Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Dage, quickly lead the troops to urge them to stop fighting. This time you can grab the Ol’ Tai’s pigtail, I guarantee that from now on the Vanguard Battalion will never dare to go against us, the Imperial Bodyguards.”
Reminded by Wei Xiaobao, Dolong was greatly delighted. He slapped his own forehead and said with a laugh, “I am such a muddle head! Such a good opportunity and I almost miss it. Brothers, let us all go to watch the excitement.” Leading the Imperial Bodyguards, he rushed toward Tian Shui Jing Alley.
Wei Xiaobao looked at Feng Xifan who was still lying on the floor; he pondered, “How am I going to handle this fellow? If I release him, he would definitely report to His Majesty. Even if he did not mention my name, His Majesty would definitely guess that I have something to do with it.” With his hands behind his back he paced back and forth in the hall. He thought further, “Come dawn, Mao Dage will be executed. How can I save his life? A big name mansion attacking the execution ground, that won’t do. Execution ground, execution ground …” Suddenly he remembered the opera ‘exchanging a child on the execution ground’. “That’s it! Xue Gang ran into misfortune, he was executed along with his whole family unto the third generation. There was a white-bearded old man, Xu somebody, who took his own child to the execution ground and exchanged the child with the baby Xue somebody and took him out …”
The number of opera he watched was indeed not a few, he might not be able to metion the names of the character in the play, but he remembered the stories very well. As soon as he recalled the ‘exchanging a child on the execution ground’, another opera came into his mind, “The ‘Searching alone saving alone’! This story is also not bad, there was this black-bearded man called Cheng Ying, who exchanged his own son with his master’s son, he let his own son be beheaded in order to save his master’s son’s life. It’s desperately serious. Fortunately Mao Dage’s age is not the same as my son’s. Otherwise, I would have to deliver Hutou, Tongchui to the execution ground to be beheaded in exchange for Mao Dage’s life. Although yi qi to a friend is most important, I can’t ever do this kind of matter. Very good, very good!” He kicked Feng Xifan, who was still lying on the floor, heavily and said, “Your luck is not bad, Wei Daren hereby accept you as my adopted son. Wei Daren’s real son I can’t bear to exchange, adopted son I can exchange as I wish.”
Immediately he summoned the captain of his personal guards and gave him secret orders, he gave him one thousand taels, and another thousand taels to be divided among the other personal guards who were going to handle this matter. The captain bowed to express his thanks; he said, “Daren set your heart at ease, everything will be handled properly, there will be no mistake.”
Finished making arrangement, Wei Xiaobao entered the inner hall. His seven wives and sons and daughter were summoned into the Palace by the Empress Dowager, the house was cold and cheerless. Still fully clothed he lay down in his bed for a while, soon dawn would arrive.
By the chenpai hour [5th earthly branch, 7-9am] the Palace issued an imperial edict, “Jiang Yang Da Dao [notorious criminal, see also note 6 of Chapter 2] Mao Shiba has committed treason and heresy, insulted a high-ranking minister, he is to be beheaded. The Great General Fuyuan, First-class Duke of Luding Wei Xiaobao is hereby ordered to supervise the execution.”
Wei Xiaobao received the imperial decree. Outside his mansion’s gate he selected several personal guards to accompany him. He saw Dolong, leading several dozen Imperial Bodyguards with Mao Shiba in custody, arrived. Mao Shiba’s eyes were blue, his nose swollen, his face was full of blood. It was obvious that he had received quite a beating. As soon as he saw Wei Xiaobao, he cursed and scolded, “Wei Xiaobao, you are a shameless traitor (to China). Today you become the supervising officer of Laozi’s execution, Laozi will die without any regret. Who told me that day to be so blind, that from a wh0re nest in Yangzhou I took you, this little traitor all the way to Beijing?”
The personal guards shouted at him, but Mao Shiba’s cursing was growing more vicious. Wei Xiaobao did not pay him any attention, he asked Dolong, “How was Ol’ Tai?”
Dolong laughed and said, “Last night I rushed over there, Ol’ Tai has already been grabbed by his Madame, his face was full of blood traces. As soon as he saw me, his face looked very awkward. I persuaded using all possible arguments, urging his Madame. I also took his eighth concubine into my home, and let my two concubines accompany her. Ol’ Tai showered me with a thousand thanks and ten thousand gratitudes, his appreciation was boundless.”
“What does the eighth concubine look like?” Wei Xiaobao asked with a laugh.
Dolong raised his thumb and said, “Hey, hey, amazing!”
Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You must not ‘seing a beauty conceive a scheme’, taking advantage of someone else’s misfortune!”
Dolong laughed aloud and said, “Xiongdi, set your hundred and twenty hearts at ease, how can your Dage be like that? Although Ol’ Tai is my longstanding opponent, this kind of shady business your Dage will definitely never do.”
Presently the two of them brought Mao Shiba to the execution ground at the mouth of the food market. Dolong rode a horse, Wei Xiaobao rode a large carriage. Mao Shiba sat on an open top ox cart, his hands were tied behind his back, a piece of wooden signboard was on his neck; it said, “Offender to the throne: Mao Shiba.”
