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Thread: Empress dowager cixi

  1. #31
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    The sons of the emperor were habitually called Brother. If the emperor had quite a few sons, they would be called by seniority as First Brother, Second Brother, etc. If one of them was made the successor to the throne, he would be called Big Brother. It didn't matter if he was the oldest one or not. Now Emperor Xianfeng had only one son. The son would definitely be the successor. So he was called Big Brother. Six years old was the right age to start learning. If the emperor had more than one son, all the sons would form a class to study. But as now Big Brother had no brothers, he himself was the sole pupil in the class. It was very significant to choose suitable tutors for the future emperor, particularly to choose the head tutor, who would greatly influence the young son. He must be a great scholar with a known great character, and no blemishes whatsoever on it. Generally the head tutor was selected from among Zhuangyuans, the winners of all the former tests. At length, the emperor decided on Li Hongzao, who met all the requirements. When the emperor received Li Hongzao, he assigned him with the honorable task. After he left, the emperor wanted to give him some gifts as the tradition demanded. The emperor took up a brush and spread out a piece of paper. As he was about to write down the items, Sushun, standing at the emperor's side at that time, dictated, two scrolls of silk, ten brushes, . . . as if he were the emperor and the emperor were his secretary. When the emperor finished writing, Sushun took the list and went to get the things for Head Tutor Li. But as they were now in the Summer Palace, there were not many courtiers who could be chosen as proper tutors. So for now the boy had only one tutor. When he got back in the Forbidden City, he would have more tutors with Tutor Li as the head tutor.
    Then the emperor sent for his son and told him to study hard and some such things. The boy of six just nodded and blinked. It seemed as if his father's instructions were quite beyond his head. When the boy went to see the queen, she told him simply, ?on't be naughty. Respect and listen to your tutor.The boy replied, ?kay.Early next morning, the eunuch, Zhang Wenliang, who was assigned to look after the boy, woke him up and dressed him formally. He took the boy first to see the emperor, then to see the queen, to let them see if everything about the boy was all right. (Everyone, including the emperor and the queen, went to bed early and rose early by habit.) Then Jingshou, the emperor's brother-in-law, came and took the boy by hand to the study, followed by the eunuch Zhang.
    When they arrived, Tutor Li was already there, standing before the door of the study. As they got in, first, Tutor Li kowtowed to the boy, the future emperor. Then Jingshou told the boy to kowtow to the tutor. (It's the traditional ritual.) But Tutor Li refused to accept it, saying, ? prince can't kowtow to a courtier. (The emperor's son was of course a prince by birth.) At that, Jingshou told the boy to make a bow instead. So the boy bowed to Tutor Li and Tutor Li accepted it. There were two desks in the room, one for the boy and the other for the tutor. Jingshou sat on a chair at one side of the room and several assistant tutors stood in a row at the other side.

  2. #32
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    Both taking the seat, Tutor Li said to the boy, ? made a schedule for you. If you finish it early, you can leave early. Is that all right to you?The boy said, ?kay.Tutor Li said, ?ood. You must come early in the morning, beginning with learning how to use a bow and arrows, then for some Mandarin language. Finally we'll read a book and practice writing Chinese characters.He turned to the assistant tutors, ?ow take him to learn what you'll teach him.”
    The assistant tutors were from the Mandarin Clan. They would teach the boy the archery and the Mandarin language. Though the Mandarin Clan was in a ruling position, they found that if they wanted to rule the big country, the large population of the Han Clan, efficiently, they must learn the Han language?he Chinese language, which was the basic lesson for the children of the Mandarin Clan. The emperor's brother-in-law was in charge of the boy's education as a whole and would watch over every step of the progress. So he went with the boy to see how he would practice the bow and arrows, both of which were particularly made for his small size. After the archery lesson, they came back into the study. Today the brother-in-law wanted to teach the boy the Mandarin language himself. Then Tutor Li took over and began the main course. In the old time, they always taught a book by Confucius. They didn;t even care whether the pupils understood or not. They just made the pupils read the text, learn it by heart and recite it next time when they came. They simply thought that the pupils would understand when they grew up.
    The books, either hand-copied or printed, were difficult to read, because there were no punctuation. The pupils didn't know where to stop for a sentence. The tutor must read to them first to show them where to stop. Then he let the pupils read the texts themselves. It got to be a while to mark the full stops of the sentences. So at first the learning process was slow. On the first day, Tutor Li only taught the boy how to read a couple of sentences and how to write a couple of Chinese characters with a brush. The handling of a brush was also not easy. A pupil must sit straight and hold the brush upright at a distance of a foot and a half right before his nose. He must copy the examples on the tablets written by famous ancient calligraphers. If he aimed to be an excellent calligrapher, he must practice the brush moves with a small cup with water in it put between the thumb and the forefinger of the hand holding the brush. When he moved the brush, the water in the small cup was not allowed to spill. It sounded like an acrobatic. But the son of the emperor was just taught the basic skills, given that he wouldn't be a calligrapher.

