Terebess Asia Online (TAO)



JUST about the end of the ninth moon Her Majesty began to tire of
doing nothing day after day, and said: "What is the use of waiting
until the first of the month to have the theatrical performance?
Let us have a performance to-morrow." So she gave instructions for
the eunuchs to prepare for the play, which should be staged
without the assistance of any outside actors. I might here mention
that certain of the eunuchs were specially trained as actors and
used to study their parts every day. Indeed, they were far
cleverer than the professionals from outside.

Her Majesty gave the head eunuch the list of the plays she wished
to be performed, which were for the most part dramatised fairy
tales, and we had a performance the next day.

After Her Majesty had gone to rest in the afternoon, during the
theatrical performance I met the Emperor returning to his own
Palace. I was surprised to see only one eunuch in attendance. This
was the Emperor's own private eunuch and he trusted him
implicitly. He asked me where I was going and I told him I was
going to my room to rest a while. He remarked that he had not seen
me for quite a long time, which made me laugh as I saw him every
morning at the audience. He said: "I don't get as much chance of
chatting with you as formerly since this portrait painting began.
I am afraid I am not making much progress with my English as I
have nobody to help me now that your time is occupied with this
lady artist. You appear to enjoy her company very much. All the
same I suppose it is very monotonous. Has she found out yet that
you are there simply to keep an eye upon her?" I told him that I
was very careful not to betray myself in any way and that I did
not think she suspected she was being watched.

The Emperor then said: "I understand there is a rumor to the
effect that when this lady has finished Her Majesty's portrait she
is going to paint mine. I should very much like to know who says
so." I told him this was the first I had heard about it so could
not say. I asked him whether he would like to have his portrait
painted but he only answered: "That is rather a difficult question
for me to answer. You know best whether I ought to have it painted
or not.

"I see Her Majesty having so many photographs taken and even the
eunuchs are in the picture." I understood at once what he meant,
so I asked him if he wished me to take him with my little kodak.
He looked surprised and asked: "Can you take pictures, too? If it
is not too risky for us, we might try it some day when we have an
opportunity. Don't forget, but I think we must be very careful."

He then changed the conversation by saying: "Well, now that we
have time to talk I want to ask you a question and I expect you to
answer me truly. What is the general opinion amongst the
foreigners regarding myself? Do they consider me a man of
character and do they think me clever? I am very anxious to know."
Before I could say anything in answer to this question he
continued: "I know very well that they regard me as nothing more
than a boy, and as being of no consequence at all. Tell me, is not
this so?" I replied that many foreigners had asked me about
him--as to what kind of man he was, but that they had never
expressed any opinion of their own regarding him excepting that
they understood he was in the best of health. "If any wrong
impression does exist regarding myself and my position at the
Court," continued the Emperor, "it is owing to the very
conservative customs of the Chinese Court. I am not expected to
either say or do anything on my own initiative, consequently
outsiders never hear much about me and I am regarded as being
nothing more than a figure-head. I know this is so. Whenever they
ask you about me in the future just explain to them exactly what
my position here is. I have plenty of ideas regarding the
development of this country but you know I am not able to carry
them out as I am not my own master. I don't think the Empress
Dowager herself has sufficient power to alter the state of things
existing in China at present, and even if she has, she is not
willing to. I am afraid it will be a long time before anything can
be done towards reform."

The Emperor went on to say how nice it would be if he were allowed
to travel about from place to place the same as the European
monarchs, but of course such a thing was out of the question for
him. I told him that several Princesses had expressed a wish to
visit the St. Louis Exposition and said I thought it would be a
good thing if that could be arranged as they would see for
themselves the difference between their own country and customs
and foreign countries and customs. The Emperor expressed doubts as
to this permission being granted as such a thing had never been
heard of before.

We talked for quite a long time, mostly about foreign customs, and
the Emperor remarked that he would very much like to visit Europe
and see for himself how things were carried on there.

Just then one of my eunuchs came and said that Her Majesty was
awake, so I had to hurry off to her room.

We now arrive at the tenth moon.

The first day it snowed, and the head eunuch enquired of Her
Majesty whether it was her intention to celebrate her birthday at
the Summer Palace as usual. As previously explained the Summer
Palace was Her Majesty's favorite place of abode; so she replied
in the affirmative and arrangements were accordingly made for the
celebration to be held there as usual. The head eunuch then
brought Her Majesty a list giving the names and ranks of all the
Princesses and the names of the wives and daughters of the Manchu
officials, and she selected those whom she wished to be present at
the celebrations. On this occasion she selected forty-five ladies,
who were duly informed that she desired their presence at the
Palace. I was standing behind Her Majesty's chair all this time,
and she turned and said: "Usually I do not ask many people to my
birthday celebrations, but on this occasion I have made an
exception as I want you to see the way they dress and how ignorant
they are of Court etiquette."

The celebrations commenced on the sixth day of the tenth moon.
Miss Carl, having returned to the American Legation in Peking for
the time being, my mother, my sister and myself went back to the
Palace again. Early on the morning of the sixth, the eunuchs
decorated the verandas with different colored silks and hung
lanterns all over the place and amongst the trees. At about seven
o'clock in the morning the visitors began to arrive and I quite
agreed with what Her Majesty had told me about them. The eunuchs
introduced them to all the Court ladies, but they seemed to have
very little to say, appearing very shy. They were then conducted
to the waiting room, but there were so many of them that we Court
ladies had to stand outside on the veranda. Some of them were very
expensively dressed, but their colors were, for the most part,
very old fashioned, and their manners very awkward. We watched
them for quite a while and then went off to report to Her Majesty.

On such occasions as this Her Majesty was generally in pretty good
spirits. She commenced asking us a lot of questions. Amongst other
things she asked whether we had noticed an elderly lady among the
visitors, dressed as a bride. She explained that this lady was the
only Manchu lady present who was married to a Chinese official,
and had been invited because of her previous connection with the
Court. Her Majesty said she had never seen her herself, but
understood that she was a very clever woman. We had not noticed
such a person, and suggested that perhaps she had not yet arrived.

Her Majesty dressed very quickly, and as soon as she was ready she
came into the hall, where the head eunuch brought in the visitors
and presented them to Her Majesty. We Court ladies were all
standing in a row behind the Throne. As they came in, some
kowtowed; others courtesied, while others did not do anything at
all, in fact nobody appeared to know what to do with herself. Her
Majesty spoke a few words of welcome and thanked them for the
presents they had sent her.

I would like to say here that, contrary to the general idea which
exists, Her Majesty always expressed her thanks for any present or
service rendered, no matter how insignificant.

Her Majesty could see plainly that everybody was embarrassed and
ordered the head eunuch to show them to their respective rooms,
and told them to make themselves at home and to go and take a
rest. They hesitated a moment, not knowing whether to go or not,
until Her Majesty said to us: "Take them and present them to the
Young Empress."

When we arrived at the Palace of the Young Empress they were duly
presented and were not nearly so shy as before. The Young Empress
informed them that in case they desired to know anything or to be
put right on any point of Court etiquette, the Court ladies would
be pleased to give them all necessary information and she decided
that the best way would be for each Court lady to have charge of
so many of the visitors, as it would not be nice to have any
mistakes occur during the ceremony, on the tenth. So we each were
allotted so many guests and had to look after them and instruct
them how to act on the different occasions.

During Her Majesty's afternoon rest I paid a visit to the guests I
was to take charge of. Among them was the bride referred to by Her
Majesty. So I went and made myself agreeable to her and found her
very interesting. She had evidently received a good education,
unlike the majority of Manchu ladies, as I found she could read
and write Chinese exceptionally well. I then explained to all of
them what they would have to do, and how to address Her Majesty,
should it be necessary to do so. I don't know whether I have
mentioned it previously, but whenever anybody spoke to Her
Majesty, they always addressed her as "Great Ancestor," and when
referring to themselves, instead of the pronoun "I," they would
say "Your slave." In all Manchu families a similar rule is
observed, the pronouns "You" and "I" being dispensed with and the
titles "Mother" and "Father" and the son's or daughter's first
name being substituted.

Her Majesty was very particular about this rule being strictly

For the next four days, until the day of the ceremony, these
visitors passed their time in learning the Court etiquette and
going to the theatre.

Every morning, as usual, we waited on Her Majesty and reported
anything of interest which had occurred during the previous day.
Then we all preceded Her Majesty to the theatre, where we awaited
her arrival standing in the courtyard. On Her Majesty appearing,
we would all kneel down until she had passed into the building
opposite the stage, kneeling in rows --first the Emperor, behind
him the Young Princess, next the Secondary wife, then the
Princesses and Court ladies, and last of all the visitors. The
first two days everything went of all right, but on the third
morning the Emperor, from whom we received the signal, suddenly
turned and said: "Her Majesty is coming." Down we all went on our
knees, the Emperor alone remaining standing and laughing at us. Of
course there was no sign of Her Majesty and everybody joined in
the laugh. He was never so happy as when he could work off a joke
like this.

On the evening of the ninth, none of the Court ladies went to bed,
as we all had to be up betimes on the morning of the tenth. The
visitors were told to proceed by chair to Her Majesty's special
Audience Hall on the top of the hill, where they were to await our
arrival. They arrived at the Audience Hall at three o'clock in the
morning, and we followed soon afterwards, arriving there about
daybreak. By and bye Her Majesty arrived and the ceremony
commenced. This ceremony in no way differed from the one
previously described in connection with the Emperor's birthday, so
there is no need to give particulars, except one thing. Very early
on the morning of the tenth, we had to bring another present to
her and each of us brought a hundred birds of various kinds. Each
year, on her birthday, Her Majesty did a very peculiar thing. She
would buy 10,000 birds with her own money, from her private purse
and set them free. It was a very pretty sight to see those huge
cages hung in the courtyard of the Audience Hall. Her Majesty
would select the most lucky hour and order the eunuchs to carry
the cages and to follow her. The hour selected was four o'clock in
the afternoon. Her Majesty took the whole Court with her to the
top of the hill, where there was a Temple. First she burnt sandal
wood and offered up prayers to the Gods, then the eunuchs, each
with a cage of birds, knelt in front of Her Majesty and she opened
each cage one after another and watched the birds fly away, and
prayed to the Gods that these birds should not be caught again.
Her Majesty did this very seriously and we asked each other in
whispers which bird we thought was the prettiest and would like to
keep it for ourselves. Among this lot there were a few parrots.
Some were pink; others were red and green; all were chained on
stands, and when the eunuchs broke the chains, the parrots would
not move. Her Majesty said: "How funny; each year a few parrots
will not go away at all and I have kept them until they died. Look
at them now. They won't go away." By this time the head eunuch
arrived. Her Majesty told him what had happened and he immediately
knelt down and said: "Your Majesty's great luck. These parrots
understand Your Majesty's kindness and would rather stay here and
serve Your Majesty." This ceremony is called "Fang Sheng." It is
considered a very meritorious action and will not fail of reward
in Heaven.

One of the Court ladies asked me what I thought of the parrots
that would not fly away, and I told her that it was really very
strange. She said: "It is very simple and not strange at all.
These eunuchs, ordered by the head one, have bought these parrots
long ago and trained them. During Her Majesty's afternoon rest,
these parrots were brought to the top of the very same hill every
day to accustom them to the place. The object of this is just to
please and otherwise fool Her Majesty, to make her feel happy and
believe that she is so merciful that even such dumb things would
rather stay with her." Continuing, she said: "The huge joke is
this: while Her Majesty is letting the birds free, there are a few
eunuchs waiting at the rear of the hill to capture them and sell
them again, and so, no matter how Her Majesty prays for their
freedom, they will be caught at once."

The celebrations were continued until the thirteenth day. Nobody
did any work and all was gaiety and enjoyment, the theatre being
open every day. Towards the close of the thirteenth day the
visitors were informed that the celebrations were at an end and
they made arrangements to leave early the next morning. They all
bade Her Majesty good-bye that evening and departed early the
following day.

