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Hwa tsien ki. The flowery scroll, a Chinese novel online

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wended his way to the place of his studies.

1 !Not have attended to anything but study.



WE have said quite enough about the sorrows
of the student Liang, and ought to be following
the lady beauties, so we will go back to the lady
of the elegant boudoir. For many days she had
lingered in the house of Lady Yao, but so per-
emptory a message had come to summon her
home, that Lady Yao pleaded in vain for a farther
lengthening of her visit. She bade her aunt
farewell, and took her departure. Her parents
lovingly welcomed her back, but she returned
with slow and sad steps to her bed-chamber.
Pi Yue took the keys and opened the orna-
mented door, while Yun Liang rushed forward



and pulled up the green gauze window blinds.
Li Chun brushed away the dust from the toilet.
Kin Lang perfumed the bed furniture from a
censer smoking with burnt frankincense, while
Yu Yen prepared the couch on which their fair
lady was to repose. Ku Ying came with fresh
water from the well. Yu Fa arranged the fra-
grant mountain peonies in their painted vases,
and Yu Ha eagerly desired her young mistress
to tell them all about the beauties she had seen
in the house of the Lady Yao.

" Well ! it is a charming place ! " she an-
swered : " The trees and the flowers in the
garden never lose their fragrance; they smell
sweetly the whole year long. The fish-ponds
are like our own, but the peony thicket is more
shady and cool." Here, Pi Yue broke upon
the conversation. u But it was a troublesome
meeting with the youth that evening. Miss
Ma was there, so I did not tell you all about it.
But when I went to pick up the draughts on the
terrace, I observed that the student Liang had
not returned to his apartment, but was leaning
like a bewildered being on the stone balustrade.
He spoke to me, he told me everything from


the beginning to the end. He made me believe
that from the moment he saw you he had lost
his heart, that you had carried it away, that
his soul would dwell in your boudoir, that he
had no thoughts but about you, and when and
how he could bring about an alliance ? Could
he not follow the example of Liu Lang 1 and
Yun Lang, and make his way to the fairy
land? 1 He rambled into all sorts of strange
stories, but every word betrayed his inner
agitation. It was truly ridiculous. What
business had he to concern himself with another
man's daughter? The world is full of affected
lovers, who are always pouring out their non-
sense into the ears of women, ever prattling of
their woes and desperation; one worse than
another. They swear they are sick at heart,
and want to be cured by some lady physician.
He wearied me to death with his prate, would
persist, in spite of me, with his sobbing and
groaning. He held a flower in his hand, he
let it drop into the water, the stream carried
it away. What had I to do with his lamenta-
tions? "

1 See notes to Chapter VI.


The young lady laughed out heartily. "There
are, indeed, strange creatures in the world.
There always were, and always will be youths
like bees 1 or butterflies fluttering about in the
breeze, and fancying all the flowers belong to
them. Most of them are very wild in their
notions, and cannot see anybody's daughter
without desiring to possess her. But we girls
must be cautious and prudent, and take care
that evil communications do not penetrate into
our apartments. I am here and he is there,
and if he have any thoughts of love, cannot
he find the way to reach me? 3 I have ordered
a scarlet curtain to be placed between the

1 There is a pretty legend, which says : " A youth, while sleeping
was accosted by a maiden, who asked him to accompany her for pro.
tection against some menaced danger, telling him she was a princess
in disguise, but he turned away from her. Soon after, he heard a
hum, and he saw, entangled in the web of a spider, a bee, about to
be devoured. He released the bee, placed it upon the inkstand, when,
from the impression of its feet, it left the character, " Grateful," and
flew away. He followed it with his eyes, and saw it enter a honey-comb
which was suspended above ; the disguised princess was a bee." It
is easy to fancy that the character or sign meaning " Gratitude,"
could be made by the impress of a bee's feet.

2 There is a Chinese proverb which says : " Thousands of miles of
distance will not separate those who are predestinated to meet. But
those who are not predestinated to meet, will not know one another
though brought face to face." All Chinese romance is full of re-


flowers and the moon. The freed butterfly
may fly over the northern wall. 1

ference to the power of destiny, in overcoming every obstacle, and
to the utter hopelessness of pursuing any object against the decrees
of hostile fate. There is a saying, that nothing can prevent the
interchanges of sympathy between lovers predestined to be united.
" When we are unable to stretch our hands to one another, cannot
our thoughts (by mutual understanding) mingle when the cock
crows, when the winds blow, when the rain falls."

