Sunday, October 14, 2012
Excerpt from The Story of the Stone by Cao Xueqin
Then there was her interview with Jia Zheng, which had to take place with her father standing outside of the door-curtain of the room in which she was sitting. Now that she was the Emporer's woman, this was the nearest to her he could ever hope to get. The sense of deprivation struck home to Yuan-chun as she addressed him through the curtain.
"What is the use of all this luxury and splendor," she said bitterly, "if I am always to be separated from those I love - denied the tenderness which even the poorest peasant who seasons his bread with salt and pickles and dresses in hempen homespun is free to enjoy?"
With tears in his eyes the good man delivered the following little speech to the daughter he could not see:
"That a poor and undistinguished household such as ours should have produced, as it were, a phoenix from amidst a flock of crows and pies to bask in the sunshine of Imperial favor and shed its reflected beams on the departed representatives of our ancestral line must be attributable to the concentration in your single person of the quintessences of all that is most admirable in celestial and terrestrial nature and the accumulated merit of many generations of our forebears, and is an honor and a blessing in which my wife and I are proud to be participants."