CHAPTER XXXVIII. WOMEN AND MORALS
In connection with the Cheng succession in 629, it is mentioned that "the wife's sons being all dead, X, being wisest of the secondary wives' or concubines' sons, is most eligible" (cf. Chapter XXXVII.).
Great political complications arose in connection with a clever and beautiful princess of Cheng who had had various liaisons with high personages in the state of Ch'en and elsewhere; in the end she was carried off in 589 by a treacherous Ts'u statesman to Tsin; and indirectly this adventure led to his being charged by Tsin with a mission to Wu; to the subsequent entry of Wu into the conclave of federal princes; and to the ultimate sacking of the Ts'u capital by the King of Wu in 506: it is easy to read between the lines that the Kings of Ts'u were considered unusually arbitrary and tyrannical rulers; over and over again we find that their most capable statesmen took service with powers inimical to Ts'u. In 581 the ruler of Cheng, being forcibly detained in Tsin whilst on a political visit there, was temporarily replaced in Cheng by his elder brother, born of an inferior wife.
A marriage between the two states of Sung and Lu having been arranged, the imperial clan states of Lu and Wei had certain duties to perform at the wedding, which took place in 583; and it is recorded that the latter sent "handmaids" The explanation given is a little involved, but it seems to throw some light on the marriage of sisters question. It seems that the legitimate spouse and her "left and right handmaids" were each entitled to three "cousins or younger sisters" of the same clan-name as themselves, "thus making a total of nine girls, the idea being to broaden the base of succession." Not content with this, Lu sent a special envoy to Sung the next year to "lecture" the princess. It is explained that "women at home are under the power of their father; married, under that of their husbands." Tsin also sent handmaids this year. It is further explained that "handmaids are a trifling matter, and they are only mentioned in this Lu princess case because her marriage turned out so badly." The following year Ts'i despatched handmaids, but, "being of a different clan-name, Ts'i was not ritual in doing so."
The precise functions of these paranymphs, or under-studies of wives, together with the rules governing their selection, are doubtless clearly enough described in the Rites of Chou; but we are only dealing here with concrete facts as recorded.
In 526 B.C., when Ts'in gave a princess in marriage to the Ts'u heir, the Ts'u king decided to keep her for himself (see p. 234). Only a few years before that, Ts'u had given a princess of her own in marriage to the heir-apparent of one of the petty orthodox states (imperial clan), and the reigning father had had improper relations with her, which in the end led to his murder by his son; thus Ts'u, however delinquent, had already been given a bad example by the imperial clan.