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Thread: Empress dowager cixi

  1. #346
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    Chapter 42

    When West Empress Dowager was meditating the deposal of Emperor Guangxu, all kinds of surmises appeared on the newspapers in Shanghai. An official, who was taking care of the Telegram Bureau in Shanghai, sensed it and drafted a petition to the effect. He gathered one thousand two hundred and thirty-one signatures on it, including many famous scholars and telegraphed it to the Foreign Affairs Yamen. The officials in that yamen could not conceal it and sent it to the Secretarial Bureau. Ronglu, now the head secretary of the Bureau, took it to West Empress Dowager, who asked Ronglu how to deal with it. Ronglu said that the best way to quench a rumor was to let them know the emperor was still the emperor. So they made a public statement in the name of West Empress Dowager that next year it was the thirtieth birthday of the emperor and a celebration would be held. But they didn't have more money for the ceremony as West Empress Dowager had used up all the possible funds to build her garden. Next day the emperor made another public declaration that since the government was tight with finance, he didn't want the celebration, thanks to his adopted mother. It showed that he was still the emperor. Mother wanted to celebrate the son's birthday and the son refused it owing to the financial difficulties. It painted a picture of a harmonious family.
    But before long another rumor prevailed among people in most provinces that the emperor had escaped from the Forbidden City and was traveling south in disguise.
    Last edited by xlwoo; 02-08-2019 at 10:41 AM.

  2. #347
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    Chapter 42

    When West Empress Dowager was meditating the deposal of Emperor Guangxu, all kinds of surmises appeared on the newspapers in Shanghai. An official, who was taking care of the Telegram Bureau in Shanghai, sensed it and drafted a petition to the effect. He gathered one thousand two hundred and thirty-one signatures on it, including many famous scholars and telegraphed it to the Foreign Affairs Yamen. The officials in that yamen could not conceal it and sent it to the Secretarial Bureau. Ronglu, now the head secretary of the Bureau, took it to West Empress Dowager, who asked Ronglu how to deal with it. Ronglu said that the best way to quench a rumor was to let them know the emperor was still the emperor. So they made a public statement in the name of West Empress Dowager that next year it was the thirtieth birthday of the emperor and a celebration would be held. But they didn't have more money for the ceremony as West Empress Dowager had used up all the possible funds to build her garden. Next day the emperor made another public declaration that since the government was tight with finance, he didn't want the celebration, thanks to his adopted mother. It showed that he was still the emperor. Mother wanted to celebrate the son's birthday and the son refused it owing to the financial difficulties. It painted a picture of a harmonious family.
    But before long another rumor prevailed among people in most provinces that the emperor had escaped from the Forbidden City and was traveling south in disguise.
    Last edited by xlwoo; 02-08-2019 at 10:40 AM.

  3. #348
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    A small group of seven men came to lodge in a temple just outside Qizhen Town in Hubei Province. One looked like the master, a nobleman, dressed in elegance. Another looked like the butler. Four men looked like the servants or bodyguards without uniforms and the last one looked like a cook, shouldering some utensils. They rented an independent housing unit in the backyard with fifty taels of silver as the deposit. The master kept to himself, staying in his room most of the time. The butler was busy, in and out, in and out. The four servants were waiting on the master. The cook went out every morning shopping for food, then came back and did the cooking. The monk, whose duty was to receive visitors, thought that these people were suspicious and reported to the local yamen. Some policemen were sent in plain clothes to watch over them. The policemen even followed the butler and the cook everywhere, but nothing unusual happened. Only this group of people seemed mysterious. So the mayor discussed the matter with his aide. The aide suggested that he should pay a visit to the master to feel the pulse first. The mayor consented. The aide went to the temple and found the monk, who told him that they spoke the Peking dialect and seemed to come from the capital. The butler and the servants acted like serving a prince. The aide asked how the master looked. The answer was lean, pale, about thirty.

