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Peking of its own accord, and, Buddha that not only her for the first time in their lives, authority but her life was in the Empress Dowager and the danger. The Pearl Concubine Emperor would travel by rail- (the Emperor's favourite) had way and visit a seaport. I reported that the old lady had said something about the ru- savagely rebuked his Majesty mour which had reached some for lack of filial piety, that her of the Emperor's party, that face was darkened, and her the Viceroy Yung Lu was sombre moods foreshadowed an preparing a plot to seize the impending storm. It would Emperor's person on the occa- surely break long before the sion of this review, and thus proposed journey to Tientsin. to put a stop to the progressive The Emperor's kinsman and edicts which were creating seri- friend, Prince Tsai Ch'u, was ous alarm among the Manchu all for taking a quick offensive, clansmen. The Admiral, all and his Majesty was now preagog for the Emperor's party, pared to risk all in carrying was greatly interested, but our out a plan which the prince talk was stopped by the ‘I. G.' had suggested. But they coming up to introduce one of wanted, in the first place, to the Ministers, and there was ascertain definitely the attino opportunity for renewing it. tude and sympathies of the
“After dinner that evening, British Government. there came to see me privily “I was telling him that at the hotel one of the young nothing succeeds like success, enthusiasts of the Reform party, and that all politicians respect a secretary of the Grand Coun- a fait accompli, when there cil. He was one of the six came a knock at the door and who were executed two weeks the boy announced a visitor. later by order of the old Em- It was the Admiral. He had press at the Board of Punish- dropped in, he said, hoping for ments ; but, as some of his a smoke and a yarn to take family are alive, we will call away the taste of a damn dull him Mr Wang. Things, he dinner, and because he wanted said, were coming to a head to hear more about the inat the Summer Palace. The teresting programme for that Emperor's bitter-tongued Con- review at Tientsin. They had sort (commonly spoken of by told him I was in, but not that the Reformers as 'rat-face ') I was engaged. It was a bit and the Chief Eunuch were awkward at first, and Wang continually imploring the Em- got up to take his leave; but press Dowager to assert her I told him in a rapid aside that authority and protect the dig. the Admiral was a friend to be nity of the Yehonala Clan trusted. So he sat down again, against the intrigues of Kang and as he understood English Yu-wei and other protégés of fairly well, was able to take the Emperor. They had suc- part in the conversation. I ceeded in persuading the Old introduced him as the son of
Cantonese merchant, and dare-devil escapade that had said that we had just been made his fame and endeared talking about the rumours of his name to every wardroom trouble in the palace. After of the fleet. No doubt that that we went on talking about even now the spirit was there, them and about the Tientsin ready and willing for it, had plot, but all in a general way. he had the chance, but all the Wang played up very well, and same my imagination couldn't told the Admiral several in- quite see him that night, sixteresting things, citing as his teen stone and scant o breath, authority either the native as the Hotspur leader of any Press or his friends of the such adventure. It was just Canton Guild. Between us, his playful breezy way. But in half an hour, the Admiral whether in earnest or in jest, (who was writing a book, of those words of his fell on course) had got a lot of pic- ground well prepared for just turesque materials and a fair that kind of seed, and led to idea of the general situation. that which, with a little luck, He grasped all its essential might have given the Manchus points and needs with the sure a new lease of life and China a instinct of a successful leader decent government. of men. It was the sort of “I confess I thought no situation in which, as he said, more about it at the time, but he would have loved to take a few days later I had good a hand. If it had been pos- reason to remember that consible, he would have put off versation. It was about ten his trip to Japan and stayed o'clock at night, and I was on to see the fun. At this thinking of turning in, when point Wang, apparently casu- a pebble rattled on my window. ally curious, asked him what I looked out and saw two men he would do if he were a standing in the porch. One staunch supporter of the Em- of them stepped out, and I peror's side. “Do?' said the recognised Wang. In a low Admiral : ‘go straight for the voice he begged me to come old lady. Give me three trusty down. He wished to speak bluejackets, a sketch-plan of with me of an urgent matter, the palace, a dark night and but his friend did not want a sack, and I'd take odds we'd to be seen by any of the hotel bring her to roost on some perch people. So I went down, and more convenient than the we walked together as far as throne. It's a case of cherchez the Water Gate. There, in the la femme, my boy-cherchez la shadow of the wall, we stood femme !' And with that, laugh- and talked. ing his great hearty laugh, he “Well, they were following got up and said good-night. the Admiral's advice, and doing
