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Title: Korean Folk Tales - Imps, Ghosts and Faries
Author: Ryuk, Yi, Bang, Im
Language: English
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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.

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                           KOREAN FOLK TALES
                        IMPS, GHOSTS AND FAIRIES


                       TRANSLATED FROM THE KOREAN
                         OF IM BANG AND YI RYUK
                            BY JAMES S. GALE



                    London: J. M. DENT & SONS, Ltd.
                   New York: E. P. DUTTON & CO. 1913



                                   TO
                             MY LITTLE SON
                          GEORGE JAMES MORLEY
                        THE DAYS OF WHOSE YEARS
                                  ARE
                    TWO EASTERN SPRINGS AND AUTUMNS



PREFACE


To any one who would like to look somewhat into the inner soul of the
Oriental, and see the peculiar spiritual existences among which he
lives, the following stories will serve as true interpreters, born
as they are of the three great religions of the Far East, Taoism,
Buddhism and Confucianism.

An old manuscript copy of Im Bang's stories came into the hands of the
translator a year ago, and he gives them now to the Western world that
they may serve as introductory essays to the mysteries, and, what many
call, absurdities of Asia. Very gruesome indeed, and unlovely, some
of them are, but they picture faithfully the conditions under which
Im Bang himself, and many past generations of Koreans, have lived.

The thirteen short stories by Yi Ryuk are taken from a reprint of old
Korean writings issued last year (1911), by a Japanese publishing
company. Three anonymous stories are also added, "The Geomancer,"
to show how Mother Earth has given anxiety to her chicks of children;
"Im, the Hunter," to tell of the actualities that exist in the upper
air; and "The Man who lost his Legs," as a sample of Korea's Sinbad.

The biographical notes that accompany the stories are taken very
largely from the Kuk-cho In-mul-chi, "Korea's Record of Famous Men."


J. S. Gale.



CONTENTS


                                                        PAGE

    I       CHARAN                                         1
    II      THE STORY OF CHANG TO-RYONG                   18
    III     A STORY OF THE FOX                            26
    IV      CHEUNG PUK-CHANG, THE SEER                    29
    V       YUN SE-PYONG, THE WIZARD                      36
    VI      THE WILD-CAT WOMAN                            41
    VII     THE ILL-FATED PRIEST                          44
    VIII    THE VISION OF THE HOLY MAN                    47
    IX      THE VISIT OF THE MAN OF GOD                   52
    X       THE LITERARY MAN OF IMSIL                     54
    XI      THE SOLDIER OF KANG-WHA                       58
    XII     CURSED BY THE SNAKE                           60
    XIII    THE MAN ON THE ROAD                           63
    XIV     THE OLD MAN WHO BECAME A FISH                 66
    XV      THE GEOMANCER                                 69
    XVI     THE MAN WHO BECAME A PIG                      73
    XVII    THE OLD WOMAN WHO BECAME A GOBLIN             78
    XVIII   THE GRATEFUL GHOST                            80
    XIX     THE PLUCKY MAIDEN                             83
    XX      THE RESOURCEFUL WIFE                          90
    XXI     THE BOXED-UP GOVERNOR                         92
    XXII    THE MAN WHO LOST HIS LEGS                    100
    XXIII   TEN THOUSAND DEVILS                          104
    XXIV    THE HOME OF THE FAIRIES                      111
    XXV     THE HONEST WITCH                             125
    XXVI    WHOM THE KING HONORS                         130
    XXVII   THE FORTUNES OF YOO                          133
    XXVIII  AN ENCOUNTER WITH A HOBGOBLIN                141
    XXIX    THE SNAKE'S REVENGE                          146
    XXX     THE BRAVE MAGISTRATE                         150
    XXXI    THE TEMPLE TO THE GOD OF WAR                 153
    XXXII   A VISIT FROM THE SHADES                      157
    XXXIII  THE FEARLESS CAPTAIN                         162
    XXXIV   THE KING OF YOM-NA (HELL)                    165
    XXXV    HONG'S EXPERIENCES IN HADES                  171
    XXXVI   HAUNTED HOUSES                               177
    XXXVII  IM, THE HUNTER                               182
    XXXVIII THE MAGIC INVASION OF SEOUL                  188
    XXXIX   THE AWFUL LITTLE GOBLIN                      191
    XL      GOD'S WAY                                    194
    XLI     THE OLD MAN IN THE DREAM                     196
    XLII    THE PERFECT PRIEST                           198
    XLIII   THE PROPITIOUS MAGPIE                        200
    XLIV    THE 'OLD BUDDHA'                             202
    XLV     A WONDERFUL MEDICINE                         204
    XLVI    FAITHFUL MO                                  205
    XLVII   THE RENOWNED MAING                           208
    XLVIII  THE SENSES                                   210
    XLIX    WHO DECIDES, GOD OR THE KING?                211
    L       THREE THINGS MASTERED                        213
    LI      STRANGELY STRICKEN DEAD                      215
    LII     THE MYSTERIOUS HOI TREE                      217
    LIII    TA-HONG                                      219



BIOGRAPHICAL


Im Bang was born in 1640, the son of a provincial governor. He was
very bright as a boy and from earliest years fond of study, becoming
a great scholar. He matriculated first in his class in 1660, and
graduated in 1663. He was a disciple of Song Si-yol, one of Korea's
first writers. In 1719, when he was in his eightieth year, he became
governor of Seoul, and held as well the office of secretary of the
Cabinet. In the year 1721 he got into difficulties over the choice
of the Heir Apparent, and in 1722, on account of a part he played
in a disturbance in the government, he was exiled to North Korea,
where he died.

(From Kuk-cho In-mul-chi, "Korea's Record of Famous Men.")



Yi Ryuk lived in the reign of King Se-jo, matriculated in 1459, and
graduated first in his class in 1564. He was a man of many offices
and many distinctions in the way of literary excellence.

"Korea's Record of Famous Men."



KOREAN IMPS, GHOSTS AND FAIRIES

I

CHARAN


[Some think that love, strong, true, and self-sacrificing, is not to
be found in the Orient; but the story of Charan, which comes down
four hundred years and more, proves the contrary, for it still has
the fresh, sweet flavour of a romance of yesterday; albeit the setting
of the East provides an odd and interesting background.]



In the days of King Sung-jong (A.D. 1488-1495) one of Korea's noted
men became governor of Pyong-an Province. Now Pyong-an stands first
of all the eight provinces in the attainments of erudition and polite
society. Many of her literati are good musicians, and show ability
in the affairs of State.

At the time of this story there was a famous dancing girl in Pyong-an
whose name was Charan. She was very beautiful, and sang and danced to
the delight of all beholders. Her ability, too, was specially marked,
for she understood the classics and was acquainted with history. The
brightest of all the geisha was she, famous and far-renowned.

The Governor's family consisted of a son, whose age was sixteen,
and whose face was comely as a picture. Though so young, he was
thoroughly grounded in Chinese, and was a gifted scholar. His
judgment was excellent, and he had a fine appreciation of literary
form, so that the moment he lifted his pen the written line took on
admirable expression. His name became known as Keydong (The Gifted
Lad). The Governor had no other children, neither son nor daughter,
so his heart was wrapped up in this boy. On his birthday he had all
the officials invited and other special guests, who came to drink
his health. There were present also a company of dancing-girls and a
large band of musicians. The Governor, during a lull in the banquet,
called his son to him, and ordered the chief of the dancing-girls to
choose one of the prettiest of their number, that he and she might
dance together and delight the assembled guests. On hearing this,
the company, with one accord, called for Charan, as the one suited
by her talents, attainments and age to be a fitting partner for his
son. They came out and danced like fairies, graceful as the wavings
of the willow, light and airy as the swallow. All who saw them were
charmed. The Governor, too, greatly pleased, called Charan to him,
had her sit on the dais, treated her to a share in the banquet, gave
her a present of silk, and commanded that from that day forth she be
the special dancing maiden to attend upon his son.

From this birthday forth they became fast friends together. They
thought the world of each other. More than all the delightful stories
of history was their love--such as had never been seen.

The Governor's term of office was extended for six years more, and so
they remained in the north country. Finally, at the time of return, he
and his wife were in great anxiety over their son being separated from
Charan. If they were to force them to separate, they feared he would
die of a broken heart. If they took her with them, she not being his
wife, they feared for his reputation. They could not possibly decide,
so they concluded to refer the matter to the son himself. They called
him and said, "Even parents cannot decide as to the love of their son
for a maiden. What ought we to do? You love Charan so that it will be
very hard for you to part, and yet to have a dancing-girl before you
are married is not good form, and will interfere with your marriage
prospects and promotion. However, the having of a second wife is a
common custom in Korea, and one that the world recognizes. Do as you
think best in the matter." The son replied, "There is no difficulty;
when she is before my eyes, of course she is everything, but when
the time comes for me to start for home she will be like a pair of
worn shoes, set aside; so please do not be anxious."

The Governor and his wife were greatly delighted, and said he was a
"superior man" indeed.

When the time came to part Charan cried bitterly, so that those
standing by could not bear to look at her; but the son showed not the
slightest sign of emotion. Those looking on were filled with wonder at
his fortitude. Although he had already loved Charan for six years, he
had never been separated from her for a single day, so he knew not what
it meant to say Good-bye, nor did he know how it felt to be parted.

The Governor returned to Seoul to fill the office of Chief Justice,
and the son came also. After this return thoughts of love for Charan
possessed Keydong, though he never expressed them in word or manner. It
was almost the time of the Kam-see Examination. The father, therefore,
ordered his son to go with some of his friends to a neighbouring
monastery to study and prepare. They went, and one night, after
the day's work was over and all were asleep, the young man stole
out into the courtyard. It was winter, with frost and snow and a
cold, clear moon. The mountains were deep and the world was quiet,
so that the slightest sound could be heard. The young man looked
up at the moon and his thoughts were full of sorrow. He so wished
to see Charan that he could no longer control himself, and fearing
that he would lose his reason, he decided that very night to set out
for far-distant Pyong-an. He had on a fur head-dress, a thick coat,
a leather belt and a heavy pair of shoes. When he had gone less than
ten lee, however, his feet were blistered, and he had to go into a
neighbouring village and change his leather shoes for straw sandals,
and his expensive head-cover for an ordinary servant's hat. He went
thus on his way, begging as he went. He was often very hungry, and
when night came, was very, very cold. He was a rich man's son and had
always dressed in silk and eaten dainty fare, and had never in his
life walked more than a few feet from his father's door. Now there
lay before him a journey of hundreds of miles. He went stumbling along
through the snow, making but poor progress. Hungry, and frozen nearly
to death, he had never known such suffering before. His clothes were
torn and his face became worn down and blackened till he looked like
a goblin. Still on he went, little by little, day after day, till at
last, when a whole month had gone by, he reached Pyong-an.

Straight to Charan's home he went, but Charan was not there, only
her mother. She looked at him, but did not recognize him. He said he
was the former Governor's son and that out of love for Charan he had
walked five hundred lee. "Where is she?" he asked. The mother heard,
but instead of being pleased was very angry. She said, "My daughter is
now with the son of the new Governor, and I never see her at all; she
never comes home, and she has been away for two or three months. Even
though you have made this long journey there is no possible way to
meet her."

She did not invite him in, so cold was her welcome. He thought to
himself, "I came to see Charan, but she is not here. Her mother refuses
me; I cannot go back, and I cannot stay. What shall I do?" While
thus in this dilemma a plan occurred to him. There was a scribe in
Pyong-an, who, during his father's term of office, had offended,
and was sentenced to death. There were extenuating circumstances,
however, and he, when he went to pay his morning salutations, had
besought and secured his pardon. His father, out of regard for his
son's petition, had forgiven the scribe. He thought, "I was the means
of saving the man's life, he will take me in;" so he went straight
from Charan's to the house of the scribe. But at first this writer
did not recognize him. When he gave his name and told who he was, the
scribe gave a great start, and fell at his feet making obeisance. He
cleared out an inner room and made him comfortable, prepared dainty
fare and treated him with all respect.

