And as she gave vent to these feelings, she took Tai-yü‘s hand in

And as she gave vent to these feelings, she took Tai-yü‘s hand in hers, and again gave way to sobs; and it was only after the

members of the family had quickly made use of much exhortation and coaxing, that they succeeded, little by little, in stopping her tears.

They all perceived that Tai-yü, despite her youthful years and appearance, was lady-like in her deportment and address, and that though with her delicate figure and countenance, (she seemed as if) unable to bear the very weight of her

clothes, she possessed, however, a certain captivating air. And as they readily noticed the symptoms of a weak constitution, they went on in consequence to

make inquiries as to what medicines she ordinarily took, and how it was that her complaint had not been cured.

“I have,” explained Tai-yü, “been in this state ever since I was born; though I’ve taken medicines from the very time I was able to eat

rice, up to the present, and have been treated by ever so many

doctors of note, I’ve not derived any benefit. In the year when I was yet only three, I remember a mangy-headed bonze coming to our

house, and saying that he would take me along, and make a nun of me; but my father and mother would, on no account, give their consent. ‘As you cannot bear to part from her and to give her up,’ he then remarked, ‘her ailment will, I fear, never, throughout her life, be

cured. If you wish to see her all right, it is only to be done by not letting her, from this day forward, on any account, listen to the sound

of weeping, or see, with the exception of her parents, any relatives outside the family circle. Then alone will she be able to go through

this existence in peace and in quiet.’ No one heeded the nonsensical talk of this raving priest; but here am I, up to this very day, dosing myself with ginseng pills as a tonic.”

“What a lucky coincidence!”

interposed dowager lady Chia;

“some of these pills are being compounded here,

and I’ll simply tell them to have an extra supply made; that’s all.”

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Tai-yü bowed to each one of them (with folded arms).

Tai-yü bowed to each one of them (with folded arms).

“Ask the young ladies in,” dowager lady Chia went on to say; “tell them a guest from afar has just arrived, one who comes for the first time; and that they may not go to their lessons.”

The servants with one voice signified their obedience, and two of them speedily went to carry out her orders.

Not long after three nurses and five or six waiting-maids were seen ushering in three young ladies. The first was somewhat plump in figure and of medium height; her cheeks had a congealed appearance, like a fresh lichee; her nose was glossy like goose fat. She was gracious, demure, and lovable to look at.

The second had sloping shoulders, and a slim waist. Tall and slender was she in stature, with a face like the egg of a goose. Her eyes so beautiful, with their well-curved eyebrows, possessed in their gaze a bewitching flash. At the very sight of her refined and elegant manners all idea of vulgarity was forgotten.

The third was below the medium size, and her mien was, as yet, childlike.

In their head ornaments, jewelry, and dress, the get-up of the three young ladies was identical.

Tai-yü speedily rose to greet them and to exchange salutations. After they had made each other’s acquaintance, they all took a seat, whereupon the servants brought the tea. Their conversation was confined to Tai-yü‘s mother,— how she had fallen ill, what doctors had attended her, what medicines had been given her, and how she had been buried and mourned; and dowager lady Chia was naturally again in great anguish.

“Of all my daughters,” she remarked,

“your mother was the one I loved best, and now in a twinkle,

she has passed away, before me too,

and I’ve not been able to so much as see her face.

How can this not make my heart sore-stricken?”

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Lin Tai-yü entered the door with the creepers, resting on the hand of

Lin Tai-yü entered the door with the creepers, resting on the hand of a matron.

On both sides was a verandah, like two outstretched arms. An Entrance Hall stood in the centre, in the middle of which was a door-screen of Ta Li marble, set in an ebony frame. On the other side of this screen were three very small halls. At the back of these came at once an extensive courtyard, belonging to the main building.

In the front part were five parlours, the frieze of the ceiling of which was all carved, and the pillars ornamented. On either side, were covered avenues, resembling passages through a rock. In the side-rooms were suspended cages, full of parrots of every colour, thrushes, and birds of every description.

On the terrace-steps, sat several waiting maids, dressed in red and green, and the whole company of them advanced, with beaming faces, to greet them, when they saw the party approach. “Her venerable ladyship,” they said, “was at this very moment thinking of you, miss, and, by a strange coincidence, here you are.”

