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  1. #251
    Theaide gave the monk a name card and told him to go and announce hisvisit to the master. He followed the monk into the backyard. Thebutler received the monk. When he looked at the name card, he said tothe monk, “I don't know him.” The monk said, “His Esquire is anofficial of this town.” The butler made a gesture like Okay. “I'llsee him.” So the aide stepped forward and introduced himself. Thebutler said, “What can I do for you, Your Esquire?” The aidesaid, “Let's talk in the room.” He wanted to see the master. Ashe was about to enter the master's room, the butler blocked his way,saying, “We'd better talk here.” The butler clapped his handstwice. A servant came carrying two chairs. He put the chairs underthe eaves outside the windows. “What's your master's name?” Theaide inquired. “Tang.” The butler replied curtly.
    “Ishe an official? Where did he come from? Where will he go?”
    “Sorry,I can't tell you.”
    “Then,your master must be an imperial envoy in disguise.”
    “Whateveryou want to guess.”
    “Ifyour master is an imperial envoy, we local officials must have theresponsibility to protect him.”
    “Thisis not necessary. It would be better if the local officials justpretend to know nothing about us. They will be rewarded later fortheir silence. We won't stay here long.”

  2. #252
    Theaide had to leave. He reported to the mayor. The mayor sent for oneof his advisers. This adviser was known to be informative andknowledgeable. He analyzed that before any imperial envoy left thecapital, the message would appear on the official newsletter from thecapital. Since there was not such a message on the most recentnewsletter, the master could not be an imperial envoy. Besides, ingeneral, an imperial envoy would be much older. Then he consultedhimself in a stage whisper, If the rumor is true, could he be theemperor escaped south?” The mayor was shocked to hear it. He asked,“What did you say?” The adviser said that the matter was verysubtle, very delicate, must be handled very carefully. If the rumorwas true, what should they do? If the rumor was false, they wouldsurely arrest him. But how could they know if it was true or false?The mayor decided to visit the master himself. But the adviser got abetter idea.
    Oneday when the cook went to buy some meat in a market place, someonecaused a fight with him and he was taken to the local yamen. Themayor didn't ask him anything about the fight.
    “Whois your master?” The mayor queried.
    “Idon't know.” The cook said in a quivering voice. He was nervous andfrightened.
    “It'simpossible you don't know for whom you work.” The mayor didn'tbelieve him.
    “Ireally don't know. The butler arranges everything and gives orders.”
    “Haveyou seen your master? Don't say you're never seen him.”
    “Yes.He's thin, pale, early thirties, quiet. He's never spoken to me.”
    “Isthere anything unusual about your master? You can take time tothink.”
    Thecook considered for a while. “He gets up very early, has lunch atnoon and dinner at six in the evening.” That was just like theschedule in the Forbidden City.
    “Anythingelse special?” The mayor asked hopefully.
    “Mymaster is afraid of thunder. During a thunderstorm, the butler andthe servants are always with him.” All the courtiers knew that theemperor was afraid of thunderclaps because the eunuchs talked a lotabout it. Since nothing more could be squeezed out of the cook, hewas let go with a warning that he shouldn't speak to anyone about theevent of today.
    Stillthey were not sure who the master was. So the mayor went to see himwith some policemen, all in plain clothes. Their strategy was that ifhe was an impostor, they would take him into custody right away. Ifhe was really the escaped emperor, they would pretend that theydidn't know anything about the emperor escaped and went back for adiscussion what they should do next. If they couldn't make sure, thatwas the problem.
    Thistime since the mayor came himself, the master received him. “Wheredo you come from?” The mayor inquired like a routine patrolpoliceman asking a lodger in an inn.
    “Thecapital.” His voice was low like having a sore throat.
    “Inwhich yamen do you work?”
    “TheRoyal Family Affairs Management.”
    “Youhave any official business down here?”
    “Sure.”The butler stood beside the master all the time.
    “What'syour business?”
    “Can'ttell.” He cast a glimpse at the butler.
    “Willyou go further south?”
    “Sure.”
    “Doyou have any official traveling documents?”
    “Can'tlet you see.”
    Sowhat else could the mayor say? He returned to his yamen forconsultation. The mayor said, “I think he is an impostor.”

