The books, papers, pencils, inkslabs, and other writing materials were all scattered over the whole table; and Pao-yue's cup besides containing tea was itself broken to pieces and the tea spilt.
The various kinds of designs had been all carved by renowned hands, in variegated colours, inlaid with gold, and studded with precious gems; while on shelf upon shelf were either arranged collections of books, or tripods were laid out; either pens and inkslabs were distributed about, or vases with flowers set out, or figured pots were placed about; the designs of the shelves being either round or square; or similar to sunflowers or banana leaves; or like links, half overlapping each other.
A sumptuous banquet was laid out, at which dowager lady Chia and the other ladies occupied the lower seats and entertained each other, while Mrs. Yu, widow Li Wan, lady Feng and the rest presented the soup and handed the cups. The Imperial consort Yuan subsequently directed that the pencils and inkslabs should be brought, and with her own hands she opened the silken paper.
On this table, were laid in a heap every kind of copyslips written by persons of note. Several tens of valuable inkslabs and various specimens of tubes and receptacles for pens figured also about; the pens in which were as thickly packed as trees in a forest. On the off side, stood a flower bowl from the 'Ju' kiln, as large as a bushel measure.
But goody Liu caught sight of the pencils and inkslabs, lying on the table placed next to the window, and espied the bookcase piled up to the utmost with books. "This must surely," the old dame ejaculated, "be some young gentleman's study!" "This is the room of this granddaughter-in-law of mine," dowager lady Chia explained, smilingly pointing to Tai-yue.
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