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  1. #71
    Yixinhad had a meeting with three prime ministers, who disliked Sushun andhad great influence among courtiers. They readily gave their supportwhen Yixin made his plan acquainted with them. A prime ministershould often be a scholar, who often had a lot of pupils amongcourtiers, like an old tree with many branches. It was because whenone became a minister he had had chances to be a head examiner ingovernment tests. The testees who passed the test were traditionallydeemed as the pupils of the examiners. And a prime minister waspromoted from a minister.
    Nextday when all the courtiers were in the resting room, the empressdowagers summoned Yixin and those prime ministers and Wenqiang, whowas Yixin's first follower, excluding the counselors, of course. Zaihuan shouted, “The empress dowagers can't summon courtiers. That's against the tradition.” But they ignored him and went to seethe empress dowagers.
    Theempress dowagers told those prime ministers how the counselorsdisobeyed them, even bullied them. Once the counselors had been sofierce that when arguing with the empress dowagers that the youngemperor had been so frightened that he had begun to cry and evenwetted his pants, and also wetted the clothes of East EmpressDowager. The prime ministers were thus instigated and wanted justiceto be done. One of them, Prime Minister Zhou, said in ire, “Whydidn't the empress dowagers punish them?”
    “Theyare counselors appointed by the late emperor. Can counselors bepunished?” asked West Empress Dowager.
    “WhyNot?” said Prime Minister Zhou, “Empress dowagers can issue anorder to deprive them of the title of counselorship first, and thenpunish them.”
    Atthe suggestion, East Empress Dowager turned her back to them and likea magician produced from her inner pocket a small scroll, the orderprewritten on October 21 when still in the Summer Palace. EastEmpress Dowager had hidden it on her person all the way to thecapital. She handed it to Yixin, telling him to read it to thoseprime ministers. Yixin unrolled the scroll open and read it to them.

  2. #72
    Itaccused the counselors, especially the three chief counselors, of thefollowing main crimes: When they assisted the late emperor, theyhandled the state affairs improperly, causing the foreign countriesto invade and the late emperor had to leave the capital; when in theSummer Palace they dissuaded the late emperor from returning to thecapital when peace was restored so that the late emperor's healthdeteriorated and the late emperor died there; they opposed to theempress dowagers to handle the state affairs.
    Eachof the crimes would put the counselors to death sentence, but theorder only declared that the counselors be deprived of the title.That's not enough now, for they could counterattack later. So thesecond order was issued for the arrest of the three chief counselorsand the removal of the other five counselors from office.
    Yixintook the written orders and went back to the resting room with theprime ministers and Wenqiang. When he read the orders, Zaihuanyelled, “We've just arrived, where came the orders?” He meantthat only counselors could issue orders, in the emperor's name ofcourse. He didn't know that anyone could issue orders, once he orshe had powerful support, namely, support of forces.
    Yixinordered the palace guards to tie Zaihuan and Duanhua and put theminto the royal prison, where only high rank courtiers were entitledto be imprisoned. Other five counselors were sent home for furtherorders. It was November 2, 1861.
    Sushunwas still free since he didn't arrive yet. He was on the way. Hemust be in irons and fetters before the news reached him. If he gotthe wind that his partners were in jail, he would either rebel orescape, either of which would be trouble.

  3. #73
    Yihuan,Yixin's brother, was with Sushun. They would stay for the night in asmall town. Yixin dispatched a messenger there with a written orderto take Sushun into custody. The order was delivered to Yihuan, whowas to carry it out. A plan was formed for the arrest. Yihuan sentfor the head bodyguard of Sushun. When he came, Yihuan asked himwhether he would be loyal to the emperor or to Sushun. It was adifficult question to answer, worth careful consideration, and itmeant that something serious happened between Sushun and the emperor,namely, the two empress dowagers. He was given a chance to choosewhich side he would be on since he was Sushun's head bodyguard. Ofcourse, he could not say to Yihuan that he was loyal to Sushun. Onlyone choice left for him. So he vowed his loyalty to the emperor.
    Yihuanordered him to lead the way to Sushun's temporary residence. A groupof soldiers followed Yihuan. When Sushun's other guards saw this,they didn't know what to do as their head guard was among them. Theylooked at the head guard, hoping to see some hint in his eyes, butthe head guard looked down at the ground. So they just let Yihuanand the group of soldiers pass before them. The residence was alreadysurrounded by other soldiers. Most of Sushun's guards were stayingwith the coffin of the late emperor, as if someone wanted to stealthe coffin or the corpse. But in reality, many valuable things werein the coffin to be buried with the late emperor. If anythinghappened to the coffin, even if nothing was stolen, anyone in chargewould be severely punished. So Sushun had sent most of his guardsthere to assure the absolute safety.
    Thesoldiers disarmed all Sushun's guards for assurance that there wouldnot be a riot. When the soldiers broke into his room, he slept withhis two concubines. Sushun was very angry that his slumber wasinterrupted, the soldiers seized him by force. Two soldiers held himin a kneeling pose when Yihuan read him the written order in theyoung emperor's name. It was midnight of the fourth date of theeleventh moon.

