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Hung Lou Meng, Book II by Cao Xueqin

Part 3 out of 14

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"Hah, hah," roared the Taoist Chang, "just see how my eyes must have
grown dim! I didn't notice that you, my lady, were in here; nor did I
express one word of thanks to you! The talisman of 'Recorded Name' is
ready long ago. I meant to have sent it over the day before yesterday,
but the unforeseen visit of the Empress to perform meritorious deeds
upset my equilibrium, and made me quite forget it. But it's still placed
before the gods, and if you will wait I'll go and fetch it."

Saying this, he rushed into the main hall. Presently, he returned with a
tea-tray in hand, on which was spread a deep red satin cover, brocaded
with dragons. In this, he presented the charm. Ta Chieh-erh's nurse took
it from him.

But just as the Taoist was on the point of taking Ta Chieh-erh in his
embrace, lady Feng remarked with a smile: "It would have been sufficient
if you'd carried it in your hand! And why use a tray to lay it on?"

"My hands aren't clean," replied the Taoist Chang, "so how could I very
well have taken hold of it? A tray therefore made things much cleaner!"

"When you produced that tray just now," laughed lady Feng, "you gave me
quite a start; I didn't imagine that it was for the purpose of bringing
the charm in. It really looked as if you were disposed to beg donations
of us."

This observation sent the whole company into a violent fit of laughter.
Even Chia Chen could not suppress a smile.

"What a monkey!" dowager lady Chia exclaimed, turning her head round.
"What a monkey you are! Aren't you afraid of going down to that Hell,
where tongues are cut off?"

"I've got nothing to do with any men whatever," rejoined lady Feng
laughing, "and why does he time and again tell me that it's my bounden
duty to lay up a store of meritorious deeds; and that if I'm remiss, my
life will be short?"

Chang, the Taoist, indulged in further laughter. "I brought out," he
explained, "the tray so as to kill two birds with one stone. It wasn't,
however, to beg for donations. On the contrary, it was in order to put
in it the jade, which I meant to ask Mr. Pao to take off, so as to carry
it outside and let all those Taoist friends of mine, who come from far
away, as well as my neophytes and the young apprentices, see what it's

"Well, since that be the case," added old lady Chia, "why do you, at
your age, try your strength by running about the whole day long? Take
him at once along and let them see it! But were you to have called him
in there, wouldn't it have saved a lot of trouble?"

"Your venerable ladyship," resumed Chang, the Taoist, "isn't aware that
though I be, to look at, a man of eighty, I, after all, continue, thanks
to your protection, my dowager lady, quite hale and strong. In the
second place, there are crowds of people in the outer rooms; and the
smells are not agreeable. Besides it's a very hot day and Mr. Pao
couldn't stand the heat as he is not accustomed to it. So were he to
catch any disease from the filthy odours, it would be a grave thing!"

After these forebodings old lady Chia accordingly desired Pao-yü to
unclasp the jade of Spiritual Perception, and to deposit it in the tray.
The Taoist, Chang, carefully ensconced it in the folds of the wrapper,
embroidered with dragons, and left the room, supporting the tray with
both his hands.

During this while, dowager lady Chia and the other inmates devoted more
of their time in visiting the various places. But just as they were on
the point of going up the two-storied building, they heard Chia Chen
shout: "Grandfather Chang has brought back the jade."

As he spoke, the Taoist Chang was seen advancing up to them, the tray in
hand. "The whole company," he smiled, "were much obliged to me. They
think Mr. Pao's jade really lovely! None of them have, however, any
suitable gifts to bestow. These are religious articles, used by each of
them in propagating the doctrines of Reason, but they're all only too
ready to give them as congratulatory presents. If, Mr. Pao, you don't
fancy them for anything else, just keep them to play with or to give
away to others."

Dowager lady Chia, at these words, looked into the tray. She discovered
that its contents consisted of gold signets, and jade rings, or
sceptres, implying: "may you have your wishes accomplished in
everything," or "may you enjoy peace and health from year to year;" that
the various articles were strung with pearls or inlaid with precious
stones, worked in jade or mounted in gold; and that they were in all
from thirty to fifty.

"What nonsense you're talking!" she then exclaimed. "Those people are
all divines, and where could they have rummaged up these things? But
what need is there for any such presents? He may, on no account, accept

"These are intended as a small token of their esteem," responded Chang,
the Taoist, smiling, "your servant cannot therefore venture to interfere
with them. If your venerable ladyship will not keep them, won't you make
it patent to them that I'm treated contemptuously, and unlike what one
should be, who has joined the order through your household?"

Only when old lady Chia heard these arguments did she direct a servant
to receive the presents.

"Venerable senior," Pao-yü smilingly chimed in. "After the reasons
advanced by grandfather Chang, we cannot possibly refuse them. But
albeit I feel disposed to keep these things, they are of no avail to me;
so would it not be well were a servant told to carry the tray and to
follow me out of doors, that I may distribute them to the poor?

"You are perfectly right in what you say!" smiled dowager lady Chia.

The Taoist Chang, however, went on speedily to use various arguments to
dissuade him. "Mr. Pao," he observed, "your intention is, it is true, to
perform charitable acts; but though you may aver that these things are
of little value, you'll nevertheless find among them several articles
you might turn to some account. Were you to let the beggars have them,
why they will, first of all, be none the better for them; and, next, it
will contrariwise be tantamount to throwing them away! If you want to
distribute anything among the poor, why don't you dole out cash to

"Put them by!" promptly shouted Pao-yü, after this rejoinder, "and when
evening comes, take a few cash and distribute them."

These directions given, Chang, the Taoist, retired out of the place.

Dowager lady Chia and her companions thereupon walked upstairs and sat
in the main part of the building. Lady Feng and her friends adjourned
into the eastern part, while the waiting-maids and servants remained in
the western portion, and took their turns in waiting on their

Before long, Chia Chen came back. "The plays," he announced, "have been
chosen by means of slips picked out before the god. The first one on the
list is the 'Record of the White Snake.'"

"Of what kind of old story does 'the record of the white snake,' treat?"
old lady Chia inquired.

"The story about Han Kao-tsu," replied Chia Chen, "killing a snake and
then ascending the throne. The second play is, 'the Bed covered with
ivory tablets.'"

"Has this been assigned the second place?" asked dowager lady Chia. "Yet
never mind; for as the gods will it thus, there is no help than not to
demur. But what about the third play?" she went on to inquire.

"The Nan Ko dream is the third," Chia Chen answered.

This response elicited no comment from dowager lady Chia. Chia Chen
therefore withdrew downstairs, and betook himself outside to make
arrangements for the offerings to the gods, for the paper money and
eatables that had to be burnt, and for the theatricals about to begin.
So we will leave him without any further allusion, and take up our
narrative with Pao-yü.

Seating himself upstairs next to old lady Chia, he called to a
servant-girl to fetch the tray of presents given to him a short while
back, and putting on his own trinket of jade, he fumbled about with the
things for a bit, and picking up one by one, he handed them to his
grandmother to admire. But old lady Chia espied among them a unicorn,
made of purplish gold, with kingfisher feathers inserted, and eagerly
extending her arm, she took it up. "This object," she smiled, "seems to
me to resemble very much one I've seen worn also by the young lady of
some household or other of ours."

"Senior cousin, Shih Hsiang-yün," chimed in Pao-ch'ai, a smile playing
on her lips, "has one, but it's a trifle smaller than this."

"Is it indeed Yün-erh who has it?" exclaimed old lady Chia.

"Now that she lives in our house," remarked Pao-yü, "how is it that even
I haven't seen anything of it?"

"Cousin Pao-ch'ai," rejoined T'an Ch'un laughingly, "has the power of
observation; no matter what she sees, she remembers."

Lin Tai-yü gave a sardonic smile. "As far as other matters are
concerned," she insinuated, "her observation isn't worth speaking of;
where she's extra-observant is in articles people may wear about their

Pao-chai, upon catching this sneering remark, at once turned her head
round, and pretended she had not heard. But as soon as Pao-yü learnt
that Shih Hsiang-yün possessed a similar trinket, he speedily picked up
the unicorn, and hid it in his breast, indulging, at the same time, in
further reflection. Yet, fearing lest people might have noticed that he
kept back that particular thing the moment he discovered that Shih
Hsiang-yün had one identical with it, he fixed his eyes intently upon
all around while clutching it. He found however that not one of them was
paying any heed to his movements except Lin Tai-yü, who, while gazing at
him was, nodding her head, as if with the idea of expressing her
admiration. Pao-yü, therefore, at once felt inwardly ill at ease, and
pulling out his hand, he observed, addressing himself to Tai-yü with an
assumed smile, "This is really a fine thing to play with; I'll keep it
for you, and when we get back home, I'll pass a ribbon through it for
you to wear." "I don't care about it," said Lin Tai-yü, giving her head
a sudden twist.

"Well," continued Pao-yü laughingly, "if you don't like it, I can't do
otherwise than keep it myself."

Saying this, he once again thrust it away. But just as he was about to
open his lips to make some other observation, he saw Mrs. Yu, the spouse
of Chia Chen, arrive along with the second wife recently married by Chia
Jung, that is, his mother and her daughter-in-law, to pay their
obeisance to dowager lady Chia.

"What do you people rush over here for again?" old lady Chia inquired.

"I came here for a turn, simply because I had nothing to do."

But no sooner was this inquiry concluded than they heard a messenger
announce: "that some one had come from the house of general Feng."

The family of Feng Tzu-ying had, it must be explained, come to learn the
news that the inmates of the Chia mansion were offering a thanksgiving
service in the temple, and, without loss of time, they got together
presents of pigs, sheep, candles, tea and eatables and sent them over.
The moment lady Feng heard about it she hastily crossed to the main part
of the two-storied building. "Ai-ya;" she ejaculated, clapping her hands
and laughing. "I never expected anything of the sort; we merely said
that we ladies were coming for a leisurely stroll and people imagined
that we were spreading a sumptuous altar with lenten viands and came to
bring us offerings! But it's all our old lady's fault for bruiting it
about! Why, we haven't even got any slips of paper with tips ready."

She had just finished speaking, when she perceived two matrons, who
acted as house-keepers in the Feng family, walk upstairs. But before the
Feng servants could take their leave, presents likewise arrived, in
quick succession, from Chao, the Vice-President of the Board. In due
course, one lot of visitors followed another. For as every one got wind
of the fact that the Chia family was having thanksgiving services, and
that the ladies were in the temple, distant and close relatives,
friends, old friends and acquaintances all came to present their
contributions. So much so, that dowager lady Chia began at this juncture
to feel sorry that she had ever let the cat out of the bag. "This is no
regular fasting," she said, "we simply have come for a little change;
and we should not have put any one to any inconvenience!" Although
therefore she was to have remained present all day at the theatrical
performance, she promptly returned home soon after noon, and the next
day she felt very loth to go out of doors again.

"By striking the wall, we've also stirred up dust," lady Feng argued.
"Why we've already put those people to the trouble so we should only be
too glad to-day to have another outing."

But as when dowager lady Chia interviewed the Taoist Chang, the previous
day, he made allusion to Pao-yü and canvassed his engagement, Pao-yü
experienced, little as one would have thought it, much secret
displeasure during the whole of that day, and on his return home he flew
into a rage and abused Chang, the rationalistic priest, for harbouring
designs to try and settle a match for him. At every breath and at every
word he resolved that henceforward he would not set eyes again upon the
Taoist Chang. But no one but himself had any idea of the reason that
actuated him to absent himself. In the next place, Lin Tai-yü began
also, on her return the day before, to ail from a touch of the sun, so
their grandmother was induced by these two considerations to remain firm
in her decision not to go. When lady Feng, however, found that she would
not join them, she herself took charge of the family party and set out
on the excursion.

