The Golden Days (The Story of the Stone, Vol. 1)

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The reader is presented by a question which may arise during the book’s beginnings, it possibly seeming to cross the line of odd, but more happening under the surface. Years previously, Nü-wa, a goddess, fixes the sky, she using a mountain to make “building blocks” and using all, but one which is left near Green-sickness Peak in the Great Fable Mountains. The block, or Stone contains powers, due to having been constructed by the goddess, it able to move and change its size. The Stone is also self-aware, knowing it hadn’t been wanted in the reparations of the sky and feeling left out. During this bad mood, it notices a monk and Taoist walking quite a ways away, but are approaching the peak the Stone is on, the two chatting whilst resting. The monk sees and picks up the Stone, it having made itself smaller, and speaks to it of knowing it was special and planned on etching on it to show others the same who wouldn’t be able to travel there; the Stone was quite pleased. The monk stows the Stone away, and wouldn’t reveal the destination he planned for it, the Narrator not knowing, either.

An unknown amount of time later, another monk passes the same area and sees a rock with a length of text written on it. Vanitas the monk reads about the rock’s origins and how after he’d been brought to society, he’d lived as a human and achieved nirvana, then came back. The history of his life follows, the one piece of information not shared is the era this occurred, a little poem following, which wonders whom would go about sharing its story. Vanitas replies to the rock directly of his feelings on how the story would be perceived without certain details and not making much of a hit, the Stone stating how its story put many perspectives uniquely which would separate its story from those already out. Vanitas breaks it down for it, the risque escapades and depravity of females only supplying interest to a certain sort. Most of its stories involved an assortment of differently themed “romances”, Vanitas continuing to explain why the genre wasn’t a strong one, the Stone defending the possibility it had some redeeming qualities, also speaking of how no part was exaggerated. Vanitas gives in upon a second reading when seeing the Stone’s words were true. Upon returning, Vanitas had begun “in the Void (which is Truth)”, and returns there, deciding to be called “Brother Amor, or the Passionate Monk”, since he’d regained the Truth through Passion, as well as giving the book the new title of “The Tale of Brother Amor”. The book from there receives four more titles through the years, Cao also being mentioned titling it, “The Twelve Beauties of Jinling“, and the title eventually being given its original one back. Regardless of this, the details within, all being based in reality (which is apparently true after having skimmed the introduction), but the characters and occurrences not being vouched for, at the same time.

Many years before, the world angled differently, the city of Soochow had a certain section which was among the richest. Near this area lived a man, Zhen Shi-Yen with his wife, Feng-Shi, the two not high in financial standing, but had respect from those living in the area. Shi-Yen was an unassuming personality with only a daughter, Ying-lian. One day, Shi-Yen falls asleep whilst reading and views a Taoist and monk strolling and chatting. They discuss where the monk planned on placing the Stone to experience life alongside everyone else. The monk explains how the Stone had gotten as far as it had by chance, and had located a fairy. This fairy housed the Stone temporarily and bequeathed it “the honorary title of Divine Luminescent Stone-in-Waiting in the Court of Sunset Glow” (a mouthful, which is why I’m being picky about what to share). The Stone spent its time near Magic River where he began giving water to Crimson Pearl Flower, she partially heavenly, so with this additive, transforms into a girl (the more I read makes me see how Madeline Bassett would adore this story). Crimson Pearl is soon plagued by how she’d return the favor to the Stone, believing the only way would be to live a life together as humans. So, for this reason, the monk was bringing the Stone to where the fairy planned to send the assortment of entities to experience human living.

Shi-Yen believes he is overhearing a crazy rant, then hears the monk say some words which worry him, Ying-lian being grasped more tightly by him, the Taoist and monk then decide to meet up again later, Shi-Yen wishing he’d spoken up to inquire about the monk’s words, but is interrupted by a student – Jia Yu-cun, as Shi-Yen was now near his own door, some background then given on the young man’s hard times. Yu-cun greets him warmly, Shi-Yen explaining his being outside was to calm Ying-lian from being upset, he then offers Yu-cun to sit inside and chat with him, due to the slowness of the day. A servant leads the girl inside as Shi-Yen heads for his office with Yu-cun for tea, soon after, having to rush out for a Mr. Yan having dropped in, Yu-cun entertains himself with looking through some of Shi-Yen’s books, until seeing a girl outside picking flowers, she fetching somehow, then by chance, catching sight of him, she also pleased with his looks. When she turns to leave, then glances back twice at him, Yu-cun takes this as a sign of interest, he waiting only a little longer after learning from a servant boy this guest may be staying for supper, he deciding to go, and when Shi-Yen eventually gets his guest out, decides he wouldn’t be asking him to return when noticing Yu-cun had left.

Later, Shi-Yen goes to offer dinner to the young man after the Mid Autumn festival and supper with his family had been finished. Yu-cun was still thinking of Shi-Yen’s servant girl, Shi-Yen walking in on Yu-cun spouting poetry in relation to her, the two reconvening in his office for wine and food. As they drank and ate, the two become more comfortable with each other until Yu-cun bursts out with more poetry, Shi-Yen congratulating his talent with more wine. Yu-cun then gets serious about his means of acquiring a lucrative career due to travel costs (I feels ya, buddy). Shi-Yen had been hoping this subject would be broached, since he hadn’t wanted to insult him by offering, but now he’s confided in him, he insisted on fronting all cost for his journey and immediately takes care of everything. Yu-cun didn’t make a big deal out of Shi-Yen’s charity, the two having fun until after twelve at night. When they parted, Shi-Yen sleeps in until noon, and upon waking, plans to set up a place for Yu-cun to stay, but learns he’d decided to leave before dawn, so the issue was let go.

Fifteenth Night brought bad tidings when Shi-Yen has a servant take out Ying-lian to look at the lights, and when the man leaves her on a step whilst relieving himself, the child goes missing, the servant searching until dawn and when not recovering her, leaves town in shame without informing Shi-Yen. He and his wife send out a search party, but Ying-lian isn’t found, the two becoming sick after a month or so, doctors looking after them until a monk living in the Temple next door, has an accident with oil and many houses are destroyed, including of course, the Zhens. Shi-Yen is distraught over this misfortune, and had planned for them to move to their farm in the country, but the area had become dangerous, so Shi-Yen sells his land and they hole up with his wife’s father-in-law, Feng Su, whom whilst not happy with how they’d turned up, was comforted by his finances from his farm, he supposed to locate them a comfortable new place, but taking half and setting them up with a crap hut and unhealthy land. Not knowing how to recover his bad luck, Feng Su didn’t make his life easier by offering crap advice and then talking shit about Shi-Yen behind his back, he hearing of it later, and this helping his health get worse, his older age not aiding his recovery.

At some point in the future, Shi-Yen is taking a walk and hears a Taoist repeating some words, as he approaches closer, he asks for the man to clarify, since only hearing two words repeated, the monk declaring the words to be important ones and so had understood enough, Shi-Yen then offers more verses, the Taoist pleased, and Shi-Yen deciding then to accompany the mad man and informing no one. Well after this, his wife hears by rumor and is broken by the information, Shi-Yen not found when she’d sent for updates of him. She moves in with her parents and contributes by quilting, and one of her two maids was shopping when a bureaucrat is brought past, she recognizing him, but not recalling where. In the night, Feng Su is dumbfounded when learning someone from his house was wanted at the bureaucrat’s headquarters.

Yamen runners outside inform a smiling Feng Su, Shi-Yen was being summoned and when Feng Su shares how Shi-Yen had left a year previously to become a Taoist, the runners take him instead, his family and servants in fear of what could be happening. It was well into the night before Feng Su had gotten back home, everyone having questions, so Feng Su describes how this new mandarin, a Hu-zhou named Jia used to know Shi-Yen way back when, and had deduced he’d moved and was tipped off they would know where he was because of the woman, Lucky selling quilts in the doorway, and when Feng Su explains where Shi-Yen had gone, was unhappy to learn of this, then upon discovering what had occurred to Ying-lian, decides to send his own search party, expecting better results, and after speaking with each other a little more, Feng Su readies to leave, and Jia gives him silver pieces, his wife stunned by his story and the night passing calmly. Early in the day a package from Yu-cun is delivered to Feng-shi, as well as a letter to Feng Su to inquire if Feng-shi would allow him to take Lucky as his second wife (how sweet…), Feng Su pressing how significant it was she should comply, so they immediately ship Lucky off, and Yu-cun is so happy, he showers them with gifts, especially Feng-shi, to keep her occupied until Ying-lian was found.

Lucky apparently caught a good turn, since she bore Yu-cun a son fairly quickly, and was upgraded when Yu-cun’s first wife dies. Yu-cun’s progress after finishing school is followed, he getting the position of magistrate of the district fairly fast, but unfortunately, had a bad habit of out-thinking the higher-ups and making them seem foolish, so he was soon given a bad report of conduct, getting fired, but takes the news well, settling his family in his hometown with the riches he’d accrued and beginning to travel. Yu-cun was in Yangchow when learning a Lin Ru-hai was also staying in the area, the man’s background being related to royalty, but his family line dying off and his only son having been lost the previous year. He had a daughter though, Dai-yu, she showing promise and so was educated a bit to take their minds off their son dying. Yu-cun had been ill recently and upon recovering for the most part, realized he needed to replenish his funds, so upon running into some buddies who knew the Salt Commissioner, Lin Ru-hai he was able to secure the position as tutor. Due to it seeming the little girl dictated when she’d be taught, Yu-cun had plenty more time to recuperate, then Dai-yu’s mother falls ill and dies, the young girl’s lessons falling to the wayside in her grief, she also now becoming periodically sick, Yu-cun beginning to take strolls more often to ease his idleness. One day he walks out of town and sees a temple going to ruin, he reading the name of the place and the gate which had a poem written upon it, curious to learn the history of the place, but upon entering, only finding a deaf and half blind monk, whom wasn’t able to answer his inquiries.

So, Yu-cun leaves and heads for a neighboring village inn for some wine, there meeting an acquaintance, Leng Zi-xing, he having a good sense of business and the two admiring the other. Yu-cun asks how he’d come to be there, Zi-xing having been visiting a buddy by chance, the two then sitting and catching up on their lives since they’d last spoken, Yu-cun asking about anything notable happening in the area, Zi-xing recalling a small event in regard to a distant relative of Yu-cun, his family not normally considering themselves a part of the others family, due to their high class. Zi-xing describes how apparently their houses had fallen a bit, the time in which it occurred surprising Yu-cun. Zi-xing states how the relation of how it happened would take some time, he clarifying how they hadn’t lost everything, but there having been the cinching of the belt, inwardly, the main problem stemming from the male progeny not living up to standards. Yu-cun is shocked to learn the families wouldn’t have continued the degree of education they’d been known for, Zi-xing giving background of the two heads of households, the men being brothers, one, Ning’s grandson becoming a Taoist and uninterested in any other matters, he having a son, whom in turn had a son, whom was currently a teenager, his father not taking responsibility and living a life of debauchery and no one willing to snap the man into shape.

The other side, Rong’s eldest, marrying into a well known family and having two sons, after he passed away, his wife surviving him, and his eldest taking over responsibility in title but not doing what was necessary for the household, his younger brother being urged to continue his education and going up the ranks in his field, he marrying and having a son, this son dying young, but also having a son, his wife then having a daughter after, and another son born with a piece of jade in his mouth twelve years later, this being the odd part Zi-xing was referring, Yu-cun unable to argue. This youngest son, Bao-yu had been tested with objects of the family mixed in with different sorts of trinkets, he drawn to the items which were female in nature, his father displeased, but his grandmother doting on the boy. It didn’t end there though, Bao-yu now ten and naughtily clever, the boy precocious, Yu-cun saw this boy’s heritage in a certain light, Zi-xing wishing for him to clarify, so Yu-cun lists good men verses the bad ones, and stating their circumstances, as well as how it related to their current state of living in the world, the state of the world currently on the upswing of good tidings, and how pure humor over “perverse humours” tended to dissipate in certain environments, and on the off-chance the two should meet, being in constant opposition, they sometimes made their way into a human host, then upon this person’s upbringing, excelled in certain areas, which regardless of status, showed itself in some way, he again listing good and bad men.

Yu-cun then relates an experience with a small boy he’d been tutoring whom would also be among the bad, and Zi-xing mentions how like the little boy’s female counterparts, the girls in the Jia family were also good and clever. They then discussed how this family named their girls like the boys, which was unusual, Yu-cun learning his current employer’s late wife was named similarly, Zi-xing offering he research his words, but Yu-cun realizing it must be true with how her daughter, Dai-yu wrote and spoke, she also a part of the Jia family on the Rong’s side. They then wonder who the younger generation would be married off to, Sir Zheng having another son after Bao-yu, from one of his concubines. After which they discuss Sir She’s having a son, as well, and also how this son had already gotten married within the family, to a cousin through marriage, and whilst he helped manage the family estate, his wife overshadowed him in more ways than one. Zi-xing then decides they should continue to drink after their hearty chat, Yu-cun noticing how the hour was getting on and they should walk and talk, so they made it to the city gates before they shut for the night, and right when they’re readying to leave, Yu-cun is recognized and given commendation, as well as being told of this person having fortuitous information for him.

Yu-cun recognizes an associate of his, Zhang Ru-gui, he also having been let go, and this area being his hometown, he sharing how he learned of ex-officials getting rehired, so there being a possibility for himself to get set up with a new position, he sharing this information with Yu-cun and then hastening onward, Zi-xing believing Yu-cun should use his connection to Ru-hai so he could do the same, Yu-cun agreeing, and the two going their separate ways. When Yu-cun returns he makes certain the news was authentic before asking Ru-hai, but when he does inquire, the man was eager to do him this favor, then sharing with Yu-cun of having written a letter to his brothers-in law, Yu-cun’s distant relatives, Jia She and having addressed it to the younger brother, Jia Zheng. Ru-hai then states how much easier it’d be if Yu-cun accompanied Dai-yu to the capital, she not wanting to leave, but her grandmother and father convincing her what with having more female role-models by moving, she reluctantly going, and when Yu-cun arrives, he gets seen by Jia Zheng in good time, Ru-hai’s recommendation on top of his being impressed by Yu-cun’s scholarly nature, helping him get his job back as magistrate in another city.

Dai-yu, along with her maids are greeted by covered chairs from the mansion when stepping on land, they having traveled by barge. She notices the odd quality of servants and watched herself in case she made a wrong move. They were brought to the Rong Guo House, her maids helping her out of the curtained chair and walk through the grounds until meeting some loitering ladies who mention of Lady Jia having recently inquired about her, the attendant announcing she’d arrived and her grandmother greeting her with emotion, Dai-yu kotowing after they’d calmed. Her grandmother then introduced their female members of the family and sending for the children, two out of three of the girls each having a distinct virtue, the youngest only seeming still a child. When tea was readied, the subject of choice turned to the events surrounding Dai-yu’s mother’s illness and death, refreshing her grandmother’s upset, she declaring how Dai-yu’s mother had been her favorite, so was understandably broken up. They then ask about Dai-yu’s obvious health issue, she stating no doctor had been able to cure her, so she only taking ginseng, they then hearing someone loudly pleasant approaching and announcing of being late, a lady entering whom was breathtaking and dressed like royalty, Lady Jia introducing her by a nickname of Peppercorn Feng, but a cousin revealing this was Jia Lian’s wife, Wang Xi-feng, Dai-yu using her given name when greeting her, and after Xi-feng gives her a once over, is quite candid about her beauty and she taking after the Jias, she then offering Dai-yu any comfort she desired and to let her know if someone was mean to her, she also commanding servants to be sure rooms were readied for her servants, she also making certain where the platters of food coming in were set.

Meanwhile, Dai-yu overhears her Aunt Wang discuss with Xi-feng there being silks brought so they could make some clothes for her, Xi-feng having taken care of it, and when her grandmother was ordering servants to take Dai-yu to her uncles, Xi-feng offers to accompany her, she taking Dai-yu by the hand and leading her out, they being driven to Xi-feng and She’s residence. Xi-feng has him called when they enter, but he wasn’t feeling well at the moment, but wanting Dai-yu to feel comfortable enough to tell her family if she needed anything to feel even more at ease and at home, Xi-feng then invites her to dine with her, but Dai-yu knew she was still expected by her other uncle, Zheng, she being escorted by the servants, back to the Rong mansion, Dai-yu seeing an ornate side of the home she had yet experienced, the hall within resplendent with beautiful furniture and scripts on the walls.

Dai-yu is brought to her Aunt Wang, in a side room, she sitting in a chair and brought tea, but is requested to move to where Wang was in another part of the room on some cushions, Dai-yu again refused to sit in her uncle’s place of honor, opposite Wang, but she coaxing Dai-yu to sit near her, explaining her uncle wouldn’t be able to see her today, but having to speak with her of the three girls they for the most part being well-behaved, but her son a major nuisance and of whom should be ignored. Dai-yu then realizes this must be Bai-yu she referred, Wang explaining how due to his grandmother spoiling him, he continued to stay with the girls, so she shouldn’t trust what he says due to his chaotic nature. Wang then receives word it was time for supper, so leads Dai-yu across the grounds, also showing her where Xi-feng lived in case she had any requests, they then going to her grandmother’s quarters, where she resisted the place of honor, but learned it was her because her elder cousins wives wouldn’t be joining them, so Dai-yu goes through the proper etiquette before sitting.

The custom between dishes was certainly new to Dai-yu, they having tea for rinsing their mouths and different tea for drinking. Grandmother Jia then requests to speak to the children alone, everyone leaving, Grandmother Jia inquiring what books Dai-yu was studying (the four books, I presume), the girl asking about what her cousins were reading in return, and Grandmother Jia stating they could barely read and write, Bai-yu then being heard, and when entering, his appearance given (the poetic parts of this story isn’t cumbersome or hard to understand like some, and brings a nice airy description which is pleasant), Dai-yu somehow recognizing him and wondering why, he greeting Grandmother Jia, and she instructing him to visit his mother and return, he off to do as she bid and coming back quickly in different clothes, the boy even getting a song to go with his appearance (Moon on West River as background) and personality, it made quite clear he was a brat. When his grandmother instructs he say hello to his cousin, he assesses her for some time before voicing her thought of having met her before, he then asking her questions about study and giving her a school name, he then asking if she had a jade, she stating it wasn’t common, which Bai-yu has a fit over, his grandmother attempting to calm him as he explains how his cousin, whom was so angelic didn’t have one and questioned it being of good value, quite upset.

Grandmother Jia comes up with the story of Dai-yu having used to have one, but buried it with her mother, this calming the boy, two servants then asking Grandmother Jia where she wanted Dai-yu to sleep, she deciding Bai-yu would bunk with her and Dai-yu would have his place, but Bai-yu convinces she let him stay with the girls. One of Bai-yu’s nurses hears Dai-yu still up after they’d all settled in the tent and asks what was wrong, her nurse explaining how terribly she felt for setting Bai-yu off and would’ve been responsible if he’d broken the jade. Aroma, as Bai-yu named her, or Pearl, makes Dai-yu aware of how this was pittance to what Bai-yu could be like, so she should calm herself and sleep, Dai-yu grateful to hear this and doing so. Early next morning, after greeting Grandmother Jia, Dai-yu goes to her Aunt Wang’s and learns from another family member, Xue Pan had killed someone and need the help of the family, it already under investigation and they discussing whether to have him stay with them.

So, Dai-yu walked in to hear Aunt Wang speak with the messengers of her eldest brother and wife about their Aunt’s family in Nanking being a part of this manslaughter case, and due to Wang being busy with this, Dai-yu and the other girls go see Li Wan, her husband, Jia Zhu having died at a young age, but giving her a son, Jia Lan, now five and already starting his education. Li Wan was the daughter of Li Shou-zhong, whom when becoming head of the family, decided the females wouldn’t continue to receive a higher level of education and focus on needlework, what with a big believer of a dumb woman being virtuous or some shit. Dai-yu is able to easily adjust to life among these ladies, though due to their mild natures. Now, Jia Yu-cun had begun his position as yamen in Ying-tian-fu, the manslaughter case soon becoming a part of his workload, it involving two sides fighter over the payment of a slave, one side getting fatally injured, and so Yu-cun hears first from the murdered man’s side, a worker of this man, whom relays how his “master” hadn’t known the slave he’d bought had been stolen goods, and the seller was supposed to deposit the slave to him three days later, but the seller instead turns around and sells her to Xue Pan, so this man and his master go off to retrieve the slave, and Xue Pan sicks his bodyguards on them, beating his master to death, and Xue Pan along with the other guilty parties have gone to ground and this man has been waiting a year for justice, pleading with Yu-cun to locate the guilty parties.

Yu-cun is outraged by nothing being done, but catches the eye of a door-keeper before issuing a summons, he instead clearing the room, save this man, whom speaks of having known Yu-cun for over ten years, and after a hint of having met at the Temple, remembered him as a young monk, this man deciding to change his career after the fire. Yu-cun then asks why he’d halted his duties, the man informing Yu-cun how officials usually had a manual which listed the most powerful people of their district one would be better off not touching toes with, Yu-cun not having heard of this, and so the man continues why Xue Pan hadn’t been brought in being because of this, the man then showing the pamphlet, after which they hear a ring indicating Mr. Wang had come, Yu-cun dealing with the man, then returning, the door-keeper finishing his chat by stating how many influential people Xue Pan had to help him, Yu-cun confessing how he obviously had to deal with the case somehow, he then presuming this man must know more, which he doesn’t deny and even offers to detail. The murdered man was called Feng Yuan, and he had no relatives when his parents died, he having been surviving off his minuscule inheritance, only eighteen or nineteen years old and gay, but apparently saw this slave and was ready to make an honest woman of her, which is why he’d decided to wait three days to give the impression it was similar to a wedding, so when both sides discovered what had happened, they caught him before he could get away and beat the crap out of him, but the issue stemming from both sides wanting the slave and not wanting what they’d paid returned to them, so Xue Pan had Feng Yuan assaulted and brought home, he expiring three days later.

Before all of this had occurred, Xue Pan was already planning to go to the capital, so he still left with the slave and his family, acting like a pampered rich man would, and leaving the clean up to his help. The clincher, though is whom the slave was, Yu-cun learning it was Ying-lian, which this door-keeper knew, since he’d been a playmate of hers way back, and also knew the kidnapper had a system of raising girls until old enough to sell them, he also recognizing her birthmark. The door-keeper had gotten wind of her presence because the kidnapper rented one of his rooms, Ying-lian staying quiet when he confronted her out of fear of repercussions, then breaking down and admitting she recalled nothing, but this young man certain of her origins. The night the kidnapper had been paid, Ying-lian started talking with him and felt like she would finally have some peace, until she learned of the three day wait, this young man’s wife seeing her to instill optimism, she stating how the future date meant she’d be living like a woman rather than a worker, and how much he paid showing the amount he cared, and not to worry about the time-frame, and her words seeming to have worked, but then Xue  Pan became involved, and he not having considerate intentions for her, beating her until she willingly came with him, this young man not knowing whether she still lived, so the fact Feng Yuan had gone through all of this with plans to settle only to be killed was a terrible fate. Yu-cun thought Feng Yuan’s sudden change of sexual interest must mean it was kismet, and poor Ying-lian, so close to being pardoned by her lot in life, only to have her suffering prolonged intimated the same.

On top of this, Xue Pan a man to divide his time with other women, and it being a terrible situation which Yu-cun now had to decide how he’d handle the next move, legally, the young man reminds him how Xue Pan may be related to the Jias through marriage, but Yu-cun already on good terms with one of the family, so perhaps he should make himself even more esteemed to them, Yu-cun noting his newly appointed position being in a delicate area, since it was still so new, but the young man making the point of it he didn’t do his job properly, how would he show he’s truly grateful for it, and no matter what he decided, it dictating careful consideration. Yu-cun takes a moment before inquiring the young man’s opinion, he having thought the next day, Yu-cun should go about business as usual, but with a firm hand, bringing in Xue Pan’s family and workers to be questioned, and the young man would be getting Xue Pan’s people to claim he’d died of a sickness which would then be corroborated by their neighbors, Yu-cun would then get a special table to speak with the afterlife and offer anyone being allowed to come, and proceed by stating Feng Yuan had unfinished business with Xue Pan from a previous life, which he dealt with after death by making Xue Pan ill, and due to this whole debacle being started by the kidnapper, he alone would from there on be held accountable and all others free of guilt.

The young man would then get the kidnapper to agree to confession, and then the people would have no reason to question Yu-cun’s claims. He then would give the Fengs reparations for cost of the funeral, and Xue Pan already being rich, wouldn’t bat an eye about the cost. Yu-cun was entertained by the young man’s idea, but would give it a bit more of a ponder to ensure the public wouldn’t gossip. Yu-cun speaks with the Fengs the following day, the young man correct about they only wanting money and bringing the case to court because Xue Pan had denied them, so he had the Fengs agree to an amount and then wrote a couple letters detailing the issue had been handled. Yu-cun then became paranoid by how much the young man knew, and so waited until he caught him in a minor crime and had him sent to the military, this easing his mind. Next, Xue Pan is followed, his father dying whilst Xue Pan was a boy and his mother spoiling him to the point of damaging his character. Due to his family’s wealth, he loved expensive things and spoke in a snotty manner, and regardless of education, was practically illiterate. He loved gambling and the sights, he also technically employed by way of his father and grandfather, but only collected a paycheck without doing any work. Xue Pan’s mother was the younger half sister of Wang Zi-teng and younger sister of Lady Wang, she over fifty years old now, and as for Xue Pan’s sibling, she called Bao-chai, younger and beautiful, was favored by their father, so was educated and smarter than Xue Pan, but upon their father’s death, she gave up continuing her education in order to help her mother (Is this a sign or something? I feel I’ve read this outcome so often, it’s prepared me for what I have done and must do, again. Ew.)

