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  1. #261
    WhenWest Empress Dowager read the telegram, she was stunned into silence,because the telegram listed the following demands: (1) to free theemperor and return the power to the emperor; (2) to disperse Yihetuanand if Qing government can't do it alone, all the foreign governmentsare willing to send their armies to help; (3) Qing government shouldget the agreement from the foreign governments as to how many troopsQing government would train and keep standing. Qing government mustask foreign officers to drill its army; (4) foreign governments mustsupervise and control the collection of all the taxes and the use ofthem.
    Thoseconditions were just what West Empress Dowager could not bear with. So on June 19, when Dagukou fell to the foreign hands, West EmpressDowager decided to declare war and the foreign envoys were notifiedto leave Peking in 24 hours.
    OnJune 20, the German envoy wanted to go to the Foreign Affairs Yamento see the courtier in charge, but on the way he met a squad ofChinese patrolling soldiers and was killed by the leader of thesquad. The situation went from worse to worst. At four o'lock in theafternoon that same day, instigated by Prince Zaiyi Yihetuan startedto assault the foreign legations in Peking. A division under thecommand of Ronglu turned over to Prince Zaiyi and joined thebesiegement. The general of the division had been a rebel in thenorthwestern provinces. He had turned over to Qing government and hadbeen promoted to be a general. Prince Zaiyi had promised him that ifhis son would succeed to the throne, he would be made a governor. Sohe took orders from Prince Zaiyi instead from Ronglu. This was notdeemed as betrayal since Prince Zaiyi and Ronglu both served WestEmpress Dowager. Ronglu could not even report this inside turnover toWest Empress Dowager for fear that she would blame him for hisinability. But what could he do as this was not betrayal?

  2. #262
    Yihetuanand the division could not do much damage even to the buildings ofthe legations because their weapons were not advanced enough. Theyhad only rifles. So the general went to see Ronglu to borrow cannonsthat was under Ronglu's control. Of course Ronglu gave him a flatrefusal. He complained to Prince Zaiyi.
    WhenWest Empress Dowager was told that Prince Zaiyi wanted to useYihetuan to assault the foreign legations, West Empress Dowagerdidn't say anything. It meant that she acquiesced. Prince Zaiyi hadpromised to seize all the legations and capture all the foreignerswithin a short period of time. But it was now three days. So he wentto complain to West Empress Dowager that Ronglu rejected to lend himcannons and without cannons how could he take the legations in ashort time? He meant that it was Ronglu's fault, not his fault, thathe had failed in his task. West Empress Dowager told Ronglu to lendhis cannons to Prince Zaiyi, but Ronglu said that he could not lendhis cannons to Prince Zaiyi, because they might hit the Temple ofGeneral Deng, which was very close to the foreign legations.
    GeneralDeng had been a general of Ming Dynasty. His troops had been campednorth of the Great Wall. The first emperor of Qing Dynasty had likedto travel alone to check geographical conditions for his militarypurposes. He had been taken captive by the soldiers of Ming Dynastyand sent to General Deng. The first impression the emperor had madeon General Deng had been favorable and Deng had secretly releasedhim. He had been always grateful. Later when Japan had invaded Korea,General Deng had been sent to fight the Japanese army in Korea anddied there. As the first emperor of Qing Dynasty had learned thedeath of General Deng, he had built a temple in his memory, calledthe Temple of General Deng. When Qing Dynasty had been founded withinthe entire territory of China, the emperor had built another templein Peking, also called the Temple of General Deng. Every subsequentemperor would go there to worship. If the temple was hit by thecannons, it would be a crime done to the ancestors. Ronglu used it asa pretext to reject the demand of Prince Zaiyi. West Empress Dowageragreed, but she wanted Ronglu to use his cannons to support theattack to the foreign legations. Ronglu went back to tell the officerin charge of the cannon regiment to open fire. He didn't say towardsthe foreign legations He hinted to the officer that he should makethe sound of the cannons reach the inside of the Forbidden City. Sothe officer turned his cannons in the opposite direction and keptfiring. Ronglu always opposed to Yihetuan and their actions. Only hedidn't want to sing a different tune to displease West EmpressDowager.
    Somany people were killed on both sides from June 20 through 24. ButPrince Zaiyi and his followers hadn't seized the legations yet. WestEmpress Dowager blamed him, saying, “If you can't take a fewbuildings in our own land, how can you drive out the foreigners?”On June 25, West Empress Dowager ordered to stop the attack, but theChinese soldiers and Yihetuan still surrounded the foreign legationsand the attack didn't really cease until August 14.

