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You never really know anybody--until you have either lived with them, travelled with them, or drunk a glass of port with them quietly over the fireside. In almost every other instance, what you become acquainted with is one of a variety of masks! And everyone has a fine assortment of these, haven’t they? For the most part you don them unconsciously—or rather, you have got so used to assuming them suddenly that you have lost all consciousness of effort. But they are masks, nevertheless—and a mask always hides the truth, doesn’t it?
Not that I am one of those, however, who dislike camouflage because it is camouflage. In fact, most of the time I thank Heaven for it—my own and other people’s! The “assumed” is so often so much more agreeable than the natural, and nine times out of ten all you require of men and women is that they should at least look pleasant. You’ve got to get through this life day after day somehow, and time passes ever so much quicker for everyone if the hypocrite be a smiling hypocrite at all times. At every moment of the everyday--preserve me from the—sour—visaged saint.
After all, only love and friendship and the law demand the truth and nothing but the truth. Among acquaintances, among all the many thousands you meet through life only to discuss the weather and your own influenza symptoms—all you ask of them is that they should bring out their smiling mask as readily as you struggle to assume your own.
They are white poplars. Though very common in Northwest China, they are no ordinary trees!
With straight trunks and branches, white poplars aim high. Their trunks are usually over ten feet tall and, utterly bare of branches below ten feet，as if wrought by human effort. Their twigs, also like things artificially shaped, all reach out towards the sky and grow close together in a cluster without any sideway growth. Their leaves are broad and point upwards with very few slanting sideways, much less upside down. Their glossy barks are a faint light green with hazy silver spots. They stand erect and unbending in face of North China’s violent wind and snow. Though they may be only as big as the mouth of bowl, they strive to grow upwards until they reach the towering height of some twenty feet and stand indomitable against the northwest wind.
They are white poplar. Though very common in Northwest China, they are no ordinary tree! You may call them unattractive because they have neither the graceful carriage of a dancer, nor such branches as can twine and climb. But nevertheless they are big and tall, honest and upright, simple and plain, earnest and unyielding—and not without gentleness and warmth though. They are giants among trees!
I grew up in a small town where the elementary school was a ten-minute walk from my house and in an age , not so long ago , when children could go home for lunch and find their mothers’ waiting.
At the time, I did not consider this a luxury, although today it certainly would be. I took it for granted that mothers were the sandwich-makers, the finger-painting appreciators and the homework monitors. I never questioned that this ambitious, intelligent woman, who had had a career before I was born and would eventually return to a career, would spend almost every lunch hour throughout my elementary school years just with me.
I only knew that when the noon bell rang, I would race breathlessly home. My mother would be standing at the top of the stairs, smiling down at me with a look that suggested I was the only important thing she had on her mind. For this, I am forever grateful.
Some sounds bring it all back: the high pitched squeal of my mother's teakettle, the rumble of the washing machine in the basement and the jangle of my dog's license tags as she bounded down the stairs to greet me. Our time together seemed devoid of the gerrymandered schedules that now pervade my life.
1. In reference to your letter of May 7，,we cannot make a better offer than the one we suggested to you, We feel that offer itself is most generous under the circumstances. In checking our books, we find that you have purchased from us twice as much the first three months of this year as you did in the first three months of last year. This indicates to us that you have been successful in retailing our merchandise. We hope that upon reconsideration you will be able to accept out offer. We have been very pleased to have you on our list of accounts.
2. Thank you for your letter of June 12.In view of the fact that we have done business with each other for so long and that you have bought from us such volume of office equipment, we would like to meet you half way in your request for lower prices. May we suggest an overall reduction of 4% in price, which will hold right down the line. Since our own overhead has increased somewhat in the last few months, this offer on our part is good only for a few months. At the end of that time you will have to go back to the previous price list. Our sales manager, Mr. Smith, will call on you with some display material which should help you to effect a higher volume of sales.