A little later he talked over with his host the possibility of his
meeting Charan. The scribe said, "I am afraid that there is no way
for you to meet her alone, but if you would like to see even her face,
I think I can manage it. Will you consent?"

He asked as to the plan. It was this: It being now a time of snow,
daily coolies were called to sweep it away from the inner court of
the Governor's yamen, and just now the scribe was in charge of this
particular work. Said he, "If you will join the sweepers, take a
broom and go in; you will no doubt catch a glimpse of Charan as she
is said to be in the Hill Kiosk. I know of no other plan."

Keydong consented. In the early morning he mixed with the company
of sweepers and went with his broom into the inner enclosure, where
the Hill Kiosk was, and so they worked at sweeping. Just then the
Governor's son was sitting by the open window and Charan was by
him, but not visible from the outside. The other workers, being all
practised hands, swept well; Keydong alone handled his broom to no
advantage, knowing not how to sweep. The Governor's son, watching the
process, looked out and laughed, called Charan and invited her to see
this sweeper. Charan stepped out into the open hall and the sweeper
raised his eyes to see. She glanced at him but once, and but for a
moment, then turned quickly, went into the room, and shut the door,
not appearing again, to the disappointment of the sweeper, who came
back in despair to the scribe's house.

Charan was first of all a wise and highly gifted woman. One look
had told her who the sweeper was. She came back into the room and
began to cry. The Governor's son looked in surprise and displeasure,
and asked, "Why do you cry?" She did not reply at once, but after
two or three insistent demands told the reason thus: "I am a low
class woman; you are mistaken in thinking highly of me, or counting
me of worth. Already I have not been home for two whole months and
more. This is a special compliment and a high honour, and so there
is not the slightest reason for any complaint on my part. But still,
I think of my home, which is poor, and my mother. It is customary on
the anniversary of my father's death to prepare food from the official
quarters, and offer a sacrifice to his spirit, but here I am imprisoned
and to-morrow is the sacrificial day. I fear that not a single act of
devotion will be paid, I am disturbed over it, and that's why I cry."

The Governor's son was so taken in by this fair statement that he
trusted her fully and without a question. Sympathetically he asked,
"Why didn't you tell me before?" He prepared the food and told her to
hurry home and carry out the ceremony. So Charan came like flaming fire
back to her house, and said to her mother, "Keydong has come and I have
seen him. Is he not here? Tell me where he is if you know." The mother
said, "He came here, it is true, all the way on foot to see you, but
I told him that you were in the yamen and that there was no possible
way for you to meet, so he went away and where he is I know not."

Then Charan broke down and began to cry. "Oh, my mother, why had you
the heart to do so cruelly?" she sobbed. "As far as I am concerned
I can never break with him nor give him up. We were each sixteen
when chosen to dance together, and while it may be said that men
chose us, it is truer still to say that God hath chosen. We grew into
each other's lives, and there was never such love as ours. Though he
forgot and left me, I can never forget and can never give him up. The
Governor, too, called me the beloved wife of his son, and did not once
refer to my low station. He cherished me and gave me many gifts. 'Twas
all like heaven and not like earth. To the city of Pyong-an gentry and
officials gather as men crowd into a boat; I have seen so many, but
for grace and ability no one was ever like Keydong. I must find him,
and even though he casts me aside I never shall forget him. I have not
kept myself even unto death as I should have, because I have been under
the power and influence of the Governor. How could he ever have come so
far for one so low and vile? He, a gentleman of the highest birth, for
the sake of a wretched dancing-girl has endured all this hardship and
come so far. Could you not have thought, mother, of these things and
given him at least some kindly welcome? Could my heart be other than
broken?" And a great flow of tears came from Charan's eyes. She thought
and thought as to where he could possibly be. "I know of no place,"
said she, "unless it be at such and such a scribe's home." Quick as
thought she flew thence, and there they met. They clasped each other
and cried, not a word was spoken. Thus came they back to Charan's
home side by side. When it was night Charan said, "When to-morrow
comes we shall have to part. What shall we do?" They talked it over,
and agreed to make their escape that night. So Charan got together
her clothing, and her treasures and jewels, and made two bundles, and
thus, he carrying his on his back and she hers on her head, away they
went while the city slept. They followed the road that leads toward
the mountains that lie between Yang-tok and Maing-san counties. There
they found a country house, where they put up, and where the Governor's
son became a sort of better-class servant. He did not know how to do
anything well, but Charan understood weaving and sewing, and so they
lived. After some time they got a little thatched hut by themselves in
the village and lived there. Charan was a beautiful sewing-woman, and
ceased not day and night to ply her needle, and sold her treasures and
her jewels to make ends meet. Charan, too, knew how to make friends,
and was praised and loved by all the village. Everybody felt sorry
for the hard times that had befallen this mysterious young couple, and
helped them so that the days passed peacefully and happily together.

To return in the story: On awaking in the morning in the temple where
he and his friends had gone to study, they found Keydong missing. All
was in a state of confusion as to what had become of the son of the
Chief Justice. They hunted for him far and wide, but he was nowhere
to be found, so word was sent to the parents accordingly. There was
untold consternation in the home of the former governor. So great a
loss, what could equal it? They searched the country about the temple,
but no trace or shadow of him was to be found. Some said they thought
he had been inveigled away and metamorphosed by the fox; others that he
had been eaten by the tiger. The parents decided that he was dead and
went into mourning for him, burning his clothing in a sacrificial fire.

In Pyong-an the Governor's son, when he found that he had lost Charan,
had Charan's mother imprisoned and all the relatives, but after a
month or so, when the search proved futile, he gave up the matter
and let them go.

Charan, at last happy with her chosen one, said one day to him, "You,
a son of the gentry, for the sake of a dancing-girl have given up
parents and home to live in this hidden corner of the hills. It is a
matter, too, that touches your filial piety, this leaving your father
and mother in doubt as to whether you are alive or not. They ought to
know. We cannot live here all our lives, neither can we return home;
what do you think we ought to do?" Keydong made a hopeless reply. "I
am in distress," said he, "and know not."

Charan said brightly, "I have a plan by which we can cover over the
faults of the past, and win a new start for the future. By means of
it, you can serve your parents and look the world in the face. Will
you consent?"

"What do you propose?" asked he. Her reply was, "There is only one
way, and that is by means of the Official Examination. I know of no
other. You will understand what I mean, even though I do not tell
you more."

He said, "Enough, your plan is just the thing to help us out. But
how can I get hold of the books I need?"

Charan replied, "Don't be anxious about that, I'll get the books." From
that day forth she sent through all the neighbourhood for books, to be
secured at all costs; but there were few or none, it being a mountain
village. One day there came by, all unexpectedly, a pack-peddler, who
had in his bundle a book that he wished to sell. Some of the village
people wanted to buy it for wall-paper. Charan, however, secured it
first and showed it to Keydong. It was none other than a special work
for Examinations, with all the exercises written out. It was written
in small characters, and was a huge book containing several thousand
exercises. Keydong was delighted, and said, "This is enough for all
needed preparation." She bought it and gave it to him, and there he
pegged away day after day. In the night he studied by candle-light,
while she sat by his side and did silk-spinning. Thus they shared
the light together. If he showed any remissness, Charan urged him
on, and thus they worked for two years. To begin with, he, being a
highly talented scholar, made steady advancement day by day. He was
a beautiful writer and a master of the pen. His compositions, too,
were without a peer, and every indication pointed to his winning the
highest place in the Kwago (Examination).

At this time a proclamation was issued that there would be a special
examination held before His Majesty the King, so Charan made ready
the food required and all necessaries for him to go afoot to Seoul
to try his hand.

At last here he was, within the Palace enclosure. His Majesty came
out into the examination arena and posted up the subject. Keydong took
his pen and wrote his finished composition. Under the inspiration of
the moment his lines came forth like bubbling water. It was finished.

When the announcement was made as to the winner, the King ordered
the sealed name of the writer to be opened. It was, and they found
that Keydong was first. At that time his father was Prime Minister
and waiting in attendance upon the King. The King called the Prime
Minister, and said, "It looks to me as though the winner was your son,
but he writes that his father is Chief Justice and not Prime Minister;
what can that mean?" He handed the composition paper to the father,
and asked him to look and see. The Minister gazed at it in wonder,
burst into tears, and said, "It is your servant's son. Three years ago
he went with some friends to a monastery to study, but one night he
disappeared, and though I searched far and wide I have had no word of
him since. I concluded that he had been destroyed by some wild animal,
so I had a funeral service held and the house went into mourning. I
had no other children but this son only. He was greatly gifted and
I lost him in this strange way. The memory has never left me, for it
seems as though I had lost him but yesterday. Now that I look at this
paper I see indeed that it is the writing of my son. When I lost him
I was Chief Justice, and thus he records the office; but where he has
been for these three years, and how he comes now to take part in the
examination, I know not."

The King, hearing this, was greatly astonished, and at once before all
the assembled ministers had him called. Thus he came in his scholar's
dress into the presence of the King. All the officials wondered at this
summoning of a candidate before the announcement of the result. The
King asked him why he had left the monastery and where he had been
for these three years. He bowed low, and said, "I have been a very
wicked man, have left my parents, have broken all the laws of filial
devotion, and deserve condign punishment." The King replied, saying,
"There is no law of concealment before the King. I shall not condemn
you even though you are guilty; tell me all." Then he told his story to
the King. All the officials on each side bent their ears to hear. The
King sighed, and said to the father, "Your son has repented and made
amends for his fault. He has won first place and now stands as a
member of the Court. We cannot condemn him for his love for this
woman. Forgive him for all the past and give him a start for the
future." His Majesty said further, "The woman Charan, who has shared
your life in the lonely mountains, is no common woman. Her plans,
too, for your restoration were the plans of a master hand. She is
no dancing-girl, this Charan. Let no other be your lawful wife but
she only; let her be raised to equal rank with her husband, and let
her children and her children's children hold highest office in the
realm." So was Keydong honoured with the winner's crown, and so the
Prime Minister received his son back to life at the hands of the
King. The winner's cap was placed upon his head, and the whole house
was whirled into raptures of joy.

So the Minister sent forth a palanquin and servants to bring up
Charan. In a great festival of joy she was proclaimed the wife of the
Minister's son. Later he became one of Korea's first men of State,
and they lived their happy life to a good old age. They had two sons,
both graduates and men who held high office.


Im Bang.



II

THE STORY OF CHANG TO-RYONG


[Taoism has been one of the great religions of Korea. Its main
thought is expressed in the phrase su-sim yon-song, "to correct the
mind and reform the nature"; while Buddhism's is myong-sim kyon-song,
"to enlighten the heart and see the soul."

The desire of all Taoists is "eternal life," chang-saing pul-sa;
that of the Buddhists, to rid oneself of fleshly being. In the Taoist
world of the genii, there are three great divisions: the upper genii,
who live with God; the midway genii, who have to do with the world
of angels and spirits; and the lower genii, who rule in sacred places
on the earth, among the hills, just as we find in the story of Chang
To-ryong.]



