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The Deer and the Cauldron Chapter 48

Chapter 48
Duhu cannot establish Yumen [jade gate] Pass, generals attach utmost importance to copper pillar as boundary marker.

That evening Wei Xiaobao and Shuang’er went to sleep in the governor-general’s bedroom. The fire was blazing high in the stove, they had fox fur quilt and sable fur mattress, the room was as warm as spring. This was the place he had previously visited. He opened the lid of the big wooden chest by the bed to look, inside the chest there were army uniforms and some firearms.

Shuang’er smiled and said, “Xianggong is hoping that a Luocha Princess is going to come out of the chest, right?”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You are a Chinese Princess, much better than a Luocha Princess.”

Shuang’er said with a laugh, “Too bad your Chinese Princess is in Beijing, she is not here.”

“Good Shuang’er,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Don’t you agree that today we have achieved ‘great success’?”

Shuang’er smiled sweetly, her cheeks blushed. Although she and Wei Xiaobao had been husband and wife for a long time, hearing her husband’s teasing she was still very bashful.

Wei Xiaobao wrapped his arm around her waist, the two of them sat side-by-side on the bed. Wei Xiaobao said, “You pieced together the map, spending not a few heart’s blood, in the end we reached Mount Luding, His Majesty conferred me the title Duke of Mount Luding, most likely he would let me govern this city. Underneath this mountain countless gold, pearls and treasured objects are hidden, we can slowly dig it out. I, Wei Xiaobao can change my name to ‘Wei Duobao’ [‘xiaobao’ – little treasure, ‘duobao’ – lots of treasure].”

Shuang’er said, “Xianggong already has a lot of gold and silver, you won’t be able to spend it all in several lifetimes; more pearls and jewels will be useless. I think becoming Wei Xiaobao is better.”

Wei Xiaobao gently kissed her face. “Right, right!” he said, “These days I cannot make up my mind. If I dig the treasure up, I am afraid I would sever the Manchuria’s dragon’s vein, and kill the Emperor. His Majesty always treated me not too badly, if he is killed, I would be rather unfair to him. But if I don’t dig the treasure, I feel it’s a pity. So, let us for the time being not dig the treasure out, wait ‘till His Majesty’s imperial self ascend to heaven, we turn poor and are hungry, then at that time we will dig.”

At this point, suddenly they heard a light ‘crack’ in the wooden chest. The two of them signaled each other with their eyes, while fixing their gaze on the wooden chest; after quite a while, however, nothing astir. Wei Xiaobao lightly clapped his hands three times, Shuang’er went over to the door and opened it, the four personal guards on duty outside the room bowed to receive the order. Wei Xiaobao pointed to the wooden chest and said in a low voice, “Someone’s inside!”

The four personal guards were shocked. They rushed over to the chest and opened the lid, but saw the chest was full of clothes. Wei Xiaobao signaled with his hands, the personal guards moved the clothes away, and lifted up the bottom of the chest, revealing a big hole. Right this moment, ‘Bang!’ a shot rang from the hole. “Ah!” one of the personal guards cried out as his shoulder was hit by the bullet and he tumbled backward.

Shuang’er hastily pulled Wei Xiaobao back and shielded him with her own body. Wei Xiaobao pointed to the charcoal stove and made a sign of dumping it. A personal guard picked up the charcoal stove and poured the blazing coals into the hole. They heard someone inside the hole cried out in Luocha language, “Don’t dump fire, I surrender!” followed by a series of coughing.

Wei Xiaobao called out using Luocha language, “Throw your guns up first, and then climb out.”

A short gun was tossed out of the hole, followed by a Luocha soldier’s head. A personal guard grabbed his hair and pulled him up, another personal guard pressed a saber on his neck. The Luocha soldier’s beard was caught on fire and it has not been extinguished; he was in so much pain that he bawled out ‘wah, wah!’ while climbing out of the hole in a very difficult situation.

“Anybody else down there?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

Someone in the hole cried out, “There’s one more! Surrender! Surrender!”

“Throw your gun up!” Wei Xiaobao shouted. With a white flash a cavalry sword was thrown up the hole, followed by a ball of fire appeared. Turned out this Luocha soldier’s hair was on fire.

The other personal guards outside heard the commotion in the Grand Marshal’s room, several of them rushed in. Seven or eight personal guards grabbed the two Luocha soldiers and put out the flame on the two’s head and beard before tying their hands behind their backs.

Wei Xiaobao suddenly pointed to one of the Luocha soldiers and called out, “Hey, you are Wangba Siji [lit. tortoise (b@stard) dead chicken].”

The soldier’s face lit up. “Yes, yes,” he said, “Chinese little child high-ranking official, I am Huabosiji [needless to say, completely different set of characters. Vassili Poyarkov (Courtesy of Ace High)].”

The other Luocha soldier also called out, “Chinese little child high-ranking official, I … I am Qiluonuofu [Onufriy Stepanov (Courtesy of Ace High)].”

Wei Xiaobao stared at him for half a day; he noticed that his beard was burned into a mess, his face was red and swollen, but in the end he recognized him. “Right!” he said with a laugh, “You are Zhuluonuofu [lit. pig tribe coward]!”

Stepanov was greatly delighted. “Right, right!” he called out, “Chinese little child high-ranking official, I am your old friend.”

Poyarkov and Stepanov were Princess Sophia’s bodyguards. That year from Yakesa they travelled back to Moscow together with Wei Xiaobao. The two of them joined the gunmen rebellion at the Hunting Palace, and had rendered great merit. After Princess Sophia grasped the power, she rewarded the imperial guards and promoted her personal bodyguards to be captains. Four of them went to the east wanting to render more merit and get rich. When the city fell, one died in battle, one froze to death, the other two quietly slipped into the underground tunnel, thinking that they could escape out of the city. Who would have thought that the tunnel entrance outside the city was already blocked long ago? These two men could not advance or retreat, finally their trail was discovered.

In those days Wei Xiaobao called them ‘turtle b@stard dead chicken’ and ‘pig tribe coward’, how could the two of them understand the meaning? They only thought that the Chinese little child could not pronounce their names properly, hence they responded. They heard the Princess calling him ‘Chinese little child’, then they simply followed their example by calling him ‘Chinese little child’. After Wei Xiaobao rendered meritorious service, the Princess conferred him a nobility title. Thereupon the bodyguards also called him the ‘Chinese little child high-ranking official’.

Wei Xiaobao told them to tell him their story, and then he ordered his personal guards to untie them, and to take them out and serve them wine and food.

The personal guards were afraid there were more spies in the tunnel, they went into the tunnel and searched carefully. Only after verifying that there was no other tunnel leading to the city wall did they withdraw from Wei Xiaobao’s presence. The personal guards’ captain was terrified and repeatedly admitting his guilt; he thought that he was indeed very luckly, if these two Luocha troops came out in the middle of the night and murdered Grand Marshal Wei, the captain would have been executed along with his whole family unto the third generation.

The next morning Wei Xiaobao summoned Poyarkov and Stepanov, two people, and asked them the current situation of Princess Sophia. The two of them said that Her Highness the Princess was the Premier over the imperial court. The entire Luocha country, the princes and dukes, high-ranking ministers, generals and bishops, nobody dared to disobey her. The two Tsars were still young, in everything they obeyed their older sister.

Stepanov said, “Her Highness the Princess miss Chinese little child high-ranking official very much, she sent us here to find any news about you. She told us that when we see you, we must invite you back to Moscow to play, Princess will heavily reward you.”

Poyarkov said, “Her Highness the Princess did not know that Chinese little child high-ranking official led the troops here to fight. Otherwise, we all are beloved sweethearts, we all are old friends, there is no need to fight the battle.”

“You are speaking nonsense,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You lie!” The two of them swore an oath, saying that what they said was absolutely true, definitely not a lie.

Wei Xiaobao pondered, “His Majesty actually wanted me to find a way to make peace with Luocha country, there’s no harm in having these two fellows convey my message to Princess Sophia.” He said, “I’m going to write a letter, I want you to deliver it to the Princess, but I can’t write Luocha earthworm characters, you write the letter for me.”

Poyarkov and Stepanov looked at each other in dismay; they both had an awkward expression on their faces. They only knew how to ride horse and shoot firearms, but when it comes to take up the pen and write, it did not even enter a single aperture of their head. Stepanov said, “Chinese little child high-ranking official wants to write a letter, the two of us cannot do it. We … we go find a priest to write.” Wei Xiaobao agreed, he ordered his personal guards to take these two men to the Luocha prisoners to find someone who can write.

Shortly afterwards, the two of them returned with a full-bearded army chaplain. At that time most of Luocha troops were illiterate; other than praying on their behalf and counseling the troops on spiritual matters, these clergies also had a very important duty, namely, writing letters for these troops to be sent home. The chaplain was wearing Qing troop uniform, but the uniform was too small; it looked as if the clothes were ready to burst at any time, he looked very ridiculous.

Trembling with fear, the clergy followed the two captains to see Wei Xiaobao. He said, “May God bless Chinese Great General, the Great Nobility, I wish for the Chinese Great General’s entire family to be safe and sound.”

Wei Xiaobao told him to sit down; he said, “I want you to write a letter for me, to be sent to your Princess Sophia.” The clergy repeatedly said yes.

Wei Xiaobao’s personal guards had already prepared the four treasures of the study [i.e. brush, ink, paper, and ink stone] on the table. The clergy picked the brush, spread the paper, and wrote curvy Luocha characters. He felt the brush was too soft, the stroke varied thick and thin uncontrollably; it was unspeakably difficult, yet he did not dare to criticize Chinese pen and ink even for half a sentence, for fear that he might provoke this Chinese general.

Wei Xiaobao said, “You write: Since we parted, I often miss Princess, I only wish I could marry the Princess and take you as my wife …”

The clergy jumped in fright. The brush dripped a blot of ink on the paper. Stepanov said, “This Chinese little child high-ranking official is Her Highness Princess Sophia’s lover. Her Highness the Princess loves him very much, she often says that Chinese lover surpasses Luocha lover a hundred times.” He wanted to curry Wei Xiaobao’s favor, inevitably he exaggerated greatly.

The clergy nodded repeatedly. “Yes, yes,” he said, “Surpasses a hundred times.” His heart was shaken, his train of thought in writing was distracted, but he did not dare to write what Wei Xiaobao had said verbatim; he had no choice but to write some cliché that he usually wrote, which was the letter from the soldiers to their wives at home, some corny sentences like ‘my dear sweetheart’, or ‘last night I dreamed about you’, or ‘I want to kiss you ten thousand times’, et cetera.

Seeing his brush moved like flying, Wei Xiaobao was very satisfied; he said, “You, Luocha troops, occupy our Chinese territory, you killed many Chinese common people, the Great Emperor of China is very angry, he sent me leading the troops here, to catch all of you. I want to cut them all piece by piece, to roast them into ‘xiashunike’ …”

The clergy was startled, “Ah!” he exclaimed, “Oh my God!”

Wei Xiaobao continued, “But looking at you, the Princess’ face, I am not going to cut and roast them for the time being. If you promise that later on Luocha troops will not come again to violate our Chinese boundary, China and Luocha country will become friends forever. If you don’t obey, I will send troops to wipe out your Luocha men, and then you won’t have any Luocha men to accompany you in bed. If you want a man to sleep with you, you can only find Chinese man in the world.”

The clergy disagreed greatly in his heart; he thought, “Other than Luocha men, there are only Chinese men in the world, this sentence is too illogical.” He also thought that this kind of disrespectful sentences should never be written to the Princess; therefore, he decided to revise these several sentences with more respectful and intimate ones, presuming that this Chinese general would not know the difference anyway. But he was a careful man; afraid that his trickery would be discovered, he changed these several sentences into Latin. After he was done, he could not refrain from smiling.

Wei Xiaobao continued, “Now I am sending Wangba Siji and Zhuluonuofu to deliver this letter to you, along with my gifts. Whether you wish to be my lover or my enemy, you must decide for yourself.”

The clergy also changed the last sentence to a very respectful one. He wrote, “Cherishing the memory of Your Highness’ grace, the Chinese young minister sincerely offers tribute, as a token of his devotion and honesty. The young minister has grown over the year, but he has never been double-minded toward Her Highness. He hopes both countries to become reconciled, so that the Luocha army and civilian prisoners can be returned to their homeland; this would be Your Highness immeasurable benevolence.” This last sentence was due to his own selfish desire; he thought that if the two countries could not find agreement, he and the rest of the surrendering Luocha people would undoubtedly die in a foreign land, and would not return to their homeland forever.

When he finished writing, Wei Xiaobao said, “That’s it. Read it again for me.”

Holding the letter with both hands, the clergy read aloud; but when he reached the part where he revised the wording, he recited Wei Xiaobao’s original wording. Wei Xiaobao’s comprehension of Luocha language was rather limited. He heard the letter was seemingly more or less correct, how could he ever suspect that the clergy had the impertinence to alter it at will? He nodded his head and said, “Very good!” He took out the golden official seal ‘Fuyuan Great General Wei’ and stamped the letter using vermillion ink.

This letter was not exactly a love letter, yet it was not exactly an official document either. He ordered his guards to give the clergy a reward, and to summon the army secretary to put the letter into an envelope and write Princess Sophia’s name in Chinese characters on the envelope.

The secretary ground the ink stick to make thick ink. Dipping his brush he started to write the first line, ‘The Great Qing’s Fuyuan Great General Duke of Luding Wei offers the letter.’ The second line was, ‘E’Luosi Queen Regent Sufeixia [苏飞霞] Her Highness the Princess Gulunchang.’

The two-character ‘Luocha’ in Buddhist texts carried the meaning of ‘devil’, for this reason it was called ‘E’guo’ [i.e. another name for Russia in Chinese], to avoid giving any offense; in the formal document, it became ‘E’Luosi’. The secretary also felt that the three-character ‘Su fei ya’ [苏菲亚] did not sound too elegant, since the character ‘fei’ would remind people of ‘luxurious fragrant grass’ [芳草菲菲 (fang cao fei fei)], which would appear to be mocking her entire body which was covered in hair; thereupon he changed it into ‘Su fei xia’ [‘fei xia’ means flying red cloud], an allusion to the classical quotation ‘in the red cloud of the setting sun, a flock of ducks fly’, as well as the idiom ‘like red clouds hitting someone in the face’ to describe a woman’s beauty. Princess Gulun Chang was a title granted to the Qing Dynasty’s most respected Princess. The Emperor’s older or younger sisters were ‘Princess Chang’, the Emperor’s daughter was ‘Princess’. Since this noble woman was the Regent, plus she was the older sister of the two side-by-side Tsars, naturally she was a first-class princess.

When the secretary heard Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “This Luocha Princess has personal relationship with me. We have not seen each other for several years, I wonder how is she?” he added two more lines on the envelope: ‘Matter of personal, military, and the good fortune of the country. Like harmonious music, if there is any discordant, please take part in building harmony.’ [Translator’s note: sorry, it’s beyond me.] He thought that too bad the Luochas were unlearned nation that they could not necessarily understand Chinese classical works, or catch the meaning of play on words, or even analyze it, so that to them this quotation from the ‘Mr. Zuo’s annals’ was like a blind looking at smart countenance, inevitably this was a case of ‘pearls cast before swine’; he could not help but sigh.

Actually, not only the Chinese characters ‘E’Luosi Queen Regent Sufeixia Her Highness the Princess Gulunchang’ were foreign to Wei Xiaobao, even the phrase ‘The Great Qing’s Fuyuan Great General Duke of Luding Wei’, other than his own surname and two ‘da’ [大, from ‘Great Qing’ and ‘Great General’] characters, he did not recognize a single character. Seeing the secretary wrote lines of character in front of and at the back of the envelope, he said, “Enough, enough. Your handwriting is very good, a lot better than the Luocha’s big beard.”

He ordered to have the secretary rewarded by precious gift, fortunately it came from the treasury of the captured Yakesa, he did not need to spend a single wen of his own capital. And then he had Poyarkov and Stepanov, two captains, summoned to his presence. He instructed the two of them to select one hundred Luocha soldiers as their escort, and to deliver the letter to Moscow immediately. The two captains were overjoyed at this unexpected news; they did not stop bowing to express their gratitude, they also picked up Wei Xiaobao’s hand and repeatedly kissed the back of his hand. Tickled by the two men’s moustache, Wei Xiaobao was unable to refrain from laughing aloud.

The city of Yakesa was small, it could not hold the entire army. After discussing this matter with Songgotu and the imperial envoy, Wei Xiaobao assigned Lang Tan and Lin Xingzhu with two thousand troops to guard the city, while the main force would withdraw to the south, to Aigun and Kumarsk two cities to wait for the imperial decree. Before leaving, Wei Xiaobao solemnly warned Lang Tan and Lin Xingzhu, two people, not to dig well or excavate any tunnel within Yakesa’s city walls.

