The Victory of
Quang Po by Mary
Jo bent down and slipped under the barbed wire fence that separated
the field back of the Chinese fishing-village from the other fields
that stretched away to the houses of the California seaside resort
under the pines. The wind blew pleasantly in from the sparkling bay.
A large number of frames for drying fish stretched away to the back
part of the Chinese field. A great net fifty feet long was spread out
on the ground to dry. Jo looked at the wooden sinkers that were
fastened along one side of the net and smiled. "They're all on
again," he thought.
A line of flounders stretched above the narrow, crooked street of
the fishing-village. The flounders looked like queer clothes hung to
dry on a clothes-line. There were crates of small fish, packed so
that they stood on their heads. Underneath a table of drying fish lay
a dead gopher.
Red placards spotted the houses. On the roof of one hut a little
paper windmill was turning in the breeze. Back of one hut was a bit
of garden inclosed with a fence of branches and containing much
mustard. Chinese were washing fish. Shells were exposed for sale,
since at any hour visitors from the American settlement might come to
traverse the Chinese village, and visitors often bought shells.
Even now, as Jo passed through the street, an old Chinaman beckoned
to the lad, and with much mystery unrolled a piece of brown paper and
showed a pearl that had come into his possession and that he wished to
Young Chinese girls, with red or yellow-capped babies strapped on
their backs, packed or spread the fish. Some little Chinese boys were
arranging dried squids in boats drawn up on the shore. On one boat was
a kind of wooden crane, holding a hanging pan. There were some burnt
sticks in the pan, and the whole contrivance was evidently an
arrangement whereby a fire could be made in the boat when it was out
Jo stepped into one deserted hut, and found it to be a kitchen. An
oil can was over some ashes, and there were some queer, big kettles
near. In another place were Chinese children eating their breakfast.
One child had a Chinese cup, out of which she ate with chop-sticks.
Jo sat down on the edge of the village, and watched three women who
were setting off in a boat, intending to row out into the surf to get
kelp. Small fish lay drying all over the rocks by the sea-beach near
Jo, and a Chinaman was lifting up the fish, and letting them drop
again by the handful, while the wind blew away the straw or grass that
had become mixed with the fish while drying. Then the fish were spread
upon matting to dry further.
"Ho'lah!" the Chinaman said to Jo.
"Ho'lah!" responded Jo, and the conversation ceased.
For a few minutes Jo watched two or three Chinese boys who were
lying on the beach, sifting the white sand through their fingers,
hunting for the small, white "rice shells," that American people
Presently, Jo pulled a sketch-book out of his pocket, and began to
draw the collection of queer huts that composed the Chinese village.
By and by the Chinaman who had been tossing fish, Quang Po, sat down
on the rocks. He looked at Jo for a time, and then came and glanced
over Jo's shoulder, smiling. The Chinamen of the village were used to
having artists come and plant their easels here and there on the rocks
or at the entrance of the narrow street, and draw the village on their
canvas. At such times, a small group of Chinamen usually gathered
about each artist, and made in their own tongue comments on the
drawing. No artist knew the nature of the criticisms made in his very
Jo smiled over his own drawing, as Quang Po inspected it.
"Wha' fo' you do that?" inquired Quang Po, mustering his English.
"This drawing?" questioned Jo. "Oh, you see, my cousin is an artist
on one of the city papers. He's older than I am, and he earns a good
deal of money. I'm going to learn to make pictures for papers, too.
Some day I'll have as good a position as my cousin has."
Quang Po looked puzzled. He did not understand. He always thought
American pictures strange. They were not made as Chinese pictures
But Quang Po knew that once he had thought other American things
strange, too. Some Americans believed in teaching Chinese girls
wonderful stories and words from a wonderful Book. When Quang Po's
niece had been taught first by such an American, great was Quang's
wrath. To increase his indignation, another thing happened. He had
burnt incense at the stone in the middle of the fishing-village, in
order to find out what day would be most lucky to go fishing, and had
found that according to the stone the twenty-second day of the month
would be the most lucky day. He had therefore gone fishing on the
twenty-second, and he had come back sulky, having caught almost
nothing. Then Quang Po's niece had actually laughed at the ill-
fortune of her uncle, and had openly expressed her unbelief in the
village stone! Quang Po had been very angry for many days, but there
came a time when Quang Po's niece induced him to go with her to the
little mission school on the hill-side, and there Quang Po heard that
for which his soul thirsted. He saw the picture of the Crucified. He
understood the story, and he, like his niece, lost faith in the
village stone and in the incense-shelves. Quang Po yielded his will
and his life to Christ, and the Christian religion seemed strange to
him no longer.