  4. #74
    Chapter 17

    Sinceall the counselors were either arrested or removed from office, a newpower center should be established. Yixin gathered his mainfollowers in his residence for a meeting. This time they decidedthat there should be six secretaries in the Bureau. Besides Yixinhimself, Wenqiang, Baojun and the former head clerical official Zaowere all made secretaries. Yixin gave away the positions aspolitical gifts to his followers for their loyalty to him. Yixin'sfather-in-law would be a secretary, too. He was too old to do anyactual duties. He was put there as an adviser. Another secretarywas chosen from courtiers of Han Clan to balance the race proportionin the Bureau. The list was approved by the empress dowagers. Yixinwas made the head secretary. There had been an unspoken bargainbetween Yixin and West Empress Dowager. She made Yixin the headsecretary and Yixin supported the empress dowager system. Powerre-allotted.
    WhenYihuan brought Sushun to the capital, he reported to Yixin how he hadarrested Sushun. Yixin asked him if Sushun had said anything on theway here. Yihuan told his brother that Sushun had said that WestEmpress Dowager was a poisonous snake and would bite anyone anytimewhen she thought it was necessary. Yixin ignored the warning.
    Sushunwas put into the same prison with the other two counselors. Sushunhad advised them to kill the empress dowagers on the way to thecapital, but they didn't follow his advice, being scornful of women.Now the three of them accused one another of being slow in decision,negligent in stratagem and unnecessarily merciful to enemies, but allto no avail. Sushun wanted to send a letter out secretly to hisfaithful followers so that they could think of some way to rescuehim, but no jailer dared to do such a thing. So this cock of hiswouldn't fight. He then planned that if they would try him in acourt, he would plead vehemently and ask for hard evidence to delaythe verdict as long as possible that he might find a way to escape. But that cock of his wouldn't fight, either. They simply didn't tryhim in a court.

  5. #75
    TheSecretarial Bureau had a meeting to discuss what were the offencesthat the three chief counselors had committed. There was no debate,no opposition. No one defended Sushun. They concluded unanimously that there were eight offenses.
    (1)When the late emperor was lying on the deathbed and wanted them todraft a will for the late emperor, they put in some words that werenot what the late emperor meant. And they refused to follow theinstructions of the empress dowagers and did everything, using theirown free will.
    (2)They always said that they were the counselors and could not listento the empress dowagers and that the empress dowagers should not readthe reports.
    (3)They always said that the empress dowagers should not see theprinces, who were the emperor's relatives. They wanted to alienatethem and isolated the empress dowagers.
    (4)Sushun even sat on the throne and used the late emperor's things.
    (5)Sushun refused to give the things that the empress dowagers askedfor.
    (6)Sushun always wanted to estrange one empress dowager from the other.
    (7)When Sushun was under custody, he still said nasty things about theempress dowagers.
    (When Sushun escorted the late emperor's coffin to the capital, helived with his concubines. (It was against the tradition and showedthat he was not in a mourning state of mind.)
    Whenthe accusations were passed in the Secretarial Bureau, Yixin reportedthe result of the meeting to the empress dowagers, who just signed anorder to execute the chief counselors, Sushun, Duanhua and Zaihuan,immediately, without giving them a chance to plead.
    Sushunwas executed publicly and hastily. A courtier was sent to supervisethe execution of Sushun. Sushun would be carried in a wooden cage ona cart drawn by a donkey. The courtier knew if Sushun was aware thathe's going to die, he would use his last strength to resist. Hewould surely be subdued at last, but it was a trouble no one liked. So when he saw Sushun in the prison cell, he lied to him, “They arehaving a meeting and want me to bring you there for theinterrogation.”