“It was just the sort of it that very night. Three of thing that he would say, of their fellow - conspirators had course, and just the sort of left the city at sunset, and at
3 A.M. would be waiting at a might be something more than spot agreed upon, close by the a forlorn hope. As Wang said, Kun Ming Lake at the Summer it was bound to be a case of Palace. They had got a ladder sink or swim before long, and and a plan showing the posi- they preferred to risk all on tion of the Old Buddha's apart- a bold stroke at once. ments. Also, they had got a “You may be wondering sheet cut in two long strips, why, in such a perilous venwhich Wang said would be ture, with the throne at stake, handier and more dignified than they should take a foreigner a sack. The moon was in her into their confidence. There first quarter, very convenient were three reasons. Firstly, for their purposes. The Em- Wang believed in me because peror's faithful eunuch, Sung, once before I had been able and the Pearl Concubine were to get him out of what might in the plot; they were to con- have been a serious scrape with trive that old Li and the old Chang Chih-tung at Haneunuchs in attendance on her kow. Secondly, they needed Majesty and the 'rat-faced the help of some one they could one' got something in their tea trust to hold the rope by which which would give them a sound they were going to let themsleep. They had a cart at selves down over the Tartar Haitien, in readiness to bring city wall, and then pass it their captive to the city, so down to them, so that they soon as the gates were opened. might use it in getting over the Their plan was then to take Chinese wall at the Hsi Pien her to the house of a certain Men. Finally, if their coup censor of the Emperor's party, came off, they wanted me to and there, under pain of death, go at once to the Legation to make her sign a decree and do my utmost to enlist finally renouncing public life, the Minister's sympathy and and conferring full power of support. They had an exsovereignty upon his Majesty traordinary and rather pathetic Kuang Hsü. Other edicts had belief in the British Governbeen drafted, one ordering the ment's benevolent interest in arrest of Kang Yi, Yu Lu, and the Emperor's plans for radical other implacable foes of the reforms, which, as you may Reform party, and another remember, every foreigner in transferring Yung Lu's foreign- China had been advocating for drilled forces from Tientsin to years, and in which the Legaserve under a new commander tion had professed to see the as his Majesty's bodyguard at dawn of a new era. No doubt the capital. The plot appeared had they succeeded, all the to have been carefully worked Legations would have hastened out, and the cool determined to express their enthusiastic bearing of Wang and his com- congratulations and wholepanion gave me the feeling hearted support for the new that this desperate adventure régime, and prided themselves
on the moral effect of their assured. The five conspirators progressive policy. As it was, met as arranged at a spot on the Empress won the game, the south side of the Kun Ming and their Excellencies were the Lake, and, leaving one man in first to deplore the wretched charge of the cart, scaled the Emperor's unfortunate lack of enclosure. There they found judgment,' and to send their a boat ready for them, and wives to pay their respects to rowed silently to the Marble the Old Buddha triumphant. Barge at the end of the lake Wang and his friends were side terrace. Having reached probably influenced by the be- that part of the palace which lief that, in a crisis, England they knew to be occupied by would actively intervene, on the ladies of the Court, two grounds of humanity as well as remained on guard at the gate, of self-interest, and they may while the two others scaled the even have regarded the Ad- wall and proceeded to the spot miral's offhand words as an indicated on their plan as the inspired utterance intended to private apartment of the Emguide them.
