Chapter 9–Epilogue

In this historical novel, an upper-class Chinese girl refuses to have her feet bound and must face the social consequences of her decision.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. bittersweet
    tinged with sadness
    Xueyan was at the party, and meeting her and my former classmates was a bittersweet experience, with the bitter outweighing the sweet.
  2. rollicking
    given to merry frolicking
    New Year was always a rollicking time for young people, a time when we bowed to our elder relatives, received gifts of money from them, and gorged ourselves on seasonal treats.
  3. gorge
    overeat or eat immodestly
    New Year was always a rollicking time for young people, a time when we bowed to our elder relatives, received gifts of money from them, and gorged ourselves on seasonal treats.
  4. hostile
    characterized by enmity or ill will
    The servants were grateful to me for making their life easier. The only person still hostile was the houseboy.
  5. obstinate
    resistant to guidance or discipline
    I waited for further resistance from Billy, always the more obstinate and ingenious of the two. But he surprised me by not raising any objections at all.
  6. prominent
    conspicuous in position or importance
    The Tao family doctor was a prominent expert in Chinese medicine, but everyone referred to him as simply Master Physician, and I had never heard his name mentioned.
  7. grizzled
    having gray or partially gray hair
    When the grizzled gatekeeper opened the door, I took a deep breath. “Lao Wang, do you remember me?”
  8. pamper
    treat with excessive indulgence
    I looked at the blank mud-colored walls on both sides of the street, a sight familiar to me since childhood. I had once lived a pampered life inside such walls.
  9. self-pity
    excessive or overly indulgent sorrow over one's own troubles
    This was no time for self-pity. Billy was very sick and needed my help.
  10. demonstrative
    given to or marked by the open expression of emotion
    Although she was not a demonstrative person, Mrs. Warner hugged me. "My dear, I’m so impressed by your initiative! We were lucky to have found you for our children.”
  11. initiative
    readiness to embark on bold new ventures
    Although she was not a demonstrative person, Mrs. Warner hugged me. "My dear, I’m so impressed by your initiative! We were lucky to have found you for our children.”
  12. tactless
    lacking what is considerate in dealing with others
    Mr. Warner laughed, and I blushed at the tactlessness of my remark.
  13. turmoil
    violent agitation
    My thoughts were in turmoil, and I did not reply immediately. Mr. Warner said, "I know that we’re asking you to make a great personal sacrifice in leaving your country and crossing the ocean to go all the way to America.”
  14. exquisite
    delicately beautiful
    Now that he had no power over me, I found him almost pathetic. He was still elegantly dressed in a long silk robe, and the china teacup he held in his hand was the usual exquisite eggshell porcelain.
  15. impudence
    the trait of being rude and impertinent
    “At least you haven’t lost your impudence!” said Big Uncle. He took a sip of tea. “Well, you have condescended to visit us at last. To what do we owe this honor?”
  16. condescend
    do something that one considers to be below one's dignity
    “At least you haven’t lost your impudence!” said Big Uncle. He took a sip of tea. “Well, you have condescended to visit us at last. To what do we owe this honor?”
  17. swagger
    a proud stiff pompous gait
    Without waiting for his answer, I walked out of his study and went to see Mother. I couldn’t resist a swagger—which was possible because I didn’t have to hobble on bound feet.
  18. steward
    the ship's officer who is in charge of dining arrangements
    I didn’t realize at first that I was being put in the third-class section of the ship. The Warners were traveling second-class, and the steward was the one who told me that my cabin was in a level below theirs.
  19. demean
    reduce in worth or character, usually verbally
    I was not offended, but I was surprised. By now I knew the Warners wouldn’t do anything intentionally to demean me. What I hadn’t realized was that they were far from rich.
  20. meander
    move or cause to move in a winding or curving course
    Again, I had to go up flights of stairs and meander around mazelike corridors before I found the Warners in the second-class lounge.
  21. miasma
    unhealthy vapors rising from the ground or other sources
    There was little ventilation down in the bowels of the ship, and nowhere could I escape the miasma of unwashed bodies and cooking smells.
  22. curt
    speaking in a terse, rude, or abrupt way
    “Go back down to the third-class section!” the bartender ordered curtly. "One of the waiters in the kitchen will find something suitable for you.”
  23. haughty
    having or showing arrogant superiority
    I took a deep breath, and without conscious effort, I spoke in the haughty tones of Miss Scott, my history teacher at the MacIntosh School.
  24. vouch
    give personal assurance; guarantee
    “I was just saying that you did a good job of putting that bartender in his place. He’s Chinese but treats most Chinese customers like dirt. I had to call a steward to vouch for my right to sit in this chair. Where did you learn to speak English like that?”
  25. pry
    be nosey
    “I hope you don’t mind my prying,” he said, spreading a lap robe over my knees, although it was quite warm. “You seem to be very well educated, and I’m wondering how you ended up taking care of a couple of American children.”
  26. wry
    humorously sarcastic or mocking
    James smiled wryly.
  27. oblige
    provide a service or favor for someone
    I tiptoed cautiously downstairs, hoping the cook would have some tidbits I could take up to Billy. I had done this often in Nanjing, and the cook had been willing to oblige me, although he was temperamental and surly toward the rest of the household.
  28. temperamental
    subject to sharply varying moods
    I tiptoed cautiously downstairs, hoping the cook would have some tidbits I could take up to Billy. I had done this often in Nanjing, and the cook had been willing to oblige me, although he was temperamental and surly toward the rest of the household.
  29. disheveled
    in disarray; extremely disorderly
    I heard the front door of the small house open, and Mrs. Warner, looking very disheveled, staggered in with some parcels.
  30. bracing
    refreshing or invigorating
    My employer needed support, and I tried to sound bracing.
  31. wield
    handle effectively
    I tried wielding a broom, but I didn’t realize that I had to collect the dirt in a receptacle and deposit it in a refuse container.
  32. doggedly
    with obstinate determination
    One night, as I watched everyone around the dining table doggedly chewing away at Mrs. Warner's dinner, I was suddenly overcome by the desire to eat Chinese food.
  33. delectable
    extremely pleasing to the sense of taste
    It was difficult to talk because I couldn’t stop gobbling down the delectable food that kept arriving at our table.
  34. dismayed
    struck with fear, dread, or consternation
    “You mean you might leave your family, too? Even work as a servant?” I was dismayed.
  35. hardship
    something difficult to endure
    Starting the restaurant with James had been truly backbreaking work during the first two years. He had warned me about the hardship, but it had been even worse than I had expected.
Created on March 30, 2020 (updated April 8, 2020)

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