“Slay them, root and branch,
” cried Yuan Shao, “or they will ruin you!”
“I have decided,” said He Jin, coldly. “Say no more.”
Within a few days He Jin became Chair of the Secretariat,
and his associates received high offices.
Now Empress Dong summoned the eunuch
Zhang Rang and his party to a council.
Said she, “It was I who first brought forward the sister of He Jin.
Today her son is on the throne, and all the officials are her friends,
and her influence is enormous. What can we do?”
Zhang Rang replied, “Your Highness should administer the state from
‘behind the veil’; create the late Emperor’s son Liu Xian a prince; give your brother,
the Imperial Uncle Dong Chong, a high rank,
and place him over the army; and use us. That will do it.”
Empress Dong approved. Next day she held a court and issued an edict in the sense
proposed. She made Liu Xian Prince of Chenliu and Dong Chong
General of the Flying Cavalry*, and she allowed the eunuchs again to participate state affairs.
When Empress He saw this, she prepared a banquet to
which she invited her rival Empress Dong.
In the middle of the feast, when all were well warmed with wine,
Empress He rose and offered a cup to her guest, saying,
“It is not fitting that we two should meddle in state affairs. In the beginning of the Han Dynasty,
when Empress Lu laid hands upon the government, all her clans were put to death*.
We ought to remain content, immured in our palaces,
and leave state affairs to the state officials.
That would be well for the country, and I trust you will act thus.”
But Empress Dong only got angry, saying,
“You poisoned Lady Wang out of jealousy. Now,
relying upon the fact that your son sits on the throne and that
your brother is powerful, you speak these wild words.
I will command that your brother be beheaded,
and that can be done as easily as I turn my hand!”
Empress He in her turn became wroth and said,
“I tried to persuade you with fair words. Why get so angry?”