For the next few days we were all busy preparing for removing to
the Sea Palace. Her Majesty consulted her book and finally
selected the 22d as being the most favorable day for this removal.
So at six o'clock on the morning of the 22d the whole Court left
the Summer Palace. It was snowing very heavily and the journey was
only accomplished with great difficulty. Of course we were all in
chairs, as usual, and the eunuchs who were not employed as
chair-bearers rode horseback. Many of the horses fell on the
slippery stones and one of Her Majesty's chair-bearers also
slipped and brought Her Majesty to the ground. All of a sudden I
thought something dreadful had happened, horses galloping and
eunuchs howling: "Stop! Stop!!" I heard someone saying: "See if
she is still alive." The whole procession stopped and blocked the
way. This happened on the stone road just before entering the
Western Gate. Finally we saw that Her Majesty's chair was resting
on the ground, so we all alighted and went forward to see what had
happened. A great many people were talking excitedly all at the
same time, and for a moment I was rather frightened (for just
about that time we heard a rumor that some of the revolutionists
were going to take the life of the whole Court, and, although we
heard that, we did not dare tell Her Majesty), so I immediately
went to her chair and found her sitting there composedly giving
orders to the chief eunuch not to punish this chair-bearer, for he
was not to blame, the stones being wet and very slippery. Li Lien
Ying said that would never do, for this chair-bearer must have
been careless, and how dare he carry the Old Buddha in this
careless way. After saying this, he turned his head to the beaters
(these beaters, carrying bamboo sticks, went everywhere with the
Court, for such occasions as this) and said: "Give him eighty
blows on his back." This poor victim, who was kneeling on the
muddy ground, heard the order. The beaters took him about a
hundred yards away from us, pushed him down and started to do
their duty. It did not take very long to give the eighty blows
and, much to my surprise, this man got up, after receiving the
punishment, as if nothing had happened to him. He looked just as
calm as could be. While we were waiting a eunuch handed me a cup
of tea, which I presented to Her Majesty, and asked her if she was
hurt. She smiled and said it was nothing, ordering us to proceed
on our journey. I must explain about this tea; the eunuchs had it
prepared all the time and always carried a little stove along with
hot water. Although this went every time when the Court moved, it
was seldom used.

As usual, all the Court ladies take a short cut to the Palace, so
as to be ready to receive Her Majesty, when she arrived. After
waiting in the courtyard for quite a long time, during which we
were nearly frozen, Her Majesty arrived, and we all knelt until
she had passed, and then followed her into the Palace. Her Majesty
also complained of the cold and ordered that fires should be
brought into the hall. These fires were built in brass portable
stoves lined with clay, and were lighted outside and brought into
the hall after the smoke had passed off somewhat. There were four
stoves in all. All the windows and doors were closed, there being
no ventilation of any description, and very soon I began to feel
sick. However, I went on with my work getting Her Majesty's things
in order until I must have fainted, for the next thing I
remembered was waking up in a strange bed and inquiring where I
was, but on hearing Her Majesty giving orders in the next room, I
knew it was all right. One of the Court ladies brought me a cup of
turnip juice which Her Majesty said I was to drink. I drank it and
felt much better. I was informed that Her Majesty had gone to
rest, and so I went off to sleep again myself. When I awoke, Her
Majesty was standing by my bedside. I tried to get up, but found
that I was too weak, so Her Majesty told me to lie still and keep
quiet and I would soon be all right again. She said that I had
better have a room close to her bedroom, and gave instructions for
the eunuchs to remove me there as soon as it was prepared. Every
few minutes Her Majesty would send to inquire how I was
progressing and whether I wanted anything to eat. It was the
custom to stand up whenever receiving a message from Her Majesty,
but it was out of the question for me to do so, although I tried,
with the result that I made myself worse than ever.

Towards evening the head eunuch came to see me and brought several
plates of sweetmeats. He was very nice, and told me that I was
very fortunate, as Her Majesty very rarely bothered herself about
any of the Court ladies and that evidently she had taken a fancy
to me. He sat talking for some little time, and told me to eat
some of the sweetmeats. Of course I was not able to eat anything
at all, let alone sweetmeats, so I told him to leave them and I
would eat them later. Before leaving he said that in case I wanted
anything I was to let him know. This visit was a great surprise to
me, as usually he took very little notice of any of us, but I was
told afterwards that the reason he was so nice was because Her
Majesty showed such an interest in me.

The next morning I was able to get up and resume my duties. I went
in to see Her Majesty and kowtowed to her, thanking her for her
kindness during my indisposition. Her Majesty said that the head
eunuch had told her the previous evening that I was much better
and that she was glad I was up and about again. She said it was
nothing serious, simply that I was unaccustomed to the fumes from
the fires, which had gone to my head.

As the snow had stopped falling, Her Majesty decided that the next
day we would go and choose a place for Miss Carl to continue the
painting. I suggested that perhaps it would be better if we waited
until Miss Carl arrived herself, so that she could choose a
suitable place for her work, but Her Majesty said that would not
do at all, because if it were left to Miss Carl, doubtless she
would choose some impossible place. Of course there were many
parts of the Palace which were kept quite private and Miss Carl
would not be allowed to go there. So the next day Her Majesty and
myself set out to find a place. After visiting many different
rooms, all of which were too dark, we finally fixed on a room on
the lake side of the Palace. Her Majesty said: "This is very
convenient, as you can go to and fro either by chair or by water.
I found that it took about three-quarters of an hour by chair to
get to the Palace Gate, and rather less than that by boat. I was
expecting to return to stay at the Palace with Her Majesty, but it
was finally decided that this would not do, as it would not be
policy to allow Miss Carl, who was staying at the American
Legation, to go in and out of the Palace Gate alone, so Her
Majesty said it would be better for me to stay at my father's
place in the city and bring Miss Carl to the Palace each morning,
returning with her in the evening. This was anything but pleasant,
but I had no other alternative than to obey Her Majesty's

When Miss Carl arrived at the Palace the next day and saw the room
which had been selected for her to work in, she was not at all
pleased. In the first place she said it was too dark, so Her
Majesty ordered the paper windows to be replaced by glass. This
made the room too bright, and Miss Carl asked for some curtains so
as to focus the light on the picture. When I informed Her Majesty
of this request, she said: "Well, this is the first time I have
ever changed anything in the Palace except to suit myself. First I
alter the windows, and she is not satisfied, but must have
curtains. I think we had better take the roof off, then perhaps
she may be suited." However, we fixed up the curtains to Miss
Carl's satisfaction.

When Her Majesty examined the portrait to see how it was
progressing, she said to me: "After all the trouble we have had
over this picture, I am afraid it is not going to be anything very
wonderful. I notice that the pearls in my cape are painted in
different colors; some look white, some pink, while others are
green. You tell her about it." I tried to explain to Her Majesty
that Miss Carl had simply painted the pearls as she saw them,
according to the different shades of light, but Her Majesty could
not understand that at all and asked if I could see anything green
about them, or pink either. I again explained that this was simply
the tints caused by the light falling on the pearls, but she
replied that she could not see any shade except white. However,
after a while she did not seem to trouble any further about the

Situated in a room near Her Majesty's bedroom in the Sea Palace
was a Pagoda, about ten feet in height, made of carved sandalwood.
This contained various images of Buddha, which Her Majesty used to
worship every morning. The ceremony consisted of Her Majesty
burning incense before the Pagoda, while a Court lady was told off
each day to kowtow before the images. Her Majesty told me that
this Pagoda had been in the Palace for more than a hundred years.
Among the different images was one representing the Goddess of
Mercy. This image was only about five inches in height and was
made of pure gold. The inside was hollow and contained all the
principal anatomical parts of the human body, made out of jade and
pearls. This Goddess of Mercy was supposed to possess wonderful
powers and Her Majesty often worshiped before it when in any
trouble, and maintained that on many occasions her prayers had
been answered. She said: "Of course, when I pray to the image, I
pray earnestly, not the same as you girls, who simply kowtow
because it is your duty and then get away as quickly as possible."
Her Majesty went on to say that she was quite aware that many of
the people in China were discarding the religion of their
ancestors in favor of Christianity, and that she was very much
grieved that this was so.

Her Majesty was a firm believer in the old Chinese superstitions
connected with the Sea Palace, and during one of our conversations
she told me I was not to be surprised at anything I saw. She said
it was quite a common occurrence for a person walking beside you
to suddenly disappear altogether, and explained that they were
simply foxes who took human shape to suit their purpose. They had
probably lived in the Sea Palace for thousands of years and
possessed this power of changing their form at will. She said that
no doubt the eunuchs would tell me they were spirits or ghosts,
but that was not true: they were sacred foxes and would harm
nobody. As if to confirm this superstition, one evening, a few
days later, my fire having gone out, I sent my eunuch to see if
any of the other Court ladies were awake, and if so, to try to get
me some hot water. He went out taking his lantern along with him,
but he returned almost immediately with a face as white as chalk.
On inquiring what was the matter, he replied: "I have seen a
ghost: a woman, who came up to me, blew the light out and
disappeared." I told him that perhaps it was one of the servant
girls, but he said "No"; he knew all the women attached to the
Palace and he had never seen this one before. He stuck to it that
it was a ghost. I told him that Her Majesty had said there were no
ghosts, but that it might be a fox which had taken human shape. He
replied: "It was not a fox. Her Majesty calls them foxes, because
she is afraid to call them ghosts." He went on to tell me that
many years previously the head eunuch, Li Lien Ying, while walking
in the courtyard back of Her Majesty's Palace, saw a young servant
girl sitting on the edge of the well. He went over to ask her what
she was doing there, but on getting closer he found that there
were several other girls there also, and on seeing him approach,
they all deliberately jumped down the well. He immediately raised
the alarm, and on one of the attendants coming forward with a
lantern, he explained what had occurred. The attendant showed him
that it was impossible for anybody to jump into the well, as it
was covered with a large stone. My eunuch said that a long time
before this several girls did actually commit suicide by jumping
down this well, and that what Li Lien Ying had seen were the
ghosts of these girls, and nothing more. It is believed by the
Chinese that when a person commits suicide their spirit remains in
the neighborhood until such time as they can entice somebody else
to commit suicide, when they are free to go to another world, and
not before. I told him that I did not believe such things and that
I would very much like to see for myself. He replied: "You will
only want to see it once; that will be sufficient."

Things went along in the usual way until the first day of the
eleventh moon, when Her Majesty issued orders to the Court that as
the eleventh moon contained so many anniversaries of the deaths of
previous rulers of China, the usual theatrical performance would
be eliminated and the Court dress would in addition be modified to
suit the occasion. On the ninth day the Emperor was to go and
worship at the Temple of Heaven. So, as was customary on all these
occasions, he confined himself to his own private apartments for
three days before the ninth, during which time he held no
communication whatsoever with anybody excepting his private
eunuchs. Not even the Young Empress, his wife, was allowed to see
him during these three days.

This ceremony did not differ very materially from the other
sacrifices, except that pigs were killed and placed on the
numerous altars of the Temple, where they remained for a time,
after which they were distributed among the different officials.
The eating of the flesh of these pigs, which had been blessed, was
believed to bring good luck and prosperity, and the officials who
were presented with them considered themselves greatly favored by
Her Majesty. Another difference was that the Emperor could not
appoint a substitute to officiate for him; but must attend in
person, no matter what the circumstances might be. The reason for
this was, that according to the ancient law, the Emperor signs the
death warrant of every person sentenced to death, record of which
is kept in the Board of Punishments. At the end of the year the
name of each person executed is written on a piece of yellow paper
and sent to the Emperor. When the time for worshiping at the
Temple arrives, he takes this yellow paper and burns it in order
that the ashes may go up to Heaven and his ancestors know that he
has been fearless and faithful, and has done his duty according to
the law.

As this ceremony of worshiping at the Temple of Heaven was to take
place in the Forbidden City, in spite of Her Majesty's dislike to
the place, she commanded that the whole of the Court be
transferred there, her reason for this being that she did not wish
to be away from the Emperor's side even for an hour. So we all
moved to the Palace in the Forbidden City. After the ceremony was
over, the Court was to return to the Sea Palace, but as the
thirteenth day was the anniversary of the death of the Emperor
Kang Hsi, it was decided that we should remain in the Forbidden
City, where the ceremony was to be held. The Emperor Kang Hsi
ruled over the Chinese Empire for sixty-one years, the longest
reign of any Chinese Ruler up to the present time, and Her Majesty
told us that he was the most wonderful Emperor China had ever had
and that we must respect his memory accordingly.


