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Two Years in the Forbidden City by The Princess Der Ling

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I cannot forget it.

"We returned to Peking early in the twenty-eighth year of Kwang
Hsu and I had another dreadful feeling when I saw my own Palace
again. Oh! it was quite changed; a great many valuable ornaments
broken or stolen. All the valuable things at the Sea Palace had
been taken away, and someone had broken the fingers of my white
jade Buddha, to whom I used to worship every day. Several
foreigners sat on my throne and had their photos taken. When I was
at the Shi An I was just like being sent into exile, although the
Viceroy's Yamen was prepared for us, but the building was very
old, damp and unhealthy. The Emperor became ill. It would take a
long time to tell you everything; I thought I had enough trouble,
but this last was the worst. When I have time, I will tell you
more about it. I want you to know the absolute truth.

"Now let us come back to the question of Mrs. Conger's private
audience. There must be something special, but I hope that she
will not ask for anything, for I hate to refuse her. Can you guess
what it is?" I told Her Majesty that there could not be anything
special; besides, Mrs. Conger considered herself to be a person
who knew Chinese etiquette very well, and I didn't believe she
would ask for anything at all. Her Majesty said: "The only
objection I have is that Mrs. Conger always brings one of the
missionaries as her interpreter, when I have your mother, your
sister and yourself, which I think should be sufficient. I don't
think it is right for her to do that; besides, I cannot understand
their Chinese very well. I like to see the ladies of the
Diplomatic body sometimes, but not the missionaries. I will stop
that when the opportunity comes."

The next morning Prince Ching told Her Majesty that the American
Admiral, and Mrs. Evans, and suite wished to be presented to her.
The American Minister asked two private audiences. He said he had
made a mistake by telling her that Mrs. Conger had asked an
audience for herself, the day before.

After the regular morning audience was over Her Majesty laughed
and said: "Didn't I tell you yesterday that there must be a reason
for asking an audience? I rather would like to meet the American
Admiral and his wife." Turning to us she said: "Be sure and fix
everything up pretty, change everything in my bedroom, so as not
to show them our daily life." We all said "Jur" (yes), but we knew
it was going to be a hard task to turn the Palace upside down.

It was just the night before the appointed audience. We started to
work taking off the pink silk curtains from every window, and
changing them for sky blue (the color she hated); then we changed
the cushions on the chairs to the same color. While we were
watching the eunuchs doing the work, several of them came into the
room, carrying a large tray full of clocks. By this time her
Majesty had come into the room, and ordered us to remove all her
white and green jade Buddhas and take some of the jade ornaments
away, for those things were sacred, and no foreigners should see
them, so we replaced them with these clocks, instead. We also took
away the three embroidered door curtains, and changed them for
ordinary blue satin ones. I must explain that these three curtains
were sacred, too. They were embroidered to represent five hundred
Buddhist deities, on old gold satin, and had been used by Emperor
Tou Kwang. Her Majesty believed that by hanging these curtains at
her door they would guard against evil spirits entering her room.
The order was that one of us should remember to place them back
again when the audience was over. We fixed every piece of
furniture in her bedroom. Her toilet table was the most important
thing. She would not let anyone see it-not even the wives of the
Officials who came in, so of course we had to put it in a safe
place, and lock it up. We changed her bed from pink color into
blue. All her furniture was made of sandalwood, also carvings on
her bed. This sandalwood, before it was made into furniture, was
placed in different temples, to be sanctified, so of course no
foreigner could see it. As we could not take this carving from her
bed, we covered it up with embroidered hangings. While we were
working Her Majesty came in and told us not to hurry in her
bedroom, because the audience the next day would only be for
Admiral Robley Evans and his staff, and they would not visit the
private rooms. The audience for Mrs. Evans and the other ladies
would be the day after. She said it was important to see that the
Audience Hall was fixed up properly. She said: "Place the only
carpet we have here in the hall. I don't like carpets anyway, but
it cannot be helped."

After we had finished, Her Majesty started to tell us what to wear
for the ladies' audience. She said to me: "You need not come to
the throne to-morrow, there will only be gentlemen. I will get one
of the Ministers from Wai-Wu-Pu (Bureau of Foreign Affairs). I
don't want you to talk to so many strange men. It is not the
Manchu custom. These people are all strangers. They might go back
to America and tell everybody what you look like." At the same
time Her Majesty gave orders for the Imperial Yellow Gown to be
brought in next day, for the gentleman's audience. She said that
she must dress in her official robe for this occasion. This robe
was made of yellow satin, embroidered with gold dragons. She wore
a necklace composed of one hundred and eight pearls, which formed
part of this official dress. She said: "I don't like to wear this
official robe. It is not pretty, but I am afraid I will have to."
She said to all of us: "You need not dress especially."

The next morning Her Majesty got up early, and was busier than
ever. It seemed to me that whenever we had an audience we always
had so much trouble. Something was sure to go wrong and make Her
Majesty angry. She said: "I want to look nice, and be amiable, but
these people always make me angry. I know the American Admiral
will go home and tell his people about me, and I don't want him to
have a wrong impression." It took her almost two hours to dress
her hair, and by that time it was too late for her usual morning
audience, so she proposed holding that after the foreigners had
gone away. She looked at herself in the looking-glass, with her
Imperial robe on, and told me that she did not like it, and asked
me whether I thought the foreigners would know that it was an
official robe. "I look too ugly in yellow. It makes my face look
the same color as my robe," she said. I suggested that as it was
only a private audience, if she wished to dress differently, it
would not matter at all. She seemed delighted, and I was afraid
lest I had not made a proper suggestion, but anyway I was too busy
to worry. Her Majesty ordered that her different gowns should be
brought in, and after looking them over she selected one
embroidered all over with the character "Shou" (long life),
covered with precious stones and pearls, on pale green satin. She
tried it on, and said that it was becoming to her, so she ordered
me to go to the jewel-room and get flowers to match for her hair.
On one side of the headdress was the character (shou) and on the
other side was a bat (the bat in China is considered to be lucky).
Of course her shoes, handkerchiefs and everything else were
embroidered in the same way. After she was dressed, she smiled and
said: "I look all right now. We had better go to the audience hall
and wait for them, and at the same time we can play a game of
dice." Then to us all she said: "All of you will stay at the back
of the screen during the audience. You can see all right, but I
don't wish that you should be seen." The eunuchs had laid the map
down on the table and were just going to commence playing dice,
when one of the high rank eunuchs came into the Hall and, kneeling
down, said that the American Admiral had arrived at the Palace
Gate, together with the American Minister--ten or twelve people
altogether. Her Majesty smiled and said to me: "I thought it was
just going to be the American Minister and the Admiral, and one or
two of his staff. Who can the rest of the people be? However,
never mind, I will receive them anyway." We helped her to mount
her throne upon the dais, fixed her clothes, and handed her the
paper containing the speech she was to give. Then we went back of
the screen, with the Young Empress. It was so very quiet, not a
sound anywhere, that we could hear the boots of the visitors as
they walked over the stones in the courtyard. We were peeping from
behind the screen, and could see several of the Princes mounting
the steps, conducting these people to the Hall. The Admiral and
the American Minister came in, and stood in a line. They bowed
three times to the Empress Dowager. The Emperor was also on his
throne, sitting at her left hand. His throne was very small, just
like an ordinary chair. Her Majesty's speech was simply to welcome
the Admiral to China. They then came up to the dais and shook
hands with their Majesties, ascending on one side, and retiring
down the other. Prince Ching took them into another Palace
building, where they had lunch, and the audience was over. It was
very simple and formal.

After the audience was over Her Majesty said that she could hear
us laughing behind the screen, and that maybe the people would
talk about it, and did not like it at all. I told her that it was
not myself who laughed. She said: "The next time when I have men
in audience you need not come into the Audience Hall at all. Of
course it is different when I have my own people at the morning

Her Majesty did not go to her bedroom that afternoon. She said she
wanted to wait until these people had gone and hear what they had
to say. After a couple of hours Prince Ching came in and reported
that they had lunched, and that they were very pleased to have
seen Her Majesty, and had gone away. I must here explain that the
Admiral had entered by the left gate of the Palace. The middle
gate was only used for Their Majesties, with one exception, viz.:
in the case of anyone presenting credentials. Then they entered by
the center gate. The Admiral left by the same gate he had entered.
Her Majesty asked Prince Ching whether he had showed them around
the Palace buildings or not (this was in the Summer Palace), and
what they had thought about it. Did they say anything, and were
they pleased or not. She said to Prince Ching: "You can go now,
and make the necessary preparations for the ladies' audience next
day." That same evening Her Majesty said to us: "You must all
dress alike to-morrow, and wear your prettiest clothes. These
foreign ladies who are coming to the Palace may never see us
again, and if we don't show them what we have now, we will not
have another opportunity." She ordered us all, including the Young
Empress, to wear pale blue, also the Secondary wife of the
Emperor. She said to me: "If the ladies ask who the Secondary wife
is, you can tell them; but if they don't ask, I don't want you to
introduce her to them at all. I have to be very careful. These
people at the Palace here are not used to seeing so many people
and they might not have nice manners, and the foreigners will
laugh at them." Then she said to us again: "I always give presents
when ladies come to the Court, but don't know whether I will give
this time or not, for at the last audience I did not give anything
at all." Addressing me, she said: "You can prepare some pieces of
jade, in case I need them. Put them in a nice box and have them
all ready. Don't bring them to me until I ask for them." She said:
"We have talked enough now, and you can all go to rest." We
courtesied good night. I was only too glad to go to my own room.

The next morning everything went on very nicely and there was no
trouble at all. Her Majesty was well satisfied, for we had all
taken great care in fixing ourselves up. She said to me: "You
never put enough paint on your face. People might take you for a
widow. You will have to paint your lips, as that is the custom. I
don't need you yet, so go back and put some more paint on." So I
went back to my room and painted myself just like the rest of
them, but I could not help laughing at seeing myself so changed.
By the time I got to her room again, she said: "Now you look all
right. If you think that powder is expensive, I will buy some for
you." She said that with a laugh, for she always liked to tease

By the time Her Majesty had finished her toilet, one of the ladies
brought a number of gowns for her to select one from. She said she
would wear pale blue that day. She looked over twenty or thirty
gowns, but found nothing which suited her, so she gave orders for
some more to be brought in. Finally she chose a blue gown
embroidered with one hundred butterflies, and wore a purple
sleeveless jacket, which was also embroidered with butterflies. At
the bottom of this gown were pearl tassels. She wore her largest
pearls, one of which was almost as large as an egg, and was her
favorite jewel. She only wore this on special occasions. She wore
two jade butterflies on each side of her headdress. Her bracelets
and rings were also all designed in butterflies, in fact
everything matched. Among her beautiful jewels, she always wore
some kind of fresh flowers. White jessamine was her favorite
flower. The Young Empress and the Court ladies were not allowed to
wear fresh flowers at all unless given to them by Her Majesty as a
special favor. We could wear pearls and jade, etc., but she said
that the fresh flowers were for her, her idea being that we were
too young, and might spoil fresh flowers if we wore them. After
she was dressed we went into the Audience Hall. She ordered her
cards to be brought in as she wanted to play solitaire. She talked
all the time she was playing, and said that we must all be very
nice and polite to the American ladies, and show them everywhere.
She said: "It doesn't matter now, for we have everything changed."
She said: "I want to laugh myself. What is the use of changing
everything? They will imagine we are always like this. By and bye,
if they question you about anything, just tell them that it is not
so, and that we change everything at each audience, just to give
them a bit of surprise. You must tell it some day, otherwise no
one will know it at all, and the trouble would not be worth the
while." It was a private audience for ladies, and Her Majesty did
not use the big throne, but was sitting on her little throne at
the left side of the Audience Hall, where she received her own
Ministers every morning; the Emperor was standing. A eunuch came
in, the same as the day before, and announced that the ladies had
arrived at the Palace Gate, nine in all. Her Majesty sent some of
the Court ladies to meet them in the courtyard, and bring them to
the Audience Hall, which they did. I was standing at the right
side of Her Majesty's chair, and could see them mounting the
steps. Her Majesty whispered to me, and asked: "Which one is Mrs.
Evans?" As I had never seen the lady, I answered that I could not
tell, but when they got nearer I saw a lady walking with the
American Minister's wife, and concluded that she must be Mrs.
Evans, and told Her Majesty. As they got nearer, Her Majesty said:
"Again that missionary lady with Mrs. Conger. I think she must
like to see me. She comes every time. I will tell her I am very
glad to see her always, and see if she understands what I mean."

