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Hung Lou Meng, Book I by Cao Xueqin

Part 4 out of 10

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ask her to send some one to arrange matters in the family school, and
invite Ch'in Chung to come to school for his studies."

While yet this conversation was going on, they arrived at the Jung

Reader, do you wish to know what follows? if you do, the next chapter
will unfold it.


By a strange coincidence, Chia Pao-yü becomes acquainted with the
golden clasp.
In an unexpected meeting, Hsüeh Pao-ch'ai sees the jade of spiritual

Pao-yü and lady Feng, we will now explain, paid, on their return home,
their respects to all the inmates, and Pao-yü availed himself of the
first occasion to tell dowager lady Chia of his wish that Ch'in Chung
should come over to the family school. "The presence for himself of a
friend as schoolmate would," he argued, "be fitly excellent to stir him
to zeal," and he went on to speak in terms of high praise of Ch'in
Chung, his character and his manners, which most of all made people
esteem him.

Lady Feng besides stood by him and backed his request. "In a day or
two," she added, "Ch'in Chung will be coming to pay his obeisance to
your venerable ladyship."

This bit of news greatly rejoiced the heart of dowager lady Chia, and
lady Feng likewise did not let the opportunity slip, without inviting
the old lady to attend the theatrical performance to come off the day
after the morrow. Dowager lady Chia was, it is true, well on in years,
but was, nevertheless, very fond of enjoyment, so that when the day
arrived and Mrs. Yu came over to invite her round, she forthwith took
madame Wang, Lin Tai-yü, Pao-yü and others along and went to the play.

It was about noon, when dowager lady Chia returned to her apartments for
her siesta; and madame Wang, who was habitually partial to a quiet life,
also took her departure after she had seen the old lady retire. Lady
Feng subsequently took the seat of honour; and the party enjoyed
themselves immensely till the evening, when they broke up.

But to return to Pao-yü. Having accompanied his grandmother Chia back
home, and waited till her ladyship was in her midday sleep, he had in
fact an inclination to return to the performance, but he was afraid lest
he should be a burden to Mrs. Ch'in and the rest and lest they should
not feel at ease. Remembering therefore that Pao Ch'ai had been at home
unwell for the last few days, and that he had not been to see her, he
was anxious to go and look her up, but he dreaded that if he went by the
side gate, at the back of the drawing-room, he would be prevented by
something or other, and fearing, what would be making matters worse,
lest he should come across his father, he consequently thought it better
to go on his way by a detour. The nurses and waiting-maids thereupon
came to help him to change his clothes; but they saw him not change, but
go out again by the second door. These nurses and maids could not help
following him out; but they were still under the impression that he was
going over to the other mansion to see the theatricals. Contrary to
their speculations, upon reaching the entrance hall, he forthwith went
to the east, then turned to the north, and walking round by the rear of
the hall, he happened to come face to face with two of the family
companions, Mr. Ch'an Kuang, and Mr. Tan T'ing-jen. As soon as they
caught sight of Pao-yü, they both readily drew up to him, and as they
smiled, the one put his arm round his waist, while the other grasped him
by the hand.

"Oh divine brother!" they both exclaimed, "this we call dreaming a
pleasant dream, for it's no easy thing to come across you!"

While continuing their remarks they paid their salutations, and inquired
after his health; and it was only after they had chatted for ever so
long, that they went on their way. The nurse called out to them and
stopped them, "Have you two gentlemen," she said, "come out from seeing

They both nodded assent. "Your master," they explained, "is in the Meng
P'o Chai small library having his siesta; so that you can go through
there with no fear."

As they uttered these words, they walked away.

This remark also evoked a smile from Pao-yü, but without further delay
he turned a corner, went towards the north, and came into the Pear
Fragrance Court, where, as luck would have it, he met the head manager
of the Household Treasury, Wu Hsin-teng, who, in company with the head
of the granary, Tai Liang, and several other head stewards, seven
persons in all, was issuing out of the Account Room.

On seeing Pao-yü approaching, they, in a body, stood still, and hung
down their arms against their sides. One of them alone, a certain
butler, called Ch'ien Hua, promptly came forward, as he had not seen
Pao-yü for many a day, and bending on one knee, paid his respects to
Pao-yü. Pao-yü at once gave a smile and pulled him up.

"The day before yesterday," smiled all the bystanders, "we were
somewhere together and saw some characters written by you, master
Secundus, in the composite style. The writing is certainly better than
it was before! When will you give us a few sheets to stick on the wall?"

"Where did you see them?" inquired Pao-yü, with a grin.

"They are to be found in more than one place," they replied, "and every
one praises them very much, and what's more, asks us for a few."

"They are not worth having," observed Pao-yü smilingly; "but if you do
want any, tell my young servants and it will be all right."

As he said these words, he moved onwards. The whole party waited till he
had gone by, before they separated, each one to go his own way.

But we need not dilate upon matters of no moment, but return to Pao-yü.

On coming to the Pear Fragrance Court, he entered, first, into "aunt"
Hsüeh's room, where he found her getting some needlework ready to give
to the waiting-maids to work at. Pao-yü forthwith paid his respects to
her, and "aunt" Hsüeh, taking him by the hand, drew him towards her and
clasped him in her embrace.

"With this cold weather," she smilingly urged, "it's too kind of you, my
dear child, to think of coming to see me; come along on the stove-couch
at once!--Bring some tea," she continued, addressing the servants, "and
make it as hot as it can be!"

"Isn't Hsüeh P'an at home?" Pao-yü having inquired: "He's like a horse
without a halter," Mrs. Hsüeh remarked with a sigh; "he's daily running
here and there and everywhere, and nothing can induce him to stay at
home one single day."

"Is sister (Pao Ch'ai) all right again?" asked Pao-yü. "Yes," replied
Mrs. Hsüeh, "she's well again. It was very kind of you two days ago to
again think of her, and send round to inquire after her. She's now in
there, and you can go and see her. It's warmer there than it's here; go
and sit with her inside, and, as soon as I've put everything away, I'll
come and join you and have a chat."

Pao-yü, upon hearing this, jumped down with alacrity from the
stove-couch, and walked up to the door of the inner room, where he saw
hanging a portière somewhat the worse for use, made of red silk. Pao-yü
raised the portière and making one step towards the interior, he found
Pao Ch'ai seated on the couch, busy over some needlework. On the top of
her head was gathered, and made into a knot, her chevelure, black as
lacquer, and glossy like pomade. She wore a honey-coloured wadded robe,
a rose-brown short-sleeved jacket, lined with the fur of the squirrel of
two colours: the "gold and silver;" and a jupe of leek-yellow silk. Her
whole costume was neither too new, neither too old, and displayed no
sign of extravagance.

Her lips, though not rouged, were naturally red; her eyebrows, though
not pencilled, were yet blue black; her face resembled a silver basin,
and her eyes, juicy plums. She was sparing in her words, chary in her
talk, so much so that people said that she posed as a simpleton. She was
quiet in the acquittal of her duties and scrupulous as to the proper
season for everything. "I practise simplicity," she would say of

"How are you? are you quite well again, sister?" inquired Pao-yü, as he
gazed at her; whereupon Pao Ch'ai raised her head, and perceiving Pao-yü
walk in, she got up at once and replied with a smile, "I'm all right
again; many thanks for your kindness in thinking of me."

While uttering this, she pressed him to take a seat on the stove-couch,
and as he sat down on the very edge of the couch, she told Ying Erh to
bring tea and asked likewise after dowager lady Chia and lady Feng. "And
are all the rest of the young ladies quite well?" she inquired.

Saying this she scrutinised Pao-yü, who she saw had a head-dress of
purplish-gold twisted threads, studded with precious stones. His
forehead was bound with a gold circlet, representing two dragons,
clasping a pearl. On his person he wore a light yellow, archery-sleeved
jacket, ornamented with rampant dragons, and lined with fur from the
ribs of the silver fox; and was clasped with a dark sash, embroidered
with different-coloured butterflies and birds. Round his neck was hung
an amulet, consisting of a clasp of longevity, a talisman of recorded
name, and, in addition to these, the precious jade which he had had in
his mouth at the time of his birth.

"I've daily heard every one speak of this jade," said Pao Ch'ai with a
smile, "but haven't, after all, had an opportunity of looking at it
closely, but anyhow to-day I must see it."

As she spoke, she drew near. Pao-yü himself approached, and taking it
from his neck, he placed it in Pao Ch'ai's hand. Pao Ch'ai held it in
her palm. It appeared to her very much like the egg of a bird,
resplendent as it was like a bright russet cloud; shiny and smooth like
variegated curd and covered with a net for the sake of protection.

Readers, you should know that this was the very block of useless stone
which had been on the Ta Huang Hills, and which had dropped into the
Ch'ing Keng cave, in a state of metamorphosis. A later writer expresses
his feelings in a satirical way as follows:

Nü Wo's fusion of stones was e'er a myth inane,
But from this myth hath sprung fiction still more insane!
Lost is the subtle life, divine, and real!--gone!
Assumed, mean subterfuge! foul bags of skin and bone!
Fortune, when once adverse, how true! gold glows no more!
In evil days, alas! the jade's splendour is o'er!
Bones, white and bleached, in nameless hill-like mounds are flung,
Bones once of youths renowned and maidens fair and young.

The rejected stone has in fact already given a record of the
circumstances of its transformation, and the inscription in seal
characters, engraved upon it by the bald-headed bonze, and below will
now be also appended a faithful representation of it; but its real size
is so very diminutive, as to allow of its being held by a child in his
mouth while yet unborn, that were it to have been drawn in its exact
proportions, the characters would, it is feared, have been so
insignificant in size, that the beholder would have had to waste much of
his eyesight, and it would besides have been no pleasant thing.

While therefore its shape has been adhered to, its size has unavoidably
been slightly enlarged, to admit of the reader being able, conveniently,
to peruse the inscription, even by very lamplight, and though he may be
under the influence of wine.

These explanations have been given to obviate any such sneering remarks
as: "What could be, pray, the size of the mouth of a child in his
mother's womb, and how could it grasp such a large and clumsy thing?"

On the face of the jade was written:

Precious Gem of Spiritual Perception.
If thou wilt lose me not and never forget me,
Eternal life and constant luck will be with thee!

On the reverse was written:

1 To exorcise evil spirits and the accessory visitations;
2 To cure predestined sickness;
3 To prognosticate weal and woe.

Pao Ch'ai having looked at the amulet, twisted it again to the face, and
scrutinising it closely, read aloud:

If thou wilt lose me not and never forget me,
Eternal life and constant luck will be with thee!

She perused these lines twice, and, turning round, she asked Ying Erh
laughingly: "Why don't you go and pour the tea? what are you standing
here like an idiot!"

"These two lines which I've heard," smiled Ying Erh, "would appear to
pair with the two lines on your necklet, miss!"

"What!" eagerly observed Pao-yü with a grin, when he caught these words,
"are there really eight characters too on your necklet, cousin? do let
me too see it."

"Don't listen to what she says," remarked Pao Ch'ai, "there are no
characters on it."

"My dear cousin," pleaded Pao-yü entreatingly, "how is it you've seen

Pao Ch'ai was brought quite at bay by this remark of his, and she
consequently added, "There are also two propitious phrases engraved on
this charm, and that's why I wear it every day. Otherwise, what pleasure
would there be in carrying a clumsy thing."

