A Dream of Red Mansions – Chapter 85

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Chapter 85

Jia Zheng Is Promoted to the Rank

of Vice-Minister

Xue Pan Is Involved in Another

Manslaughter Case

As Concubine Zhao in her room was raging at Jia Huan in the outer room, he suddenly blurted out:

“All I did was upset the skillet and spill some medicine I didn’t kill the brat! Why should everyone curse me as if I were a monster? Do you want to hound me to death? Some day I’ll kill that little bitch, and let’s see what you do then! Just tell them to watch out.”

His mother hurried out to stop his mouth.

“Still raving!” she cried. “Do you want them to kill me first?”

Mother and son wrangled for a time. And Xifeng’s taunts so rankled with Concubine Zhao that she sent her no further condolences. Although in a few days Qiaojie recovered, their two households were on even worse terms than before.

One day, Lin Zhixiao reported to Jia Zheng, “Today is the birthday of the Prince of Beijing. What are your instructions, sir?”

“Just send presents as we did in the past, after letting Lord She know.”

The steward accepted these orders and went to carry them out.

Presently Jia She came over and they decided to take Jia Zhen, Jia Lian and Baoyu with them to offer congratulations. The others took this as a matter of course, but Baoyu was most eager to see more of the prince whose distinguished appearance and manners had so impressed him. He changed hastily into ceremonial dress and went with his father to the princes mansion, where Their Lordships sent in their cards, then waited to be summoned. Soon a eunuch came out, a chaplet in his hand, and beamed at the sight of them, asking:

“How are you two gentlemen?”

Jia She and Jia Zheng greeted him in return, and the three young men followed suit.

“His Highness asks you to come in,” said the eunuch.

The five of them followed him in past two gates and one court to the inner palace gate, where they halted while he went in to announce their arrival and the young eunuchs there stepped forward to greet them.

Before long, the eunuch returned to invite them in, and they followed him respectfully. The Prince of Beijing in ceremonial robes had come out to the corridor to meet them. First Their Lordships stepped forward to pay their respects, and after them Jia Zhen, Jia Lian and Baoyu.

The prince took Baoyu by the hand. “It’s so long since I saw you, he said, “I’ve been thinking of you.” With a smile he asked, “Have you kept that jade of yours safe?”

Baoyu bowed and bent one knee as he replied, “By the grace of Your Highness, yes.

“I’ve no rich fare to offer you today, but let us have a chat,” the prince proposed.

Some eunuchs raised the portiere and he led the way in, followed by Jia She’s party with bowed heads. First Jia She asked to pay homage and knelt down even while the prince was declining. Then Jia Zheng and the others made obeisance too.

As they were withdrawing respectfully, the prince ordered eunuchs to take them — all but Baoyu to join his relatives and friends and to entertain them well. He offered Baoyu a seat so that they could talk, and the boy kowtowed his thanks. Then seated on the edge of an openwork porcelain stool near the door he launched into a description of his studies and essay writing, to which the prince listened with sympathetic interest.

“Yesterday,” the prince told him after tea had been served, “Gover­nor Wu came to court and spoke of your honourable father’s probity as an examiner, and the great respect in which all the candidates held him. His Majesty asked about this when he received him, and the governor commended your father most highly. This augurs well for him.”

Baoyu who had stood to hear this replied, “Your gracious Highness and Governor Wu are most kind.”

At this point a young eunuch entered to report, “The gentlemen in the front court thank Your Highness for the feast.”

He presented the cards on which the guests paid their respects, and the prince after glancing at them handed them back, remarking with a smile:

“I have put them to undue trouble.”

“And the special meal Your Highness is conferring on Jia Baoyu is ready now.”

He received orders then to take Baoyu to a small courtyard, a charm­ing place where attendants waited on him at his meal. On his return to offer thanks, the prince spoke to him kindly again and suddenly remarked with a smile:

“Last time I was so intrigued by that jade of yours that on my return I had a replica made. I’m glad you have come today — you can take it back for your amusement.”

He made the young eunuch fetch it and gave it to Baoyu, who re­ceived it with both hands, thanked him and then withdrew. Two young eunuchs escorted him out on their master’s orders and he went back with Jia She and the rest.

While Jia She went home, Jia Zheng took the three young men to call on the old lady and tell her whom they had met in the prince’s mansion, after which Baoyu reported to his father how Governor Wu had recom­mended him to the Emperor.

