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  1. #41
    Onthe day before the birthday, only the royal family watched the operasin the daytime and a feast was given in the evening for all toattend, the royal family as well as the courtiers. On the birthday,the emperor got up early. After he had breakfast and was dressed infull, he went to the building where the portraits of his ancestorswere hung on the wall opposite the double doors and he kowtowed tothe portraits. Then he made his way to another building to receivehis male family members and the courtiers. On this formal occasionthe emperor went everywhere in a procession. Before the emperorwalked two files of bodyguards side by side, carrying yellow flagseach with a curved dragon embroidered on them and long-handledweird-shaped weapons reflecting the sunshine, the symbols of power. The emperor sat on a big wide sedan-chair with a yellow canopy overhis head to shut out the sun. The sedan-chair was carried by eighteunuchs. After the emperor walked two files of eunuchs carrying allkinds of things the emperor might use, such as clothes to change,towels, teacups, etc. More bodyguards brought up the rear.
    Whenthe emperor reached the building, his family and all the courtierswere already there. They were all dressed in full, wearing the bluegowns with pictures of different birds embroidered on the front andthe back of the gowns. The different birds showed different ranks. A rosary of beads was hanging down from the neck, almost reaching theknees. The beads were made from different materials for differentranks, the size between a pigeon's egg and a hen's egg. The hatswere decorated on the top with a bead of the same material and thesame size. Quite a few courtiers received from the emperor apeacock? tail feather as an honor and ornament, which was stuck inthe hole of the bead on their hats.
    Allwent down on their knees when they heard the emperor? processioncoming and prostrated there till the emperor entered the building. Then they followed in. When the emperor settled on his throne, theyarranged themselves in an array according to their different ranks,the highest in the front, and kowtowed nine times while shouting inunison, ?ong live the emperor, long live the emperor, long live theemperor!Music was accompanying during the whole ritual. It wasalmost noon when the ceremony ended. The feast then began with allthe dainties available, like the bear? paws, the shark? fins, theswallow's nests and sea cucumbers, etc.
    Afterthe banquet the operas began, which lasted late into the night. Before they left, they were each given a gift. But the emperordidn't stay long with them. He had gone to the back palace, to hisqueen and concubines with whom the emperor had his feast dinner andwatched operas on another stage. The evening operas were different,especially the first one which had no scenario. All characters,imaginable from legends, myths, folk songs and fairy tales, got onthe stage, dressed in due costumes. All the actors sang the samewords in a chorus to praise the emperor. The accompanying music wasloud with gongs and drums. When the opera ended and music stopped,everyone felt the ears were still ringing and the silence was deep inbetween.

  2. #42
    Duringthe three feasting days, ignoring the advice of the doctors, theemperor ate too much and got too tired so that on the evening of thelast day the emperor felt really sick while watching an opera, whichthrew everyone in panic. After rest and treatment, he felt a littlebetter. Then came the queen's birthday. The emperor remembered thatin 1856, on August 12, it had been the queen's twentieth birthday. By Chinese tradition, every ten-year's birthday is more important andshould be celebrated on a larger scale. A grand banquet had been heldfor it. They both had had a time of their lives. But now as theemperor was sick, the queen didn't want to celebrate her birthday,but the emperor insisted. Therefore, the queen agreed to have it onlyfor one day. On that day, when the celebration began, the queenkowtowed to the emperor for making her the queen. Then the queen satthere and all the concubines came to kowtow to the queen and then allthe eunuchs and maids followed suit. All the relatives and courtierskowtowed outside the queen's chamber. Operas were performed and afeast was given. They ate while watching the operas. Since it wasthe queen? birthday, the emperor let the queen decide what operas shewanted to watch. All the operas the queen chose were those of moralinstructions or of the good being rewarded and the bad beingpunished. The queen was always deemed as a lady saint in theForbidden City.

