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Hung Lou Meng, Book I by Cao Xueqin

Part 6 out of 10

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sound of two blows on the gong was heard and the whole band struck up
together. A servant had at an early period placed a large armchair in
front of the tablet, and lady Feng sat down, and gave way to loud
lamentations. Promptly all those, who stood inside or outside, whether
high or low, male or female, took up the note, and kept on wailing and
weeping until Chia Chen and Mrs. Yu, after a time, sent a message to
advise her to withhold her tears; when at length lady Feng desisted.

Lai Wang's wife served the tea; and when she had finished rinsing her
mouth, lady Feng got up; and, taking leave of all the members of the
clan, she walked all alone into the ante-chamber, where she ascertained,
in the order of their names, the number of the servants of every
denomination in there. They were all found to be present, with the
exception of one, who had failed to appear, whose duties consisted in
receiving and escorting the relatives and visitors. Orders were promptly
given to summon him, and the man appeared in a dreadful fright. "What!"
exclaimed lady Feng, as she forced a smile, "is it you who have been
remiss? Is it because you're more respectable than they that you don't
choose to listen to my words?"

"Your servant," he pleaded, "has come at an early hour every day; and
it's only to-day that I come late by one step; and I entreat your
ladyship to forgive this my first offence."

While yet he spoke, she perceived the wife of Wang Hsing, of the Jung
Kuo mansion, come forward and pop her head in to see what was going on;
but lady Feng did not let this man go, but went on to inquire of Wang
Hsing's wife what she had come for.

Wang Hsing's wife drew near. "I've come," she explained, "to get an
order, so as to obtain some thread to make tassels for the carriages and
chairs." Saying this, she produced the permit and handed it up,
whereupon lady Feng directed Ts'ai Ming to read the contents aloud. "For
two large, sedan chairs," he said, "four small sedan chairs and four
carriages, are needed in all so many large and small tassels, each
tassel requiring so many catties of beads and thread."

Lady Feng finding, after she had heard what was read, that the numbers
(and quantities) corresponded, forthwith bade Ts'ai Ming make the proper
entry; and when the order from the Jung Kuo mansion had been fetched,
and thrown at her, Wang Hsing's wife took her departure.

Lady Feng was on the very point of saying something, when she espied
four managers of the Jung Kuo mansion walk in; all of whom wanted
permits to indent for stores. Having asked them to read out the list of
what they required, she ascertained that they wanted four kinds of
articles in all. Drawing attention to two items: "These entries," she
remarked, "are wrong; and you had better go again and make out the
account clearly, and then come and fetch a permit."

With these words, she flung down the requisitions, and the two men went
their way in lower spirits than when they had come.

Lady Feng then caught sight of the wife of Chang Ts'ai standing by, and
asked her what was her business, whereupon Chang Ts'ai's wife promptly
produced an indent. "The covers of the carriages and sedan chairs," she
reported, "have just been completed, and I've come to fetch the amount
due to the tailors for wages."

Lady Feng, upon hearing her explanation, took over the indent, and
directed Ts'ai Ming to enter the items in the book. After Wang Hsing had
handed over the money, and obtained the receipt of the accountant, duly
signed, which tallied with the payment, he subsequently walked away in
company with Chang Ts'ai's wife. Lady Feng simultaneously proceeded to
give orders that another indent should be read, which was for money to
purchase paper with to paste on the windows of Pao-y's outer
school-room, the repairs to which had been brought to completion, and as
soon as lady Feng heard the nature of the application, she there and
then gave directions that the permit should be taken over and an entry
made, and that the money should be issued after Chang Ts'ai's wife had
delivered everything clearly.

"If to-morrow he were to come late," lady Feng then remarked, "and if
the day after, I were to come late; why by and by there'll be no one
here at all! I should have liked to have let you off, but if I be
lenient with you on this first instance, it will be hard for me, on the
occurrence of another offence, to exercise any control over the rest.
It's much better therefore that I should settle accounts with you."

The moment she uttered these words, she put on a serious look, and gave
orders that he should be taken out and administered twenty blows with
the bamboo. When the servants perceived that lady Feng was in an angry
mood, they did not venture to dilly-dally, but dragged him out, and gave
him the full number of blows; which done, they came in to report that
the punishment had been inflicted.

Lady Feng likewise threw down the Ning Mansion order and exclaimed,
addressing herself to Lai Sheng: "Cut him a month's wages and rice! and
tell them all to disperse, and have done with it!"

All the servants at length withdrew to attend to their respective
duties, while the man too, who had been flogged, walked away, as he did
all he could to conceal his shame and stifle his tears. About this time
arrived and went, in an incessant stream, servants from both the Jung
and Ning mansions, bent upon applying for permits and returning permits,
and with one by one again did lady Feng settle accounts. And, as in due
course, the inmates of the Ning mansion came to know how terrible lady
Feng was, each and all were ever since so wary and dutiful that they did
not venture to be lazy.

But without going into further details on this subject, we shall now
return to Pao-y. Seeing that there were a lot of people about and
fearing lest Ch'in Chung might receive some offence, he lost no time in
coming along with him to sit over at lady Feng's. Lady Feng was just
having her repast, and upon seeing them arrive: "Your legs are long
enough, and couldn't you have come somewhat quicker!" she laughingly

"We've had our rice, thanks," replied Pao-y.

"Have you had it," inquired lady Feng, "outside here, or over on the
other side?"

"Would we eat anything with all that riff-raff?" exclaimed Pao-y;
"we've really had it over there; in fact, I now come after having had
mine with dowager lady Chia."

As he uttered these words, they took their seats. Lady Feng had just
finished her meal, when a married woman from the Ning mansion came to
get an order to obtain an advance of money to purchase incense and
lanterns with.

"I calculated," observed lady Feng, "that you would come to-day to make
requisition, but I was under the impression that you had forgotten; had
you really done so you would certainly have had to get them on your own
account, and I would have been the one to benefit."

"Didn't I forget? I did," rejoined the married woman as she smiled; "and
it's only a few minutes back that it came to my mind; had I been one
second later I wouldn't have been in time to get the things."

These words ended, she took over the order and went off. Entries had, at
the time to be made in the books, and orders to be issued, and Ch'in
Chung was induced to interpose with a smirk, "In both these mansions of
yours, such orders are alike in use; but were any outsider stealthily to
counterfeit one and to abscond, after getting the money, what could ever
be done?"

"In what you say," replied lady Feng, "you take no account of the laws
of the land."

"How is it that from our house, no one comes to get any orders or to
obtain anything?" Pao-y having inquired: "At the time they come to
fetch them," rejoined lady Feng, "you're still dreaming; but let me ask
you one thing, when will you two at last begin your evening course of

"Oh, I wish we were able to begin our studies this very day," Pao-y
added; "that would be the best thing, but they're very slow in putting
the school-room in order, so that there's no help for it!"

Lady Feng laughed. "Had you asked me," she remarked, "I can assure you
it would have been ready quick enough."

"You too would have been of no use," observed Pao-y, "for it will
certainly be ready by the time they ought to finish it in."

"But in order that they should do the work," suggested lady Feng, "it's
also necessary that they should have the material, they can't do without
them; and if I don't give them any permits, it will be difficult to
obtain them."

Pao-y at these words readily drew near to lady Feng, and there and then
applied for the permits. "My dear sister," he added, "do give them the
permits to enable them to obtain the material and effect the repairs."

"I feel quite sore from fatigue," ventured lady Feng, "and how can I
stand your rubbing against me? but compose your mind. They have this
very day got the paper, and gone to paste it; and would they, for
whatever they need, have still waited until they had been sent for? they
are not such fools after all!"

Pao-y would not believe it, and lady Feng at once called Ts'ai Ming to
look up the list, which she handed for Pao-y's inspection; but while
they were arguing a servant came in to announce that Chao Erh, who had
gone to Su Chow, had returned, and lady Feng all in a flurry directed
that he should be asked to walk in. Chao Erh bent one knee and paid his

"Why have you come back?" lady Feng readily inquired.

"Mr. Secundus (Chia Lien)," he reported, "sent me back to tell you that
Mr. Lin (our dowager lady's) son-in-law, died on the third of the ninth
moon; that Master Secundus is taking Miss Lin along with him to escort
the coffin of Mr. Lin as far as Su Chow; and that they hope to be back
some time about the end of the year. Master despatched me to come and
announce the news, to bring his compliments, and to crave our old lady's
instructions as well as to see how you are getting on in my lady's home.
He also bade me take back to him a few long fur pelisses."

"Have you seen any one else besides me?" lady Feng inquired.

"I've seen every one," rejoined Chao Erh; and withdrew hastily at the
conclusion of this remark, out of the apartment, while lady Feng turned
towards Pao-y with a smile and said, "Your cousin Lin can now live in
our house for ever."

"Poor thing!" exclaimed Pao-y. "I presume that during all these days
she has wept who knows how much;" and saying this he wrinkled his brow
and heaved a deep sigh.

Lady Feng saw Chao Erh on his return, but as she could not very well, in
the presence of third persons, make minute inquiries after Chia Lien,
she had to continue a prey to inward solicitude till it was time to go
home, for, not having got through what she had to do, she was compelled
to wait patiently until she went back in the evening, when she again
sent word for Chao Erh to come in, and asked him with all minuteness
whether the journey had been pleasant throughout, and for full
particulars. That very night, she got in readiness the long pelisses,
which she herself, with the assistance of P'ing Erh, packed up in a
bundle; and after careful thought as to what things he would require,
she put them in the same bundle and committed them to Chao Erh's care.
She went on to solicitously impress upon Chao Erh to be careful in his
attendance abroad. "Don't provoke your master to wrath," she said, "and
from time to time do advise him not to drink too much wine; and don't
entice him to make the acquaintance of any low people; for if you do,
when you come back I will cut your leg off."

The preparations were hurriedly and confusedly completed; and it was
already the fourth watch of the night when she went to sleep. But soon
again the day dawned, and after hastily performing her toilette and
ablutions, she came over to the Ning Mansion.

As Chia Chen realised that the day for escorting the body away was
drawing nigh, he in person went out in a curricle, along with
geomancers, to the Temple of the Iron Fence to inspect a suitable place
for depositing the coffin. He also, point by point, enjoined the
resident managing-bonze, Se K'ung, to mind and get ready brand-new
articles of decoration and furniture, and to invite a considerable
number of bonzes of note to be at hand to lend their services for the
reception of the coffin.

Se K'ung lost no time in getting ready the evening meal, but Chia Chen
had, in fact, no wish for any tea or rice; and, as the day was far
advanced and he was not in time to enter the city, he had, after all, to
rest during that night as best he could in a "chaste" room in the
temple. The next morning, as soon as it was day, he hastened to come
into the city and to make every preparation for the funeral. He likewise
deputed messengers to proceed ahead to the Temple of the Iron Fence to
give, that very night, additional decorative touches to the place where
the coffin was to be deposited, and to get ready tea and all the other
necessaries, for the use of the persons who would be present at the
reception of the coffin.

Lady Feng, seeing that the day was not far distant, also apportioned
duties and made provision for everything beforehand with circumspect
care; while at the same time she chose in the Jung mansion, such
carriages, sedan chairs and retinue as were to accompany the cortege, in
attendance upon madame Wang, and gave her mind furthermore to finding a
place where she herself could put up in at the time of the funeral.
About this very time, it happened that the consort of the Duke Shan Kuo
departed this life, and that mesdames Wang and Hsing had likewise to go
and offer sacrifices, and to follow the burial procession; that the
birthday occurred of the consort of Prince Hsi An; that presents had to
be forwarded on the occasion of this anniversary; and that the consort
of the Duke of Chen Kuo gave birth to a first child, a son, and
congratulatory gifts had, in like manner, to be provided. Besides, her
uterine brother Wang Jen was about to return south, with all his family,
and she had too to write her home letters, to send her reverent
compliments to her father and mother, as well as to get the things ready
that were to be taken along. There was also Ying Ch'un, who had
contracted some illness, and the doctor had every day to be sent for,
and medicines to be administered, the notes of the doctor to be looked
after, consisting of the bulletins of the diagnosis and the
prescriptions, with the result that the various things that had to be
attended to by lady Feng were so manifold that it would, indeed, be
difficult to give an exhaustive idea of them.

