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July 1st, 2017, 01:55 PM
Chapter 1

However powerful, you cannotpull back the chariot of Time; however powerful, you cannot refusethe visit of Death; however wealthy, you cannot bribe the king ofHades; however wealthy, you cannot buy immortality.
She had beenbeautiful when young. She hated aging. She hated having white hair,but the silver threads stealthily crept onto her head in the duecourse of time. Li Lianying, whenever he saw a gossamer of snow amongher sable silky hair, would bury it under the black ones. If, by anychance, a piece of white hair came off and entwined itself on thecomb, he would hide it in his sleeve. He was the one who did the hairof Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908). He knew what Empress DowagerCixi would feel when she saw some snowy hair on her head. He reallyknew what she liked and what she did not. He was her favorite eunuch.In a short time, he was promoted to be her head eunuch.
Sometimes whenEmpress Dowager Cixi noticed that he put his fingers into his sleeveshe would ask what he was doing. ?ust itching. Scratching a bit, myrespected Old Buddha.Later in her life everyone in the Forbidden Citycalled Empress Dowager Cixi Old Buddha (The word OLD here does notreally mean old in age in Chinese, but instead is a respectedepithet.) and she liked it. He had to please her if he wanted to stayin her favor forever. Everyone wanted to please her. No doubt. Eventhe emperor, though afraid of her, sometimes wanted to please her,too. That is why people wish to seize power and remain in it. As longas possible.
It was a newhairstyle. Li Lianying, now the head eunuch, but still doing herhair, called it ? Butterfly Among Flowers He always invented newhairstyles and gave them fanciful names. And while combing her hair,he would tell jokes, mostly vulgar jokes, which sent Empress DowagerCixi into laughter. He knew a lot of such jokes, which he had heardwhen he had been a small boy. Thanks to his good memory, heremembered all of these vulgar jokes after so many years. Sometimeshe made up some when an occasion arose. Eunuchs all came from poorfamilies, or no families at all. Who wanted to be a eunuch if hecould live otherwise? The cutting of the genital was no fun, not tomention the pain, and a lot of blood. The genitals, once cut, weredried and kept in a jar, which hung from the beam in his bedroom. Itwas the custom to bury the genital with the body when a eunuch died,to make the corpse whole with nothing lacking, although something?not in its original and natural place. But it was the best that couldbe done.
When her hairwas done and breakfast finished, Empress Dowager Cixi changed intoformal attire. She put on heavy headgears. The adorned piece on thetop looked somewhat like a fan with fringes hanging down from the twoends. On her feet were special shoes that looked something likeshort stilts in the shape of a small upside-down flowerpot attachedon the middle of the sole. Then she went to hold court, sittingbehind a pearl screen. Emperor Guangxu, still under age, sat on thehuge throne before the pearl screen. Though he said nothing, he heardeverything. He knew everything. He was a clever boy, ambitious andanxious to do something to make the weakened empire strong andprosperous again.

* * *

July 4th, 2017, 01:29 PM
EmpressDowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu lived in the Forbidden City. TheForbidden City, also called the Purple Forbidden City, was located inthe center of the capital. The Forbidden City was built between 1406and 1420 during Ming Dynasty. It had been the imperial home totwenty-four emperors of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty(1644-1911). The magnificent and awe-inspiring Forbidden City alsoserved as the seat of imperial power during Ming and Qing Dynasties(1368-1911). Fromtheir throne in the Forbidden City, the emperors governed the countryby holding court sessions with their courtiers, secretaries andministers, issuing imperial edicts and initiating militaryexpeditions.
TheForbidden City extends seven hundred and fifty meters from east towest and nine hundred and sixty meters from north to south. The cityof seven hundred twenty thousand square meters is the largest andbest-preserved palatial complex in the world. It is surrounded by amoat, which is fifty-two meters wide and six meters deep, and by awall, which is three kilometers long and ten meters high. There arefour gates with towers above them: Noon Gate in the south, ShenwuGate in the north, Donghua Gate in the east and Xihua Gate in thewest. On the four corners of the city walls stand four turret towers,each with three roofs and seventy-two roof ridges. They aremasterpieces of ancient Chinese architecture.
TheForbidden City is divided into southern and northern parts, theformer serving as the work area of the emperors and the latter astheir living quarters. The main structures are arranged along acentral axis and constructions on both sides of it are symmetrical.The three most imposing structures in the work area of the ForbiddenCity are the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Medium Harmony, andthe Hall of Protective Harmony. The most magnificent of them is theHall of Supreme Harmony. Here the most important ceremonies of thefeudal dynasties were held, including the ascension of the emperorsto the throne, their marriage, and their conferring of titles onofficials. The Hall of Medium Harmony standing behind it was wherethe emperors rested before ceremonies and receiving officials. TheHall of Protective Harmony was where the emperors gave banquets andinterviewed in person successful candidates of imperial exams for theselection of government officials. In the living quarters are nineseparate housing complexes, where the emperors and their familieslived. North of the living quarters is a small imperial garden. TheMind Cultivation Hall in the living quarters was where most Qingemperors lived and handled state affairs. It was also here thatEmpress Dowager Cixi attended to state affairs for as long as 48years. The Forbidden City is a city within a city and was off limitsto the common people.
Thelayout of the palatial complex, whose full name should be the PurpleForbidden City, is patterned after the legendary Heavenly Palace. Inthe ancient Chinese astrology, the heavenly area of Purple ForbiddenEnclosure centering on the North Star was seen to be at the center ofheaven. The palatial complex, regarded as being at the center ofhuman society on earth was therefore named the Purple Forbidden City.
Thenumber nine received special emphasis in the city design. The numberof houses in the Forbidden City is 9,999, and nails on every door arearranged in lines of nine nails. This is because the ancientsregarded nine as the biggest number, which only emperors wereentitled to use. Also, since the numeral has the same sound aseverlasting in the Chinese language, it best reflected the wish ofemperors that their rule would last forever. Names of places in theForbidden City contain such words as benevolence, harmony and peace,which reflect the essence of Confucianism.
Thepredominant color of the Forbidden City is yellow. Nearly all thehouses, for example, have roofs of yellow glazed tiles. According toancient Chinese, the universe was made up of five elements: metal,wood, water, fire and earth, and earth was the most basic of themall. As a result, yellow, the color of earth, was most extensivelyused for the emperors, who were regarded as the supreme rulers of theworld.
Theonly house with a roof of black tiles is Wenyuan Pavilion, serving asthe royal library. This is because the color black represents wateramong the five elements and water can overcome fire, a constantthreat to the collection of books inside.
In1406, Emperor Yongle of Ming Dynasty began building the ForbiddenCity. Historical records show that it took one million laborers andone hundred thousand craftsmen fifteen years to complete the project.The Forbidden City remains more or less the same in appearance andscale despite repeated renovations and expansions by later emperors.All buildings in the Forbidden City are of a wood and brickstructure. A total of 3.1 billion bricks were used for theconstruction of the Forbidden City. A special glue was used to cementbricks and stone slabs. The glue was made from steamed glutinous riceand egg white. Timber came from mountains in the suburbs of FangshanTown as well as from remote Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Tens ofthousands of huge stone slabs were transported to the capital fromafar. The biggest piece, which lies behind the Hall of ProtectiveHarmony, weighs 250 tons. The slab, 16.57 meters long, 3.07 meterswide and 1.7 meters thick, was hauled over a distance of 50kilometers from the suburbs of Fangshan Town to the site by 20,000laborers at a cost of 176,000 taels of silver. The hauling was donein winter on man-made ice and took 28 days.
TheForbidden City is a national treasure in terms of materials used,architectural style, layout and designed connotation. Besides, it isa storehouse of numerous priceless handicraft articles, rare curios,paintings and calligraphic works by famous artists as well asofficial documents and historical records. The Wenhua Hall in theForbidden City stores more than 10 million official documents drawnup over 500 years by central and local governments of the Ming andQing dynasties. They are the largest and most valuable collection ofhistorical records in the country. Wenyuan Pavilion, or the ImperialLibrary, keeps a complete collection of all the books published tillthen like an encyclopedia and a 79,337-volume compendium ofhistorical records and feudal rites compiled over ten years(1772-1781) by the nation's most accomplished scholars.

Guy Faukes
July 4th, 2017, 05:39 PM
I would first make the formatting consistent (spacing, font and layout) and proofread as there are random emoticons and compounded words. Overall, there's a lot of information being passed along our way and I'm not sure I agree with the opening two sentences. They seem sort of repetitive (refusing death, not being able to buy immortality).

July 6th, 2017, 03:22 PM
in my manuscript, everything is ok, but I don't know why some words stick together here. It's not like this in another forum.

July 6th, 2017, 03:24 PM
Chapter 2

EmpressDowager Cixi was born in a government official's family. Her fatherwas appointed a position as a general, though he had never fought anybattles. It was said that when Empress Dowager Cixi was born, therewas the scent of the orchid in the room. So her given name was LanEr(meaning the Child of Orchid). She had two brothers and a youngersister, but she was the favorite child of her parents, the apple oftheir eye. She was beautiful, clever and talented. When she waseleven, her father was transferred to Wuwu, which is a big citysituated near the Yangtze River, and later was transferred again,this time, to Canton, a bigger city facing the sea.
“Youropium is ready, Dad.LanEr called to her father, who stood at thewindow, looking at the front yard where a cock was bullying somehens.
Hewas proud of her. She could load opium for him now. Since China hadbeen defeated in the Opium War in 1840, opium trade became open andmany government officials and officers formed the habit of smokingit. Even Empress Dowager Cixi herself smoked it when she was inpower. Someone had recommended opium to her when she had astomachache. And it was said that when she smoked some opium, herstomachache ceased.
“Hm.”Her father ummed as a reply. In China at that time, parents neversaid THANK YOU to children. It was taken for granted that childrenshould do things for parents. It was their filial duties.
Manyaristocrats of the Mandarin Clan loved to watch operas. So did herfather. And her father often brought her to wherever an opera wasperformed. Therefore, LanEr loved to watch operas, too. When shestayed in power, she watched a lot of operas, specially performed forher in the Forbidden City.
LanErwas sixteen now with an oval face, a straight nose, crescent-shapedeyebrows, almond-shaped eyes that were as clear as crystal,peach-colored cheeks with two dimples when she smiled, ebony-blackhair in a tress, looking so oily and smooth that if flies had haltedon it they would have slid down. Now she sat at the table in thecenter of the room, sipping tea and looking at her father lying onthe bed and smoking opium, and sighing deeply at intervals.
“What'swrong?” LanEr asked. Her father put down the long-stemmed opiumpipe on the lacquer opium tray and looked up from the bed at hisdaughter. ?he situation in Guangxi Province is getting worse. Therebellion, I mean. They are fighting their way eastward and will soonreach here.The daughter agreed, but didn't look worried. Hers was aworriless age.
“Theywill kill us. Everyone of the Mandarin Clan.” Her father could notsuppress the anxiety in his voice. That he was appointed a generalwas because his destiny would have it, not because he was talented asa fighter. He was really no fighter.
“Then,what should we do?”
“Idon't know. Perhaps waiting to be killed.”
“Whynot ask for a sick leave? We can go back to Peking.”
“Goodidea.” Her father said in approbation.

* * *

July 8th, 2017, 02:01 PM
LanEr'sfamily left Canton City in a ship they had rented with the crew onboard. Actually, the word rent is not correct. At that time, suchships, or ferryboats, belonged to a family or an individual. Thefamily or the individual was the sole crew on the ship or theferryboat. The ship they were on belonged to a family, husband andwife with a teenage boy. The husband rowed the ship with the help ofthe teenager. The wife cooked for the passengers who paid the familywho owned the ship. Their relationship was just like lodgers in aninn. Only this was a mobile inn. Their destination was Peking.
Theship had a cabin in the middle of the deck. The cabin was dividedinto two sections with a partition. The larger front section was forthe passengers, the smaller back section for the owner? family,including a cooking space. There were no railings all round theship, which was not too big. The ship had a mast. When the wind wasfavorable, the husband would put up the sails and he only needed tohandle the rudder. A lot of energy saved. Every time they reached avillage or a town, the husband would get on shore for provisions andthe passengers would also step on shore, but for sightseeing.
Everythingwas all right so far along the route till one night when the ship wasat anchor for the night. It was already deep into the night whensome robbers got on board with sharp swords in hand, reflecting themoonlight. Everyone in the cabin woke up in alarm and panic. Theybegged the intruders to spare their lives. The robbers took all thevaluables from the passenger family, but didn't touch anything thatbelonged to the ship owner. It was the unwritten rule among theoutlaws. After these thugs left, no one could go back to sleep. Theship owner's family were hiding in their back cabin while thepassenger family were crying bitterly. How could they pay for theirlodging and food on the ship since they had been robbed of almosteverything. LanEr's father was taken seriously ill after they wereleft alone.
Herfamily had been rich. Rich people generally got their daughtersmarried early lest they should be selected to be the palace maids inthe Forbidden City. Life in the Forbidden City as maids was not sodesirable as imagined by the people who had never been in there. Aslight mistake or offense would bring a severe punishment, or even abeating to death. It all depended on the mood of the emperor or thequeen at the time of the offense. Only the emperor or the queen hadthe right for the infliction of such penalties in the Forbidden City.If her family hadn't undergone the loss of wealth, LanEr would havebeen married already, at such an age.
Whenher father held his position in Canton City, an officer working underhim offended a critique official. A critique official was in such aposition by law that he could criticize anyone, including theemperor. The ancestors of Qing Dynasty had made such a law in hopesthat their descendants, the future emperors, would have some peopleto look over their behavior and urge them to do things good andsuitable as befitting them as emperors.
Theofficer detained the ship the critique official was on board andblackmailed him for three thousand taels of silver. The critiqueofficial was very angry and as soon as he reached the capital, hewrote a critique report to the emperor, who sent someone down southto investigate. The investigation revealed that her father had takenbriberies, which was against law. To make his superiors go easy onhim, he scraped all his means to bribe them. As a result, he wasremoved from his post before he could send in a request for the sickleave. At least, he didn't need to go to jail. He sold some of hisestates and bribed the governor of Anhui Province in the hope that hewould be appointed another position there. But as a Chinese sayinggoes, misfortune never comes alone. The governor died from some kindof disease. So his money was like pebbles thrown in water, withouteven some ripples being seen. Now he was really sick. So he took aship to go back to the capital with his family, where he still had atleast a house and some farms to live on.
Theship got under way at dawn. When the wife served breakfast, LanEr'smother promised her that they would pay her when they arrived inPeking. The old man was a government official, at the least. Atthat time, the fare for a trip on board a ship cost some ten taels ofsilver at most. It was not much money to a government official. Theowner of the ship was not worried about that.

Jay Greenstein
July 8th, 2017, 09:44 PM
You open with an info-dump of backstory, a guaranteed rejection point. Why? Because history lessons inform, but they don't entertain. Remember, the reader doesn't need that information in order to understand the scene you open with. Better to add such information where and when it's needed, as enrichment to necessary lines. There's also the point that the reader will probably have forgotten the information by the time they actually need it.
LanErwas sixteen now with an oval face, a straight nose, crescent-shapedeyebrows, almond-shaped eyes that were as clear as crystal,peach-colored cheeks with two dimples when she smiled, ebony-blackhair in a tress, looking so oily and smooth that if flies had haltedon it they would have slid down. We'd know her age if someone said, "But you're only sixteen. so, better to..." This way it's something she hears and reacts to. Phrased as an info-dump it comes from someone unknown in a voice devoid of all life. And, all the information you give is a fragment of what a reader would need to actually visualize her. Remember, it's truly said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But that's for a still picture, and the image you hold is one that's dynamic, and in constant motion, expressing her feelings. No way in hell can you give the reader that, so why bother? In reality, unless some aspect of her appearance matters to someone she's interacting with, let the reader visualize her as looking like someone they would like. Instead of making them know what she looks like, make them know her as a person, though her behavior and interaction with other people.

You're telling the reader about the situation, just as you would on stage, to an audience. But there you would be performing the piece, and the audience would hear the emotion in your voice. They'd see your expression, movement, and gesture, and be given the emotional part of the piece. But the page reproduces none of that, so the voice telling the story is the one you'll hear if you have your computer read this aloud.

Have your computer do that and you'll hear what a reader gets. One listen and you'll know why this approach can't work. Fiction for the page must be emotion, not fact-based, so transcribing the voice of a storyteller can't work. And since the "voice" of the narrator can't be heard—and so is inherently dispassionate—an entirely different approach is required, one unique to the profession of fiction-writer. Unfortunately, it's not one touched on in our school-days.

Under its guidance fiction begins with story, not history. Under the mandates and restrictions of our medium we provide only those visual items that the protagonist is presently focused on, then the protagonist's evaluation of it's importance and what the best course is to address it. So instead of just learning that she watched her father we would know why, and why she decided to ask him her question. Her reasoning.

The tricks of writing fiction for the page aren't hard to find or learn—though mastering them, like any other field, takes time, study, and practice. But learn them you must, if your goal is to have your reader anxious to learn what happens next. Why? Because unless you make them hold that view they won't be motivated to turn to page two, and onward, And that's our goal.

Some time spent digesting a few books on the skills and tricks of the field would pay huge dividends.

July 13th, 2017, 02:28 PM
this is really a historical novel, not just a history book.

July 13th, 2017, 02:31 PM
Oneday, they arrived at the Town of Qinghe. Their ship anchored at thethird berth along the wharf. The ship at the second berth in frontwas a little bigger than theirs. The passengers on board that shipwere escorting a coffin of an old friend of the mayor of this town tobe back to their homeland. The mayor, by the name of Wu Tang, was ascholar.
Inlate Qing Dynasty, anyone who wanted to serve in the government hadtwo ways to achieve his goal. One was to buy a title and wait for avacancy corresponding to the title. For instance, if someone bought atitle of mayor, he would get a mayoral vacancy. Briberies calleddonations could speed the process. The other was to take part intests held by the government. First was the local test. Whoeverpassed it could participate in the test on the provincial level. After that, the testees who didn't fail the provincial test should goto the capital joining in the final test, which held every threeyears. This test was very strict, because the winners would be madethe government officials. The test system had originally begun inTang Dynasty and had been adopted by all the subsequent dynasties.
Forthis test, several examiners were chosen by the emperor himself fromthe high officials of the central government, with one of them incharge. They would read and score the test papers. There were manyattendants to do all sorts of jobs that needed to be done at the testsite.
Thesite had been built long ago. There were rows of bungalows, whichwere partitioned into booths. Every testee was assigned a booth, thedoor of which was locked. The testee could leave only after hefinished all the test papers. He slept inside the booth, for thetest would take a couple of days. The testee would bring his ownfood in a basket, and also the brush, the ink and the blank paper towrite on. All these things were examined before the testee enteredthe booth to prevent from cheating. If he wanted to go to thetoilet, an attendant would be with him to and back, and locked him inagain.
Thetest consisted of two parts. One was to write an article under agiven title in a certain fixed style, which was literally translatedas Eight-Legged Style A testee, in preparation for this kind oftest, must learn how to begin, how to carry on and how to end thearticle, which should have eight paragraphs, hence the nameEight-Legged. It had strict rules to follow. Anything inconsistentwith the rules would fail the testee. In the second part, a testeemust express his opinions about certain political ideas or about howto handle political affairs. His opinions carried great weight inhis score.
Whenthe examiners were reading and scoring the papers, the names of thetestees on the papers were covered. Ten first best ones werecarefully selected. Once the selection was over, the names wereuncovered. Then the papers were handed in for the emperor to readand decide the order of the winners. But before he made any decision,the emperor would give an additional test, called the imperial exam,to the ten best testees in his palace. The best one (in the opinionof the emperor) would be conferred the title of Zhuangyuan, thesecond best Tanhua, the third Bangyan and the fourth Zhuanlu. Therest were called Jinshi. Next day, the first winner, Zhuangyuan,would go round on horseback through the main streets in the capital,a special honor. In the evening, the emperor would give a banquet toall those who had passed the final test. Generally the first threewould be given jobs in the Forbidden City, close to the emperor,which would provide good opportunities for fast promotion. Otherswould be appointed officials, some working in the central government,some sent away to be mayors of small towns if there were vacancies.

July 20th, 2017, 02:57 PM
Chapter 3

Ascholar should always care for a scholar friend, or his family whenhe was dead. It was required by old Chinese customs and etiquette. Mayor Wu knew that this late friend of his was not rich. Therefore,he sent a servant to give the friend three hundred taels of silver. The servant was told where the late friend's ship was, at the secondberth along the wharf. But before the servant arrived there, thelate friend's ship left and the next ship at the third berth moved upone berth. At fate had it, just as LanEr's family was in great needof money, some unknown mayor sent the former friend three hundredtaels of silver. The servant didn't know who the friend was. Heonly did his job by sending the silver to the ship at the secondberth. LanEr's family didn't know whether the father had had such afriend before. Who cared since they got the money to pay for thingsin urgent need. Right then, they needed a coffin badly because thefather died last night. Also lucky for Mayor Wu, LanEr remembered toask the servant the name of his master. LanEr had a long memory. And Mayor Wu had a bright future.

* * *

Onceback in their old house, they buried the old master's coffin. Now itshould be the duties of the sons to shoulder the life's burden forthe family. But LanEr's two brothers were lame ducks. They justidled away their time in teahouses, carrying cages of their favoritebirds. That was the common life style of the sons of the richfamilies of the Mandarin Clan, but they were not rich anymore. NowLanEr had to take care of the family chores.
Whatcould Empress Dowager Cixi still remember about the life of hergirlhood living with her parents? Almost everything. She had adistant cousin by the name of Ronglu, a few years younger than she. They were playmates. She liked Ronglu better than she did herbrothers and sister. Ronglu was clever and talented, too, while herbrothers were a little dumb and her sister just ordinary both in thelook and in brains. Does it mean that birds of a feather gettogether? Normally so.
?fyou'll be the queen, I'll be your bodyguard.Ronglu often said toLanEr as her family deemed her as someone special since she was bornwith the scent of the orchid. She loved it that way. She would playthe part of the queen and Ronglu the part of bodyguard. He even wentso far as down on his knees before her to make it look real, or feelreal. All these served to rouse in her the ambition for power.

* * *

July 22nd, 2017, 01:55 PM
Atthree year's intervals, the selection of girls for the emperor wouldbegin. It lasted for several months. First, every family of theMandarin Clan would report their unmarried daughters between ages 13and 17 to the Clan Affairs Management. The management would sendsome officials and eunuchs to check out the girls on the list. Thatwas the first stage of the selection. Many names on the long listwould be crossed out. Those still on the list would be sent into theForbidden City for further sifting. Among those selected, some wouldbe sent to the princes. If lucky, they would become the concubinesof the princes. Some of the selected would be the royal waitingmaids in the palaces. Only a handful of luckiest girls would be inthe presence of the emperor.
Mostgirls, however, still longed to be selected and live in the ForbiddenCity, either as royal maids or as royal concubines. Even as a royalmaid, if she took the emperor's fancy and had sex with him, she wouldbecome a royal concubine. But as a royal concubine, if the emperorwas never interested in her, she would always live alone, till deathreleased her from the solitary confinement. Just try luck whenselected. But whether a girl was selected or not depended on theemperor himself or the empress dowager if there was one. The girlcould do nothing to that effect.
Asdestiny had it, LanEr was selected as a royal concubine and sent tolive in the Round-Bright Garden, the Garden of All Gardens, as theforeigners called it. But getting into the palace was only the firststep. If the emperor never looked at her, her fate would bemiserable. Actually the emperor lived in the Forbidden City, not inthe Garden. So LanEr was disappointed. But no worry. The lucky starwas shining over her. The rebels in the southern provinces hadfounded their own regime. It was named The Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom The Qing government armies had been defeated. Reports came in fromthese provinces, bearing bad news. The emperor felt a headachewhenever he read these reports. Therefore, he moved into theRound-bright Garden with the queen, wishing a better environmentwould assuage his headache when he had to read those reports indismay. Now LanEr had the chance. She wanted to approach theemperor, but didn't dare to do so, because there were strict rules ofetiquette everywhere in the palace. One step amiss, regret the wholelife. If she could not go near the emperor, why not let the emperorcome to her? Good idea. She always got good ideas. She was so proudof herself.
EmperorXianfeng (1831-1861 and succeeded to the throne in 1850) came outfrom the queen's chamber. The queen was from Nugulu family. Herfather was one of the prime ministers. (There was more than one primeministers in Qing Dynasty, because the decision was made by theemperor himself, not by a prime minister.) The queen was kind,benevolent and demure. She never showed her teeth even when grinning.Okay. She never grinned, only smiled. That's what demureness requiredfrom a lady.
Theemperor sauntered in the royal garden towards his study. Suddenly heheard someone singing from behind a cluster of trees. The voice wasso sweet that it magnetized him to it, like the song of the sirens.No resistance offered on his part. Indeed, the emperor never thoughtof resisting it. He was willing to be drawn to it, to so sweet avoice, a female voice. He was a man. How can a man resist a woman?Besides, he could conclude, from the sweet voice, that she must be abeautiful young girl. Never did an ugly woman have such a sweetvoice. Is there any woman like that? Ugly but with a sweet voice? Hehad best explore it and find the answer for himself.
Behindthe grove there was a pavilion, in which a girl sat leaning on therailing. From the attire, he knew she was a royal concubine, but anew one he had never set his eyes on before.
LanErsat in the pavilion, singing her heart out. A bait she threw out. Shehad studied the location. It lay near the everyday route the emperorwould take when he went to the queen? chamber from his study and thenback. Now she saw the emperor coming. The fish to her hook. Thebiggest fish she could get.
Shegot on her knees to welcome the emperor, who helped her on her feet.The emperor looked attentively at the new concubine. Beautiful.Really beautiful. The most beautiful among all his concubines. Thequeen was not so beautiful. But an emperor chose a queen for herdemureness and decency of behavior, not for her beauty, but chose aconcubine for her beauty. The emperor couldn't take his eyes awayfrom the oval face, the straight nose, crescent-shaped eyebrows,almond-shaped eyes, clear as crystal, peach-colored cheeks with twodimples when smiling, ebony-black hair in a tress, a pretty contrastto her fair skin. She was dressed in a red brocade gown of theMandarin style. The emperor touched her hand, jade-white, with rednails. He felt his heart beating wildly against his rib cage like hewere having a palpitation. The emperor was only in his earlytwenties. His hormones rushed up.
Sothat night the emperor slept with LanEr. She became known later asRoyal Concubine Yan, the emperor's favorite concubine. Before long,Concubine Yan got pregnant. The queen didn? have any children of herown and Concubine Yan was the only one pregnant among all theconcubines at the time. So she got special treatment. Andehai (knownlater as Little An), the emperor's favorite eunuch, was sent to waiton her and then became her favorite eunuch. Andehai was a youngeunuch with a handsome face and fair complexion. And the mostimportant thing was that he knew how to flatter and to please. If hewere to open a school to teach the skills of flattering, he wouldhave had a lot of students.
EmperorXianfeng was expecting a son, an heir and a successor. If ConcubineYan gave birth to a girl, her side of the scales would tip up andlose the favorite balance, and also her importance in the eye of theemperor. And also her ambition. But as fate would have it, she bore ason to the great expectation of the emperor. Now her side of thescales sank. Her position in the palace was unshakable. Even thequeen sometimes would yield to her wishes.

July 25th, 2017, 02:03 PM
Chapter 4

EmperorXianfeng had such a strong desire for sex that he couldn't spend asingle night sleeping without a woman beside him in bed. The emperorhad nineteen concubines. According to the palace records about theprocedures for the emperor's sex life, the emperor never went to thechamber of any concubines. Every night before the emperor went tobed, a eunuch brought in a tray on which lay many small rectangularwooden pieces with the names of all the concubines inscribed on them.The eunuch held the tray high above his head on his knees before theemperor. If the emperor decided on someone, he would turn upsidedown the wooden piece with the name on it. Then the eunuch went tothe chamber of the concubine the emperor had chosen. The concubinewas stripped naked. Two other eunuchs put a blanket around her andcarried her on their shoulders to the emperor's bedroom. The eunuchslaid down the concubine at the foot of the emperor's bed and takingthe blanket off of the concubine, they left the emperor's bedroom. The nude concubine crawled to the pillows and lay down beside theemperor. In the morning, the two eunuchs came back to wrap theconcubine in the blanket and carried her back to her own chamber. The date and the name of the concubine were recorded so that if theconcubine got pregnant, they could count the days to make sure thechild was the emperor's flesh and blood, not someone else's. Sincehe was so fond of Royal Concubine Yan, he sent for her into hisbedroom almost every night, even when she was with child. They werehappy together in bed. Sometimes the emperor slept so late that hemissed holding his court.
Hiscourtiers came early and waited in the resting room, but the emperornever showed up to meet them to hear their reports or havediscussions about all the national affairs. The written instructionsset up and handed down by the ancestors wouldn't allow suchnegligence of state affairs. But the courtiers could do nothingabout it. They were not permitted to go to the emperor's chamber torouse him. The queen could, nevertheless. When she learned it fromthe eunuchs, (eunuchs were all gossips.) she sent her head eunuch tothe chamber the emperor was sleeping in. The head eunuch carried onhis head the book, in which the instructions of the ancestors hadbeen written. He knelt before the chamber door and began to recitethe instructions aloud. When the emperor heard it, he must get downfrom the bed and listen to the recitation on his knees. If theemperor was still sound asleep and didn't hear it, his head eunuchwould go to wake him up. Of course, the emperor would be annoyed,but he couldn't ignore the instructions of his ancestors. He had todress up and go to meet his courtiers. This happened too oftenlately, to the queen's liking. So one day, the queen went thereherself with the book on her head. The emperor's head eunuch saw thequeen coming and went immediately into the chamber to report to theemperor, who jumped out of bed and had barely time to put on hisshoes. He opened the door and found himself face to face with thequeen. He said hastily, ?nough, enough. I'll go now.So the queenwaited at the door till the emperor left for his court session.
Thenthe queen ordered Royal Concubine Yan to follow her to KunningPalace. (The whole Forbidden City was the emperor's residence, insidewhich there were many buildings. Each building was called a palacein Chinese.) Kunning Palace was a place where the queen held hercourt generally when she wanted to punish someone. The queen was thesecond in power in the Forbidden City.
"Youshouldn't let the emperor sleep so late and neglect the stateaffairs. Do you know it's your fault?" The queen accused ConcubineYan.
Inthe Forbidden City, if anyone was accused of anything by his or hersuperiors, no matter it's his or her fault or not, he or she mustsay, 'It's my fault." And then he or she must beg to be punished. Ifthe punishment was inflicted, when it was over, he or she must thankhis or her superiors for being punished. Likewise, if anyone was tobe executed by the order of the emperor or the queen, he or she mustthank the emperor or the queen for the execution. That's feudalChina. Ridiculous?

July 27th, 2017, 03:16 PM
SoRoyal Concubine Yan said accordingly, “Yes, it's my fault.” Butshe pleaded, “I can't refuse to be carried to the emperor'schamber.” (Implied, that is no use to be jealous? “I can't tellthe emperor what to do if he wants to sleep late.” (Implied, don'tblame me.)”
Thequeen flared up and ordered her eunuchs to beat Concubine Yan. Twoeunuchs held her down on the floor. A third eunuch fetched a woodenstick. Just as the stick was being brought down, a voice, panting,shouted, “Stop!” The emperor came to her rescue.
Whenthe emperor was holding the meeting with his courtiers, one of hiseunuchs came running to whisper to the emperor that the queen tookConcubine Yan to Kunning Palace. The emperor knew at once what wouldhappen. He adjourned the meeting till tomorrow and hurried toKunning Palace, just in time to prevent the beating.
“Oh,my dear queen,” said the emperor sweetly, “Though Queen have theright to beat her, Queen can't beat her today.(In Qing Dynasty,Emperor and Queen were used to address the emperor and the queen. OrEmpress Dowager was used to address an empress dowager.)

“Whynot?” The queen looked dubious.
“BecauseConcubine Yan is pregnant.” The emperor acquainted the queen withthe surprising happy news.
Theemperor had no son yet. If an emperor had no heir, it was deemed asa sin to his ancestors. So pregnancy in the palace was verysignificant in the eye of the queen. Concubine Yan was spared andsent back to her own chamber.
“SinceConcubine Yan is pregnant, Emperor should let her have more rest. Emperor should no longer sleep with her till her child is born. Thequeen warned the emperor. (The superiors could use pronouns and namesto address or mention the subordinates.)

* * *

July 29th, 2017, 01:34 PM
Sushunand Duanhua were brothers. Since Duanhua was the elder one, heinherited the title of Prince Zheng when their father died. But theyounger brother was a man of ability and determination. Thebrothers, especially the younger one, had won the emperor's favor byoffering things to the emperor's liking. They often suggested to theemperor how to have fun and even provided him with every possiblediversion and pastime. The most desired fun to the emperor was sex.
Theyounger brother, Sushun, knew that the emperor could no longer sleepin Concubine Yan's chamber at present. Therefore, he found some verybeautiful women, who belonged to Han Clan (The ruling class of QingDynasty was Mandarin Clan.) and stole them into the Round-BrightGarden, where the emperor lived most of the year while he should livein the Forbidden City. The Round-Bright Garden was located outsidethe capital, Peking. The garden had hills and lakes, trees andflowers that covered almost every inch of the ground with footpathszigzagging among them. Even in the winter, the snowy scene was alsobeautiful. All the buildings, the pavilions and the arbors, wereimitated from the architecture of the famous structures all over thecountry. The emperor liked to live in the Round-Bright Garden, notjust because of its beautiful scenery, but mostly because when he wasin the Forbidden City, he must do almost everything in accordancewith certain etiquette set up by his ancestors, but when he dwelt inthe Garden, there were not so many rules required to observe. Lifewas a bit easier there for him.
Buthis ancestors had set up a rule that women with small deformed feetwere inhibited to enter any of the emperor's residences. Women ofHan Clan had such feet. So the emperor broke the rule to acceptthem. Among these Han Clan women, one was a widow, some were whoresfrom brothels. All were beauties. One of the whores was originallythe mistress of a courtier, who, when aware of it, sent in a reportof advice, saying that the emperor should not keep Han Clan women inthe Garden. The emperor wrote a sentence on the report and gave itback to the courtier. It said, “You are jealous.” Among all thewomen of Han Clan, there were four beauties the emperor liked best.He named them Apricot Spring, Peach Spring, Peony Spring andCrabapple Spring (Crabapple here means Chinese flowering crabapple.) They were called Four Springs by the maids and eunuchs in the Garden.

August 1st, 2017, 01:38 PM
Aftergiving birth to a son, Concubine Yan expected the emperor's visiteveryday, but for a long time the emperor seemed forgetting her. Atlength she came to the knowledge that the emperor kept a lot of HanClan women in the Garden. But she could do nothing about it. Only thequeen could produce the book containing the ancestral instructions. She must seek alliance in the queen. So she went to pay her respectto the queen. She knelt before the queen and kowtowed. The queenbade her to stand up after the ritual.
“Queen.”She began, “Does Queen know why the emperor looks thinner day byday?”
“Noidea.” Replied the queen. “What have you heard?”
“Theemperor has many Han Clan women hidden somewhere in the Garden.”
“That'sagainst the rule.”
“So. That's why I must report to Queen. Queen must interfere. I'm notjealous. I'm only concerned with the emperor's health.”
Therefore,the queen decided to search the garden. Early one morning, many maidsand eunuchs followed the queen into the Round-Bright Garden.Concubine Yan accompanied the queen there. They searched everybuilding, every corner in the buildings, but couldn? find any of theHan Clan women supposed to be there. They had been there before, butwhen the emperor got the wind that the queen would search the garden,he ordered them to be removed to some secret place.
Itwas said that the emperor liked to have fun outside the ForbiddenCity. He went out in plain clothes. Once he stole out of theForbidden City, strolling in the streets, followed by a eunuch andsome bodyguards, also in plain clothes. He looked this way and that,at all the interesting things he had never seen before. Someone waskneading a few colored doughs. Then picking pieces of dough off fromhere and there, he made a female figure out of them. The hair, theface with a mouth, a nose, eyes and ears, colored clothes, the handsand shoes. Nothing missing. Then he made another, a male figure. The figures were taken after the characters from well-known operas. Looking so vivid. Just wonderful. So the emperor told the eunuch tobuy both and bring them back to his palace. He had them displayed onhis desk. But after a while when the dough dried, there appearedsome cracks on the figures. And the last place the figures ended upin was among the garbage.
Anothertime when the emperor was sauntering along a narrow street, he saw ayoung beautiful woman standing at the door of a dye shop. She wasthe owner's wife. When he made for the door, the woman stepped asideto let him in. He walked in like he was a customer and talked to thewoman since the husband was in the back of the shop. He said to thewoman that he could make her husband rich if she was willing to behis concubine. The woman was at a loss what to say to such animproper proposal. Just then, the husband came out. The emperorleft with his attendants. Next day a stranger came into the shop. His servants carried in two boxes. A big heavy box they left on thefloor and a small one they put on the table. The man announced thatthe emperor wanted his wife. If he refused, he must drink thepoisonous wine in the cup in the small box. If he agreed, he couldkeep this big box full of gold. Besides, the emperor would make hima government official. He must choose between the two. He had tochoose the latter, even if he loved his wife. The wife was taken andsent to live with the women of Han Clan. Sushun had done anotherfavor to the emperor.

August 3rd, 2017, 03:04 PM
Chapter 5

Unfortunatelyfor Emperor Xianfeng, in the second year of his reign, 1851, a greatrebellion broke out in the south of China on a large scale, in areligious cloak. But before that, there had been other rebellions ina religious cloak, too. These rebellions had lasted very long. There were two main rebellious organizations. First was the WhiteLotus Taoists, which had originated in the Yuan Dynasty to fightagainst the Mongolian Clan, who had galloped down south from Mongoliain the far north and after occupying China, had established the YuanDynasty. When the Mongolian Clan had been driven back after theirreign of a little less than a hundred years, the White Lotus Taoistshad been dormant, because the next dynasty, Ming Dynasty, had beenfounded by the same Han Clan. Sometimes, they had killed somecorrupted officials. When the Mandarin Clan had set up their QingDynasty, the White Lotus Taoists had risen up to arms again like anawakened lion or a phoenix rising from the ashes. Especially from1793 to 1802, they had combated against the Mandarin Clan in fiveprovinces in Midwest China. The other main rebellious organizationwas Heaven & Earth Society, first organized in 1786 in Taiwan. After 1793, they had set foot on the mainland. Their branches hadscattered over many provinces, but battled separately, never united.

* * *

Sinceearly in Qing Dynasty, many clergymen and priests had come to Chinato save the souls of the Chinese people. They had left theirfootprints everywhere, even in the remote villages. Using thewestern religious theory as their basic creeds, the largest andlongest rebellious organization was born in 1851. It was calledGod-Worshipper Society. There had been quite a few rebellions sincethe Mandarin Clan had crossed the Great Wall and conquered the HanClan. These were really political organizations in a religiouscloak. So was the God-Worshipper Society.
Theleader of the God-Worshipper Society was then a young man, Hong byname, born on January 10, 1813, in Guangdong Province. His father wasa peasant, tilling the fields to grow vegetables and raisingpoultries. Hong had two older brothers, who helped their father withthe sowing and reaping work. At that time cows were used to ploughthe ground. They had two cows. Though the family was not rich, they had enough to live on. So the father sent his youngest son, Hong,to a local tutor for education, pinning the hope on the son that someday he would pass the government tests and become an official. Butkarma arranged for him to take another road in his life. He failedall the tests. In 1836 after his last test failed, he met withsomeone in the streets of Canton City, who was distributing somebooks. Hong was given a copy, but he kept it at home and never readit. The failure in the tests made him so downhearted that he decidedhe would no longer take the tests. He became a tutor giving classesto children in his village.

August 5th, 2017, 03:06 PM
Oneday in May of 1843, he found time heavy on hands. As he wanted toget some book to read for pastime, he came across the copy longforgotten. It was a gospel book written by a Chinese Christian. Thebook charmed him so much after he finished it that he wanted to tellpeople things in the book. So he quit tutoring and startedpreaching. He no more believed in Buddha. He no more believed inConfucius, whom almost all the scholars worshipped. He believed inGod now and created the God-Worshipper Society. He left home foranother province, Guangxi Province (west to Guangdong Province he wasborn in), and turned over a new leaf in his life. He preached invillages after villages there, sowing his seeds. His believersincreased rapidly. He set up his headquarters in Jintian Village,which was like a gunpowder barrel that only needed a match.
In1850, there were droughts in Guangxi Province. Food was scarce. Thefood merchants raised the prices. People who were starving began toattack the rich people's residences for food. The rich peopleorganized their own guards to resist. The God-Worshipper Society hadits believers in many places all over the province. The believersconsisted of all kinds of people, from rich residents to poor tramps,from charcoal burners to peasants. In 1851, a match was applied tothe gunpowder barrel. A small town police officer, who had been sentto arrest a thief, came across the charcoal burners in the woods nearJintian Village on his way back. He was a corrupted officer andoften racketeered people for money. This time he asked for moneyfrom the charcoal burners, who made charcoals from the tree branchesand lived from hand to mouth. Of course, they refused his demand. As the charcoal burners greatly outnumbered his policemen, he had toleave empty-handed, but he threatened to come back with morepolicemen to arrest them as rebels. The charcoal burners were afraidand gathered in a rich believer's yard for a discussion what to do. Meantime, the police officer happened to meet another rich believerand took his concubine away from him as a vengeance on the believers. Now the gunpowder was ignited. All the believers came to JintianVillage and the leader Hong declared that God was Heavenly Father andJesus Christ was Heavenly Brother and that he was Heavenly Son sentdown by Heavenly Father to save the world. Then he organized them.They called themselves the Peaceful Army, because their purpose wasto bring peace to this world. The uprising took place on January 11,1851.
Theemperor received the report about the riot seven days later. He sentgovernment armies to quench the rebellion. The Peaceful Army marchedeastbound. They defeated the armies of Qing government and took overquite a few towns, but they didn't stay there long. They continuedthe eastward advance till they came to YongAn City. The word YongAnmeans long safety It's a good name for a city. So they founded akingdom there, called Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom. Hong made himselfthe Heavenly King and gave titles to his chief followers, who werealso leaders of troops. There were so many kings in this kingdom:East King, North King, West King, South King, Shrewdness King,Swallow King, Protection King, Assistant King and Wing King, whoshould be like the wings of a bird to make it fly up.

August 8th, 2017, 01:59 PM
Theyput up slogans so that people could know what was their goal. Theirslogans were: If there's land, plough together; if there's food, eattogether; if there're clothes, use together; if there's money, spendtogether. And absolute equality everywhere. Enough food and clothesfor everyone. These slogans fascinated and attracted a vast number ofpoor people, and hence swelled the Peaceful Army.
Theirsublime aim was to overthrow Qing Dynasty and drive the Mandarin Clanout beyond the Great Wall, back to where they had come from. Anorder stated that anyone in the Peaceful Army, if coming inpossession of anything, must hand in to the Heavenly Treasury andeveryone could get a share from it when needed. Therefore, unlikethe armies of Qing government, the Peaceful Army had good disciplineand was supported by the people. Many young beggars and vagabondsjoined it. Another edict was given that people of the Han Clanshould grow their hair on the front part of their pate and restorethe hairstyle of Han Clan. The male hair style of the Mandarin Clanwas to shave the front part of the pate clean and braid the back partof the hair into a pigtail. When the Mandarin Clan had built uptheir Qing Dynasty, they had ordered all the male people of the HanClan to wear their hair in the same style. Whoever had refused wouldhave been beheaded. Their slogan was: hair or head. (It meant thatif you wanted your hair, you could not keep your head on yourshoulders.) So when the Peaceful Army grew their hair, Qinggovernment called them Long-Hair.
Whilethe Peaceful Army was celebrating their victory and newly-foundedregime, Qing government gathered large troops and encircled YongAnCity. In March, 1852, the Peaceful Army concentrated its forces andwedged out from the enclosure of the government army. The governmentarmy pursued, but was put to rout. The Peaceful Army headed forGuilin City, the capital of Guangxi Province. They surrounded theCity for a month, but could not take it. So they quit and marchednorthbound.
Theemperor sent three detachments to attack the Peaceful Army, but werealso beaten. Then the government troops gathered in Wuchang City forthe purpose to prevent the Peaceful Army from going further north. The emperor issued an order to allow cities, towns and even villagesto organize and train their own people for self-protection.
OnDecember 7, 1852, the Peaceful Army split itself into two sections. One section went on land and the other by water. They obtainedplenty of ships from the government army. Their goal was the Wu-Hanarea, which included Wuchang City, Hanyang City and Hankou City. TheThree Cities were the important military strategic area on the upperYangtze River. Within ten days the Peaceful Army occupied the threecities one after another. The Heavenly King and all his other kingsstayed in Wuchang City to celebrate and recruit while the emperorordered his army commanders to set up defense lines in HunanProvince, Hubei Province and Anhui Province to blockade the advanceof the Peaceful Army towards Nanking City.

August 10th, 2017, 01:59 PM
OnFebruary 9, 1853, after the Chinese New Year, the Peaceful Army leftWuchang City, dividing itself again into two sections. They went onland alongside and by water on the Yangtze River. They aimed atNanking City. They took over many cities and towns along the way,like Jiujiang City, Anqing City, which was a very important spot inthe military point of view, and Wuwu City. On March 18, the PeacefulArmy entered Nanking City. They changed the name to Tianking City.(Tianking means the Heavenly Capital.)
ThePeaceful Army established new law and order in the City. It was verysimple: those who killed others would be executed. No robbery ortheft happened because the excessive things must go to the warehousesof the Heavenly Treasury. Every twenty-five families formed a socialunit. A unit leader was elected. A strong male adult was chosen fromevery family to form the basic military unit. The twenty-fivefamilies worked together and lived together. There was a treasurywarehouse in every unit. Everything they got was stored there andeverything necessary for the living was supplied from there. It wassaid that the foreign governments sent their representatives to havea look in Nanking City, surprised at all these. They thought it wasa revolutionary army and hereby kept strictly neutral between the tworegimes.
Whenthe message reached the Forbidden City, the emperor lost his appetitein anxiety. He appointed new commanders to organize two detachments. One set up their camp in the area of Purple Golden Mountain not farfrom Nanking City on the southern side of the Yangtze River. It wascalled the South River Camp. The other camped in Yangzhou City onthe northern side of the Yangtze River, hence called the North RiverCamp.

August 12th, 2017, 01:27 PM
Chapter 6

Thehistorians have discussed why the Qing government armies were soeasily defeated and their conclusions are: (1) The military system ofQing Dynasty was that the army controlled by the central governmentwas called Eight-Flag Army and those belonged to the local governmentwere named Green-Camp Army. The Eight-Flag Army could no longerfight after long time of peace (almost two hundred years) and lack oftraining and practice. The old fighters had long been dead. The newgeneration of soldiers all came from rich or well-to-do families. They joined the Army as an honor since there was no occasion forfighting at that time. There really were days fixed for training,but most of them just hired some poor young men to be drilled intheir names for roll-calling. No one knew who's who by face. Now thetime came for the combat, but they didn't know how to fight. As forthe Green-Camp Army, their sole duty was to defend the city or townthey belonged to against small groups of outlaws. They had noexperience in big-time fight on the battlefield, like forming aphalanx, and no training whatever for that matter. (2) Everycommander wanted to be independent and fought separately. Theycouldn't unite as a strategic whole. Especially so was theGreen-Camp Army. They were accustomed to the way that once theychased the rebels out of their jurisdiction, their duties wereperformed. The fleeing rebels were the problem of anotherjurisdiction. (3) There were conflicts of ideas and interestsbetween officials and officers of the Mandarin Clan and those of theHan Clan. The latter looked down upon the former and wouldn't obeythe former. The commanders were all from the Mandarin Clan and allwere no good. (4) In Qing Dynasty, officials were above officers instatus and ranks, but they didn't know how to fight. So officersoften disobeyed them. Quite a few officials just ran away in theface of the enemies. (5) The government officers and soldiers oftendid nasty things to common people like extorting, and so theycouldn't get universal support. When the Peaceful Army assaultedNanking City, there were only five thousand government soldiers todefend it. This was a big city with the circumference of forty-eightkilometers and more than fifteen thousand battlements. Every soldiershould safeguard three battlements. No wonder the Peaceful Armyentered the city like back into their own home.
Afterthe Heavenly King settled in Nanking City as his capital, he issuedtwo orders. His Heavenly General and Earthly General (their positionequivalent to that of a commander) would march twenty thousand strongnorthbound, detouring Yangzhou City where the government army camped. His Spring General would start from Pukou Town northward. Theinstruction given to them was to advance towards Peking to overthrowQing Dynasty. They fought their easy way through Anhui Province andmet resistance in Hunan Province. But they penetrated the defenseline of the government army and approached Kaifeng City, the capitalof Hunan Province. They assailed the city, but couldn't breakthrough. So they went in a roundabout way and ferried across theYellow River at Yixin Town. They enclosed Huaiqing Town andconquered the government army there, headed by the governor of ZhidiProvince (It's Hebei Province now on the map). They hoofed towardsBaoding City, close to Peking.

August 16th, 2017, 04:16 PM
Theemperor was chocked by the message. He scraped up all his forces onhand, including the regiment of his bodyguards, one hundred and fiftythousand in all. By that time, the detachments of the Peaceful Armyhad reached Tianjin City. The mayor had a section of the dike dugopen. The water from the Grand Canal deluged the area and blockedthe advance of the Peaceful Army. It was winter already. Thesoldiers of the Peaceful Army were all from the south of China, wherethe climate is warm. They could not stand the cold of the north andhad to beat a retreat. They were assaulted by the government army intheir way to withdraw. The Qing government used Mongolian cavalry toattack the Peaceful Army. Four hooves were much quicker than twofeet. Spring General of the Peaceful Army was killed in the battle. Heavenly General was surrounded, waiting for rescue. The HeavenlyKing did send reinforcement twice, but the reinforcement didn't reachHeavenly General because it was blocked by the government army. TheMongolian cavalry that was encircling Heavenly General broke a partof the dike of a nearby river. The flood soaked the provisions andgunpowder of the Peaceful Army. As a result, Heavenly General wascaptured and executed. Earthly General escaped with two thousandsoldiers, but was ambushed, captured and executed, too. The goal toseize Peking failed, because forty thousand of the Peaceful Armycould not fight against one hundred and fifth thousand of thegovernment army. It was in 1855.
However,warfare went on at both sides of the Yangtze River. In April, 1856,Swallow King of the Peaceful Army vanquished the North River Camp ofthe government army. Then in July of the same year, Swallow King andWing King together beat the South River Camp. The Peaceful Army hadthe control of the entire area of the Yangtze River. Therevolutionary cause reached its summit.
EmperorXianfeng ordered some of his courtiers to organize new troops in thesouthern provinces. One of the courtiers was Zeng Kuofan of the HanClan. Zeng was born in 1811 in a landlord family. He passed all thegovernment tests in 1838 and was promoted to be the Right DeputyMinister of Etiquette Ministry. When Emperor Xianfeng succeeded tothe throne, he got another title of the Left Deputy Minister ofJudicial Ministry.
Zengexercised the self-education of his own character. He believed inpatience, perseverance, honesty and hidden wisdom (to show you arenot clever, or even stupid). These were his principles in all thethings he undertook. There were different ways to organize troops. The way Qing government adopted was that everyone at the right agecould join the troops, and the officers were appointed by thegovernment. The officers and soldiers didn't even know each other. There were no other ties between them. Zeng followed another way. He appointed those he knew well as his officers and let his officersrecruit their own soldiers, mostly from the same village or from thesame neighborhood. They were familiar with each other and cared foreach other. The ties between them were not mere militarydisciplines. So the morale was different. Furthermore, most of hisofficers were literate, some even learned, while many officers in thegovernment army were illiterate; some even couldn't write his ownname, or know his own name if when shown to him. The high-rankgovernment officers if illiterate, had secretaries to do the writingjob for them when needed.

August 18th, 2017, 03:49 PM
Zengnamed his army Xiang Army. (Xiang is the substitute word for HunanProvince just like N. Y. for New York State. This was invented fortelegram purpose. One word that stands for a province can save moneywhen sending a telegram.) In 1853 when Xiang Army was just born, itwiped out a group of outlaws like testing the sharpness of the edgeof a new sword. Then it beat a division of the Peaceful Army. Atthat time, two detachments of the Peaceful Army had been fighting inthe area of the Yellow River, trying to reach Peking. Some otherdetachments went back westward and took Anqing City and Wuchang Cityagain. They met with Xiang Army in the district between the XiangRiver and the Puyang Lake and defeated the young and inexperiencedXiang Army there. As Zeng gathered his beaten troops, he reorganizedand trained them, both on land and on the Yangtze River. After that,Xiang Army marched eastward and conquered the detachments of thePeaceful Army and took back Wuchang City once more. Wuchang City waslike a ball being played in the field, sometimes falling into thehands of the Peaceful Army and sometimes gotten by the governmentarmy. But the detachments that had been defeated were not the mainforces of the Peaceful Army. Now Xiang Army advanced furthereastward, both on land and by water, and suddenly faced the Wing Kingof the Peaceful Army at Jiujiang City. Troops headed by Wing Kingwere one of the main forces of the Peaceful Army and so Xiang Armywas subdued again. Wing King proceeded towards the upper YangtzeRiver and occupied Wuchang City once again. Now the Peaceful Armycontrolled a vast area of the Yangtze River, from Wuchang City in thewest to Nanking City in the east, like the sun clambering at thezenith. It was 1856.
Thefatal turning point of the Peaceful Army from victory to failure wasthe inside murdering of each other. It happened in that same year. When the Peaceful Army had just been formed, Heavenly King had madeEast King take charge of everything like his prime minister. Later,South King and West King had been killed in the battles. When theyhad settled in Nanking City as the capital, except for Heavenly King,there were only three powerful kings left: East King, North King andWing King. Other kings were not so powerful. East King was veryconceited and often bullied other kings. He had even no properdecorum for Heavenly King, who began to suspect that East King mightusurp his position as the head king. Other kings, especially NorthKing, harbored a grudge against East King, who didn't even know. When they had been fighting the government army, they had known thesignificance of unity and solidarity. But when they had won the dayover the North River Camp of the government army, the victory hadturned their heads. Heavenly King and North King commenced to plotagainst East King, who never had thought that such lethal dangercould have come to him.

August 21st, 2017, 01:21 PM
Oneday, Heavenly King and North King sent their faithful men to assailthe residence of East King, who didn't have enough bodyguards todefend himself and was slain. Then the massacre began. His family,his
Relativesand his faithful followers were sought after and all put to death. It was said that the number of the people butchered amountedestimably to twenty thousand. All that time, Wing King was in AnqingCity. When
Helearned the bloody incident, he hurried back to the capital to blameNorth King for the slaughter. North King flared up in rage andschemed to assassinate Wing King, who got the wind of it and escapedunder the cover of night back to Anqing City. North King had thefamily of Wing King murdered. When back to Anqing City, Wing Kinggathered his troops. He had a great deal of supporters among thePeaceful Army because he was always trustworthy and nice to people. When Heavenly King got the message that Wing King would bring histroops to the capital, he panicked and executed North King. Then hehad the severed head of North King sent to Wing King to pacify him. When Wing King arrived in the capital, many other kings suggestedthat Wing King should take charge of everything like East King haddone before. But Heavenly King feared that Wing King would become athreat to him some day and so he made his two brothers kings to helphim. His eldest brother was made Safety King and his second brotherFortune King. The two kings often interfered with whatever Wing Kingwas carrying out. This made Wing King uneasy. Being afraid to losehis life senselessly like East King and North King, Wing King had toleave the capital with his own troops to go westward for his ownindependent development. From then on, he didn't keep in contactwith Heavenly King anymore. He didn? want to have anything to dowith Heavenly King.
Fourkings were dead and one king was forced to leave. This greatlyweakened the Peaceful Army. The government army seized theopportunity to counterattack. Xiang Army occupied Wuchang Cityfinally. Another government army took Hanyang City. A detachment ofXiang Army had Jiujiang City in control. Therefore, the banners ofthe Peaceful Army were no longer perceived in Hunan Province andJiangxi Province. Wing King fought his way from Zhejiang Provincethrough Jiangxi Province and Fujian Province, then across Hunanprovince, back to Guangxi Province, where he had taken up arms inrevolt five years before. Qing government reorganized their NorthRiver Camp and South River Camp, which approached Nanking City again.
Withfive kings gone, two of the other kings became powerful. One wasShrewdness King, who was in Anqing City and the other was LoyaltyKing, who stayed in the capital to defend it.

