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Full text of "The dream of the red chamber = Hung lou meng: a Chinese novel of the early Ching period"

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CONTENTS 

Introduction, by Franz Kuhn xiii 

The Chia Family xvii 

Principal Waiting Maids xix 

Translators' Note xxi 

CHAPTER 1: Shih Ying is carried away in a dream and receives a 
revelation. Amidst the toil and welter of daily life Yu Tsun finds 
the maiden of his heart. 

CHAPTER 2 : In Yangchow a high-born lady joins the company of the 
Blessed. In the tavern Yu Tsun learns more about his noble 
relatives. 13 

CHAPTER 3 : Mr. Ling gives his guest from the West an introduction 
to the Yungkuo palace. The Princess Ancestress takes a motherless -~ " 
child lovingly into her home. 20 

CHAPTER 4: An unfortunate girl finds an unfortunate suitor. A little 

bonze from the Temple of the Gourd acts as judge. 34 

CHAPTER 5: The spirit of Pao Yu ivanders about in the Phantom 
Realm of the Great Void. The Fairy of Fearful Awakening vainly 
interprets for him in songs the Dream of the Red Chamber. 43 

CHAPTER 6: Pao Yu tries for the first time the "Play of Cloud and 
Rain." In the Ningkuo palace he becomes acquainted with his 
nephew Chin Chung. 52 

CHAPTER 7 : Pao Yu is shown the gold amulet of his girl cousin. The 
girl cousin is shown Pao Yu's stone. 58 

CHAPTER 8: Chia Cheng reprimands his delinquent offspring. Ill- 
behaved boys create a disturbance in the school. 65 

CHAPTER 9: The Prince Hermit's birthday is celebrated in the N'ng- 
kuo palace. The sight of Phoenix awakens carnal desires in the 
heart of Chia Jui. 74 

CHAPTER 10: Phoenix maliciously incites an unrequited passion. In 
spite of warnings, Chia Jui looks into the forbidden side of the 
Wind and Moon Mirror. 84 

CHAPTER 11 : Ko Ching dies and receives the posthumous title of wife 
of a mandarin of the fifth rank. Phoenix takes over the household 
management in the Ningkuo palace. 93 

CHAPTER 12: Pao Yu meets the Prince of the Northern Quietness on 
the road. Chin Chung enjoys himself in the nunnery. 101 



CHAPTER 13 : Beginning of Spring is exalted by Imperial favor and 
chosen to be Mistress of the Phoenix Palace, Chin Chung sets out 
prematurely on kis journey to the Yellow Springs. 114 

CHAPTER 14: Pao Yu reveals his talent in the Park of Delightful Vi- 
sion. Black Jade is annoyed by the bite of a fly. 123 

CHAPTER 15 : On 'the day of the Lantern Festival the Imperial consort 
pays her family a visit. 134 

CHAPTER 16: -One night the maid Pearl tests Pao Yu's feelings and 
stipulates her conditions. Black Jade makes fun of Cousin Little 
Cloud. 144 

CHAPTER 17: The maid Pearl sulks and takes Pao Yu quietly to task. 
The maid Little Ping keeps silence and saves Chia Lien from being 
discovered. 154 

CHAPTER 18: Pao Yu falls out with two of his cousins at the same 
time. Two lovers tease one another with quotations from "The Play 
of the Western Pavilion." 166 

CHAPTER 19: Ni the usurer proves impulsively generous when drunk. 
A lovelorn maid gets queer ideas about a lost handkerchief. 177 

CHAPTER 20: A sorcerer bewitches the cousins. The marvellous power 
of the magic stone brings about their recovery. 188 

CHAPTER 21: On the Wasp Waist Bridge a lovelorn maid expresses 
her feelings in commonplace words. The "Courtesan Yang" startles 
two butterflies in the Pavilion of the Kingfisher-Blue Drops. 200 

CHAPTER 22 : The better off one is, the more one troubles about one's 
welfare. The more a woman is cherished and loved, the more love 
does she demand. 214 

CHAPTER 23: A lost unicorn amulet causes Little Cloud to expose her 
bare i ad to the fierce sun. Gold Ring cannot get over the insult she 
suffers and seeks the death of honor. 228 

CHAPTER 24: The degenerate offspring experiences the pain of a 
paternal flogging. 238 

CHAPTER 25: The Begonia Club meets in the Hermitage of Clear 
Autumn Weather. The Princess Ancestress entertains the god- 
mother from the country in the Park of Delightful Vision. 245 

_ 'A TER 26: Pao Yu sets out to burn incense in the dust of the high- 
way in memory of a dear departed. On the Day of the Thousand 
Autumns Phoenix unexpectedly turns into a vinegar barrel. 264 

CHAPTER 27: The windy and rainy mood of a gloomy autumn eve- 
ning inspires Black Jade with an elegy on the wind and the rain. 
The maid Mandarin Duck renounces the bliss of a Mandarin Duck 
union. 274 



CHAPTER 28: The Mad Robber Count has improper designs and ex- 
periences a flogging. The Cold Knight sets off on a journey to avoid 
trouble. 294 

CHAPTER 29: The libertine, shamed and disgraced, seeks distraction 
in a business expedition. A superior girl practices the art of poetry, 
studying the best masters. 302 

CHAPTER 30: A quack doctor treats Bright Cloud with *' 'tiger and 
wolf medicines" Despite being ill, Bright Cloud heroically sacri- 
fices herself for Pao Yu and mends his peacock-plume cloak. 311 

CHAPTER 31 : The waiting maid Cuckoo slyly tests Pao Yu's feelings 
and upsets his mental balance by hinting at a parting. A kindly 
aunt pacifies a lovelorn maiden with gentle words. 326 

CHAPTER 32: Chia Lien secretly takes the second Miss Yu to wife. 
The third Miss Yu aspires to the hand of the Cold Knight. 342 

CHAPTER 33: A fiery maiden, ashamed of her unrequited passion, 
takes her life. The Cold Knight strides with a cold heart through 
the Gateway of the Great Void. 356 

CHAPTER 34: Phoenix cross-examines the servant and so finds out the 
master's deceits. The unhappy Yu girl allows herself to be lured 
into a trap. 366 

CHAPTER 35: Phoenix, with cunning and malice, plays the young 
rival off against the older one. Driven to desperation, the second 
Yu kills herself by swallowing gold. 382 

CHAPTER 36: The bag with the springlike embroidery becomes a 
traitor in the hands of a simple girl. The girls in the Park of De- 
lightful Vision fall into discredit and have to suffer the torture of a 
house search. 393 

CHAPTER 37: A sinister occurrence at the nocturnal banquet awakens 
'.Inrh forebodings. At the Mid-AutWfl-n Festival a new stanza awak- 
ens happy promises for the future. 411 

CHAPTER 38: The charming maid cannot get over the wrong done 
her, and dies in the flower of her youth. The unhappy scion of 
princes dedicates a funeral hymn to the dead maid. 422 

CHAPTER 39: The Plaster Priest makes game of Pao Yu and invents a 
remedy for jealousy. Four beauties question fate with the fishing 
rod. 431 

CHAPTER 40: An evil dream frightens an unhappy lovesick maiden 
in the Bamboo Hermitage. Beginning of Spring is visited by her 
relatives on her sickbed in the Imperial Palace. 441 



CHAPTER 41 : The beautiful saint is caught up in the fire of sin as she 
sits on her prayer cushion, and is carried away into ecstasy by 
demoniacal forces. Black Jade is frightened by the shadow of the 
snake in the beaker, and rejects all nourishment with sublime 
resolution. 452 

CHAPTER 42: The Ancestress puts a reverse interpretation upon the 
evil omen of the begonia blossoming in winter and tries to drown 
anxious doubts in the joyous tumult of a banquet. Pao Yu loses the 
spirit stone and forfeits his reason as a consequence. 463 

CHAPTER 43: Black Jade consigns her poetical works to the flames 
and finally renounces her unhappy love. Precious Clasp crosses the 
threshold of her maidenly bower for the last time, and goes through 
the great ceremony of her life. 480 

CHAPTER 44: The plant Purple Pearl returns to the Sphere of Ban- 
ished Suffering. The spirit stone drenches with tears the place of 
dear memories. 500 

CHAPTER 45: Taste of Spring marries far from home, and Pao Yu 
weeps bitter tears after her. Ghosts disport themselves at night in 
, the deserted park. 507 

CHAPTER 46: Yu Tsun recognizes in the mysterious hermit his old 
friend and benefactor. The moneylender Ni, known as the Drunken 
Diamond, becomes the pike in the carp pond. 516 

CHAPTER 47 : The unhappy lover, Pao Yu, stirs up past feelings. The 
bailiffs of the Minister of Finance take possession of the western 
palace. 529 

CHAPTER 48: The Princess Ancestress, prostrate before heaven, nobly 
takes upon her own head the guilt of the whole clan, and generously 
distributes her treasures. The Imperial grace is showered upon 
Chia Cheng, and the princely title, restored once more, is passed 
on to him. 541 

CHAPTER 49: Robbers loot the property left by the Ancestress and 
abduct the beautiful anchoress. Pao Yu gets back his stone and is 
awakened. 550 

CHAPTER 50: Pao Yu passes the examination with honors and re- 
nounces the red dust of the world. Shih Ying and Yu Tsun meet 
once more and conclude the story of the stone. 569 



INTRODUCTION 



Author: The authorship of the Hung Lou Meng, which first appeared 
in 1791, was for a long time unknown. As late as 1921 Dr. Hu Shih's 
exhaustive research made it possible to ascribe the first eighty chap- 
ters of the original, which has one hundred twenty chapters, to Tsao 
Hsueh Chin, and the remaining forty chapters to Kao Ngoh, one of the 
two editors of the first printed edition published in 1791. This dual 
authorship seems to indicate that Tsao Hsueh Chin probably left more 
than eighty chapters and that Kao Ngoh edited, expanded, and cor- 
related the remaining forty chapters. 

The versions on which the present text is based are an edition of 
1832 published by the Tsui Wen Company, and a modern annotated 
version with commentary published by Commercial Press, Shanghai. 

Title: Chinese architecture provides for the mass of the population 
low, one-story buildings. A mansion with a second story is called lou 
and Hung Lou stands for "Red Two-Story Building." According to 
Buddhist usage, it is also a metaphor for such_concepts as worldly 
glory, luxury, wealth, and honors similar to the Buddhist interpreta- 
tion of "red dust" as "worldly strivings," "the material world." 

Period: The text does not mention any particular date. However, there 
are implicit indications that the action takes place during the Chinp 
Dynasty (1644-1912). Official titles and ranks correspond to those o 
the last dynasty, and Manchuria could be referred to as a provinc 
only since the Ching Dynasty. According to the findings of Dr. Hi 
Shih, the author Tsao Hsueh Chin wrote about contemporary event, 
and his own experiences. Internal evidence indicates that the mail 
narrative covers the period between 1729_and 1737. 

Place: The text speaks alternately of the capital and Chin ling. Th<: 
capital under the Ching Dynasty was Peking. Chin ling, which means 
"golden tombs," is probably an allusion to the well-known imperial 
burial places in the vicinity of Peking. The mountains outside the city 
gates, where the Prince Hermit lives in seclusion, suggest the famous 
western mountains near Peking, with their splendid temples. 



The Hung Lou Meng has been described to the Westerner as a for- 
bidding literary monument with hundreds of characters. Only one 



European before myself, Bancroft Joly, an English consul in China, 
ha.i dared to approach the task of translation. However, he did not 
even reach the halfway point of the original. His two-volume transla- 
tion, Dream of the Red Chamber, was published by Kelly and Walsh in 
Hong Kong in 1892-93. 

Another more recent attempt to make the Hung Lou Meng ac- 
cessible to the Western mind came from the Chinese side, Chi Chen 
Wang's translation and adaptation, Dream of the Red Chamber 
(George Routledge & Sons Ltd., London, no date). But Mr. Wang's 
work covers barely one-fourth of my version and, particularly in its 
later part, is more in the nature of an abstract than a translation. He 
eliminates a great many details of compelling interest to the Western 
reader, and also a number of incidents essential to the logical develop- 
ment of the story, for instance, the entire magnificent dream vision 
toward the end of the book (Chapter 49 in the present version), which 
is one of the literary peaks of the novel and quite indispensable to it. 

My translation into the German, on which the present English trans- 
lation is based, presents about five-sixths of the original. It is intended 
not so much for a restricted scholarly audience as for the general 
reader interested in Chinese literature. Though my translation is not 
a complete one, I may still claim to be the first Westerner to have 
made accessible the monumental structure of the Hung Lou Meng. My 
version gives a full rendering of the main narrative, which is or- 
ganized around the three figures of Pao Yu, Black Jade, and Precious 
Clasp. I have treated the secondary plots more or less comprehensively 
according to their importance, always with a view to avoiding gaps 
in the story development. There can be no doubt that sociologically 
this novel is of the greatest interest. But it can claim our attention 
equally on purely literary grounds: the narrative is compelling, the 
characters are most vividly individualized, the background is im- 
pressively and realistically drawn. 

In China the Hung Lou Meng is considered the outstanding classic 
novel of the Ching Dynasty. A considerable body of critical literature 
has grown up around it. The general assumption is that the author 
drew on his own experiences and that his hero, Pao Yu, is a self- 
portrait. Tsao Hsueh Chin was the pampered son of a rich and highly 
cultivated Mandarin family in which the lucrative office of Inspector 
of the Imperial Silk Factories in Kiangsu had been hereditary for 
generations. In spite of his great intellectual gifts, he failed at the 
Literary Examinations and was barred from office. He took refuge 
in the spheres of philosophy and letters. 

Chinese literary criticism has offered other solutions to the puzzle, 
however. A not improbable theory identifies Pao Yu with the youthful 



Emperor Chien Ling (r. 1736-1796), of whom it is said that, like Pao 
Yu, he had .V habit v,f licking the rouge off the lips of the young 
ladies of his entourage. According to this theory, Pao Yu's father, 
the stern Chia Cheng, represents Emperor Yung Cheng (r. 1723- 
1735), Chien Ling's predecessor. This theory has much to commend it. 
Among the host of characters in the novel, Chia Cheng is the pure 
type of the stern Confucian. History preserves the memory of Emperor 
Yung Cheng as that of the great Confucian on China's throne, the 
ruler of common sense and social consciousness. 



Though at first sight the Hung Lou Meng appears to be an inexpli- 
cable chaos of innumerable characters and events, on closer scrutiny 
the novel reveals itself to be a harmonious structure, well ordered, 
logical, consistent. The main characters Black Jade, of a nearly 
saintly chastity; the Princess Ancestress, earthy and motherly; Precious 
Clasp, womanly, warm, sensible; Bright Cloud and Mandarin Duck, 
touchingly loyal and devoted; Chia Cheng, stern and dutiful are ad- 
mirably drawn. But the many secondary figures also fill their positions 
solidly and have their definite functions within a carefully calculated 
plan. To - give one example among many, the seemingly gratuitous 
appearance of the old servant and grumbler at the opening of the 
novel becomes meaningful when he reappears at the end of the story 
and the reader realizes that the old warrior functions as the unwanted 
and unheeded prophet. 

The two mysterious monks that keep reappearing add an element 
of the supernatural; they are messengers from the beyond. They repre- 
sent the recurring motif of the fundamental themes of the work, which 
is undeniably Taoist. The action begins with a prologue in the 
Phantom Realm of the Great Void, the Taoist heaven; it ends with 
an epilogue in the Blessed Regions of Purified Semblance, which is 
another name for the same sphere. Four times we see characters pass 
through the gate? of the Greai Void, which, in Taoist language, means 
to renounce the world: Shih Ying, the Cold Knight, Grief of Spring, 
and finally Pao Yu, the hero himself. 

A second motif of the novel seems to me the matriarchy, eloquently 
represented by the Ancestress, who, always optimistic and ready to 
celebrate, admonishing and pacifying, holds the family together. The 
Confucian philosophy of life, of course, could not be absent from a 
Chinese novel. It appears in the person of Pao Yu's father, Chia Cheng. 

What, briefly summarized, is the core of the novel? 

From the Confucian point of view, it might be the story of the wealth 
and honor of a great and noble house and its self-destruction. The 

xv 



house is rehabilitated in the end through the intellectual and moral 
achievement of a son hitherto considered degenerate since Pao Yu 
dutifully conforms to the wishes of his parents and submits to the 
ordeal of the examinations. 

From the Buddhist and Taoist points of view the answer might be: 
It is a story of the gradual awakening, purification, and final transcend- 
ence of a soul originally sunk in the slime of temporal and material 
strivings. 

From the Western point of view the answer might be this: It is the 
case history of a highly gifted but degenerate young aristocrat, a 
psychopath and a weakling, asocial, effeminate, plagued by inferiority 
complexes and manic depressions, who, though capable of a temporary 
rallying of energies, founders among the demands of reality and 
slinks cravenly away from human society. 

The last stage of Pao Yu's development, his change into a spirit, 
goes beyond the comprehension of the Western mind. For Taoism is 
not only a theory but, above all, practical experience. 

And finally, the often-mentioned spirit stone probably symbolizes 
the innate disposition, the spiritual nature, of a man, which he may 
not betray without risking the loss of his essential self. 

The goddess Nu Kua and the 36,501 stones for the repair of the 
pillars of heaven, with which the novel starts, are mythological meta- 
phors of rather prosaic significance. Countless as stones, men inhabit 
the earth; among them Providence picks a certain number and assigns 
them to administer the State as members of the hierarchy of officials 
and to preserve the mass of the people from the threat of anarchy. 
Pao Yu was rejected as unfit for this service, but he had been touched 
by the hand of the goddess and ennobled by her touch. Laziness makes 
him wish to be an ordinary stone among stones, but a higher destiny 
frees him and he becomes conscious of his quality as "Precious Stone." 
For this reason our novel has a second title in China, Shi tou chi, 
"The Story of the Stone." 

FRANZ KUHN 



KVl 



THE CHIA FAMILY 



HEADS OF THE FAMILY 

Princess Ancestress, nee Shih, widow of Chia Tai^Shan, second Prince of 

Yungkuo. Ruler of the eastern and western palaces 

-Chia Ching (Prince Hermit), son of Chia Tai Hua, the second Prince of 
Ningkuo. Retired to a Taoist temple 

THE SENIORS 

Chia Chen (Prince Chen), son of Chia Ching; in his place master of the 

Ningkuo palace 
Chia Shieh (Prince Shieh), elder son of the Princess Ancestress; master 

of the Yungkuo palace 

Chia Cheng, younger son of the Princess Ancestress 
Princess Chen, nee Yu, wife of Prince Chen 
Princess Shieh, nee Hsin, wife of Prince Shieh 
Madame Cheng, nee Wang, wife of Chia Cheng 

TH E J UNIORS 

Chia Yung, son of Prince Chen 
Chia Lien, son of Prince Shieh 

*>Chia Pao Yu, son of Chia Cheng by his wife, Madame Cheng -<AAO i 
Chia Huan, son of Chia Cheng by his secondary wife Chao; half brother 

of Pao Yu 

Chia Lan, son of Chia Chu, the deceased son of Chia Cheng 
Mistress Yung, wife of Chia Yung, also known by her childhood name, Ko 

Ching 

Madame Phoenix, wife of Chia Lien 
Widow Chu, mother of Chia L_in 
Beginning of Spring, daughter of Chia Cheng and his wife, nee Wang; 

Bister of Pao Yu; Imperial secondary wife 
Taste of Spring, daughter of Chia Cheng by his secondary wife Chao; 

half sister of Pao Yu 

Grief of Spring, daughter of Chia Ching, the Prince Hermit 
Greeting of Spring, daughter of Prince Shieh by a secondary wife > /^ ftfr,, 

RELATIONS OF THE CHIA FAMILY 
living within the confines of the Ningkuo and Yungkuo estates 

- Black Jade (Miss Ling), daughter of Ling Ju Hai, granddaughter of the 
Princess Ancestress 



Aunt Hsueh, nee Wang, sister of Madame Cheng 
-Precious Clasp (Pao Chai) , daughter of Aunt Hsueh 
Hsueh Pan, son of Aunt Hsueh 
Mother Yu, stepsister of Princess Chen 

Second Sister Yu, elder daughter of Mother Yu; later Chia Lien's sec- 
ondary wife 
Third Sister Yu, younger daughter of Mother Yu 



PRINCIPAL WAITING MAIDS 



ANCESTRESS 

Mandarin Duck 

Amber 

Numskull 

MADAME CHENG 
Gold Ring 
Nephrite Buckle 

PHOENIX 

Little Ping 
Little Fong 
Siao Hung 



PAoYu 



Pearl 
Musk 

Bright Cloud 
Autumn Wave 



PRECIOUS CLASP 
Oriole 
Apricot 

BLACK JADE 
Cuckoo 
Snowgoose 

GREETING OF SPRING 
Orange 
Chess Maid 

GRIEF OF SPRING 

Painting Maid 



xix 



TRANSLATORS' NOTE 



To avoid confusion, male names have been transliterated, while nearly 
all female names have been freely rendered in an approximation of their 
literal meaning. 

Forms of address used throughout the book: 

Tai tai (literally "great-great" ), for the master's wife. 
Old Tai tai, for the master's mother. 
Nai nai, for the wife of the master's son. 

Mei mei (literally "younger sister, younger sister"), for younger 
sisters and young female cousins. 

The term "secondary wife" is used in preference to concubine, since 
the Western connotation of concubine does not apply to the moral and 
legal status of concubines in China, who are formally taken into the 
family. 



THE DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER 



CH*APTER 1 

Shih Ying is carried away in a dream and receives a revelation. Amidst 
the toil and welter of daily life Yu Tsun finds the maiden of his heart. 

OUR STORY BEGINS IN SUCHOW, THE STRONG CITY SITUATED IN THE 

southeastern edge of the great plain of China. Beyond the Emperor's 
Gate, which leads into the quarter of the rich and aristocratic, the 
region of comfortable living and "red dust," stretched the "Ten Mile 
Street." In a narrow bottleneck of that street, close by an old temple 
familiarly known as the "Temple of the Gourd," lived the respected citi- 
zen Shih Ying with his good and virtuous wife, nee Feng. 

Shih Ying was one of the most respected, if not the most aristocratic, 
people in his suburb. Being the fortunate possessor of a nice country 
estate, he was able to live a life of leisure. He was not a lover of honors 
or riches and was quite happy just tending his flowers, cultivating bam- 
boo, or reciting poetry over a glass of good wine. In short, he lived an 
idyllic and unworldly life. Only one thing was lacking to his complete 
happiness: he was already past fifty and had no little son to rock on 
his knee. Fate had granted him only a little daughter, now three years 
old, named Lotus. 

On one of those seemingly endless summer days he was poring over 
his books in the library. Overcome with the heat, his head had sunk 
down and his forehead lay against the edge of the table. As he dropped 
off to sleep he seemed to be wandering through an unknown dream- 
land. While he was walking two priests joined him on his way and 
went along beside him. One of them was a Taoist, the other a servant 
of Buddha. He heard the first saying to the second: "Why did you take 
the stone with you?" 

The bonze replied: "In order to intervene in a love drama which by 
the will of fate is about to be enacted in the earthly world. The hero of 
the drama has not yet experienced his earthly reincarnation. I wish to 
take the opportunity of sending the stone into the world to enable the 
hero to play his role in that drama." 

"And where does the drama begin?" 

"That is a strange story. In the distant west, on the shores of the 
River of the Spirits, where stands the boundary stone of the three ex- 
istences, the plant Purple Pearl once grew. At that time our stone was 
still living a restless, wandering life. The goddess Nu Kua, whose task 
it was to repair the damaged posts of the gate of heaven, had finally re- 
jected it as unfit, because of its composition, out of the 36,501 stones 



which she had set aside for her purpose. By contact with her divine 
hand it had become possessed of a soul, hence it could change its loca- 
tion whenever it pleased, and make itself larger or smaller. It felt pain- 
fully conscious day ancr night of the humiliation which it had suffered 
in being rejected by the goddess as unsuitable. 

"In the course of its wanderings it came one day to the palace of the 
Fairy of Fearful Awakening. The fairy, who knew its higher destiny, 
took it into her household staff and gave it the title of 'Guardian of the 
Radiance of the Stone of the Gods' in the Palace of the Red Clouds. 
But it simply could not settle down and give up its wandering life. 

"It used to steal away frequently from its duties in the palace and go 
off to the shores of the River of the Spirits. There, one day, it discov- 
ered the 'plant, Purple Pearl. It became very fond of Purple Pearl and 
to show its affection used to sprinkle it daily with fragrant dew. Thus it 
saved the delicate plant from f . ding away too soon. Thanks to the be- 
neficent refreshment with fragrant dew, through which it drank in the 
finest powers of the mutual relations between heaven and earth, it was 
enabled later to drop its earthly form of plant and take human shape. 
The delicate plant turned into a young girl. 

"An invincible longing often drove this young girl beyond the calm 
'Sphere of Banished Suffering.' When she was hungry she loved to eat 
of the 'Tree of Secret Love Fruits.' When she was thirsty she loved best 
to sip from the 'Source of Drenching Grief.' Again and again she re- 
membered how in the past, when she was a frail plant, someone used 
to water her with sweet dew, and her longing to requite that kindly 
deed never left her. I cannot repay him by doing the same for him, she 
used often to think to herself. But if it should be granted me, in my next 
existence, to meet him as a fellow being on earth, then I hope I shall 
thank him with as many tears as I can shed in a whole long life. 

"That, then, is the prehistory of the love drama which by the will of 
Providence is now about to be enacted upon earth. Those taking part, 
among them the plant Purple Pearl, are already preparing to step 
down upon the earthly stage. Therefore let us hasten to take back our 
stone to its mistress,- the Fairy of Fearful Awakening, so that she can 
enter it in the list of those taking part in that drama, and send it to 
join the other players." 

"Very strange indeed," remarked the Taoist. "To repay a debt of 
gratitude with tears is definitely something new. The story seems to me 
to be sufficiently worthwhile to induce us too to step down into the 
dust of the earth. Perhaps we may succeed thereby in effecting the re- 
demption of some erring souls. This would indeed be a meritorious 
work." 

"That is certainly my opinion too. I therefore propose that we first 



of all deliver our foundling, the stone, to the Fairy of Fearful Awaken- 
ing, and later descend ourselves also, when all the actors in this drama 
of misfortune are already met together down below. Up to the present 
only half of them are gathered there." 

"Good. Let us be off, then, to the Palace of the Red Clouds." 
The sleeper Shih Ying had followed every word of their con^yersa- 
tion. He now stepped ahead of the two, who were walking besidye him, 
saluted them with a bow, and addressed them as follows: "Reverend 
Masters, this simple fellow was an accidental listener to your strange 
conversation. He did not understand its full meaning. If you would 
favor him with a more detailed explanation of it, he would listen most 
devoutly and respectfully. He would very much like to profit in some 
small measure from your wisdom, and so not sink into the vortex of 
foolishness." 

"It is not permitted to us to speak in advance of matters concerning 
destiny," was the reply. "When the time comes, think of us. If you do 
so you will escape the fiery pit of perdition." 

"May I not at least see the object of your conversation?" 
"That is permitted to you, by the will of Providence," said the bonze, 
passing him the desired object. Shih Ying took it in his hand and 
looked at it. It was a lovely jade stone with a fresh, pale radiance. On 
the upper surface were engraved the four ideographs tung ling pao-yu, 
"Stone of penetrating spiritual power." The bottom surface too showed 
a series of small written characters. Shih Ying was about to decipher 
them when the bonze took the stone out of his hand again, saying: "We 
have arrived at the Realm of Illusion," and strode on ahead with the 
Taoist. Shih Ying saw them walking in through a high stone archway, 
over which stood the words in big letters: "Phantom Realm of the 
Great Void." On the two pillars of the arch he read the couplet: 

When seeming is taken for being, being becomes seeming, 
Where nothing is taken for something, something becomes nothing. 

He was about to hurry after the two men when a frightful clap of 
thunder resounded in his ears. It seemed- as if the earth were about to 
collapse. With a loud cry he woke up. He opened his eyes and blinked 
at the glowing orb of the evening sun, which was blazing slantwise 
through the banana leaves. Already he had half forgotten his vision. 

The nurse appeared on the threshold with little Lotus in her arms. 
Shih Ying took the child from her, pressed it tenderly as a jewel to his 
bosom, and dandled it and played with it for a while. Then he took it 
with him outside the hall door, and stood there looking at the noisy 
throng in the street. He was just about to go back into the house when 



two men in priestly attire passed by one a servant of Buddha, the 
other a disciple of Lao Tzu. The bonze was barefooted. His shorn head 
was full of scurf and scratches. The Taoist was lame in one foot; the 
hair of his bare head hung about in an uncombed tangle. Along they 
came gesticulating wildly and laughing like a pair of madmen. They 
stopped in front of Shih Ying's threshold and remained a moment 
staring at him and the child. Then the bonze suddenly began to sigh 
loudly, and he said to Shih Ying: "Sir, what ill-fated creature is that 
you hold in your arms? It will bring nothing but sorrow to its parents!" 

Shih Ying thought the man was mad, so he took no notice of his 
talk. But the bonze continued to address him with great emphasis. 
"Give it to me! Give it to me!" he urged, pointing to the child in his 
arms. 

This was too much for Shih Ying. He pressed the baby more firmly 
to his breast, and was already turning to go away, when the bonze 
broke into a shrill peal of laughter and called out after him: 

"A fool dotes; 
Tender blossoms 
Are cut by the frost. 
Take care 
at New Year, 
Fire and flame." 

Shih Ying hung back. He would have very much liked to have the 
mysterious rhyme explained to him. But he heard the Taoist priest say 
to the bonze: "From now on our paths divide. We shall work apart. 
After three aeons 1 shall await you in the well-known cemetery on the 
Pei Mang Hill near Lo yang. We shall then go back together to the 
Phantom Realm of the Great Void and have the affair of the stone ob- 
literated from the register." 

"Good," Shih Ying heard the bonze reply, whereupon the two sud- 
denly disappeared. Shih Ying was still in a dazed and stupefied state, 
thinking over the strange incident, when he saw his good friend and 
neighbor Chia Yu Tsun coming towards the house. Yu Tsun was a poor 
young student who lodged near by in the Temple of the Gourd. He was 
the son of an official in Huchow, who had died early, leaving his family 
in poor circumstances. A year ago he had set out to make his way to the 
capital, intending to enter for the great public examinations and win 
fame and success. He had only got as far as Suchow, however, when his 
money ran out. So he had foun.d temporary refuge and lodging in a 
monk's cell in the Temple of the Gourd. Here hte continued his studies 
industriously, at the same time earning his board and keep by writing 
for the unlettered. In this way he had made the acquaintance of Shih 
Ying, and was soon on terms of friendship with him. For Shih Ying had 



a great regard for the art of letters, and he took a keen delight in 
the profound and genuine culture of the brilliant young scholar. 

Yu Tsun now approached with a polite bow saying: "I see that you 
are leaning against the doorpost and craning your neck. No doubt you 
are looking out for any novel happenings in the town?" 

"That is not it," replied Shih Ying, "but the child was restless, and 
I tried to distract her a bit by taking her to the door with me. My 
worthy brother has come just at the right time. Let us go in and shorten 
the endless day with pleasant conversation." 

He gave the child to the nurse and showed his visitor into the library. 
They had barely had time to drink a bowl of tea and exchange four or 
five sentences when the host was called away to another visitor in the 
outer room. Shih Ying asked his friend to remain but to excuse him for 
a few minutes. So Yu Tsun stayed and passed the time of waiting rum- 
maging and searching out old books from among the volumes in the 
library. While he was thus engaged he suddenly heard, through the 
window, the clear tones of a feminine voice. He laid the old books aside, 
slipped over to the window, and leaned out. Not far from the window 
he saw a young girl bent down between the flower beds. She was pick- 
ing flowers and humming a song as she did so. She was not exactly 
ten-tenths_beautiful, nevertheless she was quite uncommonly charming. 
At any rate, Yu Tsun remained at the window, staring steadily out at 
her. Then, chancing to look up, she also caught sight of him. 

He is poorly clothed, it is true, but stately in form and appearance, 
she thought to herself as she turned away hastily. What handsome 
features he's got, and what expressive eyes! He must surely be the 
scholar Yu Tsun, the friend of whom my master speaks so much, and 
whom he is so anxious to help whenever he has a chance. Yes, it must 
be he, because all the other people who frequent our house are of the 
well-to-do classes. But one has only to see him to understand why our 
master always believes that he will not have to go about much longer in 
such old and torn clothes. She could not resist looking back once more 
at the window. Then she disappeared farther into the garden. 

Yu Tsun was immense'y pleased at having obviously made an im- 
pression on her despite his shabby appearance. That girl is hoth wise 
and observant, he said to himself, and she can perceive the higher 
value of a person like myself despite unfavorable circumstances. 

Moved by these thoughts, he strode meditatively through the garden 
and out into a street by a side door. For the guest was remaining to din- 
ner, as a servant had informed him, and so it would be too long for 
him to wait. He could not forget the little incident of the pretty girl in 
the garden who had turned round twice to look at him. 

On the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival, after the usual family 



meal was over, his patron went round to invite him to drink a friendly 
glass of wine alone with him in his library. Yu Tsun was sitting by him- 
self in his monastery cell in a melancholy mood. Contemplation of the 
harvest moon had inspired him to write a poem of eight lines in which 
he had described in cryptic words his recent experience and revealed 
the secret wishes which it had awakened. The thought that an unkind 
fate would deny him the fulfillment of his desires made him sigh deeply, 
look up full of sorrow at the moon, and bring forth the following addi- 
tional lines: 

In darkness languishes the precious stone. 

When will its excellence enchant the world? 

The precious clasp hidden away 

Longs for wings to fly to the bride. 

While he was repeating these lines over to himself in came Shih 
Ying. 

"It seems to me that my worthy brother makes high demands of life 
and considers himself much above the common herd," he remarked 
with a smile. 

"Oh, I was not referring to myself," replied Yu Tsun, embarrassed. 
" T hat's an old poem. It just occurred to me by chance. You flatter me 
m thinking it mine." 

Shih Ying gave his invitation and took Yu Tsun back with him to his 
library. He drank his health gaily and encouraged him to help himself 
from the many dishes of dainties which he kept on tirelessly ordering 
for him. Thus it happened that Yu Tsun, accustomed as he was to the 
spare diet of a monk, fell more and more into that mood of exhilara- 
tion in which the mouth expresses the things which move the heart. 
The pleasant sound of strings and flutes and merry songs drifted in 
from the street and from the neighboring houses. Up in the heavens 
hung the shining white orb of the full moon. In a trice Yu Tsun had 
improvised a quatrain in praise of the harvest moon. 

"Magnificent! Divine!" cried his host, enthusiastically. "Once more 
my worthy brother has given a proof of his poetic ability. I have always 
said that you would not wade for long in the slough of dejection. Soon 
you will be floating upon the clouds. I congratulate you in advance. Do 
me the honor to drink!" 

And he reached him another beaker of wine filled with his own hand. 

Yu Tsun emptied the beaker. Then he took a deep breath and said: 
"Pray do not think that it is the wine which has inspired your humble 
younger brother with daring words. I am confident that I shall be able 
to pass the examination and have my name written in the list of the 
chosen. But of what avail is all my ability if my travelling trunk is 
empty? The road to Peking is a long one. If some good souls do not 

8 



help me, I fear I shall not make it with the little I earn as a scrivener." 

"Why has my worthy brother not spoken of this sooner?" his host 
interrupted quickly. "I have been thinking of this matter for some time 
past, but I did not trust myself to broach it. Now, however, I can make 
up for lost time. True, I am not a highly educated man; nevertheless I 
know what is seemly between friends. Next spring, after an interval 
of three years, a State examination is to be held again. My worthy 
brother must on no account miss this opportunity and he must therefore 
set out for the capital as soon as possible in order there to prove his 
abilities. I shall bear the cost of the journey and of everything else 
that is necessary. My worthy brother shall at least not have squandered 
his friendship in vain upon an unworthy person." 

He whispered an order to one of his servants. The man disappeared 
and came back straight away to lay before his master's protege a 
moneybag containing fifty shining ounce pieces, and two beautiful 
quilted winter coats. Meantime the master of the house had been look- 
ing through the calendar. 

"The nineteenth is a favorable day for setting out on a journey," he 
continued. "My worthy brother should take timely steps to secure a 
hired boat for that day. And perhaps, when the year is over, I shall 
once more have the honor of basking in the radiance of your presence, 
after the wings of your talents have carried you up to giddy heights. 
That would indeed be a day of high festival for me." 

Yu Tsun was so exhilarated by the wine that he only mumbled a few 
banal words of thanks before settling down once more to easy and 
loquacious chatting and drinking. Not until far into the night, about 
the time of the third drum roll, did the friends take leave of each other. 

The next morning Shih Ying remembered that he had also intended 
to give his protege letters of introduction to two civil servants whom 
he knew in the capital. He therefore sent a servant over to the Temple 
of the Gourd to ask Yu Tsun to come over once more to receive these 
letters of recommendation. But on returning, the servant reported that 
Yu Tsun had set out very early that morning. He had left with one of 
the temple bonzes a farewell greeting for his patron and a further mes- 
sage to the effect that people of education like himself were in the habit 
of considering only the matter in hand and were not influenced by 
superstitious directions in the calendar. And that was that, whether 
Shih Ying liked it or not. 

Light and shadow change swiftly. The first full moon of the New 
Year, the time of the Lantern Festival, had come around again unper- 
ceived. In the evening Shih Ying had sent a servant to take his little 
daughter outside the hall door so that she might enjoy the sight of the 



gay lanterns and the merry fireworks the "spirit fires." The servant 
had gone right into the throng of the Ten Mile Street. He found so 
many fascinating sights and sounds there that he was completely spell- 
bound and could not tear himself away. But needing a moment's 
privacy, he thoughtlessly left the child in his charge sitting on a stone 
parapet in front of a strange house while he disappeared round the 
nearest corner. When he came back the little girl was gone. He searched 
the streets and lanes for her all night, but in vain. The next morning, 
being too much aft aid of punishment to return to his master's house, 
he fled from the town and ran back to his native village. 

Shih Ying, in desperation, sent his whole household out to search 
for the lost child, but without success. Then, mourning fell upon the 
house which had formerly been such a happy one. Both parents were 
already past fifty, and could scarcely hope to have more children. Their 
sighs and lamentations did not cease, either by day or by night, and 
soon physicians and soothsayers became daily guests in the house. But 
the loss of their child was not to be their only misfortune. 

On the fifteenth day of the third month, namely, on All Souls' Day, 
a fire broke out in the Temple of the Gourd. The Brother, who was 
cooking the sacrificial foods, had carelessly allowed the flames of the 
fire to shoot out over the pan and set alight the parchment panes and 
wooden frame of the kitchen window. All the buildings round about 
had bamboo fences, and wooden walls, so the flames spread rapidly 
from the Temple of the Gourd to the neighboring house, and thence 
farther and farther from house to house. Soon all the streets around 
the temple were one single mass of flames, against which the inhabit- 
ants and the town fire brigade strove in vain. The fire raged for a whole 
night before burning itself out. Shih Ying's house too had gone down 
in ruins and ashes. The inmates had barely been able to escape with 
their lives. So what could poor Shih Ying do but bow his knees and 
utter short sighs and long ones? 

At first he and his wife went to live on their country estate. But they 
found life hardly tolerable there, for owing to drought and famine the 
whole countryside was overrun with robber bands, which fell upon 
the villages like swarms of bees. Soldiers came to drive away the rob- 
bers, but they in their turn became a scourge which made country life 
highly unpleasant. On account of all this the sorely tried Shih Ying de- 
cided to sell his land. He then went with his wife and two maids to live 
with his father-in-law, old Feng, in the safe town of Ta yu chow. Old 
Feng, who was likewise a former landowner, was fairly comfortably off. 
All the same he was not exactly overjoyed at seeing his son-in-law 
coming to seek refuge with him in such a wretched state of want. 
Happily, Shih Ying did not come empty-handed; he brought some cash 

10 



vith him the proceeds of his landed property. This he handed over 
to his father-in-law, asking him to buy a little house and a piece of 
land for him on the outskirts of the town. Old Feng did this most 
willingly, though it must be admitted that half the money disappeared 
into his own pocket. With the other half he bought a very rickety old 
cottage and a piece of worthless land. Now Shih Ying was somewhat 
spoiled by his previous life of pleasant leisure; he much preferred 
lingering over books to occupying himself with practical things such 
as tillage and harvest work. It was small wonder, then, that such tasks, 
carried out so much against his grain, were not blessed with success, 
and at the end of two years he was completely destitute. His father- 
in-law was thoroughly dissatisfied with him and blamed him for being 
lazy and soft. True, he did not say these things to his face, but he com- 
plained of him behind his back to others. Shih Ying, who got to hear 
of this indirectly, felt grieved and depressed. The disappointments 
and vicissitudes of the past few years had worn him down visibly. He 
had become an old man who had nothing more left to hope for. 

One day he was taking a leisurely stroll along the street leaning 
wearily on his stick, like an old man. Suddenly a wandering Taoist 
monk of very odd appearance, dressed in a ragged smock and wearing 
bast sandals, came limping along beside him. He could hear the monk 
murmuring: 

"Sweet world-forsaking! Precious solitude! 

Honor and fame: how little worth are these! 
The great ones of the world, when all is done, 

Are but a mound of earth, with grass thereon. 

"Sweet world-forsaking! Precious solitude! 

Riches and gold who would be fain of these? 
Our clutching hands seize them, and cannot hold: 

One day we must leave all yes, wealth and gold. 

"Sweet world-forsaking! Precious solitude! 

Do lovely women, then, ensnare your hearts? 
These swear to love one man till death doth part: 

He dieth soon another claims that love. 

"Sweet world-forsaking! Precious solitude! 

Are children, and their children, your desire? 
Loving parental hearts wear out in vain: 

The only thanks which children give is pain." 

"Your words touch my soul to its very depths, honored Master," 
said Shih Ying with a sigh to his travelling companion. "Will you allow 
me to supplement your verses with a few sentences expressing the ex- 
perience gained in the Bourse of my own wretched life?" 

"Proceed!" cried the disciple of Lao Tzu with friendly encourage- 

11 



ment. Thereupon in well-chosen and skillfully disposed words Shih 
Ying improvised a melancholy homily on the splendor of his past life, 
the misery of his present situation, and the transitory nature of all 
earthly things. 

"Splendid! You have put it all in deeply impressive words," said 
the monk admiringly, when Shih Ying's outpouring had ended. 

"I should like to go along with you," said Shih Ying simply. He took 
the heavy knapsack from the monk's shoulders, and buckled it onto his 
own. Then, without even going back to his house, he joined the strange 
holy man in his casual wandering. 

His disappearance formed the subject of conversation for some time 
in his quarter of the town. His wife almost died of shock and grief, it 
was said. When all inquiries for his whereabouts proved in vain and 
the missing man failed to return, she went back to the house of her 
parents with her two maids, and from that time on, working day and 
night with her needle, she strove to keep up the household for herself 
and her aged father. 

One day the elder of her maids was standing at the street door buy- 
ing yarn from a hawker. Suddenly she heard the yamen outriders as 
they came nearer and nearer down the street shouting: "Make way! 
Make way!" The new district Mandarin was taking up his office today, 
the people told her. Leaning back in the doorway, she watched the 
procession pass. It was a stately cortege. In front were postillions on 
horseback, then came police and yamen officials in two lines carrying 
banners and the insignia of office. In between the lines was the great 
official sedan chair with the Mandarin in his scarlet State robe seated in 
it. Behind walked more flunkies. The maid gave a start. It seemed to her 
that she had seen the handsome face of the man in the scarlet robe 
sometime somewhere before. 

When the procession had passed by she went into the house again 
and had soon forgotten the trifling incident. 

Late in the evening of that same day, just as everyone was going to 
bed, there was a sudden loud and peremptory knocking at the door of 
the Fengs' house. A troop of yamen servants were outside demanding 
to be let in. 

"The old Governor has sent us," they said in a chorus. "We have a 
load to deliver." 

Old Feng was as frightened as if a tiger stood in his path. What 
new trouble was this, in the name of heaven? If you want to know you 
must read what the next chapter has to report. 



12 



CHAPTER 2 

In Yangchow a high-born lady joins the company of the Blessed. In 
the tavern Yu Tsun learns more about his noble relatives. 

As SOON AS OLD FENG HAD RECOVERED SOMEWHAT FROM HIS SHOCK, 

he went to the door and asked the people from the yamen what they 
wanted. "A certain Shih Ying is said to live here, and we have orders to 
take him to the old Governor," came the answer. 

"My name is Feng, but my son-in-law's name is Shih Ying. He no 
longer lives in this town, however; he joined the wandering monks and 
hermits two years ago." 

"Then you must come with us instead of him," they said. And they 
took old Feng along with them and brought him to the yamen of the 
new Mandarin. 

It was late at night when old Feng returned home to his family, who 
were awaiting him anxiously. His report at once banished all their 
fears and turned their sadness into joy. 

"The new Mandarin's name is Chia, with the surname of Yu Tsun. 
He is a native of Huchow, and in former days when he lived for a time 
in Suchow he was a good friend and neighbor of my son-in-law, Shih 
Ying," recounted old Feng. "As he was passing by our house yester- 
day in the ceremonial procession, he espied our maid Apricot standing 
in the doorway. He remembered her and concluded that her former 
master, Shih Ying, must live here. He wanted to renew the old friend- 
ship, so he sent his men along. He was very much distressed when I 
told him of the sad fate of his former benefactor. He also inquired for 
my granddaughter, and deeply regretted her disappearance. He prom- 
ised me that he would have an official search made for her whereabouts. 
When I was taking leave, he gave me a present, moreover, of two 
ounces of silver." 

"Our new Mandarin is a friendly, affable gentleman!" was the 
unanimous verdict of the family. 

Early the next day messengers again arrived from the yamen. They 
brought two ingots of silver and four pieces of satin for Shih Ying's 
wife. The Mandarin sent them so the message ran as a small return 
for the kindness he had enjoyed in her husband's house. The mes- 
sengers handed old Feng a personal note as well. In it the Mandarin 
asked if he might take home the maid Apricot to be mistress of his 
side-chamber. Old Feng, who was very happy at being thus honored, 
naturally gave his consent to this. In gratitude the Mandarin sent him 
a hundred ounces of gold, and many more gifts for Shih Ying's wife, 
and the same evening he had the maid Apricot fetched in a gay little 
red sedan chair. 

13 



Lucky Apricot! Who would have thought that the two hurried glances 
which she had once bestowed upon the poor student Yu Tsun while 
plucking flowers in the garden should one day decide her fate? But 
merely being accepted into the side-chamber of the highly respected 
Mandarin Yu Tsun was by no means the end of her good luck. A year 
afterwards she bore him a little son, and when the mistress of the 
principal chamber fell ill and died soon afterwards, Apricot was raised 
to the rank of principal wife. It could well be said of her: 

In the chance look of an eye lifelong happiness. 

Here we must mention that as soon as his patron had given him 
means for the journey, Yu Tsun had gone straight off to the capital, 
without waiting for the lucky day which had been looked up for him 
in the calendar. There he passed his examination brilliantly and gained 
the third highest doctorate, chin shih, which procured him acceptance 
into the "hall of silk-blossoming talent" and entrance to public office. 
He was assigned to provincial government and appointed District 
Mandarin of Ta yu chow. Unfortunately, he prejudiced his career by 
certain faults- of character. Consciousness of his unusual ability led him 
to show a lamentable lack of respect towards his colleagues and su- 
periors and of consideration towards the common people. He thus made 
himself equally unpopular with both his superiors and his subordinates. 
After scarcely two years in office, he found himself denounced at Court. 
He was accused of having arbitrarily abolished old traditional rites and 
national customs; of hiding, under the mask of correctness, a wolfish 
and tigerish disposition; of fomenting disorder in his area of jurisdic- 
tion and making life unbearable for the population. Thus ran the letter 
of censure which his Provincial Governor submitted at Court. 

The dragon face of the Son of Heaven darkened, and the Imperial 
hand wrote on the margin of the letter of complaint an angry decree 
relieving the accused official of his post, to the joy of his jealous col- 
leagues. 

Yu Tsun bore the blow with philosophic resignation. In the past two 
years he had saved enough from his salary to enable him to live a care- 
free private life for some time. Having duly handed over office to his 
successor, he gave up his house, sent his wife and servants, well pro- 
vided with money, back to their families for the time being, and set 
out on a great roaming tour of the country. Free of all responsibility 
and care, with no other hindrance than "the wind on his shoulders, the 
moonlight in his sleeves," he wished to be free for once and to travel 
about for a time just wherever he wanted to, learning to know the 
country and the people. 

In the course of his travels he came one day to the capital of the im- 

14 



portant salt-mining district of Yangchow. He learned that a certain 
Ling Ju Hai was the newly appointed Royal Treasurer of the salt mines 
there. The family of this Ling had basked in the Imperial favor from 
ancient times and had been raised five generations ago to the second 
class of nobility. According to the letters patent the title was to have 
descended only to the third generation, but v by special Imperial favor 
it had been extended to the present Lings, father and son, thus carry- 
ing it down to the fifth generation. Besides their exterior nobility the 
family Ling were also endowed with the j ancient inherited fragrance 
of a highly developed culture and education, and our Ling too was 
not only the son of his fathers but, by his own attainments and a bril- 
liant career, had proved himself worthy of them. 

He was in his fifties and was the last of his line, for apart from a 
little son of three who had died recently, fate had not granted him 
any male descendant despite the many concubines who filled his side- 
chambers. Only a little daughter, the delicate, precocious Tai Yu, 
Black Jade, had been presented to him by his principal wife, nee Chia. 
Black Jade, as an only child, was tended with exaggerated love and 
care, and being intelligent and quick-witted, was educated with the ut- 
most care, just as if she were to replace the son who was unfortunately 
lacking. 

Precisely at the time when Yu Tsun came to Yangchow Mr. Ling 
was looking for a clever tutor for his little daughter. After all his wan- 
derings, Yu Tsun, on his side, felt a wish to follow for a change a regu- 
lar occupation which would enable him, moreover, to replenish his ex- 
hausted funds. He found the suitable sponsors in two former fellow 
students whom he met by chance in his lodgings and who were well 
acquainted with the treasurer of the salt mines, and thanks to their 
recommendations he received the post of tutor in the Ling household. 

His position was not particularly arduous and left him plenty of 
free time, for his pupil was a tender creature who, owing to frequent 
indispositions, could study only very irregularly. Two young waiting 
maids always kept her company during her lessons. 

He had thus passed two years in his quiet and pleasant post when 
the mother of his pupil fell ill and died. The good child had dedicated 
herself with such touching devotion to nursing her sick mother, and 
after the mother's death had fulfilled the many elaborate mourning 
conventions so exactly, that her already delicate health suffered seri- 
ously and the lessons had to be stopped for a long time. During this 
period Yu Tsun was left to himself a great deal, and when the weather 
was fine he availed of his leisure to make frequent excursion? into the 
surrounding countryside. 

On one of these excursions he had visited an old temple hidden in 

15 



a copse outside the town, and then had found a village inn near by where 
he went to refresh himself with a glass of wine. In the tavern he un- 
expectedly met an old acquaintance from the capital. He was the curio 
and antique dealer Leng, with whom he had become friendly when he 
had stayed in Chinling for the State examination. He esteemed Leng as 
a practical businessman, and Leng esteemed him as a man of knowl- 
edge and culture. Leng was on his way back from his native place, 
where he had celebrated the New Year, and had broken the journey 
at Yangchow, where he was staying with a business friend for a few 
days. Just by chance he too had made a trip into the country that day. 
After the unexpected meeting had been duly celebrated with drinks, a 
mutual exchange of news started. 

"Any news from the capital?" asked Yu Tsun. 

"Nothing of importance to you except perhaps that the circum- 
stances of your noble relations are beginning to chanpe." 

"I do ndt know what noble relations you mean." 

"I mean two princely houses who, like you, bear the family name 
of Chia and therefore are of your clan; and I do not think you need 
deny this relationship." 

"Ah, you must mean the two houses of Ningkuo and Yungkuo?" 

"Yes, exactly." 

"You are right. We are in the same genealogical table. But since the 
Han . dynasty the Chia clan has spread all over the provinces and so 
one can no longer identify all the branches of the family. Besides, such 
a great social difference separates the illustrious houses of Ningkuo and 
Yungkuo from my humble person that it would be most impertinent on 
my part to claim their relationship." 

"I am not so sure of that. Recently the two families of Ningkuo and 
Yungkuo have been going down seriously; the former splendor is be- 
ginning to diminish." 

"I can scarcely credit that. Last year, when I was travelling through 
Chinling, and passed along the street of which one entire side is occu- 
pied to the east by the Ningkuo palace and to the west by the Yungkuo 
palace, I got an impression of the utmost splendor and greatness. Cer- 
tainly, there was not much going and coming at the gates, but inside 
those great halls and single-story pavilions everything was still in per- 
fect condition and undiminished splendor. And behind them that mag- 
nificent park, with .its cliffs and crags and fishponds and exotic plants 
- no, that did not look in the least like decay and decline." 

"Now, Doctor Know-Ail, how can one judge just by the outside? 
The centipede goes on wriggling when he's already dead. Naturally, in 
spite of everything, the two houses are still more splendid and imposing 
today than the average aristocratic home. But the difficulty of feeding 

16 



so many mouths and of maintaining such a large and expensive house- 
hold in a manner becoming its rank is continually increasing. Such an 
establishment needs to be wisely financed, and that is what has gone 
wrong in recent times. But still more serious is the fact that the former 
ability of the family is diminishing in the younger generation." 

"What? Is the education of the younger generation proving at fault 
in that house of ancient hereditary culture? I can hardly believe it. But 
I must confess that I am not well informed about all the circumstances. 
Perhaps you will have the kindness to enlighten me?" 

"With pleasure. It is now five generations since the family of Chia 
was raised to princely rank. It was two blood brothers who first bore 
the princely title as a reward for their splendid services to the Throne, 
the elder as Ningkuo Kung, Prince of the Honor of the Throne, the 
younger as Yungkuo Kung, Prince of the Peace of the Throne. The 
decline of the family had already begun with the grandson of the 
former. He fell a victim to the folly of the Taoist heresy, devoted him- 
self to alchemy, and thought of nothing else but brewing elixirs of life 
and baking vermilion pills. He lives as a hermit in the mountains in 
front of the capital and allows his son Chen to hold the title in his 
place. This Prince Chen, who has got a sixteen-year-old son, is there- 
fore the present ruler of the Ningkuo palace. But unfortunately he does 
not rule worthily, for through his father's fault he was deprived of a 
sensible upbringing. He lives for his humors and pleasures, and un- 
happily there is no one who dares to tell him the truth. In short, every- 
thing is going to rack and ruin in the palace of Ningkuo. 

"In the palace of Yungkuo matters are somewhat better. There the 
Princess Ancestress, widow of the second Prince of Yungkuo, is the 
ruler. She belongs to the noble family of Shih, from the Chinling 
neighborhood. The elder of her two sons, Shieh by name, the present 
holder of the princely title, is a friendly, somewhat phlegmatic gentle- 
man, who likes a quiet life and does not trouble too much about the 
management of the estate. 

"The younger son, Cheng, on the other hand, possesses outstanding > 
gifts of mind and character. He is really worthy of his illustrious pro- 
genitor and had always been his favorite. At the wish of his grand- 
father and also following his own bent, he received a sound and 
thorough training for the civil service. Through special Imperial favor 
he was exempted from the third State examination and is now an as- 
sistant in one of the ministries. 

"There are two strange incidents worthy of mention regarding the 
family of this Chia Cheng. The first of his four daughters, namely a 
child of his principal wife, one of the Wang family, was, strange to say, 
born on the first day of the first month. But here is something still more 

17 



curious: A year later Madame Cheng gave birth to a son, who came into 
the world with an opalescent, crystal-bright jade stone in his mouth! 
And this stone, moreover, showed distinct traces of an inscription! The 
son was therefore named Pao Yu or 'Precious Stone.' Have you ever 
heard of anything more extraordinary?" 

"I must confess I never have. Presumably this phenomenon points 
to a remarkable future." 

"That is the general opinion, and the boy is in fact the avowed 
favorite of the Princess Ancestress. But just listen! According to an- 
cient custom they placed a whole lot of toys near the child on his first 
birthday, in order to ascertain his gifts and his future aptitudes from 
the choice which he would make. And what do you think the child 
clutched at? Not at any boy's toy, mind you. Instead, he reached for 
the cosmetics and powder boxes, bangles and hair ornaments ! His father 
was not exactly pleased with this choice and expressed the opinion that 
the boy was unlikely to grow up manly and would probably be a weak- 
ling and a dandy, and since then he has not been able to stand him. 
Of course, because of this his grandmother spoils him all the more. 
Now, at twelve years of age, he is a very wayward but intelligent and 
precocious boy. Many astonishing utterances have already come from 
his childish mouth. He said once, for instance, that it seemed to him 
that females were made of water while males were made of clay; for in 
feminine society he always felt revived and refreshed, whereas in male 
society he felt dull and depressed. Now, what do you think of this ex- 
traordinary pronouncement? Wouldn't you say he is possessed by the 
demon of lustfulness?" 

"I do not know; perhaps he is misjudged," said Yu Tsun thought- 
fully. "It may be an inherited disposition, and if so, how can the boy 
help it? I have come across a similar case myself. During my two 
years' wandering around I happened to be tutor for some time to the 
son of a Nanking family. When he had his lessons alone he was a diffi- 
cult and insufferably inattentive pupil, with whom one could do abso- 
lutely nothing. He always declared that in -order to be able to learn 
and to concentrate, he needed girls near him; and, in fact, in the pres- 
ence of his young cousins, who lived in the same house, he was quite a 
different person. He would then be the best-mannered, gentlest, most 
well-behaved boy one could imagine. The mere word 'girl' seemed to 
excite an almost holy reverence in him. 'Before you utter the word 
"girl" with your filthy mouth, kindly rinse it out with pure water and 
perfumed tea, or else I will break your teeth and poke out your eyes!' 
he used to warn his household servants and valets. When his father 
thrashed him he used to cry out: 'Chieh chieh!' and l Mei mei/' 
'Sister! Little sister!' When his cousins laughed at him because he was 

18 



not ashamed to cry like a girl when he suffered pain, he explained to 
them that the mere words chieh chieh and mei mei were a magic formula 
to him which made him forget the most terrible pain. What do you 
think of this strange case?" 

"It is very similar to what I have told you about our Pao Yu. In the 
palace of Yungkuo too there is no lack of the indispensable chieh chieh 
and mei mei. Pao Yu has no less than three 'sisters' around him. The 
fourth and eldest, who was given the name of Beginning of Spring be- 
cause, as I already mentioned, she was born on the first day of the first 
month, no longer lives at home. As she is remarkably beautiful and 
gifted, she was deemed worthy of being accepted into the Imperial 
Palace for attendance on the Empress. The next in age is a daughter 
of Prince Shieh arid is called Greeting of Spring. The third sister, again, 
is a child of Cheng by another wife. She is called Taste of Spring. The 
fourth in age is a sister of Prince Chen of the Ningkuo palace and is 
called Grief of Spring. The Princess Ancestress loves to have these 
three grandchildren around her. They are usually together, learn their 
lessons together, and are in every way virtuous and well-behaved young 
girls." 

"How, exactly, was the late wife of my present employer, Mr. Ling, 
related to the families of Ningkuo and Yungkuo?" 

"She was a sister of the brothers Shieh and Cheng of the Yungkuo 
branch of the family." 

"It is a pity she died; she was a most noble lady. And her daughter, 
my pupil, is in no way inferior to her. The poor child has taken the 
early death of her mother terribly to heart. Has Prince Shieh also got 
sons?" 

"He has two, and the younger of them, twenty-year-old Lien, is de- 
serving of mention. True, he has bought the rank of a subprefect, but 
he avoids books and any official activity as much as possible, and has 
more of a head for business matters. He has been married for the past 
two years to the beautiful and clever niece of Chia Cheng's wife, one 
of the Wang family, and he helps his uncle Cheng to manage the 
Yungkuo estate. But as a matter of fact his energetic wife, who enjoys 
the greatest respect and admiration, takes a far greater part in the man- 
agement than he." 

"Thank you for all this friendly information. I am now adequately 
enlightened on the subject of my noble relatives. It seems to me that 
many influences, both good and bad, are combined in the family." 

"Whether good or bad, what does it matter to us outsiders? Let us 
have another drink!" 

A few more glasses were emptied, and then they set off for home. 
Dusk was falling and they had to hurry to be in time before the city 

19 



gates shut. On the way a man came running after them, beckoning and 
shouting from quite a distance: "Congratulations, brother Yu Tsun! 
Congratulations! I have been running after you half the day to bring 
you good news." 

If you want to know who this person was and what good news he 
had to bring, you must listen to the next chapter. 



CHAPTER 3 

Mr. Ling gives his guest from the West an introduction to the Yungkuo 
palace. The Princess Ancestress takes a motherless child lovingly into 

her home. 

I U TSUN STOOD AND LOOKED BEHIND. THE PERSON WHO HAD BECKONED 

and called out to him from far off was a former fellow student who, like 
himself, had been dismissed from a government post some time ago 
and since then had been living in his native town, Yangchow. 

"There's good news for you and for me!" he said to Yu Tsun, beam- 
ing with joy. "An Imperial edict has just been issued graciously per- 
mitting us to resume office. Now it is a matter of stirring ourselves 
and looking around for patronage." 

After mutual congratulations the two friends parted, each making 
for his own dwelling. 

"He is right; you must look around for patronage," said Leng to Yu 
Tsun. "What about asking Mr. Ling to use his influence for you at the 
Yungkuo palace?" 

Yu Tsun acted on' his advice. But first of all he procured the latest 
edition of the State newspaper, and in fact he found in it the edict an- 
nouncing his rehabilitation. 

The next day he presented himself before Mr. Ling and put his re- 
quest to him. 

"What a strange and favorable coincidence!" cried Mr. Ling. "Just 
by chance, and before you made this request of me, I had already 
written a letter of introduction for you to my brother-in-law Cheng, of 
the Yungkuo palace. It happens that my mother-in law, the Princess 
Ancestress, wishes to take my motherless child into her home. She has 
already sent two boats with attendants co fetch the girl, but the de- 
parture has been delayed on account of her indisposition. Now, how- 
ever, she is sufficiently recovered to make the journey. I was availing 
of this opportunity to give her a letter of introduction for you to my 
brother-in-law Cheng, as I wished in this way to repay you in some 
measure for the good services which you have rendered my house. 

20 



Would it not be doubly advantageous, since you are going to the capi- 
tal in any case, if you accompanied my daughter and introduced your- 
self personally to my brother-in-law?" 

Yu Tsun bowed politely and with many earnest words of thanks as- 
sured Mr. Ling that he would carry out the commission with pleasure. 

"May I ask what is the rank of your brother-in-law?" he added.."! 
fear that it might appear presumptuous if a man of my rough manners 
were to venture into such an illustrious presence." 

"Now, now, no exaggerated modesty, please!" said the Count, smil- 
ing. "After all, you belong to the same clan. Actually, I have two 
brothers-in-law in the Yungkuo palace. The elder one, Prince Shieh, 
holds the title of a marshal of the first rank. The-younger, Cheng, is an 
assistant in the Ministry of Public Works. He is a man of simplicity 
and generosity, and possesses a great deal of the 'breath' and stature 
of his great ancestor. There is no haughtiness or aristocratic pride in 
him. You can approach him without hesitation and with absolute confi- 
dence. As regards the expenses necessary for your advancement, I have 
arranged for these too in the letter. Moreover, I have fixed the date of 
departure as the second day of next month." 

Accordingly, on that day Black Jade embarked on one boat with the 
female servants while Yu Tsun followed her in the other with the male 
staff. There had been some tears and some fatherly admonitions before 
the little one would consent to going. 

"I am already past fifty and do not intend to marry again," the Count 
had said to his young daughter. "Here at home you are deprived of the 
advice and guidance of a mother and the merry company of sisters. 
You will find both in the home of your grandmother. I am doing this 
for your good." 

After several days' travelling they arrived in the capital. Yu Tsun 
put on his best coat, made his way to the Yungkuo palace, and handed 
in his visiting card. Chia Cheng was already expecting his visit, be- 
cause the letter of introduction had been sent on in advance, and he 
received Yu Tsun at once. He found his visitor to be a man of stately 
and prepossessing appearance and extremely well spoken just the type 
of man of culture and knowledge, as well as refined bearing, whom he 
greatly esteemed. And as he, following the tradition of his illustrious 
forefather, liked to assist the weak and oppressed, he did not hesitate 
to appeal to the Sovereign in Yu Tsun's favor, with the result that within 
two months the latter had the good fortune to be appointed Prefect of 
the district of Ying lien fu, close to the capital. 

But let us return to Black Jade. When her boat was moored and she 
stepped on to the river-bank, she found awaiting her a sedan chair and 
a whole crowd of servants and luggage trucks. At home she had often 

21 



heard her mother speak of the wealth and grandeur in which the rela- 
tives in the capital lived. This display of attendance on the journey and 
upon arrival was a foretaste of what was in store. There on the spot 
were three kinds of servants, each lot dressed differently. And how well 
equipped they were, and how well fed and well cared for they looked! 

Black Jade resolved to act with the utmost prudence and circum- 
spection in her new home and never to say a word too much. Other- 
wise she might possibly be laughed at as being provincial and un- 
sophisticated. On the way she could not refrain from peeping out right 
and left through the silk gauze curtains of the sedan chair, and she could 
not get over her astonishment at the crowds of people and the great 
bustle in the streets and squares which surrounded them once they had 
passed in through the city gates. She had never known anything like 
that in Yangchow. 

After a long march the procession passed, on the right, by a great 
triple-arched gateway, flanked by two massive cowering marble lions. 
Each of its three doors had a knocker in the form of an animal's head. 
About a dozen servants in splendid, brightly colored livery were squat- 
ting in front of the doors. Through the side doors, which were open, a 
lively stream of people were passing in and out. Above the middle door, 
which was closed, Black Jade read the inscription written on a tablet 
in five large characters: "Ningkuo palace, built at the Imperial com- 
mand." 

A little farther west her sedan chair was carried through a gateway 
of similar style and size, and on the same side of the street. This was 
the entrance to the Yungkuo palace. At first they went straight ahead 
about the length of an arrow-shot. Then, at a turning, the sedan chair 
was put down, and four young fellows in smart livery came and took 
the places of the former bearers. At the same time the female attendants 
got out of their sedan chairs and from this point followed Black Jade's 
chair on foot. The procession halted once more, this time at a gate 
covered with flowering creepers. The bearers stepped back while the 
female attendants hurried forward, opened the door, and helped Black 
Jade descend. Supported on either side by a sturdy serving matron, she 
Itepped through the Gate of Flowers. From the Gate of Flowers two 
covered passages led to an open entrance hall, in the middle of which 
*tood a stone slab, beautifully decorated with strange, landscape-like 
cross-hatching and supported on a red sandal wood pedestal. This was 
the spirit screen. Behind the entrance hall the way led through three 
small pavilions into the great inner courtyard which lay in front of the 
five-room dwelling of the Princess Ancestress. The building was re- 
splendent in brilliant colors, and the pillars and roof beams were richly 
carved. Covered verandas, leading here and there through overhanging 

22 



rocks, extended along the sides of the building which overlooked the 
courtyard. They were alive with the twittering and screeching of bril- 
liantly colored parakeets and parrots, whose cages were swinging 
everywhere from the walls and pillars. 

Several ladies' maids dressed in red and green were sitting on the 
steps of the stairway which led to the central apartment of the building. 
As Black Jade approached they rose and came towards her smiling and 
curtsying, led her up the steps, and, calling out "Miss Ling is here," 
drew the glistening curtain cords. Black Jade walked in and found her- 
self facing a group of women; one of them, a silver-haired matron, 
came forward supported by two servants, one on her right and one on 
her left. 

That must be my grandmother, thought Black Jade to herself, 
and was about to kneel down to make her kowtow right away. But the 
Princess Ancestress came up to her and with outstretched arms clasped 
her to her breast. 

"My heart! My liver! Flesh and blood of my child!" she cried in a 
voice so stifled with emotion that the room became filled with the 
sounds of sobbing and sniffling, and Black Jade too could not keep back 
her tears. They all pressed around her speaking loving and comforting 
words. At last she pulled herself together somewhat and dutifully made 
her kowtow before the Princess Ancestress. Then the introductions be- 
gan. "This is your eldest aunt; this is your younger aunt; this is your 
sister-in-law Chu, the widow of your late cousin, Chia Chu." This went 
on for quite a while, Black Jade taking a step towards each person and 
bowing in salutation. 

"The three young ladies may come!" said the Princess Ancestress, 
turning towards the company. "In honor of our guest's arrival they are 
being excused from their lessons today." 

After some time the three girls, Greeting of Spring, Taste of Spring, 
and Grief of Spring, appeared escorted by three worthy matrons and 
six young waiting maids. The first was of medium height, plump, with 
ice-fcesh cheeks and a little flat nose which looked as if molded in goose- 
fat a charming sight. The second was slender, slim-waisted, with some- 
what sloping shoulders, a face oval as a duck's egg, and, beneath 
perfectly arched brows, two soulful eyes with a most fascinating glance 
an arresting sight. The third, as yet too childish in face and form to 
make a verdict possible. All three were dressed in the same simple way 
and wore similar agraffes and bangles. 

After the introductions were finished the company sat down and 
drank tea, and then began to overwhelm Black Jade with sympathetic 
questions. What had her mother's malady been? What medicines had 
she been given? How did the mourning ceremonies pass off? And so on. 

24 



The Ancestress could not get over the fact that her favorite daughter 
should have gone to her rest before her. Then the attention of all was 
directed on the new member of the household herself. They found her 
strikingly grave and mature for her twelve years of age. Her form was 
so delicate that she seemed scarcely strong enough to bear the trifling 
weight of her clothing. And yet there was in her transparent, pale face 
a curious shimmer of voluptuousness and love of life. Anemic, they all 
thought to themselves. 

"You look ailing. Do you do nothing for your malady?" she was 
asked. 

"I have been sickly from my earliest childhood, and ever since I 
have been old enough to use chopsticks I have been swallowing medi- 
cine also. I do not know how many doctors have treated me, but none 
could help me. I remember when I was three years of age an unkempt, 
ugly wandering monk wanted to take me away from home and put me 
into a convent. My parents would not hear of it. Then he told them that 
in the bosom of my family I would never become a healthy person, be- 
cause the inevitable daily annoyances and troubles of home life would 
harm me. I should see no other relatives except my father and mother if 
I were to be well. Naturally, no one took the talk of the dirty, crazy 
monk seriously. Since then I have been treating my illness with the 
health-giving ginseng root and blood-strengthening pills." 

"That is sensible," said the grandmother. "Those are also our trusted 
home remedies, and I shall see that you get your accustomed daily ra- 
tion of them here too." 

She had not finished speaking when the sound of laughter and chat- 
ter sounded from the park, and Black Jade heard a woman's clear voice 
saying: "Oh, I'm terribly late in coming to greet our distinguished 
guest." 

While Black Jade was still wondering who this might be who ven- 
tured to burst so gaily and boisterously into the solemn and formal at- 
mosphere surrounding the revered First Lady of the family, she saw a 
smartly dressed young woman enter, surrounded by a crowd of ladies- 
in-waiting and maids. She was glittering with jewels and beautiful as a 
fairy, and her vermilion lips were parted in a sparkling smile. Black 
Jade had hurriedly risen from her seat. 

"You do not know her yet," said the Princess Ancestress to Black 
Jade with a smile. "This is our famous merry household fairy, without 
whom we should all be dull and bored. Just call her Phoenix!" 

"But I do not even know her real name yet," said Black Jade embar- 
rassed. 

"She is your sister-in-law, Lien. Her maiden name is Phoenix," sev- 
eral voices explained to her. Now she could place her. Her mother had 

25 



often told her about this sister-in-law. She was the beautiful and clever 
niece of Uncle Cheng's wife, nee Wang, and wife of Chia Lien, Prince 
Shieh's second son. After the formal greetings had been exchanged, 
Madame Phoenix took the young girl familiarly by the hand and coolly 
inspected her for several minutes from head to foot. Then she brought 
her back to her seat by the side of the old Princess and sat down be- 
side her. 

"To think that any human form in the world could be so tender and 
delicate!" she exclaimed, turning to the old lady. "I would not have 
believed it possible if I had not been convinced of it with my own eyes. 
The poor little mei mei! How sad that she should lose her mother so 
young!" 

She dabbed her eyes with her handkerchief to rub away some tears. 

"Do you want to reduce us to tears again? Our eyes are only just 
dried," said the Princess Ancestress jocosely. "Our guest is tired from 
the long journey, and besides she has delicate nerves. Better not open 
the old wound, but let the past rest." 

Madame Phoenix obediently resumed her usual merry manner at 
once. "Grandmother is right and the careless child deserves a slap- 
ping," she said, holding out her little lily-white hands with a comic 
gesture, like a school child who expects to be caned. Once more she 
took Black Jade by the hand and plied her with every possible ques- 
tion about her age, health, education, favorite dishes, and favorite 
games. She hoped she would be happy here and not suffer from home- 
sickness, and if she lacked or needed anything, would she please not 
ask the simple chamberwomen or maids but come straight to her sister- 
in-law, Phoenix. 

"Has Miss Ling's luggage been brought up?" she asked, turning to 
her attendants. "And are the rooms prepared for the servants whom 
she has brought with her from Yangchow?" 

She attentively handed her guest tea and cake, and then began to dis- 
cuss with Aunt Cheng practical matters such as household expenses and 
clothing. Black Jade got the immediate impression that this sister-in- 
law was the soul of the whole great household. 

This first reception was followed by a visit of introduction to Uncle 
Shieh and Uncle Cheng. At the Gate of Flowers Black Jade, escorted by 
Aunt Shieh, got into a big, dark blue, lacquered wheel sedan with a 
light blue silk awning, which was drawn at first by bearers and later by 
mules which had been specially trained to go at a very gentle pace. For 
it was a long distance to the residences of the two uncles, and there 
were many courtyards and gateways to be passed through. At last the 
sedan chair was set down and Aunt Shieh took Black Jade by the hand 

26 



and led her into a reception hall. It seemed to Black Jade that this 
part or the gigantic homestead must have once been part of the park, so 
romantically did the various buildings, each highly ornate and of the 
most superb architectural style, lie nestling among groups of trees and 
rocks. 

Aunt Shieh sent a messenger to the library for her husband, but the 
Prince excused himself on the plea that he was not feeling well. His 
niece must make herself quite at home here and not be homesick. Her 
cousins were in themselves silly and simple little creatures, but when 
they all got together it would be very pleasant. And if she was ever in 
any trouble she must not hesitate to open her mouth. 

Black Jade remained standing while she listened to this message from 
her princely uncle. After a short time she took her leave and was then 
taken in the wheel sedan drawn by mules along the endless paths which 
led to Uncle Cheng's residence. First she was brought into the central 
reception hall. She looked around her in astonishment. What splendor 
and what marvels met her gaze ! Raised high on a stand formed of nine 
intertwined golden dragons stood a tall tablet, on the azure background 
of which three large ideographs in gold announced that this was the 
"Hall of Glory and Beatitude." On the wall behind it was an inscrip- 
tion of the date on which the Son of Heaven had honored the first 
Prince of Yungkuo with this tablet. Wherever she looked she saw works 
of art with the Imperial sign-manual engraved upon them. 'Here, on a 
red sandalwood table with snake-pattern carving, stood an ancient 
three-foot-high tripod kettle covered with verdigris. There, there glit- 
tered magnificent goblets of embossed gold. Here, again, sparkled 
transparent bowls of crystal. Along the walls stood sixteen carved seats 
of precious cedarwood. But Black Jade had not nearly enough time to 
admire all the valuable objects assembled here, for they soon moved 
on, out of the reception hall, into a tastefully and comfortably furnished 
living room situated to the east of it. Here there was no lack of snug 
divan seats in the corners, with cushions and upholstered back-rests, 
soft armchairs and carpets, and lacquered tea tables all set ready for 
tea; footstools, incense bowls from which rose bluish wreaths of smoke, 
as elaborate in formation as beautiful signatures, filling the room with 
aromatic vapors which vied with the perfume of the fresh flowers that 
adorned a beautiful porcelain vase fashioned in the form of a woman. 

Not far from the window stood a great internally heated couch 
covered with an exotic scarlet plush overlay. It was divided in two by a 
low couch table which stood in the center of it covered with books and 
tea things. To the right "and left of this table comfortable back-rests with 
soft red cushions embroidered with scaly gold dragons held out an in- 
vitation to recline. 

27 



Aunt Cheng was already reclining at the right side. With a friendly 
wave of the hand she invited her niece, as she entered, to recline com- 
fortably on the left. But Black Jade said to herself that no doubt the 
master of the house was accustomed to rest on these cushions and 
hence it would be unseemly of her to take that place. She therefore 
modestly sat down on a simply covered chair near the couch, and not 
until she had been asked three times to do so did she change over to 
her aunt's side. 

"Your uncle is in the temple today, fasting and attending services," 
said the aunt, "but he will soon come home and greet you. Meantime 
he has asked me to say a few words to you from him. Your three cous- 
ins are all intelligent, well-brought-up girls. You will all learn your 
lessons nicely together, do needlework and have pleasant games, and I 
think you will also get on well together. But there is one thing which 
makes us parents uneasy: we have a truly incorrigible young son who 
is a real torment 'and a mischievous imp in the house. He also is in the 
temple today fulfilling a vow, but he will be back towards evening and 
then you will get to know him personally*. I want you to know the facts 
in advance. It will be best if you treat him as your cousins do, that is, 
take as little notice of him as possible and leave him alone." 

Black Jade remembered that her mother had often spoken of a 
nephew who had been born with a jade stone in his mouth and was a 
somewhat strange, freakish boy who, instead of keeping to his books, 
loved roaming about the women's quarters playing all sorts of silly 
pranks, and in spite of this was very much favored and spoiled by his 
grandmother, with the result that no one dared to be severe with him. 

"Ah, Aunt means no doubt the cousin who was born with the jade 
stone in his mouth?" she asked, smiling. "Mother often spoke of him. 
He is Pao Yu and is a year older than I, is he not? Mother thought he 
was just inclined to be easygoing and playful but that otherwise he was 
very polite and nice to his sisters. Now, I shall be in the company of my 
girl cousins most of the time, and I shall not have much opportunity of 
meeting this cousin and provoking him to tricks. The house is so very 
roomy." 

"Oh, do not say that!" replied Aunt Cheng, laughing. "The con- 
founded boy cannot do without the company of girls and will be able 
to find you even if you do not look for him. As long as the girls do not 
take notice of him he behaves tolerably, but one word too much from 
them is enough to make him do the maddest things just through sheer 
high spirits. 'So you must remember this and not let yourself be either 
charmed by his honey-sweet words or frightened by his foolish rages." 

A servant entered and said that the old Tai tai bade them come to 
supper. Aunt Cheng took her niece by the hand and led her out through 

28 



a back exit and across by many zigzag paths. On the way she stopped 
once and pointed to a dainty house built in three tiers with a veranda 
running all along the south side. 

"Your sister-in-law Phoenix lives here," she said, smiling. "No doubt 
you will be going in and out here often. Whenever you want anything 
you have just to go to her." 

At last, after much winding in and out, they passed through a 
covered corridor and found themselves in the garden behind the resi- 
dence of the Princess Ancestress. The old lady was already awaiting 
them in the dining room. Despite her modest protests, Black Jade was 
obliged, as guest, to take the place of honor at her left side. Three 
chairs to the right and left of the Princess Ancestress remained unoc- 
cupied. Actually, they were meant for Aunt Cheng and the two sister? 
in-law, Phoenix and Chu. But today these three were in attendance OM 
the Ancestress. Sister-in-law Phoenix placed fresh chopsticks, before 
her for each course, Aunt Cheng served her soup, and sister-in-law Chu 
served the other dishes to her. Later Aunt Cheng had to sit at her right- 
hand side. The three "Spring" girls ate at a separate taWe. The meal 
was eaten silently and ceremoniously. From the swarm of serving 
women and girls, of whom some noiselessly carried the dishes in and 
out while others stood ready in the anteroom with washbasins, dusters, 
and hand towels, not the slightest cough or clearing of the throat was 
audible. Black Jade had to be very attentive in order to adapt herself 
to the many forms of table etiquette which were new to her. For in- 
stance, perfumed tea was served immediately after the meal. She was 
about to drink it reluctantly, for at home she had always been taught 
that it was harmful to drink tea straight after a meal, but the example 
of- the others soon made it clear to her that this tea was only meant for 
rinsing out the mouth. With the words "You others may go; I wish to 
talk to our guest for a little while alone," the Ancestress rose from the 
table. 

"How far have you g^ne in your reading?" she inquired of her 
grandchild. 

"I have just finished studying the Six Classical Books," replied 
Black Jade. "And what are my cousins reading?" 

"Ah, they can barely understand a few words." 

There was a crunching on the gravel outside, and immediately after- 
wards a servant announced: "Pao Yu is coming." 

Black Jade looked towards the entrance in eager expectation. There- 
upon he walked in. She was most pleasantly surprised. He wore on his 
head a purple cap interwoven with gold and trimmed with brightly 
colored jewels. A golden band in the form of two dragons snapping at 
a pearl encircled his forehead. His close-fitting dark red jerkin, em- 

29 



broidered with golden butterflies and bright flowers, was fastened with 
a colored belt woven in a design of flower stems and ears of corn. Over 
the jerkin he wore a slate-blue satin Japanese cloak, embroidered with 
eight bunches of flowers, and fringed at the edges. His feet were en- 
veloped in blue satin shoes. His face was as bright as the mid-autumn 
moon, his color fresh as spring flowers in the morning dew; his hair 
was as sharply outlined above his temples as if it had been cut with a 
knife, his eyebrows seemed as if painted on with India ink, the fine out- 
line of his nose betokened boldness of character, his eyes glistened with 
the wet shine of autumn waves, his mouth seemed to smile even in ill- 
humor, and his glance radiated warmth and feeling even in anger. A 
golden chain in the form of a snake encircled his neck, and also a s*ilken 
cord of five colors from which hung a beautiful stone. 

Black Jade was taken completely by surprise at his appearance. It is 
strange how familiar his features seem to me, just as if I had met him 
before, she thought to herself. 

As soon as the Princess had returned his salutation, she bade him go 
and say good day to his mother, whereupon he immediately disap- 
peared. When he returned after a little while he was no longer wearing 
his cap. His front hair was dressed acound his head in single short pig- 
tails interwoven with red braid, which were drawn up and joined on the 
top of his head to form a crown. He wore his back hair in a long jet- 
black shining pigtail which was wound around a braid decorated with 
four big pearls and eight golden pendants representing the various em- 
blems of the eight Taoist saints the Sword, the Flute, the Lotus 
Flower, and so on. Instead of the blue cloak he now wore a satin coat of 
a flowered silver and red pattern, below which showed fir-tree-green 
flowered silk brocade trousers. Dark red thick-soled satin slippers 
covered his black-stockinged feet. His countenance was, if possible, 
more radiant than before. The natural color of his cheeks triumphed 
over the artificial effect of powder and paint, his glance was soulful, his 
speech was a smile. But his character expressed itself most eloquently 
in the highly expressive play of his brows. All the hundred human feel- 
^ings seemed to find place in a corner of his eye. 

"Will you not greet your cousin at last?" the Princess Ancestress 
smilingly asked her favorite, who had sat down politely at her side, 
apparently overlooking the new cousin completely. But of course he 
had seen her. He now stood up, went over to the young girl, and with 
his hands raised to his breast made a slight bow to her. Then he re- 
turned to his place and gazed at her for a while fixedly and attentively. 
He found her different from the other girls. How full, of contradictions 
was the expression of her features! Her eyebrows, like two finely out- 
lined threads of smoke, were close together and seemed to express sor- 

30 



row, even when she was quite merry. Her soulful eyes looked serious 
even when she was laughing gaily. She was beautiful, but her beauty 
was clothed with the cloak of suffering. Her eyes were always glistening 
as if full of tears. And how faint and soft was her breathing. In repose 
she was like the dewy reflection of a flower in water. In motion she was 
like a willow branch trembling in the wind. 

"I must have met her before," murmured Pao Yu to himself, lost in 
thought. 

"What ridiculous nonsense you are talking again! How could you 
have met her already?" His grandmother's voice recalled him to re- 
ality. 

"But her face it seems so familiar to me just as if we had met 
again after a long, long separation," he murmured. 

"All the better, for then you will get on well with her," remarked the 
old Princes^ with a smile. 

Pao Yu stood up, then sat down right beside his cousin and regarded 
her once more with attention. 

"Have you gone far in your reading of literature, Mei mei?" he 
asked her. 

"Not very far. I have had barely two years' education and am still at 
the beginning," replied Black Jade. 

"Were you also born with a jewel in your mouth?" 

"No. Such a silly thing as that scarcely happens twice." 

Her harmless remark caused him to break into a real rage. He tore 
the cord with the stone On it from his neck and flung it scornfully on 
the ground. 

"Nasty thing! What do I care about you?" he cried abusively to the 
stone. "Are you a bit of me, a being endowed with reason, that people 
make so much fuss about you? Away with you! I am sick of you!" 

The ladies-in-waiting stood around the enraged boy, terrified. One of 
them picked up the cord with the stone and handed it to the old Prin- 
cess. The Princess hurriedly clasped her grandchild in her arms. 

"Control yourself, child!" she said reproachfully. "Be angry with 
people if you want to. But what harm has this innocent stone, this bit of 
yourself, done to you, that you treat it so roughly?" 

"None of my brothers and sisters has a horrible stone like this at- 
tached to them, not even this new angelic cousin," he sobbed. "So it 
must be a useless, bad thing. I don't like it!" 

"Your new cousin also came into the world with a stone like that," 
lied the grandmother to quiet him. "Out of filial devotion she buried 
it with her mother, to whom she was greatly attached, so that even in 
death a bit of herself would be close to her mother. It is through shy- 

32 



ness that she has not spoken of it to you. And now be sensible. What 
would your mother say if she heard of your behavior?" 

He became thoughtfully silent and allowed his grandmother to fasten 
the cord with the stone round his neck with her own hands. A chamber- 
maid entered and asked where the young lady was to sleep in future. 

"We shall change Pao Yu over to my apartments, and Miss Ling can 
move for the time being into the green pavilion in his place. Later on, 
when the winter is over, we will arrange another place for her." 

"Ah, dear, good Grandmother," begged Pao Yu, "let me stay in the 
green pavilion! I can sleep quite well in a side-chamber. I am so noisy, 
I would destroy your peace." 

"Very well, you may," the grandmother decided, after a moment's 
consideration. 

Accordingly, from that time the two cousins shared the green pavil- 
ion which was part of the premises of the old Princess. Each of the two 
children had their own personal domestic staff in attendance on them 
day and night. Black Jade had brought with her from Yangchow her 
own serving matron, Mother Wang, and a little ten-year-old waiting 
maid called Snowgoose. The Princess Ancestress found little Snow- 
goose too young and Mother Wang too old for service, so she gave her 
granddaughter, in addition to her own household staff, the waiting maid 
Cuckoo. Besides these she got as her staff half a dozen maids for the 
light and heavy work, just like her cousins. Pao Yn had an elderly serv- 
ing matron, Mother Li, and a smart young trustworthy waiting maid. 
This maid, who enjoyed the special confidence of the Princess Ances- 
tress, was called Pearl. That night, a long time after it had become 
quiet in the side-chamber where Pao Yu slept, the maid Pearl noticed 
that there was still light in the inner bedroom, and that people were 
talking there. Being curious, she slipped in in her nightdress^. She found 
Black Jade sitting on the edge of her bed talking to the maid Cuckoo. 

"Why is the young lady still up?" she asked, astonished. 

"Sit down, sister," Black Jade invited her amiably. Pearl also sat 
down on the edge of the bed. Then Cuckoo made her report. The young 
lady had been weeping in a heart-rending way this first evening, she 
said. Her eyes had filled with tears again and again as soon as she 
wiped them dry. She was disconsolate over having provoked the son of 
the house to a fit of rage at their very first meeting, and she felt she was 
a bringer of misfortune. 

"Dear young lady, you should not take a thing like that so tragi- 
cally," said Pearl, smiling at Black Jade. "I fear you will experience 
much more crazy and- extraordinary behavior from him in the future. If 
you take everything to heart like that, I fear you will become quite ill 
with heart trouble. You must not be so sensitive!" 

33 



"Thank you, sister! I will think of what you say," said Black Jade, 
somewhat calmed, and soon afterwards she was able to get to sleep at 
last. 

When Black Jade went next morning with her cousins to wish Aunt 
Cheng good morning as usual, they found the aunt and Phoenix in lively 
conversation over a letter from a relative, which two messengers had just 
brought from the town. Black Jade only half understood what the lively 
discussion was about. Her cousins enlightened her. The letter was from 
Uncle Wang, an elder brother of Aunt Cheng, and concerned a distress- 
ing affair in which their nephew Hsueh Pan was involved. Young Hsueh 
Pan, a son of Aunt Cheng's sister, presuming on the power of the 
family to protect him, had killed a rival in a quarrel, and was now to 
answer for it before .the Prefect of Ying tien f u. You will learn from the 
next chapter the ramifications of this painful affair, and how it is con- 
nected will) our story. 



CHAPTER 4 

An unfortunate girl finds an unfortunate suitor. A little bonze from the 
Temple of the Gourd acts as judge. 

As ALREADY MENTIONED, AFTER HIS REINSTATEMENT Yu TSUN GOT 

the position of Prefect of Ying tien fu thanks to the patronage he re- 
ceived through the influence of Lin Ju Hai and his brother-in-law 
Cheng. Immediately after he took up office the case of a murder com- 
mitted in his district less than a month previously came before him for 
hearing. In a quarrel over the ownership of a pretty slave girl one buyer 
had had his rival beaten to death. The plaintiff was the servant of the 
murdered man. In his evidence he declared: 

"The murdered man was my master. My master had bought the slave 
fairly from her owner, a child-thief, and had also paid the purchase 
price, but it was arranged that he was only to bring the slave to his 
house three days later, because that day was stated in the calendar to 
be a lucky day. Now the rogue of a child-thief had used this interval to 
secretly sell the slave a second time, namely, to a man named Hsueh 
Pan. My master heard in time of this deal and set off to fetch the girl 
from the slave dealer, but the servants of that brutal fellow Hsueh Pan, 
who, relying on the power of his family, has contempt for law and jus- 
tice, stopped him by force and beat him to death with sticks. The cul- 
prits then made off with the slave girl, and there has been no trace of 
them sinfce. It is already a month since I made a charge, but your prede- 
cessor in office did not take up the case. I beg of you to have the mur- 

34 



derers traced &nd to give them the punishment they deserve, that jus- 
tice may be done and innocence may triumph over wickedness." 

When Yu Tsun had lisle; ed to the end, he angrily hit the judge's 
table with his fist. 

"What! A murderer is let go scot-free! How is that possible?" he 
cried indignantly. "I shall immediately write out warrants for arrest, 
and send detectives to the relatives of the murderer. And if they do not 
disclose the whereabouts of the murderer voluntarily, they will be tor- 
tured!" 

He was just about to take up his writing brush when he noticed that 
one of the yamen secretaries who were standing around the judge's 
table winked at him quite visibly. He realized that the secretary obvi- 
ously wished to communicate something of importance to him, so he 
laid down his brush, interrupted the sitting, and withdrew to his private 
office. There he spoke privately to the official conceraed. 

"The old Governor has probably completely forgotten my humble 
self since he came into his high administrative office?" began the man 
with a cunning smile. "But of course it is already eight or nine years 
since we met." 

"As a matter of fact, your face is very familiar to me, but I cannot 
really recall at the moment . . ." 

"Yes, indeed, when fortune smiles on them, great gentlemen do not 
like to look back upon their early struggles. But you surely still remem- 
ber the Temple of the Gourd?" 

Now Yu Tsun knew who he was. 

"Why, of course, you were the young brother who used to clean the 
incense vessels and had the cell next to mine in the Temple of the 
Gourd in those days. Tell me, how have you been getting on since 
then?" he said laughing, and amiably invited the other to take a seat. 

But the man who was now a yamen secretary remained politely 
standing and recounted briefly how he was homeless after the burning 
of the Temple of the Gourd, but soon decided to let his hair grow again 
and, having long since tired of the cold and dreary convent life, became 
a yamen -servant. 

"But now sit down!" said Yu Tsun, giving him a friendly push onto 
a chair: but the other only ventured to sit shyly on the edge of it. "Old 
friendships made in times of poverty and want should not be forgotten. 
Moreover, we are now in my private office and not in a public court. So 
why this ceremony? But now explain why you winked at me just now 
as I was about to write out the order for arrest.". 

"Has no Protection List been placed before you since you have been 
in office here?" 

"What do you mean by Protection List?" 

35 



"It is customary nowadays for government officials in the provinces 
to keep a secret list of the names of all the specially prpminent, well-off, 
and influential citizens domiciled in their district, above all the 'Wear- 
ers of the Belt,' or former high officials who have important connections 
with government circles at the Court. A prudent provincial magistrate 
will take great care not to come into conflict . with these important 
people, otherwise he endangers his position or in certain circumstances 
even his life. That is why it is called the Protection List. Now, that man 
Hsueh Pan is one of the prominent people of the district whom one dare 
not annoy. That is why your predecessor in office did not take any steps 
in the murder case, although Hsueh Pan's guilt is quite obvious." 

While he was speaking he took from his pocket a folded paper which 
he handed to Yu Tsun. It was the Protection List which he kept for his 
personal use. Yu Tsun found it full of the names of the leading families 
in the district, and beside the individual names, written in the common 
tongue, were marginal notes of what people said about the families in 
question. Among others he read the four names Chia, Shih, Wang, and 
Hsueh. 

"These four powerful families," the secretary explained to him, "are 
all blood relations or connected by marriage, and are bound together 
for good or ill. The punishment you mete out to one family hits all four; 
the honor you show to one family is shared by the others. Besides this 
powerful family bloc at his back, the murderer Hsueh Pan also has an 
influential connection at the Court and in the provinces. If you now 
issue a warrant for the arrest of his supporters, how many people will 
you actually have to lock up?" 

"Hm. I had not thought of that. But what line am I to take in this 
matter, then? Evidently the murderer's whereabouts are well known to 
you?" 

The secretary gave a cunning smile. 

"If I may speak frankly, old Governor, I may say that I know not 
only the whereabouts of the murderer but also a good deal about the 
other persons implicated, the murdered man, the slave dealer, and the 
slave girl. If you will be so kind as to listen to me patiently, I will tell 
you the whole story absolutely correctly. 

"The murdered man was named Feng. He came from a modest 
family of civil servants, and since his parents died, having no brothers or 
sisters to share the heritage, he was able to live modestly on what his 
father left him. The twenty-year-old was by nature averse to women, 
and preferred the companionship of men. Probably Providence in- 
tended to make him atone for some crime committed in a previous ex- 
istence when to his misfortune it led him to that child-thief who had 
the slave girl. At all events, quite contrary to his usual habits, he be- 

36 






came infatuated with the slave girl at first sight, decided to make her 
his concubine, and renounced all intercourse with men for the future. 
The fool took the matter so seriously that he even looked up a lucky 
day in the calendar for taking home the girl, and that was the third day 
after he had made the bargain and paid the purchase price. 

"The cunning slave dealer now took it into his head to avail of the 
interval to sell the girl again for cash, this time to Hsu^h Pan. But be- 
fore he could clear off with the double proceeds, he fell uu^ the hands 
of the two rivals, neither of whom wanted his money back, but both of 
whom wanted possession of the girl. So he was nearly beaten dead by 
the two of them. Then the two rivals fell upon each other. Thanks to his 
large suite of servants, Hsueh Pan had the advantage. Those fellows 
beat the unfortunate Feng until he was so weak that he could not stir 
any more. He died three days later. But his rival then went off to the 
capital with his booty and his suite of servants, not as a fugitive, but 
quite coolly, openly, and at his ease, like any innocent traveller, just as 
if nothing at all had happened. But now comes the most remarkable 
part of the story. Who do you think that slave girl was?" 

"How should I know that?" 

"Little Lotus, the daughter of your great friend and patron, Shih 
Ying, of your Temple of the Gourd days!" 

"What on earth are you saying? But she was hardly three years old 
when she was stolen that time on the evening of the Lantern Festival. 
And you say the thief was only selling her now, eight years later?" 

"It is the custom of child-thieves to keep the little girls they steal 
and bring them up until they are twelve or thirteen years of age and 
then put them on the market in another part of the country. So the mar 
who stole our little Lotus kept her hidden in his lair near Suchow for 
eight years, and then he brought her here to Ying tien fu to sell her. I 
am not mistaken; I definitely recognized her again. For during his stay 
here the thief actually lodged in the same house where I do, with the 
little girl. 

"We monks of the Temple of the Gourd were on the most friendly 
and neighborly terms with little Lotus. The trustful child used to come 
over to the temple every day and we used to play with her and have all 
sorts of fun. That is why her face remained impressed upon my mem- 
ory. Her features have developed and gained in their beautiful propor- 
tions in the course of the years, but they have remained essentially the 
same. Besides, I recognized her by her birthmark, a freckle the size of a 
grain of rice between her eyebrows above the bridge of her nose. 

"Once when the slave dealer was out and she was alone in the house, 
I went to her and questioned her urgently, but she was unwilling to 
speak out. She must not speak or she would be beaten, she said, quite 

37 



scared, and she insisted that the thief was her father, who had to sell her 
to pay his debts. When I continued to press her with questions she be- 
gan to weep and said she could not remember her early childhood. But 
later on she betrayed herself. The day that young Feng bought her I 
listened at the door and spied into the room through a crack. The 
slave dealer had celebrated the deal with young Feng and had got thor- 
oughly tipsy. Believing herself unobserved, Lotus let a deep sigh of 
relief escape her. 'Today my debt from a former existence has at last 
been paid off!' she cried. But when she heard that she would be fetched 
by her suitor only three days later, her cheerfulness changed to sadness. 

"I watched out for the next time that she was alone, and sent my wife 
to her room to speak words of comfort to her. My wife said to her that 
the fact that young Feng was waiting for a lucky day to take her home 
showed that he had honorable and serious intentions towards her, and 
looked on her as a wife and not as a slave; since this man, who had 
always been known as a woman-hater, had paid a heap of money for 
her, he must be very much in love with her indeed. She should wait pa- 
tiently for the three days, then her lucky hour would come, and she 
would find a pleasant life and a good home. At this she became more 
tranquil. 

"Who would have thought it would all turn out quite differently? The 
following day the rogue of a slave dealer sold the poor thing again, this 
time to that fellow Hsueh Pan. If it had been anyone else at all it would 
not have been so bad. But that this brutal libertine and spendthrift, who 
is known among the people as 'the Mad Robber Count,' should become 
her master that was the last straw! Showering blows on her as thick as 
autumn leaves, he dragged the poor thing away with him, more dead 
than alive. One can really feel sorry for her hapless suitor, young Feng. 
His joy came to nought, and he sacrificed his life and his money in 
vain." 

Yu Tsun sighed deeply. 

"The poor things! Who knows what crimes they may have com- 
mitted in a former existence, since they have to atone so much now. For 
the girl is also to be pitied. True, her first suitor could not offer her any- 
thing like the comfort and the luxury which she now enjoys in the 
house of the second, but on the other hand she must share with many 
other women the favor of a spoiled, bad-tempered pleasure-seeker, 
whereas in the house of the other she would have been the only wife 
and mistress. But what's the good of philosophizing afterwards? For 
me, the important thing just now is to make a wise decision." 

"Esteemed sir, long ago in the Temple of the Gourd you used to be 
a very shrewd, clearheaded man. Therefore, after so many years' pro- 
fessional experience, it really should not be difficult for you to come to 

38 



a decision. After all, you owe your present position to the patronage of 
these same families Chia and Wang, who belong to the set of that Hsueh 
Pan. Do you want to fight against the stream and annoy your protec- 
tors? I advise you to drop the matter gracefully, so that you may be 
able to look your patrons in the face without embarrassment in the 
future!" 

"Hm, that sounds reasonable. Nevertheless, it's a matter of a human 
life. How could I dare to repay, by acting with partiality and defeating 
the ends of justice, the trust which the Son of Heaven has placed in 
me!" 

"You may be right in theory. But in practice, unfortunately, one can- 
not always heed such moral considerations nowadays. 'The wise man 
adapts himself to circumstances,' says the old maxim. 'The wise man 
strives for a friendly settlement and avoids wicked conflict,' runs an- 
other trustworthy rule. If you were to act strictly according to theory, 
you would very soon lose your position and consequently no longer be 
able to justify the confidence of the Son of Heaven; indeed, you would 
actually risk losing your head." 

Yu Tsun was thoughtful for a moment. 

"Good. What, then, in your opinion, should be done?" 

"I have a splendid plan. When you continue with the case again to- 
morrow, play the severe, pitiless judge, shout and rage and issue a war- 
rant for the arrest of the murderer Hsueh Pan. Do not put it into force, 
however, but, instead, just to appease the other side, have some unim- 
portant members o* his household here arrested, and examine them! I 
will visit these people in their prison cell behind your back and let them 
know that the matter is not to be taken so seriously, and that they 
should say at their examination that their master, the murderer Hsueh 
Pan, has meantime died of a sudden illness. Moreover, I will see to it 
that a death certificate made out by the chief members of the Hsueh 
clan, and the officials of the Ward concerned, is produced. 

"In the further course of the hearing, in order to stifle any possible 
discontent on the part of the people, you will play a little at calling up 
spirits and stage a public performance with an altar of sacrifice and 
magic wands, and cause the spirits of the dead to announce that they 
had been enemies in a former existence and, meeting on a narrow path- 
way, had killed one another; that the murderer Hsueh Pan had been 
afflicted with a malignant disease by the avenging spirit of the mur- 
dered Feng, and had also died. Therefore, the murder was already 
atoned for, and apart from punishing the fraudulent slave dealer, there 
was no necessity for the authorities to pursue the matter further. 

"If you wish to do something more, you can sentence the Hsueh 
family to compensate the relatives of the murdered man for the costs of 

39 



his burial. The Hsueh family are rich. They will not mind paying five 
hundred or a thousand ounces. The dead man's relatives are insignifi- 
cant, humble people. They will be glad to get a nice sum of money into 
their hands and to shut their mouths. What do you think of this little 
plan?" 

"Impossible!" said Yu Tsun with an evasive laugh. "But I'll think 
the matter over again." 

He did not need to consider for long before deciding on the plan. 
And then he carried it out, point for point, just as his adviser had whis- 
pered to him, with the result that there was no murmuring among the 
people, and both parties were satisfied. Finally he wrote two letters, to 
Chia Cheng and Marshal Wang Tzu Teng, the influential uncles of the 
criminal, informing them that the proceedings against their worthy 
nephew had been satisfactorily settled and that they need not be the 
least troubled about it any more. And thus, thanks to the cunning idea 
of a former little monk from the Temple of the Gourd, law and justice 
were set aside and a painful lawcase was liquidated in an ingenious 
way. 

But after this Yu Tsun found the proximity of the unpleasing sharer 
of his secret disturbing and uncomfortable. It pained him to think that 
the former temple bonze might tell tales or by careless gossip disclose to 
the people the obscure, miserable past of the present highly respected 
magistrate. Therefore on the excuse that the secretary had acted in a 
blameworthy manner in the execution of his duties, he took the first 
available opportunity to pack him off to a distant position in his dis- 
trict. But this is enough about Yu Tsun for the present. Let us now talk 
about Hsueh Pan. 

Although descended from a good family redolent from generation to 
generation of the highest culture, Hsueh Pan, as the only son of an 
early-widowed mother, had been spoiled and pampered from childhood, 
and deprived of any serious discipline or guidance, and had only had a 
very superficial education. Thanks to old and good connections, which 
he owed to his forefathers, and to having inherited a fortune of some 
millions of taels, he had procured the lucrative position of a privileged 
buyer for the Imperial Wardrobe; but apart from the fact, that his name 
stood in the register of contractors of the Ministry of Finance and that 
he regularly drew his emoluments, he left the actual execution of his 
official duties to his agents and trusted employees, as he understood 
nothing about business. He himself lived completely for his passions, 
and passed his time in cockfighting, horse racing, and riotous living. 
He was a spendthrift and a voluptuary, a licentious, brutal fellow of 
rough manners and arrogant speech. 

His mother, a afster of Marshal Wang Tzu Teng of the capital and of 

40 



the wife of Chia Cheng of the Yungkuo palace, was now forty years 
of age, and besides this son she also had a daughter about thirteen 
years of age, named Pao Chai, "Precious Clasp." In her soft, rounded 
beauty. Precious Clasp resembled a smoothly polished, glistening agate. 
But her perfect polish was not only physical. Thanks to her great zeal 
for learning and to the care her late father had bestowed upon her edu- 
cation from earliest childhood, she was ten times better educated than 
her brother, Hsueh Pan, who was her senior. But when she realized that 
her widowed mother could expect no real help from her ill-behaved 
elder child, she had laid aside her books for the past few years in order 
to relieve her mother of the household worries, like a good, conscien- 
tious daughter. 

On account of her outstanding virtues and qualities, she had recently 
been placed on the list of the young women annually chosen from 
among the respected families of the nobility and mandarin class 
throughout the Empire, to be presented at Court and retained there, 
some as concubines of the Emperor, others as ladies of the Court and 
chaperons to the Princesses. For the present Son of Heaven valued the 
exalted teachings and philosophical writings of Master Confucius, and 
desired that the Princesses at the Court should be favorably influenced 
and encouraged to exemplary behavior by the companionship of girls 
educated in the classics. 

Now, when Hsueh Pan decided to escort his sister to the Court, he did 
so for three reasons. First of all, he wished to take the opportunity of 
visiting his relatives in the capital; secondly, he wished to present him- 
self to his employers, the Ministry of Finance, and to settle some official 
business matters; but the third and most potent reason of all was that 
he wanted to enjoy himself. For it had always been his desire to know 
the capital with its splendor and gay life, of which he had heard so 
much praise. 

All preparations for the journey had already been made, the numer- 
ous trunks as well as the presents intended for the friends and relatives 
had been packed, and a favorable day for departure looked up in the 
calendar, when the previously mentioned incident with the slave dealer 
happened, in the course of which the unfortunate Feng lost his life and 
little Lotus fell into the hands of Hsueh Pan. Leaving the household in 
the care of some of the older trusted servants, Hsueh Pan had set out 
for the capital with his mother, sister, concubines, baggage, and serv- 
ants, on the prearranged day. The affair of the murder ,did not trouble 
him in the least; to him it was just a trifle which could be disposed of 
with a handful of dirty coins. 

Actually, Madame Hsueh had intended to stay with her brother 
Marshal Wang in the capital. But shortly before they reached the walls 

41 



of the Imperial City news reached them that Marshal Wang had just 
been appointed Imperial Marshal of the Nine Provinces and had re- 
ceived orders to proceed without delay on a tour of inspection of the 
frontiers. This news was a secret relief to Hsueh Pan. Now, he said to 
himself, lie would be free of the irksome authority and supervision of 
his uncle and have absolute freedom for his pleasures, and he thanked 
heaven for having disposed matters according to his wishes. The altered 
circumstances now rendered a family council necessary. 

"We should send some of our servants on in advance to fix up one 
of our own houses which has been unused for years," the son suggested. 
The mother was against this. 

"Why all this fuss? What have we got relatives for? We can stay 
either with my brother Wang or my brother-in-law Cheng. There is 
plenty of room in the Yungkuo palace. We can still move into one of 
our own houses later on." 

"Uncle Wang is in the midst of preparations for his journey to the 
frontier; his house is in confusion. It would really be somewhat tact- 
less of us to invade him like a swarm of hornets," said the son, doubt- 
fully. 

"You are right. Well, then we shall go to the Yungkuo palace. My 
sister has invited me again and again to visit her, so she will be happy 
to have us as her guests. But I quite understand that you want to be 
free and unhampered, so you may go and look for quarters of your 
choice wherever you like. But I shall go and stay in the Yungkuo palace 
with Precious Clasp." 

Naturally, Hsueh Pan could not go off and leave his family right at 
the beginning ; that would have made a bad impression on the relatives. 
So, suppressing his displeasure, he submitted to his mother's wish and 
sent off messengers to announce their arrival at the Yungkuo palace. 
There the travellers were received with the greatest cordiality, and both 
the Princess Ancestress and Aunt Cheng urged them to stay on. Uncle 
Cheng had a suite of ten unused rooms prepared for the guests in the 
southeastern tip of his domain the so-called Pear Garden. 

The Pear Garden was a delightful pleasure house set in enchanting 
surroundings in the park, the favorite dwelling of the first Prince of 
Yungkuo in his old age. With its grounds it formed a separate, walled- 
off area within the estate. To the inside it was connected with the dwell- 
ing of Aunt Cheng by a little gate and a narrow path, and to the outside 
it had its own exit to the street. This latter fact was specially pleasing 
to Hsueh Pan, for it enabled him to go in and out unimpeded and 
without the annoyance of his movements' being checked at the gate. 
Altogether, the displeasure he had felt when moving in diminished 
more and more. His fear that his uncles would supervise him at every 

42 



step proved unfounded. Uncle Cheng had his ministerial work, and 
Prince Shieh, who as elder had first authority in the place, was far too 
easygoing to bother himself about the goings-on of the many different 
inmates of the house. He preferred to meditate in his library and over a 
chessboard and only wanted to be left undisturbed. Hsueh Pan on his 
part found among the various male cousins in the two palaces just the 
companions he needed. Most of these cousins wore "silk trousers" and 
"airy coats" jovial, merry young people, from whom even he could 
learn much in the art of savoir-vivre. If he had a wish for a little game 
of cards, a drinking bout, a stroll through the town, or an amorous ad- 
venture, there was always suitable company to be found for it. In short, 
Hsueh Pan had no cause to complain of boredom, and made himself so 
much at home in his new surroundings that in the course of one month 
all thought of changing his quarters had vanished. How the main story 
goes, after this digression, will be seen from the next chapter. 



CHAPTER 5 

The spirit of Pao Yu wanders about in the Phantom Realm of the Great 

Void. The Fairy of Fearful Awakening vainly interprets for him in 

songs the Dream of the Red Chamber. 

VERY SOON BLACK JADE HAD BECOME THE AVOWED FAVORITE OF THE 
Princess Ancestress, and was put before the other grandchildren in 
every respect, just like Pao Yu. These two had become as closely at- 
tached to each other as glue and lacquer and were now an inseparable 
pair. In the daytime they sat side by side and went about hand in hand ; 
in the evening they stood taking a long and affectionate leave of one 
another and slept wall to wall. 

Now this new cousin had suddenly come to the house. Although not 
much older than the other cousins, Precious Clasp was so polished in 
her manners and of such charming appearance that according to the 
general verdict even Black Jade was not her equal. Besides, she knew 
how to win the hearts of all, even the servants, by her friendly, com- 
passionate ways, whereas Black Jade was a solitary individual and went 
around with her head in the air. With secret annoyance in her heart, 
Black Jade felt herself displaced in the general popularity by her new 
cousin, and her annoyance turned to resentment when she perceived 
that even Pao Yu was not untouched by her charm. 

