16. Happenings on Lu-Gou Bridge (Marco Polo Bridge)

  1. Happenings on Lu-Gou Bridge (Marco Polo Bridge)

At Yu Wen’s wedding ceremony, she met only Dz Yuen’s father, her father-in-law. Dz Yuen’s mother did not attend the ceremony due to their second son was going to marry at the same time.  Yu-Wen hadn’t had any chance to meet her Mother-in-law until Syau Wen was about two years old. When the war with Japan occurred, most of the northern parts of China were taken by the Japanese. The current situation disorderliness everywhere!  Dz Yun received letters from back home getting fewer and fewer.  He was worried about his parents and his three younger brothers and one sister. Would like to visit his hometown to see how is everything going back home in Ho-Nan?.

They took Syau Wen and some simple luggage started their journey to Ho-Nan.

They could take a pedicab to the train station, but they decided to walk to instead. Not only they can save some pedicab fare, they could walk across the Lu-Gou Bridge, that they had never had a chance to visit. The structure itself is a piece of art. Especially those 485 stone carved lions.

Lu-Gou Bridge (Marco Polo Bridge)was built in 1189. Long 266.5 feet, width 7.5feet, 11 culverts. 140 stone carved pillars. Those lions all look different from each other. Some are sitting, while the others are resting on it four legs. Some lie prone. Some holding a baby lion with its claw, Some carrying a baby lion on it’s back. The vivid lively sight never to be forgotten!

While they were walking on the bridge and admire the beauty of the artwork. Yu-Wen saw a cloth bundle left on the bridge.  She picked it up. In it

she found some old clothes in it. some silver coins and two pieces of paper money tickets(Yin Pyau) written by hand.  Each carried with a large amount of money written on it. Anybody could tell that big number written on the ticket indicated that someone had sold all his property and exchange the money for these tickets which would be easier to carry for the traveling. The contain did not entitle to anybody. Which means anyone could take them to a bank and exchange into cash. Dz Yun and Yu-Wen understood those ticket must belong to some refugee who had left their hometown to look for freedom and safety. If the owner who lost them, it could jeopardize his life. That money was his life support. Dz Yun and Yu-Wen decided to hold on to the bundle and stay where they found it and wait for the owner to come back for it.

Silver coins were old Chinese one dollar coins. One piece of that silver coin could be good enough to provide food for a family of 6 for one month.

Not long after they waited, a young man pushing a three wheelbarrow with a white-haired old lady sitting on one side.  Some luggage on the other side. The old lady was blowing her nose and crying out loud. She mumbling over and over:  “Oh my good heavens! Where can we find it?” “It was all my fault, I didn’t even notice that when and where I lost it.”

Dz Yun knew these people could be the owners. He walked over to meet them and asked: “Did you lost something?”

“Yes! It was all my fault, I dropped a small bundle somewhere.”

“Ma-Ma! Don’t cry now! We found a small bundle. But we are not sure whether it is your or not. Could you tell me what was the bundle? ”

The old lady said:”There are two shirts, one was patched with a piece of black cloth on the right lower sleeve, there are 17 pieces of silver coins and two Yin Pyaus.”

Dz Yun wanted to relief the poor old lady’s worries, he quickly handed the bundle out to the young man and said:”OK! OK!  That’s enough. could you check and see if there is anything missing.”The young man got the bundle and opened it. He saw everything was there. He took those 17 pieces of silver coins out and handed to Dz Yun for thanking him for his kindness.  Both Dz Yun and Yu-Wen said together:”No! No! But thank you. We will not accept anything. You ‘d better hurry up and get on your way with your mom.”

Released from the burden  Dz Yun and Yu-Wen were delighted to pick up their tour again.

As they were walking, Yu-Wen saw a young lady with a baby in her arms. There was circled straw stuck in the baby’s cloth.  In the early days when days were difficult, someone wanted sale him/herself, would be stuck a circled straw in their hair as a mark to tell people they need money urgently, wanted to sale themselves.

A white-haired man sitting against one of the pillars. With his head bowed down so low, his head almost touched the ground between his knees. Sobbing but hardly be heard.

The young lady said:”Dad! Don’t cry please.”

“Let’s think it this way, Dad. This child may be will have a good life. The one who takes him may be a very nice person, rich and kind. It would be far better than staying with us to live in such an impoverished life. After we find Chyang and when everything settled down, you’ll have another corpulent  grandchild again.” She continued: “Aren’t you so anxious to see you son? from here to Bou-Ding is still quite a long way to go. How can I assist you while a baby is in my arms. Besides if there is anything happened to you, what am I going to say to Chyang? He will definitely divorce me.”

Yu-Wen understood by now that was a daughter-in-law rather gave up her own child because of taking care of her father-in-law. Tears running down from her cheeks. There were only two pieces of silver coins in her pocket. Without a second thought, she handed them out and gave to that lady. The lady received the money with a sad looking. She thought that Yu Wen was going to buy her son. Reluctantly she handed her precious baby to Yu Wen with a heart-broken looking on her face.

“No! No! The money is for you! I don’t want you, baby. I have a child, can’t you see.”

But the lady said:”How could that be. That doesn’t sound right. I can’t accept your money for nothing. Besides, I have to give this child to someone anyway in order to make me easier on the trip. I’m sure if he will be with you, he will enjoy a life of comfort and happiness.”

Dz Yun came to help Yu Wen to get out of the predicament and said:”We really can’t afford to raise two children. Please accept this money. This good-looking little boy will have a good fortune. You just stay here and wait, I’m sure that there will be someone would love to have him. We have to be one our way now.”

Dz Yun held Yu Wen’s and walked away. He tried to comfort Yu Wen while they were walking he said to her: “My sweet pal, you are not strong enough to take care of two babies at the same time. One Syau Wen is enough to keep you busy. If add another one,  your health will break down. Then, what am I going to do? You’ve given them some money already, I know that was not too much, I wish I could give them some more, but the money we have are barely enough for us to get home. Otherwise, I would give them.”

Yu-Wen just couldn’t hold her tears.  Without saying anything, quietly she followed Dz Yun stepped into the train.

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15. Smallpox vaccine and The Deadly Enteritis

In those days smallpox was still passing around the China. All babies must get Smallpox Vaccine before 4 months old to avoid being transferred by smallpox. Syau Wen did not get the vaccine until she was almost five months old due to her health condition.

