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Hung Lou Meng, Book I by Cao Xueqin

Part 2 out of 10

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She had a pair of eyes, triangular in shape like those of the red
phoenix, two eyebrows, curved upwards at each temple, like willow
leaves. Her stature was elegant; her figure graceful; her powdered face
like dawning spring, majestic, yet not haughty. Her carnation lips, long
before they parted, betrayed a smile.

Tai-y eagerly rose and greeted her.

Old lady Chia then smiled. "You don't know her," she observed. "This is
a cunning vixen, who has made quite a name in this establishment! In
Nanking, she went by the appellation of vixen, and if you simply call
her Feng Vixen, it will do."

Tai-y was just at a loss how to address her, when all her cousins
informed Tai-y, that this was her sister-in-law Lien.

Tai-y had not, it is true, made her acquaintance before, but she had
heard her mother mention that her eldest maternal uncle Chia She's son,
Chia Lien, had married the niece of Madame Wang, her second brother's
wife, a girl who had, from her infancy, purposely been nurtured to
supply the place of a son, and to whom the school name of Wang Hsi-feng
had been given.

Tai-y lost no time in returning her smile and saluting her with all
propriety, addressing her as my sister-in-law. This Hsi-feng laid hold
of Tai-y's hand, and minutely scrutinised her, for a while, from head
to foot; after which she led her back next to dowager lady Chia, where
they both took a seat.

"If really there be a being of such beauty in the world," she
consequently observed with a smile, "I may well consider as having set
eyes upon it to-day! Besides, in the air of her whole person, she
doesn't in fact look like your granddaughter-in-law, our worthy
ancestor, but in every way like your ladyship's own kindred-
granddaughter! It's no wonder then that your venerable ladyship
should have, day after day, had her unforgotten, even for a second, in
your lips and heart. It's a pity, however, that this cousin of mine
should have such a hard lot! How did it happen that our aunt died at
such an early period?"

As she uttered these words, she hastily took her handkerchief and wiped
the tears from her eyes.

"I've only just recovered from a fit of crying," dowager lady Chia
observed, as she smiled, "and have you again come to start me? Your
cousin has only now arrived from a distant journey, and she is so
delicate to boot! Besides, we have a few minutes back succeeded in
coaxing her to restrain her sobs, so drop at once making any allusion to
your former remarks!"

This Hsi-feng, upon hearing these words, lost no time in converting her
sorrow into joy.

"Quite right," she remarked. "But at the sight of my cousin, my whole
heart was absorbed in her, and I felt happy, and yet wounded at heart:
but having disregarded my venerable ancestor's presence, I deserve to be
beaten, I do indeed!"

And hastily taking once more Tai-y's hand in her own: "How old are you,
cousin?" she inquired; "Have you been to school? What medicines are you
taking? while you live here, you mustn't feel homesick; and if there's
anything you would like to eat, or to play with, mind you come and tell
me! or should the waiting maids or the matrons fail in their duties,
don't forget also to report them to me."

Addressing at the same time the matrons, she went on to ask, "Have Miss
Lin's luggage and effects been brought in? How many servants has she
brought along with her? Go, as soon as you can, and sweep two lower
rooms and ask them to go and rest."

As she spake, tea and refreshments had already been served, and Hsi-feng
herself handed round the cups and offered the fruits.

Upon hearing the question further put by her maternal aunt Secunda,
"Whether the issue of the monthly allowances of money had been finished
or not yet?" Hsi-feng replied: "The issue of the money has also been
completed; but a few moments back, when I went along with several
servants to the back upper-loft, in search of the satins, we looked for
ever so long, but we saw nothing of the kind of satins alluded to by
you, madame, yesterday; so may it not be that your memory misgives you?"

"Whether there be any or not, of that special kind, is of no
consequence," observed madame Wang. "You should take out," she therefore
went on to add, "any two pieces which first come under your hand, for
this cousin of yours to make herself dresses with; and in the evening,
if I don't forget, I'll send some one to fetch them."

"I've in fact already made every provision," rejoined Hsi-feng; "knowing
very well that my cousin would be arriving within these two days, I have
had everything got ready for her. And when you, madame, go back, if you
will pass an eye over everything, I shall be able to send them round."

Madame Wang gave a smile, nodded her head assentingly, but uttered not a
word by way of reply.

The tea and fruit had by this time been cleared, and dowager lady Chia
directed two old nurses to take Tai-y to go and see her two maternal
uncles; whereupon Chia She's wife, madame Hsing, hastily stood up and
with a smiling face suggested, "I'll take my niece over; for it will
after all be considerably better if I go!"

"Quite so!" answered dowager lady Chia, smiling; "you can go home too,
and there will be no need for you to come over again!"

Madame Hsing expressed her assent, and forthwith led Tai-y to take
leave of madame Wang. The whole party escorted them as far as the door
of the Entrance Hall, hung with creepers, where several youths had drawn
a carriage, painted light blue, with a kingfisher-coloured hood.

Madame Hsing led Tai-y by the hand and they got up into their seats.
The whole company of matrons put the curtain down, and then bade the
youths raise the carriage; who dragged it along, until they came to an
open space, where they at length put the mules into harness.

Going out again by the eastern side gate, they proceeded in an easterly
direction, passed the main entrance of the Jung mansion, and entered a
lofty doorway painted black. On the arrival in front of the ceremonial
gate, they at once dismounted from the curricle, and madame Hsing,
hand-in-hand with Tai-y, walked into the court.

"These grounds," surmised Tai-y to herself, "must have been originally
converted from a piece partitioned from the garden of the Jung mansion."

Having entered three rows of ceremonial gates they actually caught sight
of the main structure, with its vestibules and porches, all of which,
though on a small scale, were full of artistic and unique beauty. They
were nothing like the lofty, imposing, massive and luxurious style of
architecture on the other side, yet the avenues and rockeries, in the
various places in the court, were all in perfect taste.

When they reached the interior of the principal pavilion, a large
concourse of handmaids and waiting maids, got up in gala dress, were
already there to greet them. Madame Hsing pressed Tai-y into a seat,
while she bade some one go into the outer library and request Mr. Chia
She to come over.

In a few minutes the servant returned. "Master," she explained, "says:
'that he has not felt quite well for several days, that as the meeting
with Miss Lin will affect both her as well as himself, he does not for
the present feel equal to seeing each other, that he advises Miss Lin
not to feel despondent or homesick; that she ought to feel quite at home
with her venerable ladyship, (her grandmother,) as well as her maternal
aunts; that her cousins are, it is true, blunt, but that if all the
young ladies associated together in one place, they may also perchance
dispel some dulness; that if ever (Miss Lin) has any grievance, she
should at once speak out, and on no account feel a stranger; and
everything will then be right."

Tai-y lost no time in respectfully standing up, resuming her seat after
she had listened to every sentence of the message to her. After a while,
she said goodbye, and though madame Hsing used every argument to induce
her to stay for the repast and then leave, Tai-y smiled and said, "I
shouldn't under ordinary circumstances refuse the invitation to dinner,
which you, aunt, in your love kindly extend to me, but I have still to
cross over and pay my respects to my maternal uncle Secundus; if I went
too late, it would, I fear, be a lack of respect on my part; but I shall
accept on another occasion. I hope therefore that you will, dear aunt,
kindly excuse me."

"If such be the case," madame Hsing replied, "it's all right." And
presently directing two nurses to take her niece over, in the carriage,
in which they had come a while back, Tai-y thereupon took her leave;
madame Hsing escorting her as far as the ceremonial gate, where she gave
some further directions to all the company of servants. She followed the
curricle with her eyes so long as it remained in sight, and at length
retraced her footsteps.

Tai-y shortly entered the Jung Mansion, descended from the carriage,
and preceded by all the nurses, she at once proceeded towards the east,
turned a corner, passed through an Entrance Hall, running east and west,
and walked in a southern direction, at the back of the Large Hall. On
the inner side of a ceremonial gate, and at the upper end of a spacious
court, stood a large main building, with five apartments, flanked on
both sides by out-houses (stretching out) like the antlers on the head
of deer; side-gates, resembling passages through a hill, establishing a
thorough communication all round; (a main building) lofty, majestic,
solid and grand, and unlike those in the compound of dowager lady Chia.

Tai-y readily concluded that this at last was the main inner suite of
apartments. A raised broad road led in a straight line to the large
gate. Upon entering the Hall, and raising her head, she first of all
perceived before her a large tablet with blue ground, upon which figured
nine dragons of reddish gold. The inscription on this tablet consisted
of three characters as large as a peck-measure, and declared that this
was the Hall of Glorious Felicity.

At the end, was a row of characters of minute size, denoting the year,
month and day, upon which His Majesty had been pleased to confer the
tablet upon Chia Yuan, Duke of Jung Kuo. Besides this tablet, were
numberless costly articles bearing the autograph of the Emperor. On the
large black ebony table, engraved with dragons, were placed three
antique blue and green bronze tripods, about three feet in height. On
the wall hung a large picture representing black dragons, such as were
seen in waiting chambers of the Sui dynasty. On one side stood a gold
cup of chased work, while on the other, a crystal casket. On the ground
were placed, in two rows, sixteen chairs, made of hard-grained cedar.

There was also a pair of scrolls consisting of black-wood antithetical
tablets, inlaid with the strokes of words in chased gold. Their burden
was this:

On the platform shine resplendent pearls like sun or moon,
And the sheen of the Hall faade gleams like russet sky.

Below, was a row of small characters, denoting that the scroll had been
written by the hand of Mu Shih, a fellow-countryman and old friend of
the family, who, for his meritorious services, had the hereditary title
of Prince of Tung Ngan conferred upon him.

The fact is that madame Wang was also not in the habit of sitting and
resting, in this main apartment, but in three side-rooms on the east, so
that the nurses at once led Tai-y through the door of the eastern wing.

On a stove-couch, near the window, was spread a foreign red carpet. On
the side of honour, were laid deep red reclining-cushions, with dragons,
with gold cash (for scales), and an oblong brown-coloured
sitting-cushion with gold-cash-spotted dragons. On the two sides, stood
one of a pair of small teapoys of foreign lacquer of peach-blossom
pattern. On the teapoy on the left, were spread out Wen Wang tripods,
spoons, chopsticks and scent-bottles. On the teapoy on the right, were
vases from the Ju Kiln, painted with girls of great beauty, in which
were placed seasonable flowers; (on it were) also teacups, a tea service
and the like articles.

On the floor on the west side of the room, were four chairs in a row,
all of which were covered with antimacassars, embroidered with
silverish-red flowers, while below, at the feet of these chairs, stood
four footstools. On either side, was also one of a pair of high teapoys,
and these teapoys were covered with teacups and flower vases.

The other nick-nacks need not be minutely described.

The old nurses pressed Tai-y to sit down on the stove-couch; but, on
perceiving near the edge of the couch two embroidered cushions, placed
one opposite the other, she thought of the gradation of seats, and did
not therefore place herself on the couch, but on a chair on the eastern
side of the room; whereupon the waiting maids, in attendance in these
quarters, hastened to serve the tea.

While Tai-y was sipping her tea, she observed the headgear, dress,
deportment and manners of the several waiting maids, which she really
found so unlike what she had seen in other households. She had hardly
finished her tea, when she noticed a waiting maid approach, dressed in a
red satin jacket, and a waistcoat of blue satin with scollops.

"My lady requests Miss Lin to come over and sit with her," she remarked
as she put on a smile.

