10. Accepted The Young Idiot

Not that Yu Wen wanted to oppose her mother’s will, but Yu Wen could never forget the very first time when she met Mrs. Dzo. She looked at Yu Wen. Yu Wen wasn’t sure if Mrs. Dzo had looked at her face at all. She felt that Mrs. Dzou’s eyesight quickly dropped down to her feet then slowly moved upwards to her dress. Then skipped her face and landed on her hair. It seemed that Mrs. Dzo first was measuring the size of her feet first. Then to check if her dress was properly worn. Then to see what kind of jewelry Yu Wen wore in her hair. Yu-Wen got goosebumps all over her while Mrs. Dzo’s sights were moving up and down on her. But that was not al!

Every time when Mrs. Dzo came to visit them, she brought her royal power and prestige with her. She comments the workers to work for her as if she was at her own home. She told this one to do this and that one to do that with a rather Her Highness manner. Mrs. Dzo always wore a black long gown inform people that she was a widow. Her gray hair combed up high to the back of her head and ended up with a bun and a piece of jade pen stick in the bun. Yu-Wen was thinking if she wanted to embroider Snow White’s stepmother as Chinese, Mrs. Dzu would be the best model. YuWen thought:”Whoever be Mrs. Dzu’s daughter-in-law, will end up to hang herself to death.”

Wong Ma worried and think to herself:”Mrs. Dzo was a widow ever since she was young.  Mr. Dzo is her only child. Mr. Dzo is a good young man all right, but as a widowed mother who has only one son, would she be a good mother-in-law? Nice to her daughter-in-law? Would she think that her daughter-in-law will get all the attention from her son, take her only son away from her?”

Yu-Wen said to Wong Ma: “You know what epoch is it now, Mrs. Dzo still acted as a royal madam.  Even when she is visiting us she acts like as if she were at home.” She continued:”I had a high school classmate. Married to a nice young man under the commitments of both sides parents. Her husband loved her dearly. Behind him, his mother abused her with her best.  My schoolmate didn’t want mention anything to her husband to hurt his feelings.  He did not know what was going on at all. Until one day when her endurance was over the limitation, she hung herself and died.”

But Yu Wen hadn’t ever even dreamed of that her own mother was planning to have her to married to Dzo Yau Dzung.

One day Wong Ma heard that the Dzo’s family will send someone to come to propose the marriage!

Wang Ma knew that her lady was not very fond of Mrs. Dzo. She knew also that Yu Wen had some good impressions with that “Young Idiot”. If she really going to have Mrs. Dzo to be her mother-in-law, what kind of life her poor lady is going to have.

Wong Ma was sitting in Yu Wen’s bed while she was thinking of these, her tears flow down her cheeks and cried quietly. Yu-Wen came in at that moment. She was taught that a lady should always walk quietly. Therefore when Yu Wen came in like a cat, Wan Ma didn’t notice it at all until Yu Wen taped on her shoulder gently.

“Wong Ma, what had happened to you?” Even Yu Wen’s voice was very soft Wong Ma was startled. She wiped off her tears and said: “No! Nothing, nothing.”

“Tell me, Wong Ma, who bullied at you? Was it my mother?”Yu-Wen asked her.

Wong Ma was a very honest person she could never lie but tell the truth.

Yu-Wen heard that the Dzo’s will sent someone to propose the marriage, she was very worried. What should she do now? If she is really going to marry to Mr. Dzo, what kind of life will be for her? But she was not panic.

“What am I going to do?”Yu-Wen calmly asked herself. “I must let my parents know that I don’t want to marry Mr. Dzo.” She dared not to go to her mother, she knew her mother would not support her at all. She could only go to her father.

After she made up her mind, Yu-Wen walked into her father’s workshop.

Mr. Lyan wore a single lensed magnifying glass on one of his eye, concentrated in carving a stone seal. Yu-Wen didn’t want to surprise her father with a sudden drop in. It might cause a slip of his carving blade which may cut her father’s fingers. So she softly said: “Pa!’