When Yu Wen watch the doctor cut the small X on You’s skinny arm. You Wen’s crying tearing her heart. She saw with the same knife the Docter cut the X, he applied a little creamy liquid over the cut. Then the doctor with two hands cruelly pull and push the cut to force it open more to allow the white liquid more saturated into the cut. You Wen horsed her voice with horrible crying. Yu-Wen wished if she could take the vaccine instead of for her poor girl!

Ever since the cowpox planted in the little X cut on Syau Wen’s left arm, Yu-Wen always kept her eyes on Syau Wen’s vaccine area. She watched the entire process from the skin around the X turn red and swollen. Then it became a pustule. Until a pustule dried out. She saw a dry pustule starting to lift! What a relieve to Yu Wen. Because the doctor told her there will be a scar after a pustule dried. But, if a pustule popped before it dried out, where ever the pus go, the area it touched will become a new pustule. That means there will be more scars left on the skin,. It would look bad, especially for a girl when she wears sleeveless! Yu-Wen wants to make sure Syau Wen will have only one lovely round shaped scar on her arm.

But there was not much time for Yu Wen to be happy.  Syau Wen got measles! Yu-Wen was shocked. Could her poor emaciated baby make it? Could Syau Wen be survived after she been abused by measles!?

With tears, Yu-Wen brought Syau Wen to the pediatric.

After the doctor looked over at You Wen.  Yu-Wen was almost fall unconscious when she heard what he said: “My good heavens! How could it happen to this child?” Yu-Wen thought Syau Wen was going to die.  She burst into cry.

“No! No! I’m sorry that I’ve scared you.” Quickly the Doctor said.”I’m just too excited! Being a podiatrist all these years, This was my second case. One out of 10,000 babies maybe will get it. It’s very rare. Which means the measles came when a dry pustule starting to lift. After the child recovered from measles, this child will be immunity against any kind of dermatosis all her life.”

“But during the measles period, we have to be extremely careful, this child is too fragile!”

Under the care of the doctor and the love of a mother, Syau Wen survived.

After that Yu Wen forgot all about what the doctor had told her “immunity against any kind of dermatosis for life”. Until in Si-An the whole family caught scabies but Syau Wen.

When Syau Wen was about eight or nine months old. Dz Yun haired a housemaid to help to take care of Syau Wen. So that Yu Wen could have some break.

Sometimes the maid would give Syau Wen some toys to play with, as well as coins. It was the time for Syau Wen put forth teeth. Whatever she grabbed she would like to put it into her mouth. Just anything!  The maid didn’t know the copper was toxic.

Syau Wen began with diarrhea. Yu-Wen though it was some poor digestion problem and treated her with some common baby medications over the counter. Instead of getting better, Syau Wen’s diarrhea got worse and worse. If the watery excrements wet some part of the skin, the skin would be blistered. By now Yu Wen realized how serious it was. She took the unconscious baby to the several hospitals, but the doctors told her the same thing: “Sorry! It’s too late.” Yu-Wen wouldn’t give up. But no matter how hard Yu Wen begged the doctors to save her daughter’s life, there was nothing the doctors could do.

After Yu-wen came out from the last doctor she could have. Disappointedly, filled with hopelessness she got into a Ricksha with her dying baby in her arms. Not too long she will lose her beloved daughter.

rickshaw-A small vehicle with two wheels used for carrying one or two passengers, that is pulled by someone walking or running.

The driver of the rickshaw heard Yu Wen sobbing behind. While he was trying to calm Yu Wen down and found out her baby was dying. He suggested  Yu Wen to take the baby to see a Chinese herbal doctor.  Maybe they can help since there is no other choice. He told Yu Wen,: ” I know there is an old herbal doctor lives right at the end of the alley where you live. Maybe he has some secret recipe that handed down in their family for generations.”

Like a drowning person in the ocean grabbed a piece of wood, this could be the only hope for Yu Wen. She took Syau Wen to visit that herbal doctor right away.

The white hair white beard old herbal doctor looked so kind and friendly. After he touched Syau Wen’s pulse, he got up from his seat. He opened several small drawers on the cabinet on the wall. He took some dried grass out from each drawer. wrapped up with paper and handed over to Yu Wen. And said: “Take these home and cook them right away and dump the soup into her mouth. Wait after finish one burning joss stick time.  If you can see the tip of her nose starting to get wet.  Your child will be saved.  Come back to get some refills. Otherwise, prepare for the funeral.”

a burning joss stick time – An old Chinese traditional way of counting the time.

After the herbs were cooked after Yu Wen went home.  When she was ready to give to Syau Wen the soup, she realized why the old doctor told her to dump the soup into You Wen’s mouth.  Syau Wen was not able to open her mouth and could not swallow anything at all. With Dz Yun’s help to open Syau Wen’s mouth, Yu-Wen dumped the soup into her mouth slowly.

After the soup all dumped in, both Dz Yun and Yu-Wen sat right next to Syau Wen They watching over Syau Wen with all attention. You Wen’s face looked was so pale and woodenly with slightly closed eyes. That one burning joss stick time seemed like a century. Finally, they saw Syau Wen’s nose tip starting wet, Gradually the wetness became tiny waterdrops! Yu-Wen was almost cry out for joy, but quietly tears running down her cheeks as streams. Dz Yun hugged her tightly and gently patted her back.

After several follow up packs of Chinese herbals Syau Wen was recovered from that deadly diarrhea. Yu-Wen wanted to thank that Heavenly given doctor who saved Syau Wen’s life. But that white hair, white beard friendly kind old doctor was not there anymore. The neighbors told Yu Wen his son took him back home because his son thought it is inappropriate for his old aged father live along so far away from home.  Where was his hometown? No one knew it.

Yu-Wen told her children, later on, she often regrets that she did not ask the old doctor for the prescription. Otherwise, She could have saved some other baby’s life.

Within the first two years in Syou Wen’s life, she had much more tough days than those same aged children. Likewise, Yu-Wen had worked much harder, and more painstaking care her this immature birth child, a baby given by God. Yu-Wen from an inexperienced mother, step by step she grow up with Syau Wen. Every step was a surprise, a new discovery, and joy. Together She grows up with Syau Wen’s learning to sit up, crawling, tooth growing…….

— to be continued —

–16. Happenings on Marco Polo Bridge– is on the way.

14. The Ugly Baby Deity Longevity

About a year later after they married,  Yu-Wen happened to be in favor of sour food. She became lazy and easy to get tired when doing her daily housework. The doctor announced that Yu Wen was pregnant!

