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Two Years in the Forbidden City by The Princess Der Ling

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I read this to Her Majesty. She seemed to be quite pleased, and
said: "I had no idea that you could read so well. This game was my
own invention and I taught three Court ladies to play. I had a
very hard time teaching them. I also taught them how to read
Chinese in order to play the game, but it took them so long to
learn anything that I got quite discouraged before I got through
with them. I am sure you know how to play it now." I was very much
surprised to hear that these Court ladies were as ignorant as
this. I thought they must be excellent scholars, so did not dare
to show my knowledge of Chinese literature. We began to play the
game. Her Majesty was lucky. The two fairies held by her were way
ahead of ours. One of the Court ladies said to me: "You will be
surprised to see that Lao Tsu Tsung is always the winner." Her
Majesty smiled and said to me: "You will never be able to catch my
fairies." She said: "You are the first day here to play this game
and if any of your fairies beat any of mine I will give you a nice
present, so hurry up." I thought I could never get ahead of her
fairies, for they were so far ahead of mine, but I tried hard, as
Her Majesty told me to call out for the points I wanted. I did,
but it came out something so different that it amused her a great
deal. I had no idea how long we were playing this game. We counted
who came next, and that was one of my fairies, so Her Majesty said
to me: "I was sure you could not beat me, as no one could. Seeing
that yours are next to mine, I will give you the present just the
same." While she was saying this she told a servant girl to bring
her some embroidered handkerchiefs. This girl brought several
colored ones to her, and she asked me what color I preferred. She
handed me a pink one and a pale blue one, all embroidered with
purple wisteria, and said: "These two are the best, and I want you
to take them." I was just going to thank her by bowing to the
ground, but I found that my legs could not move. I tried hard and
succeeded finally, with difficulty. Her Majesty laughed very
heartily at me and said: "You see you are not accustomed to
standing so long and you cannot bend your knees any more."
Although my legs were sore I thought I had better not show it, but
smiled and told her that it was nothing, only my legs were a
little stiff, that was all. She said: "You must go and sit on the
veranda and rest a minute." I was only too glad to sit down, so I
went to the veranda and found the Young Empress sitting there with
several Court ladies. The Young Empress said: "You must be tired
standing so long. Come and sit near me." My legs were very stiff
and my back was tired. Of course Her Majesty did not know how
uncomfortable we were while she was sitting on her cozy throne.
Foreign attire is out of the question for the Imperial Palace of
Peking. I had hoped that Her Majesty would tell us to change into
our Manchu gowns. I noticed that she asked many questions every
day about foreign costumes, and she said: "The foreign costume is
not any prettier than ours and I should say they must be quite
uncomfortable round one's waist. I wouldn't be squeezed that way
for anything." Although she was saying such things she did not
suggest that we should give them up, so we had to wait patiently
for her orders. The Young Empress took her watch out of her
pocket, and said to me: "This game has lasted just two hours." I
said to her that it seemed to me longer than that. While we were
talking I saw our own eunuchs bringing four round boxes, made of
thin board, carried at each end of bamboo poles. They put them
down near where we sat, and one of them brought me a cup of tea.
When my mother and sister came the same eunuch brought another two
cups, and there were several Court ladies talking with us. This
eunuch did not give them any. I noticed at the other end of this
long veranda there were another two boxes, exactly the same as
these, and a big tall eunuch made tea and brought it to the Young
Empress in a yellow porcelain cup, with a silver saucer and a
silver top cover. He did not give any to the others.

I was puzzled when one of the Court ladies sitting next to me
said: "Would you mind telling Wang (our head eunuch) to give me a
cup of your tea, just to save me the trouble to go and get it from
the small room at the end of this long veranda?" I gave her such a
surprised look, for I did not know that this was our tea, but I
thought I'd just tell Wang to bring her a cup, and find out
afterwards the reason, for I would give anything in the world
rather than appear ignorant before those people. While we were
talking Her Majesty came out. Before she reached the veranda I got
up and told the Young Empress that Her Majesty was coming. I saw
her first because I sat facing her back hall. Her Majesty said to
us all: "It is almost three o'clock now, and I am going to rest a
while. Let us leave here." We all stood in a line for her to enter
her chair, and then we went to ours. It was quite a fast ride and
we got out of our chairs before arriving at the courtyard of her
own Palace. We walked ahead of her chair and formed into another
line for her to alight. She walked to her bedroom and we all
followed. A eunuch brought her a cup of hot water and another
brought a bowl of sugar. She took her golden spoon and took two
teaspoonfuls of sugar and put it into her cup of hot water, and
drank it very slowly. She said: "You know before one goes to sleep
or ever lies down, sugar water will quiet one's nerves. I always
take it, and find it very good indeed." She took the flowers off
from her headdress and I fixed them back in their boxes at once,
and placed them in the jewel-room. When I came out of this
jewel-room she was in bed already, and said to us: "You all go and
rest a while. I don't need you now."



WE retired from her room, but I noticed that two of the Court
ladies did not come out with us. One of them said to me: "I am
glad that I can rest a bit to-day, for I have been sitting three
afternoons in succession." At first I did not know what she meant.
Then she said: "Oh, your turn has not come yet. We don't know
whether you received the order or not. You know two of us must
stay with Her Majesty during her afternoon siesta, to watch the
eunuchs and the servant girls." I thought that was the funniest
thing I had ever heard of, and wondered how many people would be
in her room. The Young Empress said: "We had better go at once and
rest ourselves, otherwise Her Majesty will be up again before we
get the chance." Of course I had not the least idea how long she
slept. So we went back to our rooms. I did not realize how tired I
was until I sat down in my room. I felt finished and awfully
sleepy at the same time, for I was not used to getting up at 5
o'clock. Everything was so new to me. As I sat there my thoughts
wandered to Paris, and I thought how strange it was that I used to
go to bed at 5 o'clock after the dances, and here I had to get up
at such a time. All the surroundings seemed new to me, seeing the
eunuchs running here and there waiting on us, as if they were
chambermaids. I told them that I didn't need them any more. I
wanted them to go out of the room so that I could lie down a bit.
They brought us tea and different kinds of candies, and asked what
else was wanted. I was just going to change into a comfortable
dress, when the eunuch came in and informed me that "Yo ker lila"
(visitors have come), and two Court ladies came, and another girl
of about seventeen came in. I had seen her that very morning when
I came to the Palace, busy working, but I was not introduced to
her. These two girls said: "We have come to see you and also to
find out if you are comfortable." I thought they were kind to come
and see me that way, but I did not like their faces. They
introduced this mean-looking girl to me and told me her name was
Chun Shou (Graceful Long Life). She did not look as if her life
would last long, being so thin and delicate. She looked sick and
worn out to me. I did not know who she was. She courtesied to me
and I returned to her, in a sort of half way. (I will explain
about the courtesy.)

(To Her Majesty, the Emperor and the Young Empress, we went down
and bent our knees, while we stood upright to the people of lower
rank than ourselves. In this case one must always wait while the
inferior courtesies first, and bend the knees a little bit in
return. This was the way I returned Chun Shou's courtesy to me.)
The two girls then said "Chun Shou's father is only a small
official, so she has not much standing at the Court. She is not
exactly a Court lady, but she is not a servant girl either." I
almost laughed right out, to hear such a funny statement, and
wondered what she must be. I saw her sitting down with the Court
ladies that very morning, so of course I asked her to sit down,
too. These two Court ladies asked me if I felt tired, and how I
liked the Empress Dowager. I told them that Her Majesty was the
most lovely lady I had ever seen, and that I already loved her
very much, although I had only been there a few days. They looked
at Chun Shou and exchanged smiles. They did that in such a
peculiar way that it annoyed me. They asked: "Do you think you
would like to live in this place, and how long do you intend to
stay?" I said I would love to stay long, and would do my best to
wait on Her Majesty, and be useful to her, for she had been so
kind towards us in the short time we had been there, and besides,
it was my duty to serve my sovereign and country. They laughed and
said: "We pity you, and are sorry for you. You must not expect any
appreciation here, no matter how hard you work. If you are really
going to do as you have said just now, you will be disliked by

I did not know what they were talking about, or what their
conversation referred to. I thought this was so strange that I had
better put a stop to it, so I immediately changed the subject. I
asked them who dressed their hair, and who made their shoes for
them, as they had asked me. They answered my questions by saying
that their maids did everything for them. Chun Shou said to these
two girls: "Tell her everything about this Palace, and I am sure
she will change her mind when she actually sees things for
herself." I didn't like this Chun Shou, and her face didn't
impress me. She was a little bit of a thing, tiny head with thin
lips. When she laughed one could only hear the noise she made; no
expression was on her face at all. I was just going to say
something to them, so as not to give them the opportunity of
gossiping, but found they were too cunning. They noticed that I
tried every way to stop them, so they said: "Now let us tell you
everything. No one else will know. We like you very much and we
want to give you some warning, so as to be able to protect
yourself whenever you are in trouble." I told them that I would
take great care to do my work and didn't think that I would ever
get into trouble. They laughed and said: "That makes no
difference. Her Majesty will find fault." I could not believe
these things that they said, and intended to tell them that I
refused to hear such statements, but I thought I had better listen
to what they had to say first and not to offend them, for I never
believed in making enemies. I then told them that it would be
impossible for so sweet and kind-hearted a person like Lao Tsu
Tsung (the old ancestor) to find fault with such helpless girls as
we were, for we were her people, and she could do anything she
liked with us. They said: "You don't know, and have no idea how
wicked this place is; such torture and suffering one could not
imagine. We are sure that you think you must be happy to be with
the great Empress Dowager, and proud to be her Court Lady. Your
day hasn't come yet, for you all are new to her. Yes, she is
extremely kind to you just now, but wait until she gets tired of
you and then see what she will do. We have had enough, and know
what the Court life is. Of course you must have heard that Li Lien
Ying (the head eunuch) rules this Palace behind Lao Tsu Tsung's
back. We are all afraid of him. He pretends that he cannot
influence Lao Tsu Tsung, but we always know the result after a
long conversation consulting how to punish anyone. If any of us do
anything wrong, we always go to him and beg him to help us out.
Then he says he has no power to influence Her Majesty, and also
that he dare not tell her much, for she would scold him. We hate
all the eunuchs, they are such bad people. We can see very plainly
they are awfully polite to you because they can see that you are
in favor. To receive such rudeness from them, constantly, as we
do, is unbearable.

"Lao Tsu Tsung is very changeable. She may like one person to-day,
to-morrow she hates this same person worse than poison. She has
moods, and has no appreciation whatsoever. Even Chu Tzu, the Young
Empress (Chu Tzu means Mistress, that is to say she was mistress
of us all, for the Manchus were considered by the sovereign as
slaves) is afraid of Li Lien Ying, and has to be very nice to him.
In fact, we all have to be polite to him." They talked so long
that I thought they would never finish. About this time Wang came
in and brought tea for us. Suddenly I heard people howling in the
distance, so I asked Wang what was the matter. The girls were
listening also and a eunuch came flying in and told us Lao Fo Yeh
chin la (The Great Buddha wakes up). The girls got up and said we
must all go to see her, so they went. I was not at all pleased
with their visit, and wished they hadn't come, especially as they
told me such horrible things. It made me quite sad to listen to
the awful way they talked about Her Majesty. I loved her the first
day I was there, and made up my mind to forget everything they had
told me.