Pao Yu was still too x immature to discriminate tactfully between an 
old privileged friendship and a new acquaintance; for him one cousin 
was the same as another. In short, Black Jade felt offended whenever 

43 



he said a friendly word too much to Precious Clasp, and this led to 
many scenes of jealousy in the course of which she would rush weeping 
to her room, and in the end forgive the faithless one again and again 
when he would come running after her with bowed head and apologize 
to her with youthful impetuosity. 

One day at the time of the plum blossoms Prince and Princess Chen 
had invited the near-by relatives to visit them in the Ningkuo palace. 
After the company had walked about for a while in the Garden of As- 
sembled Perfumes, which was shimmering in the full splendor of bios- 
somtime, they all sat down at one great table to the usual family feast, 
about which there is nothing special to say. 

At the end of the meal Pao Yu felt sleepy and expressed the wish to 
lie down for a while. Mistress Yung, the beautiful young daughter-in- 
law of Prince Chen, undertook to conduct him herself to a room which 
she thought seemed suitable for a midday nap. It was a small, beauti- 
fully and comfortably furnished guestroom, but two mottoes which 
decorated one of the walls caused the boy obvious discomfort. For 
when he read: 

For knowledge of nature and the world 
Do not neglect the sciences. 
For knowledge of the human heart 
Devote yourself to the study of history 

he turned petulantly back and said: "Let us get out quickly!" His 
beautiful companion thereupon laughingly offered to give him her own 
bedroom. 

"But, Mistress, the uncle cannot well sleep in the niece's bed; that 
would be contrary to all good form," objected a chamberwoman, who 
was in attendance. 

"Ah, why be so prudish? The uncle is after all still a boy," replied 
the young woman, laughing, and leading Pao Yu, who in kinship was in 
fact her uncle but in age could well be her nephew, into her bedroom. 
As he entered he was met by a wave of delightful perfume which intoxi- 
cated his senses and melted his bones. 

"Oh, it smells nice here!" he remarked with pleasure, and his pleas- 
ure increased when he saw a painting by Master T'ang Pei Hu repre- 
senting someone sleeping beneath begonia branches in early spring, 
and read the following words written to the right and left of it: 

Gentle coolness surrounds the dreamer early spring! 
The breezes which caress him fragrant as wine! 

In silent admiration Pao Yu let his eyes wander round the splendid 
furnishings of the room. Here on the dressing table was a bronze mirror 
which would have done honor to the mirror palace of the Empress Wu 



of the T'ang dynasty. There was a magnificent flat golden dish on which 
the celebrated dancer "Flying Swallow ' might once have danced be- 
fore her Imperial lord. That splendid jewel-studded couch on a raised 
dais would have been worthy to adorn the bedroom of Princess Shou 
Yang iii the Han Chang palace. The strings of pearls which hung 
around the couch might have been fastened there by the hand of 
Princess Tung Chang. 

"What a beautiful room!" cried Pao Yu, enraptured. 
"Yes, isn't it? Even spirits and genii could feel happy here," re- 
marked his niece, smiling. 

Saying this, she threw off the blossom-white bedcover with her own 
hand, and arranged the soft pillow embroidered with mandarin ducks, 
which the "Red Maiden'* might once have clasped to her bosom as she 
yearned for her lover. The swarm of waiting maids and chamberwomen 
helped Pao Yu to undress and put him to bed on the couch; and then 
they all withdrew noiselessly. Pearl and three other chambermaids had 
to keep watch outside the bedroom door. 

"Take good care that the cats do not start fighting under the window 
and disturb your master's rest!" Mistress Yung impressed upon them 
thoughtfully. 

Hardly had Pao Yu shut his eyes than he felt himself carried away 
into a land of dreams. His beautiful niece seemed to hover in front of 
him and lead him to a fairy palace with walls of jasper and pillars and 
balustrades of ruby, surrounded by the rustling of treetops and the mur- 
mur of silver brooks. 

"It's good to be here," he sighed happily in his dream. "I much pre- 
fer being here to being at home, where I am always watched and always 
expecting blame and scoldings from Father and Mother." His guide 
had disappeared in the meantime. He listened. From somewhere or 
other beautiful celestial singing like a woman's voice resounded in his 
ears. Immediately afterwards he saw a most lovely fairy appearing 
from behind a hill and gently floating towards him. Pao Yu raised his 
hands to his breast in greeting and said to her, bowing: "Sister fairy, I 
have lost my way. Would you be so kind as to direct me, and tell me 
who you are?" 

The fairy replied: "I am the Fairy of Fearful Awakening. I live not 
far from here, in the Phantom Realm of the Great Void, in the Sphere 
of Banished Suffering, behind the Drenching Sea of Trouble, on the 
Heights of Liberated Spring, in the Grottoes of Everlasting Perfumes. I 
judge the Play of Wind and Clouds between human beings and settle 
the unbalanced debts of love between unhappy maidens and languish- 
ing youths. It is not chance but destiny which leads me to you today. I 
shall lead you to my kingdom and entertain you in my palace with a 

45 



bowl of celestial tea plucked by myself and a goblet of magic wine 
which I have brewed. My maids shall entertain you with their magic 
dances and sing to you the twelve new spirit songs from 'The Dream of 
the Red Chamber.' Will you follow me?" 

"I will," agreed Pao Yu joyfully and followed the fairy. It was not 
long until the fairy led him through a high stone arch, over which he 
read the inscription : Phantom Realm of the Great Void. On the pillars 
to the right and left was written : 

When seeming is taken for being, being becomes seeming, 

Where nothing is taken for something, something becomes nothing. 

Very shortly they passed through a palace gateway, over which was 
written in big letters: Sea of Lover's Grief and Heaven of the Passions, 
while to right and left stood written: 

Passions without end, old and new, 

Swell broad as the earth, wide as the sky. 

Too late, amorous youth, languishing maid, is your repentance, 

Ah, to atone for the guilt of wind- and moon-play costs pain ! 

That's true, thought Pao Yu to himself, in his innocence. If only I 
knew what is meant by "passions old and new" and by "to atone for the 
guilt of wind- and moon-play." I must certainly find out through per- 
sonal experience. 

In making this resolution he had unconsciously invited the wicked 
demons of sensual agitation to come into his body and take up their 
abode between his heart and his diaphragm. 

After passing through another gateway, they came to a row of 
apartments, on the closed doors of which he read strange inscriptions 
such as Department of Love's Folly, Department of Jealousy, Depart- 
ment of Morning Tears, Department of Night Sighs, Department of 
Spring Grief, Department of Autumn Suffering. 

Pao Yu asked if he might view the different chambers. The fairy 
shook her head. In the apartments, she said, there were registers of the 
memorable destinies of numerous women and girls, of whom some had 
already lived and others were yet to live. To a human being like himself, 
with his profane eyes and his body of dust, it was not to be granted to 
glance into the future. "Follow me," she said. "I have something far 
more beautiful to show you than these tiresome registers." 

Pao Yu followed the fairy farther into the interior of the palace, un- 
til they came to a glittering hall. His eyes were quite dazzled by the 
splendors which appeared before him here: walls of jasper, floors of 
gold mosaic, glistening panes of glass, purple curtains in front of red 
doors, luminous colored pillars, artistically carved roof beams, and all ( 
around gardens full of spirit plants, and marvellous flowers, and rare 

46 



perfumes. While Pao Yu was still sunk in amazed contemplation, he 
heard the fairy call in to the hall: "Come out and greet your worthy 
guest!" Immediately four elves appeared at the entrance. They wore 
light feather garments, lotus leaves hung from their shoulders as sleeves, 
their stride was a dance, their walk was a glide, a gentle radiance like 
autumn moonlight enveloped them. When they noticed Pao Yu, a look 
of disappointment crossed their flower faces, and they said reproach- 
fully to the fairy: "We thought you were bringing Purple Pearl, for 
whom we have waited so long, to visit us. Why do you bring this dirty 
creature here instead, and allow him to soil and profane by his presence 
this dwelling of pure maidens?" 

Pao Yu heard this with shame, and he would have liked to run away 
at once. He was well aware of the fact that they were right, and that 
in the presence of these pure beings he really seemed an insufferably 
dirty person. But the fairy took him kindly by the hand and said to 
the elves with a smile: "You do not know the why and the wherefore 
of my action. I really wanted to go to the Yungkuo palace today, as I 
had promised you, to fetch your sister, Purple Pearl. But as I was pass- 
ing by the Ningkuo palace on my way there, I met the ghosts of the 
two ancestors of the Yungkuo and Ningkuo palaces. They implored 
me to take charge of their descendant Pao Yu. After a hundred years 
of fame and splendor their families are threatened with ruin, and 
among their many great-grandchildren Pao Yu is the only one who 
is capable of perpetuating the race in honor. It is true that he is of a 
somewhat peculiar and frivolous disposition, but his intellect and 
talents justify the greatest hopes. All he lacks is the right guidance. 
Therefore, they earnestly asked me to warn him of the dangers of fool- 
ishly trifling with love and following the instincts without restraint, to 
guard him against pitfalls and allurements and direct him on the right 
path. They would be grateful to me forever if I do this. 

"Moved with pity, I have brought him here in order to have him 
learn and realize the folly of earthly sensual indulgence. Perhaps it will 
be possible to awaken him, so that he will take my warnings to heart 
for his future life, and so become proof against dangers." 

When she had finished speaking she led Pao Yu into the hall. In- 
side, a wave of indescribably sweet perfume, such as he had never 
smelled before, assailed his nostrils. When he asked what the perfume 
came from, the fairy informed him, smiling: "In your world of dust this 
aromatic mixture is quite unknown. It is distilled from the manifold 
juices of precious young plants and rare trees which grow on holy 
mountains. It is called the Marrow of Gathered Perfumes." 

They sat down at the table and drank a most wonderful tea, such as 
Pao Yu had never before tasted. 

48 



"What is the name of this kind of tea?" he asked. 

"A thousand red drops in one mouthful," replied the fairy. "The 
shrub grows near the Grottoes of Everlasting Perfumes on the Heights 
of Liberated Spring, and its leaves are boiled in the morning dew of 
magic flowers and plants." 

"It is a wonderful tea!" said Pao Yu approvingly, nodding his head. 
He looked around the room once more. His glance fell on jewel-studded 
lutes, precious tripods, incense vessels, old paintings, new mottoes on 
the walls. Nothing required for the equipment of a comfortable living 
room was lacking. There were even velvet dusters hanging under the 
windows to wipe away the dust from time to time. Then he asked the 
names of the elves. The fairy introduced them: Elf of Amorous Dreams, 
Great Mistress of Passion, Golden Maiden of Sorrowful Longing, 
Bodhisattva of Avenged Lovers' Rancor. 

Meantime young maidservants had laid the table. They now carried 
in a sumptuous meal and filled amber goblets with a choice golden wine 
from crystal jugs. 

"What is this wonderful wine?" asked Pao Yu. 

"It is prepared from the pollen of a hundred flowers, the juices of a 
thousand plants, the marrow of unicorns, and the milk of the phoenix, 
and it is called A Thousand Delights in One Goblet." 

Pao Yu did not weary of drinking the wine freely and praising it 
fervently. Meantime twelve dancing maidens had appeared and taken 
up positions in front of the table. 

"To what text shall we dance?" they asked the fairy. 

"To the twelve new spirit songs from 'The Dream of the Red 
Chamber'!" the fairy ordered. 

The dancers bowed obediently and began to sing and dance to the 
gentle music of their twelve-stringed silver lutes and the measure of 
their sandalwood castanets. In order that he might understand it bet- 
ter, the fairy ordered a servant to hand her guest the written text of the 
twelve songs, and now he sat and tried to understand the meaning of 
the performance, listening to the music while his eyes followed the text. 
Yet his efforts were in vain. True,' he could not escape the effect of the 
music, but what the text, with its many cryptic sayings and hidden 
allusions, might mean remained a complete mystery to him. But the 
melody was so exquisite and charming and so superbly performed as 
to bewitch the mind and intoxicate the senses, and he asked no trouble- 
some questions in the intervals, but only listened to the music while 
just reading the text mechanically. 

At last the girls had finished the long performance of the twelve 
ings. Actually, they were about to continue with a last refrain, but 

40 



the fairy, who had noticed the sleepy indifference of her guest, signed 
to them to go away. 

"It was all in vain," she sighed. "The fool has remained un- 
awakened." 

Pao Yu was glad that the fairy stopped the performance, and he him- 
self hurriedly called out to the girls not to sing any more. He felt ex- 
hausted and sleepy from the meal and the abundance of wine, and asked 
if he might lie down for a while. 

The fairy gave orders to clear away, and had Pao Yu led into one 
of the women's chambers. He thought he had never in his life seen such 
luxurious furnishings as he saw here. But a still greater surprise awaited 
him. He found in the room a young girl who resembled his cousin 
Precious Clasp in form and beauty but in expression and demeanor was 
the image of his cousin Black Jade. While he was still feeling quite 
dazed, he heard the fairy say: "Ah, how many green-windowed inner 
chambers in the houses of the rich and aristocratic of this world of dust 
are misused by frivolous youth for sinful amorous play! The reason 
that I take such a kindly interest in you is that you are the most in- 
veterate amorous profligate of all time." 

Pao Yu stammered, abashed: "Sister fairy, you are mistaken. It may 
be that I am lazy at lessons and have brought on myself deserved 
parental rebuke. But I am not aware that I am an amorous profligate. 
After all, I am still too young and I do not know what it is to be 
profligate in love." 

"There are two kinds of amorous profligates, the carnal apd the 
intellectual ones. The first strives only for physical possession; he is in- 
satiable in his sensual desires, and regrets he cannot have all the beau- 
tiful women and girls under heaven as prey for his lusts. You do m be- 
long to that category, but to the second. Your dissolute desire s ;eks 
the intellectual company of girls, therefore you would have been t uite 
a suitable mate for the women's apartments of our spirit kingd >m; 
whereas in the world of dust you will not be understood; there you will 
become an object of mockery and contempt. Touched by the plead ngs 
of your two ancestors, I have led you into my kingdom, welcomed you 
with magic tea and fairy wine, and tried to awaken you with spirit 
songs. Now I present to you my younger sister, Ko Ching, so that she 
may share your couch tonight. The hour for your union is favorable. 
The joys of this bridal couch in our Phantom Realm will enable you to 
form an estimate of the delights of the bridal chamber in your world 
of dust. From today on wake up and change your former ways! Direct 
your mind to the wise teachings of the Masters Confucius and Mencius 
and resolutely tread the path of common sense." 

When she had finished speaking she confided to him some further in- 

50 



timate information regarding the practice of the "Play of Cloud and 
Rain." Then she shut him into the chamber. Still quite confused and 
stupefied, Pao Yu followed her instructions and carried out with Ko 
Ching that time-honored practice of which an exhaustive description 
would no doubt be superfluous. 

The two found so much delight in each other and had so many 
caressing and affectionate words to say to one another that they did 
not want to part the next morning. Hand in hand, they walked out of 
the palace and got lost wandering about. They were so engrossed in 
each other that they did not notice the road at all. Suddenly they found 
themselves in a wilderness of thorn bushes and thick brushwood and 
saw that wolves and tigers were their travelling companions. Then the 
road suddenly came to an end. They were standing on the bank of a 
dark rushing stream, over which no bridge led. While they were still 
hesitating as to where they should flee from the wild beasts which were 
pursuing them, they heard the warning voice of the fairy behind them, 
crying: "Stop! Do not go farther! Turn back!" 

"Where are we?" asked Pao Yu. 

"At the Witches' River," cried the fairy. "It is a thousand fathoms 
deep and runs a thousand li in zigzag windings. No boat and no boat- 
man can find the way through this labyrinthine stream. Only the old 
ferryman Mu Ku Chi would be able to take you across in his raft. But 
he does not do this for gold or silver; he does it only if Destiny com- 
mands him. If he does not help you, then you are lost, and all my 
trouble will have been in vain. . . ." She had not finished speaking 
when a sound like a peal of thunder came from the Witches' River, and 
a swarm of night demons and river devils rose up from the river with 
a roaring sound and came fluttering up to Pao Yu shrieking terribly, 
to seize him and drag him into the depths of the river. Cold sweat 
dripped from his body like rain, and in his terror he cried out: "Ko 
Ching, save me!" 

Thereupon he woke up from his dream. The maid Pearl was sitting 
on the bed with the three other maids, and she clasped him tenderly 
to her with comforting words: "Do not be afraid, Pao Yu! We are 
here!'' 

Pao Yu had cried out so ioudly in his dream that his cry was heard 
outside by liis niece, the beautiful Mistress Yung. "No one in the whole 
house knows my childhood name," she said to herself surprised. "How 
is it that he called me by my childhood name in his dream?" 

She was not able to explain it, but she did not dare to ask the 
dreamer. 



51 



CHAPTER 6 

Pao Yu tries for the first time the "Play of Cloud and Rain." In the 
Ningkuo palace he becomes acquainted with his nephew Chin Chung. 

lAO Yu LAY ON THE BED FOR A WHILE LONGER, QUITE EXHAUSTED AND 

giddy from the experience of his dream. He felt as if he had lost some- 
thing. Having strengthened himself with a few sips of cinnamon soup, 
he got up and the maid Pearl helped him to dress. As she was about to 
fasten his garter her finger chanced to touch his bare thigh and she 
felt something like cold, sticky sweat. She drew her hand back in alarm. 

"What has happened to you?" she whispered. His blush and a light 
pressure of the hand was the answer. Now, Pearl was quite an intelli- 
gent girl and besides she was two years older than he and already knew 
the facts of life. She understood at once, blushed herself, and did not 
ask anything more. 

When she was helping him to undress again that same night before 
he went to bed, she happened to be in the room with him alone for a 
while. 

"Look here, dear sister, you will keep it to yourself, won't you?" he 
begged her, blushing again. 

"What did you actually dream, that this happened to you?" she re- 
plied, with an understanding smile. 

"I cannot tell it all to you in one word." And he began to describe 
his dream adventure in detail. When he came to the part of his story 
where the fairy instructed him in the practice of the "Play of Cloud and 
Rain," Pearl coyly covered her face with her hands and doubled up 
with laughter. Pao Yu had always been very familiar with Pearl. He 
liked the friendly, pretty little thing better than all the other maids and 
servants. Pearl on her part was aware of the special position of con- 
fidence with which the Princess Ancestress had honored her. Because 
of this she permitted herself some liberties in her association with her 
charge. 

In short, she did not hesitate to try out at once with him the "Play 
of Cloud and Rain," whereby they faithfully followed the instructions 
imparted to him. Luckily, they were left undisturbed while thus oc- 
cupied. From that hour he no longer treated her as a servant but as an 
intimate friend, and she rewarded his confidence with still rnqre ardeni 
devotion. 

One day Madame Phoenix was over in the Ningkuo palace visiting 
Princess Chen and her daughter-in-law Mistress Yung. At his own re- 
quest she had taken Pao Yu with her. While the three ladies were con- 
versing as usual about household matters the time seemed very long to 

52 



him. Mistress Yung, who noticed that he was restlessly fidgeting about 
this way and that way on his seat, said to him: 

"My younger brother, for whom you recently asked, happens to be 
here today. He is probably in the library now. If you like, go and wel- 
come him!" 

Pao Yu quickly slid down from the heated divan. 

"Why do you not have him come here? I should also like to make 
his acquaintance," suggested Madame Phoenix. "Or perhaps I should 
not ask to?" 

Mistress Yung tried to dissuade her from her request. The boy was 
so shy and simple, quite different from the cheeky, lively boys of the 
Chia clan. She would be disappointed and would only be inclined to 
laugh at him. But Madame Phoenix stuck to her request, and so to 
please her Chin Chung, for so the boy was called, was brought in. 
Madame Phoenix was most agreeably surprised. The boy, who bowed 
to her and politely inquired about her health, compared very well with 
Pao Yu, who was the same age. He was somewhat slimmer than the 
latter, but in beauty of face and form, in liveliness of expression, in his 
whole deportment and his charm of manner, he almost surpassed him, 
except that he was a little shy and awkward, almost like a girl. Madame 
Phoenix took him by the hand, drew him down to her side, and began 
questioning him energetically abobt his name, age, lessons, and every- 
thing possible. Meantime she had hurriedly sent some servants of her 
retinue back to the Yungkuo palace belatedly to fetch some gifts such 
as are usually presented by the elder to the younger upon first meeting. 
Bearing in mind the close friendship between Madame Phoenix and 
Mistress Yung, they chose some specially valuable presents, namely, a 
piece of silk for a new coat, and two gold medallions inscribed with the 
wish that the owner would win first place at examinations. Madame 
Phoenix considered these gifts too insignificant, so great was her sym- 
pathy for her new nephew. 

While the ladies then settled down to a game of chess, Pao Yu took 
the opportunity of leaving the table with his nephew and going to chat 
with him undisturbed in a side room. The boy had made a deep im- 
pression on him. When he first saw him, he thought to himself, quite 
abashed: Compared to such a person I am no better than a dirty pig 
or a mangy dog! Who knows, if I, like him, had grown up in the cold 
poverty of a simple, honorable, middle-class family, I might have made 
his valuable acquaintance long ago and not dawdled away my time 
uselessly as I have done up to now. What is the good of riches and 
rank? This silk finery which I wear only hides the hollow, rotten core of 
an inferior being. These luxurious meals, on which I feed every day, 

53 



only conceal the dirty refuse-pit of a corrupt character. The two con- 
ceptions, riches and rank, mean nothing hut dirt and poison ! 

The painful reflection of Chin Chung upon seeing Pao Yu for the 
first time, in all his finery and with his large retinue, was exactly the 
opposite. Oh, what misfortune, he mused, to come from a poor, even 
though honorable, civil service family! That is indeed the curse of 
poverty, that it sets up an insurmountable barrier between people like 
him and people like me. If it were not for that I should probably long 
ago have enjoyed the advantage of his company. 

Thus, both one and the other of them was moved by confused, fool- 
ish reflections. After a few opening questions about books and studies, 
they became friendly. Pao Yu was so eager to get to know the inner 
family circumstances of his new companion that he quite forgot about 
the dainty morsels and fruits which had been sent over to them from 
the table. He learned that at the moment Chin was without schooling, 
as his previous tutor had had leave of absence for months past. His 
father was old, sickly, and overburdened with official duties, and there- 
fore unable to bother much about his education. AH he could do at 
present was to go through his old lessons over and over again, but un- 
fortunately he lacked the company of a good comrade, for one could 
learn much better in company than alone. 

"That is what I think too!" interrupted Pao Yu eagerly. "You know 
we have a free family school here for those members of the clan who 
cannot have their own tutor or do not want to keep one. At my father's 
wish I myself am soon going to attend this school for a time; for my 
former tutor has also got several months' leave, and my father does not 
want to have me sittjng around idle meantime, forgetting what I have 
learned. I would have been attending the school long ago if I had not 
been ill. Besides, Grandmother was against it up to now, because she 
thinks that in a class with a lot of pupils there would be nothing but 
disturbance and mad pranks. But my father now insists that there must 
be an end to my idling. Would you not like to come to our school too? 
Then we could learn together and help one another. Won't you speak to 
your father about it?" 

"With pleasure! Only recently my father greatly praised the insti- 
tution of your family school. In fact, he has been intending to apply 
to my sister's father-in-law, Prince Chen, to accept me. But he has put 
off doing so again and again because he did not like to bother his il- 
lustrious relatives about such a trifle, and did not wish to seem ob- 
trusive. But if my uncle thinks that his nephew would be of any use to 
him in the school, maybe to stir the India ink or to clean his writing 
implements, perhaps he would see about the matter himself and put in 
a word of recommendation? How grand it would be if we could study 



together! Besides, we could become real friends and give our parents 
less to worry about. There would be many advantages in it." 

"Do not worry ! I will speak about it to my grandmother at once. We 
will also tell your sister Yung and my sister-in-law Feng of our wishes, 
and you yourself must talk to your father. Then we shall see if the 
thing can be managed." 

Meantime darkness had fallen and the time had come to get their 
lanterns. The two finished their earnest consultation, joined the com- 
pany at the table again, and watched the ladies playing chess for 
a while. Princess Chen and Mistress Yung lost the game to Madame 
Phoenix and pledged themselves to pay their gambling debt by stand- 
ing a banquet and theater the evening after next. Then they sat down 
again for an evening snack, after which the guests started to depart. 

"Who is going to take Chin Chung home?" Princess Chen asked her 
women attendants. 

"The majordomo has ordered Chiao Ta to do so," they said: "He is 
tipsy again and in his usual abusive humor." 

"It is just too stupid to choose that old boor as an escort," ex- 
claimed both Princess Chen and Mistress Yung at the same time, with 
annoyance. "But to cancel the order now would only irritate the old 
man." 

"Is the carriage ready?" asked Madame Phoenix, turning to her at- 
tendants. 

"It is waiting in front of the great hall," they replied. Madame 
Phoenix said good-by, took Pao Yu by the hand, and walked through 
the brightly illuminated hall between a solemn double row of silent 
servants to the carriage. Among the servants was old Chiao Ta, who was 
so drunk that he could not be prevented, even before the visitors, from 
disturbing the stately farewell ceremony by kicking up a horrible row 
and uttering filthy abuse. His rancor was directed against the major- 
domo Lai Sheng: "Is that the thing to do, to chase out an old man like 
me on a cold winter's night?" he howled at him. "When there's an un- 
pleasant job to be done, I'm good enough for it, but for a nice job 
there are others. Is that justice? And to think that such a clumsy, blind 
tortoise should be majordomo! But beware that old Chiao Ta does not 
raise his foot and crush you, you miserable worm!" 

During this volley of abuse Chia Yung walked through the hall by 
the side of Madame Phoenix and escorted her to her carriage. When 
the old man would not stop reviling, in spite of appeals from the other 
servants, Chia Yung rebuked him angrily: 

"Will you shut up at last? If not, I will have you tied and locked up 
until you are sober again! And we shall see if you get out this time 
safe and sound!" 

56 



But the angry old man refused to be intimidated. He walked up to 
him menacingly, shouting: "Little friend, don't play the great gentle- 
man before old Chiao Ta! If your forefathers did not dare to reprimand 
old Chiao Ta, how dare you, little cock, start cackling! Where would 
all your greatness be today without old Chiao Ta? Nine times I 
snatched your grandfather from the jaws of death! It was he who piled 
up all your riches. Is this treatment the thanks I get for my good serv- 
ices? Instead of rewarding me properly, you blow yourself up like a 
frog and play the great gentleman! The least I can expect is that you 
keep your mouth shut. Otherwise, just take care that my sword does 
not go into your body white and come out red!" 

"Why have you not got rid of that dangerous old bandit long ago?" 
whispered Madame Phoenix to her nephew from the carriage window, 
disgusted at the painful scene. "He is endangering the reputation of the 
whole family and making you a laughingstock before the people." 

"You are right," agreed her nephew, nodding; and he ordered the 
servants to fetter the old man and lock him up in an empty shed near 
the stable. While they were dragging him away by force, Chiao Ta con- 
tinued to shout and rage. "I will go to the Temple of the Ancestors and 
complain, to the great old master! He shall learn what a clean-living 
brood he has left behind! Whoring like rutting dogs and fowls; cousins 
and brothers-in-law carrying on together 'scratching in the ashes' 
that's all the accursed brood is good for! . . ." 

In the face of this horrible, grossly obscene speech, which caused the 
sun to disappear behind the clouds in shame, and made the souls of the 
listeners almost leave their bodies in horror, the servants who were 
dragging him away could do nothing but stop his mouth with mud and 
horse manure. 

Madame Phoenix and her nephew Yung, who understood every word 
of his abusive speech, behaved nevertheless as if they had heard noth- 
ing. But Pao Yu, in his innocence, could not refrain from asking 
Madame Phoenix during the journey in the carriage: "Sister, what did 
he mean by the expression 'scratching in the ashes'?" 

Violently angry, which was quite unusual for her, she rebuked him: 
"Do not ask stupid questions! You not only listen to the foolish chatter 
of a drunkard, but have to ask questions about it! Just wait until I tell 
your grandmother! You will pay for this with a thrashing!" 

"Ah, dear big sister, please do not tell on me! I certainly will not 
ask such a stupid question again," pleaded the frightened Pao Yu. In- 
deed, he would not have asked if he had known that the expression 'to 
scratch in the ashes' referred to illicit association between a father-in- 
law and a daughter-in-law. 

"Very well, dear child,'' said Madame Phoenix, quickly appeased. 

57 



"And when we are home I shall speak to Grandmother and ask her for 
your sake to help to have your nephew Chin Chung admitted to your 
school." 



CHAPTER 7 

Poo Yu is shown the gold amulet of his girl cousin. The girl cousin is 
shown Pao Yu's stone. 

1 WO DAYS LATER THERE WAS A GREAT BANQUET AND THEATRICAL PER- 

formance given in the Ningkuo palace in honor of the relatives in the 
Yungkuo palace. Pao Yu missed his cousin Precious Clasp in the crowd. 
He had not seen her for days. He was told that she was not quite well and 
was keeping to her room. He so longed to see her again that, early that 
afternoon, while the rest of the family was still together, he accom- 
panied the Princess Ancestress back to the Yungkuo palace, and was 
able then to steal off to the Pear Garden by unfrequented side paths, 
untroubled by tedious attendants and undesired watchers. He first 
politely greeted Aunt Hsueh who was sitting over some sewing with her 
maids. She embraced him warmly. 

"How touchingly thoughtful of you to come over to see your aunt 
in this cold weather! But get up here quickly on the warm kang! And 
then strengthen yourself with a bowl of hot tea!" 

"Is Cousin Hsueh Pan at home?" asked Pao Yu. 

"Ah, I have great trouble with this playboy," sighed Aunt Hsueh. 
"He is like a horse without a bridle or halter. Not a single day does 
he spend at home." 

"Is Precious Clasp well again?" 

"Yes, thank you, she is. It was very kind of you to send someone 
over lately to ask how she was. She is in her room now. You can go in 
and visit her. It is warmer there than here. I will follow later on; I want 
to clear up my work here first." 

Pao Yu accepted her suggestion only too willingly. He slid down 
quickly from the kang and rushed off to the room with the red brocade 
curtain before the door. Lifting the curtain, he stepped inside. There he 
found Precious Clasp sitting on the heated divan, likewise busy with 
her needle and thread. Her hair was tied in a loose knot on top of her 
head. It was black as lacquer and shone like oil. She wore a honey- 
colored padded coat, a pink waistcoat trimmed with two-colored gold 
and silver squirrel fur, and a short onion-colored slit tunic. Her lips 
needed no rouge, her blue black brows no brush; her face was smooth 
as a silver dish, and her eyes were like almonds swimming in water. 
The fact that she was so sparing of her words and so prudent in her 

58 



speech was interpreted by many as pose and affection. "I am on the 
guard against foolishness," she was wont to say, explaining her cautious 
way. 

"Are you well and cheerful again, sister?" asked Pao Yu. 

"I am very much better," she replied, and, smiling, invited him to 
sit down beside her on the warmed divan. The maid Oriole came and 
poured out tea. There were some conventional inquiries for Grand- 
mother, aunts, and cousins, and at last the conversation became per- 
sonal. Now her eyes were fixed on the five-colored cord from which 
dangled the precious stone. 

"I have heard so much about your stone, may I look at it closely 
just once?" she asked. As she spoke she came nearer to him. He also 
sidled up a little closer to her, took the cord with the stone from his 
neck, and laid it in her hand. Precious Clasp looked attentively at the 
shining thing in the palm of her hand. It was about the size of a spar- 
row's egg and shone with a subdued pinkish hue like light morning 
clouds, and it felt as smooth to the touch as clotted cream. It was con- 
tained in a fine protective net. 

On the front of the stone was written in minute script: "Stone of 
penetrating spiritual power." Under this were two lines, each consisting 
of four symbols: 

Never lose me, never forget me! 
Glorious life lasting prosperity! 

On the back were three lines, each of four engraved characters. 

First: I drive away wicked spirits. 
Second: I cure you of trouble of mind. 
Third: I announce happiness and misfortune. 

Precious Clasp hummed twice in a low voice: 

Never lose me, never forget me! ' 
Glorious life lasting prosperity! 

Then she looked at the maid. Oriole, who was standing beside her. 
"Why do you stand there gaping instead of making haste and pouring 
the tea?" she asked. 

Oriole answered with a giggle: "The two lines which you have just 
repeated are quite familiar to me. They are very much like the lines on 
the gold medallion around your neck." 

"Is it possible?" interrupted Pao Yu quickly. "You" wear a medallion 
with eight similar ideographs? Do let me see it!" 

"Nonsense! Do not listen to her chatter!" objected Precious Clasp, 
laughing. 

But Pao Yu insisted. 

59 



"I have shown my amulet, so do me the same favor, dear sister, 
please ! " he begged. 

Precious Clasp could resist no longer. 

"Well, it is true. I also wear an amulet. If it were not for the lucky 
inscription I would not drag around the heavy, awkward thing with 
me every day." 

With these words she loosened the clasp of her chain and showed the 
piece of jewelry which had been hidden under the seam of her dress. It 
was a massive golden medallion, studded with pearls and jewels. Pao 
Yu took it out of her hand and held it eagerly before his eyes. Right 
enough, there on the front and the back were eight characters likewise 
engraved in minute script. They read: 

Never leave me, never reject me! 
Precious youth lasting bloom! 

Pao Yu read the two lines twice aloud. 

"They complement the lines of my stone exactly; together they form 
a four-line stanza!" he cried, joyfully surprised. 

"A mangy-headed bonze once gave her the lines, and advised her to 
have them engraved on a gold medallion," Oriole threw in importantly. 

"That's enough. Stir yourself and pour out our tea!" said Precious 
Clasp, cutting short her chatter. 

"Where have you come from?" she said, turning to her visitor and 
changing the delicate conversation. But Pao Yu did not hear her ques- 
tion; his attention was fixed on the strange fragrance which emanated 
from her. For when viewing the amulet they had drawn close to each 
other. 

"What perfume have you used, sister?" he wanted to know. "I have 
never smelled it before." 

"Perfume?" she said slowly. "I am not in the habit of spoiling my 
good clothes with perfume." Then, after a moment's reflection, she con- 
tinued quickly: "You're right', it must be the smell of the medicine 
which I took this morning." 

"What is the name of your medicine?" 

"Pills of cold balsam." 

"Oh, let me also taste those fragrant pills!" he begged. 

"You silly thing!" she burst out, laughing. "How can one swallow 
any rnedicine at random!" 

They stopped short in their conversation. The voice of a servant 
announced from outside: 

"Miss Ling is here!" 

And immediately Black Jade entered. 

"Oh, am I disturbing you?" she asked, smiling, with a hurried glance 

60 



at the pair. Pao Yu had risen and politely offered her his place on the 
warmed divan. 

"And why should you disturb us?" said Precious Clasp casually. 

"I just thought . . . naturally, I would not have come if I knew that 
he was here." 

"I don't see what you mean," replied Precious Clasp coolly. 

"I mean that it would be far nicer for you if you did not have all of 
us visiting you at the same time, and then have no visitors at all. Better 
have him today and me tomorrow. That would give more variety and 
better distribution of our visits. You would not feel either too neglected 
or too much besieged. Is that so difficult to understand?" 

"Is it snowing outside?" asked Pao Yu, to change the conversation, 
pointing to Black Jade's red cloak. 

"It has been for a long time," the voice of his nurse, Mother Li, who 
had accompanied Black Jade, replied from outside. 

"Bring me over my raincoat," Pao Yu called out to her. 

"Ah, when I come, he must go, of course," remarked Black Jade 
pointedly. 

"Who said that I wanted to go now? I only wanted my ccat to be 
here for later on when we're going," he said, trying to pacify the over- 
sensitive cousin. 

Pao Yu and his two cousins passed in to the living room, where Aunt 
Hsueh had meantime set a table with all kinds of sweet dishes and 
dainties. Pao Yu had recently praised a dish of geesefeet and ducks' 
tongues which he had eaten at Princess Chen's for the first time. To 
please him Aunt Hsueh had had this dish prepared for him today. 

"But it tastes even better with some wine," the spoiled Pao Yu re- 
marked. Aunt Hsueh thereupon sent for the very best wine which she 
had in the house. 

"No wine, please!" his old nurse, Mother Li, objected. 

"Just one goblet!" he begged. 

"No!" insisted Mother Li severely. "If your mother or grandmother 
were present you could drink a whole jugful for all I would care. But 
I am responsible for you now, and I do not want to get into trouble as 
I did lately when some fool gave you wine the moment I turned my 
back. I had to bear reproaches for days on end over that. You do not 
know, Tai tai, what a rascal he is, and what he can do when he has even 
one drop of wine," she said, turning to Aunt Hsueh. 

"All right, do not excite yourself so much, old nurse!" said Aunt 
Hsueh, laughing, to calni her. "You shall have a goblet yourself too. In 
this weather wine is good for one, to protect one against colds. I shall 
take care that he does not drink too much, and I shall be responsible 
for him to his grandmother." 

61 



Mother Li yielded, and was taken into the servants' room by a maid, 
to share a cup of wine with the others. 

"But, please, cold wine! I do not care for it warm," Pao Yu was 
heard again. 

"I can only allow you to have it warmed," objected Aunt Hsueh. 
"Cold wine makes one's hand shake when writing." 

"At home you have the opportunity every day of increasing your 
knowledge, and you do not yet know anything about the nature of 
wine?" Precious Clasp added somewhat sarcastically and precociously. 
"Wine makes one hot and rises to the head. But one can do away with 
this effect if one takes the wine warm. Cold wine, on the. other hand, 
runs through the body and spreads its harmful influences through all 
the five intestines." 

What was said by such a beautiful mouth must of course be right 
and sensible, so he had the warm wine served to him. 

But it was not a matter of just one goblet. As soon as that strict 
watcher, Mother Li, had withdrawn, he could drink to his heart's con- 
tent, encouraged by Aunt Hsueh. At last, towards evening, he was 
slightly tipsy and so tired from all the drinking that he would have liked 
to accept Aunt Hsueh 's invitation to spend the night in her house. But 
Black Jade who did not like his intimacy with the Hsueh family, was 
able to prevent it. 

"Are you not thinking of going home at last?" she asked him. 

His dull eyes blinked at her. "When you go. I will go with you," 
he replied. 

Whereupon Black Jade immediately rose and bade farewell. He fol- 
lowed her example politely, and asked for his wraps. When the maid, 
Snowgoose, put the broad-rimmed, reddish-brown, monkey-fur winter 
hat somewhat awkwardly on his bent head, he pulled it off again and re- 
buked her angrily. 

"Let me do it!" said Black Jade hurriedly running over to him. He 
willingly submitted. How gently and carefully her delicate fingers 
manipulated his coiffure! So skillfully did she fix his hat on his head 
that his hair remained unruffled; the inner hatband fitted against his 
forehead exactly, and the red velvet tassel the size of a walnut dangled 
down to just below the rim. 

At home, on account of his tipsiness he was not taken in to the 
evening meal but sent straight to bed. The maid, Bright Cloud, was 
awaiting him in his room. 

"Well, you're a nice one ! " she greeted him, laughing, pointing to the 
writing table where the writing implements were still lying just as she 
had left them for him in the morning. "You got me to prepare a whole 
lot of India ink for you this morning, and you wrote only three charac- 

62 



ters. Then off you went. I waited for you here all day in vain. But now, 
set to work quickly and write until the supply of India ink is ex- 
hausted!" 

"Where are the three characters you spoke of?" he wanted to know. 

"Indeed, you must be tipsy! When you left this morning you told me 
to fasten the characters outside on top of the door. I went up on the 
ladder myself and did the job for you. My fingers were quite stiff with 
cold." 

"Ah, I remember now. Give me your hand. I'll warm it in mine!" 

He took her by the hand and drew her with him outside the door to 
look at the characters on the door. Just then Black Jade came along. 

"Dear sister, please say quite honestly which of the three characters, 
in your opinion, have I done best?" he asked anxiously. 

Black Jade looked up. There, resplendently drawn in three large 
characters, stood the proud inscription: Purple Chamber of the Fra- 
grance of Culture. 

"I find all three characters simply masterly," she approved, with a 
smile. "What about painting a beautiful inscription like that for my 
room?" 

"Ah, go on. You are just making fun of me. But where is Pearl?" 

Bright Cloud curled her lips and pointed to the bed. Pearl had made 
herself comfortable there. She lay in her clothes, apparently sound 
asleep. 

"Very early to go to sleep," he remarked, laughing. Then he re- 
flected for a moment. 

"Where are the curd balls, which I had sent here from the midday 
meal? I asked sister-in-law Chen to send some over, as I wanted to eat 
them in the evening. They were meant for you, as you like them so 
much." 

"I thought at once they were meant for me and was Idoking forward 
to eating them in the evening. But then Mother Li came along and 
took them. You had already eaten quite enough, and she would prefer 
to give them to her grandchild, she said." 

Another maid brought him tea. 

"A bowl for Cousin Ling as well," he ordered. 

"She has gone long ago," they laughingly told him. 

He drank just one mouthful, then stopped. 

"But I had maple tea made for me this morning, and I said distinctly 
that it was to be infused and drawn off three or four times, for only then 
does it taste good. Why do you give me this other tea?" 

"I had prepared a pot of maple tea for you," replied the maid, "but 
Mother Li drank it." 

63 



In a rage Pao Yu flung the full china bowl to the ground, so that it 
crashed in fragments and the contents splashed the maid's skirt. 

"Mother Li! It's always Mother Li! Who is she, anyway, that every- 
one must submit to her and die of awe before her? She nursed me for 
a bit when I was a child, that's all! That does not give her the right to 
put on airs here as if she were the Princess Ancestress herself. She 
must be chased from the house, then it will be better for all of us." And 
he would have gone straight off to his grandmother to complain of her 
if the maid Pearl had not intervened. Pearl had only been pretending 
to be asleep. She wanted to allure him when he returned and found her 
there before him on the bed, so that he would flirt with her and make 
love to her. She had not bothered to listen to the preceding discussion 
about the three written characters and the curd balls, but the crash of 
the smashed teacup made her jump up nimbly to try to calm him. At 
the same moment a servant sent by the Princess Ancestress came to ask 
the reason 'of the noise. 

"It is nothing, really," countered Pearl, before he had time to 
speak. "I was pouring out tea and I slipped because there was snow on 
my shoes; so the cup fell out of my hand and got broken." 

And when the servant had gone she continued, turning to Pao Yu: 
"If you want to drive Mother Li away we others shall go too. No doubt 
you will find it easy to get better than us." 

He remained silent and allowed himself to be undressed and put to 
bed. Very soon his tired eyes closed. Pearl did not forget to take the 
stone amulet from his neck and put it carefully wrapped in a handker- 
chief under his pillow, so that it would be nicely warm next morning 
and not harm him by making his bare neck cold. 

Early the next day the nephew Yung from the Ningkuo palace ar- 
rived accompanied by his brother-in-law Chin Chung, to present the 
latter to the Princess Ancestress. The old lady was just as charmed by 
the young boy as were the other ladies of the house. He was kept for 
the midday meal and loaded with gifts on leaving. The Princess An- 
cestress gave him a purse and a golden statuette of . the divinity of 
letters. She considered him a suitable companion and schoolfellow 
for Pao Yu and gladly agreed that he should be accepted into the 
family school. 

"You live far away from here," she said to him, "and in very hot or 
in frosty weather you will find the journey too much. At such times you 
can remain here for as long as you like and stay with your uncle Pao 
Yu. It is better for two to study here at home than to associate with a 
pack of lazy young rascals." 

Chin Chung's father was highly pleased with the good reception 

64 



which his offspring had been given by his aristocratic relatives and was 
very glad that the question of the boy's education had now been solved 
without the humiliating necessity of a visit of petition. He saw that his 
son would be in the best hands in a school of which the Principal was 
the worthy old Chia Tai Ju, a splendid scholar and Confucian. Of course 
he could not avoid paying a formal visit to the latter and giving him 
the customary gift of money. He did not wish to be too much behind 
the better-placed parents of other boys in this matter. Thus, this little 
insignificant governor's secretary had to pinch and scrape and calculate 
in every way in order to get together the entrance gift of twenty-five 
silver pieces proper for a person of his station. After the father and son 
had paid their respects and presented their gift to the Principal, the 
uncle and nephew set out for the school on a lucky day which Pao Yu 
had chosen in the calendar. The next chapter will tell of the riotous in- 
cidents which were to take place in the school soon afterwards. 



CHAPTER 8 

Chia Cheng reprimands his delinquent offspring. lU-behaved boys 
create a disturbance in the school. 

I HE DAY PICKED OUT IN THE CALENDAR TOR THE FIRST ATTENDANCE 
at the school had arrived. The maid Pearl had risen early and got ready 
the writing materials and books for her master, and now she sat sadly 
waiting on the edge of his bed for him to wake up. As she helped him 
to dress he noticed her dejected look. 

"Dear sister, why do you look so unhappy?" he asked her. "I hope 
you do not feel cast aside and unwanted now, because I am going to 
school?" 

"It is not that," she replied, smiling. "One has to be educated, other- 
wise one gets nowhere in life. But just now I have been thinking one 
should not overdo even learning. Study is like food: too much doesn't 
agree with you. You must consider .your health and enjoy a little leisure 
sometimes. During study keep your attention only on your books, but 
in your hours of leisure think of the people at home who are near to 
you. And one thing more: do not get involved in any trouble or fights 
with your fellow students. You know that your father won't stand for 
any nonsense. It has been on my mind to remind you of that before 
you go." 

Pao Yu promised to take her advice to heart. 

"You will probably be freezing in the sdioolroom," she continued. 
"Anyway, I have packed up a fur coat for you; I have also given your 
servants a hand-warmer for you. But you must ask for these things 

65 



when you are cold. The lazy rascals will not stir a hand for you on their 
own. Do think of your health!" 

"Thank you, I will certainly take care of myself. But you need not 
sit here all the time in my room while I am away, getting bored to 
death. Go over to Cousin Black Jade and talk to her." 

On Pearl's advice he also took leave of his grandmother and his 
parents before going off. The last person he went to see was his stern 
father, Chia Cheng. Today it happened that the latter was back early 
from his office and entertaining some visitors in the library. In the midst 
of the conversation his son entered and, falling on his knees, offered 
his greeting tsing an and announced that he was going to school. 
Mr. Cheng regarded him with a contemptuous smile. "Do not disgrace 
me before these worthy gentlemen with your jabbering about 'going 
to school,' " he said mockingly. "For all I care you may go on with 
your childish tricks, but kindly leave me in peace! Your presence soils 
this respectable place." 

"Do not be so stern, worthy old friend!" his visitors, who had risen 
from their seats, urged him benignly. "Let our young nephew go to his 
school happy. He will certainly get over his boyish ways soon and make 
a glorious name for himself in two or three years. And you, esteemed 
nephew, should not dally here, but say farewell, for it is almost dinner- 
time." 

And two of the worthy gentlemen took Pao Yu between them and led 
him out of the room. 

"Who is accompanying him?" asked Mr. Cheng of the retinue of 
servants who were waiting for his son outside the door. Four strong 
fellows came forward, bowed their knee, and offered their tsing an. 
Mr. Cheng turned to the biggest of them, who was called Li Kwei and 
was a son of the nurse Mother Li. "You, fellow, are responsible to me 
for him!" he said. "What has he learned up to now? Nothing but 
empty words and jumbled phrases. His belly is full of cunning wicked- 
ness. But just wait! As soon as I have leisure I will have you stripped 
naked and then we shall settle our accounts over this useless rascal!" 
In utter consternation Li Kwei pulled off his cap and touched his head 
to the ground. 

"Old Governor," he stammered, "this miserable fellow would not 
dare to lie to you. But the young Governor already really knows by 
heart three parts of the holy book of Shih Ching, the Book of Songs. 
He has come to the part which tells of the stag crying in the distance 
and the lotus leaf drifting on the waves." 

These particulars caused the worthy gentlemen to laugh aloud, and 
even Mr. Cheng could not keep up his stern expression but had to 
smile. 

66 



"And even if he knows thirty chapters of the Shih Ching by heart, 
that is still just as much vain noise and illusion as if a person who 
steals a beii wcic to stop up his ears and pretend to be dumb," he 
said. "Give my kind regards to the old schoolmaster and tell him not 
to waste his time teaching the Shih Ching and such antiquated useless 
rubbish; he should rather make them study the Four Classical Books 
so thoroughly that his pupils will know the text by heart from be- 
ginning to end. That is the most important thing." 

"Shih, yes," murmured Li Kwei eagerly, and as the old Governor 
said nothing more he withdrew quickly with his companions to where 
Pao Yu was waiting outside, alone and neglected. "Did you hear, little 
brother?" said Li Kwei to him on the way. "He'll have us stripped 
naked and thrashed. In other places a little honor and glory comes to 
the servants from the master. We, on the other hand, spend ourselves in 
vain in your service and only get rewarded with scoldings and beat- 
ings. We would be happier if we were treated with a little more con- 
sideration in the future." 

"Do not take it badly, good elder brother!" urged Pao Yu kindly. 
"As soon as I can I will show my gratitude for your good services and 
invite you to be my guest." 

"That would be too great an honor, little ancestor! It will be enough 
if you would listen to me if I have something to say to you." 

They were back at the residence of the Princess Ancestress. She was 
talking to Chin Chung, who had come to fetch Pao Yu. After another 
farewell the uncle and nephew set off together for the school. But it 
suddenly occurred to Pao Yu that he should also bid farewell to Black 
Jade. He therefore turned back again to the green pavilion. There he 
found his cousin at the window in front of a mirror, busy doing her 
hair. When she heard that he was on the way to school, she said with 
a slightly ironical smile: "To school? Splendid! You will certainly be- 
come a great man and pluck cinnamon flowers in the Palace of the 
Moon. It is a pity I cannot go with you." 

"Dear Mei mei, you will wait with the supper until I come back 
from school, won't you?" he begged. "And I would like to help you to 
make up your face as usual. Please postpone doing it until I come home 
again!" 

"Will you not say good-by to Cousin Precious Clasp too?" she called 
after him as he was leaving. He only smiled and at last went off to 
school with his nephew. The school had been founded by the first Prince 
of Yungkuo, and according to the founder's intention it was primarily 
meant for the gifted sons of the poorer families of the clan, who could 
not afford the luxury of their own private tutors. The school was sup- 
ported by the contributions of those members of the families who had 

67 



attained lucrative positions. These contributions provided the pupils 
not only with free education but also free food. According to the deed 
of foundation, the Principal was to be an old and worthy scholar, 
proved in the virtues of the Confucian philosophy. 

"From this first day of attendance at school together, Pao Yu and 
Chin Chung became inseparable comrades. They went to school to- 
gether and came home together, they sat together at their lessons and 
stood together during recreation. The Princess Ancestress treated Chin 
Chung as if he were a grandchild or great-nephew by blood. She often 
kept him as her guest for three or five days on end, and she also helped 
him generously with clothing and other necessities. After two months 
Chin Chung was as intimate with everyone in the Yungkuo palace as if 
he belonged to the family. 

When it came to satisfying a mood or humor, Pao Yu was apt to be 
neither particularly sensible nor logical. Thus, he suggested that good- 
fellowship should be the keynote of relations with his nephew. "We are 
the same age and studying side by side. Why should we keep up the 
ceremonial distinction between uncle and nephew? Let us in the future 
call each other friend and brother!" He kept dinning this into the 
other's ears so continually that at last Chin Chung overcame his initial 
shyness and accepted the suggestion. 

The many pupils at the family school almost all belonged, it is true, 
to the same clan and were all more or less interrelated by blood or mar- 
riage, but as the proverb so aptly says, even among dragons there are 
nine varieties, and each variety is different from the other. In short, it 
is easy to realize that there were snakes and vipers creeping around 
among the dragons of the family school, and that high and low were 
mixed together. 

. It was inevitable that the two handsome, blossom-fresh young new- 
comers should very soon attract general attention among their fellow 
pupils, Chin Chung on account of his gentle, mild ways and his bash- 
ful, shy nature, which made him blush like a girl when spoken to; Pao 
Yu, on account of his wealth and his self-assured bearing, his master- 
ful behavior, his ease and skill with words. Their close friendship was 
much remarked upon and discussed behind their backs. Envy and 
jealousy did their worst. In short, it was not long before the relation- 
ship of the two was whispered about and secretly discussed everywhere 
both inside and outside the schoolrooms. 

Friend Hsueh Pan too was attending the family school, but less 
through zeal for learning than for certain private ends. When he heard 
for the first time of the existence of this school, in which there was such 
a choice selection of charming young boys, this news at once awakened 

68 



base desires in him. Pretending that he wished to improve and enrich 
his knowledge, he had procured his admission from old Tai Ju by a 
substantial gift of money. In reality, he wanted to be like the fisherman 
who fishes for three days, and idles about for the next two days while 
his nets are drying. He had less interest in learning than in forming 
friendships with boys. He did in fact find among the pupils some who 
let themselves be enticed by gifts of money and other favors to be ac- 
commodating to his purposes, which it is not necessary to discuss in 
more detail. Chief among these were two elegant boys, who on account 
of their smart and attractive appearance were nicknamed Hsiang Lien, 
"Fragrant Attachment," and Yu Ai, "Precious Favorite." In the school 
they were on a whole admired, but only in secret, for through fear of 
Hsueh Pan none of the other boys ventured to make friends with them. 

Pao Yu and Chin Chung were also attracted to these two soon after 
coming to the school, but through fear of Hsueh Pan did not dare to 
show their liking, and confined themselves to admiring glances from a 
distance. And Hsiang Lien and Yu Ai reciprocated in kind. Day after 
day the same secret game went on in the class during instruction: from 
four different seats four pairs of eyes met and spoke together the silent 
language of love. In conversation during recreation they expressed their 
hidden sentiments and feelings by means of gentle allusions and am- 
biguous phrases. 

But carefully though they carried on this secret game, it could not 
remain hidden from the sharp eyes of certain sly boys. Consequently, 
there was much winking, and suggestive clearing of the throat, and 
coughing behind the backs of the four. 

The Principal, Chia Tai Ju, happened to be absent from school one 
day owing to a domestic celebration. To keep his pupils busy he had 
given them one half of a stanza. They were to compose a complemen- 
tary second half. That was their assignment. He had entrusted the care 
of the school during his absence to his assistant and grandson, Chia Jui. 

Just by chance Hsueh Pan was absent from the school that day. Chin 
Chung and Hsiang Lien availed of his absence to signal each other by 
glances more open than usual, and finally, on the pretext of attending 
to the wants of nature, they stole away to the farthest corner of the 
school courtyard for an undisturbed conversation. 

"Would your father object if we were friends openly?" Chin Chung 
had just asked the other, when they heard someone clearing his throat 
behind their backs. Greatly startled, they turned around to find a fellow 
pupil, one King Yung, standing before them laughing maliciously. He 
had sneaked along secretly behind them. Unlike the gentle Chin Chung, 
Hsiang Lien was inclined to be hot-tempered. 

"What does this silly coughing mean? Are we not allowed to speak 

69 



together?" he said to the mischief-maker, embarrassed and annoyed at 
the same time. 

"Don't let me disturb you!" the other replied mockingly. "But if you 
claim the right to speak, may I on my part be allowed to cough? 
Though if you have something to say to each other, why do you not do 
so openly? One just wonders what secret doings you're up to here. Let's 
not pretend; I know all about it! And now you can have your choice: 
either you let me in on your game and I'll keep my mouth shut, or the 
whole school will hear about it." 

"What is there to hear?" asked Chin Chung and Hsiang Lien both 
together, blushing to the roots of their hair. 

"The truth!" replied the other, laughing. Then he clapped his hands 
and called out loudly across the school yard: "Hi, come here! "Freshly 
baked pancakes for sale!" 

The two friends rushed raging into the school and complained to 
Chia Jui, who was in charge, of their schoolfellow's gratuitous insults. 
Now, this Chia Jui put profit above conscience; he used his position as 
teacher in the school to fleece thoroughly the pupils entrusted to his 
ca.re. Hence he did not try to check Hsueh Pan in his disgraceful doings 
but he actually aided and abetted him to win the favor of the rich 
libertine and thus obtain money and good meals. 

If Chin Chung and Hsiang Lien believed they would be protected by 
Chia Jui, they were very much mistaken. Chia Jui bore a grudge 
against Hsiang Lien, because while the latter was going with Hsueh Pan 
this drifting water plant had meantime dropped him for new friends 
he had never procured the least favor for him from his rich patron. 
When the two, therefore, came with their complaint, he showed himself 
very offhand and promptly took the side of their enemy, King Yung. 
Moreover, at the time King Yung was in high favor with Hsueh Pan, 
and that was all that mattered to him. True, he did not dare censure 
Chin Chung, in consideration of his influential friend Pao Yu, with 
whom he did not wish to quarrel. But all the less did he restrain his dis- 
pleasure towards Hsiang Lien; he blamed him before the whole class 
and pointed him out as a quarrelsome disturber of the peace. 

Annoyed and hurt by the undeserved blame, Hsiang Lien went back 
to his seat in the class, whence he signalled his displeasure by glances, 
growling, and whispered abuse to his friends. King Yung, on his part, 
felt obliged as victor to make himself important and conspicuous by 
significant nods, grimaces, and self-complacent mutterings directed to 
this side and that. 

"I've just caught them in the darkest corner of the courtyard," the 
whispering went to right and left. "I saw them quite distinctly kissing 
and caressing, and I heard them talking about wanting to belong to 

70 



each other. And they were so much engrossed in their important con- 
versation that they never even noticed me!" 

Among the listeners on the near-by seats was one who was much an- 
noyed by such talk. He was sixteen-year-old Chia Chiang, who belonged 
to the Ningkuo branch of the clan. Prince Chia Chen had taken him in 
as an orphan child and brought him up as his own son. But his extraor- 
dinarily close friendship with Chia Yung, the Prince's son, had caused 
suspicious whispering and comment among the servants which had 
finally come to the ears of the Prince. In order to save his house from 
disrepute the Prince had recently decided to have his foster son live 
outside the Ningkuo palace. Thus Chia Chiang was more or less per- 
sonally stung by King Yung's nasty talk and as intimate friend of Chia 
Yung, felt impelled to stand by the latter's brother-in-law, Chin Chung. 
To be sure, he did not want to get personally involved, as he was afraid 
of a quarrel with Hsueh Pan if he should openly take sides against the 
latter's protege, King Yung. Being clever, he chose a good way of at- 
taining his end without taking any personal risk, but remaining com- 
fortably in the background. 

On the favorite pretext of having to relieve himself, he suddenly dis- 
appeared from the class. Outside in the school courtyard he went up to 
Pao Yu's attendants, took aside Ming Yen, who was known as a turbu- 
lent, daredevil fellow, and thoroughly incited him against King Yung. 
He insisted that by insulting Chin Chung, King Yung had also insulted 
his master Pao Yu, and if the shameless fellow was not made to shut up 
very soon he would take still greater liberties in the future. Having per- 
formed the work of incitement, he returned to the class, calmly put on 
his outdoor clothes, and asked permission of Chia Jui to leave tne 
school a little earlier today, as he had an urgent errand to do. He 
wished to be out of the way of the approaching storm, which he himself 
had provoked. He was just in time, for already Ming Yen, who had 
been stirred up by him, came rushing into the classroom, his face blaz- 
ing red, and without using the title of "young gentleman," which was 
fitting for him as a servant to use, he called out roughly and without 
respect: 

"Which of you here is King Yung?" 

When the boy he was looking for was 'pointed out to him, he seized 
him boldly and firmly by the shoulder, and shouted at him: "Whatever 
we do with our behinds is no damn business of yours, you chicken-arse! 
Be glad if we leave your old man in peace! But I advise you, King 
Yung, to kindly leave my young master alone!" 

There was general pandemonium in the class. Chia Jui exhorted the 
intruder to behave somewhat less wildly. But King Yung, whose face 
was yellow with rage, cried: "Rebellion! Anarchy! A slave dare not 

71 



take liberties like that! But just wait, I'll have a word with your 
master!" 

He freed himself from Ming Yen's grasp, and was about to fall on 
Pao Yu. At that moment Chin Chung heard a whizzing noise close to 
him. By a lucky chance he moved aside, so that the missile which was 
slung by an unknown hand it was a square India ink stone whizzed 
by within a hair's breadth of the back of his head, and clattered down 
on a bench farther up in front, between the places of Chia Lan and Chia 
Chun. At the same time a china pot full of India ink was broken into 
fragments, and the books which lay about were splashed all over with 
ink. In reply a heavy book box was hurled from this bench to the back, 
but it fell short and landed on the bench of Pao Yu and Chin Chung, 
where it knocked down the books and writing materials and shattered 
Pao Yu's tea bowl too. Meantime little hot-tempered Chia Chun had 
jumped up to fight whoever had thrown the India ink stone. In a trice 
a tangle of fighters had formed round King Yung, who had suddenly 
got hold of a feather duster, the long bamboo handle of which he 
brandished wildly and hit out with. Ming Yen also got a blow from it. 
This, in turn, gave Ming Yen a reason to call in his three colleagues 
who were waiting outside, the servants Sao Hung, Chu Yo, and Mo Yu, 
to support him. The three rushed in like a swarm of hornets, shouting 
wildly: "You bastard brood dare to raise your weapons against us!" 
Mo Yu was armed with a wooden door bar, while Sao Hung and Chu Yo 
brandished horsewhips in their hands. In the wild confusion which now 
followed, the despairing deputy schoolmaster tried in vain to make his 
warning and imploring voice heard. They were all utterly beyond con- 
trol; discipline and order were at an end. Some joined in heartily just 
for the fun of it, hitting out in all directions; others stood on the 
benches and tables and egged on the fighters by clapping their hands 
and shouting: "Stand firm, stand firm! Flay them! Flay them!" Only a 
few of the more timid boys kept shyly away from the general tumult. 
The whole class was like a boiling caldron. The intervention of some of 
the older, more sensible servants such as Li Kwei at last brought the 
uproar to an end. To the question regarding the cause, the answers 
were varied, everyone attributing the blame to someone else. Li Kwei 
saw to it first of all that the warlike Ming Yen and his three companions 
were got away from the scene of battle. Then there was quietness. Pao 
Yu was just wiping with the -lapel of his coat a bleeding wound which 
his friend Chin Chung had received on the for' -head from the handle of 
King Yung's feather duster, when along came Li Kwei. 

"Have my books put together and send my horse!" he ordered Li 
Kwei. "I shall ride straight off to old Tai Ju and complain of his 
deputy. He not only failed to give us protection against those who in- 

72 



suited us, but even encouraged the offenders to do us violence; and this 
led to the general attack. Ming Yen was quite right to come to my aid. 
They hit him and Chin Chung until they bled. Naturally, I cannot re- 
main longer in this school." Li Kwei pacified him and tried his best to 
dissuade him from his purpose. It would not be very nice or becoming 
to worry the worthy old gentleman about such a trifle, he said. 

"And you are to blame for it all," he continued, turning to Chia Jui. 
"As deputy schoolmaster and brain of the class you should have inter- 
vened justly and not let things go so far. Instead, you looked on idly 
and let the mischief develop." 

"I warned often enough and called for order, but they did not listen 
to me," protested Chia Jui. 

"Take it badly or not when I speak so openly, sir, but it is your own 
fault that you are not respected in the school," Li Kwei continued his 
censure unflinchingly. "If you had always behaved in a blameless man- 
ner, you would be respected. The matter may still be very unpleasant 
indeed for you if it comes to the ears of the worthy old Master Tai Ju. 
You must strive to unravel the tangled net as quickly as possible, sir." 

"What do you mean by unravelling?" interjected Pao Yu indig- 
nantly. "I am going to make a complaint." 

"Either King Yung leaves the school or I do not come any more," 
added Chin Chung. 

"It would be a fine thing indeed if we were to yield the ground be- 
fore that insolent fellow!" said Pao Yu, flaring up in anger. "I shall see 
that he gets out. Anyway, how is this King Yung related to us?" 

"He is a nephew of Mrs. Chia Huang of the Ningkuo branch," the 
voice of the servant Ming Yen was heard to say from outside the win- 
dow. "Mrs. Huang is his aunt on the father's side. She is always on her 
knees to our second mistress, Madame Phoenix, to make this or that 
request or petition. It is impudent enough for such a wretched lickspittle 
even to rub shoulders with us. How can we be expected to respect such 
'masters'?" 

"Be silent, son of a bitch!" muttered Li Kwei aside to him. "What 
are the flybites of other people to you?" 

"Then he is a nephew of sister-in-law Huang," remarked Pao Yu 
contemptuously. "Good, I will go to her and give her a piece of my 
mind about her scamp of a nephew." 

"Why take all that trouble yourself?" the turbulent Ming Yen inter- 
jected again. "Let me go! I shall tell her that the old Princess Ances- 
tress wishes to speak to her. And I'll take her over straight away in a 
hired coach. In your grandmother's presence one can make a statement 
much better." 

"Be off!" Li Kwei rebuked him. "Or do you want to get a thrashing? 

73 



I have only just managed to quench the fire, and you want to poke it up 
again! If you don't stop trying to stir up your master I will have you 
punished." 

While Li Kwei was trying with all his might to make peace in the 
school dispute, the deputy schoolmaster Chia Jui, who was thoroughly 
frightened, was begging and beseeching first Chin Chung, then Pao Yu, 
to spare him and let the matter be hushed up. After holding out for a 
long time Pao Yu at last declared that he would be prepared to refrain 
from complaining if King Yung would make a full and formal apology. 
King Yung was now pressed hard from every side. He reluctantly con- 
sented to make a slight bow in token of apology to his chief opponent, 
Chin Chung, whom he had so grievously offended. But Pao Yu did not 
consider this reparation sufficient. He insisted upon a full ceremonial 
kowtow. Chia Jui implored King Yung to give in. "Be wise," he urged, 
"and remember the proverb: 

Banish the moment's anger, 

And spare yourself many days' anguish." 

Coerced and urged on all sides, King Yung at last submitted and con- 
sented to perform the required kowtow. And with this the school brawl 
ended. 



CHAPTER 9 

The Prince Hermit's birthday is celebrated in the Ningkuo palace. The 
sight of Phoenix awakens carnal desires in the heart of Chia Jui. 

KJNG YUNG HAD INDEED PERFORMED HIS KOWTOW OF APOLOGY, BUT 
he was still devoured with resentment. Having come home, he said to 
his mother, nee Hu: "This Chin Chung is just as distantly related to 
the house of Chia as I am; he is only connected by marriage and has no 
better claim to a place in the family school than I have. But on the 
strength of his close friendship with Pao Yu he thinks he can put on airs 
and look down on the like of us. If he at least behaved blamelessly one 
could excuse him, but he must think we are all bHnd, he carries on so 
openly, now with this, now with that one. The quarrel was due to the 
fact that I caught him at it today. And must I lie down before him after 
that?" 

"Do not be so headstrong, and keep out of other people's affairs!" 
his mother advised him. "Thanks to my intercession with Aunt Huang, 
and to her ceaseless petitions to Madame Phoenix, you have been 
lucky enough to procure a scholarship in the family school. Do you 
want, through your defiance, to throw away the benefits of this free edu- 

74 



caticn? What should we do then? We cannot afford the luxury of a pri- 
vate tutor. Besides, you get free meals in the school, and how could I 
manage to clothe you properly except for this saving in food? And you 
think a lot of being well and neatly dressed. Besides, you have to thank 
the school for the valuable friendship of that elegant young gentleman, 
Hsueh Pan. In the one year you have been friendly with him, he has 
given you up to seventy or eighty taels. Where else would you have so 
many advantages combined if by your obstinate folly you forfeit the 
chance of staying on at the school? You might as well try to climb up 
to heaven. Therefore be sensible and swallow your resentment!" 

To this King Yung had nothing to reply, so he just had to swallow his 
anger. The mother had succeeded in silencing her son, but she herself 
could not refrain from telling Aunt Huang, who visited her the next 
day, the whole story of the incident in the school, from beginning to 
end. Aunt Huang was a sister of King Yung's deceased father and the 
lawful wife of one Chia Huang, who was a poor collateral relation of 
the Ningkuo branch of the family. He had only a very small private in- 
come and was notorious in both the eastern and the western palaces for 
the frequent begging visits which he paid, together with his wife, now 
to Princess Chen, now to Madame Phoenix. 

When Aunt Huang heard of the humiliations which had befallen her 
nephew in the school, she felt that her family pride was hurt. So she 
got into her carriage again as quickly as she could and drove straight 
off to the Ningkuo palace. She wished to pay her respects to Princess 
Chen and then to complain to the latter's daughter-in-law, Mistress 
Yung, of the behavior of her brother Chin Chung. But she did not suc- 
ceed in carrying out her intention. When, after a few preliminary words 
about the weather, she asked the Princess why her daughter-in-law was 
not to be seen, she learned that young Mistress Yung had been seriously 
ill for the last two months and was unable to receive visitors. The whole 
household was worried and troubled about her, and tomorrow a new 
doctor, a young man, was expected, the skill of all the other doctors 
who had been consulted having proved in vain. Moreover, everyone in 
the Ningkuo palace was fully occupied preparing for the celebrations 
which were to take place in two days' time in honor of the birthday of 
the head of the family, the Prince Hermit Chia Ching. Under these cir- 
cumstances the visitor rightly thought it would be tactless to bring for- 
ward a complaint about a mere trifle. Besides, the kindly way Prince 
Chen personally invited her to stay to a meal helped to change her ini- 
tial ill-humor into a feeling of .Satisfaction, and so she took her leave in 
the end without having touched on the school incident by a single word. 

"What on earth did she want?" the Prince asked his wife when the 
visitor had departed. He suspected that it was some new request. 

75 



"Nothing special. In the beginning something seemed to be on her 
mind, but in the course of the conversation, when I told her about the 
illness of our daughter-in-law, her face became more tranquil. She was 
actually considerate enough not to accept your invitation to a meal. 
This time she did not ask for anything." 

The Prince nodded thoughtfully. A visit from sister-in-law Huang 
without a request seemed to him decidedly odd. 

"I visited our Elder today in his hermitage out in the mountains and 
invited him to come here the day after tomorrow to receive birthday 
congratulations from the whole family," he reported. "The old gentle- 
man declined with thanks, however. 'I do not wish to be disturbed in 
my contemplative peace,' he said, 'and I have no desire to return to 
your world of conflicting opinions and to take part in a useless, noisy 
feast. If you wish to give me pleasure, see that my recently completed 
treatise on "The Blessedness of Work in Solitude" is neatly and per- 
fectly copied out and engraved upon wood for the purpose of making 
copies of it. I would prefer that a hundred times to any outward display 
of festivity. As far as I am concerned, the family may feast to their 
hearts' content at home with you 'for the two days. But spare me from 
gifts and visits ! Even you may spare yourself the trouble of a visit, but 
if you insist upon making me a kowtow of congratulation, well, you are 
at liberty to make it now in advance. But kindly leave me in peace the 
day after tomorrow!' In these circumstances, then, there is nothing for 
us to do but celebrate without the old gentleman. Give your orders to 
the majordomo Lai Sheng in good time to arrange the two days' ban- 
queting." 

The Princess accordingly sent the necsssary instructions to the ma- 
jordomo by her son Chia Yung. Then Chia Yung had to go to the west- 
ern palace and personally invite the "old Tai tai" and the "big Tai tai" 
and the "second Tai tai" and sister-in-law Phoenix to the birthday fes- 
tival. 

On the morning of the birthday Prince Chen sent his son to the 
"Great Elder" at his hermitage. A troop of servants had to drag with 
them sixteen large gift boxes filled with select dishes and chosen fruits. 

"Tell the Elder," he said to his son, "that your father has complied 
with his orders and is refraining from paying a visit. At home, before 
the assembled members of the family, he will dutifully show his rever- 
ence by performing a kowtow before the Elder's throne of honor. And 
do note whether this form of respect meets with his approval." 

The first visitors to appear were Chia Lien from the Yurigkuo palace 
and Prince Chen's foster son, Chia Chiang. They viewed the arrange- 
ments of the tables with curiosity, for they wanted to know what enter- 
tainment would be offered. They were informed that a company of ac- 

76 



tors and a troupe of musicians had been engaged and were just now 
getting ready to appear on the garden stage. The chief guests, who 
were received by the Prince and Princess Chen at the entrance to the 
reception hall and accompanied up the steps, gradually arrived. They 
were Princess Shieh, Madame Cheng, and Madame Phoenix, with Pao 
Yu and the others. Only the Princess Ancestress had remained at home. 

"The old Tai tai is the oldest of all the kinfolk, our Elder is only her 
nephew, and no doubt it was presumptuous of us to expect her to take 
the trouble to come over for a nephew's birthday," remarked Prince 
Chen, hiding under a smile his unpleasant surprise at the absence of the 
Ancestress. "But we invited her all the same because of the beautiful 
autumn weather and as the 1 chrysanthemums are just in full bloom with 
us. We thought it would give her pleasure and entertainment to take 
part in the general family gathering and to see all the children and 
grandchildren together. It is a pity that we are deprived of the pleasure 
of her presence." 

"Only yesterday she still intended to come," Madame Phoenix re- 
plied quickly, instead of Madame Cheng, who really should have an- 
swered. "But last night she upset her stomach with a fresh peach and 
this morning she felt too weak to go out. She wishes to be excused, and 
asks if there is anything special on the table to send her over a morsel 
to taste, but nothing rich, only invalid food." 

The Prince was satisfied. 

"I thought at once there must be some special reason for her not 
coming. Usually she loves these family parties so much." 

The conversation turned to the illness of Mistress Yung and to medi- 
cal matters. Then Chia Yung appeared and reported on his visit to the 
Prince Hermit. The old gentleman had shown himself visibly pleased at 
the attentions planned for him, and asked his son, Prince Chen, to give 
the best possible hospitality and entertainment to the whole family. 
Moreover, he again expressed the wish that his treatise on "The Bless- 
edness of Work in Solitude" should be quickly printed. It would be the 
greatest birthday pleasure possible for him to see his work printed in 
an edition of ten thousand copies and circulated. 

After the sumptuous banquet, served to the male and female guests 
separately, had been successfully consumed, and the company had 
rinsed their mouths and washed their hands, Chia Yung appeared again 
and invited the ladies to come to the theatrical performance in the gar- 
den. The gentlemen had already taken their seats. Four Imperial 
princes, six princes, and eight counts had sent their congratulations to- 
gether with presents* he said. He had had all the gifts registered in the 
Estate Office and given the various messengers their receipts, and the 
messengers had been decently served with food and drink. 

77 



Princess Chen accepted her son's report with satisfaction, and then 
rose from the table with the other ladies in order to see the theatrical 
performance in the garden. Madame Phoenix left the company. She was 
longing to pay a visit to the patient, Mistress Yung, of whom she was 
very fond. Pao Yu expressed the wish to go with her. 

"But do not stay too long in the sickroom! Remember, the patient 
is your niece!" his mother impressed upon him. 

Soon afterwards, at his cousin Phoenix's side, he entered the familiar 
room which awakened in him a secret memory of that strange dream in 
which he was carried off to the Phantom Realm of the Great Void. How 
terribly his poor lovely niece had changed ! She wanted to get up from 
her bed when her visitors entered, but Cousin Phoenix anxiously 
pressed her down on the pillow again. 

"Do stay quietly on your back, good Nai nai! Otherwise you might 
get dizzy," she said, sitting on the edge of the bed and taking the pa- 
tient's hand. "Oh, how thin you have got, you poor thing, since I saw 
you last!" 

"Yes, unfortunately I have lost weight!" sighed the patient, forcing 
herself to smile. "It is my misfortune not to be very well. What love and 
kindness I have enjoyed from all sides! My parents-in-law treat me as if 
I were their own child. My husband, although he is so young, esteems 
me as I esteem him; our marriage is a most happy one. And also from 
the other relations, both old and young, I receive nothing but kindness 
and sympathy. And now this silly illness comes along and prevents me 
from repaying all this. And to you, dear Aunt, I should like to make 
some acknowledgment for all your touching love and attention, but un- 
fortunately I lack the strength to do so. I feel as if my end were near. 
Who knows if I shall live to see the New Year?" 

While they were talking Pao Yu was looking steadily at the painting 
on the wall, which represented a person sleeping beneath begonia 
branches, to the right and left of which was written: 

Gentle coolness surrounds the dreamer early spring! 
The breezes which caress him fragrant as wine. 

The remembrance of his own spring dream, which he had experi- 
enced in this same room and with this same beautiful Ko Ching whom 
he now heard uttering gloomy presentiments of death, gripped him 
powerfully and touched him to the very core. He felt his heart pierced 
by a thousand arrows, and his eyes rilled with tears. This did not escape 
Cousin Phoenix, who herself was deeply moved. But she remembered 
that the purpose of her visit was to cheer and comfort the patient, and 
not to make her still more sad by wearing a sad face. 

"Pao Yu, do not behave like an old woman!" she cried, rousing her 

78 



cousin out of his soft mood. "Your niece is still young and will be able 
to overcome this little illness. She makes out that she is much worse 
than she really is. 

"You should not give in to such gloomy thoughts! That does not 
help to make your condition better," she admonished the patient 
gently. 

"Above all, she must get back her appetite, then I shall not be wor- 
ried about her any more," interjected the young husband, Chia Yung, 
reassuringly. 

"That is my opinion too," agreed Phoenix. "And now be so good as 
to take Pao Yu back to his mother. She told him emphatically not to 
stay here too long. I should like to stay alone with our patient for a 
little while." 

The uncle and nephew then left Phoenix alone with the patient and 
went to the theatrical performance in the Garden of Assembled Per- 
fumes. 

Phoenix stayed on for a long time by the sickbed, and they had to 
send for her three times before she came away. After she had quietly 
and thoroughly discussed all kinds of confidential matters with the sick 
woman and tried to cheer her up, she at last stood up to go. 

"Well, I wish you a speedy recovery, and I will come again soon," 
she said on departing. "Meantime, do not be downhearted! The new 
doctor will certainly cure you." 

"Perhaps he will be able to give me some relief, but he will not be 
able to alter my fate even if he were gifted with supernatural powers," 
replied the patient with a weak smile. "I know perfectly well that I am 
only dragging on from day to day." 

. "Do not give in to such ideas! Your fears are quite groundless. You 
are having the best possible care now, and luckily you belong to a 
family where there is no lack of every available remedy, even the best 
and dearest ginseng. But now excuse me, I must go back to the others." 

"You must excuse me for not seeing you out, and do please visit me 
soon again when you have time!" 

"You may rely on me!" 

Sunk in thought, Phoenix, after traversing many winding paths, 
came through a side door into the Garden of Assembled Perfumes. The 
charm of the scenery which surrounded her here made her slacken her 
pace and stroll along thoughtfully. 

The ground at her feet shimmered yellow with chrysanthemums, 
from the hills and slopes aspen trees and silver poplars nodded. Orna- 
mental bridges stretched over murmuring brooks, narrow zigzag path- 
ways crossed wide roads which led to moon terraces. From cliffs shin- 
ing springs trickled down. Exquisite perfumes came borne on the 

80 



breeze from fruit trellises. From time to time a light gust of wind irom 
the w3st made the reddish tops of the trees, which stood here and there 
in artistic groups, tremble and shake. The song of the golden oriole and 
the chirp of the grasshopper could still be heard in the warm sunshine. 
Up above, the watchtower beckoned from a steep height; down below, 
the water pavilion with its triple arched roof was reflected in the lake. 
In the distance the playing of flutes and the beating of drums could be 
heard. 

Phoenix was walking along quietly completely absorbed in the 
beauty of the scenery, when she suddenly heard hersel called by some- 
one who emerged unexpectedly from behind an artificial stone cliff and 
now stood before her. 

"Tsing an, Sister-in-law!" he greeted her, bowing politely. 

Phoenix stepped back startled. 

"Is that you, Chia Jui?" she asked a little uncertainly. 

"How is that? Don't you recognize me, Sister-in-law?" 

"Yes, I do; only I was rather confused by your sudden appearance." 

"It must indeed be Providence which has caused us to meet here," 
Chia Jui remarked with an oily smile. "I stole away from the table just 
now to take a little walk after the meal in this quiet secluded spot. And 
here I meet you! Really, it must be the work of Providence." 

While he j was speaking his little eyes, bright with wine, blinked 
fixedly and brazenly at the beautiful woman opposite him. Phoenix had 
sufficient knowledge of human nature to enable her to size up the situa- 
tion by nine-tenths. 

"I have always heard much that is good and praiseworthy of you," 
she flattered him, with assumed friendliness. "And now hearing you 
speak I know that people have not exaggerated when they praised you 
as a man of intellect and great worth. Unfortunately, at this moment I 
must deny myself the 'privilege of a long conversation with you, as I am ' 
expected to join the ladies over there. But perhaps we shall meet again 
another time." 

"It has long been my intention to pay my respects to you. But 
through consideration for your tender youth, I did not venture to do so 
up to now," interjected Chia Jui eagerly. 

"Oh, among near relations age and years are not so important." she 
said, seeming to encourage him and putting on a charming smile. 

Chia Jui could hardly contain himself for secret triumph. I would 
never have dreamt that I would succeed so easily with her! he thought 
to himself, while his mien betrayed his lustful desires so distinctly and 
disgustingly that Madame Phoenix thought it advisable to get rid of 
him as quickly as possible. 

"Hurry back to your companions, otherwise you will have to pay a 

81 



fine of a drink," she urged him cunningly, and in fact she succeeded in 
making him move hesitantly away, though he could not refrain from 
turning round again and again to look at her. She let him go on a good 
way, and then she herself followed slowly. On the way she thought to 
herself: A man like that has a human face, but behind it there's only a 
beast. My word, he will get to know me yet if he dares try any liberties. 

At a bend in the road behind a projection of rock three serving 
women came breathlessly towards her. Princess Chen had sent them to 
look for her, being quite worried because she had stayed away so long. 

"After all, I am not a spirit that can fly," remarked Phoenix dryly, 
continuing at her easygoing pace, not in the least disconcerted. 

"How many acts have already been performed, then?" 

"Eight or nine." 

Talking and chatting away, they arrived at the spectators' entrance to 
the garden theater. In front of the entrance Phoenix caught sight of her 
cousin Pao Yu engaged in- a visibly lively and exuberant conversation 
with a crowd of young waiting maids and actresses. 

"Mind, no silly tricks, Cousin Pao Yu!" she called over to him in 
mocking threat. 

"This is the stairway to the upper platform," said a maid, leading the 
way. "The other ladies are all up there already." 

Phoenix tucked up her skirt and followed the maid up the steps to the 
upper platform. Princess Chen was waiting for her at the top of the 
stairs. 

"You have been gone a long time," she said with gentle reproach. 
"Since y6u find it so difficult to tear yourself away from your beloved 
niece, it will be better if you move over to us at once and go to live 
with her. But now take your seat. Here is a program. Read it through 
and see if there is a piece which you would like to have performed." 

"Why am I to have that honor? That is a matter for the others who 
have precedence of me in rank and age," protested Phoenix modestly. 

"Oh, please choose; we others have chosen already," said Princess 
Shieh and Madame Cheng. 

Phoenix read the program attentively and indicated two items, the 
sketch "Ghostly Apparition" and a song accompanied by lute music. 

"Where are the gentlemen gone to?" she asked, bending down to 
look over the balustrade. 

"To the Pavilion of Crystal Brilliance to continue their drinking; and 
they have taken tiie band with them," she was told. 

"Aha, they want to be to themselves; who knows what mischief they 
will be up to behind our backs!" 

"You cannot expect everyone to be as good and virtuous as you are," 
said Princess Chen jocularly. 

82 



When the theatrical program had come to an end the company sat 
down to another abundant meal. After this the female guests took their 
leave. Pao Yu went with them, trotting on horseback behind his 
mother's carriage. The other male members of the clan remained on for 
a long time drinking merrily together, and continued their revels the 
next day. 

After that meeting with Phoenix, Chia Jui had no more peace of 
mind. He wanted to see the beautiful sister-in-law again without fail, 
and as the foolish fellow had almost convinced himself that she had 
made advances to him in the Garden of Assembled Perfumes, he was 
brazen enough to call repeatedly at the Yungkuo palace to pay his re- 
spects to her. But it always happened that Phoenix was not at home. At 
last he was lucky enough to meet her. 

It was at the beginning of the twelfth month. Phoenix had just re- 
turned from one of her frequent visits to the eastern palace and had 
changed her visiting frock for a nice comfortable house gown which the 
maid Little Ping had carefully warmed at the stove. 

"Did anything special happen in the house while I was away?" she 
asked the maid. 

"Nothing special. Mrs. Wang sent the interest she owed you on the 
three hundred taels. And Chia Jui inquired again whether you were at 
home. He wished to pay his respects to you." 

Phoenix shuddered with horror. 

"Is the fellow bent on ruining himself? Well, I shall just let him visit 
me!" 

"Why does he want to visit you?" asked the maid. Phoenix told her 
of that fatal meeting two months previously in the gardens of the 
Ningkuo palace. 

"What? Does the mangy toad lust after tender swan's flesh?" cried 
the maid indignantly. "How can a man disregard all the rules of the 
basic human relationships like that? Such presumption deserves to be 
punished with death!" 

"Let him come ! He will experience something more than he bargains 
for!" declared Phoenix, smiling. 

What Chia Jui was to experience will be revealed in the next chapter. 



83 



CHAPTER 10 

Phoenix maliciously incites an unrequited passion. In spite of warnings, 
Chia Jui looks into the forbidden side of the Wind and Moon Mirror. 

PHOENIX HAD HARDLY FINISHED THE SENTENCE WHEN A VOICE FROM 
outside announced: "Chia Jui is here." 

"Let him come in," ordered Phoenix. 

Beaming with joy all over his face, the visitor entered, bowing and 
scraping and rubbing his hands, and burst out with a rush of questions 
about the "esteemed" well-being and the "precious" and "nephrite" 
health of his hostess. She welcomed him with hypocritical friendliness, 
invited him to take a seat, and served him tea. 

The fact that he was permitted -to see her in her negligee attire made 
him soft as cheese, and his amorous gaze dripped honey as he asked, 
suddenly resolved to come straight to the point: 

"Why is Cousin Lien not here?" 

"How can I know where he may be?" she replied with an air of in- 
difference. 

"Perhaps his foot became entangled in some gentle snare on his way 
home?" 

"Possibly. Men are like that; they fall in love at first sight with the 
first woman they meet." 

"Oh, Sister-in-law, I am certainly not one of that inconstant kind." 

"Then you must be a praiseworthy exception. One could hardly find 
one man in ten of your sort," she flattered him. And he found her flat- 
tery so pleasing that he almost felt as if she were fondling his ear and 
stroking his cheek. 

"You must suffer great boredom in your solitude, day in, day out," 
he bravely continued. 

"Indeed, yes. And my only comfort is when someone comes to visit 
me now and then and breaks the monotony." 

"How would it be if I were to take over this role of your comforter in 
loneliness? I have plenty of free time and would be at your disposal 
every day with the greatest pleasure." 

"Surely you are joking! Would you really take as much trouble as 
that?" 

"May I be struck by lightning and split in two halves if my intentions 
towards you are not sincere! Up to now I did not really trust myself to 
show my feelings, you were always said to be so terribly strict and cor- 
rect. But having convinced myself of how entertaining and charming 
and delightful you are, I shall no longer refrain, but shall hasten to 
come to you, and I will give my life willingly if only I may enjoy your 
company ! " 

84 



"What a high and noble nature your words betray!" she said, assum- 
ing an enraptured tone. "How absolutely different you are from your 
simple cousins Chia Yung and Chin Chung, whose attractions are 
merely superficial and who do not possess a scrap of understanding or 
delicacy of feeling." 

This praise tickled his very vitals and encouraged him to edge closer 
and closer to her side and to fondle her with his eyes more and more 
brazenly. His glance rested boldly in the region of her lotus-shaped 
girdle pocket. He was in a fever to touch her. 

"May I have a close look at your ring?" he asked her, boldly trying 
to grasp her hand. 

"Not so vehement, please!" she rebuffed him gently. "What if some- 
one should catch us unawares?" 

He quickly moved away from her again as obediently as if it were a 
matter of an Imperial edict or a command of Buddha. 

"Now you must go!" she said, smiling. 

"Do not be so cruel, but let me stay a little longer!" he begged. 

"Impossible!" she breathed. "There are too many people about here 
during the day. It would be too risky. But tonight at the time of the 
first night watch wait for me outside in the park by the western covered 
passage." 

Chia Jui received this with a feeling of keen delight, as if a precious 
jewel had fallen into his hands. 

"You are not joking, are you, Sister-in-law? And are we safe from 
eavesdroppers there?" he asked excitedly. 

"Do not worry! I will give leave of absence to the servants who are 
due for watch there tonight; and once the gates above and below are 
locked, no one can come through," she reassured him. 

He hurried off in blissful anticipation of what was to come. As dusk 
was falling he slipped once more into the Yungkuo palace precincts, 
and shortly before the gates were locked took up his position in the pas- 
sage indicated. Soon the surrounding park lay in complete darkness and 
silence. Not a human sound was to be heard. Half the night through he 
waited and listened in vain. She had made the appointment with him 
for the first night watch. The second night watch had passed meantime, 
and she had not arrived. Then it became clear to him that he had been 
hoaxed and he decided to get away. But he tried the east gate and the 
west gate in vain. They were securely locked and bolted from the out- 
side. He now tried to climb the wall; but it was too high and there was 
no ledge or foothold anywhere by which he could heave himself up. For 
good or ill, he had to pass the whole night in the inhospitable, empty 
passage. That was far from pleasant at that wintry season. An icy wind 
blew right in around the edges of the door and window and cut him piti- 

85 



lessly to the very bone. His limbs were stiff with cold when morning 
dawned at last and an old gatekeeper came and first opened the eastern 
gate and then began rattling at the western one. As soon as she turned 
her back, he slipped swiftly from his hiding place and flew like smoke 
out through the eastern gate. Luckily, everyone was still asleep at this 
early hour, so that he was able to escape unseen from the estate by a 
postern gate at the back. Then he ran home to his grandfather's house. 
For Chia Jui, who was orphaned young, lived with old Tai Ju, who 
maintained him. 

The old gentleman kept the grandson under strict control and super- 
vision and watched him conscientiously to prevent him from loafing 
about and neglecting his studies. The fact that the rascal had remained 
out the whole night naturally merited the severest reproof from his 
grandfather. He suspected that wine and women had kept him out, and 
when he arrived home at last in the early hours of the morning he met 
with anything but a friendly reception. The grandfather could certainly 
never have guessed that the matter was actually far worse than it 
seemed, and that the scoundrel was well on the way to creating a seri- 
ous family scandal. 

Mopping the cold sweat from his brow, the night reveller appeared 
before the enraged old gentleman and tried to lie himself out of his 
predicament as well as he could. Yesterday, when visiting a relative he 
had stayed too late and had been kept for the night. But Tai Ju read 
the lie on his face. 

"You should not go out without my permission!" he said severely. 
"And for deceiving me as well, you deserve all the greater punishment." 
And he made him kneel down and gave him thirty or forty strokes 
with a cane. Besides this, he left him without food for the whole day and 
gave him as additional punishment an appropriate lesson to learn 
kneeling out in the yard. After having been frozen through all night, 
the poor devil had to atone still more for his folly with a thrashing, 
hunger, still more cold, and some strenuous brainwork. 

But all these sufferings failed to cure his depravity. Scarcely two 
days had passed when he slipped across again during a free hour to the 
Yungkuo palace. He was once more received by Phoenix. She had de- 
cided to cure him even more thoroughly this time. At first she acted as 
if she were offended and reproached him for having failed to keep his 
word recently. With secret, malicious pleasure she listened to his prot- 
estations to the contrary and let him tell her all he had endured and 
suffered on her account. Then she suggested a new meeting for that 
same evening, but in a different place. She indicated a little unused gar- 
den house, close behind her dwelling. He was to wait for her there. 
"But you really mean it?" he asked diffidently. 

86 



"If you do not trust me, you need not come," she informed him 
coolly and abruptly. 

"I shall come even if I have to suffer a hundred deaths!" he declared 
passionately. 

Whereupon she graciously dismissed him. While she was holding her 
council of war and preparing all the measures to entice him more 
thoroughly than the first time into the trap, he, waiting at home, could 
scarcely contain his patience. For he had not the slightest doubt that 
this time he would attain his end. But first he had to wait until relations 
who by chance had come that day to visit had left the house. And then 
he had to be patient a little longer until his grandfather retired to rest 
after the evening meal. At last he was able to venture forth. It was high 
time. Darkness was already falling and the people were carrying lan- 
terns in their hands in the streets. Shortly before the gates were closed 
he successfully slipped into the Yungkuo palace grounds and stole into 
the empty garden house close behind the dwelling of the beloved one. 
There he sat and waited, and ill his excitement and impatience he was 
like the proverbial boiling kettle on the hearth. But to the left no human 
form showed itself, and to the right no human sound was to be heard. 

Already anxious doubts were rising in his bosom. Would she leave 
him another whole night waiting and freezing in vain? But then he 
suddenly heard soft footsteps. He stepped to the door and saw a ghost- 
like shadow emerge out of the darkness and come straight towards him. 
He had not the least doubt that it was Phoenix, and without thinking 
long or waiting to distinguish black from white, he rushed at the ap- 
proaching form like a hungry tiger at its prey, seized it in his arms, 
and carried it to the couch inside the little house. 

"Beloved, I had almost died of longing!" he groaned, while his lips 
sought those of his supposed sweetheart and his hand excitedly fumbled 
for her garter. What easy game he had ! The beloved let him have, his 
way completely, and did not stir. He had now gleefully opened his own 
clothing and was just getting down to work when a gleam of light from 
outside made him stop short. 

"What's going on here?" asked someone who had slipped in un- 
noticed, carrying a lighted candle. It was Nephew Chia Chiang. 

"Uncle Jui had gentle impulses," came the laughing reply from the 
couch. The voice betrayed to the horrified Chia Jui that he had taken 
his nephew Chia Yung for the beloved. Overcome with shame, he tried 
to run away, but Chia Chiang blocked his path. 

"Stop! Stay here! Aunt Phoenix has already told everything to the 
old Tai tai. In order to escape your attentions she has played a little 
trick on you. The old Tai tai is enraged at your behavior and has or- 
dered us two to take you to her at once. Come along!" 

87 



"Dear nephew, let me get away and do not betray me!" begged Chia 
Jui, utterly dismayed. "I promise you a fat reward." 

"I could let you run off," replied Chia Chiang, "but first I must know 
exactly how much you are willing to pay. And a verbal promise is not 
enough for me; you will have to sign a promissory note. For the sake 
of decency, the amount in question can be put down on-*the note as a 
gambling debt." 

"Agreed. But where can we get paper and ink here?" 

"They will be brought to you immediately. Wait one moment!" 

Chia Chiang disappeared and at once returned with writing materials. 
After lengthy bargaining Chia Jui had to agree to write out a promis- 
sojy note for fifty taels. Chia Chiang put the note in his pocket and took 
Chia Yung by the hand to depart. But suddenly Chia Yung became re- 
fractory and declared defiantly that he would tell the story to all the 
clan in the morning. This threat gave Chia Jui a new fright, and even 
induced him to humiliate himself by making a kowtow to his torturer. 
But the latter would not let him go until he too had a promissory note 
for fifty taels in his pocket. 

"Well, for today we will let you go free on our own responsibility," 
salu Chia Chiang magnanimously. "But now you must get off, it is only 
a question of which way. You cannot go through the domain of the old 
Tai tai, for all the gates are locked. And you dare not venture near the 
residence of Great-Uncle Cheng. He is still sitting up over his official 
documents. Woe betide you if he were to catch you !. But you cannot stay 
here any longer, either; at any moment one of the servants may come 
over, for there is 'a storeroom near by. The only exit possible for you 
is the back park gate; but we must first go out and see if the coast is 
clear, for if you were caught, it would be bad for us too. I know a cer- 
tain place where you can wait for us in the meantime. Come with us!" 

He blew out his wax candle, seized Chia Jui by the hand, and dragged 
him out. He carefully groped his way in the darkness until they got into 
a farmyard where they stopped beneath a stairway. "You are safe here 
for the present," he whispered. "Squat down on the ground and keep 
very quiet until we come back and call you!" 

He went away with the other youth. Chia Jui squatted obediently on 
the ground at the edge of the stairs, hardly daring to breathe. While he 
was crouching there thinking over his strange position, he suddenly 
heard above him a gurgling, splashing noise and immediately a thick, 
disgusting fluid human excrements was poured over him. A sup- 
pressed cry escaped him, but immediately remembering that he had 
been ordered to keep silent, he pressed his hand to his mouth. The evil- 
smelling liquid dripped down his forehead and cheeks, drenched his 
clothing through from top to bottom, and made him shiver with cold 

88 






and discomfort. How long must he endure this miserable state? He was 
immensely relieved when at last he heard the two return and call out: 
"Quick, get away, get away!" He got up quickly from his crouching 
position and ran in great bounds to the back garden gate. Completely 
exhausted and out of breath, he arrived about midnight in front of his 
home. The houseboy who opened the door shrank back startled at 
sight of him; 

"What has happened to you?" he asked, holding his nose. 

"I fell into a cesspool in the dark," lied Chia Jui; and he rushed to 
his room, where he threw off his odorous clothes and washed himself 
thoroughly. Although he was dead-tired, he could not sleep a wink that 
night, his mind was so agitated by the adventure he had gone through. 
Indeed, he could not but feel a grudge against the beloved one who had 
played him such a vile trick, but her lovely image, which persistently 
flitted across his mind, again dispelled the grief and rancor and only 
left place for one craving to be permitted to fold her in his arms in 
spite of everything. To be sure, his desire for further visits at the 
Yungkuo palace had vanished completely after this last experience. 

A period of real suffering now began for him. The persistent dunning 
by his two creditors for payment of the promissory notes which they 
had extorted from him, the constant fear of being found out by his 
strict grandfather, the consuming, unfulfilled desire for the beloved 
woman which reduced the unmarried twenty-year-old to frequent 
nerve-shattering finger play; added to this the burden of the debts 
which he felt heavier day by day, and finally, the cold which he had 
caught as a result of his two nocturnal adventures all these things had 
the cumulative effect of making him a sick man in a short time. He lost 
his appetite, his digestion failed, he felt heavy and giddy as if his legs 
were made not of bones and sinews and muscles but of cotton-wool; his 
eyes became dull, as if vinegar had been sprayed into them, he spat 
blood when he coughed, fever and sleeplessness tortured him by night, 
by day he suffered drowsy exhaustion. When he did go to sleep he fell 
into restless dreams and stammered in delirium. Such were the manifold 
infirmities which came upon him by degrees in the course of a year. 

His anxious grandfather tried all possible doctors, and made him 
swallow pounds of medicine, but it was all in vain. Only a good dose of 
ginseng could save him, said the doctors. But where could a poor 
scholar get the means to acquire this unusual and expensive drug? 

The old Tai Ju turned to his rich relations in the Yungkuo palace. 
Madame Cheng, to whom he made his request, passed it on to Madame 
Phoenix, the mistress of the kitchens and stores. She asked her to 
weigh out two ounces of ginseng for him. But Madame Phoenix had no 
intention whatever of helping the invalid, whom she preferred to see 

90 



die. She replied that she had recently given her last supply to the sick 
wife of Marshal Yang, at the request of the Princess Ancestress. Let her 
try to get some from her mother-in-law, Princess Shieh, or from Princess 
Chen, for, after all, it was a matter of a human life, urged Madame 
Cheng. But Madame Phoenix sent neither to the house of Chen nor to 
the house of Shieh but scraped together a small remnant of waste roots 
from her own supply, scarcely one-tenth of an ounce, and sent the 
rubbish to the home of the invalid. The Tai tai Cheng sent it but would 
be unable to send any more, she gave word. She deceitfully told her 
aunt, however, that in accordance with her instructions she had bor- 
rowed two ounces of the best ginseng for the sick man. Naturally, the 
miserable refuse which she really sent him did not have the least effect. 

One day a lame wandering Taoist monk knocked at old Tai Ju's 
door, begging for alms. He offered in return to cure anyone of any 
illness of mind or soul. Chia Jui, who from his sickbed could hear the 
stranger commending his power of spiritual healing, became intensely 
excited and loudly implored those around him to bring the master to 
his bedside so that he might save his life. They complied with his wish 
and brought the lame priest into the sickroom. 

"Save me, Master!" the sick man implored again and again, kow- 
towing in his bed to the visitor. 

The priest, lost in thought, observed him for a while and then he 
said: "Your illness cannot be cured by medicine. But I have a precious 
object here with me, which I will give you. You need only to look at it 
every day, and you will get well again." 

With these words he rummaged in his knapsack and drew out a 
veiled mirror. The back of the mirror, in which one could also see one's 
reflection, had the inscription engraved on it: Magic Mirror of the 
Moon and the Wind. 

"This mirror comes from the airy phantom castle of the Fairy of 
Fearful Awakening in the Phantom Realm of the Great Void," the 
priest explained. "Its power consists in purifying corrupted souls and 
freeing them from impure thoughts and desires. The fairy has entrusted 
it to me in order that I may save highly educated and high-minded 
young people like you, and so preserve them from destruction. But you 
may look only in the reverse side of it. A thousand times, ten thousand 
times, beware of looking in the front side! Remember that! Remember 
that! I shall return in three days and take back the mirror. In the mean- 
time it will have cured you." 

He had hardly finished speaking when, to the astonishment of the 
bystanders who tried in vain to hold him back, he vanished into thin 
air. 

The invalid asked the company to leave him alone. Why should he 

91 



not try out the mirror? The strange priest had diagnosed his condition 
remarkably correctly; this the others could not know, of course. So he 
took the mirror in his hand and looked, as the priest had told him to, 
into the reverse side. He recoiled in horror. A skeleton grinned at him 
from the mirror! 

"Did the accursed fellow only want to frighten me?" he cried 
angrily. "Now I will just look into the forbidden side." 

And he turned the mirror arid looked into the other side. marvel! 
The lovely image of Phoenix met his gaze ! She was smiling at him and 
beckoning him to her with her hand. Blissfully happy, he felt himself 
drawn, he knew not how, into the mirror by some magic force, and en- 
joyed with the beloved one the passionate Play of Wind and Cloud. 
When this was over she led him gently out of the mirror again. He 
found himself once more lying in his bed, still groaning and moaning 
from the aftereffects of the delightful experience. 

Now he turned to the mirror again and looked once more at the 
other side. Again the horrible skeleton grinned at him, bringing a cold 
sweat out of his pores. Though still exhausted from the first enjoyment 
of love, he could not resist the temptation of looking into the forbidden 
side of the mirror a second time, and again Phoenix beckoned him and 
smiled at him alluringly and drew him with magic power into the 
mirror, once more to perform the Play of Wind and Cloud. The experi- 
ence was repeated four times. When she led him out for the fourth time 
he suddenly felt himself being seized by two men, who put him in iron 
chains. 

"I will follow you! But let me take the mirror with me!" he cried 
aloud. 

These were his last words. Those outside had heard his cry. They 
opened the door of the sickroom and peeped inside and could just see 
him staring at the mirror with wide-open eyes, when it slid to the ground 
as his grip loosened. They all pressed around the bed, but the sick man 
did not breathe again. They found the sheets wet with traces of human 
emissions. The servants washed and dressed the dead man and laid him 
on a bier in accordance with custom. Then they' informed his grand- 
parents that he had passed away. 

The relatives raised a loud dirge and did not fail to abuse the lame 
priest and his magic mirror. 

"The magic mirror must be destroyed; otherwise it will do still more 
barm," cried old Tai Ju angrily; and he ordered them to throw it into 
the fire. But before they had time to carry out his order a voice was 
heard in the air saying: "Why do you want to burn my mirror? It is 
innocent. The dead man himself is to blame. Who told him to ignore 
my prohibition and look into the wrong side?" 

92 



At the same time the mirror rose from the ground of itself and floated 
out through the window. Old Tai Ju rushed out the door after it and 
tried to catch it, when he saw the same lame priest standing there. 

"Who dares to seize my mirror?" he heard him crying in a threat- 
ening voice, and then he saw him stretch out his hand and catch the 
floating mirror. The next moment both priest and mirror had vanished 
into nothingness. 



CHAPTER 11 

Ko Ching dies and receives the posthumous title of wife of a mandarin 

of the fifth rank. Phoenix takes over the household management in the 

Ningkuo palace. 

1 OWARDS THE END OF THE YEAR THE NEWS CAME FROM YANGCHOW 

that Black Jade's father, Ling Ju Hai, was very ill and urgently desired 
to see his daughter once more. The Princess Ancestress thought it right 
that the father's wish should be granted, and so she sent her grand- 
daughter home under the escort of her cousin, Chia Lien. Pao Yu was 
naturally very sad at being deprived of the company of his favorite 
cousin for a considerable time. Phoenix, too, found it hard to bear the 
long separation from her husband. Added to this was her anxiety for 
the seriously sick friend in the eastern palace. She passed the lonely 
evenings until bedtime as best she could chatting and gossiping mer- 
rily with the maid Little Ping. 

One night, though tired from talking and working late, her restless 
thoughts kept her lying awake long after her maid Ping was fast 
asleep. By patiently counting on her fingers she had at last man- 
aged to lull herself into an uncertain doze. Outside, the third beat of 
the drum had just announced midnight when it seemed to her that her 
niece Ko Ching was standing beside her bed. 

"Well may you sleep, dear," Ko Ching said to her, smiling, "but I, 
of course, have to set out on the return journey today. Would you not 
like to accompany me part of the way? We have always been so fond 
of each other and understand each other so well that I did not wish 
to go without saying good-by to you. Besides, I have many things to 
say to you which I would never confide to anyone else. For you are 
not an average woman, and in the matter of intellect and energy you 
are the equal of any man or any high official." 

She now explained ih a long discourse that she was concerned for 
the future of the house of Chia. True, the Chia clan had endured, 
strong and powerful, for hundreds of years already, but blossoming is 

93 



likely to be followed by decay, and the day might come when the 
mighty tree would fall, and the crowd of monkeys which it had sheltered 
in its branches and crown up till now would be scattered in every direc- 
tion. This meant that in good times provision should be made for bad 
times. Two things were on her mind: the consolidation of the family 
school and insurance of the perpetuity of the quarterly sacrifices to the 
ancestors. She entertained a fear lest lean times should come when there 
would be no funds available for these two objects. She would there- 
fore like to recommend the Elders of the clan to take advantage of the 
present favorable circumstances and buy up as much land and property 
as possible in the neighborhood of the family vaults, thereby forming 
a lasting and inalienable family foundation. The purpose of this foun- 
dation must be to maintain the family school and assure the perpetuity 
of the ancestors' sacrifices from the proceeds of the communal lands. 
A fortune dedicated to such cultural purposes would, even if the worst 
came to Fne worst, be safe from seizures by the State in the event of 
the offices and dignities of the heads of indjvidual families being for- 
feited and their private fortunes confiscated, in consequence of Im- 
perial disfavor or the like. In such an emergency the members of the 
family concerned would, moreover, find a place of refuge in the lands 
of the family foundation, where they could continue to support them- 
selves by farming. The family school would then give the sons and 
grandsons the possibility of rising in the world once more. Farming 
and education these were the two solid pillars upon which a great 
aristocratic family like the Chia clan must rely if the inevitable vicis- 
situdes of fortune were to be outlived and if the clan was to be proof 
against downfall. The speaker ended with the quotation: 

Spring passes, fragrance fades, 

Be watchful of the position acquired. 

Phoenix had followed this intelligent discourse with profound atten- 
tion. She was just about to ask some questions when, through the still- 
ness of the night, she heard the Cloud Gong booming at the second 
gateway. Its heavy thud resounded four times. That was the signal that 
somebody in the house had died. Phoenix started up, alarmed, out of 
her light sleep, and immediately a messenger appeared with the an- 
nouncement that Mistress Yung of the eastern palace had just passed 
away. Phoenix dressed quickly and hurried over to her aunt, Madame 
Cheng. Needless to say, the sad news of the early death of the young 
and beautiful lady, who was so universally beloved, caused sobbing 
and lamenting everywhere, in the eastern as well as in the western 
palace. 

Pao Yu also got news of the death during the night while he was in 

94- 



bed. It made him start up violently and jump out of bed. As he did so 
he felt a stab through his heart like the stab of a dagger and at the 
same moment he spat up a mouthful of blood. The maids ran to him in 
consternation and asked what was the matter with him and whether 
they should send for a doctor, but he would not have it. 

"It is of no importance," he said. "It is a little heart attack caused 
by the sudden shock. Some blood has gone out of its course." 

He dressed and went to the Princess Ancestress to ask permission 
to go over while it was still night to visit the bier. The Princess An- 
cestress pointed out in vain that one should avoid the unclean proximity 
of a fresh corpse, that his health might suffer if he were to go out in the 
middle of a winter's night, and that it would be wiser to wait until the 
morning. He would not be dissuaded. At last the anxious Ancestress 
allowed him to go in a closed carriage and in the care of a numerous 
retinue. 

Despite the late hour, he found the entrance gateway to the Ningkuo 
palace wide open and brightly lit up, and there was an excited coming 
and going of people with torches and lanterns in their hands. From the 
inner rooms he could hear loud cries of lamentation which made the 
hills tremble and the mountains shake. Pao Yu also gave free vent 
to his sorrow with many tears and loud laments by the side of the 
bier. Then he. greeted the relatives, who had come in a dense crowd. 

A time of strenuous commotion and excitement now followed in the 
Ningkuo palace; for Prince Chen made it his business to carry out the 
customary mourning ceremonies in honor of the beloved departed with 
all possible pomp. No less a person than the Court Necromancer of the 
Imperial Observatory was given the order to fix the days and times of 
the various ceremonies. He directed that the burial should! take place 
in seven weeks' time; that during those seven weeks the body was to 
remain on a bier in the house of, mourning; that on the third day after 
the death the seven weeks' mourning ceremonies were to be opened 
by the issue of the death notices; that a hundred and eight bonzes were 
to recite their Buddhist requiems in the great hall while ninety-nine 
Taoist priests were to offer sacrifice and pray according to the Taoist 
rite for the salvation of the departed before an altar to be erected by 
themselves in the Tower of Heavenly Balm. That, besides this, fifteen 
bonzes and fifteen Taoist priests of high rank were to hold pious de- 
votions in front of the spirit tablet of the departed lady in the Hall of 
Glorification in the Garden of Assembled Perfumes. 

The only one of the whole clan whom the sad event left untouched 
was the Elder of the house, the Prince Hermit Chia Ching. He himself 
would ascend sooner or later into the heavenly spheres, so his message 
ran. Why should he emerge now from his holy solitude and soil him- 

95 



self again with the red dust of this world, after he had happily attained 
to some degree of purification and perfection? Accordingly, he took 
no further notice of the event, but remained in his hermitage, and left 
the entire execution of the mourning program in the hands of his son, 
Prince Chen. 

Right at the beginning of the mourning period an episode occurred 
which attracted much^notice and called forth great praise. A maid of 
the deceased lady, one Jui Chu, in an effort to give visible expression 
to her sincere sorrow at the death of her mistress, had hit her head so 
hard against a wooden post that she had died of the effects. The whole 
clan praised the behavior of this maid as an extraordinary and memo- 
rable example of self-sacrificing fidelity and devotion, and Prince Chen 
ordered that, as a reward, the brave girl should be buried with the 
ceremony due to a granddaughter by blood and that her spirit tablet 
also should be set up in the Hall of Glorification in the Garden of As- 
sembled Perfumes. 