Mrs. Conger shook hands with Her Majesty and presented Mrs. Evans
and also the wives of the American officers. I was watching Her
Majesty and saw that she was very nice and amiable, with such a
pleasant smile--so different from her everyday manner. She told
them she was delighted to see them. Her Majesty ordered the
eunuchs to have chairs brought in for the ladies, and at the same
time other eunuchs brought in tea. Her Majesty asked Mrs. Evans
whether she liked China; what she thought of Peking; how long she
had been there; how long she was going to stay, and where she was
staying. I was so accustomed to Her Majesty's questions that I
knew exactly what she would ask. Mrs. Conger told her interpreter
to tell Her Majesty that she had not seen her for such a long
time, and enquired about Her Majesty's health. Her Majesty said to
me: "You tell Mrs. Conger that I am in good health and that I am
delighted to see her. It is a pity that I cannot hold an audience
more frequently, otherwise I could see more of her." She
continued: "The Imperial Princess (her adopted daughter-daughter
of Prince Kung) will accompany them to lunch." This ended the

Lunch was served at the back of her own Palace building (Yang Yuen
Hsuen--the place where the clouds gather to rest). This room was
specially furnished as a banqueting room where refreshments could
be served. All the Court ladies went to the lunch, except Her
Majesty, the Young Empress and the Secondary wife. It had taken me
two hours to fix the table for the luncheon. Her Majesty ordered
that a white foreign tablecloth should be used, as it looked
cleaner. The eunuch gardeners had decorated the table with fresh
flowers, and Her Majesty gave instructions as to how the seats
were to be placed. She said: "Mrs. Evans is the guest of honor.
Although Mrs. Conger is the wife of the American Minister, she is
more of a resident, so Mrs. Evans must have the principal seat."
She also told me to arrange to seat everybody according to their
respective ranks. The Imperial Princess and Princess Shun (Her
Majesty's niece, sister of the Young Empress) were hostesses, and
were to sit opposite each other. We placed golden menu holders and
little gold plates for almonds and watermelon seeds; the rest all
silver ware, including chopsticks. Her Majesty ordered that
foreign knives and forks should be provided also. The food was
served in Manchu style, and was composed of twenty-four courses,
besides sweetmeats--candies and fruits. Her Majesty instructed us
that only the best champagne was to be served. She said: "I know
that foreign ladies love to drink."

I think I was the only one who was really happy to meet these
ladies, more so than the rest of the Court ladies, the reason
being that Her Majesty lectured them too severely, telling them
how to behave, so that they had grown to hate the very mention of
a foreign audience. While we were eating, a eunuch came in and
told me that Her Majesty was waiting at her private Palace, and
that I should bring these ladies there after the lunch was over.
So when we had finished we entered her own Palace and found her
waiting there for us. She got up and told me to ask Mrs. Evans
whether she had had anything to eat--that the food was not very
good. (This is a custom with the Chinese when entertaining, always
to underrate the food.) She said that she would like to show Mrs.
Evans her private apartments, so that she could form some idea of
the way we lived, so she took Mrs. Evans to one of her bedrooms.
She invited Mrs. Evans and Mrs. Conger to sit down, and the
eunuchs brought in tea, as usual. Her Majesty asked Mrs. Evans to
stay a little while in Peking, and to visit the different temples.
She said: "Our country, although very old, has not such fine
buildings as there are in America. I suppose you will find
everything very strange. I am rather too old now, otherwise I
would like to travel around the world. I have read much about
different countries, but of course there is nothing like visiting
the different places and seeing them yourself. However, one cannot
tell. I may be able to go after all, by and bye, but I am afraid
to leave my own country. By the time I returned I should not know
the place any more, I'm afraid. Here everything seems to depend on
me. Our Emperor is quite young."

She then turned and ordered us to take these ladies to visit the
different buildings of the Palace, also the famous temple of the
King of Dragons. This is on a little island in the center of the
lake of the Summer Palace. Mrs. Conger said that she had something
to ask Her Majesty, and told the Missionary lady to proceed. While
Mrs. Conger was speaking to this lady Her Majesty became rather
impatient as she wanted to know what they were talking about, so
she asked me. It was very hard for me to listen to both of the
ladies and to Her Majesty at the same time. The only words I heard
were: "The portrait," so I guessed the rest. Before I had a chance
to tell Her Majesty this Missionary lady said: "Mrs. Conger has
come with the special object of asking permission to have Her
Majesty's portrait painted by an American lady artist, Miss Carl,
as she is desirous of sending it to the St. Louis Exhibition, in
order that the American people may form some idea of what a
beautiful lady the Empress Dowager of China is." Miss Carl is the
sister of Mr. F. Carl who was for so many years Commissioner of
Customs in Chefoo.

Her Majesty looked surprised, for she had been listening very
carefully whilst this lady was talking. She did not like to say
that she did not quite understand, so she turned to me, as had
been previously arranged,--a sign for me to interpret. I did not,
however, do so immediately, so Mrs. Conger told her missionary
friend to repeat the request in case Her Majesty had not quite
understood it. Her Majesty then said to me: "I cannot quite
understand what this lady says. I think perhaps you can tell me
better." So I explained everything, but I knew that Her Majesty
did not know what a portrait was like, as, up to that time she had
never even had a photograph taken of herself.

I must here explain that in China a portrait is only painted after
death, in memorium of the deceased, in order that the following
generations may worship the deceased. I noticed that Her Majesty
was somewhat shocked when the request was made known to her. I did
not want Her Majesty to appear ignorant before these foreign
ladies, so I pulled her sleeve and told her that I would explain
everything to her later. She replied: "Explain a little to me
now." This was spoken in the Court language, which the visitors
were unable to understand, it being somewhat different from the
ordinary Chinese language. This enabled Her Majesty to form some
idea of the conversation, so she thanked Mrs. Conger for her kind
thought, and promised to give her answer later. She said to me:
"Tell Mrs. Conger that I cannot decide anything alone, as she is
probably aware that I have to consult with my Ministers before
deciding anything of an important character. Tell her that I have
to be very careful not to do anything which would give my people
an opportunity to criticize my actions. I have to adhere to the
rules and customs of my ancestors." I noticed that Her Majesty did
not seem inclined to discuss the subject further at the moment.

Just then the head eunuch came in and, kneeling down, informed Her
Majesty that the boats for the ladies were ready to take them
across the lake, to see the temple. This action on the part of the
eunuch was owing to his having received a signal from one of the
Court ladies, which implied that Her Majesty was getting tired of
the conversation, and wished to change the subject. I must explain
that on every occasion when a foreign audience was taking place,
one of the Court ladies was always told off to watch Her Majesty,
and whenever she appeared to be displeased or tired of any
particular subject under discussion, she, the Court lady, would
give the signal to the head eunuch, who would break in upon the
conversation in the above manner, and thus save the situation from
becoming embarrassing. So Her Majesty said good-bye to the ladies,
as she thought it would be too late for them to have to return to
say good-bye, besides which it would give them more time to see
the various sights.

The ladies then proceeded to the island in the Empress Dowager's
pleasure boat known as the Imperial barge, previously described,
and visited the temple. This temple is built on top of a small
rock, in the center of which is a natural cave, and it was
generally supposed that no human being had ever been inside of
this cave. The Empress Dowager believed the popular superstition
that this hole was the home of the King of Dragons--from which the
temple derives its name.



AFTER staying a little while at the temple, we returned to the
Palace, and the ladies said goodbye and took chairs to the Palace
gate, where their own chairs were waiting for them. I then went to
report to Her Majesty in the usual way what had been said by the
visitors; whether they had expressed themselves as being pleased
with the reception they had received. Her Majesty said: "I like
Mrs. Evans. I think she is a very good woman. It seems to me that
her manners are quite different from those of the other American
ladies whom I have met. I like to meet people who are polite."
Then, referring to the subject of the portrait Her Majesty said:
"I wonder why Mrs. Conger has this idea. Now please explain to me
what painting a portrait really is." When I explained that it
would be necessary for her to sit for several hours each day she
was excited, and afraid she would never have the patience to see
it through. She asked me what she must do during the sitting, so I
explained that she would simply have to pose for the portrait,
sitting in one position all the time She said: "I shall be an old
woman by the time the portrait is finished." I told her that I had
had my own portrait painted during my stay in Paris, by the same
artist Mrs. Conger had proposed should paint her own portrait
(Miss Carl). She immediately told me to fetch the portrait of
myself so that she could examine it and see what it was like, so I
gave the order right away to a eunuch who was standing by to go to
my house and bring it. Her Majesty said: "I do not understand why
I must sit for the portrait Couldn't someone else do it for me." I
explained to her that as it was her own portrait, and not that of
somebody else, they wished to paint, it would be necessary for her
to sit herself. She then enquired whether it would be necessary
for her to wear the same dress at each sitting, also the same
jewels and ornaments. I replied that it would be necessary to do
so on each occasion. Her Majesty then explained that in China it
was only necessary for an artist to see his subject once, after
which he could start right away and finish the portrait in a very
short time, and thought that a really first-class foreign artist
should be able to do the same. Of course I explained the
difference between foreign portrait painting and Chinese, and told
her that when she had seen it she would see the difference and
understand the reason for so many sittings. She said: "I wonder
what kind of a person this lady artist is. Does she speak
Chinese?" I said that I knew Miss Carl very well, and that she was
a very nice lady, but that she didn't speak Chinese. She said: "If
her brother has been in the Customs service for so long, how is it
that she doesn't speak Chinese also?" I told her that Miss Carl
had been away from China for a long time; that in fact she had
only been in China for a very short time altogether, most of her
work being in Europe and America. Her Majesty said: "I am glad she
doesn't understand Chinese. The only objection about this portrait
painting is that I have to have a foreigner at the Palace all the
time. With my own people gossiping they might tell her things
which I don't want anyone to know." I told her that would be
impossible as Miss Carl did not understand Chinese at all, neither
did any of the people at Court understand English, with the
exception of ourselves (my mother, sister and myself). Her Majesty
answered: "You must not rely too much on that, as after spending a
short time at the Court they will soon learn to understand each
other." Continuing, she said: "By the way, how long will it take
before this portrait is finished?" I told her that it depended
entirely upon how often she sat, and how long each time. I didn't
like to tell her exactly how long it would take, as I was afraid
she might consider it too much bother, so I said that when the
artist arrived I would tell her to get along and finish the
portrait as quickly as possible.

Her Majesty said: "I don't see how I can very well refuse Mrs.
Conger's request. Of course I told her, as you know, that I would
have to consult with my Ministers, just to give me time to think
the matter over. If you know all about this artist lady, and think
she is quite all right to come here to the Palace, of course she
may come, and I will tell Prince Ching to reply to Mrs. Conger to
that effect. First of all we must talk over what we are going to
do, for to have a foreign lady staying in the Palace is out of the
question altogether. As a rule I always spend the summer at my
Summer Palace, and it is so far from the city that I don't think
she will be able to go to and from the Palace every day, on
account of the distance. Now, where can we put her? Someone will
have to watch her all the time. This is such a difficult matter
that I hardly know what to decide upon. How would you like to look
after her? Do you think you could manage it in such a way that no
one at the Palace will have a chance to talk with her during the
daytime, but who is going to stay and watch her during the night?"
Her Majesty walked up and down the room thinking it over for quite
a while. Finally she smiled and said: "I have it. We can treat her
as a prisoner without her knowing it, but it will all depend on
your mother, your sister and yourself to act for me in this
matter. Each of you will have to play your part very carefully,
and I mine also. I will give orders to have the Palace Garden of
Prince Chung (the Emperor Kwang Hsu's father) fixed up for Miss
Carl during her stay here."

