Part 2 out of 14
resentment and go in search of lady Feng.
On her arrival at widow Li's quarters, she, in point of fact, discovered
lady Feng seated inside with her having a chat. Hsiao Hung approached
her and made her report. "Sister P'ing says," she observed, "that as
soon as your ladyship left the house, she put the money by, and that
when Chang Ts'ai's wife went in a little time to fetch it, she had it
weighed in her presence, after which she gave it to her to take away."
With these words, she produced the purse and presented it to her.
"Sister P'ing bade me come and tell your ladyship," she added,
continuing, "that Wang Erh came just now to crave your orders, as to who
are the parties from whom he has to go and (collect interest on money
due) and sister P'ing explained to him what your wishes were and sent
"How could she tell him where I wanted him to go?" Lady Feng laughed.
"Sister P'ing says," Hsiao Hung proceeded, "that our lady presents her
compliments to your ladyship (widow Li) here-(_To lady Feng_) that
our master Secundus has in fact not come home, and that albeit a delay
of (a day) or two will take place (in the collection of the money), your
ladyship should, she begs, set your mind at ease. (_To Li Wan_).
That when lady Quinta is somewhat better, our lady will let lady Quinta
know and come along with her to see your ladyship. (_To lady
Feng_). That lady Quinta sent a servant the day before yesterday to
come over and say that our lady, your worthy maternal aunt, had
despatched a letter to inquire after your ladyship's health; that she
also wished to ask you, my lady, her worthy niece in here, for a couple
of 'long-life-great-efficacy-full-of-every-virtue' pills; and that if
you have any, they should, when our lady bids a servant come over, be
simply given her to bring to our lady here, and that any one bound
to-morrow for that side could then deliver them on her way to her
ladyship, your aunt yonder, to take along with her."
"Ai-yo-yo!" exclaimed widow Li, before the close of the message. "It's
impossible for me to make out what you're driving at! What a heap of
ladyships and misters!"
"It's not to be wondered at that you can't make them out," interposed
lady Feng laughing. "Why, her remarks refer to four or five distinct
While speaking, she again faced Hsiao Hung. "My dear girl," she smiled,
"what a trouble you've been put to! But you speak decently, and unlike
the others who keep on buzz-buzz-buzz, like mosquitoes! You're not
aware, sister-in-law, that I actually dread uttering a word to any of
the girls outside the few servant-girls and matrons in my own immediate
service; for they invariably spin out, what could be condensed in a
single phrase, into a long interminable yarn, and they munch and chew
their words; and sticking to a peculiar drawl, they groan and moan; so
much so, that they exasperate me till I fly into a regular rage. Yet how
are they to know that our P'ing Erh too was once like them. But when I
asked her: 'must you forsooth imitate the humming of a mosquito, in
order to be accounted a handsome girl?' and spoke to her, on several
occasions, she at length improved considerably."
"What a good thing it would be," laughed Li Kung-ts'ai, "if they could
all be as smart as you are."
"This girl is first-rate!" rejoined lady Feng, "she just now delivered
two messages. They didn't, I admit, amount to much, yet to listen to
her, she spoke to the point."
"To-morrow," she continued, addressing herself to Hsiao Hung smilingly,
"come and wait on me, and I'll acknowledge you as my daughter; and the
moment you come under my control, you'll readily improve."
At this news, Hsiao Hung spurted out laughing aloud.
"What are you laughing for?" Lady Feng inquired. "You must say to
yourself that I am young in years and that how much older can I be than
yourself to become your mother; but are you under the influence of a
spring dream? Go and ask all those people older than yourself. They
would be only too ready to call me mother. But snapping my fingers at
them, I to-day exalt you."
"I wasn't laughing about that," Hsiao Hung answered with a smiling face.
"I was amused by the mistake your ladyship made about our generations.
Why, my mother claims to be your daughter, my lady, and are you now
going to recognise me too as your daughter?"
"Who's your mother?" Lady Feng exclaimed.
"Don't you actually know her?" put in Li Kung-ts'ai with a smile. "She's
Lin Chih-hsiao's child."
This disclosure greatly surprised lady Feng. "What!" she consequently
cried, "is she really his daughter?"
"Why Lin Chih-hsiao and his wife," she resumed smilingly, "couldn't
either of them utter a sound if even they were pricked with an awl.
I've always maintained that they're a well-suited couple; as the one is
as deaf as a post, and the other as dumb as a mute. But who would ever
have expected them to have such a clever girl! By how much are you in
"I'm seventeen," replied Hsia Hung.
"What is your name?" she went on to ask.
"My name was once Hung Yü." Hsiao Hung rejoined. "But as it was a
duplicate of that of Master Secundus, Mr. Pao-yü, I'm now simply called
Upon hearing this explanation, lady Feng raised her eyebrows into a
frown, and turning her head round: "It's most disgusting!" she remarked,
"Those bearing the name Yü would seem to be very cheap; for your name is
Yü, and so is also mine Yü. Sister-in-law," she then observed; "I never
let you know anything about it, but I mentioned to her mother that Lai
Ta's wife has at present her hands quite full, and that she hasn't
either any notion as to who is who in this mansion. 'You had better,' (I
said), 'carefully select a couple of girls for my service.' She assented
unreservedly, but she put it off and never chose any. On the contrary,
she sent this girl to some other place. But is it likely that she
wouldn't have been well off with me?"
"Here you are again full of suspicion!" Li Wan laughed. "She came in
here long before you ever breathed a word to her! So how could you bear
a grudge against her mother?"
"Well, in that case," added lady Feng, "I'll speak to Pao-yü to-morrow,
and induce him to find another one, and to allow this girl to come along
with me. I wonder, however, whether she herself is willing or not?"
"Whether willing or not," interposed Hsiao Hung smiling, "such as we
couldn't really presume to raise our voices and object. We should feel
it our privilege to serve such a one as your ladyship, and learn a
little how to discriminate when people raise or drop their eyebrows and
eyes (with pleasure or displeasure), and reap as well some experience in
such matters as go out or come in, whether high or low, great and
But during her reply, she perceived Madame Wang's waiting-maid come and
invite lady Feng to go over. Lady Feng bade good-bye at once to Li
Kung-ts'ai and took her departure.
Hsiao Hung then returned into the I Hung court, where we will leave her
and devote our attention for the present to Lin Tai-yü.
As she had had but little sleep in the night, she got up the next day at
a late hour. When she heard that all her cousins were collected in the
park, giving a farewell entertainment for the god of flowers, she
hastened, for fear people should laugh at her for being lazy, to comb
her hair, perform her ablutions, and go out and join them. As soon as
she reached the interior of the court, she caught sight of Pao-yü,
entering the door, who speedily greeted her with a smile. "My dear
cousin," he said, "did you lodge a complaint against me yesterday? I've
been on pins and needles the whole night long."
Tai-yü forthwith turned her head away. "Put the room in order," she
shouted to Tzu Chüan, "and lower one of the gauze window-frames. And
when you've seen the swallows come back, drop the curtain; keep it down
then by placing the lion on it, and after you have burnt the incense,
mind you cover the censer."
So saying she stepped outside.
Pao-yü perceiving her manner, concluded again that it must be on account
of the incident of the previous noon, but how could he have had any idea
about what had happened in the evening? He kept on still bowing and
curtseying; but Lin Tai-yü did not even so much as look at him straight
in the face, but egressing alone out of the door of the court, she
proceeded there and then in search of the other girls.
Pao-yü fell into a despondent mood and gave way to conjectures.
"Judging," he reflected, "from this behaviour of hers, it would seem as
if it could not be for what transpired yesterday. Yesterday too I came
back late in the evening, and, what's more, I didn't see her, so that
there was no occasion on which I could have given her offence."
As he indulged in these reflections, he involuntarily followed in her
footsteps to try and catch her up, when he descried Pao-ch'ai and
T'an-ch'un on the opposite side watching the frolics of the storks.
As soon as they saw Tai-yü approach, the trio stood together and started
a friendly chat. But noticing Pao-yü also come up, T'an Ch'un smiled.
"Brother Pao," she said, "are you all right. It's just three days that I
haven't seen anything of you?"
"Are you sister quite well?" Pao-yü rejoined, a smile on his lips. "The
other day, I asked news of you of our senior sister-in-law."
"Brother Pao," T'an Ch'un remarked, "come over here; I want to tell you
The moment Pao-yü heard this, he quickly went with her. Distancing
Pao-ch'ai and Tai-yü, the two of them came under a pomegranate tree.
"Has father sent for you these last few days?" T'an Ch'un then asked.
"He hasn't," Pao-yü answered laughingly by way of reply.
"Yesterday," proceeded T'an Ch'un, "I heard vaguely something or other
about father sending for you to go out."
"I presume," Pao-yü smiled, "that some one must have heard wrong, for he
never sent for me."
"I've again managed to save during the last few months," added T'an
Ch'un with another smile, "fully ten tiaos, so take them and bring me,
when at any time you stroll out of doors, either some fine writings or
some ingenious knicknack."
"Much as I have roamed inside and outside the city walls," answered
Pao-yü, "and seen grand establishments and large temples, I've never
come across anything novel or pretty. One simply sees articles made of
gold, jade, copper and porcelain, as well as such curios for which we
could find no place here. Besides these, there are satins, eatables, and
"Who cares for such baubles!" exclaimed T'an Ch'un. "How could they come
up to what you purchased the last time; that wee basket, made of willow
twigs, that scent-box, scooped out of a root of real bamboo, that
portable stove fashioned of glutinous clay; these things were, oh, so
very nice! I was as fond of them as I don't know what; but, who'd have
thought it, they fell in love with them and bundled them all off, just
as if they were precious things."
"Is it things of this kind that you really want?" laughed Pao-yü. "Why,
these are worth nothing! Were you to take a hundred cash and give them
to the servant-boys, they could, I'm sure, bring two cart-loads of
"What do the servant-boys know?" T'an Ch'un replied. "Those you chose
for me were plain yet not commonplace. Neither were they of coarse make.
So were you to procure me as many as you can get of them, I'll work you
a pair of slippers like those I gave you last time, and spend twice as
much trouble over them as I did over that pair you have. Now, what do
you say to this bargain?"
"Your reference to this," smiled Pao-yü, "reminds me of an old incident.
One day I had them on, and by a strange coincidence, I met father, whose
fancy they did not take, and he inquired who had worked them. But how
could I muster up courage to allude to the three words: my sister
Tertia, so I answered that my maternal aunt had given them to me on the
recent occasion of my birthday. When father heard that they had been
given to me by my aunt, he could not very well say anything. But after a
while, 'why uselessly waste,' he observed, 'human labour, and throw away
silks to make things of this sort!' On my return, I told Hsi Jen about
it. 'Never mind,' said Hsi Jen; but Mrs. Chao got angry. 'Her own
brother,' she murmured indignantly, 'wears slipshod shoes and socks in
holes, and there's no one to look after him, and does she go and work
all these things!'"