Mr. Lyan raised up his head looked at Y Wen. The magnifying glass dropped off his eye and landed on the floor. Quickly Yu Wen picked it up and handed back to her father. Then Yu Wen acted like a spoiled little child, rocking her father’s shoulders with both hands, and said: “Pa! pa! I don’t want to marry to the Dzo’s . Each time when Mrs. Dzo came to visit us she always looked at me from the top of my head down to my feet which makes my spine tickled and numb. It will drive me nuts if I have to live with her for the rest of my life.”Tears began to pour down from her eyes.

“Wait a minute my silly child!” Mr. Lyan laughed.”Who said you are going to marry to the Dzo’s? How come I’ve never heard of it?”

Yu-Wen grabbed the chance and said:”Wong Ma told me that one of Dzo’s servants, Chwen-Mei said her mistress will send someone to come to proposed for the marriage.”

“Is that right? I’ll find out what’s going.” Mr. Lyan became serious. “But…..after all, this Dzo Yau Dzung is a nice young man.”

“No! No! Pa! I would rather die to marry to the Dzo’s.”Yu-Wen cried harder and harder.

“My good child! Don’t cry, don’t cry. We’ll see until I find out what’s going on first. All right?”

After Mr.Lyan talked with his wife, he got the whole picture.  He opposed it firmly because their daughter is still too young to be married. It should wait for a couple more years later.

Mrs. Lyan in charge of everything at Lyan’s house. But the most important matters,  Mr. Lyan’s decision was always honored and respected. Thus it came as a heavy storm but ended up with a few small little raindrops.

Mrs. Lyan took her husband’s advise and broke off the engagement, but she was enraged. No one knows her daughter more than a mother. She knew that this girl is interested in that Young Idiot. She knew how much her husband loved their daughter. If she insisted the marriage, it would lacerate the harmony of the relationship between she and her husband. And also give other people a chance to make up stories. Therefore she was calm on the surface but a plan was simmer in the dark.

For his job necessity, Mr lyan often traveled back and forth from Pei-Jing and Tyan-Jing. Once he decided to take the whole family with him. Even taking the servants and the cook with them to stay there for a while.    Dz Yun was a poor student at Pei-Jing University. He couldn’t afford to travel too often. One of Lyan’s long-term young worker voluntarily to be the messenger to pass their love letters between the young lovers. Actually, nothing could be hide from Mrs. Lyan. She concerned about a good life of her daughter’s, she should not allow Yu Wen to marry to that impoverished student.

The best way Mrs. Lyan could think of was to hire some thugs to give that Young Idiot a good lesson. So that he will leave her daughter alone. Mrs. Lyan made up her mind, without letting anybody know in the family, she hired some thugs to deceive Dz Yun to one of the old deserted collieries in Tang-Shan, TyanJing where no one would be around. But nothing could be hidden unless it has never happened! The terrible news came to the young messenger. He was a very loyal long-term worker at Lyan’s family. He came to Lyan’s home as an orphan when he was only six years old. Yu-Wen was very nice to him. She always helped him. Especially with money in his time of need.  He told Yu Wen what he had heard on the very first day.

Quickly Yu Wen ran to her father for help. She told her father that someone will use her name to cajole Ho Dz Yun to one of the deserted coal mines at Tang-Shan. Over there, they will teach Dz Yun a good lesson to let him know that he should never see her again.

Mr. Lyan understood what is going on. Nothing he needㄎ to ask.

He contemplates how could he get to Tang-Shan as soon as possible? It is more than 100 kilometer from Tyan-Jing to Tang-Shan, the fastest horse will take at least a day and a half to get there. That would too late!

Suddenly Mr. Lyan remembered that he bought a motorbike from one of the  Bei-Yang warlords. He had never had a chance to try it yet. Now is the right time!  He told his adjutant to fill it up with gas and bring it over to him. He was worried about how to ride on it. But when he saw it all the worries were released.  It looked a bicycle!  The only thing that a bike doesn’t have was the engine, a one wheel box-car attached to its side, you can put something in it or have one person sitting in it.

Mr. Lyan mounted on the bike and started the engine, the bike roared and dashed forward to its destination.

