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IT was now a month that Kwo-khé-tzu had sent his present; when having fitted up his house and prepared every thing for his marriage, he chose a fortunate day, and sent to acquaint Shuey-guwin that he should come on the morrow to fetch home his bride. A piece of news, which the latter received with much satisfaction. He went immediately to inform his niece of it, and desired her to make all suitable preparations. "I have no need, said she, to prepare any thing about me, otherwise than it is." "Ah! ah! said he, you are merry; you know better: you do but jest with me." When he came home, he told his family, that he believed his niece had lost her senses: "She talks of making no preparation for her wedding. 'Tis very whimsical; but perhaps it is only talk: she will doubtless to-night comply with custom and get things in order. Early to-morrow I will go again and see what she has done."

The next day Kwo-khé-tzu, according to his promise, sent his gilded chair, his trumpets and music, with a long train of attendants, all in great magnificence and order, to the house of Shuey-guwin. He immediately run to his niece to tell her to get ready, for that the chair was come for her. "What is it you would have me get ready, replied she hastily? Am I not well enough as I am?" "Are you so ignorant, said he, as not to know what you ought to do? Has not the bridegroom sent his chair for you? He is also coming to conduct you himself[52] . Does not he not shew you great honour and respect? Why then do you talk at this ridiculous rate?" "What is all that to me, replied the young Lady? I have nothing to say to it, it only relates to my[53] sister your daughter." Shuey-guwin in the greatest consternation at these words, was not able to speak for some time: at last he said; "Is it not for your sake that this young gentleman hath taken so much pains, and put himself to all this trouble and expence? Whom then does he come for? My daughter, do you say, that is as ugly as an evil genius or demon[54] , in comparison of you? no such thing." "My father, answered the young lady, is in disgrace; he is banished afar off, and has committed all he has here to my care: in this situation, how can I marry?" "Nay, said he in deep concern, if you are not disposed to marry, who will go about to force you? But why then did you give me your eight letters of Nean-kung?" "Uncle, said she, you was then asleep, and are not yet awake. I should be a fool indeed to give you any such writing while I was averse to marriage." "What, said he, did not I procure you the coloured paper? and did not you yourself write upon it?" "If it was so, she replied, let me see it."

Shuey-guwin hasted home: "My niece, said he to his sons and daughter, refuses to marry Kwo-khé-tzu; and denies that the Nean-kung was of her writing." Then he took the paper[55] and went to her house. "Here! said he holding it out, will you deny this to be your own hand-writing?" "I acknowledge the writing, replied she: I deny it not: but if the eight letters are found to be mine, I'll be content to marry. Pray uncle, do you know when I was born?" "Doubtless, said he, I do: you were born on the fifteenth day of the eighth moon, at ten o'clock: I remember it perfectly well; it was a feast day, and I was making merry with your father." "Very well, Sir, said she; and when was my cousin Ghiang-koo born, your daughter?" "I must certainly, said he, be well acquainted with my daughter's birth: it was on the sixth day of the sixth moon, in the middle of the day." "Pray, Sir, then, proceeded she, when you took the paper with you, did not you observe the eight letters written upon it: they are as follows;"—here she repeated them — "The writing, you see, relates to your daughter; I am no way concerned in it: why then do you give me so much trouble and perplexity?"