ON the fourteenth day of the eleventh moon, after the morning
audience, Her Majesty informed us that there was a likelihood of
war breaking out between Russia and Japan and that she was very
much troubled, as although it actually had nothing whatever to do
with China, she was afraid they would fight on Chinese territory
and that in the long run China would suffer in some way or other.
Of course we did not bother ourselves about it much at the moment,
but the next morning the head eunuch reported to Her Majesty that
fifty eunuchs were missing. As there was no apparent reason for
this, everybody was much excited. There was no rule against any of
the eunuchs going into the city after their duties were ended,
providing they returned before the Palace Gate was closed, but
when on the following morning it was reported that another hundred
eunuchs had also disappeared, Her Majesty at once said: "I know
now what the trouble is; they must have heard what I said about
this war coming on and are afraid there may be a repetition of the
Boxer trouble, and so they have cleared out." It was the custom
whenever a eunuch was missing to send out search parties and have
him brought back and punished, but in the present instance Her
Majesty gave instructions that nothing was to be done about
recapturing them. One morning, however, one of Her Majesty's
personal attendants was missing, which made her furious. She said
that she had been very kind to this particular eunuch in many
ways, and this was all the thanks she got; he ran away at the
first sign of trouble. I myself had noticed how good she had been
to this eunuch, but I was not really sorry that he had left, as he
used to take advantage of every opportunity of getting some of the
Court ladies into trouble.

These disappearances continued from day to day until Her Majesty
decided that it would be safer for us to remain in the Forbidden
City until the following spring at any rate.

On inquiring from my eunuch the cause of these disappearances, he
said that it was just as Her Majesty suspected; they were afraid
of getting mixed up in another such affair as the Boxer trouble,
and added that he was not a bit surprised at Her Majesty's
favorite eunuch going along with the rest. He further told me that
even Li Lien Ying himself was not to be absolutely relied upon, as
at the time of Her Majesty's leaving Peking for Shi An during the
Boxer movement, he had feigned sickness, and followed a little
later, so that in the event of anything happening, he would be
able to return and make his escape. While talking about Li Lien
Ying, my eunuch told me in confidence that he was responsible for
the death of many innocent people, mostly eunuchs. He had
unlimited power at the Court, and it was very easy for him to get
anybody put away who offended him or to whom, for some reason or
another, he took a dislike. Furthermore, the eunuch informed me
that, although not generally known, Li Lien Ying was addicted to
opium-smoking, which habit he indulged in very freely. Even Her
Majesty was unaware of this, as opium-smoking was strictly
forbidden in the Palace.

Each morning there was fresh news regarding the trouble between
Russia and Japan, and of course everybody gradually became very
much excited at the Palace. One day Her Majesty summoned the whole
of the Court to a special audience and there informed us that
there was no need for us to get excited at all; that if any
trouble did occur, it was none of our business and we should not
be interfered with, as the spirits of our ancestors were watching
over us, and she did not want to hear any more talk and gossip on
the subject. However, she summoned all of the Court ladies to her
apartment and there commanded us to pray to the spirits of our
ancestors to protect us, which plainly showed that she was just as
much worried as we were ourselves. In spite of what she had said
with reference to gossiping about this trouble, Her Majesty often
spoke about it herself, and during one of our conversations she
said she wished she could get information each day as to what was
actually occurring, so I suggested that it would be very easy to
get all the latest news by taking the foreign papers and also
Reuter's specials. Her Majesty jumped at the suggestion and told
me to have these sent each day to my father's house in his name,
and have them brought to the Palace, where I could translate them
for her. I told her that my father received all these papers as
they were published, so I arranged that they should be brought
along as directed by Her Majesty. Each morning during the audience
I translated into Chinese all the war news, but the telegrams
began to arrive so rapidly that it soon became quite impossible
for me to write them all out in Chinese, so I told Her Majesty
that I would read and translate them into Chinese as they arrived.
This was much quicker and interested Her Majesty so much that she
insisted on my not only translating the war news, but everything
else of interest in the papers. Especially was she interested in
all news appertaining to the movements, etc., of the crowned heads
of Europe, and was very plainly astonished when she learned that
their every movement was known. She said: "Here, at any rate, it
is more private, for nobody outside the Palace ever knows what is
going on inside, not even my own people. It would be a good thing
if they did know a little more, then perhaps all these rumors
about the Palace would stop."

Of course, during our stay in the Forbidden City, Miss Carl
attended each morning to work on the portrait. We had given her a
nice room, which seemed to suit her very well, and Her Majesty had
instructed me to let her have every convenience possible to assist
her, as she was getting tired of the business and would like to
see it finished quickly. Her Majesty hardly ever went near the
place herself, but when she did go, she would be most affable and,
really, one would think that it was the greatest pleasure of her
life to go and inspect the portrait.

Things went very slowly during this eleventh moon on account of
the Court being in mourning, so one day Her Majesty suggested that
she should show us round the Forbidden City. First we proceeded to
the Audience Hall. This differs somewhat from the Audience Hall of
the Summer Palace. To enter, one must mount some twenty odd steps
of white marble, with rails on either side of the steps made of
the same material. At the top of the steps a large veranda,
supported by huge pillars of wood, painted red, surrounded the
building. The windows along this verandah were of marvellously
carved trellis-work, designed to represent the character "Shou"
arranged in different positions. Then we entered the hall itself.
The floor is of brick, and Her Majesty told us that all these
bricks were of solid gold and had been there for centuries. They
were of a peculiar black color, doubtless painted over, and were
so slippery that it was most difficult to keep on one's feet. The
furnishing was similar to that in the Audience Halls in the Summer
Palace and in the Sea Palace, with the exception that the throne
was made of dark brown wood inlaid with jade of different colors.

The Hall was only used for audience on very rare occasions, such
as the birthday of the Empress Dowager and New Year's Day, and no
foreigner has ever entered this building. All the usual audiences
were held in a smaller building in the Forbidden City.

After spending some little time in the Audience Hall, we next
visited the Emperor's quarters. These were much smaller than those
occupied by Her Majesty, but were very elaborately furnished.
There were thirty-two rooms, many of which were never used, but
all were furnished in the same expensive style. In the rear of
this building was the Palace of the Young Empress, which was
smaller still, having about twenty-four rooms in all, and in the
same building three rooms were set apart for the use of the
Secondary wife of the Emperor. Although close together, the
Palaces of the Emperor and his wife were not connected by any
entrance, but both buildings were surrounded by verandas
connecting with Her Majesty's apartments, which were quite a
distance away. There were several other buildings, which were used
as waiting rooms for visitors. In addition to the above, there
were several buildings which were not used at all; these were
sealed and nobody seemed to know what they contained, or whether
they contained anything at all. Even Her Majesty said she had
never been inside these buildings, as they had been sealed for
many years. Even the entrance to the enclosure containing these
buildings was always closed, and this was the only occasion that
any of us ever even passed through. They were quite different in
appearance from any other buildings in the Palace, being very
dirty and evidently of great age. We were commanded not to talk
about the place at all.

The apartments of the Court ladies were connected with those of
Her Majesty, but the rooms were so small one could hardly turn
round in them; also they were very cold in winter. The servants'
quarters were at the end of our apartments, but there was no
entrance and they could only be reached by passing along our
veranda, while the only entrance we ourselves had to our rooms was
by passing along Her Majesty's veranda. This was Her Majesty's own
idea, in order that she could keep an eye on all of us and could
see when we either went out or came in.

Her Majesty now conducted us to her own Palace, and pausing a
little said: "I will now show you something which will be quite
new to you." We entered a room adjoining her bedroom, which was
connected by a narrow passage some fifteen feet in length. On
either side the walls were painted and decorated very beautifully.
Her Majesty spoke to one of the eunuch attendants, who stooped
down and removed from the ground at each end of this passage two
wooden plugs which were fitted into holes in the basement. I then
began to realize that what I had hitherto regarded as solid walls
were in reality sliding panels of wood. These panels when opened
revealed a kind of grotto. There were no windows, but in the roof
was a skylight. At one end of this room or grotto was a large
rock, on the top of which was a seat with a yellow cushion, and
beside the cushion an incense burner. Everything had the
appearance of being very old. The room contained no furniture of
any description. One end of this room led into another passage
similar to the one already described, having sliding panels, which
led into another grotto, and so on; in fact the whole of the
palace walls were intersected by these secret passages, each
concealing an inner room. Her Majesty told us that during the Ming
dynasty these rooms had been used for various purposes,
principally by the Emperor when he wished to be alone. One of
these secret rooms was used by Her Majesty as a treasure room
where she kept her valuables. During the time of the Boxer
trouble, she hid all her valuables here before she fled. When she
returned and opened this secret room she found everything intact,
not one of the vandals who ransacked the Palace even suspecting
there was such a place.

We returned to our veranda, and on looking around for the rooms we
had just vacated, could see nothing excepting black stone walls,
so well were they hidden. One of the principal reasons for Her
Majesty's dislike to the Forbidden City was the mysteries which it
contained, many of which she did not know of herself. She said: "I
don't even talk about these places at all, as people might think
that they were used for all kinds of purposes."

While at the Palace in the Forbidden City I met the three
Secondary wives of the previous Emperor Tung Chi, son of the
Empress Dowager, who, since the death of the Emperor, had resided
in the Forbidden City and spent their time in doing needlework,
etc., for Her Majesty. When I got to know them I found that they
were highly educated, one of them, Yu Fai, being exceptionally
clever. She could write poetry and play many musical instruments,
and was considered to be the best educated lady in the Empire of
China. Her knowledge of western countries and their customs
surprised me very much; she seemed to know a little bit of
everything. I asked how it was that I had never seen them before,
and was informed that they never visited Her Majesty unless
commanded by her to do so, but that when Her Majesty stayed in the
Forbidden City, of course they had to call and pay their respects
each day. One day I received an invitation to visit them in their
Palace. This was separated from all the other buildings in the
city. It was rather a small building, and very simply furnished,
with just a few eunuchs and servant girls to wait upon them. They
said they preferred this simple life, as they never received any
visitors and had nobody to please but themselves. Yu Fai's room
was literally packed with literature of all descriptions. She
showed me several poems which she had written, but they were of a
melancholy character, plainly showing the trend of her thoughts.
She was in favor of establishing schools for the education of
young girls, as only very few could even read or write their own
language, and she suggested that I should speak to Her Majesty
about it at the first opportunity. In spite of her desire to see
western reforms introduced into China, however, she was not in
favor of employing missionary teachers, as these people always
taught their religion at the expense of other subjects, which she
feared would set the Chinese against the movement.

Toward the end of the eleventh moon Her Majesty granted an
audience to the Viceroy of Chihli, Yuan Shih Kai, and as this
particular day was a holiday and Miss Carl was absent, I was able
to attend. Her Majesty asked him for his opinion of the trouble
between Russia and Japan. He said that although these two
countries might make war against each other, China would not be
implicated in any way, but that after the war was over, there was
sure to be trouble over Manchuria. Her Majesty said she was quite
aware of that, as they were fighting on Chinese territory, and
that the best thing for China to do would be to keep absolutely
neutral in the matter, as she had quite enough of war during the
China-Japan war. She said it would be best to issue orders to all
the officials to see that the Chinese did not interfere in any
way, so as not to give any excuse for being brought into the

She then asked his opinion as to what would be the result in the
event of war--who would win. He said that it was very hard to say,
but that he thought Japan would win. Her Majesty thought that if
Japan were victorious, she would not have so much trouble over the
matter, although she expressed doubts as to the outcome, saying
that Russia was a large country and had many soldiers, and that
the result was far from certain.

Her Majesty then spoke about the condition of things in China. She
said that in case China were forced into war with another nation,
we should be nowhere. We had nothing ready, no navy and no trained
army, in fact nothing to enable us to protect ourselves. Yuan Shih
Kai, however, assured her there was no need to anticipate any
trouble at present so far as China was concerned. Her Majesty
replied that in any event it was time China began to wake up and
endeavor to straighten things out in some way or other, but she
did not know where to begin; that it was her ambition to see China
holding a prominent position among the nations of the world and
that she was constantly receiving memorials suggesting this reform
and that reform, but that we never seemed to get any further.