Yet another episode indicating praiseworthy piety and devotion was 
announced. Another servant, one Pao Chu, nobly offered to allow 
herself to be adopted posthumously as a daughter of the deceased 
woman who was childless, in order that she might carry out during the 
mourning period and at the funeral the difficult and onerous role in- 
cumbent on a surviving child, which demanded among other things 
that she should walk by the coffin swaying from side to side during the 
whole course of the funeral procession. Prince Chen accepted her offer 
with grateful emotion and rewarded her by directing that henceforward 
she should be called "Miss" and respected as a daughter of the house. 
And Pao Chu undertook her duty as a daughter in such a conscientious 
way and exaggerated to such an extent the prescribed lamenting and 
wailing beside the coffin that she almost lost her life by it. 

In his efforts to carry out the funeral with as much outward mag- 
nificence as possible, Prince Chen saw himself hindered, to his an- 
noyance, by one circumstance. "My son possesses neither rank nor 
office," he reflected. "The only thing he has to be proud of is a title of 
doctor of the first and lowest degree acquired by purchase. The in- 
scription on the banners of honor of his late wife will look paltry and 
mean indeed. The deceased will, moreover, be deprived of any official 
mourners. This is a painful deficiency." 

Then it happened very appropriately that on the fourth day of the 
firtt week of mourning, Tai Kuan, the influential chief Imperial eunuch 
and superintendent of the Imperial Palace, came to pay a yisit. Mes- 
sengers went ahead bringing gifts for his sacrifice to the departed spirit. 
Then he himself appeared in the big State sedan chair, his arrival 
being ceremonially proclaimed by heralds and gong beaters. Prince 

96 



Chen invited him into the Pavilion of the Resting Bees, where they were 
able to chat undisturbed, and in the course of the conversation he put 
forward his request regarding promotion for his son. The* chief eunuch 
understood at once what he was driving at with his guarded hints. 

"If I understand you aright, you would like to give a greater air of 
brilliance and importance to the funeral," he remarked, smiling. 

"Your assumption is right, old Chancellor of the Interior," Prince 
Chen hastened to confirm. 

"Hm, your request comes just at the right time. I know by chance of 
a nice, suitable vacancy for your son. Of the three hundred officers' 
posts of command in the Imperial Palace Guard, there are two vacant 
at the moment. True, one post I have already given away elsewhere 
namely, to Count Hsiang Yang's son. Since the Count has requested 
me repeatedly and urgently, and moreover had sent one thousand five 
hundred silver taels to my house, I could not very well turn a deaf ear 
to his request, especially as we are very old friends. Someone else has 
applied for the remaining vacancy, it is true the fat Provincial Treas- 
urer Yung Hsing, who wants it for his son, but I have not answered his 
request yet. You are therefore free to hand in a statement of your son's 
curriculum." 

The Prince did not have to be told twice; he ordered his secretaries 
to write out the requested curriculum on nice red paper. The chief 
eunuch read the paper on the spot, then he handed it to a young man of 
his retinue with the words: "Take this paper to my old friend Chao, 
the Minister of Finance. Give him my kind regards, and ask him to 
prepare a document of investiture for an appointment of officer in the 
palace guards with letters patent for a button of the fifth rank. Say that 
I shall fetch the document myself tomorrow and bring with me the 
appropriate amount of duly weighed sih ir." 

The young attendant nodded and lef A little later the chief eunuch 
himself stood up to go. Prince Chen p Jlitely accompanied him to the 
outer gate. 

"Shall I send the money to the Ministry or to your house?" he 
asked, as his visitor got into the sedan chair. 

"It might prejudice you with them if you sent it to the Ministry. 
Better send me the round sum of a thousand taels to my house, then 
you will have no further bother," was his answer. Prince Chen thanked 
him exuberantly. 

"When the mourning period is over I shall not fail to go personally 
to your noble threshold and take my unworthy dog of a son with me, 
so that he may dutifully make his kowtow of thanks to you," he assured 
him. 

As early as the following day Chia Yung received from the Ministry 



his document of investiture and his letters patent of rank, and from 
that day the spirit tablet of the deceased lady bore the inscription 
"Spirit tablet of the Lady Ching, by marriage of the house of Chia, by 
Imperial patent wife of a Mandarin of the fifth rank." 

In front of the wide-open outer gates of the Garden of Assembled 
Perfumes there shone from high posts two bright red notices, visible 
from a distance, which announced in large gold letters that the 
obsequies of "Lady Ching, by letters patent wife of an officer of the 
Imperial Palace Guard in the inner precincts of the Red Forbidden 
City" were being held here. 

Prince Chen was very happy and relieved that his request had been 
granted so quickly. But there was still another dilemma which greatly 
disquieted him. 

His wife was ill and confined to bed, and just in these days when 
there was ^a rush of visits and receptions, and there were so many 
arrangements to be made, the mistress of the house, who could deputize 
for him with dignity and keep the servants in control, was sadly missed. 
Her absence was a calamity. How easily could transgressions against 
custom occur, which would leave him open to the mockery of his noble 
and illustrious guests. As it was, the servants were used to easy disci- 
pline and now, without direction and supervision, they would if possible 
be even more careless. The Prince was in a sweat of anxiety, and con- 
fided the matter to his cousin Pao Yu. The advice which Pao Yu 
whispered in his ear made his troubled face brighten up, and he re- 
solved to follow it at once. 

He left his male guests alone and appeared shortly afterwards ac- 
companied by Pao Yu in the ladies' sitting room. As luck had it, there 
were present only Princess Shieh, Madame Cheng, Madame Phoenix, 
and a few other ladies, all close relations. Prince Chen himself did not 
feel very well today and was exhausted from the rushing around and 
night watching of the last few days. He had twinges of pain in his limbs, 
and limped into the room, supported on a stick, groaning and with 
difficulty. The ladies rose from their seats when he appeared, and 
Princess Shieh asked anxiously: "Do you not feel well? You look ex- 
hausted, you should rest and take care of yourself." 

The Prince, clutching his stick, got down on his knees with difficulty 
to salute the ladies with his tsing an. The ladies signed to Pao Yu to 
help him up, and asked him to take a seat. But the Prince modestly 
insisted on making his request standing. 

"The unworthy nephew has come here to ask a favor of the two 
worthy aunts and the esteemed cousin," he began, forcing himself to 
smile. And then he told of the embarrassment he was in owing to the 
lady of the house being laid up just now, and he asked if Madame 

98 



Phoenix would be willing to help out by taking over the role of mistress 
ol the house during the weeks of mourning. 

That all depends on whether Aunt Cheng can do without her," re- 
marked Princess Shieh laughing. 

"She is still young and inexperienced, and will scarcely be able to 
undertake such a difficult task. What if she were to make some mis- 
take?' It would be better if you would ask someone else," said Aunt 
Cheng, dubiously. 

But Phoenix did not consider the matter for long. She was confident 
of her ability for the difficult task, and as the princely cousin begged 
and implored so pathetically, she gave her consent. The Prince thanked 
her with a low bow and straight away gave her full authority in writing. 
He warmly impressed upon her that she should manage the servants 
and the palace housekeeping funds quite freely and absolutely at her 
discretion just as if they were her own servants and her own funds. 
Further, he suggested that she should move over to the Ningkuo palace 
for the period of her management in order to spare herself the frequent 
journeys back and forth. But Phoenix said, smiling, that she thought 
she could not be done without in the Yungkuo palace either, so she 
would prefer to come over every day. 

That same day Phoenix took up the management. The first thing she 
did was to make a list of the names of all the staff. And then, every 
morning at half-past six punctually, she held the roll call. With this list 
in her hand and the wife of the majordomo Lai Sheng by her side, 
she had each manservant and maidservant more than a hundred, in 
all come to her one after another, and she herself set them their tasks 
for the day. And even when she had had only a few hours' sleep, she 
never missed this hour of the roll call. She demanded the same punctu- 
ality from the servants. Her own servants all had watches and were 
trained to be punctual to the minute, she told the staff. There must also 
be watches in the Ningkuo palace. Among other things, she introduced 
a daily consultation hour from ten until half-past eleven, when all re- 
quests and needs were to be submitted to her. Every evening at seven 
o'clock she made the round of the entire premises. She took stern meas- 
ures against any dawdling or negligence. Once when a servant was miss- 
ing from the roll call she punished him with twenty strokes and the 
deduction of a full month's wages. This had its effect. The slovenliness 
which hitherto had reigned in the Ningkuo palace was replaced by stern 
discipline, and the long weeks of mourning ceremony passed off to thi 
great satisfaction of Prince Chen and, thanks to the energy and discre- 
tion of Phoenix, without the least violation of form or custom which 
would have given cause for mockery or laughter. 



TOO 



CHAPTER 12 

Poo Yu meets the Prince of the Northern Quietness on the road. Chin 
Chung enjoys himself in the nunnery. 

IKE PRINCIPAL DAY OF THE WEEKS-LONG OBSEQUIES, NAMELY, THE 

day of the funeral procession, had come. After the company had spent 
the whole night long feasting in the brilliantly illuminated halls and be- 
ing entertained by the performances of two troupes of players and one 
troupe of acrobats, the gigantic funeral procession set out early in the 
morning for the Temple of the Iron Railings, where the ancestral vaults 
of the two princely families were. The cortege, which followed the coffin 
with its sixty-four bearers, all dressed in dark green, stretched for well 
over four miles. The adopted daughter, Pao Chu, who tottered along 
beside the coffin in an attitude of complete dejection, sobbing inces- 
santly, led the procession. The male relatives, friends, and funeral 
guests among them princes, counts, and high officials followed on 
foot; then came the female members of the families and female funeral 
guests in more than a hundred carriages and sedan chairs, and finally 
the numerous servants and the bearers of the customary banners, sym- 
bols, and funeral gifts. 

At regular intervals along the route the procession passed brightly 
colored sacrificial tents, erected by prominent individual mourners for 
the purpose of presenting a wayside offering of sorrowful music to the 
dead lady as she passed. Th,e owners of the first four of these tents were 
the Princes of Tung Ping, Nan An, Hsi Ning, and Peh Ching. As their 
respective titles, "Prince of the Eastern Covenant," "Prince of the South- 
ern Peace," "Prince of the Western Tranquillity," and "Prince of the 
Northern Quietness," betrayed, their bearers were descendants of meri- 
torious men of Imperial blood, who had helped the founder of the 
dynasty in his conquest of the Empire. Of these four, again, the bearers 
of the title Peh Ching Wang, Prince of the Northern Quietness, were 
the most famous and the most respected, because their ancestor had 
taken an exceedingly prominent part in the foundation of the ruling 
dynasty. The present holder of the title, Prince Chi Yung, an excep- 
tionally handsome young man not yet twenty, was, moreover, loved and 
respected by all for his charming modesty and friendliness. In consid- 
eration of the warm, brotherly friendship' which had existed between 
his ancestor and the first Prince of Ningkuo, he would not be denied 
the privilege of appearing today personally in his sacrificial tent, in or- 
der to render the last honors to the dead lady when her coffin passed by. 

Immediately after the audience which had brought him to the Im- 
perial Palace at five o'clock this morning like every other morning, he 

101 



changed his Court dress for a white mourning garment, and had him- 
self taken to his mourning tent in his State litter, preceded by men 
beating gongs, and followed by his ceremonial umbrella and a great 
retinue. There he had waited patiently, sitting in his litter, until the 
funeral cortege came by from the Ningkuo palace. Around him, also 
waiting in silence, crowded his troop of servants, and a respectful si- 
lence likewise reigned among the masses who stood ranged on either 
side of the processional route in the neighborhood of the princely tent. 
At long last, winding its way from the north, and looking all white like 
a silver stream, came the endless funeral procession. 

Runners and ushers, who had hastened out far ahead of the actual 
procession to clear the route, had meantime sent back word that His 
Excellency the Prince of the Northern Quietness was present in person 
in his funeral tent. Prince Chen halted the procession and, accompanied 
by Prince Shieh and Chia Cheng, went aside to greet the distinguished 
guest in his sacrificial tent. All three fell on their knees before the 
Prince and paid homage to him with a ceremonial state kowtow, as 
befitted his rank. Smiling courteously and quite naturally, without 
any affectation, as if he were among good old friends, the Prince, sit- 
ting in his litter, returned the salutation with a slight bow. 

Prince Chen expressed thanks for the unmerited honor which the 
Prince had shown him by appearing in person. The Prince, in reply, 
referred to the old hereditary terms of friendship which existed between 
the two houses, in view of which his coming was only to be expected. 
Then he made a sign to his master of ceremonies to offer the sacrifice 
in honor of the dead. When the ceremony was at an end he turned 
courteously to Pao Y,u's father and asked: "Where is the young gentle- 
man who came into the world with a je\vel in his mouth? It has long 
be i my wish to enjoy the pleasure of his acquaintance. Will you please 
ask him to come over here?" 

Chia Cheng hurried back to the funeral procession, to return imme- 
diately afterwards with Pao Yu. Pao Yu too had long cherished the 
wish to meet that Prince of whom people always said with such en- 
thusiasm that he united outward beauty with nobility of soul and the 
first and highest degree of unaffected and kindly tact. But the complete 
lack of freedom of movement which his strict father imposed upon him 
had made this impossible hitherto. Therefore he was all the happier 
when his ardent wish so unexpectedly found fulfillment today by the 
wayside. As he entered the tent, full of eager expectation, he looked up 
at the Prince who sat enthroned before him on his litter, august and 
full of dignity. He was wearing on his head the silver-winged cap with 
white tassels worn by princes. His white, knife-pleated mourning gar- 
ment was embroidered in a design of five-clawed dragons, and he wore 

102 



a red leather belt studded with emeralds. His face was like a jewel, his 
eyes were lustrous stars, beauty radiated from his whole form. Pao Yu 
eyed him with secret admiration, and it was with no less satisfaction 
that the Prince's eyes rested upon his visitor. Pao Yu was wearing a 
silver cap, and round his forehead was the usual gold band in the form 
of two dragons snapping at a pearl. His white mourning garment, which 
was embroidered with a snake design, was fastened by a silver belt set 
with pearls. His face glowed with the freshness of a spring flower, his 
eyes shone like lacquer. 

When he had paid his homage to the Prince, the latter opened his 
arms wide and drew the boy to him. 

"Truly, it is not in vain that you bear your name," he said, smiling. 
"You really look like a 'Precious Stone.' But where, actually, is the 
stone with which you came into the world?" 

Pao Yu promptly took out the stone, which he wore on a five-colored 
cord hidden under his coat, and handed it to the Prince. The Prince 
examined the amulet and its inscription carefully. 

"Has the stone already shown its magic power?" he asked. 

"Up to the present it has had no chance of doing so," replied Chia 
Cheng for his son. 

While the Prince went on speaking in terms of the utmost astonish- 
ment about the strange birth phenomenon, he fastened the cord with 
the amulet back on Pao Yu's neck with his own hands. Then he drew 
him into a more intimate conversation about his age and his studies and 
other personal things. Enchanted by Pao Yu's clear, distinct speech and 
the pleasing tone of his voice, the Prince remarked to Mr. Cheng: 
"Your little lord seems to be a real young phoenix. Far be it from the 
unworthy Prince to utter flatteries to his honored old friend, but who 
knows, perhaps the fame of this young phoenix may one day outshine 
that of the old one." 

"Oh, my loathsome young cur is falsely misleading you into such 
golden eulogies," replied Mr. Cheng with a smile. "But if, thanks to 
your inexhaustible princely favor, your prophecy should be fulfilled, it 
would be a source of the greatest joy to me and to my house." 

"I would only point out one thing to you," continued the Prince 
thoughtfully. "Because of his many perfections, your little lord is 
doubtless surrounded with very special love and tenderness at home by 
his revered grandmother and the whole family. But such love can easily 
lead to pampering, and in this lies the danger for young people like our- 
selves that an otherwise good education might be utterly nullified. I 
know this from my own experience, and I think that the same may be 
the case with your little lord. If, as I believe, your little lord is hindered 
at home in the full development of his abilities, there is nothing to pre- 
104 



vent him from visiting me frequently in my cold home. True, I myself 
am worthless and without merit, but I enjoy the advantage of being 
acquainted with many of the most distinguished men of the Empire, 
and when one of them comes to the capital, he seldom fails to grant me 
the honor of a favorable glance from his blue-black eyes. Thus it hap- 
pens that many high and noble spirits meet in my cold dwelling, and 
your small princeling would find in my house many opportunities for 
advantageous and beneficial exchange of thought." 

Chia Cheng accepted the gracious invitation without hesitation and 
with many polite bows and thanks. The Prince now unfastened a prayer 
chaplet from his wrist and handed it to Pao Yu. 

"Because of the unexpectedness of this, our first meeting, I have no 
worthy gift at hand with which to honor ycu," he added. "But for the 
present please accept these prayer beads of carved yunnan root as a 
small sign of my regard. They were a gift from the Son of Heaven." 

Pao Yu passed the chaplet on to his father, and both expressed their 
thanks. Chia Cheng and Prince Shieh then besought the Prince not to 
allow himself to be detained any longer by the funeral procession, 
but the Prince gently insisted upon remaining until the corpse had 
passed. 

"The departed lady has joined the blessed," he said. "She is now a 
higher being than we ordinary mortals who are still toiling in the red 
dust of this earthly world. Although by the favor of the Son of Heaven 
I have been permitted, unworthy though I am, to inherit the rank of 
Prince, it would be an impertinence on my part if I were to take preced- 
ence over a blessed spirit." 

And so Prince Shieh and Mr. Cheng and Pao Yu could not do other- 
wise than take leave of the Prince and let the procession proceed once 
more. But they ordered that the funeral music should cease as a mark 
of respect for as long as the Prince remained in his tent. Thet Prince 
waited for the whole procession to pass by; only then did he continue 
on his way. 

After the procession had passed through the city gates into the open 
countryside, Prince Chen decided that the time had come to invite the 
male mourners, who up till now had been following the coffin on foot, to 
continue the remaining stretch of the route, to the Temple of the Iron 
Railings, in a more comfor*able manner. Accordingly, the older gentle- 
men took their places in their carriages and litters while the younger 
ones mounted their norses. Pao Yu wanted to mount his horse too, but 
Madame Phoenix, fearing that he would take advantage of the greater 
freedom 'of movement and lack of supervision, once outside the town, to 
indulge in all sorts of wild pranks, asked him to get into her carriage. 

"Come, dear cousin, get in," she invited him with a smile. "I know 

105 



you always like feminine society. Therefore you will surely feel much 
more comfortable in my carriage and by my side than in the company 
of those apes on horseback." 

Pao Yu dismounted obediently from his horse and slipped into her 
carriage, and the two continued their way chatting merrily. 

After a while two servants on horseback came galloping up and an- 
nounced to Madame Phoenix that the procession was just approaching 
a resting point. Would not the Nai nai wish to rest for a time and 
change her garments? Madame Phoenix agreed to this and ordered her 
carriage to follow the two guides, who turned aside from the highway 
into the open countryside. At Pao Yu's wish, his friend Chin Chung 
joined the party on horseback. 

After going a short stretch they arrived in front of a farmhouse. It 
was a modest little dwelling of a few rooms in which the numerous 
family lived crowded together. When the simple folk saw the magnifi- 
cent carriage with its elegantly attired occupants and its formidable 
train of servants, of course they stood and gaped in astonishment as if 
it were a heavenly apparition. 

Madame Phoenix got out and disappeared into the straw-thatched 
cottage. She had previously told Pao Yu that he could look around the 
farm for a bit with his friend and follow her in a little later. Pao Yu 
understood the hint and set out with Chin Chung on a tour of inspec- 
tion of the farm. 

He had never seen the various farming implements before. He did 
not even know their names, and had to ask the servants who were ac- 
companying him to explain their use and purpose. When told, he could 
not get over his astonishment at the number of new things he was learn- 
ing there. 

"Only now do I understand the meaning of the old proverb about the 
rice in the dish, of which every grain is the result of endless trouble 
and exertion," he remarked thoughtfully. 

In the course of his tour he came to a room in which he saw, lying 
on the kang, a strange implement which seemed to him even more curi- 
ous than the others. That, he was told, was a spinning wheel with which 
was made the yarn that was later woven into cloth. Full of high spirits, 
Pao Yu jumped up on the kang and began turning the spinning wheel. 
A peasant girl about seventeen years of age came up and stopped him. 

"That is not for playing with!" she said. "You will put it out of 
order!" 

Pao Yu promptly desisted. "This is the first time that I have seen a 
spinning wheel," he excused himself, with some embarrassment, "and I 
wanted to try it, just for fun." 

106 



"You c on't understand how to work it, but if you would like I shall 
show you," said the girl, amiably. 

"This is getting really interesting," whispered Chin Chung into Pao 
Yu's ear, at the same time plucking his sleeve. 

"Stop chattering or we shall come to blows," retorted Pao Yu jocu- 
larly, giving the other a cuff. He too was all eyes for the pretty girl, who 
had meantime set the spinning wheel in motion and was reeling off the 
finished yarn with skillful fingers. Pao Yu thought he had not seen such 
a charming sight for many a day, and he could not tear his eyes away 
from the graceful spinster. 

But alas, their pleasure was prematurely interrupted by an old 
woman, who called over from the other side of the farmyard. In a trice 
the pretty girl had jumped down from the spinning wheel and run out 
of the room. Pao Yu gazed after her disappointed, then went back to 
the farmhouse with the servant whom Phoenix had sent to find him, to 
share the frugal breakfast which the friendly peasants had prepared for 
their guests. In return for the meal Phoenix had little packages of 
broken silver distributed among them by the servant Wang, after which 
the party went back to the carriage and set off to rejoin the funeral 
procession. 

At their departure their carriage was surrounded by the farm folk, 
big and small, but Pao Yu looked in vain among the crowd for the 
pretty girl of the spinning wheel. Yet when the carriage had gone a 
short way he was to see her again. Surrounded by some village children, 
she came towards them from the opposite direction chattering and 
laughing, and carrying in her arms a small boy, apparently a little 
brother. Pao Yu gazed at her with tenderness. Unfortunately, the car- 
riage had already gained a lively pace and. like a cloud chased by the 
wind, went all too quickly past the group. When Pao Yu looked back 
once more the girl was already lost to view. 

Towards noon the procession reached the goal of its journey, the 
Temple of the Iron Railings. The bonzes, who had taken up their posi- 
tions in front of the temple in two rows on either side of the road, wel- 
comed the procession with drums, cymbals, banners, and pennants. In 
the temple yet another Buddhist requiem for the dead was held, sacri- 
fice was offered and incense was burned, after which the coffin was 
placed in the side chamber of an inner hall. The deceased's adopted 
daughter, Pao Chu, also withdrew into this same chamber together 
with her bed equipment, there to spend the next three nights until the 
burial. 

In the course of the afternoon most of the funeral guests took their 
leave and went back to the town. Only a few of the nearer relatives re- 
mained, and took up their quarters in the temple for the three days un- 

107 



til the burial. Princess Shieh and Madame Cheng also returned home 
that day. They intended to take Pao Yu with them, but Pao Yu was so 
pleased with the unaccustomed change of this stay in the country that 
he contrived to be allowed to remain there in the company of Phoenix 
until the end of the solemnities. 

The Temple of the Iron Railings had been erected long ago by the 
two ancestors of the Ningkuo and Yungkuo dynasties, and destined as a 
hereditary burial place for all those members of both families who 
should die in the capital. It was maintained from the proceeds of an 
estate which had been bequeathed to the temple in addition to the 
temple lands proper. Thanks to the rich revenues yielded by this con- 
vent farmland, the temple was maintained in the best possible style, and 
on occasions such as the present one neither ample board nor suitable 
accommodation was lacking for the funeral guests. 

Phoenix preferred, however, to spend the three nights until the burial 
in a nunnery situated not far from the Temple of the Iron Railings. Ac- 
cordingly, after the temple bonzes had carried out their priestly duties 
and the majority of the funeral guests had bidden farewell, she repaired 
together with Pao YU and Chin Chung to the Convent of the Watery 
Moon, as it was called. This nunnery was also known as the "Bread 
Convent" among the country folk around, because it had a bakery 
which produced excellent bread. The Abbess, with two younger nuns, 
received the guests at the convent gate and accompanied them to their 
guest cells. Then, while Phoenix and the Abbess sat down for a good 
long chat over a bowl of tea, Pao Yu and Chin Chung passed the time 
strolling through the courtyards and halls and examining the interior 
of the convent. "There goes Chi Neng," remarked Pao Yu suddenly, 
nudging his companion. Chi Neng was one of the two young nuns who 
had received them shortly before. 

"Yes, but what about her?" answered Chin Chung with affected in- 
difference. 

"Do not be such a humbugl" said Pao Yu, laughing. "Who was it 
who embraced her so tenderly in Grandmother's room one time when 
no one was looking, eh?" 

"It would never occur to me to do such a thing!" retorted Chin 
Chung, embarrassed. 

"Well, I will not interfere. But will you please speak to her and ask 
her to bring us some tea?" 

Chin Chung did as he was bidden. "Little Neng," he called out, 
"please be so good as to bring us some tea." From her childhood little 
Chi Neng had been frequently in and out of the Yungkuo palace on 
messages from the convent. Everyone in the palace knew her, and Pao 
Yu and Chin Chung had already exchanged many a glance and many a 

108 



Q "WcSJ2% J& 

. ^-^/r^^L / 







joke with her. Now she had grown into a mature young woman and had 
gradually awakened to an awareness of the Play of Wind and Moon. 
The handsome, lively Chin Chung had won her heart, and he on his 
part had become very fond of the charming creature. True, they had 
not yet had an opportunity of indulging in intimacy, but in their secret 
hearts they had long been united. 

So Chi Neng ran into the kitchen, and after a while, with a pot of tea 
in one hand and a plate of cakes in the other, came along to the guest 
cell occupied by the two young boys. The two held out their tea bowls 
to her at the same time. 

"Me first, please!" begged Chin Chung. 

"No, me first!" pleaded Pao Yu. 

"What contention for a bowl of tea!" she said, her lips curling in a 
pert smile. "You are really behaving as if it were honey to be licked off 
my hand." In the end Pao Yu succeeded in having his bowl filled first. 
While seeming to sip the drink, he tried to engage Chi Neng in conver- 
sation, but unfortunately another nun came along and called her away. 
Strangely enough, as soon as she was gone the two boys suddenly found 
they had no more appetite for tea and cakes, and leaving both almost 
untouched, they went out again in search of new discoveries. 

When Phoenix retired in the evening to her "Cell of Immaculate 
Chastity," the Abbess who accompanied her, seeing that only a few 
trusted chambermaids were near, broached the subject of a personal 
request. 

"I have something on my mind," she said, "which I should like to 
discuss one of these days with your aunt, the Tai tai Cheng, but I should 
like to have your good advice first," she began. 

"Please speak out and tell me what it is," replied Phoenix. 

"Holy Amida Buddha ! I have to begin rather far back," groaned the 
Abbess. Then she went on: 

"You will recall that before I took over the rule of this convent, I 
was Abbess of the Convent of Good Works in the Chang an district. A 
rich patron of that convent, one Mr. Chang, used to stay in the convent 
every year with his family in order to offer sacrifices and burn incense 
with pious devotion. He has got a daughter named King Kuo. During 
one of these visits it happened that a young Mr. Li, a brother-in-law of 
the Prefect of Chang an, was staying with us too, and he saw the young 
lady King Kuo. He fell in love with her at first sight and insisted that 
he wanted to marry her, but when he sent his intermediaries to Mr. 
Chang's house he heard to his grief that King Kuo was already formally 
engaged to the son of the City Commandant of Chang an. Therefore 
Mr. Chang could not do otherwise than refuse the suit of young Mr. Li. 

"But young Li would not take no for an answer, and insisted upon 

110 



pursuing his suit. Mr. Chang, who did not at all like getting into bad 
terms with the family of the mighty prefect, was extremely embarrassed 
and felt inclined to give way to, his wishes. Unfortunately, the City 
Commandant, hearing of young Li's designs, came rushing along an- 
grily to Mr. Chang and made a terrible scene. It was a nice state of 
affairs if a young lady could contract several engagements at the same 
time, he stormed. He had no intention whatsoever of renouncing the 
first engagement and giving up the girl, and he would go to law. He 
did in fact bring an action against Mr. Chang for the fulfillment of the 
promise of marriage. Mr. Chang, who definitely wished to get out of the 
first engagement, turned in his dilemma to me with the request that I 
should find some influential advocate for him in the capital, he did not 
mind at what cost. Now, as I was Abbess there at the time, I feel that I 
am primarily responsible for the fact that young Li and Miss King Kuo 
met in the convent, and I also feel indebted to Mr. Chang for old times' 
sake. Therefore, I was unable to refuse his request and I promised him 
that I would do my best for him. 

"For this purpose my intention was to avail of the kind support of 
your aunt. As far as I know, Marshal Yun Kwang of Chang an is a good 
friend of your family, and if your aunt would move her husband to 
write requesting the Marshal to intervene, I have no doubt but that the 
City Commandant would give way to pressure from his commanding 
officer, the Marshal. If your aunt should be disposed to take up the 
matter, Mr. Chang would be ready to make any monetary sacrifice, 
even if it were to make him bankrupt." 
Phoenix had listened attentively. 

"The matter in itself offers no difficulties," she remarked with a 
smile, "but of late my aunt has not concerned herself with requests and 
acts of mediation of that kind." 

"Oh, but could not you yourself take up the matter, esteemed Nai 
nai?" 

"I am not interested in money, and moreover I do not concern myself 
with such transactions," said Phoenix, discouragingly. 

But the Abbess would not let the personal advantage which the busi- 
ness offered her escape her so easily. She searched strenuously for an- 
other argument to win Phoenix. At last she found it. With a sigh she 
continued: "Mr, Chang already knows that I intended to seek influence 
for him in your palace. What will he think, then, if my efforts are in 
vain? It will simply not occur to him that you refrain from such trans- 
actions as a matter of principle and that you scorn monetary gain. He 
will think, on the contrary, that your family is so lacking- in power and 
influence that it cannot carry through even such a trifling matter as 
that." 

Ill 



This argument worked. Phoenix felt her family honor attacked, and 
she saw in this a convenient excuse for giving up her attitude of aloof- 
ness. In actual fact she by no means despised a little financial gain. 

"Oho, you have known me for quite a long time," she said vehe- 
mently, "and you should surely know that I do not fear even the devil 
himself and his court, when it is a question of getting my way. So, let 
Mr. Chang produce three thousand ounces of silver and I will have the 
matter put right for him." 

"Splendid, if that's all you want!" cried the Abbess, delighted. 

"But let him not imagine for a moment that it is for his money I will 
help him," continued Phoenix. "To pull strange, stubborn oxen by the 
halter for money! That is something which I prefer to leave to other 
people. I need those three thousand ounces of 'silver merely for the 
expenses of my emissaries, so that they shall have a little tip for their 
trouble and their running hither and thither. I do not ask a single cop- 
per coin for myself. At the moment I have ten times as much some 
thirty thousand silver ounces -over and to spare, so I am in no need 
of money." 

"Yes, of course. And may one trust that the gracious Nai nai will lose 
no time, but will get to work straight away tomorrow to fulfill her 
kindly promise?" 

"You see for yourself, I am sure, how extremely busy I am, and how 
everyone turns to me. But since I have given my word, you may count 
upon my fulfilling it promptly." 

"Good. My mind is at rest now. And since I know that the matter is 
now in your hands, I have no doubt as to its successful outcome," flat- 
tered the Abbess. "A clever, energetic woman like you succeeds so 
easily. She has only to give one little wink." 

Praise such as this pleased Phoenix, and though she was tired, she 
remained quite a while longer talking earnestly with the Abbess. 

Meanwhile Pao Yu and Chin Chung had availed of their free time to 
examine the convent thoroughly and observe its various apartments 
in detail. Therefore, when the evening grew darker, Chin Chung had 
little difficulty in finding his way unseen to Sister Chi Neng's cell. And 
he was lucky, too. She was alone, busily washing up tea things by the 
light of a lamp. Without any more ado he took her in his arms and 
hugged and kissed her as hard as he could. At first the little creature 
resisted fiercely and stamped and kicked, in an effort to free herself. 

"What do you mean?" she cried. "I'll scream out!" But she did not 
scream. 

"Darling, I am dying of longing for you!" he pleaded. "And if you 
don't listen to me I shall die here on the spot." 

"What are you thinking of? Here in this narrow convent cell, where 

112 



we may be surprised at any moment? It won't do here! Have patience 
until I am out of this and free," she whispered. 

"That is cold comfort for my burning need. Fire such as mine must 
be quenched at once," he groaned. And already he had blown out the 
lamp, leaving the room in pitch darkness. Now she no longer put up 
much resistance, but let him lift her up and carry her over to her kang. 
True, she struggled a bit and bent and swayed, but she did not cry out, 
and she let him have his way. He was in full swing, and the cloud was 
about to discharge its rain, when the couple sudden! felt themselves 
grasped by a strange hand and torn apart. Whoever it was had crept in 
silent and unobserved. The hearts of the lovers almost stood still with 
fright. The intruder now betrayed his identity by a suppressed giggle. 
It was Pao Yu. Chin Chung leaped to his feet. 

"What do you mean by this?" he cried, enraged. 

"Let me in on your bit of fun, too. If you do not, I will raise the 
alarm," threatened Pao Yu, laughing. 

But the frightened Chi Neng had already fled from her cell under 
cover of the darkness. Pao Yu drew his friend out of the room with 
him. 

"Now, which of the two of us is the stronger?" he asked jokingly. 

"Very well, you may come in on our game as much as you like in the 
future," replied the other, speedily mollified. 

The next morning Madame Cheng sent for Pao Yu, asking him to 
come home at once. But Pao Yu had so enjoyed his brief stay in the 
Convent of the Watery Moon that he contrived to get permission 
through Phoenix to remain on there one more night with his friend. 
Then, on the third day, they returned together t6 the town, after Chin 
Chung and the nun Chi Neng had exchanged numerous kisses and come 
to many secret agreements. 

In fulfillment of her word to the Abbess, Phoenix had already, the 
previous day, confided the aforementioned matter to one of her confi- 
dential servants, Lai Wang, and sent him back to the Yungkuo palace 
with instructions to get a letter written to Marshal Yun Kwang of 
Chang an, ostensibly on behalf of her absent husband, Chia Lien, by 
the latter's secretary. He rushed off to Chang an with this letter the 
same day. The Marshal, who was indebted to the Yungkuo palace for 
previous good services, could not do otherwise than accede willingly to 
a request coming from thence. He accordingly exercised the desired 
pressure on his subordinate, the City Commandant, to such good effect 
that the latter relinquished his resistance and cancelled the engagement 
between his son and the daughter of the rich citizen Chang. 

It had taken barely two days to carry through the whole transaction, 
for the distance between Chang an and the capital was only a hundred 

113 



li. There was naturally no question of heavy outlay in tips and the lik. 
Phoenix kept the tidy little sum of three thousand taels all for herself, 
and nobody in the Yungkuo palace except the trusted servant Lai Wang 
and her husband's secretary heard a word about the whole matter. This 
success strengthened Phoenix's self-confidence and encouraged her to 
undertake numerous similar shady transactions later on, on her own 
initiative, undeterred by any qualms of conscience. 



CHAPTER 13 

Beginning of Spring is exalted by Imperial favor and chosen to be 

Mistress of the Phoenix Palace. Chin Chung sets out prematurely on his 

journey to the Yellow Springs. 

C/NE DAY, WHEN THE BIRTHDAY OF CHIA CHENG WAS BEING CELEBRATED 

in the Yungkuo palace by a great family banquet, a doorkeeper ap- 
peared suddenly in the midst of the feasting and announced excitedly: 
"The chief Imperial eunuch, Hsia, superintendent of the six royal 
harems, is outside. He bears an Imperial message/' 

The announcement naturally put the whole company into a state of 
commotion. The banquet and the theatrical performance were aban- 
doned at once. The male heads of the families hastened to the great 
reception hall, where they gathered around an incense table which was 
specially reserved for receiving Imperial messages; an order was given 
to open the center panels of all the doors for the Imperial ambassador, 
and the company, kneeling in devout silence, awaited the arrival of the 
chief eunuch. He was already approaching on horseback, accompanied 
by a large retinue of under-eunuchs. He dismounted in front of the en- 
trance to the great hall and, with a smile on his face, mounted the steps 
leading to the south front of the hall. There he remained standing, and 
did not, as expected, produce a written decree, but simply announced: 
"At the command of the Most High One, Master Chia Cheng shall pro- 
ceed at once to the Hall of Respectful Approach for an audience." 

Having pronounced this brief message, he left forthwith without even 
taking a sip of tea. Everyone was puzzled. Was the mysterious message 
to be interpreted favorably or unfavorably? But Mr. Cheng had no time 
to consider the matter at length. He changed quickly into Court attire, 
got in his carriage, and hastened to the palace. 

Tortured with uncertainty, the Princess Ancestress sent one mounted 
messenger after another at short intervals after him. Nevertheless, she 
had to wait two double hours before any news arrived. At last four 

114 



breathless, gasping servants reached, all at the same time, the inner gate 
which led to the apartments of the Princess Ancestress. 

"Good news!" they cried from a distance. "Our master asks the old 
Tai tai to go at once to the Imperial Palace together with the other 
ladies of the house, to render thanks for Imperial favor." 

The Princess Ancestress, who happened at the time to be pacing up 
and down the covered corridor of the inner courtyard with the other 
ladies, all of them in the same state of restiveness and expectation, 
beckoned the eldest of the four servants, one Lai Ta, and asked for 
more detailed information. 

"We only got as far as the outer porch in front of the audience hall," 
reported Lai Ta. "From there we could not hear what was going on in- 
side. But then the chief eunuch Hsia came out and informed us that our 
house had met with great good fortune, for the eldest daughter of our 
house had been raised t the rank of a 'noble and virtuous' Imperial 
wife of the first rank and appointed mistress of the Phoenix Palace. 
Later our master himself came out for a moment, confirmed this news, 
and ordered us to come as quickly as possible and call the old Tai tai to 
an audience of thanks in the palace." 

This happy news freed the ladies from all their anxious doubts, and 
proud joy was visible on every face. The Princess Ancestress and the 
Princesses Shieh and Chen and Madame Cheng all hastened to attire 
themselves in the ceremonial robes proper to their rank, mounted four 
large litters, and proceeding like a shoal of fishes, one after the other, 
set out for the Imperial Palace. The Princes Shieh and Chen followed 
behind with Chia Yung and Chia Chiang. 

Only one person remained untouched by the joyful spirits which had 
taken possession of all the inhabitants of the Yungkuo and Ningkuo 
palaces, both masters and servants, and that was Pao Yu. For he was 
oppressed with anxiety for his friend Chin Chung, who had come back 
grievously ill from his two-day visit to the Convent of the Watery 
Moon. He had always been a delicate youth, and he had to do penance 
now with a severe feverish cold for his surreptitious nocturnal journeys 
to Chi Neng's cell, and the sudden change from the warmth of his bed 
to the cold night air, and since his return from the country he had 
been confined to bed. Mental excitement contributed to make his condi- 
tion worse. Urged by longing to see him, Chi Neng had paid him a 
secret visit one day, but unfortunately she encountered his father, who 
drove her from his threshold with words of abuse. Chin Chung had 
come in for a beating too; but the old gentleman had died of excitement 
a few days later. Now, alas too late, Chin Chung repented of his fri- 
volity. Bitter self-reproach and grief for the loss of his father weakened 

115 



his physical resistance utterly, he felt more wretched day by day, and 
was slowly and steadily pining away. 

That was why Pao Yu could work up no enthusiasm for the good for- 
tune of his sister, Beginning of Spring. He did not take the smallest part 
in all the excitements of those days his father's and mother's and 
grandmother's audience with the Son of Heaven, and the visits of 
congratulation paid by relatives and friends. Weary and indifferent, he 
sat moping in his room, and when anyone teased or reproved him for 
his strange behavior he became irritable and shut himself off still more 
from the company of the others. 

There was only one thing which could cheer him up a bit, and that 
was the return of Black Jade. Her father, Ling Ju Hai, had died in the 
meantime, and after the obsequies had been carried through and the 
inheritance put in order with the help of her cousin Chia Lien, the two 
cousins had returned together to the capital. 

"Now she will never leave you again," Phoenix had said with a smile 
to Pao Yu, on Black Jade's return. The reunion of Pao Yu and his now 
completely orphaned cousin was joyful and sorrowful at the same time, 
and tears flowed freely on both sides. After the parting of several 
months, Pao Yu found Black Jade considerably more mature and far 
more beautiful and attractive than before. She had brought back a 
whole library of books with her, and also various graceful objects for 
the writing table, and these she shared out among her cousins and Pao 
Yu. Wishing to show himself grateful, Pao Yu sought to honor her with 
a gift of the prayer chaplet which the Prince of the Northern Quietness 
had given him, but his gift- did not please Black Jade at all. It immedi- 
ately roused her jealousy of the Prince. 

"Shall I thank you for a thing that has been worn already by a 
strange man?" she cried disdainfully, flinging the chaplet on the 
ground. He picked it up and took it back in silence. 

Phoenix and her husband Chia Lien naturally had a great deal to tell 
each other the first day of their reunion. Phoenix had just finished her 
long repprt of her seven weeks in charge of the Ningkuo palace when 
the little handmaiden Ping stuck her head in the door. When she saw 
that Chia Lien was there she stopped short and was just about to disap- 
pear .again. 

"What is it?" Phoenix called after her. 

"Nothing special. Mrs. Hsueh of the Pear Garden sent Sister Lotus 
over for some information. I have already given it to her and she has 
gone away again," replied Little Ping, slipping out again. 

"Lotus? Is not that the charming young slave whom Cousin Hsueh 
Pan bought in Ying tien shortly before coming here?" remarked Chia 
Lien with a smirk. "When I was over in the Pear Garden just now pay- 

116 



ing my respects to Aunt Hsueh on my return, I saw a strikingly pretty 
young thing there. I had never seen her before, and then I heard from 
Aunt Hsueh that she was that girl, Lotus. She looked really quite en- 
chanting. What a pity that she belongs to Cousin Hsueh Pan. She is far 
too good for the fool!" 

"My word! Here's a man just back from a long journey. He has had 
a surfeit of beautiful women in Suchow and Hanchow, and still he is not 
satisfied!" said Phoenix laughing. "Well, then, if you find little Lotus so 
charming, you shall have her. I have only to exchange her for our Little 
Ping and bring her over here for myself. I believe Cousin Hsueh Pan is 
tired of her already. He is one of those insatiable and fickle men who 
while they are eating one dish always keep watching for the next. He 
nearly talked his mother to death to persuade her to give him the girl. 
Aunt Hsueh gave in at last, and handed him over the little one with all 
due solemnity to be his concubine. And she's not an ordinary slave girl 
at all, but seems in her whole person and in all her ways to be more like 
a well-brought-up girl from a good family. But the fellow hardly had her 
two weeks when he ceased even to look at her, and threw her on the 
scrap-heap like all the crowd of cheap, ordinary girls he has had. I am 
really sorry for the poor thing ! " 

Chia Lien had no chance to reply, for a servant came in to call him to 
his father, Prince Shieh, who awaited him in the library. When he was 
gone Phoenix called her little maid, Ping. 

"What did Aunt Hsueh want when she sent Lotus over just now?" 
she asked. 

"She wanted nothing and she sent nobody over. I was just fibbing a 
bit, but it was a white lie," replied the maid with a sly smile. "Lai 
Wang's wife came to bring you some interest. Could the stupid creature 
not have found a more suitable time to do it? She had to blunder in 
just when your husband was there, and she did it purposely so that he 
should get to know of your business and learn that you have private 
funds at your disposal. If he knew that he would be even more spend- 
thrift than he is already. Luckily, I was able to intercept old Mrs. Wang 
just in time and get the money from her." 

"Bravo! You have acted most cleverly!" said Phoenix appreciatively. 
"I was really wondering what on earth should have made Aunt Hsueh 
interrupt my first chat with my husband so rudely and inconsiderately." 

After a little time Chia Lien returned, and just after that in came 
Mother Chao, his old nurse, to welcome him home after his long ab- 
sence. She was most cordially invited to sit down, food and drink were 
served to her, and Phoenix settled down to listen to her conversation. 
But Chia Lien only half listened to her leisurely chatter; he ate and 
drank in an absent-minded way, and his thoughts were obviously else- 

117 



where. Would they please excuse him for not taking part in the conver- 
sation, but he was in a hurry and had to go over at once for an impor- 
tant discussion with Prince Chen, so he said. 

"Do not let us detain you, but what had the old gentleman to discuss 
with you just a little time ago?" asked Phoenix. 

"He spoke about the coming visit of filial reverence." 

"Has the visit been already approved by the Court?" 

"Not yet formally. But it is as good as certain." 

"Is it really?" cried Phoenix, joyfully. "That would indeed be a quite 
new and unprecedented act of grace on the part of our present mon- 
arch, and one of which there is no record either in our historical annals 
or in our theatrical pieces." 

"What is all this talk about?" asked Mother Chao stupidly. "For the 
past few days I have heard everyone here talking and chattering about 
a visit of filial reverence, but I have grown dull from old age and I 
could not make head or tail of all the talk." 

"I will explain the matter to you," said Chia Lien. "Our present Son 
of Heaven is a great advocate of filial reverence. He regards the respect- 
ful attitude of children to their parents as a universal law of nature 
which is binding upon the whole human race regardless of difference of 
class; and he considers that the maintenance of filial reverence is the 
most important duty of a wise government, because by it human society 
can be kept in order in the simplest, most natural way. Our reigning 
monarch himself shines forth with good example in this respect by sur- 
rounding his aged parents, their former Majesties, with every conceiv- 
able sign of filial love, day and night. And yet he considers that he does 
not fulfill his filial duty as completely as he would wish to do, so stern 
and exalted are his ideals. 

"Now, he has come to the conclusion that his wives and secondary 
wives and other worthy persons who dedicate their lives to the service 
of the palace are hindered in the expression of their natural feelings of 
filial reverence and must suffer spiritually by their long years of separa- 
tion from their fathers and mothers, and that the parents, on their part, 
who pine for the daughters who have been torn from them have much 
to endure from this state of things. He has decided that the divinely 
appointed harmony which should reign in human society is severely in- 
jured by this. Moved by these considerations, he has had a memo- 
randum presented to his parents, their former Majesties, in which he 
has suggested that parents of the Imperial wives shall be permitted in 
future to come to the palace to visit their daughters on the second and 
sixth days of each month alternately. 

"Their former Imperial Majesties were most deeply moved by this 
suggestion, the noble motives of which they fully recognized, but they 

118 



expressed the fear that such private visits of relatives might be detri- 
mental to the majesty and dignity of the Imperial Palace. In a decree 
which has been published they have now made the alternative ruling 
that the Imperial wives and secondary wives should be permitted, 6n 
request, to visit their parents, provided that the parents have at their 
disposal suitable separate apartments for the worthy reception and 
accommodation of an inmate of the Imperial Palace and her suite. 

"As can be imagined, this gracious decree has been greeted every- 
where with tears of joy. The Emperor's secondary wives Chou and Wu 
are the first who will avail of this grace of the All Highest. Their respec- 
tive fathers are already busily preparing a worthy place to receive them 
on their visit." 

"Holy Buddha!" exclaimed Mother Chao. "Then we also shall have 
to get ready here for a visit from the eldest daughter of the house?" 

"Yes, naturally," replied Chia Lien, smiling. "Otherwise why would 
there be so many important matters to discuss and consult about?" 

"That is splendid! Now I shall at last get a glimpse of the world of 
the great!" cried Phoenix joyfully. "I have always bemoaned my mis- 
fortune in having come into the world several years too late. If I were 
twenty or- thirty years older I would not have had to stay at home here, 
being treated as a stupid, inexperienced child. I too would have seen 
the first ruler of our present dynasty when he made his celebrated 
journey through the kingdom, in order, following the example of the 
Emperor Shun of old, to see for himself how justice was being adminis- 
tered. To really take part in something like that is so much more inter- 
esting than any learning from Head books." 

"Yes, indeed, something like that happens only once in a thousand 
years. I well remember what you are referring to," interjected Mother 
Chao, eagerly. "Our Chia family lived at that time in the neighborhood 
of Suchow and Hanchow and had charge of the Imperial wharves and 
dykes. I was present when the Son of Heaven was received in those 
parts. Oh, indeed, a reception like that swallows a whole heap of 
money." 

"On that occasion my grandfather received the Son of Heaven in his 
house," declared Phoenix proudly. "He was Commissar for Tributes 
and for Foreign Relations at that time. All tributes from foreign coun- 
tries passed through his hands, and all ambassadors from abroad had 
to dismount at his house first. An immense amount of goods and treas- 
ures which foreign ships brought from the southern ports came into the 
possession of our family in those days." 

A servant entered and announced the two nephews, Chia Yung and 
Chia Chiang, from the Ningkuo palace. They were let in. 

"Father sends you word, Uncle, that the land for the reception has 

119 



already been measured and marked out," announced Chia Yung. "It 
unites the park of the eastern palace and that of the western one and 
measures three and a half li wide, therefore it is quite sufficient for a 
dignified place of reception for the distinguished visitor. An architect 
has already been instructed to prepare the sketches of the necessary 
buildings, and he will present his plans tomorrow. As Father assumes 
that you are tired from your journey, he asks us to say that you need 
not trouble to come over today; and would you please postpone your 
visit until tomorrow morning if you wish to discuss anything." 

"Tell vour father that I thank him very much for his kind considera- 
tion and I shall not go over until tomorrow morning," replied Chia 
Lien. "Tell him that I agree fully regarding the place that has been 
arranged; it seems to me to be a most fortunate arrangement in every 
way. It will save us very considerable expense as it obviates the neces- 
sity of acquiring a piece of ground specially for this one visit." 

Chia Chiang then stepped forward and began to speak. 

"I have been instructed to travel to Suchow," he said, "and there to 
entrust capable agents with the task of finding outstandingly accom- 
plished young dancing girls as well as musical instruments and theater 
requisites. Two sons of the majordomo Lai Sheng will accompany me, 
anc 3 . Uncle asks you to please give me two of your people as well." 

Chia Lien measured the youthful speaker with a critical eye. "Can 
you trust yourself to carry out this task, worthy nephew?" he asked. 
"True, it is not an immense one, but all the same . . ." he remarked 
somewhat sarcastically. 

Chia Chiang, who was standing right beside Phoenix outside the ra- 
dius of the lamplight, plucked her dress surreptitiously. Phoenix under- 
stood the hint. 

"You are overanxious," she said to her husband with a reassuring 
smile. "Cousin Chen is surely able to judge better than we are who are 
suitable persons to whom to entrust his commissions. The boys are no 
longer children, and even if they have not yet probed the mystery of the 
taste of roast pork, they have at least already seen a live pig running 
about the road and they know what it looks like in its living state. And 
after all, Uncle Chen has only sent them into the fray as standard- 
bearers. He hardly expects them to wage the battle themselves; in other 
words, to bargain over prices with the agents. That is what our people 
will be there for. Let them go ! They will get on all right." 

"Very well, I have no objections," Chia Lien assured her. "But per- 
haps I can help them with some advice. 

"Where are you getting the necessary funds from?" he asked, turn- 
ing to Chia Chiang. 

"Our princely master has already instructed us regarding that," re- 



plied Chia Chiang. "We do not need to take any money from the funds 
here, as the Chia family has a credit of fifty thousand silver taels with 
the Chen family in Kiang nan, where we shall be stopping on our jour- 
ney. He will give us a draft for thirty thousand taels, with which we can 
draw on this credit. The remaining twenty thousand taels will be used 
later for the purchase of lanterns, colored candles, banners, pennants, 
cloth for curtains, and other festive decorations." 

Chia Lien nodded approvingly. Phoenix decided upon two sons of 
Mother Chao as travelling companions and assistants for Chia Chiang, 
then she bade them good-by. Chia Yung went after her and, before she 
reached the door, said he had to have a private word with her. 

"If you want anything from Suchow, dear. Aunt, just write it all out 
on a list," he whispered; "I will give the list to my brother and he will 
attend to it promptly on the journey." 

"Oh, what a silly idea!" she laughed, parrying his offer. "I do not 
want a thing. On the contrary, I have not got sufficient space for all the 
stuff which I have! What odd, artful ideas you get!" 

And off she went. 

Meanwhile, inside the room, Chia Chiang was importuning his elder 
cousin in -exactly the same way. "If there is anything you want, I shall 
not fail to get it for you along with my other commissions, and lay it at 
your feet as a small token of my respect," he was saying glibly. But 
Chia Lien too dismissed the offer with thanks. 

"Not so fast, my boy! Beginners like you should stick to the job in 
hand in your first transactions, and not start distracting yourselves with 
trifles. If I want anything I shall write," he added smiling, and sent 
the two young people off. 

The next morning Chia Lien went to Prince Chen. Various experts 
among the friends of the families and some of the older and more ex- 
perienced members of the household staffs were present, and there was 
a great consultation, building plans were examined, and questions of 
labor and materials thoroughly discussed. 

That same day a lively scene of building activity commenced at the 
western side o the Ningkuo palace and the eastern side of the Yungkuo 
palace. Laborers, carpenters, and builders came in hordes, and a cease- 
less succession of carts and handbarrows full of building materials 
timber, bricks, glazed roof tiles, gold, silver, copper, and tin rolled in. 
At one side outer walls, turrets, and pavilions were pulled down in the 
Garden of Assembled Perfumes; at the other side the whole former 
block of servants' residential quarters was torn down in order to make 
way for one continuous area of magnificent pleasure gardens and pa- 
vilions. 

Here we must mention that the two estates were separated merely by 

121 



a narrow private path enclosed by high walls. It was therefore only nec- 
essary to knock down the walls in order to turn the whole domain quite 
easily into one single piece of territory. Moreover, a stream flowed 
through the Garden of Assembled Perfumes, and it was found possible 
to divert this stream into the Yungkuo park without difficulty, so that 
waterworks could be contrived at a reasonable cost. The Ningkuo pal- 
ace grounds, again, were lacking in artificial hills, rocks, and trees. This 
lack was overcome by transporting, for the time being, from Prince 
Shieh's residence and grounds, which were really part of the original 
Yungkuo park, several hills and pieces of rock as well as a number of 
trees, bridges, and balustrades, and setting them down again in the Ning- 
kuo palace grounds. In this way a great deal of money which would 
have had to be spent on new materials was saved, and the aim of achiev- 
ing a single and continuous new layout of magnificent ornamental gar- 
dens was achieved under the expert guidance of the capable old Hu, a 
former Court architect, in an astonishingly short space of time. 

New rocky gorges, ponds, waterfalls, airy pavilions and pagodas, 
bamboo hedges and flowery groves came into being. The male members 
of the families of both palaces conscientiously shared the supervision of 
the work. To be sure, Prince Shieh and Chia Cheng remained out of 
things for the most part; the latter was too greatly occupied with his 
ministerial office, while the former loved the leisure of his library, and 
left it to his son Chia Lien to represent him and to report to him in 
writing from time to time on the progress of the work. Prince Chen with 
his majordomo supervised the actual building operations and the rolls 
of work people; his son Chia Yung supervised the metal work in gold 
and silver. And so each one had his clearly defined field of activity. As 
already mentioned, owing to the illness of his friend Chin Chung, Pao 
Yu took scarcely any part in all the busy doings which were going on 
in the house. Even the fact that his father, owing to his many other 
urgent occupations during that time, was unable to watch him and 
supervise his studies as much as usual, failed to cheer his depressed 
spirits, as it would assuredly have done at another time. 

One morning his inner unrest drove him out of bed just at break of 
dawn. While he was dressing he was informed that an old servant of his 
friend had come to call him urgently to the sickbed. Filled with anxious 
forebodings, he hastened to his friend's house; but he came too late. 
The sick boy, whom he found lying on his bed with wax-white face and 
closed eyes, painfully gasping for breath, made no reply to his thrice- 
repeated cry: "Brother Chin, Pao Yu is here!" Unable to utter one 
word of farewell, he had breathed out his last remnant of breath in the 
presence of his friend and set out on his journey to the Yellow Springs. 



122 



CHAPTER 14 

Poo Yu reveals his talent in the Park of Delightful Vision. Black Jade 
is annoyed by the bite of a fly. 

1 HE WORK ON THE MAGNIFICENT NEW PLEASURE GROUNDS WAS COM- 

pleted, and one fine day Prince Chen came with his helpers and asso- 
ciates to invite Chia Cheng to view them. 

"The work as a whole is finished," he told him, "and now we would 
like to have your verdict on it, and any suggestions for alterations 
which you may wish to express. But above all we want your suggestions 
for the inscriptions which have not yet been made and which are to em- 
bellish the principal places in the grounds." 

"Hm, these inscriptions are going to offer difficulty," said Chia 
Cheng, thoughtfully. "Strictly speaking, according to the Book of Rites, 
we must leave to our noble guest the honor of deciding upon suitable 
titles and inscriptions; but without a personal impression of the land- 
scape and the scenery the Imperial spouse will lack the necessary in- 
spiration for this. If, on the other hand, we await the happy hour of her 
visit and refrain from putting up any inscription or any motto until 
then, the scenery, despite all its charms, will still lack something es- 
sential." 

"Quite so," they replied. "And to surmount this difficulty it seems to 
us that the best we can do for the time being is to write, in three or four 
characters, only the basic theme of the various inscriptions and mottoes 
and to leave the final composition of the text to our illustrious visitor 
herself to decide at the happy hour of her arrival." 

"I agree; let us, then, commence our tour of inspection, for which 
this lovely spring weather is ideal," decided Chia Cheng,. leading the 
way. It just happened that, as the party approached, Pao Yu was in the 
new park, which he had been visiting frequently of late at his grand- 
mother's wish, to seek distraction after the many weeks of mourning 
for his dead friend. Prince Chen, who had gone on ahead of the rest of 
the company, laughingly advised him to disappear as fast as he could 
because his stern old governor was coming that way. Much frightened, 
Pao Yu hurried towards the exit, but just as he got outside, he ran 
straight into the much-feared parent. There was no way of escape, so 
he stood shyly at the edge of the path waiting for the company to pass 
by. 

"Come with us!" his father ordered tersely and abruptly. He had 
heard recently from old Tai Ju that his scion, while not overstudious in 
school, was showing a truly extraordinary talent for the composition of 
couplets and antitheses. So he wished to test him out a bit today. 

123 



Mr. Cheng stopped first in front of the covered gateway and let the 
impression of the view from outside work upon him. The roofs of the 
five-doored gateway,' which were covered with copper tiles, stood out 
like the shimmering scaly backs of lizards or alligators. The balustrades 
and steps of the marble bridge which led to the entrance were adorned 
with artistically wrought ornaments in the Western style. Neither the 
gateway nor the bridge had any whitewash or paint; both above and 
below everything glittered in the natural white of water-clear marble. 
White was also the color of the lime-washed wall enclosing the whole, 
which ran from left and right of the gateway. The wall rose from a base 
of natural freestones which were ribbed like a tiger's pelt, and cut and 
placed in such a way, one over the other, that they gave the wall a most 
pleasing appearance. The whole impression was that of an unusual 
setting for a beautiful jewel. 

Well content, Mr. Cheng moved on. Just inside the gateway the eye 
was met by a green Bill. 

"What a beautiful hill ! " they all exclaimed, enraptured. 

"This hill, which at first shuts out the view, heightens expectation. If 
one were to see the whole park immediately upon entering, the effect 
would be monotonous," remarked Chia Cheng. 

"Quite so!" the others agreed. "One must have heights and depths to 
enliven the spirit." 

They walked on by a narrow path which wound upwards through a 
narrow gorge formed by mighty, gray rocks overgrown with moss and 
creepers. These rocks, with their grotesque shapes, lying this way and 
that, looked as fantastic as goblins or mighty, fabulous animals. Half- 
way up, in front of a single mirror-bright sheet of stone, they halted. 

"It seems to me that this is the right place for an inscription. What 
name shall we give to this spot? Your suggestions, please, gentlemen!" 
.urged Chia Cheng. 

A dozen suggestions, such as "Stratified Kingfisher Green," "Em- 
broidered Cra'gs," and the like, were heard. Pao Yu was the last to be 
called upon to speak. He gave it frankly and freely as his opinion that 
an inscription would be somewhat premature here, where one had just 
taken the first step into the grounds, but if it were definitely desired to 
adorn this in itself unimportant spot with a motto, he would suggest the 
words, reminiscent of an ancient text: "On twisted paths through twi- 
light shades." There was general applause. 

"This suggestion of our worthy nephew expresses true natural talent. 
Compared with him, we others are only clumsy duffers and dry ped- 
ants," said the seniors, flatteringly. 

"No exaggerated praise, if you please, or the boy will get notions 
about his bit of knowledge. Better laugh at him; it would be more bene- 

124 



ficial to him," objected Chia Cheng, smiling. "At any rate we have still 
got time to consider the matter." 

The path led on through dark grottoes into bright clearings over 
slopes, some covered with bushes, some with trees, and others, again, 
with flowers, along by a babbling brook which here wound sleepily 
through level land and there hopped in gay leaps down towards a valley, 
to disappear into a narrow fell, and finally to disperse in the form of a 
steep, foaming waterfall into a small, shimmering lake. A white marble 
balustrade encircled the shores of the lake, and over its narrow side the 
triple arch of a marble bridge stretched like the gaping jaws of a sea 
monster. The pavilion which stood on the bridge and overhung the 
water was chosen as the next halting place. 

All were fully agreed that this charming water pavilion was not only 
worthy of a poetical name but definitely had to be extolled in a hepta- 
metric couplet. Hence, there followed a lively literary debate in which 
Pao Yu once more had an opportunity of shining. While all the others 
thought at once of an apt quotation from the celebrated ode, "Pavilion 
of a drunken old man," in which the poet glorifies a pavilion near the 
source of the Niang, and wanted to take from this ode the name of 
Waterfall of Jasper, Pao Yu maintained that this was not a suitable 
name. On the occasion of receiving such an exalted visit, one must pay 
heed to etiquette and remember that the ideograph for waterfall also 
stood for something very indelicate, namely, diarrhea, and might there- 
fore cause disgust in the highest quarters. This argument was quite un- 
answerable. Chia Cheng stroked his beard thoughtfully and remarked 
that the boy was full of the spirit of contradiction and that nothing was 
right to him. First he had been all in favor of old quotations, and now 
when an old quotation had been proposed he had an objection to raise 
to it. In the end, Pao Yu's suggestion of "Through Perfumed Glades" 
as title for the place, where a waterfall emerged from a flowery glade, 
found unanimous acceptance, and the couplet which he improvised on 
the spot at his father's wish aroused still more admiration. 

The company next made a round of the lake, in the course of which 
each mount, crag, flower, and tree was the subject of a separate and 
thorough examination. Suddenly they found themselves before a shady 
bamboo grove surrounded by a low, whitewashed wall. Inside this green 
belt lay hidden a friendly little country house, built on piles. 

"What a charming little place!" they all exclaimed. They went in. An 
arbor-covered walk led in zigzag bends from the gateway up to the little 
cottage, which had only three rooms, two of them opening onto open 
verandas, and all three furnished tastefully but with the utmost econ- 
omy of space. From the center room a narrow door led into a back 
garden full of pear trees and banana plants in bloom. From a foot-wide 

125 



opening down by the garden wall a clear spring bubbled, which, turning 
into a babbling brook, wound its way through the garden around the 
little cottage, and splashed down from the bamboo glade, to hasten, 
finally, into the near-by lake. 

"What a delightful spot! Think of sitting here at the window on a 
beautiful moonlit night, studying; that would not be spending one's life 
in vain!" exclaimed Chia Cheng, with a censorious glance at his son, Pao 
Yu, who at once bowed his head timidly. Once more a lively literary 
contest arose regarding a suitable motto, and again it was Pao Yu's idea 
which won the day. He emphasized the fact that the distinguished 
visitor would make her first rest at this spot and that for this reason the 
inscription must contain some pleasant personal allusion. The classical 
quotation which he recommended, "A phoenix comes with grace to 
rest," aroused the general enthusiasm of the seniors no whit less than 
did the further stanza which he had to compose at his father's com- 
mand. His father alone dissented, and was heard to mutter disparag- 
ingly something about "mediocrity" and "the brains of an insect." 

The way now curved around a green projecting hillock, behind which 
there emerged into view a rice plantation protected by low yellow clay 
walls. Adjoining this paddy field was an orchard of some hundreds of 
apricot trees in bloom. Behind the flame-red cloud of blossoms the 
straw-thatched roof of a farmhouse peeped through. At the other side 
of the farmhouse stood a mixed group of trees, such as elms, mulberry 
trees, and cherry trees. Around them was a green hedge and "behind 
this, on a hill, a country well, complete with bucket and lever. Beyond 
the well stretched extensive plantations of choice vegetables, each kind 
in its accurately measured plot. 

"That is what pleases me!" exclaimed Mr. Cheng, enchanted at the 
sight of all the tillage. "A piece of land laid out like that has sense and 
meaning. I cannot contain my feelings, for the sight moves me to the 
depths of my being and awakens my longing for a peaceful country 
life. Let us go in there and rest!" 

But at the same moment he discovered by the wayside, behind the 
j>ath through the hedge, a single block of rock which doubtless lay there 
to invite the wayfarer to sit down and meditate. This rock awaited an 
inscription. "No! Come here instead. It is even lovelier here!" he 
cried from outside, and they all followed him and gathered around 
the slab of rock. Once more a profound literary discussion arose. "Vil- 
lage of Blossoming Apricot" was proposed unanimously by the elders. 
But here again Pao Yu was of another opinion, and this time, no doubt 
emboldened by the previous applause, he put forward his opinion 
somewhat audaciously, without waiting to be asked for it by his father. 
This brought him a sharp paternal reprimand. 

126 



The company now entered the straw-thatched farmhouse. How simple 
it was inside! Parchment panes were pasted over the window frames, 
simple wooden bunks served as beds. Every trace of luxury or refine- 
ment was washed away, as it were. This was all entirely to Mr. Cheng's 
taste. But was it to his son's taste loo? 

"Now, how do you like it here?" he asked, to put him to the test. The 
seniors, who did not fail to see the hidden intention behind this ques- 
tion, tried to convey to Pao Yu by signs and taps that he should answer 
in a manner pleasing to his father. But Pao Yu seemed to be slow of 
comprehension. 

"This one cannot at all compare for beauty with the other co \ntry 
house to which we gave the title ''A phoenix comes with grace to rest' " 
was his glib verdict. 

"Stupid boy!" roared Chia Cheng. "Must you, then, always have red 
balconies and brightly colored pillars? It is plain that, to your depraved 
taste, nothing is beautiful which is not costly and fine. You have no 
understanding whatsoever of the pure charm of nature simplicity which 
this place breathes. In this you betray your utter lack of culture." 

Pao Yu had the impertinence to differ, and plunged into a lengthy 
dissertation on the interpretation of the term "natural," and denying 
that this piece of ground, which only simulated nature, had any real 
naturalness. It was an artificial creation made by human hands, iso- 
lated, and set down without any natural affinity, in an environment en- 
tirely alien to it. True, there were fields here but there was no highroad 
leading to a near-by market in which the crops could be sold; there was 
no village in the neighborhood, no temple on the hill. In fact, it lacked 
this, that, and the other things necessary to maintain the illusion of 
nature, in contrast to the other country house where there was nothing 
contradictory to the surroundings and which, despite the artificial bam- 
boo plantation and the artificial watering, nevertheless merited the ad- 
jective "natural." In his ardor he became more and more theoretical, 
until his father lost patience at last and cut short his stream of elo- 
quence with an angry: "Shut up and be off!" 

Much taken aback, Pao Yu slipped out the gate, only to be immedi- 
ately recalled with a harsh: "Stop! Stay here!" He was not allowed to 
evade dutifully producing the required couplet. 

Pao Yu did his best and improvised a most charming couplet, but his 
father only greeted this latest product of his muse with a muttering, 
"Worse and worse each time!" 

On they went. The path rounded a hill, wound through a flowery field 
in which there was a rock spring surrounded by willows, led to an arbor 
of Kashmir thistles, from there to a grove of peonies, and thence 
through a rose garden to a banana plantation. After various zigzag 



bends they stood before a rock grotto, overhung with creeping plants, 
from which they could hear the rippling sound of water. Here the com- 
pany came to a halt and broke into exclamations of delight. Naturally, 
this again was the right place for a motto. "Wu ling Spring" and 
"Grotto of the Strange Hermit" were suggested, while Pao Yu proposed 
"Bank of the Ferns." "Nonsense!" exclaimed Chia Cheng, cutting short 
the discussion and walking on through the grotto. At the other side its 
noisy brook ran into a silent dam. 

"Can one not go on farther from here in a boat?" asked Chia Cheng. 

"There are to be four boats for picking water lilies and one for row- 
ing," replied Prince Chen, "but unfortunately they are not here yet." 

"What a pity!" 

""Yes, we must go over the mountain on foot," replied Prince Chen, 
taking the lead. A steep mountain path wound upwards along the gorge, 
It was so narrow; indeed, that one had to hold on to shrubs and 
branches. Then it ran down again, and the wayfarers found themselves 
on the edge of a silent, lonely fishpond overhung with willow, peach, 
and apricot trees. At the other end of the fishpond they caught a 
glimpse, between the gre"en foliage of the trees, of a wooden bridge with 
a red railing. Crossing this, they came upon a neat but apparently quite 
tasteless brick house surrounded by a wall. 

"Quite devoid of charm!" was the verdict of Chia Cheng. 

Yet immediately beyond this plain building the landscape became 
romantic once more. For the house lay with its back embedded, as it 
were, in a great boulder-strewn gorge, from which one single rugged 
peak of rock rose steeply upwards. One felt suddenly and completely 
transported to an austere highland landscape Flowers and trees were 
completely absent. Only mosses, rare herbs, and trailing plants which 
exuded aromatic and .exotic perfumes were visible here. 

"This is really interesting," said Chia Cheng, correcting his first im- 
pression. "What a pity one knows so little about these plants." 

His remark encouraged Pao Yu to display .his botanical knowledge. 
In a long dissertation, interlarded with many learned quotations, he 
identified the various plants one after another, glibly rolling off the un- 
familiar botanical names, until his father at last lost patience and 
stopped him with a gruff: "Be silent! Who asked you?" Pao Yu, who 
had rather expected some praise, was so intimidated that he did not 
dare to open his mouth at all for a long time. 

A twin pair of covered corridors led, like two outstretched arms, 
from this alpine herdsman's hut to an ornate building. This one con- 
sisted of five rooms, was completely encircled by an open veranda, and, 
with its graceful curved root, its prettily varnished walls, and the green 

128 



gauze curtains at the windows, it made an even more pleasing impres- 
sion than the various buildings which had been viewed up to this. 

"If a man could brew his tea and peacefully play his lute here, he 
could even find consolation and escape from the thought that he would 
die without a son and have no one to offer sacrifice and burn incense 
for him after his death," sighed Chia Cheng. Then, while the usual liter- 
ary debate was going on, he turned brusquely to his son, who was still 
remaining silent. 

"Why do you not speak when you should?" he asked. "No doubt you 
are waiting to be politely requested to grant us the favor of your gra- 
cious instruction?" 

Pao Yu could not evade the paternal challenge, and once more his 
motto and his couplet met with the unanimous applause of the seniors. 
But Mr. Cheng muttered something disparaging about "plagiarism" 
and quoted the original verse upon which Pao Yu had based his compo- 
sition. The seniors, however, defended Pao Yu and asserted that at that 
rate even the great Li Tai Po himself could be accused of plagiarism, 
since he had based his ode, "The Terrace of the Phoenix" entirely upon 
an earlier poem, "The Tower of the Yellow Crane." What mattered was 
the excellence of the new version, and in this case Pao Yu's was de- 
cidedly better than the original. 

A gruff "Nonsense" was Mr. Cheng's only reply. 

After a short walk they reached a high and magnificent castle. A 
pleasure gallery one story high led from this, in many curves and wind- 
ings, far into the countryside. The tops of pine trees caressed the edges 
of the roofs. The marble terraces were lined with orchids. The bodies of 
dragons and other fabulous animals glittered in gold, silver and bronze. 

"The main hall," cried Mr. Cheng. "The only fault one can find with 
it is a certain excess of magnificence." 

"We are aware that the Imperial spouse values simplicity, yet con- 
sidering her high rank the outlay entailed here did not seem to us to be 
excessive, but on the contrary called for as our due tribute of respect," 
the others replied. 

On they went until they came to a high triumphal arch made of soft 
white soapstone. Its frieze was ornamented with a design of dragons in 
bas-relief. 

"What title shall we give this?" asked Mr. Cheng. "Entrance to the 
Domain of the Blessed Spirits" was the unanimous suggestion. Pao Yu 
was sunk deep in thought. The remembrance of a similar stone arch 
which he had once seen though he could not remember when neither 
the day, the month, or the year had been reawakened in him. He was 
so lost in thought that he still remained silent even when his father 
asked him for a title. 



"Give him until tomorrow!" the seniors urged Mr. Cheng. They as- 
sumed that Pao Yu was so exhausted from being asked so often that his 
brain had now ceased to function, and they feared that if he was too 
much harried and goaded like an ox in harness his health might suffer, 
and then they would have to expect the reproaches of the Princess An- 
cestress. Did not Mr. Cheng think the same? 

"Ha, ha, the infant prodigy has reached the end of his wits," he 
jeered. "Yes, you may be right." Then, turning to the boy: "Very well, 
I give you until tomorrow, but woe betide you if you have not found a 
title by then. You will pay for it!" 

It was now decided to cut short the tour of inspection somewhat, for 
there was too much to be seen. Of all the parks and grounds, only about 
five- or six-tenths had been viewed so far. The company halted once 
more near a big bridge. Here there was a weir, over which the dammed- 
up watercourse dropped like a glistening crystal curtain. 

"What name shall we give this weir?" asked Mr. Cheng. 

"Weir of Penetrating Perfumes," suggested Pao Yu. 

"Rubbish! Out of the question!" snapped Mr. Cheng, cutting short 
the debate and striding on. There followed in gay succession imposing 
halls and simple straw-thatched huts, massive brick walls and graceful, 
flowery arbors, silent mountain temples, hermits' cells hidden in dense 
woods, and witches' caves where love potions might be brewed, pleasure 
galleries and winding cloisters cut out of rock, angular kiosks, circular 
pavilions, and many other things worth looking at. But Mr. Cheng did 
not give himself time to stop everywhere. His legs were tired from walk- 
ing for such a long time, and he pressed on towards the exit. 

A separately hedged off part of the park now emerged into view. 

"Let us go and rest in there for a while," suggested Mr. Cheng. They 
turned aside from the road and, passing under peach trees in bloorn and 
through a rose arbor made of tall bamboo rods, came to a circular 
moon gateway. Right and left of the gateway was an encircling white- 
washed wall, shaded with willows from the outside. Along the side of 
the wall ran a covered pleasure gallery. Apart from a few banana plants 
which stood among groups of rocks, the courtyard contained only one 
magnificent specimen of that rare plant, the golden begonia. Its crown 
spread out like an open umbrella, its branches shimmered like golden 
threads, the calices of its flowers seemed as it were to spit out ver- 
milion. 

"What magnificent blossoms!" they all cried in chorus. "Was such a 
magnificent specimen ever seen before?" 

"It is the foreign kind which is called 'Maiden Begonia,' " remarked 
Chia Cheng. "The popular explanation for the name is that this variety 

130 



comes from a distant country of amazons. But that is only a wild 
legend." 

"This explanation does not seem to us so completely without founda- 
tion," said the seniors. "The blossoms are indeed quite extraordinary. 
It may well he true that the plant comes from a country of amazons." 

"Very pr6bably the legend originated in the fertile brain of some 
poet or travelling minstrel," remarked Pao Yu. "The rose tint, the 
maidenly delicacy and fragility of the blooms may have inspired him 
with it. And then, in the course of time, his fantastic explanation came 
to be regarded as truth, because it is such a lovely and plausible ex- 
planation." 

"Splendid! Well said!" applauded the seniors. 

They sat down for a brief rest on the seats in the pleasure corridor 
and agreed upon the title "Towering Radiance and Shimmering 
Beauty." Pao Yu too found the title good though not quite adequate, 
since it only referred to the begonia and left the banana plants uncon- 
sidered. The combination of the red of the begonias and the green 
of the bananas was a deliberate one and therefore required to be ex- 
pressed in the title. Hence he suggested "Fragrant Red and Nephrite 
Green." 

"Bad," growled Chia Cheng, shaking his head and standing up to go 
on. 

On crossing the courtyard the party came to a circular hall. Its walls 
were covered from top to bottom with intricately carved, perforated 
woodwork. This showed the most varied assortment of patterns and 
pictures driving clouds, fluttering bats, trees and shrubs, flowers and 
birds, landscape pictures and scenes from human life, interlaced every- 
where with the ever-recurrent lucky signs fit and shou, signifying 
"Happiness" and "Long Life." All these things, carved by an artist's 
hand, veneered with gold leaf and five colors besides, and encrusted 
with brilliant stones, gave a deceptively lifelike impression. From this 
artistic background there projected fanlike wall partitions on which 
there were arranged book-rests, flower vases, pewter dishes, and similar 
objects. These wall partitions were most varied in form. Some were 
angular, some were round, some had the shape of banana leaves, others 
that of sunflower leaves, and yet others took the form of intersected 
half-circles; and they all fitted into their graceful frames like samplers 
of tapestry. Then, there were here and there niches in the walls, 
screened with silk curtains, which gave the impression of being secret, 
hidden doors; and inside these were precious antiques and works of 
art such as bronze swords, lutes, porcelain vases, and the like. 

The astonishment and admiration of the company knew no bounds 
and, carried away by their delight in the sights, they had already em- 

131 



barked upon a second round, when Chia Cheng announced that it was 
time to leave. But he could no longer find the exit. The circular hall 
contained a number of mirror doors, all similar, and several windows, 
lil vise similar, and the pattern on the wall was so confusingly con- 
tinu ? that it was quite impossible to see where it began and where 
it ended. But Prince Chen, who knew the place thoroughly, smilingly 
led the party out of this mazelike hall through the correct mirrored 
door. Threading their way between flower beds and rose trellises, they 
passed for a time along a clear watercourse and around the foot of a 
hill before reaching level ground once more. 

"A truly enchanting parjk, a peak achievement of brilliant inven- 
tion!" Such was the verdict of the highly gratified company. Pao Yu 
was glad that the time had come to leave. He was yearning for the 
company of girls, which he had had to do without for so long. But he 
had to wait on, for his father had not yet dismissed him. 

The word of release came at last. "What are you doing still hang- 
ing about here? Have you not had enough? Be off! Your grandmother 
will be asking for you," said Chia Cheng, suddenly turning to him. He 
made off in a trice. 

The party was hardly out of sight when several of his father's serv- 
ants came rushing along behind him, and surrounded him, chatter- 
ing and laughing excitedly. 

"Rejoice, young Master! The old master is in a good humor," they in- 
formed him with solemn faces. "Your grandmother sent for you sev- 
eral times, but the old master sent her word that he was pleased with 
you and wished to keep you for a little time longer in his company. 
Everyone is full of praise of your talent, and they are all saying that 
your mottoes were much more beautiful than the others. And now you 
must give us something to celebrate the day." 

"Very well, each of you shall have a string of coppers," said Pao Yu, 
laughing. 

"No, coppers are no use to us. We want a proper souvenir," they 
protested vigorously, and without waiting for his consent they took hold 
of him and in no time had pulled off the purse, the fan-shaped case, and 
all the other little things which he carried on his belt. 

"Now, that's settled," they declared, "we will be your guard of honor 
and take you to the old Tai tai." And they escorted him in triumph into 
the presence of the Princess' Ancestress. "Oh, they've plundered you 
shamelessly!" remarked the maid Pearl with a smile, as she poured him 
tea in the green pavilion. 

Black Jade, who had overheard this remark from the next room, came 
and looked at him attentively. 

"You have given them the embroidered lotus-leaf purse that I 

132 



gave you! That's nice! You may be certain that I will never give you 
a present again!" she said petulantly, turning her back on him. On re- 
turning to her room she took her scissors and began angrily cutting 
to pieces the still unfinished perfume bag which he had asked her to 
make for him a short time before. Pao Yu, who came running in after 
her, looked on regretfully at the work of destruction. 

"What a pity to destroy the lovely bag!" he said. "But look! What's 
this I've got here?" Saying this, -he turned back the facing of his coat 
and, pulling out a lotus-leaf purse, held it towards her, smiling. She 
looked up. It was the one she had given him. She immediately re- 
pented her hastiness and hung her head, silent and ashamed. He must 
really treasure her gift, she thought, to keep it so safely hidden under 
his clothing. But to punish her he now began to play the offended party. 

"You need not have been so quick with your scissors. But if you 
think me unworthy of your gift, please take back your purse!" he said 
coolly, aiming the purse so truly at her that it slid straight down her 
bosom. Whereupon he left the room. Black Jade burst out crying, took 
the purse from inside her dress, and was just beginning to cut it up 
with the scissors. But suddenly there was Pao Yu standing before her 
again. With a rapid movement he snatched from her this second victim 
of her ill-temper. 

"Spare it, dear little sister!" he begged her, smiling. She let the 
scissors fall to the ground and, dabbing her tear-filled eyes with her 
handkerchief, said in a voice choked with sobs: "It is horrible of you 
to toy with me as you do. Nice one time and nasty the next ... I 
can't bear it. . . ." 

She jumped up and threw herself on her bed, the better to go on 
drying her eyes with her face turned to the wall. Pao Yu could not 
refrain from jumping up after her and assuring her, with many tender 
words, how sorry he was to have offended her, and that he recognized 
his guilt and would be better in the future. 

Meanwhile the Princess Ancestress had been inquiring where her 
grandson was. He was in Miss Ling's room, she was told. 

"That's all the better," said the grandmother. "His father has been 
tormenting and persecuting him half the day. Why begrudge him a 
little time enjoying himself with his cousin, out of harm's way? Do not 
call him, but only see that they do not quarrel!" 

Black Jade, who found Pao Yu's endearments too overwhelming 
for her liking, had got up from the bed again. 

"You tormenter! You do not leave me a moment in peace! I am 
going to leave you," she said, going towards the door. 

"Then I shall go with you," he declared, beginning to fasten the 

133 



lotus-leaf purse back on his belt. But suddenly she snatched it from 

him. 

"I think you do not like it. You are a plague and a nuisance! 

"Dear Mei met, give it back to me!" 

"First say 'please' nicely!" 

"Please, please! And you will give me the perfume bag ypu promised 
me too, won't you?" 

"That will depend entirely on my mood." 



CHAPTER 15 

On the day of the Lantern Festival the Imperial consort pays her 

family a visit. 

THE FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR THE RECEPTION OF THE MISTRESS OF 

the Phoenix Palace had now been completed. Chia Chiang had brought 
back with him from Suchow a troupe of twelve picked dancing and 
singing girls, who were to prepare a repertoire of twenty dance-plays 
under the direction of a competent ballet mistress. The troupe was 
housed in the Pear Garden, in the premises hitherto inhabited by 
Aunt Hsueh and her family, the latter being temporarily quartered in 
a quiet and secluded spot at the northeastern extremity of the Ningkuo 
palace. For attendance on the young artists a few elderly women 
who in their youth had also been versed in singing and dancing but 
were now settled, gray-haired matrons, were picked out from among 
the domestic staff. Chia Chiang was entrusted with the task of seeing 
to the maintenance 6f the troupe and rendering an account of the cost 
of what they consumed. 

At the last great session of the festival committee, which took place 
in the tenth month, the individual committee members had submitted 
a detailed account of their various departments, and it had been estab- 
lished that there was absolutely nothing lacking. From the brightly 
colored singing bird and the Manchurian spirit crane, the stag and the 
hare in the game preserve, the geese and fowls in the farmyards, down 
to the last bronze bowl and the smallest ornament, everything was in 
its place. The troupe of dancing girls had completely mastered their 
repertoire of twenty numbers, and the choirs of twelve Buddhist and 
twelve Taoist nuns were able to reel off their liturgies at their fingers' 
end. Yet another general inspection of the festival gardens was made, 
this time by the Princess Ancestress and her ladies-in-waiting. Now 
Chia Cheng's great moment had come at last: he composed his petition 
to the Throne, officially begging the Imperial consent to his eldest 

134 



daughter's visiting her family. The same day on which he handed in 
his petition a gracious rescript, consenting to the visit requested, and 
fixing the date for the fifteenth of the first month, the day of the first 
full moon in the New Year, namely, the Lantern Festival, was received. 

A week before this date the Chief Eunuch Hsia, superintendent of 
the six Imperial harems, arrived. He examined with the utmost detail 
the preparations which had been made and inspected the whole of the 
festival gardens even to the most secluded nooks in which the august 
visitor was to make herself comfortable and "change her attire." He 
brought with him a great crowd of other eunuchs who had been 
specially selected for guard and sentry duties and were now posted 
at various points. Moreover, the inmates of the two palaces received 
detailed instructions as to where each person, down to the kitchen 
staff, was to be for the duration of the august visit, as well as the 
exact ceremonial which was to be observed at the reception. Further- 
more, servants of the Ministry of Public Works from the capital were 
detailed to clean the streets leading from the Imperial Palace to the 
princely palace, and posses of special police were sent to keep them 
clear of traffic and pedestrians. 

During the night of the fourteenth to the fifteenth no one closed an 
eye, and from break of dawn everyone, from the Princess Ancestress 
down, was ready and waiting ceremonially attired in his or her place 
for the visitor. In the Park of Delightful Vision the hangings became 
inflated and welled out like dragons and snakes, the brightly em- 
broidered curtains fluttered like phoenixes, the gold and silver glis- 
tened, the pearls and precious stones shimmered, clouds of aromatic 
fumes ascended from tripod burners and from incense vessels, the 
fragrant green of young foliage shone from pots and vases. A solemn 
silence reigned everywhere. Not a hem nor a cough was audible. 

The male members of the family had taken their stand outside in 
the middle of the closed-off street, in front of the western gate, while 
the ladies, sheltered from the vulgar gaze by high cloth screens, waited 
close by the gate. 

The exhaustion caused by the hours of waiting was already becoming 
noticeable when a solitary eunuch on horseback came galloping along. 
Chia Cheng stopped him and asked when the Imperial spouse would 
arrive. 

"Not for a long time yet/' was the answer. "At one o'clock she in- 
tends to dine, at two she will pray to Buddha in the Hall of Precious 
Strength from God, at five she will attend the banquet in the Palace of 
Great Clarity, and after that she will go to see the lantern display in 
the Imperial Gardens. She can hardly be here before seven this eve- 
ning." 

135 



\t the suggestion of Phoenix, who had heard the whole conversa- 
ti i through the partition, the older ladies retired indoors for a time 

rest. In the late afternoon the loud trot of horses was heard once 
more. This time ten eunuchs came riding along. They were out of 
breath and as they dismounted they clapped their hands excitedly. This 
was the prearranged signal to the many eunuchs who ha.d been dis- 
tributed over the parklands for several days before, that the august 
visitor was approaching, and they all rushed to their posts. 

A little more time passed in silent expectation, then two outriders 
appeared riding at an easy trot. They leaped from their horses and, with 
their faces turned towards the west, took up their position beside the 
ladies' screen. After a time another pair of outriders came along and 
joined the first. Then ten more pairs of outriders arrived and, with 
the first two pairs, formed a double row. From a distance came the 
sound of music. And now, two by two, the long procession approached: 
dragon banners, great fans of 'phoenix and pheasant feathers, cere- 
monial palace umbrellas swayed to and fro. Next came bearers carry- 
ing lighted censers of gold; then, stretched over an arched framework, 
an immense canopy of yellow silk on which were embroidered seven 
phoenixes; a crown, robes, girdle, and shoes were borne on cushions; 
then came more eunuchs carrying basins of warm perfumed water, 
embroidered hand towels, perfumed handkerchiefs, dusters and simi- 
lar objects, which they held ready. And finally, borne by eight men, 
came the great yellow-gold silken State sedan chair, embroidered with 
phoenixes, with a golden knob at the back and little bells which tinkled 
sweetly at each side. At its approach the entire crowd which was waiting 
went down on its knees. Eunuchs came rushing along to help the 
Princess Ancestress and the other great ladies to their feet again. Then 
they all surrounded the sedan chair and followed it on foot in orderly 
procesrion into the palace precincts. In front of the entrance to a some- 
what secluded courtyard situated at the eastern extremity of the Yung- 
kuo palace the litter was set down. A eunuch hastened up to the door, 
knelt down, and invited the Imperial spouse to dismount and "changt 
clothes." The eunuch then withdrew to make way for the Imperial 
ladies-in-waiting, who helped the distinguished inmate out of the sedan 
chair and escorted her to the apartment in question. 

After Beginning of Spring had "changed clothes" she got into the 
chair again and had herself carried to the Park of Delightful Vision. 
The park glittered with the multicolored shimmer of innumerable 
brightly colored lamps and lanterns, the air was heavy with the aromatic 
perfumes which rose on all sides in spirals of smoke from censers and 
tripods, and filled with the sweet strains of an invisible orchestra which 
made itself heard from time to time. 

136 



"Much too luxurious, much too costly!" murmured 'Beginning of 
Spring, shaking her head, when she saw from inside her sedan chair 
all the unheard-of magnificence around her. 

A eunuch approached the chair, knelt down, and invited Her High- 
ness to enter a boat. Beginning of Spring left the chair and entered 
the gorgeous State boat, which then glided gently along the glittering 
watercourse that wound between high slopes. To right and left the cliffs 
and stone balustrades glittered with the colored lights of innumerable 
little crystal and glass lamps. The trees and shrubs along the banks, 
which were still bare of leaves, had been given a springlike appearance 
by artificial leaves and flowers made of gaily colored fabric and tissue, 
and everywhere among the branches and leaves bright little lamps and 
lanterns were glowing. Down below on the water, too, lights rocked 
and swayed, for everywhere, among the reeds and the lotus leaves and 
water lilies, glowed little lamps made in the shape of oysters and shells, 
while others, fastened to the pinions of herons, swans, and ducks, drew 
fantastic circles of light over the surface of the water. One could im- 
agine oneself transported into a fairy realm of crystal, a sparkling 
wonderland of pearls and precious stones. The boat itself was likewise 
a blaze of multicolored lights, and these, playing upon the sumptuous 
pearl-studded curtains and embroidered damask portieres, and on the 
wet oars carved of precious wood, made a brilliant galaxy of reflections. 
The journey ended at a marble landing place which bore the title 
"Pepper Plant Quay," after which the journey was continued by litter 
under the stone arches of honor with their dragons in relief, up to the 
main hall. 

On the way Beginning of Spring expressed various wishes regarding 
mottoes and inscriptions which she desired changed. For instance, she 
wished the exuberant title on the arch of honor, "Entrance to the Do- 
main of the Blessed Spirits," to be changed to the simple inscription, 
"Entrance to the Country House of the Filial Visit." Each of these 
wishes was immediately conveyed by eunuchs to Chia Cheng, who had 
the required alterations carried out there and then; for all the existing 
mottoes and inscriptions had only been put up provisionally. They were 
almost all based upon Pao Yu's suggestions. 

It must be remarked here that Beginning of Spring had a particularly 
tender affection for her young brother. While she was still living at 
home and Pao Yu was hardly four years old, she used to take an almost 
motherly interest in the development of his mind, and industriously 
instructed him in the first foundations of a classical education, and 
taught him several thousand ideographs. Even after she had been taken 
into the service of the Imperial Palace, she had never ceased to inquire, 
in her letters to her father and mother, how he was getting on and what 

137 



progress he was making in his studies. In making use everywhere of the 
products of Pao Yu's brain in texts for mottoes, Chia Cheng's idea was 
to give his sister pleasure. She was to perceive from these that the 
trouble she had taken with him in her childhood days had not been 
wasted and had brought forth good fruit. For even if Pao Yu's inspira- 
tions did not exactly show genius, at least they betrayed considerable 
talent and a certain originality. 

The main hall shone festively in the resplendent glow of immense 
candelabra. Everywhere smoldering tripods and incense pots stood 
about on the grounds, filling the air with aromatic perfumes from the 
musk glands of the civet and musk ox. It would be impossible to de- 
scribe adequately the sumptuousness of the interior decorations to 
depict and recount in detail all the splendors of the carpets and hang- 
ings, the walls and the windows, the staircases and the banisters. It was 
a real fairy castle, a genuine "cinnamon hall," a "palace of orchids," 
worthy to be the dwelling place of the Imperial spouse. 

Beginning of Spring remarked that there was no inscription over the 
front of the building. A eunuch explained to her that this was the main 
hall, and that no one had dared to anticipate her own choice at this, the 
most important point in the whole of the festive gardens. A head 
eunuch, who was acting as master of ceremonies, now invited her to as- 
cend the throne and receive the homage of the members of the family. 
At each side of the steps leading to the throne music began to play. 
Meantime Prince Shieh and the other seniors had grouped themselves, 
under the guidance of two eunuchs, on the Terrace of the Moon in front 
of the entrance to the hall, and stood awaiting a sign to appear before 
the face of Her Imperial Highness and perform their kowtow of homage 
in the manner prescribed by Court ceremonial. But Her Imperial High- 
ness released them, and also the ladies, from the performance of this 
kowtow, and contented herself with a simple levee. In the course of 
these proceedings tea was handed to Her Highness three times. She 
then stood up and descended from the throne. As she did so the music 
ceased. And with this the official part of the reception came to an end. 

The Imperial wife now entered a side chamber and changed her at- 
tire. She then left the park in a carriage belonging to the house and 
went, now a simple daughter of the family once more, to visit her par- 
ents and her grandmother. This second, private reception took place in 
the home of the Princess Ancestress. Strictly speaking, Beginning of 
Spring should now, as daughter and granddaughter, have had to throw 
herself upon her knees before the old Tai tai and her mother. But the 
old Tai tai and the other female relatives approached her with a curtsy 
and forbade her to conform with the ceremony prescribed by Court 
etiquette. 

138 



After the formalities had been sufficiently complied with the human 
emotions which the reunion awoke were given full vent. All the as- 
sembled female relations welcomed Beginning of Spring in their turn, 
and as she stood there holding her grandmother's left hand and her 
mother's right, tears rolled ceaselessly down her cheeks. The relatives 
were likewise overcome with emotion. All had so much in their hearts 
which they would have dearly loved to express, but for a long while 
nothing could be heard but wordless sobbing. Princess Shieh and Phoe- 
nix and the three cousins, Greeting of Spring, Grief of Spring, and 
Taste of Spring, who were modestly standing somewhat in the back- 
ground, were all seized with the prevalent emotion too, and continu- 
ously wiped their eyes. 

At last Beginning of Spring mastered her emotions, and forced her 
voice to a gay and jocular tone as, turning to her grandmother and 
mother, she said: "Since I was taken away to that place which is closed 
to you, I have today been permitted to see you again for the first time 
after a long separation and many difficulties. And now instead of chat- 
ting and laughing merrily together, we are all weeping and wailing at 
one another. We should be enjoying the present moment instead of 
doing this. Soon I shall have to leave you, and who knows when we 
shall meet again . . .!" 

She could say no more and began sobbing anew. They all pressed 
around to console and comfort her. She was now brought to an arm- 
chair on which she sat receiving the homage of the entire female staff 
of both palaces, who passed in order of precedence before the doorway 
and performed their kowtow. 

"Our family is so big, it is sad that there is not time to greet every- 
one," sighed Beginning of Spring. 

Her mother asked her whether she wished to receive Aunt Hsueh and 
her daughter and cousin Black Jade. They were waiting outside but 
were not venturing to appear unless called, as they considered them- 
selves without rank or dignity. Beginning of Spring had them called in 
and had a few friendly words for each of them. Meanwhile her attend- 
ants were being refreshed in various quarters; only four young eunuchs 
had remained behind in her vicinity. This absence of guards and ret- 
inue allowed the family more unrestricted conversation. Beginning of 
Spring also exchanged a few words with her father, Chia Cheng, though 
only through the folding screen, of course, because according to Court 
etiquette no strange man, not even her own father, was permitted to 
look with his profane eyes upon a wife of the Emperor. 

"The poor peasants who live on salted cabbage and dress in shoddy 
cotton are better off than we are," lamented Beginning of Spring 
through the screen. "They can foster and satisfy their natural desire for 

139 



family life to their hearts' content. But we, on the contrary, though we 
are made of the same flesh and blood as they, have to endure sorrowful 
separation. What good to us are all of our splendors and riches?" 

Her father too was on the verge of tears, but he spoke words of com- 
fort to her and exhorted her not to quarrel with fate, which had treated 
her so well, but to acknowledge with gratitude the favor granted to her 
by the Son of Heaven and to repay it with redoubled dutifulness. 

"Who would ever have dreamed that it would be granted to a simple, 
obscure subject such as I to rear a precious phoenix in his poor, cold 
household among ordinary birds of the hen and goose species? Next to 
the favor of the Emperor and the inscrutable designs of nature, such 
great good fortune is doubtless also to be ascribed to the blessed and 
benign influence of our ancestors. Therefore, we must show ourselves 
worthy of our ancestors by redoubled self-sacrifice and devotion to the 
Throne, the more so now that the Throne has granted us this hitherto 
unknown favor of a visit to the family. Even if we were 1 to dash our 
brains out against the ground in doing homage, we should still not have 
paid the ten-thousandth part of our debt of gratitude to the Son of 
Heaven may he see a thousand harvests! Let the Imperial spouse 
and this is my most earnest prayer not think so much of the years she 
has wasted in the society of her parents, but rather let her dedicate all 
her mind and all her strength to the service of His Imperial Majesty!" 

Chia Cheng then went on to speak of Pao Yu, remarking that most of 
the inscriptions and mottoes in the park had been planned by him. If 
she would deign to take notice of one or other of these inscriptions and 
help to improve upon them, she would certainly make Pao Yu very 
happy. 

"Oh, what splendid progress he has made!" cried Beginning of 
Spring, joyfully. Then, when Chia Cheng had withdrawn, she asked 
those around her: "Why do I not see Pao Yu?" 

"As a male relative without office or title, he does not dare to appear 
without being called for," replied the Princess Ancestress. 

"Bring him here," the eunuchs were ordered. Soon afterwards Pao 
Yu appeared, and saluted his sister by falling on his knee and touching 
the ground with his forehead. But she took him quite unceremoniously 
by the hand and, clasping him to her breast, fondly stroked his head 
and neck. 

"How big you have grown!" she exclaimed, smiling, but immediately 
overcome by her childhood memories, she broke down in tears once 
more. 

"The banquet is ready. We beg the Imperial spouse to grant us the 
happiness of sharing it." With these words they sought to distract her 
from her grief. Beginning of Spring stood up, ordered Pao Yu to lead 

140 



the way, and set out on foot through the new park, together with the 
entire company, for the main hall, where the banquet was to take place. 
On the way the most important parts of the park, which was illuminated 
with innumerable bright lanterns, were inspected thoroughly. Beginning 
of Spring was lavish with her praise and approval, but she begged her 
family very earnestly not to indulge in such excessive expenditure when 
she should visit them again. At the banquet Princess Chen and Phoenix 
shared the office of handing her food and filling her glass. 

After the meal Beginning of Spring asked for writing brush and ink 
and wrote with her own hand on strips of flowered silk the names and 
inscriptions which she gave to the most important places in the new 
park. The grounds as a whole were to receive the name of "Park of 
Delightful Vision" and the facade of the main hall the inscription "Re- 
membering the Imperial Favor, intent upon Faithful Fulfillment of 
Duty," and so name after name, motto after motto, text after text came 
under review. After this, a competition in poetical composition began 
between the sisters and cousins and Pao Yu. Greeting of Spring, Grief 
of Spring, Taste of Spring, Precious Clasp, Black Jade, and Li Wan, 
the young widow of the deceased brother Chia Chu, each received a 
motto as theme and had to compose a stanza on it. Actually, Pao Yu 
was given four themes. He was required to extol in stanzas 6f particu- 
larly choice language the four places in the park which pleased him the 
most. And so the improvising and versifying went on until far into the 
night. Of the six samples of feminine literary talent, Beginning of 
Spring declared the efforts submitted by Black Jade and Precious Clasp 
to be the best; so excellent indeed, she added modestly, that she herself 
could not compete with them. 

Pao Yu too had finished his task with real effort and with the secret 
friendly help of his two gifted cousins, Precious Clasp and Black Jade. 
Precious Clasp had helped hint with the third stanza by reciting a 
missing line which he could not remember from a poem of the cele- 
brated T'ang poet, Han Yu; and Black Jade had actually written the 
whole fourth stanza for him and passed it to him secretly scribbled on a 
crumpled piece of paper. Beginning of Spring promptly declared this 
fourth stanza to be by far the best of his efforts. Taste of Spring, who 
wrote a beautiful hand, now had to copy all the ten stanzas out afresh 
on paper, after which they were taken by a eunuch to Chia Cheng, so 
that he might rejoice at these specimens of the literary talent of the 
younger members of the family. 

Cousin Chia Chiang, who was burning with desire to shine with his 
troupe of dancing girls, was almost beside himself with impatience 
when at last a eunuch came rushing in behind the dancing stage. 

142 



"The literary competition is finished," he announced. "The dance 
program can begin now. Give me a program quickly." 

Chia Chiang handed him a program and a list of the names of the 
twelve dancers. Beginning of Spring chose four out of the twenty num- 
bers: "The Glorious Banquet," "The Strange Beggar," "Meeting of 
Phantoms," and "Separated Souls." The audience took their places in 
front of the stage, Chia Chiang gave the command to raise the curtain, 
and the twelve girls began to display their carefully rehearsed art. They 
danced so enchantingly that the audience could only stare as if be- 
witched; their singing melted all hearts; and in their acting they ex- 
pressed joy and grief to such perfection that the onlookers, quite car- 
ried away, almost took their playing for reality. 

After the performance a eunuch appeared behind the stage with a 
golden plate full of cakes 

Chia Chiang made the dancer, Ling Kuan, step in front of the cur- 
tain to perform a kowtow of thanks before the august donor. 

"The Imperial wife has declared that Ling Kuan is the best of the 
troupe," continued the eunuch, "and she desires her to give two or more 
solo pieces." 

Chia Chiang accordingly sent Ling Kuan onto the stage once more 
and ordered her to give as encores the two numbers "A Walk through 
the Garden" and "Terrible Awakening from a Dream." As these two 
numbers did not form part of her special repertoire, the rather inde- 
pendent Ling Kuan performed instead two dance scenes, "Rendezvous" 
and "Quarrel." Beginning of Spring was again delighted with the girl's 
ability and rewarded her with an extra fee in the form of two bales of 
silk from the palace and two purses filled with pieces of gold and silver. 

With this the banquet ended. Beginning of Spring stood up to visit 
some other parts of the park which she had not yet seen, among them a 
Buddhist temple set on a hill, where she burned incense and prayed to 
Buddha. She chose as inscription for this temple the words: "On the 
Boat of Mercy through the Sea of Bitterness." 

After this there was a great distribution of gifts in the main hall. Be- 
ginning of Spring, seated on a dais, held a comprehensive gift list in 
her hand and inspected every single present as the eunuchs laid it at her 
feet. No one in the two palaces, from the Princess Ancestress down to 
the coolie who collected the garbage and the ypungest kitchen maid, 
went empty-handed. The Princess Ancestress received two house scep- 
ters, one of gold, the other of jade, inscribed "May your Wishes come 
True," an aloe rod, a prayer chaplet of sandalwood beads, four pairs of 
satin sheets from the Imperial Palace stores with the words "Long 
Spring," "Riches and Nobility," "Good Fortune," and "Long Life" 
embroidered on them; also a gold writing-brush case, ten gold bars 

143 



wrought in the form of the ideographs representing "May your Wishes 
come True," and ten silver bars in the form of the ideograph represent- 
ing "Happiness and Blessings." To enumerate all the other gifts would 
be too lengthy a task. Suffice it to say that the combined household 
staffs of the east and west palaces received gifts comprising a hundred 
bales of silk, a thousand ounces of silver, and many bottles of Imperial 
wine. 

It was already approaching three in the morning when the Chief 
Eunuch, who was in charge, announced that it was time to leave. Once 
more the eyes of the Imperial wife filled with tears, but she bravely 
forced herself to smile cheerfully, pressed the hands of her mother and 
grandmother once more, and begged them not to let the parting grieve 
them too greatly. The Son of Heaven, in his immense generosity, would 
surely permit them to see each other again one day, but on the occasion 
of her next visit they should refrain from such excessive expenditure in 
her honor. And finally they parted with heartbreaking tears and lamen- 
tations. As the Imperial litter disappeared out of sight with Beginning 
of Spring, her mother and grandmother had to be supported on each 
side, Jest they should sink to the ground with the weight of their grief. 



CHAPTER 16 

One night the maid Pearl tests Poo Yu's feelings and stipulates her 
conditions. Black Jade makes fun of Cousin Little Cloud. 

ON RETURNING TO THE IMPERIAL PALACE, BEGINNING OF SPRING GAVE 

her Imperial husband a report of her harmonious and pleasant visit to 
her home. The dragon countenance of the Son of Heaven grew bright 
with joy and in token of his favor and recognition he sent rich gifts 
of silk, gold, and silver to his father-in-law Chia Cheng, for himself and 
his family and also for distribution among the personal attendants of 
the Imperial spouse. 

After all the trouble and exertion which the illustrious visit had 
.caused, the inmates of the east and west palaces permitted themselves 
a few days of well-earned rest and recreation. The New Year celebra- 
tions continued, it is true, but they were less formal than usual. Apart 
from Phoenix, who continued to carry out her household duties with 
her wonted energy, everyone sought his or her own comfort and 
bothered as little as possible about others. Thus it happened that Pao 
Yu was left to his own devices more than usual, and as the family school 
was closed for the New Year holidays, he hardly knew what to do with 
all his free time. He got bored by the monotony of the days, and lack of 
supervision whetted his desire for freedom. 

144 



One afternoon he slipped away from the theatrical performance in 
the Ningkuo palace. The demon dances on the stage, with their accom- 
paniment of wild cries and the intoxicating music of gongs and drums 
which could be heard right out on the street, where they held a crowd 
of loiterers spellbound with admiration, were not at all to his taste. He 
found this kind of art too rough and ready. 

After a hurried, passing glance into the inner rooms, where he said 
good-by to Princess Chen and various secondary wives, he stole into a 
somewhat secluded part of the building, a little reading pavilion. In this 
pavilion hung the picture of a marvelously beautiful woman which was 
painted in a manner so true to nature that it almost seemed to breathe. 
I will keep this beautiful lady company so that she will not feel so for- 
saken on this merry holiday, he thought to himself. 

He was all alone, for the servants too had a great deal of freedom that 
day. The older ones were free to indulge in their beloved card games or 
spend the day with their relatives in the town; the younger ones were 
allowed to attend the theatrical performances and fireworks. Today 
none of them was required to bother much about the little master. 

As Pao Yu passed under the window of the pavilion he heard a sound 
of sighing and groaning from inside. What's this? Can the picture have 
come to life? he thought in alarm, poking a hole in the window parch- 
ment to look in. No, the picture had not come to life; the noise came 
instead from two real mortals who were absorbed in that pleasurable 
game which the Fairy of Fearful Awakening had once taught him. In 
the male half of the couple he recognized his valet, Ming Yen. 

"Stop that!" he shouted, pushing the door open with his foot. The 
lovers separated in haste, hurriedly fastening their clothing. Ming Yen 
fell on his knees before his master and begged for mercy. 

"This is a nice way to behave in clear daylight; if the master of the 
house hears of it, it will go ill with you," scolded Pao Yu, at the same 
time taking a good look at Ming Yen's partner. She was not exactly a 
beauty, this little kitchen maid, but she was charming and pretty 
enough not to leave a male heart unmoved. She had become red to the 
ears, and was standing with downcast eyes, silent and embarrassed. 

"Why don't you clear out?" asked Pao Yu angrily, stamping his foot. 
The little creature slipped out like the wind. Pao Yu followed her. 

"Don't be afraid; I am not a telltale !" he called after her. 

"Not so loud, little ancestor. Your shouting will certainly betray us!" 
cried Ming Yen, following him, in his turn. Pao Yu stopped and let the 
young girl slip off. After he had questioned Ming Yen about her age 
and parentage, he said that he would like to take some kind of expedi- 
tion. Ming Yen suggested a good long walk outside the city walls, but 
his master thought that too daring. He finally decided on a visit to the 

145 



home of Pearl, who had got leave to spend the day with her mother. 
The hou^e was only a bare mile away. 

Pearl, who was just taking tea and cake with her mother and brother 
and half a dozen female cousins, felt not a little surprised and honored 
by the unexpected visit of her young master. He must surely be very 
fond of her indeed if he could not do without her for a few hours. 

She had wondered what urgent matter had brought him here, but he 
said he was merely bored and wanted her company. Yet she had to 
scold him for his folly in daring to leave the house all on his own and 
she wanted to send him straight back. What if they missed him? Or if 
he met his stern old father on the way? Or if his horse took fright in 
the crowded streets and threw him? she asked anxiously. Her brother, 
who was older than she, calmed her, saying that since the young gentle- 
man was here they were bound in decency to entertain him for a while. 
So they took him into the living room, made him sit down on the 
heated kang, and set before him all kinds of modest titbits which he did 
not touch. Little comfort though Pearl's simple home could offer him, 
nevertheless the change pleased him. The easygoing atmosphere of 
humble folk which this living room breathed was something quite new 
to the spoiled young aristocrat from a great house, and several of the 
simple young things who sat with downcast eyes and flushed cheeks 
around the family board seemed to him quite charming. Pearl herself 
was touching in her attentions to him. She pushed her own cushion be- 
hind his back, put her own foot-warmer to his feet, and set alight in his 
honor two sweet-smelling offerings of pressed plum blossoms. He no- 
ticed that there were red circles round her eyes and signs of tears on her 
powdered cheeks. 

"Have you been crying?" he asked gently. 

"No, no ! A speck of dust got in my eye, and the lid has got red from 
rubbing it," she answered brightly. "But you are very smartly dressed ! 
It was not for us, was it?" she asked, changing the subject hurriedly. 

"No, it was for that awful theatrical show at Prince Chen's. I have 
just come from it." 

"And you must go back to it as quickly as you can. Our poor hut is 
no place for you to be." 

"I am going, but you must come back soon." She gave him a know- 
ing smile. Then she took the five-colored cord with the stone amulet 
from his neck and handed it round the family circle. 

"Look, this is the wonderful thing I have often told you about. 
Now you can look at it and wonder at it with your own eyes. Have a 
really good look at it; you don't have the chance to see such a strange 
thing as that every day," she declared proudly, fastening the cord 
round his neck again. After this Pao Yu cut short his brief visit. On 

146 



Pearl's advice he hired a small covered sedan chair, which brought him 
up near the side gate of the Ningkuo palace, so that he might avoid 
being recognized on the way. Only there did he mount his horse again; 
and in this way he got in unobserved. Thus his little flight into freedom 
passed without repercussions, and it would have been scarcely worth 
mentioning here were it not for the fact that it contributed to strengthen- 
ing Pearl's self-assurance to a very great extent, as was soon apparent. 