  3. #263
    OnJuly 14, the foreign united troops seized Tianjin City. No one wantedto be the bearer of the bad news to West Empress Dowager, but it wasPrince Zaiyi's responsibility. He couldn't avoid it and had to reportit to West Empress Dowager, who chided him, “You said that Yihetuanhas magic power and can resist the foreigners. How could that be thatTianjin City was lost?” Prince Zaiyi trembled while answering, “Iwas told that traitors were hiding among Yihetuan and made theirmagic malfunction.” West Empress Dowager flared up at such childishexcuse. She slapped hard on the table before her, which startledZaiyi prostrating in front of the table. “I don't care about theirmagic functioning or not. If the foreigners come to the capital, Iwill put you before the muzzles of their cannons.” She dismissedhim in frustration.
    Nextday Ronglu went to see West Empress Dowager to report that after theinvestigation, the telegram supposed to come from the foreigngovernments was proved to be a fake. No such a telegram had reallycome through the cable. There was no record about such a telegram atthe stations on both ends. It must have been written by the order ofPrince Zaiyi, who had always urged West Empress Dowager to declarewar against the foreigners. So West Empress Dowager summoned Zaiyi.“Do you know what is deception?” She hit the side table with herfist. Zaiyi quivered with fear, but he pleaded weakly, “I neverdare to cheat Old Buddha.
    Thenwho created a phony telegram?” She accused indignantly. Zaiyi couldhave nothing to say for himself. He only knocked his forehead on thefloor, imploring to be pardoned. “You think I don't know the thingsyou did. I know what you want. You want to be the over-emperor whenyour son inherits the crown. I can tell you now, don't even thinkabout it.”

  4. #264
    WhenPrince Zaiyi got home, he was told that his favorite assistantgeneral and his family had been killed by Yihetuan. They had accusedhim of insufficient provisions to them. Zaiyi sent for their leader,who said that there were traitors among them who had done it. Zaiyiknew that the mention of the traitors were just a pretense they madeto elude the criticisms from other courtiers. That the leader wouldsay it to him was really beyond his belief and imagination. He waslike to invite wolves into the fold of his sheep.
    Hewas more afraid of the courtiers to oppose him than Yihetuan tobetray him. First he accused three courtiers of treason and put theminto jail. Then two courtiers wrote a report to West Empress Dowagerthat Prince Zaiyi should be responsible for all the occurrences. ButZaiyi said that they were guilty of treachery and begged West EmpressDowager to execute them. And West Empress Dowager did order these twocourtiers to be executed. Then Prince Zaiyi insisted that the threealready imprisoned courtiers should also be executed and likewiseWest Empress Dowager did issue an order to execute them.
    OnAugust 4, the foreign troops left Tianjin City and marched towardsPeking. Outside Peking, there were Chinese troops camping there todefend the capital led by ex-governor Li Binheng, but when the unitedforeign troops approached, the Chinese soldiers were all scattered atthe sound of cannons and guns. Ex-governor Li had originally opposedto war against the foreigners, but when the foreign troops had beenattacking Tianjin City, he had recruited a division and marched thedivision to rescue the capital. West Empress Dowager was excited atthe action and interviewed him and gave him a royal sword. A royalsword had some authority of itself. Anyone who had the royal swordcould execute everyone who disobeyed his order without the need toget the approval from the emperor first. It was as if he representedthe emperor to execute people. It was a specially given power as wellas an honor and an encouragement. When his newly-recruited soldiersdispersed, he cut his own throat with the royal sword. Now theforeign troops marched forth without any resistance like they were ona parade. On August 14, the allied troops entered Peking without ahitch and then they strutted into the Forbidden City, from which WestEmpress Dowager had already escaped.