I was cross also because I didn't have time to change my clothes,
and had to go up to Her Majesty at once. I went into her bedroom,
and found her sitting upon the bed cross-legged, with a small
table placed on the bed in front of her. She smiled and asked:
"Have you had a good rest? Did you sleep at all?" I said that I
was not sleepy, and could not sleep in the daytime. She said:
"When you are old like me, you will be able to sleep at any time.
Just now you are young, and fond of play. I think you must have
been on the hills to gather flowers, or walked too much, for you
look tired." I could only say "Yes." The two Court ladies who had
just been talking nonsense about Her Majesty came in, to assist in
handing her the toilet articles. I looked at them, and felt
ashamed for them to face her, after having said so many
disagreeable things. Her Majesty washed her face and combed her
hair, and a servant girl brought her fresh flowers, of white
jasmine and roses. Her Majesty stuck them in her hair and said to
me: "I am always fond of fresh flowers--better than jade and
pearls. I love to see the little plants grow, and I water them
myself. I have been so busy ever since you came that I haven't
been able to visit my plants. Tell them to get the dinner ready
and I will take a walk afterwards." I came out of her room and
gave the eunuch the order. As usual we brought little dainties to
her. By this time Her Majesty was dressed and was sitting in the
large hall, playing solitaire with her dominoes. The eunuch laid
the tables as usual, and Her Majesty stopped play, and commenced
to eat. She asked me: "How do you like this kind of life?" I told
her that I very much enjoyed being with her. She said: "What kind
of a place is this wonderful Paris I have heard so much about? Did
you enjoy yourself while you were there, and do you wish to go
back again? It must be hard for you people to leave China for
three or four years, and I suppose you were all pleased when you
received the order to come back, after your father's term was

The only thing I could say was "Yes," because it wouldn't be nice
to tell her that I was awfully sorry to leave Paris. She said: "I
think we have everything in China, only the life is different.
What is dancing? Someone told me that two people hold hands and
jump all over the room. If that is the case I don't see any
pleasure in it at all. Do you have to jump up and down with men?
They told me that old women, with white hair, dance, too." I
explained to her about the balls given by the President, and all
the private dances, and also all about the masquerade balls, etc.
Her Majesty said: "I don't like this masquerade ball because you
don't know whom you are dancing with if they are wearing a mask."
I explained to her how carefully the people issued their
invitations, and that anyone who behaved badly could never enter
into high society. Her Majesty said: "I would like to see how you
jump, can you show me a little?" I went in search of my sister,
and found her busy talking to the Young Empress. I told her that
Her Majesty wished to see how people dance, and that we must show
her. The Young Empress and all the Court ladies heard this, and
all said that they also wished to see. My sister said that she had
noticed a large gramophone in Her Majesty's bedroom, and that
perhaps we could find some music. I thought that was a good idea,
and went to ask her for the gramophone. She said: "Oh, must you
jump with music?" I almost laughed when she said that, and told
her it was much nicer with music, as otherwise one could not keep
in time. She ordered the eunuchs to have the gramophone brought to
the hall, and said: "You jump while I take my dinner." We looked
over a lot of records, but they were all Chinese songs, but at
last we found a waltz, so we started to dance. We could see that a
lot of people were looking at us, who perhaps thought that we were
crazy. When we had finished we found Her Majesty laughing at us.
She said: "I could never do that. Are you not dizzy turning round
and round? I suppose your legs must be very tired also. It is very
pretty, and just like the girls used to do centuries ago in China.
I know that it is difficult and one ought to have any amount of
grace to do it, but I don't think it would look nice to see a man
dancing with a girl like that. I object to the hand around the
girl's waist; I like to see the girls dance together. It would
never do for China for a girl to get too close to a man. I know
the foreigners don't seem to think about that at all. It shows
that they are broader minded than us. Is it true that the
foreigners don't respect their parents at all-that they could beat
their parents and drive them out of the house?" I told her that it
was not so, and that someone had given her wrong ideas about
foreigners. Then she said: "I know that perhaps sometimes one
among the commonest class do that, and that people are apt to take
it wrong, and conclude that all foreigners treat their parents
that way. Now I see just the same thing done by the common people
in China." I wondered who had told her such nonsense and made her
believe it.

After we had taken our dinner it was just half-past five, and Her
Majesty said she would take a walk along the long veranda, so we
followed her. She showed me her flowers, and said that she had
planted them herself. Whenever Her Majesty went anywhere there was
always a lot of attendants following her, exactly the same as when
she went to the morning audiences. When we reached the end of this
long veranda, which took us a quarter of an hour to walk, Her
Majesty ordered her stool to be brought into one of the summer
houses. These summer houses were built of nothing but bamboo, all
the furniture being made of different shaped bamboo. Her Majesty
sat down, and one of the eunuchs brought tea and honeysuckle
flowers. She ordered the eunuchs to give us tea also. Her Majesty
said: "This is my simple way of enjoying life. I love to see the
country scenery. There are a great many pretty places which I will
show you and I am sure that after you have seen them you will not
like foreign countries any more. There is no scenery in the world
which can beat the Chinese. Some returned Ministers from abroad
said to me that the trees and mountains in foreign countries
looked ugly and savage. Is that true?" I concluded right away that
someone had wished to please her by saying things about
foreigners, so I told her that I had been in almost every country,
and had found lovely scenery, but of course it was different from
China. While we were talking Her Majesty said that she felt chilly
and asked: "Are you cold? You see you have your own eunuchs, they
are all standing around, and have nothing to do. Next time tell
them to carry your wraps along with you. I think that foreign
clothes must be quite uncomfortable either too warm or too cold. I
don't see how you can eat, having your waist squeezed that way."
Her Majesty got up and we all went on walking slowly towards her
own Palace. She sat down on her favorite little throne in the hall
and started to play solitaire. We came out on the veranda, and the
Young Empress said to us: "You must be tired, for I know you are
not used to doing such hard work all day long without stopping.
You had better wear Manchu clothes, because they are comfortable
and easy to work in. Look at your long train; you have to take it
up in your hands while walking."

I told her that I would be only too pleased to change the clothes,
but that not having received an order from Her Majesty I could not
make any suggestions. The Young Empress said: "No, don't ask
anything, and I am sure Her Majesty will tell you to change by and
by. Just now she wishes to see your Paris gowns, because she wants
to know how foreign ladies dress on different occasions. She
thought that some of the ladies came to the Garden Party dressed
in woolen clothes. We thought that foreign ladies were not so
extravagant as we are until we met Mdme. Plancon the other day. Do
you remember what Her Majesty said to you? `That Mdme. Plancon was
so different from many ladies she had met, and also dressed
differently.' " It was a chiffon dress, with hand paintings, which
Mdme. Plancon wore, which pleased Her Majesty very much. While I
was talking with the Young Empress all the electric lights turned
up, so I went to Her Majesty to see if she needed anything. She
said: "Let us play a game of dice before I go to bed." We began to
play the same thing as we had done in the afternoon. Her Majesty
won another game, this time it took only an hour to finish the
game. Her Majesty said to me: "Why can't you win once?" I knew she
wanted to tease, so I said that my luck was bad. She laughed and
said: "To-morrow you try to put your stocking on wrong side out;
that is a sure sign of winning." I told her that I would, and I
knew that pleased her. During the short time I was there I kept
studying her most of the while. I could see nothing would make her
happier than for me to obey her orders. Her Majesty said that she
felt tired, and that we must bring her milk. She said to me: "I
want you to burn incense sticks and bow to the ground every night
to the Buddha in the next room before I go to bed. I hope you are
not a Christian, for if you are I can never feel as if you are
mine at all. Do tell me that you are not." I did not expect that
question at all, and I must say that it was a very difficult
question to answer. For my own protection I had to say that I had
nothing to do with the Christians. I felt guilty at having
deceived her that way, but it was absolutely necessary, and there
was no other way out of it. I knew that I had to answer her
question at once, because it would never do for her to see any
hesitation, which would arouse her suspicions. Although my face
showed nothing, my heart stopped beating for a while. I felt
ashamed to have fooled her. The earliest training I had was never
to be ashamed to tell the truth. When Her Majesty heard me say
that I was not a Christian, she smiled and said: "I admire you;
although you have had so much to do with foreigners, yet you did
not adopt their religion. On the contrary, you still keep to your
own. Be strong and keep it as long as you live. You have no idea
how glad I am now, for I suspected you must believe in the foreign
God. Even if you don't want to, they can make you believe it. Now
I am ready for bed."

We helped her to undress, and I, as usual, put away her jewels,
and noticed she wore only one pair of jade bracelets to sleep. She
changed into her bed clothes and lay down between the silk covers
and said to us: "You can go now." We courtesied to her and
withdrew from her bedroom. Out in the hall there was on the cold
stone floor six eunuchs. They were the watchmen and must not sleep
at all during the night. In her bedroom were two eunuchs, two
servant girls, two old women servants and sometimes two Court
ladies. These people also must not sleep. The two girls massaged
her legs every night, and the two women were there to watch the
girls, the two eunuchs to watch the two old women, and the two
Court ladies to watch them all, in case they did any mischief.
They all took turns, and that was the reason why sometimes two
Court ladies must sit overnight when it happened that the eunuchs
were not reliable. Her Majesty trusted the Court ladies the most.
I was never more surprised in my life than when one of these six
eunuchs told me in the hall, for I had asked what they were all
doing there.

Later on one of the Court ladies said to me that it was customary
for them to take turns to attend at Her Majesty's bedchamber in
the morning to wake her up, and that I should take my turn the
next morning and my sister the following morning. While saying
this she smiled in a most peculiar way. I did not understand at
the time, but found out later. I asked her what I should do to
wake Her Majesty, and she said: "There is no particular way, you
will have to use your own judgment; but be careful not to make her
angry. It was my turn this morning. I knew that she was very
tired, having had a very trying time the day before, so I had to
make a little more noise than usual when waking her. She was very
angry and scolded me dreadfully when she arose, as it was rather
late. This very often happens when Her Majesty gets up late, as
she always says that we do not make enough noise to wake her.
However, I don't think she will do this to you, just now, as you
are new here; but wait until you have been here a few months."
What this Court lady said to me worried me quite considerably; but
from what I had seen of Her Majesty so far, I could not believe
that she would be angry with anyone who was doing her duty



THE next day I arose earlier than usual and dressed in a great
hurry, as I feared I might be late. When I got to Her Majesty's
Palace there were a few Court ladies there sitting on the veranda.
They smiled and asked me to sit down with them as it was still too
early, being only five o'clock. I had been told to wake Her
Majesty at five thirty. The Young Empress came up a few minutes
later and we all courtesied and wished her "good morning." After
talking with us a few minutes, she asked if Her Majesty was awake
and which one of us was on duty that day. When I informed her that
it was my turn, she immediately ordered me to go to Her Majesty's
room at once. I went very quietly and found some servant girls
standing about and one Court lady, who was sitting on the floor.
She had been on duty all night. When she saw me she got up and
whispered to me, that now that I had come, she would go and change
her clothes and brush up a bit, and for me not to leave the room
until Her Majesty was awake. After this Court lady had gone, I
went near to the bed and said: "Lao Tsu Tsung, it is half-past
five." She was sleeping with her face toward the wall, and without
looking to see who had called her, she said: "Go away and leave me
alone. I did not tell you to call me at half-past five. Call me at
six," and immediately went off to sleep again. I waited until six
and called her again. She woke and said: "This is dreadful. What a
nuisance you are." After she had said this, she looked around and
saw me standing by the bed. "Oh! it is you, is it? Who told you to
come and wake me?" I replied: "One of the Court ladies told me
that it was my turn to be on duty in Lao Tsu Tsung's bedchamber."
"That is funny. How dare they give orders without receiving
instructions from me first? They know that this part of their duty
is not very pleasant and have put it off on you because they know
you are new here." I made no reply to this. I got along as best I
could that day and found it no easy matter, as Her Majesty was
very exacting in everything. However, the next time I managed to
divert her attention to things new or interesting in order to take
her mind off of what she was doing, and in this way had much less
trouble getting her out of bed.

My reader can't imagine how very glad we were to get back to our
rooms, and it was just 10:30 P. M. I was very tired and sleepy, so
I undressed and went to bed at once. I think that as soon as my
head touched the pillow I was asleep.

The following day there was the same thing, the usual audience in
the morning, of course busy all the time, which went on for
fifteen days before I realized it. I began to take great interest
in the Court life, and liked it better every day. Her Majesty was
very sweet and kind to us always, and took us to see the different
places in the Summer Palace. We went to see Her Majesty's farm,
situated on the west side of the lake, and had to cross over a
high bridge to get there. This bridge is called Tu Tai Chiao (Jade
Girdle Bridge). Her Majesty often took us under this bridge in a
boat, or we walked round on the border. She seemed very fond of
sitting on the top of this bridge on her stool and taking her tea,
in fact this was one of her favorite places. She used to go and
see her farm once every four or five days, and it always pleased
her if she could take some vegetables and rice or corn from her
own farm. She cooked these things herself in one of the
courtyards. I thought that was good fun, and also turned up my
sleeves to help her cook. We brought fresh eggs also from the farm
and Her Majesty taught us how to cook them with black tea leaves.