The army marched south. Wei Xiaobao, Songgotu, Peng Chun and the others were stationed at Aigun. Sabusu let the other army unit to be stationed at Kumarsk. Wei Xiaobao ordered the surrendering Luocha troops to wear Qing army uniform, and sent someone to teach them Chinese language. He had them memorize sentences like ‘Long live, long, long live to Our Emperor’, ‘The Holy Son of Heaven lives ten thousand years of boundless longevity’, ‘Chinese Emperor’s virtue reaches the four oceans, his imperial kindness vast and mighty’, and some others, and then he dispatched troops to escort them to Beijing. He told the prisoners to shout loudly along the main streets of Beijing, and when they had an audience with Kangxi, they must shout even louder. He said that the louder and more energetic they shout, the Emperor would reward them even more handsomely.

Several months passed, the winter turned into spring. Although in Aigun Wei Xiaobao lived comfortably, he missed Ah Ke, Su Quan, and his other wives, as well as Hutou and the others, his sons and daughter. He even dispatched his personal guards to deliver gifts back home. In return, his six wives also sent back clothing and other supplies. They all knew that he was illiterate, hence they did not send any letter; they only told the personal guards to convey their oral message: everybody in the family, big and small, were safe and sound; they all hoped the Grand Marshal would return triumphantly soon.

More than twenty days later, Kangxi’s written imperial order arrived; he greatly commended the officers and soldiers who went to war. Wei Xiaobao was promoted to be Duke of Luding, Second-class, the rest of the officers and soldiers were also promoted one rank. The imperial envoy who delivered the imperial edict handed a small wooden case sealed with burned lacquer to Wei Xiaobao, saying that it was a gift from the Emperor. Wei Xiaobao kowtowed to express his gratitude before opening the wooden case; he could not help but staring blankly. Inside the box was a golden rice bowl. The bowl was engraved with these four characters: ‘Gong Zhong Ti Guo’ [serving one’s country loyally’]; very likely it was the rice bowl Shi Lang gave him in the past. It’s just that the engraving was damaged, but was repaired.

Wei Xiaobao remembered that he left this golden bowl in his earl mansion at Tong Mao Alley; that night he escaped in panic, hence he did not bring it along. After thinking for a while, he understood the reason. After bombarding the earl mansion that night, the Vanguard Regiment sergeants must have been searching through the ruins to make a list of the remains of his property, to be presented to the Emperor.

This golden bowl had been damaged once, this time he held it carefully in his hand, so that he would not damage it again. Wei Xiaobao thought, “The young emperor is upholding yi qi toward me. We are even, I must not dig his dragon’s vein.”

That night he held a grand banquet, the imperial envoy and various generals came to be his guests.

Another month passed, Kangxi sent another imperial edict. This time he rebuked Wei Xiaobao harshly, saying that Wei Xiaobao deliberately acting willfully and making a scene by sending the surrendering Luocha troops to shout ‘ten thousand years of boundless longevity’; it was extremely senseless. The imperial edict said, “As the ruler, guardian of the government, it is my duty to do the will of Heaven, to cherish the common people. Although Luocha is a barbarian country outside the sphere of civilization, its people are also human beings. Since they have already surrendered to submission, they should not be bullied and humiliated. You as a high-ranking minister must reflect the ruler’s way of loving the people. If Zhen favors the crowd, although not having long life, I will be wise ruler. If I am arrogant, presumptuous and tyrannical, this ‘ten thousand years of boundless longevity’ will only bring suffering all over the world. High-ranking minister resorts to heretical flattery, it indicates the ruler is not virtuous. The guilt is the most grave, definitely it has to be prohibited.”

This time Wei Xiaobao wanted to pat the horse’s butts, but he patted the horse’s foot instead; he bumped into a hard nail. Luckily his face was very thick, he did not give it another thought. In front of the imperial envoy who delivered the edict he cursed himself, saying that he deserved to die, but in his heart he said, “Who in the world does not love to be flattered? It must be that those Luocha troops did not say the Chinese words correctly, so that the Emperor could not make any sense of it, hence he was angry.” He summoned the several secretaries whom he ordered to teach the Luocha troops to speak Chinese, and reprimanded them severely. Finished cursing, he opened up a table and gambled with them; they threw several rounds of dice, Kangxi’s reprimand was already tossed beyond the topmost clouds.

One day another imperial edict arrived from Beijing, appointing Wei Xiaobao and Songgotu as high-ranking minister to negotiate peace, to draw up a peace treaty with the Luocha country. Kangxi also sent the Bordered Yellow Banner’s Han Army’s Commander, First-class Duke Tong Guogang, Army Guardian Commander Ma La, Shangshu [see Chapter 37] A’erni, and Left Imperial Censor Ma Qi, four people as their assistants.

Finished reading the imperial edict, Tong Guogang took out another scroll of document and read it aloud. Actually it was the letter sent to Kangxi by the Luocha country’s two Tsars, which was translated into Chinese by Dutch missionary in Beijing. The official document read, “Sincerely offered to pacifier of the far away Huaxia [old name for China, Cathay], steeped in the universe, leading the worthy ministers for a common plan to govern, appointing separate territories, unified by the Manchurian Qing, your reputation reaches far and wide, the Great Sage Emperor said: toward his father Aleksey Mikhailovich, who has bestowed Nicolai and the others the Celestial Empire, to have friendly relations, yet was not well-versed in Chinese ceremony, language and manners; for the vulgarity, uncouthness and lack of culture, we hope for forgiveness. In praise of the Emperor, any erroneous, confusing or lacking in manners, are also because our location in the desolate, distant place, rituals are unadorned and concealed from us, hence the Emperor did not see it and put the blame on us.

In the past the Emperor has bestowed a letter, our humble country did not understand the meaning, not because it was intentional. Until Nicolai and the others returned and inquired, still they stated that we do not owe the Celestial Empire’s Minister escaping people like Gentemu’er and the others, as well as any news of disturbance on the frontier. When we heard the Emperor is dispatching troops, it brings disgrace to the border, and loses the friendly relations. In the event that our humble country’s people who live on the border starting a dispute and rise in revolt, the Celestial Empire should dispatch an envoy to clearly indicate the situation, and propose a strict measure to control the guilt; why bother to easily resort to arms?

Today receiving the imperial decree, only then did we understood the situation from beginning to end, thereupon we issue an order to dispatch our humble country’s officers and soldiers, by no means to engage in war. Respectfully requesting our people who started the rebellion to be sent back to face the law, while at the same time dispatching an envoy minister to agree upon the boundary of our countries, Xianlingmoqi, Fo’erweiniugao, Ivan, Fa’eluowa and the others [these must be Russian names, but I have no idea the correct transliteration] to rapidly confer the letter. Begging you to remove the siege of Yakesa, to document all cases in details, and let our humble country know. When all of these are put to rest, forever we will look back at it from the distant.

Your precious country’s high-ranking minister, His Excellency Wei Xiaobao in the past has met our Her Highness the Imperial Sister Queen Regent Sophia, and from afar has visited our capital Moscow, has brought order out of chaos, and has rendered great merit to our humble nation. For your precious country’s favor, our humble country’s ruler and his ministers will not dare to forget. We sincerely send the heaviest gift to be presented to Your Majesty, the Great Sage Emperor, and next in line to be presented to His Excellency Minister Wei Xiaobao, to show our humble nation’s genuine desire to cultivate friendship with our neighbor.”

(Book note: This official document sent by Russia was verified in accordance with historical records. Only the last section pertaining Wei Xiaobao was perhaps only exist in the novel, and should not be taken at face value.)

After Tong Guogang finished reading the official letter, the secretary explained in details the content of the letter to Wei Xiaobao. It was a standard procedure in the army; official documents come and go, sometimes the writing was rather complicated, while the number of illiterate generals leading the troops was in fact numerous. Although those generals went to school for several years, sometimes their knowledge was rather limited. Military communications concerned important military and intelligence information, if it was misunderstood, the responsibility was too great; for this reason, any Manchurian army unit always had a secretary who explains the provision of the document.

Tong Guogang laughed and said, “This Queen Regent of Luocha country cherishes old friendships with Grand Marshal Wei quite a bit, the gifts she sent are indeed not a few. His Majesty instructed Xiongdi to bring everything to be handed personally to Grand Marshal Wei.”

Wei Xiaobao cupped his fist and said, “Thank you very much, thank you very much.” And then he added, “Luocha people do not understand etiquette, they did not say that their gifts are light, they really blow their horn by saying that their gifts are heavy. The gift to His Majesty is heaviest, the gift to me is the next heaviest; they are not afraid people would laugh at them.”

“Yes,” Tong Guogang replied, “The surrendering Luocha people Grand Marshal Wei presented to the Capital have been personally examined by His Majesty; he found out that among them, there is one high-ranking Luocha official …”

“Ah!” Wei Xiaobao exclaimed in surprise, “Is there such thing?”

Tong Guogang said, “This man is extremely crafty, he mingled among the lowly soldiers, not making the slightest bit of word or movement. That day His Majesty interrogated the surrendering people one by one, he had a Dutch missionary as the interpreter. After the interrogation, His Majesty spoke several Latin sentences to the missionary, among the surrendering Luocha people, there was one lowly soldier whose face suddenly changed. His Majesty asked him if he understood Latin. The lowly soldier repeatedly shook his head. So then His Majesty said in Latin, ‘Take this soldier out and chop his head.’ The soldier’s countenance changed greatly. He kneeled down and begged for mercy, confessing that he understood Latin.”

“What is Latin language?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “When those Luocha people were talking about pulling able-bodied men to carry army provision[1], how can His Majesty understand?”

“His Majesty is intelligent and wise,” Tong Guogang replied, “Nothing that he does not know. Luocha people were talking about pulling able-bodied men, he can also talk like that.”

“Why is it when Luocha people speak about other thing His Majesty does not understand, but then they are talking about pulling able-bodied men he can understand?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

Tong Guogang did not know how to answer that question; he laughed and said, “The reason behind it, none of us can understand. Next time the Grand Marshal have an audience with His Majesty, you may kowtow and ask him personally.”

Wei Xiaobao nodded. “What happened to that Luocha man?” he asked.

Tong Guogang said, “His Majesty interrogated him carefully, in the end that man could not conceal the truth, bit by bit he told him everything. Turned out that man was called Ya’erqingsiji [Yerofei Khabarov?]; he was the governor-general of Nerchinsk and Yakesa, two cities.”

When everybody heard this, they could not help exclaiming, “Ah!”

Wei Xiaobao said, “This fellow’s official position is not low.”

“Isn’t that so?” Tong Guogang said, “Among the government officials Luocha country sent to the east, his official rank is the highest. When the city of Yakesa fell, he must have changed into lowly soldier’s uniform so that he was well-hidden.”

Wei Xiaobao shook his head and said with a laugh, “When we made a breakthrough on the Yakesa city that day, Luocha’s generals, lowly soldiers, high-ranking officials, low-ranking officials, everybody was stripped naked. Looking back and forth, they all looked the same, there was really no distinction one from another. We could not see that those with higher official rank would have a bit bigger thingy. Xiongdi did not … I could not recognize this high-ranking official, it’s actually not our fault.” The generals roared in laughter; they then told Tong Guogang about the fall of city of Yakesa that day.

Tong Guogang laughed and said, “So that’s how it is. No wonder. His Majesty said: Wei Xiaobao captured Nerchinsk and Yakesa, two cities; his meritorious credit is not small. But he thought this man was an ordinary soldier, the way he work is too muddleheaded. His merit compensates for his guilt, in this case there is no reward and no punishment.”

Wei Xiaobao stood up and respectfully said, “His Majesty’s grace, his servant is extremely grateful.”

Tong Guogang said, “His Majesty interrogated this Ya’erqingsiji six days in a row. Luocha country’s army and government, territory and products, everything was questioned in details. His Majesty is indeed divinely brilliant, from this Ya’erqingsiji he found a secret. According to Grand Marshal Wei, when this man was captured, he was not wearing one thread; who would have thought that he had a way to conceal secret document?”

“His granny,” Wei Xiaobao cursed, “This A’erxiansiji [lit. ol’ second convulsing dead chicken] is really full of devilish tricks and cunning stratagem. Next time I see him, I must look at him really well. This secret document, where did he hide it? Could it be he hid it inside his @ss … @ss …”

Tong Guogang said, “Before the surrendering Luocha people had an audience with His Majesty, naturally their whole body would be searched carefully by the Imperial Bodyguards; hair, beard, must be groped, pants and boots must be taken off and examined. Foreigners who conceal wicked intentions, if they hide sharp weapon in their body, what would happen then? Naturally this Ya’erqingsiji was also searched carefully, but nothing was found on him. However, His Majesty can see clearly down to the smallest detail; he saw his right shoulder was bulging, and he was constantly looking askance on it, so he asked him what the object on his shoulder was. Ya’erqingsiji pulled his sleeve, showing a thick bandage on his arm, saying that it was an injury he received in Yakesa. His Majesty ordered him to step forward, and then with force he pinched on his arm. Ya’erqingsiji cried out, ‘Aiyo!’ but his voice did not sound like he was in pain.”

“Interesting, interesting!” Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “This Luocha demon’s injury is fake.”

“Isn’t that so?” Tong Guogang said, “His Majesty immediately ordered the Imperial Bodyguards to take off the bandage on his arm. Ya’erqingsiji’s countenance turned ash grey, he was so scared that his whole body trembled. Grand Marshal Wei, can you guess what was hidden in his bandage?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Just now you said it was a secret document, could it be it was exactly that?”

Tong Guogang clapped his hands and said, “Exactly. No wonder His Majesty often praise you and say you are smart, sure enough you got it with only one guess. The object hidden inside that Ya’erqingsiji’s bandage was precisely a secret document, the imperial order given to him by Luocha country’s Tsar. His Majesty had the Dutch missionary translated it to him, and I have a copy of it here.”

From an envelope he took a document and read it in loud voice, “Thou shalt make Chinese Emperor aware: The owner of the entire Great E’luosi [Russia], the Minor Russia, the White Russia is the authoritarian monarch, the Great Sovereign Emperor and the Great King over many nations His Majesty Russian Emperor. When the Emperor arrives at distant places, the sovereign kings of many nations take refuge under His Majesty the Great Emperor’s supreme rule. That Chinese Emperor should also try to obtain the owner of the entire Great Russia, the Minor Russia, the White Russia, the authoritarian monarch, the Great Sovereign Emperor’s grace, and take refuge under His Majesty the Great Emperor’s supreme rule. His Majesty the Great Emperor will definitely love and protect the Chinese Emperor according to his vast and mighty imperial kindness; furthermore, he will protect him, will save him from the enemy threat. If that Chinese Emperor alone takes refuge under His Majesty the Great Sovereign, submit himself under His Majesty the Russian Emperor’s supreme rule, and everlastingly faithful, and bring tribute to the Great Sovereign, His Majesty the Great Sovereign’s subordinates shall be allowed to have freedom in setting up military camp and conduct trades within the Chinese border. For this reason the Chinese Emperor should agree to let His Majesty the Great Emperor’s envoys and ministers to pass freely without hindrance. Furthermore he should respond to His Majesty the Great Emperor’s letter.”

(Book note: This document is authentic. When Kangxi arrested Russian minister, he was imprisoned for half a month before being sent back to his own country. This document was confiscated from his possession, and was stored in the Palace’s archive. The original photograph can be seen in the ‘Forbidden City Russian History’.)

For each sentence Tong Guogang read, Wei Xiaobao cursed one word, “Fart!” By the time Tong Guogang finished, Wei Xiaobao already cursed several dozen of “Fart!”

Tong Guogang said, “His Majesty issued an imperial edict: Luocha people has grand ambition, they are extremely rude. The Luocha Emperor who issued this secret document was the father of current two Tsars; he had already passed away. At that time he still did not know that we, Chinese people, are formidable. Now Luocha people have suffered hardship, presumably they would not dare to be as wanton as they used to be. But when we are negotiating peace with them, we still have to use gentle methods and force [i.e. carrot and stick]; we can’t be too careless.”

“Absolutely,” Wei Xiaobao said, “His Majesty has commanded, we give them a few slaps on their mouths, a few kicks, but also a few pats on their shoulder, and a few rubs on their back.”

Tong Guogang continued, “That Queen Regent is very crafty, she pretended that she did not know that Yakesa has fallen into our hands, she issued an order that Luocha troops must not have armed confrontation with us. But the official document has exposed the horse’s foot, she asked the Emperor to send back the captured Luocha people so that they could face the law.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “How can it be so easy? She sent me several mink fur coats, several pieces of precious stones as the next heaviest gift, and then wanted us to release her officers and men?”