Shuey-guwin at this was greatly disturbed, "However, it is sufficient, he cried out in a rage; I saw you write it, and it matters not in what manner it was done." Seeing him begin to make a disturbance, she said to him calmly; "Sir, you must not be so warm: pray go and consult one that can divine[56] , and let him see whether those eight letters belong to me or your daughter." She argued in vain, he became still more angry and began to rave and stamp with his feet; saying that she only sought to do him prejudice. "However, said he, it is no matter; you cannot hurt me; truth is truth. Both the Che-foo and Che-hien solicited your consent: the whole city knows of the young gentleman's present. How then can you say it is no concern of yours? you are extremely blameable." "If it was me, whom Kwo-khé-tzu designed to marry, she replied, why did not he order his present to be brought to me here at my own house? The Tieh-tse and letter of compliments, run in your name: and therein you only speak of your daughter; there is not the least mention of me." "How can you thus embroil the matter, said her uncle? the letter relates alone to you, and the form of it was agreed on between us." "If you had no daughter, resumed she, then you might have bestowed that title upon me without reserve: it is not unusual, it is true, to reckon the nieces for daughters, but they are always distinguished by elder and younger: but since in your paper 'tis written simply, my daughter, it can be only understood of Ghiang-koo my cousin. If you will force this marriage upon me, how will it appear reasonable to any Mandarine with whom a petition may chance to be lodged?" "To so much talk and prate, replied Shuey-guwin, it is in vain to give answer. Very well! very well! said he in a violent passion, your design I see is to plague and kill me. If we had proceeded thus far with a man of the lowest rank, how should we avoid trouble and disgrace? much more with such a person as this, who is a youth of great resentment, and whose father is prefered to such power at court. Your abrupt refusal! what disturbance, trouble and confusion will it cause? I shall certainly be ashamed to shew my head: you will force me to lay aside all respect of kindred. I must go lodge a complaint against you before a Mandarine; then how will you be able to unravel and clear up so long a story before him[57] ? or how will you avoid exposing yourself to a great deal of shame?" All this he spoke with tears in his eyes. "Uncle, answered Shuey-ping-sin, I shall not make so long a story of it, as you may imagine: I shall only say that you, who are my uncle, taking advantage of my father's absence, would force me, who am left a young and helpless maid, to marry, in order to take possession of my substance. This will make you appear in so criminal a light, that you will not be able to hold up your head."

Shuey-guwin was a good deal alarmed at these words, and began to be more calm. "I would not willingly, said he, bring a petition before a Mandarine: but if I do not, how shall I extricate myself out of these difficulties?" "Uncle, said the young lady, if you will lay aside your ungenerous intentions against me, I'll undertake to bring you off clear." Shuey-guwin wiping his eyes replied, "Alas! that I fear is impossible; it is not in the power of a Saint[58] to deliver me." "Pursue my directions, proceeded she, and this sorrow shall be turned into joy." "Alas! said he, at a time when life and death are indifferent to me, what hope can I have of so favourable a change? However, I would know how you propose to assist me in this affair, so that this young man's resentment may not fall on my head." "Attend then, said she, and do exactly as I would have you: if I mistake not, my cousin Ghiang-koo is just seventeen, of a fit age to be married, you have now a fine opportunity of doing it: send her in my stead, and all the difficulty is over." At these words he hung down his head and paused: at length looking up with a mixture of joy and terror, he said, "Well, but your cousin is very ordinary and disagreeable in her person; and if she should marry Kwo-khé-tzu, he will not like her, and so I shall still be involved in trouble[59] ." "Uncle, she replied, leave that to me: in other respects there's nothing irregular; the eight letters are rightly and truly your daughter's: 'tis as true that the present came to your house: all this is notorious. The Tieh-tse run in your name: and in the letter of compliments you say, my daughter: in consequence of all this the chair is now come to your house: then what should hinder you from sending my cousin? on the other hand consider the credit it will be to have him for your son-in-law: does not all this afford you pleasure?" At this the countenance of Shuey-guwin began to clear up: he smiled and said, "Daughter and cousin, how came you, that are a little helpless and lonely maid, to be possessed of so much ingenuity, as at once thus to kill me and restore me to life? "Sir, replied his niece, it was never my desire to deceive you: this affair was all your own seeking to give me disturbance." "Enough, said he, let that be forgotten: one thing yet remains; your cousin is very awkward, and neither knows how to dress herself out, not to behave as she ought, on such an occasion: you must go to assist, and instruct her." "I will go, said she, and if any thing be wanting, let me have the blame."

She took accordingly two of her maids, and went to dress up her cousin; in order to which she caused her to bathe and wash herself clean from head to foot, to whiten her teeth, to form her eye-brows, and put on cloaths perfumed with the sweetest wood and gums: this took them up a good part of the day: she then instructed her, when she was brought to the house of the bridegroom to behave herself with reserve and modesty; and on coming into his own apartment when he should advance to take off her veil, to run and hide herself in the curtains. She also instructed the two waiting women, when they were to offer him wine[60] , to be as liberal of it as possible, and when he should have a mind to retire, to be sure to put out the lights. Then ordering the maids to withdraw and get themselves ready, she took the opportunity of their absence to proceed as follows: "The next morning when the bridegroom sees you, he will perhaps be angry to find you not so handsome as he expected: in that case you must throw yourself into violent fits of crying, and offer to lay violent hands on yourself; this will doubtless make him afraid, and prevent his offering you any ill treatment." Ghiang-koo promised to observe all her directions: and then they took their leaves of each other.