Her Majesty's cooking stoves were very peculiar. They were made
of brass, lined with bricks. They could be moved anywhere, for
they had no chimneys. Her Majesty told me to boil the eggs first
until they were hard, and to crack them but to keep the shells on,
and add half a cup of black tea, salt and spices. Her Majesty
said: "I like the country life. It seems more natural than the
Court life. I am always glad to see young people having fun, and
not such grand dames when we are by ourselves. Although I am not
young any more, I am still very fond of play." Her Majesty would
taste first what we had been cooking, and would give us all to
taste. She asked: "Do you not think this food has more flavor than
that prepared by the cooks?" We all said it was fine. So we spent
the long days at the Court having good fun.

I saw Emperor Kwang Hsu every morning, and whenever I had the time
he would always ask some words in English. I was surprised to
learn that he knew quite a bit of spelling, too. I found him
extremely interesting. He had very expressive eyes. He was
entirely a different person when he was alone with us. He would
laugh and tease, but as soon as he was in the presence of Her
Majesty he would look serious, and as if he were worried to death.
At times he looked stupid. I was told by a great many people who
were presented to him at the different audiences that he did not
look intelligent, and that he would never talk. I knew better, for
I used to see him every day. I was at the Court long enough to
study him, and found him to be one of the most intelligent men in
China. He was a capital diplomat and had wonderful brains, only he
had no opportunities. Now a great many people have asked me the
same question, if our Emperor Kwang Hsu had any courage or brains.
Of course outsiders have no idea how strict the law is, and the
way we have to respect our parents. He was compelled to give up a
great many things on account of the law. I have had many long
talks with him and found him a wise man, with any amount of
patience. His life was not a happy one; ever since his childhood
his health was poor. He told me that he never had studied
literature very much, but it came natural to him. He was a born
musician and could play any instrument without studying. He loved
the piano, and was always after me to teach him. There were
several beautiful grand pianos at the Audience Hall. He had very
good taste for foreign music, too. I taught him some easy waltzes
and he kept the time beautifully. I found him a good companion and
a good friend, and he confided in me and told me his troubles and
sorrows. We talked a great deal about western civilization, and I
was surprised to learn he was so well informed in everything. He
used to tell me, time after time, his ambitions for the welfare of
his country. He loved his people and would have done anything to
help them whenever there was famine or flood. I noticed that he
felt for them. I know that some eunuchs gave false reports about
his character,--that he was cruel, etc. I had heard the same thing
before I went to the Palace. He was kind to the eunuchs, but there
was always that distinction between the master and the servants.
He would never allow the eunuchs to speak to him unless they were
spoken to, and never listened to any kind of gossip. I lived there
long enough, and I know just what kind of cruel people those
eunuchs were. They had no respect for their master. They came from
the lowest class of people from the country, had no education, no
morals, no feeling for anything, not even between themselves. The
outside world has heard so many things against His Majesty, the
Emperor Kwang Hsu's character, but I assure my readers that these
things were told by the eunuchs to their families, and of course
they always stretched it out as far as possible in order to make
the conversation interesting. The majority of the people living in
Peking get all kinds of information through them. I have witnessed
the same thing many a time during my stay at the Palace.

One day during the time of Her Majesty's afternoon rest we heard a
dreadful noise. It sounded just like the firing off of
fire-crackers. Such a noise was quite unusual in the Palace for
such things are not allowed to be brought into the Palace grounds.
Of course Her Majesty woke up. In a few seconds time everyone
became excited and were running to and fro as if the building was
on fire. Her Majesty was giving orders and telling the eunuchs to
be quiet, but no one listened to her and kept yelling and running
around like crazy people, all talking at the same time. Her
Majesty was furious and ordered us to bring the yellow bag to her.
(I must explain about this bag. It was made of ordinary yellow
cloth and contained bamboo sticks of all sorts and sizes and are
made to beat the eunuchs, servant girls and old women servants
with.) This bag was carried everywhere Her Majesty went, to be
handy in case of emergency. Everyone of us knew where this bag was
kept. We took all the sticks from the bag and Her Majesty ordered
us to go to the courtyard and beat the eunuchs. It was such a
funny sight to see all the Court ladies and servant girls each
with a stick trying to separate the excited crowd. On my part I
thought I was having good fun so I laughed and found the rest were
laughing too. Her Majesty was standing on the veranda watching us
but she was too far away to see well and with all that noise, we
knew she could not hear us laughing. We tried our best to separate
the crowd, but were laughing so much we did not have enough
strength to hurt any of them. All of a sudden all the eunuchs
became quiet and stopped talking, for one of them saw the head
eunuch, Li Lien Ying, followed by all his attendants coming
towards them. Everyone of them became frightened and stood there
like statues. We stopped laughing, too, and turned back each with
a stick in our hand, walking toward Her Majesty. Li Lien Ying was
having a nap, too, and had heard the noise and had come to enquire
what the trouble was and to report it to Her Majesty. It seemed
one of the young eunuchs caught a crow. (The eunuchs hated crows,
as they are considered an unlucky bird. The people in China called
eunuchs crows because they were very disagreeable. That was the
reason why the eunuchs hated them so.) They always set traps to
catch them and then tied a huge fire-cracker to their legs, set
fire to the cracker and then set the unfortunate birds free.
Naturally the poor birds would be glad to fly away and by the time
the powder exploded would be high up in the air and the poor bird
would be blown to pieces. It seemed this was not the first time
the eunuchs had played this cruel trick. I was told it always
delighted them so much to see blood and torture. They always
invited others to drink some wine with them to celebrate an
occasion such as this. This cruel deed was always done outside of
the wall of the Audience Hall but that day the crow flew towards
Her Majesty's own Palace while she was sleeping and the powder
exploded while the bird was passing the courtyard. After the head
eunuch had told Her Majesty what had happened, she was very angry
and ordered that this young eunuch be brought in and receive
punishment in her presence. I noticed one of the head eunuch's
attendants push the culprit out from the crowd. The head eunuch
immediately gave orders to lay this man on the ground and two
eunuchs stood on each side of him and beat him on his legs with
two heavy bamboo sticks one at a time. The victim never uttered a
word while this was going on. The head eunuch counted until this
man had received one hundred blows, then he gave orders to stop.
Then he knelt in front of Her Majesty waiting for her orders and
at the same time kowtowed on the ground until his head made a
noise on the stone steps, asking to be punished for his
carelessness and neglect of duty. Her Majesty said that it was not
his fault and ordered him to take the offender away. During all
this time the offender was still on the ground, and did not dare
to move. Two eunuchs each took hold of a foot and dragged him out
of the courtyard. We were all afraid even to breathe aloud for
fear Her Majesty would say that we were pretending to be
frightened at witnessing this punishment, at the same time when it
was over we would go and gossip about how cruel she was. No one
was surprised at what had happened, as we were accustomed to
seeing it almost every day and were quite used to it. I used to
pity them, but I changed my mind very soon after I had arrived.

The first person I saw punished was a servant girl, she had made a
mistake about Her Majesty's socks and had brought two which were
not mates, Her Majesty finding that out, ordered another servant
girl to slap her face ten times on each cheek. This girl did not
slap hard enough, so Her Majesty said they were all good friends
and would not obey her orders, so she told the one who had been
slapped to slap the other. I thought that was too funny for
anything and wanted to laugh the worst way, but of course did not
dare. That night I asked those two girls how they felt slapping
each other that way. The reason why I asked them was because they
were laughing and joking as usual immediately they were out of Her
Majesty's bedchamber. They told me that was nothing; that they
were quite used to it and never bothered themselves about such
small things. I in turn soon became used to it, and was as callous
as they were.

Now regarding the servant girls, they are a much better class of
people than the eunuchs. They are the daughters of Manchu
soldiers, and must stay ten years at the Palace to wait upon Her
Majesty, and then they are free to marry. One got married after my
first month at the Court. Her Majesty gave her a small sum of
money, five hundred taels. This girl was so attached to Her
Majesty that it was very hard for her to leave the Court. She was
an extremely clever girl. Her name was Chiu Yuen (Autumn's Cloud).
Her Majesty named her that because she was so very delicate
looking and slight. I liked her very much during the short time
that we were together. She told me not to listen to anyone's
gossip at the Court, also that Her Majesty had told her she was
very fond of me. On the twenty-second day of the third moon she
left the Palace, and we were all sorry to lose her. Her Majesty
did not realize how much she missed her until after she had gone.
For a few days we had nothing but troubles. It seemed as if
everything went wrong. Her Majesty was not at all satisfied
without Chiu Yuen. The rest of the servant girls were scared, and
tried their best to please Her Majesty, but they had not the
ability, so we had to help and do a part of their work so as not
to make Her Majesty nervous. Unfortunately, she stopped us, and
said: "You have enough to do of your own work, and I do not want
you to help the servants. You don't please me a bit that way." She
could see that I was not accustomed to her ways, for she had
spoken severely, so she smiled and said to me: "I know you are
good to help them so as not to make me angry, but these servants
are very cunning. It isn't that they cannot do their work. They
know very well that I always select the clever ones to wait on me
in my bedroom and they don't like that, so they pretend to be
stupid and make me angry so that I will send them to do the common
work. The eunuchs are worse. They are all afraid to take Chiu
Yuen's place. Now I have found them out, and I will only keep the
stupid ones to wait on me from now." I almost laughed when I
noticed that they all looked serious for a moment. I thought these
people must be really stupid, and not lazy, but I had dealings
with them every day and found them out all right. The eunuchs
don't seem to have any brains at all. They are such queer people
and have no feelings. They have the same mood all day long--I
should say they are in a cruel mood. Whenever Her Majesty gave an
order they always said "Jer" (Yes) and as soon as they got to our
waiting room they would say to each other: "What was the order? I
have forgotten all about it." Then they used to come to one of us
who had happened to be present when the order was given: "Please
tell us what the order was. I did not listen while Her Majesty was
talking." We used to laugh and make fun of them. We knew they were
afraid to ask Her Majesty, and of course we had to tell them. One
of the eunuch writers had to keep writing down the orders that had
been given during the day, for Her Majesty wanted to keep records
of everything. There were twenty eunuchs who were educated and
they were excellent scholars. These had to answer any questions
which Her Majesty happened to ask them about Chinese literature,
while she had a good knowledge of it herself. I noticed that it
pleased her a great deal if anyone could not answer a question, or
knew less than she did. She took delight in laughing at them. Her
Majesty was also very fond of teasing. She knew that the Court
ladies did not know very much about literature, so she used to try
it on us. We had to say something whether it was appropriate to
her questions or not, and that would make her laugh. I was told
that Her Majesty did not like anyone to be too clever, and yet she
could not bear stupid people, so I was rather nervous, and did not
know how to act for the first three weeks I was there, but it did
not take me very long to study her. She certainly admired clever
girls, but she did not like those who would show their cleverness
too much. How I won her heart was this way. Whenever I was with
her I used to fix my whole attention on her and watched her very
closely (not staring, for she hated that) and always carried out
her orders properly. I noticed another thing, and that was that
whenever she wanted anything to be brought to her, such as
cigarettes, handkerchief, etc., she would only look at the article
and then look at anyone who happened to be there at the time.
(There was always a table in the room, on which everything she
needed for the day was placed.) I got so used to her habits that
after a short time I knew just what she wanted by looking at her
eyes, and I was very seldom mistaken. This pleased her a great
deal. She was strong-minded, and would always act the way she
thought was right, and had perfect confidence in herself. At times
I have seen her looking very sad. She had strong emotions, but her
will was stronger. She could control herself beautifully, and yet
she liked people to sympathize with her--only by actions, not by
words, for she did not like anyone to know her thoughts. I am sure
my readers will think how hard it was to be the Court lady of Her
Majesty, the Empress Dowager of China, but on the contrary I
enjoyed myself very much, as she was so interesting, and I found
that she was not at all difficult to please.