  3. #33
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    Chapter 9

    Since Concubine Yan had such a strong desire for power, she must find some allies. At first she sent someone to approach Sushun, but he always despised women. Her sheep's eyes cast to him were ignored. Concubine Yan was greatly disappointed in and even infuriated with him. He got himself a terrible foe without knowing it.
    Then she approached Prince Yixin, the emperor's brother, who was more talented than the emperor. The emperor often feared that his brother would some day usurp his throne. It was all because of Yixin's mother, a royal concubine of the late emperor. The present Emperor was Xianfeng's father. Emperor Xianfeng's mother, the queen, had died not long after his birth. So the late emperor had given him to the care of Yixin's mother. The two children, two years apart, had studied together, played together and grown up together. The relationship between them had been closer than that among other siblings. Emperor Xianfeng was the fourth son of the late emperor and Yixin was the sixth. Among the royal family members, he was called Old Six, but his younger brothers called him Sixth Brother. When the old emperor had died, Emperor Xianfeng had succeeded to the throne. Since Yixin's mother was not the queen, she had been called Royal Concubine Dowager. For several times, Yixin had asked the emperor to confer to his mother the title of the empress dowager, but the emperor had declined, saying that it was against the etiquette rules, though such rules had always been changed throughout history. When Yixin's mother had been seriously sick, the emperor often went to visit her. On her death bed, in her last moments when the emperor went to see her again, she had mistaken him for her own son Yixin. She said, ?ake care of yourself when I'm gone. The throne should have been yours.Hearing those words, the emperor was not happy and from then on he started to estrange Yixin, afraid that his brother would some day usurp his throne. So he always prevented his brother from getting into any power. Being talented, though usurpation never came across his mind, Yixin wished to use his talents to serve the empire, to perform some great deeds. He didn't want to live like a good-for-nothing.
    Now as the empire was facing the danger of further invasion, Yixin was at last appointed in charge of the negotiation with the foreign invaders. After a lot of bargaining, a treaty was signed. Then the invading armies withdrew from the capital. Yixin sent in a report to the emperor, requesting that the emperor return to Peking since peace was restored. But the emperor found an excuse for himself: he was too sick to travel in the cold weather. There was at least some truth in it.

  4. #34
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    The only person Sushun feared was Yixin. He had a finger in the emperor's alienation of his brother. He knew that if the emperor had trusted in Yixin, he wouldn? have had the power as he had now. So a rumor had started to spread that Yixin wanted to usurp the throne. Even another brother of Emperor Xianfeng, the fifth son of the late emperor, believed in it and had mentioned it to Emperor Xianfeng. So every time when Yixin asked to come to the Summer Palace for a visit, the emperor declined, saying that it was more important for Yixin to stay in the capital.
    Now as the rumor about the emperor's health went around, everyone had to take into serious consideration his interests, his future, and his fate. For the officialdom was a dangerous place. The ups and downs, life and death, were determined in just a few moments. Yixin had two faithful followers, like his two hands. Wenqiang was a secretary of state, the only secretary who didn't follow the emperor to the Summer Palace. He wanted to stay in the capital to assist Yixin to deal with the foreign aggressors. Baojun was the other person, who was the head of the Royal Family Affairs Management. But the emperor didn't like him for two things. First, as he was the head of the Royal Family Affairs Management in charge of the imperial residences, he should have sent in a report of self-criticism and asked for punishment when the Round-Bright Garden had been burnt, but he had just handed in a report of statement about the conflagration, nothing else. It was because the emperor had already ordered him to give up the keys to The Round-Bright Garden to another head of the Royal Family Affairs Management. Therefore, he hadn't begged for punishment as he had thought that it was no longer in his responsibility. However, the emperor had given him a demotion. But a while later he had been restored to his former position as Yixin had mentioned to the emperor that he had done something to deserve a reward. A reward could offset a punishment. So he got back to the square he had been in. He was so intimate with Yixin that he could even joke with him. The second reason the emperor disliked him was that as soon as the emperor reached the Summer Palace, he had ordered Baojun to send over two hundred thousand taels of silver for the repair of the Summer Palace, but somehow he hadn't sent the money, or he hadn't had any money on hand at all. Sushun disliked him, too, as he was Yixin's follower.