But without descending to particulars, let us advert to Pao-yü. Seeing
that Lin Tai-yü had fallen ill, he was so full of solicitude on her
account that he even had little thought for any of his meals, and not
long elapsed before he came to inquire how she was.

Tai-yü, on her part, gave way to fear lest anything should happen to
him, (and she tried to re-assure him). "Just go and look at the plays,"
she therefore replied, "what's the use of boxing yourself up at home?"

Pao-yü was, however, not in a very happy frame of mind on account of the
reference to his marriage made by Chang, the Taoist, the day before, so
when he heard Lin Tai-yü's utterances: "If others don't understand me;"
he mused, "it's anyhow excusable; but has she too begun to make fun of
me?" His heart smarted in consequence under the sting of a mortification
a hundred times keener than he had experienced up to that occasion. Had
he been with any one else, it would have been utterly impossible for her
to have brought into play feelings of such resentment, but as it was no
other than Tai-yü who spoke the words, the impression produced upon him
was indeed different from that left in days gone by, when others
employed similar language. Unable to curb his feelings, he
instantaneously lowered his face. "My friendship with you has been of no
avail" he rejoined. "But, never mind, patience!"

This insinuation induced Lin Tai-yü to smile a couple of sarcastic
smiles. "Yes, your friendship with me has been of no avail," she
repeated; "for how can I compare with those whose manifold qualities
make them fit matches for you?"

As soon as this sneer fell on Pao-yü's ear he drew near to her. "Are you
by telling me this," he asked straight to her face, "deliberately bent
upon invoking imprecations upon me that I should be annihilated by
heaven and extinguished by earth?"

Lin Tai-yü could not for a time fathom the import of his remarks. "It
was," Pao-yü then resumed, "on account of this very conversation that I
yesterday swore several oaths, and now would you really make me repeat
another one? But were the heavens to annihilate me and the earth to
extinguish me, what benefit would you derive?"

This rejoinder reminded Tai-yü of the drift of their conversation on the
previous day. And as indeed she had on this occasion framed in words
those sentiments, which should not have dropped from her lips, she
experienced both annoyance and shame, and she tremulously observed: "If
I entertain any deliberate intention to bring any harm upon you, may I
too be destroyed by heaven and exterminated by earth! But what's the use
of all this! I know very well that the allusion to marriage made
yesterday by Chang, the Taoist, fills you with dread lest he might
interfere with your choice. You are inwardly so irate that you come and
treat me as your malignant influence."

Pao-yü, the fact is, had ever since his youth developed a peculiar kind
of mean and silly propensity. Having moreover from tender infancy grown
up side by side with Tai-Yü, their hearts and their feelings were in
perfect harmony. More, he had recently come to know to a great extent
what was what, and had also filled his head with the contents of a
number of corrupt books and licentious stories. Of all the eminent and
beautiful girls that he had met too in the families of either distant or
close relatives or of friends, not one could reach the standard of Lin
Tai-yü. Hence it was that he commenced, from an early period of his
life, to foster sentiments of love for her; but as he could not very
well give utterance to them, he felt time and again sometimes elated,
sometimes vexed, and wont to exhaust every means to secretly subject her
heart to a test.

Lin Tai-yü happened, on the other hand, to possess in like manner a
somewhat silly disposition; and she too frequently had recourse to
feigned sentiments to feel her way. And as she began to conceal her true
feelings and inclinations and to simply dissimulate, and he to conceal
his true sentiments and wishes and to dissemble, the two unrealities
thus blending together constituted eventually one reality. But it was
hardly to be expected that trifles would not be the cause of tiffs
between them. Thus it was that in Pao-yü's mind at this time prevailed
the reflection: "that were others unable to read my feelings, it would
anyhow be excusable; but is it likely that you cannot realise that in my
heart and in my eyes there is no one else besides yourself. But as you
were not able to do anything to dispel my annoyance, but made use,
instead, of the language you did to laugh at me, and to gag my mouth,
it's evident that though you hold, at every second and at every moment,
a place in my heart, I don't, in fact, occupy a place in yours." Such
was the construction attached to her conduct by Pao-yü, yet he did not
have the courage to tax her with it.

"If, really, I hold a place in your heart," Lin Tai-yü again reflected,
"why do you, albeit what's said about gold and jade being a fit match,
attach more importance to this perverse report and think nothing of what
I say? Did you, when I so often broach the subject of this gold and
jade, behave as if you, verily, had never heard anything about it, I
would then have seen that you treat me with preference and that you
don't harbour the least particle of a secret design. But how is it that
the moment I allude to the topic of gold and jade, you at once lose all
patience? This is proof enough that you are continuously pondering over
that gold and jade, and that as soon as you hear me speak to you about
them, you apprehend that I shall once more give way to conjectures, and
intentionally pretend to be quite out of temper, with the deliberate
idea of cajoling me!"

These two cousins had, to all appearances, once been of one and the same
mind, but the many issues, which had sprung up between them, brought
about a contrary result and made them of two distinct minds.

"I don't care what you do, everything is well," Pao-yü further argued,
"so long as you act up to your feelings; and if you do, I shall be ever
only too willing to even suffer immediate death for your sake. Whether
you know this or not, doesn't matter; it's all the same. Yet were you to
just do as my heart would have you, you'll afford me a clear proof that
you and I are united by close ties and that you are no stranger to me!"

"Just you mind your own business," Lin Tai-yü on her side cogitated. "If
you will treat me well, I'll treat you well. And what need is there to
put an end to yourself for my sake? Are you not aware that if you kill
yourself, I'll also kill myself? But this demonstrates that you don't
wish me to be near to you, and that you really want that I should be
distant to you."

It will thus be seen that the desire, by which they were both actuated,
to strive and draw each other close and ever closer became contrariwise
transformed into a wish to become more distant. But as it is no easy
task to frame into words the manifold secret thoughts entertained by
either, we will now confine ourselves to a consideration of their
external manner.

The three words "a fine match," which Pao-yü heard again Lin Tai-yü
pronounce proved so revolting to him that his heart got full of disgust
and he was unable to give utterance to a single syllable. Losing all
control over his temper, he snatched from his neck the jade of Spiritual
Perception and, clenching his teeth, he spitefully dashed it down on the
floor. "What rubbishy trash!" he cried. "I'll smash you to atoms and put
an end to the whole question!"

The jade, however, happened to be of extraordinary hardness, and did
not, after all, sustain the slightest injury from this single fall. When
Pao-yü realised that it had not broken, he forthwith turned himself
round to get the trinket with the idea of carrying out his design of
smashing it, but Tai-yü divined his intention, and soon started crying.
"What's the use of all this!" she demurred, "and why, pray, do you
batter that dumb thing about? Instead of smashing it, wouldn't it be
better for you to come and smash me!"

But in the middle of their dispute, Tzu Chüan, Hsüeh Yen and the other
maids promptly interfered and quieted them. Subsequently, however, they
saw how deliberately bent Pao-yü was upon breaking the jade, and they
vehemently rushed up to him to snatch it from his hands. But they failed
in their endeavours, and perceiving that he was getting more troublesome
than he had ever been before, they had no alternative but to go and call
Hsi Jen. Hsi Jen lost no time in running over and succeeded, at length,
in getting hold of the trinket.

"I'm smashing what belongs to me," remarked Pao-yü with a cynical smile,
"and what has that to do with you people?"

Hsi Jen noticed that his face had grown quite sallow from anger, that
his eyes had assumed a totally unusual expression, and that he had never
hitherto had such a fit of ill-temper and she hastened to take his hand
in hers and to smilingly expostulate with him. "If you've had a tiff
with your cousin," she said, "it isn't worth while flinging this down!
Had you broken it, how would her heart and face have been able to bear
the mortification?"

Lin Tai-yü shed tears and listened the while to her remonstrances. Yet
these words, which so corresponded with her own feelings, made it clear
to her that Pao-yü could not even compare with Hsi Jen and wounded her
heart so much more to the quick that she began to weep aloud. But the
moment she got so vexed she found it hard to keep down the potion of
boletus and the decoction, for counter-acting the effects of the sun,
she had taken only a few minutes back, and with a retch she brought
everything up. Tzu Chüan immediately pressed to her side and used her
handkerchief to stop her mouth with. But mouthful succeeded mouthful,
and in no time the handkerchief was soaked through and through.

Hsüeh Yen then approached in a hurry and tapped her on the back.

"You may, of course, give way to displeasure," Tzu Chüan argued; "but
you should, after all, take good care of yourself Miss. You had just
taken the medicines and felt the better for them; and here you now begin
vomitting again; and all because you've had a few words with our master
Secundus. But should your complaint break out afresh how will Mr. Pao
bear the blow?"

The moment Pao-yü caught this advice, which accorded so thoroughly with
his own ideas, he found how little Tai-yü could hold her own with Tzu
Chüan. And perceiving how flushed Tai-yü's face was, how her temples
were swollen, how, while sobbing, she panted; and how, while crying, she
was suffused with perspiration, and betrayed signs of extreme weakness,
he began, at the sight of her condition, to reproach himself. "I
shouldn't," he reflected, "have bandied words with her; for now that
she's got into this frame of mind, I mayn't even suffer in her stead!"

The self-reproaches, however, which gnawed his heart made it impossible
for him to refrain from tears, much as he fought against them. Hsi Jen
saw them both crying, and while attending to Pao-yü, she too unavoidably
experienced much soreness of heart. She nevertheless went on rubbing
Pao-yü's hands, which were icy cold. She felt inclined to advise Pao-yü
not to weep, but fearing again lest, in the first place, Pao-yü might be
inwardly aggrieved, and nervous, in the next, lest she should not be
dealing rightly by Tai-yü, she thought it advisable that they should all
have a good cry, as they might then be able to leave off. She herself
therefore also melted into tears. As for Tzu-Chüan, at one time, she
cleaned the expectorated medicine; at another, she took up a fan and
gently fanned Tai-yü. But at the sight of the trio plunged in perfect
silence, and of one and all sobbing for reasons of their own, grief,
much though she did to struggle against it, mastered her feelings too,
and producing a handkerchief, she dried the tears that came to her eyes.
So there stood four inmates, face to face, uttering not a word and
indulging in weeping.

Shortly, Hsi Jen made a supreme effort, and smilingly said to Pao-yü:
"If you don't care for anything else, you should at least have shown
some regard for those tassels, strung on the jade, and not have wrangled
with Miss Lin."

Tai-yü heard these words, and, mindless of her indisposition, she rushed
over, and snatching the trinket, she picked up a pair of scissors, lying
close at hand, bent upon cutting the tassels. Hsi Jen and Tzu Chüan were
on the point of wresting it from her, but she had already managed to
mangle them into several pieces.

"I have," sobbed Tai-yü, "wasted my energies on them for nothing; for he
doesn't prize them. He's certain to find others to string some more fine
tassels for him."

Hsi Jen promptly took the jade. "Is it worth while going on in this
way!" she cried. "But this is all my fault for having blabbered just now
what should have been left unsaid."

"Cut it, if you like!" chimed in Pao-yü, addressing himself to Tai-yü.
"I will on no account wear it, so it doesn't matter a rap."