“This Governor Wu is an old family friend,” observed Jia Zheng. “He is one of our sort, a man of integrity.”

After a little more casual talk the Lady Dowager urged them to go and rest. Jia Zheng took his leave but told his three juniors, who were following him to the door, to stay and keep the old lady company. Back in his room he had barely sat down when a maid announced:

“Lin Zhixiao is outside with something to report, sir.” She presented Governor Wu’s red visiting-card.

Realizing that Governor Wu had called in his absence, Jia Zheng told her to bring the steward in, and went out to the corridor to see him.

Lin Zhixiao reported, “Today Governor Wu came to call, and I told him where you had gone, sir. I also heard that a vacancy for a vice-­minister has come up in the Ministry of Works, and people outside and in the ministry are all saying that you are to be appointed, sir.”

“That remains to be seen,” replied Jia Zheng.

Lin Zhixiao reported then on a few other matters and left.

Now Baoyu, the only one of the three young men to have stayed with his grandmother, described how the prince had entertained him and dis­played the jade given him. When it had been admired by all, the old lady ordered the maids to put it away so that he would not lose it.

“Mind you keep your own jade safely,” she warned Baoyu. “Don’t mix them up!”

Taking his jade from his neck he rejoined, “This is mine — how could I lose it? They’re quite different when you compare them. Impossible to confuse them. And there’s something else I’ve been meaning to tell you, madam. The other night when I went to bed and hung my jade on the curtain, it started glowing, making the whole curtain red!”

“You’re talking nonsense again,” she said. “The valance of the canopy is red, so naturally when it catches the light the curtain seems red too.”

“No, the light was out by then. The whole room was pitch dark, and yet I saw it clearly.”

Lady Xing and Lady Wang exchanged meaning smiles.

“It’s a lucky sign,” Xifeng assured him.

“A lucky sign? What do you mean?”

“You wouldn’t understand,” said his grandmother. “You’ve had an exciting day, so go and rest now. Don’t stay here talking nonsense.

Baoyu hung around for a while before going back to the Garden, and as soon as he had gone the old lady said:

“That reminds me, when you went to see Aunt Xue did you broach that business?”

“We only went today,” replied Lady Wang, “because Xifeng was held up for two days by Qiaojie’s illness. We told Aunt Xue, and she was only too willing. However, she says she must first consult Xue Pan — as his father’s gone — and Pan’s still away from home.”

“Quite right too,” agreed the old lady. “We’d better not make it pub­lic, in that case, until Aunt Xue has decided.”

But no more of their discussion about Baoyu’s marriage.

Baoyu back in his own quarters told Xiren, “Just now my grandmother and Cousin Xifeng were talking so cryptically, I’d no idea what they meant.”

Xiren reflected, then smiled.

“I can’t guess either,” she said. “Was Miss Lin there at the time?”

“No, she hasn’t been over there recently — she’s only just left her bed.”

Just then they heard a quarrel break out in the outer room between Sheyue and Qiuwen.

“What are you two scrapping about now?” called Xiren.

“We were playing cards,” said Sheyue, coming in. “When she won she took my money, but when I won she wouldn’t pay. To make it worse, she grabbed my whole bank too.”

“What does a little money matter?” chuckled Baoyu. “Stop making such a noise, you silly things.”

The two girls went off then and sat down to sulk while Xiren helped Baoyu to bed.

Xiren had realized from Baoyu’s remark that his marriage was under discussion. She had not told him this, however, for fear that his senseless notions would make him burst out again with a flood of foolish talk. But as she too was deeply concerned about his marriage, she lay awake that night thinking and decided to go to see if Zijuan knew of any develop­ments which might shed light on the matter. The next day she rose early. Having seen Baoyu off to school, she spruced herself up and walked slowly to Bamboo Lodge. Zijuan, whom she found picking flowers, in­vited her to go in and take a seat.

“Thanks, sister, I will,” said Xiren. “Picking flowers are you? Where’s your young lady?”

“She’s just finished dressing and is waiting for her medicine to be heated.”

She led Xiren inside, where Daiyu was reading.

“No wonder you wear yourself out, miss, reading as soon as you get up,” said Xiren cheerfully. “I only wish our Master Bao would study as hard as you do!”