After this audience was over, Her Majesty held an audience with
the Grand Council. She told them what had been said during her
interview with Yuan Shih Kai, and of course they all agreed that
something should be done. Several suggestions were discussed with
regard to national defense, etc., but a certain Prince said that
although he was in perfect sympathy with reform generally, he was
very much against the adoption of foreign clothing, foreign modes
of living, and the doing away with the queue. Her Majesty quite
agreed with these remarks and said that it would not be wise to
change any Chinese custom for one which was less civilized. As
usual, nothing definite was decided upon when the audience was

For the next few days nothing was talked of but the war, and many
Chinese generals were received in audience by Her Majesty. These
audiences were sometimes very amusing, as these soldiers were
quite unaccustomed to the rules of the Court and did not know the
mode of procedure when in the presence of Her Majesty. Many
foolish suggestions were made by these generals. During one of the
conversations Her Majesty remarked on the inefficiency of the navy
and referred to the fact that we had no trained naval officers.
One of the generals replied that we had more men in China than in
any other country, and as for ships, why we had dozens of river
boats and China merchant boats, which could be used in case of
war. Her Majesty ordered him to retire, saying that it was
perfectly true that we had plenty of men in China, but that the
majority of them were like himself, of very little use to the
country. After he had retired, everybody commenced to laugh, but
Her Majesty stopped us, saying that she did not feel at all like
laughing, she was too angry to think that such men held positions
as officers in the army and navy. One of the Court ladies asked me
why Her Majesty was so angry with the man for mentioning the river
boats, and was very much surprised when I informed her that the
whole of them would be worse than useless against a single war

Just about the end of the eleventh moon Chang Chih Tung, Viceroy
of Wuchang, arrived, and was received in audience. Her Majesty
said to him: "Now, you are one of the oldest officials in the
country, and I want you to give me your unbiased opinion as to
what effect this war is going to have on China. Do not be afraid
to give your firm opinion, as I want to be prepared for anything
which is likely to happen." He answered that no matter what the
result of the war might be, China would in all probability have to
make certain concessions to the Powers with regard to Manchuria
for trade purposes, but that we should not otherwise be interfered
with. Her Majesty repeated what had been discussed at the previous
audiences on this subject and also regarding reform in China.
Chang Chih Tung replied that we had plenty of time for reform, and
that if we were in too great a hurry, we should not accomplish
anything at all. He suggested that the matter be discussed at
length before deciding upon anything definite. In his opinion it
would be foolish to go to extremes in the matter of reform. He
said that ten or fifteen years ago he would have been very much
against any reform whatsoever, but that he now saw the need for it
to a certain extent, as circumstances had changed very much. He
said that we should adhere strictly to our own mode of living and
not abandon the traditions of our ancestors. In other words, he
simply advised the adoption of western civilization where it was
an improvement on our own, and nothing more. Her Majesty was
delighted with the interview, for Chang Chih Tung's opinions
coincided exactly with her own.

During the whole of these audiences the Emperor, although present
each time, never opened his lips to say a word, but sat listening
all the time. As a rule, Her Majesty would ask his opinion, just
as a matter of form, but he invariably replied that he was quite
in accord with what Her Majesty had said or decided upon.

Of the many religious ceremonies in connection with the Buddhist
religion the "La-pachow" was the most important. This was held on
the 8th day of the twelfth moon each year. According to the common
belief, on this eighth day of the twelfth moon, many centuries
ago, a certain Buddhist priest Ju Lai set out to beg for food, and
after receiving a good supply of rice and beans from the people,
he returned and divided it with his brother priests, giving each
an equal share, and he became celebrated for his great charity.
This day was therefore set apart as an anniversary to commemorate
the event. The idea was that by practising self-denial on this
day, one would gain favor in the sight of this Buddha Ju Lai,
therefore the only food eaten was rice, grain and beans, all mixed
together in a sort of porridge, but without any salt or other
flavoring. It was not at all pleasant to eat, being absolutely


WE now reached the time set apart for cleaning the Palace in
preparation for the New Year festivals. Everything had to be taken
down and thoroughly overhauled, and all the images, pictures,
furniture and everything else were subjected to a thorough
scrubbing. Her Majesty again consulted her book in order to choose
a lucky day on which to commence these operations, finally
choosing the twelfth day as being most favorable. As we had all
received our orders previously, we commenced early on the morning
of the twelfth. Several of the Court ladies were told off to take
down and clean the images of Buddha and prepare new curtains for
them. The rest of the cleaning was done by the eunuchs. I asked
Her Majesty whether I was to clean her jewelry, but she answered
that as nobody but herself ever wore it, it didn't need cleaning.

After everything had been cleaned to Her Majesty's satisfaction,
she prepared a list of names of the people she desired to attend
the ceremony of Tzu Sui. This ceremony was held on the last day of
each year and was something like the midnight services usually
held in Europe on the last night of each old year--just a farewell
ceremony to bid the old year adieu. The guests were invited about
a fortnight ahead, so as to give them plenty of time to get ready.
Her Majesty also ordered new winter clothing for the Court ladies.
The only difference between these new garments and those we were
then. wearing was that they were trimmed with the fur of the
silver fox instead of the gray squirrel.

The next thing was to prepare cakes, which were to be placed
before the Buddhas and ancestors, during the New Year. It was
necessary that Her Majesty should make the first one herself. So
when Her Majesty decided that it was time to prepare these cakes
the whole Court went into a room specially prepared for the
purpose and the eunuchs brought in the ingredients-ground rice,
sugar and yeast. These were mixed together into a sort of dough
and then steamed instead of baked, which caused it to rise just
like ordinary bread, it being believed that the higher the cake
rises, the better pleased are the gods and the more fortunate the
maker. The first cake turned out fine and we all congratulated Her
Majesty, who was evidently much pleased herself at the result.
Then she ordered each of the Court ladies to make one, which we
did, with disastrous results, not one turning out as it should.
This being my first year, there was some excuse for my failure,
but I was surprised that none of the older Court ladies fared any
better, and on inquiring from one of them the reason, she replied:
"Why, I did it purposely, of course, so as to flatter Her
Majesty's vanity. Certainly I could make them just as well as she,
if not better, but it would not be good policy." After we had all
finished making our cakes, the eunuchs were ordered to make the
rest, and needless to say they were perfect in every way.

The next thing was to prepare small plates of dates and fresh
fruits of every kind. These were decorated with evergreens, etc.,
and placed before the images of Buddha. Then we prepared glass
dishes of candy, which were to be offered to the God of the
Kitchen. On the twenty-third day of the last moon the God of the
Kitchen left this earth to go on a visit to the King of Heaven, to
whom he reported all that we had been doing during the past year,
returning to earth again on the last day of the year. The idea of
offering him these sweets was in order that they should stick to
his mouth and prevent him from telling too much. When these
candies were prepared, we all adjourned to the kitchen and placed
the offering on a table specially placed for the purpose. Turning
to the head cook, she said: "You had better look out now; the God
of the Kitchen will tell how much you have stolen during the past
year, and you will be punished."

The following day another ceremony had to be gone through, that of
writing out the New Year Greetings for the guests and Court, so in
the morning we all went with Her Majesty to the Audience Hall,
where the eunuchs had prepared large sheets of yellow, red and
pale green paper. Her Majesty took up a large brush and commenced
to write. On some of these sheets she wrote the character "Shou"
(Long Life) and on others "Fu" (Prosperity). By and bye, when she
began to feel tired, she would get either one of the Court ladies
or one of the official writers to finish them for her. When
finished, they were distributed to the guests and different
officials, the ones Her Majesty had written herself being reserved
for her special favorites. These were given out a few days before
the New Year.

Her Majesty received New Year presents from all the Viceroys and
principal officials. She would examine each present as it was
received, and if it found favor in her eyes, she would use it, but
if not, she would have it locked away in one of the storerooms and
probably never see it again. These presents consisted of small
pieces of furniture, curios, jewelry, silks, in fact
everything--even clothing. The present sent by Viceroy Yuan Shih
Kai was a yellow satin robe, embroidered with different colored
precious stones and pearls designed to represent the peony flower;
the leaves were of green jade. It was really a magnificent thing,
and must have cost a fortune. The only drawback was its weight; it
was too heavy to wear comfortably. Her Majesty appeared delighted
with this gown, and wore it the first day, after which it was
discarded altogether, although I often suggested that she should
wear it, as it was the most magnificent gown I ever saw. Once when
Her Majesty was granting an audience to the Diplomatic Corps, I
suggested that she should wear this dress, but she refused, giving
no reason, so nobody outside the Court has ever seen this
wonderful garment.

Another costly present was received from the Viceroy of Canton,
and consisted of four bags of pearls, each bag containing several
thousands. They were all perfect in shape and color, and would
have brought fabulous prices in Europe or America. However, Her
Majesty had so many jewels, especially pearls, that she hardly
paid any attention to them beyond remarking that they were very

The Young Empress and the Court ladies were also expected to give
presents to Her Majesty each New Year. These were for the most
part articles that we had made ourselves, such as shoes,
handkerchiefs, collars, bags, etc. My mother, my sister and myself
made presents of mirrors, perfumes, soaps and similar toilet
accessories which we had brought with us from Paris. These Her
Majesty appreciated very much; she was very vain. The eunuchs and
servant girls gave fancy cakes and other food stuffs.

The presents were so numerous that they filled several rooms, but
we were not allowed to remove them until Her Majesty gave orders
to do so.

The Court ladies also exchanged presents among themselves, which
often led to confusion and amusement. On this occasion I had
received some ten or a dozen different presents, and when it came
my turn to give something, I decided to use up some of the
presents I had received from my companions. To my surprise, the
next day I received from one of the Court ladies an embroidered
handkerchief which I immediately recognized as the identical
handkerchief I had myself sent her as my New Year's present. On
mentioning the fact, this lady turned and said: "Well, that is
rather funny; I was just wondering what had made you return the
shoes I sent you." Of course everybody laughed very heartily, and
still further merriment was caused when, on comparing all the
presents, it was found that quite half of us had received back our
own presents. In order to settle the matter, we threw them all
into a heap and divided them as evenly as possible, everybody
being satisfied with the result.

About a week before New Year's day all audiences ceased and the
seals were put away until after the holidays. During this time no
business was transacted by Her Majesty. Everything was much more
comfortable and we could see that Her Majesty also appreciated the
change from bustle to quietness. We had nothing whatever to do but
to take things easy until the last day of the year.

Early on the morning of the thirtieth Her Majesty went to worship
before the Buddhas and Ancestral Tablets. After this ceremony was
finished, the guests began to arrive, until by midday, all the
guests, numbering about fifty, were present. The principal guests
were: The Imperial Princess (Empress Dowager's adopted daughter),
Princess Chung (wife of Emperor Kwang Hsu's brother), Princesses
Shun and Tao (wives of the Emperor's younger brothers), Princess
hung (wife of the nephew of the Imperial Princess), and Prince
Ching's family. All these ladies were frequent visitors to the
Court. Next day many other Princesses, not of the Imperial family,
but whose titles were honorary titles bestowed by previous rulers,
came. Next, the daughters of the high Manchu officials and many
other people whom I had never seen before. By midday all the
guests had arrived, and, after being presented to Her Majesty,
were taken to their different apartments and told to rest a while.
At two o'clock in the afternoon everybody assembled in the
Audience Hall, lined up according to their different ranks and,
led by the Young Empress, kowtowed to Her Majesty. This was the
ceremony Tzu Sui already referred to, and was simply a last
goodbye to Her Majesty before the New Year set in. When it was all
over, Her Majesty gave each of us a small purse made of red satin
embroidered with gold, containing a sum of money. This is to
enable each one to commence the New Year with a kind of reserve
fund for a rainy day, when they would have this money to fall back
upon. It is an old Manchu custom and is still kept up.