As she spoke, she unfastened the button, and produced from inside her
crimson robe, a crystal-like locket, set with pearls and gems, and with
a brilliant golden fringe. Pao-yü promptly received it from her, and
upon minute examination, found that there were in fact four characters
on each side; the eight characters on both sides forming two sentences
of good omen. The similitude of the locket is likewise then given below.
On the face of the locket is written:

"Part not from me and cast me not away;"

And on the reverse:

"And youth, perennial freshness will display!"

Pao-yü examined the charm, and having also read the inscription twice
over aloud, and then twice again to himself, he said as he smiled, "Dear
cousin, these eight characters of yours form together with mine an
antithetical verse."

"They were presented to her," ventured Ying Erh, "by a mangy-pated
bonze, who explained that they should be engraved on a golden

Pao Ch'ai left her no time to finish what she wished to say, but
speedily called her to task for not going to bring the tea, and then
inquired of Pao-yü "Where he had come from?"

Pao-yü had, by this time, drawn quite close to Pao Ch'ai, and perceived
whiff after whiff of some perfume or other, of what kind he could not
tell. "What perfume have you used, my cousin," he forthwith asked, "to
fumigate your dresses with? I really don't remember smelling any
perfumery of the kind before."

"I'm very averse," replied Pao Ch'ai blandly, "to the odour of
fumigation; good clothes become impregnated with the smell of smoke."

"In that case," observed Pao-yü, "what scent is it?"

"Yes, I remember," Pao Ch'ai answered, after some reflection; "it's the
scent of the 'cold fragrance' pills which I took this morning."

"What are these cold fragrance pills," remarked Pao-yü smiling, "that
they have such a fine smell? Give me, cousin, a pill to try."

"Here you are with your nonsense again," Pao Ch'ai rejoined laughingly;
"is a pill a thing to be taken recklessly?"

She had scarcely finished speaking, when she heard suddenly some one
outside say, "Miss Lin is come;" and shortly Lin Tai-yü walked in in a
jaunty manner.

"Oh, I come at a wrong moment!" she exclaimed forthwith, smirking
significantly when she caught sight of Pao-yü.

Pao-yü and the rest lost no time in rising and offering her a seat,
whereupon Pao Ch'ai added with a smile, "How can you say such things?"

"Had I known sooner," continued Tai-yü, "that he was here, I would have
kept away."

"I can't fathom this meaning of yours," protested Pao Ch'ai.

"If one comes," Tai-yü urged smiling, "then all come, and when one
doesn't come, then no one comes. Now were he to come to-day, and I to
come to-morrow, wouldn't there be, by a division of this kind, always
some one with you every day? and in this way, you wouldn't feel too
lonely, nor too crowded. How is it, cousin, that you didn't understand
what I meant to imply?"

"Is it snowing?" inquired Pao-yü, upon noticing that she wore a cloak
made of crimson camlet, buttoning in front.

"It has been snowing for some time," ventured the matrons, who were
standing below. "Fetch my wrapper!" Pao-yü remarked, and Tai-yü readily
laughed. "Am I not right? I come, and, of course, he must go at once."

"Did I ever mention that I was going?" questioned Pao-yü; "I only wish
it brought to have it ready when I want it."

"It's a snowy day," consequently remarked Pao-yü's nurse, dame Li, "and
we must also look to the time, but you had better remain here and amuse
yourself with your cousin. Your aunt has, in there, got ready tea and
fruits. I'll tell the waiting-maid to go and fetch your wrapper and the
boys to return home." Pao-yü assented, and nurse Li left the room and
told the boys that they were at liberty to go.

By this time Mrs. Hsüeh had prepared tea and several kinds of nice
things and kept them all to partake of those delicacies. Pao-yü, having
spoken highly of some goose feet and ducks' tongues he had tasted some
days before, at his eldest sister-in-law's, Mrs. Yu's, "aunt" Hsüeh
promptly produced several dishes of the same kind, made by herself, and
gave them to Pao-yü to try. "With a little wine," added Pao-yü with a
smile, "they would be first rate."

Mrs. Hsüeh thereupon bade the servants fetch some wine of the best
quality; but dame Li came forward and remonstrated. "My lady," she said,
"never mind the wine."

Pao-yü smilingly pleaded: "My nurse, I'll take just one cup and no

"It's no use," nurse Li replied, "were your grandmother and mother
present, I wouldn't care if you drank a whole jar. I remember the day
when I turned my eyes away but for a moment, and some ignorant fool or
other, merely with the view of pandering for your favour, gave you only
a drop of wine to drink, and how this brought reproaches upon me for a
couple of days. You don't know, my lady, you have no idea of his
disposition! it's really dreadful; and when he has had a little wine he
shows far more temper. On days when her venerable ladyship is in high
spirits, she allows him to have his own way about drinking, but he's not
allowed to have wine on any and every day; and why should I have to
suffer inside and all for nothing at all?"

"You antiquated thing!" replied Mrs. Hsüeh laughing, "set your mind at
ease, and go and drink your own wine! I won't let him have too much, and
should even the old lady say anything, let the fault be mine."

Saying this, she asked a waiting-maid to take nurse Li along with her
and give her also a glass of wine so as to keep out the cold air.

When nurse Li heard these words, she had no alternative but to go for a
time with all the others and have some wine to drink.

"The wine need not be warmed: I prefer it cold!" Pao-yü went on to
suggest meanwhile.

"That won't do," remonstrated Mrs. Hsüeh; "cold wine will make your hand
tremble when you write."

"You have," interposed Pao Ch'ai smiling, "the good fortune, cousin
Pao-yü, of having daily opportunities of acquiring a knowledge of every
kind of subject, and yet don't you know that the properties of wine are
mostly heating? If you drink wine warm, its effects soon dispel, but if
you drink it cold, it at once congeals in you; and as upon your
intestines devolves the warming of it, how can you not derive any harm?
and won't you yet from this time change this habit of yours? leave off
at once drinking that cold wine."

Pao-yü finding that the words he had heard contained a good deal of
sense, speedily put down the cold wine, and having asked them to warm
it, he at length drank it.

Tai-yü was bent upon cracking melon seeds, saying nothing but simply
pursing up her lips and smiling, when, strange coincidence, Hsüeh Yen,
Tai-yü's waiting-maid, walked in and handed her mistress a small

"Who told you to bring it?" ascertained Tai-yü grinningly. "I'm sorry to
have given whoever it is the trouble; I'm obliged to her. But did she
ever imagine that I would freeze to death?"

"Tzu Chuan was afraid," replied Hsüeh Yen, "that you would, miss, feel
cold, and she asked me to bring it over."

Tai-yü took it over and held it in her lap. "How is it," she smiled,
"that you listen to what she tells you, but that you treat what I say,
day after day, as so much wind blowing past your ears! How is it that
you at once do what she bids you, with even greater alacrity than you
would an imperial edict?"

When Pao-yü heard this, he felt sure in his mind that Tai-yü was
availing herself of this opportunity to make fun of him, but he made no
remark, merely laughing to himself and paying no further notice. Pao
Ch'ai, again, knew full well that this habit was a weak point with
Tai-yü, so she too did not go out of her way to heed what she said.

"You've always been delicate and unable to stand the cold," interposed
"aunt" Hsüeh, "and is it not a kind attention on their part to have
thought of you?"

"You don't know, aunt, how it really stands," responded Tai-yü
smilingly; "fortunately enough, it was sent to me here at your quarters;
for had it been in any one else's house, wouldn't it have been a slight
upon them? Is it forsooth nice to think that people haven't so much as a
hand-stove, and that one has fussily to be sent over from home? People
won't say that the waiting-maids are too officious, but will imagine
that I'm in the habit of behaving in this offensive fashion."

"You're far too punctilious," remarked Mrs. Hsüeh, "as to entertain such
notions! No such ideas as these crossed my mind just now."

While they were conversing, Pao-yü had taken so much as three cups of
wine, and nurse Li came forward again to prevent him from having any
more. Pao-yü was just then in a state of exultation and excitement, (a
state) enhanced by the conversation and laughter of his cousins, so that
was he ready to agree to having no more! But he was constrained in a
humble spirit to entreat for permission. "My dear nurse," he implored,
"I'll just take two more cups and then have no more."

"You'd better be careful," added nurse Li, "your father is at home
to-day, and see that you're ready to be examined in your lessons."

When Pao-yü heard this mention, his spirits at once sank within him, and
gently putting the wine aside, he dropped his head upon his breast.

Tai-yü promptly remonstrated. "You've thrown cold water," she said,
"over the spirits of the whole company; why, if uncle should ask to see
you, well, say that aunt Hsüeh detained you. This old nurse of yours has
been drinking, and again makes us the means of clearing her muddled

While saying this, she gave Pao-yü a big nudge with the intent of
stirring up his spirits, adding, as she addressed him in a low tone of
voice: "Don't let us heed that old thing, but mind our own enjoyment."

Dame Li also knew very well Tai-yü's disposition, and therefore
remarked: "Now, Miss Lin, don't you urge him on; you should after all,
give him good advice, as he may, I think, listen to a good deal of what
you say to him."

"Why should I urge him on?" rejoined Lin Tai-yü, with a sarcastic smile,
"nor will I trouble myself to give him advice. You, old lady, are far
too scrupulous! Old lady Chia has also time after time given him wine,
and if he now takes a cup or two more here, at his aunt's, lady Hsüeh's
house, there's no harm that I can see. Is it perhaps, who knows, that
aunt is a stranger in this establishment, and that we have in fact no
right to come over here to see her?"

Nurse Li was both vexed and amused by the words she had just heard.
"Really," she observed, "every remark this girl Lin utters is sharper
than a razor! I didn't say anything much!"

Pao Ch'ai too could not suppress a smile, and as she pinched Tai-yü's
cheek, she exclaimed, "Oh the tongue of this frowning girl! one can
neither resent what it says, nor yet listen to it with any

"Don't be afraid!" Mrs. Hsüeh went on to say, "don't be afraid; my son,
you've come to see me, and although I've nothing good to give you, you
mustn't, through fright, let the trifle you've taken lie heavy on your
stomach, and thus make me uneasy; but just drink at your pleasure, and
as much as you like, and let the blame fall on my shoulders. What's
more, you can stay to dinner with me, and then go home; or if you do get
tipsy, you can sleep with me, that's all."

She thereupon told the servants to heat some more wine. "I'll come," she
continued, "and keep you company while you have two or three cups, after
which we'll have something to eat!"

It was only after these assurances that Pao-yü's spirits began at
length, once more to revive, and dame Li then directed the waiting-maids
what to do. "You remain here," she enjoined, "and mind, be diligent
while I go home and change; when I'll come back again. Don't allow him,"
she also whispered to "aunt" Hsüeh, "to have all his own way and drink
too much."

Having said this, she betook herself back to her quarters; and during
this while, though there were two or three nurses in attendance, they
did not concern themselves with what was going on. As soon as they saw
that nurse Li had left, they likewise all quietly slipped out, at the
first opportunity they found, while there remained but two
waiting-maids, who were only too glad to curry favour with Pao-yü. But
fortunately "aunt" Hsüeh, by much coaxing and persuading, only let him
have a few cups, and the wine being then promptly cleared away, pickled
bamboo shoots and chicken-skin soup were prepared, of which Pao-yü drank
with relish several bowls full, eating besides more than half a bowl of
finest rice congee.

By this time, Hsüeh Pao Ch'ai and Lin Tai-yü had also finished their
repast; and when Pao-yü had drunk a few cups of strong tea, Mrs. Hsüeh
felt more easy in her mind. Hsüeh Yen and the others, three or four of
them in all, had also had their meal, and came in to wait upon them.

"Are you now going or not?" inquired Tai-yü of Pao-yü.

