週後，星期一，在營外的一條很短的跑道上，凱琳姊，雅各哥哥（即今日的戴紹曾博士，自1955年以來，他在遠東各地從事宣教工作迄今。目前在星加坡主持Overseas Missionary Fellowship簡稱OMF，是繼中國內地會在戰後的新機構，工作重點在東南亞各國。同機構在美國和加拿大各有總部，是新加坡國際總部的後援，並互相呼應。─譯者），小弟約翰，我們四人同登一架軍機朝向中國內地飛去，將和違面五年半的父母聚首。
A Song of Salvation at Weihsien Prison Camp
Mary Taylor Previte
It was Friday, Aug. 17, 1945 . A scorching heat wave had forced the teachers to cancel classes, and I was withering with diarrhea, confined to my mattress atop three steamer trunks in the second-floor hospital dormitory.
Rumors were sweeping through the camp like wildfire. The prisoners were breathless with excitement—and some with terror. Although we knew nothing of the atomic bomb, the bamboo radio had brought the news two days ago that Japan had surrendered.
Was it true?
Mr. Izu, the Japanese commandant, was tight-lipped, refusing to answer questions.
Lying on my mattress in mid-morning, I heard the drone of an airplane far above the camp. Racing to the window, I watched it sweep lower, slowly lower, and then circle again. It was a giant plane, and it was emblazoned with an American flag. Americans were waving at us from the windows of the plane!
Beyond the treetops, its silver belly opened, and I gaped in wonder as giant parachutes drifted slowly to the ground.
Weihsien went mad.
Oh, glorious cure for diarrhea! I raced for the entry gates and was swept off my feet by the pandemonium. Prisoners ran in circles and pounded the skies with their fists. They wept, cursed, hugged, danced. They cheered themselves hoarse. Wave after wave of prisoners swept me past the guards and into the fields beyond the camp.
A mile away we found them — seven young American paratroopers — standing with their weapons ready, surrounded by fields of ripening broom corn.
Advancing toward them came a tidal wave of prisoners, intoxicated with joy. Free in the open fields. Ragtag, barefoot, hollow with hunger. They hoisted the paratroopers’ leader onto their shoulders and carried him back toward the camp in triumph.
In the distance, from a mound near the camp gate, the music of “Happy Days Are Here Again” drifted out into the fields. It was the Salvation Army band blasting its joyful Victory Medley. When they got to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the crowd hushed.
O, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?
From up on his throne of shoulders, the young, sunbronzed American major struggled down to a standing salute. And up on the mound by the gate, one of the musicians in the band, a young American trombonist, crumpled to the ground and wept.
Overnight, our world changed. Giant B-29s filled the skies each week, magnificent silver bombers opening their bellies and spilling out tons of supplies. While they provided us with desperately needed food, the B-29s were also a menace. Suspended from giant parachutes, monstrous oil drums crammed with canned food bombarded the fields around the camp. Once, a crate of Del Monte peaches crashed through the kitchen roof. Outside the walls, a falling container fractured the skull of a small Chinese boy.
Our teachers issued orders for us to run for the dormitories whenever we sighted bombers. They were not about to have us survive the war and then be killed by a shower of Spam.
One Saturday in September, as I was running for cover from the bombers, my dorm mate ran toward me, shouting, “Mary! Mary! You may be leaving on the next plane.”
The following Monday, on the tiny landing strip beyond the camp, Kathleen, Jamie, Johnny and I boarded an Army transport plane. After being separated from Daddy and Mother for 5 1/2 years, we were headed home.
We flew 600 miles into the interior, traveled 100 miles on a Chinese train, and found ourselves at last on an old-fashioned, springless mule cart for the final 10 miles of the trip, escorted now by a Chinese Christian friend. It was a rainy September day, and as the squealing wooden wheels of the cart sloshed a foot deep in the mud, it seemed to us that the journey would never end.
We finally decided to brave the world on our own, running ahead on foot while our escort, Mr. Soong, brought the baggage along after us in the mule cart. Chinese peasants in the fields along the road blinked in amazement at the four foreign devil children struggling through the mud, we were a soggy mess.
Along the lonely mud-clogged road the gao liang corn stood tall in the fields—the frequent hiding place for brigands and bandits to pounce on unwary travelers. Evening was coming, and off in the walled town of Fenghsiang , the giant city gates would be closing at dark—shutting for the night to protect the populace from bandits.
Kathleen and Jamie, who knew about these things, worried about the city gate. Would we reach Fenghsiang before it closed for night? If so, would the gatekeeper break the rule and open it to strangers?
But on that night of miracles—Sept. 11—at 8 o’clock , the city gate stood wide open as we approached. On we walked, through the gate and along the main street lined with packed mud walls. Without electricity, the town was black, the streets largely deserted.
Kathleen walked slowly toward a man who passed us in the darkness. “Would you take us to Rev. Taylor of the Christian Mission?” she asked in her most polite Chinese. The man muttered something and moved away. In China , no nice girl approaches a man. Neither does she walk in the street after dark.
Kathleen approached a second man. “Would you take us to Rev. Taylor of the Christian Mission?”
His eyes adjusted to the darkness as he looked at us. Four white children. “Yes. Oh, yes!” he said.
The man was a Bible school student of our parents, and he recognized at once that we were the Taylor children for whom the Bible school had prayed for so long. He was gripped by the drama of the situation.
Down the block, through the round moon gate and into the Bible school compound he led us, stumbling as we went. There, through a back window, I could see them—Daddy and Mother—sitting in a faculty meeting.
I began to scream. I saw Father look up.
At the front door, the student pushed ahead of us through the bamboo screen. “Mrs. Taylor,” he said, “the children have arrived.”
Caked with mud, we burst through the door into their arms—shouting, laughing, hugging—hysterical with joy. And the faculty meeting quietly melted away. (The End)