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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
having gray or partially gray hair
grizzled gatekeeper opened the door, I took a deep breath. “Lao Wang, do you remember me?”
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
lacking what is considerate in dealing with others
Mr. Warner laughed, and I blushed at the
tactlessness of my remark.
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.”
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.
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?”
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?”
“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.”
humorously sarcastic or mocking
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.
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.
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.
refreshing or invigorating
My employer needed support, and I tried to sound
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.
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.
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.
struck with fear, dread, or consternation
“You mean you might leave your family, too? Even work as a servant?” I was
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.