What a great and joyful news for the Ho family! Dz Yun’s parents were expecting their very first born grandchild! Dz Yun’s father mailed two sets of books to his daughter-in-law:  “Fetation” and ” How to nourishing and bringing up a baby”. These two sets of books not only brought Yu Wen love they also brought new knowledge that all she needed. Without these books, Yu-Wen would never know what should she do to bring up her very first baby.

Before Yu Wen married, her father was teasing her and said:”If you married Dz Yun. you should have many children!”

“Why?” Yu Wen’s father baffled her.

     “My foolish child! Don’t you see, I’m a Mongolian, your mother is a Manchurian and your husband-to-be is a Han. There are five big races in China: Hans, Manchus, Mongolians, Huis, and Tibetans. There will be three races in your family. It was said the second generations of this kind of families, should be very bright!”

Now it’s really going to be happening! Yu-Wen was worried and scared. No adults around her. Nowhere to get Won Ma. Whom should she go for help?  From the books that her father-in-law sent her, Yu-Wen found all her answers.

It could be because this was the first pregnancy for Yu Wen. Without any experience, no advice. She only carried the fetus less than seven months.  The premature baby was thin and tiny! Not ready to be dropped into the world. She had a head as a shrank deity of longevity. But much older!  On her baldhead and over her face there were full of wrinkles.  Her fingers and toes were so skinny and they looked awfully long. Yu-Wen couldn’t be sure whether there were five or fewer fingers or toes on each hand and foot. Many times when nobody was around she would be picked up one tiny hand or foot to count over and over again.

Mrs. Lyan heard that her daughter just had a pregnancy baby.  She rushed to the hospital to see them. When she saw such an ugly old deity of longevity granddaughter, Mrs. Lyan was very disappointed.  She suggested to Yu Wen:

“How about exchange a better-looking one? Today on my way here at the Nursery, I saw an abandoned baby girl as old as this ugly being. The nurse said her mother was a student at Pei-Jing University who ran away a few days later after the baby was born. That baby girl I saw, has beautiful black hair, big eyes, and a small mouth. She’ll become a beauty someday. Anyway, that’s an unwanted child, why don’t you exchange them?” Mrs. Lyan said seriously.

Yu-Wen was so frightened.  No matter how ugly the baby was, that was her very own flesh and blood. That was her daughter!

Ever since that moment she heard what her mother had said, She was so scared!  She would never let the baby out of her sight.  She was afraid that her mother may stealthily exchange her baby.

Dz Yun named their first born girl You Wen to honor his sweetheart. You Wen means Yu Wen Junior!

You Wen, this a premature baby. She was unusually small! At home, everyone called her Syau Wen as a nickname,  which means “Little Tiny Wen”.

Syau Wen was born on a summer day in 1963.  The weather was awfully hot. But Syau Wen’s body temperature was always low. There was no incubator at those days. From ” How to Nourishing and Bringing Up A Baby” Yu Wen learned how to keep her tiny baby warm and safe.

She put lots of unused premature bab on a piece of wood board. Rapped up with a new clean cloth. Before Yu Wen bundled Syau Wen up with a blanket, she placed Syau Wen in between of two layers of unused cotton, then put the bundle on the rapped board.  The bundle was secured on the board,

  • Unused cotton* is warmer than the used one. Besides it’s clean, no harmful germs.

Actually to put Syau Wen on a piece of board was not only could keep her warm, it kept her safe in one piece. Syau Wen was born before she was fully grown. Her bones and skeleton were not well enough connected yet. It seemed if there is just the slightest shake could cause the bones scattered! When she was on the board she will not be shaken at all.

This poor little girl didn’t even know how to suck! Each time when it was time to feed her, Yu-Wen had to put some milk into an eye drop suction tube. Then open her baby’s mouth to drop one drop of milk at a time. Waited until that one drop was completed swallowed. Then drop the next drop. If accidentally dropped two drops into Syau Wen’s mouth, it could chock Syau Wen and she would throw up all the milk she had swallowed. All the hard work was in vain. She had to start from the beginning again.

From no experience at all only based on those two sets of books, Yu-Wen made it. She and Syau Wen went through the hottest days in summer and bed hygienic condition. Even the doctors would not sure that a baby like Syau Wen could be survived. Syau Wen kept on growing safely. It was a miracle to Yu Wen. Her heart was filled with thanksgiving to heaven and the people around her.  On top of all the worried was her baby could be exchanged by her mother. Many timed she woke up at midnight to check and make sure if her “tiny old deity of longevity” was OK!

–to be continued.

  1. Smallpox vaccine and The  Deadly Enteritis–  is on the way

13. Garlic and Steamed bun

Dz Yun got a job as a teacher before they married. After his honeymoon, he went back to work.  One day, Yu-Wen++ at home alone. Sitting in the wicker chair enjoying the embroidered Phoenix and the peony on the window light pink curtain. She appreciated their harmonious colors and the exquisite needlework very much.

“That’s right! I’m going to buy some cloth with the same color as the curtain. I’ll make a tablecloth and embroider the Phoenix and peony on it.”  She looked around the room. Smiled from the bottom of her heart. Her new home was not big. A small living room and a small bedroom about the same size. Two wicker chairs with a small tea table in between placed next to the only window in the living room. An enamel inlay vase with roses in it sat on the tea table. Yu-Wen made herself a cup of jasmine tea sat next to it.  Enjoying the fragrance of the jasmine tea and the sweetness of the roses. Yu Wen ‘s heart was filled with sweet warmness. This is her home! The home of Dz Yun and hers.

Suddenly there was some knocking on the door.  Yu-Wen walked to the door and saw a stranger stood in the doorway.  And said: “Please, may I ask is Mrs. Ho home?”

Yu-Wen heard that he was asking for “Mrs. Ho”. She thought: “My mother-in-law is at Ho-Nan. It is so far away from here. Why is this young man asking for her?” She was just about to say: “Mrs. Ho doesn’t live here.” Then she realized she is “the” Mrs. Ho!

That stranger told Yu Wen that he is coming to collect the window curtains. Today is the due day of the one month rent. What a surprise! Those beautiful window curtains were rented!?

While Yu Wen was watching the stranger taking those beautiful curtains down the windows, optimistic Yu Wen thought:”Good! It saved all my trouble to look for the right kind of cloth for a tablecloth. And it will save me money too! Without window curtains, the room looks brighter.”

While she was thinking about what had just happened, Yu-Wen laughed at herself. She could never imagine that window curtains can be rented. Is there anything else rented in this room? The world full of all kinds of business. All you need is hard working, you can always make a living.  You would never be starved.

