The First Wife acted as the overseer of the Ho Household, and like any wife, her affections for a concubine’s son were …

Commander Ho and His Deeds

江苏夜网

Commander Ho was the seventh child of his family . He was preceded by six older sisters: Chao-Di (Beckoning Brother), Nian-Di (Thinking of Brother), Hsiang-Di (Wishing for Brother), Pan-Di (Hoping for Brother), Deng-Di (Waiting for Brother), and Yin-Di (Drawing Brother) . Judging by just the nature of their names, one could form a general speculation of Commander Ho’s status within the household—in theory, he should have been fairly well-respected .

In practice, no one could say for certain how respected he actually was . After all, all six of the young mistresses were of the First Wife’s own brood, while our Commander Ho was bore by the Fifteenth Concubine . The First Wife acted as the overseer of the Ho Household, and like any wife, her affections for a concubine’s son were limited . Nonetheless, since Master Ho—or Marshal Ho, as most people referred to him—doted on the boy dearly, Lady Ho was hardly in a place to interfere . But then again, the Old Marshal had his own great deeds to attend to and couldn’t sit home and amuse his son all day, so ultimately, it was most likely that Commander Ho ended up in Lady Ho’s hands for the better part of the time…

The situation was a bit complicated to speak of, but that could be overlooked for now . By this time, Commander Ho was already a grown man and had celebrated his twenty-second birthday last May . His childhood incidents were as ephemeral as fading smoke and fleeting clouds; he had long grown past them .

For now, we shall continue with the introduction of Commander Ho’s names .

As the seventh young master, Commander Ho was known in public as Ho Ch’i-yeh, or the “Seventh Master” . In a more domestic setting, Lady Ho referred to him as the Seventh Son while his sisters called him Little Brother . Marshal Ho’s approach was much more original—he called him Ch’i-Bao, the Seventh Precious .

Of course, when he eventually reached the age of eight, he followed the trend of the time and abandoned his family school to seek new knowledge at private institutions such as Marianne Elementary, where he started going by his formal name, Ho Bao-Ting .

In addition to that, he had a courtesy name—Ji-Ch’ing .

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Ho Bao-Ting, Ho Ji-Ch’ing . Both of these names seemed becoming and appropriate enough for the young untrammelled commander-in-chief . But regrettably, due the Old Marshal’s influence, the world knew only of the “Seventh Precious” .

Commander Ho didn’t like being called Ch’i-Bao . He didn’t like it one bit .

– : –

At the age of sixty-two, Marshal Ho died in the bed of his Twenty-First Concubine, leaving the hundreds of thousands of his men guarding Jehol in total chaos . A number of the regimental commanders, young and bright, possessed considerable egos and believed themselves capable of replacing the Old Marshal . However, after a period of internal conflict and heavy casualties, they found themselves in a deadlock . The remaining young “gallants” agreed to make peace, and decided they would politely invite the Old Marshal’s son over for succession, so that instead of nurturing the possibility of regimental war and collective doom, they could remain unified under the Army .

Consequently, Ho Ch’i-yeh, still preparing for university and studying the Sciences at a missionary school, was tracked down and carried off to lead an army in quite some confusion .

– : –

Ho Ch’i-yeh was an attractive man by nature . When he had been younger, his complexion and features—with those elegant upturned eyes and lengthy eyelashes—were reminiscent to those of a fine porcelain doll . His inert expression and dull gaze only added to the effect .

After more than twenty years of maturing, the porcelain boy became a tall, slender porcelain young man . From an aesthetical perspective, being comparable to a work of art shouldn’t be any hindrance, but as for the state of affairs, the Seventh Master was to be the commander-in-chief of the Anguo Army, in which case looking porcelain would seem somewhat absurd, or inconsistent with his standings, at the very least .

But nothing could be done about that, since the Old Marshal had only one Ch’i-Bao . Despite his resemblance of porcelain dolls, the “gallants” barely managed to snatch him away—Lady Ho refused to let the family’s only son associate with some warmongers her late husband left behind . Having no alternatives, the gallants resorted to liberating the Seventh Master from school through the means of abduction, coaxing and hauling until he was securely stuffed inside their car, which then drove off to Tientsin in a trail of smoke . Before they had even reached their destination, Ho Bao-Ting’s succession as the Commander-In-Chief of the Anguo Army was telegrammed .