Tong Guogang said, “His Majesty’s order: Since the Luocha people are looking for peace, there is no harm in negotiating peace with them. But we must bring the main force along, and set the terms of their surrender [orig. ‘pledge under the city wall’].”

“What is that ‘pledge under the city wall’?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

Tong Guogang explained, “When two countries are at war, our main force besieging a foreign city. The foreigners ask for peace, we set up peace treaty under his city walls. This is called ‘terms of the surrender’. Although the foreigners can’t be considered surrendering, in the end they are admitting defeat.”

“I see,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Actually, we sent the troops to take down Nerchinsk, it was not too difficult.”

Tong Guogang said, “His Majesty’s imperial edict: to attack and take over several more cities is actually within our grasp. But Luocha is a big country in the present age, the number of small nations under its command is a lot. If they are defeated silly in the east, their prestige would suffer great damage, the smaller nations under its command would not accept it. If that happens, Luocha will definitely send their main force to retaliate, and then we will be ravaged by successive wars, which will last for I don’t know how many years, how many months. His Majesty interrogated that Ya’erqingsiji, and found out that west of Luocha there is another big country called Sweden, and these two countries are on the verge of a great war. If Luocha has to fight both wars, east and west at the same time, they will have a headache. If we seize this opportunity the set up peace treaty with them, it would be greatly advantageous to us. At least we can guarantee a hundred years of peace and security north of Xinjiang.”

After achieving great victory, Wei Xiaobao was still very fired-up that he wanted to take down Nerchinsk as well; but when he heard that the Emperor has agreed to pursue peace agreement with the Luocha country, his spirit was greatly dampened. However, this was the Emperor’s strategic decision, no matter what he wanted to do, or how far he wanted to go, he simply could not disobey the imperial edict. But then he thought, “You are His Majesty’s jiujiu [maternal uncle], hence you are also my wife’s jiujiu, so you can be considered my elder. You are a first-class duke, I have just been promoted to be a second-class duke. This time negotiating peace with Luocha people, His Majesty is sending you to be my assistant; the face His Majesty is giving me is indeed not small.”

Tong Guogang’s father, Tong Tulai was Kangxi’s mother, Empress Xiao Kang’s father, a Han. As a result, Kangxi’s lineage was actually half Manchu half Han. By this time Tong Tulai had already died, Tong Guogang inherited his title as the First-Class Duke. In his early years Tong Tulai surrendered to the Manchurian Qing outside the Pass, and joined the Bordered Yellow Banner. His military contribution was outstanding, his reputation was well-known. Only Wei Xiaobao thought that his name was quite disappointing. Tulai, Tulai, it sounded like someone lost in gambling and wanted to renege [‘du’ – gambling, ‘lai’ – renege; different characters from Tulai]; a magnificent country’s father-in-law, why would he want to do that?

That evening, after the feast to welcome the guests, under the Grand Marshal Wei’s recommendation, they threw several rounds of dice. Indeed Tong Guogang lost; but pushing away six hundred taels, he did not even blink, not in the least wanted to renege. Seeing he could take the loss in a frank and straightforward way, without putting on an air at all, Wei Xiaobao was quite impressed. It was not until he returned to his bedroom and lay down on his bed that he suddenly realized, “His name is Tong Guguang [‘gu’ – bones, ‘guang’ – bright, different characters from Guogang], clearly I must beat him clean [‘qing guang’] in dominoes [‘gu pai’]. This man’s gambling character is fabulous, I can make friends with him.”

The next day Wei Xiaobao had a meeting with various ministers. Everybody agreed that since they were going to discuss the terms of surrender with the opposite side, there was no harm in bringing the main force along, to wait leisurely for the exhausted enemy. Wei Xiaobao nodded his approval, and promptly issued an order for the forces in Aigun and Kumarsk to start moving and meet outside the city of Nerchinsk. By this time it was already summer, the weather was warm, the snow had disappeared completely; the army marched very comfortably.

One day they reached the bank of Hailar River, the vanguard unit came back to report that there was a small company of Luocha troops, the captain of this group was seeking an audience with the Grand Marshal. Wei Xiaobao summoned the captain. Turned out they were Poyarkov and Stepanov, two people.

“Very good, very good!” Wei Xiaobao said, “Turns out it’s tortoise b@stard dead chicken [Wangbasiji] and pig tribe coward [Zhuluonuofu].” The two men bowed and saluted before presenting Princess Sophia’s letter.

Up to this time the Luocha clergy still remained in the Qing army camp in case his service was still needed. In order to negotiate peace and sign the treaty document, Kangxi also dispatched a Dutch missionary to help them. Wei Xiaobao summoned both clergies to his tent, and ordered them to translate Princess Sophia’s reply.

That day the Luocha clergy altered the intent of Wei Xiaobao’s love letter; right now he was very anxious and fearful, afraid that the Princess’ letter would expose the horse’ foot. Hastily he took the letter and scanned it once; only then did he feel relieved. The Dutch missionary then translated the Luocha text into Chinese.

The letter said: Ever since we parted, I often think of you, hoping that after the peace treaty is signed, Wei Xiaobao can visit Moscow and rekindle old friendship. Wei Xiaobao is doted on by the rulers of both countries; therefore, he must explain and clear up all kinds of misunderstanding, remove the estrangement, and establish the foundation with which both countries will be reconciled for all ages.

The letter also said: China and Luocha were separated east and west; furthermore, both are great countries of this age. If the two join hands and form an alliance, we can dominate the world, no other country will be able to defy. If the two countries are in hostility with each other, engaging in long-term conflict, inevitably both sides will suffer. For this reason I hope Wei Xiaobao can facilitate this matter; while admittedly he will set up great merit to China, Luocha country will definitely also reward him heavily. In addition, would Wei Xiaobao please talk to Chinese Emperor, to release the prisoners, the captured Luocha coutry’s officers and soldiers, so that their family and beloved will be delighted to meet again.

After the Dutch missionary finished translating, Wei Xiaobao saw Poyarkov and Stepanov, two men, repeatedly gave him meaningful look; he knew that there must be another matter. Dismissing the two clergies, he asked, “Is there anything else you want to say?”

Poyarkov said, “Her Highness the Princess wanted us to tell Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official that Her Highness the Princess miss you very much, Luocha men are not good, Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official is number one in the world, she insists on inviting you to Moscow.”

“Humph,” Wei Xiaobao thought, “This is Luocha flattery [orig. confusing soup], absolutely cannot be trusted.”

Stepanov said, “Her Highness the Princess has a few other things she would like Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official to do. This is the gift Her Highness the Princess gives you.” While saying that he removed a copper chain from his neck, at the end of the chain was a leather purse. Poyarkov also did the same. Presumably because the two of them were traveling a long and difficult trek, they were afraid they might lose it, thus they tied it on their neck using copper chain.

The openings of these two leather purses were locked using copper locks. Poyarkov took out a key from his belt to unlock Stepanov’s copper lock. Stepanov also took out his own key to open the lock on Poyarkov’s leather purse. The two of them respectfully put the leather purses on the table in front of Wei Xiaobao.

Wei Xiaobao turned the leather purse upside down, with a ‘ding dang’ jingling noise several dozen precious stones came out, all kinds of sizes and colors, rich and diverse, glittering gloriously; there were huge ruby, sapphire, and yellow gem. The other purse contained diamonds and emeralds. Instantly the tent was filled with their glitter, dazzling and beautiful. Wei Xiaobao has seen countless jewels and precious stones in his life, but he had never seen these many big precious stones lumped together. He laughed and said, “Princess gives me this kind of heavy gift, I really cannot accept.”

(Book note: According to ‘Yanjing [old name for Beijing] Scholarly Journal’, volume 25, Liu Xuanmin wrote the ‘Examination on China-Russia early commercial trade’, Russia sent the ambassador Feodor Alekseyevich Golovin to negotiate with China on the boundary, trade relation, and economic affair. During his journey east, Golovin received imperial court’s secret order, seriously instructed him: if he could obtain favorable trade relationship with China, there was no harm in giving up Yakesa to the Chinese. Furthermore, as long as it did not damage the Russian Emperor’s prestige and within limit, he was authorized to secretly give considerable gifts to the Chinese delegation as a bribe.)

Poyarkov said, “Her Highness the Princess said that if Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official succeed, there will be more precious gift for you; plus beautiful women from Great Russia, Minor Russia, White Russia, Cossack, Tatar, Sweden, Persia, Poland, Germany, and Denmark, ten countries, one from each country, each one is young and good looking, all are virgins, no widows at all. Everything will be delivered to Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official.”

Wei Xiaobao roared in laughter. “I can’t deal with my seven wives already,” he said, “With ten more beautiful women, Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official will immediately breathe his last.”

“Can’t be, can’t be,” Poyarkov repeatedly said, “Her Highness the Princess has already prepared these ten beautiful women, we have seen them with our own eyes, everyone’s countenance is as pretty as a rose, their skin is as white as milk, their voice as beautiful as nightingale.”

Wei Xiaobao was hooked; he asked, “What does Her Highness the Princess want me to do?”

Stepanov said, “First, both countries must become reconciled, the demarcation of boundary is fair, and from now on we won’t have armed-conflict.”

Wei Xiaobao thought, “The young Emperor also wants the same thing; consider it done.” He said, “West of your Luocha country, there is a country called Swe … Swe something; they send an emissary, wanting us to send troops together, to attack Luocha country from east and west, and divide your country evenly. At that time those Great Russia, Minor Russia, not-big-not-small Russia, Black Russia, White Russia, multi-colored Russia, no matter how many beautiful women we want, we will get, no need for your Her Highness the Princess to send us any. Besides, each one you sent will be too clumsy and miserable from the cold!”

As soon as the two Luocha captains heard this, they were shocked. At that time Sweden was under the rule of King Karl XI, an astute and promising young monarch, who was training the army and refining the military; he was inclined to launch a military expedition to Luocha on the east. These days his large cavalry was moving to the east. All the civil and military officials in Moscow were concerned; unexpectedly Sweden wanted to form an alliance with China. Although Luocha was strong, if they had to face multiple enemies, their power would fail.

Looking at these two men’s countenance, Wei Xiaobao knew that his empty threat has hit its target; thereupon he said, “But Her Highness the Princess and I are lovers and good friends; how could I agree to Swe something’s request? Right now our Chinese Emperor has not made up his mind; if Luocha country sincerely wants to make peace, I can chase that Swe something’s envoy back to his country.”

The two captains were greatly delighted; they repeatedly said, “Luocha country is one hundred per cent sincere, there is not the least bit falsehood. Would Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official quickly chase that Sweden envoy back to his country? Even better, with one chop of a saber, off with his head.”

Wei Xiaobao shook his head, “Envoy’s head cannot be chopped at will, much less he also sent me a lot of precious stones, dozen or so beautiful women. This saber cannot be chopped down, can it?”

The two captains repeatedly voiced their agreement; they thought, “Turns out Sweden pays particular attention to win their favor; they deliver gifts first and receive the payment later. This trick of the trade is more sophisticated than ours.” They also thought, “Fortunately the Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official is our Princess’ lover; otherwise, this matter would turn significantly worse.”

Wei Xiaobao asked, “What other thing Her Highness the Princess wanted me to do?”

Poyarkov smiled and said, “The thing that Her Highness the Princess really wants Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official to do is for you to go to Kremlin Palace in Moscow, and do it in the Princess’ bedroom.”

Wei Xiaobao made a ‘hey’ sound; he thought, “This is Luocha’s confusing soup [see above], definitely a Luocha soup; I can drink it but I can’t trust it.” He laughed and said, “Turns out Luocha men are unfit for anything.”

“It’s not that Luocha men are unfit for anything,” Stepanov said, “It’s just that Her Highness the Princess particularly miss Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official.”

Wei Xiaobao thought, “Another bowl of Luocha soup.” He said, “Since that’s the case, the Princess does not have anything else in mind?”

Poyarkov said, “Her Highness the Princess wants to ask His Majesty the Chinese Emperor’s permission to allow the merchants to come and go and trade freely across the two countries’ border.”

Stepanov said, “If the two countries’ merchants are coming and going in abundance, Princess could write a letter or send gifts more often.”

“Damn it,” Wei Xiaobao mused, “Another bowl.” He said, “In that case, the reason of two countries having trading relations is for Princess’ selfish desire, not for the public?”

“Yes, yes,” Stepanov said, “Totally for the sake of Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official.”

“Right now I am not a little child anymore,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You must not call me Chinese Little Child High-ranking Official anymore.”

The two men bowed deeply together. “Yes, yes!” they said, “Your Excellency Chinese High Official.”

Wei Xiaobao smiled. “Alright, alright,” he said, “Go and rest. We are going to Nerchinsk, you two may come with us.”

The two of them were startled; they looked at each other and thought, “What is Chinese army doing in Nerchinsk? Are they going to besiege it?”

“Don’t you worry,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I promise the Princess that the two countries are going to be reconciled, and not going to fight any war.”

The two men bowed together again, they said, “Thank you very much Chinese Little … no … Your Excellency High-ranking Official.” Poyarkov added, “Princess heard that Chinese bridges are well-built; no matter how wide or how big a river, you are able to build the bridge using large stones, without stone pillars underneath it for support. Princess loves Your Excellency Chinese High Official, she also loves Chinese stuffs; therefore, she asks that Daren send several bridge craftsmen and technicians to Moscow to build several Chinese magical stone bridges. Her Highness the Princess will look at Chinese stone bridge every day, she will take a stroll on the bridge; it’s like seeing Your Excellency High-ranking Official every day.”

Wei Xiaobao thought, “Bowl by bowl Luocha soup is pouring; if I drink it again, I might vomit. The Princess especially likes our Chinese stone bridge; I wonder what’s the reason behind it? There must be some strange reason. I must not fall into this Luocha fox-spirit’s trickery.” He said, “Princess miss me, there is no need to build a stone bridge, the project is too big. I’ll send her some Chinese silk quilt, several Chinese pillows, let her hold it in her arms when she sleeps; it will be as if every night there is an Excellency Chinese High Official accompanying her in bed.”

The two Luocha captains looked at each other; their expression looked very awkward. Stepanov said, “This … it looks like …” Poyarkov’s brain was a lot quicker; he said, “Your Excellency Daren’s idea is extremely lofty; Chinese silk quilt, Chinese pillows, we will definitely bring back some. The Princess cannot embrace Your Excellency Chinese High Official, holding Chinese silk quilt and Chinese pillows is all right. But after several years, silk quilt and pillows will be worn-out, it’s not as sturdy as a stone bridge. Therefore, we would like Daren to still please send the technical experts to build the stone bridge.”

Hearing the tone of the two men’s voice, Wei Xiaobao thought that Luocha imperial court seemed very eager to have the technical expert of building stone bridges; hence there must be crafty scheme behind this. He did not know that at that time Chinese technology in bridge building was the first under the heavens. When foreigners came to China and saw the construction of magnificent stone bridge, they would definitely click their tongue in amazement, and would admire incessantly. Seeing an arch bridge that can span the surface of the river without requiring pillars underneath it, they felt it was magical beyond human’s comprehension. Luocha people were hoping to learn this bridge building technology, actually it was due to their admiration to Chinese science and technology, not because any other crafty scheme.

(Book note: In Kangxi’s fifteenth year, Russia did send N.G. Spatnary as the imperial envoy, leading his fellow countrymen, experts in precious stones and specialists in herbal medicine to Beijing. They submitted many requests, among which was ‘To allow Russia borrow bridge building experts’. However, because the imperial envoy was unwilling to kowtow to Kangxi, the Qing imperial court expelled them back to their own country.)

Wei Xiaobao thought, “The more you want it, the more laozi does not want to give you.” He said, “I know, go now!” The two captains did not dare to say more; they saluted and withdrew.

One day, Luocha imperial envoy minister Feodor in Nerchinsk received report that the large Qing army has arrived. Busily he sent people to send word, asking the Qing army to stop where they were, while he immediately set off to meet them.

(Book note: Luocha imperial envoy who negotiated peace was actually Feodor A. Golovin, but at that time the Chinese did not know that western people has their given name first and surname last; thereupon in Chinese history book he was known as Feodor.)

Wei Xiaobao said, “No need to be polite, we had better come to pay our respect!”

With grandiose the Qing army pressed on to Nerchinsk city wall. Sabusu, Peng Chun, Ma La and the others separately leading the cavalry going around Nerchinsk to block all major roads on the north, west and south of the city; not only they were cutting off Luocha troops escape route from Nerchinsk, they were also stopping any reinforcement from the west. Wei Xiaobao personally commanded the main force on the east of the city. The army shot fireworks, cannon and fiery arrows to the sky to signal each other.

