Title: 竇娥冤 (The Injustice to Dou E)
Author: 关汉卿 (Guan Hanqing)
Snow in Midsummer
Characters Tsai, a widow
Tou Tien-chang, a poor scholar, later a government inspector
Tou Ngo, tou Tien-chang’s daughter Tuan-yuan
Donkey, his son
The officer in charge of executions
[Enter Mistress Tsai]
A flower may blossom again,
But youth never returns.
You don’t have to be rich and noble,
Live at ease, you’re as happy as a fairy.
I am Mistress Tsai of Chuchow. There were three of us in my family; but unluckily my husband died, leaving me just one son who is eight years old. We live together, mother and son, and are quite well off. A scholar named Tou of Shangyang Prefecture borrowed twenty taels of silver from me last year. Now the interest and capital come to forty taels, I’ve asked several times for the money; but Mr. Tou only said he was too poor, and cannot repay it. He has a daughter, who is good looking and very adorable, and I’ve a good mind to make her my daughter-in-law; then he won’t have to pay back the forty taels, isn’t it a convenient win-win deal? Mr. Tou chose today as a lucky day, and is bringing the girl to me; so I won’t ask him to pay me back, but wait for him at home. He should be here soon.
(Enter Tou Tien-Chang, leading his daughter Tuan-yuan.)
I am a master of all the learning in the world.
But my fate is worse than that of other men.
My name is Tou Tien-Chang, and the home of my ancestor’s is Chang’an. I have studied the classics since I was a child and read a good deal; but I haven’t yet taken the examinations. Unfortunately my wife has died, leaving me this only daughter, Tuan-yun. She lost her mother when she was three, and now she is seven. Living from hand to mouth, I moved to Shangyang Prefecture in Chuchow and took lodgings here. There is a widow in this town named Tsai, who lives alone with her son and is fairly well off, and as I had no money for travelling I borrowed twenty taels; but though she has asked several times for the money, I haven’t been able to pay her. And recently she has sent to say she would like my daughter to marry her son. Since the spring examinations will soon be starting, I should be going to the capital; but I have no money for the road. So I am forced to take Tuan-yun to Widow Tsai as her future daughter-in-law.
[With a sigh] I am not marrying my daughter but selling her! For this means the widow will cancel my debt and give me some cash for my journey. This is all I can hope for.
Ah, child, your father does this against his will! While talking to myself, I’ve reached her door. Mistress Tsai! Are you at home?
MRS. TSAI: So it’s Mr. Tou! Come in, please. I’ve been waiting for you.
(They greet each other.)
TOU: I’ve brought you my daughter, ma'am, not to be your daughter-in-law — that would be asking too much-—but to serve you day and night. I must be going to take the examination.I hope you will look after her.
MRS. TSAI: Well, now we’re relatives. You owed me forty taels including interest. Here is your promissory note back and another ten taels for your journey, I hope you don’t think it too little.
TOU: Thank you, ma’am! Instead of asking for what I owe you, you have given me money for the road. Some day I shall repay your kindness in full. My daughter is a foolish child. Please take care of her,ma'am, for my sake.
MRS. TSAI: Don't worry, Mr. Tou. I shall look after your daughter as if she were my own.
TOU (kneeling to her): If the child deserves a beating, ma'am, for my sake just scold her! And if she deserves a scolding, for my sake speak gently to her! As for you, Tuan-yun, this isn’t like at home， where your father used to put up with your whims. If you’re naughty here, you’ll be beaten and cursed. When shall I see you again, child? (He sighs.)
I drum sadly on my sheath;
I have studied the Conftician classics;
My unhappy wife died young,
And now I am parted from my only daughter. (Exit.)
MRS. TSAI: Now Mr. Tou has left me his daughter, and gone to the capital for the examination. I must see to the house.