Mistress and Maid: Jiaohongji

By Meng Chengshun; Cyril Birch | Go to book overview

SCENE 7
Response in Rhyme

PETAL(enters and recites): Little maid, sixteen, pretty and smart should pass salad days fancy-free; still gets smitten by passion's dart tries out loving looks secretly! My name is Feihong, “Flying Pink,” or simply Petal. I am quite well endowed with feminine charms and I'm good at reading and writing. Unhappily, I was destined to be only a serving maid, and so I spend time in and around the master's private quarters. His wife is a jealous woman, though, and keeps a strict watch, so although you could say the master and I are very close, as it happens I've stayed intact so far. I'm in my sixteenth year, born the same year, same month as the young mistress. When I have some time to spare from my duties with the master and madam I walk across to the young mistress's boudoir to keep her company and admire her needlework and calligraphy. The young mistress has it all, looks and brains both, and she's sweet and ladylike as well, very serious and dignified, never an unseemly word or a careless laugh. Among all the women who've ever been celebrated for talent and virtue it would truly be hard to find her equal. And yet: I've been quietly watching her, and ever since she set eyes on this Cousin Shen she seems to have developed a sudden attachment to him. I've tried a few hints, hoping to find out more, but she never responds. (She sighs) Oh Miss, Miss, you may keep your feelings to yourself, but I've a good idea what the attraction is. And if you're going to play Cui Yingying, don't tell me I can't manage the part of Red Maid!1 But enough of this. I can see for myself that Cousin

____________________
1
Cui Yingying is the heroine of the Romance of the West Wing, the best known of all Chinese plays; it has been translated by Stephen H. West and Wilt Idema in their book The Moon and the Zither (University of California Press, 1991). The progress of Yingying's romance with the young scholar Zhang is helped along by her maidservant, the pert, flirtatious Red Maid (Hongniang).

-43-

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Mistress and Maid: Jiaohongji
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Notes xx
  • Signposts of Romance xxiii
  • Mistress & Maid - (Jiaohongji) *
  • Cast of Characters - (In Order of Appearance) 1
  • Scene 1 - Legend 3
  • Scene 2 - Leaving Home 5
  • Scene 3 - Meeting with Bella 11
  • Scene 4 - Evening Embroidery 22
  • Scene 5 - In Search of a Beauty 30
  • Scene 6 - Flower Poems 37
  • Scene 7 - Response in Rhyme 43
  • Scene 8 - Trouble from Tibet 52
  • Scene 9 - Sharing the Lampblack 55
  • Scene 10 - Hugging the Stove 62
  • Scene 11 - Frontier Defense 71
  • Scene 12 - Thwarted Rendezvous 75
  • Scene 13 - Dispatching the Summons 83
  • Scene 14 - Quiet Despair 86
  • Scene 15 - Parting Vows 91
  • Scene 16 - Defense of the City 98
  • Scene 17 - Seeking a Cure 101
  • Scene 18 - Secret Pact 106
  • Scene 19 - The Portraits Delivered 113
  • Scene 20 - Cutting the Sleeve 117
  • Scene 21 - Sending the Matchmaker 126
  • Scene 22 - The Match Opposed 132
  • Scene 23 - A Drink with Courtesans 141
  • Scene 24 - The Matchmaker Reports 150
  • Scene 25 - Exorcism 158
  • Scene 26 - Third Visit 168
  • Scene 27 - The Slippers 176
  • Scene 28 - Petal Scolded 184
  • Scene 29 - Interrogation 190
  • Scene 30 - Viewing the Portraits 196
  • Scene 31 - Solemn Pact 202
  • Scene 32 - Petal Tells 211
  • Scene 33 - Reluctant Parting 220
  • Scene 34 - Envoys Appointed 228
  • Scene 35 - The Keepsake 232
  • Scene 36 - The Road to the Examinations 239
  • Scene 37 - Celebration 245
  • Scene 38 - Return in Triumph 249
  • Scene 39 - Bewitched 254
  • Scene 40 - A Haunting Suspected 260
  • Scene 41 - The Ghost Exposed 268
  • Scene 42 - Master Shuai Proposes 275
  • Scene 43 - Parting in Life 281
  • Scene 44 - Wedding Rehearsal 290
  • Scene 45 - Weeping on the Boat 296
  • Scene 46 - Petal Questioned 310
  • Scene 47 - Maiden's Passing 313
  • Scene 48 - Joined in Death 324
  • Scene 49 - United in the Tomb 335
  • Scene 50 - Reunion with Immortals 342
  • Other Works in the Columbia Asian Studies Series 357
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