After that, Ho Ch’i-yeh never returned to his home in Peking .

– : –

As lifeless as he may have seemed, Ho Ch’i-yeh was in fact quite haughty and bad-tempered due to the Old Marshal’s conditioning . The gallants coaxed and tickled him in hopes of making him their permanent puppet, unaware that peace would end abruptly within the year . War was upon them .

When Ho Ch’i-yeh left school, he didn’t even know how to handle a brawl, let alone a full-scale war . He retreated with the gallants in befuddlement, barely aware of their whereabouts . Anyhow, by the time they finally made settlement, he discovered that the richly-feathered phoenix he was—before having a chance to take off—had fallen into a stinking little valley in the middle of absolutely nowhere .

Ho Ch’i-yeh had never passed his Geography; he only had a very vague sense of his current location . Perhaps they were in a small county-town on the Honan-Shensi border—or was it the Shensi-Kansu border?

He gave up on naming the specific border, but the small county-town part was true enough .

There were no opera houses, no Peking Restaurant, no Beihai Park… There was nothing except for an excess of cow droppings and dust .

The Seventh Master was deeply dissatisfied with his current circumstances . He had grown up in the sumptuous luxury of Ho Mansion, and if he had the time, he would happily embark on vacations in the most prosperous places of China, taking his time to spend away his gold like water, absorbing the best of the Modernism that had newly reached the country . As a Modern Man, he had his share of roseate dreams; for example, as he cheated his way through his final exams, he too thought about studying abroad and pursuing further education, and when he had tea at the local brothel, he too pondered over the sacredness of love and the freedom of marriage… His mind was all-embracing, and could incorporate reality and fantasy seamlessly .

But at the moment, he seemed to believe that his abilities were in fact limited, and was quite unable to associate the rotten dust-road outside his door with the bright and glorious future he was meant to fulfil .

Since there was always something going on inside his head, he appeared absent-minded most of the time . When a man was distracted, his reaction time slowed down remarkably .

Absent-minded, slow, porcelain-like . It was almost against the gallants’ conscious to even call him “Commander” .

– : –

Since the Seventh Master had been promoted from Ho Bao-Ting to Commander Ho, the accompanying ostentation and extravagance of a commander was only reasonable . Currently, he made residence in the strongest and grandest courtyard cottage of blue bricks and tiles, with one administrative squad, one guard squad, six adjutants, a cook who made pastries, plus a maid who did an exceptional job with the laundries .

Commander Ho’s daily routine consisted of sitting at home and accommodating the few regimental commanders in the Army . These commanders’ varied in age, but were consistent in their crudity and difficulty . Since the area wasn’t under anyone’s jurisdiction, their modernized equipment made them nearly invincible, and left them with no battles to go to and too much time to pick fights amongst themselves .

Commander Ho positioned himself in a stately Guangxu palace chair where he listened to the colonels’ complaints and instigations with the uttermost patience and a blank face . When they finished said complaints and instigations, the Commander’s pale visage would then, according to its particular beholder, reveal the appropriate expression . Commander Ho was indeed of scholarly origins, yet his berating possessed the might of ten thousand thunderbolts, its roar of rage becoming quite an attraction in the Army .

On an average day, he would kick one person out with his berating, beat one away with a horsewhip, and gently persuade another into departure . The ones who received the gentler versions were usually the gallants who were involved in his own abduction a while back . Commander Ho knew he was clueless when it came to military affairs, and would likely remain clueless since he had no interest in the subject whatsoever . Hence he relocated his field of concentration . Instead of warfare management, he would focus on personnel management!

Other than the yelling and humouring, he had no other work to do . The days were long, so Commander Ho idled about in his room with a simple looking orderly squatting beside him, cracking open walnuts on the brick floor with a little hammer .

Walnuts were a local specialty . Commander Ho had consumedjinsof them since his arrival—he could almost skip his meals .

Walnuts were supposedly good for the brain . Commander Ho was nearly becoming aYaojing[1] .

[1]Yaojing – “a Chinese term that generally means ‘demon’ . Yaoguai are mostly malevolent animal spirits or fallen celestial beings that have acquired magical powers through the practice of Taoism . ” (Wikipedia) Yaojings are believed to be highly intelligent and cunning .

