The Story of Ming-Y part 11

Did she not sing the songs of Kao- pien? And upon the brush-case and the paper-weight’she gave your son, are there not characters which read, ‘Pure object of art belonging to Kao of the city of Pho-haV? That city no longer exists; but the memory of Kao-pien remains, for he was governor of the province of Sze-tchouen, and a mighty poet. And when he dwelt in the land of Chou, was not his favorite the beautiful wanton Sie—Sie-Thao, unmatched for grace among all the women of her day. It was he who made her a gift of those manuscripts of song; it was he who gave her those objects of rare art. Sie-Thao died not as other women die. Her limbs may have crumbled to dust; yet something of her still lives in this deep wood, her Shadow still haunts this shadowy place.”

Mists of the morning

Tchang ceased to speak. A vague fear fell upon the three. The thin mists of the morning made dim the distances of green, and deepened the ghostly beauty of the woods. A faint

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The Story of Ming-Y part 10

Then Ming-Y produced the gifts that Sie had given him—the lion of yellow jade, the brush-case of carven agate, also some original compositions made by the beautiful lady herself. The astonishment of Tchang was now shared by Pelou. Both observed that the brush-case of agate and the lion of jade bore the appearance of objects that had lain buried in the earth for centuries, and were of a workmanship beyond the power of living man to imitate; while the compositions proved to be veritable masterpieces of poetry, written in the style of the poets of the Dynasty of Thang.

“Friend Pelou,” cried the High Commissioner, “let us immediately accompany the boy to the place where he obtained these miraculous things and apply the testimony of our senses to this mystery; the boy is no doubt telling the truth; yet his story passes my understanding.” And all three proceeded toward the place of the habitation of Sie.

Most pinkly

But when they had arrived at t

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The Story of Ming-Y part 9

She brushed the bright drops away, and brought wine and music and the melodious kin of seven silken strings, and would not suffer Ming-Y to speak for one moment of the coming separation. And she sang him an ancient song about the calmness of summer lakes reflecting the blue of heaven only, and the calmness of the heart also, before the clouds of care and of grief and of weariness darken its little world. Soon they forgot their sorrow in the joy of song and wine; and those last hours seemed to Ming-Y more celestial than even the hours of their first bliss.

But when the yellow beauty of morning came their sadness returned, and they wept. Once more Sie accompanied her lover to the terrace steps; and as she kissed him farewell, she pressed into his hand a parting gift—a little brush-case of agate, wonderfully chiseled, and worthy the table of a great poet. And they separated forever, shedding many tears.

Patron standing on the porch

Still Ming-Y could

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The Story of Ming-Y part 8

So the summer waxed and waned upon their love, and the luminous autumn came, with its vapors of phantom gold, its shadows of magical purple.

Then it unexpectedly happened that the father of Ming-Y, meeting his son’s employer atTching-tou, was asked by him: “Why must your boy continue to travel every evening to the city, now that the winter is approaching? The way is long, and when he’ returns in the morning he looks foredone with weariness. Why not permit him to slumber in my house during the season of snow?” And the father of Ming-Y, greatly astonished, responded: “Sir, my son has not visited the city, nor has he been to our house all this summer. I fear that he must have acquired wicked habits, and that he passes his nights in evil company—perhaps in gaming, or in drinking with the women of the flower-boats.” But the High Commissioner returned:

“Nay! that is not to be thought of. I have never found any evil in the boy, and there are no taver

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The Story of Ming-Y part 7

The birds awakened, the flowers opened their eyes to the rising sun, and Ming-Y found himself at last compelled to bid his lovely enchantress farewell. Sie, accompanying him to the terrace, kissed him fondly and said, “Dear boy, come hither as often as you are able—as often as your heart whispers you to come. I know you are not of those without faith and truth, who betray secrets; yet, being so young, you might also be sometimes thoughtless; and I pray you never to forget that only the stars have been the witness of our love.

Speak of it to no living person, dearest; and take with you this little souvenir of our happy night.” And she presented him with an exquisite and curious little thing—a paper-weight in likeness of a couchant lion, wrought from a jade-stone yellow as that created by a rainbow in honor of Kong-fu-tze. Tenderly the boy kissed the gift and the beautiful hand that gave it. “May the Spirits punish me,” he vowed, “if ever I knowingly give you

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The Story of Ming-Y part 6

“The honor and gratification, dear lady,” replied Ming-Y, “will be mine; and I feel helpless to express the gratitude which the offer of so rare a favor deserves.”