The ox cart travelled along the main street from the horse and mule market westward, common people crowded by the street to watch. Along the way Mao Shiba was shouting and yelling, “After eighteen years, Laozi is still a hero, that’s why I am called Mao Shiba. I already knew that I was going to be beheaded.”
The common people by the street cheered; they praised him, “He has guts, a really tough man.”
They reached the execution ground at the mouth of the food market, at the intersection between the horse and mule market and the Xuan Wu Gate main street. That same night Wei Xiaobao’s personal guards had erected raised canopy. In front and at the rear of the canopy the security was very tight. Dolong received Kangxi’s instruction that there was a possibility Tian Di Hui would attack the execution ground, thereupon he had the Jiu Men Tidu deployed two thousand officers and men to guard all around the execution ground.
Mao Shiba stood boldly at the center of the execution ground; he shouted, “We all are the people of the Great Han, our beautiful rivers and mountains are occupied by the Tatars. There will come a day that the Tatars will be wiped out completely!”
Wei Xiaobao got down from his carriage and entered the canopy. The carriage was parked right next to the canopy. Wei Xiaobao took his seat, and then he invited Dolong to sit right next to him. Dolong knitted his brows and said, “This criminal is shouting treason and heresy, he is inciting the people in here. We must chop his head as quickly as possible.”
“Yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied. He shouted, “Bring the prisoner!”
Four personal guards pushed Mao Shiba into the canopy and pushed him down to kneel, but Mao Shiba refused to kneel no matter what.
“No need to kneel,” Wei Xiaobao said. Turning to Dolong he said, “Dage, please identify the prisoner, is he the one?”
“He is!” Dolong said.
“He is identified,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Offender to the throne: Mao Shiba.”
Picking up a vermillion brush he drew a large circle on the wooden signboard, and threw it out. A personal guard picked up the signboard and dragged Mao Shiba out.
“Duo Dage,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I want to show you something interesting.” While saying that, he took out a fold of handkerchiefs from his sleeve pocket and showed it over in front of Dolong’s face.
The handkerchief was embroidered with erotic picture. The man and woman featured in the picture looked beautiful and handsome, their posture was vivid. As soon as Dolong saw it, his eyes were glued to it. He flipped the handkerchief over, underneath was another embroidered handkerchief with different erotic picture, the posture was very strange. Dolong laughed and said, “This style looks very weird.”
Flipping the handkerchiefs over, he found more embroidered erotic pictures, the posture in each picture was weirder than the previous ones; there was one man with two women, two men and three women, and so on. Dolong just looked on and his blood was boiling. “Xiongdi,” he said with a laugh, “Where did you get this treasure? Please buy another set for your Gege.”
Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “This is Xiongdi’s gift to show filial respect to Dage.”
It was as if Dolong had just acquired the most precious treasure, smiling broadly he repeatedly said thanks, while folding the handkerchiefs and carefully put it into his pocket.
Right this moment, they heard ‘bang, bang, bang!’ the cannon fired three salvos. The captain of Wei Xiaobao’s personal guards came to report, “The time has come. Daren please supervise the execution.”
“Alright!” Wei Xiaobao replied. He stood up and pulled Dolong’s hand to walk out of the canopy together.
They saw Mao Shiba kneeling in the execution ground with his head hung dejectedly, as if he had lost his consciousness. The drummer began to beat the drum. When the drum stopped, the executioner, draped with red hood over his head, raised his arm, and swung the ghost-headed saber down. Immediately the convict’s head rolled. The executioner’s left foot flew, he kicked the head away. The convict’s body slumped forward with blood gushing out of his neck.
“It’s done,” Dolong said, “Let us part now. I am going to see His Majesty to report the completion of the imperial decree.”
Wei Xiaobao choked with sobs. “Duo Dage,” he said, “This man had deep friendship with me. It’s just that His Majesty’s order was very strict that I was not able to save him. Ay!” While saying that, he used his sleeve to wipe the tears; sobbing and sniffling, he cried loudly.
Dolong sighed and said, “Xiongdi indeed has enough yi qi. You may prepare his body for burial well; give him proper burial, this way you are not letting the dead down.” Wei Xiaobao complied, then he continued crying.
When Wei Xiaobao used his sleeve to wipe the tears, he actually had fresh ginger in his sleeve, with which he rubbed his eyes. The pungent ginger made his eyes red and made him shedding tears continuously, but in his heart he was laughing, delighted that his scheme was successful. Dolong comforted him some more and walked him to his carriage before he himself mounted his horse and left. Surrounded by his personal guards he rode the carriage back to his duke mansion. Several personal guards rolled the convict’s body in a straw mat and placed the body in a coffin that was prepared earlier on the side, and then they nailed the coffin’s lid solid.
The common people who were witnessing the execution expressed their opinions. They all said that at the death’s door Mao Shiba still dared to swear and curse, he was a real hero. Yet some who were afraid of getting involved reprimanded the others, saying that the offender to the throne spoke treason and heresy, hence they should not praise him to avoid any disaster befalling them.