This Palace garden is quite close to Her Majesty's own Palace,
about ten minutes' drive. It is not in the Palace ground, but is
quite a separate Palace outside the Summer Palace.

Continuing, Her Majesty said: "Now, you will have to come with her
every morning and return to stay with her every night. I think
this is the safest way out of the difficulty, but be careful with
regard to all correspondence which she may either receive or send
away. The only thing about it is that it will give you a lot of
extra work, but you know how particular I am over things of this
kind, and it will save a lot of trouble in the end. There is
another thing you will have to be very careful about, and that is
to watch that Miss Carl has no chance to talk with the Emperor.
The reason why I say this is because, as you know, the Emperor is
of a shy disposition, and might say something which would offend
her. I will appoint four extra eunuchs to be in attendance during
the sittings for the portrait, so that they will be on hand in
case anything is wanted." Her Majesty then said: "I noticed that
Mrs. Conger was watching you when you pulled my sleeve. I wonder
what she thought of it. You needn't care, anyway. Let her think
anything she likes. I understood what you meant if Mrs. Conger
didn't, and that is all that is necessary." I told her that
perhaps Mrs. Conger thought I wanted to advise her to refuse this
request, but Her Majesty said: "What does that matter? If it
hadn't been that you know the artist yourself I would not have
consented in any case. It is not the painting of the portrait that
I mind, but it might give rise to serious results."

The next morning I received a letter from Mrs. Conger begging me
not to prejudice Her Majesty against Miss Carl in any way. I
translated this to Her Majesty, and it made her furious. She said:
"No one has any right to write to you in such a way. How dare she
suggest that you would say anything against Miss Carl? Didn't I
tell you she was watching you when you pulled my sleeve? When you
reply to that letter tell her whatever you like, but answer in the
same way she writes herself, or, better still, you write and
inform her that it is not customary for any Court lady to try and
influence Her Majesty in this country, and that in addition, you
are not so mean as to say anything against anybody. If you don't
like to say that, just say that as Miss Carl is a personal friend
of yours you certainly would never think of saying anything
against her."

I therefore replied to Mrs. Conger's letter in the ordinary way,
making it as formal as possible.

Her Majesty then talked of nothing but the portrait during the
whole of that afternoon. By and bye she said: "I hope that Mrs.
Conger will not send a missionary lady with Miss Carl to keep her
company during her stay at the Palace. If she does I will
certainly refuse to sit. The next morning the eunuch arrived with
my portrait, and everyone at the Court had a good look at it
before I took it to show to Her Majesty. Some of them were of the
opinion that it was very much like me, while the others thought
the painting a very poor one. When I informed Her Majesty of the
arrival of the portrait she ordered that it should be brought into
her bedroom immediately. She scrutinized it very carefully for a
while, even touching the painting in her curiosity. Finally she
burst out laughing and said: "What a funny painting this is, it
looks as though it had been painted with oil." (Of course it was
an oil painting.) "Such rough work I never saw in all my life. The
picture itself is marvellously like you, and I do not hesitate to
say that none of our Chinese painters could get the expression
which appears on this picture. What a funny dress you are wearing
in this picture. Why are your arms and neck all bare? I have heard
that foreign ladies wear their dresses without sleeves and without
collars, but I had no idea that it was so bad and ugly as the
dress you are wearing here. I cannot imagine how you could do it.
I should have thought you would have been ashamed to expose
yourself in that manner. Don't wear any more such dresses, please.
It has quite shocked me. What a funny kind of civilization this is
to be sure. Is this dress only worn on certain occasions, or is it
worn any time, even when gentlemen are present?" I explained to
her that it was the usual evening dress for ladies and was worn at
dinners, balls, receptions, etc. Her Majesty laughed and
exclaimed: "This is getting worse and worse. Everything seems to
go backwards in foreign countries. Here we don't even expose our
wrists when in the company of gentlemen, but foreigners seem to
have quite different ideas on the subject. The Emperor is always
talking about reform, but if this is a sample we had much better
remain as we are. Tell me, have you yet changed your opinion with
regard to foreign customs? Don't you think that our own customs
are much nicer?" Of course I was obliged to say "yes" seeing that
she herself was so prejudiced. She again examined the portrait and
said: "Why is it that one side of your face is painted white and
the other black? This is not natural--your face is not black. Half
of your neck is painted black, too. How is it?" I explained that
it was simply the shading and was painted exactly as the artist
saw me from the position in which she was sitting. Her Majesty
then enquired: "Do you think that this Artist lady will paint my
picture to look black also? It is going to America, and I don't
want the people over there to imagine that half of my face is
white and half black." I didn't like to tell her the truth, that
her portrait would in all probability be painted the same as mine,
so I promised Her Majesty that I would tell the artist exactly how
she wished to be painted. She then asked me if I knew when the
artist proposed commencing the portrait. I told her that the
artist was still in Shanghai, but that Mrs. Conger had already
written to her to come up to Peking, to make the necessary
preparations. One week later I received a letter from Miss Carl
informing me that she proposed coming up to Peking at once, and
that she would be delighted if Her Majesty would allow her to
paint this portrait. I translated the letter to Her Majesty, who
said: "I am very glad that you know this lady personally. It will
make it much easier for me. You know there may be some things
which I may want to tell Miss Carl, but which I don't want Mrs.
Conger to know. I mean that there might be certain things which I
shall have to say to Miss Carl, which, if Mrs. Conger heard of
them, would give her the impression that I was very difficult to
please. You understand what I mean. As this lady is a friend of
yours, you will of course be able to tell her things in such a
manner as not to offend her, and I may tell you again that if it
were not that she is a personal friend of your own I would not
have her here at all, as it is quite contrary to our custom."

On the third day of the second-fifth moon Prince Ching informed
Her Majesty that the artist had arrived at Peking and was staying
with Mrs. Conger and wished to know Her Majesty's pleasure in
regard to commencing the portrait. Now I must explain that the
Chinese year varies as to the number of moons it contains. For
example, one year contains the ordinary twelve months or moons.
The following year may contain thirteen moons. Then the two years
following that may contain twelve moons only, and thirteen moons
the next year, and so on. At the time of the proposed visit of the
artist the Chinese year contained thirteen moons, there being two
fifth moons in that year. When Prince Ching asked Her Majesty to
name the day on which Miss Carl should commence her work, she
replied: "I will give her my answer to-morrow. I must first
consult my book, as I don't want to start this portrait on an
unlucky day." So the next day, after her usual morning audience
Her Majesty consulted this book for quite a time. Finally she said
to me: "According to my book the next lucky day will not occur for
another ten days or so," and handed me the book to look myself.
Eventually she picked out the twentieth day of the second-fifth
moon as the most lucky day for beginning the work. Next she had to
consult the book again in order to fix on the exact hour, finally
fixing on 7 o'clock in the evening. I was very much worried when
she told me that, as by that time it would be quite dark, so I
explained to Her Majesty as nicely as I could that it would be
impossible for Miss Carl to work at that hour of the day. Her
Majesty replied: "Well, we have electric lights here. Surely that
would be sufficient light for her." Then I had to explain that it
would not be possible to get such good results by means of
artificial light as if it were painted during the daytime. You see
I was anxious to get her to change the hour, as I was sure that
Miss Carl would refuse to paint by means of electric light. Her
Majesty replied: "What a bother. I can paint pictures myself in
any kind of light, and she ought to be able to do the same." After
much discussion it was finally settled that 10 o'clock on the
morning of the twentieth day of the second-fifth moon should be
the time for Miss Carl to commence to paint this portrait, and I
can assure you that I felt very much relieved when it was all
settled. When the eunuch brought in my portrait, he also brought
in several photographs which I had had taken during my stay in
Paris, but I decided not to show them to Her Majesty in case she
should decide to have a photograph taken instead of having this
portrait painted, as it would be much quicker and save her the
trouble of sitting each day. However, as Her Majesty was passing
on the veranda in front of my bedroom the next morning she stepped
into the room just to have a look around and, as she put it, to
see whether I kept everything clean, and in good order. This was
the first time she had visited me in my own room, and I was
naturally very much embarrassed, as she very rarely visited the
rooms of her Court ladies. I could not keep her standing, and I
could not ask her to sit down in any of my own chairs, as it is
the Chinese custom that the Emperor and Empress should only sit
down in their own special chairs, which are usually carried by an
attendant wherever they go. I therefore was on the point of giving
an order for her own stool to be brought in, when Her Majesty
stopped me and said that she would sit on one of the chairs in the
room, and so bring me good luck. So she sat down in an easy chair.
A eunuch brought in her tea, which I handed to her myself instead
of letting the eunuch wait upon her. This of course was Court
etiquette, and was also a sign of respect

After she had finished her tea, she got up and went around the
room, examining everything, opening up all my bureau drawers and
boxes in order to see whether I kept my things in proper order.
Happening to glance into one corner of the room she exclaimed:
"What are those pictures on the table over there," and walked
across to examine them. As soon as she picked them up, she
exclaimed in much surprise: "Why, they are all photographs of
yourself, and are very much better than the picture you had
painted. They are more like you. Why didn't you show them to me
before?" I hardly knew what to answer, and when she saw that I was
very much embarrassed by her question, she immediately started
talking about something else. She often acted in this manner when
she saw that any of us were not quite prepared for any of her
questions, but she would be sure to reopen the subject at some
future time, when we were expected to give a direct answer.

After examining the photographs for sometime, which by the way,
were all taken in European dress, Her Majesty said: "Now these are
good photographs; much better than the portrait you had painted.
Still I have given my promise, and I suppose I shall have to keep
it. However, if I do have my photograph taken, it will not
interfere at all with the painting of the portrait. The only
trouble is I cannot ask an ordinary professional photographer to
the Palace. It would hardly be the thing."

My mother thereupon explained to Her Majesty that if she desired
to have her photograph taken, one of my brothers, who had studied
photography for some considerable time, would be able to do all
that was necessary.

I would like to explain that I had two brothers at Court at that
time, who held appointments under the Empress Dowager. One was in
charge of all the electrical installation at the Summer Palace,
and the other, her private steam launch. It was the custom for all
the sons of the Manchu officials to hold certain positions at the
Court for two or three years. They were perfectly free to walk
about the grounds of the Palace, and saw Her Majesty daily. Her
Majesty was always very kind to these young men, and chatted with
them in quite a motherly way. These young fellows had to come to
the Palace each morning very early, but as no man was allowed to
stay all night in the Palace they of course had to leave when they
had finished their duties for the day.

When Her Majesty heard what my mother said, she was very much
surprised, and asked why she had never been told that my brother
was learned in photography. My mother replied that she had no idea
that Her Majesty wished to have a photograph taken, and had not
dared to suggest such a thing herself. Her Majesty laughed, and
said: "You may suggest anything you like, as I want to try
anything that is new to me, especially as outsiders can know
nothing about it." She gave orders to send for my brother at once.
On his arrival Her Majesty said to him: "I hear that you are a
photographer. I am going to give you something to do." My brother
was kneeling, as was the custom of the Court, whilst Her Majesty
was addressing him. Everybody, with the exception of the Court
ladies, had to kneel when she was speaking to them. Even the
Emperor himself was no exception to this rule. Of course the Court
ladies, being constantly in attendance, were allowed not to kneel,
as Her Majesty was talking to us all the time, and it was her
orders that we should not do so, as it would be wasting a lot of

Her Majesty asked my brother when he would be able to come and
take her photograph, and what kind of weather was necessary. My
brother said that he would go back to Peking that night, to fetch
his camera, and that he could take the photograph at any time she
desired, as the weather would not affect the work. So Her Majesty
decided to have her photograph taken the next morning. She said:
"I want to have one taken first of all in my chair, when going to
the audience, and you can take some others afterwards." She also
asked my brother how long she would have to sit, and was surprised
to learn that only a few seconds would suffice. Next she enquired
how long it would be before it was finished, so that she could see
it. My brother answered that if it were taken in the morning it
could be finished late the same afternoon. Her Majesty said that
was delightful, and expressed a wish to watch him do the work. She
told my brother that he might select any room in the Palace to
work in, and ordered a eunuch to make the necessary preparations.