In his absence his former nurse, Mother Li, had come hobbling along 
on her stick to pay him a New Year visit. Although she had long since 
retired from service because of her age, nevertheless she felt that she 
was still as important and indispensable as ever. She had scolded the 
waiting maids and housemaids as usual and held forth loudly about the 
loose ways that had crept into the household since she had left it; and 
had gone away at last, still chiding and scolding^ having eaten up the 
delicious mousse which had been sent specially that morning from the 
Imperial kitchens for Pao Yu, and which Pao Yu had set aside for the 
maid Pearl. 

When Pearl came home in the evening he apologized to her because 
the greedy old woman had once more snapped up her titbit out of envy. 
Pearl, in her nice considerate way, had laughed it off, saying: "Thank 
you for the good intention, but the last time I took that mousse it did not 
agree with nie at all, tasty though it is. So I'm not a bit sorry for it. I 
should much prefer a few nice roast chestnuts before going to bed. Per- 
haps you would peel some for me?" 

Pao Yu obediently ordered a plate of roast chestnuts, picked out the 
best, and peeled them for her with his own hands. 

"Who was that girl in red, this afternoon?" he inquired casually, 
absorbed in his occupation. 

"She was a cousin of mine. But what are you sighing for? No doubt 
you are thinking she is not grand enough to dress so strikingly?" 

"Quite the contrary. Who has a better right than she to dress in red? 
Could she not be taken on here?" 

"Certainly not. My people find it quite enough to have one slave in 
the family. You shall have to look around for someone else," retorted 
Pearl, insolently. 

"Do not be so touchy. I did not mean that she should come as a 
slave, but only to visit, as your relative." 

"She is not suitable company for you." 

Pao Yu fell silent and went on peeling the chestnuts. 

''Why don't you speak?" she went on after a fairly long pause. '"I 
suppose I've offended yot 1 ? Very well, for all I care, if you're so struck 
with her, it need only cost you a few ounces of silver and she's yours." 

"You misunderstand me. I only meant to say that she deserves far 

147 



better than an inferior creature like me to pass her life in these spacious 
halls and extensive gardens." 

"That good fortune has certainly been denied her, but she has never 
had to suffer want and her parents have spoiled her in every way. She 
is seventeen now and she has already got her full bridal equipment 
ready in her trunks and cases. For she's getting married this year." 

A regretful "Ah!" escaped from Pao Yu. 

"Yes, indeed, it's a pity," continued Pearl with a sigh. "We cousins 
have seen so little of each other all these years that I've been here. And 
now, just when I am about to return home, she is leaving us." 

Pao Yu was so startled that he let the chestnuts roll onto the ground. 
"What? You want to return home?" he asked, dumfounded. 

"Yes. Just when you came this afternoon we were having a family 
council over it. My mother and my brother were urging me to remain 
just one more year in service; then they would have got together enough 
money to buy my freedom." 

"Why do they want to buy you free?" 

"What a funny question ! After all, I am not a daughter of the house. 
Do you think perhaps that I should end my days here?" 

"What if I do not let you go?" 

"Oho ! Even at the Imperial Court there is no such thing as perpetual 
servitude. The domestic staff is changed and added to every few years. 
There are special laws about these things. If even the Court must bow 
to those laws, then your house must assuredly do so." 

Pao Yu could not hide from himself the fact that she was right. 
Nevertheless he tried to put forward other objections. 

"You will find it difficult to get free without the permission of the 
old Tai tai," he remarked. 

"Why should she be against it? Am I perchance so special that she 
could not do without me? That she should perhaps consent to an addi- 
tion to my mother's allowance, in order to keep me? It seems to me, 
on the other hand, that I am no better than the average girl and can 
be easily replaced at any time. At any rate, I have been in'the service 
of your family long enough, first several years with Miss Little Cloud, 
the old Tai tai's granddaughter, and after that who knows how many 
years with you. It's really time for me to go. Your grandmother will be 
pleased, on the contrary, I do believe, when she is rid of me at last, and 
she won't demand a specially big ransom. The fact that I have served 
you well was only my duty. Others do their duty just as well or better." 

Pao Yu fidgeted uneasily on his seat. 

"But what if I greatly desire you to remain? Would your mother not 
desist from her intention if my grandmother asks her to, and offers her 
an increased allowance?" 

148 



"My mother would certainly not dare to resist if the old Tai tai in- 
sisted absolutely that I should remain, and in that case there would He 
no need of increasing the allowance by a single copper. But the question 
is, would the old Tai tai insist? As far as I know, it lias never been the 
custom of your family to misuse their power and influence in order to 
intimidate and coerce the weak. From what I know of the old Tai tai I 
doubt very much whether she would depart from this noble family tradi- 
tion in order to force my mother -and me to sometfiing which would be 
of no particular advantage to your family and a human hardship for 
mine." 

Pao Yu remained thoughtful for a few moments. 

"If I understand you aright, you are seriously resolved to leave?" 

"Yes." 

Ungrateful creature! he thought to himself, angrily. Then aloud, 
with a sigh: "If I had guessed that before I would never have taken you 
into my service. Now I shall remain behind alone here, a poor forsaken 
ghost." 

He slipped off sadly to his bed and lay down. He did not know that 
Pearl had only been play-acting a bit, in order to test his feelings for 
her. In reality, she had declared today at home, when her mother and 
brother had expressed the intention of buying her back, that she had no 
desire to be ransomed and would rather die than leave her service. At 
a time when there was not another grain of rice to eat at home, she her- 
self had decided to be sold into servitude to save her family from star- 
vation. She was lucky enough to have a position now where she lacked 
neither clothing nor good food, was treated almost like a daughter of 
the house, and was neither beaten by day nor misused by night; and was 
she to be so foolish as to give up this pleasant life now to return to the 
narrowness of her home? Certainly not. She did not wish to hear an- 
other word about being bought back, and meantime would prefer her 
family to regard her as being dead. 

An excited family discussion had followed, in the course of which 
some tears, of which Pao Yu had remarked the traces, had been shed. 
The result was that the mother and brother gave way and dropped their 
intention. Pao Yu's unexpected visit had shown them the warm relations 
existing between servant and master and left them completely con- 
vinced and reassured. In short, all that Pearl had just said about leaving 
and being ransomed was sheer fiction. 

Pao Yu had not been in bed for long when Pearl came to his bedside 
and gave him a cheerful shaking. She noticed tears on his cheeks. 

"What has wounded your heart?" she asked gently. "It all depends 
on whether you are really bent on keeping me. If you. are, I could per- 
haps stay," she added unexpectedly. 

149 



He jumped up. 

"Oh, is that so? And what can I do to keep you?" 

"You would have to promise me three things. If you can do that, I 
will believe in the sincerity of your wish, and then I will stay, even if 
they were to cut my throat here." 

"Name three, name a hundred conditions, dearest little sister! I 
will do everything you ask if you will only stay with me. Remain at 
least until I have turned into fleeting ashes no, not ashes, for ashes 
would still contain too big a remnant of my bodily being. Remain until 
1 have turned into a streak of smoke and been blown away by the wind 
without leaving a trace. Then I will need you no longer; then you may 
go wherever your fancy urges you. . . . !" 

As he spoke he became more and more vehement. She sealed his 
mouth with her hand and stopped him from speaking more. 

"Stop! You need not be so sentimental. You need only fulfill three 
small conditions." 

"And what would they be?" 

"Firstly, you must admit your faults when you are reproved." 

"I will. And you may wrench out my tongue if I ever talk nonsense 
again. Go p"'" 

"Secondly, whether you are really learned or only pretend to be, you 
must be more unassuming before people, and not mock and criticize so 
much, annoying your father as you do. In any case, he is not particu- 
larly impressed by your achievements and he takes it ill that you speak 
contemptuously behind his back of worthy older people who have 
achieved something by dint of ability and whom you like to call 'salaried 
blockheads.' So, not so overbearing, if you please!" 

"You are quite right. And I will never again repeat those silly 
things that I have said in the immaturity of my youth. Go on!" 

'Thirdly, you must have more respect for pious bonzes and holy 
Taoist priests, and -not make fun of them. Moreover, you must be less 
frivolous and irresponsible in your -behavior with young girls, and not 
run after all the girls you see with painted lips and in red dresses!" 

"All right. I will mend my ways. Anything else?" 

"No. It is enough for me if you fulfill these three conditions; if you 
do, not even a litter with eight bearers will entice me to leave the 
house." 

"Why not? Who knows, you may yet have a litter with eight bearers 
at your disposal, if you stay here long enough." 

"Oh, no. I am not so very eager for that." 

They were still talking late into the night when another waiting maid 
appeared and asked them would they not settle down to sleep at last. It 
was already the third watch of the night. Pao Yu asked her to hand 

150 



him the clock. Yes, the hand did in fact point to midnight. Pao Yu 
washed his face and rinsed his mouth once more, then lay down to 
sleep at last. Pearl was to learn soon enough, to her annoyance, how 
lightly he was going to regard the promises which he had just solemnly 
given her. 

The next day brought new life and change to the Yungkuo palace 
with the arrival of the cousin Hsiang Yun, or Little Cloud. She belonged 
to the noble family of the Counts Shih and was a granddaughter of the 
Princess Ancestress. Because of her saucy freshness and exuberant 
gaiety pretty little Miss Hsiang Yun had always been a very welcome 
guest, and from childhood a good comrade of her cousin Pao Yu, who 
was her own age, and with whom she had played many a prank. One 
occasion remembered with particular amusement in the palace was the 
time she had disguised herself as Pao Yu and imitated him so perfectly 
that she could only be distinguished from him by her voice. 

Pao Yu happened to be with Precious Clasp when the arrival of his 
childhood playmate was announced to him. Accompanied by Precious 
Clasp, he went off at once to welcome her. He found her with the 
Princess Ancestress, and the sound of gay chatter and merry laughter 
betrayed her presence from a long way off. Black Jade and the other 
cousins were all there already. 

"Where have you come from now?" asked Black Jade, turning to 
Pao Yu. 

"I was with Sister Precious Clasp." 

"Aha, that's why you are so late. Otherwise you would certainly 
have dashed along here long ago." 

"Do you think I exist only to pass the time for you?" 

"No, but you may think so if you like. Moreover, I never asked you 
to while away time for me. and in future 1 shall willingly do without 
the pleasure of your company." 

And already she was out the door and had run to her room. He ran 
after her. 

"Do not be so terribly touchy," he pleaded. "What bad thing have I 
said again? Instead of staying here and amusing yourself with us, you 
go off and make yourself miserable." 

"Are you my guardian that you speak like that?" 

"Of course I'm not, but I cannot look on and see you torturing your- 
self." 

"If I torture myself, even if I torture myself to death, that's my 
affair." 

"How can one even speak of death now in this joyful New Year 
Festival time?" 

151 



"That is just what I will speak of, and now. You are afraid of death, 
I am sure, and would like to live to be a hundred. Isn't that so?" 

"A charming conversation like this would almost make one wish for 
death." 

"Thank you. So you would wish me dead?" 

"Who is speaking of your death? I meant mine. How you twist the 
words in a person's mouth!" 

"Cousin Little Cloud is waiting for you!" With these words Precious 
Clasp broke in on their conversation and snatched Pao Yu away with- 
out more ado. Black Jade remained obstinately behind; she sat down 
by the window and wept, but she had not been there long when Pao 
Yu came back. As soon as he appeared Black Jade's suppressed weeping 
changed to loud sobbing. He started trying to pacify her. 

"Why are you bothering me again?" she asked, forestalling him. 
"You have got someone else who can entertain you much better than I 
can, and who is much cleverer, and more practical, and more edu- 
cated, and more amusing than I who is always anxious for your wel- 
fare and takes you away in good time when you are in boring company. 
So what do you want here, please?" 

"Do be reasonable!" he pleaded gently. "You know just as well as 
I do that close relations come before distant ones, and old friendships 
before new ones. I am much more closely related to you than to Precious 
Clasp and I have known you much longer than I have known her. We 
two have eaten together, lived together, learned and played together, 
for years now, day after day so you have really no reason at all to 
feel slighted." 

"Pah ! I am not so, anxious for your favor that I would compete with 
others for it. I do what suits me. What others think matters nothing at 
all to me." 

"I am just the same. That is why we have such frequent misunder- 
standings." 

"Oh, I understand you thoroughly well. But you will no.t tolerate 
any well-meant reproof, and by your whims you are always challenging 
people to reprove you. To give an example right away: why do you 
take it into your head to leave off your warm blue fox collar just now 
in this cold weather?" 

"Because your bad humor has made me quite hot," he replied 
gaily. 

"You will catch a fine cold," she sighed. While they were skirmish- 
ing in this way Cousin Little Cloud came skipping along. 

"You two have each other the whole time; you're together day after 
day," she said with her comical-sounding lisp. "I come here so seldom, 
you might really give a little more time to me." 

152 



"What a funny pronunciation the little one has!" exclaimed Black 
Jade, mockingly mimicking her. "If you counted one, two, three her 
way you would bite your tongue in two." 

"Take care that you do not bite your own tongue in two by mimick- 
ing her so well!" said Pao Yu to Black Jade in the same tone of 
mimicry. 

"You're terrible. You won't overlook the tiniest defect in your fellow 
creatures; you must always find fault with us," lamented the victim. 
"You may put on superior airs with others, but I know someone whom 
you would never dare to find fault with." 

"Oh, indeed? I would really love to know whom you mean," replied 
Pao Yu. 

"If you have enough courage to find fault with Cousin Precious 
Clasp, you can be really proud of yourself." 

"Oh, with her? Very well, just see if I don't. . . ." 

Pao Yu tried to 'cut her short, and began talking about something 
else. But Little Cloud would not give up and rattled away in mock 
indignation to Black Jade: "I hope you will one day have a man who 
will bite his tongue when he speaks and torture you day and night 
with his stutter. If I live to see that, I will believe, holy Buddha, in you 
and your power of retribution !" 

And with this last shaft she was out of the room in a flash amid the 
laughter of the others. 

Black Jade wanted to dash after her, but Pao Yu stood in the door- 
way with outstretched arms, laughingly barring her way. 

"Be generous and let her off!" 

"No, I won't; she will have to pay for this!" said Black Jade heatedly, 
trying in vain to push him aside. 

"Dearest, best sister, I beg for mercy!" pleaded Little Cloud, who 
had stopped outside. 

"Be friends again for his sake," urged Precious Clasp from inside. 

"No, I will not!" insisted Black Jade, stamping her foot defiantly. 
"I see you have all plotted together to make game of me." 

"But it was you who began it. Now, do be reasonable and give it 
up!" Pao Yu tried to persuade her. 

And so the lively contest went on for a while, this way and that, un- 
til a servant appeared to call them to their evening meal. They broke 
off their squabble and went off, all four together, hot-cheeked and 
chattering gaily, to the apartments of the Princess Ancestress. Little 
Cloud also went to her quarters just as usual, and shared a bed peace- 
ably with Black Jade. 



153 



CHAPTER 17 

The maid Pearl sulks and takes Pao Yu quietly to task. The maid Little 
Ping keeps silence and saves Chia Lien from being discovered. 

IKE NEXT MORNING ?AO Yu JUMPED OUT OF BED VERY EARLY, PUT 

on his slippers and dressing gown, and tripped along next door to the 
bedroom of his two cousins. He found them still in bed fast asleep. The 
absence of the maids made it possible for him to observe them at 
leisure. How different they looked even when asleep! Black Jade lay 
all carefully wrapped and muffled up to her ears in the apricot-colored 
silk eiderdown, while Little Cloud had let the cover slide off her so 
much that her right shoulder and her right arm, decorated with two 
gold bangles, and even a bit of her round smooth thigh lay bare and 
naked. The blue-black ringlets of her loosened hair fell over the edge 
of the pillow. 

"She cannot be still even when asleep!" murmured Pao Yu to him- 
self. "She'll get a fine cold and then complain of twinges." 

And he drew the cover gently and carefully up over her. Thereupon 
Black Jade turned round and opened her eyes. "What are you doing 
here so early?" she asked Pao Yu. 

"It's not at all so early. Quick, get up!" 

"You must go out first." 

Pao Yu waited a little while in the adjoining dressing room, then 
he came back. In the meantime the two cousins had got up and were 
just at their morning toilet. Pao Yu sat down by the dressing table and 
looked on as Little Cloud washed herself. When she had finished, the 
maid Blue Thread was about to take away the washing water. 

"Stop!" cried Pao Yu, holding her back. "I would like to have it to 
wash in." 

And he stooped over the basin, wetted his face and hands in the same 
water which Little Cloud had used, and dried himself with the same 
towel with which she had dried herself. Then he quickly rinsed out 
his mouth and cleaned his teeth with blue salts and, this done, turned 
round again to Little Cloud. She had just finished doing her hair. 

"Dear little sister, please do my hair too!" he begged. 

"No, I cannot do that." 

"But you used to be able to do it before." 

''Perhaps so, but I have forgotten how to." 

'You must do it! I will not go away from here or put on my fore- 
head band or my cap until you have done my hair! Just to plait the few 
little pigtails is not so very difficult!" 

Finally she gave in and did what he asked; she drew his head nearer 

154 



to her, plaited the front hair into a ring of little pigtails which when 
all tied by the ends and drawn up formed a crown-shaped coiffure, 
and dressed* his back hair in a long pigtail with a red braid plaited 
through it. This braid was decorated with four pearls and it was 
weighted down with a gold clasp at the end. 

"Look here, the fourth pearl does not match the other pearls. I re- 
member that all four used to be alike," remarked Little Cloud while 
she was plaiting. 

"That's right. It is a replacement; I lost the original one." 

"Out in the 'street, I suppose. It's a pity, the lovely pearl is in 
strange hands now." 

"Who knows, perhaps he did not lose it but presented it to some- 
one as a mark of regard," interjected Black Jade. 

Pao Yu did not reply, but continued to handle and peep inta the 
bottles and boxes which covered the dressing table. Now he caught 
sight of an open jar of rouge. He would have liked to stick in his finger, 
as was his habit, and taste the red stuff, but he was afraid his cousins 
would catch him at it and scold him. While he was hesitating and 
staring fascinated at the tempting red paste he suddenly got a slap 
from behind which made him drop the pot of rouge. 

"You shouldn't do that! When will you give up such silliness?" 
Little Cloud rebuked him. 

At that moment the maid Pearl appeared, but immediately with- 
drew again when she saw how matters stood. She found she was super- 
fluous at such times. While she was doing her own morning toilet Pre- 
cious Clasp entered her room. 

"Where is Pao Yu?" she asked. 

"He is busy," replied Pearl with an ironical smile, indicating the 
next room. 

Precious Clasp understood. 

"Yes, one can preach to him as much as one likes, but it only goes 
in one ear and out the other," continued Pearl with a sigh. "They are 
his cousins, of course, but even with cousins there are certain limits. 
This boisterous playing about day and night he knows no modera- 
tion!" 

Precious Clasp thought she was speaking very sensibly. She sat on 
the edge of the bed and started a little talk with her, asking about her 
age and family and other personal things; and the more she chatted 
with her the more she was charmed by her kind and understanding na- 
ture. At last Pao Yu returned. Precious Clasp stood up at once and went 
off without a word or a greeting. 

"Why did she go off so suddenly when I came in?" he asked in sur- 
prise. 

156 



"Why do you ask me? I cannot know what there is between you 
two," replied Pearl coolly. Pao Yu did not fail to notice her annoyed 
expression. 

"Why are you in such a bad humor?" he continued, smiling. 

"I did not know that I was in a bad humor. Moreover, in future you 
need not set your foot in my room any more, and when you want some- 
one to serve you, please get someone else! From now on I would prefer 
to serve the old Tai tai again." 

Saying this, she threw herself on her bed. Pao Yu sat down beside 
her and spoke kind words to her, but she shut her eyes tight and did 
not take any notice of him. He was utterly perplexed. 

"What is the matter with her?" he asked the maid, Musk, who came 
in just then. 

"How do I know? You must ask her yourself," answered Musk 
brusquely, and disappeared again. Pao Yu looked after her, puzzLJ 

"Ah, well! I'll lie down to sleep too," he said ill-humoredly; and 
standing up he went into his bedroom and threw himself on the bed. 
For a while it was quiet in both rooms. Then Pearl heard the sound 
of regular breathing. She thought he had really gone to sleep, so she 
got up quietly, went over, and covered him with a blanket. But he 
pushed the covering away crossly and continued to pretend to be 
asleep. She saw through his pretense. 

"If it suits you that way, I also can pretend to be deaf and dumb in 
future," she said. 

He gave up his pretending and sat up. 

"How have I deserved your displeasure again? I have no objection 
to your scolding me. But to sulk silently without any reason, and not 
to notice me at all, that's no manners! I do not understand your be- 
havior/' 

"It is a pity that you lack the necessary insight." 

He had no time to reply, for the Princess Ancestress sent for him to 
come to breakfast. When he returned again after a breakfast taken 
hurriedly and absent-mindedly, Pearl had made herself comfortable on 
the divan in the veranda, while Musk was squatting down beside her 
tranquilly laying out dominoes. They behaved as if they did not see 
him. He knew that they always made common cause. Engaged and 
without even deigning to glance at them, he passed them by and went 
into his own room. Musk got up slowly and followed him in silently, 
expecting an order. But without hesitation he pushed her out the door. 

"Please do not let me disturb you two!" he said angrily. Musk turned 
away, giggling to herself, and sent him two little auxiliary maids in- 
stead. Meantime Pao Yu had again thrown himself on the bed and 
was buried in a book. When he looked up after a while and wished 

157 



to order tea he saw the two little things standing quietly and shyly in 
a corner. One of them, the older, he found most charming. 

"What is your name?" he asked. 

"Orchid Perfume." 

"Who gave you that name?" 

"Sister Pearl. My real name is Perfume of Resin." 

"Ridiculous!" he murmured. "How many sisters have you at home?" 

"There are four of us." 

"And where do you come in?" 

"I'm the fourth." 

"Good. Then I shall just call you Little Fourth. Why these elaborate 
names? Hurry up and bring me tea!" 

The two elder maids who were outside on the veranda had heard the 
conversation. They pressed their lips tightly together to keep from 
laughing out loud. 

That whole day Pao Yu remained quietly in his room, contrary to 
his usual custom, and cured his bad humor as best he could by reading 
and writing. He left all the maids alone, with the exception of Little 
Fourth. Little Fourth naturally felt very much favored, and being very 
wide awake, she took the opportunity to fawn upon him and dance 
attendance on him, thus completely winning his favor. But he was not 
inclined to pay her much more attention today. 

When evening came he felt his self-imposed loneliness doubly op- 
pressive. A few glasses of wine which he had taken at table had ex- 
cited and stimulated him. His eyes burned and his ears glowed. Nor- 
mally, in such a mood as this he would have joked and been boisterous 
with his cousins and the maids. Today it was cold and quiet all around 
him. He sat alone in front of the lamp indulging in sad thoughts. 
Should he not go to them all the same, seek their company as usual? 
No, his pride would not allow that. He did not want to run after them. 
If lie did so, they would treat him with more contempt than ever in the 
future and take even more liberties in making critical remarks. Better to 
ignore them completely, as if they were dead, and to be content with 
his own company for once. 

After he had forced himself to this heroic decision a feeling of cheer- 
ful composure came over him. He got Little Fourth to pour him 
out some fresh wine, and took down the work of the great philosopher 
Chuang Tzu. That was just the right book for his mood. As he was 
looking through it he came on a passage in the chapter about robbers 
and thieves entitled "Open the Cupboards" which read: "Away with 
morality and education! Then there will be no more street robberies. 
Away with pearls and precious stones! Then thefts will cease. Burn the 
documents of investiture! Smash up the seals of office! Then people 

158 



will become honest and simple again. Destroy the weighing machines! 
Smash up the weights and measures ! Then there will be no more quar- 
relling and strife! Do away with laws and regulations! Then people 
will become sensible of their own accord. Away with the study of 
harmony and musical instruments! Then people will learn to hear of 
themselves. Away with calligraphy and color theories! Then people 
will learn to see for themselves. Away with arithmetic and geometry, 
with angles and compasses ! Then people will become clever and shrewd 
of themselves. . . ." 

When Pao Yu had read thus far, he dipped his brush in the India 
ink and, inspired by the wine and by the spirit of the wise Chuang Tzu, 
he wrote on, continuing the theme: "Away with the Pearls and the 
Musks ! Then the inmates of the inner chambers will take care of them- 
selves. Smash up the Precious Clasps! Let the Black Jades return to 
ashes ! Bury all yearnings and passions ! Then will the beautiful and the 
ugly inmates of inner chambers bear with one another and reciprocally 
and without rancor accept wise instructions one from the other. Should 
Precjous Clasp's divine beauty fade away, I would be cured of the de- 
lusion of love. Should Black Jade's splendid mind go to ashes, then I 
would no longer need to be consumed with admiration for her. These 
four, Clasp, Jade, Pearl, and Musk, cast out their nets and set their 
malicious snares and fool and bewitch all who come within their range." 

Having written these passages from his heart, Pao Yu flung aside 
his brush well pleased, lay down in bed, and fell asleep at once. 

When he awoke the next mooring and turned over on the other side, 
he saw the maid Pearl lying at his side, fully clothed, on top of the 
bedclothes. He gave her a push. 

"Lie down properly in the bed! You will catch cold like that," he 
said to her. He had long ago forgotten the little quarrel of yesterday, 
but she had not. When she remained silent, he stretched out his hand 
and tried to pull off her jacket. But he had scarcely undone the first 
button when she pushed back his hand and buttoned her jacket again. 
He grasped her hand and asked kindly: "What is the matter with you?" 

She looked at him astonished. "There is nothing at all wrong with 
me, but I wouM advise you to go over quickly to your morning toilet, 
or else you will arrive too late." 

"Over where?" 

"As if i need tell you! Let the two of us keep at a distance from each 

other, for there's only cockfighting between us for the amusement of 

others. So go along over there, where you find it so pleasant. And if 

's no longer pleasant over there, there's always a Little Fourth or a 

Little Fifth at your disposal over here. What do you want with an awk- 

160 



ward creature like me, who stupidly misuses beautiful flower names?" 

"Can you not forget about yesterday, then?" 

"Never! Not if I were to live for a hundred years! I am certainly 
not like you, past whose ear all well-meant words are blown away by 
the wind unheard, and who does not know the next morning what has 
been said the night before." 

Pao Yu seized a jade hair clasp which had slid down near the pillow, 
and flung it so violently to the ground that it broke. 

"May that happen to me too if I do not listen to you in the future!" 
he said with emphasis. 

"Better not to swear!" said Pearl, laughing. "Besides, you do not 
really mean it." 

"If you knew how heavy my heart is!" 

"What do you know about grief, anyway? You would have to look 
into my heart to know that. But enough of this. It's time to get up." 

Pao Yu got up and dressed himself. This time he did not go over 
to Black Jade and Little Cloud but remained quietly with Pearl and let 
her do his hair. Shortly after he had gone to take breakfast with his 
grandmother as usual, Black Jade came into his room. Full of curiosity, 
she ransacked his writing table. There she found the book of Chuang 
Tzu lying open and beside it the supplementary composition written in 
Pao Yu's own hand. She did not really know whether to laugh at his 
outpourings or to be angry. At any rate, she took the writing brush 
and wrote the following satirical verse as further supplement, under his 
effusion: 

"Who is the clumsy fool that dares to prattle 
And nibble at the words of Master Chuang Tzu? 
Let him attend to his own business 
And keep his hands off the affairs of others." 

Phoenix's little daughter was ill with smallpox, and the doctor had 
ordered the usual precautions to be taken. Phoenix and her husband 
Chia Lien had to evacuate their house temporarily on account of the 
danger of infection, and live separately, Chia Lien in the outer library 
and Phoenix with her aunt, Madame Cheng. The dwelling was swept 
out and fumigated in accordance with the prescribed formula, an altar 
was erected to the goddess of smallpox, and Phoenix devoutly offered 
sacrifice and prayed before it every day. Everything roasted or baked 
was banished from the kitchen of the Yungkuo household during the 
days of the illness. The nurse and the maids who had to attend to the 
sick child were dressed in new dark red garments. Two doctors took 
turns in caring for the little patient and were not allowed to leave the 
house for twelve days. 

161 



The temporary interruption of marital relations was a hard trial for 
Chia Lien, and he found the loneliness of his sleeping quarters in the 
outer library so oppressive that by the third day he was already looking 
around for some compensation. The company of a few nice young 
serving boys did not satisfy him for long. Then his eyes fell on the 
wife of the cook To Kuan. This woman, who was barely twenty, was 
full of voluptuous charm, and having been married off by her parents 
to a drunken blockhead whom she did not love, she made it a practice 
to compensate herself for this as well as she could behind his back. The 
cook no longer bothered about her doings; he only cared for money and 
good food and drink, and it was his habit to throw himself on his bed 
quite early in the evening to sleep off his usual tipsiness. So it was easy 
for his wife to pick flowers by the wayside or enjoy secret fruits, and 
there was scarcely a man either in the western or in the eastern palace 
who had not enjoyed her favors at one time or another. 

Chia Lien's mouth too had long been watering for this juicy peach, but 
fear of Phoenix had restrained him up to now. Under the present cir- 
cumstances, however, he put aside all his qualms, and as the woman, 
moreover, was encouraging him by ostentatiously strutting about in 
front of the windows of his quarters, he easily arranged for a first meeting 
with her. One evening when the cook was again lying on the kang 
helplessly drunk and snoring, he slipped into her room. Her proximity 
was sufficient to make him immediately lose complete control, and no 
preliminary amorous declaration or skirmishing about was necessary, 
straight away they undressed and lay down side by side. With keen 
delight he relished her oft-tried arts of love, which had already made 
many a man's bones and nerves soft as wax. He felt in her arms as if 
he were bedded in cotton-wool, and revelled in the union of their 
bodies. 

"You are a real villain!" she remarked laughing, as they lay there. 
"Your child is ill, your wife is praying to the goddess of smallpox, 
and you should be mortifying yourself in virtuous solitude. Be off at 
once!" 

"You are my goddess! What do I want with other goddesses?" he 
stammered, continuing his devout exercise. After this first time he came 
to her daily and was almost sorry when, after twelve days, the child 
was well again and the worship of the goddess, as he understood it, was 
at an end. The altar and the statue of the goddess of smallpox were 
taken down and in their place a solemn ceremonial thanksgiving sacri- 
fice was offered to heaven and to the ancestors by the assembled fam- 
ily. And Phoenix and Chia Lien returned to their common home. 

The maid Little Ping was putting Chia Lien's clothing and bed 
liner back in their place again, when she discovered between the pil- 

162 



lows a long strand of a woman's blue-black hair. She knew what that 
meant, wound up the strand carefully, hurried off to Chia Lien, and 
triumphantly held up her find to him. 

"Look here, what is this?" 

The astonished Chia Lien tried to snatch the strand out of her hand, 
but Little Ping was quicker than he and dodged him cleverly. He 
rushed after her, caught her and pushed her down on the divan. There 
was a violent struggle for the possession of the dangerous piece of evi- 
dence. 

"Let me go!" screamed the ticklish maid, choking with laughter. 
"You should be thankful that I have not betrayed you, you rascal! But 
if you torment me any more I will not spare you but will tell your 
wife." 

"Dearest, best one, do not do that ! I will treat you well in the fu- 
ture!" he begged, letting her go quickly, for he had heard Phoenix's 
voice outside. 

"Do not betray me!" he repeated again, in a low voice. Thereupon 
the redoubtable lady entered. She cast a quick, searching, sidelong 
glance at her husband and then said to the maid: "Have you moved all 
my husband's things in here?" 

The maid nodded. 

"Nothing is missing?" The maid answered in the negative. 

"Is there nothing among them which should not be there?" 

"What do you mean?" asked Little Ping, laughing. "Is it not enough 
that nothing is missing?" 

"Hm, one cannot know," replied Madame Phoenix also laughing, and 
looking askance at her husband again. "In two weeks' separation many 
things can happen. Who knows? Might not a ring, or a cambric 
handkerchief, or some other tender souvenir be found perchance among 
his things?" 

Chia Lien had become waxen yellow in the face with fright and be- 
hind his wife's back cast despairing looks at the maid, like a fowl that is 
just about to be killed. 

"How strange that we should think the same thing, Mistress!" said 
Little Ping, quite unembarrassed. "Because I feared the same thing as 
you did I have just looked through his things thoroughly, and have 
not found the slightest trace of anything. But if you don't believe me, 
look yourself." 

"Nonsense! He wouldn't be so stupid as to put our noses on the 
scent, so let it be!" replied Phoenix, as she turned round laughing, to 
go out. Chia Lien breathed a sigh of relief as she turned her back. 
Little Ping held her nose to prevent herself from bursting out laughing. 

163 



"Well, have I acted my part well? You should be very grateful to 
me," she said to him. 

"My heart! My liver! My little meat ball!" he flattered her, em- 
bracing her tenderly. Little Ping had again produced the telltale strand 
of hair and swung it gleefully in his face. 

"Look, with this I have you fettered for life!" she cried exultantly. 
"If ever you are not nice to me, I can go to your wife and betray 
you." 

But with a sudden grab he had snatched at her waving hand and 
torn the booty frpm her. 

"The thing is safer with me. At best, you will do some mischief with 
it," he said laughing and stuffed the strand into the leg of his boot. 

"Fie! You are very rude!" she pouted, disconcerted. "You are 
hardly safely across the stream when you break down the bridge. But 
do not imagine that I will tell lies for you again!" With this she disen- 
gaged herself from his tender embrace and slipped out of the room. 
"Such a hussy; first you entice, and then, when the fire is alight, you 
run off!" he called after her. 

"Who told you to get on fire?" she called back through the window, 
laughing. "You do not imagine that I could belong to you? Your wife 
would certainly have it in for me if she got to know of it." 

"Oh, she! You need not be afraid of her. Sometime I'll shatter that 
vinegar pot in pieces! She'll learn to know me, with her damned 
jealousy! I've been tired of this tedious spying for a long time past. 
She watches me as if I were a thief. If she had her way, I'd only asr 
sociate with men and never speak to any female. Even the very prox- 
imity of a woman arouses her suspicion. She, on the other hand, enjoys 
herself freely and unashamedly with brothers-in-law and cousins and 
nephews. But just wait, I will pay her back!" 

"She has every reason to mistrust you, but you on your part have 
no reason to be jealous. She is the best and most faithful married 
woman living. But you are a depraved scoundrel and villain." 

"Aha, you have both conspired against me. But just wait, I will have 
an opportunity someday of stopping your slanderous tongues . . .!" 
The approach of Phoenix stopped any further abuse. When she 
noticed the maid, Little Ping, conversing with him at the window, 
she said to her teasingly: "If you want something from him, please 
arrange it inside! Why do you talk with him through the window?" 

"That's right. She behaves as if there were a tiger in here who wanted 
to eat her," interjected Chia Lien~ laughing. 

"There is no one in there but himself," remarked Little Ping, sharply. 
"Oh, but that's all the better," continued Phoenix ironically. 
"All the better for whom?" asked Little Ping, irritated. 

164 






*-- 







"For you, of course!" 

"You would do better not to force me to speak. For if you do, all 
kinds of nice things might come to light," the maid replied in an in- 
jured tone, turning her back on her mistress without drawing aside the 
curtain for her. Phoenix raised the curtain herself and went into the 
roorr 

"The creature seems to have gone crazy," she remarked angrily to 
her husband. "But if she should take it into her head to want to get 
the better of me, I would like to advise you also to save your skin." 

Chia Lien threw himself full length on the divan and clapped his 
hands with pleasure. 

"What? Is she really so dangerous?" he exclaimed, laughing. "If 
that is so, I must look at her with quite different eyes in future." 

"Of course you are to blame ! You must have encouraged her," said 
Phoenix severely. "Take care that I do not settle accounts with you!" 

"Ha, then I had better be off!" 

"Stop! Stay here! I have something else to speak to you about." 

What she had to speak to him about will be revealed in the next 
chapter. 



CHAPTER 18 

Poo Yu jails out with two of his cousins at the same time. Two lovers 
tease one another with quotations from "The Play of the Western 

Pavilion." 

CiHIA LlEN REMAINED STANDING. 

"Well?" 

"The twenty-first will be Cousin Precious Clasp's birthday. How 
shall we celebrate it?" 

"You must surely know that best yourself. You have had sufficient 
experience in celebrating birthdays." 

"Yes, those of grown-up people; there are definite rules about those. 
But one cannot yet count Cousin Precious Clasp as an adult, and 
neither is she a child. That is the trouble." 

"It's quite simple. We can celebrate her birthday just as Black Jade's 
was celebrated last year." 

"Of course I had already thought of that. But it won't do, for when 
Grandmother recently inquired the ages of her various grandchildren, 
we realized that Precious Clasp is now fifteen, so she is marriageable. 
Grandmother thinks that we should pay special attention to the im- 
portance of this day." 

166 



"Good. Then we can arrange for the celebration to be somewhat 
more sumptuous than that for Black Jade's birthday." 

"That's what I think too. I only wanted to have your agreement, 
so that you would not reproach me afterwards and scold me 
inconsiderately." 

"Very well, very well ! I am not as petty as all that. You worry your- 
self with unnecessary scruples. I am quite satisfied if you do not lecture 
me about my own affairs; I just mind my own business." 

And he turned away laughing. 

At the wish of the Princess Ancestress, Precious Clasp, for whom she 
had a particular affection on account of her even, kindly, and courteous 
manner, was specially honored on her birth 'ay with a theatrical per- 
formance as well as with the usual banquet. The evening before she was 
permitted to choose the menu and also the theatrical program. Precious 
Clasp was wise enough to choose certain sweet dishes and sensational 
and gruesome dramas, which she knew for certain were the Princess 
Ancestress's favorite dishes and favorite theatrical pieces. The banquet 
was held in the apartments of the Princess Ancestress. The nice little 
private stage, on which a troupe of youthful artists from Suchow 
showed their versatile talents, was set up in the inner courtyard of her 
residence. 

When the performance was about to begin and all the female rela- 
tives had assembled, Black Jade was the only one missing. Pao Yu went 
off to fetch her. He found her lying on the divan in her room poring 
over books. 

"Get up! Get up! It's time for breakfast. And besides, the perform- 
ance is going to begin at once," he rallied her. "Have you any special 
wish with regard to the program? If so, I shall have it noted at once." 

"No, thank you. If I were to choose, I would choose the whole pro- 
gram. The performance today is not in my honor." 

"Have patience a little while ! Then your turn will come, and you will 
be able to choose the whole program. But come now!" 

And he laughingly dragged the reluctant Black Jade back with him. 
The performance lasted from morning until night, and exciting scenes 
from the adventurous "History of a Journey to the West" were alter- 
nated with merry farces such as "Mr. Lu Mislays his Coat" and "The 
Drunken Lu Brawls on the Wu tai shan," for the Princess Ancestress 
liked coarse low comedy turns too. After the entertainment she had two 
of the young artists with whom she was specially pleased brought to 
her. One of them had played the heroine; the other, the merry buffoon. 
The whole company gasped with admiring su t , nse when the two gifted 
artists declared, when asked, that they were only eleven and nine years 
old respectively. The Princess Ancestress had them sumptuously enter- 

167 



tained and gave each of them a thousand-piece string of money as an 
extra fee. 

"Does not the elder one, in his female attire, resemble a certain per- 
son we all know?" remarked Phoenix. 

Precious Clasp understood at once whom she meant; she did not 
mention a name, however, but just nodded her head. Pao Yu followed 
her example. But Cousin Little Cloud could not refrain from bursting 
out in her impetuous way: "Why, of course, he is like Sister Black 
Jade!" 

The warning, sidelong glance which Pao Yu shot at her came too 
late. Everyone n^aced now; all scrutinized Black Jade and agreed 
amid laughter: "Yes, indeed, they are so much alike one could mis- 
take them for one another!" 

When Pao Yu was going to bed that night he heard Little Cloud in 
the next room ordering her maid to pack her things, and saying in re- 
ply to the maid's astonished question: "Yes, I am going away early in 
the morning. I do not wish to stay here any longer. This everlasting 
criticizing and watching of every word and every look does not suit 
me." 

Pao Yu ran across to her room. 

"Dear little sister, you are unjustly angry," he said, trying to placate 
her. "Black Jade is so terribly sensitive, and that is why I tried to warn 
you by a look not to mention her name; I was afraid she would take 
offense at being compared to an actor. I meant it well and you need not 
be so angry with me on account of it. If it was about anyone else . . ." 

"That's enough!" Little Cloud interrupted him indignantly. "Spare 
me your flowery words! What am I beside your cousin Black Jade? An 
ordinary girl beside a high-born lady, isn't that so? Others may make 
remarks about her, but I dare not. If I open my mouth, it's a crime." 

"If I have ever thought of slighting you in the least, may I be turned 
instantly into the dirt of the road, on which everyone may trample!" 
protested Pao Yu in dismay. 

"Make those flowery speeches to inferior people of your own kind, 
who, in their insensitiveness, know no better than to ridicule and mock 
their fellow beings, but spare me your common street jargon and do 
not provoke me to spit out before you!" replied Little Cloud furiously 
as she ran out of the room to the apartments of the Princess Ancestress, 
where she spent the night. 

Pao Yu, who had run after her in vain, turned back much dejected. 
He was longing for Black Jade's company; but scarcely had he set foot 
in her room than Black Jade pushed him out and shut the door behind 
him. Pao Yu was perplexed. 

168 



"Dearest, best Mei mei!" he called with gentle entreaty through the 
door to her. 

But Black Jade remained silent and invisible. Pao Yu hung his head 
and sank into sad thoughts. As there was no sound for a long time, 
Black Jade, thinking he had gone to his room, opened the door. Then 
she saw him still standing there like a poor sinner. Now she had pity on 
him and let him in. 

"Will you not at least tell me why you are angry?" he began 
hesitantly. 

She gave a short, dry laugh. 

"You ask that? I should take it quietly when I am compared with a 
comedian and made ridiculous Before the whole company?" 

"But I did not make such a comparison, neither did I laugh at you." 

"No, but your secret exchange of glances with Little Cloud hurt me 
even more. I know well what you meant by it, that you think more of 
Little Cloud than of me, that she gives up something and lowers herself 
when she associates with me. Naturally, she is a high-born lady, a 
count's daughter, and I am only an ordinary girl of the people! Is not 
that what you meant? It's a pity that with your good intentions you 
have found so little reciprocal love from her and have to be reproached 
by her for going about with an inferior person like me, who, in her 
insensitiveness, knows no better than to ridicule and mock her fellow 
beings! I really do not understand your anxious consideration for her. 
She certainly does not thank you for it." 

Pao Yu understood that she had been listening just now to his argu- 
ment with Little Cloud. 

That is what I get for my good intention of trying to play the part 
of mediator between them! he thought to himself bitterly. Now I have 
fallen foul of both of them, and have to put up with reproaches from 
both sides. The wise Chuang Tzu was right when he said: "Why so 
much activity? It only gives one worry. Why trouble about all sorts of 
things? One is only annoyed by them. How splendid, on the other hand, 
only to care about one's own modest necessities of life, and so float on 
the waves free and alone as a boat adrift!" How useless is my striving 
and trouble! I do not even succeed in bringing about reconciliation and 
harmony between two girls! Why should I set myself higher aims? 

Sunk in thought, he turned away from Black Jade to go back to his 
room. 

"Go away! You need not come back again and you need not speak 
to me any more," she called after him. 

Without taking any more notice of her he slipped back to his room 
and threw himself on the bed with a sigh. Pearl's voice startled him out 
of his brooding. 

169 



"We shall probably see more theatrical performances in the next few 
days, for Miss Precious Clasp is sure to make the best of her opportu- 
nity," she remarked, trying to distract him. 

"It's all the same to me," he replied, brusquely. 

"How is that? In this happy New Year season everyone is merry and 
in good spirits. Why are you alone out of humor?" 

"What is it to me if the others are enjoying themselves?" 

"You should get on better with them; then you also would enjoy 
yourself." 

"What have I to do with the others? After all, I am alone, quite 
ajone. No one wants me." 

Tears came to his eyes and he gave a loud sob. Then he got up, went 
to "the writing table, took his brush, and worked off his ill-humor by 
writing a stanza full of the weariness of life and Buddhist renuncia- 
tion of the world. Having done this, he felt more free /and relieved, and 
lay down peacefully to sleep. 

A little later Black Jade slipped into his room full of curiosity, under 
the pretext of looking for Pearl. 

"He's already asleep," Pearl intimated to her quietly. "Here, read 
this! He has just written it." 

Black Jade scanned the page of writing. She was amused at the con- 
tents but at the same time felt sorry for the boy. 

"It's only a little foolery and means nothing," she said with apparent 
indifference, but she could not refrain from taking the sheet of paper 
away with her and giving it to Little Cloud and the nevt morning to 
Precious Clasp to read. 

"Do what you want to ! Come, go, as you please ! 
Weep! Laugh! It's all the same to me. 
What do I care about the world!" 

Thus read the stanza, the first part of which was written in the Sutra 
style. 

"Oh, Cousin Pao Yu wants to join the saints and renounce the 
world!" the three of them cried, looking at each other with embar- 
rassed smiles. Each of them felt a little bit guilty. 

"Come, let us go to him together and bring him to reason!" sug- 
gested Black Jade. And the three of them set off together to the Cham- 
ber of the Fragrance of Culture. Black Jade drew his attention to the 
fact that his Buddhist stanza was incomplete, and she added the missing 
conclusive point; and Precious Clasp mentioned the case of a well- 
known Buddhist sectarian who had resigned the leadership of his sect 
in favor of his cook, when the latter put him to shame by the correct 
criticism of a similarly defective stanza which he had composed. Pao 

170 



Yu remarked with embarrassed astonishment that his clever cousins 
knew more than he himself did about a sphere which he had thought 
quite unknown to them. If they in spite of this did not presume to be- 
long to the "awakened," he concluded that his chance of attaining to 
even a modest degree of holiness was positively nil. He therefore re- 
signed himself to abandoning all idea of further striving after Buddhist 
contemplation. 

"It was only a jest, the mood of a moment," he explained, smiling. 
And with this the happy old relationship between the cousins was 
restored. 

When Beginning of Spring, the Emperor's wife, had returned to the 
Court from her visit to the Park of Delightful Vision, she had expressed 
the wish that a monument should be erected in the park with an inscrip- 
tion which would commemorate for all time the happy event of her 
visit. Chia Cheng hastened to fulfill her wish, and entrusted the work to 
the most skillful stonecutters and engravers he could find. 

The Imperial wife reflected, furthermore, that the Park of Delightful 
Vision, which had been made specially for her visit, would be shut up 
and sealed by her father after the visit through a sense of dutiful re- 
spect, and she said to herself that it would really be a pity if these 
beautiful places were to be left abandoned and unused in the future. 
Why should it not be made accessible to her sisters and cousins, who 
could make rhymes and stanzas so splendidly? Were they not worthy 
to lift up their minds and hearts amid the beautiful vistas of the park? 
And should not her brother Pao Yu also share this special privilege? 
For since his childhood he had been accustomed to the company of 
girls, and would find himself terribly lonely and neglected if he were 
suddenly deprived of the accustomed companionship. 

Moved by these considerations, the Imperial spouse sent the Chief 
Eunuch Hsia to the Yungkuo palace with orders to this effect. Mr. 
Cheng and his wife lost no time in sending people to the park to clean 
up and furnish comfortably the various places of abode destined for 
Pao Yu and the young girls. 

Pao Yu was very specially pleased with the changes which were to 
take place. He was just then with his grandmother discussing this and 
that matter regarding the change-over, when a servant came in to call 
him to his father. Pao Yu turned pale. His happy mood was swept away 
immediately. Craving protection, he pressed convulsively against his 
grandmother's right side as if she were a piece of sugar which was to 
be crushed to besprinkle a sweet dish. He did not want to go at any 
price, for he believed it was again to be one of those fatherly repri- 
mands which he feared so much. The Princess Ancestress encouraged 

171 



him, saying that he had nothing to fear, and that his father probably 
only wished to give him some instructions on good behavior before he 
left for the future dwelling. Accompanied by two worthy matrons, who 
had to act as personal guards, Pao Yu set out on the dreaded journey, 
but he went so slowly and unwillingly that he hardly progressed three 
inches with every step. At last, very hesitantly, he entered the parental 
pavilion. How unpleasant were those half-curious, half-mocking glances 
which met him as he walked through the rows of servants in front of the 
entrance. A maid named Golden Bangle was actually so impudent as to 
pluck his sleeve as he passed by and whisper: "Now, what about it? 
Would you not like to lick the rouge from my lips? It is quite fresh 
and has a perfume." 

'Whereupon an older maid named Bright Cloud gave her a push and 
said reprovingly: "Ill-mannered creature! You see that he is not in a 
mood for such jests just now! Be off!" 

Inside, Pao Yu found his father and mother sitting opposite each 
other on the divan engaged in conversation. The three Spring girls, 
and the younger brother Chia Huan, the son of a secondary wife of his 
father, were sitting at their feet on low stools. The younger relations, 
Taste of Spring, Grief of Spring, and Chia Huan, stood up as Pao Yu 
entered. Mr. Cheng scrutinized the newcomer sharply, then his glance 
v.-andered over to the other son, and he compared them. How favorably 
Pao Yu's prepossessing, cultivated appearance compared with the thick- 
set, coarse appearance of the bastard! Mr. Cheng went on to reflect that 
his hair was already beginning to turn gray, and that he could scarcely 
hope to have another and better offspring than Pao Yu. Nine-tenths of 
the aversion which he usually felt towards Pao Yu vanished as a result 
of this silent reflection, and he sounded more gentle than usual when 
he said: "Her Imperial Highness has deigned to give orders that you 
are to continue your studies in future, in the company of your sisters 
and cousins, in the Park of Delightful Vision. But she desires you to 
pull yourself together and study seriously instead of loafing around. So 
now, comply with this order and be on your guard!" 

Pao Yu managed to murmur a hurried shih yes; there followed a 
short conversation between mother and son concerning his health, then 
a gruff "Why is that creature, that plague of my life, still standing 
there?" scared him quickly outside the door. Now looking happy, he 
ran nimbly through the lines of servants in the anteroom, cheekily 
sticking out his tongue at the maid Golden Bangle as he passed. 

Chia Cheng fixed the twenty -second of the month as the most suitable 
day for the move. Meantime the various buildings which had been as- 
signed as dwellings had been put in habitable order. Pao Yu and Black 
Jade managed to arrange for their quarters to be quite near one an- 

172 



other. They each lived on their own, and besides the maids whom they 
had had up to now each had two elderly chaperons to supervise them 
and four maids for the rough work of the house. 

Thus, on the twenty-second of the month, life and youth entered the 
hitherto desolate park, and the colorful flower beds. and the willow 
leaves waving in the zephyr breezes could no longer be sad and com- 
plain of loneliness. The change of dwelling seemed to alter Pao Yu's 
whole personality. His dejection vanished and gave place to merry 
spirits. From now on he passed his days with the girls, reading and 
writing, strumming the lute or playing chess, painting or reciting verse, 
while the girls embroidered their phoenix patterns industriously, 
plucked flowers and identified plants, amused themselves playing dice 
and other drawing-room games, and sang songs in their gentle voices. 
He was completely happy and had never before been in such a good 
mood for writing poetry. Many of his verses and stanzas, though not 
perhaps showing extraordinary talent, but replete with feeling and keen 
observation of nature, as, for instance, his "Songs of the Four Seasons," 
found their way to the public. For there was no lack of flatterers and 
spongers eager to win his favor, who felt obliged to noise abroad in the 
streets and market places the fame of the distinguished fourteen-year- 
old boy poet of the Yungkuo palace, and to display copies of his 
poems. It became the fashion among the gay young set to decorate fans 
and walls of rooms with the latest soulful outpourings from the brush 
of the celebrated Pao Yu; it was considered intellectual to recite his 
latest poems at social functions; people competed fiercely to obtain a 
few lines written by his own hand, whether verse, or maxims, or even 
just short mottoes. Pao Yu felt very important and had his hands full 
satisfying all the claims made on him from outside. 

Who would have thought that in spite of everything his 'old restless- 
ness would be stirred up again so soon? One day the splendors of the 
park, which had charmed him so much in the beginning, began to bore 
him. He found fault with this and criticized that, and felt annoyed and 
dissatisfied. Also, the society of his companions did not satisfy him; 
their merry, boisterous playing, their ingenuous, frivolous, girlish ways 
left him cold. He longed for new diversions, stronger impressions. The 
f 9 ol! 

His valet Ming Yen had been trying in vain for a long time to banish 
his ill-humor with various suggestions and distractions, but at last he 
got a new idea which succeeded. One day, after a walk through the 
booksellers' lane, he took home to his master a whole stack of unknown 
light literature, all novels and romances both old and modern, obscene 
love stories and tales of the adventures of famous courtesans and the 
like. 

173 



Pao Yu had never before seen such books. When he peeped into 
them now he became as if intoxicated, and as happy as if they were a 
valuable find. And the fact that ha might only read these books secretly, 
as Ming Yen impressed upon him, made them doubly fascinating. He 
hid them as well as he could in his bed and in other safe places, and 
from now on he spent his time, whenever he was alone and undisturbed, 
eagerly delving into them. 

One day, about the middle of the third month, he sauntered along 
after breakfast to the bridge leading to the Weir of Penetrating Per- 
fumes, carrying the Hsi Hsiang Chi, "Play of the Western Pavilion," 
in his hand, and sat down to read on a rock under blossoming peach 
trees at the edge of the pond. As he was sitting there and had just come 
to a place in the book which described "falling red, gathered up in 
heaps," a sudden gust of wind blew through the branches and caused 
a heavy rain of petals to ripple down on him and his book. He was cov- 
ered all over with the reddish petals and had to shake himself to get rid 
of the delicate burden. So lovely and charming did these petals seem to 
him that he would have been sorry to tread on them with his feet. 
Therefore, he gathered up with both hands the rosy piles which lay 
round about his seat and carried them to the near-by bank, there to 
shake them over the surface of the water. And each time that he had 
shaken out two handfuls in this way, he remained for a while on the 
bank looking after the flower petals thoughtfully, as they danced about 
on the waves and were gently drawn by the current towards the weir. 

Just as he was bending down to gather together another heap of 
petals, he heard a girl's voice behind him asking: "What are you do- 
ing here?" 

He turned around. There he saw Black Jade standing in front of 
him. She was carrying a spade over her shoulder, on the handle of 
which hung a flower carrier made of light gauze; in her left hand she 
had a broom. 

"It's good that you have come! You can help me to sweep up these 
flower petals and throw them into the water. I have already thrown in 
quite a lot," he said. 

"You should not do that! Here the water is tolerably clean, but later 
on when the petals have drifted farther along with the current, and float 
into other estates, they will come in contact with all kinds of dirt and 
refuse. It would be a pity for the lovely, pure petals to become soiled. 
No, it is better if we take them to the petal grave which I have just dug 
behind that hill. I shall sweep them up. You stuff them into the bag and 
then we will carry them to the grave together. In the course of time they 
will turn into good garden soil. Is not that nicer and cleaner than 
throwing them into the water?" 

174 



Pao Yu had to admit that she was right. 

"Wait a moment until I put my book away; then we will set to work 
at once." 

"What book have you got?" she asked. 

"Nothing special; a commentary on The Great Philosophy' of Mas- 
ter Confucius," he replied quickly, trying to hide the book from her 
sight. 

"Show it at once, you rogue!" 

"For all I care you may see it, Mel mei, but please be so kind as not 
to say a word about it to other people. Anyway, it is quite a splendid 
book; the style is wonderful. You will not be able to give a thought to 
sleeping or eating if you read it. Here." 

Black Jade laid down her garden implements and took the book. She 
sat down on the rock and began to read, and the more she read the 
more she was fascinated by the book, and she did not stop reading un- 
til she had skimmed through all its sixteen chapters in one go. Content 
and style enchanted her equally, and when she had finished she seemed 
still to taste in her mouth, as it were, the sweetness she had enjoyed; 
and, lost in thought, she recited to herself this and that passage which 
had remained impressed on her memory. 

"Well, how did you like it?" he asked, smiling. 

"It is really fascinating." 

"Yes, isn't it? And does it not apply most remarkably to the two of 
us? I am the hero full of faults and weaknesses, and you you are the 
heroine whose beauty causes the downfall of cities and countries," he 
quoted jokingly. 

His remark made Black Jade flush a sudden deep crimson right up to 
her ears. She raised her brows and her dilated pupils flashed with anger 
as she hissed: "What impertinence! I must object to your connecting 
those common expressions and those improper passages with me! It is 
an insult! But just wait, I shall tell your parents!" 

At the word "insult" fine little red veins became visible around her 
pupils. Now she turned away quickly and ran off. He ran after her dis- 
mayed and held her firmly. 

"Dearest Mei mei, I beg your pardon a thousand ten thousand 
times!" he pleaded. "I see that I have been talking nonsense, but I did 
not mean to insult you. If I did. may I be drowned in a deep pond and 
may a mangy tortoise eat me, and may I myself be turned into a big 
tortoise, and in some future time when you, the wife of a mandarin of 
first rank, have died of old age, may I for all time carry the socket of 
the pillars of your grave on my back!" 

Black Jade could not help bursting out laughing on hearing this long, 
comical oath. She was soon appeased again. Casting a roguish glance 

175 



at him, she said: "Besides, I could reply to you in the same tone if I 
wished to, and by way of example speak of a certain someone who re- 
sembles the famous lance with the silvered wax point." 

"If you say such things I also will go and tell tales on you!" he 
threatened, jokingly. 

"I only wanted to show you that I can read just as quickly as you 
can, and can remember what I read just as easily as you can. It is noth- 
ing to me to read ten lines of writing with one single glance. Or do you 
doubt that?" 

"Oh, indeed I believe it. But now we will be sensible again and bury 
our poor petals." 

They set to work again, and swept up and heaped the fallen petals 
and carried them to the petal grave behind the hill. Meantime the maid 
Pearl appeared. She had been sent by the Princess Ancestress to fetch 
Pao Yu. Prince Shieh was not well and Pao Yu was to go to him 
straight away and wish him a speedy recovery, as was proper. The 
Spring girls had already visited the sickbed. Pao Yu therefore bade 
farewell to Black'Jade and left the park accompanied by Pearl. 

Deep in thought, Black Jade sauntered slowly back to her house. As 
she was passing by the wall of the Pear Garden she heard from within 
the gentle sounds of flute playing and charming singing. The music 
came from the twelve dancing girls from Suchow, who had their quar- 
ters in the Pear Garden and were just now practicing a new theater 
piece. Black Jade was not paying particular attention to the singing, but 
two lines of one of the songs caught her ear so distinctly that she was 
able to understand every word, it was about a wonderfully beautiful 
purple flower, which blooms gloriously, only to be plucked, to wither, 
and .to end miserably in some refuse pit. 

Black Jade was touched to the core by the melancholy expressed in 
these two lines. Involuntarily she slackened her pace and listened hard 
in an effort to follow the rest, of the text. And she could not but si- 
lently agree with the sentiments of the next two lines, which spoke of the 
transience of exterior splendor and good living when inner happiness 
was destroyed. And she had to sigh, thinking of the superficiality of 
human beings, who go to the theater only to be entertained and do not 
think at all of looking into themselves and applying to their own lives 
the truths which they hear on the stage. While still tunk in meditation, 
she heard the words: 

"As a flower in spring, beauty fades, 
As a fleeting wave, youth passes." 

She felt deeply moved and frightened. Her head became dizzy, her 
feet refused to move, she staggered as if she were drunk, and had to sit 

176 



down on a near-by rock. There she sat, murmuring to herself again and 
again the words she had just heard: 

"As a flower in spring, beauty fades, 
As a fleeting wave, youth passes." 

At the same time it occurred to her that in the past she had read in 
old stories and also today in the "Play of the Western Pavilion" similar 
words about falling petals and running waters, passing spring and last- 
ing sorrow. A feeling of infinite anguish and sadness stole upon her, her 
heart shrank, tears dropped frdm her eyes. She would have so loved to 
speak to someone, to let herself be comforted. Suddenly she felt a light 
tap on, her shoulder. She turned around. A young girl was standing be- 
fore her. You will learn from the next chapter who this girl was. 



CHAPTER 19 

Ni the usurer proves impulsively generous when drunk. A lovelorn maid 
gets queer ideas about a lost handkerchief. 

WHEN BLACK JADE TURNLD ROUND THERE .WAS LOTUS, THE STOLEN 
slave girl and daughter of Shih Ying, standing before her. 

"Stupid creature to frighten me so!" said Black Jade, angrily. "What 
are you looking for here?" 

"I am looking for my young mistress, Miss Precious Clasp, but I can- 
not find her anywhere. And your maid Cuckoo has been inquiring for 
you. Madame Cheng has sent you a package of tea from the new 
hai vest. Would you please come and receive the gift." 

Black Jade set out hand in hand with Lotus towards her pavilion. 
She accepted the tea from the new harvest, and of the best quality, 
which her Aunt Cheng had just sent her and kept Lotus with her for a 
while. She found her company pleasant in her present state of mind. 
She discussed with her the excellence of this tapestry and the charm of 
that piece of embroidery, and did not let her go until they had played 
a game of chess and read some passages from a book together. But let 
us now leave those two alone for a while and talk of Pao Yu. 

When he got back to his dwelling with Pearl he found the maid 
Mandarin Duck lying on his divan examining a piece of embroidc y 
which Pearl had begun. 

"Where have you been hiding?" she asked Pao Yu when he entered. 
"The old Tai tai sent over for you quite a long time ago. You are to 
hurry across and visit your sick uncle. Quick! Change your clothes." 

While the maid Pearl went into the next room to fetch his visiting 
clothes, he sat on the edge of the divan and pushed his slippers off with 

177 



his toes. Then he turned round and, taking advantage of Pearl's ab- 
sence, thoroughly inspected Mandarin Duck, who waa lying behind 
him. She was Tying with her face towards the wall and was so absorbed 
in the embroidery that she no longer noticed him. He found her most 
bewitching, in her little bright red silk jacket over the green bodice and 
the white satin sash which encircled her slender waist. And he could 
not resist bending over her neck eagerly to sniff the fragrance which 
emanated from her, and to stroke her back playfully. 

"Dear Mei mei, do let me lick a little of the pink stuff from your 
lips," he whispered, nestling close up to her and encircling her with his 
arm and leg. 

"Come and look, Pearl!" cried the girl, laughing loudly as she tried 
to disengage herself from him. "You have been with hyn goodness 
knows how long, and you have not yet taught him to behave." 

Pearl hurried along with a bundle of clothes in her arms. With one 
glance she grasped the situation. 

"I see that all my good teaching is in vain," she said, turning to Pao 
Yu. "If that ever happens again I will leave at once." 

Pao Yu kept a rather shamefaced silence, changed his clothes, and 
went off to his grandmother accompanied by two maids. In the fore- 
court of her pavilion he found his servants already waiting with his 
saddled horse, to take him to Prince Shieh. As he was mounting his 
horse while at the same time exchanging a few words with Cousin Chia 
Lien, who had just come back from a ride, he heard a young man call- 
ing up to him from the side: "Tsing an, Uncle!" 

Pao Yu looked down from the saddle. The young man might have 
been eighteen or nineteen years old. He was slender and well built, his 
finely formed face seemed somehow familiar, but Pao Yu could not 
recall his name or who his family were. 

"Why on earth are you staring at him like that? Do you not know 
him? He is our nephew Little Yun,. son of our sister-in-law Five," 
Cousin Lien informed him, laughing. 

"Oh, of course! I remember him now. And the boy behaves as if he 
were my son!" 

"Don't be funny! He is four or five years older than you are," 
laughed Cousin Lien. 

"Hello, how old are you, then?" asked Pao Yu condescendingly. 
"Eighteen," replied Little Yun smiling and added with quick wit: 
"No doubt my worthy uncle is thinking of the proverb of the grand- 
parents who have kept themselves until old age as young as the child in 
the cradle and of the grandchildren who are old before their years. 
Now, even if I surpass you somewhat in years, that does not prevent 
your surpassing me in worth as the sun surpasses the mountain, and 

178 



since my real father is dead, \ would deem myself most happy if you 
would do me the honof of making me your adopted son." 

"At the moment I have no time for you, but come and visit me to- 
morrow and we shall have a cup of tea and a good chat," said Pao Yu, 
flattered. "I shall show you the park. But keep clear of the girls." 

And with a salute, he rode off, followed by the troop of servants, to 
the dwelling of Prince Shieh. His attention pleased the Prince, who 
after a brief greeting sent him off to the Princess. It turned out that 
Prince Shieh's indisposition was not very serious; he had only caught 
a slight cold. The Princess kept Pao Yu to dinner, and ! found hir 
cousins there also, and so he returned to the Park of Delightful Vision 
in their company. But let us return now to Little Yun. 

Little Yun belonged to a poor branch of the Chia clan, and being the 
only son of a widow, he was intent upon finding occupation and a liveli- 
hood by rendering occasional small services to his rich and fashionable 
relatives. His visit to the Yungkuo palace today had this end in view. 

"Is there anything for me to do?" he asked his uncle Lien when Pao 
Yu had ridden away. 

"I had something in view for you recently, but unfortunately my 
wife has meantime given this worjc to Chia Lin, who also needed it 
urgently. However, there will soon be various jobs in the garden to do, 
and my wife* has promised me that she will give you the task of super- 
intending them. I cannot do anything for you today, but come round 
again in the morning immediately after the roll call and you will have 
an opportunity of presenting your petition to my wife in person. But 
now excuse me; I have an appointment." 

Little Yun thanked him and went off. On the way he said to himself 
that it would do his prospects good if he could win the favor of the 
almighty Madame Phoenix by means of some little attention. But where 
was he to get money for a gift? He decided to look up his maternal 
uncle, the spice and provision dealer Pu, and to extract something from 
him. 

"I need your assistance, dear Uncle," he said to him-. "Do please let 
me have four ounces of camphor and four ounces of musk on credit. I 
will pay you promptly at the Mid-Harvest Festival." 

Uncle Pu put on a sour grin. "I am sorry," he said, "that I cannot 
enter into such credit transactions. Only a short time ago one of my 
employees abused my good nature and took goods on credit from the 
business and of course did not keep his promise. The result was that 
my partners and I had to cover the loss out of our own pockets. Since 
then we have agreed together, under pain of a fine of twenty taels, 
never again to enter into similar private credit transactions. I have to 
keep strictly to this. Moreover, the stock of camphor and musk in my 

179 



modest shop is quite small, and I could not satisfy your requirements 
completely even if you were to pay cash. You had therefore better look 
around elsewhere. Besides, it is a well-known fact that money transac- 
tions spoil friendship. You are a thoughtless young fellow and none too 
particular about what is right and wrong. You would take your debt 
lightly, you would forget to pay, I would have to keep dunning you for it, 
and you would take that ill of me. My advice to you is this: Help your- 
self and save money in good time, so that you will not have to borrow 
at all and your uncle will be pleased with you ! " 

"You are perfectly right, dear Uncle," replied Little Yun, controlling 
his feelings with difficulty. "But you must take into account that I lost 
my father while I was still a child, and for that reason have not had the 
right instruction and upbringing. My mother has always said how lucky 
we were in at least having your support and help, most-honored Uncle. 
That is why I thought I could count upon your help. Moreover, I was 
not aware that I had frivolously squandered away any inherited prop- 
erty, whether a house or a piece of land. Even the best housewife can- 
not cook rice soup if there is no rice to hand. How, then, could I have 
put anything aside up to the present when I had not got an income? 
However, you may count yourself lucky that I do not importune you 
two or three times a day with this and that request, as many another 
in my position would do." 

"My dear boy, I am in a pretty bad way myself; otherwise I would 
most willingly give you a hand. But why do you not turn to your rich 
paternal relations? See that you fill your pockets as full as you can in 
the Yungkuo palace behind the backs of the gentlemen of the house. Or 
why not try to ingratiate yourself with their majordomo by dint of flat- 
tery, and engage in some rewarding enterprise that will bring in a good 
commission?" 

Little Yun remained silent and turned to go. 

"Why are you in such a hurry? You can surely stay for a bite," said 
the avaricious uncle, just for form's sake. But at the same moment the 
scolding voice of his wife became audible. "Are you hovering up in 
the clouds again?" she asked. "I have Jbarely enough food for ourselves 
in the larder, and there you are, playing the splendid host!" 

"If that's so, buy some more provisions for our guest!" he replied, 
whereupon the ill-tempered female voice was heard once more: "Go 
over to neighbor Wang and ask her could she help us out with twenty or 
thirty pence worth of rice; I would pay it back tomorrow," she ordered 
her daughter. 

But Little Yun had had enough of this miserable kind of hospitality, 
and he contrived to get away, and so he set out on his nocturnal journey 
home in depressed spirits. As he walked along deeply sunk in his 

180 



thoughts, he stumbled absent-mindedly against a drunken man who 
had come reeling towards him. The drunkard grabbed him by the arm 
and shouted: "Hi, have you no eyes in your head?" 

The voice seemed familiar to Little Yun, and right enough it was his 
neighbor Ni, the well-known usurer and gambler, drunkard and rowdy. 

"Let me go, old friend! It is I, your neighbor, Little Yun," he de- 
clared, laughing. 

The drunken man scrutinized him intently out of glazed eyes. At last 
he recognized him. He let him free, murmuring a few words of excuse. 

"Where are you going, little friend?" he asked. 

"Ah, don't ask me. I'm in a bad humor. One's dear fellow beings are 
so annoying!" 

"Speak your mind with confidence! Who has annoyed you? I, the 
drunkard Ni, stand up for my friends in the whole neighborhood. Any- 
one who harms one of them will have to reckon with me. I'll pull down 
his shop and chase his wife and children out on the street!" 

Little Yun told him of his futile begging visit to his uncle. 

"The wretch! If he did not happen to be your relative, I would make 
him pay dearly for that!" stormed neighbor Ni indignantly. "But don't 
worry. I have some small change with me by chance, and I will lend 
you a few taels, naturally without interest, as is right and proper be- 
tween good neighbors." 

He put his hand in his belt pocket. 

"Here are fifteen taels. I hope they are enough." 

"You are a good fellow, and I would not like to offend you by refus- 
ing your friendly offer; so I accept it with thanks. As soon as I get 
home I shall write you a receipt." 

"What nonsense! If you come to me with a receipt I won't give you 
a copper." 

"As you wish, then. Many thanks." 

"That's good. And now I must be getting along, as I have another 
business call to make; otherwise I would ask you to have a drink. And 
now, when you go home, would you be good enough to call at my house 
and tell my people that I shall not be home tonight, and that if they 
want anything they must send for me in the morning. They will find me 
at the horse dealer Wang's." 

And he reeled on. But Little Yun was delighted with his unexpected 
good fortune, and his only fear was that as soon as his benefactor be- 
came sober he would repent the noble impulse which had overcome 
him when drunk, and would demand back the sum lent with the addition 
of a usurious interest. But he would find it easy enough to pay even 
usurious interest if only Madame Phoenix would give him the hoped- 
for order. 

181 



Very early the next morning he sought out^a grocery store in the high 
street outside the South Gate and bought a package of camphor and a 
package of musk. Then, well groomed and dressed in his best clothes, 
he went to the Yungkuo palace. There he was told that Madame Phoe- 
nix was just about to go to the Princess Ancestress. Her husband was 
not at home either. He waited in the forecourt, which several servants 
were busily sweeping and cleaning with enormous brooms. Just at that 
moment the wife of the majordomo Chou called out: 

"Clear the way. Put by your brooms! The mistress is coming!" 

Immediately afterwards Madame Phoenix appeared, surrounded by 
a swarm of serving matrons and waiting maids. Little Yun stepped up 
a bit closer and paid her reverence with a deep bow. She did not deign 
to look at him, but continued to walk straight on, merely inquiring 
casually how his mother was and why she never came to see her. 

"She has not been quite herself these days, but she is very often with 
you in her thoughts, and is longing to see you," replied Little Yun 
glibly. He knew that Madame Phoenix was extremely amenable to 
flatteries. 

"Come, come! Don't be too gushing!" she remarked with a smile, 
slowing down her pace a little. "I am pretty sure she would not have 
thought of me if I did not happen to mention her." 

"Oh, how would I dare to tell lies in your presence, revered Aunt? 
Only yesterday my mother spoke of you. In spite of your delicate 
health, she said, you had taken the whole burden of the great house- 
hold upon your shoulders, and it is only thanks to your incomparable 
energy that everything runs as if on well-oiled wheels in the western 
palace. You are simply indispensable and irreplaceable, she thinks." 

Madame Phoenix stood still. A benign smile spread over her face. 

"And what was your reason for discussing me with your mother be- 
hind my back?" she asked, graciously. 

"Oh, I had a very sound reason. A good friend of mine, a wealthy 
dealer in spices, has recently obtained by purchase the post of subpre- 
fect in a district of the province of Yunnan. Before setting out with his 
family to take up his position he sold out his stock and closed down his 
shop here. When he did this he gave many valuable lots of goods as 
gifts to his close friends and acquaintances. He remembered me too and 
gave me a parcel of camphor and musk. I consulted my mother as to 
the best use I could make of his gift. It seemed to us a pity to sell these 
valuable drugs below their value, and there did not seem anyone among 
our close friends worthy of giving them to. Then we remembered that 
you, esteemed Aunt, always need a great deal of camphor and musk for 
incense, and we thought that, especially in view of the proximity of the 

182 



Boat Festival of the Dragon, you would not disdain to accept this little 
parcel from us as a small token of our true devotion to you." 

And with a deep bow he handed her a beautiful little pinewood box 
in which a small package of camphor and another of musk were neatly 
packed. His gift was really very welcome to Madame Phoenix, for she 
could not have anything like enough incense materials in her household 
stores for the approaching Boat Festival of the Dragon. With a gra- 
cious inclination of the head she indicated that one of her retinue should 
receive the box on her behalf. 

"Thank you for your attention, dear Nephew," she said. "I see that 
my husband is not mistaken in saying that you possess understanding 
and tact, and in speaking favorably of you in other respects too." 

"Oh, does he really speak of me sometimes?" 

Madame Phoenix was on the point of telling him that she had already 
decided, at the instance of her husband, to give him the task of super- 
vising the intended garden work. But then she said to herself that if she 
expressed her approval of his appointment so promptly he would prob- 
ably imagine that her favor could be bought with trifling gifts such as a 
few ounces of camphor and musk, and would think the less of her for 
it. She therefore refrained from replying to his question and went 
proudly on her way. 

There was nothing for Little Yun to do but return home still in un- 
certainty; in the afternoon, however, he set out again for the Yungkuo 
palace to accept the invitation given him by Pao Yu the previous day. 
In front of the library, not far from the apartments of the Princess An- 
cestress, he met Pao Yu's valet, Ming Yen. 

"Is your master not coming over from the Park at all today?" he 
asked. 

"I do not know, but I shall go and announce you." 

Little Yun passed the long time of waiting looking at the pictures 
and curios in the library. While he was absorbed in gazing at them, he 
heard a girl's gentle voice calling for one Ko ko. He went out and 
caught sight of a pretty little maid of about fifteen or sixteen. When she 
saw him she turned away hurriedly and ran off. As it happened, Ming 
Yen was just at that moment coming back. He went up to her and 
asked her whether she had seen her master, Pao Yu. "You see, she 
belongs to his staff," he explained to Little Yun, who had come run- 
ning up to him. "I myself have been unable to find him." 

"Dear girl, be so good as to announce to your master that his nephew, 
Little Yun, is here," he asked the little girl. This time she did not run 
away. Hearing that the stranger belonged to the family had reassured 
her to some extent, but she seemed still not quite to trust him. 

"Come again tomorrow, because I shall hardly have a chance of 

183 



speaking to my master before this evening, and you surely would not 
wish to wait until then," she said, briefly and definitely, with the man- 
ner of one fully convinced of the importance of her own person. And 
with this she dismissed him. Little Yun could not help casting a few 
furtive glances at her as he went away. 

When he returned to the Yungkuo palace early the next day he had 
the good fortune to meet Madame Phoenix as soon as he arrived. She 
had just got into her carriage to take an outing. When she saw Little 
Yun she had him called over to her carriage door. 

"Look here, my boy, you are being a bit cheeky with me, I think," 
she said, smiling out the carnage window. "Your gift of yesterday was 
only an excuse, of course. My husband has meantime told me what you 
want." 

"Oh, has he? How awkward! Yes, that is quite right; I would like 
very much ... I am only sorry that I did not come straight to you in 
person in the beginning, dear Aunt. If I had done so, the matter would 
have been settled long ago. But one does not realize that Uncle Lien 
really has so little say in things." 

"So that's the way, is it? It was only after having been unlucky with 
him that you wanted to try it with me yesterday?" 

"You do me an injustice, dear Aunt. I regarded it as my duty as a 
nephew not to go over the head of my uncle. But now that I know how 
matters stand, I shall apply only to you in future. And will you be so 
good as to lend me a kindly ear now?" 

"Oh, now, straight away? You should have opened your mouth 
sooner. There are all sorts of trees to be planted and flower beds to be 
laid out in the park. If you had only said a timely word to me, I would 
perhaps have entrusted you with the matter." 

"Do please do so even yet!" 

"That can hardly be managed now. But have patience until next New 
Year i'estival, when we shall have to buy fireworks. I may perhaps con- 
sider you then." 

"Dear, dear Aunt. Do please try me out right away instead. You may 
depend upon me to acquit myself well. You will be so pleased with me 
that you will entrust me with the New Year Festival order straight 
away." 

"My word! The boy does know how to look ahead! Well, you may 
thank your uncle for having put in a word for you. I would not have 
bothered about you of myself. So now, to come to the point: Come back 
again today after breakfast. Call at the Estate Cashier's office, and see 
that you get started with the garden \\ork the day after tomorrow!" 
And giving a sign to the coachman, she drove off. 

Little Yun was overjoyed. He hoped to fill in the time of waiting until 

184 



after breakfast by visiting Pao Yu. But Pao Yu was spending the whole 
of today in the house of his new friend, the Prince of the Northern 
Quietness. 

Punctually at eleven o'clock Little Yun went to the Estate Cashier's 
Office, armed with the letter of authority which Madame Phoenix had 
sent to him in the meantime, and there he was handed the handsome 
sum of two hundred taels. He then hurried home and had a good time 
for the whole day with his mother. The next morning he settled his ac- 
count with his neighbor Ni, then went to the nursery garden of Fang 
Chun outside the Western Gate and bought flower plants and trees to 
the value of fifty taels. But let us leave him for the time being to his 
new occupation and return to Pao Yu. 

When he had made an appointment the day before yesterday with 
Little Yun, this was only one of those polite but empty compliments 
which upper-class people are in the habit of expressing without a mo- 
ment's thought to people of lower social station. He had of course for- 
gotten the appointment meantime. When he returned home towards 
evening from his visit to the Prince of the Northern Quietness he felt 
that he would like a bath. It happened by chance that he was sitting 
quite alor.e in his room for a long time, because the maid Pearl had 
accepted an invitation from Precious Clasp, the maid Musk was ill in 
bed, and two other maids had gone off to fetch hot bath water. Thus it 
happened that now when he called two or three times for tea, only the 
two elderly matrons who had been assigned to him as chaperons an- 
swered his call. 

"That is all right. You may go," he said, shooing them straight out 
again with a wave of the hand. He would prefer to get the tea himself, 
he said. So he went into the kitchen and pottered around the hearth, 
and was just about to pour a pot of boiling water into the teapot when 
he heard someone behind him saying: "You will burn your hand. 
Please let me do it!" 

At the same moment a pretty young thing came to his side, took the 
pot of hot water from him, filled the teapot, and took the tea things 
into his room. As he sipped ' is tea he eyed the young maid attentively. 
He had not noticed her at all before. What lovely curly hair she had, 
and what a slim, delicate little face. 

"Do you belong to my staff loo?" he asked. 

"Yes." 

"How is it, then, that I have never seen you before?" 

"There are so many of us, it would be hard for you to know each one. 
Besides, I am still new, and I have never had any personal services to 
do for you, such as making your tea." 

"Why not?" 

185 



"Because the others, the older ones, who have been longer with you, 
keep those services for themselves." 

"That is a pity, for one cannot see you at all then." 

"Not unless there is a special order, such as the one on which I came 
here just now. A certain Mr. Yun asked for you yesterday afternoon. I 
told him to come back today as you had had no midday sleep yesterday 
and were tired. Now, today you were with the Prince of .the Northern 
Quietness, and so Mr. Yun has missed you a second time." 

"Oh, indeed, so he was here?" 

He would have liked to continue the conversation with the dainty 
little creature, but she suddenly darted off because two older waiting 
maids were coming along laughing and chatting. They were carrying a 
splashing tub of bath water. With their free hands they were holding up 
the edges of their skirts, which had been wetted by the splashes of wa- 
ter. Little Siao Hung ran towards them, amiably anxious to help them 
carry the tub. When the two older maids reached the room they ob- 
served to their surprise and annoyance that Pao Yu was all alone. After 
they had prepared the bath for him they took the little new maid to 
task. "What were you doing with him just now when we came?" they 
asked her suspiciously. 

"Nothing at all. I was looking for my handkerchief, which I had lost. 
He called for tea and as no one else was there to serve him, I gave him 
his tea. That's all." 

"Don't try to hoodwink us, you cheeky creature!" cried the elder 
girl angrily, spitting in the young one's face. "We can see now why 
you did not run to fetch the bath water just now, as was your duty, but 
left it to us two to go instead of you. Your excuse that you hadn't time 
was just invention and deceit. You wanted to get rid of us so that you 
would be alone with the young master. But just look in the glass and 
see if you art fit to show yourself in his presence." 

"I'll tell Pearl tomorrow how you pushed yourself forward," the sec- 
ond one put in. "The next thing will be that you will want to serve the 
young master alone. We others have become unnecessary, isn't that 
so?" 

After the quarrel had been going on this way for a while, a serving 
matron arrived with a message from Madame Phoenix to the effect that 
the gardeners would be coming into the park tomorrow and that the 
waiting maids must keep modestly in the background and not <un 
around out of curiosity and that they must not Show their underclothes 
openly on the washing line before the eyes of the strange men. More- 
over, all the part of the park which was to be planted would be screened^ 
off. 

186 



"Who is supervising the work?" the two elder waiting maids wanted 
to know. 

"One Mr. Yun," replied the chambermaid. The name was quite new 
to them. But little Siao Hung remembered very well that the nice young 
man who had spoken to her yesterday in front of the library door, and 
had then turned round so noticeably to look after her, was called Yun. 
Would she really see him again, she wondered. For the little creature 
was ambitious and wanted to rise in the world. For a long time past she 
had been hoping to he noticed by Pao Yu, but her elder colleagues al- 
ways knew how to keep her in the background. And after being caught 
out today, the very first time she had been alone with Pao Yu, she would 
have to suffer more envy and more slights than ever from now on. But 
her forlornness was changed in the twinkling of an eye into joyous an- 
ticipation when she heard the old serving matron utter the name Yun, 
and for the whole day she could not stop thinking of her meeting of 
yesterday with the nice young man. Then, that night, when she was 
alone in her room and lay down to sleep, the thought of him did not 
leave her even in her sleep. Suddenly she seemed to hear a voice outside 
her bedroom window saying: "I have found your handkerchief, Siao 
Hung." 

She got up and went to the door. There was the young man of yes- 
terday standing before her. 

"Where did you find it?" she asked, shyly. 

"Come with me. I will show you the place," he answered, drawing 
her to him and clasping her in his arms. She disengaged herself and 
tr^ed to run back to her room, but stumbled over a step on the way. 
This awoke her. What a pity! She had only been dreaming. 



CHAPTER 20 

A sorcerer bewitches the cousins. The marvellous power of the magic 
stone brings about their recovery. 

AFTER AN UNEASY SLEEP SIAO HUNG GOT UP VERY EARLY THE NEXT 
day, to go about her work. She was far too excited by her beautiful 
dream to be able to give the usual care to her toilet. She barely dipped 
her fingers quickly in the washbasin, carelessly pinned up her long 
braids in front of the mirror, and fixed a hand towel as apron into the 
belt of her skirt. Then, with a sigh she took her broom and was once 
more an ordinary housemaid. 

Pao Yu had also kept in his heart the memory of his first meeting of 
yesterday with the pretty little new maid. He would have liked to call 

188 



her to do him this or that service, but, in the first place, he was afraid 
of arousing the jealousy of the older maids, and in the second place, he 
did not even know the little one's name. He got out of bed very early in 
the morning feeling in a bad humor, went to the window, and remained 
leaning out for a while watching the maids sweeping the courtyard. 
How nicely the vain creatures had decked themselves out! There was 
not one of them who had not put on powder and rouge and stuck flow- 
ers coquettishly in her hair. Unfortunately, he could not discover the 
little new one of yesterday among them, but he definitely wanted to see 
her again. He slipped quickly, into his clothes and went out into the 
park. He pretended' to have come out to look at the flowers, but in 
reality he was watching out furtively to the east and the west for little 
Siao Hung. At last he discovered her leaning on the parapet of a pleas- 
ure gallery, hidden under plum blossoms and behind begonia branches, 
sunk in thought. He went up to her and was just about to speak to her 
when an older maid came along and told him that it was time to wash. 
It was really a pity to be disturbed! So he had to leave the little one 
standing there without having exchanged a word with her, and turn 
back to the house. 

Shortly after he had gone Pearl sent Siao Hung to Black Jade's pa- 
vilion. A flower vase had been broken, and she wanted to get the loan 
of another one from Black Jade. As Siao Hung crossed over the Bridge 
of Blue-Green Foam on her way there, she noticed that the adjacent 
hilly part of the park was fenced in and shut off by screens. This was 
the part where trees and shrubs were to be planted today. Right enough, 
she saw people at work everywhere digging and planting. And there, at 
the edge of the drive, she caught sight of Little Yun seated, giving or- 
ders. She felt inclined to go over to him, but then her self-confidence 
failed her, and she stole along by a roundabout way to Black Jade's pa- 
vilion. As soon as she had done her errafid she slipped into her room 
and threw herself dejectedly onto the couch. The other maids noticed 
her depressed appearance, but they thought she was not feeling well, 
and took no further notice of her. 

On the following day the bastard Chia Huan had just returned from 
the family school and was in Madame Cheng's sitting room busily copy- 
ing out the Diamond Sutra for her. She wanted a nice legible copy for 
learning by heart. The bastard felt very important on account of this 
commission, and was giving orders all around. One maid was to trim 
and light the wax candle for him, another was to bring him tea, he 
rebuked a third because she stood in his light, and so it went on inces- 
santly. As he was unpopular with the staff, who had little respect for 
him, no one took any notice .of him except the maid Dawn, who brought 
him tea. 

189 



"Do not give so many orders! You are only making yourself still 
more unpopular!" she whispered to him, as she poured out his tea. He 
looked at her angrily. 

"I know! You are all for Pao Yu and have conspired against me!" he 
said sharply. 

Dawn showed her teeth and rapped his head with her fingers. "Nasty, 
snappish cur!" she scolded, and was about to begin a longer sermon 
when the arrival of Phoenix and Pao Yu prevented her from doing so. 
The two were coming from a birthday celebration in the house of 
Madame Cheng's elder brother, Marshal Wang Tzu Teng. Pao Yu's 
cheeks were red from drinking wine and he felt sleepy. While his 
mother was asking Madame Phoenix how the birthday celebrations had 
passed off, and about the guests and the theatrical performance, he let 
the maids take off his cap, overcoat, and shoes, then he nestled down on 
the divan beside his mother and leaned his head wearily on her breast. 
She tenderly stroked his cheeks and neck, and he in turn caressed her. 

"How hot you are!" she said. "You have certainly drunk too much 
again. Make yourself comfortable and stretch yourself out, so that you 
won't feel ill!" 

He followed her advice and stretched himself out behind her on the 
cushions. At the same time he called Dawn and asked her to massage 
him a bit. But Dawn did not want to and kept looking at the bastard -who 
was writing near by. Pao Yu took her by the hand and tried to draw her 
nearer to him. 

"Dear elder sister, do look after me a little bit too!" he begged. 

"Be quiet, or there will be a quarrel!" she whispered, parrying him 
and withdrawing her hand, for sbe had noticed the looks of hatred 
which the bastard was casting at tne spoiled favorite of the family. 
Actually, Chia Huan had observed, with growing resentment, how Pao 
Yu was once more claiming the general attention and putting him, the 
bastard, in the shade. He was devoured with envy and this inspired 
him to think of a malicious plan. With intentional awkwardness he 
tipped over the bowl into which the melting wax from the candle was 
flowing, in such a way that the hot wax splashed over Pao Yu's face. 
When the latter uttered a loud cry of pain they all rushed over to him 
and shone the lamps on his face. Then they saw to their horror that his 
face was covered with a trickling layer of hot liquid wax. Filled with 
consternation, Phoenix and the maids started to scrape down the wax 
and to wash the injured skin with tepid water. 

"Such a blockhead! And he's no longer a stupid small chick!" she 
scolded, casting a threatening sidelong glance at the bastard. "He does 
not yet even know how to manage lights! It just shows how badly his 
mother is bringing him up!" 

190 



Her remark was the cue for Madame Cheng to send for the bastard's 
mother, the secondary wife Chao, and to overwhelm her with violent re- 
proaches. She should kindly take more trouble with the upbringing of 
her spoiled offspring, otherwise she need not expect any further con- 
sideration and kindly treatment. The scolded woman swallowed her 
humiliation silently and went away, after having tried to help a little 
with the injured boy for form's sake. 

The left half of Pao Yu's face had been disfigured with ugly blisters. 
It was lucky that his eye was not injured. His mother was in the greatest 
consternation; she feared the reproaches of the Princess Ancestress. 
She had ointment smeared on him and sent him to bed. He himself be- 
haved bravely and generously. 

"It does not hurt much at all," he consoled her. "And when Grand- 
mother asks about it I will just say that I got burned through my own 
carelessness." 

"Then we others will have to bear reproaches for not having looked 
after you well enough. In any case, it is a tiresome affair," said Phoenix. 

Black Jade had not seen Pao Yu all this day. When she heard of his 
accident she visited him, though it was late evening. She got a great 
shock when she saw his disfigured face, which was covered all over 
with ointment. Knowing her high-strung nature, he quickly put his 
hand over the injured places and asked her to go away. But she wanted 
to know first if he was suffering pain, and she would not be dissuaded 
from sitting a while on his bed and showing her sisterly sympathy. The 
next day when he went to his grandmother he most generously took the 
blame for the accident upon himself. And as Phoenix had rightly 
guessed, the Ancestress vented all her displeasure on his mother and 
Phoenix and the maids, who thus had to suffer, though innocent, for 
the malice of the bastard. 

Mother Ma happened to pay a vioit the next day. She was well known 
as a sorceress and also as one who prayed professionally for the sick. 
When Pao Yu was born she was his godmother and enjoyed the honor 
of having him call her his adopted mother. When she saw Pao Yu's 
burns she described magic circles with her fingers over them, at the 
same time murmuring mysterious charms, further, she proposed to the 
Princess Ancestress that she should pray for the speedy recovery of her 
favorite naturally, for an appropriate remuneration. 

"You must know, old Ancestress, old Bodhisattva of the house," she 
said to the Princess Ancestress, "that young people of noble descent are 
particularly prone to be persecuted and afflicted by invisible devils and 
hobgoblins. The holy writings of Buddha teach that. These wicked 
demons torment them and scratch them, make the plates and dishes 
fall out of their hands when they are eatirig, make them stumble and 

191 



take false steps. These young people are exposed to the afflictions of 
the wicked devils at every step during their tender yea^s, and frequently 
they lose their lives by them." 

"Is there, then, no effective charm against them?" asked the alarmed 
Ancestress. 

"Certainly, with the help of Buddha the devils can be driven out. But 
Buddha demands some good work as a counter-offering. It is written, 
moreover, in the holy writings, that in the West there is a mighty bod- 
hisattva of light whose special office it is to protect the children of good 
people from the demons of darkness. But one has first tc conjure up this 
protecting spirit and render him well disposed by means of suitable' 
offerings and sacrifices." 

"What, then, does he demand as an offering?" 

"Oh, not so much. A couple of ounces of frankincense every day and 
plenty of oil for a beautiful big altar lamp. For the lamp must not be 
allowed to go out day or night. It is the symbol of the Spirit of Light." 

"Very well. You shall have the money for the frankincense and the 
lamp. How much oil is required?" 

Mother Ma named a whole scale of the sums usually given, which 
were graded according to the social position of the house concerned. 
After lengthy bargaining a daily quantity of five ounces of oil was 
agreed upon. Mother Ma was to receive the money for this each 
month in advance from the cashier's office. 

On the advice of the wise woman the Ancestress ordered, moreover, 
that Pao Yu's servant should in future carry with him some thousand- 
piece strings of money to distribute as alms to monks and beggars when 
he went out. With the assurance that Buddha would reward her charity, 
the wise woman took leave of the Princess Ancestress. When making a 
round of the women's quarters in the western palace she arrived at the 
room of the secondary wife Chao, mother of the bastard Chia Huan. 
She was sitting on the warmed kang putting slippers together. As she 
glanced at the heap of brightly colored pieces of satin beside her, 
Mother Ma remarked: "Ah, I could do with some new material for 
covering my shoes. Perhaps the Nai nai would have some bits left over 
for me?" 

"Look here, there's nothing very good left, but if you do not disdain 
these shabby remnants, pick out some that you like!" 

While Mother Ma was rummaging through the material and making 
the best pieces disappear into her roomy skirt pocket, Mrs. Chao con- 
tinued: "Did you deliver to the Temple of the God of Medicine the five 
hundred copper pieces which I recently sent you?" 

Mother Ma said that she did. 

"It was terribly little," continued Mrs. Chao with a sigh. "I should 

192 



so much like to give more and oftener, but just now my hands are tied. 
I certainly do not lack good will." 

"Have patience. Better days will certainly come for you. Only wait 
until your son is grown up! He will surely have a nice, lucrative posi- 
tion someday." 

Mrs. Chao gave an embarrassed smile. 

"Ah, please do not speak about that. I do not wish to expect much 
in that direction, my son's position is so very difficult owing to Pao Yu. 
The whole household revolyes around one person, namely, Pao Yu. But 
I won't crawl to that woman. . . !" 

She significantly stretched two fingers of her right hand up in the air. 

Mother Ma understood her sign language. 

"You mean the second JVai nai, Madame Phoenix?" 

"Hush!" said Mrs. Chao, frightened, standing up to peep through 
the curtain and make sure that nobody was listening. There was no one 
outside. She sat down again, reassured. 

"Yes, the autocratic way that person is allowed to rule the house is 
simply unendurable," she continued in a whisper. "I have no voice in 
anything; 1 am hardly a human being beside her." 

"Hm. I understand, you are powerless and dare not show any op- 
position openly. Still, why not try to do so secretly? But I should not 
say anything." 

"Oh, please speak!" interjected Mrs. Chao eagerly. "I am burning to 
deal just one blow at her secretly. If I only knew how to! I shall not 
fail to show my gratitude if you will help me." 

"Holy Buddha, how can I reconcile my conscience to that? I have 
such a tender conscience!" 

"Now, you are not usually so timid! Or are you afraid that I do not 
sincerely mean what I say about my gratitude?" 

A broad grin spread over Mother Ma's face. 

"What, then, would you think of giving me?" she asked frankly. 

"You are both clever and wise, Mother Ma, and you know better 
than anyone that the whole palace, with everything belonging to it, 
would fall to me, if you succeeded in getting those two, Phoenix and 
Pao Yu, out of the way. In that case you could demand as much as you 
wished from me." 

"Hm, that is very nice. But assuming that everything goes according 
to your wishes and you become the mistress, you might go back on yout 
promise. I cannot undertake the business without something in writ- 
ing." 

"If that is all you want I shall most willingly write out a promissory 
note for you. It will be paid punctually later on, you can rely on that! 

193 



Besides this, I can give you some articles of clothing _and some pieces 
of jewelry in advance." 

"Yes. I agree to that." 

So Mrs. Chao opened her chests and picked out some pieces of 
clothing and articles of jewelry for Mother Ma, and added to this some 
broken silver, and moreover 'she wrote out in Mother Ma's favor a for- 
mal promissory note for fifty taels. When the financial side of the mat- 
ter had thus heen satisfactorily settled, Mother Ma got down to work 
without any more moral scruples, and without distinguishing blue from 
red or black from white. She took scissors and cut out two human fig- 
ures from a sheet of white. paper. Mrs. Chao had to write on each of 
them a set of four double cyclic signs namely, the year, month, day, 
and hour of the birth of Phoenix and of Pao Yu. Then she cut from a 
sheet of blue paper two sets of five figures of devils and got Mrs. Chao 
to sew them carefully with needle and thread onto the first two figures. 
She had barely time to explain that she would carry out the rest of the 
charm at home by herself, and quickly to gather up the pieces of paper 
which were sewn together, when a maid appeared to call Mrs. Chao to 
a meal Mother Ma took leave hurriedly and set out for her home. 

That afternoon Black Jade went to visit her sick cousin, Pao Yu. On 
the veranda in front of his pavilion she found several maids busy 
washing themselves, making up their faces, and painting their eye- 
brows. From inside came the sound of merry chatter and laughter. 
Phoenix, Precious Clasp, and the three Spring girls were there enter- 
taining the patient with their pleasant company. 

"Ah, here comes another!" they cried in chorus as Black Jade en- 
tered. 

"You must all have been invited by letter, to arrive in such num- 
bers?" said Black Jade playfully, 

"Have you tried the tea which I sent you recently?" Phoenix asked 
her. 

"Oh, I had quite forgotten it. Many thanks for the kind gift." 

"It did not taste very good to me," interjected Pao Yu. 

"I think it tastes good, but the color is not very special," remarked 
Precious Clasp. 

"It is tribute tea from Siaui," declared Phoenix "I did not like it 
very much either; I think our Chinese tea is better." 

Of course Black Jade had to disagree. 
'1 liked it. Your stomachs must be out of order, it seems." 

"If you like it, you can have more of the same kind," said Phoenix. 

"Oh, yes, please. I shall send my maid for it." 

194 



"That is not necessary. I was going to send over to you tomorrow 
for something in any case." 

"Oh, indeed? T should very much like to know what service is de- 
sired of me in return for the package of tea." 

"Who knows? Perhaps you will be asked to prepare to be a little 
bride for our family," said Phoenix blithely. 

"Marvellously witty!" remarked Precious Clasp somewhat acidly, 
while the others laughed loud. 

"Witty? I find the remark in very bad taste and most unfitting," 
Black Jade burst out violently. She had gone red to the roots of her 
hair and one could hear herjeeth gnashing. 

"Now, would you be throwing yourself away if you were to be a 
bride to that member of the family there?" continued Phoenix calmly, 
pointing her finger at Pao Yu. "Does his person or his origin not 
please you?" 

Black Jade had stood up and gone silently to the door. Precious 
Clasp hurried after her and drew her back. 

"How can one take offense so easily and just run off?" she said to 
her. At that moment the two secondary wives, Chao and Chou, who had 
also come to inquire after Pao Yu's health, entered the room. Every- 
one stood up politely when they appeared. Phoenix alone remained 
seated and ignored them deliberately. Shortly afterwards Phoenix and 
the cousins were called away to Madame Cheng's, to greet the wife of 
the latter's brother, Marshal Wang Tzu Teng, who had come to visit. 
The sickroom was soon empty. 

"Will you at least stay with me a little while!" begged Pao Yu, when 
Black Jade too was about to leave him. 

"Do you hear that? Your presence is desired here," said Phoenix, 
supporting his request, as she turned around and with a laugh pushed 
Black Jade back into the room. Pao Yu caught her by the hand and 
smiled at her in silent entreaty. Black Jade flushed and tried to dis- 
engage herself from him. Suddenly he let her go, grasped his head, and 
uttered a loud cry of pain. 

"Oh, how my head aches!" he groaned. The next moment he gave a 
great leap into the air and began to run round the room like a pos- 
sessed person, shouting and stammering out disconnected words. Hear- 
ing Black Jade's and the maids' frightened cries for help, Pao Yu's 
mother, the Ancestress, and their visitor, Aunt Wang, came hurrying. 
They saw Pao Yu wildly brandishing a naked dagger and a fencing foil 
as he jumped up and down the room roaring frantically. Shaking with 
:error, the women snatched up their skirts and ran out of the pavilion 

Kenng loud cries of grief. With lightning speed the awful news spread 

irough both palaces that Pao Yu had gone mad, and in the course of 

1% 



time his father and Prince Shieh, and Prince Chen, and Chia Lien, and 
many other men and women of the clan arrived at the ill-fated spot. 

In the midst of the general tumult, when all minds were concentrated 
on Pao Yu, Phoenix was suddenly seen running through the park in 
great bounds. She was armed with a long kitchen knife, with which 
she was slashing out, here beheading a hen which happened to cross 
her path, and there stabbing a dog which had come too near her. Her 
rolling eyes glared with lust for blood as she now approached the group 
of relatives and servants. Everyone fell back, crying out in fright, but 
some brave, strong serving men and maids surrounded her, forced the 
weapon from her grasp, and carried her off to her residence. 

There was an excited family council. In great confusion they all 
talked together. Some suggested this devil-catcher, others that exorcist 
of spirits; some were for calling a doctor, others for trying magic, and 
finally it was decided to send for both doctors and magicians. But in 
spite of a hundred medical endeavors and magic incantations and in 
spite of thorough sprinkling with holy water, the two possessed persons 
continued their ravings until their bodies were plowing like fire, and 
they sank down at last exhausted on their bods. But even lying there, 
they continued to babble incoherently, and during the night their rav- 
ings took on really terrible forms. No one dared to go near them 
throughout the whole night. The next day the two were shut up in one 
room in the dwelling of Pao Yu's mother, and guards were posted to 
watch in turns day and night and prevent the maniacs from escaping. 
But not far away the Ancestress and Madame Cheng, Prince Shieh, and 
Aunt Hsueh sat together, never moved a step from the vicinity, and, 
filled with a thousand fears and sobbing ceaselessly, followed the de- 
velopment of the condition of the two favorites of the house. When 
three days and three nights had passed without any improvement, Mr. 
Cheng gave up hope. 

"The number of our years is determined by heaven," he said to 
Prince Shieh, who kept tirelessly pulling forward new suggestions. 
"With only our human strength we can do nothing. The illness of these 
two defies every treatment. We must leave them to their fate!" 

By this time Phoenix and Pao Yu were lying on couches in an ex- 
hausted and apathetic condition, and were breathing only weakly. 
Everyone regarded their case as hopeless, and the ciders had decided to 
make preparations for their death, which was expected at any moment. 
This news caused renewed lamentation ami mourning in the women's 
apartments. Only one woman was untouched by the general sorrow and, 
while pretending sympathy, was quietly rejoicing. That was the second- 
ary wife Chao. 

On the fourth day Pao Yu suddenly oj>encil his eyes and askc.d for 

197 



his things. He could not stand it here any longer, he said, and he wished 
straight away to leave the house forever. The Ancestress was incon- 
solable and tried to dissuade him from his intention. But the secondary 
wife Chao urged her to let him have his way. 

"Do not be sad about it, old Tai tail" she said. "Let him put on his 
clothes and go off. In any case he is no longer any good for his family. 
He must be permitted to have his way or he will get another attack of 
madness." 

Her remark put the Ancestress into such a rage that one could hear 
her teeth gnashing and see the foam dropping from the corners of her 
mouth. 

"May the tongue dry up in your -md ath, you confounded woman!" 
she cursed. "You will persecute him to his death! Do not imagine that I 
am blind! I know well how convenient it would be for you if he died. 
I know whose fault it is that he trembles before his father like a mouse 
before a cat, and that his liver is bursting through constant fear. You 
would like to be rid of him. That would suit you very well! But I will 
not allow it. . . ." Her voice dropped and she was overcome by a fit 
of coughing. Mr. Cheng, who was standing beside her, was painfully 
aware of the reproaches directed at him, and turned away muttering. 
While the woman who had received this scolding was trying to justify 
herself and to calm the enraged Ancestress, a servant arrived and an- 
nounced that the two coffins had been made. The Ancestress now was 
beside herself. She felt as if her heart were pierced by daggers. 

"Who did such a wicked thing as to order those coffins?" she cried 
in a screeching voice. "Bring whoever did it straight to me that I may 
have him beaten to death!" 

In the midst of the tumult the sound of a wooden clapper, such as 
pious Buddhists are in the habit of using at prayer, was heard from far 
down the street, and a loud voice commending, in the name of the 
Southern Redeemer, certain healing recipes for those possessed by the 
devil became distinctly audible. The Ancestress forthwith sent servants 
out the front gate to find the travelling miracle healer and bring him to 
the house. It was not long before the servants came back with two very 
odd-looking individuals. One of them was a mangy-looking bonze, the 
other was a lame Taoist priest. The prominent nose of the former indi- 
cated boldness of character, his elongated eyes sparkled like bright 
stars, the patched bast sandals which he wore left no tracks in the dust, 
his grimy bald head was covered with scurf. The other walked with a 
limp, for one foot was shorter than the other, and his shabby habit was 
dirty and -stained with perspiration from top to bottom. From where 
else could they have come than from the Islands of Spirits in the West- 
ern Sea, where the sun sets? Chia Cheng wished to submit the two 

198 



chance guests to the usual polite questioning about their person and 
origin, and started by asking them on which mountain or in which 
temple they had been trained in holiness. But they laughingly refused 
any information. 

"No superfluous questions, please! We have learned that certain in- 
mates of this house are lacking peace of soul, and we have come to cure 
them." 

"You are right. Two members of this house are possessed by wicked 
demons. What, then, are your remedies?" 

"Your house shelters a precious jewel which can cure the two sick 
people. Why seek other remedies?" 

Chia Cheng understood what they meant. 

"You surely mean the stone which my child had in his mouth when 
he was born. The inscription on it certainly asserts that it renders the 
owner proof against the influences of wicked spirits. But so far it has 
not shown its magic power." 

"That is not the fault of the stone," the bonze informed him. "The 
stone originally possessed magic power, but its magic has been lost 
owing to the influences of the flesh and the senses. Bring the stone to ust 
We will restore its magic powers by incantations." 

Chia Cheng obeyed, took the stone from Pao Yu's neck, and passed it 
to the monk. The monk laid it on the palm of his hand, closed his fin- 
gers over it, gave a long sigh, and addressed it thus in a low murmur: 
"It is now fifteen years since you left your place under the green cliff. 
Light and shade alternate quickly in this human world. It cannot be 
helped; you must remain until your earthly destination has been ful- 
filled. And now I adjure you: become again what you once were, pure 
and free!" 

Murmuring a few more mysterious sentences, he rubbed the stone for 
a while on the palm of his hand, then handed it back to Chia Cheng. 

"Now it has regained its old magic power," he said. "But take care 
lest it get soiled! Hang it on the balustrade in front of the invalid's bed- 
room until he is well again, and take care that no female except a rela- 
tion of his own blood touches it! Follow these instructions, and the sick 
person will be cured in thirty-three days." 

Chia Cheng was about to order his servants to bring food and drink, 
but the two queer fellows had already disappeared. He followed their 
instructions exactly, and the health of the two cousins did in fact im- 
prove from day to day. It was just as if they were waking up after a 
long sleep; they got back their appetites and asked for food and drLnk, 
and at the end of the thirty-three days they were completely cured. 
The Princess Ancestress and Madame Cheng were immensely relieved, 
and the recovery of Pao Yu caused great joy among his cousins, who 

199 



had been waiting expectantly crowded outside the door of the sickroom. 
Black Jade was the first who showed her relief by crying from her 
heart: "Thanks be to Buddha!" Precious Clasp said nothing but only 
laughed. 

"Why are you laughing?" Grief of Spring wanted to know. 

"I have to laugh at all the good Buddha has to do. He must make 
the sick well and bring poor sinners to regeneration. He can do every- 
thing; one has only to call upon him. The next thing will be that he 
will negotiate marriages on request." 

"Shame! How can you be so wicked and frivolous!" cried Black 
Jade, flushing, as, full of indignation, she ran out of the room. 



CHAPTER 21 

On the Wasp Waist Bridge a lovelorn maid expresses her feelings in 

commonplace words. The "Courtesan Yang" startles two butterflies in 

the Pavilion of the Kingfisher-Blue Drops. 

AT THE END OF THE THIRTY-THREE DAYS NOT ONLY WAS PAO Yu CURED 

of his mental derangement but the disfiguring burns on his face were 
also completely healed. He felt stronger and in better form than before, 
and he was glad to be able to move back at last to his beloved park. 
And another person rejoiced at his return: that was little Siao Hung; 
for now she could see her secretly beloved Little Yun again, if only at a 
distance, for he was still engaged on his garden work. And Little Yun's 
heart too beat faster every time he saw the graceful figure of the little 
maid appearing in his vicinity. If only he could manage to speak to 
her! But he did not dare, for after all Pao Yu had forbidden him at the 
outset to have any contact with the female inmates of the park. Siao 
Hung had once noticed a dainty little pale green silk handkerchief in 
Little Yun's hand. It was her handkerchief which she had lost recently! 
Perhaps, after all, her dream might yet come true? 

One day Pao Yu, remembering the promise he had made quite a 
while ago, braced himself to invite Little Yun to a cup of tea. Chance 
would have it that, just as the waiting maid Earring was escorting the 
guest along, not far from the Wasp Waist Bridge, little Siao Hung was 
walking over the bridge. Siao Hung stopped and exchanged a few 
words with Earring. What she had to say was something quite unim- 
portant, but the delay allowed her to look profoundly into Little Yun's 
eyes, and this hurried exchange of glances caused them both to blush. 
She had not yet found the pale green handkerchief which she had lost, 
the artful little creature remarked quite casually as she continued her 
way. 

200 



Pao Yu had ordered that his guest should be brought into the library 
in the Court of Harmonious Red. While the maid. went to announce his 
arrival Little Yun had an opportunity to look round him. The "court" 
was an alluring rock landscape, planted here and there with cypresses, 
banana plants, and one huge golden begonia. Beneath a cypress tree 
stood two Manchurum spirit cranes preening their feathers with their- 
long beaks. The chirping and shrieking of rare, colored birds in numer- 
ous cages resoun.Jerl from the walls of the pleasure gallery which en- 
circled the round inner courtyard wall. Above the entrance door to the 
circular main building hung a tablet bearing the inscription "Harmo- 
nious Red, Joyful Green." While Little Yun was still pondering over the 
meaning of these four characters, he was called in. Pao Yu was reclin- 
ing on a magnificent carved black lacquered divan beneath a red silk 
canopy edged with gold and embroidered with flowers. In his hand he 
held an open book which he laid down when the visitor entered. 

Pao Yu apologized for the fact that he had been prevented from 
carrying out his promise until today, two months late, owing to his ill- 
ness. Little Yun protested politely how sorry he had been about his ill- 
ness, and 'what an inexpressible happiness his ultimate recovery was to 
his whole family. When Pao Yu spoke he only half listened, for his 
thoughts were distracted as much by the splendor of his surroundings 
as by the charm of the two waiting maids in attendance. He assumed 
the elder one, who was so sumptuously resplendent in red and green 
and silver silk, to be Pao Yu's personal maid, Pearl. As he had heard 
what an important role Pearl played, ne did not dare to allow her to 
serve him. When she was about to pour out tea, he stood up respectfully 
and shyly asked to be allowed to pour it out himself. Pao Yu laughingly 
pushed him down en his seat again, saying he need not be so ceremoni- 
ous with waiting maids, but in his secret heart he found the obsequious 
manner of the poor relation somewhat tedious, hence he cut the visit as 
short as possible and limited the conversation to such superficial, com- 
monplace themes as the weather, servants, garden planning, good food, 
and the like. Quite soon he felt weary of his guest with his incessant and 
extravagant praise, and he bade him farewell. The waiting maid Ear- 
ring had to conduct him out again. 

