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  1. #111
    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.

  2. #112
    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.

  3. #113
    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.

  4. #114
    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.

  5. #115
    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.

  6. #116
    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.

  7. #117
    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.

  8. #118
    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.”

  9. #119
    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.

  10. #120
    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.

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