The Years That Were Fat: Peking, 1933-1940; with Photos. by Hedda Hammer Morrison

The Years That Were Fat: Peking, 1933-1940; with Photos. by Hedda Hammer Morrison

The Years That Were Fat: Peking, 1933-1940; with Photos. by Hedda Hammer Morrison

The Years That Were Fat: Peking, 1933-1940; with Photos. by Hedda Hammer Morrison

Excerpt

IT SEEMED an unusually warm month of June, in the year 1933. The Shanghai Express, a very slow train, had labored for several days over the broad stretch of this earth's surface extending from the Yangtze River in the South to the great plains of North China. It behaved like a cruising tramp, stopping in mid-country, spending leisurely half hours at local stations. Now the chuffing engine was moving sedately, drawing up under the walls of Peking. I was in one of the compartments of a third-class railway carriage, eager and exultant. It was a moment I had longed for.

Having pierced the outer walls, the train pulled slowly beside the Water Gate platform of the main station, leading to a broad avenue within the city itself. I stepped out, to tread for the first time the earth of Peking. Here were to be spent, as in the biblical parable, the seven "fat" years of my life; after which thin cattle also came out of the river of time. Here I was to enjoy riches of life surpassing anything I had elsewhere known.

How was it that I, an American in my early middle years, should find myself here for no practical reason whatever; launched by my own will to pursue what turned out to be, beyond question, the single most rewarding adventure of my life? To explain, I must go backward for some distance.

My family's general habit of living had been international. I had grown up familiar with many countries of Europe, and with Central . . .

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