T'an Ch'un, hearing this, immediately lowered her face. "Now tell me,
aren't these words utter rot!" she shouted. "What am I that I have to
make shoes? And is it likely that Huan Erh hasn't his own share of
things! Clothes are clothes, and shoes and socks are shoes and socks;
and how is it that any grudges arise in the room of a mere servant-girl
and old matron? For whose benefit does she come out with all these
things! I simply work a pair or part of a pair when I am at leisure,
with time on my hands. And I can give them to any brother, elder or
younger, I fancy; and who has a right to interfere with me? This is just
another bit of blind anger!"
After listening to her, Pao-yü nodded his head and smiled. "Yet," he
said, "you don't know what her motives may be. It's but natural that she
should also cherish some expectations."
This apology incensed T'an Ch'un more than ever, and twisting her head
round, "Even you have grown dull!" she cried. "She does, of course,
indulge in expectations, but they are actuated by some underhand and
paltry notion! She may go on giving way to these ideas, but I, for my
part, will only care for Mr. Chia Cheng and Madame Wang. I won't care a
rap for any one else. In fact, I'll be nice with such of my sisters and
brothers, as are nice to me; and won't even draw any distinction between
those born of primary wives and those of secondary ones. Properly
speaking, I shouldn't say these things about her, but she's
narrow-minded to a degree, and unlike what she should be. There's
besides another ridiculous thing. This took place the last time I gave
you the money to get me those trifles. Well, two days after that, she
saw me, and she began again to represent that she had no money and that
she was hard up. Nevertheless, I did not worry my brain with her goings
on. But as it happened, the servant-girls subsequently quitted the room,
and she at once started finding fault with me. 'Why,' she asked, 'do I
give you my savings to spend and don't, after all, let Huan Erh have
them and enjoy them?' When I heard these reproaches, I felt both
inclined to laugh, and also disposed to lose my temper; but I there and
then skedaddled out of her quarters, and went over to our Madame Wang."
As she was recounting this incident, "Well," she overheard Pao-ch'ai
sarcastically observe from the opposite direction, "have you done
spinning your yarns? If you have, come along! It's quite evident that
you are brother and sister, for here you leave every one else and go and
discuss your own private matters. Couldn't we too listen to a single
sentence of what you have to say?"
While she taunted them, T'an Ch'un and Pao-yü eventually drew near her
with smiling faces.
Pao-yü, however, failed to see Lin Tai-yü and he concluded that she had
dodged out of the way and gone elsewhere. "It would be better," he
muttered, after some thought, "that I should let two days elapse, and
give her temper time to evaporate before I go to her." But as he drooped
his head, his eye was attracted by a heap of touch-me-nots, pomegranate
blossom and various kinds of fallen flowers, which covered the ground
thick as tapestry, and he heaved a sigh. "It's because," he pondered,
"she's angry that she did not remove these flowers; but I'll take them
over to the place, and by and bye ask her about them."
As he argued to himself, he heard Pao-ch'ai bid them go out. "I'll join
you in a moment," Pao-yü replied; and waiting till his two cousins had
gone some distance, he bundled the flowers into his coat, and ascending
the hill, he crossed the stream, penetrated into the arbour, passed
through the avenues with flowers and wended his way straight for the
spot, where he had, on a previous occasion, interred the peach-blossoms
with the assistance of Lin Tai-yü. But scarcely had he reached the mound
containing the flowers, and before he had, as yet, rounded the brow of
the hill, than he caught, emanating from the off side, the sound of some
one sobbing, who while giving way to invective, wept in a most
"I wonder," soliloquised Pao-yü, "whose servant-girl this is, who has
been so aggrieved as to run over here to have a good cry!"
While speculating within himself, he halted. He then heard, mingled with
Flowers wither and decay; and flowers do fleet; they fly all o'er the
Their bloom wanes; their smell dies; but who is there with them to
While vagrant gossamer soft doth on fluttering spring-bowers bind its
And drooping catkins lightly strike and cling on the embroidered
A maiden in the inner rooms, I sore deplore the close of spring.
Such ceaseless sorrow fills my breast, that solace nowhere can I find.
Past the embroidered screen I issue forth, taking with me a hoe,
And on the faded flowers to tread I needs must, as I come and go.
The willow fibres and elm seeds have each a fragrance of their own.
What care I, peach blossoms may fall, pear flowers away be blown;
Yet peach and pear will, when next year returns, burst out again in
But can it e'er be told who will next year dwell in the inner room?
What time the third moon comes, the scented nests have been already
And on the beams the swallows perch, excessive spiritless and staid;
Next year, when the flowers bud, they may, it's true, have ample to
But they know not that when I'm gone beams will be vacant and nests
In a whole year, which doth consist of three hundred and sixty days,
Winds sharp as swords and frost like unto spears each other rigorous
So that how long can last their beauty bright; their fresh charm how
Sudden they droop and fly; and whither they have flown, 'tis hard to
Flowers, while in bloom, easy the eye attract; but, when they wither,
hard they are to find.
Now by the footsteps, I bury the flowers, but sorrow will slay me.
Alone I stand, and as I clutch the hoe, silent tears trickle down,
And drip on the bare twigs, leaving behind them the traces of blood.
The goatsucker hath sung his song, the shades lower of eventide,
So with the lotus hoe I return home and shut the double doors.
Upon the wall the green lamp sheds its rays just as I go to sleep.
The cover is yet cold; against the window patters the bleak rain.
How strange! Why can it ever be that I feel so wounded at heart!
Partly, because spring I regret; partly, because with spring I'm
Regret for spring, because it sudden comes; vexed, for it sudden goes.
For without warning, lo! it comes; and without asking it doth fleet.
Yesterday night, outside the hall sorrowful songs burst from my mouth,
For I found out that flowers decay, and that birds also pass away.
The soul of flowers, and the spirit of birds are both hard to
Birds, to themselves when left, in silence plunge; and flowers, alone,
Oh! would that on my sides a pair of wings could grow,
That to the end of heaven I may fly in the wake of flowers!
Yea to the very end of heaven,
Where I could find a fragrant grave!
For better, is it not, that an embroidered bag should hold my
And that a heap of stainless earth should in its folds my winsome
For spotless once my frame did come, and spotless again it will go!
Far better than that I, like filthy mire, should sink into some drain!
Ye flowers are now faded and gone, and, lo, I come to bury you.
But as for me, what day I shall see death is not as yet divined!
Here I am fain these flowers to inter; but humankind will laugh me as
Who knows, who will, in years to come, commit me to my grave!
Mark, and you'll find the close of spring, and the gradual decay of
Resemble faithfully the time of death of maidens ripe in years!
In a twinkle, spring time draws to a close, and maidens wax in age.
Flowers fade and maidens die; and of either nought any more is known.
After listening to these effusions, Pao-yü unconsciously threw himself
down in a wandering frame of mind.
But, reader, do you feel any interest in him? If you do, the subsequent
chapter contains further details about him.
Chiang Yü-han lovingly presents a rubia-scented silk sash.
Hsüeh Pao-ch'ai blushingly covers her musk-perfumed string of red
Lin Tai-yü, the story goes, dwelt, after Ch'ing Wen's refusal, the
previous night, to open the door, under the impression that the blame
lay with Pao-yü. The following day, which by another remarkable
coincidence, happened to correspond with the season, when the god of
flowers had to be feasted, her total ignorance of the true
circumstances, and her resentment, as yet unspent, aroused again in her
despondent thoughts, suggested by the decline of spring time. She
consequently gathered a quantity of faded flowers and fallen petals, and
went and interred them. Unable to check the emotion, caused by the decay
of the flowers, she spontaneously recited, after giving way to several
loud lamentations, those verses which Pao-yü, she little thought,
overheard from his position on the mound. At first, he did no more than
nod his head and heave sighs, full of feeling. But when subsequently his
"Here I am fain these flowers to inter, but humankind will laugh me as
Who knows who will, in years to come, commit me to my grave!
In a twinkle springtime draws to an end, and maidens wax in age.
Flowers fade and maidens die; and of either naught any more is known."
he unconsciously was so overpowered with grief that he threw himself on
the mound, bestrewing the whole ground with the fallen flowers he
carried in his coat, close to his chest. "When Tai-yü's flowerlike
charms and moon-like beauty," he reflected, "by and bye likewise reach a
time when they will vanish beyond any hope of recovery, won't my heart
be lacerated and my feelings be mangled! And extending, since Tai-yü
must at length some day revert to a state when it will be difficult to
find her, this reasoning to other persons, like Pao-ch'ai, Hsiang Ling,
Hsi Jen and the other girls, they too are equally liable to attain a
state beyond the reach of human search. But when Pao-ch'ai and all the
rest have ultimately reached that stage when no trace will be visible of
them, where shall I myself be then? And when my own human form will have
vanished and gone, whither I know not yet, to what person, I wonder,
will this place, this garden and these plants, revert?"
From one to a second, and from a second to a third, he thus pursued his
reflections, backwards and forwards, until he really did not know how he
could best, at this time and at such a juncture, dispel his fit of
anguish. His state is adequately described by:
The shadow of a flower cannot err from the flower itself to the left
or the right.
The song of birds can only penetrate into the ear from the east or the
Lin Tai-yü was herself a prey to emotion and agitation, when unawares
sorrowful accents also struck her ear, from the direction of the mound.
"Every one," she cogitated, "laughs at me for labouring under a foolish
mania, but is there likely another fool besides myself?" She then raised
her head, and, casting a glance about her, she discovered that it was
Pao-yü. "Ts'ui!" eagerly cried Tai-yü, "I was wondering who it was; but
is it truly this ruthless-hearted and short-lived fellow!"
But the moment the two words "short-lived" dropped from her mouth, she
sealed her lips; and, heaving a deep sigh, she turned herself round and
hurriedly walked off.
Pao-yü, meanwhile, remained for a time a prey to melancholy. But
perceiving that Tai-yü had retired, he at once realised that she must
have caught sight of him and got out of his way; and, as his own company
afforded him no pleasure, he shook the dust off his clothes, rose to his
feet and descending the hill, he started for the I Hung court by the
path by which he had come. But he espied Tai-yü walking in advance of
him, and with rapid stride, he overtook her. "Stop a little!" he cried.
"I know you don't care a rap for me; but I'll just make one single
remark, and from this day forward we'll part company."
Tai-yü looked round. Observing that it was Pao-yü, she was about to
ignore him; hearing him however mention that he had only one thing to
say, "Please tell me what it is," she forthwith rejoined.
Pao-yü smiled at her. "If I pass two remarks will you listen to me; yes
or no?" he asked.