Daiyu smilingly put down her book. By now Xueyan had brought in a small tray on which were one cup of medicine, another of water, while a young maid behind her was holding a spittoon and rinse-bowl.

Xiren had come to size up the situation. But although she sat there for a while she found it impossible to approach the subject; and she did not like to risk upsetting Daiyu, sensitive as she was, by fishing for informa­tion. So presently she made some excuse to leave. Approaching Happy Red Court, she halted at sight of two people standing outside. One of them, spotting her, ran over and Xiren saw it was Chuyao.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“Just now Master Yun came with a note for Master Bao. He’s wait­ing here for a reply.”

“Surely you know that Master Bao goes to school every day. Why wait for a reply?”

“I told him that, but he wanted me to tell you, miss, so that you can give him an answer.

Before Xiren could make any comment she recognized the other per­son as Jia Yun, now sidling sheepishly towards her.

“Tell him I’ve got the note and I’ll give it to Master Bao later, “ she told Chuyao.

Jia Yun had been hoping to engage Xiren in conversation in order to ingratiate himself with her, but for fear of seeming presumptuous he had come over slowly. Being close enough now to hear this remark, he could hardly come any further. And as Xiren now turned her back on him and went in, he had to leave dejectedly with Chuyao.

When Baoyu came home that evening Xiren told him, “Today young Master Yun who lives in the lane called.”

“What did he want?”

“He left a note.”

“Where is it? Let me see it.”

Sheyue fetched it from the bookcase in the inner room, and Baoyu saw that the envelope was inscribed “Respected Uncle.”

“Why has this boy stopped calling me father?” he demanded.

“What do you mean?” asked Xiren.

“The other year when he sent me those white begonias, he called me his god-father. Now on this envelope he’s written ‘uncle. ‘Evidently he no longer considers me as his father.”

“He has no sense of shame, and neither have you!” she scolded. “A big fellow like him calling a boy like you father — isn’t that shameless? Why, you’re not even… “ She broke off, blushing and smiling.

Baoyu knowing what she meant rejoined, “That doesn’t follow. As the saying goes, ‘A childless monk may have many filial sons. ‘ I agreed to it only because he struck me as clever and pleasant. If he backs out, what do I care!” While saying this he opened the letter.

“There’s something shifty about young Master Yun,” observed Xiren. “At times he insists on seeing you, at others he looks around slyly; it shows he’s up to no good.”

Baoyu concentrating on his letter ignored her comments, and Xiren saw that its contents made him frown, smile and shake his head by turns. He ended up looking exasperated.

“Well, what does he say?” she asked.

By way of answer he tore the note into pieces.

To change the subject she asked, “Will you be studying again after dinner?”

Leaving her question unanswered he exclaimed, “What a swine this young Yun is — ridiculous!”

“What’s the matter anyway?” she asked with a smile.

“Why ask? Let’s eat now, then we can rest. I’m fed up.

He told a young maid to light a fire and burned the scraps of the letter. But when the meal was ready presently, he sat down in a daze and Xiren had to coax him to get him to eat one mouthful. Soon he pushed aside his bowl and flung himself down moodily on the couch. Then he suddenly burst into tears.

Xiren and Sheyue were nonplussed.

“Why carry on like this for no reason at all?” cried Sheyue. “It’s all that Jia Yun’s fault! Why should he send such a stupid note to addle Master Bao’s wits and send him into hysterics. If he goes on bottling up his feelings like this, what are we to do?” She started sobbing too.

Xiren could hardly help laughing.

“Cut that out, good sister!” she urged her. “It’s bad enough him making a scene without your joining in. What has that letter got to do with you?”

“That’s crazy talk,” Sheyue countered. “Who knows what rubbish he wrote? Why pin it on me? Come to that, his note may have had to do with you!”

Before Xiren could answer Baoyu burst out laughing and, scrambling off the couch, smoothed out his clothes.

“Stop squabbling and let’s sleep now,” he said. “I must get up early tomorrow to go to school.”

So they went to bed, passing an uneventful night.

The next morning when Baoyu had dressed he set off to school. But as he was leaving his compound, struck by a thought he told Beiming to wait, then turned to call Sheyue.

“What brings you back?” she asked him, coming out.

“If Jia Yun comes again today, tell him not to fool about here. If he does, I’ll tell the old lady and the master.”