At the beginning of Yu Wen’s married life, she didn’t know how to cook. All she knew was to make dumplings. Back home, at each Chinese New Year Eve all the women in the household, old or young, should go to the kitchen to help to make dumplings. Dumpling is symbolic the shoe-shaped gold. Women were helping the family to make money for the coming new year!  From making the dough,  preparing the stuffing for the dumplings, to roll out the dumpling wrappers with a small roller, rape the stuffing with the dough rappers and boil them. At her new home, you would see dumplings on the table almost every day!   When Dz Yun was teaching at the school, Yu-Wen usually bought some steamed buns(with no stuffing) for her lunch. She smashed the garlic mixed them with salt and sesame oil. She tore the buns into small pieces. One by one she dipped them into the smashed garlic and eat.  They were very tasty. She wondered why didn’t she ever ate at like this back at her home. The smashed garlic became the main dish on their table every day!  Yu-Wen never thought that garlic would play a very important role in saving her life. The garlic cured her Tuberculosis.

It was so many years later, Yu-wen had non-stopping coughing. She was worried that her Tuberculosis was back. After the X-Ray, the doctor told Yu Wen her coughing was because of bronchitis. And also the doctor found some calcified spots on her lungs. He asked if Yu Wen had Tuberculosis in the past? He was interested to know what kind of medication did she take? The doctor’s questions reminded her that was the garlic which saved her life.

To be continued- – -14. The Ugly Baby Deity Longevity– is on the way.


 

12. The Marriage

Now the whole Lyan’s residence was decorated for the big event. Joy mood everywhere. Everyone was excited about this coming up the wedding for the only daughter of the Lyan’s.

But Yu Wen was suffering from cognitive dissonance. She was very sick. Her head was stuffed with cotton. Dreaming day and night. In her vision, everything was like a shadow. Indistinctly her father touched her forehead.  She saw Dz Yun’s face was flushed with excitement. Wong Ma’s worried face……..

Seemingly Yu Wen was watching a show. The actors were running on and off the stage. An instant later she was on the stage. Like a puppet, Wong Ma picked her up from the chair and hold her arm up to let the tailor measure her for her wedding gown.  She wasn’t sure whether everything truly happened or not.

When the time for Yu Wen was about to say farewell to her parents, she kneeled down on her knees. She saw her father’s red eyes. Her mother’s long face still looked the same as she saw lately.

Dimly Yu Wen was embraced. Who embraced her? Then someone assisted her into the wedding car. Everything she was familiar with began to withdraw. The gate of her home closed her car and disappeared. Tears running down her cheeks.

“Wong Ma! Wong Ma?” she called out half dreamingly.”Where is Woman Ma?” Yu Wen was looking for the one who loved her so dearly.

Someone said in her ears: “My lady, Madam Lyan sent Wong Ma to work in the kitchen from now on.  Actually, Madam Lyan was going to dismiss Wong Ma. She said since you are married, Wong Ma is no longer needed in this household. But Master Lyan remember all the good care that Wong Ma have had with you. He kept her working in the kitchen.” Speechlessly with a broken heart, Yu Wen fell back into the set. Her vision got more blurred.

The time was frozen and went backward in the car.

Dimly Yu Wen saw herself was playing in the courtyard with Wong Ma, but the everything she saw seemed so far away. Then the vision changed, she saw people in and out her room, all of a sudden she heard some uproar laughter and people fell down on the floor. These people were trying to pick up a big trunk from the floor. They all knew that Yu Wen was the only daughter of the Lyan’s.  Her dowries must be rich and valuable. This trunk should very heave and filled-up with jewelers, antiques, and thousands of pieces of silver coins. They picked up the trunk with all their strength. Up the trunk flew into the air! They couldn’t keep their balance and fell down to the floor. First was shocked with surprise. Then they laughed.  They would never believe that there were only some clothes that Yu Wen’s wears every day and a cloth brush.

Then the time flew back to the night before the marriage:

That night was so quiet. Yu Wen was sitting next to the table absent-mindedly. She could hear her own heavy breathing and her coughs. This was the last night at home for Yu Wen. When will she be back? ………………….

Wong Ma stood next to Yu Wen, patting on her back. Trying to ease off her lady’s coughs. Wong Ma’s tears were flowing in her eyes. This lady is with her ever since she was a baby. She breastfed her until she was almost two years old. She taught her to say “Ma”, “pa”. She watched her from crawling to stepped out her first baby step. She comforted Yu Wen when she had some hard times. She even dressed Yu Wen every morning until now. But after tomorrow, the girl she took as her very own daughter will be departed from her forever………………

Suddenly the door opened. In came Mrs. Lyan assisting with her maid. Yu Wen stood up right away. Walking wobblingly towards her mother. She poured some tea into a cup and handed to her mother with both hands. She was so touched that her mother could come in to see her the night before she left home. Her mother forgave her!

 

Mrs. Lyan accepted the tea from Yu Wen’s hands and sipped a little, She said in a cold and calm voice:”En! The tea is cold!’ Then she said with her eyes looking in the air:”Last night I was playing mahjong with some friends. Unfortunately, I  lost all my money. I don’t want to upset your father. Could I borrow some of your dowries to pay back the debts? I know that your father gave you lots of expensive jewelers and thousands of pieces of silver coins. Maybe with your dowries, I can get some good luck from the happiness of your wedding, so that I may win back what I’ve lost. But I’ll pay you back later.”

Mrs. Lyan didn’t wait for an answer, she told her maid to open that big trunk and took all the jewelers, antiques and the money.

Wong Ma couldn’t keep quiet any longer. She kneeled down on her knees and cried out:”Please! madam, please! Leave some for your daughter. Please! You took everything away from my poor lady, what would it be for her future.” Yu Wen stood there without any word or any tears.

Mrs. Lyan did not pay any attention to Wong Ma. Proudly she walked out of the room with her head up.

Thus how Yu Wen stepped into her married life with only some used daily clothes and a brush. A brand new life awaits her.

Mrs. Lyan had never ever mentioned about anything that she’d said that night. Yu Wen never mentioned to her father about what had happened the night before her wedding.  There was never had anything special happened that night.

That brush was a very good one. It had traveled with Yu Wen so many years from places to places. Even till forty years later, only the wood handle that holds the hair looking old and lost its brilliance.  But it didn’t lose any of its hair.

To be continued.

—Chapter 13. Garlic and steamed bun– is on the way—-

 

 

11. The Engagement

 

Since Mr. Lyan promised the marriage, D z Yun started to prepare for the engagement.

The engagement was very different from nowadays.

First of all, De Yun must have a matchmaker to present his engagement proposal.