1 An ancient legend speaks of a Chinese student who, being
enamoured of a beautiful girl, was informed that his only hope
depended on his obtaining the doctorial degree. He took an apart-
ment outside the western wall of the habitation of his beloved, and
having succeeded, she sent her invitation to him in these words :
" The butterfly may fly over the western wall," and the phrase has
become the recognition of a permission to pay court to a lady.



ENOUGH for the present of the discourses be-
tween the mistresses and their maidens. We
will again join our young, broken-hearted stu-

"I hear that the charmer is departed, I
know why, it was her purpose to tear my
soul in twain. Yes ! she has placed the curtain 1
of separation between us. How can I approach
her? The pathway betwixt earth and heaven is
dark is invisible. Why is my love unrequited ?
Have I burnt unassorted sandal wood sticks at

1 The sedan chairs, in which ladies are carried, hare a red curtain
behind the glass door, which prevents their being seen.


the altar? 1 My sorrow is intolerable. I look
by day, sadly on the jasper clouds, and, by
night, I weep over my silver lamp. Under her
malignant influences my frame is wasting away,
and I have put aside the azure light and the
yellow manuscripts. 2 I dream of her, but only
to have my sleep disturbed, all my purposes
disordered. I rise I dress myself I wander
here and there my troubles always with me,
and comfort nowhere to be found. But I must
discover her abode." He questioned the ser-
vants and the slaves of Lady Yao, and obtained
them all the same answer, " She lives in Tsui
Hien Fung, in the palace of Mr. Fang."

And so he apparelled himself and sought out
the abode of the illustrious gentleman. He
found it, but no sign of woman was there.
The place was extensive, but he discovered no
living being to whom he could address himself.
Was there nobody to whom he could entrust a
letter, to be dropped into the ladies 7 apart-
ments? Having looked about in vain on every
side, he perceived a small, empty house near

1 Neglected my religious duties. The proper selection of sticks to
be burnt at the altar is an important act of worship.

2 Abandoned my studies.


the palace, whose wall it touched. The red
door was closed, and he directed his servant to
make enquiries, who learnt that the house was
for sale, that it was comfortable and spacious,
had a pond and a garden, and that it communi-
cated with the domicile of Yang. The infor-
mation delighted Liang. " Now," thought he,
" I shall be in the way to the palace of the
moon ; now shall I meet the nymph of the en-
chanted mountain; now shall I realize the
dream of Kao Tang." 1

He returned home, and said to his servants :
' Now, if anybody can help me to find access
to the fragrant boudoir, I shall not think ten
pieces of gold too much for a reward." He
called in an architect and ordered him to pre-
pare a commodious apartment for study, a
gardener was sent for to arrange the back gar-
den, and he was specially directed to make a
bank on the western side, and to fill it with the

1 It was in the neighbourhood of Kao Tang that the vision of
celestial beauty appeared to the Emperor Siang (see Note 2 to chapter
vi.) She veiled herself in mystery, and refused to give any other
name than that she was " the morning cloud and the evening rain."
The legend is frequently referred to in Chinese romance; and,
indeed, it is one of the popular stories which pass from mouth to
mouth and from generation to generation.


most beautiful flowers, whose odours should per-
fume the evening air ; a balcony was to be built,
overlooking that side of the parterre whence
the east wind was to bear away, towards the
boudoir, all the fragrance that cultivated nature
could furnish. On the north side he would
have a vernal bower filled with plants, the
rarest and the most admired. A stream was to
flow into the pond, which was to be properly
provided with gold and silver fish. The pond
for the lustrous spangles 1 was to be surrounded
with waving willows, and was to be amply
furnished with lotus flowers, both white and
red. There was to be a Bella Yista pavilion
on the eastern side, with adjacent elms to
shade from the dazzling of the many-coloured
clouds. Red bamboos and peach trees were to
moderate the fury of the winds. Descending
from the vermilion balustrade, there was to be
a richly- scented hall. At the entrance were to
be placed rare and beautiful plants and shrubs,
delicate rock- work, inlaid with flowers, and, to
the south, an arbour of almond trees. Day and
night the workmen were busy in erecting the