Pao-yü looked askance with his drowsy eyes. "If you want to go," he
observed, "I'll go with you."

Tai-yü hearing this, speedily rose. "We've been here nearly the whole
day," she said, "and ought to be going back."

As she spoke the two of them bade good-bye, and the waiting-maids at
once presented a hood to each of them.

Pao-yü readily lowered his head slightly and told a waiting-maid to put
it on. The girl promptly took the hood, made of deep red cloth, and
shaking it out of its folds, she put it on Pao-yü's head.

"That will do," hastily exclaimed Pao-yü. "You stupid thing! gently a
bit; is it likely you've never seen any one put one on before? let me do
it myself."

"Come over here, and I'll put it on for you," suggested Tai-yü, as she
stood on the edge of the couch. Pao-yü eagerly approached her, and
Tai-yü carefully kept the cap, to which his hair was bound, fast down,
and taking the hood she rested its edge on the circlet round his
forehead. She then raised the ball of crimson velvet, which was as large
as a walnut, and put it in such a way that, as it waved tremulously, it
should appear outside the hood. These arrangements completed she cast a
look for a while at what she had done. "That's right now," she added,
"throw your wrapper over you!"

When Pao-yü caught these words, he eventually took the wrapper and threw
it over his shoulders.

"None of your nurses," hurriedly interposed aunt Hsüeh, "are yet come,
so you had better wait a while."

"Why should we wait for them?" observed Pao-yü. "We have the
waiting-maids to escort us, and surely they should be enough."

Mrs. Hsüeh finding it difficult to set her mind at ease deputed two
married women to accompany the two cousins; and after they had both
expressed (to these women) their regret at having troubled them, they
came straightway to dowager lady Chia's suite of apartments.

Her venerable ladyship had not, as yet, had her evening repast. Hearing
that they had been at Mrs. Hsüeh's, she was extremely pleased; but
noticing that Pao-yü had had some wine, she gave orders that he should
be taken to his room, and put to bed, and not be allowed to come out

"Do take good care of him," she therefore enjoined the servants, and
when suddenly she bethought herself of Pao-yü's attendants, "How is it,"
she at once inquired of them all, "that I don't see nurse Li here?"

They did not venture to tell her the truth, that she had gone home, but
simply explained that she had come in a few moments back, and that they
thought she must have again gone out on some business or other.

"She's better off than your venerable ladyship," remarked Pao-yü,
turning round and swaying from side to side. "Why then ask after her?
Were I rid of her, I believe I might live a little longer."

While uttering these words, he reached the door of his bedroom, where he
saw pen and ink laid out on the writing table.

"That's nice," exclaimed Ch'ing Wen, as she came to meet him with a
smile on her face, "you tell me to prepare the ink for you, but though
when you get up, you were full of the idea of writing, you only wrote
three characters, when you discarded the pencil, and ran away, fooling
me, by making me wait the whole day! Come now at once and exhaust all
this ink before you're let off."

Pao-yü then remembered what had taken place in the morning. "Where are
the three characters I wrote?" he consequently inquired, smiling.

"Why this man is tipsy," remarked Ch'ing Wen sneeringly. "As you were
going to the other mansion, you told me to stick them over the door. I
was afraid lest any one else should spoil them, as they were being
pasted, so I climbed up a high ladder and was ever so long in putting
them up myself; my hands are even now numb with cold."

"Oh I forgot all about it," replied Pao-yü grinning, "if your hands are
cold, come and I'll rub them warm for you."

Promptly stretching out his hand, he took those of Ch'ing Wen in his,
and the two of them looked at the three characters, which he recently
had written, and which were pasted above the door. In a short while,
Tai-yü came.

"My dear cousin," Pao-yü said to her smilingly, "tell me without any
prevarication which of the three characters is the best written?"

Tai-yü raised her head and perceived the three characters: Red, Rue,
Hall. "They're all well done," she rejoined, with a smirk, "How is it
you've written them so well? By and bye you must also write a tablet for

"Are you again making fun of me?" asked Pao-yü smiling; "what about
sister Hsi Jen?" he went on to inquire.

Ch'ing Wen pouted her lips, pointing towards the stove-couch in the
inner room, and, on looking in, Pao-yü espied Hsi Jen fast asleep in her
daily costume.

"Well," Pao-yü observed laughing, "there's no harm in it, but its rather
early to sleep. When I was having my early meal, on the other side," he
proceeded, speaking to Ch'ing Wen, "there was a small dish of dumplings,
with bean-curd outside; and as I thought you would like to have some, I
asked Mrs. Yu for them, telling her that I would keep them, and eat them
in the evening; I told some one to bring them over, but have you
perchance seen them?"

"Be quick and drop that subject," suggested Ch'ing Wen; "as soon as they
were brought over, I at once knew they were intended for me; as I had
just finished my meal, I put them by in there, but when nurse Li came
she saw them. 'Pao-yü,' she said, 'is not likely to eat them, so I'll
take them and give them to my grandson.' And forthwith she bade some one
take them over to her home."

While she was speaking, Hsi Hsüeh brought in tea, and Pao-yü pressed his
cousin Lin to have a cup.

"Miss Lin has gone long ago," observed all of them, as they burst out
laughing, "and do you offer her tea?"

Pao-yü drank about half a cup, when he also suddenly bethought himself
of some tea, which had been brewed in the morning. "This morning," he
therefore inquired of Hsi Hsüeh, "when you made a cup of maple-dew tea,
I told you that that kind of tea requires brewing three or four times
before its colour appears; and how is that you now again bring me this

"I did really put it by," answered Hsi Hsüeh, "but nurse Li came and
drank it, and then went off."

Pao-yü upon hearing this, dashed the cup he held in his hand on the
ground, and as it broke into small fragments, with a crash, it spattered
Hsi Hsüeh's petticoat all over.

"Of whose family is she the mistress?" inquired Pao-yü of Hsi Hsüeh, as
he jumped up, "that you all pay such deference to her. I just simply had
a little of her milk, when I was a brat, and that's all; and now she has
got into the way of thinking herself more high and mighty than even the
heads of the family! She should be packed off, and then we shall all
have peace and quiet."

Saying this, he was bent upon going, there and then, to tell dowager
lady Chia to have his nurse driven away.

Hsi Jen was really not asleep, but simply feigning, with the idea, when
Pao-yü came, to startle him in play. At first, when she heard him speak
of writing, and inquire after the dumplings, she did not think it
necessary to get up, but when he flung the tea-cup on the floor, and got
into a temper, she promptly jumped up and tried to appease him, and to
prevent him by coaxing from carrying out his threat.

A waiting-maid sent by dowager lady Chia came in, meanwhile, to ask what
was the matter.

"I had just gone to pour tea," replied Hsi Jen, without the least
hesitation, "and I slipped on the snow and fell, while the cup dropped
from my hand and broke. Your decision to send her away is good," she
went on to advise Pao-yü, "and we are all willing to go also; and why
not avail yourself of this opportunity to dismiss us in a body? It will
be for our good, and you too on the other hand, needn't perplex yourself
about not getting better people to come and wait on you!"

When Pao-yü heard this taunt, he had at length not a word to say, and
supported by Hsi Jen and the other attendants on to the couch, they
divested him of his clothes. But they failed to understand the drift of
what Pao-yü kept on still muttering, and all they could make out was an
endless string of words; but his eyes grew heavier and drowsier, and
they forthwith waited upon him until he went to sleep; when Hsi Jen
unclasped the jade of spiritual perception, and rolling it up in a
handkerchief, she lay it under the mattress, with the idea that when he
put it on the next day it should not chill his neck.

Pao-yü fell sound asleep the moment he lay his head on the pillow. By
this time nurse Li and the others had come in, but when they heard that
Pao-yü was tipsy, they too did not venture to approach, but gently made
inquiries as to whether he was asleep or not. On hearing that he was,
they took their departure with their minds more at ease.

The next morning the moment Pao-yü awoke, some one came in to tell him
that young Mr. Jung, living in the mansion on the other side, had
brought Ch'in Chung to pay him a visit.

Pao-yü speedily went out to greet them and to take them over to pay
their respects to dowager lady Chia. Her venerable ladyship upon
perceiving that Ch'in Chung, with his handsome countenance, and his
refined manners, would be a fit companion for Pao-yü in his studies,
felt extremely delighted at heart; and having readily detained him to
tea, and kept him to dinner, she went further and directed a servant to
escort him to see madame Wang and the rest of the family.

With the fond regard of the whole household for Mrs. Ch'in, they were,
when they saw what a kind of person Ch'in Chung was, so enchanted with
him, that at the time of his departure, they all had presents to give
him; even dowager lady Chia herself presented him with a purse and a
golden image of the God of Learning, with a view that it should incite
him to study and harmony.

"Your house," she further advised him, "is far off, and when it's cold
or hot, it would be inconvenient for you to come all that way, so you
had better come and live over here with me. You'll then be always with
your cousin Pao-yü, and you won't be together, in your studies, with
those fellow-pupils of yours who have no idea what progress means."

Ch'in Chung made a suitable answer to each one of her remarks, and on
his return home he told everything to his father.

His father, Ch'in Pang-yeh, held at present the post of Secretary in the
Peking Field Force, and was well-nigh seventy. His wife had died at an
early period, and as she left no issue, he adopted a son and a daughter
from a foundling asylum.

But who would have thought it, the boy also died, and there only
remained the girl, known as Kó Ch'ing in her infancy, who when she grew
up, was beautiful in face and graceful in manners, and who by reason of
some relationship with the Chia family, was consequently united by the
ties of marriage (to one of the household).

Ch'in Pang-yeh was in his fiftieth year when he at length got this son.
As his tutor had the previous year left to go south, he remained at home
keeping up his former lessons; and (his father) had been just thinking
of talking over the matter with his relatives of the Chia family, and
sending his son to the private school, when, as luck would have it, this
opportunity of meeting Pao-yü presented itself.

Knowing besides that the family school was under the direction of the
venerable scholar Chia Tai-ju, and hoping that by joining his class,
(his son) might advance in knowledge and by these means reap reputation,
he was therefore intensely gratified. The only drawbacks were that his
official emoluments were scanty, and that both the eyes of everyone in
the other establishment were set upon riches and honours, so that he
could not contribute anything short of the amount (given by others); but
his son's welfare throughout life was a serious consideration, and he,
needless to say, had to scrape together from the East and to collect
from the West; and making a parcel, with all deference, of twenty-four
taels for an introduction present, he came along with Ch'in Chung to
Tai-ju's house to pay their respects. But he had to wait subsequently
until Pao-yü could fix on an auspicious date on which they could
together enter the school.

As for what happened after they came to school, the next chapter will


Chia Cheng gives good advice to his wayward son.
Li Kuei receives a reprimand.
Chia Jui and Li Kuei rebuke the obstinate youths!
Ming Yen causes trouble in the school-room.

But to return to our story. Mr. Ch'in, the father, and Ch'in Chung, his
son, only waited until the receipt, by the hands of a servant, of a
letter from the Chia family about the date on which they were to go to
school. Indeed, Pao-yü was only too impatient that he and Ch'in Chung
should come together, and, without loss of time, he fixed upon two days
later as the day upon which they were definitely to begin their studies,
and he despatched a servant with a letter to this effect.

On the day appointed, as soon as it was daylight, Pao-yü turned out of
bed. Hsi Jen had already by that time got books, pencils and all writing
necessaries in perfect readiness, and was sitting on the edge of the bed
in a moping mood; but as soon as she saw Pao-yü approach, she was
constrained to wait upon him in his toilette and ablutions.