  3. #43
    Thesickness of the emperor became serious. He coughed blood more often. Although Concubine Yan helped him to read the daily reports, hestill needed someone else to wait on him, to console him. He sent forConcubine Li. But when Concubine Yan learned it, she was jealous. She could do nothing and say nothing, but the queen could, shethought. How could she talk the queen into interfering with it? Sheshould adopt some kind of ruse, whatever kind of ruse that she shouldtake pains to think of.
    Nextday, after a sleepless night with her brain-cudgeling, she went tothe queen? chamber. After the ritual of kowtowing on her kneesbefore the queen, she began, “Does Queen know. . .” She trailedoff for emphasis.
    “Whatshould I know?” The queen was curious. That's the effect of anincomplete sentence.
    Theemperor coughs blood again. She raised her handkerchief to her eyes,making some sort of a sound like sobbing. “I always think that theemperor should have more rest. But how can he when Concubine Li iswith him day and night? It hinted that the emperor had sex withConcubine Li, which was not good to the health of the emperor.”
    Thequeen was concerned, too. “Leave that to me.” She solacedConcubine Yan. After Concubine Yan left, she sent for Concubine Li,but the queen was a good-for-nothing and she didn't scold ConcubineLi as Concubine Yan would have expected.
    “How'sthe emperor's sickness these days?” She asked Concubine Li.
    “Notgood.” was the reply.
    “Theemperor must have more rest.” It meant that Concubine Li should nothave sex with him.
    “Iknow, but how can I reject whatever the emperor wants me to do?” Itimplied the truth that if the emperor wanted sex with her, how shecould refuse.

  4. #44
    Whenthe emperor had been well and healthy, almost everyday he had givenout written orders about this and that, however trivial it was. Nowsince the emperor was sick, he couldn't have done it everyday. Sothere were rumors prevalent in the capital about the emperor'shealth. Some rumors said that the emperor was lingering on his deathbed. Some rumors even had it that the emperor was already dead andthat Sushun kept it a secret to make his arrangements to seize thepower. Rumors were ensued by inflation. The value of currency andthe prices of goods were pitching up and down greatly. It was theresponsibilities of Sushun who was still the minister of InternalRevenue Ministry after he had been made one of the secretaries ofstate. Sushun wanted to do something about it. He planned torectify the four government money shops (i.e. banks) run by theInternal Revenue Ministry and to cast new coins, which should beheavier than the old ones and to issue new money shop notes. BeforeSushun had been appointed the minister of the Internal RevenueMinistry, the corruption in the Ministry had been obvious andpublicly known. Some officials in the Ministry and some clerks inthe money shops worked hand in glove to embezzle money. The ministerat that time had been an old man of no ability. Sushun had asked theemperor to remove the old minister and made him the new minister. Then he had made his fame as a man of talent by investigating theembezzlement case. But he couldn't uproot the evil and thecorruption was still there. Only the people working there weredifferent. Now Sushun wanted to do it again. But the emperor was sosick that he couldn't get his approval and had to wait.

  5. #45
    Chapter 11

    Theroyal doctors diagnosed that the emperor was suffering from aterminal disease, but they could not tell the truth, because no oneliked to hear that he would soon die. The emperor was certainly noexception.
    Oneday after the head royal doctor examined the emperor, the emperorasked him in a weak voice, “How's my sickness?”
    “Notserious.” was the answer.
    “Whatis my sickness? You have a name for it?”
    “Emperoris too tired, need a lot of rest.” He didn't dare to add, “Haveless sex.”
    Afterhe wrote the prescription, he was summoned to the presence of thesecretaries of state.
    “Whatis really the emperor's sickness?” asked Tu Han, one of thesecretaries of state, “You must tell us the truth.”
    Thehead doctor hesitated, but he knew that if he didn't tell the truthand when the emperor died, he would be accused at least of inabilityto cure the emperor and let the emperor die. So he decided to tellthe truth. “The case is hopeless. Tuberculosis.” He confessed.
    “Then,why you said not serious to the emperor? You liar.” Anewly-promoted secretary of state shouted at him indignantly.
    “Everydoctor says so to his patients.” He pleaded.
    That'sanother truth. They couldn't blame him for it. So he was dismissed.