The next day was a beautiful day, and at eight o'clock my brother
was waiting in the courtyard with several cameras. Her Majesty
went to the courtyard and examined each of them. She said: "How
funny it is that you can take a person's picture with a thing like
that." After the method of taking the photograph had been fully
explained to her, she commanded one of the eunuchs to stand in
front of the camera so that she might look through the focusing
glass, to see what it was like. Her Majesty exclaimed: "Why is it
your head is upside down? Are you standing on your head or feet?"
So we explained when the photo was taken it would not look that
way. She was delighted with the result of her observations, and
said that it was marvellous. Finally she told me to go and stand
there, as she wanted to have a look at me through this glass also.
She then exchanged places with me, and desired that I should look
through the glass and see if I could make out what she was doing.
She waved her hand in front of the camera, and on my telling her
of it, she was pleased.

She then entered her chair, and ordered the bearers to proceed. My
brother took another photograph of Her Majesty in the procession
as she passed the camera. After she had passed the camera she
turned and asked my brother: "Did you take a picture?" and on my
brother answering that he had, Her Majesty said: "Why didn't you
tell me? I was looking too serious. Next time when you are going
to take one, let me know so that I may try and look pleasant."

I knew that Her Majesty was very much pleased. While we were at
the back of the screen during the audience, I noticed that she
seemed anxious to get it over, in order to have some more
photographs taken. It only took about twenty minutes to get that
particular audience over, which was very rare.

After the people had gone, we came from behind the screen and Her
Majesty said: "Let us go and have some more pictures taken while
the weather is fine." So she walked the courtyard of the Audience
Hall, where my brother had a camera ready, and had another
photograph taken. She said that she would like to have some taken
sitting on her throne, exactly as though she were holding an
audience. It took us only a few minutes to have everything
prepared in the courtyard. The screen was placed behind the
throne, and her footstool was also placed ready for her, and she
ordered one of the Court ladies to go and bring several gowns for
her to select from. At the same time I went and brought some of
her favorite jewelry. She ordered the two gowns which she had worn
at the audiences when she received Admiral Evans and Mrs. Evans,
to be brought in, and also the same jewels as she had worn on
those respective occasions. She had two photographs taken in these
costumes, one in each dress. Next she wanted one taken in a plain
gown, without any embroidery. She then ordered my brother to go
and finish the pictures which had already been taken, as she was
anxious to see what they were like. She said to my brother: "You
wait a minute, I want to go with you and see how you work on
them." Of course, I had not considered it necessary to explain to
Her Majesty the process of developing the pictures, the dark room,
etc., so I explained to her as well as I could the whole thing.
Her Majesty replied: "It doesn't matter. I want to go and see the
room, no matter what kind of a room it is." So we all adjourned to
the dark room in order to see my brother work on the photographs.
We placed a chair so that Her Majesty could sit down. She said to
my brother: "You must forget that I am here, and go along with
your work just as usual." She watched for a while, and was very
pleased when she saw that the plates were developing so quickly.
My brother held up the plate to the red light, to enable her to
see more distinctly. Her Majesty said: "It is not very clear. I
can see that it is myself all right, but why is it that my face
and hands are dark?" We explained to her that when the picture was
printed on paper, these dark spots would show white, and the white
parts would be dark. She said: "Well, one is never too old to
learn. This is something really new to me. I am not sorry that I
suggested having my photograph taken, and only hope that I shall
like the portrait painting as well." She said to my brother:
"Don't finish these photographs until after I have had my
afternoon rest. I want to see you do it." When she got up at about
half-past three, it did not take her long to dress herself, as was
her usual custom, and she went immediately to where my brother had
the papers and everything prepared. He then showed Her Majesty how
the printing was done. There was plenty of light, as it was summer
time, and as it was only four o'clock in the afternoon, the sun
was still high. Her Majesty watched for two hours while my brother
was printing, and was delighted to see each picture come out quite
plainly. She held the first one in her hands so long while
examining the others, that when she came to look at it again, she
found that it had turned quite black. She could not understand
this at all, and exclaimed: "Why has this gone black? Is it bad
luck?" We explained to her that it must be washed after printing,
otherwise a strong light would cause the picture to fade, as this
one had done. She said: "How very interesting, and what a lot of
work there is."

After the printing process had been finished, my brother placed
the pictures in a chemical bath, as usual, finally washing them in
clean water. This caused Her Majesty even more surprise when she
saw how clear the pictures came out, and caused her to exclaim:
"How extraordinary. Everything is quite true to life." When they
were finally completed, she took the whole of them to her own room
and sat down on her little throne, and gazed at them for a long
time. She even took her mirror in order to compare her reflection
with the photographs just taken.

All this time my brother was standing in the courtyard awaiting
Her Majesty's further commands. Suddenly she recollected this
fact, and said: "Why, I had forgotten all about your brother. The
poor fellow must be still standing waiting to know what I want
next. You go and tell him--no, I had better go and speak to him
myself. He has worked so hard all the day, that I want to say
something to make him feel happy." She ordered my brother to print
ten copies of each of the photographs, and to leave all his
cameras at the Palace, in order that he could proceed with the
work the next day.

The following ten days it rained continually, which made Her
Majesty very impatient, as it was impossible to take any more
photographs until the weather improved. Her Majesty wanted to have
some taken in the Throne Room, but this room was too dark, the
upper windows being pasted over with thick paper, only the lower
windows allowing the light to enter. My brother tried several
times, but failed to get a good picture.

During this rainy period the Court was moved to the Sea Palace, as
the Emperor was to sacrifice at the Temple of Earth. This was a
yearly ceremony and was carried out on similar lines to all other
annual ceremonies. On account of the rain Her Majesty ordered that
boats should be brought alongside the west shore of the Summer
Palace. On entering the boats, Her Majesty, accompanied by the
Court, proceeded to the Western Gate of the city, and on arrival
at the last bridge, disembarked. Chairs were awaiting us and we
rode to the gate of the Sea Palace. There we again entered the
boats and proceeded across the lake, a distance of about a mile.
While crossing the lake Her Majesty noticed a lot of lotus plants
which were in full bloom. She said: "We are going to stay at least
three days here. I hope the weather will be fine, as I should like
to have some photographs taken in the open boats on the lake. I
have also another; good idea, and that is, I want to have one
taken as `Kuan Yin' (Goddess of Mersy). The two chief eunuchs will
be dressed as attendants. The necessary gowns were made some time
ago, and I occasionally put them on. Whenever I have been angry,
or worried over anything, by dressing up as the Goddess of Mercy
it helps me to calm myself, and so play the part I represent. I
can assure you that it does help me a great deal, as it makes me
remember that I am looked upon as being all-merciful. By having a
photograph taken of myself dressed in this costume, I shall be
able to see myself as I ought to be at all times."

When we arrived at the private Palace the rain ceased. We walked
to her bedroom, although the ground was still in bad condition.
One of Her Majesty's peculiarities was a desire to go out in the
rain and walk about. She would not even use an umbrella unless it
was raining very heavily. The eunuchs always carried our
umbrellas, but if Her Majesty did not use her umbrella, of course
we could not very well use ours. The same thing applied in
everything. If Her Majesty wanted to walk, we had to walk also,
and if she decided to ride in her chair, we had to get into our
chairs and ride as well. The only exception to this rule was when
Her Majesty, being tired walking, ordered her stool to rest on. We
were not allowed to sit in her presence, but had to stand all the
time. Her Majesty liked her Sea Palace better than her Palace in
the Forbidden City. It was far prettier, and had the effect of
making her good tempered.

Her Majesty ordered us to retire early that day, as we were all
very tired after the trip, and said that in the event of it being
fine the next day, she would have the proposed photographs taken.
However, much to Her Majesty's disappointment, it rained
incessantly for the next three days, so it was decided to stay a
few days longer. On the last day of our stay it cleared up
sufficiently to enable the photographs to be taken, after which we
all returned to the Summer Palace.

The day after our arrival at the Summer Palace Her Majesty said
that we had better prepare everything for the audience to receive
the lady artist (Miss Carl). She told the chief eunuch to issue
orders to all the other eunuchs not to speak to Miss Carl, but
simply be polite as occasion required. We Court ladies received
similar orders. Also, that we were not to address Her Majesty
while Miss Carl was present. The Emperor received similar
instructions. Her Majesty gave orders to have the Gardens of
Prince Chung's Palace ready. She then said to us: "I trust you
three to look after this lady artist. I have already given orders
for food to be supplied by the Wai Wu Pu. The only thing that I
have been worried about is that I have no foreign food here for
Miss Carl." She ordered us to have our stove taken over to Prince
Chung's Palace in case Miss Carl desired something cooked. She
said: "I know it will be very hard for you to take her to the
Palace each morning and return with her at night, besides having
to watch her all day long, but I know you do not mind. You are
doing all this for me." After a while she smiled, and said: "How
selfish of me. I order you to bring all your things to this place,
but what is your father going to do? The best thing will be to ask
your father to come and live in the same place. The country air
might benefit him." We kowtowed and thanked Her Majesty, as this
was a special favor, no official nor anyone else having been
allowed to live in Prince Chung's Palace previously. We all were
very pleased--I could now see my father every day. Hitherto we had
only been able to see him about once a month, and then only by
asking special leave.

The next day Her Majesty sent us to Prince Chung's Palace to make
all necessary arrangements for Miss Carl's stay.

This Palace of Prince Chung's was a magnificent place. All the
smaller dwellings were quite separate from each other, not in one
large building, as was the custom. There was a small lake in the
grounds, and lovely little paths to walk along, exactly like the
Empress Dowager's Summer Palace, but, of course, on a much smaller
scale. We selected one of these small dwellings, or summer houses,
for the use of Miss Carl during her stay, and had it fitted up
nicely, to make her as comfortable as possible. We ourselves were
to occupy the next house to Miss Carl, in order that we might
always be on hand, and at the same time keep a good eye on her. We
returned to the Summer Palace the same evening, and told Her
Majesty just how everything had been arranged. She said: "I want
you all to be very careful not to let this lady know that you are
watching her." She seemed very anxious about this, repeating these
instructions for several days prior to Miss Carl's arrival.

I felt very much relieved when the day before the audience
arrived, and everything was finally fixed to Her Majesty's
satisfaction. She ordered us to retire early that evening, as she
wanted to rest and look well the next morning. When morning came
we hurried over everything, even the usual morning audience, so
that we could be ready when Miss Carl arrived.

While I was standing behind the screen, as usual, a eunuch came
and told me that Mrs. Conger, the artist, and another lady had
arrived, and that they were now in the waiting room. By that time
the audience was about finished. The chief eunuch came in and told
Her Majesty that the foreign ladies had arrived and were waiting
in another room. Her Majesty said to us: "I think I will go to the
courtyard and meet them there." Of course, at all private
audiences Her Majesty received the people in the Throne Room, but
as Miss Carl was more of a guest, she did not think it necessary
to go through the usual formal reception.

