Chapter 1: The Paulownia Court

The world's first novel, Lady Murasaki Shikibu's epic romance of the Heian-era Japanese Imperial Court ... rendered as a series of blog postings.
CountessMurasaki
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Chapter 1: The Paulownia Court

Postby CountessMurasaki » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:55 pm

There is a lady here at court who is the Emperor's very favorite. He spends so much time with her that all the other ladies of the court are getting really, really jealous. It's even worse because she's not even a first ranker -- she's only fourth rank.

She never does anything to be rude to any of them, but the other ladies do whatever they can to make her look bad, and I think she's starting to get really, really stressed out about it.

This lady, the Emperor's favorite, has now borne a son. He's an absolutely beautiful baby, the most beautiful baby anyone in the court has ever seen. There's a lot of people who are worried, because he's even more beautiful than the son of the Emperor's first lady -- who everyone expects, because of all his connections, to be named Crown Prince some day. But now some people are beginning to wonder if this new baby is going to get the honors instead.

His mother, called the lady of the Paulownia Court -- that's where her apartments in the palace are -- is getting even more hassles now than before. The fact that the Emperor still favors her over all the rest, even to the point of being unseemly, some say, doesn't help. Not long ago, someone played a mean trick. While the lady of the Paulownia Court was going from one part of the palace to another, they locked the doors at either end of a passageway -- she was stuck!

The Emperor has had her rooms moved, now, to be closer to his; but still I have to wonder how long she's going to be able to live like this.
CountessMurasaki
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Re: Chapter 1: The Paulownia Court

Postby CountessMurasaki » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:15 pm

Good news and bad news. The emperor's new son, child of the lady of the Paulownia Court, grows and thrives. He is so beautiful and lovable that even those who envy and resent the Emperor's attention to him -- the trousers-giving ceremony he got when he was three was every bit as expensive as that for the son of the Emperor's First Lady -- cannot bring themselves to hate the boy himself.

But still there's a lot of grief, for the boy's mother has fallen ill and died. The Emperor is beside himself. The boy is now living away from court, in the care of his grandmother. The Emperor sent the lady Myoubu to ask if the grandmother would come to court and bring the boy, in hopes that the Emperor might find some consolation in seeing his son. But so far the grandmother will not come -- she is too ashamed.

All is sadness here.

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