  6. #46
    Inthe Chinese history, when a new emperor was too young to rule thecountry, there were two systems to be adopted: the counselor systemand the empress dowager system. It meant who would help the youngemperor, that is, to make the decisions for him, to give edicts inhis name. The counselors or the empress dowager(s)? Sushun wantedthe former while Concubine Yan wanted the latter. Sushun called fora secret meeting in his house. Only four people were present, hisbrother Duanhua, Zaihuan, Tu Han and himself. They were in apavilion on a tiny island with only a small bridge for the access. No possible eavesdroppers. They even left the windows open so thatno one could approach without being seen. They discussed what theyshould do before the emperor's last moment. Sushun began, ?he lastmoment for the emperor will soon come. What do we want him to say ashis last words?
    Weshould make the emperor appoint us to be counselors. But Old Sixcan't be included.” suggested Zaihuan.
    Good.”said Sushun, then to Tu Han, “What do you think?”
    TuHan was a scholar and often had a second thought for everything. Heobserved, “The appointment of the counselors must come from theemperor. What we do can't be too obvious and incite criticisms.”
    Don'tworry. I'll take care of it.” said Sushun
    Good. Let's write down the names.” said Duanhua.
    Allthe secretaries.” suggested Zaihuan.
    No,no. Not Wenqiang.” Sushun refuted.
    Okay.Got it.” said Zaihuan, “We have four secretaries here. You, he,he and me.” He pointed to Sushun, Duanhua and Tu Han. And otherthrees. Seven in all.

    [about the other book "100 Famous women in China" which is published. readers can check it on http://www.allbook-books.com/html/100_famous_women_in_china.htm]

  7. #47
    Notenough.” said Sushun, “It's better to add someone closer to theemperor in genealogy to make eight counselors.” In old China,family relationship was deemed very important. It was notappropriate and would draw criticisms if no one from the emperor'sfamily was included among the counselors. The best candidate was theemperor's brother-in-law, who was really a good-for-nothing and sowould not dare to stand up against them. They put down his name onthe list.
    Thenthey made another list of names to form a group handling theemperor's funeral. They put Yixin's name on it, but they planned tostate that all those, who were in the capital, though had names onthe list, didn't need to come to the Summer Palace.
    Sushunwent to see the emperor almost everyday. Today, the emperor feltbetter and got up to sit on a chair before the windows. When Sushunsaw him, he said, “Congrats. Emperor will soon be well.”
    Iwish.” said the emperor. Then he bade the eunuchs and maids toleave the room. Sushun knew that the emperor had important things tosay to him. To make it easy for the emperor, Sushun got down on hisknees before the emperor so that the emperor could look at him in acomfortable angle when he spoke. “I know you always respect thequeen.” commenced the emperor, “You must still respect her whenI'm gone.” The emperor stopped to take a breath. Cold sweat brokeout on Sushun's forehead. Did the emperor suspect him of anything? Sushun said, “I'm Queen's slave, too. I'll serve Queen all mylife.”