1 Gold-fish.


balustrade; grotesquely shaped stones were
gathered and heaped artistically together; little
by little, all was arranged, so as to make a per-
fect picture. Pretty birds and rare animals
were bought, and let loose in the garden. It
was like fairy land. It was the palace of
Kwang Han. 1

1 The palace of love and of chastity, presided over by the goddess
of the moon. A common phrase in China to designate an unhallowed
passion, is to say, "the red dirt is driven towards the palace of
Kwang Han," of which the recondite meaning is, that though such a
passion may put forward the pretexts of purity, there will be no
protection for the woman who is betrayed, for the dirt will not be
allowed to enter the palace.



LIANG took his departure from his aunt's, and
had his luggage conveyed to his new abode, to
which he invited his cousin Yao, whose opinion
about the study arrangements he desired to
learn. " Your uncle," he said, " the Major-
General Yang, lives close by, indeed, there is
only a white wall between his house and my
study. I want to send my card and ask for
an audience. I hope you will accompany me
to his library." " Most willingly," answered
Yao, and they sent forward their cards of an-
nouncement into the Saloon. Yang, having
seen the cards, desired that the two youths


would have the goodness to enter, which they
did, making the becoming prostrations. After
they had partaken of the fine tea 1 which the atten-
dants brought in, the conversation began. Yao
bowed again, and spoke : " Will you graciously

1 Tea is produced in China in qualities as various as the wines of
Europe, and at prices ranging from three pence to three guineas a
pound. In teas of the highest value, every leaf is separately plucked
and manipulated. Sometimes the leaves are impregnated with the
fragrance of odoriferous flowers ; sometimes with the essence of
herbs of medicinal virtues. When the Commissioner Yeh (by the
way, Yeh means Leaf), was our prisoner at Hong Kong, the only
courtesy he consented to receive at our hands, was to provide him
with tobacco and tea of a special character, which lie said he required
for some bodily ailments, and which he enabled us to obtain for him
in a particular quarter. Fine tea is never made in a tea-pot. A small
quantity of the leaves is put into a cup, which is brought to the
guests in an ornamented brass stand of an oblong shape, with curved
or decorated handles at the two ends, and hot water is poured on the
tea, but the cup is immediately covered with a saucer of the size of the
top of the cup,so that none of the fragrance can escape, anditis sucked
through the space left by slightly raising one side of the saucer,
so that while the taste is gratified with the liquid, the smell inhales
the perfumes which, as in the case of the finest wines, are quite as
highly appreciated as is the flavour. Very few teas of the higheet
prices are seen, except as curiosities, in the marts of Europe. The
teas purchased by the Russians for overland carriage by the caravans,
cost on an average in China about three times the prices paid for
the teas ordinarily exported to G-reat Britain and her colonies.
Painted green tea is never used by the Chinese. The colouring is
produced by a mixture of turmeric, Prussian blue, and gypsum,
reduced to an impalpable powder, and sprinkled over the tea, which
during the process, is kept in a state of humidity in hot open iron


listen, honoured uncle? My worthy brother
Liang is my veritable cousin, and his father is
the Imperial Chancellor in Wu Kiang. He
is actively pursuing his studies, and, as he
seeks peace and quiet, he has built himself, on
the other side of your wall, an apartment for
study, where I think of living with him, 1 and

Dr. Bridgman gives the native teas names of the various sorts of
tea best known in the European markets :

Pe Ko, or " white hair." Shang Hiang, or " highly fragrant." Wu
I, or " Wu hills." Hung Mei, or " old man's eyebrows." Lin Tze
Sin, and other names, such as translated, mean " Carnation Hair,"
"Red Plum Blossom," "Lotus Kernel," "Sparrow's Tongue,"
"Fir Leaf Pattern," "Dragon's pellet," "Dragon's Whiskers,"
" Small Plant" (Siao Chung, i.e., Souchong), " Folded Plant" (Pou
Chung or Powchong), "Working Tea" (Kung Fu, i.e., Congo), " Au.
tumn Dew," "Pearl Flower," (Chulan), "Careful Living" (Kan Pi,
i.e., Campoi), " Rains Before" (Yu tsien, Hyson) or " Plum Petals,' '
"Flourish Spring," "Flourish Skin," "Tunkai (Twankay), Yunglo
(Junglo), " Great Pearl," " Pearl Flower," " Skin Tea" and many
more; exhibiting not only the various qualities, but the fanciful
designations appropriated to them.