Kwo-khé-tzu was now arrived to fetch home his bride. Shuey-guwin went in to see her. "You are very fine, said he, there wants nothing now but a veil for your face: when that is covered you will be perfectly handsome." Then taking her in his arms he carried and seated her in the chair. That ceremony over, the bridegroom mounting his horse with great content, went before the chair towards his house: there he ordered the gates to be thrown open, and desired his female relations to be ready to receive her. He beheld her with great delight as she got out of the chair, and her face being covered she appeared to him like a Saint or Angel[61] . Then walking by her side into the great hall, their friends and relations bade them their compliments. After this they retired into his apartment, there he went to take off her veil: upon which, according to her cousin's advice, she ran and hid herself in the bed. The bridegroom then ordered the table to be covered, but Ghiang-koo would not come to sit down. The waiting women desired him to seat himself and drink first. He said, "No: your mistress is ashamed now, and out of modesty will not shew herself, yet perhaps would be glad to take some refreshment: therefore to save her blushes, I'll retire a little while she comes out, and will go and eat with my friends and acquaintance." His relations asked him why he left the lady, and if it were not usual for the bride and bridegroom to eat together? "Shuey-ping-sin[62], replied he, is a woman of great fashion and delicacy: she ought to be treated with suitable respect, and hath certainly now a just claim to indulgence." Her relations acknowledged it was very kind and respectful: then inviting him to sit down and partake of their entertainment, they quickly fell to drinking, plying one another[63] so fast, that Kwo-khé-tzu became very much fuddled.

When all the guests were retired, he went into the bride's chamber; and seeing it full of lights, he approached the bed, and asked her why she did not take her repose? why she stayed for him, and hindered herself from sleeping with so many tapers? Ghiang-koo, as he opened the curtains, turned aside her face, and ordered her women to put out the lights. They hesitated, observing that he was not undressed: but he said, "Whatever your new lady orders, obey her: defer it not upon my account." They obeyed him and retired[64] .

The next morning an hour or two after it was day, as he was going to rise and put on his cloaths, he saw the ugly face of his wife. He could not for some time believe his senses: "Surely, said he aloud rubbing his eyes, "the Shuey-ping-sin which I saw, was exquisitely beautiful: but who are you? you are not the bride for whom I contracted." "Why not, answered Ghiang-koo? but I am." "I expected a lady compleatly handsome, said he, and here is an ill-favoured monster indeed." Then starting up in a rage, he vented his fury in exclamations against Shuey-guwin, pouring on his head a thousand curses. Ghiang-koo hearing him thus abuse her father, calling him dog and villain so to deceive him, was highly troubled "What, said she, am not I your wife, and is not my father your father-in-law: and do you treat him with no more respect, than thus to abuse him in my hearing?" Kwo-khé-tzu at this was the more perplexed: "'Tis enough, said he, I am soundly cheated! and is Shuey-guwin really your father?" "Is he, said she? most certainly: you must know nothing: you must be very dull of apprehension to doubt it. Why, Shuey-ping-sin is my younger sister; the daughter of my uncle. If you would have married her, why did not you go to her own house, and ask for her there? The Nean-kung you received is really mine: the Tieh-tse run in the name of my father. In his letter he writes, my daughter. 'Twas to his house your present was brought: and thither you came yourself to fetch me away. All the city knows I was carried out of his house, and no other. I am of a family very much honoured and respected; and for you, to whom I am newly married, to treat me and my friends with all this scorn and abuse, is it possible I should bear it? No: I will never live under so much indignity. I will sooner die a thousand deaths."

Then working herself up into the greatest transport of rage and grief, she fell to stamp and beat herself suriously: and snatching up a sash that lay in the room, was going to strangle herself with it. Kwo-khé-tzu alarmed at this violence; and fearing the trouble and disgrace in which it would involve him and his family should such an accident happen within his own apartment, and to his new-married bride; flew to her instantly and held her arm: then in a soothing manner begged her to attribute his words to the wine he had drank over-night; it being usually his misfortune to be passionate after it: that she should not be so moved by a few inconsiderate expressions: but that now they were married, they should endeavour to live in peace and amity. 