  5. #35
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    In the Secretarial Bureau, there were clerical officials to help the secretaries with their clerical work, like drafting an order for the emperor, a report to the emperor, a reply to any official or officer who had sent in a report and required a reply, or copying an emperor's order in a formal writing style, then getting it dispatched to anywhere it should go. They couldn't make any decisions, but they had all the inside information. So they were the popular ones in the whole officialdom. The clerical officials were divided into two shifts, because if emergency arose, clerical assistance would be needed even in the midnight. Zao Yueying was the head clerical official in the daytime shift. He was secretly a follower of Yixin. So Yixin knew everything that happened in the Summer Palace.
    Wenqiang was a man of talent and patience. Based on the information sent by Zao, the head clerical official, he made up a strategy for Yixin. Yixin shouldn't do anything obvious yet to rouse the suspicion of Sushun, but he could make any necessary preparations on the sly. The most important thing in the politics, in the power fight, was the support of armies. Sushun had the command of two thousand emperor's bodyguards in the Summer Palace. Yixin should get some commanders of armies on his side. The ideal candidate was Commander Shengbao. When the joint foreign troops had advanced toward Peking, Commander Shengbao had been assigned the task to defend the capital. He had fought a battle against the foreign troops, but had been defeated. Accordingly to the martial law, he would have been severely punished, but as the emperor had already escaped to the Summer Palace and Yixin had been put in charge of all the things in the capital, Commander Shengbao had got away with only a slap on his wrist under Yixin's protection. So he was grateful to Yixin for it. Besides, he hated Sushun for his arrogance and hauteur. Now in Yixin's name, Wenqiang had a letter written to him with a hint of the emperor? health problem and Sushun's avarice for absolute power. The letter served as a red rag to a bull. But Commander Shengbao was a scholar-commander and had brains, though he had also a quick temper. A scholar-commander was originally a scholar, and was later appointed a commander of armies. Commander Shengbao was proud of himself that he could write beautifully and could fight, too.

  6. #36
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    Chapter 10

    What the emperor mostly did in the Summer Palace was to watch performances of Peking Operas, which, when in the Forbidden City, he could do only on certain occasions like for celebration of birthdays or festivals.
    There were three stages in the Summer Palace. The frequently-used one was close to the living quarters of the emperor. The emperor liked to have many people accompanying him when he was watching the operas. The queen didn't like some of the operas, especially the one with a young nun stealing out of the nunnery and a young monk climbing over the wall of the temple. They met at the foot of the mountain and flirted with each other. The queen thought it was against the moral conceptions, but the emperor loved it because it was really fun when the two actors performed the flirting actions in a ridiculous way. (At that time there were no actresses yet. Female parts were acted by actors in female costumes.) At that, the queen kept whispering to herself, ?t's sinful. It's sinful. Pardon us, Buddha. Pardon us, Buddha.”
    But she had her favorite opera, which was acted by young boys about the age of ten. When the performance finished, the chief actor was brought to the queen? presence. The actor kowtowed to the queen, who patted his head and gave him two taels of gold out of her own purse.
    Concubine Yan loved another opera with the owner of an inn and a sick lodger. Since the man lodged in the inn, he had fallen sick and spent all his money on medicine and rent and food. Though he was recovered now, he could not leave the inn without paying the owner for what he owed to him. The owner said all sorts of nasty things about him and to him. He had to swallow the bitter fruit of humiliation. At long last he had to pawn his weapon and sell his horse. He had been on his way to join the army. She thought that Sushun was very much like the inn owner in behavior, always nasty to people.
    The emperor was happy these days, because the military reports said that all the rebellious troops were surrounded and the final victory would soon be due. Besides, it would soon be his birthday. To please the emperor, Sushun was preparing a celebration in the Summer Palace. The celebration would last for three days with the birthday arranged on the second day. The day before the birthday was to warm the celebration so that the next day could get really hot. And the third day was to get things to cool down a little so that everything would be normal again after the three days' celebration. If it weren't for the rebellion in the southern provinces and the foreign invasion, the celebration might last for ten days.