The “upside” to this was the females of important officials get the chance to be chosen as educational partners for the younger female royals. Due to this, and Xue Pan wanting to experience the grander life in the capital, he had a few reasons to go, which included having his sister available to be chosen and replenish his allowance. So, all of this had been in motion well before meeting Ying-lian and second-hand murdering her seller. Hence, he going on his merry way, expecting to only need to pay a fine which his servants would handle in his absence. Whilst they were traveling, they learn his Uncle Wang wouldn’t be present due to a promotion, which Xue Pan didn’t share he was happy about, since he felt he could now truly let his freak flag fly. Xue Pan then proceeds in convincing his mother they should have somebody make certain the servants of the houses hadn’t let their friends stay, due to how long they’d been unoccupied, his mother not seeing the point of rushing, since they had plenty of time and room. Xue Pan considers how busy everyone will be in helping his uncle get ready to go as they turn up, but his mother reminds him, this was what the Jias were for, but she sensing what his problem was, and even suggesting he go off to pick a place for himself, whilst she and Bao-chai continued to his Aunt Jia’s, Xue Pan acquiescing to her wishes, since he knew he’d be required to stay regardless of her words.

Meanwhile, Lady Wang was calmed upon learning Xue Pan’s case was being handled by Yu-cun, but was apprehensive by her older brother, Wang Zi-teng leaving. So, the news of her sister having arrived with her kids and servants put her back in high spirits, they reuniting with emotion, visiting Grandmother Jia, giving their presents, and then having a grand family get-together during which Jia Zheng sends a note to Lady Wang offerring to have her sister stay in the secluded house with her kids, Wang having wanted to invite them to stay with her, Grandmother Jia wanting the same, as well as her sister wanting this so Xue Pan could have an eye kept on him, believing if he had complete freedom, he’d get into more trouble, Xue accepting the offer and beginning to move them all in. The home was located next to Lady Wang’s, the two sisters chatting daily along with Grandmother Jia, Bao-chai happy to mingle with Dai-yu and the other girls, Xue Pan the only one dissatisfied, to start with at any rate. He still planned on moving elsewhere, but had to agree to stay temporarily whilst his servants prepared another home. Xue Pan’s opinion soon changed upon hanging out with his male family members, they sinking him into worse depths, the patriarch of the family, Zheng too busy to keep everyone in check, he having become the go-to for Zhen, whom was supposed to be the one in charge. So, upon Xue Pan realizing he was in no danger of being reeled in, he and his newfound best buddies came and left when they pleased, their adventures to follow.

Dai-yu had become another favorite of Grandmother Jia, she receiving the same attentiveness as Bao-yu, the other girls holding each other in high esteem and much closer, since they were treated differently. Now Bao-chai had joined them, Dai-yu felt put off by her beauty and how well-liked she’d become with everyone, due to being unaware how personable she was, and Dai-yu setting herself apart because of how serious she acted about being proper. Bao-yu, on the other hand still maintained the attitudes of a child, so had no differentiation between family members unless living more closely to them, like with Dai-yu, he speaking too roughly with her and attempting to make up for it, which she was big enough, or gullible enough to accept.

As this occurs, Zhen’s wife, You-shi invites Grandmother Jia, Lady Xing and Wang to a party, her son, Jia Rong accompanying her, they having an uneventful time, up until Bao-yu decides he’d like a nap, Grandmother Jia preparing the servants to attend to him when Qin-shi, Jia Rong’s wife volunteers to take care of him, Grandmother Jia acquiescing, but Bao-yu immediately offended by the art on the walls of the room she’d led him to, and the phrases on the wall clinching his desire to leave, Qin-shi then offerring her own bedroom, which he agrees to, but the servants shocked by the idea of an uncle sleeping in a nephew’s wife’s bed, but she believing he was too young for the sort of thoughts the servants had in mind, speaking of her brother being around the same age as Bao-yu, he then wishing to meet him, but the boy currently away, and upon getting to her room, is overcome with sleepiness as a pleasant smell assaults his nose, and this room’s art and scripts more to his acceptance, Qin-shi then having some noisy cats on the roof outside attended to as Bao-yu sinks into unconsciousness and feels like Qin-shi is still with him, leading him to a stream near some trees, it looking as if humans had yet set foot there, and Bao-yu completely taken with the place. Then he hears a lady singing out of view, she heading in his direction, the poem which follows showing she was otherworldly, it being the description of the appearance of a lady like herself. Bao-yu knew she was a fairy and smiles warmly at her, requesting she show him around for not knowing where he was, she introducing herself as Disenchantment and she living in the Sea of Sadness, her home being in the Land of Illusion. She also describes her relation to the human world by connection of varying romantic dealings and had gone to this spot for sensing karmic love in the area and was gauging if her services could be given, Bao-yu a candidate. She then invites him to tea at her home, nearby and how she’d written a musical composition called “A Dream of Golden Days”, Bao-yu so overcome by the offer, he’d forgotten to wonder where Qin-shi had gone, he following Disenchantment to her home, Bao-yu curious about the details of her job, which unbeknownst to him, had given access to his body to a demon of Lust, his becoming tainted.

They walk through an area with buildings designated by certain themes, Bao-yu wishing to see inside them, but Disenchantment relaying it wouldn’t be right to have him see the females files regarding their future, but Bao-yu nags her until she allows him a moment to view inside the Department of the Ill-Fated Fair, it lined with cabinets labeled by city, Bao-yu seeing his and inquiring what else the label meant, he learning it contained the twelve best ladies in his area, two more cabinets detailing two dozen more, and all other females remaining unlisted. Bao-yu takes a look at one of the other two, and opens a hard-case folder with a picture and verse on the two pages he viewed before looking at a different cabinet, still confused by the album he chose, and looking at the main cabinet, and unable to understand the words, and knowing Disenchantment wouldn’t explain it, but he continuing looking through the book, filled with pictures on one side and an accompanying poem, which warned and spoke of love, loss, and possibly even danger. As it goes on, the fate of women Bao-yu may know is spoken of in riddles. When Disenchantment believes he was becoming too wise on the information he was reading, she takes the book and decides they should move along, Bao-yu next within the back part of the mansion, he hearing Disenchantment hurriedly coax other fairies out to meet him, but they being unimpressed, having been expecting a reunion with Crimson Pearl, Bao-yu now uncomfortable, and Disenchantment explaining how she’d been going to retrieve Crimson Pearl, but was waylaid by two Dukes asking for her services of which she couldn’t pass, involving Bao-yu and their request to have his virginity taken on the chance it would sober his nature and aid him to navigate life with a clear mind. Disenchantment decided to fulfill their wish, his look at the records not doing the trick, so leading him there so he could experience a good party, she bringing him inside. Bao-yu then inquires the scent he smelled, she sharing it was nothing he’d be able to detect on his world, and giving the name.

After they sit, Bao-yu tastes the tea given him and is again desirous to know what it was called, Disenchantment telling where it came from, as well as what it was called, Maiden’s Tears. He surveys the room they were in before asking the names of the other fairies, they all having odd monikers like Disenchantment. When they sit at the table for wine and food, Bao-yu asks about the wine, it coming from flowers and tree extracts, twelve dancers then entering, Disenchantment requesting they perform her musical. She then informs Bao-yu may want to read about the piece so he could better understand it, the poems of the performance, following. The description has each songs lyrics, telling of past lovers, in twelve songs not including the prelude and epilogue, and by the conclusion, Disenchantment could see Bao-yu had lost interest, he requesting to be allowed to nap, she leading him to a little bedroom where a fairy girl sat, she exuding similarities to both Bao-chai and Dai-yu, Disenchantment stating how lust played into all attraction, regardless of men saying it was beauty they were attracted by, she confessing his lust was the strongest she’d seen which her affection for him stemmed, Bao-yu intimidated. He confides how he didn’t truly understand the meaning and believed he was still too young to be listed as such. Disenchantment clarifies her meaning by defining how many sorts of lust there were, his type being listed as “lust of the mind”, which couldn’t be described. She goes on to confide this is why she’d shared tea and wine with him, as well as the musical, and would also be paired with her sister, Two-in-one or Ke-qing to marry, they being bid to hook up this evening, so he could learn the construct of love and obtain an understanding and following of philosophy for everyone’s benefit.

Before Disenchantment leaves them to it, she advises Bao-yu on some techniques, he implementing them stupefied and baffled, but getting the deed done, Bao-yu by morning, in pure contentment, and the two walking out holding hands and somehow discover themselves surrounded by perils, Disenchantment yelling after them to return the way they’d come, Bao-yu inquiring where they were, and she explaining it was a place which could only be crossed by way of two ferrymen, demons then reaching for him to pull him into the water, he crying for Ke-qing’s help, his servants returning to him in fear, and consoling him, Qin-shi outside and taking care of the noisy cats and dogs, surprised to hear him call out her childhood name, and curious how he could know.

Qin-shi doesn’t look into it, though and Bao-yu is getting helped by Aroma to straighten his pants, she feeling something like jizz, Bao-yu looking embarrassed, and after being returned to looking properly, finishes his meal with Grandmother Jia and then has a moment with Aroma when she supplies him with clean undies, he pleading she not say anything and then coaxed into sharing how it had happened, but she laughing at him when he was about to share the sex part of his dream, Bao-yu then makes advances on Aroma, she allowing this after some playful denial, this being part of the reason she had been given to him, and from then on Bao-yu gives her extra regard, she more loyal to him, as well, and his story now being left.

The next area to be covered is decided on with the arrival of this person happening on the day this was being recorded. The Rong mansion is visited by a local called Wang, this person unknown by most of the family, other than Lady Wang and her brother, Wang Xi-feng’s father. The grandfather, whom had known Xi-feng’s grandfather, the father of Lady Wang, dies and has his son carry on, Wang Chang, he leading a farmer’s life, and when he died, his son, Gou-er continuing this work with his wife and their two kids, Ban-er and Qing-er, Gou-er inviting his wife’s mother, Grannie Liu to live with them and help with the kids. She readily accepts his invitation, but soon has to put her food down when Gou-er is seen to be drunkenly making trouble for her daughter, due to his own stresses of the farm and winter closing in.

Grannie Liu reasons with him to take his stupidity to the city, since he couldn’t stop spending the little money he made, she believing they could still think of a remedy, and leave the details to God, she then remembering his relation to Lady Wang, Gou-er’s wife worried they’d get turned away and look ridiculous for the trip, Gou-er buoyed by the possibility, suggesting Grannie Liu go first to survey for them, but she stating how they wouldn’t know her, until Gou-er suggests she take Ban-er with her and call on Zhou, whom knew his father, Grannie Liu seeing the logic behind his idea and having herself and Ban-er ready in the morning, the four to five year old boy gladly learning some phrases Grannie Liu taught him for the ladies at the mansion. They soon arrive and she leads them through a side entrance and speaks with some men loitering on the grounds, eventually being told to hang about at a certain gate where she’d be met by someone from the house, but an older man advising she see Zhou’s wife, since he was currently away on business, then directing her to where she could be located.

Grannie Liu asks a young boy where Mrs. Zhou lived upon following the directions, he showing them and calling out to her, Zhou Rui coming out and soon recognizing Grannie Liu and inviting her inside. Grannie Liu doesn’t share the true reason she’d come, instead stating how they’d come to see her and see “Her Ladyship”, Zhou Rui’s wife fairly able to deduce Grannie Liu’s real reasons for visiting, but knowing her son-in-law’s father had helped her husband when he’d required and was wanting an excuse to show off her own power, so responds with great charity, explaining her usual job and willing to go against protocol to relay a message to Her Ladyship, she sharing how her niece, Wang Xi-feng managed the place now, Grannie Liu thanking her for her kindness and she dismissing it for it not being an issue. She sends a maid to see how far along Lady Jia’s lunch was, and upon hearing what part they were in, gets Grannie Liu to join her before Mrs. Lian became to busy, she having the two wait whilst she spoke with Xi-feng’s closest servant, Patience whom decided the two could wait inside with her.

Grannie Liu first is overcome by the perfumed room and then its grandeur, Patience deciding to be polite once viewing the old woman and invites her to sit, everyone getting comfortable before proceeding with tea, Grannie Liu noticing a loud ticking and then being surprised by a loud bell sounding, all servants and Mrs. Zhou readying for Xi-feng to appear, the two going to the next room whilst Grannie Liu waited to be called, Zhou Rui’s wife coming in for her and Xi-feng not realizing she’d brought her in already, Grannie Liu showing her respect and Xi-feng requesting she stop for not knowing how they were related, yet and after, Ban-er too intimidated to give respect to his “Auntie”. Xi-feng then has Zhou Rui’s wife see if Her Ladyship, presumably Grandmother Jia, was busy, Zhou Rui’s wife returning to relay Grandmother Jia wouldn’t be seeing them, but to share any message with Xi-feng.

Grannie Liu declines and Zhou Rui’s wife giving a look which spoke of she getting a final chance to confess her thoughts, and so was about to do so when interrupted by the arrival of Xi-feng’s nephew, Jia Rong, whom had come to inquire on the behalf of his father to borrow a little glass screen which she at first pretended had already been borrowed, but soon has Patience get the key, Jia Rong so happy he goes off to gather his own servants to carry the load rather than have hers be put out, but Xi-feng asks he return, so later she could share something with him, and when he leaves once more, Grannie Liu gets into how destitute they were and food being scarce, then attempting to get Ban-er to say his little phrases, but he being too busy eating sweets, Xi-feng mercifully allowing this to pass and states she didn’t have to continue, ordering a guest-sized meal to be brought to them, Zhou Riu’s wife doing so, and the speaking with Xi-feng in private of what Grandmother Jia had said in more detail, it about how Grannie Liu wasn’t a blood relative, but was quite close to the family, so would leave it up to Xi-feng as to how much she chose to help them, Xi-feng then returning to relay how she knew they must be living in hard times and would give them some silver to return home with, Grannie Liu relaying how grateful she was before following Zhou Riu’s wife out, she speaking with her for some time after, before leaving the home.

Zhou Riu’s wife goes to Lady Wang, but discovers she’d gone to see Aunt Xue, so she goes after her, she waiting with Bao-chai, since she’d found her speaking with her sister, Zhou Riu’s wife asking if she’d been well the last few days, since she hadn’t come by, she admitting she’d been ill and explains how it wasn’t dangerous, but also had no cure, a monk relaying it was only an overheating problem and supplied a home remedy which surprisingly worked. Bao-chai then explains why she couldn’t describe the powders used, due to when it’s administered affecting how it worked, and as they speak, Lady Wang calls out to them and Zhou Riu’s wife goes in to share the happenings with Grannie Liu, after which Aunt Xue invites her to stick around and hands off a box of fake flowers for the Jia girls to wear. When Lady Wang suggests she keep them for Bao-chai, Aunt Xue shares how the girl was picky about accouterments to her attire, Zhou Riu’s wife then going back out and speaks with Golden about the young lady Caltrop, learning she was the one involved with the murder trial, and when seeing her up close, notes how her features reminded her of Master Rong’s wife, Golden thinking the same, and upon questioning Caltrop, learns nothing due to the girl’s blocked memories.

Zhou Riu’s wife continues to the girls quarters and delivers the flowers, she staying and speaks with a nun about whether the Mother Superior had gotten the monthly donation and where she was, currently. The nun didn’t know, but relays the woman’s whereabouts, and after a little more conversation, moves along to Xi-feng’s, Patience helping her complete her task and then plans on going to Grandmother Jia’s when she runs into her daughter, whom is full of questions, which Zhou Riu’s wife takes lightly, instead inquiring if she also had any issues, since she sensed it was one of those days, her daughter admitting to this and had hoped she’d be able to help her husband. Zhou Riu’s wife agrees to see to it after delivering the remainder of the flowers, going to Dai-yu’s, whom was with Bao-yu, the girl not pleased with the idea of receiving the leftovers of the flowers, and as Bao-yu sends a maid to deliver a message to Bao-chai, Zhou Riu’s wife exits, it being told her daughter’s husband was Yu-cun’s old friend, Zi-xing, he in trouble over some issues with some ancient items bought, Zhou Riu’s wife certain when she brought it to Xi-feng’s attention the issue would be handled.

As evening came, Xi-feng updates Lady Wang on the day’s events, beginning with gifts sent by the Zhen family and having shipped them gifts in return, also informing of gifts also being ready for the Earl of Lian’s mother, and continuing about how she had been invited by Cousin Zhen’s wife to come over the next day, making sure she was allowed to attend, the night then ending. Bao-yu decides he wants to accompany Xi-feng to visit Cousin Zhen’s wife, You-shi, her son and daughter also present. They sit down for tea, Qin-shi then informing Bao-yu to go see her brother, he quickly doing so, but Xi-feng deciding she also wanted to meet Qin Zhong, the boy arriving and awkwardly greeting her, then having the usual inquiries answered of his studies, etc.

When the ladies move on to a card game, the boys leave to chat, the two each having similar thoughts of envy of the other and how they hated they weren’t the other’s equal, so they could be close buddies, and once initializing conversation, become familiar with each other, Bao-yu learning Qin Zhong was currently tutor-less and waiting to get a new one, Bao-yu offerring a school situation his family had set up and suggesting Qin Zhong ask permission to go with him, the two boys agreeing the idea was a good one, they returning to discover Xi-feng had won the card game and a show would be set up as her winnings in a couple days time, Xi-feng then giving her opinion about an old belligerent worker, Big Jao, whom had been asked to accompany Jia Rong home, but was insulting everyone, the man needing to be sent away, she then leaves with Bao-yu, Jia Rong commanding the servants to restrain Big Jao, since he continued prattling on with his threats, Bao-yu making the mistake of inquiring about one he’d heard and Xi-feng threatening to inform his mother, he pleading for her not to and apologizing. Xi-feng changes her anger to comfort and shares how she’ll be speaking with Grandmother Jia about Qin Zhong joining his school.

When they get back, Bao-yu shares with Grandmother Jia his wishes and why it was a positive choice to allow Qin Zhong to join him in class, Xi-feng also supplying her agreement which Grandmother Jia is affected in a good way, Xi-feng then inviting her to the play which was being set up for her, and Grandmother Jia tagging along on the day with Lady Wang, Dai-yu, and Bao-yu, but Lady Wang and Grandmother Jia leave early, Xi-feng having so much fun, she stays much later. Meanwhile, Bao-yu had wanted to watch more of the plays, but had left with Grandmother Jia and then decided to call on Bao-chai, but is held up by some men his father had belittled, and when they release him, a nurse learns they’d left Sir Zheng before he’d taken his afternoon snooze, Bao-yu glad he didn’t have to avoid his father, now and goes straight to Bao-chai’s, but not before being stopped once more by some men who ask about getting some calligraphy by him due to having seen some of his about town, then finally being greeted with familiarity by Aunt Xue, she sending him in to see Bao-chai, he finding her sewing and when Bao-yu speaks, greets him respectfully, the two sitting over tea and speaking of their other cousins.

Bao-chai then states of how she’d been wanting to see his jade more closely for quite some time, he handing it to her, the Narrator reminding this was the same as the stone mentioned at the start of the tale at the Greensickness Peak, listing a poem about it along with the words the monk scraped onto it. When Bao-chai’s maid notes how she had a similarly written message on her necklace, Bao-yu is intrigued to see it, she agreeing and Bao-yu gleefully agreeing the two sounded like two parts of the same script. Bao-yu then smells something on her clothes, she believing it was the pill she’d taken, Dai-yu then entering and making a joke of having come at the wrong time, since Bao-yu was there, talk then turning to retrieving his cape due to it having begun to snow, after which a Nannie Li tells of how she’d gotten flack for Bao-yu drinking wine a time before, since he’d requested a cup this time to go with some goose-foot preserve.

Aunt Xue eases the woman’s mind by assuring she’d take the blame if it came to it, so Bao-yu gets his wine as Dai-yu gives her maid a hard time when she brings her a hand-warmer, Bao-yu having to plead for more wine and Nannie Li warning him to watch himself, since his father may call him later, this sobering Bao-yu’s good mood, but Dai-yu speaking up for him which in turn amuses Bao-chai, Aunt Xue then supporting Bao-yu’s drinking, he feeling better upon her invitation to dinner. When his Nannie goes off to change with instructions to watch Bao-yu closely, the other maids ignore this and go about their business, Aunt Xue discreetly removing the wine when necessary, and replacing it with tasty soups, along with strong tea, believing this would recover him, Dai-yu then mentioning it was time to go, so Bao-yu tags along, the two greeting Grandmother Jia, whom hadn’t dined, yet, she instructing Bao-yu go sleep it off, but when he returns, he’s told by Skybright to use up the ink she’d mixed for him, he inspecting her job of pasting his characters outside, Dai-yu joining them and praising Bao-yu’s work, he then inquiring whether Skybright had received the dumplings he’d sent her, she agreeing and had planned to save them when Nannie Li had taken them for her grandchildren, and also had drank all of the tea being saved for him, this pissing him off, but Aroma stating how if he got rid of her, all the other maids would go, so he stops complaining as they undress him, he falling to sleep almost immediately.

In the morning, Bao-yu overhears Jia Rong come with Qin Zhong to speak with Grandmother Jia, whom was impressed with him and has the other ladies in the family meet him, the visit keeping them into the evening, she also offerring he stay with them if ever his studies kept him too late. When Qin Zhong returns home, he informs his father, Qin Bang-ye of the day he had, it being told of the position he held and his adoption of two children, the boy dying, and Qin Zhong being his progeny late in his life, he happy to know he now needn’t worry about a tutor. The only issue was in thinking of what he’d have to spend to keep Qin Zhong properly started and supplied, but knew it was for the best, so he gives the teacher his raised tuition, whilst paying respect with his son, they then only waiting for Bao-yu to decide when they’d start, the day they go being an eventful one.

Bao-yu wishes to begin their schooling immediately, so sends word they would go in two days. Bao-yu then gets some advice from Aroma about what she’d packed for him on the morning he’d be going, and for him to stay on top of designating someone keeping the place warm, Bao-yu assuring her he’d be all right, and for the maids to keep themselves busy by staying with his cousin Lin, he then going to see Grandmother Jia, Lady Wang, and his father, Jia Zheng, the last being candid about what he believed his son capable of, and wishing he’d go away, his literary guests attempting to keep the mood light and hurry him on to breakfast, but Jia Zheng calls in Bao-yu’s pages as he waits outside, he asking them to inform him of what Bao-yu was actually doing in class, he choosing Nannie Lin’s son to speak, whom honestly informs how far into a book of poetry he was reading, in fear of repercussion. Jia Zheng instructs they tell the teacher to begin him on the Four Books, his attendants agreeing and walking out, they making certain Bao-yu had heard and instead of making it up to them if he disappointed his father and one of them received a beating, they implored him to obey the rules from time to time. By the time he gets back to Grandmother Jia’s quarters, Qin Zhong was waiting with her, the two then walking out, Bao-yu saying goodbye to Dai-yu and then going off to school.

Description of how the Jia school stayed funded and its location are given, then Bao-yu and Qin Zhong are introduced to their fellows upon arrival and get straight to their assignments. The two boys were joined together from then on, Grandmother Jia even looking after Qin Zhong for her gathered affections bringing about getting him clothes and having him stay for multiple nights. Bao-yu soon decides their formalities of being nephew and uncle would be forgotten and they’d from then on treat each other like buddies and siblings, which at first Qin Zhong hesitated to agree to, until Bao-yu kept insisting and led by example, Qin Zhong eventually complying. Like in any school, there was a variety of personalities and classes within the school, their commonality coming from the relations to the Jias, and due to the two boys being close friends, it gave the other students room to start rumors. Xue Pan took advantage of the school by seemingly using it as a sex service. Xue Pan soon had two ‘regulars’ and Bao-yu and Qin Zhong also were taken in by the pairs charm, which Bao-yu and Qin Zhong were unaware was so obvious. Then, Qin Zhong gets a moment with one of the boys and is rudely interrupted by another student, whom threatens to spread lies and speak with the Jia Rui about this boy harassing then, but due to Xue Pan paying him off, he was biased, and since Xue Pan was currently off of Jia Rui and Darling, the boy Qin Zhong was speaking with, he decides to put Darling down which also shames Qin Zhong by association. Jokey Jin, the bully takes advantage of this by furthering the rumors of the two boys taking the time alone to make out etc.

Jia Qiang, related to Jia Rong was being raised by Cousin Zhen, and the sixteen-year-old stood up for the under-dogs. Jia Qiang, thinks strategically the best way to handle the situation since both sides had an in with his relative, so gets the help of Tealeaf, the youngest and most impressionable of Ba0-yu’s pages, Jia Qiang describing the terror Jokey Jin would be if not taught a lesson, so Tealeaf confronts him, Jokey Jin gets permission to ditch class, since Jia Rui is a pussy, Tealeaf gives him crap and Jia Rui notes Tealeaf’s foul language. Jokey Jin is about to have Bao-yu deal with his servant, when Qin Zhong notes something flying by him from the table of Jia Lan and Jun, related to a second Lan, whom was the son of Li Wan and was Bao-yu’s nephew, and whilst Jia Jun was at first indifferent, he gets hooked in by a water bottle hitting his desk, his buddy, Jia Lan keeping his rage from manifesting to more damage. Jokey Jin though, is furious by this, Jia Lan holding him back from returning fire, but Jokey Jin too incensed, throwing a bag of books instead of the inkwell, but his aim not catching the culprit and instead hits Bao-yu and Qin Zhong’s table, Jokey Jin then launching himself at the original thrower. Jokey Jin, meanwhile had picked up a bamboo pole and was whipping it around, hitting Tealeaf, whom then calls in three more pages to assist.

Some students took cover whilst others joined the fight or hooted and urged others on as they stood on desks, Li Gui entering the hubbub and giving the pages the most crap for not keeping their cool, but Bao-yu having final word as he aids Qin Zhong after sustaining a head wound, he declaring they were leaving and would be informing his great-uncle Dai-ru of the unprofessional behavior they’d suffered. Li Gui suggests he leave Dai-ru out of it and blames Jia Rui for not stepping in, he defending himself, but Li Gui stating plainly why the boys had stopped respecting him, and if he didn’t stop Bao-yu from outing them, he’d go down with the rest. Bao-yu declares nothing would sway his decision to speak with his great-uncle, Qin Zhong speaking for justice in the expelling of Jokey Jin, Bao-yu reasoning it would be in Jokey Jin’s future once he told their story and when Jia Rui asks whom Jokey Jin was, Li Gui decides to refrain sharing so as to spare Jia Rui of the pain. As they hear Tealeaf through the window bad mouthing Jokey Jin’s aunt and her bad conduct, which has Li Gui yelling at him to be quiet and Bao-yu deciding now he knew whom Jokey Jin’s aunt was, he’d instead speak with her, Tealeaf then stating proudly, how he’d bring Lady Jia to him, Li Gui pissed off by this and threatening Tealeaf, finally getting the young man to shut up, and hoping his discretions wouldn’t be brought to light and had fixed the problem by pleading with Bao-yu and Qin Zhong separately, Bao-yu eventually deciding the matter would rest pending Jokey Jin admitting he was sorry, he refusing until Jia Rui and Li Gui convince him to relent, he doing so, and Bao-yu changing the condition to have Jokey Jin kotow to them, which would be shared in the next chapter.