Sheyue agreed to this. But Baoyu had no sooner started off again than he saw Jia Yun hurrying towards him. At sight of Baoyu he swept him a bow.

“Congratulations, uncle!”

“You’ve got a nerve!” Baoyu retorted, remembering his note of the previous day. “Disturbing me when I have other things on my mind.”

“You can have a look, uncle, if you don’t believe me. The heralds are already here at the main gate.”

More exasperated than ever Baoyu cried, “What are you talking about?”

Just then they heard shouting outside.

“Listen, uncle, to that!”

This set Baoyu wondering.

“Have you no manners?” they heard someone shout. “How dare you make such a row here?”

Another voice answered, “Your master has been promoted! How can you stop us proclaiming the good news? Other families would be only too pleased to hear us!”

Then Baoyu realized with delight that they were announcing his father’s promotion to be vice-minister. He started off.

Jia Yun caught up with him, saying, “Are you pleased, uncle? Once your marriage is fixed, that’ 11 be double happiness for you!”

Baoyu flushed and spat. “Clear off, you oaf!”

“What have I said wrong?” Jia Yun reddened. “Wouldn’t you…?”

“Wouldn’t I what?” demanded Baoyu sternly.

Then ha Yun dared say no more, and Baoyu hurried off to school.

“What brings you here today?” asked Dairu beaming. “I just heard of your father’s promotion.”

“I came to see you, sir, before going to my father,” said Baoyu re­spectfully.

“You need not study today, you can have a holiday. But don’t spend it playing in the Garden. You’re no longer a child, remember. Though you can’t handle affairs yet, you should learn from your elder cousins.”

Baoyu assented and went home. At the inner gate he met Li Gui coming out.

“So here you are, young master!” The steward halted, smiling. “I was just going to the school to fetch you.”

“On whose instructions?”

“The old lady sent to find you, and your maids said you’d gone to school. So just now she sent again to tell me to ask for a few days’ leave for you — I hear operas will be put on to celebrate. You’ve turned up just in time, Master Bao.”

Passing through the gate, Baoyu observed that all the maids and ma­trons in the court were beaming.

“Why so late, Master Bao?” they cried. “Go in and congratulate the old lady, quick!”

Baoyu entered his grandmother’s room and his face lit up when he saw Daiyu sitting on her left, Xiangyun on her right. All the ladies of the house had assembled there except for Baochai, Baoqin and Yingchun. Beside himself with joy, he offered congratulations to his grandmother and then to Their Ladyships, after which he greeted his cousins one by one.

“Are you better, cousin?” he asked Daiyu.

“Yes, much better,” she answered with a smile. “I heard you were unwell too. Are you all right now?”

“Oh yes. That night I suddenly had a pain in my heart, but these last few days I’ve been well enough to go back to school. That’s why I’ve had no time to call on you.”

While he was still speaking Daiyu turned away to talk to Tanchun. Xifeng standing near them smiled.

“You two are behaving like guests, not like inseparables,” she teased. All these civilities! Well, as the saying goes, ‘you show each other re­spect as to a guest.’”

The others laughed while Daiyu blushed furiously, not knowing whether to let this go or not. After some hesitation she blurted out:

“What do you know about it?”

That set the company laughing even more loudly. Xifeng, conscious of her gaffe, was wondering how to change the subject when Baoyu sud­denly exclaimed to Daiyu:

“Cousin Lin, you never saw anyone as boorish as Jia Yun…” He broke off without finishing the sentence.

This provoked a fresh gale of mirth.

“What is all this?” others asked.

Daiyu, also in the dark, smiled shyly too.

Baoyu hedged, “Just now I heard that some operas are to be pre­sented. When will that be?”

All looked at him, still laughing.

“If you heard that outside.” quipped Xifeng, “you should come and tell us, not ask us about it.”

“I’ll go and find out,” he offered.

“Don’t go running around outside,” warned the old lady. “For one thing, the heralds would laugh at you. For another, your father’s in a good humour today, but if he saw you outside he would be angry.”

“Yes, madam,” said Baoyu, then slipped away.

The old lady asked Xifeng, “Who’s talked of presenting operas?”

“Uncle Wang. He said that the day after tomorrow, which is an aus­picious day, he’ll send over a new company of actresses to congratulate you, madam, as well as the master and mistress.” She added with a twinkle, “It’ll not only be an auspicious day but a happy occasion too. That day…” She winked at Daiyu, who smiled back.