Commander Ho and His Deeds

.

Commander Ho was the seventh child of his family . He was preceded by six older sisters: Chao-Di (Beckoning Brother), Nian-Di (Thinking of Brother), Hsiang-Di (Wishing for Brother), Pan-Di (Hoping for Brother), Deng-Di (Waiting for Brother), and Yin-Di (Drawing Brother) . Judging by just the nature of their names, one could form a general speculation of Commander Ho’s status within the household—in theory, he should have been fairly well-respected

In practice, no one could say for certain how respected he actually was . After all, all six of the young mistresses were of the First Wife’s own brood, while our Commander Ho was bore by the Fifteenth Concubine . The First Wife acted as the overseer of the Ho Household, and like any wife, her affections for a concubine’s son were limited . Nonetheless, since Master Ho—or Marshal Ho, as most people referred to him—doted on the boy dearly, Lady Ho was hardly in a place to interfere . But then again, the Old Marshal had his own great deeds to attend to and couldn’t sit home and amuse his son all day, so ultimately, it was most likely that Commander Ho ended up in Lady Ho’s hands for the better part of the time….

The situation was a bit complicated to speak of, but that could be overlooked for now . By this time, Commander Ho was already a grown man and had celebrated his twenty-second birthday last May . His childhood incidents were as ephemeral as fading smoke and fleeting clouds; he had long grown past them

For now, we shall continue with the introduction of Commander Ho’s names

As the seventh young master, Commander Ho was known in public as Ho Ch’i-yeh, or the “Seventh Master” . In a more domestic setting, Lady Ho referred to him as the Seventh Son while his sisters called him Little Brother . Marshal Ho’s approach was much more original—he called him Ch’i-Bao, the Seventh Precious

Of course, when he eventually reached the age of eight, he followed the trend of the time and abandoned his family school to seek new knowledge at private institutions such as Marianne Elementary, where he started going by his formal name, Ho Bao-Ting

In addition to that, he had a courtesy name—Ji-Ch’ing

Ho Bao-Ting, Ho Ji-Ch’ing . Both of these names seemed becoming and appropriate enough for the young untrammelled commander-in-chief . But regrettably, due the Old Marshal’s influence, the world knew only of the “Seventh Precious”

Commander Ho didn’t like being called Ch’i-Bao . He didn’t like it one bit

– : -.

At the age of sixty-two, Marshal Ho died in the bed of his Twenty-First Concubine, leaving the hundreds of thousands of his men guarding Jehol in total chaos . A number of the regimental commanders, young and bright, possessed considerable egos and believed themselves capable of replacing the Old Marshal . However, after a period of internal conflict and heavy casualties, they found themselves in a deadlock . The remaining young “gallants” agreed to make peace, and decided they would politely invite the Old Marshal’s son over for succession, so that instead of nurturing the possibility of regimental war and collective doom, they could remain unified under the Army

Consequently, Ho Ch’i-yeh, still preparing for university and studying the Sciences at a missionary school, was tracked down and carried off to lead an army in quite some confusion

– : -.

Ho Ch’i-yeh was an attractive man by nature . When he had been younger, his complexion and features—with those elegant upturned eyes and lengthy eyelashes—were reminiscent to those of a fine porcelain doll . His inert expression and dull gaze only added to the effect

After more than twenty years of maturing, the porcelain boy became a tall, slender porcelain young man . From an aesthetical perspective, being comparable to a work of art shouldn’t be any hindrance, but as for the state of affairs, the Seventh Master was to be the commander-in-chief of the Anguo Army, in which case looking porcelain would seem somewhat absurd, or inconsistent with his standings, at the very least

But nothing could be done about that, since the Old Marshal had only one Ch’i-Bao . Despite his resemblance of porcelain dolls, the “gallants” barely managed to snatch him away—Lady Ho refused to let the family’s only son associate with some warmongers her late husband left behind . Having no alternatives, the gallants resorted to liberating the Seventh Master from school through the means of abduction, coaxing and hauling until he was securely stuffed inside their car, which then drove off to Tientsin in a trail of smoke . Before they had even reached their destination, Ho Bao-Ting’s succession as the Commander-In-Chief of the Anguo Army was telegrammed

After that, Ho Ch’i-yeh never returned to his home in Peking

– : -.