The first day of the fourth moon Her Majesty was worried over the
lack of rain. She prayed every day after the audience for ten
days, without any result. Every one of us kept very quiet. Her
Majesty did not even give any orders that day, and spoke to no
one. I noticed that the eunuchs were scared, so we went without
our luncheon. I worked so hard that morning, and was so hungry--in
fact all the Court ladies were. I felt sorry for Her Majesty.
Finally she told me I could go, as she wanted to rest a while, so
we came back to our own quarters. I questioned our own eunuch Wang
as to why Her Majesty was worrying about rain, for we were having
lovely weather then, day after day. He told me that Lao Fo Yeh
(Old Buddha) was worried for the poor farmers, as all their crops
were dead without rain for so long. Wang also reminded me that it
had not rained once since I came to live at the Palace. I did not
realize that it was so long as two months and seven days, and on
the other hand it seemed to me longer than that, for the life was
very nice and pleasant, and Her Majesty was very kind to me, as if
she had known me for years already. Her Majesty took very little
food at dinner that night. There was not a sound anywhere, and
everyone kept quiet. The Young Empress told us to eat as fast as
we could, which puzzled me. When we came back to our waiting room,
the Young Empress said to me that Her Majesty was very much
worried for the poor farmers and that she would pray for rain, and
stop eating meat for two or three days. That same night, before
Her Majesty retired, she gave orders that no pigs were to be
slaughtered within the gates of Peking. The reason of this was
that by sacrificing ourselves by not eating meat the Gods would
have pity on us and send rain. She also gave orders that everyone
should bathe the body and wash out the mouth in order that we
might be cleansed from all impurities and be ready to fast and
pray to the Gods. Also that the Emperor should go to the temple
inside the Forbidden City, to perform a ceremony of sacrifice
(called Chin Tan). He was not to eat meat or hold converse with
anyone, and to pray to the Gods to be merciful and send rain to
the poor farmers. His Majesty, the Emperor Kwang Hsu, wore a piece
of jade tablet about three inches square, engraved "Chai Chieh"
(the meaning being just like Chin Tan-not to eat meat but to pray
three times a day), both in Manchu and Chinese, and all the
eunuchs who went with the Emperor wore the same kind of tablets.
The idea was that this jade tablet was to remind one to be serious
in performing the ceremonies.

The next morning Her Majesty got up very early and ordered me not
to bring any jewels for her. She dressed herself in great haste.
Her breakfast was very simple that day, just milk and steamed
bread. Our own breakfast was cabbage and rice cooked together,
with a little salt. It was tasteless. Her Majesty did not talk to
us at all, except when giving orders, and so, of course, we kept
silent. Her Majesty wore a pale gray gown, made very plain, with
no embroidery or trimmings of any kind. She wore gray shoes to
match, not to mention her gray handkerchief. We followed her into
the hall where a eunuch knelt with a large branch of willow tree.
Her Majesty picked a little bunch of leaves and stuck it on her
head. The Young Empress did the same, and told us to follow her
example. Emperor Kwang Hsu took a branch and stuck it on his hat.
After that Her Majesty ordered the eunuchs and the servant girls
to do the same thing. It was a funny sight, and everyone did look
queer with a bunch of leaves on the head. The head eunuch came and
knelt in front of Her Majesty and said that everything was
prepared for the ceremony in the little pavilion in front of her
own palace. She told us that she preferred to walk, as she was
going to pray. It took us only a few minutes to cross the
courtyard. When we arrived at this pavilion I noticed a large
square table was placed in the center of the room. A few large
sheets of yellow paper and a jade slab, containing some vermilion
powder instead of ink, with two little brushes to write with. At
each side of the table stood a pair of large porcelain vases, with
two large branches of willow. Of course no one was allowed to
speak, but I was curious and wanted to find out why everyone had
to wear the willow leaves on the head. Her Majesty's yellow satin
cushion was placed in front of this table. She stood there and
took a piece of sandalwood and placed it in the incense burner
filled with live charcoal. The Young Empress whispered to me to go
over and help Her Majesty to burn them. I placed several pieces in
until she told me that was enough. Then Her Majesty knelt on her
cushion, the Young Empress knelt behind her, and we all knelt in a
row behind the Young Empress, and commenced to pray. The Young
Empress taught us that very morning how to say the prayer: "We
worship the Heavens, and beg all the Buddhas to take pity on us
and save the poor farmers from starving. We are willing to
sacrifice for them. Pray Heaven send us rain." We repeated the
same prayer three times, and bowed three times--nine times in all.
After that Her Majesty went to her usual morning audience. It was
much earlier than usual that morning for the Court was returning
to the Forbidden City at noon. His Majesty, the Emperor Kwang Hsu,
was to pray at the Forbidden City and Her Majesty always wanted to
accompany him wherever he went. It was nine o'clock in the morning
when the audience was over. She ordered me not to bring any jewels
for her to the Forbidden City this time, for she would not need
them at all. I went to the jewel-room and locked everything up,
and placed the keys in a yellow envelope, sealed it, and placed
the envelope among the others, and gave them to a eunuch who takes
care of these things. We packed all her favorite things. Her gowns
were the most important things to pack, she had so many and it was
impossible to take all. I noticed that the Court lady who was
looking after her gowns was the busiest amongst us. She had to
select gowns enough to last four or five days. She told me that
she had selected about fifty different ones. I told her that Lao
Tsu Tsung might stay at the Forbidden City four or five days, and
that she would not need so many gowns. She said it was safer to
bring many, for one was not sure what would be Her Majesty's idea
for the day. Packing at the Court was very simple. Eunuchs brought
many yellow trays, which are made of wood, painted yellow, about
five feet by four feet and one foot deep. We placed a large yellow
silk scarf in the tray, then the gowns, and covered them with a
thick yellow cloth. Everything was packed the same way. It took us
about two hours to pack fifty-six trays. These things always
started off first, carried by the eunuchs. His Majesty, the
Emperor Kwang Hsu, the Young Empress and all the Court ladies, had
to kneel on the ground for Her Majesty's sedan chair to pass the
Palace Gate, then we went in search of our own chairs. The
procession as usual was pretty, soldiers marching in front of her
chair, four young Princes riding on horseback on each side of her,
and from forty to fifty eunuchs also on horseback behind her, all
dressed in their official robes. The Emperor's chair and the Young
Empress' chair were of the same color as Her Majesty's. The
Secondary wife of the Emperor had a deep yellow chair. The chairs
of the Court ladies were red, and were carried by four chair
bearers, instead of eight like their Majesties. Our own eunuchs
also rode on horseback, behind us. We rode a long time, it seemed
to me, before I noticed the Emperor's chair begin to descend from
the stone-paved road, and we all followed him. I could see that
Her Majesty's chair was still going straight on, and we took a
nearer route to reach Wan Shou Si (The long life temple), to await
Her Majesty's arrival. We alighted from our chairs and started at
once to prepare Her Majesty's tea and her little dishes. I went to
help her to alight, and supported her right arm to mount the
steps. Her Majesty sat on Her Throne, and we placed a table in
front of her and my sister brought her tea. (The custom was, that
if she went anywhere, or during the festivals, we must bring to
her everything, instead of the eunuchs.) We placed all the
dainties in front of her, and then we went to rest. Her Majesty
always stopped at this temple on the way from the Summer Palace to
the Forbidden City.



I THOUGHT of so many things while I was riding in my chair. It
was a glorious day. I felt sorry for Her Majesty, for she was very
quiet that day. Generally she was happy, and made everyone laugh
with her. I thought about the branches of willow, too, but could
not understand the meaning. I came out of the hall while Her
Majesty was dining with the Emperor, and found the Young Empress
sitting in a small room on the left side of the courtyard, with
several Court ladies. When they saw me they made signs for me to
go there. I found them all drinking tea, and the Young Empress
said to me, "I am sure you must be tired and hungry. Come and sit
near me and have a cup of tea." I thanked her and sat down beside
her and we talked of what we saw on the roads and how we had
enjoyed our long ride. She said: "We have still an hour's ride
before we reach the Forbidden City." She also talked about the
ceremony we had performed that morning and said that we must all
pray earnestly for rain. I could not wait any longer, so I asked
her what those branches of willow meant. She smiled and told me
that willow could bring water, as the Buddhist religion believes,
and that it was an old custom of the Court wearing willow leaves,
when praying for rain. She also told me that we must perform the
same ceremony every morning until the rain came.

We heard Her Majesty talking in the courtyard, and knew that she
had finished her luncheon, so we went in with the Young Empress,
and ate what was left, as usual. I found the food very nice
indeed, although it seemed rather funny without having meat. We
came out into the courtyard and saw that Her Majesty was walking
up and down. She said to us: "My legs are so stiff, riding in the
chair. I must walk a little before we leave here. Are you all
tired?" We told her that we were not tired, so she ordered us to
walk with her. It looked very funny to see us walking round and
round, Her Majesty in front, and we following her. Her Majesty
turned and smiled at us, and said: "We are just like horses taking
their rounds at a stable." It reminded me of a circus. Li Lien
Ying came and knelt down, and said that it was time for Her
Majesty to depart, in order to reach the Forbidden City at the
lucky hour she had selected, so we left Wan Shou Si. All the
chairs went very fast, and after an hour's ride we came near the
Palace Gate. We followed the Emperor's chair, taking a shorter
route, and noticed the gate was wide open. His Majesty, the
Emperor, and the Young Empress' chairs went in, but we had to
alight and walk in. There were small chairs waiting for us. (As I
explained before these little chairs were carried by eunuchs, with
a rope across their shoulders.) We came to the courtyard of the
Audience Hall where the Emperor and the Empress were waiting for
us. As usual His Majesty knelt in front. Behind him was the Young
Empress, and we knelt in a row behind her, waiting to welcome Her
Majesty to her Palace. She went to her room where the eunuchs had
placed everything in order long before her arrival. We held the
ceremony that afternoon and evening. After Her Majesty had retired
we came back to our rooms and found that everything was in order,
our eunuchs had made up our beds already. It was very nice to have
them, for we could not do our own work at all. I was so tired and
my limbs were stiff. I immediately went to sleep and did not
realize how long I had slept until I heard someone knocking at my
window. I got up and pulled the blind away. I noticed that the sky
looked dull and thought it was clouded. I felt happy, and thought
it might rain, and so relieve Her Majesty. I got dressed in great
haste, but much to my disappointment I saw the sunshine on the
opposite windows.

The Palace in the Forbidden City was so old, and built in such a
queer way. The courtyards were small, and the verandas very broad.
All the rooms were dark. No electric light. We had to use candle
light. One could not see the sky except by going into the
courtyard and looking up. I found that I had risen before the sun
was up, and I was not quite awake yet, and thought the sky was
clouded. I went to Her Majesty's own Palace and found the Young
Empress already there. She was always the first and always looked
so tidy I often wondered how early she had to get up. She told me
that I was not late, although Her Majesty was awake but not up
yet. I went into her bedroom and made my usual morning courtesy to
her. The first thing she asked me was about the weather. I had to
tell her the truth--that there was no sign of rain. Her Majesty
got up, dressed, and had her breakfast as usual, and told us there
would be no audience that morning. The Emperor went to the Temple,
sacrificing, and there was nothing important to attend to. We
prayed for three days in succession, but no rain came. I found
that Her Majesty was truly discouraged, and ordered each of us to
pray twenty times a day. We marked a spot with vermilion powder
and a little water on big yellow sheets of paper each time we

On the sixth day of the fourth moon the sky was clouded. I ran to
Her Majesty's bedroom that morning to tell her the news, but found
that someone had told her already. She smiled, and said to me:
"You are not the first one to give me the good news. I know
everyone of you wanted to be the first to tell me. I feel very
tired today, and wish to lie down a little longer. You can go, and
I will send for you when I am ready to get up." When I went to
search for the Young Empress I found all the Court ladies there
also. They all asked me if I had noticed the rain. We came out of
the waiting room and found that the courtyard was wet, and after a
while it rained very fast. Her Majesty got up, and we prayed as
usual. Fortunately the rain did not stop, but came pouring down
all that day.