In addition to all this, the day for taking the coffin away was close at
hand, so that lady Feng was so hard pressed for time that she had even
no desire for any tea to drink or anything to eat, and that she could
not sit or rest in peace. As soon as she put her foot into the Ning
mansion, the inmates of the Jung mansion would follow close upon her
heels; and the moment she got back into the Jung mansion, the servants
again of the Ning mansion would follow her about. In spite however of
this great pressure, lady Feng, whose natural disposition had ever been
to try and excel, was urged to strain the least of her energies, as her
sole dread was lest she should incur unfavourable criticism from any
one; and so excellent were the plans she devised, that every one in the
clan, whether high or low, readily conceded her unlimited praise.

On the night of this day, the body had to be watched, and in the inner
suite of apartments two companies of young players as well as jugglers
entertained the relatives, friends and other visitors during the whole
of the night. Mrs. Yu was still laid up in the inside room, so that the
whole task of attending to and entertaining the company devolved upon
lady Feng alone, who had to look after everything; for though there
were, in the whole clan, many sisters-in-law, some there were too
bashful to speak, others too timid to stand on their feet; while there
were also those who were not accustomed to meeting company; and those
likewise who were afraid of people of high estate and shy of officials.
Of every kind there were, but the whole number of them could not come up
to lady Feng's standard, whose deportment was correct and whose speech
was according to rule. Hence it was that she did not even so much as
heed any of that large company, but gave directions and issued orders,
adopting any course of action which she fancied, just as if there were
no bystander.

The whole night, the lanterns emitted a bright light and the fires
brilliant rays; while guests were escorted on their way out and
officials greeted on their way in; but of this hundredfold bustle and
stir nothing need, of course, be said.

The next morning at the dawn of day, and at a propitious moment,
sixty-four persons, dressed all alike in blue, carried the coffin,
preceded by a streamer with the record in large characters: Coffin of
lady Ch'in, a lady of the fifth degree, (by marriage) of the Chia
mansion, deceased at middle age, consort of the grandson of the Ning Kuo
Duke with the first rank title of honour, (whose status is) a guard of
the Imperial antechamber, charged with the protection of the Inner
Palace and Roads in the Red Prohibited City.

The various paraphernalia and ornaments were all brand-new, hurriedly
made for the present occasion, and the uniform lustrous brilliancy they
shed was sufficient to dazzle the eyes.

Pao-chu, of course, observed the rites prescribed for unmarried
daughters, and dashed the bowl and walked by the coffin, as she gave way
to most bitter lamentations.

At that time, among the officials who escorted the funeral procession,
were Niu Chi-tsung, the grandson of the Chen Kuo duke, who had now
inherited the status of earl of the first degree; Liu Fang, the grandson
of Liu Piao, duke of Li Kuo, who had recently inherited the rank of
viscount of the first class; Ch'en Jui-wen, a grandson of Ch'en Yi, duke
of Ch'i Kuo, who held the hereditary rank of general of the third
degree, with the prefix of majestic authority; Ma Shang, the grandson of
Ma K'uei, duke of Chih Kuo, by inheritance general of the third rank
with the prefix of majesty afar; Hou Hsiao-keng, an hereditary viscount
of the first degree, grandson of the duke of Hsiu Kuo, Hou Hsiao-ming by
name; while the death of the consort of the duke of Shan Kuo had obliged
his grandson Shih Kuang-chu to go into mourning so that he could not be
present. These were the six families which had, along with the two
households of Jung and Ning, been, at one time, designated the eight

Among the rest, there were besides the grandson of the Prince of Nan An;
the grandson of the Prince of Hsi An; Shih Ting, marquis of Chung Ching;
Chiang Tzu-ning, an hereditary baron of the second grade, grandson of
the earl of P'ing Yuan; Hsieh K'un, an hereditary baron of the second
order and Captain of the Metropolitan camp, grandson of the marquis of
Ting Ch'ang: Hsi Chien-hui, an hereditary baron of the second rank, a
grandson of the marquis of Nang Yang; Ch'in Liang, in command of the
Five Cities, grandson of the marquis of Ching T'ien. The remainder were
Wei Chi, the son of the earl of Chin Hsiang; Feng Tzu-ying, the son of a
general, whose prefix was supernatural martial spirit; Ch'en Yeh-chn,
Wei Jo-lan and others, grandsons and sons of princes who could not be

In the way of ladies, there were also in all about ten large official
sedan chairs full of them, thirty or forty private chairs, and including
the official and non-official chairs, and carriages containing inmates
of the household, there must have been over a hundred and ten; so that
with the various kinds of paraphernalia, articles of decoration and
hundreds of nick-nacks, which preceded, the vast expanse of the cortege
covered a continuous line extending over three or four li.

They had not been very long on their way, when they reached variegated
sheds soaring high by the roadside, in which banquets were spread,
feasts laid out, and music discoursed in unison. These were the viatory
sacrificial offerings contributed by the respective families. The first
shed contained the sacrificial donations of the mansion of the Prince of
Tung P'ing; the second shed those of the Prince of Nan An; the third
those of the Prince of Hsi Ning, and the fourth those of the Prince of
Pei Ching.

Indeed of these four Princes, the reputation enjoyed in former days by
the Prince of Pei Ching had been the most exalted, and to this day his
sons and grandsons still succeeded to the inheritance of the princely
dignity. The present incumbent of the Princedom of Pei Ching, Shih Jung,
had not as yet come of age, but he was gifted with a presence of
exceptional beauty, and with a disposition condescending and genial. At
the demise, recently, of the consort of the eldest grandson of the
mansion of Ning Kuo, he, in consideration of the friendship which had
formerly existed between the two grandfathers, by virtue of which they
had been inseparable, both in adversity as well as in prosperity,
treating each other as if they had not been of different surnames, was
consequently induced to pay no regard to princely dignity or to his
importance, but having like the others paid, on the previous day, his
condolences and presented sacrificial offerings, he had further now
raised a shed wherein to offer libations. Having directed every one of
his subordinate officers to remain in this spot in attendance, he
himself went at the fifth watch to court, and when he acquitted himself
of his public duties he forthwith changed his attire for a mourning
costume, and came along, in an official sedan chair, preceded by gongs
and umbrellas. Upon reaching the front of the shed the chair was
deposited on the ground, and as his subordinate officers pressed on
either side and waited upon him, neither the military nor the populace,
which composed the mass of people, ventured to make any commotion. In a
short while, the long procession of the Ning mansion became visible,
spreading far and wide, covering in its course from the north, the whole
ground like a silver mountain. At an early hour, the forerunners,
messengers and other attendants on the staff of the Ning mansion
apprised Chia Chen (of the presence of the sheds), and Chia Chen with
all alacrity gave orders that the foremost part of the cortege should
halt. Attended by Chia She and Chia Chen, the three of them came with
hurried step to greet (the Prince of Pei Ching), whom they saluted with
due ceremony. Shih Jung, who was seated in his sedan chair, made a bow
and returned their salutations with a smile, proceeding to address them
and to treat them, as he had done hitherto, as old friends, without any
airs of self-importance.

"My daughter's funeral has," observed Chia Chen, "put your Highness to
the trouble of coming, an honour which we, though noble by birth, do not

Shih Jung smiled. "With the terms of friendship," he added, "which have
existed for so many generations (between our families), is there any
need for such apologies?"

Turning his head round there and then, he gave directions to the senior
officer of his household to preside at the sacrifices and to offer
libations in his stead; and Chia She and the others stood together on
one side and made obeisance in return, and then came in person again and
gave expression to their gratitude for his bounty.

Shih Jung was most affable and complaisant. "Which is the gentleman," he
inquired of Chia Chen, "who was born with a piece of jade in his mouth?
I've long had a wish to have the pleasure of seeing him, and as he's
sure to be on the spot on an occasion like this, why shouldn't you
invite him to come round?"

Chia Chen speedily drew back, and bidding Pao-y change his mourning
clothes, he led him forward and presented him.

Pao-y had all along heard that Shih Jung was a worthy Prince, perfect
in ability as well as in appearance, pleasant and courteous, not bound
down by any official custom or state rite, so that he had repeatedly
felt a keen desire to meet him. With the sharp control, however, which
his father exercised over him, he had not been able to gratify his wish.
But on this occasion, he saw on the contrary that he came to call him,
and it was but natural that he should be delighted. Whilst advancing, he
scrutinised Shih Jung with the corner of his eye, who, seated as he was
in the sedan chair, presented an imposing sight.

But, reader, what occurred on his approach is not yet known, but listen
to the next chapter, which will divulge it.


Lady Peng, ne Wang, exercises her authority in the Iron Fence Temple.
Ch'in Ching-ch'ing (Ch'ing Chung) amuses himself in the Man-t'ou
(Bread) nunnery.

But we shall now resume our story. When Pao-y raised his eyes, he
noticed that Shih Jung, Prince of Pei Ching, wore on his head a princely
cap with pure white tassels and silvery feathers, that he was appareled
in a white ceremonial robe, (with a pattern representing) the toothlike
ripple of a river and the waters of the sea, embroidered with
five-clawed dragons; and that he was girded with a red leather belt,
inlaid with white jade. That his face was like a beauteous gem; that his
eyes were like sparkling stars; and that he was, in very truth, a human
being full of graceful charms.

Pao-y hastily pressed forward and made a reverent obeisance, and Shih
Jung lost no time in extending his arms from inside the sedan-chair, and
embracing him. At a glance, he saw that Pao-y had on his head a silver
cap, to which the hair was attached, that he had, round his forehead, a
flap on which were embroidered a couple of dragons issuing from the sea,
that he wore a white archery-sleeved robe, ornamented with dragons, and
that his waist was encircled by a silver belt, inlaid with pearls; that
his face resembled vernal flowers and that his eyes were like drops of

Shih Jung smiled. "Your name is," he said, "no trumped-up story; for
you, verily, resemble a precious gem; but where's the valuable trinket
you had in your mouth?" he inquired.

As soon as Pao-y heard this inquiry, he hastened to produce the jade
from inside his clothes and to hand it over to Shih Jung. Shih Jung
minutely examined it; and having also read the motto on it, he
consequently ascertained whether it was really efficacious or not.

"It's true that it's said to be," Pao-y promptly explained, "but it
hasn't yet been put to the test."

Shih Jung extolled it with unbounded praise, and, as he did so, he set
the variegated tassels in proper order, and, with his own hands,
attached it on to Pao-y's neck. Taking also his hand in his, he
inquired of Pao-y what was his age? and what books he was reading at
present, to each of which questions Pao-y gave suitable answer.

Shih Jung perceiving the perspicacity of his speech and the propriety of
his utterances, simultaneously turned towards Chia Chen and observed
with a smile on his face: "Your worthy son is, in very truth, like the
young of a dragon or like the nestling of a phoenix! and this isn't an
idle compliment which I, a despicable prince, utter in your venerable
presence! But how much more glorious will be, in the future, the voice
of the young phoenix than that of the old phoenix, it isn't easy to

Chia Chen forced a smile: "My cur-like son," he replied, "cannot presume
to such bountiful praise and golden commendation; but if, by the virtue
of your Highness' excess of happiness, he does indeed realise your
words, he will be a source of joy to us all!"