The evening was spent in music and enjoyment, and was carried on
right through the night, none of us going to bed. At Her Majesty's
suggestion we commenced gambling with dice, Her Majesty providing
each of us with money, sometimes as much as $200. She told us to
be serious about it, and to try and win, but of course we took
good care not to win from Her Majesty. When Her Majesty began to
tire, she stopped the game and said: "Now, all this money I have
won I am going to throw on the floor, and you girls can scramble
for it." We knew that she wanted to see some fun, so we fought for
it as hard as we could.

At midnight the eunuchs brought into the room a large brass
brazier containing live charcoal. Her Majesty pulled a leaf from a
large evergreen tree, which had been placed there for the purpose,
and threw it into the fire. We each followed her example, adding
large pieces of resin, which perfumed the whole atmosphere. This
ceremony was supposed to bring good luck during the coming year.

The next item was making cakes or pies for New Year's day. On the
first of the New Year, nobody is allowed to eat rice, these cakes
taking its place. They were made of flour paste, with minced meat
inside. While some of us were preparing these cakes, others were
peeling lotus seeds for Her Majesty's breakfast.

It was now well on into the morning hours and Her Majesty said
that she was tired and would go and rest a while. She was not
going to sleep, however, so we could carry on our noise as much as
we liked. This we did for some time, and on visiting Her Majesty's
bedroom, we found that she was fast asleep. We then all repaired
to our various rooms and commenced to make ourselves tidy for the
day. As soon as Her Majesty was awake, we all proceeded to her
bedroom, taking with us plates of apples (representing "Peace"),
olives ("Long Life"), lotus seeds (Blessing). She suitably
acknowledged these gifts and wished us all good luck in return.
She inquired whether we had been to bed and, on learning that we
had been up all night, she said that was right. She herself had
not meant to sleep, only to rest a little, but somehow she had not
been able to keep awake, and gave as a reason that she was an old
woman. We waited on her until she had finished her toilet and then
wished her a Happy New Year. We then proceeded to pay our respects
to the Emperor and to the Young Empress. There was nothing further
to be done in the way of ceremonies, and we therefore all
accompanied Her Majesty to the theatre. The performance took place
on a stage erected in the courtyard, and Her Majesty closed in one
part of her veranda for the use of the guests and Court ladies.
During the performance I began to feel very drowsy, and eventually
fell fast asleep leaning against one of the pillars. I awoke
rather suddenly to find that something had been dropped into my
mouth, but on investigation I found it was nothing worse than a
piece of candy, which I immediately proceeded to eat. On
approaching Her Majesty, she asked me how I had enjoyed the candy,
and told me not to sleep, but to have a good time like the rest. I
never saw Her Majesty in better humor. She played with us just
like a young girl, and one could hardly recognize in her the
severe Empress Dowager we knew her to be.

The guests also all seemed to be enjoying themselves very much. In
the evening, after the theatrical performance was over, Her
Majesty ordered the eunuchs to bring in their instruments and give
us some music. She herself sang several songs, and we all sang at
intervals. Then Her Majesty ordered the eunuchs to sing. Some were
trained singers, and sang very nicely, but others could not sing
at all and caused quite a lot of amusement by their efforts to
please Her Majesty. The Emperor appeared to be the only one
present who was not having a good time; he never smiled once. On
meeting him outside, I asked him why he looked so sad, but he only
answered: "A Happy New Year" in English, smiled once, and walked

Her Majesty rose very early next morning and proceeded to the
Audience Hall to worship the God of Wealth. We all accompanied her
and took part in the ceremony. During the next few days we did
nothing but gamble and scramble for Her Majesty's winnings. This
was all very nice in its way, until one day one of the Court
ladies began to cry, and accused me of stepping on her toes in the
scramble. This made Her Majesty angry and she ordered the offender
to go to her room and stay there for three days, saying that she
did not deserve to be enjoying herself if she could not stand a
little thing like that.

The tenth of the first moon was the birthday of the Young Empress,
and we asked Her Majesty whether we would be allowed to give
presents. She gave us permission to give whatever presents we
might wish to. However, we submitted all our presents to Her
Majesty for her approval, before giving them to the Young Empress,
and we had to be very discreet and not choose anything which Her
Majesty might think was too good. It was very difficult to tell
what to send, as Her Majesty might take a fancy to any of the
presents herself, even though they might not be of much value
intrinsically. In such a case Her Majesty would tell us that she
would keep it, and to give the Young Empress something else.

The celebration was very similar to that of the Emperor's
birthday, but not on such an elaborate scale. We presented the Ru
Yee to the Young Empress and kowtowed to her. She was supposed to
receive these tokens of respect sitting on her throne, but out of
deference to Her Majesty (we were Her Majesty's Court ladies) she
stood up. She always was very polite to us under all

On this day, as on the Emperor's birthday, the Emperor, Young
Empress and Secondary wife dined together. These were the only two
occasions when they did so, always dining separately at other
times. Her Majesty sent two of her Court ladies to wait upon the
Empress, I myself being one of them. I was very pleased, as I
wanted to see for myself how they conducted themselves when
together. I went into the Young Empress' room and informed her
that Her Majesty had ordered us to wait upon them, to which she
simply answered: "Very well." So we went to the dining room and
set the table, placing the chairs into position. The meal was much
different from what I expected. Instead of being stiff and serious
like Her Majesty when dining they were quite free and easy, and we
were allowed to join in the conversation and partake of some of
the food and wine. A very pretty ceremony was gone through at the
commencement of the meal. The Emperor and Young Empress seated
themselves, and the Secondary wife filled their cups with wine and
presented it to them in turn as a sign of respect, the Emperor
first. When the meal was over we returned to Her Majesty's
apartment and told her that everything had passed off nicely. We
knew very well that we had been sent simply to act as spies, but
we had nothing interesting to tell Her Majesty. She asked if the
Emperor had been very serious and we answered "Yes."

The New Year celebrations terminated with the Festival of Lanterns
on the fifteenth day of the first moon. These lanterns were of
different shapes, representing animals, flowers, fruits, etc.,
etc. They were made of white gauze, painted in different colors.
One lantern representing a dragon about fifteen feet long was
fastened to ten poles, and ten eunuchs were required to hold it in
position. In front of this dragon a eunuch was holding a lantern
representing a large pearl, which the dragon was supposed to
devour. This ceremony was gone through to the accompaniment of

After the lanterns came a firework display. These fireworks
represented different scenes in the history of China, grape vines,
wisteria blossoms, and many other flowers. It was a very imposing
sight. Portable wooden houses had been placed near the fireworks
from which Her Majesty and the rest of the Court could see them
without being out in the cold air. This display lasted for several
hours without a stop, and thousands of firecrackers were set off
during the time. Her Majesty seemed to enjoy the noise very much.
Altogether it was a good finish to the celebrations and we all
enjoyed it very much.

The next morning all the guests departed from the Palace and we
re-commenced our everyday life.

As usual after the guests had departed Her Majesty began to
criticise their mode of dressing, their ignorance of Court
etiquette, etc., but added that she was rather glad, as she didn't
want them to know anything about Court life.

As Spring soon arrived it was time for the farmers to commence
sowing seed for the rice crop, and of course there was another
ceremony. The Emperor visited the Temple of Agriculture where he
prayed for a good harvest. Then he proceeded to a small plot of
ground situated in the temple and after turning the earth over
with a hand plow he sowed the first seeds of the season. This was
to show the farmers that their labors were not despised and that
even the Emperor was not ashamed to engage in this work. Anybody
could attend this ceremony, it being quite a public affair, and
many farmers were present.

About this same time the Young Empress went to see the silkworms
and watch for the eggs to be hatched. As soon as they were out,
the Young Empress gathered mulberry leaves for the worms to feed
upon and watched them until they were big enough to commence
spinning. Each day a fresh supply of leaves were gathered and they
were fed four or five times daily. Several of the Court ladies
were told off to feed the worms during the night and see that they
did not escape. These silkworms grow very rapidly and we could see
the difference each day. Of course when they became full grown
they required more food and we were kept busy constantly feeding
them. The Young Empress was able to tell by holding them up to the
light when they were ready to spin. If they were transparent then
they were ready, and were placed on paper and left there. When
spinning the silkworm does not eat, therefore all we had to do was
to watch that they did not get away. After spinning for four or
five days their supply of silk becomes exhausted and they shrivel
up and apparently die. These apparently dead worms were collected
by the Young Empress and placed in a box where they were kept
until they developed into moths. They were then placed on thick
paper and left there to lay their eggs.

If left to themselves, the silkworms when ready for spinning will
spin the silk around their bodies until they are completely
covered up, gradually forming a cocoon. In order to determine when
they have finished spinning it was customary to take the cocoon
and rattle it near the ear. If the worm was exhausted you could
plainly hear the body rattle inside the cocoon. The cocoon is then
placed in boiling water until it becomes soft. This, of course,
kills the worm. In order to separate the silk a needle is used to
pick up the end of the thread which is then wound on to a spool
and is ready for weaving. A few of the cocoons were kept until the
worms had turned into moths, which soon ate their way out of the
cocoons when they were placed on sheets of paper and left to lay
their eggs, which are taken away and kept in a cool place until
the following Spring, when the eggs are hatched and become worms.

When the silk had all been separated we took it to Her Majesty for
inspection and approval. On this particular occasion Her Majesty
ordered one of the eunuchs to bring in some silk which she herself
had woven when a young girl in the Palace, and on comparing it
with the new silk it was found to be just as good in every way
although many years had passed since it was made.

All this was done with the same object as the Emperor sowing the
seeds, viz.:--to set the people a good example and to encourage
them in their work.


THIS year we had a very hot spring and Her Majesty was desirous
of getting back again to the Sea Palace. However, as war had
already been declared between Russia and Japan it was thought best
to remain in the Forbidden City until things were more settled.
Her Majesty was very much worried over this war and spent most of
her time in offering prayers to the different divinities for the
welfare of China and we, of course, were expected to join her.
Things were very monotonous about this time and nothing particular
occurred until the beginning of the second moon. By this time Her
Majesty was quite sick of staying in the Forbidden City and said
that no matter what happened she would remove the Court to the Sea
Palace, where Miss Carl could get along and finish the portrait
which had been hanging on for nearly a year. So on the sixth day
of the second moon we moved back to the Sea Palace. Everything
looked fresh and green and many of the trees had commenced to
blossom. Her Majesty took us around the lake and we were in such
good spirits that Her Majesty remarked that we acted more like a
lot of wild animals escaped from a menagerie than human beings.
She was much brighter now, but said that she would be happier
still to get to the Summer Palace.

Miss Carl was summoned to the Palace, and Her Majesty visited her
and asked to see the portrait. She again asked me how long it
would be before it was finished, and I told her that unless she
gave a little more of her time to posing it might not be finished
for quite a long time. After a lot of consideration Her Majesty
finally agreed to give Miss Carl five minutes each day after the
morning audience, but that she desired it to be distinctly
understood that she did not intend to pose for anything but the
face. She accordingly sat for two mornings, but on the third
morning she made an excuse saying that she was not feeling well. I
told her that Miss Carl could not proceed further unless she sat
for the face, so, although she was very angry, she gave Miss Carl
a few more sittings until the face was finished. She absolutely
refused to sit again whether it was finished or not, saying that
she would have nothing more to do with the portrait. I myself sat
for the remainder of the portrait, viz.:--for Her Majesty's dress,
jewels, etc., and so by degrees the portrait was completed.

When Her Majesty learned that the portrait was nearing completion
she was very much pleased, and I thought it a good opportunity to
again broach the subject of payment. Her Majesty asked me whether
I really thought it necessary to pay cash for the portrait and how
much. I told her that as painting was Miss Carl's profession, if
she had not been engaged on painting Her Majesty's portrait she
would most probably have been engaged on other similar work for
which she would have received compensation, and that therefore she
would naturally expect to be paid even more handsomely in this
instance. It was difficult to make Her Majesty understand this and
she asked if I was quite certain that Miss Carl would not be
offended by an offer of money, also Mrs. Conger who had presented
her. I explained that in America and Europe it was quite customary
for ladies to earn their own living either by painting, teaching
or in some other similar manner, and that it was no disgrace but
rather the opposite. Her Majesty seemed very much surprised to
learn this, and asked why Miss Carl's brother did not support her
himself. I told Her Majesty that Miss Carl did not desire him to
provide for her, besides which he was married and had a family to
support. Her Majesty gave it as her opinion that this was a funny
kind of civilization. In China when the parents were dead it was
the duty of the sons to provide for their unmarried sisters until
such time as they married. She also said that if Chinese ladies
were to work for their living it would only set people talking
about them. However, she promised to speak with Her Ministers
about paying Miss Carl, and I felt somewhat relieved as there
seemed to be a probability of something satisfactory being
arranged after all.