But while all they minded inside was to create this commotion, they
little dreamt that the old matrons had descried Tai-yü weep bitterly and
vomit copiously, and Pao-yü again dash his jade on the ground, and that
not knowing how far the excitement might not go, and whether they
themselves might not become involved, they had repaired in a body to the
front, and reported the occurrence to dowager lady Chia and Madame Wang,
their object being to try and avoid being themselves implicated in the
matter. Their old mistress and Madame Wang, seeing them make so much of
the occurrence as to rush with precipitate haste to bring it to their
notice, could not in the least imagine what great disaster might not
have befallen them, and without loss of time they betook themselves
together into the garden and came to see what the two cousins were up

Hsi Jen felt irritated and harboured resentment against Tzu Chüan,
unable to conceive what business she had to go and disturb their old
mistress and Madame Wang. But Tzu Chüan, on the other hand, presumed
that it was Hsi Jen, who had gone and reported the matter to them, and
she too cherished angry feelings towards Hsi Jen.

Dowager lady Chia and Madame Wang walked into the apartment. They found
Pao-yü on one side saying not a word. Lin Tai-yü on the other uttering
not a sound. "What's up again?" they asked. But throwing the whole blame
upon the shoulders of Hsi Jen and Tzu Chüan, "why is it," they inquired,
"that you were not diligent in your attendance on them. They now start a
quarrel, and don't you exert yourselves in the least to restrain them?"

Therefore with obloquy and hard words they rated the two girls for a
time in such a way that neither of them could put in a word by way of
reply, but felt compelled to listen patiently. And it was only after
dowager lady Chia had taken Pao-yü away with her that things quieted
down again.

One day passed. Then came the third of the moon. This was Hsüeh Pan's
birthday, so in their house a banquet was spread and preparations made
for a performance; and to these the various inmates of the Chia mansion
went. But as Pao-yü had so hurt Tai-yü's feelings, the two cousins saw
nothing whatever of each other, and conscience-stricken, despondent and
unhappy, as he was at this time could he have had any inclination to be
present at the plays? Hence it was that he refused to go on the pretext
of indisposition.

Lin Tai-yü had got, a couple of days back, but a slight touch of the sun
and naturally there was nothing much the matter with her. When the news
however reached her that he did not intend to join the party, "If with
his weakness for wine and for theatricals," she pondered within herself,
"he now chooses to stay away, instead of going, why, that quarrel with
me yesterday must be at the bottom of it all. If this isn't the reason,
well then it must be that he has no wish to attend, as he sees that I'm
not going either. But I should on no account have cut the tassels from
that jade, for I feel sure he won't wear it again. I shall therefore
have to string some more on to it, before he puts it on."

On this account the keenest remorse gnawed her heart.

Dowager lady Chia saw well enough that they were both under the
influence of temper. "We should avail ourselves of this occasion," she
said to herself, "to go over and look at the plays, and as soon as the
two young people come face to face, everything will be squared."
Contrary to her expectations neither of them would volunteer to go. This
so exasperated their old grandmother that she felt vexed with them. "In
what part of my previous existence could an old sufferer like myself,"
she exclaimed, "have incurred such retribution that my destiny is to
come across these two troublesome new-fledged foes! Why, not a single
day goes by without their being instrumental in worrying my mind! The
proverb is indeed correct which says: 'that people who are not enemies
are not brought together!' But shortly my eyes shall be closed, this
breath of mine shall be snapped, and those two enemies will be free to
cause trouble even up to the very skies; for as my eyes will then loose
their power of vision, and my heart will be void of concern, it will
really be nothing to me. But I couldn't very well stifle this breath of
life of mine!"

While inwardly a prey to resentment, she also melted into tears.

These words were brought to the ears of Pao-yü and Tai-yü. Neither of
them had hitherto heard the adage: "people who are not enemies are not
brought together," so when they suddenly got to know the line, it seemed
as if they had apprehended abstraction. Both lowered their heads and
meditated on the subtle sense of the saying. But unconsciously a stream
of tears rolled down their cheeks. They could not, it is true, get a
glimpse of each other; yet as the one was in the Hsiao Hsiang lodge,
standing in the breeze, bedewed with tears, and the other in the I Hung
court, facing the moon and heaving deep sighs, was it not, in fact, a
case of two persons living in two distinct places, yet with feelings
emanating from one and the same heart?

Hsi Jen consequently tendered advice to Pao-yü. "You're a million times
to blame," she said, "it's you who are entirely at fault! For when some
time ago the pages in the establishment, wrangled with their sisters, or
when husband and wife fell out, and you came to hear anything about it,
you blew up the lads, and called them fools for not having the heart to
show some regard to girls; and now here you go and follow their lead.
But to-morrow is the fifth day of the moon, a great festival, and will
you two still continue like this, as if you were very enemies? If so,
our venerable mistress will be the more angry, and she certainly will be
driven sick! I advise you therefore to do what's right by suppressing
your spite and confessing your fault, so that we should all be on the
same terms as hitherto. You here will then be all right, and so will she
over there."

Pao-yü listened to what she had to say; but whether he fell in with her
views or not is not yet ascertained; yet if you, reader, choose to know,
we will explain in the next chapter.


Pao-ch'ai avails herself of the excuse afforded her by a fan to
administer a couple of raps.
While Ch'un Ling traces, in a absent frame of mind, the outlines of
the character Ch'iang, a looker-on appears on the scene.

Lin Tai-yü herself, for we will now resume our narrative, was also, ever
since her tiff with Pao-yü, full of self-condemnation, yet as she did
not see why she should run after him, she continued, day and night, as
despondent as she would have been had she lost some thing or other
belonging to her.

Tzu Chüan surmised her sentiments. "As regards what happened the other
day," she advised her, "you were, after all, Miss, a little too hasty;
for if others don't understand that temperament of Pao-yü's, have you
and I, surely, also no idea about it? Besides, haven't there been
already one or two rows on account of that very jade?"

"Ts'ui!" exclaimed Tai-yü. "Have you come, on behalf of others, to find
fault with me? But how ever was I hasty?"

"Why did you," smiled Tzu Chüan, "take the scissors and cut that tassel
when there was no good reason for it? So isn't Pao-yü less to blame than
yourself, Miss? I've always found his behaviour towards you, Miss,
without a fault. It's all that touchy disposition of yours, which makes
you so often perverse, that induces him to act as he does."

Lin Tai-yü had every wish to make some suitable reply, when she heard
some one calling at the door. Tzu Chüan discerned the tone of voice.
"This sounds like Pao-yü's voice," she smiled. "I expect he's come to
make his apologies."

"I won't have any one open the door," Tai-yü cried at these words.

"Here you are in the wrong again, Miss," Tzu Chüan observed. "How will
it ever do to let him get a sunstroke and come to some harm on a day
like this, and under such a scorching sun?"

Saying this, she speedily walked out and opened the door. It was indeed
Pao-yü. While ushering him in, she gave him a smile. "I imagined," she
said, "that you would never again put your foot inside our door, Master
Secundus. But here you are once more and quite unexpectedly!"

"You have by dint of talking," Pao-yü laughed, "made much ado of
nothing; and why shouldn't I come, when there's no reason for me to keep
away? Were I even to die, my spirit too will come a hundred times a day!
But is cousin quite well?"

"She is," replied Tzu Chüan, "physically all right; but, mentally, her
resentment is not quite over."

"I understand," continued Pao-yü with a smile. "But resentment, for

With this inquiry, he wended his steps inside the apartment. He then
caught sight of Lin Tai-yü reclining on the bed in the act of crying.
Tai-yü had not in fact shed a tear, but hearing Pao-yü break in upon
her, she could not help feeling upset. She found it impossible therefore
to prevent her tears from rolling down her cheeks.

Pao-yü assumed a smiling expression and drew near the bed. "Cousin, are
you quite well again?" he inquired.

Tai-yü simply went on drying her tears, and made no reply of any kind.

Pao-yü approached the bed, and sat on the edge of it. "I know," he
smiled, "that you're not vexed with me. But had I not come, third
parties would have been allowed to notice my absence, and it would have
appeared to them as if we had had another quarrel. And had I to wait
until they came to reconcile us, would we not by that time become
perfect strangers? It would be better, supposing you wish to beat me or
blow me up, that you should please yourself and do so now; but whatever
you do, don't give me the cold shoulder!"

Continuing, he proceeded to call her "my dear cousin" for several tens
of times.

Tai-yü had resolved not to pay any more heed to Pao-yü. When she,
however, now heard Pao-yü urge: "don't let us allow others to know
anything about our having had a quarrel, as it will look as if we had
become thorough strangers," it once more became evident to her, from
this single remark, that she was really dearer and nearer to him than
any of the other girls, so she could not refrain from saying sobbingly:
"You needn't have come to chaff me! I couldn't presume henceforward to
be on friendly terms with you, Master Secundus! You should treat me as
if I were gone!"

At these words, Pao-yü gave way to laughter. "Where are you off to?" he

"I'm going back home," answered Tai-yü.

"I'll go along with you then," smiled Pao-yü.

"But if I die?" asked Tai-yü.

"Well, if you die," rejoined Pao-yü, "I'll become a bonze."

The moment Tai-yü caught this reply, she hung down her head. "You must,
I presume, be bent upon dying?" she cried. "But what stuff and nonsense
is this you're talking? You've got so many beloved elder and younger
cousins in your family, and how many bodies will you have to go and
become bonzes, when by and bye they all pass away! But to-morrow I'll
tell them about this to judge for themselves what your motives are!"

Pao-yü was himself aware of the fact that this rejoinder had been
recklessly spoken, and he was seized with regret. His face immediately
became suffused with blushes. He lowered his head and had not the
courage to utter one word more. Fortunately, however, there was no one
present in the room.

Tai-yü stared at him for ever so long with eyes fixed straight on him,
but losing control over her temper, "Ai!" she shouted, "can't you
speak?" Then when she perceived Pao-yü reduced to such straits as to
turn purple, she clenched her teeth and spitefully gave him, on the
forehead, a fillip with her finger. "Heug!" she cried gnashing her
teeth, "you, this......" But just as she had pronounced these two words,
she heaved another sigh, and picking up her handkerchief, she wiped her

Pao-yü treasured at one time numberless tender things in his mind, which
he meant to tell her, but feeling also, while he smarted under the sting
of self-reproach (for the indiscretion he had committed), Tai-yü give
him a rap, he was utterly powerless to open his lips, much though he may
have liked to speak, so he kept on sighing and snivelling to himself.
With all these things therefore to work upon his feelings, he
unwillingly melted into tears. He tried to find his handkerchief to dry
his face with, but unexpectedly discovering that he had again forgotten
to bring one with him, he was about to make his coat-sleeve answer the
purpose, when Tai-yü, albeit her eyes were watery, noticed at a glance
that he was going to use the brand-new coat of grey coloured gauze he
wore, and while wiping her own, she turned herself round, and seized a
silk kerchief thrown over the pillow, and thrust it into Pao-yü's lap.
But without saying a word, she screened her face and continued sobbing.

Pao-yü saw the handkerchief she threw, and hastily snatching it, he
wiped his tears. Then drawing nearer to her, he put out his hand and
clasped her hand in his, and smilingly said to her: "You've completely
lacerated my heart, and do you still cry? But let's go; I'll come along
with you and see our venerable grandmother."

Tai-yü thrust his hand aside. "Who wants to go hand in hand with you?"
she cried. "Here we grow older day after day, but we're still so full of
brazen-faced effrontery that we don't even know what right means?"

But scarcely had she concluded before she heard a voice say aloud:
"They're all right!"

