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.
But when they had arrived at the shadiest part of the road, where the perfumes were most sweet and the mosses were greenest, and the fruits of the wild peach flushed most pinkly, Ming-Y, gazing though the groves, uttered a cry of dismay. Where the azure-tiled roof had risen against the sky, there was now only the blue emptiness of air; where the green-and-gold facade had been, there was visible only the flickering of leaves under the aureate autumn light; and where the broad terrace had extended, could be discerned only a ruin—a tomb so ancient, so deeply gnawed by moss, mat the name graven upon it was no longer decipherable. The home of Sie had disappeared.
All suddenly the High Commissioner smote his forehead with his hand, and turning to Pelou, recited the well-known verse of the ancient poet Tching-Kou:
“Surely the peach-flowers blossom over the tomb of Sie-Thao.”
“Friend Pelou,” continued Tchang, “the beauty who bewitched your son was no other than she whose tomb stands there in ruin’ before us! Did she not say she was wedded to Ping Khang? There is no family of that name but Ping-Khang is indeed the name of a broad alley in the city near. There was a dark riddle in all that she said. She called herself Sie of Moun-Hiao; there is no person of that name, there is no street of that name; but the Chinese characters Mown and Hiao, placed together, form the character, ‘Kiao.’ Listen! The alley Ping-Khang, situated in the street Kiao, was the place where dwelt the great courtesans of the dynasty of Thang!