In the days of King Chung-jong (A.D. 1507-1526) there lived a beggar
in Seoul, whose face was extremely ugly and always dirty. He was
forty years of age or so, but still wore his hair down his back like
an unmarried boy. He carried a bag over his shoulder, and went about
the streets begging. During the day he went from one part of the city
to the other, visiting each section, and when night came on he would
huddle up beside some one's gate and go to sleep. He was frequently
seen in Chong-no (Bell Street) in company with the servants and
underlings of the rich. They were great friends, he and they, joking
and bantering as they met. He used to say that his name was Chang,
and so they called him Chang To-ryong, To-ryong meaning an unmarried
boy, son of the gentry. At that time the magician Chon U-chi, who
was far-famed for his pride and arrogance, whenever he met Chang, in
passing along the street, would dismount and prostrate himself most
humbly. Not only did he bow, but he seemed to regard Chang with the
greatest of fear, so that he dared not look him in the face. Chang,
sometimes, without even inclining his head, would say, "Well, how
goes it with you, eh?" Chon, with his hands in his sleeves, most
respectfully would reply, "Very well, sir, thank you, very well." He
had fear written on all his features when he faced Chang.

Sometimes, too, when Chon would bow, Chang would refuse to notice him
at all, and go by without a word. Those who saw it were astonished,
and asked Chon the reason. Chon said in reply, "There are only
three spirit-men at present in Cho-sen, of whom the greatest is
Chang To-ryong; the second is Cheung Puk-chang; and the third is Yun
Se-pyong. People of the world do not know it, but I do. Such being
the case, should I not bow before him and show him reverence?"

Those who heard this explanation, knowing that Chon himself was a
strange being, paid no attention to it.

At that time in Seoul there was a certain literary undergraduate
in office whose house joined hard on the street. This man used to
see Chang frequently going about begging, and one day he called him
and asked who he was, and why he begged. Chang made answer, "I was
originally of a cultured family of Chulla Province, but my parents
died of typhus fever, and I had no brothers or relations left to
share my lot. I alone remained of all my clan, and having no home of
my own I have gone about begging, and have at last reached Seoul. As
I am not skilled in any handicraft, and do not know Chinese letters,
what else can I do?" The undergraduate, hearing that he was a scholar,
felt very sorry for him, gave him food and drink, and refreshed him.

From this time on, whenever there was any special celebration at his
home, he used to call Chang in and have him share it.

On a certain day when the master was on his way to office, he
saw a dead body being carried on a stretcher off toward the Water
Gate. Looking at it closely from the horse on which he rode, he
recognized it as the corpse of Chang To-ryong. He felt so sad that
he turned back to his house and cried over it, saying, "There are
lots of miserable people on earth, but who ever saw one as miserable
as poor Chang? As I reckon the time over on my fingers, he has been
begging in Bell Street for fifteen years, and now he passes out of
the city a dead body."

Twenty years and more afterwards the master had to make a journey
through South Chulla Province. As he was passing Chi-i Mountain, he
lost his way and got into a maze among the hills. The day began to
wane, and he could neither return nor go forward. He saw a narrow
footpath, such as woodmen take, and turned into it to see if it
led to any habitation. As he went along there were rocks and deep
ravines. Little by little, as he advanced farther, the scene changed
and seemed to become strangely transfigured. The farther he went the
more wonderful it became. After he had gone some miles he discovered
himself to be in another world entirely, no longer a world of earth
and dust. He saw some one coming toward him dressed in ethereal green,
mounted and carrying a shade, with servants accompanying. He seemed
to sweep toward him with swiftness and without effort. He thought to
himself, "Here is some high lord or other coming to meet me, but,"
he added, "how among these deeps and solitudes could a gentleman come
riding so?" He led his horse aside and tried to withdraw into one
of the groves by the side of the way, but before he could think to
turn the man had reached him. The mysterious stranger lifted his two
hands in salutation and inquired respectfully as to how he had been
all this time. The master was speechless, and so astonished that he
could make no reply. But the stranger smilingly said, "My house is
quite near here; come with me and rest."

He turned, and leading the way seemed to glide and not to walk, while
the master followed. At last they reached the place indicated. He
suddenly saw before him great palace halls filling whole squares of
space. Beautiful buildings they were, richly ornamented. Before the
door attendants in official robes awaited them. They bowed to the
master and led him into the hall. After passing a number of gorgeous,
palace-like rooms, he arrived at a special one and ascended to the
upper storey, where he met a very wonderful person. He was dressed in
shining garments, and the servants that waited on him were exceedingly
fair. There were, too, children about, so exquisitely beautiful that
it seemed none other than a celestial palace. The master, alarmed
at finding himself in such a place, hurried forward and made a low
obeisance, not daring to lift his eyes. But the host smiled upon him,
raised his hands and asked, "Do you not know me? Look now." Lifting his
eyes, he then saw that it was the same person who had come riding out
to meet him, but he could not tell who he was. "I see you," said he,
"but as to who you are I cannot tell."

The kingly host then said, "I am Chang To-ryong. Do you not know
me?" Then as the master looked more closely at him he could see
the same features. The outlines of the face were there, but all the
imperfections had gone, and only beauty remained. So wonderful was
it that he was quite overcome.

A great feast was prepared, and the honoured guest was
entertained. Such food, too, was placed before him as was never seen
on earth. Angelic beings played on beautiful instruments and danced
as no mortal eye ever looked upon. Their faces, too, were like pearls
and precious stones.

Chang To-ryong said to his guest, "There are four famous mountains
in Korea in which the genii reside. This hill is one. In days gone
by, for a fault of mine, I was exiled to earth, and in the time of
my exile you treated me with marked kindness, a favour that I have
never forgotten. When you saw my dead body your pity went out to
me; this, too, I remember. I was not dead then, it was simply that
my days of exile were ended and I was returning home. I knew that
you were passing this hill, and I desired to meet you and to thank
you for all your kindness. Your treatment of me in another world is
sufficient to bring about our meeting in this one." And so they met
and feasted in joy and great delight.

When night came he was escorted to a special pavilion, where he
was to sleep. The windows were made of jade and precious stones,
and soft lights came streaming through them, so that there was no
night. "My body was so rested and my soul so refreshed," said he,
"that I felt no need of sleep."

When the day dawned a new feast was spread, and then farewells were
spoken. Chang said, "This is not a place for you to stay long in;
you must go. The ways differ of we genii and you men of the world. It
will be difficult for us ever to meet again. Take good care of yourself
and go in peace." He then called a servant to accompany him and show
the way. The master made a low bow and withdrew. When he had gone but
a short distance he suddenly found himself in the old world with its
dusty accompaniments. The path by which he came out was not the way
by which he had entered. In order to mark the entrance he planted a
stake, and then the servant withdrew and disappeared.

The year following the master went again and tried to find the citadel
of the genii, but there were only mountain peaks and impassable
ravines, and where it was he never could discover.

As the years went by the master seemed to grow younger in spirit, and
at last at the age of ninety he passed away without suffering. "When
Chang was here on earth and I saw him for fifteen years," said the
master, "I remember but one peculiarity about him, namely, that his
face never grew older nor did his dirty clothing ever wear out. He
never changed his garb, and yet it never varied in appearance in all
the fifteen years. This alone would have marked him as a strange being,
but our fleshly eyes did not recognize it."


Im Bang.



III

A STORY OF THE FOX


[The Fox.--Orientals say that among the long-lived creatures are the
tortoise, the deer, the crane and the fox, and that these long-lived
ones attain to special states of spiritual refinement. If trees exist
through long ages they become coal; if pine resin endures it becomes
amber; so the fox, if it lives long, while it never becomes an angel,
or spiritual being, as a man does, takes on various metamorphoses,
and appears on earth in various forms.]



Yi Kwai was the son of a minister. He passed his examinations and
held high office. When his father was Governor of Pyong-an Province,
Kwai was a little boy and accompanied him. The Governor's first wife
being dead, Kwai's stepmother was the mistress of the home. Once when
His Excellency had gone out on an inspecting tour, the yamen was left
vacant, and Kwai was there with her. In the rear garden of the official
quarters was a pavilion, called the Hill Pagoda, that was connected by
a narrow gateway with the public hall. Frequently Kwai took one of the
yamen boys with him and went there to study, and once at night when it
had grown late and the boy who accompanied him had taken his departure,
the door opened suddenly and a young woman came in. Her clothes were
neat and clean, and she was very pretty. Kwai looked carefully at her,
but did not recognize her. She was evidently a stranger, as there
was no such person among the dancing-girls of the yamen.

He remained looking at her, in doubt as to who she was, while she
on the other hand took her place in the corner of the room and said
nothing.

"Who are you?" he asked. She merely laughed and made no reply. He
called her. She came and knelt down before him, and he took her by the
hand and patted her shoulder, as though he greeted her favourably. The
woman smiled and pretended to enjoy it. He concluded, however, that
she was not a real woman, but a goblin of some kind, or perhaps a fox,
and what to do he knew not. Suddenly he decided on a plan, caught
her, swung her on to his back, and rushed out through the gate into
the yamen quarters, where he shouted at the top of his voice for his
stepmother and the servants to come.

It was midnight and all were asleep. No one replied, and no one
came. The woman, then, being on his back, bit him furiously at the
nape of the neck. By this he knew that she was the fox. Unable to
stand the pain of it, he loosened his grasp, when she jumped to the
ground, made her escape and was seen no more.

What a pity that no one came to Kwai's rescue and so made sure of
the beast!


Im Bang.



IV


CHEUNG PUK-CHANG, THE SEER

[Cheung Puk-chang.--The Yol-ryok Keui-sul, one of Korea's noted
histories, says of Cheung Puk-chang that he was pure in purpose
and without selfish ambition. He was superior to all others in his
marvellous gifts. For him to read a book once was to know it by
heart. There was nothing that he could not understand--astronomy,
geology, music, medicine, mathematics, fortune-telling and Chinese
characters, which he knew by intuition and not from study.

He followed his father in the train of the envoy to Peking, and
there talked to all the strange peoples whom he met without any
preparation. They all wondered at him and called him "The Mystery." He
knew, too, the meaning of the calls of birds and beasts; and while he
lived in the mountains he could see and tell what people were doing
in the distant valley, indicating what was going on in each house,
which, upon investigation, was found in each case to be true. He was
a Taoist, and received strange revelations.

While in Peking there met him envoys from the Court of Loochoo,
who also were prophets. While in their own country they had studied
the horoscope, and on going into China knew that they were to meet
a Holy Man. As they went on their way they asked concerning this
mysterious being, and at last reached Peking. Inquiring, they went
from one envoy's station to another till they met Cheung Puk-chang,
when a great fear came upon them, and they fell prostrate to the earth.

They took from their baggage a little book inscribed, "In such a year,
on such a day, at such an hour, in such a place, you shall meet a
Holy Man." "If this does not mean your Excellency," said they, "whom
can it mean?" They asked that he would teach them the sacred Book of
Changes, and he responded by teaching it in their own language. At
that time the various envoys, hearing of this, contended with each
other as to who should first see the marvellous stranger, and he
spoke to each in his own tongue. They all, greatly amazed, said,
"He is indeed a man of God."

Some one asked him, saying, "There are those who understand the sounds
of birds and beasts, but foreign languages have to be learned to be
known; how can you speak them without study?"

Puk-chang replied, "I do not know them from having learned them,
but know them unconsciously."

Puk-chang was acquainted with the three religions, but he considered
Confucianism as the first. "Its writings as handed down," said he,
"teach us filial piety and reverence. The learning of the Sages
deals with relationships among men and not with spiritual mysteries;
but Taoism and Buddhism deal with the examination of the soul and the
heart, and so with things above and not with things on the earth. This
is the difference."

At thirty-two years of age he matriculated, but had no interest in
further literary study. He became, instead, an official teacher of
medicine, astrology and mathematics.

He was a fine whistler, we are told, and once when he had climbed to
the highest peak of the Diamond Mountains and there whistled, the
echoes resounded through the hills, and the priests were startled
and wondered whose flute was playing.]