The old nurses, upon hearing this message, speedily ushered Tai-y again
out of this apartment, into the three-roomed small main building by the
eastern porch.

On the stove-couch, situated at the principal part of the room, was
placed, in a transverse position, a low couch-table, at the upper end of
which were laid out, in a heap, books and a tea service. Against the
partition-wall, on the east side, facing the west, was a reclining
pillow, made of blue satin, neither old nor new.

Madame Wang, however, occupied the lower seat, on the west side, on
which was likewise placed a rather shabby blue satin sitting-rug, with a
back-cushion; and upon perceiving Tai-y come in she urged her at once
to sit on the east side.

Tai-y concluded, in her mind, that this seat must certainly belong to
Chia Cheng, and espying, next to the couch, a row of three chairs,
covered with antimacassars, strewn with embroidered flowers, somewhat
also the worse for use, Tai-y sat down on one of these chairs.

But as madame Wang pressed her again and again to sit on the couch,
Tai-y had at length to take a seat next to her.

"Your uncle," madame Wang explained, "is gone to observe this day as a
fast day, but you'll see him by and bye. There's, however, one thing I
want to talk to you about. Your three female cousins are all, it is
true, everything that is nice; and you will, when later on you come
together for study, or to learn how to do needlework, or whenever, at
any time, you romp and laugh together, find them all most obliging; but
there's one thing that causes me very much concern. I have here one, who
is the very root of retribution, the incarnation of all mischief, one
who is a ne'er-do-well, a prince of malignant spirits in this family. He
is gone to-day to pay his vows in the temple, and is not back yet, but
you will see him in the evening, when you will readily be able to judge
for yourself. One thing you must do, and that is, from this time forth,
not to pay any notice to him. All these cousins of yours don't venture
to bring any taint upon themselves by provoking him."

Tai-y had in days gone by heard her mother explain that she had a
nephew, born into the world, holding a piece of jade in his mouth, who
was perverse beyond measure, who took no pleasure in his books, and
whose sole great delight was to play the giddy dog in the inner
apartments; that her maternal grandmother, on the other hand, loved him
so fondly that no one ever presumed to call him to account, so that
when, in this instance, she heard madame Wang's advice, she at once felt
certain that it must be this very cousin.

"Isn't it to the cousin born with jade in his mouth, that you are
alluding to, aunt?" she inquired as she returned her smile. "When I was
at home, I remember my mother telling me more than once of this very
cousin, who (she said) was a year older than I, and whose infant name
was Pao-y. She added that his disposition was really wayward, but that
he treats all his cousins with the utmost consideration. Besides, now
that I have come here, I shall, of course, be always together with my
female cousins, while the boys will have their own court, and separate
quarters; and how ever will there be any cause of bringing any slur upon
myself by provoking him?"

"You don't know the reasons (that prompt me to warn you)," replied
madame Wang laughingly. "He is so unlike all the rest, all because he
has, since his youth up, been doated upon by our old lady! The fact is
that he has been spoilt, through over-indulgence, by being always in the
company of his female cousins! If his female cousins pay no heed to him,
he is, at any rate, somewhat orderly, but the day his cousins say one
word more to him than usual, much trouble forthwith arises, at the
outburst of delight in his heart. That's why I enjoin upon you not to
heed him. From his mouth, at one time, issue sugared words and
mellifluous phrases; and at another, like the heavens devoid of the sun,
he becomes a raving fool; so whatever you do, don't believe all he

Tai-y was assenting to every bit of advice as it was uttered, when
unexpectedly she beheld a waiting-maid walk in. "Her venerable ladyship
over there," she said, "has sent word about the evening meal."

Madame Wang hastily took Tai-y by the hand, and emerging by the door of
the back-room, they went eastwards by the verandah at the back. Past the
side gate, was a roadway, running north and south. On the southern side
were a pavilion with three divisions and a Reception Hall with a
colonnade. On the north, stood a large screen wall, painted white;
behind it was a very small building, with a door of half the ordinary

"These are your cousin Feng's rooms," explained madame Wang to Tai-y,
as she pointed to them smiling. "You'll know in future your way to come
and find her; and if you ever lack anything, mind you mention it to her,
and she'll make it all right."

At the door of this court, were also several youths, who had recently
had the tufts of their hair tied together, who all dropped their hands
against their sides, and stood in a respectful posture. Madame Wang then
led Tai-y by the hand through a corridor, running east and west, into
what was dowager lady Chia's back-court. Forthwith they entered the door
of the back suite of rooms, where stood, already in attendance, a large
number of servants, who, when they saw madame Wang arrive, set to work
setting the tables and chairs in order.

Chia Chu's wife, ne Li, served the eatables, while Hsi-feng placed the
chopsticks, and madame Wang brought the soup in. Dowager lady Chia was
seated all alone on the divan, in the main part of the apartment, on the
two sides of which stood four vacant chairs.

Hsi-feng at once drew Tai-y, meaning to make her sit in the foremost
chair on the left side, but Tai-y steadily and concedingly declined.

"Your aunts and sisters-in-law, standing on the right and left," dowager
lady Chia smilingly explained, "won't have their repast in here, and as
you're a guest, it's but proper that you should take that seat."

Then alone it was that Tai-y asked for permission to sit down, seating
herself on the chair.

Madame Wang likewise took a seat at old lady Chia's instance; and the
three cousins, Ying Ch'un and the others, having craved for leave to sit
down, at length came forward, and Ying Ch'un took the first chair on the
right, T'an Ch'un the second, and Hsi Ch'un the second on the left.
Waiting maids stood by holding in their hands, flips and finger-bowls
and napkins, while Mrs. Li and lady Feng, the two of them, kept near the
table advising them what to eat, and pressing them to help themselves.

In the outer apartments, the married women and waiting-maids in
attendance, were, it is true, very numerous; but not even so much as the
sound of the cawing of a crow could be heard.

The repast over, each one was presented by a waiting-maid, with tea in a
small tea tray; but the Lin family had all along impressed upon the mind
of their daughter that in order to show due regard to happiness, and to
preserve good health, it was essential, after every meal, to wait a
while, before drinking any tea, so that it should not do any harm to the
intestines. When, therefore, Tai-y perceived how many habits there were
in this establishment unlike those which prevailed in her home, she too
had no alternative but to conform herself to a certain extent with them.
Upon taking over the cup of tea, servants came once more and presented
finger-bowls for them to rinse their mouths, and Tai-y also rinsed
hers; and after they had all again finished washing their hands, tea was
eventually served a second time, and this was, at length, the tea that
was intended to be drunk.

"You can all go," observed dowager lady Chia, "and let us alone to have
a chat."

Madame Wang rose as soon as she heard these words, and having made a few
irrelevant remarks, she led the way and left the room along with the two
ladies, Mrs. Li and lady Feng.

Dowager lady Chia, having inquired of Tai-y what books she was reading,
"I have just begun reading the Four Books," Tai-y replied. "What books
are my cousins reading?" Tai-y went on to ask.

"Books, you say!" exclaimed dowager lady Chia; "why all they know are a
few characters, that's all."

The sentence was barely out of her lips, when a continuous sounding of
footsteps was heard outside, and a waiting maid entered and announced
that Pao-y was coming. Tai-y was speculating in her mind how it was
that this Pao-y had turned out such a good-for-nothing fellow, when he
happened to walk in.

He was, in fact, a young man of tender years, wearing on his head, to
hold his hair together, a cap of gold of purplish tinge, inlaid with
precious gems. Parallel with his eyebrows was attached a circlet,
embroidered with gold, and representing two dragons snatching a pearl.
He wore an archery-sleeved deep red jacket, with hundreds of butterflies
worked in gold of two different shades, interspersed with flowers; and
was girded with a sash of variegated silk, with clusters of designs, to
which was attached long tassels; a kind of sash worn in the palace. Over
all, he had a slate-blue fringed coat of Japanese brocaded satin, with
eight bunches of flowers in relief; and wore a pair of light blue satin
white-soled, half-dress court-shoes.

His face was like the full moon at mid-autumn; his complexion, like
morning flowers in spring; the hair along his temples, as if chiselled
with a knife; his eyebrows, as if pencilled with ink; his nose like a
suspended gallbladder (a well-cut and shapely nose); his eyes like
vernal waves; his angry look even resembled a smile; his glance, even
when stern, was full of sentiment.

Round his neck he had a gold dragon necklet with a fringe; also a cord
of variegated silk, to which was attached a piece of beautiful jade.

As soon as Tai-y became conscious of his presence, she was quite taken
aback. "How very strange!" she was reflecting in her mind; "it would
seem as if I had seen him somewhere or other, for his face appears
extremely familiar to my eyes;" when she noticed Pao-y face dowager
lady Chia and make his obeisance. "Go and see your mother and then come
back," remarked her venerable ladyship; and at once he turned round and
quitted the room.

On his return, he had already changed his hat and suit. All round his
head, he had a fringe of short hair, plaited into small queues, and
bound with red silk. The queues were gathered up at the crown, and all
the hair, which had been allowed to grow since his birth, was plaited
into a thick queue, which looked as black and as glossy as lacquer.
Between the crown of the head and the extremity of the queue, hung a
string of four large pearls, with pendants of gold, representing the
eight precious things. On his person, he wore a long silvery-red coat,
more or less old, bestrewn with embroidery of flowers. He had still
round his neck the necklet, precious gem, amulet of Recorded Name,
philacteries, and other ornaments. Below were partly visible a fir-cone
coloured brocaded silk pair of trousers, socks spotted with black
designs, with ornamented edges, and a pair of deep red, thick-soled

(Got up as he was now,) his face displayed a still whiter appearance, as
if painted, and his eyes as if they were set off with carnation. As he
rolled his eyes, they brimmed with love. When he gave utterance to
speech, he seemed to smile. But the chief natural pleasing feature was
mainly centred in the curve of his eyebrows. The ten thousand and one
fond sentiments, fostered by him during the whole of his existence, were
all amassed in the corner of his eyes.

His outward appearance may have been pleasing to the highest degree, but
yet it was no easy matter to fathom what lay beneath it.

There are a couple of roundelays, composed by a later poet, (after the
excellent rhythm of the) Hsi Chiang Yueh, which depict Pao-y in a most
adequate manner.

The roundelays run as follows:

To gloom and passion prone, without a rhyme,
Inane and madlike was he many a time,
His outer self, forsooth, fine may have been,
But one wild, howling waste his mind within:
Addled his brain that nothing he could see;
A dunce! to read essays so loth to be!
Perverse in bearing, in temper wayward;
For human censure he had no regard.
When rich, wealth to enjoy he knew not how;
When poor, to poverty he could not bow.
Alas! what utter waste of lustrous grace!
To state, to family what a disgrace!
Of ne'er-do-wells below he was the prime,
Unfilial like him none up to this time.
Ye lads, pampered with sumptuous fare and dress,
Beware! In this youth's footsteps do not press!

But to proceed with our story.

"You have gone and changed your clothes," observed dowager lady Chia,
"before being introduced to the distant guest. Why don't you yet salute
your cousin?"

Pao-y had long ago become aware of the presence of a most beautiful
young lady, who, he readily concluded, must be no other than the
daughter of his aunt Lin. He hastened to advance up to her, and make his
bow; and after their introduction, he resumed his seat, whence he
minutely scrutinised her features, (which he thought) so unlike those of
all other girls.