While we were descending the steps we saw the ladies entering the
gate of the courtyard. I pointed out Miss Carl to Her Majesty, and
noticed that she eyed Miss Carl very keenly. When we arrived in
the courtyard, Mrs. Conger came forward and greeted Her Majesty
and then presented Miss Carl. Her Majesty's first impression of
Miss Carl was a good one, as Miss Carl was smiling very
pleasantly, and Her Majesty, who always liked to see a pleasant
smile, exclaimed to me in an undertone: "She seems to be a very
pleasant person," to which I replied that I was very glad she
thought so, as I was very anxious about the impression Miss Carl
would make on Her Majesty. Her Majesty watched Miss Carl and
myself as we greeted each other, and I could see that she was
satisfied. She told me afterwards that she had noticed Miss Carl
appeared very glad to see me again, and said: "We will handle her
pretty easily, I think." Her Majesty then went to her own private
Palace, and we all followed. On our arrival, Miss Carl told me
that she had brought her own canvas. This was a piece about six
feet by four feet. I had told Miss Carl a little previously that
Her Majesty refused to sit for a very small portrait and that she
would like a life-size one. When Her Majesty saw the canvas she
appeared to be very much disappointed, as in her opinion even that
was not large enough. We placed the tables ready for Miss Carl,
and Her Majesty asked her to choose the position in which she
wished to paint. I knew that Miss Carl would have great difficulty
in choosing a good position on account of the windows being built
so low, there being very little light except low down near the
ground. However, Miss Carl finally placed the canvas near the door
of the room. Her Majesty told Mrs. Conger and the rest to sit down
for a while as she wanted to change into another gown. I followed
her into her bedroom. The first question Her Majesty asked was how
old I thought Miss Carl was, as she herself could not guess her
age, her hair being extremely light, in fact almost white. I could
hardly refrain from laughing outright on hearing this, and told
Her Majesty that Miss Carl's hair was naturally of a light color.
Her Majesty said that she had often seen ladies with golden hair,
but never one with white hair, excepting old ladies. She said: "I
think that she is very nice, however, and hope she will paint a
good portrait."

Turning to one of the Court ladies, she ordered her to fetch a
yellow gown as although, as she put it, she did not like yellow,
she thought it would be the best color for a portrait. She
selected one from a number which the Court lady brought,
embroidered all over with purple wisteria. Her shoes and
handkerchiefs matched. She also wore a blue silk scarf,
embroidered with the character "Shou" (long life). Each character
had a pearl in the center. She wore a pair of jade bracelets and
also jade nail protectors. In addition she wore jade butterflies
and a tassel on one side of her headdress, and, as usual, fresh
flowers on the other side. Her Majesty certainly did look
beautiful on that occasion.

By the time she came out from her room Miss Carl had everything
prepared. When she saw how Her Majesty was dressed, she exclaimed:
"How beautiful Her Majesty looks in this dress," which remark I
interpreted to Her Majesty, and it pleased her very much.

She seated herself on her throne, ready to pose for the picture.
She just sat down in an ordinary easy position, placing one hand
on a cushion. Miss Carl explained: "That is an excellent position,
as it is so natural. Please do not move." I told Her Majesty what
Miss Carl said, and she asked me whether she looked all right, or
not. If not, she would change her position. I assured her that she
looked very grand in that position. However, she asked the opinion
of the Young Empress and some of the Court ladies, who all agreed
that she could not look better. I could see that they never looked
at Her Majesty at all, they were too much interested in what Miss
Carl was doing.

When Miss Carl commenced to make the rough sketch of Her Majesty
everyone watched with open mouth, as they had never seen anything
done so easily and so naturally. The Young Empress whispered to
me: "Although I don't know anything about portrait painting, still
I can see that she is a good artist. She has never seen any of our
clothes and headdresses, and she has copied them exactly. Just
imagine one of our Chinese artists trying to paint a foreign lady,
what a mess he would make of it."

After the sketch was finished Her Majesty was delighted and
thought it was wonderful for Miss Carl to have made it so quickly
and so accurately. I explained that this was a rough sketch and
that when Miss Carl commenced painting, she would soon see the
difference. Her Majesty told me to ask Miss Carl whether she was
tired and would like to rest; also to tell her that she was very
busy all the day, and would only be able to give her a few
minutes' sitting each day. We then took Miss Carl to luncheon,
together with Mrs. Conger, and after luncheon we accompanied Her
Majesty to the theatre.

After Mrs. Conger had departed I took Miss Carl to my room to
rest. As soon as we arrived there, Her Majesty sent a eunuch to
call me to her bedroom. Her Majesty said: "I don't want this lady
to paint during my afternoon rest. She can rest at the same time.
As soon as I am up you can bring her here to paint. I am glad that
it looks like turning out better than I had anticipated." I
therefore told Miss Carl Her Majesty's wishes in this respect and
that she could paint for a little while, if she chose to, after
Her Majesty had had her rest. Miss Carl was so interested in Her
Majesty, she told me she didn't want to rest at all, but that she
would like to go on with the painting right away. Of course, I did
not like to tell her anything the first day, as it might upset
her, and did not say that this was a command from Her Majesty.
After a lot of maneuvering I got her to give up the idea of
continuing straight off, without offending her. I took her out on
the veranda as the eunuch was preparing the table for Her
Majesty's dinner in the room we were then occupying. The Young
Empress kept Miss Carl busy talking, I acting as interpreter. Soon
one of the eunuchs came and informed us that Her Majesty had
finished dinner, and would we please come and take ours. On
entering the room I was very much surprised to see that chairs had
been placed there, as this had never been done previously,
everybody, with the exception of Her Majesty, taking their meals
standing. The Young Empress was also very much surprised and asked
me whether I knew anything about it. I said that perhaps it was on
account of Miss Carl being there. The Young Empress told me to go
over and ask Her Majesty, as she was afraid to sit down without
receiving orders to do so. Her Majesty whispered to me: "I don't
want Miss Carl to think we are barbarians, and treat the Young
Empress and the Court ladies in that manner. Of course, she does
not understand our Court etiquette and might form a wrong
impression, so you can all sit down without coming over to thank
me, but be natural, as though you were accustomed to sitting down
to dinner every day."

After Her Majesty had washed her hands she came over to our table.
Of course we all stood up. Her Majesty told me to ask Miss Carl
whether she liked the food, and was pleased when Miss Carl
answered that she liked the food better than her own kind. That
relieved Her Majesty.

After dinner was over I told Miss Carl to say good-bye to Her
Majesty. We courtesied to her, also to the Young Empress, and said
good night to the Court ladies. We then took Miss Carl to the
Palace of Prince Chung. It took us about ten minutes' ride in the
carts. We showed Miss Carl her bedroom, and were pleased to leave
her and get to our own rooms, for a good night's rest.

The next morning we took Miss Carl to the Palace, and arrived
there during the morning audience. Of course Miss Carl, being a
foreigner, could not enter the Throne Room, so we sat down on the
back veranda of the Audience Hall and waited until it was over.
This, of course, prevented my being in attendance each morning, as
usual, and was a great disappointment to me, as I was unable to
keep in touch with what was taking place. Moreover, during the
time I had been at Court, my one object had been to endeavor to
interest Her Majesty in Western customs and civilization. I
believed that to a great extent Her Majesty was becoming
interested in these things, and would refer the subjects of our
conversations to her Ministers, for their opinions. For instance,
I had shown her photographs taken of a Naval Review at which I was
present in France. Her Majesty seemed to be impressed, and said
that she would certainly like to be able to make a similar display
in China. This matter she consulted with her Ministers, but they
gave the usual evasive answer, viz.: "There is plenty of time for
that." From this you will see that Her Majesty was not able to
introduce reforms entirely alone, even though she might desire to
do so, but had to consult the Ministers, who would always agree
with Her Majesty, but would suggest that the matter be put off for
a time.

My experience while at the Palace was that everybody seemed to be
afraid to suggest anything new for fear they might get themselves
into trouble.

When Her Majesty came out from the Audience Hall, Miss Carl went
up to her and kissed Her Majesty's hand, which caused her great
surprise, although she did not show it at the time. Afterwards,
however, when we were alone, she asked me why Miss Carl had done
this, as it was not a Chinese custom. She naturally thought that
it must be a foreign custom, and therefore said nothing about it.

Her Majesty then proceeded on foot to her own Palace, to change
her dress for the portrait. It was a beautiful morning, and when
she had posed for about ten minutes, she told me that she felt too
tired to proceed, and asked if it would be all right to ask Miss
Carl to postpone it. I explained that as Miss Carl was going to be
at the Palace for some time, the postponement of one day's sitting
would not make much difference at that time, although I knew that
Miss Carl would naturally be disappointed. Still, I had to humor
Her Majesty as much as possible, otherwise she might have thrown
up the whole thing. Miss Carl said that if Her Majesty wished to
go to rest, she could be working painting the screen and the
throne, and Her Majesty could pose again later on if she felt like
it. This pleased Her Majesty, and she said that she would try to
sit again after taking her afternoon's rest. Her Majesty ordered
me to give Miss Carl her lunch in my own room at twelve o'clock
each day, my mother, my sister and myself keeping her company.
Dinner at the Palace was usually taken about six o'clock, and it
was arranged that Miss Carl should take dinner with the Young
Empress and the Court ladies at that hour, after Her Majesty had
finished dining. Her Majesty also ordered that champagne or any
other wine which Miss Carl preferred, should be served, as she
said she knew it was the custom for all foreign ladies to take
wine with their meals. Where she got hold of this idea, nobody
knew. I was sure that Her Majesty had been misinformed by
somebody, but it would have been bad policy to have tried to tell
her different at the moment. She disliked very much to be told
that she was wrong in any of these things, and it could only be
done by waiting and casually introducing the subject at some other

After Miss Carl had gone to rest during the afternoon, Her Majesty
sent for me and asked the usual question, viz.: What had Miss Carl
been saying? etc., etc. She seemed particularly anxious to know
what Miss Carl thought of her, and when I told her that Miss Carl
had said that she was very beautiful and quite young looking, she
said: "Oh! well, of course Miss Carl would say that to you."
However, on my assuring her that Miss Carl had given this opinion
without being asked for it, she showed very plainly that she was
not at all displeased with the compliment.

Suddenly Her Majesty said: "I have been thinking that if Miss Carl
can paint the screen and the throne, surely she ought to be able
to paint my clothes and jewels, without it being necessary for me
to pose all the time." I told her that would be quite impossible,
as nobody could hold the things for Miss Carl to get the proper
effect. To my surprise she answered: "Well, that is easily gotten
over. You wear them in my place." I hardly knew what to say, but
thought I would get out of the difficulty by telling her that
perhaps Miss Carl would not like such an arrangement. Her Majesty,
however, could see no possible objection on Miss Carl's part, as
she herself could pose when the time came for painting her face.
So I put the matter as nicely as possible to Miss Carl, and it was
finally arranged that I should dress in Her Majesty's robes and
jewels whenever Her Majesty felt too tired to do the posing
herself. In this manner the portrait of the Empress Dowager was
painted, and with the exception of just a few hours to enable Miss
Carl to get Her Majesty's facial expression, I had to sit for two
hours each morning, and for another two hours each afternoon until
the portrait was finished.



MY father's four months' leave having expired, he was received in
audience by their Majesties on the first day of the sixth moon. He
was much improved in health, but his rheumatism was still very
troublesome. This was particularly noticeable when climbing the
steps to the Audience Hall, and Her Majesty ordered two of the
eunuchs to assist him.

First he thanked Her Majesty for her kindness towards my sister
and myself, and, as was the custom, took off his hat and knelt
down, bowing his head until it struck the ground. This ceremony
was always gone through by any official who had received special
favors from Their Majesties.

He then replaced his hat on his head and remained kneeling before
the throne. Her Majesty then questioned him about his life in
Paris, from time to time complimenting him on his work. Seeing
that remaining in this kneeling position appeared to be making him
tired, Her Majesty ordered one of the eunuchs to bring a cushion
for him to use, which was another great honor, as this cushion was
only used by the President of the Grand Council.