Jack of all trades
August 21st, 2017, 06:29 PM
A couple of things.

There's spacing issues that make it difficult to read. I saw that someone else pointed out the problem and you responded that it doesn't happen in a different forums. That may be, but since it's happening here, not many are willing to try and read this. So you're not getting much feedback.

Second, this section is visible to guests, meaning posting here counts as published. I'm surprised no one warned you before this.

What I read has potential. I confess that the spacing problem was annoying enough for me to quit early.

August 23rd, 2017, 01:52 PM
Sorry, but I can't control this problem. In my manuscript, from which I post, every word space is OK. I don't know why some words stick here as appear on the forum. This book is already published. it can be got on amazom.com

August 23rd, 2017, 01:54 PM
Withfive kings gone, two of the other kings became powerful. One wasShrewdness King, who was in Anqing City and the other was LoyaltyKing, who stayed in the capital to defend it.
InSpring of 1857, in the provinces between the Yellow River and theYangtze River, there arose another rebellion, which was known as theNian Army, one hundred thousand strong. They often allied with thePeaceful Army. Qing government had to divide its forces to combatboth the Nian Army and the Peaceful Army simultaneously. The NianArmy also called the leaders kings. Every king led a detachment, butthey did not have a head king. They fought separately, never unifiedas a whole, though they assumed the same name. They never set up acapital. They went here and there, never stayed at one place long. The leader of the largest detachment was called Fertility King witheighty thousand fighters. In 1858, he took control of Fengyang townand aimed at Peking. In September of 1858, the Peaceful Army led bySwallow King and Loyalty King subjugated North River Camp again atPukou Town, and then annihilated a detachment of Xiang Army of sixthousand soldiers in Anhui Province. A brother of Zeng was killed inthe action. No more threat to Nanking City from the north. ThenAction King and Loyalty King of the Peaceful Army worked out astratagem. Loyalty King marched toward Hangzhou City, the capital ofZhejiang Province, feigning an attack to it. This area was veryimportant to the government army because they got all the provisionsfrom there. So the South River Camp maneuvered eastward to defendthe city. A tiger, once out of its lair, was vulnerable. NowLoyalty King turned around to meet the advancing South River Camp ofthe government army while Shrewdness King, Action King, Service King,Assistant King and five generals attacked the rear and flanks ofSouth River Camp, which couldn't resist the blow of ten fists andwere scattered on May 5, 1860, and its commander committed suicide. Besides Jiangsu Province (Nanking City is its capital), the PeacefulArmy possessed Zhejiang Province and Fujian Province, though theylost all the provinces west to Anqing City, which had been attackedsince spring of 1860 by Xiang Army under the command of anotherbrother of Zeng (Younger Zeng to distinguish from Elder Zeng).
Whenthe shocked reports of the defeats of the two Camps lay on theemperor's desk, he was too downhearted to even have a meeting withhis courtiers. He had been ambitious when he had succeeded to thethrone many years before. He had wanted to restore his empire to itsformer glory and prosperity. But contrary to his fond hopes andwishes, the whole situation turned from bad to worse. He felt tootired and depressed to prod the leaning empire, nodding to fall. Hegave up his hope and ambition. He didn't want to read any more ofsuch sad reports. He would play the ostrich, burying his head in thesands. So he started to indulge himself in sex and merry-making.

August 25th, 2017, 01:27 PM
InQing Dynasty, a royal maid serving in the Forbidden City would eitherbe released to her parents' home or be married to anyone theemperor's whim took to when she reached the age of twenty-five unlessshe had become the emperor's concubine before that age. So almostevery year, the emperor would select some new ones to replace thosereleased. This took place even in the heat of the warfare betweenthe rebels and the government. Girls from thirteen to seventeen ofage must be reported to the Clan Affairs Management, which would dothe sifting among girls on the list. After that, only a small groupof most suitable girls were qualified to be presented before theemperor, who would choose from them himself. That day, many urgentreports from the war districts appeared before the emperor, demandinghis immediate attention. He must read them at once and discuss withthe courtiers about the military situations there and about how toinstruct his commanders to maneuver their troops. He was back to hispalace later than usual.
Allthe time, the girls were standing in the receiving room of theemperor, waiting for him. They were not permitted to sit down. Justimagine: if you were as young and standing for hours, how would youfeel? Hungry. Exhausted. Irritated, maybe. Dare not complain. Wishing you were dead then and there. One of the girls was boldenough to complain aloud, ?t's the war time. Emperor still selectsmaids.The eunuch in charge panicked because if the emperor heard ofit, not only the girl would be executed, but he would also bepunished. He bellowed at her, ?hut up. You'll be beaten if youcomplain again. He was told that the emperor would soon come. Hedidn't want the girl to cause trouble for him, and for her, too. Butthe girl continued as if she hadn't been interrupted, ?'m not afraidof death, let alone beating.The eunuch was really piqued. He raisedhis right hand, intending to slap her face.
Theemperor just entered the room in time to save her skin. All thegirls kowtowed to the emperor and were bidden to stand up. Now, theemperor said to the girl, ?ou can say what you have to say. I won'ttake offense.The girl went on, ?mperor must know there's war insouthern provinces and people died hundreds by hundreds everyday. There's flood south of the Yellow River. So many people lost homeand everything. In this critical time, Emperor should spend hisprecious time and energy on these important matters, not on theselection of maids.Cold sweat wetted the clothes of everyone else inthis room. They thought the emperor would have her beheaded once shefinished, but to everybody's astonishment, the emperor didn't showany wrath. He only ordered that the girls be sent back to theirrespective homes. It was because the emperor heard a huge-roomful offlattering words everyday and was bored with them. Now such a younggirl could tell him the cruel truth to his face. He was surprisedand fascinated. So he pardoned her.

August 25th, 2017, 01:33 PM
"Edit" and "Save" doesn't work.

August 28th, 2017, 01:43 PM
Chapter 7

Despitethat it was already over the hunting season, Emperor Xianfengdeclared that he would go to the Summer Palace in Rehe. Emperors inQing Dynasty went there in hunting season, (generally from May toSeptember) really for the purpose of training their armies. But thistime Emperor Xianfeng used it as a pretext, because the joint armiesof the foreign invaders had occupied Tianjin City in July, 1860, andwould soon reach the capital, Peking. It was called The Second OpiumWar in the history of China.
Somecourtiers tried to dissuade the emperor from flight, but in vain. OnSeptember 21, the combined foreign troops were very close to thecapital. The emperor could hear the sound of cannons in theForbidden City. On September 22, in the late morning, the emperorleft Peking with his family, followed by a few courtiers and twothousand bodyguards.
TheAutumn scenes along the escaping route, the yellow leaves on thetrees and on the ground, the chilly winds blowing, the melancholycaws of the crow, all added up to the sorrow of the emperor having toflee from his warm luxury Forbidden City. He felt he was a sinner tohis ancestors.
Nowthe royal family was in the Summer Palace: the emperor, the queen,Concubine Yan and her son, and Concubine Li and her daughter. Otherconcubines didn't have time to follow the emperor. When they came tolearn the tidings that the emperor had fled, it was too late for themto catch up with him. The emperor left his brother Prince Yixin inPeking to negotiate with the foreigners, who entered the Round-BrightGarden on October 6, to pillage and then set fire to it. (The burnedruins can still be seen even when the author is writing this book.)
Theemperor was sick and weary of dealing with all the troubles. Hetrusted the state affairs to his favorite courtier, the youngerbrother Sushun, even though he was not a secretary of state then. Emperors of Qing Dynasty had established a secretarial bureau andappointed five or sometimes six courtiers as secretaries of state,with one as the head secretary. The bureau handled all the stateaffairs, and the military affairs as well, working under the emperor. The prime ministers were no longer in charge of the nationalaffairs. But they still had some indefinite duties to perform.
Therewere six ministries. Every ministry had two ministers, one from theMandarin Clan and the other from the Han Clan. And it had fourdeputy ministers. One Right Deputy Minister and one Left DeputyMinister were appointed from the Mandarin Clan and the other RightDeputy Minister and the other Left Deputy Minister were chosen fromthe Han Clan, to balance the racial problem.

August 30th, 2017, 02:38 PM
PersonnelMinistry took care of the appointments and the removals of all theofficials and officers in the central and local governments all overthe country and of their promotions and demotions based on theirself-evaluations and criticisms from others. For that matter, acritique official could throw a lot of weight around and a critiquereport on any officials or officers would count. So there were goodcritique officials and there were bad critique officials. Corruptofficials and officers were afraid of good ones since they wouldn'ttake money or even gifts, but all officials and officers dreaded badones, who would hint a bribery, or a critique report would appear onthe emperor's desk, based on mere rumors and gossips. And it wasallowed by law. If no critique came in for an official or officer,it meant that he was good. If instead there were praises, it wouldbe better. Therefore, some mayors, though corrupt, forced the peoplein his district to give him something as an evidence of praise whenhe left his office, such as an umbrella with as many signatures on itas possible. It was called People of Petition Umbrella which denotedthat people there wanted him to remain in office, the highest form ofpraise for a mayor.
InternalRevenue Ministry kept the records of population statistics, and basedon them, made decisions how many taxes the local governments shouldcollect and a certain percentage of the local tax collections shouldbe sent to the central government. It also determined the specialtax collections like salt tax. There was a lot of salt smugglinggoing on to avoid paying salt tax. An officer was thereby placed inthe area that yielded salt. He headed an army to force the taxcollection. This ministry also controlled the expenditure of thecentral government since it had the control of the national financialaffairs. The local governments had their departments for thatpurpose. This ministry often had the most difficult time among allthe ministries. If there was a war, it must provide the financialsupport for armies to get provisions and arms. If the emperor neededmore money for his personal use, it was the responsibility of thisministry to gratify him. If the emperor was dissatisfied with theperformance of their duties, the minister would be removed fromoffice or even put into prison and a new one appointed. But it alsoserved the minister and his subordinates as Ali Baba's cave. Theywere buried in treasure and could embezzle the hoard bit by bit. Ifthey were discreet enough, no one could notice it.
EtiquetteMinistry was a poor but respected ministry, which would make rules ofrituals for certain occasions in reference to the rules used by theprevious dynasties and act as master of ceremony where needed. Anynew rules must be discussed among the high-rank officials and thenapproved by the emperor. The job was easy. Only no extra money camein. People would bribe the Personnel Minister for a better position. But for what purpose would they bribe the Etiquette Minister?

September 1st, 2017, 01:48 PM
MilitaryMinistry took charge of all the war business. It would make all thenecessary preparations for a war, including to suggest who could bethe generals for armies, what were the best strategies to use, whichshould be discussed among all the high-rank officials and officersand then be approved by the emperor. Since war was a life and deathbusiness and the empire was staked on it, the emperor made the finaldecisions for everything concerning the war. This ministry would bein joint efforts with the Internal Revenue Ministry to supply thearmies with equipment and provisions. In the peaceful time, it wouldlook over how the local garrison troops worked and would trainrecruits to replace those not fit any more to fight.
JudicialMinistry made all kinds of laws, which would be discussed among allthe high-rank officials and then be approved by the emperor. Itwould interpret laws and try cases concerning government officialsand officers. If common people wanted to bring in a lawsuit againstan official to the Judicial Ministry, he or she must go through afatal procedure to prove that he or she had nowhere else to go forjustice. A piece of wood was put before the gate of the ministrybuilding with the sharp ends of the nails upward on it. He or shemust throw himself and herself on it. If he or she was not deadafter that, the judicial minister would accept the lawsuit. Butoften, he or she would wear enough thick clothes to do that, even insummer time. This was allowed. The ministry didn't accept lawsuitsof common people against other common people.
Theduties of Construction Ministry were to build new structures and fixold ones that belonged to the central government within the capital. Although its power was limited, it had extra money to be embezzled. The approved budget for the building was always much higher than thereal cost. It's the same everywhere, the same anytime through thehistory, and will remain the same till the remotest future. Thegovernment is always like a gigantic cake and everyone around itthinks that he has a right to bite a morsel from it. The greedy oneswill have two morsels or more.

September 4th, 2017, 01:39 PM
Besidesthese six ministries, there were some departments in the centralgovernment. The Critique Department had the responsibilities towatch that no officials and officers did anything wrong and againstlaws. If they came to know or hear of such wrong doings, they couldsend in critique reports to the emperor. They were even assigned theright to criticize the emperor himself if he did something againstetiquette rules or laws. The positions in that department could notbe bought. Only those who had passed the final test in the capitalwere entitled to such appointments. Since all the officials in thatdepartment were deemed scholars, they wrote their critique reports ingreat endeavors for the beautiful wording that sometimes the wordinggave the emperor a deep impression even if he didn't agree to theopinions. The impression would inevitably imprint the name of thewriter on the mind of the emperor and later when the emperor neededsomebody to fill a certain position, the name would pop up first. Besides that advantage, those who could write better-worded reportswere more esteemed among the scholars and had hereby more influence.So those so-called scholars would not condescend to mingle with theofficials who had bought their titles, which created ill feelingsamong the latter.
Therewas a Supreme Court, which would try all cases that came its way. The head judge was lower in rank than the ministers and the headcritique official. If there was a specially important case, liketreason of a high official or officer, it should be tried by thethree heads: the judicial minister, the head critique official andthe head judge in the supreme court building. The huge courtroom hada big long table put in the center near the back wall. The judge satbehind it on a chair. If three heads were present in a special case,three chairs were put behind the long table. Sometimes three smallertables were placed there instead of a big long one. Some tortureequipments were displayed along both sidewalls and the prison policestood in two rows on either side before the long table. When aprisoner was being brought in, a threatening sound was issued inunison from the policemen standing straight there: huuuuuuuuuuweiiiiiiiiii----till the prisoner was on his knees before the longtable. Then the trial began. Usually the prisoner would claim hisinnocence, but sometimes he really didn't commit the alleged crime.But in either case, since the judge couldn't be sure that theprisoner was innocent or guilty, he invariably ordered the tortureequipment used. The first torture for a man was the beating on hisbare butts with a thick wooden stick. How many beatings he would getdepended on the mood of the judge or the seriousness of the offense. Generally thirty to a hundred. Often the prisoner would bleed on thebutts. But the first torment for a woman was slaps on the face witha leather piece shaped like a hand. If the judge was not satisfiedwith the prisoner's confession, if any, a second torment would beadministered. For a man, it was two long pieces of wood with ropeson both ends. The prisoner's forelegs were put between the twowooden pieces. When the ropes were tightened on both ends, therewould be sharp pain on the shins, which could even be broken whenreally pressed hard. For a woman, it was ten short wooden stickswith ropes connected, looking like toy fences. The woman's eightfingers were put in, each between two sticks. Then the ropes weretightened. The pain on the fingers for a woman was also unbearable.Under such tortures, even the innocent would repeat whatever thejudge wanted him or her to confess. If the prisoner was a high-rankofficial or officer, the judge was prohibited to use tortures and hemust produce evidence. Even if the judge made the verdict, it shouldbe approved by the emperor, who could change any verdict, even deathsentence, as a special favor.
Sincemany foreign countries established their legations in Peking, theQing government had to have set up a new department to deal withforeign governments. On January 13, 1861, Prince Yixin sent in areport from Peking to the Summer Palace, requesting the setup of theForeign Affairs Yamen. On January 20, the emperor approved it. Itshead was always a prince. And now Prince Yixin was the head.

September 6th, 2017, 01:37 PM
Chapter 8

Sincethe Secretarial Bureau was set up, many decisions had been made bythe secretaries instead of the prime ministers and ministers, whoformed the Cabinet, and all the orders or statements must be issuedthrough the Cabinet. The Secretarial Bureau acted only as theemperor? private consulting office and it was not part of the centralgovernment. The emperor gave power to the Secretarial Bureau, not tothe Cabinet. But a secretary could be simultaneously a primeminister, a minister or even one ranking lower in the officialposition than a minister. Now only four secretaries followed theemperor to the Summer Palace.
Butthe emperor still needed to read all the reports sent in by thecourtiers in Peking or the governors in all the provinces,twenty-three in all at that time. He must make decisions and gavewritten orders when required. As his health deteriorated due totuberculosis, he coughed blood and easily got tired. He letConcubine Yan read the reports for him, and for minor things even lether make the decisions. Concubine Yan was a woman of talent andambition, aspiring after power. This supplied her with an excellentopportunity to get familiar with the procedures how to handle thestate affairs a useful practice to prepare her for her politicalcareer later.
Theancestors of Qing Dynasty had had instructions written to forbidwomen to interfere in politics. But Emperor Xianfeng had developed aheadache whenever he had to read those sad reports. He had to havesomeone to help him read them and Concubine Yan seemed to be the mostsuitable person to do it at the time. When he felt a little better,he would sit up on the bed with stack of pillows behind his back andhead, watching Concubine Yan reading. In that peaceful moment, hewould munch some pieces of fruit cut for him by Concubine Li. If notfor his bad health, if not for the rebellion in the southernprovinces, if not for the foreigners who had driven him out of hispalace in the capital, he would enjoy life better, with one beautytaking over his tedious daily task of reading the reports and withanother beauty serving his food. After a while the emperor began tonotice that Concubine Yan showed great interest and zeal in politicalaffairs. She sometimes even suggested some solutions, which might begood, but was not appropriate from a woman. He became aware that shewas not a mediocre woman like the queen. He suspected that she mightseize power after his death as an empress dowager, because her sonwould succeed to the throne. (The rule in Qing Dynasty was that whenthe son became the emperor, the natural mother must be the empressdowager, no matter who she was or what status she was in.) At firsthe wanted to execute her for the safety of the empire, but he thoughtof his son, who was only six then. Such a small child should have amother to look after him. Besides, he knew by then that the youngerbrother Sushun was also a man of ambition and might do something evilto his son when he died. He himself could control Sushun, but hisson was too young to stand up against him if Sushun wanted to usurpthe throne. He would let Concubine Yan contend with him and defendtheir son. Only he should think of a way to restrain Concubine Yan. And he got one now. He was really pleased with himself for coming upwith such a good strategy.

September 8th, 2017, 01:21 PM
Exceptfor the emperor, the younger brother became the most powerful man inthe empire, even before the Second Opium War, because the emperoralways listened to him, and what the emperor did was really what hewanted to do. He wanted to establish his authority, wanted othercourtiers to be afraid of him. By what? By killing.
Sushunhanded in a report, saying that Qinying must be executed immediately. In 1856, the joint foreign armies occupied the Bay of Dagukou andcommenced to attack Tianjin City. The emperor sent Qinying tonegotiate with the foreigners. But he came back to the capitalwithout fulfilling the task, not even asking for the emperor'sapproval to return. The emperor was really angry. Prince Yixin, hisbrother, proposed to hang Qinying next autumn. (Qing Dynasty oftenexecuted prisoners in autumn.) But Sushun insisted that Qinyingshould be executed at once to set an example for other courtiers sothat no one dared to do such things later. So the emperor commandedQinying to die by his own hand. (Generally by hanging or drinkingpoison, which was deemed better than being beheaded publicly.)
Nextwas another courtier, Paijun, who had offended Sushun before. In1858, Paijun was appointed the chief examiner in charge of thegovernment exam. Since Tang Dynasty, every subsequent dynasty hadheld government exams to select future officials. This was a veryimportant event. It happened that an actor passed the exam, rankingthe seventh place. The regulations then inhibited actors to takesuch exams, because they were considered among the lowest caste insocial status. The emperor got furious and ordered Sushun toinvestigate. Now he got a chance to revenge. The result of theinvestigation revealed that many officials handling this examinationhad accepted briberies, though no evidence showed that Paijun did it. But the actor got his wish through a servant to his concubine, whopersuaded Paijun to let the actor pass the exam. Therefore, Paijunwas guilty of breaking the rules. Everyone of the officials gotcertain punishment according to the degree of his offense. Paijun,as the head examiner, was executed at the insistence of Sushun. Manysuch things occurred. So Sushun made a lot of enemies.

September 11th, 2017, 01:18 PM
Thesons of the emperor were habitually called Brother. If the emperorhad quite a few sons, they would be called by seniority as FirstBrother, Second Brother, etc. If one of them was made the successorto the throne, he would be called Big Brother. It didn't matter ifhe was the oldest one or not. Now Emperor Xianfeng had only one son. The son would definitely be the successor. So he was called BigBrother. Six years old was the right age to start learning. If theemperor had more than one son, all the sons would form a class tostudy. But as now Big Brother had no brothers, he himself was thesole pupil in the class. It was very significant to choose suitabletutors for the future emperor, particularly to choose the head tutor,who would greatly influence the young son. He must be a greatscholar with a known great character, and no blemishes whatsoever onit. Generally the head tutor was selected from among Zhuangyuans,the winners of all the former tests. At length, the emperor decidedon Li Hongzao, who met all the requirements. When the emperorreceived Li Hongzao, he assigned him with the honorable task. Afterhe left, the emperor wanted to give him some gifts as the traditiondemanded. The emperor took up a brush and spread out a piece ofpaper. As he was about to write down the items, Sushun, standing atthe emperor's side at that time, dictated, two scrolls of silk, tenbrushes, . . . as if he were the emperor and the emperor were hissecretary. When the emperor finished writing, Sushun took the listand went to get the things for Head Tutor Li. But as they were nowin the Summer Palace, there were not many courtiers who could bechosen as proper tutors. So for now the boy had only one tutor. When he got back in the Forbidden City, he would have more tutorswith Tutor Li as the head tutor.
Thenthe emperor sent for his son and told him to study hard and some suchthings. The boy of six just nodded and blinked. It seemed as if hisfather's instructions were quite beyond his head. When the boy wentto see the queen, she told him simply, ?on't be naughty. Respect andlisten to your tutor.The boy replied, ?kay.Early next morning, theeunuch, Zhang Wenliang, who was assigned to look after the boy, wokehim up and dressed him formally. He took the boy first to see theemperor, then to see the queen, to let them see if everything aboutthe boy was all right. (Everyone, including the emperor and thequeen, went to bed early and rose early by habit.) Then Jingshou, theemperor's brother-in-law, came and took the boy by hand to the study,followed by the eunuch Zhang.
Whenthey arrived, Tutor Li was already there, standing before the door ofthe study. As they got in, first, Tutor Li kowtowed to the boy, thefuture emperor. Then Jingshou told the boy to kowtow to the tutor.(It's the traditional ritual.) But Tutor Li refused to accept it,saying, ? prince can't kowtow to a courtier. (The emperor's son wasof course a prince by birth.) At that, Jingshou told the boy to makea bow instead. So the boy bowed to Tutor Li and Tutor Li acceptedit. There were two desks in the room, one for the boy and the otherfor the tutor. Jingshou sat on a chair at one side of the room andseveral assistant tutors stood in a row at the other side.

September 13th, 2017, 03:02 PM
Bothtaking the seat, Tutor Li said to the boy, ? made a schedule for you. If you finish it early, you can leave early. Is that all right toyou?The boy said, ?kay.Tutor Li said, ?ood. You must come early inthe morning, beginning with learning how to use a bow and arrows,then for some Mandarin language. Finally we'll read a book andpractice writing Chinese characters.He turned to the assistanttutors, ?ow take him to learn what you'll teach him.”
Theassistant tutors were from the Mandarin Clan. They would teach theboy the archery and the Mandarin language. Though the Mandarin Clanwas in a ruling position, they found that if they wanted to rule thebig country, the large population of the Han Clan, efficiently, theymust learn the Han language?he Chinese language, which was the basiclesson for the children of the Mandarin Clan. The emperor'sbrother-in-law was in charge of the boy's education as a whole andwould watch over every step of the progress. So he went with the boyto see how he would practice the bow and arrows, both of which wereparticularly made for his small size. After the archery lesson, theycame back into the study. Today the brother-in-law wanted to teachthe boy the Mandarin language himself. Then Tutor Li took over andbegan the main course. In the old time, they always taught a book byConfucius. They didn;t even care whether the pupils understood ornot. They just made the pupils read the text, learn it by heart andrecite it next time when they came. They simply thought that thepupils would understand when they grew up.
Thebooks, either hand-copied or printed, were difficult to read, becausethere were no punctuation. The pupils didn't know where to stop for asentence. The tutor must read to them first to show them where tostop. Then he let the pupils read the texts themselves. It got to bea while to mark the full stops of the sentences. So at first thelearning process was slow. On the first day, Tutor Li only taughtthe boy how to read a couple of sentences and how to write a coupleof Chinese characters with a brush. The handling of a brush was alsonot easy. A pupil must sit straight and hold the brush upright at adistance of a foot and a half right before his nose. He must copythe examples on the tablets written by famous ancient calligraphers. If he aimed to be an excellent calligrapher, he must practice thebrush moves with a small cup with water in it put between the thumband the forefinger of the hand holding the brush. When he moved thebrush, the water in the small cup was not allowed to spill. Itsounded like an acrobatic. But the son of the emperor was justtaught the basic skills, given that he wouldn't be a calligrapher.

September 15th, 2017, 01:52 PM
Chapter 9

SinceConcubine Yan had such a strong desire for power, she must find someallies. At first she sent someone to approach Sushun, but he alwaysdespised women. Her sheep's eyes cast to him were ignored. Concubine Yan was greatly disappointed in and even infuriated withhim. He got himself a terrible foe without knowing it.
Thenshe approached Prince Yixin, the emperor's brother, who was moretalented than the emperor. The emperor often feared that his brotherwould some day usurp his throne. It was all because of Yixin'smother, a royal concubine of the late emperor. The present Emperorwas Xianfeng's father. Emperor Xianfeng's mother, the queen, haddied not long after his birth. So the late emperor had given him tothe care of Yixin's mother. The two children, two years apart, hadstudied together, played together and grown up together. Therelationship between them had been closer than that among othersiblings. Emperor Xianfeng was the fourth son of the late emperor andYixin was the sixth. Among the royal family members, he was calledOld Six, but his younger brothers called him Sixth Brother. When theold emperor had died, Emperor Xianfeng had succeeded to the throne. Since Yixin's mother was not the queen, she had been called RoyalConcubine Dowager. For several times, Yixin had asked the emperor toconfer to his mother the title of the empress dowager, but theemperor had declined, saying that it was against the etiquette rules,though such rules had always been changed throughout history. WhenYixin's mother had been seriously sick, the emperor often went tovisit her. On her death bed, in her last moments when the emperorwent to see her again, she had mistaken him for her own son Yixin. She said, ?ake care of yourself when I'm gone. The throne shouldhave been yours.Hearing those words, the emperor was not happy andfrom then on he started to estrange Yixin, afraid that his brotherwould some day usurp his throne. So he always prevented his brotherfrom getting into any power. Being talented, though usurpation nevercame across his mind, Yixin wished to use his talents to serve theempire, to perform some great deeds. He didn't want to live like agood-for-nothing.
Nowas the empire was facing the danger of further invasion, Yixin was atlast appointed in charge of the negotiation with the foreigninvaders. After a lot of bargaining, a treaty was signed. Then theinvading armies withdrew from the capital. Yixin sent in a report tothe emperor, requesting that the emperor return to Peking since peacewas restored. But the emperor found an excuse for himself: he wastoo sick to travel in the cold weather. There was at least sometruth in it.

September 21st, 2017, 04:57 PM
Theonly person Sushun feared was Yixin. He had a finger in theemperor's alienation of his brother. He knew that if the emperor hadtrusted in Yixin, he wouldn? have had the power as he had now. So arumor had started to spread that Yixin wanted to usurp the throne. Even another brother of Emperor Xianfeng, the fifth son of the lateemperor, believed in it and had mentioned it to Emperor Xianfeng. Soevery time when Yixin asked to come to the Summer Palace for a visit,the emperor declined, saying that it was more important for Yixin tostay in the capital.
Nowas the rumor about the emperor's health went around, everyone had totake into serious consideration his interests, his future, and hisfate. For the officialdom was a dangerous place. The ups and downs,life and death, were determined in just a few moments. Yixin had twofaithful followers, like his two hands. Wenqiang was a secretary ofstate, the only secretary who didn't follow the emperor to the SummerPalace. He wanted to stay in the capital to assist Yixin to dealwith the foreign aggressors. Baojun was the other person, who wasthe head of the Royal Family Affairs Management. But the emperordidn't like him for two things. First, as he was the head of theRoyal Family Affairs Management in charge of the imperial residences,he should have sent in a report of self-criticism and asked forpunishment when the Round-Bright Garden had been burnt, but he hadjust handed in a report of statement about the conflagration, nothingelse. It was because the emperor had already ordered him to give upthe keys to The Round-Bright Garden to another head of the RoyalFamily Affairs Management. Therefore, he hadn't begged forpunishment as he had thought that it was no longer in hisresponsibility. However, the emperor had given him a demotion. Buta while later he had been restored to his former position as Yixinhad mentioned to the emperor that he had done something to deserve areward. A reward could offset a punishment. So he got back to thesquare he had been in. He was so intimate with Yixin that he couldeven joke with him. The second reason the emperor disliked him wasthat as soon as the emperor reached the Summer Palace, he had orderedBaojun to send over two hundred thousand taels of silver for therepair of the Summer Palace, but somehow he hadn't sent the money, orhe hadn't had any money on hand at all. Sushun disliked him, too, ashe was Yixin's follower.

September 23rd, 2017, 01:16 PM
Inthe Secretarial Bureau, there were clerical officials to help thesecretaries with their clerical work, like drafting an order for theemperor, a report to the emperor, a reply to any official or officerwho had sent in a report and required a reply, or copying anemperor's order in a formal writing style, then getting it dispatchedto anywhere it should go. They couldn't make any decisions, but theyhad all the inside information. So they were the popular ones in thewhole officialdom. The clerical officials were divided into twoshifts, because if emergency arose, clerical assistance would beneeded even in the midnight. Zao Yueying was the head clericalofficial in the daytime shift. He was secretly a follower of Yixin. So Yixin knew everything that happened in the Summer Palace.
Wenqiangwas a man of talent and patience. Based on the information sent byZao, the head clerical official, he made up a strategy for Yixin.Yixin shouldn't do anything obvious yet to rouse the suspicion ofSushun, but he could make any necessary preparations on the sly. Themost important thing in the politics, in the power fight, was thesupport of armies. Sushun had the command of two thousand emperor'sbodyguards in the Summer Palace. Yixin should get some commanders ofarmies on his side. The ideal candidate was Commander Shengbao. Whenthe joint foreign troops had advanced toward Peking, CommanderShengbao had been assigned the task to defend the capital. He hadfought a battle against the foreign troops, but had been defeated. Accordingly to the martial law, he would have been severely punished,but as the emperor had already escaped to the Summer Palace and Yixinhad been put in charge of all the things in the capital, CommanderShengbao had got away with only a slap on his wrist under Yixin'sprotection. So he was grateful to Yixin for it. Besides, he hatedSushun for his arrogance and hauteur. Now in Yixin's name, Wenqianghad a letter written to him with a hint of the emperor? healthproblem and Sushun's avarice for absolute power. The letter servedas a red rag to a bull. But Commander Shengbao was ascholar-commander and had brains, though he had also a quick temper.A scholar-commander was originally a scholar, and was later appointeda commander of armies. Commander Shengbao was proud of himself thathe could write beautifully and could fight, too.

September 25th, 2017, 01:31 PM
Chapter 10

Whatthe emperor mostly did in the Summer Palace was to watch performancesof Peking Operas, which, when in the Forbidden City, he could do onlyon certain occasions like for celebration of birthdays or festivals.
Therewere three stages in the Summer Palace. The frequently-used one wasclose to the living quarters of the emperor. The emperor liked tohave many people accompanying him when he was watching the operas. The queen didn't like some of the operas, especially the one with ayoung nun stealing out of the nunnery and a young monk climbing overthe wall of the temple. They met at the foot of the mountain andflirted with each other. The queen thought it was against the moralconceptions, but the emperor loved it because it was really fun whenthe two actors performed the flirting actions in a ridiculous way.(At that time there were no actresses yet. Female parts were actedby actors in female costumes.) At that, the queen kept whispering toherself, ?t's sinful. It's sinful. Pardon us, Buddha. Pardon us,Buddha.”
Butshe had her favorite opera, which was acted by young boys about theage of ten. When the performance finished, the chief actor wasbrought to the queen? presence. The actor kowtowed to the queen, whopatted his head and gave him two taels of gold out of her own purse.
ConcubineYan loved another opera with the owner of an inn and a sick lodger. Since the man lodged in the inn, he had fallen sick and spent all hismoney on medicine and rent and food. Though he was recovered now, hecould not leave the inn without paying the owner for what he owed tohim. The owner said all sorts of nasty things about him and to him. He had to swallow the bitter fruit of humiliation. At long last hehad to pawn his weapon and sell his horse. He had been on his way tojoin the army. She thought that Sushun was very much like the innowner in behavior, always nasty to people.
Theemperor was happy these days, because the military reports said thatall the rebellious troops were surrounded and the final victory wouldsoon be due. Besides, it would soon be his birthday. To please theemperor, Sushun was preparing a celebration in the Summer Palace. The celebration would last for three days with the birthday arrangedon the second day. The day before the birthday was to warm thecelebration so that the next day could get really hot. And the thirdday was to get things to cool down a little so that everything wouldbe normal again after the three days' celebration. If it weren't forthe rebellion in the southern provinces and the foreign invasion, thecelebration might last for ten days.

September 29th, 2017, 09:05 PM
Onthe day before the birthday, only the royal family watched the operasin the daytime and a feast was given in the evening for all toattend, the royal family as well as the courtiers. On the birthday,the emperor got up early. After he had breakfast and was dressed infull, he went to the building where the portraits of his ancestorswere hung on the wall opposite the double doors and he kowtowed tothe portraits. Then he made his way to another building to receivehis male family members and the courtiers. On this formal occasionthe emperor went everywhere in a procession. Before the emperorwalked two files of bodyguards side by side, carrying yellow flagseach with a curved dragon embroidered on them and long-handledweird-shaped weapons reflecting the sunshine, the symbols of power. The emperor sat on a big wide sedan-chair with a yellow canopy overhis head to shut out the sun. The sedan-chair was carried by eighteunuchs. After the emperor walked two files of eunuchs carrying allkinds of things the emperor might use, such as clothes to change,towels, teacups, etc. More bodyguards brought up the rear.
Whenthe emperor reached the building, his family and all the courtierswere already there. They were all dressed in full, wearing the bluegowns with pictures of different birds embroidered on the front andthe back of the gowns. The different birds showed different ranks. A rosary of beads was hanging down from the neck, almost reaching theknees. The beads were made from different materials for differentranks, the size between a pigeon's egg and a hen's egg. The hatswere decorated on the top with a bead of the same material and thesame size. Quite a few courtiers received from the emperor apeacock? tail feather as an honor and ornament, which was stuck inthe hole of the bead on their hats.
Allwent down on their knees when they heard the emperor? processioncoming and prostrated there till the emperor entered the building. Then they followed in. When the emperor settled on his throne, theyarranged themselves in an array according to their different ranks,the highest in the front, and kowtowed nine times while shouting inunison, ?ong live the emperor, long live the emperor, long live theemperor!Music was accompanying during the whole ritual. It wasalmost noon when the ceremony ended. The feast then began with allthe dainties available, like the bear? paws, the shark? fins, theswallow's nests and sea cucumbers, etc.
Afterthe banquet the operas began, which lasted late into the night. Before they left, they were each given a gift. But the emperordidn't stay long with them. He had gone to the back palace, to hisqueen and concubines with whom the emperor had his feast dinner andwatched operas on another stage. The evening operas were different,especially the first one which had no scenario. All characters,imaginable from legends, myths, folk songs and fairy tales, got onthe stage, dressed in due costumes. All the actors sang the samewords in a chorus to praise the emperor. The accompanying music wasloud with gongs and drums. When the opera ended and music stopped,everyone felt the ears were still ringing and the silence was deep inbetween.

October 5th, 2017, 12:46 PM
Duringthe three feasting days, ignoring the advice of the doctors, theemperor ate too much and got too tired so that on the evening of thelast day the emperor felt really sick while watching an opera, whichthrew everyone in panic. After rest and treatment, he felt a littlebetter. Then came the queen's birthday. The emperor remembered thatin 1856, on August 12, it had been the queen's twentieth birthday. By Chinese tradition, every ten-year's birthday is more important andshould be celebrated on a larger scale. A grand banquet had been heldfor it. They both had had a time of their lives. But now as theemperor was sick, the queen didn't want to celebrate her birthday,but the emperor insisted. Therefore, the queen agreed to have it onlyfor one day. On that day, when the celebration began, the queenkowtowed to the emperor for making her the queen. Then the queen satthere and all the concubines came to kowtow to the queen and then allthe eunuchs and maids followed suit. All the relatives and courtierskowtowed outside the queen's chamber. Operas were performed and afeast was given. They ate while watching the operas. Since it wasthe queen? birthday, the emperor let the queen decide what operas shewanted to watch. All the operas the queen chose were those of moralinstructions or of the good being rewarded and the bad beingpunished. The queen was always deemed as a lady saint in theForbidden City.

October 7th, 2017, 01:31 PM
Thesickness of the emperor became serious. He coughed blood more often. Although Concubine Yan helped him to read the daily reports, hestill needed someone else to wait on him, to console him. He sent forConcubine Li. But when Concubine Yan learned it, she was jealous. She could do nothing and say nothing, but the queen could, shethought. How could she talk the queen into interfering with it? Sheshould adopt some kind of ruse, whatever kind of ruse that she shouldtake pains to think of.
Nextday, after a sleepless night with her brain-cudgeling, she went tothe queen? chamber. After the ritual of kowtowing on her kneesbefore the queen, she began, “Does Queen know. . .” She trailedoff for emphasis.
“Whatshould I know?” The queen was curious. That's the effect of anincomplete sentence.
Theemperor coughs blood again. She raised her handkerchief to her eyes,making some sort of a sound like sobbing. “I always think that theemperor should have more rest. But how can he when Concubine Li iswith him day and night? It hinted that the emperor had sex withConcubine Li, which was not good to the health of the emperor.”
Thequeen was concerned, too. “Leave that to me.” She solacedConcubine Yan. After Concubine Yan left, she sent for Concubine Li,but the queen was a good-for-nothing and she didn't scold ConcubineLi as Concubine Yan would have expected.
“How'sthe emperor's sickness these days?” She asked Concubine Li.
“Notgood.” was the reply.
“Theemperor must have more rest.” It meant that Concubine Li should nothave sex with him.
“Iknow, but how can I reject whatever the emperor wants me to do?” Itimplied the truth that if the emperor wanted sex with her, how shecould refuse.

October 9th, 2017, 01:29 PM
Whenthe emperor had been well and healthy, almost everyday he had givenout written orders about this and that, however trivial it was. Nowsince the emperor was sick, he couldn't have done it everyday. Sothere were rumors prevalent in the capital about the emperor'shealth. Some rumors said that the emperor was lingering on his deathbed. Some rumors even had it that the emperor was already dead andthat Sushun kept it a secret to make his arrangements to seize thepower. Rumors were ensued by inflation. The value of currency andthe prices of goods were pitching up and down greatly. It was theresponsibilities of Sushun who was still the minister of InternalRevenue Ministry after he had been made one of the secretaries ofstate. Sushun wanted to do something about it. He planned torectify the four government money shops (i.e. banks) run by theInternal Revenue Ministry and to cast new coins, which should beheavier than the old ones and to issue new money shop notes. BeforeSushun had been appointed the minister of the Internal RevenueMinistry, the corruption in the Ministry had been obvious andpublicly known. Some officials in the Ministry and some clerks inthe money shops worked hand in glove to embezzle money. The ministerat that time had been an old man of no ability. Sushun had asked theemperor to remove the old minister and made him the new minister. Then he had made his fame as a man of talent by investigating theembezzlement case. But he couldn't uproot the evil and thecorruption was still there. Only the people working there weredifferent. Now Sushun wanted to do it again. But the emperor was sosick that he couldn't get his approval and had to wait.

October 11th, 2017, 01:35 PM
Chapter 11

Theroyal doctors diagnosed that the emperor was suffering from aterminal disease, but they could not tell the truth, because no oneliked to hear that he would soon die. The emperor was certainly noexception.
Oneday after the head royal doctor examined the emperor, the emperorasked him in a weak voice, “How's my sickness?”
“Notserious.” was the answer.
“Whatis my sickness? You have a name for it?”
“Emperoris too tired, need a lot of rest.” He didn't dare to add, “Haveless sex.”
Afterhe wrote the prescription, he was summoned to the presence of thesecretaries of state.
“Whatis really the emperor's sickness?” asked Tu Han, one of thesecretaries of state, “You must tell us the truth.”
Thehead doctor hesitated, but he knew that if he didn't tell the truthand when the emperor died, he would be accused at least of inabilityto cure the emperor and let the emperor die. So he decided to tellthe truth. “The case is hopeless. Tuberculosis.” He confessed.
“Then,why you said not serious to the emperor? You liar.” Anewly-promoted secretary of state shouted at him indignantly.
“Everydoctor says so to his patients.” He pleaded.
That'sanother truth. They couldn't blame him for it. So he was dismissed.

October 12th, 2017, 05:07 PM
Inthe Chinese history, when a new emperor was too young to rule thecountry, there were two systems to be adopted: the counselor systemand the empress dowager system. It meant who would help the youngemperor, that is, to make the decisions for him, to give edicts inhis name. The counselors or the empress dowager(s)? Sushun wantedthe former while Concubine Yan wanted the latter. Sushun called fora secret meeting in his house. Only four people were present, hisbrother Duanhua, Zaihuan, Tu Han and himself. They were in apavilion on a tiny island with only a small bridge for the access. No possible eavesdroppers. They even left the windows open so thatno one could approach without being seen. They discussed what theyshould do before the emperor's last moment. Sushun began, ?he lastmoment for the emperor will soon come. What do we want him to say ashis last words?
“Weshould make the emperor appoint us to be counselors. But Old Sixcan't be included.” suggested Zaihuan.
“Good.”said Sushun, then to Tu Han, “What do you think?”
TuHan was a scholar and often had a second thought for everything. Heobserved, “The appointment of the counselors must come from theemperor. What we do can't be too obvious and incite criticisms.”
“Don'tworry. I'll take care of it.” said Sushun
“Good. Let's write down the names.” said Duanhua.
“Allthe secretaries.” suggested Zaihuan.
“No,no. Not Wenqiang.” Sushun refuted.
“Okay.Got it.” said Zaihuan, “We have four secretaries here. You, he,he and me.” He pointed to Sushun, Duanhua and Tu Han. And otherthrees. Seven in all.

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October 13th, 2017, 01:50 PM
“Notenough.” said Sushun, “It's better to add someone closer to theemperor in genealogy to make eight counselors.” In old China,family relationship was deemed very important. It was notappropriate and would draw criticisms if no one from the emperor'sfamily was included among the counselors. The best candidate was theemperor's brother-in-law, who was really a good-for-nothing and sowould not dare to stand up against them. They put down his name onthe list.
Thenthey made another list of names to form a group handling theemperor's funeral. They put Yixin's name on it, but they planned tostate that all those, who were in the capital, though had names onthe list, didn't need to come to the Summer Palace.
Sushunwent to see the emperor almost everyday. Today, the emperor feltbetter and got up to sit on a chair before the windows. When Sushunsaw him, he said, “Congrats. Emperor will soon be well.”
“Iwish.” said the emperor. Then he bade the eunuchs and maids toleave the room. Sushun knew that the emperor had important things tosay to him. To make it easy for the emperor, Sushun got down on hisknees before the emperor so that the emperor could look at him in acomfortable angle when he spoke. “I know you always respect thequeen.” commenced the emperor, “You must still respect her whenI'm gone.” The emperor stopped to take a breath. Cold sweat brokeout on Sushun's forehead. Did the emperor suspect him of anything? Sushun said, “I'm Queen's slave, too. I'll serve Queen all mylife.”

October 16th, 2017, 01:44 PM
“Butyou must protect her if any harm will befall her.” said theemperor.
Sushunheaved a sigh of relief. “I'll defend Queen with my life.” Theemperor nodded his approbation. Sushun thought it's high time tomention the counselor system, but he tried another tactic first. “What shall I do if someone wants to have the empress dowagersystem when Emperor's in Heaven?”
“Nosuch precedent in our dynasty. So no one will suggest it.”
“CanEmperor appoint more courtiers to help Big Brother. I can't help BigBrother alone.”
“Doyou mean counselors?” It was not proper for Sushun to say anythingin affirmative. He just kowtowed on the floor. That was a habitualact of a hint as YES among the courtiers in Qing Dynasty. The emperordidn't say anything and looked tired. Therefore, Sushun begged theemperor to go back on bed.
Theemperor knew that his days were numbered. He wanted to make somearrangements for his son. He wanted to appoint some counselors tohelp his son, which just fitted the desire of Sushun and hisfollowers. When the emperor asked Sushun who would be better to helphis son, Sushun suggested some names that they had discussed anddecided on before. But not his own name. The emperor just listenedand didn't say anything. Then he bade Sushun to leave and sent forthe queen, who came to sit at the emperor's sick bed, weeping.
“Notime for weeping now, my queen.” The emperor gasped out his words,“Look under my pillow. There's a seal and a written will for you.”
“What'sthe will for?” The queen took out the two things and put them intoher inner pocket.
“IfConcubine Yan does something very wrong and will impair the benefitsof the empire, you can produce this will publicly and execute her.”The voice of the emperor sounded a bit weak.
“Ihope I don't need to use it.” said the good-hearted queen.
“Nowyou can leave and tell Concubine Yan to come.” said the emperor.

October 18th, 2017, 02:07 PM
ConcubineYan came and took seat where the queen had sat, weeping too. Theemperor told her to be nice to the queen, and after giving heranother seal, he bade her to go.
Hefell into a swoon. When he came to, he was served ginseng soup. Itwas said that ginseng could make a person prolong his life on thedeathbed. Then he sent for his son and all the courtiers that hadcome here with him. He encouraged his son to be a good emperor, buthis son was too young to understand what he had said. Then theemperor wanted to write formal wills to be declared after his deathto the entire empire. It's the tradition. But the emperor was toofeeble to write it himself. So one of the courtiers wrote it for himwhile he dictated. The first will said that his son would be theemperor when he died. The gist of the second will was to appointeight courtiers to be counselors to the young emperor, his son. Among them were Sushun, the younger brother, Duanhua, the elderbrother, and Zaihuan, their nephew, who had inherited the title ofprince, though he was older than the brothers. All the eightcounselors were just those Sushun wished and had suggested to theemperor. But many courtiers felt it not fair that the emperor didn'tinclude Yixin, his own brother, as a counselor.
Itwas said that when the courtier drafted the will, he put in somewords like to help the young emperor to handle the state affairs intothe will, which was later deemed false. Anyway, the wills were readto the late emperor and he didn't say anything, which, in the opinionof the counselors, meant that the late emperor approved them.

October 20th, 2017, 01:18 PM
Everyonein the room watched the emperor, who lay there still and motionlessnow. It was dawn. After a long while, Sushun burned a stick ofincense and put it before the emperor's nostrils to see whether hewas breathing. The smoke rose straight in the air, which meant thatno breath came out of the emperor's nose any more. The emperor wasgone to Heavens, as it should be referred to. Everyone in the roombegan to cry loudly in mourning. That was also a tradition.
Whenthe queen was mourning, her favorite maid brought her a sadinformation that Concubine Li had committed suicide, but didn't die,because the opium she had swallowed was not enough. The queen had tosummon Concubine Li to her presence and consoled her. It was not anunusual event that a concubine wanted to end her own life to followthe emperor to Heavens in the history of China. But Concubine Li hadher own reason for doing so. She was always afraid of Concubine Yan,who, in her opinion, was shrewd and cruel. She feared that sinceConcubine Yan would become an empress dowager she would maltreat hersome day out of old jealousy, which would easily turn into abhorrenceand killing. And it was not unusual that when Concubine Yan wantedto kill her, she would accuse her of something, anything she didn'tdo, which would also impair her good reputation. When she died forthe emperor, she would leave a good reputation behind her.
Thequeen knew why she wanted to die. So she promised to protect herfrom any potential imaginable harm and bade her to live on. Concubine Li promised to do no more such stupid things.

October 23rd, 2017, 01:13 PM
AfterEmperor Xianfeng died on August 22, 1861, his son succeeded thethrone accordingly, who was Emperor Tongzhi (1856-1875), six yearsold at that time. The queen then became Empress Dowager XiAn, wholived in an eastern chamber, so was habitually called East EmpressDowager. According to tradition, the young emperor? biologicalmother, Concubine Yan, was made Empress Dowager Cixi, who lived in awestern chamber, so was habitually called West Empress Dowager. Butthe courtiers and maids and eunuchs addressed them as the MotherQueen Empress Dowager for East Empress Dowager and the Holy MotherEmpress Dowager for West Empress Dowager. The maids and the eunuchswould also call East Side for East Empress Dowager and West Side forWest Empress Dowager behind their backs.
SinceEmperor Tongzhi was too young to make any decisions about the stateaffairs, there arose the problem: who would make the decisions forhim till he became of age? Different people had different opinions,of course. Some of the counselors, especially Sushun, the youngerbrother, thought that the counselors should make decisions for theyoung emperor since the late emperor had appointed them to help hisson to rule the empire. But the empress dowagers, especially WestEmpress Dowager, had the concept that they should make the decisionsfor him since they were his mothers. (By tradition, the queen wastreated as his mother, too.)
BeforeEmperor Xianfeng died, there were two groups to assist him inhandling the state affairs: one headed by Sushun in the SummerPalace, the other headed by Yixin, the emperor's brother, in thecapital. Now after his demise, there appeared a third group in thispolitical game: the two empress dowagers, mainly West Side as she wascalled informally behind her back.
Thelate emperor had made a vague decision on his deathbed that wheneverany written orders were to be issued in the name of the new emperor,the queen should use the seal he had given her at the beginning ofthe orders and Concubine Yan should use the other seal at the end. His purpose was to prevent the counselors from taking over the powerfrom his son, the young emperor.
Asthis decision lacked detailed procedures, there was a dispute betweenthe two empress dowagers and the counselors. The counselors arguedthat as the emperor was too young to read, no more reports would beturned in. The counselors would read all the reports, make decisionsand send in the written orders for the two empress dowagers to usethe seals on them, and the empress dowagers could not make anychanges on the written orders. But the empress dowagers persistedthat they should read all the reports for the young emperor and ifthey didn't agree to any decision the counselors had made, they hadthe right to change it, or they wouldn't use the seals, which wouldmake the written orders invalid according to the arrangement of thelate emperor. What's the use of an invalid written order? Thecounselors had to give in. The empress dowagers won the first round.

October 25th, 2017, 02:11 PM
Chapter 12

BeforeEmperor Xianfeng died, a rumor came to his ear that Yixin, his ownbrother, would usurp his throne. So when he was very sick and whenYixin sent in a written request for a visit to the emperor in theSummer Palace, he rebuffed him to come to see him, maybe for the lasttime. And in his appointment of the counselors, he didn't want toinclude Yixin for fear that his brother might do something harmful tohis son. Flesh and blood relationship holds nothing in politics,though blood always sheds for it.
ButYixin didn't care about the rumor. Lettime tell everything. Sometimes, explanations will only go the opposite way. However, thecourtiers that remained in Peking were greatly dissatisfied about thelate emperor's second will. In their opinion, it was reasonable thatthe late emperor's brother should help his young nephew as acounselor. It was unbelievable, they thought, since the will had notbeen written in the late emperor's handwriting.

* * *

October 30th, 2017, 03:20 PM
Sushunalways wanted to mint new heavy coins so that the inflation could beunder control. Now as Emperor Xianfeng died, he must discuss thematter with the empress dowagers. The counselors went to see theempress dowagers everyday to report and talk over the state affairs. When Sushun mentioned the mintage of the new coins, West EmpressDowager asked, “Is it so urgent? Can't it wait till we return tothe capital?”
“Yes,it's urgent if we want to control the inflation. If the inflationgets worse, the majority of the people will become dissatisfied withthe government and riots may occur, even in the capital.” Sushunreplied.
“Iknow we need copper to make coins. Do you have enough copper?queriedWest Empress Dowager.
“I”mgetting copper transported from Yunnan Province to the capital. Oncethe new coins get into circulation, the situation will be better.”
WestEmpress Dowager looked sideways at East Empress Dowager and asked forher opinion. All the while, East Empress Dowager was whispering tothe young emperor, telling him to keep quiet. When asked, she justsaid, “I sounds good.” That meant that she had no objection. WestEmpress Dowager doubted if East Empress Dowager had heard what shehad been talking about with the counselors. But her asking for heropinion was just a formality. So Sushun got the green light for thatmatter.
Theclerical officials in the Summer Palace were very careful to choosesides. Someone would choose to follow Sushun because he had power. Someone thought if Sushun was compared to a mountain, it was a sturdymountain on the surface. He was really like an ice mountain, whichwould thaw in no time. That was the opinion of Head ClericalOfficial Zao and quite a few of his colleagues agreed with him. Butmost clerical officials wanted to be onlookers, i.e., audience towatch the political opera in the real life and to see how it wouldend.

* * *

November 1st, 2017, 02:01 PM
Whenthe sad news reached the capital that Emperor Xianfeng died, Yixinwanted to go to the Summer Palace to mourn in person before the lateemperor's coffin. This was a tradition, too.
Justthen, suddenly came a secret written message from the two empressdowagers to summon Yixin to the Summer Palace. So Yixin sent in aformal report, demanding to go to the palace to mourn for his latebrother. The counselors could not say NO to this. Yixin began on histrip to the Summer Palace as the late emperor's brother, not as acourtier.
TheSummer Palace was totally under Sushun's control. He even had spiesamong the eunuchs to eavesdrop what the empress dowagers would sayabout him. So it was not easy to send a secret letter to Yixin. Itwas said that one day Little An, the head eunuch of West EmpressDowager, had a quarrel with the head maid of East Empress Dowager. Little An cursed the head maid when they were bickering. The headmaid began to cry and went to complain to East Empress Dowager. AsLittle An was the head eunuch of West Empress Dowager, East EmpressDowager thought that it would be better to let West Empress Dowagerhandle it. So she told her head maid to complain to West EmpressDowager. Accordingly, the head maid went to West Empress Dowager,who sent for Little An immediately after she listened to thecomplaint. She decided that Little An was at fault. Then she sentfor the head eunuch of the Palace, who already knew the quarrel, butjust played dumb, because he didn't want to offend either side, one,the head maid of East Empress Dowager and the other, the head eunuchof West Empress Dowager, though he ranked higher than both of them.
Whenhe came and kowtowed to West Empress Dowager, she said, “Little Analways annoys me. I don't want to see him here anymore.” The headeunuch of the Palace said, still on his knees, “I'll send him backto the Forbidden City.” West Empress Dowager nodded and added,“Give him twenty slaps before he leaves.” Little An, prostratingbefore West Empress Dowager, kowtowed, begging West Empress Dowagerto pardon him, but West Empress Dowager was firm this time.

