||THE WIFE OF
FOO JUNG by Fred A.
Weekly, January 16, 1892, pages 53-54 (Fiction)
Foo Jung right, they all said. He ought to have known better than to
take that white woman as his wife. No good ever came of such things;
and they, the clever ones, had known it and prophesied it all along.
And now, when Foo Jung came to them for cash and consolation, they
crossed their fingers at him, and laughed and mocked.
It wasnt a very long story they
told to the stranger ones who wanted to know why Foo Jung had gone
crazy, and why the foreign devils had taken him away, like a bag of
rice, to the place across the river, where they kept mad folks and
criminals like wild beasts. They told it in the temple on meeting
days; they talked of it in the back rooms of the grocery stores on
Mott Street; and it was even discussed over the fan-tan tables,
which shows it must have been of very great interest.
They called Foo Jung tsuung-ming
when he first came to the Eastern country, because whatever he
touched turned shiny, like gold. He came with nothing, and he walked
down Mott Street like a man who had been out in the weather so long
he had turned rusty. He queue was dull black, like the hair of a
dead man, and his sandals were ragged. No one looked at him except
to laugh and jeer. Even his own countrymen cried out, "what
fruit is this dropped over-ripe from a new tree among
us?"" But he paid no attention to them. He walked into Hi
Quongs yat bunlow like a man who had plenty of money. He walked
to where Hi was writing, and he watched the big diamond on the
finger of the restaurant-keeper change color three times, then he
"I am hungry."
"This is the place for hungry
men to come to," said Hi, without looking up.
"I am hungry, and I have no
cash," said Foo Jung, as he picked the nail of his forefinger,
like a man who knows not what to expect.
Then Hi looked up, and saw who it
was had come into his place. "Why should I feed you if you have
no cash?" he asked, sharply. "Can I buy chue-yok without
cash, or can I buy fon without it? Do you think I live that I may
make beggars paunches stick out like the stomach of a
Then here is where Foo Jung first
showed he was clever. He took two steps backward, put his hands
behind him, like a man who is afraid of contracting disease by the
touch, and said, "You are Hi Quong?"
"Yes," answered the other.
"You come from the Foo-Chow?"
"Yes. What of it?"
"Your mother bade me say when I
left she hoped you were well and happy. I told her I would embrace
you when we met. I shall tell her when I write that I did not carry
her message because, evil having crossed my path and made me poor,
you turned me out in the street, like an evil one. I shall tell her
you have become like the men in whose country you live: that you
have cast out your Sheung-tai, and worship only the yellow cash. All
of this I shall tell her. I go now to find men better, more
faithful, than you."
He took two more steps backward,
this time toward the door which led into the street. This showed
that Foo Jung was a clever one; for, in truth, he had never been
nearer Foo-Chow than Kwang-Tung. But he had talked with a man from
the beautiful city, and had stored his mind up to his own advantage.
When he had spoken, Hi Quong climbed down from the high stool upon
which he sat, and he walked around the end of the counter. Foo Jung
stood like a man who is irresolute.
"What more did my mother
say?" Hi Quong asked.
Wife Of Foo Jung
January 16, 1892, page 53
maiden who is being wooed, the rusty-looking one told many things.
He conjured up details in his own mind, and he told a long story to
Hi Quong. Any one could have seen how it would end. Back to the big
table in the corner the rusty one was taken, and soon there was
brought out the finest dishes, the best of wines, chow gai pen,
which is the tender breast of chicken stewed with aromatic herbs,
and bamboo shoots, and no mi tsan, the liquor which is made from
the best crop of the rice. How the rusty one feasted! He cleaned off
the dishes one by one until they were polished, and as often as his
mouth was empty he would tell Hi Quong lies about Foo-Chow; and Hi
Quong believed, for it was a great many years since he had left his
When the rusty one had finished,
when he had eaten so much that he was like a fowl ready for the
killing, he wiped his mouth off with back of his hand, and went with
the Foo-Chow man to the counter where he cash drawer was kept. Out
of the drawer Hi counted silverenough for new clothes, enough for
new sandals, some for a new hat and two bits as a fee to the barber.
"You will never regret
this," said Foo Jung; but he chuckled to himself.
He lighted a cigarette, and went out
with his head up in the air, like a man who has nothing to fear and
who wants for nothing. He walked slowly down the street, and made
eyes and showed his teeth to the idle ones who stood in the
doorways. He rattled the silver in his pocket, and blew the
cigarette smoke up in the air.
"The rusty one has his head in
the clouds," said one, "but his feet are in the
gutter." But Foo Jung paid no attention to that.
On Mott Street, half-way from Pell
Street to the Square, on that side where the sun shines in the
mornings, Foo Jung stopped and looked. He was opposite a cellar. The
white sign of a faan-tann koon hung over the door, and the sound
of copper cash came up the steps. The silver in Foo Jungs pocket
dances around as if it were bewitched. Away back in Kwang-Tung they
had called Foo Jung a great player. He knew all the tricks of the
fan-tan men, and when he heard the cash, he was tempted. A man came
up out of the cellar.