[There is a term in Korea which reads he-an pang-kwang, "spiritual-eye
distant-vision," the seeing of things in the distance. This pertains
to both Taoists and Buddhists.

It is said that when the student reaches a certain stage in his
progress, the soft part of the head returns to the primal thinness
that is seen in the child to rise and fall when it breathes. From
this part of the head go forth five rays of light that shoot out and
up more and more as the student advances in the spiritual way. As far
as they extend so is the spiritual vision perfected, until at last a
Korean sufficiently advanced could sit and say, "In London, to-day,
such and such a great affair is taking place."

For example, So Wha-tam, who was a Taoist Sage, once was seen to laugh
to himself as he sat with closed eyes, and when asked why he laughed,
said, "Just now in the monastery of Ha-in [300 miles distant] there
is a great feast going on. The priest stirring the huge kettle of
bean gruel has tumbled in, but the others do not know this, and are
eating the soup." News came from the monastery later on that proved
that what the sage had seen was actually true.

The History of Confucius, too, deals with this when it tells of his
going with his disciple An-ja and looking off from the Tai Mountains
of Shan-tung toward the kingdom of On. Confucius asked An-ja if he
could see anything, and An-ja replied, "I see white horses tied at
the gates of On."

Confucius said, "No, no, your vision is imperfect, desist from
looking. They are not white horses, but are rolls of white silk hung
out for bleaching."]



The Story

The Master, Puk-chang, was a noted Korean. From the time of his
birth he was a wonderful mystery. In reading a book, if he but glanced
through it, he could recall it word for word. Without any special study
he became a master of astronomy, geology, medicine, fortune-telling,
music, mathematics and geomancy, and so truly a specialist was he
that he knew them all.

He was thoroughly versed also in the three great religions,
Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. He talked constantly of what
other people could not possibly comprehend. He understood the sounds
of the birds, the voices of Nature, and much else. He accompanied
his father in his boyhood days when he went as envoy to Peking. At
that time, strange barbarian peoples used also to come and pay their
tribute. Puk-chang picked up acquaintance with them on the way. Hearing
their language but once, he was readily able to communicate with
them. His own countrymen who accompanied him were not the only
ones astonished, nor the Chinamen themselves, but the barbarians
as well. There are numerous interesting stories hinted at in the
history of Puk-chang, but few suitable records were made of them,
and so many are lost.

There is one, however, that I recall that comes to me through
trustworthy witnesses: Puk-chang, on a certain day, went to visit
his paternal aunt. She asked him to be seated, and as they talked
together, said to him, "I had some harvesting to do in Yong-nam
County, and sent a servant to see to it. His return is overdue and
yet he does not come. I am afraid he has fallen in with thieves,
or chanced on a fire or some other misfortune."

Puk-chang replied, "Shall I tell you how it goes with him, and how
far he has come on the way?"

She laughed, saying, "Do you mean to joke about it?"

Puk-chang, from where he was sitting, looked off apparently to the far
south, and at last said to his aunt, "He is just now crossing the hill
called Bird Pass in Mun-kyong County, Kyong-sang Province. Hallo! he
is getting a beating just now from a passing yangban (gentleman),
but I see it is his own fault, so you need not trouble about him."

The aunt laughed, and asked, "Why should he be beaten; what's the
reason, pray?"

Puk-chang replied, "It seems this official was eating his dinner at the
top of the hill when your servant rode by him without dismounting. The
gentleman was naturally very angry and had his servants arrest your
man, pull him from his horse, and beat him over the face with their
rough straw shoes."

The aunt could not believe it true, but treated the matter as a joke;
and yet Puk-chang did not seem to be joking.

Interested and curious, she made a note of the day on the wall after
Puk-chang had taken his departure, and when the servant returned,
she asked him what day he had come over Bird Pass, and it proved to
be the day recorded. She added also, "Did you get into trouble with
a yangban there when you came by?"

The servant gave a startled look, and asked, "How do you know?" He
then told all that had happened to him, and it was just as Puk-chang
had given it even to the smallest detail.


Im Bang.



V

YUN SE-PYONG, THE WIZARD


[Yun Se-pyong was a man of Seoul who lived to the age of over
ninety. When he was young he loved archery, and went as military
attaché to the capital of the Mings (Nanking). There he met a prophet
who taught him the Whang-jong Kyong, or Sacred Book of the Taoists,
and thus he learned their laws and practised their teachings. His
life was written by Yi So-kwang.]



[Chon U-chi was a magician of Songdo who lived about 1550, and was
associated in his life with Shin Kwang-hu. At the latter's residence
one day when a friend called, Kwang-hu asked Chon to show them one
of his special feats. A little later they brought in a table of rice
for each of the party, and Chon took a mouthful of his, and then blew
it out toward the courtyard, when the rice changed into beautiful
butterflies that flew gaily away.

Chang O-sa used to tell a story of his father, who said that one day
Chon came to call upon him at his house and asked for a book entitled
The Tu-si, which he gave to him. "I had no idea," said the father,
"that he was dead and that it was his ghost. I gave him the book,
though I did not learn till afterwards that he had been dead for a
long time."

The History of Famous Men says, "He was a man who understood heretical
magic, and other dangerous teachings by which he deceived the
people. He was arrested for this and locked up in prison in Sin-chon,
Whang-hai Province, and there he died. His burial was ordered by the
prison authorities, and later, when his relatives came to exhume his
remains, they found that the coffin was empty."

This and the story of Im Bang do not agree as to his death, and I am
not able to judge between them.--J. S. G.]



[The transformation of men into beasts, bugs and creeping things
comes from Buddhism; one seldom finds it in Taoism.]



The Story

Yun Se-Pyong was a military man who rose to the rank of minister in
the days of King Choong-jong. It seems that Yun learned the doctrine
of magic from a passing stranger, whom he met on his way to Peking in
company with the envoy. When at home he lived in a separate house,
quite apart from the other members of his family. He was a man so
greatly feared that even his wife and children dared not approach
him. What he did in secret no one seemed to know. In winter he was
seen to put iron cleats under each arm and to change them frequently,
and when they were put off they seemed to be red-hot.

At the same time there was a magician in Korea called Chon U-chi, who
used to go about Seoul plying his craft. So skilful was he that he
could even simulate the form of the master of a house and go freely
into the women's quarters. On this account he was greatly feared and
detested. Yun heard of him on more than one occasion, and determined
to rid the earth of him. Chon heard also of Yun and gave him a wide
berth, never appearing in his presence. He used frequently to say,
"I am a magician only; Yun is a God."

On a certain day Chon informed his wife that Yun would come that
afternoon and try to kill him, "and so," said he, "I shall change my
shape in order to escape his clutches. If any one comes asking for
me just say that I am not at home." He then metamorphosed himself
into a beetle, and crawled under a crock that stood overturned in
the courtyard.

When evening began to fall a young woman came to Chon's house, a very
beautiful woman too, and asked, "Is the master Chon at home?"

The wife replied, "He has just gone out."

The woman laughingly said, "Master Chon and I have been special
friend's for a long time, and I have an appointment with him
to-day. Please say to him that I have come."

Chon's wife, seeing a pretty woman come thus, and ask in such a
familiar way for her husband, flew into a rage and said, "The rascal
has evidently a second wife that he has never told me of. What he
said just now is all false," so she went out in a fury, and with a
club smashed the crock. When the crock was broken there was the beetle
underneath it. Then the woman who had called suddenly changed into a
bee, and flew at and stung the beetle. Chon, metamorphosed into his
accustomed form, fell over and died, and the bee flew away.

Yun lived at his own house as usual, when suddenly he broke down
one day in a fit of tears. The members of his family in alarm asked
the reason.

He replied, "My sister living in Chulla Province has just at this
moment died." He then called his servants, and had them prepare
funeral supplies, saying, "They are poor where she lives, and so I
must help them."

He wrote a letter, and after sealing it, said to one of his attendants,
"If you go just outside the gate you will meet a man wearing a
horsehair cap and a soldier's uniform. Call him in. He is standing
there ready to be summoned."

He was called in, and sure enough he was a Kon-yun-no (servant of the
gods). He came in and at once prostrated himself before Yun. Yun said,
"My sister has just now died in such a place in Chulla Province. Take
this letter and go at once. I shall expect you back to-night with
the answer. The matter is of such great importance that if you do
not bring it as I order, and within the time appointed, I shall have
you punished."

He replied, "I shall be in time, be not anxious."

Yun then gave him the letter and the bundle, and he went outside the
main gateway and disappeared.

Before dark he returned with the answer. The letter read: "She died
at such an hour to-day and we were in straits as to what to do, when
your letter came with the supplies, just as though we had seen each
other. Wonderful it is!" The man who brought the answer immediately
went out and disappeared. The house of mourning is situated over ten
days' journey from Seoul, but he returned ere sunset, in the space
of two or three hours.


Im Bang.



VI

THE WILD-CAT WOMAN


[Kim Su-ik was a native of Seoul who matriculated in 1624 and
graduated in 1630. In 1636, when the King made his escape to Nam-han
from the invading Manchu army, Kim Su-ik accompanied him. He opposed
any yielding to China or any treaty with them, but because his counsel
was not received he withdrew from public life.]



[Tong Chung-so was a Chinaman of great note. He once desired to
give himself up to study, and did not go out of his room for three
years. During this time a young man one day called on him, and while
he stood waiting said to himself, "It will rain to-day." Tong replied
at once, "If you are not a fox you are a wild cat--out of this,"
and the man at once ran away. How he came to know this was from the
words, "Birds that live in the trees know when the wind will blow;
beasts that live in the ground know when it is going to rain." The
wild cat unconsciously told on himself.]



The Story

The former magistrate of Quelpart, Kim Su-ik, lived inside of the
South Gate of Seoul. When he was young it was his habit to study
Chinese daily until late at night. Once, when feeling hungry, he
called for his wife to bring him something to eat.

The wife replied, "We have nothing in the house except seven or eight
chestnuts. Shall I roast these and bring them to you?"

Kim replied, "Good; bring them."

The servants were asleep, and there was no one on hand to answer a
call, so the wife went to the kitchen, made a fire and cooked them
herself. Kim waited, meanwhile, for her to come.

After a little while she brought them in a handbasket, cooked and
ready served for him. Kim ate and enjoyed them much. Meanwhile
she sat before his desk and waited. Suddenly the door opened, and
another person entered. Kim raised his eyes to see, and there was the
exact duplicate of his wife, with a basket in her hand and roasted
chestnuts. As he looked at both of them beneath the light the two
women were perfect facsimiles of each other. The two also looked back
and forth in alarm, saying, "What's this that's happened? Who are you?"

Kim once again received the roasted nuts, laid them down, and then
took firm hold of each woman, the first one by the right hand and
the second by the left, holding fast till the break of day.

At last the cocks crew, and the east began to lighten. The one whose
right hand he held, said, "Why do you hold me so? It hurts; let me
go." She shook and tugged, but Kim held all the tighter. In a little,
after struggling, she fell to the floor and suddenly changed into
a wild cat. Kim, in fear and surprise, let her go, and she made her
escape through the door. What a pity that he did not make the beast
fast for good and all!



Note by the writer.--Foxes turning into women and deceiving people is
told of in Kwang-keui and other Chinese novels, but the wild cat's
transformation is more wonderful still, and something that I have
never heard of. By what law do creatures like foxes and wild cats so
change? I am unable to find any law that governs it. Some say that
the fox carries a magic charm by which it does these magic things,
but can this account for the wild cat?


Im Bang.