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    On the day before the birthday, only the royal family watched the operas in the daytime and a feast was given in the evening for all to attend, the royal family as well as the courtiers. On the birthday, the emperor got up early. After he had breakfast and was dressed in full, he went to the building where the portraits of his ancestors were hung on the wall opposite the double doors and he kowtowed to the portraits. Then he made his way to another building to receive his male family members and the courtiers. On this formal occasion the emperor went everywhere in a procession. Before the emperor walked two files of bodyguards side by side, carrying yellow flags each with a curved dragon embroidered on them and long-handled weird-shaped weapons reflecting the sunshine, the symbols of power. The emperor sat on a big wide sedan-chair with a yellow canopy over his head to shut out the sun. The sedan-chair was carried by eight eunuchs. After the emperor walked two files of eunuchs carrying all kinds of things the emperor might use, such as clothes to change, towels, teacups, etc. More bodyguards brought up the rear.
    When the emperor reached the building, his family and all the courtiers were already there. They were all dressed in full, wearing the blue gowns with pictures of different birds embroidered on the front and the back of the gowns. The different birds showed different ranks. A rosary of beads was hanging down from the neck, almost reaching the knees. The beads were made from different materials for different ranks, the size between a pigeon's egg and a hen's egg. The hats were decorated on the top with a bead of the same material and the same size. Quite a few courtiers received from the emperor a peacock? tail feather as an honor and ornament, which was stuck in the hole of the bead on their hats.
    All went down on their knees when they heard the emperor? procession coming and prostrated there till the emperor entered the building. Then they followed in. When the emperor settled on his throne, they arranged themselves in an array according to their different ranks, the highest in the front, and kowtowed nine times while shouting in unison, ?ong live the emperor, long live the emperor, long live the emperor!Music was accompanying during the whole ritual. It was almost noon when the ceremony ended. The feast then began with all the dainties available, like the bear? paws, the shark? fins, the swallow's nests and sea cucumbers, etc.
    After the banquet the operas began, which lasted late into the night. Before they left, they were each given a gift. But the emperor didn't stay long with them. He had gone to the back palace, to his queen and concubines with whom the emperor had his feast dinner and watched 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 on the stage, dressed in due costumes. All the actors sang the same words in a chorus to praise the emperor. The accompanying music was loud with gongs and drums. When the opera ended and music stopped, everyone felt the ears were still ringing and the silence was deep in between.

  8. #38
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    During the three feasting days, ignoring the advice of the doctors, the emperor ate too much and got too tired so that on the evening of the last day the emperor felt really sick while watching an opera, which threw everyone in panic. After rest and treatment, he felt a little better. Then came the queen's birthday. The emperor remembered that in 1856, on August 12, it had been the queen's twentieth birthday. By Chinese tradition, every ten-year's birthday is more important and should be celebrated on a larger scale. A grand banquet had been held for it. They both had had a time of their lives. But now as the emperor was sick, the queen didn't want to celebrate her birthday, but the emperor insisted. Therefore, the queen agreed to have it only for one day. On that day, when the celebration began, the queen kowtowed to the emperor for making her the queen. Then the queen sat there and all the concubines came to kowtow to the queen and then all the eunuchs and maids followed suit. All the relatives and courtiers kowtowed outside the queen's chamber. Operas were performed and a feast was given. They ate while watching the operas. Since it was the queen? birthday, the emperor let the queen decide what operas she wanted to watch. All the operas the queen chose were those of moral instructions or of the good being rewarded and the bad being punished. The queen was always deemed as a lady saint in the Forbidden City.

