Extract: “Back Quarters at Number 7” by Manchu Writer Ye Guangqin
Grandpa Zhao’s narration was forever populated with fairy foxes, Siberian weasel spirits, and serpents. We were terribly afraid of these creatures, and all of them were inseparable from Number 7’s courtyard. It seemed behind that small gate were hidden innumerable deadly demons:
It was an inauspicious residence. No one would rent or buy it. In 1900, during the reign of Qing Emperor Guangxu, the Eight Allied Armies took the capital, and the retinues of the two palaces – the Emperor’s and the Empress Dowager’s – departed in great haste with Their Highnesses . . .