Monday, March 7, 2011

The Powerful Mandarin

By Mary Vee

Glady's Thoughts

photo courtesy of
The Mandarin of Yangcheng was a powerful man. Servants carried him in a liter whenever he travelled. It wasn't an easy job because the mountain roads were steep. Still, the servants considered the work a great honor.

Visitors needed special permission and had to follow rules in order to see the Mandarin. Government officials bowed this many times, business men bowed that many times, and so on. Everyone knew what to do. They also knew the Mandarin had the power to say who lived or died. I had never met him. I also didn't know Yang thought I should be afraid the Mandarin.

I was glad Yang decided to work at the Inn after Jeannie Lawson died. Each day he taught me new things about the Chinese people and their culture. One day he said, "Gladys, you must go before Mandarin."

I didn't want to. I had no idea what a foreign woman should do. "Why?"

"You must. Mrs. Lawson went before Mandarin. He gave permission for her to live here. Since she is dead you must get permission to stay."

I couldn't wear the clothes I had. I didn't know the rules for bowing before him.  Should I bow twice then wait, would he speak first, do I walk backwards when I leave? Yang didn't know what a foreign woman should do in the presence of the Mandarin. He hung his head. "Then you must wait for new law with rules for how foreign woman should go before Mandarin."

That was a relief. I had too much work to do, anyway. A few days later Yang ran into the court screaming, "Mandarin coming!" He slipped into the kitchen and refused to greet our important guest.

"He came here? But why? Yang, come out and help me. I have to meet him myself?" Yang shook his head and pushed himself further into the corner.

The Mandarin's long curved sword clanked against his liter as he stepped down. He stared at me, without a word.  I didn't know what to do! Would you? Did he come to kill me?  I bowed once. He still didn't speak. I bowed a second time. Then he spoke!

"Gladys, Central Government demands foot-inspector to go to every village. All female's feet must be checked. If feet are bound, they must have bindings removed.  Only female with big feet can do this job. Write your friends and find a woman to do this job." Then he left.

A smile leaped across Yang's face when he heard the news."You now important. Mardarin not speak to many people, especially foreign women. You his honored servant, now."

I may have been honored that day, but not for long. I wrote letters to all the missions in China. No one agreed to serve as foot-inspector. Two months later the Mandarin returned, with his sword. "Have you found a foot-inspector?"

"No. I wrote to all the missions I knew in China. No one would come."

His face turned red. "Central Government demands foot-inspector. You have big feet that are not bound, you will be the foot-inspector. Do you agree?"

Did I have a choice? I bowed. "I agree--if I have your permision to tell villagers about Jesus."

The servants eyes went wide as if saying, No one speaks that way. The Mandarin folded his arms and squinted.  "I don't care about you're religion. You will be foot-inspector."

I bowed. "I am happy to serve, Mandarin." How exciting! I ran back to my room, kneeled and thanked God for providing a job AND making a way for me to tell villagers about Jesus. 

I'll tell you about my travels to the villages next week.


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