As lifeless as he may have seemed, Ho Ch’i-yeh was in fact quite haughty and bad-tempered due to the Old Marshal’s conditioning . The gallants coaxed and tickled him in hopes of making him their permanent puppet, unaware that peace would end abruptly within the year . War was upon them

When Ho Ch’i-yeh left school, he didn’t even know how to handle a brawl, let alone a full-scale war . He retreated with the gallants in befuddlement, barely aware of their whereabouts . Anyhow, by the time they finally made settlement, he discovered that the richly-feathered phoenix he was—before having a chance to take off—had fallen into a stinking little valley in the middle of absolutely nowhere

Ho Ch’i-yeh had never passed his Geography; he only had a very vague sense of his current location . Perhaps they were in a small county-town on the Honan-Shensi border—or was it the Shensi-Kansu border?.

He gave up on naming the specific border, but the small county-town part was true enough

There were no opera houses, no Peking Restaurant, no Beihai Park… There was nothing except for an excess of cow droppings and dust

The Seventh Master was deeply dissatisfied with his current circumstances . He had grown up in the sumptuous luxury of Ho Mansion, and if he had the time, he would happily embark on vacations in the most prosperous places of China, taking his time to spend away his gold like water, absorbing the best of the Modernism that had newly reached the country . As a Modern Man, he had his share of roseate dreams; for example, as he cheated his way through his final exams, he too thought about studying abroad and pursuing further education, and when he had tea at the local brothel, he too pondered over the sacredness of love and the freedom of marriage… His mind was all-embracing, and could incorporate reality and fantasy seamlessly

But at the moment, he seemed to believe that his abilities were in fact limited, and was quite unable to associate the rotten dust-road outside his door with the bright and glorious future he was meant to fulfil

Since there was always something going on inside his head, he appeared absent-minded most of the time . When a man was distracted, his reaction time slowed down remarkably

Absent-minded, slow, porcelain-like . It was almost against the gallants’ conscious to even call him “Commander”

– : -.

Since the Seventh Master had been promoted from Ho Bao-Ting to Commander Ho, the accompanying ostentation and extravagance of a commander was only reasonable . Currently, he made residence in the strongest and grandest courtyard cottage of blue bricks and tiles, with one administrative squad, one guard squad, six adjutants, a cook who made pastries, plus a maid who did an exceptional job with the laundries

Commander Ho’s daily routine consisted of sitting at home and accommodating the few regimental commanders in the Army . These commanders’ varied in age, but were consistent in their crudity and difficulty . Since the area wasn’t under anyone’s jurisdiction, their modernized equipment made them nearly invincible, and left them with no battles to go to and too much time to pick fights amongst themselves

Commander Ho positioned himself in a stately Guangxu palace chair where he listened to the colonels’ complaints and instigations with the uttermost patience and a blank face . When they finished said complaints and instigations, the Commander’s pale visage would then, according to its particular beholder, reveal the appropriate expression . Commander Ho was indeed of scholarly origins, yet his berating possessed the might of ten thousand thunderbolts, its roar of rage becoming quite an attraction in the Army

On an average day, he would kick one person out with his berating, beat one away with a horsewhip, and gently persuade another into departure . The ones who received the gentler versions were usually the gallants who were involved in his own abduction a while back . Commander Ho knew he was clueless when it came to military affairs, and would likely remain clueless since he had no interest in the subject whatsoever . Hence he relocated his field of concentration . Instead of warfare management, he would focus on personnel management!.

Other than the yelling and humouring, he had no other work to do . The days were long, so Commander Ho idled about in his room with a simple looking orderly squatting beside him, cracking open walnuts on the brick floor with a little hammer

Walnuts were a local specialty . Commander Ho had consumedjinsof them since his arrival—he could almost skip his meals

Walnuts were supposedly good for the brain . Commander Ho was nearly becoming aYaojing[1]

. .

[1]Yaojing – “a Chinese term that generally means ‘demon’ . Yaoguai are mostly malevolent animal spirits or fallen celestial beings that have acquired magical powers through the practice of Taoism . ” (Wikipedia) Yaojings are believed to be highly intelligent and cunning