On the way Little Yun deliberately walked slowly and kept watching 
in all the four directions of heaven for little Siao Hung; but she was no- 
where to be seen. He determined to become friendly with the waiting 
maid Earring in order through her to come nearer to his objective. He 
asked her about her age and her family, her work and her salary, and 
every other possible matter. When he had become somewhat more 
familiar with her in this way he took up courage and asked straight 

202 



out: "Is the name of die little one who hailed you a while ago on the 
bridge Siao Hung, by any chance?" 

"Yes. Why do you ask?" 

"Only this did she not say something about a lost handkerchief?" 

"She has asked me about it again and again, and begged me to help 
her to find it, but I was not able to; I have more important things in my 
head." 

"I have found it." 

"Oh, then, give it to me. She will be grateful to you." 

Little Yun put his hand in his pocket and drew out a pale green silk 
kerchief. 

"Here. But can I depend upon you to bring me her thanks?" 

"You can depend upon me!" 

Feeling very happy, Little Yun walked out the park gateway. He had 
come considerably nearer his aim today. 

After disposing of his visitor Pao Yu had lain down again and begun 
to daydream. He did not feel in the mood even for reading. The waiting 
maid Pearl came up beside him and gave him an encouraging cuff. 

"How can anyone be so lazy as to go to sleep again? You should go 
out and take some exercise!" 

"I would like to, but I find it so hard to leave you," he replied smil- 
ing, taking her by the hand. 

"Nonsense! Get up! Get up!" she said, pulling him up. 

"But where shall I go?" he yawned. "Oh, I feel so terribly tired and 
limp!" 

"No wonder when you stick in your room the whole day like a silly 
little girl! Get Out into the fresh air; it will cheer you up!" 

He got up and stretched himself, then slipped out yawning into the 
open air. First he made the round of the pleasure gallery by the inner 
courtyard wall and amused himself there for a while teasing the birds 
which were swinging in their cages, then he went into the open park, 
sauntered along by the brook, looked at the goldfishes in their basins, 
and went on to the game preserve. Here he perceived two young stags 
bounding away over a hillside. Why did the tame animals take to their 
heels so quickly at sight of him? While he was pondering over this he 
caught sight of his nephew Chia Lan in the thicket. The rascal was 
armed with bow and arrow and was glowing with the joy of the chase. 

"What mischief are you up to here?" challenged Pao Yu. 

"Oh, I thought Uncle had gone Out," stammered the boy, confused. 
"I was free from school and I wanted to pass the time practicing 
archery." 

"I will knock in your teeth if you ever again attempt to hunt here!" 

203 



said Pao Yu severely, and then continued on his way. At last he came to 
a secret door which was hidden away behind a thicket of high ferns by 
the edge of a quiet pond. A mysterious humming, which seemed to 
come from a water dragon lying at the bottom of the pond, filled the 
air. Pao Yu had arrived at Black Jade's pavilion. He quietly lifted the 
bamboo screen and stepped into the front garden. There was deep si- 
lence everywhere. He crept under the open window, which had only a 
thin gauze curtain, and peered inside. A wave of heavy fragrance met 
his nostrils. Before he had perceived the inmate, he heard a deep sigh 
and then the following words spoken in an undertone: 

Alone all day long on my pillow, 

Where can I put my feelings but in thought. . . . 

She is quoting from the "Western Pavilion," thought the listener, 
amused, peering with difficulty through a slit in the gauze. For he could 
see distinctly that she was lying on the divan, her limbs stretched out 
as if in sleep. 

"Why do you always lie alone on a pillow just thinking what you 
feel?" 

With these words he burst into the room, smiling. She quickly put 
her arm over her blushing face and turned towards the wall, pretending 
to be asleep. He went up to her couch and tried to draw her over to the 
other side, but he was disturbed in his efforts by two serving women. 

"The young lady is still asleep; please wait outside until she wakes 
up!" the sedate guardians of order informed the intruder. But Black 
Jade had already turned over onto the other side; 

"Who is asleep here?" she asked pleasantly. 

"Oh, we only thought . . ." the matrons excused themselves, with 
embarrassed smiles, and withdrew to give place to the maid Cuckoo. 
Black Jade had sat up, and began to do her hair. 

"What do you mean by surprising me in the middle of a beautiful 
sleep?" she asked, turning to Pao Yu with a smile. 

How bewitchingly beautiful she seemed to him with her checks 
flushed with sleep and the melancholy sweetness of her expression ! He 
pushed his seat nearer to her and gazed at her, fascinated. 

'Excuse me, but what were you saying just now?" he asked, ab- 
sently. 

"Oh, nothing in particular." 

"I mean just now." 

"I do not know what you mean." 

"Won't you give me some nuts to crack? But I certainly heard what 
you said just now. Bring me a good bowl of tea!" he said, turning to 
the waiting maid Cuckoo. 

204 



"I don't think you like our tea. Better let your Pearl get you some!" 
retorted Cuckoo, pertly. 

"It's all right, pour it!" 

Cuckoo obeyed, and then turned towards the door. 

"Listen! When one day I am united to your beloved litle mistress 
beneath the curtain embroidered with a pair of mandarin ducks, you 
shall always be allowed to settle the cushions and spread the covers," he 
called after her jokingly, quoting from the "Western Pavilion." 

His words instantly banished the merry expression from Black Jade's 
face. 

'Are you treating me again to the street expressions, the coarse 
offensiveness, which you read in lewd s books? I will not listen to such 
talk!" she burst out passionately. In one jump she was off the couch 
and out of the room. He ran after her. 

"Dearest, best Mei mei, I deserve death!" he called out, quite be- 
wildered. "But I will never again utter such expressions, or if I do, may 
my tongue rot out. . . ." 

The arrival of the waiting maid Pearl prevented him from elaborat- 
ing his oath. 

"Quick! Dress yourself! The old governor wants to speak to you," 
she announced. The words "old governor" went through his limbs like 
a stroke of lightning. For the moment all other troubles were forgotten, 
and he hurried back to his pavilion at Pearl's side in order to get ready 
for the dreaded visit. His valet Ming Yen was waiting for him at the 
park gate. 

"Do you know why the old man wants to speak to me?" he asked him 
excitedly. 

"No. But hurry up! You will know soon enough." 

With his stomach heaving with torturing doubts, Pao Yu hurried on. 
From behind a projection of wall near the great reception hall a shrill 
laugh greeted him and Cousin Hsueh Pan suddenly stepped out in front 
of him. He was clapping his hands wildly and doubling up with laugh- 
ter. 

"Just look how the boy can hurry ! One only needs to mention his old 
man to frighten him out of his wits!" he cried gleefully. 

Pao Yu stood dumfounded. He saw that he had been hoaxed and was 
about to burst out in rage, but Hsueh Pan now greeted him jokingly 
with a ceremonious bow and tried to appease him. 

i admit my offense and beg your kind forbearance. But I wanted 
your company so very much. There are a whole crowd of us and you 
are the only one missing. My birthday will be very soon, on the third of 
the fifth month, and we are having a preliminary celebration today. 

ithout this little trick I could hardly have enticed you out so quickly. 

206 



But it is worth coming to; there are all kinds of delicacies to feast on 
crisp fresh lotus roots covered with bread crumbs, giant melons, giant 
tribute salmon from Siam, Siamese tribute pork fragrant with cedar- 
wood. I have already sent your mother a fine big taste of all these 
things, but there is still so much, I cannot possibly manage it myself; 
you simply must help me to eat it. Besides, there is a pretty little boy 
singer who will make the meal more pleasant for us." 

Faced with such enticing pleasures, Pao Yu was soon appeased of 
course, and he laughingly gave in to the wild cousin's invitation. He 
returned home in the evening half tipsy. Cousin Precious Clasp, eager 
for details of the party, paid him a visit, late though the hour was. Let 
us, then, leave these two to their lively conversation for the time being 
and return to Black Jade.,She had spent the whole day in acute anxiety, 
wondering how the supposed visit of Pao Yu to his stern father ha^ 
passed off, and it was long past the hour of the evening meal when sh : 
was informed that Pao Yu had at last returned. 

She set out hurriedly for his pavilion, for she was very eager to 
speak to him before bedtime. It happened that Precious Clasp arrived 
there just before her. She could see her distinctly in the bright moon- 
light disappearing into Pao Yu's front garden, though she was still quite 
far away. 

Arriving shortly- after her, she found to her astonishment that the en- 
trance gate was locked. Nobody opened -when she knocked, and a peev.- 
ish maH's voice called out: "The little master is already asleep. After 
all, it is now the third night watch. Come back in the morning!'' 

The waiting maid was. in fact already not very pleased at Precious 
Clasp's late visit, which compelled her to stay up longer than usual. 
Moreover, she was out of humor on account of a quarrel she had just 
had with a colleague. It was purely on her authority and through ill- 
humor that she did not open the door. Naturally. Black Jade could not 
know this; being of a suspicious nature, she sought the reason for this 
refusal to let her in in quite another direction. 

"But it is I! Why. ther, won't you open?" she repeated impatiently. 

"It's all the same who you are. The little master expressly ordered 
that I was not to let anyone in,'' came the unfriendly reply from inside. 

Black Jade was raging and felt like starting to scold aloud, but then 
she reflected that after all she was an outsider, a guest here, and must 
therefore show restraint before the staff. This reflection made her pain- 
fully aware how alone in the world and how completely orphaned she 
was, and once more her eyes filled with tears. As she stood thus, per- 
plexed and weeping before the locked gate, she suddenly heard merry 
laughter from within, and could distinguish clearly the voices of her 
boy and girl cousins. Her heart contracted convulsively. She felt as if 

207 



she would cry aloud in her grief. Why did he lock her out so heart- 
lessly? She thought and thought and racked her brains right and left. 
Did he want to' punish her for having reprimanded him today and then 
run away? But she had not really meant it so seriously. Would he dare 
to treat her so insultingly for that? The next thing would be that he 
would refuse to see her at all ! 

For a long time she stood there, lonely and forsaken, in the shadow 
of a corner of the wall, and heedless of the night chill which came down 
from the bluish, glistening hillsides wet with dew and enveloped her. 
Then she crept away slowly, sobbing wildly. And her sobbing awak- 
ened the birds in the branches by the wayside from their sleep and 
caused them to fly away in alarmed flutters to more distant resting 
places. She had not gone far when she heard behind her a door creak- 
ing on its hinges. She stopped and turned round. Precious Clasp was 
just coming out of Pao Yu's garden gate. Pao Yu and the waiting maid 
Pearl were accompanying her a few steps. Black Jade would have liked 
to hurry back and call Pao Yu to account, but she did not want to be- 
tray herself to Precious Clasp and Pearl. So she remained where she 
was and watched from a distance as Pao Yu parted from his cousin, 
returned with Pearl, and disappeared inside the garden gate. As soon 
as the gate had been shut she continued her way in tears. 

Her two waiting maids Cuckoo and Snowgoose had long since grown 
accustomed to the sudden fits of melancholy from which their mistress 
suffered at frequent and regular intervals. At first they had thought it 
was homesickness, or grief for her dead parents, and they had made 
efforts to comfort her; but as the months passed by and these tearful 
attacks of melancholy continued, they ceased to be surprised, and took 
these states as inevitable expressions of a somewhat strange disposition. 
Hence, when Black Jade came home in a broken state this night, they 
did not take any notice of her condition or ask the reason of her sorrow. 
But Black Jade shut herself into her "bedroom and sat crouched on the 
edge- of her bed for a long time with her hands clasped over her knees, 
motionless as a statue, until at last she lay down to rest as dawn was 
breaking. 

The following day, the twenty-sixth of the fourth month, the begin- 
ning of summer was celebrated. This is the day when the flower spirits 
come down from their thrones and the corn comes into its glory. Ac- 
cording to ancient custom this day was also celebrated in the Park of 
Delightful Vision with the usual offering of sacrifices, the traditional 
flower banquet, and boisterous festivity. The youthful female inmates 
of the park and their waiting maids had put on gaily colored garments, 
the dazzling splendor of which made the gaudy parrots pale with envy, 

208 



and brightness and cheerfulness reigned everywhere. Only one person 
was missing from the merry company, and that was Black Jade. 

"Where on earth is Cousin Black Jade?" Greeting of Spring asked. 
"The lazy thing seems to want to sleep all day." 

"Wait, I will go and rouse her ! " suggested Precious Clasp, and hur- 
ried off. On the way she met the troupe of twelve dancing girls from the 
Pear Garden. 

"The others are over there," she said to them, pointing behind her. 
"Just go along! I shall follow immediately; I am only going to fetch 
Black Jade." 

As she came near Black Jade's pavilion she saw Pao Yu just entering 
it. She slackened her pace and reflected a moment. Should she disturb 
them? No, she would not be so inconsiderate. On this festive day she 
did not want to upset the sensitive Black Jade, who, she knew, liked to 
have her cousin all to herself. She promptly made up her mind, turned, 
and ran back. As she went she noticed a pair of big, wonderfully beau- 
tiful butterflies close by the path, fluttering up and down in the gentle 
wind. How she would love to catch them! She drew her fan out of her 
sleeve pouch and started to chase them. But each time she thought she 
was quite near them, the two winged fugitives cleverly dodged her fan 
and enticed her farther and farther from the pathway and into the grass 
right up to the edge of the near-by pond. Here she had to give up the 
chase. The fugitives escaped from her over the water. 

Precious Clasp was about to turn round again when she became 
aware of the sound of lively whispering coming from the Pavilion of 
the Kingfisher-Blue Drops. The pavilion, which stood out airily in 
the middle of the pond, was connected with the bank by means of four 
covered wooden footbridges. It was surrounded on all sides by high 
folding screens. Precious Clasp crept across the nearest bridge and lis- 
tened in through the wood carving of one of the big folding screens, 
which was pasted up with parchment, and which shut out the view all 
around. She distinguished two women's voices. Now she heard one of 
them saying: "Well, tell me at last, is this your handkerchief which you 
lost that time? If not, I must take it back to Mr. Yun." 

"Of course it's mine. Give it to me!" she heard the other reply. 

"Just a minute! Not so quick! First out with the reward, for you're 
not going to get it for nothing! I definitely promised Mr. Yun only to 
give it up in exchange for the reward." 

"Nonsense! Why a reward? After all, it's a duty to give up what one 
finds in a strange house." 

"Very well, then you won't get it." 

The dispute continued for a while longer. Then a voice said: "Very 

209 



well, give him this bangle as a reward! But promise me you won't say a 
word to anyone about it! Swear it!" 

"I swear it, and if I do not keep my word may I get a big boil in my 
mouth and be miserably suffocated to death by it!" 

"Sh! Not so loud! What if anyone should be listening outside! We 
had better push aside the screen a little so as not to awaken suspicion, 
and to see better if anyone is coming." 

Precious Clasp, who did not want to be caught eavesdropping, re- 
treated quickly across the footbridge, only to return immediately, this 
time intentionally clattering loudly on the boards. She had recognized 
little Siao Hung and Earring by their voices, and was astonished at the 
cunning of these youngest of all the waiting maids, who appeared to be 
so extremely innocent, yet here, behind their master's back, were gaily 
knotting the first threads of a pleasant little love game. 

"Hi, Sister Black Jade, where have you crept away to? I can't find 
you anywhere," she called aloud, putting on a completely innocent air. 
Abashed and startled, the two young girls stared at the unexpected in- 
truder through the space between the two folding screens which they 
had pushed aside just before. Then they shot out to greet Precious Clasp 
with due respect. 

"Where have you hidden my cousin?" asked Precious Clasp quite 
naturally. 

"We do not know where Miss Ling is," said Earring, surprised. 

''But I just saw her by the pond. I thought she must have crept along 
the bank somewhere here, wanting to take you by surprise, but appar- 
ently she saw me coming and evaded me. Or could she have hidden her- 
self here in the pavilion?" 

She stepped in and craned her neck and stretched her limbs, as if 
searching intently. 

"She must have just crept into a grotto outside. Let us hope she won't 
get bitten by snakes!" she murmured. Then she went away again, se- 
cretly amused at the little incident and the successful trick which had 
helped her out of her embarrassment. 

Having spent half the night sitting up, Black Jade slept longer than 
usual today. The others had been in the park a long time before she 
awoke. She did her toilet in frantic haste, for she did not want to arrive 
too late at the farewell banquet in honor of the departing flowers, nor to 
be laughed at by the others as a sleepyhead. She was just getting ready 
to go out when Pao Yu entered. 

"Dear Mei mei" he said as gently as possible, "the whole night 
through I have been turning over your words of yesterday in my 
mind. . . ." 

210 



Just as if he were not present at all Black Jade turned quite uncon- 
cernedly to the maid Cuckoo and said: "Look here, tidy up the place 
thoroughly! Take down the window curtains and the door curtains! Put 
a light in the incense pot and do not forget to cover it again ! You may 
go to see the banquet, hut when it is over come back and await me by 
the stone lions in front of the door!" 

Having given these instructions, she went out into the park, passing 
by Pao Yu without looking at him. Pao Yu still believed that her 
strange behavior was due to his joking remarks to Cuckoo yesterday, 
which she had taken so much amiss. How could he guess that a new 
cause for her ill-humor had arisen the night before? Why did she bear a 
grudge against him for so long, contrary to her usual habit, on account 
of the little offense of yesterday afternoon, he asked himself in vain as 
he trotted behind her, tortured with uncertainty. Without having spoken 
one word to each other, each of them arrived separately to join the rest 
of the company. 

Black Jade joined Precious Clasp and Taste of Spring, who were 
just delightedly watching the strange jumping of a pair of cranes. When 
Pao Yu arrived a little later his half-sister Taste of Spring took him 
aside under a pomegranate tree, away from the other two girls. 

"What happened yesterday? I heard that our father sent for you 
suddenly," she asked. 

"Nonsense! Whoever told you that must have misheard. I was at 
Cousin Hsueh Pan's." 

"Oh, I am glad it is nothing. But I have a request to make of you. I 
have saved up a dozen thousand-piece strings of money recently. Would 
you buy something pretty for me with this money the next time you are 
in the town? A lovely picture or some old curio?" 

"With pleasure. But what? In my strolls inside and outside the city 
walls, and in the shops and temple markets, I have not seen anything 
outstanding in the way of pictures or curios for a long time. It is always 
the same kind of thing gold, bronze, jade, china, but nothing uncom- 
mon. Would you not perhaps prefer a pretty dress or something nice to 
eat?" 

"No, no! But it just occurs to me, I would like to have a plaited 
willow workbasket or a perfume box made of bamboo root like one you 
brought home recently, or an earthenware air-draft furnace or some- 
thing like that. But let this be strictly between ourselves, won't you? 
For I know from experience that whenever I like something the other 
girls take a fancy to it too and make off with it." 

"But the things you suggest are quite simple, cheap things," said 
Pao Yu, laughing. "You can buy things like those for a few hundred 
coppers from any coolie. You do not need me for that!" 

211 



"What kind of taste would a coolie have?" replied his sister indig- 
nantly. "No, I should like you to choose for me, then I would be sure 
of getting something uncommon. As a matter of fact, I have a great 
many more wishes. For instance, I should like a pair of slippers exactly 
like the ones you got for yourself recently, but mine would haVe to be 
a little more daintily worked. . . ." 

They went on like this for quite a while, until at last Precious Clasp 
came along and interrupted the important secret consultation, saying: 
"Will you two ever have finished talking? We others do not seem to 
exist for you any longer. After all, you are brother and sister and need 
not have any secrets from us." 

The three of them returned to the rest of the company, laughing 
merrily. 

Pao Yu missed Black Jade. She is avoiding me, but her resentment 
never lasts more than two days, I know her ways he comforted him : 
self with these thoughts. As he mused thus, his head bent thoughtfully, 
his eyes on the ground, he suddenly perceived that the ground was 
completely strewn with camellia and pomegranate blossoms. How dis- 
traught she must be when she no longer finds time to bury her blossoms! 
he thought. When he looked up again Precious Clasp also had disap- 
peared from his sight. Now they have both forsaken me, he thought 
miserably. He bent down and gathered up two handfuls of blossoms to 
carry to Black Jade's flower grave. His path thence wound its way over 
hills and water courses, through groves and pastures. Just as he was 
nearing his objective he heard a plaintive girl's voice coming from be- 
hind the last shelf of rock. He stood still and listened. It must be some 
maid who is weeping away her grief for some injustice in this heart- 
rending fashion, he conjectured, and stepping softly nearer, he peered 
inquisitively round the shelf of rock. He started back in dismay for 
the girl was Black Jade. 

Black Jade had not yet got over the insult which she wrongly im- 
agined she had suffered from Pao Yu the evening before. The merry- 
making with which the Feast of the Departing Flowers was being cele- 
brated today did not at all harmonize with her gloomy frame of mind, 
and so she had withdrawn from the circle of her playmates into soli- 
tude. She had set out for her flower grave with an armful of fallen 
petals. While burying the petals in the grave just now she had been 
overwhelmed with unspeakable grief. Perhaps it was sympathy for the 
poor blossoms; perhaps it was the thought of the transience of her own 
blossoming youth. Whatever it was. she was quite overcome with mel- 
ancholy and broke out into a long lamentation in which she compared 
herself with a tender blossom and bewailed her inevitably sad destiny 
the destiny of a fading flower. And so moving was her melody that in 

212 



the midst of this song of lamentation, intermingled with tears, the lis- 
tener by the shelf of rock was seized with emotion, let his load of petals 
fall to the ground, and broke out in loud sobbing too. What would be- 
come of him if all the gentle blossoming maidens around him Black 
Jade, Precious Clasp, Pearl, and all the rest were to fade away and 
withdraw to those unknown glades where there is no seeking and no 
finding? These were the thoughts which invaded his mind. 

Black Jade, suddenly hearing the echo of her own pain from the 
wall of rock behind her, stopped short in her lament. They always laugh 
at me for being foolish, but it seems there is some other fool here be- 
sides myself, she thought, turning round. And then she discovered 
PaoYu. 

"Oh, it's that loathsome one!" she gasped, half aloud. Then, shocked 
at her own outburst, she quickly covered her mouth with her hand, 
jumped up, -and ran away. He followed her timidly some distance be- 
hind for a while, then he ventured to come nearer. 

"Please stop!" he implored her. "I know you do not like me, and I 
will certainly keep away from you in the future, but I would like to 
speak just one single sentence to you!" 

"Very well, but only one sentence," she said, turning round quickly 
and slackening her pace. 

"Will you listen to me even if it is a bit more?" 

She instantly resumed a quicker pace. He, following close behind 
her, heaved a deep sight and then cried out: "Why is it so different be- 
tween us nowadays from what it was in the past?" 

"What do you mean by that?" she asked, stopping. 

"Were you not my faithful companion and playmate when you came 
here? Did we not eat at the same table and rest on the same couch? 
Were not my favorite dishes your favorite dishes too? Did we not grow 
up together? And now that you are grown up, you will not look at me 
and you avoid me for whole days on end. Am I not just as much alone 
and forsaken as you are? I have a brother and a sister, it is true, but 
their mother is a stranger. Since we two have no real brothers or sis- 
ters, are we not fellow sufferers? Should we not be a comfort and sup- 
port to each other? And now is it all to come to an end. . . .?" 

He could not get any further. Tears choked his voice. She had 
listened to him silently with bent head. Sympathy welled up in her 
breast, her anger had more than half turned to ashes. Now she in turn 
was infected by his tears and began to weep too. Encouraged by her 
softening of heart, he continued: "I know that I am bad. But what 
harm have I done you? When I commit a fault you may blame me, 
and warn me, and scold me, and even beat me, I can bear all that. But 
that you just do not notice me, that drives me to despair! It makes me 

213 



demented. Do you, then, really wish me to die a poor sinner whom no 
Buddhist or Taoist requiem can save from damnation?" 

His moving plaint had banished the last remnant of her resentment 
into the ninth region of heaven. 

"Why did you not let your maid open the door to me last night?" 
she commenced, changing her tone. 

"You called on me last night? May I die on the spot if I know any- 
thing about that!" he protested, astonished. 

"One should not use the word 'die' so thoughtlessly! You know I 
hate those strong protestations. A simple yes or no is enough for me." 

"But really, I knew nothing about your coming. I only know that 
Cousin Precious Clasp was there." 

Black Jade's face brightened up. 

"Hm. Then it seems that it was through indolence or bad humor 
that your maids did not open the door " she remarked after a moment's 
reflection. 

"That must be it!" replied Pao Yu eagerly. "I will investigate the 
matter at once when I go home. I will give the lazy things a good piece 
of my mind!" 

"Yes, do so, but not for my sake! That this should happen to me is 
not so very bad. But it might happen sometime to one of your other 
more favored cousins, and then the scandal would be inconceivable. 
Isn't that so?" she said, smiling ironically. 

And so for the thne being peace reigned again. 



CHAPTER 22 

The better off one is, the more one troubles about one's welfare. The 
more a woman is cherished and loved, the more love does she demand. 

1 HE FIFTH OF THE MONTH, THE DAY OF THE DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL, 

had almost come. The Princess Ancestress had decided to spend this 
day with Phoenix and Pao Yu and the granddaughters outside the town 
in the Taoist Temple of the Serene Void. She had declared that the 
continuous monotony of home life dulled the mind in the long run; she 
needed a change and looked forward to the much-desired diversion 
provided by the theatrical performances which just at this time took 
place at the temple. Phoenix had agreed enthusiastically and added 
that she was already thoroughly sick of the repertory of the house 
theater. She undertook to make the necessary preparations for the holi- 
day, which was to last for several days. The temple was comfortably 
furnished and was closed to the general public during the visit of the 

214 



distinguished ladies. The majority of the priests were quartered out- 
side for the time. 

Accordingly, in the forenoon of the first of the month the long pro- 
cession of sedan chairs and carriages set out. At its head came the 
great sedan of the Princess Ancrestress borne by eight men, and ac- 
companied by Pao Yu on horseback; then, each in a smaller sedan 
chair with four bearers apiece, came Aunt Hsueh, Phoenix, and the 
Widow Chu. There followed Black Jade and Precious Clasp in a blue 
carriage, the three Spring girls in a red carriage, then four chamber- 
maids of the Ancestress, Black Jade's maids, Cuckoo and Snowgoose, 
Precious Clasp's maids, Oriole and Apricot, six maids of the three 
Spring girls, two of Aunt Hsueh's serving women, Hsueh Pan's young 
secondary wife Lotus with her maid, two of Widow Chu's maids, and 
three waiting maids of Madame Phoenix, Little Ping and Little Fong, 
and the newest recruit Siao Hung, the two chambermaids Gold Ring and 
Nephrite Buckle belonging to Madame Cheng, who had remained at 
home herself owing to indisposition, the little daughter of Madame 
Phoenix and her nurse, then numerous serving women and maidser- 
vants. A large troupe of servants on horseback brought up the rear. It 
was an endless procession. The last participants were still climbing into 
their equipages and disputing about the seats, when the head was al- 
ready well out of sight. What pushing and shoving, what chattering 
and tittering! "No, this seat is engaged!" someone sa\d here. "Don't 
crush my mistress's good dress!" cried another over there. "Don't 
spoil my coiffure!" was heard here. "Don't sit on my fan!" came a cry 
of distress from over there. The majordomo bustled to and fro warn- 
ing the company to be orderly and behave properly in the street, while 
all along the route the stewards and runners had their hands full keep- 
ing the streets clear and forcing back the gaping crowd. 

A dull boom of salutation resounded from the drum and bell tower 
as the long procession of sedan chairs and carriages arrived at the 
Temple of the Serene Void Ching hsu kuan. Before the temple gate 
the Prior, at the head of a double row of priests swinging censers, had 
taken up his position to welcome the guests ceremoniously. In the 
courtyard of the temple, behind the Mountain .Gate, between the 
statues of the patron deities of the town, Prince Chen awaited the 
guests at the head of a crowd of cousins and nephews from the Yung- 
kuo and Ningkuo palaces. The Princess Ancestress's sedan was put 
down, and as the serving women and waiting maids were still far be- 
hind, Phoenix hurried up to help the old lady to dismount. Just as she 
set foot on the tiles of the temple courtyard, a little temple boy of about 
twelve ran past her and carelessly bumped into her. The boy had charge 
of trimming and cleaning the temple candles. He had been surprised 

215 



at his work by the arrival of the ladies and wanted to slip out quickly. 
Phoenix, annoyed at his clumsiness, dealt him a resounding box on the 
ear. 

"Just look out where you are running, little savage!" she rebuked 
him angrily. The boy, who had fallen and lost his snuffers in his panic, 
picked himself up quickly and ran off towards the exit. In doing so he 
got more and more into the crowd, for the occupants of the oncoming 
sedan chairs had dismounted meanwhile, and the young ladies, to- 
gether with their waiting maids and serving women, formed such a 
dense throng at the temple gate that a drop of rain could not have 
fallen to the ground between them. The women were horrified at the 
impudence of the young boy who was trying to squeeze through them, 
and they cried out: "Stop him! Knock him down!" 

"What is the matter?" the Ancestress asked Prince hen. 

The Prince rushed to the door, inquired what the hubbub was about, 
and had the boy arrested by the servants. 

"A little candle-trimmer was late at his work and ran into the ladies 
as they came in," he reported to the Ancrestress. 

"Bring him here," ordered the Ancestress. "But be very patient 
with him! One cannot demand a high standard of manners from the 
children of such humble people, and one must have consideration." 

Dragged along by Prince Chen, the boy fell to the ground trembling 
and shaking in front of the Ancestress. The Ancestress made him stand 
up, spoke kind words to him, and asked him various questions, to 
which the boy was too shy to reply. Finally the Ancestress let him run 
off after having recommended the Prince to give him a few coppers 
to buy cakes and hejp him recover from his fright. Prince Chen did 
what he was told, and moreover took strong measures together with the 
majordomo to enclose the premises so that unpleasant incidents of the 
kind would not occur again. Even the young people and the servants 
from the Ningkuo and the Vungkuo palaces, who had come out with 
the others, were not permitted to enter the inner precincts of the temple, 
which were strictly reserved to the ladies. 

The High Priest Chang, who had been standing aside shyly in front 
of the entrance to the temple a^the time, now asked with a smile: "And 
what about me? May your humble servant pay his respects to the ladies 
inside? Perhaps the old Tai tai may desire my direction and miss me. 
However, I will certainly not act upon my own. authority, but will con- 
form entirely to your princely instructions." 

The Prince did not hesitate, for the worthy old man enjoyed a repu- 
tation for holiness. Moreover, he used formerly to come and go fre- 
quently in the Yungkuo and Ningkuo palaces discharging the duties of 
exorcist, so he was no stranger to the ladies. 

216 



"Of course the temple is open to you, and if you make any more 
words about it I shall take you by your long beard and pull you in," 
replied the Prince jokingly, leading him into the inner precincts and up 
to the Ancestress. The High Priest bowed to the Ancestress and the 
younger ladies and smilingly offered his greetings: "May the old 
Ancestress be granted the same abundance of health, happiness, and 
long life which has been granted her up to the present! Since I have 
had the honor of offering her my greetings in her palace, it seems to 
me that her health and appearance have distinctly improved." 

"How do you do, holy old man?" replied the Ancestress, smiling. 

"The state of health of the little monk depends entirely upon the 
well-being of the old Ancestress," replied the Prior gallantly, and turned 
the conversation on to Pao Yu. At his request the Ancestress had her 
grandson called. 

"How magnificently the little brother is getting on!" cried the old 
man. 

"That is only on the surface, unfortunately; he is really a very weak 
boy," said the Ancestress, sighing. "No wonder, for he studies so hard. 
His father keeps him down to his books continually and allows him no 
recreation; he will become ill yet through overwork." 

"I do not understand at all why the old master is displeased with his 
progress. I have had proof again and again of how splendidly the little 
brother can handle the writing brush and make verses. When I ob- 
serve him attentively his face, his figure, his deportment, his way 
of speaking he seems to me more and more to be the image of his 
great progenitor, the Ancestor Prince," he continued. 

"You are right," agreed the Ancestress, with emotion in her voice. 
"Of all my sons and nephews and grandsons, none resembles his An- 
cestor so much as this child." 

The old man's face grew cunning. 

"Recently, in the home of a certain noble family, I came across a 
fifteen-year-old daughter, a perfectly charming, clever, educated young 
girl. She would be a suitable partner for the little brother. If the old 
Tai tai would honor her humble servant with instructions to that effect, 
he would willingly place his services at her disposal and open his mouth 
in the house in question." 

"Thank you for the kind offer," said the Ancestress, evasively. "But 
there is time enough for that. A holy young Buddhist informed us re- 
cently that it was the will of Providence that my grandson should not 
marry too early, so we are waiting until he is somewhat more grown-up. 
But if you wish to keep a preliminary lookout for a suitable partner, I 
do not mind. It is of the greatest importance to me that the character 
of the person in question should harmonize with that of my grandson; 

217 



I attach little importance to aristocratic and rich descent; she may well 
come from a poor family. Therefore, let me know whenever you have 
suitable suggestions to make!" 

Thereupon the old man expressed the wish to be allowed to show 
Pao Yu's famous amulet to his priestly colleagues. At the order of the 
Ancestress, Pao Yu took off the chain with the spirit stone and handed 
it to the Prior. The Prior laid it in a bronze bowl and limped out lean- 
ing on his staff. When he returned after a little while he brought back 
in the bowl about forty or fifty other amulets, presents from the priests 
to Pao Yu. 

"My colleagues thank you for the happiness of letting them see the 
strange magic stone," he said. "They want to take this opportunity of 
proving their friendly and humble devotion to the little brother. As 
they have nothing better at hand, they offer him these little emblems of 
Taoist piety. He can keep them as souvenirs or pass them on as pres- 
ents, just as he pleases." 

The Ancestress looked with curiosity at the contents of the bowl. 
They were mostly semicircular gold or jade tablets, pierced with holes, 
some of them set with pearls, and all of them graven with inscriptions 
such as "May your wishes all come true," or "Long life and health." 

"How did you dare to allow your poor colleagues to go to such ex- 
pense? We cannot accept these presents under any circumstances!" the 
Ancestress protested, thanking him. 

"Oh, they insisted upon proving their devotion. I could not prevent 
them from doing so. They will feel hurt if they see that their well-in- 
tentioned gifts are disdained." 

"Of course the Ancestress did not wish to hurt the donors, so she 
accepted their gifts. 

"What shall I do with these things?" asked Pao Yu in a somewhat 
scornful tone. "I shall give them to beggars on the way home." 

"Do not do that!" objected the Prior. "Indeed, I do not fail to recog- 
nize your praiseworthy intention, but beggars do not appreciate such 
things; beggars want money. Keep these little objects! Though they 
may seem to you outwardly insignificant and worthless, nevertheless 
they possess beneficent power." 

Pao Yu took the hint, and in the evening he ordered that money 
should be distributed among the beggars in front of the temple gate. 

The Prior retired and the ladies went to their living quarters. Three 
one-story temple buildings had been placed at their disposal. The mid- 
dle one was intended for the Ancestress, the eastern one for the other 
ladies, and the western one for the domestic female staff. After a while 
Prince Chen came to the Ancestress and advised her of the theatrical 
program. The first piece was to be "The History of the White Snake." 

218 



"Is not that ancient history?" asked the Ancestress. 

"Yes, the play is founded on the old story of how Liu Pang, the 
founder of the first Han dynasty, killed the white snake and estab- 
lished the rule of justice. The second piece is called 'The Audience 
Tablets in the Bed'; the third piece is The Dream of Nan ko.' " 

Prince Chen went down again to supervise the final preparations for 
the theatrical performance. 

Pao Yu, who was sitting above with the Ancestress, passed the time 
turning over in the bowl the temple souvenirs which had been pre- 
sented to him, and trying one piece after another on his jade belt. Each 
time the Ancestress had to give her opinion as to how the piece in 
question suited him. A lucky 'orange-colored unicorn, spotted with 
kingfisher blue, pleased her specially. She took it in her hand to ex- 
amine it, and remarked: "It is very pretty. I must have seen something 
like this on one of the girls." 

"Yes, you have. 'Cousin Little Cloud wears a unicorn like that, but 
it's somewhat smaller," said Precious Clasp quickly. 

"You are right, it's Little Cloud," agreed the Ancestress. 

"It is certainly strange that I have never yet noticed it on her, al- 
though she is so often in and out of our place," said Pao Yu. 

"Yes, Cousin Precious Clasp has a good memory," remarked Taste 
of Spring innocently. 

"Especially for matters which concern others," added Black Jade 
caustically. 

Precious Clasp looked away and pretended not to have heard the re- 
mark. Pao Yu stuck the golden unicorn quickly into his breast pocket, 
at the same time looking around shyly to see if anyone had noticed 
him. He was afraid they might draw conclusions from the fact that 
he kept just this piece of jewelry after having heard that Little Cloud 
had a piece exactly the same. But nobody had noticed it, with the ex- 
ception of Black Jade, and he thought he read approval and agreement 
from her nods and the expression on her face. In order to escape from 
his embarrassment he took out the jewel again and held it up to her. 

"Pretty, isn't it? I have kept it for you," he said, smiling. "I'll have 
a string put on it, and then you will wear it!" 

Black Jade tossed her head. 

"I do not care for it in the least, thank you," she replied coldly. 

"Very well, then I shall keep it myself," he said laughing, and hiding 
it away again. 

After they had amused themselves for some hours with the enter- 
tainment offered on the temple stage, in the late afternoon the An- 
cestress quite unexpectedly announced that they would return to the 
town. When the news of her holiday trip had gone around among the 

219 



circle of friends and relations, these dear people had hastened to send 
messengers with all possible marks of attention and with sacrificial 
gifts, and even to come themselves, as if they thought that it was a mat- 
ter of a solemn temple ceremony. Now, this was not at all what the 
Princess had intended. She had only wanted to have some recreation 
and for once to have a really quiet carefree time with just a few favor- 
ite relatives, She was even displeased when Princess Chen turned up 
belatedly with the new wife of Chia Yung, and she did not receive the 
two unwelcome arrivals in a very friendly way. Fearing that she might 
be even more inundated in the following days, she cut short her sojourn 
and went home in ill-humor. 

The enterprising Phoenix, who did not approve of this at all, tried 
to "persuade her the next day to make another trip to the temple, but in 
vain. It happened that Pao Yu also did not want to go there. He was out 
of humor too because the Prior Chang had brought up the matter of 
marriage the day before, and pushed himself forward as a negotiator. 
Pao Yu did not need this unsolicited mediation; he had made his own 
choice long ago. He had no desire to appear before old Chang ever 
again, he declared angrily to his grandmother when he got home. No 
one could really understand why he was so much annoyed with the 
friendly old man. Moreover, Black Jade had caught cold on the way 
home and was a little feverish today. For these three reasons the 
Piincess Ancestress remained firm and let Phoenix and the others go 
alone. 

Pao Yu took Black Jade's slight cold so much to heart that he could 
not touch a bite the whole day. His anxiety impelled him to visit her 
constantly and to find out how she was. 

"Why won't you go with the others to the plays at the temple in- 
stead of sticking at home and being bored?" asked Black Jade, wishing 
to put him to the test. Her question annoyed him greatly. If anyone 
else had asked it he would not have been specially upset, but Black Jade 
should surely know perfectly well that he was avoiding the temple 
solely on her account and because he wanted to evade the annoying 
marriage plans of the Prior. 

"I see that it is useless for us to know one another. Very well, let us 
finish with it!" he replied, deeply disappointed. She made matters 
worse by adding sharply: "Yes, it is certainly useless. Unlike certain 
other persons, I have nothing at all about me which suits you." 

He Went up close to her, deeply agitated, and said to her in a voice 
which trembled: "With these words you have cold-heartedly spoken a 
curse of damnation over me." 

"I do not know what you mean, and I do not understand your agita- 
tion at all," she replied. "Evidently you are worried lest the beautiful 

220 



marriage plan of which the Prior spoke yesterday should fall through, 
and are making me suffer for your irritation." 

Foolish girl ! Foolish boy ! Why were they shamming and saying the 
exact opposite of what was in the depths o* their hearts? They had be- 
longed to each other secretly long since. Why did they torture them- 
selves and behave as if they were strangers and enemies? They were 
spiritually so close to each other. Why did they outwardly struggle 
away from each other? But alas, that has always been the way with 
lovers, and doubtless always will be. 

At the words "beautiful marriage plan" Pao Yu completely lost his 
self-control. In a sudden fit of passion he tore the spirit stone from his 
neck and flung it fiercely to the ground. 

"I will smash you up, accursed thing! Then I shall have peace at 
last!" he cried, beside himself. But the good stone was made of such 
sound material that the fall could not harm it; it did not bear the 
slightest trace of damage. When Pao Yu noticed this he turned round 
and began to look for some hard object with the help of which he could 
smash the stone. 

Black Jade bemoaned his absurd action. "What has that deaf and 
dumb object done to you, that you ill-treat it so? Better ill-treat me!" 
she said. 

Bhck Jade's waiting maids Cuckoo and Snowgoose had already 
witnessed many arguments between their mistress and Pao Yu, but no 
previous discussion had led to so much excitement as this today. In 
their dilemma they fetched Pearl along to help. The first thing Pearl 
did was to try to save the threatened spirit stone. 

"Do not interfere ! " ordered Pao Yu brusquely. "What is it to you if 
I destroy my property?" 

Pearl was startled by the expression of his face as he uttered these 
words. This rage-distorted, livid face! She had never before seen him 
in such a condition. She tried gently to pacify him. 

"Do you not think at all of your cousin's delicate health when you 
rage against her so unkir.dly?" she asked reproachfully, taking him 
gently by the hand. As if to confirm her words, just at that moment 
Black Jade's mental excitement caused her to vomit up the invalid soup 
she had taken shortly before. The maid Cuckoo rushed to help her, 
quickly holding a handkerchief to her mouth. 

"You should not take the little quarrel so much to heart," she said 
to her. "How can you get well .if you vomit up your medicine straight 
away? Do you not see how our little master suffers when you are ill?" 

At the sight of the vomiting Pao Yu himself was overtaken with 
nausea, and bile rose from his stomach. At the same time he was over- 
whelmed with remorse for his violent behavior and with sympathy for 



his poor cousin. His anger had melted away; he was on the verge of 
tears. As he struggled convulsively on the one hand against his tears 
and the other against the inclination to vomit, he was such a picture of 
misery that Pearl was now moved to tears and began to sob loudly. 
And Cuckoo, who was fanning her mistress to cool her, was in her 
turn affected by Pearl, so a sobbing, and sniffing and sighing resounded 
from four directions at the same time, and the whole company was 
howling. Pearl was the first to pull herself together. 

"Look at the silk tassel on your stone which your cousin made for 
you with her own hands!" she said to Pao Yu, forcing herself to smile. 
"Is it not enough of a reminder to you to forget your quarrel and be 
friends again?" Unfortunately, her well-meant words brought about an 
undesired effect. Forgetting her illness, Black Jade jumped up and tore 
from Pearl's hand the amulet with the five-colored cord and the tassel 
which she had made; she seized scissors and began wildly to cut up the 
tassel. Before Pearl and Cuckoo with united strength were able to wrest 
the cord from her, the tassel was already badly damaged with many cuts. 

"Let it alone! After all, he cares nothing for what I took so much 
trouble to make for him ! He can get someone else to make a new tassel 
for him," cried Black Jade, sobbing. 

"Do not take it badly of her! I am to blame with my thoughtless 
chatter," pleaded Pearl apologetically to Pao Yu, as she gave him back 
the cord. 

"Please cut it up as much as you like! I won't ever wear the un- 
lucky thing again," declared Pao Yu coolly, and the quarrel would 
have flared up with new force if Pa Yu's mother and grandmother, who 
had been called to the rescue by his serving women, had not come be- 
tween them just at the right moment. When they entered the two cous- 
ins became silent, while Pearl and Cuckoo furtively scolded one an- 
other, because each believed that the other had called the two Tai tais 
and thereby made the matter worse. 

As the two cousins could not be got to utter a word, the ladies dis- 
charged their anger on Pearl and Cuckoo and reproached them furi- 
ously for not having looked after their master and mistress better and 
been able to prevent the quarrel. Finally, the Ancestress took Pao Yu by 
the hand and led him away with ber. 

The following day, the third of the fifth month, Cousin Hsueh Pan's 
birthday was celebrated. In his honor a great family banquet and a 
theatrical performance were given. All the relatives assembled; only 
Pao Yu and Black Jade were missing. After the happenings of yester- 
day they were not in the humor to attend a banquet or a theatrical per- 
formance. They both excused their absence on the plea of being ill. In 
reality there was nothing wrong with Pap Yu, and Black Jade was al- 

222 



ready recovered from her slight cold. The Ancestress had hoped that 
the two of them would be diverted by the feast and the theatricals and 
forget their resentments. When the grandson and granddaughter did 
not appear as expected she thought with annoyance: "What crime have 
I committed in my former existence that I am being punished with these 
two bad-tempered grandchildren? Scarcely a day passes that they do 
not cause me annoyance and agitation. If they would only wait until 
my eyes are closed and I have drawn my last breath, then, as far as I 
am concerned, they may quarrel and argue as much as they like!" She 
stopped and wiped a few bitter tears from her eyes. The news that the 
Ancestress had shed tears on their account at table moved Black Jade 
and Pao Yu and caused them to relent somewhat. But still, they pre- 
ferred to avoid each other. The one sat in her Bamboo Hermitage and 
sobbed her sorrow to the wind; the other sat in his Begonia Courtyard 
and sighed his grief up to the moon. Although separated physically, 
they were together at heart. On the one side Pearl urgently exhorted 
Pao Yu to make it up again. 

"Have you not over and over made peace when there were quarrels 
among the servants?" she asked. "And today you yourself cannot man- 
age to calm a little girl's heart ! The day after tomorrow, the day of the 
Dragon Boat Festival, are you going to persist in your waywardness 
and spoil the festival for the old Tai tai? Give in and beg your cousin's 
pardon, so that the quarrel may have an end!" 

On the other side the waiting maid Cuckoo lectured Black Jade: 
"You should not have been so furious. You know his tender spot bet- 
ter than others do. After all, it's not the first time that he has got into 
a state on account of the stone." 

"What do you mean by 'furious'? It seems to me that you are taking 
sides against me," remarked Black Jade irritably. 

"Why did you have to vent your anger over the tassel? By that you 
incurred seven-tenths of the blame. He had such good intentions 
towards you, but you grieve him with your exaggerated suspicions." 

Black Jade was just going to reply when there was a knock at the 
outer gate. 

"The young master!" shouted Cuckoo joyfully when she had peeped 
out. "He must be coming to apologize to you." 

"Do not let him in on any account!" 

"Do you want to do him harm again? We cannot possibly leave him 
standing waiting in the heat of the sun!" 

And already she had hurried out. She opened the gate end let Pao 
Yuin. 

"So there you are! I thought you would never find the way to our 
door again!" she said jokingly. 

223 



"And why not? Why should one take everything so tragically!" he 
replied, falling in with her lighthearted tone. "And if I were dead, my 
spirit would come to visit your little mistress not once but a hundred 
times a day. How is she today?" 

"Physically, she is well, but her heart is not yet quite calm and in 
order." 

"I can well believe that," he said smiling, as he walked into the liv- 
ing room. He found Black Jade lying on the divan crying again. 

"Are you quite well again, Mei mei?" he asked kindly. She wiped 
away her tears, but remained silent. He sat down on the edge of the 
couch and continued brightly: "I know you are not angry with me at 
all. But if I am never seen with you, the others may think that we have 
quarrelled and that you are really angry with me, and then they would 
interfere and want to lecture us. I think we could spare ourselves this 
annoying interference from outsiders. If you have anything against me, 
blame me, quarrel with me, hit me! Only do, not ignore me!" 

During his speech he had used the terms "dearest Mei mei" and 
"best Mei mei" at least a dozen times. From the remark that other peo- 
ple need not interfere in their affairs, Black Jade understood that he 
felt specially near and intimate with her. This filled her with secret 
joy and unsealed her lips. 

"You need not come here at all. You only want to annoy me. I at 
any rate will take care not to come too near you. The best thing is for 
me to go away altogether," she said, still seemingly quite irreconcilable. 
But he did not let himself be intimidated. 

"Where will you go, then?" he asked blithely. 

"Home." 

"I'll go with you." 

"And what if I die soon?" 

"Then I will become a monk." 

"Indeed? You used to declare that you also would die in that case. 
One can see from that that your talk isn't to be taken at all seriously. 
Besides, you have other cousins. Will you become a monk every time 
^one of them dies? If so, you will have to multiply yourself. What if I 
tell them of your praiseworthy intention?" 

He realized that his statement had been rather silly. He thought of 
Precious Clasp and blushed. What a good thing it was that no one else 
was present! There was a long, embarrassed pause in the conversa- 
tion. At last she tapped him lightly in a significant way on the fore- 
head with her finger. 

"You . . ." she began, but could not continue. Instead, she took out 
her handkerchief and wiped her eyes. His eyes became tearful too, and 
as he had forgotten his handkerchief he passed his silk sleeve over the 

224 



moist lids. She noticed it and without a word handed him one of her 
own handkerchiefs. Touched by this service of love, he clasped her 
hand tenderly and said: "Enough of tears! My five entrails are already 
torn asunder from all this howling. Come, let us go to the old Tai tai 
together." 

Black Jade pushed his hand away. 

"Leave off this coarse caressing! You are growing older every day. 
When will you learn to behave yourself at last?" 

The voice of Phoenix was heard outside. Startled, the *wo cousins 
separated hurriedly. 

"Now, are you friends again?" asked Phoenix, laughing. "The old 
Tai tai has been grieving up to the heights of heaven about you. She 
sent me here to see if everything is all right. At first I did not want to 
come, and I said to her that by the end of three days you would have 
made it up yourselves, but she got angry at that and gave me a great 
scolding. And so I am here. Why are you two not to be seen? What has 
happened to you again? Must you quarrel every three days? The older 
you grow the more you fly into passions like children. And now come 
to the old Tai tai with me to assure her that all is well." 

She took Black Jade by the hand and .drew her out with her. Black 
Jade turned round and called for her waiting maids, but both maids 
had disappeared. 

"Why do you need them? My maids are at your disposal, but let us 
not delay!" urged Phoenix and dragged the resisting Black Jade with 
her. Pao Yu followed behind, and so all three arrived at the home of 
the Ancestress. 

"Now, was I not right?" said Phoenix cheerfully. "I did not have 
to interfere at all; they had already made it up themselves. They had 
asked each other's pardon and were sitting together quite peacefully, 
chatting and joking and affectionately clawing each other like an 
eagle and a female hawk sitting on the same hunting ring." 

The Ancestress and all present had to laugh heartily at the odd com- 
parison. Black Jade sat down by the side of the Ancestress^ she felt 
rather embarrassed by Cousin Precious Clasp's presence and did not 
open her mouth. Pao Yu apologized to Precious Clasp for having been 
unable to make his birthday kowtow to her brother and bring a pres- 
ent, owing to not being well, but he would make up for the omission 
later. Then he wanted to know why she was not at the theatrical per- 
formance. 

"I saw two pieces, and then I could not endure the heat any longer, 
so I sneaked off," replied Precious Clasp. 

Pao Yu wanted to make some reply. Involuntarily, his attention 
was caught by Precious Clasp's plump white arm, which he had re- 

225 



cently seen when she took off a gold bangle for him to look at more 
closely. And it came into his mind how Precious Clasp generally went 
by the nickname of "Courtesan Yang," because that celebrated Im- 
perial courtesan of the T'ang dynasty is the only plump lady the 
Chinese gallery of famous beauties has to show. So, in order to say 
something, he remarked jocularly: "I am not surprised that people al- 
ways compare you with the Courtesan Yang, for she also was somewhat 
plump and sensitive to heat." 

His remark greatly annoyed Precious Clasp. She got red and sought 
for a long time for a suitable reply. At last she gave two short dry 
laughs and remarked derisively: "If I am so very like the Courtesan 
Yang, it is really a pity that I lack the suitable cousin, a second Yang 
Chung. He was certainly a fine fellow!" 

It was painful to Pao Yu to have once more laid himself open to 
correction by a cousin on account of a thoughtless remark, and this 
time, moreover, before everyone, whereas Black Jade had only cor- 
rected him when they were alone just now. Black Jade, who had been 
secretly pleased at the apt if somewhat crude faux pas which he had 
just perpetrated at the expense of Precious Clasp, and was sorry to see 
him writhing with embarrassment, decided to come to his help. 

"Which play have you seen, then?" she asked turning with a smile 
to Precious Clasp. 

"It was called 'The Tyrant Li Kwei Abuses Sung Chiang and Lator 
Admits His Injustice' or something like that,", replied Precious Clasp 
coolly. 

"You are so well versed otherwise in ancient and modern literature 
and yet you do not know the short popular title of this piece," con- 
tinued Black Jade, derisively. "As everyone knows, it is called simply 
'A Visit of Petition with the Rod.' " 

"Yes, very well, let it be 'A Visit of Petition with the Rod'! You, of 
course, are so well educated and so learned that you must know it too. 
I really did not know anything until now about a visit of that kind," 
replied Precious Clasp sharply, and she noted with satisfaction the 
embarrassment which the sudden blushes on the faces of Pao Yu and 
Black Jade distinctly betrayed. Her stab had hit the mark. Of those 
present, a fourth person had understood the import of Precious 
Clasp's words, and that was Phoenix; and she hastened to clear the 
uneasy atmosphere with a pleasant joke. 

"Is anyone here chewing green ginger on account of the heat?" she 
asked unexpectedly. 

Everyone answered the cryptic question in the negative. 

I jusMhought there might be, there is such a sharp and 
biting smell here," she said, pretending surprise arid making a comic 

226 



face. Precious Clasp burst out laughing, and the others laughed with 
her, although most of them did not know why. The tension had been 
broken, and the company dispersed in merry mood. When Precious 
Clasp had gone off with Phoenix, Black Jade remarked with a smile 
to Pao Yu: "Now are you convinced that other people can have wick- 
eder tongues than I? Compared with them I am positively shy and 
harmless!" 

He found the one just as bad as the other, so he left Black Jade stand- 
ing there and ran off. 

CHAPTER 23 

A lost unicorn amulet causes Little Cloud to expose her bare head to 

the fierce sun. Gold Ring cannot get over the insult she suffers and 

seeks the death of honor. 

ON THE FOLLOWING DAY AFTER THE MIDDAY MEAL IN THE RESIDENCE 

of the Ancestress, when everybody, employer and servant alike, was 
taking a midday rest on account of the stupefying heat, and even the 
birds in the trees and bushes were silent with exhaustion, Pao Yu strode 
slowly through the back gardens and grounds of the western palace, 
his hands behind his back. After walking through the western corridor 
pavilion he came past the self-contained dwelling of Phoenix and on 
to the home of his mother. Here also the noonday silence reigned over 
all. Passing by several maids who were drowsing over their needlework, 
he arrived at the living room of the Tai tai. She was lying asleep on 
a divan of matting. The waiting maid Gold Ring was leaning against 
the end of the divan, with her legs stretched out limply, dozing. 

Pao Yu slipped quietly up to her and plucked at her earring. "Are 
you so tired?" he whispered. Gold Ring blinked at him sleepily, pointed 
to the door with a smile, and shut her eyes again. But Pao Yu did not 
move from her side. When he had furtively ascertained that the Tai tai 
was really asleep, he pulled out of his belt pouch a tube of damp, sticky, 
perfumed cinnamon paste, squeezed out a little ball, and pushed it be- 
tween the maid's lips. She liked it and swallowed it down without open- 
ing her eyes. He took hold of her hand. 

"Look .here, shall 1 ask the Tai tai to give you to me?" he asked, 
quietly. She remained silent 

"As soon as the Tai tai wakes up, I shall ask her for yofi," he con- 
tinued. Gold Ring opened her eyes and looked at him, smiling. 

"You are in a mighty hurry! What about having Lamb's Fleece? If 
you go into the little eastern garden you can take her by surprise with 
Master Chia Huan." 

228 



"They may enjoy themselves for all I care. I want you!" He had 
scarcely finished speaking when the Tai tai suddenly stood up and 
dealt the waiting maid a vigorous slap on the face. 

"Abandoned creature! I shall just show you! Trying to seduce my 
son!" she scolded. 

Pao Yu had flown out like a streak of smoke the instant the Tai tai 
had stirred. While Gold. Ring rubbed her burning cheek in bewilder- 
ment, not daring to open her mouth, several waiting maids and serving 
women came rushing in, ready to serve. The Tai tai turned to Nephrite 
Bangle, the younger sister of the girl whom she had just rebuked. 
"Tell your mother that she is to take your sister out of the house this 
very day!" she said. Gold Ring threw herself on her knees and with 
tears and kowtows implored her enraged mistress to be merciful. 

"Hit me, beat me, but do not turn me out!" she implored. "I have 
already been serving you honorably for ten years. I could not survive 
the shame of being driven away in the end!" But the Tai tai, who was 
usually so kindhearted, and had never been in the habit of beating 
her maids, would not be softened this time, and that very day poor 
Gold Ring had to leave the house in disgrace. 

The next day, the fifth of the fifth month, the Dragon Boat Festival 
was celebrated. Reeds and wormwood were placed over the doors, and 
everyone wore amulets and magic charms and spells. Madame Cheng 
gave a family banquet at midday, but nobody was in a really festive 
mood. Madame Cheng was still out of humor on account of the un- 
pleasant incident of yesterday when she had caught Pao Yu with Gold 
Ring, and she ignored Pao Yu intentionally. Phoenix, who had been 
told of the matter by Madame Cheng the evening before, also showed 
her displeasure and, contrary to her usual manner, was neither talkative 
nor inclined to laugh. Pao Yu was still suffering from the effect of the 
painful snubbing to which his cousins Precious Clasp and Black Jade 
had subjected him yesterday and did not venture to enter into con- 
versation with them, and his bad-tempered silence infected them in 
turn. And so the banquet proved a most strained and tedious affair and 
everyone was relieved when it was over, but particularly Black Jade. 
At no time was she very keen on social gatherings. The more pleasure 
people find in merry parties, the more keenly do they feel their cold 
and forlorn state when these parties are over; hence it is best to avoid 
such social gatherings altogether. Thus she philosophized. She thought 
of the flowers, whose fading was all the more painful the more one 
had enjoyed their blooming, and she felt it would have been better 
had they never bloomed. And so her face was mournful when other 
people had happy faces, and vice versa. 

Luckily, the arrival of Little Cloud next day brought life and merri- 

229 



ment into the house. All the cousins were just assembled for the mid- 
day meal at the home of the Ancestress when she arrived. The young 
people jumped up to meet her and overwhelmed her with all sorts of 
questions. They had not seen her for a month, and of course there was 
plenty to relate. 

"Will you not make your clothing more comfortable on account of 
the heat?" suggested the Ancestress. 

Little Cloud stood up and took off the outer layer of her drapery. 
And with this the conversation turned to Little Cloud's cleverness in 
disguising herself. 

"Don't you remember that time that she put on Pao Yu's coat and 
shoes and put his forehead band round her head?" asked Precious 
Clasp, laughing. "She looked so like him that when the old Tai tai 
came in and saw her back as she stood over there by the armchair, she 
was deceived and said to her: 'Pao Yu, come here and look at the 
crystal chains on the ceiling lamps! They are quite covered with 
smoke and dull the light.' But Little Cloud did not-stir from the spot. 
And how we laughed!" 

"Yes, she dresses up splendidly as a boy," added the Ancestress. 

"That is nothing for her!" continued Black Jade. "Do you remember 
that snowy day in the first month of last year when she secretly put on 
the old Tai tai's new red monkey -hair cloak? It was so long and wide 
for her that she had to tie it up around her hips with two scarves. She 
played snowballs wildly around the garden with the maids, finally 
stumbling over a ditch and tumbling down full length in the snow, and 
everyone thought it was the old Tai tai." 

The whole company broke out into merry laughter at the memory 
of this. 

"Where on earth is Cousin Pao Yu?" inquired Little Cloud. 

"Of course she is only thinking of the naughty companion of her 
youthful pranks; she has no thought for us others, she is incorrigible," 
said Precious Clasp jokingly. Thereupon Pao Yu came along and 
greeted the visitors joyfully. 

"He has something nice for you!" Black Jade whispered to her. 

"Something nice for me?" asked Little Cloud, incredulously. 

"It is true, you can believe it," Pao Yu assured heri "How big you 
have grown, Little Cloud!" 

"You should not call each other by your first names any more," his 
mother rebuked him. "The old Tai tai does not wish it. You are no 
longer the children you used to be." 

"How is your Pearl?" asked Little Cloud. 

"Very well. Thank you for your kind inquiry." 

"I have brought her something." 

230 



She produced a little polished box, in which were four rings. In the 
red stone of each ring a name was engraved. 

"You have given us presents like that in the past!" cried Black 
Jade, disappointed. "I was expecting you to produce some novelty, but 
you are not very ingenious. You certainly do not take much trouble 
to think up something new." 

"Oh, please, but on the other hand the presents are very practical," 
said Little Cloud in self-defense. "For Pearl, Mandarin Duck, Gold 
Ring, and Little Ping a suitable ring for each of them, so that one 
can distinguish them. Otherwise one can hardly tell all the waiting 
maids and other maids apart. Now, is it not practical?" 

"Extremely practical!" they all agreed, amused. 

"How she can talk! She's never at a loss for an answer," said Pao 
Yu, smiling. 

"She has no conversatior , but on the other hand she wears a golden 
unicorn like a certain other person," Black Jade interrupted sharply, 
and went out. Luckily, her remark had been understood only by Pao 
Yu and Precious Clasp; it was received by her with an understanding 
smile, and by him with an embarrassed one. Precious Clasp also got 
up and went to join Black Jade. 

"Refresh yourself with a cup of tea and a snack, and rest a while! 
Then later you can greet your sister-in-law and play in the park," sug- 
gested the Ancestress to her granddaughter. Little Cloud took her ad- 
vice, and after she had greeted Phoenix and the Widow Chu she set 
out for the Park of Delightful Vision escorted by a swarm of serving 
women and waiting maids. Shortly before reaching Pao Yu's dwell- 
ing, the Courtyard of Harmonious Red, she dismissed her retinue, with 
the exception of her own waiting maid, Blue Thread. As they came 
through the rose arbor she noticed something shining like gold lying 
on the ground. She told her maid to pick it up, and she examined it 
with curiosity. It was an amulet in the shape of a golden unicorn, very 
like her own, only somewhat bigger and more finely worked. She took 
it in her hand and observed it thoughtfully. 

How odd! Where can this thing have come from? I have never 
noticed it on anyone in the house, she thought. While she was still 
pondering, Pao Yu appeared. 

"Look here, why are you two standing there. in the strong sun? Why 
not come in and greet Pearl?" he asked. 

"We are just going to her," said Little Cloud, quickly hiding her 
find. The three of them went into the Begonia Courtyard together. 
Pearl was sitting on the steps in a shady corner in front of the en- 
trance, leaning against the balustrade and fanning herself to get cool. 

232 



She stood up, went to greet Little Cloud and her maid, and led them by 
the hand into the house. 

"I have been expecting you for a long time. I have something nice 
to show you," said Pao Yu to his cousin, beginning to rummage and 
search in his pockets. 

"Have you put the thing away?" he asked, turning in embarrass- 
ment to Pearl, after searching for a long time. 

"What thing do you mean?" asked Pearl. 

"The gold unicorn amulet which I recently got as a present." 

"You always carry it about with you. I have no idea where it is." 

"Then I must have lost it outside. Come, help me to look for it!" 

He was about to rush out to the park but Little Cloud held him 
back and showed him her find, with a smile. 

"Is this it?" 

He seized it with delight. 

"You found it?" 

"Oh, how can one be so careless! Luckily, it was only a trinket this 
time, but if you should lose your stone the next time, it might be a 
great misfortune." 

"Oh, the loss of my stone would not trouble me at all. But this ar- 
ticle, which you call a trifle, is irreplaceable; its loss would mean death 
to me." 

Little Cloud bent blushing over the teacup which Pearl had passed 
to her. Then the conversation turned to other things. In the midst of 
the happy chattering a servant of Mr. Cheng's arrived and announced: 
"Master Yu Tsun from the Street of Blooming Prosperity has come to 
visit. The old master asks the young gentleman to come over to salute 
the guest." 

Pao Yu's good humor was instantly over. 

"Is it not enough if the old man receives him? Why must I be there?" 
he murmured ungraciously, while he slowly made himself ready for the 
visit. 

"How can one loiter so long when the old gentleman calls one!" 
cried Little Cloud, dealing him a rap with her fan by way of en- 
couragement. 

"Ah, it is not my old governor who has expressed a wish to see me, 
but this Master Yu Tsun himself." 

"It is all the more flattering for you w*\en such a very distinguished 
gentleman shows interest in you. He will certainly use his influence for 
you. That can only be to your advantage." 

"Pah! What do I care about patronage and knowing distinguished 
people? I am an average person and do not want anything more than 
to be a human being among other human beings." 

233 



"You are quite incorrigible! After all, you are growing up. Have 
you no special ambition? Are you not thinking at all of your future? 
If you want to pass your State examinations, you must seek the ac- 
quaintance of serious people and future ministers in good time. Their 
conversation is profitable to you, and their friendship will ensure you 
patronage later on. Being always in the company of girls will not get 
you on ! " 

"Would you be sc kind as to go to your cousins' apartments, young 
lady! I would not wish that a serious person like you should be morti- 
fied by a sojourn in my unworthy dwelling," said Pao Yu, his tone 
suddenly grown gruff. Pearl surreptitiously plucked Little Cloud by the 
sleeve. 

"He does not like anyone to bring up this subject," she said to her 
in a low voice. "Recently he simply ran away when Miss Precious 
Clasp began to speak of it. It was lucky that it was Miss Precious Clasp, 
for she did not take it badly. If it had been Miss Black Jade, oh, then 
there would have been a nice scene ! She would not have looked at him 
again until he had admitted his wrong with all formality and had 
begged for pardon." 

"She is not capable of such a lack of good taste, otherwise I would 
have broken with her long ago," interjected Pao Yu emphatically. 

Just by chance Black Jade was a witness to his last remark. She knew 
that Little Cloud had set out for the Begonia Courtyard, she presumed 
that Pao Yu would show her the counterpart to her .gold unicorn amulet 
and in doing so would introduce all kinds of affectionate allusions, as 
was his way, and she had therefore crept along secretly to listen for 
a bit under the window. She had just arrived in time to hear Little 
Cloud recommending him to cultivate the acquaintance of serious men. 
So when he declared emphatically that she, Black Jade, was not capable 
of such lack of good taste in conversation, she felt simultaneously moved 
by four sensations joy, fear, pain, and regret. She was joyful at not 
being disappointed in his love and his noble-mindedness; she was 
frightened at his acknowledging his preference for her so openly before 
people; she thought with pain of how alone she was in the world since 
the death of her parents, and how she had no one to confide in regard- 
ing matters of the heart. And she had to sigh regretfully because she 
was wasting away with a malady which would not give her much time 
to wait, no matter how sure she might feel of his love. She was over- 
come with grief at the frightening presentiment that she might die too 
soon to experience the f ulfillment of her wish. Her eyes filled with tears 
and she went away again slowly. 

Meantime Pao Yu had finished dressing, and when he went into the 

234 



park he came upon Black Jade and noticed traces of tears on her 
cheeks. 

"Where are you going, Mei mei? You have been crying? Has anyone 
offended you?" he asked tenderly. Black Jade forced herself to smile. 
"Crying? I did not know it." 

"But I still see the traces of tears!" 

He raised his hand and tried to wipe a few damp spots on her cheek 
with his finger. She recoiled two steps. 

"Do not trouble yourself! You are again ready to die, are you not?" 
she said, derisively. 

"Why not?" 

"It's nothing to me. But would it not be difficult to part from a cer- 
tain gold unicorn amulet?" 

"What do you mean by that? Do you want to drive me into a rage 
again?" he burst out hotly. 

She saw that she had offended him. 

"It was only my chatter," she said, quickly changing her tone. "But 
do not get so excited! The veins on your forehead are all swollen up 
with anger! And how you are perspiring!" 

She went up close to him and wiped the perspiration from his face 
with her handkerchief. He submitted to it and looked at her fixedly for 
a long time. 

"Be quite reassured!" he said at last. 

"Reassured? About what?" 

He gave a deep sigh. 

"Are you pretending, or do you really not understand me? Can I 
have been so much deceived in you all the time that you do not guess 
my innermost thoughts? If that is so, our daily misunderstandings are 
not surprising." 

"I really do not know what you mean by saying that I should be re- 
assured." 

"Dearest Mei mei, please do not pretend ! You must know. You make 
your illness worse by your constant worrying." 

His reference to her suffei ng condition hit her like a thunderbolt. 
How correctly he felt what she herself had realized shortly before \vith 
secret fear! She had so mucu more on her mind which she wanted to 
say, but she could not utter a word. The tears sprang to her eyes, and 
with a stifled "Oh" she turned away. He ran after her and took her by 
the hand. 

"Dearest Mei mei, do stay for a while! I have something more to say 
to you." 

"I know everything," she said gently, then freed herself arid ran off. 

He stood where he was and went on talking to himself as in a trance. 

235 



"Dearest Mei mei, up to now I have not dared to disclose to you what 
touches my heart to the core, but today I feel the courage in me, and I 
will speak, even if I have to pay for my impudence with my death. Do 
you know that I also am ill, ill on your account, and I will not get well 
again until you are well. Dreaming and waking, I am always thinking 
only of you. . . ." 

"You must be completely possessed by wicked spirits! Hurry up! 
They are waiting for you!" He was brought back from his ecstasy by 
the voice of Pearl. Pearl had run after him to bring him the fan he had 
forgotten, and had been listening for quite a while with growing aston- 
ishment to his soliloquy. In his withdrawn state he had not noticed her 
approach. 

"Ah, it's you!" he now burst out, startled, took the fan, and hurried 
off. Pearl looked after him for a while thoughtfully. It was clear to her 
that the confession of love which she had just heard could only refer to 
Black Jade. What would become of herself, Pearl, later on? While she 
stood there sunk in thought Precious Clasp came along. 

"What is Cousin Pao Yu up to?" she called out to the maid. "I have 
just seen him all dressed up rushing to the park gate with long strides." 

"The old Governor has sent for him." 

"Oh, woe, no doubt another fatherly reprimand. The poor boy!" 

"No, it is not that. He is to greet a guest." 

"Is Little Cloud in there?" 

"Yes." 

"What is she doing?" 

"Oh, we have just been chatting a bit." 

""I am sorry for the poor girl. Things are not going very well at home. 
She admitted to me that she often sits up late at night doing needle- 
work." 

"Oh, I am sorry for that. And I, stupid thing, was just about to ask 
her for a new pair of hand-embroidered slippers. I was surprised that 
recently she sent me back half finished a piece of embroidery a butter- 
fly-patterned cloth that she had promised to do for me. She excused 
herself, saying that she would finish it at her next visit here. Under 
these circumstances one cannot, of course, expect her to do any more 
needlework. It's a pity; now I must go without my slippers." 

"It is not as bad as that. I shall make a pair for you." 

"Really? Oh, that is fine; then I shall bring you the material this 
evening." 

While they were chatting a serving woman came along gasping in the 
greatest excitement and called out to them: "Do you know that Gold 
Ring has jumped into the well and drowned herself!" 

"But why?" asked Pearl, horrified. 

236 



"Just recently she was suddenly dismissed and sent home by the Tai 
tai Cheng, no one knows why. She could not get over it, and she sat 
about at home the whole day crying. Then she suddenly disappeared. 
Finally they found her body in the well when they were drawing water. 
They tried to bring her to life again, but it was too late." 

"Why can she have drowned herself? It's strange!" said Precious 
Clasp thoughtfully, while Pearl shook her: head in silence and wept. 
Precious Clasp went off at once to Aunt Cheng, to hear more details. 
She found the Tai tai alone, in tears. She sat down beside her without 
speaking. 

"Where have you come from?" asked Aunt Cheng. 

"From the park." 

"Did you see your cousin Pao Yu?" 

"Yes, at a distance. He was in visiting dress and seemed to be in a 
hurry." 

"Have you heard that Gold Ring has drowned herself in the well?" 
continued Madame Cheng, with a deep sigi 

"I heard about it. Why did she do it?" 

"She broke something in my room recently and I dismissed her in 
anger. I intended to take her back again in a few days. Who would 
have thought that she would take it to heart like that and immediately 
jump into the well! I am beside myself and am reproaching myself 
bitterly." 

"You should not do that, dear Aunt," said Precious Clasp consol- 
ingly. "After all, you were always so good to her! She has certainly not 
taken her life on account of that. I believe it is more likely that she fell 
into the well by accident, but if she really threw herself in on account 
of such a trifle that would be such a foolish thing that one really should 
not feel sorry for her." 

"It may be as you think. But in any case her death grieves me to the 
core." 

, "Do not take it so much to heart! Send her relatives a little indem- 
nity! Then you will have done your duty and made restitution, and 
complied with the obligations of a mistress to her servant." 

"I have already sent her family fifty taels. I really wanted to give her 
a beautiful new funeral robe and thought to take something from my 
daughter's wardrobe, but she has already worn all her dresses once. 
And to put a dress which has been worn on a corpse in a coffin is con- 
trary to the Rites. There is nothing for fne to do but to send fox a tailor 
to come to the house." 

"Why bother so much? Surely the money puts everything right?" 

"No, the dead girl was particularly dear to me almost like a daugh- 
ter," said Aunt Cheng significantly, beginning to weep again. 

237 



"Very well, then, I shall help you out from my wardrobe. 1 have two 
dresses which I have hardly ever worn at all and can do without. The 
dead girl shall have them. She was my size and often wore my old 
clothes." 

"That is very nice of you. But are you not afraid? You say you have 
already worn the two dresses yourself?" 

"Oh, I disregard those superstitious rules," replied Previous Clasp 
merrily, jumping up. When she came back later to Aunt Cheng with the 
two dresses for the dead girl, she found Pao Yu in the room. He 
looked as if he had been crying. When she entered, mother and son 
suddenly stopped talking. Precious Clasp thought she knew to seven- 
or eight-tenths what they were talking about; she did not let it be no- 
ticed, however, and silently delivered the two dresses which Aunt 
Cheng later on presented to the mother of Gold Ring. 

CHAPTER 24 
The degenerate offspring experiences the pain of a paternal flogging. 

AND so MADAME CHENG GAVE TWO BURIAL ROBES TO GOLD RING'S 
mother, together with several buckles and rings, and also sent a con- 
tingent of bonzes to her house to celebrate a solemn requiem for the 
deceased at her expense. 

At the news of Gold Ring's voluntary death Pao Yu felt all his five 
intestines torn with pain. He had to submit to a stern lecture from his 
mother. Then when Precious Clasp came in he went off quickly and 
wandered about his parents' estate aimlessly and quite distraught. As 
he walked about, sighing and thinking, with his eyes on the ground and 
his hands behind his back, without noticing the pathways or the sur- 
roundings, it happened that he ran into his father at the spirit wall in 
front of the large reception hall. Frightened, he stepped aside and 
waited in a humble attitude for' his father to pass by. 

"What on earth is the matter with you?" asked Mr. Cheng severely. 
"Just now, when Mr. Yu Tsun wanted to see you, you kept us wait- 
ing half the day for you. When you showed yourself at last, you sat 
there indifferent and apathetic and did not open your mouth. I observed 
that your depraved thoughts were somewhere else. And now you are 
running around with a mournful face. What does it mean?" 

Normally Pao Yu was not at a loss for a suitable excuse, but this 
time he could think of nothing. The tragic fate of poor Gold Ring 
touched him so deeply that everything else was unimportant to him. He 
would have liked best to follow her to her death. Annoyed at his silence 
and his confused behavior, Mr. Cheng was about to storm at him 

238 






angrily when a servant appeared and announced that a representative 
of the Prince of Chung Shun wished to speak to him. 

"Take him into the reception hall!" he ordered his servant, at the 
same time asking himself, much bewildered, why the Prince, whom he 
hardly knew, should have sent a messenger to him. He left Pao Yu 
standing there and hurried away to salute the visitor. He was the Palace 
Superintendent of the Prince of Chung Shun. 

"I come at the order of my princely master," began the Superintend- 
ent very formally. "The Prince requests your intervention in a certain 
matter, the settlement of which is very important to him." 

Chia Cheng stood up politely. 

"May I ask you kindly to inform me of the princely wishes? I shall 
not fail . . ." 

"For many days my master has missed a young actor named Chi, 
who plays the part of youthful heroines, and whom he values very much 
and is accustomed to seeing every day in the palace. All investigations 
as to his whereabouts have been without result, but in eight of ten 
houses where the boy has been inquired for he received the same in- 
formation, namely, that the young actor has recently been a close friend 
of your esteemed son, the one who was born with a jewel in his mouth. 
As I did not ..ish to intrude into your esteemed house without cere- 
mony, I first of all made my report to the Prince. The Prince declared 
that he would be willing to give up any other actor to your son, but this 
young Chi, whom he finds pleasing in every way, and who is infinitely 
important to him, he cannot do without in any circumstances. He 
therefore politely and urgently requests you to influence your esteemed 
son to relinquish young Chi. It would contribute greatly to placating my 
princely lord' and relieve me personally of the painful task of undertak- 
ing further urgent measures, if you would graciously comply with his 
request," concluded the Superintendent with a polite bow. 

Mr. Cheng sent for Pao Yu without delay. 

"Confounded scamp!" he raged at the completely unsuspecting boy. 
"Is it not enough that you are lazy at home and learn nothing? Must 
you also do outside the house things which outrage heaven? What do 
you mean by seducing this young Chi and taking him away from his 
illustrious master and patron the Prince of Chung Shun? Now the mis- 
fortune has come, and I have to pay for your infamous deeds!" 

"But I know nothing of all this! I do not know this Chi at all," pro- 
tested Pao Yu, frightened. 

"Do not sham, young man!" remarked the Superintendent with a 
frosty smile. "If you have not got him hidden in your quarters, at least 
you know where he is. It would be better for all of us if you would open 
your mouth." 

239 



"I really know nothing," repeated Pao Yu. "I have been falsely 
accused." 

"Oh, indeed? Perhaps I may ask, then, how young Chi's red silk 
handkerchief comes to be in your belt, young man?" 

Pao Yu felt his ears humming and buzzing. To be sure, he had not 
thought of this piece of evidence. If the Superintendent really knew of 
such intimacies, then his denials would be of no avail. 

"Since you are informed of such small details, esteemed sir, then I 
am surprised that the fact of young Chi's recent change of address has 
escaped you," he said as coolly as possible. "As far as I have heard, he 
has recently settled in the eastern suburb, twenty li distant from the 
city walls. The district is called 'Red Sandalwood Stronghold' or some- 
thing like that; he is said to have bought a house and a piece of land 
there." 

The Superintendent's face brightened. 

"I shall lose no time but shall go there at once to satisfy myself. If 
your information tallies, my errand is executed. Otherwise I shall un- 
fortunately have to trouble you again." 

Having said this, he took leave. Mr. Cheng accompanied him to the 
gate, not without having first said sternly to his son: "Do not stir from 
here ! I have something to ask you afterwards." 

At the gate Mr. Cheng met his son Chia Huan, who was running 
along in remarkable haste with several servants. 

"Hi! Where are you going? And what is all the hurry for? You are 
running like a frightened horse!" Mr. Cheng called out to him. 

"I have just come from the well in which our poor waiting maid has 
drowned herself. I have seen the corpse, the swollen head, the inflated 
limbs! Ugh! Such a terrible sight! I have run as quickly as I could, 
just to get away at once," said Chia Huan', shuddering with horror. 

"What? A waiting maid has drowned herself? That is unheard of!" 
cried Mr. Chei*g, dumfounded. "In my house the servants have always 
been treated justly and with kindness. Since the days of my illustrious 
ancestors such a thing has not occurred. Presumably the majordomos 
have misused their authority in my absence. I cannot, after all, look 
after everything myself. But on no account must the news of the regret- 
table occurrence get to the town. The reputation and honor of my house 
are at stake. And now tell me this! What do you know "about how it all 
happened?" And he turned sternly to Chia Huan. The boy fell upon his 
knees. 

"Do not get excited, Father! No one but the Tai tai and her intimates 
know about the story," he began. "As the Tai tai told me . . . 

He stopped and looked furtively around him. The servants who were 
near by understood and stepped back to a proper distance. 

240 



"Recently, when the Tai tai was asleep, brother Pao Yu tried to se- 
duce the waiting maid Gold Ring," he continued in a whisper. "The 
Tai tai punished her by hitting her, and then dismissed her. Gold Ring 
drowned herself through grief because of this." 

His words caused Chia Cheng's face to turn suddenly pale. His com- 
plexion became yellowish, like gold paper. 

"Stir yourselves! Seize the boy!" he ordered his servants, and rushed 
into the library. There several friends of the family were waiting for 
him. 

"If it ever again occurs to any of you to admonish me and persuade 
me to leniency, I shall tear out one by one the last hairs which I still 
have got despite trouble and annoyance, give over to this worthy son of 
mine my cap of office, my belt, and all my possessions, and go into a 
monastery!" he shouted. "Then I shall at last have peace and shall no 
longer be shamed before my ancestors by my unruly offspring." 

The friends of the family, realizing that his outburst of rage was 
directed against Pao Yu, let their tongues hang out of their mouths with 
fright, and deemed it wise to get out of the way as quickly as possible. 
Groaning and snorting, Chia Cheng sank into an armchair. 

"Bring the boy here to me ! Tie him with a rope ! Fetch me the heavy 
cudgel! Lock the doors! Let nobody, under pain of death, dare to run 
to the wome_n's apartments and chatter about what is going on here!" 
Thus ran his various orders, in quick succession. Several of the servants 
obediently went to the great hall to fetch Pao Yu. 

When his father had ordered him, shortly before, not to stir from 
where he was, Pao Yu had already realized the calamity that threatened 
him; but he certainly could not have guessed that in the interval his 
position had been made very much worse by his half brother's talebear- 
ing. Tortured with painful uncertainty, he had been pacing restlessly 
up and down the great hall. If only he could let his mother or his grand- 
mother know! But not one of the servants came within hailing distance. 
Even his personal servant, Ming Yen, was not to be seen. At last he saw 
an old serving woman crossing the courtyard. As overjoyed as if he had 
discovered a precious trea'sure, he dashed out and stopped her. 

"Quick! Run to the Tai tai or to the old Tai tai and tell them that the 
old Governor is going to beat me to death! But hurry up! I'm in ter- 
rible danger!" he said to her. 

Unfortunately, the old serving woman was hard of hearing and only 
understood a fraction of what he was blurting out in the greatest agita- 
tion, and even that fraction she took up wrongly. Instead of Yao Chin, 
"greatest danger," she thought he was saying tiao chin, "jumped into 
the well." 

"Let her jump into the well! You need not worry yourself on that 

241 



account, young gentleman!" she said with a grin. At this Pao Yu re- 
alized that he was speaking to a deaf person. He felt desperate. 
"Run and call my servant here!" he roared at her. 
"Why do you still excite yourself? The family of the dead girl have 
got a nice lump of hush money, and that settled the matter," came the 
delicate answer. Pao Yu broke into a frenzy. He stamped his feet and 
clutched at the air with his hands as if he were seeking some invisible 
support to cling on to. But his excitement was in vain. Now he saw his 
father's servants appearing in the distance. He had to get back to the 
hall as quickly as possible. The servants took him between them and 
brought him to Chia Cheng's library. The distorted features, the rolling 
eyeballs, the red eyelids of his father boded ill. 

Mr. Cheng wasted no words with a lengthy examination. He limited 
himself to an angrily snorted greeting of "Loafer! Tramp! Seducer!" 
and then came the brief order. "Beat him to death !" 

And soon they had him strapped to a bench and began to flog him 
with the heavy bamboo stick. Mr. Cheng seemed to think that the serv- 
ant whom he ordered to administer the beating was doing it far too 
mildly. He stamped his feet in rage, grabbed the stick from the serv- 
ant's hand, and began with all his strength to beat the victim of his pa- 
ternal anger, until he was out of breath and could continue no longer. 
The pampered Pao Yu had never in his life suffered such an experi- 
ence. His first roars of pain soon changed to a dull rattling in his throat 
as his breathing became weaker, and after a short while no further 
sound escaped his lips. He had lost consciousness. In vain the servants 
and some friends of the family who had remained behind, seized with 
compassion, tried to intercede for him; Mr. Cheng refused to be moved. 
"Ask him what he has done, and then judge for yourselves whether 
leniency is called for here," he cried, beside himself. "Formerly I have 
allowed myself too often, alas to be persuaded to leniency and con- 
sideration. Now you can see what that has led to. If I let him off again 
this time, the next thing may be that he will become his own father's 
murderer!" 

The bystanders stood in dumfounded silence and sent a message se- 
cretly to the women's quarters. Very soon Madame Cheng appeared on 
the scene. Upon hearing the alarming news she had rushed along in 
great haste, accompanied by only one waiting maid. When she arrived 
Mr. Cheng was about to continue the flogging which he had interrupted 
only to pause for breath. Her appearance acted upon him like oil on 
fire, and his blows now fell if possible more rapidly and heavily than 
before. Terrified, the Tai tai tried to throw herself in front of him. 

"Get away from me!" he shouted furiously. "The measure is full. To- 
day he has to die!" 

242 



"Let him die! But do you think at all of the old Tai tai?" wailed his 
wife. "As it is, she is not well on account of the hot weather. The death 
of her grandson will break her up completely!" 

"Do not worry ! In begetting and bringing up this degenerate whelp I 
have failed sufficiently in my duty. I have always, alas, allowed myself 
to be talked around by you in the past and have refrained from giving 
him this long-deserved chastisement. But today that is at an end. It is 
better that the young cur should breathe his last now than that htf 
should live to do still greater harm later on." 

With these words he rushed on the boy, who was lying there as if 
dead, intending to strangle him with the free end of the rope with which 
he was bound to the bench. 

Madame Cheng flung herself into his arms screaming: 

"If you are really going to kill him, take the rope and strangle me 
first. I am past fifty, and he is my only son. I cannot hope for another. 
Let me die with him, so that in the Realm of Shades I shall at least hav* 
the support and succor of a son ! " 

And she threw herself, sobbing, over Pao Yu's body. 

Chia Cheng sank with a sigh into the armchair and covered his eyes- 
to hide his emotion. As the mother clasped the body of heiflon she per- 
ceived with horror that his green silk shirt was soaked through with 
blood. She drew out her .handkerchief and tenderly wiped the bloody 
scars which covered his thighs and his whole bottom. This macltf' her 
think of Chia Chu, her first-born, who had died young, and in a loud 
lament she cried: "My son Chia Chu, I would give up a hundred other 
sons to have you still alive. Why did you leave me?" 

In the meantime the news of the incident had spread to the remaining 
women's quarters, and now the other ladies, hurried along one after the 
other the Widow Chu, Phoenix, and the three Spring girls. At the 
mention of her deceased husband, naturally the Widow Chu could not 
refrain from breaking into loud lamentations on her part. This dual 
lament of the women was too much for Chia Cheng, and he also broke 
into violent sobbing. While tears were thus flowing in three directions, 
a maidservant appeared and announced: "The old Tai tai is coming." 

The shuffling of numerous feet was heard outside, and then through 
the open window came the voice of the old Tai tai: "Let him kill me 
first and then the boy; that will at least be a clean sweep!" 

Chia Cheng rushed out, greatly agitated, to receive on the threshold 
the old lady who now entered, gasping and out of breath, supported by 
two maids and accompanied by a swarm of serving women. 

"What drives my mother out into the open air in this heat? Why 
does she not order her son to come to her, if she has something to say 
to him?" asked Chia Cheng, bowing politely. The old Tai tai stood still, 

243 



paused to take breath, and then said with an effort: "I would have had 
something to say, but as a good son has, alas, been denied to me, I do 
not really know to whom I could speak my mind." 
Chia Cheng quickly fell to his knees. 

"Your reproach grieves me beyond words, Mother. I have only given 
my son a lesson. I owed this to the memory of my glorious ancestors." 
"Indeed? To beat to death you call that a lesson? Did your father 
ever give you such lessons?" 

She could not continue to speak; she was weeping too much. 
"Mother, do not take it so much to heart! I admit that I have let 
myself be carried away by anger; I shall never beat him again," he said, 
trying to calm her. The Ancestress laughed dryly. 

"Oh, please, do not restrain yourself on my account! After all, he is 
your son. Ill-treat him as much as you wish! But really, you cannot 
blame us women if we prefer to leave the house under these circum- 
stances. It is better for the sake of peace." 

She gave instructions to her retinue to get the large sedan chair 
ready. 

"I wish to travel to the southern capital at once with the Tai tai and 
my grandson," she declared briefly and definitely. 

"But, Mother, surely you will not do that! I am beside myself!" cried 
Chia Cheng, astounded. 

"It is better that I go; then you can have quietness and need not let 
yourself be talked out of things again by anyone," persisted the Ances- 
tress. And once more she ordered her retinue to pack quickly and get 
ready the carriages and the sedan chairs. Chia Cheng hit his forehead 
on the ground despairingly and acknowledged his guilt, but the Ances- 
tress took no notice of him. Her grandson's pitiable condition absorbed 
all her attention, and she broke out again into violent sobbing. Madame 
Cheng and Phoenix, by their united efforts, succeeded gradually 1 'n 
calming her. Now several waiting maids and serving women began try- 
ing to help Pao Yu to his feet. 

"You stupid creatures, kindly open your eyes!" scolded Phoenix. "Do 
you not see that he cannot walk in that condition? Fetch a stretcher 
quickly!" 

Thereupon, they carried Pao Yu on the stretcher to the home of the 
Ancestress. Chia Cheng joined the procession of women who accom- 
panied him. On the way he had to listen to the ceaseless laments of his 
wife, which cut him to the soul and finally cooled the remnants of his 
anger. He realized that he had gone too far and endeavored once more 
to talk the Ancestress round in a conciliatory way. 

"You should have thought of me before you maltreated the poor boy 
so wickedly! You are a bad son. What do you want here? Do you want 

244 



the further pleasure of looking on at his death? Get out of here! I do 
not wish to see you!" she rebuffed him indignantly. 

Chia Cheng slipped away disconcerted. In the meantime Aunt Hsueh, 
Precious Clasp, Lotus, Black Jade, and Pearl had also arrived on the 
scene. They all pressed around the ill-treated boy and helped to wash 
his burning wounds and to cool him with their fans. But Pearl was long- 
ing to find out the reason for the ill-treatment, so she went out and 
searched for Pao Yu's servant, Ming Yen. 

"Why did you not inform the Tai tai and the old Tai tai in time?" 
she asked him reproachfully. 

"I just happened not to be with him and only heard about it when 
they were in the middle of the Hogging," declared Ming Yen. "There 
were two reasons for the chastisement the matter of the actor Chi, and 
the suicide of Gold Ring." 

"How did the old master get to know of these things?" 

"Hsueh Pan was jealous of young Chi and out of envy spread the 
story of his association with Pao Yu through the town, and so the fire 
ran on until it reached the old master. And as for the matter of Gold 
Ring, apparently Chia Huan has been gossiping. At least I heard that 
just before the flogging he ran across the old gentleman and privately 
whispered something in his ear." 

Pearl kept these things in her heart and returned to the bedside of 
her master to help to nurse him devotedly. 



CHAPTER 25 

The Begonia Club meets in the Hermitage of Clear Autumn Weather. 

The Princess Ancestress entertains the godmother from the country in 

the Park of Delightful Vision. 

I HE TOUCHING SYMPATHY OF HIS TWO COUSINS PRECIOUS CLASP AND 

Black Jade afforded Pao Yu comfort in his sufferings. Precious Clasp 
herself brought him a healing powder which Pearl had to dissolve in 
wine and spread on the injured places. And when, towards evening, he 
woke up, still quietly weeping, out of a light sleep, he found Black Jade 
sitting by his bed and had to promise her that he would get well. She 
had many other things on her heart which she wanted to say to him, but 
unfortunately their short time together was disturbed by the intrusion of 
Phoenix and Madame Cheng, before whom Black Jade quickly fled. 
Soon after she had gone Pao Yu dropped off to sleep once more. When 
he awoke again Pearl put before him the two bottles containing essence 
of olives and essence of roses which his devoted mother had left to 

245 



strengthen him. Pao Yu drank the lightly perfumed drink with great 
relish; then he thought of Black Jade. He felt a great longing for her 
and wanted to see her without fail, but Pearl's presence would be in- 
convenient. Accordingly, under the pretext of wanting her to fetch a 
certain book from Precious Clasp, he first got Pearl out of the way. 
Then he called the waiting maid, Bright Cloud. "Go to Miss Ling and 
see what she is doing!" he ordered her. "If she asks how I am, say I 
am getting on well." 

"But I can't just go up to her like that without any excuse," objected 
Bright Cloud. "Don't you have any message for her?" 

"I cannot think of any." 

"Well, just let me ask her for something or take something to her. 
Then the matter will be correct." 

Pao Yu thought it over. Then he reached out for two handkerchiefs 
which were lying near by and gave them to her. 

"Here. Take these two handkerchiefs to her in my name!" 

"What will she do with these two handkerchiefs, which are no longer 
new? She will be angry and think that you want to make game of her," 
said Bright Cloud doubtfully. 

"Do not worry about that! She will know well what to think about 
it," Pao Yu reassured her with a smile. 

So Bright Cloud took the two handkerchiefs and ran to the Bamboo 
Hermitage. Black Jade was lying in complete darkness, without any 
lamp to light her. Bright Cloud was shown into the bedroom where she 
lay on her bed, sadly daydreaming. 

"Who is that?" she asked. 

"It is I, Bright Cloud." 

"What do you want?" 

"The young master sends you these two handkerchiefs." 

What shall I do with them? thought Black Jade to herself, taken 
aback. 

"Let him keep them or give them to someone else," she said aloud. "I 
have no need for new fancy handkerchiefs." 

'They are not new ones, but used everyday ones." 

Black Jade was still more puzzled; she wondered for a while what the 
reason of this strange gift might be, and then suddenly it became clear 
to her. 

"That is all right; leave them here!" she said quietly. 

Bright Cloud put them down and went away. When she had gone 
Black Jade ordered the lamp to be lighted, ground some Chinese ink on 
the ink-stone, dipped her brush in it, and wrote on the plain handker- 
chiefs three improvised quatrains in which she expressed without any 
shyness or hesitation the secret longings of her lonely maidenhood. 

246 



In the ardor of composition and writing she was overcome with 
feverish excitement, her face burned, and her whole body glowed. She 
got up and stood before the mirror, pushed aside the cotton curtain, 
and looked at herself in the shining glass. The peach-blossom color of 
her cheeks frightened her. Was that only due to her illness? She lay 
down again, put out the lamp, and went to sleep, but her thoughts still- 
remained on the two handkerchiefs which she held clasped in her hand. 

The following morning, urged by longing, Black Jade went off very 
early to the Begonia Courtyard and, hidden by branches and bushes, 
watched from a distance the coming and going there. She saw the three 
Spring girls, and the Widow Chu coming to pay a visit, and later on, 
accompanied by a large retinue, the Tai tai, and the old Tai tai leaning 
on the arm of Phoenix; and after them Princess Shieh, and Aunt Hsueh 
with Cousin Precious Clasp. And she thought to herself how lucky Pao 
Yu was to have so many relatives to concern themselves about him, and 
she pitied herself, the poor forlorn orphan. Thus she stood for a long 
time, spying and watching from her secret observation post, until she 
was tracked down by her maid Cuckoo. 

"Come and drink your medicine, Mistress, and do not let it get cold!" 
the maid warned her. 

"Ah, there's time enough for that. Anyway, it can't make any differ- 
ence to you whether I take my medicine or not." 

"But you must get rid of your bad cough! To be sure, we are in the 
fifth month and the middle of the hot summer, but in spite of that you 
must beware of catching cold. To stand this way on the wet grass early 
in the morning is really unwise. Come and lie down for a while!" 

Black Jade reluctantly took her advice and, leaning on her arm, re- 
turned slowly to the Bamboo Hermitage. As she walked through the 
front garden, where the bamboo branches cast dappled shadows, now 
dark, now pale, on the green mossy ground, she thought involuntarily 
of that passage in "The Play of the Western Pavilion" which describes 
a hidden little glade with its dove-speckled, bluish moss. And with a 
sigh she compared herself ;o the heroine of the famous play. She also 
was unhappy, it is true, but at least she had a mother and a little 
brother by her side; while I, unfortunate one, have neither. Thus she 
thought sorrowfully to herself. The noise of her parrot in the veranda, 
which came fluttering onto her shoulder with a hurried flapping of its 
wings and joyful shrieks, startled her out of her meditation. "Be quiet! 
You frighten me to death and fill my hair with dust!" she said to him. 

The parrot flew back gracefully to its perch and shrieked: "Raise the 
curtain quickly, Snowgoose* the young lady is here!" 

Black Jade stood in front of him, tapped his perch, and asked: 
"Have you had your proper food and drinktoday?" 

. 

247 



The parrot gave a deep sigh, in just the tone that it had learned from 
listening to its mistress, and then recited: 

"I bury the flower petals today; 
They laugh at my foolishness. 
When I die, 
Who will tend my tomb?" 

The maid Cuckoo had to laugh out loud. 

"Just listen, how well he has memorized your own words, Mistress!" 
she cried. 

Black Jade made her take the perch down and hang it on a nail in 
front of the moon window. Then she went inside, took her medicine, 
and sat down by the window. She sat there for a long time, staring at 
the cooling shadows which fell into the room from the bamboo branches 
outside, dappling the floor and the wicker furniture with bluish green 
spots, and gave herself up to her melancholy thoughts. At intervals, for 
a change and to pass the time, she conversed with her parrot, baiting 
him and teasing him, and ardently repeating this or that favorite verse 
to him. 

Thanks to the loving care which surrounded him on all sides, Pao 
Yu's recovery made rapid progress. In order to protect him from fur- 
ther ill-treatment by his father, his grandmother gave instructions that 
she was to be informed at once every time that Mr. Cheng wished to see 
his offspring, whether it was to examine him or to present him to promi- 
nent guests. Then the servants were to give the message in her name to 
Mr. Cheng that Pao Yu was still in urgent need of care ar\d not fit for 
visiting. Pao Yu rejoiced when he heard of his grandmother's instruc- 
tions, for these formal conversations with serious men, these solemn 
formalities, and this troublesome, hurried dressing up in his best clothes 
were exceedingly repugnant to him. And the fact that he was to be free 
ior the present from the dreaded daily morning and evening visits t 
the stern old gentleman relieved him immensely. 

Every morning now he only had to go to his mother and his grand- 
mother to inquire dutifully after their health. Then, for the remainder 
of the day, he could do and behave as he wished. He was able to follow 
his favorite pui suits and his amorous inclinations and enjoy himself 
with cousins and waiting maids to his heart's content. Now and then 
Precious Clasp or Black Jade felt obliged to rebuke him for his frivo- 
lous manner of living, and to exhort him to earnest endeavor. But then 
he would get angry and reply: "It is a pity that even the pure, merry at- 
mosphere of the girls' apartments in this unhappy house is spoiled by 
the dirty, ill-humored gossip of men ! I do not want to hear anything of 
tiresome words such as office, and dignity, and State, and fame! These 
boring things were invented long ago by placf hunters and pedants in 



order to keep stupid, uncouth men in their place. What have gentle, 
innocent girls like you to do with such dull things? It is an ingratitude 
and an offense against kind nature, which has made you for more 
beautiful purposes, if you occupy yourselves with these nasty things:" 

In the end none of his cousins or waiting maids dared to come to him 
with admonitions or suggestions any more. It was just this that he 
esteemed so highly in Black Jade that she had always tactfully spared 
him any unpleasant questioning regarding his calling, or future, or such 
worldly matters. 

Many months passed thus for Pao Yu in pleasant routine and in 
merry company, happy play and eager verse-making in the Park of De- 
lightful Vision. His life became even more pleasant and carefree owing 
to the fact that his father was called away to a distant province as Chief 
Magistrate. 

One day Pao Yu received from his half sister, Taste of Spring, a 
written invitation to take nart in the formation of a poetry circle. He 
set out at the appointed hour for her dwelling, the Hermitage of Clear 
Autumn Weather, where he found all the cousins already assembled. 
There was unanimous enthusiasm for the proposal, and it was decided 
to hold a poetry meeting on the second and sixteenth of each month. 
Each member was to be host in turn and entertain the other members 
with wine and light refreshments. The Widow Chu, who on account of 
her prosaic and practical disposition was not exactly made for poetic 
composition, was entrusted with the business management of the club. 
Greeting of Spring, who excelled in calligraphy, was given charge of 
making the fair, clean copies of all finished compositions, for the' club 
archives. Grief of Spring was appointed judge of rhyming on account 
of her 'skill in making rhymes. Each member received a literary club 
name which occasionally was derived from the name of the place where 
the member lived. The club itself was called Hai tang, or Begonia Club, 
in honor of the two pots of white begonia which Pao Yu had just by 
chance received as a present that day. The begonia was also the theme 
for the first composition at this foundation meeting, for Black Jade had 
insisted that the club should begin its activity at once. On this occasion 
the chairman of the club, the Widow Chu, awarded the first prize to 
Precious Clasp for the depth of feeling which she revealed in her 
poetry. The opinions "had been divided. Other members wanted to 
awaf d the first prize to Black Jade on account of the perfection of form 
of her composition. 

At the next meeting the youngest member, Little Cloud, was to act as 
hostess. At Pao Yu's instigation she had been invited by the Ancestress 
on a long visit again and was living with Precious Clasp. Precious Clasp 

249 



shared the duties of entertaining with her in a sisterly way, and fur- 
nished the table with some baskets of delicate if not exactly expensive 
crabs at her own cost. 

This time the theme was the chrysanthemum, and it was to be treated 
in twelve variations. Following the natural course of, events, the first 
subtheme chosen v/as the motto: "One thinks of chrysanthemums," then 
"One looks for chrysanthemums," "One plants chrysanthemums," 
"Happy observation of the flower," "Chrysanthemums in a vase," 
"Chrysanthemums in song," "Chrysanthemums in pictures," "Ques- 
tions to chrysanthemums," "Thanks to chrysanthemums," "Chrysanthe- 
mums in the shade," and finally "When chrysanthemums dream" and 
"When chrysanthemums die." Little Cloud fastened the list of the 
twelve themes on the garden wall, and every member was permitted to 
pick one or several themes, at choice. After the compositions had been 
handed in and fair copies made by Greeting of Spring, they were sub- 
jected to a scrupulous examination by the Widow Chu. She crowned as 
the three best works in order of merit the poems "Chrysanthemums in 
song," "Questions to chrysanthemums," and "When chrysanthe- 
mums dream." The Princess of the Bamboo Hermitage was announced 
as the author of all three compositions. This was Black Jade's club 
name. 

It just happened that that same day Godmother Liu from the coun- 
try arrived on a visit at the Yungkuo palace. The vigorous old peasant 
woman was a distant relative of Madame Cheng and had been to visit 
once before, three years ago. She brought with her as presents some 
bags full of dates, melons, gourds, and various other country produce. 
Actually, she had only come to visit Madame Cheng and Phoenix, but 
when the Ancestress heard of her arrival and was told of her jolly dis- 
position, she expressed a wish to make the acquaintance of this god- 
mother from the country. 

"You should deem yourself lucky; the old Tai tai wishes to make 
your acquaintance," the wife of the majordomo Chou Jui, who had 
escorted her in and announced her, told the visitor. "Come and follow 
me!" 

"But I cannot possibly let myself be seen in this poor peasant attire!" 
objected Godmother Liu, horrified. "Go and tell the old Tai tai that I 
have gone home already." 

"Do not worry!" the other reassured her, laughing. "Our old Tai tai 
is goodness itself and kind and generous to simple people. The waiting 
maid Little Ping will take you to her." 

Trembling and hesitant, Godmother Liu followed the waiting maid 
Little Ping into the living room of the Ancestress. Pao Yu and the 

250 



young ladies from the Park of Delightful Vision were gathered there 
too. Godmother Liu was quite dumfounded by all the splendor of the 
garments and the glitter of the jewels and needed a little time to collect 
herself. She noticed a dignified old lady reclining on a divan in the 
midst of the beautifully dressed young people. That must certainly be 
the Ancestress, she thought. She bowed as low as her old bones would 
allow her to, and said solemnly: "I wish the old Bodhisattva a long life 
of peace!" 

The Ancestress replied kindly to her exuberant greeting and asked 
her to sit down. 

"How old are you now, Cousin?" asked the Ancestress. 

"Seventy-five," replied the old woman, standing up briskly. 
""So you are older than I am! See how healthy and strong she has re- 
mained!" said the Ancestress admiringly, turning towards the bystand- 
ers. ''Who knows how decrepit I may be if I ever reach her years!" 

"There must be distinctions; wise Providence sees to that. Our kind is, 
after all, born for work, the old Tai tai for gentle living. What would 
become of farming without people like us?" said Godmother Liu. 

"Are your teeth and eyes still sound?" the Ancestress asked, con- 
tinuing her inquiries. 

"They are in the best of order. Only a back tooth on the left side has 
become a little loose recently." 

"What a useless creature I am compared with you!" sighed the 
Ancestress. "My eyesight is getting bad, my hearing is weak, my mem- 
ory plays tricks on me. I avoid the company of strangers in order not to 
show my physical weakness. All I do is eat what my shaky teeth allow 
me to, and sleep, and entertain myself with my children and grandchil- 
dren when I need diversion." 

"One can see from that how high you stand in the favor of heaven; I 
wish life were as kind to me!" said Godmother Liu. 

The Ancestress was so charmed by the country simplicity and the 
ingenuity of her visitor that she promptly invited her to remain for a 
few days as her guest. Phoenix saw to it that she had comfortable 
quarters. 

The next day the Ancestress would not let herself be dissuaded from 
personally showing her guest the beauties of the Park of Delightful Vi- 
sion. Here daughter-in-law and grandchildren helped to show her 
around. Godmother Liu could hardly get over her astonishment. 

"We country people have an old custom of hanging up pictures of 
magnificent palaces and parks on the walls of our rooms at New Year," 
she said. "Up to now I always thought that such splendors existed only 
in the imagination of the painters, but now I see that here in this splen- 
did park everything is even more beautiful than in our pictures. 1 wish 

252 



I "ould take pictures of this park home with me to show to my people 
in the country. They would open their eyes in surprise." 

The Ancestress smilingly pointed to her granddaughter Grief of 
Spring, and promised that her artistic hand would produce some beau- 
tiful views of the park for her. The midday meal was taken in the Clear 
Autumn Weather Hermitage, the home of Taste of Spring. Phoenix, 
always ready for a joke, had secretly arranged with Mandarin Duck, 
the favorite waiting maid of the Ancestress, to amuse the company at 
table at the expense of the good lady Liu. Even at gentlemen's dinner 
parties in the Yungkuo palace it was a favorite custom to make a new 
guest at table the object of general anjusement. Accordingly, before the 
meal Mandarin Duck took Godmother Liu quietly aside and informed 
her of various alleged "customs of the house," and instructed her that 
she must keep silent about such and such and say such and such things 
if she was not to cause displeasure and excite laughter. 

Godmother Liu was given her place at the table beside the Ances- 
tress. The waiting maid Mandarin Duck, whose task it was today to pass 
warmed handkerchiefs to the Ancestress from time to time or to chase 
away the flies with a feather duster or to wield a cooling fan upon her 
mistress, had taken up her position behind the Ancestress's back, 
whence she was able to keep an eye on old Liu and give her a surrepti- 
tious wink now and then. 

As soon as they had taken their seats the first thing to be laid before 
the guest was a pair of heavy, old-fashioned, ivory chopsticks with 
golden tops. 

"What shall I do with these heavy things?" Godmother Liu blurted 
out in alarm. "They are even more difficult to manage than our iron 
chopsticks in the country." 

There was suppressed giggling all around. Then the maids brought 
along big serving trays with many different kinds of food in little dishes 
and bowls. Phoenix chose a bowl with dainty pigeons' eggs, which she 
put before the guest. The old Tai tai's saying "please!" politely gave 
her guest a sign to begin the meal. Remembering the instructions she 
had received from Mandarin Duck beforehand, Godmother Liu rose at 
once from her seat and recited the following words loudly and solemnly 
over the table : 

"I am old Mother Liu, 
Into my mouth fits a whole cow. 
A good, fat mother swine, 
I eat alone, and in no time!" 

As soon as she had said her piece, she slapped herself several tim*js 
on the cheeks, sat down again, and silently set about eating her di?h of 
pigeons' eggs. The party were astonished at first at her strange be- 

253 



havior, but they soon guessed that the good old lady was the victim of 
alleged "customs of the house." Soon hearty laughter spread down the 
table. Little Cloud had to splutter out the tea which she had just taken 
in her mouth. Black Jade had to hold on to the edge of the table, she 
was so shaken with laughter. Pao Yu fell on the breast of the Ances- 
tress, and the Ancestress clasped him crying out: "My heart, my liver!" 
her voice stifled with laughter. Madame Cheng, who guessed that the 
originator of the lark was the jester Phoenix, silently threatened her 
with her raised finger. Aunt Hsueh also had to splutter out a mouthful 
of tea, whieh spilled over Taste of Spring's frock. And Taste of Spring 
in her turn spilled the contents of her teacup, which she was holding in 
her hand, over Greeting of Spring's skirt. They were all doubled up 
with laughter. This one and that one slipped out quietly from the table 
to laugh her fill undisturbed outside and put on a clean dress which the 
maid had ready. Only Phoenix and the waiting maid Mandarin Duck 
remained impassive and continued to serve old Liu with dignity and 
kindness, as if nothing had happened, while old Liu herself seemed not 
to have noticed that she was the cause of the general merriment. She 
calmly took the heavy chopsticks in her hand and set to work on the 
pigeons' eggs. 

"Oh, what pretty little hens you must have to lay such dainty little 
eggs as these! I, too, would like to have a specimen of this kind of hen," 
she remarked; and her remark let loose another burst of laughter. 

"These rare eggs cost a good deal of money, too a silver tael each," 
declared Phoenix importantly. "Eat them and do not let them get 
cold!" 

Godmother Liu made a great effort to catch the slippery little things 
between her awkward chopsticks. They scorned her efforts and rolled 
again and again with an audible plop back into the bowl. At last she 
succeeded in getting one close to her mouth. She stretched out her 
neck to snap at it, but at the last moment it escaped from her chopsticks 
and rolled onto the floor. She put down the chopsticks and was about to 
catch the runaway egg with her hand, but a maid got there before her, 
picked up the egg, and put it aside. 

"It's a pity!" sighed Godmother Liu. "One tael apiece, and only to 
look at!" 

"Who gave those heavy chopsticks to our guest!" asked the An- 
cestress reproachfully of those around her. "After all, we are not having 
a solemn banquet today. Of course, it's another nasty trick of aur hob- 
goblin Phoenix! Fetch other chopsticks quickly!" 

They obediently laid a more manageable pair of chopsticks in front 
of the guest. These were made of ebony and mounted with silver. 

"These silver things do not seem to me to be much better than the 

254 



gold ones I've had," muttered Godmother Liu suspiciously. "There's 
nothing like our simple country prongs." 