He asked Uncle Bu to be the matchmaker to go to the Lyan’s residence to proposed the engagement for him. Uncle Bu was a close friend of Mr. Lyan. He visited Mr. Lyan frequently. At the Lyan’s, Uncle Bu acquainted with Dz Yun. He was of the opinion that Dz Yun was an honest and gentle boy. He understood  Dz Yun and Yu-Wen loved each other. He was willing to be the matchmaker.

The Matchmaker played a crucial role in those days. Without a matchmaker, there would no marriage.

Only for preparing the engagement there were three steps:

Step 1: For the boy’s side —  he should have a matchmaker who should know both persons well and willing to be involved with this engagement.

Step 2: First of all, the matchmaker should bring a piece of red paper with the boy’s birthday and eight characters of a horoscope to the girl’s parents and an engagement ring. The girl’s parents will take boy’s birthday and eight characters to a fortuneteller to be checked to see if this boy’s date of birth and eight characters of a horoscope would match with their daughter’s. If there is no problem and also they think this boy may be an ideal son-in-law to be, they would accept the ring and the red paper.  In return, they would give their daughter’s birth date and eight characters of a horoscope to the matchmaker to bring to the boy’s parents. The boy’s parents will do the same as well.

.     Step 3:  After everything was OK, the matchmaker would prepare two pieces of formal “Big Dragon and Phoenix Card” for each party. Those Cards carries both boy and girl’s birth dates and eight horoscopes. The one for the girl’ parents was printed with a pair of Phoenix on the very right side of the card.   The one for the boy’s parents was printed with a pair of Dragon on the left side of the card.  These “Big Dragon and Phoenix Cards” were really big! They were about one foot long and three feet wide solid red silk cloth framed with gold thread.

Until both cards were accepted,  the marriage ceremony is awaiting!  By now, if any of the two party refused to accept the big red card, the engagement is canceled. There will be no wedding!

Yu-Wen valued the Small Card and the Big Dragon and Phoenix Card so much. Because of the war, her family moved from place to place. The lost many valuables but these two cards always with her. Until they settled down in Taiwan, She hung them on the wall in her bedroom by her bedside. Along with her mother-in-law’s portrait. The person who loved her so dearly!

Small Dragon and Phoneix Card

Big Dragon and Phoneix Card

 

–To be continued–

12. The Marriage

is on the way

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

5. Lade Head and Black Bean Eeyes

One of Mr. Lyan’s sisters lived close by. She married Mr. Byan who was a descendant of a Manchurian lord. Their only son, Byan Shu Syun, was a little younger than Yu Wen.  Mrs. Byan loved Yu Wen so dearly. Very often she invited Yu Wen to visit them. This younger cousin of Yu Wen loved her as much as his beloved older sister.

The alter in Byan’s main room was decorated a little different. At the center the altar instead of a tablet with the name of the deceased ancestors, there was a ladle. Yu-Wen always wondering why don’t they do the same way as the Hans? Why uncle Byan’s ancestor was a ladle that could be used to pick up the water? Wong Ma told her that was called “Ladle Head Black, Bean Eyes”!  Why? Yu-Wen was very curious about it. Wong Ma also told her that Mrs. Lyan was a Manchurian princess all right, but she married to a westernized husband who doesn’t think it is necessary to do so.

Therefore every time when Yu Wen visit her aunt, she always looked at the alter curiously, wished that if she can somehow to get to the altar to have a good close look at the “Ladle Head Black Bean Eyes”.

One day she got a chance, Her uncle was not home, her aunt was in her room working on her needlework. Yu Wen and her cousin were lingering in the main room.  Yu-Wen was a little bit older than Shu Syun,  she always acted like a commander to Shu Syun,  Shu Syun had no other siblings. He loved this commander cousin as well as his elder sister. Whatever Yu Wen told him to do, he always did so.  Now Yu Wen grabbed this good opportunity. She told Shu Syun that she wanted to climb up to the altar and ask him to help her to move a chair closer the altar. So she could climb up to the altar.

“What? Climb up to the altar? If my dad knows it I’ll get in big trouble.” Shu Syun whispered to his commander.

“OK! I’ll do it myself.” Yu-Wen began to push the chair as she was saying.

All the furniture in this main room were made of red sandalwood.  They were very heavy. Too heavy for a little child like Yu Wen. Her poor little follower couldn’t stop her. Helplessly he joined her. When the chair was close enough for YU Wen, quickly she climbed up and stood up on the chair. The altar was too high for her. She tiptoed on her feet. But all she could see was only a part of the of the ladle. That was not enough to satisfy her curiosity.  She leaned her body onto the altar. She thought she could climb up to the altar as easily as she climbed up to the chair. To stand on the altar she could see the whole thing. But before she knew it her feet followed her body and left the chair behind. There was no spot for her to land her feet on so she can move upward.  The next thing Yu Wen notice was her legs were dangling in the air!

“Oh! My goodness! Oh! My good heavens! You’ll fall off from up there. What am I going to do?  You may be killed if you fall down to the ground. Please come down. Please, I beg you, My sweet, sweet sister! My queen! My chief commander…..”  Shu Syun cried out frighteningly.

“OK! OK! I’m trying. Don’t you see I’m trying? But…. where did the chair go?” Yu-Wen shouted back. It seemed that the alter growing higher after YU Wen leaned onto it. And the chair ran away…..! It wasn’t very easy for Yu Wen to lean onto the altar at the first place, and now, it seemed there were ten feet farther from the chair than before. The chaotic noise disturbed Mrs. Byan from her needlework. She stepped out of her room and saw this funny sight!

“Well,  well, my little monkey niece!  What’s all this big commotion?”

Her son tried to protect himself and said: “My sister wanted to see the [Ladle head Black Bean Eye], I told her not to. But she insisted.”

“En! I can see that!” She walked to Yu Wen and picked her up. She held Yu Wen up high as close as she could to the “Ladle head Black Bean Eye”. And said: “How is that? Is this close enough for you to have a good look at it?”

“Wow! It is true! It is a ladle. Hey! there are really two black beans on it too!”Yu-Wen exclaimed with excitement! “But………….. how come that uncle’s ancestor is a ladle?”

“No! That was not quite right.” Mrs. Byan laughed. She continued:  “It was told us that our ancestor Nurhachi was killed on the battlefield. People could not find his body but they found his head only. Therefore his coming generations use a ladle instead of a shrine and worship him.”