Her Majesty played solitaire with the dominoes, and I stood at the
back of her chair watching her. I saw that the Young Empress and
all the girls were standing on the veranda. Her Majesty saw them,
too, and said to me: "Go and tell them to wait in the waiting
room. Can't they see that the veranda is wet?" I went to them, but
before I had the opportunity of telling them anything the Young
Empress told me that the waiting room was wet, and that the water
had gone in. As I said before, this building was very old, and
there were no drains at all. Her Majesty's own Palace was high; it
had twelve steps, while our waiting room, which was on the left
side of her Palace, was built right on the ground, with no raised
foundation at all. While I was talking on the veranda just for a
few minutes, I got quite wet. Her Majesty knocked at her glass
window and told us to go in. Now I must explain that none of us,
not even the Young Empress could enter Her Majesty's Palace
without her orders except we had work to do there, or were on
duty. Her Majesty was very happy that day. She laughed and said
that we looked as if we had just been pulled out of the lake. The
Young Empress had on a pale blue gown, and the red tassel on her
headdress was dripping red water all over her gown. She smiled and
said to us: "Look at those girls; their gowns are all spoiled."
While we were talking, Her Majesty gave us orders for us to change
our clothes.

After they had gone, I went back to Her Majesty. She looked at me
and said: "You are wet also, only your clothes do not show." I had
on a cashmere dress which was made very plain. She touched my arm
and said: "How wet you are. You had better change, and put on a
thick dress. I think foreign clothes must be very uncomfortable;
the waist is too small and it seems to me out of proportion to the
rest of the body. I am sure that you will look much prettier in
our Manchu gown. I want you to change and put your Parisian
clothes away as souvenirs. I only wanted to know how foreign
ladies dressed and now I have seen enough. The Dragon Boat
Festival will be here next month and I will make some pretty gowns
for you." I thanked her by kowtowing to the ground and told her
that I would be only too pleased to change into Manchu clothes,
but having lived so many years abroad, and having always worn
foreign clothes, I had not had any made. We were planning to
change into Manchu gowns before coming to the Court, but we had
received orders that Lao Tsu Tsung wished to see us in foreign
clothes. I was very glad when I received that order as there were
several reasons why I wanted to wear Manchu gowns. First, the
Court ladies at the beginning treated us as outsiders. Secondly, I
knew that Her Majesty did not like them, and besides, we were very
uncomfortable living at the Palace in Peking, and made up our
minds that we must wear Manchu clothes, which were made for it. We
had so much work to do, and having to stand most of the time one
absolutely needed loose garments. Her Majesty ordered one of the
eunuchs to bring one of her dresses for me to try on, so I went
back to my own room, and took off my wet clothes and changed. I
tried on her gown, but it was too loose for me. The length was
quite all right and so were the sleeves. Her Majesty told one of
the eunuch writers to write down my measurements in order to have
a gown made for me, and said she was sure it would fit me. She did
the same thing for my mother and sister, and ordered our gowns to
be made at once. I knew she was pleased, as she told me what color
would suit me the best. She said that I should always wear pink
and pale blue, for they suited, and were her favorite colors, too.
She also talked about our headdress, and ordered some made the
same as worn by the other Court ladies. She said to me: "I know
you can wear my shoes, for I tried yours on the first day you
came, don't you remember? I must select a lucky day for you to
become a Manchu once more," she said this with a smile, "and no
more foreign clothes after that." She took her special book for
lucky days and hours, and studied it a little while, then she said
the eighteenth of that month was the best. Li Lien Ying, the head
eunuch knew how to please Her Majesty, and said he would give
orders to have everything ready for us at that time. Her Majesty
told us the way we must have our hair dressed, and what kind of
flowers we should wear, in fact she was very happy arranging to
make us into Manchus. A short while after she dismissed us for the
day. It rained for three days without stopping. The last day the
Emperor came back, and all ceremonies ceased. Her Majesty never
liked to stay in the Forbidden City, and I was not a bit
surprised, as I hated the place. We had to use candles to dress
by, in the morning, as the rooms were in absolute darkness even in
the middle of the afternoon. It rained so much that finally Her
Majesty said she would return to the Summer Palace the next day,
whether it was raining or not, and we were all very glad to go.

We returned to the Summer Palace on the seventh. It was a dull
day, but no rain. We packed everything in just the same way we had
done when we came, and stopped at Wan Shou Si and had our
luncheon. That day we commenced to eat meat again. I noticed that
Her Majesty enjoyed her meal very much. She asked me if I liked
the food without meat, and I told her that everything was nicely
done and that I enjoyed the food very much, although without meat.
She told me that she could not eat that kind of food and enjoy it,
and that if it were not necessary to make sacrifice she would not
have abstained.

The first garden party of the year was given by the Empress
Dowager to the ladies of the Diplomatic Corps, in the fourth moon.
This year Her Majesty desired to deviate a little from previous
custom, and issued orders that stalls should be arranged in the
garden, on a similar principal to a bazaar, on which were to be
displayed curios, embroidered work, flowers, etc., etc. These were
to be given as presents to the guests. The guests were: Mrs.
Conger, wife of the American Minister, Mrs. Williams, wife of
Chinese Secretary of the American Legation, Madame and
Mademoiselle de Carcer, wife and daughter of the Spanish Minister,
Madame Uchida, wife of the Japanese Minister, and a few ladies of
the Japanese Legation, Madame Almeida, wife of the Portuguese
Charge d' Affaires, Madame Cannes, wife of the Secretary of the
French Legation, the wives of several French Officers, Lady Susan
Townley, wife of the First Secretary of the British Legation, two
ladies from the German Legation, wives of German Officers, and
wives of a few Customs Officials. On this occasion Her Majesty
selected a most beautiful gown of peacock blue, embroidered all
over with phoenix. The embroidery was raised and each phoenix had
a string of pearls two inches long sewed into its mouth. Whenever
Her Majesty stirred, these strings of tiny pearls moved forwards
and backwards and it made a very pretty effect. Of course, she
wore her jade phoenix on her hair as usual and shoes and
handkerchief embroidered with the same pattern. My mother wore a
lavender silk gown, trimmed with silver braid, her hat was of the
same shade with plumes to match. My sister and myself wore pale
blue Chinese silk gowns with insertion and medallions of Irish
crochet and trimmed with tiny velvet bands. We wore blue hats with
large pink roses. All the Court ladies dressed in their most
picturesque gowns and it was a very pretty sight to see the
procession walking to the Audience Hall.

Her Majesty was in her happiest mood that morning and said to us:
"I wonder how I would look in foreign clothes; my waist is very
small, but wearing this kind of loose gown it would not show. I
don't think I would need to squeeze myself so tight, either, but I
don't think there is anything in the world prettier than our
Manchu gowns."

First the guests were received in audience by Their Majesties.
They were accompanied by the Doyen, Baron Czikann, Minister for
Austria, and an interpreter from each Legation. On entering the
Audience Hall all the guests stood in line and the Doyen presented
a short address to Their Majesties. This was translated to Prince
Ching, who, in turn, communicated it to the Emperor. The Emperor
made a suitable reply in Chinese which was translated by the
Doyen's interpreter. Then the Doyen mounted the steps of the dais
and shook hands with Their Majesties, the rest of the guests being
presented in turn. I was standing at the right hand of the Empress
Dowager and as each guest came forward, called out their names,
and the Legation which they represented. Her Majesty had a few
words for everyone, and when she saw a new face she would ask how
long they had been in China; whether they liked it, etc., etc. All
these conversations I interpreted for Her Majesty. As the guests
finished paying their respects they passed along and remained
standing in the Hall until everybody had been presented.

The interpreters, who did not take part in this ceremony but had
remained standing in the Hall until it was over, were then
conducted by Prince Ching to another part of the Palace, where
refreshments were provided for them. After they had gone out Their
Majesties descended from the dais and mixed with the guests.

The formal ceremony now being concluded, chairs were brought in
and everybody made themselves comfortable. Tea was brought in by
the eunuchs and after a few minutes' conversation, we all
adjourned to the refreshment room, with the exception of the
Empress Dowager, the Emperor, the Young Empress and the Secondary
wife. In the absence of Her Majesty, the Imperial Princess (The
Empress Dowager's adopted daughter) officiated as hostess, Mrs.
Conger sitting at her right and Madame de Carcer, wife of the
Spanish Minister, on her left. The food was all Chinese, but
knives and forks were provided for the use of the guests. During
the luncheon the Imperial Princess stood up and spoke a few words
of welcome, which I translated into English and French. After the
luncheon was over we adjourned to the garden where Their Majesties
were awaiting us. A brass band was playing European airs.

Her Majesty led the way around the gardens, passing the various
stalls on the way, where the ladies would stop and admire the
different articles, which were later presented to them as
souvenirs of the occasion. On arriving at a teahouse which had
been erected in the gardens, everybody rested and partook of tea.
Their Majesties then wished everybody good-bye and the guests were
then conducted to their chairs and took their departure.

As usual, we reported to Her Majesty everything that had taken
place and how the guests had enjoyed themselves. She said: "How is
it that these foreign ladies have such large feet? Their shoes are
like boats and the funny way they walk I cannot say I admire. I
haven't yet seen one foreigner with pretty hands. Although they
have white skins, their faces are covered with white hair. Do you
think they are beautiful?" I replied that I had seen some American
beauties when I was abroad. Her Majesty said: "No matter how
beautiful they are they have ugly eyes. I can't bear that blue
color, they remind me of a cat." After a few more remarks, she
ordered us to retire, saying that we must be tired. We were rather
used up and glad of an opportunity to rest, so made our courtesies
and retired.

We had been at the Palace more than two months, and I had had no
opportunity to see my father at all, who was quite ill at that
time. We did not know whether we could ask leave of absence from
the Court. I received letters from my father every day, telling me
to have courage, and to do my duty. My mother asked the Young
Empress if it would be correct to ask Her Majesty for permission
to go home for a day or two. The Young Empress told us that it
would be quite all right to do that, but she thought it would be
better if we could wait until after the eighth, for there would be
a feast on that day. The eighth day of the fourth moon every year
is the ceremony of eating green peas. According to the Buddhist
religion there is a hereafter which divides or grades, according
to the life that is lived on earth, that is to say, those who live
good lives go to Heaven when they die and those who are bad go to
a bad place to suffer. On this occasion Her Majesty sent to the
people she liked, each a plate containing eight peas, and we had
to eat them. The Young Empress told me that if I presented a plate
of peas to Her Majesty it would please her, which I did. This
meant: "May we meet in the hereafter" (Chi Yuen Dou). Her Majesty
was very happy that day. We went to the west side of the lake and
had our luncheon there. Her Majesty talked to us about the first
day we came to the Court, and then said to mother: "I wonder if Yu
Keng is any better. When will he be able to come to the Court? I
haven't seen him since he returned from France." (My father had
asked three months leave of absence from the Court on account of
his poor health.) My mother answered and said that he was feeling
better, but that his legs were still very weak, and he could not
walk much. Her Majesty then said to us: "Oh, I have forgotten to
tell you that if you wish to go home, you can ask permission. I
have been so busy lately, and forgot to remind you." We thanked
her and told her that we would like to go home and see how my
father was, so she gave orders that we should leave the Court the
next day. Then she asked me how long I would like to stay at home,
and of course I knew the custom, and told her that I was waiting
for her orders: "Would two or three days be enough?" We told her
that it suited us beautifully. I was so surprised when she
mentioned it to us, and wondered if anyone had told her of our
intentions, or if Her Majesty was a mind reader.