Pao-yü and Tai-yü were little prepared for this surprise, and they were
startled out of their senses. Turning round to see who it was, they
caught sight of lady Feng running in, laughing and shouting. "Our old
lady," she said, "is over there, giving way to anger against heaven and
earth. She would insist upon my coming to find out whether you were
reconciled or not. 'There's no need for me to go and see,' I told her,
'they will before the expiry of three days, be friends again of their
own accord.' Our venerable ancestor, however, called me to account, and
maintained that I was lazy; so here I come! But my words have in very
deed turned out true. I don't see why you two should always be
wrangling! For three days you're on good terms and for two on bad. You
become more and more like children. And here you are now hand in hand
blubbering! But why did you again yesterday become like black-eyed
fighting cocks? Don't you yet come with me to see your grandmother and
make an old lady like her set her mind at ease a bit?"

While reproaching them, she clutched Tai-yü's hand and was trudging
away, when Tai-yü turned her head round and called out for her
servant-girls. But not one of them was in attendance.

"What do you want them for again?" lady Feng asked. "I am here to wait
on you!"

Still speaking, she pulled her along on their way, with Pao-yü following
in their footsteps. Then making their exit out of the garden gate, they
entered dowager lady Chia's suite of rooms. "I said that it was
superfluous for any one to trouble," lady Feng smiled, "as they were
sure of themselves to become reconciled; but you, dear ancestor, so
little believed it that you insisted upon my going to act the part of
mediator. Yet when I got there, with the intention of inducing them to
make it up, I found them, though one did not expect it, in each other's
company, confessing their faults, and laughing and chatting. Just like a
yellow eagle clutching the feet of a kite were those two hanging on to
each other. So where was the necessity for any one to go?"

These words evoked laughter from every one in the room. Pao-ch'ai,
however, was present at the time so Lin Tai-yü did not retort, but went
and ensconced herself in a seat near her grandmother.

When Pao-yü noticed that no one had anything to say, he smilingly
addressed himself to Pao-ch'ai. "On cousin Hsüeh P'an's birth-day," he
remarked, "I happened again to be unwell, so not only did I not send him
any presents, but I failed to go and knock my head before him. Yet
cousin knows nothing about my having been ill, and it will seem to him
that I had no wish to go, and that I brought forward excuses so as to
avoid paying him a visit. If to-morrow you find any leisure, cousin, do
therefore explain matters for me to him."

"This is too much punctiliousness!" smiled Pao-ch'ai. "Even had you
insisted upon going, we wouldn't have been so arrogant as to let you put
yourself to the trouble, and how much less when you were not feeling
well? You two are cousins and are always to be found together the whole
day; if you encourage such ideas, some estrangement will, after all,
arise between you."

"Cousin," continued Pao-yü smilingly, "you know what to say; and so long
as you're lenient with me all will be all right. But how is it," he went
on to ask, "that you haven't gone over to see the theatricals?"

"I couldn't stand the heat" rejoined Pao-ch'ai. "I looked on while two
plays were being sung, but I found it so intensely hot, that I felt
anxious to retire. But the visitors not having dispersed, I had to give
as an excuse that I wasn't feeling up to the mark, and so came away at

Pao-yü, at these words, could not but feel ill at ease. All he could do
was to feign another smile. "It's no wonder," he observed, "that they
compare you, cousin, to Yang Kuei-fei; for she too was fat and afraid of
hot weather."

Hearing this, Pao-ch'ai involuntarily flew into a violent rage. Yet when
about to call him to task, she found that it would not be nice for her
to do so. After some reflection, the colour rushed to her cheeks.
Smiling ironically twice, "I may resemble," she said, "Yang Kuei-fei,
but there's not one of you young men, whether senior or junior, good
enough to play the part of Yang Kuo-chung."

While they were bandying words, a servant-girl Ch'ing Erh, lost sight of
her fan and laughingly remarked to Pao-ch'ai: "It must be you, Miss Pao,
who have put my fan away somewhere or other; dear mistress, do let me
have it!"

"You'd better be mindful!" rejoined Pao-ch'ai, shaking her finger at
her. "With whom have I ever been up to jokes, that you come and suspect
me? Have I hitherto laughed and smirked with you? There's that whole lot
of girls, go and ask them about it!"

At this suggestion, Ch'ing Erh made her escape.

The consciousness then burst upon Pao-yü, that he had again been
inconsiderate in his speech, in the presence of so many persons, and he
was overcome by a greater sense of shame than when, a short while back,
he had been speaking with Lin Tai-yü. Precipitately turning himself
round, he went, therefore, and talked to the others as well.

The sight of Pao-yü poking fun at Pao-ch'ai gratified Tai-yü immensely.
She was just about to put in her word and also seize the opportunity of
chaffing her, but as Ch'ing Erh unawares asked for her fan and Pao-ch'ai
added a few more remarks, she at once changed her purpose. "Cousin
Pao-ch'ai," she inquired, "what two plays did you hear?"

Pao-ch'ai caught the expression of gratification in Tai-yü's
countenance, and concluded that she had for a certainty heard the
raillery recently indulged in by Pao-yü and that it had fallen in with
her own wishes; and hearing her also suddenly ask the question she did,
she answered with a significant laugh: "What I saw was: 'Li Kuei blows
up Sung Chiang and subsequently again tenders his apologies'."

Pao-yü smiled. "How is it," he said, "that with such wide knowledge of
things new as well as old; and such general information as you possess,
you aren't even up to the name of a play, and that you've come out with
such a whole string of words. Why, the real name of the play is:
'Carrying a birch and begging for punishment'".

"Is it truly called: 'Carrying a birch and begging for punishment'"?
Pao-ch'ai asked with laugh. "But you people know all things new and old
so are able to understand the import of 'carrying a birch and begging
for punishment.' As for me I've no idea whatever what 'carrying a birch
and begging for punishment' implies."

One sentence was scarcely ended when Pao-yü and Tai-yü felt guilty in
their consciences; and by the time they heard all she said, they were
quite flushed from shame. Lady Feng did not, it is true, fathom the gist
of what had been said, but at the sight of the expression betrayed on
the faces of the three cousins, she readily got an inkling of it. "On
this broiling hot day," she inquired laughing also; "who still eats raw

None of the party could make out the import of her insinuation. "There's
no one eating raw ginger," they said.

Lady Feng intentionally then brought her hands to her cheeks, and
rubbing them, she remarked with an air of utter astonishment, "Since
there's no one eating raw ginger, how is it that you are all so fiery in
the face?"

Hearing this, Pao-yü and Tai-yü waxed more uncomfortable than ever. So
much so, that Pao-ch'ai, who meant to continue the conversation, did not
think it nice to say anything more when she saw how utterly abashed
Pao-yü was and how changed his manner. Her only course was therefore to
smile and hold her peace. And as the rest of the inmates had not the
faintest notion of the drift of the remarks exchanged between the four
of them, they consequently followed her lead and put on a smile.

In a short while, however, Pao-ch'ai and lady Feng took their leave.

"You've also tried your strength with them," Tai-yü said to Pao-yü
laughingly. "But they're far worse than I. Is every one as simple in
mind and dull of tongue as I am as to allow people to say whatever they

Pao-yü was inwardly giving way to that unhappiness, which had been
occasioned by Pao-ch'ai's touchiness, so when he also saw Tai-yü
approach him and taunt him, displeasure keener than ever was aroused in
him. A desire then asserted itself to speak out his mind to her, but
dreading lest Tai-yü should he in one of her sensitive moods, he,
needless to say, stifled his anger and straightway left the apartment in
a state of mental depression.

It happened to be the season of the greatest heat. Breakfast time too
was already past, and masters as well as servants were, for the most
part, under the influence of the lassitude felt on lengthy days. As
Pao-yü therefore strolled, from place to place, his hands behind his
back he heard not so much as the caw of a crow. Issuing out of his
grandmother's compound on the near side, he wended his steps westwards,
and crossed the passage, on which lady Feng's quarters gave. As soon as
he reached the entrance of her court, he perceived the door ajar. But
aware of lady Feng's habit of taking, during the hot weather, a couple
of hours' siesta at noon, he did not feel it a convenient moment to
intrude. Walking accordingly through the corner door, he stepped into
Madame Wang's apartment. Here he discovered several waiting-maids,
dosing with their needlework clasped in their hands. Madame Wang was
asleep on the cool couch in the inner rooms. Chin Ch'uan-erh was sitting
next to her massaging her legs. But she too was quite drowsy, and her
eyes wore all awry. Pao-yü drew up to her with gentle tread. The moment,
however, that he unfastened the pendants from the earrings she wore,
Chin Ch'uan opened her eyes, and realised that it was no one than

"Are you feeling so worn out!" he smilingly remarked in a low tone of

Chin Ch'uan pursed up her lips and gave him a smile. Then waving her
hand so as to bid him quit the room, she again closed her eyes.

Pao-yü, at the sight of her, felt considerable affection for her and
unable to tear himself away, so quietly stretching his head forward, and
noticing that Madame Wang's eyes were shut, he extracted from a purse,
suspended about his person, one of the 'scented-snow-for-moistening-mouth
pills,' with which it was full, and placed it on Chin Ch'uan-erh's lips.
Chin Ch'uan-erh, however, did not open her eyes, but simply held (the
pill) in her mouth. Pao-yü then approached her and took her hand in his.
"I'll ask you of your mistress," he gently observed smiling, "and you and
I will live together."

To this Chin Ch'uan-erh said not a word.

"If that won't do," Pao-yü continued, "I'll wait for your mistress to
wake and appeal to her at once."

Chin Ch'uan-erh distended her eyes wide, and pushed Pao-yü off. "What's
the hurry?" she laughed. "'A gold hair-pin may fall into the well; but
if it's yours it will remain yours only.' Is it possible that you don't
even see the spirit of this proverb? But I'll tell you a smart thing.
Just you go into the small court, on the east side, and you'll find for
yourself what Mr. Chia Huau and Ts'ai Yun are up to!"

"Let them be up to whatever they like," smiled Pao-yü, "I shall simply
stick to your side!"

But he then saw Madame Wang twist herself round, get up, and give a slap
to Chin Ch'uan-erh on her mouth. "You mean wench!" she exclaimed,
abusing her, while she pointed her finger at her, "it's you, and the
like of you, who corrupt these fine young fellows with all the nice
things you teach them!"

The moment Pao-yü perceived Madame Wang rise, he bolted like a streak of
smoke. Chin Ch'uan-erh, meanwhile, felt half of her face as hot as fire,
yet she did not dare utter one word of complaint. The various
waiting-maids soon came to hear that Madame Wang had awoke and they
rushed in in a body.

"Go and tell your mother," Madame Wang thereupon said to Yü Ch'uan-erh,
"to fetch your elder sister away."

Chin Ch'uan-erh, at these words, speedily fell on her knees. With tears
in her eyes: "I won't venture to do it again," she pleaded. "If you,
Madame, wish to flog me, or to scold me do so at once, and as much as
you like but don't send me away. You will thus accomplish an act of
heavenly grace! I've been in attendance on your ladyship for about ten
years, and if you now drive me away, will I be able to look at any one
in the face?"

Though Madame Wang was a generous, tender-hearted person, and had at no
time raised her hand to give a single blow to any servant-girl, she,
however, when she accidentally discovered Chin Ch'uan-erh behave on this
occasion in this barefaced manner, a manner which had all her lifetime
been most reprehensible to her, was so overcome by passion that she gave
Chin Ch'uan-erh just one slap and spoke to her a few sharp words. And
albeit Chin Ch'uan-erh indulged in solicitous entreaties, she would not
on any account keep her in her service. At length, Chin Ch'uan-erh's
mother, Dame Pao, was sent for to take her away. Chin Ch'uan-erh
therefore had to conceal her disgrace, suppress her resentment, and quit
the mansion.