  5. #265
    Chapter 44

    ConcubineZhen had been confined in an empty room of an old deserted building.As she was always kind to eunuchs and maids, they often came to seeher and talked a little. Her sister, Concubine Jin, often sent hermaid to bring her sister some delicious food. While Concubine Zhenwas eating, the maid told her all kinds of news through the barredwindow so that Concubine Zhen could follow up with the situation. Oneday she wanted the maid to take a note she had written to her sister.The maid could not refuse and hid the note in her pocket. But on herway to Concubine Jin's chamber, she lost the note somewhere. She wasnot even aware of it. When she reached the chamber of Concubine Jin,she could not find the note. So she was in a panic and Concubine Jinwas terrified, too, because they didn't even know what was on thenote. If anything written on it was against the rules and if WestEmpress Dowager should know it, both of them, Concubine Jin and themaid, would die. So the maid traced back the way she had come, butfound nothing remotely like a piece of paper.
    Thenote was picked up by a eunuch, who handed it in to West EmpressDowager. She read it and was angry, because the note read like that:“Make the emperor stay for the negotiation. But it was not the timeto mind such a trifling thing.”
    Latein the evening on August 12, the bad news came at last that the jointtroops would soon enter the capital. West Empress Dowager decided toleave Peking.
    “OldBuddha, the foreigners will soon come into Peking.” Prince Zaiyicame running to report in a frightened quavering voice, “Whatshould we do?”
    “Yousaid that Yihetuan could resist the foreign invasion. They havespecial magic and are bulletproof. Now you go to defend Peking. Ifyou let the foreign armies enter the capital, I will skin you.”West Empress Dowager was really in a great fume.

  6. #266
    Butthe Chinese army and Yihetuan scattered before the foreign guns. Andearly next morning West Empress Dowager sent for the emperor, thequeen and Concubine Jin. She told them her decision and ordered thequeen to take eunuchs to bury her treasures in the backyard.
    Thenshe was attired in a dress like a peasant's wife and so were othersas suitably dressed. But before her departure she ordered ConcubineZhen to be brought to her presence. “The foreign troops will sooncome into Peking. I can't bring you along with me since there arealready so many people I am taking. They will certainly rape you,which will be a great insult to the royal family, to the emperor. SoI advise you to end your life before such things happen to you.”West Empress Dowager said to Concubine Zhen in a calm serious voice.
    “Iam not afraid of death, but I beg Old Buddha to let the emperor stayto deal with the foreigners.” Her aim was that if the emperor couldstay out of the control of West Empress Dowager, he would have theopportunity to actually seize the power. But West Empress Dowager hadsufficient experience to see through such a farce and she justordered the eunuchs to push Concubine Zhen into a deep well. Theemperor implored West Empress Dowager on his knees to spare her life,but she just waved to the eunuchs to execute her order. ConcubineZhen, still young (born on February 27, 1876 and died on August 13,1900), fell into the well with a long loud shriek trailing behind herin the air.
    WhileConcubine Zhen died in the Forbidden City, an old prime minister Xuhanged himself at home. He was the most conservative courtier, alwaysopposing to anything made in foreign countries. When other courtiersused kerosene lamps, he still used candles. He was short-sighted, butrefused to use glasses. Now the foreigners would soon reach theForbidden City. He didn't want to see West Empress Dowager and theemperor taken captives or insulted. He decided to die for the nation.He called in his son and wanted him to be a martyr, too. His sonpromised to die with him. They prepared two pieces of rope and twostools. When the father put his head into the noose, the son stoodaside and comforted his father, “Father, you go first. I willfollow.” He took away the stool under his father's feet and watchedhis father hanging from the ceiling. Then he escaped by climbing overthe back wall, but as destiny had it, he was captured by Japanesesoldiers and kept as a captive till a peace treaty was signed. He wastransferred to Qing government and was executed by the order of WestEmpress Dowager.

  7. #267
    WestEmpress Dowager and the emperor rode on a wagon, and the queen andConcubine Jin on another wagon, followed by some courtiers onhorseback. Prince Zaiyi and other princes followed up, too. At noon,they reached a small village. Head eunuch Li found an old man andbrought him to the presence of West Empress Dowager, who didn't forcethe old man to kowtow before her because of her disguise as apeasant's wife.
    “Doyou have any food?” She asked him.
    “Allfood taken by soldiers. They just gone.” The old man replied.
    Whatcould West Empress Dowager say? Soldiers wanted to eat, too. Lucky,they didn't kill the old man and eat him. “Do you have tea? Weare thirsty.” Eunuch Li asked.
    “Thisa poor place.” Said the old man, “Never taste tea my whole life.Always use dried date flowers.” So saying, he went to boil waterand poured hot water into a crude bowl with some dried date flowers.
    WestEmpress Dowager looked at the dirty bowl, dent at the brim, frowning,but thirst forced her to drink it. A few hours later, they arrivedin a small town. The mayor received and provided them with decentfood, though not like dainties in the palace. At least their hungerwas cured.

