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Title: Some Chinese Ghosts
Author: Hearn, Lafcadio, 1850-1904
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Some Chinese Ghosts" ***

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[Transcriber's Note: The letter o with a caron
is indicated as [)o] in this text version.]



SOME CHINESE GHOSTS


BY LAFCADIO HEARN



_Copyright_, 1887, by ROBERTS BROTHERS


       *       *       *       *       *

_To my friend_  HENRY EDWARD KREHBIEL

_THE MUSICIAN_

WHO, SPEAKING THE SPEECH OF MELODY UNTO THE
CHILDREN OF TIEN-HIA,--
UNTO THE WANDERING TSING-JIN, WHOSE SKINS
HAVE THE COLOR OF GOLD,--
MOVED THEM TO MAKE STRANGE SOUNDS UPON THE
SERPENT-BELLIED SAN-HIEN;
PERSUADED THEM TO PLAY FOR ME UPON THE
SHRIEKING YA-HIEN;
PREVAILED ON THEM TO SING ME A SONG OF THEIR
NATIVE LAND,--
THE SONG OF MOHLÍ-HWA,
THE SONG OF THE JASMINE-FLOWER

[Illustration: Line drawing of a man's head]

       *       *       *       *       *



_PREFACE_


I think that my best apology for the insignificant size of this volume
is the very character of the material composing it. In preparing the
legends I sought especially for _weird beauty_; and I could not forget
this striking observation in Sir Walter Scott's "Essay on Imitations of
the Ancient Ballad": "The supernatural, though appealing to certain
powerful emotions very widely and deeply sown amongst the human race,
is, nevertheless, a _spring which is peculiarly apt to lose its
elasticity by being too much pressed upon_."

Those desirous to familiarize themselves with Chinese literature as a
whole have had the way made smooth for them by the labors of linguists
like Julien, Pavie, Rémusat, De Rosny, Schlegel, Legge,
Hervey-Saint-Denys, Williams, Biot, Giles, Wylie, Beal, and many other
Sinologists. To such great explorers, indeed, the realm of Cathayan
story belongs by right of discovery and conquest; yet the humbler
traveller who follows wonderingly after them into the vast and
mysterious pleasure-grounds of Chinese fancy may surely be permitted to
cull a few of the marvellous flowers there growing,--a self-luminous
_hwa-wang_, a black lily, a phosphoric rose or two,--as souvenirs of his
curious voyage.

L.H.

NEW ORLEANS, March 15, 1886.



_CONTENTS_


THE SOUL OF THE GREAT BELL

THE STORY OF MING-Y

THE LEGEND OF TCHI-NIU

THE RETURN OF YEN-TCHIN-KING

THE TRADITION OF THE TEA-PLANT

THE TALE OF THE PORCELAIN-GOD

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTES

GLOSSARY



[Illustration: Decorative motif]

[Illustration: Line drawing of a head]



The Soul of the Great Bell


     _She hath spoken, and her words still resound in his ears._

     HAO-KHIEOU-TCHOUAN: c. ix.



THE SOUL OF THE GREAT BELL


The water-clock marks the hour in the _Ta-chung sz'_,--in the Tower of
the Great Bell: now the mallet is lifted to smite the lips of the
metal monster,--the vast lips inscribed with Buddhist texts from the
sacred _Fa-hwa-King_, from the chapters of the holy _Ling-yen-King_!
Hear the great bell responding!--how mighty her voice, though
tongueless!--_KO-NGAI!_ All the little dragons on the high-tilted
eaves of the green roofs shiver to the tips of their gilded tails
under that deep wave of sound; all the porcelain gargoyles tremble on
their carven perches; all the hundred little bells of the pagodas
quiver with desire to speak. _KO-NGAI!_--all the green-and-gold tiles
of the temple are vibrating; the wooden goldfish above them are
writhing against the sky; the uplifted finger of Fo shakes high over
the heads of the worshippers through the blue fog of incense!
_KO-NGAI!_--What a thunder tone was that! All the lacquered goblins on
the palace cornices wriggle their fire-colored tongues! And after each
huge shock, how wondrous the multiple echo and the great golden moan
and, at last, the sudden sibilant sobbing in the ears when the immense
tone faints away in broken whispers of silver,--as though a woman
should whisper, "_Hiai!_" Even so the great bell hath sounded every
day for well-nigh five hundred years,--_Ko-Ngai_: first with
stupendous clang, then with immeasurable moan of gold, then with
silver murmuring of "_Hiai!_" And there is not a child in all the
many-colored ways of the old Chinese city who does not know the story
of the great bell,--who cannot tell you why the great bell says
_Ko-Ngai_ and _Hiai_!

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, this is the story of the great bell in the Ta-chung sz', as the
same is related in the _Pe-Hiao-Tou-Choue_, written by the learned
Yu-Pao-Tchen, of the City of Kwang-tchau-fu.

Nearly five hundred years ago the Celestially August, the Son of Heaven,
Yong-Lo, of the "Illustrious," or Ming, dynasty, commanded the worthy
official Kouan-Yu that he should have a bell made of such size that the
sound thereof might be heard for one hundred _li_. And he further
ordained that the voice of the bell should be strengthened with brass,
and deepened with gold, and sweetened with silver; and that the face and
the great lips of it should be graven with blessed sayings from the
sacred books, and that it should be suspended in the centre of the
imperial capital, to sound through all the many-colored ways of the City
of Pe-king.

Therefore the worthy mandarin Kouan-Yu assembled the master-moulders and
the renowned bellsmiths of the empire, and all men of great repute and
cunning in foundry work; and they measured the materials for the alloy,
and treated them skilfully, and prepared the moulds, the fires, the
instruments, and the monstrous melting-pot for fusing the metal. And
they labored exceedingly, like giants,--neglecting only rest and sleep
and the comforts of life; toiling both night and day in obedience to
Kouan-Yu, and striving in all things to do the behest of the Son of
Heaven.

But when the metal had been cast, and the earthen mould separated from
the glowing casting, it was discovered that, despite their great labor
and ceaseless care, the result was void of worth; for the metals had
rebelled one against the other,--the gold had scorned alliance with the
brass, the silver would not mingle with the molten iron. Therefore the
moulds had to be once more prepared, and the fires rekindled, and the
metal remelted, and all the work tediously and toilsomely repeated. The
Son of Heaven heard, and was angry, but spake nothing.

A second time the bell was cast, and the result was even worse. Still
the metals obstinately refused to blend one with the other; and there
was no uniformity in the bell, and the sides of it were cracked and
fissured, and the lips of it were slagged and split asunder; so that all
the labor had to be repeated even a third time, to the great dismay of
Kouan-Yu. And when the Son of Heaven heard these things, he was angrier
than before; and sent his messenger to Kouan-Yu with a letter, written
upon lemon-colored silk, and sealed with the seal of the Dragon,
containing these words:--

"_From the Mighty Yong-Lo, the Sublime Tait-Sung, the Celestial and
August,--whose reign is called 'Ming,'--to Kouan-Yu the Fuh-yin: Twice
thou hast betrayed the trust we have deigned graciously to place in
thee; if thou fail a third time in fulfilling our command, thy head
shall be severed from thy neck. Tremble, and obey!_"

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, Kouan-Yu had a daughter of dazzling loveliness, whose
name--Ko-Ngai--was ever in the mouths of poets, and whose heart was even
more beautiful than her face. Ko-Ngai loved her father with such love
that she had refused a hundred worthy suitors rather than make his home
desolate by her absence; and when she had seen the awful yellow missive,
sealed with the Dragon-Seal, she fainted away with fear for her father's
sake. And when her senses and her strength returned to her, she could
not rest or sleep for thinking of her parent's danger, until she had
secretly sold some of her jewels, and with the money so obtained had
hastened to an astrologer, and paid him a great price to advise her by
what means her father might be saved from the peril impending over him.
So the astrologer made observations of the heavens, and marked the
aspect of the Silver Stream (which we call the Milky Way), and examined
the signs of the Zodiac,--the _Hwang-tao_, or Yellow Road,--and
consulted the table of the Five _Hin_, or Principles of the Universe,
and the mystical books of the alchemists. And after a long silence, he
made answer to her, saying: "Gold and brass will never meet in wedlock,
silver and iron never will embrace, until the flesh of a maiden be
melted in the crucible; until the blood of a virgin be mixed with the
metals in their fusion." So Ko-Ngai returned home sorrowful at heart;
but she kept secret all that she had heard, and told no one what she had
done.

       *       *       *       *       *

At last came the awful day when the third and last effort to cast the
great bell was to be made; and Ko-Ngai, together with her waiting-woman,
accompanied her father to the foundry, and they took their places upon a
platform overlooking the toiling of the moulders and the lava of
liquefied metal. All the workmen wrought their tasks in silence; there
was no sound heard but the muttering of the fires. And the muttering
deepened into a roar like the roar of typhoons approaching, and the
blood-red lake of metal slowly brightened like the vermilion of a
sunrise, and the vermilion was transmuted into a radiant glow of gold,
and the gold whitened blindingly, like the silver face of a full moon.
Then the workers ceased to feed the raving flame, and all fixed their
eyes upon the eyes of Kouan-Yu; and Kouan-Yu prepared to give the signal
to cast.

But ere ever he lifted his finger, a cry caused him to turn his head;
and all heard the voice of Ko-Ngai sounding sharply sweet as a bird's
song above the great thunder of the fires,--"_For thy sake, O my
Father!_" And even as she cried, she leaped into the white flood of
metal; and the lava of the furnace roared to receive her, and spattered
monstrous flakes of flame to the roof, and burst over the verge of the
earthen crater, and cast up a whirling fountain of many-colored fires,
and subsided quakingly, with lightnings and with thunders and with
mutterings.

Then the father of Ko-Ngai, wild with his grief, would have leaped in
after her, but that strong men held him back and kept firm grasp upon
him until he had fainted away and they could bear him like one dead to
his home. And the serving-woman of Ko-Ngai, dizzy and speechless for
pain, stood before the furnace, still holding in her hands a shoe, a
tiny, dainty shoe, with embroidery of pearls and flowers,--the shoe of
her beautiful mistress that was. For she had sought to grasp Ko-Ngai by
the foot as she leaped, but had only been able to clutch the shoe, and
the pretty shoe came off in her hand; and she continued to stare at it
like one gone mad.


But in spite of all these things, the command of the Celestial and
August had to be obeyed, and the work of the moulders to be finished,
hopeless as the result might be. Yet the glow of the metal seemed purer
and whiter than before; and there was no sign of the beautiful body that
had been entombed therein. So the ponderous casting was made; and lo!
when the metal had become cool, it was found that the bell was beautiful
to look upon, and perfect in form, and wonderful in color above all
other bells. Nor was there any trace found of the body of Ko-Ngai; for
it had been totally absorbed by the precious alloy, and blended with the
well-blended brass and gold, with the intermingling of the silver and
the iron. And when they sounded the bell, its tones were found to be
deeper and mellower and mightier than the tones of any other
bell,--reaching even beyond the distance of one hundred _li_, like a
pealing of summer thunder; and yet also like some vast voice uttering a
name, a woman's name,--the name of Ko-Ngai!

       *       *       *       *       *

And still, between each mighty stroke there is a long low moaning heard;
and ever the moaning ends with a sound of sobbing and of complaining, as
though a weeping woman should murmur, "_Hiai!_" And still, when the
people hear that great golden moan they keep silence; but when the
sharp, sweet shuddering comes in the air, and the sobbing of "_Hiai!_"
then, indeed, all the Chinese mothers in all the many-colored ways of
Pe-king whisper to their little ones: "_Listen! that is Ko-Ngai crying
for her shoe! That is Ko-Ngai calling for her shoe!_"


[Illustration: Chinese calligraphy]



The Story of Ming-Y


     THE ANCIENT WORDS OF KOUEI--MASTER OF MUSICIANS IN THE COURTS
     OF THE EMPEROR YAO:--

    _When ye make to resound the stone melodious, the Ming-Khieou,--
    When ye touch the lyre that is called Kin, or the guitar that is
        called Ssé,--
    Accompanying their sound with song,--
    Then do the grandfather and the father return;
    Then do the ghosts of the ancestors come to hear._



THE STORY OF MING-Y

     _Sang the Poet Tching-Kou: "Surely the Peach-Flowers blossom over
     the tomb of Sië-Thao."_


Do you ask me who she was,--the beautiful Sië-Thao? For a thousand years
and more the trees have been whispering above her bed of stone. And the
syllables of her name come to the listener with the lisping of the
leaves; with the quivering of many-fingered boughs; with the fluttering
of lights and shadows; with the breath, sweet as a woman's presence, of
numberless savage flowers,--_Sië-Thao_. But, saving the whispering of
her name, what the trees say cannot be understood; and they alone
remember the years of Sië-Thao. Something about her you might,
nevertheless, learn from any of those _Kiang-kou-jin_,--those famous
Chinese story-tellers, who nightly narrate to listening crowds, in
consideration of a few _tsien_, the legends of the past. Something
concerning her you may also find in the book entitled "Kin-Kou-Ki-Koan,"
which signifies in our tongue: "The Marvellous Happenings of Ancient and
of Recent Times." And perhaps of all things therein written, the most
marvellous is this memory of Sië-Thao:--

Five hundred years ago, in the reign of the Emperor Houng-Wou, whose
dynasty was _Ming_, there lived in the City of Genii, the city of
Kwang-tchau-fu, a man celebrated for his learning and for his piety,
named Tien-Pelou. This Tien-Pelou had one son, a beautiful boy, who for
scholarship and for bodily grace and for polite accomplishments had no
superior among the youths of his age. And his name was Ming-Y.