"There's one thing, however," continued Shih Jung; "with the excellent
abilities which your worthy scion possesses, he's sure, I presume, to be
extremely loved by her dowager ladyship, (his grandmother), and by all
classes. But for young men of our age it's a great drawback to be doated
upon, for with over-fondness, we cannot help utterly frustrating the
benefits of education. When I, a despicable prince, was young, I walked
in this very track, and I presume that your honourable son cannot
likewise but do the same. By remaining at home, your worthy scion will
find it difficult to devote his attention to study; and he will not reap
any harm, were he to come, at frequent intervals, to my humble home; for
though my deserts be small, I nevertheless enjoy the great honour of the
acquaintance of all the scholars of note in the Empire, so that,
whenever any of them visit the capital, not one of them is there who
does not lower his blue eyes upon me. Hence it is that in my mean abode,
eminent worthies rendezvous; and were your esteemed son to come, as
often as he can, and converse with them and meet them, his knowledge
would, in that case, have every opportunity of making daily strides
towards improvement."

Chia Chen speedily bent his body and expressed his acquiescence, by way
of reply; whereupon Shih Jung went further, and taking off from his
wrist a chaplet of pearls, he presented it to Pao-y.

"This is the first time we meet," he observed. "Our meeting was so
unexpected that I have no suitable congratulatory present to offer you.
This was conferred upon me by His Majesty, and is a string of
chaplet-pearls, scented with Ling Ling, which will serve as a temporary
token of respectful congratulations."

Pao-y hastened to receive it from his hands, and turning round, he
reverently presented it to Chia Chen. Chia Chen and Pao-y jointly
returned thanks; and forthwith Chia She, Chia Chen and the rest came
forward in a body, and requested the Prince to turn his chair homewards.

"The departed," expostulated Shih Jung, "has already ascended the
spiritual regions, and is no more a mortal being in this dusty world
exposed to vicissitude like you and I. Although a mean prince like me
has been the recipient of the favour of the Emperor, and has
undeservedly been called to the princely inheritance, how could I
presume to go before the spiritual hearse and return home?"

Chia She and the others, perceiving how persistent he was in his refusal
had no course but to take their leave, express their sense of gratitude
and to rejoin the cortege. They issued orders to their servants to stop
the band, and to hush the music, and making the procession go by, they
at length left the way clear for Shih Jung to prosecute his way.

But we will now leave him and resume our account of the funeral of the
Ning mansion. All along its course the road was plunged in unusual
commotion. As soon as they reached the city gates Chia She, Chia Cheng,
Chia Chen, and the others again received donations from all their fellow
officers and subordinates, in sacrificial sheds erected by their
respective families, and after they returned thanks to one after
another, they eventually issued from the city walls, and proceeded
eventually along the highway, in the direction of the Temple of the Iron

Chia Chen, at this time, went, together with Chia Jung, up to all their
seniors, and pressed them to get into their sedan chairs, and to ride
their horses; and Chia She and all of the same age as himself were
consequently induced to mount into their respective carriages or chairs.
Chia Chen and those of the same generation were likewise about to ride
their horses, when lady Feng, through her solicitude on Pao-y's
account, gave way to fears lest now that they had reached the open
country, he should do as he pleased, and not listen to the words of any
of the household, and lest Chia Chen should not be able to keep him in
check; and, as she dreaded that he might go astray, she felt compelled
to bid a youth call him to her; and Pao-y had no help but to appear
before her curricle.

"My dear brother," lady Feng remarked smiling, "you are a respectable
person, and like a girl in your ways, and shouldn't imitate those
monkeys on horseback! do get down and let both you and I sit together in
this carriage; and won't that be nice?"

At these words, Pao-y readily dismounted and climbed up into the
carriage occupied by lady Feng; and they both talked and laughed, as
they continued their way.

But not a long time elapsed before two men, on horseback, were seen
approaching from the opposite direction. Coming straight up to lady
Feng's vehicle they dismounted, and said, as they leaned on the sides of
her carriage, "There's a halting place here, and will it not please your
ladyship to have a rest and change?"

Lady Feng directed them to ask the two ladies Hsing and Wang what they
would like to do, and the two men explained: "These ladies have
signified that they had no desire to rest, and they wish your ladyship
to suit your convenience."

Lady Feng speedily issued orders that they should have a rest, before
they prosecuted their way, and the servant youth led the harnessed
horses through the crowd of people and came towards the north, while
Pao-y, from inside the carriage, urgently asked that Mr. Ch'in should
be requested to come.

Ch'in Chung was at this moment on horseback following in the track of
his father's carriage, when unexpectedly he caught sight of Pao-y's
page, come at a running pace and invite him to have some refreshment.
Ch'in Chung perceived from a distance that the horse, which Pao-y had
been riding, walked behind lady Feng's vehicle, as it went towards the
north, with its saddle and bridles all piled up, and readily concluding
that Pao-y must be in the same carriage with that lady, he too turned
his horse and came over in haste and entered, in their company, the door
of a farm-house.

This dwelling of the farmer's did not contain many rooms so that the
women and girls had nowhere to get out of the way; and when the village
lasses and country women perceived the bearing and costumes of lady
Feng, Pao-y, and Ch'in Chung, they were inclined to suspect that
celestial beings had descended into the world.

Lady Feng entered a thatched house, and, in the first place, asked
Pao-y and the rest to go out and play. Pao-y took the hint, and, along
with Ch'in Chung, he led off the servant boys and went to romp all over
the place.

The various articles in use among the farmers they had not seen before,
with the result that after Pao-y had inspected them, he thought them
all very strange; but he could neither make out their names nor their
uses. But among the servant boys, there were those who knew, and they
explained to them, one after another, what they were called, as well as
what they were for. As Pao-y, after this explanation, nodded his head;
"It isn't strange," he said, "that an old writer has this line in his
poetical works, 'Who can realise that the food in a bowl is, grain by
grain, all the fruit of labour.' This is indeed so!" As he spoke, they
had come into another house; and at the sight of a spinning wheel on a
stove-bed, they thought it still more strange and wonderful, but the
servant boys again told them that it was used for spinning the yarn to
weave cloth with, and Pao-y speedily jumping on to the stove-bed, set
to work turning the wheel for the sake of fun, when a village lass of
about seventeen or eighteen years of age came forward, and asked them
not to meddle with it and spoil it.

The servant boys promptly stopped her interference; but Pao-y himself
desisted, as he added: "It's because I hadn't seen one before that I
came to try it for fun."

"You people can't do it," rejoined the lass, "let me turn it for you to

Ch'in Chung secretly pulled Pao-y and remarked, "It's great fun in this
village!" but Pao-y gave him a nudge and observed, "If you talk
nonsense again, I'll beat you." Watching intently, as he uttered these
words, the village girl who started reeling the thread, and presented,
in very truth, a pretty sight. But suddenly an old woman from the other
side gave a shout. "My girl Secunda, come over at once;" and the lass
discarded the spinning-wheel and hastily went on her way.

Pao-y was the while feeling disappointed and unhappy, when he espied a
servant, whom lady Feng had sent, come and call them both in. Lady Feng
had washed her hands and changed her costume; and asked him whether he
would change or not, and Pao-y, having replied "No! it doesn't matter
after all if I don't change," the female attendants served tea, cakes
and fruits and also poured the scented tea. Lady Feng and the others
drank their tea, and waiting until they had put the various articles by,
and made all the preparations, they promptly started to get into their
carriages. Outside, Wang Erh had got ready tips and gave them to the
people of the farm, and the farm women and all the inmates went up to
them to express their gratitude; but when Pao-y came to look carefully,
he failed to see anything of the lass who had reeled the thread. But
they had not gone far before they caught sight of this girl Secunda
coming along with a small child in her arms, who, they concluded, was
her young brother, laughing and chatting, in company with a few young

Pao-y could not suppress the voice of love, but being seated in the
carriage, he was compelled to satisfy himself by following her with his
eyes. Soon however the vehicle sped on as rapidly as a cloud impelled by
the wind, so that when he turned his head round, there was already no
vestige to be seen of her; but, while they were bandying words, they had
unexpectedly overtaken the great concourse of the cortege.

Likewise, at an early stage men were stationed ahead, with Buddhist
drums and gold cymbals, with streamers, and jewelled coverings; and the
whole company of bonzes, belonging to the Iron Fence Temple, had already
been drawn out in a line by the sides of the road. In a short while,
they reached the interior of the temple, where additional sacrifices
were offered and Buddhistic services performed; and where altars had
again been erected to burn incense on. The coffin was deposited in a
side room of the inner court; and Pao Chu got ready a bed-room in which
she could keep her watch.

In the outer apartments, Chia Chen did the honours among the whole party
of relatives and friends, some of whom asked to be allowed to stay for
their meals, while others at this stage took their leave. And after they
had one by one returned thanks, the dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts
and barons, each in respective batches, (got up to go,) and they kept on
leaving from between 1 and 3 p.m. before they had finally all dispersed.

In the inner Chambers, the ladies were solely entertained and attended
to by lady Feng. First to make a move were the consorts of officials;
and noon had also come, by the time the whole party of them had taken
their departure. Those that remained were simply a few relatives of the
same clan and others like them, who eventually left after the completion
of the three days' rationalistic liturgies.

The two ladies Hsing and Wang, well aware at this time that lady Feng
could on no account return home, desired to enter the city at once; and
madame Wang wanted to take Pao-y home; but Pao-y, who had, on an
unexpected occasion, come out into the country, entertained, of course,
no wish to go back; and he would agree to nothing else than to stay
behind with lady Feng, so that madame Wang had no alternative but to
hand him over to her charge and to start.

This Temple of the Iron Fence had, in fact, been erected in days gone
by, at the expense of the two dukes Ning and Jung; and there still
remained up to these days, acres of land, from which were derived the
funds for incense and lights for such occasions, on which the coffins of
any members, old or young, (who died) in the capital, had to be
deposited in this temple; and the inner and outer houses, in this
compound were all kept in readiness and good order, for the
accommodation of those who formed part of the cortge.

At this time, as it happened, the descendants mustered an immense crowd,
and among them were poor and rich of various degrees, or with likes and
dislikes diametrically opposed. There were those, who, being in
straitened circumstances at home, and easily contented, readily took up
their quarters in the temple. And there were those with money and
position, and with extravagant ideas, who maintained that the
accommodation in the temple was not suitable, and, of course, went in
search of additional quarters, either in country houses, or in convents,
where they could have their meals and retire, after the ceremonies were

On the occasion of Mrs. Ch'in's funeral, all the members of the clan put
up temporarily in the Iron Fence Temple; lady Feng alone looked down
upon it as inconvenient, and consequently despatched a servant to go and
tell Ch'ing Hs, a nun in the Bread Convent, to empty two rooms for her
to go and live in.

This Bread Convent had at one time been styled the Shui Yueh nunnery
(water moon); but as good bread was made in that temple, it gave rise to
this nickname.

This convent was not very distant from the Temple of the Iron Fence, so
that as soon as the bonzes brought their functions to a close, and the
sacrifice of evening was offered, Chia Chen asked Chia Jung to request
lady Feng to retire to rest; and as lady Feng perceived that there still
remained several sisters-in-law to keep company to the female relatives,
she readily, of her own accord, took leave of the whole party, and,
along with Pao-y and Ch'in Chung, came to the Water Moon Convent.

Ch'in Yeh, it must be noticed, was advanced in years and a victim to
many ailments, so that he was unable to remain in the temple long, and
he bade Ch'in Chung tarry until the coffin had been set in its resting
place, with the result that Ch'in Chung came along, at the same time as
lady Feng and Pao-y, to the Water Moon Convent, where Ch'ing Hs
appeared, together with two neophytes, Chih Shan and Chih Neng, to
receive them. After they had exchanged greetings, lady Feng and the
others entered the "chaste" apartments to change their clothes and wash
their hands; and when they had done, as she perceived how much taller in
stature Chih Neng had grown and how much handsomer were her features,
she felt prompted to inquire, "How is it that your prioress and
yourselves haven't been all these days as far as our place?"