Three or four of them forthwith vied with each other in raising the door curtain, while at the same time was heard some one announce: “Miss Lin has arrived.”

No sooner had she entered the room, than she espied two servants supporting a venerable lady, with silver-white hair, coming forward to greet her. Convinced that this lady must be her grandmother, she was about to prostrate herself and pay her obeisance, when she was quickly clasped in the arms of her grandmother, who held her close against her bosom; and as she called her “my liver! my flesh!” (my love! my darling!) she began to sob aloud.

The bystanders too, at once, without one exception, melted into tears; and Tai-yü herself found some difficulty in restraining her sobs. Little by little the whole party succeeded in consoling her, and Tai-yü at length paid her obeisance to her grandmother. Her ladyship thereupon pointed them out one by one to Tai-yü. “This,” she said, “is the wife of your uncle,

your mother’s elder brother;

this is the wife of your uncle, her second brother;

and this is your eldest sister-in-law Chu,

the wife of your senior cousin Chu.”

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From the moment she got into the chair, and they had entered

From the moment she got into the chair, and they had entered within the city walls, she found, as she looked around, through the gauze window, at the bustle in the streets and public places and at the immense concourse of people, everything naturally so unlike what she had seen elsewhere.

After they had also been a considerable time on the way, she suddenly caught sight, at the northern end of the street, of two

huge squatting lions of marble and of three lofty gates with (knockers representing) the heads of animals. In front of these

gates, sat, in a row, about ten men in coloured hats and fine attire. The main gate was not open. It was only through the side

gates, on the east and west, that people went in and came out. Above the centre gate was a tablet. On this tablet were inscribed

in five large characters —“The Ning Kuo mansion erected by imperial command.”

“This must be grandmother’s eldest son’s residence,” reflected Tai-yü.

Towards the east, again, at no great distance, were three more high gateways,

likewise of the same kind as those she had just seen. This was the Jung Kuo mansion.

They did not however go in by the main gate; but simply made their entrance through the east side door.

With the sedans on their shoulders, (the bearers) proceeded about the distance of the throw of an arrow, when upon turning a corner, they hastily put down the

chairs. The matrons, who came behind, one and all also dismounted. (The bearers) were changed for four youths of seventeen or eighteen, with hats and

clothes without a blemish, and while they carried the chair, the whole bevy of matrons followed on foot.

When they reached a creeper-laden gate,

the sedan was put down, and all the youths stepped back and retired.

The matrons came forward, raised the screen,

and supported Tai-yü to descend from the chair.

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By a certain day, they reached Ching Tu; and Yü-ts’un

By a certain day, they reached Ching Tu; and Yü-ts’un, after first adjusting his hat and clothes, came, attended by a youth, to the

door of the Jung mansion, and sent in a card, which showed his lineage.

Chia Cheng had, by this time, perused his brother-in-law’s letter, and he speedily

asked him to walk in. When they met, he found in Yü-ts’un an imposing manner and polite address.

This Chia Cheng had, in fact, a great penchant above all things for men of education, men courteous to the talented,

respectful to

the learned, ready to lend a helping hand to the needy and to succour the distressed, and was, to a great extent, like his

y his brother-in-law, he therefore treated Yü-ts’un with a consideration still more unusual, and readily strained all his resources to assist him.

On the very day on which the memorial was submitted to the Throne, he obtained by his efforts, a reinstatement to office, and

before the expiry of two months, Yü-t’sun was forthwith selected to fill the appointment of prefect of Ying T’ien in Chin Ling. Taking

leave of Chia Cheng, he chose a

propitious day, and proceeded to his post, where we will leave him without further notice for the present.

But to return to Tai-yü. On the day on which she left the boat, and the moment she put her foot on shore,

there were forthwith at her

disposal chairs for her own use,

and carts for the luggage, sent over from the Jung mansion.

Lin Tai-yü had often heard her mother recount how different was her

grandmother’s house from that of other people’s; and having seen for herself how

above the common run were already the attendants of the three grades, (sent to

wait upon her,) in attire, in their fare, in all their articles of use,

“how much more,” (she thought to herself) “now that I am going to her home,

must I be careful at

every step, and circumspect at every moment!

Nor must I utter one word too many, nor make one step more than is

proper, for fear lest I should be ridiculed by any of them!”