Inside Nerchinsk, Luocha ministers, military generals, and the soldiers all were looking on as the Qing army coordinated the siege, displaying their magnificent military power; no one in the Luocha camp did not have their spirit shaken. At once Feodor prepared gifts and sent people to the Qing army to deliver a letter to the Chinese imperial envoy minister, saying that the emperors of both countries have agreed to cease-fire and negotiate peace, the purpose of the meeting this time was to sign a peace treaty, hence it was inadvisable to have the troops of both side to stay too close to each other, in order to avoid inciting armed conflict and thus damaging the good relationship of the two countries.

Wei Xiaobao and the other ministers discussed this matter over. Everybody agreed that as a superior nation, China must not be rude and be a bully; that they must strive to use peaceful measures before using force. Thereupon Wei Xiaobao issued an order to have the troops withdrawn several li, and stationed at the Shilka River; he also ordered the Qing army on the north, west and south of Nerchinsk to retreat to the hills and wait for order.

Seeing the Qing army retreated, Feodor was slightly relieved. He wrote another letter, proposing four-point condition of the meeting: One, they were to meet in the middle between Nerchinsk and Shilka River. Two, on the day of the meeting, the imperial envoys of both countries may bring forty attendants each. Three, both countries may dispatch five hundred troops each, Russian army would be stationed outside the city wall, Qing army would be stationed on the riverbank. Four, the number of personal guards both countries’ diplomatic envoys may bring was limited to two hundred and sixty men each; other than saber and sword, they must not bring any firearms. He set up these four conditions because the Qing army had superior number, Russian army was small; if both sides did not limit the number of people, the Russian army would be put in a disadvantageous position. But Luocha troops’ firearms were formidable, if both sides had equal number of troops, Russian soldiers would occupy a dominant position, he expected the other side would not agree; hence he proposed in advance that the bodyguards could only bring saber and sword. The letter also proposed that the meeting to be held the following day.

After discussing it with the other ministers, Wei Xiaobao deemed the proposal feasible and immediately accepted it. That same evening he sent the troops to build a tent as the meeting place.

Early morning the next day, Wei Xiaobao, Songgotu, Tong Guogang and the other imperial envoys led the attendants, along with two-hundred sixty rattan-shield troops, to the meeting place. They saw Nerchinsk’s city gate opened, more than two hundred Cossacks on horseback with long sabers in their hands, rode around a group of Luocha officers out of the city. This company of cavalry was imposing, the men were tall the horses big. The Qing army’s rattan-shield troops were infantry, they looked small in comparison, their prestige was considerably less.

“His granny,” Tong Guogang cursed, “Luocha demons are very crafty; the first step and we already cannot match them. They only say about two hundred sixty bodyguards; he just forgot to mention cavalry or infantry. And now they are already two hundred sixty horses superior to us.”

Songgotu said, “This matter reminds us that when we are dealing with the Luocha demons, we have to be twelve times extremely alert; if we have only half a part of carelessness, we will put in a disadvantageous situation.”

While they were still talking, the Luocha troops arrived. Tong Guogang said, “We are following His Majesty’s instruction, in everything we must give careful consideration to China being a superior nation in observing etiquette; let us dismount.”

“Very well,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Let us dismount.” Everybody dismounted from their horses and cupped their fist in greeting while standing tall.

When the Luocha imperial envoy Feodor saw this situation, he shouted his order, all the officers also dismounted from their horses and bowed to salute. Both sides walked over toward each other.

Feodor said, “Russian Imperial Envoy Feodor, under the order of the Tsar, humbly offers the Great Qing Emperor the wish of safety and well-being.”

Copying his words, Wei Xiaobao also said, “The Great Qing Imperial Envoy Wei Xiaobao, under the Great Emperor’s order, humbly offers the Luocha Tsar the wish of safety and well-being.” But he added another sentence, “We also wish the Queen Regent Her Highness the Princess Sophia beauty and happiness.”

Feodor showed a faint smile; he thought, “The Great Qing Emperor wishes our Princess beauty and happiness; this wish is rather weird. But if the Princess hears it, surely she will be delighted.”

The two of them exchanged some pleasantries while introducing their delegation. The interpreters of both countries translated everything.

Wei Xiaobao noticed that the Luocha officers were standing tall and listening respectfully; they were quite polite and attentive. However, the two hundred sixty Cossack cavalry stayed upright and unafraid on the horsebacks, their hands were still on their long sabers as the horses stood in formation, carrying the expression that ‘they were living high and looking down’ on the other side; there was even a hint of threatening look on their faces. The more Wei Xiaobao looked at them, the more he was angry. He said, “Your bodyguards are too rude; seeing Chinese high-ranking officials, why didn’t they dismount?” His Luocha language was grammatically upside-down, his words and sentences jumbled together; but in his anger, without waiting for the interpreter he simply blurted out in Russian.

Feodor said, “According to our humble nation’s law, when the cavalry is on duty, even seeing His Majesty the Tsar, they do not need to dismount.”

“This is Chinese territory,” Wei Xiaobao said, “When you are in China, you must follow China’s rule.”

Feodor shook his head, “I’m sorry,” he said, “Sire is mistaken. This is Russian Tsar’s territory, not Chinese territory.”

“This is clearly Chinese territory,” Wei Xiaobao insisted, “You are occupying it by force.”

“I’m sorry,” Feodor said, “Your Excellency Chinese Imperial Envoy Minister misunderstood. This is Russian Tsar’s territory. Nerchinsk was built by Russians.”

The reason the two countries were having a meeting this time was originally to draw border and strife for land, whether certain ground belong to China or Russia was the key point. The two imperial envoys had just met, they had not even entered the tent yet, the dispute had already started.

Wei Xiaobao said, “You Luocha people built a city on our Chinese land, and you want to consider it yours? Where’s the logic in that?”

“This is Russian land,” Feodor said, “Russian people built fortification in here, Chinese people did not build fortification in here; this is the proof that this is Russian land. Your Excellency Chinese Imperial Envoy Minister said this is Chinese land, I wonder based on what proof?”

The Nerchinsk region had always been no-man’s land; China-Russia, the two countries’ border had not been defined, when all is said and done, whether the land belonged to China or Russia, nobody had any proof yet.

Hearing Feodor asked such question, Wei Xiaobao could not help feeling at a loss. He wanted to win the debate; too bad his Luocha language was insufficient to express his ideas. If regular answer already difficult to contest the question, how could he come up with a clever answer? His heart was enraged, he said, “This is Chinese land, the proofs are many.” And then he cursed using Yangzhou dialect, “Hot piece mama, f*ck your demon’s seventeen, eighteen generations ancestor.” As soon as he started, vulgar Yangzhou cussing words immediately flowed from his mouth like running water. He cursed Feodor’s great-great-grandmother, paternal great-grandmother, down to paternal grandmother, mother, older and younger sisters, maternal grandmother, maternal aunt, paternal aunt; he poured dog’s blood on everybody [i.e. curse], not one of all the female members of the Feodor family in Luocha was lucky enough to escape.

When both sides, the Chinese and Russian officials, saw the Chinese Imperial Envoy Minister was angry, nobody was not stunned. It’s just that his speech was like a string of firecrackers; forget Feodor who was unable to make head or tail of it, even Chinese officials and the interpreters of both sides were also at a loss and could not understand what he was talking about. Wei Xiaobao’s curses were entirely Yangzhou’s marketplace vulgar and low-class people’s language. Even Yangzhou’s gentlemen and ladies could not necessarily understand twenty, thirty-percent of it, much less Songgotu, Tong Guogang and the other Manchurian banner men, who had perhaps lived as military official in the north for a long time.

After raining curses for a while, Wei Xiaobao felt better; he could not help bursting in laughter. Although Feodor did not understand what he was saying, looking at his expression, he knew Wei Xiaobao was angry; but then suddenly he roared in laughter. Feodor was even more confused; he asked, “Excuse me, may I ask just now honorable envoy spoke a lengthy talk, what instruction were you giving? Honorable envoy’s words were profound, the humble one’s scholarly knowledge is shallow and crude, it was difficult for me to comprehend. Would you repeat it slowly so that I could receive the advice?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Just now I said, you were speaking unreasonably. I want to have your paternal grandmother as my sweetheart, as my wife.”

Feodor smiled and said, “My paternal grandmother was indeed a well-known beauty in the city of Moscow, she was Count Peter Marek Jankulovski’s daughter. Turns out Your Excellency Chinese High-ranking official has also heard my paternal grandmother’s fame; the humble one is extremely honored. Unfortunately, my paternal grandmother has passed away thirty-eight years ago.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “In that case, I want your mother to be my sweetheart, my wife.”

Feodor had an amused look on his face, he was even more delighted. He said, “My Mama is an offspring of a famous family, her skin is white and tender, she knows how to compose French poems. In Moscow, not a few princes, dukes and generals adore her very much. In Russia we have a poet, he wrote several dozen poems in praise of my Mama. Although this year she turned sixty-three, her appearance is still comparable to that of a woman in her thirties. When Your Excellency Chinese High-ranking official visit Moscow in the future, the humble one will surely introduce you to my Mama. However, I am afraid you cannot marry her. As for becoming her lover, as long as my Mama agrees, that is still possible.”

According to western social custom, when people praise one’s mother or wife as beautiful, not only one would not think it as inappropriate, one would be deeply honored instead; he would be more happy than if he himself was being praised. However, Wei Xiaobao erroneously thought that Feodor was afraid of him, unexpectedly he agreed to offer his own mother and was willing to take Wei Xiaobao as a stepfather. The hot anger filling his heart immediately vanished. He laughed and said, “Very good, very good. If I go to Moscow, I will definitely visit your mansion.” Pulling Feodor’s hand, he took him into the tent.

The assistants and attendants of both parties followed into the tent. Wei Xiaobao and his party sat on the east side, Feodor and his party sat on the west side. Feodor said, “Our humble country’s Queen Regent Her Highness the Princess instructed us that this time we are drawing the boundary and discuss peace, we have great faith that both sides will be fair, neither will take advantage of the other side. For this reason our humble country proposes that we decide Heilongjiang as the border between the two countries. South of the River belong to China, north of the river belong to Russia. After the border is defined, Russian troops can no longer cross the river to the south, Chinese troops also cannot cross to the north.”

Wei Xiaobao asked, “Is Yakesa south of the river, or is it north?”

“It’s north of the river,” Feodor replied, “The city was built by us, the Russian; hence it can be clearly seen that the land north of Heilongjiang belong to the Russian.”

When Wei Xiaobao heard that, his anger flared again. He asked, “There is a small hill inside the city of Yakesa; do you know the name of that hill?”

Feodor turned to ask his assistant; he replied, “It is called ‘Gaozhulue’ Mountain.”

Wei Xiaobao knew that in Luocha language, ‘gaozhulue’ means ‘deer’. He said, “In Chinese we call it Mount Luding. Do you know my nobility title?”

“Your Excellency is Duke of Luding,” Feodor replied, “In our Luocha language that would be Duke of Gaozhulue.”

“In that case,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You are deliberately making my life difficult. You clearly know that I am the Duke of Luding [deer and cauldron], yet you want to occupy my Mount Luding; won’t that mean you want me not to be Duke anymore?”

“No, no,” Feodor hastily said, “Definitely no such intention.”

Wei Xiaobao asked, “What is your nobility title?”

Feodor replied, “Humble one is the Marquis of Luomonuoshafa.”

“Very well,” Wei Xiaobao said, “In that case Luomonuoshafa can be considered Chinese territory.”

Feodor was taken aback; but then he smiled and said, “The Luomonuoshafa granted by the Emperor to the humble one is located west of Moscow; how can it be Chinese territory?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “You said the territory granted to you is called Laomaolashifa [‘old cat defecating method’] …”

“Luomonuoshafa,” Feodor said.

Wei Xiaobao ignored him; he continued, “How far is it from our capital Beijing to Laomaolashifa? How many days of travel?”

Feodor said, “From Luomonuoshafa to Moscow there are five hundred li altogether, five days of travel. From Moscow to Beijing, it will take at least three months.”

“In that case,” Wei Xiaobao said, “From Beijing to Laomaolashifa will require three months and five days of travel. It’s very far.”

“Very far, very far!” Feodor said.

Wei Xiaobao said, “Such a distance, naturally Laomaolashifa cannot be considered Chinese territory.”

Feodor smiled and said, “Nothing is more reasonable than what the Duke has just said.”

Wei Xiaobao raised his wine cup and said, “Please drink.”

Luocha people loved wine as their lives, the wine cup was placed in front of Feodor for quite a while, the aroma of wine had already assaulted his nostrils for quite some time. But since the host did not offer a toast, he did not dare to drink. This moment as Wei Xiaobao offered him a drink, he was greatly delighted; quickly he picked up the cup and drank it in one gulp.

The Qing attendants quickly refilled his cup. They also took out vegetable and meat dishes from the food box. All dishes were the culinary arts of famous Beijing chefs. At this time Luocha country had just entered civilization not too long ago. When the Emperor Peter the Great grew up, to prevent his older sister Princess Sophia from seizing power, he had Sophia imprisoned in a convent. Later on he aggressively imported Western Europe culture. By the time Wei Xiaobao arrived in Moscow, the entire system of civilization, culture, and arts was far removed from China. As for culinary arts, even until today Russia was still 108,000 li away from China.

That day outside Nerchinsk Feodor has had a taste of Chinese gourmet, he was dumbstruck, he even nearly swallowed his own tongue into his belly. Wei Xiaobao accompanied him sampling every dish, and explained to him that that was shark fin, this was swallow’s nest. He also explained how to prepare duck feet into treasure dish, how to turn chicken liver into precious gourmet. Feodor was sighing in admiration; his delight knew no bound.

Wei Xiaobao casually asked, “I wonder which day did Honorable Envoy leave Moscow this time?”

Feodor replied, “Humble one received Her Highness the Princess’ imperial order on the twelfth of the fourth month, and immediately set off from Moscow.”

“Very good,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Come, let’s have another cup. Our Tong Gongye [duke] here, his wine capacity is very good. The two of you must toast each other.” Immediately Tong Guogang offered Feodor a toast. They drank three cups in succession.

Wei Xiaobao asked, “Did Honorable Envoy arrive in Nerchinsk this month?”

Feodor replied, “Humble one arrived on the fifteenth of last month.”

“Wow,” Wei Xiaobao exclaimed, “From the twelfth of the fourth month to the fifteenth of the seventh month; you have travelled more than three months.”

“Yes,” Feodor replied, “I have travelled more than three months. Fortunately the weather was warm, it was not a hard journey at all.”

Wei Xiaobao raised his thumb and praised, “Very good! Honorable Envoy is telling the truth; finally you admitted that Nerchinsk does not belong to Luocha country.”

After drinking more than a dozen cups of wine, Feodor was slightly drunk. “I … when did I ever admit that?” he asked in shock.

Wei Xiaobao said, “From Beijing to Laomaolashifa, it will take more than three months, a very great distance, and this Laomaolashifa is not Chinese territory. From Moscow to Nerchinsk, you also travelled for more than three months, the distance is not near either. Naturally Nerchinsk is not Russian territory.”

Feodor opened his eyes wide, momentarily he was at a loss of what to say. After staring blankly for half a day, he finally said, “Our Russia is so big; it’s not the same at all.”

“Our Great Qing is not small either,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

With a forced laugh Feodor said, “Honorable Envoy loves to joke. These … these two matters cannot … cannot be lumped together.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “You insist that Nerchinsk is Luocha country’s territory, in that case let’s swap. I am going to Moscow and ask the Princess to confer you the title Count of Nerchinsk, and confer me the title Duke of Laomaolashifa. Then this Laomaolashifa can be considered Chinese territory.”

Feodor’s face bulged red; he said anxiously, “This … how can this be?” He could not help feeling anxious because the Princess was Wei Xiaobao’s lover; if he poured a large quantity of Chinese ‘confusing soup’ by the pillow, she might agree to swap, then it would be more than awful. He also thought, “My Luomonuoshafa is a territory granted by the Emperor and has been in my family for generations, a rich land. If the Princess swapped it with Nerchinsk, this place is cold, the population is scarce, it will drive me to my death. Much less right now I am a marquis, if I become the Count of Nerchinsk, won’t that mean I am being demoted?”

Seeing Feodor’s deeply worried and sick at heart expression, Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You wanted to take my Yakesa as your territory, making me cannot be the Duke of Luding; what can I do? Without any better option I must become Duke of Laomaolashifa. Although your land’s name is so unpleasant to the ears, what ‘old cat defecating’ or ‘little dog defecating’, I have no choice but to accept it.”

