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Mrs. Spring Fragrance (1912) is a collection of short stories by Sui Sin Far. Inspired by her experience living among Chinese Americans in San Francisco and Seattle, Mrs. Spring Fragrance is considered one of the earliest works of fiction published in the United States by a woman of Chinese heritage.


In “The Inferior Woman,” Mrs. Spring Fragrance encounters her neighbors, the Carmans, as they try to find someone to marry their son. While Mrs. Carman wants him to marry into a family of higher social standing, her son is in love with a local girl who works as a legal secretary. Known by Mrs. Carman as the “Inferior Woman,” she has risen through hard work and perseverance to achieve her position at the law firm. Sympathetic toward her neighbor’s son, Mrs. Spring Fragrance advocates on his behalf. “In the Land of the Free” is the story of a Chinese immigrant who is separated from her young son upon arrival due to insufficient paperwork. Exploring the struggles of this woman to reclaim her son, Sui Sin Far exposes the discrimination and hardships faced by Chinese Americans due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, illuminating the byzantine and restrictive immigration policies which sadly continue under a different guise in modern America.


With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Sui Sin Far’s Mrs. Spring Fragrance is a classic of Chinese American literature reimagined for modern readers.


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Publié par

Date de parution

23 février 2021

Nombre de lectures

0

EAN13

9781513276861

Langue

English

Poids de l'ouvrage

3 Mo

Mrs. Spring Fragrance
Sui Sin Far

Mrs. Spring Fragrance was first published in 1912.
This edition published by Mint Editions 2021.
ISBN 9781513271866 | E-ISBN 9781513276861
Published by Mint Editions®
minteditionbooks.com
Publishing Director: Jennifer Newens
Design & Production: Rachel Lopez Metzger
Project Manager: Micaela Clark
Typesetting: Westchester Publishing Services

C ONTENTS M RS. S PRING F RAGRANCE T HE I NFERIOR W OMAN T HE W ISDOM OF THE N EW “ I TS W AVERING I MAGE” T HE G IFT OF L ITTLE M E T HE S TORY OF O NE W HITE W OMAN W HO M ARRIED A C HINESE H ER C HINESE H USBAND T HE A MERICANIZING OF P AU T SU I N THE L AND OF THE F REE T HE C HINESE L ILY T HE S MUGGLING OF T IE C O T HE G OD OF R ESTORATION T HE T HREE S OULS OF A H S O N AN T HE P RIZE C HINA B ABY L IN J OHN T IAN S HAN’S K INDRED S PIRIT T HE S ING S ONG W OMAN T ALES OF C HINESE C HILDREN T HE S ILVER L EAVES T HE P EACOCK L ANTERN C HILDREN OF P EACE T HE B ANISHMENT OF M ING AND M AI T HE S TORY OF A L ITTLE C HINESE S EABIRD W HAT A BOUT THE C AT? T HE W ILD M AN AND THE G ENTLE B OY T HE G ARMENTS OF THE F AIRIES T HE D REAMS THAT F AILED G LAD Y EN T HE D ECEPTIVE M AT T HE H EART’S D ESIRE T HE C ANDY THAT IS NOT S WEET T HE I NFERIOR M AN T HE M ERRY B LIND-MAN M ISUNDERSTOOD T HE L ITTLE F AT O NE A C HINESE B OY-GIRL P AT AND P AN T HE C ROCODILE P AGODA

