CHAPTER X. THE SECOND PROTECTOR
Meanwhile important events had been going on in the marquisate of Tsin, which, during the thirty-five years' hegemony of Ts'i, had been engaged in extending its territory in all directions, in fighting Ts'in, and in annexing bordering Tartar tribes. At its greatest development Tsin practically comprised all between the Yellow River in its turns south, east, and north; but, though probably half its population was Tartar, it never ceased to be "orthodox" in administrative principle. The energetic but licentious ruler of Tsin had married a Tartar wife in addition to his more legitimate spouse (daughter of the late Protector, Marquess of Ts'i); or, rather, he took two wives, the one being sister of the other, but the younger sister brought him no children. Before this he had already married two sisters of quite a different Tartar tribe, and each of his earlier wives had brought him a son. His last pair of Tartar lady-loves gained such a strong hold upon his affections that he was induced by the mother, being the elder sister of the two, to nominate her own son as his heir to the exclusion of the three elder brethren, who were sent on various flimsy pretexts to defend the northern frontiers against the more hostile Tartars. To complicate matters, the Marquess's legitimate or first spouse, the Ts'i princess, besides bearing a son, had also given him a daughter, who had married the powerful ruler of Ts'in to the west. Thus not only were Ts'in and Tsin both half-Tartar in origin and sympathy, but at this period three out of four of the Tsin possible heirs were actually sons of Tartar women. The legitimate heir, whose mother was of Ts'i origin, and, who himself was a man of very high character, ended the question so far as he was concerned, by committing dutiful suicide; the three sons by Tartar mothers succeeded to the throne one after the other, but in the inverse order of their respective ages. The story of the wanderings of the eldest brother, who did not come to the throne until he was sixty-two years of age, is one of the most interesting and romantic episodes in the whole history of China; and, even with the unfamiliar proper names, would make a capital romantic novel, so graphically and naturally are some of the scenes depicted. First he threw himself heart and soul into Tartar life, joined the rugged horsemen in their internecine wars, married a Tartar wife, and gave her sister to his most faithful henchman; then, hearing of the death of the Ts'i premier, Kwan- tsz, he vowed he would go to Ts'i and try to act as political adviser in his place. Hospitably received by the Marquess of Ts'i, he was presented with a charming and sensible Ts'i princess, who for five years exercised so enervating an influence upon his virility, ambition, and warlike ardour, that he had to be surreptitiously smuggled away from the gay Ts'i capital whilst drunk, by his Tartar father-in-law and by his chief Chinese henchman and brother-in-law. Then he commenced a series of visits to the petty orthodox courts which separated Ts'i from Ts'u. Several of them were rude and neglectful to this unfortunate prince in distress; but Sung was an exception, for Sung ambition, as above narrated, had been roughly checked by Ts'u, and Sung now wished to make overtures to Tsin instead, and to conciliate a prince who was as likely as not to come to the throne of Tsin. In 637 the prince reached the court of Ts'u, whose ruler had quite recently begun to take formal and official rank as a "civilized" federal prince. Meanwhile, news came that his brother (by his own mother's younger sister) was dead; this younger brother had taken refuge in Ts'in during the reign of his youngest brother (the one born of the last Tartar favourite), and had, after that brother's death, been most generously assisted to the throne in turn by the ruler of Ts'in, on the understanding, however, that Tsin should cede to Ts'in all territory on the right bank of the Yellow River, i.e. in the modern province of Shen Si: but the new Tsin ruler had been persuaded by his courtiers to go back on this humiliating bargain, in consequence of which war had been declared by Ts'in upon Tsin, and the faithless ruler of Tsin had been for some time a prisoner of war in Ts'in; but, regaining his throne through the influence of his half-sister, the wife of the Ts'in ruler, had died in harness in 637 B.C. This deceased ruler's young son was not popular, and Ts'in was now instrumental in welcoming the refugee back from Ts'u, and in leading him in triumph, after nineteen years of adventurous wandering, to his own ancestral throne; his rival and nephew was killed.