Skybright mends the cape

Baoyu borrowed a splendid peacock feather cape from Grandmother Jia, and while he was wearing it, a small hole was burned in it behind the lapel. The novel tells us that “it was only a little burn, the size of a finger-print, but clearly visible.” The maid Musk assumes that the burn was caused by a spark from Baoyu’s handwarmer. It is clear to both Musk and Baoyu that the cloak must be repaired. Musk sends some “old nannies” out to the market to find a craftsman who can repair the cloak. But the nannies return, having failed to find someone willing to repair the cloak. They asked “invisible menders, tailors, embroiderers, seamstresses” (「不但織補匠,能幹裁縫、繡匠並做女工的問了,都不認的這是什麼,都不敢攬。) but none were willing to undertake the mending because they were unfamiliar with the material the cloak was made of. There is nothing to be done but to have a maid mend the cloak, and Skybright, who is ill, is the only maid with skill enough to mend the cloak.  (In chapter 78, after Skybright has been sent home, Grandmother Jia says that “Skybright was the best needlewoman I ever had.”)

 

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Dream of the Red Chamber by Ann Waltner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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