"Good brother," he said,
"come down among friends and make your fortune." He
thought Foo Jung was a laundry-man from the country.
"I will go down and make my
fortune," said Foo Jung. "Do you pay when you lose?"
"Yes; and sometimes we pay
double if you play ho-tsoi."
Down the nine stone steps went Foo
Jung, counting the steps as he went, for he believed in signs.
"Come up, brother; heres a
lucky place for you," said another man, while two of the
players looked at each other like men who suspect something, and the
All that day Hi Quong waited in the
yat bunlow for his new friend, but he might as well have saved
himself the trouble, for he waited in vain. The night came, the
dingy lamps were lighted, all the stools in the restaurant were
full, and Foo Jung had not come. The big clock back of the counters
showed midnight when Foo Jung walked in carelessly.
"Ah, my friend," he said,
"have I been away too long?" Then he leaned up against the
counter and laughed. He had the same old clothes on. "I have
not been to the tailors yet, nor to the barbers, but I will go
to-morrow if you will let me lie down."
took him into the back room and showed him a place to sleep. Then he
went back to the counter wondering. Presently Chew Chung, the man
who kept the fan-tan shop in the cellar, came in.
"Who is that man?" he
"He comes from the town I was
born in, and brought me a message from my mother," answered Hi
"Yes, and he has taken every
tael I had. He gambles like a devilas if he could look into the
The result of this was that next day
Chew Chung came around to the yat bunlow to see Foo Jung. He went
into the little back room and talked a long while with him, and when
he came out they were partners, and had agreed to start a new
faan-tann koon. Foo Jung held his head up higher than ever after
that, and when his story came out, from calling him the rusty one,
they took to calling him the clever one, and from showing their
teeth at him, they were only too glad if he even so much as looked
That was the first; and because Foo
Jung was so clever, he became popular. He made money, had his queue
oiled every day, and went to live in a room full of bronzes and hung
with shiny silks, which whispered to themselves when they were
touched. No one could beat him at the wonderful game of fan-tan, and
no one ever tried except those poor fellows from the country who
came in Sunday nights, and lost a months wages at one sweep to
him. But even they like him a little bit, because, when he had won
all their money, he would pretend to show them some of his tricks,
he would give them good advice, and always enough money to go home.
But even by this the clever Foo Jung profited marvelously. The poor
fellows to whom he showed tricks would show these same tricks to
their friends, who would go to Foo Jungs to win money. But it
always turned out the same way, and when they too had lost all their
money, Foo Jung would come up behind them, and say, while he rubbed
his hands together:
"That was a very good trick, my
friends; but you did not play it quite right. Now I will show you
how to win"; and he would pretend to show them.
Then they, too, would go away, not
feeling bad at all that they had lost to such a man. But that
isnt the main story at all, for if Foo Jung had gone right along
like that he would be a rich man in China to-day, instead of behind
bars like a wild beast.
One night, when the players were so
few that you could count them upon the fingers on one hand, he went
in to see Jew Tseng, who kept an opien tsit around the corner. He
was sitting on the edge of the bunk talking when there came in a
woman with wong-shik hair and round blue eyes, unlike anything Foo
Jung had ever seen before. In an instant he felt that he was
smitten. A great wave of love swept over him, like a warm wind from
the south, which brings with it strange sweet perfumes. He watched
her as she walked to one of the little rooms quite unattended; and
when she had disappeared inside, he began to ask his friend about
her. Jew Tseng knew nothing, except that the woman came to his place
about three times every week, bought shap fuun of opien, cooked it
all alone in that little room; and then, strangest part of all, got
right up and walked away as steady as a priest.
"It is not the yen-yen that
brings her here," he said, "because she does not act as if
she had the habit. She pays me; she smokes; thats all I know. I
tend to my own affairs."
That was the evil night for Foo
Jung, they said in Mott Street when this came out. If any of his
friends wanted to find him, instead of going to the fan-tan house,
they went to Jew Tsengs. He was always there, watching and
waiting for that woman with the yellow hair and the blue eyes. Once
he had spoken to her, but she looked at him so fiercely that her
eyes seemed to turn almost black. He was persistent, and at last he
won. She actually spoke to him. She got so she used to say,
"Hello, John!" whenever she came in.
To which he responded, with a
beaming face and treble voice, "Hi lo ho-tai yat."
been almost ready to go back to China, but he forgot all about that
now. If he could only marry this beautiful woman, he would never
want to go across the sea. He must get her something to show he
loved her. So he went out one day and bought a ring. It had diamond
in it as big as the one Hi Quong wore, and when she came one night,
he stopped her in the passageway, and handed to her, with a formal
salaam, after the manner of the men of his country, the pink box
which held the gem. She had taken it first as if she were afraid,
like a child. He had told her, in his broken English, to open it and
look. She had obeyed, and when she saw that big glittering stone,
shining like a magic eye, she gave a little scream of delight, and
he was more than satisfied.