The twelfth day of the second moon was the anniversary of another
interesting ceremony, viz.:--the birthday of the flowers and
trees. After the morning audience we all went into the Palace
grounds, where the eunuchs were waiting with huge rolls of red
silk. These we all commenced to cut into narrow strips about two
inches wide and three feet long. When we had cut sufficient Her
Majesty took a strip of red silk and another of yellow silk which
she tied round the stem of one of the peony trees (in China the
peony is considered to be the queen of flowers). Then all the
Court ladies, eunuchs and servant girls set to work to decorate
every single tree and plant in the grounds with red silk ribbons,
in the same manner as Her Majesty had done. This took up nearly
the entire morning and it made a very pretty picture, with the
bright costumes of the Court ladies, green trees and beautiful

We then went to a theatrical performance. This represented all the
tree fairies and flower fairies celebrating their birthday. The
Chinese believe that all the trees and flowers have their own
particular fairies, the tree fairies being men and the flower
fairies being women. The costumes were very pretty and were chosen
to blend with the green trees and flowers which were on the stage.
One of the costumes worn by a lotus fairy was made of pink silk,
worked so as to represent the petals of the flower, the skirt
being of green silk to represent the lotus leaves. Whenever this
fairy moved about the petals would move just as though wafted by
the breeze, like a natural flower. Several other costumes
representing different flowers were made in the same manner. The
scene was a woodland dell, surrounded with huge rocks perforated
with caves, out of which came innumerable small fairies bearing
decanters of wine. These small fairies represented the smaller
flowers, daisies, pomegranate blossoms, etc. The result can be
better imagined than described. All the fairies gathered together
and drank the wine, after which they commenced to sing,
accompanied by stringed instruments, played very softly. The final
scene was a very fitting ending to the performance. It represented
a small rainbow which gradually descended until it rested on the
rocks; then each fairy in turn would sit upon the rainbow which
rose again and conveyed them through the clouds into Heaven. This
completed the celebration and we all retired to our rooms.

On the fourteenth day of the second moon (March 2, 1904), I
completed my first year at Court. I had quite forgotten this fact
until Her Majesty reminded me of it. She asked whether I was
comfortable and happy where I was or did I long to return to
Paris. I answered truly that although I had enjoyed myself while
in France still I preferred the life of the Court, it was so
interesting, besides which I was in my own native land and among
all my friends and relations, and naturally I preferred that to
living in a strange land. Her Majesty smiled and said she was
afraid that sooner or later I would tire of the life in the Palace
and fly away again across the ocean. She said that the only way to
make sure of me was to marry me off. She again asked me what was
my objection to getting married; was I afraid of having a
mother-in-law, or what was it? If that was all, I need not worry,
for so long as she was alive there was nothing to be afraid of.
Her Majesty said that even if I were married it would not be
necessary for me to stay at home all the time, but that I would be
able to spend my time in the Palace as usual. Continuing, she
said: "Last year when this marriage question came up I was willing
to make allowances as you had been brought up somewhat differently
from the rest of my Court ladies, but do not run away with the
idea that I have forgotten all about it. I am still on the lookout
for a suitable husband for you." I simply answered as before--that
I had absolutely no desire to marry, but that I wanted to stay
where I was and live at the Court so long as Her Majesty was
willing to have me there. She made some remark about my being
stubborn and said that I should probably change my mind before

During the latter part of the second moon Miss Carl worked very
hard to get the portrait finished and Her Majesty again consulted
her book in order to select a lucky day on which to put the final
touches to the picture. The 19th of April, 1904, was chosen by Her
Majesty as the best time, and Miss Carl was duly notified. Miss
Carl most emphatically stated that it was quite impossible to
finish the portrait properly by the time named, and I told Her
Majesty what Miss Carl said, explaining that there were many small
finishing touches to be added and I suggested it would be better
to give Miss Carl a few days longer if possible. However, Her
Majesty said that it must be finished by four o'clock on the 19th
day of April, and therefore there was nothing further to be said.

About a week before the time fixed for completion Her Majesty paid
a visit to the studio to finally inspect the picture. She seemed
very much pleased with it, but still objected to her face being
painted dark on one side and light on the other. As I have said
before, I had explained that this was the shading, but Her Majesty
insisted on my telling Miss Carl to make both sides of her face
alike. This led to a pretty hot discussion between Miss Carl and
myself but she finally saw that it was no use going against Her
Majesty's wishes in the matter, so consented to make some slight
alteration. Happening to catch sight of some foreign characters at
the foot of the painting Her Majesty inquired what they were and
on being informed that they were simply the artist's name, said:
"Well, I know foreigners do some funny things, but I think this
about the funniest I ever heard of. Fancy putting her own name on
my picture. This will naturally convey the impression that it is a
portrait of Miss Carl, and not a portrait of myself at all." I
again had to explain the reason for this, saying that it was
always customary for foreign artists to write their names at the
foot of any picture they painted, whether portrait or otherwise.
So Her Majesty said she supposed it was all right, and would have
to remain, but she looked anything but satisfied with it.

By working practically all night and all day, Miss Carl managed to
get the portrait finished by the time stipulated, and Her Majesty
arranged that Mrs. Conger and the other ladies of the Diplomatic
Corps should come to the Palace and see the portrait. This was
quite a private audience and Her Majesty received them in one of
the small Audience Halls. After the usual greetings Her Majesty
ordered us to conduct the ladies to the studio, which we did, Her
Majesty bidding them good-bye and remaining in her own apartments.
The Young Empress in accordance with instructions from Her
Majesty, accompanied us to the studio, and acted as hostess.
Everybody expressed great admiration for the portrait and it was
voted a marvellous likeness. After inspecting the picture we all
adjourned for refreshments. The Young Empress sat at the head of
the table and asked me to sit next to her. Shortly after everybody
was seated a eunuch came and asked the Young Empress to inform
these ladies that the Emperor was slightly indisposed and was
unable to be present. I interpreted this, and everybody appeared
satisfied. As a matter of fact the Emperor was quite well, but we
had forgotten all about him. And so the guests departed without
seeing him on this occasion.

On reporting everything to Her Majesty as usual, she asked what
they thought of the portrait, and we told her that they had
admired it very much. Her Majesty said: "Of course they did, it
was painted by a foreign artist." She didn't appear to be very
much interested and was quite cross about something, which caused
me great disappointment after all the trouble Miss Carl had taken
to finish the portrait. Her Majesty then remarked that Miss Carl
had taken a long time to get the portrait finished, and asked why
nobody had reminded her to inform the Emperor about the audience,
being particularly angry with the head eunuch on this occasion.
Her Majesty said that as soon as she remembered, she immediately
sent a eunuch to make excuses, as the ladies might very well think
that something had happened to the Emperor and it might cause
talk. I told her that I explained to them that the Emperor was not
well and they evidently thought nothing further of his absence.

By the next day the carpenters in the Palace had finished the
frame for the portrait and when it had been properly fitted Her
Majesty ordered my brother to take a photograph of it. This
photograph turned out so well that Her Majesty said it was better
than the portrait itself.

The picture being now quite finished, Miss Carl prepared to take
her leave, which she did a few days later, having received a
handsome present in cash from Her Majesty in addition to a
decoration and many other presents as remuneration for her
services. For quite a long time after Miss Carl had left the
Palace I felt very lonely, as during her stay I had found her a
genial companion and we had many things in common to talk about.
Her Majesty noticed that I was rather quiet, and asked me the
cause. She said: "I suppose you are beginning to miss your friend,
the lady artist." I did not care to admit that this was so, for
fear she might think me ungrateful to herself, besides which I
knew she did not like the idea of my being too friendly with
foreigners. So I explained to Her Majesty that I always did regret
losing old friends but that I would get used to the change very
soon. Her Majesty was very nice about it and said she wished that
she was a little more sentimental over such small things, but that
when I got to her age I should be able to take things more

After Miss Carl had left the Court, Her Majesty asked me one day:
"Did she ever ask you much about the Boxer movement of 1900?" I
told her that I knew very little of the Boxer movement myself, as
I was in Paris at the time and I could not say very much. I
assured her that the lady artist never mentioned the subject to
me. Her Majesty said: "I hate to mention about that affair and I
would not like to have foreigners ask my people questions on that
subject. Do you know, I have often thought that I am the most
clever woman that ever lived and others cannot compare with me.
Although I have heard much about Queen Victoria and read a part of
her life which someone has translated into Chinese, still I don't
think her life was half so interesting and eventful as mine. My
life is not finished yet and no one knows what is going to happen
in the future. I may surprise the foreigners some day with
something extraordinary and do something quite contrary to
anything I have yet done. England is one of great powers of the
world, but this has not been brought about by Queen Victoria's
absolute rule. She had the able men of parliament back of her at
all times and of course they discussed everything until the best
result was obtained, then she would sign the necessary documents
and really had nothing to say about the policy of the country. Now
look at me. I have 400,000,000 people, all dependent on my
judgment. Although I have the Grand Council to consult with, they
only look after the different appointments, but anything of an
important nature I must decide myself. What does the Emperor know?
I have been very successful so far, but I never dreamt that the
Boxer movement would end with such serious results for China. That
is the only mistake I have made in my life. I should have issued
an Edict at once to stop the Boxers practising their belief, but
both Prince Tuan and Duke Lan told me that they firmly believed
the Boxers were sent by Heaven to enable China to get rid of all
the undesirable and hated foreigners. Of course they meant mostly
missionaries, and you know how I hate them and how very religious
I always am, so I thought I would not say anything then but would
wait and see what would happen. I felt sure they were going too
far as one day Prince Tuan brought the Boxer leader to the Summer
Palace and summoned all the eunuchs into the courtyard of the
Audience Hall and examined each eunuch on the head to see if there
was a cross. He said, `This cross is not visible to you, but I can
identify a Christian by finding a cross on the head.' Prince Tuan
then came to my private Palace and told me that the Boxer leader
was at the Palace Gate and had found two eunuchs who were
Christians and asked me what was to be done. I immediately became
very angry and told him that he had no right to bring any Boxers
to the Palace without my permission; but he said this leader was
so powerful that he was able to kill all the foreigners and was
not afraid of the foreign guns, as all the gods were protecting
him. Prince Tuan told me that he had witnessed this himself. A
Boxer shot another with a revolver and the bullet hit him, but did
not harm him in the least. Then Prince Tuan suggested that I hand
these two eunuchs supposed to be Christians to the Boxer leader,
which I did. I heard afterwards that these two eunuchs were
beheaded right in the country somewhere near here. This chief
Boxer came to the Palace the next day, accompanied by Prince Tuan
and Duke Lan, to make all the eunuchs burn incense sticks to prove
that they were not Christians. After that Prince Tuan also
suggested that we had better let the chief Boxer come every day
and teach the eunuchs their belief; that nearly all of Peking was
studying with the Boxers. The next day I was very much surprised
to see all my eunuchs dressed as Boxers. They wore red jackets,
red turbans and yellow trousers. I was sorry to see all my
attendants discard their official robes and wear a funny costume
like that. Duke Lan presented me with a suit of Boxer clothes. At
that time Yung Lu, who was the head of the Grand Council, was ill
and asked leave of absence for a month. While he was sick, I used
to send one of the eunuchs to see him every day, and that day the
eunuch returned and informed me that Yung Lu was quite well and
would come to the Palace the next day, although he still had
fifteen days more leave. I was puzzled to know why he should give
up the balance of his leave. However, I was very anxious to see
him, as I wished to consult him about this chief Boxer. Yung Lu
looked grieved when he learned what had taken place at the Palace,
and said that these Boxers were nothing but revolutionaries and
agitators. They were trying to get the people to help them to kill
the foreigners, but he was very much afraid the result would be
against the Government. I told him that probably he was right, and
asked him what should be done. He told me that he would talk to
Prince Tuan, but the next day Prince Tuan told me that he had had
a fight with Yung Lu about the Boxer question, and said that all
of Peking had become Boxers, and if we tried to turn them, they
would do all they could to kill everyone in Peking, including the
Court; that they (the Boxer party) had the day selected to kill
all the foreign representatives; that Tung Fou Hsiang, a very
conservative General and one of the Boxers, had promised to bring
his troops out to help the Boxers to fire on the Legations. When I
heard this I was very much worried and anticipated serious
trouble, so I sent for Yung Lu at once and kept Prince Tuan with
me. Yung Lu came, looking very much worried, and he was more so
after I had told him what the Boxers were going to do. He
immediately suggested that I should issue an Edict, saying that
these Boxers were a secret society and that no one should believe
their teaching, and to instruct the Generals of the nine gates to
drive all the Boxers out of the city at once. When Prince Tuan
heard this he was very angry and told Yung Lu that if such an
Edict was issued, the Boxers would come to the Court and kill
everybody. When Prince Tuan told me this, I thought I had better
leave everything to him. After he left the Palace, Yung Lu said
that Prince Tuan was absolutely crazy and that he was sure these
Boxers would be the cause of a great deal of trouble. Yung Lu also
said that Prince Tuan must be insane to be helping the Boxers to
destroy the Legations; that these Boxers were a very common lot,
without education, and they imagined the few foreigners in China
were the only ones on the earth and if they were killed it would
be the end of them. They forgot how very strong these foreign
countries are, and that if the foreigners in China were all
killed, thousands would come to avenge their death. Yung Lu
assured me that one foreign soldier could kill one hundred Boxers
without the slightest trouble, and begged me to give him
instructions to order General Nieh, who was afterwards killed by
the Boxers, to bring his troops to protect the Legations. Of
course I gave him this instruction at once, and also told him that
he must see Prince Tuan at once and Duke Lan to tell them that
this was a very serious affair and that they had better not
interfere with Yung Lu's plans. Matters became worse day by day
and Yung Lu was the only one against the Boxers, but what could
one man accomplish against so many? One day Prince Tuan and Duke
Lan came and asked me to issue an Edict ordering the Boxers to
kill all the Legation people first and then all remaining
foreigners. I was very angry and refused to issue this Edict.
After we had talked a very long time, Prince Tuan said that this
must be done without delay, for the Boxers were getting ready to
fire on the Legations and would do so the very next day. I was
furious and ordered several of the eunuchs to drive him out, and
he said as he was going out: `If you refuse to issue that Edict, I
will do it for you whether you are willing or not,' and he did.
After that you know what happened. He issued these Edicts unknown
to me and was responsible for a great many deaths. He found that
he could not carry his plans through and heard that the foreign
troops were not very far from Peking. He was so frightened that he
made us all leave Peking." As she finished saying this, she
started to cry, and I told her that I felt very sorry for her. She
said: "You need not feel sorry for me for what I have gone
through; but you must feel sorry that my fair name is ruined. That
is the only mistake I have made in my whole life and it was done
in a moment of weakness. Before I was just like a piece of pure
jade; everyone admired me for what I have done for my country, but
the jade has a flaw in it since this Boxer movement and it will
remain there to the end of my life. I have regretted many, many
times that I had such confidence in, and believed that wicked
Prince Tuan; he was responsible for everything."