Pao-yü, noticing how despondent she was, made it a point to address her.
"My dear sister," he said, "how is it you aren't again yourself? Is it
likely that you bear me a grudge for being about to go to school,
because when I leave you, you'll all feel dull?"

Hsi Jen smiled. "What an ideal" she replied. "Study is a most excellent
thing, and without it a whole lifetime is a mere waste, and what good
comes in the long run? There's only one thing, which is simply that when
engaged in reading your books, you should set your mind on your books;
and that you should think of home when not engaged in reading. Whatever
you do, don't romp together with them, for were you to meet our master,
your father, it will be no joke! Although it's asserted that a scholar
must strain every nerve to excel, yet it's preferable that the tasks
should be somewhat fewer, as, in the first place, when one eats too
much, one cannot digest it; and, in the second place, good health must
also be carefully attended to. This is my view on the subject, and you
should at all times consider it in practice."

While Hsi Jen gave utterance to a sentence, Pao-yü nodded his head in
sign of approval of that sentence. Hsi Jen then went on to speak. "I've
also packed up," she continued, "your long pelisse, and handed it to the
pages to take it over; so mind, when it's cold in the school-room,
please remember to put on this extra clothing, for it's not like home,
where you have people to look after you. The foot-stove and hand-stove,
I've also sent over; and urge that pack of lazy-bones to attend to their
work, for if you say nothing, they will be so engrossed in their
frolics, that they'll be loth to move, and let you, all for nothing,
take a chill and ruin your constitution."

"Compose your mind," replied Pao-yü; "when I go out, I know well enough
how to attend to everything my own self. But you people shouldn't remain
in this room, and mope yourselves to death; and it would be well if you
would often go over to cousin Lin's for a romp."

While saying this, he had completed his toilette, and Hsi Jen pressed
him to go and wish good morning to dowager lady Chia, Chia Cheng, madame
Wang, and the other members of the family.

Pao-yü, after having gone on to give a few orders to Ch'ing Wen and She
Yueh, at length left his apartments, and coming over, paid his obeisance
to dowager lady Chia. Her venerable Ladyship had likewise, as a matter
of course, a few recommendations to make to him, which ended, he next
went and greeted madame Wang; and leaving again her quarters, he came
into the library to wish Chia Cheng good morning.

As it happened, Chia Cheng had on this day returned home at an early
hour, and was, at this moment, in the library, engaged in a friendly
chat with a few gentlemen, who were family companions. Suddenly
perceiving Pao-yü come in to pay his respects, and report that he was
about to go to school, Chia Cheng gave a sardonic smile. "If you do
again," he remarked, "make allusions to the words going to school,
you'll make even me blush to death with shame! My advice to you is that
you should after all go your own way and play; that's the best thing for
you; and mind you don't pollute with dirt this floor by standing here,
and soil this door of mine by leaning against it!"

The family companions stood up and smilingly expostulated.

"Venerable Sir," they pleaded, "why need you be so down upon him? Our
worthy brother is this day going to school, and may in two or three
years be able to display his abilities and establish his reputation. He
will, beyond doubt, not behave like a child, as he did in years gone
past. But as the time for breakfast is also drawing nigh, you should,
worthy brother, go at once."

When these words had been spoken, two among them, who were advanced in
years, readily took Pao-yü by the hand, and led him out of the library.

"Who are in attendance upon Pao-yü?" Chia Cheng having inquired, he
heard a suitable reply, "We, Sir!" given from outside; and three or four
sturdy fellows entered at an early period and fell on one knee, and
bowed and paid their obeisance.

When Chia Cheng came to scrutinise who they were, and he recognised Li
Kuei, the son of Pao-yü's nurse, he addressed himself to him. "You
people," he said, "remain waiting upon him the whole day long at school,
but what books has he after all read? Books indeed! why, he has read and
filled his brains with a lot of trashy words and nonsensical phrases,
and learnt some ingenious way of waywardness. Wait till I have a little
leisure, and I'll set to work, first and foremost, and flay your skin
off, and then settle accounts with that good-for-nothing!"

This threat so terrified Li Kuei that he hastily fell on both his knees,
pulled off his hat, knocked his head on the ground, and gave vent to
repeated assenting utterances: "Oh, quite so, Sir! Our elder brother Mr.
Pao has," he continued, "already read up to the third book of the Book
of Odes, up to where there's something or other like: 'Yiu, Yiu, the
deer bleat; the lotus leaves and duckweed.' Your servant wouldn't
presume to tell a lie!"

As he said this, the whole company burst out into a boisterous fit of
laughter, and Chia Cheng himself could not also contain his countenance
and had to laugh. "Were he even," he observed, "to read thirty books of
the Book of Odes, it would be as much an imposition upon people and no
more, as (when the thief) who, in order to steal the bell, stops up his
own ears! You go and present my compliments to the gentleman in the
schoolroom, and tell him, from my part, that the whole lot of Odes and
old writings are of no use, as they are subjects for empty show; and
that he should, above all things, take the Four Books, and explain them
to him, from first to last, and make him know them all thoroughly by
heart,--that this is the most important thing!"

Li Kuei signified his obedience with all promptitude, and perceiving
that Chia Cheng had nothing more to say, he retired out of the room.

During this while, Pao-yü had been standing all alone outside in the
court, waiting quietly with suppressed voice, and when they came out he
at once walked away in their company.

Li Kuei and his companions observed as they shook their clothes, "Did
you, worthy brother, hear what he said that he would first of all flay
our skins off! People's servants acquire some respectability from the
master whom they serve, but we poor fellows fruitlessly wait upon you,
and are beaten and blown up in the bargain. It would be well if we were,
from henceforward, to be treated with a certain amount of regard."

Pao-yü smiled, "Dear Brother," he added, "don't feel aggrieved; I'll
invite you to come round to-morrow!"

"My young ancestor," replied Li Kuei, "who presumes to look forward to
an invitation? all I entreat you is to listen to one or two words I have
to say, that's all."

As they talked they came over once more to dowager lady Chia's on this

Ch'in Chung had already arrived, and the old lady was first having a
chat with him. Forthwith the two of them exchanged salutations, and took
leave of her ladyship; but Pao-yü, suddenly remembering that he had not
said good-bye to Tai-yü, promptly betook himself again to Tai-yü's
quarters to do so.

Tai-yü was, at this time, below the window, facing the mirror, and
adjusting her toilette. Upon hearing Pao-yü mention that he was on his
way to school, she smiled and remarked, "That's right! you're now going
to school and you'll be sure to reach the lunar palace and pluck the
olea fragrans; but I can't go along with you."

"My dear cousin," rejoined Pao-yü, "wait for me to come out from school,
before you have your evening meal; wait also until I come to prepare the
cosmetic of rouge."

After a protracted chat, he at length tore himself away and took his

"How is it," interposed Tai-yü, as she once again called out to him and
stopped him, "that you don't go and bid farewell to your cousin Pao

Pao-yü smiled, and saying not a word by way of reply he straightway
walked to school, accompanied by Ch'in Chung.

This public school, which it must be noticed was also not far from his
quarters, had been originally instituted by the founder of the
establishment, with the idea that should there be among the young
fellows of his clan any who had not the means to engage a tutor, they
should readily be able to enter this class for the prosecution of their
studies; that all those of the family who held official position should
all give (the institution) pecuniary assistance, with a view to meet the
expenses necessary for allowances to the students; and that they were to
select men advanced in years and possessed of virtue to act as tutors of
the family school.

The two of them, Ch'in Chung and Pao-yü, had now entered the class, and
after they and the whole number of their schoolmates had made each
other's acquaintance, their studies were commenced. Ever since this
time, these two were wont to come together, go together, get up
together, and sit together, till they became more intimate and close.
Besides, dowager lady Chia got very fond of Ch'in Chung, and would again
and again keep him to stay with them for three and five days at a time,
treating him as if he were one of her own great-grandsons. Perceiving
that in Ch'in Chung's home there was not much in the way of sufficiency,
she also helped him in clothes and other necessaries; and scarcely had
one or two months elapsed before Ch'in Chung got on friendly terms with
every one in the Jung mansion.

Pao-yü was, however, a human being who could not practise contentment
and observe propriety; and as his sole delight was to have every caprice
gratified, he naturally developed a craving disposition. "We two, you
and I, are," he was also wont secretly to tell Ch'in Chung, "of the same
age, and fellow-scholars besides, so that there's no need in the future
to pay any regard to our relationship of uncle and nephew; and we should
treat each other as brothers or friends, that's all."

Ch'in Chung at first (explained that) he could not be so presumptuous;
but as Pao-yü would not listen to any such thing, but went on to address
him as brother and to call him by his style Ch'ing Ch'ing, he had
likewise himself no help, but to begin calling him, at random, anything
and anyhow.

There were, it is true, a large number of pupils in this school, but
these consisted of the sons and younger brothers of that same clan, and
of several sons and nephews of family connections. The proverb
appositely describes that there are nine species of dragons, and that
each species differs; and it goes of course without saying that in a
large number of human beings there were dragons and snakes, confusedly
admixed, and that creatures of a low standing were included.

Ever since the arrival of the two young fellows, Ch'in Chung and Pao-yü,
both of whom were in appearance as handsome as budding flowers, and
they, on the one hand, saw how modest and genial Ch'in Chung was, how he
blushed before he uttered a word, how he was timid and demure like a
girl, and on the other hand, how that Pao-yü was naturally proficient in
abasing and demeaning himself, how he was so affable and good-natured,
considerate in his temperament and so full of conversation, and how that
these two were, in consequence, on such terms of intimate friendship, it
was, in fact, no matter of surprise that the whole company of
fellow-students began to foster envious thoughts, that they, behind
their backs, passed on their account, this one one disparaging remark
and that one another, and that they insinuated slanderous lies against
them, which extended inside as well as outside the school-room.

Indeed, after Hsüeh P'an had come over to take up his quarters in madame
Wang's suite of apartments, he shortly came to hear of the existence of
a family school, and that this school was mainly attended by young
fellows of tender years, and inordinate ideas were suddenly aroused in
him. While he therefore fictitiously gave out that he went to school,
[he was as irregular in his attendance as the fisherman] who catches
fish for three days, and suns his nets for the next two; simply
presenting his school-fee gift to Chia Tai-jui and making not the least
progress in his studies; his sole dream being to knit a number of
familiar friendships. Who would have thought it, there were in this
school young pupils, who, in their greed to obtain money, clothes and
eatables from Hsüeh P'an, allowed themselves to be cajoled by him, and
played tricks upon; but on this topic, it is likewise superfluous to
dilate at any length.

There were also two lovable young scholars, relatives of what branch of
the family is not known, and whose real surnames and names have also not
been ascertained, who, by reason of their good and winsome looks, were,
by the pupils in the whole class, given two nicknames, to one that of
"Hsiang Lin," "Fragrant Love," and to the other "Yü Ai," "Precious
Affection." But although every one entertained feelings of secret
admiration for them, and had the wish to take liberties with the young
fellows, they lived, nevertheless, one and all, in such terror of Hsüeh
P'an's imperious influence, that they had not the courage to come
forward and interfere with them.