Step by step he won his way until he
was almost sure of his ground. She came oftener, and she used to
stop and talk with him awhile before she went into the little room.
He tried to reform her once by saying, "Opien, him no good
ha?" But at this she had only laughed.
He even went so far as to go and see
a minister, and ask him how much it cost to marry a "Melican
gal"; but the minister had asked him so many questions that he
had run away.
It was the talk of the quarter. The
clever one, who could beat any one at fan-tan, had been captured
body and soul by one of the women of the foreign devils, and, worst
of all, he wanted to marry her. He wanted to renounce his country.
Wong Foo, the learned one, the venerable one, who was the chosen
adviser of all his countrymen in the quarter, talked with him, but
he might as well have tried to hold wind in his hand.
dressed in his best silks, Foo Jung made up his mind to ask this
girl to be his wife. He was at the joint a long while before she
came, and his friend, Jew Tseng, noticed he was uneasy. She came,
smiling. In his own language Foo Jung called her his sun-burst. She
stopped to talk to him. He held out his shaking, trembling, hand to
her. She took it, and he felt a thrill go through him. He wasted not
time in words.
"You mally me?" he asked,
right before them all.
Jew Tseng looked up; some of the
fiends, half in the clutches of the opium, raised their heads
"Hully gee!" ejaculated a
girl with red hair; "whats this?"
The young woman with the yellow hair
must have been expecting something like this, because she didnt
hesitate long, but burst out, "Yes, John; Ill marry
The knowing ones prophesied bad
luck. They said nothing good could come of such a thing as this. But
nothing could turn the clever one. There was a stir in the quarter,
as if a chill wind had suddenly been blown out of a summer sky. Foo
Jungs friends did not know exactly how it came about, but they
did know that he became as a child in the hands of this
yellow-haired woman. What she told him to do, that he did without
question. He sold his share in the gambling-house for cash. He sold
everything he had. He took his money out of the bank, and put it in
a black bag, which he tied about his waist. Togetherhe and the
girlthey went to see a minister. He did not look like a minister
to Foo Jung; but she said he was, and he gave him fifty dollars to
get ready to marry them. The day came. They were to be married in a
house uptown. They went in.
hold of hands," said the minister.
And Foo Jung reached out and took
her hand. He had an idea that he was very happy, and that it was a
very important occasion.
"Youre married," said
the minister, who leaned over and kissed the girl and laughed, while
Foo Jung looked on and wondered if that was right.
"Give her your money, to show
that you aint afraid to trust her," said the minister.
Chinaman did not quite understand until she held out her hand and
pointed to the black bag. Then he took it from his belt and gave it
"Go and sign your name in the
book in the other room," the minister said.
The girl went in, while the clever
one stood around, not knowing what to do with himself. After a while
another man came into the room. He walked over to where Foo Jung
"You wife go Mott Street,"
he said, imitating the pidgin-English of a Chinese. "She say
you go meet her Mott Street." He took Foo Jung to the door, and
in a minute the clever one was on the street.
It took him an hour to walk down to
Mott Street, for he had no money. He went to Jew Tsengs. She was
not there. He searched everywhere, but it was as if she had never
existed. He tried to find the place where he had been married, but
he might as well have tried to find a star in the sky while the sun
was shining. He went to the room where he had lived. There was
nothing left but a paper Joss, which hung on the wall between the
two windows. He sat on the bare floor and looked at it steadily,
trying to think of what to do. He saw the green eyes move about in
the pink head. They rolled so violently it made him dizzy. Then the
arm which held the yellow sword was raised. The head of the Joss
bobbed forward three times.
"Youre the cursed one,"
screamed Foo Jung; and he would have made at the paper which hung on
the wall, but he was afraid.
Those on the floor below heard a
crashing of glass, and a noise as of some heavy body falling
repeatedly. They rushed up stairs, opened the door, and peered in.
What they saw made them retreat down stairs like sheep before a
herder. The news spread like water running down hill. The clever one
had a curse upon him, and foam was coming out of his mouth. They
grouped in the doorway, talking excitedly, and looking fearfully up
the dark stairs.
A policeman came along slowly,
swinging his club. "Whats the matter with you fellows?"
"Foo Jungup there," was
all they could say.
"A fight, ha? Well, I just
guess Ill go up."
He started slowly through the
hallway, when he heard a noise up above. Then came a shriek as if a
soul had just been doomed to punishment. There was a clattering on
the stairs, as of bricks tumbling down. The policeman stepped one
side and looked. A man with ragged and torn clothes was coming down,
rushing. He had in his hands the fragment of a paper Joss, which he
was tearing into still smaller fragments. He reached the bottom of
the stairs and shrieked again. The policeman raised his club, and
brought it down with force upon the queued head, and Foo Jung
tumbled over in the passage, while the blood streamed out from a big
cut. The ambulance which came took away a raving maniac who wanted
to kill himself.
They say down in Mott Street now
that no man is clever enough for a woman.
Weekly, January 16, 1892, pages 53-54 (Fiction)
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