At these words, Tai-yü twisted herself round and beat a retreat. Pao-yü
however followed behind.
"Since this is what we've come to now," he sighed, "what was the use of
what existed between us in days gone by?"
As soon as Tai-yü heard his exclamation, she stopped short impulsively.
Turning her face towards him, "what about days gone by," she remarked,
"and what about now?"
"Ai!" ejaculated Pao-yü, "when you got here in days gone by, wasn't I
your playmate in all your romps and in all your fun? My heart may have
been set upon anything, but if you wanted it you could take it away at
once. I may have been fond of any eatable, but if I came to learn that
you too fancied it, I there and then put away what could be put away, in
a clean place, to wait, Miss, for your return. We had our meals at one
table; we slept in one and the same bed; whatever the servant-girls
could not remember, I reminded them of, for fear lest your temper, Miss,
should get ruffled. I flattered myself that cousins, who have grown up
together from their infancy, as you and I have, would have continued,
through intimacy or friendship, either would have done, in peace and
harmony until the end, so as to make it palpable that we are above the
rest. But, contrary to all my expectations, now that you, Miss, have
developed in body as well as in mind, you don't take the least heed of
me. You lay hold instead of some cousin Pao or cousin Feng or other from
here, there and everywhere and give them a place in your affections;
while on the contrary you disregard me for three days at a stretch and
decline to see anything of me for four! I have besides no brother or
sister of the same mother as myself. It's true there are a couple of
them, but these, are you not forsooth aware, are by another mother! You
and I are only children, so I ventured to hope that you would have
reciprocated my feelings. But, who'd have thought it, I've simply thrown
away this heart of mine, and here I am with plenty of woes to bear, but
with nowhere to go and utter them!"
While expressing these sentiments, tears, unexpectedly, trickled from
When Lin Tai-yü caught, with her ears, his protestations, and noticed
with her eyes his state of mind, she unconsciously experienced an inward
pang, and, much against her will, tears too besprinkled her cheeks; so,
drooping her head, she kept silent.
Her manner did not escape Pao-yü's notice. "I myself am aware," he
speedily resumed, "that I'm worth nothing now; but, however imperfect I
may be, I could on no account presume to become guilty of any
shortcoming with you cousin. Were I to ever commit the slightest fault,
your task should be either to tender me advice and warn me not to do it
again, or to blow me up a little, or give me a few whacks; and all this
reproof I wouldn't take amiss. But no one would have ever anticipated
that you wouldn't bother your head in the least about me, and that you
would be the means of driving me to my wits' ends, and so much out of my
mind and off my head, as to be quite at a loss how to act for the best.
In fact, were death to come upon me, I would be a spirit driven to my
grave by grievances. However much exalted bonzes and eminent Taoist
priests might do penance, they wouldn't succeed in releasing my soul
from suffering; for it would still be needful for you to clearly explain
the facts, so that I might at last be able to come to life."
After lending him a patient ear, Tai-yü suddenly banished from her
memory all recollection of the occurrences of the previous night. "Well,
in that case," she said, "why did you not let a servant-girl open the
door when I came over?"
This question took Pao-yü by surprise. "What prompts you to say this?"
he exclaimed. "If I have done anything of the kind, may I die at once."
"Psha!" cried Tai-yü, "it's not right that you-should recklessly broach
the subject of living or dying at this early morn! If you say yea, it's
yea; and nay, it's nay; what use is there to utter such oaths!"
"I didn't really see you come over," protested Pao-yü. "Cousin Pao-ch'ai
it was, who came and sat for a while and then left."
After some reflection, Lin Tai-yü smiled. "Yes," she observed, "your
servant-girls must, I fancy, have been too lazy to budge, grumpy and in
a cross-grained mood; this is probable enough."
"This is, I feel sure, the reason," answered Pao-yü, "so when I go back,
I'll find out who it was, call them to task and put things right."
"Those girls of yours;" continued Tai-yü, "should be given a lesson, but
properly speaking it isn't for me to mention anything about it. Their
present insult to me is a mere trifle; but were to-morrow some Miss Pao
(precious) or some Miss Pei (jewel) or other to come, and were she to be
subjected to insult, won't it be a grave matter?"
While she taunted him, she pressed her lips, and laughed sarcastically.
Pao-yü heard her remarks and felt both disposed to gnash his teeth with
rage, and to treat them as a joke; but in the midst of their colloquy,
they perceived a waiting-maid approach and invite them to have their
Presently, the whole body of inmates crossed over to the front.
"Miss," inquired Madame Wang at the sight of Tai-yü, "have you taken any
of Dr. Pao's medicines? Do you feel any better?"
"I simply feel so-so," replied Lin Tai-yü, "but grandmother Chia
recommended me to go on taking Dr. Wang's medicines."
"Mother," Pao-yü interposed, "you've no idea that cousin Lin's is an
internal derangement; it's because she was born with a delicate physique
that she can't stand the slightest cold. All she need do is to take a
couple of closes of some decoction to dispel the chill; yet it's
preferable that she should have medicine in pills."
"The other day," said Madame Wang, "the doctor mentioned the name of
some pills, but I've forgotten what it is."
"I know something about pills," put in Pao-yü; "he merely told her to
take some pills or other called 'ginseng as-a-restorative-of-the-system.'"
"That isn't it," Madame Wang demurred.
"The 'Eight-precious-wholesome-to-mother' pills," Pao-yü proceeded, "or
the 'Left-angelica' or 'Right-angelica;' if these also aren't the ones,
they must be the 'Eight-flavour Rehmannia-glutinosa' pills."
"None of these," rejoined Madame Wang, "for I remember well that there
were the two words chin kang (guardians in Buddhistic temples)."
"I've never before," observed Pao-yü, clapping his hands, "heard of the
existence of chin kang pills; but in the event of there being any chin
kang pills, there must, for a certainty, be such a thing as P'u Sa
At this joke, every one in the whole room burst out laughing. Pao-ch'ai
compressed her lips and gave a smile. "It must, I'm inclined to think,"
she suggested, "be the 'lord-of-heaven-strengthen-the-heart' pills!"
"Yes, that's the name," Madame Wang laughed, "why, now, I too have
"You're not muddle-headed, mother," said Pao-yü, "it's the mention of
Chin kangs and Buddhas which confused you."
"Stuff and nonsense!" ejaculated Madame Wang. "What you want again is
your father to whip you!"
"My father," Pao-yü laughed, "wouldn't whip me for a thing like this."
"Well, this being their name," resumed Madame Wang, "you had better tell
some one to-morrow to buy you a few."
"All these drugs," expostulated Pao-yü, "are of no earthly use. Were
you, mother, to give me three hundred and sixty taels, I'll concoct a
supply of pills for my cousin, which I can certify will make her feel
quite herself again before she has finished a single supply."
"What trash!" cried Madame Wang. "What kind of medicine is there so
"It's a positive fact," smiled Pao-yü. "This prescription of mine is
unlike all others. Besides, the very names of those drugs are quaint,
and couldn't be enumerated in a moment; suffice it to mention the
placenta of the first child; three hundred and sixty ginseng roots,
shaped like human beings and studded with leaves; four fat tortoises;
full-grown polygonum multiflorum; the core of the Pachyma cocos, found
on the roots of a fir tree of a thousand years old; and other such
species of medicines. They're not, I admit, out-of-the-way things; but
they are the most excellent among that whole crowd of medicines; and
were I to begin to give you a list of them, why, they'd take you all
quite aback. The year before last, I at length let Hsüeh P'an have this
recipe, after he had made ever so many entreaties during one or two
years. When, however, he got the prescription, he had to search for
another two or three years and to spend over and above a thousand taels
before he succeeded in having it prepared. If you don't believe me,
mother, you are at liberty to ask cousin Pao-ch'ai about it."
At the mention of her name, Pao-ch'ai laughingly waved her hand. "I know
nothing about it," she observed. "Nor have I heard anything about it, so
don't tell your mother to ask me any questions."
"Really," said Madame Wang smiling, "Pao-ch'ai is a good girl; she does
not tell lies."
Pao-yü was standing in the centre of the room. Upon hearing these words,
he turned round sharply and clapped his hands. "What I stated just now,"
he explained, "was the truth; yet you maintain that it was all lies."
As he defended himself, he casually looked round, and caught sight of
Lin Tai-yü at the back of Pao-ch'ai laughing with tight-set lips, and
applying her fingers to her face to put him to shame.
But Lady Feng, who had been in the inner rooms overseeing the servants
laying the table, came out at once, as soon as she overheard the
conversation. "Brother Pao tells no lies," she smilingly chimed in,
"this is really a fact. Some time ago cousin Hsüeh P'an came over in
person and asked me for pearls, and when I inquired of him what he
wanted them for, he explained that they were intended to compound some
medicine with; adding, in an aggrieved way, that it would have been
better hadn't he taken it in hand for he never had any idea that it
would involve such a lot of trouble! When I questioned him what the
medicine was, he returned for answer that it was a prescription of
brother Pao's; and he mentioned ever so many ingredients, which I don't
even remember. 'Under other circumstances,' he went on to say, 'I would
have purchased a few pearls, but what are absolutely wanted are such
pearls as have been worn on the head; and that's why I come to ask you,
cousin, for some. If, cousin, you've got no broken ornaments at hand, in
the shape of flowers, why, those that you have on your head will do as
well; and by and bye I'll choose a few good ones and give them to you,
to wear.' I had no other course therefore than to snap a couple of twigs
from some flowers I have, made of pearls, and to let him take them away.
One also requires a piece of deep red gauze, three feet in length of the
best quality; and the pearls must be triturated to powder in a mortar."
After each sentence expressed by lady Feng, Pao-yü muttered an
invocation to Buddha. "The thing is as clear as sunlight now," he
The moment lady Feng had done speaking, Pao-yü put in his word.
"Mother," he added, "you should know that this is a mere makeshift, for
really, according to the letter of the prescription, these pearls and
precious stones should, properly speaking, consist of such as had been
obtained from, some old grave and been worn as head-ornaments by some
wealthy and honourable person of bygone days. But how could one go now
on this account and dig up graves, and open tombs! Hence it is that such
as are simply in use among living persons can equally well be
"O-mi-to-fu!" exclaimed Madame Wang, after listening to him throughout.
"That will never do, and what an arduous job to uselessly saddle one's
self with; for even though there be interred in some graves people,
who've been dead for several hundreds of years, it wouldn't be a
propitious thing were their corpses turned topsy-turvey now and the
bones abstracted; just for the sake of preparing some medicine or
Pao-yü thereupon addressed himself to Tai-yü. "Have you heard what was
said or not?" he asked. "And is there, pray, any likelihood that cousin
Secunda would also follow in my lead and tell lies?"
While saying this, his eyes were, albeit his face was turned towards Lin
Tai-yü, fixed upon Pao-ch'ai.