Feodor considered, “You, China, want to take over my Luomonuoshafa; that would never happen. But you, Wei Xiaobao, have already received nobility title from my Russian Empire; if you want to overtake my land, it would be troublesome for me. We do not really want to keep Yakesa anyway, you have already attacked and taken it, if I want you to retreat, naturally you are unwilling.” Thereupon with a smiling face he said, “Since Yakesa is Honorable Envoy’s territory granted by the Emperor, we are willing to withdraw one step. The two countries still have Heilongjiang as our border, but Yakesa and the area within ten li of the city belong to China. This arrangement is completely for Honorable Envoy’s sake, the maximum concession we have ever made.”

Wei Xiaobao thought, “You have been defeated in battle, yet still put on such an air. If this battle was won by you, Luocha people, I am afraid you will even want to have Beijing as your territory.” He said, “We have fought a battle. I wonder if it was you who won, or was it us?”

Feodor knitted his brows and said, “It was a tiny battle, we can’t say who won who lost. Her Highness the Princess has already issued a strict order, in order to give careful consideration to the reconciliation with your respected country, we must not open hostilities; as a result when your respected country’s troops attacked, our humble country’s officers and soldiers did not fight back. Otherwise, the situation would be greatly different.”

When Wei Xiaobao heard this, he was enraged. “So Luocha troops firearms cannot be considered fighting back?” he asked.

Feodor said, “They are merely defending our country’s land, it cannot be considered fighting back. If Luocha people really fight a battle, they would not stay still and did not attack. If the two countries are really at war, Luocha gunmen and Cossack cavalry would attack the city of Beijing.”

Wei Xiaobao was extremely furious; he thought, “Your granny, you yellow-haired demons talk big to scare people. If I am frightened by you, I will take your surname, I will become your son, my name is not Wei Xiaobao, but Xiaobao Feodor.” He had been to Moscow, so he knew that Luocha people’s custom was to have given name first and family name last, but Feodor was his given name, not family name; this fact he did not know. He said, “That’s very good! That’s great! Hojue [marquis] Daren, do you know what is the one thing that my heart desires the most?”

“I do not know,” Feodor replied, “Please advise.”

“Currently I am a duke,” Wei Xiaobao said, “But in my heart I hope for promotion to the nobility, to become a Junwang, a Qinwang[2].”

Feodor thought, “Promotion to the nobility, who does not want it?” He smiled and said, “Gongjue [duke] Daren is able and efficient, plus your respected country’s Emperor dotes on and trusts you; you only need to render several more merits, you will be conferred the title Junwang or Qinwang. I have no doubt about it. The humble one earnestly and sincerely wishes you will succeed earlier.”

Wei Xiaobao lowered his voice, “This matter can only succeed if you help me, otherwise I am afraid I would fail.”

Feodor was surprised. “Humble one will definitely help,” he said, “But I wonder how can I help?”

Wei Xiaobao leaned over to put his mouth near Feodor’s ear and whispered, “According to our Great Qing rule, only after achieving great victory in battle and rendering military service will one be conferred the title Wang [king]. Right now our country is peaceful, there is no disturbance, all rebellions are already suppressed. In the next twenty, thirty years, I am afraid there won’t be any battle to fight. My desire to be a Wang would be very difficult to achieve. This time we are drawing boundary and negotiating peace, you do not want to yield at all; it would be best if you send your troops to challenge us, to kill one or two of our high-ranking ministers in here. Our two countries will fight a war, you send your gunmen and Cossack cavalry to attack Beijing. We make an alliance with Sweden, have them send their troops to attack Moscow. We kill until the sand surging on, until the blood flow becomes a river; at that time I can be a Wang. Please, please, by all means, help me in this big effort. But don’t talk too loud, don’t let others hear it.”

The more Feodor listened to him, the more he was surprised; he thought that this youngster was too brazen, in order to be conferred the title ‘King’, he did not hesitate to provoke both countries to war, he even wanted to form an alliance with Sweden. If this war really broke, although in the future who won who lost were still unknown, but right this moment the other side was numerous while my side was few, there was a wide gap between the two sides’ military power, right away his defeat was guaranteed. In his heart he quite regretted that he had made the threat earlier by saying those things about gunmen and Cossack cavalry attacking the city of Beijing. This youngster thought it was real, not only he was no afraid, he was delighted instead. This time Feodor felt like he had outsmarted himself. However, if he exposed any hint that he was intimidated, he knew Wei Xiaobao would look down on him. Momentarily he was at a loss of what to say.

Wei Xiaobao continued, “Moscow is too far from here, if the Qing troops is going to attack, in all honesty I do not have any confidence we would win; perhaps we will be defeated and then His Majesty will blame me instead …”

Hearing this, Feodor saw an opportunity to take a turn for the better; his face lit up as he busily said, “Yes, yes. If I may offer a bit of advice, Your Excellency had better not take the risks.”

“I only want to render some merit so that I could be conferred the title ‘King’, it’s not that I want to wipe out Luocha country,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Your respected country is so big, I don’t have the capability to wipe it out.” Feodor repeatedly agreed.

Lowering his voice again Wei Xiaobao said, “How about this: you send your troops to attack Beijing, I will send my troops to attack Nerchinsk. The two of us brothers attack our respective target; conquering Beijing will be your merit, conquering Nerchinsk would be mine. Don’t you think this strategy is wonderful?”

Feodor groaned inwardly; in his hands he only had a little more than two thousand cavalry, even to attack Yakesa he was powerless, much less to attack Beijing. He thought that if he did not admit he was wrong, perhaps this youngster would turn pretense into reality. Without any choice he forced a laugh and said, “Gongjue Daren, please do not take offense. Just now I said gunmen and Cossack cavalry would attack the city of Beijing, you must not think it was the truth. I made a mistake, and I want to take it back completely.”

“Something that you have said, how could you take it back?” Wei Xiaobao asked in surprise.

Feodor said, “Humble one was only provoking Gongjue Daren, please forget that I ever said those words.”

“In that case,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Your Luocha troops will not attack Beijing?”

“We won’t,” Feodor said, “Definitely we won’t.”

“And you won’t take over my Yakesa either?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

Feodor shook his head, “We won’t, we won’t,” he said.

Wei Xiaobao said, “How about Nerchinsk? You decided you won’t dare to covet it anymore?”

Feodor was startled. He said, “This Nerchinsk is our Tsar’s territory, Gongjue Daren please forgive me.”

Wei Xiaobao thought, “Suzhou people say ‘the whole sky demand for value, the whole earth still has to pay’. I asked him for Nerchinsk, he does not want to hand it over. I want to see what he would say if I ask for the land west of Nerchinsk.” He said, “This time we negotiate peace, we have to have fair dealing, cheating neither old nor young, neither side can suffer any loss; is that right?”

Feodor nodded. “That’s right,” he said, “Both countries are defining the boundary, establishing lasting peace.”

“That’s very good,” Wei Xiaobao said, “If we draw the border too close to Moscow, you Luocha people will suffer loss. If we draw the border too close to Beijing, we Chinese will suffer loss. The best method is to draw it right in the middle; one half equal to zero point five.”

“What does ‘one half equal to zero point five’ mean?” Feodor asked.

Wei Xiaobao said, “From Moscow to Beijing is approximately three months; is that right?”

“Right,” Feodor replied.

Wei Xiaobao said, “Three months divided by two, is what?”

Feodor did not understand his intention, he simply replied, “Is one and a half month.”

“That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “We don’t need to talk too much. Everybody go back to our own capital. And then from Moscow you set off to the east, from Beijing I set off to the west. We all travel for one and a half month, naturally we will come across each other, right?”

“Yes,” Feodor replied, “But I still don’t know Daren’s intention.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “This is the most impartial way of defining the border. The place where we meet is the border between the two countries. That place is one and a half month away from Moscow, it is also one and a half month from Beijing. You do not take any advantage, and we do not suffer any loss. However, our recent victory would be considered void. In the end you are still having the advantage, are you not?”

Feodor’s entire face flushed red. “This … this … this …” he said, while standing up.

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You also think that this way is extremely fair, don’t you?”

Feodor shook his hand at once. “No, no!” he said, “Absolutely not. If we draw the border this way, won’t that mean half of the Russian Empire will fall into your hands?”

“Can’t be half,” Wei Xiaobao said, “West of your Moscow, there are a lot of land. Those areas need not be divided evenly with China; why be so polite?”

Feodor was so angry that his beard was sticking out. After quite a while, he finally said, “Gongjue Daren, if you sincerely want to negotiate peace, you ought to offer fair and reasonable proposition. This … this kind of method, in which you want half of our country, you are … you are bullying us too much.” Panting with rage, he sat back down on his chair. ‘Bang!’ he landed so hard that the chair was creaking incessantly.

In a low voice Wei Xiaobao said, “Actually, negotiating peace and drawing boundaries is not so much fun, I like the idea of us fighting a war first. What do you say?”

Feodor panting for breath continuously; he could not refrain from slapping the table and standing up. “If you want to fight then let’s fight!” he shouted on top of his lungs. But then he thought that if the war continued, the aftermath was indeed too grave; his side was completely without hope that they would win. He had no choice but struggling hard to restraint himself and keep silent.

Wei Xiaobao suddenly reached out and slapped the table. “I got it, I got it!” he said with a laugh, “I know another fair way.” Putting his hand into his pocket, he took out two dice, blew it, and tossed the dice onto the table. “You don’t want to fight a war, you don’t want to go fifty-fifty either. Let us throw the dice; let’s just say that there is a ten thousand li of road from Beijing to Moscow, we divide it into ten equal parts, each part is one thousand li. You and I will throw the dice for ten rounds, for each round, the stake is one thousand li of land. If your luck is good and you won all ten rounds, then all the land up to Beijing’s city wall will belong to Luocha country.”

“Humph,” Feodor said, “And if I lose all ten rounds?”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Why don’t you tell me?”

Feodor said, “Could it be that east of Moscow, ten thousand li of rivers and mountains, will belong to China?”

“I am guessing that your luck will not be that bad,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I can’t imagine that in ten rounds you won’t win at least one round. For each round you win, you preserve a thousand li of land, two rounds two thousand li; if you win six rounds, you already gain advantage.”

“What advantage?” Feodor angrily said, “East of Moscow, six thousand li is originally Russian territory. Seven thousand li, eight thousand li, are also Russian territory.”

While Wei Xiaobao and Feodor were having these incessant exchanges, on the side, the Dutch clergyman also constantly translated it into Chinese in low voice. Tong Guogang, Songgotu and the others listened attentively. At first they thought that Feodor was capricious, harsh and unreasonable; unexpectedly he demanded that Heilongjiang to be the boundary between the two countries. How could he force China to give up Liaodong, which was the Manchuria’s dragon rising place? In their hearts they were quite angry. Afterwards they heard how Wei Xiaobao conveyed his voracious desire to fight a war to establish meritorious service so that he could be conferred the title ‘King’, and the Russian envoy appeared to show strength while weak inside; he did not dare to respond. And then they heard how Wei Xiaobao was rambling incoherently, about swapping the territory granted by their respective emperor, how he proposed to go fifty-fifty, and lastly how to throw the dice to define the boundary, with one thousand li of land as the stake for each round. They knew he was talking rubbish, the opposite party could not possibly agree to this. But they could also see that Feodor’s arrogance has been greatly dampened; they thought, “Luocha people are harsh and unreasonable, certainly it is a fully justified reputation. If we negotiate with them in deadly earnest, we will definitely be put in a disadvantageous position. His Majesty sent Wei Gongjue to be in charge of this negotiation, he really knew how to use a man according to his ability. This foreign demon is a barbarian, only a marketplace hoodlum without learning or skills like Wei Gongjue can oppose him with equal harshness, fighting barbarian with a barbarian.”

Although on their faces Tong Guogang, Songgotu and the other ministers were very respectful and courteous toward Wei Xiaobao, in the bottom of their hearts they actually looked down on him; they all felt that he was no more than a clown, a court jester whom the Emperor doted on. His day-to-day speech and action was oftentimes shameful; he was clever, but clearly had no sense of shame, one who think highly of himself. This time he was appointed envoy minister to stop the enemy at the banquet table, they thought it would be difficult for their country to avoid humiliation in front of a foreign nation, to cause their country to lose face. Who would have imagined that the Emperor actually had the capacity to judge character and utilize people to their ability? If he did not send this mischievous character on this particular mission, among the civil and military ministers in the Manchurian Qing’s court, there was really no other man who would be able to accomplish it. The more the crowd of ministers listened, the more they admired him; they felt that the Emperor was extremely wise and farsighted; far from the reach of anybody among the high-ranking ministers.

Listening to this point, Songgotu suddenly interjected, “Moscow is actually our China’s territory.”

The Dutch priest translated the sentence. Feodor was stunned; he thought, “This youngster is babbling nonsense; that is still all right. But you, an old man, also shamelessly talk drivel? You said our country’s capital, Moscow is your China’s territory?”

Songgotu said, “According to Honorable Envoy’s argument, as long as Luocha people temporarily occupy an area, that land will be considered Luocha country’s territory; is that right?”

“Isn’t that so?” Feodor said, “Honorable Envoy said that Moscow is Chinese territory, hey hey, that … that is a joke, a ridiculous argument.”

Songgotu said, “Luocha country’s people consist of Great Russia, Minor Russia, White Russia, also Cossacks, Tatars, and the other. Those are all Luocha people.”

“Absolutely right,” Feodor said, “Our country’s territory is vast, the people are numerous.”

Songgotu said, “The ethnicities of our country’s common people are also numerous. We have Manchu people, Mongolian, Han, Miao, Hui, Tibetan, and so on.”

“Exactly,” Feodor said, “Russia is a great country, China is also a great country. Our two countries are the biggest countries of the present age.”

Songgotu said, “The bodyguards that Honorable Envoy brings this time seem to be Cossack cavalry.”

Feodor smiled and said, “Cossack cavalry’s bravery is unequalled, they are the most formidable warriors in the world.”

Songgotu said, “Is Cossack cavalry a lot more formidable than Russians?”

“We can’t say that,” Feodor replied, “The Cossacks are Luocha’s common people, Russians are also Luocha’s common people; there is not the least bit difference between the two. Just like Manchu people are Chinese, Mongolians, Hans, are also Chinese; there is not the least bit difference.”

Songgotu nodded. “That is so,” he said, “Consequently, Moscow is our Chinese territory.”

Listening to this point, Wei Xiaobao still did not understand Songgotu’s intention; he was fully aware that Moscow was tens of thousand li away, definitely it was not Chinese territory. But he saw that Songgotu seemed to be pressing the issue, and that Feodor’s veins were bulging on his forehead, his countenance alternated between ashen and deep red, he appeared to be very angry that he had turned mad. Thereupon Wei Xiaobao interrupted, “Moscow is Chinese territory, that is absolutely true. Chinese Emperor is magnanimous, he let you did like Liu Bei borrowed Jingzhou, but after borrowing it he never returned it back.”

Naturally Feodor did not know anything about Liu Bei borrowing Jingzhou, he just felt that these Chinese barbarians did not speak with reasons, they talked not as civilized people. He said with a cold laugh, “I previously heard that China was long-established, that Chinese people were very well-learned; who would have thought … hey, hey, you are experts in talking drivel without any proof.”

Songgotu said, “Honorable Envoy is a high-ranking minister of Luocha country, even if you did not have much learning, but you would know Luocha country’s history, I presume?”

Feodor said, “Our country’s history is well-written as a proof, everything is written down clearly, not at all like other people speak thoughtlessly and casually.”

“That’s very good,” Songgotu said, “In the past China had an emperor, called Genghis Khan …”

As soon as Feodor heard the name ‘Genghis Khan’, four characters [cheng ji si han], he could not help blurting out ‘Aiyo’, while in his heart he groaned, “Bad, bad! Why was I so muddleheaded that I completely forgot about this big matter?”

Songgotu continued, “This Genghis Khan, in China we call him Yuan Taizu [lit. grand ancestor], because he was the Great Ancestor who founded our China’s Yuan Dynasty. He was a Mongol; Honorable Envoy has just said that Manchus, Mongols, Hans, are all Chinese, there is not the least bit difference. At that time Mongolian cavalry launched military expedition to the west, and have had quite a few major battles with the Luocha troops. Your respected country’s history books have the proof, everything is written down clearly, it’s not something that other people speak thoughtlessly and casually. These several battles, I wonder if they were won by us, the Chinese, or were they won by your respected country, Luocha people?”

Feodor was speechless. After quite a while, he finally replied, “The Mongols won.”

“And Mongols are Chinese!” Songgotu said.

Feodor stared blankly for half a day, finally he slowly nodded his head.

Wei Xiaobao did not know that there was such thing in the past; when he heard that, immediately his spirit received a big boost. “Chinese and Luocha people fought a war, undoubtedly Luocha people would lose. Your ability is a bit inferior, next time we fight another war, we only need to use one hand. Otherwise, the difference between the two sides is too far, the war would not have been fun to fight.”

