Ali, OwlHoot, you are welcome. ycb5959, I noticed it was your first post, welcome to the forum. Smurf, Ace, I do remember reading about it, and since the only other source I know is Minford's, it must be he who wrote about that status equalizer. Crazee, Akolaw, but Chen Jinnan also treated him like a son, so the feeling was mutual. (He was the only one who cared about WXB's poisoning). Ace, Pannonian, that was one thing I never could understand, why would they do that? (loyalty to the ruler above the country's best interest)
“That is even worse,” Kangxi said, “This man Wu Yingxiong, I have met him twice. He is competent and efficient, a talented individual. Plus he is not too young, I don’t know how many good-looking concubines he had in his house; how could he have the audacity to be arrogant and treated the Princess impolitely? Humph, do you think I don’t know the Princess’ temperament? It must be that she had some disagreement with Wu Yingxiong, and she cut … she cut his damned eggs.” Speaking to this point, he could not help but bursting in laughter.
Wei Xiaobao also laughed; he stood up and said, “It’s not convenient for the Princess to tell this kind of matter in details; your servant naturally did not dare to ask too much. Whatever Princess said, that was what your servant reported.”
Kangxi nodded. “You are right,” he conceded. “This fellow Wu Yingxiong has been wronged. Go pass on my edict, tell them to select an auspicious date to conclude the wedding in the Capital. After a full month, they may return to Yunnan.”
“Your Majesty,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Concluding the wedding is not a big deal, that fellow Wu Sangui is about to rebel, you must not let the Princess return to Yunnan.”
Kangxi remained calm and collected; he simply nodded and said, “So Wu Sangui is about to rebel. What did you see?”
Thereupon Wei Xiaobao told in details how Wu Sangui colluded with Tibet, Mongolia, Luocha Country and Divine Dragon Cult. Kangxi listened with serious expression, he was deep in thought and did not say anything. After quite a while, he finally said, “That traitor! Unexpectedly he is colluding with that many foreign powers!”
Wei Xiaobao knew early on that this matter is extremely thorny; hence he did not dare to make a sound.
After a while, Kangxi asked again, “And then what happened?”
Wei Xiaobao told him that they had captured the Mongolian Prince’s emissary. He recounted how he pretended to be Wu Sangui’s younger son and swindle the emissary into spilling everything; how Wu Yingxiong wanted to seize Hantiemo back by setting the Princess’ dwelling on fire, but suffered castration instead; how Wei Xiaobao sent the troops under his command to masquerade as the Palace’s guards, and fight in a brothel over some beauties, and thus gave the impression that they killed Hantiemo.
Kangxi was listening leisurely while stretching on his chair; he said, “That’s much more fun.” He continued, “This man Wu Sangui, I have never seen him. That day there was news spreading in the Palace that when Fu Huang [father emperor] returned to Heaven, Wu Sangui led a massive military force to the Capital to offer sacrifice. I wanted to go see him, several regent ministers wanted to guard against him entering the Capital with his soldiers and suddenly revolted; therefore, they told him to mourn and offer sacrifice outside Beijing, they did not allow him to enter Beijing’s city walls.”
Speaking to this point, he stood up, paced back and forth, and said, “That servant Oboi failed to see this matter clearly. If he was worried that Wu Sangui would enter the Capital and revolt, he only need to issue a decree granting them, father and son, to enter the Capital to worship, while his large army must remain outside the city; what could he possibly achieve? If he did not dare to enter the City, that means his etiquette was lacking. By not allowing him to enter the city, the message was clear: ‘We are afraid of your large army, we are afraid that you will enter the Capital and revolt. You must not come in!’ Hey, hey, it was a display of utmost weakness! Wu Sangui must know that the imperial court is suspicious and jealous of him and also afraid of him; how can he not know? Perhaps his rebellion scheme was born because of this incident.”
Listening to Kangxi’s detailed analysis, Wei Xiaobao’s admiration grew from the bottom of his heart. “Supposing he saw Your Majesty that time,” he said, “Your Majesty could enlighten him well, maybe he would not dare to revolt.”
Kangxi shook his head. “At that time I was too young,” he said, “I did not understand military and national affairs. If I did see him, I would not have any formidable things to say to him, he might rise in rebellion sooner.” And then he inquired in details Wu Sangui’s appearance and mannerism. He also asked, “About that white tiger skin in his study, what exactly is that?”
Wei Xiaobao was greatly surprised; he described the appearance of the white tiger skin, and then said, “Even small matter like that Your Majesty also knows.”
