Hence it was that, though this Li Wan still continued, after the loss of her mate, while she was as yet in the spring of her life, to live amidst affluence and luxury,
she nevertheless resembled in every respect a block of rotten wood or dead ashes. She had no inclination whatsoever to inquire after anything or to listen to anything; while her sole and exclusive thought was to wait upon her relatives and educate her son; and, in addition to this, to teach her young sisters-in-law to do needlework and to read aloud.
Tai-yü was, it is true, at this period living as a guest in the Chia mansion, where she certainly had the several young ladies to associate with her, but, outside her aged father, (she thought) there was really no need for her to extend affection to any of the rest.
But we will now speak of Chia Yü-ts’un. Having obtained the appointment of Prefect of Ying T’ien, he had no sooner arrived at his post than a charge of manslaughter was laid before his court. This had arisen from some rivalry between two parties in the purchase of a slave-girl, either of whom would not yield his right; with the result that a serious assault occurred, which ended in homicide.
Yü-ts’un had, with all promptitude, the servants of the plaintiffs brought before him, and subjected them to an examination.
“The victim of the assault,” the plaintiffs deposed, “was your servants’ master. Having on a certain day, purchased a servant-girl, she unexpectedly turned out to
be a girl who had been carried away and sold by a kidnapper. This kidnapper had,
first of all, got hold of our family’s money, and our master had given out that he would on the third day, which was a propitious day, take her over into the house, but this kidnapper stealthily sold her over again to the Hsüeh family.
When we came to know of this, we went in search of the seller to lay hold of him, and bring back the girl by force. But the Hsüeh party has been all along the bully of Chin Ling, full of confidence in his wealth,
full of presumption on account of his prestige; and his arrogant menials in a body seized our master and beat him to death. The murderous master and his crew
have all long ago made good their escape, leaving no trace behind them, while there only remain several parties not concerned in the affair. Your servants have
for a whole year lodged complaints, but there has been no one to do our cause justice,
and we therefore implore your Lordship to have the bloodstained criminals arrested,
and thus conduce to the maintenance of humanity and benevolence; and the living,
as well as the dead,
will feel boundless gratitude for this heavenly bounty.”