"It's because during these days we haven't had any time which we could
call our own," explained Ch'ing Hs. "Owing to the birth of a son in Mr.
Hu's mansion, dame Hu sent over about ten taels and asked that we should
invite several head-nuns to read during three days the service for the
churching of women, with the result that we've been so very busy and had
so little leisure, that we couldn't come over to pay our respects to
your ladyship."

But leaving aside the old nun, who kept lady Feng company, we will now
return to the two lads Pao-y and Ch'in Chung. They were up to their
pranks in the main building of the convent, when seeing Chih Neng come
over: "Here's Neng Erh," Pao-y exclaimed with a smile.

"Why notice a creature like her?" remarked Ch'in Chung; to which Pao-y
rejoined laughingly: "Don't be sly! why then did you the other day, when
you were in the old lady's rooms, and there was not a soul present, hold
her in your arms? and do you want to fool me now ?"

"There was nothing of the kind," observed Ch'in Chung smiling.

"Whether there was or not," replied Pao-y, "doesn't concern me; but if
you will stop her and tell her to pour a cup of tea and bring it to me
to drink, I'll then keep hands off."

"This is indeed very strange!" Ch'in Chung answered laughing; "do you
fear that if you told her to pour you one, that she wouldn't; and what
need is there that I should tell her?"

"If I ask her," Pao-y observed, "to pour it, she wouldn't be as ready
as she would were you to tell her about it."

Ch'in Chung had no help but to speak. "Neng Erh!" he said, "bring a cup
of tea."

This Neng Erh had, since her youth, been in and out of the Jung mansion,
so that there was no one that she did not know; and she had also, time
after time, romped and laughed with Pao-y and Ch'in Chung. Being now
grown up she gradually came to know the import of love, and she readily
took a fancy to Ch'in Chung, who was an amorous being. Ch'in Chung too
returned her affection, on account of her good looks; and, although he
and she had not had any very affectionate tte--ttes, they had,
however, long ago come to understand each other's feelings and wishes.

Chih Neng walked away and returned after having poured the tea.

"Give it to me," Ch'in Chung cried out smirkingly; while Pao-y likewise
shouted: "Give it to me."

Chih Neng compressed her lips and sneeringly rejoined, "Are you going to
have a fight even over a cup of tea? Is it forsooth likely that there's
honey in my hand?"

Pao-y was the first to grasp and take over the cup, but while drinking
it, he was about to make some inquiry, when he caught sight of Chih
Shan, who came and called Chih Neng away to go and lay the plates with
fruit on the table. Not much time elapsed before she came round to
request the two lads to go and have tea and refreshments; but would they
eat such things as were laid before them? They simply sat for a while
and came out again and resumed their play.

Lady Feng too stayed for a few moments, and then returned, with the old
nun as her escort, into the "unsullied" rooms to lie down. By this time,
all the matrons and married women discovered that there was nothing else
to be done, and they dispersed in succession, retiring each to rest.
There only remained in attendance several young girls who enjoyed her
confidence, and the old nun speedily availed herself of the opportunity
to speak. "I've got something," she said, "about which I mean to go to
your mansion to beg of madame Wang; but I'll first request you, my lady,
to tell me how to set to work."

"What's it?" ascertained lady Feng.

"O-mi-to-fu!" exclaimed the old nun, "It's this; in days gone by, I
first lived in the Ch'ang An district. When I became a nun and entered
the monastery of Excellent Merit, there lived, at that time, a
subscriber, Chang by surname, a very wealthy man. He had a daughter,
whose infant name was Chin Ko; the whole family came in the course of
that year to the convent I was in, to offer incense, and as luck would
have it they met Li Ya-nei, a brother of a secondary wife of the Prefect
of the Ch'ang An Prefecture. This Li Ya-nei fell in love at first sight
with her, and would wed Chin Ko as his wife. He sent go-betweens to ask
her in marriage, but, contrary to his expectations, Chin Ko had already
received the engagement presents of the son of the ex-Major of the
Ch'ang An Prefecture. The Chang family, on the other hand, were afraid
that if they withdrew from the match, the Major would not give up his
claim, and they therefore replied that she was already promised to
another. But, who would have thought it, this Mr. Li was seriously bent
upon marrying the young lady. But while the Chang family were at a loss
what plan to devise, and both parties were in a dilemma, the family of
the Major came unexpectedly to hear of the news; and without even
looking thoroughly into the matter, they there and then had recourse to
insult and abuse. 'Is a girl,' they insinuated, 'to be promised to the
sons of several families!' And obstinately refusing to allow the
restitution of the betrothal presents, they at once had recourse to
litigation and brought an action (against the girl's people.) That
family was at their wits' end, and had no alternative but to find some
one to go to the capital to obtain means of assistance; and, losing all
patience, they insisted upon the return of the presents. I believe that
the present commander of the troops at Ch'ang An, Mr. Yn, is on
friendly terms with your honourable family, and could one solicit madame
Wang to put in a word with Mr. Chia Cheng to send a letter and ask Mr.
Yn to speak to that Major, I have no fear that he will not agree.
Should (your ladyship) be willing to take action, the Chang family are
even ready to present all they have, though it may entail the ruin of
their estate."

"This affair is, it's true, of no great moment," lady Feng replied
smiling, after hearing this appeal; "but the only thing is that madame
Wang does no longer attend to matters of this nature."

"If madame doesn't heed them," suggested the old nun, "you, my lady, can
safely assume the direction."

"I'm neither in need of any money to spend," added lady Feng with a
smirk, "nor do I undertake such matters!"

These words did not escape Ching Hs's ear; they scattered to the winds
her vain hopes. After a minute or so she heaved a sigh.

"What you say may be true enough," she remarked; "but the Chang family
are also aware that I mean to come and make my appeal to your mansion;
and were you now not to manage this affair, the Chang family having no
idea that the lack of time prevents any steps being taken and that no
importance is attached to their presents, it will appear, on the
contrary, as if there were not even this little particle of skill in
your household."

At these words lady Feng felt at once inspirited. "You've known of old,"
she added, "that I've never had any faith in anything concerning
retribution in the Court of Judgment in the unseen or in hell; and that
whatever I say that I shall do, that I do; tell them therefore to bring
three thousand taels; and I shall then remedy this grievance of theirs."

The old nun upon hearing this remark was so exceedingly delighted, that
she precipitately exclaimed, "They've got it, they've got it! there will
be no difficulty about it."

"I'm not," lady Feng went on to add, "like those people, who afford help
and render assistance with an eye to money; these three thousand taels
will be exclusively devoted for the travelling expenses of those youths,
who will be sent to deliver messages and for them to make a few cash for
their trouble; but as for me I don't want even so much as a cash. In
fact I'm able at this very moment to produce as much as thirty thousand

The old nun assented with alacrity, and said by way of reply, "If that
be so, my lady, do display your charitable bounty at once to-morrow and
bring things to an end."

"Just see," remarked lady Feng, "how hard pressed I am; which place can
do without me? but since I've given you my word, I shall, needless to
say, speedily bring the matter to a close."

"A small trifle like this," hinted the old nun, "would, if placed in the
hands of any one else, flurry her to such an extent that she would be
quite at a loss what to do; but in your hands, my lady, even if much
more were superadded, it wouldn't require as much exertion as a wave of
your hand. But the proverb well says: 'that those who are able have much
to do;' for madame Wang, seeing that your ladyship manages all concerns,
whether large or small, properly, has still more shoved the burden of
everything on your shoulders, my lady; but you should, it's but right,
also take good care of your precious health."

This string of flattery pleased lady Feng more and more, so that
heedless of fatigue she went on to chat with still greater zest.

But, thing unthought of, Ch'in Chung availed himself of the darkness, as
well as of the absence of any one about, to come in quest of Chih Neng.
As soon as he reached the room at the back, he espied Chih Neng all
alone inside washing the tea cups; and Ch'in Chung forthwith seized her
in his arms and implanted kisses on her cheek. Chih Neng got in a
dreadful state, and stamping her feet, cried, "What are you up to?" and
she was just on the point of shouting out, when Ch'in Chung rejoined:
"My dear girl! I'm nearly dead from impatience, and if you don't again
to-day accept my advances, I shall this very moment die on this spot."

"What you're bent upon," added Chih Neng, "can't be effected; not unless
you wait until I've left this den and parted company from these people,
when it will be safe enough."

"This is of course easy enough!" remonstrated Ch'in Chung; "but the
distant water cannot extinguish the close fire!"

As he spoke, with one puff, he put out the light, plunging the whole
room in pitch darkness; and seizing Chih Neng, he pushed her on to the
stove-couch and started a violent love affair. Chih Neng could not,
though she strained every nerve, escape his importunities; nor could she
very well shout, so that she felt compelled to humour him; but while he
was in the midst of his ecstatic joy, they perceived a person walk in,
who pressed both of them down, without uttering even so much as a sound,
and plunged them both in such a fright that their very souls flew away
and their spirits wandered from their bodies; and it was after the third
party had burst out laughing with a spurting sound that they eventually
became aware that it was Pao-y; when, springing to his feet
impetuously, Ch'in Chung exclaimed full of resentment, "What's this that
you're up to!"

"If you get your monkey up," retorted Pao-y, "why, then let you and I
start bawling out;" which so abashed Chih Neng that she availed herself
of the gloomy light to make her escape; while Pao-y had dragged Ch'in
Chung out of the room and asked, "Now then, do you still want to play
the bully!"

"My dear fellow," pleaded Ch'in Chung smilingly, "whatever you do don't
shout out and let every one know; and all you want, I'll agree to."

"We needn't argue just now," Pao-y observed with a grin; "wait a while,
and when all have gone to sleep, we can minutely settle accounts

Soon it was time to ease their clothes, and go to bed; and lady Feng
occupied the inner room; Ch'in Chung and Pao-y the outer; while the
whole ground was covered with matrons of the household, who had spread
their bedding, and sat watching. As lady Feng entertained fears that the
jade of Spiritual Perception might be lost, she waited until Pao-y fell
asleep, when having directed a servant to bring it to her, she placed it
under the side of her own pillow.

What accounts Pao-y settled with Ch'in Chung cannot be ascertained; and
as in the absence of any positive proof what is known is based upon
surmises, we shall not venture to place it on record.

Nothing worth noticing occurred the whole night; but the next day, as
soon as the morning dawned, dowager lady Chia and madame Wang promptly
despatched servants to come and see how Pao-y was getting on; and to
tell him likewise to put on two pieces of extra clothing, and that if
there was nothing to be done it would be better for him to go back.

But was it likely that Pao-y would be willing to go back? Besides Ch'in
Chung, in his inordinate passion for Chih Neng, instigated Pao-y to
entreat lady Feng to remain another day. Lady Feng pondered in her own
mind that, although the most important matters connected with the
funeral ceremonies had been settled satisfactorily, there were still a
few minor details, for which no provision had been made, so that could
she avail herself of this excuse to remain another day would she not win
from Chia Chen a greater degree of approbation, in the second place,
would she not be able further to bring Ch'ing Hs's business to an
issue, and, in the third place, to humour Pao-y's wish? In view of
these three advantages, which would accrue, "All that I had to do, I
have done," she readily signified to Pao-y, "and if you be bent upon
running about in here, you'll unavoidably place me in still greater
trouble; so that we must for certain start homewards to-morrow."

"My dear cousin, my own dear cousin," urgently entreated Pao-y, when he
heard these words, "let's stay only this one day, and to-morrow we can
go back without fail."

They actually spent another night there, and lady Feng availed herself
of their stay to give directions that the case which had been entrusted
to her the previous day by the old nun should be secretly communicated
to Lai Wang Erh. Lai Wang's mind grasped the import of all that was said
to him, and, having entered the city with all despatch, he went in
search of the gentleman, who acted as secretary (in Mr. Yn's office),
pretending that he had been directed by Mr. Chia Lien to come and ask
him to write a letter and to send it that very night to the Ch'ang An
magistrate. The distance amounted to no more than one hundred li, so
that in the space of two days everything was brought to a satisfactory
settlement. The general, whose name was Yn Kuang, had been for a long
time under obligations to the Chia family, so that he naturally could
not refuse his co-operation in such small trifles. When he had handed
his reply, Wang Erh started on his way back; where we shall leave him
and return to lady Feng.