What so ever her aunt said sounded reasonable to her when she was a little girl. But at school Yu Wen learned in history class that Nurgaci’s death was because of the illness. Which one is the truth, which one is false? It’s hard to tell.  Anyway, her uncle was a descendant of Nurgaci Ai-Xin-Jue-Luo. Nurgaci was the first emperor of Qing.  Ai-Xin-Jue-Luo was the emperor’s surname. But why did they use black beans for eyes? Yu-Wen had never done any further research.

— To be continued.

 6. Strict Mother is on the way is in the way

 

4. Fireworks and others

Tyan-Chyau was a very popular place in Pei-King even nowadays. It was named Tyan-Chyau (Bridge to Heaven) was in the old days, at Chinese new year, the emperor would pass this bridge to Tyan Tan( God’s Temple) to worship God.

Ever since the new government in power, they filled up this area with rocks and dirt. Many small businesses moved in. As well as variety shows and all kinds of Chinese folk arts! People love to visit Tyan-Chyau especially during Chinese New Year season. People would not miss the fireworks at Dung An-Men( The Gate of  Peace at East) as well.

That kind of Bridge to Heaven was very different from nowadays. After the fireworks shoot into the air, not only exploded into thousands of sparkles. Those sparkles may suddenly be turned into an ax, a cup, or even a war chariot, etc….

 

Yu Wen told her children the best firework she had ever watched was when she was about 6 years old. That was at Dung An Men( The Gate of  Peace at the East) during one Chinese New Year Season.

That evening. one of Lyan’s long-term worker carried her on his shoulder because she was too short to see anything in the middle of the crowd.

Yu-wen remembered that:

After she heard a loud:「Bang!」 There was a big fireball floating up into the sky. Suddenly the fireball popped into a knight sating on the horseback. It floated in the air for a little while and starting to fade away. Those fading sparklers in the sky changed into a summer-house. When the summer-house starting to fade away, there was a big cluster of grapes shown in the air. One by one, the grape burst.  Then sky returned it’s darkness again!

This kind of old technique and skill of making those kinds of fireworks were failed to handed down from past generations.  Yu Wen had never seen anything similar to that kind of fireworks the rest of her life. Every time when she was telling this story to her children and grandchildren, they thought that was a magical cartoon story.

*       *        *       *        *

At tyan-chyau, there were varieties of booths for snacks, pastries.etc. [Chwei Tang Ren] was one of Yu Wen’s favorite.

“Chwei-Tang-Ren” is one of a rear Chinese folk art. You may see it at Tyan-Chyau if you have a chance to visit Pei-Jing. The owner of “Chwei Tang Ren” put some brown sugar unto a small clay pot which was placed on a small charcoal stove. He stirred the sugar with a small bamboo stick until the sugar melted into thick liquid.  He will pick up some of the melted sugar, poked a tiny copper pipe into the middle of that small chunk of sugar and blow. At the same time with his two magical hands, he shaped the soft sugar into a different kind as he desired, mostly would be some figurines well known to every Chinese. Such as “Ju Ba Jye(The big fat pig),  Swen Wu Kung (The Rocky Monkey), Mi Le Fu (The Buddha Maitreya) etc…. You name it, he’ll make it.  Mi Le Fu was always Yu Wen’s first choice. Because, each time when she pushed its belly button on its big fat belly, some honey will drop out from the bottom of the belly. After all the honey were gone, then Yu Wen would finish up the Buddha! Sometimes the big fat Buddha was not enough for her, Yu Wen would ask for a Big Fat Pig.

*        *        *        *        *

Once at Tyan Chyau, there was some happening shocked You Wen that she could not forget her whole life:

Yu Wen saw so many people at the foot of the tall city wall. She squeezed herself through the people. There she saw a tall young man standing in the middle. His upper body was naked. He was ready to perform some very special Chinese Kung Fu, Gecko Kung Fu. After he saluted the people with cupping one hand in the other in front of his chest, he turned around facing the city wall and his back toward the crowd. Beginning with a few steps of quick running, that tall young man started trotting on the city wall as if he was trotting on the ground until he almost reached the to top of the wall. Suddenly a armed soldier showed up and aimed him with his rifle.  The young man turned his body over and jumped down to the ground quickly as a flash. People applaud loudly and shouted with “GOOD!” It tells the performance was really out of the running sth. Coins throwing on to the ground like popcorns.

*          *          *          *          *

There was one particular toy that Yu Wen always wanted to play but never dare to try. It was called “Poo-Dern,  Poo-Dern”. It was made of very, very thin glass, shapped as a calabash. At the bottom of the calabash was especially thin. When you blow and inheal from it’s other end slightly, quick and short, the air will moves the bottom in and out, which makes a very cheerful sound as “Poo-Dern, Poo-Dern”. Once Yu Wen saw a little boy was play with “Poo-Dern”. He was blowing a little too hard. The bottom part of the calabash blew off into small pieces and flying all the directions. Some of the broken pieces flew onto the boy’s face who stood next to him. That poor injured boy screamed out loudly and blooded all over his face.

Wang Ma told Yu Wen: “Fortunately, he was blowing. if he was inhaling, the tiny broken glass pieces could get into his throat. It could be too late to send him to the hospital.” That is why there is a nursery rhyme, which says:[Poo-Dern, Poo-Dern. Two pennies could cost your life.] ” My lady should never play with it.”

—To be continued.

  1. Ladle head and Black Bean Eyes is on the way.

3.Valuables from the Imperial family  

(From now on, I will post one new chapter every Monday. Hope you’ll enjoy it! Your comments will be highly appreciated!

All the stories in this book have truly happened. They are not make-believe! stories!)

One day, Lord Jin Sz came to visit the Lyan’s . He dressed up with the traditional garments, long gown and a mandarin jacket over it, a rather formal dress. The end of the sleeves was wide like a funnel. While the adults were chatting and drinking tea, Yu Wen noticed that one of the ends of the sleeve of her uncle’s garment was moving up and down.

“The sleeve could not move by itself. There must be something in there, some kind of living creature in it.” Yu Wen thought.

She was so curious and opened her eye big and wide staring at it. She wished that it would come out so she can see it. But it just didn’t want to show its face. Yu Wen couldn’t hold any longer. She sneaked behind her uncle’s back. Before anyone noticed, Yu Wen jumped out from the back of her uncle and shouted at the sleeve in her loudest  Suddenly, out it jumped a tiny little dog barking with a tiny but rather thrill sound. The dog was really very small, as small as your palm. The sudden appearance of the tiny dog startled Yu Wen.