  4. #349
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    The aide gave the monk a name card and told him to go and announce his visit to the master. He followed the monk into the backyard. The butler received the monk. When he looked at the name card, he said to the monk, “I don't know him.” The monk said, “His Esquire is an official of this town.” The butler made a gesture like Okay. “I'll see him.” So the aide stepped forward and introduced himself. The butler said, “What can I do for you, Your Esquire?” The aide said, “Let's talk in the room.” He wanted to see the master. As he was about to enter the master's room, the butler blocked his way, saying, “We'd better talk here.” The butler clapped his hands twice. A servant came carrying two chairs. He put the chairs under the eaves outside the windows. “What's your master's name?” The aide inquired. “Tang.” The butler replied curtly.
    “Is he an official? Where did he come from? Where will he go?”
    “Sorry, I can't tell you.”
    “Then, your master must be an imperial envoy in disguise.”
    “Whatever you want to guess.”
    “If your master is an imperial envoy, we local officials must have the responsibility to protect him.”
    “This is not necessary. It would be better if the local officials just pretend to know nothing about us. They will be rewarded later for their silence. We won't stay here long.”

  5. #350
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    The aide gave the monk a name card and told him to go and announce his visit to the master. He followed the monk into the backyard. The butler received the monk. When he looked at the name card, he said to the monk, “I don't know him.” The monk said, “His Esquire is an official of this town.” The butler made a gesture like Okay. “I'll see him.” So the aide stepped forward and introduced himself. The butler said, “What can I do for you, Your Esquire?” The aide said, “Let's talk in the room.” He wanted to see the master. As he was about to enter the master's room, the butler blocked his way, saying, “We'd better talk here.” The butler clapped his hands twice. A servant came carrying two chairs. He put the chairs under the eaves outside the windows. “What's your master's name?” The aide inquired. “Tang.” The butler replied curtly.
    “Is he an official? Where did he come from? Where will he go?”
    “Sorry, I can't tell you.”
    “Then, your master must be an imperial envoy in disguise.”
    “Whatever you want to guess.”
    “If your master is an imperial envoy, we local officials must have the responsibility to protect him.”
    “This is not necessary. It would be better if the local officials just pretend to know nothing about us. They will be rewarded later for their silence. We won't stay here long.”

  6. #351
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    The aide had to leave. He reported to the mayor. The mayor sent for one of his advisers. This adviser was known to be informative and knowledgeable. He analyzed that before any imperial envoy left the capital, the message would appear on the official newsletter from the capital. Since there was not such a message on the most recent newsletter, the master could not be an imperial envoy. Besides, in general, an imperial envoy would be much older. Then he consulted himself in a stage whisper, If the rumor is true, could he be the emperor escaped south?” The mayor was shocked to hear it. He asked, “What did you say?” The adviser said that the matter was very subtle, very delicate, must be handled very carefully. If the rumor was true, what should they do? If the rumor was false, they would surely arrest him. But how could they know if it was true or false? The mayor decided to visit the master himself. But the adviser got a better idea.
    One day when the cook went to buy some meat in a market place, someone caused a fight with him and he was taken to the local yamen. The mayor didn't ask him anything about the fight.
    “Who is your master?” The mayor queried.
    “I don't know.” The cook said in a quivering voice. He was nervous and frightened.
    “It's impossible you don't know for whom you work.” The mayor didn't believe him.
    “I really don't know. The butler arranges everything and gives orders.”
    “Have you seen your master? Don't say you're never seen him.”
    “Yes. He's thin, pale, early thirties, quiet. He's never spoken to me.”
    “Is there anything unusual about your master? You can take time to think.”
    The cook considered for a while. “He gets up very early, has lunch at noon and dinner at six in the evening.” That was just like the schedule in the Forbidden City.
    “Anything else special?” The mayor asked hopefully.
    “My master is afraid of thunder. During a thunderstorm, the butler and the servants are always with him.” All the courtiers knew that the emperor was afraid of thunderclaps because the eunuchs talked a lot about it. Since nothing more could be squeezed out of the cook, he was let go with a warning that he shouldn't speak to anyone about the event of today.
    Still they were not sure who the master was. So the mayor went to see him with some policemen, all in plain clothes. Their strategy was that if he was an impostor, they would take him into custody right away. If he was really the escaped emperor, they would pretend that they didn't know anything about the emperor escaped and went back for a discussion what they should do next. If they couldn't make sure, that was the problem.
    This time since the mayor came himself, the master received him. “Where do you come from?” The mayor inquired like a routine patrol policeman asking a lodger in an inn.
    “The capital.” His voice was low like having a sore throat.
    “In which yamen do you work?”
    “The Royal Family Affairs Management.”
    “You have any official business down here?”
    “Sure.” The butler stood beside the master all the time.
    “What's your business?”
    “Can't tell.” He cast a glimpse at the butler.
    “Will you go further south?”
    “Sure.”
    “Do you have any official traveling documents?”
    “Can't let you see.”
    So what else could the mayor say? He returned to his yamen for consultation. The mayor said, “I think he is an impostor.”