November 3rd, 2017, 01:49 PM
Thehead eunuch of the Palace took Little An to his place and told aeunuch to give twenty slaps on his face. Then he sent Little An onhis way back to the capital. A clerk and two soldiers escortedLittle An. When they arrived in the capital, the clerk droppedLittle An to the Royal Family Affairs Management. A petty official onduty there received them and gave a body receipt to the clerk, whoreturned to the Summer Palace with two soldiers. Then the pettyofficial registered Little An's name. When he was about to detainLittle An in a cell there for the night, Little An said, “Excuseme, Official. I have something very important to say.” The pettyofficial said, “All right. Say it to me.” Little An said, “Ican't say it to you.” The petty official was irritated and shouted,“Are you joking with me?” Little An said, “No. I'm not joking. Even if I tell you, you cannot do anything about it.” The pettyofficial asked, “Who do you want to speak to?” Little An replied,“I must speak to His Excellency Baojun.” (Baojun was one of thecourtiers in charge of the Royal Family Affairs Management.) Thepetty official knew that Little An had been the head eunuch of WestEmpress Dowager and he didn't want to offend him. So he sent somebodyto let Baojun know. After two hours, Little An was taken to Baojun'sresidence.
AfterLittle An kowtowed to him, Baojun asked, “What do you want to tellme?” Little An replied “Here's a letter. Your Excellency'dbetter read it first.” He produced a letter from his inner pocket. It was a short letter from the two empress dowagers, just orderingYixin to go to the Summer Palace. Baojun realized the significanceof the letter. After he sent Little An back to the Forbidden City,he went to see Wenqiang first. Then they went together to see Yixin.
Theyfigured that if they wanted to deprive Sushun of his power, they hadto ally with the empress dowagers. As Yixin hadn't been appointed acounselor, if he wanted to take over power from Sushun, he mustdenounce the counselor system, not just driving Sushun out of theSecretarial Bureau. If the counselor system was denounced, they hadto take to the empress dowager system. It was exactly the purpose ofthe empress dowagers when they sent Yixin this secret letter. Forbackup, they had a letter delivered to Commander Shengbao to tell himto bring his troops to the capital.

November 6th, 2017, 03:08 PM
Chapter 13

Afterthe funeral, the two empress dowagers wanted to see Yixin, theirbrother-in-law. They had confidence that they could find an ally inhim, because he was unwilling to be excluded from power center theSecretarial Bureau. But they were afraid that Sushun might say thatyoung widows could not see young brother-in-law. That was also asocial tradition in old China. But before they received Yixin, WestEmpress Dowager wanted to make sure that no one would eavesdrop,because Sushun had some spies among the eunuchs. She sent somesuspicious eunuchs on some fool's errand to some places far enoughthat they couldn't get back in a couple of hours. Then they sent thehead eunuch of the palace to summon Yixin, telling him to use sometrick if necessary.
Thehead eunuch waited outside the building till Yixin came out,accompanied by other courtiers, including Sushun. He rushed out toannounce formally that the empress dowagers summoned Yixin. To avoidthe suspicion of a conspiracy between the empress dowagers andhimself against Sushun, Yixin asked Sushun if he could see the lateemperor's widows. Sushun asked the head eunuch why the empressdowagers wanted to see Yixin. Having got the instruction, the headeunuch replied that the empress dowagers wanted to know how thingsstood in the Forbidden City and how all those left there had fared. It sounded like it was entirely a family concern. Since Sushun didn'tshow any opposition, Yixin went with the head eunuch to see theempress dowagers.
“Weshould have someone to accompany Prince Yixin to listen in so that wecan at least know exactly what they will talk about.” Tu Han saidafter Yixin and the head eunuch left.
“Youalways lock the door after the sheep is stolen. It's too late now.”Zaihuan criticized him. They could not send someone following them.

November 8th, 2017, 02:42 PM
Afterhe kowtowed to the two empress dowagers, Yixin was seated. Theempress dowagers wanted it to be looked like a family reunion. Itwas supposed that East Empress Dowager should begin the conversation,but she was not a talkative woman and didn't even know how to mentionthe important topic. So she began with:
“Whendid you start from the capital?”
“Earlyon the twenty-sixth of the seventh moon.”
“Howlong did it take you to reach here?”
“Fivewhole days.”
“How'severything in the capital?”
“Everything'sfine there. We are making all the preparations for the return ofEmpress Dowagers and Emperor.”
“Ihope we will return before the end of this year.”
“Itwill be too late. The earlier, the better.” He said in a seriouslow deep voice.
“Betterafter everything's properly prepared. Can't have any oversight.”Cut in West Empress Dowager.
“That'sfor sure. Can't afford anything going wrong.” Yixin agreed. “I'lltake care of all the preparations myself when I am back there.”
“Good. I think next month is the earliest we can leave here.” said WestEmpress Dowager.
“Thatsounds good.”
“Whatare people saying about the late emperor's will in the capital” Shewanted to lead the conversation to more significant things.

November 10th, 2017, 05:24 PM
“CanHoly Mother Empress Dowager be more specific?” He didn't want to beeasily led to where he already knew the conversation would go.
“Aboutthe counselor system?”
“Wehad counselor system before.”
“Doesit mean it's a life-long title?”
“Ofcourse not. As soon as the emperor was grown up and took over thepower, there would be no need to have counselors any more. Besides,the emperor has the right to take back the title. But generally thesucceeding emperor won't do it, since the title was bestowed by thepreceding emperor, unless . . .”
“Unlesswhat?” West Empress Dowager prodded eagerly.
“Unlessthe counselors do something seriously wrong. But now, the emperorcan't denounce their titles, because the emperor's orders must gothrough their hands to be announced to the whole country. They won'tlet such an order go out of the palace. What's the use if no oneknows there is such an order?” It implicated that such an ordermust be issued through the hands of those other than the counselors.
“Whatif we appoint you as a counselor?” asked West Empress Dowager.
“Ibeg that Empress Dowagers will not do that.” Yixin said modestly.
“Whynot?” wondered West Empress Dowager.
“What'sthe use? They are eight and I am single.”
Nouse indeed. A plan was fermented in the busy mind of West EmpressDowager.

November 13th, 2017, 02:44 PM
Althoughthey hated each other politically, Sushun and Yixin were polite toeach other socially. Sushun invited Yixin to his house for dinnerafter Yixin left the Summer Palace. Other counselors were there,too. A servant came in, carrying a small package. When Sushunopened it, everyone stared at the object inside in surprise. It wasa bright new coin, the sample one.
“Whenwill you put it into circulation?” Yixin asked Sushun.
“Onthe new emperor's coronation day. The coronation would be held whenthe empress dowagers and the emperor returned to the capital.”
“Verygood. It seems that you want to return to Peking as early aspossible.” That's what Yixin wanted.
“Itdepends on you.” Observed Sushun.
“Whyme?” Yixin queried, baffled.
“Youare in charge there. When you finish preparations to receive theempress dowagers and the emperor, we'll come.” Sushun said with asmile. So, the man could smile, Yixin thought.
Itwas late when Yixin went to his lodging place after the dinner. Hesent a servant to fetch Head Clerical Official Zao, who came in plainclothes and entered by a side door. They had a serious talk in aninnermost room. Yixin inquired, “What do the counselors think ofWest Empress Dowager?”
“Theythink West Side is shrewd.” answered Zao.
“Notonly shrewd, but she can also pretend ignorance and say things to putyou into a plight.”
“That'sa new insight into her character. But why do Prince (address Yixin)say that?” said Zao.
“Shewanted me in the Secretarial Bureau, working with the counselors.”
“That'salso a way out. If Prince heads the Secretarial Bureau, somecounselors will take Prince's side. If anyone disobeys, Prince cansqueeze him out of the Secretarial Bureau, though Prince can't takeaway his title of a counselor. If he's no longer in the SecretarialBureau, what can he do?” Zao offered his opinion.
“Thatmeans I'll have a hand-to-hand combat with Sushun. I'd like to solvethis problem when back to the capital.” Now Head Clerical OfficialZao knew that Prince Yixin intended to do away with the counselorsystem, not just to deprive the counselors of their power. It mustbring in the empress dowager system. When Yihuan came to see hisbrother Yixin, Zao took his leave. Yihuan was the seventh brother ofYixin.
“Ican't stand him any more.” cried Yihuan before he sat down. Hereferred to Sushun. Though twenty-two years old, he still behavedlike a teenager. “If you don't grow up, how can I trust you?”Yixin warned him, who blushed a little. “I won't say anythingbefore an outsider. Now it's only Sixth Brother and me.” Yixincould not but smile.

November 15th, 2017, 03:16 PM
Chapter 14

Yixinand his followers had plotted against the counselors long before hecame to the Summer Palace, but it was too early to let the empressdowagers know, because women were generally known unable to keep asecret. It was a life and death secret, something like coupdetat.
Hedidn't go to see the empress dowagers alone again during his stay inRehe, lest it should rouse the suspicion of the counselors. Thenecessary message between the empress dowagers and Yixin wasexchanged through his younger brother, Yihuan, who married theyounger sister of West Empress Dowager. It was natural for his wifeto visit her sister.
Aftercertain arrangements were made, Yixin left the Summer Palace in hasteon September 16, for fear of being detained if the counselors smelleda rat. Besides, he had preparations to finish in the capital.
Thedate was fixed for the young emperor and the empress dowagers toreturn to the capital. It was 26 of October. It was nearly a yearstaying here. Everyone was happy to go back home.
Justat the joyous time, a letter came from Commander Shengbao to payrespects to the empress dowagers and the emperor. Such a thing hadnever happened before, because according to tradition, queens andempress dowagers could not have any contact with the outside world. Anyone working in the government could pay homage to the emperor viamail. That was normal. So this letter itself had a special meaningto deliver, which was to support the authority of the empressdowagers and deny that of the counselors. For the disagreementbetween the empress dowagers and the counselors had surely leaked outto those high-rank courtiers. Now the counselors, especially Sushun,had an uneasy feeling. They had to do something to rebuff it, torefute it; or if any other commanders or governors followed theexample, it would be a real challenge to their authorities ascounselors. One of the counselors drafted a reply. They went to seethe empress dowagers, taking the letter and the draft of reply. First, they reported that the government armies had taken AnqingCity, which had been occupied by the rebels. Then they had adiscussion about some government affairs. At last Zaihuan mentionedthe letter from Commander Shengbao and their reply, explaining thatsuch a letter was against the tradition. East Empress Dowager wassurprised to hear that they would actually criticize somebody whojust wanted to pay respects to the empress dowagers, but West EmpressDowager said, “Now that it's against the tradition, you cancriticize him.” So she printed her seal on the reply and so didEast Empress Dowager. Later she explained to East Empress Dowagerthat she wanted to add a little more gunpowder into the barrel, onwhich the counselors were sitting. Furthermore, from the informationexchange with Yixin through her sister, she knew Commander Shengbaowould soon send in a request to come to the Summer Palace to show hislast reverence in person to the late emperor before his coffin. Shereckoned that if she yielded this time, she could persist next timewhen they discussed his request.

November 17th, 2017, 02:48 PM
Justas everyone was getting prepared on a return journey, a report ofsuggestion written by Critique Official Dong came from the capital onSeptember 12, which was like a stone thrown into the alreadyundulating lake, causing not ripples, but a big wave. The reportsaid that since the emperor was so young and couldn't handle thestate affairs, the two empress dowagers should sit behind a screen atthe back of the throne, holding court in behalf of the young emperor. The suggestion was just what West Empress Dowager wanted. It wasanother political system, the empress dowager system, for the empressdowagers to take over power from the counselors. In the wholeChinese history, this system for an empress dowager to handle stateaffairs had existed in other dynasties before, but not in QingDynasty ever since. But West Empress Dowager felt that it was notthe ripe time to suggest such a thing, like food undercooked. So sheshowed it to East Empress Dowager and they decided to keep the reportfor the time being.
Theusual procedures were that all the reports must be registered by theSecretarial Bureau, then sent in through the Internal Registrarsituated at the palace gate to the emperor, now to the two empressdowagers. After reading, the emperor, now the two empress dowagers,would make marks on the reports that needed a reply or a decision. The different marks showed different meanings like known, agree, etc. Then all the reports would be returned to the Secretarial Bureau,who would draft written replies or decisions in the emperor's nameaccording to the meanings of the marks on the reports. If they haddifferent opinions, they could send in their own reports. Otherwise,they sent in the drafts for the emperor to approve, now for theempress dowagers to use seals on them. The drafts, once back to theSecretarial Bureau, if there were corrections, must be rewritten andthen sent back to where the reports came. Occasionally the emperor,now the empress dowagers, would keep an awkward report and never giveit back to the Secretarial Bureau. It was called Flooded Over likesomething submerged under water and seemed having never existed. Itwould save further troubles.
Thatday, all the reports, except one, were returned to the SecretarialBureau. When the counselors found from the registration that onereport was missing, they sent a royal servant to the InternalRegistrar to inquire about the missing report, which was unnecessarybecause they should know that it was kept by the empress dowagers. The registrar sent in someone to ask the empress dowagers and afteracquiring the answer he told the servant that West Empress Dowagerkept it. The servant brought back the message.
Whenthe counselors got the answer, Zaihuan, one of the three chiefcounselors, cried in wrath, “If reports are not given back, whatshould we work on?”
“Thatreport must be given back to us.” said Tu Han, one of thecounselors. Then he ordered the servant to go to the InternalRegistrar to ask for the report back.

November 20th, 2017, 02:45 PM
Whenthe two empress dowagers knew that they could not keep the report anylonger, they got together to discuss how to deal with the counselors. In normal situations no courtier dared to do such a thing unless hewanted to be punished or even beheaded, depending on the emperor'smood at that time. But the counselors were now in charge of theemperor's bodyguards, which made them bold enough to challenge theempress dowagers.
Thetwo empress dowagers were in a dilemma. They knew that thecounselors were in charge of the armed men and might do somethingdesperate if they were forced too hard. But if the empress dowagersyielded too easily, they would take an ell when getting an inch.
EastEmpress Dowager maintained that they should not get into a hotdispute with the counselors, but West Empress Dowager thought thatthey should do to the counselors as the dignity of the empressdowagers required. Anyway, they decided that they had to face thecounselors next day.
Whenthey discussed important things with the counselors, the youngemperor was always present to show that they spoke only in hisbehalf. So was that day.
Afterconsideration,West Empress Dowager began, “We decide that we agreeto the report. So draft a written reply.”
“Empressdowagers cannot do that.” Zaihuan protested.
Sushunthought it was not easy to explain it. He was struck with an idea.He said, “We will discuss it and send in a draft of a written replytomorrow.” Thus saying, they retired from the presence of the twoempress dowagers and the young emperor.
Whenthe counselors were back in their resting room, they got angry. Theysuspected that it was the result of the meeting between the empressdowagers and Yixin.
Duanhua,one of the chief counselors, said, “If we don't contradict it, suchreports will come in over and over again.”
“Right.”Zaihuan remarked, “We must contradict it severely.”
Theydrafted a written reply in the name of the young emperor, saying thatit was against the tradition of Qing Dynasty to have the empressdowagers hiding behind a screen, handling the state affairs and thatthe courtiers should never suggest such a thing.
Itis the same that a political group can always find reasons to statewhy they should do such a thing or why the other group should not dosuch a thing.
Thereport of suggestion was lying before them now. The reason of thesuggestion was: “We are now in an unusual time and in an unusualsituation, which requires us to take unusual steps.”

November 22nd, 2017, 02:35 PM
Chapter 15

Whenthe written reply was sent in, West Empress Dowager read it first. AsEast Empress Dowager had no ambition and was a happy-go-luckygood-for-nothing, she let West Empress Dowager handle all the stateaffairs. Only for important things, West Empress Dowager went toseek her consultation.
Nowafter she read only the first few sentences, West Empress Dowagerflared up. When she finished, she took the written reply to thechamber of East Empress Dowager.
“Theywant to rebel.” She yelled while handing the written reply to EastEmpress Dowager.
“Whatdo you mean?”
“Thatthey wrote here is totally different from what we wanted them towrite yesterday.” If anything a courtier did was against the wishof the emperor, now against the wish of the empress dowagers, it wasdeemed as rebellion or betrayal. The result could be execution.
“Calmdown first.” warned East Empress Dowager, “We don't want them toactually rebel.”
“Iknow, but we can't let them have their way over ours, or they willtread on our heads before long.” West Empress Dowager complained.
“We'dbetter deal with them when we return to the capital. We'll haveYixin's support then.”
“Butwhat should we do with this written reply now?” After a while,seeing that East Empress Dowager said nothing, she continued, “Atleast we should ask them why they wrote the reply like this and seewhat they'll have to say.”
EastEmpress Dowager acquiesced.
OnSeptember 15, the counselors were summoned to their presence. Theempress dowagers received them in the main room of their building. Everyone seemed a bit nervous except the young emperor, who hid inthe arms of East Empress Dowager. They all knew that a conflict ofwords could not be avoided since their views were so far apart andtheir personal interests were almost opposite.
“Whowrote this reply?” West Empress Dowager asked sternly.
“Theresult of our discussion.” answered Zaihuan.
“Doyou know that this reply should be the emperor's opinion?”
“Yes.”Tu Han cut in, “But since the emperor is so young, the late emperorappointed us to handle things.”
“Butit's written in the emperor's name. How can the emperor oppose hisown mothers?”
“Wedidn't write such things. We only contradict Critique Official Dong,who sent in this report.” Said Zaihuan.
“Whyis what he said in his report wrong?”
“It'salready refuted in the written reply.” Sushun said, “EmpressDowagers can read it for yourselves.”
Thatwas not suitable for a courtier to say to the empress dowagers. Buthe had said it. He spoke so loudly that the young emperor wasfrightened and turned to hide his face in the bosom of East EmpressDowager.
“Cana courtier express his opinion to the emperor?” asked West EmpressDowager.
“No,he can't, since the counselors will take care of things one by one inproper order.” said Sushun stubbornly.

November 24th, 2017, 03:19 PM
“It'sreally not necessary for the empress dowagers to read reports.” Hesaid aloud.
Theface of East Empress Dowager became pale and the face of West EmpressDowager became red.
“Here'sthe emperor. Can he read the reports? If he can't, who can act forhim, if not his mothers?” The voice of West Empress Dowager grew abit higher, too.
“Whydid the late emperor appoint us as counselors?” said Sushun.
ButWest Empress Dowager went on, ?ow in the emperor's name, I order youto rewrite the reply.”
“Accordingto our tradition, Empress Dowagers can only look after the youngemperor, but can't interfere in the state affairs.”
“Doyou want to resist the emperor's order?” She slapped on the table.
“Weare not resisting any orders from the emperor, but Empress Dowagersmust abide by the tradition.” said Tu Han.
Theysounded like quarreling and the voices were escalating. The youngemperor was so terrified that he began to cry out and wetted hispants, and also wetted the clothes of East Empress Dowager as heclung to her so closely. The cry of the young emperor interrupted thebrawling. The counselors felt awkward and retreated silently to theirresting room.

* * *

Sushunasked his elder brother Duanhua and his nephew Zaihuan, who wasreally older than the brothers, to have dinner at his house. Theywanted to have a discussion about what to do to deal with thesituation. They talked while eating.
“Ifshe wants to be in charge, good, let her take the rein. But if thehorse has no legs, where can she go?Duanhua blurted after downing acup of wine.
Itwas their strategy. They were on strike. If no one worked for theemperor, hence for the empress dowagers, how could their orders goout of the palace and be carried out?

* * *

November 27th, 2017, 02:48 PM
Thatafternoon, forgetful of the nap they took everyday, the two empressdowagers had a discussion about the serious situation.
“It'ssurprised that they couldn't behave themselves.” said East EmpressDowager.
“Theylooked like they wanted to beat us to pulps.” said West EmpressDowager.
“Nowwhat?” asked East Empress Dowager.
“Iintended to keep it quiet for a while, but they forced my hand. Nowwe have to go back to the old ruse and forget about it till the brothcools.”
Butthey forgot that their rivals were not wooden mummies.
Nextmorning they waited for the reports to be delivered to them, but nonecame. It was not until late in the morning that the bad news cameinstead of the reports. The head eunuch of the palace dashed in toreport to them that the counselors were on strike and the wholepalace was in panic. Everyone was afraid that something terriblewould happen. The two empress dowagers looked at each other withouta word. They bade the head eunuch to go for further information.
Theyconversed about the situation once more. What could they do when noone listened to them in the Summer Palace? Unless they returned tothe capital, where they had Yixin for support. Suddenly a Chinesesaying occurred in the mind of West Empress Dowager, which goes likethat, “It's not too late for a gentleman to revenge after tenyears.” So at last they gave in and imprinted their seals on thewritten reply to contradict the suggestion. When the counselors gotit back, they enjoyed their victory over the empress dowagers. Theywon the second round, regardless of the obvious fact that the empressdowagers were always over them in power and rank, like a swordhanging by a hair over their heads.
CommanderShengbao had passed a government test and was deemed a scholar. After two promotions as an official, he had been made a general sincerebellion occurred in many provinces. He had victory over theenemies in quite a few battles. As a result, he got many gifts ofhonor from the emperor, like a peacock's tail feather and a yellowcoat. (The color yellow was the imperial color in Qing Dynasty. Noone should use this color except with the permission of the emperor,like the gift of the yellow coat.) And finally he had acquired thepromotion to be a commander with several generals under him. Although he had been beaten in the fight against the foreign troopsin the defense of the capital, no one had challenged his authorityand reputation, because at that time, defeat by the foreign armieswas thought of as a matter of course. If someone could defeat aforeign army with guns and cannons, it would be a great surprise andthis person was a wonder-worker. For most weapons used by thegovernment armies were still swords and spears, bows and arrows. Itwas said that China had invented gunpowder, but only utilized it tomake firecrackers.

November 29th, 2017, 03:01 PM
WhenCommander Shengbao sent in a request that he wished to come in personto pay his last respects to the late emperor to show his loyalty andgratitude, Sushun wanted at first to refuse him, but at theinsistence of the empress dowagers, he had to give in. CommanderShengbao brought his five hundred bodyguards for his own safety. Everyone in Rehe wanted to get on his good side. He was more thanwarmly welcomed. After he kowtowed and mourned before the coffin ofthe late emperor, he returned to his lodging place and received manyvisitors. But an important visitor he was expecting came at night. It was Head Clerical Official Zao. Commander Shengbao was haughtyand arrogant as he had had so many merits. He treated his generalsand officers as his slaves, many of whom were illiterate. But heesteemed scholars and talented officials. He received Head ClericalOfficial Zao with due decorum, though his rank was much higher thanthat of the visitor. He told Zao that he had met Yixin on the wayhere as Yixin was on his way back to the capital. Zao gathered thathe had known most of the things already and told him only newdevelopments.
“CritiqueOfficial Dong is a blockhead.” commented Commander Shengbao, “Hedeserved the reprimand from Sushun.”
“Ithink such a suggestion should be made by someone with a much higherrank.” said Zao.
CommanderShengbao agreed and added, “I've half a mind to do it myself, butnow's not the right time.”
“Betterafter the empress dowagers and the emperor get safely back to thecapital.” Commander Shengbao nodded his head and the strategy wasthus settled.
BeforeCommander Shengbao left, he gave two hundred taels of silver to everyofficial there as a gift. The problem was that if anyone rejectedit, it would be like to smear a speck of mud on his face. No onewanted to offend him. Besides, officials living on mere salary werereally poor and always needed extra money. So everyone accepted it. They thought it was a gift, not a bribery. But what's the differencebetween the two?

December 1st, 2017, 02:42 PM
Chapter 16

Sushunalways wanted to belittle West Empress Dowager, because she was theambitious one, but he didn't succeed. Now he got another idea to seethe two empress dowagers separately. He figured that he might getmore things done with East Empress Dowager alone. When the twoempress dowagers were made known to his demand, they had aconversation.
“Idon't know why they want that.” said East Empress Dowager.
“Becauseyou are so good-hearted that they can cheat you.”
“That'swhat I'm afraid of. We'll still see them together.”
“Butif we receive them separately, you may hear things different thanwhen we are together.”
“Whatif they ask me to make some decisions?”
“Youcan say you'll think about it.”
“Whatif it's emergency and they need an immediate solution?”
WestEmpress Dowager knew that's the problem, but after a while ofconsideration, she was struck with an idea. She said, “Forimportant things, we must use two seals on the papers. After you useyour seal, they must come to me for mine. If it's inappropriate,I'll refuse. We'll play white face and red face.” (Just likeplaying good cop and bad cop.)
Afterthe crisis, even the courtiers in the capital knew that there hadbeen a quarrel between the empress dowagers and the counselors.Sushun wanted to show to all the courtiers and governors that theempress dowagers still trusted him; so he asked East Empress Dowagerto receive him alone. Two empress dowagers had a talk about it andthen consented to his request.
Sushunkowtowed to East Empress Dowager before he spoke. “I put my wholeheart to work for the benefits of our empire, but still someonecomplains against me. How can I continue to work like that?” Hecomplained to East Empress Dowager, who assuaged him accordingly.

December 4th, 2017, 06:14 PM
“Sincethere are still wars in the southern provinces, we must save everytael of silver to support the wars.” observed Sushun.
“Youare right.” responded East Empress Dowager.
“Butnot everyone thinks so.” Sushun complained again.
“Whathappened?” asked East Empress Dowager.
“HolyMother Empress Dowager wants too many unnecessary things.”
”Likemore bowls, plates and some such things.”
“Suchthings won't make us poorer.”
“Whatif everyone else follow her example?”
“Sheis an empress dowager. Not everyone here is an empress dowager. AndI know you work hard and are loyal to the emperor.”
“Butstill, many are complaining behind my back.”
“Don'tlisten to others. Just do your job. We trust you.” East EmpressDowager comforted him.
“Onething more. There's gossip that Holy Mother Empress Dowager (WestEmpress Dowager) often receives male relative. It's againstetiquette. Mother Queen Empress Dowager's (East Empress Dowager)better advise Hole Mother Empress Dowager not to do so.” EastEmpress Dowager just nodded.

December 6th, 2017, 02:51 PM
Sushuncould think of nothing more to say and had to retire. His goalwasn't achieved. He had wished that when he complained, East EmpressDowager would have given him some kind of gifts or bestowed on himsome kind of an honorary title. But nothing, only an empty word ofpraise.
Thetwo empress dowagers met when Sushun left. East Empress Dowager toldWest Empress Dowager everything she could remember. Thoughindignant, West Empress Dowager said, “Sushun is right. We stillhave war going on in the southern provinces. We must save every coinfor it. From now on I won't ask him for a thing.” Meanwhile, shesaid to herself, “If I have power some day, I'll make himself kneelbefore me and let a eunuch slap his face hard and then execute him.”She gnashed her teeth secretly.
Thenthe chief counselors had a meeting. Duanhua said to Sushun, “EastSide is dumb. She might not get what you said.” Then he suggestedto Zaihuan, “We must use the strategy: Retreat First For thePurpose of Advance.” They decided to try it. So next day when theywent to see the two empress dowagers, they put up an oral resignationfrom some of the insignificant positions. Generally when a courtiersent in a resignation, the emperor, now the empress dowagers, wouldalways refuse the resignation and say some words of encouragement,even give a gift or an honorary title, which was what they justwanted. But this time, unusually, the empress dowagers acceptedtheir resignations and gave all these positions to some othercourtiers. Their subterfuge failed. And they could not withdraw theresignations.

December 8th, 2017, 03:19 PM
Onthe day they were to leave the Summer Palace, they were divided intotwo groups. One group started first, which mainly comprised theempress dowagers, the young emperor and seven counselors and all theother courtiers. The other group departed later, which chiefly wereSushun and Yihuan, escorting the late emperor's coffin. This groupcould not move fast because of the coffin. They were not in a hurry,as a matter of fact. But the two empress dowagers wanted to reachthe capital as soon as possible. They urged others to hurry. Theywished that they could have grown a pair of wings and flown toPeking, out of any danger that could come from the counselors. Theywere not even in a mood to look at the beautiful scenery along theroad, the colored leaves, the blue sky dotted sparsely with a fewbanks of white fluffy clouds and sometimes a vulture swooping downupon a prey somewhere at a distance.
Atlength they arrived at a place very close to the capital. All thecourtiers remaining in Peking, headed by Yixin, came here to welcomethe return of the empress dowagers and the emperor. The sight ofYixin and those courtiers incurred a feeling of safety in the twoempress dowagers. Ronglu was among them. He was now a high-rankofficer in command of an army guarding the capital.
Therewas a temporary residence for the emperor. They lodged there for thenight. After a rest, to wash dust off of their faces and hands, tohave some tea and snacks, the two empress dowagers received Yixin. East Empress Dowager asked, “Is everything all right in thecapital?”
“Everything'sall right and ready.” was the answer. (Avague assurance.) Butboth empress dowagers understood. East Empress Dowager queried, “Howabout the Forbidden City?”
“Theyare ready to welcome Empress Dowagers and Emperor back.”
Theyarrived in the capital on November 1. Once inside the ForbiddenCity, the two empress dowagers felt really safe. Even assassinscould not easily get in. After a rest, the empress dowagers sent forYixin, who came immediately and reported to the empress dowagers allthe arrangements he had made. Everything was ready for the action.

December 11th, 2017, 02:48 PM
Yixinhad had a meeting with three prime ministers, who disliked Sushun andhad great influence among courtiers. They readily gave their supportwhen Yixin made his plan acquainted with them. A prime ministershould often be a scholar, who often had a lot of pupils amongcourtiers, like an old tree with many branches. It was because whenone became a minister he had had chances to be a head examiner ingovernment tests. The testees who passed the test were traditionallydeemed as the pupils of the examiners. And a prime minister waspromoted from a minister.
Nextday when all the courtiers were in the resting room, the empressdowagers summoned Yixin and those prime ministers and Wenqiang, whowas Yixin's first follower, excluding the counselors, of course. Zaihuan shouted, “The empress dowagers can't summon courtiers. That's against the tradition.” But they ignored him and went to seethe empress dowagers.
Theempress dowagers told those prime ministers how the counselorsdisobeyed them, even bullied them. Once the counselors had been sofierce that when arguing with the empress dowagers that the youngemperor had been so frightened that he had begun to cry and evenwetted his pants, and also wetted the clothes of East EmpressDowager. The prime ministers were thus instigated and wanted justiceto be done. One of them, Prime Minister Zhou, said in ire, “Whydidn't the empress dowagers punish them?”
“Theyare counselors appointed by the late emperor. Can counselors bepunished?” asked West Empress Dowager.
“WhyNot?” said Prime Minister Zhou, “Empress dowagers can issue anorder to deprive them of the title of counselorship first, and thenpunish them.”
Atthe suggestion, East Empress Dowager turned her back to them and likea magician produced from her inner pocket a small scroll, the orderprewritten on October 21 when still in the Summer Palace. EastEmpress Dowager had hidden it on her person all the way to thecapital. She handed it to Yixin, telling him to read it to thoseprime ministers. Yixin unrolled the scroll open and read it to them.

December 13th, 2017, 03:50 PM
Itaccused the counselors, especially the three chief counselors, of thefollowing main crimes: When they assisted the late emperor, theyhandled the state affairs improperly, causing the foreign countriesto invade and the late emperor had to leave the capital; when in theSummer Palace they dissuaded the late emperor from returning to thecapital when peace was restored so that the late emperor's healthdeteriorated and the late emperor died there; they opposed to theempress dowagers to handle the state affairs.
Eachof the crimes would put the counselors to death sentence, but theorder only declared that the counselors be deprived of the title.That's not enough now, for they could counterattack later. So thesecond order was issued for the arrest of the three chief counselorsand the removal of the other five counselors from office.
Yixintook the written orders and went back to the resting room with theprime ministers and Wenqiang. When he read the orders, Zaihuanyelled, “We've just arrived, where came the orders?” He meantthat only counselors could issue orders, in the emperor's name ofcourse. He didn't know that anyone could issue orders, once he orshe had powerful support, namely, support of forces.
Yixinordered the palace guards to tie Zaihuan and Duanhua and put theminto the royal prison, where only high rank courtiers were entitledto be imprisoned. Other five counselors were sent home for furtherorders. It was November 2, 1861.
Sushunwas still free since he didn't arrive yet. He was on the way. Hemust be in irons and fetters before the news reached him. If he gotthe wind that his partners were in jail, he would either rebel orescape, either of which would be trouble.

December 15th, 2017, 03:07 PM
Yihuan,Yixin's brother, was with Sushun. They would stay for the night in asmall town. Yixin dispatched a messenger there with a written orderto take Sushun into custody. The order was delivered to Yihuan, whowas to carry it out. A plan was formed for the arrest. Yihuan sentfor the head bodyguard of Sushun. When he came, Yihuan asked himwhether he would be loyal to the emperor or to Sushun. It was adifficult question to answer, worth careful consideration, and itmeant that something serious happened between Sushun and the emperor,namely, the two empress dowagers. He was given a chance to choosewhich side he would be on since he was Sushun's head bodyguard. Ofcourse, he could not say to Yihuan that he was loyal to Sushun. Onlyone choice left for him. So he vowed his loyalty to the emperor.
Yihuanordered him to lead the way to Sushun's temporary residence. A groupof soldiers followed Yihuan. When Sushun's other guards saw this,they didn't know what to do as their head guard was among them. Theylooked at the head guard, hoping to see some hint in his eyes, butthe head guard looked down at the ground. So they just let Yihuanand the group of soldiers pass before them. The residence was alreadysurrounded by other soldiers. Most of Sushun's guards were stayingwith the coffin of the late emperor, as if someone wanted to stealthe coffin or the corpse. But in reality, many valuable things werein the coffin to be buried with the late emperor. If anythinghappened to the coffin, even if nothing was stolen, anyone in chargewould be severely punished. So Sushun had sent most of his guardsthere to assure the absolute safety.
Thesoldiers disarmed all Sushun's guards for assurance that there wouldnot be a riot. When the soldiers broke into his room, he slept withhis two concubines. Sushun was very angry that his slumber wasinterrupted, the soldiers seized him by force. Two soldiers held himin a kneeling pose when Yihuan read him the written order in theyoung emperor's name. It was midnight of the fourth date of theeleventh moon.

December 18th, 2017, 03:39 PM
Chapter 17

Sinceall the counselors were either arrested or removed from office, a newpower center should be established. Yixin gathered his mainfollowers in his residence for a meeting. This time they decidedthat there should be six secretaries in the Bureau. Besides Yixinhimself, Wenqiang, Baojun and the former head clerical official Zaowere all made secretaries. Yixin gave away the positions aspolitical gifts to his followers for their loyalty to him. Yixin'sfather-in-law would be a secretary, too. He was too old to do anyactual duties. He was put there as an adviser. Another secretarywas chosen from courtiers of Han Clan to balance the race proportionin the Bureau. The list was approved by the empress dowagers. Yixinwas made the head secretary. There had been an unspoken bargainbetween Yixin and West Empress Dowager. She made Yixin the headsecretary and Yixin supported the empress dowager system. Powerre-allotted.
WhenYihuan brought Sushun to the capital, he reported to Yixin how he hadarrested Sushun. Yixin asked him if Sushun had said anything on theway here. Yihuan told his brother that Sushun had said that WestEmpress Dowager was a poisonous snake and would bite anyone anytimewhen she thought it was necessary. Yixin ignored the warning.
Sushunwas put into the same prison with the other two counselors. Sushunhad advised them to kill the empress dowagers on the way to thecapital, but they didn't follow his advice, being scornful of women.Now the three of them accused one another of being slow in decision,negligent in stratagem and unnecessarily merciful to enemies, but allto no avail. Sushun wanted to send a letter out secretly to hisfaithful followers so that they could think of some way to rescuehim, but no jailer dared to do such a thing. So this cock of hiswouldn't fight. He then planned that if they would try him in acourt, he would plead vehemently and ask for hard evidence to delaythe verdict as long as possible that he might find a way to escape. But that cock of his wouldn't fight, either. They simply didn't tryhim in a court.

December 20th, 2017, 02:47 PM
TheSecretarial Bureau had a meeting to discuss what were the offencesthat the three chief counselors had committed. There was no debate,no opposition. No one defended Sushun. They concluded unanimously that there were eight offenses.
(1)When the late emperor was lying on the deathbed and wanted them todraft a will for the late emperor, they put in some words that werenot what the late emperor meant. And they refused to follow theinstructions of the empress dowagers and did everything, using theirown free will.
(2)They always said that they were the counselors and could not listento the empress dowagers and that the empress dowagers should not readthe reports.
(3)They always said that the empress dowagers should not see theprinces, who were the emperor's relatives. They wanted to alienatethem and isolated the empress dowagers.
(4)Sushun even sat on the throne and used the late emperor's things.
(5)Sushun refused to give the things that the empress dowagers askedfor.
(6)Sushun always wanted to estrange one empress dowager from the other.
(7)When Sushun was under custody, he still said nasty things about theempress dowagers.
(8)When Sushun escorted the late emperor's coffin to the capital, helived with his concubines. (It was against the tradition and showedthat he was not in a mourning state of mind.)
Whenthe accusations were passed in the Secretarial Bureau, Yixin reportedthe result of the meeting to the empress dowagers, who just signed anorder to execute the chief counselors, Sushun, Duanhua and Zaihuan,immediately, without giving them a chance to plead.
Sushunwas executed publicly and hastily. A courtier was sent to supervisethe execution of Sushun. Sushun would be carried in a wooden cage ona cart drawn by a donkey. The courtier knew if Sushun was aware thathe's going to die, he would use his last strength to resist. Hewould surely be subdued at last, but it was a trouble no one liked. So when he saw Sushun in the prison cell, he lied to him, “They arehaving a meeting and want me to bring you there for theinterrogation.”

December 22nd, 2017, 02:46 PM
“Theytreat me so unfair. I helped the late emperor to handle the stateaffairs in such a difficult time. I must let them know.” Sushuncomplained. So he walked out of the cell and followed the courtier tothe prison gate. But when he was put into the cage on a cart andwent to a different direction, he knew he was trapped. He didn't sayanything then, only closing his eyes. He intended to tell theonlookers what he knew about West Empress Dowager and Yixin before hewas beheaded. Jailers knew that there were three kinds of prisonerswith a death sentence. If a prisoner heard the death sentence andwas scared shit out, it was the first kind and easy to deal with. The second kind was the one, who would cry aloud and stamp feet,hearing the penalty of death, but when his energy was thus exhausted,nothing would happen at the execution site. The last kind was themost difficult to handle. Aware of the death sentence, the prisonerwas very calm and said nothing, then something would surely happenbefore the execution. And Sushun could be classified in the lastcategory.
Thenews of the execution of Sushun spread out fast. So people throngedto where the execution spot was set. It was always at a spaciousmarket place. All the vendors were cleared and a guillotine was setup. Behind the guillotine was a table, where the courtier would sitto oversee the execution. The place was crowded with onlookers. More people lined on either side along the route the prisoner's cartwas supposed to pass. It was not until noon that the prisoner's cartarrived at the execution spot. There were all sorts of thingscovering the cage, the cart, even on Sushun, from the vegetable bitsto broken eggs, from traces of phlegm to small stones and mud lumps. It was no wonder because all those who hated him came and those wholiked him didn't come. It was customary to behead the prisoner atnoon when the sun was at its brightest. It was superstitiouslybelieved that when the sun was shining overhead, the ghost of theprisoner when escaped from the dead body could do no harm to theexecutioner.

December 27th, 2017, 04:39 PM
Notlong after the prisoner arrived, an official came on horseback toannounce the emperor's order of execution. Sushun rejected to kneeland began to say nasty things about West Empress Dowager and Yixin. A jailer slapped hard on his face. Another kicked him behind hisknees so that he went down, but before he could fall on his stomach,the jailer who had kicked him pulled his pigtail to stop his falling,thus making him stay on his knees. Then the executioner cameforward. He didn't bring down the sharp wide-bladed sword likepeople imagined. He aimed the sharp edge of his sword behind theprisoner's neck and pushed very swiftly between two cervicalvertebrae, thus severing the head. At the same time, he kicked thebody down to elude the blood spurting out on his clothes.
Prisonwas always the worst place in the world. No matter where and when. Once in a prison, whether guilty or not, the prisoner's family mustbribe the jailers, or the prisoner would be ill-treated. Same withthe executioner. He could make the prisoner die fast or die slow.
Thenanother courtier was dispatched to the prison to announce to Duanhuaand Zaihuan that they were to put an end to their lives with theirown hands. But before he made the announcement, he had a sumptuousmeal ready to give them. The last meal for them. He sat with themand drank with them like an old friend. But at least they knew oneanother since they worked together for the same emperor. After themeal was finished, he made the announcement that they were to endtheir own lives, if necessary, with a little help from jailors. Itwas always like that that they could choose between poisoning orhanging themselves. They were locked separately in a room. In eachroom on a table there were a rope and a cup of wine with poison init. But when neither of them was willing to take his own life, thejailors had to step in to help. They were tied down on a long benchwith a very thin piece of paper over their nose and mouth. Then thejailors sprinkled water on the paper, which stuck on the face toblock the air from going in. They were smothered. It happened onNovember 8.

December 29th, 2017, 03:10 PM
Anotherorder was issued that Sushun's estate, including his personalproperties, should be confiscated. Government clerks, headed bySecretary Wenqiang, went to his residences to register all the itemsand moved them into the national treasury.
Sushunhad two sons. The elder one had been adopted by his brother Duanhua,who had been in the royal prison. Duanhua had no son of his own. Ifhe died and no one inherited his title of prince, the emperor wouldtake back the title. Therefore, Duanhua had adopted his brother,Sushun's, son. Since Duanhua had followed the late emperor to theSummer Palace, the son had been living with his brother in Sushun'sresidence. Secretary Wenqiang knew the situation and sent the twosons to live at Duanhua's place, because this residence would beconfiscated and given to another courtier, who should have made greatcontributions to the empire to deserve it. The sons were allowed totake whatever they liked, besides their personal belongings. Whilethe sons were picking things, some servants and maids also picked upsome valuables furtively and slipped them into their pockets. Eventhe tutor of the sons joined in the stealthy plundering. His servantsand maids were dismissed with some money and their own belongings. His family members were moved to smaller houses with enough means tolive on. This was lenient. The severe one could be that his familymembers became the slaves for heavy toil or even were executedtogether.

January 3rd, 2018, 02:58 PM
Alot of letters were found in Sushun's study. When Sushun had been inpower, many officials and officers had written to him to vie into hisfavor. Some of his faithful followers had even implied in theirletters that Sushun should have usurped the throne. SecretaryWenqiang knew that these letters were top secrets. If the contentsof these letters were known to the public, it would put thegovernment in a dilemma. So Secretary Wenqiang handled the mattervery carefully. He wrapped up these letters himself into a packageand took it to see Yixin. Yixin called for all the members of theBureau and they discussed how to dispose of them. They thought thatit was impossible to punish everyone who had had correspondence withSushun. It would involve too many courtiers. It would cause greatpanic among courtiers. So the best way was to burn all the lettersas if they never existed. The empress dowagers gave their assent tothe decision. The letters were burned publicly among the courtiers.
Thenthere was another order for the other five counselors. The lateemperor's brother-in-law was pardoned, because everyone knew he wasinnocent. Others were removed from office and would never beemployed again by the government. One of the other four was banishedto a distant province, because he worked the longest as a secretaryof state, but could not stand up against Sushun.
WestEmpress Dowager resented Tu Han, also a counselor, who had oftencontradicted her when they had been in the Summer Palace. But shehad to go easy with him, because his father had been the head tutorof the late emperor and East Empress Dowager forgave him on accountof that. So West Empress Dowager couldn't insist on a severepunishment as the late emperor had been her husband, too. The wheelof destiny turns around the human relationship.
Whena formal statement about who were the new secretaries was made knownto the public, both the courtiers and people at large welcomed it.When the late emperor hadn't appointed his own brother one of thecounselors, many had held the view that it had been unfair and therecent appointment of him as the head secretary was thought of by thepeople as amends. Yihuan, his brother, was now in charge of thegarrison troops of the Forbidden City. It was just the job after hisheart. The dream of his childhood came true now. He had alwayswished to be a general or a commander.

January 5th, 2018, 02:41 PM
Chapter 18

Therewas another tradition that everything the late emperor had used mustbe either given to the courtiers as mementos or burned. So almosteverything was given to certain courtiers, four items each, evenincluding clothes and shoes. A list was made who could be given thelate emperor's things. Some special ones, like Yixin, got more thanfour. But the courtiers, who got the late emperor's things, could notuse them. They should be displayed as an honor from the emperor.
Thena red-letter day was chosen to carry the late emperor's coffin to histomb and was interred there. It was said that every emperor's tomb,no matter of which dynasty, was always equipped with arrows, swordsand other defensive devices to prevent any unauthorized entry tosteal valuables buried there. And the door into the tomb should bekept as a top secret and the tomb builders who knew the secret wereburied alive in the tomb.
Fromthe day the late emperor died till the hundredth day, all thecourtiers wore the same white linen mourning clothes. By the end ofthat period, the white clothes looked like dark gray, and shabby. Asshaving was not allowed, the beard and the hair on the front halfpart of the pate were long. The courtiers looked like beggars. Thecustoms of the Mandarin Clan about the hairstyle for a male was thatthe hair on the front half part of the pate should be shaved and theback part be made into a pigtail. When the Mandarin Clan had justentered the territory of the Han Clan, they had forced the Han Clanmale to do the same. If anyone had refused, he would be beheaded,because it meant that he wouldn't accept the reign of the MandarinClan.. The slogan then was “If you want your head, you can't haveyour hair. If you want your hair, you can't have your head.” Sothe first thing every courtier did on the hundred-first day was toshave and change clothes.
Nowthe young emperor was back in the Forbidden City. The empressdowagers decided to get more tutors for him. Three more tutors wereappointed. All were scholars. The empress dowagers made Prince Weiin charge of the emperor's education. He should manage everythingconcerning the education except teaching. The most difficult taskwas how to discipline the young emperor, who was still a child. Noone should really blame the emperor except for the empress dowagers.So he decided that he would report to the empress dowagers if theyoung emperor really needed to be disciplined. But he could notreport everything trivial, or the empress dowagers would think thathe was a useless old fop. As a tradition, the emperor could havesome boy of his age as a study-mate to have lessons together, even toplay together in recesses. So Prince Wei sent his own son, Yiqiang ,as the study-mate. This was looked upon as an honor, to be able tostudy with the emperor, but the study-mate was really a scapegoat. Whenever the emperor made a mistake, his father, Prince Wei, or eventhe tutors, could scold him, since they couldn't blame the emperor.When the emperor saw that his playmate, as well as study-mate, tookthe blame for him, he would behave better or study harder. But thestudy-mate had an advantage as a scapegoat when the emperor and heboth became adults. The emperor would surely make amends for hisstudy-mate for all the undue censures he had taken for him. Theformer study-mate would get special favors from the emperor.

January 8th, 2018, 02:37 PM
WestEmpress Dowager was very eager to get the empress dowager systemgoing, but it was unsuitable to urge Yixin. So she seized everyopportunity to bestow some favors on Yixin, like to double his Princesalary. Yixin took the hint and had a meeting with all the courtierswho were familiar with the empress dowager system in the previousdynasties. In reference to all the examples in the history, theydrafted some rules about this system and handed in for the empressdowagers to approve, West Empress Dowager was not satisfied with someof the items and sent it back for the courtiers to re-draft. So thedocument was like a ball kicked up and down for several times, tillat last West Empress Dowager felt contented.
Theessential rules were that the empress dowagers could receive thegovernment officials and officers to discuss the state affairs inlieu of the emperor (The tradition was that the empress dowagerscould only see the male family members, not the male courtiers) andthat the empress dowagers decided on the appointments and removals,the promotions and demotions of all the government officials andofficers in behalf of the young emperor and that the empress dowagerscould issue orders in the name of the young emperor.
AlthoughWest Empress Dowager had some experience to handle the reports, shethought it was not enough if she wanted to rule the countryindependently. So she had some scholars to compile a book, takingall the good ruling examples from the history for her reference. West Empress Dowager knew that there had been a real empress, thefirst and the last, and therefore the sole empress in the longhistory of China. She wanted to learn from her ruling experience. When the book was finished, she ordered the scholars to be in herpresence by turns to explain to her all the texts one by one. Theywere not her tutors, though they really gave her lessons.
Anew secretarial bureau had been organized, headed by Yixin. Theemperor's coronation took place on November 11, and a ceremony forthe two empress dowagers to handle the state affairs took place onDecember 2. Every day after that, the young emperor sat on thethrone to hold court, with a desk before him. A screen, a framecovered with yellow gauze, stood behind the throne. The two empressdowagers sat behind the screen, vaguely seen through the gauze, likeflowers seen through mists, by two rows of courtiers standing infront of the emperor's desk, after the ritual of kowtows. Yixin, theyoung emperor's uncle, stood to the left of the desk.

January 10th, 2018, 03:09 PM
Ambitiouspeople always want to make things better whenever they have the powerfor the change. So did West Empress Dowager. Since a scholarcourtier had been giving her history lessons based on the book thecourtier had compiled, she had learned that most of the previousdynasties had crumbled owing to the corruptions of the officialdom.So she desired strongly to change it. She encouraged the critiqueofficials to reveal all the corruptions. Many such reports came toher notice. They all criticized Commander Shengbao, who was fightingnow in Anhui Province.
CommanderShengbao was a man of self-importance and bad temper. The only one heesteemed and obeyed had been the late Emperor Xianfeng, who hadraised him to the present position. Now Emperor Xianfeng was dead. So no one alive was worthy of his homage and absolute obedience. Helooked upon the young emperor as a mere child. He looked upon theempress dowagers as useless women. He looked upon Yixin as the onewho needed his support. Without him, how could they have got theupper hand of Sushun and other counselors? He loved the quotationfrom the Art Of War written by Sunzi, an ancient strategist andcommander, which was “When a commander is away fighting, he canignore the king's orders.” The theory was based on that the kingwas far away from the battlefield and his orders were not practicaland fit for the situation.
CommanderShengbao was deemed as a scholar-commander. He had passed thegovernment tests and had held some official positions before he hadbeen made a commander. So he despised his generals, some of themwere illiterate. He often chided them for no particular reasons. Ifany general offended him, he would have him beaten publicly. Hespent money freely. So he had to accept bribery. He always hadwomen with him wherever he went with his troops. This was reallyagainst the military law. He didn't care about law. Law was notmade for the individuals like him. Whenever he saw a beautiful womanon the way of his march, he just ordered his bodyguards to take heralong despite the family's protestation.
Theempress dowagers and Yixin were always lenient to him because of hissupport in their contention with Sushun. But the last straw came andmade the situation unbearable. There lived a landlord by the name ofMiao Peiling, who recruited and trained an army of his own, in 1856,to defend his homeland against the Nian Army. In 1857 when CommanderShengbao was sent to fight with the Nian Army in Anhui Province, Miaohad already won a reputation of bravery in combat. CommanderShengbao liked such persons and sent someone to persuade Miao to jointhe government army. He enticed Miao with the title of a general. So Miao accepted and brought his army to where Commander Shengbaocamped.

January 12th, 2018, 03:17 PM
In1860 when the foreign troops approached Peking, Commander Shengbaowas summoned there to defend the capital. He wanted Miao to go withhim, but Miao had his own plan and refused to go north with CommanderShengbao. It was because Miao looked at the situation in a wronglight and thought that Qing government would soon be overthrown. Hewished to be a warlord, having a stretch of land of his own to ruleindependently. In April of 1861, Miao began to fight openly againstthe government. In August of the same year, he took a city from thegovernment army. He sent someone to contact the Peaceful Army andinvited the Shrewdness King to come north to form an alliance. InFebruary, 1862, Shrewdness King sent a detachment north. Leader Zhangof the Nian Army joined them and the three of them attacked a townunder the government control. Qing government ordered CommanderShengbao to the rescue because Miao had been under him before hisbetrayal. Commander Chengbao wrote a letter to Miao, promising therestoration of his former title and rights if he could turn over tothe side of the government. All that time, Younger Zeng had beatenShrewdness King and occupied Anqing City. Miao thought that thePeaceful Army would soon be annihilated and Qing government was safenow. So he came to join Commander Shengbao again. CommanderShengbao kept his promise and handed in a report for that matter, butWest Empress Dowager rejected to give his former title back to himbecause of his betrayal.
ShrewdnessKing escaped and wanted to traverse the area controlled by Miao. Miao lured Shrewdness King to his camping place and detained him ashis captive. Miao gave his captive to Commander Shengbao, whoreported to West Empress Dowager and asked to escort the captive tothe capital himself, but West Empress Dowager said NO and ordered himto execute the captive immediately, which he did accordingly. ThenCommander Shengbao had the conception that Miao should be rewardedfor the capture of Shrewdness King, one of the two powerful kings ofthe Peaceful Army at the time. The most suitable reward, in hisopinion, was to give his title back. So he wrote a report to thateffect. Then a reply came, saying that Miao was pardoned for hisbetrayal, but the capture of Shrewdness King was not enough and if hecould wipe out Leader Zhang of the Nian Army, he could get back histitle. Commander Shengbao felt like he couldn't keep his promise andwas persistent by writing more than one reports, but all in vain.

January 15th, 2018, 04:37 PM
ElderZeng governed four provinces, including Anhui Province. He didn'tlike to have Commander Shengbao to stay in his governing area. AndShengbao, though a commander, had no province of his own to govern. He stayed there like a quest to assist the host to fight the rebels.He wrote to ask West Empress Dowager to make him the governor ofAnhui Province. West Empress Dowager began to dislike him for hisdisgustingly domineering attitude, and trusted him no more owing tohis relationship with Miao, who was fickle and easy to change sides. She gave the post to one of Elder Zeng's commanders and orderedCommander Shengbao to move his army to Shanxi Province to fight theHui Clan rebels. At first Commander Shengbao declined with a lameexcuse and suggested another commander to go instead, but at theinsistence of West Empress Dowager, he had to leave Anhui Provincefor Shanxi Province in August, 1862. In September, he was repulsedby the rebels. He thereby summoned Miao to Shanxi Province to helphim without even writing a report for the permission. West EmpressDowager and Yixin were shocked to find this and ordered othergovernment troops to encircle Miao's army. They feared that if Miaowould betray again and ally with Hui Clan rebels, the situation therewould be critical.
WestEmpress Dowager and Yixin wanted to deprive Shengbao of the power tocommand any troops. Shengbao was offered the position of MilitaryMinister, or if he loved money, he could be the head of the RoyalFamily Affairs Management, where there were a lot of chances to getmoney. They wanted him in the capital for fear that he might rebel,too. Nevertheless, Shengbao rebuffed either offer. He mistook itfor the ruse to allure him into the capital and kill him. Now he gothimself into the dead end. No one could save him.

January 17th, 2018, 02:50 PM
OnJanuary 22, 1863, an order was secretly dispatched to have Shengbaotaken under custody and escorted to the capital. The difficult taskwas given to a general in his area. If he did it improperly,Shengbao might actually rebel. The general moved his troops as if hewas to assault the Hui Clan rebels. All of a sudden, he closed onShengbao and surrounded his residence at night when Shengbao wasstill asleep with one of his women. As the order in the emperor'sname was read to him to remove him from his post and put him underarrest, he was frustrated like a balloon leaking. He was accused ofthe following crimes:

) Took women with him against the military law.