When she retired that afternoon I went to see the Young Empress,
who was always very nice and kind, and asked me to sit near her.
Her eunuch brought me a cup of tea. Her rooms were furnished
exactly the same as Her Majesty's, but everything looked extremely
dainty, and showed very good taste. We talked about the life at
the Palace for a long time, and she told me that she was very fond
of us, and so was Her Majesty. I told her that Her Majesty had
mentioned to us about going home for two or three days and that I
was surprised to see how thoughtful she was. She said that someone
had reminded Her Majesty to let us go home, for we had been at the
Court for more than two months. I found out afterwards that it was
the head eunuch Li who had heard that we were anxious to go. The
Young Empress said to me: "I want to teach you to be wise, that
is, you are ordered to leave the Court to-morrow, but Her Majesty
did not mention any particular hour. You must not talk about it to
anyone, and don't show that you are excited to go home. Don't
dress as if you are going out to-morrow, but be natural and do
your work as if you don't care about going at all. Don't you
remind her, in case she forgets to tell you to go, and come back
on the second day, which is the custom. It will show that you are
anxious to see Her Majesty, so you come back one day earlier than
the appointed time." I was so happy to get this information and
asked her if it would be all right to bring Her Majesty some
presents when we returned to the Court. She said that was just the
proper thing to do. The next day we did the same work, and went to
the Audience Hall with Her Majesty, as usual. After the audience
was over Her Majesty ordered her luncheon to be served at the
country teahouse. This teahouse was built in country style, and
right on top of her peony mountain, with bamboo and straw, and all
the furniture was made of bamboo also. They were beautifully made,
and the frames of the windows were carved into a line of
characters --Shou (long life), and butterflies, with pink silk
curtain hangings. At the rear of this exquisite little building
was a bamboo shade, with railings all around, hung with red silk
lanterns. The seats were built against the railings, so that one
could sit on them comfortably. This was supposed to be used by the
Court ladies as their waiting room. We played dice with Her
Majesty when luncheon was over. We played a very long time, and I
won the game that day. Her Majesty laughed and said to me: "You
have luck to-day. I think you are so happy to go home that your
fairies have helped you to win the game." As I mentioned before,
this game was called "Eight Fairies Going across the Sea." "I
think it is time for you to go now." While saying this she turned
and asked one of the eunuchs what the time was, and he answered
that it was half-past two. We kowtowed to Her Majesty, and stood
waiting for more orders. Then she said: "I am sorry to see you go
although I know you are coming back within two or three days. I
know I shall miss you." To my mother she said: "Tell Yu Keng to
take care of his health and get well soon. I have ordered four
eunuchs to accompany you, and am sending some of my own rice for
him." We had to kowtow again in thanking Her Majesty for her
kindness and finally she said: "Nemen tzowba" (you can go now).

We withdrew, and found the Young Empress on the veranda. We
courtesied to her, and said good-bye to the Court ladies and came
to our rooms to get ready to start. Our eunuchs were very good,
and had everything packed up ready for us. We gave ten taels to
each of our eunuchs, for that was the custom, and gave four taels
to each chair bearer of the Palace. When we arrived at the Palace
Gate our own chairs were waiting for us. We said good-bye to our
eunuchs. Strange to say they seemed attached to us and told us to
come back soon. The four eunuchs ordered by Her Majesty to see us
home were there, and as soon as we got into our chairs I saw them
riding on horseback beside us. It seemed to me just like a dream
the two months I had spent at the Court, and I must say I felt
very sorry to leave Her Majesty, but at the same time I wanted
very much to see my father. We got home after a two hours' ride,
and found him looking much better, and one can imagine how happy
he was to see us. The four eunuchs came into our parlor, and
placed the yellow bag of rice on the table. My father thanked Her
Majesty by kowtowing to the ground. We gave these eunuchs each a
little present, and they departed.

I told my father about my life at the Palace, and how very kind
Her Majesty was to me. He asked me if I could influence Her
Majesty to reform some day, and hoped he would live to see it.
Somehow or other I had the idea that I could and promised him that
I would try my best.

Her Majesty sent two eunuchs to see us the next morning, and also
sent us food and fruits. They told us that Her Majesty missed us,
and had told them to ask if we missed her. We told these eunuchs
that we were returning to the Court the next day. We stayed at
home only two days and a great many people came to see us, and
kept us busy all the time. My father suggested that we should
start from the house at about 3:00 A. M., so as to get to the
Summer Palace before Her Majesty was up. We left our house at 3:00
A. M. in total darkness, just like we had two months before. What
a change. I thought I was the happiest girl in the world. I was
told by many people, especially by the Young Empress, that Her
Majesty was extremely fond of me. I had also heard that she did
not care for young people at all. Although I was happy, I noticed
that some of the Court ladies did not like me, and they made me
uncomfortable on many occasions by not telling me just the way Her
Majesty wanted the work to be done. They smiled to each other
whenever Her Majesty was saying to my mother that she liked me,
and that I was always careful in doing anything that pleased her.
I knew I was going to see those people again. However, I made up
my mind to fight my battles alone. I only wished to be useful to
Her Majesty, and would not take any notice of them.

It was a little after five o'clock when we reached the Summer
Palace. Our own eunuchs were very happy to see us again and told
us that Her Majesty was not up yet and that we had time to go to
our rooms, where they had some breakfast prepared for us. We went
to see the Young Empress first, and found she was ready to go to
Her Majesty's Palace. She was also very glad to see us, and told
us that our Manchu costumes were all ready, and that she had seen
them and they were perfectly lovely. We were very hungry, and
enjoyed our breakfast immensely. After that we went to see Her
Majesty. She was awake, so we went into her bedroom. We greeted
her the same way that we did every morning, and kowtowed to her
and thanked her for all the things she had sent us while we were
at home. She sat up on the bed, smiled, and said: "Are you glad to
come back? I know everyone who comes to me and stays for a while
does not like to go away from here any more. I am glad to see you
(to my mother). How is Yu Keng?" My mother told her that my father
was much better. She asked us what we did for those two days,
staying at home. She also wanted to know whether we still
remembered which day she had chosen for us to change into our
Manchu costume. We told her we knew the date, and were looking
forward to it. The eunuchs brought in three large yellow trays,
full of beautiful gowns, shoes, white silk socks, handkerchiefs,
bags for nuts, in fact the whole set, including the gu'un dzan
(Manchu headdress). We kowtowed to her, and told her we were very
much pleased with everything she had given us. Her Majesty told
the eunuchs to bring everything out for us to see. She said to us:
"You see I give you one full official dress, one set of Chao Chu
(amber heads), two embroidered gowns, four ordinary gowns for
everyday wear, and two gowns for Chi Chen wear (the anniversary of
the death of an Emperor or Empress), one sky blue, the other
mauve, with very little trimming. I also have a lot of underwear
for you." I was excited and told Her Majesty that I would like to
commence to dress up at once. She smiled, and said: "You must wait
until the day comes, the lucky day I have selected for you. You
must try to fix your hair first, which is the most difficult thing
to do. Ask the Young Empress to teach you." Although she told me
to wait, I knew she was pleased to see that I showed so much
enthusiasm. She asked me the first day when we came to the Court
why my hair was so curly. I showed her that I curled it with
paper, and she teased me ever afterwards. She also said that I
could not pull my hair straight in time to wear Manchu clothes,
that everyone would laugh at me, and how ugly I would look. That
night one Court lady came over to me while I was sitting on the
veranda and said: "I wonder if you will look nice in Manchu
dress?" I told her I only wanted to look natural. "You have lived
so many years abroad we consider you are a foreigner to us." I
told her that as long as Her Majesty considered I was one of her
own, I would be satisfied and that she need not worry herself
about me. I knew they were jealous of us, so I went in search of
the Young Empress and left this girl alone. We were talking with
the Young Empress in the waiting room, and this girl came in and
sat near me, smiling to herself most of the time. One of the
servant girls was fixing some fresh flowers for Her Majesty. She
looked at her and asked her why she was smiling. The Young Empress
saw, and asked her the same question. She would not answer, but
kept on smiling all the time. At this moment a eunuch came and
said that Her Majesty wanted me. I afterwards tried to find out
what she had told the Young Empress but could not. Several days
passed very quietly. Her Majesty was happy, and so was I. One day
the Young Empress reminded us that we should make all preparations
in order to be able to dress ourselves properly on the eighteenth,
as the time was getting short--only two days left. That night,
after Her Majesty had retired, I went to my own room and fixed my
headdress on and went to see the Young Empress. She said that I
looked very nice, and that she was sure Her Majesty would like me
better in Manchu costume. I told her that I used to wear Manchu
dress when I was a little girl, before we went to Europe, and of
course I knew how to put it on. I also told her that I could not
understand why these girls looked upon me as a foreigner. She said
that they only showed their ignorance, and that they were jealous
of me and I should not pay any attention to them at all.



THE next day we got up earlier than usual and dressed ourselves
in our new gowns. I could not believe my own eyes, and asked
several times whether that was myself or not. I found that I
looked all right, although I hadn't been wearing this sort of
costume for so long. They seemed to think that we would look
awkward. Our own eunuchs were delighted to see us dressed that
way. The Young Empress came in while passing our rooms on her way
to the Empress Dowager's Palace, and waited for us to go with her.
When we arrived at the waiting room a lot of people came in and
looked at us, and talked so much about us, that it made me feel
rather shy. Everyone told us that we looked much better that way
than in foreign clothes, except the Emperor Kwang Hsu. He said to
me: "I think your Parisian gowns are far prettier than this." I
smiled and said nothing. He shook his head at me, and went into
Her Majesty's bedroom. Li Lien Ying came and saw us, and was very
much excited and told me to go and see Her Majesty at once. I told
him that everyone was looking at us, as if we were curios. He
said: "You don't know how nice you look now, and I wish that you
would not wear foreign clothes at all." Her Majesty laughed so
loud when she saw us that it made me uncomfortable, for I was
afraid we looked unnatural to her. She said: "I cannot believe you
are the same girls. Just look at yourselves in this looking-
glass." She pointed to a large mirror in her room. "See how you
have changed. I feel that you belong to me now. I must have some
more gowns made for you." Then Li Lien Ying said that the
twenty-fourth would be the first day of the Summer. On that day
everyone would begin to wear jade hairpins instead of gold, and we
had none. Her Majesty said to Li: "I am very glad you told me
that. I must give them each a jade hairpin after having asked them
to change into Manchu dress." Li went away and came back with a
box of hairpins of pure green jade. Her Majesty took a beautiful
one and handed it to my mother and told her that that pin had been
worn by three Empresses. She took two very nice ones, and gave one
to me and one to my sister. She told us that these two were a
pair, and that the other Empress Dowager (the East Empress
Dowager) used to wear one, and that the other was worn by herself
when she was young. I felt ashamed that Her Majesty had given us
so many presents and I had done nothing for her in any way.
However, we thanked her most sincerely, and showed our
appreciation. She said: "I look upon you as my own people, and the
gowns I have made for you are the very best. I have also decided
to let you wear the full Court dress, the same as one of the
Princesses. You are my Court lady, so you are equally ranked
here." Li stood there behind her and made a sign to us to kowtow
to her. I cannot remember how many times I kowtowed that day. The
headdress was very heavy, and I was not quite used to it; I was
afraid it might fall off. Her Majesty also said that she would
make our rank known to the Court on her seventieth birthday. I
will explain this. On every decade from the time of her birth Her
Majesty used to give special favors to anyone she liked, or to
anyone who had done something for her, and had been useful to her.
She could promote anyone at any time, but on these occasions it
was something special. The Young Empress congratulated us, and
said that Her Majesty was looking for a young Prince to marry me.
She was also very fond of teasing. I wrote to my father about all
the favors that had been given to me. He wrote me he hoped that I
deserved them all, and that I must do all I could to be useful and
loyal to Her Majesty as long as she lived.

I was very happy. Life was perfectly lovely at the Palace. Her
Majesty was always nice and kind. I noticed the difference in the
way she had treated us since (as she said) we had become Manchus
once more. One day Her Majesty asked me while we were sailing on
the lake in the moonlight, if I wanted to go to Europe any more.
It was a superb night, and several boats were sailing behind us.
In one boat several eunuchs were playing a kind of sweet music on
the flute and an instrument very much like the mandolin, called
Yeuh Chin (small harp, like the shape of the moon), with Her
Majesty singing very softly to herself. I told her I was satisfied
to be with her, and did not wish to go anywhere at all. She said
that I must learn to sing poetry and that she would teach me every
day. I told her that my father had made me study all kinds of
poetry and I had composed some myself. She looked surprised and
said: "Why didn't you tell me that before? I love poems. You must
read to me sometimes. I have many books here containing poems of
different dynasties." I told her that my knowledge of Chinese
literature was very limited, and I dared not let her see how
little I knew. I had only studied eight years. Her Majesty told me
that the Young Empress and herself were the only ones who were
familiar with Chinese literature at the Court. She told me that
she tried to teach the Court ladies to read and write some time
ago, but having found them so lazy she gave them up. My father
told me to be very careful not to show them what I could do until
I was asked, so I kept it to myself. After they found this out,
some of the Court ladies were very disagreeable to me, and this
went on day after day.