Kangxi smiled, but did not say anything. He then asked about Wu Sangui’s troops and horses deployment, about the temperament and talent of the ten great zongbing [regional commander] under Wu Sangui’s employment. In these questions, he seemed to have a detailed knowledge of Wu Sangui’s situation; he knew which great general under Wu Sangui who was greedy for money, which one was given to lust, which one was courageous, which one was muddleheaded. He clearly understood everything.
Wei Xiaobao was already stunned, now he was full of admiration. “Your Majesty,” he said, “You have not been to Yunnan, yet you know about Ping Xi Wang Mansion’s inside situation better than your servant.” He suddenly realized, “Ah, right, you must have sent not a few spies to Kunming.”
Kangxi laughed and said, “This is called ‘know yourself, know your enemy, emerge victorious in every battle’. He wholeheartedly wants to rebel, do you think we will simply ignore him? Xiao Guizi, your merit this time is very big, you managed to verify Wu Sangui’s collusion with Tibet, Mongolia and Luocha Country. My spies are not able to uncover this big secret. They can only find minor matters, but cannot investigate important matters.”
Wei Xiaobao felt the bones in his body were considerably lighter. “This is all due to Your Majesty’s flood of good fortune fills the heavens,” he said.
Kangxi said, “Bring that Hantiemo into the Palace; let me interrogate him personally.” Wei Xiaobao complied. Leading ten Imperial Bodyguards, he brought Hantiemo to the Upper Study Room.
As soon as Kangxi saw him, he started questioning him in Mongolian. Hantiemo was surprised to hear his native tongue Mongolian was spoken, but he also felt warmness in his heart. Seeing the grandeur of the Palace, he no longer dared to cover up the truth, he told Kangxi everything he wanted to know ‘in fives and tens’.
Kangxi interrogated him for more than four hours; other than about the collusion between Mongolia and Wu Sangui, he also asked in detail about Mongolian military strength and disposition, the monetary, grain and production situation, the mountain and river topography, local conditions and customs, as well as various Mongolian ruling class, the princes and dukes: who were astute, who were mediocre, who had enmity with whom, and who had close relationship with whom.
All along Wei Xiaobao was waiting on Kangxi on the side, listening to these two people talking gibberish incessantly. He saw sometimes Hantiemo looked impressed, some other times he looked afraid, until finally he went down on his knees and kowtowed repeatedly, as if he was expressing a deep gratitude. And then Kangxi ordered an Imperial Bodyguard to take Hantiemo back to prison.
A little eunuch delivered a bowl of ginseng soup. Kangxi received it and drank it. He said to the little eunuch, “Pour another bowl for Wei Fu Zongguan [deputy chief].” Wei Xiaobao kowtowed to express his gratitude for the kindness shown, and drank the soup.
They heard the sound of footsteps outside the Study Room. A little eunuch appeared and said, “Reporting to Your Majesty: Nan Huairen and Tang Ruowang are here to serve Your Majesty.” Kangxi nodded. The little eunuch called out the notification. Two big and tall foreigners came in, kneeled down and kowtowed before Kangxi.
Wei Xiaobao was greatly surprised; he mused, “How come we have foreign devils in the Palace? This is really strange.”
After doing their obeisance, the two foreigners both took a scroll from their bosom, and placed the scrolls on Kangxi’s desk. The younger one, the foreigner by the name of Nan Huairen said, “Your Majesty, we are going to discuss about the shooting of the cannon today.”
Wei Xiaobao could hear Beijing dialect in his speech, sharp, clear and fluent; he could not help but exclaiming in surprise. In great amazement he thought, “Strange, strange, very strange; the devils cannot release foreign fart.”
Kangxi laughed at Wei Xiaobao, and then he turned his attention to the scroll on his desk. Nan Huairen stood by Kangxi’s side; with finger on the scroll he made some explanations. Whenever Kangxi saw something he did not understand, he immediately asked.
Nan Huairen talked for about an hour. The other foreigner, the old and white-bearded Tang Ruowang, continued by speaking about astronomy and calendar system; he also talked for about an hour. And then the two of them kowtowed and withdrew.
Kangxi laughed and said, “The foreigners speak our Chinese language, you were surprised, weren’t you?”
“At first your servant felt it was very strange,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “But after thinking about it, I am not surprised anymore. The Sacred Son of Heaven is blessed by a hundred gods. The Luocha Country conspires against you, the Heaven then sent two foreign devils who can speak Chinese language to assist the Sacred Dynasty in manufacturing firearms to sweep away the Luocha.”
Kangxi said, “Your mind is quick. However, the foreign devils can speak Chinese is not due to divine providence. That old man arrived in China during the Ming’s Tianqi Emperor; he is a German. The younger one is from Belgium, he came during Shunzhi’s reign. They are Jesuits clergymen, and came to China to do missionary work. To preach, they need to learn how to speak Chinese.”