Now when the lad was in his eighteenth summer, it came to pass that
Pelou, his father, was appointed Inspector of Public Instruction at the
city of Tching-tou; and Ming-Y accompanied his parents thither. Near the
city of Tching-tou lived a rich man of rank, a high commissioner of the
government, whose name was Tchang, and who wanted to find a worthy
teacher for his children. On hearing of the arrival of the new Inspector
of Public Instruction, the noble Tchang visited him to obtain advice in
this matter; and happening to meet and converse with Pelou's
accomplished son, immediately engaged Ming-Y as a private tutor for his
family.

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, counselled 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 thine 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.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the time of the second moon of spring was drawing near, and that
happy day which the Chinese call _Hoa-tchao_, or, "The Birthday of a
Hundred Flowers," a longing came upon Ming-Y to see his parents; and he
opened his heart to the good Tchang, who not only gave him the
permission he desired, but also pressed into his hand a silver gift of
two ounces, thinking that the lad might wish to bring some little
memento to his father and mother. For it is the Chinese custom, on the
feast of Hoa-tchao, to make presents to friends and relations.

That day all the air was drowsy with blossom perfume, and vibrant with
the droning of bees. It seemed to Ming-Y that the path he followed had
not been trodden by any other for many long years; the grass was tall
upon it; vast trees on either side interlocked their mighty and
moss-grown arms above him, beshadowing the way; but the leafy
obscurities quivered with bird-song, and the deep vistas of the wood
were glorified by vapors of gold, and odorous with flower-breathings as
a temple with incense. The dreamy joy of the day entered into the heart
of Ming-Y; and he sat him down among the young blossoms, under the
branches swaying against the violet sky, to drink in the perfume and the
light, and to enjoy the great sweet silence. Even while thus reposing, a
sound caused him to turn his eyes toward a shady place where wild
peach-trees were in bloom; and he beheld a young woman, beautiful as the
pinkening blossoms themselves, trying to hide among them. 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 silkworm 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. 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 you this silver which you dropped
upon the road." Ming-Y thanked the girl gracefully, and requested her to
convey his compliments to her mistress. Then he proceeded on his way
through the perfumed silence, athwart the shadows that dreamed along the
forgotten path, dreaming himself also, and feeling his heart beating
with strange quickness at the thought of the beautiful being that he had
seen.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was just such another day when Ming-Y, returning by the same path,
paused once more at the spot where the gracious figure had momentarily
appeared before him. But this time he was surprised to perceive, through
a long vista of immense trees, a dwelling that had previously escaped
his notice,--a country residence, not large, yet elegant to an unusual
degree. The bright blue tiles of its curved and serrated double roof,
rising above the foliage, seemed to blend their color with the luminous
azure of the day; the green-and-gold designs of its carven porticos were
exquisite artistic mockeries of leaves and flowers bathed in sunshine.
And at the summit of terrace-steps before it, guarded by great
porcelain tortoises, Ming-Y saw standing the mistress of the
mansion,--the idol of his passionate fancy,--accompanied by the same
waiting-maid who had borne to her his message of gratitude. While Ming-Y
looked, he perceived that their eyes were upon him; they smiled and
conversed together as if speaking about him; and, shy though he was, the
youth found courage to salute the fair one from a distance. To his
astonishment, the young servant beckoned him to approach; and opening a
rustic gate half veiled by trailing plants bearing crimson flowers,
Ming-Y advanced along the verdant alley leading to the terrace, with
mingled feelings of surprise and timid joy. As he drew near, the
beautiful lady withdrew from sight; but the maid waited at the broad
steps to receive him, and said as he ascended:

"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 supplely-slender as a beauteous lily;
her black hair was interwoven with the creamy blossoms of the
_chu-sha-kih_; her robes of pale silk took shifting tints when she
moved, as vapors change hue with the changing of the light.

"If I be not mistaken," she said, when both had seated themselves after
having exchanged the customary formalities of politeness, "my honored
visitor is none other than Tien-chou, surnamed Ming-Y, educator of the
children of my respected relative, the High Commissioner Tchang. As the
family of Lord Tchang is my family also, I cannot but consider the
teacher of his children as one of my own kin."

"Lady," replied Ming-Y, not a little astonished, "may I dare to inquire
the name of your honored family, and to ask the relation which you hold
to my noble patron?"

"The name of my poor family," responded the comely lady, "is _Ping_,--an
ancient family of the city of Tching-tou. I am the daughter of a certain
Sië of Moun-hao; Sië is my name, likewise; and I was married to a young
man of the Ping family, whose name was Khang. By this marriage I became
related to your excellent patron; but my husband died soon after our
wedding, and I have chosen this solitary place to reside in during the
period of my widowhood."

There was a drowsy music in her voice, as of the melody of brooks, the
murmurings of spring; and such a strange grace in the manner of her
speech as Ming-Y had never heard before. Yet, on learning that she was a
widow, the youth would not have presumed to remain long in her presence
without a formal invitation; and after having sipped the cup of rich tea
presented to him, he arose to depart. Sië would not suffer him to go so
quickly.

"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 Sië seemed to
him the fairest and sweetest being he had ever known, and he felt that
he loved her even 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. Within the mansion of Sië the painted lanterns were
lighted; the table was laid for the evening repast; and Ming-Y took his
place at it, feeling little inclination to eat, and thinking only of the
charming face before him. Observing that he scarcely tasted the dainties
laid upon his plate, Sië pressed her young guest to partake of wine;
and they drank several cups together. It was a purple wine, so cool that
the cup into which it was poured became covered with vapory dew; yet it
seemed to warm the veins with strange fire. To Ming-Y, as he drank, all
things became more luminous as by enchantment; the walls of the chamber
appeared to recede, and the roof to heighten; the lamps glowed like
stars in their chains, and the voice of Sië floated to the boy's ears
like some far melody heard through the spaces of a drowsy night. His
heart swelled; his tongue loosened; and words flitted from his lips that
he had fancied he could never dare to utter. Yet Sië sought not to
restrain him; her lips gave no smile; but her long bright eyes seemed to
laugh with pleasure at his words of praise, and to return his gaze of
passionate admiration with affectionate interest.

"I have heard," she said, "of your rare talent, and of your many elegant
accomplishments. I know how to sing a little, although I cannot claim to
possess any musical learning; and now that I have the honor of finding
myself in the society of a musical professor, I will venture to lay
modesty aside, and beg you to sing a few songs with me. I should deem it
no small gratification if you would condescend to examine my musical
compositions."

"The honor and the 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 upon 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 Heï-song Ché-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,--mighty poets and musicians of the dynasty of Thang! 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. "O Lady!" he cried,
"these are veritably priceless things, surpassing in worth the
treasures of all kings. This indeed is the handwriting of those great
masters who sang five hundred years before our birth. How marvellously
it has been preserved! Is not this the wondrous ink of which it was
written: _Po-nien-jou-chi, i-tien-jou-ki,_--'After centuries I remain
firm as stone, and the letters that I make like lacquer'? And how divine
the charm of this composition!--the song of Kao-pien, prince of poets,
and Governor of Sze-tchouen five hundred years ago!"

"Kao-pien! darling Kao-pien!" murmured Sië, with a singular light in her
eyes. "Kao-pien is also my favorite. Dear Ming-Y, let us chant his
verses together, to the melody of old,--the music of those grand years
when men were nobler and wiser than to-day."

And their voices rose through the perfumed night like the voices of the
wonder-birds,--of the Fung-hoang,--blending together in liquid
sweetness. Yet a moment, and Ming-Y, overcome by the witchery of his
companion's voice, could only listen in speechless ecstasy, while the
lights of the chamber swam dim before his sight, and tears of pleasure
trickled down his cheeks.

So the ninth hour passed; and they continued to converse, and to drink
the cool purple wine, and to sing the songs of the years of Thang, until
far into the night. More than once Ming-Y thought of departing; but each
time Sië would begin, in that silver-sweet voice of hers, so wondrous a
story of the great poets of the past, and of the women whom they loved,
that he became as one entranced; or she would sing for him a song so
strange that all his senses seemed to die except that of hearing. And at
last, as she paused to pledge him in a cup of wine, Ming-Y could not
restrain himself from putting his arm about her round neck and drawing
her dainty head closer to him, and kissing the lips that were so much
ruddier and sweeter than the wine. Then their lips separated no
more;--the night grew old, and they knew it not.

       *       *       *       *       *

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. Sië, 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 that 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 witnesses 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 cause to
reproach me, sweetheart!" And they separated with mutual vows.

That morning, on returning to the house of Lord Tchang, Ming-Y told the
first falsehood which had ever passed his lips. He averred that his
mother had requested him thenceforward to pass his nights at home, now
that the weather had become so pleasant; for, though the way was
somewhat long, he was strong and active, and needed both air and healthy
exercise. Tchang believed all Ming-Y said, and offered no objection.
Accordingly the lad found himself enabled to pass all his evenings at
the house of the beautiful Sië. Each night they devoted to the same
pleasures which had made their first acquaintance so charming: they sang
and conversed by turns; they played at chess,--the learned game invented
by Wu-Wang, which is an imitation of war; they composed pieces of eighty
rhymes upon the flowers, the trees, the clouds, the streams, the birds,
the bees. But in all accomplishments Sië far excelled her young
sweetheart. Whenever they played at chess, it was always Ming-Y's
general, Ming-Y's _tsiang_, who was surrounded and vanquished; when they
composed verses, Sië's poems were ever superior to his in harmony of
word-coloring, in elegance of form, in classic loftiness of thought.
And the themes they selected were always the most difficult,--those of
the poets of the Thang dynasty; the songs they sang were also the songs
of five hundred years before,--the songs of Youen-tchin, of Thou-mou, of
Kao-pien above all, high poet and ruler of the province of Sze-tchouen.

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 at Tching-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 fordone 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 taverns nor
flower-boats nor any places of dissipation in our neighborhood. No doubt
Ming-Y has found some amiable youth of his own age with whom to spend
his evenings, and only told me an untruth for fear that I would not
otherwise permit him to leave my residence. I beg that you will say
nothing to him until I shall have sought to discover this mystery; and
this very evening I shall send my servant to follow after him, and to
watch whither he goes."

Pelou readily assented to this proposal, and promising to visit Tchang
the following morning, returned to his home. In the evening, when Ming-Y
left the house of Tchang, a servant followed him unobserved at a
distance. But on reaching the most obscure portion of the road, the boy
disappeared from sight as suddenly as though the earth had swallowed
him. After having long sought after him in vain, the domestic returned
in great bewilderment to the house, and related what had taken place.
Tchang immediately sent a messenger to Pelou.

In the mean time Ming-Y, entering the chamber of his beloved, was
surprised and deeply pained to find her in tears. "Sweetheart," she
sobbed, wreathing her arms around his neck, "we are about to be
separated forever, because of reasons which I cannot tell you. From the
very first I knew this must come to pass; and nevertheless it seemed to
me for the moment so cruelly sudden a loss, so unexpected a misfortune,
that I could not prevent myself from weeping! After this night we shall
never see each other again, beloved, and I know that you will not be
able to forget me while you live; but I know also that you will become a
great scholar, and that honors and riches will be showered upon you, and
that some beautiful and loving woman will console you for my loss. And
now let us speak no more of grief; but let us pass this last evening
joyously, so that your recollection of me may not be a painful one, and
that you may remember my laughter rather than my tears."

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 Sië 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 chiselled, and worthy the table
of a great poet. And they separated forever, shedding many tears.

       *       *       *       *       *

Still Ming-Y could not believe it was an eternal parting. "No!" he
thought, "I shall visit her tomorrow; for I cannot now live without her,
and I feel assured that she cannot refuse to receive me." Such were the
thoughts that filled his mind as he reached the house of Tchang, to find
his father and his patron standing on the porch awaiting him. Ere he
could speak a word, Pelou demanded: "Son, in what place have you been
passing your nights?"

Seeing that his falsehood had been discovered, Ming-Y dared not make any
reply, and remained abashed and silent, with bowed head, in the presence
of his father. Then Pelou, striking the boy violently with his staff,
commanded him to divulge the secret; and at last, partly through fear
of his parent, and partly through fear of the law which ordains that
"_the son refusing to obey his father shall be punished with one hundred
blows of the bamboo,_" Ming-Y faltered out the history of his love.

Tchang changed color at the boy's tale. "Child," exclaimed the High
Commissioner, "I have no relative of the name of Ping; I have never
heard of the woman you describe; I have never heard even of the house
which you speak of. But I know also that you cannot dare to lie to
Pelou, your honored father; there is some strange delusion in all this
affair."

Then Ming-Y produced the gifts that Sië 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 master-pieces 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 Sië.

       *       *       *       *       *

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 through 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, that the name graven upon it was no longer decipherable.
The home of Sië 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 SIË-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 Sië of
Moun-Hiao: there is no person of that name; there is no street of that
name; but the Chinese characters _Moun_ 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! 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-hai_'? 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 Sië,--Sië-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.
Sië-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."

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 breeze passed by, leaving a trail of
blossom-scent,--a last odor of dying flowers,--thin as that which clings
to the silk of a forgotten robe; and, as it passed, the trees seemed to
whisper across the silence, "_Sië-Thao_."