) Embezzled the money supposed to use for military purposes.

) Kept the wife of Shrewdness King as his concubine while she should be delivered to the government as the family member of the rebel leader.

) Took bribery from the two brothers of Shrewdness King and hid them in his army while they should be delivered to the government for execution.

WhenShengbao was arrested, most of his women deserted him and ran awaywith their own belongings. The wife of Shrewdness King remainedbecause she had nowhere to go. Shengbao was not in irons andfetters. He was carried in a palanquin just like he were still thecommander. An officer and two hundred soldiers escorted him. Thegroup proceeded very slowly. One night when they lodged in a desertedhouse in a small village, suddenly came a regiment of infantry. Theytook all the luggage belonging to Shengbao and the wife of ShrewdnessKing. Some infantrymen were recognized. Another general who hatedShengbao sent them. Shengbao was very angry. He refused to gofurther and wanted his things back. He wrote a letter to the newcommander who had been the general arresting him and was nowcommanding his army. So the commander ordered the general to returnShengbao's things. Shengbao got back his luggage, but not the wifeof Shrewdness King. The general sent these words to Shengbao, “Sinceshe was the wife of a rebel leader, I must deliver her to thegovernment.” Actually he hid her in his backroom as his ownconcubine, because the wife was so beautiful that no man would resistthe charm of her beauty.

January 19th, 2018, 03:45 PM
Thegroup reached the capital on March 23 without any further disturbanceon the way. The officer escorted Shengbao directly to the imperialprison, where only high-rank courtiers were privileged to be held. Shengbao was put in a room, not in a cell. A former private adviserof his came to see him and solaced him. His
formeradviser, Cai by name, promised to do his best to help him with hiscase as the adviser was now a critique
official. He had got this position through bribery. But before he could doanything, a report came from a general called Li. General Li hadoriginally been with the Nian Army and later had joined the PeacefulArmy under Shrewdness King. He had occupied an important townconnecting the part of the Peaceful Army north of the town and thepart of the Peaceful Army south of the town. The messages passedbetween the two parts must be through his area. Somehow, ShrewdnessKing had held him in scorn and hadn't trusted him. No trust is alwaysdangerous in politics. General Li had feared for his life. CommanderShengbao had learned his situation and persuaded him to turn over tothe government. He had been given the title of a general as areward. Since he had worked for the government, he had cut off theconnection between the two parts of the Peaceful Army. It meant alot to the war. He had always been grateful to Commander Shengbao,especially now as the cause of the Peaceful Army was sliding down theslope. He suggested in his report that he was willing to give up histitle of generalship for the pardon of Shengbao. This was reallyridiculous. But Yixin was afraid that if the government gave him aflat refusal, he might turn back to the Peaceful Army or the NianArmy. This would make a big difference in the war since he wascontrolling a geographically significant area. After a meeting amongthe secretaries, they determined to put his request in suspension forthe time being and wrote a letter to Elder Zeng. The letter advisedhim to make necessary preparations if General Li would betray thegovernment.
(Muchlater, General Li had a dispute with General Chen. As General Chenwas the favorite general of Prince Yihuan, he always got the upperhand of General Li, who was angry for the unfairness and wanted torevolt. He had a secret plan, but it leaked out. The governor ofAnhui Province knew it. He invited General Li to his place for dinnerand detained him and killed him in his back garden. Then he sentmoney to his family to assuage them. The troops of General Lidispersed. The family of the late General Li was happy and satisfiedwith the treatment, because if General Li had openly rebelled thewhole family would have been executed.)

January 22nd, 2018, 03:21 PM
CritiqueOfficial Cai was as sly as a fox. If he couldn't be sure of theresult, he wouldn't take the action. He was in no way to know theattitude of West Empress Dowager towards Shengbao. But he hadpromised and so he must do something to keep his promise if he wantedto build up his good fame. He went to see another critique official,whose brother had also been a former private adviser of Shengbao. Heconvinced that critique official to write a report to plead forShengbao. At first Yixin had wished to spare Shengbao's life. So hehad played dumb as if he had forgotten Shengbao's case. When the tworeports came, he could no longer play dumb. He had to assign PrimeMinister Zhou and Secretary Li to judge the case. They interrogatedShengbao and he pleaded for himself that he had done nothing wrong. He said, ?f I did so many things wrong, why not arrest meearlier?What a reason. But they took time to cross-question him itemby item until General Li was talked into submission and withdrew hisrequest. Then the critique official who had pleaded for Shengbao wasremoved from his office while his report was refuted.

January 24th, 2018, 03:08 PM
IfShengbao had begged for life, he might have been pardoned, since hisproblem was different from that of Sushun. However, he insulted thetwo judges by saying nasty things about them to their face. WhenPrime Minister Zhou asked him if he had taken women against theirwill, he shouted that he had also raped many women, including thefemale household of Prime Minister Zhou, because Shengbao had passedZhou's home town on his march to the war zone. In a matter of fact,Shengbao hadn't done such a thing. The reason for him to say so wasthat when Sushun had been in power, he had often bullied Zhou, whohad then been a minister. Zhou hadn't even dared to complain. Thedeath of Sushun had been achieved only under the support of Shengbao. If without Shengbao, how could Zhou become a prime minister? In hisopinion, Prime Minister Zhou should be grateful to him. How could hecome to judge him? So he said it just to vent his own anger, but itwas really against the moral standard of that time so that even Yixinwas disgusted. His behavior in the whole process of the questioningshowed that he didn't even regret for all the wrong things he haddone. If they let him live, he would still be a pest to thegovernment. Besides, West Empress Dowager persisted in death penalty. So he was sentenced to death by hanging himself. They didn't dareto execute him in public like Sushun for fear that he would cry outsome palace secrets before his head fell off.
Thereasons for West Empress Dowager to put Shengbao to death were: (1)She couldn't stand anyone to disobey her; (2) Since she haddisagreement with Yixin, she wished to remove Yixin from office at aproper time so that she could do everything her way. She feared thatYixin and Shengbao would unite against her like she and Yixin haddone against Sushun. She wanted to get rid of a potential ally ofYixin; (3) She was afraid that Shengbao might reveal some secrets inher contention with Sushun or say things disrespectful about her.

January 26th, 2018, 02:55 PM
Chapter 19

SinceConcubine Dowager Li had a daughter, West Empress Dowager would liketo have a daughter of her own, but she could never give birth to adaughter now as her emperor husband had died. Prince Yixin had adaughter, very clever and demure, one year older than the daughter ofConcubine Dowager Li and two years older than the young emperor, herson. It seemed that she was endowed with an ability of repartee. Ifshe said something, no one could contradict her. She always had afull reason, a logical reason, for whatever she said. West EmpressDowager had seen her more than once when she had come into theForbidden City with her mother on some occasions like the empressdowagers gave a feast for birthdays or festivals.
WestEmpress Dowager wanted to adopt her as her daughter. It was really afriendly gesture. But Yixin didn't like it, because he would losethe only daughter he had. He might not bear another daughter. Besides, when his daughter was made a princess, who would kowtow towhom when they met? A problem of the ritual. But he could notrefuse the good wish of West Empress Dowager.
His daughter went to live in the Forbidden City. Everyone therecalled her Big Princess, because she was the oldest among the threechildren, the emperor, the daughter of Concubine Dowager Li and her. The young emperor loved to tease the daughter of Concubine DowagerLi, but he never teased Big Princess. He respected her and alwayslistened to her.

January 29th, 2018, 02:29 PM
Onceafter they watched operas, West Empress Dowager asked Big Princess ifshe liked these operas. She replied, “I don't know how they acted,good or bad, but I don't like these operas.”
WestEmpress Dowager was surprised to hear it. She said, “I saw yousitting there attentively. If you didn't like them, you weresupposed to look fidgety.”
Butwhat she said next was more surprising for a young girl. “Howcould I sit there looking fidgety, when I accompanied EmpressDowagers watching operas?”
Itmade West Empress Dowager feel herself ridiculous with what she hadsaid. As an adult, she should know the ritual better than the younggirl. But she was not angry with her. She could never be angry withher for such a nice clever young girl.
WhenBig Princess reached the age of thirteen, West Empress Dowager wantedto find a husband for her. As her wish was known, many courtierswanted to marry their sons to Big Princess. It was not only becauseBig Princess was wise and demure, but also because the marriage tieto West Empress Dowager would greatly help the father in his officialcareer. Someone went to see Yihuan, the uncle of Big Princess, andexpressed his desire to have his son as the royal son-in-law. Hehoped that Yihuan could help him since he worked for Yihuan andalways loyal to him. Yihuan asked his wife, the sister of WestEmpress Dowager, to visit her sister in the Forbidden City and be amatchmaker. West Empress Dowager was discreet in choosing a husbandfor her daughter. She said to her sister, “I must look at the boyfirst before I can make up my mind.”

January 31st, 2018, 08:46 PM
Theyarranged that the sister and Yihuan would hold a banquet at theirresidence for the empress dowagers to come to watch some new operasand at the same time to meet the boy. On that day the meeting withthe courtiers ended early. The empress dowagers and the emperor wentto Yihuan's residence. Other princes and their families, royalcousins and their families and others belonging to the royalhousehold were invited, too. When the empress dowagers and theemperor arrived, everyone knelt in front of the gate of the residenceto welcome them. It was arranged that before the performance beganWest Empress Dowager would receive the boy privately in another room.The boy looked handsome. At the first sight West Empress Dowagerliked him, but when she asked what his name was, the boy stammered,unable to get the words out. It was not because he was nervous, butbecause he was born like that. West Empress Dowager couldn't ask himmore questions and dismissed him in disappointment. But the goodperformances cheered her up.
LaterWest Empress Dowager married Bit Princess to the son of EmperorXianfeng's brother-in-law, the one who had been a counselor and hadbeen pardoned. The son liked to study, always sat there as quiet asa mouse, reading, but not so healthy. The son was sixteen years oldthen while Big Princess was only thirteen. A few years after theygot married, the son began to be seriously sick. It was alsotuberculosis.
Oneday a celebration was going on for the birthday of West EmpressDowager. All the imperial household and royal relatives were presentfor the occasion. The husband of Princess RongAn, the daughter ofConcubine Dowager Li, was there, too. But the emperor didn't see thehusband of Princess Rongshou. (Princess Rongshou was the formal titleand Big Princess was like a nickname.) So he asked his head eunuchabout it. The head eunuch whispered to the emperor, “He's dying.”
“ButI see Big Princess is watching operas with Holy Mother EmpressDowager. In that case, why doesn't she stay at home, looking afterher husband?” The emperor asked.
“BecauseBig Princess doesn't want Holy Mother Empress Dowager to know it. Itis Holy Mother Empress Dowager who married her to that husband. Besides, today is the red-letter day, the birthday of Holy MotherEmpress Dowager. Big Princess doesn't want the sad information todampen the happy celebration. If Big Princess is absent, Holy MotherEmpress Dowager will surely ask, and the disturbing truth will comeout.”

February 2nd, 2018, 02:25 PM
Soafter the performance, the emperor took Big Princess to another roomand inquired after her husband about his sickness. Her tearstrickled down her cheeks, but she could not cry out loudly, becauseit would offend West Empress Dowager. The emperor could only saysome empty comforting words to her. Before long, her husband diedand Big Princess became a widow, but she often went to the ForbiddenCity to see West Empress Dowager.
Now,every order issued in the young emperor's name, every appointment ofofficials and officers or their removals from a post must be approvedby the two empress dowagers. They had the absolute power. Yixin wasonly an executive of their decisions. But West Empress Dowager wasnot fully satisfied. First, she had only half the power, as she wasone of the two empress dowagers. Second, Yixin was not such adesirable person as could be totally controlled. He often disagreedwith her. For they looked at things from different standpoint ofview. Part of her reason for detesting him was that Little An, asshe called her head eunuch, often spoke ill of Yixin since Yixindisliked him. Since Little An had delivered that important secretletter that had caused the downfall of Sushun, he had had full trustfrom West Empress Dowager. He had reminded West Empress Dowager ofSushun's spies among the eunuchs. These spies had been arrested andthrown into jail
Nowas West Empress Dowager's head eunuch and her favorite one, Little Andid many things against law, such as accepting bribery andinterfering where he should not poke his nose. Even the youngemperor detested him because he had little esteem for the emperor,who often vowed secretly that he would kill Little An some day. Ofcourse, Little An could never guess it. He only knew how to gain thetrust of West Empress Dowager by doing everything she liked, but inthe process he had made a lot of enemies. He often went to thepalace supplies office, of which Yixin was also in charge, with along list to demand things like plates and bowls, etc., in the nameof West Empress Dowager. Actually, by demanding things not in urgentneed, he only wanted people there to acknowledge his authority as thefavorite head eunuch of West Empress Dowager. But one day when hewent there again, Yixin was there and challenged his authority byrefusing most of the things he demanded. So at dinner that evening,he ordered the cooks to put food in coarse china bowls like thoseused by ordinary people. When West Empress Dowager asked about itout of curiosity, he reported that Yixin had refused to give him finechina bowls. Therefore, West Empress Dowager thought that Yixindespised her and got furious.

February 5th, 2018, 03:29 PM
WestEmpress Dowager often sent Little An to see her mother, bringing hersome gifts like ginseng and some edibles. Little An liked the task,because he could get some tips. Her mother now lived with one of herbrothers, who were just ordinary in many ways and no talent at all. Therefore, West Empress Dowager just conferred on each of them anhonorary title, no official positions. The brother living with hermother wanted a good official position and often begged Little An toconvey his wish to his sister, but Little An didn't dare to mentionit to West Empress Dowager. Little An knew that West Empress Dowagerwould not do that, because her brother was so dumb and would surelymake mistakes, and then what could she do with him? If she wouldn'tpunish him, all the courtiers would complain or even criticize her. If she punished him, he was her brother. She would get into aplight.
Butas the brother kept importuning him, he plucked up his courage oneday to tell West Empress Dowager that her brother desired to beappointed to a good official position. But West Empress Dowagerwarned him not to interfere with political affairs. The ancestors ofQing Dynasty had instructed that a eunuch who interfered withanything political should be put to death.
LittleAn was frustrated and decided to teach the brother of West Empressdowager a lesson. Next time when he went there, the brotherimportuned him once more. He told him that he had mentioned it tohis sister and she promised to give him a very good official positionand that he should wait patiently for the appointment to beannounced. So the brother was very happy and excited. He thankedLittle An abundantly. But the appointment never came. He sent hismother to visit his sister in the Forbidden City. When the mothersaw West Empress Dowager, she mentioned it. Deliberately WestEmpress Dowager told her mother that her brother was not a talentedman and unsuitable to any of the official positions. She told hermother to advise her brother to just enjoy his life as it was.

February 7th, 2018, 02:42 PM
Chapter 20

Thetwo important supplies for the army were provisions and arms. Sincemost weapons they were using then were swords and spears, there wasno constant need for supplement of arms. That left the provisions asthe first important thing for the army. So there was a provisionsgovernor for the rations supply to the army. Recently the presentprovisions governor died and the vacancy should be filled. WestEmpress Dowager thought of Wu Tang, who had given her family threehundred taels of silver in their time of need, albeit by mistake. She had promised her mother that if she could, she would repay himfor the favor. And now she could, but she was afraid of Yixin'sopposition. She worked out a strategy. Next day when the empressdowagers had a routine meeting with the secretaries, she suddenlyasked, “How is Wu Tang?” She meant if Wu was a capable, anupright, a good or a bad official. Wu's favor to her family had beenknown to almost all the courtiers in the central government. SoYixin knew what West Empress Dowager wanted. As Wu Tang was at thattime a good official of ability, Yixin replied, “He's good andcapable.”
“So,”said West Empress Dowager, “Why not let him take over the post ofProvisions Governor?”
“Good.”agreed East Empress Dowager who also knew the event. And all thesecretaries had no objection. So Wu was appointed ProvisionsGovernor. This job was really a challenge. West Empress Dowager onlywanted to return the favor and gave him a promotion.

* * *

February 9th, 2018, 04:41 PM
AnqingCity was strategically like the gate to Nanking City. Anyone whocould control Anqing City area could control Nanking City area. Nowthe leaders of the Peaceful Army felt that their duties were todefend what had left, especially to defend Anqing City and NankingCity. This was really a wrong strategy, but it was the history.Since Anqing City was still occupied by the Peaceful Army, thegovernment army couldn't surround Nanking City, because the PeacefulArmy in Anqing City would come to rescue by assaulting the encirclinggovernment army from behind. So Elder Zeng laid out a strategy totake Anqing City first. He gave the difficult task to anotherbrother of his, the younger Zeng as mentioned before. So thePeaceful Army exercised a stubborn and brutal resistance against thefierce attack of Xiang Army headed by Younger Zeng. Shrewdness Kinghad sent a strong reinforcement to its rescue, but had been beaten. In September 5, 1861, Xiang Army occupied Anqing City and marchedalong the Yangtze River both on land and by water to assault NankingCity, the capital of the Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom. West EmpressDowager appointed Elder Zeng as the Two River General Governor (Ageneral governor governed more than one province while a governorruled only in one province.) in total charge of the warfare againstthe Peaceful Army. Younger Zeng launched waves after waves of assailon Nanking City, which was in a crucial situation. Since ShrewdnessKing had died, Heavenly King had called for Loyalty King back to thecapital to defend it. But Loyalty King had his tactics. He led hisarmy of some ten thousands strong to advance towards Shaoxing Cityand soon took it and then occupied another city, Ningbo. ThusHangzhou City, the capital of Zhejiang Province, was exposed beforethe Peaceful Army, which surrounded it accordingly and cut off thesupply of food to the city. As the rations were scarce, almostthirty thousand people died from starvation in the city. Agovernment reinforcement army came to the rescue from anotherprovince, but was blockaded somewhere between Jiangxi Province andZhejiang Province and was at last defeated by the Peaceful Army. Hangzhou City fell into the hands of Loyalty King. Many governmenthigh-rank officials and officers either fought to death or committedsuicide, because even if they managed to flee from the war zone, theywould be arrested as cowards and probably sentence to death. That'sthe martial law. That way, they would lose both the life and thegood reputation. When they fought to death or made suicide, they hadat least a good reputation to keep as a brave person and theirfamilies could get money from the government and live easily.

February 12th, 2018, 02:56 PM
Whenthe Peaceful Army had surrounded Hangzhou City, the governor ofZhejiang Province had asked Elder Zeng to send troops to his rescue,but Zeng hadn't complied, because the governor hadn? supplied hisXiang Army with rations according to the arrangement by theSecretarial Bureau. So when Hangzhou City had been taken by LoyaltyKing, the governor had made suicide.
Thegoal of Loyalty King to attack these cities was to draw away thegovernment troops that were assailing Nanking City, thus to make thesituation there not so critical to the Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom. But in January, 1862, West Empress Dowager appointed Zuo Zongtang asthe governor of Zhejiang Province and in February Zuo led his troopsinto the province to fight the Peaceful Army. The strategy ofLoyalty King failed.
WhileGovernor Zuo took over town by town, city by city, originallyoccupied by the Peaceful Army, Loyalty King led his army towardsShanghai. West Empress Dowager wanted Younger Zeng to go to defendShanghai, but Younger Zeng wished to take Nanking City. He thoughtthat it was more important to take the capital of the PeacefulHeavenly Kingdom than to defend Shanghai. So in February WestEmpress Dowager had to order Li Hongzhuang to reinforce Shanghai. Zuoand Li were both scholars and worked under Elder Zeng and Li wasZeng's pupil. But both Zuo and Li didn's completely obey Elder Zengafter they were respectively made the governors. In March, GovernorLi organized his own army under the aid of Elder Zeng, which wasequipped with new weapons and called Huai Army.

February 14th, 2018, 02:59 PM
Somewealthy people in Shanghai were afraid of the Peaceful Army andwanted Governor Li to come as soon as possible. They rented someforeign steam ships to fetch the Huai Army. Governor Li arrived inShanghai in April and vanquished the Peaceful Army. In June GovernorZuo wiped out more of the Peaceful Army in Zhejiang Province and wasappointed General Governor of Zhejiang Province and Fujian Province.
HeavenlyKing ordered Loyalty King to come back to defend the capital. InSeptember, 1862, Loyalty King gathered all his troops of twentythousand strong and marched west to attack Younger Zeng, but couldn'tbeat him. He entered Nanking city with his troops. Meanwhile, theHuai Army continued to assault the Peaceful Army still fighting inthat area. When Loyalty King was back to the capital, he suggestedto Heavenly King that they should desert Nanking City and fight theirway out to somewhere else for further development, but Heavenly Kingrebuffed his proposal. Heavenly King didn't know anything aboutstrategies. If he was surrounded in the city, he would be like afish in a bowl waiting to be butchered. If he could fight his wayout of the encirclement, he would be like a fish in the ocean. Wrongstrategy always means failure.
Whenthe Peaceful Army had attacked Shanghai, there lived many foreigners.After the treaty had been signed in Peking as the result of theSecond Opium War, some foreigners organized armies to fight againstthe Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom for the Qing government. They helpedthe Huai Army. In November,1862, Governor Li took Suzhou City. InDecember, West Empress Dowager appointed him as the governor ofJiangsu Province. But later Suzhou city was reoccupied by AdmirationKing of the Peaceful Army.

February 16th, 2018, 03:50 PM
In1863, Wing King moved into Sichuan Province, but was defeated andkilled there by the government army. In December, 1863, AdmirationKing of the Peaceful Army in Suzhou City was betrayed and killed. InMarch, 1864, Governor Zuo took Jiaxing City and Hangzhou City, thelast two cities under the control of the Peaceful Army in thatprovince. In June 1, 1864, Heavenly King died of some kind ofdisease. (Some history book says that he committed suicide byswallowing poison in despair.) In July 19, 1864, Xiang Army explodedopen a part of the city wall and rushed in. The Peaceful Armywouldn? surrender and defend alley by alley till most of them died inthe fight. That night, disguised as soldiers of the government army,Loyalty King took the son of Heavenly King and escaped from the citygate opposite to where the government army entered. But they wereseparated in the chaos. Loyalty King hid in a temple outside thecity, but the government troops was searching everywhere and foundhim in the temple. So he was escorted to where Elder Zeng camped andwas executed there on August 7, 1864. The son of Heavenly King fledwith some of his attendants to Fujian Province. There were twodifferent rumors about what became of him. One was that he wascaptured later and killed. This digressed into another rumor thatthe boy executed was not the real son. The real son was hiddensomewhere no one could find him. The other rumor was that someattendants took him on board a steam ship and went to live in SanFrancisco and later joined the revolutionary movement.

February 19th, 2018, 02:05 PM
ThePeaceful Army was annihilated during 1864, but the Nian Army keptfighting against the government. The difficulty with the Nian Armywas that they didn't have a settlement to be surrounded. So WestEmpress Dowager ordered Elder Zeng to take over the charge to battlethe Nian Army. Elder Zeng stationed all the troops under his commandin a huge loose circle around the area that the Nian Army moved andthen shrank the circle to press the Nian Army into the focus in hopesto wipe it out in the focus. The stratagem sounded good, but it tooktime to bring it into realization. When in a long time he didn'tsend in any report of success, some critique officials handed in somecritique reports saying that Elder Zeng was trifling with his dutiesand must be removed from this post. Their deduction was based onthat since the stronger Peaceful Army had been wiped out, why thecomparatively not so strong Nian Army was still there. They thoughtthat it should be conquered by then. They didn't know that the mobileNian Army was more difficult to deal with. However, West Empress
Dowagerordered Governor Li, Elder Zeng's pupil, to take over the charge andElder Zeng to resume his former position as the Two River GeneralGovernor.
Atthat time, the Nian Army had split into two parts. The part went westwas called West Nian Army and the part left where they had been wascalled East Nian Army. Governor Li was to fight the East Nian Armyand West Empress Dowager ordered Governor Zuo to move his troops westto combat the West Nian Army. Then she gave Zuo's post to ProvisionsGovernor Wu Tang, who had at last some province to govern.
GovernorLi had to follow his tutor's tactics because the situation lookedthat way and any other strategy wouldn't work. Only now the NianArmy had split and their strength had lessened. That's an advantageto him. The East Nian Army was forced to retreat into a small areabetween two rivers, where the government army launched a suddenattack at night and annihilated the East Nian Army entirely. Now theWest Nian Army moved northbound towards the capital. Once when theygot very close to the capital, West Empress Dowager was in a panicand ordered Ronglu to bring his troops to block the advance of theWest Nian Army, which then made their way south. Part of the WestNian Army went further south and was subdued in Yangzhou City areaand its leader was executed on January 5, 1868. The other part wentto Shandong Province and was vanquished there in August of that year. The end of the Nian Army.

February 21st, 2018, 01:57 PM
Inthe north beyond the Great Wall, it was the original habitat of theMandarin Clan, where were all the tombs of the emperors of QingDynasty. There was a vast stretch of plain used as pasture forhorses. So all the horses for the government cavalry came from there. But robbers in that area also rode on horseback. They came and weregone very fast after the robbery. So they were called HorsebackRobbers. It turned out to be a real headache to the local government.When the local government got the message of their whereabouts andsent cavalry there, the horseback robbers already did their job anddisappeared. Now five hundreds of them were approached the imperialsepulchers. If any royal mausoleum was dug open and the treasureburied inside was robbed, the local government chief officials wouldall be put to death. So an urgent report came to the notice of theempress dowagers. West Empress Dowager had serious discussion withthe secretaries. As no army could be spared from the south wherebattles were still being waged against the rebellions at that time,they had to dispatch a newly trained division, which was equippedwith rifles. Prince Yihuan was in charge of this special division. Ronglu was his aide with the title of Wing General. SecretaryWenqiang proposed that he himself would head a detachment selectedfrom that division. The empress dowagers consented to his proposal. Secretary Wenqiang told Ronglu to choose the soldiers from thedivision to form a detachment.

February 23rd, 2018, 02:21 PM
Rongluwas born of Mandarin Clan. His grandfather and father both died inGuangxi Province fighting the Peaceful Army when it had just begunits mutiny. As a reward to their family and an appreciation of thefeats they had performed, Ronglu had been given a post as an officialin Construction Ministry. When Sushun had been the minister, Rongluhad nearly been put into jail under the false accusation ofembezzlement. When Wenqiang had been made the minister there, he hadgreatly appreciated the ability of Ronglu in handling the ministerialbusiness. When Prince Yihuan wanted to reorganize the specialdivision and strengthen its discipline and needed someone to helphim, Secretary Wenqiang recommended Ronglu to him. Ronglu wasappointed Wing General just like a bird needs wings. Ronglu knewwho's who and what's what in that division. That's why Wenqiang toldRonglu to form the detachment for him. He would take the detachmentto arrest horseback robbers, with Ronglu as his aide.
Asthat division was notorious for its non-discipline and inability tofight, West Empress Dowager was anxious to make sure how things stoodwith it. So she sent Little An to have a look. Little An went therein plain clothes. He saw quite a few uniformed men carrying birdcages and others eating food bought from vendors. The scene lookedlike either a market place or an amusement spot. West EmpressDowager made Secretary Wenqiang acquainted with her fear, butWenqiang soothed her by saying that it was because those men wereliving in the big city, too much luxurious things to distract themfrom their duties and if they were put in difficult conditions, theywould adjust themselves to the situation. So Secretary Wenqiang ledhis detachment to guard the mausoleums of the former emperors againstthe horseback robbers, who already ran away before the detachmentarrived. Secretary Wenqiang helped the local government toreorganized the local defensive forces and then let Ronglu takecharge of the detachment to chase the robbers. He himself came backto the capital and reported to the empress dowagers that the imperialgraves were safe now.

February 26th, 2018, 02:15 PM
Chapter 21

Theancestors of Qing Dynasty had set up a few rules to prohibit eunuchsto do certain things, like to interfere where his duties were notinvolved, to go outside the capital on whatever excuses, etc. Offense of any of the rules was penalty of death. So no eunuch inQing Dynasty dared to do anything against the rules except the twoeunuchs under the reign of West Empress Dowager. One of the twoeunuchs was Little An. The other was Li Lianying. Both were headeunuchs of West Empress Dowager. The latter succeeded the former.
LittleAn (1844-1869) had no respect not only for the young emperor but alsofor East Empress Dowager, who disliked him, but didn't want toquarrel with West Empress Dowager on account of Little An, which madeLittle An all the more arrogant and bold.
Oncewhen the late emperor was alive, his son, the future emperor, wasanswering a question put by his mother, still Concubine Yan then,Little An interrupted, which was deemed an offense, though a minorone, and which added to the detestation the son had already conceivedfor him, because Little An often interrupted when the son was talkingto his mother. Someone who hated Little An taught the son how topunish him. So this time the son yelled, “Shut up.” Everyone inthe room, the maids, the eunuchs, even his mother, were surprised. It was not expected from a boy of six.

February 28th, 2018, 02:46 PM
LittleAn felt awkward. He forced a smile and said, “Why is Big Brother(In Qing Dynasty the emperor's sons were addressed as Brother and theson who was supposed to be the future emperor was called BigBrother.) angry with me?”
Theson pretended to be a grown-up and said, “How dare you to speak tome like that?” Then he wanted to summon the head eunuch of thepalace. It meant that he wanted to punish Little An for hisimpertinence. Little An knew that his behavior towards the emperor'sson was really against the rule. He had thought that the son wasmerely a boy. He had interrupted just to throw in some witty wordsto please the mother. But this time he was ensnared. Even ConcubineYan could not protect him when the head eunuch came. So he went downon his knees.
“Slapyour own face.” The boy got angry and ordered. Concubine Yan couldnot say anything in his behalf since he made the wrong move in frontof so many people. And it was an obvious offense. Therefore, hecould not but slap his own face.
“Slaphard. One hundred.” The son commanded.
Hehad to slap himself hard. Another eunuch counted till one hundred. He had to thank Big Brother for ordering him to slap himself on theface. It was also the tradition of Qing Dynasty. At night when hewent back to his own bedroom he looked at his swollen face. Hewanted to revenge on the son by saying the false things about him tohis mother. He often did it, especially after Concubine Yan becameWest Empress Dowager, to make her angry with anyone he wanted toslander.

March 2nd, 2018, 02:39 PM
AsEast Empress Dowager was not ambitious and let West Empress Dowagerhandle the state affairs, Little An was encouraged to do thingsagainst law, under the protection of West Empress Dowager. He tookbribery like he was picking apples from the tree. The place hefrequented was the Royal Family Affairs Management, because he oftenwent there to demand things for West Empress Dowager. One eveningafter West Empress Dowager went to bed, he stole out of the ForbiddenCity and dropped in there. There were already some eunuchs, minglingwith some clerks there. That was their gathering place. They drankand gambled there. Their favorite game was dice. When Little Anmade his appearance, everyone inside got on their feet to greet him. Someone asked him to sit at the table to play for a while. Generallywhen Little An played, gamblers would always let him win. Theycalled it bribery in disguise. But today, Clerk Telu, very intimatewith Little An, pulled him aside, whispering to him. They sat atanother table covered with food and wine. They drank and ate whiletalking about business. Their business was how to help some personto solve his problems and take the bribery. They even bargained howmuch the person should give them like buying things in the market.
“Somebodylikes to have a painting by West Empress Dowager.” said Clerk Telu,“He will pay fifty taels of silver.”
“Justthat? You call it business?” Little An didn't care about such asmall sum.
“What?the bonus.” Clerk Telu winked at Little An, “And here's the bigbusiness.”
OfficialZhao had had an assignment to collect taxes and would have sent thecompleted collection to the South River Camp as a military support.Then the South River Camp had been vanquished and the commander haddied. He should have sent the collection to Elder Zeng, who had beenmade a general governor. A general governor was above other governorsin rank and governed more than one province. Elder Zeng had been putin charge of four provinces, where the Peaceful Army had still beenfighting at that time. There were two rivers in this area. So histitle was Two River General Governor.

March 5th, 2018, 02:17 PM
OfficialZhao had had a blackmailing and embezzling case against him and hadbeen wanted by the local government. He had hidden in Peking eversince. Now after so many years, although his case was still open, noone would really look for him. However, he could not always stay inhiding. He wanted to bribe someone powerful enough to close his caseand better to get him a position like a mayor in a rich town. Butfirst he wanted to wash himself clean of the dirt. His exact words.
“He'sa clever guy, hiding in the capital.” commented Little An, “Whowill notice him in this big city?”
“Heis willing to pay twenty thousand taels of silver when it's done.”Clerk Telu revealed with an alluring smile like a real businessman.
Twentythousand taels was not a small sum. Little An's heart beat a bitfaster as if he were having a palpitation. Being always at the sideof West Empress Dowager when she was reading reports, Little An wasfamiliar with procedures how these things were handled. He knew thatthe case must be closed first, and after that, the assignment. Toachieve this, someone relevant to his case should send in a reportabout the case. Then he could do something to make the case closed.But as far as Little An could remember, all the high-rank officialsrelated to the case were dead. So he asked Clerk Telu whether theguy had joined the army. The reply was in negative. He knew that ifthe guy had been in the army, he would have had his share of somekinds of rewards, which could be used to offset his offenses.

March 7th, 2018, 02:54 PM
Nowfor twenty thousand taels of silver, he had to cudgel his brains.Suddenly he thought of Wu Tang, the Provisions Governor, who did nothave a province to govern and whose responsibilities were to gatherprovisions for the government army. Provisions governor Wu was WestEmpress Dowager's favorite governor. If he could write a report andthrow in a few good words for the guy, everything would be fine. Sohe mentioned Provisions Governor Wu to Clerk Telu, who shook hishead, saying that it was Provisions Governor Wu who had wanted him. Now the real problem. But he saw in his mind's eye the moneydangling before his face. (At that time in China, there were manyMoney Shops, just like banks in the western countries. They took inthe silver taels and wrote out slips of paper called Silver Notes,bearing the sum: ten taels, twenty taels, fifty taels, hundred taels,thousand taels or larger numbers as needed, just like banknotes. Ifany customer liked, he could cash the silver any time.)
ThenClerk Telu made an arrangement for Little An to meet the guy in hishouse. When Little An arrived, the guy was not there yet. Clerk Telusaid, “I've told him to come a bit late. So we can talk.”
“Whatabout?” asked Little An.
“told him to bring a down-payment of 1000 taels.” He smiled toLittle An.
“Thatsounds great.Little An smiled back. They could understand each otherthrough their smiles.
“Butwhen the guy comes, Second Esquire An'd better tell him some palacesecrets so that he will have confidence that I've found him the rightperson to solve his problems.” (We have in Chinese all the words touse to respectfully address people of different social status, but Ican't find a corresponding word in English for the Chinese word touse here. I have to borrow the word Esquire for the purpose. Theordinal number used here before Esquire denotes that Little An wasthe second son in his family. If people met his eldest brother, theywould address him as First Esquire An. If he was the only son in thefamily, we don't need to add an ordinal number before that.)

March 9th, 2018, 02:31 PM
“Noproblem. All here.” Little An patted on his own head to show thatall such knowledge was in here.
Whenthe guy came, Clerk Telu made the introduction. “This is SecondEsquire An, the superintendent of West Empress Dowager. (Little Anwas really the head eunuch. But no one would mention the word eunuchdirectly before one. So Clerk Telu used the word superintendentinstead.) The guy put his left foot half a step backward and benthis right knee half way down (the left knee was naturally bent, too)with his right arm straight downward, the finger tips almost touchingthe floor, an act of salute of a subordinate to his superiors in QingDynasty, while saying, “Superintendent An!” Little An just noddedhis acknowledgment as if that guy was really his immediatesubordinate. Then Clerk Telu turned to Little An, saying, “This isFourth Esquire Zhao.(He was the fourth son of his family. Because hewas an official, Clerk Telu must call him Esquire, too.) The guyinterrupted hastily, “Just call me Fourth Zhao.” (This was toshow his modesty. Anyone who could call him fourth Zhao was eitherhis elders, or his superiors, or his intimate friends, somewhat likein English to use just the first name.) Then they sat down to dinner. They talked while eating.
“It'syour luck that I can invite Superintendent An here. SuperintendentAn is very busy, seldom free. Can Superintendent An tell ussomething about West Empress Dowager to open our eyes, or shall I sayto open our ears?” Clerk Telu wanted to be witty to show hisintimacy with Little An.

March 12th, 2018, 01:56 PM
SoLittle An told them how West Empress Dowager had sent him on alife-and-death errand to carry a secret letter to the capital and howthey (Little An meant that he had had a part in it.) had brought downthe counselors from power. Even Clerk Telu didn't know it as he wasworking so close to the Forbidden City. Both the listeners showedmore esteem than he deserved. After a few cups of wine (No glass yetat that time. A china cup was used to hold wine), Little An began tobrag how powerful he was, being the favorite eunuch of West EmpressDowager, which gave the guy more confidence than he really felt.After dinner, Clerk Telu made the guy tell Little An directly abouthis problems and requests, which Little An had already known fromClerk Telu. But It was the procedures. When the recap finished,Clerk Telu pulled Little An aside to consult each other. Since theguy was an official, he should know such things and they couldn'tpull the wool over his eyes. They should at least hint to himthrough which channel they would manage his problems. Clerk Teluwanted to mention somebody working in the Secretarial Bureau, butLittle An objected to it. He feared that if word got out, Yixinwould want his skin. He decided to mention Provisions Governor WuTang, because if word spread into his ears, he didn't dare to sayanything since he owed everything he had got to West Empress Dowagerand he was her head eunuch.
Butthe name of Provisions Governor Wu made the guy nervous and hequavered out his fear, “His Excellency Wu is the person who wantsme. If His Excellency Wu knows where I am, His Excellency Wu willhave me arrested.”
“Don'tworry.” Little An soothed him. “I will manage it. You just waitand see.” By now everyone in the officialdom had known thatProvisions Governor Wu was West Empress Dowager's favorite because ofthe good turn his servant had done for him by mistake to her familymany years before. The guy thought that Provisions Governor Wucouldn't reject anything demanded by West Empress Dowager, but hedidn't know that Little An never dared to mention such a thing toWest Empress Dowager. He planned to achieve it all by himself, inthe name of West Empress Dowager. The guy did bring a Silver Note ofone thousand taels and gave it to Little An as down-payment.

March 14th, 2018, 01:36 PM
LittleAn was not contented with twenty thousand taels. He said to ClerkTelu, “You tell the guy if he pays thirty thousand taels, I'll gethim a very gook position?” Clerk Telu said, “Sure. I'll let himknow.” Next day when they met, Clerk Telu informed, “The guy saidokay. But he doesn't have so much money in hand right now. He mustborrow and will pay when he gets the appointment notice anddocuments.” Little An knew that the guy didn't trust in him. Hereally wanted to wait and see. Then Clerk Telu was saying somethingwhile he was indulging in his own contemplation. He gathered himselfand listened. . . . “That the one thousand taels is the festivalgift, not the down-payment. If we can't succeed, we don't need toreturn it.”
NowLittle An put on his thinking cap. He should make a plan how to getthe deal done. It was not everyday that he could earn thirtythousand taels of silver. His monthly salary was only twenty taels. But there was a rule in the Forbidden City that a eunuch or a maidcould get fined for breaking something or making some offense. Thefine would be deducted from the salary. But they had free board andfood.
Thereputation of Provisions Governor Wu was not so good recently thatWest Empress Dowager often got reports of criticisms of him, but sheflooded them to protect him. (To flood a report meant that theemperor, now the empress dowagers, kept a report, which might causesome unnecessary trouble. Generally after the emperor, now theempress dowagers, read the report, it must go to the SecretarialBureau for discussion and the secretaries would suggest whatdecisions should be made. When a report was flooded, it would not goto the Secretarial Bureau and no result would come for it.) LittleAn knew all this. He went to the Internal Registrar to make copiesof them. (All the reports that came in must be registered there. The records showed who handed in the reports to criticize whom forwhat reasons.) Little An thought that if Provisions Governor Wubecame aware how West Empress Dowager had protected him, he would doanything as she wished, or he wished in her name. But how could heget the message over to Provisions Governor Wu? Before long, anopportunity presented itself to him.

March 16th, 2018, 02:01 PM
Thecalendar showed that it would soon be another Chinese New Year, thegrandest festival in a year. The festival gifts were on the way. All the high-rank officials in the provinces would send gifts to theempress dowagers and the emperor, to all the princes, to theministers, or to those for potential help that might be needed in thefuture. Special presents were sent to those with specialrelationship.
Oneday, West Empress Dowager dispatched Little An to her mother's houseto bring her some festival gifts. There Little An met a messengerfrom Provisions Governor Wu, who sent to the mother of West EmpressDowager one hundred thousand taels of silver in Sliver Notes everyyear as his gratitude to West Empress Dowager. The messenger knewLittle An by fame and was very much polite to him. Little An hadn'tthought that he would have met the messenger of Provisions GovernorWu, or he could carry out his plan. And now he wasn't prepared yet. So he just made some social remarks and left.
Hewas a guy who could scheme. He should really have gone to join thearmy and would some day have become a great reputed strategist. Butnow he couldn't anymore even if he wanted, since he had lost hisdick. If a guy without a dick should have been a commander, all thegenerals would have resigned for shame to be fighting under him. Anyway, he was struck with a good notion.
Whenhe returned to the Forbidden City, he informed West Empress Dowagerof the encounter with the messenger from Provisions Governor Wu,adding that the messenger had wanted to get in touch with him.
“Whatfor?” West Empress Dowager doubted.
“It'snot I, Empress Dowager's slave, he wants to seek. He only wants meto deliver a message to Empress Dowager from His Excellency Wu.” Hewas the greatest liar. Even a lie-detector would fail its function.
“What'sit?West Empress Dowager was interested.
“HisExcellency Wu desires to know what special things Empress Dowagerwants in his area.”
“He'ssuch a nice person. Always think of me.” West Empress Dowager waspleased.
“EmpressDowager'd better ask for something, anything, so that His ExcellencyWu won't feel that his offer of gratitude is ignored.”

March 21st, 2018, 01:31 PM
“That'sright. Let him get some embroidered silk stuff with new patterns inSuzhou City. Suzhou City is also famous for its embroidery, known asSu Embroidery. Its typical Chinese gardens with grottos andpavilions are well known in the world.
NowLittle An got a theme and could write a good composition. He couldopenly go to see the messenger without anyone to surmise what wasgoing on between them. For one of the ancestral rules for eunuchswas to ban them from contacting any officials without an assignedtask from any of the imperial family members. The purpose was toprevent eunuchs from doing anything illegal. The lesson had beenlearned from the previous Ming Dynasty.
LittleAn let Clerk Telu notify the messenger to meet him in his house. Next day, as the messenger didn't know where Little An's house was,Clerk Telu had to take him there and left him with Little An topretend that he knew nothing about the whole business. Little An waspolite to the messenger. At that time, the attitude of one persontowards another depended on who wanted to ask a favor of whom. Theone to have a favor to ask was always polite, or even pleasing, andviceversa. Little An was a difficult person to deal with, given his attitudeeven towards the young emperor. The promise of thirty thousand taelsof silver did away with his arrogance.
Afterthe exchange of a few social words Little An took out a piece ofpaper, listing on it the things West Empress Dowager wanted. Then helowered his voice, “Empress Dowager has another wish. Someone mustknow the brother of Empress Dowager.” He told the messenger aboutthe whole story and then mentioned the name of the person and hisrequest, adding, “If His Excellency Wu can send in a report toclose his case, the brother of Empress Dowager will think it as afavor done to himself.” He implied that it would certainly pleaseWest Empress Dowager, too. When the messenger took his leave, LittleAn suddenly produced from his inner pocket a big envelope and handedit to him, saying, “It's important to give this letter directly toHis Excellency Wu.” The messenger nodded and stuffed the letter inhis inner pocket together with the list. Little An saw him to thedoor of his house. In the envelope were all the copies of thecritique reports against Provisions Governor Wu and a memo about thecase of Official Zhao.

March 23rd, 2018, 01:47 PM
SinceLittle An had met the messenger, he had been expecting a response. As a matter of fact, he had been expecting the thirty thousand taels. One day after a month, the messenger came again. He delivered toLittle An's home some special food as a small gift from ProvisionsGovernor Wu. The gift was meant as a message that the response fromProvisions Governor Wu came. Then the messenger went to see ClericalOfficial Fang of the Secretarial Bureau, who was a good friend ofProvisions Governor Wu. As Clerical Official Fang was at work, themessenger left a small gift together with a large envelope at hishome. When Fang came back from work in the evening, he noticed thetwo things. He read the letter, then the memo that was enclosed inthe envelope. The letter said that he (Provisions Governor Wu) hadbuilt up the case against Official Zhao, who was really a corruptofficial, and he couldn't now write a report to say that OfficialZhao was innocent. He hinted in the letter that this was the wish ofWest Empress Dowager. But he could not contradict himself. Hedidn't know what to do and needed his help. At the end of the letterhe asked Fang to keep it as a secret.
ClericalOfficial Fang sent for the messenger. He wanted to know the details. The messenger came and told Fang how Little An had come to him andput up such a request. Now Fang understood that it was all LittleAn's monkey business. It wasn't the first time that Little An didsuch things in the name of West Empress Dowager. So he wrote aletter of reply to Provisions Governor Wu and told him to ignore thewhole thing.
Asthe messenger didn't come to tell Little An what he wanted to know,Little An had to seek him out. The messenger said as he had beentaught by Provisions Governor Wu, “His Excellency Wu has askedsomeone to handle the matter for him.” How could a governor asksomeone else to write a report in the name of that someone else? Such a report should be written by himself. Little An sensed badomen.

March 26th, 2018, 01:06 PM
Laterwhen Clerk Telu learned that Clerical Official Fang got a letter fromProvisions Governor Wu, he said to Little An when they met in theevening, “I think it was screwed up. If they want me to tell themwhere to find Official Zhao, what should I say? I got into a realtrouble.” Little An consoled him, “Don't worry. I'll take careof it.” But he was in a panic himself. What if West Empress Dowagergot the wind of it? Would she forgive him this time? Then hethought that he'd better go to pay a visit to Clerical Official Fangto learn something from him. Generally, Little An had no respect forclerical officials in the Secretarial Bureau, because they were notof a high rank. But today, he addressed him as Esquire Fang. Fangdidn't think high of Little An, but he didn't want to offend him. Sohe told Little An that Provisions Governor Wu couldn't contradicthimself by writing such a report unless West Empress Dowager orderedhim to do so. (Implied not through you, Little An.) Then he added,“But His Excellency Wu will let him go without officially closingthe case. We don't want to know where he is or what he's doing.”So saying, Fang gave the memo back to Little An. The gesture meant:forget it. Nothing happened. Little An was let off the hook and feltat rest.
Nextevening when Little An met Clerk Telu, he said, “He didn't screw upthe matter entirely. At least we got half of it done.” Clerk Teluwas bewildered and queried, “How so?” Little An told him theresult of his meeting with Clerical Official Fang, adding, “The guywanted us to wash him clean. Now we got him out of the dirt. That'shalf done.” Clerk Telu knew that Little An wanted half the money. Clerk Telu promised to ask the guy for it.

March 28th, 2018, 01:06 PM
Twodays later, someone came from the Royal Family Affairs Management andwanted to see Little An, who thought that it must be Clerk Telucoming with the money. But it was another clerk, saying that PrinceYixin wanted to see him. Little An's heart jumped wildly against hisrib cage. He felt like to swoon. He followed the clerk to the RoyalFamily Affairs Management, from where Yixin had sent for him. Yixinwas in charge of that management, too. Little An kowtowed beforeYixin, who didn't bid him to stand up. Generally he would bid anyoneto stand up after he kowtowed to him, but not this time. So Little Anprostrated there. Yixin began to censure him for all the unlawfulthings he had done. He reprimanded him for almost half an hour andthen bade him to leave, with the last warning that if he did any suchthings again, he would be punished severely. He just nodded andleft.
Nowalmost everyone knew that Little An had been scolded by Prince Yixin. He felt humiliated and swore his revenge. A bad news awaited himwhen he met Clerk Telu in the evening. Official Zhao was afraid thatthings might change since Prince Yixin had known it. So he refusedeven to pay half of the money until his problem was really solved. Little An hated Yixin all the more.
EvenWest Empress Dowager knew that he had been scolded by Yixin, but hadno idea of what was the reason of it. So Little An grasped thechance to slander Yixin. He told West Empress Dowager that Yixindidn't really blame him. He was only a eunuch, not even worth thetime for a prince to blame him. Yixin really blamed West EmpressDowager for her squandering of money. This really piqued WestEmpress Dowager. Now an opera would be on soon. Little An would bethe happy audience.

March 30th, 2018, 01:35 PM
Chapter 22

Atlast the rupture in the relationship between West Empress Dowager andYixin broke out in the open. It was caused by Critique Official Caiwho sent in a report of accusation, saying that Yixin was haughty,took bribery, aspired after absolute power and had unequal treatmentsof courtiers. At the end of his report he suggested to remove Yixinfrom power and appointed Yihuan (Yixin's brother and thebrother-in-law of West Empress Dowager) as the head of SecretarialBureau.
CritiqueOfficial Cai was a man as sly as a fox and as greedy as a wolf. Hewas not contented with his present position. He wanted to have apromotion. Who could give him a promotion? West Empress Dowager. He wanted to do something to please her. As he learned that WestEmpress Dowager was displeased with Yixin, he looked upon it as hischance. But he didn't want to do anything rash. He wished to makesure through Little An, but Little An didn't want to be seen withhim. He didn't want to be directly involved, lest Yixin should beangry with him and take it all out on him when West Empress Dowagerdid give Yixin beans. Through a detour, Little An gave CritiqueOfficial Cai an affirmative hint and an encouragement. At the sametime Little An assured Cai that he would save him if Yixin wanted hishead. In fact a critique official would never be beheaded forwriting a critique report. It was protected by law and tradition.
NowCritique Official Cai took pains to choose the right words while hewas drafting the report. Every word should have the right weight sothat when it hit, it could make a dent. The collective weight of allthe words could knock over the powerful man. When he finished thedrafting, he read through it several times and made a couple ofchanges. Then he copied it in a formal writing pattern. He spent awhole night on it and handed it in next day.

April 2nd, 2018, 01:22 PM
WestEmpress Dowager didn't expect to read such a report when she cameacross it, but she felt that it scratched right on her itching spot. She knew Yixin had many followers like a huge tree with deep roots inthe ground. She needed an ally. So she went to see East EmpressDowager and showed her the critique report, adding, “If we don'tpull him back now, he'll go over the edge of the cliff.” From thereport East Empress Dowager thought that Yixin had really made allthe offenses accused and so she agreed with West Empress Dowager.
“We'llremove him from all his offices to teach him a lesson.” suggestedWest Empress Dowager.
“Dowe really need to do that?” East Empress Dowager doubted.
“Willhe listen to you if you tell him not to do such things?” pressedWest Empress Dowager.
“I'mnot sure.” East Empress Dowager remembered having witnessed Yixin'scontradiction of what West Empress Dowager had said. So they decidedthat if Yixin didn't take their advice, they had to remove him frompower as a lesson to him. In the opinion of East Empress Dowager,they would play a take-away-and-give-back game with Yixin so that hecould learn the lesson, but West Empress Dowager wanted to removeYixin for good.
WestEmpress Dowager told Yixin on March 30, 1865, that some critiqueofficial sent in a report accusing him of certain things. Yixin wasso surprised that he asked who had accused him. West Empress Dowagergave him the name: Critique Official Cai, who had been a privateadviser of Commander Shengbao. After the arrest of Shengbao, Cai hadcome to the capital and got a position as Critique Official throughbribery.
“He'snot a good official. He has still a case of cheating against him inSichuan Province. He should be under arrest.” said Yixin while bytradition he should say, “I know I'm wrong. I deserve to beexecuted.” And he must kneel and kowtow to beg pardon.

April 4th, 2018, 12:58 PM
WestEmpress Dowager was infuriated at his attitude. It was really anexample of hauteur and no decorum toward her. She convened PrimeMinister Zhou and other high rank courtiers. She had believed thatPrime Minister Zhou would have sided with her since he had done so inher struggle for power with Sushun. When she told them to discusswhat punishment should be inflicted on Yixin, all the courtiers werestunned. At that time, rebellions were not yet entirely eliminatedthroughout the country. The situation required unison and unity inthe ruling group. So none said anything.
WestEmpress Dowager got angry and commanded Prime Minister Zhou to givehis opinion. He could not but promise to discuss it with othercourtiers. They were only then allowed to withdraw to their restingroom. She knew now that Prime Minister Zhou was Yixin's follower. At that time he had sided with Yixin, not with her. So she addedanother Prime Minister Woren to the list of those handling Yixin'scase.
PrimeMinister Woren was known to be conservative. He hated anything newand modern. He hated the foreigners. Therefore, he had no opinion ofYixin since he had been dealing with foreigners in the negotiationduring the war and in the diplomatic affairs later. He was the onewith the same aim as West Empress Dowager and wanted to ax down Yixinfrom power.
Notwithstanding,on April 1, when West Empress Dowager received prime ministers Zhouand Woren and others, she declared her decision to remove Yixin fromall his offices. Once when Yixin had argued with her, she hadthreatened him with it. But Yixin had replied that she could havedone so, but he was still a prince by birth and she could never havedeprived him of this title.

April 6th, 2018, 01:30 PM
WestEmpress Dowager always resented Yixin's impertinence and disrespectto her. Now it was the opportunity to let him know her authority asan empress dowager. She wanted him to obey her. She wanted everyoneto obey her. She wanted to enjoy herself in the absolute power.
Theprime ministers then called for Critique Official Cai to provideevidence for his accusation of Yixin. But he said he had noevidence. He had made the accusation from gossip and rumor. WhenPrime Minister Woren asked from whom he had heard the rumor, Caimentioned two names. The two officials he mentioned worked inJudicial Ministry and were then summoned before the prime ministersand other courtiers. When they were questioned, they answered thatthey hadn't said anything to Critique Official Cai and they were noteven familiar with him. Prime Minister Zhou asked Cai, “Now whatelse do you have to say?” Cai replied, “I have nothing more tosay since they denied it.”

April 9th, 2018, 01:42 PM
However,some of the princes sent in a petition to restore Yixin to all theformer offices, saying that the accusations of the head ofSecretarial Bureau should be backed with evidence and that such animportant decision should not be made based on personal liking ordisliking and that the foreign countries might not want to talk toany other person since they knew Yixin so well and this would causeinternational trouble. West Empress Dowager hadn't thought that somany courtiers and even princes pleaded for Yixin. She knew that itwas not the right time to establish her absolute authority yet. Soshe didn't insist on her own decision and wanted the princes andcourtiers to discuss the matter. When she met other secretaries sheplacated them and said that if all the courtiers wanted Yixin stillto be the head of the Secretarial Bureau, they could hand in apetition. The secretaries were happy and went about to prepare apetition. But before the cabinet meeting to discuss the case on April4, West Empress Dowager summoned the two prime ministers and someother cabinet members and said to them that Yixin was no longersuitable to be the head of the Secretarial Bureau.
Atthe cabinet meeting when Wenqiang, who was now in charge of theSecretarial Bureau, quoted what West Empress Dowager had said tothem, the members of the cabinet were surprised to hear it. It wastotally unbelievable that West Empress Dowager could have said onething to the secretaries and another thing to the members of thecabinet. It they knew the reason for it, they wouldn't be surprised.After West Empress Dowager had met with the secretaries, Little Anreported to her that Yixin was organizing his followers to fight backwith her to the end, which was of course not true, but she believedhim and got angry again. So the group of secretaries and the group ofcabinet members called each other liars. Wenqiang said that if WestEmpress Dowager meant what she had said yesterday, she could not havesaid what the cabinet members supposed she had said this morningbefore the meeting. But a cabinet member retorted that West EmpressDowager had indeed said it, not they supposed.