That was one of the hottest days in summer. Even the motorbike was much faster than a horse, but running under the burning sunlight,  you could get a sunstroke. Yu-Wen was very worried that how much heat her father could endure?  This is the first time her father ever ride on a motorbike, could he manage it? The long hours of riding would it cause her father fatigue? could her father make it on time before the party started?

Next day at noon, about 24 hours later since Mr. Lyan left home yesterday, Mr. Lyan came home. The very first thing he said to Yu Wen was: “My daughter, I saw Ho Dz Yun, he is OK! I had a long conversation with him and understood that he loves you.  I was thinking since you cared about Ho Dz Yun’s safety that much, Ho Dz Yun loves you. Why don’t I have him to be my son-in-law? That will save all the trouble in the future. And Ho Dz Yun promised that he’ll take good care of you all his life with all his heart. That was all I waited for him to tell me. So I told him to select a good date and then come to our house to propose for the engagement.”

Mr. Lyan said all these without any break. Then he took his pocket watch out from the pocket and handed to Yu Wen and said:”Touch it, my child!”

Yu-Wen didn’t sleep the whole night last night. She was still half sleeping. Now her father came home safely with this sudden good news. It was just too much for her to take them at the same time. She was not in her senses yet.  She didn’t understand why her father asked her to touch his pocket watch. Senselessly she stretched out her hand to hold the watch.

“Oh! How come it’s so hot?” The pocket watch dropped down from Yu  Wen’s hand.  It was too hot for her to hold. As hot as a piece of burning rock! Fortunately, the watch was chinned to her father’s pocket. Otherwise, it would be dropped on the floor and could be broken.

“It’s so hot outside, not as cool as in the room with a big chunk of ice and fan. Wong Ma, give me a big cup of water with some crushed ice.”

Now Yu Wen was totally wide awakened now! Her father loves her so he loves Dz Yun as well. To ward off regret of being late, her father rode on the motorbike without any stop. Even at night in order to have enough time to stop the incident. And to relieve the anxiety of his beloved daughter, again with a nonstop riding on the motorbike came home under the burning sun.  If the pocket watch could be that hot, as hot as a burning rock, what would be for a human being?  She burst out in tears. Speechless she grabbed a piece of towel wipe off the sweat from her father’s face and neck. With a fan, she fanned all over on her father. In her heart, she prayed: “Thank  God. Everyone is safe and well.”

But to Mrs. Lyan,  after she heard what her husband had told her, her whole being was a blowout and fainted kept unconscious for almost a whole day.

Mrs. Lyan lost a lot of weight even under the good care of the doctor. Her health condition made Mr. Lyan’s heartache. But a promise is a promise! It can’t be changed! Mrs. Lyan had just let it be.

Upon this Marriage Revolution,  the relationship between Yu Wen and her mother dropped down under 0 degree. Right after Yu Wen heard that her mother regained consciousness, she ran to her mother’s bedside. But as soon as her mother saw Yu Wen, she closed her eyes and turned her head away from her. Ever since that each morning and evening when she went to her parent’s bedroom with her best regards as she usually did,  Mrs. Lyan would not say a word. While her father was not around her mother would not even look at her. Yu-Wen stood in front of her mother until Wong Ma pulling her sleeve to imply her it’s time to leave. Her mother treated her as a stranger. At Yu Wen’s childhood, when she was learning the Princesses Etiquette, her mother was very strict on correcting her postures, but their relationship was never being as bad as strangers.

Yu-Wen understood that her mother loved her. Her mother wished to see her only daughter married to a matched marriage to have a good life. But she herself knew that she would never want to become a daughter-in-law of  Mrs. Dzo. and ended up the same way as her high school classmate. Yu-Wen aspired to a blissful marriage. Nevertheless, she couldn’t drop her mother’s love as well.

Her mother could only see that Dz Yun was an impoverished student. But she never learned the Dz Yun was born in a scholarly family for generations. Some of Dz Yun’s ancestry were officers at the imperial court. The Ho’s family was one of the most famous celebrities in He-Nan. But to Mrs. Lyan scholarly family for generations would never be compared to a blue blood family.