Except for this unpleasantness the fourth moon passed very
agreeably. The first day of the fifth moon was a busy day for us
all, as from the first to the fifth of the fifth moon was the
festival of five poisonous insects, which I will explain
later--also called the Dragon Boat Festival. All the Viceroys,
Governors and high officials, besides the Imperial Family, Court
ladies and eunuchs, all offer Her Majesty beautiful presents. I
never saw such a lot of things as came into the Palace during this
festival. Each person who sent in presents must accompany them
with a sheet of yellow paper, and at the right lower corner the
sender's name must be written and also the word Kuai Jin, meaning
to present their gifts kneeling, also to write what the presents
were. The eunuchs took big yellow trays to bring them in. During
these five days everyone was busy, especially the eunuchs. I could
not count just how many people sent presents to Her Majesty. The
presents were of every kind, such as things for the household;
silks and jewelry of all kinds and description. A large part of
the presents were foreign goods of the ordinary kind. I also saw
lovely carved thrones and embroideries. Her Majesty ordered them
to be put away, and the foreign things to be kept in her Palace,
for those were new to her.

The third day of the fifth moon was the day for just the people of
the Palace to make presents. It was a most beautiful sight to see.
We were busy all night making preparations, and had to go and help
the Young Empress. The next morning we placed our presents in the
big courtyard in these big yellow trays. The Young Empress had her
trays in the first row. The presents from the Young Empress to the
Empress Dowager were made by her own hands. There were ten pairs
of shoes, silk embroidered handkerchiefs, little bags for betel
nuts, and bags for tobacco, all exquisitely done. The Secondary
wife of the Emperor Kwang Hsu presented about the same to Her
Majesty. The Court ladies' presents were all different, as we
could ask permission to go out shopping before the Feast. We could
not go out together, for one or two of us must be there at all
times, and it was very exciting to tell each other what we had
bought. We ourselves did not ask permission to go out of the
Palace, for we had our presents ready long before. Everyone seemed
to be talking about presents, whether Her Majesty would like them
or not. My mother, my sister and myself had written to Paris to
get some lovely French brocades, one set of furniture, French
Empire style. We had learned Her Majesty's taste already during
our short stay there, so including those presents we also gave her
fans, perfumes, soaps and some other French novelties. Her Majesty
always looked over everything, and noticed some of the presents
were of very poor quality, and wanted to know the sender's name.
The eunuchs and servant girls also made her good and useful
presents. Her Majesty would select the articles she liked the
best, and order the rest to be put away, and she might never see
them again. I must say that Her Majesty liked and admired some
foreign things very much, she especially loved the French fancy
brocades, for she was making new gowns almost every day. She was
also pleased with soaps and powder that would beautify the skin.
She always thanked us in a very nice way and said how very
thoughtful we were in selecting beautiful articles for her. Her
Majesty would also say something nice to the eunuchs and girls,
and that made everyone feel pleased.

The fourth day of the fifth moon was the day that Her Majesty gave
presents to us all, the different Princes, high officials, servant
girls and eunuchs. Her memory was something extraordinary, for she
could remember every one of the presents that had been given to
her the day before, and the names of the givers also. That was a
busy day for us. Her Majesty gave people presents according to the
way they gave her. We had yellow sheets of paper and wrote out the
names of those to whom she wished to give. That day Her Majesty
was very angry with one of the wives of a certain Prince because
her presents were the poorest. Her Majesty told me to keep that
tray in her room and said she would go over them and see what they
were. I knew she was not pleased, for she had a telltale face. She
told us to measure the silks and ribbons in that tray, and leave
it in the hall. The ribbons were all of different lengths, all too
short to trim a gown, and the dress materials were not of good
quality. Her Majesty said to me: "Now you look for yourself. Are
these good presents? I know very well all these things were given
to them by other people and they of course would select the best
for themselves, and give me what was left. They know they are
obliged to send me something. I am surprised to see how careless
they are. Probably they thought as I receive so many presents I
would not notice. They are mistaken, for I notice the poorest the
first, in fact I can remember everything. I can see those who gave
me things in order to please me, and those who gave because they
were obliged to. I will return them the same way." She gave the
Court ladies each a beautiful embroidered gown and a few hundred
taels, the same to the Young Empress and the Secondary wife. The
presents which she gave us were a little different, consisting of
two embroidered gowns, several simple ones, jackets and sleeveless
jackets, shoes, and flowers for the Manchu headdress. She said
that we had not so many gowns, and instead of giving us the money,
she had things made for us. Besides that, she gave me a pair of
very pretty earrings, but none to my sister, for she noticed that
I had a pair of ordinary gold earrings, while my sister had a pair
set with pearls and jade. Her Majesty said to my mother: "Yu Tai
Tai. I can see you love one daughter better than the other.
Roonling has such pretty earrings and poor Derling has none."
Before my mother could answer her she had turned to me while I was
standing at the back of her chair: "I will have a nice pair made
for you. You are mine now." My mother told her that I did not like
to wear heavy earrings. Her Majesty laughed and said: "Never mind,
she is mine now, and I will give her everything she needs. You
have nothing to do with her." The earrings she gave me were very
heavy. Her Majesty said that if I would wear them every day I
would get used to them, and so it proved that after some time I
thought nothing of it.

Now about this Feast. It is also called the Dragon Boat Feast. The
fifth of the fifth moon at noon was the most poisonous hour for
the poisonous insects, and reptiles such as frogs, lizards,
snakes, hide themselves in the mud, for that hour they are
paralyzed. Some medical men search for them at that hour and place
them in jars, and when they are dried, sometime use them as
medicine. Her Majesty told me this, so that day I went all over
everywhere and dug into the ground, but found nothing. The usual
custom was that at noon Her Majesty took a small cup filled with
spirits of wine, and added a kind of yellow powder (something like
sulphur). She took a small brush and dipped it into the cup and
made a few spots of this yellow paint under our nostrils and ears.
This was to prevent any insects from crawling on us during the
coming summer. The reason why it was also called the Dragon Boat
Festival was because at the time of the Chou Dynasty the country
was divided into several parts. Each place had a ruler. The
Emperor Chou had a Prime Minister named Chi Yuan, who advised him
to make alliance with the other six countries, but the Emperor
refused, and Chi Yuan thought that the country would be taken by
others in the near future. He could not influence the Emperor, so
he made up his mind to commit suicide and jumped into the river,
taking a large piece of stone with him. This happened on the fifth
day of the fifth moon, so the year afterwards, the Emperor got
into a Dragon boat to worship his soul, and throw rice cakes,
called Tzu Tsi, into the river. On that day the people have
celebrated this feast ever since. At the Palace the theatre played
first this history, which was very interesting, and also played
the insects trying to hide themselves before the most poisonous
hour arrived. On that day we all wore tiger shoes, the front part
of which was made of a tiger's head, with little tigers made of
yellow silk to wear on the headdress. These tigers were only for
the children to wear, and signified that they would be as strong
as a tiger, but Her Majesty wanted us to wear them also. The wives
of the Manchu officials came to the Court, and when they saw us
they laughed at us. We told them it was by Her Majesty's orders.

A register recording the birthdays of all the Court ladies was
kept by the head eunuch, and a few days before my own birthday
came around, the tenth day of the fifth moon, he informed me that
the custom of the Court was to make a present to Her Majesty and
said that the present should take the form of fruit, cakes, etc.,
so I ordered eight boxes of different kinds.

Early in the morning I put on full Court dress, and made myself
look as nice as possible and went to wish Her Majesty good
morning. When she had finished dressing, the eunuchs brought in
the presents and, kneeling, I presented them to Her Majesty,
bowing to the ground nine times. She thanked me and wished me a
happy birthday. She then made me a present of a pair of sandalwood
bracelets, beautifully carved, also a few rolls of brocade silk.
She also informed me that she had ordered some macaroni in honor
of my birthday. This macaroni is called (Chang Shou Me'en) long
life macaroni. This was the custom. I again bowed and thanked her
for her kindness and thoughtfulness. After bowing to the Young
Empress and receiving in return two pairs of shoes and several
embroidered neckties, I returned to my room, where I found
presents from all the Court ladies.

Altogether I had a very happy birthday.

I can never forget the fifteenth day of the fifth moon as long as
I live, for that was a bad day for everyone. As usual we went to
Her Majesty's bedroom quite early that morning. She could not get
up and complained that her back ached so much. We rubbed her back,
in turns, and finally she got up, though a little late. She was
not satisfied. The Emperor came in and knelt down to wish her good
morning, but she scarcely took any notice of him. I noticed that
when the Emperor saw that Her Majesty was not well, he said very
little to her. The eunuch who dressed her hair every morning was
ill, and had ordered another one to help her. Her Majesty told us
to watch him very closely to see that he did not pull her hair
off. She could not bear to see even one or two hairs fall out.
This eunuch was not used to trickery, for instance, in case the
hair was falling off, he could not hide it like the other one did.
This poor man did not know what to do with any that came out. He
was frightened, and Her Majesty, seeing him through the mirror,
asked him whether he had pulled her hair out. He said that he had.
This made her furious, and she told him to replace it. I almost
laughed, but the eunuch was very much frightened and started to
cry. Her Majesty ordered him to leave the room, and said she would
punish him later. We helped her to fix up her hair. I must say it
was not an easy job, for she had very long hair and it was
difficult to comb.

She went to the morning audience, as usual, and after that she
told the head eunuch what had happened. This Li was indeed a bad
and cruel man, and said: "Why not beat him to death?" Immediately
she ordered Li to take this man to his own quarters to receive
punishment. Then Her Majesty said the food was bad, and ordered
the cooks to be punished also. They told me that whenever Her
Majesty was angry everything went wrong, so I was not surprised
that so many things happened that day. Her Majesty said that we
all looked too vain with our hair too low down at the back of the
head. (This Manchu headdress is placed right in the center of
one's head and the back part is called the swallow's tail, and
must reach the bottom part of one's collar.) We had our hair done
up the same way every day, and she had previously never said a
word about it. She looked at us, and said: "Now I am going to the
audience, and don't need you all here. Go back to your rooms and
fix your hair all over again. If I ever see you all like that
again I am going to cut your hair off." I was never more surprised
in my life when I heard her speak so sharply to us. I don't know
whether I was spoken to or not, but I thought it well to be wise,
and I answered I would. We were all ready to go and Her Majesty
stood there watching us. When we were about five or six feet away
we heard her scolding Chun Shou (the girl who was neither a Court
lady nor a servant). Her Majesty said she was pretending she was
all right, and Her Majesty ordered her to go also. When we were
walking towards our own place, some of them laughed at Chun Shou,
which made her angry. When Her Majesty was angry with anyone, she
would say that we were all doing something on purpose to make her
angry. I must say that everyone of us was scared, and wondered who
would have dared to do that. On the contrary, we tried our best to
please her in every way.

But that day she was furious all day and I tried to stay away from
her. I noticed some of the eunuchs went to her to ask questions
concerning important matters, but she would not look at them, but
kept on reading her book. To tell the truth, I felt miserable that
day. At the beginning I thought all the eunuchs were faithful
servants, but seeing them every day, I got to know them. It did
not do them any harm to be punished once in a while.