“Why, of course!” exclaimed Lady Wang. “It’s our niece’s birth­day.”

The old lady thought for a second and then said, “It shows I’m grow­ing old, I get so muddled. “It’s lucky I have Xifeng as my mentor. All right then. If Baoyu’s uncle wants to offer congratulations, Daiyu’s uncle’s family can celebrate her birthday too.”

Everybody laughed.

“Whatever our Old Ancestress says is so aptly put, no wonder she has such good fortune!” someone exclaimed.

Baoyu coming back just then was in raptures when he heard about Daiyu’s birthday. Presently they all had a meal there and made merry with the old lady.

After the meal, Jia Zheng came hack from thanking the Emperor and kowtowed to the ancestors, then to his mother. Standing before her, he spoke to her briefly before going out to entertain his guests. A constant stream of kinsmen was coming and going now, with a great noise and bustle. Carriages and horses thronged the gate; silks and sables filled the hall. Truly:

Bees and butterflies converge on flowers in bloom;

Sea and sky stretch boundless under the full moon!

These visits continued for two days till the time for the celebration. Early that morning Wang Ziteng and other kinsmen had sent over a com­pany of actresses, and a stage was set up in front of the Lady Dowager’s main hall. Outside it waited the men of the family, in official robes. More than ten tables of feasts had been prepared for relatives; and as the actresses were new and the old lady was in high spirits, they set up a glass screen in the inner hall to feast the ladies there. At the table of honour sat Aunt Xue accompanied by Lady Wang and Baoqin. Opposite was the table for the old lady accompanied by Lady Xing and Xiuyan. The two lower tables were vacant, and the old lady urged the girls to seat themselves there quickly.

Presently Xifeng, a troop of maids behind her, escorted in Daiyu. Dressed in new clothes and made up, she appeared like the moon god­dess come down to earth as she greeted the others with a bashful smile. Xiangyun, Li Wen and Li Qi invited her to take the best seat at their table, but she declined.

“You must sit there today.” insisted the old lady, smiling.

Aunt Xue rose to ask, “Is this a happy occasion for Miss Lin too?”

“Yes, it’s her birthday.”

“How could I have forgotten!” Aunt Xue went over to Daiyu. “Ex­cuse my bad memory, child! I’ll send Baoqin over presently to offer her congratulations.”

“You are too kind.” Daiyu smiled. While every one took a seat, she looked around and seeing Baochai was not there, she asked Aunt Xue, “How’s Cousin Baochai? Why hasn’t she come today?”

“She should have come, but we have no one to keep an eye on things at home, so she has to stay in,” Aunt Xue explained.

“But now she has a sister-in-law, aunty, surely you don’t need Baochai to mind the house? I suppose she doesn’t like joining in noisy parties, but I do miss her so!”

“It’s good of you to think of her,” said Aunt Xue. “She longs to see you all too. One of these days I’ll send her over to have a chat with you.”

Now maids came in to pour wine and bring in dishes, while outside the performance had started. The first two items, of course, had propitious themes. When it came to the third, they saw fairy pages and maids with flags and pennons lead in a girl dressed as a goddess, with black gauze on her head, who sang an aria and then left the stage. No one knew what opera this was till they heard it said outside that this was the scene “Re­turning to Heaven from Hell” from the new opera The Tale of Ruizhu.2 The girl was the moon goddess who descended to earth and became betrothed to a mortal; luckily the goddess Guanyin had shown her the right course and she died before her marriage took place. She was now going back to the moon. That was why she sang:

Sweet they say is the love of mortals,

Yet autumn moon and spring flowers are soon abandoned,

And I nearly forgot the palace of the moon.

The fourth item was “Eating Husks” from The Tale of the Lute.3 The fifth was about Bodhidharma leading his disciples back across the river— a fantastic and most spectacular performance.

At the height of their enjoyment, one of the Xue family servants came rushing in, pouring with sweat.

“Go back quickly, sir!” he panted to Xue Ke. “And ask madam to go back too. There’s bad trouble at home!”

“What’s happened?” Xue Ke demanded.

“I’ll tell you when we get back, sir.” Xue Ke went off without stop­ping to take his leave. And when maids took word of this to Aunt Xue, she turned pale with alarm. After a hasty leave-taking she mounted her carriage with Baoqin to go back, amid general consternation.