Struggling between the love of her mother and a blissful marriage, tolerated with her mother’s coldness every day, Yu-Wen couldn’t take any more. She was devastated and her health collapsed. Every day after 12 noon, Yu-Wen began to have some fever not too high but coughed a lot. Traditional Chinese Doctor diagnosed Yu Wen of Non-communicable TB.

—To be continued.

  1. The Engagement is on the way —



9. The Young Idiot

Mr. Lyan was proficient in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. As a director of an arsenal, many young scholars, professors, celebrities came to visit him. One day a young man, he introduced himself as Ho Dz Yun, a student from Pei-Jing University, wish to see Mr. Lyan. He said that he had been admiring Mr. Lyan’s great attainments in physics and chemistry for quite a while. He would like to ask him for some advice. Mr. Lyan was outgoing and informal with everyone  The conversation he had with this young fellow was pretty delightful. The Math problem that this young man brought up, Mr. Lyan gave him the answer right away. In return, Mr. Lyan’s gave him some math problem. Young Mr. Ho couldn’t answer it right away. He was very embraced and blushed. And finally, he gave up!

Mr. Lyan found himself was very fond of this young visitor, especially for his talent. He said kindly to him:

“It’s OK! It is a little difficult. How about this way, you take this problem home today and think it over again. Come back with the answer some other time.”

Thus Ho Dz Yun became a frequent visitor of the Lyan residence. He addressed himself as ” Mr. Lyan’s student”.

Mr. Lyan loved to make new friends, especially with this young man. But Mrs. Lyan didn’t like Mr. Ho at all. She called Mr. Ho “Young Idiot “. It seemed to her that this young idiot knew nothing other than mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Once while Her husband was talking with this” Young Idiot “, she saw him was clapping and jumping like a happy child! He had no aristocratic bearing at all. And no manners!  He never polished his shoes. Sometimes hair may hang down to his face due to not pomade his hair.

Since “Young Idiot” Ho Dz Yun visiting Mr. Lyan frequently, he noticed that Mr. Lyun had a lovely daughter.  Mrs. Lyan’s comments of this “Young Idiot” brought up Yu Wen’s attention. Actually, Yu-Wen found out Ho Dz Yun was not an Idiot at all. He is very knowledgeable in many fields. Other than those what-so-ever he was discussing with her father which Yu Wen didn’t understand, Ho Dz Yu was quite erudite as well as in Chinese ancient civilization. Sometimes Yu Wen even heard Dz Yun hummed some Chinese opera.

Yu-Wen speculated that it could be because this young man is a student, his attitude and dressing were so different from those profligate sons of blue blood whom her mother introduced to her. Dz Yun never greased his hair. his shoes were not shinnying polished but always in a good condition. He always wore a blue long Chinese robe, neatly clean. The whole being looked elegant and gentle.

Yu-Wen thought Dz Yun was special!

Yu-Wen was not only Westernized in knowledge and thoughts as well as. Advocate the freedom to choose one’s own marriage. She was not in favor of those her mother introduced to her. They were either overcautious on behalf of maintaining their nobility or they would be swollen with arrogance. Dz Yu was different from them.

Mrs. Lyan started to seek for a matched marriage for her only daughter. But each time Mrs. Lyan thought she found a matched one was declined by Yu Wen’s father. He thought that it was still too early for Yu-Wen. She is still too young to get married. Besides Yu-Wen was their only daughter it’s too early to let her go. Besides he thought they should be very careful to pick and choose the best son-in-law. It matters Yu Wen’s whole life.

Among the young men who proposed for marriage, Mrs. Lyan selected one, Mr. Dzo Yau Dzung. His father died when he was a little boy, he was the only child of his widowed mother.  Dzo Yau Dzung was a nice young man, smart and gentle. But his widowed mother was something else.

Every time when Mrs. Dzo came, Yu Wen ‘s mother would purposely be arranged some chances for Yu Wen to be with the guests.

—–To be continued.

  1. Accepted The Young Idiot—-

8.Bass Drum

In that big living room, Yu-Wen stood there as straight as a solder in front of her mother, who was sitting upright in a big Padauk Wood armed chair.

“I said, NO! Didn’t you understand what I’ve just said to you?” Mrs. Lyan said with a rather loud and harsh tune.