VII

THE ILL-FATED PRIEST


A certain scribe of Chung-chong Province, whose name was Kim Kyong-jin,
once told me the following story. Said he: "In the year 1640, as I
was journeying past Big Horn Bridge in Ta-in County, I saw a scholar,
who, with his four or five servants, had met with some accident and all
were reduced to a state of unconsciousness, lying by the river side. I
asked the reason for what had befallen them, and they at last said in
reply, 'We were eating our noon meal by the side of the road, when a
Buddhist priest came by, a proud, arrogant fellow, who refused to bow
or show any recognition of us. One of the servants, indignant at this,
shouted at him. The priest, however, beat him with his stick, and when
others went to help, he beat them also, so that they were completely
worsted and unable to rise or walk. He then scolded the scholar,
saying, "You did not reprimand your servants for their insult to me,
so I'll have to take it out of you as well." The Buddhist gave him a
number of vicious blows, so that he completely collapsed;' and when
I looked there was the priest a li or two ahead.

"Just then a military man, aged about forty or so, came my way. He was
poor in flesh and seemed to have no strength. Riding a cadaverous pony,
he came shuffling along; a boy accompanying carried his hat-cover and
bow and arrows. He arrived at the stream, and, seeing the people in
their plight, asked the cause. The officer was very angry, and said,
'Yonder impudent priest, endowed with no end of brute force, has
attacked my people and me.'

"'Indeed,' said the stranger, 'I have been aware of him for a long
time, and have decided to rid the earth of him, but I have never had an
opportunity before. Now that I have at last come on him I am determined
to have satisfaction.' So he dismounted from his horse, tightened his
girth, took his bow, and an arrow that had a 'fist' head, and made
off at a gallop after the priest. Soon he overtook him. Just as the
priest looked back the archer let fly with his arrow, which entered
deep into the chest. He then dismounted, drew his sword, pierced the
two hands of the priest and passed a string through them, tied him to
his horse's tail, and came triumphantly back to where the scholar lay,
and said, 'Now do with this fellow as you please. I am going.'

"The scholar bowed before the archer, thanked him, asked his place of
residence and name. He replied, 'My home is in the County of Ko-chang,'
but he did not give his name.

"The scholar looked at the priest, and never before had he seen so
powerful a giant, but now, with his chest shot through and his hands
pierced, he was unable to speak; so they arose, made mincemeat of him,
and went on their way rejoicing."


Im Bang.



VIII

THE VISION OF THE HOLY MAN


Yi Chi-Ham (Master To-jong).--A story is told of him that on the day
after his wedding he went out with his topo or ceremonial coat on,
but came back later without it. On inquiry being made, it was found
that he had torn it into pieces to serve as bandages for a sick child
that he had met with on his walk.

Once on a time he had an impression that his father-in-law's home
was shortly to be overtaken by a great disaster; he therefore took
his wife and disappeared from the place. In the year following, for
some political offence, the home was indeed wiped out and the family
wholly destroyed.

To-jong was not only a prophet, but also a magician, as was shown
by his handling of a boat. When he took to sea the waters lay quiet
before him, and all his path was peace. He would be absent sometimes
for a year or more, voyaging in many parts of the world.

He practised fasting, and would go sometimes for months without
eating. He also overcame thirst, and in the hot days of summer would
avoid drinking. He stifled all pain and suffering, so that when he
walked and his feet were blistered he paid no attention to it.

While young he was a disciple of a famous Taoist, So Wha-dam. As
his follower he used to dress in grass cloth (the poor man's garb),
wear straw shoes and carry his bundle on his back. He would be on
familiar terms with Ministers of State, and yet show indifference to
their greatness and pomp. He was acquainted with the various magic
practices, so that in boating he used to hang out gourd cups at each
corner of the boat, and thus equipped he went many times to and from
Quelpart and never met a wind. He did merchandising, made money,
and bought land which yielded several thousand bags of rice that he
distributed among the poor.

He lived in Seoul in a little dug-out, so that his name became "Mud
Pavilion," or To-jong. His cap was made of metal, which he used to
cook his food in, and which he then washed and put back on his head
again. He used also to wear wooden shoes and ride on a pack saddle.

He built a house for the poor in Asan County when he was magistrate
there, gathered in all the needy and had them turn to and work at
whatever they had any skill in, so that they lived and flourished. When
any one had no special ability, he had him weave straw shoes. He
urged them on till they could make as many as ten pairs a day.

Yul-gok said of him that he was a dreamer and not suitable for this
matter-of-fact world, because he belonged to the realm of flowers
and pretty birds, songs and sweet breezes, and not to the common
clay of corn and beef and radishes. To-jong heard this, and replied,
"Though I am not of a kind equal to beans and corn, still I will rank
with acorns and chestnuts. Why am I wholly useless?"


Korea's Record of Famous Men.



The Story

Teacher To-jong was once upon a time a merchant, and in his
merchandising went as far as the East Sea. One night he slept
in a fishing village on the shore. At that time another stranger
called who was said to be an i-in or "holy man." The three met and
talked till late at night--the master of the house, the "holy man"
and To-jong. It was very clear and beautifully calm. The "holy man"
looked for a time out over the expanse of water, then suddenly gave
a great start of terror, and said, "An awful thing is about to happen."

His companions, alarmed at his manner, asked him what he meant. He
replied, "In two hours or so there will be a tidal wave that will
engulf this whole village, utterly destroying everything. If you do
not make haste to escape all will be as fish in a net."

To-jong, being something of an astrologer himself, thought first to
solve the mystery of this, but could arrive at no explanation.

The owner of the house would not believe it, and refused to prepare
for escape.

The "holy man" said, however, "Even though you do not believe what I
say, let us go for a little up the face of the rear mountain. If my
words fail we can only come down again, and no one will be the worse
for it. If you still do not wish to trust me, leave your goods and
furniture just as they are and let the people come away."

To-jong was greatly interested, though he could not understand it. The
master, too, could no longer refuse this proposal, so he took his
family and a few light things and followed the "holy man" up the hill.

He had them ascend to the very top, "in order," said he, "to escape."

To-jong did not go to the top, but seated himself about half-way
up. He asked the "holy man" if he would not be safe enough there.

The "holy man" replied, "Others would never escape if they remained
where you are, but you will simply get a fright and live through it."

When cock-crow came, sure enough the sea suddenly lifted its face,
overflowed its banks, and the waves came rolling up to the heavens,
climbing the mountain-sides till they touched the feet of To-jong. The
whole town on the seashore was engulfed. When daylight came the
waters receded.

To-jong bowed to the "holy man" and asked that he might become his
disciple. The "holy man," however, disclaimed any knowledge, saying
that he had simply known it by accident. He was a man who did not speak
of his own attainments. To-jong asked for his place of residence, which
he indicated as near by, and then left. He went to seek him on the
following day, but the house was vacant, and there was no one there.


Im Bang.



IX

THE VISIT OF THE MAN OF GOD


In the thirty-third year of Mal-yok of the Mings (A.D. 1605), being
the year Eulsa of the reign of Son-jo, in the seventh moon, a great
rain fell, such a rain as had not been seen since the founding of
the dynasty. Before that rain came on, a man of Kang-won Province was
cutting wood on the hill-side. While thus engaged, an angel in golden
armour, riding on a white horse and carrying a spear, came down to
him from heaven. His appearance was most dazzling, and the woodman,
looking at him, recognized him as a Man of God. Also a Buddhist priest,
carrying a staff, came down in his train. The priest's appearance,
too, was very remarkable.

The Man of God stopped his horse and seemed to be talking with the
priest, while the woodcutter, alarmed by the great sight, hid himself
among the trees.

The Man of God seemed to be very angry for some reason or other,
raised his spear, and, pointing to the four winds, said, "I shall
flood all the earth from such a point to such a point, and destroy
the inhabitants thereof."

The priest following cried and prayed him to desist, saying, "This
will mean utter destruction to mortals; please let thy wrath rest
on me." As he prayed thus earnestly the Man of God again said,
"Then shall I limit it to such and such places. Will that do?"

But the priest prayed more earnestly still, till the Man replied
emphatically, "I have lessened the punishment more than a half already
on your account; I can do no more." Though the priest prayed still,
the Man of God refused him, so that at last he submissively said,
"Thy will be done."

They ended thus and both departed, passing away through the upper
air into heaven.

The two had talked for a long time, but the distance being somewhat
great between them and the woodman, he did not hear distinctly all
that was said.

He went home, however, in great haste, and with his wife and family
made his escape, and from that day the rain began to fall. In it
Mount Otai collapsed, the earth beneath it sank until it became a
vast lake, all the inhabitants were destroyed, and the woodcutter
alone made his escape.


Im Bang.



X

THE LITERARY MAN OF IMSIL


[The calling of spirits is one of the powers supposed to be possessed
by disciples of the Old Philosopher (Taoists), who reach a high
state of spiritual attainment. While the natural desires remain
they cloud and obstruct spiritual vision; once rid of them, even
angels and immortal beings become unfolded to the sight. They say,
"If once all the obstructions of the flesh are eliminated even God
can be seen." They also say, "If I have no selfish desire, the night
around me will shine with golden light; and if all injurious thoughts
are truly put away, the wild deer of the mountain will come down and
play beside me."

Ha Sa-gong, a Taoist of high attainment, as an old man used to go
out fishing, when the pigeons would settle in flights upon his head
and shoulders. On his return one day he told his wife that they were
so many that they bothered him. "Why not catch one of them?" said his
wife. "Catch one?" said he. "What would you do with it?" "Why, eat it,
of course." So on the second day Ha went out with this intent in heart,
but no birds came near or alighted on him. All kept a safe distance
high up in mid-air, with doubt and suspicion evident in their flying.]



The Story

In the year 1654 there was a man of letters living in Imsil who
claimed that he could control spirits, and that two demon guards were
constantly at his bidding. One day he was sitting with a friend playing
chess, when they agreed that the loser in each case was to pay a fine
in drink. The friend lost and yet refused to pay his wager, so that the
master said, "If you do not pay up I'll make it hot for you." The man,
however, refused, till at last the master, exasperated, turned his
back upon him and called out suddenly into the upper air some formula
or other, as if he were giving a command. The man dashed off through
the courtyard to make his escape, but an unseen hand bared his body,
and administered to him such a set of sounding blows that they left
blue, seamy marks. Unable to bear the pain of it longer, he yielded,
and then the master laughed and let him go.

At another time he was seated with a friend, while in the adjoining
village a witch koot (exorcising ceremony) was in progress, with drums
and gongs banging furiously. The master suddenly rushed out to the
bamboo grove that stood behind the official yamen, and, looking very
angry and with glaring eyes, he shouted, and made bare his arm as if
to drive off the furies. After a time he ceased. The friend, thinking
this a peculiar performance, asked what it meant. His reply was,
"A crowd of devils have come from the koot, and are congregating in
the grove of bamboos; if I do not drive them off trouble will follow
in the town, and for that cause I shouted."

Again he was making a journey with a certain friend, when suddenly,
on the way, he called out to the mid-air, saying, "Let her go, let
her go, I say, or I'll have you punished severely."

His appearance was so peculiar and threatening that the friend asked
the cause. For the time being he gave no answer, and they simply went
on their way.

That night they entered a village where they wished to sleep, but the
owner of the house where they applied said that they had sickness,
and asked them to go. They insisted, however, till he at last sent a
servant to drive them off. Meanwhile the womenfolk watched the affair
through the chinks of the window, and they talked in startled whispers,
so that the scholar overheard them.