The serving-maid, obedient to the summons of a little silver gong, brought in the music and retired. Ming-Y took the manuscripts, and began to examine them with eager delight. The paper on which they were written had a pale yellow tint, and was light as a fabric of gossamer; but the characters were antiquely beautiful, as though they had been traced by the brush of Hei-song Che-Tchoo himself—that divine Genius of Ink, who is no bigger than a fly; and the signatures attached to the compositions were the signatures of Youen-tchin, Kao-pien, and Thou-mou—might poets and musicians of the dynasty ofThang! Ming-Y could not repress a scream of delight at the sight of treasures so inestimable and so unique; scarcely could he summon resolution enough to permit them to leave his hands even for a moment.

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The Story of Ming-Y part 5

“Nay, friend,” she said, “stay yet a little while in my house, I pray you; for, should your honored patron ever learn that you had been here, and that I had not treated you as a respected guest, and regaled you even as I would him, I know that he would be greatly angered. Remain at least to supper.”
So Ming-Y remained, rejoicing secretly in his heart, for Sie seemed to him the fairest and sweetest being he had ever known, and he felt that he loved her more than his father and his mother. And while they talked the long shadows of the evening slowly blended into one violet darkness; the great citron-light of the sunset faded out; and those starry beings that are called the Three Councillors, who preside over life and death and the destinies of men, opened their cold bright eyes in the northern sky.

Scarcely tasted

Within the mansion of Sie the painted lanterns were lighted; the table was laid for the evening repast; and Ming-Y took his is place at i

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The Story of Ming-Y part 4

“Sir, my mistress understands you wish to thank her for the trifling service she recently bade me do you, and requests that you will enter the house, as she knows you already by repute, and desires to have the pleasure of bidding you good-day.”

Ming-Y entered bashfully, his feet making no sound upon a matting elastically soft as forest moss, and found himself in a reception-chamber vast, cool, and fragrant with scent of blossoms freshly gathered. A delicious quiet pervaded the mansion; shadows of flying birds passed over the bands of light that fell through the half-blinds of bamboo; great butterflies, with pinions of fiery color, found their way in, to hover a moment about the painted vases, and pass out again into the mysterious woods.

And noiselessly as they, the young mistress of the mansion entered by another door, and kindly greeted the boy, who lifted his hands to his breast and bowed low in salutation. She was taller than he had deemed her, and suppl

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The Story of Ming-Y part 3

Though he looked for a moment only, Ming-Y could not avoid discerning the loveliness of her face, the golden purity of her complexion, and the brightness of her long eyes that sparkled under a pair of brows as daintily curved as the wings of the silk-worm butterfly outspread. Ming-Y at once turned his gaze away, and, rising quickly, proceeded on his journey. But so much embarrassed did he feel at the idea of those charming eyes peeping at him through the leaves, that he suffered the money he had been carrying in his sleeve to fall, without being aware of it.

The perfumed silence

A few moments later he heard the patter of light feet running behind him, and a woman’s voice calling him by name. Turning his face in great surprise, he saw a comely servant- maid, who said to him, “Sir, my mistress bade me pick up and return to you this silver which you dropped upon the road.” Ming-Y thanked the girl gracefully, and requested her to convey his compliments to h

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The Story of Ming-Y part 2

Now as the house of this Lord Tchang was situated several miles from town, it was deemed best that Ming-Y should abide in the house of his employer. Accordingly the youth made ready all things necessary for his new sojourn and his parents, bidding him farewell, counseled him wisely, and cited to him the words of Lao-tseu and of the ancient sages:

“By a beautiful face the world is filled with love; but Heaven may never be deceived thereby. Shouldst thou behold a woman coming from the East, look thou to the West; shouldst thou perceive a maiden approaching from the West, turn thy eyes to the East.”

If Ming-Y did not heed this counsel in after days, it was only because of his youth and the thoughtlessness of a naturally joyous heart.

And he departed to abide in the house of Lord Tchang, while the autumn passed, and the winter also.

Little memento

When the time of the second moon of spring was drawing near, and that happy day whic

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The Story of Ming-Y part 1

China

Introduction

Chinese literature is one of the oldest, most varied, and extensive in the world, but though it includes a vast number of works on philosophy, religion, medicine, poetry, and the drama, it is comparatively poor in the realm of pure fiction, the novel and the short story. It appears that the narrative, related for its own sake alone, was held in contempt.

There are, however, two outstanding exceptions, in the form of col-lections of brief tales. Of these the first is the Kin-Kou-Ki-Kuan, or Marvelous Tales, Ancient and Modern, some forty short stories by a number of anonymous writers, brought together some time during the Fifteenth Century A.D. The other is the Liao-Chai-Chih-I, or Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, edited by P’u Sung-Ling, who, though he did not write the stories, has been accorded a rank among the “immortal” writers of his land, doubtless because of the distinctly moral taste which governed his choice.

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