Jokey Jin kotows to Qin Zhong, Bao-yu then agreeing the issue was resolved, but Jokey Jin grudging Qin Zhong his closeness to Bao-yu, but his mother hearing him as he spoke to himself, reminding him how lucky he was to be in this school. So, he does as he’s told and continues with his classes next day. Jokey Jin’s aunt was wife to Jia Huang, they living a humble lifestyle, receiving help from Xi-feng and You-shi when close to inability to pay their bills, His aunt decides to visit her sister-in-law about Jokey Jin’s run-in with Qin Zhong, thinking he was responsible for the negative outcome and see if she could get permission to speak with Qin Zhong’s sister. Her fire subsides though, as she sits with You-shi, the lady explaining how Qin-shi was feeling ill and her little brother, Qin Zhong had informed her of the school fight, You-shi then sending him to Bao-yu’s whilst she calmed Qin-shi and had her eat breakfast. She then inquires of Mrs. Huang if she knew a decent doctor, of which she had no information and decided against mentioning her true reasons for coming by, agreeing she should make certain Qin-shi wasn’t pregnant before giving her any definitive remedies.

After a pleasant visit, she leaves, You-shi then describing to Cousin Zhen of the uneventful visit, and then moving on to what they needed to do for Qin-shi. Fortunately, Zhen knows someone they can contact, believing Zhang will definitely visit them the next day, You-shi pacified, and then inquiring what they should do for their father’s birthday the day after, he revealing how their father wanted no part in any family parties for himself, so You-shi plans a two-day party for the family on his behalf. They receive a message from the doctor, promising to drop by next day and put down his own abilities as a practitioner before agreeing, due to respect, to visit Qin-shi. As promised, Dr. Zhang comes by, Zhen greeting him, the doc again explaining his lack of practice as a medical doctor, Zhen believing him humble, and then sends him to Qin-shi where he takes her pulse for some time before going outside with her husband, Jia Rong. The doctor explains his theory not being the conclusion of pregnancy, and he would prescribe her a treatment which if was responded to positively would give her a better chance of living. The list of herbs are given with how much to include and the doctor states she could make it if surviving the Spring, then leaves, Jia Rong relaying to his parents what he’d been told. The chapter after this supplying Qin-shi’s reaction to the medicine.

On the day of Jia Jing’s birthday, Zhen sent some gifts and instructions for the deliverer to note the man’s pleasure, and received the message of Grandfather would lead the prostration of the family from his home. Then, they learn Grandmother Jia wouldn’t be attending due to some dietary issue, they then touching on Qin-shi’s illness before Zhen goes to greet the recently arrived men-folk. You-shi continues to explain how they’d begun the doctor’s prescription, but nothing much had changed. Xi-feng is touched with emotion when learning Qin-shi had forced herself to get up the last time they’d met because of how much they’d bonded. Jia Rong then comes back with the news of their grandfather being happy with how they were conducting the celebration and would now continue looking after the men, but stating Xi-feng would be able to deduce how unwell Qin-shi was upon seeing her soon. You-shi then states how they should decide whether they’d dine inside or out, what with the show being prepared in the yard.

The decision was made to remain indoors and the table was set quickly. After they’d finished, Jia Rong gives a message to his mother of the men who had left and those who they would see at the show, as well as where all the presents were being stowed and the thank you notes and how the guests were treated before being sent off. Xi-feng then decides to visit Qin-shi before joining the rest, Bao-yu becoming affected by her words and Xi-feng turning it around light-heartedly, the reason they’d come, she then deciding to send Bao-yu back with Jia Rong, whilst she spoke a bit longer to Qin-shi. Xi-feng stayed as long as she could ignore messages from You-shi to come out, but finally readying to go, and still attempting to maintain Qin-shi’s positivity level, she then getting emotional as she agreed to visit as frequently as possible, and as she walked, is startled by Cousin Jia Rui, he obviously eye-balling her, she aware and pretending to enjoy his “charm”, they tentatively setting up some time to chat, she allowing him ample distance to move back toward the family, and thinking how she’d set him straight when the timing was right.

Xi-feng is then approached by one of You-shi’s servants, she informing Xi-feng she was now being sent for, You-shi makes clear how dedicated she was to Qin-shi, she then having her sit and drink with the other ladies, Xi-feng then instructed to choose a couple plays from the bill, since the two aunts had already done so, after which Xi-feng states how those two choices would be the final bit of the program for the players, but You-shi insisting she’d like the company, Xi-feng then seeing the men had left, a servant supplying they’d gone off to drink, and when the play was done, the party ended after the ladies had another course and tea, everyone beginning to leave. Cousin Zhen offers the ladies return the next day, but they choose to decline in favor of a day of rest. The day after brought another celebration, and this point onward, Qin-shi got steady visits from Xi-feng, her state of health fluctuating, Cousin Zhen, You-shi, and Jia Rong stressing more with her instability.

Whenever Xi-feng came over for Qin-shi, Jia Rui inexplicably turns up, and at the start of the final month to mark Qin-shi’s having begun the doctor’s treatment for almost a year, Grandmother Jia and ladies were consistently wanting updates of her health, it still not having normalized. Grandmother Jia decides Xi-feng should see how she was the next day, and to make certain her favorite food was in constant replenishment. Xi-feng saw Qin-shi’s lack of appetite having affected the skin on her face, but she still tried to keep her spirits up, and when she spoke with You-shi after, they wonder about Qin-shi’s surviving, You-shi tentatively having planned for the worst, she then reports to Grandmother Jia, being dismissed, and going home. She is then updated on her home’s calls, Jia Rui one of them, and after informing her servant why she was ready to take him on, the woman agrees with her, Jia Rui’s visit spoken of in the next chapter.

Whilst the two were still discussing Jia Rui, they were told he was now about to enter, and when he arrived, Xi-feng could see the pleasure in his face by her non-formal attire, he wondering why Cousin Lian wasn’t in attendance, hinting it could be due to a lady, he then declaring he wasn’t the sort whom flitted from one love to the next when Xi-feng comments all males were like this. He felt even more special when she’d commented how rare an attribute it was, the conversation progressing until Jia Rui states how he’d wile away the hours with her daily, if allowed. Xi-feng then shows how she believed him by comparing how two other men had proven themselves barbaric. Jia Rui became even more smitten, Xi-feng politely warning his movements were being surveyed by the help, he adjusting his body language accordingly. Xi-feng then decides he should ready to leave, but says he can meet her later in the evening when he protests, she quelling his worry of being noticed by anyone near their appointed meeting place.

Later, he arrives to the total darkness behind the side gate, but as he waits he hears the gate he came through being shut, the realization he was stuck there for the night his only company. He was properly chilled by morning and got lucky when an old woman came to be let in, he sneaking out without any trouble and making it home. His grandfather, Jia Dai-ru, whom had raised him, was certain Jia Rui had gone out carousing, since he’d kept him on a tight leash from the start, so Jia Rui decided to say he’d spent the night at his uncle’s house. His grandfather not buying this, whipping him good, then making him do extra homework all night, and not being allowed to have food, but this foo doesn’t learn.

A couple days go by, and he again goes to Xi-feng, she realizing his stubborn efforts hadn’t diminished, so she offers another task for him. Jia Rui falls for it, hard, he leaving her, as requested, and she informing those necessary to expect the berk later in the evening. Jia Rui had the misfortune of being waylaid by relatives joining his grandfather and he for dinner, then must wait for his grandfather to retire for the night, so when Jia Rui makes it to the agreed spot and sees no one, he wonders if he’d been stood up again. Someone does arrive though, and Jia Rui is so filled with lust he immediately goes after the figure and readies to do some poking, when Jia Qiang walks in with light. Jia Rui gets a glimpse of whom he was about to nail, it Jia Rong, Jia Qiang informing him of being expected by Lady Wang, whom was furious to learn Jia Rui’s obsession. He then decides a bribe was in order, Jia Qiang not needing much convincing, and when Jia Rong feigns a more difficult customer, Jia Rui ups his price and writes them an IOU, Jia Qiang then deducing Jia Rui must wait elsewhere until he located the route which would which would keep him “unnoticed”. Jia Qiang deposits him underneath a stair, the two leaving him, and during his short wait, is drenched in human feces,

Image result for 8 crazy nights whitey and porta potty Jia Qiang then returning to let Jia Rui know he could go through the gate now, he not wasting anymore time, getting a servant to let him in and wash. He thought how whilst Xi-feng had betrayed him, he was still overcome by her beauty, these thoughts not allowing him to drift to sleepy-land.

From then on, Jia Rui stayed away from her home, but Jia Qiang and Jia Rong dropped by often for their agreed upon moolah. Due to this stress, his grandfather’s strict homework assignments, and only the company of his hand, since Xi-feng was out of reach, he was stricken ill before the year was done, no remedies showing relief. By Spring, he’d gotten no better, his grandfather Dai-ru in a state, since no one could cure him. Dai-ru, in the end goes to Lady Wang, whom speaks with Xi-feng about acquiring pure ginseng for him, Xi-feng not going out of her way to comply though, she instead sending a crappy package-worth to Dai-ru, Jia Rui desperate to get better, so takes everything, and one day overhears a Taoist saying he could cure certain illnesses from the door, and when the Taoist states he wouldn’t be able to, but had a trinket which would keep him alive, he handing him an inscribed mirror. The Taoist shares how the fairy Disenchantment made it, and as long as Jia Rui resisted looking at the front, he’d be cure in a few days, the Taoist states he’d return for it then.

The Taoist then quickly exits despite those who’d heard, asked him to tarry. Jia Rui then looks at the mirror, seeing a skull, he covering it, and deciding to look at the front to spite the Taoist giving him a fright, he seeing Xi-feng enticing him to come, and boy does he, going through the mirror a few times before the last one, he getting pulled away before being allowed to reenter the real world once more, and everyone who watched this, seeing Jia Rui picking up and putting down the mirror until he stopped breathing, and as Jia Rui’s grandparents mourned, are ready to chuck the mirror in a bonfire and blamed the Taoist, they hearing a disembodied voice remind of Jia Rui having had a choice to obey the instructions. The mirror biffs off without help from anyone, and Dai-ru sees the Taoist outside catch it, and vanishes. Dai-ru is given contributions so Jia Rui’s funeral would be of good quality. Whilst Jia Rui had been dealing with his issues at the end of the year, Lin Ru-hai was also severely sick and requests a visit from Dai-yu. Grandmother Jia didn’t want to allow the girl to go, but makes the proper reservations for her to go to her father’s bedside. Bao-yu also was stricken, but accepted the girl’s departure, Grandmother Jia also had Jia Lian join her on the journey to Yangchow.

Xi-feng was affected with restlessness when Jia Lian had left with only Patience to converse with, the two considering how far into the trip he could be, Win-shi coming in as Xi-feng was close to sleep and Patience already asleep, she wishing to confide in her, since she also would be leaving soon. Qin-shi begins by speaking of some foretelling sayings about how whilst their family was currently respected, how it could fall from its perch easily. She continues about how Xi-feng could stave off too far a fall for them by preparing whilst they were still stable enough, and how there were a couple areas which Xi-feng could focus to make life easier if trouble should strike. Qin-shi explains the family cemetery and school both needed tending, which could be funded with the purchasing of property around the cemetery and the school moved on to said property to be paid for with the new purchases. The family would then share responsibility of tending to the school, which would keep everyone from complaining of having sole charge of the duties. So, in this way, the property would be safe from being taken to its charitable status, and would allow the young people to continue their education and be useful agriculturally.

Qin-shi then professes of a positive occurrence in the near future which could make them all spend in celebration and to be way of the excess extravagance. Qin-shi reveals a riddle before the hour of death is heard by chiming. When Xi-feng awakes, a servant announces Qin-shi had died, Xi-feng then getting ready to go to Lady Wang’s, and family and servants alike mourning her. Meanwhile, during Dai-yu’s absence, Bao-yu kept to himself and began retiring early in the evening, his reaction to Qin-shi’s death worrying his servants, since he’d thrown up blood, but he refused having a doctor called, believing it had been caused by the surprising news. He prepares to see Grandmother Jia and insists being allowed to go to Qin-shi, she setting up transport and entourage for him, and after seeing her body and grieving, looks in on You-shi, whom was ill with a stomach issue, then goes in search of Cousin Zhen, whom was speaking to other family members who had arrived and were mourning. He lost hope for the family name ending because of Qin-shi’s death, then speaks of plans for the funeral. Arrangements are made for her body before the ceremony and moved to a shrine.

Meanwhile, Cousin Zhen gets a deal for the making of the coffin from Xue Pan, they soon hearing of Qin-shi’s young servant committing suicide upon hearing of her passing, they burying the girl next to her. Cousin Zhen then has the good luck of speaking with a well-respected servant whom would be able to help him get his son, Jia Rong considered for a better position so he’d be able to add it to the needed banner for for Qin-shi’s funeral. The servant makes the arrangements with his secretary, and after he’d left, Cousin Zhen plays host to new arrivals to mourn Qin-shi. The next day, Jia Rong’s rank was promoted and the coffin stated as such. So, whilst most everything was progressing easily, Cousin Zhen still stressed over You-shi still being ill and this reflecting the family badly if it damaged some sort of rule regarding the “female head of household”, his answer coming from Bao-yu, Cousin Zhen completely agreeing with him and setting about the temporary head being Cousin Feng (Xi-feng), so brings Bao-yu to his room where only Xi-feng remained, since the other ladies disappeared for embarrassment, and Xi-feng notes how Cousin Zhen had been over-extending himself, he ignoring this and asking for her assistance on receiving her aid, she instructing him to ask Lady Wang, whom enters, but also puts her opinion of herself being too young, Cousin Zhen maintaining she was the only option and becoming upset, Lady Wang and she eventually consenting, so she accepts (I’m getting annoyed by the formalities basically referring to the same person to different ways, it’s confusing). After Cousin Zhen leaves, Xi-feng puts in order the tasks which she need focus on most once Lady Wang also leaves, she narrowing down how best to deal with the servants, especially.

Chief Steward of the Ning-guo mansions, Lai Sheng gives directions to his men to do as Xi-feng asks, their work hours guaranteed to be a bit longer now. So, as long as they put up with her bitchy, stubborn ways for the month, they could kick back after, she being known to go after anyone who disobeyed. Sunshine, Xi-feng’s servant then turns up for the household list of names, everyone snapping to work accordingly. After recieving said list, Xi-feng goes home. Xi-feng arrives back at Cousin Zhen’s early next morning to discuss Lai Sheng’s wife of almost the same topic of discussion Lai Sheng was going over, and then saw all servants before giving out their duties, she then making plain how everything would now be run. Her hold was immediately felt and order returned after many years of nonsense. After seven times seven days before the funeral, the monks had made it to a serious part of their prayers, as were the Taoists and other holy people all doing their parts to prepare Qin-shi’s journey through the afterlife.

Xi-feng had a late start next morning, and upon arriving, has the servants begin the procedures for their mourning. Xi-feng leads by example, Cousin Zhen and You-shi ending the display and Xi-feng starting the task of meeting with the servants, one woman later today, found and begging forgiveness whilst Xi-feng handled an order for silk-cord, which soon turned into other diverted attention for servants and wives of “important” men. Xi-feng continued her tracking of funds and deciding what would be handled according to her logic. Then, she returns her attention to the lady, informing her how she would normally have her conduct qualify dismissal, but instead would make an example of her, and ordered her whipped by bamboo, the servants taking her look of anger seriously and following orders. Xi-feng afterward, notes the new rules for how tardiness would be handled would be double the whipping number the woman endured, along with some other dissuasive fines, she then allows all to get to work. Xi-feng makes her leadership clear, and no one dared slack off. Bao-yu is then followed, using Xi-feng’s office to speak with Qin Zhong, she greeting them and finishing lunch as she took care of restocking orders and chatting to the boys about their school work, Bao-yu realizing Xi-feng hadn’t put through the request for materials necessary to finish his homework space, she revealing the materials had already been supplied and was only teasing him.

A servant traveling with Dai-yu then comes in to report the news of her father’s death and how long they’d be away for the burial. Later in the evening, she gathers requested coats and gives the servant more tasks whilst he looked after Jia Lian. As the funeral day drew nearer, Cousin Zhen picked out Qin-shi’s plot and the number of monks wanted for the ceremony. Cousin Zhen also stayed over at the head monk’s room overnight so he could finish the readying of the plot and whatnot before the funeral, Xi-feng also finalizing her reservations before and after the funeral, she also dealing with other family-related matters throughout, everyone becoming impressed with her multi-tasking and superb handling of all situations. Then, the night no one was to sleep was upon them, Xi-feng surrounded by shy family members, but she not perturbed and giving assignments to all as people came and left throughout the night, morning bringing the funeral. It beginning with the tradition breaking of the bowl by honorary daughter/servant, Jewel, showing her sadness appropriately. One official, the Prince of Beijing had also attended, asking about wanting to meet Bao-yu to Jia Zheng, his father. He retrieves the boy, Bao-y excited to have been asked for, he admiring the Prince, and their conversation forthcoming.

Bao-yu admired Shui Rong, the Prince of Beijing’s mourning accessories and outfit before attempting to greet him formally, but was prevented by the man, he instead asking about Bao-yu’s jade, and being handed the corded stone immediately for inspection. After, the Prince inquires about Bao-yu’s studies, etc and then states how Bao-yu was sure to surpass his elders, Jia Zheng replying how lucky they’d be if Bao-yu lived up to the affirmation. The Prince then offers Bao-yu an invitation to his home to speak with the cultured writers the Prince had been known to host, this allowing Bao-yu another way to be taught different sorts of intellect. He then gives Bao-yu a bracelet he wore, Bao-yu and his father both thanking him traditionally before Jia She and Cousin Zhen offer he go before the coffin’s procession, but the Prince decides the hearse’s presence to importance, so the funeral party was temporarily separated whilst the Prince left. Bao-yu was preparing to join the other men to go by horseback, when Xi-feng invites him to accompany her by carriage, he accepting and then taking a moment to stop at the midway of their travels.

They get out at a farm, one of Bao-yu’s pages describing the farm tools whilst Xi-feng changed her outfit, they eating and taking tea before continuing their ride and catching up at the Temple, and after staying the day, is offered to return home in the evening, but decides to stay, Xi-feng taking responsibility for him. The two, along with Qin Zhong, since his father was unable to remain, retire at her arranged rooms, she speaking with the lady of the house, Euergesia, whilst Bao-yu and Qin Zhong are met by one of Euergesia’s “disciples”, Sapientia, Bao-yu giving Qin Zhong a hard time for supposedly hugging her privately, he denying knowing anything about it. Sapientia couldn’t deny Bao-yu’s claims though, the two having fallen for each other, but their affections innocent, so far. They had tea, then leave Sapientia for other pastimes.

Meanwhile, back with Xi-feng, Euergesia relates a story where a family wished for her assistance, but she not interested in getting involved, Euergesia warning it would give the wrong impression, so Xi-feng decides to quote a price she’d agree to help, if paid, Euergesia immediately assuming they would and whether she’d be prepared to begin the next day, she not saying yet, but the two chatting on. Qin Zhong soon locates Sapientia, he vowing his love, she wanting him to prove it through getting her out of her servant status, and his agreement, but forcing his unbridled passion upon her, Bao-yu cock-blocking him in a odd way, and he deciding what Qin Zhong would do to keep his secret for him, but the details unknown. Now, Qin Zhong is attempting to figure a reason for them to remain longer, Xi-feng weighing the reasonability, deciding it’d suit her for the task she agreed to do. Xi-feng has a servant send a message to a general Yun Guang, and when they were set to leave the next day, Xi-feng makes sure Euergesia will contact her with Yun Guang’s answer. Qin Zhong and Sapientia’s parting was full of sadness and the details of the departure are to follow.

Everyone’s return home is uneventful, Bao-yu had every intention of using his finished work space, but Qin Zhong became sick, and woe he is made to wait longer before he could study with him. Xi-feng received Guang’s response in affirming his readiness to help her which had him receiving his gifts back and a young lady and man committing suicide in the process, Xi-feng looking like she was content with money made and Lady Wang remaining in the dark, this seemingly the start to her new hobby. Soon, Jia Zheng’s birthday has come, a message from the Emperor coming by Head Eunuch of the Bedchamber, they learning Jia Zheng had been summoned to see the Emperor right then, this having the rest of the family wondering what reason there could be as Zheng readies to leave. A few hours later, Grandmother Jia receives message of she and her female family members were now also being asked to go meet Zheng so they could show gratitude, Grandmother Jia learning privately one of the ladies had been chosen as Imperial Concubine.

When the women found out, they were quite pleased and dressed according to title of power. Bao-yu was the only one whom wasn’t bothered by this good news, Sapientia having followed Qin Zhong and he getting punished when Qin Bang-ye found her, he getting so incensed, an illness which he periodically fought, finally claimed him a few days later, so due to the physical stresses and mental anguish from losing his father, he struggled to get better. This is why Bao-yu’s sister, Yuan chun’s “promotion” didn’t brighten his mood, the family putting it off to being one of his crazy ways. Although, the knowledge of Dai-yu finally returning helped him defrost a bit, and when she arrived, she became swept up with locating space for the new books she’d brought back (I feel that). Meanwhile, Xi-feng and Jia Lian were jokingly speaking formally with each other, and as they had tea, spoke of Xi-feng’s duties and she down-playing her competence at managing households. As she’s inquiring Jia Lian to have Cousin Zhen forgive her terrible management of his home, Jia Lian is reminded of hearing news about Xue getting Caltrop as he’d been wanting. Jia Lian notes how Xue wasn’t suitable for her, so Xi-feng offers to exchange her maid for Caltrop.

When Jia Lian goes to see Zhen, whom had dropped by, Patience admits the reason Caltrop was mentioned was because Brightie’s wife had come to deliver money. Later on, as Xi-feng and Jia Lian have wine, his old nurse comes by to ask about possible work for her sons, Xi-feng willing to take the matter into her own hands. The conversation then moves on to the Emperor’s project of having a place for the concubines to visit with their parents, Jia Lian helping with this. Nannie Zhao speaks of the old Emperor’s ways and is soon interrupted by Jia Rong and Jia Qiang who were delivering the message of where the Visitation spot would be placed and to give comment the next day. Jia Qiang then relays a message about his own task of hiring entertainers and was to accept advice, Jia Lian wonders whether he was experienced enough to choose appropriately, Xi-feng defending Zhen’s choice to have Jia Qiang handle it.

After Jia Lian learns how the money for this task would be handled, he approves of Jia Qiang’s plan so far, and Xi-feng offers a couple helpers to aid him, which he’d been hoping to request. Jia Qiang offers to pick up anything Jia Lian needed in appreciation for his help, and after this, heard a few general household matters before retiring for the night, Xi-feng joining him by midnight. Jia Lian plays a large role in choosing the builders to undertake the project which began the next day, after which they started purchasing supplies and moving a garden to attend to the landscape before building. Due to the family focused on this, Bao-yu wasn’t hassled about his school work, but soon discovers Tealeaf, Qin Zhong’s state turning into a deathly illness. Bao-yu relays this to Grandmother Jia, whom allows he go to him until he passed, but must return directly after. Bao-yu leaves and quickly takes a carriage to Qin Zhong’s where he was being looked after by female relatives.

When Bao-yu sees his friend lying on a bed instead of his kang, he becomes upset, Li Gui reminding Bao-yu the reason behind this could be due to Qin Zhong’s sensitivity to certain levels of hardness of cushion rather than it being about the custom of not being allowed to expire on a kang, hoping this possibility would calm Bao-yu so as not to upset Qin Zhong, but he needn’t have worried, since Qin Zhong was currently dealing with beings ready to drag him into the afterlife, but upon hearing Bao-yu calling, the “demon” leader and bunch put them atwitter as to how to proceed. The lead demon decides to relent in letting Qin Zhong a few more moments to say goodbye to Bao-yu, since he wore his demon repelling jade. Unfortunately, Qin Zhong was unable to speak and could only awake to look at Bao-yu before descending into blackness.

Bao-yu was terribly distraught from this day until quite some time after the funeral. Later still, Cousin Zhen informed Jia Zheng of the garden being done and he would be last to decide if they needed to add anything else, as well as the opinion for certain points of the space to be named, the two agreeing with an idea from a man of words about putting their ideas on lanterns and have Grandmother Jia decide later which would be best. Bao-yu had been prompted by her Ladyship only moments before to go in the garden, so hadn’t been quick enough to retreat before his father approached, Jia Zheng then deciding he’d see how gifted Bao-yu’s couplet skills truly were, since receiving good notes regarding this from his instructor.

Jia Zheng leads them all to the first spot needing to be named, everyone suggesting something, Jia Zheng not disappointed after Bao-yu makes his suggestion, but the area ultimately going to receive a different name. They move to another area and the group again gives opinions, Bao-yu doing well and this time his father acknowledging this in the usual minimalist way, they moving on. this time, the little enclosed area bringing to mind the idea of studying within to Jia Zheng’s attention and Bao-yu showing a look of guilt. After hearing the other men first, Jia Zheng speaks deprecatingly about Bao-yu to Cousin Zhen, since he’d suggested hearing from Bao-yu once more, he again giving a more suitable idea and stating why the others didn’t seem fitting. Jia Zheng hadn’t been impressed with the couplet Bao-yu offered thought, getting the report of what deliveries had been made for the structure thus far. They move on to the next area as they listened, Jia Zheng happy to have reached this particular rest-spot.

Bao-yu doesn’t wait to be asked this time and his father responds heatedly about they only having been inquiring to test him, so when they moved to another building he had Bao-yu attempt a name, Jia Zheng not pleased and putting down both name and couplet before moving on, this time traveling to another area with a stream, Bao-yu still unable to impress his father, the group then climbing to another area over a hill. Jia Zheng’s first impression of another building turned from negative to calm due to the view from the door, plants all about within, Bao-yu mistakenly offering his opinion on the smell form the plants coming from a particularly named rare plant.