Her two arched eyebrows, thick as clustered smoke, bore a certain not
very pronounced frowning wrinkle. She had a pair of eyes, which
possessed a cheerful, and yet one would say, a sad expression,
overflowing with sentiment. Her face showed the prints of sorrow stamped
on her two dimpled cheeks. She was beautiful, but her whole frame was
the prey of a hereditary disease. The tears in her eyes glistened like
small specks. Her balmy breath was so gentle. She was as demure as a
lovely flower reflected in the water. Her gait resembled a frail willow,
agitated by the wind. Her heart, compared with that of Pi Kan, had one
more aperture of intelligence; while her ailment exceeded (in intensity)
by three degrees the ailment of Hsi-Tzu.

Pao-y, having concluded his scrutiny of her, put on a smile and said,
"This cousin I have already seen in days gone by."

"There you are again with your nonsense," exclaimed lady Chia,
sneeringly; "how could you have seen her before?"

"Though I may not have seen her, ere this," observed Pao-y with a
smirk, "yet when I look at her face, it seems so familiar, and to my
mind, it would appear as if we had been old acquaintances; just as if,
in fact, we were now meeting after a long separation."

"That will do! that will do!" remarked dowager lady Chia; "such being
the case, you will be the more intimate."

Pao-y, thereupon, went up to Tai-y, and taking a seat next to her,
continued to look at her again with all intentness for a good long

"Have you read any books, cousin?" he asked.

"I haven't as yet," replied Tai-y, "read any books, as I have only been
to school for a year; all I know are simply a few characters."

"What is your worthy name, cousin?" Pao-y went on to ask; whereupon
Tai-y speedily told him her name.

"Your style?" inquired Pao-y; to which question Tai-y replied, "I have
no style."

"I'll give you a style," suggested Pao-y smilingly; "won't the double
style 'P'in P'in,' 'knitting brows,' do very well?"

"From what part of the standard books does that come?" T'an Ch'un
hastily interposed.

"It is stated in the Thorough Research into the state of Creation from
remote ages to the present day," Pao-y went on to explain, "that, in
the western quarter, there exists a stone, called Tai, (black,) which
can be used, in lieu of ink, to blacken the eyebrows with. Besides the
eyebrows of this cousin taper in a way, as if they were contracted, so
that the selection of these two characters is most appropriate, isn't

"This is just another plagiarism, I fear," observed T'an Ch'un, with an
ironic smirk.

"Exclusive of the Four Books," Pao-y remarked smilingly, "the majority
of works are plagiarised; and is it only I, perchance, who plagiarise?
Have you got any jade or not?" he went on to inquire, addressing Tai-y,
(to the discomfiture) of all who could not make out what he meant.

"It's because he has a jade himself," Tai-y forthwith reasoned within
her mind, "that he asks me whether I have one or not.--No; I haven't
one," she replied. "That jade of yours is besides a rare object, and how
could every one have one?"

As soon as Pao-y heard this remark, he at once burst out in a fit of
his raving complaint, and unclasping the gem, he dashed it disdainfully
on the floor. "Rare object, indeed!" he shouted, as he heaped invective
on it; "it has no idea how to discriminate the excellent from the mean,
among human beings; and do tell me, has it any perception or not? I too
can do without this rubbish!"

All those, who stood below, were startled; and in a body they pressed
forward, vying with each other as to who should pick up the gem.

Dowager lady Chia was so distressed that she clasped Pao-y in her
embrace. "You child of wrath," she exclaimed. "When you get into a
passion, it's easy enough for you to beat and abuse people; but what
makes you fling away that stem of life?"

Pao-y's face was covered with the traces of tears. "All my cousins
here, senior as well as junior," he rejoined, as he sobbed, "have no
gem, and if it's only I to have one, there's no fun in it, I maintain!
and now comes this angelic sort of cousin, and she too has none, so that
it's clear enough that it is no profitable thing."

Dowager lady Chia hastened to coax him. "This cousin of yours," she
explained, "would, under former circumstances, have come here with a
jade; and it's because your aunt felt unable, as she lay on her
death-bed, to reconcile herself to the separation from your cousin, that
in the absence of any remedy, she forthwith took the gem belonging to
her (daughter), along with her (in the grave); so that, in the first
place, by the fulfilment of the rites of burying the living with the
dead might be accomplished the filial piety of your cousin; and in the
second place, that the spirit of your aunt might also, for the time
being, use it to gratify the wish of gazing on your cousin. That's why
she simply told you that she had no jade; for she couldn't very well
have had any desire to give vent to self-praise. Now, how can you ever
compare yourself with her? and don't you yet carefully and circumspectly
put it on? Mind, your mother may come to know what you have done!"

As she uttered these words, she speedily took the jade over from the
hand of the waiting-maid, and she herself fastened it on for him.

When Pao-y heard this explanation, he indulged in reflection, but could
not even then advance any further arguments.

A nurse came at the moment and inquired about Tai-y's quarters, and
dowager lady Chia at once added, "Shift Pao-y along with me, into the
warm room of my suite of apartments, and put your mistress, Miss Lin,
temporarily in the green gauze house; and when the rest of the winter is
over, and repairs are taken in hand in spring in their rooms, an
additional wing can be put up for her to take up her quarters in."

"My dear ancestor," ventured Pao-y; "the bed I occupy outside the green
gauze house is very comfortable; and what need is there again for me to
leave it and come and disturb your old ladyship's peace and quiet?"

"Well, all right," observed dowager lady Chia, after some consideration;
"but let each one of you have a nurse, as well as a waiting-maid to
attend on you; the other servants can remain in the outside rooms and
keep night watch and be ready to answer any call."

At an early hour, besides, Hsi-feng had sent a servant round with a grey
flowered curtain, embroidered coverlets and satin quilts and other such

Tai-y had brought along with her only two servants; the one was her own
nurse, dame Wang, and the other was a young waiting-maid of sixteen,
whose name was called Hseh Yen. Dowager lady Chia, perceiving that
Hseh Yen was too youthful and quite a child in her manner, while nurse
Wang was, on the other hand, too aged, conjectured that Tai-y would, in
all her wants, not have things as she liked, so she detached two
waiting-maids, who were her own personal attendants, named Tzu Chan and
Ying Ko, and attached them to Tai-y's service. Just as had Ying Ch'un
and the other girls, each one of whom had besides the wet nurses of
their youth, four other nurses to advise and direct them, and exclusive
of two personal maids to look after their dress and toilette, four or
five additional young maids to do the washing and sweeping of the rooms
and the running about backwards and forwards on errands.

Nurse Wang, Tzu Chan and other girls entered at once upon their
attendance on Tai-y in the green gauze rooms, while Pao-y's wet-nurse,
dame Li, together with an elderly waiting-maid, called Hsi Jen, were on
duty in the room with the large bed.

This Hsi Jen had also been, originally, one of dowager lady Chia's
servant-girls. Her name was in days gone by, Chen Chu. As her venerable
ladyship, in her tender love for Pao-y, had feared that Pao-y's
servant girls were not equal to their duties, she readily handed her to
Pao-y, as she had hitherto had experience of how sincere and
considerate she was at heart.

Pao-y, knowing that her surname was at one time Hua, and having once
seen in some verses of an ancient poet, the line "the fragrance of
flowers wafts itself into man," lost no time in explaining the fact to
dowager lady Chia, who at once changed her name into Hsi Jen.

This Hsi Jen had several simple traits. While in attendance upon dowager
lady Chia, in her heart and her eyes there was no one but her venerable
ladyship, and her alone; and now in her attendance upon Pao-y, her
heart and her eyes were again full of Pao-y, and him alone. But as
Pao-y was of a perverse temperament and did not heed her repeated
injunctions, she felt at heart exceedingly grieved.

At night, after nurse Li had fallen asleep, seeing that in the inner
chambers, Tai-y, Ying Ko and the others had not as yet retired to rest,
she disrobed herself, and with gentle step walked in.

"How is it, miss," she inquired smiling, "that you have not turned in as

Tai-y at once put on a smile. "Sit down, sister," she rejoined,
pressing her to take a seat. Hsi Jen sat on the edge of the bed.

"Miss Lin," interposed Ying Ko smirkingly, "has been here in an awful
state of mind! She has cried so to herself, that her eyes were flooded,
as soon as she dried her tears. 'It's only to-day that I've come,' she
said, 'and I've already been the cause of the outbreak of your young
master's failing. Now had he broken that jade, as he hurled it on the
ground, wouldn't it have been my fault? Hence it was that she was so
wounded at heart, that I had all the trouble in the world, before I
could appease her."

"Desist at once, Miss! Don't go on like this," Hsi Jen advised her;
"there will, I fear, in the future, happen things far more strange and
ridiculous than this; and if you allow yourself to be wounded and
affected to such a degree by a conduct such as his, you will, I
apprehend, suffer endless wounds and anguish; so be quick and dispel
this over-sensitive nature!"

"What you sisters advise me," replied Tai-y, "I shall bear in mind, and
it will be all right."

They had another chat, which lasted for some time, before they at length
retired to rest for the night.

The next day, (she and her cousins) got up at an early hour and went
over to pay their respects to dowager lady Chia, after which upon coming
to madame Wang's apartments, they happened to find madame Wang and
Hsi-feng together, opening the letters which had arrived from Chin Ling.
There were also in the room two married women, who had been sent from
madame Wang's elder brother's wife's house to deliver a message.

Tai-y was, it is true, not aware of what was up, but T'an Ch'un and the
others knew that they were discussing the son of her mother's sister,
married in the Hseh family, in the city of Chin Ling, a cousin of
theirs, Hseh P'an, who relying upon his wealth and influence had, by
assaulting a man, committed homicide, and who was now to be tried in the
court of the Ying T'ien Prefecture.

Her maternal uncle, Wang Tzu-t'eng, had now, on the receipt of the
tidings, despatched messengers to bring over the news to the Chia
family. But the next chapter will explain what was the ultimate issue of
the wish entertained in this mansion to send for the Hseh family to
come to the capital.


An ill-fated girl happens to meet an ill-fated young man.
The Hu Lu Bonze adjudicates the Hu Lu case.

Tai-y, for we shall now return to our story, having come, along with
her cousin to madame Wang's apartments, found madame Wang discussing
certain domestic occurrences with the messengers, who had arrived from
her elder brother's wife's home, and conversing also about the case of
homicide, in which the family of her mother's sister had become
involved, and other such relevant topics. Perceiving how pressing and
perplexing were the matters in which madame Wang was engaged, the young
ladies promptly left her apartments, and came over to the rooms of their
widow sister-in-law, Mrs. Li.

This Mrs. Li had originally been the spouse of Chia Chu. Although Chu
had died at an early age, he had the good fortune of leaving behind him
a son, to whom the name of Chia Lan was given. He was, at this period,
just in his fifth year, and had already entered school, and applied
himself to books.

This Mrs. Li was also the daughter of an official of note in Chin Ling.
Her father's name was Li Shou-chung, who had, at one time, been Imperial
Libationer. Among his kindred, men as well as women had all devoted
themselves to poetry and letters; but ever since Li Shou-chung continued
the line of succession, he readily asserted that the absence of literary
attainments in his daughter was indeed a virtue, so that it soon came
about that she did not apply herself in real earnest to learning; with
the result that all she studied were some parts of the "Four Books for
women," and the "Memoirs of excellent women," that all she read did not
extend beyond a limited number of characters, and that all she committed
to memory were the examples of these few worthy female characters of
dynasties of yore; while she attached special importance to spinning and
female handiwork. To this reason is to be assigned the name selected for
her, of Li Wan (Li, the weaver), and the style of Kung Ts'ai (Palace

Hence it was that, though this Li Wan still continued, after the loss of
her mate, while she was as yet in the spring of her life, to live amidst
affluence and luxury, she nevertheless resembled in every respect a
block of rotten wood or dead ashes. She had no inclination whatsoever to
inquire after anything or to listen to anything; while her sole and
exclusive thought was to wait upon her relatives and educate her son;
and, in addition to this, to teach her young sisters-in-law to do
needlework and to read aloud.