Feodor glowered at him; he mused, “If not for Her Highness the Princess has issued a strict order that this time we could only use peaceful method and not use force, just based on this word of yours that you are insulting us, Luocha people, I would have challenged you for a duel.”

With a giggle Wei Xiaobao asked Songgotu, “Suo Dage, how did Genghis Khan defeat Luocha troops?”

Songgotu said, “In those days Genghis Khan deployed two ten-thousand men companies on the military expedition to the west, altogether there were only twenty thousand men and horses. They attacked and inflicted heavy damage to more than a hundred thousand men Luocha coalition army. Genghis Khan’s grandson, Batu was also a great hero, his army defeated the Luocha troops utterly, and he occupied Moscow, striking all the way to Poland, Hungary, and crossed the Danube. For the next several hundred years, Luocha’s princes, dukes, and the nobles had to obey us, the Chinese. At that time our Chinese Mongolian heroes lived in gold-inlaid tents. Moscow’s princes and dukes oftentimes had to come and kowtow to Chinese people. When the Chinese said they wanted to spank these people’ bottom, they would simply spank their bottoms. When they said they wanted to slap, they simply slapped, the Luocha people would still giggle and cry out that the beating was good, the beating was too few. Otherwise, he could not be a duke anymore.”

(Book note: In 1238AD Mongolian Great General Batu took over Moscow and Kiev. From 1240 to 1480AD, for 240 years the Mongolians ruled Russian vast territory, they established the ‘Golden Horde’ [lit. golden tent Khanate]. The ‘Encyclopedia Britannica’ has the following entry on the subject of Russia: ‘The Princes and Dukes of Moscow must go to Sarai city at the mouth of Volga River to have an audience with the Mongolian Khan in his golden tent before they could receive the nobility title. They had to endure many different kinds of humiliation. After paying their respect and returning to Moscow they then could collect taxes from the Tatars and could push around the neighboring smaller states’ feudal vassals.’)[3]

Hearing this, Wei Xiaobao was radiant with delight; he struck the table and exclaimed happily, “Dear dragon of the east! Turns out Moscow indeed belongs to China.”

Feodor’s face alternated between green and white. Songgotu was stating a historical fact, it was not a false statement at all, it’s just that Luocha people previously did not admit Mongolians as Chinese. This time, however, Mongolia indeed belonged to China, hence the inference that Moscow also belonged to China was not completely baseless.

“Your Excellency Marquis,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I’ll say this discussion about defining border need not be continued. Please go back and ask the Princess when she is going to return Moscow to China. I will also go back to Beijing, to procure leather and gold to manufacture golden tent, and then tear down Kremlin Palace and erect the golden tent on its place, and ask Princess Sophia to sleep in it. Ha ha, ha ha …!”

Hearing to this point, Feodor could no longer show restraint; he sprang up and rushed out of the tent. They heard his angry voice like thunder, shouting order and issuing his instruction, followed by the sound of hoof beats. More than two hundred horses rushed over. Wei Xiaobao was shocked. “Aiyo!” he cried out, “These hairy people are going to attack, we’d better run for our lives.”

Tong Guogang had been through many battles, he was completely calm. “Wei Gongjue don’t panic,” he shouted, “If he wants to fight then let’s fight; who is afraid of him?”

They heard outside the tent the Cossack cavalry shouted together. Wei Xiaobao was so scared that his entire body trembled. He ducked down and hid underneath the table. Tong Guogang and Songgotu looked at each other in dismay; in their hearts they could not help but panicking as well.

The tent curtain was opened, a general strode in, it was none other than the commander of the rattan shield troops, Lin Xingzhu. He said in a loud and clear voice, “Reporting to Grand Marshal …” but he did not see the Grand Marshal.

From underneath the table Wei Xiaobao said, “I … I … I am here. Everybody quickly … quickly run for your lives.”

Lin Xingzhu squatted down to speak to the Grand Marshal Wei underneath the table, “Reporting to Grand Marshal: Luocha troops’ prestige is impressive, but we must not show weakness; if we have to fight then let’s damn fight.”

Hearing he spoke with confidence, Wei Xiaobao’s spirit calmed down; immediately he crawled out of the table. Just now he hastily took refuge under the table, but actually he was not being a coward blindly. Patting his chest he said, “Right, if we want to fight then let’s fight their grannies. Laozi being a soldier, bravely go … bravely go not … not in the front. No, that’s not right! Bravely go to show my worth.” (He wanted to say, ‘Bravely go to show one’s worth, not bravely go is of little value’.)

Pulling Lin Xingzhu’s hand he strode out the tent. As soon as he was outside, he saw two hundred sixty Cossack cavalry raising high their long sabers, riding on their fine horses, surrounding the tent to show off their military strength, speeding along in circles around the tent. Feodor shouted his command, the cavalry rushed away from the tent. They stopped approximately two hundred zhang away and arranged themselves in formation; two hundred sixty riders in ten neat and tidy rows. Suddenly they shouted together and rushed toward Wei Xiaobao.

“Mother!” Wei Xiaobao cried out, and turned around, ready to dash into the tent. But then he thought, “If the Luocha demons want to kill me, even if I hide inside the tent, they will still grab me. I must not lose this face.” His body was trembling, his face was the color of the earth, but unexpectedly he stood upright and did not move.

Lin Xingzhu thundered, “Rattan shield troops, protect the Grand Marshal! Come over!”

The two hundred sixty rattan shield troops responded in chorus, “Yes.” Quickly they moved and stood in front of Wei Xiaobao and the other high-ranking ministers.

From his boot Wei Xiaobao pulled his dagger, thinking, “If Luocha demons really want to resort to violence, everybody will fight desperately together, yi qi cannot be disregarded.” He rushed over in front of Songgotu and called out, “Suo Dage, don’t be afraid, I will protect you.”

Songgotu was a civil officer, he was already scared that his body and soul separated. He said, “I completely … completely rely on Xiongdi.”

They saw ten rows of Cossack cavalry charged swiftly toward them. When they were about five zhang away from the Qing troops, the captain in the front waved his long saber in the air and shouted his order. The cavalry straightened their backs and pulled the reins, two hundred sixty horses immediately stopped. The captain shouted his order again, the cavalry divided into two groups, a hundred and thirty riders split to the north, the other hundred and thirty riders went to the south. After speeding along for several dozen zhang, they made a big circle and returned to their original position, about two hundred zhang away from the tent and stopped. The formation was strictly maintained, they were not in disorder at all. These two hundred sixty men and horses were like one man one horse, indeed they were a highly trained group of elite troops.

Feodor laughed aloud and cried in a loud voice, “Gongjue Daren, what do you think of our Luocha troops?”

It was only then did Wei Xiaobao know that he was merely showing off their military prowess. In his heart he was furious. “That is no more than circus monkey stuff,” he cried, “In a real battle, it will be completely useless.”

Feodor angrily said, “We’ll do it again!” In his heart he said, “This time let them charge right in front of you, I want to see if you are going to run away or not.” He called out, “Knock the Chinese troops’ hat off their heads.”

The Cossack cavalry captain shouted his order, two hundred sixty cavalry charged forward again.

“Chop the horses’ legs!” Wei Xiaobao called out.

“Receive the order!” Lin Xingzhu responded. “Chop the horses’ legs! Don’t hurt the people!”

They heard the thundering hoof beats, two hundred sixty horses were getting closer and closer, Cossack cavalry’s long sabers flickered under the sunlight, soon they were only about thirty zhang away, then twenty zhang, ten zhang … and still they did not stop. When they were about four, five zhang away, Lin Xingzhu shouted, “Roll down, move, move, move!” Two hundred and sixty rattan shield troops leaped forward and rolled on the ground.

These two hundred and sixty men were under Lin Xingzhu’s personal training, they were expert in Di Tang Saber Technique; their movement and saber playing had been trained to perfection. As they rolled forward, the rattan shield protected their bodies, but did not reveal the least bit of saber’s glitter.

The Cossack cavalry suddenly saw the Qing troops rolled on the ground, they were all stunned. The troops defending Yakesa had suffered defeat under the rattan shield troops’ hands, but those defenders were either dead or taken captive; they were completely wiped out. The Cossack cavalry was fresh from Moscow, escorting Feodor to the east; they had never seen the rattan shield troops’ movement, they all thought that by rolling around on the ground, you look really silly, so don’t blame us if you are trampled to your death by the horses.

In an instant the first row of cavalry clashed with the rattan shield troops. Suddenly the horses neighed and fell down one after another. The rattan shield troops brandished their sharp blades, one saber sweep chopped one or two horse’s legs. With the rattan shield protecting their bodies, they continuously rolled around and chopped more horses. Amidst the cry of Luocha troops and the neigh of their horses, the rattan shield troops already swept pass all ten rows, chopping a hundred seventy or a hundred eighty horses’ legs. And then they all stood in formation behind the Cossack cavalry. Under Lin Xingzhu’s leadership the rattan shield troops then ran quickly back and lined up in front of Wei Xiaobao. From the two hundred sixty men, only about a dozen or so suffered bruises from the horses’ kicks, but their injuries were light, the injured bore their pain silently as they stood in formation.

More than half of the two hundred and sixty Cossack cavalry were thrown down from their horses, some were crushed by their own mounts, they were lying on the ground, groaning and crying out in distress. Only several dozen men still stayed on their horses as they ran far away. Most of them stood on the ground, at a loss of what to do. All their lives these cavalry troops spent their time on the horseback; only by riding their mounts would these men be swift, fierce and brave. With their feet on the ground, they were like fish out of the water, without their mounts they had nothing to rely on.

Wei Xiaobao called out, “Divide the troops, surround the high-ranking Luocha officials.”

Lin Xingzhu shouted his order, immediately a hundred rattan shield troops surrounded Feodor and the others, a dozen or so Luocha ministers, a hundred broadswords formed a large blade ring, the blades were facing inward; just with one order these hundred broadswords would press in, Feodor and the others would definitely turn into Luocha meatloaf.

Seeing this situation, the deputy captain of the Cossack cavalry dashed forward and shouted, “Must not harm people, must not harm people!”

Wei Xiaobao turned his head around and spoke to Shuang’er, who was wearing personal guard uniform, “Go seal their acupoints.”

“Alright!” Shuang’er replied, and leaped out behind the Cossack cavalry captain; stretching out her finger she sealed the acupoint on his lower back, and then she also sealed the deputy captain’s acupoint.

A junior captain put his hand into his pocket and pulled a short gun. “Don’t move!” he shouted.

Shuang’er grabbed a Luocha soldier by her side and held him in front of her body. With the soldier as a shield, she pressed several steps forward. The junior captain did not dare to open fire. “Don’t move!” he shouted again.

Shuang’er threw the Luocha soldier toward him. The junior captain was startled; he dodged sideways. Shuang’er leaped forward, and sealed the acupoints on his chest and waist, and then she grabbed the gun in his hand, pointed it to the sky, and then ‘bang!’ it went off.

Wei Xiaobao shouted loudly, “Well, well, both sides have agreed not to carry firearms; you Luocha demons cannot be trusted at all.” Taking several steps forward, he said to Feodor, “Hey, tell your men to throw their weapons down, get down from their horses, and stand in line. Those who carry firearms must hand it over.”

Feodor knew he could not defy, hence he issued the order; the Cossack cavalry had no choice but to throw down their sabers and swords, dismounted from their horses and stood in formation. Wei Xiaobao ordered the two hundred and sixty rattan shield troops to surround and searched the Luocha troops. From two hundred and sixty men, they found more than two hundred and eighty short guns; some men carried two.

The Luocha troops standing guard at Nerchinsk city wall saw the turn of events, they advanced slowly. The Qing troops on the east also slowly moving forward. When the distance between them was about several hundred steps, both armies arranged themselves in formation, facing each other. Seeing their commander-in-chief was surrounded, the Luocha troops could only groan inwardly, they did not dare to move further.

Wei Xiaobao asked Feodor, “Hojue Daren, what did you bring that many firearms for?”

Feodor hung his head and said, “I am so sorry, my bodyguards did not obey the order, they secretly carried firearms. When we get back I will severely punish them.”

Wei Xiaobao called out, “Rattan shield troops, open your clothes, let them see if you are carrying firearms or not?”

Two hundred and sixty rattan shield troops tossed their shields aside, with their left hands they undid their clothes, with their right hands they held the broadsword high to guard against the enemy making a move. Everybody opened their clothes, exposing their chests, and hopped several times. Sure enough, nobody carried any firearm. Feodor was very ashamed, he hung his head low and did not say anything.

Wei Xiaobao shouted in Luocha language, “Luocha people have no sense of shame, strip their clothes and pants, see if they still conceal firearms or not?”

Feodor was greatly alarmed; he hastily said, “Gongjue Daren, please show mercy. If you … you strip my pants, I … I will have no choice but to commit suicide.”

“This stripping of pants must be done,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

Feodor said, “Please forgive us just this one time, in other matters we will obey whatever you tell us to do.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Just now your cavalry rushed over and scared me that I hid under the table; the Gongjue Daren has lost a lot of face. What do you do about that?”

Feodor thought, “You are the one who is a coward, what can I do about it?” But since the Qing troops’ blade flickered around him, he had no choice but to say, “The humble one is ready to pay for the damage.”

Wei Xiaobao was secretly delighted; he thought, “Luocha bamboo pole is coming.” [See note 11, Chapter 10 on ‘bamboo pole’.] Momentarily he could not think of what he wanted Feodor to give him; he turned his head around and issued an order, “Cut the belts of all Luocha high-ranking officials and lowly soldiers’ pants.”

“Receive the order!” the rattan shield troops shouted. They lifted their blades, insert it into Luocha men’s waist with the sharp of the blade facing outward, and pulled. The belts were immediately cut. From Feodor down, all Luocha men were scared out of their wits. With both hands they held their pants tight, for fear they would fall.

Wei Xiaobao roared in laughter. He issued another order, “Escort the Luocha people back to our camp in triumph!”

By this time all Luocha officers and men were worried that their pants would drop down, nobody dared to resist; they followed the Qing troops marching to the east.

Tong Guogang said with a laugh, “Grand Marshal Wei’s brilliant scheme is indeed admirable. Cutting their belts is the same as instantly tying the hands of two hundred and sixty Luocha officers and men behind their back.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Luocha men are very afraid to take off their pants, on the contrary, Luocha women are not afraid at all; isn’t that very strange?” Tong Guogang and the others laughed at this sexual innuendo.

The party met with the main army. The Qing troops pushed out more than four hundred cannon and took off the cannon covering, the cannon’s muzzles were trained at the Luocha troops. Although Luocha country’s firearms were sharp, in their mission to the east this time, their preparation was not as good as Kangxi, who had half the number of cannon available in the entire country sent to Nerchinsk. Therefore, in term of firepower, the Qing army was several times more superior. When the Luocha troops suddenly saw these many cannon, they all looked at each other with fear on their faces. Their commander hastily issued an order to return to the city and close the city gate tightly. The Qing army did not continue besieging the city either.

In the meantime the Cossack cavalry captain, deputy captain, and the junior captain’s acupoints were still sealed by Shuang’er, they were unable to move a single step. The three men were standing on the open space like clay figurine or wooden statue. When the Luocha troops returned and entered Nerchinsk, they were in such a hurry that they did not pay attention. By the time they climbed the city wall and looked, they were astonished, but nobody dared to get out of the city to help. After about an hour, they saw the three men were still unmoving, so then a company of Cossack cavalry went out of the city to rescue them. But they only walked a dozen of zhang or so, the Qing army’s cannon were fired several times. The general defending the city hastily ordered the trumpeter to sound the bugle to order the cavalry to return to the city; he was afraid the Qing army would attack so that the rescuing team would also fall into their trap.

On top of the city wall, under the city wall, the two armies watched from a distance the three men were still standing motionless in a rather weird posture. The Qing troops roared in laughter. The Luocha troops were overwhelmed with shock. Wei Xiaobao invited Feodor and his delegation to enter the command tent and have everybody sat separately as the hosts and guests. Wei Xiaobao only chuckled without saying anything.

Gongjue Daren,” Feodor angrily said, “You don’t need to play tricks with me. If you want to kill me then just kill me.”

Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “You and I are friends, why would I want to kill you? Let us continue the talk about defining the border.” He thought that since the ministers, the opposite party’s delegation to discuss the border had fallen into their hands, no matter what condition he raised, it would be hard for the opposite party to refuse.

Who would have thought that Feodor was born from a military family, he was extremely unyielding. Boldly he said, “I am your prisoner, not a diplomatic envoy of equal standing to discuss the border. I am under your threats, any talk cannot continue. Even if the talk continued and the treaty signed, it cannot take effect.”

“Why can’t it take effect?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

Feodor said, “Because all clause are decided by you, what is there to talk about? You cannot force me to negotiate with you.”