The natives of the district call their mountains Bu-I (Bohea).
Twankay is the name of a stream (in the province of Che Kiaug,)
on whose borders the tea grows. The Chulan derives its title from
the fragrant flower with which it is scented. Oolong (Wu Lung,
i.e., Black Dragon), is become, of late years, a favourite tree in
foreign markets. See also, Williams' Mid. King, ii. Chap. xlv.

1 Intimate communion and confidence between friends, is laid
down as prominent among the social virtues, and their exercise is
illustrated by much legendary lore. In Mr. Wade's admirable con-
tribution to the study of colloquial Chinese, (Trubner, 1867) he
translates one of the stories, exhibiting " friendship^ as it existed in
the olden time." " Kwan Chung and Pao Shu were walking in the
country. They saw an ingot of gold lying by the road-side. Each


we have desired to see you without delay, that
we might present our respectful compliments."
Upon this, Liang made a smiling, but most
lowly obeisance, and said : " Your humble
neighbour has built a house, upon which he
implores you, condescendingly, to fling your
favouring glance, and if you will honour my
poor person with the benefit of your valued in-
structions, I shall be grateful for the favour to the
very end of my days." The old man answered
smilingly, " Your worthy father was a friend of
mine at the Academy. In our early years we
were like brothers, and went together to our first
examinations. In the year, Lin Mao, 1 your
father's name appeared in the list of " the pro-
wished the other to take possession of it for himself, but as they
were unwilling to do this, they walked on until they met with a labour-
ing man. They told him where he would find the ingot of gold, and ad-
vised him to appropriate it, that there might be no question between
themselves. He hurried forward, but no ingot of gold could he dis-
cover. All that he saw was a snake with two heads. He was exaspe-
rated, and cut the snake in two with his hoe. He hurried towards the
friends, and reproached them for deceiving him. " What ill- will did
you bear towards me, when you told me that a two-headed snake
was an ingot of gold? You have put my very life in peril." They
were incredulous, and went back to the spot, where they saw, not a
two-headed snake, but the ingot of gold, divided into two equal
pieces. Each took his half, and they went their way together,
leaving the labourer to his meditations." The Hundred Lessons,
p. 32.

1 The 28th year of the Cycle of 60.


mo ted," but I failed, my composition was
rejected, so I flung all my books of prose and
poetry into the river, took to riding, archery,
and warlike exercises, and luckily obtained the
highest rank in the military competition, and
was rewarded with an appointment in the army. 3
I was advanced to the grade of Lieutenant-
Colonel, and had the military commandership
of the province of Che Kiang. Your most
illustrious father was made Imperial Chancellor,
and through his influence I was raised to be
Major- General, in the South. This morning,
I have the felicity of welcoming his worthy
son, and I assure him that the friendship exist-
ing between our families shall not be inter-

2 After failures in the literary examinations, it is customary for
the Chinese to enter into the field of military competition, where
distinction is obtained for feats of strength, skill in archery, and
equestrian dexterity. Imperial rewards, such as jasper, jade or agate
rings, which are worn on the thumb to help the management of the
bow, foxes' tails, peacocks' feathers, jackets of silk, and similar
marks of the favour of the Son of Heaven, are given to successful
competitors, whose names are printed, and the lists are eagerly pur-
chased. But though esteemed as an honourable secondary position,
there is a great gulf between literary and military rank. The sage,
or learned man, stands at the top of all social grades. Next to him
follows the agriculturist, while the soldier belongs to the third class.