The Young Empress told me to go in and wait on Her Majesty as
usual. She said that probably if I would suggest playing dice with
her, she might forget her troubles. At first I did not want to go,
for I was afraid that she might say something to me, but seeing
that the poor Young Empress spoke to me so nicely, I told her I
would try. When I entered Her Majesty's sitting room I found her
reading a book. She looked at me and said: "Come over here, I
would like to tell you something. You know these people at the
Palace are no good and I don't like them at all. I don't want them
to poison your ears by telling you how wicked I am. Don't talk to
them. You must not fix your hair too low down at the back of your
head. I was not angry with you this morning. I know you are
different. Don't let them influence you. I want you to be on my
side, and do as I tell you." Her Majesty spoke very kindly to me,
and her face changed also--not at all the same face she had that
morning. Of course I promised her that I would be only too happy
to do all I could to please her. She spoke to me just like a good
mother would speak to a dear child. I changed my opinion and
thought that perhaps after all she was right, but I had often
heard from the officials that one cannot be good to a eunuch, as
he would do all he could to injure you without any reason

I noticed that day they all seemed to be more careful in doing
their work. I was told that when once Her Majesty got angry, she
would never finish. On the contrary, she talked to me very nicely,
just as if there had been no troubles at all. She was not
difficult to wait upon, only one had to watch her moods. I thought
how fascinating she was, and I had already forgotten that she had
been angry. She seemed to have guessed what I was thinking, and
said: "I can make people hate me worse than poison, and can also
make them love me. I have that power." I thought she was right



ON the twenty-sixth day of the fifth moon, during the morning
audience, Prince Ching told Her Majesty that Mrs. Conger, the wife
of the American Minister to Peking, had asked for a private
audience, and would Her Majesty please mention a day. She told him
not to give any answer until the next day, just to give her time
to think it over. I was sitting behind the large screen,
listening, but the other Court ladies made too much noise, so Her
Majesty ordered them not to say a word during audience. I was very
glad myself, because I could listen to some of the interesting
conversations between the Empress Dowager and her Ministers. After
the audience, Her Majesty ordered her lunch to be served on the
top of the hill at Pai Yuen Dien (Spreading Cloud Pavilion). She
said that she preferred to walk, so we followed her very slowly.
To get to this place we had to mount two hundred and seventy-two
steps, besides ten minutes' climbing over rough stones. She did
not seem to mind the climbing part at all. It was the funniest
thing to see two little eunuchs on either side, to support her
arms, trying to keep pace with her. I noticed that she was very
much preoccupied, and did not speak to any of us. When we arrived
at our destination we were very tired and quite exhausted. Her
Majesty, who was a good walker herself, laughed at us. She was
always very much pleased when she excelled in games of skill or
endurance. She said: "You see I am old, and can walk much faster
than you young people. You are all no use. What is the matter with
you?" Her Majesty was very fond of receiving compliments. I had
been there long enough to know and had learned to say things which
would please her. She also hated anyone to pay her compliments at
the wrong moment, so one had to be very careful even in paying her

This "spreading cloud" pavilion was a beautiful Palace. It had an
open space in front of the building, just like one of the
courtyards, with pink and white oleanders all over the place.
There was a porcelain table and several porcelain stools. Her
Majesty sat on her own yellow satin stool and was drinking her tea
in silence. It was very windy that day, although the sky was blue
with warm sunshine. Her Majesty sat there just for a few minutes,
and then said it was too windy and went into the building. I was
more than glad to go in, too, and whispered to the Young Empress
that I thought the wind might blow off my headdress. The eunuchs
brought the luncheon and placed everything upon the table. The
Young Empress made a sign for us to follow her, which we did. When
we came to the back veranda we sat down on the window seats. I
will explain about these seats. All the windows were built low at
the Palace, and on the veranda there was something like a bench
built along the window, about a foot wide. There were no chairs to
be seen excepting Her Majesty's thrones. The Young Empress asked
me whether I had noticed that Her Majesty had something on her
mind. I told her that perhaps she was thinking about the private
audience which Prince Ching had mentioned that morning. She said
that I had guessed right, and asked: "Do you know anything about
this audience? When will it take place?" I said that Her Majesty
had not yet given her answer.

By this time Her Majesty had finished eating and was walking up
and down the room, watching us eating. She came over to my mother
and said: "I am just wondering why Mrs. Conger asks for a private
audience. Perhaps she has something to say to me. I would like to
know just what it is so I can prepare an answer." My mother said
that probably Mrs. Conger had someone visiting her who wished to
be presented to Her Majesty. "No, it can't be that, because they
must give the list of names of those who wish to come to the
Palace. I don't mind the formal audiences, but I don't think that
I should have private ones at all. I don't like to be questioned,
as you all know. The foreigners are, of course, very nice and
polite, according to their own way, but they cannot compare with
us, so far as etiquette is concerned. I may be conservative in
saying that I admire our custom and will not change it as long as
I live. You see our people are taught to be polite from their
earliest childhood, and just look back at the oldest teachings and
compare them with the new. People seem to like the latter the
best. I mean that the new idea is to be Christians, to chop up
their Ancestral Tablets and burn them. I know many families here
who have broken up because of the missionaries, who are always
influencing the young people to believe their religion. Now I tell
you why I feel uneasy about this audience is because we are too
polite to refuse anyone who asks any favors in person. The
foreigners don't seem to understand that. I'll tell you what I
will do. Whenever they ask me anything, I'll simply tell them that
I am not my own boss, but have to consult with my Ministers; that
although I am the Empress Dowager of China, I must also obey the
law. To tell the truth, I like Madame Uchida (wife of the Japanese
Minister to Peking) very much. She is always very nice and doesn't
ask any silly questions. Of course the Japanese are very much like
ourselves, not at all forward. Last year, before you came to the
Court, a missionary lady came with Mrs. Conger, and suggested that
I should establish a school for girls at the Palace. I did not
like to offend her, and said that I would take it into
consideration. Now, just imagine it for a moment. Wouldn't it be
foolish to have a school at the Palace; besides, where am I going
to get so many girls to study? I have enough to do as it is. I
don't want all the children of the Imperial family studying at my

Her Majesty laughed while she was telling us this, and everyone
else laughed, too. She said: "I am sure you will laugh. Mrs.
Conger is a very nice lady. America is always very friendly
towards China, and I appreciate their nice behavior at the Palace
during the twenty-sixth year of Kwang Hsu (1900), but I cannot say
that I love the missionaries, too. Li Lien Ying told me that these
missionaries here give the Chinese a certain medicine, and that
after that they wish to become Christians, and then they would
pretend to tell the Chinese to think it over very carefully, for
they would never force anyone to believe their religion against
their own will. Missionaries also take the poor Chinese children
and gouge their eyes out, and use them as a kind of medicine." I
told her that that was not true; that I had met a great many
missionaries, and that they were very kind-hearted and willing to
do anything to help the poor Chinese. I also told her what they
had done for the poor orphans--given them a home, food and
clothing; that sometimes they went into the interior and found the
blind children who might be useless to their parents, and when
they get them they have to support them. I know several cases like
that. These country people offer their deformed children to the
missionaries, as they are too poor to feed and take care of them.
I told her about their schools, and how they helped the poor
people. Her Majesty then laughed, and said: "Of course I believe
what you say, but why don't these missionaries stay in their own
country and be useful to their own people?" I thought it would be
of no use for me to talk too much, but at the same time I would
like her to know of the dreadful times some of the missionaries
had in China. Some time ago, two of them were murdered at Wu
Shuih, in June, 1892 (a little below Hankow), the church being
burnt down by the mob. My father was appointed by Viceroy Chang
Chih Tung to investigate the matter. After much trouble he caught
three of the murderers and, according to the Chinese law, they
were put to death by hanging in wooden cages, and the Government
paid an indemnity to the families of the murdered missionaries.
The year after, 1893, a Catholic church was burnt down at Mar
Cheng, on the Yangtse, near Ichang. The mob said they saw many
blind children at the church, who were made to work after having
their eyes gouged out. The Prefect of Ichang Province said it was
true that missionaries did get the Chinese childrens' eyes for
making medicine, so my father suggested having those blind
children brought into the Yamen and ask them. The Prefect was a
most wicked man, and was very anti-foreign also. He gave the poor
children plenty of food, and taught them to say that the
missionaries did gouge their eyes out, but when they were brought
in the next day they said that the missionaries treated them very
kindly and gave them a nice home, good food and clothing. They
said they were blind long before they became Catholics, and also
said that the Prefect had taught them to say that the missionaries
were cruel to them, which was not true. The blind children begged
to go back to the school and said that they were very happy there.

Her Majesty said: "That may be all right for them to help the poor
and relieve their suffering. For instance, like our great Buddha
Ju Lai, who fed the hungry birds with his own flesh. I would love
them if they would leave my people alone. Let us believe our own
religion. Do you know how the Boxer rising began? Why, the Chinese
Christians were to blame. The Boxers were treated badly by them,
and wanted revenge. Of course that is always the trouble with the
low class of people. They went too far, and at the same time
thought to make themselves rich by setting fire to every house in
Peking. It made no difference whose house. They wanted to burn so
long as they could get money. These Chinese Christians are the
worst people in China. They rob the poor country people of their
land and property, and the missionaries, of course, always protect
them, in order to get a share themselves. Whenever a Chinese
Christian is taken to the Magistrate's Yamen, he is not supposed
to kneel down on the ground and obey the Chinese law, as others
do, and is always very rude to his own Government Officials. Then
these missionaries do the best they can to protect him, whether he
is wrong or not, and believe everything he says and make the
magistrate set the prisoner free. Do you remember that your father
established rules in the twenty-fourth year of Kwang Hsu, how the
Chinese officials should treat the Bishops whenever they had
dealings with each other? I know the common class of people become
Christians--also those who are in trouble--but I don't believe
that any of the high officials are Christians." Her Majesty looked
around and whispered: "Kang Yue Wai (the reformer in 1898) tried
to make the Emperor believe that religion. No one shall believe as
long as I live. I must say that I admire the foreigners in some
ways. For instance, their navies and armies, and engineers, but as
regards civilization I should say that China is the first country
by all means. I know that many people believe that the Government
had connections with the Boxers, but that is not true. As soon as
we found out the trouble we issued several Edicts, and ordered the
soldiers to drive them out, but they had gone too far already. I
made up my mind not to go out of the Palace at all. I am an old
woman, and did not care whether I died or not, but Prince Tuang
and Duke Lan suggested that we should go at once. They also
suggested that we should go in disguise, which made me very angry,
and I refused. After the return of the Court to Peking, I was told
that many people believed that I did go in disguise, and said that
I was dressed in one of my servant's clothes, and rode in a broken
cart drawn by a mule, and that this old woman servant of mine was
dressed as the Empress Dowager, and rode in my sedan chair. I
wonder who made that story up? Of course everyone believed it, and
such a story would get to the foreigners in Peking without any

"Now to come back to the question of the Boxer Rising. How badly I
was treated by my own servants. No one seemed anxious to go with
me, and a great many ran away before the Court had any idea of
leaving the Capital at all, and those who stayed would not work,
but stood around and waited to see what was going to happen. I
made up my mind to ask and see how many would be willing to go, so
I said to everyone: `If you servants are willing to go with me,
you can do so, and those who are not willing, can leave me.' I was
very much surprised to find that there were very few standing
around listening. Only seventeen eunuchs, two old women servants
and one servant girl, that was Sho Chu. Those people said they
would go with me, no matter what happened. I had 3,000 eunuchs,
but they were nearly all gone before I had the chance of counting
them. Some of the wicked ones were even rude to me, and threw my
valuable vases on the stone floor, and smashed them. They knew
that I could not punish them at that important moment, for we were
leaving. I cried very much and prayed for our Great Ancestors'
Souls to protect us. Everyone knelt with me and prayed. The Young
Empress was the only one of my family who went with me. A certain
relative of mine, whom I was very fond of, and gave her everything
she asked, refused to go with me. I knew that the reason she would
not go was because she thought the foreign soldiers would catch up
the runaway Court, and kill everyone.

"After we had been gone about seven days, I sent one eunuch back,
to find out who was still in Peking. She asked this eunuch whether
there were any foreign soldiers chasing us, and whether I was
killed. Soon after the Japanese soldiers took her Palace, and
drove her out. She thought she was going to die anyway, and as I
was not yet assassinated, she might catch up with the Court, and
go with us. I could not understand how she traveled so fast. One
evening we were staying at a little country house, when she came
in with her husband, a nice man. She was telling me how much she
had missed me, and how very anxious she had been all that time to
know whether I was safe or not, and cried. I refused to listen to
what she was saying and told her plainly that I did not believe a
word. From that time she was finished for me. I had a very hard
time, traveling in a sedan chair, from early morning, before the
sun rose, until dark and in the evening had to stop at some
country place. I am sure you would pity me, old as I am, that I
should have had to suffer in that way.

"The Emperor went all the way in a cart, drawn by a mule, also the
Empress. I went along, and was praying to our Great Ancestors for
protection, but the Emperor was very quiet, and never opened his
mouth. One day something happened. It rained so much and some of
the chair carriers ran away. Some of the mules died suddenly. It
was very hot, and the rain was pouring down on our heads. Five
small eunuchs ran away also, because we were obliged to punish
them the night before on account of their bad behavior to the
Magistrate, who did all he could to make me comfortable, but of
course food was scarce. I heard these eunuchs quarreling with the
Magistrate, who bowed to the ground, begging them to keep quiet,
and promised them everything. I was of course very angry.
Traveling under such circumstances one ought to be satisfied that
one was provided for.

"It took us more than a month before we reached Shi An. I cannot
tell you how fatigued I was, and was of course worrying very much,
which made me quite ill for almost three months. So long as I live

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