"The silver tops are there as a protection against poisoning," ex- 
plained Phoenix. "When there is poison in the food the silver becomes 
tarnished, and so one is warned." 

"Oh, my goodness! Can there be poison in such splendid food?" 
Godmother Liu burst out. "Then our food in the country must consist 
of pure arsenic. Now, such poisonous food pleases me very well, and I 
would willingly die eating it." 

The Ancestress was glad to note her good appetite; she had heaping 
portions put before her and even gave her the best bits off her own 
plate. 

After the meal they took a siesta in Taste of Spring's bedroom. The 
waiting maid Mandarin Duck stole along to Godmother Liu's side and 
asked her not to be offended at the tricks they had played on her at 
table. 

"What is there to be offended at?" replied Godmother Liu, laugh- 
ing. "I took part in them of my own free will and play-acted for your 
Ancestress, in order to cheer up her old heart a bit. That was all ar- 
ranged beforehand with Madame Phoenix. When I am really angry I 
am in the habit of keeping my mouth shut." 

When the Ancestress looked out the window, after her siesta, at the 
beautiful group of pine trees in the courtyard in front of the back pleas- 
ure veranda, the wind wafted to her ears the gentle murmur of distant 
music. 

"It sounds like music from a wedding procession. Are we, then, so 
near the street here?" she remarked to those around her. 

"Oh, no. The street is much too far away from here. It is probably 
our dancing girls rehearsing in the Pear Garden," said Madame Cheng. 

"Let them come and rehearse here before us! They will be glad to 
be allowed to walk in the park, and we shall enjoy their art," sug- 
gested the Ancestress cheerfully. 

Phoenix sent at once to tae Pear Garden and was preparing to set 
up an improvised dancing stage composed of tables covered with red 
carpets, in the courtyard. 

"No, not here! Order them to go to the Lotus-Root Pavilion by the 
pond! There is enough room there; and besides, the splashing of the 
near-by waterfalls will make splendid accompanying music. We will 
watch their performance from the bank, and will also take a glass of 
wine in the Damask Kiosk!" said the Ancestress. 

Her suggestion met with unanimous applause. 

"Very well, let us go over!" said the Ancestress, turning and wink- 
ing at Aunt Hsueh. "Our young girls do not like strange visitors to stay 

255 



a long time with them profaning their maidenly apartments. Is that 
not so?" 

"Oh, please do remain here as long as you like!" protested Taste of 
Spring. 

"No, no, two other 'Jades' of grandchildren might be jealous," said 
the Ancestress jokingly, alluding to the sensitive Black Jade and Pao 
Yu. "Now let us have a little drink, and then we shall invade the two 
of them!" 

Laughing and chattering, the company stood up and went to the 
boat-slip near the Duck-Plant Bank. Two boats were already awaiting 
them there, staffed by hired ferrywomen from Suchow, with long 
wooden poles. The Ancestress, Madame Cheng, Aunt Hsueh, God- 
mother Liu, Widow Chu, and Phoenix as well as the two waiting maids, 
Mandarin Duck and Nephrite Bangle, took their seats in the first boat. 
The high-spirited Phoenix sat at the bow and took hold of a pole in 
order to have a hand in running the boat. 

"It's better to leave that alone! Poling is not child's play, it has to 
be learned!" cried the frightened Ancestress from the cabin. "It's true, 
we are not on a huge river here, but the water is deep enough to drown 
one. Be good enough to come in here at once!" 

"I am not the least afraid! The old Ancestress need not worry!" re- 
plied Phoenix, laughing and pushing off vigorously from the bank. In 
the beginning it went well, but when they were in midstream the heavily 
loaded little boat began to toss, and Phoenix became dizzy. She quickly 
gave the pole to the ferrywoman who was standing near by and squatted 
down on the deck boards; otherwise she would have fallen over. Pao 
Yu followed in the second boat with his sister and cousins. The female 
servants ran along the near-by river-bank. Pao Yu was drawing his 
companions' attention regretfully to the many withered lotus leaves, 
and said they should get the gardeners to sweep them up. Precious 
Clasp agreed with him, but once more Black Jade was of a different 
opinion. 

"On the whole I do not think much of the poems of Li Shan," she 
remark-ocT thoughtfully. "But one line of his I find splendid: 'Leave the 
"withered lotus leaves as they are; they make us understand the lament 
of the rain.' " 

"That is definitely a magnificent line," agreed Pao Yu fervently. 
"So let us leave the withered leaves where they are." 

The boats glided into the Sandbank Harbor of Blossoming Purity. 
Shadowy darkness lay over the river-bank, which was densely timbered 
with trees. The withered reeds, the faded green of the water-chestnut 
trees, exhaled autumnal melancholy. Precious Clasp's pavilion was not 
far from the river-bank. The Ancestress decided to pay a visit there in 

256 



passing. A narrow, steep "Cloud Path" led over stone steps up to the 
Jungle Court. In the front garden the visitors' nostrils were assailed by 
a strange, strong perfume. There the wonder plant, the spirit creeper, 
grew, its beautiful fruits peeping forth from under frost -blue foliage, 
and hanging in heavy clusters and tresses like reddish and bluish 
corals. 

On entering the pavilion the Ancestress felt as if she had been ' 
ported to a snow grotto, so drab and inhospitable did the interior ap- 
pear to her. Not a bit of decoration, no curios, and no knickknack 1 :. 
Only on the writing table a simple pottery vase with some chrysanthe- 
mums in it. The green gauze curtain above the bed, the ft-w cushions 
and covers, were of the simplest kind. A few books and tea bowls com- 
pleted the scanty equipment. The Ancestress sighed. 

"Such simplicity!" she said, shaking her head and turning towards 
her attendants. "Everything is lacking here. Why did you not make it 
more attractive for the child? We have everything available in thi 
house! I cannot look after every single thing myself. Mandarin 
must fit up the room with some pretty works of art. You should really 
have seen to this long ago," she said reproachfully, turning to Phoenix. 

"But she attaches no importance to furnishings," replied Phoenix, 
smiling. "She sent me back all the articles I had placed at her dis- 
posal." 

"At home, too, she never thought much of jewelry or trinkets," said 
her own mother, Aunt Hsueh, reassuringly,. 

"It's unbelievable!" said the Ancestress. "Her desire for simplicity 
and economy may indeed be very praiseworthy, but what kind of im- 
pression does such a tasteless room make on visitors? Besides, she is a 
young person who must enjoy lovely things. If the youth are so ab- 
stemious, then we old people should really be contented with a stable. 
Luckily, I have some nice things I can do without, which my grandson 
Pao Yu has not seen yet; otherwise he would have taken them away 
from me long ago."' 

She turned to Mandarin Duck. "Bring the young lady the marble 
bowl with the country scenes, and also the cheval mirror with the 
green silk hangings, and the stone tripod for burning Chinese ink! 
Also change this shabby gauze curtain for the white silk hand-painted 
one!" 

"The articles are stored in the lumber-room in the eastern tower, but 
I do not know which box they are in. It will take some searcliing to find 
them," remarked the waiting maid. 

"'One or two days do not make any difference. But I will not allow 
the matter to be forgotten." 

After a brief delay in the inhospitable Jungle Court thev went on 

257 



to the Damask Kiosk. There the twelve dancing girls from Suchow 
paid their respects and asked what the company wished the program 
to be. 

"Only perform something which you have practiced well," ordered 
the Ancestress, whereupon the troupe of dancers went off to the Lotus- 
Root Pavilion across the pond in order to stage their performance there. 
In the Damask Kiosk a merry drinking party now started with the fa- 
vorite game of improvising rhymes, at which the unrestrained doggerel 
and the peasant coarseness of Godmother Liu, who was proof against 
drink, provided ceaseless merriment. Godmother Liu partook heartily 
of the good wine and the delicious pastries handed around with it, and 
fell more and more into a state of bibulous exhilaration; and when the 
captivating strains of dance music sounded across from the water 
pavilion, her delight knew no bounds and she accompanied the music 
with violent gesticulating of her hands, rhythmical stamping of her 
feet, and swaying of her body. Pao Yu secretly nudged Black Jade to 
draw her attention to the comic gestures of the old lady, whereupon 
Black Jade remarked wittily: "In our old writings they speak of the 
calming influence of holy music, which even tames the wild animals 
and makes them dance sedately in sets. One can say of this music that 
at least it can enrapture a cow." 

When the dancing performance was finished, the company rose from 
the table. The Ancestress took Godmother Liu by the hand and, mak- 
ing an extensive tour, showed her the remaining splendors of the Park 
of Delightful Vision. The inquisitive old lady could not get over her 
astonishment, and ceaselessly questioned and asked for information, 
now about this kind of mineral, and now about that plant or tree. Once 
she remarked pensively: "Who would have thought that here in the 
town not only do the people acquire fine polish and education, but 
even the birds attain to knowledge and the power of speech under your 
salutary influence!" 

And when she saw the .surprised expressions around her, she con- 
tinued: "The green bird with the red beak sitting there on the golden 
perch is a parrot, and I know already what he can do. But now I would 
very much like to know whether the big blackish gray fellow over there 
in the cage, which looks like a phoenix, has been taught to talk by 
you?" 

With amusing remarks such as these she provided gaiety and merri- 
ment again and again. 

The company had arrived at the Kingfisher's Cage Hermitage, where 
a beautiful young nun named Miao Yu lived. The highly educated 
eighteen-year-old girl came from a noble mandarin family of Suchow. 
After the death of her parents she had renounced the world and dedi- 

258 



cated herself to the service of Buddha. On the occasion of the visit of 
the Imperial spouse she had been transferred to the park from her con- 
vent in front of the city gates. In the seclusion of the Kingfisher's Cage 
she now lived the life of a holy anchoress with two elderly attendants 
and a young maid, and strove zealously, by severe mortification and 
deep meditation pleasing to God,, to subdue the refractory flesh and, 
despite her youth, to work her way up step by step to an early sanctity. 
The nun was as well known for her beautiful crochet work as for her 
skill in preparing tea. Therefore, immediately after the salutations, the 
Ancestress asked for a bowl of her celebrated tea. The nun brought her, 
with her own hands, on a lacquered tray decorated with begonia petals, 
clouds, dragons, and shu signs, a fire-colored bowl of best K'ang Hsi 
china of the Ch'eng Hua period, filled with that fine kind of tea which 
is known as "Lao Tzu's eyebrows." 

"What kind of water is it made with?" asked the Ancestress. 

"With rain water collected last year," the nun declared. The An- 
cestres? drank half the bowl and left the other half for Godmother 
Liu to drink. Then she wanted to know how she liked the tea. 

"Quite well, only it's a little insipid and heavy. It should have been 
allowed to draw a little longer," Godmother Liu admitted frankly. Her 
verdict provoked laughter on all sides and greatly annoyed the nun. 
While the rest of the company were being served by a hermitage maid 
with the same kind of tea in white covered cups of the new, thin "egg- 
shell" china of State manufacture, Precious Clasp and Black Jade were 
favored by the nun with another specially exquisite kind of tea. She 
plucked the two girls by the lapels of their gowns and led them into a 
private room apart. The inquisitive Pao Yu could not refrain from 
sneaking after the three and observing through a slit in the door what 
the nun was doing. 

He saw how she gave Precious Clasp a seat on a wooden guard-bed 
and Black Jade on a prayer mat, then put a pot of water on a wind- 
furnace -and finally poured the boiling water into a tea pot. He flung 
open the door and burst into the room saying: "Just look, you are en- 
joying your best tea here in secret!" 

"Certainly, and there's nothing for you to look for here!" replied the 
cousins, laughing. Pao Yu would not be intimidated, however, but re- 
mained where he was and insisted on having a sample of the "favorite 
tea" put before him, too. The nun was just collecting cups for her 
guests when the hermitage maid came in with the same bowl out of 
which the Ancestress and Godmother Liu had previously drunk. The 
nun would not have.it. 

"No, not that one! Put it aside; it is not to be used again," she de- 
clared. Aha! Obviously she considers the bowl desecrated because old 

259 



Liu frank out of it, said Pao Yu to himself. At last the nun found 
two suitable tea vessels for the two girls. One was a precious antique 
pewter goblet of the Sung dynasty, as the following engraved inscrip- 
tion showed: "In the fourth month of the fifth year of the Yuan Fong 
Period of the Sung dynasty Su Tung-po was received into the Han Lin 
Academy." The three-legged goblet with handle had obviously be- 
longed originally to the famous poet, Su Tang-po. The nun presented 
it to Precious Clasp. The other vessel, which was also of metal, re- 
sembled one of those alms bowls used by Buddhist begging monks, 
except that it was somewhat smaller. The inscription showed it to be 
of still greater antiquity, for in that characteristic seal script which 
stood out like drops, one read: "Wen Chiao, who lighted up a rhinoc- 
eros's horn." Presumably the bowl once belonged to Wen Chiao, a 
literary and political celebrity of the eastern Chin dynasty, of whom 
tradition relates that he conceived the brilliant idea of illuminating 
the depths of a river by means of a light inside a rhinoceros's horn, 
which he let down into the water. The nun presented this historic re- 
ceptacle to Black Jade. Finally, she poured tea into a beautiful green 
nephrite bowl which she herself used every day, and passed it to Pao 
Yu. Pao \ u was disappointed. 

"My two cousins have got such wonderful antique, precious things 
to drink from, and I have to be satisfied with a simple, everyday piece 
of china. This means, I suppose, that my cousins are very special peo- 
ple and that I am just an ordinary fellow," he pouted in joke. 

"You call that everyday ware?" said the nun, turning to him, much 
offended. "I do not wish to be at all presumptuous, but I believe that 
you will not find such everyday ware in your own home." s 

"In your select proximity ordinary precious objects such as gold, 
pearls, and nephrite become everyday trifles," said Pao Yu gallantly, 
seeking to make amends. 

The nun was placated once more and compensated him by giving him 
a monster tankard made of knotty bamboo roots plaited in varied 
snake coils, which she rummaged out for him. Pao Yu found the nun's 
favorite tea, which he sipped out of the huge "seaman's goblet," in- 
comparable and could not praise it highly enough. 

"Is this tea also prepared with last year's rain water?" Black Jade 
wanted tc know. 

The nun smiled contemptuously. "That just shows what very ordi- 
nary people you are!" she said. "People like you cannot even distin- 
guish the quality of tea water! Five years ago. when I was living in the 
Temple of the Dark Funeral Incense Fumes, I obtained the water which 
made this tea from the snow that covered the plum blossoms. I col- 
lected the snow in that blue glass jug with the specters' heads, and 



260 



kept the jug untouched, deep down in the earth, for five years. Only 
this summer I dug it up and took out the snow water. Today is the 
second time that I have prepared tea with some of this precious water 
supply. How could you think that one could get from ordinary last 
year's rain water such a pure, fine taste as this precious tea possesses?" 

Black Jade was afraid of irritating the irascible nun still more by any 
unguarded remark, and she therefore took her leave shortly after- 
wards with Precious Clasp. Pao Yu remained behind a little longer. He 
turned the conversation to the subject of the K'ang Hsi china bowl, 
out of which old Liu had drunk a while since. 

"I admit that the bowl is soiled and desecrated, but would it not be an 
utter shame simply to throw away the beautiful article as rubbish?" he 
remarked. "In my opinion it would be best to give it to that good, sim- 
ple peasant woman. She could sell it and make a nice profit on it. What 
do you think?" 

"Yes, certainly, one could do that," said the nun after reflecting for 
a moment. "It is lucky that I have never used it myself, otherwise 
I would have broken it to fragments at once. Well, as far as I am con- 
cerned, you may take it and give it to the old woman yourself!" Pao 
Yu went off with his china bowl for booty. Outside, he handed it to 
the waiting maid Mandarin Duck with the request that she should give 
it to Godmother Liu the next day as a parting gift to the guest for her 
journey. The Ancestress as well as the rest of the company had already 
stood up to go. The nun accompanied them as far as the temple gate, 
then she hurried back quickly and bolted the gate behind the undesired 
guests from the profane world. 

In the further course of the sight-seeing tour Godmother Liu became 
separated from the rest of the company and lost her way. She had sud- 
denly felt violent stomach pains, accompanied by sinister internal 
rumblings, and a serving woman had to take her hurriedly to a little 
secluded nook in the northeast corner of the park. As was inevitable 
after a meal so heartily partaken of, the session there lasted rather 
long, and when she reappeared her escort had long since gone away. 
Tired from so much running about, she had taken the welcome oppor- 
tunity to steal away to her room and take the midday nap which she 
had missed. There was no trace of the rest of the company either. Alone 
and abandoned, Godmother Liu now wandered at random through the 
paths and enclosure^, of the vast and unfamiliar park, flowers dancing 
before her eyes ahd her limbs heavy with wine, until after asking 
the way of s^wall painting of a beautiful young girl which she had mis- 
taken for a living person, and run 'her head against the painted 
scenery on a spirit wall, she at last found herself in a magnificent, cir- 
cular hall, glittering with gold and precious stones, a bewildering maze 

262 



of woodcarving on the walls, and numerous niches concealing vases and 
weapons and lutes, and all kinds of works of art. There she had first 
of all a one-sided conversation with an old woman dressed exactly like 
herself, whom she took to be a distant cousin from her own vil- 
lage, until she remembered at last that she had heard in the past 
of great wall mirrors which were said to be found in the houses of the 
rich, and it dawned on her that she had just been talking to her own 
reflection. After she had long been looking in vain for an exit, a mirror 
panel, furnished with Western door mechanism, yielded to a chance 
pressure of her hand and admitted her to a luxuriously furnished bed- 
room. Dulled by wine and exhausted by her wanderings, without much 
ado she made herself comfortable on the soft cushioned couch under 
the magnificently embroidered damask canopy. When the missing guest 
was at last discovered by Pearl after much searching, and, being sober 
once more, had asked to which of the young ladies the magnificent 
room belonged in which she had slept off her tipsiness and had felt as 
if in heaven, she learned to her horror that she had wandered into the 
bedroom of the son of the house. Luckily, no one in the house with the 
exception of Pearl knew of the daring escapade of the old woman, for 
the whole 'staff of the Begonia Courtyard had gone out that afternoon, 
and Pao Yu, whom Pearl dutifully told, very considerately took care 
that the matter should not become known. He agreed with Pearl to say 
that the old lady had lost her way in the park and had been found 
asleep on a mossy rock. It can well be understood that a powerful 
fumigation with frankincense of sandalwood and musk was required to 
dispel the unseemly traces which the tipsy guest had left behind her in 
Pao Yu's bedroom. The Ancestress, who otherwise was accustomed to 
seeing at most two or three interesting parts of the park at one time, 
felt quite worn out the next day from the exertions which she had under- 
gone for the sake of Godmother Liu. But in view of the lively entertain- 
ment which her guest had given in return, she did not regret her ex- 
ertions, and on bidding farewell to the godmother from the country 
she loaded her with rich gifts and expressed the wish that she should 
come back again very soon. 



263 



CHAPTER 26 

Pao Yu sets out to burn incense in the dust of the highway in memory 

of a dear departed. On the Day of the Thousand Autumns Phoenix 

unexpectedly turns into a vinegar barrel. 

PHOENIX'S BIRTHDAY WAS CELEBRATED ON THE SECOND DAY OF THE 
ninth month. At the suggestion of the Ancestress everyone abstained 
this time from giving individual gifts, and instead all the ladies and 
girls of the two palaces as well as all the female servants had each to 
contribute, according to her means and position, from one tael to twenty 
taels to a common birthday fund. This fund went to defray the ex- 
penses of the various amusements of the day. The management of the 
funds was entrusted to Princess Chen. Besides the usual festive banquet, 
there were many other pleasures: a troupe of actors performed plays, a 
troupe of jugglers showed their hundred tricks, and a storyteller recited 
amusing stories. 

The company had been assembled for quite a long time; only Pao 
Yu was missing. When he was sent for word came back that he had 
gone into the town. They could hardly believe this, so they sent for 
Pearl, from whom they expected more information. 

"He said yesterday that he would have to go to the 'Prince of the 
Northern Quietness' today on an urgent matter," Pearl was able to tell 
them. "I tried to dissuade him, but in vain. He rode off very early to- 
day." 

Everyone thought it very tactless of him to go off just then, especially 
as a meeting of the Begonia Club had also been fixed for that day. 

"Curiously enough, he did not put on his visiting suit but just wore 
his everyday clothes going out," added Pearl. "Very likely he had to 
pay the Prince a visit of condolence on the death of a secondary wife, 
but I do not know anything more." 

"That would excuse him to a certain extent," people said, modifying 
their first judgment. 

It was in a sense true that Pao Yu had gone out on account of a 
death, but he did not tell anyone around him who the dead person in 
question was. The day before, he had only given a brief order to his 
valet Ming Yen to have two horses ready early the next morning at the 
back gate of the park. And the servant Li Kwei had been ordered to 
say, if anyone should ask for Pao Yu, that he had gone to visit the 
Prince of the Northern Quietness, but that they should not send for 
him, as he would be back in good time. 

Quite early, then, on that morning he appeared at the back gate of 
the park, dressed in the simplest attire, and without saying a word he 

264 



mounted his horse and rode off at a smart trot, his body bent right over 
the saddlebow. Ming Yen had to use his whip in order to keep pace 
with him. Asked where he was going, Pao Yu had replied: ''Straight 
on, out through the northern city gate!" 

"But there is nothing interesting out there; the district is desolate 
and lonely," Ming Yen had declared. Pao Yu had nodded and replied: 
"The more desolate and lonely it is, the better." 

Ming Yen was very much puzzled by the strange, distraught manner 
of his master.jThey had ridden six or seven li at a quick trot, and were 
now out in open, thinly populated country, when Pao Yu stopped^his 
horse. 

"I wonder whether incense could be procured in this neighborhood?" 
he asked, turning to Ming Yen. 

"It's possible; but the question is: What kind would it be?" 

"I need sandalwood, lavender, and olibanuin incense." 

"Such fine varieties as those will be difficult to get in this deserted 
region," said Ming Yen, laughing. "But don't you usually carry some 
incense with you in your belt pouch?" 

Pao Yu r timmaged in his lotus-leaf bag and did in fact find two little 
fragment of Cambodian aloewood. "Good, we've got incense!" he said, 
gratified. "Now, I only need a brazier." 

"How can you expect to get a brazier out here in this wilderness?" 
asked Ming Yen, shaking his head dubiously. Then an idea occurred to 
him. 

"If we ride on just another two li, we will come to the nunnery known 
as the Temple of the Water God, and there we can get everything we 
want." 

"That's splendid!" said Pao Yu, and whipped his horse up to a swift 
trot. Ming Yen wondered to himself how it was that his master, who 
usually seemed rather contemptuous of the Temple of the Water God, 
was apparently so eager to visit it today. 

The old Abbess of the Temple of the Water God, who was in the 
habit of dropping in at the Yungkuo palace now and then, was much 
surprised and felt as greatly honored at the unexpected visit of the 
aristocratic young grandson of a prince as if a living dragon had de- 
scended onto her threshold straight from the skies. But Pao Yu took 
no special notice either of her or of the Water God. He only glanced 
hurriedly and without any show of reverence at the statue of the god 
within the temple, which, though only roughly fashioned of clay and 
plaster, was nevertheless quite imposing; then he went straight off to 
the garden at the back of the temple. He procured a burning brazier 
from the Abbess, and chose a spot beside the temple \vell as the site for 
his offering. Now Ming Yen guessed the connection and understood 

265 



why his master seemed to be thrilled with joy just now when he had 
mentioned the Temple of the Water God. Pao Yu's pious act of de- 
votion to the dead naturally referred to Gold Ring, who had lost her 
life through his fault. It was on Phoenix's birthday a year before that 
the poor creature had thrown herself into the well. 

While Pao Yu was lighting his two fragments of Cambodian aloe- 
wood over the burning coals, wefping, and devoutly prostrating himself 
in silent salutation to the dead, his sympathetic servant also fell upon 
his knees and, striking his forehead several times on the ground, be- 
gan to pray thus: "I, Ming Yen, who have served my young master 
faithfully all these years, have always until now known the secrets of his 
heart. Only today he has not confided in me, and has been silent with 
regard to the reason of his burnt offering. Propriety forbids me to 
importune him with curious questioning. But I have no doubt that you, 
Spirit in the Realm of Shades, for whom this offering is made, but 
whose name I do not know, once lived among the people as a sensible, 
clever, chaste, splendid, and incomparable young lady or little sister. As 
my little master cannot speak out in my presence regarding the matters 
which weigh on his heart, let me pray instead of him, and give ear to 
my supplication since you are a spirit and have the power of spirits. 
Graciously listen to my little master, who remembers you so faith- 
fully; protect and guard him when he enters into the Realm of Shades, 
and help him, that in a future existence he may be born again as a 
girl, and so may be able to play and joke and be happy with such as 
you to his heart's content!" 

When he had finished his prayer he made a few more kowtows. Then 
he hurriedly rose from his knees. Pao Yu had listened to him with in- 
creasing amusement and during his prayer had given him a friendlv 
push with his foot. 

"Cease your nonsense!" he whispered to him, shaking with laughter. 
"How awful if anyone should hear you! You make me a laughingstock 
before the people!" 

Thanks to the innocent simplicity of the good Ming Yen the sor- 
rowful cerempny thus lost nine-tenths of its bitterness, and after hur- 
riedly refreshing themselves with a frugal snack in the convent, master 
and servant set out for home in cheerful spirits. 

Pao Yu quickly exchanged his dusty everyday clothes for exuberantly 
colorful festive attire and went to the birthday party. All were assembled 
in the large, newly built Hall of Blossoms, from which the merry piping 
of flutes and the sound of shrill singing could already be heard in the 
distance. As he was striding through the corridor pavilion near the en- 
trance to the hall he came upon the maid Nephrite Bangle, the sister 
of the dead girl, Gold Ring. She was sitting under the projecting roof, 

266 



weeping. When she saw him she turned away with a deep sigh and then 
said, with a sad smile: "Hurry in! You are being waited for as if you 
were a magic phoenix who brings healing!" 

"Guess where I have been!" he said to her gently. Nephrite Bangle 
shuddered and silently wiped away her tears. , 

When he appeared in the Hall of Blossoms Pao Yu was indeed re- 
ceived and greeted with as much amazement as if he were a fabulous 
creature. Everyone surrounded him, overwhelmed him with ques- 
tions, and heaped reproaches on him. He should have said beforehand 
where he wanted to go to and how long he would be away, and it was 
certainly no manners simply to run off on his sister-in-law's birthday, 
and they had been worried about him, and so on. Pao Yu replied 
calmly that he had paid a visit of condolence to the Prince of the 
Northern Quietness, whose favorite wife had died. But it was difficult 
to pacify the Ancestress, and she threatened that if he ever again went 
out of the house without saying a word, she would tell his father and 
have him thrashed. Pao Yu solemnly promised to be better, and with 
this the incident was closed and the merry party continued. Who would 
have thought that in the course of the day the festive spirit was again to 
be overcast by a new and this time more serious occurrence? 

The theatrical troupe was just performing "The Thorn as Agraffe," 
that well-known play about the poor girl and the rich suitor. It was a 
really touching piece which made the Ancestress weep and laugh alter- 
nately, sigh one moment and swear the next. When it came to the scene 
in which the hero offers sacrifice to his drowned sweetheart, Black Jade 
remarked to Precious Clasp: "This young man is an utter fool! Has he 
really got to run to the river-bank in order to offer sacrifice to the be- 
loved with water from the river? Could he not satisfy his feelings just 
as well at home with a bowl of water from the well? Water is water. 
What is in one's heart is what matters!" 

Precious Clasp did not reply, but Pao Yu distinctly felt the pointed 
allusion to himself which was hidden in her remark. How closely the 
action on the stage coincided with what he had gone through today, 
and how correctly his clever cousin had seen through him once more! 
But he, pretending not to have noticed anything, asked for another gob- 
let of wine, and drank to the health of sister-in-law Phoenix. 

Phoenix, Who usually did not drink much, and did not enjoy cere- 
monial dinner parties where one had to sit quiet for such a long time, 
was obliged today at the express order of the Ancestress to sit in the 
place of honor for longer than she wished, receiving the homage of the 
company, as the most important person present. All the female relations, 
as well as some privileged ladies of the female retinue, down to the wait- 
ing maid Mandarin Duck, came up one after another and drank to her 

267 



health, and she could not avoid allowing her glass to be filled afresh 
each time in response. The effect of this unaccustomed quantity of 
wine soon became evident. She suddenly felt rumbles in her stomach 
and had to go to her apartments leaning on the arm of her waiting 
maid Little Ping in the middle of the performance by the troupe of 
jugglers. 

Now, as she approached the corridor pavilion of her home, she 
could see from a distance how one of her maids, who had been keep- 
ing a lookout in front of the entrance, turned quickly as lightning at 
sight of her and ran into the house. The strange behavior of the maid 
immediately awakened her suspicions. She called out to her to stop, 
but the maid behaved as if she did not hear her and disappeared 
inside. Then she became really suspicious. She ran into the inner court- 
yard of her house as quickly as her legs would carry her and sat down 
on the steps of the stone terrace. Then she called out the maid in ques- 
tion and ordered her to kneel down before her. She next sent Little Ping 
to fetch two doorkeepers from the inner gate, who were to bring ropes 
and whips with them. 

"Tie up the miserable bitch, the wretched hussy, who no longer has 
eyes for her mistress, and beat her until she is half dead!" she ordered 
the two servants harshly. The maid, almost swooning with fright, de- 
spairingly beat her forehead on the stone flags and whined for mercy. 

"Am I a ghost or why did you run away when you saw me coming?'' 
shouted Phoenix. 

"I did not see the Nai nai at all; it just occurred to me that the house 
was empty and unwatched, and that is why I ran in," the maid tried to 
excuse herself. 

"Oh, indeed? If the house was empty, what were you loafing about 
outside the entrance for? Besides, I shouted myself hoarse calling you. 
You were not far away, you are not deaf and must have heard me, but 
in spite of that you ran on. Spare yourself the trouble of lying. My 
patience is at an end." 

And she dealt the maid two such powerful slaps on the face that both 
her cheeks immediately swelled up and turned purple. 

"You will sprain your hand, A r ai nai/" cried the waiting maid Little 
Ping, trying to pacify her. 

"Very well, strike her instead of me!" hissed her angry mistress. 
"And if she still remains stubborn, I will have her tongue singed with 
a hot iron." 

''I will confess," howled the maid in terror. "The master is in the 
house. He ordered me to watch out for you and to warn him as soon 
as you returned." 

Aha, now \ve are getting somewhere, thought Phoenix. 

268 



"Why should you keep a lookout for me? Was he anxious lest I 
could not find the way alone?" she persisted. "Out with the truth, or 
I will prick you with pins!" 

In order to show that she was in earnest she drew from her hair a 
long, pointed hairpin, which she waved threateningly in the face of 
the kneeling girl. The maid drew back her head in terror and moaned: 
"Do not stick me! I will tell you everything! But please do not betray 
me! When the master came home today he took two pieces of loose 
silver, two agraffes, and two pieces of satin out of the treasure trunk. 
I had to take them secretly to the wife of the servant Little Pao and 
bring her back to the master. She is still inside in the master's room. 
I was to keep watch outside. What has taken place in the room I do 
not know." 

Phoenix had to pause to get over an attack of faintness, then she 
picked herself up and rushed to her husband's pavilion. On the way 
there she noticed that another maid was cautiously spying out the 
courtyard gate, and on seeing her quickly drew in her head and made 
off. Phoenix called her by name. This maid was cleverer than the first 
one. When she saw that she was detected she turned iound quickly, 
hurried up to Phoenix, and said quite coolly: "I was just on my way 
to you, and now you come along yourself!" 

"What message did you have forme, then?" 

The maid reported that the master was in the house and had Little 
Pao's wife with him, and so on. 

"And why did you not tell me that at once instead of only doing 
so now to save yourself when you see you are found out?" said Phoenix, 
giving her a slap. Then she ran on and crept under the window of her 
husband's bedroom. Scraps of an animated conversation reached her 
ear. Now she distinguished a woman's voice: "Just wait, sooner or 
later that Princess of the Underworld will die; then your sufferings will 
be at an end!" To which the voice of her husband replied: "Yes, but 
what then? Shall I marry another then, and have all the old misery 
begin over again?" 

The woman's voice continued: "After all, you have Little Ping. 
Make 'her your first wife when the other one dies. Then you will have 
no more worries." 

To which he replied: "She is dead bent on seeing that I have nothing 
to do with Little Ping. I know that Little Ping suffers because of her 
suspicions, but she does not dare to do anything. That woman is just 
my fate, my unlucky star." 

Phoenix was trembling with indignation. Little Ping, whom she had 
always regarded as fidelity personified, had now been unmasked as a 
secret enemy by the conversation she had just overheard! She was un- 

269 



able to contain herself any longer and, suddenly turning round, dealt the 
puzzled Little Ping two slaps on the ears. Then she stormed into her 
husband's bedroom, pushing open the door with her foot. Without 
wasting a word she rushed at the rival and commenced beating her 
with all her strength. When she could continue no longer, she planted 
herself before the door in order to prevent her husband from escaping, 
and shouted at the woman: "You crazy hussy, so you want to steal 
my husband from me and would like to kill me into the bargain? Those 
are fine plans! Come here, Little Ping! You are no better than that 
woman and you are involved in the same guilt as she is. You have 
meanly betrayed me behind my back!" And once more she boxed poor 
Little Ping's ears right and left. The outraged Little Ping in her turn 
vented her anger on the wife of Little Pao by dealing her a couple of 
blows. 

"Could you not get on with your dirty game by yourselves? Why did 
you have to drag me into it?" she shouted. 

Chia Lien, who was somewhat drowsy from all the wine he had been 
drinking, had at first looked on in confusion at the scene which was 
being enacted with such dramatic rapidity before his eyes. When 
Phoenix had thrashed his paramour just now, he had felt angry and 
ashamed, but respect for his wife had nevertheless restrained him. 
Now, however, seeing the maid Little Ping also dealing out abuse and 
blows, he felt impelled to give up his passive attitude and come to the 
aid of his doubly maltreated paramour. 

"What do you mean by hitting out like that?" he said roughly to 
Little Ping, pushing her with his foot. While Little Ping drew back 
frightened Phoenix pommelled her in the back, rebuked her for 
cowardice, and again pushed her forward. In desperation she ran out 
of the room into the kitchen, and was in the act of gashing herself with 
.a kitchen knife when she was stopped just in time by the maids who 
were near her. Meanwhile, Phoenix in the bedroom was venting her 
rage on her faithless husband. "She rammed her head wildly against his 
chest and shouted in his face: "You have been conspiring against me 
with that woman! I heard you raging against me in here. You will drive 
me in the end to take my life." 

Her raging drove him into a frenzy. He pulled down a sword from 
the wall and shouted back at her: "If you really want to die, I can do 
you a favor and kill us both together. For I also am tired of life and 
would willingly sacrifice myself with you for the sake of peace." 

In the midst of this scene Princess Chen appeared escorted by sev- 
eral women. 

"What is the meaning of this row? Why, just now the most beautiful 
harmony was reigning!" she cried in amazement. 

270 



The presence of others and the fiery influence of the wine caused 
Chia Lien to enjoy more than ever striking the exalted pose of the 
angry husband, and he waved his sword so wildly around him that it 
really looked as if he wanted to kill his wife. The appearance of Princess 
Chen had quite the opposite effect on Phoenix. Her defiant ferocity 
changed instantly to an attitude of meek dejection, she crept away be- 
hind the Princess's back and fled weeping from the dangerous battle 
zone to the safe proximity of the Ancestress. 

"1 was just going. to my house to change my dress, when I heard 
my husband inside talking to someone," she reported in tears, touch- 
ing up the narrative a little in her own favor. "I did not venture to go 
in at once, but remained standing at the window for a bit. Then I dis- 
tinguished the voice of Little Pao's wife and to my horror heard the 
woman discussing a horrible plot against me with my husband. They 
wanted to poison me and after my death he was to make Little Ping h : - 
chief wife! You can imagine my indignation! In spite of that I kept 
control of myself, went in quite quietly, and confined myself solely to 
taking the disloyal Little Ping to task, and giving her two cuffs on the 
ear. Had I not a perfect right to do that? And what does he do? He 
snatches a sword down from the wall and tries to kill me!" 

"That is really going too far! Bring the rough, low fellow here to 
me at once!" ordered the Ancestress indignantly. She took Phoenix's 
narrative to be quite true. But her order was unnecessary, for Chia 
Lien came storming in, the naked sword in his hand, followed by a 
crowd of frightened people. Princess Shieh and Madame Cheng stood 
barring the way of the raging man. 

"What barbaric behavior this is! Have you no consideration for the 
old Tai tai?" they shouted at him. 

"It is all due to the fact that the old Tai tai has always made a favor- 
ite of her! But I will not put up with her impudent insults!" he shouted 
back, blinking askance at them with bleary, drunken eyes. 

His mother succeeded in taking the sword from him. 

"Quick! Be off! Get ou f of here!" she cried, trying to push him 
towards the door. But he struggled and gesticulated savagely, and 
filthy language streamed from his mouth like spittle. 

"Fetch his father here!" ordered the Ancestress, enraged at his 
shocking behavior. "He will inspire him with respect." 

Her threat was sufficient to bring Chia Lien to his senses. He 
stumbled out the door and took himself off, muttering, to the outer 
library. Meantime the fedies endeavored to calm Phoenix. 

"It is not as serious as all that. A little squabble, such as young peo- 
ple often have," remarked the Ancestress soothingly. "It is I who am 

271 



really to blame. I should not have induced her to drink wine. No wonder 
that it rises up in her afterwards in bile, sour as vinegar." 

They all had to laugh at her good joke, for the word "bile" not only 
means sick vomiting but also jealousy. 

"Calm yourself!" continued the Ancestress, turning to Phoenix. "He 
will have to beg your pardon formally tomorrow; I will see to that! 
But you must keep away from your house today and leave him alone, 
otherwise he may get into a fury again. But what has come over that 
hussy. Little Ping, that she should carry on this base intrigue behind 
your back? I always thought she was good and respectable." 

"Little Ping is innocent," said Princess Chen, with a smile, in de- 
fense of the absent maid. "Instead of coming to blows with each other 
the couple have vented their rage on an innocent person. She does 
not deserve a word of blame. She has been bitterly wronged." 

"Oh, I am sorry for that," said the Ancestress regretfully. "She cer- 
tainly never gave me the impression of being a bad girl, eager to be 
seduced. Of course she must be compensated for this. Amber, quick, 
run to Little Ping and tell her I know now that she has been wronged, 
and I shall make her mistress beg her pardon tomorrow. But today, 
her mistress's birthday, is not the right time to do so. Meantime, tell 
her not to fret, and to have patience until tomorrow." 

Little Ping had run to the Park of Delightful Vision and been con- 
soled alternately by Pao Yu and Pearl. Pao Yu had received her kindly 
in ihe Begonia Courtyard, had let her put on one of Pearl's gowns in- 
stead of her own which had been soiled with wine and tears, placed 
Pearl's dressing table at her disposal, and refreshed her with a bowl of 
punch. Then, when Amber brought the comforting message from the 
Ancestress, Little Ping felt her face glowing with renewed beauty and 
her tears turned to joy. She spent that night with Widow Chu in the 
Rice Farm Courtyard, while Phoenix remained with the Ancestress. 

The following morning the domestic quarrel of the day before was 
satisfactorily settled with due -formality according to the instructions 
of the Ancestress. Chia Lien was called to the Ancestress, and had to 
beg her pardon on his knees, and in doing so he pleaded drunkenness 
as an excuse for his conduct. Then he had to go to Phoenix, who was 
standing there, her eyes red from weeping, her hair undone, without 
jewelry, unpainted and unpowdered, looking miserable and lovely at 
the same time, and had to bow to her and beg her pardon. His penitent 
words: "I have done you wrong, Nai nai, and 1 beg you not to be 
angry with me any longer," caused a sigh of relief from all those pres- 
ent. 

"You must not be, otherwise you will make me angry," said the 
Ancestress, turning with a smile to Phoenix. When peace had been 

272 



restored between the husband and wife, Little Ping was sent for. Chia 
Lien bowed politely to her too and begged her pardon for the injustice 
done to her yesterday by himself and his wife. 

"Will you not say a kind word to her too?" the Ancestress urged 
Phoenix. But already Little Ping had prostrated herself on the ground 
before her mistress, and as she kowtowed she said with deep humility: 
"I deserve death for having caused my Nai nai annoyance yesterday, 
the day of her thousand autumns!" 

Phoenix, moved to tears, drew her to her feet. She felt thoroughly 
ashamed. How on earth could she have forgotten herself so utterly, 
yesterday, as to beat the good girl? It was certainly all because she had 
drunk too much wine. 

"In all the years in which I have served you, you have never once 
raised your little finger against me!" continued Little Ping, likewise 
moved to tears. "You have always been g<x>d to me. Therefore I will 
bear you no grudge for the little incident of yesterday." 

"Well, everything is right again now! And anybody who makes a 
fuss about the story after this will get a sound thrashing." And so the 
Ancestress closed the ceremony of reconciliation and dismissed the par- 
ticipants, after having received a parting kowtow from all three of them 
together. But when the husband and wife were alone in their home once 
more, Phoenix could not refrain from remarking: "Is there really 
something so repulsive and loathsome about me that that hussy dares 
to call me princess of the Underworld and a nightmare? And you backed 
her up in wishing me dead ! When an inferior woman like that is more 
pleasing to you than I am, how can I keep face and continue living 
beside you?" 

She talked with increasing excitement and broke out into sobs. 

"Are you beginning again? Did you not have enough of a scene yes- 
terday?" he growled, peevishly. "I have humiliated myself before the 
people and asked your pardon on my knees. Is that not enough for 
you? Do you want me to go down on my knees again, so that your face 
may brighten once more? One should not be too arrogant, else one gets 
just the opposite of what one wants." 

Phoenix saw he was right, so she remained silent. 

"Let it be now! I admit that I have been wrong!" he continued, 
amiably, when suddenly a maidservant came rushing in and announced 
excitedly: "The wife of Little Pao has hanged herself." After the fir^t 
shock Phoenix pulled herself together quickly. 

"Well, enough of this! What is there really so exciting about it?" 
she asked callously. The majordomo Ling's wife, who looked after the 
female start, came in timidly and confirmed the news. 

273 



"The members of her clan intend to lodge a complaint with the au- 
thorities," she added, reluctantly. 

"I do not mind. I intended to do the same myself," said Phoenix, 
coldly. 

"I tried as hard as I could to dissuade, them from their intention. Per- 
haps they could be indemnified with money," continued Mrs. Ling. 

"Money? I have no money for that. And even if I had, I would not 
think of doing such a thing. Let them lodge their complaint, and you 
may spare yourself the trouble of trying to mediate," declared Phoenix 
resolutely. 

Chia Lien winked surreptitiously at Mrs. Ling. She understood the 
hint and took her leave, but waited for him outside the door. He went 
out after her. 

"I will see what can be done!" he said to Phoenix. 
"But do not give any money !" she called after him. 
The outcome of the consultation between Chia Lien and Ling's wife 
was that she was authorized to offer the relatives of the deceased two 
hundred taels as hush money. Chia Lien had a bad conscience and 
wanted to avoid a scandal at any cost. He arranged with Mrs. Ling that 
the money was to be taken from the housekeeping funds and drawn 
out under cover of current expenses by means of falsified accounts. 
The matter was hushed up in this way without Phoenix having to know 
anything about it. The relatives were satisfied, pocketed the nice sum 
of money, and swallowed their resentment. Moreover, Chia Lien took 
Little Pao aside, consoled him with a few ounces of silver and some 
words of condolence, and promised to help him to get another wife. 
This pleased the servant Little Pao quite well, and so the painful matter 
was settled. 



CHAPTER 27 

The windy and rainy mood of a gloomy autumn evening inspires Black 

Jade with an elegy on the wind and the rain. The maid Mandarin Duck 

renounces the bliss of a Mandarin Duck union. 

DLACK JADE WAS ACCUSTOMED TO EXPERIENCING AN AGGRAVATION OF 
her old complaint in the spring and autumn. During these autumn days 
she was troubled more than usually with her feverish symptoms and her 
bad cough; she had to stay in bed often and seldom emerged from the 
Bamboo Hermitage. She suffered greatly from being alone so much 
and was always watching out longingly for the distraction of a visit 
from any of her cousins. But when the longed-for visitor came she 

274 



grew weary after only a few sentences of conversation, and was glad 
when the visit came to an end. Her companions, aware that she was ill 
and even in normal times a somewhat oversensitive person, did not 
mind this lack of ceremony and of cordial hospitality. 

One day Precious Clasp came to visit her and turned the conversa- 
tion to Black Jade's ailment. She did not think very much of the fam- 
ily doctors and medicines she had had up to the present, and she 
thought that Black Jade should try for once to Jiave herse' " examined 
and treated by some real authority. Trying to drag herself around like 
this was simply no life. 

"No doctor can help me!" said Black Jade gloomily. "I know my 
ailment, and there is no remedy for it. Even on the days when I am 
well, am I really a completely normal person?" 

"Food is our life!" continued Precious Clasp eagerly. "It is owing to 
the wrong kind of food that your vital forces are failing." 

"Our life and death are predetermined," sighed Black Jade. "We 
cannot overcome our fate. This time the illness has been more severe 
than usual. . . ." 

A violent fit of coughing prevented her from speaking further. Pre- 
cious Clasp was sincerely sorry for her. 

"I looked at your prescriptions recently," she said. "In my opinion 
you are using too much ginseng and cinnamon. They may well stimulate 
the vital forces,, but too much of them is harmful. And do not take your 
ginseng and cinnamon infusions too hot! Above all, you must keep 
your liver rested and cool, for too much heat in the liver injures the 
substance of the organ and impairs the digestion, and thereby en- 
dangers life. You should eat an ounce of best swallows' nests and half 
an ounce of ice sugar every morning, stirred into a warm brew of silver 
flakes. That will strengthen you more than any medicine." 

"How kind of you to trouble so much about me!" said Black Jade, 
touched. "I really do not deserve it. Formerly I believed all kinds of bad 
things about you. But since you enlightened me in such a sisterly way 
recently about bad books, and showed me so much loving sympathy 
today, I realize that I have misjudged you up to the present. You must 
excuse me on account of my being so much alone and deprived of the 
advice of parents or brothers and sisters. I am now fifteen years of age, 
but until now no one has found such friendly and understanding words 
for me as you have. In the past I was always somewhat incredulous 
when Little Cloud sang your praises, but now I am convinced that she 
was right. It is quite true that this doctoring with cinnamon and gin- 
seng infusions has, never done me much good. Grandmother, Aunt 
Cheng, and Cousin Phoenix have never said anything to me about 
swallows' nests and ice sugar, and the serving women and waiting 

275 



maids do not trouble about me at all. They do not regard me as really 
belonging here, and look upon me as a stranger whom they only serve 
unwillingly. I doubt very much if I will be allowed to have the daily ra- 
tion of swallows' nests and ice sugar which you think is necessary." 

"Confide in me! I am in the same position as you are," said Precious 
Clasp. 

"But you have still got your mother and your brother, who is older 
than you. Your family still possess a house and a piece of land of their 
own! You are not thrown upon the charity of strangers! If it suits you 
you can go away any time you like and live on your own property. But I 
have no home; I have no means to dress and feed myself. Naturally, 
under these circumstances I am not fully accepted by the servants and 
get but little respect. You are in a much better position than I am!" 

"Well, wricrt more do you need for your future than a little bridal 
jewelry? It is a pity that it is not yet time for that," said Precious 
Clasp jokingly. 

Black Jade blushed. 

"I confide my troubles to you because you seem so kindhearted, and 
then you mock me ! That is not right," she said smiling. 

"It was only a joke!" said Precious Clasp, cheerfully and uncon- 
cernedly, excusing herself, "but perhaps there was some truth in it, 
who knows? In any case, have confidence in me! When anything wor- 
ries you, when you have anything to complain of, tell me about it, and 
I will help you as far as is in my power. But as for my brother, Hsueh 
Pan, whom you have just mentioned, well, you know yourself how much 
he is worth and how little support I have from him! Of course I am in 
a somewhat better position than you are, because I have still got my 
mother. One can talk things over and share one's joys and sorrows with 
her. But, to. make up for that, you have intelligence. After all, you are 
not a silly dairymaid who cannot help herself and only knows how to 
sigh. You can open your mouth to me with confidence. I will talk to 
my mother tomorrow about the swallows' nests; I think she has still got 
a supply. I will send you a few ounces; and one of my maids will pre- 
pare the dish for you every day; you need not trouble the other servants 
at all. But now I will go. You must be exhausted." 

"Come back in the evening!" 

Precious Clasp promised to do so and went away. Black Jade partook 
of a few mouthfuls of thin rice soup, then she stretched herself on her 
bed and lay there in a dreamy state throughout the long gray autumn 
afternoon. How gloomy it was outside! The sky had become overcast; a 
fine drizzle made it seem already dusk. How sad the monotonous drip- 
ping sounded on the bamboo leaves in front of the window! Black Jade 

276 



lay there for hours, and waited in vain for Precious Clasp's return. She 
will not go out in this weather, she said to herself. 

When darkness fell she had the lamps brought and picked a book at 
random from the bookshelves. It was a collection of well-known poems 
set to music. On turning over the pages she came upon headings such as 
"Pain of Parting" and "Autumn Suffering in the Maiden's Chamber" 
and such like. These elegiac poems suited her mood and inspired her to 
compose one of her own, which she called "Elegy on the Wind and the 
Rain Written Sitting by the Window on an Autumn Evening." 

She had just finished her long poem, consisting of ten seven-word 
couplets, and had lain down again, when Pao Yu was announced. And 
he walked straight in, a broad-rimmed weather-hat of plaited bast on 
his head, and a wide cloak made of reeds, like those worn by fishermen, 
over his clothes. 

"Oh, what kind of fisherman is this!" Black Jade greeted him, laugh- 
ing. 

"Do you feel better today? Have you been taking your medicine 
regularly? How is your appetite?" he inquired anxiously, as he laid 
aside his rain-wear. He took the lamp in his right hand and held it close 
to Black Jade's face, shading with his left hand the side nearest her. 

"You look distinctly better today," he declared contentedly after a 
searching inspection, during which Black Jade, on her part, had been 
observing him also more closely. He wore a short red damask smock, 
no longer quite new, which was tied around the hips with a green cotton 
sash. Under the smock green satin breeches, embroidered with flowers, 
reached to his knees. Thickly quilted stockings of a woven golden mate- 
rial covered his legs, and beautiful, comfortable satin slippers em- 
broidered with flowers and butterflies enveloped his feet. 

"Only the upper part of you is protected from the rain. How is it that 
in spite of this your stockings and slippers are clean and dry?" asked 
Black Jade. 

"Oh, on the way here I wore a pair of stout wooden rain-shoes made 
from the wood of wild apple trees. I left them outside under the project- 
ing roof," replied Pao Yu, smiling. 

"Where, then, did you get that beautiful fine weather-hat? It is so 
light and pliable, not at all the usual prickly kind that one gets in the 
market," inquired Black Jade further. 

"All three articles the bast hat, the reed cloak, and the wooden 
shoes are presents from the Prince of the Northern Quietness," Pao 
Yu declared proudly. "He wears the same outfit himself in bad weather. 
Do you like it? If you do, I shall get the same kind of costume for you. 
The rain-hat is the most valuable of all. The top is made of bamboo pith 
and is removable. One can take it out and shape it to one's liking. In 

277 



winter, in snowy weather, one can take it out and turn back the remain- 
ing wide brim over a warm fur cap. Practical, is it not? Would you also 
like to have a rain-hat like that?" 

"No, thank you ! I would not like to go about dressed up like a fisher- 
woman on the stage. . . ." 

She stopped short and a hot flush spread over her face. Too late it 
occurred to her that she had just now greeted Pao Yu as a fisherman. 
Pao Yu took no notice of her embarrassment, which she tried to hide by 
convulsive coughing. He had found on the table the poem she had just 
finished, and was reading it through eagerly. 

"Splendid!" he exclaimed involuntarily. 

In a second she had grabbed the sheet of paper and burned it over 
the lamp. 

"Too late!" he laughed. "I know it by heart already !" 

"I should like to sleep now. Please go away!" she said. 

He turned up the lapel of his coat and took out a gold pocket watch 
the size of a walnut. The hands already pointed to the hour of the boar, 
the tenth hour. 

"You are right. It is high time for you to go to bed. You must be 
worn out." 

He quickly put on his rain wear and took his leave. At the door he 
turned around once more. "Have you a wish for anything special to 
eat tomorrow?" he asked. "If so, I will tell the old Tai tai. You can rely 
on me more than on those old women." 

"Give me time until the morning. Perhaps I shall think of something 
nice during the night. But now hurry up! See how it's pouring outside! 
Have you anyone to accompany you?" 

"We are here," answered two serving women, who were in the act of 
opening a huge umbrella and lighting a pole lantern outside the door. 

"You think of lighting a lantern in this weather? It will soon be 
soaked through and go out," said Black Jade. 

"It's a horn lantern, made of a ram's horn, and it's rainproof." 

Black Jade took a glass lantern from the bookshelf, got her waiting 
maid to put a lighted wax candle into it, and handed it to Pao Yu. 
"Please take this glass one instead. It is brighter than your dull horn, 
and it also is rainproof." 

"No, thank you, I have a glass one like that myself, but I was afraid 
that the bearers might slip on the slippery damp path and break the 
lamp. That is why I did not use it." 

"Do take this one! Better for the lamp to be broken than for you to 
slip in the dark and be hurt. You are not used to those awkward wooden 
shoes. Have the horn lantern carried in front and take the glass one in 
your hand yourself! You can send it back tomorrow." 

278 



How touchingly concerned she is about me, thought Pao Yu, as he 
politely took her glass lantern and now really set off. A serving woman 
walked in front with the horn lantern, the other serving woman fol- 
lowed with the umbrella, and behind them walked Pao Yu leaning on 
the arm of a maid who had to carry the glass lantern. Another maid 
carrying an umbrella brought up the rear. 

Scarcely had he gone with his retinue when a serving woman with 
umbrella and lantern arrived from the Jungle Courtyard. She had been 
sent by Precious Clasp and brought a big parcel of swallows' nests, 
plum dumplings, and foreign candied sugar. 

"Here, enjoy these! And when you have finished them, my young 
lady will send you more," said the messenger from the Jungle Court- 
yard. 

"It is too kind of you to have taken the trouble to come out so late! 
Please refresh yourself in the waiting maids' room with a bowl of tea!" 

"Thank you, but I cannot wait, I have still some things to do." 

"I understand, you intend to have a turn in the gambling house. On 
these long dull evenings one likes to pass the time with a little game," 
said Black Jade, smiling. 

"The young lady has guessed rightly. Recently I have been enjoying 
some pleasant and most respectable society. We gather every evening 
for a game, and just today I am to preside at our club. So I should not 
like to be late." 

"Oh, I am so sorry that you have sacrificed your little game for my 
sake and taken the trouble to come over to me in this rainy weather. 
Naturally, I must compensate you for that." 

Black Jade ordered her waiting maid to give a few hundred coppers 
to the serving woman, and to fortify her with a bowl of punch against 
the bad effects of the rainy weather. The serving woman thanked her 
with a kowtow, but confined herself to accepting the coppers only, and 
trotted away in a great hurry with her umbrella and lantern. 

When she was gone the waiting maid Cuckoo had to help her mis- 
tress to undress, and she cleared away the parcel and the lamp. But in 
spite of being so tired, Black Jade could not get to sleep. She felt ob- 
sessed with the thought that Precious Clasp had an advantage over her, 
the orphan, in having a mother and a brother, and that Pao Yu, despite 
his declaration of friendship, would reject her in the end. The monoto- 
nous sound of the rain pattering down ceaselessly on the bamboos and 
the banana leaves made her feel desperately depressed. A shudder 
passed through her and she buried her face in her pillow, weeping. 
Half the night had long since passed when at last, about the hour of the 
fourth beat of the drum, she fell asleep. 

279 



The next morning Phoenix was summoned to Princess Shieh. After a 
hurried toilet she went off in her carriage to her mother-in-law. The 
Princess first sent her attendants away, then she started in a low and 
confidential tone: "I need your advice in a somewhat delicate matter. 
My husband has cast his eyes on the old Tai tai's favorite waiting maid, 
Mandarin Duck. He would like to make her his 'side-chamber' and has 
asked me to undertake the necessary steps with the old Tai tai. In itself, 
the matter is not of so much importance, but I rather doubt whether the 
old Tai tai will give up Mandarin Duck. I do not quite know what at- 
titude I should take. What would you advise?' r 

"It is a ticklish order, and you will run your head against a nail in 
carrying it out," replied Phoenix promptly. "The old Tai tai will lose 
her appetite completely if she is separated from Mandarin Duck, who is 
indispensable to her. Moreover, the old Tai tai has said often that your 
husband is really too old now to have a 'side-chamber to the left' and a 
'side-chamber to the right.' This causes him to neglect the management 
of the palace, and besides, this merry life of pleasure is not beneficial to 
his health, in her opinion. You can see from this that the old Tai tai is 
not overly pleased by your husband's ways. He would do better to get 
well out of the tiger's way, rather than to tickle its nose with a blade of 
grass just now. Do not be angry with me, but you cannot count on me 
in this matter. I consider it would be useless for me to intercede. Your 
husband is no longer a young fellow, he has children and grandchildren. 
What would the people think? It would give rise to nice gossip; you 
should bring him to reason and talk him out of his intentions." 

The Princess did not seem very pleased at her words. 

"Other aristocratip gentlemen can keep three 'side-chambers' and 
four concubines, and is my husband not to be allowed this?" she asked 
with a frosty smile. "If I tried to dissuade him, I would be unlikely to 
make any impression on him. You know how obstinate and irascible 
he is. Who is asking you, in any case, to intercede with the old Tai tai? 
I shall go to her myself, of course. I merely wished to ask your advice. 
As far as Mandarin Duck herself is concerned, if she were the old Tai 
tai's favorite waiting maid ten times over, she would hardly decline such 
an advantageous match." 

Phoenix considered it advisable to give in. She knew that partly for 
the sake of peace, and partly out of cunning, the Princess did not dare 
to oppose her husband in any way. For, as the wife of the family Elder, 
on whom the business management of the estate devolved and through 
whose hands all income and outlay went, she knew how to make a good 
thing of it and to feather her own nest under the pretext that her hus- 
band was somewhat extravagant. In view -of such important advantages 
it would naturally not occur to her to annoy her husband. Presumably 

280 



some personal profit was the motive of her attitude in this matter today 
also. So Phoenix immediately altered her opinion and pretended to be 
in full agreement. 

"You are quite right; in my youthful inexperience I had not thought 
of that at first," she said, skillfully changing her course. "The old Tai 
toi's remarks about your husband, which I mentioned just now, I only 
know from hearsay, of course. It was really too simple of me to take 
such foolish talk seriously. Parents often talk like that in anger when 
their children do something wrong, and very quickly make a harsh 
judgment and threaten to beat them to death. But as soon as they see 
their children again, parental love conquers, and the first anger blows 
over. Why should not the old Tai tai fall in with the harmless wish of 
her son and give him a waiting maid to whom he has taken such a 
fancy? We should get to work at once. Luckily, the old Tai tai is in a 
good humor today. Shall I go on in advance and prepare the ground 
for you? Then, when you come along I will see that the other people 
there clear off, leaving you to discuss everything alone and undisturbed 
with the old Tai tai." 

The Princess was visibly pleased at her altered attitude. 

"Very 4vell, go on ahead, but do not mention anything to the old Tai 
tai yet! We must gently win her over by indirect means through Man- 
darin Duck herself. But first let us get to work on Mandarin Duck! She 
will probably resist and be bashful and coy in the beginning; I shall do 
my part later to dispel her doubts. Once we have Mandarin Duck's con- 
sent, the old Tai tai will not resist either, remembering the old rule: 
'Never keep anyone who wants to leave.' " 

"Splendid! Those are the right tactics!" agreed Phoenix eagerly. 
"Mandarin Duck will certainly co-operate. Indeed, she would be utterly 
stupid if she were to refuse such an opportunity, which would raise her 
from the position of a servant almost to that of a mistress, and wish to 
remain in service instead, with the prospect of becoming at some future 
time the wife of a fellow servant." 

"Quite right! Certainly she can only congratulate herself on this 
match. So go on ahead and speak to her! I shall take my breakfast 
quickly and follow you immediately." 

The clever Phoenix had in the meantime thought of something else. 
She was not at all so certain that Mandarin Duck would be amenable. 

If I fail to win over Mandarin Duck, the Princess will probably blame 
me and reproach me afterwards, she thought to herself. Better for us to 
go together. Then I shall be free of the responsibility of any possible 
failure. 

"Aunt Cheng sent me two baskets of freshly baked quails for the 
breakfast table a little while ago; I was about to set half of them aside 

281 



for you in any case," she said smiling. "Besides, the hem of your sedan 
chair curtain is torn. I chanced to hear your bearers talking about it 
just now as I was coming through the main gateway. They were carry- 
ing it away to have it repaired. Would it not be best if you come with 
me now in my carriage; we could have breakfast together, and then go 
on to the old Tai tai," 

The Princess saw the point of her suggestion; she dressed quickly 
and got into the carriage with her. Finally, Phoenix was cunningly able 
to arrange that the Princess should go on alone to the old Tai tai and 
that she should follow her later. Accordingly, the Princess went off to 
the Ancestress, exchanged a few conventional words with her, and left 
her soon again on the pretext that she wanted to visit Madame Cheng; 
in reality, however, she slipped off to the room of the maid, Mandarin 
Duck. Mandarin Duck was just sitting there doing needlework. When 
the Princess appeared she rose politely. 

"Oh, what a lovely piece of embroidery you are doing! Please let me 
see it!" said the Princess. And she took the embroidery out of the girl's 
hand, examined it for a while with exclamations of delight, and re- 
turned it to her again. Then she submitted the young girl to a searching 
inspection, noting the fact that she was wearing a silk tunic of pale 
violet the color of lotus root and water-green trousers, and that she 
had a suppje wasp waist, round, gently sloping shoulders, a narrow face 
oval as a duck's egg, hair that shone like lacquer, a small finely arched 
nose, and a delicate mole on each cheek. Mandarin Duck felt somewhat 
unpleasantly surprised at the close inspection and conjectured at once 
. that there must be something special behind it. 

"What brings the Tai tai here at such an early hour in the morning?" 
she asked, with a smile. 

The Princess let her retinue understand by a glance that she wished 
to be alone, whereupon the attendants went away. Then she sat down 
and took Mandarin Duck by the hand in a friendly way. 

"I have come here specially to congratulate you." 

Mandarin Duck thought she could guess up to three-tenths of what it 
was all about. She bowed her head, blushed, and remained silent. 

"My husband has regretted for a long time past that he has no one 
in his permanent environment on whom he can really rely," the Prin- 
cess continued. "It is repugnant to him to obtain what he wants in the 
usual way through a professional negotiator, for money. He has a 
prejudice against what one gets through such negotiators, and he thinks 
that a strange girl bought in this way might disappoint later through 
this or that physical or other defect and reveal all kinds of bad man- 
ners and seductive monkey tricks after two or three days. Now, for the 
past six months he has been dispassionately observing our girls here, 

282 



and after thorough scrutiny he has come to the conclusion that of them 
all there is only one he would consider having, and that is you. He finds 
to his satisfaction that meekness, reliability, and all the other feminine 
virtues are incorporated in you. Therefore, he now wishes to take you 
into his chambers. Your position would, of course, be quite different 
from that of the kind of girl one buys through some broker. You would 
have the rank of a secondary wife with the title of 'Aunt' and enjoy 
corresponding honor, respect and power. Does it not mean to you the 
fulfillment of everything you could possibly wish that my husband has 
chosen you and now offers you a position which will place you beyond 
all the intrigues and envy of your kind? So now come with me to the 
old Tai tai to obtain her consent J" 

She had stood up and was just taking Mandarin Duck by the hand to 
lead her out. Contrary to her expectation, however, the blushing girl 
withdrew her hand and refused to go with her. 

"You need not be bashful, and whatever is to be said to the old Tai 
tai I shall say myself; you only need to follow me," the Princess said 
with gentle persuasion. 

But Mandarin Duck still kept her eyes on the ground and did not 
move from the spot. 

"Surely you have nothing against it?" persisted the Princess. "You 
would indeed be silly if you turned down the prospect of being the Nai 
nai of a gentleman and preferred to be the wife of a servant. If you say 
yes, you may expect to have a most pleasant life. You are aware, of 
course, that I am of a kind and peaceable nature, and my husband also 
will treat you in the best way, the more so if you make him happy with 
a little girl or perhaps a little boy by the end of one year. Then you will 
be in exactly the same position aslffyself, and will be able to command 
the staff just as I do, and the servants will obey your slightest wish. So 
be reasonable and do not miss this favorable opportunity ! It will never 
be offered to you again. How is this? You still keep silent you, who 
are usually so wide awake? Have you anything on your mind? Do 
speak out! Ah, I understand, you are shy to say 'y es ' yourself and 
would prefer to leave it to your parents. Very well, I shall come to an 
understanding with your family." With this the Princess broke off the 
difficult negotiations for the time being and went to look for Phoenix. 

Meantime Phoenix had begun by questioning her waiting maid Little 
Ping. Little Ping had shaken her head doubtfully and confirmed her 
own misgivings regarding the success of the plan. 

"I have tried in vain to dissuade the Princess," Phoenix said to her. 
"Now she will have to put up with the public disgrace of possible fail- 
ure. But she will be here at any moment. Go to the kitchen and have 
the quails roasted for breakfast, and see that there are some other suit- 

283 



able dishes to go with them ! While the Princess is with me you need no 
come in; you can go into the park for the time being! Come back again 
when she is gone!" 

Little Ping carried out her orders in the kitchen, and then she went 
for a walk in the garden. There she met Mandarin Duck. When the 
Princess had left her, Mandarin Duck had thought it wisest to make her- 
self invisible for a time. "If the old Tai tai should ask for me, say I am 
ill!" she said to her companion, Amber, and then she disappeared into 
the park. 

"Ah, here comes the new aunt!" she heard herself jokingly called by 
Little Ping. 

"Are you taking part in the conspiracy against me with your mis- 
tress?" replied Mandarin Duck, flushing angrily. 

Little Ping regretted her thoughtless joke and, smiling, drew the 
other over to a ledge of rock under a plane tree, and assured her that 
Phoenix was not taking part in the conspiracy at all but, on the con- 
trary, was on her side. Mandarin Duck, her cheeks red with excitement, 
replied: "With Gold Ring dead, we are barely a dozen waiting maids 
here now Pearl, Amber, Gray Cloud, Bright Cloud, Cuckoo, Nephrite 
Bangle, Musk, Blue Ink, Little Cloud's maid Blue Thread, you, and my- 
self. Formerly we always told one another everything and confided in 
one another. Recently all you others go your own way, only I keep to 
the old ways and stick to the rule of confiding in you when there is 
something special on. And so I will also now confide to you my solemn 
decision: Quite apart from the fact that Prince Shieh now wishes to 
make me his secondary wife without more ado, and even if he wished 
to make me his chief wife in case of the death of the Princess, and even 
if he were to submit his offer of marriage according to all the rules of 
good form through three negotiators and the sending of the six kinds 
of bridal gifts, nevertheless I would not consider it ! . . ." 

"Why, what kind of secret discussions are going on here?" a voice 
blurted out from behind the trunk of the plane tree, and Pearl, who had 
slipped along unnoticed, sat down laughing beside the two others on 
the rock. Little Ping explained matters briefly to Pearl. 

"What an old libertine!" said Pearl, disapprovingly. "Of course he 
has no more prospects with women of his own station, so that's why he 
does it this way." 

"I know how you could foil him in his project," said Little Ping. 

"How then?" asked Mandarin Duck curiously. 

'Simply tdl the old Tai tai that you have already given yourself to 
Mr. Chia Lien! The father cannot very well take his son's sweetheart." 

Mandarin Duck took her suggestion, which was meant as a joke, ex- 
tremely badly. "You stupid thing!" she hissed. "You have seen only 

284 



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*Vt..-**t>t>' \VM***^rfe39u 




recently how Madame Phoenix raged when she caught her husband 
with Little Pao's wife. I would only expose myself to the greatest un- 
pleasantness." 

"I have a better suggestion," interjected Pearl, laughing. "Say to the 
old Tai tai that she should make the Prince believe that she has already 
promised you to my little master. The Prince will have a fit!" 

"Fie, you two depraved creatures, to make game of me in my pre- 
dicament and repay my confidence with mockery!" wailed Mandarin 
Duck, overcome with anger and shame. 

"Do not take it so badly, dear sister!" said the two, trying to calm 
her. "We were getting on so well together. A little joke like that among 
good friends is not really so wicked. But, seriously, what are you think- 
ing of doing?" 

"I'm not thinking of doing anything at all! I am just not going to 
appear! That will be enough!" 

Little Ping shook her head doubtfully. 

"That won't help you much. The Prince is a stubborn person and 
will not give way. If he does not succeed now, then it will be later on. 
The old Tai tai will not live forever, and cannot protect you your whole 
life long. When she is dead he will take possession of you by force. That 
would be still worse, whereas now the matter would still have some for- 
mality at least." 

"Pshaw! He would not succeed so quickly. First of all, as her son, he 
would have to do the three years' mourning and during that time would 
have to put all thoughts of marriage out of his head. Meanwhile I would 
gain time to know what to do. If the worst comes to the worst I will cut 
off my hair and go into a convent." 

"You have courage!" the two companions sighed admiringly. 

"I will take a chance!" declared Mandarin Duck firmly. "The Prin- 
cess intends to apply to my parents, as she said just now. My parents 
live in the southern capital. Ha-ha! She can be looking for them there 
for a long time!" 

"But they are not lost to the world. As far as I know they are stew- 
ards of a house there; they will find them, all right," objected Little 
Ping. "Besides, you have your elder brother and your sister-in-law 
here in the neighborhood. They can turn to them too. It is a pity that 
you were born and grew up here in the house, and are therefore not so 
free as we are, who only came to belong to it later." 

"Ha, that makes no difference to me! The stubborn ox cannot be 
made to drink. . . ." 

"Be quiet, here comes your sister-in-law!" said Pearl, interrupting 
her talk. 

"They have sent the right person! That is just a suitable errand for 

286 



this capable universal camel-dealer!" muttered Mandarin Duck con- 
temptuously. Meantime the sister-in-law had come up to them. The 
three stood up and wanted to make room for her on the ledge of rock. 

"No, thank you. Do not stir!" said the sister-in-law. "I only want to 
discuss something with our girl." 

"What is the hurry? Do take a seat. We are just passing the time 
guessing riddles; you can guess with us," prattled Pearl and Little Ping, 
pretending not to understand. 

"Don't mind this nonsense! What is the matter, then? Out with it!" 
said Mandarin Duck, turning to the sister-in-law. 

"Come with me! Not here!" said the sister-in-law, beckoning her. "I 
have a pleasant bit of news for you." 

"Ah, you've come on the instructions of Prince Shieh, of course?" 

"Well, come along, then, so that I can tell you details of your won- 
derful luck!" 

Mandarin Duck stood up, drew up a mouthful of saliva from her 
throat, and spat it right into her sister-in-law's face. 

"Kindly keep your dirt to yourself and be off and get as far away 
from me as possible!" she began angrily. "I won't listen to this stupid 
talk of good luck and pleasant news ! You really behave as if I were to 
be envied for the prospect of pining away my life at the side of an old 
tyrant, a profligate old man! That means wanting to chase me into a 
fiery pit with your eyes open! But I will not be misled by anyone, and 
I will decide my own weal or woe for myself!" 

The dumfounded sister-in-law had not expected such a quick and 
thorough rebuff, and went away grumbling and sulking. Pearl and 
Little Ping tried for some time to calm the excited Mandarin Duck; 
then, turning to Pearl, Little Ping said: "From where did you come so 
unexpectedly just now? We didn't notice you coming." 

"I had been with Miss Grief of Spring to fetch Pao Yu but I arrived 
a moment too late for he had already gone back to the Begonia Court- 
yard, so they said. That seemed doubtful to me, for I would have met 
him on the way. I thought he would be with Black Jade, but he was not 
there either. On the way back I saw you in the distance, so I hid myself 
in the bushes and slipped along quietly, and did a little eavesdropping. 
I am only surprised that your four eyes did not discover me." 

"And I am surprised that your six eyes did not notice me," a voice 
was suddenly heard to say behind their backs. Three startled heads 
turned around as Pao Yu stepped out laughing from behind a project- 
ing rock. 

"Where did you come from? My eyes are worn out watching for 
you!" said Pearl. 

"I saw you long ago and disappeared just for fun. The way you 

287 



stretched your neck this way and that way and ran here and there 
searching desperately it was too funny ! Finally I chose your own nook 
here to hide in." 

"Let us look around quickly! Perhaps someone else will suddenly 
emerge," said Little Ping in joke. 

"So now he too has spied on us successfully," said Mandarin Ducl^, 
stretching herself out on the rock and yawning. Pao Yu shook her to 
make her sit up. 

"You will get cold on the bare stone. Better come in with me. It will 
be more comfortable, and you can refresh yourself with a bowl of tea." 
And the four of them went off to the Begonia Courtyard. 

Meantime Princess Shieh had got information from Phoenix about 
Mandarin Duck's family and learned that the parents had a position as 
house stewards in the southern capital and that it would not be easy to 
get hold of them, but that on the other hand an elder brother and his 
wife were within reach at any time, for both of them were in the service 
of the Ancestress. The brother, whose name was Wen Hsiang, was a 
buyer, and his wife was chief laundress. The Princess had had the wife 
called at once and had sent her to importune and harangue the obsti- 
nate Mandarin Duck, with the unfortunate results already reported. 

"She abused me, using expressions which I cannot repeat before the 
Tai tai, and Pearl too attacked me," the sister-in-law complained, as she 
reported to the Princess the rebuff she had received. Because Phoenix 
was present she did not dare to mention that Little Ping also had at- 
tacked her. "The old master should look around for another woman. 
That nasty female would only bring him the greatest unhappiness." 

"How did Pearl know about the business? Was anyone else pres- 
ent?" asked the Princess, suspiciously. 

"Yes, Little Ping." 

"Little Ping? What was she doing there?" interjected Phoenix, feign- 
ing ignorance. "Did she also take sides against you? You should have 
given her a box on the ear, the deserter! I have been looking for her 
half the day." 

"I don't mean that she was actually present. I saw her from a dis- 
tance, and I may have made a mistake," said the other, embarrassed, 
trying to correct herself. She did not want to incur the disfavor of the 
dreaded Phoenix. Happily, it escaped Princess Shieh that Phoenix had 
been playing a double game. 

When she told her husband in the evening of the failure of her mis- 
sion, Prince Shieh sent for his son Chia Lien. 

''Go to the southern capital and bring old Chin Tsai, Mandarin 
Duck's father, here to me!" he ordered. "Somebody can surely be 
found to hold his job for him in the meantime." 

288 



Chia Lien felt little desire for this journey and tried by every possible 
excuse to get out of the request. 

"The journey will.be useless. According to recent news old Chin Tsai 
has been dying of consumption for some time," he lied. "His coffin has 
been ready for a long while. Perhaps he has died already. And one can- 
not do much with the mother, she is deaf . . ." 

"Get out of my sight, you ill-bred jailbird's brat!" the Prince inter- 
rupted him angrily, and showed him the door. Then he had Mandarin 
Duck's brother brought in. But the next morning the brother had to 
report failure to his master. Mandarin Duck had definitely refused. The 
Prince raged. 

"I know, it has been like that since ancient times; women prefer the 
young to the old," he complained. "Probably she has designs on my son 
or on Pao Yu. But she must give up any such ideas. I would like to 
know what rascal here would have the impudence to want her after I 
have stretched out my hand for her. And if sLe thinks she could marry 
outside the house with the help of the old Tai tai, she should think twire 
about it. Whoever she marries, she remains within my reach. Unless she 
prefers death or a convent, I will still force her, if not by fair means, 
then by foul. She would do better to change her obstinate mind and 
agree. Go and tell her that! And take care not to tell me lies. To make 
sure, I will get my wife to speak to her again. If you come back to me 
with a 'No' and my wife brings a 'Yes,' I warn you to mind your skull." 

Wen Hsiang promised to do his best, went to his sister, and repeated 
the Prince's words to her. Mandarin Duck was speechless at first at the 
threat. But after a moment she had pulled herself together. 

"Very well, I will give in and will go to the old Tai tai at once to in- 
form her of my decision, and your wife shall accompany me there," she 
declared firmly. 

Pleased at her apparent change of mind, the brother fetched his wife, 
and so Mandarin Duck, accompanied by her sister-in-law, went to the 
Ancestress's apartments. She found the old Tai tai in the midst of a big 
family circle: Madame Cheng, Aunt Hsueh, Widow Chu, Phoenix, Pao 
Yu, Precious Clasp, and the three Spring girls were present, as well as a 
swarm of waiting maids and serving women and several wives of the 
majordomo. Princess Shieh was missing. 

Mandarin Duck went fearlessly up to the Ancestress, threw herself 
with a loud cry at her feet, and began to relate the outrageous demand 
which Prince Shieh had made of her, how he had importuned her, first 
through the Princess, then in the park through her sister-in-law, and 
finally through her brother; how he had pressed her, tried to intimidate 
her by threats, insulted her, and accused her falsely of an association 
with Pao Yu and Chia Lien, and had threatened never to let her out of 

289 



reach of his claws as long as she lived, even if she were to marry some- 
one somewhere else, and even if he had to fetch her down from the 
clouds. But she now solemnly declared before all present that she would 
remain unmarried all her life long, and that if the old Tai tai should try 
to force her to marry, she would prefer to take a knife and cut her 
throat. She wished to serve the old Tai tai faithfully as long as she lived, 
and if the old Tai tai should die one day, she would follow her volun- 
tarily into the Realm of Shades or else cut off her hair and become a 
nun. 

"Heaven, earth, sun, and moon, all good and wicked spirits, be wit- 
ness that I sincerely mean it;, and may I suffocate from thick boils in my 
throat if I lie!" she cried solemnly. 

At the same time she quickly pulled out a scissors which she had 
hidden in her sleeve, loosened her hair, and began wildly cutting off her 
beautiful long braids. Luckily, she did not get very far in her work of 
destruction, for some of the waiting maids and serving women standing 
by fell excitedly upon her and stopped her. 

The Ancestress trembled all over, she was so excited and startled by 
the unexpected scene. 

"What! They are trying to take away the best, the truest, and the 
only dependable support I have!" she cried indignantly. And then, turn- 
ing to Madame Cheng, she said: "That shows all your falseness! Out- 
wardly you are a wonder of goodness and filial devotion, but behind 
my back you plot vile actions! Do not begrudge me just what" is dearest 
tome!" 

Madame Cheng, who had been addressed so ungraciously, though in 
reality she was not implicated, stood up and endured the undeserved 
reprimand of the Ancestress humbly and in silence like a well-behaved 
daughter-in-law. The other ladies present were likewise hindered 
through respect from uttering a word of reply. Just at the beginning of 
the scene the Widow Chu had pushed the young girls out the door in 
order not to let them hear Mandarin Duck's painful revelations. But 
Taste of Spring, Madame Cheng's stepdaughter, had stood under the 
window and attentively followed the further development of the scene. 
It grieved her to see how her stepmother had been wrongfully repri- 
manded, and how no one had dared to say a word in her defense. 
Bravely and resolutely she went in again and walked up to the Ances- 
tress, with a smile. "The Tai tai is not to blame," she said. "After all 
she cannot be held responsible for the deeds of the elder brother-in- 
law." 

'The child is right. Really, I have become rather thoughtless with 
age," the Ancestress admitted with a smile, and turning to Aunt Hsueh 
she continued: "Do not laugh at me! I have wronged your good, kind 

290 



sister. My reprimand should really be made to my other daughter-in- 
law, the wife of my elder son, who has taken part in this intrigue 
through fear of her husband." 

And then turning to Pao Yu, she said: "Why did you not draw my 
attention to the fact that I had done an injustice to your mother?" 

"The respect due to my uncle and aunt forbade me to take sides with 
my mother. Naturally, I was wrong and must ask her pardon." 

"You are right. Kneel down and ask her not to be angry, and to for- 
give me on account of my age and for your sake." 

Pao Yu knelt down obediently in front of his mother and was about 
to begin the required speech of apology, but Madame Cheng drew him 
to his feet with a smile and, as a devoted daughter-in-law, refused to 
accept an apology from his mouth excusing her mother-in-law. 

"Now, Phoenix, what do you think?" said the Ancestress, turning to 
Phoenix. 

"Oh, if I were perchance not your granddaughter but your grandson, 
I would certainly have been after Mandarin Duck long ago myself," 
said Phoenix, cleverly evading the delicate question with a joke, for 
she could not very v/ell take sides openly against Prince and Princess 
Shieh. 

"Very well then, I will give her up to you. You can have her," de- 
clared the Ancestress. 

"Thank you, but give me time until my next rebirth. Perhaps I shall 
come into the world as a man next time, and then I shall fetch her." 

"Take her and give her to your husband ! Then your father-in-law will 
surely lose all further desire for her." 

"Oh, she is too good for my husband. Two stale rolls like myself and 
Little Ping are good enough for him." 

The whole company burst out in loud laughter. Then Princess Shieh 
was announced. 

The Princess had come along quite unsuspecting, and only outside 
the door was she secretly informed of what had happened by some serv- ' 
ing women. In her dismay she .would have liked to get away again at 
once, but it was too late, for she had already been announced inside 
and Madame Cheng had come out to greet her. For good or ill she had 
therefore to make the best of the painful visit. 

There was an embarrassed silence as she entered. The Ancestress 
made no reply whatever to her tsing an. Phoenix ha^ already gone away 
on some excuse, and so had Mandarin Duck. Aunt Hsueh and Madame 
Cheng took their leave shortly afterwards, one after the other, tactfully, 
in order to avoid witnessing the humiliation of the Princess. 

"You have played marriage broker for your husband," the Ances- 
tress began, when she was alone with the Princess. "It was no tloubt 

291 



very kind and self-sacrificing of you, but it seems to me that your con- 
sideration for your husband goes a bit too far. You have children and 
grandchildren, and yet you still let yourself be tyrannized by your 
husband?" 

"I have already called him to account at various times, but unfor- 
tunately without success. It is so difficult to advise him; the old Tai tai 
knows that herself," said the Princess in embarrassed self-defense. 

"Then you would no doubt even go so far as to commit a murder for 
your husband, if he were to suggest it to you?" asked the Ancestress 
sharply. "You know how dependent I am on Mandarin Duck. My sec- 
ond daughter-in-law is ailing and cannot give me much attention. Phoe- 
nix is indeed helpful, but she has to look after everything in the house, 
therefore she cannot devote much time to me. So I have only Mandarin 
Duck to count on. She is zealous and efficient; she knows what I need 
and knows^my peculiarities and my wishes, and in the course of her life 
which she has spent in this house she has devoted herself entirely to me. 
In short, she is indispensable to me. I am old and cannot very easily get 
accustomed to a new maid. I was just about to send word to your hus- 
band that if he must have another wife, he may buy one at my expense; 
I shall place eighteen thousand taels at his disposal for the purpose; 
but he shall not get Mandarin Duck under any circumstances. She is 
more precious to me for the remainder of my life than he is, for all his 
filial devotion, even if he were to exert himself for my well-being day 
and night. And that is enough about that! It is a good thing that you 
have come yourself, for you can deliver this message from me to him 
personally straight away. That is surer than if he were to hear it 
through my servants." 

And with this the matter was settled for the Ancestress. She had the 
other ladies recalled and enjoyed herself with them over a game of 
mah-jongg. 

While they were in the middle of the game Chia Lien came sneaking 
along cautiously. He had been sent by his father, Prince Shieh, to spy 
out the result of the Princess's mission. Just in the nick of time he ran 
into Little Ping outside the door. She told him how matters stood and 
warned him not to appear before the old Tai tai. She had been very 
angry indeed a short while ago and now, during the game, Phoenix had 
at last succeeded in getting her out of her bad humor to some extent by 
her funny tricks. 

"Well, since she is in a good humor again I can venture to show my- 
self," Chia Lien insisted, and in spite of being warned came nearer to 
the waiting maid. When Phoenix saw him sticking his head inside the 
door she gave him a warning look, which mefint to say that he should 
disappear as quickly as possible. At the same moment Princess Shieh 

292 



deliberately stepped in front of the Ancestress, on the pretext of having 
to pour out some tea, in order to screen him from her eyes, but the 
Ancestress had already caught sight of him. 

"Who is outside? It seems to be one of the sons of the house," she 
said. 

"I shall go and look," said Phoenix, and slipped out in order not to 
be there when her husband was rebuked. Chia Lien, having once been 
discovered, could not very well deny his presence. He walked up to the 
Ancestress as coolly as possible and with a smile offered his tsing an! 

"I only wanted to know whether the old Tai tai will be present on the 
fourteenth, when the majordomo Lai Sheng gives his banquet in honor 
of the promotion of his son. If so, I want to have the large sedan chair 
put in order in good time," he began. 

"If that is all you have to say, then you could come in without cere- 
mony and need not first creep around outside like a ghost," replied the 
Ancestress crossly. 

"I did not want to disturb the old Tai tai at her game and only 
wanted to ask my wife to come out," he said in embarrassed excuse. 

"You could very well have waited until your wife went home. This 
ghostlike lurking and sneaking around is not mannerly! You frighten 
me unnecessarily ! And now kindly let your wife finish her game with 
me and do not disturb us any more! Run off now and weave some 
more plots with Little Chao's wife against your wife!" retorted the 
Ancestress indignantly. 

"Little Pao, not Little Chao," Mandarin Duck corrected her, while 
they all laughed at the confusion of the name. The Ancestress, too, 
smiled. 

"Well, Little Pao or Little Chao ! I have no memory for such treach- 
eries!" she burst out heatedly. "In my time I came here as the young 
wife of a great-grandson of this house. Now I have great-grandsons. In 
the fifty or sixty years since then I have lived through much and seen 
many things, but such a base scandal as this I have never before ex- 
perienced. Off with you! Out of my sight! What are you doing, still 
lurking around here?" 

Silent and abashed, the culprit withdrew. 

"I warned you, and yet you stumbled right into the net!" Little Ping 
called after him derisively outside. 

"The old man is to blame for the whole scandal, and we two have to 
suffer for it!" said Chia Lien peevishly to Princess Shieh, who had hur- 
ried out after him. 

"Fie, how can you be so unfilial! Other sons suffer even death for 
their fathers!" his mother too rebuked him now. "Take care not to 

293 



irritate your father these days! If you do you will get a thrashing into 
the bargain!" 

"Will you please go to him first?" her son begged her dejectedly. "I 
don't dare." 

So Princess Shieh went off to her husband alone and informed him 
of the sad result of her mission. The Prince realized that further steps 
would be useless, so he swallowed the insults which had been aimed at 
him, but he was so annoyed that, under the pretext of being ill, he did 
not show himself to the Ancestress for some time, and left his wife and 
his son to make the daily duty visits on his behalf. Moreover, he sent 
out his servants to look around for another suitable wife for him else- 
where. At last he succeeded in finding, for the price of eight hundred 
taels, a fresh seventeen-year-old to wed and conduct to bis chambers. 



CHAPTER 28 

The Mad Robber Count has improper designs and experiences a flog- 
ging. The Cold Knight sets off on a journey to avoid trouble. 

1 HE SON OF LAI SHENG, MAJORDOMO OF THE YUNGKUO PALACE, HAD 
attained to a high official position thanks to the patronage of his former 
princely masters. The proud parents had decided to celebrate the happy 
event duly by a banquet in their home lasting three days. The first day 
was reserved for the noble gentlemen and ladies and young girls from 
the Yungkuo palace and the Ningkuo palace, as well as some important 
guests from mandarin circles. On the second day the relatives and 
friends were to be feasted, and on the third day former colleagues from 
both palaces. The Princess Ancestress had graciously accepted the invi- 
tation, and on the fourteenth, accompanied by many members of the 
clan, both male and female, she personally graced with her presence 
the home of the former majordomo and his wife. The garden, with its 
beautiful pavilions, was reserved to the ladies, while the gentlemen 
were entertained in the reception hall. 

Among the guests was a certain Liu Hsiang Lien, a close friend of 
Pao Yu and of the late Chin Chung. This orphaned scion of an ancient 
noble family was a merry fellow who was not much addicted to his 
books, but rather favored hunting and and military pursuits, flute and 
lute playing, wine and dice; neither did he disdain the abodes of flowers 
and willows. The handsome, well-built young man possessed, moreover, 
a great liking and talent for the theater and occasionally appeared in 
amateur performances as the gifted impersonator of the youthful hero- 
ine of sentimental "Wind and Moon" pieces. On the occasion of some 

294 



jfc* * 




such amateur performance the libertine Hsueh Pan had seen and ad- 
mired him, and had been unable to dismiss him from his mind ever 
since. He had a burning desire to make his acquaintance and become 
friends with him, erroneously believing him to be one of those loose- 
living theatrical youths who are ready to be seduced for an amorous 
game of "Wind and Moon." Therefore, his joy knew no b.ounds when 
he met him by chance at the feast, and he firmly decided to make 
friends with him then and there. 

The host had engaged a troupe of actors to entertain his guests, and 
at the special wish of Prince Chen, who was merry from wine and who 
also was an admirer of his art and his person, young Liu had performed 
in two acts of one of his own pieces. Afterwards the Prince had made 
him sit beside him at the table for distinguished guests, and drawn him 
into a long and affable conversation. And so Hsueh Pan, who was sit- 
ting near by, became acquainted with him and, as he grew more and 
more exhilarated by wine, importuned him so obtrusively with insidious 
questions and amiable attentions that it gradually became irksome to 
young Liu, who availed of a favorable moment to rise from the table, 
and quickly decided to leave the party. 

The host's son asked him to stay a while longer as Pao Yu, who was 
over there with the ladies, specially wished to speak to him alone after 
the company had risen from the table a wish easily understood, as 
Pao Yu had to be wary of exposing himself to the chatter of his watch- 
ful cousins or to the mockery of the tipsy gentlemen. But if he, Liu, 
really must go already, perhaps he would wait just a little until the 
host's son had called out Pao Yu. Young Liu agreed to this, and his 
host sent a serving woman over to Pao Yu to call him away discreetly 
from the ladies. 

Pao Yu took his friend to the library, which was somewhat secluded 
and where two people could chat undisturbed. 

"I am worried about our good Chin Chung's tomb. Have you been 
out there recently?" began Pao Yu. 

"Yes, quite recently, when out hunting with falcons. We were hunt- 
ing scarcely two li away, and I took the opportunity of visiting the 
tomb secretly. I was afraid that it might be washed away or swimming 
in water after the heavy rains of last summer. My misgivings were 
well founded; it looked very much in need of repair, so I went out there 
again two days later with two coolies, and put it in order. The job cost 
me a few coppers." 

"Ah, now I understand. Last month I sent my servant Ming Yen out 
there and ordered him to lay on the tomb as an offering ten ripe lotus 
kernels which I had plucked from the pond in the park with my own 
hand. On his return I asked him in what condition he had found the 

296 



tomb and whether it had suffered very much from the summer rains. He 
said that, on the contrary, it looked much better than it had looked be- 
fore, in fact like new. I thought at once that it must have been the 
work of some friend. Now I know that it was you. Unfortunately, I find 
it most difficult to get away from home, I am continually under observa- 
tion; every step I take is watched and criticized. Therefore, I could not 
see to the tomb personally. And the silly thing is that I cannot even 
spend money on my own, although there is really enough money in our 
family." 

"Do not worry on that account! After all, you have me. Call on me 
with confidence any time you want something from outside! More- 
over, I have seen to it that on' his next anniversary, the first of the 
tenth month, our dead friend shall receive a worthy burnt offering." 

"I am glad of that. I was going to send Ming Yen to you about it; 
but you are such a drifting water plant, one can never know where to 
look for you." 

"That is true, and now I have another long journey before me. This 
time I shalt certainly not be back for three or four years." 

"So long? What, then, is driving you away?" 

"I cannot explain it to you now, in such a hurry. You will hear of it 
later. But now I would like to go." 

"Could we not have another talk again this evening when the com- 
pany has dispersed?" 

"Unfortunately, it cannot be ! I do not want to stay here any longer, 
or else there will be a quarrel with your cousin Hsueh Pan you under- 
stand?" 

"Yes, I well understand. Indeed, it is best for you to get out of the 
way. But before you set out on your long journey, we will see one an- 
other to say good-by, won't we? Promise me!" 

"Of course I shall say good-by to you before I go. And please do 
not speak to anyone about my journey! Now go in again and let me 
disappear unobtrusively!" 

They separated, and young Liu went towards the gateway. He was 
just about to leave through the gate when he encountered Hsueh Pan, 
who shouted: "Where is' little Liu hiding? Who has let little Liu go 
out?" as he watched and searched for him. Young Liu's eyes flashed 
angrily when he saw the drunken fellow and heard him bawling. He 
would have liked best to knock him to the ground with a powerful blow, 
but consideration for his host prevented him from committing a violent 
outtage on his premises. Meantime Hsueh Pan had noticed him, and 
now greeted him as if he were a jewel he had lost and found again. 

"Where do you want to go, dear little one?" he babbled, catching 
him by the arm. 

297 



"I'm going to take a little exercise, I'll come back again," replied 
young Liu. 

"Ah, don't go away! There's no life here without you. Stay for my 
sake! I will do anything for you that you ask. Do you want money? Do 
you want a position? Your elder brother can get anything for you if 
you are just a little nice to him." 

Young Liu felt greatly disgusted with the tiresome fellow. If he 
could only fix him once and for all! Then a good idea came to him. 
Assuming friendliness, he drew the other aside into a corner. 

"Do you really want to be my friend, *r are you only pretending?" 
he asked in a low voice. 

"But, dear, good brother, how can you still ask such a thing?" re- 
plied the other joyfully, eying him askance. "If I do not mean it sin- 
cerely, may I fall dead immediately!" 

"Very well. But here in this house we are hampered. Let us wait a 
little while. I will go away alone first. Follow me to my home a little 
later on ! We will have a bit of a carouse tonight at my place. Besides, I 
have two charming young things there for company. But come alone, 
without servants ! I myself have people to serve us." 

Hsueh Pan became almost sober again with joy at his words. 

"Really? Do you want to?" 

"How can you still be doubtful?" 

"But where shall I find you?" 

"I live outside the city walls in front of the North Gate. You could 
stay the night with me." 

"Oh, if I only have you I shall not think any more of home." 

"Very well, I shall await you by the bridge at the North Gate. And 
see that you are not noticed going away from here!" 

Hsueh Pan promised, and the two returned to the table and con- 
tinued the carouse for a while longer. In his excessive joy Hsueh Pan 
tossed down so much wine that within a short time he was nine-tenths 
drunk. Young Liu soon left the table again, sent his servant home, and 
rode alone to the bridge in front of the Northern Gate. After the time 
required to take a moderate meal, he saw Hsueh Pan approaching 
at a trot on his big saddle horse. He was a ridiculous sight as he rode 
along, swaying to and fro in the saddle, his round head ceaselessly 
turning to right and left like a peddler's drum, his mouth open and his 
staring wine-drunk little eyes peering frantically about him. In the dusk 
he naturally failed to see Liu, who had stopped by the bridge, and 
quickly rode past him farther and farther along the highroad, out into 
the open country. In spite of his angry mood, Liu had to laugh at the 
blundering fellow, and he followed him at a discreet distance. As the 
district became more lonely and deserted, Hsueh Pan turned round his 

298 



horse in a circle and made for the road back. Then at last he caught 
sight of young Liu. 

"You are a decent fellow, you have kept your word!" he called out 
to him joyfully 

"Farther, farther! We go straight on for a while," Liu urged him, 
laughing, and trotted quickly ahead of him along the highroad. Hsueh 
Pan trotted after him, panting with exhaustion. At a very lonely spot, 
near a pond surrounded by reeds, Liu stopped, dismounted from his 
horse, and tied it to a tree. 

"Get down ! Here at this spot we will confirm our union by a solemn 
oath. Accursed be he who breaks faith and 'betrays, the other. You swear 
first!" he cried grimly to Hsueh Pan. 

"Agreed!" babbled Hsueh Pan, slipping down from the saddle and 
likewise tying his horse to the trunk of a tree. Then he knelt down on 
the ground and began solemnly: "I hereby vow eternal fidelity. Should 
I change my feelings and become a traitor, may the punishment of 
heaven and the vengeance of earth fall on me . . .!" 

He had not yet finished his oath when he heard behind him a whiz- 
zing sound and immediately felt a powerful blow on his neck as if from 
an iron cudgel. Everything went black before his eyes, and golden stars 
danced through the darkness. He lost his balance and toppled over. 

"Weakling!" snorted Liu contemptuously at the man lying in the 
dust. "He has felt only three-tenths of my anger as yet and already he 
is finished. Wait, there's more to come!" 

He dealt him a few blows of his fist in the face and several kicks in 
the body, which brought the other down again and again as often as he 
tried to raise himself up. 

"You call that friendship?" groaned Hsueh Pan. "If you did not 
wish to associate with me, why could you not say so in a friendly way? 
Why this deceit and maltreatment?" 

He was about to go on to angry scolding, but Liu rudely cut him 
short. 

"For whom have you taken me, the great Liu, in your blindness?" he 
shouted at him angrily. "If you try any impudence, you will get a 
lesson!" 

And he gave him thirty or forty strokes of his horsewhip, then 
dragged him by the left foot to the muddy bank of the near-by reedy 
swamp and flung him down flat in a stagnant pool some steps from the 
edge. 

"Do you know me now? Will you make an apology?" he asked him 
furiously. 

Hsueh Pan, half sobered by the rough treatment and the cold dous- 
ing, was fully occupied in dragging himself out of the mud and slime, 

299 



and only answered with miserable grunts and groans. Liu threw the 
riding whip onto the bank and belabored him anew with a few heavy 
blows of his fist. 

Hsueh Pan heaved himself up onto dry ground with such an effort 
that his sinews almost snapped, and howled: "I admit that you are 
a respectable, honest fellow! I misjudged you. But that is the fault of 
others, who led me astray with their talk. . . ." 

"Leave the others alone!" Liu interrupted him angrily. "Kindly keep 
to the point and to the present time!" 

"Well, I admit my error. You are a good, respectable man, a perfect 
man of honor." 

"That does not yet satisfy me. If I am to grant you mercy, kindly ex- 
press yourself somewhat more courteously and humbly!" 

"Dear younger brother!" panted Hsueh Pan. He got no further. The 
other had once more dealt him a blow on the face. 

"Dear elder brother! . . ." Slap! Two blows again fell on his face. 

"Good old master!" whined the humbled Hsueh Pan. "Graciously 
have pity on me! My foolish eyes were struck with blindness. From 
now on I shall respect and honor you." 

"Drink two mouthfuls of this puddle water!" ordered Liu, to fill the 
measure of his humiliation. 

Hsueh Pan put on a grimace of disgust. 

"That dirty water? But no one could drink that!" he ventured to 
reply, and again Liu dealt him another blow of his fist. 

"Very well, very well, I shall drink it," Hsueh Pan hastened to say, 
in order to ward off further ill. And he complied with the order by 
sticking his head down in the slimy pool and filling his mouth with the 
revolting fluid. But he did not get as far as swallowing it. He belched 
and had to vomit out the liquid together with the contents of his 
stomach. 

"You are lucky that the air here does not suit me any longer," de- 
clared Liu brusquely, and, repelled by the stench of the place, he 
turned hurriedly away, loosened his horse, and trotted off. 

The sudden disappearance of Hsueh Pan and young Liu from the 
table had not passed unnoticed. When they did not return, the whole 
house was searched for them, but they were not found. At last the news 
spread about that they had been seen trotting off quickly in the direc- 
tion of the northern city gate. Thereupon Prince Chen sent his son 
Chia Yung with several servants out to the northern gate to look for 
them. About two short miles beyond the bridge by the gate, near a 
pond surrounded by reeds, the searchers found Hsueh Pan's horse 
tied to a tree. The rider cannot be far from where the horse is, they 
thought to themselves. And right enough, they now heard a miserable 

300 



groaning and long-drawn-out cries for help coming from the edge of 
the pond. They dismounted and hurried to the spot whence the calk 
came. There they found Hsueh Pan lying among the reeds, his clothes 
wet through and dirty, his face disfigured, bruised, and covered with 
welts, lying like a water hog on the ground among the reeds. Chia 
Yung, who at once guessed nine-tenths of the truth, had his helpless 
uncle, who was groaning with pain, assisted to his feet by his servants. 

"See how the great uncle now seeks out swampy puddles and muddy 
pools for the scenes of his amorous adventures," Chia Yung teased 
him. "He has probably bewitched the water-dragon Prince with his 
charm? Apparently he knocked against the dragon's horns in doing 
so." 

Hsueh Pan was so ashamed that he would have liked best to creep 
into a crack in the ground. In his present bruised condition it was im- 
possible for him to think of climbing into the saddle. There was noth- 
ing else to do but hire a sedan chair from the near-by Temple of Kuan 
ti, the god of war, and take Hsueh Pan back to town in it. At his urgent 
entreaty he was not taken back to the banquet, as Chia Yung had 
maliciously wanted, but was carried straight home. 

So Chia Yung returned alone to the banquet table in Lai Sheng's 
house, and his report of his adventures made Prince Chen smirk and 
grin knowingly. 

"Being trapped like that will do him no harm at all!" said the Prince 
maliciously. 

When he went to visit him in his home later in the evening, he was 
informed that Hsueh Pan was ill and could not see anyone. When Aunt 
Hsueh and Precious Clasp arrived home somewhat later, Hsueh Pan's 
secondary wife Lotus met them with tear-stained eyes and pointed to 
the bedroom where they found Hsueh Pan lying in bed with bruised 
limbs and swollen face, doctoring himself as best he could. Luckily, 
he had come out of the scrap without any severe internal injuries or 
broken bones. 

Aunt Hsueh was beside herself and abused her son and his torturer 
in turn. Actually, she wanted to complain to Madame Cheng and have 
young Liu arrested immediately, but Precious Clasp was able to dis-_ 
suade her from this and pacify her. It was nothing but a little scuffle 
between drunken boon companions, she said. Such things occur often 
and one need not make much fuss about them. 

"Besides, everyone knows our family heir as one who defies heaven 
and has contempt for the law," she continued. "If you were to let it 
come to a lawsuit, people would take sides against you and him. If 
you insist on getting satisfaction, have patience for a few days until 
Hsueh Pan is well again. Prince Chen will certainly show his gratitude 

301 



for the banquet today by a counter-invitation. All the guests of today 
will be present, and also brother Hsueh Pan and that fellow Liu. Liu 
can then apologize before all those present. That is much better than 
letting it come to a public scandal." 

"You are right, my child," agreed Aunt Hsueh. "The first outburst 
of anger clouded my understanding." 

"In reality he deserves what he got," continued Precious Clasp, 
with a laugh. "Up to now he has had no respect either for you or for 
other people and has been behaving very badly day after day. He will 
only be taught wisdom by adversity. Two or three such bitter ex- 
periences and he will be cured!" 

That night Hsueh Pan could not sleep a wink. He raged against his 
enemy, swore vengeance, and next day sent his servants with orders to 
tear down Liu's house and flay him or, better still, strike him dead im- 
mediately. But the servants returned without having performed their 
task. Young Liu had acted in drunkenness yesterday. On becoming 
sober he had regretted his action and had fled from the town through 
fear of punishment, so his neighbors had told them. Kow Hsueh Pan re- 
ceived this information you will hear in the next chapter. 



CHAPTER 29 

The libertine, shamed and disgraced, seeks distraction in a business 
expedition. A superior girl practices the art of poetry, studying the best 

riasters. 

1 HE NEWS OF THE FLIGHT OF HIS OPPONENT HAD THE EFFECT OF 

making Hsueh Pan's anger abate gradually. His physical state, too, had 
.improved in the course of a few days, but shame over the outrage 
he had suffered continued to prevent him from appearing before his 
relatives and friends. 

The tenth month had arrived. This is the time when travelling traders 
complete their annual accounts and set out for home, to spend the New 
Year Festival with their families. During those days many farewell din- 
ners were given in the Yungkuo and Ningkuo palaces for the business 
managers who maintained various kinds of shops in the town on behalf 
of the two princely houses, and who were now departing for their 
homes. Among these business managers was one Chang Te Hui, who 
conducted a pawnbroker's shop for Hsueh Pan, and moreover himself 
possessed a private fortune of three thousand ounces of gold, 

"The market has become very difficult today for mourning finery 
and perfumed fans," he remarked casually at the farewell dinner which 

302 



Hsueh Pan gave for him. "The prices of these articles will rise appre- 
ciably next year. I intend to put in good supplies in time, and then, in 
the first months of next year, to sell my goods at a profit when touring 
the provinces. Even after deducting the inland customs taxes, I shall 
probably make a good profit. Therefore, I shall stay away longer than 
usual this time and shall hardly be back before the Dragon Boat Festi- 
val on the fifth of the fifth month. Until then you must entrust the man- 
agement of the pawnshop to my servants." 

When Hsueh Pan heard him telling this, he thought to himself: 
Wouldn't it be wisest to join with him and invest some capital in his un- 
dertaking? I have suffered a shameful exposure here and it wpuid do 
me no harm to disappear from the place for six months or a year and so 
escape unpleasant gossip. After all, I cannot very well go on indefinitely 
keeping out of people's way on the plea of being ill. Besides, this would 
afford me a good opportunity of finding a useful occupation. I am cer- 
tainly old enough to really begin to do something. I have no taste for 
either books or soldiering, so a little trading should suit me better. To 
learn to use scales and abacus, and to get to know the country and 
the people, and new districts and customs, is also a valuable experi- 
ence. Even if this journey does not bring me financial profit, it offers the 
advantage of a welcome change of occupation and scene. 

Having debated with himself in this way, he calmly informed his 
business friend Chang of his decision after they had stood up from 
table. Would Mr. Chang please postpone his departure for two days, so 
that he could join him? The same evening he put the matter to his 
mother. Aunt Hsueh found his intention praiseworthy in itself, but, on 
the other hand, she feared that he would get into mischief on the way, 
with unpleasant consequences for himself, and uselessly squander the 
capital which he would take with him. So she did not wish to let him go. 
He was the mainstay of her old age, and after all he did not need to 
make money by such small trading efforts, she objected. But Hsueh Pan 
was fully determined not to be turned aside from his decision. 

"You are always finding fault with my lack of knowledge and experi- 
ence," he said. "One time you say I don't know this, and another time 
that I don't understand that. And now, when I want to break with my 
previous aimless life, enter a useful occupation, and become a compe- 
tent person, you are against that too. How, then, am I to please you? 
After all, I'm not a girl who can be kept shut off from the outside world 
for her whole life. Besides, this Chang is a seasoned, experienced, and 
worldly-wise businessman whose company and conversation cart do me 
nothing but good. He will certainly see that I do not get into any mis- 
chief, and his advice will be most helpful to me. My decision stands 

303 



firm. I refuse to be deterred. Just you wait and see! I shall come back 
next year with my fortune made. You don't know me yet!" 

Aunt Hsueh discussed the question with her daughter Precious Clasp. 
"Yes, his intentions sound quite laudable. If only he does not fall into 
his bad old ways again while he's away!" said Precious Clasp. "But you 
can't very well keep him tied to your apron strings. After all, he's a 
grown man, so why should he stick at home? Let him go out confi- 
dently and see a bit of the world. If he wants to mend his ways and be- 
come a useful member of society, do at least let him have a try ! More- 
over, in Mr. Chang he has a reliable adviser by his side. Besides, it can 
do him no harm to have to stand on his own feet for a change and do 
without the backing of his family, and be away from the friends who 
lead him astray. He will have to keep his eyes open and become self- 
reliant. Take courage and let him have the eighteen hundred ounces of 
silver which you have set aside for him in any case, and let him be off!" 

"You are right. Let us hope he will take up a useful occupation!" 
agreed Aunt Hsueh, after lengthy consideration. 

The next day she invited the business manager Chang to the house 
and had a meal served to Hsueh Pan and himself alone in the library. 
During the meal she herself, speaking through an outside window, in- 
formed the guest of her approval of the journey, adding a hundred 
practical hints and a thousand salutary warnings, which the guest 
promised, with two mouths at the same time, to take to heart. Hsueh 
Pan was supremely happy. The fourteenth day of the tenth month was 
picked out in the calendar as a lucky day for the departure. The inter- 
vening two days were filled with busy preparations for the journey, 
mother, sister, secondary wife, and two elderly serving women all help- 
ing zealously. Three big carts were filled with the luggage alone. As 
saddle animals Hsueh Pan was given a big mule, ice-gray in color, 
.which belonged to his own family of Hsueh, and also a strong hack 
from the princely stables. For staff he was given five people, three ex- 
perienced older servants and" two young fellows. On the thirteenth 
there was a great leave-taking of the relatives. Then, early on the morn- 
ing of the fourteenth, he set out on his journey. Mother, sister, and Lo- 
tus accompanied him as far as the inner gateway, and remained peep- 
ing out after the departing figure for a while, then turned back with 
sighs, half saddened and half relieved, to their apartments. 

After Hsueh Pan was gone Aunt Hsueh had all the ornaments and 
furnishings taken from his gentleman's apartments into her own dwell- 
ing, and locked up his suite. Moreover, she arranged for Lotus to come 
to live in her suite and sleep with her at night. But Precious Clasp 
begged to be allowed to have Lotus live with her in the Park of De- 
lightful Vision. There was plenty of room, and she could very well do 

304 



with a companion and partner for the long winter evenings, so she said. 
Aunt Hsueh consented, and so Lotus packed her blankets and cushions 
and clothes and toilet articles and moved over to the Jungle Courtyard. 
Lotus was very pleased with the change; indeed, she had already in- 
tended to ask Aunt Hsueh's permission to go over now and then for a 
day to keep Precious Clasp company in the Park of Delightful Vision; 
and now she was actually to be allowed to live there permanently. 

"I should so love you to teach me the art of poetry, if you have time 
and inclination," she said, radiant with joy, to Precious Clasp the very 
day she came over to her. 

"My word, you are greedy! You are like the old Emperor Kuang 
Wu-ti, of the Han dynasty, who had hardly conquered the land of Lung 
when he began coveting the land of Chu also. Naturally, I shall be de- 
lighted to teach you the art of poetry, but not straight away on the first 
day. Today you must first of all pay your farewell visits to the old Tai 
tai and to the other ladies over there, one after the other, and then pay 
your first visits to all the young ladies here. If people ask you the why 
and wherefore of your presence, here, you can say that I wanted you as 
companion." 

Lotus was just about to set out on her round of 'visiting when the 
waiting maid Little Ping appeared on the scene. 

"Here's my new companion since today," said Precious Clasp, point- 
ing to Lotus. "I was just on the point of duly announcing her change 
over here to your mistress Phoenix." 

"Why the formality? I have nothing against it." 

"Oh, yes, but we must have order. It's on account of the gate watch- 
men at the entrance to' the park, so that they may know that they have 
to let one more person in before they close the gates in the evening. But 
now you yourself can notify your mistress, and I shall not have to send 
over specially." 