When Wei Xiaobao reached his mansion, he got off the carriage; but the carriage quietly continued southward, out of Beijing, all the way to the south, heading toward Yangzhou. Wei Xiaobao then went to the Palace to report the completion of the imperial decree. Kangxi immediately granted him an audience.
Kangxi had received Dolong’s report, and knew that when supervising the execution of Mao Shiba, Wei Xiaobao did not stop crying. This time, seeing Wei Xiaobao’s red eyes, Kangxi felt sorry and rather uneasy; he thought that Wei Xiaobao attached most importance to loyalty, it was a rare trait. After consoling him warmly for a bit, Kangxi said, “Xiao Guizi, those Luocha troops you captured, the majority asked me to set them free to return to their country. I have already released them, but there are about two hundred who wish to remain in China.”
Wei Xiaobao said, “Beijing is livelier and more fun compared to Moscow. Following His Majesty and working for you will be a lot better-off than working for those two unfit for anything Luocha young Tsars.”
Kangxi smiled and said, “I organized these Luocha troops into two ‘Russian Companies’, and put these two companies under your command. You must control them well, don’t let them create any trouble in the Capital.”
Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted; he kneeled down to express his gratitude. Outside the Palace, the two Luocha companies had already been waiting outside the Gate of Supreme Harmony by the Jinshui [golden water] Bridge. The Luocha troops were wearing new Qing troop uniform, bright, neat and well-fitting; they looked really impressive. Wei Xiaobao issued his order: each man received twenty taels and was granted three days furlough. The Luocha troops cried out, “Wula!” incessantly.
Until the end of Kangxi’s reign, these Luocha troops were serving in the Qing army, they were loyal and were not double-minded. When foreign nation’s ambassador came to Beijing, they saw Chinese Emperor employed Luocha officers and men, no one was not impressed. It was not until these Luocha troops gradually died of old age that the ‘Russian Company’ organizations began to dissolve.
(Book note: Concerning the details of the captured Luocha troops serving in the Qing army, please see Yu Zhengxie’s ‘Guizi [thirtieth year of the 60 year cycle] Class Manuscript’ volume IX, ‘Examining the Russian Company’. In Xiao Yishan’s [1902-1978] ‘General History of the Qing Dynasty’, it was written that ‘the prisoners were offered to stay in the Capital, to receive the Emperor’s pardon and were organized into companies, comprised solely of Russian ethnicity. Their offspring still exist today.’ These Russian men intermarried with Chinese women and produced children.)
Back to his mansion, Wei Xiaobao saw that the Princess, along with his six other wives and three sons and daughter, had returned from the Palace. Every one received not a few rewards from the Empress Dowager, but the Princess did not look happy. Wei Xiaobao asked, and learned that the Empress Dowager treated everyone equally favorably, although the Princess was her own daughter, she did not utter half a word of affection to her. Naturally Wei Xiaobao understood the reason behind it; he thought, “Empress Dowager did not particularly treat you badly, it was because she was looking at your husband’s face.” He said, “Empress Dowager is very thoughtful, she was afraid that if she is particularly good to you, the six Meimei would be jealous.”
The Princess angrily said, “She is my own mother, if she is a bit good to me, how can they be jealous?”
Wei Xiaobao embraced her and said with a laugh, “I am particularly good to you, let’s see if they are going to be jealous or not?” The women chattered continuously, they all laughed together. The Princess was a frank person, as soon as everybody broke into chatting and laughing, she felt better already.
Hereafter in the next ten days or so, one after another the princes, dukes and high-ranking ministers invited Wei Xiaobao for a banquet to congratulate him on his meritorious service. He went to the opera, he gambled; not a single evening he was idle.
One day Dolong paid him a visit, telling him that Feng Xifan had been missing for more than ten days. His family had already reported to Shun Tian Fu. Dolong asked in a low voice, “Xiongdi, what happened after we beat him up that night?”
“Afterwards I sent him home,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “I wonder where has that fellow gone?”
“You didn’t kill him, did you?” Dolong asked.
Wei Xiaobao replied, “If I sent people to kill him, you would be standing at the side, watching. Duo Dage, did you see me doing that?”
“No, no,” Dolong said, “We only beat him up severely; when did we kill him?”
“That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Ever since Xiongdi received the imperial order to lead the troops, although I have given up the Fu Zongguan [deputy chief] position, but as long as it is related to the Imperial Bodyguards, no matter what kind of responsibility, Xiongdi will definitely face it together with Dage.”
 See Note 13, Chapter 34. Shuntian Fu can be used to refer to either Shuntian Prefecture or the prefect’s office, or even the prefect himself. Prefect of Shuntian Prefecture title was fǔyǐn (府尹) and of rank 3a. Prefects of other prefectures such as Yangzhou and Huizhou title was zhīfǔ (知府) and of rank 4b. Jin Yong used zhīfǔ for Prefect of Shuntian. (Additional info courtesy of Ace High)