There is a Chinese axiom which says : " Let the brave soldier have
the costly sword. Rouge and pearl powder belong to the pretty


rupted or forgotten." He ordered a handsome
repast to be prepared in the summer-house. 1
" I must have some private talk with you," he
said. And they rose up, and went into the
garden, and admired the rare plants and flowers,
the graceful bamboos, the silken-leaved willows.
The pond, the summer-house, the pavilion, the
pagoda, the bridges, were all charming. In the
summer-house, Bella Yista, they saw, hang-
ing on the wall, verses, beautifully written on a
flowery scroll, it was the perfection of cali-
graphy. The pencil of a master had painted the
willows overhanging the water; both students
approached, and both read the inscription :

The mournful willows beside the pond,

Tell me who planted tell me who ?
The flying bats flit beyond, beyond,

They trouble the waters in passing through.
But the willows are there with their light blue leaves,
And the men depart who grieves ? who grieves ? 2

The old gentleman laughed aloud as they read
the verses. " Cannot you honour this trash
with a laugh?" he said. " My daughter wrote

1 If you want to find hospitable hosts abroad, receive hospitably,
guests at home. Chinese Proverb.

a In the city of Chang Ngan are many willow trees. Just outside
the gate is the summer-house of the broken willow branches-
When a friend is about to depart on a journey, he is accompanied
thither, and a branch, torn from the willow, is presented to him, to
make his travels auspicious.


them. Are they not errant nonsense? Bad
rhymes Bad rhymes, but fortunately I have
now in my poor garden a talented youth, who
does me the honour of admiring my trees, and
plants and flowers. Will he graciously leave
behind him a memento from his elegant pencil?
Then, indeed, will my poor belongings have an
irresistible attraction." Liang smiled, and an-
swered : "I am but a dolt. I ' have had no
time to study poetry." The old man replied.
" No apology. I know very well that no stu-
dent can write more charmingly than you ! "

1 The odes found in Shi King, one of the most ancient repertories
of poetry, and whose collection is generally attributed to Confucius
have given a character to the productions of all succeeding versifiers.
They consist of national songs, Hymns used at the sacrifices,
many pretty pictures of nature, associated with moral maxims and
out-pourings of passion. Some of the lines contain three words, but
a greater number four. The monosyllabic character of the language,
and consequent paucity of words, provide abundant rhythmical ter-
minations. Here is a specimen, in which a maiden sings of her
absent lover :

The reeds mid rushes are green,

Snow-white the icy hoar,
But who is the wanderer, seen

On the river's farther shore ?
My eyes have followed him,

Where his weary footstep stray,
And I dream in vision dim,

That I see him far away.


He called one of the waiting maids, and said
to her, "The way thro' the garden round that
side of the wall is too long. The ladies' bou-
doir is near at hand. Go there as fast as you
can, and bring some sheets of flowered writing

After pencil and ink had been brought,
Liang took up the pencil, and these were his
secret musings . ' ' My mind is full of perplexity,
and there are no means of communicating with
the boudoir, but wait a thought suggests it-
self I will, in my poem, mourn our separation,
I will try to move the loving affections of
that divine maiden. Perhaps, in her boudoir,
she may learn the state of my heart, how it
longs that she should cross the milky way and
seek the temple of the moon. He endeavoured
to pair the verses of the young lady, and over
the picture of the willow tree wrote :

The willows wave to the winds of spring,
Their branches ruffle the pond below

But can a beautiful living thing,
Behind her crimson portal know

The sorrow and suffering night and day,

Of one who is sighing far away ?

The old gentleman greatly praised the poem,


taking to himself the credit of having suggested
it, and he suspended it on the white wall, by
the side of that of his daughter. Two sheets
of flowery letter paper lay upon the table.
Liang secretly took possession of them, and
said he should go a round-about way home-
ward, as he wished to enjoy the scenery. But
the old veteran insisted that he should first
take a collation in the summer-house. So they
went all together to the Bella Vista, till the
sun's disc told them the evening was come.
Truth to tell, the students got drunk, and
were led staggeringly out at the great door.
The two students separated, after mutual salu-
tations. Yao, to his home, Liang, to his



THE first thing Liang did on entering his
chamber was to open the window and gaze up-
on the bright moon. The goddess was in full
glory. " Here am I alone, weary with the love
of that rosy-cheeked maiden. Six months
have passed since I was parted from her. Her
boudoir near? No! It is as far from me
as heaven from earth. Her crimson door is
barred, and she is invisible. My heart is torn
in pieces with anxiety. My eyes are dim with
overstraining. Could I have foreseen this
this intolerable misery could I have believed
that we were not predestined to one another,


would I ever have plucked the fruit of discord
ever sought to taste anything so bitter?
Cannot I forget this girl? My thoughts are
always wandering, my knees tremble under

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Online LibraryJohn BowringHwa tsien ki. The flowery scroll, a Chinese novel → online text (page 4 of 16)