April 11th, 2018, 01:21 PM
InQing Dynasty every time when the courtiers came to see the emperor,now the empress dowagers, there was someone, called Courtier BeforeThrone, who would lead the other courtiers to the throne. Yesterdayand today, the Courtier Before Throne was the eighth prince, theeighth brother of the late emperor. So both groups agreed to ask theeighth prince what West Empress Dowager had really said. The eighthprince came and gave his words of honor to assert that what WestEmpress Dowager had said yesterday was true and what she had saidthis morning was true, too. That meant that West Empress Dowager hadactually said different things on different days. Now no one couldbe sure what West Empress Dowager really wanted. So they had toadjourn the meeting.
OnApril 5, West Empress Dowager issued some orders to give some ofYixin's posts to others. (Yixin had been given a lot f positions asrewards for his help to get West Empress Dowager into power.) OnApril 8, Yihuan came back from his task to oversee the building ofthe late emperor's tomb. He had a talk with Secretary Zao, formerClerical Official Zao. He asked Zao to draft a report for him to theempress dowagers. He handed in the report, saying that Yixin haddone his duties so well and that the only fault was his attitudetowards the empress dowagers and that if the empress dowagers couldforgive him it would be a blessing to our country. The gist of thereport was to say that it was Yixin's fault, but it was not a seriousfault, only a fault of wrong attitude towards the empress dowagers. It was not proper to deprive him of power for such a minor fault.West Empress Dowager also gave this report to the cabinet fordiscussion.

April 13th, 2018, 01:33 PM
OnApril 9, at the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Woren as the chairmanbegan, “It'll take too much time for everyone to express hisopinion. So I have drafted a report. I'll read it to you and if noone disagrees, we can hand in to the empress dowagers.” PrimeMinister Zhou saw through him, understanding that he wanted everyoneto accept his opinion. So Zhou said, “We are not in a hurry.Besides, we must discuss the report with Prince Yihuan.” The ruseof Prime Minister Woren failed. Many courtiers opposed to removeYixin from the post of the head of Secretarial Bureau. Anotherprince produced a draft of his that coincided with the opinion ofmost people at the meeting. Even Prime Minister Woren had to acceptit. When the report was handed in, West Empress Dowager realizedthat if she insisted, all the courtiers might send in theirresignations. But she tried another tactics. On April 11, she gaveback only the post as the head of the Foreign Affairs Yamen sincesome of the courtiers had explained their fear that the foreigngovernments would make troubles if Yixin was no more the head thereto deal with the foreigners. Now for the second round. Till the endof April, the investigations of the accusations of Yixin had finishedand produced no evidence whatsoever. How could Yixin be punished forthe false accusations? Besides, to make it easier, Yixin resigned theposition as the head of Royal Family Affairs Management, because WestEmpress Dowager often sent Little An to go there for things and Yixinoften refused to give more than necessary. When Yixin resigned thepost, West Empress Dowager could appoint someone who would obey herand give her everything she wanted. That meant as a condition. Atthe same time the other secretaries persuaded Yixin to file in aself-criticism report. Fear of foreign aggression, realization oflittle support for her among the courtiers and submission shown byYixin, all added up softened West Empress Dowager. She yielded thistime.
OnMay 8, the empress dowagers received Yixin, who wept tears of beingwrongly accused, but the empress dowagers took it as tears ofrepentance. Even West Empress Dowager was touched and gave an orderto restore him to be the head of Secretarial Bureau. A politicalstorm subsided to everyone's relief.

April 16th, 2018, 01:47 PM
Sincea lot of water flew under the bridge, the emperor was not so youngany more. He was fifteen now. The empress dowagers began to selectthe queen and some royal concubines for him. Even weddingpreparations were slowly getting under way. That would be a grandceremony. The empress dowagers and the emperor must wear new gownswith dragons embroidered on them. Generally, these special royalapparels were sewn and embroidered in a southern province where thebest embroidery work was produced, and then transported to thecapital. All southern provinces were well-known for wealth andscenery. People in the north always envied people living in thesouth.
LittleAn thought to himself that if he could be sent there on a royalerrand, he would not only enjoy the sightseeing, but also get manyexpensive gifts from the governors and local officials. Who wouldn'twish to be in his favor as he was the favorite head eunuch of themost powerful person in the entire empire? Although there were rulesto forbid eunuchs to go out of the capital, who would say NO if WestEmpress Dowager agreed to it?
Itwas customary that whenever the royal family had things speciallymade, the expenses reported were always much higher than the realcosts. People handling the orders could make some extra money fromit. It was also an open secret.
“EmpressDowager,” Little An said to West Empress Dowager one day, “Sincethe emperor's wedding needs a lot of money, we can't let them chargeus more than necessary.”
“Howcan we do that as we don't even know the real cost of everything?”
“It'seasy. If Empress Dowager send me to oversee the work done there,I'll know how much expense they should report. With extra moneysaved, we can buy more things for the wedding.”

April 18th, 2018, 01:41 PM
WestEmpress Dowager acquiesced. So he made preparations to travel. Hewould take two huge ships to sail down south on the Grand Canal,which had been dug hundreds of years ago in Sui Dynasty and ran fromnorth to south through many provinces. One of them was ShandongProvince. The governor of that province was a brave and uprightcourtier, who hated Little An for all the bad things he had done.
LittleAn thought that it would be better if he could get the consent of theemperor to his journey to the southern provinces. But he could notjust go to ask for the permission of the emperor. He talked to theemperor's head eunuch and asked him to talk to the emperor in hisbehalf. The emperor's head eunuch hated Little An, too, because hewas loyal to the emperor. When he mentioned the request of LittleAn, the emperor asked his head eunuch what he should do, since he wasstill young and had no experience about such things. The head eunuchtold the emperor that he would say whatever was suitable to Little Anand that the emperor should pretend to know nothing of it.
WhenLittle An saw him next day and asked him what was the emperor'sattitude, the head eunuch said, “The emperor didn't say anything. Ithink he won't have any objection to it since Holy Mother EmpressDowager thinks it's all right.”
LittleAn was so excited that he bragged about his trip. Almost everyoneknew it, but none said anything to him. When Yixin knew it, he washappy. Most of the courtiers were also delighted. Those who had hadfavors from Little An didn't dare to speak to him about it. This wasreally a serious matter, which involved West Empress Dowager. Everyone knew that they should act very cautiously. A step or a wordamiss, they would be condemned. Through his head eunuch the emperorlearned everything about Little An. He sent a secret message to thegovernor of Shandong Province to instruct him to arrest and executeLittle An if he traveled through his domain.

April 18th, 2018, 01:56 PM

April 20th, 2018, 01:29 PM
Chapter 23

Sincethe defeat of the government army by the foreign troops, West EmpressDowager and Yixin had realized that they must learn from theforeigners, learn their advanced science and technology. They beganto buy guns and cannons from the merchants of the western countries.They also bought steam ships and warships. But in the long run,purchase was not a feasible way to strengthen the country. They beganto have the factories built to make these things in China. They foundthat they needed their own engineers and technicians. So they sentchildren overseas to study in the foreign countries. Elder Zeng andGovernor Li respectively had the Machine Bureau and the ManufacturingBureau set up in Shanghai. Yixin established the Foreign LanguagesSchool in Peking so that the government could have interpreters inthe diplomatic affairs and translators to render science books inother languages into Chinese. And all the science lessons could alsobe taught there. An order was issued that province governments shouldrecommend students, and young officials working in the centralgovernment could also take part in the entrance exam. All theteachers were employed from foreign countries. That is to say thatall the teachers were foreigners.

April 25th, 2018, 02:11 PM
Itis always easier said than done. The project sounded good andpromising, but many conservative courtiers were against it. PrimeMinister Woren was the most obstinate to oppose it. They hated allthe things modern and foreign. In their opinion, China was the centerof the world. How could they condescend to learn things from othercountries? Their ego was tremendous. Prime Minister Woren even said,“We can surely find men of such talents within the vast territoryof China.” As few students registered for the entrance exam, WestEmpress Dowager discussed the problem with the secretaries. They drewthe conclusion that they should make Prime Minister Woren give up hisabsurd ideas and opposition before they could succeed in the project.So West Empress Dowager ordered Prime Minister Woren to find somesuch men for the government. Woren thought that it was a practicaljoke played upon him. But he didn't take it seriously. He justreplied that he had no such persons in mind and could not recommendany. West Empress Dowager and the secretaries saw that the first netthey had cast out hadn't caught Woren. So West Empress Dowagerappointed Woren as an adviser in the Foreign Affairs Yamen. To Worenwho always held out against anything foreign, if he went even to sitin that Yamen, it would look like he was slapping his own face,because it was where the courtiers and officials had direct contactwith foreigners. So he handed in a report, saying that he was too oldto work in the Foreign Affairs Yamen. Then Yixin told him that hedidn't need to go there everyday or do any routine chores and thathis sole duty there was to give advice when needed since he was soold and full of experience from life. He just needed to accept thepost. That's it for him. Nothing more. But that was just not what hecould accept for saving his face. When Yixin pressed him again, hecould not say NO. He could not say YES. Tears trickled down hischeeks. Now the only way out for him was to send in a report ofresignation or retirement, but he wouldn't do that yet. So he had togive up the opposition. Therefore, West Empress Dowager and Yixin lethim go. Thus the voice of other courtiers against the project becamegradually mute. West Empress Dowager and the secretaries could carryout their project.

April 27th, 2018, 02:39 PM
Inthe northwest of China, there are many minorities. At that time, HuiClan had taken up arms against Qing government almost simultaneouslywith the Nian Army. The good thing was that they didn't fight theirway towards the capital. As the government was battling with both thePeaceful Army and the Nian Army, the Secretarial Bureau had had justenough forces to impede the advance of the Hui Clan rebels towardsPeking. Now as the Peaceful Army and the Nian Army no longer existed,West Empress Dowager wanted to conquer the Hui Clan rebellion. Sheappointed Governor Zuo as the General Governor of Shanxi Province andGansu Province. Before Governor Zuo went to the northwest, theempress dowagers summoned him to the capital. They wanted to have alook at him to see what kind of person he was, because he oftencompared himself to Zhuge Liang, the greatest commander andstrategist in the period of Three Kingdoms in the Chinese history.Furthermore, they wanted to talk with him about his war plan in thenorthwest.
GovernorZuo arrived in the capital and lodged in Yanliang Temple. Everytemple at that time had guest rooms. This temple had originally beenthe residence of a prince and changed later into a temple. Owing tothe location close to the Forbidden City, all the officials andofficers of the highest rank in local governments, who were summonedto see the emperor, now the empress dowagers, would lodge there.After Governor Zuo settled in the guest room, he went to visit Yixin,who held a grand dinner for him. The other guests invited were thesecretaries so that they could have a talk over the war plan.Governor Zuo was talkative and he began a long monologue about hisscheme, his analysis of the situation there and his tactics to dealwith the rebels, which was the club plus the carrot. He designed togive Hui Clan land to plough and food to eat to let them settle down.After that, if there were still rebels, he would slaughter.

April 30th, 2018, 01:12 PM
Hisanalysis was all the disadvantages: (1) Land barren and people poorthere; (2) No rivers to easily transport provisions; (3) Han Clan andHui Clan mingling together and hating each other; (4) Few cows tohelp plowing the fields, lack of seeds and agricultural tools; (5)Taxes collected there were much less than in the other provinces.Then he added, “The price of rice there is several times higherthan in the other provinces. Suppose a soldier eats two catties ofrice a day. (Catty is a Chinese weight measurement. Two cattiesequals to one kilogram.) It costs three taels of silver a month.That's what they had spent on a soldier in the southern provinces.But here with three taels a month, a soldier can only eat rice, nomeat or vegetables.” He implied that more expenses were expected.
Yixinand other secretaries all agreed with him. Then Yixin asked, “Howmuch is your budget to do all these and maintain your troops?”
“Iestimate that it will need three million five hundred thousand taelsevery year.” replied Zuo.
“Howlong do you anticipate to finish your task?
“Aboutfive years.” Governor Zuo stroked his beard.
Thecost was really skyscraping. Yixin just said, “We'll report toEmpress Dowagers and see what Empress Dowagers will say.”

May 2nd, 2018, 02:14 PM
Itwas the Mid-Autumn Festival Day that Governor Zuo went to see theempress dowagers. He felt a little nervous. He recited to himselfsilently about the rituals of behavior before the empress dowagers.The officials in the Etiquette Ministry had taught him how to behavebefore the empress dowagers according to the palace ceremony.Everyone must learn it if it was the first time to see the empressdowagers. Stepping over the threshold into the receiving room, hetook a couple of paces forward and knelt on a cushion specially putthere for him. (Only elder courtiers had such a privilege.) Then hetook off his hat, put it down on the brick floor beside him andkowtowed. He was still kept on his knees on the cushion while heanswered questions from the empress dowagers.
WestEmpress Dowager addressed him first, “You had a difficult timethese years.”
“It'sonly my duties.” Governor Zuo replied in deference.
“Iseverything fine on your way here?” West Empress Dowager wasconcerned with the general situation outside the capital.
“Itlooks quiet everywhere after the war. If people can live in peace andhave enough to eat, there won't be any rebellion.” Zuo liked to bestraight-out with anyone.
“That'swhat we are expecting. It depends on the governors.” West EmpressDowager hinted that Zuo was one to have such responsibilities.
“Howlong do you think you need to finish your task in the northwest?”said East Empress Dowager.
“Itwill take around five years to get everything thoroughly done and nopossible backfire.” Zuo said, still kneeling there. It sounded alittle boasting, but the empress dowagers were happy to hear it. Theinterview ended and Governor Zuo withdrew from the presence of theempress dowagers, but he forgot to pick up his hat on the floor.

May 4th, 2018, 02:05 PM
Whenhe got back to his lodging, a eunuch brought him some moon cakes sentby the empress dowagers as the festival gift. Then another eunuchcame carrying his forgotten hat. One of his private advisers knewthat they couldn't just take the hat back. They should buy it fromhim. It was a ridiculous custom, really a blackmail. But once acustom was established, everybody must follow it, no matter it'sreasonable or not. If they refused to pay for it, eunuchs would starta rumor, making Governor Zuo look ridiculous. After a seesawingbargain, three thousand taels were paid in silver notes. Eunuchswould divide it among them.
Followingthe departure of Governor Zuo, Governor Li arrived in the capital. To the people in Peking, Governor Li was more famous that GovernorZuo. That is, more people in the capital knew the name of GovernorLi. The purpose the empress dowagers summoned Governor Li to Pekingwas to discuss with him about the reorganization of his Huai Army. Itwas peaceful time now. No need to have so many standing armies.Governor Li was advised to keep only the young and strong and sendthe rest home. Then they wanted Governor Li to persuade Elder Zeng toaccept the position of the Governor of Zhidi Province. (ZhidiProvince is now Hebei Province.) Since Peking was located in thatprovince its governor was deemed as the leader of all the governors,including general governors. But Elder Zeng had declined, saying thathe was too old and in bad health. Elder Zeng was the most famousgovernor, his name known to almost everyone in the capital. He had avery good reputation. The empress dowagers didn't want him to retire

May 8th, 2018, 01:03 PM
WestEmpress Dowager had played a little trick on him when he had beengiven the power to command all the troops against the Peaceful Army.At that time many courtiers had been afraid that Elder Zeng mighthave turned his back against the government and overthrown QingDynasty, then declared himself to be the emperor of a new dynasty.The empress dowagers had feared it, too. So they had appointed Zuo asGovernor of Zhejiang Province and Li as Governor of Jiangsu Provinceto weaken Elder Zeng's power. Although Elder Zeng didn't manifest anydesire to be the emperor himself, some of his followers had reallytried to persuade him to do so. Zuo and Li, though had worked underElder Zeng, would never support him to be the emperor.
GovernorLi was born in Anhui Province. In 1853 when the Peaceful army hadtaken Nanking City, the emperor had given an order that anyone couldtrain people to defend themselves against the Peaceful Army. So Liwent home to train the people in his hometown. In 1858, he went tosee Elder Zeng to be his pupil and his private advisor. Then they hadsome disagreement and Li left Elder Zeng. When Xiang Army occupiedAnqing City, Li wrote a letter to congratulate Elder Zeng, who tookhim back to be his advisor again. When Elder Zeng was appointed TwoRiver General Governor, he gave Li a position till Li became thegovernor. Li was a selfish man, always thinking of himself first.Since West Empress Dowager gave him such a post as a governor, hewouldn't support Elder Zeng to be the emperor and still worked underhim. Besides, even if Elder Zeng did hold up his rebellious banneragainst Qing government, it was still a question who would have thefinal victory. Li liked one bird in hand, not two birds in the bush.

May 9th, 2018, 04:39 PM
GovernorZuo was born in Hunan Province. He had passed two government testsand lived as a tutor in his village. After the uprising of thePeaceful Army, he trained the people to defend the village. Then hewent to work under the Governor of Hunan Province in charge ofmilitary affairs. When Elder Zeng organized his army, Zuo helped himby sending him men to be trained, stuffs needed in war and money.When Elder Zeng was defeated in 1854 in his first battle with thePeaceful Army, he was so downhearted and tried to make anunsuccessful suicide. Zuo went to see him and solaced him. In May,1860, Elder Zeng sent in a report of recommendation for Zuo and thelate emperor gave Zuo a position working under Elder Zeng. Then ElderZeng let Zuo train his own army. But Zuo always had a differentopinion from Elder Zeng about the war strategies and he didn't wantElder Zeng to control him. So their relationship became tense. AsWest Empress Dowager appointed him first the governor of ZhejiangProvince and then in May, 1863, appointed him the general governor ofFujian Province and Zhejiang province, he was now equal in rank withElder Zeng. So he wouldn't support Elder Zeng to be the emperor andrule over himself again.
Urgedby the empress dowagers and the secretaries, Elder Zeng accepted theappointment of the governor of Zhidi Province. He arrived in thecapital and also took up his temporary residence in the temple. Whenpeople in Peking came to know that he would reach the capital on acertain day, many of them lined up along the route that Elder Zengwas supposed to pass. People wanted to see what he looked like. Theyalready knew Governor Zuo was a bit fat like a rich merchant andGovernor Li was tall like a strong fighter. When Elder Zeng did makehis appearance, many people were disappointed. Elder Zeng was leanand of the middle height. If not for his official clothes, he wouldcertainly be mistaken for a provincial squire. Someone in the crowdwho knew the face-reading was surprised to find that Elder Zeng couldbe a governor. According to the theory of face-reading, Elder Zengwas destined to be executed, but he was a governor now. Theexplanation was that he must have done many good things, which musthave changed his fate, though not his face.

May 11th, 2018, 01:48 PM
Duringthe interview, the empress dowagers inquired and Elder Zeng answered.He was not like Zuo, straightforward. He was an overscrupulousperson.
“Waseverything fine in the south before you left?” asked West EmpressDowager.
“Yes.Everything's in order.” Elder Zeng replied carefully.
“Howis your disarmament?” West Empress Dowager queried in a stern tone.
“Twentythousand were sent home and thirty thousand remain to bereorganized.”
“Theydidn't make things difficult for you?”
“No.They are happy to go home.”
“How'syour health?” cut in East Empress Dowager.
“Better.I think the worst is over.” Elder Zeng felt a little less nervous.
“Youstill take medicine everyday?” asked East Empress Dowager, alwayssoftly.
“Yes.”His heart beating resumed to the normal.
“Whenyou arrive in Baoding City (The capital of Zhidi Province), the firstthing is to train the local army.” said West Empress Dowager.
“Iwill. And I will strengthen the defense along the coast.”
“Ifyou need anything or have any problem, just send in a report.”
Theinterview ended. Elder Zeng kowtowed and stood up and backed out ofthe room. He left the capital next day and made his way to where hispost was as the governor of Zhidi Province.

May 14th, 2018, 02:51 PM
Chapter 24

OnAugust 13, 1869, two colossal ships sailed down the Grand Canal, withmusic floating out of the cabin and banners fluttering on the masts. On one of the banners was a picture of a three-legged bird. Therewas a story about the three-legged bird. The goddess queen kept athree-legged bird and often sent it out to gather things for her. Little An put up the banner with the implication that he was sent byWest Empress Dowager to gather whatever he could get for her, not forhimself. But he forgot that West Empress Dowager always wanted toshow that she never took things undue to her. Another wrong moveLittle An made. A fatal wrong move.
LittleAn had bought a girl from a poor family to be his wife, but he couldnot have sex with her since his genital had been cut. This absurdityhad a history of its own. It had originated from other dynasties. Aeunuch, when getting into a certain power, would have a preference tolive like a normal person. The idea of a normal person, in theirmorbid opinion, was to have a family. But no girl would marry him ashe was not really a man, lacking the body parts representing a man.He was only half a man, in the view of the other people. So a eunuchcould only buy a girl from a poor family. The girl at least wouldn'tbe starved. But some girl would rather be a nun than the wife of aeunuch. It was said that a eunuch would do nasty things to a girl toget his morbid sexual satisfaction, like biting her or clawing herskin. Poor girl. Some eunuch even adopted a son to inherit his nameand property.

May 16th, 2018, 01:37 PM
However,Little An took his wife with him. He had some attendants on board andhired some musicians to enjoy his journey. He brought some boxes fullof jewelry, some of which were stolen from the palace. He wanted tosell the jewels in the southern provinces and buy some silk stuffthere, which he would sell when he was back to the capital. He hadreally a brain for business. On his way down south, he gatheredbribery and even forced some chicken-hearted officials to give himsilver notes. When he racketeered his way into Shandong Province, hedidn't see anyone come to welcome him. The governor of ShandongProvince was an upright official. He abhorred all the evil things. Heknew all the bad things Little An had done. He had sworn that hewould kill Little An when he had the chance. Now the chance presenteditself.
Whenthe governor was reported that Little An had entered his province, heordered the mayor of the town where Little An stayed for the night toarrest him, but the mayor hesitated, being afraid of West EmpressDowager. At that time a mayor had quite a few advisers to help himmanage all kinds of things, from legal to his personal affairs.Someone advised him to take an onlooker's attitude to elude to beinvolved in this awkward matter. So the mayor found some excuse notto go. It was understood. The governor didn't resent him. Then thegovernor had to dispatch an officer to do the job. He was afraid thatif Little An got out of his domain like a fish jumping out of thenet, another governor might let him go, never dared to arrest him.
Theofficer hastened along the route Little An had taken and at lastovertook him. He went to see Little An and said to him that thegovernor invited him to his yamen (a local government administrationbuilding and the governor also lived in there).

May 18th, 2018, 01:40 PM
“Whatwill he want from me?” Little An asked the officer.
“Idon't know.” Replied the officer, “You will know when you see thegovernor.”
LittleAn thought that perhaps the governor would give him a feast and somegifts after it. So he went with the officer to see the governor, butwas immediately confined in the yamen. Then the governor orderedLittle An brought into his presence. He interrogated Little An, “doyou know that your sneaking out of the capital is against the rulesof our ancestors? How do you dare to do that?”
“I'msent by West Empress Dowager on a royal mission. I'm not sneaking outof the capital.” Little An pleaded in an angry voice.
“Ifyou are sent out by West Empress Dowager, where are the officialdocuments?”
“Idon't have any documents. But if you don't believe it, you can writeto check with West Empress Dowager. West Empress Dowager can confirmit.”

May 21st, 2018, 01:10 PM
“Everyonewho travels on an official errand should have official documents. Ifyou can't produce any documents, you are surely sneaking out.” Thenthe governor ordered his guards to put Little An into the prison,rejecting to hear his pleading any more. When Little An was put underthe custody, the governor sent an express report to the capital, tothe Secretarial Bureau, saying that a eunuch sneaked out of thecapital against the rules set up by the ancestors and should therebybe executed. But he didn't wait for a written reply from theSecretarial Bureau and just executed Little An on September 14, forfear that West Empress Dowager would order him to release Little An,who would no doubt revenge on him. But it would be fine if WestEmpress Dowager wanted to revenge on him for Little An, he had atleast already killed Little An. (Another scenario was that he waitedfor the order, which came to instruct him to execute Little An.) Whenthe jailer went to the cell that Little An was confined in, he liedto Little An, saying that the governor wanted to see him. Little Anthought that maybe West Empress Dowager had known it and ordered thegovernor to release him. Once out of the prison, the jailer didn'ttake him to see the governor. He put him into a caged cart. Little Anknew what it was and felt his whole body listless. The executionerwalked beside him. Few people were watching, because it was night.The governor didn't want any trouble and so ordered Little An to beexecuted at night.
Itwas said that he had exposed Little An's body for three days and hadhis body stripped of pants and underwear to show that Little An wasreally a eunuch. It was because there had been a rumor prevalentthat Little An had pretended to be a eunuch, but had had sex withWest Empress Dowager. That's why West Empress Dowager had indulgedhim. A rumor could never be killed by power, but by facts. Theexposure of Little An's half-naked lower torso smothered the rumoreasily. West Empress Dowager was glad and thankful when she learnedit later.

May 23rd, 2018, 01:28 PM
SinceWest Empress Dowager was sick, the report about Little An went toEast Empress Dowager, who made a decision urged by the emperor andsupported by the secretaries and many other courtiers to executeLittle An. Then when the written order drafted by the SecretarialBureau was sent to West Empress Dowager for her to use her seal onit, she was irate, but she could do nothing to stop it, because shecould not change the rules made by ancestors and furthermore, all thecourtiers demanded that the rules should be observed, or othereunuchs would follow his example. When the emperor taught by someclever official explained to her about the meaning of thethree-legged bird, adding that if she refused to execute Little An,people would think that she had really sent him to collect gifts andbribery for her, which would mar her reputation, she had to use theseal on the written order to show that she had nothing to do withLittle An sneaking out of the capital.
Thedeath of Little An provided an opportunity for Li Lianying to takehis place. Li had been in the Forbidden City for several yearsalready, but he hadn't had a chance to even appear in the presence ofWest Empress Dowager as Little An would have allowed no one tothreaten his position.
Generally,the ritual to be a eunuch was performed when really young. The older,the riskier when the genital was cut. Eunuch Li, when he got thetreatment, was already round thirty. He had been in a business andhence called Tawing Li. He liked gambling. Because of the constantloss on the gaming table, he had owed plenty of gambling debts. Hehad to leave his hometown to escape from his debtors. He traveled tothe capital. He had known some old eunuch in the Forbidden City.Since he didn't get any job, he often went to visit the old eunuchthere and learned that all the eunuchs, who had served to comb thehair of West Empress Dowager, had been either reproached or evenpunished. No one had done the job to her satisfaction yet. Tawing Lithought that as he had no work right then, why didn't he learn to bea stylist? If he could be her favorite eunuch like Little An, it wasworth the sacrifice of his dick. At least he had had some experiencein treating fur though fur was different from the hair on a humanhead. They had a little bit similarity. So he went to some brothels,not to have sex with any women there, but to learn how to do the hairbeautifully, because the women there were really the hair expertssince they always wanted to have pretty hairdo to please theirpatrons. He went there disguised as a vendor of cosmetics and flowersfor several months and learned all the tricks.

May 25th, 2018, 01:35 PM
Thenhe came to see the old eunuch and expressed his wish to be a eunuch.In astonishment, the old eunuch advised Tawing Li not to do such athing. “The risk was too great. Only one out of every ten survivedat your age.” The old eunuch said to Tawing Li. “So I'm the onealive.” Tawing Li insisted. His determination softened the oldeunuch and he took Li to see an old man. The old man was an expert.This line of work had been handed down in his family. He told Li tolie down on a wooden bed. His limbs were tied to the four corners ofthe bed. Before Li knew anything, he felt an acute pain coming fromhis crotch to his head. He fainted. The old man applied some medicineto the spot to stop the bleeding. If there was no infection before ithealed, he was safe, he said. After ten days, he went into theForbidden City as a real eunuch. He was taught all the etiquettebefore he could be recommended to West Empress Dowager as a hairstylist, which happened only after Little An died. Little An had beena fool, in his opinion, and he wouldn't be so stupid.
Nowthrough the old eunuch he made himself known to West Empress Dowagerthat he was a hair stylist. So West Empress Dowager summoned him toher presence and warned him that if he couldn't do her hair to hergratification, he would be punished for boasting. The result wasthat she was greatly satisfied with his skills in the hair styling. He became her favorite eunuch, and later her head eunuch.

May 28th, 2018, 04:18 PM
Chapter 25

ElderZeng was transferred to Zhidi Province to be the governor there. Thenew Two River General Governor was Ma, who was from a family of HuiClan, but was born in Shandong Province at the east coast of China.His ancestors had immigrated there. Ma was a man of talent. He hadfought with the Nian Army and was always victorious in the battles.So he was promoted fast. When he was appointed the Two River GeneralGovernor, he organized a new army to be trained for the use ofrifles. Every morning he would go to see his army drilling. Thesoldiers were being trained how to use rifles. He liked to watch themto hit the targets. After that, he went back to his yamen forbreakfast. His yamen was very close to the drilling ground. So hejust walked there and back. No need to ride on the horseback or in apalanquin. Only a few bodyguards escorted him.
Inthe olden China, especially in the period of later dynasties, poorpeople who were wronged or falsely accused had nowhere to complain orsue. The lowest local government would refuse their cases. So theywould do desperate things to get the wrongs righted, like to throwthemselves on the ground to block the advance of an official from ahigher local government. For example, if his case was refused by amayor, he would stop the governor by throwing himself down on hisknees on the ground before the governor's palanquin and crying, “I'mwronged! Help me to right the wrong!” A good high-rank officialwould take the person to his yamen and accept his case. A badofficial would tell his bodyguards to drive him away.
Onemorning when Governor Ma was on his way to return to his yamen, allof a sudden, a man rushed out of nowhere and threw himself on theground on his knees, crying, “Your Excellency, right the wrong forme!” But next moment, the man grabbed the right wrist of GovernorMa with his left hand and brought out a sharp dagger from inside hiscoat with his right hand, thrusting the dagger into the right side ofGovernor Ma's chest. Governor Ma cried, “It's you.” before hefell on the ground. The bodyguards caught the man on the spot.Governor Ma was carried into his bedroom and laid on his bed. Doctorswere sent for. When the bad news spread to the ears of the general ofthe city, whose duties were to defend the city, and to the ears ofthe judicial official and other officials, they all hurried to seethe governor, who was dying. The doctors arrived next, but they coulddo nothing, because the wound was fatal. Governor Ma died next day.

May 30th, 2018, 01:19 PM
Theyquestioned the killer, who was Zhang by name and was taken a prisonernow. The prisoner Zhang confessed everything, which was written downas a document. The confession narrated:
Zhangwas in the Nian Army and always wanted to turn over to thegovernment, but had no opportunity.
Mawas at that time the mayor of Hefei City in Anhui Province. Once in abattle, Ma was captured by Zhang, who didn't kill him on thecondition that Ma would help Zhang and other two men, Zao and Shi, tojoin the government army. Ma promised to persuade the governor toarrange for that. So the four of them swore to be brothers. This wasa serious event at that time. The betrayal of a sworn brother wasthought more serious than the betrayal of a friend. They decided theseniority by age. Ma was the oldest and so was the eldest brother,Zao the second, Shi the third and Zhang the youngest brother. Theylet Ma go back to Hefei City. Ma did arrange for his three swornbrothers to join the government army. Ma reorganized the turn-overtroops and made himself the leader, with the sworn brothers as hisofficers. Aided by his sworn brothers, he won quite a few battles andgot himself promoted rapidly. When the Nian Army was subdued, Ma wasalready promoted to be the financial official of Anhui Province, aposition right under the governor and above the judicial official ina province. His three sworn brothers worked under him in his yamen.It was said that Ma began to show his disdain for his sworn brothers,because he had always been a government official and the three swornbrothers had originally been rebels. It seemed as if he were on thefifteenth floor of the skyscraper while they were in the basement.
Once settling down, the second brother Zao wanted to fetch his wifehere from his home village so that they could live together. Zhangadvised him to delay a little longer lest things should change,because Zhang was a sensitive man and smelled that something was notquite right. But Zao would not listen to him and fetched his wifefrom his home village. On arriving here, Zao's wife thought itadvisable to visit Ma's wife. Unfortunately, Ma was with his wife andsaw Zao's wife. He was stunned to behold such a beautiful woman. Hebegan to plot how he could get his male body parts, the fleshycarrot, under her skirt. And Zao's wife was not a woman to hold herskirt tight. Ma and Zao's wife soon gratified each other's desire,under the rose, of course. Both adulterers looked upon Zao as aneyesore, a thorn in their flesh. Therefore, Ma often sent Zao away ona trip of business to somewhere as far as possible. The business Zaoattended to often brought him some extra money. Zao was happy for it.

June 1st, 2018, 02:40 PM
Theiraffair was gradually known. Paper can't hold fire for long, as aChinese saying goes. Everyone in the yamen didn't dare to mention itto Zao except Zhang, who could tolerate it no more. Once Zao cameback from his business tour, Zhang told him all about it, but Zaowouldn't believe him. Then by degrees, Zao knew it was the truth. Hefelt insulted and wanted to kill his wife since he didn't dare tokill Ma. Zhang said to him, “As you have no proof, if you kill yourwife, it is murder and you will be executed. It's not worth your lifeto do so. If you don't want your wife any more, you can give her toMa. Thus we can still be brothers. A man can find a wife anywhere.”Zao thought it over and felt it was a better way than to kill hiswife. So Zao found a chance to mention it to Ma, but to hisunexpectedness, Ma flared up, saying that Zao was insulting hissuperiors. When Zao told Zhang the result, Zhang knew that Zao was ina crucial danger. Zhang advised Zao to run away for safety, but Zaowould not listen to him. A few days later, Zao was dispatched onanother errand. This time he was to bring back some weaponry for theprovince government. Zhang suspected foul play on Zao's way there. Sohe and Shi escorted Zao to where his task took him, but nothinghappened all the way. Zao laughed at his two sworn brothers. So theyleft him there and went back.

June 4th, 2018, 02:05 PM
WhenZao reached the place, he was kept waiting for a long time. Then anofficer came and declared that he was under arrest. Some soldiersseized him and put him in jail. He was accused of being a spy of therebels lurking in the government and abiding for a chance to dodamage to the government. His coming for the armament was a proofthat he would take the arms to the remaining rebels. He was executedat once without even a trial. They did it by the military law. WhenZhang and Shi learned the astounding news, they realized that it wasdangerous for them to return to Ma's yamen. They thereby went theirseparate ways to hide. Shi was found later in Shanxi Province, but Madidn't take any action against him because Shi looked harmless to Maat the time. However, no one knew Zhang's whereabouts. Zhang secretedhimself in a remote small village among the mountains. He vowed toavenge on Ma for his second sworn brother. Justice must be done tothe betrayal. He was learning kungfu so that when he went to see Ma,he could succeed in his first strike. He found a sharp dagger anddipped its blade in a deadly poisonous substance. After many years ofexercising, he felt he was ready. Then he emerged from his lurkingnook like a bear coming out of a cave of its hibernation. Only hedidn't know where Ma was then. He must first seek him out. But he gotan easy task, because Ma was then the Two River General Governor.Everyone knew where his yamen was. So no need to search for him. Itsaved Zhang the trouble and time. Zhang arrived in the city andstationed himself near his yamen in disguise of a beggar to observehis comings and goings to determine when and where was the best timeand place for his deed of vengeance. He got him at long last.

June 6th, 2018, 01:32 PM
Whenthe general and the judicial official read the written confession,they felt that it would look bad to late Governor Ma and even mar hisreputation if it was known to the public. They desired to do theirlast favor to their late governor. They invented another scenario:
Zhangwas in the Peaceful Army. When the Peaceful Army failed, Zhangescaped to Ningbo City on the coast of Taiwan Channel in ZhejiangProvince. He lived there under a pseudo name and opened a pawn shop.He also did some illegal business with the pirates on the southChinese sea. At that time, Ma was the governor of Zhejiang Province.Ma ambushed and killed more than fifty pirates, many of whom were thefriends of Zhang's. This cut off Zhang's business with the pirates.He began to hold an animosity against Governor Ma. Then Governor Maconsidered that the pawn business exploited poor people and should bebanned. He put up a notice to that effect, which put Zhang out of hisbusiness. Zhang had no way to make a living and so hated Ma all themore. Besides, Zhang's wife eloped with another man and took all thejewels with her. Zhang went to Governor Ma's yamen, requesting thathis wife should be apprehended. But Governor Ma thought that this wasa trifling case and should not be handed into the governor's yamen.So he rebuffed the case, which strengthened Zhang's hostility againstGovernor Ma. Now Zhang had no family and no means for a living. If hewould die, he would die together with Governor Ma. He madepreparations. He got a sharp dagger and dipped the blade in thepoisonous substance to make it lethal. He abided for a chance nearthe governor's yamen disguised as a beggar. One morning when GovernorMa was on his way back to his yamen from the drilling ground, hedashed out and assassinated Governor Ma. This scenario made Ma looklike a good governor, even a martyr who had died on the line ofduties.

June 8th, 2018, 01:21 PM
Thescenario sounded a little absurd for the reason to kill Governor Ma.So people believed what Zhang himself had confessed. It was sodramatic with a little romance involved that it was written intooperas and plays, which were acted on the stages of Shanghai. Thename of the most popular play was “Zhang kills Ma”, which almostbroke the office box record because people thought it was based onthe facts related by Zhang himself.
Thegeneral and the judicial official knew that the invented scenariomust be signed by the prisoner Zhang himself, or it could not bereported to the central government as an official document, but Zhangrefused to sign on it. Some officials even suspected that there mightbe someone behind the assassination. It was suspected that the XiangArmy that had formed by Elder Zeng wouldn't work under Governor Ma,who was not one of the Xiang Army officials. Besides, it was knownthat Governor Ma had always been strict to or even discipline theXiang army if anyone in the Xiang Army offended law. But this was tooserious if it was the truth.
Thestory with different scenarios spread to the capital while officialreports went there too. The empress dowagers and the secretaries wereconfused with various narrations. If the assassination had reallybeen backed up by someone in the Xiang Army, it was too terrible andmeasures should be immediately taken. As the Xiang army had beenorganized by Elder Zeng, West Empress Dowager ordered Elder Zeng togo back to Nanking City to resume the post of the Two River GeneralGovernor since the position was then vacant with the death of Ma. Shealso sent the Minister of Judicial Ministry there to investigate thecase. She then moved Governor Li from other province to be theGovernor of Zhidi Province to replace Elder Zeng.

June 11th, 2018, 01:14 PM
TheMinister of Judicial Ministry was an old man, sixty-eight already. Heshould have retired. But at that time no retirement age was fixed. Itdepended on the individual who wanted to retire or not. The Ministerbrought two of his subordinate officials, who were familiar with law.The three of them had a discussion how to investigate the case. Theofficials dreaded that if the assassination was really backed up bysomeone in the Xiang Army and if their investigation got too close tothe truth, it might force the Xiang Army to revolt and it would putElder Zeng in a dilemma. So the two officials suggested that theyshould not make their investigation in that direction. The Ministerwas an upright courtier and wanted to do everything by law, but healso knew the severity of the case. If a mutiny should happen itwould disturb the peace they had just acquired and make West EmpressDowager resentful.
Buttwo officials in the local government insisted that they should getto the bottom of the case till the truth was revealed. So taking theadvice of his two officials, the minister asked the two localofficials to take part in the investigation and the interrogation.Once when they were cross-questioning the prisoner Zhang, whopersisted in his own confession, the two local officials asked totorment the prisoner so that he would tell the truth. But thedifficulty was that if they only beat the prisoner, he could surelyendure the torture and would say nothing more and if they torturedhim very severely it might cause his death. The death of a prisonerat the interrogation was a serious matter and any official whoordered the torture would be punished. So who would take theresponsibility? The minister wouldn't, because he didn't want to doit. So the two local officials could not insist. Besides, theminister was afraid what if the prisoner couldn't stand the tortureand give any names, which were really not the ones behind theassassination, but the ones the prisoner wanted to revenge on, andwhat if the prisoner even mentioned the name of Elder Zeng, though itcould not be the truth. It was really a delicate case, demandingcareful handling. At last they had to use the invented scenario asthe formal document of the interrogation without even the signatureof the prisoner. Then they sent in the report signed by both ElderZeng and the minister to West Empress Dowager with an extra noteattached to explain the dilemma. West Empress Dowager accepted thereport and explanation and ordered the prisoner executed. However,Zhang lived in the drama as a hero and the late Governor Ma as asinister and ungrateful rogue. Who wrote the history? The people orthe government?
Theminister felt that he had not performed his duties according to thelaw and his consciousness. He had done something unfit to the post ofthe minister of Judicial Ministry. He was never so frustrated that hesent in his resignation and a petition of retirement by the twoofficials, who would return to the capital. The resigned ministerwent directly back to his hometown.

June 13th, 2018, 01:46 PM
Chapter 26

Duringthe war against the Peaceful Army, Qing government had established ariverine division on the Yangtze River. It had been placed under thecommand of Elder Zeng. A general was in the direct charge of thedivision, which consisted of several battalions with an officer asthe head of a battalion. The discipline of the division was worsethan everyone could imagine. The division soldiers would take offtheir uniforms and put on plain clothes and robbed the merchant'sships on the Yangtze River of their goods and other valuables. WhenElder Zeng had been alive, West Empress Dowager and Yixin hadtolerated the conduct of the division because of Elder Zeng. NowElder Zeng died and many critique reports came to complain about theterrible discipline of the division, which demanded the attention ofWest Empress Dowager. She then appointed Deputy Minister Peng ofMilitary Ministry as a Royal Representative to investigate the case.A Royal Representative acted on behalf of the emperor and couldexecute any corrupted officials and officers in emergencies before hereported to the emperor. The ordinary procedures were that theexecution of an official or officer must be reported to the emperorand must wait to be approved by the emperor unless in the army duringthe wartime when a commander could do so without reporting first.
RoyalRepresentative Peng set out for the Yangtze River area. He wasdisguised as a countryside squire. He did look like one without hisofficial uniform on, because he was a frugal man and never woreanything in silk or brocade or satin. He started from the upperYangtze River, then downstream. Everywhere all along the YangtzeRiver, where there were the division's ships at anchor, he heard oreven saw with his own eyes that the division soldiers bullied peopleand took things from people, even their daughters and sisters.


June 15th, 2018, 01:10 PM
Pengwent to inspect a battalion and asked the officer how he drilled hismen. The officer answered with due reference, “Reply to YourExcellency, the Royal Representative, your humble servant train themhow to practice archery.” Peng was surprised to hear that. Whenevery warship was equipped with cannons, the officer still trainedhis men in archery. What's the use of that? He removed the officerfrom his post.
Oneday, he entered Zhejiang Province and anchored near Jiaxing Town,which was at the Grand Canal. He got on the shore, ensued by hispage. He sauntered on the country road, enjoying the scenery on theGrand Canal. There were weeping willow trees on either bank anddistant sails against the blue sky. On the road a boy rode on theback of a buffalo, blowing a fife. Royal Representative Peng enteredthe town by the north gate. He felt hungry and went into a waterfrontrestaurant. He found an empty table near the window and sat down. Twodivision soldiers came in and sat at the next table. While eating,Peng noticed that the two soldiers, when they finished a dish, castthe dish out of the window into the water below, because therestaurant counted the dishes served and charged the customer by thecount. The two soldiers had no dishes on their table now. They didn'tneed to pay. Peng left the restaurant after he paid for his lunch.When he was strolling in the street, he saw a big house and went in.It was an entertainment house. Someone would tell stories there. Inthe back there was a dais, on which stood a table and a chair behindit. The story-teller was supposed to sit there, narrating the story.The rest of the space was occupied by tables and benches. Listenerswould sit there. The entertainment house would sell tea and snacks tothe listeners. Generally the story-teller would recount aninteresting novel in serials such as the Three Kingdoms. He wouldchange his voice to suit the characters of the novel. He could evenimitate a female voice. Often at a very intriquing point of thestory, he would say, “Time's up today. If my respected listenerswant to know how the story will go on, please come early tomorrow.”

June 18th, 2018, 01:09 PM
Itwas almost full house. Only one table was not occupied, which was inthe middle just in front of the dais. Peng went there and sat down.All the people there stared at him in consternation. A waiter hurriedover and begged him to move, but where could he move to? This was theonly empty table in the house. Just then a battalion officer came in,followed by two soldiers. All the faces around him turned pale andthe waiter was on the brink of fainting. One of the soldiers shoutedto him, “Get away!” The other soldier cried, “How dare you!”Peng stood up and left the house.
RoyalRepresentative Peng returned to his ship and convened the mayor ofthe town. When the mayor came, he inquired him about the battalionofficer, adding, “Why didn't you punish him?
“YourExcellency, the Royal Representative, people don't dare to sue him.Your humble servant don't have any evidence against him. Once a mancame to my yamen, but next day was found killed at his home.”
Pengknew that if he sent the mayor to arrest the officer on his ship, thesoldiers might riot. So they laid out a plan. The battalion officergot an invitation from the mayor for a dinner party. The officercould not guess why the mayor wanted to give a dinner party, but hecould never refused a dinner. When he went into the yamen, it didn'tlook like to have a party. He was about to turn and leave when he wasseized by the policemen in the yamen. He was bought before Peng, whoborrowed the mayor's yamen as his interrogating place. When thebattalion officer recognized Peng, he knew his punishment was closeat hand. Only he didn't know to what extent Peng was to punish him.He kowtowed, begging for his life. Peng had his crimes enumerated andthen had him executed to the great delight of the town people.
Afterhis thorough investigation, he returned to the capital and sent in areport to West Empress Dowager, suggesting to remove the divisiongeneral and many of his battalion officers. West Empress Dowagerapproved his report and appointed a new general and many newofficers.

June 20th, 2018, 01:19 PM
Ason was born to Prince Yihuan. His wife, the son's mother, was nonethe other than the sister of West Empress Dowager. The son was laterEmperor Guangxu, who succeeded Emperor Tongzhi, the present youngemperor. Besides, he was the first cousin of the present emperor.When the boy baby was one month old, there was a feast to celebrateit. West Empress Dowager was happy to have a nephew and gave manythings as gifts. All the princes, royal relatives and high-rankcourtiers were invited. All other officials were welcome to show upat the feast. On that day the residence of Prince Yihuan was crowdedwith guests. But birds of a feather gather together. Different peoplemingled in different groups by their ranks. The princes and imperialrelations stayed together in one room. The ministers kept tothemselves in another guest room while the critique officials joinedeach other in still another room. They would be critical of othercourtiers and make fun of them in their chitchats. They would laughat the expense of other people. That's what they often did when theymet. A critique official was always learned and had a sharp tongue.
Ronglu,now promoted to be the deputy minister of Construction Ministry, wasput in charge of the arrangement for the feast. He arranged what rankof guests sat in which room. He got two opera troupes to act thereand one troupe of acrobatics for the younger guests. Tutor Li, whowas teaching the young emperor, liked to mix with the critiqueofficials, though he was also a member of the Secretarial Bureau andcould go to the room with the ministers. Many of the critiqueofficials were the famous scholars of the time. Since Tutor Li wasalso a scholar, he loved to talk about books and poetry rather thanvulgar things like food and women. When Tutor Li entered the room,they were talking about the outcome of the final government test ofthis year. Many critique officials shook their heads and sighed. Sometestees, who had passed the test, even had misspellings in their testpapers. Correct spelling was the basic requirement. When Tutor Li wastold of it, he asked how it could happen. He was surprised to knowthat most of the appointed examiners were not scholars this year. Howcould they evaluate an article on the test papers? They were notqualified for that kind of job. Although Tutor Li was made the headof the department of the critique officials, he was not bold enoughto criticize anything involving West Empress Dowager. His ambitionnow was to make the young emperor a scholar. Only a scholar couldrule a country well. But he was disappointed in the young emperor,because the emperor didn't like to study hard. The more his naturalmother, West Empress Dowager, pressed him, the stronger he detestedthe learning. Once the emperor couldn't recite a text, Tutor Licouldn't blame him. When he thought that it was deemed the neglect ofhis duties and that West Empress Dowager would blame him, his tearstrickled down his face. Only this could make the young emperor feelashamed of himself and begin to study hard.
Theempress dowagers thought that if the young emperor could have acompanion about the same age to share the classes, it would inspirehim in the studies. They decided to let Zaizhen, a son of Yixin, tobe the classmate. Zaizhen was really not a good company. He didn'tlike reading, either. But the emperor gradually liked him because heknew all sorts of things outside the Forbidden City and told theemperor about them in the recesses.

June 22nd, 2018, 01:00 PM
Chapter 27

Theemperor was grown up. He was seventeen now in the year of 1872. Theempress dowagers must return the power to the emperor to handle thestate affairs. They were no longer needed to act in his behalf. Inthe history of Qing Dynasty, the third emperor had handled the stateaffairs at the age of fourteen. If following this example, the youngemperor should have got back his power three years before. But WestEmpress Dowager wouldn't give up power so easily. She decided thatbefore they returned the power to the young emperor they shouldselect a queen for him. The power-return ceremony should be heldafter the emperor's marriage. In March, selection of candidatesbegan.
Thegirls were all selected from the families of the courtiers of theMandarin Clan and the Mongolian Clan. The tradition prohibited theemperor to even select a girl of Han Clan to be his concubine, letalone to be the queen. (Most people in China are the Han Clan. TheMandarin and the Mongolian are minorities, but the Mandarin Clan wasruling clan at that time and the Mongolian Clan was their ally.)
Manygirls about the emperor's age were selected and then were sent to thepresence of the two empress dowagers for re-selection. On that dayall the girls waited outside the Forbidden City, attired in beautifuldress. Most girls wished that they could be chosen, but some didn'twant to live like birds in a cage of a palace. They wanted to be withtheir parents and marry some boys they loved and lead a happy freelife. They had learned that living in the Forbidden City was full ofdangers. Sometimes a wrong word would cost them their lives,especially when there were empress dowagers above them.
Aftersifting, only ten finalists were left. And then among the ten onlyfour were left. Then the emperor himself would decide who among thefour girls would be the queen, another one would be the royalconcubine and the other two would be just the concubines.

June 25th, 2018, 01:33 PM
Amongthe four girls, West Empress Dowager liked the girl from FucaiFamily, who was only fourteen, but beautiful. East Empress Dowagerpreferred the girl from Alute Family, who was nineteen, two yearsolder than the emperor, but talented and demure, though not evenpretty, just ordinary. But general opinion was that an emperorshould choose his queen for her character and demureness, not for herbeauty, because many beautiful queens in the Chinese history had onlybrought destruction to the country.
Onthat important day in his life, the emperor stood before the fourgirls. He had got a hint from West Empress Dowager to choose thegirl from Fucai Family for his queen. But East Empress Dowagerthought the girl was too young to handle all the intricate things inthe Forbidden City as were the queen's responsibilities, and an olderqueen could look after the emperor and help him in many aspects. Theemperor himself was biased to that opinion and so handed the jaderuyi,an ornament and symbol for that purpose, to the girl from AluteFamily, to the unhappiness of West Empress Dowager, who thought thatEast Empress Dowager influenced the emperor for it. It was on March11.
Thefour girls were sent back home, waiting for the wedding day. A lot ofthings should be done between then and the nuptial, especially in thefuture queen's family. She must be treated as the queen sinceselected, no longer as their daughter. Any family members, ifreceived by her, must kneel and kowtow before her just like to bereceived by the emperor. At the meals, the mother should servedishes, waiting at the table like a royal maid. The future queen satthere, eating alone. She had to eat quickly so that her motherdidn't need to stand there too long. And she couldn't meet anyoneshe wanted like before, especially her brothers or young malecousins. The family received a great deal of wedding gifts, andcongratulations as well, from all other courtiers.

June 27th, 2018, 01:52 PM
OnMarch 24, the empress dowagers gave a statement that the wedding dayshould be on October 16.
OnAugust 23 and September 19, the emperor sent many wedding things tothe queen's family as tokens of wedding settlement. There were rulesset by the ancestors about what and how many wedding things should begiven. They were: two hundred taels of gold, ten thousand taels ofsilver, tea containers of gold and silver, silver cups, one thousandscrolls of brocade, twenty horses. These things were not so many aspeople would think, considering they came from the imperial family.But some things were very special. The silver pieces totaling tenthousand taels were made in a special shape, each piece containingfifty taels with dragon and phoenix carvings on the surface inrelief. The twenty horses were all white with new leather saddles,bright brass stirrups and new reins. The surprise was that the horseshad been trained to amble to the rhythm of the music. The family mustget the dowry ready before the nuptial day. According to thetradition of the Mandarin Clan, the dowry should be carried into theForbidden City before the wedding day. The dowry was divided intothree hundred and sixty packages, each with two poles attached andborne on the shoulder by two men or four men for the heavier ones.The packages were open on the top to display the contents inside.When the dowry was being carried towards the Forbidden City, crowdsafter crowds of people rushed forward to watch. They almost blockedthe streets. Soldiers were sent to maintain order. Generally theywould whip people into submission and order, but they were told thatduring these nuptial days they should not beat people. Therefore,they had to use collective strength to keep back the watchers so thatthe dowry procession could pass. Eventually the dowry procession cameand people could see the jewels, the new clothes, the curios asornaments in their rooms, and a lot of other things.

June 29th, 2018, 01:47 PM
Onthe wedding day the emperor sent a luxuriously adorned palanquin tothe queen's home. A Royal Representative went with the palanquin,carrying the queen's seal, which was made of gold. When the RoyalRepresentative arrived at the queen's home, all the household cameout to receive the queen's seal on their knees. At that time thequeen was being attired. Four ladies-in-waiting waited on the queen.One combed the queen's hair into a wedding style. Another put weddingclothes on the queen. Still another changed the queen's shoes. Thelast lady adorned the queen's face with cosmetics. Then the queencame out of her confined room ensued by the four ladies and acceptedthe seal on her knees. Then everyone kowtowed to the queen as anaction of congratulations. The queen rode in the palanquin and wascarried into the Forbidden City. Thousands of people formed theprocession, including guards, musicians, eunuchs carrying all kindsof things, and the ladies-in-waiting on horseback. The procession ledby the Royal Representative lasted miles, with many people lined onboth sides, watching. In the procession there were three hundredpairs of palace lanterns, which were lit when it grew dark. Thecollective shining of the lanterns almost paled the full moon.
Theemperor was waiting impatiently in the Forbidden City. He often askedfor what time it was. The other three girls were carried into theForbidden City with much less rituals before the queen's arrival.When the emperor was reported that his concubines were carried intothe Forbidden City one after another, he just nodded theacknowledgment. At last the bells and drums over the front gate ofthe Forbidden City sounded, announcing the arrival of the queen. Sothe emperor left his bachelor's room for the wedding room in anotherbuilding. When the queen arrived, the new royal couple went through aseries of complicated ceremonies before they were finally escorted tothe wedding room for the night.