       *       *       *       *       *

Fearing greatly for his son, Pelou sent the lad away at once to the
city of Kwang-tchau-fu. And there, in after years, Ming-Y obtained high
dignities and honors by reason of his talents and his learning; and he
married the daughter of an illustrious house, by whom he became the
father of sons and daughters famous for their virtues and their
accomplishments. Never could he forget Sië-Thao; and yet it is said that
he never spoke of her,--not even when his children begged him to tell
them the story of two beautiful objects that always lay upon his
writing-table: a lion of yellow jade, and a brush-case of carven agate.

[Illustration: Chinese calligraphy]



The Legend of Tchi-Niu


     A SOUND OF GONGS, A SOUND OF SONG,--THE SONG OF THE BUILDERS
     BUILDING THE DWELLINGS OF THE DEAD:--

          _Khiû tchî yîng-yîng.
          Toû tchî hoûng-hoûng.
          Tch[)o] tchî tông-tông.
          Si[)o] liú pîng-pîng._



THE LEGEND OF TCHI-NIU.


In the quaint commentary accompanying the text of that holy book of
Lao-tseu called _Kan-ing-p'ien_ may be found a little story so old that
the name of the one who first told it has been forgotten for a thousand
years, yet so beautiful that it lives still in the memory of four
hundred millions of people, like a prayer that, once learned, is forever
remembered. The Chinese writer makes no mention of any city nor of any
province, although even in the relation of the most ancient traditions
such an omission is rare; we are only told that the name of the hero of
the legend was Tong-yong, and that he lived in the years of the great
dynasty of Han, some twenty centuries ago.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tong-Yong's mother had died while he was yet an infant; and when he
became a youth of nineteen years his father also passed away, leaving
him utterly alone in the world, and without resources of any sort; for,
being a very poor man, Tong's father had put himself to great straits to
educate the lad, and had not been able to lay by even one copper coin of
his earnings. And Tong lamented greatly to find himself so destitute
that he could not honor the memory of that good father by having the
customary rites of burial performed, and a carven tomb erected upon a
propitious site. The poor only are friends of the poor; and among all
those whom Tong knew; there was no one able to assist him in defraying
the expenses of the funeral. In one way only could the youth obtain
money,--by selling himself as a slave to some rich cultivator; and this
he at last decided to do. In vain his friends did their utmost to
dissuade him; and to no purpose did they attempt to delay the
accomplishment of his sacrifice by beguiling promises of future aid.
Tong only replied that he would sell his freedom a hundred times, if it
were possible, rather than suffer his father's memory to remain
unhonored even for a brief season. And furthermore, confiding in his
youth and strength, he determined to put a high price upon his
servitude,--a price which would enable him to build a handsome tomb, but
which it would be well-nigh impossible for him ever to repay.

       *       *       *       *       *

Accordingly he repaired to the broad public place where slaves and
debtors were exposed for sale, and seated himself upon a bench of stone,
having affixed to his shoulders a placard inscribed with the terms of
his servitude and the list of his qualifications as a laborer. Many who
read the characters upon the placard smiled disdainfully at the price
asked, and passed on without a word; others lingered only to question
him out of simple curiosity; some commended him with hollow praise; some
openly mocked his unselfishness, and laughed at his childish piety. Thus
many hours wearily passed, and Tong had almost despaired of finding a
master, when there rode up a high official of the province,--a grave
and handsome man, lord of a thousand slaves, and owner of vast estates.
Reining in his Tartar horse, the official halted to read the placard and
to consider the value of the slave. He did not smile, or advise, or ask
any questions; but having observed the price asked, and the fine strong
limbs of the youth, purchased him without further ado, merely ordering
his attendant to pay the sum and to see that the necessary papers were
made out.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus Tong found himself enabled to fulfil the wish of his heart, and to
have a monument built which, although of small size, was destined to
delight the eyes of all who beheld it, being designed by cunning artists
and executed by skilful sculptors. And while it was yet designed only,
the pious rites were performed, the silver coin was placed in the mouth
of the dead, the white lanterns were hung at the door, the holy prayers
were recited, and paper shapes of all things the departed might need in
the land of the Genii were consumed in consecrated fire. And after the
geomancers and the necromancers had chosen a burial-spot which no
unlucky star could shine upon, a place of rest which no demon or dragon
might ever disturb, the beautiful _chih_ was built. Then was the phantom
money strewn along the way; the funeral procession departed from the
dwelling of the dead, and with prayers and lamentation the mortal
remains of Tong's good father were borne to the tomb.

Then Tong entered as a slave into the service of his purchaser, who
allotted him a little hut to dwell in; and thither Tong carried with him
those wooden tablets, bearing the ancestral names, before which filial
piety must daily burn the incense of prayer, and perform the tender
duties of family worship.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thrice had spring perfumed the breast of the land with flowers, and
thrice had been celebrated that festival of the dead which is called
_Siu-fan-ti_, and thrice had Tong swept and garnished his father's tomb
and presented his fivefold offering of fruits and meats. The period of
mourning had passed, yet he had not ceased to mourn for his parent. The
years revolved with their moons, bringing him no hour of joy, no day of
happy rest; yet he never lamented his servitude, or failed to perform
the rites of ancestral worship,--until at last the fever of the
rice-fields laid strong hold upon him, and he could not arise from his
couch; and his fellow-laborers thought him destined to die. There was no
one to wait upon him, no one to care for his needs, inasmuch as slaves
and servants were wholly busied with the duties of the household or the
labor of the fields,--all departing to toil at sunrise and returning
weary only after the sundown.

Now, while the sick youth slumbered the fitful slumber of exhaustion one
sultry noon, he dreamed that a strange and beautiful woman stood by him,
and bent above him and touched his forehead with the long, fine fingers
of her shapely hand. And at her cool touch a weird sweet shock passed
through him, and all his veins tingled as if thrilled by new life.
Opening his eyes in wonder, he saw verily bending over him the charming
being of whom he had dreamed, and he knew that her lithe hand really
caressed his throbbing forehead. But the flame of the fever was gone, a
delicious coolness now penetrated every fibre of his body, and the
thrill of which he had dreamed still tingled in his blood like a great
joy. Even at the same moment the eyes of the gentle visitor met his own,
and he saw they were singularly beautiful, and shone like splendid black
jewels under brows curved like the wings of the swallow. Yet their calm
gaze seemed to pass through him as light through crystal; and a vague
awe came upon him, so that the question which had risen to his lips
found no utterance. Then she, still caressing him, smiled and said: "I
have come to restore thy strength and to be thy wife. Arise and worship
with me."

Her clear voice had tones melodious as a bird's song; but in her gaze
there was an imperious power which Tong felt he dare not resist. Rising
from his couch, he was astounded to find his strength wholly restored;
but the cool, slender hand which held his own led him away so swiftly
that he had little time for amazement. He would have given years of
existence for courage to speak of his misery, to declare his utter
inability to maintain a wife; but something irresistible in the long
dark eyes of his companion forbade him to speak; and as though his
inmost thought had been discerned by that wondrous gaze, she said to
him, in the same clear voice, "_I will provide._" Then shame made him
blush at the thought of his wretched aspect and tattered apparel; but he
observed that she also was poorly attired, like a woman of the
people,--wearing no ornament of any sort, nor even shoes upon her feet.
And before he had yet spoken to her, they came before the ancestral
tablets; and there she knelt with him and prayed, and pledged him in a
cup of wine,--brought he knew not from whence,--and together they
worshipped Heaven and Earth. Thus she became his wife.

       *       *       *       *       *

A mysterious marriage it seemed, for neither on that day nor at any
future time could Tong venture to ask his wife the name of her family,
or of the place whence she came, and he could not answer any of the
curious questions which his fellow-laborers put to him concerning her;
and she, moreover, never uttered a word about herself, except to say
that her name was Tchi. But although Tong had such awe of her that while
her eyes were upon him he was as one having no will of his own, he loved
her unspeakably; and the thought of his serfdom ceased to weigh upon him
from the hour of his marriage. As through magic the little dwelling had
become transformed: its misery was masked with charming paper
devices,--with dainty decorations created out of nothing by that pretty
jugglery of which woman only knows the secret.

Each morning at dawn the young husband found a well-prepared and ample
repast awaiting him, and each evening also upon his return; but the wife
all day sat at her loom, weaving silk after a fashion unlike anything
which had ever been seen before in that province. For as she wove, the
silk flowed from the loom like a slow current of glossy gold, bearing
upon its undulations strange forms of violet and crimson and
jewel-green: shapes of ghostly horsemen riding upon horses, and of
phantom chariots dragon-drawn, and of standards of trailing cloud. In
every dragon's beard glimmered the mystic pearl; in every rider's helmet
sparkled the gem of rank. And each day Tchi would weave a great piece
of such figured silk; and the fame of her weaving spread abroad. From
far and near people thronged to see the marvellous work; and the
silk-merchants of great cities heard of it, and they sent messengers to
Tchi, asking her that she should weave for them and teach them her
secret. Then she wove for them, as they desired, in return for the
silver cubes which they brought her; but when they prayed her to teach
them, she laughed and said, "Assuredly I could never teach you, for no
one among you has fingers like mine." And indeed no man could discern
her fingers when she wove, any more than he might behold the wings of a
bee vibrating in swift flight.

       *       *       *       *       *

The seasons passed, and Tong never knew want, so well did his beautiful
wife fulfil her promise,--"_I will provide_"; and the cubes of bright
silver brought by the silk-merchants were piled up higher and higher in
the great carven chest which Tchi had bought for the storage of the
household goods.

One morning, at last, when Tong, having finished his repast, was about
to depart to the fields, Tchi unexpectedly bade him remain; and opening
the great chest, she took out of it and gave him a document written in
the official characters called _li-shu_. And Tong, looking at it, cried
out and leaped in his joy, for it was the certificate of his
manumission. Tchi had secretly purchased her husband's freedom with the
price of her wondrous silks!

"Thou shalt labor no more for any master," she said, "but for thine own
sake only. And I have also bought this dwelling, with all which is
therein, and the tea-fields to the south, and the mulberry groves hard
by,--all of which are thine."

Then Tong, beside himself for gratefulness, would have prostrated
himself in worship before her, but that she would not suffer it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus he was made free; and prosperity came to him with his freedom; and
whatsoever he gave to the sacred earth was returned to him centupled;
and his servants loved him and blessed the beautiful Tchi, so silent and
yet so kindly to all about her. But the silk-loom soon remained
untouched, for Tchi gave birth to a son,--a boy so beautiful that Tong
wept with delight when he looked upon him. And thereafter the wife
devoted herself wholly to the care of the child.

Now it soon became manifest that the boy was not less wonderful than his
wonderful mother. In the third month of his age he could speak; in the
seventh month he could repeat by heart the proverbs of the sages, and
recite the holy prayers; before the eleventh month he could use the
writing-brush with skill, and copy in shapely characters the precepts of
Lao-tseu. And the priests of the temples came to behold him and to
converse with him, and they marvelled at the charm of the child and the
wisdom of what he said; and they blessed Tong, saying: "Surely this son
of thine is a gift from the Master of Heaven, a sign that the immortals
love thee. May thine eyes behold a hundred happy summers!"

       *       *       *       *       *

It was in the Period of the Eleventh Moon: the flowers had passed away,
the perfume of the summer had flown, the winds were growing chill, and
in Tong's home the evening fires were lighted. Long the husband and wife
sat in the mellow glow,--he speaking much of his hopes and joys, and of
his son that was to be so grand a man, and of many paternal projects;
while she, speaking little, listened to his words, and often turned her
wonderful eyes upon him with an answering smile. Never had she seemed so
beautiful before; and Tong, watching her face, marked not how the night
waned, nor how the fire sank low, nor how the wind sang in the leafless
trees without.

All suddenly Tchi arose without speaking, and took his hand in hers and
led him, gently as on that strange wedding-morning, to the cradle where
their boy slumbered, faintly smiling in his dreams. And in that moment
there came upon Tong the same strange fear that he knew when Tchi's eyes
had first met his own,--the vague fear that love and trust had calmed,
but never wholly cast out, like unto the fear of the gods. And all
unknowingly, like one yielding to the pressure of mighty invisible
hands, he bowed himself low before her, kneeling as to a divinity. Now,
when he lifted his eyes again to her face, he closed them forthwith in
awe; for she towered before him taller than any mortal woman, and there
was a glow about her as of sunbeams, and the light of her limbs shone
through her garments. But her sweet voice came to him with all the
tenderness of other hours, saying: "_Lo! my beloved, the moment has come
in which I must forsake thee; for I was never of mortal born, and the
Invisible may incarnate themselves for a time only. Yet I leave with
thee the pledge of our love,--this fair son, who shall ever be to thee
as faithful and as fond as thou thyself hast been. Know, my beloved,
that I was sent to thee even by the Master of Heaven, in reward of thy
filial piety, and that I must now return to the glory of His house:
I AM THE GODDESS TCHI-NIU._"

Even as she ceased to speak, the great glow faded; and Tong, re-opening
his eyes, knew that she had passed away forever,--mysteriously as pass
the winds of heaven, irrevocably as the light of a flame blown out. Yet
all the doors were barred, all the windows unopened. Still the child
slept, smiling in his sleep. Outside, the darkness was breaking; the sky
was brightening swiftly; the night was past. With splendid majesty the
East threw open high gates of gold for the coming of the sun; and,
illuminated by the glory of his coming, the vapors of morning wrought
themselves into marvellous shapes of shifting color,--into forms weirdly
beautiful as the silken dreams woven in the loom of Tchi-Niu.

