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  1. #141
    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.

  2. #142
    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.

  3. #143
    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.

  4. #144
    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.

  5. #145
    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.

  6. #146
    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.

  7. #147
    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.


  8. #148
    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.”

  9. #149
    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.

  10. #150
    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.


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