So, when this Chinaman handed back the drawing to Jo, Quang Po
smiled and said the kindest thing he could think of, although the
drawing did not accord with his Chinese ideas of art.
"You draw like Melican," said Quang Po, winding his queue about his
head, and preparing to return to work.
Jo felt somewhat ashamed. He wished that he and the other boys had
not cut the sinkers off Quang Po's big net. Perhaps Quang Po did not
know that Jo had taken part in that mischief, but the thought of it
made Jo uncomfortable. So did the remembrance that he and the other
boys had slyly at night cut the line that held the flounders high in
air above the village street. The flounders now were safely stretched
aloft again, but the last time Jo remembered seeing them they were
lying in the dust. Jo was not an ill-natured lad, but he had not
objected to helping do the mischief. And now Quang Po had spoken
kindly of Jo's drawing! Jo winced a little. He was rather proud of his
ability as an artist, himself. He turned his attention, to the flaming
yellow pair of trousers worn by a small Chinese boy among the numerous
Chinese children in the street below. The brilliant color made the
little fellow most conspicuous as he toddled here and there. In
watching him, Jo tried to forget his own self-reproach.
So far did he succeed in forgetting it that, that evening, when
Louis Rouse, one of the other boys whose parents were staying at the
resort during the summer vacation, proposed going over to the Chinese
village, Jo did not object, though he knew that the purpose of going
was to have some "fun," as Louis called it.
"Was the line of flounders up?" asked Louis gleefully, as the boys
went over the fields in the dusk. "Let's cut it again! And, say,
let's just tip over one of those frames for drying fish in the field
back of the village. We can do it carefully, so they won't hear."
Chuckling softly and speaking in whispers only, the boys crept
about the fishing-village and did the mischief planned. They pretended
that the Chinese village was a fort of enemies, and the boys were a
band of soldiers reconnoitering in the dark. They became quite
excited over the idea. Doing mischief seemed so much more glorious
than it would if they had allowed themselves to think that they were
really American boys doing a contemptible thing to quiet, peaceable
Just as the boys had quietly tipped over one of the fish-frames,
letting the partially dried fish slide to the ground, there were
shouts in the dark of the Chinese village.
"The enemy's coming, boys!" whispered Louis, and the lads rushed
for the fence.
Some boys caught their feet in the big, spread-out net, and fell,
and rolled over, shaking with laughter. Others stuck between the
barbed wires of the fence, but all were outside, running across the
fields, before the Chinese had sallied out toward their frames. Some
distance from the fishing village, the boys dropped breathless behind
the large rocks near the sea, and laughed softly together. Jo laughed
with the others, though he said, "I sha'n't dare go near the village
for a week, till my hand gets well. The barbed wire gave me some
pretty deep scratches on the back of one hand, and the Chinamen might
guess how I got the marks."
"I've got one on my forehead, I guess," answered Louis, laughing.
"It feels so, anyway, and I guess it's bleeding."
The boys went home. Jo was silent on the way.
"I'm tired, laughing so much," he explained to the rest.
He could not help remembering how kind Quang Po's voice had sounded
when he said, "You draw like Melican."
During the next week Jo stayed away from the fishing village. The
scratches on his hand and on his cheek were all too plainly visible.
He occupied his vacation-time in rambling in other places besides the
One morning, in his rambles, he went to what had once been an old
adobe dwelling. It was on a hill, quite a distance outside the town,
and was not often visited by any one. The old adobe had long ago lost
its tile roof, some of the walls had fallen, its former Spanish
inhabitants had long since disappeared, and quick-motioned, small
lizards now and then ran over the thick, ruined walls that stood,
dark and crumbling, against the light-brown of the wild oats on the
Jo climbed on top of one of the higher adobe walls. It still
retained its Spanish thickness, being about five feet through,
although crumbling at the sides and somewhat uncertain as to
"Must have taken a lot of clay to make it," thought Jo.
Just then a little lizard, that had been sunning itself in a niche
in the adobe wall, started, disturbed by Jo's proximity, and ran
swiftly over to another part of the wall. Jo was anxious to see where
the creature went. The boy jumped over a broken place in the wall, and
walked on its top, regardless of the fact that the adobe was
"Guess it's gone where I can't see it," said Jo to himself. "This
is a nice sunny place for a lizard. I--"
Jo had stepped a little too far. There was a sudden trembling of
the wall. Jo caught at the adobe, which came away in handfuls, and he
fell with a large portion of the old wall.