  8. #268
    Nowthey wanted to issue several urgent orders, but they didn't bring anyseals in a hurry. In general, a written order should have a seal onit, like the seal of West Empress Dowager, the seal of the emperor,the seal of the Secretarial Bureau or that of the cabinet, for thehighest authority. Every yamen had its own seal. But they couldn'tuse the seal of the yamen of this town. Just as they were in such aperplexity, another secretary arrived, bringing the seal of theSecretarial Bureau. They issued some orders to move the troops toblockade the routes the foreigners were supposed to take if theywanted to pursue. Next they discussed where to go to set up theirtemporary palace. They could not stay in this small town. The nearestcity big enough to have decent place for the royal family was TaiyuanCity. So to Taiyuan City they made their way.
    Themayor of this small town was Wu Yong. West Empress Dowager wassatisfied with his service and appointed him as the royal harbingerto prepare lodging and food for them. He went ahead and came intoanother town smaller than his. It was deserted. Even the mayor wasnot there. Then some eunuchs, some bodyguards and some soldiersarrived. They asked Mayor Wu for food and fodder, but he couldn'tfind anything in this deserted town. An officer glared at him,drawing out his sword. It looked as if he would kill Mayor Wu if hecouldn't give him what he demanded. Wu got fumed and said to himaloud, “You fled before the foreign armies and you want to kill me.Are you ashamed of yourself?” He recalled all the bad thingshappened recently and started to cry bitter tears. When he dried histears and opened his eyes, no one was there except himself. Laterpeople said that they had been driven away by his tears. Perhaps hecould try to weep before the foreigners and drive them out of China.

  9. #269
    Whenthey arrived in Taiyuan City, some pieces of news came. Ronglu was inBaoding City, preparing for any emergency. The foreign armies werekeeping the capital in order and waiting for Qing government to sendsomeone there to negotiate. The peace negotiation between Qinggovernment and foreign envoys began even when West Empress Dowagerhad still been on the way to Taiyuan City. One of the conditionspersisted on by the foreign governments was to execute all thecourtiers who had stubbornly used Yihetuan against foreigners andhence caused the war. The Qing government representatives pleadedthat by Chinese law princes were never executed. The joint foreigntroops marched towards Baoding City and took it. West Empress Dowagerwas afraid that they would come after her in Taiyuan City. So sheescaped to XiAn City with the emperor and other royal family members,leaving those princes and other courtiers in Taiyuan City, becausethose were the ones on the list that the foreigners wanted Qinggovernment to punish.
    Atlast they reached XiAn City, their final destination. It had beenthe capital for many dynasties back in the Chinese history. It wasinland far enough from Peking. So West Empress Dowager thought thatthe invading armies could not march so far to it. Once she was safe,she restored to her former luxurious life despite the capital beingstill in the hands of the foreigners. Ronglu came to XiAn Citydirectly from Baoding City from which he had fled.
    OnSeptember 7, 1901, a treaty was signed and peace was restored. Themembers of Yihetuan were either killed or arrested or scattered inescape. Through bargaining, all the courtiers belligerent toforeigners and responsible for the war were executed except PrinceZaiyi, who was banished for life to Mongolian district.

  10. #270
    Therewere two theaters in XiAn City. Since West Empress Dowager set up hertemporary palace there, Big Brother went to watch operas everyday,escorted by a group of eunuchs. Big Brother liked to accompany thesinging by beating the drum. So the owner of the theater and theleader of the troupe had to let him do it. There were often somesoldiers there, who were under the command of Ronglu. One day, BigBrother didn't beat the drum correctly and the opera singer falteredin his singing. So some soldiers who didn't know who Big Brother waslaughed at him. Big Brother thought it was contempt to him. He beganthe fight with the soldiers and the eunuchs joined to protect BigBrother. They had to even if they didn't like the boy, because ifanything serious happened to Bit Brother, they would be executedfirst.


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