But without any further reference to her, we will now take up our story
with Pao-yü. As soon as he saw Madame Wang awake, his spirits were
crushed. All alone he hastily made his way into the Ta Kuan garden. Here
his attention was attracted by the ruddy sun, shining in the zenith, the
shade of the trees extending far and wide, the song of the cicadas,
filling the ear; and by a perfect stillness, not even broken by the echo
of a human voice. But the instant he got near the trellis, with the
cinnamon roses, the sound of sobs fell on his ear. Doubts and surmises
crept into Pao-yü's mind, so halting at once, he listened with
intentness. Then actually he discerned some one on the off-side of the
trellis. This was the fifth moon, the season when the flowers and
foliage of the cinnamon roses were in full bloom. Furtively peeping
through an aperture in the fence, Pao-yü saw a young girl squatting
under the flowers and digging the ground with a hair-pin she held in her
hand. As she dug, she silently gave way to tears.

"Can it be possible," mused Pao-yü, "that this girl too is stupid? Can
she also be following P'in Erh's example and come to inter flowers? Why
if she's likewise really burying flowers," he afterwards went on to
smilingly reflect, "this can aptly be termed: 'Tung Shih tries to
imitate a frown.' But not only is what she does not original, but it is
despicable to boot. You needn't," he meant to shout out to the girl, at
the conclusion of this train of thought, "try and copy Miss Lin's
example." But before the words had issued from his mouth, he luckily
scrutinised her a second time, and found that the girl's features were
quite unfamiliar to him, that she was no menial, and that she looked
like one of the twelve singing maids, who were getting up the plays. He
could not, however, make out what _rôles_ she filled: scholars,
girls, old men, women, or buffoons. Pao-yü quickly put out his tongue
and stopped his mouth with his hand. "How fortunate," he inwardly
soliloquised, "that I didn't make any reckless remark! It was all
because of my inconsiderate talk on the last two occasions, that P'in
Erh got angry with me, and that Pao-ch'ai felt hurt. And had I now given
them offence also, I would have been in a still more awkward fix!"

While wrapt in these thoughts, he felt much annoyance at not being able
to recognise who she was. But on further minute inspection, he noticed
that this maiden, with contracted eyebrows, as beautiful as the hills in
spring, frowning eyes as clear as the streams in autumn, a face, with
transparent skin, and a slim waist, was elegant and beautiful and almost
the very image of Lin Tai-yü. Pao-yü could not, from the very first,
make up his mind to wrench himself away. But as he stood gazing at her
in a doltish mood, he realised that, although she was tracing on the
ground with the gold hair-pin, she was not digging a hole to bury
flowers in, but was merely delineating characters on the surface of the
soil. Pao-yü's eyes followed the hair-pin from first to last, as it went
up and as it came down. He watched each dash, each dot and each hook. He
counted the strokes. They numbered eighteen. He himself then set to work
and sketched with his finger on the palm of his hand, the lines, in
their various directions, and in the order they had been traced a few
minutes back, so as to endeavour to guess what the character was. On
completing the sketch, he discovered, the moment he came to reflect,
that it was the character "Ch'iang," in the combination, 'Ch'iang Wei,'
representing cinnamon roses.

"She too," pondered Pao-yü, "must have been bent upon writing verses, or
supplying some line or other, and at the sight now of the flowers, the
idea must have suggested itself to her mind. Or it may very likely be
that having spontaneously devised a couplet, she got suddenly elated and
began, for fear it should slip from her memory, to trace it on the
ground so as to tone the rhythm. Yet there's no saying. Let me see,
however, what she's going to write next."

While cogitating, he looked once more. Lo, the girl was still tracing.
But tracing up or tracing down, it was ever the character "Ch'iang."
When he gazed again, it was still the self-same Ch'iang.

The one inside the fence fell, in fact, from an early stage, into a
foolish mood, and no sooner was one 'Ch'iang,' finished than she started
with another; so that she had already written several tens of them. The
one outside gazed and gazed, until he unwittingly also got into the same
foolish mood. Intent with his eyes upon following the movements of the
pin, in his mind, he communed thus with his own thoughts: "This girl
must, for a certainty, have something to say, or some unspeakable
momentous secret that she goes on like this. But if outwardly she
behaves in this wise, who knows what anguish she mayn't suffer at heart?
And yet, with a frame to all appearances so very delicate, how could she
ever resist much inward anxiety! Woe is me that I'm unable to transfer
some part of her burden on to my own shoulders!"

In midsummer, cloudy and bright weather are uncertain. A few specks of
clouds suffice to bring about rain. Of a sudden, a cold blast swept by,
and tossed about by the wind fell a shower of rain. Pao-yü perceived
that the water trickling down the girl's head saturated her gauze attire
in no time. "It's pouring," Pao-yü debated within himself, "and how can
a frame like hers resist the brunt of such a squall." Unable therefore
to restrain himself, he vehemently shouted: "Leave off writing! See,
it's pouring; you're wet through!"

The girl caught these words, and was frightened out of her wits. Raising
her head, she at once descried some one or other standing beyond the
flowers and calling out to her: "Leave off writing. It's pouring!" But
as Pao-yü was, firstly, of handsome appearance, and as secondly the
luxuriant abundance of flowers and foliage screened with their boughs,
thick-laden with leaves, the upper and lower part of his person, just
leaving half of his countenance exposed to view, the maiden simply
jumped at the conclusion that he must be a servant girl, and never for a
moment dreamt that it might be Pao-yü. "Many thanks, sister, for
recalling me to my senses," she consequently smiled. "Yet is there
forsooth anything outside there to protect you from the rain?"

This single remark proved sufficient to recall Pao-yü to himself. With
an exclamation of "Ai-yah," he at length became conscious that his whole
body was cold as ice. Then drooping his head, he realised that his own
person too was drenched. "This will never do," he cried, and with one
breath he had to run back into the I Hung court. His mind, however,
continued much exercised about the girl as she had nothing to shelter
her from the rain.

As the next day was the dragon-boat festival, Wen Kuan and the other
singing girls, twelve in all, were given a holiday, so they came into
the garden and amused themselves by roaming everywhere and anywhere. As
luck would have it, the two girls Pao-Kuan, who filled the _rôle_
of young men and Yü Kuan, who represented young women, were in the I
Hung court enjoying themselves with Hsi Jen, when rain set in and they
were prevented from going back, so in a body they stopped up the drain
to allow the water to accumulate in the yard. Then catching those that
could be caught, and driving those that had to be driven, they laid hold
of a few of the green-headed ducks, variegated marsh-birds and coloured
mandarin-ducks, and tying their wings they let them loose in the court
to disport themselves. Closing the court Hsi Jen and her playmates stood
together under the verandah and enjoyed the fun. Pao-yü therefore found
the entrance shut. He gave a rap at the door. But as every one inside
was bent upon laughing, they naturally did not catch the sound; and it
was only after he had called and called, and made a noise by thumping at
the door, that they at last heard. Imagining, however, that Pao-yü could
not be coming back at that hour, Hsi Jen shouted laughing: "who's it now
knocking at the door? There's no one to go and open."

"It's I," rejoined Pao-yü.

"It's Miss Pao-ch'ai's tone of voice," added She Yüeh.

"Nonsense!" cried Ch'ing Wen. "What would Miss Pao-ch'ai come over to do
at such an hour?"

"Let me go," chimed in Hsi Jen, "and see through the fissure in the
door, and if we can open, we'll open; for we mustn't let her go back,
wet through."

With these words, she came along the passage to the doorway. On looking
out, she espied Pao-yü dripping like a chicken drenched with rain.

Seeing him in this plight, Hsi Jen felt solicitous as well as amused.
With alacrity, she flung the door wide open, laughing so heartily that
she was doubled in two. "How could I ever have known," she said,
clapping her hands, "that you had returned, Sir! Yet how is it that
you've run back in this heavy rain?"

Pao-yü had, however, been feeling in no happy frame of mind. He had
fully resolved within himself to administer a few kicks to the person,
who came to open the door, so as soon as it was unbarred, he did not try
to make sure who it was, but under the presumption that it was one of
the servant-girls, he raised his leg and give her a kick on the side.

"Ai-yah!" ejaculated Hsi Jen.

Pao-yü nevertheless went on to abuse. "You mean things!" he shouted.
"It's because I've always treated you so considerately that you don't
respect me in the least! And you now go to the length of making a
laughing-stock of me!"

As he spoke, he lowered his head. Then catching sight of Hsi Jen, in
tears, he realised that he had kicked the wrong person. "Hallo!" he
said, promptly smiling, "is it you who've come? Where did I kick you?"

Hsi Jen had never, previous to this, received even a harsh word from
him. When therefore she on this occasion unexpectedly saw Pao-yü gave
her a kick in a fit of anger and, what made it worse, in the presence of
so many people, shame, resentment, and bodily pain overpowered her and
she did not, in fact, for a time know where to go and hide herself. She
was then about to give rein to her displeasure, but the reflection that
Pao-yü could not have kicked her intentionally obliged her to suppress
her indignation. "Instead of kicking," she remarked, "don't you yet go
and change your clothes?"

Pao-yü walked into the room. As he did so, he smiled. "Up to the age
I've reached," he observed, "this is the first instance on which I've
ever so thoroughly lost control over my temper as to strike any one;
and, contrary to all my thoughts, it's you that happened to come in my

Hsi Jen, while patiently enduring the pain, effected the necessary
change in his attire. "I've been here from the very first," she
simultaneously added, smilingly, "so in all things, whether large or
small, good or bad, it has naturally fallen to my share to bear the
brunt. But not to say another word about your assault on me, why,
to-morrow you'll indulge your hand and star-beating others!"

"I did not strike you intentionally just now," retorted Pao-yü.

"Who ever said," rejoined Hsi Jen, "that you did it intentionally! It
has ever been the duty of that tribe of servant-girls to open and shut
the doors, yet they've got into the way of being obstinate, and have
long ago become such an abomination that people's teeth itch to revenge
themselves on them. They don't know, besides, what fear means. So had
you first assured yourself that it was they and given them a kick, a
little intimidating would have done them good. But I'm at the bottom of
the mischief that happened just now, for not calling those, upon whom it
devolves, to come and open for you."

During the course of their conversation, the rain ceased, and Pao Kuan
and Yü Kuan had been able to take their leave. Hsi Jen, however,
experienced such intense pain in her side, and felt such inward
vexation, that at supper she could not put a morsel of anything in her
mouth. When in the evening, the time came for her to have her bath, she
discovered, on divesting herself of her clothes, a bluish bruise on her
side of the size of a saucer and she was very much frightened. But as
she could not very well say anything about it to any one, she presently
retired to rest. But twitches of pain made her involuntarily moan in her
dreams and groan in her sleep.

Pao-yü did, it is true, not hurt her with any malice, but when he saw
Hsi Jen so listless and restless, and suddenly heard her groan in the
course of the night, he realised how severely he must have kicked her.
So getting out of bed, he gently seized the lantern and came over to
look at her. But as soon as he reached the side of her bed, he perceived
Hsi Jen expectorate, with a retch, a whole mouthful of phlegm. "Oh me!"
she gasped, as she opened her eyes. The presence of Pao-yü startled her
out of her wits. "What are you up to?" she asked.

"You groaned in your dreams," answered Pao-yü, "so I must have kicked
you hard. Do let me see!"

"My head feels giddy," said Hsi Jen. "My throat foul and sweet; throw
the light on the floor!"

At these words, Pao-yü actually raised the lantern. The moment he cast
the light below, he discerned a quantity of fresh blood on the floor.