  3. #253
    Animpostor for what?The aide wanted to know.
    Hedidn't say he's the emperor. How could he be an impostor?” said theadviser.
    “I'lltake full responsibilities if anything happens to show I am wrong.”The mayor persisted. The aide and the adviser had to obey him. Theylaid out the ploy in details. They would invite him to stay in theyamen, even by force if necessary. He must be under their controlfirst. Then the mayor would report to the governor. If it turned outthat he was really the emperor, they could say that they wanted toprotect him. If he was not, he would go to jail, which was veryclose, just in the yamen.
    Nextday the mayor sent some policemen to escort the master, the butler,the servants and even the cook into the yamen and confined them. Thenat the command from the governor, they escorted the group to WuchangCity where the governor had his yamen and the group was confinedthere. The mayor thought that as the governor had had an interviewwith West Empress Dowager and the emperor, he should recognize theemperor. But the problem was that even the governor could not tell ifhe was the emperor or not, because during the interview the governorhad prostrated before West Empress Dowager and the emperor and didn'tdare to look up. Their last resort was to send someone to the capitalto glean the information about the emperor. The man the governor hadsent was smart. He went to some tea houses where the eunuchs wouldgather after their duties. He got acquainted with some of the eunuchsand treated them with food and drink. He learned at length that theemperor was still confined in the Forbidden City.
    Whenthe man brought back the message, the governor accused Yang, themaster, of the impersonation of the emperor. The master pleaded thathe had never said that he was the emperor. Only the mayor had thoughthim to be the emperor. The master was really innocent. But no, he wasguilty of what the mayor had originally mistaken him to be. Thegovernor knew that such a case would please West Empress Dowager.That was what really mattered to him. So all the seven people wereexecuted. They would eventually die even if they could live up to theage of one hundred years. Therefore, why not let them die earlier toplease West Empress Dowager?

  4. #254
    Chapter 43


    Sincethe emperor was confined on the island in the Forbidden City, WestEmpress Dowager had often wanted to depose him. A statement wasissued that the emperor was sick and doctors should be recommended. So it was deemed a sign that the emperor would soon be forced toabdicate. The French envoy came to the Foreign Affairs Yamen torecommend a French doctor, but an official in charge there said thatthey were not entitled to make such a decision, either in affirmativeor in negative. They must report to West Empress Dowager and theanswer would be given after three days. Three days later the Frenchenvoy came once more. He got a negative reply. The reason was thatthe emperor was accustomed to Chinese herbal medicine. The Britishenvoy came, too. They confessed that their governments were worriedabout the emperor's health and must send someone to see how theemperor was. (implied if the emperor was still alive.) So WestEmpress Dowager had a meeting with the courtiers. A courtier remarkedthat it was not polite to refuse the visit of a French doctor. It wasjust like a neighbor was concerned with the health of anotherneighbor and came to visit. But West Empress Dowager didn't want theforeign neighbors to be concerned with the health of the emperor. Atlast she was persuaded to yield that a French doctor could come tosee the emperor, accompanied by two princes.
    ButWest Empress Dowager was still contemplating how to depose theemperor. But who could succeed the throne? She did not want anyadult to be the successor, because she should return power to him assoon as he was crowned. She would choose a small boy, but nonesuitable at the time. Besides, many courtiers disagreed to her idea.Even foreign countries interfered in that matter. She had to give in,but hated the foreigners all the more.

  5. #255
    Rongludidn't like the idea to change the emperorship, because it mightoccasion a lot of troubles like foreign intervention and oppositionfrom the governors and from the people throughout the nation. But hecould not disobey West Empress Dowager and didn't want to directlyshow his disagreement with her. Two prime ministers had submitted areport to West Empress Dowager to propose the deposal of the emperor.West Empress Dowager told them to show the report to Ronglu for hisopinion. When they came to see Ronglu and handed it to Ronglu for himto read, Ronglu pretended that he didn't hold the report tight enoughand let it fall into the brazier. It was burned to aches immediately.The two prime ministers were furious and went back to West EmpressDowager to accuse Ronglu of disrespect to West Empress Dowager. Theyhoped that West Empress Dowager would punish Ronglu for it. But ofcourse they were disappointed. Ronglu consulted with his advisers andgot a notion that it was better at present to choose someone to bethe successor to the emperor.
    SinceWest Empress Dowager could not remove the present emperor from thethrone, she accepted the idea and chose the son of Prince Zaiyi asthe future successor when the emperor died. Ronglu had persuaded WestEmpress Dowager, saying that the foreign governments declared thatthey would disown any new emperor and that it would be better if WestEmpress Dowager could choose some boy as the adopted son of the lateEmperor Tongzhi, a potential successor. West Empress Dowager thoughtit feasible. The boy was fifteen then. He didn't like to read, whichwas a bad omen to be a successor. He loved to play and fight. ButWest Empress Dowager didn't know it at first. Almost all the eunuchsand royal maids took a dislike to him on the first day he moved intothe Forbidden City. He didn't look likable, with thick lips and theupper lip curving upward, almost touching the nose. It was a facethat anyone would say that it was not a face for an emperor. But hewas the relative of West Empress Dowager. His mother was the nieceof West Empress Dowager.