Tai-y was, it is true, at this period living as a guest in the Chia
mansion, where she certainly had the several young ladies to associate
with her, but, outside her aged father, (she thought) there was really
no need for her to extend affection to any of the rest.

But we will now speak of Chia Y-ts'un. Having obtained the appointment
of Prefect of Ying T'ien, he had no sooner arrived at his post than a
charge of manslaughter was laid before his court. This had arisen from
some rivalry between two parties in the purchase of a slave-girl, either
of whom would not yield his right; with the result that a serious
assault occurred, which ended in homicide.

Y-ts'un had, with all promptitude, the servants of the plaintiffs
brought before him, and subjected them to an examination.

"The victim of the assault," the plaintiffs deposed, "was your servants'
master. Having on a certain day, purchased a servant-girl, she
unexpectedly turned out to be a girl who had been carried away and sold
by a kidnapper. This kidnapper had, first of all, got hold of our
family's money, and our master had given out that he would on the third
day, which was a propitious day, take her over into the house, but
this kidnapper stealthily sold her over again to the Hseh family. When
we came to know of this, we went in search of the seller to lay hold of
him, and bring back the girl by force. But the Hseh party has been all
along _the_ bully of Chin Ling, full of confidence in his wealth,
full of presumption on account of his prestige; and his arrogant menials
in a body seized our master and beat him to death. The murderous master
and his crew have all long ago made good their escape, leaving no trace
behind them, while there only remain several parties not concerned in
the affair. Your servants have for a whole year lodged complaints, but
there has been no one to do our cause justice, and we therefore implore
your Lordship to have the bloodstained criminals arrested, and thus
conduce to the maintenance of humanity and benevolence; and the living,
as well as the dead, will feel boundless gratitude for this heavenly

When Y-ts'un heard their appeal, he flew into a fiery rage. "What!" he
exclaimed. "How could a case of such gravity have taken place as the
murder of a man, and the culprits have been allowed to run away
scot-free, without being arrested? Issue warrants, and despatch
constables to at once lay hold of the relatives of the bloodstained
criminals and bring them to be examined by means of torture."

Thereupon he espied a Retainer, who was standing by the judgment-table,
wink at him, signifying that he should not issue the warrants. Y-t'sun
gave way to secret suspicion, and felt compelled to desist.

Withdrawing from the Court-room, he retired into a private chamber, from
whence he dismissed his followers, only keeping this single Retainer to
wait upon him.

The Retainer speedily advanced and paid his obeisance. "Your worship,"
he said smiling, "has persistently been rising in official honours, and
increasing in wealth so that, in the course of about eight or nine
years, you have forgotten me."

"Your face is, however, extremely familiar," observed Y-ts'un, "but I
cannot, for the moment, recall who you are."

"Honourable people forget many things," remarked the Retainer, as he
smiled. "What! Have you even forgotten the place where you started in
life? and do you not remember what occurred, in years gone by, in the Hu
Lu Temple?"

Y-ts'un was filled with extreme astonishment; and past events then
began to dawn upon him.

The fact is that this Retainer had been at one time a young priest in
the Hu Lu temple; but as, after its destruction by fire, he had no place
to rest his frame, he remembered how light and easy was, after all, this
kind of occupation, and being unable to reconcile himself to the
solitude and quiet of a temple, he accordingly availed himself of his
years, which were as yet few, to let his hair grow, and become a

Y-ts'un had had no idea that it was he. Hastily taking his hand in his,
he smilingly observed, "You are, indeed, an old acquaintance!" and then
pressed him to take a seat, so as to have a chat with more ease, but the
Retainer would not presume to sit down.

"Friendships," Y-ts'un remarked, putting on a smiling expression,
"contracted in poor circumstances should not be forgotten! This is a
private room; so that if you sat down, what would it matter?"

The Retainer thereupon craved permission to take a seat, and sat down
gingerly, all awry.

"Why did you, a short while back," Y-ts'un inquired, "not allow me to
issue the warrants?"

"Your illustrious office," replied the Retainer, "has brought your
worship here, and is it likely you have not transcribed some philactery
of your post in this province!"

"What is an office-philactery?" asked Y-ts'un with alacrity.

"Now-a-days," explained the Retainer, "those who become local officers
provide themselves invariably with a secret list, in which are entered
the names and surnames of the most influential and affluent gentry of
note in the province. This is in vogue in every province. Should
inadvertently, at any moment, one give umbrage to persons of this
status, why, not only office, but I fear even one's life, it would be
difficult to preserve. That's why these lists are called
office-philacteries. This Hseh family, just a while back spoken of, how
could your worship presume to provoke? This case in question affords no
difficulties whatever in the way of a settlement; but the prefects, who
have held office before you, have all, by doing violence to the feelings
and good name of these people, come to the end they did."

As he uttered these words, he produced, from inside a purse which he had
handy, a transcribed office-philactery, which he handed over to
Y-ts'un; who upon perusal, found it full of trite and unpolished
expressions of public opinion, with regard to the leading clans and
notable official families in that particular district. They ran as

The "Chia" family is not "chia," a myth; white jade form the Halls; gold
compose their horses! The "A Fang" Palace is three hundred li in extent,
but is no fit residence for a "Shih" of Chin Ling. The eastern seas lack
white jade beds, and the "Lung Wang," king of the Dragons, has come to
ask for one of the Chin Ling Wang, (Mr. Wang of Chin Ling.) In a
plenteous year, snow, (Hseh,) is very plentiful; their pearls and gems
are like sand, their gold like iron.

Scarcely had Y-ts'un done reading, when suddenly was heard the
announcement, communicated by the beating of a gong, that Mr. Wang had
come to pay his respects.

Y-ts'un hastily adjusted his official clothes and hat, and went out of
the room to greet and receive the visitor. Returning after a short while
he proceeded to question the Retainer (about what he had been perusing.)

"These four families," explained the Retainer, "are all interlaced by
ties of relationship, so that if you offend one, you offend all; if you
honour one, you honour all. For support and protection, they all have
those to take care of their interests! Now this Hseh, who is charged
with homicide, is indeed the Hseh implied by 'in a plenteous year,
(Hseh,) snow, is very plentiful.' In fact, not only has he these three
families to rely upon, but his (father's) old friends, and his own
relatives and friends are both to be found in the capital, as well as
abroad in the provinces; and they are, what is more, not few in number.
Who is it then that your Worship purposes having arrested?"

When Y-ts'un had heard these remarks, he forthwith put on a smile and
inquired of the Retainer, "If what you say be true, how is then this
lawsuit to be settled? Are you also perchance well aware of the place of
retreat of this homicide?"

"I don't deceive your Worship," the Retainer ventured smiling, "when I
say that not only do I know the hiding-place of this homicide, but that
I also am acquainted with the man who kidnapped and sold the girl; I
likewise knew full well the poor devil and buyer, now deceased. But
wait, and I'll tell your worship all, with full details. This person,
who succumbed to the assault, was the son of a minor gentry. His name
was Feng Yan. His father and mother are both deceased, and he has
likewise no brothers. He looked after some scanty property in order to
eke out a living. His age was eighteen or nineteen; and he had a strong
penchant for men's, and not much for women's society. But this was too
the retribution (for sins committed) in a previous existence! for
coming, by a strange coincidence, in the way of this kidnapper, who was
selling the maid, he straightway at a glance fell in love with this
girl, and made up his mind to purchase her and make her his second wife;
entering an oath not to associate with any male friends, nor even to
marry another girl. And so much in earnest was he in this matter that he
had to wait until after the third day before she could enter his
household (so as to make the necessary preparations for the marriage).
But who would have foreseen the issue? This kidnapper quietly disposed
of her again by sale to the Hseh family; his intention being to pocket
the price-money from both parties, and effect his escape. Contrary to
his calculations, he couldn't after all run away in time, and the two
buyers laid hold of him and beat him, till he was half dead; but neither
of them would take his coin back, each insisting upon the possession of
the girl. But do you think that young gentleman, Mr. Hseh, would yield
his claim to her person? Why, he at once summoned his servants and bade
them have recourse to force; and, taking this young man Feng, they
assailed him till they made mincemeat of him. He was then carried back
to his home, where he finally died after the expiry of three days. This
young Mr. Hseh had previously chosen a day, on which he meant to set
out for the capital, and though he had beaten the young man Feng to
death, and carried off the girl, he nevertheless behaved in the manner
of a man who had had no concern in the affair. And all he gave his mind
to was to take his family and go along on his way; but not in any wise
in order to evade (the consequences) of this (occurrence). This case of
homicide, (he looked upon) as a most trivial and insignificant matter,
which, (he thought), his brother and servants, who were on the spot,
would be enough to settle. But, however, enough of this person. Now does
your worship know who this girl is who was sold?"

"How could I possibly know?" answered Y-ts'un.

"And yet," remarked the Retainer, as he laughed coldly, "this is a
person to whom you are indebted for great obligations; for she is no one
else than the daughter of Mr. Chen, who lived next door to the Hu Lu
temple. Her infant name is 'Ying Lien.'"

"What! is it really she?" exclaimed Y-ts'un full of surprise. "I heard
that she had been kidnapped, ever since she was five years old; but has
she only been sold recently?"

"Kidnappers of this kind," continued the Retainer, "only abduct infant
girls, whom they bring up till they reach the age of twelve or thirteen,
when they take them into strange districts and dispose of them through
their agents. In days gone by, we used daily to coax this girl, Ying
Lien, to romp with us, so that we got to be exceedingly friendly. Hence
it is that though, with the lapse of seven or eight years, her mien has
assumed a more surpassingly lovely appearance, her general features
have, on the other hand, undergone no change; and this is why I can
recognise her. Besides, in the centre of her two eyebrows, she had a
spot, of the size of a grain of rice, of carnation colour, which she has
had ever since she was born into the world. This kidnapper, it also
happened, rented my house to live in; and on a certain day, on which the
kidnapper was not at home, I even set her a few questions. She said,
'that the kidnapper had so beaten her, that she felt intimidated, and
couldn't on any account, venture to speak out; simply averring that the
kidnapper was her own father, and that, as he had no funds to repay his
debts, he had consequently disposed of her by sale!' I tried time after
time to induce her to answer me, but she again gave way to tears and
added no more than: 'I don't really remember anything of my youth.' Of
this, anyhow, there can be no doubt; on a certain day the young man Feng
and the kidnapper met, said the money was paid down; but as the
kidnapper happened to be intoxicated, Ying Lien exclaimed, as she
sighed: 'My punishment has this day been consummated!' Later on again,
when she heard that young Feng would, after three days, have her taken
over to his house, she once more underwent a change and put on such a
sorrowful look that, unable to brook the sight of it, I waited till the
kidnapper went out, when I again told my wife to go and cheer her by
representing to her that this Mr. Feng's fixed purpose to wait for a
propitious day, on which to come and take her over, was ample proof that
he would not look upon her as a servant-girl. 'Furthermore,' (explained
my wife to her), 'he is a sort of person exceedingly given to fast
habits, and has at home ample means to live upon, so that if, besides,
with his extreme aversion to women, he actually purchases you now, at a
fancy price, you should be able to guess the issue, without any
explanation. You have to bear suspense only for two or three days, and
what need is there to be sorrowful and dejected?' After these
assurances, she became somewhat composed, flattering herself that she
would from henceforth have a home of her own.

