The Toll of the Sea

 
1  
There is a legend of
far-away China which
tells of the beauty and
the treachery of the
siren Sea -- whose favors
are a mortgage upon
the soul --

2
-- who gives gifts of
joy and love, but de-
mands double payment
in disappointment and
loneliness.

3
     So when the Sea laid a
   strange gift at the feet
of the little Chinese girl,
      Lotus Flower, she was
          afraid -- and yet
              intrigued.

4
"Whence comes this
  foreign face?"

5
"Alone in my garden
I heard the cry of
wind and wave. I came
hurrying fast - and
he was here!"

6
"Beware of this stranger!
The sea is treacherous.
 His coming bodes no
       good!"

7
Often and often Lotus 
Flower came to the
rocks with a new
hope in her heart
-- yet a fear of
the Siren Sea.

8
"Give this great gift and
ask of me anything in
return, O Sea!"

9
Perhaps it was the 
call of Springtime
   -- but the girl
       seemed very
  beautiful in the
     boy's eyes --
         and so he
      had lingered
       on.

10
"How would you like
 to go to America,
   Lotus Flower?"

11
"You take me to those
   United States?"

12
"Christian lady at
  Mission tell me
  America fine place.
  Women free -- can
  spend all husband's
  money."

13
The garden knew she
loved him, for her
laughter stirred the
    rose leaves.

14
"We are happy to
observe the day
 is pleasant."

15
"Please, I converse
  only in American
  language since I am
  the honorable wife
  of first gentleman of
  that country."

16
"American only marry
  you Chinese fashion.
  When he goes back
  to those United States,
  he forget you."

17
"It is true! I have
  already been forgotten
  by four faithful
  American husbands."

18
"You're what they call
  in clever American
  language -- 'Cats'!"

19
"You're not thinking
  of taking this
  Chinese girl home
  with you, are you,
  Allen?"

20
"I think you'll always
   be pretty faithful
   husband for me, no?"

21
"Surely you don't
  believe you're in
  love with her?"

22
"Why not? She's sweet
   and charming -
  and different --"

23
"That's just it, Allen;
  she is different --"

24
'Tis the spring day
With lovely far-away light.
Why must the flowers fall
With hearts unquiet?

25
"My father sent me
  another cable. Tomorrow
  the boat sails --"

26
"We will have what you
  call in American a - a -"

27
"- is it great lark 
or great sparrow
you call those good
times in America?"

28
Lotus Flower had long
planned her traveling
costume to those United
States. She would be
so stylish.

29
Why not? Hadn't she
a most chic American
fashion book inherited
from her grandmother?

30
"You see you were 
  wrong! My husband,
  he loves me and
  takes me to those
  United States."

31
"Lotus Flower, I'm
  sorry -- but you
  can't go with me
  this time."

32
"Oh, my husband, I love
   you so! If you no
    come back to me,
   you make my heart
        go dead."

33
Summer saw
a lonely little
figure calling
to the Sea.
Autumn beat
down upon
her heart.

34
Winter -- and
a new little
soul stood at
the threshold
of the world.
Had he for-
gotten her?

35
He had forgotten her -- in
his awakened love for the
sweet American girl he
           had known since
               childhood.

36
The blossoms bloomed
again and again, and
always the postman turned
from her gate, leaving
her empty-handed.

37
"Yes, my dear friends, 
  he writes to me every 
  day - letters of love
  and consolation."

38
"She lies! Her
  servants tell me
  that she writes
  those letters to
  herself. The poor
  dear thing, he's
  forgotten her!"

39
"He is pleased, you,
  have given him
  a son?"

40
"He say, 'Sure Mikes,
  I come very soon
  and take you both
  to my fine home in
  those United States'."

41
"Please read letter
   from my Daddy!"

42
"-- every day I write
letters to you. I hope,
too, you think muchly
of your honorable 
father --"

43
"-- your Mamma say
you grow to be quite
big little chicken
already --"

44
"-- kiss for me your
Mamma, and say pretty
soon I come back,
like good fellow --"

45
One summer they
built them a
little dream house.

46
"Here's the great
big room for me --"

47
"-- and here's 
the great big room
for Daddy!"

48
"You mean - my
husband here!"

49
"Quick! Quick! Women
  of my household! Bring
  me my bridal robe!"

50
"Watch him, and perfume
  him, and make him
  ready for his father's
  embrace."

51
In China -- Allen's wife
had heard the story
of the little girl who
was waiting -- and she
 felt it his duty to
 tell Lotus Flower why
 he could never re-
 turn to her.

52
"I'm so happy, oh my
   husband, my heart's
   just full of tears."

53
"You mean -- you're
  not my honorable
  husband!"

54
"My wife understands,
  Lotus Flower, and
  she, too, asks for
  my forgiveness."

55
"There is nothing to
  forgive. I am very
  happy that Honorable
  Mr. Allen bring his
  sweet wife to see me."

56
"Will you accept
  simple hospitality
  of my garden, and
  drink tea with me?"

57
"That's a dear little
  boy, Lotus Flower."

58
"He comes to visit 
  from American family
  next door."

59
"If you ran away and
  hide, I'll give you ten
  American gumdrops --
  and a slip of those
  nice chewing gum."

60
The sympathy and under-
standing between good
women the world over,
brought Elsie back to the
garden and led Lotus 
Flower to tell all.

61
"I have blessed my
son with the name
of Honorable Allen
Carver. You will take
him, please, and keep
him for always?"

62
"Lotus Flower tells
  you fairy stories
  when she says she
  is your Mamma --"

63
"Lotus Flower only
  little Chinese nurse
  for you till sweet
  mother comes from
  America."

64
"There is the sweet
  mother that's come
  for you!"

65
"Let me see him in
  nest of kindly arms,
  so little Chinese 
  nurse know he's
  safe for always."

66* 
At the foot of the garden
waited the restless sea.

67* 
"Oh, Sea, now that life 
has been emptied I come
to pay my great debt
to you."

FINIS




* = Reconstructed title

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