  6. #256
    Ashis son (Now everyone called him Big Brother.) was selected as thepotential successor, Prince Zaiyi became powerful. If the emperorwas deposed, his son would be the emperor and he would be the fatherof the emperor, more powerful. But the meddling of the foreignerscrushed his sweet dream. He hated the foreigners. He wanted todrive all of them out of China. He waited for a chance.
    Sincein the Opium War the foreign fleets had broken open the golden gateto China, many priests had come to build churches and preached toChinese people. Quite a few Chinese people began to believe in God. But the traditional religions in China were Taoism and Buddhism, inwhich much more people believed. Different religions always haveconflicts, which even develop to killing. At that time, those whobelieved in God were looked upon as heathens. Many God-believingpeople, including priests, were killed and churches burned to ashes. This often occasioned diplomatic problems.
    Therewere always some kind of organizations among the Chinese people. Onewas called Yihetuan in Shandong Province. They declared that they hadmagic power. The bullet could not injure them. They hated theforeigners and those God-believing Chinese people. Accordingly theykilled those people and foreign priests and burned churches. Whereversuch things happened, the foreign envoys protested to the Chinesegovernment. So the local government began to arrest and even executethe members of that organization, which enlarged very fast. Under thepressure of foreign governments, West Empress Dowager had to appointYuan Shikai as the governor of Shandong Province. He arrived there onDecember 25, 1899. Yuan used guns to deal with Yihetuan, who had onlyswords and spears, even hoes as weapons. Yuan captured some of themand gunned them down in public to show that it was a lie that theyhad magic power as the bullets penetrated through their bodies. Theyhad to flee in Spring, 1900, from Shandong Province into ZhidiProvince, closer to the capital.
    Thensomeone in that organization got a wonderful idea. They put up abanner bearing these words, Help Qing Dynasty To Wipe Out Foreigners.The slogan struck home.

  7. #257
    Quitea few courtiers tended to pacify Yihetuan. Prince Zaiyi wanted toutilize them to drive out the foreigners so that West Empress Dowagercould force the emperor to abdicate and his son could be on thethrone. And West Empress Dowager wanted to use Yihetuan to expel theforeigners, too, so that she could do everything at will without anyfear to be interfered.
    SincePrince Zaiyi and some courtiers supported Yihetuan, they were crazierin behavior. As a revenge for the killing by Yuan, they began toambush some small groups of the government army. They pulled down thetelegram cables and chopped down the posts. They dug up some rails tomake the train derail. All these were reported to West EmpressDowager, who ordered Ronglu to send troops to protect the railroadand the telegram posts. Ronglu had already been made a secretary, butstill controlled the army in the capital area. Usually a secretarycould not command any armies, but Ronglu did. No one had had morepower than Ronglu since the beginning of Qing Dynasty. West EmpressDowager did not want to give any other courtiers much power. But shecould trust in Ronglu. Ronglu could never betray her.
    Yihetuanassailed the division that was guarding the railroad. The divisionkilled some and dispersed the rest. In Tianjin City anyone who daredto criticize Yihetuan was killed. When they were walking in thestreets, even the mayor must stand aside and let them pass. The wholecity was in disorder and in a mess.
    Thegovernor of Zhidi Province believed in their magic power and treatedthem as his noble guests. He even let their leader ride in his ownofficial palanquin. Therefore, policemen didn't dare to interferewith whatever they were doing. Then Yihetuan was let into the capitaland their leaders took lodging in the residence of Prince Zaiyi. Thesituation got worse and the capital was in a great chaos.