By the end of the third moon Her Majesty had had enough of the Sea
Palace and the Court moved into the Summer Palace. This time we
travelled by boat as it was very beautiful weather. On reaching
the water-gates of the Palace we found everything just lovely and
the peach blossoms were in full bloom. Her Majesty plainly showed
how glad she was to be back once more and for the time being
seemed to have forgotten everything else, even the war.


MY second year at the Palace was very much the same as the first.
We celebrated each anniversary and festival in the same way as
before: the usual audience was held each morning by Her Majesty,
after which the day was given up to enjoyment. Amongst other
things Her Majesty took great interest in her vegetable gardens,
and superintended the planting of the different seeds. When
vegetables were ready for pulling, from time to time, all the
Court ladies were supplied with a kind of small pruning fork and
gathered in the crop. Her Majesty seemed to enjoy seeing us work
in the fields, and when the fit seized her she would come along
and help. In order to encourage us in this work, Her Majesty would
give a small present to the one who showed the best results so we
naturally did our best in order to please her, as much as for the
reward. Another hobby of Her Majesty's was the rearing of
chickens, and a certain number of birds were allotted to each of
the Court ladies. We were supposed to look after these ourselves
and the eggs had to be taken to Her Majesty every morning. I could
not understand why it was that my chickens gave less eggs than any
of the others until one day my eunuch informed me that he had seen
one of the other eunuchs stealing the eggs from my hen house and
transferring them to another, in order to help his mistress to
head the list.

Her Majesty was very particular not to encourage untidyness or
extravagance among the Court ladies. On one occasion she told me
to open a parcel which was lying in her room. I was about to cut
the string when Her Majesty stopped me and told me to untie it.
This I managed to do after a lot of trouble, and opened the
parcel. Her Majesty next made me fold the paper neatly and place
it in a drawer along with the string so that I would know where to
find it should it be wanted again. From time to time Her Majesty
would give each of us money for our own private use and whenever
we wanted to buy anything, say flowers, handkerchiefs, shoes,
ribbons, etc., these could be bought from the servant girls who
used to make them in the Palace and we would enter each item in a
small note book supplied by Her Majesty for the purpose. At the
end of each month Her Majesty examined our accounts and in case
she considered that we had been extravagant she would give us a
good scolding, while on the other hand, if we managed to show a
good balance she would compliment us on our good management. Thus
under Her Majesty's tuition we learned to be careful and tidy
against such time as we might be called upon to look after homes
of our own.

About this time my father began to show signs of breaking down and
asked for permission to withdraw from public life. However, Her
Majesty would not hear of this and decided to give him another six
months vacation instead. It was his intention to go to Shanghai
and see the family physician, but Her Majesty did not approve of
this, maintaining that her own doctors were quite as good as any
foreign doctor. These doctors therefore attended him for some
time, prescribing all kinds of different concoctions daily. After
a while he seemed to pick up a little but was still unable to get
about on account of having chronic rheumatism. We therefore again
suggested that it would be better for him to see his own doctor in
Shanghai, who understood my father thoroughly, but Her Majesty
could not be made to see it in that light. She said that what we
wanted was a little patience, that the Chinese doctors might be
slow, but they were sure, and she was convinced they would
completely cure my father very soon. The fact of the matter was
she was afraid that if my father went to stay in Shanghai the rest
of the family would want to be there with him, which was not in
her programme at all. So we decided to remain in Peking unless my
father showed signs of getting worse.

In due course the time arrived on which it had been arranged to
hold the Spring Garden Party for the Diplomatic Corps, and as
usual one day was set apart for the Ministers, Secretaries and
members of the various Legations, and the following day for their
wives, etc. This year very few guests attended the Garden Party
but among those who did come were several strangers. About half a
dozen ladies from the Japanese Legation came with Madame Uchida,
wife of the Japanese Minister. Her Majesty was always very pleased
to see this lady whom she very much admired on account of her
extreme politeness. After the usual presentation we conducted the
ladies to luncheon, showed them over the Palace grounds, after
which we wished them good-bye and they took their leave. We
reported everything to Her Majesty, and as usual were asked many
questions. Among the guests there was one lady (English so far as
I could make out) dressed in a heavy tweed travelling costume,
having enormous pockets, into which she thrust her hands as though
it were extremely cold. She wore a cap of the same material. Her
Majesty asked if I had noticed this lady with the clothes made out
of "rice bags," and wasn't it rather unusual to be presented at
Court in such a dress. Her Majesty wanted to know who she was and
where she came from. I replied that she certainly did not belong
to any of the Legations as I was acquainted with everybody there.
Her Majesty said that whoever she was she certainly was not
accustomed to moving in decent society as she (Her Majesty) was
quite certain that it was not the thing to appear at a European
Court in such a costume. "I can tell in a moment," Her Majesty
added, "whether any of these people are desirous of showing proper
respect to me, or whether they consider that I am not entitled to
it. These foreigners seem to have the idea that the Chinese are
ignorant and that therefore they need not be so particular as in
European Society. I think it would be best to let it be understood
for the future what dress should be worn at the different Court
Functions, and at the same time use a certain amount of discretion
in issuing invitations. In that way I can also keep the missionary
element out, as well as other undesirables. I like to meet any
distinguished foreigners who may be visiting in China, but I do
not want any common people at my Court." I suggested that the
Japanese custom could be followed, viz.: to issue proper
invitation cards, stipulating at the foot the dress to be worn on
each particular occasion. Her Majesty thought this would meet the
case and it was decided to introduce a similar rule in China.

Whenever the weather permitted, Her Majesty would pass quite a lot
of her time in the open air watching the eunuchs at work in the
gardens. During the early Spring the lotus plants were
transplanted and she would take keen interest in this work. All
the old roots had to be cut away and the new bulbs planted in
fresh soil. Although the lotus grew in the shallowest part of the
lake (the West side) it was necessary for the eunuchs to wade into
the water sometimes up to their waists in order to weed out the
old plants and set the young ones. Her Majesty would sit for hours
on her favorite bridge (The Jade Girdle Bridge) and superintend
the eunuchs at their work, suggesting from time to time as to how
the bulbs were to be planted. This work generally took three or
four days, and the Court ladies in attendance would stand beside
Her Majesty and pass the time making fancy tassels for Her
Majesty's cushions, in fact doing anything so long as we did not

It was during the Spring that Yuan Shih Kai paid another visit to
the Palace, and among other subjects discussed was the Russo-Japan
war. He told Her Majesty that it was developing into a very
serious affair and that he feared China would be the principal
sufferer in the long run. Her Majesty was very much upset by this
news, and mentioned that she had been advised by one of the
censors to make a present to the Japanese of a large quantity of
rice, but had decided to take no action whatever in the matter,
which resolve Yuan Shih Kai strongly supported.

I was still working each day translating the various newspaper
reports and telegrams relating to the war and one morning, seeing
a paragraph to the effect that Kang Yu Wei (Leader of the Reform
Movement in China in 1898) had arrived at Singapore from Batavia,
I thought it might interest Her Majesty and so translated it along
with the rest. Her Majesty immediately became very much excited
which made me feel frightened as I did not know what could be the
matter. However, she explained to me that this man had caused all
kinds of trouble in China, that before meeting Kang Yu Wei the
Emperor had been a zealous adherent to the traditions of his
ancestors but since then had plainly shown his desire to introduce
reforms and even Christianity into the country. "On one occasion,"
continued Her Majesty, "he caused the Emperor to issue
instructions for the Summer Palace to be surrounded by soldiers so
as to keep me prisoner until these reforms could be put into
effect, but through the faithfulness of Yung Lu, a member of the
Grand Council, and Yuan Shill Kai, Viceroy of Chihli, I was able
to frustrate the plot. I immediately proceeded to the Forbidden
City, where the Emperor was then staying and after discussing the
question with him he replied that he realized his mistake and
asked me to take over the reins of government and act in his

(The result of this was, of course, the Edict of 1898 appointing
the Empress Dowager as Regent of China.)

Her Majesty had immediately ordered the capture of Kang Yu Wei and
his followers, but he had managed to effect his escape and she had
heard nothing further about him until I translated this report in
the newspaper. She seemed relieved, however, to know where he was,
and seemed anxious to hear what he was doing. She suddenly became
very angry again and asked why it was that the foreign governments
offered protection to Chinese political agitators and criminals.
Why couldn't they leave China to deal with her own subjects and
mind their own business a little more? She gave me instructions to
keep a lookout for any further news of this gentleman and report
to her immediately, but I made up my mind that in any case, I
would not mention anything about him again and so the matter
gradually died away.