A few minutes later the man of the house followed in the most humble
and abject manner, asking them to return and accept entertainment
and lodging at his house. Said he, "I have a daughter, sir, and she
fell ill this very day and died, and after some time came to life
again. Said she, 'A devil caught me and carried my soul off down the
main roadway, where we met a man, who stopped us, and in fierce tones
drove off the spirit, who let me go, and so I returned to life.' She
looked out on your Excellency through the chink of the window, and,
behold, you are the man. I am at my wits' end to know what to say to
you. Are you a genii or are you a Buddhist, so marvellously to bring
back the dead to life? I offer this small refreshment; please accept."

The scholar laughed, and said, "Nonsense! Just a woman's haverings. How
could I do such things?" He lived for seven or eight years more,
and died.


Im Bang.



XI

THE SOLDIER OF KANG-WHA


[The East says that the air is full of invisible constituents that,
once taken in hand and controlled, will take on various forms of
life. The man of Kang-wha had acquired the art of calling together the
elements necessary for the butterfly. This, too, comes from Taoism,
and is called son-sul, Taoist magic]



The Story

There was a soldier once of Kang-wha who was the chief man of his
village; a low-class man, he was, apparently, without any gifts. One
day his wife, overcome by a fit of jealousy, sat sewing in her inner
room. It was midwinter, and he was obliged to be at home; so, with
intent to cheer her up and take her mind off the blues, he said to her,
"Would you like to see me make some butterflies?"

His wife, more angry than ever at this, rated him for his impudence,
and paid no further attention.

The soldier then took her workbasket and from it selected bits of
silk of various colours, tucked them into his palm, closed his hand
upon them, and repeated a prayer, after which he threw the handful
into the air. Immediately beautiful butterflies filled the room,
dazzling the eyes and shining in all the colours of the silk itself.

The wife, mystified by the wonder of it, forgot her anger. The
soldier a little later opened his hand, held it up, and they all
flew into it. He closed it tight and then again opened his hand,
and they were pieces of silk only. His wife alone saw this; it was
unknown to others. No such strange magic was ever heard of before.

In 1637, when Kang-wha fell before the Manchus, all the people of
the place fled crying for their lives, while the soldier remained
undisturbed at his home, eating his meals with his wife and family
just as usual. He laughed at the neighbours hurrying by. Said he,
"The barbarians will not touch this town; why do you run so?" Thus it
turned out that, while the whole island was devastated, the soldier's
village escaped.


Im Bang.



XII

CURSED BY THE SNAKE


[Ha Yon graduated in the year 1396, and became magistrate of Anak
County. He built many pavilions in and about his official place of
residence, where people might rest. As he went about his district,
seeing the farmers busy, he wrote many songs and verses to encourage
them in their work. He became later a royal censor, and King Tai-jong
commended him, saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Later
he became Chief Justice. He cleared out the public offices of all
disreputable officials, and made the Court clean. When he had leisure
it was his habit to dress in ceremonial garb, burn incense, sit at
attention, and write prayer verses the livelong day.

When he was young, once, in the Court of the Crown Prince, he
wrote a verse which was commented upon thus: "Beautiful writing,
beautiful thought; truly a treasure." He was a great student and a
great inquirer, and grateful and lovable as a friend. He studied as
a boy under the patriot Cheung Mong-ju, and was upright and pure in
all his ways. His object was to become as one of the Ancients, and
so he followed truth, and encouraged men in the study of the sacred
books. He used to awake at first cock-crow of the morning, wash, dress,
and never lay aside his book. On his right were pictures, on his left
were books, and he happy between. He rose to be Prime Minister.]



The Story

The old family seat of Prince Ha Yun was in the County of Keum-chon. He
was a famous Minister of State in the days of peace and prosperity,
and used frequently to find rest and leisure in his summer-house in
this same county. It was a large and well-ordered mansion, and was
occupied by his children for many years after his death.

The people of that county used to tell a very strange story of Ha and
his prosperity, which runs thus: He had placed in an upper room a large
crock that was used to hold flour. One day one of the servants, wishing
to get some flour from the jar, lifted the lid, when suddenly from the
depths of it a huge snake made its appearance. The servant, startled,
fell back in great alarm, and then went and told the master what had
happened. The master sent his men-slaves and had the jar brought
down. They broke it open and let out a huge, awful-looking snake,
such as one had never seen before. Several of the servants joined
in with clubs and killed the brute. They then piled wood on it and
set fire to the whole. Vile fumes arose that filled the house. From
the fumes all the people of the place died, leaving no one behind to
represent the family. Others who entered the house died also, so that
the place became cursed, and was left in desolation. A little later
a mysterious fire broke out and burnt up the remaining buildings,
leaving only the vacant site. To this day the place is known as
"haunted," and no one ventures to build upon it.


Im Bang.



XIII

THE MAN ON THE ROAD


In the Manchu War of 1636, the people of Seoul rushed off in crowds
to make their escape. One party of them came suddenly upon a great
force of the enemy, armed and mounted. The hills and valleys seemed
full of them, and there was no possible way of escape. What to do
they knew not. In the midst of their perplexity they suddenly saw some
one sitting peacefully in the main roadway just in front, underneath
a pine tree, quite unconcerned. He had dismounted from his horse,
which a servant held, standing close by. A screen of several yards
of cotton cloth was hanging up just before him, as if to shield him
from the dust of the passing army.

The people who were making their escape came up to this stranger,
and said imploringly, "We are all doomed to die. What shall we do?"

The mysterious stranger said, "Why should you die? and why are you
so frightened? Sit down by me and see the barbarians go by."

The people, perceiving his mind so composed and his appearance devoid
of fear, and they having no way of escape, did as he bade them and
sat down.

The cavalry of the enemy moved by in great numbers, killing every
one they met, not a single person escaping; but when they reached
the place where the magician sat, they went by without, apparently,
seeing anything. Thus they continued till the evening, when all had
passed by. The stranger and the people with him sat the day through
without any harm overtaking them, even though they were in the midst
of the enemy's camp, as it were.

At last awaking to the fact that he was possessor of some wonderful
magic, they all with one accord came and bowed before him, asking
his name and his place of residence. He made no answer, however,
but mounted his beautiful horse and rode swiftly away, no one being
able to overtake him.

The day following the party fell in with a man who had been captured
but had made his escape. They asked if he had seen anything special
the day before. He said, "When I followed the barbarian army, passing
such and such a point"--indicating the place where the magician had
sat with the people--"we skirted great walls and precipitous rocks,
against which no one could move, and so we passed by."

Thus were the few yards of cotton cloth metamorphosed before the eyes
of the passers-by.


Im Bang.



XIV

THE OLD MAN WHO BECAME A FISH


Some years ago a noted official became the magistrate of Ko-song
County. On a certain day a guest called on him to pay his respects,
and when noon came the magistrate had a table of food prepared for
him, on which was a dish of skate soup. When the guest saw the soup he
twisted his features and refused it, saying, "To-day I am fasting from
meat, and so beg to be excused." His face grew very pale, and tears
flowed from his eyes. The magistrate thought this behaviour strange,
and asked him two or three times the meaning of it. When he could no
longer withhold a reply, he went into all the particulars and told
him the story.

"Your humble servant," he said, "has in his life met with much
unheard-of and unhappy experience, which he has never told to a
living soul, but now that your Excellency asks it of me, I cannot
refrain from telling. Your servant's father was a very old man,
nearly a hundred, when one day he was taken down with a high fever,
in which his body was like a fiery furnace. Seeing the danger he was
in, his children gathered about weeping, thinking that the time of his
departure had surely come. But he lived, and a few days later said to
us, 'I am burdened with so great a heat in this sickness that I am
not able to endure it longer. I would like to go out to the bank of
the river that runs before the house and see the water flowing by,
and be refreshed by it. Do not disobey me now, but carry me out at
once to the water's edge.'

"We remonstrated with him and begged him not to do so, but he grew
very angry, and said, 'If you do not as I command, you will be the
death of me'; and so, seeing that there was no help for it, we bore
him out and placed him on the bank of the river. He, seeing the water,
was greatly delighted, and said, 'The clear flowing water cures my
sickness.' A moment later he said further, 'I'd like to be quite alone
and rid of you all for a little. Go away into the wood and wait till
I tell you to come.'

"We again remonstrated about this, but he grew furiously angry, so
that we were helpless. We feared that if we insisted, his sickness
would grow worse, and so we were compelled to yield. We went a short
distance away and then turned to look, when suddenly the old father
was gone from the place where he had been seated. We hurried back
to see what had happened. My father had taken off his clothes and
plunged into the water, which was muddied. His body was already half
metamorphosed into a skate. We saw its transformation in terror,
and did not dare to go near him, when all at once it became changed
into a great flatfish, that swam and plunged and disported itself
in the water with intense delight. He looked back at us as though he
could hardly bear to go, but a moment later he was off, entered the
deep sea, and did not again appear.

"On the edge of the stream where he had changed his form we found his
finger-nails and a tooth. These we buried, and to-day as a family we
all abstain from skate fish, and when we see the neighbours frying
or eating it we are overcome with disgust and horror."


Im Bang.



XV

THE GEOMANCER


[Yi Eui-sin was a specialist in Geomancy. His craft came into being
evidently as a by-product of Taoism, but has had mixed in it elements
of ancient Chinese philosophy. The Positive and the Negative, the
Two Primary Principles in Nature, play a great part; also the Five
Elements, Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. In the selection of a
site, that for a house is called a "male" choice, while the grave is
denominated the "female" choice.

Millions of money have been expended in Korea on the geomancer and
his associates in the hope of finding lucky homes for the living and
auspicious resting-places for the dead, the Korean idea being that, in
some mysterious way, all our fortune is associated with Mother Earth.]



The Story

There was a geomancer once, Yi Eui-sin, who in seeking out a special
mountain vein, started with the Dragon Ridge in North Ham-kyong
Province, and traced it as far as Pine Mountain in Yang-ju County,
where it stopped in a beautifully rounded end, forming a perfect
site for burial. After wandering all day in the hills, Yi's hungry
spirit cried out for food. He saw beneath the hill a small house, to
which he went, and rapping at the door asked for something to eat. A
mourner, recently bereaved, came out in a respectful and kindly way,
and gave him a dish of white gruel. Yi, after he had eaten, asked what
time the friend had become a mourner, and if he had already passed
the funeral. The owner answered, "I am just now entering upon full
mourning, but we have not yet arranged for the funeral." He spoke in
a sad and disheartened way.

Yi felt sorry for him, and asked the reason. "I wonder if it's because
you are poor that you have not yet made the necessary arrangements,
or perhaps you have not yet found a suitable site! I am an expert
in reading the hills, and I'll tell you of a site; would you care to
see it?"

The mourner thanked him most gratefully, and said, "I'll be delighted
to know of it."

Yi then showed him the end of the great vein that he had just
discovered, also the spot for the grave and how to place its compass
points. "After possessing this site," said he, "you will be greatly
enriched, but in ten years you will have cause to arrange for another
site. When that comes to pass please call me, won't you? In calling
for me just ask for Yi So-pang, who lives in West School Ward, Seoul."

The mourner did as directed, and as the geomancer had foretold, all
his affairs prospered. He built a large tiled house, and ornamented
the grave with great stones as a prosperous and high-minded country
gentleman should do.

After ten years a guest called one day, and saluting him asked, "Is
that grave yonder, beyond the stream, yours?" The master answered,
"It is mine." Then the stranger said, "That is a famous site, but
ten years have passed since you have come into possession of it,
and the luck is gone; why do you not make a change? If you wait too
long you will rue it and may meet with great disaster."

The owner, hearing this, thought of Yi the geomancer, and what he had
said years before. Remembering that, he asked the stranger to remain
as his guest while he went next day to Seoul to look up Yi in West
School Ward. He found him, and told him why he had come.

Yi said, "I already knew of this." So the two journeyed together to the
inquirer's home. When there, they went with the guest up the hill. Yi
asked of the guest, "Why did you tell the master to change the site?"