[Illustration: Chinese calligraphy]



The Return of Yen-Tchin-King


    _Before me ran, as a herald runneth, the Leader of the Moon;
    And the Spirit of the Wind followed after me,--quickening his flight._

     LI-SAO.



THE RETURN OF YEN-TCHIN-KING


In the thirty-eighth chapter of the holy book, _Kan-ing-p'ien_, wherein
the Recompense of Immortality is considered, may be found the legend of
Yen-Tchin-King. A thousand years have passed since the passing of the
good Tchin-King; for it was in the period of the greatness of Thang that
he lived and died.

Now, in those days when Yen-Tchin-King was Supreme Judge of one of the
Six August Tribunals, one Li-hi-lié, a soldier mighty for evil, lifted
the black banner of revolt, and drew after him, as a tide of
destruction, the millions of the northern provinces. And learning of
these things, and knowing also that Hi-lié was the most ferocious of
men, who respected nothing on earth save fearlessness, the Son of Heaven
commanded Tchin-King that he should visit Hi-lié and strive to recall
the rebel to duty, and read unto the people who followed after him in
revolt the Emperor's letter of reproof and warning. For Tchin-King was
famed throughout the provinces for his wisdom, his rectitude, and his
fearlessness; and the Son of Heaven believed that if Hi-lié would listen
to the words of any living man steadfast in loyalty and virtue, he would
listen to the words of Tchin-King. So Tchin-King arrayed himself in his
robes of office, and set his house in order; and, having embraced his
wife and his children, mounted his horse and rode away alone to the
roaring camp of the rebels, bearing the Emperor's letter in his bosom.
"I shall return; fear not!" were his last words to the gray servant who
watched him from the terrace as he rode.

       *       *       *       *       *

And Tchin-King at last descended from his horse, and entered into the
rebel camp, and, passing through that huge gathering of war, stood in
the presence of Hi-lié. High sat the rebel among his chiefs, encircled
by the wave-lightning of swords and the thunders of ten thousand gongs:
above him undulated the silken folds of the Black Dragon, while a vast
fire rose bickering before him. Also Tchin-King saw that the tongues of
that fire were licking human bones, and that skulls of men lay
blackening among the ashes. Yet he was not afraid to look upon the fire,
nor into the eyes of Hi-lié; but drawing from his bosom the roll of
perfumed yellow silk upon which the words of the Emperor were written,
and kissing it, he made ready to read, while the multitude became
silent. Then, in a strong, clear voice he began:--

"_The words of the Celestial and August, the Son of Heaven, the Divine
Ko-Tsu-Tchin-Yao-ti, unto the rebel Li-Hi-lié and those that follow
him._"

And a roar went up like the roar of the sea,--a roar of rage, and the
hideous battle-moan, like the moan of a forest in storm,--"_Hoo!
hoo-oo-oo-oo!_"--and the sword-lightnings brake loose, and the thunder
of the gongs moved the ground beneath the messenger's feet. But Hi-lié
waved his gilded wand, and again there was silence. "Nay!" spake the
rebel chief; "let the dog bark!" So Tchin-King spake on:--

"_Knowest thou not, O most rash and foolish of men, that thou leadest
the people only into the mouth of the Dragon of Destruction? Knowest
thou not, also, that the people of my kingdom are the first-born of the
Master of Heaven? So it hath been written that he who doth needlessly
subject the people to wounds and death shall not be suffered by Heaven
to live! Thou who wouldst subvert those laws founded by the
wise,--those laws in obedience to which may happiness and prosperity
alone be found,--thou art committing the greatest of all
crimes,--the crime that is never forgiven!_

"_O my people, think not that I your Emperor, I your Father, seek your
destruction. I desire only your happiness, your prosperity, your
greatness; let not your folly provoke the severity of your Celestial
Parent. Follow not after madness and blind rage; hearken rather to the
wise words of my messenger._"

"_Hoo! hoo-oo-oo-oo-oo!_" roared the people, gathering fury. "_Hoo!
hoo-oo-oo-oo!_"--till the mountains rolled back the cry like the rolling
of a typhoon; and once more the pealing of the gongs paralyzed voice and
hearing. Then Tchin-King, looking at Hi-lié, saw that he laughed, and
that the words of the letter would not again be listened to. Therefore
he read on to the end without looking about him, resolved to perform his
mission in so far as lay in his power. And having read all, he would
have given the letter to Hi-lié; but Hi-lié would not extend his hand to
take it. Therefore Tchin-King replaced it in his bosom, and folding his
arms, looked Hi-lié calmly in the face, and waited. Again Hi-lié waved
his gilded wand; and the roaring ceased, and the booming of the gongs,
until nothing save the fluttering of the Dragon-banner could be heard.
Then spake Hi-lié, with an evil smile,--

"Tchin-King, O son of a dog! if thou dost not now take the oath of
fealty, and bow thyself before me, and salute me with the salutation of
Emperors,--even with the _luh-kao_, the triple prostration,--into that
fire thou shalt be thrown."

But Tchin-King, turning his back upon the usurper, bowed himself a
moment in worship to Heaven and Earth; and then rising suddenly, ere any
man could lay hand upon him, he leaped into the towering flame, and
stood there, with folded arms, like a God.

Then Hi-lié leaped to his feet in amazement, and shouted to his men; and
they snatched Tchin-King from the fire, and wrung the flames from his
robes with their naked hands, and extolled him, and praised him to his
face. And even Hi-lié himself descended from his seat, and spoke fair
words to him, saying: "O Tchin-King, I see thou art indeed a brave man
and true, and worthy of all honor; be seated among us, I pray thee, and
partake of whatever it is in our power to bestow!"

But Tchin-King, looking upon him unswervingly, replied in a voice clear
as the voice of a great bell,--

"Never, O Hi-lié, shall I accept aught from thy hand, save death, so
long as thou shalt continue in the path of wrath and folly. And never
shall it be said that Tchin-King sat him down among rebels and traitors,
among murderers and robbers."

Then Hi-lié in sudden fury, smote him with his sword; and Tchin-King
fell to the earth and died, striving even in his death to bow his head
toward the South,--toward the place of the Emperor's palace,--toward the
presence of his beloved Master.

       *       *       *       *       *

Even at the same hour the Son of Heaven, alone in the inner chamber of
his palace, became aware of a Shape prostrate before his feet; and when
he spake, the Shape arose and stood before him, and he saw that it was
Tchin-King. And the Emperor would have questioned him; yet ere he could
question, the familiar voice spake, saying:

"Son of Heaven, the mission confided to me I have performed; and thy
command hath been accomplished to the extent of thy humble servant's
feeble power. But even now must I depart, that I may enter the service
of another Master."

And looking, the Emperor perceived that the Golden Tigers upon the wall
were visible through the form of Tchin-King; and a strange coldness,
like a winter wind, passed through the chamber; and the figure faded
out. Then the Emperor knew that the Master of whom his faithful servant
had spoken was none other than the Master of Heaven.

Also at the same hour the gray servant of Tchin-King's house beheld him
passing through the apartments, smiling as he was wont to smile when he
saw that all things were as he desired. "Is it well with thee, my lord?"
questioned the aged man. And a voice answered him: "It is well"; but the
presence of Tchin-King had passed away before the answer came.

       *       *       *       *       *

So the armies of the Son of Heaven strove with the rebels. But the land
was soaked with blood and blackened with fire; and the corpses of whole
populations were carried by the rivers to feed the fishes of the sea;
and still the war prevailed through many a long red year. Then came to
aid the Son of Heaven the hordes that dwell in the desolations of the
West and North,--horsemen born, a nation of wild archers, each mighty to
bend a two-hundred-pound bow until the ears should meet. And as a
whirlwind they came against rebellion, raining raven-feathered arrows in
a storm of death; and they prevailed against Hi-lié and his people. Then
those that survived destruction and defeat submitted, and promised
allegiance; and once more was the law of righteousness restored. But
Tchin-King had been dead for many summers.

And the Son of Heaven sent word to his victorious generals that they
should bring back with them the bones of his faithful servant, to be
laid with honor in a mausoleum erected by imperial decree. So the
generals of the Celestial and August sought after the nameless grave and
found it, and had the earth taken up, and made ready to remove the
coffin.

But the coffin crumbled into dust before their eyes; for the worms had
gnawed it, and the hungry earth had devoured its substance, leaving only
a phantom shell that vanished at touch of the light. And lo! as it
vanished, all beheld lying there the perfect form and features of the
good Tchin-King. Corruption had not touched him, nor had the worms
disturbed his rest, nor had the bloom of life departed from his face.
And he seemed to dream only,--comely to see as upon the morning of his
bridal, and smiling as the holy images smile, with eyelids closed, in
the twilight of the great pagodas.

Then spoke a priest, standing by the grave: "O my children, this is
indeed a Sign from the Master of Heaven; in such wise do the Powers
Celestial preserve them that are chosen to be numbered with the
Immortals. Death may not prevail over them, neither may corruption come
nigh them. Verily the blessed Tchin-King hath taken his place among the
divinities of Heaven!"

Then they bore Tchin-King back to his native place, and laid him with
highest honors in the mausoleum which the Emperor had commanded; and
there he sleeps, incorruptible forever, arrayed in his robes of state.
Upon his tomb are sculptured the emblems of his greatness and his wisdom
and his virtue, and the signs of his office, and the Four Precious
Things: and the monsters which are holy symbols mount giant guard in
stone about it; and the weird Dogs of Fo keep watch before it, as before
the temples of the gods.

[Illustration: Chinese calligraphy]



The Tradition of the Tea-Plant


     SANG A CHINESE HEART FOURTEEN HUNDRED YEARS AGO:--

        _There is Somebody of whom I am thinking.
        Far away there is Somebody of whom I am thinking.
        A hundred leagues of mountains lie between us:--
        Yet the same Moon shines upon us, and the passing Wind
             breathes upon us both._



THE TRADITION OF THE TEA-PLANT

    "Good is the continence of the eye;
    Good is the continence of the ear;
    Good is the continence of the nostrils;
    Good is the continence of the tongue;
    Good is the continence of the body;
    Good is the continence of speech;
    Good is all...."


Again the Vulture of Temptation soared to the highest heaven of his
contemplation, bringing his soul down, down, reeling and fluttering,
back to the World of Illusion. Again the memory made dizzy his thought,
like the perfume of some venomous flower. Yet he had seen the bayadere
for an instant only, when passing through Kasí upon his way to
China,--to the vast empire of souls that thirsted after the refreshment
of Buddha's law, as sun-parched fields thirst for the life-giving rain.
When she called him, and dropped her little gift into his mendicant's
bowl, he had indeed lifted his fan before his face, yet not quickly
enough; and the penally of that fault had followed him a thousand
leagues,--pursued after him even into the strange land to which he had
come to hear the words of the Universal Teacher. Accursed beauty! surely
framed by the Tempter of tempters, by Mara himself, for the perdition of
the just! Wisely had Bhagavat warned his disciples: "O ye Çramanas,
women are not to be looked upon! And if ye chance to meet women, ye must
not suffer your eyes to dwell upon them; but, maintaining holy reserve,
speak not to them at all. Then fail not to whisper unto your own
hearts, 'Lo, we are Çramanas, whose duty it is to remain uncontaminated
by the corruptions of this world, even as the Lotos, which suffereth no
vileness to cling unto its leaves, though it blossom amid the refuse of
the wayside ditch.'" Then also came to his memory, but with a new and
terrible meaning, the words of the Twentieth-and-Third of the
Admonitions:--

"Of all attachments unto objects of desire, the strongest indeed is the
attachment to form. Happily, this passion is unique; for were there any
other like unto it, then to enter the Perfect Way were impossible."

How, indeed, thus haunted by the illusion of form, was he to fulfil the
vow that he had made to pass a night and a day in perfect and unbroken
meditation? Already the night was beginning! Assuredly, for sickness of
the soul, for fever of the spirit, there was no physic save prayer. The
sunset was swiftly fading out. He strove to pray:--

"_O the Jewel in the Lotos!_

"Even as the tortoise withdraweth its extremities into its shell, let
me, O Blessed One, withdraw my senses wholly into meditation!

"_O the Jewel in the Lotos!_

"For even as rain penetrateth the broken roof of a dwelling long
uninhabited, so may passion enter the soul uninhabited by meditation.

"_O the Jewel in the Lotos!_

"Even as still water that hath deposited all its slime, so let my soul,
O Tathâgata, be made pure! Give me strong power to rise above the
world, O Master, even as the wild bird rises from its marsh to follow
the pathway of the Sun!

"_O the Jewel in the Lotos!_

"By day shineth the sun, by night shineth the moon; shineth also the
warrior in harness of war; shineth likewise in meditations the Çramana.
But the Buddha at all times, by night or by day, shineth ever the same,
illuminating the world.

"_O the Jewel in the Lotos!_

"Let me cease, O thou Perfectly Awakened, to remain as an Ape in the
World-forest, forever ascending and descending in search of the fruits
of folly. Swift as the twining of serpents, vast as the growth of lianas
in a forest, are the all-encircling growths of the Plant of Desire.

