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>I still have a dim recollection of this meeting, the shock of which left a deep impression on my memory. I remember suddenly finding myself surrounded by strangers, while before me was hung a drab curtain through which I could see an emaciated and terrifying hideous face. This was Cixi.
>Puyi's wet nurse, Wang Wen-Chao, was the only one who could console him, and therefore she accompanied him to the Forbidden City. Puyi did not see his biological mother, Princess Consort Chun, for the next seven years. He developed a special bond with Wen-Chao Wang and credited her with being the only person who could control him. She was sent away when he was eight years old. After Puyi married, he would occasionally bring her to the Forbidden City, and later Manchukuo, to visit him. After his special government pardon in 1959, he visited her adopted son and only then learned of her personal sacrifices to be his nurse.
>The Anglo-French journalist Edward Behr wrote about Puyi's powers as emperor of China, which allowed him to fire his air-gun at anyone he liked:
>Johnston was allowed only five texts in English to give Puyi to read, namely Alice in Wonderland and translations into English of the "Four Great Books" of Confucianism; the Analects, the Mencius, the Great Learning and The Doctrine of the Mean. However, Johnston disregarded the rules, and taught Puyi about world history with a special focus on British history. Johnston also told Puyi so much about his native Scotland that Puyi eventually expressed the desire to visit the "Scotland the Brave" that his tutor spoke of with such pride and love. Besides history, Johnston taught Puyi philosophy and about what he saw as the superiority of monarchies over republics. Puyi remembered that the piecing blue eyes of his tutor "made me feel uneasy … I found him very intimidating and studied English with him like a good boy, not daring to talk about other things when I got bored … as I did with my other Chinese tutors".
>Puyi could not speak Manchu; he only knew a single word in the language, yili ("arise")
>it is doubtful that the eunuchs working as gardeners much appreciated Puyi's habit of riding through the flowers.
>In March 1922, the Dowager Consorts decided that Puyi should be married, and gave him a selection of photographs of aristocratic teenage girls to choose from.
>In an interview in 1986, Prince Pujie told Behr: "Puyi constantly talked about going to England and becoming an Oxford student, like Johnston." On 4 June 1922, Puyi attempted to escape from the Forbidden City, having decided that he wanted to go to study at Oxford, and planned to issue an open letter to "the people of China" renouncing the title of Emperor before leaving for Oxford. The escape attempt failed when Johnston vetoed it and refused to call a taxi and Puyi was too frightened to live on the streets of Beijing on his own.
>Wanrong wore a mask in accordance with Chinese tradition and Puyi, who knew nothing of women, remembered: "I hardly thought about marriage and family. It was only when the Empress came into my field of vision with a crimson satin cloth embroidered with a dragon and a phoenix over her head that I felt at all curious about what she looked like." After the wedding was complete, Puyi, Wanrong, and his secondary consort Wenxiu (whom he married the same night) went to the Palace of Earthly Tranquility, where everything was red – the color of love and sex in China – and where emperors had traditionally consummated their marriages. Puyi, who was sexually inexperienced and timid, fled from the bridal chamber, leaving his wives to sleep in the Dragon Bed by themselves.
>Wanrong's younger brother Rong Qi remembered how Puyi and Wanrong, both teenagers, loved to race their bicycles through the Forbidden City, forcing eunuchs to get out of the way, and told Behr in an interview: "There was a lot of laughter, she and Puyi seemed to get on well, they were like kids together."
>As part of an effort to crack down on corruption by the eunuchs inspired by Johnston, Puyi ordered an inventory of the treasures in the Forbidden City, which caused the Hall of Supreme Harmony to go up in flames in a case of arson on the night of 26 June 1923 as the eunuchs tried to cover up the extent of their theft. Johnston reported on the next day he “found the Emperor and Empress standing on a heap of charred wood, sadly contemplating the spectacle”.
>A British journalist Henry Woodhead called Puyi's court a "doggy paradise" as both Puyi and Wanrong were dog-lovers who owned several dogs who were very spoiled while Puyi's courtiers spent an inordinate amount of time feuding with one another.
>Puyi's court was prone to factionalism and Puyi's advisers were urging him to back different warlords, which gave him a reputation for duplicity as Puyi negotiated with various warlords
>During his time in Tianjin, Puyi was besieged with visitors asking him for money, which included various members of the vast Qing family, old Manchu bannermen asking for financial help, journalists prepared to write articles calling for a Qing restoration for the right price, and eunuchs who had once lived in the Forbidden City and were now living in poverty. Puyi himself was often bored with his life, and engaged in maniacal shopping to compensate, recalling that he was addicted to "buying pianos, watches, clocks, radios, Western clothes, leather shoes and spectacles".