  6. #76
    Theytreat me so unfair. I helped the late emperor to handle the stateaffairs in such a difficult time. I must let them know.” Sushuncomplained. So he walked out of the cell and followed the courtier tothe prison gate. But when he was put into the cage on a cart andwent to a different direction, he knew he was trapped. He didn't sayanything then, only closing his eyes. He intended to tell theonlookers what he knew about West Empress Dowager and Yixin before hewas beheaded. Jailers knew that there were three kinds of prisonerswith a death sentence. If a prisoner heard the death sentence andwas scared shit out, it was the first kind and easy to deal with. The second kind was the one, who would cry aloud and stamp feet,hearing the penalty of death, but when his energy was thus exhausted,nothing would happen at the execution site. The last kind was themost difficult to handle. Aware of the death sentence, the prisonerwas very calm and said nothing, then something would surely happenbefore the execution. And Sushun could be classified in the lastcategory.
    Thenews of the execution of Sushun spread out fast. So people throngedto where the execution spot was set. It was always at a spaciousmarket place. All the vendors were cleared and a guillotine was setup. Behind the guillotine was a table, where the courtier would sitto oversee the execution. The place was crowded with onlookers. More people lined on either side along the route the prisoner's cartwas supposed to pass. It was not until noon that the prisoner's cartarrived at the execution spot. There were all sorts of thingscovering the cage, the cart, even on Sushun, from the vegetable bitsto broken eggs, from traces of phlegm to small stones and mud lumps. It was no wonder because all those who hated him came and those wholiked him didn't come. It was customary to behead the prisoner atnoon when the sun was at its brightest. It was superstitiouslybelieved that when the sun was shining overhead, the ghost of theprisoner when escaped from the dead body could do no harm to theexecutioner.

  7. #77
    Notlong after the prisoner arrived, an official came on horseback toannounce the emperor's order of execution. Sushun rejected to kneeland began to say nasty things about West Empress Dowager and Yixin. A jailer slapped hard on his face. Another kicked him behind hisknees so that he went down, but before he could fall on his stomach,the jailer who had kicked him pulled his pigtail to stop his falling,thus making him stay on his knees. Then the executioner cameforward. He didn't bring down the sharp wide-bladed sword likepeople imagined. He aimed the sharp edge of his sword behind theprisoner's neck and pushed very swiftly between two cervicalvertebrae, thus severing the head. At the same time, he kicked thebody down to elude the blood spurting out on his clothes.
    Prisonwas always the worst place in the world. No matter where and when. Once in a prison, whether guilty or not, the prisoner's family mustbribe the jailers, or the prisoner would be ill-treated. Same withthe executioner. He could make the prisoner die fast or die slow.
    Thenanother courtier was dispatched to the prison to announce to Duanhuaand Zaihuan that they were to put an end to their lives with theirown hands. But before he made the announcement, he had a sumptuousmeal ready to give them. The last meal for them. He sat with themand drank with them like an old friend. But at least they knew oneanother since they worked together for the same emperor. After themeal was finished, he made the announcement that they were to endtheir own lives, if necessary, with a little help from jailors. Itwas always like that that they could choose between poisoning orhanging themselves. They were locked separately in a room. In eachroom on a table there were a rope and a cup of wine with poison init. But when neither of them was willing to take his own life, thejailors had to step in to help. They were tied down on a long benchwith a very thin piece of paper over their nose and mouth. Then thejailors sprinkled water on the paper, which stuck on the face toblock the air from going in. They were smothered. It happened onNovember 8.

  8. #78
    Anotherorder was issued that Sushun's estate, including his personalproperties, should be confiscated. Government clerks, headed bySecretary Wenqiang, went to his residences to register all the itemsand moved them into the national treasury.
    Sushunhad two sons. The elder one had been adopted by his brother Duanhua,who had been in the royal prison. Duanhua had no son of his own. Ifhe died and no one inherited his title of prince, the emperor wouldtake back the title. Therefore, Duanhua had adopted his brother,Sushun's, son. Since Duanhua had followed the late emperor to theSummer Palace, the son had been living with his brother in Sushun'sresidence. Secretary Wenqiang knew the situation and sent the twosons to live at Duanhua's place, because this residence would beconfiscated and given to another courtier, who should have made greatcontributions to the empire to deserve it. The sons were allowed totake whatever they liked, besides their personal belongings. Whilethe sons were picking things, some servants and maids also picked upsome valuables furtively and slipped them into their pockets. Eventhe tutor of the sons joined in the stealthy plundering. His servantsand maids were dismissed with some money and their own belongings. His family members were moved to smaller houses with enough means tolive on. This was lenient. The severe one could be that his familymembers became the slaves for heavy toil or even were executedtogether.