Having spent another day, she on the morrow took leave of the old nun,
whom she advised to come to the mansion after the expiry of three days
to fetch a reply.

Ch'in Chung and Chih Neng could not, by any means, brook the separation,
and they secretly agreed to a clandestine assignation; but to these
details we need not allude with any minuteness; sufficient to say that
they had no alternative but to bear the anguish and to part.

Lady Feng crossed over again to the temple of the Iron Fence and
ascertained how things were progressing. But as Pao Chu was obstinate in
her refusal to return home, Chia Chen found himself under the necessity
of selecting a few servants to act as her companions. But the reader
must listen to what is said in the next chapter by way of explanation.


Chia Yuan-ch'un is, on account of her talents, selected to enter the
Feng Ts'ao Palace.
Ch'in Ching-ch'ing departs, in the prime of life, by the yellow spring

But we must now return to the two lads, Ch'in Chung and Pao-y. After
they had passed, along with lady Feng from the Temple of the Iron Fence,
whither she had gone to see how things were getting on, they entered the
city in their carriages. On their arrival at home, they paid their
obeisance to dowager lady Chia, madame Wang and the other members of the
family, whence they returned to their own quarters, where nothing worth
mentioning transpired during the night.

On the next day, Pao-y perceiving that the repairs to the outer
schoolroom had been completed, settled with Ch'in Chung that they should
have evening classes. But as it happened that Ch'in Chung, who was
naturally of an extremely delicate physique, caught somewhat of a chill
in the country and clandestinely indulged, besides, in an intimacy with
Chih Neng, which unavoidably made him fail to take good care of himself,
he was, shortly after his return, troubled with a cough and a feverish
cold, with nausea for drink and food, and fell into such an extremely
poor state of health that he simply kept indoors and nursed himself, and
was not in a fit condition to go to school. Pao-y's spirits were
readily damped, but as there was likewise no remedy he had no other
course than to wait until his complete recovery, before he could make
any arrangements.

Lady Feng had meanwhile received a reply from Yn Kuang, in which he
informed her that everything had been satisfactorily settled, and the
old nun apprised the Chang family that the major had actually suppressed
his indignation, hushed his complaints, and taken back the presents of
the previous engagement. But who would have ever anticipated that a
father and mother, whose hearts were set upon position and their
ambition upon wealth, could have brought up a daughter so conscious of
propriety and so full of feeling as to seize the first opportunity,
after she had heard that she had been withdrawn from her former
intended, and been promised to the Li family, to stealthily devise a way
to commit suicide, by means of a handkerchief. The son of the Major,
upon learning that Chin Ko had strangled herself, there and then jumped
into the river and drowned himself, as he too was a being full of love.
The Chang and Li families were, sad to relate, very much cut up, and, in
very truth, two lives and money had been sacrificed all to no use.

Lady Feng, however, during this while, quietly enjoyed the three
thousand taels, and madame Wang did not have even so much as the
faintest idea of the whole matter. But ever since this occasion, lady
Feng's audacity acquired more and more strength; and the actions of this
kind, which she, in after days, performed, defy enumeration.

One day, the very day on which Chia Cheng's birthday fell, while the
members of the two households of Ning and Jung were assembled together
offering their congratulations, and unusual bustle and stir prevailed, a
gatekeeper came in, at quite an unexpected moment, to announce that Mr.
Hsia, Metropolitan Head Eunuch of the six palaces, had come with the
special purpose of presenting an edict from his Majesty; a bit of news
which plunged Chia She, Chia Cheng and the whole company into great
consternation, as they could not make out what was up. Speedily
interrupting the theatrical performance, they had the banquet cleared,
and the altar laid out with incense, and opening the centre gate they
fell on their knees to receive the edict.

Soon they caught sight of the head eunuch, Hsia Ping-chung, advancing on
horseback, and besides himself, a considerable retinue of eunuchs. The
eunuch Hsia did not, in fact, carry any mandate or present any decree;
but straightway advancing as far as the main hall, he dismounted, and,
with a face beaming with smiles, he walked into the Hall and took his
stand on the southern side.

"I have had the honour," he said, "of receiving a special order to at
once summon Chia Cheng to present himself at Court and be admitted in
His Majesty's presence in the Lin Ching Hall."

When he had delivered this message, he did not so much as take any tea,
but forthwith mounted his horse and took his leave.

Chia Cheng and the others could not even conceive what omen this summons
implied, but he had no alternative but to change his clothes with all
haste and to present himself at Court, while dowager lady Chia and the
inmates of the whole household were, in their hearts, a prey to such
perplexity and uncertainty that they incessantly despatched messengers
on flying steeds to go and bring the news.

After the expiry of four hours, they suddenly perceived Lai Ta and three
or four other butlers run in, quite out of breath, through the
ceremonial gate and report the glad tidings. "We have received," they
added, "our master's commands, to hurriedly request her venerable
ladyship to take madame Wang and the other ladies into the Palace, to
return thanks for His Majesty's bounty;" and other words to the same

Dowager lady Chia was, at this time, standing, with agitated heart,
under the verandah of the Large Hall waiting for tidings, whilst the two
ladies, mesdames Hsing and Wang, Mrs. Yu, Li Wan, lady Feng, Ying Ch'un
and her sisters, even up to Mrs. Hseh and the rest, were congregated in
one place ascertaining what was the news. Old lady Chia likewise called
Lai Ta in and minutely questioned him as to what had happened. "Your
servants," replied Lai Ta, "simply stood waiting outside the Lin Chuang
gate, so that we were in total ignorance of what was going on inside,
when presently the Eunuch Hsia came out and imparted to us the glad
tidings; telling us that the eldest of the young ladies in our household
had been raised, by His Majesty, to be an overseer in the Feng Ts'ao
Palace, and that he had, in addition, conferred upon her the rank of
worthy and virtuous secondary consort. By and by, Mr. Chia Cheng came
out and also told us the same thing. Master is now gone back again to
the Eastern Palace, whither he requests your venerable ladyship to go at
once and offer thanks for the Imperial favour."

When old lady Chia and the other members of the family heard these
tidings they were at length reassured in their minds, and so elated were
they all in one moment that joy was visible in their very faces. Without
loss of time, they commenced to don the gala dresses suitable to their
rank; which done, old lady Chia led the way for the two ladies, mesdames
Hsing and Wang, as well as for Mrs. Yu; and their official chairs, four
of them in all, entered the palace like a trail of fish; while Chia She
and Chia Chen, who had likewise changed their clothes for their court
dress, took Chia Se and Chia Jung along and proceeded in attendance upon
dowager lady Chia.

Indeed, of the two households of Ning and Jung, there was not one,
whether high or low, woman or man, who was not in a high state of
exultation, with the exception of Pao-y, who behaved just as if the
news had not reached his ears; and can you, reader, guess why? The fact
is that Chih Neng, of the Water Moon Convent, had recently entered the
city in a surreptitious manner in search of Ch'in Chung; but, contrary
to expectation, her visit came to be known by Ch'in Yeh, who drove Chih
Neng away and laid hold of Ch'in Chung and gave him a flogging. But this
outburst of temper of his brought about a relapse of his old complaint,
with the result that in three or five days, he, sad to say, succumbed.
Ch'in Chung had himself ever been in a delicate state of health and had
besides received a caning before he had got over his sickness, so that
when he now saw his aged father pass away from the consequences of a fit
of anger, he felt, at this stage, so full of penitence and distress that
the symptoms of his illness were again considerably aggravated. Hence it
was that Pao-y was downcast and unhappy at heart, and that nothing
could, in spite of the promotion of Yuan Ch'un by imperial favour,
dispel the depression of his spirits.

Dowager lady Chia and the rest in due course offered thanks and returned
home, the relatives and friends came to present their congratulations,
great stir and excitement prevailed during these few days in the two
mansions of Ning and Jung, and every one was in high glee; but he alone
looked upon everything as if it were nothing; taking not the least
interest in anything; and as this reason led the whole family to sneer
at him, the result was that he got more and more doltish.

Luckily, however, Chia Lien and Tai-y were on their way back, and had
despatched messengers, in advance, to announce the news that they would
be able to reach home the following day, so that when Pao-y heard the
tidings, he was at length somewhat cheered. And when he came to
institute minute inquiries, he eventually found out: "that Chia Y-ts'un
was also coming to the capital to have an audience with His Majesty,
that it was entirely because Wang Tzu-t'eng had repeatedly laid before
the Throne memorials recommending him that he was coming on this
occasion to wait in the metropolis for a vacancy which he could fill up;
that as he was a kinsman of Chia Lien's, acknowledging the same
ancestors as he did, and he stood, on the other hand, with Tai-y, in
the relationship of tutor and pupil, he was in consequence following the
same road and coming as their companion; that Lin Ju-hai had already
been buried in the ancestral vault, and that every requirement had been
attended to with propriety; that Chia Lien, on this voyage to the
capital, would, had he progressed by the ordinary stages, have been over
a month before he could reach home, but that when he came to hear the
good news about Yuan Ch'un, he pressed on day and night to enter the
capital; and that the whole journey had been throughout, in every
respect, both pleasant and propitious."

But Pao-y merely ascertained whether Tai-y was all right, and did not
even so much as trouble his mind with the rest of what he heard; and he
remained on the tiptoe of expectation, till noon of the morrow; when, in
point of fact, it was announced that Mr. Lien, together with Miss Lin,
had made their entrance into the mansion. When they came face to face,
grief and joy vied with each other; and they could not help having a
good cry for a while; after which followed again expressions of sympathy
and congratulations; while Pao-y pondered within himself that Tai-y
had become still more surpassingly handsome.

Tai-y had also brought along with her a good number of books, and she
promptly gave orders that the sleeping rooms should be swept, and that
the various nicknacks should be put in their proper places. She further
produced a certain quantity of paper, pencils and other such things, and
distributed them among Pao Ch'ai, Ying Ch'un, Pao-y and the rest; and
Pao-y also brought out, with extreme care, the string of Ling-ling
scented beads, which had been given to him by the Prince of Pei Ching,
and handed them, in his turn, to Tai-y as a present.

"What foul man has taken hold of them?" exclaimed Tai-y. "I don't want
any such things;" and as she forthwith dashed them down, and would not
accept them, Pao-y was under the necessity of taking them back. But for
the time being we will not allude to them, but devote our attention to
Chia Lien.

Having, after his arrival home, paid his salutations to all the inmates,
he retired to his own quarters at the very moment that lady Feng had
multifarious duties to attend to, and had not even a minute to spare;
but, considering that Chia Lien had returned from a distant journey, she
could not do otherwise than put by what she had to do, and to greet him
and wait on him.

"Imperial uncle," she said, in a jocose manner, when she realised that
there was no outsider present in the room, "I congratulate you! What
fatigue and hardship you, Imperial uncle, have had to bear throughout
the whole journey, your humble servant heard yesterday, when the courier
sent ahead came and announced that Your Highness would this day reach
this mansion. I have merely got ready a glass of mean wine for you to
wipe down the dust with, but I wonder, whether Your Highness will deign
to bestow upon it the lustre of your countenance, and accept it."

Chia Lien smiled. "How dare I presume to such an honour," he added by
way of rejoinder; "I'm unworthy of such attention! Many thanks, many

P'ing Erh and the whole company of waiting-maids simultaneously paid
their obeisance to him, and this ceremony concluded, they presented tea.
Chia Lien thereupon made inquiries about the various matters, which had
transpired in their home after his departure, and went on to thank lady
Feng for all the trouble she had taken in the management of them.