Pao-yü was seized with consternation. "Dreadful!" was all he could say.
At the sight of the blood, Hsi Jen's heart too partly waxed cold.

But, reader, the next chapter will reveal the sequel, if you really have
any wish to know more about them.


Pao-yü allows the girl Ch'ing Wen to tear his fan so as to afford her
A wedding proves to be the result of the descent of a unicorn.

But to proceed. When she saw on the floor the blood, she had brought up,
Hsi Jen immediately grew partly cold. What she had often heard people
mention in past days 'that the lives of young people, who expectorate
blood, are uncertain, and that although they may live long, they are,
after all, mere wrecks,' flashed through her mind. The remembrance of
this saying at once completely scattered to the winds the wish, she had
all along cherished, of striving for honour and of being able to boast
of glory; and from her eyes unwittingly ran down streams of tears.

When Pao-yü saw her crying, his heart was seized with anguish. "What's
it that preys on your mind?" he consequently asked her.

Hsi Jen strained every nerve to smile. "There's no rhyme or reason for
anything," she replied, "so what can it be?"

Pao-yü's intention was to there and then give orders to the servant to
warm some white wine and to ask them for a few 'Li-T'ung' pills
compounded with goat's blood, but Hsi Jen clasped his hand tight. "My
troubling you is of no matter," she smiled, "but were I to put ever so
many people to inconvenience, they'll bear me a grudge for my impudence.
Not a soul, it's clear enough, knows anything about it now, but were you
to make such a bustle as to bring it to people's notice, you'll be in an
awkward fix, and so will I. The proper thing, therefore, is for you to
send a page to-morrow to request Dr. Wang to prepare some medicine for
me. When I take this I shall be all right. And as neither any human
being nor spirit will thus get wind of it, won't it be better?"

Pao-yü found her suggestion so full of reason that he thought himself
obliged to abandon his purpose; so approaching the table, he poured a
cup of tea, and came over and gave it to Hsi Jen to rinse her mouth
with. Aware, however, as Hsi Jen was that Pao-yü himself was not feeling
at ease in his mind, she was on the point of bidding him not wait upon
her; but convinced that he would once more be certain not to accede to
her wishes, and that the others would, in the second place, have to be
disturbed, she deemed it expedient to humour him. Leaning on the couch,
she consequently allowed Pao-yü to come and attend to her.

As soon as the fifth watch struck, Pao-yü, unmindful of combing or
washing, hastily put on his clothes and left the room; and sending for
Wang Chi-jen, he personally questioned him with all minuteness about her

Wang Chi-jen asked how it had come about. "It's simply a bruise; nothing
more," (he said), and forthwith he gave him the names of some pills and
medicines, and told him how they were to be taken, and how they were to
be applied.

Pao-yü committed every detail to memory, and on his return into the
garden, the treatment was, needless for us to explain, taken in hand in
strict compliance with the directions.

This was the day of the dragon-boat festival. Cat-tail and artemisia
were put over the doors. Tiger charms were suspended on every back. At
noon, Madame Wang got a banquet ready, and to this midday feast, she
invited the mother, daughter and the rest of the members of the Hsüeh

Pao-yü noticed that Pao-ch'ai was in such low spirits that she would not
even speak to him, and concluded that the reason was to be sought in the
incident of the previous day. Madame Wang seeing Pao-yü in a sullen
humour jumped at the surmise that it must be due to Chin Ch'uan's affair
of the day before; and so ill at ease did she feel that she heeded him
less than ever. Lin Tai-yü, detected Pao-yü's apathy, and presumed that
he was out of sorts for having given umbrage to Pao-ch'ai, and her
manner likewise assumed a listless air. Lady Feng had, in the course of
the previous evening, been told by Madame Wang what had taken place
between Pao-yü and Chin Ch'uan, and when she came to know that Madame
Wang was in an unhappy frame of mind she herself did not venture to chat
or laugh, but at once regulated her behaviour to suit Madame Wang's
mood. So the lack of animation became more than ever perceptible; for
the good cheer of Ying Ch'un and her sisters was also damped by the
sight of all of them down in the mouth. The natural consequence
therefore was that they all left after a very short stay.

Lin Tai-yü had a natural predilection for retirement. She did not care
for social gatherings. Her notions, however, were not entirely devoid of
reason. She maintained that people who gathered together must soon part;
that when they came together, they were full of rejoicing, but did they
not feel lonely when they broke up? That since this sense of loneliness
gave rise to chagrin, it was consequently preferable not to have any
gatherings. That flowers afforded an apt example. When they opened, they
won people's admiration; but when they faded, they added to the feeling
of vexation; so that better were it if they did not blossom at all! To
this cause therefore must be assigned the fact that when other people
were glad, she, on the contrary, felt unhappy.

Pao-yü's disposition was such that he simply yearned for frequent
gatherings, and looked forward with sorrow to the breaking up which must
too soon come round. As for flowers, he wished them to bloom repeatedly
and was haunted with the dread of their dying in a little time. Yet
albeit manifold anguish fell to his share when banquets drew to a close
and flowers began to fade, he had no alternative but to practice

On this account was it that, when the company cheerlessly broke up from
the present feast, Lin Tai-yü did not mind the separation; and that
Pao-yü experienced such melancholy and depression, that, on his return
to his apartments, he gave way to deep groans and frequent sighs.

Ch'ing Wen, as it happened, came to the upper quarters to change her
costume. In an unguarded moment, she let her fan slip out of her hand
and drop on the ground. As it fell, the bones were snapped. "You stupid
thing!" Pao-yü exclaimed, sighing, "what a dunce! what next will you be
up to by and bye? When, in a little time, you get married and have a
home of your own, will you, forsooth, still go on in this happy-go-lucky
careless sort of way?"

"Master Secundus," replied Ch'ing Wen with a sardonic smile, "your
temper is of late dreadfully fiery, and time and again it leaks out on
your very face! The other day you even beat Hsi Jen and here you are
again now finding fault with us! If you feel disposed to kick or strike
us, you are at liberty, Sir, to do so at your pleasure; but for a fan to
slip on the ground is an everyday occurrence! How many of those crystal
jars and cornelian bowls were smashed the other time, I don't remember,
and yet you were not seen to fly into a tantrum; and now, for a fan do
you distress yourself so? What's the use of it? If you dislike us, well
pack us off and select some good girls to serve you, and we will quietly
go away. Won't this be better?"

This rejoinder so exasperated Pao-yü that his whole frame trembled
violently. "You needn't be in a hurry!" he then shouted. "There will be
a day of parting by and bye."

Hsi Jen was on the other side, and from an early period she listened to
the conversation between them. Hurriedly crossing over, "what are you up
to again?" she said to Pao-yü, "why, there's nothing to put your monkey
up! I'm perfectly right in my assertion that when I'm away for any
length of time, something is sure to happen."

Ch'ing Wen heard these remarks. "Sister," she interposed smiling
ironically, "since you've got the gift of the gab, you should have come
at once; you would then have spared your master his fit of anger. It's
you who have from bygone days up to the present waited upon master;
we've never had anything to do with attending on him; and it's because
you've served him so faithfully that he repaid you yesterday with a kick
on the stomach. But who knows what punishment mayn't be in store for us,
who aren't fit to wait upon him decently!"

At these insinuations, Hsi Jen felt both incensed and ashamed. She was
about to make some response but Pao-yü had worked himself into such
another passion as to get quite yellow in the face, and she was obliged
to rein in her temper. Pushing Ch'ing Wen, "Dear sister," she cried,
"you had better be off for a stroll! it's really we, who are to blame!"

The very mention of the word "we" made it certain to Ch'ing Wen that she
implied herself and Pao-yü, and thus unawares more fuel was added again
to her jealous notions. Giving way to several loud smiles, full of
irony: "I can't make out," she insinuated, "who you may mean. But don't
make me blush on your account! Even those devilish pranks of yours can't
hoodwink me! How and why is it that you've started styling yourself as
'we?' Properly speaking, you haven't as yet so much as attained the
designation of 'Miss!' You're simply no better than I am, and how is it
then that you presume so high as to call yourself 'we.'"

Hsi Jen's face grew purple from shame. "The fact is," she reflected,
"that I've said more than I should."

"As one and all of you are ever bearing her malice," Pao-yü
simultaneously observed, "I'll actually raise her to-morrow to a higher

Hsi Jen quickly snatched Pao-yü's hand. "She's a stupid girl," she said,
"what's the use of arguing with her? What's more, you've so far borne
with them and overlooked ever, so many other things more grievous than
this; and what are you up to to-day?"

"If I'm really a stupid girl," repeated Ch'ing Wen, smiling
sarcastically, "am I a fit person for you to hold converse with? Why,
I'm purely and simply a slave-girl; that's all."

"Are you, after all," cried Hsi Jen, at these words, "bickering with me,
or with Master Secundus? If you bear me a grudge, you'd better then
address your remarks to me alone; albeit it isn't right that you should
kick up such a hullaballoo in the presence of Mr. Secundus. But if you
have a spite against Mr. Secundus, you shouldn't be shouting so
boisterously as to make thousands of people know all about it! I came
in, a few minutes back, merely for the purpose of setting matters right,
and of urging you to make up your quarrels so that we should all be on
the safe side; and here I have the unlucky fate of being set upon by
you, Miss! Yet you neither seem to be angry with me, nor with Mr.
Secundus! But armed _cap-à-pie_ as you appear to be, what is your
ultimate design? I won't utter another word, but let you have your say!"

While she spoke, she was hurriedly wending her way out.

"You needn't raise your dander." Pao-yü remarked to Ch'ing Wen. "I've
guessed the secret of your heart, so I'll go and tell mother that as
you've also attained a certain age, she should send you away. Will this
please you, yes or no?"

This allusion made Ch'ing Wen unwittingly feel again wounded at heart.
She tried to conceal her tears. "Why should I go away?" she asked. "If
even you be so prejudiced against me as to try and devise means to pack
me off, you won't succeed."

"I never saw such brawling!" Pao-yü exclaimed. "You're certainly bent
upon going! I might as well therefore let mother know so as to bundle
you off!"

While addressing her, he rose to his feet and was intent upon trudging
off at once. Hsi Jen lost no time in turning round and impeding his
progress. "Where are you off to?" she cried.

"I'm going to tell mother," answered Pao-yü.

"It's no use whatever!" Hsi Jen smiled, "you may be in real earnest to
go and tell her, but aren't you afraid of putting her to shame? If even
she positively means to leave, you can very well wait until you two have
got over this bad blood. And when everything is past and gone, it won't
be any too late for you to explain, in the course of conversation, the
whole case to our lady, your mother. But if you now go in hot haste and
tell her, as if the matter were an urgent one, won't you be the means of
making our mistress give way to suspicion?"

"My mother," demurred Pao-yü, "is sure not to entertain any suspicions,
as all I will explain to her is that she insists upon leaving."

"When did I ever insist upon going?" sobbed Ch'ing Wen. "You fly into a
rage, and then you have recourse to threats to intimidate me. But you're
at liberty to go and say anything you like; for as I'll knock my brains
out against the wall, I won't get alive out of this door."

"This is, indeed, strange!" exclaimed Pao-yü. "If you won't go, what's
the good of all this fuss? I can't stand this bawling, so it will be a
riddance if you would get out of the way!"

Saying this, he was resolved upon going to report the matter. Hsi Jen
found herself powerless to dissuade him. She had in consequence no other
resource but to fall on her knees.