“Why can’t I force you to negotiate with me?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

“I will never surrender,” Feodor replied, “Brandish your blade and kill me, shoot me with your gun, feel free to make your move.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “What if I have people strip your pants?”

Feodor was enraged; he suddenly stood up and shouted, “You …” He only said one word, ‘you’, his pants suddenly slipped down; hastily he reached down and grabbed them. His belt was cut off, when he sat down, he did not need to hold his pants, but in rage he stood up and forgot about it. Fortunately he managed to grab his pants promptly that he did not make a fool of himself. All the ministers and attendants on Qing’s side in the tent roared in laughter.

Feodor was so angry that his face turned snow white, his hands held on to his pants, his expression looked extremely awkward. He wanted to make a vehement speech, too bad he could not brandish his hands to add emphasis; no matter how passionate he spoke, it would be bound to be limited. “Pei!” he spat angrily and sat down. “I am His Majesty the Tsar of Luocha country’s ambassador, you cannot humiliate me,” he said.

“You may rest assured that I will not humiliate you,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Let us discuss the national boundary nicely.”

Feodor took out a handkerchief from his pocket, wrapped it around his own mouth, and tied it behind his back; the meaning was that he was resolved not to talk. Wei Xiaobao ordered his personal guards to get some fine wine and delicious food and set it up on the table. He poured a cup of wine and said with a laugh, “Please, please, don’t be polite.”

Smelling the aroma of the food and wine, Feodor was unable to resist; he untied the handkerchief, picked up the cup and drank. Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Marquis, you are using your mouth?”

Feodor continued drinking wine and eating the food, but did not answer, stating that his mouth was only used to eat and drink, and not for anything else. Wei Xiaobao repeatedly urged him to drink more wine, thinking that if he could get him drunk, perhaps he could get him to surrender. Who would have thought that even after drinking a dozen or more cups of wine, eating several chunks of beef, he used the handkerchief to wipe his mouth, and tied it again over his mouth? Seeing that, Wei Xiaobao was quite amused. He ordered his personal guards to take Feodor to a tent in the back to let him rest, and to guard him well; while he discussed how to deal with this matter with Songgotu, Tong Guogang and the others.

Tong Guogang said, “This man is so stubborn, he resolutely refuse to talk peace in our army camp. But I am not willing to let him go back to his camp.”

Songgotu said, “We can detain him for ten days, eight days, every day we slaughter one Luocha demon in his presence, I want to see if he will still be that stubborn.”

Tong Guogang said, “If we hound him to death, inevitably this matter will be brought to deadlock. We use military force to capture the opposite side’s minister to negotiate peace, perhaps His Majesty would put the blame on us.”

“Tong Gongye [duke] is right,” Songgotu said, “Blindly using force on him is not the way to deal with him.”

After long deliberation, the high-ranking ministers still could not come up with a wise policy. Today they were able to capture Feodor; although it was a victory, it was not the original idea of the Emperor in seeking peace. It could be said that they had violated the imperial court’s project of paramount importance, that they had handled this matter poorly; it was possible that the table would turn and they would be charged with the serious crime of disobeying the imperial edict.

At the end of the deliberation, all the ministers advised Wei Xiaobao to release Feodor. “Very well!” Wei Xiaobao said, “Let’s detain him for one night, early morning tomorrow we will let him go.”

Returning to his tent, he paced back and forth while considering this matter. Suddenly he recalled something, “Earlier I copied Zhuge Liang burning down the Coiling Snake Valley, and achieved great victory by taking down Yakesa. Laozi can also copy Zhou Yu’s trick in the play ‘Meeting of Heroes’.” After thinking about it for a while, he came up with an idea.

Returning to the command tent, he invited the translator, the Dutch missionary to come over and had a serious discussion with him. Wei Xiaobao asked him to teach him some twenty Luocha sentences, and he learned to say those sentences correctly. He also summoned four high-ranking military officers, along with the captain of his personal guards, and instructed them to do certain things. Everybody received the order and left.

Feodor was sleeping in a tent on the back. Different thoughts surging in his mind; there was fright, and then there was remorse, how could he sleep? He tossed and turned until midnight, and then he heard snores like thunder coming from the entrance to the tent, unexpectedly the three personal guards who were on guard duty had fallen asleep.

Feodor thought, “If I don’t agree to the Chinese barbarians’ terms, it would be difficult for me to escape. If tomorrow I provoke that little demon and he gets angry and kills me, won’t I die in injustice? Heaven helps me that these three guards are asleep, why not take chances and escape now?” Quietly he got up from the bed, untied the leather strap across his back and wrapped it around his waist to prevent his pants from falling down, and then he tiptoed to the tent entrance. He saw the three personal guards were leaning against the tent posts and were sleeping soundly.

He reached out toward a personal guard’s waist with the intention to pull the saber hanging on the guard’s waist. The guard suddenly sneezed. Feodor jumped in fright and hastily pulled his hand back. After a while and he still did not see any movement, he went for another guard’s saber. The personal guard suddenly stretched out and mumbled some indistinct words. Feodor did not dare to tarry anymore, he quietly went out of the tent, fortunately the three personal guards neither saw nor sensed that he was gone.

Once Feodor was outside, he hid in the shadows; he saw the night guards on patrol with lanterns in one hand and saber in the other. There were patrolling soldiers to his north, east and south, only the west side was pitch-black, obviously there was no one on that side. Thereupon step by step he crept to the west, each time he saw a patrolling guard, he shrank behind a tent. Luckily all the way to the west the terrain was flat with nothing obstructing him.

He had just reached a large tent when suddenly he saw from the west a group of patrolling soldiers approaching. Feodor hastily crouched behind the tent. He heard someone inside was speaking; surprisingly the man was speaking in Luocha language. He heard the man said, “Gongjue Daren is determined to attack Moscow, it is not impossible, it’s just that it’s too far, it is really dangerous.”

Feodor was greatly alarmed. At once he crouched even lower to open a corner of the tent and looked inside. Once he got a good look, his heart was thumping madly. Inside, the tent was as bright as daytime. Wei Xiaobao was wearing full military attire, he was sitting in the middle, on either side of him stood a dozen or so high-ranking military officers, and further down there were several dozens of personal guards with broadsword in their hands. Standing by the table in front of Wei Xiaobao was the Dutch missionary, who acted as their interpreter earlier, talking to him.

He heard Wei Xiaobao spoke in Luocha language, “We drink wine and chat with Feodor in here, everything is fake, not real. We can talk with him for a month, two months, speaking back and forth, everything is fake, while our main force stealthily advancing to the west. Let Luocha princess receive that fool, Feodor’s report, constantly, letting her know that we are still talking, then she won’t be afraid, let her dance and go to bed with her sweetheart every day. Chinese main forces will suddenly arrived outside Moscow, with a sudden attack, the two Tsars and Princess Sophia will be captured. Luocha people will weep, kneel, surrender!”

The Dutch missionary said, “I don’t know anything about marching to war and fighting a battle, but holding a peace talk while sending troops for a sneak attack on their capital, won’t that mean we are breaching their trust too much? God gave us commandments, we must not cheat, we must not lie.”

“Ha ha,” Wei Xiaobao laughed, “It was Luocha people who cheated first, we have had an agreement, the guards of both sides carry firearms, not allowed. But on their bodies they hid firearms, short ones. They cheated, we cheat back. He bit me, once, I want to bite him, twice; bite him hard!”

“Hey,” the missionary exclaimed. After a while, he said, “I still advise Gongjue Daren not to go to war. The two countries go to war, the dead are all God’s people …”

Wei Xiaobao shook his hand, “No need to say too much. We only believe Buddha, we don’t believe God. If that Feodor is willing to have a fair negotiation, letting China has a bit more land, we can have a peaceful talk. But he is unwilling to yield even one li of land. After we attack and take over Moscow, Luocha men will go to heaven; the women, become Chinese people’s wives.”

The more Feodor heard, the more scared he was. “Oh my God,” he mused, “Chinese barbarians really disregard the law and natural morality, they are indeed daredevils.”

He heard Wei Xiaobao continued, “Today I sent a personal guard, on the three Cossack cavalry captains’ body, use finger to jab several times. These three captains, cannot move. Did you see that?”

“I did,” the missionary replied, “What kind of magic was that? It was very strange.”

“Chinese magic,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Genghis Khan, handed down. Genghis Khan used this method, attacked Luocha people, they kneeled and surrendered. We use the same method to attack them, Luocha country, will die!”

Feodor thought, “In those days Mongolia only had twenty thousand cavalry, they attacked all the way to Poland and Hungary; nobody in the world was able to stop them, apparently they were using magic. Eastern people are very strange, they are coming and will use magic; this … what should we do about it?”

He heard the missionary said, “If Luocha people open fire from the distance, your magic will be useless.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “That’s right. Consequently, we must pretend to have the negotiation in here, while the main forces are attacking Moscow. Just like little thieves, we sneak into the city. I have been to Moscow, there are a lot of Tatars in the city. Our troops will masquerade as Tatar shepherds, and sneak into the city. I guarantee the Luocha guards will not find out.”

Cold sweats started to run down Feodor’s back; he thought, “This Chinese little demon’s devilish plan is indeed formidable. Chinese soldiers traveling in disguise as Tatar shepherds, infiltrating our capital, unleashing their magical skill, how can we resist?”

He did not know that Shuang’er’s acupoint sealing technique was a high-level martial art skill, it required internal energy cultivation to reach high level stage before the practitioner could use it. From among the tens of thousands officers and men of the Qing army, she was the only one who could use the acupoint sealing technique. But Feodor thought that the magic only need to be taught, then anybody could use it. With just one touch of a finger, the opponents would be unable to move a single step. If tens of thousands Chinese soldiers used this technique in sneak attack against Moscow, perhaps Luocha country would be destroyed, its people annihilated.

He heard the missionary said, “If Gongjue Daren wants to send twenty thousand Chinese troops to sneak into Moscow, using the magic passed down by Genghis Khan to control the Luocha troops, then your plan to capture the two Tsars and the Princess may indeed be successful. However … however, this matter must be kept top secret. A big army traveling to the west, Luocha people must not find out about it. Gongjue Daren, Luocha country today is very strong, it is substantially different from when Genghis Khan fought the Luocha people in the past.”

“I have been to Moscow,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “I know the Luocha country’s situation very clearly. Early morning tomorrow we will release Feodor, let him go back. Afterwards we can continue negotiating with him; of course everything is fake. He is unwilling to agree, we negotiate in here for one day, Chinese main force is one day closer to Moscow.”

“Yes, yes,” the missionary said, “Daren must be careful in everything. This matter is really very dangerous.”

“I know,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You must not say anything. Don’t raise Feodor’s suspicion.” The missionary complied and withdrew.

Wei Xiaobao shouted, “Summon ‘tortoise b@stard dead chicken’ and ‘pig tribe coward’!”

His personal guard went out the tent, and returned with Poyarkov and Stepanov in tow. Wei Xiaobao said to the two men, “Tomorrow, I send two teams to Moscow, with many, many gifts, for Princess Sophia. On the road, robbers are many, send more troops to protect.”

Poyarkov said, “From here to Moscow there are only some small groups of Tatar bandits, plus they are not too ferocious. Gongjue Daren may set your heart at ease.”

“You don’t know,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Tatar robbers, eight or nine thousand men per group, some even twenty thousand, thirty thousand men.” Poyarkov and Stepanov looked at each other, their expressions showed their disbelief.

Wei Xiaobao said, “The two teams I send, will take two separate routes to Moscow, north and south. Wangbasiji will lead the one taking northern route, Zhuluonuofu will lead the southern route. These two routes, how are they?”

Poyarkov said, “Taking the northern route, from here going west to Chita, pass through Wusiwude [Ulan-Ude?], around the southern end of Great Lake Baikal, westward pass through Tomsk, Omsk, and the other cities, to Moscow.”

Stepanov said, “Taking the southern route, at first we will take the same road, after Lake Baikal the roads separate, heading southwest pass through the place where the Kazakhs live, continue westward through Osk, Uralsk, and so on, to Moscow.”

Wei Xiaobao nodded. “That’s right, those are the routes. My gifts, letter, and the Chinese envoy to deliver it to the Princess, the two of you lead the way. Lead well, rewards, lots of reward. Lead not well, Chinese generals will lead the troops, chop your heads. Dismiss!”

After the two Luocha captains withdrew, Wei Xiaobao picked up the golden arrow banner of command and issued his order. One by one the Chinese great generals bowed to receive the order. Feodor did not understand what they were speaking, but he saw that all Chinese great generals who receive the order had vehement expression on their faces; they struck their own chest with their fist and raised their hand to the sky as if making an oath. Apparently they pledged to their Grand Marshal that whatever happened they would achieve great success. Some even ran their palm across their own neck, some pulled their dagger and made a motion of stabbing it to their own chest, while with their mouth they did not stop chanting, “Moscow, Moscow.” Presumably they were saying that if they fail to take down Moscow, they would commit suicide.

Wei Xiaobao rambled on for a while. Four personal guards picked up a large map from the table, the map happened to face Feodor. He saw Wei Xiaobao traced his finger on the map, from Nerchinsk all the way to the west, following a thick red line, stopping at a red circle. Although Feodor could not read any Chinese character on the map, by looking at the bearing, he knew that the red circle represented Moscow. Wei Xiaobao rambled on again, his finger traced another line to Moscow. Feodor thought, “These Chinese barbarians are really vile; turns out they have thought through deliberately and methodically, they have long been prepared to attack Moscow.

Wei Xiaobao went on to say something, he repeatedly mentioned the name ‘Feodor’. When the generals heard him, they all roared in laughter. Feodor said in his heart, “You must be laughing at me, calling me an idiot; you are fooling me to negotiate the boundary, stalling me here for days, while surreptitiously you send troops to attack Moscow. Humph, I will not fall into your trick anymore.”

Slowly he stood up, thinking, “God bless me, He lets me discover Chinese barbarians’ big crafty scheme. It is clear that God shows concern for my Russian Empire, the fate of our nation will definitely be prosperous and grand. In any case, he is going to release me tomorrow, there is no need for me to take risks by running away tonight.”

He saw on the west side the patrolling soldiers come and go unendingly, but the east side was pitch-black and no one was in sight. Quietly he returned to his tent. Luckily the Qing troops did not see him at all. When he reached his tent, he saw that the three guards were still asleep; thereupon he entered his tent and went to sleep.

The next morning Feodor ate a sumptuous breakfast before following a personal guard back to the command tent. Wei Xiaobao laughed and asked, “Did Hojue Daren sleep well last night?”

“Humph,” Feodor said, “Your guards guarding me thoughtfully, naturally I slept very well.”

“Today you are not angry anymore?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Are we going to talk about the terms in defining the boundary?”

Feodor did not reply. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and wrapped it around his mouth. Wei Xiaobao was enraged; he shouted, “You are so stubborn. I will kill you immediately.”

Feodor was not afraid at all; he thought, “You already decided to release me today, why putting on airs? Who’s afraid of you?”

Wei Xiaobao threw a tantrum, but seeing Feodor did not budge, he was helpless. He had no choice but to say, “Very well! You are so brave, I admire you. I will let you go. Go back and rest well. After ten days, we will select another place to negotiate the boundary.”

Feodor thought, “You desperately want to delay, I am afraid by this time the troops to sneak attack Moscow have already left. I must not fall into your trick.” He said, “You let me go, then I thank you very much. To express our good faith, I propose we continue the negotiation in the afternoon today, no need to wait ten days.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “There is no rush, we all can rest first and slowly reconvene later.”

Feodor said, “Both countries’ sovereigns are hoping that the negotiation will succeed sooner rather than later. We can sign the treaty on the border definition first, taking a rest later will not be too late.”

“Our Emperor is not in a hurry,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Let’s continue the talk in five days.”

Feodor shook his head and said, “No need to delay, let’s do it today.”

“How about three days?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

“No, today!” Feodor replied.

“Tomorrow?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

“Today!” Feodor replied.

Wei Xiaobao sighed and said, “You are so resolute, I have no choice but to give up. But I must warn you, when talking about drawing the borders, I will definitely not budge casually. We will haggle one foot by one foot, one inch by one inch.”

Feodor thought, “Drawing the national boundary you want to haggle every foot every inch, by the time this matter is settled, you already breach Moscow’s city wall. You still think I am such a silly big melon?” Immediately he stood up and said, “In that case the humble one will take my leave, thank you for Gongjue Daren’s food and drink.”

Wei Xiaobao walked him out the tent. He dispatched a team of rattan shield troops to escort Feodor back to Nerchinsk, but he did not release the two hundred sixty Cossack cavalry.

When Feodor was outside the tent, he saw the place where the army camp was standing yesterday was absolutely empty, the main forces of the Qing army have already struck the camp and left. He was secretly fearful, “Chinese barbarians say something and immediately do it, indeed they are very formidable.”