  8. #258
    GraduallyWest Empress Dowager began to find that she didn't like the boy,because he was naughty and didn't want to study. He had two dogsbrought in and always played with them. Once when she met the emperorand saw his upper lip a little swollen, she asked about it. Theemperor said that Big Brother had knocked him down and he had fallenon his face and got his upper lip swollen. Prince Zaiyi always cursedthe emperor behind his back, wishing him to die. The boy had heardhis father say it so many times and developed a hatred toward theemperor, who should be his uncle in the relationship. He had gone tosee the emperor and provoked him that day. When the emperor had toldhim to leave him alone, he had rushed to the emperor when he turnedhis back to him and knocked him over. West Empress Dowager was iratewith the boy for his misbehavior and summoned him to her presence.She told her eunuchs to give the boy a good whipping on the butts.When Prince Zaiyi, the father, heard it, he feared that West EmpressDowager might deprive his son of the status of the successor. Someoneadvised him that he should take steps to assure his son's future. Thedecisive step was to kill the emperor so that his son could take overthe throne immediately. It was an alluring idea. One day Prince Zaiyitook some members of Yihetuan into the Forbidden City. The guardsthere didn't dare to stop them and let them in. Prince Zaiyi led themto where West Empress Dowager generally received the courtiers. Hedidn't know the way to the place where the emperor lived. He asked tosee West Empress Dowager, who came out to see him. The members ofYihetuan threatened and wanted West Empress Dowager to give up theemperor to them. But Ronglu had many bodyguards stationed there toprotect West Empress Dowager and they dashed out to seize all themembers of Yihetuan and executed them as robbers. Prince Zaiyi had toleave the Forbidden City without his goal fulfilled.

  9. #259
    OnMay 20, 1900, all the foreign envoys in Peking had a meeting and nextday they sent a notice to Qing government, requesting that theleaders of Yihetuan and their accomplices be executed and theofficials who refused to arrest the members of Yihetuan be punished,adding that if nothing was accomplished within five days, they wouldsend more soldiers into the capital to protect their legations. Butat that time the Qing government lost control of Yihetuan. ManyChinese soldiers sympathized with Yihetuan and even joined it.
    OnMay 31, more foreign soldiers came into the capital to safeguardtheir legations. Members of Yihetuan went to siege the largestcathedral in the capital, The North Cathedral. But they met withstrong resistance. The clergyman and his assistants, helped by manyChinese people who believed in God, defended their holy building.Someone suggested to the leader of Yihetuan to use magic power, butthe leader said that he had had sex last night, which had weakenedhis magic power. He could not use it today, maybe, the next day. Buthe didn't come next day, letting others to continue the attack.
    WhenWest Empress Dowager was told about it, she gave a written order toPrince Zaiyi to oppress the behavior of Yihetuan. As he received theorder, he just rumpled the piece of paper, stuffing it into hispocket. Another prince was at his residence at the time, and seeingthis, he returned home and told his servants to shut the door. No oneshould go out and no visitors would be received. They had enough ofeverything in store to live on for several months. Many courtiersfollowed the example.

  10. #260
    OnJune 2, more foreign troops got on land from their warships andgathered along the coast. They began to assault Tianjin City. Thegeneral whose duties were to defend the city told the mayor to sendYihetuan to drive the foreign troops back onto their warships. Aleader of Yihetuan came to see the general and said to him that heshould fire his cannons at the foreign troops. “What if they returnthe fire?” The general asked. “I will use my magic power to maketheir cannons dysfunctional for six hours.” When he left, it wasnightfall. So the general prepared to attack the foreign troops nextday. But at dawn a member of Yihetuan came to ask if the general hadfired his cannons at night. It meant that during the whole night, thecannons of the foreigners had been dysfunctional by the magic powerof the Yihetuan leader. That was like a joke.
    OnJune 10 the foreign troops began to march toward Peking. But as therails were dug up by Yihetuan, they couldn't take the train. Theyhad to walk and on June 12 they marched into the ambush and had towithdraw. The foreign fleets were attacking Dagukou, a fortress onthe harbor, at the same time.
    FromJune 16 through 19, West Empress Dowager had meetings with hercourtiers to discuss whether to ask for a negotiation or to fightagainst the foreign aggressors. Ronglu held the view to sustainpeace, but Prince Zaiyi insisted in waging the war. West EmpressDowager could not yet be decisive, because she set her heart ondriving foreigners out of China, but no one could assure her of hersuccess.
    Atthis critical moment, Prince Zaiyi and his followers decided thatthey must put something on the scales that would tip to their side.Prince Zaiyi sent an adviser of his to see a telegram decoder. Theadviser gave him ten thousand taels of silver for exchange of a falsetelegram supposed coming from foreign governments. The usualprocedure was that when a telegram came in, the operator received itand gave it to the decoder, who rendered it into regular text anddispatched it to wherever it should go. If he made a false telegramsupposed to come from the foreign governments and handed it in to theSecretarial Bureau, it was very easy. So when the false telegram wasdelivered, the decoder vanished with the money.

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