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.