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When Yü-ts’un heard these remarks, he at length credited

When Yü-ts’un heard these remarks, he at length credited what had been told him by Tzu-hsing the day before, and he lost no time in again expressing his sense of gratitude to Lin Ju-hai.

Ju-hai resumed the conversation.

“I have fixed,” (he explained,) “upon the second of next month, for my young daughter’s departure for the capital, and, if you, brother mine, were to travel along with her, would it not be an advantage to herself, as well as to yourself?”

Yü-ts’un signified his acquiescence as he listened to his proposal; feeling in his inner self extremely elated.

Ju-hai availed himself of the earliest opportunity to get ready the presents (for the capital) and all the requirements for the journey, which (when completed,) Yü-ts’un took over one by one. His

pupil could not, at first, brook the idea, of a separation from her father, but the pressing wishes of her grandmother left her no course (but to comply).

“Your father,” Ju-hai furthermore argued with her, “is already fifty; and I entertain no wish to marry again; and then you are always

ailing; besides, with your extreme youth, you have, above, no mother of your own to take care of you, and below, no sisters to

attend to you. If you now go and have your maternal grandmother, as well as your mother’s brothers and your cousins to depend upon, you will be doing the best thing to reduce the

anxiety which I feel in my heart on your behalf. Why then should you not go?”

Tai-yü, after listening to what her father had to say, parted from him in a flood of tears and followed her nurse and several old matrons from the Jung mansion on board her boat,

and set out on her journey.

Yü-ts’un had a boat to himself,

and with two youths to wait on him,

he prosecuted his voyage in the wake of Tai-yü.

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“Providence and good fortune are both alike propitious!”

“Providence and good fortune are both alike propitious!” exclaimed Ju-hai. “After the death of my wife, my mother-in-law, whose residence is in the capital, was so

very solicitous on my daughter’s account, for having no one to depend upon, that she despatched, at an early period, boats with men and women servants to come and fetch her. But my child was at the time not quite over her illness, and that is

why she has not yet started. I was, this very moment, cogitating to send my daughter to the capital. And in view of the obligation, under which I am to you for the instruction you have heretofore conferred upon her, remaining as yet

unrequited, there is no reason why, when such an opportunity as this presents itself, I should not do my utmost to find means to make proper acknowledgment. I

have already, in anticipation, given the matter my attention, and written a letter of recommendation to my brother-in-law, urging him to put everything right for you,

in order that I may, to a certain extent, be able to give effect to my modest wishes. As for any outlay that may prove necessary, I have given proper explanation, in

the letter to my brother-in-law, so that you, my brother, need not trouble yourself by giving way to much anxiety.”

As Yü-ts’un bowed and expressed his appreciation in most profuse language,—

“Pray,” he asked, “where does your honoured brother-in-law reside? and what is his official capacity? But I fear I’m too coarse in my manner, and could not presume to obtrude myself in his presence.”

Ju-hai smiled. “And yet,” he remarked, “this brother-in-law of mine is after all of one and the same family as your worthy self, for he is the grandson of the Duke

Jung. My elder brother-in-law has now inherited the status of Captain-General of the first grade. His name is She, his style Ngen-hou. My second brother-in-law’s name is Cheng, his style is Tzu-chou. His present post is that of a Second class

Secretary in the Board of Works. He is modest and kindhearted, and has much in him of the habits of his grandfather; not one of that purse-proud and haughty kind

of men.

That is why I have written to him and made the request on your behalf.

Were he different to what he really is,

not only would he cast a slur upon your honest purpose, honourable brother,

but I myself likewise would not have been as prompt in taking action.”

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Lin Ju-hai appeals to his brother-in-law, Chia Cheng,

Lin Ju-hai appeals to his brother-in-law, Chia Cheng, recommending Yü-ts’un, his daughter’s tutor, to his consideration — Dowager lady Chia sends to fetch her granddaughter, out of commiseration for her being a motherless child.

But to proceed with our narrative.

Yü-ts’un, on speedily turning round, perceived that the speaker was no other than a certain Chang Ju-kuei, an old colleague of his, who had been denounced and deprived of office, on account of some case or other; a native of that district, who had, since his degradation, resided in his family home.