"How could I control all these manifold matters," remarked lady Feng;
"my experience is so shallow, my speech so dull and my mind so simple,
that if any one showed me a club, I would mistake it for a pin. Besides,
I'm so tender-hearted that were any one to utter a couple of glib
remarks, I couldn't help feeling my heart give way to compassion and
sympathy. I've had, in addition, no experience in any weighty questions;
my pluck is likewise so very small that when madame Wang has felt in the
least displeased, I have not been able to close my eyes and sleep.
Urgently did I more than once resign the charge, but her ladyship
wouldn't again agree to it; maintaining, on the contrary, that my object
was to be at ease, and that I was not willing to reap experience.
Leaving aside that she doesn't know that I take things so much to heart,
that I can scoop the perspiration in handfuls, that I daren't utter one
word more than is proper, nor venture to recklessly take one step more
than I ought to, you know very well which of the women servants, in
charge of the menage in our household, is easy to manage! If ever I make
the slightest mistake, they laugh at me and poke fun at me; and if I
incline a little one way, they show their displeasure by innuendoes;
they sit by and look on, they use every means to do harm, they stir up
trouble, they stand by on safe ground and look on and don't give a
helping hand to lift any one they have thrown over, and they are, one
and all of them, old hands in such tricks. I'm moreover young in years
and not able to keep people in check, so that they naturally don't show
any regard for me! What is still more ridiculous is that after the death
of Jung Erh's wife in that mansion, brother Chen, time and again, begged
madame Wang, on his very knees, to do him the favour to ask me to lend
him a hand for several days. I repeatedly signified my refusal, but her
ladyship gave her consent in order to oblige him, so that I had no help
but to carry out her wish; putting, as is my wont, everything
topsy-turvey, and making matters worse than they were; with the result
that brother Chen up to this day bears me a grudge and regrets having
asked for my assistance. When you see him to-morrow, do what you can to
excuse me by him. 'Young as she is,' tell him, 'and without experience
of the world, who ever could have instigated Mr. Chia Cheng to make such
a mistake as to choose her.'"

While they were still chatting, they heard people talking in the outer
apartments, and lady Feng speedily inquired who it was. P'ing Erh
entered the room to reply. "Lady Hseh," she said, "has sent sister
Hsiang Ling over to ask me something; but I've already given her my
answer and sent her back."

"Quite so," interposed Chia Lien with a smile. "A short while ago I went
to look up Mrs. Hseh and came face to face with a young girl, whose
features were supremely perfect, and as I suspected that, in our
household, there was no such person, I asked in the course of
conversation, Mrs. Hseh about her, and found out eventually that this
was the young waiting-maid they had purchased on their way to the
capital, Hsiang Ling by name, and that she had after all become an
inmate of the household of that big fool Hseh. Since she's had her hair
dressed as a married woman she does look so much more pre-eminently
beautiful! But that big fool Hseh has really brought contamination upon

"Ai!" exclaimed lady Feng, "here you are back from a trip to Suchow and
Hang Chow, where you should have seen something of the world! and have
you still an eye as envious and a heart so covetous? Well, if you wish
to bestow your love on her, there's no difficulty worth speaking of.
I'll take P'ing Erh over and exchange her for her; what do you say to
that? that old brother Hseh is also one of those men, who, while eating
what there is in the bowl, keeps an eye on what there is in the pan! For
the last year or so, as he couldn't get Hsiang Ling to be his, he made
ever so many distressing appeals to Mrs. Hseh; and Mrs. Hseh while
esteeming Hsiang Ling's looks, though fine, as after all a small matter,
(thought) her deportment and conduct so far unlike those of other girls,
so gentle and so demure that almost the very daughters of masters and
mistresses couldn't attain her standard, that she therefore went to the
trouble of spreading a banquet, and of inviting guests, and in open
court, and in the legitimate course, she gave her to him for a secondary
wife. But half a month had scarcely elapsed before he looked upon her
also as a good-for-nothing person as he did upon a large number of them!
I can't however help feeling pity for her in my heart."

Scarcely had she time to conclude what she had to say when a youth, on
duty at the second gate, transmitted the announcement that Mr. Chia
Cheng was in the Library waiting for Mr. Secundus. At these words, Chia
Lien speedily adjusted his clothes, and left the apartment; and during
his absence, lady Feng inquired of P'ing Erh what Mrs. Hseh wanted a
few minutes back, that she sent Hsiang Ling round in such a hurry.

"What Hsiang Ling ever came?" replied P'ing Erh. "I simply made use of
her name to tell a lie for the occasion. Tell me, my lady, (what's come
to) Wang Erh's wife? why she's got so bad that there's even no common
sense left in her!" Saying this she again drew near lady Feng's side,
and in a soft tone of voice, she continued: "That interest of yours, my
lady, she doesn't send later, nor does she send it sooner; but she must
send it round the very moment when master Secundus is at home! But as
luck would have it, I was in the hall, so that I came across her;
otherwise, she would have walked in and told your ladyship, and Mr.
Secundus would naturally have come to know about it! And our master
would, with that frame of mind of his, have fished it out and spent it,
had the money even been at the bottom of a pan full of oil! and were he
to have heard that my lady had private means, would he not have been
still more reckless in spending? Hence it was that, losing no time in
taking the money over, I had to tell her a few words which, who would
have thought, happened to be overheard by your ladyship; that's why, in
the presence of master Secundus, I simply explained that Hsiang Ling had

These words evoked a smile from lady Feng. "Mrs. Hsueh, I thought to
myself," she observed, "knows very well that your Mr. Secundus has come,
and yet, regardless of propriety, she, instead (of keeping her at home),
sends some one over from her inner rooms! and it was you after all, you
vixen, playing these pranks!"

As she uttered this remark, Chia Lien walked in, and lady Feng issued
orders to serve the wine and the eatables, and husband and wife took
their seats opposite to each other; but notwithstanding that lady Feng
was very partial to drink, she nevertheless did not have the courage to
indulge her weakness, but merely partook of some to keep him company.
Chia Lien's nurse, dame Chao, entered the room, and Chia Lien and lady
Feng promptly pressed her to have a glass of wine, and bade her sit on
the stove-couch, but dame Chao was obstinate in her refusal. P'ing Erh
and the other waiting-maids had at an early hour placed a square stool
next to the edge of the couch, where was likewise a small footstool, and
on this footstool dame Chao took a seat, whereupon Chia Lien chose two
dishes of delicacies from the table, which he handed her to place on the
square stool for her own use.

"Dame Chao," lady Feng remarked, "couldn't very well bite through that,
for mind it might make her teeth drop! This morning," she therefore
asked of P'ing Erh, "I suggested that that shoulder of pork stewed with
ham was so tender as to be quite the thing to be given to dame Chao to
eat; and how is it you haven't taken it over to her? But go at once and
tell them to warm it and bring it in! Dame Chao," she went on, "just you
taste this Hui Ch'an wine brought by your foster-son."

"I'll drink it," replied dame Chao, "but you, my lady, must also have a
cup: what's there to fear? the one thing to guard against is any excess,
that's all! But I've now come over, not for any wine or eatables; on the
contrary, there's a serious matter, which I would ask your ladyship to
impress on your mind, and to show me some regard, for this master of
ours is only good to utter fine words, but when the time (to act) does
come, he forgets all about us! As I have had the good fortune to nurse
him in his infancy and to bring him up to this age, 'I too have grown
old in years,' I said to him, 'and all that belong to me are those two
sons, and do look upon them with some particular favour!' With any one
else I shouldn't have ventured to open my mouth, but him I anyway
entreated time and again on several occasions. His assent was of course
well and good, but up to this very moment he still withholds his help.
Now besides from the heavens has dropped such a mighty piece of good
luck; and in what place will there be no need of servants? that's why I
come to tell you, my lady, as is but right, for were I to depend upon
our master, I fear I shall even die of starvation."

Lady Feng laughed. "You'd better," she suggested, "put those two elder
foster brothers of his both under my charge! But you've nursed that
foster-son from his babyhood, and don't you yet know that disposition of
his, how that he takes his skin and flesh and sticks it, (not on the
body of a relative), but, on the contrary, on that of an outsider and
stranger? (to Chia Lien.) Which of those foster brothers whom you have
now discarded, isn't clearly better than others? and were you to have
shown them some favour and consideration, who would have ventured to
have said 'don't?' Instead of that, you confer benefits upon thorough
strangers, and all to no purpose whatever! But these words of mine are
also incorrect, eh? for those whom we regard as strangers you,
contrariwise, will treat just as if they were relatives!"

At these words every one present in the room burst out laughing; even
nurse Chao could not repress herself; and as she invoked Buddha,--"In
very truth," she exclaimed, "in this room has sprung up a kind-hearted
person! as regards relatives and strangers, such foolish distinctions
aren't drawn by our master; and it's simply because he's full of pity
and is tenderhearted that he can't put off any one who gives vent to a
few words of entreaty, and nothing else!"

"That's quite it!" rejoined lady Feng smiling sarcastically, "to those
whom he looks upon as relatives, he's kindhearted, but with me and his
mother he's as hard as steel."

"What you say, my lady, is very considerate," remarked nurse Chao, "and
I'm really so full of delight that I'll have another glass of good wine!
and, if from this time forward, your ladyship will act as you think
best, I'll have then nothing to be sorry for!"

Chia Lien did not at this juncture feel quite at his ease, but he could
do no more than feign a smile. "You people," he said, "should leave off
talking nonsense, and bring the eatables at once and let us have our
meal, as I have still to go on the other side and see Mr. Chia Chen, to
consult with him about business."

"To be sure you have," ventured lady Feng, "and you shouldn't neglect
your legitimate affairs; but what did Mr. Chia Chen tell you when he
sent for you just a while back?"

"It was about the visit (of Yuan Ch'un) to her parents," Chia Lien

"Has after all permission for the visit been granted?" lady Feng
inquired with alacrity.

"Though not quite granted," Chia Lien replied joyously, "it's
nevertheless more or less an accomplished fact."

"This is indeed evidence of the great bounty of the present Emperor!"
lady Feng observed smirkingly; "one doesn't hear in books, or see in
plays, written from time to time, any mention of such an instance, even
so far back as the days of old!"

Dame Chao took up again the thread of the conversation. "Indeed it's
so!" she interposed; "But I'm in very truth quite stupid from old age,
for I've heard every one, high and low, clamouring during these few
days, something or other about 'Hsing Ch'in' or no 'Hsing Ch'in,' but I
didn't really pay any heed to it; and now again, here's something more
about this 'Hsing Ch'in,' but what's it all about, I wonder?"

"The Emperor at present on the Throne," explained Chia Lien, "takes into
consideration the feelings of his people. In the whole world, there is
(in his opinion), no more essential thing than filial piety; maintaining
that the feelings of father, mother, son and daughter are
indiscriminately subject to one principle, without any distinction
between honorable and mean. The present Emperor himself day and night
waits upon their majesties his Father and the Empress Dowager, and yet
cannot, in the least degree, carry out to the full his ideal of filial
piety. The secondary consorts, meritorious persons and other inmates of
the Palace, he remembered, had entered within its precincts many years
back, casting aside fathers and mothers, so how could they not help
thinking of them? Besides, the fathers and mothers, who remain at home
must long for their daughters, of whom they cannot get even so much as a
glimpse, and if, through this solicitude, they were to contract any
illness, the harmony of heaven would also be seriously impaired, so for
this reason, he memorialised the Emperor, his father, and the Empress
Dowager that every month, on the recurrence of the second and sixth
days, permission should be accorded to the relatives of the imperial
consorts to enter the palace and make application to see their
daughters. The Emperor, his father, and Empress Dowager were, forthwith,
much delighted by this representation, and eulogised, in high terms, the
piety and generosity of the present Emperor, his regard for the will of
heaven and his research into the nature of things. Both their sacred
Majesties consequently also issued a decree to the effect: that the
entrance of the relatives of the imperial consorts into the Palace could
not but interfere with the dignity of the state, and the rules of
conventional rites, but that as the mothers and daughters could not
gratify the wishes of their hearts, Their Majesties would, after all,
show a high proof of expedient grace, and issue a special command that:
'exclusive of the generous bounty, by virtue of which the worthy
relations of the imperial consorts could enter the palace on the second
and sixth days, any family, having extensive accommodation and separate
courts suitable for the cantonment of the imperial body-guard, could,
without any detriment, make application to the Inner Palace, for the
entrance of the imperial chair into the private residences, to the end
that the personal feelings of relations might be gratified, and that
they should collectively enjoy the bliss of a family reunion.' After the
issue of this decree, who did not leap from grateful joy! The father of
the honourable secondary consort Chou has now already initiated works,
in his residence, for the repairs to the separate courts necessary for
the visiting party. Wu T'ien-yu too, the father of Wu, the distinguished
consort, has likewise gone outside the city walls in search of a
suitable plot of ground; and don't these amount to well-nigh
accomplished facts?"