  8. #48
    Butyou must protect her if any harm will befall her.” said theemperor.
    Sushunheaved a sigh of relief. “I'll defend Queen with my life.” Theemperor nodded his approbation. Sushun thought it's high time tomention the counselor system, but he tried another tactic first. “What shall I do if someone wants to have the empress dowagersystem when Emperor's in Heaven?”
    Nosuch precedent in our dynasty. So no one will suggest it.”
    CanEmperor appoint more courtiers to help Big Brother. I can't help BigBrother alone.”
    Doyou mean counselors?” It was not proper for Sushun to say anythingin affirmative. He just kowtowed on the floor. That was a habitualact of a hint as YES among the courtiers in Qing Dynasty. The emperordidn't say anything and looked tired. Therefore, Sushun begged theemperor to go back on bed.
    Theemperor knew that his days were numbered. He wanted to make somearrangements for his son. He wanted to appoint some counselors tohelp his son, which just fitted the desire of Sushun and hisfollowers. When the emperor asked Sushun who would be better to helphis son, Sushun suggested some names that they had discussed anddecided on before. But not his own name. The emperor just listenedand didn't say anything. Then he bade Sushun to leave and sent forthe queen, who came to sit at the emperor's sick bed, weeping.
    Notime for weeping now, my queen.” The emperor gasped out his words,“Look under my pillow. There's a seal and a written will for you.”
    What'sthe will for?” The queen took out the two things and put them intoher inner pocket.
    IfConcubine Yan does something very wrong and will impair the benefitsof the empire, you can produce this will publicly and execute her.”The voice of the emperor sounded a bit weak.
    Ihope I don't need to use it.” said the good-hearted queen.
    Nowyou can leave and tell Concubine Yan to come.” said the emperor.

  9. #49
    ConcubineYan came and took seat where the queen had sat, weeping too. Theemperor told her to be nice to the queen, and after giving heranother seal, he bade her to go.
    Hefell into a swoon. When he came to, he was served ginseng soup. Itwas said that ginseng could make a person prolong his life on thedeathbed. Then he sent for his son and all the courtiers that hadcome here with him. He encouraged his son to be a good emperor, buthis son was too young to understand what he had said. Then theemperor wanted to write formal wills to be declared after his deathto the entire empire. It's the tradition. But the emperor was toofeeble to write it himself. So one of the courtiers wrote it for himwhile he dictated. The first will said that his son would be theemperor when he died. The gist of the second will was to appointeight courtiers to be counselors to the young emperor, his son. Among them were Sushun, the younger brother, Duanhua, the elderbrother, and Zaihuan, their nephew, who had inherited the title ofprince, though he was older than the brothers. All the eightcounselors were just those Sushun wished and had suggested to theemperor. But many courtiers felt it not fair that the emperor didn'tinclude Yixin, his own brother, as a counselor.
    Itwas said that when the courtier drafted the will, he put in somewords like to help the young emperor to handle the state affairs intothe will, which was later deemed false. Anyway, the wills were readto the late emperor and he didn't say anything, which, in the opinionof the counselors, meant that the late emperor approved them.

  10. #50
    Everyonein the room watched the emperor, who lay there still and motionlessnow. It was dawn. After a long while, Sushun burned a stick ofincense and put it before the emperor's nostrils to see whether hewas breathing. The smoke rose straight in the air, which meant thatno breath came out of the emperor's nose any more. The emperor wasgone to Heavens, as it should be referred to. Everyone in the roombegan to cry loudly in mourning. That was also a tradition.
    Whenthe queen was mourning, her favorite maid brought her a sadinformation that Concubine Li had committed suicide, but didn't die,because the opium she had swallowed was not enough. The queen had tosummon Concubine Li to her presence and consoled her. It was not anunusual event that a concubine wanted to end her own life to followthe emperor to Heavens in the history of China. But Concubine Li hadher own reason for doing so. She was always afraid of Concubine Yan,who, in her opinion, was shrewd and cruel. She feared that sinceConcubine Yan would become an empress dowager she would maltreat hersome day out of old jealousy, which would easily turn into abhorrenceand killing. And it was not unusual that when Concubine Yan wantedto kill her, she would accuse her of something, anything she didn'tdo, which would also impair her good reputation. When she died forthe emperor, she would leave a good reputation behind her.
    Thequeen knew why she wanted to die. So she promised to protect herfrom any potential imaginable harm and bade her to live on. Concubine Li promised to do no more such stupid things.


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