EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI - Page 20

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  1. #191
    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.

  2. #192
    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.

  3. #193
    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.

  4. #194
    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.

  5. #195
    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.

  6. #196
    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.

  7. #197
    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.

  8. #198
    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?”

  9. #199
    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.

  10. #200
    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.

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