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  1. #101
    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.

  2. #102
    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.

  3. #103
    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.

  4. #104
    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.

  5. #105
    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.

  6. #106
    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.)

  7. #107
    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.

  8. #108
    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.

  9. #109
    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.

  10. #110
    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.”


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