>Puyi's first wife Wanrong began to smoke opium during this period, which Puyi encouraged as he found her more "manageable" when she was in an opium daze. Puyi's marriage to Wanrong began to fall apart as they spent more and more time apart, meeting only at mealtimes.
>On the night of 24 February 1932, when Puyi accepted the offer to be Chief Executive of Manchukuo, a party was thrown to celebrate with geishas being imported for the celebration, during which Itagaki become very drunk, and forgetting that the geisha are entertainers, not prostitutes, made outrageous sexual advances on the geisha, fondling their breasts and vaginas, telling Puyi that as a general he could do anything he wanted to the geisha. During the party, while Itagaki boasted to Puyi that now was a great time to be a Japanese man, Puyi was much offended when none of the geisha knew who he was.
>Puyi's friend, the British journalist Woodhead, who covered his arrival in Manchuria, wrote "outside official circles, I met no Chinese who felt any enthusiasm for the new regime", and that the city of Harbin was being terrorized by Chinese and Russian gangsters working for the Japanese, making Harbin "lawless … even its main street unsafe after dark".
>An Italian journalist from the Corriere della Sera newspaper wrote: “I was unable to interview this pale, tired prince who doesn’t’ like to talk, who is always plunged in his meditations and who maybe regrets his life as a simple, studious citizen. He has a fixed stare behind his black-framed glasses. When we were introduced, he responded with a friendly nod. But his smile lasted only a second.
>There were nine different Japanese or Japanese-sponsored police/intelligence agencies operating in Manchukuo, who were all told by Tokyo that Japan was a poor country and that they were to pay for their operations by engaging in organized crime.
>As there was no palace in Changchun, Puyi moved into what had once been the office of the Salt Tax Administration during the Russian period, and as result, the building was known as the Salt Tax Palace
>the differences in power could be seen in that the Kwantung Army had a "massive" headquarters in downtown Hsinking while Puyi had to live in the "small and shabby" Salt Tax Palace located close to the main railroad station in a part of Hsinking where numerous small factories, warehouses, and slaughterhouses were located together with the chief prison and the red-light district.
>To provide farmland for the Japanese settlers, the ethnic Chinese and ethnic Korean farmers already living on the land were evicted to make way for the colonists. Those farmers who resisted eviction to make way for the Japanese settlers were used by the Kwantung Army for bayonet practice.
>n 1935, Puyi visited Japan, sailing from Dalian to Yokohama on the warship Hiei Maru, and while meeting the Showa Emperor at a Tokyo railroad station, a moment of unintentional comedy occurred when Puyi attempted to take off a too tight white glove before shaking the Emperor's hand, which he had to struggle with for some time while everyone else struggled not to laugh.
>The Second Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Hsinking, Kenjiro Hayashide, served as Puyi's interpreter during this trip, and later wrote what Behr called a very absurd book The Epochal Journey to Japan chronicling this visit, where he managed to present every banal statement made by Puyi as profound wisdom, and claimed that he wrote an average of two poems per day on his trip to Japan
>"… the knowledge that he was an object of hatred and derision that drove Puyi to the brink of madness." Puyi always had a strong cruel streak, and he imposed harsh "house rules" on his staff; servants were flogged in the basement for such offenses as "irresponsible conversations".
>everyone in the Salt Tax Palace was caned at one point or another
>To further torment his staff of about 100, Puyi drastically cut back on the food allocated for his staff, who suffered from hunger; Big Li told Behr that Puyi was attempting to make everyone as miserable as he was. Besides tormenting his staff, Puyi's life as Emperor was one of lethargy and passivity, which his ghostwriter Li Wenda called "a kind of living death" for him.
>One day when out for a stroll in the gardens, Puyi found that a servant had written in chalk on one of the rocks: "Haven't the Japanese humiliated you enough?"
>When Puyi received guests at the Salt Tax Palace, he gave them long lectures on the "glorious" history of the Qing as a form of masochism, comparing the great Qing Emperors with himself, a miserable man living as a prisoner in his own palace.
>The Empress Wanrong retreated in seclusion as she became addicted to opium
>her father stopped visiting the Salt Tax Palace as he could not bear to see what she had become.
>Wanrong, who detested her husband, liked to mock him behind his back by performing skits before the servants by putting on dark glasses and imitating Puyi's jerky movements
>Puyi tried to joke away Wanrong's unhappiness by saying that tonight was "Mongol night", and everyone was going to be like a Mongol "savage" by eating with their fingers, but Lady Saga noted his jesting failed.
>Behr wrote based on his interviews with Puyi's family and staff at the Salt Tax Palace that it appeared Puyi had an "attraction towards very young girls" that "bordered on pedophilia" and "… that Pu Yi was bisexual, and – by his own admission – something of a sadist in his relationships with women." Puyi was very fond of having handsome teenage boys serve as his pageboys and Puyi's sister-in-law Hiro Saga noted he was also very fond of sodomizing them.