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See Yup
by [?]

I don’t suppose that his progenitors ever gave him that name, or, indeed, that it was a NAME at all; but it was currently believed that–as pronounced “See UP”–it meant that lifting of the outer angle of the eye common to the Mongolian. On the other hand, I had been told that there was an old Chinese custom of affixing some motto or legend, or even a sentence from Confucius, as a sign above their shops, and that two or more words, which might be merely equivalent to “Virtue is its own reward,” or “Riches are deceitful,” were believed by the simple Californian miner to be the name of the occupant himself. Howbeit, “See Yup” accepted it with the smiling patience of his race, and never went by any other. If one of the tunnelmen always addressed him as “Brigadier-General,” “Judge,” or “Commodore,” it was understood to be only the American fondness for ironic title, and was never used except in personal conversation. In appearance he looked like any other Chinaman, wore the ordinary blue cotton blouse and white drawers of the Sampan coolie, and, in spite of the apparent cleanliness and freshness of these garments, always exhaled that singular medicated odor–half opium, half ginger–which we recognized as the common “Chinese smell.”

Our first interview was characteristic of his patient quality. He had done my washing for several months, but I had never yet seen him. A meeting at last had become necessary to correct his impressions regarding “buttons”–which he had seemed to consider as mere excrescences, to be removed like superfluous dirt from soiled linen. I had expected him to call at my lodgings, but he had not yet made his appearance. One day, during the noontide recess of the little frontier school over which I presided, I returned rather early. Two or three of the smaller boys, who were loitering about the school-yard, disappeared with a certain guilty precipitation that I suspected for the moment, but which I presently dismissed from my mind. I passed through the empty school-room to my desk, sat down, and began to prepare the coming lessons. Presently I heard a faint sigh. Looking up, to my intense concern, I discovered a solitary Chinaman whom I had overlooked, sitting in a rigid attitude on a bench with his back to the window. He caught my eye and smiled sadly, but without moving.

“What are you doing here?” I asked sternly.

“Me washee shilts; me talkee ‘buttons.'”

“Oh! you’re See Yup, are you?”

“Allee same, John.”

“Well, come here.”

I continued my work, but he did not move.

“Come here, hang it! Don’t you understand?”

“Me shabbee, ‘comme yea.’ But me no shabbee Mellican boy, who catchee me, allee same. YOU ‘comme yea’–YOU shabbee?”

Indignant, but believing that the unfortunate man was still in fear of persecution from the mischievous urchins whom I had evidently just interrupted, I put down my pen and went over to him. Here I discovered, to my surprise and mortification, that his long pigtail was held hard and fast by the closed window behind him which the young rascals had shut down upon it, after having first noiselessly fished it outside with a hook and line. I apologized, opened the window, and released him. He did not complain, although he must have been fixed in that uncomfortable position for some minutes, but plunged at once into the business that brought him there.

“But WHY didn’t you come to my lodgings?” I asked.

He smiled sadly but intelligently.

“Mishtel Bally [Mr. Barry, my landlord] he owce me five dollee fo washee, washee. He no payee me. He say he knock hellee outee me allee time I come for payee. So me no come HOUSEE, me come SCHOOLEE, Shabbee? Mellican boy no good, but not so big as Mellican man. No can hurtee Chinaman so much. Shabbee?”

Alas! I knew that this was mainly true. Mr. James Barry was an Irishman, whose finer religious feelings revolted against paying money to a heathen. I could not find it in my heart to say anything to See Yup about the buttons; indeed, I spoke in complimentary terms about the gloss of my shirts, and I think I meekly begged him to come again for my washing. When I went home I expostulated with Mr. Barry, but succeeded only in extracting from him the conviction that I was one of “thim black Republican fellys that worshiped naygurs.” I had simply made an enemy of him. But I did not know that, at the same time, I had made a friend of See Yup!