Pi Hen, Ch'iu Wen, She Yüeh and the rest of the waiting-maids had
realised what a serious aspect the dispute had assumed, and not a sound
was to be heard to fall from their lips. They remained standing outside
listening to what was going on. When they now overheard Hsi Jen making
solicitous entreaties on her knees, they rushed into the apartment in a
body; and with one consent they prostrated themselves on the floor.

Pao-yü at once pulled Hsi Jen up. Then with a sigh, he took a seat on
the bed. "Get up," he shouted to the body of girls, "and clear out! What
would you have me do?" he asked, addressing himself to Hsi Jen. "This
heart of mine has been rent to pieces, and no one has any idea about

While speaking, tears of a sudden rolled down his cheek. At the sight of
Pao-yü weeping, Hsi Jen also melted into a fit of crying. Ch'ing Wen was
standing by them, with watery eyes. She was on the point of reasoning
with them, when espying Lin Tai-yü step into the room, she speedily
walked out.

"On a grand holiday like this," remonstrated Lin Tai-yü smiling, "how is
it that you're snivelling away, and all for nothing? Is it likely that
high words have resulted all through that 'dumpling' contest?"

Pao-yü and Lin Tai-yü blurted out laughing.

"You don't tell me, cousin Secundus," Lin Tai-yü put in, "but I know all
about it, even though I have asked no questions."

Now she spoke, and now she patted Hsi Jen on the shoulder. "My dear
sister-in-law," she smiled, "just you tell me! It must surely be that
you two have had a quarrel. Confide in me, your cousin, so that I might
reconcile you."

"Miss Lin," rejoined Hsi Jen, pushing her off, "what are you fussing
about? I am simply one of our servant-girls; you're therefore rather
erratic in your talk!"

"You say that you're only a servant-girl," smilingly replied Tai-yü,
"and yet I treat you like a sister-in-law."

"Why do you," Pao-yü chimed in, "give her this abusive epithet? But
however much she may make allowance for this, can she, when there are so
many others who tell idle tales on her account, put up with your coming
and telling her all you've said?"

"Miss Lin," smiled Hsi Jen, "you're not aware of the purpose of my
heart. Unless my breath fails and I die, I shall continue in his

"If you die," remarked Lin Tai-yü smiling, "what will others do, I
wonder? As for me, I shall be the first to die from crying."

"Were you to die," added Pao-yü laughingly, "I shall become a bonze."

"You'd better be a little more sober-minded!" laughed Hsi Jen. "What's
the good of coming out with all these things?"

Lin Tai-yü put out two of her fingers, and puckered up her lips. "Up to
this," she laughed, "he's become a bonze twice. Henceforward, I'll try
and remember how many times you make up your mind to become a Buddhist

This reminded Pao-yü that she was referring to a remark he had made on a
previous occasion, but smiling to himself, he allowed the matter to

After a short interval, Lin Tai-yü went away. A servant then came to
announce that Mr. Hsüeh wanted to see him, and Pao-yü had to go. The
purpose of this visit was in fact to invite him to a banquet, and as he
could not very well put forward any excuse to refuse, he had to remain
till the end of the feast before he was able to take his leave. The
result was that, on his return, in the evening, he was to a great extent
under the effect of wine. With bustling step, he wended his way into his
own court. Here he perceived that the cool couch with a back to it, had
already been placed in the yard, and that there was some one asleep on
it. Prompted by the conviction that it must be Hsi Jen, Pao-yü seated
himself on the edge of the couch. As he did so, he gave her a push, and
inquired whether her sore place was any better. But thereupon he saw the
occupant turn herself round, and exclaim: "What do you come again to
irritate me for?"

Pao-yü, at a glance, realised that it was not Hsi Jen, but Ch'ing Wen.
Pao-yü then clutched her and compelled her to sit next to him. "Your
disposition," he smiled, "has been more and more spoilt through
indulgence. When you let the fan drop this morning, I simply made one or
two remarks, and out you came with that long rigmarole. Had you gone for
me it wouldn't have mattered; but you also dragged in Hsi Jen, who only
interfered with every good intention of inducing us to make it up again.
But, ponder now, ought you to have done it; yes or no?"

"With this intense heat," remonstrated Ch'ing Wen, "why do you pull me
and toss me about? Should any people see you, what will they think? But
this person of mine isn't meet to be seated in here."

"Since you yourself know that it isn't meet," replied Pao-yü with a
smile, "why then were you sleeping here?"

To this taunt Ch'ing Wen had nothing to say. But she spurted out into
fresh laughter. "It was all right," she retorted, "during your absence;
but the moment you come, it isn't meet for me to stay! Get up and let me
go and have my bath. Hsi Jen and She Yüeh have both had theirs, so I'll
call them here!"

"I've just had again a good deal of wine," remarked Pao-yü, laughingly;
"so a wash will be good for me. And since you've not had your bath, you
had better bring the water and let's both have it together."

"No, no!" smiled Ch'ing Wen, waving her hand, "I cannot presume to put
you to any trouble, Sir. I still remember how when Pi Hen used to look
after your bath you occupied fully two or three hours. What you were up
to during that time we never knew. We could not very well walk in. When
you had however done washing, and we entered your room, we found the
floor so covered with water that the legs of the bed were soaking and
the matting itself a regular pool. Nor could we make out what kind of
washing you'd been having; and for days afterwards we had a laugh over
it. But I've neither any time to get the water ready; nor do I see the
need for you to have a wash along with me. Besides, to-day it's chilly,
and as you've had a bath only a little while back, you can very well
just now dispense with one. But I'll draw a basin of water for you to
wash your face, and to shampoo your head with. Not long ago, Yüan Yang
sent you a few fruits; they were put in that crystal bowl, so you'd
better tell them to bring them to you to taste."

"Well, in that case." laughed Pao-yü, "you needn't also have a bath.
Just simply wash your hands, and bring the fruit and let's have some

"I'm so shaky," smiled Ch'ing Wen "that even fans slip out of my hands,
and how could I fetch the fruit for you. Were I also to break the dish,
it will be still more dreadful!"

"If you want to break it, break it!" smiled Pao-yü. "These things are
only intended for general use. You like this thing; I fancy that; our
respective tastes are not identical. The original use of that fan, for
instance, was to fan one's self with; but if you chose to break it for
fun, you were quite at liberty to do so. The only thing is, when you get
angry don't make it the means of giving vent to your temper! Just like
those salvers. They are really meant for serving things in. But if you
fancy that kind of sound, then deliberately smash them, that will be all
right. But don't, when you are in high dudgeon avail yourself of them to
air your resentment! That's what one would call having a fancy for a

Ch'ing Wen greeted his words with a smile.

"Since that be so," she said, "bring me your fan and let me tear it.
What most takes my fancy is tearing!"

Upon hearing this Pao-yü smilingly handed it to her. Ch'ing Wen, in
point of fact, took it over, and with a crash she rent it in two. Close
upon this, the sound of crash upon crash became audible.

Pao-yü was standing next to her. "How nice the noise is!" he laughed.
"Tear it again and make it sound a little more!"

But while he spoke, She Yüeh was seen to walk in. "Don't," she smiled,
"be up to so much mischief!" Pao-yü, however, went up to her and
snatching her fan also from her hand, he gave it to Ch'ing Wen. Ch'ing
Wen took it and there and then likewise broke it in two. Both he and she
then had a hearty laugh.

"What do you call this?" She Yüeh expostulated. "Do you take my property
and make it the means of distracting yourselves!"

"Open the fan-box," shouted Pao-yü, "and choose one and take it away!
What, are they such fine things!"

"In that case," ventured She Yüeh, "fetch the fans and let her break as
many as she can. Won't that be nice!"

"Go and bring them at once!" Pao-yü laughed.

"I won't be up to any such tomfoolery!" She Yüeh demurred. "She hasn't
snapped her hands, so bid her go herself and fetch them!"

"I'm feeling tired," interposed Ch'ing Wen, as she laughingly leant on
the bed. "I'll therefore tear some more to-morrow again."

"An old writer says," added Pao-yü with a smile, "'that a thousand
ounces of gold cannot purchase a single laugh'! What can a few fans

After moralising, he went on to call Hsi Jen. Hsi Jen had just finished
the necessary change in her dress so she stepped in; and a young
servant-girl, Chiao Hui, crossed over and picked up the broken fans.
Then they all sat and enjoyed the cool breeze. But we can well dispense
with launching into any minute details.

On the morrow, noon found Madame Wang, Hsüeh Pao-ch'ai, Lin Tai-yü, and
the rest of the young ladies congregated in dowager lady Chia's suite of
rooms. Some one then brought the news that: "Miss Shih had arrived." In
a little time they perceived Shih Hsiang-yun make her appearance in the
court, at the head of a bevy of waiting-maids and married women.
Pao-ch'ai, Tai-yu and her other cousins, quickly ran down the steps to
meet her and exchange greetings. But with what fervour girls of tender
years re-unite some day after a separation of months need not, of
course, be explained. Presently, she entered the apartments, paid her
respects and inquired how they all were. But after this conventional
interchange of salutations, old lady Chia pressed her to take off her
outer garments as the weather was so close. Shih Hsiang-yün lost no time
in rising to her feet and loosening her clothes. "I don't see why,"
Madame Wang thereupon smiled, "you wear all these things!'

"It's entirely at aunt Secunda's bidding," retorted Shih Hsiang-yün,
"that I put them on. Why, would any one of her own accord wear so many

"Aunt," interposed Pao-ch'ai, who stood by, with a smile, "you're not
aware that what most delights her in the matter of dress is to don other
people's clothes! Yes, I remember how, during her stay here in the third
and fourth moons of last year, she used to wear cousin Pao's pelisses.
She even put on his shoes, and attached his frontlets as well round her
head. At a casual glance, she looked the very image of cousin Pao; what
was superfluous was that pair of earrings of hers. As she stood at the
back of that chair she so thoroughly took in our venerable ancestor that
she kept on shouting: 'Pao-yü, come over! Mind the tassels suspended on
that lamp; for if you shake the dust off, it may get into your eyes!'
But all she did was to laugh; she did not budge; and it was only after
every one found it hard to keep their countenance that our worthy senior
also started laughing. 'You do look well in male habiliments!' she said
to her."

"What about that!" cried Lin Tai-yü, "why, she had scarcely been here
with us a couple of days in the first moon of last year, when we sent
and fetched her, that we had a fall of snow. You, venerable senior, and
her maternal aunt had on that day, I remember so well, just returned
from worshipping the images of our ancestors, and a brand-new deep red
felt wrapper of yours, dear grandmother, had been lying over there, when
suddenly it disappeared. But, lo, she it was who had put it on! Being,
however, too large and too long for her, she took a couple of
handkerchiefs, and fastened them round her waist. She was then trudging
into the back court with the servant-girls to make snow men when she
tripped and fell flat in front of the drain, and got covered all over
with mud."

As she narrated this incident, every one recalled the circumstances to
mind, and had a good laugh.

"Dame Chou," Pao-ch'ai smilingly inquired of nurse Chou, "is your young
lady always as fond of pranks as ever or not?"

Nurse Chou then also gave a laugh.

"Pranks are nothing," Ying Ch'un smiled. "What I do detest is her
fondness for tittle-tattle! I've never seen any one who, even when
asleep, goes on chatter-chatter; now laughing, and now talking, as she
does. Nor can I make out where she gets all those idle yarns of hers."

"I think she's better of late," interposed Madame Wang. "The other day
some party or other came and they met; so she's to have a mother-in-law
very soon; and can she still be comporting herself like that!"

"Are you going to stay to-day," dowager lady Chia then asked, "or going
back home?"