"Very well, I shall see to that. Has she already bidden farewell to her 
old neighbors and presented herself to her new ones?" 

"She is just going to do so now." 

"Tell her she'd better not visit us. Mr. Chia Lien is lying sick at 
home." 

When Lotus had gone Little Ping took Precious Clasp aside and 
asked her in a whisper: "Have you heard about our latest scandal yet?" 

"No. I was so busy in the last few days helping my brother to get 
ready for his journey that I could not bother about anything else. I 
haven't seen my cousins in the last few days either." 

"Then you have not heard anything much about the severe flogging 
which Mr. Chia Lien got recently from his father, Prince Shieh?" 

305 



"No, I only heard a whisper of it, and that is one reason why I was 
going to visit Phoenix. What was the reason for it?" 

"Naturally, that Mr. Yu Tsun is once more at the bottom of it that 
dubious 'Gentleman from Nowhere,' who once got stuck halfway to the 
capital, half dead from hunger, and unfortunately did not pass out. In 
the ten years that he has been coming in and out of here, he has 
brought nothing but misfortune to our house. Well, I'll tell you the 
story. One day in the spring Prince Shieh chanced to see some beautiful 
old fans. From that time onwards he lost all liking for his own fans, and 
sent out his servants to find him old fans like those he had seen. 

"Well, they do in fact hunt up a wretched old eccentric of a fan col- 
lector who has in his possession no less than twenty valuable old speci- 
mens. The old gentleman in question, who was commonly known as 'the 
stony eccentric,' must surely have had a quarrel with the Prince in some 
former existence. Be that as it may, though he's so poor that he has 
hardly a bite to eat, he will not part with his fans at any price. The 
Prince makes every conceivable effort to get at least a sight of the 
things. After two or three polite requests the eccentric at last expresses 
his willingness to receive the Prince and show him his treasures. They 
were all rare, unique examples, their handles and ribs made of marbled 
tear-bamboo or carved from coco-palm wood, elk's horn, and similar 
rare materials, and covered, moreover, with paintings and inscriptions 
made by the hands of historically famous persons. 

"The Prince was firmly resolved to buy them, but when he asked the 
price, the eccentric owner shook his head and declared that even if he 
were offered a thousand batzes apiece, he would not give them up. The 
Prince went away foiled in his purpose, but he sent his son there every 
day to continue negotiating. He increased his offer gradually to five 
hundred batzes, but still the eccentric would not part with his fans. He 
would rather give up his life, he declared. The Prince was furious with 
his son and abused him for being an incompetent ass because he could 
not carry off the deal. Now, so far it is not too bad, and the matter 
would have blown over if that wretched Mr. Yu Tsun had not quite 
unnecessarily poked his nose into it. He suddenly brings a false charge 
against the queer old fellow, alleging that he has defrauded the State of 
this and that amount in rates and taxes, drags him to his yamen, puts 
him on trial, condemns him, and confiscates his goods and chattels, in- 
cluding the beautiful fans, by way of recovering the alleged debt due 
for taxes. Then he passes the fans on to the Prince at a low taxation 
value. The unfortunate owner died, so they say, of agitation and grief. 

"The Prince then said contemptuously to his son: 'You have been 
telling me all along that this deal was impossible. How is it, then, that 
other people have been able to carry it through?' Whereupon Mr. Chia 

306 



Lien replied scornfully: 'That's a fine achievement indeed to make a 
good, innocent man wretchedly unhappy for the paltry matter of those 
fans!' 

"His thoughtless 1 remark annoyed the Prince extremely. He was al- 
ready on rather bad terms with his son on various grounds. To make a 
long story short, he had him severely flogged, not only on the back parts 
as he lay down, but all over his whole body, even his face, while he 
stood. He has bleeding wounds in two places from it. That is why the 
Mistress has sent me over here now. She wants some of that good oint- 
ment which you have." 

Precious Clasp got the waiting maid Oriole to fetch the desired oint- 
ment; and she thought it better not to visit Phoenix under these cir- 
cumstances. 

After supper, while Precious Clasp went to the Ancestress, Lotus 
made a dash over to the Bamboo Hermitage to greet Black Jade. After 
a few preliminary words Lotus expressed her ardent desire to learn to 
write poetry, and she earnestly begged Black Jade to instruct her. 

"I am not very accomplished myself, but I shall be able to teach you 
something at least," agreed Black Jade, in smiling acquiescence, "but 
first do me reverence and acknowledge me as your mistress!" 

Lotus bowed politely before her and promised to be a good and 
docile pupil. Black Jade began her instruction straight away with a lec- 
ture on verse measure and structure, and on the importance of seeing 
that the correct words stand in correct sequence and relation to each 
other in the different lines and that they are contrasted in sense and 
sound; that, for example, an abstract word should be set against a con- 
crete word, and a flat tone against a sharp one. Only poets who were 
competent to make a quite new, original poetic form were free of these 
rules. 

"Is originality of expression the thing that matters, then?" 

"Not so much of expression as of thought. One's thought must be 
genuine and original. Form and. expression are only decorative acces- 
sories, so to speak. The language must not kill the spirit that is the 
general principle." 

"I love the poems of Lu Fang Kung," said Lotus naively, and she 
quoted two lines of this obscure poet. 

"How on earth can anyone read and esteem such insipid stuff!" said 
Black Jade disdainfully. "But of course you have no judgment as yet; 
you lack the necessary book learning. If you really wish to study seri- 
ously, listen to my advice: Begin with Wang Wei. 1 I have got his 'Col- 
lected Works' here. Pick but a hundred of his poems in the five-word 

1 Wang Wei, 699-759. 

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pattern and impress them word for word on your memory. Then read a 
hundred and twenty of the seven-word poems of old Tu Fu. 2 Go on then 
and read thoroughly two hundred seven-word poems of the great Li Tai 
Po. 3 When you have made yourself familiar with these three masters 
you will have acquired a solid foundation. Then you may go on later to 
Tao Chier* 4 and the other poets. If you proceed on these lines, within a 
year you will be able to take part yourself in poetry writing like a tried 
expert." 

She got the waiting maid Cuckoo to fetch the volume of Wang Wei 
for the poetic aspirant. 

"Take it with you and study particularly the passages which I have 
marked in red. And if any line does not seem quite clear to you, do not 
hesitate to ask me; I will gladly explain it to you." 

Lotus went off very happy to the Jungle Courtyard with her volume 
of Wang Wei. All that evening and late into the night she sat under the 
lamp studying it, poem by poem, verse by verse. She seemed oblivious 
to all that was going on around her. Precious Clasp had to call her 
again and again before she went to bed at last. And she continued like 
that day after day with tireless zeal. 

One morning, as; Black Jade was at her toilet, Lotus came again to 
the Bamboo Hermitage, the volume of Wang Wei under her arm, and, 
after proudly reciting a verse from it, asked if she might have a volume 
of Tu Fu next. 

"How many poems do you know by heart already?" asked Black 
Jade, smiling. 

"All the poems which you had marked in red." 

"And have you tried writing any yourself yet?" 

"A little." 

"Let's hear it!" 

Thereupon Lotus treated her teacher to a first sample of what she 
could do, and then entered into an ardent literary discussion, in which 
Pao Yu and Taste of Spring, who happened to come in, also joined. 
Taste of Spring at once declared that Lotus must become a member of 
the Begonia Club. 

"Oh, but I can only blunder along as yet; good will is all that I 
have," protested Lotus modestly. 

"Don't let that Worry you! All of us can only stumble along," said 
Black Jade and Taste of Spring simultaneously, laughing. "Who says 
that we can really compose poetry? People would positively laugh their 

2 Tu Fu, 712-770. 

3 Li Tai Po, 701-762. 

4 Tao Chien, 365-427. 

308 



teeth out of their mouths if our amateur efforts were to penetrate be- 
yond the precincts of the park and become public." 

"Oh, don't pretend to be too modest!" protested Pao Yu. "When our 
club came under discussion at a party recently, some of my friends 
asked to see some samples of our art; I wrote out. a selection of our 
poems for them and submitted them to their judgment. They were re- 
ceived most enthusiastically, and a great many copies have been made 
and distributed." 

"Is that true?" interjected Black Jade and Taste of Spring simulta- 
neously. 

"Of course it is. I don't gabble lies like your parrot there on the 
perch." 

"Well, you shouldn't have done that!" scolded the two young girls. 
"It was most indiscreet of you. Whether the images painted by our ink 
brushes can be considered real poems or not, they were definitely not 
meant for publication." 

"What harm is it, anyway? What would we know today of the many 
beautiful poems written by young girls in the past, if they had not been 
made public by indiscretions?" 

The discussion was interrupted by the appearance of Grief of Spring, 
who wanted Pao Yu to give his verdict on the big painting of the park 
on which she had been working for many weeks past at the order of the 
Ancestress. Lotus also went off with a volume of Tu Fu, after Black 
Jade had given her, at her request, another theme to work on. She was 
to compose a poem consisting of eight seven-word lines on the beautiful 
harvest moon of last night, with the basic rhyme an recurring six times. 

She sat up far into the night, partly over her Tu Fu and partly over 
her own composition, and so engrossed did she become that she com- 
pletely forgot to eat, drink, or sleep. 

"You will make yourself ill; it is really absurd of you," scolded 
Precious Clasp. "You are a bit weak in the head by nature already, and 
now you will go quite crazy! But it's all Black Jade's fault, and I'll take 
her to task for it!" 

"I'll come right away, dear young lady; but please don't disturb me 
now!" replied Lotus absently; and she went on writing until she had 
finished her work. The following day she showed it to Black Jade for 
her verdict. 

"The thought is not bad, but the language is inadequate. That is be- 
cause you lack education and are not well read. It all sounds too forced. 
But do not be discouraged. Try again!" This was her teacher's verdict. 

Lotus walked thoughtfully into the park. She did not trust herself to 
return to the Jungle Courtyard. Precious Clasp would be sure to laugh 
at her over her bad marks. So she lingered by the fishpond, wandered 

309 



under the trees, rested on blocks of rock, staring absently into space, or, 
bending low, traced ideographs in the sand. Her peculiar behavior was 
soon noised abroad among the other inmates of the park. In no time 
the Widow Chu, Precious Clasp, Taste of Spring, and Pao Yu hurried 
along and, hiding behind a shelf of rock, watched her every movement 
with anxious attention, as she knit her brows, frowned or laughed to 
herself. It all seemed very strange to them! 

"She's a bit crazy," whispered Precious Clasp to. the others. "She sat 
up last night until the fifth night watch, muttering to herself and writ- 
ing,, writing and muttering. It was already dawn when at last she lay 
down to sleep. As soon as there was light I heard her moving about 
again, making a hurried toilet and then running off to Black Jade with- 
out taking any breakfast. And now there she is at it again! I ask you, is 
that normal?" 

"She is an unusual person and no doubt divinely inspired," said Pao 
Yu, reverently. "Up till now we have laughed at her and considered her 
commonplace. Now her true nature is breaking out." 

"You would do better emulating her instead of merely admiring her; 
think how it would help your studies," ~iaid Precious Clasp teasingly. 
He bore her hint in silence. At this moment Lotus threw back her head 
with a jerk, jumped up, and ran off in the direction of the Bamboo 
Hermitage. 

"Come! Let us run after her and see what she's up to next!" sug- 
gested Taste of Spring. And they all followed her to the Bamboo Her- 
mitage. They arrived there just in time to see Black Jade looking 
through the new version of the poem about the moon and criticizing it. 
She found it still insufficiently polished and demanded a third version. 
Lotus was crushed. She had imagined that this time she had really got 
it right. The others encouraged her, and so she set to work for the third 
time, seated on the stone terrace in front of the bamboo hedge, her eyes 
and ears closed to all that was going on around her. 

"Do take a rest!" Taste of Spring called out to her from the window. 

"Rest doesn't.fit in with the rhyme!" replied Lotus absently. 

"She is really possessed by the demon of poetry; Black Jade has to 
answer for that!" remarked Precious Clasp amid general laughter. 

"Why should I not teach her, since she asked me to do so?" asked 
Black Jade in self-defense. 

"Let's take her over to Grief of Spring and show her the new paint- 
ing; that will distract her," suggested the practical Widow Chu. They 
followed her advice, took Lotus, and laughingly bore her off, past the 
Lotus-Root Pavilion, to the Little Castle of Warm Perfumes. Grief of 
Spring was just resting from her painting and had dropped off to sleep 
on a divan. The picture, which stood on an easel, was covered with a 

310 



cloth. They awoke the sleeper, drew the cloth off the easel, and looked 
at the picture. One-third of it was finished, and showed only three of the 
ten pavilions in the park. The girls pointed out to Lotus the various 
beautiful young girls who had been painted into the landscape. 

"Every girl who can compose poetry is put into the picture," they 
explained to her in jest, "hurry up and study, so that you also will fig- 
ure in it ! " 

The slight distraction with the picture did not divert Lotus for long. 
She spent all the rest of the day and almost the whole night at her com- 
position. Even in her sleep she kept on searching for suitable words and 
rhymes. Once Precious Clasp heard her exclaim: "Ah! Now I've got it! 
She won't be able to find any fault with it this time!" 

She will never learn to compose poetry, but she will go off her head 
trying to do so, thought Precious Clasp to herself, with a sigh. Curi- 
ously enough, however, the right formation of the eight lines, which 
had eluded Lotus in her waking hours, actually came to her in her 
dreams. When she took over the fresh copy to the Bamboo Hermitage 
the next morning, she found Pao Yu and all the young ladies of the 
park already gathered there expectantly, for Precious Clasp had spread 
the news of the zealous apprentice's audible dream ravings. 

"Here! Examine it, and if you don't find it good, I'm through with 
poetry -writing forever!" Saying this, Lotus walked in and handed Black 
Jade her manuscript. They all bent their heads inquisitively over the 
sheet of paper. 

"Not only faultless but new and original in form and content," was 
the general verdict, and it was unanimously decided to accept Lotus as 
a new member of the Begonia Club as a result of this proof of her 
talent. 



CHAPTER 30 

A quack doctor treats Bright Cloud with "tiger and wolf medicines." 

Despite being ill, Bright Cloud heroically sacrifices herself for Pao Yu 

and mends his peacock-plume cloak. 

OOON AFTER LOTUS HAD BEEN RECEIVED INTO IT, THE BEGONIA CLUB 
acquired a big influx of new members. One fine day in the tenth 
month a whole lot of new relations came to the Yungkuo palace 
two Misses Li, cousins of the Widow Chu, together with their mother; 
a younger cousin of Precious Clasp named Precious Harp, together with 
an elder brother, and finally an impoverished sister-in-law of Princess 
Shieh with her daughter Wreath of Clouds in all, seven persons. The 

311 



three parties had met by chance on the way there and, having ascer- 
tained their mutual relationships, had continued the journey together. 
The Ancestress, who could never have enough relatives around her, 
welcomed the new arrivals most warmly and kept the whole lot of them 
as permanent guests of the house. 

She was particularly enchanted with Precious Harp, who if possible 
even surpassed her cousin Precious Clasp in charm. She got Madame 
Cheng to adopt her, but took her to live in her own apartment. While 
her father was still living in the capital the young girl had been be- 
trothed to a young man named Mei, son of the member of the Han Lin 
Academy, and now had come, to town escorted by her elder brother for 
the celebration of the marriage, which was to take -place soon. Her 
brother was lodged with Aunt Hsueh' and lived in the rooms formerly 
occupied by Hsueh Pan. The other three young girls found accommo- 
dation in the Park of Delightful Vision Wreath of Clouds with her 
cousin Greeting of Spring, the daughter of Prince Shieh, and the two 
Li girls with their cousin the Widow Chu in the Rice Farm. 

To the great joy of the Begonia Club, all the four new cousins were 
well versed in literature and poetry, and were heartily welcomed as new 
members of the club. The membership of the club thus rose to fourteen 
the Widow Chu as chairman, the three Spring girls, the two cousins 
Precious Clasp and Precious Harp, and the two sisters Li Wen and Li Ki, 
Black Jade and Pao Yu, Little Cloud, Lotus and Wreath of Clouds, and 
Phoenix as honorary chairman. True, the latter did not understand the 
art of verse-making, but she had been prevailed upon to accept the 
honorary chairmanship so that her powerful financial help might make 
the various club fixtures possible. In this she had come up to expecta- 
tions, and immediately on joining the club she had replenished its 
scanty funds with a handsome subscription of fifty taels. 

The Widow Chu was the oldest member in years; after her came 
Phoenix. The age of the other members ranged from fifteen to seven- 
teen. As most of them had not known each other long and had not got 
the dates of each other's birthdays very accurately in their heads, there 
was much amusing confusion over forms of address, and it often hap- 
pened that a younger member addressed an elder one as "younger 
sister," and vice versa. And so in these winter months, the Begonia 
Club became extremely active, and literary rivalry reached a new peak 
in the Park of Delightful Vision. 

One day Pearl had asked for an extended leave at the wish of her 
dying mother, who wanted to have her near her in her last hours. Dur- 
ing her absence the waiting maids Bright Cloud and Musk had to take 
her place in personal attendance on Pao Yu. "See that your master 

312 



goes to bed early and rises early and does not get into any mischief," 
Phoenix had impressed upon them. 

The first night after Pearl had left Pao Yu called her name twice in 
his dreams. 

"What is it?" asked Musk, yawning, from near by. 

"I want tea." 

While Bright Cloud remained lazily in bed, Musk got up and hurried 
into the kitchen. As she had only got on a red quilted petticoat, he made 
her put on his warm sable fur. She brought him a bowl of tea and 
poured out half a bowl for herself. 

"Bring me a drop too," begged Bright Cloud. 

"My word, you put on as much airs as if you were a daughter of the 
house." 

"I will dance attendance on you tomorrow in return. You need not 
stir the whole day." 

Musk did as she asked and brought her a bowl of tea. "And now I 
want to slip out for a moment," she said. "Go on chatting. I will be back 
at once." 

"Beware of the ghosts outside!" Bright Cloud called after Musk. 

"There's clear moonlight; you need not be afraid. We'll be talking 
until you come back," said Pao Yu. A significant clearing of the throat 
gave Musk to understand that he wished to be left alone with Bright 
Cloud. Already Mus.k had reached the back door and slipped out under 
the felt curtain into the moonlit courtyard- 
Bright Cloud suddenly felt tempted to slip out after her and give her 
a bit of a fright. As she was strong and healthy by nature she did not 
trouble to dress first, but climbed down from her alcove just as she was, 
with only a short petticoat on, and slipped out the door. 

"Don't catch cold!" cried Pao Yu warningly after her, but she was 
already out the door. She was hardly outside, however, when she felt a 
cold wind cutting through her flesh and bones. She shivered, but re- 
mained outside all the same. She was just about to creep up on Musk 
from the back and frighten her by calling out at her, when she herself 
was startled by Pao Yu's voice, calling her back from within. She hur- 
ried to his bedside. 

"You frightened me to death!" she said to him, laughing. 

"I did not want to frighten you, I only wanted to save you from 
catching cold. Besides, if you go fooling about outside at night you 
may disturb other people's sleep and cause gossip. I don't want it to be 
said that the devil broke loose here as soon as Pearl's back was turned. 
Come over here and straighten my blanket!" 

Bright Cloud went up to his bed to straighten his blanket and in do- 
ing so let her hand slip a little under it. 

314 



"Ugh! How cold your hand is!" he cried with suppressed laughter, 
and rubbed her cold, red cheek. 

"Come in under the blankets and get warm!" he whispered to her, 
but unfortunately at that moment the door creaked and Musk came 
back. She was out of breath and reported excitedly that she had just 
got a fright outside. She thought she had seen someone cowering in the 
dark shadow of a rock, and she was going to call for help, but it was 
only a pheasant, and it flew away at her approach. 

"Wasn't it lucky that I did not scream? That would have caused a 
nice uproar in the house. Where was Bright Cloud hiding herself? I was 
sure she would slip out after me." 

"I scared her back; otherwise she would have given you a fine 
fright." 

"It wasn't even necessary; she took care of that herself," remarked 
Bright Cloud, climbing up into her alcove again. 

"Surely you did not go out like that, like an unsaddled race horse?" 
asked Musk. 

"Of course she went out like that," said Pao Yu. 

"How silly of her! She has probably caught a nice cold!" As she 
said this a double sneeze resounded from Bright Cloud's alcove. 

"Now the trouble begins," sighed Pao Yu. 

"She has not been well all day; and she had no appetite, either, but 
instead of minding herself, she goes playing hide-and-seek and running 
about ridiculously undressed. It will serve her quite right if she is ill in 
the morning!" scolded Musk, as she poked the stove, shovelled out the 
hot ashes, and put on two logs of aromatic Cambodian wood. After she 
had trimmed the wick of the lamp behind the dividing screen, she 
snuggled down once more on her couch near Pao Yu's canopied bed. 
Close by, the big clock struck twice, tang, tang. From the serving 
women's room came a strong twice-repeated sound of throat-clearing, 
and a voice called over in a tone of annoyance: 

"Will the young ladies please keep quiet and go to sleep at last? 
There will be time for chattering again tomorrow!" 

A little more suppressed giggling and whispering, then silence re- 
turned at last to the Begonia Courtyard. 

The next morning Bright Cloud awoke with a heavy cold. Her nose 
was obstructed, her voice was hoarse, her limbs were heavy and stiff. 
According to the rules of the household every illness, however trifling, 
had to be reported at once to the Tai tai, and the old Tai tai, who was 
very apprehensive about infection, was in the habit of getting sick serv- 
ants out of the palace immediately and sending them back to their 
families. Pao Yu, already deprived of Pearl, was unwilling to have the 
pretty maid Bright Cloud also removed from his vicinity. He therefore 

315 



decided to keep her at home and to get a doctor for her, unknown to the 
Ancestress. 

"But Madame Phoenix at least should be told. Otherwise she may 
find out that the doctor has been here, and take it amiss that she has 
not been told about it," objected Bright Cloud. 

Pao Yu agreed, and sent a serving woman to Phoenix. Bright Cloud . 
had caught a slight cold, it was nothing at all serious, and he begged 
so the message ran to be allowed to look after her at home as he could 
not well do without her; he would get a doctor in by the side gateway, 
and would she, Phoenix, please not make any fuss about the matter. 
Phoenix sent back word that she had no objection, but if there was not 
an immediate improvement the patient must definitely leave the house 
and go back to her family, for the danger of infection was particularly 
great in these winter days and the health of the young ladies was very 
precious. 

"She really carries on as if I had the plague!" exclaimed the of- 
fended patient, peevishly. "Very well, then, I'd prefer to go away at 
once in order to save the grand ladies here from any more headaches." 

She sat up and was about to start packing her things, but Pao Yu 
pressed her gently back on her bed. 

"Do not be so quick to take offense!" he said placatingly. "Phoenix 
feels responsible to the old Tai tai, and wants to. feel that she has done 
her duty in case anything should happen, but she did not mean it so 
strictly as all that." 

At that moment the doctor whom he had sent for appeared on the 
scene, escorted by three elderly attendants. Pao Yu hid hurriedly be- 
hind a bookcase. The serving women let down the red embroidered cur- 
tain in frorit of Bright Cloud's alcove, then the patient had to stretch her 
hand out through the curtain. The doctor looked for a while at the 
hand and the two fingers, the nails of which were two or three inches 
long and dyed red with China balsam. Then he felt the pulse after a 
serving woman had wrapped a clean handkerchief around the patient's 
wrist. 

"Internal congestion, external irritation; a slight cold due to the bad 
weather." In these words he explained his diagnosis to the serving 
women when they got outside the door. "Fortunately, the young lady 
is observing moderation in eating and drinking, therefore the cold has 
not done her much harm apart from a slight deterioration in her breath- 
ing and in the circulation of the blood. A little dose of medicine, and 
she will be all right again." 

The chamberwoman escorted him out of the park again. Widow Chu 
had taken care that he should not catch sight of any of the youthful fe- 
male inmates of the park on his way out. Having reached the park gate, 

316 



he stepped aside into the gatekeeper's lodge to write his prescription. 
When he was about to go, a serving woman asked him to wait a mo- 
ment. The young master wished to see his prescription and might want 
to speak to him. 

"Oh, was the patient a young gentleman? The apartment, with its 
lowered bed curtain, gave me the clear impression of being a young 
girl's room. I thought I had the honor of treating a young lady of the 
house," remarked the doctor, astonished. 

"This is your first time here, so naturally you could not know the 
constitution of the household," a serving woman explained to him, with 
a smile. "You have just been in the residence of our young master, and 
your patient was not a young lady, a daughter of the house, but one of 
the young gentleman's waiting maids. You would hardly have received 
admission so easily to the bedroom of a young lady." And she took the 
prescription and ran off with it to the Begonia Courtyard, to show it to 
Pao Yu. Pao Yu read it. There was something in it about purple thyme, 
ironwood, sage, and lemon, and "broth of horse's tail," and the like. 

"Damn it all!" he exclaimed. "What does the fellow think he's do- 
ing? He has prescribed stuff here which might be all right for one of us, 
but not for a frail young girl! Send him about his business at once and 
get a better doctor ! " 

"We shall send for Doctor Wang at once," promised the serving 
woman who had been responsible for the first doctor's having been 
called. "Who would have thought that that one would be such a quack? 
But we certainly cannot let him go without paying him something. For 
it was we who sent for him, and not the majordomo." 

"How much do you think we should give him?" asked Pao Yu. 

"A tael would be about right." 

"And how much does the other one, Doctor Wang, get?" 

"Doctor Wang, like Doctor Chang, is one of our regular house doc- 
tors here. He need not get a special fee for this particular visit. He 
draws his regular salary at the four annual festivals." 

"Very well, go and take the quack his tael," Pao Yu ordered Musk. 

"Yes, I would if I knew where Pearl has put our housekeeping 
money," said Musk. 

'*As far as I know, she keeps it in her little cabinet with the shell and 
mother-of-pearl incrustation. Come, let us look!" 

Together they went into Pearl's room, which was crammed with fur- 
niture and belongings, and opened the cabinet in question. They found 
the top section full of painted fans, purses, bags, perfumed pomades, 
handkerchiefs, and similar small articles. On the lower shelf lay some 
thousand-piece strings of money. Besides these compartments there was 
a drawer. In this they found an open cashbox made of plaited bamboo 

317 



containing several pieces of broken silver and a small money weight. 
Musk picked out one piece of silver at random and put it on the scale. 

"Is that much a tael?" she asked Pao Yu uncertainly. 

"You ask me in vain," said Pao Yu with an embarrassed smile, for 
he was no wiser than she was in the matter of weighing money. 

"I will ask the others." 

"Whatever for? Just take that piece. If it's a bit more or less, what 
does that matter? We are not peddlers here." 

Musk put away the scales and weighed the piece of silver thought- 
fully in her hand. 

"Well, let's only hope it's not less than a tael," she said hesitantly, 
"else that poor devil of a quack might get a false impression of us; not 
that we do not know how to weigh the stuff that would hardly occur 
to him. But he would probably think that -,ve gave him so little delib- 
erately because we are hard up and have to count our pence." 

"That's half a five-ounce bar," put in a serving woman, who had been 
listening, from the door. "The piece you're holding in your hand weighs 
a good two ounces. You may pick a smaller piece with an easy con- 
science." 

"Ah, why should we search any more? Here, keep the extra bit for 
yourself!" said Musk bumptiously. 

"And let Ming Yen go fetch Doctor Wang at once!" added Pao Yu. 

After a little time Doctor Wang arrived and examined the patient 
anew. His diagnosis was not much different from that of his colleague, 
but his prescriptions were considerably different. This time the harsh 
purgatives and sudorifics were omitted, and in their place there was 
mention of archangel root, peony root, and similar mild drugs. More- 
over, the dosage of the individual drugs was not so great as in the first 
prescription. 

"This pleases me better; it looks more like the right medicine for 
young girls," said Pao Yu complacently to his two waiting maids. 
"Those purgatives and sudorifics must definitely not be used too freely. 
When I was a child and used to get head colds and constipation, the 
doctors never treated me with 'horsetail broth' and chalk and lemon 
and 'tiger and wolf medicines of that kind. What was too rough for me 
is definitely not the right thing for the tender constitution of young 
girls." 

An old serving woman brought in the various medicines. Pao Yu 
instructed her to fetch the silver vessel in which medicines were usually 
prepared and to concoct the brew at once in Bright Cloud's room over 
the charcoal fire. 

"Do please have them prepared on the proper stove in the kitchen, 

318 



otherwise this whole room will stink of medicine fumes, and that would 
be unbearable!" protested Bright Cloud. 

"Oh, but medicine fumes are much more precious than all flower 
perfumes put together," Pao Yu remarked persuasively. "Could there 
be anything better or more noble than those herbs which holy hermits 
have cultivated, and picked, and prepared in their solitude? Here, 
where otherwise everything is beautiful, there is one thing which I have 
always missed the fragrance of healing herbs and wonder-working 
drugs. Only now will the right harmony be achieved, and my content- 
ment be complete." 

And so it was that, when he returned after a lengthy visit to the \io\v. 
of the Ancestress, he found his apartments filled with the penetrating 
odorous fumes which poured out of Bright Cloud's room. Bright Cloud 
bravely swallowed her hot broth and took a second dose of it in the 
evening, but without any real s'uccess. True, she sweated a bit in the 
night, but the next morning she complained as before of headache and 
fever, obstructed nose and coated tongue. Doctor Wang turned up to 
examine her for a second time and changed this and that item in his 
prescription, increasing one and reducing another. When the revised 
prescription also failed to produce results, Pao Yu gave the peremptory 
order: "Fetch the snuff !" 

Musk sprang to her feet and brought him a little gold-edged crystal 
snuffbox decorated with two golden stars. Pao Yu. raised the lid. The 
inside had a picture of a naked woman with golden hair and wings on 
her shoulders, painted on European enamel. The box contained genuine 
European snuff of the very best quality. Bright Cloud became com- 
pletely engrossed in examining the picture. 

"Here! Sniff it! It must not remain long uncovered or else the aroma 
fades!" Pao Yu urged her. 

Bright Cloud quickly lifted out a pinch, put it to her nose and sniffed, 
then took and sniffed several more pinches in the same way. Suddenly 
she perceived a sharp, biting, prickly sensation from deep within her 
nostrils right up to her temples, and immediately had to sneeze so 
forcibly five or six times in rapid succession that her eyes and nose 
were flooded. 

"Ugh! How it bites! Quick! Fetch me paper!" she cried laughing. A 
little maid jumped up and brought her a whole bundle of fine tissue 
paper. Bright Cloud pulled out sheet after sheet and wiped her nose 
with it. 

"Well, how's that?" asked Pao Yu anxiously. 

"Oh, that was fine!" she cried, delighted. "I really feel much better 
already. Only my temples are still aching." 

Pao Yu was quite proud of the rapid success of his own medical 

319 



treatment. He did still more, and procured for the patient a little of the 
European ointment which Phoenix was always in the habit of rubbing 
on for headaches. Then he left the sickroom and strolled out into the 
park to seek some relaxation with Grief of Spring, who was sitting be- 
fore her easel, painting. 

On the way he met Snail, Cousin Precious Harp's little chambermaid, 
who was on her way to Black Jade's home, the Bamboo Hermitage. Her 
mistress and Precious Clasp were there, she said. Thereupon he 
changed his mind and accompanied Snail to the Bamboo Hermitage. 

"Here's another visitor! All the seats are already engaged!" This was 
the laughing greeting which met him as he entered Black Jade's bed- 
room. 

And in fact he found no less than four cousins Black Jade, Precious 
Clasp, Precious Harp, and Wreath of Clouds gathered round the 
glowing brazier. Cuckoo, the waiting maid, was sitting not far from the 
window on the edge of the bed doing some needlework. 

"What an enchanting picture!" cried Pao Yu admiringly. "One 
could call it 'A Gathering of Girls in Winter.' And how cozy and warm 
you are in here!" 

He settled down comfortably in an easy chair covered with squirrel 
fur which Black Jade was in the habit of using. His glance fell on a jade 
vase in which five hyacinth flowers made a fine show. 

"Where did those magnificent hyacinths come from? They were not 
here yesterday, were they?" he asked. 

"They are a present from the wife of your majordomo, Lai Sheng," 
explained Black Jade. "She gave Precious Harp two vases of hyacinths 
like that one, and two of calycanthus. Precious Harp has handed on a 
vase of hyacinths to me and one of the vases of winter sweet to Little 
Cloud. Do you like the hyacinths? You may have them." 

"No, thank you. I have some in my place, but they are not as beauti- 
ful as yours. Anyway, you cannot well give yours away!" 

"Why not? I have an abundance of perfumes here already medici- 
nal odors. My drug vessel never leaves the Rre the whole day. It would 
really be a pity if the beautiful pure perfume of the flowers should be 
spoiled by these medicine fumes. All these strong perfumes are a bit too 
much of a good thing; they make me feel quite weak." 

The drug caldron has been simmering over in my quarters too 
since yesterday," he said, laughing, and told of Bright Cloud's cold. 
"And don't you think that hyacinths and calycanthus would be most 
delightful and fitting themes for our next club session?" he added. 

At this the conversation turned to poetical composition. 

"The next time the club holds its session in my place you will all get 
a surprise," said Precious Clasp, putting on a stern air. "Each member 

320 



will have to produce four five-word rhymed octets, and four verses each 
of twelve lines in flowery language and unrhymed verse, on eight dif- 
ferent themes. The first theme will be: 'Tai chi tu Thou great Des- 
tiny,' and no one will be let off!" 

"Don't believe her! She's only joking!" interjected Cousin Precious 
Harp, smiling. As the daughter of a big businessman she was alr/^dy 
widely travelled despite her youth, and was generally admired by the 
cousins for her knowledge of the world and her more emancipated views. 
"Why should we bother with tedious philosophical themes from the 
/ Ching, the Book of Changes? Besides, we would not p-oduce anything 
very brilliant from it; at the best it would be stilted and artificial. 
Which just reminds me of something. When I was eight years old my 
father took me along on a journey to the coastal cities of the Western 
Sea, where he used to purchase foreign goods. There I made the ac- 
quaintance of a beautiful fifteen-year-old European girl. She was just 
like those beautiful women whom one often sees in European paintings. 
Golden hair fell in loose locks over her shoulders. Her jewelry con- 
sisted of corals, brilliant agates, and green cat's-eyes. She wore a fine 
vest of gold mesh. In the belt which held in her long-sleeved dress of 
Western damask she wore a small jewelled dagger in a golden sheath. 
She was wonderfully beautiful to look at, even more beautiful than 
those womeii in the pictures. It was said that she knew our Chinese 
poetry and our Six Classical Books, and that she even understood Chi- 
nese literature. My father asked, through the Consul, to see some ex- 
amples of her Chinese poetry. He and all his friends found them aston- 
ishingly good." 

"Oh, show us a simple of them!" begged Pao Yu excitedly. 
"I am sorry that I cannot. I have put the poems away at home, in the 
southern capital." 

"What a pity!" he sighed, disappointed. "How lucky you are to see 
something of the world. That luck will never be mine." 

"Do not be taken in by her!" cried Black Jade. "She has brought so 
much luggage here; why should she leave just those poems at home? I 
simply do not believe in the existence of those poems!" 

"That's just like Black Jade. She won't be taken in! But this time she 
is definitely too skeptical," remarked Precious Clasp. 

"Let Precious Harp prove her assertion by visible evidence: until 
then I will not believe her," insisted Black Jade. 

"Have patience for a few days until she has unpacked and tidied all 
her things; then the poems will come to light," retorted Precious Clasp. 
"Do you not know one or another of them by heart? Do, please, recite 
one of them to us as best you can!" she said, turning to her cousin. 

321 



"Gladly. I can remember a rhymed five-word octet. Quite an achieve- 
ment for a European girl," replied Precious Harp. 

"Come, let us hear it! No! Wait until I call Little Cloud; she must 
hear it too," said Precious Clasp. 

"Run over to the Jungle Courtyard and ask the young lady to come 
over," she bade the waiting maid Snail. "Tell her that there's a beauti- 
ful European girl who can compose poetry in Chinese, whom we are 
admiring over here. And tell her to bring back the other poetry-mad 
girl with her." 

After a short time Snail came back with Little Cloud and Lotus. 

"Where is the European beauty?" cried Little Cloud while still a long 
way off. 

"She is not yet here bodily, but you can already hear her speaking," 
came the laughing answer. 

Precious Harp once more repeated for the benefit of Little Cloud and 
Lotus what she had just recounted about the beautiful girl from the 
distant West. Then she recited: 

"Last night I dreamt the dream of the red chamber. 
Tonight my songs rise in a rain-drenched land. 
Cloud islands gather above sea foam, 
Mountain mist drifts on thickets and pine trees. 

Under the eternal moon there is no more time, 
Only the ceaseless rise and fall of changing moods. 
Can I ever forget the springtime of childhood 
South of the bed of the river Han?" 

"Splendid! She can compose poetry almost better than we Chinese!" 
was the general verdict. The talk went on a little longer; then the sec- 
ondary wife Chao came to inquire how Black Jade was, and the com- 
pany broke up. 

Early the next morning Pao Yu set out under a gray, overcast, wintry 
sky for the apartments of the Ancestress to give her his usual morning 
greeting. The Ancestress had not yet got up, but she allowed him to 
come into her bedroom. Cousin Precious Harp, whom he perceived 
lying beside the Ancestress with her face to the wall, was still fast 
asleep. 

"Is it snowing?" asked the Ancestress with a glance at Pao Yu's 
rough weather-cloak of reddish brown monkey-hair felt. 

"Not yet, but it certainly looks as if it will." 

"Bring him the peacock-feather cloak!" the Ancestress ordered her 
waiting maid, Mandarin Duck. The maid brought in a magnificent 
cloak, which shimmered gold, blue, and green, and which he saw now 
for the first time. It was even more beautiful than the fur-trimmed duck- 

322 



feather coat which the Ancestress had recently given to her new favorite, 
Precious Harp. 

"This is the golden bird-droppings cloak," declared the Ancestress 
jokingly. "Here, I'm making you a present of it. It comes from Russia 
and is worked in peacocks' feathers and silk yarn. Go and show it to 
your mother!" 

Pao Yu performed a kowtow of thanks and went off proudly with the 
precious garment. Outside he passed Mandarin Duck. She looked away 
deliberately. Since the day on which she had made her solemn vow of 
chastity she had avoided him and no longer spoke to him. 

"Have a look, how does this new cloak suit me?" he asked her, smil- 
ing. She only waved him off with a gesture of the hand and disappeared 
immediately into the Ancestress's bedroom. 

After his mother and his waiting maids had duly admired him he 
returned to the Ancestress and dutifully reported to her that his mother 
had warned him to wear the new garment with very special care and not 
let it get damaged. 

"She is quite right. You must take good care of it. It is the only one 
of its kind that I have got, and you will never get another. Always be 
quiet and reserved, be temperate in drinking, and come home nice and 
early!" 

"Shih, shih," he promised eagerly, and took his leave. He could 
hardly wait to show himself in his magnificent new garment to his 
acquaintances in the town, who had invited him to visit them that day. 
When he came home in the evening his waiting maids were startled to 
hear him uttering dejected sighs and stamping angrily with his foot. 

"What's wrong?" asked Musk. 

"The new cloak! It is really terrible! The old Tai tai gave it to me 
this morning in a fit of good humor, and now I find that there is a big 
burn on the collar!" he lamented disconsolately. "A good thing that it 
is so late in the evening; so I shall not have to show myself over there 
any more today." 

The waiting maid Musk inspected the damage, and she did in fact 
find a singed spot about the length of a finger. 

"Apparently someone came too close with a hand-warmer," she re- 
marked. "But it is not so bad. We'll just give it to the tailor and let him 
repair it." 

She wrapped up the cloak and handed it to a serving woman. 

"Take this quickly to the tailor," she said, "and tell him he must 
have it repaired by tomorrow morning. And make sure that the old Tai 
tai and the Tai tai hear nothing about it." 

After a little while the serving woman came back with the cloak. "I 

324 



tried several tailors and tailoresses," she reported, "but no one knows 
this kind of embroidery, and none of them would undertake it." 

"Then simply do not wear it tomorrow," Musk advised him. 

"That will not save me, for both Grandmother and Mother expressly 
wished me to wear it tomorrow, on Uncle Wang's birthday. They will 
be frightfully angry when they hear that I damaged it the very first 
day." 

"Let me see it!" cried Bright Cloud from her alcove, turning round 
in her bed. 

Musk handed her the cloak and held the lamp up beside her. 

"What is needed is peacock-gold silk thread. The difficult part is the 
border. It needs invisible mending," declared Bright Cloud after a thor- 
ough examination. 

"We have got the right yarn all right, but who is there in the house 
except you who can do invisible mending?" remarked Musk. 

"I will try to do it!" 

"But surely you are not going to risk your health, now that you are 
just getting well?" protested Pao Yu. 

"Don't bother. That is my own business." 

She sat up in bed, tidied her hair, and slipped a house frock over her 
nightgown. She felt giddy, her eyes swam, and she would have liked to 
sink back on her pillows. But for Pao Yu's sake she gritted her teeth, 
got Musk to hand her needles, scissors, and various balls of embroidery 
yarn, and set to work bravely. 

"This thread is about the best," she said after lengthy searching and 
comparing. "True, it does not match exactly, but the difference will not 
be noticeable." 

"I think so too," agreed Pao Yu. "It would be hard for us to dig up 
a Russian tailor here." 

She pushed a bamboo darning knob the size of a teacup under the 
damaged spot, deftly cut away the singed material with a sharp gold 
knife, and began darning diligently to and fro, stitch by stitch, artis- 
tically reproducing the original pattern. After she had used three or 
four needlefuls of thread she sank back exhausted on her pillows and 
had to rest for a while. 

"Would you like a little hot broth?" asked Pao Yu anxiously, putting 
a squirrel fur around her shoulders and pushing another pillow behind 
her back. 

"Spare your trouble, little ancestor! Please go to bed instead, or you 
will not be able to open your sleepy eyes in the morning. For it's al- 
ready midnight and long past your bedtime," she rebuffed him im- 
patiently. 

He did as she bade him and crept under his bedclothes, but for a 

325 



long time he could not sleep. The clock was striking four in the morning 
before the valiant Bright Cloud had finished her task. After brushing 
away a few stray ends of thread with a little brush, she showed her work 
to Musk. 

"This is splendid!" cried Musk. "Unless you look very hard you 
can't discover a trace of the mend." 

"It is really quite impossible to distinguish from the original pat- 
tern," Pao Yu, who had slipped quickly out of bed, agreed with en- 
thusiasm. 

"Oh, no, it hasn't turned out to be as beautiful as all that, but I can't 
do another stitch however hard I try," murmured Bright Cloud weakly; 
and with this she fell back unconscious on her pillows. 

Pao Yu and Musk between them brought her back to herself by 
energetic thumping and massaging, and neither of them left her bedside 
until the next morning when Doctor Wang came and felt her pulse once 
more. The doctor was surprised at the relapse the patient had suffered 
after having already shown a marked improvement; he thought she 
must Have either eaten too much or overtired herself, and he prescribed 
another blood- and ne/ve-strengthening medicine consisting of china- 
root, foxglove, archangel root, and similar herbs. Thanks to her sound 
constitution and to the fact that she had always been moderate in eating 
and drinking, had avoided all too highly spiced foods, and had dieted 
strictly, particularly during her illness, as prescribed by the rules of the 
house, Bright Cloud recovered rapidly and was well again in another 
week. 



CHAPTER 31 

The waiting maid Cuckoo slyly tests Pao Yu's feelings and upsets his 

mental balance by hinting at a parting. A kindly aunt pacifies a lovelorn 

maiden with gentle words. 

V^NE DAY IN THE SPRING PAO Yu WENT OVER TO THE BAMBOO HERMIT- 

age to inquire after Black Jade's health, but Black Jade was just having 
her midday nap. Loath to disturb her, he went out instead to the waiting 
maid Cuckoo, who was sitting in the open pleasure veranda in front of 
the house doin 5 some needlework. 

"How is your little mistress? Is her cough better?" he asked. 

"Yes, thank you, it is a bit better." 

"A-mi-to-fo! It's a relief to hear that." 

"Since when do you invoke Buddha? That is something new to me!" 

"Ah, well, in distress one clings to the doctor." 

326 



He remarked that she was wearing only a thin black silk skirt and a 
dark green satin vest over it. 

"Do you not find that attire too light for this between-seasons 
weather?" he asked, stroking her with his hand. "You will catch cold 
sitting here exposed to a draft." 

"Don't do that!" she said, angrily recoiling. "Now, understand once 
for all: when we talk together there must be no more of this fondling. 
You are not a little boy any longer. What will people think if they see 
you? They will pass remarks about your behavior behind your back 
and lose respect for you. Our young lady has strictly forbidden us to go 
on with any fondling. Do you not notice how reserved she is with you 
herself?" 

And getting up, she gathered her needlework together and went into 
the house. He looked after her as utterly dumfounded as if a pail of cold 
water had been thrown over him. Then he crept off and sat down on a 
piece of rock on the way, overwhelmed by a thousand sorrowful 
thoughts. So great was his despondency that his eyes filled with tears. 
He had been sitting there lost in thought for the time that it would take 
to eat a moderate meal when the waiting maid Snowgoose came by. As 
she saw him sitting there so forlorn on the rock under the peach tree, 
with his face propped on his hand, staring absently into space, she stood 
and looked at him and said with a smile: 

"What are you doing here, all alone and forlorn? Is it not too cold 
for you, sitting on that stone?" 

"What is it? What do you want with me?" he asked, starting up in 
alarm. "You're a girl too, aren't you, so you also have no doubt been 
forbidden to have anything to do with me. What would people say if 
they saw us together? Away with you at once!" 

Snowgoose turned away perplexed and went into the house. The 
young lady must have been reprimanding him again, she said to herself. 

"Here is the ginseng which Madame Cheng sends the young lady," 
she said to Cuckoo. "The young lady is still asleep? Who, then, has just 
been upsetting the little master so much that he's sitting outside there 
now, crying his eyes out?" 

"Where is he sitting?" 

"On a stone under the peach tree behind the honeysuckle arbor." 

Cuckoo promptly laid aside her needlework and hurried out. She 
could scarcely keep from laughing out loud when she saw the poor boy 
sitting on his rock. 

"My word, you have chosen a nice cool spot to sit down and rest in ! 
Let us hope you don't catch cold from it! How on earth could you be so 
touchy over the two well-meant words I said to you just now?" 

"I touchy? I am nothing of the kind! You were quite right. But I 

328 



was only saying to myself, the others may come to think as you do, until 
in the end no one will be left to speak to me any more; and that thought 
naturally was painful to me," he replied with a sorrowful smile. 

She sat down close beside him. 

"Why do you come up so near me since you bolted off just now when 
I came too near you?" he asked. 

"Ah, do drop that and let us forget it! What I wanted to ask you was 
this: Sometime recently you began talking to my little mistress about 
swallows' nests, and you were interrupted just as you had begun by the 
secondary wife Chao's coming in. I would very much like to know what 
more you wanted to say about the swallows' nests." 

"Oh, nothing much. I had told my grandmother that your little mis- 
tress required some swallows' nests every day as medicine; for Precious 
Clasp is also only a guest here and cannot keep on providing her with 
a sufficient amount. As far as I know, Grandmother conveyed my wish 
to Phoenix. That is what I was going to say to your little mistress the 
other day when I was interrupted." 

"So she owes it to your kind intervention that she now receives an 
ounce of swallows' nests every day from the kitchen? She could not 
make out. why the old Tai tai had suddenly become so attentive to her." 

"Well, if she's good and eats her portion every day, let us hope that 
in two or three years she will be quite healthy," said Pao Yu. 

"But the question is: Will she have enough money to continue the 
cure when she goes home next year?" remarked Cuckoo. 

"Home? Whom are you talking about?" he asked in alarm. 

"Miss Black Jade, of course; for she is going back to h?r own town 
of Suchow next year." 

"Oh, come! You are talking nonsense. Her parents are both dead and 
that is just why we have taken her in here. What would she do in 
Suchow?" 

"Oh, don't imagine that there are no other distinguished houses be- 
sides your Chia clan!" retorted Cuckoo cheekily. "Certainly the old 
Tai tai did take in the orphan at the time in order to give her a substi- 
tute for her parental home. But now the young lady is grown up and 
marriageable. Therefore it is only proper that she should go back to her 
own family. Her parents are dead, but she has got other relatives. Even 
if they are poor, they are nevertheless members of a highly respectable 
clan in which the fragrance of a noble culture has been passed down for 
generations, and these people would expose themselves to mockery and 
contempt if they allowed their own relative to continue to eat at a 
strange table. In short, next spring or at the latest next autumn Miss 
Black Jade will leave this house. And if they do not send her away from 
here of their own accord, well, then the Ling family will come and take 

329 



her away. One evening recently the young lady gave me instructions to 
ask back from you all the little gifts and souvenirs which she has given 
to you in the course of the years. And she will likewise send back to 
you one of these days all the gifts and souvenirs which she has received 
from you." 

Pao Yu felt as if a thunderbolt had struck him right on the top of 
his head. He was unable to utter a word. Cuckoo was just about to con- 
tinue when Brigh'L C!oud came along. She was looking for him. 

"I had a message to give him from my young lady. He does not seem 
to have quite grasped it yet. Take him away!" declared Cuckoo curtly, 
and left the two alone. 

Bright Cloud perceived with amazement the distraught, absent- 
minded expression of Pao Yu's face, the flush on his cheeks, the drops 
of sweat on his forehead. She took him by the hand and led him back 
to the Begonia Courtyard. 

"What has happened?" asked Pearl, horrified. 

"He's got a feverish cold. Apparently he was hot and got into a cold 
draft," said Bright Cloud with a shrug. 

If only it were merely that! But the pupils of his eyes were so 
strangely fixed, saliva dropped from the corners of his mouth, he 
seemed completely in a daze, and allowed everything to be done to 
him let himself be put to bed, then propped up with pillows and given 
tea, all without showing any movement of his own will. His waiting 
maids were utterly dumfounded by the alteration in his whole being, 
and in their perplexity they called Mother Li, his old nurse, to his bed- 
side. 

'Mother Li observed him attentively, addressed various questions to 
him without receiving any answer, felt his pulse, and dug her sharp 
fingernails deeply into his lips and other parts of his body. But though 
she pressed so hard that the marks of her nails were deeply impr nted 
on his skin, he seemed to feel nothing and remained absolutely listless. 
Then she raised a loud lament, rocked her head to and fro like one 
possessed, beat wildly with her fists on the bed and the pillows, and 
cursed herself for having nursed him in vain in his infancy and de- 
voted her life to him to no purpose. Pearl, who thought the world of 
old Li and her opinions, became infected by her outbreak of despair 
and joined in her lament. At this point Bright Cloud at last spoke up 
and confessed that Pao Yu's condition had nothing to do with catch- 
ing cold, but that he must have been driven distracted by something 
which Cuckoo had done to him just now in the Bamboo Hermitage. 

On hearing this, Pearl dashed off at once to the Bamboo Hermitage 
to take Cuckoo to task. She found her giving Black Jade some medicine. 
Without salutation or ceremony she flew at Cuckoo, crying: "What 

330 



have you just been saying to our little master? Go over and look at him 
and see for yourself what you have done ! See how you can answer for 
yourself to the old Tai tai!" 

With these words she threw herself into the nearest armchair. Black 
Jade was taken aback by her unmannerly, excited behavior, in such 
strong contrast to her normally precise and polite ways. 

"What has happened?" she asked, full of misgiving. 

"Ask that of your Cuckoo!" replied Pearl, weeping. "I don't know 
what she has been saying to our poor little master. At any rate he's com- 
pletely distracted. He can neither speak nor see, and his whole body 
feels cold. Mother Li has just been prodding him in vain with her 
fingernails, but he felt nothing; his body seems to have gone dead. 
Mother Li has given him up already; she's sitting over there lamenting 
his end." 

When Black Jade heard this, her agitation was such that she vomited 
the medicine she had just taken and shook so badly with coughing that 
it seemed as if her lungs would burst and her entrails come apart. Her 
face became a deep crimson, her eyes, suddenly bloodshot, protruded 
from their sockets, she sat there bent over, and her breathing wus so 
weak thai she could not even raise her head. With horror Cuckoo per- 
ieived the consequences of her thoughtless behavior. 

"What did I say, anyway?" she whimpered. "I only said a few words 
to him in joke, and he took them seriously." 

She tried to attend to her mistress and began to clap her back, but 
Black Jade pushed her away angrily. 

"Stop thumping me! Instead, get me a rope with which to hang 
myself!" she gasped laboriously. 

"Surely you should know him by now, and understand that in his 
simplicity he takes everything said in joke for the truth!" said Pearl 
reproachfully. 

"If your words were not meant seriously, go and clear up the mis- 
understanding; perhaps that will bring him back to his senses," Black 
Jade ordered her maid. 

Cuckoo set out obediently for the Begonia Courtyard together with 
Pearl. Pao Yu's mother a: d grandmother had meantime arrived there. 

"What did you say to him, you wretched bitch?" the Ancestress 
burst out angrily as Cuckoo appeared. 

Cuckoo was just about to stammer some words of self-defense when 
Pao Yu perceived her and instantly awoke from his state of trance. A 
deep sigh and a mournful "Ah!" burst from his lips. Then he broke 
into sobs. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. 

"Beg his pardon!" urged the Ancestress. She thought that Cuckoo 

331 



had offended Pao Yu in some way, but to everyone's surprise Pao Yu 
took Cuckoo affectionately by the hand and drew her closer to him. 

"Do not say any more about going away," he whispered, "but if 
it must be, let me go with you!" 

His words were incomprehensible to the others. They pressed Cuckoo 
to speak up, and then they learned at last how Cuckoo had put Pao Yu 
to the test for fun and driven him completely demented by her talk of 
bidding farewell and returning to Suchow, which of course she did not 
mean seriously at all. 

"So that is all it was? I was wondering what on earth could have 
happened," said the Ancestress, melting into tears of relief. "You are 
such a clever, sensible girl normally, and you must know that he is a 
simpleton! How on earth could you make game of him so irresponsi- 
bly?" she said reproachfully to Cuckoo. 

At this moment a servant announced: "Mrs. Ling Chih Hsiao is 
outside and would like to know how the little brother is." 

The mention of the name caused a violent change in Pao Yu. 

"How frightful!" he cried. "There, her relatives have come already 
to take her away! But you must not let them! Away with them! Away 
\vith them!" he cried in a frenzy of excitement. 

Pretending to comply with his wish, the Ancestress gave orders that 
the wife of the majordomo Ling should be sent away again. 

"Do not be uneasy! The Lings whom you mean are all dead. Your 
cousin has not got any relatives left who could take, her away," she said 
in an effort to pacify him. 

,"Yes, but who then are these other Lings? I do not want anyone of 
the name of Ling to come near me except my cousin!" he cried, still 
trembling with fear. 

"You shall have your way. No other Lings will come near you!" said 
the Ancestress, and she gave instructions that the family of the major- 
domo Ling were not to enter the Park of Delightful Vision in future and 
were never to be mentioned in Pao Yu's presence. No one dared to 
laugh at this strange instruction. 

Pao Yu's glance chanced to fall on the European mechanical ship 
of gilded tin which was hanging on the wall. 

"Look, there's her ship! It's coming to fetch her!" he shouted in a 
new access of feverish hallucination, pointing with his finger at the ship 
on the wall. 

At a sign from the nurse Pearl hurriedly removed the toy from the 
wall in order to withdraw it from his sight, but he stretched out his 
hand, made Pearl give it to him, and hid it under the bedclothes. 

"Now she can't sail away!" he said contentedly, at the same time 

332 



holding Cuckoo convulsively fast as if he would never allow her to 
leave his side again. At this point Doctor Wang was announced. 

Doctor Wang felt Pao Yu's pulse, and then, while Cuckoo listened 
conscience-striken, with bent head, treated the company to a long and 
learned professional diagnosis concerning furring of the tongue, and 
constipation, and deficiency of the flow of blood to the brain owing to 
mental excitement, with their accumulated result of mental derange- 
ment. 

"Enough of that learned stuff!" interrupted the Ancestress impa- 
tiently. "We others are lay folk and cannot follow your theories. What 
we want to know above all is this: Is his condition serious?" 

The doctor reassured her and with a courteous smile promised speedy 
recovery. 

"Good ! Then go and write your prescription in the next apartment. 
If it is successful you may be assured of an extra fee, and I shall see 
that my grandson presents it to you personally with a kowtow of thanks. 
But if it is unsuccessful, woe betide you! I will send out my people to 
pull down the whole school of medicine where you studied!" threatened 
the Ancestress laughing. 

At the mention of an extra fee the doctor was overjoyed, and made 
many deep and ceremonious bows and murmurs of pu chan, "too great 
an honor," even continuing his pu charts long after the Ancestress had 
come out with her frightful threat a circumstance which naturally 
evoked hearty laughter among all present. 

The medicine prescribed by Doctor Wang effected a real improve- 
ment, and the Ancestress, reassured to some degree, was able to leave 
the sickroom with her ladies. As Pao Yu did not permit the waiting 
maid Cuckoo to leave his side, Amber was allotted to Black Jade in her 
stead for the time being. 

And so it happened that that night the three waiting maids, Pearl, 
Bright Cloud, and Cuckoo, watched by Pao Yu's bedside as well as the 
nurse Li and several elderly serving women. He slept, but at times raved 
wildly in his dreams and cries such as "Has she gone already?" or 
"There are her people coming to fetch her away!" betrayed the fact 
that even in his sleep he was still with Black Jade. Several times during 
the night the Ancestress asked for reports from the sickroom, and when 
she heard of his delirious dreams, she ordered that the patient should 
be given the best cinnamon pills and wonder-working powders in the 
domestic medicine closet efficacious remedies which had power to 
drive away evil spirits and purify the choked-up doors of the body and 
make them free so that good spirits could find entry. 

The next day Pao Yu felt distinctly better and was back in his right 
senses once more, but because of his fear that Cuckoo might leave him, 

333 



it pleased him to go on playing the invalid a while longer. Of course he 
could not continue indefinitely deceiving those around him by these art- 
ful pretenses, and when Little Cloud came to visit him one day and in 
her merry way mimicked his condition during those critical days by 
means of all sorts of grimaces and tomfoolery, he forgot his pretense of 
suffering so far as to sit up in bed and laugh heartily. He had not 
thought that his recent condition had been so funny, he said. That made 
the household feel fully assured that he must really be well again. 

"Why did you put me into such a state of fright recently?" he asked 
.Cuckoo one day when they were alone. 

"Why, I only did it for fun. How on earth could you have taken it 
seriously?" 

"All the same, what you said did not sound so very unlikely." 

"You can be easy in your mind. Not one of Miss Ling's closer rela- 
tives is still alive, and all the distant relatives live far away from 
Suchow, scattered through the various provinces. And even if someone 
should turn up one day to fetch away my little mistress, it is quite cer- 
tain that the old Tai tai would not let her go !" 

"And even if the old Tai tai should be willing to let her go, I would 
definitely not allow it!" he added passionately. 

"Come now! Who knows if you will still think the same way in two 
or three years? For you are now grown up, and already engaged." 

"Engaged? I didn't know that!" 

"Oh, it's said that the old Ancestress intends Miss Precious Harp for 
you. For what other reason would she make such a favorite of the young 
lady?" 

"Ha! Ha! So I am still taken for a fool? Yet it seems to me that I 
am not quite such a fool as you are. I happen to know that Cousin 
Precious Harp has already been engaged for a long while past to young 
Mei, son of Mei, the member of the Han Lin Academy. So you can't 
fool me this time ! Do you not know of the solemn vow that I have made 
to your little mistress? No! No! I am lucky enough to have just re- 
covered from my last fright, and already you want to start trying to 
hoax me again? I only wish that I could tear the heart out of my breast 
here and now and show it to you and to your mistress in order to con- 
vince you both how sincerely I mean it. Then I would die happy. And 
when I am dead may I be burned to ashes and go up in smoke, and may 
the wind carry me in all directions. That is what I would wish!" He had 
said all this with rising excitement; he was gnashing his teeth; his eyes 
were full of tears. 

"Don't get so excited! I only wanted to put you to the test a bit, I was 
worried about my little mistress. True, I have not always belonged to 
her since I left home, but she has always been so good to me. That is 

334 



why I am so very fond of her, and I dread the thought of being parted 
from her," said Cuckoo, holding his mouth shut with one hand and wip- 
ing the tears from her eyes with the other. 

"You silly little thing! You're grieving without reason," he said, now 
in his turn laughing, trying to calm her. "Let me confide one thing to 
you: in life and in death, we three shall stay together!" 

Cuckoo remained thoughtfully silent. A serving woman appeared to 
announce that Chia Huan and nephew Chia Lan were outside and would 
like to inquire about the health of the little master. 

"Oh, let them not trouble about me; I want to go to sleep now. Send 
them away again!" muttered Pao Yu. 

"You would do better to send me away. It is time I was looking after 
my little mistress^again," interjected Cuckoo. 

"You are right, i was thinking of that myself last evening, for I am 
now quite well. Go then!" 

Cuckoo immediately set about packing her bedclothes and other 
things. 

"Yo^ have got three hand mirrors," he remarked. "Would you leave 
me that one there as a souvenir? I will always place it beside my pillow 
when I go to bed and take it with me when I go out." 

Cuckoo did as h^ wished; then she took leave of him and of all the 
other inmates of the Begonia Courtyard, and returned to the Bamboo 
Hermitage. 

All the time that she knew Pao Yu to be ill in bed, Black Jade had 
suffered with him, and during Cuckoo's absence she had shed many a 
secret tear. Now, when she saw Cuckoo coming back to her and heard 
her report of Pao Yu's recovery, she herself suddenly felt a great deal 
better and more cheerful. 

"He means it really seriously," said Cuckoo with a smile to her mis- 
tress as they went to bed that night. "That sudden bad turn he took 
was solely due to my having let drop a few words about our going away 
and bidding farewell." 

Black Jade pretended not to have heard her remark. After a fairly 
lengthy pause Cuckoo continued, as if talking to herself: "Why get rest- 
less and want to change when one is so safe and well looked after here? 
The chief thing is that you two have known and understood each other 
from childhood. Everything else will come right in time." 

"Will you not go to sleep at last? Are you so little tired from the last 
few days that you must go nibbling idly at ants' eggs?" asked Black 
Jade, interrupting her soliloquy: But Cuckoo refused to be rebuffed and 
continued: "Oh, it's not just idle chatter; what I want to say to you 
comes straight from my heart. Believe me, I have felt for you all these 
years, in your loneliness and desolation. How I wish that the main 

335 



affair of your life would happen very soon, while the old Tai tai is still 
alive! As long as the old Tai tai is in command you have nothing to 
fear, but once she is dead, who knows? These aristocratic young people 
simply are as they are: today they look to the east, tomorrow to the 
west; they like best to do with not less than 'three chief rooms and five 
side-chambers.' Today they bring home a wife beautiful as a heavenly 
fairy; after three or five nights they are tired of her, and begin looking 
out for another, and then they either hate the first wife or else banish 
the thought of her into the farthest corner of their minds. When this 
happens it is a good thing for a young wife to have the backing of an 
influential crowd of relations. Therefore I think that it would be a good 
thing for you if your main affair was settled while the old Tai tai is still 
in authority here. You are clever, you will understand what I mean 
when I advise you to make up your mind now and keep to your deci- 
sion, bearing in mind the proverb: 

Ten thousand gold batzes 
Are more easily won 
Than a single heart." 

"You seem to have gone out of your mind," said Black Jade, cutting 
short her flow of talk. "How on earth can a person change so suddenly, 
all in a few days? You have become quite intolerable. But just you 
wait! I will ask the old Tai tai tomorrow to take you away from here." 

"Why? I only meant well by you. I merely want you to look out for 
yourself while there is yet time. Surely there's no harm in that?" said 
Cuckoo, in laughing self-defense, and soon after fell asleep. 

But Black Jade remained awake for a long time. In her heart she felt 
quite differently from what the brusque tone she had just put on would 
lead one to believe. She was profoundly moved by the sensible words of 
her good waiting maid and she had to agree with her in her heart. She 
lay awake the whole night, tossing and turning fretfully and weeping 
silently into the pillow; only as dawn was breaking did she get a little 
sleep. 

She got up next morning so exhausted and underslept that she found 
it an effort to wash herself, and rinse out her mouth, and eat her swal- 
lows' nest cream. That day Aunt Hsueh was celebrating her birthday. 
Black Jade went over to offer her congratulations and at the same time 
took her a piece of her own needlework; then she came straight back to 
her Bamboo Hermitage. She was quite unable to attend the usual ban- 
quet and theatrical performance. Pao Yu was also absent from among 
the birthday guests. At the festive banquet for the male guests, whicli 
lasted more than three or four days, nephew Hsueh Kuo did the honors 
in place of the absent Hsueh Pan. 

336 



For a long time past Aunt Hsueh had had an eye on Wreath of 
Clouds, Princess Shieh's poor niece. True, the young girl was penniless, 
one of those who "have only a thorn for a hair-clasp," as the saying 
goes. On the other hand, she was graceful of form, and quiet and pleas- 
ing in her ways, in fact, she had the making of an ideal wife. Actually, 
Aunt Hsueh had been thinking of her for her son Hsueh Pan, but then 
she said to herself that the young girl was really too good for that scoun- 
drel and wastrel and would only suffer misery if married to him; so she 
changed her plans and decided to win Wreath of Clouds for her nice 
young nephew Hsueh Kuo instead. 

She first informed Phoenix of her plan, and Phoenix in her turn con- 
fided the matter to the Ancestress. The Ancestress gave her willing con- 
sent and evinced eagerness herself to play the part of the sponsor and 
go-between who brings the mountains togethf"-. She sent forthwith ;or 
Princess Shieh and asked her consent to the project. The Princess said 
to herself that a union of her poor niece with the rich family of Hsueh 
Kuo could not be other than advantageous, and as the suitor, moreover, 
was a good-looking, well-behaved young man, she consented without 
any lengthy deliberation. The Ancestress now sent for Aunt Hsueh to 
be the third party at the marriage conference. For the sake of good 
form, quite a lengthy discussion of pros and cons now developed be- 
tween Princess Shieh and Aunt Hsueh, with apparent resistance and 
rejection, and raising of this doubt and that objection until, thanks to 
the energetic persuasion of the Ancestress, agreement was eventually 
reached. The parents of the bride were now informed and called upon 
to appear. Sometime previously they had taken refuge in the Yungkuo 
palace, owing to their poverty. Could they have wished for anything 
better than this advantageous union with the well-to-do family of 
Hsueh? They were only too willing to give their consent. 

The Ancestress was very pleased with her achievement. 

"There's another business happily concluded! All my life I have en- 
joyed carrying through negotiations of this kind, and now what about 
my marriage broker's commission?" she said jokingly to Aunt Hsueh. 

"Naturally, the commission has been well earned. I trust that ten 
thousand silver pieces will suffice," said Aunt Hsueh, taking up the jest. 
"But how would it be if the old Tai tai, having negotiated the marriage, 
would also do us the honor of giving the wedding feast?" 

"No, thank you; I should prefer not to," replied the Ancestress, 
laughing. "Let other hands and feet than mine stir themselves this 
time!" Thereupon she sent for Princess Chen and instructed her to 
make all the necessary preparations for a worthy wedding feast, neither 
too economical nor too luxurious, and to render her a conscientious and 
detailed account of all the outlay. 

337 



During her sojourn in the Yungkuo palace Wreath of Clouds had 
attached herself most of all to Precious Clasp and had found in her a 
friend as sympathetic as a sister. True, she lived with her cousin Greet- 
ing of Spring, but the latter bothered just as little about her poor rela- 
tion as did her stepmother, Princess Shieh. She was made to feel quite 
clearly that she was poor and did not belong to the respected mandarin 
class as the other young girls in the Park of Delightful Vision did, and 
she was poorly equipped and often was without even the most necessary 
things. She lacked the courage to beg from her cousin or from her 
proud aunt, Princess Shieh, and at such times of need it was always 
Precious Clasp to whom she turned in her embarrassment and who 
helped her out secretly with this or that. 

^ One day Precious Clasp met Wreath of Clouds by chance in the park. 
They were both going in the same direction to visit Black Jade. Com- 
ing to a narrow pathway, Precious Clasp lei the other step in front, and 
so she noticed what very thin clothing she wore. 

"Why do you not dress more warmly ; .n this cold early spring 
weather?" she asked her. 

Wreath of Clouds bent her head, embarrassed, and did not answer. 

"Your pocket money has run short again, I suppose?" she asked, 
smiling. "Yes, I know, Cousin Phoenix has taken to pinching and 
reckoning of late." 

Wreath of Clouds nodded eager agreement. 

"I have to give half of my meager two taels a month to my parents at 
Aunt Shieh's wish. Then there are the little gifts which I have to give, to 
serving women and waiting maids to induce them to condescend to 
serve me at all and not overlook me completely. So what is .there left 
with which to buy things?" she complained. "Of course my pocket 
money always runs out right at the beginning of the month. And the 
fact is that I have taken all my warm lined clothing secretly to a pawn- 
shop and pawned it." 

"So I thought. Well, I shall have a talk with Mother. And meantime, 
will you turn back and send me your pawn ticket as quickly as possible, 
and I will have it redeemed secretly, and you will have your warm 
things back by this evening. You could easily catch a bad cold by run- 
ning about so lightly dressed. Where is your pawnshop, by the way?" 

"It is on the main road west of the Drum Tower, and is called the 
Hall of Enduring Weil-Being, or something of the kind." 

"Oh, indeed? Then the money will at least remain, in the family. The 
employees in the pawnshop will think that if their employers do not 
come to them in person, at least they honor them with their clothes." 

Wreath of Clouds flushed, with embarrassment. So she had gone to a 
pawnshop which was run by the Hsueh family, of all people ! 

338 



When Precious Clasp reached the Bamboo Hermitage she found her 
mother Aunt Hsueh together with Black Jade. 

"How marvellous are the ways of destiny! Aunt Hsueh has just told 
me of the engagement of her nephew to Wreath of Clouds. Who would 
have thought it would all happen so quickly?" said Black Jade to 
Precious Clasp. 

"Yes, my child, if the old man in the moon wills it, two people find 
each other even if they are a thousand miles apart," remarked Aunt 
Hsueh with a smile. "The old man in the moon secretly seeks out his 
young people and binds them together with the magic red cord which 
he winds around their feet. When that happens, countries and seas and 
years may lie between them, but his chosen young people must become 
man and wife in the end. None of it happens by human will. And on the 
other hand, two human beings may live ever so close together, and they 
may be solemnly destined for each other by parents and relatives, but if 
the old man in the moon does not knot his red cord, then, in spite of 
everything, they do not get each other. Who knows how quickly it may 
one day happen to you two girls, even if your future husbands are in 
the Southern Mountains or by the Northern Sea?" 

"All the same, a little motherly help could not harm us, perhaps," 
said Precious Clasp, with a laugh, nestling against her mother's breast. 

"Imagine -a big girl like her being petted like that! How lucky she 
is!" sighed Black Jade, smiling sadly. How happy she would be if she 
could nestle on a motherly breast, she thought. And her eyes filled with 
tears. 

"Don't weep, dear child!" said Aunt Hsueh, moved with pity, flick- 
ing her face with a feather duster. "I can quite understand how sad it 
makes you to have to look on at the caresses between a mother and 
daughter. But believe me, I feel for you no whit less than I do for my 
own daughter, but I dare not show my feelings openly, there are so 
many malicious tongues in the house. No one would understand that 
one could adopt a defenseless orphan out of pure human sympathy 
no, it would oe interpreted as currying favor with the old Tai tai; for 
the old Tai tai also has a special preference for you." 

"Oh, if that is the way it is with you, Aunt, may I not look upon you 
as a mother?" asked Black Jade. 

"Why not? If you do not scorn me, I will willingly adopt you," re- 
plied Aunt Hsueh affectionately. 

"No, that would not do," interjected Precious Clasp, smiling slyly. 

"Why would it not do?" asked Black Jade, surprised. 

"Well, naturally, because of my brother Hsueh Pan. For after all, he 
is not yet married. Why do you think it was that Cousin Wreath of 
Clouds has been betrothed to Cousin Hsueh Kuo and not to him?" 

339 



"Why? Presumably because he is away or because his horoscope 
does not agree with Wreath of Clouds'," replied Black Jade guilelessly. 

"No, no, that's not the reason. Hsueh Pan's bride has already been 
chosen, and as soon as he comes back from his travels her name will be 
made known. Now can you guess why Mother cannot very well adopt 
you as a daughter? Just think hard!" 

Precious Clasp winked gleefully at her mother as she said this, but 
Black Jade, who now understood, took her. jest seriously. Horrified, she 
hid her face on Aunt Hsueh's breast, murmuring distractedly: "I won't! 
I won't!" 

"Don't let her frighten you! She is only hoaxing you!" Aunt Hsueh 
reassured her, embracing her tenderly. 

"Really, you may believe it! Mama is going to speak to the old Tai 
tai tomorrow and ask for your hand. Why should she waste time look- 
ing elsewhere when the right bride is here?" continued Precious Clasp, 
persisting with her jesting. 

"Oh, you're crazy!" exclaimed Black Jade, laughing and going for 
Precious Clasp with outspread fingers as if about to claw her. Aunt 
Hsueh parted the two young girls, saying to her daughter as she did so: 
"Enough of this nonsense! Since I think even Wreath of Clouds too 
good for y6ur scamp of a brother, how would I ever dream of deliver- 
ing this delicate and sensitive child iiito his claws? No ! The old Tai tai 
said only recently that she intends her grandson Pao Yu for your cousin 
Black Jade. And it is best so, too; for Pao Yu is so full of peculiarities 
that he must have a wife who knows and understands him thoroughly, 
and surely only Cousin Black Jade can do that. The old Tai tai will on 
no account give him a strange girl as wife." 

Black Jade had listened with growing tension, making faces at her 
cousin the while. Now she flushed up to the roots of her hair. 

"Phew! You deserve a good spanking for enticing your mother to 
talk about things which should not be mentioned!" she said to Precious 
Clasp in jest, pretending indignation. 

"Oh, if that is Madame's opinion, would she not go one step further 
and herself put in a word for my little mistress with the old Tai tai?" 
interjected Cuckoo eagerly, turning to Aunt Hsueh. 

"Listen to the girl. She can hardly wait to see her young lady leave 
her maiden's quarters! Probably she wants to marry herself, eh?" re- 
marked Aunt Hsueh. Cuckoo turned away blushing. 

"Kindly do not meddle in matters which do not concern you, you 
cheeky little creature!" Black Jade called after her, with a voice of 
pretended sternness. But immediately she herself had to burst out 
laughing. 

"A-mi-to-fo, holy Buddha, what a cussed creature, chai tzu . . ." 

340 



she was in the act of continuing. But she did nol get beyond the chai; 
the tzu turned into a hefty sneeze, to the amusement of all present. She 
was about to finish the sentence she had begun wnen Little Cloud burst 
in, waving a piece of paper in her hand. 

"Can you tell me what this funny document meaps?" she asked. "It 
looks like a bill." 

Black Jade was the first to look at the paper. She could not make it 
out either, and then Precious Clasp glanced at it. To her horror she 
recognized Wreath of Clouds' pawn ticket, of which she knew already. 
She hurriedly snatched it from Little Cloud and tried to hide it. Aunt 
Hsueh too had already stolen a glimpse at it. 

"It's a pawn ticket," she explained to Little Cloud. "It must belong 
to some serving woman. Where did you find it? The owner will miss it." 

"A pawn ticket? What may that be?" asked Little Cloud naively. 

"What a little noodle! She doesn't yet know what a pawn ticket is!" 
the women and waiting maids who were standing about exclaimed, 
giggling. 

"What is there so funny about that?" said Aunt Hsueh reprovingly. 
"This ignorance is only to her credit. It shows that she is a real Miss 
'Thousand-Gold-Piece,' a genuinely innocent young girl who knows 
nothing as yet of this wicked world. I trust that the other young ladies 
here are all just the same kind of little noodles." 

"Of course, of course," replied the serving women fervently, as if 
with one voice. "After all, Miss Black Jade didn't know either, so the 
other young ladies surely cannot know. Indeed, we feel sure that even 
our little master, although he has been outside the house so often al- 
ready, has never seen a pawn ticket either." 

Aunt Hsueh then explained briefly to the three young girls the nature 
and meaning of a pawn ticket. 

"Oh, goodness, what funny ideas people come on in order to obtain 
money!" cried Black Jade and Little Cloud, astonished, and their re- 
mark induced a further outbreak of giggles and exclamations of "little 
noodles" among the serving women and waiting maids. 

"Where, actually, did you pick up the ticket?" Aunt Hsueh wanted 
to know. Little Cloud was just opening her mouth to answer when 
Precious Clasp forestalled her: "Anyhow, the ticket is expired and in- 
valid long ago. Lotus just kept it for fun." Of course her aim was to 
prevent the truth from coming out and to save Cousin Wreath of Clouds 
embarrassment. Aunt Hsueh was satisfied and desisted from further 
questions; but later, when they were by themselves, Precious Clasp be- 
gan questioning Little Cloud once more. Little Cloud then confessed 
that she had just noticed Wreath of Clouds' maid surreptitiously slip- 
ping the ticket across to Precious Clasp's maid Oriole, and had seen 

341 



Oriole putting it into a book. Being curious by nature, she had taken 
out the ticket unobserved and, as she did not understand what it meant, 
had brought it in to have its purpose explained. 

"So Wreath of Clouds has pawned things? But why did she have her 
ticke,J sent over to your maid?" asked Little Cloud. Realizing that she 
could no longer hide the true facts of the case, Precious Clasp confided 
the story to the two cousins. They were both sorry for Wreath of Clouds 
and indignant that she was treated so shabbily by her rich aunt the 
Princess and her cousin Greeting of Spring. 

"See if I do not give Cousin Greeting of Spring and her ill-behaved 
staff a good piece of myjnind," declared Little Cloud angrily. 

She would have liked to carry out her intention straight away, but 
the others succeeded in dissuading her from such hasty action, which 
would only have brought unpleasantness to herself. They all agreed to 
avoid useless lecturing and instead to be nicer to Wreath of Clouds 
themselves and to find a pretext for getting her away from the unpleas- 
ant company of her cousin Greeting of Spring by taking her to live with 
Precious Clasp, Little Cloud, and Lotus in the Jungle Courtyard. 



CHAPTER 32 

Chia Lien secretly takes the second Miss Yu to wife. The third Miss Yu 
aspires to the hand of the Cold Knight. 

CIHIA CHING, THE PRINCE HERMIT,. WAS DEAD. THE NEWS OF HIS 
decease reached the Yungkuo and the Ningkuo palaces exactly on Pao 
Yu's birthday, as it happened. It also chanced that just at that time the 
Princess Ancestress and the older ladies and all the male seniors of both 
palaces, among them Prince Chen and his son Chia Yung, were away 
taking part in the funeral procession to the Imperial burial grounds of a 
recently deceased Imperial wife. Princess Chen had to leave the birth- 
day banquet forthwith, remove her jewelry and her festive attire, put 
on a simple white mourning robe, and hasten out into the mountains in 
front of the city, to the hermitage of her dead father-in-law, in order to 
comply with the initial formalities such as viewing the corpse, having it 
prepared for the bier, and so on. For she was the only representative of 
the family at home. True, she sent express messengers to her absent 
husband, but it would be several weeks in any case before Prince Chen 
could be back from the Imperial burial place to help her. Therefore, she 
had to resign herself to taking up her quarters for a time in the near-by 
Temple of the Iron Railings, where the family vaults of the Chia clan 
were situated and where she had the corpse laid temporarily on a bier; 

342 



and she had to carry through the prescribed funeral rites alone there, 
until her husband could come and relieve her and make the final ar- 
rangements for the obsequies. She had taken the majordomo Lai Sheng 
and his wife with her to help her. In order not to leave the Ningkuo 
palace entirely without the supervision of a respected older person, she 
had induced her stepmother to come and take over the management of 
the household during her absence. 

Her stepmother, the Lady Yu, had brought with her two unmarried 
daughters. They were both equal in beauty but far from alike in char- 
acter, as will be noticed later. When the older ladies and the male sen- 
ior members of the Chia clan came home subsequently, having been 
graciously excused by the Emperor from further attendance at the Im- 
perial burial place, and the various services took place before the bier 
of the Prince Hermit in the great hall of the Ningkuo palace, the sight 
of the two beautiful Yu girls inevitably awoke in Chia Lien's breast such 
burning desire that his mouth literally watered. For a long time past he 
had been tiring of his first wife,, the more so since Phoenix had been 
ailing frequently of late and was often confined to her sickbed. Chia 
Lien found both the Yu girls equally desirable, but since the younger 
one had given him unmistakably to understand that she did not care for 
him, he confined his attentions to the elder one, and had the satisfaction 
of seeing that his feelings were reciprocated. To be sure, their relations 
at the beginning were confined to hurried meetings and surreptitious 
exchanges of glances and words. For there were always too many ob- 
servant pairs of eyes in the neighborhood, which effectively prevented 
him from attaining the goal of his desires. 

So he breathed a sigh of relief when at last the obsequies in the 
house came to an end and the coffin of the Prince Hermit was takenjto 
the family burial place at the Temple of the Iron Railings. While the 
other relatives might return to the town the same day, the funeral rites 
required that the closer relatives of the deceased, namely, Prince and 
Princess Chen, their son Chia Yung, and their daughter-in-law, had to 
remain a full hundred days longer in the family temple, to carry out the 
further obsequies. A large proportion of the palace staffs likewise re- 
mained out there with them, while at home in the Ningkuo palace the 
Lady Yu, with her two daughters, took over the running of the house- 
hold once more. 

It is now or never, said Chia Lien to himself, and he resolved to 
achieve his goal during these hundred days. Naturally, he required a 
suitable pretext for approaching his beloved, whom he knew to be less 
watched and observed than usual in the semideserted Ningkuo palace. 
For this reason he rode out quite often to the family temple to keep 
Prince Chen and his family company for one or two days, and nearly 

343 



always there was some order of the Prince, or this or that domestic re- 
quest on the part of the Princess, which offered him the desired excuse 
of entering the eastern palace on his return and seeing and speaking to 
the beloved. 

One day, when he was once more out at the Temple of the Iron Rail- 
ings, the Prince's deputy majordomo, Yu Lu, called to discuss some 
business with his master. A balance of six hundred ounces of silver was 
still owing for the white funeral cloth and the green smocks for the 
coffin bearers, and the two cloth merchants had called yesterday to com- 
plain and demand payment, he reported. 

"Well, just get the money from the household cash. Why bother me 
about it and make this unnecessary journey here?" said the Prince. 

"The bursar could not pay me the sum. The cash has been exhausted, 
owing to the many heavy expenses of the recent weeks of mourning. 
The ready money available is earmarked for covering the expenses of 
the last hundred days of mourning here in the Temple of the Iron Rail- 
ings. That is why I have come for your instructions." 

"Well, just see where else you can get the money from; you are old 
and wise enough to do that," said the Prince. 

"Hm, if it were only a matter of one or two hundred ounces, I would 
know how to get over the difficulty, but six hundred straight away 
. . .!"YuLu answered hesitantly, much embarrassed. 

The Prince considered the matter for a while, then he turned to his 
son, Chia Yung, and said: "Go to your mother and ask her what became 
of the five hundred ounces which came in recently as a funeral gift from 
the Chen family of Kiang nan. As far as I know, the money has not 
gone into the household cash." 

Chia Yung went to the Princess and came back after a while with 
the message that two of the five hundred ounces were already spent, and 
the remaining three hundred were in the safekeeping of Mother Yu. 

"Very well. Then you must go to your grandmother, ask her to give 
you the three hundred, and hand them to Yu Lu to pay his cloth mer- 
chants' bill. He will rake up the balance himself. At the same time have 
a look around and see how things are going at home, whether there is 
anything that calls for discussion; and see also how your two aunts are, 
and give them our greetings." 

Chia Yung and Yu Lu were just about to take leave when Chia Lien 
appeared. 

"Well, what's the important discussion?" he asked, and when the 
Prince informed him, he thought to himself, this is just my chance; I 
must seize it. 

"Why should you go borrowing from outsiders, dear Cousin, when it 
is a matter of such a trifle?" he continued aloud. "I happen to have 

344 



quite a large sum lying at home. I place it at your disposal with 
pleasure." 

"That is splendid! Would you be so good, then, as to give my son a 
written order, so that the money can be handed over to h'*m." 

"Hm, I should prefer to do that myself. Besides, I have been long 
enough away from home and must think about returning in any case. I 
should like to see how Grandmother, and Mother, and my aunts are, 
and to make sure that everything is in order at home." 

And so it came about that Uncle Lien and Nephew Yung set out to- 
gether, accompanied by a few servants, to ride back to the capital. On 
the way the uncle contrived, as if by chance, to lead the conversation on 
to the subject of Cousin Yu Number Two. He could not find nearly 
enough words with which to praise her good qualities and her virtues, 
her beauty, her good character, and her blameless behavior, and so ex- 
travagant were his eulogies that the nephew very soon realized what he 
was driving at. 

"My uncle seems to be very much taken with her," remarked Chia 
Yung with a smile. "How would it be if he were to make her his 'lady of 
the side-chamber' and if I were to act as go-between?" 

"Do you mean that seriously, or are you joking?" asked Chia Lien, 
pretending surprise. 

"1 am serious, of course." 

"That's very friendly of you. But there are various difficulties. What 
would my wife say to it? And would your grandmother approve? More- 
over, I heard that your second aunt is already engaged." 

"That is true. But since the father of her betrothed, a tenant farmer 
on the estate named Chang, lost his fortune ten years ago in a lawsuit, 
the two families have broken off relations. For a long time past Grand- 
mother and Father have planned to have this engagement cancelled by 
the payment of a small indemnity in cash, and to seek another suitable 
husband for my aunt. The Chang family are poor; they will be very 
glad to renounce the betrothal for a few ounces of silver. And I have not 
the least doubt but that Grandmother and Father will joyfully give their 
approval to such a distinguished suitor as you. The only doubtful point 
is the question of what Phoenix would say to it." 

This Chia Lien did not kn >w either, and his only answer was a forced 
smile. 

"Wait! I've got an idea!" exclaimed the nephew, after thinking for a 
while. "We shall certainly require some courage, and you must not 
shrink from spending a bit of money too, if the matter is to succeed." 

"Out with it!" 

"My plan is simply to hoodwink Phoenix. She must not hear any- 
thing of your intention. I will carry through the whole business with the 

345 



utmost discretion with my father and my grandmother. As soon as they 
have consented, I shall buy a little house for you close behind our pal- 
ace. I shall furnish it nicely and cozily as a love nest for you, and hire 
two or three discreet and reticent serving women. Then one happy day 
I will conduct my aunt there secretly and unseen by either spirit or 
mortal, and install her in your love nest as your secondary wife. You 
will then live alternately with Phoenix and with your new wife for the 
future. If Phoenix gets to know of it in the course of time and makes a 
row, why, you need only say that you were moved to act as you had 
done by the very understandable wish to beget the son and heir that 
your principal wife had failed to give you. Faced with the accomplished 
fact, with the rice in the pot already cooked, Phoenix will no doubt put 
up with it. And then, in the end, you will ask the blessing of the old 
Tai tai." 

In his infatuated state Chia Lien found the plan splendid. It did not 
even occur to him that according to traditional observance it was im- 
proper for him to think of marriage in this mourning period. Still less 
did he reckon with the sternness of his father, Prince Shieh, and the 
jealousy of his wife, Phoenix. Nor did he guess, moreover, that his cun- 
r'iag nephew had his own advantage in mind in making this suggestion. 
For the nephew too was madly enamored of his beautiful aunt, but 
within the parental home he could not well make overtures to her. In 
the solitary love nest behind the palace, however, he would have a splen- 
did occasion to do so. He would only have to watch his chance when 
Uncle Lien was not there, and this opportunity would offer itself often 
enough. But none of these things crossed the mind of the infatuated 
urtcle. 

"You are really a bright boy, dear nephew ! " said the latter, beaming 
with joy. "By way of thanks I shall give you a present of two pretty 
waiting maids." 

Meanwhile they had reached the main gateway of the Ningkuo pal- 
ace, and here they parted with mutual promises of the strictest secrecy. 
The nephew was considerate enough to allow the uncle to go alone to 
Grandmother Yu in order that Chia Lien would have the field to himself 
later when he would meet Aunt Number Two. Meantime he himself 
turned in to the western palace to greet the old Ancestress. 

In front of the great hall Chia Lien dismissed his retinue of servants, 
dismounted from his horse, and went alone and unannounced to the 
ladies' quarters. As a near relative who was on close terms of friend- 
ship with Prince Chen, the master of the house, he could take this lib- 
erty without causing unpleasant surprise among the staff. On walking 
unannounced into the living room of the ladies Yu, he had the good 
luck to find Miss Yu Number Two alone. She was reclining on the 

346 



couch busy with her needlework, in the company of two waiting maids. 

Chia Lien walked up to her eagerly and saluted her politely. Miss Yu, 
suppressing a smile, rose to return his greeting, and invited him to sit 
down by her side. Chia Lien gave her to understand at once how happy 
he considered himself to see her again. 

"But where are your mother and sister?" he inquired. 

"They are in the back, in the storerooms," she replied. 

Meanwhile the two maids had disappeared to get tea. Chia Lien 
availed of this opportunity to gaze deeply into the eyes of the beautiful 
cousin, whereupon she bent her head a little, but continued to smile 
ingenuously. He did not wish to push his advances too directly and 
crudely. His glance fell on her hand, which was toying with the orna- 
mental silken ribbon of a handbag of lotus-leaf shape. 

"Oh, I have left my betel-nut bag out at the temple," he said, feeling 
around his belt. "Perhaps my good cousin would give me a few nuts out 
of her bag?" 

"I happen to have betel nuts in my bag, but it is my custom to eat 
them myself and not to share them with other people," she replied. 

He sidled closer up to her and reached for her bag, to help himself to 
some. Fearing the maids might surprise her in this equivocal situation, 
she hurriedly flung him the bag. He caught it deftly, took out a nut, 
and put it in his mouth. Then he tried to push the bag back onto her 
lap. Just at that moment the two waiting maids came in with the tea 
things, so he hid it for the time being in his sleeve pocket. While he 
was drinking his tea he managed quietly to unfasten a dragon-shaped 
clasp of jade from his belt and to knot the ribbon of her bag around 
it. Then, when the maids were not looking, he threw the bag over to her 
unobserved. She pretended not to notice. 

After a while the jingling of the bead curtains was heard and in came 
Mother Yu with daughter Number Three and two little waiting maids. 
Chia Lien hurriedly gave his fair neighbor to understand by his glances 
that she was to hide her bag, but she took no notice of him. It was now 
high time for him to stand up and salute Aunt Yu and Cousin Three. 
Then, when they were all seated again, and he could steal a glance at 
Cousin Two, he noticed that her bag was still there, but its silken ribbon 
had disappeared together with his dragon clasp. She herself looked as 
gay and unconcerned as if nothing had happened. So now he was reas- 
sured. 

They talked about all sorts of things, then he brought forward the 
business reason of his visit, and had the three hundred ounces of silver 
handed to him. At this point Nephew Chia Yung appeared on the scene. 

"The old Governor would like to speak to you," he said, winking 
gleefully at his uncle. Chia Lien was about to take leave in haste when 

347 



he heard his cheeky nephew turning to the Lady Yu and saying: "Now, 
what do you think, Grandmother? Wouldn't this uncle here be just the 
right man for Aunt Two? Hasn't he got all the qualities height, figure, 
good appearance, and so on which Father said recently he would re- 
quire of her future husband?" 

Saying this, he pointed his finger quite unconcernedly at his Uncle 
Chia Lien and made cheeky faces at his Aunt Two. Taking the part of 
her sister, who was visibly embarrassed, Aunt Three opened her mouth 
and began scolding, half in joke and half in earnest: "What an imperti- 
nent little monkey! If Mother had not happened to speak of this herself 
already, I would give him a good hiding!" 

But the little monkey had already slipped giggling out the door. Im- 
mediately afterwards his uncle too took his leave, all smiles. 

That same day Chia Yung returned to the Temple of the Iron Rail- 
ings and, after having made his business report to his father, presented 
Uncle Chia Lien's marriage proposal and strongly advocated the sug- 
gested union between his uncle and his aunt. Prince Chen considered 
the matter, then he said with a smile: "It seems all right to me. But is 
the girl herself willing? Go back to the city tomorrow and make sure on 
this point!" 

He then visited his wife and asked her opinion. 

At first Princess Chen was decidedly against the plan, which seemed 
to her a rather dubious one. That this marriage should take place dur- 
ing the mourning period, that a secondary wife should be taken without 
the knowledge and consent of the principal wife these circumstances 
constituted breaches of the Rites, and were contrary to all conceptions 
of correctness and good form. But as she was used to assent to every- 
thing which the Prince had once taken into his head, she gave way in 
the end. Moreover, this Miss Yu was not her blood sister but only a 
stepsister; she therefore did not have to be too scrupulous about taking 
responsibility for the possible unpleasant consequences of this incor- 
rectly effected union. 

Accordingly, early next morning Chia Yung hastened back to the 
Ningkuo palace at his father's request to obtain the consent of the ladies 
Yu. He had himself announced to Grandmother Yu and, when admitted 
to her presence, informed her of the Prince's wish, and with much em- 
phasis and many flowery phrases, put forward all possible points in 
favor of the match what a fine life Aunt Two would have with Chia 
Lien, who would make her his principal wife as a matter of course when 
Phoenix would die an event which was to be expected sooner or later; 
and that the Prince would defray all the costs of the wedding and pro- 
vide a handsome home and fine furniture, and would also see that she, 
Grandmother, had a carefree old age; and he would help, moreover, to 

348 



obtain a good match for Aunt Three. He held forth on all these things 
and with such eloquence that Mother Yu was completely won over. The 
business was to cost nothing, and besides, Chia Lien was a fine-looking, 
fashionable young man. It would be madness to refuse such an advan- 
tageous offer. Grandmother Yu consulted for a short time with her 
daughter, and that same day Chia Yung was able to bring his father the 
desired word of consent. 

Chia Lien was now summoned to the family temple, and informed of 
the approval of the other side. He was overjoyed, and his gratitude 
towards his friendly helpers, Prince Chen and his son, knew no bounds. 
Wedding garments and lingerie were bought in haste and all the other 
wedding preparations were made. Two li from the back walls of the 
princely abode, in the quiet little Lane of the Flowering Branch, a suit- 
able "love nest" was acquired. It was a small country villa of twenty 
rooms. Little Pao, who, after his wife had killed herself, had married 
the merry widow of that crazy fellow the cook To who had died of drink, 
was engaged as a servant. He had left the palace service some time pre- 
viously. Chia Lien could not have hit upon a better choice, for Little 
Pao had received a hundred taels in hush money from him some time 
previously, as well as the pretty Widow To, in compensation for the 
loss of his wife, and he was therefore deeply indebted to him. Moreover, 
his wife's former tender relations with Chia Lien were likewise a bond 
between herself and their new master. Therefore, Chia Lien would be 
able to rely upon his servants for true devotion and reticence. And old 
Chang, the impoverished father of the original fiance of Miss Yu Num- 
ber Two, was compensated with a sum of twenty taels, for which he 
signed the required deed of relinquishment. 

The third day of the new month was picked out in the calendar as a 
suitable day for the wedding. Mother Yu and Daughter Three had in- 
spected the new home the previous day and found it in the best possible 
order. And now the bride was fetched in an ordinary litter, unseen by 
either spirit or mortal, in the fifth hour of the morning of the third, and 
taken to the love nest in the Lane of the Flowering Branch. A little time 
later Chia Lien arrived, equally unobtrusively, seated in a small sedan 
chair and dressed in his everyday attire, paid his respects to heaven and 
earth and to his Aunt Yu, who was present, burned incense and little 
paper horses, and drank with his new bride from the same wedding 
beaker in a festively illuminated bridal chamber, then later revelled 
with her in that unrestrained manner of phoenix couples which is all 
too well known. 

The news of this secret marriage did not penetrate beyond the circle 
of the few initiated persons. From now onwards Chia Lien covered his 
fairly frequent absences with the pretext to Phoenix that his presence 

349 



was required in the Ningkuo palace,. and in view of his close friendship 
with Prince Chen the unsuspecting Phoenix believed him. Everything 
went as he had desired. Chia Lien allowed his new wife fifteen taels per 
month and, when he himself could not be with her, permitted her to 
take her meals with her mother and sister so that she would not feel too 
Ibnely. His intimacy with the new wife was so great that he gradually 
took away secretly from his home in the Yungkuo palace all the objects 
of value which he had collected for himself in the course of the years, 
and gave them into her keeping. Moreover, he was so rash as to tell her, 
during the hours they lay together, every conceivable intimate detail 
about the character and person of his principal wife. The second Yu 
was naturally extremely gratified, and in her dreams already saw herself 
as the successor of Phoenix and the future mistress of the western 
palace. 

Two months of secret and undisturbed happiness had passed in this 
way when Prince Chen returned home one evening to the eastern palace 
from the Temple of the Iron Railings, the hundred days of mourning 
service there having come to an end. After his long absence he had a 
wish to see his two beautiful sisters-in-law that same evening. Having 
made sure that Cousin Chia Lien was not there, he set out for the Lane 
of the Flowering Branch accompanied only by two trusted farmhands. 

While he was chatting and drinking punch with Mother Yu and 
Sister-in-law Three in the lamp-lit living room of the west wing, Sister- 
in-law Two having withdrawn immediately after greeting him, Chia 
Lien arrived. When he heard that his princely cousin was there, he 
thought his own thoughts, and quietly went straight to his Nai nai, for 
he wished to leave his cousin undisturbed. Besides, he felt tired and 
planned to go to bed early. He -ettled down comfortably, ate his eve- 
ning meal, and drank to the point of exhilaration. The Nai nai drank 
.sturdily with him, and when he saw her sitting in front of him in her 
red undergarment with her hair loosened and a springlike flush on her 
cheeks, she seemed to him more beautiful than ever, and he embraced 
her and said to her flatteringly: "People will keep on talking in the 
highest terms of my principal wife, but when I compare you with that 
wicked witch, it seems to me that she is not even worthy to untie your 
shoes." 

"Ah, of what use is one's little bit of beauty, when all is said and 
done!" she replied with a sigh. 

"What do you mean by that? I do not understand you," he said. 

"Oh, I was thinking of my sister," she replied, suddenly bursting 
into tears. "We two have now been living as man and wife for the past 
two months. You know how devoted I am to you, and I know what you 
are to me. But what is to become of my sister? What is she to do here 

350 



with us? That troubles me. We should put our minds to securing her 
future too." 

"I understand perfectly well. I myself have already been thinking 
about that, so please do not worry!" he said with a reassuring smile. 
"You shall see that I am not a jealous, selfish man. Now, how would 
it be if your sister were to take Cousin Chen? Come, let us go straight 
over and discuss it with him quite openly. Luckily, they are all there 
together." 

So they went over to the living room in the west wing. Their unex- 
pected appearance embarrassed the belated visitor and Mother Yu 
very considerably, but Chia Lien was able tactfully to restore a relaxed 
atmosphere by a few friendly words. 

"After all, we are good friends and cousins and we do not nc^d to 
stand on ceremony with each other," he said blithely to Cousin Chen. 
"Heaven knows how much you have exerted yourself on my behalf, and 
I owe you an endless debt of gratitude. Under the circumstances it 
would be strange indeed if we were to be embarrassed before each other. 
You are always welcome here." 

And there and then, to show his devoted gratitude, he went on his 
knees and was about to kowtow, but Cousin Chen raised him to his 
feet at once. 

"I am most willingly at your service, dear Cousin. Please tell me 
what I can do for you!" he said. 

"Oh, I would only like to drink a glass of wine with you," replied 
Chia Lien. He motioned to Little Pao's wife to pour out the wine, then, 
turning to the third Yu, he continued with a smirk: "Well, how would 
you like to drink a goblet together with Cousin Chen? I on my part 
will raise my glass and drink to your mutual happiness!" 

At these words the third Yu became beside herself with rage, and 
with one leap sprang up on the d:'van. 

"Spare me your flowery rigmaroles! I know what all of you are like 
in this noble house!" she shouted at him with the utmost scorn, from 
her perch. "We are at your disposal as whores, nothing else ! First you 
get hold of my sister with your stinking money, and now it is to be 
my turn! But that's where you're wrong! . . . Very well, then, I am 
willing, and as long as we are treated decently, we shall keep quiet. But 
look out if you give us the slightest cause for complaint! I'll run to your 
first wife and make a row. Then we shall see if she really has all the 
brains and ability she is credited with! And now let's be merry and 
drink to our hearts' content!" 

She poured out a full glass for herself, drank it half empty, then 
poured the other half down Chia Lien's throat. The two cousins were 
speechless at her behavior. They were quite well accustomed, to be sure, 

351 



to the loose tone of low haunts, but to hear such unrestrained language 
from a maidenly mouth that was something quite new to them. The 
third Yu did not let their eVnbarrassment deter her, however, and con- 
tinued brazenly with her loose talk and her strumpet's airs. 

"Come! Don't be timid! Help me to amuse the gentlemen!" she 
pressed her sister, who had remained shyly in the background. "After 
all, we are all one family here together, and it's so nice being all to our- 
selves. Why shouldn't we have a jolly time? Hoop-la! Let's be merry!" 

Prince Chen cursed his thoughtlessness in starting it all. This wild 
girl was positively frightening. He tried to reach the door, but the third 
Yu would not let him escape. In order to show that she meant the word 
"merry" seriously, she took off her jewelry, loosened her hair, and 
without the least embarrassment stripped off her upper clothing. Then 
she sat down dressed only in her red undergarment. Even that she had 
half opened, so that only a thin pale green chemise covering the snow- 
white twin waves of her breast, green knickers, and red slippers were 
visible. No, she was certainly not stingy with her fresh charms charms 
which could not fail to bewilder and infatuate any man's heart. 

And she went even farther in the exhibition of her unrestrained 
temper, keeping the senses of her two male companions in a whirl. She 
was all movement; she did not remain seated long enough to complete 
one sentence, but kept jumping up, and sitting down, and changing her 
place continually, so much so that her earrings never stopped swaying 
like swings. Between times she poured herself out one glass of drink 
after another, while her eyes gleamed more and more seductively in the 
lamplight, like the humid glistening of autumn dew; the flush on her 
cheeks mounted up to her temples like red waves; the blue-black 
streaks of her tapered eyebrows, which were shaped and outlined like 
narrow willow leaves, played in a language more eloquent than words; 
.the fragrance which streamed from her vermilion lips was like the 
perfume of sandalwood. Her well-calculated game bewitched both her 
brother-in-law" and her cousin To an equal degree, repelling and attract- 
ing them at the same time. Silent and fascinated, they sat, and stared, 
and listened, transfixed with horror, to the ceaseless flow of audacious 
jests, and boisterous banter, and ironically malicious taunts, uttered at 
times in the coarsest jargon of the streets, which leaped from those 
beautiful, delicate, maidenly lips. At last the third Yu had had her full 
fling. She jumped up, pushed the visitors out the door, bolted it behind 
them, and lay down to sleep. 

From that time on Prince Chen never again ventured unasked into 
the proximity of that difficult sister-in-law. But it was all the oftener that 
she summoned, now himself, now his son, and again Chia Lien to her 
presence, though only, to be sure, when she felt she had a cause for 

352 



complaint, or wished to ask for something. If she had been most ex- 
acting already and eager for the latest fashions in clothing and personal 
adornment, her demands now knew no bounds. If she was given silver 
jewelry, she demanded gold; if they loaded her with pearls, she de- 
manded diamonds. If a frock did not please her she took a pair of 
scissors and slit it open and chopped it into bits, regardless of whether 
it was old or new, cheap cotton or costly satin. If a dish placed before 
her at a meal did not please her, she just tipped the whole table over 
and let all the plates and dishes of food roll over the floor. When this 
happened, brother-in-law, cousin, or nephew had to ta' e turns in com- 
ing to the rescue, and procuring immediate help at her imperious 
orders. But above all they had to pay, and pay again. And if they 
showed unwillingness to serve her she made the most violent scenes, 
heaped abuse upon them, and threatened to betray and expose them to 
the redoubtable Phoenix. In short, she knew how to exploit the situa- 
tion to the fullest advantage, and to make life as difficult as possible for 
those three male relatives of hers who had entangled themselves in a 
painful family secret. 

The second Yu felt, even more than the others, that this situation 
was untenable, and she pressed her clandestine husband to try to ar- 
range for an early marriage, which would at last rid the house of the 
tormentor and restore peace to the love nest in the Lane of the Flower- 
ing Branch. 

"I have already discussed the matter with Cousin Chen," replied 
Chia Lien, "but he finds it too difficult to part with your sister. I have 
put it to him that she is a succulent but indigestible piece of wild mut- 
ton for him; a beautiful but at the same time thorny rose, and that it is 
best he should give her up; but he could not bring himself to do that. 
So what's to be done?" 

"We will speak seriously to her tomorrow," suggested the second Yu. 
"Just you leave it to me! Even if she rants and rages, I will make her 
see reason in the end." 

The next day they gave the third Yu and her mother a formal in- 
vitation to midday dinner. 

"I can very well guess why you have invited me," said the shrewish 
younger sister today by chance in a softer mood to the elder, with 
tears in her eyes, thereby forestalling her. "I expect you will want to 
reason with me again, but you need not beat about the bush; I'm not a 
thickhead. I can see through you and I know what you are aiming at. 
You and Mother are comfortably settled here and well looked after, and 
now you want to have your peace and to pack me off somewhere else. 
From your point of view that is certainly right and reasonable, but for 
me marriage is a solemn decision. I cannot bind myself for life to the 

353 



first man who turns up. Very well, find me the right man whom I can 
love, and I will follow him as my husband. But spare me proposals such 
as Cousin Chen's. Whatever his money and position, I do not love him 
and I will not have him." 

"Who, then, is the right man for you? Speak up and teH us!" urged 
Chia Lien. "Then you may leave all the rest to us. Neither you nor your 
mother will have any expense or trouble!" 

"Ask my sister. She knows exactly whom I mean," declared the third 
Yu briefly and resolutely. 

"Oh, I can already guess who it is, and I must admit that you have 
good taste," cried Chia Lien, laughing outright. 

"Who is it? Who is it?" asked the second Yu, eagerly. 

"Why, who else can have got within range of her eyes except Cousin 
Pao Yu?" 

The third Yu smiled contemptuously. 

"Pah! As if you few cousins were the only men available for us sis- 
ters, even if there were a dozen of us! How absurd! Fortunately, there's 
more choice than that in the world for us." 

"Well, whom else would you consider?" she was asked eagerly from 
three sides at once. 

"Let my sister think hard and throw her mind back five years!" re- 
torted the third Yu. 

The conversation was interrupted by the appearance of Chia Lien's 
trusted servant, Little Hsing, who had come to call him to his father, 
Prince Shieh, on an urgent matter. So Chia Lien had to break off the 
important consultation for the time being and set out on horseback. He 
took as escort his servant Little Lung, and left Little Hsing at the dis- 
posal of his second wife until his return. 

The second Yu availed herself of the opportunity to question Little 
Hsing about life in the western palace. How old Madame Phoenix 
was; whether she was really as bad as she was made out to be; the age 
and character of the Ancestress and the various young girls in the Park 
of Delightful Vision; these and many other things she wanted to know 
exactly. Grinning obsequiously as he sat eating, and drinking tea, Little 
Hsing gave her the information she desired. The staff had more respect 
for Phoenix than for Chia Lien; all feared her sharp tongue and the 
poison of her crooked designs; her husband, on the contrary, was a 
good-natured fellow; and as for Little Ping, Phoenix's personal maid, 
she never dared to oppose her stern mistress openly, but behind her 
back she put right many wrongs and was generally beloved by the 
whole staff as a kindhearted protectress. He told, moreover, how Phoe- 
nix contrived to hoodwink the old Tai tai continually and keep her in 
good humor by always ascribing everything favorable to herself and 

354 



blaming everything unfavorable on others; denying her own mistakes 
and harrying others for theirs^ and fanning the flames against them; 
and how greedy she was for money, which she would like to heap up 
mountains high if she could, and that apart from the old Tai tai there 
was no one in the whole house now who could stand her. With sly calcu- 
lation Little Hsing came out with these and similar things, which he 
know would sound sweet in the ears of the future mistress. 

"My word, that's a nice way to let your tongue run about your mis- 
tress behind her back! What will you not say about me one day, for I 
am quite a lot worse than she is?" said the second Yu, laughing. 

Little Hsing promptly fell on his knees before her. 

"May I be struck by lightning if I ever carry on against you!" he 
protested. "With you, Nai nai, it is quite different, of course. We serv- 
ants would have counted ourselves lucky if our : naster had made a lady 
like you his first lady from the very beginning. We would not have had 
to put up with so many blows and scoldings the whole time, and to live 
in fear and trembling as we do. Whether we talk openly or behind your 
back, we cannot praise and bless your gentleness and kindness of heart 
highly enough. We compete eagerly for the honor of being brought out 
here with our master, for then we have the opportunity of waiting upon 
you ! " he flattered her. 

"Oh, you crafty knave! That's enough now, stand up! You need not 
be afraid. I was only joking just now. I am not so bad at all. But tell 
me, how do you think it would be if I simply went over one day and 
made the acquaintance of your severe mistress?" 

Little Hsing held up his hands in horror. 

"I warn you a thousand, ten thousand times! Do not do that! Take 
my advice, Nai nai, and beware of allowing her to set eyes on you! I 
warn you, she's a two-faced woman. She bewitches you with smiles and 
sweet words, and at the same time she's planning vile things and throw- 
ing her snares around your feet to trip you up. She carries sharp dag- 
gers and knives around with her in secret. Not even your sister, for all 
her able tongue, would be a match for her, let alone such a noble, fine, 
gentle-natured lady as you! No, she is no company for you!" 

"I did not have any intimate acquaintance in mind; I meant merely 
a formal courtesy visit." 

"Whether formal or friendly, I warn you, Nai nai! Do not think that 
I've been drinking and don't know what I'm saying! But believe me, 
she has only to see you, with your charms, which are greater than hers, 
and your friendly ways, which are more winning than hers, and she 
will see you as her deadly enemy. If other people have just an ordinary 
jugful of the vinegar of jealousy in them, she has a whole barrelful. My 
master has only to look once too often at one of her waiting maids, and 

355 



that is enough excuse for her to berate and punish the poor creature 
most cruelly in his presence." 

"My word, she seems to be a real devil. Now tell me something about 
the Widow Chu and the young girls in the Park of Delightful Vision." 

"Well, here goes! The Widow Chu is a nice, good soul, who concerns 
herself with nothing else but superintending the young ladies' studies 
and teaching them needlework. As for our four young daughters of 
the family, the eldest, Beginning of Spring, the Imperial wife, is good- 
ness and virtue itself. The second one, Miss Greeting of Spring, is a 
bit stupid and for this reason goes by the nickname of 'Blockhead.'" 
The third, Miss Taste of Spring, has the nickname 'Rose' on account of 
her rosy cheeks and also because, though she's very charming, she can 
also be terribly prickly. It's a pity that she is not the child of the good 
Tai tai Cheng but of the wicked secondary wife Chou. That's a real 
case of a phoenix chick being laid by mistake in a raven's nest. The 
fourth of the girls, Miss Grief of Spring, a younger blood sister of 
Prince Chen, is a very well-behaved, good child. Besides these, we have 
two foster daughters in the house, two very unusual young girls. The 
one, Miss Black Jade, is the child of the late Aunt Ling, the other, Miss 
Precious Clasp, is the child of our Aunt Hsueh. They are both equally 
beautiful and highly educated. When we servants catch sight of one 
of them in the distance, we hold our breath." 