"But who would believe that the world is but full of disappointments! On
the succeeding day, it came about that the kidnapper again sold her to
the Hseh family! Had he disposed of her to any other party, no harm
would anyhow have resulted; but this young gentleman Hseh, who is
nicknamed by all, 'the Foolish and overbearing Prince,' is the most
perverse and passionate being in the whole world. What is more, he
throws money away as if it were dust. The day on which he gave the
thrashing with blows like falling leaves and flowing water, he dragged
(_lit_. pull alive, drag dead) Ying Lien away more dead than alive,
by sheer force, and no one, even up to this date, is aware whether she
be among the dead or the living. This young Feng had a spell of empty
happiness; for (not only) was his wish not fulfilled, but on the
contrary he spent money and lost his life; and was not this a lamentable

When Y-ts'un heard this account he also heaved a sigh. "This was
indeed," he observed, "a retribution in store for them! Their encounter
was likewise not accidental; for had it been, how was it that this Feng
Yan took a fancy to Ying Lien?

"This Ying Lien had, during all these years, to endure much harsh
treatment from the hands of the kidnapper, and had, at length, obtained
the means of escape; and being besides full of warm feeling, had he
actually made her his wife, and had they come together, the event would
certainly have been happy; but, as luck would have it, there occurred
again this contretemps.

"This Hseh is, it is true, more laden with riches and honours than Feng
was, but when we bear in mind what kind of man he is he certainly, with
his large bevy of handmaids, and his licentious and inordinate habits,
cannot ever be held equal to Feng Yan, who had set his heart upon one
person! This may appositely be termed a fantastic sentimental destiny,
which, by a strange coincidence, befell a couple consisting of an
ill-fated young fellow and girl! But why discuss third parties? The only
thing now is how to decide this case, so as to put things right."

"Your worship," remarked the Retainer smiling, "displayed, in years gone
by, such great intelligence and decision, and how is it that today you,
on the contrary, become a person without any resources! Your servant has
heard that the promotion of your worship to fill up this office is due
to the exertions of the Chia and Wang families; and as this Hseh P'an
is a relative of the Chia mansion, why doesn't your worship take your
craft along with the stream, and bring, by the performance of a
kindness, this case to an issue, so that you may again in days to come,
be able to go and face the two Dukes Chia and Wang?"

"What you suggest," replied Y-ts'un, "is, of course, right enough; but
this case involves a human life, and honoured as I have been, by His
Majesty the Emperor, by a restoration to office, and selection to an
appointment, how can I at the very moment, when I may strain all my
energies to show my gratitude, by reason of a private consideration, set
the laws at nought? This is a thing which I really haven't the courage
to do."

"What your worship says is naturally right and proper," remarked the
Retainer at these words, smiling sarcastically, "but at the present
stage of the world, such things cannot be done. Haven't you heard the
saying of a man of old to the effect that great men take action suitable
to the times. 'He who presses,' he adds, 'towards what is auspicious and
avoids what is inauspicious is a perfect man.' From what your worship
says, not only you couldn't, by any display of zeal, repay your
obligation to His Majesty, but, what is more, your own life you will
find it difficult to preserve. There are still three more considerations
necessary to insure a safe settlement."

Y-ts'un drooped his head for a considerable time.

"What is there in your idea to be done?" he at length inquired.

"Your servant," responded the Retainer, "has already devised a most
excellent plan. It's this: To-morrow, when your Lordship sits in court,
you should, merely for form's sake, make much ado, by despatching
letters and issuing warrants for the arrest of the culprits. The
murderer will naturally not be forthcoming; and as the plaintiffs will
be strong in their displeasure, you will of course have some members of
the clan of the Hseh family, together with a few servants and others,
taken into custody, and examined under torture, when your servant will
be behind the scenes to bring matters to a settlement, by bidding them
report that the victim had succumbed to a sudden ailment, and by urging
the whole number of the kindred, as well as the headmen of the place, to
hand in a declaration to that effect. Your Worship can aver that you
understand perfectly how to write charms in dust, and conjure the
spirit; having had an altar, covered with dust, placed in the court, you
should bid the military and people to come and look on to their heart's
content. Your Worship can give out that the divining spirit has
declared: 'that the deceased, Feng Yan, and Hseh P'an had been enemies
in a former life, that having now met in the narrow road, their
destinies were consummated; that Hseh P'an has, by this time,
contracted some indescribable disease and perished from the effects of
the persecution of the spirit of Feng.' That as the calamity had
originated entirely from the action of the kidnapper, exclusive of
dealing with the kidnapper according to law, the rest need not be
interfered with, and so on. Your servant will be in the background to
speak to the kidnapper and urge him to make a full confession; and when
people find that the response of the divining spirit harmonizes with the
statements of the kidnapper, they will, as a matter of course, entertain
no suspicion.

"The Hseh family have plenty of money, so that if your Worship
adjudicates that they should pay five hundred, they can afford it, or
one thousand will also be within their means; and this sum can be handed
to the Feng family to meet the outlay of burning incense and burial
expenses. The Feng family are, besides, people of not much consequence,
and (the fuss made by them) being simply for money, they too will, when
they have got the cash in hand, have nothing more to say. But may it
please your worship to consider carefully this plan and see what you
think of it?"

"It isn't a safe course! It isn't a safe course!" Y-ts'un observed as
he smiled. "Let me further think and deliberate; and possibly by
succeeding in suppressing public criticism, the matter might also be

These two closed their consultation by a fixed determination, and the
next day, when he sat in judgment, he marked off a whole company of the
plaintiffs as well as of the accused, as were mentioned by name, and had
them brought before him. Y-ts'un examined them with additional
minuteness, and discovered in point of fact, that the inmates of the
Feng family were extremely few, that they merely relied upon this charge
with the idea of obtaining some compensation for joss-sticks and
burials; and that the Hseh family, presuming on their prestige and
confident of patronage, had been obstinate in the refusal to make any
mutual concession, with the result that confusion had supervened, and
that no decision had been arrived at.

Following readily the bent of his feelings, Y-ts'un disregarded the
laws, and adjudicated this suit in a random way; and as the Feng family
came in for a considerable sum, with which to meet the expense for
incense and the funeral, they had, after all, not very much to say (in
the way of objections.)

With all despatch, Y-ts'un wrote and forwarded two letters, one to Chia
Cheng, and the other to Wang Tzu-t'eng, at that time commander-in-chief
of a Metropolitan Division, simply informing them: that the case, in
which their worthy nephew was concerned, had come to a close, and that
there was no need for them to give way to any extreme solicitude.

This case had been settled through the exclusive action of the young
priest of the Hu Lu temple, now an official Retainer; and Y-ts'un,
apprehending, on the other hand, lest he might in the presence of
others, divulge the circumstances connected with the days gone by, when
he was in a state of penury, naturally felt very unhappy in his mind.
But at a later period, he succeeded, by ultimately finding in him some
shortcoming, and deporting him to a far-away place, in setting his fears
at rest.

But we will put Y-ts'un on one side, and refer to the young man Hseh,
who purchased Ying Lien, and assaulted Feng Yuan to death.

He too was a native of Chin Ling and belonged to a family literary
during successive generations; but this young Hseh had recently, when
of tender age, lost his father, and his widowed mother out of pity for
his being the only male issue and a fatherless child, could not help
doating on him and indulging him to such a degree, that when he, in
course of time, grew up to years of manhood, he was good for nothing.

In their home, furthermore, was the wealth of a millionaire, and they
were, at this time, in receipt of an income from His Majesty's privy
purse, for the purvey of various articles.

This young Hseh went at school under the name of P'an. His style was
Wen Ch'i. His natural habits were extravagant; his language haughty and
supercilious. He had, of course, also been to school, but all he knew
was a limited number of characters, and those not well. The whole day
long, his sole delight was in cock-fighting and horse-racing, rambling
over hills and doing the sights.

Though a Purveyor, by Imperial appointment, he had not the least idea of
anything relating to matters of business or of the world. All he was
good for was: to take advantage of the friendships enjoyed by his
grandfather in days of old, to present himself at the Board of Revenue
to perfunctorily sign his name and to draw the allowance and rations;
while the rest of his affairs he, needless to say, left his partners and
old servants of the family to manage for him.

His widowed mother, a Miss Wang, was the youngest sister of Wang
Tzu-t'eng, whose present office was that of Commander-in-Chief of a
Metropolitan Division; and was, with Madame Wang, the spouse of Chia
Cheng, of the Jung Kuo Mansion, sisters born of one mother. She was, in
this year, more or less forty years of age and had only one son: this
Hseh P'an.

She also had a daughter, who was two years younger than Hseh P'an, and
whose infant name was Pao Ch'ai. She was beautiful in appearance, and
elegant and refined in deportment. In days gone by, when her father
lived, he was extremely fond of this girl, and had her read books and
study characters, so that, as compared with her brother, she was
actually a hundred times his superior. Having become aware, ever since
her father's death, that her brother could not appease the anguish of
her mother's heart, she at once dispelled all thoughts of books, and
gave her sole mind to needlework, to the menage and other such concerns,
so as to be able to participate in her mother's sorrow, and to bear the
fatigue in lieu of her.

As of late the Emperor on the Throne held learning and propriety in high
esteem, His Majesty called together and singled out talent and ability,
upon which he deigned to display exceptional grace and favour. Besides
the number called forth from private life and chosen as Imperial
secondary wives, the daughters of families of hereditary official status
and renown were without exception, reported by name to the authorities,
and communicated to the Board, in anticipation of the selection for
maids in waiting to the Imperial Princesses and daughters of Imperial
Princes in their studies, and for filling up the offices of persons of
eminence, to urge them to become excellent.

Ever since the death of Hseh P'an's father, the various assistants,
managers and partners, and other employes in the respective provinces,
perceiving how youthful Hseh P'an was in years, and how much he lacked
worldly experience, readily availed themselves of the time to begin
swindling and defrauding. The business, carried on in various different
places in the capital, gradually also began to fall off and to show a

Hseh P'an had all along heard that the capital was the _one_ place
for gaieties, and was just entertaining the idea of going on a visit,
when he eagerly jumped at the opportunity (that presented itself,) first
of all to escort his sister, who was going to wait for the selection, in
the second place to see his relatives, and in the third to enter
personally the capital, (professedly) to settle up long-standing
accounts, and to make arrangements for new outlays, but, in reality,
with the sole purpose of seeing the life and splendour of the

He therefore, had, at an early period, got ready his baggage and small
luggage, as well as the presents for relatives and friends, things of
every description of local production, presents in acknowledgment of
favours received, and other such effects, and he was about to choose a
day to start on his journey when unexpectedly he came in the way of the
kidnapper who offered Ying Lien for sale. As soon as Hseh P'an saw how
_distingue_ Ying Lien was in her appearance, he formed the
resolution of buying her; and when he encountered Feng Yan, come with
the object of depriving him of her, he in the assurance of superiority,
called his sturdy menials together, who set upon Feng Yan and beat him
to death. Forthwith collecting all the affairs of the household, and
entrusting them one by one to the charge of some members of the clan and
several elderly servants of the family, he promptly took his mother,
sister and others and after all started on his distant journey, while
the charge of homicide he, however, treated as child's play, flattering
himself that if he spent a few filthy pieces of money, there was no
doubt as to its settlement.