The guest replied, "This hill is a Kneeling Pheasant formation. If
the pheasant kneels too long it cannot endure it, so that within a
limited time it must fly. Ten years is the time; that's why I spoke."

Yi laughed and said, "Your idea is only a partial view, you have
thought of only one thing, there are other conditions that enter." Then
he showed the peak to the rear, and said, "Yonder is Dog Hill,"
and then one below, "which," said he, "is Falcon Hill," and then the
stream in front, "which," said he, "is Cat River. This is the whole
group, the dog behind, the falcon just above, and the cat in front,
how then can the pheasant fly? It dares not."

The guest replied, "Teacher, surely your eyes are enlightened, and
see further than those of ordinary men."

From that day forth the Yis of Pine Hill became a great and noted
family.


Anon.



XVI

THE MAN WHO BECAME A PIG


[Kim Yu was the son of a country magistrate who graduated with literary
honours in 1596. In 1623 he was one of the faithful courtiers who
joined forces to dethrone the wicked Prince Kwang-hai, and place In-jo
on the throne. He was raised to the rank of Prince and became, later,
Prime Minister. In the year 1624, when Yi Kwal raised an insurrection,
he was the means of putting it down and of bringing many of his
followers to justice. In 1648, he died at the age of seventy-seven.

In the last year of Son-jo the King called his grandchildren together
and had them write Chinese for him and draw pictures. At that time
In-jo was a little boy, and he drew a picture of a horse. King Son-jo
gave the picture to Yi Hang-bok, but when the latter some years later
went into exile he gave the picture to Kim Yu. Kim Yu took it, and
hung it up in his house and there it remained.

Prince In-jo was one day making a journey out of the Palace when he was
overtaken by rain, and took refuge in a neighbouring gate-quarters. A
servant-maid came out and invited him in, asking him not to stand
in the wet, but Prince In-jo declined. The invitation, however, was
insisted on, and he went into the guest-room, where he saw the picture
of a horse on the wall. On examining it carefully he recognized it as
the picture he had drawn when a lad, and he wondered how it could have
come here. Kim Yu then came in and they met for the first time. Prince
In-jo told him how he had been overtaken by rain and invited in. He
asked concerning the picture of the horse that hung on the wall, and
Kim Yu in reply asked why he inquired. Prince In-jo said, "I drew that
picture myself when I was a boy." Just as they spoke together a rich
table of food was brought in from the inner quarters. Kim Yu, not
knowing yet who his guest was, looked with wonder at this surprise,
and after Prince In-jo had gone, he inquired of his wife why she
had sent such delicious fare in to a stranger. The wife replied,
"In a dream last night, I saw the King come and stand in front of our
house. I was just thinking it over when the servant came in and said
that some one was standing before the door. I looked out, and lo,
it was the man I had seen in my dream! so I have treated him to the
best of hospitality that I was able." Kim Yu soon learned who his
caller had been, and became from that time the faithful supporter of
Prince In-jo, and later helped to put him on the throne.

After In-jo became king he asked privately of Kim Yu where he had
got the picture. Kim Yu said, "I got it from Prince Yi Hang-bok."

Kim Yu then called Yi's son and inquired of him as to how his
father had got it. The son said, "In the last year of King Son-jo
he called my father along with all his grandchildren, and showed him
the writings and drawings of the young princes. My father looked at
them with interest, but the King gave him only one as a keepsake,
namely, the drawing of the horse." In the picture there was a willow
tree and a horse tied to it. Kim Yu then recognized the thought that
underlay the gift of the picture, namely, that Prince Yi Hang-bok
should support In-jo in the succession to the throne.]



The Story

A certain Minister of State, called Kim Yu, living in the County of
Seung-pyong, had a relative who resided in a far-distant part of the
country, an old man aged nearly one hundred. On a certain day a son
of this patriarch came to the office of the Minister and asked to
see him. Kim ordered him to be admitted, and inquired as to why he
had come. Said he, "I have something very important to say, a private
matter to lay before your Excellency. There are so many guests with
you now that I'll come again in the evening and tell it."

In the evening, when all had departed, he came, and the Minister
ordered out his personal retainers and asked the meaning of the
call. The man replied, saying, "My father, though very old, was,
as you perhaps know, a strong and hearty man. On a certain day he
called us children to him and said, 'I wish to have a siesta, so now
close the door and all of you go out of the room. Do not let any one
venture in till I call you.'

"We children agreed, of course, and did so. Till late at night there
was neither call nor command to open the door, so that we began to
be anxious. We at last looked through the chink, and lo, there was
our father changed into a huge pig! Terrified by the sight of it we
opened the door and looked in, when the animal grunted and growled
and made a rush to get out past us. We hurriedly closed the door
again and held a consultation.

"Some said, 'Let's keep the pig just as it is, within doors, and
care for it.' Some said, 'Let's have a funeral and bury it.' We
ignorant country-folk not knowing just what to do under such peculiar
circumstances, I have come to ask counsel of your Excellency. Please
think over this startling phenomenon and tell us what we ought to do."

Prince Kim, hearing this, gave a great start, thought it over for
a long time, and at last said, "No such mysterious thing was ever
heard of before, and I really don't know what is best to do under the
circumstances, but still, it seems to me that since this metamorphosis
has come about, you had better not bury it before death, so give up
the funeral idea. Since, too, it is not a human being any longer,
I do not think it right to keep it in the house. You say that it
wants to make its escape, and as a cave in the woods or hills is its
proper abode, I think you had better take it out and let it go free
into the trackless depths of some mountainous country, where no foot
of man has ever trod."

The son accepted this wise counsel, and did as the Minister advised,
took it away into the deep mountains and let it go. Then he donned
sackcloth, mourned, buried his father's clothes for a funeral, and
observed the day of metamorphosis as the day of sacrificial ceremony.


Im Bang.



XVII

THE OLD WOMAN WHO BECAME A GOBLIN


There was a Confucian scholar once who lived in the southern part of
Seoul. It is said that he went out for a walk one day while his wife
remained alone at home. When he was absent there came by begging an
old woman who looked like a Buddhist priestess, for while very old
her face was not wrinkled. The scholar's wife asked her if she knew
how to sew. She said she did, and so the wife made this proposition,
"If you will stay and work for me I'll give you your breakfast and
your supper, and you'll not have to beg anywhere; will you agree?"

She replied, "Oh, thank you so much, I'll be delighted."

The scholar's wife, well satisfied with her bargain, took her in and
set her to picking cotton, and making and spinning thread. In one
day she did more than eight ordinary women, and yet had, seemingly,
plenty of time to spare. The wife, delighted above measure, treated
her to a great feast. After five or six days, however, the feeling
of delight and the desire to treat her liberally and well wore off
somewhat, so that the old woman grew angry and said, "I am tired of
living alone, and so I want your husband for my partner." This being
refused, she went off in a rage, but came back in a little accompanied
by a decrepit old man who looked like a Buddhist beggar.

These two came boldly into the room and took possession, cleared out
the things that were in the ancient tablet-box on the wall-shelf,
and both disappeared into it, so that they were not seen at all,
but only their voices heard. According to the whim that took them
they now ordered eatables and other things. When the scholar's wife
failed in the least particular to please them, they sent plague and
sickness after her, so that her children fell sick and died. Relatives
on hearing of this came to see, but they also caught the plague,
fell ill and died. Little by little no one dared come near the place,
and it became known at last that the wife was held as a prisoner by
these two goblin creatures. For a time smoke was seen by the town-folk
coming out of the chimney daily, and they knew that the wife still
lived, but after five or six days the smoke ceased, and they knew
then that the woman's end had come. No one dared even to make inquiry.


Im Bang.



XVIII

THE GRATEFUL GHOST


It is often told that in the days of the Koryo Dynasty (A.D. 918-1392),
when an examination was to be held, a certain scholar came from a
far-distant part of the country to take part. Once on his journey
the day was drawing to a close, and he found himself among the
mountains. Suddenly he heard a sneezing from among the creepers and
bushes by the roadside, but could see no one. Thinking it strange, he
dismounted from his horse, went into the brake and listened. He heard
it again, and it seemed to come from the roots of the creeper close
beside him, so he ordered his servant to dig round it and see. He dug
and found a dead man's skull. It was full of earth, and the roots of
the creeper had passed through the nostrils. The sneezing was caused by
the annoyance felt by the spirit from having the nose so discommoded.

The candidate felt sorry, washed the skull in clean water, wrapped
it in paper and reburied it in its former place on the hill-side. He
also brought a table of food and offered sacrifice, and said a prayer.

That night, in a dream, a scholar came to him, an old man with white
hair, who bowed, thanked him, and said, "On account of sin committed in
a former life, I died out of season before I had fulfilled my days. My
posterity, too, were all destroyed, my body crumbled back into the
dust, my skull alone remaining, and that is what you found below the
creeper. On account of the root passing through it the annoyance was
great, and I could not help but sneeze. By good luck you and your kind
heart, blessed of Heaven, took pity on me, buried me in a clean place
and gave me food. Your kindness is greater than the mountains, and
like the blessing that first brought me into life. Though my soul is
by no means perfect, yet I long for some way by which to requite your
favour, and so I have exercised my powers in your behalf. Your present
journey is for the purpose of trying the official Examination, so I
shall tell you beforehand what the form is to be, and the subject. It
is to be of character groups of fives, in couplets; the rhyme sound is
'pong,' and the subject 'Peaks and Spires of the Summer Clouds.' I
have already composed one for you, which, if you care to use it,
will undoubtedly win you the first place. It is this--


    'The white sun rode high up in the heavens,
    And the floating clouds formed a lofty peak;
    The priest who saw them asked if there was a temple there,
    And the crane lamented the fact that no pines were visible;
    But the lightnings from the cloud were the flashings of the
                                                          woodman's axe,
    And the muffled thunders were the bell calls of the holy temple.
    Will any say that the hills do not move?
    On the sunset breezes they sailed away.'"


After thus stating it, he bowed and took his departure.

The man, in wonder, awakened from his dream, came up to Seoul; and
behold, the subject was as foretold by the spirit. He wrote what had
been given him, and became first in the honours of the occasion.


Im Bang.



XIX

THE PLUCKY MAIDEN


[Han Myong-hoi.--We are told in the Yol-ryok Keui-sul that when
Han was a boy he had for protector and friend a tiger, who used to
accompany him as a dog does his master. One evening, when he started
off into the hills, he heard the distant tramp of the great beast,
who had got scent of his going, and had come rushing after him. When
Han saw him he turned, and said, "Good old chap, you come all this
distance to be my friend; I love you for it." The tiger prostrated
himself and nodded with his head several times. He used to accompany
Han all through the nights, but when the day dawned he would leave him.

Han later fell into bad company, grew fond of drink, and was one of
the boisterous companions of King Se-jo.]



The Story

Han Myong-hoi was a renowned Minister of the Reign of Se-jo
(A.D. 1455-1468). The King appreciated and enjoyed him greatly, and
there was no one of the Court who could surpass him for influence
and royal favour. Confident in his position, Han did as he pleased,
wielding absolute power. At that time, like grass before the wind, the
world bowed at his coming; no one dared utter a word of remonstrance.

When Han went as governor to Pyong-an Province he did all manner of
lawless things. Any one daring to cross his wishes in the least was
dealt with by torture and death. The whole Province feared him as
they would a tiger.

On a certain day Governor Han, hearing that the Deputy Prefect of
Son-chon had a very beautiful daughter, called the Deputy, and said,
"I hear that you have a very beautiful daughter, whom I would like to
make my concubine. When I am on my official rounds shortly, I shall
expect to stop at your town and take her. So be ready for me."