Lin Tai-yü pulled Madame Wang. "You just listen to him, aunt," she
observed. "All because cousin Pao-ch'ai would not accommodate him by
lying, he appeals to me."
"Pao-yü has a great knack," Madame Wang said, "of dealing contemptuously
with you, his cousin."
"Mother," Pao-yü smilingly protested, "you are not aware how the case
stands. When cousin Pao-ch'ai lived at home, she knew nothing whatever
about my elder cousin Hsüeh P'an's affairs, and how much less now that
she has taken up her quarters inside the garden? She, of course, knows
less than ever about them! Yet, cousin Lin just now stealthily treated
my statements as lies, and put me to the blush."
These words were still on his lips, when they perceived a waiting-maid,
from dowager lady Chia's apartments, come in quest of Pao-yü and Lin
Tai-yü to go and have their meal. Lin Tai-yü, however, did not even call
Pao-yü, but forthwith rising to her feet, she went along, dragging the
waiting-maid by the hand.
"Let's wait for master Secundus, Mr. Pao, to go along with us," demurred
"He doesn't want anything to eat," Lin Tai-yü replied; "he won't come
with us, so I'll go ahead." So saying she promptly left the room.
"I'll have my repast with my mother to-day," Pao-yü said.
"Not at all," Madame Wang remarked, "not at all. I'm going to fast
to-day, so it's only right and proper that you should go and have your
"I'll also fast with you then," Pao-yü retorted.
As he spoke, he called out to the servant to go back, and rushing up to
the table, he took a seat.
Madame Wang faced Pao-ch'ai and her companions. "You, girls," she
observed, "had better have your meal, and let him have his own way!"
"It's only right that you should go," Pao-ch'ai smiled. "Whether you
have anything to eat or not, you should go over for a while to keep
company to cousin Lin, as she will be quite distressed and out of
"Who cares about her!" Pao-yü rejoined, "she'll get all right again
after a time."
Shortly, they finished their repast. But Pao-yü apprehended, in the
first place, that his grandmother Chia, would be solicitous on his
account, and longed, in the second, to be with Lin Tai-yü, so he
hurriedly asked for some tea to rinse his mouth with.
"Cousin Secundus," T'an Ch'un and Hsi Ch'un interposed with an ironic
laugh, "what's the use of the hurry-scurry you're in the whole day long!
Even when you're having your meals, or your tea, you're in this sort of
"Make him hurry up and have his tea," Pao-ch'ai chimed in smiling, "so
that he may go and look up his cousin Lin. He'll be up to all kinds of
mischief if you keep him here!"
Pao-yü drank his tea. Then hastily leaving the apartment, he proceeded
straightway towards the eastern court. As luck would have it, the moment
he got near lady Feng's court, he descried lady Feng standing at the
gateway. While standing on the step, and picking her teeth with an
ear-cleaner, she superintended about ten young servant-boys removing the
flower-pots from place to place. As soon as she caught sight of Pao-yü
approaching, she put on a smiling face. "You come quite opportunely,"
she said; "walk in, walk in, and write a few characters for me."
Pao-yü had no option but to follow her in. When they reached the
interior of her rooms, lady Feng gave orders to a servant to fetch a
pen, inkslab and paper.
"Forty rolls of deep red ornamented satin," she began, addressing
herself to Pao-yü, "forty rolls of satin with dragons; a hundred rolls
of gauzes of every colour, of the finest quality; four gold
"What's this?" Pao-yü shouted, "it is neither a bill; nor is it a list
of presents, and in what style shall I write it?"
Lady Feng remonstrated with him. "Just you go on writing," she said,
"for, in fact, as long as I can make out what it means, it's all that is
Pao-yü at this response felt constrained to proceed with the writing.
This over lady Feng put the paper by. As she did so, "I've still
something more to tell you," she smilingly pursued, "but I wonder
whether you will accede to it or not. There is in your rooms a
servant-maid, Hsiao Hung by name, whom I would like to bring over into
my service, and I'll select several girls to-morrow to wait on you; will
"The servants in my quarters," answered Pao-yü, "muster a large crowd,
so that, cousin, you are at perfect liberty to send for any one of them,
who might take your fancy; what's the need therefore of asking me about
"If that be so," continued lady Feng laughingly, "I'll tell some one at
once to go and bring her over."
"Yes, she can go and fetch her," acquiesced Pao-yü.
While replying, he made an attempt to take his leave. "Come back,"
shouted lady Feng, "I've got something more to tell you."
"Our venerable senior has sent for me," Pao-yü rejoined; "if you have
anything to tell me you must wait till my return."
After this explanation, he there and then came over to his grandmother
Chia's on this side, where he found that they had already got through
"Have you had anything nice to eat with your mother?" old lady Chia
"There was really nothing nice," Pao-yü smiled. "Yet I managed to have a
bowl of rice more than usual."
"Where's cousin Lin?" he then inquired.
"She's in the inner rooms," answered his grandmother.
Pao-yü stepped in. He caught sight of a waiting-maid, standing below,
blowing into an iron, and two servant-girls seated on the stove-couch
making a chalk line. Tai-yü with stooping head was cutting out something
or other with a pair of scissors she held in her hand.
Pao-yü advanced further in. "O! what's this that you are up to!" he
smiled. "You have just had your rice and do you bob your head down in
this way! Why, in a short while you'll be having a headache again!"
Tai-yü, however, did not heed him in the least, but busied herself
cutting out what she had to do.
"The corner of that piece of satin is not yet right," a servant-girl put
in. "You had better iron it again!"
Tai-yü threw down the scissors. "Why worry yourself about it?" she said;
"it will get quite right after a time."
But while Pao-yü was listening to what was being said, and was inwardly
feeling in low spirits, he became aware that Pao-ch'ai, T'an Ch'un and
the other girls had also arrived. After a short chat with dowager lady
Chia, Pao-ch'ai likewise entered the apartment to find out what her
cousin Lin was up to. The moment she espied Lin Tai-yü engaged in
cutting out something: "You have," she cried, "attained more skill than
ever; for there you can even cut out clothes!"
"This too," laughed Tai-yü sarcastically, "is a mere falsehood, to
hoodwink people with, nothing more."
"I'll tell you a joke," replied Pao-ch'ai smiling, "when I just now said
that I did not know anything about that medicine, cousin Pao-yü felt
displeased." "Who cares!" shouted Lin Tai-yü. "He'll get all right
"Our worthy grandmother wishes to play at dominoes," Pao-yü thereupon
interposed directing his remarks to Pao-ch'ai; "and there's no one there
at present to have a game with her; so you'd better go and play with
"Have I come over now to play dominoes!" promptly smiled Pao-ch'ai when
she heard his suggestion. With this remark, she nevertheless at once
quitted the room.
"It would be well for you to go," urged Lin Tai-yü, "for there's a tiger
in here; and, look out, he might eat you up."
As she spoke, she went on with her cutting.
Pao-yü perceived how both she was to give him any of her attention, and
he had no alternative but to force a smile and to observe: "You should
also go for a stroll! It will be time enough by and bye to continue your
But Tai-yü would pay no heed whatever to him. Pao-yü addressed himself
therefore to the servant-girls. "Who has taught her how to cut out these
things?" he asked.
"What does it matter who taught me how to cut?" Tai-yü vehemently
exclaimed, when she realised that he was speaking to the maids. "It's no
business of yours, Mr. Secundus."
Pao-yü was then about to say something in his defence when he saw a
servant come in and report that there was some one outside who wished to
see him. At this announcement, Pao-yü betook himself with alacrity out
of the room.
"O-mi-to-fu!" observed Tai-yü, turning outwards, "it wouldn't matter to
you if you found me dead on your return!"
On his arrival outside, Pao-yü discovered Pei Ming. "You are invited,"
he said, "to go to Mr. Feng's house."
Upon hearing this message, Pao-yü knew well enough that it was about the
project mooted the previous day, and accordingly he told him to go and
ask for his clothes, while he himself wended his steps into the library.
Pei Ming came forthwith to the second gate and waited for some one to
appear. Seeing an old woman walk out, Pei Ming went up to her. "Our
Master Secundus, Mr. Pao," he told her, "is in the study waiting for his
out-door clothes; so do go in, worthy dame, and deliver the message."
"It would be better," replied the old woman, "if you did not echo your
mother's absurdities! Our Master Secundus, Mr. Pao, now lives in the
garden, and all the servants, who attend on him, stay in the garden; and
do you again come and bring the message here?"
At these words, Pei Ming smiled. "You're quite right," he rejoined, "in
reproving me, for I've become quite idiotic."
So saying, he repaired with quick step to the second gate on the east
side, where, by a lucky hit, the young servant-boys on duty, were
kicking marbles on the raised road. Pei Ming explained to them the
object of his coming. A young boy thereupon ran in. After a long
interval, he, at length, made his appearance, holding, enfolded in his
arms, a bundle of clothes, which he handed to Pei Ming, who then
returned to the library. Pao-yü effected a change in his costume, and
giving directions to saddle his horse, he only took along with him the
four servant-boys, Pei Ming, Chu Lo, Shuang Jui and Shou Erh, and
started on his way. He reached Feng Tzu-ying's doorway by a short cut. A
servant announced his arrival, and Feng Tzu-ying came out and ushered
him in. Here he discovered Hsüeh P'an, who had already been waiting a
long time, and several singing-boys besides; as well as Chiang Yü-han,
who played female roles, and Yün Erh, a courtesan in the Chin Hsiang
court. The whole company exchanged salutations. They next had tea. "What
you said the other day," smiled Pao-yü, raising his cup, "about good
fortune coming out of evil fortune has preyed so much upon my mind, both
by day and night, that the moment I received your summons I hurried to
"My worthy cousins," rejoined Feng Tzu-ying smiling. "You're all far too
credulous! It's a mere hoax that I made use of the other day. For so
much did I fear that you would be sure to refuse if I openly asked you
to a drinking bout, that I thought it fit to say what I did. But your
attendance to-day, so soon after my invitation, makes it clear, little
though one would have thought it, that you've all taken it as pure
This admission evoked laughter from the whole company. The wines were
afterwards placed on the table, and they took the seats consistent with
their grades. Feng Tzu-ying first and foremost called the singing-boys
and offered them a drink. Next he told Yün Erh to also approach and have
a cup of wine.
By the time, however, that Hsüeh P'an had had his third cup, he of a
sudden lost control over his feelings, and clasping Yün Erh's hand in
his: "Do sing me," he smiled, "that novel ballad of your own
composition; and I'll drink a whole jar full. Eh, will you?"
This appeal compelled Yün Erh to take up the guitar. She then sang:
Lovers have I two.
To set aside either I cannot bear.
When my heart longs for thee to come,
It also yearns for him.