"Oh, indeed? And why is that?" 

"For fear that the one, the delicate Miss Black Jade, might be blown 
over if we breathed too hard, and that the other, the delicious Miss 
Precious Clasp, might melt away if we breathed too hotly." 

Everyone in the room had to burst out laughing at this droll explana- 
tion. 

But our esteemed readers will want to know at last whom the third 
Yu really did want for a husband. Just be patient. You will learn this 
in the next chapter. 

CHAPTER 33 

A fiery maiden, ashamed of her unrequited passion, takes her life. 
The Cold Knight strides with a cold heart through the Gateway of the 

Great Void. 

.LITTLE PAO'S WIFE GAVE THE WITTY LITTLE HSING A SLAP AND SAID 
to him, laughing: "From the way you let all that, truth and invention, 
run off your loose tongue, anyone would think you had picked it up 
from young Master Pao Yu instead of from your master, Mr. Chia 
Lien." 

356 



"What does that young boy Pao Yu do with himself generally?" 
asked the third Yu. 

"Oh, it would be better to ask, what does he not do! Certainly 
nothing very brilliant," replied Little Hsing with a meaningful grin. 
"He is utterly degenerate and has no interest either in books or in 
arms. In the beginning his father, Mr. Cheng, used to take some trouble 
with his upbringing, but he has given that up long since. So the boy is 
left completely to his own devices. Outwardly he is a very nice-looking, 
bright lad, and does not look at all as if he is wanting in the top story, 
but when you have a good look at him you can see that he's a weak- 
witted fool. He seems so timid before strangers that he can hardly get 
out a sentence. He's a real little sissy of a mother's darling and never 
feels at ease unless he has a crowd of girls around him to fool about 
with and to pet and cuddle. The poor soppy fellow lacks all seriousness 
and firmness of character. With us servants, for instance, he's different 
every time, according to his mood. If he's in a good humor he jokes 
with us as if we were his equals and there was no such thing as differ- 
ence of class. If he's in a bad humor he retires into his shell and other 
human beings simply do not exist for him any more. At such times he 
doesn't even reprimand us if we behave improperly. Naturally, in these 
circumstances it's impossible to have any respect for him." 

"You servants are certainly a difficult lot to handle," said the third 
Yu, smiling. "When you finally have a really goodhearted and conscien- 
tious master or mistress you grumble and are discontented with them." 

"It's a pity about him, for he's a nice boy otherwise," sighed the 
second Yu, compassionately. 

"Oh, don't listen to all this servants' gossip!" continued the third 
Yu. "Why, we have met him once or twice ourselves, and have been 
able to form our own judgment of him. There is certainly something 
effeminate in his nature and behavior, but that is not surprising when 
a boy grows up only among women and girls. But to call him weak- 
minded and a fool no, that is quite ridiculous and unjust! Don't you 
remember when we met him just recently at the funeral services at the 
bier of the Prince Hermit? We girls were all standing together in a 
group. Then when the monks filed in and took up their position all 
round the coffin, Pao Yu came in and stood right in front of our group. 
That was remarked upon unfavorably by everyone. Had he no eyes 
in his head, and was it not most inconsiderate to stand so awkwardly 
right in our way, blocking the view from us, people said. But afterwards 
he told us the reason for his strange behavior. He knew perfectly well 
what was correct, and he had very good eyes in his head, so he said, 
but he had deliberately pushed himself in between us and the monks so 
that we should not be treated too directly to their unsavory odor. And 

357 



later, when you asked for a drink of tea and the serving woman began 
to fill up the bowl for you which he had just drunk out of, he stopped 
her and ordered her to rinse the bowl with water first. From these two 
little incidents, which I observed dispassionately, I could see that he is, 
in fact, a person of very fine feelings, and that in the presence of young 
girls he has only eyes and thoughts for us and forgets everything else 
on our account. Naturally, outsiders who do not know his nature can- 
not understand his behavior." 

"Hearing you talk that way, it seems to me that you and he are al- 
ready of one mind," said the elder Yu gaily. "How would it be if you 
and he were to become betrothed?" 

Because of the presence of the servant Little Hsing, the third Yu 
chose to remain silent, and sat with bent head, nibbling melon seeds. 
"Yes, he would suit the young lady quite well," interposed the pre- 
sumptuous Little Hsing, "but unfortunately he is already disposed of. 
It's an open secret, after all, that Miss Ling is his intended. Of course 
they're both very young yet, and besides, Miss Ling has been very 
sickly of late. But in two or three years the old Tai tai will no doubt 
open her mouth and settle the matter." 

While he was saying this the servant Little Lung came back from 
the Yungkuo palace. "Prince Shieh is sending his son Chia Lien on an 
important mission to Ping an Chow," he reported. "He will set out in 
three or four days and will be away for ,about"two weeks. He therefore 
asks to be excused for today, as he is occupied with urgent preparations 
for the journey, and he asks the Nai nai please to go ahead alone with 
the matter she knows of. As soon as he comes back he will take it up 
again." The two servants, Little Lung and Little Hsing, now withdrew. 
The second Yu bolted the hall door behind them and she, her mother, 
and her sister went early to bed, but before going to sleep she ques- 
tioned the younger sister persistently until she found out from her the 
name of the man whom she wanted for her bridegroom. 

When Chia Lien made a brief dash over early the next day and 
wanted to know the name of the third Yu's chosen man as quickly as 
possible, the second Yu replied with a laugh: "There's no hurry; the 
man in question is far away now, heaven knows where and for how 
long. My sister declares that even if he stays away a year, she will wait 
for him a year; if it is ten years until he returns, she will wait patiently 
the ten years, but that if he dies in the meantime she will have her hair 
cut off and go into a convent; but she will never marry any other man, 
whatever happens." 

"Who, then, is this fellow who has taken her heart so completely?" 
asked Chia Lien, impatiently. 

"Oh, that is a long story, but I will make it as short as I can. It be- 

358 



gan five years ago in Grandmother's house on her birthday. There was 
a theatrical performance in celebration of the day. The performers were 
not professional actors, but all sons of good families. Among them was 
one who played the part of the youthful heroine. He is said to have fled 
from the town a long while ago on account of some trouble or other, 
and to be travelling in distant parts. His name is Liu Hsiang Lien." 

"Oh, so that's the man! A fine, handsome fellow. Your sister has 
good taste and g'ood eyes; one must say that for her. But he's of a cold, 
proud nature. He has no time for ordinary people, but he gets on 
splendidly with Pao Yu. Last year he had a fight with our wild cousin 
Hsueh Pan, and to save our family from further awkward incidents he 
simply disappeared from the town immediately afterwards without leav- 
ing a trace. Perhaps one could find out something about his where- 
abouts through Pao Yu's servant, but he is certainly a drifting water 
plant. It may well be years before it occurs to him to show his face here 
again, and your sister may perhaps wait in vain. She would do much 
better to put him right out of her mind." 

"You seem not to know me yet, brother-in-law," interrupted the third 
Yu, suddenly coming in from an adjoining room. "I'm in the habit of 
saying what I mean. It is either Mr. Liu or no one, and that's that! 
From today on I will devote myself to prayer and fasting and looking 
after my mother, while I wait for him, even if I have to wait a hundred 
years. And if I do not mean this sincerely, may my fate be the fate of 
this clasp!" she continued solemnly. Drawing a jade clasp from her 
hair, she broke it in two, then disappeared into the adjacent room 
again. 

Chia Lien had to resign himself to her decision. He tried to find out 
something about the whereabouts of the Cold Knight through Pao 
Yu's personal servant, Ming Yen, but Ming Yen knew nothing; and his 
inquiries in the young man's former locality were equally fruitless. 

Shortly afterwards Chia Lien set out on his journey to the prefecture 
of Ping an Chow, after having spent two more nights secretly in the 
Lane of the Flowering Branch. 

He had been three days on the way when a trading caravan came 
towards him. As the two parties drew close he perceived to his aston- 
ishment that his cousin Hsueh Pan was one of the dozen men on horse- 
back escorting the caravan. And what astonished him still more \\as to 
see, riding peacefully by his side, his former enemy, the Cold Knight. 
After mutual greetings, both parties turned in to rest in a near-by inm 

"How comes it that I see you two former tilters and adversaries so 
peacefully united now?" asked Chia Lien. 

"My caravan was attacked and looted by a band of robbers in the 
neighborhood of Ping an Chow. Then just by chance and in the nick 

359 



of time along came Brother Liu to our rescue with his party. He put 
the robbers to flight, recovered the booty from them by force of arms, 
and saved the lives of myself and my people. As he scorned my thanks, 
I offered him blood brotherhood. And so we have become true con- 
federates and blood brothers forever and have been travelling part of 
the way together. But our ways must soon part again. I am going back 
to the capital, and he is going two hundred li farther south to visit an 
aunt of his. As soon as I have finished my business at home I intend to 
obtain a bride and a house for him and to persuade him to settle down 
permanently in the capital." 

"A bride? Oh, that is splendid! I can suggest a suitable party 
straight away," interposed Chia Lien eagerly. And he told of his secret 
marriage to the second Yu sister and of the younger sister who was still 
unwed. He refrained, however, from saying that the third Yu sister had 
herself chosen the Cold Knight as her husband, and he also prevailed 
upon his cousin not to breathe a word of the whole story when he got 
home. 

"You should have hit upon that sly plan of yours long ago ! It serves 
my strait-laced cousin Phoenix quite right!" said Hsueh Pan mali- 
ciously; and gave his ready approval to the new marriage plan too. But 
the Cold Knight declared: "That is all very well, but I have firmly re- 
solved to marry only a really outstanding beauty. I set less value upon 
money and lineage than upon this. I shall have to make sure on this 
point before I can agree to your suggestion." 

"Oh, you can be quite easy on that score," Chia Lien assured him 
zealously. "But what are words? You must see her for yourself, and 
then you will be convinced! It would be hard to find another girl who 
could compare with her for beauty." 

"Very well, I agree; and I shall be in the capital in about two months' 
time, but I want to visit my aunt first," declared the Cold Knight. 

"I accept your word, but you are a restless fellow, a drifting water 
plant. Would you not prefer to back up your word in a visible way with 
some kind of betrothal gift?" suggested Chia Lien with a smile. 

"Do not worry, brother-in-law; you may rely upon my word. I am 
not in funds just now, and besides I am travelling. Where would I get 
a suitable gift right away?" replied the Cold Knight. 

"Let me procure the gift!" suggested Hsueh Pan. 

"It need not be expensive gold and silver and jewelry straight away. 
Any little trifle which you are wearing will do just as well. Only it is 
best that it should be a personal souvenir of yourself, for otherwise she 
may possibly not believe me," insisted Chia Lien. 

"Very well, then. She shall have my twin-blade sword. It is an old 

360 



heirloom of my family which I have always treasured faithfully," said 
the Cold Knight. 

They drank a few more glasses together, then broke up and went 
their opposite ways. Chia Lien carried out his mission to the Prefect of 
Ping an Chow and was back again in the capital after two weeks. 

His first visit was to the Lane of the Flowering Branch. Apart from 
two surreptitious and completely fruitless visits from the princely 
brother-in-law, nothing of any consequence had happened during his 
absence. The three ladies Yu had remained quietly at home behind 
closed doors and passed the time busy with their needles. Chia Lien 
proudly reported his successful meeting with ttie Cold Knight and 
handed over to the third Yu her betrothal gift, the ''duck couple" sword 
with the twin blades. 

She examined her strange betrothal gift more closely. One single 
sheath studded with pearls and jewels concealed two completely identi- 
cal, coldly glistening, sharp-edged blades. The symbol yuan, signifying 
"little drake," was engraved on the one, and the symbol yang, signify- 
ing "little duck," on the other. 

The third Yu was overjoyed. She took the twin sword and carried it 
into her maiden chamber, where she hung it on the wall over her bed, 
for she wished to have it continually before her eyes so that the sight 
of it might strengthen and support her until the day when the beloved 
himself would cpme to lead her to his home. 

Chia Lien remained for two days with his Nai nai in the Lane of the 
Flowering Branch; only then did he go to the western palace to present 
his report to his father and to greet Phoenix. She had recovered mean- 
time from her long illness and was able to go out again, and to resume 
her accustomed activities in the household. Finally he visited Prince 
Chen and informed him of the successfully concluded betrothal of the 
third Yu. The Prince listened to him rather indifferently and unsym- 
pathetically. He was out of humor because of the failure of his own ef- 
forts to win the favor of his beautiful sister-in-law. So he confined him- 
self to putting his hand in his pocket and taking out a few dozen taels 
as his subscription towards the young lady's dowry, leaving all the rest 
of the arrangements to his cousin Chia Lien. 

In the eighth month the Cold Knight did in fact turn up once more 
in the capital. On his first day there he visited Aunt Hsueh and his new 
friend Hsueh Pan, who was in bed with a severe cold in the head. Aunt 
Hsueh no longer bore him any grudge for his past quarrel with her 
son, and now regarded him only as his friend and rescuer and loaded 
him with thanks and attentions. In order to pay off some part of their 
debt of gratitude, mother and son had undertaken to meet all the ex- 

361 



penses of the coming marriage out of their own pockets, an arrange- 
ment in which the Cold Knight gladly acquiesced. 

The next day he paid a visit of friendship to Pao Yu and wanted to 
hear more details about Chia Lien's secret marriage to the second Yu, 
but Pao Yu too knew only a little about it. from hearsay through Ming 
Yen. 

"And in any case I should prefer to keep as clear of the delicate mat- 
ter as possible," said Pao Yu, parrying his questions. "But tell me 
about yourself. I hear that you met Cousin Chia Lien on the way to 
Ping an Chow and had an important conversation with him. What was 
it about, by the way?" 

The Cold Knight told of his betrothal to the third Yu, which had been 
agreed upon on the journey. "Oh, you are to be congratulated!" Pao 
Yu assured him fervently. "She is really a ravishing beauty a worthy 
partner for you." 

"Oh, indeed? If she is as beautiful as all that I cannot understand 
why a poor fellow like me should fall to her lot. Besides, I am by no 
means on intimate terms with her brother-in-law," said the Cold Knight 
thoughtfully. The suspicion that a former light-of-love of Prince Chen's 
was being foisted upon him suddenly crept into his mind. "It really 
puzzles me that I was pressed into this engagement in the course of 
our brief chance meeting on the road. I cannot imagine a girl like that 
running after a man. I cannot help feeling suspicious about the whole 
thing, and now I am almost sorry that I handed over my sword as a 
pledge. I should have preferred to make some inquiries myself first." 

"Your doubts are certainly quite unfounded. First you insist upon 
getting an outstanding beauty, and now when you have got her you be- 
gin to falter. Take her, and do not hesitate any longer ! " 

"Are you so sure, then, that she is beautiful? For it seems to me that 
you do not appear to know much more than I do about her person and 
her family." 

"She is a stepsister of Princess Chen, whose maiden name was Yu. 
During the recent funeral solemnities in the eastern palace I met her 
and her mother and sister I do not know how many times, so I surely 
must know." 

The Cold Knight stamped his foot angrily. 

"Do not talk to me about your eastern palace!" he cried. "The only 
creatures there that are not disreputable are the two marble lions in 
front of the main gateway. No! The whole business seems most shady 
to me. I will not go through with it!" 

But he immediately repented of his offensive outburst when he 
noticed the embarrassed flush on his friend's cheeks. 

Bowing ceremoniously before him, he hastened to apologize. "I have 

362 



let my tongue run away with me, and I deserve death for my bad man- 
ners," he said. "But tell me at least something about her character." 

"Oh, please, why do you keep on asking me? Apparently you are bet- 
ter informed than I am. Besides, I myself may perhaps be disreputable 
and untrustworthy?" 

"Please do not be resentful. I forgot myself." 

"Very well. We shall say no more about it!" 

The Cold Knight perceived that he would get nothing more out of his 
offended friend, so he bowed once more briefly and formally and took 
his leave. He was determined to cancel the overhasty betrothal, which 
seemed to him more and more questionable. 

He set out straight away to report his decision to Chia Lien, who at 
this hour was with the second Yu in the Lane of the Flowering Branch. 
The unsuspecting Chia Lien received him in the most friendly and fa- 
miliar manner, and led him straight into the drawing room of the ladies 
of the house, where 'he introduced him to his future mother-in-law. He 
was not a little surprised at the stiff and formal manner in which 'his 
presumptive brother-in-law bowed to Mother Yu, and still more sur- 
prised when he heard him addressing her not as "mother-in-law" but as 
"old aunt," and referring to himself not as "son-in-law" but simply as 
"the later born one." But he was dumfounded when during tea the 
Cold Knight suddenly said without any warning: "Our recent agree- 
ment was an overhasty, chance arrangement. My aunt, whom I visited 
shortly afterwards, had already chosen my future bride and she wishes 
me to marry her in the fourth month. Respect for my aunt demands that 
I should fall in with her wishes. In, these circumstances I must re- 
luctantly renounce our agreement and request the return of my pledge. 
If it had been any kind of ordinary ornament, I would not insist upon 
its return; but that sword is precious and sacred to me as a heritage 
handed down by my fathers and ancestors. I must therefore reluctantly 
ask for its return." 

Chia Lien could hardly believe his ears when he heard him speaking 
in this way. 

"My brother is mistaken: an agreement is an agreement,!' he cried, 
aghast. "That is just why I insisted upon a betrothal gift so that there 
would be a visible pledge if you should regret your word. How would 
it be if every betrothed man could back out of his betrothal whenever 
he liked? No! What you ask is impossible!" 

"I am ready to make any satisfaction that my brother may stipulate, 
but I must have my sword back," insisted the Cold Knight with a smile. 

Chia Lien was about to make some reply, but the Cold Knight stood 
up and asked him to step outside in order to avoid continuing the dis- 
pute in the presence of Mother Yu. The two were just about to leave 

363 



the room when the door leading to the adjacent room suddenly opened 
and the third Yu walked in. She had been listening to the whole argu- 
ment from the next apartment. So she had been waiting and waiting 
for the beloved, only to hear now that he wished to have nothing to do 
with her! Perhaps he had heard an unfavorable report of her in the 
Yungkuo palace? Perhaps she had been described to him as a shame-- 
less hussy, unworthy to become his lawful wife? If she let him go now 
without further ado, there would probably be a fierce quarrel outside 
on her account between himself and Chia Lien. She did not want that. 
Suddenly resolved, she tore the double sword down from the wall, 
drew out the "female" blade, and, hiding it under her right arm, walked 
into the room, carrying the "male" blade in the sheath. 

"Your quarrel is unnecessary; I return my betrothal gift volun- 
tarily," she said in a voice choked with tears, handing the Cold Knight 
the sheath with the male blade. At the same time she drew out the hid- 
den female blade and, with a powerful thrust, pressed it into her deli- 
cate throat. The others sprang forward aghast and tried to stop her, but 
it was already too late. The petals of the broken peach blossom were 
already falling in red splashes over the ground; the crumbling nephrite 
h 1 * a would never rise again ! 

After the first shock the mother of the dead girl raised a loud lamen- 
tation and broke out in bitter curses and revilements of the Cold 
Knight. At the same time Chia Lien took hold of him and ordered his 
servants to bind him with ropes and drag him before the Court, but the 
second Yu dried her tears in haste and made him desist from his inten- 
tion. 

'"My sister did what she did of her own free will; the gentleman has 
exercised neither pressure nor force upon her," she said. "To bring the 
matter before the Court would not undo what is done, and would only 
bring discredit on our house. Let the gentleman go his way!" 

Chia Lien had to admit that she was right, and he let the Cold Knight 
go. But the latter remained standing where he was, as if stunned, wiping 
away the tears which ran slowly down his cheeks. 

"What a magnificent, heroic girl! Who would have thought such a 
thing could happen? I curse myself, bringer of woe!" he murmured to 
himself, lost in thought. And he remained there as if rooted to the spot 
until a coffin was brought and the hapless girl was laid in it. Then, with 
his hand on the coffin, he broke into loud lamentations, which con- 
tinued for some time. Having thus paid the dead girl her due tribute of 
reverence, he took his leave and walked slowly away. Sunk in thought 
and tortured with self-reproach, he walked on and on, heedless of either 
road or goal. 

Suddenly he heard a gentle sound like the rustling of silken garments 

364 



and the tinkling of golden bracelets and jade belt ornaments, and lo 
and behold, there stood the third Yu before him. In one hand she held 
his double sword, in the other a parchment scroll, and she said to him 
in a tone of lamentation: "In the vain folly of my love I waited for you 
for five years. Fool that I was, I did not know that your heart was as 
cold as your glance. I have had to pay for my foolish passion with my 
life. I am now in the service of the Fairy of Fearful Awakening, who 
reigns in the Realm of the Great Void. It is my task to register, with my 
comments, in the archives of unpaid love-debts, notable cases of un- 
happy love. I have come to bid you a last farewell, for to see each other 
again is denied us." 

With tears in her eyes, she bowed to him in salutation. He threw him- 
self upon her and tried to embrace her and hold her fast, but she pushed 
his hands gently away from her and eluded him. Thereupon he began 
to sob loudly, and the sound awoke him, -for he had only been dream- 
ing. When he raised his eyes he saw around him the ancient, crum- 
bling walls of a ruined temple. By his side sat a man attired in the dirty 
robe of a Taoist priest. He was lame in one foot, and was busily en- 
gaged catching fleas. 

"Who are you, Master, and where are we?" he asked the peculiar- 
looking stranger. 

"I do not know that myself, and in any case it does not matter; I 
only know that we have just been having a brief rest," came the strange 
reply. Suddenly illuminated with inward light, the Cold Knight shud- 
dered with icy horror, and, drawing his sword, he raised it to his head 
and cut off his hair. Then he followed the uncanny stranger, he knew 
not whither. 



CHAPTER 34 

Phoenix cross-examines the servant and so finds out the master's de- 
ceits. The unhappy Yu girl allows herself to be hired into a trap. 

1 HE THIRD Yu WAS COFFINED ON THE VERY DAY OF HER DEATH AND 
was buried very quietly outside the city walls. The news of her sudden 
death was brought to Aunt Hsueh's ears by a waiting maid. Aunt Hsueh 
was profoundly grieved and dismayed. She had been delighted to help 
arrange the wedding with the third Yu out of gratitude to the Cold 
Knight for having saved Hsueh Pan's life on the highroad. She had in- 
tended, moreover, to give him a complete house with furniture as a 
wedding present. 

"What do you think of this sad, puzzling occurrence?" she asked her 

366 



daughter Precious Clasp with a sigh. "The poor thing was engaged to 
the Cold Knight, your brother's sworn friend. And now, shortly before 
the marriage, she has taken her life! And her fiance has since disap- 
peared without leaving a trace!" 

"That confirms once more the truth of the old saying that human fate 
is as incalculable as the course of the wind and the form of the clouds. 
Between evening and morning our fate can suddenly change for good or 
for ill. It was her predetermined destiny," concluded Precious Clasp 
philosophically. "But what is the use of brooding and complaining? She 
is dead and it cannot be helped, and we cannot bring her back again. 
Get over it and turn your attention to our own lives and our own affairs ! 
Brother Hsueh Pan has already been back from the South some weeks 
and meantime has probably sold the goods he brought back. It is high 
time for him to give a feast for his associates, who spent months travel- 
ling with him, and shared his hardships and dangers, to celebrate the 
happy return home. You should speak to brother Hsueh Pan and urge 
him to comply at last with this duty, proper to his position." 

Mother Hsueh was about to reply when the subject of discussion him- 
self appeared. He looked quite distraught and cried excitedly to the 
two women: "Have you heard the sad news yet? Cousin Yu dead! 
Brother Liu disappeared!" 

"We have just been speaking about it. What a sad case!" sighed 
Aunt Hsueh. 

"They say he has gone off with a strange Taoist monk." 

"That makes the story all the more weird. How on earth could such a 
sensible young man as that Liu get such a crazy idea? As he is your 
friend and is all alone in the world, you must exert yourself for him and 
have him searched for. He will scarcely go far with that wretched beg- 
ging monk. Presumably he is hiding in some temple in the neighbor- 
hood." 

"My men and I have already searched for him everywhere inside and 
outside the town; but there was no trace of him anywhere." 

"Good, then you have already satisfied your obligations as a friend. 
But do not neglect your own affairs because of all this. You are bound 
in gratitude to prepare a worthy feast for your men, who travelled 
three thousand li and shared all troubles and dangers faithfully with 
you for four or five months. They well deserve it." 

Hsueh Pan agreed with her, and that same day he sent out invitations 
to a number of his business managers and travelling companions sum- 
moning them to a banquet. When the guests were assembled round the 
table, one of them called out during the banquet: "Two of our good 
companions are still missing from the table." 

"Who, then?" they were asked. 

367 



"Mr. Chia Lien and our host's sworn friend, the Cold Knight. Why 
have they not been invited?" 

Hsueh Pan's face darkened and he sighed deeply. 

"My cousin set out for Ping an Chow again a short time ago," he 
said, "and as for my friend Liu, the mere mention of his name gives 
me pain. It is a very strange story. He suddenly renounced the world 
and disappeared in the company of a stranger, a Taoist priest." And he 
related all he knew of the tragic outcome of the engagement of his 
friend, and of his sudden disappearance. 

"How strange!" they all said, and one of the business managers went 
on to tell: "A similar case was spoken of recently by the customers in 
the shop. The story was of a monk who with three or four sentences 
bewitched somebody and made him invisible. I do not know any more 
details; we were busy serving and had no time to pay attention to the 
idle gossip of customers." 

"Oh, what nonsense! This is sure to be quite a different kind of 
case," said another, skeptically. "A courageous, sensible, strong fellow, 
used to arms like Mr. Liu, would certainly never allow himself to be 
bewitched by a wandering monk. Presumably he only pretended to 
join him in order to get behind his magic tricks and hocus-pocus. He 
will undoubtedly get the upper hand of the swindler in the end." 

"That is probably what has happened!" agreed Hsueh Pan warmly. 
"Really, these mountebanks who bluff and dupe people with their tricks 
should be put down with an iron hand." 

"Have you not had a search made for your lost friend?" they asked 
him. 

"Yes, of course, I have had him searched for everywhere, both in- 
side and outside the city walls; but and you may laugh at this he 
cannot be traced anywhere," declared Hsueh Pan, becoming despond- 
.ent once more. The company around the table fell into an embarrassed 
silence; nothing could be heard but long and short sighs, no one could 
be merry any more, and after just a few more glasses of wine the party 
broke up in depressed mood. 

A few days afterwards Pearl went to visit Phoenix in a free hour to 
inquire after her health, but she did not stay long. She thought she per- 
ceived a certain uneasiness in the air, she noticed excited, whispering 
waiting maids and caught something about cross-examinations to which 
these porters or those servants had been subjected by Phoenix. There- 
fore she did not want to be in the way. She had hardly gone when 
Phoenix sent for Little Wang, the gatekeeper of the second gate. 

"Well, how was it? What have you heard?" she asked the waiting 
maid Little Ping before Little Wang arrived. 

368 



"The maid who secretly informed me has been eavesdropping yi&* 
now at the second gate on a conversation between Little Wang and twc 
of the master's servants. It was about a second Nai nai, who was much 
more beautiful and much kinder and more friendly than the old Nai 
nai, by which they meant you. . . ." 

Little Wang was announced. Phoenix asked 1 Little Ping to be silent 
and ordered that Little Wang should come in. He remained standing 
timidly on the threshold of the antechamber in a respectful attitude, his 
hands hanging down by his sides. 

"Come nearer! I wish to question you," ordered Phoenix, whereupon 
he advanced to the threshold of the inner chamber. 

"What do you know about the person with whom my husband associ- 
ates outside?" 

Little Wang bent one knee. 

"The slave performs his service at the second gateway day after day. 
How can he know what the master does outside?" 

"Naturally, you know about nothing!" 

Little Wang went down on both knees. 

"Very well, then, I was present by chance just now when Little 
Hsing and Little Hsi were gossiping at the second gate. I only told 
them to be quiet; I understood nothing of what they were talking about. 
You should question Little Hsing. He always accompanies the master 
when he goe's out." 

"Ah, you are just as good for nothing as the other pack!" cried 
Phoenix angrily. >'Ydu are all tangled and matted together like creep- 
ers. But do not imagine that you can, deceive me ! Run and bring Little 
Hsing here! I shall cross-examine him first, then you shall have another 
turn!" 

"Shih, shift!" stuttered Little Wang; and, having made a kowtow, he 
picked himself up quickly and ran out, returning very soon with Little 
Hsing. Little Hsing stood timidly hesitant on the outer threshold. 

"Come in!" Phoenix ordered him. "That's nice business you have 
been up to with your master! Now, out with the story!" 

The severity of her face and voice shattered the air of confidence 
which he had put on up to now. In his confusion he could think of 
nothing better to do than to fall upon his knees and press his forehead 
to the ground. 

"You are not implicated in the case yourself," continued Phoenix in 
a milder tone; "but why did you not notify me at once? I cannot help 
reproaching you. Now, please, out with the whole truth. Then I will 
spare you. But woe betide you if you only come out with empty eva- 
sions! Better make sure first that your brain-box is well screwed on!" 

369 



Shaking with fear, Little Hsing slid a little nearer, and made another 
kowtow. 

"The slave is not at all aware of what harm he is supposed to have 
done with the master," he said now, as calmly and boldly as possible. 

"Give him a couple of blows!" ordered Phoenix, blazing up in anger. 
Little Wang rushed up and was just about to carry out her order when 
she stopped him. 

"No, let him box his own ears! There will be time enough later on for 
other hands to belabor this tortoise." 

Little Hsing bent to the right and to the left, dealing' himself, with a 
swift sweeping movement, a good dozen heavy clouts on the ears, until 
his mistress called "Stop!" 

"Well, what do you know about this new Nai nai, whom your 
master is said to have picked up in the city?" 

Little Hsing pulled off his cap and beat his bare forehead a couple 
of times on the earthenware tiles of the floor so forcibly that the thuds 
resounded dully like mountain echoes. 

"I beg for mercy and I will certainly not lie again!" he declared. 

"Stand up and speak!" 

Little Hsing picked himself up and told what he knew how one day 
the house steward Yu Lu went out to the Temple of the Iron Railings 
to Prince Chen for money; how Mr. Chia Lien had accompanied him 
back to the eastern palace, and how he and Mr. Chia Yung had dis- 
cussed the two sisters-in-law of Prince Chen on the way and how Mr. 
Chia Lien had indulged in admiring praise of their superior qualities 
and virtues; how Mr. Chia Yung had offered his services to procure the 
second Yu girl as a secondary wife for him. He had got thus far with 
his confession when Phoenix, almost choking with rage, burst out: "So 
it's that one! And a relative into the bargain! Such miserable, faceless, 
tortoise behavior!" Little Hsing, alarmed, paused in his report, made 
a hasty kowtow, and then stared resignedly in front of him. 

"Get on! Why do you not talk?" Phoenix urged him. 

"But will the MM nai not hurt the slave if he speaks on?" asked 
Little Hsing, wanting to be sure first. 

"Nonsense! Go on!" 

And Little Hsing continued to relate how his master had entered joy- 
fully into his nephew's plan-. 

"How the plan was subsequently carried out is not known to me." 

"Of course, a servant cannot know everything that the master does 
or does not do. Go on!" 

"Then, later on Mr. Chia Yung procured and furnished a house for 
Mr. Chia Lien. . . ." 

"A house? Where, then?" he was again interrupted. 

370 



"Behind the eastern palace." 

"Aha! And we noticed nothing of all this! We must have been simply 
dead!" said Phoenix, turning a reproachful glance on the waiting maid 
Little Ping. 

"Then Prince Chen paid an indemnity to the family Chang; I do not 
know the exact amount," continued Little Hsing. 

"The family Chang? What, then, has that family got to do with the 
matter?" 

"You must know that the second MM nai . . ." 

He stopped short and gave himself a resounding box on the ear. How 
could he so forget himself as to mention a second Nai nai in the pres- 
ence of the Nai nai? This comical act of voluntary self-chastisement 
made Phoenix smile in spite of the seriousness of the situation, and 
the waiting maids and serving women to the right and to the left 
quickly put their hands over their mouths and had to laugh too. 

"The younger sister of Princess Chen," he corrected himself, "was 
originally betrothed to a certain Chang Hua of the family of Chang. 
The family has recently been in very poor circumstances and was there- 
fore willing to renounce the engagement on payment of an indemnity. 1 " 

"Did you hear that? See what revelations are coming to light!" ex- 
claimed Phoenix, shaking her head and turning to her attendants. "And 
yet this impudent fellow asserted in the beginning that he knew noth- 
ing!" 

"Mr. Chia Lien had the house newly painted and beautifully papered 
and furnished, and then he brought home the second Yu." 

"Who escorted her?" 

"Only Mr. Chia Yung and a few waiting maids and serving women." 

"Not Princess Chen?" 

"No, she only paid her a visit two days later and brought several 
presents with her." 

"So this is the alleged business which kept him for days on end in 
the eastern palace!" hissed Phoenix. "Is anyone else living with that 
person?" 

"Her mother and also, until a short time ago, the younger sister who 
cut her throat." 

"Why, actually, did she do that?" 

Little Hsing told of her unhappy love and her betrothal to the Cold 
Knight, which had been broken off. 

"He did well to free himself in time from that disreputable crowd!" 
said Phoenix derisively. "Anything else?" 

"I know nothing more; and every word I have reported is certainly 
true. The Nai nai can make inquiries, and if she can convict me of a lie, 
she may have me beaten to death if she likes!" 

371 



"I would have reason enough for that, you ape. Stand up!" 

Little Hsing kowtowed once more, stood up, and slunk out. He was 
already on the outer threshold when Phoenix called him back. 

"You seem in a mighty hurry to be off to your new Nai nai. You 
would like to divulge everything to her and earn a reward, wouldn't 
you? But you will do nothing of the sort! From today on you will not 
stir a step to go to that house but will remain permanently at my dis- 
posal. Is that understood?" 

"Shih" promised Little Hsing and withdrew again, to be called back 
once more. 

"Now, you are going to run off and repeat everything to your master, 
are you not?" 

"Your servant will not dare." 

"I would not advise you to, if you value your skin. Off with you! 
Clear out!" 

Now Little Wang was called in. Phoenix looked at him sharply for 
a moment, and then she said: "You are a good fellow, Little Wang. I 
am pleased with you. And in future always be sure to tell me when you 
Lear something outside! Can I rely on you? Very well, you may go." 

"Now, what do you think of that? A nice story, is it not?" she said, 
turning to Little Ping. Little Ping only smiled. Phoenix threw herself 
on the divan, took a sip of tea, and settled down to think. Suddenly she 
raised her brows. She had thought of a plan; she beckoned Little Ping. 

"We must act, and at once, before my husband is back from his 
travels," she said, and began to explain her plan to the waiting maid. 

During the next few days the residence of the absent Chia Lien be- 
came a hive of activity. A crowd of builders, carpenters, painters, join- 
ers, and other artisans arrived, and on the instructions of Phoenix they 
put in order the empty eastern wing, consisting of three rooms. The 
rooms were fitted with the same kind of wallpaper, carpets, furniture, 
covers, curtains, and other equipment as the rooms which Phoenix her- 
self occupied. On the day that the work was completed and the work- 
ers left the house it was the fourteenth of the ninth month Phoenix 
sent a message to the Ancestress that she intended to visit this and that 
temple to burn incense and pray on the following day. 

The next day she got into her carriage and, accompanied by the 
waiting maids Little Ping and Little Lung, as well as the wife of the 
porter Little Wang and the wife of the steward Chou Jui, went off, not 
to the temples named, but to the house of the second Yu in the Lane 
of the Flowering Branch. Little Hsing was taken along and had to show 
the way and announce the visitor. The second Yu was more than a 
little surprised when quite suddenly the wife of Little Pao came run- 

372 



ning in, terribly excited and trembling all over, and announced: "The 
great Nai nai is coming to visit!" 

She pulled herself together at once, however, ran to the door and 
accompanied her visitor courteously into the reception room, politely 
laid cushions for her in the place of honor, and had tea served to her. 
She excused herself on the plea of her youthfulness for all that had hap- 
pened. Everything, she said, had been dpne over her head and through 
her mother and Princess Chen, and she assured Madame Phoenix of 
how honored and happy she was at the visit, and how eager to hear the 
instructions of the "elder sister" and to serve her with dutiful respect. 

Phoenix was dressed completely in white and silver gray, to give the 
impression that she was mourning for the deceased third Yu, for whom 
she in fact cared less than nothing. To the kowtow of submission which 
the other performed before her she replied with a slight bow, and said: 

"Purely out of understandable tenderness and care for his health, 
and also to spare his parents annoyance and trouble, I always warned 
my husband against spending the night away from home 'between 
flowers and beneath willow trees.' Unfortunately, he has completely 
misunderstood my well-intended advice. Now, if it were a question of 
some dubious person, he would perhaps be right in concealing an at- 
tachment from me. But the fact that he has chosen a highly respectable 
woman such as you, dear sister, for his 'side-chamber' makes it a dif- 
ferent matter and quite in order. No one in his senses could blame him 
for it. Such things are, after all, customary in other families. I myself 
have always actually advised him to such a step; I have even offered 
him Little Ping. It is indeed my own wish that he should have a little 
boy and legitimate heir, who would one day be a support and comfort 
to myself in my old age. It was quite wrong of him to keep this matter 
secret from me through quite unfounded fear of my jealousy. I am 
neither narrow-minded nor jealous, and call heaven and earth to wit- 
ness that. I only heard of the matter just by chance a few days ago. My 
husband is away travelling at present, so I cannot speak to him myself. 
In order to show you meantime, dear sister, how greatly my husband 
has misjudged me, I have come to you today to invite you, earnestly 
and lovingly, to give up your isolation and come ov?r to me. Let us live 
together in future and unite in a sisterly way in caring for our hus- 
band's health and well-being; we owe this to the strict requirements of 
good form and propriety. This living separately is profitable neither 
to your reputation nor to mine, nor to that of our husband. How do I 
stand in the eyes of the servants who as it is detest me because I keep 
a somewhat strict eye on them? No, the present situation is untenable. 
So do me the favor, dear sister, of moving over to my place! As re- 
gards accommodation, and food, and clothing, and service, you will 

373 



have exactly the same as I have. You are such a sensible woman, you 
will be a valuable and inestimable support to me, and there will be an 
end once and for all to the servants' gossip. When our husband comes 
home and sees us peacefully united he will feel penitent and will realize 
that he has shamefully misjudged me. But if you do not wish to move 
over to me, then I am determined to move over to you, dear sister. And 
in this event I hope you will put in a good word for me with our hus- 
band, so that he will not tear us. apart again. I shall be most glad to do 
everything for you, to do your hair and prepare your foot bath, and 
perform every service which you may ask, if only I can be with you." 

She had spoken with growing emotion, which was meant to simulate 
sincere feeling, and she now began actually to sob and weep. Her emo- 
tion seemed so genuine that the second Yu was quite touched and her 
eyes too filled with tears. At a sign from her mistress the wife of the 
steward Chou Jui now had to take out of her cotton bag four pieces of 
beautiful silk cloth and a pair of gold bangles and of earrings set with 
pearls, and pass them to the second Yu as a token of friendship. The 
second Yu was now fully convinced that Phoenix must be a most kind- 
hearted woman and that everything which Little Hsing had recently 
told about her wicked character must be slander and servants' gossip. 
She gave up her previous reserve, became talkative, opened her heart 
wide, laid bare her thoughts, and trustfully accepted the invitation to 
move over to the western palace that very day. 

"But what will become of my household here?" she asked. 

"That is very simple. Your new dwelling is ready and furnished, so 
we only need to take over your clothing and linen and other personal 
belongings. All the furniture can be left here." 

The second Yu indicated the few trunks and objects which repre- 
sented her personal belongings, dressed herself ready to depart, and 
allowed Phoenix to take her by the hand and lead her to the carriage. 
On the journey in the carriage Phoenix said to her confidentially: "Over 
here our household rules are rather strict. So far the old Tai tai knows 
nothing of this story. If she now learns that 01 r husband has married 
secretly in the middle of the mourning period, she will be very angry 
and probably have him nearly beaten to death in punishment. There- 
fore, it is better for me not to present you to the old Tai tai straight 
away and not to take you into my own home yet, but to put you up in 
the park for the time being. You will be well looked after there and 
quite safe from prying eyes. In the meantime I will take further meas- 
ures and carefully prepare the old Tai tai" 

"Do exactly as you think best!" replied the second Yu submissively. 
As prearranged, the carriage entered the precincts of the western palace, 
not through the main entrance but unobtrusively through a back gate. 

374 



Soon after passing in Phoenix dismissed her attendants and smuggled 
the second Yu through yet another side gate into the Park of Delight- 
ful Vision and took her thence, unobserved, to Widow Chu's in the 
Rice Farm. She told the widow about the matter and asked her to keep 
the second Yu with her for a few days. At the same time she ordered 
the servants in the park, under the threat of severe punishment, to keep 
strict sil^ice and to watch the newcomer's every step, and under no cir- 
cumstances to allow her to leave the park. Furthermore, she deprived 
the second Yu of her former servants and gave her instead one of her 
own maids named Shan, to whom she gave her own special instructions. 

Three days later the second Yu wanted to send the waiting maid 
Shan to Phoenix to get some new hair oil. She met with unexpected 
resistance. 

"Indeed, you have strange ideas!" said the maid very cheekily. 
"Madame Phoenix has more important things in her head and cannot 
trouble about such trifles. She is on the go the whole day taking orders 
from the old Tai tai or Princess Shieh or the Tai tai Cheng; then she 
has to look after all the young ladies in the park, and the many guests 
and visitors, and finally, she is responsible for all the several hundred 
servants. Everyone turns to her; she is besieged on every side with 
questions and requests. At a moderate estimate she has tc settle every 
day one to two dozen big matters and thirty to forty smaller ones. 
Thousands go through her hands every day. How, then, can I trouble 
her with such trifles? You must get accustomed to having patience. 
Just remember that you did not marry into our house in an open, cor- 
rect manner; all the more reason, then, to be unobtrusive and quiet! Be 
thankful that she has treated you in such a friendly way up to the 
present, and do not lose her favor by your folly. Otherwise it may go 
badly with you!" 

There was nothing for the second Yu to do but to put up with the 
reprimand and be silent. Gradually the maid Shan began to show all 
kinds of negligence in her service she served the meals unpunctually, 
and what she did put on the table either at midday or in the evening 
usually consisted only of stale leavings. Two or three times the second 
Yu ventured a remark, but each time she was so intimidated by offended 
looks and indignant demeanor that she did not venture another word 
of complaint and put up with everything. 

Phoenix herself came over once a week. On these visits she was out- 
wardly all friendliness and kindness, and loving expressions such as 
"dear sister" and "good sister" simply flowed from her lips. 

"If you have any complaint to make about the service, let me know 
at once!" she said. And she put on an act of lecturing the staff of the 
Rice Farm, saying that she would see through it and take ruthless 

375 



measures if they failed in their duty and were negligent in their service 
behind her back. The kindhearted Yu was sorry for the servants who 
were thus rebuked, and whenever she thoughtlessly opened her mouth 
to complain about this or that, she shut it quickly again, wishing to 
spare her servants and not to make herself unpopular. And so every- 
thing remained just as it was after these visits of inspection. \ 

Meanwhile Phoenix was making secret inquiries about the past life 
of the second Yu through her confidant, the porter Little Wang, and so 
she learned of the latter's first engagement to young Chang Hua, who 
was now nineteen years of age and an utter wastrel and loafer. His 
parents had cast him off long ago on account of his dissolute way of 
life; consequently he himself knew nothing as yet about the cancellation 
of his engagement and the indemnity of twenty taels which Prince Chen 
had paid to his parents. 

Now Phoenix sent Little Wang secretly to Chang Hua and won him 
for her little game by a payment of twenty taels. He was to serve a writ 
accusing Chia Lien of having enticed away his betrothed and married 
her in the middle of a period of public and family mourning without 
the knowledge of his legal wife and of the family elder, after having 
obliged her by coercion and money to cancel her previous engagement 
to him, the plaintiff. Chang Hua had hesitated to make a direct accusa- 
tion against a member of the powerful Chia clan, whom he did not wish 
to quarrel with. It was therefore agreed that Little Wang should take 
the accusation upon himself as the alleged go-between and instigator. 
Fhoenix was less interested in actually carrying through the lawsuit 
than in exposing the "gang," namely, the chief, culprits of the story 
her cousin Prince Chen, his wife, and their son Chia Yung and 
frightening them by the imminent prospect of a public scandal. More- 
over, she intended to step in just at the right moment if the action 
should take an unfavorable turn. 

Chang Hua accordingly appeared one day before the public session 
of the Court, called attention to himself by the customary cry of "In- 
justice," and handed in his writ. In response to the writ the magistrate 
sent his greencoats next day to the Yungkuo palace to arrest the ac- 
cused porter Little Wang and hail him before the Court. Through re- 
spect, the greencoats did not enter the lordly mansion themselves, and 
were about to send a servant to the custodian of the inner gate politely 
requesting him to come out. But that was not at all necessary. Little 
Wang had reckoned on their coming and was already waiting cheerfully 
for them in the street in front of the gate. 

"No doubt, honored brothers, you have come for me. Very well, 
seize me and hold me fast!" he invited the greencoats peaceably and 

376 



good-humoredly, for he knew in advance that no harm would come to 
him. 

"But, good elder brother, how can we do it! We only want you to 
come with us without any fuss," they invited him just as politely, and 
escorted him to the Court. The magistrate showed him the indictment 
handed in yesterday. Little Wang read it, kowtowed, and declared: 
"That is quite correct. But I myself have nothing to do with it. Chang 
Hua has merely drawn me into it, because we have been on unfriendly 
terms for a long time past. You will have to arrest other people." 

The plaintiff Chang Hua likewise kowtowed and explained: "That is 
also correct; but I did not dare to take action against the employers, 
therefore, I named the servant." 

"Stupid fellow! We are standing here in an Imperial Court, before 
which we are all equal, whether master or servant; so now cite the 
names!" replied Little Wang. Chang Hua now named Chia Yung, the 
son of Prince Chen, as being really the guilty person. The magistrate 
therefore could not do otherwise than issue a summons against Chia 
Yung. 

The same evening Phoenix secretly sent the magistrate three hundred 
taels to his house with a message requesting him for this and that 
reason to proceed without consideration against her accused clan and 
to take a really high hand with them. She was very anxious so the 
message ran to give her people a proper scare. And the magistrate, as 
a good friend of her uncle, Marshal Wang Tzu Teng, felt obliged to 
comply with the request which she had backed with such a considerable 
gift. 

Prince Chen and his son were terribly shocked when news came that 
this obscure individual, Chang Hua, had dragged their honorable name 
bef6re the magistrate's Court. Prince Chen foamed at the mouth over 
the colossal impudence of the fellow. He had vainly believed that he 
had silenced the family Chang once for all with the indemnity of 
twenty taels. Now he would have to dig deep into his pockets again and 
quickly produce two hundred nice shining silver pieces to buy the 
magistrate's favor. Just as hf and his son were discussing the annoying 
affair and the counter-measures to be taken, who should appear quite 
unexpectedly but Cousin Phoenix. 

The father and son would, have given anything to escape this meet- 
ing, but it was too late. 

"That's a pretty business you two have been up to with my husband!" 
she said, bursting in on them. 

While she caught Chia Yung, by the hand, as he murmured an em- 
barrassed temg an, the Prince succeeded an squeezing past her and 
gaining the exit. 

377 



"An urgent business engagement!" he excused himself with a glib 
smile. "But my son will keep you company for the present and see that 
you get the best things from the kitchen." 

In a trice he was out the door and had mounted his horse and gone 
off. In the meantime Mother Yu had appeared from the next room. 
Seeing the visitor's angry face, she guessed there was trouble brewing. 

"You seem to be out of humor. May one ask . . .?" she began. In 
reply, Phoenix spat right into her face. . ^ 

"You are welcome to ask!" she hissed. "Am I to accept it quietly 
when you smuggle in your jilted daughter and secretly pawn her off on 
my husband? If you had just done it openly and honestly, and in the 
proper manner with three negotiators and six witnesses. But no, you 
did it on the sly, and, what is doubly incorrect, in a time of public and 
family mourning! And now we shall have the devil to pay! A man has 
appeared and has brought the matter publicly before the Court, just 
so that everyone will hear what an abominable, narrow-minded, jealous 
woman I am! People will point their finger at me and persuade my hus- 
band to divorce me! What have I done to you that you treat me so 
meanly? Is the old Tai tai perchance behind it all? Did she inspire the 
whole base plan, in order to get rid of me in this way? Well, it will all 
come to light in time. First you will come to the Court with me, and let 
each of us render an account to the judge, so that the truth may tri- 
umph. And then let us appear before the assembled clan at home and 
let us each justify herself. If the clan finds me guilty, very well then, 
they may write the letter of divorce for me and I will leave the house 
voluntarily." 

'She began to weep loudly, and to drag Mother Yu by the hand to the 
door as if she wanted to set out for the Court with her straight away. 
Utterly dismayed, Chia Yung got in front of her, threw himself at her 
feet, performed a kowtow, and begged for mercy. 

"May lightning strike you and split you in i?ve, you crazy creature," 
she roared at him. "Shame on you, you good-for-nothing, shameless 
intriguer and disturber of family peace, scorner of laws and rights and 
.of all order of heaven and of earth! The spirits of all your ancestors and 
the shades of your late wife will turn away from you in abhorrence 
and disgust. And a creature like you has the impudence to want to 
harangue me!" 

She raised her hand and dealt him blows right and left. Chia Yung 
bent down again quickly to make another kowtow. "Do not excite your- 
self, Aunt!" he begged. "For the sake of the one day in a thousand that 
I am good, please relent! Spare your nerves and your gentle hand! If 
I deserve blows on the ear, I can deal them myself." 

And he gave himself a few powerful slaps. Then he started to upbraid 

378 



himself: "May such a thing never happen to me again! To count up to 
four and skip the three! To follow the uncle and to overlook the 
esteemed aunt, that indeed is no manners! What, then, has the 
esteemed aunt done to you, that you should join with others in being 
so abominable and irresponsible towards her?" . 

The bystanders had difficulty in keeping from laughing aloud when 
they heard him abusing himself in this way. But Phoenix threw herself 
on Mother Yu's breast with a pathetic outcry, calling upon heaven and 
earth. 

"Come! Come with me to the Court! Otherwise the constable may 
come and fetch us by force!" she sobbed. "And afterwards let us go 
together to the old Tai tai and have the clan judge us. I shall bow to 
their judgment and leave the house at once if the verdict is against me. 
I have already fetched your daughter away and lodged her in the park 
for the time being. I have, as a matter of fact, furnished -a permanent 
home for her in my own house, where she will want for nothing and 
fare exactly as I do as regards clothing, food, and service. But up till 
now I have not dared to let her be seen by the old Tai tai, as I wished 
to spare the old lady annoyance and excitement. But the matter cannot 
be hushed up any longer. Now that it has become a public scandal the 
old Tai tai will have to hear the truth. It is terrible that she has to ex- 
perience such a disgrace in her old age! What has happened to the 
good name of our family? It is gone! And besides, there is all this un- 
necessary expense! I have secretly taken five hundred ounces from the 
funds and passed them to the magistrate in the hope that he will dismiss 
the case. It's a pity to lose that good money! And I do not even know 
yet if what I did is of any avail. The magistrate seems to have taken my 
gift badly, for he has held my messenger and put him in chains. Oh! 
Oh! What will the illustrious ancestors of our house in their Realm of 
Shades think of us . . .?" 

She again wept aloud and even hit her head against the wall as if 
she wanted to take her life. 

Mother Yu felt crushed and kneaded to noodle dough by .this out- 
break of despair. Her dress was wet with her tears. Now she in her turn 
stormed against Chia Yung. "Ill-behaved creature!" she cried. "You 
have made a fine mess of things, you and your father! And I had 
warned you beforehand . . .!" 

"Well, if you were against it, why did you not open your mouth and 
say a word to me?" interjected Phoenix. "Your mouth is not stopped 
with eggplant apples or constrained by a bit and curb. I certainly would 
not have let it come to this public lawsuit and scandal if I had been 
informed in good time. You could well refrain from reproaching others, 

379 



and reproach yourself instead, for your stupidity and your culpable 
silence!" 

Oh, how cleverly she knew how to twist things round, after having 
herself goaded Chang Hua into bringing an action! The various sec- 
ondary wives and serving women and waiting maids who were stand- 
ing about felt so full of pity for Mother Yu, seeing her so cruelly driven- 
into a corner, that all together they fell at the feet of the angry Phoenix, 
appealing to her great wisdom and understanding, and implored in 
chorus for peace and mercy, for she had now trampled on the poor old 
lady long enough. True, their entreaties had the effect of making Phoe- 
nix stop shouting and she put her tousled coiffure in order again; but 
she was very far from being pacified. She disdained the tea which was 
offered to her and threw it straight away on the floor. She was itching 
to call Prince Chen to account next. 

"Fetch your father here! I want to ask him a few questions person- 
ally," she ordered Chia Yung peremptorily. "I demand an explanation 
from him as to whether he considers it to be consistent with the Li the 
requirements of propriety and good custom for a nephew of the de- 
ceased to go off gaily and marry in the middle of the period of mourn- 
ing for the family elder. A little instruction can do him no harm and 
may deter him from giving bad example to you young people in the 
future." 

Chia Yung quickly threw himself on his knees, hit his forehead on 
the ground, and protested: "My parents have had nothing to do with 
the whole business. I alone am guilty. I was the sole instigator. The 
esteemed aunt may chastise the unworthy nephew as much as she 
wishes and he will bear it in silence! But let her please spare his par- 
ents! He could not survive it if she does not! He also trusts and im- 
plores that the honored aunt may manage to stop the action. The stupid 
unworthy nephew does not feel that he is equal to such a task and de- 
pends entirely on the wisdom of the honored aunt." He accompanied 
his humble speech with repeated kowtows. Phoenix was pacified to 
some extent. She raised him up, and then, sighing and wiping away her 
\ears, she turned to Mother Yu: "Qp not be angry with me! In my 
youth and inexperience I have let myself go somewhat, and offended 
you greatly, but the painful news had so surprised and dumfounded 
me! Forgive me! And now we .must act wisely and reasonably. First of 
all, this unpleasant action must be settled. You must have a word with 
Cousin Chen about it without fail." 

"Do not worry! The matter will be arranged by us to your satisfac- 
tion," said Mother Yu and Chia Yung as if with one voice. "The five 
hundred ounces which you have already spent will, naturally, be made 
good to you. On no account must you suffer any further monetary loss 

380 



in this matter. It would indeed be irresponsible for us to allow such a 
thing. But we have yet another request to make of you. May we count 
upon you to set the matter right as far as possible with the old Tai tai 
and not to put us in too unkindly a light with her?" 

"Ha, you are asking a bit too much of me!" replied Phoenix coolly. 
"First you do me a grievous wrong, and then you ask me to come for- 
ward and plead for you. Surely, rather a lot to ask! Now, I am of a very 
kindhearted nature, and, moreover, I am sincerely happy to have a sis- 
ter and companion coming to my house; I have not been able to sleep 
for many nights, so great has been my joyful anticipation. If only this 
obscure fellow, this confounded Chang Hua, had not come between us 
with his lawsuit! How stupid of Cousin Chen to run away like that! I 
wanted to discuss with him some means of getting rid of this mischie- 
vous litigant!" 

"Do not worry, we shall be able to cope with the fellow all right," 
Chia Yung assured her zealously. "That poor devil of a starving wretch 
will be glad to withdraw his accusation for a small indemnity. We will 
see to that. He will give us no more bother in the future, we can assure 
you ! " 

"That's all right, if only it works! As long as the money lasts he may 
perhaps keep his mouth shut, but as soon as he is without a penny 
again, he will res. TIC the quarrel. In the long run it is useless to waste 
money on him; we shall have no peace from him whatever we do," said 
Phoenix skeptically. 

"Well, one could give him the choice of either the money or the 
woman," said Chia Yung, with a smile. "If he positively insists on his 
claim and demands the woman, we shall just oblige him and hand over 
my second aunt. I would undertake to persuade my aunt to comply." 

"Under no circumstances!" interrupted Phoenix quickly, for she 
saw that her further plans were being jeopardized. "I do not wish under 
any circumstances to be separated from your aunt, my dear new sister. 
Would I not lose face if I were to deliver her up again after having 
once accepted her? No, no, she shall remain! And you may go on con- 
fidently trying to stop Chang Hua's mouth with money!" 

To her secret satisfaction Chia Yung agreed to this. 

"Very well, the most important thing is to get rid of this Chang Hua. 
And now let us go together and inform the old Tai tai!" she decided. 

"But what am I to tell her?" asked Mother Yu, quite alarmed. 

"Oh, if one is so helpless as that, one should not risk such daring 
undertakings," remarked Phoenix mockingly. "But since I am such a 
good-natured and sympathetic soul, I shall speak for you. Do not show 
yourself over there for the present! I shall present your daughter to the 
old Tai tai alone first. I shall tell her more or less that I intended in 

381 



any case to buy my husband two secondary wives, as I could scarcely 
count on having any male descendant or on living much longer myself, 
and that recently I had become convinced of the sterling qualities of 
your second daughter and had given her the preference as a relation. 
In consideration of her rather straitened circumstances and to free her 
from anxiety about her livelihood, I had decided to depart a little from 
strict custom and take her into my house even before the end of the 
hundred days' mourning; and that as soon as the mourning period is 
over the official wedding ceremony will take place. There now, that is 
what I shall say! I shall thus take any eventual blame on myself. Are 
you satisfied?" 

Mother Yu and Nephew Chia Yung enthusiastically praised her gen- 
erosity and wisdom and gave her to understand that the Princess would 
pay her a special visit of thanks. 

"That is all right; I do not want any thanks," said Phoenix coolly. 

"I shall certainly know for the future what to think of you, young 
man," she said sharply, pointing her finger at Chia Yung. 

"But, Aunt, this one little time you will surely forgive the wicked 
nephew!" begged Chia Yung, promptly falling on his knees again. 

She threw back her head as if she wanted to overlook him, and 
turned towards the door. 



CHAPTER 35 

Phoenix, with cunning and malice, plays the young rival off against the 
older one. Driven to desperation, the second Yu kills herself by swallow- 
ing gold. 

IMMEDIATELY AFTER HER TALK WITH MOTHER Yu, PHOENIX VISITED 
.the daughter Yu. First she frightened her with news of the sudden re- 
appearance of her former betrothed, Chang Hua, and then calmed her 
by telling of the counter-measures which were being taken, not failing 
to extol her own services, and to spin a long yarn about how unselfishly 
she had sacrificed and harried herself and with what discretion she had 
arranged this and that, and how she had done everything to protect 
the two families from disgrace and blame. The second Yu was profuse 
with her expressions of gratitude and trustfully let herself be taken over 
to the old Tai tai. Mother Yu, who had not expected to be permitted to 
come, joyfully joined the two others. But she had had to promise to 
keep modestly in the background and leave the talking to Phoenix. 

The old Tai tai was engaged in lively conversation with the young 
ladies from the Park of Delightful Vision when the three visitors ap- 
peared with their attendants. 

382 



"Whose child is this?" asked the Ancestress, pointing to the second 
Yu. "She seems to be a really pretty and pleasing person." 

"Does she please you? Do look at her closely!" replied Phoenix, 
smiling; and taking the other by the hand, she drew her forward. 

"This lady is our great Ancestress," she said, introducing her. 
"Quick, make a kowtow!" 

The second Yu threw herself on the ground and duly performed the 
great ceremonial kowtow of salutation. Then followed the introduction 
of the young ladies present. In the meantime the Ancestress had leisure 
to inspect the newcomer from head to foot. 

"What is your name and how old are you?" she asked the secon '. Yu, 
who had stepped aside a little and shyly bowed her head. 

"We have not got as far as that yet. You must first give your verdict. 
Is she prettier than I am?" interjected Phoenix, laughing. 

The Ancestress put on her spectacles and ordered Mandarin Duck 
and Amber to lead the stranger nearer, so that she might inspect her 
more thoroughly. Amidst the suppressed giggles of the others, the wait- 
ing maid Amber had to take the stranger's hands and hold them close 
under the eyes of the Ancestress. After a thorough inspection she took 
off her glasses again and declared with a roguish smile to Phoenix: 
"Hm. She is a fine, well-formed child. She almost seems to me prettier 
than you." 

Phoenix curtsied with a smile and delivered the long, carefully pre- 
pared speech the main points of which she had already told Mother Yu. 
The Ancestress was deeply touched by her noble-mindedness and will- 
ingly consented to the newcomer's taking up residence in the palace 
even before the expiration of the hundred days' mourning period. The 
official wedding ceremony would take place after the period of a year 
required by good form. 

Phoenix thanked her, striking her forehead on the ground, then 
stood up and asked for two serving women to escort the newcomer to 
Princess Shieh and the Tai tai Cheng and introduce her to them on be- 
half of the Ancestress. The Ancestress gave her permission and so the 
second Yu was installed, in accordance "with all the rules of good form, 
as an inmate of the western palace. And now she was allowed to move 
over from the park to Phoenix's residence and occupy the suite specially 
furnished for her in the west wing. It must be mentioned, moreover, 
that the good Lady Cheng welcomed and approved this change whole- 
heartedly; for now the position .was clarified and the good name of the 
beautiful but poor girl, so long left unmarried, would no longer be in 
danger. 

While Phoenix thus contrived to give the outward appearance of be- 
ing selfless and noble-minded, she secretly continued coolly and tena- 

383 



ciously her game of intrigue against her absent husband and his new 
wife. She again sent to Chang Hua and stimulated him by substantial 
gifts of money to continue the legal proceedings and insist upon getting 
back his bride. 

At the outset Chang Hua had only taken this action under pressure. 
Chia Yung, who had a meeting with him later on in the course of the 
negotiations, maintained that he had previously withdrawn from the 
engagement; besides, the second Yu was a near relation of the Chia 
family, and there was surely nothing against her finding a home and 
board with her own relatives. There was no question, he alleged, of her 
marrying into the clan. Chang Hua had been in debt to Prince Chen 
for a long time past and had only taken this action in order to force 
remission of his debt. The magistrate who had to judge the case was 
entangled and involved in friendly associations both with the Chias 
and with the Wangs, the relatives of Phoenix. He had received con- 
siderable gifts of money from both sides., from Prince Chen as well as 
from Phoenix. He therefore found himself in some embarrassment as 
to how he could act. Finally he gave his verdict against Chang Hua, 
reprimanded him as a slanderer and a quarreller, ordered that he 
should be given a few strokes, and drove him out of the Court. Now, 
just as he was leaving the Court a messenger from Phoenix came up to 
him, handed him a few silver pieces, and whispered to him that he 
must stand firm and fight on unflinchingly for his just cause; Phoenix 
would pay his debts and continue to stand by him. At the same time 
Phoenix sent word once more to the magistrate giving him this and 
that new instruction. 

The result was a second action and new proceedings. This time the 
magistrate sentenced the plaintiff on the one part'to^ay back the old 
debt to Prince Chen, and on the other part he awarded him his legal 
bride and gave old Chang authority to fetch his daughter-in-law from 
the house of Chia and take her into his own home. Highly gratified with 
the double triumph of having "found in Phoenix someone to pay his 
debts and at the same time being allowed to take possession of his 
daughter-in-law, old Chang set out for the western palace with the 
magisterial mandate in his pocket. 

Phoenix, hiding her satisfaction and feigning pained surprise, hur- 
ried to the Ancestress and reported the new turn of events. 

"Sister-in-law Chen is to blame for everything," she said, concluding 
her report. "In this matter she acted with an utter lack of discretion. 
She should have secured a valid document of relinquishment. How was 
I to guess that this Yu was already engaged to someone else? Naturally, 
the first bridegroom was justified in making a claim. Now we shall have 
the devil to pay!" 

384 



The Ancestress had Princess Chen brought before her and rebuked 
her angrily for her lack of wisdom and discretion. 

"But the people did have an indemnity from us in return for which 
they made out a written document of relinquishment!" insisted the 
Princess, much astonished. 

"Unfortunately, there is no mention of an indemnity and a deed of 
relinquishment in the legal protocol," interjected Phoenix quickly. 
"Moreover, old Chang declared in a legal statement that it had once 
been mentioned, without prejudice, that in the event of the death of her 
betrothed, the second Yu would marry into our family as a secondary 
wife. So there is nothing to be done about that. It is just lucky that my 
husband is away at present and that the marriage with Yu has not yet 
been formally celebrated. But the question is, how are we to get rid of 
old Chang? He is here. We cannot simply send the girl Yu away again 
just after we have accepted her ceremonially into the family. We would 
definitely lose face if we did that." 

"But neither would we wish to violate the properly acquired legal 
rights of other people; that would not be becoming of us either. It is 
best, after all, for us to give her up," said the Ancestress. 

"But my mother did pay old Chang an indemnity of twenty taels, in 
such a year, in such a month, and on such a day, and in return old 
Chang confirmed his relinquishment in writing," protested the second 
Yu. "My sister Chen is quite right. There is no question of a mistake. 
Old Chang has told lies to the Court and is only taking legal action in 
order to extort money !" 

"A disgraceful, troublesome lot!" said the Ancestress indignantly. 
"Phoenix, go and get 'the matter put right somehow!" 

Phoenix obeyed and first of all summoned Chia Yung for a confi- 
dential talk. Chia Yung then consulted with his father, Prince Chen. 
Prince Chen in his turn once more sent a secret message to Chang Hua, 
warning him not to go too far and challenge the princely anger. Other- 
wise he might one day die a miserable death and be left unburied. Let 
him be thankful for the money, and stop demanding the woman as well. 
Now was the time to vanish as quickly as possible; the Prince would 
give him money to get away. 

Chang Hua considered the matter this way and that, and discussed it 
with his parents. The Prince's offer did not seem bad at all, and cash 
was not to be despised. They agreed among them to demand a further 
indemnity of a hundred ounces, and early the next morning the parents 
Chang and their son disappeared from the capital and returned to their 
native village. 

Secretly full of malicious joy, Chia Yung told the Ancestress and 
Phoenix the news of their disappearance. The magistrate had recog- 

385 



nized that the allegations brought forward by Chang Hua had been 
entirely without foundation. Fearing punishment, the whole rascally 
gang had disappeared. The magistrate had stopped the proceedings, 
and so the affair was at an end. 

Phoenix received the news with very mixed feelings. On the one 
hand, she could not shut her eyes to the fact that if Chang Hua had 
taken Yu away with him, Chia Lien upon his return would probably do 
his best to get her back from him again, and she did not doubt but 
that Chang Hua would willingly deliver her up once more. Thus far, 
Chang Hua's disappearance did not change matters very much, and 
moreover it spared expenses. On the other hand, she had to fear that 
Chang Hua, being no longer within range of her influence, might gos- 
sip and expose her as the instigator of the whole intrigue. That would 
turn out unpleasantly for her and possibly even draw her into a law- 
suit. She now had to protect herself against such an eventuality. 

Having thought the matter over, she sent her confidant, the porter 
Little Wang, after the fugitives. His task was to render the troublesome 
Chang Hua harmless by hook or by crook. She left him free to do this 
either by means of legal accusation on account of alleged theft or some 
such offense committed on the road, or better still, to have him killed 
right away by hired assassins. Little Wang's conscience would not per- 
mit him to carry out such a dubious order; at the same time, however, 
he did not like to rebel openly against his mistress and put his position 
in jeopardy. He therefore pretended to obey her order, kept out of 
sight for some days, and upon his return dished up a fairy tale for 
Madame Phoenix. Chang Hua, on his journey home, had attracted the 
attention of higKwaymen by thoughtlessly boasting of all the cash in his 
possession; on the third day of his flight he had been robbed and mur- 
dered and his father had died of a heart attack brought on by shock, in 
the next inn at which they stopped. Their bodies had been duly ex- 
amined by a coroner, and they had been buried immediately, right on 
the spot. Phoenix received the news with some suspicion and threatened 
Little Wang that she would have his teeth knocked in if it should tran- 
spire afterwards that he had lied. But she left it at that; for she had no 
proof to the contrary, and no other confidant than Little Wang at her 
disposal. From now on her whole energy was directed, under the mask 
of friendliness, to making the life of the hated rival in the house as dif- 
ficult as possible. 

On his return from Ping an Chow, Chia Lien was greatly taken aback 
to find his house in the Lane of the Flowering Branch, which he visited 
immediately, shut up and empty. Only an old doorkeeper, who had re- 
mained as caretaker, was there. When he heard from the mouth of the 

386 



doorkeeper how and why the place was deserted, he got such a shock 
that his foot slipped from the stirrup. 

Then he went straight to his father, Prince Shieh, and gave him a 
report of his mission. Prince Shieh expressed his satisfaction and gave 
him as reward a hundred ounces of silver and a seventeen-year-old 
chambermaid named Chiu Tung. Chia Lien thanked him joyfully, strik- 
ing his forehead on the ground, and went on to pay his respects to the 
old Tai tai and the other relatives. 

Feeling somewhat guilty and embarrassed, he went to confront his 
wife Phoenix, but, contrary to expectation, Phoenix did not show the 
slightest trace of ill-humor. Smiling gaily, she came to meet him hand 
in hand with the second Yu and asked him casually about the journey, 
and the weather he had encountered, as if nothing had occurred be- 
tween them. Chia Lien could not suppress a certain joyful satisfaction 
when he mentioned that his father had just given him a present of a 
seventeen-year-old concubine. This was really a new stab in Phoenix's 
heart before the first wound was quite healed, but she controlled her- 
self as best she could, maintained a friendly appearance, and sent two 
serving women straight over to Prince Shieh's residence to bring back 
the new member of the household and introduce her properly to the 
assembled ladies. Chia Lien could not get over his astonishment at the 
unexpected .amiability of his normally so jealous principal wife. How 
could he know that she was merely acting a part, hiding quite different 
thoughts. 

At the next opportunity, when she was alone with the second Yu, 
she said to her, with ostensible concern: "Unfortunately, Sister, your 
reputation is not of the best. People are whispering about your doubt- 
ful past; you are said to have had an affair with your brother-in-law 
Chen, and that your former fiance scorned and jilted you on that ac- 
count even the old Tai tai and the other ladies repeat such things. I 
am deeply sorry for you. I have been trying to find out who started all 
this talk, but up to the present without success. I have wanted to speak 
to you about it for quite some time, but as I did not wish to do so be- 
fore the staff, I had to keep mute as a maggot. But the whole thing has 
so upset me that I have been quite ill and have not been able to enjoy 
a bite for days." 

These and similar rumors she had sneeringly spread herself, and 
soon there was a general whispering throughout the whole house. There 
was not one among the female staff, with the sole exception of good 
Little Ping, who did not whisper and murmur within earshot of poor 
Yu, and who had not taken part in the game of spiteful remarks and 
hidden allusions and innuendoes by which one names the lime tree and 
really means the acacia. 

387 



The seventeen-year-old concubine, Chiu Tung, had a much better 
time. No one dared to censure or criticize her, for she had not come in 
by a back door but as an open gift from the family Senior, Prince 
Shieh. Accordingly, she considered herself to be far above the second 
Yu. Not even Phoenix or Little Ping impressed her greatly, much less 
that doubtful person who had been jilted and had wormed herself into 
her present position by way of a dubious and clandestine former asso- 
ciation. Those were her actual words, and Phoenix heard them with 
satisfaction. She had found in her a suitable tool with which to work 
against the detested Yu. 

Phoenix avoided Yu as much as she could. She constantly feigned 
illness and had Yu's meals served to her separately, and the food she 
had set before her was stale, unappetizing stuff. Good Little Ping was 
the only one to feel for the girl who was being so badly treated, and 
now and then she got better food for her out of her own pocket money. 
Through respect for Little Ping, no one in the house dared to object to 
this or to tell Phoenix. Only Chiu Tung was inconsiderate enough to 
backbite Little Ping. 

"Your authority will go completely, Nai nai, if you continue to let 
your waiting maid do as she pleases," she said to Phoenix. "That ex- 
acting person, that Yu woman, leaves your good food untouched and 
secretly gets food from Little Ping in the park! What do you say to 
that?" 

Thereupon Phoenix rebuked her maid soundly. "In other places the 
cats get mice to eat, as is proper. But you actually feed my cat with 
chicken!" she scolded. Little Ping did not dare to reply, but to live in 
such a heartless world revolted her; she wished she were elsewhere, and 
began to hate Chiu Tung. 

Poor Yu also was greatly pitied by the young girls in the Park of 
Delightful Vision; but Phoenix was so feared and knew so well how 
to dissemble, that no one dared to speak. Only among themselves and 
secretly did they venture to bemoan and bewail the fate of the second 
Yu. And Chia Lien on his part also allowed himself to be deceived by 
the play-acting talent of his chief wife. When he was at home everything 
seemed smooth and in the best of order. Moreover, his interest in the 
second \ u had greatly abated since he had got the seventeen-year-old 
as a present. She was to him what dry wood is to a burning flame. Like 
glue and lacquer they clung together, and he did not stir from her side 
for whole days and nights together. Phoenix, of course, hated Chiu 
Tung no less than she hated the second Yu, but for the present the 
younger favorite was a valuable confederate and a weapon against the 
elder one. She wanted to sit up on a mountain height and look on as 
the two beasts tore one another to pieces below. Once the first one was 

388 



finished, she intended to rush in herself upon the survivor for the kill. 

"You are young and inexperienced and you do not know the danger 
you are in," she whispered to Chiu Tung. "She possesses his whole 
heart. Even I have to give way before her and submit to her. You will 
destroy yourself if you run into her so wildly." 

In this way she incited and goaded her, and roused the fiery little 
one to defiance and rebellion. 

"I would never dream of giving way before such a person!" re- 
torted Chiu Tung indignantly. "One can see by your dwindling au- 
thority, Nai nai, what your weak-kneed tolerance leads to. Leave it to 
me! I will deal with this hussy. She shall get to know me!" 

She had deliberately said this so loudly that the second Yu, who was 
in the next room, had to hear it. She was in despair at seeing herself 
surrounded by so much malice, wept tfie whole day long, and could not 
touch a bite of food, but the next day, when the Ancestress remarked 
her red and swollen eyelids and asked the reason, she was too timid to 
open her mouth. Instead, the cheeky Chiu Tung whispered to the An- 
cestress and the elder ladies that Yu only wanted to impress Chia Lien 
by her everlasting moaning and groaning and put him out of humor 
with his two other wives, whom she secretly wished dead. 

The Ancestress, too, was completely taken in and said disap- 
provingly : "There, one sees again what baseness can be hidden beneath 
a beautiful exterior! Phoenix means so well by her, and now she shows 
her gratitude by intriguing against her benefactress! What a low 
creature!" 

From that hour on, the favor which the second Yu had enjoyed up 
to now with the Ancestress dwindled away. And when the others saw 
that the Ancestress withdrew her affection, they gave up all considera- 
tion and trampled on the poor thing in such a way that all her desire 
to live vanished. Only good Little Ping remained true to her and 
secretly comforted her as often as she could. 

For some time past the second Yu had been pregnant. It was in- 
evitable that the ill-treatment which she had to put up with should have 
a harmful effect on her tender, lilylike body, which was so .much in need 
of care. She began to ail and grow thin and lose her appetite. By day 
she felt tired and worn out, by night disturbing dreams robbed her of 
sleep. 

Once her dead sister, the third Yu, appeared to her in her dreams. 
She held in her hand the bejewelled sword, engraved with the pair of 
ducks, and said to her: "Dear sister, all your life you have heen Jtoo 
weak and good-natured. Now you are paying for it. Do not let >ourself 
be deceived and fooled any longer by that false, jealous woman! Out- 
wardly she feigns kindness and nobility of mind, but within she is full 

389 



of malice and baseness, and she will not rest until she has harried you 
to death. If I were still alive I would not have let it come to this or per- 
mitted you to go and live with her. But, unfortunately, it is your un- 
happy destiny to have to suffer so much now. In your previous ex- 
istence you indulged in sensual pleasures and destroyed other people's 
marriages. Now you have to do penance for it. Listen to my advice and 
take this sword and kill your enemy, that I may bring her before the 
judgment seat of the Fairy of Fearful Awakening! Otherwise you will 
suffer death yourself in vain and not a living being will regret you." 

"Dear sister, my life is already ruined beyond all remedy; but as I 
have to do penance for former sins, I will submit to my fate and not 
add to my guilt," replied the second Yu, sorrowfully. 

The third "Yu sighed and disappeared. On the following day, when 
the second Yu was alone with Chia Lien she confided to him that she 
was pregnant, but that she felt ill and anxious about her own life and 
that of her'child. Chia Lien sent for the doctor at once. He really wanted 
Doctor Wang, who was known to be good, but the latter was ill and 
could not come. In his stead, on the instructions of Phoenix, the servant 
fetched along the quack doctor, Hu, the one who had previously pre- 
scribed that "wolf and tiger cure" for Bright Cloud. The remedy which 
the quack doctor prescribed for poor Yu had the immediate effect of 
causing an abortion instead of curing her, and the stillborn child which 
she brought forth with great pain and loss of blood was a boy. 

Chia Lien was beside himself. He sent for another doctor, and 
ordered his servants to seize the quack doctor Hu, and he wanted to 
take legal action against him. But Doctor Hu had got word in time and 
had already fled from the city. Chia Lien raged, and threatened to have 
the servant who had fetched the quack beaten to death. Phoenix, while 
secretly rejoicing, assumed the appearance of being if possible even 
more upset and indignant than her husband. 

"Oh, what a misfortune!" she lamented. "Now, when we were so 
near to seeing our hopes of a legitimate heir fulfilled, this bungler of 
a doctor must come along and destroy our hopes! It seems to be our 
fate to remain without a son." 

For the sake of effect she burnt incense and performed solemn prayers, 
imploring heaven and earth to strike her with illness, but to make 
the second Yu well again and to bless her body with new offspring. 
She vowed that until then she would fast and say daily prayers to 
Buddha. Of course everyone in. the house was touched and ceaselessly 
praised her noble-mindedness and unselfishness. Phoenix went still 
further. With her own hands she made invalid soup for her rival and 
had a fortuneteller brought at her own expense to foretell the patient's 
fate. The fortuneteller, who had been appropriately worked upon be- 
33Q 



forehand by Phoenix, wanted to know if there was a woman born under 
the sign of the cock who might be bringing misfortune on the patient. 
Now, in the whole house there was only one person who was born 
under the sign of the cock, and that was the seventeen-year-old con- 
cubine, Chiu Tung. 

Chiu Tung foamed at the mouth when Phoenix informed her of the 
soothsayer's verdict, at the same time advising her, in a friendly way, 
that if she valued her life and the peace of the house she should disap- 
pear for some time. 

"Ah, what do I care about the foolish talk of a half-starved buffoon 
like that soothsayer!" she cried, indignantly. "I am just as much of a 
human being as Yu is. She was in contact with all kinds of people 
formerly; therefore, why should it be just I who should be said to bring 
her ill luck? And anyhow, why is there so much fuss about* her child? 
Who knows where this everybody's darling got her bastard from? She 
may spin a yarn to our simple master, but she cannot hoodwink us! To 
have a child! What is wonderful about that, anyway? You wait just a 
bare year, and it comes of itself. Any woman can do that!" 

Just as she was raging away like this, Princess Shieh happened to 
arrive to visit. 

"I am to be scared away because a soothsayer asserts that 1 stand in 
the other one's way," she complained to her. "But I do not know where 
to go. Be so good as to stand by me, Tai tai!" 

Princess Shieh then took her under her protection and reprimanded 
Chia Lien in her presence. How could he dare to cast aside, for the 
sake of a mere adventuress, the girl whom his own father had given 
him? To do so amounted to an affront to his father. And she angrily 
turned her back on him. 

Chiu Tung now felt more on top than ever. Scarcely had the Princess 
left when she went out under the window of the neighboring pavilion 
and broke into loud abuse and execration of the second Yu, who was 
inside. The unhappy girl was completely crushed. That same night, 
while Chia Lien was enjoying himself with Chiu Tung, and Phoenix 
was asleep, she came to a sad decision after long brooding. Why should 
she continue this wretched, wrecked existence? She felt that she would 
never again be well and happy and that the beloved one was lost to 
her beyond recall. With the hope of a child shattered by the miscarriage, 
she had nothing more in the world to look forward to. Why, then, 
should she just drag on without a purpose? Death seemed to her to be 
the only decent way out of her misery. Merely to choose the kind of 
death was the one problem left. A violent kind of death such as hanging 
herself, or stabbing herself with a dagger, was repugnant to her. Then 
she remembered having often heard that one could kill oneself in a 

391 



quick, painless way by swallowing crude gold; and her decision was 
made. 

She rose with difficulty from her bed, opened her treasure trunk, 
and rummaged in it for a piece of loose gold suitable for her purpose. 
Just as the drum beat the fifth night watch outside, she gave herself a 
jerk and carried out her purpose. At first the deadly morsel would not 
go down her throat, but finally she swallowed it with a brave effort. Then 
she quickly put on a festive robe and her best jewelry, scrambled back 
onto her bed, and resignedly awaited her death. 

It was already late in the morning, and only after being reprimanded 
by good Little Ping, that the lazy waiting maids felt obliged to look in 
at the sick mistress in the eastern wing, from whom not a call nor an 
order had come the whole morning. When they opened the door of the 
bedroom they found a dead woman before them. They ran out again 
terrified and shouted at Little Ping to come. Little Ping felt her heart 
torn with pity at the sight of the jewel-bedecked corpse, and paid re- 
spect to it with a loud lamentation. And the waiting maids and serving 
maids, who through fear of Phoenix had helped so zealously by their 
rudeness and disobedience to make poor Yu disgusted with life, now 
suddenly remembered that the deceased had always been a goodhearted, 
kind mistress who gave no one cause to complain, and overcome with 
remorse and pity they joined in Little Ping's lamentation, as long as 
Phoenix was not present. 

Chia Lien was inconsolable, but Phoenix tried to outdo his grief, 
which was genuine, by her own hypocritical mourning. "Dear sister, 
why have you left me? Is that your gratitude for my love?" she 
lamented pathetically. 

In accordance with Chia Lien's wish, the body remained laid out on 
a bier for a whole week in the Pear Garden, where he faithfully kept 
the death watch over it and had the customary funeral rites celebrated 
for the soul of the departed. But at the instigation of Phoenix, burial in 
the family temple, which he had desired, was refused him by the An- 
cestress. After a simple funeral, at which only the nearest relatives 
participated and from which Phoenix absented herself on the plea of 
not being well, the second Yu was laid to rest in a modest little grave 
outside the city walls, beside that of her sister. 



392 



CHAPTER 36 

The bag with the springlike embroidery becomes a traitor in the hands 
of a simple girl. The girls in the Park of Delightful Vision fall into dis- 
credit and have to suffer the torture of a house search. 

r OR MONTHS PAST PHOENIX HAD BEEN SUFFERING FROM AN OBSTINATE 

female ailment which frequently confined her to her room and her sick- 
bed. Without her constant supervision, discipline in the western palace 
had gradually become lax, and even in the Park of Delightful Vision 
irregularities had crept in, which were little in keeping with the strict 
order which should rule in this carefully sheltered domain of virtuous 
young ladies of the house. Recently Mandarin Duck, taking an evening 
walk through the park, had caught Greeting of Spring's chess maid on 
a secret rendezvous in the bushes with a young manservant, who had 
climbed in over the wall. It was an unheard-of happening, which would 
have meant a terrible flogging for both parties if it had become known. 
True, Mandarin Duck had very considerately kept silent about it, and of 
course the fellow had made off at once. Nevertheless, the culprit was to 
be detected later. 

Late oHe evening, just as Pao Yu had gone to bed, the waiting maid 
Magpie, from the apartments of Aunt Chao, the secondary wife of Mr. 
Cheng, appeared in the Begonia Courtyard and, despite the late hour, 
asked to speak to Pao Yu. Her mistress had just been discussing some- 
thing in a whisper with his father, and she had caught Pao Yu's name, 
so she wanted to give him advance warning for a talk with his father 
tomorrow. That was the only important thing she had to say. It was 
very little, to be sure, but it was enough to frighten Pao Yu very con- 
siderably. 

He said to himself that it did not bode any good when the secondary 
wife, who was so ill-disposed towards him, made him the subject of a 
secret conversation with his father. Chia Cheng had recently returned 
from the provinces and at the time was enjoying a holiday which the 
Imperial government had granted him. Up to the present he had been 
spending this welcome leisure peacefully and meditatively at home, 
resting from the fatigue-- of service. Contrary to his usual habit, he had 
left Pao Yu alone this tine and spared him the usual severe cross-ex- 
amination about his studies and progress. Now Pao Yu was afraid that 
the secondary wife Chao might have suggested that a new examination 
of his offspring's work was overdue. Perhaps the dreaded examination 
might take place the very next day. And he felt completely unprepared ! 
With one jump he leaped out of bed. dressed himself quickly, and took 
up the long-neglected classics. He was going to spend the whole night 

393 



quickly preparing himself, in so far as he could, and brushing up his 
incomplete knowledge. 

Of course the night's rest was also at an end for the waiting maids, 
who watched him poring over his books by the light of a candle and 
heard him groaning and moaning as he strenuously racked his brains. 

"Such a beast ! To surprise us in the middle of the night with her false 
alarms! A few good pricks of a needle would be the right thing for 
herself and her old mistress!" grumbled Bright Cloud angrily. Mean- 
time the waiting maid Musk had poured out fresh tea and put a bowl 
of it in front of her worried master to refresh him. She was only lightly 
clothed in a short, thin petticoat. 

"Will you not put on something warmer? The night is cool and you 
will catch cold," he said anxiously, looking up from his books. 

"Oh, do not let us distract you from your work! You should only 
think of those now!" she warned him, smilingly pointing to his books. 

At that moment two younger maids ran in frightened and shrieking. 
A man had got into the park over the wall, they reported breathlessly. 

"It's terrible! Where has he run to? The park must be searched with 
lanterns for him!" they all said, chattering together excitedly. But the 
clever and compassionate Bright Cloud saw at once that here was a 
chance for her poor little master to escape the morning examination. 

"This hard night work will not really help you very much," she 
whispered to Pao Yu. "Pretend you have become ill through fright, 
and just stay in bed in the morning! Then you will get over the 
trouble." 

Pao Yu joyfully snatched at the suggestion, shut the detested books, 
arid lay down quietly to sleep. But first of all he gave instructions for 
all the women and the male porters of the gate watch to search every 
corner of the park with lanterns for the intruder. The search was with- 
out result. Presumably the young girls had imagined things in their 
sleep and allowed themselves to be frightened by the wind rustling in 
the branches of the trees, the searchers said. 

"Nonsense! The girls' report is probably quite correct; you have not 
searched well," Bright Cloud declared firmly to the servants of the 
gate watch. "The little master and we others have also heard the sus- 
picious noise. Surely we cannot all have been deceived. The little mas- 
ter is ill from excitement; he has a fever and is sweating all over his 
body. I'm going to his mother to fetch pills to get down the fever. 
Would it be necessary for me to do that if the story was as harmless as 
you allege?" 

Whereupon the gate watchers, mystified, renewed their search. Mean- 
time Bright Cloud hurried over to the Tai tai Cheng and saw to it that 
the news of the nocturnal incident and of Pao Yu's illness was spread 

394 



everywhere throughout the palace. The frightened Madame Cheng 
brought the matter before the old Tai tai the next morning. The old 
Tai tai was beside herself and strongly criticized the carelessness of 
the staff in the park. "The worst of it is that our own people cannot be 
trusted. Perhaps they are hushing up the matter because the criminal 
is to be found in their own midst," she said. 

While the older ladies present, Princess Shieh and Princess Chen, 
Madame Cheng, Phoenix, and the Widow Chu, maintained an embar- 
rassed silence, Taste of Spring came forward and declared: "Since 
Cousin Phoenix has been ill and unable to attend to the park so much, 
the discipline among the servants has become more and more lax. 
Formerly the servants used to sneak away from their duties only for 
an occasional hour, for a little game of cards in private, three or four 
of them together. Recently the gambling has been going on quite openly 
and on a large scale, with a club committee and all the rest of it, and 
stakes of thirty to fifty thousand-piece strings of money. A short time 
ago there was actually a great fight." 

"But that is an outrageous state of affairs! Why have you not re- 
ported it before?" asked the Ancestress indignantly. 

"Mother always had so many other things to think about, and re- 
cently her health has been failing. I wanted to spare her annoyance; 
that is why I kept silent," said Taste of Spring. 

"You take the matter far too lightly," said the Ancestress reproach- 
fully. "If it stopped at a little game or a harmless dispute! But this 
gambling for money night after night leads in its turn to drinking and 
intemperance; wine and food are smuggled in by crooked means; then 
doors and gates are opened secretly; and the open doors and gates en- 
tice in thieves and vagabonds; and it goes on. You must bear in mind 
that among such a numerous staff there are bound to be many bad ele- 
ments, and these, when encouraged by opportunity, give free scope to 
their wicked instincts and infect the others. And to think that such 
things are going on in the immediate neighborhood of you virtuous, 
well-protected young girls ! The harm which you yourselves could come 
to in such corrupt surroundings is inconceivable!" 

Tn-4e of Spring returned silently to her place. But the energetic 
Phoenix forthwith summoned the four wives of the stewards who were 
directly responsible to her for the temale staff, and reprimanded them 
severely in the presence of the Ancestress. The Ancestress then sent 
them into the park to find out the culprits who had been participating 
in the secret gambling and to bring them before her; and she offered 
a cash reward for each person informed upon and threatened punish- 
ment by flogging for any attempt at concealment. 

The result of the investigation was that three chief gambling man- 

395 



ageresses, eight gambling submanageresses, and fwenty other partici- 
pants were indicted and brought before the Ancestress. The Ancestress 
made them kneel down in the courtyard and subjected them to a thor- 
ough cross-examination. Dice, counters, and other gambling equip- 
ment were collected, stacked up in heaps, and burned. The gambling 
funds were confiscated and divided among the other servants. The three- 
principal culprits received forty strokes twice over and were dismissed 
from service. They were never to be allowed to enter the palace again. 
The other persons implicated received twenty stripes and were pun- 
ished besides by deduction of three months' wages, and reduced to the 
lowest grade of service, that of lavatory attendants. Among the three 
chief culprits was Greeting of Spring's nurse. Precious Clasp and Black 
Ja'de and the other young girls appealed in vain for a pardon for the 
nurse, to save their cousin's face; but the^ Ancestress remained unre- 
lenting and, despite their intercession, chased her granddaughter's 
nurse out of the house. 

While the Ancestress, exhausted from the recent excitements, was 
taking her midday rest, Princess Shieh set out on a tour of inspection 
of the park. She was just about to enter the park gate when the maid 
Numskull, chuckling gleefully to herself and swinging a green and red 
embroidered bag in her hand, ran into her path. 

The little fifteen-year-old had been in the household only a short time 
and served the Ancestress doing rough work and running errands. The 
Ancestress had taken a fancy to the hefty, uncouth creature, with the 
broad face and the big strong feet, whose simplicity was a source of 
constant amusement; it was she who had given her the name of Num- 
skull. She treated the young girl with special indulgence, and even al- 
lowed hef to play in the park now and then in her spare time. It was 
on one of these frolics that she had just now picked up a brightly em- 
broidered perfume bag, among some isolated rocks, off the roadway. 
The embroidery was not of the usual patterns taken from the world of 
flowers and birds, but showed on the front a couple in close embrace 
and on the back a series of written characters. Our Numskull had no 
inkling of the vernal significance of the picture. She innocently thought 
that the two naked figures were either two demons fighting or a mar- 
ried couple brawling. Beaming with joy, she was about to take her find 
to the Ancestress when she ran into Princess Shieh on the way. 

"Oh, what beautiful thing has our Numskull picked up, that she's so 
pleased about? Let me have a look," asked the Princess. 

"Yes, it's somethinj wonderfully beautiful! Here, look at it yourself, 
Tai tai!" replied Numskull, as she held up the bag to the Princess. A 
hurried glance sufficed to make the Princess recoil in horror. 

"Where did you pick it up?" she inquired excitedly. 

396 



"I found it between the rocks when I was catching grasshoppers." 

"It is something very wicked. You really deserve a sound thrashing 
for having touched it; but because you are our Numskull and don't 
know what it is all about, you shall be forgiven this time. In any case, 
keep your mouth shut and do not speak to anyone about what you have 
found. Do you understand?" 

Numskull turned pale with fright, quickly made a kowtow of apology, 
and slipped away feeling thoroughly perplexed. The Princess hid the 
bag in the pocket of her sleeve and, shaking her head, set off for the 
pavilion of her stepdaughter, Greeting of Spring. 

"That is a nice turn your nurse has played you ! And to think that a 
big sensible girl like you could allow such a thing to happen and not 
open her mouth!" she said reproachfully to Greeting of Spring. "And 
that such a thing should happen to my daughter, of all people!" 

Greeting of Spring sulkily bent her head for a moment and started 
lacing up her belt. 

"I took her to task twice, but it was no use. What more could I do? 
After all, she as my nurse has more right to give me a talking to than 
I have t? give her one," replied Greeting of Spring, ill-humoredly. She 
could not get over the hard sentence which her nurse had received. 

"Nonsense! You are her mistress, and it was not only your right but 
also your duty to keep an eye on her, if she was not behaving properly. 
And if she did not obey you, you should have informed me. And what 
do these goings-on lead to? This person has probably been hiring out 
your jewelry and clothing to pay her gambling debts. But mind you: 
If you have been silly enough to grant her favors of this kind, you can- 
not count on any more pocket money from me. So, just look out where 
you are to get money from for the coming Mid-Autumn Festival!" 

When Greeting of Spring remained defiantly silent, the Princess con- 
tinued, appealing to her sense of honor: "Your own mother, the concu- 
bine Chou, is such a splendid woman ! She is ten times better than the 
mother of your cousin Taste of Spring, the concubine Chao. You should 
make an effort to emulate your mother and also to be superior to your 
cousin. Unfortunately, you are not yet half as good as she is. Well, it 
is all the same to me. I have neither sons nor daughters of my own, and 
therefore I am fortunately not in danger of being shamed by my chil- 
dren. But . . ." 

She was interrupted in her talk by a waiting maid who announced 
that the old Tai tai had finished her midday rest, whereupon the Prin- 
cess hurriedly cut short her visit and took her leave in order to go back 
and keep the Ancestress company again. 

"What about that jewelry of yours which was lost the gold-braided 
phoenix clasp with the pearl insets?" asked the waiting maid Orange 

397 



as soon as the Princess had left. "When I discovered the loss I at once 
suspected that your nurse might have taken the precious article and 
pawned it to pay her gambling debts. You thought at the time that the 
chess maid had put it away, but when I asked her she said she had last 
put it in the jewel case on the bookshelf, to have it ready for you for 
the fifteenth of the eighth month, the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival. 
But it has disappeared from the case. You ought to send for your nurse 
and ask her about it." 

"Ah, what for!" replied Greeting of Spring indifferently. "Of course 
she has taken it. I myself gave her permission because she was in some 
difficulty at the time. I made her promise that she would return it soon 
and put it back in the box, but evidently she forgot all about it. Now 
that she has so many other troubles, I don't want to worry her with this 
matter." 

"She remembers it well enough; she's just counting on your good 
nature and on your forgetfulness. Should we not inform Madame Phoe- 
nix and demand back your property through her? Or, if you do not 
want to make a fuss about it, perhaps we could induce your nurse to 
give it back for a few strings of money. What do you think?" 

"Let it be! Why all this fuss? I do not miss the piece at all." 

"How can one go to such lengths of good nature? You simply invite 
people to cheat you when you behave like that!" said Orange; and she 
thought, as she shook her head, that her mistress well deserved the 
nickname of "Blockhead" which she bore. The best thing is for me to 
try to get justice for her, she thought to herself, turning to go out the 
door. 

Meantime a daughter-in-law of the dismissed nurse had arrived out- 
side. She was the wife of the servant Yu Kwei, and had come to put in 
a good word with Greeting of Spring for her mother-in-law. While she 
was outside she had happened to hear the discussion between Greeting 
of Spring and Orange regarding the lost piece of jewelry. When she 
heard Orange's decision to go to Madame Phoenix and report the mat- 
ter, she felt impelled to intervene, and she walked in with a smile. First 
of all she turned to Orange and asked her to refrain from going to 
Madame Phoenix, and thus avoid a new scandal. Naturally, it was a 
matter of honor for her family to redeem and return promptly the 
young lady's jewelry which her mother-in-law had borrowed and 
pawned on account of a temporary monetary embarrassment. Then she 
presented her further petition to Greeting of Spring, asking her to take 
up the cause of her old nurse and intercede for her with the Ancestress. 

"It's completely useless! My cousins and I have already begged in 
vain for mercy for her," Greeting of Spring informed her curtly. 

"Surely, Sister-in-law, you are not making the return of the jewelry 

398 



dependent upon my young lady's interceding for your mother-in-law? 
One matter has nothing to do with the other," said Orange sharply. 
"Kindly bring back the jewelry first, and then we will discuss matters 
further!" 

"None of your impudence, Miss!" replied the other, annoyed at the 
double rebuff: "In other places people still have compassion for their 
old nurses. But here they are stingy, and if the account does not tally 
to the dot there is a hue and cry, and tales are told. Not even your own 
relative, Miss Wreath of Clouds, fared any better. All the time the poor 
young lady lived here she had to scrape a tael every month from her 
miserable bit of pocket money and hand it out to her mother. Was that 
noble or generous? No wonder that the poor young lady was always 
short of everything. And who was it who always helped her out? My 
mother-in-law. Up to thirty taels at the very least she paid out of her 
own pocket in this way up to today. And who repays her the loss, eh?" 

Orange was going to reply angrily, but Greeting of Spring, touched 
to the quick by the all-too-well-merited reproach, stopped her from 
speaking. 

"Enough of this quarrelling! I relinquish the jewelry," she decided. 
"If my mother asks about it, I will just say that I have lost it. And that 
settles the matter. And now go away! But you bring me tea!" she said, 
turning to Orange. Muttering and sulking, Orange went off to the 
kitchen, but Greeting of Spring lay down full length and casually took 
up a book. 

It was a day full of exasperation for the worried Madame Phoenix. 
In the morning there was the bother about the happenings in the park, 
of which of course she had to bear the brunt. In the afternoon there 
was still another worry. The approaching Mid-Autumn Festival would 
have to be financed, but the funds were exhausted and the new rents 
had not yet come in. She had to send Mandarin Duck to a lumber-room 
in the dwelling of the Ancestress to get an ancient, dusty trunk full of 
old jewelry, and to pawn the contents, which brought in a thousand 
taels. And she heard from Chia Lien that the matter had got to the ears 
of her aunt through Numskull. How exasperating! So the Ancestress 
would also hear about it, and that would mean a reprimand. 

While she was still discussing this latest mishap with Little Ping, her 
aunt, Madame Cheng, was suddenly announced. Without uttering a 
word, and showing every sign of the greatest agitation on her face, the 
Tai tai rushed into the room and sank down groaning on the divan. At 
a sign Little Ping and the other waiting maids had to leave the room. 
The Tai tai now pulled out of her sleeve pocket a brightly embroidered 
perfume bag, and with tears in her eyes silently held it up to Phoenix. 

400 



"Where on earth did you get such a thing?" asked Phoenix after she 
had noted with horror the indecent picture on the bag. 

"Where did I get it?" replied the Tai tai in a tone of suppressed ex- 
citement. "It was lying about in broad daylight between the rocks in 
the park. Numskull found it and was already on her way to show it to 
the Ancestress. Luckily, Sister-in-law Shieh took it from her on the way; 
otherwise the Ancestress would have seen it, and then Oh, I don't 
dare think of it! I am beside myself. I thought I could rely on you, and 
now you do this to me! How on earth could you be so thoughtless as to 
leave the thing lying about in the park?" 

"But why do you assume that the thing belongs to me?" asked Phoe- 
nix, turning pale. 

"Who else could it be but you? We others are middle-aged women, 
and long past such frivolities. Or could it possibly be one of the young 
girls in the park? No! There can be no question of that! No! It must 
have come originally from your husband. How like that incorrigibly 
frivolous fellow! You two are still young people, after all, and young 
people do find pleasure in silly trifles of the kind. Everyone knows that. 
You need not deny it. It is only lucky that it was not found by any of 
the park staff. That would have caused talk! Your cousins would have 
fallen into disrepute. And what if the innocent creatures themselves had 
caught sight,of it? Oh, I dare not even think of that!" 

Flushing and turning pale alternately, Phoenix had listened to the 
Tai tai. Now she threw herself at her feet. 

"You are quite right, Aunt, but I assure you that I have never pos- 
sessed such a bag, and I have no idea how it got into the park," she 
protested with tears.. "Just look closely at this thing with its tassels. It 
is a cheap street-market article, a bad imitation of a palace pattern. I 
have never liked such tawdry stuff. But if I possessed anything of that 
kind I would have hidden it carefully and not have carried it around 
with me openly, or taken it into the park, where my cousins might pos- 
sibly see it. How could you think me capable of such thoughtlessness? 
After all, I am not the only youngish woman in the palace. Over in the 
eastern palace there is Sister-in-law Chen, whom one can hardly regard 
yet as belonging to the older set, and there is her daughter-in-law Yung 
and her people, and there are various young women servants, and the 
park is just as open to all of them as it is to me. Or perhaps the owner 
is even one of the park staff herself. Among so many people it is im- 
possible to keep a watch on the behavior of each individual. How can 
one know if this or that woman may be carrying on some secret love 
intrigue with some friend among the male staff? Why is it just I who 
am suspected?" 

The Tai tai could not close her ears to the logic of Phoenix's words. 

401 



"Do get up!" she said, placated. "I know well that you are the best of 
all the young women of the family, and the one least capable of any 
impropriety. I have done you an injustice. But what shall we do now? 
I was almost frightened to death when your mother-in-law sent me this 
disgusting object just now." 

"Do not worry. I know what to do. Above all, we must avoid any 
fuss, in order to spare the old Tai tai any new excitements. As it is, 
the dismissals of today have left some gaps among the older supervisory 
staff over there. Let us, for the time being, send some women super- 
visors over from this side women whom we know thoroughly well and 
can rely upon, such as the wives of the stewards Chou Jui and Lai 
Wang, and have investigations made quietly, ostensibly in connection 
with the forbidden gambling. In this way, this and that offense will 
come to Kght and offer us an opportunity to weed out and dismiss any 
undesirable maids from among the older staff. We have far too many 
marriageable young women over there! Very well! Let them marry! 
A reduction in the staff is also very desirable for reasons of economy. 
What do you think?" 

"You are quite right; I am in full agreement," replied the Tai tai 
with a sigh. "On the other hand, I would not like to be unfair to our 
young girls. After all, each of them has only got three useful waiting 
maids at her disposal. The remaining little devils hardly count, on the 
whole, though one would not like to deprive the girls of their service 
and their company completely. That would be neither in accordance 
with my ideas nor those of the old Tai tai. The best thing is for me to 
look into the matter myself as soon as I have time. Meanwhile the 
women supervisors whom you suggest can take up their posts over there 
and quietly make investigations." 

Phoenix had the five reliable elderly ladies whom she had in mind 
brought in, and gave them the necessary instructions. The Tai tai 
Cheng added to these five the wife of the steward Wang Shan Pao, who 
had come in by chance to eavesdrop. She was one of Princess Shieh's 
serving women and enjoyed her special confidence, and it was she who 
had brought over the aforementioned perfume bag. 

"Ask your mistress if she would send you for a time to the park as 
supervisor, as a special favor for me," Madame Cheng said to her. She 
was anxious to forestall any possible later reproaches regarding par- 
tiality. This sixth woman received the order with secret satisfaction. 
Here was a welcome opportunity to get her own back at last on the 
waiting maids in the park. She had never had a good word for that 
high-spirited, conceited lot, who showed her scant respect whenever 
she went into the park. 

"There is no need to waste words on the subject; a strict investiga- 

402 



tion over in the park is long overdue," she growled. "You do not really 
go into the park much, Tai tai, so you could not know what goes on 
there. Those young things, the waiting maids, are as arrogant as if they 
themselves were real highborn 'Miss Thousand-Gold-Pieces' with Im- 
perial titles of honor. The like of us dare not open our mouths or they 
at once put on airs of being offended and accuse us of persecuting 
them and intriguing against them. It's a nice state of affairs, indeed ! " 

"Well, they are no doubt our elite. No wonder that they think some- 
thing of themselves," said Madame Cheng with a smile. 

"That may be true of the others, but one of them, the maid Bright 
Cloud who serves our young master Pao Yu, is a really bad lot," con- 
tinued the sixth vehemently. "She is certainly pretty, but does the con- 
ceited thing have to deck herself out on that account day after day, as 
if she was a Hsi Shih? And how brazenly and pertly she answers us 
back and rebels if one of us dares to make the slightest remark; you 
wouldn't believe it!" 

Madame Cheng was astonished. 

"Perhaps that is the one who struck me so unpleasantly by the loud, 
quarrelsome way she rebuked a maid in the Begonia Courtyard the last 
time we went for a walk in the park with the old Tai tai?" she said, 
turning to Phoenix. "I mean the one with the eel-like figure, and the 
narrow, sloping shoulders, and the undivided Hsi Shih eyebrows, which 
remind me of Black Jade's brows. I intended to rebuke her for her un- 
seemly behavior, but I couldn't because I was tied to the old Tai tai, 
and later it slipped my mind." 

"By your description it may have been she; but I cannot remember 
exactly," said Phoenix. "This Bright Cloud is no doubt pretty, but she 
is also an impudent, frivolous person." 

"Just send for her, Tai tai! Then it can be seen if your surmise is 
correct," suggested the sixth. Madame Cheng followed her advice and 
ordered Bright Cloud to be sent for. Bright Cloud was not feeling well 
that day and had got up reluctantly from her bed when she was called. 
Now she appeared half dressed, flushed from sleep, and with di- 
shevelled hair before the Tai tai. With a hasty glance of displeasure the 
Tai tai recognized her as the one she had recently encountered. 

"So this is our lovely sick Hsi Shih," she remarked mockingly. "For 
whom do you put on all that vanity? You think, I suppose, that I do not 
see through you? Just wait, very soon I will have you skinned alive! 
How is my son Pao Yu?" she continued in an unfriendly tone. 

Being quick-witted, Bright Cloud rapidly recovered from her first 
surprise and grasped the danger of her position, which demanded the 
utmost tact in her answers.- She quickly fell on her knees. 

"I really would not know, I so seldom come into the young gentle- 

403 



man's vicinity," she lied. "The Tai tai should inquire of his personal 
waiting maids, Pearl and Musk." 

"You deserve a slap on your mouth ! Simply pretending not to know 
anything! What are your duties?" asked the Tai tai sternly. 

"I used to serve the old Tai tai, but because Master Pao Yu some- 
times felt nervous and lonely in the big park I was later assigned to the 
Begonia Courtyard and I do night watch there in the outer chambers. 
Really I did not want to go, and I asked the old Tai tai to keep me with 
her, as I thought I was too unskillful to serve the young gentleman. But 
the old Tai tai scolded me and said that my work over there would not 
call for any special intelligence, and that I would have nothing to do 
with the personal affairs of the young gentleman. And so I gave in. I 
hardly ever meet the young gentleman, no more than once in a fort- 
night, when he calls me, and then I exchange a few words with him. 
His serving women and the waiting maids Pearl, Musk, and Autumn 
Wave do all the personal attendance. Besides, I frequently spend my 
hours of leisure with the old Tai tai doing needlework. So I scarcely 
ever have to look after the young gentleman. But if you wish, I can do 
so from now on." 

"By Buddha, I am glad to hear that you have so little to do in his 
vicinity!" cried Madame Cheng, who took what the girl had said to be 
perfectly true. "I certainly don't intend to ask you to spend more time 
with your master in future. On the contrary, I shall ask the old Tai 
tai to take you away again. Until then, keep an eye on her! Do not al- 
low her to be near him at night!" she said, turning to the six super- 
visors. And then to Bright Cloud: "Get out! What are you lingering 
here for? The sight of you gets on my nerves!" Bright Cloud slipped 
out quickly. The Tai tai angrily muttered something which sounded 
like "Witch" and "Seducer" as she went out, and ordered that a strict 
house-to-house search should take place in the park that same evening. 
Early at night, after the Ancestress had retired, Phoenix set out on 
her tour of 'inspection with the overseers. All the park gates had to be 
locked after them when they had entered. The search started in the 
apartments of the night watch staff. There a slight excess over the pre- 
scribed stocks of lamps, candles, and oil was discovered. 

"That counts as stolen property. It is not to be touched until I inform 
the Tai tai in the morning!" the wife of the steward Wang Shan Pao de- 
clared severely. Then they went on to the Begonia Courtyard. 

"We are looking for a valuable object which has been lost. One of 
the waiting maids is suspected of being the thief," Phoenix explained 
to the astonished Pao Yu, as a reason for the late visit. While she sat 
down and took tea the supervisors proceeded with the search. All the 
staff, one after the other, had to open their boxes and trunks and turn 

404 



out the contents. It came to a heated exchange of words between Wang 
and the indignant Bright Cloud, in which the former entrenched her- 
self behind the order of her Tai tai and the latter used as her trump 
card her position of confidence with the old Tai tai. However, the 
search did not bring to light any forbidden, telltale things of mas- 
culine origin. 

It was now the turn of the Bamboo Hermitage, the Jungle Courtyard 
having been passed over in consideration of the fact that its mistress did 
not belong to the inner circle of the family but only lived there as a 
guest. Black Jade had already gone to bed when the search commission 
arrived. She was about to dress hurriedly but Phoenix considerately 
stopped her, made her lie down again, and sat and chatted pleasantly 
with her while the delegation was at work. Here also the search was 
without result. There were only a few suspicious articles found among 
the maid Cuckoo's things, such as fans with writing on them, little bags, 
and belt buckles, but Phoenix at once confirmed these as being harm- 
less birthday gifts from Pao Yu. 

They went on to the pavilion of Taste of Spring, Pao Yu's half sis- 
ter. She had already been informed of their coming and was awaiting 
the delegation in front of the door at the head of her waiting maids, a 
candle in her hand. She seemed really annoyed about the matter. 

"If my waiting maids steal, then of course I am the head of the rob- 
ber band. Will you not begin your search with me? My boxes and 
trunks are there open for you, you will certainly find the stolen articles 
in them," she replied irritably to the flowery apologies to which Phoe- 
nix treated her before beginning. She ordered the maids to spread out 
all her stock of clothing and linen and jewelry before the eyes of the 
high commission. Phoenix ordered the maids to clear them away again 
without looking at them. 

"I am acting on higher authority; therefore you need not be angry 
with me," she said with an embarrassed smile, trying to pacify the 
angry girl. 

"Oh, please, do not be deterred!" replied Taste of Spring, irritably. 
"What is fair to my maids is fair to me. Besides, I know up to the last 
needle what they have, and they certainly have noth