"_O the Jewel in the Lotos!_"

Vain his prayer, alas! vain also his invocation! The mystic meaning of
the holy text--the sense of the Lotos, the sense of the Jewel--had
evaporated from the words, and their monotonous utterance now served
only to lend more dangerous definition to the memory that tempted and
tortured him. _O the jewel in her ear!_ What lotos-bud more dainty than
the folded flower of flesh, with its dripping of diamond-fire! Again he
saw it, and the curve of the cheek beyond, luscious to look upon as
beautiful brown fruit. How true the Two Hundred and Eighty-Fourth verse
of the Admonitions!--"So long as a man shall not have torn from his
heart even the smallest rootlet of that liana of desire which draweth
his thought toward women, even so long shall his soul remain fettered."
And there came to his mind also the Three Hundred and Forty-Fifth verse
of the same blessed book, regarding fetters:

"In bonds of rope, wise teachers have said, there is no strength; nor in
fetters of wood, nor yet in fetters of iron. Much stronger than any of
these is the fetter of _concern for the jewelled earrings of women_."

"Omniscient Gotama!" he cried,--"all-seeing Tathâgata! How multiform the
Consolation of Thy Word! how marvellous Thy understanding of the human
heart! Was this also one of Thy temptations?--one of the myriad
illusions marshalled before Thee by Mara in that night when the earth
rocked as a chariot, and the sacred trembling passed from sun to sun,
from system to system, from universe to universe, from eternity to
eternity?"

_O the jewel in her ear!_ The vision would not go! Nay, each time it
hovered before his thought it seemed to take a warmer life, a fonder
look, a fairer form; to develop with his weakness; to gain force from
his enervation. He saw the eyes, large, limpid, soft, and black as a
deer's; the pearls in the dark hair, and the pearls in the pink mouth;
the lips curling to a kiss, a flower-kiss; and a fragrance seemed to
float to his senses, sweet, strange, soporific,--a perfume of youth, an
odor of woman. Rising to his feet, with strong resolve he pronounced
again the sacred invocation; and he recited the holy words of the
_Chapter of Impermanency_:

"Gazing upon the heavens and upon the earth ye must say, _These are not
permanent_. Gazing upon the mountains and the rivers, ye must say,
_These are not permanent_. Gazing upon the forms and upon the faces
of exterior beings, and beholding their growth and their development, ye
must say, _These are not permanent_."

And nevertheless! how sweet illusion! The illusion of the great sun; the
illusion of the shadow-casting hills; the illusion of waters, formless
and multiform; the illusion of--Nay, nay I what impious fancy! Accursed
girl! yet, yet! why should he curse her? Had she ever done aught to
merit the malediction of an ascetic? Never, never! Only her form, the
memory of her, the beautiful phantom of her, the accursed phantom of
her! What was she? An illusion creating illusions, a mockery, a dream, a
shadow, a vanity, a vexation of spirit! The fault, the sin, was in
himself, in his rebellious thought, in his untamed memory. Though
mobile as water, intangible as vapor, Thought, nevertheless, may be
tamed by the Will, may be harnessed to the chariot of Wisdom--must
be!--that happiness be found. And he recited the blessed verses of the
"Book of the Way of the Law":--

"_All forms are only temporary._" When this great truth is fully
comprehended by any one, then is he delivered from all pain. This is the
Way of Purification.

"_All forms are subject unto pain._" When this great truth is fully
comprehended by any one, then is he delivered from all pain. This is the
Way of Purification.

"_All forms are without substantial reality._" When this great truth is
fully comprehended by any one, then is he delivered from all pain. This
is the way of ...


_Her_ form, too, unsubstantial, unreal, an illusion only, though
comeliest of illusions? She had given him alms! Was the merit of the
giver illusive also,--illusive like the grace of the supple fingers that
gave? Assuredly there were mysteries in the Abhidharma impenetrable,
incomprehensible!... It was a golden coin, stamped with the symbol of an
elephant,--not more of an illusion, indeed, than the gifts of Kings to
the Buddha! Gold upon her bosom also, less fine than the gold of her
skin. Naked between the silken sash and the narrow breast-corslet, her
young waist curved glossy and pliant as a bow. Richer the silver in her
voice than in the hollow _pagals_ that made a moonlight about her
ankles! But her smile!--the little teeth like flower-stamens in the
perfumed blossom of her mouth!


O weakness! O shame! How had the strong Charioteer of Resolve thus lost
his control over the wild team of fancy! Was this languor of the Will a
signal of coming peril, the peril of slumber? So strangely vivid those
fancies were, so brightly definite, as about to take visible form, to
move with factitious life, to play some unholy drama upon the stage of
dreams! "O Thou Fully Awakened!" he cried aloud, "help now thy humble
disciple to obtain the blessed wakefulness of perfect contemplation! let
him find force to fulfil his vow! suffer not Mara to prevail against
him!" And he recited the eternal verses of the Chapter of Wakefulness:--

"_Completely and eternally awake are the disciples of Gotama!_
Unceasingly, by day and night, their thoughts are fixed upon the Law.

"_Completely and eternally awake are the disciples of Gotama!_
Unceasingly, by day and night, their thoughts are fixed upon the
Community.

"_Completely and eternally awake are the disciples of Gotama!_
Unceasingly, by day and night, their thoughts are fixed upon the Body.

"_Completely and eternally awake are the disciples of Gotama!_
Unceasingly, by day and night, their minds know the sweetness of perfect
peace.

"_Completely and eternally awake are the disciples of Gotama!_
Unceasingly, by day and night, their minds enjoy the deep peace of
meditation."


There came a murmur to his ears; a murmuring of many voices, smothering
the utterances of his own, like a tumult of waters. The stars went out
before his sight; the heavens darkened their infinities: all things
became viewless, became blackness; and the great murmur deepened, like
the murmur of a rising tide; and the earth seemed to sink from beneath
him. His feet no longer touched the ground; a sense of supernatural
buoyancy pervaded every fibre of his body: he felt himself floating in
obscurity; then sinking softly, slowly, like a feather dropped from the
pinnacle of a temple. Was this death? Nay, for all suddenly, as
transported by the Sixth Supernatural Power, he stood again in
light,--a perfumed, sleepy light, vapory, beautiful,--that bathed the
marvellous streets of some Indian city. Now the nature of the murmur
became manifest to him; for he moved with a mighty throng, a people of
pilgrims, a nation of worshippers. But these were not of his faith; they
bore upon their foreheads the smeared symbols of obscene gods! Still, he
could not escape from their midst; the mile-broad human torrent bore him
irresistibly with it, as a leaf is swept by the waters of the Ganges.
Rajahs were there with their trains, and princes riding upon elephants,
and Brahmins robed in their vestments, and swarms of voluptuous
dancing-girls, moving to chant of _kabit_ and _damâri_. But whither,
whither? Out of the city into the sun they passed, between avenues of
banyan, down colonnades of palm. But whither, whither?

Blue-distant, a mountain of carven stone appeared before them,--the
Temple, lifting to heaven its wilderness of chiselled pinnacles,
flinging to the sky the golden spray of its decoration. Higher it grew
with approach, the blue tones changed to gray, the outlines sharpened in
the light. Then each detail became visible: the elephants of the
pedestals standing upon tortoises of rock; the great grim faces of the
capitals; the serpents and monsters writhing among the friezes; the
many-headed gods of basalt in their galleries of fretted niches, tier
above tier; the pictured foulnesses, the painted lusts, the divinities
of abomination. And, yawning in the sloping precipice of sculpture,
beneath a frenzied swarming of gods and Gopia,--a beetling pyramid of
limbs and bodies interlocked,--the Gate, cavernous and shadowy as the
mouth of Siva, devoured the living multitude.

The eddy of the throng whirled him with it to the vastness of the
interior. None seemed to note his yellow robe, none even to observe his
presence. Giant aisles intercrossed their heights above him; myriads of
mighty pillars, fantastically carven, filed away to invisibility behind
the yellow illumination of torch-fires. Strange images, weirdly
sensuous, loomed up through haze of incense. Colossal figures, that at a
distance assumed the form of elephants or garuda-birds, changed aspect
when approached, and revealed as the secret of their design an
interplaiting of the bodies of women; while one divinity rode all the
monstrous allegories,--one divinity or demon, eternally the same in the
repetition of the sculptor, universally visible as though
self-multiplied. The huge pillars themselves were symbols, figures,
carnalities; the orgiastic spirit of that worship lived and writhed in
the contorted bronze of the lamps, the twisted gold of the cups, the
chiselled marble of the tanks....

How far had he proceeded? He knew not; the journey among those countless
columns, past those armies of petrified gods, down lanes of flickering
lights, seemed longer than the voyage of a caravan, longer than his
pilgrimage to China! But suddenly, inexplicably, there came a silence as
of cemeteries; the living ocean seemed to have ebbed away from about
him, to have been engulfed within abysses of subterranean architecture!
He found himself alone in some strange crypt before a basin,
shell-shaped and shallow, bearing in its centre a rounded column of less
than human height, whose smooth and spherical summit was wreathed with
flowers. Lamps similarly formed, and fed with oil of palm, hung above
it. There was no other graven image, no visible divinity. Flowers of
countless varieties lay heaped upon the pavement; they covered its
surface like a carpet, thick, soft; they exhaled their ghosts beneath
his feet. The perfume seemed to penetrate his brain,--a perfume
sensuous, intoxicating, unholy; an unconquerable languor mastered his
will, and he sank to rest upon the floral offerings.

The sound of a tread, light as a whisper, approached through the heavy
stillness, with a drowsy tinkling of _pagals_, a tintinnabulation of
anklets. All suddenly he felt glide about his neck the tepid
smoothness of a woman's arm. _She, she!_ his Illusion, his
Temptation; but how transformed, transfigured!--preternatural in her
loveliness, incomprehensible in her charm! Delicate as a jasmine-petal
the cheek that touched his own; deep as night, sweet as summer, the
eyes that watched him. "_Heart's-thief,_" her flower-lips
whispered,--"_heart's-thief, how have I sought for thee! How have I
found thee! Sweets I bring thee, my beloved; lips and bosom; fruit and
blossom. Hast thirst? Drink from the well of mine eyes! Wouldst
sacrifice? I am thine altar! Wouldst pray? I am thy God!_"

Their lips touched; her kiss seemed to change the cells of his blood to
flame. For a moment Illusion triumphed; Mara prevailed!... With a shock
of resolve the dreamer awoke in the night,--under the stars of the
Chinese sky.


Only a mockery of sleep! But the vow had been violated, the sacred
purpose unfulfilled! Humiliated, penitent, but resolved, the ascetic
drew from his girdle a keen knife, and with unfaltering hands severed
his eyelids from his eyes, and flung them from him. "O Thou Perfectly
Awakened!" he prayed, "thy disciple hath not been overcome save through
the feebleness of the body; and his vow hath been renewed. Here shall he
linger, without food or drink, until the moment of its fulfilment." And
having assumed the hieratic posture,--seated himself with his lower
limbs folded beneath him, and the palms of his hands upward, the right
upon the left, the left resting upon the sole of his upturned foot,--he
resumed his meditation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dawn blushed; day brightened. The sun shortened all the shadows of the
land, and lengthened them again, and sank at last upon his funeral pyre
of crimson-burning cloud. Night came and glittered and passed. But Mara
had tempted in vain. This time the vow had been fulfilled, the holy
purpose accomplished.

And again the sun arose to fill the World with laughter of light;
flowers opened their hearts to him; birds sang their morning hymn of
fire worship; the deep forest trembled with delight; and far upon the
plain, the eaves of many-storied temples and the peaked caps of the
city-towers caught aureate glory. Strong in the holiness of his
accomplished vow, the Indian pilgrim arose in the morning glow. He
started for amazement as he lifted his hands to his eyes. What! was
everything a dream? Impossible! Yet now his eyes felt no pain; neither
were they lidless; not even so much as one of their lashes was lacking.
What marvel had been wrought? In vain he looked for the severed lids
that he had flung upon the ground; they had mysteriously vanished. But
lo! there where he had cast them two wondrous shrubs were growing, with
dainty leaflets eyelid-shaped, and snowy buds just opening to the East.

Then, by virtue of the supernatural power acquired in that mighty
meditation, it was given the holy missionary to know the secret of that
newly created plant,--the subtle virtue of its leaves. And he named it,
in the language of the nation to whom he brought the Lotos of the Good
Law, "_TE_"; and he spake to it, saying:--

"Blessed be thou, sweet plant, beneficent, life-giving, formed by the
spirit of virtuous resolve! Lo! the fame of thee shall yet spread unto
the ends of the earth; and the perfume of thy life be borne unto the
uttermost parts by all the winds of heaven! Verily, for all time to come
men who drink of thy sap shall find such refreshment that weariness may
not overcome them nor languor seize upon them;--neither shall they know
the confusion of drowsiness, nor any desire for slumber in the hour of
duty or of prayer. Blessed be thou!"

       *       *       *       *       *

And still, as a mist of incense, as a smoke of universal sacrifice,
perpetually ascends to heaven from all the lands of earth the pleasant
vapor of TE, created for the refreshment of mankind by the power of a
holy vow, the virtue of a pious atonement.