Both are in form handsome and fair.
Their beauty to describe it would be hard.
Just think, last night, when at a silent hour, we met in secret, by
frame laden with roses white,
One to his feelings stealthily was giving vent,
When lo, the other caught us in the act,
And laying hands on us; there we three stood like litigants before the
And I had, verily, no word in answer for myself to give.
At the close of her song, she laughed. "Well now," she cried, "down with
that whole jar!"
"Why, it isn't worth a jarful," smiled Hsüeh P'an at these words.
"Favour us with some other good song!"
"Listen to what I have to suggest," Pao-yü interposed, a smile on his
lips. "If you go on drinking in this reckless manner, we will easily get
drunk and there will be no fun in it. I'll take the lead and swallow a
large cupful and put in force a new penalty; and any one of you who
doesn't comply with it, will be mulcted in ten large cupfuls, in quick
Speedily rising from the banquet, he poured the wine for the company.
Feng Tzu-ying and the rest meanwhile exclaimed with one voice: "Quite
right! quite right!"
Pao-yü then lifted a large cup and drained it with one draught. "We will
now," he proposed, "dilate on the four characters, 'sad, wounded, glad
and joyful.' But while discoursing about young ladies, we'll have to
illustrate the four states as well. At the end of this recitation, we'll
have to drink the 'door cup' over the wine, to sing an original and
seasonable ballad, while over the heel taps, to make allusion to some
object on the table, and devise something with some old poetical lines
or ancient scrolls, from the Four Books or the Five Classics, or with
some set phrases."
Hsüeh P'an gave him no time to finish. He was the first to stand up and
prevent him from proceeding. "I won't join you, so don't count me; this
is, in fact, done in order to play tricks upon me."
Yün Erh, however, also rose to her feet and shoved him down into his
"What are you in such a funk for?" she laughed. "You're fortunate enough
to be able to drink wine daily, and can't you, forsooth, even come up to
me? Yet I mean to recite, by and bye, my own share. If you say what's
right, well and good; if you don't, you will simply have to swallow
several cups of wine as a forfeit, and is it likely you'll die from
drunkenness? Are you, pray, going now to disregard this rule and to
drink, instead, ten large cups; besides going down to pour the wine?"
One and all clapped in applause. "Well said!" they shouted.
After this, Hüeh P'an had no way out of it and felt compelled to resume
They then heard Pao-yü recite:
A girl is sad,
When her spring-time of life is far advanced and she still occupies a
A girl feels wounded in her heart,
When she regrets having allowed her better half to go abroad and win a
A girl is glad,
When looking in the mirror, at the time of her morning toilette, she
finds her colour fair.
A girl is joyful,
What time she sits on the frame of a gallows-swing, clad in a thin
Having listened to him, "Capital!" one and all cried out in a chorus.
Hsüeh P'an alone raised his face, shook his head and remarked: "It isn't
good, he must be fined."
"Why should he be fined?" demurred the party.
"Because," retorted Hsüeh P'an, "what he says is entirely unintelligible
to me. So how can he not be fined?"
Yün Erh gave him a pinch.--"Just you quietly think of yours," she
laughed; "for if by and bye you are not ready you'll also have to bear a
In due course Pao-yü took up the guitar. He was heard to sing:
"When mutual thoughts arise, tears, blood-stained, endless drop, like
lentiles sown broadcast.
In spring, in ceaseless bloom nourish willows and flowers around the
Inside the gauze-lattice peaceful sleep flies, when, after dark, come
wind and rain.
Both new-born sorrows and long-standing griefs cannot from memory ever
E'en jade-fine rice, and gold-like drinks they make hard to go down;
they choke the throat.
The lass has not the heart to desist gazing in the glass at her wan
Nothing can from that knitted brow of hers those frowns dispel;
For hard she finds it patient to abide till the clepsydra will have
run its course.
Alas! how fitly like the faint outline of a green hill which nought
Or like a green-tinged stream, which ever ceaseless floweth onward far
When the song drew to an end, his companions with one voice cried out:
Hsüeh P'an was the only one to find fault. "There's no metre in them,"
Pao-yü quaffed the "opening cup," then seizing a pear, he added:
"While the rain strikes the pear-blossom I firmly close the door,"
and thus accomplished the requirements of the rule.
Feng Tzu-ying's turn came next.
"A maid is glad."
When at her first confinement she gives birth to twins, both sons.
A maid is joyful,
When on the sly she to the garden creeps crickets to catch.
A maid is sad,
When her husband some sickness gets and lies in a bad state.
A maiden is wounded at heart,
When a fierce wind blows down the tower, where she makes her toilette.
Concluding this recitation, he raised the cup and sang:
"Thou art what one could aptly call a man.
But thou'rt endowed with somewhat too much heart!
How queer thou art, cross-grained and impish shrewd!
A spirit too, thou couldst not be more shrewd.
If all I say thou dost not think is true,
In secret just a minute search pursue;
For then thou'lt know if I love thee or not."
His song over, he drank the "opening cup" and then observed:
"The cock crows when the moon's rays shine upon the thatchèd inn."
After his observance of the rule followed Yün Erh's turn.
A girl is sad,
Yün Erh began,
When she tries to divine on whom she will depend towards the end of
"My dear child!" laughingly exclaimed Hsüeh P'an, "your worthy Mr. Hsüeh
still lives, and why do you give way to fears?"
"Don't confuse her!" remonstrated every one of the party, "don't muddle
"A maiden is wounded at heart."
Yün Erh proceeded:
"When her mother beats and scolds her and never for an instant doth
"It was only the other day," interposed Hsüeh P'an, "that I saw your
mother and that I told her that I would not have her beat you."
"If you still go on babbling," put in the company with one consent,
"you'll be fined ten cups."
Hsüeh P'an promptly administered himself a slap on the mouth. "How you
lack the faculty of hearing!" he exclaimed. "You are not to say a word
"A girl is glad,"
Yün Erh then resumed:
When her lover cannot brook to leave her and return home.
A maiden is joyful,
When hushing the pan-pipe and double pipe, a stringed instrument she
At the end of her effusion, she at once began to sing:
"T'is the third day of the third moon, the nutmegs bloom;
A maggot, lo, works hard to pierce into a flower;
But though it ceaseless bores it cannot penetrate.
So crouching on the buds, it swing-like rocks itself.
My precious pet, my own dear little darling,
If I don't choose to open how can you steal in?"
Finishing her song, she drank the "opening cup," after which she added:
"the delicate peach-blossom," and thus complied with the exigencies of
Next came Hsüeh P'an. "Is it for me to speak now?" Hsüeh P'an asked.
"A maiden is sad..."
But a long time elapsed after these words were uttered and yet nothing
further was heard.
"Sad for what?" Feng Tzu-ying laughingly asked. "Go on and tell us at
Hsüeh P'an was much perplexed. His eyes rolled about like a bell.
"A girl is sad..."
he hastily repeated. But here again he coughed twice before he
"A girl is sad."
"When she marries a spouse who is a libertine."
This sentence so tickled the fancy of the company that they burst out
into a loud fit of laughter.
"What amuses you so?" shouted Hsüeh P'an, "is it likely that what I say
is not correct? If a girl marries a man, who chooses to forget all
virtue, how can she not feel sore at heart?"
But so heartily did they all laugh that their bodies were bent in two.
"What you say is quite right," they eagerly replied. "So proceed at once
with the rest."
Hsüeh P'an thereupon stared with vacant gaze.
"A girl is grieved...."
But after these few words he once more could find nothing to say.
"What is she grieved about?" they asked.
"When a huge monkey finds its way into the inner room."
Hsüeh P'an retorted.
This reply set every one laughing. "He must be mulcted," they cried, "he
must be mulcted. The first one could anyhow be overlooked; but this line
is more unintelligible."
As they said this, they were about to pour the wine, when Pao-yü
smilingly interfered. "The rhyme is all right," he observed.
"The master of the rules," Hsüeh P'an remarked, "approves it in every
way, so what are you people fussing about?"
Hearing this, the company eventually let the matter drop.
"The two lines, that follow, are still more difficult," suggested Yün
Erh with a smile, "so you had better let me recite for you."
"Fiddlesticks!" exclaimed Hsüeh P'an, "do you really fancy that I have
no good ones! Just you listen to what I shall say.
"A girl is glad,
When in the bridal room she lies, with flowery candles burning, and
she is loth to rise at morn."
This sentiment filled one and all with amazement. "How supremely
excellent this line is!" they ejaculated.
"A girl is joyful,"
Hsüeh P'an resumed,
"During the consummation of wedlock."
Upon catching this remark, the party turned their heads away, and
shouted: "Dreadful! Dreadful! But quick sing your song and have done."
Forthwith Hsüeh P'an sang:
"A mosquito buzzes heng, heng, heng!"
Every one was taken by surprise. "What kind of song is this?" they
But Hsüeh P'an went on singing:
"Two flies buzz weng, weng, weng."
"Enough," shouted his companions, "that will do, that will do!"
"Do you want to hear it or not?" asked Hsüeh P'an, "this is a new kind
of song, called the 'Heng, heng air,' but if you people are not disposed
to listen, let me off also from saying what I have to say over the
heel-taps and I won't then sing."
"We'll let you off! We'll let you off," answered one and all, "so don't
be hindering others."
"A maiden is sad,"
Chiang Yü-han at once began,
When her husband leaves home and never does return.
A maiden is disconsolate,
When she has no money to go and buy some _olea frangrans_ oil.
A maiden is glad,
When the wick of the lantern forms two heads like twin flowers on one
A maiden is joyful,
When true conjugal peace prevails between her and her mate.
His recital over, he went on to sing:
"How I love thee with those seductive charms of thine, heaven-born!
In truth thou'rt like a living fairy from the azure skies!
The spring of life we now enjoy; we are yet young in years.
Our union is, indeed, a happy match!
But. lo! the milky way doth at its zenith soar;
Hark to the drums which beat around in the watch towers;
So raise the silver lamp and let us soft under the nuptial curtain
Finishing the song, he drank the "opening cup." "I know," he smiled,
"few poetical quotations bearing on this sort of thing. By a stroke of
good fortune, however, I yesterday conned a pair of antithetical
scrolls; of these I can only remember just one line, but lucky enough
for me the object it refers to figures as well on this festive board."
This said he forthwith drained the wine, and, picking up a bud of a
diminutive variety of _olea fragrans_, he recited:
"When the perfume of flowers wafts (hsi jen) itself into a man, he
knows the day is warm."
The company unanimously conceded that the rule had been adhered to. But
Hsüeh P'an once again jumped up. "It's awful, awful!" he bawled out
boisterously; "he should be fined, he should be made to pay a forfeit;
there's no precious article whatever on this table; how is it then that
you introduce precious things?"