“Who has ever heard of a young lady like you from an illustrious family,  would ever learn to sing ” Pei-Jing Brass Drum “? Such low-class folk song was only for those people on the street working for their daily bread. If our relatives and friends ever heard the Lyan’s only girl is learning Pei-Jing Brass Drum, what would they think about you? How am I going to be able to look for a matched marriage for you? En?”  Yu-Wen bowed her head low, quiet as a mouse!

“So, I’ll say it again: NO! YOU – ARE – NOT – ALLOWED  – TO –  LEARN –  IT! ” Mrs. Lyan rapped her older. She turned over to Wong Ma and said: “Wong Ma, escort your lady back to her room. Without my permission, your lady should not leave her room.”

Wong Ma whispered to Yu Wen: “My lady, let’s go back to your room now. Don’t make it difficult for me.”

Yu Wen was going to say something, but when she looked at her mother’s angry face and  Wong Ma with tears in her eyes, she withdrew quietly from her mother’s room.

While they were walking to her room, she mumbling to herself: “Ok! Ok! I am not going to learn it, but I really don’t understand how could “learning a folk opera” being  related with ” lower one’s identity.”

That evening Mr. Lyan came home from work, he heard the servants were talking about the unhappy incident that happened between Mrs. Lyan and his only daughter, he went into his daughter’s room instead of going to his wife.

“My girl, I say, you are playing revolution again! And you upset your mother, right?”

“No! I did not.” Yu-Wen was trying to defend herself.

“I was just telling my mom that I wish to learn a song from [The West Chamber], in one of our folk opera. I didn’t know that could upset my mom that bad and she enumerated all my wrongdoings.”The feeling of wronging her, tears running down her cheeks.

“Papa! You have to think of some way to help me. I really want to learn it.”

“The West Chamber? Isn’t it the romantic story about Tswei Ying Ying and Jang Jun Rei? I know it. Nice melody!  But…………..  ”

It wouldn’t be hard for Mr. Lyan to figure out why that Mrs. Lyan was opposing the idea. For it was not just a song sing by the street people. The leads in the story consummated their love without parental approval, its potentially lethal could jeopardize young people in danger of pining away under their influence, which could not be accepted by the feudal society in early 18ths.

He didn’t want the happening gets too complicated, he branched it off.

“My girl, How about the pouch you promised me? It should be done by now. Isn’t it?” Mr. Lyan changed the subject.

“I am almost there! Pa. But I don’t feel if I would like to do anything anymore now!”

Yu-Wen was the pearl of Mr. Lyan’s palm. She was so precious to him. On one hand, Yu Wen’s personality was inherited from him, free and easy. On the other Yu Wen’s exquisite intelligence was from his wife. In addition to this, Mrs. Lyan had painstakingly educated Yu Wen with the Chinese traditional needle works. Yu-Wen was a priceless treasure for Mr. Lyan. Therefore Mr. Lyan always granted whatever Yu Wen requested.

Mr. Lyan was very proud of his daughter’s needle arts. Every piece of the needlework that Yu Wen did was beautiful and unique. He always carried one or two pieces of them with him when he had some social activities with his friends. Such as a handkerchief,  From time to time, he would take the hanky out from his pocket to wipe his nose or so. Then spread it out on his knees and fold it back again to show off the beautiful embroidery at the corners. Mr. Lyan was a pipe-smoker. He carried the pouch which holds the shredded tobacco with him all the time. The pouch, he thought, would be the best chance to show off Yu Wen’s masterpiece each time when he loaded his pipe. And people will not notice that he did it purposely as well as he wiped his nose with a hanky! Therefore he asked Yu Wen to embroider a pouch for him!  Now when he found out his daughter will go on a strike, he gave-in.

“OK! You tell me what’s on your mind?”Mr. Lyan asked.

“I’m ……I’m wondering if it is OK to employ a Bass Drum actress to come to our home to teach me?” Yu-Wen thought that was the best way, which would be complete in both respects.

“You mean to learn it secretly at home. So that none of our relatives and friends will know it and also it wouldn’t embarrass your mother too, right? But should we let your mother know about it?”

