Daiyu was wondering what sort of graceless scamp or little dunce
Baoyu was and feeling reluctant to meet such a stupid creature when,
even as the maid announced him, in he walked.
He had on a golden coronet studded with jewels and a golden chaplet
in the form of two dragons fighting for a pearl. His red archer's
jacket, embroidered with golden butterflies and flowers, was tied with
a coloured tasselled palace sash. Over this he wore a turquoise fringed
coat of Japanese satin with a raised pattern of flowers in eight
bunches. His court boots were of black satin with white soles.
His face was as radiant as the mid-autumn moon, his complexion fresh
as spring flowers at down. The hair above his temples was as sharply
outlined as if cut with a knife. His eyebrows were as black as if
painted with ink, his cheeks as red as peach-blossom, his eyes bright
as autumn ripples. Even when angry he seemed to smile, and there was
warmth in his glance even when he frowned.
Round his neck he had a golden torque in the likeness of a dragon,
and a silk cord of five colours, on which hung a beautiful piece of
His appearance took Daiyu by surprise. “How very strange!” she
thought. “It's as if I'd seen him somewhere before. He looks so
Baoyu paid his respects to the Lady Dowager and upon her instructions
went to see his mother.
He returned before long, having changed his clothes. His short hair
in small plaits tied with red silk was drawn up on the crown of his
head and braided into one thick queue as black and glossy as lacquer,
sporting four large pearls attached to golden pendants in the form of
the eight precious things. His coat of a flower pattern on a bright red
ground was not new, and he still wore the torque, the precious jade, a
lock-shaped amulet containing his Buddhistic name, and a lucky charm.
Below could be glimpsed light green flowered satin trousers,
black-dotted stockings with brocade borders, and thick-soled scarlet
His face looked as fair as if powdered, his lips red as rouge. His
glance was full of affection, his speech interspersed with smiles. But
his natural charm appeared most in his brows, for his eyes sparkled
with a world of feeling. However, winning as his appearance was, it was
difficult to tell what lay beneath.
Someone subsequently gave an admirable picture of Baoyu in these two
verses written to the melody of The Moon over the West River:
Absurdly he courts care and melancholy
And raves like any madman in his folly;
For though endowed with handsome looks is he,
His heart is lawless and refractory.
Too dense by far to understand his duty,
Too stubborn to apply himself to study,
Foolhardy in his eccentricity,
He's deaf to all reproach and obloquy.
Left cold by riches and nobility,
Unfit to bear the stings of poverty,
He wastes his time and his ability,
Failing his country and his family.
First in this world for uselessness is he,
Second to none in his deficiency.
Young fops and lordlings all, be warned by me:
Don't imitate this youth's perversity!
With a smile at Baoyu, the Lady Dowager scolded, “Fancy changing your
clothes before greeting our visitor. Hurry up now and pay your respects
to your cousin.”
Of course, Baoyu had seen this new cousin earlier on and guessed that
she was the daughter of his Aunt Lin. He made haste to bow and, having
greeted her, took a seat. Looking at Daiyu closely, he found her
different from other girls.
Her dusky arched eyebrows were knitted and yet not frowning, her
speaking eyes held both merriment and sorrow; her very frailty had
charm. Her eyes sparkled with tears, her breath was soft and faint. In
repose she was like a lovely flower mirrored in the water; in motion, a
pliant willow swaying in the wind. She looked more sensitive than Bi
Gan, more delicate than Xi Shi.