He had been on his journey how many days, he had not reckoned, when, on
a certain day, as they were about to enter the capital, he furthermore
heard that his maternal uncle, Wang Tzu-t'eng, had been raised to the
rank of Supreme Governor of nine provinces, and had been honoured with
an Imperial command to leave the capital and inspect the frontiers.

Hseh P'an was at heart secretly elated. "I was just lamenting," he
thought, "that on my visit to the capital, I would have my maternal
uncle to exercise control over me, and that I wouldn't be able to gambol
and frisk to my heart's content, but now that he is leaving the capital,
on promotion, it's evident that Heaven accomplishes man's wishes."

As he consequently held consultation with his mother; "Though we have,"
he argued, "several houses of our own in the capital, yet for these last
ten years or so, there has been no one to live in them, and the people
charged with the looking after them must unavoidably have stealthily
rented them to some one or other. It's therefore needful to let servants
go ahead to sweep and get the place in proper order, before we can very
well go ourselves."

"What need is there to go to such trouble?" retorted his mother; "the
main object of our present visit to the capital is first of all to pay
our respects to our relatives and friends; and it is, either at your
elder uncle's, my brother's place, or at your other uncle's, my sister's
husband's home, both of which families' houses are extremely spacious,
that we can put up provisionally, and by and bye, at our ease, we can
send servants to make our house tidy. Now won't this be a considerable
saving of trouble?"

"My uncle, your brother," suggested Hseh P'an, "has just been raised to
an appointment in an outside province, so that, of course, in his house,
things must be topsy-turvey, on account of his departure; and should we
betake ourselves, like a hive of bees and a long trail, to him for
shelter; won't we appear very inconsiderate?"

"Your uncle," remarked his mother, "is, it is true, going on promotion,
but there's besides the house of your aunt, my sister. What is more,
during these last few years from both your uncle's and aunt's have, time
after time, been sent messages, and letters forwarded, asking us to come
over; and now that we've come, is it likely, though your uncle is busy
with his preparations to start on his journey, that your aunt of the
Chia family won't do all she can to press us to stay? Besides, were we
to have our house got ready in a scramble, won't it make people think it
strange? I however know your idea very well that were we kept to stay at
your uncle's and aunt's, you won't escape being under strict restraint,
unlike what would be the case were we to live in our own house, as you
would be free then to act as you please! Such being the case, go, on
your own account, and choose some place to take up your quarters in,
while I myself, who have been separated from your aunt and cousins for
these several years, would however like to stay with them for a few
days; and I'll go along with your sister and look up your aunt at her
home. What do you say; will this suit you or not?"

Hseh P'an, upon hearing his mother speak in this strain, knew well
enough that he could not bring her round from her determination; and he
had no help but to issue the necessary directions to the servants to
make straight for the Jung Kuo mansion. Madame Wang had by this time
already come to know that in the lawsuit, in which Hseh P'an was
concerned, Chia Y-ts'un had fortunately intervened and lent his good
offices, and was at length more composed in her mind. But when she again
saw that her eldest brother had been advanced to a post on the frontier,
she was just deploring that, deprived of the intercourse of the
relatives of her mother's family, how doubly lonely she would feel;
when, after the lapse of a few days, some one of the household brought
the unexpected announcement that "our lady, your sister, has, with the
young gentleman, the young lady and her whole household, entered the
capital and have dismounted from their vehicles outside the main
entrance." This news so delighted madame Wang that she rushed out, with
a few attendants, to greet them in the large Entrance Hall, and brought
Mrs. Hseh and the others into her house.

The two sisters were now reunited, at an advanced period of their lives,
so that mixed feelings of sorrow and joy thronged together, but on these
it is, of course, needless to dilate.

After conversing for a time on what had occurred, subsequent to their
separation, madame Wang took them to pay their obeisance to dowager lady
Chia. They then handed over the various kinds of presents and indigenous
articles, and after the whole family had been introduced, a banquet was
also spread to greet the guests.

Hseh P'an, having paid his respects to Chia Cheng and Chia Lien, was
likewise taken to see Chia She, Chia Chen and the other members.

Chia Cheng sent a messenger to tell madame Wang that "'aunt' Hseh had
already seen many springs and autumns, while their nephew was of tender
age, with no experience, so that there was every fear, were he to live
outside, that something would again take place. In the South-east corner
of our compound," (he sent word,) "there are in the Pear Fragrance
Court, over ten apartments, all of which are vacant and lying idle; and
were we to tell the servants to sweep them, and invite 'aunt' Hseh and
the young gentleman and lady to take up their quarters there, it would
be an extremely wise thing."

Madame Wang had in fact been entertaining the wish to keep them to live
with them, when dowager lady Chia also sent some one to say that, "Mrs.
Hseh should be asked to put up in the mansion in order that a greater
friendliness should exist between them all."

Mrs. Hseh herself had all along been desirous to live in one place with
her relatives, so as to be able to keep a certain check over her son,
fearing that, if they lived in a separate house outside, the natural
bent of his habits would run riot, and that some calamity would be
brought on; and she therefore, there and then, expressed her sense of
appreciation, and accepted the invitation. She further privately told
madame Wang in clear terms, that every kind of daily expense and general
contribution would have to be entirely avoided and withdrawn as that
would be the only thing to justify her to make any protracted stay. And
madame Wang aware that she had, in her home, no difficulty in this line,
promptly in fact complied with her wishes.

From this date it was that "aunt" Hseh and her children took up their
quarters in the Pear Fragrance Court.

This Court of Pear Fragrance had, we must explain, been at one time used
as a place for the quiet retirement of the Duke Jung in his advanced
years. It was on a small scale, but ingeniously laid out. There were, at
least, over ten structures. The front halls and the back houses were all
in perfect style. There was a separate door giving on to the street, and
the people of the household of Hseh P'an used this door to go in and
out. At the south-west quarter, there was also a side door, which
communicated with a narrow roadway. Beyond this narrow road, was the
eastern court of madame Wang's principal apartment; so that every day,
either after her repast, or in the evening, Mrs. Hseh would readily
come over and converse, on one thing and another, with dowager lady
Chia, or have a chat with madame Wang; while Pao-ch'ai came together,
day after day, with Tai y, Ying-ch'un, her sisters and the other girls,
either to read, to play chess, or to do needlework, and the pleasure
which they derived was indeed perfect.

Hseh P'an however had all along from the first instance, been loth to
live in the Chia mansion, as he dreaded that with the discipline
enforced by his uncle, he would not be able to be his own master; but
his mother had made up her mind so positively to remain there, and what
was more, every one in the Chia mansion was most pressing in their
efforts to keep them, that there was no alternative for him but to take
up his quarters temporarily there, while he at the same time directed
servants to go and sweep the apartments of their own house, with a view
that they should move into them when they were ready.

But, contrary to expectation, after they had been in their quarters for
not over a month, Hseh P'an came to be on intimate relations with all
the young men among the kindred of the Chia mansion, the half of whom
were extravagant in their habits, so that great was, of course, his
delight to frequent them. To-day, they would come together to drink
wine; the next day to look at flowers. They even assembled to gamble, to
dissipate and to go everywhere and anywhere; leading, with all their
enticements, Hseh P'an so far astray, that he became far worse, by a
hundred times, than he was hitherto.

Although it must be conceded that Chia Cheng was in the education of his
children quite correct, and in the control of his family quite
systematic, yet in the first place, the clan was so large and the
members so numerous, that he was unable to attend to the entire
supervision; and, in the second place, the head of the family, at this
period, was Chia Chen, who, as the eldest grandchild of the Ning
mansion, had likewise now come into the inheritance of the official
status, with the result that all matters connected with the clan
devolved upon his sole and exclusive control. In the third place, public
as well as private concerns were manifold and complex, and being a man
of negligent disposition, he estimated ordinary affairs of so little
consequence that any respite from his official duties he devoted to no
more than the study of books and the playing of chess.

Furthermore, this Pear Fragrance Court was separated by two rows of
buildings from his quarters and was also provided with a separate door
opening into the street, so that, being able at their own heart's desire
to go out and to come in, these several young fellows could well indulge
their caprices, and gratify the bent of their minds.

Hence it was that Hseh P'an, in course of time gradually extinguished
from his memory every idea of shifting their quarters.

But what transpired, on subsequent days, the following chapter will


The spirit of Chia Pao-y visits the confines of the Great Void.
The Monitory Vision Fairy expounds, in ballads, the Dream of the Red

Having in the fourth Chapter explained, to some degree, the
circumstances attending the settlement of the mother and children of the
Hseh family in the Jung mansion, and other incidental matters, we will
now revert to Lin Tai-y.

Ever since her arrival in the Jung mansion, dowager lady Chia showed her
the highest sympathy and affection, so that in everything connected with
sleeping, eating, rising and accommodation she was on the same footing
as Pao-y; with the result that Ying Ch'un, Hsi Ch'un and T'an Ch'un,
her three granddaughters, had after all to take a back seat. In fact,
the intimate and close friendliness and love which sprung up between the
two persons Pao-y and Tai-y, was, in the same degree, of an
exceptional kind, as compared with those existing between the others. By
daylight they were wont to walk together, and to sit together. At night,
they would desist together, and rest together. Really it was a case of
harmony in language and concord in ideas, of the consistency of varnish
or of glue, (a close friendship), when at this unexpected juncture there
came this girl, Hseh Pao-ch'ai, who, though not very much older in
years (than the others), was, nevertheless, in manner so correct, and in
features so beautiful that the consensus of opinion was that Tai-y
herself could not come up to her standard.

What is more, in her ways Pao-Ch'ai was so full of good tact, so
considerate and accommodating, so unlike Tai-y, who was supercilious,
self-confident, and without any regard for the world below, that the
natural consequence was that she soon completely won the hearts of the
lower classes. Even the whole number of waiting-maids would also for the
most part, play and joke with Pao-ch'ai. Hence it was that Tai-y
fostered, in her heart, considerable feelings of resentment, but of this
however Pao-ch'ai had not the least inkling.

Pao-y was, likewise, in the prime of his boyhood, and was, besides, as
far as the bent of his natural disposition was concerned, in every
respect absurd and perverse; regarding his cousins, whether male or
female, one and all with one common sentiment, and without any
distinction whatever between the degrees of distant or close
relationship. Sitting and sleeping, as he now was under the same roof
with Tai-y in dowager lady Chia's suite of rooms, he naturally became
comparatively more friendly with her than with his other cousins; and
this friendliness led to greater intimacy and this intimacy once
established, rendered unavoidable the occurrence of the blight of
harmony from unforeseen slight pretexts.

These two had had on this very day, for some unknown reason, words
between them more or less unfriendly, and Tai-y was again sitting all
alone in her room, giving way to tears. Pao-y was once more within
himself quite conscience-smitten for his ungraceful remarks, and coming
forward, he humbly made advances, until, at length, Tai-y little by
little came round.