"There was nothing about precious things!" Chiang Yü-han vehemently
"What I are you still prevaricating?" Hsüeh P'an cried, "Well, repeat it
Chiang Yü-han had no other course but to recite the line a second time.
"Now is not Hsi Jen a precious thing?" Hsüeh P'an asked. "If she isn't,
what is she? And if you don't believe me, you ask him about it,"
pointing, at the conclusion of this remark, at Pao-yü.
Pao-yü felt very uncomfortable. Rising to his feet, "Cousin," he
observed, "you should be fined heavily."
"I should be! I should be!" Hsüeh P'an shouted, and saying this, he took
up the wine and poured it down his throat with one gulp.
Feng Tzu-ying, Chiang Yü-han and their companions thereupon asked him to
explain the allusion. Yün Erh readily told them, and Chiang Yü-han
hastily got up and pleaded guilty.
"Ignorance," the party said with one consent, "does not amount to
But presently Pao-yü quitted the banquet to go and satisfy a natural
want and Chiang Yü-han followed him out. The two young fellows halted
under the eaves of the verandah, and Chiang Yü-han then recommenced to
make ample apologies. Pao-yü, however, was so attracted by his handsome
and genial appearance, that he took quite a violent fancy to him; and
squeezing his hand in a firm grip. "If you have nothing to do," he
urged, "do let us go over to our place. I've got something more to ask
you. It's this, there's in your worthy company some one called Ch'i
Kuan, with a reputation extending at present throughout the world; but,
unfortunately, I alone have not had the good luck of seeing him even
"This is really," rejoined Chiang Yü-han with a smile, "my own infant •
This disclosure at once made Pao-yü quite exuberant, and stamping his
feet he smiled. "How lucky! I'm in luck's way!" he exclaimed. "In very
truth your reputation is no idle report. But to-day is our first
meeting, and what shall I do?"
After some thought, he produced a fan from his sleeve, and, unloosening
one of the jade pendants, he handed it to Ch'i Kuan. "This is a mere
trifle," he said. "It does not deserve your acceptance, yet it will be a
small souvenir of our acquaintance to-day."
Ch'i Kuan received it with a smile. "I do not deserve," he replied,
"such a present. How am I worthy of such an honour! But never mind, I've
also got about me here a strange thing, which I put on this morning; it
is brand-new yet, and will, I hope, suffice to prove to you a little of
the feeling of esteem which I entertain for you."
With these protestations, he raised his garment, and, untying a deep red
sash, with which his nether clothes were fastened, he presented it to
Pao-yü. "This sash," he remarked, "is an article brought as tribute from
the Queen of the Hsi Hsiang Kingdom. If you attach this round you in
summer, your person will emit a fragrant perfume, and it will not
perspire. It was given to me yesterday by the Prince of Pei Ching, and
it is only to-day that I put it on. To any one else, I would certainly
not be willing to present it. But, Mr. Secundus, please do unfasten the
one you have on and give it to me to bind round me."
This proposal extremely delighted Pao-yü. With precipitate haste, he
accepted his gift, and, undoing the dark brown sash he wore, he
surrendered it to Ch'i Kuan. But both had just had time to adjust their
respective sashes when they heard a loud voice say: "Oh! I've caught
you!" And they perceived Hsüeh P'an come out by leaps and bounds.
Clutching the two young fellows, "What do you," he exclaimed, "leave
your wine for and withdraw from the banquet. Be quick and produce those
things, and let me see them!"
"There's nothing to see!" rejoined the two young fellows with one voice.
Hsüeh P'an, however, would by no means fall in with their views. And it
was only Feng Tzu-ying, who made his appearance on the scene, who
succeeded in dissuading him. So resuming their seats, they drank until
dark, when the company broke up.
Pao-yü, on his return into the garden, loosened his clothes, and had
tea. But Hsi Jen noticed that the pendant had disappeared from his fan
and she inquired of him what had become of it.
"I must have lost it this very moment," Pao-yü replied.
At bedtime, however, descrying a deep red sash, with spots like specks
of blood, attached round his waist, Hsi Jen guessed more or less the
truth of what must have transpired. "As you have such a nice sash to
fasten your trousers with," Hsi Jen consequently said, "you'd better
return that one of mine."
This reminder made the fact dawn upon Pao-yü that the sash had
originally been the property of Hsi Jen, and that he should by rights
not have parted with it; but however much he felt his conscience smitten
by remorse, he failed to see how he could very well disclose the truth
to her. He could therefore only put on a smiling expression and add,
"I'll give you another one instead."
Hsi Jen was prompted by his rejoinder to nod her head and sigh. "I felt
sure;" she observed; "that you'd go again and do these things! Yet you
shouldn't take my belongings and bestow them on that low-bred sort of
people. Can it be that no consideration finds a place in your heart?"
She then felt disposed to tender him a few more words of admonition, but
dreading, on the other hand, lest she should, by irritating him, bring
the fumes of the wine to his head, she thought it best to also retire to
Nothing worth noticing occurred during that night. The next day, when
she woke up at the break of day, she heard Pao-yü call out laughingly:
"Robbers have been here in the night; are you not aware of it? Just you
look at my trousers."
Hsi Jen lowered her head and looked. She saw at a glance that the sash,
which Pao-yü had worn the previous day, was bound round her own waist,
and she at once realised that Pao-yü must have effected the change
during the night; but promptly unbinding it, "I don't care for such
things!" she cried, "quick, take it away!"
At the sight of her manner, Pao-yü had to coax her with gentle terms.
This so disarmed Hsi Jen, that she felt under the necessity of putting
on the sash; but, subsequently when Pao-yü stepped out of the apartment,
she at last pulled it off, and, throwing it away in an empty box, she
found one of hers and fastened it round her waist.
Pao-yü, however, did not in the least notice what she did, but inquired
whether anything had happened the day before.
"Lady Secunda," Hsi Jen explained, "dispatched some one and fetched
Hsiao Hung away. Her wish was to have waited for your return; but as I
thought that it was of no consequence, I took upon myself to decide, and
sent her off."
"That's all right!" rejoined Pao-yü. "I knew all about it, there was no
need for her to wait."
"Yesterday," resumed Hsi Jen, "the Imperial Consort deputed the Eunuch
Hsia to bring a hundred and twenty ounces of silver and to convey her
commands that from the first to the third, there should be offered, in
the Ch'ing Hsu temple, thanksgiving services to last for three days and
that theatrical performances should be given, and oblations presented:
and to tell our senior master, Mr. Chia Chen, to take all the gentlemen,
and go and burn incense and worship Buddha. Besides this, she also sent
presents for the dragon festival."
Continuing, she bade a young servant-maid produce the presents, which
had been received the previous day. Then he saw two palace fans of the
best quality, two strings of musk-scented beads, two rolls of silk, as
fine as the phoenix tail, and a superior mat worked with hibiscus. At
the sight of these things, Pao-yü was filled with immeasurable
pleasure, and he asked whether the articles brought to all the others
were similar to his.
"The only things in excess of yours that our venerable mistress has,"
Hsi Jen explained, "consist of a scented jade sceptre and a pillow made
of agate. Those of your worthy father and mother, our master and
mistress, and of your aunt exceed yours by a scented sceptre of jade.
Yours are the same as Miss Pao's. Miss Lin's are like those of Misses
Secunda, Tertia and Quarta, who received nothing beyond a fan and
several pearls and none of all the other things. As for our senior lady,
Mrs. Chia Chu, and lady Secunda, these two got each two rolls of gauze,
two rolls of silk, two scented bags, and two sticks of medicine."
After listening to her enumeration, "What's the reason of this?" he
smiled. "How is it that Miss Lin's are not the same as mine, but that
Miss Pao's instead are like my own? May not the message have been
"When they were brought out of the palace yesterday," Hsi Jen rejoined,
"they were already divided in respective shares, and slips were also
placed on them, so that how could any mistake have been made? Yours were
among those for our dowager lady's apartments. When I went and fetched
them, her venerable ladyship said that I should tell you to go there
to-morrow at the fifth watch to return thanks.
"Of course, it's my duty to go over," Pao-yü cried at these words, but
forthwith calling Tzu Chüan: "Take these to your Miss Lin," he told her,
"and say that I got them, yesterday, and that she is at liberty to keep
out of them any that take her fancy."
Tzu Chüan expressed her obedience and took the things away. After a
short time she returned. "Miss Lin says," she explained, "that she also
got some yesterday, and that you, Master Secundus, should keep yours."
Hearing this reply, Pao-yü quickly directed a servant to put them away.
But when he had washed his face and stepped out of doors, bent upon
going to his grandmother's on the other side, in order to pay his
obeisance, he caught sight of Lin Tai-yü coming along towards him, from
the opposite direction. Pao-yü hurriedly walked up to her, "I told you,"
he smiled, "to select those you liked from my things; how is it you
didn't choose any?"
Lin Tai-yü had long before banished from her recollection the incident
of the previous day, which had made her angry with Pao-yü, and was only
exercised about the occurrence of this present occasion. "I'm not gifted
with such extreme good fortune," she consequently answered, "as to be
able to accept them. I can't compete with Miss Pao, in connection with
whom something or other about gold or about jade is mentioned. We are
simply beings connected with the vegetable kingdom."
The allusion to the two words "gold and jade," aroused, of a sudden,
much emotion in the heart of Pao-yü. "If beyond what people say about
gold or jade," he protested, "the idea of any such things ever crosses
my mind, may the heavens annihilate me, and may the earth extinguish me,
and may I for ten thousand generations never assume human form!"
These protestations convinced Lin Tai-yü that suspicion had been aroused
in him. With all promptitude, she smiled and observed, "They're all to
no use! Why utter such oaths, when there's no rhyme or reason! Who cares
about any gold or any jade of yours!"
"It would be difficult for me to tell you, to your face, all the secrets
of my heart," Pao-yü resumed, "but by and bye you'll surely come to know
all about them! After the three--my old grandmother, my father and my
mother--you, my cousin, hold the fourth place; and, if there be a
fifth, I'm ready to swear another oath."
"You needn't swear any more," Lin Tai-yü replied, "I'm well aware that
I, your younger cousin, have a place in your heart; but the thing is
that at the sight of your elder cousin, you at once forget all about
your younger cousin."
"This comes again from over-suspicion!" ejaculated Pao; "for I'm not at
all disposed that way."
"Well," resumed Lin Tai-yü, "why did you yesterday appeal to me when
that hussey Pao-ch'ai would not help you by telling a story? Had it been
I, who had been guilty of any such thing, I don't know what you wouldn't
have done again."
But during their _tête-a-tête_, they espied Pao-ch'ai approach from
the opposite direction, so readily they beat a retreat. Pao-ch'ai had
distinctly caught sight of them, but pretending she had not seen them,
she trudged on her way, with lowered head, and repaired into Madame
Wang's apartments. After a short stay, she came to this side to pay
dowager lady Chia a visit. With her she also found Pao-yü.