“Wow!” She jumped up on her two feet and shouted:「My heavens! It’s a dog!」

After she put herself back into one piece, she gently touched the tiny dog. It was real, not a toy! It even sniffed on her fingers. Yu Wen found there was a tiny silver chain chained the dog to her uncle’s wrist.

The more Yu Wen looked at that tiny dog, the deeper she fell in love with it. She asked her uncle, “Can I have it?”

Before any more requests, her uncle gave himself an excuse and put his beloved pet into his sleeve. Left quickly.

Yu Wen couldn’t get what she wanted, she started to cry out loud. Nobody can stop her from crying but Mr. Lyan.

“My child, Let me tell you something. This kind of dog is called Sleeve dog -Tibetan Spaniel. People put it inside their sleeves or the undershirt pocket when they go out. This kind of dog was a tribute to the Emperor, Very unusual and precious. It is extremely difficult to take care of. If it was in your hands, surely it will die within two days. We’d better get you something else to play with.”

“Do you remember that once I had a small Aye-aye, the cute little creature? ” Mr. Lyan went on: “It slept in my brush pen pot, looked so cute! When I needed to make some ink, I knock on the holder with my brush pen, it would jump out, picked up the ink stick and started to ground on the ink tray until I say “Stop”. Then it stood aside next to the ink tray, looking around with his big sparkling eyes. If it saw an ant creep nearby, it would catch it and eat it. After I left the desk, it would lick the left over ink in the tray until the ink was all gone.”

“Yes! Yes! But how come I don’t see it anymore?” Yu Wen asked anxiously.

“It got sick one day. I took it to a veterinarian. But they couldn’t help much and it dead. I say, my child, tomorrow I’ll find something else that you’ll have more fun to play with it.”

By now, Yu Wen smiled through tears, She knew for sure that whatever her father’s promise will always be accomplished.

Early next morning, Wong Ma wake up Yu Wen excitedly, “Hurry up, My lady, Master Lyan was asking for you. It seemed that he has something for you.”

Yu Wen remembered that her father had promised her yesterday that he will look for something that will be more interested than that tiny dog. Now that must be it! She jumped out of her bed. Quickly dressed up with Wong Ma’s help. To brush her teeth? No ! That takes too much time! Gargle and rinse would be faster. Without any response to Wong Ma’s words, she wiped her face with the wet towel handed to her by Wong Ma.

“My lady, My lady! You have to sit down and let me comb your hair. You can’t go to the master’s room like a lunatic! Madam  Lyan will fire me out!” For Wong Ma, Yu Wen would do anything!

Yu Wen dashed out of the door. She wanted to go straight across the court yard to her parents’ room! Oh! Those red handrails at the pathways! Why should there be any? They used to be beautiful and suggestive poetry or painting to her. But not now! Who cares about the muddy grassland. So she skipped the pathways and ran around the pond. Like a flash! There she stopped at the corridor where her parents’ room was. Usually, if she walkㄎ as a lady should, it took at least 2-3 minutes walking from her room to where she stood now. Today she ran like a rabbit, jumped like a monkey, it only took her less than 30 seconds!

She stamped her feet on the ground trying to get rid of some dirt from her beautiful embroidered shoes.  With a deep breath to put herself together again. Then, she knocked on the door and said out loud: “Mom, Dad, your daughter is here to greet you Good morning .”

Mr. Lyan opened the door looking at the huffing and puffing young lady. He looked down and saw her muddy embroidered shoes. He smiled and said kindly:”My! Oh, My! That’s how you came here so soon. Where is your manner, en? my young lady? Look at your muddy shoes! Shame on you!” Mr. Lyan handed Yu Wen a cloth bag and said: “ Give this to Wong Ma, She’ll tell you what to do.”

Behind Mr. Lyan, Yu Wen saw her mother was staring at her with a frowning face. She quickly said thanks to her father and went back her room. But this time she dareㄎ not to take the short cut anymore. She walked like a well-educated lady.  She knew her mother must be watching behind her.

Yu Wen was the only girl in the family, her father’s only pearl. Mr. Lyan spoiled her. But her mother, Jin Shr want to shape her with good manners as well as a real princess. Hopelessly Yu Wen inherited the Mongolian’s free and easy as well as her father.

Wong Ma opened the bag exclaimed with surprise:”My goodness gracious! What a Rarity!” Yu Wen couldn’t figure out why was it a rarity? They were but only 4 small paper figurines made with very thin bamboo sticks. One small copper plate and a small wooden stick.

“No! My lady, You know originally this one was one of the treasures in the treasure pavilion in the royal families. I believe it was a special gift from some Lord. ”

“What is a pavilion?” Yu Wen asked. “Where is this pavilion? Could you take me there someday?”

“No. My lady, the pavilion is not a place. It was a cabinet where the royal families kept their most valuable treasures. They could be some very special agate or jade sculptures, rings, necklace or pines or bracelet. Or the very original painting and calligraphy, or mini Imperial Collection of The Four Books, or some valuable rare toys. Such as this one Lord Lyan gave you.” Wong Ma kept on:”Usually this kind of pavilion has a secret door. It can be opened only if you can find the secret switch. After it was opened, the cabinet can be circled around. Therefore you won’t miss anything in it. it’s an unrivaled sight!” Yu Wen opened her eyes wide. She was enchanted by what she was listening. Speechlessly.

Wong Ma pointed at the articles that Mr. Lyan gave to Yu Wen and said:”These are called 8 Hummers. Because these 4 people each one holding two balls shaped hummers, They were weapons. These weapons all looked different from each other. These people were ancient heroes long times ago. Look at this one with golden hammers, his name is Li Yuan Ba. This one with silver hammers his name is Pei Yuan Ching. This one with copper hummers is Chin Chung. This one with steel hummers is Lyang Shr Tai. Now watch! I am going to put them up standing in this copper plate and….” As Wong Ma was talking, she picked up the small wooden stick and slightly knocking on the edge of the copper plate. Magically the four paper made figurines started to move around in the plate, waving their hummers. When two of them getting very close to another one, they knock on each other, one of them would be knocked down and fall down in the plate.Then she put it back standing up at the plate again.

“Oh! Oh! My goodness! This is really fun.”Yu Wen was thrilled. She jumped up and down, clapping her hands and laughing! She grabbed the little wooden stick from Wong Ma’s hand and did as Wong Ma was doing until there was only one left standing on the plate. She raised her hands up high and shouted; “Hurrah! Here is the winner!” Then she put the 4 of them back again standing on the plate and started the game over and over and over again. If it wasn’t Wong Ma calling her for lunch, Yu Wen could play with it until midnight! These 8 hummers kept her company through many lonely childhood days. Yu Wen was going to take them with her when she was getting married. But her mother took them away along with many other precious things her father gave her, the night before her marriage.