When Bao-yu stays silent at the next building as the literary men suggested couplets, Jia Zheng calls on his son again, goading him for his opinion, and again acting surprised when the other men praise Bao-yu, but inwardly agreeable, at the least to the positive feedback. The next place they went was the entrance hall, this place giving Bao-yu deja-vu, the other men having Jia Zheng allow Bao-yu to give his opinion in a day’s time, since he looked so preoccupied with attempting to remember. Jia Zheng does only allow these terms if Bao-yu gives him a perfect suggestion, they then being interrupted by a servant with information Yu-cun having sent a message. They leave with Jia Zheng leading, he again shooting down a suggestion from Bao-yu when they crossed a dam, after which they walk past many other quaint rest areas, Jia Zheng only stopping when he became tired.

Bao-yu still attempts naming the place they were in after his father had the others speak. The idea wasn’t accepted, though and they continued on until reaching where they’d begun, Jia Zheng allows Bao-yu to depart, the boy being stopped by his father’s pages, who took all of his valuables they could see as payment for supplying him with his poems, they then take him to Grandmother Jia, after which he goes back to his quarters, Aroma and then Dai-yu seeing his missing articles, the latter annoyed he’d given away a gift of hers, she collecting and cutting up a bag Bao-yu had requested she make, he showing her how the gift she’d thought had been re-gifted was actually saved, she upset by his reaction of returning it to her and then calming her down when he saw she was going to destroy this purse, as well. When he didn’t let her alone, though, she attempts arguing why he’d insist keeping the little purse when he’d tried to reattach it, the two eventually making peace enough to go to Jia Qiang’s where they learned of a twelve girl act he’d acquired, also 24 nuns also being employed by Lin Zhi-xiao’s wife, the lady informing how they may get an extra nun, Adamantina, whom would fit well and came from a good family, but the young lady having not been convinced, yet. Lady Wang suggests a formal invite of which the results continue presently.

As Xi-feng became busier, Bao-yu decides to move their group to Ying-chun’s quarters. Meanwhile, Lady Wang would be occupied with work for the garden for the next ten months straight. Finally, after Grandmother Jia had given her okay, Jia Zheng puts in request and receives answer for a “Visitation”, in a month’s time. A eunuch made last minute rules and requests on behalf of the concubine and the night before the visit brought rest to no one. The important members of the family were all ready by five next morning and waiting at the entrance until hearing how the concubine wouldn’t be arriving until early evening. Xi-feng prepares small assignments in the meantime, and when night finally falls, the eunuchs soon get wind of the concubine’s approach, the Jia family also reclaim their spots of welcome, and then two sets of ten eunuchs stand in a line before they hear the concubine reaching their estate. First her servants carry her belongings, she bringing up the rear. Yuan-chun descends only for a moment to “‘changing her clothes'” before being brought to the freshly pimped garden, she overwhelmed by the lengths obviously gone to in order to show the excessive make-over. As Yuan-chun was brought further into the garden, it’s explained why Jia Zheng had chosen to use his son’s suggestions being to do with Yuan-chun having been so close with him when he was a small boy. Yuan-chun, not knowing this it seems, spoke her mind, and one title for the entrance to an area was shortened whilst another changed completely. Yuan-chun then sat to be greeted by the family, her lady-in-waiting dismissing each group as they paid respects.

Yuan-chun’s lady-in-waiting went about excusing each group as they paid respects. After this, she again, “changes her clothes” and is carried to her family’s home. Grandmother Jia and Lady Wang both waiting, and Yuan-chun becoming emotional from seeing them after so long. Six other ladies were standing around and watching the scene with tears in their eyes. After everyone calmed, others were brought forward to greet her, and after learning Aunt Xue, Bao-chai, and Dai-yu weren’t present, she had them called on to attend the reunion. Then, when most of the high-positioned servants were led out, Yuan-chun was comfortable enough to lose diplomatic formality, unfortunately, it making certain trouble when wanting to chat with her father, Jia Zheng, they having to speak with a curtain hiding one from the other. He spoke of advising her, and also stating of his wife and he were honored by her royal position and she shouldn’t feel upset for her good fortune including this stipulation of her visit.

Yuan-chun then wonders aloud where Bao-yu was, after which Jia Zheng shared his son’s contribution for the titles in the garden. She calls for him and is overcome with joy once more, until being led to a feast elsewhere, getting the chance to explore the grounds further, and afterward, she and the family sitting down for their meals and she writing down her choice for titles of the lovely garden and changes to the names of some, but not Bao-yu’s inscriptions. After doing a bit more writing, Yuan-chun requests the ladies of the family to attempt writing some poetry, as well as Bao-yu expanding on his inscriptions of her four top favorites. Everyone immediately begins, the ladies poems being read first. Yuan-chun praises two out of the four young ladies, and then Bao-chai helps Bao-yu with his last requested poem. After this, the twelves little girl performers got their chances to show their talents, one girl, Charmante being noticed considerably more. Then, Yuan-chun makes an inspection of the list of gifts which would be given to the family and servants, she agreeing, the time for her visit ending. Grandmother Jia with Lady Wang were both visibly upset, Yuan-chun attempting to reassure them everything would be fine before steeping back into her carriage.

The emperor hears of Yuan-chun’s visit a day later, and Xue-feng along with the rest of the family, were taxed physically and mentally by all the planning they’d done, she continuing to oversee the cleanup of the garden which lasted for the next few days. Bao-yu though, was among those being completely sedentary with his time, he accepting an invitation to attend some plays at the other house. The productions were so loud, people on the streets could hear the cacophony. Bao-yu becomes tired of it fairly quickly and decides to move along, chatting with You-shi first, but leaves her and the maids and concubines shortly after, his attendants all having let him be for believing he’d only mill about until evening. Bao-yu was on his way to see a portrait of a lady hanging in one of Cousin Zhen’s studies, and upon approaching closer, hears questionable sounds from within. He makes a tear in the paper window and witnesses Tealeaf getting off with another girl. Bao-yu was shocked into a yelp and busted in on the two, allowing the one girl to leave and inquiring of Tealeaf to share the girl’s name, which was Swastika (the story behind this, shared), the two then decide to visit Aroma where they are also greeted by her family and before being escorted back home, sits a little while.

Meanwhile, his maids were also taking advantage of Bao-yu being out, Nannie Li dropping in and not being impressed with their behavior. She helps herself to Bao-yu’s gift to Aroma, though and becomes peeved and feels guilty when hearing why the koumiss had been saved. Another maid attempts to make light of Nannie Li’s egotistic perspective by agreeing with her, but she didn’t believe the maid’s genuineness, and after leaving, Bao-yu returns to notice the maid, Skybright lying down, Ripple relating the events with Nannie Li and how Skybright started losing when the old woman arrived. Aroma then comes in, Bao-yu asking for the koumiss and the maids naming the drinker, Aroma stating how Nannie Li would’ve been welcome to it anyways, since she’d made herself sick of the drink before Bao-yu could react.

When Aroma requests Bao-yu peel some chestnuts for her, this distracts him from thinking anymore of Nannie Li and he drifted to the topic of one of Aroma’s younger relatives, the girl catching his interest and confiding his opinion of liking the girl to reside with them, Aroma taking offense over how her family shouldn’t all have to work for his, Bao-yu claiming the possibility he could’ve meant as a bride rather than a maid, Aroma not buying this due to her family’s lower status. She then shares how the girl was already betrothed, Bao-yu showing disappointment, and then shocked and surprised when hearing her family’s plans of buying her freedom to move back home. Bao-yu’s reaction to state how he could keep her there when she’d confessed her wish to return to them, and explaining how his family couldn’t deny her freedom if purchased, Bao-yu distressed over this, but seeing how possible it was, regardless of his hypothetical scenarios to make her stay, he then sharing how he’d rather have not had her employed for him if she’d told him sooner she’d eventually leave, readying for bed.

Then the conversation between Aroma’s mother, brother, and herself is related, she not wanting  them to buy her out, due to how well she was treated and they not having need of the money to sell her off again, they also agreeing with her after seeing Bao-yu. So, Aroma confessing the opposite to him was part one in a complicated plan (maybe?), she’d successfully gotten Bao-yu off his high horse and discovered his true feelings. She then goes to Bao-yu to see he’d been crying, she confiding her change of heart to stay and Bao-yu asking her to think of a way to prove to her how much he truly wanted her to remain with him. Aroma wants him to perform three tasks for her, one being to not go on and on with long drawn out responses, the second to at least pretend to enjoy studying, especially around his father and associates, Bao-yu claiming to already having stopped doing this, the third was to resist taking lipstick and eating it, he agreeing fully, and Aroma stating if he could keep it up and only be careful how reckless he was, she wouldn’t ever leave. Another maid then walks in to share the hour being late, so Bao-yu again goes through his bedtime rituals.

Next morning, Aroma becomes ill, so had to take most of the day off, Bao-yu going to see Dai-yu, whom was attempting to nap, but he insisting her napping after a meal was unhealthy, so she relented staying up and chatting with him. Bao-yu becomes distracted by Dai-yu’s perfume scent as she advised him to be careful being seen helping to make rouge, since the news could read his father. Dai-yu confesses it wasn’t perfume, but perhaps came from her closet, Bao-yu denying this for the smell being different. After some time sniffer her cuff, he attempts to make idle conversation, Dai-yu not participating until Bao-yu pretends hearing of a story about Yangchow and some magic mice, she then relenting to listen. When Dai-yu finally realizes this story involved a character with connotations to herself entering the story, she punishes Bao-yu with a lip-pinch, Bao-chai coming in and asking what had happened, Dai-yu explaining and happy to know Bao-chai could now whip Bao-yu at his own game, they then hearing an angry outburst from the vicinity of Bao-yu’s room.

So, as they’d been having a grand ole time, Bao-yu feels better now Dai-yu wouldn’t get indigestion, she identifying the yelling coming from Nannie Li arguing at Aroma, Bao-chai keeping Bao-yu from breaking it up for Nannie Li’s outburst being small potatoes. Bao-yu agrees with her words before going off and hearing Nannie Li’s insults to Aroma having to do with her not having at least acknowledged her presence when she’d arrived. Aroma kept her cool, but became upset when Nannie Li began suggesting how better off they’d all be with her getting married and leaving, Bao-yu attempts to support Aroma with the allowance of she having been sick, but Nannie Li continues her rampage by believing Aroma had turned all of them against her, she then becoming upset, Bao-chai and Dai-yu attempting to ease her emotion.

Xi-feng’s attention is caught in the front room, she entering and stating to Nannie Li of needing to be quiet, Grandmother Jia was in good spirits and didn’t need to hear her petty b.s. (seriously; It was said in kinder terminology, though). Xi-feng also states how if Nannie Li was being upset by anyone she should report them to her for punishment, she then insisting the old bag come have some stew and drink in her quarters, Nannie Li begrudgingly following, but quietly bitching about how she didn’t regret her actions. Bao-chai and Dai-yu were properly amused by this, Bao-yu wondering why Nannie Li had truly gone off on everyone, Skybright defending the girls due to the culprit should’ve willingly come forward if circumstances warranted, Aroma then stating how Bao-yu shouldn’t have turned the quarrel into a group affair, since she always received the backlash, stopping herself from becoming further distressed for Bao-yu’s sake, he also staying reserved, since he could see she was truly ill.

As a proper lie-down is set up for her, she suggests he sit with Xi-feng and Grandmother Jia for awhile, she assuring him she’d be alright, Bao-yu agreeing with her idea and so joins his grandmother once Aroma was settled, he returning afterward to find all his maids gone except Musk, whom had decided to keep an eye on Aroma and Bao-yu’s quarters. So, before retiring himself, he brushes her hair when he remembers she’d been talking about it earlier, another maid coming in, teasing Bao-yu, he making light of it, fortunately, and then returning to her game. By the following morning Aroma had recovered, so Bao-yu goes to Aunt Xue’s home. Some of his other closely-aged relatives were also there playing games, Bao-yu’s half-brother, Jia Huan playing against Bao-chai, she treating the two brothers equally, so when Jia Huan starts losing the game and attempts to cheat, Bao-chai has the other girl give up her winnings, she annoyed, but Jia Huan breaking down, which Bao-yu then comes in to inquire the reason, but the other too ashamed to confess.

Besides this, there was an odd relationship between the two due to Jia Huan being a concubine’s son and the younger. Bao-yu didn’t bully him, since people were already speaking about him enough as it was, and he also was ruled by his religion teaching respect of blood being of utmost importance, so Bao-yu dealt with Jia Huan as this and the fact he’d grown up with females coloring his reasoning. He made it clear if the game was upsetting him, he should go find something else he’d enjoy. Jia Huan ends up back in his own quarters where his actual mother, “‘Aunt Zhou'” wondered aloud what had happened (Lady Wang was known as his mother only by title). When Jia Huan shares his story of what had occurred, Aunt Zhou bursts with how he shouldn’t have been mixing with them anyways. Xi-feng hears her as she passes by, telling her off through the window and having the boy come with her. She proceeds to berate him about his choice of bad company and being too weak-minded, she then sending him off with more cash for betting with and would make him regret any similar behavior in the future if she heard about it again. Meanwhile Bao-yu and Bao-chai go to visit with Miss Shi when she comes to call.

When arriving at Grandmother Jia’s room, Dai-yu was there giving Bao-yu a hard time about spending time with Bao-chai. She exits, and Bao-yu goes after her wondering why she was mad, she stubborn and Bao-yu getting pulled away by Bao-chai on behalf of Cousin Shi, the two leaving Dai-yu upset, and when Bao-yu returns later, she is more distressed and so he attempts calming her with how close they were compared to Bao-chai, whom was too new to be considered more of a closer cousin. Cousin Shi then comes to say how perfect it was they deserting her the one time she’s actually available to them, the two laughing at her lisp and she quickly exiting after a joke about Dai-yu marrying a lisper. Bao-yu blocks Dai-yu’s attempts at chasing her and Bao-chai tries to diffuse the situation by waving the white flag, Dai-yu having a Nannie Li moment when she sticks to her pursuit and belief there was collusion against her. Bao-yu makes her realize how this nonsense began due to her own tom-foolery, a servant interrupting with news of Grandmother Jia starting supper, after which Bao-yu hangs around with Dai-yu and Xiang-yun until quite late, Aroma asking for him periodically.

The next morning, Bao-yu is up with the light and fussing at Xiang-yun’s blankie, Dai-yu having him leave temporarily whilst they dressed, and after finishing cleaning their faces, Bao-yu requests Xiang-yun style his hair, Aroma sees this and returns to Bao-yu’s room where Bao-chai comes looking for him, she taking a moment to speak with Aroma about herself, liking the girl. When Bao-yu returns, he notes how quickly Bao-chai leaves, Aroma not in a good humor and Bao-yu stating as much, she confessing she’d like to work for Grandmother Jia once more. This worries Bao-yu, but he doesn’t get anything more from her, and when he receives similar attitude from Musk, he lets it go and lays down for a nap. When Aroma covers him and he takes the blanket off, they begin speaking, he stating how she wouldn’t even let him in on why she was mad, and she maintaining he should know already and when he finishes lunch and returns, she has fallen asleep. He goes to his room and reads for awhile until seeing one of his maids, Citronella, standing in the room awaiting instruction, he changing her nickname given to her by Aroma to Number Four due to the number of girls in her family and she being the baby, he growing tired of the flower and fragrance theme.

Aroma and Musk quietly find this amusing, Bao-yu now bored with his uneventful day, Number Four wanting to make a favorable impression on him, and after dinner, Bao-yu now a bit inebriated, he considered how best to bide his time from Aroma, reading and becoming inspired by a passage and adding his own thoughts in the book regarding Aroma, Musk, Dai-yu, and Bao-chai, then retiring. Aroma is asleep next to him when he wakes in the morning, he rousing her so she could go sleep comfortably on her own kang (which everyone seems to lounge and sleep on, so I presumed). When Bao-yu attempts to get her more comfortable, she resists, still playing her game of having him see his wrongful ways. Instead, it seems to be left alone once Bao-yu breaks a hair-pin, they both washing up. Bao-yu leaves and Dai-yu comes looking for him, seeing his open book, and ads her own lines to his. She then goes to Grandmother Jia’s, and after to Lady Wang’s, the doctor having seen her daughter, she being sick with smallpox. The doctor advises the potential for recovery and how to treat it for the little girl’s comfort. A room was then prepared for the girl, doctors, and parents, since it would be a 12 day process.

Jia Lian was affected by this set up because of the forced abstinence it entailed, which would be satiated by a lady known as “the mattress”, the wife of a cook called “Droopy Duo”. Jia Lian soon had her brought to him, she delighted, they meeting in the evening, and upon getting down, her nickname explained as coming from an affectation her body took, and once finished, the two ‘come’ (wink) to an agreement. When the baby’s illness had passed and everything was normal, Patience discovers a lock of hair under Jia Lian’s pillow, she confronting him about what it could be, and when he makes a lunge for it and fails to retrieve it before Xi-feng was heard heading towards them and requesting an item for Grandmother Jia, asks whether anything was found or missing from Jia Lian’s temporary quarters, she knowing the possibility of her hubby’s naughtiness.

Patience keeps his secret and when they’re alone again, was about to negotiate terms when he tricks her into releasing the hair, and her frustration making him ask for her to let him lay her, she leaving whilst the getting was good. He then vows to make Xi-feng realize whom was actually in power in their relationship, it sounding murderous, he claiming she was using the double-standard on him (rightly), Patience defending Xi-feng for not being a cheat. When she mentions how trustworthy she thought of him, he widens his threat to include anyone who thought his conduct unsavory, Xi-feng then happening to return to see Patience conversing through an open window, she giving Xi-feng some attitude when she mentions why she was outside to speak with Jia Lian inside, then exiting, Jia Lian also trying to excuse himself, but Xi-feng having a topic to discuss.

Xi-feng inquires about their plans for Bao-chai’s birthday, since she’d be turning fifteen and Grandmother Jia wanted a nice party for her, so Jia Lian comes up with a simple solution, Xi-feng only making certain he had final say, he not caring as long as she eased up her surveillance of him. Shi Xiang Yun is then followed, she preparing to end her stay, but Grandmother Jia insisting she wait til after the party, she agreeing and sending word back home. Meanwhile, Xi-feng speaks with Grandmother Jia about what her thoughts were for entertainment, she going off on her in a burst when she was offered a meager sum to obtain said festivities, fortunately everyone taking it lightly. Grandmother Jia had caught on to the situation being for her benefit, she enjoying these set up digs on her.

On the day of the party, a different child acting troupe is scheduled. The party stayed a private affair, and Dai-yu was still acting aloof toward Bao-yu, as he’d come to her room to offer choosing her favorite plays for her, she not impressed, but still allowing him to lead her out. After the family had eaten, Bao-chai chooses the first play to be from a piece of Journey to the West, Grandmother Jia happy with her decision. The others also get a choice and everyone sits to watch the set, Bao-yu asking Bao-chai why she kept requesting similarly themed plays, her answer having to do with the music and lyrics, Bao-yu having her share which part she particularly liked, she obliging by quietly singing the section.

Bao-yu agrees with her assessment, Dai-yu voicing her annoyance at his talking, and after everyone had watched the plays into the evening, Grandmother Jia gave extra gifts to two of the girls who stood out, afterward. As the troupe was packing it in, some noted how one of them looking like one of their party, Xiang-yu naming the person, then becoming angry when receiving a look from Bao-yu, which she mistakenly perceived to be a look of insult, and she not caring for his explanation, he then getting pushed out of a room by Dai-yu when he was looking for her. He waits her out and when she opens the door once more to find him still waiting, she allows him entry, alluding to how he seemed to support her being teased, he declaring the statement hadn’t been made by him, and she concluding with a baffling answer, since she supported everyone’s reaction, whilst wasn’t ideal, she thought his staying straight-faced made it worse, like she couldn’t take the joke. Besides this, how he’d reacted to Xiang-yu confused her into thinking it was due to she being on a lower rung-of-importance to Xiang-yu and shouldn’t have been joining with her, for risking a comeback, and so believed his excuse of she being sensitive was to distract from this, Dai-yu not liking he’d stuck in nose in. Bao-yu realizes how his actions had received negative results from both ends and his book reading reminded him of the philosophies saying how unfulfilling the task he’d put on himself was, making him feel worse, so he ditches her in favor of his quarters.

Dai-yu took this even more insulting and declared he stay away from her and not speak with her again. Bao-yu doesn’t respond, and when Aroma sees him, lets it be and talks of different subjects, her attempts being met with indifference. Bao-yu was determined to keep out of any suggestion referring to the ladies and so stayed aloof with all of Aroma’s ideas regarding good spirits toward the women. After quoting a line describing how he felt, he became upset and began writing some verses. When he was satisfied, he goes to bed, Dai-yu wandering in later and Aroma detaining her before she withdrew, after learning Bao-yu had retired, but was amused by Bao-yu’s writing which Aroma gives her, she showing Xiang-yu and Bao-chai, the latter disposing of it, since believing Bao-yu had written it because of what she’d told him of the play, Dai-yu finding her reaction amusing. She states how destroying the paper was unnecessary and could reverse Bao-yu’s reaction by posing a specific question to him, which when he heard, could not find a reply, all who watched on amused and suggesting alternatives to his torn up thoughts, he then realizing his Enlightened moment was false, taking the three’s ribbing lightly, since they also hadn’t obtained Enlightenment, regardless of knowing more than he.

Meanwhile, Yuan-chun had sent a riddle for the family to decipher and return a riddle of their own to her. Everyone took part in answering the riddle and supplying one of their own and the answers along with the riddles were delivered and returned in kind. So, whilst some of Yuan-chun’s guesses were incorrect, those who’d stumped her pretended she’d succeeded in solving them. Jia Huan was the only one whom had given a riddle Yuan-chun admitted she couldn’t solve, the answer being sent to her, Grandmother Jia so taken with the game, she sets up one of her own for everyone, Jia Zheng also taking part, and after Grandmother Jia had Li Wan join them, also noting Bao-yu staying monosyllabic due to his father’s presence, the other ladies were also lacking in conversation, Bao-chai the least affected by whatever was putting the others off, Grandmother Jia considering the cause to be Jia Zheng, she attempting to convince him to turn in, but he wanting to be a part of the fun, Grandmother Jia relenting by offerring him a riddle, the two soon trading riddles, Jia Zheng giving presents when Grandmother Jia’s answers were correct.

After, she suggest he has a go at the kids riddles, getting them with one guess, but becoming depressed by how dark they were. Grandmother Jia could tell something had darkened his mood and didn’t want him bringing down the party anymore and again brings up of he readying to retire for the night, he agreeing this time and doing so after a couple more drinks and conversation with her before making his exit, his mood not improving. At the table, upon Grandmother Jia stating they loosen up, Bao-yu immediately begins critiquing the riddles, Dai-yu and Xi-feng making fun of how animated he’d become and realizing Jia Zheng should stick close to him more often if they wanted peace, he retaliating against Xi-feng’s comment by play-wrestling with her. After some little time, Grandmother Jia becomes tired and breaks up the party so all could settle for bed.

A bit after Yuan-chun’s visit, she has a copy of the poems made about the garden and has the best ones engraved in the family’s honor. Jia Zheng goes about passing the responsibility to have her wishes met and was considering how to proceed with transplanting the nuns and monks elsewhere (this being mentioned way back…), Zhou-shi turning up thinking a job for her son, Jia Qin could be acquired, since the family needed the money, she getting the opportunity to chat with Xi-feng, whom liked her, and after hearing her idea of how to keep the nuns and monks with no problems of separating them, Xi-feng has Jia Zheng informed because it was so clever, she being reminded by her hubby Jia Lian they had to think of Jia Yun first, she already having plans for him, Jia Lian agreeing and asking about a little romp they had the night before, she giving a small laugh and not answering. Later, when Jia Lian relays all of their plans for the boys to Jia Zheng, he allows this quickly for indifference in these matters, Jia Qin being hired and he stating his gratitude to them, Xi-feng also having Jia Lian supply him with an advance, he immediately starting his work after speaking with his mother.

Meanwhile, Yuan-chun was reminiscing  about the beauty of the garden as she worked on the poems it had inspired and thinking how terrible it was knowing they wouldn’t be using it in her absence, so she decides to have the girls and Bao-yu move in there. She writes her wish of this and has it sent to Jia Zheng and Xi-feng, and when Grandmother Jia is informed, they begin setting up for this to happen, Bao-yu quite ready to move in and chatting to Grandmother Jia of his plans of what he wished put there, he then being called by Jia Zheng, his attitude changing obviously, Grandmother Jia comforting him and telling him how to respond to his father during this visit, and when she sends him off with some nannies as “protection”, he makes his way to his father slowly, the nannies awaiting outside the area his father was enjoying seeing him take his time, one making light of his apprehension and letting him know his father was in a decent mood, so he should take advantage whilst he could.

Jia Zheng states what he expected from Boa-yu once he’d moved and the consequences if he got out of line, his mother then reminding him to have Aroma give him his pill each night, Jia Zheng becoming irritated upon hearing the maids nicknames, the two then dismissing him. When he returns to Grandmother Jia’s and sees Dai-yu, they decide which part of the garden they wanted, the two being neighbors and a date set for them all to move in, Bao-yu’s life becoming a thing of idyllic freedom. He’d composed for poems indicated by season of how he fest and had become popular as a source for knocking them out, pleased with the attention: what with being thirteen and liking having people refer to him for his work. One day, though he’d grown unfulfilled and couldn’t get comfortable. Tealeaf realizes Bao-yu had yet to try one thing, he gifting some books the boy hadn’t seen before, and Tealeaf asking he keep them secret.

Bao-yu attempts to, but one day as he’s reading under a tree, Dai-yu walks in on him, explaining what she’d been doing with the fallen tree blossoms, as Bao-yu had been dumping them in the water, she then mentioning the book he’d been reading and disbelieving his reply, so he promises her to secrecy and praises its absorption capacity. Dai-yu soon realizes the truth in his claim she agreeing after reading a bit. When Bao-yu quotes a couplet which Dai-yu takes personally, he quickly apologizes, she brightening and the two burying petals when Aroma announces Uncle She was sick and the two were summoned by Grandmother Jia to attend. After, Dai-yu was walking by herself and heard the girl troupe practicing a song, she concluding how a song could have wonderful pietry and is soon brought to her knees and tears as she listened, someone interrupting.

