Three Girls Who Went To A Boys’ School

Once more something from, presented without comment. Footnotes are from the text, not by me.
Chinese fables and folk stories by Davis, Mary Hayes; Chow-Leung (ca1908)

(I don’t know what the names [Lily, Beauty, Moon] would be in Chinese, nor about “Qui-Chu”. If I can find out, or somone is kind enough to tell me, I’ll add them at the end of post.)

Míng fù qí xíng
(Names fitting their conduct)

Chinese Fables_Three Girls Who Went To A Boys School


There were thirty-five scholars in the school at Qui-Chu, and three were girls. The boys played by themselves and the three girls played together.

One day the teacher said to his mother, “I think I shall have the girls dress in boys’ clothes next year, if they come to school.”

“Why will you do this?” asked his mother.

“Because the boys do not like girls in the school. They will not play, read, or write with them. They
tease them and laugh at them. I fear the girls must leave the school next year, and they are only nine years old. But we shall see.”

In China the girls do not attend the private schools with the boys, after they are about twelve years old. A little education at home is considered enough for the girls, for the Chinese say, ” We want our women to be gentle, kind and obedient, and too much wisdom might not be good for them.”

The attitude of the Chinese toward their women is paternal, but when the women become mothers and raise a family (especially if there are sons) their power and influence increase with the years, and the mother who lives in her son’s home is a person of great importance to her son and his wife, who must serve her. Her wishes are deferred to and she is granted willing service and obedience by all the household.

When the next year came, the mother was willing to do as her son said. She took some cloth and made
boys’ clothes for the three girls, which she put on them to see how they would look dressed as boys.

When the girls were dressed, they looked at each other and laughed. “What will you do with the ear-
holes, grandmother?” they asked. “Surely the boys will know we are girls.”

The mother called her son and asked him, “What shall we do with the ear-holes? They look like boys now, save for that one thing. I fear the girls can not go to school.”

“I will see,” replied her son. He thought much for two days. Then he went to find an old doctor in the next village, far enough away so that no one would know. He asked the doctor, “Can you close the ear-holes so that girls’ ears will be as boys’?”

“Oh, yes,” answered the doctor, “I can if you will pay me.” Then the doctor came and put something
in the ear-holes and colored it so that it looked like skin, and the grandmother was satisfied to send the
girls to school.

But the teacher forgot and called them girls’ names. The others laughed at the three boys with funny names, but they did not seem to remember them.

Five or six months went by, and the boys had not yet learned that the three scholars with the pretty names were the girls of last year. Then one boy came to the teacher and asked, “Why do those boys have girls’ names? I wish to know.”

The teacher thought a moment and said, “Lily — Beauty — Moon. That boy was called Lily, I think,
because he was so red when he was a little baby. The mother thought he ought to be called ‘Red,’ but that is not a pretty name for a baby, and so they called him Lily.

*Footnote: In China the favorite lily is red.

“And do you not think that Beauty’s name suits him? He is the handsomest boy in the school. I think his
mother called him Beauty because he was such a pretty baby. He is as pretty as a girl. I think it is right that he should be called Beauty. Moon’s name is suitable for him, too. You know he is gentle and
fair. Did you ever see a more gentle boy in school? I think he was always very gentle and fair, and so his
mother gave him that name. All his friends like him as they do the moon.”

The boy ran away and told the other pupils what his teacher had said about the three boys with the pretty names.

New Year came, and each boy had to write his name on a piece of paper and hand it to the teacher, so that he could give them their school names. * Eight gave their names as Beauty, and seventeen as Moon, while all the others wanted to be called Lily. They expected the teacher would allow them to have those as their school names.

In China four names are given to a boy.
1st. The “mother name,” which is given the child by the mother when it is born.
2d. The “school name,” given when he begins school and which he keeps throughout his school days, his degree being given to him in this name.
3d. At sixteen, when he becomes legally of age, he takes a “given name,” which is a variation of his school name and is the name by which he is generally known throughout life.
4th. About the time his education is completed the young man selects a name by which he is known only to his most intimate friends.

In the summer time the scholars had a vacation and the teacher went away for a time.

One day they were all on the playground playing “Theater.” They took nine of the prettiest boys and
put red and white on their faces and dressed them like ladies and bound their feet to make them small.
Six boys put on false beards. Then they piled up chairs and tables high to make a mountain, and the
boys with bound feet were to cross over to the other side. The boys who had to climb over the mountain
from the opposite side were careless, and when all met at the top, they tumbled and fell down in a heap. One boy broke his arm, one broke his finger, and one hurt his eye. The other boys did not stay to help or see what they could do for those who were hurt. All but the three girls, who were dressed like boys, ran away in fear, and left the wounded children lying on the ground.

One girl ran for the doctor. The other two stayed and gave the hurt ones water to drink, fanned their
faces, kept the flies away, and cared for them like little mothers.

In a few minutes the doctor came. He asked, “What were you doing, boys?” The boys were so hurt and
scared that they could not talk, but the girls told how it had all happened.

The doctor bound up the broken arm and finger, and dressed the bruised eye. He was a good doctor and
said, “These boys must lie still several days. They can not get up without my orders; now who is willing
to take care of them?”

“We will help,” said the three girls.

The teacher came back and school began again. When he called for the names of the pupils, they
gave those which they liked best — Lily, Beauty, and Moon — as before, but the teacher said, “No, these
names are all wrong.

“There is only one Lily, one Beauty, and one Moon in this school now. You boys can not use the names
I gave you. You had beautiful names, but your acts were not beautiful.

“You ran away when your schoolmates were hurt. You had no pity for them. Had it not been for Lily,
Beauty, and Moon, they would have died. These names mean something. Beauty makes the world a pleasant place for us to live in. The Moon shines and gives us soft light. The Lily gives us beauty and sweet-smelling odors.

“Your acts were not like the names. After this, when boys want such names they must do something to
be worthy of them.”

名 [] / míng / name
符 [] / fú / to correspond to
其 [] / qí / their
行 [] / xíng / conduct

Chinese given names (en.wikipedia)
Chinese Name (en.wikipedia)
Chinese Personal Names and Titles  (Prof. David K. Jordan, UCSDChinese Resources)



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