July 2nd, 2018, 01:28 PM
Thequeen's palanquin stopped before that building. The queen was helpedout of the palanquin, with an apple in each hand. Apple in old Chinameant safety because the two words have the same pronunciations. Alady-in-waiting came up and took the apples from the queen's hands.Another lady handed to the queen a gilded bottle sealed on the mouthwith a red gauze. In the bottle there stored small pieces of gold andsilver, rubies and other gems, grains of rice and wheat. It wascalled the Treasure Bottle. Then the queen should step over a saddlewith the two apples under it. Just at that time, the emperor arrived.When the queen got at the other side of the saddle, she found herselfstanding face to face with the emperor. They kowtowed to each otheron a red rug with the loud pleasant music accompanying the ceremony.Then they should kowtow to Heaven and Earth, to the God of Longevity,After that the queen must go to kowtow to the God of Kitchen. Itmeant that the queen was to manage the cooking of the palace, thoughthe queen really never did the cooking herself. At that time theemperor retired to another room to have a rest. The queen went intothe wedding room to re-attire herself. Her hairdo was altered intoanother style more casual and fit for lying on the pillow. Herclothes were more for the comfortable wear. Then the emperor came inand other people left so that the new couple could have a heart toheart talk.
Theemperor's concubines went to see the empress dowagers first and WestEmpress Dowager was specially kind to the Royal Concubine, whom sheliked. When the queen went to see the empress dowagers next day, WestEmpress Dowager didn't even speak to her, just nodding to acknowledgeher kowtow. Everyone in the Forbidden City knew that this was a badomen. The royal wedding finished after three years of preparation andan expenditure of twenty million taels of silver.

July 4th, 2018, 01:13 PM
Aftermarriage, the emperor took over the power, namely, to read reports,make decisions and appoint officials and officers. West EmpressDowager was unwilling to entirely lose her power. She told theemperor that if he had anything important to decide on, he shouldconsult her first, because, as she said, he was not experiencedenough yet. On February 23, 1873, the emperor took over the power.
WestEmpress Dowager was unhappy because she was now retired and hadnothing better to do. Besides, she was unhappy with the queenbecause the emperor chose her against her will. Then she was fumingwhen she learned that the emperor slept with the queen almost everynight and seldom went to the chamber of the royal concubine sheliked.
Wheneverthe emperor came to pay homage to her, she would say that the emperorshould spend more time with the royal concubine. She would reproachthe queen for her indecent behavior. She even reprimanded the queento her face that she should not be jealous of others. The queenthereby advised the emperor to sleep with the royal concubine moreoften. But the emperor was furious with his mother, West EmpressDowager, for her interference with his marital life. So he stoppedaltogether going to see the royal concubine. But afraid of beingscolded by West Empress Dowager, he no longer went to the queen'schamber, either. He simply moved to sleep in his study on thepretense that he wanted more time for reading.

July 6th, 2018, 01:36 PM
Oncewhen he complained to East Empress Dowager that he was often found atfault by his own mother, East Empress Dowager said that his motherhad too much time on hand that she didn't know how to spend it andthat if he could find something for her to do, she would be happy andblame him less.
Thensome officials in charge of royal construction work, suggested to theemperor to rebuild the Round-Bright Garden, Garden Of All Gardens ascalled by the foreigners. The emperor thought it a good idea. WhenWest Empress Dowager learned it she was really delighted. But Yixinand all other courtiers opposed the notion, because the royaltreasury had no money. The work would cost at least one billiontael's worth of silver. At that time the first and foremost need ofthe dynasty was to build a navy so that they could resist any furtherinvasion from the foreign countries. But the emperor wanted toplease his mother and West Empress Dowager wanted to enjoy herself inreturn for her to give up the power. So the officials in charge ofthe royal construction work went to the site to see where the repairwas needed and to estimate the cost. They reported to the emperor,who gave the report to the secretaries for discussion. Thesecretaries replied that the government had no money for it, but theyhad no objection if the emperor could think of a way to raise money.The officials of the construction suggested to the emperor that themoney could be raised through donations. So the emperor ordered thecourtiers to donate money for it.

July 9th, 2018, 01:12 PM
Aslong as the emperor didn't demand money from the treasury Yixin saidnothing more and donated twenty thousand taels of silver. But manycourtiers refused to donate. The emperor couldn't punish all thecourtiers for that. In the end he only gathered some ten thousandtaels, a long way to the budget.
CritiqueOfficial Sun filed in a report to oppose it. The emperor got in arage and wanted to punish him so that other courtiers would be afraidto oppose his plan. He wished to know more about the critiqueofficial so that he could find some fault with him. He asked thesecretaries about him. The secretaries could guess the intention ofthe emperor. So Yixin replied that when the late emperor had escapedto the Summer Palace in Rehe, this critique official had tried asuicide by jumping into a well, but had been saved. It implied thathe was a faithful courtier to the late emperor. How could the presentemperor punish someone so loyal to the late emperor, his father? Thenanother critique official You handed in a report on the same subject.The emperor was angry, but was delighted too, because he could havesomeone to punish at last. This time, there was nothing special aboutthe critique official. So the emperor issued an order to dismissCritique Official You from his position. When the order came intoYixin's hand, he said to the emperor that it was not suitable toremove a critique official for such a thing at the difficult time.When the emperor persisted, Yixin had to report to West EmpressDowager, who sent for the emperor and told him that he should notremove critique officials for things trivial.
Thenhe ordered all the governors to donate, but all of them complainedthat they didn't have any extra money to donate since so many thingswere waiting to be done after the mutinies had been subdued. EvenGovernor Wu, who was then the governor of Sichuan Province, made anexcuse that when he could collect enough money he would have it sentto the capital. But the construction officials didn't believe it,because Sichuan Province was known as a rich province. Now theemperor had to let his plan abort.
Atthat time, a merchant by the name of Li said to the official incharge of the construction that he wanted to donate a lot of wood forthe rebuilding of the Round-Bright Garden. So the official reportedit to the emperor, who ordered the official to arrange for all thewood transported to the capital and promised that when the garden wasfinished he would give the merchant a high official position. Eventhe empress dowagers learned it. And the emperor often sneaked outof the Forbidden City on the pretext that he would go to inspect theruins of the garden to see how to better rebuild it.

July 11th, 2018, 01:10 PM
ButMerchant Li said to the official in charge that the wood was in theforest on the remote mountains in Guizhou Province, one of theremotest provinces in the southwestern part of China. The big treesmust be chopped down, carried to the nearest stream, let them floatdown on the current to the closest town and shipped from there to thecapital. It needed a lot of labor and a long time to get them to thecapital. The official was stunned, but he couldn't report thisawkward situation to the emperor. Then Merchant Li said that hecould help to buy wood planks from some foreign merchants. Theofficial knew that if he couldn't get anything for the emperor, hewould at best lose the position, at worst be put into prison. Besides, if he let Merchant Li buy wood planks, the government wouldpay for them. Money would not come out of his own pocket, andfurthermore, he could get some commission from the transaction. Sohe agreed to the proposal of the merchant and gave him five hundredtaels of silver as traveling expense.
Theydidn't know that Merchant Li was a great imposter. Although he knew alot of foreigners, he often cheated them out of their money. Then hejust disappeared. When these foreigners left China, he appeared to dothe same to the other foreigners. Once a foreigner had wanted topurchase a piece of land to build something, he had said to him thathe had owned a stretch of land somewhere. Then he had led theforeigner to a marshy land. Though the price had been cheap, when theforeigner had paid Li for the land, he had found that this piece ofland belonging to the local government. The foreigner had searchedfor Merchant Li, but he had just vanished from the face of the earth.The foreigner had died with the wish that his ghost could have foundMerchant Li.

July 13th, 2018, 01:20 PM
MerchantLi went to Hongkong, lodged in a suite of a big hotel, and put up anotice “Wood needed for the royal garden.” When many woodsalesmen knew it, they swarmed to him. A French merchant offered thebest price. So he ordered thirty-five square feet wood for tenthousand taels of silver. Then he reported the price as thirtythousand taels. He reckoned that as he had promised to donate tenthousand taels, which he would deduct, he would still get twentythousand taels. The price of the wood only cost ten thousand taelsand he could get ten thousand extra taels for himself. The contractsaid that when the wood arrived in Tianjin City, the government wouldsend some official to receive the shipment and pay the price. Butwhen the French merchant reached the harbor, no one was there toreceive him.
WhenMerchant Li reported the price to the official in charge, he reportedto the leading official. And all the officials for the constructionthought that the price was way too high and they decided that theydidn't want the merchandise. So no one was sent to receive theshipment. The French merchant complained to the envoy of his countryand the envoy contacted the Chinese government through the ForeignAffairs Yamen. The cheating deal came out in the broad daylight.
The official in charge had to report to the emperor, who was incensedand told the empress dowagers. As a result, Merchant Li was put todeath and the official in charge was removed from office. Since themerchant who had signed the contract died, the deal was offnaturally. Then the construction plan aborted.

July 16th, 2018, 01:53 PM
Whenthe emperor came into power he remembered his study-mate andplaymate, Zaizhen, the son of Yixin and made him his Courtier BeforeThrone so that the emperor could see him more often. When they hadnothing else better to do, Zaizhen would tell the emperor some funnythings. Or something he thought it was funny.
Oneday, he told the emperor, “The wife of the French envoy came to seemy mother.” The emperor interrupted and asked, “Does a foreignerreally have red eyebrows and green eyes?” (Some eunuch hadmentioned foreigners to the emperor like that.) Ziazheng replied,“They have green eyes, yes. But they don't have red eyebrows.”
“What'stheir rule of behavior?” asked the emperor again.
“Theirrule is ladies first. When a newcomer arrives, the men must stand up,but the women still sit there. And men always kiss women's hands.”Answered Zaizhen seriously.
“Iwas told that the women and the men mix together. Is that so?”
“Sure.They shake each other's hands. They embrace each other and even kisseach other on the mouth.”
“Haveyou been kissed by a foreign woman?” The emperor was curious. Hewas still a teenager.
“No.I don't have such pleasure. They don't kiss us because they know wedon't like to be kissed.”
“Haveyou touched a foreign woman's hands?”
“Yes.On the day when the wife of the French envoy came to see my mother, Iwent into our guest room too. I was about to withdraw from theirpresence, the French woman asked me to stay. By the way, she canspeak some Chinese, though with an accent. She shook hands with me,but I had gooseflesh all over.”
“Why?Are there thorns on her hand?” The emperor asked innocently.
“No.Thorns only make me painful. But, no. The hair on her hand and arm isvery long.”
“Thatwill look like a monkey's.” The emperor joked.
“Yes.But she is more beautiful than a monkey.” They both laughed.

July 18th, 2018, 01:44 PM
Chapter 28

Seventeenwas the age already mature for sex, but the emperor could not havesex with the queen, whom he loved, for fear that the queen would beblamed by his mother. And he didn't want to have sex with the royalconcubine whom he disliked because his mother had forced her on him. He could not go to the other two concubines if he didn't go to theroyal concubine.
Hissex life was in crisis. As the emperor gradually knew somethingabout the life of ordinary people outside the Forbidden City, howinteresting it was, he wanted to witness it, to have a taste of thatlife and to see things in the outside world. For diversion, He beganto sneak out of the Forbidden City in disguise and wandered in thestreets. He had meals in some restaurants famous for some specialdishes and visited some bazaars. Once he met a bad courtier, who wassinging a few pieces from some well-known operas. It was customarythat courtiers or even princes liked to sing or even hum some tunesfrom the operas. Some courtiers even acted some scenes from operasas amateurs just for the enjoyment of it. The emperor liked tolisten to the operas, too. When he listened to the bad courtier, heliked his singing. So a few days later, he promoted the bad courtierto a higher position so that the emperor could see more of him. Thebad courtier secretly brought to the emperor some adult books andpictures of naked bodies, which only served to inspire his sexualdesire. Life in the Forbidden City was really tedious. The mostexciting entertainment was to watch operas, but even the emperorcouldn't watch operas everyday. Once or twice he even spent sometime in whorehouses to satisfy his need as a man. He could not go tosome expensive whorehouses because he was afraid to be recognized bysome courtiers, who were the regular patrons there. He could only gowhere no one would know him, where only workers or poor peoplefrequented. But all these activities of the emperor were known toRonglu, who was then in charge of the enforcement of law and order inthe capital and had his men in plain clothes all over Peking togather all kinds of information for him. But he didn't tell anyoneabout the emperor's behavior, only ordered his men to protect theemperor without letting anyone know it.

July 20th, 2018, 01:34 PM
Butthe furtive trips of the emperor outside the Forbidden City became sofrequent that he neglected his studies. He often stopped attendingthe classes without any reason, just notifying the tutors, “Noclasses today.” Usually it should be the tutors that gave the noclasses notice, not the other way round. But it was the way with theemperor. What could the tutors say? When the secretaries came to knowit, they discussed the situation. It was serious for many reasons,besides the reason for safety. Yixin was the sixth uncle of theemperor. Yihuan was the seventh uncle. And some old courtiers who hadseen the young emperor grow up. They handed in a report to admonishthe emperor, adding at the end that they hoped that the emperor wouldreceive them and they had more important things to report in person.The emperor got the wind of it already. He didn't want to hear anymore of their expostulation. He didn't even read their report. Thesecretaries and courtiers waited for the emperor to see them, butdays elapsed without any hint that the emperor would see them. Sothey just went in to see the emperor. Since Yixin was the head of theSecretarial Bureau, he began, “Have Emperor read our report?”
“Notyet.” The emperor, though a bit nervous, pretended to speaknonchalantly. Then he took up the report on his desk. Slitting openthe envelope, the emperor took out the report from it. When he wenthalf way down the page, the color on his face changed, a littlepaler. He put down the report and said, “I know now. I will studyharder. Is that all right?” He sounded irritated. But these oldcourtiers ignored his sentiment.
“There'smore than that.” said Yixin. He took out another copy and read italoud. Before he could finish it, the emperor shouted indignantly,“What if I let you be the emperor?” Everyone of the courtiers wasstunned. Secretary Wenqiang, who was not well there days, sighed andcollapsed on the floor. The emperor was in panic and regretted. Theeunuchs waiting outside the building rushed in to help SecretaryWenqiang on his feet. Such things had never happened since thebeginning of Qing Dynasty. So Yihuan, the seventh uncle of theemperor, said, “If emperor can watch his behavior, it's a blessingto our Qing Dynasty.”
“Iknow everything is my fault. What's wrong with my behavior?”
“Thefirst thing for a young emperor is to study hard. The second thing isthat a young emperor should not do things an emperor shouldn't do.”said Yihuan.
“Whathave I done to deserve such censure?” asked the emperor.
“Emperorshould not steal out of the Forbidden City.”
“That'srumor. How can I do that?” The emperor pleaded.

July 23rd, 2018, 02:23 PM
“Emperorknow it's rumor or not rumor.” It sounded like the emperor waslying. So he said, “Do you have any proof? If you don't, you arespreading rumors.” Under such circumstances, Yihuan had to tell theemperor what he had learned so that the emperor looked upon hisbehavior seriously. So he enumerated what the emperor had done andwhere the emperor had gone. On such and such a day, the emperor hadgone to buy some books. On such and such a day, the emperor had goneto such and such a restaurant to have lunch and what dishes theemperor had ordered and how much the emperor had paid. He could notsay in which brothel the emperor had visited. The emperor could saynothing more.
Thenthe Secretarial Bureau wanted to punish the officials in charge ofthe royal construction work, because they had caused a lot of troubleby instigating the emperor to fix the Round-Bright Garden, but theemperor wouldn't agree. When Yixin insisted, the emperor flared up inoutrage and issued an order to remove Yixin from all his offices,which he had learned from his mother, West Empress Dowager, who haddone it before. Other secretaries came to reason with the emperor andthe emperor wrote another order to remove every secretary from theSecretarial Bureau. He summoned the ministers and other courtiers andwanted them to discuss what punishment the emperor should inflict onthe secretaries.
WestEmpress Dowager had some eunuchs working in the emperor's place andthey ran to report to West Empress Dowager, who went to see EastEmpress Dowager and told her everything she knew. The two empressdowagers sent for the emperor, who came immediately. East EmpressDowager said to him, “How can you dismiss all the secretaries? Doyou want the empire to crumble in your hands?” The emperor couldsay nothing to plead for himself. Then West Empress Dowager told theemperor to undo all his former orders, which the emperor had tofollow, though reluctantly. Anyway, everything became normal.
OnNovember 28, 1874, the emperor was suddenly taken ill. A royaldoctor was summoned and after diagnosis he said that it was cold. Nobig deal. Everyone could fall sick for cold. So he prescribed some medicine, but it had no effect. The doctor wasperplexed and didn't know what to do. He had to wait and see whatother symptoms would appear. In the meanwhile he just prescribed somegeneral tonics. Then some red spots broke out on the emperor's skin afew days later. So the doctor decided that it was small pox. Thedoctor thought that it was easy now since he was sure what it was.When the empress dowagers asked him what was the emperor's illness.He told them that it was small pox. The empress dowagers asked, “Areyou sure?”

July 25th, 2018, 01:21 PM
“Yes.”The doctor replied, “If it is the small pox, that meant no dangerto his life. If it was not small pox, he might have difficulty tocure.” West Empress Dowager annoyed, but she knew that she couldnot rebuke the doctor. It was not that she was afraid the doctorwould poison the emperor, but that if the doctor was reproached hemight get nervous and prescribe wrong medicine. So it was thetradition that no one should blame a royal doctor. On the contrary,West Empress Dowager said to the doctor, “If you heal the sicknessof the emperor, I will give you a promotion.” Encouragement wasmore appropriate. There was another tradition that when anyone in thepalace suffered from small pox, a goddess of small pox would be setup in an unoccupied room and joss-sticks and candles were burnedbefore the icon. After a few days the symptoms of the small pox onthe skin of the emperor gradually disappeared. Everyone in the palacewas happy. The empress dowagers were at rest. However, to theirunexpectedness, other symptoms showed up on the emperor. Now thedoctor was in a plight. The symptoms indicated the fatal disease ofsyphilis. It's unbelievable in the doctor's opinion that the emperorcould suffer from such a terminal disease, which was spread onlythrough sexual contamination. Of course the treatment didn't get anyexpected result. The emperor didn't feel any better, but worseeveryday. The doctor couldn't tell the truth, because the truthwould impair the emperor's reputation, which was at that timeconsidered more important even than his life. Besides, it was aterminal disease. No one could do anything about it even if thedoctor told the truth.
Sincethe emperor got worse day by day, Yixin liked to know what was reallythe disease. He sent for the doctor. At first the doctor was afraidto tell the truth, but Yixin threatened that if he didn't let himknow, when the emperor died, the doctor would get into big troubles.So the doctor had to tell the truth. Yixin was stunned. He had neverthought of that. It was incredible. But he could not let the empressdowagers know it.

July 27th, 2018, 09:23 PM
Duringthe emperor's sickness, since he could not attend to the stateaffairs, the empress dowagers resumed the roles to act in his behalfand recommenced to handle the state affairs, which was just after theheart of West Empress Dowager. She was already disappointed in herson, who, in her opinion, had never listened to her since he tookover the power. Now it was everybody's concern who would succeed thethrone when the emperor was summoned to Heaven by his ancestors.
Accordingto logic and common sense, the successor should be chosen from thenext generation to be the adopted son of the present emperor. ButWest Empress Dowager thought differently. If the successor came fromthe next generation to the present emperor, the present queen wouldbecome the empress dowager, and she would be the grandmother to thesuccessor. She wouldn't be in a position then to act in behalf ofthe successor from her next next generation and she would lose powerforever. She could not bear even to think of it. She sent Ronglu,who was a high-rank courtier now, to convene all the importantcourtiers to her presence to discuss the issue of the successor. Butas it was a subtle issue, the courtiers didn't dare to express theiropinions. They just begged the empress dowagers to make thedecision.
Therefore,she selected the son of her sister, who married Yihuan, Yixin'sbrother, also her brother-in-law. The son was then only four yearsold. So she could still stay in power on the pretext that thesuccessor was too young and she must help him to handle things tillhe was grown up.
“Hismother is my sister.” she would say, “His father is mybrother-in-law. I am his double auntie. He is really my own fleshand blood.”
EastEmpress Dowager didn't care who succeeded the throne. The courtierscould really say nothing about the selection of the future emperor,which was considered to be the business of the royal family, a familymatter, but which really concerned everybody, the whole empire. Since West Empress Dowager made the decision, it was thus settled.Then West Empress Dowager promoted Ronglu to be one of the heads ofthe Royal Family Affairs Management. Ronglu could see more of WestEmpress Dowager now.

July 30th, 2018, 01:10 PM
EmperorTongzhi died on January 12, 1875, and the successor to the throne wasnamed Emperor Guangxu (1871-1908), but he was chosen as the adoptedson of Emperor Xianfeng, the husband of West Empress Dowager, not asthe adopted son of Emperor Tongzhi, her son, because Emperor Guangxuwas the cousin of Emperor Tongzhi, belonging to the same generation. Now West Empress Dowager was his adopted mother, still the empressdowager.
PrinceFu was sent to fetch the son of Yihuan, the future emperor, whosemother, the sister of West Empress Dowager, was happy and sad at thesame time. Happy because her son was the emperor now and sad becauseshe lost her son forever. “Will the wet nurse go into the ForbiddenCity too?” asked the mother.
“No.They had hired another wet nurse already.” answered Prince Fu, whowas Yihuan's younger brother, the ninth one.
“Butcan you report to West Empress Dowager that my son can't leave thiswet nurse.” pleaded the mother, who was almost in tears.
“Mysister-in-law, you should say Emperor now, not your son any more.”
Itwas night. The child was asleep. When he was wakened, he started tocry. The mother took him to the Forbidden City, carried in a warmpalanquin. When they reached the palace and were presented to theempress dowagers, the child was asleep in the arms of his mother. Butwhen he transferred to the embrace of a new wet nurse, he began tocry again. Therefore, the empress dowagers had to send for theoriginal wet nurse.
Justafter a month of the new emperor's coronation, the queen of EmperorTongzhi died. It was said that she committed suicide, but generalopinion was that she was compelled by West Empress Dowager to end herlife either by swallowing a lump of gold or by starving herself. Imperial palace is always full of secrets that no historian cansolve.
Almostat the same time, Princess RongAn, the daughter of Concubine DowagerLi, was pregnant. When she came to know her stepbrother, EmperorTongzhi, died, she wept and wept till her baby aborted. Then she gotsmall pox and died not long after Emperor Tongzhi's death. It wassaid that Emperor Tongzhi needed a companion in Heaven and took hisstep-sister with him.

August 1st, 2018, 01:21 PM
Chapter 29

Acritique official turned in a report, saying, “The pawn shop ownerLi falsely declares that he is a relative of Minister Ho ofConstruction Ministry and hereby does all sorts of illegal thingslike cheating and extorting and taking briberies. He is also ago-between in other unlawful transactions. He mingles with thecourtiers and his residence is as magnificent and luxurious as thoseof the ministers.” How can a pawn shop owner manage to have allthese luxuries? This critique official beg to have this pawn shopowner to deport to his home town so that the capital could be clearof such human garbage. Then he added in another paragraph, “As forcourtiers, especially ministers, they should not mix with such lowlives, feasting together and giving each other presents. Thiscritique official beg to issue an order to prohibit such behavioramong the courtiers.”
WhenWest Empress Dowager read the report, she was surprised. She knewMinister Ho was a scholar. How could he have anything to do with suchpeople? But she was not sure whether the critique official told thetruth, because a critique official was allowed to write a reportbased on mere rumors and gossips. So she sent her head eunuch Li togather some facts. Head Eunuch Li, or Tawing Li as people called himbehind his back, was cleverer than Little An. He did anything illegalwithout leaving any trace of proof behind. He spent half a day tomake inquiries where he could get the truth and came back to reportto West Empress Dowager.
MerchantLi, the pawnshop owner, came from Shanxi Province. He had a buildingconstructed and opened a pawnshop, which took up a great expanse ofspace in a market place. He dealt in curios and also sold books. Sothe pawnshop was looked upon as a bookstore as well. Poor peoplewouldn't buy books or pawn curios. His customers were all rich peopleand courtiers. Therefore, he bought an official title so that hecould wear official clothes on certain occasions. He even knew aprince, who had a hobby to collect antiques. With so much contactwith courtiers, he began to step outside the circumference of law.When such dealings became open secrets, they attracted the notice ofcritique officials. It was just at the time that West Empress Dowagerwanted to utilize the critique force to discipline the officialdomand establish her own authority. So West Empress Dowager gave thereport to the Secretarial Bureau for discussion and investigation.The Secretarial Bureau ordered the Judicial Ministry to arrest thepawnshop owner. Further investigation revealed that the pawnshop,when in the process of construction, had encroached on a piece of thegovernment land and the whole lot that belonged to a charityorganization for poor people. The judgment of Judicial Ministry onhim was sixty beatings and one year's imprisonment, and after that,he would be deported to his hometown under parole of his localgovernment.

August 3rd, 2018, 01:14 PM
Butthe critique officials really aimed at Minister Ho, not the pawnshopowner, like they had said that they wanted to hit the tiger, not afly. Then another critique official filed in his report, asking whatrelationship actually was between Minister Ho and the pawnshop owner.After the perusal of the report, West Empress Dowager orderedMinister Ho to explain it. Minister Ho replied in his report that hedidn't really have any relationship with the pawnshop owner and thathe met him whenever he went to buy some books there. If that was thetruth, he was not guilty of anything. But as a matter of fact,Minister Ho took the wife of the pawnshop owner as his dry daughter(In China, dry father/mother and dry daughter/son have noflesh-and-blood tie between them. Their relationship is somewhat likegod-father/mother and god-daughter/son, only without any religiousmeaning in it.) When the wife had died, Minister Ho made one of hismaids as his dry daughter and married her to the pawnshop owner. Sothe relationship between them was dry father-in-law and dryson-in-law. To show his gratitude for marrying his dry daughter tohim, the pawnshop owner bought a young girl and presented her toMinister Ho as his concubine. Minster Ho's wife had long been dead.So Minister Ho made the girl his wife. Now the pawnshop owner gothimself a young dry mother-in-law. If the girl were still a concubineand when they met, he didn't need to show any respect to her, but asthe wife of Minister Ho, he should go down on his knees before herand kowtowed to her when they met on certain occasions.
Thecritique officials accused Minister Ho of cheating in his reply abouthis relationship with the pawn shop owner. So Minister Ho was demotedto be the deputy general critique official since there was no othervacancy. (General critique official was the head of the critiquedepartment.) Now all the critique officials were opposed to it. Thatwas a wrong move of the Secretarial Bureau. It seemed as if they hadmade the appointment without serious consideration. Some critiqueofficial asked if this appointment meant that a critique officialshould lie and cheat. Of course not. On the contrary, a critiqueofficial should be upright and honest. So the Secretarial Bureau hadto let him retire with the promise that his son would get apromotion.

August 6th, 2018, 12:33 PM
Forfive years General Governor Zuo at last put an end to the Hui Clanrebellion. Just as he was about to return to the capitalvictoriously, an international event happened in Xinjiang Province.So West Empress Dowager ordered him to stay there for a while longer.If war should break out in Xinjiang Province between Russia and Chinahe could go there to reinforce.
Russiahad occupied Yili Town in Xinjiang Province for quite some time. Theyhad declared that they only kept that town for Qing government tillQing government was capable of ruling the town peacefully andefficiently, because there lived in Yili Town so many Russianmerchants and people and Russian government should protect them. Atleast Russia still occupied Yili Town that belonged to Qinggovernment, which had been busy dealing with rebellions at that time.Now there were no more rebels. Qing government put the Yili Townproblem on their agenda. They delivered a diplomatic note to Russiafor the return of Yili Town to China. Both governments agreed to havea talk about it in Peterburg in Russia. (Peterburg was then thecapital of Russia. They call it Leningrad now.) So Qing governmentsent a courtier Chonghou there as a royal representative. He had beenworking in the Foreign affairs Yamen for a long time and knew how todeal with the foreigners. The courtiers often wanted to guess whatWest Empress Dowager really wished so that they could do things toher satisfaction. But this time Royal Representative Chonghou had awrong guessing that West Empress Dowager was afraid of war and wouldmaintain peace at any costs. Therefore, he gave in to Russian demandsmore than necessary. And the worst of it was that he didn't even senda copy back for the approval of West Empress Dowager. He thought thathe had the full authority to do that and signed the treaty. Then hedidn't wait for any further order and just returned to the capital.By the treaty, Qing government lost a lot of rights, though Russiapromised to let Qing government take back Yili Town.

August 8th, 2018, 01:05 PM
Whenthe contents of the treaty became known, the first ones who got angrywere the critique officials. Some of them wrote reports to accuseChonghou even of treason. The empress dowagers were irate, too. Theyinstructed the Secretarial Bureau to deprive him of his title ofRoyal Representative and to have a discussion what punishment shouldbe inflicted on him. On hearing it, the Russian envoy came to theForeign Affairs Yamen to protest, saying that it was an insult toRussia if Qing government punished the Royal Representative who hadsigned the treaty. The head official in that yamen explained thatQing government punished him because he hadn't waited for any orderand had signed on his own decision and that it had nothing to do withthe signing of the treaty. So the Russian envoy could not protest forthat reason and left.
CritiqueOfficial Zhang Zhitong wrote a report, suggesting that first toexecute Chonghou for treachery, second to declare to Russia that thetreaty was still invalid since Qing government hadn't approved ityet, third to make war preparations to defend the territory if Russiawaged war on China. A lot of courtiers supported his suggestion.Someone even said, “If war is inevitable, it's better to let itcome earlier since there are still so many experienced generalssurvived from the combats with rebels.” What all the courtiers hadsaid could be concluded in two points: Execute Chonghou and if Russiawants to fight, let's fight.

August 10th, 2018, 02:42 PM
Toappease their innocent fury, the Secretarial bureau, approved by theempress dowagers, told Judicial Ministry to detain Chonghou in thejail. Chonghou had confined himself at home since he had returned tothe capital, waiting for things to get quiet down so that he mighthave been let go with only slaps on the wrists. His servants wentabout the city to hunt for any news for him. When the message camefor his apprehension, he put on a prisoner's uniform, which he hadmade. He also knew that if war broke out he would be executed toencourage people to fight. That's politics. When he was put in aprison cell, his butler bribed the jailers so that his master couldbe treated well.
TheSecretarial Bureau held a series of joint meetings with the cabinetmembers. They even invited Critique Official Zhang to attend. Yixinenumerated the reasons why the government should not have war againstRussia. He said, “Our guns and cannons are not so good and so manyas Russians have. We don't have enough provisions and money tosupport the war. We haven't known the attitude of the generals andsoldiers. What if they don't want to fight?” The war cries lowereda little. The only feasible way at present was to send another RoyalRepresentative to Peterburg to renegotiate with Russia to change thearticles of the treaty. This was a very difficult task. Then theymade several decisions: the government could delay to take back YiliTown and Chonghou could not be executed yet, which would be afriendly gesture to Russia. But why should Russia really care for aChinese official, dead or alive?
Warpreparations were still going on. General Governor Zuo left GansuProvince for Xinjiang Province, closer to Russia. News came to theears of the empress dowagers that Zuo had taken a coffin with him.The empress dowagers were greatly moved and openly extolled him forloyalty and bravery.
Aftera great deal of bargaining and reasoning with Russia, the old treatyhad been denounced and a new treaty was signed, which made Qinggovernment lose less rights, but more money. Russia had asked for therepayment of the maintenance fee they had spent on Yili Town. Itsounded reasonable to West Empress Dowager. In the old treaty thefee was five million silver rubles and in the new treaty the fee wasincreased to nine million silver rubles, which was equivalent to fivemillion taels of silver. As long as West Empress Dowager feltgratified, everything was fine. The new Royal Representative waspraised for the completion of the difficult task. He was the eldestson of the late Elder Zeng. As the event was settled to the contentof the empress dowagers, Chonghou was pardoned and released.

August 13th, 2018, 01:03 PM
Chapter 30

WestEmpress Dowager was sick for some time already, but she still went todiscuss things with the courtiers. Then her sickness became serious.On March 12, 1880, East Empress Dowager had to handle the stateaffairs alone, with the help of Yixin and other courtiers, of course.But West Empress Dowager was not happy. She was afraid that EastEmpress Dowager would seize the power at the chance.
Theroyal doctor said that her sickness was due to the strains of toomuch work and suggested that she should have a complete rest till sherecuperated entirely. As her anxiety added to her sickness, shedidn't feel any better for four months. Medicine proved no effect onher. No one could persuade her to take more rest. Then Big Princesswas thought of, who was a widow now and lived separately in her ownresidence. She went to the Forbidden City to see West EmpressDowager and stayed there to look after her day and night. It wassaid that Big Princess spoke so convincingly that West EmpressDowager always listened to her.
OnJuly 13, a notice of doctors Wanted in the emperor's name was put upthroughout the empire. The governor of Zhejiang Province recommendeda famous Doctor Xi, who was dispatched to the capital, into theForbidden City. The coincidence was that other two governors alsorecommended Doctor Xi. So Doctor Xi was then summoned to the presenceof West Empress Dowager in her chamber. She was lying in bed. FirstDoctor Xi kowtowed before the bed, then he knelt close to the bed tofeel the pulse of West Empress Dowager. He had been taught all therituals beforehand. After feeling the pulse, he asked permission tolook at the tongue of West Empress Dowager. Then he was allowed tostand up and backed away from the bed. Near the door he turned roundand walked out of the chamber. He was led into another room to writeout his prescription, which was then checked by the courtiers in theSecretarial Bureau and even sent to West Empress Dowager herself tobe approved before a eunuch took it to the drug storage room in theForbidden City for the medicine.

August 15th, 2018, 01:31 PM
DoctorXi had passed the second government test and had come to the capitalfor the final test. At that time there had been war in the southernprovinces. He could not have gone back to Wuxi City, where he hadbeen born and grown up. He had stayed in the capital for preparationfor the next test. He had had plenty of time and begun to studymedicine all by himself. He had bought an official title, but couldnever have got a post, because the government had needed money badlyand sold more titles than the real positions could have held.Everyone who had bought a title should have waited for a vacancy. Toget a vacancy, one should have spent more money. Xi couldn't havepaid more money and so he had had to wait. In the meantime, he hadpracticed his medicine and had greatly improved his skills andknowledge. After war had ended in the southern provinces, Doctor Xihad got a vacancy there.
Nowhe came to the capital as a doctor. He met the royal doctor first,who asked him a lot of questions as if he was testing his medicalknowledge. Doctor Xi answered all his questions deliberately and atlast the royal doctor could think of no more questions to ask. Itmeant that Doctor Xi was a better doctor than the royal doctor. WhenDoctor Xi asked the royal doctor what illness West Empress Dowagerwas suffering, the royal doctor could not say anything definite. Hecouldn't even tell what kind of the illness it was.
SometimesWest Empress Dowager didn't take the medicine if she didn't trust inthe expertise of the doctor, who wrote out the prescription, though. But this time West Empress Dowager took medicine for forty-threedays, because she trusted Doctor Xi. She was soon convalescent andcould see the courtiers again.
Therehad been a rumor that West Empress Dowager had had a miscarriage andthe royal doctor had misdiagnosed. If a doctor could not diagnosecorrectly, how could he prescribe the right medicine? That was whythe sickness of West Empress Dowager had lasted so long. Doctor Xidiagnosed it, but he couldn't say it. So he just prescribed the rightmedicine under another name of the disease with somewhat similarsymptoms. Anyway, when he cured West Empress Dowager, he was given avery good position near the capital so that if next time West EmpressDowager was sick again, he could come on a very short notice.

August 17th, 2018, 01:02 PM
OfficialYan was an ugly man, short and lean. His eyes were not on the samelevel, one a bit higher and the other a little lower. The lineconnecting the two eyes was slanting. But he was an upright official,never afraid of any unreasonable superiors. At that time he was theFinancial Official in Hubei Province, directly under the governor.The governor of Hubei Province was bisexual and doted on his page, ahandsome young boy with fair skin. Sometimes, the governor wouldsleep with him at night. As the boy grew up, the governor gave himofficial titles till he was then a deputy general and the head of thegovernor's bodyguards. The deputy general often bullied people andextorted money from people. Official Yan always wanted to put himaway in jail, but didn't get a chance.
Oneday, the deputy general trespassed into a house and raped and killeda girl in that family. The father sued him in Yan's yamen. Now Yanhad a reason to arrest him. So he went to the governor's yamen withhis guards. The governor hid his boyfriend, the deputy general, inthe back of his yamen. Official Yan asked to see the governor, butthe governor feigned sick and wouldn't come out to receive Yan. Oneof his bodyguards said to Yan, “When Governor get well, Governorwill come to see Your Excellency.” The governor had thought thatYan would go away and after things got cool off, he could save theskin of his boyfriend. But Yan said to the governor's bodyguard,“Governor will surely recover some day. I'd better wait here tillGovernor gets well.” He ordered his guards to fetch his sleepingbag and other necessary things from his own yamen. He stayed in thereceiving room of the governor's yamen for three days and managed hisown official business from there. It really looked bad to thegovernor, who asked the Judicial Official and his own privateadvisers to persuade Yan to leave, but Yan insisted that he shouldexecute the deputy general for the murder of the girl before he left.The governor had to come out to see Yan. The governor knelt beforeYan to implore him to spare the life of his boyfriend, the deputygeneral. The governor was Yan's immediate boss. So someone said thatit was not appropriate to let the governor kneel before him. Yanhelped the governor on his feet and promised to spare the life of hisboyfriend, but on one condition. As long as Yan could spare hisboyfriend's life, the governor would agree to any conditions. “What'sthe condition?” he asked. “He must be deported to his homevillage and Governor can never hire him again.” said Yan. Thegovernor consented to the condition and sent for the deputy general,who kowtowed to Yan for sparing his life. Yan ordered his guards togive him forty beatings before deporting him out of the province. Thegovernor was not a bad man, only a good-for-nothing. He didn't hateYan for that and never thought of revenge. On the contrary, herecommended him to West Empress Dowager, who then appointed Yan asthe governor of Shandong Province.

August 20th, 2018, 01:50 PM
Chapter 31

Duringthe festivals, by tradition, the emperor, now the empress dowagers,would give food or other things to the royal relatives and closecourtiers. The eunuchs would run the errands. But by tradition, theeunuchs could not go out by the front gate of the Forbidden Cityunless they had a note from the Eunuch Management. Or they could onlygo through the side gates. Young eunuch Li was sent to the residenceof Prince Yihuan, the brother-in-law of West Empress Dowager and thenatural father of the present emperor Guangxu. Young eunuch Li walkedtowards the front gate, carrying some food in a container.
“Stop!”A gate guard shouted.
“What'sthe matter?” asked young eunuch Li.
“Doyou know the rule?” The guard looked at him from head to toes.
”What'sthe rule?” Young eunuch Li asked indifferently.
“Isthis the gate you think you can go through?” The guard held out hishand for a note. In his opinion, the eunuch should have produced anote by then.
“Whycan't I? West Buddha send me on some mission.” (By that time, theempress dowagers were sometimes called Buddha. West Empress Dowagerwas called West Buddha and East Empress Dowager was called EastBuddha.)
“Whateverthe reason, you can't go through this gate unless you have a note.”
“Whatnote?” Young eunuch Li feigned ignorance. “I don't have a note.If you want a note, go to West Buddha for one.” The bickering wasso loud that the head gate guard heard it and came out of the guardhouse. He knew that if the guards let the eunuchs go out of the frontgate without a note, they would be accused of the negligence of theirduties. But he also knew that since young eunuch Li was sent by WestEmpress Dowager, he didn't want to offend him. So he advised him togo back and get a note. But young eunuch Li wouldn't do that. Quite afew eunuchs, if not everyone, who worked for West Empress Dowager,was always unreasonable and acted like they were the representativesof West Empress Dowager and others must listen to them. But the gateguards had their obligations. Young eunuch Li wanted to dash out andthe guards had to stop him. He then upset the food containerpurposefully and let the food fall out in a mess. Then he ran back toWest Empress Dowager as fast as a rabbit. He even lied that theguards had beaten him. When West Empress Dowager was told that thefront guards wouldn't let young eunuch Li go out and upset the foodcontainer, she got infuriated and ordered Judicial Ministry to arrestthese guards and put them to death.

August 22nd, 2018, 01:29 PM
InJudicial Ministry, there were eight middle-rank officials, who werefamiliar with all sorts of laws. They were upright and acted by thebook. So their colleagues called them the Eight Saints. This case wastheir responsibilities. When the minister told them what West EmpressDowager had instructed, one of them said, “If Empress Dowager wantto execute them, Empress Dowager can directly execute them. Now itbecomes a case in Judicial Ministry, we must judge it by the law.”
“Whatwill be the verdict in your opinion?” The minister asked modestly.
“Notguilty.” was the answer. The minister was in a fix. How could hereport to West Empress Dowager? Another of the Eight Saints said, “Inthis case, we must not only try the guards, but also try the eunuch.”Still another of the eight Saints told the minister a story from HanDynasty. (Almost two thousand years ago.) Someone stole a jadeornament from the mausoleum of the emperor's ancestors. By the law ofHan Dynasty, such a crime was the sentence of death, but the emperorwas not contented and wanted to execute the whole household of theculprit. This was the severest punishment in every dynasty. So thesupreme judge asked the emperor what punishment the emperor couldinflict on a traitor since the severest penalty was imposed on athief. So the emperor agreed with the supreme judge. The ministerdecided to tell West Empress Dowager the story when he saw WestEmpress Dowager next time. But next time when he was summoned to thepresence of West Empress Dowager, she didn't let him speak andreproved him all the time till she felt tired and bade him to go. Shehad said that the offense of the guards was to resist the order ofthe empress dowagers and deserved the death sentence. It should becomprehended like that since young eunuch Li had been sent by theempress dowagers and the guards had refused to let him go out tocarry out the order of the empress dowagers, the guards had actedagainst the order of the empress dowagers. But there was not such anarticle in any law. The minister had to sentence the guards to bebanished out of the capital. But West Empress Dowager was notsatisfied. The minister had to delay the judgment of the case.

August 24th, 2018, 01:13 PM
Whenthis case was not finally settled yet, another surprising event tookplace. A middle-aged outsider was found wandering near where WestEmpress Dowager lived. This was very serious. What if this strangerwere an assassin? So the stranger was detained and put into the jailof Judicial Ministry. The stranger looked like a retard. So anytorment or threat might not work if they wanted the truth how hecould have been in the Forbidden City. An official of JudicialMinistry went to his cell and treated him as a guest and let him eatand drink, then asked him questions like they were having a chitchat.The retard said that a eunuch, who lived next door to him, had takenhim into that big place and left him to roam all by himself. Theminister reported it to Yixin first. Yixin ordered him to get to thebottom of it lest more serious things should happen later. So theeunuch was taken into custody and questioned. Under a little torture,he confessed everything. Young eunuch Li had persuaded him to bringin the retard to make believe that the gate guards always disregardedtheir duties. Therefore, young eunuch Li was hauled in. Now theverdict of Judicial Ministry was that the guards were expelled fromthe post, the eunuchs were exiled and the retard was hanged.

August 27th, 2018, 01:09 PM
Whenthe result was reported to West Empress Dowager, she insisted thatthe punishment of the guards should be more severe. So the EightSaints found the relevant articles in the law book and copied them,handing in for West Empress Dowager to read. After that, West EmpressDowager loosened a bit, no longer persisting in death sentence. Butshe wanted the penalty stricter than that on the verdict. Then a newverdict was issued that the guards were exiled to the remote provincein the cold north. When it was known publicly, many critiqueofficials thought this was not fair. So quite a few reports came tothe attention of West Empress Dowager. One of the reports reasoned,?he case was not that the guards could not ask the eunuchs to show anote of being allowed to exit. It was that the guards should notbehave improperly in the Forbidden City. Now it seemed that theguards should not ask to see such a note from the eunuchs. What? whya retarded stranger was brought in by a eunuch and no guards dared tosay anything to it. If that? what the verdict manifested, what? theuse to station the guards at the gates? To the eunuchs, it seems noguards at all, though guards do stand there on guard. Thus, how canthe guards keep the Forbidden City safe? The eunuchs should bedisciplined. A punishment of exile is often for a real crime. Ifguards got such a punishment just for doing their duties, what willpeople say when they read the verdict? This Critique Official thinkthat it must be a mistake made by Judicial Ministry, not theintention of the empress dowagers. This Critique Official beg thatthe empress dowagers correct this mistake so that people know thatthe empress dowagers are always fair and just. The result was thatthe guards were only dismissed from the post.

August 29th, 2018, 01:29 PM
Chapter 32

Zaizhen,son of Yixin, was really a dandy. Before the demise of EmperorTongzhi, he had had to go into the Forbidden City to study togetherwith the emperor. Now Emperor Tongzhi was gone, he didn't need to gothere any more. He began to fool away his time everyday in theteahouse, in the restaurant, in the theater, or even in thewhorehouse. He had a few concubines, but they lived separately, awayfrom his main residence, which was his father's, not really his. Inold China, many generations lived together. But he didn't dare tobring his concubines into his father's residence, because he got allthese concubines without Yixin's assent. So he either bought orrented a house for each of his concubines. Some concubines hadchildren with him, but Yixin disowned them as his grandchildren,because it would make things complicated. If Yixin owned that theywere his grandchildren, the male children should be conferred somehonorary titles plus other things due to their legal status. Ifotherwise, they could get nothing legally. One of his concubines wasthe wife of a duke. She was known as Lady Kui.
DukeKui was a good-for-nothing. Lady Kui was the boss in the family. Shecontrolled everything. She dealt with everything that happened. DukeKui lived an idle life and was afraid of his wife. Lady Kui liked togo to public places, mixing with the throngs and letting other youngmen admire her beauty. (She was still young.) One market day, therewas a gathering in the square before a temple. Lady Kui went therewith her maid. After she worshiped the Buddha in the temple, sheloitered among the vendors to look at their things displayed on theground. Vendors at that time didn't have booths or carts. Theycarried their goods in baskets or boxes. Some vendors would spread apiece of cloth on the ground and put their merchandise on the clothfor a better show. When Lady Kui felt weary at noon, she went into ateahouse on the roadside. Teahouses sold snacks too. While she satthere, sipping tea, a young man came in, ensued by some servants. Theyoung man was handsome, and for the good guess, in early twenties,and looked like born with a silver spoon in the mouth. He sat at atable, sweeping his eyes across all the female faces till he frozehis gaze on the visage of Lady Kui, who turned away to avoid hisstare. “Your Ladyship.' Suddenly she heard herself accosted. Sheturned about and saw a servant smiling and bowing to her. “HisEsquire (Denoting his master, the young man.) invite Your Ladyship tothat table.” Lady Kui was surprised and resented the brassboldness. “I don't know His Esquire.” She said with a scorn andturned away once more.

August 31st, 2018, 01:57 PM
Aftera while the young man left with his servants. But his cute imagestill lingered in the mind's eye of Lady Kui. When the waiter came toreplenish her teapot with boiled water, she asked him who that youngman was. “Your Ladyship mean His Esquire?” said the waiter,“Everyone know Esquire Zaizhen.”
“Youmean the son of Prince Yixin?” Lady Kui wanted to make sure.
“Nonethe other.” The waiter smiled his reply. Lady Kui thought that wasthe man a woman should marry. She always looked down upon her husbandbecause he was a useless man in every sense of the word. Although hewas a duke, he didn't have power and didn't have a lot of wealth asother dukes, nor even as marquises, earls, viscounts and barons. Inher opinion, wealth should be in correspondence with titles. Lady Kuiwas vain as many women were.
Whenshe stepped out of the teahouse, the servant, who had addressed herinside the teahouse, came forth, saying, 'His Esquire leave the coachhere to take Your Ladyship home.” When she refused, the servantslung himself down on his knees and kowtowed before her, blocking herway to go further. The servant begged, “Have mercy on me, YourLadyship. If Your Ladyship won't ride home in the coach, His Esquirewill think I'm useless and will fire me. I have a family of five tofeed. So have pity on me, Your Ladyship.” He kept kowtowing untilshe conceded. Lady Kui had a heart of gold and didn't want his familyto starve. But she asked, “Do you know where I live?”
“Sure.”The servant replied, “Your Ladyship live in Duke Kui's residence.”
Sothey knew everything about me, she thought. The coachman was holdingthe door of the coach open for her. The servant crawled on the groundbefore the coach door, serving as a step stone. Lady Kui stepped onhis back and into the coach, helped by her maid, who followed in. Thecoachman shut the door. The servant rode with the coachman in thefront. The coach rumbled forward. Lady Kui sat back comfortably andclosed her eyes. The maid sat at her side with only half of herbuttocks on the seat. Generally a maid could not sit with hermistress, but she could not stand in the coach, either. So this was aposture adopted by the inferiors before their superiors when theywere asked to sit or had to sit on certain occasions.
WhenLady Kui felt the coach halted, she opened her eyes, but it was nother home. The servant came to open the door. Lady Kui asked, “Whereis this?” The servant replied, “Your Ladyship will know when YourLadyship go in.” Lady Kui was curious to know and went in, followedby her maid. Esquire Zaizhen was there to welcome her. She couldn'treject his courtship and they slept together that night. Thus, LadyKui became a concubine of Esquire Zaizhen.

September 3rd, 2018, 01:14 PM
DukeKui waited eagerly for the return of his wife the whole day and thewhole night, but to no avail. It had never happened like this before.He knew that something was wrong with his wife. Next day, he reportedto the yamen that his wife was missing. The wife of a duke was notlike a wife of an ordinary person. So the yamen made it amissing-person case. But for three months no trace of his wife'swhereabouts was detected. It seemed as if his wife just evaporatedlike a wisp of steam.
Justas Duke Kui was about to give her up as dead, she was seen in atheater together with Esquire Zaizhen. They were seen by a patrolofficer, who knew both Lady Kui and Esquire Zaizhen. The patrolofficer didn't dare to report to the yamen. He didn't want to makesuch an enemy like Esquire Zaizhen. But it was not good to the yamenif the missing-person case could not be closed. So next day he wentto see Esquire Zaizhen. Of course, he couldn't see Esquire Zaizhenhimself. The head servant received him. He discussed with the headservant how to close the case without making a ripple into a billow.
NowEsquire Zaizhen was afraid that he would get into a big trouble ifhis father learned it. He suggested to Lady Kui that she should gohome to settle it with her husband and then come back.
“Youwant to get rid of me?” She flared up. “Not so easy.”
“No.I need you. You know that.” Zaizhen reassured her. Lady Kui thoughtthat she could not always hide like a criminal wanted. They made aplan. Esquire Zaizhen promised to get her husband a good position asa condition to the settlement. He gave her a thousand taels in asilver note. So Lady Kui returned to her former home next day to thesurprise of everyone in Duke Kui's residence. To them she seemedsuddenly descended from Heaven like a fairy god-mother. Lady Kui wentto the bedroom and Duke Kui followed in and shut the door behind him.

September 5th, 2018, 01:37 PM
“Wherewere you all the time? I am so worried.” said the husband.
“It'sall your fault. I was confined by someone.” The wife complained.
“Whois that someone” ?Duke Kui wanted to know who was so bold to kidnapa duke's wife.
“Someonepowerful. We are no match for him.”
“Youcan at least tell me who he is. I'm not to sue him or what.”
“He'sEsquire Zaizhen.” That was their plan to tell the husband thetruth.
“Sonof Prince Yixin?” The husband couldn't believe his ears and desiredto make double sure.
“Whoelse would be so bold to confine me?”
“Whydid he do that to you?” That was the reasonable question.
”Nowtell me, you want to go to jail or you want to be a high-rankofficial.”
“Whatall that means?” The husband was not so dumb as he seemed to be.Only he was chicken-hearted.
“He'sknown all you did, the two illegal things, I mean. He has all theevidence gathered.”
“So,what he want? Blackmailing always has a purpose.”
“Hewants me. If you let him have me, he'll get a position for you. Andhere'd a thousand taels.” She took out the silver note and handedit to her husband. “If you don't, he'll give the evidence to theMandarin Clan Affairs Management.” Duke Kui knew that his wifenever loved him and that during the three months she had lived withEsquire Zaizhen, they had had adultery for sure. He couldn't reallytake back a wife that had had sex with another man, whoever he was.So the best way to settle it was to let her go and get the money andthe position for the exchange. Lady Kui knew her husband so well thatthe result was predictable. She didn't really tell Esquire Zaizhenthe illegal things her husband had done. She just used them as atrick. Duke Kui sent a report to the yamen to withdraw his case forthe reason that his wife was back.
DukeKui had a younger brother (referred to as Brother Kui hereafter), whowas a gambler and a villain, capable of anything. A gambler alwaysneeds money. So Brother Kui often went to see Duke Kui for money.When Duke Kui didn't have any cash to give him, he would takewhatever he could lay hands on in Duke Kui's house and sold them formoney. He was really a headache to Duke Kui.

September 7th, 2018, 01:30 PM
BrotherKui thought it as an insult. He wanted to revenge and to get moremoney out of the event. First he went to see a doctor and asked thedoctor to write him a certificate about his wounds for the possiblefuture use when needed. Then he asked someone to write a statementfor him about everything that occurred so far, including what hadhappened to Lady Kui. He took the statement to the residence ofYixin. The butler received him and accepted his statement. WhenBrother Kui left, the butler read the statement and was frightened.He didn't dare to report to Yixin. He sent it to Esquire Zaizhen, whojust put it aside and forgot about it.
BrotherKui waited for half a month. When he realized that no one would cometo settle things with him, he had another statement written and tookit to the head of the Mandarin Clan Affairs Management. The head gavethe statement to Yixin, who got furious and told the butler to findhis son. Esquire Zaizhen had to come to see his father. He kneltbefore his father, who enumerated his wrong-doings. Then Yixin toldthe butler to take his son to the Mandarin Clan Affairs Management.It meant that he wanted to punish his son by law. This was veryserious. There would be a bad record about the son's behavior. So thebutler begged Yixin to spare his son this time. But Yixin insisted.All the household came to beseech on their knees, even the wife ofEsquire Zaizhen, the daughter-in-law of Yixin. She should have beenjealous and let her husband be punished. But she was a kind woman anda nice wife. So Yixin softened a little. The butler, who had workedin the family when Yixin had been young, seized the opportunity andsaid that if his son was taken to the Mandarin Clan AffairsManagement, West Empress Dowager would surely know it and would beangry, which was not good to her health. She was not completelyrecovered yet. Then he suggested that the son could be confined inhis study till he mended his ways in his behavior. Yixin agreed tohis measure, but added that the windows secured from outside and thedoor locked from outside too.

September 10th, 2018, 01:51 PM
Thebutler often went to see the son, who wanted the butler to let himout. The butler wouldn't comply for fear that Yixin would takestricter measures. He advised the son that if he could send Lady Kuiback home to her husband, his father might go easy on him. The sonwas eager to get out. He wrote a letter to Lady Kui without a secondthought. The letter said that it was better for both of them that sheshould return home to her husband for the time being and when he gotout she could come back to him and that they could find some placesecluded to live together, forever and ever. The butler took theletter to Lady Kui and advised her to follow what Esquire Zaizhen hadsaid in the letter, adding that Prince Yixin would never agree totheir relationship since it involved Duke Kui.
NowLady Kui found herself between the devil and the deep sea. How couldshe go back to her husband since they had the settlement? She couldnever do that. She had nowhere to go except to the god of Hell. Nextday when the maid entered her bedroom, she gave out a loud shriek.The guards and servants rushed in to see what the matter was. LadyKui hanged herself. They reported to the butler, who didn't dare tolet Yixin know. The butler wanted to settle it secretly. He went tosee Duke Kui and told him that his wife had hanged herself. Duke Kuiwas stunned by the unexpected sad news, but a while later he said,“It's the best way for everybody.” They negotiated. The butlerpromised to take care of everything about Lady Kui's funeral andburial. Then he gave the husband ten thousand taels of silver as hushmoney. Some close friend who knew it joked with him that he sold hiswife's body, which was worth ten thousand taels.

