C-3 The Princesses Etiquette
Next morning before Mrs. Lyan’s teaching, she said: “I was going to teach you the basic princesses etiquette earlier. But your father was 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 any one to say our girl is not well educated. Listen to me!, don’t you dare to tell any rubbish to you father.”
Yu Wen dare not to react to stem the tide nor to answer back. She knew her mother would not tolerate with anything that disgrace her. What had happened the other day was really embarrassed her mother.
Yu Wen stood there obediently. Doing whatever her mother told her to and whichever way her mother posted her she followed. Doing the movements one by one as her mother told her
After her mother demonstrated the complicate processes of the princesses etiquette, Yu Wen understood what Wong Ma was trying to tell her. –Your body well balanced when squat 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 lowered 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 stood back up gently. Mrs. Lyan’s gesture looked so graceful lofty and dignified.
But it was not a east task at all. Especially for a youngster. When Yu Wen was going to squat down, not only her upper body swayed her legs wobbled too. She fell down and sat on to the ground. She couldn’t help 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, which brought her tears down. 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 are working on it.” Mrs. Lyan said to Yu Wen with a cold voice. Then she turn to Wang Ma: “Wong Ma, watch your lady when she practice every morning until she’ll not 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 robs were some refreshing medication for Yu Wen , which not only eased off the pain on her forehead it also warmed up her heart. But 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. Each time 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 while the other ladies should. 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, specially for her age! Sometimes she had to be assisted by Wong Ma before she fell on to the ground.
Yu Wen didn’t understand why each time when she was trying to squat down, a childhood memory always came up to her. When Yu Wen was 5 or younger, she saw some ladies wearing *”Flower pot high heels”* embroidered shoes. When they walk with them, they looked so gracefully and feminine. Very pretty and charming. Once she sneaked into a dresser. She found a pair of those kinds of shoes. She put them on! While she was trying to stand up in them, the Flower pot at her soles stood right in the middle of the arch of her feet. That made her dizzy and lost her balance. Fortunately she grab the corner of a table close by before she felt down and broken into pieces.
“Flower pot high heels” looked as a very small up-side-down flower pot. they were hollow in the middle. The small side attached to middle of the sole. The bottom of the bigger side were 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 who wears them, 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 republican .
If Mrs. Lyan was around while Yu Wen was practicing the princesses etiquette, 8 out of 10 times, Yu Wen would get a lump on her forehead. There were countless lumps comes and goes before Wong Ma could completely stopped rubbing on Yu Wen’s forehead. Yu Wen was so relieved before those strong knocks could soften her poor forehead becoming a big well ripped tomato.
Sometimes Mr. Lyan came to Yu Wen’s room to give her some comfort. Though only tears and complains he would get from Yu Wen, but those fatherly love Yu Wen treasured her whole life.
From Mr. Lyan, Yu Wen learned that there were many different kinds of court etiquettes. For unmarried girls, married women, men, servants and when officials in the feudal times meeting with the emperor. 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 it anymore.” Yu Wen would never realize that how much it could benefit her in the future.