Caltrop explains why she’d been wandering and then walks Dai-yu back to Naiad’s House. They see a gift sent to Dai-yu, hang out, and after, Caltrop leaves her. Meanwhile, Bao-yu was expected by Grandmother Jia to check on his Uncle She, and as he wait for his change of clothes, essentially wraps himself around Faithful, Grandmother Jia’s servant and wanting to eat her lipstick, Aroma walks in and states how he was becoming a lost cause. Then, before he away’s to She’s, he’s greeted by Jia Lian, the two interrupted by Jia Yun, Bao-yu and Jia Lian’s nephew, a joke being made about Jia Yun not minding if Bao-yu wished to be his father, even though Jia Yun was years older. As they all part ways, Bao-yu invites Jia Yun to visit him the next day, he then riding (by horse) to She’s. After seeing him, and noting he only had a chill, he relates Grandmother Jia’s message, he’s then brought to Lady Xing’s room where they chat, being briefly interrupted by Jia Cong, Jia Huan, and Jia Lan, Lady Xing making an excuse to have them leave, Bao-yu then being invited for dinner with she, Ying-chun, and her nieces before returning to Grandmother Jia, then his quarters.

As this is going on, Jia Yun was after a job from Jia Lian, he conveying an opening when the planting was to be started, then going to his uncle, Bu Shi-ren for a loan of goods, but he hard up not only for the products, but the money from someone else already being owed. Jia Yun puts perspective to his Uncle’s words, noting he could be more trouble, his Uncle mentioning Jia Yun’s other cousin whom had gotten the priests and nuns position (to transport them to different temples), Jia Yun having enough of hearing about why he couldn’t acquire a job like him was ready to leave when his Uncle offered he stay for dinner, but declines. As he’s walking away moodily,he walks into a drunk man, whom turns out being his neighbor, Ni Er, a dirty businessman, he about to knock his clock off until realizing who him was, then telling he’d help him out if need be, Jia Yun accepting if only to keep the man friendly. They part ways after he’s given a message to pass to his wife.

Jia Yun begins his plan the next morning, back to the Rong-guo House and sees Xi-feng, he giving her his purchase of oil scents, pleasing her with his surprise, but not getting anymore information about a job, he remembering his invitation from Bao-yu, and the boy’s pages leaving him to wait, Jia Yun hearing a girl from outside, and Tealeaf returning by then and having her take a message to Bao-yu, Jia Yun fascinated by the maid and taking her advice to return next day. He again speaks with Xi-feng, she having learned his reasoning for his gift, she playing hard to get, but he making clear he’d take whatever she could give, they scheduling a meeting so he could start. After recieving payment, he gives Ni Er his money back, then goes to buy the trees after sharing the news with his mother.

As for Bao-yu, it’s clarified he’d invited Jia Yun flippantly, and so had been away a couple days with the Prince of Beijing, and then returning to note his maids were detained someway or another and when he called, turned away the older maids who answered. A young lady, then comes in to pour his for him, she able to relay Jia Yun having come by, Ripple and Emerald then return and confront Crimson outside, she explaining her presence and Ripple insulting her, they interrupted by an old lady delivering the information about how they conducted themselves when the trees were planted the next day. Crimson soon realizes she had more information then the two bitches. She had been resident in the House of Green Delights before Bao-yu and girls had moved, she retreats to her room, then hears her name being called, discovering it was Jia Yun, and when he attempts to pull her closer, she falls in her attempt to run off. She awakes realizing she’d dreamt it, beginning her chores when dawn comes.

Bao-yu had been thinking of Crimson and wanted to invite her to become a closer attendant, but doesn’t get a chance before his washing. Then, Aroma speaks with Crimson to have her borrow a spittoon from the Naiad’s House, Crimson seeing the tree workers with Jia Yun, but not up to speaking with him, feeling sorry for herself, and instead lies down after she completes her mission. The following day brought Wang Zi-teng’s “lady”‘s birthday, Lady Wang wishing to go, but not since Grandmother Jia wasn’t up for it, but Aunt Xue, Xi-feng, Bao-chai, Bao-yu, and a few other girls accepted the invitation. Jia Huan had returned from school recently and was getting to work on some copying, delegating tasks as he did, Sunset decided to advise him to speak more kindly, since the other maids thought he was a schmuck, he not taking her helpful criticism well, but being interrupted by Bao-yu’s return, his mother suggesting he rest for awhile, since he’d been drinking. So, whilst he lay, Sunset massaged his legs, but not giving her undivided attention, she warning he’d tell on him, since he’d captured her hand, Jia Huan, Sunset’s master, deciding to punish him anyways, dropping a candle brimming with melted wax on his face, Lady Wang and Xi-feng both talking harshly about Jia Huan’s thick-motioned ways, then Lady Wang turning to Jia Huan’s mother, Aunt Zhao (Why must there be a Zhou and Zhao?!), she taking the put-downs and making certain she was seen helping Bao-yu.

Lady Wang knew she’d be hearing about this from Grandmother Jia, and begins applying lotion on her son, Bao-yu. He was prepared to take the blame, but Xi-feng knew there’d be hell, regardless. Bao-yu was returned to his room, Dai-yu visiting once learning of what happened, and he expected to see Grandmother Jia the next day, she blaming his care-takers. Bao-yu’s “Wise Woman”, Mother Ma also visited and did her magic lady words to make certain he healed properly, Grandmother Jia also learning of an incense-related ritual to keep him safe. Mother Ma explains how her other customers would purchase various amounts of oil to keep a light burning of which she herself would upkeep at her home (Bloo), Grandmother Jia considering carefully, so Mother Ma presents a suitable possibility for her in the case of Bao-yu, which she agrees, also making certain his attendants had extra cash for giving to good karmic charitable cases, like monks or various poor they meet on their way with Bao-yu.

After, Mother Ma visits Aunt Zhao for some silk and discusses Jia Huan and her contribution for him, she sharing her frustration about how Bao-yu would always overshadow him, even whilst understanding the reason. Mother Ma then deduces Aunt Zhao’s true problem being with Mrs. Lian, Aunt Zhao checking to be certain there weren’t any prying ears before agreeing and feeling she had to put up with the woman’s will. Mother Ma sees the potential for more money and plays hard-to-get when Aunt Zhao shows interest in the idea of investing in an underhanded way of dealing with the woman whom seemed to be in line to claiming all property and goods leftover in the Jia name, Mother Ma taking her more seriously when Aunt Zhao brings her attention to how she’d be able to name her price if her idea worked.

So, Aunt Zhao bargains with her by giving her a bundle of goods and a little extra cash, as well as an IOU, Mother Ma giving her paper cut-outs of people and demons, she explaining how to use them and placement of them under the targets beds, she then leaving after being summoned by Lady Wang. Meanwhile, Bao-yu had become a homebody since his burn, so Dai-yu would chat with him most of the time in his room, and one day, after getting bored of reading and sewing, walked to Bao-yu’s and found Li Wan, Xi-feng, and Bao-chai having a blast, Xi-feng inquiring about the tea she’d sent her, Bao-yu piping in with his opinion of them being nasty flavored. When Dai-yu states the opposite, Xi-feng gifts her the rest of her supply and would have someone speak of a favor she had in mind for her upon its delivery.

Dai-yu remarks how the gift seemed to be attached to strings and Xi-feng retorts with a phrase which alluded to she being a bride which would attach her to the family, this embarrassing her and she stating how it wasn’t funny, Xi-feng not resisting her jabs and speaks of Bao-yu and she, which had her running out, Bao-chai going after her as Aunts Zhou and Zhao enter, Xi-feng and Dai-yu actively not conversing with them. Then a summons is given for the younger ladies to visit Wang Zi-teng’s wife, so Li Wan and Xi-feng leave, as well as the Z’s, Bao-yu calling for Dai-yu, whom hadn’t gotten very far outside. When she returns, he holds her hand and only smiles at her, making her self-conscious, then he complains of his head before having a fit and scaring the maids and herself, he attempting suicide multiple times before Lady Wang and Grandmother Jia arrive, they soon distraught, many other family members hearing and milling about in bewilderment outside. Xi-feng’s reaction was to start gutting dogs and chickens with a knife and was looking at the crowd with blood-lust until some servants overpowered her and put her in her quarters. Many began suggesting what should be done metaphysically and otherwise, and by sunset Zi-teng’s lady leaves for home and visits again to ask after everyone the following day. Others visited with well-wishing and help from doctors, and the family had resorted to moving “the cousins” into Lady Wang’s room, Jia Yun and pages tasked with watching them at night due to their conditions still on the raving side.

The search for a cure continues and the fourth day Bao-yu requests Grandmother Jia to prepare his belongings and himself to be expelled from the family, Aunt Zhao gleeful, but acting sad, she attempting to convince Grandmother Jia to bide his words so he could die peacefully, her response being to hock a loogie in her face. She berates her and declares she wouldn’t gain anything from his death, along with anyone else, a servant then informing of the coffins having been finished, this putting Grandmother Jia over the edge and ordering the wood-smith to be whipped to death, and then hearing a chanting monk outside. Upon seeing him and his companion, they being a scraggly sight, they are invited in, the monk requesting to pray over Bao-yu’s jade to aid its ability to ward off the evil. When the monk holds it, he speaks familiarly to it of the time they’d met 13 years before on Green-sickness Peak, and once finishing his prayers, instructs Jia Zheng where to place it and the cousins recovery to be expected in 33 days. The two then leave before he could offer sustenance, and his instructions are followed diligently, Bao-yu and cousin regaining sanity and appetite by evening, Dai-yu relieved along with the others.

When Bao-yu’s month of rest is up, his face has healed, as well. This time also allows Jia Yun and Crimson to be around each other more, she noticing, but not remarking on the handkerchief he carried looking like her missing one. Later, a young maid, Melilot comes to her for the favor of looking after some money for her, she advising Crimson to go home and see a doctor, Crimson acting emo and declaring she would be better to die, Melilot warning her to not speak in such a way. They are interrupted by a quite young maid giving Crimson the task of copying patters for Mackerel, but she needing to retrieve a tool from Oriole and meeting Grannie Li, whom had told Jia Yun Bao-yu wished to see him.

Crimson loiters and soon the two eye each other as she speaks with his guide, Trinket. Jia Yun and she continue to Bao-yu’s, he impressed with his uncle’s home. Bao-yu asks after him when he invites him in his bedroom to sit, Bao-yu remarking how long it’d taken for him to remember his long ago invitation, but Jia Yun only glad he’d recovered. Bao-yu makes idle chat and when Jia Yun notes he was growing tired, decides to take his leave, Bao-yu wishing he return sometime. On his way back, Jia Yun asks Trinket a variety of questions about herself and the other maids, soon landing on the handkerchief, she mentioning how Crimson had even offered her a reward if found. Jia Yun had a plan for the item and gives Trinket a different hankie, he having her promise to let him know what she did.

Meanwhile, Bao-yu was being awoken by Aroma to go have a walk, he reluctantly relenting, soon running into Jia Lan, whom was after some deer to shoot with bow, and after allowing the young boy to continue, headed unconsciously to  Naiad’s House. As he approaches closer to the window, he hears a quote from a book he knew, Dai-yu speaking, and when he enters and startles her, she denies having said anything, she dismissing her “guardians of morality”, Bao-yu quoting a line, himself and upsetting her, she walking out and he following in distress, but they being interrupted by Tealeaf with a summons from his father, and so Bao-yu rushes off and is led outside the gate, where he’s met by Xue Pan, he laughing and apologizing, and Bao-yu taking his jest lightly, but readying to return the favor.

Xue Pan then gets to his point, which was in celebration of his birthday next month, some buddies had put together a feast and he wished Bao-yu to join them, the with a singer already in attendance. When they sit, Xue Pan brings up how Bao-yu could draw him something for his birthday present, he seeing some good erotic ones recently. Then another buddy comes in, Feng Zi-ying, Xue Pan asking after his family and how his black eye had come from a hawk’s wing during a hunting trip with his pops. As he finishes with it being good fortune he’d gone rather than stayed home in comfort, he attempts to bow out, but the group refuses him, wanting more deets, he playing at being annoyed, but after agreeing as long as they supplied him with a couple decent-sized drinks, he still keeps his news to himself, but hits it would be shared at a get-together of his own in under two weeks, he then driving his horse away (yes, drive).

The group sticks around for awhile longer and when Bao-yu returns to a worried Aroma and clarifies what had become of him, due to his toasty state, she was a bit perplexed he hadn’t at lease sent word, but Feng Zi-ying was a distracting fellow. Bao-chai joins them, she relating how she’d refused the invitation, taking her tea and speaking of unimportant topics. Before Bao-chai had dropped by, Dai-yu had also planned to visit Bao-yu once learning he’d returned, she even seeing Bao-chai ahead of her, but distracted herself with some beautiful fish, so when she did finally get to his home, she had to knock to be let in the gate. Unfortunately for her, Skybright was in a bad mood and not recognizing her voice, turns her away, Dai-yu debating what to do and feeling bad for herself, she then hearing Bao-yu and Bao-chai inside, her mind going to even further paranoia of what reason could make Bao-yu turn her away, she becoming distraught and sits under a tree, someone eventually exiting from the house, but only to be known upon continuation of the second volume.

I’m hooked, I’ll be quite happy to continue. In the Appendix we learn who Bao-yu had seen the fates for in the fairy’s library, beginning with Skybright’s terrible fate by slanderers. Aroma does marry, Caltrop/Ying-lian is murdered by Xue Pan’s horrible wife, Xin Jin-gui. As for Bao-chai and Dai-yu, they are represented as two halves of a perfect woman and the meaning behind their songs are up for debate as to whether the first or second refer to one or the other, or the first two both, or the first and second about Bao-yu. There are other characters explained, but I’ll only list those I remember, the last being Xi-feng, whom will have an unfulfilled life which may end in divorce.

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The Fallacy of Success

This piece dives right into it’s subject which is plainly stated in the title, Chesterton makes certain to give examples to other genres before seriously laying into the matter of point, but once doing so, doesn’t let up, giving specific reasons to support his side throughout the article.

Chesterton starts by describing different sides of the spectrum of the genre of focus, then lands on chivalry and religion at least being about their respective subjects whilst the genre of success is about “nothing”. He continues by relating these texts claim to tell of how men can succeed in anything, but the writers themselves not even being able to succeed in doing their job of writing about the subject correctly. Chesterton states the idea of success doesn’t exist, but then allows this is because success is in anything if one looks at the available examples given: “Any live man has succeeded in living; any dead man may have succeeded in committing suicide.” , as well as listing a couple others. He goes on to explain how writers of success try to convince those who read their subject matter can be helped to succeed in their specific area of need, but how if it were any other person writing about a distinct subject and didn’t actually deliver in seeming to know about what they were writing of, the piece would certainly not be published.

Chesterton reiterates his argument of people who write of success and those who’ve obtained it don’t have the knowledge of why this is so. He then informs of two ways one is successful, one of which most (hopefully) would rather choose, but some would be satisfied with the underhanded way of procuring the desired gem. We learn by Chesterton’s deductions of how one would usually try to go about learning a specific subject, those including the seeker being a natural, a cheat or acquiring books on the various subjects relating to the talent wanted, but the idea of going straight for a book on success due to the general statements within such a text shouldn’t be at the forefront of one’s mind.

We get another couple of examples of how a book on success would go about giving “advice” on how to attain triumph over one’s various endeavors, but how empty they would seem since it would lack detailed strategies about how one could potentially go about this. Chesterton then shares an article title of success about Lord Rothschild which he found odd and entertaining going on to add some article excerpts after, including a description of Vanderbilt’s background, he having been a millionaire and his successes, this obvious selection was given due to its sober evaluation of how whilst one couldn’t necessarily find success the same way, it gave the optimism it was still possible for others, Chesterton listing this article as, “…the horrible mysticism of money.” He perceives the author was in awe of Vanderbilt’s ability to have been given such success, but was only giving a fanboy list of Vanderbilt’s achievements rather than truly knowing how he’d become one of the few and the sparkling and celebrating Vanderbilt’s mysterious wealth.

Chesterton then debunks another statement by the same author which brings to light his careful cover up of facts to support his theory on those who were able to succeed, showing some mentioned, didn’t stay successful. Chesterton then admits how whilst he’d read about the figures mentioned and knowing he might not be able to fall into success easily, he admitted to also having not tried, preferring to focus on other more attainable pleasures. He begins to wind down with statements of how he doesn’t deny others’ successes, but had felt they may have been keeping something hidden and hoping people would soon come to disdain these success books as they should (which people still struggle with today, obviously) since all it seems to do is educate people on how to be conceited and give a false sense of experience. Chesterton ends with how some qualities should be preferred over the ones made to seem important, for instance the want of doing good work for not the possibility of becoming rich, but for being good at one’s job, he ending with the question of what could happen to those who are encouraged to attain greatness through their indecency rather than morality.

I quite enjoyed Chesterton’s flow and giving entertaining examples as to the absurdity of what authors of success books try to do with their “work”. There didn’t seem to be any arguments on the subject since I can relate to his viewpoint on success or D.I.Y. books. Chesterton set out to describe the lack of facts to back up what success writers publish, and I believe he succeeded (gold star, Chesterton, already ahead of the game). He sets out his arguments with viable representations of the facts and regardless of how long ago it was written, it still holds up even by today’s standards. Whilst this is just one article from a collection, I may some day decide to read the rest, but for now I’ll be glad to continue my reading of him with Father Brown.

The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music

A touching story about a homeless man with schizophrenia and a journalist in L.A. I liked most of the book and I loved how most of the story reflected what they put in the movie. I saw the movie first, the story being sad, of course, but the book was better; which is how it normally is. What I didn’t like was how they don’t really give too much information about what happens to Nathaniel at the end, or where he is now and if he’s still trying to get help. Other than that it gives an inside look of what Nathaniel’s background was and what Steve Lopez wanted to pursue, career-wise and a bit more on his family, also adding how he’s tried to keep in touch with Nathaniel and his sister.

America (The Book) & I Am America (And So Can You!)

Preface to my short blurb review: I read this well before The People’s History of the United States, and this book is meant to be a humorous overview of what every American typically knows of history and politics, so I’m still glad I read this and would still read more from Stewart in the future because of his smart, funny take on politics; same goes for Colbert.

This is very similar to a history textbook, with a subtle side of The Daily Show humor. Entertaining, but definitely not meant to be read in one sitting. Enjoyable way to read about American history.

When I started this book, I thought, ‘I like Colbert, I’m going to try it.’ At first it was kind of slow going, but once I got a few pages in, I started to understand the humor. There are so many side notes that I found it hard to want to read all of it, but once I got past the thought, I realized how funny this book was. He also talks about his personal life along with childhood pictures and more of the like, but not enough to digress from his main point. I’m looking forward to reading more of Colbert and Stewart if more becomes available.

A People’s History of the United States

It starts with the Indians greeting Columbus, who takes some prisoner in order for them to show him where gold could be found. After being given a golden mask, they begin dreaming of even more riches. If I had learned about the Indian captives taken aboard the Nina and Pinta, perhaps I would have found more reason to have history stick, due to its depravity. Columbus made up part of his findings by this point, saying he’s “found” Asia (Cuba), basically making him sound like a desperate fool trying to convince his “buddies” back home he’s found a mecca of rivers with gold. It makes me imagine Charlie from Always Sunny In Philadelphia. The Indians begin learning the true intent of Columbus’ crew and retaliate en-force. Since Columbus’ promise of gold fell through, they dedicated their time to gathering more slaves to be sold in Spain. Due to Columbus’ lies, he had to become what we would consider a mob boss and began giving tokens to the Indians who found gold and those who didn’t, lost a limb and were left to bleed to death; hardcore dealings. They began committing mass suicide and taking out their infants to keep them out of the Spaniard’s hands; It only becomes more gruesome from here.

We also get background on the Arawaks and how they were polygamist except without the attachment. They have liaisons as long or short as they wish and women seem to have as much control of the relationship as the men. They also share communally so are unphased by giving personal items to others without a thought since they believe everyone would do the same for them. The Spaniard’s full control became completely cruel to the Indian slaves and is accounted in detail; They were Nazi-nasty cruel. Zinn then cites Las Casas testimony of what other horrible situations happened to the Indians before being wiped out. Quite detestable happenings, only makes my resolve in leaving the country much stronger. We are then shown, even if the numbers were closer to 250 thousand instead of starting at 3 million, end with none, but only before leaving 500? Quite a massacre. So even when we are cited with the detailed biography of Columbus by Morison, he shares the truth of Columbus’ genocide, but does in a way which doesn’t make him seem bad despite of it; pish. Zinn keeps the information simple and adds scope to make sure one grasps the concepts therein. I’m enjoying my second history lesson thus far. Zinn explains why historians don’t focus on the genocidal tendencies of our history, which is pretty logical. I also like how he gives a smattering of references throughout and the view of a community coming together peacefully is a myth and well-preserved. It’s interesting how my view has widened, I didn’t make an assumption of what is covered here, so it’s a bit easy-going into this and being able to let it broaden what little was already there from years ago. Then Zinn extends the fig leaf of knowledge informing outrightly what he’s covering and from what view. Zinn gives pretty sound advice with his declaring of this side of history, as well. He admits, regardless of what view is being presented, they’re both limited in standpoint. The executioners were also victims and the cycle continues, as do the victims themselves, but the executioners being victims doesn’t apply for America apparently: We came from the starting line of bullies as it turns out.

It moves on to the Aztecs and Cortes comparing what Columbus did with Cortes and Mexico. The Spaniards massacre the natives and take what they want and leave. We weave our way through the time comparing massacred native stories by different men for different and sometimes trivial reasons. One story involved a man trying to make a settlement in VA where he sacked and burned the Indian village when a silver cup was stolen. Then a governor runs into a chief in Jamestown, Powhatan and when some Englishman go to the Indians when they’re starving in the winter and the governor requests their return, he sees the chief’s response as arrogant and so sends a soldier to exact revenge by destroying the village and killing a multitude and kidnapping the chief’s wife and children, putting them in boats, then throwing the children overboard with great detail on how brutally they were shot. Over a decade later more of the Indians fought back, killing over 300 Englishman, women and children, starting a war. The English don’t go down easily either, they play at raising a white flag and kill the Indians when they let their guard down and kill them and their crops right when they’re ready for harvest, avenging the deaths of the 300 many times over, due to this plan working over 2 years. Powhatan gives a speech which has a part asking, “Why will you take by force what you have quietly by love?” He goes on to berate them with logic which is of course ignored. Then we start on the Pilgrims. Winthrop decides the Indians may have a “natural right” to the land, but not a “civil” one, which doesn’t make their claim legal and is considered acceptable to bully from them. They lie in wait making nice until an Indian criminal acts out and they use it to start a war and steal their land; We get more terrible comparisons which follow. Whilst the English won these wars, the Indians learn how the English were petty in warfare. Then I come across a passage reminding me of people I know personally, which is why I’m so good at staving them off; Years of practice doesn’t hurt. “They were clearly the aggressors, but claimed they attacked for preventive purposes…’All men of conscience or prudence ply to windward, to maintain their wars to be defensive.'” Hopefully my awareness and ability to smack down those who attack, as such, with my words will soon be noticed so I can put them behind me without them following like blood suckers.

Metacom, also known as King Philip, didn’t go down without taking down a significant number of Englishmen and when they killed him, the attacks by natives continued giving as good as they got. Unfortunately the English literally plagued the natives to death with disease and other tactics of war which dwindled their numbers from 10 million to under a million after Columbus’ arrival. Other islands had similar results of the natives being slaughtered due to inexperience of men with technology and trusting natures. Zinn rounds off the chapter by giving the opposing view’s side a knock down to size, to cover all bases. He questions whether Morison was correct in focusing the story of genocide in relation to human progress, but once he supports this argument with similar situations involving Stalin’s killing peasants for industrial Soviet Union progress and Truman explaining Hiroshima, I at least still follow the feelings of disgust and indignation, but it’s all to support the idea to have all the knowledge from both sides is more important than having one’s country look better or worse because of who won or has control over the history books. It may have been done for progress, but it shouldn’t be buried and forgotten; Own it, bitches. Also, when those who reaped the spoils of war financed more wars, it ultimately failed and left everyone either better (if one was rich) or worse for the others. We also stay ignorant by keeping the incorrect names for the people who were conquered only because of their loss in the war, but Zinn covers both sides consistently by incessantly asking questions to wonder whether these people deserved to be “brought down” by the leaders of “advanced” societies: It’s looking pretty sordid still. Then we trace the history of the people described as Indians to, perhaps validate Columbus in some way for his arrogant assumption. They were the minds to perfect growing corn and other veggies as well as what many claim for their own people’s: peanuts, chocolate, tobacco, and rubber!

Learning again, but seemingly more about the Hopi and Zuñi tribes, it’s deflating to see how comfortably and cleverly they were living before the arrival of the European explorers. We follow more tribes from the Eastern side of the country, among them including the Iroquois and Mohawks, who’s chief was Hiawatha and again showing how liberal and community-oriented they were. Sharing most everything with each other and living contentedly. They were also opposite in how they regarded women. The man would join the woman’s family and ultimately was decided by the wife when a divorce was wanted. They allowed the men to make decisions for the clan, but would veto the men out of office if they strayed too far from the women’s views for the betterment of the clans. Since the women were in charge of everything in the villages and worked closer to them, they were in charge of everything to do with them, whilst the men hunted. Also due to their manufacturing of war moccasins they had a bit of control over military matters. They taught the children their heritage of the tribe and independence and not to bend to overbearing authority (imagine where other cultures would be if they followed those values rather than picking and choosing which arrogant ignorance’s to value?) Iroquois also let the children decide when to potty train and being weaned (an interesting concept). Another interesting tactic (especially when considering this specific upbringing), if someone acted in an untoward fashion in war, they would be ostracized until the people decided he properly atoned for his action and had “morally purified himself.” When the Europeans tried to impose their own ways on the Iroquois, they responded how anyone would: You’re in my land, my rules, as it should have been. Before the Europeans stepped in, the Iroquois seemed to have an extremely idyllic lifestyle which would be nearly impossible to find today, (I’d like to be proved wrong). The Iroquois also were tentatively aware of their psychological health in their people and tried to aid in those developments. It makes one wonder why we don’t hear about more about those who were wiped out other than to hide how we may have mucked up our chances to learn from people who lived in a society which is what their “betters” were striving for.