Nurse Chou smiled. "Your venerable ladyship has not seen what an amount
of clothes we've brought," she replied. "We mean, of course, to stay a
couple of days."

"Is cousin Pao-yü not at home?" inquired Hsiang-yün."

"There she's again! She doesn't think of others," remarked Pao-ch'ai
smiling significantly. "She only thinks of her cousin Pao-yü. They're
both so fond of larks! This proves that she hasn't yet got rid of that
spirit of mischief."

"You're all now grown up," observed old lady Chia; "and you shouldn't
allude to infant names."

But while she was chiding them, they noticed Pao-yü arrive.

"Cousin Yün, have you come?" he smiled. "How is it that you wouldn't
come the other day when some one was despatched to fetch you?"

"It's only a few minutes," Madame Wang said, "since our venerable senior
called that one to task, and now here he comes and refers to names and

"Your cousin Pao," ventured Lin Tai-yü, "has something good, which he
has been waiting to give you."

"What good thing is it?" asked Hsiang-yün.

"Do you believe what she says?" observed Pao-yü laughingly. "But how
many days is it that I have not seen you, and you've grown so much

"Is cousin Hsi Jen all right?" inquired Hsiang-yün.

"She's all right," answered Pao-yü. "Many thanks for your kind thought
of her."

"I've brought something nice for her," resumed Hsiang-yün.

Saying this, she produced her handkerchief, tied into a knot.

"What's this something nice?" asked Pao-yü. "Wouldn't it have been
better if you'd brought her a couple of those rings with streaked stones
of the kind you sent the other day?"

"Why, what's this?" exclaimed Hsiang-yün laughing, opening, as she
spoke, the handkerchief.

On close scrutiny, they actually found four streaked rings, similar to
those she had previously sent, tied up in the same packet.

"Look here!" Lin Tai-yü smiled, "what a girl she is! Had you, when
sending that fellow the other day to bring ours, given him these also to
bring along with him, wouldn't it have saved trouble? Instead of that,
here you fussily bring them yourself to-day! I presumed that it was
something out of the way again; but is it really only these things? In
very truth, you're a mere dunce!"

"It's you who behave like a dunce now!" Shih Hsiang-yün smiled.

"I'll speak out here and let every one judge for themselves who is the
dunce. The servant, deputed to bring the things to you, had no need to
open his mouth and say anything; for, as soon as they were brought in,
it was of course evident, at a glance, that they were to be presented to
you young ladies. But had he been the bearer of these things for them, I
would have been under the necessity of explaining to him which was
intended for this servant-girl, and which for that. Had the messenger
had his wits about him, well and good; but had he been at all stupid he
wouldn't have been able to remember so much as the names of the girls!
He would have made an awful mess of it, and talked a lot of nonsense. So
instead of being of any use he would have even muddled,
hickledy-pickledy, your things. Had a female servant been despatched, it
would have been all right. But as it happened, a servant-boy was again
sent the other day, so how could he have mentioned the names of the
waiting-girls? And by my bringing them in person to give them to them,
doesn't it make things clearer?"

As she said this, she put down the four rings. "One is for sister Hsi
Jen," she continued, "one is for sister Yüan Yang. One for sister Chin
Ch'uan-erh, and one for sister P'ing Erh. They are only for these four
girls; but would the servant-boys too forsooth have remembered them so

At these words, the whole company smiled. "How really clear!" they

"This is what it is to be able to speak!" Pao-yü put in. "She doesn't
spare any one!"

Hearing this, Lin Tai-yü gave a sardonic smile. "If she didn't know how
to use her tongue," she observed, "would she deserve to wear that
unicorn of gold!"

While speaking, she rose and walked off.

Luckily, every one did not hear what she said. Only Hsüeh Pao-ch'ai
pursed up her lips and laughed. Pao-yü, however, had overheard her
remark, and he blamed himself for having once more talked in a heedless
manner. Unawares his eye espied Pao-ch'ai much amused, and he too could
not suppress a smile. But at the sight of Pao-yü in laughter, Pao-ch'ai
hastily rose to her feet and withdrew. She went in search of Tai-yü, to
have a chat and laugh with her.

"After you've had tea," old lady Chia thereupon said to Hsiang-yün,
"you'd better rest a while and then go and see your sisters-in-law.
Besides, it's cool in the garden, so you can walk about with your

Hsiang-yün expressed her assent, and, collecting the three rings, she
wrapped them up, and went and lay down to rest. Presently, she got up
with the idea of paying visits to lady Feng and her other relatives.
Followed by a whole bevy of nurses and waiting-maids, she repaired into
lady Feng's quarters on the off side. She bandied words with her for a
while and then coming out she betook herself into the garden of Broad
Vista, and called on Li Kung-ts'ai. But after a short visit, she turned
her steps towards the I Hung court to look up Hsi Jen. "You people
needn't," she said, turning her head round, "come along with me! You may
go and see your friends and relatives. It will be quite enough if you
simply leave Ts'ui Lü to wait upon me."

Hearing her wishes, each went her own way in quest of aunts, or
sisters-in-law. There only remained but Hsiang-yün and Ts'ui Lü.

"How is it," inquired Ts'ui Lü, "that these lotus flowers have not yet

"The proper season hasn't yet arrived," rejoined Shih Hsiang-yün.

"They too," continued Ts'ui Lü, "resemble those in our pond; they are
double flowers."

"These here," remarked Hsiang-yün, "are not however up to ours."

"They have over there," observed Ts'ui Lü, "a pomegranate tree, with
four or five branches joined one to another, just like one storey raised
above another storey. What trouble it must have cost them to rear!"

"Flowers and plants," suggested Shih Hsiang-yün, "are precisely like the
human race. With sufficient vitality, they grow up in a healthy

"I can't credit these words," replied Ts'ui Lü, twisting her face round.
"If you maintain that they are like human beings, how is it that I
haven't seen any person, with one head growing over another."

This rejoinder evoked a smile from Hsiang-yün. "I tell you not to talk,"
she cried, "but you will insist upon talking! How do you expect people
to be able to answer every thing you say! All things, whether in heaven
or on earth come into existence by the co-operation of the dual powers,
the male and female. So all things, whether good or bad, novel or
strange, and all those manifold changes and transformations arise
entirely from the favourable or adverse influence exercised by the male
and female powers. And though some things seldom seen by mankind might
come to life, the principle at work is, after all, the same."

"In the face of these arguments," laughed Ts'ui Lü, "everything, from
old till now, from the very creation itself, embodies a certain
proportion of the Yin and Yang principles."

"You stupid thing!" exclaimed Hsiang-yün smiling, "the more you talk,
the more stuff and nonsense falls from your lips! What about everything
embodying a certain proportion of the principles Yin and Yang! Besides,
the two words Yin and Yang are really one word; for when the Yang
principle is exhausted, it becomes the Yin; and when the Yin is
exhausted, it becomes Yang. And it isn't that, at the exhaustion of the
Yin, another Yang comes into existence; and that, at the exhaustion of
the Yang, a second Yin arises."

"This trash is sufficient to kill me!" ejaculated Ts'ui Lü. "What are
the Yin and Yang? Why, they are without substance or form! But pray,
Miss, tell me what sort of things these Yin and Yang can be!"

"The Yin and Yang," explained Hsiang-yün, "are no more than spirits, but
anything affected by their influence at once assumes form. The heavens,
for instance, are Yang, and the earth is Yin; water is Yin and fire is
Yang; the sun is Yang and the moon Yin."

"Quite so! quite so!" cried out Ts'ui Lü, much amused by these
explanations, "I've at length attained perception! It isn't strange then
that people invariably call the sun 'T'ai-yang.' While astrologers keep
on speaking of the moon as 'T'ai-yin-hsing,' or something like it. It
must be on account of this principle."

"O-mi-to-fu!" laughed Hsiang-yün, "you have at last understood!"

"All these things possess the Yin and Yang; that's all right." T'sui Lü
put in. "But is there any likelihood that all those mosquitoes, flees
and worms, flowers, herbs, bricks and tiles have, in like manner,
anything to do with the Yin and Yang?"

"How don't they!" exclaimed Hsiang-yün. "For example, even the leaves of
that tree are distinguished by Yin and Yang. The side, which looks up
and faces the sun, is called Yang; while that in the shade and looking
downwards, is called Yin."

"Is it really so!" ejaculated T'sui Lü, upon hearing this; while she
smiled and nodded her head. "Now I know all about it! But which is Yang
and which Yin in these fans we're holding."

"This side, the front, is Yang," answered Hsiang-yün; "and that, the
reverse, is Yin."

Ts'ui Lü went on to nod her head, and to laugh. She felt inclined to
apply her questions to several other things, but as she could not fix
her mind upon anything in particular, she, all of a sudden, drooped her
head. Catching sight of the pendant in gold, representing a unicorn,
which Hsiang-yün had about her person, she forthwith made allusion to
it. "This, Miss," she said smiling, "cannot likely also have any Yin and

"The beasts of the field and the birds of the air," proceeded
Hsiang-yün, "are, the cock birds, Yang, and the hen birds, Yin. The
females of beasts are Yin; and the males, Yang; so how is there none?"

"Is this male, or is this female?" inquired Ts'ui Lü.

"Ts'ui!" exclaimed Hsiang-yün, "what about male and female! Here you are
with your nonsense again."

"Well, never mind about that," added Ts'ui Lü, "But how is it that all
things have Yin and Yang, and that we human beings have no Yin and no

Hsiang-yün then lowered her face. "You low-bred thing!" she exclaimed.
"But it's better for us to proceed on our way, for the more questions
you ask, the nicer they get."

"What's there in this that you can't tell me?" asked Ts'ui Lü, "But I
know all about it, so there's no need for you to keep me on pins and

Hsiang-yün blurted out laughing. "What do you know?" she said.

"That you, Miss, are Yang, and that I'm Yin," answered Ts'ui Lü.

Hsiang-yün produced her handkerchief, and, while screening her mouth
with it, burst out into a loud fit of laughter.

"What I say must be right for you to laugh in this way," Ts'ui Lü

"Perfectly right, perfectly right!" acquiesced Hsiang-yün.

"People say," continued Ts'ui Lü, "that masters are Yang, and that
servant-girls are Yin; don't I even apprehend this primary principle?"

"You apprehend it thoroughly," responded Hsiang-yün laughingly. But
while she was speaking, she espied, under the trellis with the cinnamon
roses, something glistening like gold. "Do you see that? What is it?"
Hsiang-yün asked pointing at it.

Hearing this, Ts'ui Lü hastily went over and picked up the object. While
scrutinising it, she observed with a smile, "Let us find out whether
it's Yin or Yang!"

So saying, she first laid hold of the unicorn, belonging to Shih
Hsiang-yün, and passed it under inspection.

Shih Hsiang-yün longed to be shown what she had picked up, but Ts'ui Lü
would not open her hand.

"It's a precious gem," she smiled. "You mayn't see it, Miss. Where can
it be from? How very strange it is! I've never seen any one in here with
anything of the kind."

"Give it to me and let me look at it," retorted Hsiang-yün.

Ts'ui Lü stretched out her hand with a dash. "Yes, Miss, please look at
it!" she laughed.

Hsiang-yün raised her eyes. She perceived, at a glance, that it was a
golden unicorn, so beautiful and so bright; and so much larger and
handsomer than the one she had on. Hsiang-yün put out her arm and,
taking the gem in the palm of her hand, she fell into a silent reverie
and uttered not a word. She was quite absent-minded when suddenly Pao-yü
appeared in the opposite direction.

"What are you two," he asked smiling, "doing here in the sun? How is it
you don't go and find Hsi Jen?"

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