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Moment in Peking Chapter I 京华烟云 第一章 0006
In the midst of the hustle, Mulan heard her mother scolding Silverscreen, a maid of sixteen in the other cart, for being overpainted and overdressed. Silverscreen was embarrassed before everybody; and Bluehaze, the elder maid of nineteen, assisting the mother into her cart, was silently smiling, being secretly glad that she had known better than to overdress for this journey and had listened to the mistress's instructions.
You could see at a glance that the mother was the ruler of the family. She was a woman in the middle thirties, broad-shouldered, square-faced, and inclined to be stout; and she spoke in a clear, commanding voice.
When everybody was well seated and ready to start, a little maid of eleven, whose name was Frankincense, was seen crying at the door. She was utterly miserable about being left behind to stay alone with Lota and the other servants.
"Let her come along," Mulan's father said to his wife. "She can at least help fill the tobacco for your water pipe."
So at the last moment, Frankincense jumped into the maids' cart. Everybody seemed to have found a place. Mrs.Yao shouted to the maids to let down the bamboo screen at the front of their covered cart, and not to peep out too much.
There were five covered carts, with one pony among the mules. The maternal uncle, Feng, and the young boy led the party, followed by the mother, riding with the elder maid, Bluehaze, who was holding a baby of two years old. In the third cart were Mulan and her sister Mochow and the adopted daughter, whose name was Coral. The three other maids, Silverscreen, Brocade, fourteen, and little Frankincense, were in the next cart. Mr. Yao, the father, sat alone and brought up the rear. His son Tijen had avoided riding in the same cart with him, and had preferred the uncle.
A manservant, Lotung, who was the brother of Lota, sat on the outside in Mr. Yao's cart, one leg crossed on the shaft and one left dangling.
To the people who had gathered to watch the departing family, Mrs. Yao loudly announced that they were going for a few days to their relatives in the Western Hills, although actually they were going south. Whatever their destination, it was obvious to the passers-by that they were fleeing from the oncoming allied European troops who were marching upon Peking because of the Boxer uprising.