Yu Wen laughed happily because she knew her father will help her now.

A beautiful young lady came to Lyan’s residence the next afternoon to teach Yu Wen  The West Chamber secretly! Yu-Wen found out later, the actress, Jang Tswei Feng, was a very famous Pei-Jing Brass Drum actress,  Maybe because Jang Tswei Feng was famous, therefore Mrs. Lyan accepted the whole idea and did not give Yu Wen any more hard time.

Yu-Wen remembered after each class when Miss Jang was about to leave, she always bowed down her head looking on the flour, and walked backward for a few stapes, then turn around walked quickly out of the room. Yu-Wen did not understand why Miss Jang bowed down her head and walked backward to leave the room. Wong Ma told her:

“Of course! She is just an actress. A woman of lower class. That is the way to show their respect.”

But Yu Wen did not think of it that way. She thought every person should be the same. Especially Miss Jang who taught her how to sing the opera, she is her teacher!

—to be continued.

  1. The Young Idiot—

7. The Princesses Etiquette  

One morning, around 10 o’clock, Wong Ma ran up to Yu Wen and said:”Hurry up, my lady! Madam wants to see you. She is in the Main Room. If you are late, Madam will blame me for neglecting my duty.”

Yu-Wen went into the Main Room unwillingly. To her surprise, after she entered the room, she saw some of her distant relatives dressed in their fancy traditional garments were there with her mother. They sat in those visitors’ chairs on each side of her mother.  They were all looking at her. Yu-Wen had a funny feeling as if she was standing in front of a group of judges.  She did in her very best manners, ceremoniously greeted those aunts.  Before Yu Wen had a chance to find out why her mother sent for her, one of them said: “Oh my! What a pretty child! But I say, it’s supposed to be the right time to teach her our basic princesses’ etiquette now.” Yu was around seven years!

Yu Wen’s heart beating fast! She saw her mother’s face getting longer. She knew something bad is on its way! Yu-Wen was right! Mrs. Lyan perfunctorily saw those ladies left, she came back to the main room. With a long face and unpleasant voice, she said to Yu Wen:”Start from tomorrow I have to teach you the princesses’ etiquette. You’d better learn it with your all your effort. Wong Ma, move that big dressing mirror here. From tomorrow on, you’ll watch your lady practicing the traditional court princesses etiquette correctly.”

After Mrs. Lyan laid down her orders, she stood up and raised up her right hand with palm down in the air about equal height to her shoulder. Her maid quickly came forward to receive her hand humbly into her left hand. They walked out of the main room gracefully! Left many questions and wonderings behind to Yu Wen.

After her mother was totally out of sight, Yu-Wen asked Wong Ma: “What is princesses’ etiquette anyway? You can do it, right?”Yu-Wen asked

“No! My lady, I’m just a servant, how could I ever learn these kinds of court etiquette! I’ve been with Madam to visit many royal families, I saw how those unmarried ladies salute your mother. Their gestures were so graceful, so beautiful! They squat down slowly and balance with their two hands folded and landed on one knee, their upper bodies were straight up but not stiff. Looked like a beautiful petal float down slightly. Anyway, it is very difficult for me to describe.  I suppose it is not that easy to learned!”

“……..?”Yu Wen’s mind was floating in the clouds.

Next morning before Mrs. Lyan’s teaching, she sat down on her armed padauk chair with her two arms on the chair arms. She looked like a commander in chief to Yu Wen.  Not wearing too much facial expression.

Mrs. Lyan began her speech with a stiff look: “I was going to teach you the basic princesses etiquette earlier.  But your father always interceded for you. He said it’s a republican China now! It is out of fashion to those unnecessary and over-elaborate formalities. Yesterday I got your father’s agreement and will start teaching you formally. I don’t want to have anyone say our girl is not educated. Listen to me, don’t you dare to tell any rubbish to your father.”     Yu Wen dare not to say anything to resist nor to answer back. She knew her mother would not tolerate with anything that disgraced her.  She understood that what had happened the other day was really embarrass her mother.——

Yu-Wen stood there obediently. She watched mother demonstrated the whole processes of the princesses etiquette, Yu-Wen understood what Wong Ma was trying to tell her.