When the group reached the tent where they had the talk the previous day, they saw the three Cossack captains were still standing at the same place, even their posture was still exactly the same as yesterday, they did not move at all. A thin and small officer leaped out from among the Qing troops. The officer went to the three captains while chanting loudly, “Genghis Khan, Genghis Khan!” and then patted and kneaded several places on the three men’s body. The three captains were then able to move slowly. It’s just that after standing half a day and one full night, they were extremely exhausted, their legs were numb, they dropped sitting down on the ground.

Six rattan shield troops stepped forward to help them up. After walking a dozen zhang or so, the three captains were able to walk by themselves. Feodor was even more astonished, “The magic passed down by Genghis Khan is incomparably formidable, no wonder he was able to move unhindered throughout the world and nobody was able to stop him. Fortunately right now the firearm is already invented so that we can keep the enemy from getting too close. Otherwise, the Chinese pagans would rule the world again, we who believe in God, the Christians, would become their slaves.”

The rattan shield troops escorted Feodor to Nerchinsk’s eastern city gate before returning to their camp. Feodor asked the three Cossack captains on how they were hit by magic. The three captains all said that at that time they only felt the middle of their back and their waist went numb, and then their whole body stiffened and could not move.

Feodor asked, “Are you wearing crucifix on your body?” The three captains untied their jacket, exposing the crucifix hanging on their necks, one even had the image of Jesus on it.

Feodor knitted his brows; he mused, “Genghis Khan’s magic is really formidable, even Jesus Christ’ crucifix cannot dispel the demonic influence.” Immediately he wrote three memorials to the throne and sent fifteen cavalry to take three different routes toward Moscow to report an emergency: Chinese army already left to launch sneak attack, they disguised themselves as Tatar shepherds to sneak into the Capital, must increase vigilant to guard against the attack.

By noon, one after another the three teams of messengers returned to the city, saying that all the roads to the west have been blocked by Chinese troops; as soon as they saw Luocha cavalry, they shot arrows from a distance; it was really difficult to go through them. Feodor was even more worried, “I must reach an agreement with the Chinese barbarians on the border treaty, so that they would withdraw the troops and horses immediately.”

By the wei hour [between 1-3pm], Feodor took a dozen or so attendants and went to the tent where the meeting was being held. This time he did not bring any Cossack cavalry at all, in order to show his good intention. Besides, even if he brought bodyguards, they could not withstand Chinese troops’ ‘Genghis Khan Magic’ anyway, hence they would be useless. Feodor had profound scholarly knowledge, he was a capable and experienced minister; he was actually not a person who was prone to be deceived by others, but the fear of Genghis Khan in Luocha people’s heart was deep-rooted, Shuang’er’s acupoint sealing skill was utterly exquisite, he had seen it with his own eyes, hence he cannot not believe.

He arrived at the tent first. Not too long afterwards Wei Xiaobao, Songgotu, Tong Guogang and the other, the high-ranking Qing delegation also arrived. Seeing the opposite party did not bring any guards, Wei Xiaobao also ordered the escorting rattan shield troops to withdraw. Both parties spoke some polite greetings, nobody mentioned anything about what happened yesterday, they went straight into negotiating the boundary.

Feodor aimed for speedy negotiation, he conceded to everything, his manner was completely different from the previous day. Wei Xiaobao laughed in his heart, knowing that the Zhou Yu’s trick in the play ‘Meeting of Heroes’ last night was highly successful. He did not understand anything about defining boundaries, hence he handed this matter over to Songgotu with the assistance of the Dutch missionary as the interpreter, to discuss the terms of the treaty with the opposite side.

He saw the two men, Songgotu and Feodor spread out a large map on the table. Songgotu’s finger constantly moving to the north, Feodor knitted his brows, cun by cun his finger retreated to the north. For each cun the finger yielded on the map, a hundred or so li of land fell under the jurisdiction of China.

After listening for a while, Wei Xiaobao could not endure anymore; he sat on another table and ordered the attendant to fetch the food case. Sitting cross-legged, he slowly chewed the pastries and delicacies, while softly humming the song ‘eighteen touches’.

Feodor had made up his mind to yield, but Songgotu was afraid of getting into trouble, hence he refrained from going to the extremes. However, the wording of the treaty was thorough, the clergymen of both sides translated everything into Latin, they discussed everything over and over again, it was a very time-consuming process. By the evening of the fourth day, the ‘Treaty of Nerchinsk’ with six clauses was completed.

Wei Xiaobao had Songgotu and Tong Guogang explained everything to him, he knew the substance of the treaty was very favorable to China, the land that was taken back into China’s territory was extremely vast, far more than Kangxi had intended in his imperial order. The treaty was made into four copies, one in Chinese, one in Luocha language, and two in Latin, explicitly provided for both sides so that when the text in both sides’ languages had a substantial difference, the Latin copy would serve as the reference.

Immediately the attendants ground some ink and dipped the brush, and then respectfully invited the Chinese Chief Imperial Envoy to sign the treaty. Wei Xiaobao knew the three characters comprising his name, it’s just that he often confused the character ‘zhang’ [章 – chapter/section] with the character ‘Wei’ [韋 – his surname], and character ‘mai’ [賣 – sell] with character ‘Bao’ [寶 – treasure]; hence when the characters were mixed together he often made mistake. Albeit with difficulty, he could handle the character ‘Xiao’ [小 – small]; the other two characters in front and in the back [orig. ‘head and tail’], however, he simply could not write, no matter what.

In all his life he seldom blushed, but right now unexpectedly a cinnabar color appeared on his face. It was not from anger, he was not drunk of wine either, but because he was somewhat ashamed. Knowing Wei Xiaobao very well, Songgotu said, “This kind of official document only need to be signed in some symbol used in place of a signature. Wei Daren may randomly write the character ‘Xiao’, it can already be considered your signature.”

Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted; he thought, “Writing the character ‘Xiao’, I am an expert.” Immediately he picked up the brush and started by drawing a circle on the left, another circle on the right, and one thick vertical bar straight down in the middle. Songgotu smiled and said, “That will do; you wrote it well.”

Wei Xiaobao cocked his head sideways to admire his ‘Xiao’ character. Suddenly he threw his head back and laughed aloud. “Grand Marshal Wei, what’s so funny?” Songgotu asked.

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Look at this character, one small bird and two eggs, doesn’t that look like that thing?”

The high-ranking ministers of the Qing side could not help bursting in laughter; even the attendants and personal guards were also laughing. Feodor just stared at them; he did not understand why everybody was laughing.

Right away Wei Xiaobao put his signature on the four copies of the treaty. On the Luocha copy, he made the straight vertical line extra thick. And then Feodor, Songgotu, and the Russian lieutenant envoy also signed the treaty. Thereupon the first treaty between China and Russia was completed and signed.

It was actually the first treaty China has ever signed with any foreign country. Due to Kangxi’s meticulous planning and preparation, and his all-out effort plus the very capable personnel he dispatched to handle this matter, the Treaty of Nerchinsk defining the boundaries between the two countries was highly advantageous to China. The treaty defined the northern Xing’an mountain range as the boundary; the whole modern day Soviet Union’s Amur province and the provinces bordering the sea belonged to China, as well as east and southeast regions all the way to the sea.

During the negotiation to define the boundaries, both sides did not take the previous owner of any localities into consideration. None of Chinese land fell into Luocha territory, but the forts and colonies that Luocha already built were forced to retreat after the signing; indeed it was a Chinese military and diplomatic victory. According to the treaty, the land incorporated into China covering a total of two million square kilometers, about twice the area of northeastern Chinese provinces of today. After the treaty took effect, China’s northeast frontier enjoyed more than a hundred and fifty years of peace, while Luocha’s endeavor of eastern invasion was blocked, and their ambition to encroach other country was somewhat restrained. Since Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong, and other imperial rulers after them, Manchurian Qing has taken part in signing treaties with other countries, China has never lost either land or authority. Kangxi and Wei Xiaobao greatly raised national prestige into an awe-inspiring level that year, no one in later generations has ever seen nor repeated.

(Book note: Wei Xiaobao’s odd signature on the treaty was unrecognizable. Later generation’s historians only knew Songgotu and Feodor’s names. Even archeologists of Guo Moruo[4] caliber, who understood oracle script, did not know that there was a ‘Xiao’ character signature on the Treaty of Nerchinsk; so Wei Xiaobao’s great name passed into oblivion. The historical records of later generations stated that the Treaty of Nerchinsk was signed by Songgotu and Feodor. Throughout the ages, those who know that the character Wei Xiaobao once existed on the earth are only the readers of ‘The Deer and The Cauldron’. With the exception of supplementary account involving Wei Xiaobao, which the history books omitted, our book’s narrative on the signing of the Treaty of Nerchinsk, as well as its content, are all based on historical records.)

According to the custom of those days, both parties released salvo simultaneously, made an oath to the Heaven, promised to be unswervingly faithful. Qing side’s four hundred cannon were all fired together on Nerchinsk’s east, south, west and north sides, the explosion shook the earth. Russian side’s cannon were only about twenty, the sound was weak, the difference in intensity and momentum could not be measured by li. Feodor inwardly admitted that they were lucky; if the peace negotiation failed, and war broke, Russia would definitely suffer a crushing defeat.

Right away the envoys of both countries exchanged gifts. Feodor presented Wei Xiaobao and the others with watch, telescope, silverware, mink fur, saber and sword, and other gifts. Wei Xiaobao presented the opposite party’s diplomatic envoys with horse, saddle and reins, golden cups, silk garments, silk fabrics, and so on. In addition, the two hundred sixty Cossack cavalry received twenty taels of fine silver each to compensate their belts being cutoff by the Qing troops.

That evening there was a big feast to celebrate the completed treaty. Feodor was still worried, he did not know whether the troops sent to attack Moscow had been recalled or not. He continuously tried to sound out Wei Xiaobao, but Wei Xiaobao pretended not knowing anything.

Two days later Feodor received a report that a large group of Qing troops arrived from the west. He climbed to the top of the city wall and looked using the telescope. Sure enough, he saw a large group of Qing troops were approaching from the west, marched pass Nerchinsk, and pitched camp to the east. Feodor was greatly delighted; he knew that the Qing troops to attack the west had been recalled. He did not realize that this large group of Qing troops set up camp only about two hundred li west of Nerchinsk, waiting for orders. As soon as they heard the cannon, they struck camp and slowly pulling back to the east.

Several days later, stone carvers already completed the boundary markers. The upright stone tablets had inscriptions in five languages, Manchu, Han, Mongolian, Latin and Luocha. The border markers were erected on the eastern bank of Gorbitsa River, southern bank or Argun River, as well as other places throughout the northeast via the Great Mountain Yike’alin, and other places.

The inscription on the tablet stated clearly that Gorbitsa River was the boundary between the two countries: “Following this river going upstream to the barren land, to the great Xing’an down to the sea, where the river flows from the region south of the mountain into Heilongjiang, everything belongs to China; the river north of the mountain belongs to Russia.” It also stated clearly, “The Argun River flowing into Heilongjiang is the border, the southern bank of the river belongs to China, the northern bank of the river belongs to Russia. Therefore, all the Russian settlements on the southern bank toward Meile’erke estuary must be moved to the northern bank.” It also stated clearly, “The buildings of Russian people in Yakesa, as well as various belongings, must all be removed toward Chahanhan.” It also stated clearly, “Ordinary citizen, livestock, and so on must not cross the border. If the people meet while holding hunting weapons in their hands, those who kill and loot will be promptly arrested and persecuted by law. Small affair must not be allowed to spoil big affair. China and Russia, two countries are reconciled, this fact is not to be disputed.”

The imperial envoys of both countries sent their subordinates to survey the land, after it was verified that there was no mistake, the boundary markers were erected. These border marks ought to define the unchanging border between China and Russia, two countries, for ten thousand years. However, a hundred and some dozen of years later, Russia took advantage when China was in decline, unexpectedly they nibbled away China’s territory step by step, disregarding the border markers that were installed in the past, annexing China’s wide expanse of rich and fertile land into their territory. When the later generations read the history of this affair, they could only sigh and comment, “The land Kangxi and Wei Xiaobao secured, as well as their effort in chasing away the ambition of wild wolves of Luocha people, how could we restore it to our homeland?”

The establishment of boundary markers finished, the imperial envoys of both countries saluted each other and bade farewell, separately returning to their capital to give report on the completion of this mission.

Wei Xiaobao summoned Poyarkov and Stepanov, instructing them to present his gifts to Princess Sophia, included among these were brocade quilt, embroidered pillow. The northern country was a desolate and rural land, these items could not be purchased anywhere in that area, so these items actually belonged to Shuang’er. Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “If the Princess really miss me, she can cuddle the silk blanket and pillow.”

Poyarkov said, “Her Highness the Princess’ affection to Your Excellency Daren is enduring while the world lasts, blanket and pillow are easily worn out, it would be better if Daren assign several bridge-building experts to Moscow to build a stone bridge. A stone bridge will not wear out forever.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “I have given this matter a lot of thought, you need not be long-winded.” He ordered his personal guards to lift up a large wooden chest, about eight chi long, four chi wide, all in all, it looked a lot like a coffin. Eight personal guards carried it using large shoulder poles; it appeared to be very heavy. The outside of the chest was wrapped with heavy iron strips, sealed with hot-lacquer seal. Wei Xiaobao said, “This gift is extremely important, you must protect it well, do not damage it. When the Princess sees it, she will definitely be happy. This enduring-while-the-world-lasts affection will be completely as secure as a Chinese stone bridge.” The two Luocha captains did not dare to ask too much, they received the wooden chest and left.

This large wooden chest weighed more than a thousand catties, it was transported tens of thousands of li from the remote Nechinsk all the way to Moscow; it was indeed a hard work. After Princess Sophia received and opened it, to her surprise it was a naked stone statue of Wei Xiaobao, beaming from ear to ear, vivid and lifelike. Turned out Wei Xiaobao had the stone carvers who prepared the boundary markers to carve his image; he also had the Dutch missionary write ‘I will always love you’ in Luocha character, and carve the words on the stone statue’s chest.

When Sophia saw it, she did not know whether to laugh or to cry; she recalled that this Chinese little child was an eccentric elf, but no Luocha men could match him. She could not help remembering him with fondness, her spirit seemed to gallop ten thousand li. This stone statue was kept inside Kremlin Palace. Later on Peter the Great launched a coup, he expelled Princess Sophia out of the Palace; since the stone statue was related to her, it was smashed to pieces. Only a piece of the stone statue was smuggled out by an ordinary soldier. Ignorant Luocha women who prayed for a child would gently caress and stroke the stone statue’s lower body, allegedly it was very effective.

(Book Note: ‘Duhu’ was the army and government governor-general of Han Dynasty who ruled various states in the western region. ‘Yumen Pass’ was the major road going through the western region during the Han era. ‘Cannot establish Yumen Pass’ means the territory was so large, the original gate of the Pass could not become a strategic focal of frontier defense. ‘Attach utmost importance to copper pillar as boundary marker’ refers to after the Eastern Han’s Ma Yuan conquering the former southernmost province of the Chinese Empire (Annan), he opened up new territory and set up copper pillars to demarcate the boundary, thinking that it would be beneficial to China’s border.)

[1] Latin – ‘la ding’; pulling able-bodied men (capable of fighting in a war) – ‘la zhuang ding’. ‘La ding’ itself can mean ‘kidnaping and forcing people into service’.

[2] Both are prince: Qinwang – Prince of the Blood or Prince of the First Rank. Granted solely to direct male-line descendants of an emperor, with the only known exception was Wu San Gui. Junwang – Prince a Commandery or Prince of the Second Rank. Wu San Gui (previously), Geng Jing Zhong, Shang Ke Xi and Zheng Jing were of this rank. (Courtesy of Ace High)

[3] The original expedition to the west during Genghis’s reign indeed consisted of 2 tumen (a tumen is a division of 10,000 men). The tumen were commanded by Jebe (Guo Jing’s teacher) and Subedei. Jebe was dead by the time Ogedei decided on a full-scale invasion of the west, but Subedei was still alive, and he was the chief subordinate commander under Batu (Jochi’s son). After a couple of crushing victories over European armies, the campaign was cut short by news of Ogedei’s death, which necessitated the return of Batu and other members of Genghis’s family to elect a new leader. After the election of Guyuk, Ogedei’s son, much of Batu’s forces were stripped from him, and he was obliged to reorganize his conquests rather than further them. What is now western Russia was organized into vassal states under Batu’s Golden Khanate. (Courtesy of Pannonian)

[4] From the dictionary: Guo Moruo (1892-1978), writer, communist party intellectual and cultural apparatchik.

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