As the plum blossom, in the eastern part of the garden of the Ning
mansion, was in full bloom, Chia Chen's spouse, Mrs. Yu, made
preparations for a collation, (purposing) to send invitations to dowager
lady Chia, mesdames Hsing, and Wang, and the other members of the
family, to come and admire the flowers; and when the day arrived the
first thing she did was to take Chia Jung and his wife, the two of them,
and come and ask them round in person. Dowager lady Chia and the other
inmates crossed over after their early meal; and they at once promenaded
the Hui Fang (Concentrated Fragrance) Garden. First tea was served, and
next wine; but the entertainment was no more than a family banquet of
the kindred of the two mansions of Ning and Jung, so that there was a
total lack of any novel or original recreation that could be put on

After a little time, Pao-y felt tired and languid and inclined for his
midday siesta. "Take good care," dowager lady Chia enjoined some of
them, "and stay with him, while he rests for a while, when he can come
back;" whereupon Chia Jung's wife, Mrs. Ch'in, smiled and said with
eagerness: "We got ready in here a room for uncle Pao, so let your
venerable ladyship set your mind at ease. Just hand him over to my
charge, and he will be quite safe. Mothers and sisters," she continued,
addressing herself to Pao-y's nurses and waiting maids, "invite uncle
Pao to follow me in here."

Dowager lady Chia had always been aware of the fact that Mrs. Ch'in was
a most trustworthy person, naturally courteous and scrupulous, and in
every action likewise so benign and gentle; indeed the most estimable
among the whole number of her great grandsons' wives, so that when she
saw her about to go and attend to Pao-y, she felt that, for a
certainty, everything would be well.

Mrs. Ch'in, there and then, led away a company of attendants, and came
into the rooms inside the drawing room. Pao-y, upon raising his head,
and catching sight of a picture hung on the upper wall, representing a
human figure, in perfect style, the subject of which was a portrait of
Yen Li, speedily felt his heart sink within him.

There was also a pair of scrolls, the text of which was:

A thorough insight into worldly matters arises from knowledge;
A clear perception of human nature emanates from literary lore.

On perusal of these two sentences, albeit the room was sumptuous and
beautifully laid out, he would on no account remain in it. "Let us go at
once," he hastened to observe, "let us go at once."

Mrs. Ch'in upon hearing his objections smiled. "If this," she said, "is
really not nice, where are you going? if you won't remain here, well
then come into my room."

Pao-y nodded his head and gave a faint grin.

"Where do you find the propriety," a nurse thereupon interposed, "of an
uncle going to sleep in the room of a nephew's wife?"

"Ai ya!" exclaimed Mrs. Ch'in laughing, "I don't mind whether he gets
angry or not (at what I say); but how old can he be as to reverentially
shun all these things? Why my brother was with me here last month;
didn't you see him? he's, true enough, of the same age as uncle Pao, but
were the two of them to stand side by side, I suspect that he would be
much higher in stature."

"How is it," asked Pao-y, "that I didn't see him? Bring him along and
let me have a look at him!"

"He's separated," they all ventured as they laughed, "by a distance of
twenty or thirty li, and how can he be brought along? but you'll see him
some day."

As they were talking, they reached the interior of Mrs. Ch'in's
apartments. As soon as they got in, a very faint puff of sweet fragrance
was wafted into their nostrils. Pao-y readily felt his eyes itch and
his bones grow weak. "What a fine smell!" he exclaimed several
consecutive times.

Upon entering the apartments, and gazing at the partition wall, he saw a
picture the handiwork of T'ang Po-hu, consisting of Begonias drooping in
the spring time; on either side of which was one of a pair of scrolls,
written by Ch'in Tai-hs, a Literary Chancellor of the Sung era, running
as follows:

A gentle chill doth circumscribe the dreaming man, because the spring
is cold.
The fragrant whiff, which wafts itself into man's nose, is the perfume
of wine!

On the table was a mirror, one which had been placed, in days of yore,
in the Mirror Palace of the Emperor Wu Tse-t'ien. On one side stood a
gold platter, in which Fei Yen, who lived in the Ch'ao state, used to
stand and dance. In this platter, was laid a quince, which An Lu-shan
had flung at the Empress T'ai Chen, inflicting a wound on her breast. In
the upper part of the room, stood a divan ornamented with gems, on which
the Emperor's daughter, Shou Ch'ang, was wont to sleep, in the Han Chang
Palace Hanging, were curtains embroidered with strings of pearls, by
T'ung Ch'ang, the Imperial Princess.

"It's nice in here, it's nice in here," exclaimed Pao-y with a chuckle.

"This room of mine," observed Mrs. Ch'in smilingly, "is I think, good
enough for even spirits to live in!" and, as she uttered these words,
she with her own hands, opened a gauze coverlet, which had been washed
by Hsi Shih, and removed a bridal pillow, which had been held in the
arms of Hung Niang. Instantly, the nurses attended to Pao-y, until he
had laid down comfortably; when they quietly dispersed, leaving only the
four waiting maids: Hsi Jen, Ch'iu Wen, Ch'ing Wen and She Yueh to keep
him company.

"Mind be careful, as you sit under the eaves," Mrs. Ch'in recommended
the young waiting maids, "that the cats do not start a fight!"

Pao-y then closed his eyes, and, little by little, became drowsy, and
fell asleep.

It seemed to him just as if Mrs. Ch'in was walking ahead of him.
Forthwith, with listless and unsettled step, he followed Mrs. Ch'in to
some spot or other, where he saw carnation-like railings, jade-like
steps, verdant trees and limpid pools--a spot where actually no trace of
any human being could be met with, where of the shifting mundane dust
little had penetrated.

Pao-y felt, in his dream, quite delighted. "This place," he mused, "is
pleasant, and I may as well spend my whole lifetime in here! though I
may have to lose my home, I'm quite ready for the sacrifice, for it's
far better being here than being flogged, day after day, by father,
mother, and teacher."

While he pondered in this erratic strain, he suddenly heard the voice of
some human being at the back of the rocks, giving vent to this song:

Like scattering clouds doth fleet a vernal dream;
The transient flowers pass like a running stream;
Maidens and youths bear this, ye all, in mind;
In useless grief what profit will ye find?

Pao-y perceived that the voice was that of a girl. The song was barely
at an end, when he soon espied in the opposite direction, a beautiful
girl advancing with majestic and elastic step; a girl quite unlike any
ordinary mortal being. There is this poem, which gives an adequate
description of her:

Lo she just quits the willow bank; and sudden now she issues from the
flower-bedecked house;
As onward alone she speeds, she startles the birds perched in the
trees, by the pavilion; to which as she draws nigh, her shadow
flits by the verandah!
Her fairy clothes now flutter in the wind! a fragrant perfume like
unto musk or olea is wafted in the air; Her apparel lotus-like is
sudden wont to move; and the jingle of her ornaments strikes the
Her dimpled cheeks resemble, as they smile, a vernal peach; her
kingfisher coiffure is like a cumulus of clouds; her lips part
cherry-like; her pomegranate-like teeth conceal a fragrant
Her slender waist, so beauteous to look at, is like the skipping snow
wafted by a gust of wind; the sheen of her pearls and kingfisher
trinkets abounds with splendour, green as the feathers of a duck,
and yellow as the plumes of a goose;
Now she issues to view, and now is hidden among the flowers; beautiful
she is when displeased, beautiful when in high spirits; with
lissome step, she treads along the pond, as if she soars on wings
or sways in the air.
Her eyebrows are crescent moons, and knit under her smiles; she
speaks, and yet she seems no word to utter; her lotus-like feet
with ease pursue their course; she stops, and yet she seems still
to be in motion; the charms of her figure all vie with ice in
purity, and in splendour with precious gems; Lovely is her
brilliant attire, so full of grandeur and refined grace.
Loveable her countenance, as if moulded from some fragrant substance,
or carved from white jade; elegant is her person, like a phoenix,
dignified like a dragon soaring high.
What is her chastity like? Like a white plum in spring with snow
nestling in its broken skin; Her purity? Like autumn orchids
bedecked with dewdrops.
Her modesty? Like a fir-tree growing in a barren plain; Her
comeliness? Like russet clouds reflected in a limpid pool.
Her gracefulness? Like a dragon in motion wriggling in a stream;
Her refinement? Like the rays of the moon shooting on to a cool
Sure is she to put Hsi Tzu to shame! Bound to put Wang Ch'iang to the
blush! What a remarkable person! Where was she born? and whence
does she come?
One thing is true that in Fairy-land there is no second like her! that
in the Purple Courts of Heaven there is no one fit to be her peer!
Forsooth, who can it be, so surpassingly beautiful!

Pao-y, upon realising that she was a fairy, was much elated; and with
eagerness advanced and made a bow.

"My divine sister," he ventured, as he put on a smile. "I don't know
whence you come, and whither you are going. Nor have I any idea what
this place is, but I make bold to entreat that you would take my hand
and lead me on."

"My abode," replied the Fairy, "is above the Heavens of Divested
Animosities, and in the ocean of Discharged Sorrows. I'm the Fairy of
Monitory Vision, of the cave of Drooping Fragrance, in the mount of
Emitted Spring, within the confines of the Great Void. I preside over
the voluptuous affections and sensual debts among the mortal race, and
supervise in the dusty world, the envies of women and the lusts of man.
It's because I've recently come to hear that the retribution for
voluptuousness extends up to this place, that I betake myself here in
order to find suitable opportunities of disseminating mutual affections.
My encounter with you now is also not a matter of accident! This spot is
not distant from my confines. I have nothing much there besides a cup of
the tender buds of tea plucked by my own hands, and a pitcher of
luscious wine, fermented by me as well as several spritelike singing and
dancing maidens of great proficiency, and twelve ballads of spiritual
song, recently completed, on the Dream of the Red Chamber; but won't you
come along with me for a stroll?"

Pao-y, at this proposal, felt elated to such an extraordinary degree
that he could skip from joy, and there and then discarding from his mind
all idea of where Mrs. Ch'in was, he readily followed the Fairy.

They reached some spot, where there was a stone tablet, put up in a
horizontal position, on which were visible the four large characters:
"The confines of the Great Void," on either side of which was one of a
pair of scrolls, with the two antithetical sentences:

When falsehood stands for truth, truth likewise becomes false;
When naught be made to aught, aught changes into naught!

Past the Portal stood the door of a Palace, and horizontally, above this
door, were the four large characters: "The Sea of Retribution, the
Heaven of Love." There were also a pair of scrolls, with the inscription
in large characters:

Passion, alas! thick as the earth, and lofty as the skies, from ages
past to the present hath held incessant sway;
How pitiful your lot! ye lustful men and women envious, that your
voluptuous debts should be so hard to pay!

Pao-y, after perusal, communed with his own heart. "Is it really so!"
he thought, "but I wonder what implies the passion from old till now,
and what are the voluptuous debts! Henceforward, I must enlighten

Pao-y was bent upon this train of thoughts when he unwittingly
attracted several evil spirits into his heart, and with speedy step he
followed in the track of the fairy, and entered two rows of doors when
he perceived that the Lateral Halls were, on both sides, full of tablets
and scrolls, the number of which he could not in one moment ascertain.
He however discriminated in numerous places the inscriptions: The Board
of Lustful Love; the Board of contracted grudges; The Board of Matutinal
sobs; the Board of nocturnal tears; the Board of vernal affections; and
the Board of autumnal anguish.

After he had perused these inscriptions, he felt impelled to turn round
and address the Fairy. "May I venture to trouble my Fairy," he said, "to
take me along for a turn into the interior of each of these Boards? May
I be allowed, I wonder, to do so?"