[Illustration: Chinese calligraphy]



The Tale of the Porcelain-God


     _It is written in the _FONG-HO-CHIN-TCH'OUEN_, that whenever the
     artist Thsang-Kong was in doubt, he would look into the fire of the
     great oven in which his vases were baking, and question the
     Guardian-Spirit dwelling in the flame. And the Spirit of the
     Oven-fires so aided him with his counsels, that the porcelains made
     by Thsang-Kong were indeed finer and lovelier to look upon than all
     other porcelains. And they were baked in the years of
     Khang-hí,--sacredly called Jin Houang-tí._



THE TALE OF THE PORCELAIN-GOD


Who first of men discovered the secret of the _Kao-ling_, of the
_Pe-tun-tse_,--the bones and the flesh, the skeleton and the skin, of
the beauteous Vase? Who first discovered the virtue of the curd-white
clay? Who first prepared the ice-pure bricks of _tun_: the
gathered-hoariness of mountains that have died for age; blanched dust of
the rocky bones and the stony flesh of sun-seeking Giants that have
ceased to be? Unto whom was it first given to discover the divine art of
porcelain?

Unto Pu, once a man, now a god, before whose snowy statues bow the
myriad populations enrolled in the guilds of the potteries. But the
place of his birth we know not; perhaps the tradition of it may have
been effaced from remembrance by that awful war which in our own day
consumed the lives of twenty millions of the Black-haired Race, and
obliterated from the face of the world even the wonderful City of
Porcelain itself,--the City of King-te-chin, that of old shone like a
jewel of fire in the blue mountain-girdle of Feou-liang.

Before his time indeed the Spirit of the Furnace had being; had issued
from the Infinite Vitality; had become manifest as an emanation of the
Supreme Tao. For Hoang-ti, nearly five thousand years ago, taught men to
make good vessels of baked clay; and in his time all potters had learned
to know the God of Oven-fires, and turned their wheels to the murmuring
of prayer. But Hoang-ti had been gathered unto his fathers for thrice
ten hundred years before that man was born destined by the Master of
Heaven to become the Porcelain-God.

And his divine ghost, ever hovering above the smoking and the toiling of
the potteries, still gives power to the thought of the shaper, grace to
the genius of the designer, luminosity to the touch of the enamellist.
For by his heaven-taught wisdom was the art of porcelain created; by his
inspiration were accomplished all the miracles of Thao-yu, maker of the
_Kia-yu-ki_, and all the marvels made by those who followed after him;--

All the azure porcelains called _You-kouo-thien-tsing_; brilliant as a
mirror, thin as paper of rice, sonorous as the melodious stone _Khing_,
and colored, in obedience to the mandate of the Emperor Chi-tsong, "blue
as the sky is after rain, when viewed through the rifts of the clouds."
These were, indeed, the first of all porcelains, likewise called
_Tchai-yao_, which no man, howsoever wicked, could find courage to
break, for they charmed the eye like jewels of price;--

And the _Jou-yao_, second in rank among all porcelains, sometimes
mocking the aspect and the sonority of bronze, sometimes blue as summer
waters, and deluding the sight with mucid appearance of thickly floating
spawn of fish;--

And the _Kouan-yao_, which are the Porcelains of Magistrates, and third
in rank of merit among all wondrous porcelains, colored with colors of
the morning,--skyey blueness, with the rose of a great dawn blushing and
bursting through it, and long-limbed marsh-birds flying against the
glow;

Also the _Ko-yao_,--fourth in rank among perfect porcelains,--of fair,
faint, changing colors, like the body of a living fish, or made in the
likeness of opal substance, milk mixed with fire; the work of Sing-I,
elder of the immortal brothers Tchang;

Also the _Ting-yao_,--fifth in rank among all perfect porcelains,--white
as the mourning garments of a spouse bereaved, and beautiful with a
trickling as of tears,--the porcelains sung of by the poet Son-tong-po;

Also the porcelains called _Pi-se-yao_, whose colors are called
"hidden," being alternately invisible and visible, like the tints of
ice beneath the sun,--the porcelains celebrated by the far-famed singer
Sin-in;

Also the wondrous _Chu-yao_,--the pallid porcelains that utter a
mournful cry when smitten,--the porcelains chanted of by the mighty
chanter, Thou-chao-ling;

Also the porcelains called _Thsin-yao_, white or blue, surface-wrinkled
as the face of water by the fluttering of many fins.... And ye can see
the fish!

Also the vases called _Tsi-hong-khi_, red as sunset after a rain; and
the _T'o-t'ai-khi_, fragile as the wings of the silkworm-moth, lighter
than the shell of an egg;

Also the _Kia-tsing_,--fair cups pearl-white when empty, yet, by some
incomprehensible witchcraft of construction, seeming to swarm with
purple fish the moment they are filled with water;

Also the porcelains called _Yao-pien_, whose tints are transmuted by the
alchemy of fire; for they enter blood-crimson into the heat, and change
there to lizard-green, and at last come forth azure as the cheek of the
sky;

Also the _Ki-tcheou-yao_, which are all violet as a summer's night; and
the _Hing-yao_ that sparkle with the sparklings of mingled silver and
snow;

Also the _Sieouen-yao_,--some ruddy as iron in the furnace, some
diaphanous and ruby-red, some granulated and yellow as the rind of an
orange, some softly flushed as the skin of a peach;

Also the _Tsoui-khi-yao_, crackled and green as ancient ice is; and the
_Tchou-fou-yao_, which are the Porcelains of Emperors, with dragons
wriggling and snarling in gold; and those _yao_ that are pink-ribbed
and have their angles serrated as the claws of crabs are;

Also the _Ou-ni-yao_, black as the pupil of the eye, and as lustrous;
and the _Hou-tien-yao_, darkly yellow as the faces of men of India; and
the _Ou-kong-yao_, whose color is the dead-gold of autumn-leaves;

Also the _Long-kang-yao_, green as the seedling of a pea, but bearing
also paintings of sun-silvered cloud, and of the Dragons of Heaven;

Also the _Tching-hoa-yao_,--pictured with the amber bloom of grapes and
the verdure of vine-leaves and the blossoming of poppies, or decorated
in relief with figures of fighting crickets;

Also the _Khang-hi-nien-ts'ang-yao_, celestial azure sown with star-dust
of gold; and the _Khien-long-nien-thang-yao_, splendid in sable and
silver as a fervid night that is flashed with lightnings.

Not indeed the _Long-Ouang-yao_,--painted with the lascivious _Pi-hi_,
with the obscene _Nan-niu-ssé-sie_, with the shameful _Tchun-hoa_, or
"Pictures of Spring"; abominations created by command of the wicked
Emperor Moutsong, though the Spirit of the Furnace hid his face and fled
away;

But all other vases of startling form and substance, magically
articulated, and ornamented with figures in relief, in cameo, in
transparency,--the vases with orifices belled like the cups of flowers,
or cleft like the bills of birds, or fanged like the jaws of serpents,
or pink-lipped as the mouth of a girl; the vases flesh-colored and
purple-veined and dimpled, with ears and with earrings; the vases in
likeness of mushrooms, of lotos-flowers, of lizards, of horse-footed
dragons woman-faced; the vases strangely translucid, that simulate the
white glimmering of grains of prepared rice, that counterfeit the vapory
lace-work of frost, that imitate the efflorescences of coral;--

Also the statues in porcelain of divinities: the Genius of the Hearth;
the Long-pinn who are the Twelve Deities of Ink; the blessed Lao-tseu,
born with silver hair; Kong-fu-tse, grasping the scroll of written
wisdom; Kouan-in, sweetest Goddess of Mercy, standing snowy-footed upon
the heart of her golden lily; Chi-nong, the god who taught men how to
cook; Fo, with long eyes closed in meditation, and lips smiling the
mysterious smile of Supreme Beatitude; Cheou-lao, god of Longevity,
bestriding his aërial steed, the white-winged stork; Pou-t'ai, Lord of
Contentment and of Wealth, obese and dreamy; and that fairest Goddess of
Talent, from whose beneficent hands eternally streams the iridescent
rain of pearls.

       *       *       *       *       *

And though many a secret of that matchless art that Pu bequeathed unto
men may indeed have been forgotten and lost forever, the story of the
Porcelain-God is remembered; and I doubt not that any of the aged
_Jeou-yen-liao-kong_, any one of the old blind men of the great
potteries, who sit all day grinding colors in the sun, could tell you Pu
was once a humble Chinese workman, who grew to be a great artist by dint
of tireless study and patience and by the inspiration of Heaven. So
famed he became that some deemed him an alchemist, who possessed the
secret called _White-and-Yellow_, by which stones might be turned into
gold; and others thought him a magician, having the ghastly power of
murdering men with horror of nightmare, by hiding charmed effigies of
them under the tiles of their own roofs; and others, again, averred that
he was an astrologer who had discovered the mystery of those Five Hing
which influence all things,--those Powers that move even in the currents
of the star-drift, in the milky _Tien-ho_, or River of the Sky. Thus, at
least, the ignorant spoke of him; but even those who stood about the Son
of Heaven, those whose hearts had been strengthened by the acquisition
of wisdom, wildly praised the marvels of his handicraft, and asked each
other if there might be any imaginable form of beauty which Pu could not
evoke from that beauteous substance so docile to the touch of his
cunning hand.

And one day it came to pass that Pu sent a priceless gift to the
Celestial and August: a vase imitating the substance of ore-rock, all
aflame with pyritic scintillation,--a shape of glittering splendor with
chameleons sprawling over it; chameleons of porcelain that shifted color
as often as the beholder changed his position. And the Emperor,
wondering exceedingly at the splendor of the work, questioned the
princes and the mandarins concerning him that made it. And the princes
and the mandarins answered that he was a workman named Pu, and that he
was without equal among potters, knowing secrets that seemed to have
been inspired either by gods or by demons. Whereupon the Son of Heaven
sent his officers to Pu with a noble gift, and summoned him unto his
presence.

So the humble artisan entered before the Emperor, and having performed
the supreme prostration,--thrice kneeling, and thrice nine times
touching the ground with his forehead,--awaited the command of the
August.

And the Emperor spake to him, saying: "Son, thy gracious gift hath found
high favor in our sight; and for the charm of that offering we have
bestowed upon thee a reward of five thousand silver _liang_. But thrice
that sum shall be awarded thee so soon as thou shalt have fulfilled our
behest. Hearken, therefore, O matchless artificer! it is now our will
that thou make for us a vase having the tint and the aspect of living
flesh, but--mark well our desire!--_of flesh made to creep by the
utterance of such words as poets utter,--flesh moved by an Idea, flesh
horripilated by a Thought!_ Obey, and answer not! We have spoken."

       *       *       *       *       *

Now Pu was the most cunning of all the _P'ei-se-kong_,--the men who
marry colors together; of all the _Hoa-yang-kong_, who draw the shapes
of vase-decoration; of all the _Hoei-sse-kong_, who paint in enamel; of
all the _T'ien-thsai-kong_, who brighten color; of all the
_Chao-lou-kong_, who watch the furnace-fires and the porcelain-ovens.
But he went away sorrowing from the Palace of the Son of Heaven,
notwithstanding the gift of five thousand silver _liang_ which had been
given to him. For he thought to himself: "Surely the mystery of the
comeliness of flesh, and the mystery of that by which it is moved, are
the secrets of the Supreme Tao. How shall man lend the aspect of
sentient life to dead clay? Who save the Infinite can give soul?"

Now Pu had discovered those witchcrafts of color, those surprises of
grace, that make the art of the ceramist. He had found the secret of the
_feng-hong_, the wizard flush of the Rose; of the _hoa-hong_, the
delicious incarnadine; of the mountain-green called _chan-lou_; of the
pale soft yellow termed _hiao-hoang-yeou_; and of the _hoang-kin_, which
is the blazing beauty of gold. He had found those eel-tints, those
serpent-greens, those pansy-violets, those furnace-crimsons, those
carminates and lilacs, subtle as spirit-flame, which our enamellists of
the Occident long sought without success to reproduce. But he trembled
at the task assigned him, as he returned to the toil of his studio,
saying: "How shall any miserable man render in clay the quivering of
flesh to an Idea,--the inexplicable horripilation of a Thought? Shall a
man venture to mock the magic of that Eternal Moulder by whose infinite
power a million suns are shapen more readily than one small jar might be
rounded upon my wheel?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Yet the command of the Celestial and August might never be disobeyed;
and the patient workman strove with all his power to fulfil the Son of
Heaven's desire. But vainly for days, for weeks, for months, for season
after season, did he strive; vainly also he prayed unto the gods to aid
him; vainly he besought the Spirit of the Furnace, crying: "O thou
Spirit of Fire, hear me, heed me, help me! how shall I,--a miserable
man, unable to breathe into clay a living soul,--how shall I render in
this inanimate substance the aspect of flesh made to creep by the
utterance of a Word, sentient to the horripilation of a Thought?"

For the Spirit of the Furnace made strange answer to him with whispering
of fire: "_Vast thy faith, weird thy prayer! Has Thought feet, that man
may perceive the trace of its passing? Canst thou measure me the blast
of the Wind?_"

       *       *       *       *       *

Nevertheless, with purpose unmoved, nine-and-forty times did Pu seek to
fulfil the Emperor's command; nine-and-forty times he strove to obey the
behest of the Son of Heaven. Vainly, alas! did he consume his substance;
vainly did he expend his strength; vainly did he exhaust his knowledge:
success smiled not upon him; and Evil visited his home, and Poverty sat
in his dwelling, and Misery shivered at his hearth.

Sometimes, when the hour of trial came, it was found that the colors had
become strangely transmuted in the firing, or had faded into ashen
pallor, or had darkened into the fuliginous hue of forest-mould. And Pu,
beholding these misfortunes, made wail to the Spirit of the Furnace,
praying: "O thou Spirit of Fire, how shall I render the likeness of
lustrous flesh, the warm glow of living color, unless thou aid me?"