September 12th, 2018, 01:39 PM
Chapter 33

Sincethe treaty between Russia and China was signed, Yili town would soonbe returned to Qing government. The secretaries were considering whowould be the most suitable candidate to take over the town and guardit. General Governor Zuo recommended General Zhang, who was alreadyin Xinjiang Province. The report of recommendation from GeneralGovernor Zuo said that that General Zhang was the most appropriateperson for the post. His bio was attached.
GeneralZhang was born in Zhejiang Province. He was often seen in casinos fora living when young. Once an elder relative scolded him for hisidleness and even boxed his ears in public. He felt humiliated andleft home. He went to Henan Province and found his uncle-in-law, whowas the mayor of Gushi Town. So he lived in the mayor's yamen and hadsome pocket money, too. He had never been educated and wasilliterate, though he was tall and good-looking, with a strong build.His relative, the mayor, despised him and didn't deign to give himany work. He idled away his time. He had a cousin, the daughter ofthe mayor, who was nicknamed a lady-scholar. The cousins had neverseen each other. At that time Henan Province was one of the areaswhere the Nian Army moved about.
Oneday, a horrible piece of news spread that the Nian Army would come toattack the town. A small town didn't have an army for its owndefense. The few policemen to enforce law and order could not beconsidered as a defensive force because they never had any experienceto fight on the battlefield. People were in a panic. The mayor couldnot but put up a notice to recruit young men. Three hundred youngpeople came to register, but none among them were capable enough tobe the leader. So the mayor put up another notice that whoever couldlead those three hundred young men to trounce the Nian Army wouldmarry his daughter. But no one dared to take the leadership, becausethe Nian Army outnumbered them tenfold, twentyfold or evenhundredfold. Someone joked with Zhang that he should try. Thisencouraged him. So he tore down the notice and went to see the mayor,his uncle-in-law, suggesting that three hundred people were notsufficient to safeguard the town and the best strategy was to ambushthe Nian Army. It sounded reasonable and feasible. The mayor agreedto it. Zhang led the young men out of the town and laid the ambushwhere the Nian Army would pass. All the gates of the town wereclosed. Other people stood behind the battlements. They planned tobeat the drums and wave the banners when the combat began, making itlook like more armed people would come out of the town to join thebattle.

September 14th, 2018, 01:44 PM
TheNian Army reached the town at night. They camped outside the town,intending to siege it next day. They thought that it was an easy jobto take over such a small town. But at midnight, Zhang and his threehundred young fighters assaulted the camp of the Nian Army, who wassurprised and panicked. The Nian Army didn't even know the number ofthe attackers. They only heard the cries of war everywhere and drumsbeating on the town walls and saw banners being brandished in thewind. The coincidence was that just at the time when the battle wasin the hottest, a detachment of the government army came to therescue and the Nian Army fled. So Zhang was conferred a title andmarried his beautiful and talented cousin. Then he was made the mayorof that town. No one knew that he could not read and write, becausehis wife read all the documents and wrote all the reports for him. Hewas gradually promoted to be the Financial Official of HenanProvince. But his illiteracy came out at last in the open. CritiqueOfficial Liu revealed the fact to West Empress Dowager in his report.There was a rule that illiterate people could not be officials, butthey could be made officers. So he became a general. General Zhangwas ashamed of his illiteracy and asked his wife to tutor him. Aftera few years, he was no longer illiterate. He was happy and proud ofhimself. When he learned that Critique Official Liu had committedsome serious offenses, had been deprived of his title, no title andno post of course, and lived now in destitution, he wrote a letter tohim with a silver note of one thousand taels enclosed. But he used aseal on the letter, bearing the word ILLITERATE. The empress dowagerswere delighted to hear the story and made him in charge of Yili Town.

September 18th, 2018, 01:10 AM
Therewere more policemen in Henan Province than in any other provinces,because there were more robbers and thieves in Henan Province. Therehad been a drought there and people were starving. Who is willing tobe starved to death? Disasters, whether natural or not, alwaysengender outlaws. But something more amazing was that some policemenhad two personalities They were policemen in uniforms in the daytimeand robbers or thieves in plain clothes at night. So these casescould never be solved. Only they never did such things in their ownjurisdiction.
Oncea rich merchant was robbed on the way home and he reported it to theyamen of the town where he lived. As a matter of course, the case hadno outcome. The merchant hired someone to privately investigate forhim. As a result, the chief suspect was a policeman called Hu, wholived in Zhenping Town, quite a distance away. The merchant filed alawsuit against Policeman Hu in the governor's yamen. The governortold the Judicial Official to detain Policeman Hu. So an order ofarrest came into the hands of the mayor of Zhenping Town. Mayor Mawas a scholar, having passed three government tests, but he was abookworm, hardly knew how to try a case. In fact, few mayors werefamiliar with law. So every yamen had some advisers like financialadviser and judicial adviser.

September 19th, 2018, 01:45 PM
MayorMa wanted to issue a warrant to take Policeman Hu into custody, butfirst he consulted with the judicial adviser by the name of Mao, whosaid that he didn't even know where Policeman Hu was at present.Mayor Ma wondered, “How can that be? Is he not on duty in thisyamen?” Mayor Ma had been assigned this post only a few daysbefore. He knew nothing about all the things he should know in thistown. So Judicial Adviser Mao told Mayor Ma that probably PolicemanHu just registered here as a policeman and was never on duty. Maybe,he could even be a gangster. Judicial Adviser Mao wanted to look intosome documents first. He went back into his own room and consultedhis notebook. Hu became a policeman through the recommendation ofanother policeman called Liu. So Judicial Adviser Mao sent forPoliceman Liu. When Liu came into his room, Mao said to him, “Nowyou are in a big trouble.” Policeman Liu asked what kind of troublehe was in. “You recommended Policeman Hu. Now the governor wantsMayor Ma to detain him for a case of robbery.” This was really adifficult case. Hu was the leader of gangsters in this town.Policeman Liu understood that he could haul Hu in, but his followerswould assassinate him for vengeance. But he could not turn down theassignment, either. He went to see the false policeman, the real gangleader Hu and told him everything. “Are you kidding?” Hu doubted.“Do I look like kidding?” Instead of answering, Policeman Liuqueried sternly and let him see the warrant. Hu took Policeman Liu toa back room and they laid out a scheme. Hu sent a large sum of moneyto Judicial Adviser Mao as a probe to his reaction. He figured thatif Mao declined, he would think of some other way, and if Maoaccepted, everything would be easy. And Mao took the bribery.
Anew prisoner was brought into the jail. It was a boy of fifteen.Policeman Liu asked him, “Who are you?” “I'm Wang.” said theboy. Policeman Liu slapped him on the cheek.

September 21st, 2018, 01:47 PM
“Now,who are you?” He asked the boy again.
“I'mHu.” The boy was on the verge of crying.
“So,remember, you are Hu, now.” Policeman Liu warned him. The boyworked in the kitchen of the ringleader Hu. He was brought in thepresence of Hu and Policeman Liu. He was told that Policeman Liuwould take him to jail. “Why? I did nothing wrong.” The boy saidtimidly.
“No.You didn't”
“Didn'tdo anything wrong.” Hu confirmed, but he said he wanted to make adeal with him, or he would have his parents killed. What could theboy do except to accept? The boy was put into prison, assuming thename of Hu. They assured him that he would not be sentenced to death,that he would only be imprisoned for a few years and after he wasreleased, he could get a wife and a big sum of money, enough to livecomfortably for the rest of his life. The boy believed them andaccepted the conditions.
Toshow that they would keep their promise, Policeman Liu treated theboy nicely. When Judicial Adviser Mao knew that it was a boy whosubstituted the ringleader Hu, Mao was afraid that Mayor Ma wouldfind it out, because the boy looked just like a boy. Policeman Liusuggested that if they could persuade Mayor Ma to interrogate the boyearly in the morning when it was still dark, he would not find outthat it was a boy. They could light only a couple of candles and tellthe mayor that the man Hu was a dwarf. So Mao went to see the mayorand reported to him that the bad policeman Hu was under arrest now.The mayor was hilarious to hear it, because it was a case thegovernor specified. If he couldn't get the man the governor wanted,he would lose his post. Judicial Adviser Mao added that as Hu was aringleader, it was best to question him secretly. The mayor agreed.The room for the interrogation was dim. Mayor Ma couldn't seeclearly, but he didn't care.

September 24th, 2018, 01:03 PM
“Yourname?” The mayor asked the boy. “I'm Hu.” The boy answeredaccordingly. “How old are you?” That was the routine question.“Twenty-one.” The prisoner didn't look like twenty-one years old.The mayor glanced at Judicial Adviser Mao, who was standing at hisside. Mao whispered into his ear that the prisoner was a dwarf. Themayor believed him. Mayor Ma didn't even think how a dwarf could be aringleader. (If the mayor asked, Mao was prepared to reply that thedwarf had kungfu. And it was not likely that the mayor would tell thedwarf to perform some kungfu as a proof.) Then the boy recited thestatement of confession, which had been prepared for him, that hisparents were old and starving and he had no other means to supportthem, that he had robbed some rich man so that he could buy food forthem. “Did you do it alone?” asked the mayor. This was a questionthat was not in the prepared statement. The boy didn't know how toreply and hesitated. When the mayor pressed, the boy told the truththat there had been four other people with him. In reality, the fourmen had done the robbery. The boy had stood on the side looking aftertheir things. The four people were gangsters under Hu, who had sentthem out to mug people wherever they could. They had gone through avillage where the boy had lived with his parents. They had alwaysbeen seeking for young boys to be trained as fresh blood of theirgang. So they had talked to the boy's parents, who could not say Noto such people, afraid that they would kill them. The gangsters hadgiven the parents fifteen taels of silver and taken the boy withthem. On the way back to their town, they had committed the crimewith the boy as the watcher.
Themayor wanted to have the four gangsters hauled in too. JudicialAdviser Mao advised him that the crime hadn't happened in hisjurisdiction and no one had requested him to arrest them. Hisassignment from the governor was to get Hu and send Hu to the highergovernment. That's it, and no more. The secret motto in theofficialdom then was to do exactly what he was ordered to do, and nomore, because if he overdid something beyond what he was ordered todo, he might touch a wrong chord that his superiors looked upon as ataboo.
Therefore,the mayor gave his verdict, which was the death sentence, because Huwas a ringleader of a gang, who had also done other crimes. He sentthe prisoner and a report to the higher government, which maintainedthe verdict as a routine procedure since the boy kept saying what wasin the statement of his confession. The boy didn't even know that hehad the death penalty. They hid the fact from him lest he should makesome trouble. So the judicial official on the province level had noreason to change the verdict. When all the documents were deliveredto the Judicial Ministry, the minister approved the death sentence asa rule.

September 26th, 2018, 01:16 PM
Whena note of the approval arrived in the governor's yamen, a newofficial was ordered to oversee the execution of the boy prisoner. Asthe boy realized that he was to be beheaded, he cried loudly that hewas not the man he was supposed to be. The new official was surprisedand reported to the judicial official, who insisted on the immediateexecution. But the new official felt that he could not execute awrong person. So he took the prisoner to the governor's yamen andreported it to the governor, who thought it very serious and orderedthe judicial official to interrogate the prisoner again. The boy toldeverything. The judicial official reported it to the governor, whoconsidered that if they wanted to be sure that the boy had told thetruth, they had to get the boy's father here to verify it. So thegovernor ordered the father to be fetched from where he lived. Thegovernor dreaded that if the real Hu got the wind of it, he mightsend someone to kill the father. So the governor dispatched one ofhis guards to the mayor of the town, in his jurisdiction was thevillage the father lived. The mayor went to the village himself andasked around who was the father Wang. When he found the father, hetook him along to the town. The father brought with him the fifteentaels of silver as evidence. The father was escorted to thegovernor's yamen by twenty soldiers for fear that the ringleader Huwould murder the father on the way. When the father and the son met,everything should be clear, but the judicial official persuaded thegovernor to maintain the original verdict, because he said that theboy was at least an accomplice and should be executed too. They nevermentioned Hu, the main suspect, again. Official Zhao in JudicialMinistry sensed something wrong and insisted that the case should bejudged in Judicial Ministry. So all concerned parties were brought tothe capital. After cross-questioning of them all, the details of thecase became clear. The result was that the ringleader Hu wasapprehended and executed. Policeman Liu was put in prison for theinterference with law. Judicial adviser Mao was expelled. Mayor Mawas removed from the office and banished to some remote province. Thegovernor and the judicial official were both dismissed from theirpositions as a punishment. The boy was declared not guilty and wenthome with his father.

September 28th, 2018, 01:37 PM
Chapter 34

EastEmpress Dowager was always honest and candid with West EmpressDowager as she thought that they were on the same boat. West EmpressDowager always felt an unbalance of emotions whenever she saw EastEmpress Dowager because East Empress Dowager as the former queen wasalways deemed a little higher in status than West Empress Dowager asthe former royal concubine. If East Empress Dowager said NO, shecould not say YES, like in the case when East Empress Dowager wantedto execute Little An, her favorite eunuch. Although East EmpressDowager was always nice to her, she didn't feel the same towards EastEmpress Dowager, but she hid her true colors and showed her falsenicety, which gave East Empress Dowager a good impression.
Oneday East Empress Dowager found a folded piece of paper on the bottomof her jewelry box. She forgot what it was. So she picked it up andunfolded it. That was Emperor Xianfeng's will to execute West EmpressDowager if she did anything seriously wrong. But it was a long timesince then, East Empress Dowager thought, and West Empress Dowagerhadn't done anything wrong. What's the use to keep it longer? Shethought if she showed this will to West Empress Dowager and thenburned it right before her eyes, West Empress Dowager should begrateful and be kind and nice to other people like she was to her.

October 1st, 2018, 01:53 PM
Shepocketed it and went to see West Empress Dowager. She showed it toWest Empress Dowager and then ignited it on the candle fire to showthat she entirely trusted West Empress Dowager. West Empress Dowagerthanked her profusely for her trust, but secretly she resented thewhole thing. She couldn't explain why her feelings were deeply hurt.Was it the distrust of her husband, the late Emperor Xianfeng? Was itthe generosity of East Empress Dowager? But in her opinion, this washumiliation. She always wanted to forget the difference in statusbetween East Empress Dowager and herself, but the whole thing aboutthe execution will just reminded her of it. She was not a personeasily forgiving.
OnApril 7, 1881, East Empress Dowager suddenly fell sick. It lookednot so serious at first when Doctor Xi went to look at her anddiagnosed that it was only cold. After taking some medicine, she feltbetter and had a stroll in the garden. When she was leaning on therailings to watch the goldfish in the pond, a eunuch came carrying acontainer. West Empress Dowager sent her some food specially cookedfor her. She opened the container and saw a rosy-colored steamedsweet cake. That was her favorite snack. It looked so inviting thatshe tasted a small piece from it. A little later, she felt an acuteheadache. Her limbs looked in cramp. Her head eunuch went to reportto West Empress Dowager, but she was napping and Head Eunuch Li saidthat she could not be disturbed. So when the doctors were summoned tosee East Empress Dowager, she was already dead. It was April 8, 1881.She died at the age of forty-five. The two empress dowagers workedtogether for twenty years from 1861 to 1881. According to the rule,the demise of an empress dowager should be immediately announced andher next-of-kin notified. But her death was publicized next day.

October 3rd, 2018, 01:46 PM
Whenthe confusing message that Empress Dowager died became known to thecourtiers, they all thought that it was West Empress Dowager, becauseshe had been sick for a long time. Then when it was made clear thatEast Empress Dowager died, all the courtiers were stunned. Theydidn't know what to think, because East Empress Dowager was alwaysknown in a good health. Therefore, rumors got legs and spread far andwide. It was suspected that she had been poisoned by West EmpressDowager as it was said that West Empress Dowager had sent some foodto East Empress Dowager on the same day she died. The suspicions werebased on the following facts:
(1)East Empress Dowager had insisted in the execution of Little An, thefavorite eunuch of West Empress Dowager.
(2)Once her new favorite eunuch Li was wrestling with other eunuchs asfun when East Empress Dowager passed on a sedan-chair, Li ignoredher. East Empress Dowager thought that Li had no respect for her andwanted to have Li beaten. When she complained to West EmpressDowager, West Empress Dowager disagreed and they had a quarrel.
(3)West Empress Dowager liked to watch operas and had a favorite actor,who often came to where West Empress Dowager lived. It was said thatonce East Empress Dowager caught West Empress Dowager lying with theactor on bed, very indecent behavior for an empress dowager. EastEmpress Dowager criticized her and West Empress Dowager had toexpress her regret and vow that she would never do such things again. She even had the actor put to death.
(4)West Empress Dowager thought that if East Empress Dowager told othersabout the will, she would be greatly embarrassed. She already felthumbled before East Empress Dowager. She could no longer bear suchhumiliation.
Addedup to the above facts, there were often minor differences of opinionsbetween the two empress dowagers. A sovereign's palace is always fullof secrets.

October 5th, 2018, 01:46 PM
Chapter 35

EsquireYang lived in Yuhang Town of Zhejiang Province. He had passed twogovernment tests and had given an honorary title. But he didn't gofor any official post. His family was rich. He liked to learn herbalmedicine and sometimes served the neighborhood as a doctor. Acrossthe street from his house there was a bean curd (toufu) shop, run bythe husband and wife. The wife was beautiful and had a nickname:Cabbage.White and watery. Esquire Yang and the husband and wife knew eachother since they were close neighbors. Mayor Liu of the town had afop of a son who only knew sex and merry-making, never learnedanything good and useful, let alone to study. But he was young andhandsome, full of energy and hormone. The place he frequented was thewhorehouse.
Oneday the son happened to pass the bean curd shop and saw the wifeCabbage, who was selling bean curd to the customers. He halted beforethe shop, fixing his eyes on her face. When other customers left, hewas still there, motionless like spellbound. Cabbage was wonderingwhat he was waiting for; so she asked, “How can I help you,Customer?” Roused from his daydreaming, he stepped forward,pretending that he wanted to buy some bean curd. But instead ofsaying how much bean curd he wanted, he introduced himself, “I amthe son of the mayor.” Often when people heard hisself-introduction, they would stand in awe of him. That was just theeffect he wished. Cabbage was awed, too. She apologized for not beingaware who he was and then begged to know how much bean curd hewanted. He ignored that and asked flirtingly, “How old are you,Beauty?” Cabbage only smiled. The son asked, “Are you married?”Cabbage replied this time, “Yes.” She hoped that he would leavesince she was married. Nevertheless, the son said, “If you marryme, you'll live comfortably and happily all your life.” He knewthat was impossible. His mayor father would never ascent to hismarrying with the left hand. He said so just as a temptation. Hewanted sex with her only. Nothing more. When the husband returned, hehad to leave.

October 8th, 2018, 02:04 PM
Fromthen on, he often came to the shop, but never bought any bean curd.When the husband was out, he flirted with her, teased her, importunedher, even threatened her. Some women are vain by nature. The sonoften bought her cosmetics and new expensive dress. At first Cabbagerefused to take anything from him, but he just left the things behindin the shop and scurried away. Cabbage had to hide the forced giftssomewhere lest her husband saw them and caused trouble. By degreesshe accepted the handsome young man, the son of the mayor. The sondidn't keep their adultery a secret as it should. He didn't care ifpeople knew it. Who dared to offend the son of the mayor? Soon thehusband learned it, but what could he do? He could not sue the son inhis father's yamen. On the contrary, the son was jealous of thehusband and desired to get rid of him.
Thehusband was taken ill one cold day. Cabbage went to Esquire Yang andasked him to come over to see her husband. So Esquire Yang followedher into their bedroom in the back of the shop. Esquire Yangdiagnosed that it was nothing serious and the husband just caughtcold. Yang prescribed some medical herbs and minerals, and left. Justas Cabbage was going to buy the medicine on the prescription in adrugstore, the son came to see her. When he knew that the husband wassick and she would go out to buy the medicine, he offered to go forher. He went to a drugstore and bought the medicine on theprescription. Then as if he suddenly remembered, he wanted to buy asmall packet of arsenic, to poison the mice in his house, heexplained. Back to the bean curd shop, he gave the medicine and thesmall packet to Cabbage and left in a hurry. Cabbage thought that themedicine and the stuff in the small packet were all prescribed. Soshe put everything together in a pot and stewed them. When it wasready, she poured the medicine juice into a bowl and fed it to herhusband when it was cool enough to take. Before long, the husbandcried pain and rolled all over the bed. Cabbage did not know what todo and just watched. Next moment, blood came out from his nose andmouth. Cabbage realized that her husband was poisoned and rememberedthe small packet, but she couldn't say anything about it.

October 10th, 2018, 02:04 PM
Insuch a case, the wife must report to the government. So a coronercame and detected the remaining trace of arsenic. He concluded thatthe husband was poisoned. He reported it to the mayor. The wife wasarrested as a suspect.
Themayor's son hadn't thought that the wife would be arrested. Now thesituation was out of his control. He went to the jail to visitCabbage, who blamed him for the murder.
“It'sno use to blame me.” He said, “No evidence against me. I reallycome to rescue you.”
“How?”Cabbage asked with hope.
“Youare only a suspect. If you can point out someone else who poisonedyour husband, you'll be released.” The son really liked Cabbage andwanted to save her life, but he knew that they must find a scapegoatto take the responsibility, or the case couldn't be closed.
“Ican''t think of such a person.” She sobbed.
“Whowrote you the prescription?” The son asked.
“EsquireYang.” The son knew him and even hated him for his learning becausehis father always compared him with Yang and scolded him forneglecting his studies. He said, “So, he's the one.”
“No,he's a nice man. I can't frame him.”
“Thenyou will die.” The son pressed. The law at that time was verysimple: whoever kills must be executed. “Please, do it for me.”said the son, “When you are released, we'll go somewhere else andlive together. Besides, Yang won't be executed because he has anhonorary title. At the worst he will be deprived of his title. Thistime...” (He implied that after the honorary title is taken away,if he commits such a crime again, he will die. But he won't die thistime.) Cabbage knew nothing of the law and believed him. By then, shebegan to love the son and wanted to live together with him since herhusband had died.
Afew days later, Cabbage was brought before the mayor for questioning.“How did you murder your husband?” The mayor interrogated.
“Ididn't murder my husband. It's a total mistake.” replied she on herknees.
“Ifyou didn't, who murdered your husband?” The mayor sounded fierce.
“Idon't know. Not me.” Her voice was so low that the mayor barelyheard her. He ordered the jailers to slap her face twenty times.Cabbage cried, “No. I have something to say.” So the mayor bidthe jailers to hold.
“Whenmy husband was sick, I asked Esquire Yang to diagnose. He wrote theprescription.”
“Whereis the prescription now?”

October 12th, 2018, 01:51 PM
“Athome.” So the mayor ordered Cabbage to be put back in the cell andsent one of his men to her home. The shop was closed down and thedoor was locked with a padlock from the outside by the police. Theman found a policeman to open the door for him. He went in andsearched the place and found the prescription on the table in thebedroom.
Atthe second interrogation, the mayor asked, “The arsenic is not onthe prescription. Why did you say he poisoned your husband?”Cabbage answered, “How could he write the arsenic on theprescription? He got the medicine for me from the drugstore.” Sheremembered that the son had told her that if she framed Esquire Yanghe would not be executed because he had an honorary title, whichsounded like an amulet from death. So she did it against herconsciousness. Many human beings are selfish. He or she will save hisor her own skin by exposing the skin of others. Esquire Yang didn'teven dream of it when the police came to his house for theapprehension. Yang thought that it must be a mistake and he would beback home after some explanation. When Yang was taken into the yamen,the mayor didn't ask him any questions. He just wanted Yang to writea statement of confession to what Cabbage had said. Of course Yangwouldn't comply. So the mayor told jailers to bring Cabbage into hispresence as a kind of witness. He let her repeat what she had said,not one word more, not one word less. Yang shouted to Cabbage, “Whyyou frame me?” But Cabbage was taken back to her cell as soon asshe finished her task. Yang was tortured since he wouldn't own thathe was guilty of the crime. He was tormented more than once till hisknees were broken. He had to write and sign the statement ofconfession in the hope that when he appealed to the highergovernment, this wrong would be righted. The verdict given by themayor was the penalty of death for both Cabbage and Yang. The reasonstated in the report, which the mayor had to send to the JudicialMinistry for their approval, was that they poisoned the husbandbecause the husband found out their adultery. Accordingly Yangappealed to the higher government. (That level of government isequivalent to the county government here, above the town and belowthe state. A state here is equivalent to the province there.) Thehigher government maintained the original verdict because the mayorhad bribed them from time to time. Yang then appealed to thegovernor, who did the same for the same reason.

October 15th, 2018, 02:43 PM
Yanghad a sister, older than he. The sister had been a wet nurse in thehousehold of a prince. When the bad news reached her, she went to begher former mistress, the wife of the prince, to save the life of hisbrother. The wife spoke to the prince about it. The prince told theelder sister to file in an appeal to the Judicial Ministry and in themeantime he would talk to the minister. So the sister asked someoneto write an appealing statement for her since she could not read orwrite. (In old China many women could not read and write. It wasthought that the moral principles for a woman included illiteracy.)She hid the written statement in the innermost pocket of her clothesand went to the Judicial Ministry yamen. The rule was that she shouldthrow herself on a piece of wood with nails attached on it, the sharpends upward. The elder sister put on a lot of thick clothes for herown protection. When she reached the yamen, she beat a drum there.Just outside the gate of every yamen, including local ones, thereplaced a drum for people to beat it whenever they wanted to sue or toappeal. When the drum-beating was finished, one of the policemenguarding the yamen put out a wooden piece at the gate, which wassupposed for the sister to fling herself on. So the sister shut hereyes and cast herself on the sharp nails. She held her head high sothat her face would not be injured. The sharp ends of the nailspenetrated her thick clothes and scratched a little on her skin. Someblood oozed out, but other than that, she was fine. Two policemenhelped her up on her feet and the wooden piece was removed. Then shetook out the appealing statement from her inner pocket and gave it toa policeman, who took it to the minister. After a while, the ministersummoned the sister in. It meant that the minister accepted herappeal. The sister knelt before the minister and said, “My brotheris a scholar. He can't kill anyone, not even a chicken.” Theminister didn't say anything because he didn't know the case yet. Hedismissed the sister and ordered all the individuals involved in thecase to be fetched from the town to the capital, to the JudicialMinistry yamen.

October 17th, 2018, 01:47 PM
Thetown was in a far southern province. It took more than a month forthe concerned parties to travel the long distance to the capital.When the minister questioned Cabbage, she was consistent with whatshe had said. The son of the mayor had warned her that if she changedanything in her statement of confession the consequence would be veryserious. But he hadn't explained how serious it would have been andCabbage hadn't doubted it. She really liked him and wanted him tolive. The minister had a meeting with his consultants. They all knewthat if Cabbage insisted on what she had confessed, they couldn'tchange the verdict. They had no reason to do so. They should find away out of it. Everyone in the room put on the thinking cap. All of asudden, one of the consultants said that he was struck with awonderful idea.
Ina small room of the Judicial Ministry building, a square table stoodin the center with two people seated at it opposite each other. Onewas Cabbage and the other was Yang. They were brought together inthis room by the jailers, who told them that the minister gave themthe dinner because they would be executed next day. They weresupposed to bid eternal adieu to each other at their last dinnerparty. There were four dishes on the table and even wine wasprovided. Yang was in total despair and felt that it was unfair tohim because he didn't murder anybody. Cabbage hung her head low,ashamed of herself for framing Yang. At first both of them keptsilent. No one cared to speak. To break the awkwardness, Yang began,“Cabbage, let's drink farewell. We may meet in next life.”Cabbage could think of nothing to say. So she remained in silence.She realized now that she had been taken in by the son. Perhaps, hehad never loved her from the beginning, but why had he wanted herhusband out of the way by poisoning him? “Cabbage,” Yang wenton, “We will die tomorrow. Can you tell me the truth so that Iwon't die ignorant?” Cabbage thought what was the use now even ifshe told the truth. They would be executed next day all the same. Soshe made no answer, still bending her head low. Yang was a couple ofyears older than she. They grew up together in the same neighborhood.When in childhood, they played together. Then Yang reached the age tobe tutored, he transferred his new knowledge to her by teaching herhow to read and write. As her family was not rich, Yang's fatherdidn't consent to their marriage. Then she was married to the latehusband. “Did you still remember we read the story West Chambertogether?” How could she forget? She recalled many scenes in theirchildhood and when they had grown up. She almost buried her chin inher chest. “Cabbage, speak to me, please. Let me hear your voiceonce more before I die.” Yang sounded like begging her. Her tearsdripped on her lap. “Don't cry, Cabbage. Talk to me. We have onlytonight to live.” Yang said softly. Cabbage sobbed out the words,“I'm sorry.”

October 19th, 2018, 02:29 PM
“Noneed to say sorry.” Yang sighed. After a while. “Do you hate me?”Cabbage asked bashfully.
“No.Why should I hate you? Everyone will die sooner or later.” Yangsaid philosophically.
“BecauseI framed you.” At last she said that.
“So,you did frame me?” Yang said without any surprise. Cabbage nodded.
“Nowtell me the truth, please.”
“What'sthe use now?”
“Atleast I know the truth before I die.”
Aftera lot of importunity from Yang, Cabbage told him the truth. Yangsighed and laughed and began to eat and drink. A jailer came intotheir room, holding a stack of paper in his hand. He told Cabbage tosign on the bottom of the last page. Cabbage didn't know what thatmeant, but she signed anyway. Why should she care what papers shesigned? She would soon die. She cared for nothing any more.
Nextday, both of them were brought before the minister. They thought theminister would send them to the execution ground. But the ministerasked Cabbage, “Why didn't you tell the truth in the localgovernment? I mean, at least you could do it in the governor'syamen.” Cabbage was confused. She was at a loss to understand whatthe minister had just asked. This was the ruse they had used to drawthe truth out of Cabbage. The minister had hidden himself in the nextroom with some of his consultants. They had been eavesdropping towhat Yang and Cabbage would have said. A consultant had written downall the facts Cabbage had confessed to Yang. The minister issued anorder to fetch the mayor, the son of the mayor and the owner of thedrugstore, who had sold the arsenic to the son. When the drugstoreowner pointed out that it was the son of the mayor, not Yang, who hadcome to him to buy the arsenic, the son could no longer deny hiscrime. So the original verdict was invalid. The son was executed. Themayor was removed from his office and exiled to a remote province.Cabbage and Yang were proved not guilty and released. Yang went backto his home in the southern province. He was handicapped on the kneesfor life.
Thecase was closed. Many officials in that southern province were eitherdismissed from their posts or demoted, because they had misjudged acase that had involved two innocent lives. The minister wrote areport to West Empress Dowager. She was interested in the case andcurious to see what Cabbage looked like and so summoned Cabbage toher presence. In ordinary circumstances, only courtiers above acertain rank could be present before an empress dowager. Cabbage wasa special case. After the interview, Cabbage became a nun.

October 22nd, 2018, 02:04 PM
Chapter 36

GeneralGovernor Zuo finished his task in the northwestern provinces and wassummoned to the capital. First, he was given the title of a primeminister. Then he was appointed to be a secretary. Everyday he wenton duty in the office of the Secretarial Bureau. Other secretariesheld him in certain esteem due to his fame. But he was not a modestman. He boasted a lot about his fighting merits in the northwesternprovinces. So by degrees he lost the deference of his colleagues.Everyone wished that he would soon retire since he was alreadyseventy, though still in a comparatively good health.
Thedivision of the garrison of the Forbidden City had an infamy for baddiscipline and inability to fight. Zuo arrived in the capital,bringing a division of his own troops. He offered to Prince Yihuan,who was in charge of the garrison division, that he could send histrainers to drill the garrison division. Yihuan took his offer as adisdain to his garrison division. He declined of course. ThenSecretary Zuo proposed to fix the dikes of the Yongding River nearthe capital, using his division. So the Secretarial Bureau consentedto his proposal.
Afterthe decease of East Empress Dowager, West Empress Dowager began toestablish her sole and total authority. Since Governor Li of ZhidiProvince had been the Two River General Governor and still had someinfluence in the Yangtze River area, she wanted to erase his rootsthere. The best way was to make Zuo the Two River General Governor,because Zuo always opposed what Governor Li did. So Zuo left thecapital for the south of Yangtze River. The head of the Two RiverArmy Supplies General Bureau was the brother-in-law of Governor Li.Li had appointed his marital relative as the head when he had beenthe Two River General Governor there. His brother-in-law was apower-maniac. He didn't know anything about war, but he alwaysbragged that he would be a good general if he could command armies inany war. He neglected his duties. He let all the defensive devicesalong the Yangtze River go into a state of uselessness. When theofficers in charge reported the situation, he ignored the report anddidn't have them fixed. As West Empress Dowager got a report aboutit, she removed him from his office.
GovernorZuo's guards were all generals, who were faithful to him. Once Zuosent one of his generals to the Financial Official, whose positionwas the second in rank under the governor. So he thought that hisrank should be above a guard from the governor's yamen. When theguard didn't show due respect to him, he went to complain to Zuo, whotold the guard to apologize to the Financial Official. The FinancialOfficial was jocund because the governor saved his face. When he tookhis leave, the guards were standing in a row to give him a farewellsalute. They were all dressed in the uniform of a general, whose rankwas higher than that of the Financial Official. The FinancialOfficial was embarrassed. This was a frequently-told joke about Zuo.

October 24th, 2018, 02:32 PM
GovernorYan was summoned to the capital. He was a man of moral integrity,never taking briberies. He did everything by the book, seldom cuttingthe slacks. There was a lot of malpractice and abuse of law inInternal Revenue Ministry. So West Empress Dowager put Yan there asthe minister in the hope that he would make some reforms. On the dayof the interview, West Empress dowager told Minister Yan that if hehad any problems, he could directly report to her and she wouldalways support him in his performance of his duties. Minister Yan wasgrateful for the trust and vowed to do his best up to herexpectation.
Theeldest son of Yan was an official in the capital. Yan stayed with hisson to save money for the government, because otherwise thegovernment should find him a residence. Minister Yan was well-knownfor his strictness. All the officials in the Internal RevenueMinistry warned each other to be extra careful. The very next day hewent to his yamen and on the very first day he wanted to check allthe general ledgers. Usually a new minister would rest a few days athome after his appointment. When he did go to his yamen he would taketime to get familiar with everything in the yamen before he reallystarted on his routine obligations. But that was not the way withMinister Yan. He used a Chinese abacus to confirm that all theentries, the revenue and the expenditure, were correct.
Therewere two offices in the Internal Revenue Ministry. The South Officedealt only with the finance of the Mandarin Clan, which was not sosignificant. The North Office managed all the fiscal businessthroughout the country. As this was an important branch, all theofficials working there were from the Mandarin Clan. But it was knownthat officials of the Mandarin Clan were not so versed in math andcalculation as officials of the Han Clan. So things there were reallydone by clerks, who could be from the Han Clan. What was the use tohave officials there? Minster Yan suggested to West Empress Dowagerthat officials of the Han Clan should be appointed in that office.

October 26th, 2018, 04:37 PM
WhenMinister Yan sent for the head of the North Office and asked him howmany taels of silver were in the silver warehouse to that date, hereplied that they hadn't counted yet. It was a wrong answer.Actually, no one would count the taels of silver everyday. There wasa logbook there to write down the numbers of silver taels coming inand going out, and the totals each day. It showed that he knewnothing about his duties. Minister Yan decided to send for the clerkdoing the logging, but he was on the sick leave. So Yan called in anaide of the head official. The aide took care of internal revenue.When Minister Yan questioned him how much he had gotten by then, heput down a stack of revenue books that he had brought in before Yan,stating that all were here that Yan wanted to know. He meant thatMinister Yan should look into these books himself to get the answerhe wanted. So far so ridiculous. Patiently, Yan said, “Just tellme.” The aide said that since he didn't know how to use an abacushe couldn't add up. Yan suppressed his wrath and told him coldly thathe was fired. The aide left nearly in tears.
TheInternal Revenue Ministry had also three warehouses to store silvertaels and other stuffs. Stationary Warehouse held paper, ink bars,brushes and minerals using as coloring in paintings, and otherthings, such as sandalwood, yellow wax, vermilion and small greenstones to be ground into powder as coloring material. Satin Warehousehad scrolls of satin, silk and brocade stocked there as rewards tocourtiers. Silver coming from all the provinces was kept in theSilver Warehouse, a piece of silver worth ten taels. Although therewere sentinels guarding the warehouses, things were often stolen,especially from the silver warehouse. Who could get into the silverwarehouse as there were more guards than at other two warehouses? Itwas rumored that whenever silver transported from any provincereached the warehouse, some carriers were hired to carry the silverpieces into it. The carriers were young and strong. They werestripped naked every time they went in or came out so that they couldnot hide silver pieces in their clothes. But they developed a skillto stuff the silver pieces into their anuses the last time they cameout of the silver warehouse. They had been practicing the skill athome by stuffing pebbles of the similar size into their anuses. Itwas said that the most skillful would hold eight pieces of silver ata time. That was eighty taels. One tael of silver was worth onethousand coins of bronze and a piece of bean curd cost only a coupleof coins at that time.

October 29th, 2018, 02:34 PM
MinisterYan wanted to have a look into these warehouses, which were situatedat three different locations. He went to the Stationary Warehousefirst. When he got there, the official in charge accompanied him togo around. He had intended to match entries in the logbook with thestorage, but when he stepped beyond the gate of the warehouse, he wasstunned to find the place in a real mess. The floor was covered witha thick layer of all sorts of colorful things. Those recognizablewere specks of minerals and fragments of paper mixed with dust. Whenhe was hesitating to tread on the carpet of sundries, the officialwent in first, crunching noises heard under his feet. Yan followedsuit. Some stacks of paper were yellowed, being stored there for along time. Yan asked, “Did anyone come to inspect before?” Theofficial answered, “Yes. But the routine is that they only check ifthe windows are secured or the roof doesn't leak.” Suddenly a mouseran across before them. The official shrugged. Yan turned about andleft the place. He didn't have the slightest notion how to clean theplace and still save all the useful things. Next place was the SatinWarehouse, inside which there were rows after rows of racks holdingscrolls with dust on them, too. At least it looked better than theinside of the Stationary Warehouse. Yan contemplated to send a clerkover to count the scrolls to see they matched the numbers in thelogbook. The Silver Warehouse was the last location he visited. Hewanted to check the scales there, because it was said that theweights used on the scales were not all standard, some lighter andsome heavier. When the silver pieces came in, they would put onheavier weights so that more taels were needed. Say, if one hundredtaels were required to log in, but when the weights were heavier thanthe standard ones, one hundred taels might only weigh ninety taelsand so ten extra taels must be put on the scales to make them lookexactly one hundred taels. When the silver pieces were given out,they used lighter weights so that when only ninety taels were put onthe scales, the reading would be one hundred. Yan had the weightsmeasured and they were not standard. He had the non-standard weightsconfiscated and the officials in charge arrested and put into jail ofthe Judicial Ministry. All in all many incompetent officials wereremoved from the Internal Revenue Ministry.

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October 31st, 2018, 02:23 PM
Beingscholars, the critique officials set their hearts on beautifulwording in their reports, but most admired among the averagecourtiers was the humorous style. A Mandarin Clan nobleman opened acasino. In the collection of the gambling debts owed to him, he had agambler beaten to death. The corpse was left there for three dayswithout anyone daring to bury it. So a critique official sent in areport, saying, “It is totally reasonable and rightful for anobleman to kill a common gambler. This Critique Official can't havethe audacity to protest it. But thinking of our kind-heartedancestors who always showed mercy even to birds and animals, thisCritique Official can't help feeling that a body exposed on the deathspot for days and pecked by the famished vultures is not what ourancestors would expect of us. So this Critique Official beg to havethe local government to inter the body in a proper manner so thatpeople will think that Empress Dowager are kind even to the dead.”He didn't complain about the killing, but about the exposure of thecorpse. As a result, the nobleman was deprived of his title and wasno more a nobleman, just a man.
Therewas another report to accuse two courtiers, stating that the firstone had no other merits than took no briberies and the other courtierhad no other merits than took briberies It meant that one courtierwas useless, though free from corruption and the other courtier wasuseless and greedy. So the result was that the first courtier wasdemoted and the second courtier was removed.

November 2nd, 2018, 02:22 PM
Anotherfunny report was a self-criticism from a deputy minister. This deputyminister was known as a man of gallantry. He had been twice sent tothe southern provinces as an examiner to supervise the localgovernment test. The first time he was in Zhejiang Province. When thetest was over, the examiners were permitted to relax for a few daysbefore they should report back in the capital. The deputy ministerrented a pleasure boat on the Fuchun River for sightseeing. There wasalways a girl or two on that sort of boat to wait on the patrons.People on the boat usually wore no shoes. The girl was alsobare-footed. Her feet were of a natural size. Many foreigners knowthat in old China women had small deformed feet by binding their feetvery tight when really young. As the body grew up, the growth of thefeet were encumbered, thus deformed into a triangular shape. Inreality, the small deformed feet on a woman were only prevalent inMing Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. It might be originated a littleearlier. Only girls of the Han Clan in the middle class families andabove the middle class had kept the bad habit to deform their feet.The girls of the Mandarin Clan or of other minorities never did that.Even girls of the Han Clan in poor families didn't do that, either,because they must help their families with work. How could they workwith small deformed feet? Some ancient scholars described the womenstanding on their small deformed feet as the twigs of the weepingwillows swaying in the breeze. This deputy minister was a man of theMandarin Clan and loved natural feet of a woman. Besides, girls inthe southern provinces were known to be gentle and delicate whilegirls in the north to be buxom and robust. Many men in the northliked girls in the south, for a change. So the deputy minister likedthe boat girl very much and wanted to buy her as his concubine. Buthe could not take the girl with him to the capital, because thepurchase of a girl to be his concubine would paint a dark color onhis character and reputation. So he paid the family beforehand andtold them to bring the girl to his residence in the capital a monthlater. But the girl was never delivered. He didn't know why and hecouldn't report to any yamen. He felt like a fool being cheated outof his money.

November 5th, 2018, 02:48 PM
Thesecond time he went to Fujian Province as an examiner. After the testwas over, he detoured to the Fuchun River on his way back to thecapital in hopes that he might come across the girl he had paid for,but no such luck. Anyway, he met another girl on another pleasureboat. She was tall and fair-skinned, with only a smattering offreckles across the bridge of her nose. He fell in love with her atthe first sight. He bought her as his concubine. But this time hetook her along, afraid to lose her like the last time. However, heknew that any critique official could write a report to criticize himfor it when they learned it. He didn't want to hide his beloved likestolen merchandise. So he thought that it would be better tocriticize himself before anyone else did. His self-criticism reportwent like this, “This deputy minister had five brothers who wereall deceased and had no sons to last their lineage. This deputyminister has only two sons and two sons are not enough to be adoptedby five brothers' families for the lineage purpose. Therefore, thisdeputy minister bought a girl of eighteen on the way back. As thisdeputy minister is known as honest and upright, it is not fair ifwhen other courtiers have faults this deputy minister reports andwhen this deputy minister has faults himself, he doesn't report. Thisdeputy minister beg to be punished for that.”
WestEmpress Dowager had never read such a report before during the twentyyears she had stayed in power. She gave it to the secretaries for adiscussion. One of the secretaries never liked the deputy ministerand proposed to remove him from the post and others neverspecifically liked him and agreed. So West Empress Dowager approvedtheir proposal. The deputy minister lost his title and post. Hedidn't care and moved out of the capital to live in a secluded placewith his girl. Happy ever after?

November 7th, 2018, 03:20 PM
GovernorDing of Sichuan Province had a reputation of being never corrupt. Henever accepted any gifts or money except his salary, which was eleventhousand taels of silver annually, less than one thousand taels amonth. All the governors and mayors and other chief officialsemployed their private advisers to help with their handling of allthe affairs. They paid them out of their own pockets. So less thanone thousand taels monthly was really not sufficient for a governor.He had to throw some old clothes into a trunk and seal it with themark of the governor. The trunk went to a pawnshop for two hundredtaels of silver. Regularly the owner or the manager would look at thethings to see if they were worth the amount of money the pawneeasked. The pawner and pawnee could bargain for how much each of themwould be willing to give and take. But the trunk was sealed and theowner could not check to evaluate. Anyway, he must trust thegovernor. When the trunk came to the pawnshop toward the end of everymonth, the money was always repaid at the beginning of every monthand the trunk would be taken back. Year in and year out, the monthlyrecycle went on as a routine until the governor was promoted to someother place.
OnceGovernor Ding went back to his home land on a visit. When he traveledthrough another province, the governor of that province gave himthree thousand taels in silver note, saying that if he didn't deignto take it, it meant an affront to the governor of that province.Governor Ding had to accept it. But on his journey back he wentthrough that province again and returned the three thousand taels tothe governor of that province.
Itwas not easy to be a good governor or a good mayor or whatever. Ifhis policy was beneficial to the common people, it would certainly beunfavorable to rich citizens. While he was welcomed by most people,he offended the local landlords and wealthy merchants. They wrotesomething about him, called “Your Heaven and Earth.” It went likethat “The name of Your Excellency shocks Heaven and Earth. Thearrival of Your Excellency gladdens Heaven and Earth. The policy ofYour Excellency darkens Heaven and Earth. At the departure of YourExcellency we thank Heaven and Earth.”

November 9th, 2018, 02:40 PM
Chapter 37

Franceand China were then at war about the Vietnam issue. Vietnam wasalways under China's protection. In the summer of 1862, Vietnam wasforced to sign a treaty with France that Vietnam was under Frenchprotection. During next five years the French navy landed on thesouth of Vietnam and gradually occupied the southern part. In 1873,France invaded the northern part. The Vietnamese government sentGeneral Liu to resist the French army. General Liu was a Chinese andhad joined the Peaceful Army. After the Peaceful Army had failed, hehad escaped into Vietnam. He brought his troops there, which werecalled Back Banner Army because the banners he used were black. TheBlack Banner Army went to fight the French army and killed itsgeneral. So next year France and Vietnam signed a new treaty inSaigon. Qing government kept neutral at that time because they werebusy dealing with Japan about the Taiwan issue.
WhenFrance encroached on the north of Vietnam again, China was dulyinvolved. Many courtiers favored to wage war against France inVietnam. Prince Yihuan leaned to that opinion, but Prince Yixin hadhis own view that China could not cope with France in Vietnam and itwas better to have a peace talk. Since the opinions were notunanimous, the policy could not be decisive as to whether to declarewar or to have a peace talk. When West Empress Dowager finally madethe decision to prepare for war while seeking a peace talk, thechance for some military actions were missed. A great number ofFrench army already set foot on Vietnam and began to attach the BlackBanner Army. If Qing government could have sent its army into Vietnamto reinforce the Black Banner Army and occupied all the strategicallyimportant places before the French army had done, the final victorymight have belonged to China.

November 12th, 2018, 01:56 PM
Qinggovernment promised to provide the Black Banner Army with ammunitionand provisions through Guangxi Province, but the governor of GuangxiProvince gave the black Banner Army only a little of the promisedstuffs. How could they resist the attack of the French army? TheBlack Banner Army was beaten this time. Then Qing government didlaunch some detachments into Vietnam for reinforcement, but amongthose detachments, they could not strategically support each otherwhen required by the situation. The result was that they were alsooverpowered by the French army. News about the loss of some occupiedtowns in Vietnam came to the capital, the courtiers made angrycomments and one of the critique official wrote a report that thesecretaries should be blamed. So West Empress Dowager blamed Yixinfor it and removed him from all his offices. She then changed allmembers of the Secretarial Bureau and put Yihuan, her brother-in-lawand the biological father of the present emperor, in charge. ButYihuan was not a bit as talented as Yixin. Therefore, things didn'tget any better, even though the Qing government army and the BlackBanner Army did win some battles later in Vietnam.
SomeFrench warships came to cruise near the coast of Fujian Province withthe intention to land there. Someone suggested that the Chinesesouthern sea navy could take the initiative to sink the Frenchwarships, but those who wanted a peace talk, including Governor Li ofZhidi Province, opposed to it. They held the opinion that Chinashould not initiate the war. Then the French warships began to attackthe small Chinese navy and sank four Chinese warships. West EmpressDowager was really enraged and declared war against France. SinceChina could not fight France on the sea, the strategy was to let theFrench soldiers come on the land and to ambush them. But Frenchsoldiers didn't come on the shore.
TheFrench navy went to attack Taiwan. China didn't have any warships atTaiwan. The general who guarded Taiwan sank some boats to block theentry into the Fresh-Water Harbor. The one thousand French soldierslanded on Taiwan and had a fight with the Chinese soldiers, whooutnumbered them. The French soldiers were driven back onto the sea,to their warships. So China won battles on land and France on thesea. However, no war can go on forever. It must end one way or theother, either in entire conquest or in a truce. A treaty was signedbetween Qing government and France.

November 14th, 2018, 01:33 PM
AfterSushun had been executed, Yihuan had been appointed as the head ofthe royal bodyguards, the special division, with Ronglu as hisassistant. Yihuan had all the ambition, but lacked the abilities. When Yixin had been in charge, Yihuan had envied him. Now as Yihuantook over the charge of the state affairs, Yixin said to a friend,“There is a Chinese saying. It goes like that: when you seesomeone shouldering a burden, you don't know how heavy it is.”After only a few months, Yihuan came to feel the heavy burden on hisshoulders, but none he could shift it to.
Oneday Yihuan went to see Yixin and said, “I really envy you of yourleisure, no responsibilities.”
“Howcan that be?” Yixin smiled at him.
“Couldyou help me?” Yihuan really needed someone who could share hisburden. But what could Yixin say? He had been forced to retire whenthe empire needed him. So he just sighed. Yihuan knew that itdepended on West Empress Dowager, not on Yixin himself. So later, atan earliest chance, he hinted to West Empress Dowager that she shouldlet Yixin resume some of the responsibilities, but West EmpressDowager was adamant about her earlier decision, because many thingsshe wanted to do and Yixin would say NO.
WestEmpress Dowager could never forget that when she had wanted torebuild the Round-Bright Garden, many courtiers, headed by Yixin,strongly opposed to it. Her plan had failed. Now Yixin was out ofthe way and so were many of his supporters. If she wanted to rebuildthe garden now, no one would say NO to her. But where was the moneyfor it? The cost was too much, she knew it herself. Finally shedecided to repair the buildings at the Three Lakes and made it aroyal garden. She named it the Garden of Good health & Harmony. But there was still the question: where was the money?

November 16th, 2018, 01:41 PM
Someonesuggested to her head eunuch Li that they could use part of the moneythat was supposed to build a strong navy. After the Sino-French war,which was resulted in a treaty that Vietnam became under the Frenchprotection after a lot of bargaining, West Empress Dowager and theSecretarial Bureau had had a meeting and had decided to build astrong navy. The money needed came from customs duties and salt taxcollections, and also from the contributions of all the provinces. West Empress Dowager thought that since the war already ended therewas no urgency to build a strong navy immediately. That was why thesmall Chinese fleet was defeated on the sea by Japan in 1894.
WestEmpress Dowager ordered to set up the Navy Yamen and made Yihuan thehead of it. All the expenses in the construction of the garden camefrom the Navy Yamen and Yihuan could never say NO. Why didn't WestEmpress Dowager order the Internal Revenue Ministry pay the expenses?That ministry should be a reasonable place to pay for theexpenditure. It was because Minister Yan would refuse to pay unlesshe was removed. And West Empress Dowager didn't want to remove himfor no reason at all, or for that reason. She still wanted to keep agood image in the eye of people. So the repair work was under waysecretly.
Herhead eunuch Li thought of another way to get fund for the building.The emperor would soon reach the age to get married. They needed toprepare for the wedding. So West Empress Dowager ordered the InternalRevenue Ministry to collect money for that purpose. Though it was abit early, Minister Yan could not refuse that. And West EmpressDowager transferred the money to the reconstruction.

November 19th, 2018, 01:43 PM
TheRoyal Family Affairs Management was put in charge of thereconstruction. They were also building a stage right close to whereWest Empress Dowager lived. It was supposed to finish before herbirthday. Three days before her birthday, West Empress Dowagerthought that the stage should have been completed by then. So shewent there to have a look, but it was not completely done yet. Someofficials in charge of the job pleaded that they would accomplish itbefore her birthday. But West Empress Dowager was petulant and finedthem each for three thousand taels of silver. The silver taels shouldbe handed in before a certain date. When an official did not possesssuch an amount of taels, West Empress Dowager sent a eunuch to scoldhim. It was a custom in Qing Dynasty. If a courtier did somethingwrong, or really did something not to the liking of the emperor, theemperor would send a eunuch to his residence to scold him. Thecourtier must prostrate before the eunuch listening to whatever hewould say. The eunuch went there to represent the emperor; so thecourtier should receive the eunuch on his knees. At first the eunuchjust pointed out what mistakes the courtier had made and expressed inthe name of the emperor that the courtier should not make the samemistakes again. But eunuchs were often abnormal due to their lack ofhormone. Therefore the reproach developed into calling of names, evenfoul names. It was deemed an insult to courtiers because eunuchs werenot thought as complete human beings, that is, human beings lackingsomething very important. If a courtier didn't want to hear the namecalling, he should bribe the eunuch. It also depended on the mood ofthe eunuch. If the eunuch just got reprimanded he would take out onthe courtier whom the emperor sent the eunuch to chide. That day, theeunuch was not in a happy state of mind and the courtier had no moneyto bribe him. He called the courtier all kinds of dirty names hecould think of. The courtier blushed and tears trickled down hischeeks. At the end of the rebuking rite the courtier mush thank WestEmpress Dowager for sending the eunuch to scold him.

November 21st, 2018, 02:14 PM
TheGarden of Good Health & Harmony (also called Summer Palace thoughit is not the Summer Palace in Rehe. Any place where the emperor wentlike on a vacation in the summer could be called the Summer Palace.)is the best-kept existing royal garden in the present capital now. Ithas a concentration of the best ancient buildings as well as stylesof gardening. The total area is two hundred and ninety hectares.
TheGarden of Good Health & Harmony was first named the Garden ofClear Ripples, which was burnt down by allied forces of Great Britainand France in 1860. Reconstruction started twenty-five years laterand was completed in 1895, and the name was changed to the Garden ofGood Health & Harmony. The design gives prominence to theLongevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. Many spots of scenery were builtin imitation of those on the West Lake in Hangzhou City in ZhejiangProvince. It is really a miniature West Lake.
EasternPalace Gate is the main entrance to the Garden of Good Health &Harmony. The opening in the center was for the emperor and empressexclusively. The two side openings were for the use of princes andcourtiers. Eunuchs and soldiers used side gates to the south andnorth. The name plaque “The Garden of Good Health & Harmony”in Chinese characters in front of the gate was written by EmperorGuangxu. The stone slab in front of the gate bears a carving inrelief of two dragons playing with a pearl, a symbol of imperialauthority.
Benevolence& Longevity Hall was originally named the Diligent inAdministration Hall. The present name came into being during thereign of Emperor Guangxu. It was used by West Empress Dowager andEmperor Guangxu to receive courtiers.