The next chapter starts us on the African slave trade. Zinn poses the question of whether racism between blacks and whites will ever truly end: Ha, ha. There was a thought the first black slaves were supposed to be looked upon like those from Europe: “indentured servants”, but of course weren’t treated the same due to their trusting and native culture. To give us an idea of what the white settlers were dealing with in Jamestown, we learn of the starvation which lead to cannibalism. The colonists continued to suffer issues with the Indians defiance and resourcefulness due to the Englishmen not having the numbers to overpower them. The men who had decided to come weren’t necessarily all peasants needing to offer their services as servants, but some being skilled and those well off, not wanting to get their hands dirty and being forced to work by John Smith in the fields for necessity. The Indians meanwhile, didn’t need to put forth as much effort, since they knew the land and lived from it properly, making the settlers feel like fools. Then as people started joining the Indians, the jealousy became too much and so killing the Indians made the settlers feel superior and even killed those “traitors” who joined them, although none of this helped the settlers grow crops any more easily. Bringing in black slaves was, supposedly, the “answer”, but it wasn’t legalized for many decades.

The slaves from Africa and the Caribbean were first brought to the Portuguese and Spanish colonies by 1619, fifty years before Columbus; ten black slaves were brought by the Portuguese to Lisbon. So it had already been established for 100 years  which  black  people could be used as slaves. Sadly, their helplessness made their position as slaves easier for them to accept. They were put in a situation where they had no one of the same language, culture, or family to make them feel like they belonged there, of course besides the reason for their being there in the first place. Everything they knew was obliterated other than what they could hold onto by sheer willful tenacity, there being some aspects the Westerners couldn’t overcome by the Africans. They had military capabilities beyond them and would set up on the coast, but couldn’t penetrate the interior land, needing to make deals with the chiefs. African civilization is said to have been as advanced as Europe. The one downside for them was how easily swayed they were to sacrificing their own human lives for religion and or profit. It was a civilization of 100 million people skilled in farming with the use of iron contrivances. They also were skilled in weaving, ceramics and sculpture. There are also reports of even more “civilized”, from a European standpoint, living in 1602 in Benin, a West African kingdom. In 1680, there are more reports of how generous and friendly they are towards visitors.

The African way of punishing crimes which would be taken much more seriously elsewhere, were dealt with in fines or various degrees of servitude. They had more civility than Europe did at the time, which dealt with the same crimes by death. Also, whilst Africa had slaves of their own as well, it was more of a serf situation, but it was still used to justify Europe’s more aggressive slave trade. In African slave situations, most of them began to have more rights and inter-marry with the owner’s family, owning land, inter-merging with the culture, which if it was acceptable to the serf-like slave, I suppose isn’t too terrible to what happened in America at the time. Granted, African slavery wasn’t anything to be proud of either, but America took the whole lit-frosting cake with the terrible reign of hatred slavery brought. Since the blacks being brought into slavery were more impressionable and were being approached by their own people who were making a profit and being torn from their communal living, made it more difficult for them to fight back. They hadn’t the tools to understand this underhanded approach and were being thrust into a singular way of life. They were “smart” about capturing blacks of different tribes mostly who spoke different languages making camaraderie and trust improbable. The process of eliminating the weak was brutal as well. Amistad gave a taste of this line of history, as well as Roots, of course, but to read it in this detail is incomparable. First the Dutch, then the English dominated slave-trade. By 1800 10-15 million slaves were transported to America and Africa lost roughly 50 million to death and slavery in what was popularly called the beginning of modern Western civilization.

So due to the inability to get Indians or the settler to work the difficult land the availability of blacks who had been through the worst traumatic test of survival were easily used as slaves. Although it was the start and seemed controlled by the owner, those who had slaves who ran off or co-mingled were dealt with in a way to sway how they handled the slaves, making it methodically cruel regardless of what one would hope could be an escape-able life. Then there’s also the predisposition at the time of the color black being negatively defined and seen in a terrible light whereas white being described alongside beauty, etc. Also blacks and whites who were slaves and servants of America weren’t necessarily seeing each other as threats, obviously since laws began being passed against fraternization between them. Then punishment of the white servants was usually given by adding years of servitude to their sentence, drawing the line between races more still. Blacks may have been easier to enslave than Indians or whites, but not necessarily easy in itself. From the beginning they resisted enslavement (Ok? I understand the people weren’t pushovers, hell anyone who reads this book should be able to deduce the same!) through mutilation and death throughout the 200 years of slavery African-Americans rebelled. More often than not, they would try to escape, even more common was sabotage and other tactics which might be part of the stereotype of certain races being known as lazy, but only to assert they are human!

Some blacks were so desperate to escape from slavery they would jump ship to drown rather than suffer the sardine conditions aboard the ship, but those who stuck to communal lifestyle would run away in groups and try to live in the wilderness whilst those born into slavery would runaway singly and try to pass off as free men later. Once realizing their tactics, the Americans tried to adapt accordingly. Slave owners began realizing owning slaves and “breaking them” in was not easy and they usually not being “tame-able” until the slave was too old to be as willful. Later, as slavery became legalized, slaves consistently rebelled and drove owners to paranoia of the capacity of their capabilities, rightly. They fought back in groups, but would be defeated eventually due to their numbers not being large enough. There was even a time before racism firmly took hold which whites indentured servants teamed up with slaves due to being treated as badly as slaves and banded together due to the shared predicament. Since the owners saw the potential in winning their favors through offering previously withheld benefits, they began to do so to make it seem they were on their side and attentive towards their interests and well being. There was also an intricate design to keep blacks and poor whites apart, since whites clamored for whatever amount of higher status they could get and the upper class fearing rebellion and needing to control them as well as they could; They certainly did their job well.

The 3rd chapter begins with Bacon’s Rebellion and how to deal with the Indians, which Bacon had blatant enthusiasm in killing. He also came from high class, being more interested in the sport than helping the poor. When elected to the House of Burgesses only to organize armed groups to dispose of Indians, Governor Berkeley believed his to be a “rebel” and had him detained until 2,000 Virginians marched in his support, which Berkeley let Bacon go, only for he to continue on trying to “raid” Indians. He seemed to detest any kind of Indians and also accused Berkeley’s administration for favoritism to positions, not protecting farmers from Indians and giving him one more reason to attack and kill friendly Indians nearby. Bacon soon died from an assortment of bacterium. After his death, the rebellion soon lost steam. In the 1600’s-1700’s, people who were considered beggars would be exiled or put into workhouses. Those forced into exile to different countries had some hellish conditions to live through, including starvation leading to cannibalism and descriptive illness of all sorts. Through the 1600’s, detestable conditions and treatment of servants continued which left the masters invariably paranoid of rebellion. It seems due to the hardship of success and becoming a servant for need of employment gave the rich more reason to believe they were being wronged by the uprising, discontented servants. There was also mass desertion by white servants, so documentation was needed to prove one’s freedom and escape to another state wouldn’t help much since they would be extradited back. More than ½ the colonists in the colonial period were servants.

Mostly English in the 17th century, Irish and German in the 18th and as late as 1755, white servants made up 10% of Maryland. Whilst some indentured servants became successes after their allotted time, few of them were lucky enough to be among them. Those which were forced into labor, usually 1 in 10 would become “decently prosperous” and 80% were “hopeless, ruined individuals” becoming “poor whites”. Also, 17th century’s first group of servants in Maryland became more of a success than the latter half of the century, staying landless. Due to the amount of poor by the 1730s New York, a poor/work house was constructed. Although, some white workers who weren’t bound to servility, were still being mistreated, some having their wages withheld and would turn on the employer and essentially go on strike, but this being before there were unions, the workers were prosecuted for not doing their jobs, regardless of the “binding of their hand” which were the government fees they were charged. There are many stories confirming the greed of merchant dealers, as well. Also, there was a sense of discrimination from the employers by their employees which was noticed and soon being tried to extinguish them from their lofty positions. After one hundred years of discontent between the poor and rich, the gap between them, filled by the threat and doing of violence continued to escalate and needing to be gotten under control.

One fact also stayed the same, Indians were still impossible to enslave and when coupled with whites, not deciding to join the “advanced society”, but when the opportunity for whites to live among the Indians arose, they usually preferred to stay among them (Interesting, en’t it?). Which was soon dealt with by keeping the Indians isolated from poor whites, forcing the “pioneers” to move to the frontier, making them more dependent on the government and making the whites turn on the Indians, thus protecting the “security of the elite”; (crafty English/American bastards). Blacks and Indians had an even lesser chance of teaming up. Only in the Carolinas in the 1750s had they the chance to turn the tables for their numbers, but plans to divide and keep them in check through policies were made, making it so free blacks would be banned from stepping foot in Indian country and if fugitive slaves were to flee to Indian territory, policies were made to “require” them to return them, making it easier for blacks to have an aversion toward the Indians and whilst it did keep the fraternization to a minimum, there were some tribes who would still harbor and integrate black slaves into their communities. To help prohibit the same type of fraternization between black and white servants, it became a numbers game, making it so only 1 white to 6 blacks, to keep the black slaves in line. Racism was coaxed into existence more easily with how whites were given certain rights upon release which blacks were not making “class scorn” and white over black status more obvious and “racial contempt” another way to control the mixing between races (Jeez, how would all them black-haters explain this away? I’m referring to any which don’t rely on uniformed ignorance, if such a person exists). Another “handy control” of keeping the “little people” down was “profiling.

The 4th chapter begins with a summarizing of the 7 Years War, The Stamp Act and Boston’s discontent with the rich, which soon covered The Regulators. Then we get details about the Boston Massacre and once the English saw they had done enough damage, withdrew to settle the people down. Also a source for argument of The Stamp Act, Boston Massacre and the Tea Party is given as well as questions of disobeying the law, government loyalty and rights and obligations. It goes on to cover bits of the Declaration, in particular the bit about being harassed by “Indian Savages” and although Jefferson wrote of his “moral indignation” of slavery this was coming from a man who owned loads until his death, but had the hope of its abolishment and his mentioning of it was taken out of the Declaration, in the end; We also learn who read it after its completion.

The 5th chapter begins with Bunker Hill and a soldier being interviewed of the reason for his service and then heroic doings by William Scott. We move to George Washington and his way of handling a war where black slaves wanted to fight and Washington declining, but the British opposition commander offering freedom to those who fight for him in Virginia. It goes on to describe Indians fighting for their land and fighting on the side of the French, who were also fighting against the British. Then a successful attempt at biological warfare against the Indians is implemented. To those who did fight for the British, thousands were given freedom and chose either to leave on British ships to go to England, Nova Scotia, The West Indies or Africa, but many decided to stay in America, (land of opportunity). In Boston, blacks were trying to get something like welfare like the whites, to educate their children. Charles Beard, an author, realized the makers of the Constitution had a bit of economic interest in founding a federal government. Four groups were excluded from the Constitution: slaves, indentured servants, women and non-land owning men and didn’t reflect the interests of those people. It goes on to explain how the Constitution serves the interests mostly to the wealthy elite, enough to the small property owners to build a base support and they are buffers to the minorities and poor whites, making it easy for the “elite” to stay in control with the least effort, maximum law and made easy to accept with the bonding of patriotism and unity of the people (sounds about right). So by the end of the chapter we learn the Founding Fathers were protecting the rights of mostly the rich, keeping the status quo as it was, a balance of the dominant class, they not wanting equal rights between slaves and masters, property-less and property holders, Indian or whites. Half the people weren’t even considered by the Founding Fathers, specifically speaking, women making up half.

The next chapter starts where we leave off at the last chapter’s end. We’re first told of America and those other societies which oppressed women or saw them as a part of their property, then skip back to tribes who had greater respect, not necessarily not oppressive, but held more positions of authority and were valued more as equals than what women have tried to fight to regain. When girls came to America to be indentured servants they weren’t treated properly either and so from the master’s point of view, they were lazy, stupid, and or malevolent, (no wonder there are stereotypes for any race, as long as one’s a part of the working class). We are also given firsthand accounts, through letters to loved ones of the conditions for indentured servants and slaves alike. After, information of the surviving women who made passage on the Mayflower is given. So this nonsense of men being power-holders or “wearing the pants” came from English marriage indoctrinated religion. It’s not Christian, it’s ignorant teachings brought to the “New World” didn’t die on the ride here. There is also one of the longest dialogues in the book thus far from a woman who has more than a few children out-of-wedlock and fined for each of them. Also due to the severe lack of compromise of religion and the writings published to support the narrow-minded view made it more acceptable to follow these ideas as facts to be made rules and law of marriage. Anne Hutchinson, known for her outspokenness on religious matters is covered and a “coffee party”, the counterpart to Boston Tea Party is mentioned by letter from a woman to her husband. We are also given names of women who helped in the American Revolution who were portrayed as whores whilst women who had a less direct hand in it, like Martha Washington, were more revered (I remember being unimpressed learning about her in school, though the educators tried to make it seem highly important). Although due to the low volume of women on the frontier, they were more valued and like Indian society, had positions of power, at least enough to exert some standing.

Wages of women factory workers come next and literacy of women, since it’s not attended to, or thought important to educate women and became a personal goal to those as primary school teachers between the years 1780-1840. Two power-house sisters, Angelina and Sarah Grimke’ who spoke and wrote for equality for their gender in the 1830s made this chapter gripping. The next one focuses on the “Indian Removal” to make way for white society. This history is also taking away the idea presidents were ever noble, like Washington and Andrew Jackson. Jackson seemed manipulative with his ways of handling the Indians. If it wasn’t by killing, he accepted their help to defeat others, then get them to take part in capitalizing off their own land, becoming a part of “society”. Also the “Florida Purchase” was much more violent than it’s title allows. Jackson burned his way through villages until convincing Spain to sell. As the Indians were overcome and slowly pushed out, leaving them with the “option” to accept compensation for the land being occupied by settlers or staying, but being forced to abide by the American laws, made it impossible for them to continue to live as they did. Any American who tried to defend the Indians right to stay on their land was arrested regardless of being unconstitutional. Indian removal certainly was ruthless, but how else is one supposed to believe a nation was handed over, with no casualties?

Walt Whitman is quoted in the Brooklyn Eagle near the beginning of the American Revolution. Henry David Thoreau is also mentioned when he was put in jail (which I don’t remember hearing anywhere), for not paying a poll tax, which was paid by his friends against his consent, because he opposed the Mexican war and his stay in jail ended up being quite short. After, Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted with a question to Thoreau whilst during his stay in jail. Frederick Douglass is quoted after, continuing on the topic of why going to war with Mexico was supported if not created by reporters to get people to be in line with the popular demand. From there we’re given opinions of the people against the war, increasing because of news supporting it, it seems and how the foreign-born living in the States increased by 10% after the war began. There’s a quote from a “free-thinker” about the war as well, which I’ll leave out so as not to make this longer than necessary. Men were being “persuaded” to join by getting drunk and made to sign the enrollment paper as well as being outright lied to so as to have as many “volunteers” as possible. There was much dissatisfaction from recruits, which today is widely accepted as a part of serving. Graphic war depiction is given after. Then we get quotes about Canada’s take-over by America and the threats to the Indians on the requirements on being allowed to stay, quoted by naval officer Revere. After short blurbs of New Mexico’s rebellion and of Los Angeles being reclaimed, we get first hand accounts of soldiers losing their humanity in support of pillaging and raping in Mexico. Once soldiers experienced what a tour in the military in Mexico consisted of, most didn’t reenlist despite offers to “sweeten” their stay. As the trek to overtake Mexico continued, some soldiers’ detestable behavior is given in more detail by their comrades accounts, most of the men fueled by alcohol. Also, because most soldiers resented and disliked being a soldier and on top of which disliked Mexico and its people, made them more susceptible to act out. Half the time the commanding officers were brutal and sadistic toward their men and so if called upon to help alleviate rebellion, no one would aid him, in particular, Col. Paine’s section. The end of the chapter gives the results of Mexico’s surrender.

The chapter after discloses how slavery is ended and why it failed with John Brown’s attempt and also the reason Lincoln succeeded a year later. It goes on to describe how one is supposed to relate to the details of slavery if one wasn’t one, giving statistics and how they sound in different ways. Also, slave revolts tended to occur more and in greater scale outside America, but we’re given an account of possibly the largest one in America happening near New Orleans and the reason for destroying the trial record of Denmark Vesey is also disgustingly detestable. An account of Harriet Tubman soon follows, after. We are also given more reasons why poor whites decided to help slaves and coincidentally, why they’re hired to oversee slaves; Also the details of marriages between slaves with their mutual monogamy and resistance to planned engagements; they also helped each other care for their children, as a community and gave responsibility to the elder children, making rivalry among them uncommon.

We move on to David Walker’s beliefs of slavery and why a high reward was given in the event of his capture. Then we move back to a quote by Frederick Douglass from his autobiography. It goes on to cover the Fugitive Slave Act and a speech is given by J.W. Loguen, half-black and escaping slavery and going to college to become a minister. His story becomes more interesting with the mention of his role in the Underground Railroad, his mistress and response to her blackmailing letter which his returning letter was printed in a newspaper, this all being covered in his memoir. After, Frederick Douglass’ fourth of July address is quoted, which I couldn’t agree more with at this moment; it’s not my fault America has disillusioned me, and since this seems to give logical support to my logically emotional reaction, I can’t help but tip my never-has-been patriotic hat. Then it moves on to covering Secretary of State, Daniel Webster’s quote in response to the recollection of the Revolution and the 1812 war.

By this time black abolitionists used every tactic available to further their cause and comparisons between the white abolitionists and black are given. It’s also covered whilst white abolitionists did “courageous…pioneering work”, black abolitionists were the backbone, understandably and also less publicized. Sojourner Truth is quoted before moving on to W.E.B. Du Bois quotes from his book, John Brown. When going through more quotes of supporters of John Brown and himself, we get to Abraham Lincoln again and more details as to why he succeeded in his end to slavery. He was fluid in his stance, enough to satisfy according to the city and times of election. We also find through corresponding letters between Lincoln and the editor of the NY Tribune, Greeley found Lincoln was hugely on a single-minded path, whether using the Union to be his main and only concern or helping free the slaves, we learn Lincoln pushed for laws to be passed, another main goal seemed to be trying to make every man equal regardless, even if he failed; enlightening.

We then go back to a quote from Du Bois about the Civil War. Many white slave-owners are surprised when some of their slaves run to join “the enemy”. Many people did seem to delude themselves slaves enjoyed their bondage, oddly. Also, after a time and protest made, blacks did eventually get equal pay as white soldiers in the war; not knowing if this meant much. Even when finally being told of their freedom and happiness for which, they still understood there would be hardships in having an acceptable status and possibly having to offer services as a “housekeeper” of sorts. Lincoln, unfortunately didn’t go on to make it any easier for the freed slaves to live, as it goes on to show. Although, upon Lincoln’s assassination, Andrew Johnson did help to reverse the little progress made. We see the rise and fall of power for black independence and equality from 1873-1901.

The next chapter begins with farmers rebelling against the landlord for collecting rent which seemed unfair, joined together and went up against a sheriff and 500 mounted posse far surpassing their numbers to begin the Anti-Renter movement. Landlords believed and assumed the right to take any and all timber from farms and none of the renters believed their conduct acceptable and when they signed an anti-rent bill and it failed to be passed, the war continued. Once two leaders were caught and given the option for lighter sentencing if they wrote letters to have the anti-renters disbanded, “the Law thus crushed the Anti-Rent movement.” They were made to believe voting would be the only acceptable mode of change. It moves into the Jacksonian period soon after and how he was a strikebreaker. Whilst “Jacksonian Democracy” tried to make every one support the system, the usual players were outside the realm of support: women, foreigners, every race besides white, but despite the white working class still felt they were being spurned, as well. We also cover when Irish immigrants were being overshadowed by the plight of blacks at this time. We move on to women textile workers who continually had to strike for the conditions and employers setting their hours back to get more work from them. An 11-year-old girl also gives testimony for the strike she was a part of. Also in Paterson, New Jersey we get a story about children going on strike due to the lunch hour being changed from noon to an hour later, but the threat of bringing in militia got them back to work, although to alleviate any more trouble, it was switched back. The largest strike to occur before the Civil War, happened in Massachusetts by shoemakers. July 1863 brought many black deaths due to white workers having to compete for jobs and a mob at a recruiting office began a three day killing spree; along the lines of 400 people were killed and a graphic description given from an observer.

We move on to how laws protected companies more than the workers around the time of 1860, one being in Massachusetts when 900, mostly women workers are trapped inside a collapsed mill and even with evidence the building couldn’t support the machinery, the jury found no criminal intent. When unions were being formed, most of the time blacks had to form their own, but apparently there were some who were less discriminating, the National Labor Union in an 1869 convention being mentioned. There are also a couple other races who had their own Declaration of Independence, one quoted from by the German Socialists in Chicago. In 1877, due to infested water and the Depression at its depth, the deaths of babies were being expected and numbers given, also the same year strikes by railroad workers in many cities brought the nations attention like no other conflict in labor had in its history. Those sympathizers of the railroad strikers in Baltimore took a more violent way of showing their support, getting the soldiers to react by firing back at them. The results of which had two handfuls of men and boys dead, one soldier wounded and a crowd of 200 smashing the engine of a passenger train, along with tearing up the tracks. Some soldiers sent to alleviate the riots decided to give up the arms due to the deaths of citizens in Pennsylvania. Many people, among them those who realized the hardships of those dealing with the railroad company’s and blacks learning they didn’t have enough to get the promise of equality in the Civil War and working class people realizing they aren’t united enough nor strong enough to overtake private capital and government power.

The next chapter begins with an opening of how different races and sexes of workers were oppressed differently to keep the wealthy safely in power, only making it seem more of a sick social experiment. From there it shows how labor for farming and mills became more efficient by machines and then goes on to mention who offered themselves for labor and the success driven minds to invent the machines to further the manufacturing processes. We also find the useful tactic of the reality of a “rags to riches” story and how common they truly were; most coming from well-off beginnings. One has to sell their soul before walking into the “club”. We learn more of the dirty dealings between those companies who owned railroads and how they plotted to keep their business between themselves and how much they valued human life. They bought as many companies they could and were able to capitalize off the people working for them, paying them barely enough to survive on due to being such deviously shrewd businessmen. We then learn the finer points of the Cleveland Presidency focusing on keeping bondholders happy more than relieving farmers for a drought which left them without seed-grain.

We then delve deeper into the people’s ideas of how becoming rich occurs and a stigma of one man believing it was the poor’s own fault most of the time they couldn’t extricate themselves from their plight. Also, businessmen began buying and giving charity to universities and coining the phrase “philanthropist” for their “kindness”. Covered after is how other nationalities were taken advantage of to work almost as slaves. In 1883 an anarchist manifesto is excerpted basically supporting equal rights without dividing sex or race. It then goes on to a bombing at Haymarket Square in Illinois where 8 anarchists are arrested and sentenced to death. It made a great stir internationally, but all but three were hanged, one taking himself out dramatically whilst being held. After all of this, the bomber is not confirmed and rumors of an undercover cop being the culprit stayed as such. I also realize now, this moment in history was covered in a thoroughly funny Comedy Central show called Drunk History; worth the gander, as well as being a movie called the Chicago 8. After, we follow more strikes and radicals during the Depression years, then go on to talk of the Farmers Alliance. During this time black farmers were also struggling for the same rights and some white farmers did team up and support having black delegates in the state executive committee. By the end of the chapter it’s declared the “supreme act of patriotism” is war, and how two years after McKinley becomes President, war with Spain is declared.

We begin on the profit system and the overseas continents and countries American government forces overtake and protect for their own cause. After which it focuses on the major manufacturing marketed and successfully sold overseas by well-known companies. It goes on to cover the Cuban Revolution in the 1890’s and how Winston Churchill wrote of how it’d be better if Spain kept it’s reign. It goes on to talk of the Lattimer Massacre and soldiers getting food poisoning, not knowing how many of 5000 died because of it. It reports of Cuba and how they saw the Platt Amendment. It seems American government wanted Cubans to give them rights which should be honored to the Cubans themselves above any others. It also reveals the takeover of the Philippines. Mark Twain as well as others comment on the war in the Philippines being a cruel one and helping America become a definitive power monster. Also the way black soldiers were treated during the war whilst they were in the U.S. drove them to egregious behavior in response to the violence and disdain they were looked upon with. By the end of the chapter, it describes how blacks, whites, men and women were plagued with unpatriotic feeling.

The chapter after gives background and an excerpt of a speech by Emma Goldman. Then it moves on to literary authors of the 20th century including Twain and a brief timeline of Jack London. We then move on to Taylorism and are given quotes of the strikes which occurred. Also a fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company is covered which went against certain laws making it so 146 workers were trapped and killed within the building. It goes on to notify of the American Federation of Labor after and how they chose their members, leaving out “unskilled workers”. We then get a background of what the Industrial Workers of the World went through in practicing their right to free speech. Once, in Massachusetts, parents began sending their children to families in New York so they could continue to strike. Lawrence tried to cite a statute preventing anymore children from being sent away, going so far as to post police at the railroad station, and upon trying to board, clubbing and trampling women and children, taking them to military trucks. The strikers held out and negotiations to end the strike began March 1912. Helen Keller is then quoted on her thoughts on the socialist movement and specifically toward Bill Haywood. It goes on to describe the growth of suffrage, which has another quote in response to an editor of the Brooklyn Eagle arguing her socialist stance like a “little bitch”. Keller’s response, printed in another newspaper is quite satisfying. It also gives the start of the NAACP founding and W.E.B. Du Bois’ position in it at the start. We also learn more of the repression of Socialism and the Ludlow Massacre which occurred in Colorado. It goes on to mention the war in Mexico happening at the same time and how WWI would be coming in four months.

The next chapter begins with the idea WWI was an Imperialist War. We are given an idea of the casualties of British and French soldiers against the German soldiers, then America steps in on the Spring of 1917 also giving the idea “conquest” of the foreign market gave prosperity to everyone and not only J.P. Morgan. W.E.B. Du Bois is quoted on his insightful thoughts of “the nature of the First World War”, which is printed several years before Lenin’s Imperialism. In 1917 when America declares war, the public doesn’t rush off in favor of it and it actually became quite an “unpopular war”. Then the Espionage Act is passed, which goes against one’s freedom of speech. Around 900 people went to prison because of it with no mention of its eradication, instead we read of immigrants being deported for unknown reasons and falsified crimes and the “class war” is continuing on through the 20s and 30s despite the U.S. supposedly being a “classless society”. If it’s one other thing this history provides it’s where and why a typical citizen should feel in debt to America. Perhaps one of its charms, to make one aware of whether one is getting the best attributes out of it’s government or not.