"Inside each of these Boards," explained the Fairy, "are accumulated the
registers with the records of all women of the whole world; of those who
have passed away, as well as of those who have not as yet come into it,
and you, with your mortal eyes and human body, could not possibly be
allowed to know anything in anticipation."

But would Pao-y, upon hearing these words, submit to this decree? He
went on to implore her permission again and again, until the Fairy
casting her eye upon the tablet of the board in front of her observed,
"Well, all right! you may go into this board and reap some transient

Pao-y was indescribably joyous, and, as he raised his head, he
perceived that the text on the tablet consisted of the three characters:
the Board of Ill-fated lives; and that on each side was a scroll with
the inscription:

Upon one's self are mainly brought regrets in spring and autumn gloom;
A face, flowerlike may be and moonlike too; but beauty all for whom?

Upon perusal of the scroll Pao-y was, at once, the more stirred with
admiration; and, as he crossed the door, and reached the interior, the
only things that struck his eye were about ten large presses, the whole
number of which were sealed with paper slips; on every one of these
slips, he perceived that there were phrases peculiar to each province.

Pao-y was in his mind merely bent upon discerning, from the rest, the
slip referring to his own native village, when he espied, on the other
side, a slip with the large characters: "the Principal Record of the
Twelve Maidens of Chin Ling."

"What is the meaning," therefore inquired Pao-y, "of the Principal
Record of the Twelve Maidens of Chin Ling?"

"As this is the record," explained the Fairy, "of the most excellent and
prominent girls in your honourable province, it is, for this reason,
called the Principal Record."

"I've often heard people say," observed Pao-y, "that Chin Ling is of
vast extent; and how can there only be twelve maidens in it! why, at
present, in our own family alone, there are more or less several
hundreds of young girls!"

The Fairy gave a faint smile. "Through there be," she rejoined, "so
large a number of girls in your honourable province, those only of any
note have been selected and entered in this record. The two presses, on
the two sides, contain those who are second best; while, for all who
remain, as they are of the ordinary run, there are, consequently, no
registers to make any entry of them in."

Pao-y upon looking at the press below, perceived the inscription:
"Secondary Record of the twelve girls of Chin Ling;" while again in
another press was inscribed: "Supplementary Secondary Record of the
Twelve girls of Chin Ling." Forthwith stretching out his hand, Pao-y
opened first the doors of the press, containing the "supplementary
secondary Record," extracted a volume of the registers, and opened it.
When he came to examine it, he saw on the front page a representation of
something, which, though bearing no resemblance to a human being,
presented, at the same time, no similitude to scenery; consisting simply
of huge blotches made with ink. The whole paper was full of nothing else
but black clouds and turbid mists, after which appeared the traces of a
few characters, explaining that--

A cloudless moon is rare forsooth to see,
And pretty clouds so soon scatter and flee!
Thy heart is deeper than the heavens are high,
Thy frame consists of base ignominy!
Thy looks and clever mind resentment will provoke,
And thine untimely death vile slander will evoke!
A loving noble youth in vain for love will yearn.

After reading these lines, Pao-y looked below, where was pictured a
bouquet of fresh flowers and a bed covered with tattered matting. There
were also several distiches running as follows:

Thy self-esteem for kindly gentleness is but a fancy vain!
Thy charms that they can match the olea or orchid, but thoughts inane!
While an actor will, envious lot! with fortune's smiles be born,
A youth of noble birth will, strange to say, be luckless and forlorn.

Pao-y perused these sentences, but could not unfold their meaning, so,
at once discarding this press, he went over and opened the door of the
press of the "Secondary Records" and took out a book, in which, on
examination, he found a representation of a twig of Olea fragrans.
Below, was a pond, the water of which was parched up and the mud dry,
the lotus flowers decayed, and even the roots dead. At the back were
these lines:

The lotus root and flower but one fragrance will give;
How deep alas! the wounds of thy life's span will be;
What time a desolate tree in two places will live,
Back to its native home the fragrant ghost will flee!

Pao-y read these lines, but failed to understand what they meant. He
then went and fetched the "Principal Record," and set to looking it
over. He saw on the first page a picture of two rotten trees, while on
these trees was suspended a jade girdle. There was also a heap of snow,
and under this snow was a golden hair-pin. There were in addition these
four lines in verse:

Bitter thy cup will be, e'en were the virtue thine to stop the loom,
Thine though the gift the willow fluff to sing, pity who will thy
High in the trees doth hang the girdle of white jade,
And lo! among the snow the golden pin is laid!

To Pao-y the meaning was again, though he read the lines over, quite
unintelligible. He was, about to make inquiries, but he felt convinced
that the Fairy would be both to divulge the decrees of Heaven; and
though intent upon discarding the book, he could not however tear
himself away from it. Forthwith, therefore, he prosecuted a further
perusal of what came next, when he caught sight of a picture of a bow.
On this bow hung a citron. There was also this ode:

Full twenty years right and wrong to expound will be thy fate!
What place pomegranate blossoms come in bloom will face the Palace
The third portion of spring, of the first spring in beauty short will
When tiger meets with hare thou wilt return to sleep perennial.

Further on, was also a sketch of two persons flying a kite; a broad
expanse of sea, and a large vessel; while in this vessel was a girl, who
screened her face bedewed with tears. These four lines were likewise

Pure and bright will be thy gifts, thy purpose very high;
But born thou wilt be late in life and luck be passed by;
At the tomb feast thou wilt repine tearful along the stream,
East winds may blow, but home miles off will be, even in dream.

After this followed a picture of several streaks of fleeting clouds, and
of a creek whose waters were exhausted, with the text:

Riches and honours too what benefit are they?
In swaddling clothes thou'lt be when parents pass away;
The rays will slant, quick as the twinkle of an eye;
The Hsiang stream will recede, the Ch'u clouds onward fly!

Then came a picture of a beautiful gem, which had fallen into the mire,
with the verse:

Thine aim is chastity, but chaste thou wilt not be;
Abstraction is thy faith, but void thou may'st not see;
Thy precious, gemlike self will, pitiful to say,
Into the mundane mire collapse at length some day.

A rough sketch followed of a savage wolf, in pursuit of a beautiful
girl, trying to pounce upon her as he wished to devour her. This was the
burden of the distich:

Thy mate is like a savage wolf prowling among the hills;
His wish once gratified a haughty spirit his heart fills!
Though fair thy form like flowers or willows in the golden moon,
Upon the yellow beam to hang will shortly be its doom.

Below, was an old temple, in the interior of which was a beautiful
person, just in the act of reading the religious manuals, as she sat all
alone; with this inscription:

In light esteem thou hold'st the charms of the three springs for their
short-liv'd fate;
Thine attire of past years to lay aside thou chang'st, a Taoist dress
to don;
How sad, alas! of a reputed house and noble kindred the scion,
Alone, behold! she sleeps under a glimmering light, an old idol for

Next in order came a hill of ice, on which stood a hen-phoenix, while
under it was this motto:

When time ends, sure coincidence, the phoenix doth alight;
The talents of this human form all know and living see,
For first to yield she kens, then to control, and third genial to be;
But sad to say, things in Chin Ling are in more sorry plight.

This was succeeded by a representation of a desolate village, and a
dreary inn. A pretty girl sat in there, spinning thread. These were the
sentiments affixed below:

When riches will have flown will honours then avail?
When ruin breaks your home, e'en relatives will fail!
But sudden through the aid extended to Dame Liu,
A friend in need fortune will make to rise for you.

Following these verses, was drawn a pot of Orchids, by the side of
which, was a beautiful maiden in a phoenix-crown and cloudy mantle
(bridal dress); and to this picture was appended this device:

What time spring wanes, then fades the bloom of peach as well as plum!
Who ever can like a pot of the olea be winsome!
With ice thy purity will vie, vain their envy will be!
In vain a laughing-stock people will try to make of thee.

At the end of this poetical device, came the representation of a lofty
edifice, on which was a beauteous girl, suspending herself on a beam to
commit suicide; with this verse:

Love high as heav'n, love ocean-wide, thy lovely form will don;
What time love will encounter love, license must rise wanton;
Why hold that all impiety in Jung doth find its spring,
The source of trouble, verily, is centred most in Ning.

Pao-y was still bent upon prosecuting his perusal, when the Fairy
perceiving that his intellect was eminent and bright, and his natural
talents quickwitted, and apprehending lest the decrees of heaven should
be divulged, hastily closed the Book of Record, and addressed herself to
Pao-y. "Come along with me," she said smiling, "and see some wonderful
scenery. What's the need of staying here and beating this gourd of

In a dazed state, Pao-y listlessly discarded the record, and again
followed in the footsteps of the Fairy. On their arrival at the back, he
saw carnation portires, and embroidered curtains, ornamented pillars,
and carved eaves. But no words can adequately give an idea of the
vermilion apartments glistening with splendour, of the floors garnished
with gold, of the snow reflecting lustrous windows, of the palatial
mansions made of gems. He also saw fairyland flowers, beautiful and
fragrant, and extraordinary vegetation, full of perfume. The spot was
indeed elysian.

He again heard the Fairy observe with a smiling face: "Come out all of
you at once and greet the honoured guest!"

These words were scarcely completed, when he espied fairies walk out of
the mansion, all of whom were, with their dangling lotus sleeves, and
their fluttering feather habiliments, as comely as spring flowers, and
as winsome as the autumn moon. As soon as they caught sight of Pao-y,
they all, with one voice, resentfully reproached the Monitory Vision
Fairy. "Ignorant as to who the honoured guest could be," they argued,
"we hastened to come out to offer our greetings simply because you,
elder sister, had told us that, on this day, and at this very time,
there would be sure to come on a visit, the spirit of the younger sister
of Chiang Chu. That's the reason why we've been waiting for ever so
long; and now why do you, in lieu of her, introduce this vile object to
contaminate the confines of pure and spotless maidens?"

As soon as Pao-y heard these remarks, he was forthwith plunged in such
a state of consternation that he would have retired, but he found it
impossible to do so. In fact, he felt the consciousness of the foulness
and corruption of his own nature quite intolerable. The Monitory Vision
Fairy promptly took Pao-y's hand in her own, and turning towards her
younger sisters, smiled and explained: "You, and all of you, are not
aware of the why and wherefore. To-day I did mean to have gone to the
Jung mansion to fetch Chiang Chu, but as I went by the Ning mansion, I
unexpectedly came across the ghosts of the two dukes of Jung and Ning,
who addressed me in this wise: 'Our family has, since the dynasty
established itself on the Throne, enjoyed merit and fame, which pervaded
many ages, and riches and honours transmitted from generation to
generation. One hundred years have already elapsed, but this good
fortune has now waned, and this propitious luck is exhausted; so much so
that they could not be retrieved! Our sons and grandsons may be many,
but there is no one among them who has the means to continue the family
estate, with the exception of our kindred grandson, Pao-y alone, who,
though perverse in disposition and wayward by nature, is nevertheless
intelligent and quick-witted and qualified in a measure to give effect
to our hopes. But alas! the good fortune of our family is entirely
decayed, so that we fear there is no person to incite him to enter the
right way! Fortunately you worthy fairy come at an unexpected moment,
and we venture to trust that you will, above all things, warn him
against the foolish indulgence of inordinate desire, lascivious
affections and other such things, in the hope that he may, at your
instigation, be able to escape the snares of those girls who will allure
him with their blandishments, and to enter on the right track; and we

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