As soon as Ch'in Chung and Pao-yü had, at this time, come to school, and
they had made the acquaintance of these two fellow-pupils, they too
could not help becoming attached to them and admiring them, but as they
also came to know that they were great friends of Hsüeh P'an, they did
not, in consequence, venture to treat them lightly, or to be unseemly in
their behaviour towards them. Hsiang Lin and Yü Ai both kept to
themselves the same feelings, which they fostered for Ch'in Chung and
Pao-yü, and to this reason is to be assigned the fact that though these
four persons nurtured fond thoughts in their hearts there was however no
visible sign of them. Day after day, each one of them would, during
school hours, sit in four distinct places: but their eight eyes were
secretly linked together; and, while indulging either in innuendoes or
in double entendres, their hearts, in spite of the distance between
them, reflected the whole number of their thoughts.

But though their outward attempts were devoted to evade the detection of
other people's eyes, it happened again that, while least expected,
several sly lads discovered the real state of affairs, with the result
that the whole school stealthily frowned their eyebrows at them, winked
their eyes at them, or coughed at them, or raised their voices at them;
and these proceedings were, in fact, not restricted to one single day.

As luck would have it, on this day Tai-jui was, on account of business,
compelled to go home; and having left them as a task no more than a
heptameter line for an antithetical couplet, explaining that they should
find a sentence to rhyme, and that the following day when he came back,
he would set them their lessons, he went on to hand the affairs
connected with the class to his elder grandson, Chia Jui, whom he asked
to take charge.

Wonderful to say Hsüeh P'an had of late not frequented school very
often, not even so much as to answer the roll, so that Ch'in Chung
availed himself of his absence to ogle and smirk with Hsiang Lin; and
these two pretending that they had to go out, came into the back court
for a chat.

"Does your worthy father at home mind your having any friends?" Ch'in
Chung was the first to ask. But this sentence was scarcely ended, when
they heard a sound of coughing coming from behind. Both were taken much
aback, and, speedily turning their heads round to see, they found that
it was a fellow-scholar of theirs, called Chin Jung.

Hsiang Lin was naturally of somewhat hasty temperament, so that with
shame and anger mutually impelling each other, he inquired of him,
"What's there to cough at? Is it likely you wouldn't have us speak to
each other?"

"I don't mind your speaking," Chin Jung observed laughing; "but would
you perchance not have me cough? I'll tell you what, however; if you
have anything to say, why not utter it in intelligible language? Were
you allowed to go on in this mysterious manner, what strange doings
would you be up to? But I have sure enough found you out, so what's the
need of still prevaricating? But if you will, first of all, let me
partake of a share in your little game, you and I can hold our tongue
and utter not a word. If not, why the whole school will begin to turn
the matter over."

At these words, Ch'in Chung and Hsiang Lin were so exasperated that
their blood rushed up to their faces. "What have you found out?" they
hastily asked.

"What I have now detected," replied Chin Jung smiling, "is the plain
truth!" and saying this he went on to clap his hands and to call out
with a loud voice as he laughed: "They have moulded some nice well-baked
cakes, won't you fellows come and buy one to eat!" (These two have been
up to larks, won't you come and have some fun!)

Both Ch'in Chung and Hsiang Lin felt resentful as well as fuming with
rage, and with hurried step they went in, in search of Chia Jui, to whom
they reported Chin Jung, explaining that Chin Jung had insulted them
both, without any rhyme or reason.

The fact is that this Chia Jui was, in an extraordinary degree, a man
with an eye to the main chance, and devoid of any sense of propriety.
His wont was at school to take advantage of public matters to serve his
private interest, and to bring pressure upon his pupils with the intent
that they should regale him. While subsequently he also lent his
countenance to Hsüeh P'an, scheming to get some money or eatables out of
him, he left him entirely free to indulge in disorderly behaviour; and
not only did he not go out of his way to hold him in check, but, on the
contrary, he encouraged him, infamous though he was already, to become a
bully, so as to curry favour with him.

But this Hsüeh P'an was, by nature, gifted with a fickle disposition;
to-day, he would incline to the east, and to-morrow to the west, so that
having recently obtained new friends, he put Hsiang Lin and Yü Ai aside.
Chin Jung too was at one time an intimate friend of his, but ever since
he had acquired the friendship of the two lads, Hsiang Lin and Yü Ai, he
forthwith deposed Chin Jung. Of late, he had already come to look down
upon even Hsiang Lin and Yü Ai, with the result that Chia Jui as well
was deprived of those who could lend him support, or stand by him; but
he bore Hsüeh P'an no grudge, for wearying with old friends, as soon as
he found new ones, but felt angry that Hsiang Lin and Yü Ai had not put
in a word on his behalf with Hsüeh P'an. Chia Jui, Chin Jung and in fact
the whole crowd of them were, for this reason, just harbouring a jealous
grudge against these two, so that when he saw Ch'in Chung and Hsiang Lin
come on this occasion and lodge a complaint against Chin Jung, Chia Jui
readily felt displeasure creep into his heart; and, although he did not
venture to call Ch'in Chung to account, he nevertheless made an example
of Hsiang Lin. And instead (of taking his part), he called him a
busybody and denounced him in much abusive language, with the result
that Hsiang Lin did not, contrariwise, profit in any way, but brought
displeasure upon himself. Even Ch'in Chung grumbled against the
treatment, as each of them resumed their places.

Chin Jung became still more haughty, and wagging his head and smacking
his lips, he gave vent to many more abusive epithets; but as it happened
that they also reached Yü Ai's ears, the two of them, though seated
apart, began an altercation in a loud tone of voice.

Chin Jung, with obstinate pertinacity, clung to his version. "Just a
short while back," he said, "I actually came upon them, as they were
indulging in demonstrations of intimate friendship in the back court.
These two had resolved to be one in close friendship, and were eloquent
in their protestations, mindful only in persistently talking their
trash, but they were not aware of the presence of another person."

But his language had, contrary to all expectations, given, from the very
first, umbrage to another person, and who do you, (gentle reader,)
imagine this person to have been?

This person was, in fact, one whose name was Chia Se; a grandson
likewise of a main branch of the Ning mansion. His parents had died at
an early period, and he had, ever since his youth, lived with Chia Chen.
He had at this time grown to be sixteen years of age, and was, as
compared with Chia Jung, still more handsome and good looking. These two
cousins were united by ties of the closest intimacy, and were always
together, whether they went out or stayed at home.

The inmates of the Ning mansion were many in number, and their opinions
of a mixed kind; and that whole bevy of servants, devoid as they were of
all sense of right, solely excelled in the practice of inventing stories
to backbite their masters; and this is how some mean person or other
again, who it was is not known, insinuated slanderous and opprobrious
reports (against Chia Se). Chia Chen had, presumably, also come to hear
some unfavourable criticisms (on his account), and having, of course, to
save himself from odium and suspicion, he had, at this juncture, after
all, to apportion him separate quarters, and to bid Chia Se move outside
the Ning mansion, where he went and established a home of his own to
live in.

This Chia Se was handsome as far as external appearances went, and
intelligent withal in his inward natural gifts, but, though he nominally
came to school, it was simply however as a mere blind; for he treated,
as he had ever done, as legitimate occupations, such things as cock
fighting, dog-racing and visiting places of easy virtue. And as, above,
he had Chia Chen to spoil him by over-indulgence; and below, there was
Chia Jung to stand by him, who of the clan could consequently presume to
run counter to him?

Seeing that he was on the closest terms of friendship with Chia Jung,
how could he reconcile himself to the harsh treatment which he now saw
Ch'in Chung receive from some persons? Being now bent upon pushing
himself forward to revenge the injustice, he was, for the time, giving
himself up to communing with his own heart. "Chin Jung, Chia Jui and the
rest are," he pondered, "friends of uncle Hsüeh, but I too am on
friendly terms with him, and he with me, and if I do come forward and
they tell old Hsüeh, won't we impair the harmony which exists between
us? and if I don't concern myself, such idle tales make, when spoken,
every one feel uncomfortable; and why shouldn't I now devise some means
to hold them in check, so as to stop their mouths, and prevent any loss
of face!"

Having concluded this train of thought, he also pretended that he had to
go out, and, walking as far as the back, he, with low voice, called to
his side Ming Yen, the page attending upon Pao-yü in his studies, and in
one way and another, he made use of several remarks to egg him on.

This Ming Yen was the smartest of Pao-yü's attendants, but he was also
young in years and lacked experience, so that he lent a patient ear to
what Chia Se had to say about the way Chin Jung had insulted Ch'in
Chung. "Even your own master, Pao-yü," (Chia Se added), "is involved,
and if you don't let him know a bit of your mind, he will next time be
still more arrogant."

This Ming Yen was always ready, even with no valid excuse, to be
insolent and overbearing to people, so that after hearing the news and
being furthermore instigated by Chia Se, he speedily rushed into the
schoolroom and cried out "Chin Jung;" nor did he address him as Mr.
Chin, but merely shouted "What kind of fellow is this called Chin?"

Chia Se presently shuffled his feet, while he designedly adjusted his
dress and looked at the rays of the sun. "It's time," he observed and
walking forthwith, first up to Chia Jui, he explained to him that he had
something to attend to and would like to get away a little early; and as
Chia Jui did not venture to stop him, he had no alternative but to let
him have his way and go.

During this while, Ming Yen had entered the room and promptly seizing
Chin Jung in a grip: "What we do, whether proper or improper," he said,
"doesn't concern you! It's enough anyway that we don't defile your
father! A fine brat you are indeed, to come out and meddle with your Mr.

These words plunged the scholars of the whole class in such
consternation that they all wistfully and absently looked at him.

"Ming Yen," hastily shouted out Chia Jui, "you're not to kick up a

Chin Jung was so full of anger that his face was quite yellow. "What a
subversion of propriety! a slave and a menial to venture to behave in
this manner! I'll just simply speak to your master," he exclaimed as he
readily pushed his hands off and was about to go and lay hold of Pao-yü
to beat him.

Ch'in Chung was on the point of turning round to leave the room, when
with a sound of 'whiff' which reached him from behind, he at once caught
sight of a square inkslab come flying that way. Who had thrown it he
could not say, but it struck the desk where Chia Lan and Chia Chün were

These two, Chia Lan and Chia Chün, were also the great-grandsons of a
close branch of the Jung mansion. This Chia Chün had been left
fatherless at an early age, and his mother doated upon him in an unusual
manner, and it was because at school he was on most friendly terms with
Chia Lan, that these two sat together at the same desk. Who would have
believed that Chia Chün would, in spite of being young in years, have
had an extremely strong mind, and that he would be mostly up to mischief
without the least fear of any one. He watched with listless eye from his
seat Chin Jung's friends stealthily assist Chin Jung, as they flung an
inkslab to strike Ming Yen, but when, as luck would have it, it hit the
wrong mark, and fell just in front of him, smashing to atoms the
porcelain inkslab and water bottle, and smudging his whole book with
ink, Chia Chün was, of course, much incensed, and hastily gave way to
abuse. "You consummate pugnacious criminal rowdies! why, doesn't this
amount to all of you taking a share in the fight!" And as he uttered
this abuse, he too forthwith seized an inkslab, which he was bent upon

Chia Lan was one who always tried to avoid trouble, so that he lost no
time in pressing down the inkslab, while with all the words his mouth
could express, he tried to pacify him, adding "My dear brother, it's no
business of yours and mine."

Chia Chün could not repress his resentment; and perceiving that the
inkslab was held down, he at once laid hold of a box containing books,
which he flung in this direction; but being, after all, short of
stature, and weak of strength, he was unable to send it anywhere near
the mark; so that it dropped instead when it got as far as the desk
belonging to Pao-yü and Ch'in Chung, while a dreadful crash became
audible as it fell smash on the table. The books, papers, pencils,
inkslabs, and other writing materials were all scattered over the whole
table; and Pao-yü's cup besides containing tea was itself broken to
pieces and the tea spilt.