Pao-ch'ai ever made it a point to hold Pao-yü aloof as her mother had in
days gone by mentioned to Madame Wang and her other relatives that the
gold locket had been the gift of a bonze, that she had to wait until
such time as some suitor with jade turned up before she could be given
in marriage, and other similar confidences. But on discovery the
previous day that Yüan Ch'un's presents to her alone resembled those of
Pao-yü, she began to feel all the more embarrassed. Luckily, however,
Pao-yü was so entangled in Lin Tai-yü's meshes and so absorbed in heart
and mind with fond thoughts of his Lin Tai-yü that he did not pay the
least attention to this circumstance. But she unawares now heard Pao-yü
remark with a smile: "Cousin Pao, let me see that string of scented
beads of yours!"
By a strange coincidence, Pao-ch'ai wore the string of beads round her
left wrist so she had no alternative, when Pao-yü asked her for it, than
to take it off. Pao-ch'ai, however, was naturally inclined to
embonpoint, and it proved therefore no easy matter for her to get the
beads off; and while Pao-yü stood by watching her snow-white arm,
feelings of admiration were quickly stirred up in his heart. "Were this
arm attached to Miss Lin's person," he secretly pondered, "I might,
possibly have been able to caress it! But it is, as it happens, part and
parcel of her body; how I really do deplore this lack of good fortune."
Suddenly he bethought himself of the secret of gold and jade, and he
again scanned Pao-ch'ai's appearance. At the sight of her countenance,
resembling a silver bowl, her eyes limpid like water and almond-like in
shape, her lips crimson, though not rouged, her eyebrows jet-black,
though not pencilled, also of that fascination and grace which presented
such a contrast to Lin Tai-yü's style of beauty, he could not refrain
from falling into such a stupid reverie, that though Pao-ch'ai had got
the string of beads off her wrist, and was handing them to him, he
forgot all about them and made no effort to take them. Pao-ch'ai
realised that he was plunged in abstraction, and conscious of the
awkward position in which she was placed, she put down the string of
beads, and turning round was on the point of betaking herself away, when
she perceived Lin Tai-yü, standing on the door-step, laughing
significantly while biting a handkerchief she held in her mouth. "You
can't resist," Pao-ch'ai said, "a single puff of wind; and why do you
stand there and expose yourself to the very teeth of it?"
"Wasn't I inside the room?" rejoined Lin Tai-yü, with a cynical smile.
"But I came out to have a look as I heard a shriek in the heavens; it
turned out, in fact, to be a stupid wild goose!"
"A stupid wild goose!" repeated Pao-ch'ai. "Where is it, let me also see
"As soon as I got out," answered Lin Tai-yü, "it flew away with a
't'e-rh' sort of noise."
While replying, she threw the handkerchief, she was holding, straight
into Pao-yü's face. Pao-yü was quite taken by surprise. He was hit on
the eye. "Ai-yah!" he exclaimed.
But, reader, do you want to hear the sequel? In that case, listen to the
circumstances, which will be disclosed in the next chapter.
A happy man enjoys a full measure of happiness, but still prays for
A beloved girl is very much loved, but yet craves for more love.
Pao-yü, so our story runs, was gazing vacantly, when Tai-yü, at a moment
least expected, flung her handkerchief at him, which just hit him on the
eyes, and frightened him out of his wits. "Who was it?" he cried.
Lin Tai-yü nodded her head and smiled. "I would not venture to do such a
thing," she said, "it was a mere slip of my hand. As cousin Pao-ch'ai
wished to see the silly wild goose, I was pointing it out to her, when
the handkerchief inadvertently flew out of my grip."
Pao-yü kept on rubbing his eyes. The idea suggested itself to him to
make some remonstrance, but he could not again very well open his lips.
Presently, lady Feng arrived. She then alluded, in the course of
conversation, to the thanksgiving service, which was to be offered on
the first, in the Ch'ing Hsü temple, and invited Pao-ch'ai, Pao-yü,
Tai-yü and the other inmates with them to be present at the theatricals.
"Never mind," smiled Pao-ch'ai, "it's too hot; besides, what plays
haven't I seen? I don't mean to come."
"It's cool enough over at their place," answered lady Feng. "There are
also two-storied buildings on either side; so we must all go! I'll send
servants a few days before to drive all that herd of Taoist priests out,
to sweep the upper stories, hang up curtains, and to keep out every
single loafer from the interior of the temple; so it will be all right
like that. I've already told our Madame Wang that if you people don't
go, I mean to go all alone, as I've been again in very low spirits these
last few days, and as when theatricals come off at home, it's out of the
question for me to look on with any peace and quiet."
When dowager lady Chia heard what she said, she smiled. "Well, in that
case," she remarked, "I'll go along with you."
Lady Feng, at these words, gave a smile. "Venerable ancestor," she
replied, "were you also to go, it would be ever so much better; yet I
won't feel quite at my ease!"
"To-morrow," dowager lady Chia continued, "I can stay in the two-storied
building, situated on the principal site, while you can go to the one on
the side. You can then likewise dispense with coming over to where I
shall be to stand on any ceremonies. Will this suit you or not?"
"This is indeed," lady Feng smiled, "a proof of your regard for me, my
Old lady Chia at this stage faced Pao-ch'ai. "You too should go," she
said, "so should your mother; for if you remain the whole day long at
home, you will again sleep your head off."
Pao-ch'ai felt constrained to signify her assent. Dowager lady Chia then
also despatched domestics to invite Mrs. Hsüeh; and, on their way, they
notified Madame Wang that she was to take the young ladies along with
her. But Madame Wang felt, in the first place, in a poor state of
health, and was, in the second, engaged in making preparations for the
reception of any arrivals from Yüan Ch'un, so that she, at an early
hour, sent word that it was impossible for her to leave the house. Yet
when she received old lady Chia's behest, she smiled and exclaimed: "Are
her spirits still so buoyant!" and transmitted the message into the
garden that any, who had any wish to avail themselves of the
opportunity, were at liberty to go on the first, with their venerable
senior as their chaperonne. As soon as these tidings were spread abroad,
every one else was indifferent as to whether they went or not; but of
those girls who, day after day, never put their foot outside the
doorstep, which of them was not keen upon going, the moment they heard
the permission conceded to them? Even if any of their respective
mistresses were too lazy to move, they employed every expedient to
induce them to go. Hence it was that Li Kung-ts'ai and the other inmates
signified their unanimous intention to be present. Dowager lady Chia, at
this, grew more exultant than ever, and she issued immediate directions
for servants to go and sweep and put things in proper order. But to all
these preparations, there is no necessity of making detailed reference;
sufficient to relate that on the first day of the moon, carriages stood
in a thick maze, and men and horses in close concourse, at the entrance
of the Jung Kuo mansion.
When the servants, the various managers and other domestics came to
learn that the Imperial Consort was to perform good deeds and that
dowager lady Chia was to go in person and offer incense, they arranged,
as it happened that the first of the moon, which was the principal day
of the ceremonies, was, in addition, the season of the dragon-boat
festival, all the necessary articles in perfect readiness and with
unusual splendour. Shortly, old lady Chia and the other inmates started
on their way. The old lady sat in an official chair, carried by eight
bearers: widow Li, lady Feng and Mrs. Hsüeh, each in a four-bearer
chair. Pao-ch'ai and Tai-yü mounted together a curricle with green cover
and pearl tassels, bearing the eight precious things. The three sisters,
Ying Ch'un, T'an Ch'un, and Hsi Ch'un got in a carriage with red wheels
and ornamented hood. Next in order, followed dowager lady Chia's
waiting-maids, Yüan Yang, Ying Wu, Hu Po, Chen Chu; Lin Tai-yü's
waiting-maids Tzu Chüan, Hsüeh Yen, and Ch'un Ch'ien; Pao-ch'ai's
waiting-maids Ying Erh and Wen Hsing; Ying Ch'un's servant-girls Ssu
Ch'i and Hsiu Chü; T'an Ch'un's waiting-maids Shih Shu and Ts'ui Mo; Hsi
Ch'un's servant-girls Ju Hua and Ts'ai P'ing; and Mrs. Hsüeh's
waiting-maids T'ung Hsi, and T'ung Kuei. Besides these, were joined to
their retinue: Hsiang Ling and Hsiang Ling's servant-girl Ch'in Erh;
Mrs. Li's waiting-maids Su Yün and Pi Yüeh; lady Feng's servant-girls
P'ing Erh, Feng Erh and Hsiao Hung, as well as Madame Wang's two
waiting-maids Chin Ch'uan and Ts'ai Yün. Along with lady Feng, came a
nurse carrying Ta Chieh Erh. She drove in a separate carriage, together
with a couple of servant-girls. Added also to the number of the suite
were matrons and nurses, attached to the various establishments, and the
wives of the servants of the household, who were in attendance out of
doors. Their carriages, forming one black solid mass, therefore, crammed
the whole extent of the street.
Dowager lady Chia and other members of the party had already proceeded a
considerable distance in their chairs, and yet the inmates at the gate
had not finished mounting their vehicles. This one shouted: "I won't sit
with you." That one cried: "You've crushed our mistress' bundle." In the
carriages yonder, one screamed: "You've pulled my flowers off." Another
one nearer exclaimed: "You've broken my fan." And they chatted and
chatted, and talked and laughed with such incessant volubility, that
Chou Jui's wife had to go backward and forward calling them to task.
"Girls," she said, "this is the street. The on-lookers will laugh at
you!" But it was only after she had expostulated with them several times
that any sign of improvement became at last visible.
The van of the procession had long ago reached the entrance of the
Ch'ing Hsü Temple. Pao-yü rode on horseback. He preceded the chair
occupied by his grandmother Chia. The throngs that filled the streets
ranged themselves on either side.
On their arrival at the temple, the sound of bells and the rattle of
drums struck their ear. Forthwith appeared the head-bonze Chang, a stick
of incense in hand; his cloak thrown over his shoulders. He took his
stand by the wayside at the head of a company of Taoist priests to
present his greetings. The moment dowager lady Chia reached, in her
chair, the interior of the main gate, she descried the lares and
penates, the lord presiding over that particular district, and the clay
images of the various gods, and she at once gave orders to halt. Chia
Chen advanced to receive her acting as leader to the male members of the
family. Lady Feng was well aware that Yüan Yang and the other attendants
were at the back and could not overtake their old mistress, so she
herself alighted from her chair to volunteer her services. She was about
to hastily press forward and support her, when, by a strange accident, a
young Taoist neophyte, of twelve or thirteen years of age, who held a
case containing scissors, with which he had been snuffing the candles
burning in the various places, just seized the opportunity to run out
and hide himself, when he unawares rushed, head foremost, into lady
Feng's arms. Lady Feng speedily raised her hand and gave him such a slap
on the face that she made the young fellow reel over and perform a
somersault. "You boorish young bastard!" she shouted, "where are you
The young Taoist did not even give a thought to picking up the scissors,
but crawling up on to his feet again, he tried to scamper outside. But
just at that very moment Pao-ch'ai and the rest of the young ladies were
dismounting from their vehicles, and the matrons and women-servants were
closing them in so thoroughly on all sides that not a puff of wind or a
drop of rain could penetrate, and when they perceived a Taoist neophyte
come rushing headlong out of the place, they, with one voice, exclaimed:
"Catch him, catch him! Beat him, beat him!"
