The Ninth Vibration and Other Stories HTML version

The Incomparable Lady
A Story Of China With A Moral
It is recorded that when the Pearl Empress (his mother) asked of the philosophic Yellow
Emperor which he considered the most beautiful of the Imperial concubines, he replied
instantly: "The Lady A-Kuei": and when the Royal Parent in profound astonishment
demanded bow this could be, having regard to the exquisite beauties in question, the
Emperor replied;
"I have never seen her. It was dark when I entered the Dragon Chamber and dusk of
dawn when I rose and left her."
Then said the Pearl Princess;
"Possibly the harmony of her voice solaced the Son of Heaven?"
But he replied;
"She spoke not."
And the Pearl Empress rejoined:
"Her limbs then are doubtless softer than the kingfisher's plumage?"
But the Yellow Emperor replied;
"Doubtless. Yet I have not touched them. I was that night immersed in speculations on
the Yin and the Yang. How then should I touch a woman?"
And the Pearl Empress was silent from very great amazement, not daring to question
further but marveling how the thing might be. And seeing this, the Yellow Emperor
recited a poem to the following effect:
"It is said that Power rules the world
And who shall gainsay it?
But Loveliness is the head-jewel upon the brow of Power."
And when the Empress had listened with reverence to the Imperial Poet, she quitted the
August Presence.
Immediately, having entered her own palace of the Tranquil Motherly Virtues, she caused
the Lady A-Kuei to be summoned to her presence, who came, habited in a purple robe
and with pins of jade and coral in her hair. And the Pearl Empress considered her
attentively, recalling the perfect features of the White Jade Concubine, the ambrosial