And the Spirit of the Furnace mysteriously answered him with murmuring
of fire: "_Canst thou learn the art of that Infinite Enameller who hath
made beautiful the Arch of Heaven,--whose brush is Light; whose paints
are the Colors of the Evening?_"

Sometimes, again, even when the tints had not changed, after the pricked
and labored surface had seemed about to quicken in the heat, to assume
the vibratility of living skin,--even at the last hour all the labor of
the workers proved to have been wasted; for the fickle substance
rebelled against their efforts, producing only crinklings grotesque as
those upon the rind of a withered fruit, or granulations like those
upon the skin of a dead bird from which the feathers have been rudely
plucked. And Pu wept, and cried out unto the Spirit of the Furnace: "O
thou Spirit of Flame, how shall I be able to imitate the thrill of flesh
touched by a Thought, unless thou wilt vouchsafe to lend me thine aid?"

And the Spirit of the Furnace mysteriously answered him with muttering
of fire: "_Canst thou give ghost unto a stone? Canst thou thrill with a
Thought the entrails of the granite hills?_"

Sometimes it was found that all the work indeed had not failed; for the
color seemed good, and all faultless the matter of the vase appeared to
be, having neither crack nor wrinkling nor crinkling; but the pliant
softness of warm skin did not meet the eye; the flesh-tinted surface
offered only the harsh aspect and hard glimmer of metal. All their
exquisite toil to mock the pulpiness of sentient substance had left no
trace; had been brought to nought by the breath of the furnace. And Pu,
in his despair, shrieked to the Spirit of the Furnace: "O thou merciless
divinity! O thou most pitiless god!--thou whom I have worshipped with
ten thousand sacrifices!--for what fault hast thou abandoned me? for
what error hast thou forsaken me? How may I, most wretched of men! ever
render the aspect of flesh made to creep with the utterance of a Word,
sentient to the titillation of a Thought, if thou wilt not aid me?"

And the Spirit of the Furnace made answer unto him with roaring of
fire: "_Canst thou divide a Soul? Nay!... Thy life for the life of thy
work!--thy soul for the soul of thy Vase!_"

And hearing these words Pu arose with a terrible resolve swelling at his
heart, and made ready for the last and fiftieth time to fashion his work
for the oven.

One hundred times did he sift the clay and the quartz, the _kao-ling_
and the _tun_; one hundred times did he purify them in clearest water;
one hundred times with tireless hands did he knead the creamy paste,
mingling it at last with colors known only to himself. Then was the vase
shapen and reshapen, and touched and retouched by the hands of Pu, until
its blandness seemed to live, until it appeared to quiver and to
palpitate, as with vitality from within, as with the quiver of rounded
muscle undulating beneath the integument. For the hues of life were upon
it and infiltrated throughout its innermost substance, imitating the
carnation of blood-bright tissue, and the reticulated purple of the
veins; and over all was laid the envelope of sun-colored _Pe-kia-ho_,
the lucid and glossy enamel, half diaphanous, even like the substance
that it counterfeited,--the polished skin of a woman. Never since the
making of the world had any work comparable to this been wrought by the
skill of man.

Then Pu bade those who aided him that they should feed the furnace well
with wood of _tcha_; but he told his resolve unto none. Yet after the
oven began to glow, and he saw the work of his hands blossoming and
blushing in the heat, he bowed himself before the Spirit of Flame, and
murmured: "O thou Spirit and Master of Fire, I know the truth of thy
words! I know that a Soul may never be divided! Therefore my life for
the life of my work!--my soul for the soul of my Vase!"


And for nine days and for eight nights the furnaces were fed unceasingly
with wood of _tcha_; for nine days and for eight nights men watched the
wondrous vase crystallizing into being, rose-lighted by the breath of
the flame. Now upon the coming of the ninth night, Pu bade all his weary
comrades retire to, rest, for that the work was well-nigh done, and the
success assured. "If you find me not here at sunrise," he said, "fear
not to take forth the vase; for I know that the task will have been
accomplished according to the command of the August." So they departed.

But in that same ninth night Pu entered the flame, and yielded up his
ghost in the embrace of the Spirit of the Furnace, giving his life for
the life of his work,--his soul for the soul of his Vase.

And when the workmen came upon the tenth morning to take forth the
porcelain marvel, even the bones of Pu had ceased to be; but lo! the
Vase lived as they looked upon it: seeming to be flesh moved by the
utterance of a Word, creeping to the titillation of a Thought. And
whenever tapped by the finger it uttered a voice and a name,--the voice
of its maker, the name of its creator: PU.

       *       *       *       *       *

And the son of Heaven, hearing of these things, and viewing the miracle
of the vase, said unto those about him: "Verily, the Impossible hath
been wrought by the strength of faith, by the force of obedience! Yet
never was it our desire that so cruel a sacrifice should have been; we
sought only to know whether the skill of the matchless artificer came
from the Divinities or from the Demons,--from heaven or from hell. Now,
indeed, we discern that Pu hath taken his place among the gods." And the
Emperor mourned exceedingly for his faithful servant. But he ordained
that godlike honors should be paid unto the spirit of the marvellous
artist, and that his memory should be revered forevermore, and that
fair statues of him should be set up in all the cities of the Celestial
Empire, and above all the toiling of the potteries, that the multitude
of workers might unceasingly call upon his name and invoke his
benediction upon their labors.

[Illustration: Chinese calligraphy]



NOTES


"_The Soul of the Great Bell._"--The story of Ko-Ngai is one of the
collection entitled _Pe-Hiao-Tou-Choue_, or "A Hundred Examples of
Filial Piety." It is very simply told by the Chinese narrator. The
scholarly French consul, P. Dabry de Thiersant, translated and published
in 1877 a portion of the book, including the legend of the Bell. His
translation is enriched with a number of Chinese drawings; and there is
a quaint little picture of Ko-Ngai leaping into the molten metal.

"_The Story of Ming-Y._"--The singular phantom-tale upon which my work
is based forms the thirty-fourth story of the famous collection
_Kin-Kou-Ki-Koan_, and was first translated under the title, "La
Bachelière du Pays de Chu," by the learned Gustave Schlegel, as an
introduction to his publication (accompanied by a French version) of
the curious and obscene _Mai-yu-lang-toú-tchen-hoa-koueï_ (Leyden,
1877), which itself forms the seventh recital of the same work.
Schlegel, Julien, Gardner, Birch, D'Entrecolles, Rémusat, Pavie,
Olyphant, Grisebach, Hervey-Saint-Denys, and others, have given the
Occidental world translations of eighteen stories from the
_Kin-Kou-Ki-Koan_; namely, Nos. 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 14, 19, 20, 26,
27, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35, and 39. The Chinese work itself dates back to
the thirteenth century; but as it forms only a collection of the most
popular tales of that epoch, many of the stories selected by the Chinese
editor may have had a much more ancient origin. There are forty tales in
the _Kin-Kou-Ki-Koan_.

"_The Legend of Tchi-Niu._"--My authority for this tale is the following
legend from the thirty-fourth chapter of the _Kan-ing-p'ien_, or "Book
of Rewards and Punishments,"--a work attributed to Lao-tseu, which
contains some four hundred anecdotes and traditions of the most curious
kind:--

     Tong-yong, who lived under the Han dynasty, was reduced to a state
     of extreme poverty. Having lost his father, he sold himself in
     order to obtain ... the wherewithal to bury him and to build him a
     tomb. The Master of Heaven took pity on him, and sent the Goddess
     Tchi-Niu to him to become his wife. She wove a piece of silk for
     him every day until she was able to buy his freedom, after which
     she gave him a son, and went back to heaven.--_Julien's French
     Translation_, p. 119.

Lest the reader should suppose, however, that I have drawn wholly upon
my own imagination for the details of the apparition, the cure, the
marriage ceremony, etc., I refer him to No. XCVI. of Giles's "Strange
Stories from a Chinese Studio," entitled, "A Supernatural Wife," in
which he will find that my narrative is at least conformable to Chinese
ideas. (This story first appeared in "Harper's Bazaar," and is
republished here by permission.)

"_The Return of Yen-Tchin-King._"--There may be an involuntary
anachronism in my version of this legend, which is very pithily
narrated in the _Kan-ing-p'ien_. No emperor's name is cited by the
homilist; and the date of the revolt seems to have been left wholly to
conjecture.--Baber, in his "Memoirs," mentions one of his Mongol archers
as able to bend a two-hundred-pound bow until the ears met.

"_The Tradition of the Tea-Plant._"--My authority for this bit of
folklore is the brief statement published by Bretschneider in the
"Chinese Recorder" for 1871:--

     "A Japanese legend says that about A.D. 519, a Buddhist priest came
     to China, and, in order to dedicate his soul entirely to God, he
     made a vow to pass the day and night in an uninterrupted and
     unbroken meditation. After many years of this continual watching,
     he was at length so tired that he fell asleep. On awaking the
     following morning, he was so sorry he had broken his vow that he
     cut off both his eyelids and threw them upon the ground. Returning
     to the same place the following day he observed that each eyelid
     had become a shrub. This was the _tea-shrub_, unknown until that
     time."

Bretschneider adds that the legend in question seems not to be known to
the Chinese; yet in view of the fact that Buddhism itself, with all its
marvellous legends, was received by the Japanese from China, it is
certainly probable this legend had a Chinese origin,--subsequently
disguised by Japanese chronology. My Buddhist texts were drawn from
Fernand Hû's translation of the Dhammapada, and from Leon Feer's
translation from the Thibetan of the "Sutra in Forty-two Articles." An
Orientalist who should condescend in a rare leisure-moment to glance at
my work might also discover that I had borrowed an idea or two from the
Sanscrit poet, Bhâminî-Vilâsa.

"_The Tale of the Porcelain-God._"--The good Père D'Entrecolles, who
first gave to Europe the secrets of Chinese porcelain-manufacture, wrote
one hundred and sixty years ago:--

     "The Emperors of China are, during their lifetime, the most
     redoubted of divinities; and they believe that nothing should ever
     stand in the way of their desires....

     "It is related that once upon a time a certain Emperor insisted
     that some porcelains should be made for him according to a model
     which he gave. It was answered that the thing was simply
     impossible; but all such remonstrances only served to excite his
     desire more and more.... The officers charged by the demigod to
     supervise and hasten the work treated the workmen with great
     harshness. The poor wretches spent all their money, took exceeding
     pains, and received only blows in return. One of them, in a fit of
     despair, leaped into the blazing furnace, and was instantly burnt
     to ashes. But the porcelain that was being baked there at the time
     came out, they say, perfectly beautiful and to the satisfaction of
     the Emperor.... From that time, the unfortunate workman was
     regarded as a hero; and his image was made the idol which presides
     over the manufacture of porcelain."

It appears that D'Entrecolles mistook the statue of Pou't'ai, God of
Comfort, for that of the real porcelain-deity, as Jacquemart and others
observe. This error does not, however, destroy the beauty of the myth;
and there is no good reason to doubt that D'Entrecolles related it as it
had been told him by some of his Chinese friends at King-te-chin. The
researches of Stanislas Julien and others have only tended to confirm
the trustworthiness of the Catholic missionary's statements in other
respects; and both Julien and Salvétat, in their admirable French
rendering of the _King-te-chin-thao-lou_, "History of the Porcelains of
King-te-chin" (a work which has been of the greatest service to me in
the preparation of my little story), quote from his letters at
considerable length, and award him the highest praise as a conscientious
investigator. So far as I have been able to learn, D'Entrecolles remains
the sole authority for the myth; but his affirmations in regard to other
matters have withstood the severe tests of time astonishingly well; and
since the Tai-ping rebellion destroyed King-te-chin and paralyzed its
noble industry, the value of the French missionary's documents and
testimony has become widely recognized. In lieu of any other name for
the hero of the legend, I have been obliged to retain that of Pou, or
Pu,--only using it without the affix "t'ai,"--so as to distinguish it
from the deity of comfort and repose.

[Illustration: Decorative motif]



Glossary

[Illustration: Chinese calligraphy]



GLOSSARY


ABHIDHARMA.--The metaphysics of Buddhism. Buddhist literature
is classed into three great divisions, or "baskets"; the highest of
these is the Abhidharma.... According to a passage in Spence Hardy's
"Manual of Buddhism," the full comprehension of the Abhidharma is
possible only for a Buddha to acquire.

CHIH.--"House"; but especially the house of the dead,--a tomb.

CHU-SHA-KIH.--The mandarin-orange.

ÇRAMANA.--An ascetic; one who has subdued his senses. For an
interesting history of this term, see Burnouf,--"Introduction à
l'histoire du Buddhisme Indien."

DAMÂRI.--A peculiar chant, of somewhat licentious character,
most commonly sung during the period of the Indian carnival. For an
account, at once brief and entertaining, of Hindoo popular songs and
hymns, see Garcin de Tassy,--"Chants populaires de l'Inde."

DOGS OF FO.--The _Dog of Fo_ is one of those fabulous monsters
in the sculptural representation of which Chinese art has found its most
grotesque expression. It is really an exaggerated lion; and the
symbolical relation of the lion to Buddhism is well known. Statues of
these mythical animals--sometimes of a grandiose and colossal
execution--are placed in pairs before the entrances of temples, palaces,
and tombs, as tokens of honor, and as emblems of divine protection.