Old lady Chia overheard their cries. She asked with alacrity what the
fuss was all about. Chia Chen immediately stepped outside to make
inquiries. Lady Feng then advanced and, propping up her old senior, she
went on to explain to her that a young Taoist priest, whose duties were
to snuff the candles, had not previously retired out of the compound,
and that he was now endeavouring to recklessly force his way out."
"Be quick and bring the lad here," shouted dowager lady Chia, as soon as
she heard her explanation, "but, mind, don't frighten him. Children of
mean families invariably get into the way of being spoilt by
over-indulgence. How ever could he have set eyes before upon such
display as this! Were you to frighten him, he will really be much to be
pitied; and won't his father and mother be exceedingly cut up?"
As she spoke, she asked Chia Chen to go and do his best to bring him
round. Chia Chen felt under the necessity of going, and he managed to
drag the lad into her presence. With the scissors still clasped in his
hand, the lad fell on his knees, and trembled violently.
Dowager lady Chia bade Chia Chen raise him up. "There's nothing to
fear!" she said reassuringly. Then she asked him how old he was.
The boy, however, could on no account give vent to speech.
"Poor boy!" once more exclaimed the old lady. And continuing: "Brother
Chen," she added, addressing herself to Chia Chen, "take him away, and
give him a few cash to buy himself fruit with; and do impress upon every
one that they are not to bully him."
Chia Chen signified his assent and led him off.
During this time, old lady Chia, taking along with her the whole family
party, paid her devotions in storey after storey, and visited every
The young pages, who stood outside, watched their old mistress and the
other inmates enter the second row of gates. But of a sudden they espied
Chia Chen wend his way outwards, leading a young Taoist priest, and
calling the servants to come, say; "Take him and give him several
hundreds of cash and abstain from ill-treating him." At these orders,
the domestics approached with hurried step and led him off.
Chia Chen then inquired from the terrace-steps where the majordomo was.
At this inquiry, the pages standing below, called out in chorus,
Lin Chih-hsiao ran over at once, while adjusting his hat with one hand,
and appeared in the presence of Chia Chen.
"Albeit this is a spacious place," Chia Chen began, "we muster a good
concourse to-day, so you'd better bring into this court those servants,
who'll be of any use to you, and send over into that one those who
won't. And choose a few from among those young pages to remain on duty,
at the second gate and at the two side entrances, so as to ask for
things and deliver messages. Do you understand me, yes or no? The young
ladies and ladies have all come out of town to-day, and not a single
outsider must be permitted to put his foot in here."
"I understand," replied Lin Chih-hsiao hurriedly signifying his
obedience. Next he uttered several yes's.
"Now," proceeded Chia Chen; "you can go on your way. But how is it, I
don't see anything of Jung Erh?" he went on to ask.
This question was barely out of his lips, when he caught sight of Jung
Erh running out of the belfry. "Look at him," shouted Chia Chen. "Look
at him! I don't feel hot in here, and yet he must go in search of a cool
place. Spit at him!" he cried to the family servants.
The young pages were fully aware that Chia Chen's ordinary disposition
was such that he could not brook contradiction, and one of the lads
speedily came forward and sputtered in Chia Jung's face. But Chia Chen
still kept his gaze fixed on him, so the young page had to inquire of
Chia Jung: "Master doesn't feel hot here, and how is it that you, Sir,
have been the first to go and get cool?"
Chia Jung however dropped his arms, and did not venture to utter a
single sound. Chia Yün, Chia P'ing, Chia Ch'in and the other young
people overheard what was going on and not only were they scared out of
their wits, but even Chia Lien, Chia Pin, Chia Ch'ung and their
companions were stricken with intense fright and one by one they quietly
slipped down along the foot of the wall.
"What are you standing there for?" Chia Chen shouted to Chia Jung.
"Don't you yet get on your horse and gallop home and tell your mother
that our venerable senior is here with all the young ladies, and bid
them come at once and wait upon them?"
As soon as Chia Jung heard these words, he ran out with hurried stride
and called out repeatedly for his horse. Now he felt resentment, arguing
within himself: "Who knows what he has been up to the whole morning,
that he now finds fault with me!" Now he went on to abuse the young
servants, crying: "Are your hands made fast, that you can't lead the
horse round?" And he felt inclined to bid a servant-boy go on the
errand, but fearing again lest he should subsequently be found out, and
be at a loss how to account for his conduct he felt compelled to proceed
in person; so mounting his steed, he started on his way.
But to return to Chia Chen. Just as he was about to be take himself
inside, he noticed the Taoist Chang, who stood next to him, force a
smile. "I'm not properly speaking," he remarked, "on the same footing as
the others and should be in attendance inside, but as on account of the
intense heat, the young ladies have come out of doors, I couldn't
presume to take upon myself to intrude and ask what your orders, Sir,
are. But the dowager lady may possibly inquire about me, or may like to
visit any part of the temple, so I shall wait in here."
Chia Chen was fully cognisant that this Taoist priest, Chang, had, it is
true, in past days, stood as a substitute for the Duke of the Jung Kuo
mansion, but that the former Emperor had, with his own lips, conferred
upon him the appellation of the 'Immortal being of the Great Unreal,'
that he held at present the seal of 'Taoist Superior,' that the reigning
Emperor had raised him to the rank of the 'Pure man,' that the princes,
now-a-days, dukes, and high officials styled him the "Supernatural
being," and he did not therefore venture to treat him with any
disrespect. In the second place, (he knew that) he had paid frequent
visits to the mansions, and that he had made the acquaintance of the
ladies and young ladies, so when he heard his present remark he
smilingly rejoined. "Do you again make use of such language amongst
ourselves? One word more, and I'll take that beard of yours, and outroot
it! Don't you yet come along with me inside?"
"Hah, hah," laughed the Taoist Chang aloud, as he followed Chia Chen in.
Chia Chen approached dowager lady Chia. Bending his body he strained a
laugh. "Grandfather Chang," he said, "has come in to pay his respects."
"Raise him up!" old lady Chia vehemently called out.
Chia Chen lost no time in pulling him to his feet and bringing him over.
The Taoist Chang first indulged in loud laughter. "Oh Buddha of
unlimited years!" he then observed. "Have you kept all right and in good
health, throughout, venerable Senior? Have all the ladies and young
ladies continued well? I haven't been for some time to your mansion to
pay my obeisance, but you, my dowager lady, have improved more and
"Venerable Immortal Being!" smiled old lady Chia, "how are you; quite
"Thanks to the ten thousand blessings he has enjoyed from your hands,"
rejoined Chang the Taoist, "your servant too continues pretty strong and
hale. In every other respect, I've, after all, been all right; but I
have felt much concern about Mr. Pao-yü. Has he been all right all the
time? The other day, on the 26th of the fourth moon, I celebrated the
birthday of the 'Heaven-Pervading-Mighty-King;' few people came and
everything went off right and proper. I told them to invite Mr. Pao to
come for a stroll; but how was it they said that he wasn't at home?"
"It was indeed true that he was away from home," remarked dowager lady
Chia. As she spoke, she turned her head round and called Pao-yü.
Pao-yü had, as it happened, just returned from outside where he had been
to make himself comfortable, and with speedy step, he came forward. "My
respects to you, grandfather Chang," he said.
The Taoist Chang eagerly clasped him in his arms and inquired how he was
getting on. Turning towards old lady Chia, "Mr. Pao," he observed, "has
grown fatter than ever."
"Outwardly, his looks," replied dowager lady Chia, "may be all right,
but, inwardly, he is weak. In addition to this, his father presses him
so much to study that he has again and again managed, all through this
bullying, to make his child fall sick."
"The other day," continued Chang the Taoist, "I went to several places
on a visit, and saw characters written by Mr. Pao and verses composed by
him, all of which were exceedingly good; so how is it that his worthy
father still feels displeased with him, and maintains that Mr. Pao is
not very fond of his books? According to my humble idea, he knows quite
enough. As I consider Mr. Pao's face, his bearing, his speech and his
deportment," he proceeded, heaving a sigh, "what a striking resemblance
I find in him to the former duke of the Jung mansion!" As he uttered
these words, tears rolled down his cheeks.
At these words, old lady Chia herself found it hard to control her
feelings. Her face became covered with the traces of tears. "Quite so,"
she assented, "I've had ever so many sons and grandsons, and not one of
them betrayed the slightest resemblance to his grandfather; and this
Pao-yü turns out to be the very image of him!"
"What the former duke of Jung Kuo was like in appearance," Chang, the
Taoist went on to remark, addressing himself to Chia Chen, "you
gentlemen, and your generation, were, of course, needless to say, not in
time to see for yourselves; but I fancy that even our Senior master and
our Master Secundus have but a faint recollection of it."
This said, he burst into another loud fit of laughter. "The other day,"
he resumed, "I was at some one's house and there I met a young girl, who
is this year in her fifteenth year, and verily gifted with a beautiful
face, and I bethought myself that Mr. Pao must also have a wife found
for him. As far as looks, intelligence and mental talents, extraction
and family standing go, this maiden is a suitable match for him. But as
I didn't know what your venerable ladyship would have to say about it,
your servant did not presume to act recklessly, but waited until I could
ascertain your wishes before I took upon myself to open my mouth with
the parties concerned."
"Some time ago," responded dowager lady Chia, "a bonze explained that it
was ordained by destiny that this child shouldn't be married at an early
age, and that we should put things off until he grew somewhat in years
before anything was settled. But mark my words now. Pay no regard as to
whether she be of wealthy and honourable stock or not, the essential
thing is to find one whose looks make her a fit match for him and then
come at once and tell me. For even admitting that the girl is poor, all
I shall have to do will be to bestow on her a few ounces of silver; but
fine looks and a sweet temperament are not easy things to come across."
When she had done speaking, lady Feng was heard to smilingly interpose:
"Grandfather Chang, aren't you going to change the talisman of 'Recorded
Name' of our daughter? The other day, lucky enough for you, you had
again the great cheek to send some one to ask me for some satin of
gosling-yellow colour. I gave it to you, for had I not, I was afraid
lest your old face should have been made to feel uneasy."