“Your body must be well balanced when squatting down. It looked so gracefully noble and dignified.”

She saw her mother’s right foot stepped out half a step, and curved a little which brought her upper body forward and down, but she kept her body straight upward. Gracefully she put the right hand on top of the left one and rest them on the right knee slightly and squat down a little bit.  Then she stood back up gently.  Mrs. Lyan’s gesture looked so graceful, lofty and dignified.

Now, the show dropped down to Yu Wen!  She felt like a puppet, doing each movement whatever her mother told her to do. And the way her mother posted her.

From her mother’s demonstration and her first lesson, Yu-Wen realized it was not an easy task at all. Especially for a seven-year-old youngster.  When Yu Wen was trying to squat down, not only her upper body swayed her legs wobbled too. She fell down and sat on the ground. She couldn’t help but burst into laughter. All of a sudden she felt a burning pain on her forehead which brought her tears out. That was given by her mother who knocked her forehead with a clenched middle finger. She felt her head slipped into her neck. Wong Ma quickly assisted her to get back on her feet. A small lump added to Yu Wen’s forehead     “Look into the mirror when you working on it.” Mrs. Lyan said to Yu Wen with a cold voice. Then she turned to Wang Ma: “Wong Ma, watch your lady when she practiced every morning until she will fall down again.” Mrs. Lyan walked out of the Main Room without looking at her daughter who was sobbing silently.

Wong Ma’s palm and the gentle rubbed were some refreshing medication for Yu Wen , not only eased off the pain on her forehead temporarily it also warmed up her heart. For Wang Ma, each time when she saw Yu Wen was crying, she wished that she could do more than just rubbing on Yu Wen’s lump she shed her tears with her poor lady quietly. All she could say was: “Oh my! Oh my! Try harder next time my lady.”

All the women of Manchu nobility were not foot-binding. Even though Yu Wen’s feet were born with small size because she was rather small in stature. This kind of gesture was very difficult for her from not swaying, especially for her age.  Sometimes she had to be assisted by Wong Ma before she fell onto the ground.

When Yu Wen was a little girl, she didn’t understand why each time when she was trying to squat down, a childhood memory always came up to her. She remembered when she was 5 or younger, she saw some ladies wearing some embroidered shoes with Flower Pot High Heels. When they walk with them, they looked so gracefully slandered, very pretty and charming. Once she sneaked into a dresser and found a pair of those kinds of shoes.  She put them on! While she was trying to stand up with them, the Flowerpot at the soles stood right in the middle of the arch of her feet. That made her dizzy and lost her balance. Fortunately, she grabbed the corner of the table close to before she fell onto it and broken into pieces.

“Flowerpot high heels”, looked at a very small up-side-down flower pot. They were hollow in the middle. The small side attached to the middle of the sole. The bottom of the bigger side was sealed and drilled with so many small holes, designed as Lotus flowers or other good luck sketches.  Some perfumed powers were stuffed inside the up-side-down flower pots.  After each step the lady stepped out, the powdered prints from the heels would be left on the ground. Whoever wears this kind of shoes had to keep their heads high and chest out. the walking movement looked so elegant, graceful and so feminine. Yu Wen wished that someday she could be able to wear them. But never did Yu Wen had a chance to do so after she grew up. Not only because the  changing of the age and also fashion, she married to the Han man

Yu Wen understood what her mother asked her to do was for her good. Who would not wish to be a respectable lady? She tried very hard to work on it and overcome the difficulty.

Sometimes Mr. Lyan came to Yu Wen’s room to give her some comfort and moral support. Though only tears and complaints, he would get from Yu Wen, whose fatherly love Yu Wen treasured her whole life.

From Mr. Lyan, Yu-Wen learned that there were many different kinds of court etiquettes. Different etiquette for unmarried girls, married ladies, men, servants and when officials meeting with the emperor in the feudal times. They were all different from each other.

“But who cares!” Yu Wen thought, “Now it is a republican China. No one would ever care about those different etiquettes anymore.” Yu Wen would never realize that how much it would benefit her in her future.

