I have much to tell you. Your brother Chih-peh will soon be married so we will soon have a new daughter-in-law in the household. You know he has long been betrothed to Li-ti, the daughter-in-law in the household. You know he has long been betrothed to Li-ti, the daughter of the Governor of Chih-li, and soon the bride will be here. We have been arranging her apartments.
Many tales have been brought to us of her great beauty, and we hear she has much education. Your August Mother is much disturbed over the latter, as she says that over-learning is not good for women. For I -I am srecretly delighted, and Mah-li, your sister, is transported with joy.
We have other news. A new slave-girl has come into household…
We have our new daughter-in-law. Not only have we a daughter-in-law, but we have her servants and household furnishing and clothing- and clothing- and clothing. I am sure that if her gowns could be laid side by side, they would reach round the world. An army encamped upon us could not have so upset our household as the arrival of this one maiden. She has brought with her rugs to cover the floors, embroideries and hangings for the walls, scrolls and sayings of Confucicus and Menicus- to show us that she is an admirer of the classics- screens for the doorways, even a huge bed, aqll carved and gilded.
Your Honourable Mother, after viewing the goods piled in the courtyard, called her servants and told us she was taking tea with a fiend in the village of Sung-dong. I think she chose this friend because she lives the farthest from our compound walls. I alone was left to direct the placing of this furniture. Li-ti was like a butterfly, fitting hither and thither, doing nothing, talking much. The bed must be so placed that the Spirits of Evil passing over it in the night-time could not take the souls of the sleepers away with them. The screens must stand at the proper angle guarding the doorways from the spirits who, in their straight, swift flight through the air, fall against these screens instead of entering the houser. She solemnly explained to me the souls who dwell in darkness like to come to live in newly organised households, and many precautions must be taken agaist them…
Li-ti takes her duties now most seriously, these same duties consisting of dressing for the day. In the morning she seats herself before the mirror, and two maids attend her, one to hold the great brass bowl of water, the other to hand her the implements of her toilet. While the face is warm , she covers it with honey mixed with perfume, and applies the rice-powder until her skin is as white as the rice itself. Then the cheeks are rouged, a touch of red is placed upon the lower lip, the eyebrows are shaped like the willow leaf, and the hair is dressed. Her hair is wonderful( but I say within my heart, not so long or so thick as mine) and she adorns it with many jewels of jade and pearls. Over her soft clothing of fine linen she draws the rich embroidered robes of silk and satin. Then her jewels, ear-rings, beads, bracelets, ring, the tiny mirror in the embroidered case, the bag with its rouge and powder fastened to her side by long red tassels. When all things are in place, she rises, a thing of beauty from her shining hair to the toe of her tiny embroidered shoe. I watch her with a little envy, because when you were here I did the same. Now that my husband is always, it is not right that Imake muself too attractive for other eyes.
Your Mother says Li-ti is over-vain and repeats to her saying,’ more precious in a woman is a virtuous heart than a face of beauty.’; But Chih-peh, your brother, is inexpressibly happy. He adores his pretty blossom.