Her Majesty told him that as he was now getting to be a very old
man, she did not intend sending him away from China again, as she
wanted to keep my sister and myself at the Court, which she could
not do if she sent him to some foreign country, as he would want
to take his daughters with him. She said she was pleased, that
although we had been away from China for such a long time, we were
well acquainted with the Manchu customs. My father replied that it
had been his care that we should be brought up according to the
customs of our own country.

Her Majesty when asked the Emperor if he had anything to say, and
he replied by asking my father if he spoke French, and thought it
very strange on learning that he did not. My father explained that
he had never had the time to study it, besides which he considered
himself too old to learn a foreign language.

The Emperor next asked what was the feeling in France towards
China. My father replied that they were very friendly at that
time, but that immediately after the Boxer trouble the post of
Minister had been a very embarrassing one. Her Majesty said that
it had been an unfortunate affair, but she was glad that
everything was now settled satisfactorily. She told my father that
he was to get well again as quickly as possible, and the audience
came to an end.

Afterwards Her Majesty said that my father was looking very old
since his return from France and that he would have to be careful
and take things easy until he got stronger again. She was pleased
that he had shown appreciation of her interest in my sister and

Preparations were now commenced for celebrating the birthday of
His Majesty, the Emperor Kwang Hsu, which was to take place on the
28th of that month. The actual date of the Emperor's birthday was
the 26th of the sixth moon, but this day, being the anniversary of
the death of a previous Emperor of China, we were unable to hold
any festivities, and so it was always celebrated on the 28th day
instead. The official celebration lasted for seven days, three
days before and four days after the actual date. During that time
the whole of the Court dressed in official robes, and no business
of any kind whatever was attended to. This being the Emperor's
32nd birthday, and as the full celebrations only took place every
tenth year, i. e. On his 20th birthday, his 30th birthday, and so
on, the festivities were not carried out on a very grand scale.
However, it was quite sufficient to interfere with all business,
and the usual morning audiences did not take place during these
seven days. The Empress Dowager herself was the only person who
did not dress especially during these celebrations, and who did
not take any active part in the festivities. Another reason why
the celebrations were not carried out on a very large scale was
the fact that the Empress Dowager, being alive, she took
precedence, according to the Manchu custom, over the Emperor
himself, in fact she was the actual ruler of the country, the
Emperor being second. The Emperor was quite aware of this fact,
and when the Empress commanded that preparations be commenced for
the celebrations, the Emperor would always suggest that it was not
at all necessary to celebrate the occasion unless it happened to
be a tenth year, and would very reluctantly agree to the
festivities taking place. Of course this was more out of
politeness on the part of the Emperor and to conform to the
recognized etiquette, but the nation recognized this birthday and
naturally celebrated according to the usual custom. During this
period, therefore, the painting of the portrait was postponed.

When the morning of the 25th arrived, the Emperor dressed himself
in his official robe-yellow gown, embroidered with gold dragons
and coat of a reddish black color. Of course, being the Emperor,
in place of the usual button on the hat he wore a large pearl. I
might mention that the Emperor was the only person who could wear
this particular pearl in place of a button. He came as usual to
wish Her Majesty Chi Hsiang and then proceeded to the temple to
worship before the ancestral tablets. After this ceremony was over
he returned to the Empress Dowager and kowtowed to her. All the
Chinese adopt this rule of kowtowing to their parents on their own
birthdays, as a sign of reverence and respect. The Emperor next
proceeded to the Audience Hall, where all the Ministers were
assembled, and received their salutations and congratulations.
This ceremony very often caused amusement, for to see several
hundred people all bobbing their heads up and down, especially
when they did not all manage to do it together, was a very funny
sight. Even the Emperor himself had to laugh, it was such an
extraordinary spectacle.

The musical instruments which were used during the ceremony
deserve a little description. The principal instrument is made of
hard wood, and has a flat bottom about three feet in diameter,
with a dome-shaped top raised about three feet from the ground.
The inside is quite hollow. A long pole made of the same material
is used as a drumstick, and an official, specially appointed,
beats with all his might on the drum. The noise can be better
imagined than described. This is used as a signal to announce when
the Emperor takes his seat upon the throne. In addition to the
above, a full sized model of a tiger, also made of similar hard
wood, and having twenty-four scales on its back, is brought into
the courtyard. In this case they did not beat the instrument, but
scraped along its back over the scales, which emitted a noise
similar to the letting off simultaneously of innumerable crackers.
This noise was kept up during the whole of the ceremony, and what
with the drum and this tiger instrument it was sufficient to
deafen one. During the ceremony, an official crier used to call
out the different orders, such as when to kneel, bow, stand up,
kowtow, etc., etc., but with the noise it was quite impossible to
hear a single word of what he uttered. Another instrument was
composed of a frame made of wood, about eight feet high by three
feet broad. Across this frame were three wooden bars, from which
was suspended twelve bells, made out of pure gold. When these were
struck with a wooden stick the sound was not at all unlike the
dulcimer, only, of course, very much louder. This was placed on
the right side of the Audience Hall. On the left side a similar
instrument was placed, with the exception that the bells were
carved out of white jade. The music which could be brought out of
the instrument was very sweet.

When this ceremony of receiving the Ministers was concluded, the
Emperor proceeded to his private Palace, where the Young Empress
(his wife), the Secondary wife and all the Court ladies were
gathered, and, after kowtowing, all of the Court ladies present,
led by the Young Empress, knelt before him and presented him with
a Ru Yee. This is a kind of sceptre. Some are made out of pure
jade, while others are made out of wood inlaid with jade. This Ru
Yee is a symbol of good luck and was supposed to bring happiness
and prosperity to the person to whom it was presented. The
ceremony was gone through to the accompaniment of music played on
string instruments, which was very sweet.

Next the eunuchs were received by the Emperor, and they similarly
congratulated him, but without the accompaniment of music. After
the eunuchs came the servant girls, and the whole of the ceremony
was over. The Emperor next proceeded to Her Majesty's Palace,
where he knelt before Her Majesty and thanked her for the
celebration which had been given in his honor, after which Her
Majesty, accompanied by the whole Court, went to the theatre to
see the play. On arrival at the theatre we were all presented by
Her Majesty with sweetmeats, this being the custom on these
occasions, and after a little while Her Majesty retired for her
afternoon rest. Thus the celebration ended.

Two days after the celebration the seventh moon commenced. The
seventh day of the seventh moon was the occasion of another
important anniversary.

The two stars, Niu Lang (Capricorn) and Chih Nu (Lyra) are
supposed to be the patrons of agriculture and weaving and,
according to tradition, were at one time man and wife. As the
result of a quarrel, however, they were doomed to live apart,
being separated from each other by the "Milky Way." But on the
seventh day of the seventh moon of each year they are allowed to
see each other and the magpies are supposed to build a bridge to
enable them to meet.

The ceremony is rather peculiar. Several basins full of water were
placed so that the sun's rays would fall upon them. Her Majesty
then took several tiny needles and dropped one into each basin.
These floated on the water, casting a shadow across the bottom of
the basins. These shadows took different forms, according to the
position of the needle, and if the shadow took certain prescribed
forms, the person throwing in the needle was supposed to be very
lucky and clever, while if they represented certain other forms,
they were despised by the gods as being ignorant. In addition, Her
Majesty burned incense and offered up prayers to the two gods
referred to.

This was always a sad moon for Her Majesty, it being the
anniversary of the death of her husband, the Emperor Hsien Feng,
who died on the 17th of that month. The fifteenth of the seventh
moon each year is the day of the festival for the dead, and early
in the morning the Court moved to the Sea Palace in order to
sacrifice. The Chinese hold that when a person dies, his soul
still remains on the earth, and on these anniversaries they burn
imitation money, the belief being that the soul of the departed
one will benefit to the extent of the amount of money so
represented. On the anniversary above referred to Her Majesty sent
for hundreds of Buddhist priests to pray for those unfortunate
people who had died without leaving anyone who could sacrifice for
them. On the evening of this day, Her Majesty and all her Court
ladies set out in open boats on the lake, where imitation lotus
flowers were arranged as lanterns, with a candle placed in the
centre, which formed a sort of floating light, the idea being to
give light to the spirits of those who had departed during the
year, so as to enable them to come and receive the blessings which
had been prepared for them. Her Majesty ordered us to light the
candles and place the flowers on the water ourselves, as she said
it would be appreciated by the spirits of the dead. Some of the
eunuchs had told Her Majesty that they had actually seen some of
these spirits, which assertion was thoroughly believed. Although
she had never seen them herself, she accounted for this by the
fact that she was of too high a rank and the spirits were afraid
of her, but she ordered all the rest of us to keep a sharp lookout
and tell her if we saw anything. Of course we didn't see anything,
but many of the Court ladies were so frightened that they closed
their eyes for fear they might see something supernatural.

Her Majesty was devoted to the late Emperor Hsien Feng, and she
was very sad and morose during this period. We all had to be very
careful indeed not to upset her in any way, as she would find
fault on the slightest provocation. She hardly had a word to say
to any of us, and cried almost incessantly. I could hardly
understand the reason for such grief, seeing that the Emperor had
died so many years previously. None of the Court ladies were
allowed to dress in light-coloured gowns during the whole of the
seventh moon. We all dressed either in dark blue or pale blue,
while Her Majesty herself dressed in black every day without
exception. Even her handkerchiefs were black. The theatres which
were usually opened on the first and fifteenth of each month, were
closed during the seventh moon. There was no music, and everything
was conducted in the most solemn manner; in fact, the whole Court
was in deep mourning.

On the morning of the seventeenth day of the seventh moon, Her
Majesty visited the late Emperor's tablet, and knelt there crying
for quite a while. In order to show respect for the late Emperor,
none of us were allowed to eat meat for three days. This being my
first year at the Palace, it appeared to me very strange, after
the customary gaiety and noise. Of course I felt very sorry for
Her Majesty, as I could see that it was a genuine display of grief
and was not in any way put on. As I was her favorite at that time,
she kept me close to her side during this sad period. The Young
Empress said to me one day: "Her Majesty is very much attached to
you, and I think you had better stay with her for the time being."
This I did, and I was so miserable myself that when Her Majesty
commenced crying I would cry also. When she saw that I was crying,
Her Majesty would immediately stop and ask me not to cry. She
would tell me that I was too young to cry, and that in any case I
did not know what real sorrow was as yet. During the conversations
we had at that time she would tell me quite a lot about herself.
On one occasion she said: "You know I have had a very hard life
ever since I was a young girl. I was not a bit happy when with my
parents, as I was not the favorite. My sisters had everything they
wanted, while I was, to a great extent, ignored altogether. When I
first came to the Court, a lot of the people were jealous of me
because I was considered to be a beautiful woman at that time. I
must say myself that I was a clever one, for I fought my own
battles, and won them, too. When I arrived at Court the late
Emperor became very much attached to me and would hardly glance at
any of the other ladies. Fortunately, I was lucky in giving birth
to a son, as it made me the Emperor's undisputed favorite; but
after that I had very bad luck. During the last year of his reign
the Emperor was seized with a sudden illness. In addition to this
the foreign soldiers burnt down the Palace at Yuen Ming Yuen, so
we fled to Jehol. Of course everybody knows what took place at
that time. I was still a young woman, with a dying husband and a
young son. The East Empress Dowager's nephew was a bad man, who
coveted the throne, which he had no right to in any event, as he
was not of royal blood. I would not wish anyone to experience what
I myself passed through at that time. When the Emperor was in a
dying condition, being practically unconscious of what was taking
place around him, I took my son to his bedside and asked him what
was going to be done about his successor to the throne. He made no
reply to this, but, as has always been the case in emergencies, I
was equal to the occasion, and I said to him: `Here is your son,'
on hearing which he immediately opened his eyes and said: `Of
course he will succeed to the throne.' I naturally felt relieved
when this was settled once and for all. These words were
practically the last he spoke, for he died immediately afterwards.
Although it is now so many years ago, I can see him now in that
dying condition, just as though it all happened only yesterday.