“We must send someone over to find out what’s amiss and to show our concern,” said the Lady Dowager.

The others approved this, then went on watching the opera.

Aunt Xue, reaching home, saw court runners standing by the inner gate. Some assistants from the pawnshop were telling them:

“Wait till the mistress comes home, then everything can be settled.” The runners, at the arrival of an old lady attended by so many ser­vants, knew that this must be Xue Pan’s mother. And as she looked someone of consequence they kept themselves in check, standing at at­tention to let her pass. She went to the back from whence came sounds of wailing, and discovered Jingui there. As she hurried forward Baochai came out to meet her, her face wet with tears.

“So you’ve heard the news, mother,” she said. “Don’t worry. We must find some way to square things!”

Aunt Xue went inside with her daughter, trembling with fright after having heard from the servants in the court what her son had done.

“Whom had he been quarrelling with?” she asked tearfully.

“Don’t try to get to the bottom of it now, madam,” they urged her. “Taking a life is a capital offence regardless of persons. We had better discuss what to do.”

“What is there to discuss?” she sobbed.

“What we propose is this,” they said. “We’ll get ready some silver tonight and go straight with Master Ke to see Master Pan. We can find some shrewd scrivener there and pay him to tear up that capital offence charge; then we can ask the Jia family to intercede with the magistrate of the yamen. There are those runners waiting outside too. First give them a few taels of silver to get rid of them, madam, and then we can get started.”

“Better find the other man’s family,” was Aunt Xue’s counter-pro­posal. “Promise them some money for the funeral as well as for com­pensation. If they drop the charge, the matter can be hushed up.”

“That won’t do, mother!” called Baochai from the inner room. “In a business like this, the more money you pay them the more trouble they’ll make. What the servants suggested was right.”

“I wish I were dead!” wailed Aunt Xue. “I’ll go and see my son for the last time, then die together with him!”

Baochai urged her to be of good comfort and called to the servants in the outer room, “Quickly go with Master Ke to deal with this business.”

Maids helped Aunt Xue inside.

“If you have any news, cousin, send word at once!” called Baochai to Xue Ke who was starting out. “But stay there yourselves to cope.”

Xue Ke assented and left. And Jingui seized this chance, while Baochai was consoling her mother, to round upon Xianghing.

“You used to boast that this family came to the capital after getting away scot-free with murder!” she raged. “Now he’s really gone and killed a man! And for all your bragging about the Xues’ wealth and pow­erful connections, look at the panic everybody’s in now! If my husband’s for it and can’t come back, you’ll all clear off leaving me to bear the brunt!” She burst out storming and sobbing.

Aunt Xue hearing this nearly fainted away with anger and Baochai, though frantic, was helpless. At the height of this scene, one of Lady Wang’s trusted maids came from the Jia Mansion to ascertain what had happened. Baochai knew she was going to marry into their household, but as this had not yet been announced, and she was feeling desperate, she did not hide herself as etiquette demanded but told the maid:

“At present this business isn’t very clear. All we’ve heard is that my brother has been arrested by the county yamen for killing a man outside. We don’t know what the verdict will be. Xue Ke has just gone to make inquiries. As soon as we have definite news, we’ll send word to your

mistress. Go back now and thank her for her concern. We shall be asking later for help from your master.”

The maid accepted these instructions and left.

Aunt Xue and Baochai stayed at home in suspense until, two days later, a page came back with a letter which a young maid brought in. Baochai opened it and read:

This case involving Brother Pan was inadvertent manslaughter, not murder. This morning I sent in a plea in my name, but it has not yet been approved. Brother Pan’s first confession was most unfortunate. Once my plea is ratified, we shall ask to go to court again to retract it, and then he may be let off. Five hundred more taels of silver to cover expenses are needed at once from our pawnshop. There must be no delay! Tell Aunt not to worry. For the rest you can question the page.

Having perused this, Baochai read it out again in full for her mother.

“So it seems his fate is still in the balance!” cried Aunt Xue, wiping her tears.

“Don’t be upset, mother,” urged Baochai. “Let’s first call in the page and find out the details.”

She sent a maid to fetch him in, and Aunt Xue asked him to tell them just what had happened.

“When I heard what Master Pan told Master Ke the other evening, I was frightened out of my wits!” he began.

To know his account of the matter, read the next chapter.

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