In February 1919 in Seattle, WA a strike was beginning for shipyard workers. During the strike, the city’s crime rate decreased to such an exponential proportion as to not being seen before by a commander of the U.S. Army in his forty years of service. The strike ended in five days due to “pressure” from international officers of assorted unions, according to the General Strike Committee. When the strike ended, arrests were made for being “ring-leaders of anarchy”. Then some “crazy shit” starts going down with Frank Everrett, a lumberjack who was a soldier and after he kills the leader of a mob, which was after he shot at the mob earlier, they get major revenge on him through torture and his death not long after. A mayor is quoted about his view of what the strike signified, being to “overthrow the industrial system”. Then in September 1919 another strike begins with steelworkers in Pennsylvania as well as other workers. The year after the war, still more were going on strike. By the start of the 1920s though, work became tolerable enough to the right number of people and the unrest calmed and further rebellion quelled. Immigrants were also having their numbers monitored so as to stay below a certain quota according to race; an interesting range. We move on to how Capitalism still seemed, in 1929 an undependable system. By the start of the 1930s people were losing their jobs. Children and adults alike were demanding to be fed, whether by school officials or restaurants in their town. Once Hoover badly handled veterans being evicted, Roosevelt was successfully able to win the election. He started the New Deal to help stabilize society, but people still dealing with evictions began backing each other up once targeted. Roosevelt’s New Deal was to keep the lower class from starting a revolution, but another example of D.I.Y. was in Pennsylvania when unemployed coal workers dug in small mines, then sold the coal below commercial rate, were prosecuted and local juries and jailers wouldn’t convict or imprison them. It goes on to mention the white and black farmers compensation differences and the committees and meeting they begin holding in regards to the mass unemployment. When the New Deal ended, Capitalism stayed intact and by the end of the chapter, war was still coming to America after covering the early 1930’s.

The next chapter begins with a quote including Great Britain, U.S., Canada plus twenty-one other countries declaring the war wasn’t imperialist and then two years later Germany invades Soviet Russia and the American Communist party continually describe the war an imperialist one and “a people’s war” against Fascism. It goes on to debate if this were true, showing it was the most popular and whether it was what it seemed or if there were those against the war. It mentions the popularity of air-raid shelters in the mid-1950’s and ends the chapter on Kennedy’s budget not changing much in his first year of office. During World War II it was too sensitive a time with war mentality to allow open discussion and the U.S. being a “hero” to “weaker” countries is something one might learn in school, but not through its actions in world affairs: instigation of war in Mexico and taking half the country, pretending to help Cuba get freedom from Spain and making a military base there instead, plus other exploitation’s of Japan and China. At one point setting 7,000 troops in Russia in 1918 and adding 5,000 to a Russian port as an “expeditionary force”.

Apparently there was also hesitation in speaking out on Hitler’s persecution of the Jews at first in 1934. It goes on to question the reasoning behind “covert” support of certain wars between other countries all to advance imperial interests of the United States. Then we are given the reason why America joined WWII, not to try and help the Jews, what did it was Pearl Harbor and whilst the American public was shocked to being bombed, the government wasn’t, also Roosevelt might not have known Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked, but did lie to the public for a cause he thought was right. It goes into quite a bit of detail, as do most of these I’ve mentioned. It continues to report of the United States’ plans to become an economic power and pushed Britain out of the way for oil rights in Saudi Arabia. It also mentions the reason the U.N. was created. As well, whilst Roosevelt started the Fair Employment Practices Commission, he didn’t seem interested in enforcing its orders, so blacks and women still had a hard time being treated as equal, obviously. Then we cover the Japanese and those American-born who experienced the internment camps after Pearl Harbor’s attack. Then we get statistics of the people who fought compared to those who deserted and how differently officers over enlisted men were treated. We get the black men’s perspective of joining the war as well, which didn’t seriously affect them either way. Then we are given to consider whether bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to end the war, the answer being to the negative, it was not, but was done so as to have control of Japan before Russia declared war.

The war re-invigorated capitalism in America and Russia worked to rebuild its industry, which gave the Truman administration the ability to present them as an immediate threat. It then goes into the war between North and South Korea and the U.S.’ involvement. McCarthy also became an anti-Communist thorn, going so far as lying about documents from the State Department only to bully the Communist party from power, threatening Republicans and Democrats alike. J.F.K. seemed to share McCarthy’s views, however. Then Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are mentioned and the historical figures who tried to have their sentence appealed by two former Presidents, a stay of execution was given, but only for a short time, to prove a point no one accused of Communism would escape consequences. From this time throughout the 1950’s, America was on the lookout for Communists. There’s also mention of Captain America vowing to take out Communists as well, ha ha. Military funding increased during the 1950’s and got even higher when Kennedy was President in 1960, still gaining power in the 1970’s. Then we segue to Fidel Castro’s rise to power and after going to prison and getting out, he meets Che’ Guevara and after whom takes over Cuba’s government, America trying to make Castro’s uprising difficult, but failing to intimidate. Kennedy, upon election seemed to have adopted the responsibility to continue the attack and tries to bully Castro out, but his army was too much for America to reach its objective. By the end of the chapter Kennedy’s changes concerning economic structure is given and in the 1960’s a “series of…rebellions in every…”part,”of American life…showed…all the systems estimates of security and success were wrong.”

The next chapter starts with an excerpt of a Langston Hughes poem which also titles the chapter, proceeding with other poems showing the discontent of the black community. We than get a background of Angelo Herndon, a black man who joined the Communist Party and eventually was incarcerated for insurrection in Georgia. We then get to Truman’s slow-to-proceed policy of equality. 1965 still had 75% of segregation in schools in the South, 10 years after the guideline was made. We then go to Rosa Parks story and quote also including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s part as one of the leader’s of the boycott at age 27 and his home being bombed. Also whilst King preached to fight back with non-violence and love, others came to realize sometimes there has to be another way, in respect to dealing with Klansmen; even Indians used firearms to defend themselves against them. In 1960 blacks were having sit-ins at restaurants to show they wanted to have equality, peacefully and it continued until “Freedom rides” were added, where blacks and whites would travel by bus together across state lines and whilst J.F.K. was in office at this point he was more concerned getting the support of white southern leaders than enforcing equality. The two buses which tried this didn’t return, getting confronted with violence as local police and FBI stood by and watched, not interfering. Then after M.L.K. Jr.’s “I have a dream…” speech at a march was embraced by President Kennedy and other national leaders, Malcolm X’s quote seemed to be the typical feeling of those at the march, a much more serious than uplifting note. Kennedy found control of the march, making it no longer what it was, but a “democratic coalition”. There’s also a gun fight mentioned comparing it to be as violent as WWII in Watts, Los Angeles, CA in 1965. The Chicago 8 are again mentioned in regards to the Civil Rights Act which was passed being used against them. After, we cover the finer details of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Then we find in the mid to late 1960’s to early 1970’s the FBI was a part of violently silencing any black militancy groups who were getting attention, including the Black Panthers. The chapter ends with a lecture on white and black poor in competition to attend inadequate schools.

The next chapter focuses on Vietnam and starts with the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence from French colonialists. We find the U.S. was also supporting 80% of the French war effort on Vietnam in 1954. Which the reasons for being possibly due to what could be cultivated from their land and if they would be swayed by Communism. After the French withdrew due to support of Ho Chi Minh being too great, the U.S. stepped in to make South of Vietnam their base, which became South Vietnam solely for American reasons. The NLF were helping Vietnam villages keep control whilst Ngo Dinh Diem tried to have otherwise. After Kennedy’s assassination, President Johnson outright lies to the public on an American destroyer, Maddox being attacked unprovoked. Then it goes on to describe the mass killings and hut destroying of the Vietnamese people. An American living in Laos at the time of the bombing and knew the language interviewed many locals during the massive upheaval. Once President Johnson declared he wouldn’t run again for all the negative feedback for keeping American soldiers in Vietnam, Nixon announced he would begin withdrawing troops and did, but also carried on the war by different means and also launching an invasion of Cambodia in 1970. In protest of the war, some Americans were going so far as burning themselves alive. We also get descriptions of Americans and some celebrities openly speaking at the White House of their disagreement of the war and the first time I’ve ever heard of Americans hijacking an American ship which had bombs going to airbases in Thailand. Then we find how the Pentagon Papers began. ROTC programs also became impacted by protests of the war. It also turned out grade-school educated people were against the war more so than college-educated. We also get an excerpt from Born on the Fourth of July from Ron Kovic’s point of view and by the end of the chapter Nixon admits in his Memoirs he knew the power of public opinion swayed the stay of war in Vietnam.

The chapter after starts with the struggle of women to get out of the appearance of only being good for making themselves be the support system for their husbands and how much beauty regimens they need in order to keep themselves at par to making their men happy; I paraphrase, of course. We then get a couple excerpts from The Feminine Mystique and it goes on to show even when women were getting more opportunities for equality, it was still a stressful struggle. After a thorough section on women liberation and family values, it goes to the conditions of prison inmates. We are also shown whilst the poor did commit more crimes than the rich, it was solely due to the law being on the side of the rich, not needing to break the law to get what they wanted; also helping was the ability to get attorney’s who could shorten or lessen the severity of a sentence leaving a larger number of poor black people being the ones to stay in jail. Then we get a description of how George Jackson’s murder inspired prisoners of Attica to protest and come together; it also mentions the film. We then revisit American Indians and how they only maintained their reservations because they couldn’t be made to take individual plots of land.

Then describing how many times America made treaties with the Indians only to ignore them for their own selfish reasons; mentioning one the Kennedy administration ignored to make a dam which flooded the Seneca reservation. Then in Washington state, Americans wanted sole fishing rights to what the Indians already had rights to and arrests began for defiance of their rights being ignored. We also get a humorous anecdote from an American Indian who spoke to a “non-Indian” of how they didn’t make proper use of their land when they had it. At one point Indians even stayed on Alcatraz Island making peaceful protest to the conduct of how the United States had ignored their agreements. We also learn in 1977 there was a teacher of 4th and 5th grades trying to break the stereotyped views of Indians by presenting the old and new texts inspiring some students to write to the editor with their opinions, one being quoted. After, we cover the Oglala Sioux Nation’s fight to keep their land at Wounded Knee and then being unencumbered of men and women talking about sex and the lack of use of bras in the 1960’s and ’70’s, gay and lesbian openness to talk, the wearing of pants by both sexes, and the protest musicians which became popular. We also cover the semi-liberalness of religious servants and their starting of families instead of only with Jesus. The end of the chapter imparts how much in the span of two centuries were we able to learn how to control people and how by the mid-seventies it started to show.

The early seventies showed there was not much trust in the government. It then goes into the Watergate debacle and how it would have been the other aid for people to start mistrusting the government, (the first being Vietnam). When Nixon resigned from office, it is made clear because he’d left, didn’t mean his policies would be abandoned. Ford pardoned Nixon from having criminal charges brought against him and was able to live comfortably on his pension in California. It goes on to mention the milk industry hiked up retail prices so as to make more money to contribute to the Nixon campaign. The reason for people’s discontent of the government also came from the inflation of prices and high unemployment occurring. Then we go into the decline of authority the President began to have and how after election he needed to find the support of powerful institutions. By 1960, the interest in voting was waning. James Carter was elected to change the disillusionment those before him had instilled in the public, and apparently did a pretty good job of it, getting the approval of blacks and appointing people who seemed appropriate to the areas mentioned, but then began to make some not so morally high-grounded decisions, like not helping rebuild Vietnam and not changing how the FBI and CIA went about their dealings, supporting their keeping of “secrets”. There was also a point when the public began to show less enthusiasm to his presidency when he made it clear he didn’t care if poor people could afford abortion and if life was unfair to those who didn’t have money. We are then shown the protests of people still working under unfair conditions and fighting for their rights.

The final chapter relates this textbook is biased in the opposing direction of most historical texts for the reason being the other side is so commonly acknowledged and taken as the whole truth and story. Which is why this covers the people’s movements so closely. The fact Zinn mentions how the “…American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history…” seriously disturbs me, but this chapter, if one is debating whether not they should delve into this slightly daunting text, should read the seven pages and see whether they’d like to learn another side of a history we’ve all heard and been bored silly by the teachers who lectured its requirement; but overall, if one has an open enough mind, one shouldn’t need the extra kick in reading this epilogue-like chapter and go for it straight on. It’s a good one and ends on a positively hopeful note, which at this particular moment in time, seems like an unattainable fantasy from a Californian perspective. Otherwise, tremendously worth the read, I learned more than I ever did in public school and would have read this in a heart-beat if I’d been told of it in my high school days.

Bored to Death

I read only the short story, but from the book The Double Life is Twice as Good, which, if I locate again, will try to continue, but I started watching the show on the behest of my boyfriend; I laughed. Hard. So I was definitely intrigued by the short story, finding it at an exceptionally local book/music/movie, etc. trade store. Whilst Jonathan Ames describes his alcoholism, it also reminded me of someone close to me. After reading the page in the introduction of the show, I figured I’d enjoy the story as well. Ames is likable and straightforward. He had decided to give up on serious relationships, due to the anguish and guilt involved and gives me more authors to research, i.e. Hammett, Goodis, Chandler, and Thompson. He does put up an ad on Craigslist, like the show. He used it as a means to write an essay, which isn’t what the character Jonathan has in mind. We do get the same story as the first episode as we begin his unlicensed P.I.-ing. The story gets funnier with the description of himself which Schwartzman wouldn’t have been able to use; He is a humorous writer. Then a line given to Galifianakis’  character is used to get into the building where the boyfriend lives to the missing girl, also used for a different episode. One other change is how Ames misses seeing the boyfriend, this time being caused by a bathroom break. He also gets in an easier, less funnier made-for-TV way and discovers said boyfriend on the bed doing drugs instead of girl’s sister. Also the outcome is much different and less funny. Then Ames describes his reaction in a pretty hilarious way, to what he uncovers, which he hadn’t encountered before. After trying and failing to contact the college girl, Ames is properly freaked out. So much so, he calls the number given to him by the bartender: G.; guy sounds like a wannabe gangster. G. was what I expected when Ames meets him at a café and goes outside to talk to him. They get in a car with a driver, G. has them driven to a secluded place where they have Lisa, the girl’s sister, bound, but not on a bed, it instead being a couch. Ames is in a much stickier, less funny situation than the show gives, and I’m quite entertained, but it does end quite abruptly. I almost can’t believe the reality of the situation, it’s so wild I now want to research whether he did time for his “actions”. Lively story, for certain. Also, after finishing the series I can see where some of this story seemed to be mixed through some of the later episodes due to seeming to fit better with those story-lines.

The Tin Drum

I got this edition from the library so I only decided to read the first story, The Tin Drum and the third, but due to the due date and subsequent move out of the city of “Hell’s” Angels, I’ll have to wait to continue to the third. This story, however starts with Oskar, who’s interested in writing his thoughts down on paper and resides in a mental institution. He has periodic visitors, among them a lawyer and Bruno whom he refers to as his keeper; the latter brings him reams of “virgin” paper whenever he runs out. He then begins to share a story about his grandmother, which is when it feels like the story truly begins. (This is also where I’m noticing if I continue to read German novels it might be in my interest to look for the Polish authors, since so far I’m distinguishing this text more easily read and less depressing than more Germanic writers are. I also learned this is where Alice Cooper got his inspiration for his out-of-school song. It’s so blatantly similar I was surprised to recognize it so nonchalantly mentioned near the beginning of the book.) Oskar is precocious and quick for his age, which is shown throughout; it’s mentioned he’s a Virgo and shows the personality traits of one, also with the large ego of being even more clever than everyone around him, he plays dumb so a neighbor will teach him to read (since he blew his one and only chance to be taught at school; ignorant rigidity of the teachers of the era).

Once truly in the story, it’s easy to delve into Grass’ world; or so I believed, soon changed. Oskar starts to become something of a super-hero with his precision glass cutting scream with a side of mischief making and also with his drum sabotaging anything instrument-related he discovers within stomping distance, but there’s bits which are quite dull to get through and I identify myself plodding difficultly. Although after a rough patch, I read an article which made me stick with it. I’ve now made the connection between Grass and John Irving. They’re both clinical in their descriptions at times, sexual in a backward interest topic, and extremely vivid. (It’s also quite like a reverse Benjamin Button, but only if I want to stretch the analogy as far as it can go. But once I plodded ever vigilant to getting finished with this book, I realized how obsessed Oskar was with his mother; it was a nice realization once it dawned on me, which made him protective of her. Although once I was 124 page’s deep, it made perfect sense why he would be allowed this odd relationship with her, since he ended up suffering far more due to the unfortunate circumstances which occur to them).

Oskar befriends Herbert Truczinski when he is around 14 because Herbert has a plentiful amount of scars with “back” stories; Ha-ha. He is an old friend who influenced Oskar. (Later on Oskar’s Western Astrological sign is mentioned yet again, for personality quirk purposes, I suppose.) It describes, in some detail, many streets and stores in the city, and then gets much more interesting. He convinces Herbert Truczinski to buy him a ticket to accompany him, since Oskar still looked so young he was able to get in for the kid’s price. The only problem and good thing about this book, is it’s detailed structuring. (Sometimes it’s wonderful, other times it drags on and I need frequent breaks. This is like the German Les Miserables. And I believe I enjoyed Hugo over this by a bit. And then it shifts again and I realize I’m enjoying the story.) It is a book with waves of good and tired bits.

Oskar then discloses of keeping a book of all his drums and their “careers” since 1949 (the list-taking is a Virgo thing for sure, I can relate, and know many who do, as well.) Oskar also deals with a point where he had to question who his father was. Which was entertaining to figure out. (This is also the only book I’ve read so far which could make a card game called skat, let alone any card game, sound exciting and maintain it’s feel of camaraderie. I’m also realizing I’m relating to Oskar having to begrudgingly take command of the situation whilst under the stress of being bombed and keeping up a game of skat with his Uncle/Father and dying postal worker and staying calm and keeping Jan focused and the postal worker moving so he doesn’t literally lay down and die.) The end of the story is a grim one, but fascinating none-the-less.

Then, once I start thinking this is beginning to sound Don Quixote-like, lo and behold, he’s referenced not too long after my thought. Also Maria sure does become a good friend to him in the way of drums for awhile. Which was satisfying in a small way, but then to learn she eventually becomes Oskar’s first love when he’s almost 16 feels awkward, but doesn’t linger; instead, it’s more embarrassing for Oskar, since he allows himself to be treated like a small child still, but doesn’t consider changing since he knows how to work adults more easily in his current state. (Due to many of the course sexual references, I keep wondering why I’m continuing the story: it’s well written, descriptive, imaginative, also Grass shares a birthday with Oscar Wilde, which I believe foretelling since I read Wilde’s complete works and it may be the qualities which are helping me stick with this: those being listed above.) Although, Oskar’s introduction to oral is quite surprising and amusing, but also odd since the reader has to catch the metaphor. Any 15-year-old would hate to remember or at least truthfully divulge a story like this, but he does “get lucky” in a lucky way.

Grass, through Oskar also makes known something which should become a more known disgust if not fret of men. Oskar says at one point he despises how his downstairs takes over at the most bewildering of times, with no rhyme or reason. There are also many strange and sexually ambiguous characters whom are thoroughly explored. Some are more fascinating and easier to read than others, but they are all well-written and the ones who emote a sense of respect towards one another and pure friendships bloom because they are good, but some are troubled more than others, as well. Oskar becomes more desperate after meeting Maria and she becomes a more constant presence in his life, until she decides a different path and he’s surprised by what she does and doesn’t do in this time in their lives apart. Oskar has some strange fantasies about his family revolving around his grandmother’s skirts. Oskar gains a crew when he is followed and then shows them his breaking windows talent. The leader takes him in as one of them, begrudgingly, and Oskar takes the opportunity to make himself seem beatific by introducing himself to them as Jesus. Oskar then becomes the new leader of the youthful gang and proceeds to get them to implement troublesome plans, which he designated out to his crew as he sits back and hears about the wonderful mayhem. Oskar becomes more egotistical, once Lucy starts ruffling his feathers. He at one point sees himself as a, “human unicorn” and the most important of his group, the Dusters. They certainly do undertake some blasphemous missions which Oskar shows mild guilt at the start of the discussion of his Catholicism, but by this point, he’s obviously reached a new more contemptuous viewpoint of what he feels acceptable sacrilege.

It starts to adopt a dark humor I enjoy, in the church during their prank and how one of the Dusters gives a speech so moving, even Oskar has the desired feeling of soul-saving sermonizing. The next episode of Oskar, preludes us with a story of a young man who climbs a high-jump dive-board at a public pool, to see the view, when his buddies put him on the spot whilst everyone’s attention was already being diverted by his climb, from the start. Oskar introduces his similar story with the Dusters, but for them, it’s Lucy who’s a part of a panel of judges who was to encourage the Duster’s to jump. Then she tries and fails to get Oskar to jump, proving one does not have to be conquered by suggestion. Even when Lucy tries her whispering tactic, “Jump, Sweet Jesus, jump.”, doesn’t work, Oskar makes his way back the way he got there. Matzerath is then approached by a court official mysteriously alluding to getting, “the child off the streets.” Calling him gullible and easily swayed by “bad crowds”, essentially. Lucy does become a thought of dread to Oskar since he doesn’t see her again, so when he hears of unexpected visitors at the mental institution, he fears it’ll be her. Oskar still does utilize his size and his ability to act toddler-like to get him out of trouble, if he can. Even though by this time he should be around eighteen or nineteen years old. (I must remind myself he wouldn’t necessarily have found maturity at his age since he became counter-obsessively using his “baby” act for so long.) Oskar has also kept his respect for Goethe and Rasputin since his first discovering and learning to read by them so long ago. Oskar usually feels the need to show off his talent to those who show talent themselves or to help others through his talent. He liked pretending he didn’t care, out of arrogance and ego, (in line with what I would expect) which doesn’t change through his childhood or young adulthood.

Matzerath’s cellar is shown, along with the rest of the family, plus Oskar to await the invading Russians with devastating results. The next bit gives background on the city name and who pillaged it. It goes on about the history of how battles started and how the people tried to defend their homes. The Russians are still about, so Oskar and the family stay hiding in the cellar, to wait. The man who takes over the grocery story helps the family deal with some hard tasks Lina Greff would have done, if not for her hosting a houseful of Russian soldiers. They move in to Mother Trucszinski’s flat. (Then I learn Matzerath hates margarine as much as I hate it, today!) Similarities throughout the ages. Also something similar is how the newly adult military “kids”, goof off during their tours. These Russians take what now is considered one of the world’s most beloved pastimes and wheeled transportation, free-style bicycling with items taken from homes and jumping ramps off them and using bathtubs, grandfather clocks and radios, among other items, doing stunts. Meanwhile Oskar is studying Fajngold the grocer to see if he can deduce what he’s contemplating. Whilst trying to get where they’re going, they accrue two young Russian cadets with tommy guns to escort them wherever they’re going and they make their unwanted presence known by their obvious clumsy inexperience trying to cover it up with silent, serious exteriors. How serious would you take a sixteen year old? Exactly.

Oskar starts feeling cheated by not having the shop go to him and only having Kurt and Maria to show for his years with his family. Their goal of destination is shared, and they continue on foot due to the obstacles being too large to get to where they needed with whom they had in tow. Kurt doesn’t change, his brandished reckless violence making him easy to see him as an expendable brat. No one is beyond Kurt’s abuse, but in this section, he goes after a caged lovebird. Oskar has come to a life-changing decision near the same time his son, Kurt does. A long coming confession from Oskar regarding the Party pin Matzarath almost got caught having in his possession is also confessed. Oskar’s main memorable moments of Matzarath being about his cooking and nothing so sentimental as his possible paternity. He lets his last Bebra-bought drum symbolize his farewell to Matzarath. Oskar believes the nosebleed which follows is the start of his growth. Shugger confirms this when reacting with fear as Oskar faints out the end of the scene,ths also when Oskar’s height is learned. Also, by this time it’s determine he’s older than 21 and he was only three feet by then. A reiteration of the cemetery and Heilandt’s strange reaction to Oskar’s growth spurt is gone over. He also tries to forgive his son his violent act against him by trying to believe he did it to help him accelerate his growth, so Oskar would finally get some acknowledgement from Kurt he is his father. Doctors also come up with a physical explanation for Oskar’s stop and then spurt of growth later, which Oskar doesn’t believe at all. His thinking was, he had started growing and stopped after, and before the physical “traumas” occurred.

When Oskar becomes ill due to his sudden growth a lady doctor is found, and he appreciates her upfront and terse countenance, which I can relate to, Grass was thorough in at least his astrological and most likely his geographical knowledge. I also learned more about the characters of Rasputin and Goethe both of which I haven’t read or done much research on, but soon enough, I will be. Fajngold realizes his family plus Maria and the children (Oskar included) were infested with lice where the explanation goes on with Oskar feeling more relief whilst his illness when Fajngold disinfected everyone putting him completely at ease. (It then mentions a concentration camp story involving Fajngold, which is engaging, but I’m indifferent to, since I’ve sworn off reading Holocaust related materials due to the overabundance of reading them in school.) Oskar’s illness continues to recede and flare through the spring. Fajngold changes the grocery store’s merchandise and Kurt becomes a prolific salesman at the age of 5. They get a visit from Oskar’s Grandmother where Fajngold and she swap stories. After, Maria decides to go live with her sister. Mr. Fajngold bids them farewell and Oskar uses a way of seeing the world which has become easy to adopt and quite calming to apply: He says, Fajngold waves them goodbye from the train station until he no longer exists. I use the same concept, depending on mental faculties and if the person has done everything in their power to combat it, if they haven’t I don’t consider them “real” and don’t necessarily give them the deserved normal courtesies all “healthy-minded” individuals worked at receiving through normal means.

