing in an imaginary river, using a carrot for bait. Spotless white socks reach to Jin Yu’s knees. I wonder if she has ever worn new clothes before. And I wonder how much, if anything, she has been told about who we are or what will happen today. I offer Jin Yu a stuffed toy rabbit. She stares at it, unmoving. I press it into her hand. “Jin Yu,” Mary calls to her from behind. ” Mommy, Daddy! ” At that, Jin Yu slowly turns her head, looking over her shoul- 36 CHINA GHOSTS der to ﬁx Mary with a stare.