  7. #352
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    “An impostor for what?The aide wanted to know.
    “He didn't say he's the emperor. How could he be an impostor?” said the adviser.
    “I'll take full responsibilities if anything happens to show I am wrong.” The mayor persisted. The aide and the adviser had to obey him. They laid out the ploy in details. They would invite him to stay in the yamen, even by force if necessary. He must be under their control first. Then the mayor would report to the governor. If it turned out that he was really the emperor, they could say that they wanted to protect him. If he was not, he would go to jail, which was very close, just in the yamen.
    Next day the mayor sent some policemen to escort the master, the butler, the servants and even the cook into the yamen and confined them. Then at the command from the governor, they escorted the group to Wuchang City where the governor had his yamen and the group was confined there. The mayor thought that as the governor had had an interview with West Empress Dowager and the emperor, he should recognize the emperor. But the problem was that even the governor could not tell if he was the emperor or not, because during the interview the governor had prostrated before West Empress Dowager and the emperor and didn't dare to look up. Their last resort was to send someone to the capital to glean the information about the emperor. The man the governor had sent was smart. He went to some tea houses where the eunuchs would gather after their duties. He got acquainted with some of the eunuchs and treated them with food and drink. He learned at length that the emperor was still confined in the Forbidden City.
    When the man brought back the message, the governor accused Yang, the master, of the impersonation of the emperor. The master pleaded that he had never said that he was the emperor. Only the mayor had thought him to be the emperor. The master was really innocent. But no, he was guilty of what the mayor had originally mistaken him to be. The governor knew that such a case would please West Empress Dowager. That was what really mattered to him. So all the seven people were executed. They would eventually die even if they could live up to the age of one hundred years. Therefore, why not let them die earlier to please West Empress Dowager?

  8. #353
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    “An impostor for what?The aide wanted to know.
    “He didn't say he's the emperor. How could he be an impostor?” said the adviser.
    “I'll take full responsibilities if anything happens to show I am wrong.” The mayor persisted. The aide and the adviser had to obey him. They laid out the ploy in details. They would invite him to stay in the yamen, even by force if necessary. He must be under their control first. Then the mayor would report to the governor. If it turned out that he was really the emperor, they could say that they wanted to protect him. If he was not, he would go to jail, which was very close, just in the yamen.
    Next day the mayor sent some policemen to escort the master, the butler, the servants and even the cook into the yamen and confined them. Then at the command from the governor, they escorted the group to Wuchang City where the governor had his yamen and the group was confined there. The mayor thought that as the governor had had an interview with West Empress Dowager and the emperor, he should recognize the emperor. But the problem was that even the governor could not tell if he was the emperor or not, because during the interview the governor had prostrated before West Empress Dowager and the emperor and didn't dare to look up. Their last resort was to send someone to the capital to glean the information about the emperor. The man the governor had sent was smart. He went to some tea houses where the eunuchs would gather after their duties. He got acquainted with some of the eunuchs and treated them with food and drink. He learned at length that the emperor was still confined in the Forbidden City.
    When the man brought back the message, the governor accused Yang, the master, of the impersonation of the emperor. The master pleaded that he had never said that he was the emperor. Only the mayor had thought him to be the emperor. The master was really innocent. But no, he was guilty of what the mayor had originally mistaken him to be. The governor knew that such a case would please West Empress Dowager. That was what really mattered to him. So all the seven people were executed. They would eventually die even if they could live up to the age of one hundred years. Therefore, why not let them die earlier to please West Empress Dowager?

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