During one of our visits to the Sea Palace Her Majesty drew
attention to a large piece of vacant ground and said that it had
formerly been the site of the Audience Hall which had been
destroyed by fire during the Boxer trouble. Her Majesty explained
that this had been purely an accident and was not deliberately
destroyed by the foreign troops. She said that it had long been an
eyesore to her as it was so ugly, and that she had now determined
to build another Audience Hall on the same site, as the present
Audience Hall was too small to accommodate the foreign guests when
they paid their respects at New Year. She therefore commanded the
Board of Works to prepare a model of the new building in
accordance with her own ideas, and submit it for her approval. Up
to that time all the buildings in the Palace Grounds were
typically Chinese but this new Audience Hall was to be more or
less on the foreign plan and up to date in every respect. This
model was accordingly prepared and submitted to Her Majesty. It
was only a small wooden model but was complete in every detail,
even to the pattern of the windows and the carving on the ceilings
and panels. However, I never knew anything to quite come up to Her
Majesty's ideas, and this was no exception. She criticised the
model from every standpoint, ordering this room to be enlarged and
that room to be made smaller: this window to be moved to another
place, etc., etc. So the model went back for reconstruction. When
it was again brought for Her Majesty's inspection everybody agreed
that it was an improvement on the first one, and even Her Majesty
expressed great satisfaction. The next thing was to find a name
for the new building and after serious and mature consideration it
was decided to name it Hai Yen Tang (Sea Coast Audience Hall).
Building operations were commenced immediately and Her Majesty
took great interest in the progress of the work. It had already
been decided that this Audience Hall was to be furnished
throughout in foreign style, with the exception of the throne,
which, of course, retained its Manchu appearance. Her Majesty
compared the different styles of furniture with the catalogues we
had brought with us from France and finally decided on the Louis
Fifteenth style, but everything was to be covered with Imperial
Yellow, with curtains and carpets to match. When everything had
been selected to Her Majesty's satisfaction, my mother asked
permission to defray the expense herself and make a present of
this furniture. This Her Majesty agreed to and the order was
accordingly placed with a well-known Paris firm from whom we had
purchased furniture when in France. By the time the building was
completed the furniture had arrived, and it was quickly installed.
Her Majesty went to inspect it and, of course, had to find fault
as usual. She didn't seem at all pleased with the result of the
experiment and said that after all a Chinese building would have
been the best as it would have had a more dignified appearance.
However, the thing was finished and it was no use finding fault
now, as it could not be changed.

During the Summer months I had plenty of leisure time and devoted
about an hour each day to helping the Emperor with his English. He
was a most intelligent man with a wonderful memory and learned
very quickly. His pronunciation, however, was not good. In a very
short time he was able to read short stories out of an ordinary
school reader and could write from dictation fairly well. His
handwriting was exceptionally fine, while in copying old English
and ornamental characters, he was an expert. Her Majesty seemed
pleased that the Emperor had taken up this study, and said she
thought of taking it up herself as she was quite sure she would
learn it very quickly if she tried. After two lessons she lost
patience, and did not mention the matter again.

Of course these lessons gave me plenty of opportunity to talk with
His Majesty, and on one occasion he ventured the remark that I
didn't seem to have made much progress with Her Majesty in the
matter of reform. I told him that many things had been
accomplished since my arrival at Court, and mentioned the new
Audience Hall as an instance. He didn't appear to think that
anything worth talking about, and advised me to give up the matter
altogether. He said when the proper time arrived--if it ever did
arrive--then I might be of use, but expressed grave doubts on the
subject. He also enquired about my father and I told him that
unless his health improved very soon it would be necessary for us
to leave the Court for a while at any rate. He replied that
although he should very much regret such a necessity, he really
believed that it would be for the best. He said he felt certain
that I should never be able to settle down permanently to Court
life after spending so many years abroad, and for his part would
put no obstacles in the way of my leaving the Court if I desired
to do so.

Her Majesty had given me permission to visit my father twice every
month, and everything appeared to be going along nicely until one
day one of Her Majesty's servant girls told me that Her Majesty
was trying to arrange another marriage for me. At first I did not
take any notice of this, but shortly afterwards Her Majesty
informed me that everything was arranged and that I was to be
married to a certain Prince whom she had chosen. I could see that
Her Majesty was waiting for me to say something, so I told her
that I was very much worried at that time about my father and
begged her to allow the matter to stand over for the time being at
any rate. This made Her Majesty very angry, and she told me that
she considered me very ungrateful after all she had done for me. I
didn't reply, and as her Majesty did not say anything more at the
time, I tried to forget about it. However, on my next visit home,
I told my father all about it, and as before he was strongly
opposed to such a marriage. He suggested that on my return to the
Palace I should lay the whole matter before Li Lien Ying, the head
eunuch, and explain my position, for if anybody could influence
Her Majesty, he was the one. I, therefore, took the first
opportunity of speaking to him. At first he appeared very
reluctant to interfere in the matter, and said he thought I ought
to do as Her Majesty wished, but on my stating that I had no
desire to marry at all, but was quite willing to remain at Court
in my present position, he promised to do his best for me. I never
heard anything further about my marriage, either from Her Majesty
or Li Lien Ying, and therefore concluded that he had been able to
arrange the matter satisfactorily.

The Summer passed without anything further important occurring.
During the eighth moon the bamboos were cut down and here again
the Court ladies were called upon to assist, our work being to
carve designs and characters on the cut trees, Her Majesty
assisting. These were afterwards made into chairs, tables and
other useful articles for Her Majesty's teahouse. During the long
Autumn evenings Her Majesty would teach us Chinese history and
poetry and every tenth day would put us through an examination in
order to find out how much we had learned, prizes being awarded
for proficiency. The younger eunuchs also took part in these
lessons and some of their answers to Her Majesty's questions were
very amusing. If Her Majesty were in a good humor she would laugh
with the rest of us, but sometimes she would order them to be
punished for their ignorance and stupidity. However, as they were
quite accustomed to being punished they did not seem to mind very
much and forgot all about it the next minute.

As Her Majesty's seventieth birthday was approaching the Emperor
proposed to celebrate this event on an unusually grand scale, but
Her Majesty would not give her consent to this proposal on account
of the war trouble, for fear people might comment on it. The only
difference, therefore, between this birthday and former ones was
that Her Majesty gave presents to the Court, in addition to
receiving them. These included the bestowal of titles, promotions
and increases in salary. Among the titles conferred by Her
Majesty, my sister and myself received the title of Chun Chu Hsien
(Princess). These titles, however, were confined to members of the
Court, and were granted specially by the Empress Dowager. Similar
promotions to outside officials were always conferred by the
Emperor. It was proposed to hold the celebrations in the Forbidden
City as it was more suited for such an important event. However,
Her Majesty did not like this idea at all, and gave instructions
that the Court should not be moved until three days before the
10th of the tenth moon, the date of her birthday. This entailed a
lot of unnecessary work as it necessitated decorating both the
Summer Palace and the Forbidden City. Everything was hurry and
bustle. To add to this, it snowed very heavily during the few days
previous to the tenth. Her Majesty was in a very good mood. She
was very fond of being out in the snow and expressed a wish to
have some photographs taken of herself on the hillside. So my
brother was commanded to bring his camera, and took several very
good pictures of Her Majesty.

On the seventh day the Court moved into the Forbidden City and the
celebrations commenced. The decorations were beautiful; the
Courtyards being covered with glass roofs to keep out the snow.
The theatres were in full swing each day. The actual ceremony,
which took place on the tenth, did not differ in any respect from
previous ones. Everything passed off smoothly, and the Court
removed again into the Sea Palace.

While at the Sea Palace we received news that my father's
condition was becoming serious, and he again tendered his
resignation to Her Majesty. She sent her eunuchs to find out
exactly what the matter was, and on learning that he was really
very ill, accepted his resignation. Her Majesty agreed that it
might be better for him to go to Shanghai and see if the foreign
physicians could do him any good. She said she supposed it would
be necessary for my mother to accompany him to Shanghai, but did
not consider it serious enough to send my sister and myself along
also. I tried to explain that it was my duty to go along with him
as he might be taken worse and die before I could get down to see
him again, and I begged Her Majesty to allow me to go. She offered
all kinds of objections but eventually, seeing that I was bent on
going, she said: "Well, he is your father, and I suppose you want
to be with him, so you may go on the understanding that you return
to Court as soon as ever possible." We did not get away until the
middle of the eleventh moon, as Her Majesty insisted on making
clothes for us and other preparations for our journey. Of course
we could do nothing but await Her Majesty's pleasure.

When everything was ready Her Majesty referred to her book to
choose a suitable day for our departure, and fixed on the
thirteenth as being the best. We therefore left the Palace for our
own house on the twelfth. We kowtowed and said good-bye to Her
Majesty, thanking her for her many kindnesses during our stay with
her. Everybody cried, even Her Majesty. We then went to say
good-bye to the Emperor and Young Empress. The Emperor simply
shook hands and wished us "Good Luck" in English. Everybody
appeared sorry to see us leave. After standing about for a long
time Her Majesty said it was no use wasting any more time and that
we had better start. At the gate the head eunuch bade us good-bye
and we entered our carriage and drove to my father's house, our
own eunuchs accompanying us to the door. We found everything
prepared for our journey, and early the next morning we took train
to Tientsin where we just managed to catch the last steamer of the
season leaving for Shanghai. As it was, the water was so shallow
that we ran aground on the Taku bar.

On arrival in Shanghai my father immediately consulted his
physician who examined him and prescribed medicine. The trip
itself seemed to have done him a lot of good. I very soon began to
miss my life at Court, and, although I had many friends in
Shanghai and was invited to dinner parties and dances; still I did
not seem to be able to enjoy myself. Everything seemed different
to what I had been accustomed to in Peking and I simply longed for
the time when I should be able to return to Her Majesty. About two
weeks after our arrival, Her Majesty sent a special messenger down
to Shanghai to see how we were getting along. He brought us many
beautiful presents and also a lot of medicine for my father. We
were very glad to see him. He informed us that we were missed very
much at Court and advised us to return as soon as it was possible
for us to do so. As my father began to show signs of improvement
he suggested that there was no further need for me to stay in
Shanghai, and thought it better that I should return to Peking and
resume my duties at Court. I therefore returned early in the New
Year. The river was frozen and I had to travel by boat to
Chinwantao, from thence by rail to Peking. It was a most miserable
journey and I was very glad when it was over. Her Majesty had sent
my eunuchs to the station to meet me and I at once proceeded to
the Palace. On meeting Her Majesty we both cried again by way of
expressing our happiness. I informed her that my father was
progressing favorably and that I hoped to be able to remain with
her permanently.

I resumed my previous duties, but this time I had neither my
sister for a companion nor my mother to chat with and everything
appeared changed. Her Majesty was just the same, however, and
treated me most kindly. Still, I was not comfortable, and heartily
wished myself back again in Shanghai. I stayed at the Court, going
through pretty much the same daily routine as before until the
second moon (March 1905), when I received a telegram summoning me
to Shanghai as my father had become worse, and was in a critical
condition and wished to see me. I showed Her Majesty the telegram
and waited for her decision. She commenced by telling me that my
father was a very old man, and therefore his chances of recovery
were not so great as if he were younger, finally winding up by
telling me that I could go to him at once. I again wished
everybody good-bye, fully expecting to return very soon; but this
was not to be. I found my father in a very dangerous condition,
and after a lingering illness, he died on the 18th of December,
1905. Of course we went into mourning for one hundred days which
in itself prevented my returning to the Court.

While in Shanghai I made many new friends and acquaintances and
gradually began to realize that after all, the attractions of
Court life had not been able to eradicate the influences which had
been brought to bear upon me while in Europe. At heart I was a
foreigner, educated in a foreign country, and, having already met
my husband the matter was soon settled and I became an American
citizen. However, I often look back to the two years I spent at
the Court of Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager of China, the most
eventful and happiest days of my girlhood.

Although I was not able to do much towards influencing Her Majesty
in the matter of reform, I still hope to live to see the day when
China shall wake up and take her proper place among the nations of
the world.

End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Two Years in the Forbidden City