“So that’s how it is,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Your servant has always been worried that Luocha Country’s firearms too formidable. After listening to those foreigner talking clearly and logically about those cannon or short gun today, I am relieved.”
Kangxi paced back and forth slowly in the Study Room. “Luocha people are humans,” he said, “We are also humans. If they can build firearms, we can do the same thing. It’s just that all along we did not understand how. When we fought the Ming Dynasty at Liaodong Peninsula in the past, the Ming troops had cannon, we suffered quite a bit of defeat. Taizu Huangdi [posthumous title for the founder of a dynasty] was injured by gunfire, he rode the dragon and returned to Heaven. However, didn’t we still manage to take the Ming Dynasty’s land under the heavens? It can be seen clearly that firearm is important for the people to use, but if the people using it fail to live up to expectations, even a more formidable firearm will be worthless.”
“Turns out Ming Dynasty had cannon,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I wonder where are those cannons now? We can take them and blast ws that old fellow, blast him one Buddha get reborn, two Buddhas ascend to heaven!” [not sure about this]
Kangxi smiled and said, “Ming Dynasty’s cannons were only a few, they were purchased from Aomen’s [Macao] red-haired people. Only buying the devils’ firearm is useless. If we fight a battle against the devils, they will refuse to sell it to us, won’t that be terrible? We must build it ourselves, then we won’t be afraid other people would make us desperate.”
“Very true, very true,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Your Majesty is still concerned that those Jesuits clergymen would build western cowrie shells to swindle you, thus you personally want to know how to do it. From now on, let those devils give an exaggerated account of things, trying to confuse you [orig. seven meat eight elements], you won’t be deceived.”
“You understand my intention,” Kangxi said, “The technique to build firearm is very complicated and very difficult. Just to refine the highest quality fine iron is greatly not easy.”
“Your Majesty, let me go get all blacksmith inside and outside of Beijing,” Wei Xiaobao volunteered, “We call them together, everybody pump the bellows, push and pull, push and pull, refine several million catties of those fine iron.”
Kangxi laughed and said, “When you were in Yunnan, we have already refined several tens of thousands catties of fine iron. Tang Ruowang and Nan Huairen are in the process of supervising the building of cannons. When the time comes, you will come with me to take a look.”
Wei Xiaobao was delighted. “That is very good,” he said. Suddenly he remembered something and said, “Your Majesty, foreign devils are malicious and two-faced, we must guard against either one of those. The place we build cannon will have gunpowder and lots of ironware. Your Majesty must not go personally, let your servant supervise it for you.”
“No need to be worried,” Kangxi said, “This matter concerns the country’s destiny. I won’t feel reassured if I do not see it with my own eyes. Nan Huairen is loyal and upright. Tang Ruowang’s old life was rescued by me, he is very grateful to me. These two men can’t possibly have different feelings toward me.”
“Unexpectedly Your Majesty has saved the foreign old devil’s old life,” Wei Xiaobao said, “That is indeed strange.”
Kangxi smiled and said, “Kangxi’s third year, Tang Ruowang said that the imperial observatory’s calculation of the solar eclipse contains errors; he and the imperial observatory’s Chinese officials had a sharp debate. Imperial observatory Chinese official Yang Guangxian argued, but failed to find any flaw in Tang Ruowang’s argument; hence he submitted a memorial to the throne, saying that Tang Ruowang formulated the document ‘Great Qing Constitution Period Calendar’, in which he calculated a total of two hundred years. But our Great Qing has obtained the Heaven’s provision, the divine blessing has no bound, our rivers and mountains will last tens of thousands of years. Tang Ruowang’s calendar stops at only two hundred years. Isn’t that the same as putting a curse on our Great Qing that it will only last for two hundred years?”
Wei Xiaobao stuck out his tongue. “Formidable, formidable! This foreign old devil can calculate astronomy and geography, but he cannot calculate the trick of the government official.”
“Isn’t that so?” Kangxi said, “At that time Oboi was in power. That fellow randomly accused Tang Ruowang of cursing the imperial court, hence he deserved to be executed by lingering death. The decree was sent to me to review, immediately I was able to see a flaw in it.”
 My dictionary did not give me any names, but Yahoo! Babelfish returned ‘Ferdinand Verbiest’. Wikipedia has an article on him. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Verbiest
 Johann Adam Schall von Bell, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tang_Ruowang
 Regnal name of the 15th Ming Emperor, Zhu Youxiao (1605-1627), reigned 1620-1627. Zhu Youxiao (or Youjiao?) also appeared in Liang Yusheng’s White Haired Demoness.
 Yang Guangxian, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yang_Guangxian (Courtesy of Smurf120)