Hung Lou Meng - book 2

Cao Xueqin

Hung Lou Meng - book 2

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Title: Hung Lou Meng, Book II
Author: Cao Xueqin
Release Date: January, 2006 [EBook #9604] [This file was first posted on October 9, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

E-text prepared by Juliet Sutherland and Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders

Editors note: This novel is divided into two books, of which this is Book II. Book I (7hlm110.txt,, 8hlm110.txt, or will be found in our etext05 directory (

Translated by H. BENCRAFT JOLY


By a demoniacal art, a junior uncle and an elder brother's wife (Pao-yü and lady Feng) come across five devils. The gem of Spiritual Perception meets, in a fit of torpor, the two perfect men.
Hsiao Hung, the story continues, was much unsettled in her mind. Her thoughts rolled on in one connected string. But suddenly she became drowsy, and falling asleep, she encountered Chia Yün, who tried to carry out his intention to drag her near him. She twisted herself round, and endeavoured to run away; but was tripped over by the doorstep. This gave her such a start that she woke up. Then, at length, she realised that it was only a dream. But so restlessly did she, in consequence of this fright, keep on rolling and tossing that she could not close her eyes during the whole night. As soon as the light of the next day dawned, she got up. Several waiting-maids came at once to tell her to go and sweep the floor of the rooms, and to bring water to wash the face with. Hsiao Hung did not even wait to arrange her hair or perform her ablutions; but, turning towards the looking-glass, she pinned her chevelure up anyhow; and, rinsing her hands, and, tying a sash round her waist, she repaired directly to sweep the apartments.
Who would have thought it, Pao-yü also had set his heart upon her the moment he caught sight of her the previous day. Yet he feared, in the first place, that if he mentioned her by name and called her over into his service, Hsi Jen and the other girls might feel the pangs of jealousy. He did not, either in the second place, have any idea what her disposition was like. The consequence was that he felt downcast; so much so, that when he got up at an early hour, he did not even comb his hair or wash, but simply remained seated, and brooded in a state of abstraction. After a while, he lowered the window. Through the gauze frame, from which he could distinctly discern what was going on outside, he espied several servant-girls, engaged in sweeping the court. All of them were rouged and powdered; they had flowers inserted in their hair, and were grandly got up. But the only one, of whom he failed to get a glimpse, was the girl he had met the day before.
Pao-yü speedily walked out of the door with slipshod shoes. Under the pretence of admiring the flowers, he glanced, now towards the east; now towards the west. But upon raising his head, he descried, in the southwest corner, some one or other leaning by the side of the railing under the covered passage. A crab-apple tree, however, obstructed the view and he could not see distinctly who it was, so advancing a step further in, he stared with intent gaze. It was, in point of fact, the waiting-maid of the day before, tarrying about plunged in a reverie. His wish was to go forward and meet her, but he did not, on the other hand, see how he could very well do so. Just as he was cogitating within himself, he, of a sudden, perceived Pi Hen come and ask him
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