The next section is told by Oskar’s nurse, Bruno, of when Oskar and family are on the train and it keeps being stopped by gangsters and such and when Oskar showed a picture of his Grandmother, it saves their belongings from being stolen for an odd reason, which is why I bring it up at all. Oskar also attributes his growth, lengthwise and of his, ahem, nethers, were aided by the jiggling and jolting of the tracks, also relieving the constant pain so much growing gives, another funny observation. He also lost the ability of breaking glass with his voice on this trip. After getting Oskar to a hospital, Maria gets him transferred closer to where her sister lives. By the close of this part, Bruno finishes his writing and a full description of Oskar’s person and also a mysterious charge Oskar was put in to the hospital for in the first place, is mentioned finally. Oskar continues saying he doesn’t even bother reading what Bruno wrote. He than says he’s grown another inch and was released from the hospital. He then goes to Maria’s sister Guste’s house to discover Maria dealing black market synthetic honey and Kurt begins a business venture of his own, even having a mysterious source which irritates Oskar for not knowing whom it could be. Oskar reiterates Bruno’s description of himself and what his view is toward himself: handsome, despite his hump which now developed on his back.

Oskar applies an everyday exercise I use, except he conceives it, perhaps more “fun” to label, in this case, happiness according to various types of stone since he was able to acquire a job helping a tombstone engraver, similar to Simon Birch now I think of it. Possible tsk-tsk on John Irving?Anyways, they both get fitted for suits and Oskar pulls off a demonic intellectual look whilst Korneff, his employer, who has boils all over his neck looked quite impressive as well. Oskar was feeling lucky, so he decides to ask Gertrude, a nurse from the hospital he stalks once in a while and they go out to dance. Oskar was going to back out of the date if he could when he realized Gertrude is normal looking outside her uniform, but doesn’t get the chance, so when they get to the dance hall, they wait a bit to get settled and then Oskar asks Gertrude for a dance, which is hesitantly accepted. The completion of the dance has everyone clapping to them and Gertrude becomes embarrassed and excuses herself. The night gets more eventful when he meets two young telephone-operators, one of which asks Oskar to dance. Gertrude isn’t seen again, other than the hospital. Oskar then talks of the headstones he’s carved and where they were put. He witnesses a woman’s exhumation and when he tries to help the diggers (since he had his spade handy) he shovels some of the woman’s corpse fingers and notices their beauty, oddly. Oskar spirals his conversational thoughts to himself until ending up acknowledging he may have hallucinated Lucy Rennwand when he thought he saw her on the train.

Oskar decides to move on from his telephone girls and their connections in favor of taking Maria out and recognizing he’s been responsible for Maria and Kurt’s financial well-being for over a month already and how he was in preference of this, also being told it was partly due to Kurt’s connection drying up. He proposes to Maria and gets strung along until she locates the scissors to finally cut Oskar’s hope of typical family living loose. Oskar mopes about his declined proposal, thinking it would have led to his career as a stonecutter being expanded etc., but because of the plan not working, now he must capitalize off his hump instead. He also spent his time sitting in the park for long periods and letting his appearance go, naturally. On one of his sittings he’s approached by a girl at the behest of her companions to uncover a model to paint. Oskar took to the offer seemingly readily, but he soon realizes being sketched may not mean it coming out flatteringly. He isn’t bother by this for long, since Oskar keeps an aloof exterior, and is soon offered a position to pose nude for the instructor who sketched and molded Oskar’s form in clay. They bonded over their previous careers and Oskar continues to pose for the students on the side. As he advances forth to posing, he becomes something of a hidden gem, until the painters on the floor above discover him and see what the sculptors have been studying and Oskar poses for them also, which seems to satisfy his obsession with wanting his blue eyes to be accounted for, but like the others, the students use blue for most of him, (which reminds me of Sacré Bleu) which describes the reason of some painters obsession and fascination with it.

Oskar decides to join in what is known as carnival week where his costumes makes Kurt laugh so hard he can’t stop coughing. His costume didn’t have the same effect on the carni-revelers, though, but he makes it to the party, where the artists try to sell food and whatnot rather than actually partying. Oskar makes acquaintances with two Chinese lesbians, interestingly and they “make use” of his hump in a way which gives him confirmation of his hump being lucky for women. His companionship with them and the champagne turns him introspective, though and he contemplates the meaning of life. After, he is asked for a cigarette from an old acquaintance, meanwhile being captivated by the soldier acquaintance’s young, drunk date while reminiscing. The girl’s name immediately reminds me of Wonder Boys since they share the name Ulla. Michael Douglas’ character says, “I never forget an Ulla.” Which apparently helped me not to forget either. Oskar decides to help Ulla in her want to becoming an artist which makes Lankes happy. They all retire at Lankes’ place and Oskar gets a chance to be closer to Ulla; the horn dog. When Ulla confesses to them of not wanting to be a muse to artists, but only wanting to “belong” to Lankes, he institutes the usual acceptable response to women in those days and she accepted being a model to the academy, with the help of Oskar. For a “young girl” she is of model-esque height and Oskar and she become the popular duo with the title of Madonna 49, where Oskar poses as a broken Jesus. Maria is upset by the poster which is made of them, but it does get sold for a generous sum and Oskar and Ulla become a popular modeling team. Ulla doesn’t escape Lankes’ wrath, though, since he seemed to be of the malevolent nature he had shown from the start. Oskar also developed these feelings toward Ulla, oddly, but instead of succumbing to assault, he treated her to going out, either to a pastry shop or to buy her small gifts.

One of the artists had a more intimate relationship with Ulla, later described by getting her in a certain position and doing a similar act as those of porn-buffers without having to touch her; ha-HA. Oskar was used to being made to have some object put in his hands to offset Ulla and eventually he brings the one object Oskar had no desire to hold and he says so. Ulla convinces him otherwise, with much distress on Oskar’s side. Maria sees this version of the Madonna 49 and cracks Oskar with his son’s school ruler. She believed it was vulgar and felt above him due to her upstanding position in a delicatessen, she wanting nothing more to do with Oskar. She takes it back, but Oskar didn’t want to continue living with his son and her sister. Maria agreed and offered Oskar to look for a place not far from them, which he seemed to agree to. Oskar stays with the Academy of Arts to be painted and drawn for the winter through the next summer and has no trouble admitting his own foolishness, identifying with Parsifal, a fool also. Besides, he visits Korneff the stone-cutter once again and ends up being offered some part-time work on top of posing as a model due to rent being raised.

After starting a carving and finishing in 3 hours, Oskar’s paid and goes to look at an apartment, which he accepts and learns a nurse, among other tenants share Zeidler’s home. Then sufficient description of the abode and Oskar witnessing a spat between Zeidler and his wife. Zeidler’s outburst resulted in him breaking and cleaning up a glass which made Oskar remember his glass shattering days, minus the clean-up after. Before Oskar takes his leave of them to go to his room he demonstrates some acrobatic moves to show how healthy he is since Zeidler asked how he stayed so small and also about whether he still played the drum attached to his suitcase which he didn’t care whether he did due to his absence from the house on most occasions, which didn’t impress upon Oskar since he played little, if at all. Oskar begins to think of the nurse which he admits is an obsession he can’t and doesn’t want to give up on. Bruno believes only men make proper nurses since they give particular care and sometimes are cured whilst women have the ability to seduce the patient sometimes to recovery and sometimes through “seasoned” erotic death.

Oskar won’t let Bruno’s view mar his of lady nurses though, due to being saved by them every few years. Oskar believed Bruno’s opinion was a professional jealousy. He then lists all the nurses he’s loved and been saved by through the years until the one he’s rooming with is related. He explaining having to take a bus which brings him straight to the stop which picks up nurses and it’s the same as his own and at first he acts with distaste to them, but than hunts them, essentially for their smell coming off the uniforms. He begins noticing them pass him at work which costs him an indiscriminate amount of money. After, Sister Dorothea, the nurse rooming next door begins to catch Oskar’s attention more by her noise of coming and going. He also has a tendency to check the door whenever he hears her and when the mail comes, he would take special interest in what she received. Obsessive little Oskar even has an inventive fantasy involving becoming a physician to be closer to Dorothea. Oskar goes on to say how his whole life wasn’t completely overrun by nurses and how he had to stop inscribing tombstones once the summer semester started at the Art Academy. He teamed up with Ulla once more and they both made good wages from modelling. Lankes has left Ulla to which she easily forgot by immersing herself in the art of Meitel; she believes her relationships will be long-lasting and serious. She did learn one thing stuck from him and their engagement, which was an extended vocabulary which she tested on Oskar, after which another artist began collaborating ideas of Oskar’s which eventually included the addition of a nurse being portrayed by Ulla.

One day though, Oskar tries Dorothea’s door, which is unlocked and he decides a bit of breaking and entering is in order since half the job was already done (her room was unlocked already). The room is described in a dilapidated way and Oskar identifies the smell he’s been noticing is vinegar and then wonders if perhaps she’s been having to use her meager sink to wash her hair with said liquid considering she may not have been able to use the more pleasant accommodations of the hospital bathroom facilities. He then discovers her hair color and she might be losing her hair to which, in his blind love of her, he wants to help her with by supplying her with some hair treatments as soon as he can. Then he takes some of her hair from a comb and stores it in his wallet, removing what was in there to make room. After slight examination of her bed he decides to give in to the temptation of curiosity to look in her cupboard. Oskar deduces even more about Dorothea from the cupboard which fascinated Oskar, making judgments about the articles she did have and the amount of importance she must have had of them. Oskar then becomes intrigued by the type of books she stored in her hat compartment. He wanted so much to become a part of her cupboard area, he moved into an area which fit him perfectly and closed the doors most of the way shut. An item he discovers in the cupboard behind his back brings a reminiscence to him of his mother, Jan Bronski, and Matzerath when he was three. Dorothea’s belt reminded him of an eel from his memory. Oskar’s recollection expands to eclectic thoughts of his mother, which ranged from her singing a particular song to how she would gorge herself on a particular foodstuff until she couldn’t divulge in it any longer, to her graveyard of choice. Then it’s alluded he may have masturbated and smudged the belt to the point of needing to buff it to make it look like it did, before leaving her room. Cheese and crackers, nasty little Oskar.

Oskar becomes quite interested in learning who a Dr. Werner was to Dorothea and searched her books for an inscription or picture and found neither, which pleased him since he seemed to have the upper hand in personal details about Dorothea. Meanwhile another tenant, Mr. Munzer seemed to want to get Oskar’s attention to which Oskar failed to notice nor care due to being consumed with Dorothea, but he did feel a little guilty after, since talk with Mr. Munzer would at least break the lonesome monotony. After a few days past, he continued his modelling with Ulla and they posed as different Greek mythological gods and demigods. Not long after, he was getting the mail and noticed a letter from Dr. Werner and Mrs. Zeidler set it at her door and Oskar bided his time calmly and then boiled some water to steam the letter into opening, the little blighter. He learned Dr. Werner did have feelings for Dorothea even though his letter was extremely conservative in intimate details. When finished he reseals it and leaves the letter where he found it, then hears Mr. Munzer speaking to him from the other end of the hall asking for water. Oskar makes an excuse for himself to comply with the request since he didn’t think it right to do it because he asked unless he were ill. Mr. Munzer or Klepp as Oskar began to know him as, had such a pungent aroma, from his first moment well into the times he would come to visit Oskar in the hospital which Bruno would open every available window once he left (similar to a character in Kingdom, another Stephen Fry TV show). Klepp, at the time of his bedridden-ness had taken to pissing in empty beer bottles; his living in filth is quite extensive. Oskar, at the time, introduced himself as Matzerath for some reason, since he was feeling humiliated at the moment. Only on rare occasions did he use the name Bronki, usually using his Grandma’s name Kojaiczek or by his first name. Klepp looked older, but proved younger than thirty.

Oskar then is told by Klepp of he believing in destiny, but doesn’t believe everyone may be born for a reason since he was certain he was born by mistake. He also discerns the length of Klepp’s stay thus far at Zeidler’s. They agreed it was a shame they hadn’t met sooner and blamed him for not mentioning it sooner. Oskar then learns the reason for Klepp’s being bed-ridden is because he’s determining the state of his health…(Okay). Then Oskar shares a pot of spaghetti which would make anyone pause, if not throw away all set before him and run to the nearest five star Italian restaurant, but Oskar, bless his heart, first stared and then ate it down like a little champ, then to his surprise and my disgust and dubiousness, enjoyed the contents. Oskar and Klepp share their interest as they get to know each other spending their day together, then Oskar decides to pick up his drum once more for Klepp and to Oskar’s surprise and pleasure, Klepp joins him with his flute. After finishing their impromptu jam session, Klepp gets up from bed and washes himself, like a purification process, then they congratulate each other warmly, for their musical moment was to them, like a resurrection. Klepp’s new lease on life had everything to do with Oskar deciding to team up in his jazz band idea. He bacame a new man, but because of this, Oskar believes Klepp is trying to do the same for him, to get him out of his mental hospital bed, because he had “deprived” him of staying in his own. Oskar is then mentioned to possibly not being in his bed on his own recognizance, but also because it was court-appointed and so Klepp, besides his futile attempts of convincing Oskar out of bed, also petitions the court, all because Oskar begrudged Klepp of his own and although they had the two of them in the band, they felt a guitarist was needed and took pictures and enjoyed the movie theater a lot. In the end, Klepp found a wife instead; ha.

Bobby, who led a dance band in a bar would let them play with him sometimes because he got a kick out of Oskar’s drumming even though, he also was a percussionist, despite a finger missing on one hand. Oskar meanwhile, was getting distracted with thoughts of Dorothea during their gigs and so would miss his cue periodically. Klepp would misconstrue these moments as hunger pangs and order sausage. Oskar let him believe this was so as to let him torture himself with thoughts of her independently from Klepp. Oskar had also given up modelling unless with Ulla, who was engaged to Lankes for the Nth time, but only if they needed cash for more movies, otherwise Oskar was dedicated solely to Klepp’s band. He also rarely visited Maria and Kurt since her new husband stayed present.

Klepp and Oskar then had a task of tacking down a fiber carpet-runner for Zeidler so as not to break anymore glasses, so when they finished and tested it, they were in the midst of congratulating themselves, when their doing so put Zeidler in a spiteful tantrum and began breaking glasses. After this Oskar finally meets Sister Dorothea. It was after a late night with Klepp and having left him to continue the search for a guitarist, Oskar goes home with the intention of sleep and failing to do so, comes up with the idea it was due to having stood on the leftover coconut-fiber mat and the stimulation had perked his brain into restless activity. He hears two doors of the front half of the home open and close and decides it’s Klepp, though not believing it at the same time. He resolves to actually stand on the mat since he kept thinking about it, then he uses it to cover his lower half, since he left his pajama’s at Maria’s for washing. He then enters the hallway and aims his trajectory for the toilet, determining one had occupied it already, but didn’t leave since it was the only un-fiberless-carpeted area, to the dismay of the female sitting there already. Oskar tried to make a light bantering response to her scream and cries of him getting out in the hopes of distracting from the awkwardness. She wasn’t having it and tried to push Oskar out, but aimed too high.

When Maria re-aimed lower and felt the fiber she screamed again and thought Oskar an evil entity, which amused Oskar when she asked again who he was. Oskar playfully goes along with her feared presumption and reveals to her he’s Satan, coming for her which makes her ask the reason and Oskar, given the opportunity to confess the truth, replies he’s in love with her, which Sister Dorothea wasn’t about to tolerate and said so. Then when trying to escape, she runs into Oskar and the pelt and his body made her feel faint. She fell and Oskar helped guide her descent onto the carpet outside the toilet. He continues his joke in the hallway and tries to “excite her with the carpet he had used as cover for himself; what a little pervert. Meanwhile Oskar couldn’t get excited himself to his own embarrassment and tried to think of his past exploits to help him along whilst referring to “it” as “Satan”; in this case, suitable, but he couldn’t unearth the feeling. When she felt his skin and humpback, Oskar admitted the truth of his name and feelings for her. She responded with sad tears and left him sitting there and locked herself in her room, rightly so. Then Oskar, still not having given up, goes to her door and scratches at the front whilst hearing what must be her packing up her belongings to leave; sensible lady. Oskar gets this confirmation when she opens the door finally, kicks him aside and leaves, to Oskar’s dismay. He also has woken the Zeidler’s with all the noise and should leave the hallway for his room, but he stays lying there whilst Mr. Zeidler instructs him he should get to his room, and when he stays silent, unmoving, admits to Oskar they should put him out because of his behavior, whilst Mrs. Zeidler giggles until being told to be quiet by her husband who is getting properly rageful, but Oskar is saved by the entrance of drunken Klepp with their equally drunken new guitarist. They pick him up and dress him, then get his drum on him and take him out as he continues to wax woe. They sit on the river Rhine and jam, during which they come up with a name and Oskar treats them all to breakfast.

Oskar and the band liked playing alongside the Rhine so much they befriended a restaurant and nightspot owner through mutual environmental interests. Whilst they played, Schmuh, the owner, “hunted” sparrows. They didn’t start off friendly, though and had met whilst both were occupying space in the area. Schmuh had been annoyed of their playing scaring away the birds whilst Klepp complemented his rhythmic shooting perfectly in time with their music, making Schmuh pleased. Schmuh’s wife thought it would be serendipitous if he employed them at his restaurant and he agreed. Klepp negotiated their salaries to everyone’s satisfaction. The Onion Cellar, was a newer higher class restaurant nightclub which a list of other quirky sounding titles are listed. It was like any dance club one would wait in a line to get into these days. The Onion Cellar was actually at one time a ground-level apartment, so whilst it didn’t have a cellar, the name still suited the place. (Similar to some cafe’s and restaurants in downtown Phoenix , as I’m told and I’m sure, as well as other interesting cities, but couldn’t say off the top of my head.) Anyways, a summary of The Onion Cellar and how artsy and classy it is follows, along with the other restaurants, old and new in the vicinity, the impression being about the reason for The Onion Cellar’s popularity revolving around Schmuh, a shawl and the entertainment he gives and interaction with the guests.

It’s then shared why the place is called The Onion Cellar. (I also found a pairing of food I have yet to try, but am curious about: Onions with apples, and/or onion rings; I like the idea.) Also there’s a second, more “human conditional” reason people flock to The Onion Cellar, a sad and pathetic one, but still a reason we struggle with in this century as well. Meanwhile, Oskar and the band, have their out-of-the-way sitting spot and hear all the people confess here and Oskar goes on to mention a few guests appearances as well as a favorite confessor. Oskar is one strange character himself, suffering abuse from the same person the confessor spoke of. All for love, interestingly enough. Oskar loses both big toenails because of it. Oskar also speaks of a young odd-couple who meet through the train and end up at The Onion Cellar. (It worked out quite well for them, which I believe, the first couple had a good outcome as well.) The band was there to help get the people back to normal and move on for the next group to come in. Quite odd reasons for a band to be hired, but this seems to be Grass’ shtick. Also like certain jobs, the band had a clause forbidding them to use onions how they are used in The Cellar, which suited all of them one way or another: Oskar had his drum to help him, Klepp was backwards and didn’t understand the right time for such emotions, and Scholle was too happy of a person. I can identify with all three, some moments are easier to laugh at, plus a sunny/realistic disposition doesn’t hurt.

Then after Schmuh’s wife gets a hold of an onion whilst with her friends Schmuh is partial to, she confesses terrible habits he had making him give an extra round to the group after his wife and her entourage leave, which makes everyone go crazy to the point of Schmuh asking Oskar to do something since Klepp only found amusement in the debacle and Scholle followed Klepp’s suit. Oskar drums them like the pied-piper to get themselves together, out the door and apparently thinking they’re kindergarten age making them all have a surprising reaction, which stays with them, including Schmuh well after releasing them, leaving them all wet, but not worse for wear.

Schmuh couldn’t forgive Oskar his charade, though since it didn’t include the “power” of his onions. He fired Oskar and the band then goes so far as to hire a fiddler passing for a gypsy, but when complaints and steadfast refusal to continue attendance at The Onion Cellar from regulars, Schmuh had to accept a compromise. It being only to play three times a night with the fiddler playing three as well, plus a raise and tips. It goes well until the day of Schmuh’s death. The Schmuh’s and band had gone on a Rhine outing. On this day Schmuh goes against his 12 cap limit, the dope. When they’re ready to leave, Oskar decides to stay for a walk instead and they go on without him. Oskar takes the same direction and soon sees the Schmuh car overturned with only one serious victim. The reason behind the crash is reminiscent of The Birds, except with sparrows. At Schmuh’s funeral, his widow still in the hospital, Oskar is approached by a doctor who was a guest at The Onion Cellar and present for Oskar’s regression session, wanting to offer him a contract as a solo drumming act to perform large concerts for equally large sums of money. Oskar would have done so if not so shortly after Schmuh’s death and declines until a healthy mental-health vacation is had, to think it over. Oskar does accept an advance along with calling card, though and goes on his trip with Lankes, preferring Klepp, but hospital-bound and also Maria, but she would have had to bring Kurt and they both were still tied to Stenzel. Oskar also wanted to invite Ulla, but Lankes hi-jacked the offer as well as boxing Ulla’s ear for considering going. Oskar was now on vacation with Lankes and they head to Normandy where a taste of how stingy he is being related. He had brought his easel and Oskar his drum along with luggage.

They stayed on the Atlantic Coast and Lankes traded his picture for a fish, which Oskar cleaned and made ready to cook as Lankes found wood and cartons for himself to paint on. Lankes then, needing to make sure he got the best of everything wanted Oskar’s opinion as to which side of the fish was best, Oskar gave him the advice he remembered from both of his parents, which conflicted, and of a doctor which Lankes didn’t trust the advice of, anyways. He does the opposite of the doctor’s advice to be safe, but it didn’t fully satisfy him until not only did Oskar offer him to try his piece, but reassure him his tasted better, after trying his in turn. What a Seinfeld; his mother told an anecdote where he wouldn’t accept a slice, but wanted the whole pie or nothing at all. Then Lankes informs Oskar he ran into Lt. Herzog and how he’s been going to Cabourg for years and would visit them, which he did, surveying the area and then trying to inspect inside their nature-made abode, which Lankes refused to allow him to do. When Herzog wouldn’t take no for an answer, Lankes puts him on his back with fork from fish still in hand. Then Lankes made sure he got the point by dragging him, then tossing him over a dune. Herzog made a quick exit after. When done reminiscing about some nuns Lankes and Oskar had met way back when, some real nuns come walking along the beach, one young, far ahead of the others, which Lankes keeps an eye on from the start. At first she declines the advances and follows the others calling to her, but when the nuns are ready to leave, she makes her way back on pretense of shell-gathering for children and does naughty business with Lankes in their hut. After she leaves to go swimming, Lankes detects inspiration in her being a nun along with titles for the art inspired by her which he makes some success from which prompts Oskar to call up the doctor to do likewise for himself. Klepp was feeling spurned because of Oskar’s growing lack of interest to playing jazz, until he discovers a replacement.

Oskar discloses how he couldn’t consider moving back in with Maria and how he’d occasionally drop by the Academy as a guest model. Ulla, proving to be a ditz or at least in the eyes of Oskar, dropped Lankes again because he kept cheating on her and didn’t beat her any longer; odd. Oskar seemed to be struggling with the idea of calling Dr. Dosch and so tore up his card to realize it was engraven to his memory. He was obsessed with the thought of calling, he finally did and was asked to come in the same day to meet with the boss. When he arrives he’s surprised to see Bebra in an interesting condition. Bebra begins by going through all the terrible acts Oskar’s committed. A contract is then set before him which allowed him to drum in concert and start touring. Though Oskar had the money advanced to him to move, he stayed on for Klepp’s sake who didn’t like Oskar’s official contract dealings, but Oskar didn’t care. When he started his tour, the publicist had made him out to be a faith-healer and so the crowds were drawn to him were of the mid-to later years. Oskar became so popular, a word was made from his name. After his third tour he made a studio album which made him a rich man, but he still didn’t move out of Zeidler’s, because of Klepp and due to the room where Dorothea resided. Oskar decided to proposition Maria with a promise most would consider difficult to refuse: He’d finance her own delicatessen if she didn’t marry Stenzel. She, being a proper business-woman, goes for it and now has two branches.

Oskar then has a nice inheritance given to him after learning Bebra had died many weeks before whilst he was touring. Due to grief, Oskar cancelled some tours without giving sufficient notice and was sued. To make matters worse Klepp had decided to get married and didn’t invite him, then left Zeidler’s, Oskar being the only tenant left. Zeidler had begun to treat Oskar with respect once he became famous. To prevent further depression and/or loneliness, Oskar rents a rottie named Lux and he’d walk him in the hall. They also ended up walking the Rhine where Lux would lead him. Oskar began disliking Lux’s loyalty, even when setting him off the leash, the dog still following and when Oskar kicked him and the dog would run, he’d loyally return, acting guilty. At one point at a rye field, he gets the dog to stay gone for longer and reminisces until noticing, upon Lux’s return he has some object of doggie desire with him. It turned out to be something of human relation and so Oskar took the object with him and then Vittlar, noticing Oskar and dog, compliments the dog. Oskar, not in the mood for conversation with Vittlar asks him why he’s up in a tree, and he responds it’s to do with apples. Oskar gets more annoyed when he’s dragged into an allegorical conversation and Vittlar asks what Lux found in the rye field. He continues to question Oskar until getting to his point, since he had seen more than he’d let on. Oskar, after being properly introduced to Vittlar, called him a friend from then on, even though Vittlar had, after turning him into the police. Then Vittlar’s testimony in court is shared, during which Oskar is described acting oddly with the object found, making stops to drop off Lux and visiting Korneff. Oskar then informed Vittlar of his intentions to keep what was found, giving his reasons.

After ending their day and making arrangements to meet again, they meet up three days later with a surprise for Vittlar from Oskar. Soon it is identifed whom the object belongs. Vittlar goes on to testify the goings on after they had commandeered a streetcar and thus ran into someone about to be executed from Oskar’s past from the post office during the war and the execution was going to take place where Vittlar’s mother lived near the rye field, which both protested. When Oskar drums at the execution though, it puts them off and Vittlar becomes bothered by Oskar’s indifference to success, which Vittlar hadn’t experienced, this being when it’s realized the reason it being Oskar whom was given up to the police and how they still could have stayed friends. Then a jump to present and on Oskar’s 30th birthday, his lawyer gives the news the police reopened the case due to uncovering the real culprit of the crime, to Oskar’s dismay. Now he’ll have to leave his comfy, life-blocking bed, which he’d stayed in for nearly 2 years and contemplated going to America to be with his Grandfather. Then it seems Oskar has the longest elevator ride as he awaits to be arrested and also at present contemplating his future and what to do now he’s thirty. He seems to digress into nervous confusion and being obsessed by running into the black witch and the poem accompanying it. Strange story, vast and not half bad with its winding interlinking characters.