press Dowager. The two men “Be that as it may, the entrusted with the execution curtain was up, and the play of this, the most delicate part begun. It was agreed that, if of the business, had been chosen they succeeded, a messenger because they were the strongest would reach me shortly after and most active of the party. daybreak to say that I was They made their way unchalwanted at the Legation; and lenged through a maze of courtthe rest was on the knees of yards, and having, as they the gods. We went up on to thought, reached their goal, the wall and Wang produced they quietly forced the door, a rope; they made it fast, let found their quarry peacefully themselves down the sloping sleeping, and gagged and bound face, and I dropped the rope her as she lay. Then, slipping after them. Before going over the two strips of sheet around the side, Wang shook hands, her, the stronger of the two and said, 'Good-bye ; either hoisted her on his back, and I succeed or I shall not come in ten minutes the whole party back. We have our revolvers.' was on board the boat again, Then they disappeared into the making for Peking and the darkness, and I went back to road to glory. It was only a sleepless bed.
when Wang came to unwrap “Well, the plot was well the old lady and put her in and boldly planned, but the the cart that, to his horror and fates were against Kuang Hsü, dismay, he saw that they had and it came to grief, as the bagged the wrong fox. Either result of deplorable blundering the sketch-plan was at fault, or bad luck, at a point where or in their haste the raiders all serious obstacles had been had taken a wrong turning : surmounted and success seemed unfortunately, neither of the
young men who carried out that she would now be moved the kidnapping had ever seen to one of her ungovernable fits the Empress in the flesh. Day- of rage, and vent it on the unlight was near ; it was too late fortunate Emperor. Kang Yuto try again. There was noth- wei, the Cantonese leader of the ing for it but to make their way Reformers, was having audience back as fast as possible. So of his Majesty that morning; taking their captive with them unless something could be done, (she turned out to be one of and that quickly, with the help the consort widows of his Ma- of Yuan Shih-k'ai, the Emjesty Tung Chih), they hurried peror's day was over and the to the city, got in just as the Reform movement doomed. gates were opened, and de “Well, you all know the posited the old lady in a safe rest. That morning the Emhiding-place. Then by trusty peror gave audience to Yuan messenger they sent word of Shih-k'ai, entrusting his forwhat had happened to Sung, tunes and his fate to the the Emperor's personal attend- hands of the betrayer; that ant, bidding him warn his same afternoon the Old Buddha Majesty that the plot had sent for him and ordered him failed, and that the only hope to have Kang Yu-wei placed left lay in giving immediate under arrest for speaking discommand of the foreign-drilled respectfully of her private troops at Tientsin to Yuan morals. Five days later the Shih-k’ai, and prevailing upon blow fell, which condemned him to come speedily to the Kuang Hsü for the rest of his rescue of the Reform party. days to eat the bread of afflic
“All this Wang told me tion and humiliation, and which when he came to see me next relegated to the Board of Punmorning, a picture of hopeless ishments all the leading Redejection. It was not for him- formers except the two who self, but for the Emperor and had escaped to Shanghai. the cause, that he lamented his no time during the crisis of failure and feared its results. the Old Buddha's savage reAs regards the kidnapping of prisals did any hint leak out Tung Chih’s widow, he was not that Wang's attempt to seize greatly concerned, for she was her person had been discovered. more in sympathy with the The secret was well kept, and Emperor than with the Yeho- the kidnapped Dowager (denala Clan, so that there was posited one night anonymously nothing to connect her dis- near the Palace Gate) never appearance with the Reformers. knew, of course, who her capNevertheless, the business was tors were or whence they came. bound to stir up a hornets' “In the long run a nation's nest in the palace, and to pre- destiny depends upon the charclude all hope of another at- acter of the race, but every tempt to secure the person of now and then its fortunes would the Old Buddha. He feared seem to be determined by pure