At Yu Wen’s old age, when she was telling the story about the “8 hummers” to her grand children, one of them, a grandson was so enchanted as much as she was so long ago. This little one couldn’t help but asked her: “Granny! Granny! I want one too! Where Can we buy it? Can we get one here in Taiwan? Please! Granny!”

2. The Royle Pride

Yu Wen was born in Pei-Jing, China,1914. The beginning years of a new democratic government, The Republic of China. The glory of Ching Dynasty faded. There were many cultural or historical relics, rare treasures from Ching’s palace or homes of officials of Ching government flowed away to the market.

All the relatives of Mrs. Lyan’s were born with blue blood. One of them, Lord Jin Sz told Yu Wen a true story which she could never get over with. It was a downgrade lord who was so sensitive about his reputation.

One morning, Lord Jin Sz Yewas strolling with his bird’s cage along with a famous temple, Hu-Gwo-Sz in Pai-jing. There were all kinds of small business around the temple. stories, tea huts, and small restraints. People loved to hang around there, shopping, eating and chatting with people, acquaintances or strangers. To make a day fly-by with pleasure.

Jin Szn Ye walked into a tea hut for some breakfast. Sitting behind him, there was a poor tattered old jobless lord. It was very noisy at that tea hut; some were calling for the waiters to take orders, some were asking for the prices. Friends talking to each other across several tables. Birds twittering in their cages restlessly……. All of a sudden, he heard a loud slam coming from the table behind him. Someone shouted: “It’s too loud, Be silent!” Everybody stopped talking and turn around to look at the table behind him. Jin-Sz-Ye saw a jobless lord, standing at the table with his dignity. Even he was a jobless lord; he still is yesterdays majesty. The hut was as silent as the night. The people at the tea hut started eating or drinking quietly.

Jin Sz Ye stood up trying to calm the old man down. But he found out that the old jobless lord was wetting his pointer with his saliva from his mouth trying to pick up some sesames seeds which jumped out of the cracks in the table, due to the force of his slam.

That was a sad story. But to a little innocent girl, Yu Wen, around five or six years old, she could never understand the ways of the world. She thought the old jobless lord was so funny. She was even imitating his action, banging on the table and made lots of loud noise until Wang Ma stopped her.

But the royal pride deeply planted in Yu Wen blood. No matter in what kind of circumstances or situation, she was a princess.  As well as the old teachings:”The Three Obeys ” and “The Four Virtues”.

The Humble Beginning

Yu Wen’s father, Mr. Lyan was a descendant of a Mongolian prince. Inherited Mongolians’ special personality, bold and generous, easy and out-going. Her Mother, Jin Shr, was a lineal descendant related to Qing’s.  If the Qing was in power she should be princesses, a very traditional Manchurian. She married Mr. Lyan, they had two sons and one girl, Jen Dung, Fu Sing and Yu Wen. Yu Wen was the only girl, the pearl of the family.

Mr. Lyan was educated in Japan, the University of Tokyo. Because of his education back ground, he operated an arsenal in Pei-king. That was during the beginning of The new republican government was newly established. Political affairs were very unstable. The current brought out warlords, those did not agree with the policy of the new government. In older someday they could take over the whole country and build a better one. First of all, They have to enlarge their own territories by taking lands from the other . Wars happened here and there in China. Munitions were needed between new government and the warlords. Mr. Lyan’s arsenal was mutually benefited.

Due to the business, Mr. Lyan was operating, the Lyan family was courteously treated by both government and the warlords. The Lyans were able to keep their splendid house with courtyards which were located at Bei-Wu Alley in Pei-king. It was not as big and beautiful as a prince’s house, but certainly, it was very unusual.

A pair of stone lions stood on each side of the main entrance. The two doors at the main entrance were tall and wide. Painted with red. A  copper lion head with a copper ring in its mouth on each door for visitors to knock.  When the loud knocking noise sound, the doorman would know someone is coming.

The Lyan’s residence was two-hall building. The rooms around the first courtyard were for menials and long-term workers.

The houses around the second courtyard were the masters and guests. The second court yard was a beautiful garden.  A man-made pond with rockeries in it.  The pond was surrounded by beautiful flowers. Eaves are long and wide. If you place a manh-jong table under the eaves with 4 people playing at the table, they would not get wet by the heavy rain. Pathways with red railings winding in the garden to connect each side of the house. Some of the Ancient Bricks inlaid on the pathway were carved with moral stories. You may see these special bricks in the gardens of the old residences or rich families in China. But after the downfallen of Qing, most of the decedents of the royal families could not adjust the new age and they had never worked in their whole life. All they do was; when food was ready, they open their mouths. When clothes handed over to them, they stick out their hands. And spending. Gradually they used up all the money.  To hold out their lives, first, they sold the furniture, valuable Paintings, curious, Clothes. Until there was nothing else to sell. They dug out those Ancient Bricks to exchange for some food. They never know the true value of those Ancient Bricks.   The Lyan residence was taken over by the Japanese one year after they took over Pei-King.

When Yu Wen was a little girl, she often asked Wong -Ma, her nursing mother to tell her those stories carved on those Ancient Bricks. The loyalty, filially, benevolence and righteousness were deeply planted in her thought.

In the second yard, there was a man-made little hill with a secret door, a cave behind it. In the cave, there was a stone table. The cave was built for storing ice for the hot summer. In winter, The river was frozen.  People cut the ice into big chunks and sell them. The Lyans always store them in that cave.  Used them in summer to bring the room temperature down, cold drinks and cooling fruits.  As a naughty child, Yu Wen loved to ask Wong Ma to be with her to explore the cave. She believed there must be some kind of secret path that could lead to somewhere. Such as to someone’s country side, or another mansion, or even could get out the city. She often knocked the rock on the wall to see if she could be lucky enough to open up a door to lead the way to somewhere. But the dimness, wet and coldness in the air for poor Wong Ma’s arthritis knees, they could never be able to accomplish the adventure.

There was various kind of flowers in front of the artificial hill. Yu Wen loved the nature since she was a little girl. She appreciated the beauty of nature. Often being attracted by a small flower or insects. She loved the beauty of butterflies or a bug. Whenever she found something special, she would ask Wong Ma to help her to bring it home to study it. Sometimes even use it as a model pattern for her embroidery. That was why her needle works were so different from others.