November 23rd, 2018, 02:57 PM
Thecorridor runs seven hundred and twenty-eight meters long, from a moongate in the east to Shizhang Pavilion in the west. All the twohundred and seventy-three sections are decorated with more than eightthousand paintings of landscapes, flowers and human figures. It isthe longest and most famous corridor in the world.
DispersingClouds Hall is one of the main buildings on the Longevity Hill. Itwas specially built for West Empress Dowager to receive her birthdaygreetings. Corridors link the main hall to side houses on both sides.Pillars in crimson color and the roof with golden glazed tiles dazzlebrightly in sunshine.
BuddhaFragrance Pavilion stands on a stone terrace of twenty-one metershigh on the sheer front side of the Longevity Hill. It overlooks theKunming Lake in front and Zhihuihai Buddha Hall in the back. Otherbuildings stretch on either side of it in a neat symmetrical pattern.
TheMarble Boat was made with huge stone blocks in 1755. The immovableboat of thirty-six meters long has two tiers. It was placed in theKunming Lake to symbolize the steadfast rule of the Qing Dynasty. Iflooking south from the Longevity Hill, the Seventeen-Arch Bridge andthe Nanhu Island seem floating on the Kunming Lake and theSeventeen-Arch Bridge, looking like a rainbow, is eight meters wideand one hundred and fifty meters long and links the East Causewaywith the Nanhu Island on the Kunming Lake.
Therewas a phony business street, called Suzhou Street, laid out along theRear Lake in The Garden of Good Health & Harmony in the style ofa market place along a river in South China. Whenever West EmpressDowager and the emperor went there, the eunuchs and palace maidswould amuse them by acting like shop assistants, hawkers orcustomers. West Empress Dowager was delighted and enjoyed the placevery much.

November 26th, 2018, 02:39 PM
Governor Li of Zhidi Province had a maxim that Learn from foreigners to conquer foreigners West Empress Dowager liked his maxim. Once he suggested that Qing government should print and issue banknotes. The advantage was, as he reasoned, that one tael of silver could be used as two taels. It sounded just wonderful, but how could that be? For example, he said, if there were five million taels of silver in circulation, and based on that, the government could release banknotes worth five million taels. So the five million taels of banknotes, plus five million taels of silver already in circulation, made ten million taels. The currency was doubled. The property of the government was doubled, too, in their opinion. It was better than to borrow money. When one borrows money one must pay the interest. The suggestion came into the hands of Prince Yihuan, who supported the idea fervently. For that purpose, they must open banks first. For fear that people wouldn't like a foreign name, they called banks as silver shops. No argument here so far. Considering that West Empress Dowager would look upon the silver shops as her personal safes, Governor Li insisted that the general manager to run those silver shops must be a foreigner, because he thought that a foreign manager could resist any unreasonable demand from West Empress Dowager. But the internal revenue minister of the Mandarin Clan, who was the father-in-law of the late Emperor Tongzhi, was against the idea to use a foreigner as the general manager. He argued that a foreign manager would take all the silver in the silver shops to his own country. It would be like to hire a thief to guard the treasury house or put a wolf on the task to look after the sheep. He went to see Prince Yihuan, voicing his opposition and threatening with his resignation from the post. Prince Yihuan had to solace him. As a result, the plan aborted.

November 28th, 2018, 03:14 PM
Thesecond suggestion of Governor Li was to build a railroad in ShandongProvince along the river. But many conservative courtiers opposed it.Their reasons were: (1) If the dike broke, the river would flood overthe railroad. (2) Though transportation by train was faster than byship, when the train was used instead of the ship, many peopleworking on the ship would be out of job and became outlaws. (3)Although the train was convenient to convey the soldiers here andthere during a war, if a meter of the rail was demolished, the wholeline went dead. What was the use then? And it was impossible to guardthe line from end to end. (4) If the designed railroad line must cutthrough some grave fields, the corpses would surely be dug up, whichwould damage the fengshui(something like geomancy. The theory is that the location of thegrave and to which direction the grave faces will affect the fortuneof the family.) and brought calamity to the families. The last onewas the main point they wanted to make.
PrinceYihuan could still remember that in 1865 the first railroad had beenbuilt in China. It had been outside the capital, built by a Britishmerchant as a sample, only half a kilometer long. When it had begunto whistle and rumble, the crowds who had come to look had got in apanic, crying “Monster! Monster!” Qing government had ordered thewhole thing taken apart and removed. The second railroad had beenbuilt by a British company in 1877, which ran from Shanghai to theoutlet of the Wangpu River with freight carriages and passenger carsmixed. The business had been good, though there still were someconservative people calling it monster. Unfortunately it had run overa pedestrian who had died on the spot. It had duly occasioned a lotof protests and demonstrations. The Foreign Affairs Yamen had had tointerfere and had purchased the railroad from the British company fortwo hundred eighty-five thousands taels of silver. Then thegovernment had taken apart the trains and rails and sunk them in thesea. The third railroad had been constructed in 1881 near TangshanTown for the coal mine. It lasted for nine kilometers to convey coalfrom the mine. Only the freight train was not drawn by a locomotive,but by horses and donkeys. A laughing stock among the foreigners.

November 30th, 2018, 02:35 PM
Chapter 38

In1886, the emperor was sixteen. It was the time that the empressdowager should let him handle the state affairs alone, though she wasnever willing to do so. But she had to, at least in name. When shemade the declaration to the courtiers that she would return the powerto the emperor, Yihuan, the emperor's biological father, begged heron his knees to postpone the return of power till the emperor wastwenty years old and more mature. By tradition, when the adoptedemperor reached the age to take over the power, the natural fathercouldn't occupy any office and must retire utterly from the politicalstage lest he should become an over-emperor and interfere with theadministration of the state affairs of his biological son, theemperor.
Theother courtiers also implored West Empress Dowager to postpone it fora couple of years. But West Empress Dowager persisted in herdecision. Yihuan and some courtiers sent in a written petition thatwhen the emperor came into power, he must still ask for the opinionsof West Empress Dowager before he made any decisions or appointed anyofficials and officers. West Empress Dowager was glad to accept it,because she would then return the power only in name, not in reality.The emperor was not happy, but he could say nothing.
OnFebruary 15, 1887, the power-returning ceremony was held. Theemperor got up very early. At four o'clock in the morning,accompanied by some officials, he went to the place where theportraits of the ancestors were hung and he kowtowed to theportraits. At half past eight o'clock, he went to see West EmpressDowager and kowtowed before her. At nine o'clock, he sat on thethrone and all the courtiers kowtowed to him. His natural father wasnot present, of course. Then a statement was issued to the wholeempire to that effect and a feast of celebration was given in theForbidden City.

December 3rd, 2018, 02:13 PM
Theemperor was seventeen now. It was high time for him to get married.West Empress Dowager would take care of it as the emperor's adoptedmother. On January 20, 1888, she issued an order that all thepreparations should begin for the emperor's marriage. On February28, she gave another order that the Internal Revenue Ministry of thegovernment should get ready five million taels of silver. On June 17,she announced her decision that the emperor's wedding would takeplace in February next year and after that she would let the emperorhave full power, making decisions all by himself. On July 27, 1888,a formal statement was made to that effect. On September 3, shedecided that the wedding day would be on February 26, 1889. So theselection of girls began in late September, 1888. At first therewere ninety-six girls, but even before West Empress Dowager couldlook at all of them, the names of sixty-five girls were crossed outowing to some reason or the other, among whom three would get intomarriage by the order of West Empress Dowager. On September 24,thirty-one girls gathered before West Empress Dowager and theemperor. Among them two girls were her nieces, which was againsttradition. But West Empress Dowager didn't care about tradition andno one dared to stand up against her. It was the evening on that daybecause West Empress Dowager wanted to look at the girls undercandlelight. And there were other two pairs of sisters. The processstarted from late in the evening and lasted till early in the nextmorning. As a result, sixteen girls were left after the firstsifting. On September 28, four days later, only eight girls out ofthe remaining sixteen were chosen. These eight girls were told tolive in the Forbidden City for close observation of their behavior. Then three girls out of the eight were sent home. One of the threewas a niece of West Empress Dowager. The other niece remained. Theemperor would choose the queen and two concubines from the fiveleftover girls.

December 5th, 2018, 01:57 PM
Amongthe five girls, besides the other niece, who was twenty-one yearsold, well over the traditional age between thirteen and seventeen,the two pairs of sisters remained. One pair was the daughters of thegovernor of Jiangxi Province. The other pair was the daughters of acourtier in the capital. They were the only girls that had learned towrite poetry. The eldest daughter of the governor of Jiangxi Provincehad been the royal concubine of the late Emperor Tongzhi, now a royalwidow, the one that West Empress Dowager had liked best and hadwanted her natural son to choose as his queen, but his natural sonhad chosen another girl. So this time West Empress Dowager selectedthe other two daughters. But her goal was to let her niece to be thequeen, not one of the sisters. This pair of the sisters stayed forthe night with their eldest sister, the royal widow. The eldestsister complained how she had lived alone even when Emperor Tongzhihad been alive. Any concubine in this status was called a widow withhusband alive in the Forbidden City. So the sisters wished that theywould not be selected. The eldest sister smiled, “it is easier notto be selected than you want to be selected.” She told her sistersthat they should wear blue clothes, because West Empress Dowagerdidn't like the color blue, and they should act a little listlessly,but not too much. West Empress Dowager liked girls to look alive.

December 7th, 2018, 02:27 PM
OnNovember 8, the five girls were lined before West Empress Dowager andthe emperor. The niece stood foremost, who should stand behindothers by tradition. The younger ones should stand in the front. The daughters of the governor were stationed near the emperor, alittle behind the niece. They were beautiful girls while the niecewas just ordinary. West Empress Dowager had often ordered that nieceto come and live for a few days in the Forbidden City to play withthe emperor when they were both children. She had thought that theirrelationship would have become from playmates to lifemates, but theemperor had never liked his cousin.
Whenthe emperor was told to give the symbol, a ruyi,to whichever girl he wanted to be his queen, he walked towards one ofthe governor's daughters, the beautiful pair, but not intended byWest Empress Dowager as the queen. So she called, “Emperor.” Hervoice a little too loud for the occasion and not without someirritation. The emperor was startled and turned his head aside tolook at West Empress Dowager, who pointed to her niece with hermouth. The emperor was unhappy, but had to obey. He walked past thebeautiful couple and handed the ruyito the niece, who went down on her knees to take it.
WestEmpress Dowager didn't let the emperor choose the concubines. Shechose for him the daughters of the courtier. The elder girl wasfifteen and the younger thirteen, named Concubine Jin and ConcubineZhen. The other two girls were returned to their parents. Westempress Dowager was afraid that if she let the two beautiful girlsstay in the Forbidden City also as concubines, the emperor wouldalways go to their place and ignore her niece entirely.

December 10th, 2018, 02:00 PM
Afterthe selection, Big Princess said to West Empress Dowager that if shehad desired her niece to be the queen, why she hadn't told theemperor directly so that he could choose as she had wished. Suchawkward situation would not have happened. West Empress Dowagerconfessed that it had partly been her fault.
OnDecember 4, 1888, the emperor sent wedding things to the queen'sfamily. The father of the selected queen was the brother of WestEmpress Dowager and had a title of duke. He was a useless man,smoking opium all the time. He wanted to hold a banquet at home andinvited all the princes and courtiers, but was afraid that manyinvitees would not come, because they really looked down upon him. Sohe requested West Empress Dowager to order all of them come to thefeast. But West Empress Dowager advised him to invite the courtiersonly, not the princes, because princes were higher in rank than aduke. And West Empress Dowager said that it was not suitable to issuesuch an order. Her brother had to go along with what West EmpressDowager had suggested.
OnFebruary 24, 1889, Concubines Jin and Zhen were carried into theForbidden City, but could not see the emperor yet. February 26 wasthe long-fixed wedding date. The queen was carried into theForbidden City in a magnificently-decorated royal palanquin. Theroyal couple went through a series of rituals. So when they wereescorted into their bedroom, the emperor was so exhausted that hejust fell asleep. Next day, the emperor should give a feast for thecelebration of the wedding, but the emperor suddenly fell sick. Thena eunuch was sent to announce that the feast was called off. All thecourtiers sensed that this was a bad omen. West Empress Dowager wasunhappy because it made the queen's family look bad. She went to seethe emperor to check if he was really sick. When she saw that theemperor looked sick, she could say nothing and just told him to takecare. But celebration in general still went on and lasted till March9.

December 12th, 2018, 02:59 PM
Celebrationsin the Forbidden City always involved opera performances. There was aroyal cast for all the occasions, but after the death of East EmpressDowager, West Empress Dowager often got actors from outside theForbidden City for a change. This time there was a new actor, justcoming to the capital from Shanghai. West Empress Dowager was sofascinated by his performance that she decided to interview him afterthe performance. The actor had liked the operas as a child andlearned it since very young. Then he had joined the army to fight thePeaceful Army and had been promoted to be a high-rank officer. Whenwar had ended, he had returned to live in Shanghai, but sometimes heacted as a guest performer in some theater. As a rule an officershould not act in public and he was criticized for that. He then gaveup his title as the officer and began to be an actor by profession.He became a famous actor. When he was told that West Empress Dowagerwould interview him, he was very excited, but he sighed, sayingsarcastically, “When I risked my life to fight the Peaceful Army,no one treated me like that, but when I am only an actor, EmpressDowager wants to interview me.” Eunuch Li said to him, “Youshould know that there are so many officers like you, but there isonly one actor like you. You should be satisfied.” So he assumed ahappy attitude and went to see West Empress Dowager. She wanted togive back his title, but he refused, saying that it was unsuitablefor an actor to have an official title. So West Empress Dowager gavehim other things as a memento.

December 14th, 2018, 08:04 PM
Theimperial nuptial cost more than four thousand taels of gold and morethan four million eight hundred thousand taels of silver. It was themost expensive royal wedding in Qing Dynasty.
Sincethe emperor didn't love the queen, who had been forced upon himagainst his will, he treated her only with due respect. He likedConcubine Zhen best, because she was so young and so naive that sheoften did or said funny things, which made the emperor delighted, butfunny things often went against the palace rules.
Theemperor and Concubine Zhen had a lot of things to talk for mutualamusement. The emperor told Concubine Zhen something that hadhappened in the Forbidden City. The natural father of the emperor,Yihuan, was the seventh son of the late Emperor Xianfeng. Prince Cunwas the fifth son, the uncle of the emperor, but now deceased. “Hewas a funny man.” said the emperor, “Once Empress Dowager waslistening to some girls summoned from outside the Forbidden City,singing some folk tunes. This was against the tradition. Fifth Unclewent to see Empress Dowager, singing the same tunes all the way whileentering the room. Empress Dowager became aware of the roundaboutcriticism and sent the singing girls away. Another time when FifthUncle wanted to present a special fish to Empress Dowager, a eunuchrefused to report to Empress Dowager unless Fifth Uncle gave him somemoney. It is an old custom, but Fifth Uncle never liked it. So nexttime when Empress Dowager wanted to see Fifth Uncle, Fifth Unclebrought a fish himself and offered it to Empress Dowager in person.When Empress Dowager asked why Fifth Uncle didn't let a eunuch do it,Fifth Uncle told the story and the eunuch got a beating.”
ConcubineZhen could write poetry. She had read many books, especially historybooks. She told the emperor a story from Song Dynasty. An emperor hadhad no son of his own and wanted to select his successor and heirfrom the sons of his imperial relatives. They should be good boys andunder seven years old. Ten boys had been selected, but after siftingonly two left, one lean and the other fat. He would have chosen oneout of the two. When the boys had been standing before the emperor,the emperor had wanted to choose the fat one, because in theconception of the Chinese people, fat people meant they werefortunate ones. But just then a cat had wandered by. The fat boy hadbeen always naughty and kicked the cat unconsciously out of habitwhile the lean boy had stood there quietly. Therefore, the emperorhad decided on the lean boy. The emperor had explained later that thecat had walked by and hadn't done anything to deserve the kick. Ifthe fat boy could have kicked an innocent cat, he would have killedinnocent people when he had become the emperor. Historians said thatthe fat boy kicked away his throne, not just the cat.

December 17th, 2018, 03:30 PM
GovernorLi of Zhidi Province had established a fleet of twenty-five ships.West Empress Dowager didn't want him to have more power and set upthe Navy Yamen and put Prince Yihuan as the head. The fleet wasnaturally under the command of the Navy Yamen. West Empress Dowagerwished to have a clear idea about the fleet. She sent Yihuan toinspect it with her head eunuch Li as his attendant. It was againstthe rule set up by the ancestors that eunuchs were not permitted togo outside the capital. But since the demise of East Empress Dowagerand the removal of Prince Yixin, no one had been bold enough tooppose her decision. Someone blamed Yihuan when he didn't sayanything about it. Yihuan could not say that he was afraid of WestEmpress Dowager and so he said, “That's my fault. I asked Eunuch Lito accompany me there.” He didn't want to think that West EmpressDowager didn't trust him. Then Ronglu came to visit him. Ronglu wasnot in a good health recently and didn't have a post. Ronglu consoledYihuan, “Since we have spent so much money on the navy, EmpressDowager wants to know how the navy is now and how well it can combat.That's why Empress Dowager sends Li with Your Highness.” But hecould not explain why it was Eunuch Li who was supposed to report toWest Empress Dowager about the navy while it should be Yihuan whoshould report to her. Ronglu didn't want to hint anything negativeabout West Empress Dowager. He was always faithful to her. There waseven a rumor that sometimes when Ronglu was summoned into theForbidden City, he had sex with West Empress Dowager. But that wasonly a rumor.

December 19th, 2018, 02:29 PM
HeadEunuch Li was cleverer than Little An. He played down his role justto be the attendant of Yihuan. Yihuan reached the place where thefleet was at anchor. He went on board the flagship with hisentourage. Yihuan stayed in the captain's cabin when the fleet waspulled out onto the sea to operate a sham battle. When cruising onthe vast expanse of billowy salty water, the fleet formed a lineforward, then changed into a file and then fell into a shape of avise. There were some old junk ships in the distance as targets. At asignal from the flagship, the cannons aiming at the targets boomedand some torpedoes darted forth. In a flash of fire and thunder, theold junk ships exploded into a rain of fragments. Then somethingfloated and dotted on the distant blue water surface. Prince Yihuanslowly clapped his hands a few times as if he was watching an opera.All the navy officers around him were exhilarated at his approbation.
Atthe dinner party for celebration, head eunuch Li sat with the navyofficers. He told them a story about how champagne was treated in theForbidden City. The French envoy had presented some bottles ofchampagne to West Empress Dowager as gifts. On a festival day, WestEmpress Dowager ordered a eunuch to open a bottle of champagne. Whenbottle was being opened the noise the bottle startled West EmpressDowager, and the champagne gushed out, wetting the clothes of BigPrincess, who was just standing at the side to have a look. So theeunuch got a beating. It was not really his fault. One of theofficers asked if West Empress Dowager drank champagne any more afterthat. Eunuch Li said that someone got an idea that before opening thebottle, a hole was punched on the cork stopper to let out the gas.

December 21st, 2018, 02:45 PM
Ex-GovernorTang had been in the jail of Judicial Ministry for two years. Thereason for his imprisonment was that he had withdrawn from Vietnamduring Sino-French war without first asking for the approval of thecentral government. The verdict was death penalty, but not immediatedeath, something like suspended till a later time, like waiting inthe line on the death list. In the feudal China, the prisoners ofdeath sentence were executed once a year in Autumn. For the prisonersas former courtiers, their treatment was different from otherprisoners of death sentence. On the execution day, though all theprisoners of death verdict should be taken to the execution ground,only those whose names were crossed out with red marks on the deathlist were actually executed. Others were taken back to the jail totry their luck next year. The emperor, now West Empress Dowager,would decide whose names would be crossed out. Sometimes a pardonorder would be issued for a certain person. The pardoned ones wereusually exiled to some remote provinces. This was the fate awaitingTang. Tang was a man of ability. Many courtiers had thrown quite afew good words for him in their reports to West Empress Dowager,saying that it was a pity to execute such a talented man for such apetty crime. So his name had remained on the death list for twoyears. Tang had two sons. Through some channel, his eldest son got incontact with head eunuch Li and begged him for his father's life.Taking the bribery, Li promised to try.
Sincethe miscarriage of the banknote issue, other suggestions had been putup. One of them was to mint more bronze coins, which could alsoincrease the currency. West Empress Dowager accepted the suggestion.But they should first have copper. Copper mines were mostly in YunnanProvince and Tang had been the governor of that province and kneweverything of copper mining. So on the execution day, he was pardonedand sent to Yunnan Province to take care of the copper mining.

December 24th, 2018, 03:20 PM
Chapter 39

Nowlet us have a look at how the everyday life of West Empress Dowagerwas like. West Empress Dowager had some hobbies if they could becalled hobbies, or better to say, things she liked to do.
Generallyshe lived a comparatively routine but busy life. She got up early.After her hair done and apparel changed from sleeping garb intoeveryday formal dress, she had her breakfast. After that (reallyafter every meal), she strolled along the wrap-around porch for halfan hour. “Help to digest.” She would say. Then she went to seecourtiers. If no urgent affairs needed her attention she wouldretire to her living quarters.
Everydayshe would read reports except on holidays, but sometimes when thereports were for emergencies, she had to read them on holidays andmake decisions accordingly or hold special court to discuss theproblems with courtiers.
Everydayshe had a nap after lunch. Then she would sometimes play mahjong. BigPrincess was often her playmate. Other two playmates she chose fromthe wives of her high-rank courtiers. The wives of courtiers wereoften invited into the Forbidden City on any festival days. Whoevercould flatter her best would get her preference and became herplaymates of mahjong. Of course, everyone who was playing mahjongwith her would intentionally lose since she liked to win, but theyshould lose tactfully so that it would not look like they lost onpurpose, but like they were not so clever or skilful as she. Suchpretence was not easily carried to a perfect end at first. It mightneed practice or genius. But their husbands would get quickpromotions.
Itwas said that she played a sort of Chinese chess a little. This kindof chess is somewhat like the western chess. It has two chessmen likeknights, but called horse in the Chinese chess. It has two chessmenlike rook, but called chariot. It has two cannons for each side. Ithas a general for the blue side and a marshal for the red side. Thecapture of either one means the loss of the game on that side. Thereare five pawns and two scholars, and two prime ministers for the redside and two elephants for the blue side with the same function. Whenthe chessmen of the western chess are placed in spaces, the chessmenof the Chinese chess are put on the dots where the lines cross eachother.

December 26th, 2018, 02:16 PM
Anyone,who played chess with her, would pretend to lose the game, becauseshe hated to lose. To win meant that she was wiser than herantagonist. There was a story, probably a rumor, that once when shewas playing chess with a eunuch, the eunuch warned lest she shouldlose a chessman, “Your slave will kill Old Buddha's Horse.” Shesuddenly flared up and said, “I will kill your family.” And theeunuch and his family were all killed. It meant that her behaviorcould never be predicted.
Shealso liked reading. She read many Chinese classical novels, such asThree Kingdoms, The Beach, The Red Chamber Dream, The Journey ToWest, etc. She read history books, too, by which she learnedexperiences of the ancient people how to rule the country. But shedidn't learn how to benefit people. She only learned how to keepherself in power. She often let some old eunuchs tell her storiesfrom the history.
Shepracticed Chinese calligraphy. She liked to write with a long brushthe big Chinese characters like blessing and longevity It wasamazing for a woman to write such big characters. She had thecharacters she had written made into scrolls and gave to her favoritecourtiers, who would treasure them as gifts of honor from her. Shelearned how to paint, but she never did a complete painting. Shewould paint something like an outline and the palace painters wouldfill in the details and colors and write her name on the painting.

December 28th, 2018, 02:29 PM
Towatch Peking operas was the thing she loved best. She organized someyoung eunuchs into an opera cast and loved to write stage scripts forthem with the help of another courtier's wife who was versed inwriting and poetry. She would look at the scripts when the actorswere singing so that she could follow the words they sang. Operaswere performed regularly on her birthdays or the birthdays of theemperor and the queen, and on festivals, and on the first day andfifteenth day of every month of the lunar calendar. She had severalstages built at the places she frequented so that she could watchoperas whenever she felt like it. The biggest stage called theImperial Theater had three stories and is the largest of its kind inChina today. It is twenty-one meters high. The ground floor had afew dry wells dug for special effects, like an actor in a ghostcostume could come out of a well as if he emerged from the ground. Anopening is in the ceiling of the first floor, in which a winch couldlower performers and props down onto the first floor. Performerscould appear on the three floors at the same time.
Thenext thing she liked was to have her photographs taken. It was saidthat she had hated the photography at first, because she had thoughtthat since a person's image had been on the photograph, thephotograph must have taken the person's spirit on it and it was notgood to the person. But later, as gradually so many foreign thingscame and as she got used to them, especially when she saw thatnothing happened to the person whose pictures had been taken, shebegan to have her photographs taken, too. She even enjoyed lookingat her own image on the photographs. The photographs she liked bestwere those on which she was attired in a Buddha's costume, hence shewas called Old Buddha And she liked it.

December 31st, 2018, 02:51 PM
Itwas said that during fifties of nineteen century, a Japanese came toChina and asked to see her. When he got admittance, he took aphotograph of her. It was said that later this photograph was boughtat an auction by a British museum in London at the surprisingly highprice of thirteen thousand British pounds. On this picture, she waswearing a gown of satin embroidered with peonies, a lot of jewelry onher hair, a shawl wrapped on her shoulders looking like a fishingnet, but made of thirty-five thousand pearls, some as big as a bird'seggs. She had jade bangles on her wrists, with nail-protecting casesmade of gold on her right hand and of jade on her left hand. Hershoes were decorated with large pearls round the sides.
Aftershe returned from escape to XiAn City in 1900, she must receive thewives and daughters of foreign envoys to enhance the relationshipwith foreign governments. The Foreign Affairs Ministry wrote downfor her some English sentences that she could say to them, but sinceshe could not speak the language correctly, she commenced to learnEnglish from the wives and daughters of some courtiers who had beenenvoys living in foreign countries for several years. All these kepther busy, but she loved a busy life.
Sheliked to take bath, but not really sitting in the bathtub, which wasmade of silver and in the shape of a kidney. When the bath was readywith warm water in the tub, she sat on a low chair close to the tub. Four maids waited on her with another four maids as their assistants. They washed her upper torso first. First step: they dipped towelsin the warm water and wrung them till no water came out. Then theyrubbed everywhere on her upper torso softly. When the towels were nomore warm, they changed towels. They did it for several times. Theassistants would take the used towels away and keep pouring warmwater into the tub to keep the water always warm. Second step: theyput soap on clean wet towels and rubbed her upper torso again. Themaid who rubbed her chest must hold breath. If the maid exhaled onher face, she would be punished. The maid might be trained for that. Third step: they used wet towels to wipe the soap clean off herskin, making sure no trace of soap left. Then they used some cottonpads to tap some perfume on her. Then they put some kind of sleepingblouse on her. The wash of the upper torso finished.

January 2nd, 2019, 02:23 PM
Themaids removed the tub for the upper torso and put another tub for thelower torso before her. She didn't want to use the same tub for herwhole body since she could afford two. Her thought was that theupper torso was like the master and the lower torso was like theservant. How could the master and the servant share the same thing? The maids washed her lower torso just in the same way. The soledifference was that she must stand up to let the maids wash herbuttocks.
Whenthe bath was over, two maids remained to wash her face and hands,especially do her nails. They used the warm wet towels and thenrolled a short round stick of jade to massage the skin on her face,to iron the wrinkles as they would call it. Then they did her nails. She only grew her long nails on thumbs, ring fingers and littlefingers. They steeped her nails in warm water in jade bowls. Theybrushed the nails clean, straightened the long nails because longnails were apt to curve. They filed the nails where needed. Afterapplying some nail polish, they put case made of yellow brocade onthe long nails to protect them. That was the last thing before shewent to bed. It was said that she always had white soft smooth skinand looked much younger than her real age.
Shepaid particular attention to her long black bright-oily hair. BeforeLi Lianying came, other eunuchs had never done her hair to hergratification. She had often tried a new eunuch to do her hair, butthe new eunuch could never have stayed long on the job. Many eunuchshad been scolded or even beaten for not doing their jobsatisfactorily. If a few pieces of her hair fell when combing, theeunuch would be beaten on the buttocks with a stick. She preferred tohave a new hairdo as often as possible, but the eunuchs didn't haveexperience enough to invent new hairstyles until Li Lianying came totry on the job. Before Li asked her permission to do her hair, hehad visited some whorehouses in the capital and learned from whoresthe skills and how to do hair beautifully and how to design newhairdo. Since he did her hair to her heart's content he was made thegeneral head eunuch in the Forbidden City.

January 4th, 2019, 02:58 PM
Shewas very fastidious about food. Besides the royal kitchen thatprovided for all the royal household in the Forbidden City, she hadher own private kitchen, called West Kitchen. Every cook had thesole charge of certain sorts of food, like some only cookingvegetables, some making pastries, some supplying snacks of variouskinds and some cooking only meat of dainties including shark's fins,sea cucumbers and abalones. West Kitchen could provide more thanfour hundred kinds of snacks and more than four thousand kinds ofdishes.
Breakfastwas generally at six in the morning, lunch at noon, twelve o'lock,and dinner at six in the evening. And snacks at any time when shefelt like to eat some. Food was carried from kitchen to her diningplace in warm boxes, which had pewter containers at the bottom tohold hot water to keep the food warm. The lid of the box was verytight so that the warmth could stay inside for a long time. It wassaid that there were always one hundred dishes when she had mainmeals. When a main meal, say, dinner, was served, one young eunuchcarried one food box on his right shoulder, all the eunuchs coming ina file. Some other eunuchs, a bit older, took out the dishes from theboxes and laid them one by one on the big oblong table. When shelooked at a dish, a eunuch got the dish and put in front of her. Butbefore she tasted it, the head eunuch Li would dip a pair of silverchopsticks into the dish. If the silver chopsticks turned black,they believed that there was poison in the dish. Of course, shecould not eat so many dishes. She often ordered such and such dishessent to a certain favorite courtier or given to head eunuch Li, whichwas considered an honor. It was said that the cost of one meal forher could feed a family of four for one year.

January 7th, 2019, 03:26 PM
Chapter 40

Everydynasty in Chinese history had corruption in the government, whichalways led to the crumble of the old dynasty and the rise of a newone. Corruption mostly included embezzlement, bribery and selling ofgovernment official positions. In late Qing Dynasty the positionssold had fixed prices, which were open secrets.
Beforepower was returned to the emperor, all the courtiers were appointedby West Empress Dowager. These courtiers were still loyal to hereven after the emperor took over the power. They were called theEmpress Dowager's Party. When the emperor came into power, he wantedto fight the corruption. There were quite a few upright courtiers,who hated corruption and supported the emperor, hence called theEmperor's Party. The former comprised all the governors and thosecourtiers, who were experienced in government administration. All ofthem had great power. The latter consisted of those courtiers, whowere mostly young and inexperienced and didn't have much power. Thetwo parties held hostility against each other because of theirdifferent political concepts.
Whilethe emperor was doing his utmost to battle the national corruption,his beloved Concubine Zhen was planning how to get more income. Bytradition, the queen got a thousand taels of silver every year fromthe government and a concubine only three hundred annually.
ConcubineZhen was in her teens and had no experience to the outside world. Itwas all her head eunuch's idea to ask the emperor to appoint acertain person as an official of a certain rank, then got a certainamount of money for it. But her head eunuch got the idea from headeunuch Li of West Empress Dowager. Li had been accepting hugebriberies for the sales of official positions. He didn't dare to askWest Empress Dowager to make the appointments. He just asked certainmembers of the Secretarial Bureau to suggest to West Empress Dowagerwho was suitable to fill such and such a position. In return Liwould throw in a few good words for them when he had chances to speakto West Empress Dowager, because she used him as her spy to detectanything she wanted to know.
AfterWest Empress Dowager had dinner and before she went to bed, she wouldsummon her head eunuch Li to her presence and commanded him to tellher whatever he had learned during the day. It was the story time,as Li would say. He got everything just from hearsay. He could notmake investigations to check how much truth was in gossip. If shereally wanted to know the truth, Li would send some eunuch to pryinto it and then told her. That was how Concubine Zhen's doings cameinto her ears.

January 9th, 2019, 02:56 PM
AlthoughWest Empress Dowager returned power to Emperor Guangxu, she stillcontrolled him. The power was returned only in name. West EmpressDowager developed a hobby to accumulate wealth. So she began to sellthe official titles and posts on a large scale. Her head eunuch Licould also get some briberies through the transactions. He acted as ago-between, but he didn't dare to let West Empress Dowager know thathe had gains in the deals. The emperor could not refuse whomever WestEmpress Dowager wanted to appoint to any vacant positions. Theemperor could only notice that some of the officials were not fit forthe position he got. The emperor knew that head eunuch Li was ago-between, but there should be another go-between to get clients,because Li could not always go out of the Forbidden City for that andhe could not put up an advertisement. It would be too obvious.Gradually the emperor learned that a Taoist Gao often came to seehead eunuch Li.
Therewas a Taoist temple, called White Cloud Temple, in the western suburbof the capital, where the Taoists worshiped a statue of Taoist Qiu,who had lived in Ming Dynasty and had castrated himself for thepurpose of exercising some special kind of kungfu. As Toaist Qiu hademasculated himself, the eunuchs thought him as their protective godand came to worship him. Taoist Gao was the head Taoist of thattemple.
Gaohad been born in Shandong Province and had been an apprentice in ashop. Once he had embezzled some money that had passed through hishands. The owner of the shop had wanted to beat him and he had fledto a Taoist temple there to become a Taoist. Somehow the owner hadlearned that he had been hiding in the Taoist temple and had sentsomeone there to catch him. He had escaped to the capital, into theWhite Cloud Temple. Through years of flattery and other efforts, hehad slowly clambered the ladder to the top rung as the head Taoist.Since head eunuch Li often came to the temple, they began to knoweach other and then became sworn brothers. Whenever Taoist Gao cameinto the capital, he always lodged in a certain inn. He had a roomreserved there.

January 11th, 2019, 02:40 PM
Oncewhen Taoist Gao stayed in the inn a man came to see him. The man wasa wood merchant by the name of Yuming, recommended by someone workingin the Royal Family Affairs Management. Merchant Yuming supplied woodto the Management whenever there were repairs or constructions in theForbidden City. He was very rich and recently earned thousands andthousands of taels of silver from the repair work in the Garden ofGood Health & Harmony. Someone had hinted to him that the head ofthe Department of Salt & Tea Tax Collection in Sichuan Provincehad been accused of corruption and the position would soon be vacant.That was a fat position, involving lots and lots of money, becauseSichuan Province yields tea and halite (rock salt), which were soldto Tibet, Yunnan Province, Guizhou Province, Hunan Province and HubeiProvince for huge profit. He desired to acquire the post. He offeredone hundred thousand taels of silver for the post. Taoist Gaopromised to get the post for him, but he must contact head eunuch Lifirst. Anyway, the merchant Yuming gave him the silver note of onehundred thousand taels. But eunuch Li was busy these days and TaoistGao could not find him.
Themerchant was anxious and afraid that the vacancy would be given tosomeone else. He also knew that Concubine Zhen was now the favoriteconcubine of the emperor. If Concubine Zhen could ask the emperor togive the vacancy to a certain person as a favor, the emperor wouldn'treject. And it was more direct, because any order of appointment wasissued by the emperor. So through another clerk in the Royal FamilyAffairs Management, he got in touch with the head eunuch Wang ofConcubine Zhen. Eunuch Wang always envied Eunuch Li for getting easymoney. Now this was the chance for him to show how he could make easymoney, too. One hundred thousand taels was considerably a big amountof money. Only if he could persuade Concubine Zhen. Eunuch Wang knewthat Concubine Zhen needed money to give to her parents. Her father,though a high-rank government official, was not rich, but as ahigh-rank official the expenditure was enormous. If her father wentto visit some superiors or princes as etiquette demanded, he mustfirst give money to the doorkeepers there, or they wouldn't report totheir masters that he was there waiting to be received. How could hissuperiors or princes know that he came to pay respects, but theirdoorkeepers wouldn't report? They would even think that he neglectedwhat the etiquette required and began to dislike him. Thus he couldnever get a promotion. Of course he could mention to the masters thattheir doorkeepers wanted money, or they wouldn't let him in. But thiswas a long-established custom and no one could change it.

January 14th, 2019, 02:45 PM
EunuchWang and the merchant struck up a bargain that the eunuch would gethim the post within twenty-five days and the merchant would pay himone hundred thousand taels of silver. If the eunuch couldn't get himthe post within that period of time, the deal would be off. Then atthe earliest chance Eunuch Wang mentioned to Concubine Zhen that ifshe could say one word to the emperor she would get one hundredthousand taels. Concubine Zhen looked doubtful. She was only thirteenthen and had no experience whatever in life. Although she neededmoney, she knew that was the interference with the handling of thestate affairs and West Empress Dowager would be mad at her if shecame to know it. But eunuch Wang assuaged her fear, saying that WestEmpress Dowager sold posts for money herself. This message gaveConcubine Zhen a little encouragement. “Who wants the position?”She asked timidly. Eunuch Wang presented her with a slip of paperwith a name on it. Concubine Zhen glanced at the name. Of course shedidn't know it. She bade eunuch Wang to leave the paper on the table.“Is the post worth so much money?” She was curious. “Yes. It isone of the fattest positions in the country.” Eunuch Wang saidrespectfully. “I'll consider about it.” She dismissed him.
Theemperor finished his routine and came to see Concubine Zhen as usual.After some pleasant chat, the emperor noticed the paper on the tableand asked what it was. Concubine Zhen replied nonchalantly that thisman wanted to have this position and begged her to say a few goodwords for him to the emperor, but she knew that she should notinterfere with the appointment of the government officials and so shedidn't promise him anything. Though young, Concubine Zhen was aclever girl. She adopted the ruse: Retreat before advance The emperorloved Concubine Zhen so much and always wanted to do her a favor. Sohe picked up the paper and put it into his pocket.

January 16th, 2019, 03:08 PM
TaoistGao learned it through his grapevine and resented it. He reported itto head eunuch Li, who was infuriated with Concubine Zhen for hercutting in and snatching what it should belong to him. Since WestEmpress Dowager took eunuch Li as her eye and ear, she alwaysconsulted him about things she was not quite sure. When she read thereport from Personnel Ministry that the former head of the Departmentof Salt & Tea Tax Collection in Sichuan Province had embezzledfour hundred thousand taels of silver within two years, she said toeunuch Li, “I never know this position's worth so much money.”Eunuch Li remarked casually that was why he was told that someone waswilling to pay one hundred thousand taels of silver to get the post.When West Empress Dowager wanted to know who it was, eunuch Lianswered evasively that he didn't know the name and suggested thatOld Buddha should watch out for the name. Therefore, when the emperorsent in the appointment order for that position for the approval ofWest Empress Dowager, she put it aside by Li's advice.
Whenthe appointment was stranded, eunuch Wang knew that it was eunuchLi's doing. After twenty-five days, the deal was off accordingly.Then eunuch Li reported to West Empress Dowager that the man offeredone hundred thousand taels of silver for the post. West EmpressDowager was in great ecstasy to hear it and granted the appointmentof the emperor. According to the ceremony requirements, there shouldbe an interview with an official who got an appointment to a highposition outside the capital. The date for the interview was fixed.When eunuch Wang reported the truth to Concubine Zhen she wasoutraged with eunuch Li. So she decided to make the whole business afailure. She implied to the emperor that this man was only amerchant, even illiterate, not fit for the post. The emperor wassurprised to hear it, but he didn't have the heart to blame ConcubineZhen, because she hadn't really asked him to give the man theposition. It was he who wanted to do her a favor. During theinterview the emperor wanted the merchant to write his bio beforehim. But the merchant could not even write his own name. So the postwas given to someone else. The merchant lost one hundred thousandtaels to Taoist Gao, but he didn't dare to demand the return of themoney, since Taoist Gao was the sworn brother of eunuch Li and eunuchLi was the favorite eunuch of West Empress Dowager.

January 18th, 2019, 03:29 PM
Atfirst when Imperial Concubine Zhen had come into the Forbidden City,West Empress Dowager had treated her just as she did to other royalfamily members. She hadn't liked her specially, but hadn't dislikedher, either. Later when Concubine Zhen had done something againstthe palace rules, she had begun to dislike her.
ConcubineZhen was young, bold and careless. Once she had asked the emperor toallow her to ride on a sedan-chair carried by eight eunuchs, whichcertainly offended the rules, because by tradition only the empressdowager, the emperor and the queen could sit on such a sedan-chair. When West Empress Dowager had been told about it, she hadn't believedit. One day, she had come across Concubine Zhen riding on one, shehad been angry and ordered the sedan-chair to be broken into pieces. Concubine Zhen had been scolded, of course.
ConcubineZhen liked her photos taken. Her cousin got a camera for her. Onceshe was photographed, dressed in the emperor's formal clothes withpictures of dragons embroidered on them. This was also against therules. When the queen got a photo like that, she showed it to WestEmpress Dowager, who, in her rage, wanted to punish Concubine Zhenfor all the offenses in addition to the acceptance of briberies. Concubine Zhen was thereby confined in a deserted building. It wastoward the end of the year of 1894. The Sino-Japanese war had brokenout that year in Korea, which was then under Chinese protection.
Vyingfor power happens everywhere. It happened in Korea then. Qinggovernment sent troops to maintain law and order there. Japan alwayswanted to devour Korea. Now this provided Japan with an excuse. So onJuly 23, 1894, Japan sent their army into Korea and occupied theKorean palace, seizing the king. The conflict between the troops ofQing government and the Japanese army began. At first the glory onthe battlefield favored the troops of Qing government, but when Japanreinforced their army, the troops of Qing government were vanquishedon July 28. On August 1, under the pressure of public opinion andmedia, West Empress Dowager declared war against Japan. But Chinesearmies in Korea was finally put to rout after only one battle. It wasbecause the commanders of the Chinese armies were all fools,historians said.

January 21st, 2019, 03:01 PM
Nowthe whole nation turned their attention to the navy. In 1885 whenSino-French war ended, everyone felt that China needed a strong navy.On June 21, West Empress Dowager had a meeting with the courtiers anddecided to build a fleet. Lots of silver taels were spent to buywarships from the foreign countries. The navy was at last formed in1888 with twenty-five ships of different sorts and sizes. OnSeptember 17, 1894, when the Chinese fleet was on the way back toLuda harbor, Japanese fleet came suddenly to attack the fleet of Qinggovernment. The unprepared small Chinese fleet shot out like arrowsto meet the Japanese fleet. A maritime campaign took place on theYellow Sea near the coast of China. Most of the small newly-builtfleet was destroyed by Japanese navy. Japanese army crossed theKorean boundary into the Chinese territory. On October 24, anotherJapanese detachment landed on Liaodong Peninsular and on November 22,they occupied Luda. On December 29, Japanese army set foot onShandong Peninsular. On December 31, thirty-four thousand Japanesesoldiers finished their landing and detoured to the back of WeihaiweiTown. On February 2, 1895, they took the town and captured theremaining ten ships. In early March of 1895 Japanese army occupiedthe Liaodong Peninsular. Qing government had no hope to even recovertheir lost territory and so they had to start a negotiation. On April17, 1895, a treaty was signed in Japan.
Afterthe defeat in Sino-Japanese war in 1895, all the courtiers who didn'tdare to blame West Empress Dowager blamed Governor Li for it. It wasGovernor Li who had built the fleet. It was he who had controlled thefleet. He had always been against war. And now his long-boasted fleethad been sunk to the bottom of the ocean. This time West EmpressDowager was shocked at the bad news and resented Governor Li for somuch money he had spent on his fleet, but what now? She also needed ascapegoat. So she removed Governor Li from all his duties. But peopleall over the country blamed West Empress Dowager for using the funds,which had originally been planned to strengthen the navy, to buildher Garden of Good Health & Harmony, causing the navy to bedefeated.

January 23rd, 2019, 02:51 PM
Chapter 41

Thedefeat in Sino-Japanese war put a big question mark before theChinese people as well as the government: how could China becomestrong both financially and militarily like Japan, which was only asmall country, far too much smaller than China? Discussions in thatfield erupted on newspapers. A sole conclusion was drawn: “We needreform like Japan.”
Theemperor wanted reform. West Empress dowager wanted reform, too,because she always wished to conquer the foreign invaders forvengeance. So she agreed to the emperor's reform notion in general,though all the conservative courtiers opposed it. Prince Yihuan, theemperor's biological father had died. Now Yixin, the emperor'suncle, who had been removed from office long ago by West EmpressDowager, was appointed to be in charge again, but he also died beforelong. On his deathbed, he advised the emperor to carry out thereform step by step and do nothing against tradition.
Theemperor appointed a group of officials to design for him a detailedplan for reform. His former tutor Weng, now a secretary, gave theemperor his full support. Official Kang drafted all the reformdecrees for the emperor. Kang's disciple, Official Liang, helped alot and another official Tan was an active participant. On June 11,1898, the emperor issued a statement to declare the beginning ofreform. Then he gave a series of orders, one hundred and eighty or soaltogether, during one hundred days.

January 25th, 2019, 02:28 PM
Theorders involved (1) the selection of supporters of reform asgovernment officials; (2) the decision to abandon the old examinationsystem for the selection of officials and to develop a moderneducation system; (3) the change of government administration systemand the elimination of the national corruption; (4) the permission ofthe open expression of opinions for people at large; (5) the rewardto the inventions and the encouragement to the development of trade,agriculture and industry; (6) the rebuilding of a navy.
However,most governors hesitated. They waited to see whether West EmpressDowager was really a prop to the reform. So most of emperor's orderswere not carried out. Only one thing was successful: a university wasestablished in the capital.
OnJune 16, West Empress Dowager forced the emperor to give some ordersof appointments and removals. An important one was to appoint Rongluas the Governor of Zhidi Province in charge of the new-trained armies(the capital was in this province). (For a long time Ronglu had beenidle without a position because of bad health. His snail-crawlingpromotion was due to the reason that West Empress Dowager didn't wanther relationship with Ronglu to be known among the courtiers. So shecould not give him rocketingly fast promotion. Now when time came,Ronglu's fate turned for the better. When Prince Yihuan was takenseriously ill and stayed in bed, as he was partly paralyzed, WestEmpress Dowager had to use Prince Yixin again. Prince Yixin knew thatRonglu was talented and prudent. He suggested to West Empress Dowagerto appoint Ronglu as the commander of the garrison division to guardthe capital. West Empress Dowager had no objection, of course. Nextyear Ronglu was made the minister of Military Ministry. Then he wasgiven the title of a prime minister. When Emperor Guangxu, influencedby new concepts, wanted to reform like in Japan, West Empress Dowagertrusted the military forces to Ronglu, hence the above appointment.It was an essential move on the chessboard of West Empress Dowager,who was now a mature politician.)

January 28th, 2019, 03:41 PM
Theother order was to remove the courtier Weng, who had been theemperor's tutor, from his office of the secretary of state and expelhim back to his hometown, which made the emperor lose his mostimportant supporter. Then a statement was issued that West EmpressDowager and the emperor would go to Tianjin City to watch themilitary parade. A rumor was prevalent that West Empress Dowagerwould force the emperor to abdicate when they were there.
OnAugust 30, the emperor made a public decision to merge six uselessgovernment bureaus, because their responsibilities were functioned bycorresponding ministries, but the merging would put a lot ofofficials out of job. Many old courtiers implored West EmpressDowager to stop the reform, but she didn't agree. She wanted to waita while longer to see how far the emperor would carry his reform.
Theemperor became impatient and angry because most officials refused tocarry out his orders. On September 4, the emperor decided to banishsix high-rank courtiers in Etiquette Ministry from office andappointed his own officials next day, which seemed to organizeanother administration.
OnSeptember 7, the emperor removed two courtiers in charge from theForeign Affairs Yamen dealing with foreign countries. Furthermore,the emperor wanted to appoint two foreigners to be his advisers, onean English priest and the other a Japanese, an ex-prime-minister inthe cabinet of Japan. All the conservative courtiers were in a panicthat the foreigners would control Qing government and thereforereported it to West Empress dowager, who, though mad about it, stilldecided to wait a bit longer.
OnSeptember 14, when the emperor went to see West Empress Dowager shereprimanded him for it. The rupture in their relationship becameopen. The emperor's supporters knew that if the emperor didn't haveany military forces under control the reform would eventually fail.They suggested that the emperor should send for Yuan Shikai, who wasa general training his army in a western style somewhere near TianjinCity. His army was called New Army.

January 30th, 2019, 02:46 PM
WhenYuan came to the capital, the emperor received him and gave him asecret written order, urging him to bring his New Army to Peking, tosurround the Garden of Good Health & Harmony and confine WestEmpress Dowager. Yuan knew that most courtiers and all the governorssupported West Empress Dowager. If he wanted to keep his position, orbetter to get a promotion, he must take the side of West EmpressDowager and betray the emperor, the inexperienced, over-ambitious,stupid political novice.
Whenhe returned to Tianjin City, he revealed the secret to Ronglu, whoimmediately took the night train back to Peking and asked to see WestEmpress Dowager. He showed her the secret written order of theemperor, which Yuan had given him.
OnSeptember 19, Wet Empress Dowager confined the emperor on an islandin the middle of a lake in the Forbidden City. The island wasconnected to the other parts of the Forbidden City only by a smallfoot bridge. He was treated very badly, no fire in the room and justenough food to keep him from starving. He was declared to beseriously sick. The prescriptions of the royal doctors wereproclaimed everyday to show that the emperor was really sick. Butpeople thought differently. The newspapers said that the proclamationof the prescriptions was only a preliminary step towards the deposalof the emperor.
Othernew officials whom the emperor had appointed were all dismissed fromtheir posts. Official Kang, who had been the most active andenthusiastic in the reform, had escaped on board a British ship toJapan. Official Liang, Kang's disciple, fled into the Japaneselegation and then was escorted to Japan, too. Another new officialTan decided to stay, because if he ran away, the government would gethis father instead. So he had to stay and face whatever would befallhim. Tan had a sworn brother Wang, who had kungfu and liked to helppeople. His job was like a bodyguard or property guard, or both. If arich man or a rich family wanted to travel a long way with valuableluggage, he or the family would hire Wang to protect him or thefamily all the way to the destination against any potential robbers.

February 1st, 2019, 03:11 PM
WhenWang knew that Official Tan was in trouble, he went to see him atnight. He didn't want to be seen entering Tan's house. He jumped overthe wall from a side street and went to his study. They discussed howthey could deliver the emperor out of the confinement to transfer theemperor to the southern provinces. Once the emperor was out of thecontrol of West Empress Dowager, everything would be fine. By theirplan, as soon as the emperor was out of the Forbidden City, theywould hide him either in some foreign legations or smuggled him intoany of the foreign colonies in Tianjin City. Then they would escorthim on a foreign ship to the southern provinces, their destination.They thought where there was the emperor there was the power center.The emperor could issue orders from anywhere he was. Any courtiersand governors should carry out his orders. That was their theory.
Wangtook the matter into his hands. He knew some eunuchs in the ForbiddenCity. He found a eunuch and invited him to a restaurant. While eatingand drinking they were engaged in a conversation. Eunuchs liked tobrag about the life and things in the Forbidden City. Wang showedgreat interest in what the eunuch was telling. Wine makes peopletalk, plus a good listener. The eunuch even drew a sketchy map of theForbidden City at Wang's request. Next night, Wang went to theForbidden City. He slung up a hook, which held fast on a battlement.He climbed up nimbly like a monkey and jumped over the city wall in ajiffy. His black clothes made him melt into the dark night. Buteither the map was not very accurate or Wang didn't remember thedetails, he didn't find the place where the emperor was confined. Hehad to beat a retreat before dawn and would try again another night.

February 4th, 2019, 02:46 PM
OnSeptember 23, a ceremony was held for West Empress Dowager to takeback the power. Then she issued orders to annul all the emperor'sdecisions and restored almost everything that had been changed by theemperor, but she said that she would carry on the reform, only stepby step.
Thenan order was given to arrest all the emperor's supporters. Two ofthem had escaped abroad. Seven were imprisoned. Six of them werebeheaded publicly on September 28, including Official Tan and thelast one was exiled to Xinjiang Province, the farthest of all theprovinces. This was called the One Hundred Day Reform in the historyof China.
WestEmpress Dowager summoned all the high-rank courtiers to her presence.The emperor was there, too. West Empress Dowager blamed the emperorbefore the courtiers, saying that she had agreed to the reform, butthe bottom line was not to change traditional things and now theemperor had gone over the brim. Then she asked the emperor what hewould have done if Yuan had brought in his New Army. “Did you wantto kill me?” Her voice was loud and stern. The emperor could onlyhang his head low. What could he answer? The conquered has no saywhatsoever. But she hated Kang most, because he had drafted all thedecrees. When she asked if Kang had been under arrest yet, she gotthe answer “Escaped.” One of the courtiers said, “If we knowwho leaked to him for the escape, we should arrest that person.”West Empress Dowager glanced at the emperor and said, “It's Emperorwho wrote to advise him to do so.” No one said anything any more.
Kang'splace had been ransacked and all the documents found there werepresented to West Empress Dowager. Among them was a letter from theemperor to order him to go to Shanghai to publish a newspaper. It wasa code sentence. So Kang took to his heels.
Itwas said that if the emperor could have done one thing at a time andwaited to see the reactions and had not bombarded the country withhis reform orders so radically and carelessly, the history of Chinamight have changed.

February 6th, 2019, 02:06 PM
Chapter 42

WhenWest Empress Dowager was meditating the deposal of Emperor Guangxu,all kinds of surmises appeared on the newspapers in Shanghai. Anofficial, who was taking care of the Telegram Bureau in Shanghai,sensed it and drafted a petition to the effect. He gathered onethousand two hundred and thirty-one signatures on it, including manyfamous scholars and telegraphed it to the Foreign Affairs Yamen. Theofficials in that yamen could not conceal it and sent it to theSecretarial Bureau. Ronglu, now the head secretary of the Bureau,took it to West Empress Dowager, who asked Ronglu how to deal withit. Ronglu said that the best way to quench a rumor was to let themknow the emperor was still the emperor. So they made a publicstatement in the name of West Empress Dowager that next year it wasthe thirtieth birthday of the emperor and a celebration would beheld. But they didn't have more money for the ceremony as WestEmpress Dowager had used up all the possible funds to build hergarden. Next day the emperor made another public declaration thatsince the government was tight with finance, he didn't want thecelebration, thanks to his adopted mother. It showed that he wasstill the emperor. Mother wanted to celebrate the son's birthday andthe son refused it owing to the financial difficulties. It painted apicture of a harmonious family.
Butbefore long another rumor prevailed among people in most provincesthat the emperor had escaped from the Forbidden City and wastraveling south in disguise.

February 8th, 2019, 03:47 PM
Asmall group of seven men came to lodge in a temple just outsideQizhen Town in Hubei Province. One looked like the master, anobleman, dressed in elegance. Another looked like the butler. Fourmen looked like the servants or bodyguards without uniforms and thelast one looked like a cook, shouldering some utensils. They rentedan independent housing unit in the backyard with fifty taels ofsilver as the deposit. The master kept to himself, staying in hisroom most of the time. The butler was busy, in and out, in and out.The four servants were waiting on the master. The cook went out everymorning shopping for food, then came back and did the cooking. Themonk, whose duty was to receive visitors, thought that these peoplewere suspicious and reported to the local yamen. Some policemen weresent in plain clothes to watch over them. The policemen even followedthe butler and the cook everywhere, but nothing unusual happened.Only this group of people seemed mysterious. So the mayor discussedthe matter with his aide. The aide suggested that he should pay avisit to the master to feel the pulse first. The mayor consented. Theaide went to the temple and found the monk, who told him that theyspoke the Peking dialect and seemed to come from the capital. Thebutler and the servants acted like serving a prince. The aide askedhow the master looked. The answer was lean, pale, about thirty.