Chia Chün forthwith jumped forward with the intent of assailing the
person who had flung the inkslab at the very moment that Chin Jung took
hold of a long bamboo pole which was near by; but as the space was
limited, and the pupils many, how could he very well brandish a long
stick? Ming Yen at an early period received a whack, and he shouted
wildly, "Don't you fellows yet come to start a fight."

Pao-yü had, besides, along with him several pages, one of whom was
called Sao Hung, another Ch'u Yo, another Mo Yü. These three were
naturally up to every mischief, so that with one voice, bawling
boisterously, "You children of doubtful mothers, have you taken up
arms?" Mo Yü promptly took up the bar of a door; while Sao Hung and Ch'u
Yo both laid hold of horsewhips, and they all rushed forward like a hive
of bees.

Chia Jui was driven to a state of exasperation; now he kept this one in
check, and the next moment he reasoned with another, but who would
listen to his words? They followed the bent of their inclinations and
stirred up a serious disturbance.

Of the whole company of wayward young fellows, some there were who gave
sly blows for fun's sake; others there were who were not gifted with
much pluck and hid themselves on one side; there were those too who
stood on the tables, clapping their hands and laughing immoderately,
shouting out: "Go at it."

The row was, at this stage, like water bubbling over in a cauldron, when
several elderly servants, like Li Kuei and others, who stood outside,
heard the uproar commence inside, and one and all came in with all haste
and united in their efforts to pacify them. Upon asking "What's the
matter?" the whole bevy of voices shouted out different versions; this
one giving this account, while another again another story. But Li Kuei
temporised by rebuking Ming Yen and others, four in all, and packing
them off.

Ch'in Chung's head had, at an early period, come into contact with Chin
Jung's pole and had had the skin grazed off. Pao-yü was in the act of
rubbing it for him, with the overlap of his coat, but realising that the
whole lot of them had been hushed up, he forthwith bade Li Kuei collect
his books.

"Bring my horse round," he cried; "I'm going to tell Mr. Chia Tai-ju
that we have been insulted. I won't venture to tell him anything else,
but (tell him I will) that having come with all propriety and made our
report to Mr. Chia Jui, Mr. Chia Jui instead (of helping us) threw the
fault upon our shoulders. That while he heard people abuse us, he went
so far as to instigate them to beat us; that Ming Yen seeing others
insult us, did naturally take our part; but that they, instead (of
desisting,) combined together and struck Ming Yen and even broke open
Ch'in Chung's head. And that how is it possible for us to continue our
studies in here?"

"My dear sir," replied Li Kuei coaxingly, "don't be so impatient! As Mr.
Chia Tai-ju has had something to attend to and gone home, were you now,
for a trifle like this, to go and disturb that aged gentleman, it will
make us, indeed, appear as if we had no sense of propriety: my idea is
that wherever a thing takes place, there should it be settled; and
what's the need of going and troubling an old man like him. This is all
you, Mr. Chia Jui, who is to blame; for in the absence of Mr. Chia
Tai-ju, you, sir, are the head in this school, and every one looks to
you to take action. Had all the pupils been at fault, those who deserved
a beating should have been beaten, and those who merited punishment
should have been punished! and why did you wait until things came to
such a pass, and didn't even exercise any check?"

"I blew them up," pleaded Chia Jui, "but not one of them would listen."

"I'll speak out, whether you, worthy sir, resent what I'm going to say
or not," ventured Li Kuei. "It's you, sir, who all along have after all
had considerable blame attached to your name; that's why all these young
men wouldn't hear you! Now if this affair is bruited, until it reaches
Mr. Chia Tai-ju's ears, why even you, sir, will not be able to escape
condemnation; and why don't you at once make up your mind to disentangle
the ravelled mess and dispel all trouble and have done with it!"

"Disentangle what?" inquired Pao-yü; "I shall certainly go and make my

"If Chin Jung stays here," interposed Ch'in Chung sobbing, "I mean to go
back home."

"Why that?" asked Pao-yü. "Is it likely that others can safely come and
that you and I can't? I feel it my bounden duty to tell every one
everything at home so as to expel Chin Jung. This Chin Jung," he went on
to inquire as he turned towards Lei Kuei, "is the relative or friend of
what branch of the family?"

Li Kuei gave way to reflection and then said by way of reply: "There's
no need whatever for you to raise this question; for were you to go and
report the matter to the branch of the family to which he belongs, the
harmony which should exist between cousins will be still more impaired."

"He's the nephew of Mrs. Huang, of the Eastern mansion," interposed Ming
Yen from outside the window. "What a determined and self-confident
fellow he must be to even come and bully us; Mrs. Huang is his paternal
aunt! That mother of yours is only good for tossing about like a
millstone, for kneeling before our lady Lien, and begging for something
to pawn. I've no eye for such a specimen of mistress."

"What!" speedily shouted Li Kuei, "does this son of a dog happen to know
of the existence of all these gnawing maggots?" (these disparaging

Pao-yü gave a sardonic smile. "I was wondering whose relative he was,"
he remarked; "is he really sister-in-law Huang's nephew? well, I'll go
at once and speak to her."

As he uttered these words, his purpose was to start there and then, and
he called Ming Yen in, to come and pack up his books. Ming Yen walked in
and put the books away. "Master," he went on to suggest, in an exultant
manner, "there's no need for you to go yourself to see her; I'll go to
her house and tell her that our old lady has something to ask of her. I
can hire a carriage to bring her over, and then, in the presence of her
venerable ladyship, she can be spoken to; and won't this way save a lot
of trouble?"

"Do you want to die?" speedily shouted Li Kuei; "mind, when you go back,
whether right or wrong, I'll first give you a good bumping, and then go
and report you to our master and mistress, and just tell them that it's
you, and only you, who instigated Mr. Pao-yü! I've succeeded, after ever
so much trouble, in coaxing them, and mending matters to a certain
extent, and now you come again to continue a new plan. It's you who
stirred up this row in the school-room; and not to speak of your
finding, as would have been the proper course, some way of suppressing
it, there you are instead still jumping into the fire."

Ming Yen, at this juncture, could not muster the courage to utter a
sound. By this time Chia Jui had also apprehended that if the row came
to be beyond clearing up, he himself would likewise not be clear of
blame, so that circumstances compelled him to pocket his grievances and
to come and entreat Ch'in Chung as well as to make apologies to Pao-yü.
These two young fellows would not at first listen to his advances, but
Pao-yü at length explained that he would not go and report the
occurrence, provided only Chin Jung admitted his being in the wrong.
Chin Jung refused, at the outset, to agree to this, but he ultimately
could find no way out of it, as Chia Jui himself urged him to make some
temporising apology.

Li Kuei and the others felt compelled to tender Chin Jung some good
advice: "It's you," they said, "who have given rise to the disturbance,
and if you don't act in this manner, how will the matter ever be brought
to an end?" so that Chin Jung found it difficult to persist in his
obstinacy, and was constrained to make a bow to Ch'in Chung.

Pao-yü was, however, not yet satisfied, but would insist upon his
knocking his head on the ground, and Chia Jui, whose sole aim was to
temporarily smother the affair, quietly again urged Chin Jung, adding
that the proverb has it: "That if you keep down the anger of a minute,
you will for a whole life-time feel no remorse."

Whether Chin Jung complied or not to his advice is not known, but the
following chapter will explain.


Widow Chin, prompted by a desire to reap advantage, puts up
temporarily with an insult.
Dr. Chang in discussing Mrs. Chin's illness minutely exhausts its

We will now resume our story. As the persons against Chin Jung were so
many and their pressure so great, and as, what was more, Chia Jui urged
him to make amends, he had to knock his head on the ground before Ch'in
Chung. Pao-yü then gave up his clamorous remonstrances and the whole
crowd dispersed from school.

Chin Jung himself returned home all alone, but the more he pondered on
the occurrence, the more incensed he felt. "Ch'in Chung," he argued, "is
simply Chia Jung's young brother-in-law, and is no son or grandson of
the Chia family, and he too joins the class and prosecutes his studies
on no other footing than that of mine; but it's because he relies upon
Pao-yü's friendship for him that he has no eye for any one. This being
the case, he should be somewhat proper in his behaviour, and there would
be then not a word to say about it! He has besides all along been very
mystical with Pao-yü, imagining that we are all blind, and have no eyes
to see what's up! Here he goes again to-day and mixes with people in
illicit intrigues; and it's all because they happened to obtrude
themselves before my very eyes that this rumpus has broken out; but of
what need I fear?"

His mother, née Hu, hearing him mutter; "Why meddle again," she
explained, "in things that don't concern you? I had endless trouble in
getting to speak to your paternal aunt; and your aunt had, on the other
hand, a thousand and one ways and means to devise, before she could
appeal to lady Secunda, of the Western mansion; and then only it was
that you got this place to study in. Had we not others to depend upon
for your studies, would we have in our house the means sufficient to
engage a teacher? Besides, in other people's school, tea and eatables
are all ready and found; and these two years that you've been there for
your lessons, we've likewise effected at home a great saving in what
would otherwise have been necessary for your eating and use. Something
has been, it's true, economised; but you have further a liking for spick
and span clothes. Besides, it's only through your being there to study,
that you've come to know Mr. Hsüeh! that Mr. Hsüeh, who has even in one
year given us so much pecuniary assistance as seventy and eighty taels!
And now you would go and raise a row in this school-room! why, if we
were bent upon finding such another place, I tell you plainly, and once
for all, that we would find it more difficult than if we tried to scale
the heavens! Now do quietly play for a while, and then go to sleep, and
you'll be ever so much better for it then."

Chin Jung thereupon stifled his anger and held his tongue; and, after a
short while, he in fact went to sleep of his own accord.

The next day he again went to school, and no further comment need be
made about it; but we will go on to explain that a young lady related to
her had at one time been given in marriage to a descendant (of the
eldest branch) of the Chia family, (whose names were written) with the
jade radical, Chia Huang by name; but how could the whole number of
members of the clan equal in affluence and power the two mansions of
Ning and Jung? This fact goes, as a matter of course, without saying.
The Chia Huang couple enjoyed some small income; but they also went, on
frequent occasions, to the mansions of Ning and Jung to pay their
respects; and they knew likewise so well how to adulate lady Feng and
Mrs. Yu, that lady Feng and Mrs. Yu would often grant them that
assistance and support which afforded them the means of meeting their
daily expenses.

It just occurred on this occasion that the weather was clear and fine,
and that there happened, on the other hand, to be nothing to attend to
at home, so forthwith taking along with her a matron, (Mrs. Chia Huang)
got into a carriage and came over to see widow Chin and her nephew.
While engaged in a chat, Chin Jung's mother accidentally broached the
subject of the affair, which had transpired in the school-room of the
Chia mansion on the previous day, and she gave, for the benefit of her
young sister-in-law, a detailed account of the whole occurrence from
beginning to end.

This Mrs. Huang would not have had her temper ruffled had she not come
to hear what had happened; but having heard about it, anger sprung from
the very depths of her heart. "This fellow, Ch'in Chung," she exclaimed,
"is a relative of the Chia family, but is it likely that Jung Erh isn't,
in like manner, a relative of the Chia family; and when relatives are
many, there's no need to put on airs! Besides, does his conduct consist,
for the most part, of anything that would make one get any face? In
fact, Pao-yü himself shouldn't do injury to himself by condescending to
look at him. But, as things have come to this pass, give me time and
I'll go to the Eastern mansion and see our lady Chen and then have a
chat with Ch'in Chung's sister, and ask her to decide who's right and
who's wrong!"