"I thought that I could be happy with my son as the Emperor Tung
Chi, but unfortunately he died before he was twenty years of age.
Since that time I have been a changed woman, as all happiness was
over as far as I was concerned when he died. I had also quite a
lot of trouble with the East Empress Dowager and found it very
difficult to keep on good terms with her. However, she died five
years after the death of my son. In addition to all this, when the
Emperor Kwang Hsu was brought to me as a baby three years old, he
was a very sickly child, and could hardly walk, he was so thin and
weak. His parents seemed to be afraid of giving him anything to
eat. You know his father was Prince Chung, and his mother was my
sister, so of course he was almost the same as my own son, in fact
I adopted him as such. Even now, after all my trouble on his
account, he is not in perfect health. As you know, I have had
plenty of other troubles beside these, but it is useless to
mention them now. I am disappointed with everything, as nothing
has turned out as I had expected." With this remark Her Majesty
commenced crying afresh. Continuing, she said: "People seem to
think that just because I am the Empress Dowager that I am bound
to be happy, but what I have just told you is not all. I have gone
through much more than that. If ever anything went wrong, I was
always the one who was blamed. The censors even dare to impeach me
once in a while. However, I am philosopher enough to take things
for what they are worth, otherwise I would have been in my own
grave long, long ago. Just imagine how small minded these people
are. Amongst other things they objected to my transferring my
Court to the Summer Palace during the hot weather, although I
could do no harm by being there. Even in the short time you have
spent at Court, you can see that I am unable to decide anything
alone, while whenever they want anything they consult with each
other and then present their petition to me, which, unless it is
something of a very serious nature, I never think of refusing."

After the time set apart for mourning had expired, we all went
back to the Summer Palace, where Miss Carl re-commenced her work
on Her Majesty's portrait. Her Majesty apparently soon got tired
of this portrait painting, for one day she asked me when I thought
it would be finished. She was afraid that it would not be finished
by the time the cold weather came on, when we always removed the
Court to the Forbidden City, and she said it would be a lot of
trouble and inconvenience to have to continue the portrait there.
I told Her Majesty that it could easily be arranged and that she
need not worry herself.

After I had been posing in Her Majesty's place for several days
Her Majesty asked me whether Miss Carl had said anything about it,
and if she did, I was to inform her that it was a command from Her
Majesty, and that I dare not make any further suggestions in that
respect. So we had no further trouble with Miss Carl after that. I
had, however, quite a lot of trouble with the eunuchs, who, in
spite of Her Majesty's instructions, were anything but polite to
Miss Carl. Of course Miss Carl herself did not know this. I tried
to make them behave better by threatening to tell Her Majesty
about them, which had a good effect for a while, but they were
soon as bad as ever.

At the commencement of the eighth moon, Her Majesty always
attended to the transplanting of her chrysanthemums, which was one
of her favorite flowers, so each day she would take us with her to
the west side of the lake and, assisted by us, would cut the tops
of the young plants and set them in flower pots. I was very much
surprised at this, as there were no roots, only the stems of the
flowers, but Her Majesty assured me that they would soon grow into
very pretty plants. Every day we went over to water these flowers
until they began to bud. In case it rained heavily, Her Majesty
would order some of the eunuchs to go over and cover up these
chrysanthemum plants with mats, so that they would not be broken.
It was characteristic of Her Majesty that, no matter what other
business she had to attend to, her flowers had her first
consideration and she would, if necessary, even go without her
usual rest in order to superintend them personally. She also spent
quite a time in looking after her orchard, where she had planted
apple trees, pear trees, etc. Another thing which I began to
notice was that when the spring and summer days had passed, she
got quite irritable and sad, while in the winter she was simply
unbearable. She loathed cold weather.

One day, during the eighth moon, Her Majesty was taken slightly
ill, and complained of suffering from severe headaches. This was
the only time I ever saw Her Majesty actually sick. She, however,
got up as usual in the morning, and held audience, but was unable
to take her luncheon, and very soon had to retire to her bed.
Several doctors were summoned, each of whom took her pulse. This
was quite a ceremony in itself. The doctors knelt at the bedside,
and Her Majesty stretched forth her arm, resting her hand upon a
small pillow which was provided for that purpose. After this each
doctor wrote out his prescription, all of which were different
from each other. We handed them to Her Majesty, who chose the one
which she thought was the nicest to take, and two attendants and
the doctor himself had to take a dose in her presence before she
would touch it. Then she would take it all right.

During this time it rained a great deal and was very hot. The
climate at this time of the year is very damp, which causes the
flies to make their appearance in millions. If there was one thing
more than another that Her Majesty detested it was these flies.
During the actual summer they were not so troublesome as at this
particular time. Of course every precaution was taken to keep them
away, a eunuch being posted at each door, provided with sort of a
switch made of horse hair fastened at the end of a bamboo pole. We
were never troubled by mosquitoes, however; in fact I never saw a
mosquito curtain in the Palace during the whole of my stay there.
These flies were an abomination, and in spite of all that could be
done a few would find their way into the rooms. Whenever they
alighted on Her Majesty she would scream, while if by any chance
one were to alight on her food she would order the whole lot to be
thrown away. This would spoil her appetite for the whole day and
put her into a terrible temper as well. Whenever she saw one
anywhere near her, she would order whoever happened to be present
to go and catch it. I myself often received this order, but I
detested them almost as much as Her Majesty did, they were so
dirty, and stuck to one's hands whenever they touched them.

After her illness Her Majesty was indisposed more or less for
quite a long time, and doctors were constantly in attendance. She
took so many different kinds of medicine that instead of getting
better she got worse and eventually contracted a fever. Her
Majesty was very much afraid of fevers of any kind and we had to
stay with her all night and all day and had to take our meals
whenever we could get away from her bedside for a few minutes.
Another peculiarity was Her Majesty's aversion for any kind of
perfume near her when she was sick, while when she was feeling
well she was simply smothered in it. The same applied to fresh
flowers; in spite of her love for them under ordinary conditions,
when she was sick she could not bear them anywhere near. Her
nerves became absolutely unstrung, as she was unable to sleep
during the day, and consequently the time passed very slowly to
her. In order to make the time pass a little less tediously, she
gave instructions for one of the better educated eunuchs to read
to her during the daytime. This reading generally consisted of
ancient Chinese history, poetry and all kinds of Chinese lore, and
while the eunuch was reading to her we had to stand by her
bedside, one of us being told off to massage her legs, which
seemed to soothe her somewhat. This same program was gone through
every day until she was completely herself again--some ten days

One day Her Majesty asked me: "What kind of medicine does a
foreign doctor usually give in case of a fever? I have heard that
they make you take all kinds of pills. This must be very
dangerous, as you never know what they are made of. Here in China
all medicines are made from roots, and I can always find out
whether I am receiving the right medicine, as I have a book which
explains what each different medicine is for. Another thing I have
heard is that foreign doctors generally operate on you with a
knife, while we cure the same sickness by means of our medicine.
Li Lien Ying told me that one of our little eunuchs had a boil on
his wrist and someone advised him to go to the hospital. Of course
they didn't know what they would do, and the foreign doctor there
opened the boil with a knife, which frightened the child very
much. I was very much surprised when I heard he was all right
again in a couple of days." Continuing, Her Majesty said: "A year
ago one of the foreign ladies came to the Palace, and hearing me
cough a lot, gave me some black pills and told me to swallow them.
I did not like to offend her, so I took the pills and told her I
would take them by and bye. However, I was afraid to take them and
threw them away." Of course I answered that I didn't know much
about medicines, to which she replied that she had seen me take
foreign medicines whenever I was not feeling well. She then said:
"Of course I know there are people in Peking who do take the
medicines given them by foreign doctors and even some of my own
relatives patronize these foreigners also. They try not to let me
know, but I do know for all that. In any case, if they choose to
kill themselves by taking these things, it is none of my business;
that is the reason why, when they are sick, I never send my own
doctors to attend them."

When Her Majesty had completely recovered from her illness she
used to go out on the lake a great deal, sometimes in an open boat
and at other times in a steam launch. She always appeared to enjoy
this kind of thing. For some reason or other she always insisted
on taking the west side of the lake, which was very shallow, and
invariably the launch would get stuck fast in the mud, which
seemed to afford Her Majesty great enjoyment; she simply loved to
feel the launch strike the bottom. The open boats would then come
alongside and we would have to get out of the launch and enter the
boats and proceed to the top of the nearest hill to watch the
efforts of the eunuchs trying to refloat the launch. It was a
characteristic of Her Majesty to experience a keen sense of
enjoyment at the troubles of other people. The eunuchs knew this
quite well, and whenever opportunity offered, they would do
something which they thought would amuse Her Majesty. So long as
it was nothing of a serious nature Her Majesty would always
overlook it, but in case it proved serious or was carelessness,
she would always order them to be severely punished. Thus it was
very hard to tell just what to do in order to please her.

Another of Her Majesty's peculiarities was inquisitiveness. For
example: As I have stated before, it was the custom for Her
Majesty to have sweetmeats brought to her before every meal, and
after she had finished with them, the remainder were distributed
among the Court ladies. Whenever it happened that we were very
busy, we did not bother with the sweetmeats at all, which Her
Majesty very soon found out. One day, after she had finished
dining, she came and looked through the window to see what we were
doing, and saw some of the eunuchs eating the sweetmeats which she
had given to us. She did not say anything, but simply ordered that
the sweetmeats should be brought back again, making us believe
that she wanted some more herself. I knew that there was something
wrong, as she never ordered them back before. When she saw what
was left of them, she asked who had been eating so many, as they
were nearly all finished, but she got no reply--we were all too
scared. However, after thinking it over, I came to the conclusion
that it would be best to tell her the truth, for I was quite
certain that she knew anyhow. So I told her that we had all been
very busy and had forgotten all about the sweetmeats, and that the
eunuchs had come and taken them themselves, and I added that this
was not the first time they had done so. I was rather glad that
she had given me this opportunity to report the eunuchs, for Her
Majesty replied that if she intended the eunuchs to have
sweetmeats, she herself could give them some, but thought it a
lack of appreciation on our part not eating them ourselves after
she had been so kind as to provide them for us. She turned to me,
and said: "I am glad that you have told the truth, as I saw myself
what was happening." She gave orders that the offending eunuchs
should each have three months' wages deducted as a punishment, but
of course I knew very well they didn't mind that, as they were
making many times the amount of their salary in other ways. On my
return to the sitting room, one of the Court ladies said: "You
should not have told Her Majesty about the eunuchs, they are sure
to revenge themselves in some way." I asked how they could
possibly injure me in any way, as they were only servants, but she
told me that they would find some underhand way in which to get
even with me, this being their general custom. Of course I knew
the eunuchs were a bad lot, but could not see what cause they had
to be against me in any way. I knew they dare not say anything
against me to Her Majesty, so I forgot all about the matter. I
found out afterwards that one of the tricks they used to play on
any of the Court ladies who offended them was to try and prejudice
Her Majesty against us. For instance, if Her Majesty told one of
the eunuchs that a certain thing should be done, instead of
telling me what Her Majesty wanted, the eunuch would go off to one
of the other ladies and tell her. In this way Her Majesty would
get the impression that I was too lazy to wait upon her myself,
and of course the other lady would get all the credit. Although
Her Majesty was very kind to me, also the Young Empress, it was
very hard to get along with eunuchs, and it was not good policy to
offend them in any way. They regarded themselves as being
exclusively the servants of Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager, and
refused to take instructions from anybody else, consequently they
were often very rude to the other ladies of the Court, not even
excepting the Young Empress.

Everything proceeded as usual until the eighth moon, when the
Emperor was to sacrifice at the "Temple of the Sun." On this
occasion the Emperor wore a red robe.