"O-mi-to-fu!" exclaimed dame Chao. "Is it really so? but from what you
say, our family will also be making preparations for the reception of
the eldest young lady!"

"That goes without saying," added Chia Lien, "otherwise, for what
purpose could we be in such a stir just now?"

"It's of course so!" interposed lady Feng smiling, "and I shall now have
an opportunity of seeing something great of the world. My misfortune is
that I'm young by several years; for had I been born twenty or thirty
years sooner, all these old people wouldn't really be now treating me
contemptuously for not having seen the world! To begin with, the Emperor
Tai Tsu, in years gone by, imitated the old policy of Shun, and went on
a tour, giving rise to more stir than any book could have ever produced;
but I happen to be devoid of that good fortune which could have enabled
me to come in time."

"Ai ya, ya!" ejaculated dame Chao, "such a thing is rarely met with in a
thousand years! I was old enough at that time to remember the
occurrence! Our Chia family was then at Ku Su, Yangchow and all along
that line, superintending the construction of ocean vessels, and the
repairs to the seaboard. This was the only time in which preparations
were made for the reception of the Emperor, and money was lavished in
quantities as great as the billowing waters of the sea!"

This subject once introduced, lady Feng took up the thread of the
conversation with vehemence. "Our Wang family," she said, "did also make
preparations on one occasion. At that time my grandfather was in sole
charge of all matters connected with tribute from various states, as
well as with general leves, so that whenever any foreigners arrived,
they all came to our house to be entertained, while the whole of the
goods, brought by foreign vessels from the two Kuang provinces, from
Fukien, Yunnan and Chekiang, were the property of our family."

"Who isn't aware of these facts?" ventured dame Chao; "there is up to
this day a saying that, 'in the eastern sea, there was a white jade bed
required, and the dragon prince came to request Mr. Wang of Chin Ling
(to give it to him)!' This saying relates to your family, my lady, and
remains even now in vogue. The Chen family of Chiang Nan has recently
held, oh such a fine old standing! it alone has entertained the Emperor
on four occasions! Had we not seen these things with our own eyes, were
we to tell no matter whom, they wouldn't surely ever believe them! Not
to speak of the money, which was as plentiful as mud, all things,
whether they were to be found in the world or not, were they not heaped
up like hills, and collected like the waters of the sea? But with the
four characters representing sin and pity they didn't however trouble
their minds."

"I've often heard," continued lady Feng, "my eldest uncle say that
things were in such a state, and how couldn't I believe? but what
surprises me is how it ever happened that this family attained such
opulence and honour!"

"I'll tell your ladyship and all in one sentence," replied nurse Chao.
"Why they simply took the Emperor's money and spent it for the Emperor's
person, that's all! for what family has such a lot of money as to
indulge in this useless extravagance?"

While they were engaged in this conversation, a servant came a second
time, at the instance of madame Wang, to see whether lady Feng had
finished her meal or not; and lady Feng forthwith concluding that there
must be something waiting for her to attend to, hurriedly rushed through
her repast. She had just rinsed her mouth and was about to start when
the youths, on duty at the second gate, also reported that the two
gentlemen, Mr. Chia Jung and Mr. Chia Se, belonging to the Eastern
mansion, had arrived.

Chia Lien had, at length, rinsed his mouth; but while P'ing Erh
presented a basin for him to wash his hands, he perceived the two young
men walk in, and readily inquired of them what they had to say.

Lady Feng was, on account (of their arrival), likewise compelled to
stay, and she heard Chia Jung take the lead and observe: "My father has
sent me to tell you, uncle, that the gentlemen, have already decided
that the whole extent of ground, starting from the East side, borrowing
(for the occasion) the flower garden of the Eastern mansion, straight up
to the North West, had been measured and found to amount in all to three
and a half li; that it will be suitable for the erection of extra
accommodation for the visiting party; that they have already
commissioned an architect to draw a plan, which will be ready by
to-morrow; that as you, uncle, have just returned home, and must
unavoidably feel fatigued, you need not go over to our house, but that
if you have anything to say you should please come tomorrow morning, as
early as you can, and consult verbally with him."

"Thank uncle warmly," Chia Lien rejoined smilingly, "for the trouble he
has taken in thinking of me; I shall, in that case, comply with his
wishes and not go over. This plan is certainly the proper one, for while
trouble will thus be saved, the erection of the quarters will likewise
be an easy matter; for had a distinct plot to be selected and to be
purchased, it would involve far greater difficulties. What's more,
things wouldn't, after all, be what they properly should be. When you
get back, tell your father that this decision is the right one, and that
should the gentlemen have any further wish to introduce any change in
their proposals, it will rest entirely with my uncle to prevent them, as
it's on no account advisable to go and cast one's choice on some other
plot; that to-morrow as soon as it's daylight, I'll come and pay my
respects to uncle, when we can enter into further details in our

Chia Jung hastily signified his assent by several yes's, and Chia Se
also came forward to deliver his message. "The mission to Ku Su," he
explained, "to find tutors, to purchase servant girls, and to obtain
musical instruments, and theatrical properties and the like, my uncle
has confided to me; and as I'm to take along with me the two sons of a
couple of majordomos, and two companions of the family, besides, Tan
P'ing-jen and Pei Ku-hsiu, he has, for this reason, enjoined me to come
and see you, uncle."

Upon hearing this, Chia Lien scrutinised Chia Se. "What!" he asked, "are
you able to undertake these commissions? These matters are, it's true,
of no great moment; but there's something more hidden in them!"

Chia Se smiled. "The best thing I can do," he remarked, "will be to
execute them in my novice sort of way, that's all."

Chia Jung was standing next to lady Feng, out of the light of the lamp,
and stealthily pulled the lapel of her dress. Lady Feng understood the
hint, and putting on a smiling expression, "You are too full of fears!"
she interposed. "Is it likely that our uncle Chen doesn't, after all,
know better than we do what men to employ, that you again give way to
apprehensions that he isn't up to the mark! but who are those who are,
in every respect, up to the mark? These young fellows have grown up
already to this age, and if they haven't eaten any pork, they have
nevertheless seen a pig run. If Mr. Chen has deputed him to go, he is
simply meant to sit under the general's standard; and do you imagine,
forsooth, that he has, in real earnest, told him to go and bargain about
the purchase money, and to interview the brokers himself? My own idea is
that (the choice) is a very good one."

"Of course it is!" observed Chia Lien; "but it isn't that I entertain
any wish to be factious; my only object is to devise some plan or other
for him. Whence will," he therefore went on to ask, "the money required
for this purpose come from?"

"A little while ago the deliberations reached this point," rejoined Chia
Se; "and Mr. Lai suggested that there was no necessity at all to take
any funds from the capital, as the Chen family, in Chiang Nan, had still
in their possession Tls. 50,000 of our money. That he would to-morrow
write a letter of advice and a draft for us to take along, and that we
should, first of all, obtain cash to the amount of Tls. 30,000, and let
the balance of Tls. 20,000 remain over, for the purchase of painted
lanterns, and coloured candles, as well as for the outlay for every kind
of portieres, banners, curtains and streamers."

Chia Lien nodded his head. "This plan is first-rate!" he added.

"Since that be so," observed lady Feng, as she addressed herself to Chia
Se, "I've two able and reliable men; and if you would take them with
you, to attend to these matters, won't it be to your convenience?"

Chia Se forced a smile. "I was just on the point," he rejoined, "of
asking you, aunt, for the loan of two men, so that this suggestion is a
strange coincidence."

As he went on to ascertain what were their names, lady Feng inquired
what they were of nurse Chao. But nurse Chao had, by this time, become
quite dazed from listening to the conversation, and P'ing Erh had to
give her a push, as she smiled, before she returned to consciousness.
"The one," she hastened to reply, "is called Chao T'ien-liang and the
other Chao T'ien-tung."

"Whatever you do," suggested lady Feng, "don't forget them; but now I'm
off to look after my duties."

With these words, she left the room, and Chia Jung promptly followed her
out, and with gentle voice he said to her: "Of whatever you want, aunt,
issue orders that a list be drawn up, and I'll give it to my brother to
take with him, and he'll carry out your commissions according to the

"Don't talk nonsense!" replied lady Feng laughing; "I've found no place,
as yet, where I could put away all my own things; and do the stealthy
practices of you people take my fancy?"

As she uttered these words she straightway went her way.

Chia Se, at this time, likewise, asked Chia Lien: "If you want anything
(in the way of curtains), I can conveniently have them woven for you,
along with the rest, and bring them as a present to you."

"Don't be in such high glee!" Chia Lien urged with a grin, "you've but
recently been learning how to do business, and have you come first and
foremost to excel in tricks of this kind? If I require anything, I'll of
course write and tell you, but we needn't talk about it."

Having finished speaking, he dismissed the two young men; and, in quick
succession, servants came to make their business reports, not limited to
three and five companies, but as Chia Lien felt exhausted, he forthwith
sent word to those on duty at the second gate not to allow any one at
all to communicate any reports, and that the whole crowd should wait
till the next day, when he would give his mind to what had to be done.

Lady Feng did not come to retire to rest till the third watch; but
nothing need be said about the whole night.

The next morning, at an early hour, Chia Lien got up and called on Chia
She and Chia Cheng; after which, he came over to the Ning Kuo mansion;
when, in company with the old major-domos and other servants, as well as
with several old family friends and companions, he inspected the grounds
of the two mansions, and drew plans of the palatial buildings (for the
accommodation of the Imperial consort and her escort) on her visit to
her parents; deliberating at the same time, on the subject of the works
and workmen.

From this day the masons and workmen of every trade were collected to
the full number; and the articles of gold, silver, copper, and pewter,
as well as the earth, timber, tiles, and bricks, were brought over, and
carried in, in incessant supplies. In the first place, orders were
issued to the workmen to demolish the wall and towers of the garden of
Concentrated Fragrance, and extend a passage to connect in a straight
line with the large court in the East of the Jung mansion; for the whole
extent of servants' quarters on the Eastern side of the Jung mansion had
previously been pulled down.

The two residences of Ning and Jung were, in these days, it is true,
divided by a small street, which served as a boundary line, and there
was no communication between them, but this narrow passage was also
private property, and not in any way a government street, so that they
could easily be connected, and as in the garden of Concentrated
Fragrance, there was already a stream of running water, which had been
introduced through the corner of the Northern wall, there was no further
need now of going to the trouble of bringing in another. Although the
rockeries and trees were not sufficient, the place where Chia She lived,
was an old garden of the Jung mansion, so that the bamboos, trees, and
rockeries in that compound, as well as the arbours, railings and other
such things could all be very well removed to the front; and by these
means, these two grounds, situated as they were besides so very near to
each other, could, by being thrown into one, conduce to the saving of
considerable capital and labour; for, in spite of some deficiency, what
had to be supplied did not amount to much. And it devolved entirely upon
a certain old Hu, a man of note, styled Shan Tzu-yeh, to deliberate upon
one thing after another, and to initiate its construction.