[52] It is only in some provinces (but chiefly the northern ones) that the bridegroom goes in person to conduct home the bride.
See P. Semedo, p. 72.
[53] See note to p. 75.
[54] It is chiefly the sects of Fo and Tao-tsë that believe the existence of evil spirits called Yen, whose business it is to torment the souls of the wicked in another life, &c. Their ignorance of nature makes the Chinese attribute its most common effects to some evil genius or demon.
See P. Du Halde, vol. 1. p. 664, 675. vol. 2. 235.
[55] Viz. the original writing from which the letters of gold, that were fixed on the silk, had been copied.
[56] See note, p. 83. Diviners, soothsayers and astrologers no where meet with greater encouragement than in China: the market places and streets are every where full of them, where they keep open shop with their tables of calculation, and scarce any thing is done without consulting them.
See P. Semedo, p. 93. P. Du Halde, &c.
[57] The women in China are kept so recluse, and converse so little with the men, that to be obliged to appear before a court of justice, and there to enter into a long detail of facts, may well be supposed very terrible to them.
The Chinese women not only immure themselves in their apartments, into which scarce their nearest relations of the opposite sex are permitted to enter, but it is even thought indecent for them when they salute a man to use the common Chinese form Van fo, or All happiness to you; their salute is therefore confined to a silent curt'sey, which they make in the same manner as the ladies in Europe. Even in the prison and the grave, where all distinctions commonly cease, that of sex is not forgotten in China: in both these the men and women are most carefully separated.
P. Du Halde, vol. 1. p. 281, 293, 310, 555. vol. 2. p. 49, 50, 77.
[58] It is chiefly among the followers of the two idolatrous sects of Fo and Tao-tsë that there are worshiped in China a kind of Saints or Heroes under the name of Sien-jin, or immortal men. These are commonly represented by little images.
P. Du Halde, vol. 1. p. 649, 674, &c.
The name of Shing or Saint is also given by the sect of the Literati or Philosophers, (whose religion is more pure and uncorrupt) to some of their ancients as have been uncommonly distinguished for their virtue and wisdom: they explain the word Shing to mean such as have arrived to the utmost pitch that man by his faculties can attain unto.
Vid. Confucius five Scien. Sin. p. 52.
N. B. The former seem to be chiefly intended in this history.
[59] As the Chinese marriages are altogether brought about by the intervention of some third person, and the bridegroom never sees the bride till she is brought home to him; so when he first opens the chair, if he finds he has been deceived in his account of her, he may have his remedy in sending her back, provided he will be content to lose the presents, &c. which he made her. In this case the persons that deceived him are liable to be punished.
P. Du Halde, vol. 1. p. 304, 305, &c.
[60] After the bride is brought home, and has performed the four reverences to heaven in the great hall, and the same to her husband's relations, she is then led into the inner apartment, &c. where she and her husband usually drink what is called the cup of alliance; after which they sit down together to an entertainment, &c. but sometimes the bridegroom stays and makes merry with his relations; on all which occasions the wine flows about freely. As for the bride, she is put into the hands of the female relations who are present.
P. Semedo, p. 72. P. Du Halde, vol. 1. p. 303, 632. vol. 2. p. 43, 45, 122, 172.
[61] See notes pag. 17, 41, 105.
[62] It may be proper to observe here once for all, that in the Translator's manuscript she is never spoken of by her proper name, except by her parents or superiors, but instead thereof by that of Shuey-siauw-tze, or tsieh, that is, Shuey the young Lady or Mandarine's daughter: it being unpolite in China, as well as with us, to call persons of any rank by their bare proper names: only the Chinese range the complimentary title differently, putting it after the name. In the same manner Kwo-khé-tzu, Tieh-chung-u, and the rest, are always spoken of (except in the cases above mentioned) by the name of Kwo or Tieh-cong-tzu, i. e. Tieh a Mandarine's son. Unless when they are addressed by an inferior, or when some particular respect is intended; and then it is Tieh-siang-coon, rendered by the Translator T. the young Gentleman; tho' he acknowledges it to mean something more, and to be equivalent to his or your honour, worship, &c. with us.—To prevent confusion the Editor chose to retain only the proper name every where.
[63] In the Translator's manuscript it is "plying one another left and right hand man." This is only mentioned as it is probably the Chinese idiom.
[64] The laws the Editor hath prescribed to himself of suppressing nothing however ridiculous, oblige him to inform the reader that the Chinese Author concludes this paragraph with a passage, that will not fail to make him smile, viz.
"They obeyed him and retired. Kwo-khé-tzu then stretching out his hands to find his way to the bed, said, "Ah! she is asleep: I will pull off my cloaths and go to sleep too."
This probably did not so much proceed from simplicity in the Author, as from an affectation of modesty. The Chinese are a very affected people, and all affectation leads to absurdity.