M RS. S PRING F RAGRANCE
I
W HEN M RS . S PRING F RA GRANCE FIRST arrived in Seattle, she was unacquainted with even one word of the American language. Five years later her husband, speaking of her, said: “There are no more American words for her learning.” And everyone who knew Mrs. Spring Fragrance agreed with Mr. Spring Fragrance.
Mr. Spring Fragrance, whose business name was Sing Yook, was a young curio merchant. Though conservatively Chinese in many respects, he was at the same time what is called by the Westerners, “Americanized.” Mrs. Spring Fragrance was even more “Americanized.”
Next door to the Spring Fragrances lived the Chin Yuens. Mrs. Chin Yuen was much older than Mrs. Spring Fragrance; but she had a daughter of eighteen with whom Mrs. Spring Fragrance was on terms of great friendship. The daughter was a pretty girl whose Chinese name was Mai Gwi Far (a rose) and whose American name was Laura. Nearly everybody called her Laura, even her parents and Chinese friends. Laura had a sweetheart, a youth named Kai Tzu. Kai Tzu, who was American-born, and as ruddy and stalwart as any young Westerner, was noted amongst baseball players as one of the finest pitchers on the Coast. He could also sing, “Drink to me only with thine eyes,” to Laura’s piano accompaniment.
Now the only person who knew that Kai Tzu loved Laura and that Laura loved Kai Tzu, was Mrs. Spring Fragrance. The reason for this was that, although the Chin Yuen parents lived in a house furnished in American style, and wore American clothes, yet they religiously observed many Chinese customs, and their ideals of life were the ideals of their Chinese forefathers. Therefore, they had betrothed their daughter, Laura, at the age of fifteen, to the eldest son of the Chinese Government school-teacher in San Francisco. The time for the consummation of the betrothal was approaching.
Laura was with Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Mrs. Spring Fragrance was trying to cheer her.
“I had such a pretty walk today,” said she. “I crossed the banks above the beach and came back by the long road. In the green grass the daffodils were blowing, in the cottage gardens the currant bushes were flowering, and in the air was the perfume of the wallflower. I wished, Laura, that you were with me.”
Laura burst into tears. “That is the walk,” she sobbed, “Kai Tzu and I so love; but never, ah, never, can we take it together again.”
“Now, Little Sister,” comforted Mrs. Spring Fragrance, “you really must not grieve like that. Is there not a beautiful American poem written by a noble American named Tennyson, which says:
“’Tis better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all?”
Mrs. Spring Fragrance was unaware that Mr. Spring Fragrance, having returned from the city, tired with the day’s business, had thrown himself down on the bamboo settee on the veranda, and that although his eyes were engaged in scanning the pages of the Chinese World , his ears could not help receiving the words which were borne to him through the open window.
“’Tis better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all,”
repeated Mr. Spring Fragrance. Not wishing to hear more of the secret talk of women, he arose and sauntered around the veranda to the other side of the house. Two pigeons circled around his head. He felt in his pocket for a li-chi which he usually carried for their pecking. His fingers touched a little box. It contained a jadestone pendant, which Mrs. Spring Fragrance had particularly admired the last time she was down town. It was the fifth anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Spring Fragrance’s wedding day.
Mr. Spring Fragrance pressed the little box down into the depths of his pocket.
A young man came out of the back door of the house at Mr. Spring Fragrance’s left. The Chin Yuen house was at his right.
“Good evening,” said the young man. “Good evening,” returned Mr. Spring Fragrance. He stepped down from his porch and went and leaned over the railing which separated this yard from the yard in which stood the young man.
“Will you please tell me,” said Mr. Spring Fragrance, “the meaning of two lines of an American verse which I have heard?”
“Certainly,” returned the young man with a genial smile. He was a star student at the University of Washington, and had not the slightest doubt that he could explain the meaning of all things in the universe.
“Well,” said Mr. Spring Fragrance, “it is this:
“’Tis better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all.”
“Ah!” responded the young man with an air of profound wisdom. “That, Mr. Spring Fragrance, means that it is a good thing to love anyway—even if we can’t get what we love, or, as the poet tells us, lose what we love. Of course, one needs experience to feel the truth of this teaching.”
The young man smiled pensively and reminiscently. More than a dozen young maidens “loved and lost” were passing before his mind’s eye.
“The truth of the teaching!” echoed Mr. Spring Fragrance, a little testily. “There is no truth in it whatever. It is disobedient to reason. Is it not better to have what you do not love than to love what you do not have?”
“That depends,” answered the young man, “upon temperament.”
“I thank you. Good evening,” said Mr. Spring Fragrance. He turned away to muse upon the unwisdom of the American way of looking at things.
Meanwhile, inside the house, Laura was refusing to be comforted.
“Ah, no! no!” cried she. “If I had not gone to school with Kai Tzu, nor talked nor walked with him, nor played the accompaniments to his songs, then I might consider with complacency, or at least without horror, my approaching marriage with the son of Man You. But as it is—oh, as it is—!”
The girl rocked herself to and fro in heartfelt grief.
Mrs. Spring Fragrance knelt down beside her, and clasping her arms around her neck, cried in sympathy:
“Little Sister, oh, Little Sister! Dry your tears—do not despair. A moon has yet to pass before the marriage can take place. Who knows what the stars may have to say to one another during its passing? A little bird has whispered to me—”
For a long time Mrs. Spring Fragrance talked. For a long time Laura listened. When the girl arose to go, there was a bright light in her eyes.
II
M RS . S PRING F R AGRANCE , IN S AN Francisco on a visit to her cousin, the wife of the herb doctor of Clay Street, was having a good time. She was invited everywhere that the wife of an honorable Chinese merchant could go. There was much to see and hear, including more than a dozen babies who had been born in the families of her friends since she last visited the city of the Golden Gate. Mrs. Spring Fragrance loved babies. She had had two herself, but both had been transplanted into the spirit land before the completion of even one moon. There were also many dinners and theatre-parties given in her honor. It was at one of the theatre-parties that Mrs. Spring Fragrance met Ah Oi, a young girl who had the reputation of being the prettiest Chinese girl in San Francisco, and the naughtiest. In spite of gossip, however, Mrs. Spring Fragrance took a great fancy to Ah Oi and invited her to a t ê te- à -t ê te picnic on the following day. This invitation Ah Oi joyfully accepted. She was a sort of bird girl and never felt so happy as when out in the park or woods.
On the day after the picnic Mrs. Spring Fragrance wrote to Laura Chin Yuen thus:
M Y P RECIOUS L AURA ,
May the bamboo ever wave. Next week I accompany Ah Oi to the beauteous town of San Jos é . There will we be met by the son of the Illustrious Teacher, and in a little Mission, presided over by a benevolent American priest, the little Ah Oi and the son of the Illustrious Teacher will be joined together in love and harmony—two pieces of music made to complete one another.
The Son of the Illustrious Teacher, having been through an American Hall of Learning, is well able to provide for his orphan bride and fears not the displeasure of his parents, now that he is assured that your grief at his loss will not be inconsolable. He wishes me to waft to you and to Kai Tzu—and the little Ah Oi joins with him—ten thousand rainbow wishes for your happiness.
My respects to your honorable parents, and to yourself, the heart of your loving friend,
J ADE S PRING F RAGRANCE
To Mr. Spring Fragrance, Mrs. Spring Fragrance also indited a letter:
G REAT AND H ONORED M AN ,
Greeting from your plum blossom, 1 who is desirous of hiding herself from the sun of your presence for a week of seven days more. My honorable cousin is preparing for the Fifth Moon Festiva

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