About this time Mrs. Conger asked for a private audience, as she
wanted to see Her Majesty and at the same time see how the
portrait was progressing. Her Majesty replied that she would
receive her and gave orders accordingly. At this private audience
Mrs. Conger brought into the Court two of her relatives to be
presented to Her Majesty, besides Miss Campbell and a missionary
lady. As it was a private audience, the guests were conducted to
Her Majesty's private Palace. They were received in the hall which
was being used as studio for this lady artist, although Her
Majesty was out of patience with the portrait painting, and talked
to us a great deal about it, yet when she saw Mrs. Conger and the
others she was extremely polite and told them that the portrait
was going to be a masterpiece. She was in an unusually good humor
that day and told me to give orders to the eunuchs to open all the
buildings and show them to her guests. Her Majesty led the way
from one room to another and showed them her curios in the
different rooms, until she came to rest in one of the bedrooms,
when she ordered chairs to be brought in for the guests. There
were many chairs in this room, but they were really small thrones
of Her Majesty's, although they looked like any ordinary chairs.
The custom is that no matter what kind of a chair it may be, as
soon as she uses it, it is at once called her throne and no one is
allowed to sit on it thereafter unless the order is given by her.

During the time the eunuchs were bringing in the chairs kept
purposely for foreigners to use, one of the ladies of the party
made a mistake and sat upon one of Her Majesty's thrones. I
noticed her at once, and before I had a chance to warn her, Her
Majesty made a sign of annoyance to me. I went to this lady at
once and told her I wanted to show her something and naturally she
was obliged to get up. The trouble was this, although Her Majesty
felt that no one had the right to sit upon her throne, she
expected me to get this lady off the chair and at the same time
not to tell her the reason why. While I was busy interpreting for
her, she said in an undertone: "There she is again, sitting on my
bed. We had better leave this room." After this the ladies were
conducted to the refreshment room, and when they had partaken of
lunch, bade Her Majesty good-bye, leaving Miss Carl with us. As
usual we reported to her that we had seen the guests safely off.
She said to me: "That was a funny lady: first she sat upon my
throne, and then upon my bed. Perhaps she does not know what a
throne is when she sees one, and yet foreigners laugh at us. I am
sure that our manners are far superior to theirs. Another
thing--did you notice that Mrs. Conger handed a parcel to Miss
Carl out in the courtyard when she came in?" I replied that I had
noticed her passing something like a parcel, but could not tell
what the parcel contained. She thereupon told me to go and ask
Miss Carl what it was. At that time I had received so many
peculiar orders from Her Majesty that I was beginning to get
accustomed to them and used my own discretion in carrying out her
instructions. Therefore I did not ask Miss Carl, but set about
finding out for myself. However, when I began to look around for
the parcel, it had mysteriously disappeared and I could not find
the thing anywhere. This naturally worried me, knowing as I did
that Her Majesty liked her instructions carried out quickly. While
I was searching, one of the eunuchs came in and told me that Her
Majesty wanted to see me, and of course I had to go to her. Before
she could say anything to me, I informed Her Majesty that I had
not been able to ask Miss Carl about the parcel as she was asleep,
but would do so immediately she got up. Her Majesty said: "I don't
want Miss Carl to think I have told you to ask what the parcel
contains, otherwise she might think I am suspicious of what is
going on, so you must manage to get the information somehow
without mentioning the matter; you are clever enough to do that
much." Shortly afterwards, while I was walking along with Miss
Carl to Her Majesty's Palace, to proceed with the portrait, I
noticed that she was carrying the parcel in question, which was a
great relief to me, I can assure you. On arrival at the Palace,
Miss Carl said to me: "You need not trouble to pose at present, as
it is rather dark, and I can be painting the throne; you can look
through this magazine, if you like, to pass the time away." So I
opened up the parcel, which proved to contain nothing more than an
ordinary American monthly magazine. After glancing through the
book, I made an excuse to hurry away and inform Her Majesty.
However, she had already gone out for her usual trip on the lake,
so I took my chair and followed. When I reached the lake, Her
Majesty, who had seen me, sent a small boat and I was rowed out to
the launch. Before I could get a chance to speak, Her Majesty said
with a smile: "I know all about it, it was a book and Miss Carl
handed it to you to read." I was very much disappointed that I had
had my journey for nothing. I knew that the eunuchs would report
it to Her Majesty at the first opportunity, but I hardly expected
they would have done so already. Her Majesty was now quite
satisfied, and simply asked whether Miss Carl suspected that she
had enquired about the matter.

As I was about to return to Miss Carl, Her Majesty called me and
said: "There is one thing I want to tell you and that is whenever
any foreign ladies are visiting the Palace, always keep close to
the Emperor so that in the event of their speaking to him you can
interpret." I answered that so far whenever any foreigners were
present I was present also and did not think that anybody had held
any conversation with the Emperor whatsoever. She explained that
her reason for mentioning this was that she wanted me to be just
as courteous to the Emperor as I was to herself, and I was to
place myself entirely at his disposal whenever visitors were
present. Of course I knew very well that this was not the true
reason at all but that she wanted to take every precaution to
preclude the possibility of foreigners influencing the Emperor in
matters of reform, etc.



ON the fifteenth day of the eighth moon came the celebration of
the Mid-Autumn Festival, sometimes called the Moon Festival.

This name is derived from the belief which the Chinese hold that
the moon is not permanently round when full, but that on this
particular day it is a perfect circle. The ceremony which is gone
through is conducted entirely by the Court ladies and consists of
worshiping the moon as soon as it appears in the sky. In other
respects the celebrations are exactly the same as in the Dragon
Boat Festival, presents were exchanged between Her Majesty and the
Court officials. The festival concluded with a theatrical
performance which describes a scene in the moon. The belief is
that a beautiful maiden lives in the moon, her only companion
being a white rabbit, called a Jade Rabbit. According to the play
this rabbit escapes from the moon to the Earth and becomes a young
and beautiful girl. A golden rooster which lives in the sun,
becoming aware of the rabbit's descent to the earth, himself
descends from the sun and changes into a handsome prince. Of
course they very naturally meet and immediately fall in love. Now,
on the earth lived another rabbit--a red one, who, on finding out
what was going on, changed himself into a prince also and set
about making love to the beautiful maiden with the object of
cutting out the rooster. However, he was seriously handicapped
inasmuch as he was unable to change the color of his face, which
remained red, therefore his love making met with no success and
the rooster prince had it all his own way. At this point, the
beautiful maiden in the moon, on discovering her loss, sent the
soldiers of Heaven to re-capture her rabbit, with the result that
she was taken back to the moon and the rooster being left alone,
had no alternative but to reluctantly return to his home in the

During this performance the head eunuch brought a young man into
the courtyard, who kowtowed to Her Majesty. This was such an
unusual occurrence that everybody noticed it. I could see that he
was a stranger and did not belong to the Court and I wondered who
he could be. At the other end of the veranda I saw two or three of
the Court ladies whispering together and smiling. They finally
came over to me and asked if I knew who he was. I told them that
he was a stranger to me and they ought to know better than I did
as they had been at the Court much longer. Anyhow I gave it as my
opinion that he was decidedly ugly. That same evening Her Majesty
asked me whether I had noticed this young man, and told me that he
was the son of a very high Manchu official; that his father was
dead and that he had succeeded to the title and to a large amount
of money. I was surprised that Her Majesty should give such a
lengthy explanation about this young man, but I told her that I
did not think him very handsome. Her Majesty was talking in a very
serious manner but I did not think anything of the occurrence at
the time but a few days later while I was posing for the portrait
I heard Her Majesty whispering to my mother at the other end of
the room. I saw that Her Majesty was holding a photograph in her
hands which she showed to my mother, at the same time asking
whether my mother considered him good looking. My mother answered
"not very." On Her Majesty replying that beauty was not everything
I began to suspect that there was something going on which
directly concerned me. I began to think of some excuse in order to
get out of what I could plainly see was a proposed marriage
between myself and this gentleman. I knew that if Her Majesty had
made up her mind that I was to marry him I could not help myself,
but, at the same time, I made up my own mind that rather than
marry anyone whom I did not like, especially one I had never seen
before, I would leave the Court altogether. When Her Majesty
retired for her usual afternoon rest she told me she wanted to see
me for a moment. After beating about the bush for some time, she
asked me whether I would like to stay with her always or whether I
would like to go away again to some foreign country. I at once
answered that I was quite satisfied to stay with her as long as
she cared to have me but that when she was tired of me she could
then send me away. Her Majesty informed me that it had been her
intention to marry me to this young gentleman and asked my
opinion. I told her that I did not want to get married at all,
especially seeing that my father was sick at this time, and
leaving home to go to live apart from my family would break his
heart and perhaps be the cause of his premature death. Her Majesty
said that was no excuse as I should not have to go out of China
but would be able to see my father and family any time I wished. I
told Her Majesty that I would much rather stay with her altogether
and that I did not want to marry anybody. Her Majesty then said:
"I won't listen to any excuse. I have already explained everything
to your mother, but much to my surprise she said it would be
better to mention it to you first, on account of your having been
brought up differently from the rest of the Court ladies. Had it
not been for this fact I would simply have arranged everything
with your mother and the matter would have been settled so far as
you were concerned." I could not say anything in answer to this,
so commenced to cry. I told Her Majesty that I was not like the
rest of the Court ladies who pretended they did not want to marry,
when all the time they were simply looking forward to getting
married, if only for the change from the monotony of Court life. I
promised that I would stay with her forever, and that I had no
desire to go away from China again. I explained that I should not
have gone away at all had it not been that my father was
transferred to Paris. Her Majesty said: "Oh, well, I am very glad
that you did go away as you are more useful to me than you would
have been had you stayed in China all your life." After a lot more
discussion Her Majesty said: "Well, I will leave you to think the
matter over. If you don't like the young man I have chosen there
are plenty of others," which remark did not help me very much as I
could see that she meant to marry me off anyway. However, I had
managed to get out of it this time, and thought I would be able to
arrange matters satisfactorily should the question come up again.
Nothing further was said about the matter until nearly a month
later when I heard that a marriage had been arranged between this
gentleman and the daughter of one of the princes. So everything
ended very satisfactorily from my point of view.

The twenty-sixth day of the eighth moon was the occasion of
another celebration. At the time the Manchu Dynasty began, Emperor
Shung Chih, who had fought very hard to gain the throne, found
himself on the twenty-sixth day of the eighth moon, absolutely out
of provisions of every kind and it was necessary for him and his
army to live on the leaves of trees, which was the only form of
food obtainable at the time. Thus the anniversary of this day,
even up to the present time, is always celebrated by the Manchu
people, who deny themselves all luxuries, especially at the Court.
We did not eat any meat on that day, but only rice wrapped in
lettuce leaves. Chopsticks were also discarded and the food was
conveyed to the mouth by the hands alone. Even the Empress Dowager
was no exception to this rule. This is done in order to remind the
present generation of the privation suffered by their ancestors
who established the Manchu Dynasty.

Towards the close of the eighth moon Her Majesty's gourd plants,
which had been planted early in the spring, were ripening, and
each day she would take us all to see what progress they were
making. She would pick out those which she considered to be the
most perfect in form, i. e., those with the smallest waist and tie
ribbons around them so as not to lose sight of them. She pointed
to one of these plants one day, and said to me: "This reminds me
of yourself when dressed in foreign clothes. Surely you feel more
comfortable in the clothes you are now wearing." When these gourds
were quite ripe they were cut down and Her Majesty would scrape
the outer skin with a bamboo knife, afterwards wiping the fruit
with a wet cloth. They were then allowed to dry and after a few
days they would assume a brownish color, when they were ready for
hanging as ornaments in the Summer Palace. In one room alone there
were over 10,000 of these gourds, of different shapes. It was the
duty of the Court ladies to periodically wipe these gourds with a
cloth, in order to give them a shiny appearance, and also to
scrape any new ones which were pulled and prepare them for the
Palace. None of us cared very much about this work excepting Her
Majesty. One day whilst attending to these gourds I happened to

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