  9. #39
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    The sickness of the emperor became serious. He coughed blood more often. Although Concubine Yan helped him to read the daily reports, he still needed someone else to wait on him, to console him. He sent for Concubine Li. But when Concubine Yan learned it, she was jealous. She could do nothing and say nothing, but the queen could, she thought. How could she talk the queen into interfering with it? She should adopt some kind of ruse, whatever kind of ruse that she should take pains to think of.
    Next day, after a sleepless night with her brain-cudgeling, she went to the queen? chamber. After the ritual of kowtowing on her knees before the queen, she began, "Does Queen know. . ." She trailed off for emphasis.
    "What should I know?" The queen was curious. That's the effect of an incomplete sentence.
    The emperor coughs blood again. She raised her handkerchief to her eyes, making some sort of a sound like sobbing. "I always think that the emperor should have more rest. But how can he when Concubine Li is with him day and night? It hinted that the emperor had sex with Concubine Li, which was not good to the health of the emperor."
    The queen was concerned, too. "Leave that to me." She solaced Concubine Yan. After Concubine Yan left, she sent for Concubine Li, but the queen was a good-for-nothing and she didn't scold Concubine Li as Concubine Yan would have expected.
    "How's the emperor's sickness these days?" She asked Concubine Li.
    "Not good." was the reply.
    "The emperor must have more rest." It meant that Concubine Li should not have sex with him.
    "I know, but how can I reject whatever the emperor wants me to do?" It implied the truth that if the emperor wanted sex with her, how she could refuse.
    Last edited by xlwoo; 10-07-2017 at 08:30 AM.

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    When the emperor had been well and healthy, almost everyday he had given out written orders about this and that, however trivial it was. Now since the emperor was sick, he couldn't have done it everyday. So there were rumors prevalent in the capital about the emperor's health. Some rumors said that the emperor was lingering on his death bed. Some rumors even had it that the emperor was already dead and that Sushun kept it a secret to make his arrangements to seize the power. Rumors were ensued by inflation. The value of currency and the prices of goods were pitching up and down greatly. It was the responsibilities of Sushun who was still the minister of Internal Revenue Ministry after he had been made one of the secretaries of state. Sushun wanted to do something about it. He planned to rectify the four government money shops (i.e. banks) run by the Internal Revenue Ministry and to cast new coins, which should be heavier than the old ones and to issue new money shop notes. Before Sushun had been appointed the minister of the Internal Revenue Ministry, the corruption in the Ministry had been obvious and publicly known. Some officials in the Ministry and some clerks in the money shops worked hand in glove to embezzle money. The minister at that time had been an old man of no ability. Sushun had asked the emperor to remove the old minister and made him the new minister. Then he had made his fame as a man of talent by investigating the embezzlement case. But he couldn't uproot the evil and the corruption was still there. Only the people working there were different. Now Sushun wanted to do it again. But the emperor was so sick that he couldn't get his approval and had to wait.

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    Chapter 11

    The royal doctors diagnosed that the emperor was suffering from a terminal disease, but they could not tell the truth, because no one liked to hear that he would soon die. The emperor was certainly no exception.
    One day after the head royal doctor examined the emperor, the emperor asked him in a weak voice, “How's my sickness?”
    “Not serious.” was the answer.
    “What is my sickness? You have a name for it?”
    “Emperor is too tired, need a lot of rest.” He didn't dare to add, “Have less sex.”
    After he wrote the prescription, he was summoned to the presence of the secretaries of state.
    “What is really the emperor's sickness?” asked Tu Han, one of the secretaries of state, “You must tell us the truth.”
    The head doctor hesitated, but he knew that if he didn't tell the truth and when the emperor died, he would be accused at least of inability to cure the emperor and let the emperor die. So he decided to tell the truth. “The case is hopeless. Tuberculosis.” He confessed.
    “Then, why you said not serious to the emperor? You liar.” A newly-promoted secretary of state shouted at him indignantly.
    “Every doctor says so to his patients.” He pleaded.
    That's another truth. They couldn't blame him for it. So he was dismissed.

