Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze
Elizabeth Foreman Lewis
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When Young Fu arrives with his mother in bustling 1920s Chungking, all he has seen of the world is the rural farming village where he has grown up. He knows nothing of city life. But the city, with its wonders and dangers, fascinates the 13-year-old boy, and he sets out to make the best of what it has to offer him.
First published in 1932, Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze was one of the earliest Newbery Medal winners. Although China has changed since that time, Young Fu's experiences are universal: making friends, making mistakes, and making one's way in the world.
errands were thrilling experiences. He it was who carried the heaviest brasses, he who lifted them about as the patron ordered, he who squatted on his heels in silence while the accountant pursued the delights of bargaining. He would not have exchanged positions with anyone in the Middle Kingdom. This life gave him an opportunity to see marvels that exceeded imagination. At first he could not conceal his expressions of pleasure. “Certainly, there can be no dwellings finer than these in all the
Tang rose and came to the bedside. He threw Young Fu a glance of understanding, then centered his interest on Li. While he stood there, one of the children ran into the room. “Two foreign devils wait without,” she announced in a scared voice. “What do they wish?” Young Fu jumped up. “One of them is my friend. She knows a great deal about sickness. I asked her to come to look at your son.” “Was that your business?” demanded Li’s mother. “Never shall they see him!” Her husband stepped forward,
direction closed in upon them suddenly. The stiff breeze which had pushed them all day long over the surface of the water as suddenly died. The crew pulled at the oars. An occasional drop of rain carried sinister warning. Tang and the captain conferred earnestly. The latter gave an order, and the boat was steered into a small cove to the right. As they cast anchor in this shelter, the clouds burst. The sky was now pitch black, but no one dared to light a lantern. Only four miles away was
the men away with them. All three were conscious and able to walk, though Wei’s head was badly cut. Young Fu watched them out of sight, then busied himself in straightening the place. Anger stung him again as he lifted a flattened object from the floor. “What is it?” asked the coppersmith. “Your little water pipe.” Young Fu brushed the dirt from its surface and wondered whether the dents could be worked out. It might again be beautiful, but not as he had seen it earlier that evening. “It was
of him,” was Tang’s reply. Young Fu looked up cheerfully. The cloud had lifted and he felt like a new creature. “Have you inherited a fortune?” asked the coppersmith in passing. The other beat a dent with his hammer. “This is a different place in which to work,” he suggested. “I thought that you and the others suspected me of the theft.” “That our actions wore that appearance, I admit. It was for a purpose, as you know. So long as the guilty man thought the blame rested on you, he made no