Chia Cheng was not up to these ordinary matters, so that it fell to Chia
She, Chia Chen, Chia Lien, Lai Ta, Lai Sheng, Lin Chih-hsiao, Wu
Hsin-teng, Chan Kuang, Ch'eng Jih-hsing and several others to allot the
sites, to set things in order, (and to look after) the heaping up of
rockeries, the digging of ponds, the construction of two-storied
buildings, the erection of halls, the plantation of bamboos and the
cultivation of flowers, everything connected with the improvement of the
scenery devolving, on the other hand, upon Shan Tzu-yeh to make
provision for, and after leaving Court, he would devote such leisure
moments as he had to merely going everywhere to give a look at the most
important spots, and to consult with Chia She and the others; after
which he troubled his mind no more with anything. And as Chia She did
nothing else than stay at home and lie off, whenever any matter turned
up, trifling though it may have been as a grain of mustard seed or a
bean, Chia Chen and his associates had either to go and report it in
person or to write a memorandum of it. Or if he had anything to say, he
sent for Chia Lien, Lai Ta and others to come and receive his
instructions. Chia Jung had the sole direction of the manufacture of the
articles in gold and silver; and as for Chia Se, he had already set out
on his journey to Ku Su. Chia Chen, Lai Ta and the rest had also to call
out the roll with the names of the workmen, to superintend the works and
other duties relative thereto, which could not be recorded by one pen
alone; sufficient to say that a great bustle and stir prevailed, but to
this subject we shall not refer for a time, but allude to Pao-y.

As of late there were in the household concerns of this magnitude to
attend to, Chia Cheng did not come to examine him in his lessons, so
that he was, of course, in high spirits, but, as unfortunately Ch'in
Chung's complaint became, day by day, more serious, he was at the same
time really so very distressed at heart on his account, that enjoyment
was for him out of the question.

On this day, he got up as soon as it was dawn, and having just combed
his hair and washed his face and hands, he was bent upon going to ask
dowager lady Chia to allow him to pay a visit to Ch'in Chung, when he
suddenly espied Ming Yen peep round the curtain-wall at the second gate,
and then withdraw his head. Pao-y promptly walked out and inquired what
he was up to.

"Mr. Ch'in Chung," observed Ming Yen, "is not well at all."

Pao-y at these words was quite taken aback. "It was only yesterday," he
hastily added, "that I saw him, and he was still bright and cheery; and
how is it that he's anything but well now?"

"I myself can't explain," replied Ming Yen; "but just a few minutes ago
an old man belonging to his family came over with the express purpose of
giving me the tidings."

Upon hearing this news, Pao-y there and then turned round and told
dowager lady Chia; and the old lady issued directions to depute some
trustworthy persons to accompany him. "Let him go," (she said), "and
satisfy his feelings towards his fellow-scholar; but as soon as he has
done, he must come back; and don't let him tarry too long."

Pao-y with hurried step left the room and came and changed his clothes.
But as on his arrival outside, the carriage had not as yet been got
ready, he fell into such a state of excitement, that he went round and
round all over the hall in quite an erratic manner. In a short while,
after pressure had been brought to bear, the carriage arrived, and
speedily mounting the vehicle, he drove up to the door of Ch'in Chung's
house, followed by Li Kuei, Ming Yen and the other servants. Everything
was quiet. Not a soul was about. Like a hive of bees they flocked into
the house, to the astonishment of two distant aunts, and of several male
cousins of Ch'in Chung, all of whom had no time to effect their retreat.

Ch'in Chung had, by this time, had two or three fainting fits, and had
already long ago been changed his mat. As soon as Pao-y realised the
situation, he felt unable to repress himself from bursting forth aloud.
Li Kuei promptly reasoned with him. "You shouldn't go on in this way,"
he urged, "you shouldn't. It's because Mr. Ch'in is so weak that lying
flat on the stove-couch naturally made his bones feel uncomfortable; and
that's why he has temporarily been removed down here to ease him a
little. But if you, sir, go on in this way, will you not, instead of
doing him any good, aggravate his illness?"

At these words, Pao-y accordingly restrained himself, and held his
tongue; and drawing near, he gazed at Ch'in Chung's face, which was as
white as wax, while with closed eyes, he gasped for breath, rolling
about on his pillow.

"Brother Ching," speedily exclaimed Pao-y, "Pao-y is here!" But though
he shouted out two or three consecutive times, Ch'in Chung did not heed

"Pao-y has come!" Pao-y went on again to cry. But Ch'in Chung's spirit
had already departed from his body, leaving behind only a faint breath
of superfluous air in his lungs.

He had just caught sight of a number of recording devils, holding a
warrant and carrying chains, coming to seize him, but Ch'in Chung's soul
would on no account go along with them; and remembering how that there
was in his home no one to assume the direction of domestic affairs, and
feeling concerned that Chih Neng had as yet no home, he consequently
used hundreds of arguments in his entreaties to the recording devils;
but alas! these devils would, none of them, show him any favour. On the
contrary, they heaped invectives upon Ch'in Chung.

"You're fortunate enough to be a man of letters," they insinuated, "and
don't you know the common saying that: 'if the Prince of Hell call upon
you to die at the third watch, who can presume to retain you, a human
being, up to the fifth watch?' In our abode, in the unseen, high as well
as low, have all alike a face made of iron, and heed not selfish
motives; unlike the mortal world, where favouritism and partiality
prevail. There exist therefore many difficulties in the way (to our
yielding to your wishes)."

While this fuss was going on, Ch'in Chung's spirit suddenly grasped the
four words, "Pao-y has come," and without loss of time, it went on
again to make further urgent appeals. "Gentlemen, spiritual deputies,"
it exclaimed; "show me a little mercy and allow me to return to make
just one remark to an intimate friend of mine, and I'll be back again."

"What intimate friend is this again?" the devils observed with one

"I'm not deceiving you, gentlemen," rejoined Ch'in Chung; "it's the
grandson of the duke of Jung Kuo, whose infant name is Pao-y."

The Decider of life was, at first, upon hearing these words, so seized
with dismay that he vehemently abused the devils sent on the errand.

"I told you," he shouted, "to let him go back for a turn; but you would
by no means comply with my words! and now do you wait until he has
summoned a man of glorious fortune and prosperous standing to at last

When the company of devils perceived the manner of the Decider of life,
they were all likewise so seized with consternation that they bustled
with hand and feet; while with hearts also full of resentment: "You,
sir," they replied, "were at one time such a terror, formidable as
lightning; and are you not forsooth able to listen with equanimity to
the two sounds of 'Pao-y?' our humble idea is that mortal as he is, and
immortal as we are, it wouldn't be to our credit if we feared him!"

But whether Ch'in Chung, after all, died or survived, the next chapter
will explain.


In the Ta Kuan Garden, (Broad Vista,) the merits of Pao-y are put to
the test, by his being told to write devices for scrolls and
Yuan Ch'un returns to the Jung Kuo mansion, on a visit to her parents,
and offers her congratulations to them on the feast of lanterns,
on the fifteenth of the first moon.

Ch'in Chung, to resume our story, departed this life, and Pao-y went on
so unceasingly in his bitter lamentations, that Li Kuei and the other
servants had, for ever so long, an arduous task in trying to comfort him
before he desisted; but on his return home he was still exceedingly

Dowager lady Chia afforded monetary assistance to the amount of several
tens of taels; and exclusive of this, she had sacrificial presents
likewise got ready. Pao-y went and paid a visit of condolence to the
family, and after seven days the funeral and burial took place, but
there are no particulars about them which could be put on record.

Pao-y, however, continued to mourn (his friend) from day to day, and
was incessant in his remembrance of him, but there was likewise no help
for it. Neither is it known after how many days he got over his grief.

On this day, Chia Chen and the others came to tell Chia Cheng that the
works in the garden had all been reported as completed, and that Mr.
Chia She had already inspected them. "It only remains," (they said),
"for you, sir, to see them; and should there possibly be anything which
is not proper, steps will be at once taken to effect the alterations, so
that the tablets and scrolls may conveniently be written."

After Chia Cheng had listened to these words, he pondered for a while.
"These tablets and scrolls," he remarked, "present however a difficult
task. According to the rites, we should, in order to obviate any
shortcoming, request the imperial consort to deign and compose them; but
if the honourable consort does not gaze upon the scenery with her own
eyes, it will also be difficult for her to conceive its nature and
indite upon it! And were we to wait until the arrival of her highness,
to request her to honour the grounds with a visit, before she composes
the inscriptions, such a wide landscape, with so many pavilions and
arbours, will, without one character in the way of a motto, albeit it
may abound with flowers, willows, rockeries, and streams, nevertheless
in no way be able to show off its points of beauty to advantage."

The whole party of family companions, who stood by, smiled. "Your views,
remarkable sir," they ventured, "are excellent; but we have now a
proposal to make. Tablets and scrolls for every locality cannot, on any
account, be dispensed with, but they could not likewise, by any means,
be determined upon for good! Were now, for the time being, two, three or
four characters fixed upon, harmonising with the scenery, to carry out,
for form's sake, the idea, and were they provisionally utilised as
mottoes for the lanterns, tablets and scrolls, and hung up, pending the
arrival of her highness, and her visit through the grounds, when she
could be requested to decide upon the devices, would not two exigencies
be met with satisfactorily?"

"Your views are perfectly correct," observed Chia Cheng, after he had
heard their suggestion; "and we should go to-day and have a look at the
place so as then to set to work to write the inscriptions; which, if
suitable, can readily be used; and, if unsuitable, Y-ts'un can then be
sent for, and asked to compose fresh ones."

The whole company smiled. "If you, sir, were to compose them to-day,"
they ventured, "they are sure to be excellent; and what need will there
be again to wait for Y-ts'un!"

"You people are not aware," Chia Cheng added with a smiling countenance,
"that I've been, even in my young days, very mediocre in the composition
of stanzas on flowers, birds, rockeries and streams; and that now that
I'm well up in years and have moreover the fatigue and trouble of my
official duties, I've become in literary compositions like these, which
require a light heart and gladsome mood, still more inapt. Were I even
to succeed in composing any, they will unavoidably be so doltish and
forced that they would contrariwise be instrumental in making the
flowers, trees, garden and pavilions, through their demerits, lose in
beauty, and present instead no pleasing feature."

"This wouldn't anyhow matter," remonstrated all the family companions,
"for after perusing them we can all decide upon them together, each one
of us recommending those he thinks best; which if excellent can be kept,
and if faulty can be discarded; and there's nothing unfeasible about

"This proposal is most apposite," rejoined Chia Cheng. "What's more, the
weather is, I rejoice, fine to-day; so let's all go in a company and
have a look."

Saying this, he stood up and went forward, at the head of the whole
party; while Chia Chen betook himself in advance into the garden to let
every one know of their coming. As luck would have it, Pao-y--for he
had been these last few days thinking of Ch'in Chung and so ceaselessly
sad and wounded at heart, that dowager lady Chia had frequently directed
the servants to take him into the new garden to play--made his entrance
just at this very time, and suddenly became aware of the arrival of Chia
Chen, who said to him with a smile, "Don't you yet run away as fast as
you can? Mr. Chia Cheng will be coming in a while."

At these words, Pao-y led off his nurse and the youths, and rushed at
once out of the garden, like a streak of smoke; but as he turned a
corner, he came face to face with Chia Cheng, who was advancing towards
that direction, at the head of all the visitors; and as he had no time
to get out of the way, the only course open to him was to stand on one

Chia Cheng had, of late, heard the tutor extol him by saying that he
displayed special ability in rhyming antithetical lines, and that
although he did not like to read his books, he nevertheless possessed
some depraved talents, and hence it was that he was induced at this
moment to promptly bid him follow him into the garden, with the intent
of putting him to the test.

Pao-y could not make out what his object was, but he was compelled to
follow. As soon as they reached the garden gate, and he caught sight of
Chia Chen, standing on one side, along with several managers: "See that
the garden gate is closed for a time," Chia Cheng exclaimed, "for we'll

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