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Qin Zhong (秦鐘) — His elder sister is Qin Keqing, Baoyu's nephew's wife, and so he is technically a generation younger than Baoyu. Both he and Qin Keqing are the adopted children of Qin Ye (秦業). The two boys enroll in the Jia clan's school together and he becomes Baoyu's best friend. The novel leaves open the possibility that things might have gone beyond innocent friendship. Qin Zhong and the novice Zhinengr (智能儿, "Intelligent"; "Sapientia" in the Hawkes translation) fall in love with tragic consequences, for Qin Zhong dies soon after from a combination of a severe beating administered by his father, sexual exhaustion, grief and remorse.

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