  9. #79
    Alot of letters were found in Sushun's study. When Sushun had been inpower, many officials and officers had written to him to vie into hisfavor. Some of his faithful followers had even implied in theirletters that Sushun should have usurped the throne. SecretaryWenqiang knew that these letters were top secrets. If the contentsof these letters were known to the public, it would put thegovernment in a dilemma. So Secretary Wenqiang handled the mattervery carefully. He wrapped up these letters himself into a packageand took it to see Yixin. Yixin called for all the members of theBureau and they discussed how to dispose of them. They thought thatit was impossible to punish everyone who had had correspondence withSushun. It would involve too many courtiers. It would cause greatpanic among courtiers. So the best way was to burn all the lettersas if they never existed. The empress dowagers gave their assent tothe decision. The letters were burned publicly among the courtiers.
    Thenthere was another order for the other five counselors. The lateemperor's brother-in-law was pardoned, because everyone knew he wasinnocent. Others were removed from office and would never beemployed again by the government. One of the other four was banishedto a distant province, because he worked the longest as a secretaryof state, but could not stand up against Sushun.
    WestEmpress Dowager resented Tu Han, also a counselor, who had oftencontradicted her when they had been in the Summer Palace. But shehad to go easy with him, because his father had been the head tutorof the late emperor and East Empress Dowager forgave him on accountof that. So West Empress Dowager couldn't insist on a severepunishment as the late emperor had been her husband, too. The wheelof destiny turns around the human relationship.
    Whena formal statement about who were the new secretaries was made knownto the public, both the courtiers and people at large welcomed it.When the late emperor hadn't appointed his own brother one of thecounselors, many had held the view that it had been unfair and therecent appointment of him as the head secretary was thought of by thepeople as amends. Yihuan, his brother, was now in charge of thegarrison troops of the Forbidden City. It was just the job after hisheart. The dream of his childhood came true now. He had alwayswished to be a general or a commander.

  10. #80
    Chapter 18

    Therewas another tradition that everything the late emperor had used mustbe either given to the courtiers as mementos or burned. So almosteverything was given to certain courtiers, four items each, evenincluding clothes and shoes. A list was made who could be given thelate emperor's things. Some special ones, like Yixin, got more thanfour. But the courtiers, who got the late emperor's things, could notuse them. They should be displayed as an honor from the emperor.
    Thena red-letter day was chosen to carry the late emperor's coffin to histomb and was interred there. It was said that every emperor's tomb,no matter of which dynasty, was always equipped with arrows, swordsand other defensive devices to prevent any unauthorized entry tosteal valuables buried there. And the door into the tomb should bekept as a top secret and the tomb builders who knew the secret wereburied alive in the tomb.
    Fromthe day the late emperor died till the hundredth day, all thecourtiers wore the same white linen mourning clothes. By the end ofthat period, the white clothes looked like dark gray, and shabby. Asshaving was not allowed, the beard and the hair on the front halfpart of the pate were long. The courtiers looked like beggars. Thecustoms of the Mandarin Clan about the hairstyle for a male was thatthe hair on the front half part of the pate should be shaved and theback part be made into a pigtail. When the Mandarin Clan had justentered the territory of the Han Clan, they had forced the Han Clanmale to do the same. If anyone had refused, he would be beheaded,because it meant that he wouldn't accept the reign of the MandarinClan.. The slogan then was “If you want your head, you can't haveyour hair. If you want your hair, you can't have your head.” Sothe first thing every courtier did on the hundred-first day was toshave and change clothes.
    Nowthe young emperor was back in the Forbidden City. The empressdowagers decided to get more tutors for him. Three more tutors wereappointed. All were scholars. The empress dowagers made Prince Weiin charge of the emperor's education. He should manage everythingconcerning the education except teaching. The most difficult taskwas how to discipline the young emperor, who was still a child. Noone should really blame the emperor except for the empress dowagers.So he decided that he would report to the empress dowagers if theyoung emperor really needed to be disciplined. But he could notreport everything trivial, or the empress dowagers would think thathe was a useless old fop. As a tradition, the emperor could havesome boy of his age as a study-mate to have lessons together, even toplay together in recesses. So Prince Wei sent his own son, Yiqiang ,as the study-mate. This was looked upon as an honor, to be able tostudy with the emperor, but the study-mate was really a scapegoat. Whenever the emperor made a mistake, his father, Prince Wei, or eventhe tutors, could scold him, since they couldn't blame the emperor.When the emperor saw that his playmate, as well as study-mate, tookthe blame for him, he would behave better or study harder. But thestudy-mate had an advantage as a scapegoat when the emperor and heboth became adults. The emperor would surely make amends for hisstudy-mate for all the undue censures he had taken for him. Theformer study-mate would get special favors from the emperor.


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