Chin Jung's mother upon hearing these words was terribly distressed.
"It's all through my hasty tongue," she observed with vehemence, "that
I've told you all, sister-in-law: but please, sister, give up at once
the idea of going over to say anything about it! Don't trouble yourself
as to who is in the right, and who is in the wrong; for were any
unpleasantness to come out of it, how could we here stand on our legs?
and were we not to stand on our legs, not only would we never be able to
engage a tutor, but the result will be, on the contrary, that for his
own person will be superadded many an expense for eatables and

"What do I care about how many?" replied Mrs. Huang; "wait till I've
spoken about it, and we'll see what will be the result." Nor would she
accede to her sister-in-law's entreaties, but bidding, at the same time,
the matron look after the carriage, she got into it, and came over to
the Ning Mansion.

On her arrival at the Ning Mansion, she entered by the eastern side
gate, and dismounting from the carriage, she went in to call on Mrs. Yu,
the spouse of Chia Chen, with whom she had not the courage to put on any
high airs; but gently and quietly she made inquiries after her health,
and after passing some irrelevant remarks, she ascertained: "How is it I
don't see lady Jung to-day?"

"I don't know," replied Mrs. Yu, "what's the matter with her these last
few days; but she hasn't been herself for two months and more; and the
doctor who was asked to see her declares that it is nothing connected
with any happy event. A couple of days back, she felt, as soon as the
afternoon came, both to move, and both even to utter a word; while the
brightness of her eyes was all dimmed; and I told her, 'You needn't
stick to etiquette, for there's no use for you to come in the forenoon
and evening, as required by conventionalities; but what you must do is,
to look after your own health. Should any relative come over, there's
also myself to receive them; and should any of the senior generation
think your absence strange, I'll explain things for you, if you'll let

"I also advised brother Jung on the subject: 'You shouldn't,' I said,
'allow any one to trouble her; nor let her be put out of temper, but let
her quietly attend to her health, and she'll get all right. Should she
fancy anything to eat, just come over here and fetch it; for, in the
event of anything happening to her, were you to try and find another
such a wife to wed, with such a face and such a disposition, why, I
fear, were you even to seek with a lantern in hand, there would really
be no place where you could discover her. And with such a temperament
and deportment as hers, which of our relatives and which of our elders
don't love her?' That's why my heart has been very distressed these two
days! As luck would have it early this morning her brother turned up to
see her, but who would have fancied him to be such a child, and so
ignorant of what is proper and not proper to do? He saw well enough that
his sister was not well; and what's more all these matters shouldn't
have been recounted to her; for even supposing he had received the
gravest offences imaginable, it behoved him anyhow not to have broached
the subject to her! Yesterday, one would scarcely believe it, a fight
occurred in the school-room, and some pupil or other who attends that
class, somehow insulted him; besides, in this business, there were a
good many indecent and improper utterances, but all these he went and
told his sister! Now, sister-in-law, you are well aware that though (our
son Jung's) wife talks and laughs when she sees people, that she is
nevertheless imaginative and withal too sensitive, so that no matter
what she hears, she's for the most part bound to brood over it for three
days and five nights, before she loses sight of it, and it's from this
excessive sensitiveness that this complaint of hers arises. Today, when
she heard that some one had insulted her brother, she felt both vexed
and angry; vexed that those fox-like, cur-like friends of his had moved
right and wrong, and intrigued with this one and deluded that one; angry
that her brother had, by not learning anything profitable, and not
having his mind set upon study, been the means of bringing about a row
at school; and on account of this affair, she was so upset that she did
not even have her early meal. I went over a short while back and
consoled her for a time, and likewise gave her brother a few words of
advice; and after having packed off that brother of hers to the mansion
on the other side, in search of Pao-yü, and having stood by and seen her
have half a bowl of birds' nests soup, I at length came over. Now,
sister-in-law, tell me, is my heart sore or not? Besides, as there's
nowadays no good doctor, the mere thought of her complaint makes my
heart feel as if it were actually pricked with needles! But do you and
yours, perchance, know of any good practitioner?"

Mrs. Chin had, while listening to these words, been, at an early period,
so filled with concern that she cast away to distant lands the reckless
rage she had been in recently while at her sister-in-law's house, when
she had determined to go and discuss matters over with Mrs. Ch'in. Upon
hearing Mrs. Yu inquire of her about a good doctor, she lost no time in
saying by way of reply: "Neither have we heard of any one speak of a
good doctor; but from the account I've just heard of Mrs. Ch'in's
illness, it may still, there's no saying, be some felicitous ailment;
so, sister-in-law, don't let any one treat her recklessly, for were she
to be treated for the wrong thing, the result may be dreadful!"

"Quite so!" replied Mrs. Yu.

But while they were talking, Chia Chen came in from out of doors, and
upon catching sight of Mrs. Chin; "Isn't this Mrs. Huang?" he inquired
of Mrs. Yu; whereupon Mrs. Chin came forward and paid her respects to
Chia Chen.

"Invite this lady to have her repast here before she goes," observed
Chia Chen to Mrs. Yu; and as he uttered these words he forthwith walked
into the room on the off side.

The object of Mrs. Chin's present visit had originally been to talk to
Mrs. Ch'in about the insult which her brother had received from the
hands of Ch'in Chung, but when she heard that Mrs. Ch'in was ill, she
did not have the courage to even so much as make mention of the object
of her errand. Besides, as Chia Chen and Mrs. Yu had given her a most
cordial reception, her resentment was transformed into pleasure, so that
after a while spent in a further chat about one thing and another, she
at length returned to her home.

It was only after the departure of Mrs. Chin that Chia Chen came over
and took a seat. "What did she have to say for herself during this visit
to-day?" he asked of Mrs. Yu.

"She said nothing much," replied Mrs. Yu. "When she first entered the
room, her face bore somewhat of an angry look, but, after a lengthy chat
and as soon as mention of our son's wife's illness was made, this
angered look after all gradually abated. You also asked me to keep her
for the repast, but, having heard that our son's wife was so ill she
could not very well stay, so that all she did was to sit down, and after
making a few more irrelevant remarks, she took her departure. But she
had no request to make. To return however now to the illness of Jung's
wife, it's urgent that you should find somewhere a good doctor to
diagnose it for her; and whatever you do, you should lose no time. The
whole body of doctors who at present go in and out of our household, are
they worth having? Each one of them listens to what the patient has to
say of the ailment, and then, adding a string of flowery sentences, out
he comes with a long rigmarole; but they are exceedingly diligent in
paying us visits; and in one day, three or four of them are here at
least four and five times in rotation! They come and feel her pulse,
they hold consultation together, and write their prescriptions, but,
though she has taken their medicines, she has seen no improvement; on
the contrary, she's compelled to change her clothes three and five times
each day, and to sit up to see the doctor; a thing which, in fact, does
the patient no good."

"This child too is somewhat simple," observed Chia Chen; "for what need
has she to be taking off her clothes, and changing them for others? And
were she again to catch a chill, she would add something more to her
illness; and won't it be dreadful! The clothes may be no matter how
fine, but what is their worth, after all? The health of our child is
what is important to look to! and were she even to wear out a suit of
new clothes a-day, what would that too amount to? I was about to tell
you that a short while back, Feng Tzu-ying came to see me, and,
perceiving that I had somewhat of a worried look, he asked me what was
up; and I told him that our son's wife was not well at all, that as we
couldn't get any good doctor, we couldn't determine with any certainty,
whether she was in an interesting condition, or whether she was
suffering from some disease; that as we could neither tell whether there
was any danger or not, my heart was, for this reason, really very much
distressed. Feng Tzu-ying then explained that he knew a young doctor who
had made a study of his profession, Chang by surname, and Yu-shih by
name, whose learning was profound to a degree; who was besides most
proficient in the principles of medicine, and had the knack of
discriminating whether a patient would live or die; that this year he
had come to the capital to purchase an official rank for his son, and
that he was now living with him in his house. In view of these
circumstances, not knowing but that if, perchance, the case of our
daughter-in-law were placed in his hands, he couldn't avert the danger,
I readily despatched a servant, with a card of mine, to invite him to
come; but the hour to-day being rather late, he probably won't be round,
but I believe he's sure to be here to-morrow. Besides, Feng-Tzu-ying was
also on his return home, to personally entreat him on my behalf, so that
he's bound, when he has asked him, to come and see her. Let's therefore
wait till Dr. Chang has been here and seen her, when we can talk matters

Mrs. Yu was very much cheered when she heard what was said. "The day
after to-morrow," she felt obliged to add, "is again our senior's, Mr.
Chia Ching's birthday, and how are we to celebrate it after all?"

"I've just been over to our Senior's and paid my respects," replied Chia
Chen, "and further invited the old gentleman to come home, and receive
the congratulations of the whole family.

"'I'm accustomed,' our Senior explained, 'to peace and quiet, and have
no wish to go over to that worldly place of yours; for you people are
certain to have published that it's my birthday, and to entertain the
design to ask me to go round to receive the bows of the whole lot of
you. But won't it be better if you were to give the "Record of
Meritorious Acts," which I annotated some time ago, to some one to copy
out clean for me, and have it printed? Compared with asking me to come,
and uselessly receive the obeisances of you all, this will be yea even a
hundred times more profitable! In the event of the whole family wishing
to pay me a visit on any of the two days, to-morrow or the day after
to-morrow, if you were to stay at home and entertain them in proper
style, that will be all that is wanted; nor will there be any need to
send me anything! Even you needn't come two days from this; and should
you not feel contented at heart, well, you had better bow your head
before me to-day before you go. But if you do come again the day after
to-morrow, with a lot of people to disturb me, I shall certainly be
angry with you.' After what he said, I will not venture to go and see
him two days hence; but you had better send for Lai Sheng, and bid him
get ready a banquet to continue for a couple of days."

Mrs. Yu, having asked Chia Jung to come round, told him to direct Lai
Sheng to make the usual necessary preparations for a banquet to last for
a couple of days, with due regard to a profuse and sumptuous style.

"You go by-and-by," (she advised him), "in person to the Western Mansion
and invite dowager lady Chia, mesdames Hsing and Wang, and your
sister-in-law Secunda lady Lien to come over for a stroll. Your father
has also heard of a good doctor, and having already sent some one to ask
him round, I think that by to-morrow he's sure to come; and you had
better tell him, in a minute manner, the serious symptoms of her ailment
during these few days."

Chia Jung having signified his obedience to each of her recommendations,
and taken his leave, was just in time to meet the youth coming back from
Feng Tzu-ying's house, whither he had gone a short while back to invite
the doctor round.

"Your slave," he consequently reported, "has just been with a card of
master's to Mr. Feng's house and asked the doctor to come. 'The gentleman
here,' replied the doctor, 'has just told me about it; but to-day, I've
had to call on people the whole day, and I've only this moment come
home; and I feel now my strength (so worn out), that I couldn't really
stand any exertion. In fact were I even to get as far as the mansion, I
shouldn't be in a fit state to diagnose the pulses! I must therefore
have a night's rest, but, to-morrow for certain, I shall come to the
mansion. My medical knowledge,' he went on to observe, 'is very shallow,
and I don't deserve the honour of such eminent recommendation; but as
Mr. Feng has already thus spoken of me in your mansion, I can't but
present myself. It will be all right if in anticipation you deliver this
message for me to your honourable master; but as for your worthy
master's card, I cannot really presume to keep it.' It was again at his
instance that I've brought it back; but, Sir, please mention this result
for me (to master)."