Having lately come to hear the news that a memorial, presented in the capital, that the former officers (who had been cashiered)

should be reinstated, had received the imperial consent, he had promptly done all he could, in every nook and corner, to obtain

influence, and to find the means (of righting his position,) when he, unexpectedly, came across Yü-ts’un, to whom he therefore

lost no time in offering his congratulations. The two friends exchanged the conventional salutations, and Chang Ju-kuei forthwith communicated the tidings to Yü-ts’un.

Yü-ts’un was delighted, but after he had made a few remarks, in a great hurry, each took his leave and sped on his own way homewards.

Leng Tzu-hsing, upon hearing this conversation, hastened at once to propose a plan, advising Yü-ts’un to request Lin Ju-hai,

in his turn, to appeal in the capital to Mr. Chia Cheng for support.

Yü-ts’un accepted the suggestion, and parted from his companion.

On his return to his quarters,

he made all haste to lay his hand on the Metropolitan Gazette,

and having ascertained that the news was authentic,

he had on the next day a personal consultation with Ju-hai.

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After hearing these remarks Yü-ts’un smiled

After hearing these remarks Yü-ts’un smiled. “You now perceive,” he said, “that my argument is no fallacy, and that the several persons about whom you and I

have just been talking are, we may presume, human beings, who, one and all, have been generated by the spirit of right, and the spirit of evil, and come to life by the same royal road; but of course there’s no saying.”

“Enough,” cried Tzu-hsing, “of right and enough of evil; we’ve been doing nothing but settling other people’s accounts; come now, have another glass, and you’ll be the better for it!”

“While bent upon talking,” Yü-ts’un explained, “I’ve had more glasses than is good for me.”

“Speaking of irrelevant matters about other people,” Tzu-hsing rejoined complacently, “is quite the thing to help us swallow our wine; so come now; what harm will happen, if we do have a few glasses more.”

Yü-ts’un thereupon looked out of the window.

“The day is also far advanced,” he remarked, “and if we don’t take care, the gates will be closing; let us leisurely enter the city, and as we go along, there will be nothing to prevent us from continuing our chat.”

Forthwith the two friends rose from their seats, settled and paid their wine bill, and were just going, when they unexpectedly heard some one from behind say with a loud voice:

“Accept my congratulations, Brother Yü-ts’un; I’ve now come,

with the express purpose of giving you the welcome news!”

Yü-ts’un lost no time in turning his head round to look at the speaker.

But reader, if you wish to learn who the man was,

listen to the details given in the following chapter.

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Tzu-hsing heaved a sigh. “Of three elderly sisters

Tzu-hsing heaved a sigh. “Of three elderly sisters,” he explained, “this one was the youngest, and she too is gone! Of the sisters of the senior generation not one even survives! But now we’ll see what the husbands of this younger generation will be like by and bye!”

“Yes,” replied Yü-ts’un. “But some while back you mentioned that Mr. Cheng has had a son, born with a piece of jade in his mouth, and that he has besides a

tender-aged grandson left by his eldest son; but is it likely that this Mr. She has not, himself, as yet, had any male issue?”

“After Mr. Cheng had this son with the jade,” Tzu-hsing added, “his handmaid gave birth to another son, who whether he be good or bad, I don’t at all know. At

all events, he has by his side two sons and a grandson, but what these will grow up to be by and bye, I cannot tell. As regards Mr. Chia She, he too has had two

sons; the second of whom, Chia Lien, is by this time about twenty. He took to wife

a relative of his, a niece of Mr. Cheng’s wife, a Miss Wang, and has now been married for the last two years. This Mr. Lien has lately obtained by purchase the

rank of sub-prefect. He too takes little pleasure in books, but as far as worldly

affairs go, he is so versatile and glib of tongue, that he has recently taken up his quarters with his uncle Mr. Cheng, to whom he gives a helping hand in the

management of domestic matters. Who would have thought it, however, ever since his marriage with his worthy wife, not a single person, whether high or low,

has there been who has not looked up to her with regard: with the result that Mr. Lien himself has, in fact, had to take a back seat (lit. withdrew 35 li). In looks,

she is also so extremely beautiful,

in speech so extremely quick and fluent,

in ingenuity so deep and astute, that even a man could,

in no way, come up to her mark.”

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