The next thing he knew, he was lying, choked with dust, on what was
once the floor of the old Spanish dwelling. He was overtopped by a
heavy pile of debris, from under which he struggled in vain to
extricate himself. He had one free hand, with which, when he found
that other exertions did not avail, he tried to dig himself out; but
the more he dug, the more the great pile of adobe above him slid down
on his face, till he was in such imminent danger of being smothered
that he was forced to desist.
It was almost all he could do to breathe with such a weight upon
him, but after a few moments' rest he tried to shout for help. His
shouts were not very loud, and soon he had to stop. He lay breathing
heavily and looking up at the pile of dull earth.
"I wish," he panted, "I hadn't--come here."
He fervently hoped that some sight-seer like himself might be
attracted to the old, out-of-the-way adobe, for Jo was now convinced
that it was impossible for him to set himself free. He tried again
and again, but always with the same result of semi-suffocation under
the sliding debris.
The forenoon passed away. The sun, mounting higher, shone over the
dilapidated walls, and fell full on Jo's face. He shielded his eyes
with his free hand. The sun beat heavily on his head. Sometimes he
thought he heard a rustle in the wild oats, and he cried out for
help, but he afterward concluded the sound had been made by the wind
or by some lizard.
Gradually the shade began to lengthen in the adobe. Jo looked
wistfully at the shadow of the wall as it stretched a little farther
toward him, and he sighed with relief when at length the sun that had
made his head so hot was guarded from his face by the shadow that
reached him. He had lain here a number of hours, and now, as he began
to think about evening, he wondered what his father and mother would
do when he did not come home. If they had not worried about him during
the day, they would be alarmed at night.
"There are some coyotes around the neighborhood," thought Jo.
He knew that a number of poultry-yards had suffered from coyotes.
Jo did not suppose that a coyote would usually attack a person.
Chickens, lambs, young pigs, were a coyote's prey, but in Jo's
present situation he did not care to be visited by a coyote.
"I could throw clods at him," thought Jo. "I hope that would scare
As the sun sank, Jo shouted repeatedly, till his breath was gone.
He hoped that some laborer might take his homeward way across the
unfrequented hill. But the prospect of such relief seemed very
slight, so unused was this place to visitors. Jo saw a wild bird fly
far overhead in the glow of the evening sky. The bird could go home,
but he could not. He could only wait--how long?
After a while, there was the sound of clumsy feet that jolted by
the adobe. Jo heard.
"Come here!" he cried with all his strength. "Come here! Come
The clumsy feet stopped. There was a creaking sound, as of baskets
swung to the ground. A face peered through a break in the wall, and
Quang Po climbed into the adobe.
"Ho'lah!" he said.
"Ho'lah!" faintly responded Jo.
Quang Po wasted no more words, but set to work. He had not much to
dig with, save his tough, yellow hands and a stick, but after nearly
an hour's exertion, he released Jo.
"You' bones bloke?" asked Quang anxiously.
"No," responded Jo, wincing. "My arm hurts, but I guess it's only a
"Me cally fish to lady," explained Quang. "Me go closs hill to
lady's house. Hear you holler."
Jo tried to stand, but found himself dizzy and faint, and Quang Po,
leaving his baskets, went home with the lad.
Next day, Quang Po, going his rounds, was carrying his fish-baskets
past Jo's house. Jo, sitting on the steps, his arm in a bandage, made
a sign to Quang to stop.
"My mother wants to buy some fish of you," Jo said.
The fish were bought, and Quang was thanked by Jo's mother for
helping her boy. Quang went back to his baskets again, but Jo
"Quang Po," he said, choking a little, "you very good to me."
Quang Po smiled.
"Quang," confessed Jo, "I helped the other boys cut the sinkers
from your big net, once."
"Me sabe," (understand) he answered, "me sabe long time ago."
"I helped the other boys cut the line that held up your flounders,"
faltered Jo. "I helped tip over the fish-frame."
Quang Po nodded.
"Me t'ink so," he said.
"What for you good to me?" demanded Jo.
"Me Clistian," responded Quang Po with gravity, as if that one word
explained everything. "Clistian must do lite."
Jo looked at him. Quang lifted his heavy baskets on his pole.
"Goo' by," he said.
"Say--Quang Po," burst out Jo, "I'm sorry! I won't bother you any
more! I won't let the other boys do it, either! I can stop it."
Quang Po smiled.
"Me glad you solly," he said. "We be good flends, now." And he
trotted away, the heavy baskets creaking.
Jo looked after him.
"And I thought you were the heathen!" he whispered.