—To be continued.

  1. The Young Idiot—



6. The strict Mother

Yu Wen’s wet nurse, Wong Ma, took care of her ever since she was a newborn baby until the day she married.

Yu Wen’s from childhood to grow up, Wong Ma took care of everything of hers. Besides nursing her, she watched her starting crawling, to make sure she will not get dirty. Ever since she stepping out her very first baby step, Wong Ma was with her to make sure Yu Wen would not fall on something that might hurt her. To see what’s the suitable cloth for her to wear every morning and dressing her. Combing her thin hair.  Wong Ma knew what was Yu Wen’s  favorite cloth, and foods. Whenever Yu Wen was going out, Wang Ma was with her. There were always some long-term workers around her to make sure she was well secured.

Yu-Wen lived like a princess. But whenever she was with her mother, she became a little mouse who saw a cat!  She must be very cautious with her manners. She should stand as straight as a pine tree. But never swing. Never lean on the table or against the wall, chair or anything. Her mother said that looked low and degrading not only herself but also her family. People would think her mother never taught her manners. When she sat, she should be sat as straight as an old grandfather clock!   In bed, she should sleep on her side as a bow. Never facing up. Fortunately, her mother seldom came into her bedroom at night, unless when she was very sick.  Wong Ma would never mind how she slept! All she cared was if Yu Wen slept well and comfortable. If accidentally her posture was incorrect, her mother would knock on her forehead with the most pointed place of her fist. and left a  bump on her forehead. The sharp pain would be with her for days.  Ever time when it happened, Yu-Wen felt her head shrieked until nothing left but the pine. She even forgot how to cry. But tears streamed down her checks. Until she and Wong Ma got into her room old she threw herself into Wong Ma’s warm chest and start to cry hard.  Wong Ma would say to her with a cracking voice: “Oh! My poor lady, Oh! My poor lady, next time try your best to be careful!” Wong Ma’s cracking voice and her gentle rubbing always worked as pain-killer but temporarily.

She would never be able to act as a spoiled child with her mother. She did not even dare to dream of it!

Gradually the fear of her mother getting more than yearning for being close to her.

Based on the Manchurian lifestyle, Mrs. Lyan wanted to educate Yu Wen to be a real noble Manchurian lady. Therefore her demands get more and more strict. Yu-Wen found out in the later days that in the royal families, boys were always more privileged to enjoy their life freely than the girls. Whatever boys did were acceptable because they were shield by their fathers. But for girls, their parents wished to look for a good match for their daughters. Therefore the girls must behave well as a perfect lady.

They must well rememorize all the “The three Obeys” and “the Four Virtues”  when they were very young.  No matter young and old all females should keep these teaching in their mind and in their daily life.

The Three obeys:

Obey your father before you married.

Obey your husband after you married.

Obey your son if your husband died.

The Four virtue:

1. Good behaviors.

2. Good appearance; clothing, headgear, and footwear should always wear properly.

3. Speech – when you talking with people, should agree what they say, be understandable, should always realize what you should or should not say.

4. Should be good in Chinese traditional women’s skills, such as needle works, cooking, housekeeping etc.

For cooking and housekeeping to a ladylike Yu Wen was not necessary. Those were taken care by long-term workers. For needle works and all the others, everyone is a “Must”.

In the olden days, the cultural background of China was very different. Every lady wish to be a model lady! The rebellion was rarely heard of. Nowadays I believe, we still value a woman with some of those standers now!   

Yu-Wen loved needled works since she was a little girl. This pleasing her mother very much. She provided Yu Wen all chances to practice her needlework. You can see Yu Wen’s needle works everywhere at Lyan’s residence. such as window curtains, door curtains, tablecloth and chair covers, bed sheets, pillowcases. She made her own designs based on her love of nature. Her needle works were different. Highly admired and welcomed among her friends and relatives. Especially her father’s appreciation encouraged her a lot.

Everlasting Blossoms was built on her enthusiasm and devotion of nature and crafts, The Chinese old tradition fine art, embroider, unlocked her talent.

—To be continued.

  1. The Princesses Etiquette is on the way