Chia Jung turned back again, and entering the house delivered the
message to Chia Chen and Mrs. Yu; whereupon he walked out, and, calling
Lai Sheng before him, he transmitted to him the orders to prepare the
banquet for a couple of days.

After Lai Sheng had listened to the directions, he went off, of course,
to get ready the customary preparations; but upon these we shall not
dilate, but confine ourselves to the next day.

At noon, a servant on duty at the gate announced that the Doctor Chang,
who had been sent for, had come, and Chia Chen conducted him along the
Court into the large reception Hall, where they sat down; and after they
had partaken of tea, he broached the subject.

"Yesterday," he explained, "the estimable Mr. Feng did me the honour to
speak to me of your character and proficiency, venerable doctor, as well
as of your thorough knowledge of medicine, and I, your mean brother, was
filled with an immeasurable sense of admiration!"

"Your Junior," remonstrated Dr. Chang, "is a coarse, despicable and mean
scholar and my knowledge is shallow and vile! but as worthy Mr. Feng did
me the honour yesterday of telling me that your family, sir, had
condescended to look upon me, a low scholar, and to favour me too with
an invitation, could I presume not to obey your commands? But as I
cannot boast of the least particle of real learning, I feel overburdened
with shame!"

"Why need you be so modest?" observed Chia Chen; "Doctor, do please walk
in at once to see our son's wife, for I look up, with full reliance, to
your lofty intelligence to dispel my solicitude!"

Chia Jung forthwith walked in with him. When they reached the inner
apartment, and he caught sight of Mrs. Ch'in, he turned round and asked
Chia Jung, "This is your honourable spouse, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is," assented Chia Jung; "but please, Doctor, take a seat, and
let me tell you the symptoms of my humble wife's ailment, before her
pulse be felt. Will this do?"

"My mean idea is," remarked the Doctor, "that it would, after all, be
better that I should begin by feeling her pulse, before I ask you to
inform me what the source of the ailment is. This is the first visit I
pay to your honourable mansion; besides, I possess no knowledge of
anything; but as our worthy Mr. Feng would insist upon my coming over to
see you, I had in consequence no alternative but to come. After I have
now made a diagnosis, you can judge whether what I say is right or not,
before you explain to me the phases of the complaint during the last few
days, and we can deliberate together upon some prescription; as to the
suitableness or unsuitableness of which your honourable father will then
have to decide, and what is necessary will have been done."

"Doctor," rejoined Chia Jung, "you are indeed eminently clear sighted;
all I regret at present is that we have met so late! But please, Doctor,
diagnose the state of the pulse, so as to find out whether there be hope
of a cure or not; if a cure can be effected, it will be the means of
allaying the solicitude of my father and mother."

The married women attached to that menage forthwith presented a pillow;
and as it was being put down for Mrs. Ch'in to rest her arm on, they
raised the lower part of her sleeve so as to leave her wrist exposed.
The Doctor thereupon put out his hand and pressed it on the pulse of the
right hand. Regulating his breath (to the pulsation) so as to be able to
count the beatings, he with due care and minuteness felt the action for
a considerable time, when, substituting the left hand, he again went
through the same operation.

"Let us go and sit outside," he suggested, after he had concluded
feeling her pulses. Chia Jung readily adjourned, in company with the
Doctor, to the outer apartment, where they seated themselves on the
stove-couch. A matron having served tea; "Please take a cup of tea,
doctor," Chia Jung observed. When tea was over, "Judging," he inquired,
"Doctor, from the present action of the pulses, is there any remedy or

"The action of the pulse, under the forefinger, on the left hand of your
honorable spouse," proceeded the Doctor, "is deep and agitated; the left
hand pulse, under the second finger, is deep and faint. The pulse, under
the forefinger, of the right hand, is gentle and lacks vitality. The
right hand pulse, under my second finger, is superficial, and has lost
all energy. The deep and agitated beating of the forepulse of the left
hand arises from the febrile state, due to the weak action of the heart.
The deep and delicate condition of the second part of the pulse of the
left wrist, emanates from the sluggishness of the liver, and the
scarcity of the blood in that organ. The action of the forefinger pulse,
of the right wrist, is faint and lacks strength, as the breathing of the
lungs is too weak. The second finger pulse of the right wrist is
superficial and devoid of vigour, as the spleen must be affected
injuriously by the liver. The weak action of the heart, and its febrile
state, should be the natural causes which conduce to the present
irregularity in the catamenia, and insomnia at night; the poverty of
blood in the liver, and the sluggish condition of that organ must
necessarily produce pain in the ribs; while the overdue of the
catamenia, the cardiac fever, and debility of the respiration of the
lungs, should occasion frequent giddiness in the head, and swimming of
the eyes, the certain recurrence of perspiration between the periods of
3 to 5 and 5 to 7, and the sensation of being seated on board ship. The
obstruction of the spleen by the liver should naturally create distaste
for liquid or food, debility of the vital energies and prostration of
the four limbs. From my diagnosis of these pulses, there should exist
these various symptoms, before (the pulses and the symptoms can be said)
to harmonise. But should perchance (any doctor maintain) that this state
of the pulses imports a felicitous event, your servant will not presume
to give an ear to such an opinion!"

A matron, who was attached as a personal attendant (to Mrs. Ch'in,) and
who happened to be standing by interposed: "How could it be otherwise?"
she ventured. "In real truth, Doctor, you speak like a supernatural
being, and there's verily no need for us to say anything! We have now,
ready at hand, in our household, a good number of medical gentlemen, who
are in attendance upon her, but none of these are proficient enough to
speak in this positive manner. Some there are who say that it's a
genital complaint; others maintain that it's an organic disease. This
doctor explains that there is no danger: while another, again, holds
that there's fear of a crisis either before or after the winter
solstice; but there is, in one word, nothing certain said by them. May
it please you, sir, now to favour us with your clear directions."

"This complaint of your lady's," observed the Doctor, "has certainly
been neglected by the whole number of doctors; for had a treatment with
certain medicines been initiated at the time of the first occurrence of
her habitual sickness, I cannot but opine that, by this time, a perfect
cure would have been effected. But seeing that the organic complaint has
now been, through neglect, allowed to reach this phase, this calamity
was, in truth, inevitable. My ideas are that this illness stands, as
yet, a certain chance of recovery, (three chances out of ten); but we
will see how she gets on, after she has had these medicines of mine.
Should they prove productive of sleep at night, then there will be added
furthermore two more chances in the grip of our hands. From my
diagnosis, your lady is a person, gifted with a preëminently excellent,
and intelligent disposition; but an excessive degree of intelligence is
the cause of frequent contrarieties; and frequent contrarieties give
origin to an excessive amount of anxious cares. This illness arises from
the injury done, by worrying and fretting, to the spleen, and from the
inordinate vigour of the liver; hence it is that the relief cannot come
at the proper time and season. Has not your lady, may I ask, heretofore
at the period of the catamenia, suffered, if indeed not from anaemia,
then necessarily from plethora? Am I right in assuming this or not?"

"To be sure she did," replied the matron; "but she has never been
subject to anaemia, but to a plethora, varying from either two to three
days, and extending, with much irregularity, to even ten days."

"Quite so!" observed the Doctor, after hearing what she had to say, "and
this is the source of this organic illness! Had it in past days been
treated with such medicine as could strengthen the heart, and improve
the respiration, would it have reached this stage? This has now overtly
made itself manifest in an ailment originating from the paucity of water
and the vigour of fire; but let me make use of some medicines, and we'll
see how she gets on!"

There and then he set to work and wrote a prescription, which he handed
to Chia Jung, the purpose of which was: Decoction for the improvement of
respiration, the betterment of the blood, and the restoration of the
spleen. Ginseng, Atractylodes Lancea; Yunnan root; Prepared Ti root;
Aralia edulis; Peony roots; Levisticum from Sze Ch'uan; Sophora
tormentosa; Cyperus rotundus, prepared with rice; Gentian, soaked in
vinegar; Huai Shan Yao root; Real "O" glue; Carydalis Ambigua; and Dried
liquorice. Seven Fukien lotus seeds, (the cores of which should be
extracted,) and two large zizyphi to be used as a preparative.

"What exalted intelligence!" Chia Jung, after perusing it, exclaimed.
"But I would also ask you, Doctor, to be good enough to tell me whether
this illness will, in the long run, endanger her life or not?"

The Doctor smiled. "You, sir, who are endowed with most eminent
intelligence (are certain to know) that when a human illness has reached
this phase, it is not a derangement of a day or of a single night; but
after these medicines have been taken, we shall also have to watch the
effect of the treatment! My humble opinion is that, as far as the winter
of this year goes, there is no fear; in fact, after the spring equinox,
I entertain hopes of a complete cure."

Chia Jung was likewise a person with all his wits about him, so that he
did not press any further minute questions.

Chia Jung forthwith escorted the Doctor and saw him off, and taking the
prescription and the diagnosis, he handed them both to Chia Chen for his
perusal, and in like manner recounted to Chia Chen and Mrs. Yu all that
had been said on the subject.

"The other doctors have hitherto not expressed any opinions as positive
as this one has done," observed Mrs. Yu, addressing herself to Chia
Chen, "so that the medicines to be used are, I think, surely the right

"He really isn't a man," rejoined Chia Chen, "accustomed to give much of
his time to the practice of medicine, in order to earn rice for his
support: and it's Feng Tzu-ying, who is so friendly with us, who is
mainly to be thanked for succeeding, after ever so much trouble, in
inducing him to come. But now that we have this man, the illness of our
son's wife may, there is no saying, stand a chance of being cured. But
on that prescription of his there is ginseng mentioned, so you had
better make use of that catty of good quality which was bought the other

Chia Jung listened until the conversation came to a close, after which
he left the room, and bade a servant go and buy the medicines, in order
that they should be prepared and administered to Mrs. Ch'in.

What was the state of Mrs. Ch'in's illness, after she partook of these
medicines, we do not know; but, reader, listen to the explanation given
in the chapter which follows.


In honour of Chia Ching's birthday, a family banquet is spread in the
Ning Mansion.
At the sight of Hsi-feng, Chia Jui entertains feelings of licentious

We will now explain, in continuation of our story, that on the day of
Chia Ching's birthday, Chia Chen began by getting ready luscious
delicacies and rare fruits, which he packed in sixteen spacious present
boxes, and bade Chia Jung take them, along with the servants belonging
to the household, over to Chia Ching.

Turning round towards Chia Jung: "Mind," he said, "that you observe
whether your grandfather be agreeable or not, before you set to work and
pay your obeisance! 'My father,' tell him, 'has complied with your
directions, venerable senior, and not presumed to come over; but he has
at home ushered the whole company of the members of the family (into
your apartments), where they all paid their homage facing the side of

After Chia Jung had listened to these injunctions, he speedily led off
the family domestics, and took his departure. During this interval, one
by one arrived the guests. First came Chia Lien and Chia Se, who went to
see whether the seats in the various places (were sufficient). "Is there
to be any entertainment or not?" they also inquired.

"Our master," replied the servants, "had, at one time, intended to
invite the venerable Mr. Chia Ching to come and spend this day at home,
and hadn't for this reason presumed to get up any entertainment. But
when the other day he came to hear that the old gentleman was not
coming, he at once gave us orders to go in search of a troupe of young
actors, as well as a band of musicians, and all these people are now
engaged making their preparations on the stage in the garden."

Next came, in a group, mesdames Hsing and Wang, lady Feng and Pao-yü,
followed immediately after by Chia Chen and Mrs. Yu; Mrs. Yu's mother
having already arrived and being in there in advance of her. Salutations

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