  12. #42
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    In the Chinese history, when a new emperor was too young to rule the country, there were two systems to be adopted: the counselor system and the empress dowager system. It meant who would help the young emperor, that is, to make the decisions for him, to give edicts in his name. The counselors or the empress dowager(s)? Sushun wanted the former while Concubine Yan wanted the latter. Sushun called for a secret meeting in his house. Only four people were present, his brother Duanhua, Zaihuan, Tu Han and himself. They were in a pavilion on a tiny island with only a small bridge for the access. No possible eavesdroppers. They even left the windows open so that no one could approach without being seen. They discussed what they should do before the emperor's last moment. Sushun began, ?he last moment for the emperor will soon come. What do we want him to say as his last words?
    “We should make the emperor appoint us to be counselors. But Old Six can't be included.” suggested Zaihuan.
    “Good.” said Sushun, then to Tu Han, “What do you think?”
    Tu Han was a scholar and often had a second thought for everything. He observed, “The appointment of the counselors must come from the emperor. What we do can't be too obvious and incite criticisms.”
    “Don't worry. I'll take care of it.” said Sushun
    “Good. Let's write down the names.” said Duanhua.
    “All the 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 other threes. Seven in all.

    [About the other book I posted here, the "100 Famous Women in China" is published. Congrats to myself. readers here can check it on http://www.allbook-books.com/html/10...n_in_china.htm
    Last edited by xlwoo; 10-12-2017 at 12:05 PM.

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    “Not enough.” said Sushun, “It's better to add someone closer to the emperor in genealogy to make eight counselors.” In old China, family relationship was deemed very important. It was not appropriate and would draw criticisms if no one from the emperor's family was included among the counselors. The best candidate was the emperor's brother-in-law, who was really a good-for-nothing and so would not dare to stand up against them. They put down his name on the list.
    Then they made another list of names to form a group handling the emperor's funeral. They put Yixin's name on it, but they planned to state that all those, who were in the capital, though had names on the list, didn't need to come to the Summer Palace.
    Sushun went to see the emperor almost everyday. Today, the emperor felt better and got up to sit on a chair before the windows. When Sushun saw him, he said, “Congrats. Emperor will soon be well.”
    “I wish.” said the emperor. Then he bade the eunuchs and maids to leave the room. Sushun knew that the emperor had important things to say to him. To make it easy for the emperor, Sushun got down on his knees before the emperor so that the emperor could look at him in a comfortable angle when he spoke. “I know you always respect the queen.” commenced the emperor, “You must still respect her when I'm gone.” The emperor stopped to take a breath. Cold sweat broke out on Sushun's forehead. Did the emperor suspect him of anything? Sushun said, “I'm Queen's slave, too. I'll serve Queen all my life.”

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    “But you must protect her if any harm will befall her.” said the emperor.
    Sushun heaved a sigh of relief. “I'll defend Queen with my life.” The emperor nodded his approbation. Sushun thought it's high time to mention the counselor system, but he tried another tactic first. “What shall I do if someone wants to have the empress dowager system when Emperor's in Heaven?”
    “No such precedent in our dynasty. So no one will suggest it.”
    “Can Emperor appoint more courtiers to help Big Brother. I can't help Big Brother alone.”
    “Do you mean counselors?” It was not proper for Sushun to say anything in affirmative. He just kowtowed on the floor. That was a habitual act of a hint as YES among the courtiers in Qing Dynasty. The emperor didn't say anything and looked tired. Therefore, Sushun begged the emperor to go back on bed.
    The emperor knew that his days were numbered. He wanted to make some arrangements for his son. He wanted to appoint some counselors to help his son, which just fitted the desire of Sushun and his followers. When the emperor asked Sushun who would be better to help his son, Sushun suggested some names that they had discussed and decided on before. But not his own name. The emperor just listened and didn't say anything. Then he bade Sushun to leave and sent for the queen, who came to sit at the emperor's sick bed, weeping.
    “No time 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's the will for?” The queen took out the two things and put them into her inner pocket.
    “If Concubine Yan does something very wrong and will impair the benefits of the empire, you can produce this will publicly and execute her.” The voice of the emperor sounded a bit weak.
    “I hope I don't need to use it.” said the good-hearted queen.
    “Now you can leave and tell Concubine Yan to come.” said the emperor.

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