It is not uncommon for people to assume that a son is always more valuable than a daughter in China. But yet many daughters throughout China’s history have shown great courage and, in many cases, even saved their families from destruction.
A Daughter of the Present is a true folklore story from the book Gleanings From Chinese Folklore by MIss Nellie N.Russells. This story is about a young Chinese daughter named Jade who saved her father and rescued him from a band of robbers.
Jade had the courage to face the bandits and kidnapers of her father when no one else had the courage to save her father – including his sons and other villagers. This story of “A Daughter of the Present” tells of the true extraordinary dedication and bravery that one Chinese daughter had toward saving her father.
This story is a true story that Nellie N. Russell must have heard during her time as a Christian MIssionary In China.
It was in the 1890s that Miss Nellie N. Russell came to Peking (Beijing), China. She spent her entire life working and serving as a missionary in China; Miss Russell spent a lot of time in the countryside of China collecting and writing down stories and folklore she heard.
I have an original 1915 copy of the book Gleanings From Chinese Folklore. The book was one of the many books that my Grandfather and Grandmother Hummel kept in their collection. The book I have is signed with “Chicago 1917;” it was more than likely given to my Grandfather Arthur W. Hummel in Chicago in 1917.
Below is the entire story of The Daughters of the Present by Nellie N. Russell
The Daughters of the Present by Nellie N. Russell
In Manchuria not far from Mukden, lived a well-to-do farmer by the name of Lee. For some years the country had been much trouble by mounted banditti terrorize the people, stealing from them right and left.
Mr. Lee called his neighbors together and after talking over the existing conditions, they bound themselves together to act as watchmen and resist the thieves even to the death.
Mr. Lee then went to the neighboring villages and help them to form little companies of volunteers for the same purpose. This, in time, reach the years of the robbers and they laid their plans accordingly.
One night in the midst of the autumn harvest, while the farmers were celebrating with wine and music the “harvest festival” the bandit came upon the village. Mr. Lee called his followers together and a great fight took place in the moonlight. At last, the robbers set fire to several houses in the village, and after stealing all they could carry away with them, departed.
Everyone was left weeping – grain and clothing gone, and some of their homes in ashes. Everyone was so busy with his own losses that it was daylight before it was known that Mr. Lee was missing. After much searching in the fields and at the near villages, they decided that he must have been taken captive and carried to the robber’s strong hold in the mountains.
Now, Mr. Lee had a little daughter, thirteen years old called “Jade.” She was devoted to her father and his constant companion. When, as the day wore on, he did not return she refused to be comforted.
She pleaded with her mother and brothers to go with her to the neighbors and get them to form a rescue party, so the neighbors were so full of their own losses and fearful of another visit from robbers that they refused. They said, “if we go, we should certainly be captured, and either killed or held for a big ransom.”
Little Jade and her family knew it would do no good to appeal to the magistrate, as such rades were frequent, and nothing was done to pervert or punished; and all the family but the little daughter made up their minds that nothing could be done and they must’ve wait whatever the gods had in store for them.
“Not so,” thought little Jade; “I will either save my father or die with him.” Without saying anything to the other members of the family she learned from questioning the villagers the location of the “Tigers Nest” as the fastness of the thieves was called. She then started off alone and after miles of weary walking, she reached the place at nightfall.
She made direct for the cave and prostrating herself before the entrance she began to weep and wail for her father. The robbers came looked fiercely at her. How she pleaded with those hard-hearted men! They offered her food and money to go away; but she only pleaded the harder. Then they became angry and tried to drive her away. For two days and nights, she knelt in front of the cave; she would neither eat nor sleep.
Many of the robbers were fathers and their heart grew tender towards the little maid us hour after hour her little face swollen and drawn with long weeping and fasting.
At last, the robber captain could endure it no longer, and after one final effort to drive her away, he commanded that Mr. Lee be set free and that he and his little daughter be escorted beyond the hill region by the robber band. At the close of the fourth day, they arrived at their home where there was great rejoicing and much praise for brave Little Jade.
When Jade was seventeen the young man she was engaged to marry died and she took the vow of “widowhood” and also that she would help support the aged father and mother of her betrothed. Although she had never seen any of the family that was considered very meritorious in Jade, and she was held up as a model girl to all the others in the region.
She took in sewing and embroidery, and the money she thus earned was sent to the old people. She is presently living near Mukden, and it is rumored that she is to be one of the teachers in the girls’ school to be opened in that city.
About This Chinese Folklore Story
Many of the folklore stories in Gleanings From Chinese Folklore are ancient Chinese stories; this story seems to be more current of someone alive when Nellie N. Russell wrote down her stories.
Nellie N.Russell lived in a China where women had bound feet, and many Chinese considered a daughter much less valuable than a son; Chinese women had few rights or privileges. Many daughters were forced into very terrible situations and marriages.
Miss Russell wanted to show us how filial, dedicated, and a good many of these daughters were towards their families, especially their father. Even in how badly treated many Chinese women were during this time, there was still great love and dedication between a daughter and her father.
Little Jade is an example of a true Chinese heroine who not only saved her father but later dedicated her life in selfless service to help and teach others.
From Little Jade, we are given the insight to see the bravery, goodness, and love that this Chinese daughter had towards her father. We also learn that the robbers, despite doing some terrible deeds, did not hurt or harm Jade but had compassion on her – after all, they were also fathers who had daughters who they loved.
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You can read more by reading The Old Farmer On The Frontier Lost His Horse – An Old Chinese Story by clicking here.
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