FO.--Buddha is called _Fo_, _Fuh_, _Fuh-tu_, _Hwut_, _Fat_, in
various Chinese dialects. The name is thought to be a corruption of the
Hindoo _Bodh_, or "Truth," due to the imperfect articulation of the
Chinese.... It is a curious fact that the Chinese Buddhist liturgy is
Sanscrit transliterated into Chinese characters, and that the priests
have lost all recollection of the antique tongue,--repeating the texts
without the least comprehension of their meaning.

FUH-YIN.--An official holding in Chinese cities a position
corresponding to that of mayor in the Occident.

FUNG-HOANG.--This allegorical bird, corresponding to the
Arabian phoenix in some respects, is described as being five cubits
high, having feathers of five different colors, and singing in five
modulations.... The female is said to sing in imperfect tones; the male
in perfect tones. The _fung-hoang_ figures largely in Chinese musical
myths and legends.

GOPIA (or GOPIS).--Daughters and wives of the cowherds
of Vrindavana, among whom Krishna was brought up after his incarnation
as the eighth avatar of Vishnu. Krishna's amours with the shepherdesses,
or Gopia, form the subject of various celebrated mystical writings,
especially the _Prem-Ságar_, or "Ocean of Love" (translated by Eastwick
and by others); and the sensuous _Gita-Govinda_ of the Bengalese lyric
poet Jayadeva (translated into French prose by Hippolyte Fauche, and
chastely rendered into English verse by Edwin Arnold in the "Indian Song
of Songs"). See also Burnouf's partial translation of the _Bhagavata
Parana_, and Théodore Pavie's "Krichna et sa doctrine." ... The same
theme has inspired some of the strangest productions of Hindoo art: for
examples, see plates 65 and 66 of Moor's "Hindoo Pantheon" (edition of
1861). For accounts of the erotic mysticism connected with the worship
of Krishna and the Gopia, the reader may also be referred to authorities
cited in Barth's "Religions of India"; De Tassy's "Chants populaires de
l'Inde"; and Lamairesse's "Poésies populaires du Sud de l'Inde."

HAO-KHIEOU-TCHOUAN.--This celebrated Chinese novel was
translated into French by M. Guillard d'Arcy in 1842, and appeared
under the title, "Hao-Khieou-Tchouan; ou, La Femme Accomplie." The first
translation of the romance into any European tongue was a Portuguese
rendering; and the English version of Percy is based upon the Portuguese
text. The work is rich in poetical quotations.

HEÏ-SONG-CHÉ-TCHOO.--"One day when the Emperor Hiuan-tsong of
the Thang dynasty," says the _Tao-kia-ping-yu-che_, "was at work in his
study, a tiny Taoist priest, no bigger than a fly, rose out of the
inkstand lying upon his table, and said to him: 'I am the Genius of ink;
my name is Heï-song-ché-tchoo [_Envoy of the Black Fir_]; and I have
come to tell you that whenever a true sage shall sit down to write, the
Twelve Divinities of Ink [_Long-pinn_] will appear upon the surface of
the ink he uses.'" See "L'Encre de Chine," by Maurice Jametel. Paris.
1882.

HOA-TCHAO.--The "Birthday of a Hundred Flowers" falls upon the
fifteenth of the second spring-moon.

JADE.--Jade, or nephrite, a variety of jasper,--called by the
Chinese _yuh_,--has always been highly valued by them as artistic
material.... In the "Book of Rewards and Punishments," there is a
curious legend to the effect that Confucius, after the completion of his
_Hiao-King_ ("Book of Filial Piety"), having addressed himself to
Heaven, a crimson rainbow fell from the sky, and changed itself at his
feet into a piece of yellow jade. See Stanislas Julien's translation, p.
495.

KABIT.--A poetical form much in favor with composers of Hindoo
religious chants: the _kabit_ always consists of four verses.

KAO-LING.--Literally, "the High Ridge," and originally the name
of a hilly range which furnished the best quality of clay to the
porcelain-makers. Subsequently the term applied by long custom to
designate the material itself became corrupted into the word now
familiar in all countries,--kaolin. In the language of the Chinese
potters, the _kaolin_, or clay, was poetically termed the "bones," and
the _tun_, or quartz, the "flesh" of the porcelain; while the prepared
bricks of the combined substances were known as _pe-tun-tse_. Both
substances, the infusible and the fusible, are productions of the same
geological formation,--decomposed feldspathic rock.

KASÍ (_or_ VARANASI).--Ancient name of Benares, the "Sacred City,"
believed to have been founded by the gods. It is also called "The
Lotos of the World." Barth terms it "the Jerusalem of all the sects
both of ancient and modern India." It still boasts two thousand
shrines, and half a million images of divinities. See also Sherring's
"Sacred City of the Hindoos."

KIANG-KOU-JIN.--Literally, the "tell-old-story-men." For a brief account
of Chinese professional story-tellers, the reader may consult Schlegel's
entertaining introduction to the _Mai-yu-lang-toú-tchen-hoa-koueï_.

KIN.--The most perfect of Chinese musical instruments, also
called "the Scholar's Lute." The word _kin_ also means "to prohibit";
and this name is said to have been given to the instrument because
music, according to Chinese belief, "_restrains evil passions, and
corrects the human heart_." See Williams's "Middle Kingdom."

KOUEI.--Kouei, musician to the Emperor Yao, must have held his
office between 2357 and 2277 B.C. The extract selected from one of his
songs, which I have given at the beginning of the "Story of Ming-Y," is
therefore more than four thousand years old. The same chant contains
another remarkable fancy, evidencing Chinese faith in musical magic:--

    "When I smite my [_musical_] stone,--
    Be it gently, be it strongly,--
    Then do the fiercest beasts of prey leap high for joy.
    And the chiefs among the public officials do agree among themselves."

KWANG-CHAU-FU.--Literally, "The Broad City,"--the name of
Canton. It is also called "The City of Genii."

LÍ.--A measure of distance. The length of the _li_ has varied
considerably in ancient and in modern times. The present is given by
Williams as ten _li_ to a league.

LI-SAO.--"The Dissipation of Grief," one of the most celebrated
Chinese poems of the classic period. It is said to have been written
about 314 B.C., by Kiu-ping-youen, minister to the King of Tsou. Finding
himself the victim of a base court-intrigue, Kiu-ping wrote the _Li-Sao_
as a vindication of his character, and as a rebuke to the malice of his
enemies, after which he committed suicide by drowning.... A fine French
translation of the _Li-Sao_ has been made by the Marquis Hervey de
Saint-Denys (Paris, 1870).

LI-SHU.--The second of the six styles of Chinese writing, for
an account of which see Williams's "Middle Kingdom." ... According to
various Taoist legends, the decrees of Heaven are recorded in the
"Seal-character," the oldest of all; and marks upon the bodies of
persons killed by lightning have been interpreted as judgments written
in it. The following extraordinary tale from the _Kan-ing-p'ien_ affords
a good example of the superstition in question:--

     Tchang-tchun was Minister of State under the reign of Hoeï-tsong,
     of the Song dynasty. He occupied himself wholly in weaving
     perfidious plots. He died in exile at Mo-tcheou. Sometime after,
     while the Emperor was hunting, there fell a heavy rain, which
     obliged him to seek shelter in a poor man's hut. The thunder rolled
     with violence; and the lightning killed a man, a woman, and a
     little boy. On the backs of the man and woman were found red
     characters, which could not be deciphered; but on the back of the
     little boy the following six words could be read, written in
     Tchouen (_antique_) characters:
     TSÉ-TCH'IN-TCHANG-TCHUN-HEOU-CHIN,--which mean: "Child of the issue
     of Tchang-tchun, who was a rebellious subject."--_Le Livre des
     Récompenses et des Peines, traduit par Stanislas Julien_, p. 446.

PAGAL.--The ankle-ring commonly worn by Hindoo women; it is
also called _nupur_. It is hollow, and contains loose bits of metal,
which tinkle when the foot is moved.

SAN-HIEN.--A three-stringed Chinese guitar. Its belly is
usually covered with snake-skin.

SIU-FAN-TI.--Literally, "the Sweeping of the Tombs,"--the day
of the general worship of ancestors; the Chinese "All-Souls'." It falls
in the early part of April, the period called _tsing-ming_.

TA-CHUNG SZ'.--Literally, "Temple of the Bell." The building at
Pekin so named covers probably the largest suspended bell in the world,
cast in the reign of Yong-lo, about 1406 A.D., and weighing upwards of
120,000 pounds.

TAO.--The infinite being, or Universal Life, whence all forms
proceed: Literally, "the Way," in the sense of the First Cause.
Lao-tseu uses the term in other ways; but that primal and most important
philosophical sense which he gave to it is well explained in the
celebrated Chapter XXV. of the _Tao-te-king_.... The difference between
the great Chinese thinker's conception of the First Cause--the
Unknowable,--and the theories of other famous metaphysicians, Oriental
and Occidental, is set forth with some definiteness in Stanislas
Julien's introduction to the _Tao-te-king_, pp. x-xv. ("Le Livre de la
Voie et de la Vertu." Paris, 1842.)

THANG.--The Dynasty of Thang, which flourished between 620 and
907 A.D., encouraged literature and art, and gave to China its most
brilliant period. The three poets of the Thang dynasty mentioned in the
second story flourished between 779 and 852 A.D.

"THREE COUNCILLORS."--Six stars of the Great-Bear constellation
([Greek: ik--lm--nx]), as apparently arranged in pairs, are thus called
by the Chinese astrologers and mythologists. The three couples are
further distinguished as the Superior Councillor, Middle Councillor, and
Inferior Councillor; and, together with the Genius of the Northern
Heaven, form a celestial tribunal, presiding over the duration of human
life, and deciding the course of mortal destiny. (Note by Stanislas
Julien in "Le Livre des Récompenses et des Peines.")

TIEN-HIA.--Literally, "Under-Heaven," or "Beneath-the-Sky,"--one
of the most ancient of those many names given by the Chinese to China.
The name "China" itself is never applied by the Black-haired Race to
their own country, and is supposed to have had its origin in the fame of
the first _Tsin_ dynasty, whose founder, Tsin Chí-Houang-tí, built the
Great, or "Myriad-Mile," Wall, twenty-two and a half degrees of latitude
in length ... See Williams regarding occurrence of the name "China" in
Sanscrit literature.

TSIEN.--The well-known Chinese copper coin, with a square hole
in the middle for stringing, is thus named. According to quality of
metal it takes from 900 to 1,800 _tsien_ to make one silver dollar.

TSING-JIN.--"Men of Tsing." From very ancient times the Chinese
have been wont to call themselves by the names of their famous
dynasties,--_Han-jin_, "the men of Han"; _Thang-jin_, "the men of
Thang," etc. _Ta Tsing Kwoh_ ("Great Pure Kingdom") is the name given by
the present dynasty to China,--according to which the people might call
themselves _Tsing-jin_, or "men of Tsing." Williams, however, remarks
that they will not yet accept the appellation.

VERSES (CHINESE).--The verses preceding "The Legend of
Tchi-Niu" afford some remarkable examples of Chinese onomatopoeia.
They occur in the sixth strophe of _Miên-miên_, which is the third chant
of the first section of _Ta-ya_, the Third Book of the _Chi-King_.(See
G. Pauthier's French version.) Dr. Legge translates the strophe thus:--

     ... Crowds brought the earth in baskets; they threw it with shouts
     into the frames; they beat it with responsive blows; they pared the
     walls repeatedly till they sounded strong.--_Sacred Books of the
     East_; Vol. III., _The She-King_, p. 384.

Pauthier translates the verses somewhat differently; preserving the
onomatopoeia in three of the lines. _Hoûng-hoûng_ are the sounds heard
in the timber-yards where the wood is being measured; from the workshops
of the builders respond the sounds of _tông-tông_; and the solid walls,
when fully finished off, give out the sound of _pîng-pîng_.

YAO.--"Porcelain." The reader who desires detailed information
respecting the technology, history, or legends of Chinese
porcelain-manufacture should consult Stanislas Julien's admirable
"Histoire de la Porcelaine Chinoise" (Paris, 1856). With some trifling
exceptions, the names of the various porcelains cited in my "Tale of
the Porcelain-God" were selected from Julien's work. Though oddly
musical and otherwise attractive in Chinese, these names lose interest
by translation. The majority of them merely refer to centres of
manufacture or famous potteries: _Chou-yao_, "porcelains of Chou";
_Hong-tcheou-yao_, "porcelains of Hong-tcheou"; _Jou-yao_, "porcelains
of Jou-tcheou"; _Ting-yao_, "porcelains of Ting-tcheou"; _Ko-yao_,"
porcelains of the Elder Brother [Thsang]"; _Khang-hi-nien-t'sang-yao_,
"porcelains of Thsang made in the reign of Khang-hi." Some porcelains
were distinguished by the names of dynasties, or the titles of civic
office holders; such as the celebrated _Tch'aï-yao_, "the porcelains of
Tch'aï" (which was the name of the family of the Emperor Chi-tsong); and
the _Kouan-yao_, or "Porcelains of Magistrates." Much more rarely the
names refer directly to the material or artistic peculiarity of
porcelains,--as _Ou-ni-yao_, the "black-paste porcelains," or
_Pi-se-yao_, the "porcelains of hidden color." The word _khi_, sometimes
substituted for _yao_ in these compound names, means "vases"; as
_Jou-khi_, "vases of Jou-tcheou"; _Kouan-khi_, "vases for Magistrates."

[Illustration: Chinese calligraphy]





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