This was on the eighteenth day of the sixth moon. That day, I brought a servant and arrived first at Hsukiang Ferry, where I waited for her in the boat. By and by, Yun arrived in a sedan-chair, and we started off, passing by the Tiger’s Roar Bridge, where the view opened up and we saw sailing boats and sand-birds flitting over the lake.
The water was a white stretch, joining the sky at the horizon. “So this is Taihu!” Yun exclaimed. “I know now bow big the universe is, and I have not lived in vain! I think a good many ladies never see such a view in their whole lifetime.” As we were occupied in conversation, it wasn’t very long before we saw swaying willows on the banks, and we knew we had arrived at Wukiang.
I went up to attend the funeral ceremony, but when I came back, Yun was not in the boat. I asked the boatman and he said, “Don’t you see some one under the willow trees by the bridge, watching the cormorants catching fish?” Yun, then, had gone up with the boatman’s daughter.
When I got behind her, I saw that she was perspiring all over, still leaning on the boatman’s daughter and standing there absorbed looking at the cormorants. I patted her shoulder and said, “You are wet through.” Yun turned her head and said, “I was afraid that your friend Ch’ien might come to the boat, so I left to avoid him. Why did you come back so early?” “In order to catch the renegade!” I replied.
Wethen came back hand-in-hand to the boat, and when we stopped at the Bridge ofTen Thousand Years. The sun had not yet gone down. And we let down all thewindows to allow the river breeze to come in, and there, dressed in light silkand holding a silk fan, we sliced a melon to cool ourselves.
Soon the evening glow was casting a red hue over the bridge, and the distant haze enveloped the willow trees in twilight. The moon was then coming up, and all along the river we saw a stretch of lights coming from the fishing boats. I asked my servant to go astern and have a drink with the boatman.
The boatman’s daughter was called Suyun. She was quite a likeable girl, and I had known her before. I beckoned her to come and sit together with Yun on the bow of the boat. We did not put on any light, so that we could the better enjoy the moon, and there we sat drinking heartily and playing literary games with wine as forfeit.
When I came back from Eastern Kwangtung in the seventh moon, 1794, there was a boy cousin-in-law of mine, by the name of Hsu Hsiufeng, who had brought home with him a concubine. He was crazy about her beauty and asked Yun to go and see her. After seeing her, Yun remarked to Hsiufeng one day, “She has beauty but no charm.”
“Do you mean to say that when your husband takes a concubine, she must have both beauty and charm?” answered Hsiufeng. Yun replied in the affirmative. So from that time on, she was quite beat on finding a concubine for me, but was short of cash.