The Deputy, alarmed, said, "How can your Excellency say that your
servant's contemptible daughter is beautiful? Some one has reported her
wrongly. But since you so command, how can I do but accede gladly?" So
he bowed, said his farewell, and went home.

On his return his family noticed that his face was clouded with
anxiety, and the daughter asked why it was. "Did the Governor call
you, father?" asked she; "and why are you so anxious? Tell me,
please." At first, fearing that she would be disturbed, he did not
reply, but her repeated questions forced him, so that he said, "I am
in trouble on your account," and then told of how the Governor wanted
her for his concubine. "If I had refused I would have been killed,
so I yielded; but a gentleman's daughter being made a concubine is
a disgrace unheard of."

The daughter made light of it and laughed. "Why did you not think
it out better than that, father? Why should a grown man lose his
life for the sake of a girl? Let the daughter go. By losing one
daughter and saving your life, you surely do better than saving your
daughter and losing your life. One can easily see where the greater
advantage lies. A daughter does not count; give her over, that's
all. Don't for a moment think otherwise, just put away your distress
and anxiety. We women, every one of us, are under the ban, and such
things are decreed by Fate. I shall accept without any opposition,
so please have no anxiety. It is settled now, and you, father, must
yield and follow. If you do so all will be well."

The father sighed, and said in reply, "Since you seem so willing,
my mind is somewhat relieved." But from this time on the whole house
was in distress. The girl alone seemed perfectly unmoved, not showing
the slightest sign of fear. She laughed as usual, her light and happy
laugh, and her actions seemed wonderfully free.

In a little the Governor reached Son-chon on his rounds. He then called
the Deputy, and said, "Make ready your daughter for to-morrow and all
the things needed." The Deputy came home and made preparation for the
so-called wedding. The daughter said, "This is not a real wedding; it
is only the taking of a concubine, but still, make everything ready
in the way of refreshments and ceremony as for a real marriage." So
the father did as she requested.

On the day following the Governor came to the house of the Deputy. He
was not dressed in his official robes, but came simply in the dress
and hat of a commoner. When he went into the inner quarters he met the
daughter; she stood straight before him. Her two hands were lifted in
ceremonial form, but instead of holding a fan to hide her face she
held a sword before her. She was very pretty. He gave a great start
of surprise, and asked the meaning of the knife that she held. She
ordered her nurse to reply, who said, "Even though I am an obscure
countrywoman, I do not forget that I am born of the gentry; and though
your Excellency is a high Minister of State, still to take me by force
is an unheard-of dishonour. If you take me as your real and true wife
I'll serve you with all my heart, but if you are determined to take
me as a concubine I shall die now by this sword. For that reason I
hold it. My life rests on one word from your Excellency. Speak it,
please, before I decide."

The Governor, though a man who observed no ceremony and never brooked
a question, when he saw how beautiful and how determined this maiden
was, fell a victim to her at once, and said, "If you so decide, then,
of course, I'll make you my real wife."

Her answer was, "If you truly mean it, then please withdraw and write
out the certificate; send the gifts; provide the goose; dress in
the proper way; come, and let us go through the required ceremony;
drink the pledge-glass, and wed."

The Governor did as she suggested, carried out the forms to the letter,
and they were married.

She was not only a very pretty woman, but upright and true of soul--a
rare person indeed. The Governor took her home, loved her and held
her dear. He had, however, a real wife before and concubines, but he
set them all aside and fixed his affections on this one only. She
remonstrated with him over his wrongs and unrighteous acts, and he
listened and made improvement. The world took note of it, and praised
her as a true and wonderful woman. She counted herself the real wife,
but the first wife treated her as a concubine, and all the relatives
said likewise that she could never be considered a real wife. At
that time King Se-jo frequently, in the dress of a commoner, used
to visit Han's house. Han entertained him royally with refreshments,
which his wife used to bring and offer before him. He called her his
"little sister." On a certain day King Se-jo, as he was accustomed,
came to the house, and while he was drinking he suddenly saw the woman
fall on her face before him. The King in surprise inquired as to what
she could possibly mean by such an act. She then told all the story of
her being taken by force and brought to Seoul. She wept while she said,
"Though I am from a far-distant part of the country I am of the gentry
by ancestry, and my husband took me with all the required ceremonies of
a wife, so that I ought not to be counted a concubine. But there is no
law in this land by which a second real wife may be taken after a first
real wife exists, so they call me a concubine, a matter of deepest
disgrace. Please, your Majesty, take pity on me and decide my case."

The King laughed, and said, "This is a simple matter to settle;
why should my little sister make so great an affair of it, and bow
before me? I will decide your case at once. Come." He then wrote
out with his own hand a document making her a real wife, and her
children eligible for the highest office. He wrote it, signed it,
stamped it and gave it to her.

From that time on she was known as a real wife, in rank and standing
equal to the first one. No further word was ever slightingly spoken,
and her children shared in the affairs of State.


Im Bang.



XX

THE RESOURCEFUL WIFE


In the last year of Yon-san terrible evils were abroad among the
people. Such wickedness as the world had never seen before was
perpetrated, of which his Majesty was the evil genius. He even
gave orders to his eunuchs and underlings to bring to him any women
of special beauty that they might see in the homes of the highest
nobility, and whoever pleased him he used as his own. "Never mind
objections," said he, "take them by force and come." Such were his
orders. No one escaped him. He even went so far as to publish abroad
that Minister So and So's wife preferred him to her husband and would
like to live always in the Palace. It was the common talk of the city,
and people were dumbfounded.

For that reason all hearts forsook him, and because of this he was
dethroned, and King Choong-jong reigned in his stead.

In these days of trouble there was a young wife of a certain minister,
who was very beautiful in form and face. One day it fell about that
she was ordered into the Palace. Other women, when called, would cry
and behave as though their lives were forfeited, but this young woman
showed not the slightest sign of fear. She dressed and went straight
into the Palace. King Yon-san saw her, and ordered her to come close
to him. She came, and then in a sudden manner the most terrible odour
imaginable was noticeable. The King held his fan before his face,
turned aside, spat, and said, "Dear me, I cannot stand this one,
take her away," and so she escaped undefiled.

How it came about was thus: She knew that she was likely to be called
at any moment, and so had planned a ruse by which to escape. Two slices
of meat she had kept constantly on hand, decayed and foul-smelling, but
always ready. She placed these under her arms as she dressed and went
into the Palace, and so provided this awful and unaccountable odour.

All that knew of it praised her bravery and sagacity.


Im Bang.



XXI

THE BOXED-UP GOVERNOR


A certain literary official was at one time Governor of the city of
Kyong-ju. Whenever he visited the Mayor of the place, it was his
custom, on seeing dancing-girls, to tap them on the head with his
pipe, and say, "These girls are devils, ogres, goblins. How can you
tolerate them in your presence?"

Naturally, those who heard this disliked him, and the Mayor himself
detested his behaviour and manners. He sent a secret message to
the dancing-girls, saying, "If any of you, by any means whatever,
can deceive this governor, and put him to shame, I'll reward you
richly." Among them there was one girl, a mere child, who said
she could.

The Governor resided in the quarter of the city where the Confucian
Temple was, and he had but one servant with him, a young lad. The
dancing-girl who had decided to ensnare him, in the dress of a common
woman of the town, used frequently to go by the main gateway of the
Temple, and in going would call the Governor's boy to her. Sometimes
she showed her profile and sometimes she showed her whole form, as she
stood in the gateway. The boy would go out to her and she would speak
to him for a moment or two and then go. She came sometimes once a day,
sometimes twice, and this she kept up for a long time. The Governor
at last inquired of the boy as to who this woman was that came so
frequently to call him.

"She is my sister," said the boy. "Her husband went away on a peddling
round a year or so ago, and has not yet returned; consequently she has
no one else to help her, so she frequently calls and confers with me."

One evening, when the boy had gone to eat his meal and the Governor
was alone, the woman came to the main gateway, and called for the boy.

His Excellency answered for him, and invited her in. When she came,
she blushed, and appeared very diffident, standing modestly aside.

The Governor said, "My boy is absent just now, but I want a smoke;
go and get a light for my pipe, will you, please."

She brought the light, and then he said, "Sit down too, and smoke a
little, won't you?"

She replied, "How could I dare do such a thing?"

He said, "There is no one else here now; never mind."

There being no help for it, she did as he bade her, and smoked a
little. He felt his heart suddenly inclined in her favour, and he said,
"I have seen many beautiful women, but I surely think that you are
the prettiest of them all. Once seeing you, I have quite forgotten
how to eat or sleep. Could you not come to me to live here? I am
quite alone and no one will know it."

She pretended to be greatly scandalized. "Your Excellency is a noble,
and I am a low-class woman; how can you think of such a thing? Do
you mean it as a joke?"

He replied, "I mean it truly, no joke at all." He swore an oath,
saying, "Really I mean it, every word."

She then said, "Since you speak so, I am really very grateful, and
shall come."

Said he, "Meeting you thus is wonderful indeed."

She went on to say, "There is another matter, however, that I wish
to call to your attention. I understand that where your Excellency
is now staying is a very sacred place, and that according to ancient
law men were forbidden to have women here. Is that true?"

The Governor clapped her shoulder, and said, "Well, really now, how
is it that you know of this? You are right. What shall we do about it?"

She made answer, "If you'll depend on me, I'll arrange a plan. My home
is near by, and I am also alone, so if you come quietly at night to me,
we can meet and no one will know. I shall send a felt hat by the boy,
and you can wear that for disguise. With this commoner's felt hat on
no one will know you."

The Governor was greatly delighted, and said, "How is it that you
can plan so wonderfully? I shall do as you suggest. Now you be sure
to be on hand." He repeated this two or three times.

The woman went and entered the house indicated. When evening came
she sent the hat by the boy. The Governor arrived as agreed, and
she received him, lit the lamp, and brought him refreshments and
drink. They talked and drank together, and he called her to come to
him. The woman hesitated for a moment, when suddenly there was a call
heard from the outside, and a great disturbance took place. She bent
her head to listen and then gave a cry of alarm, saying, "That's the
voice of my husband, who has come. I was unfortunate, and so had this
miserable wretch apportioned to my lot. He is the most despicable
among mortals. For murder and arson he has no equal. Three years ago
he left me and I took another husband, and we've had nothing to do
with each other since. I can't imagine why he should come now. He is
evidently very drunk, too, from the sound of his voice. Your Excellency
has really fallen into a terrible plight. What shall I do?"

The woman went out then and answered, saying, "Who comes thus at
midnight to make such a disturbance?"

The voice replied, "Don't you know my voice? Why don't you open
the door?"

She answered, "Are you not Chol-lo (Brass Tiger), and have we not
separated for good, years ago? Why have you come?"

The voice from without answered back, "Your leaving me and taking
another man has always been a matter of deepest resentment on my part;
I have something special to say to you," and he pounded the door open
and came thundering in.

The woman rushed back into the room, saying, "Your Excellency must
escape in some way or other."

In such a little thatched hut there was no place possible for
concealment but an empty rice-box only. "Please get into this,"
said she, and she lifted the lid and hurried him in. The Governor,
in his haste and déshabille, was bundled into the box. He then heard,
from within, this fellow come into the room and quarrel with his
wife. She said, "We have been separated three years already; what
reason have you to come now and make such a disturbance?"

Said he, "You cast me off and took another man, therefore I have come
for the clothes that I left, and the other things that belong to me."

Then she threw out his belongings to him, but he said, pointing to
the box, "That's mine."

She replied, "That's not yours; I bought that myself with two rolls
of silk goods."

"But," said he, "one of those rolls I gave you, and I'm not going to
let you have it."

"Even though you did give it, do you mean to say that for one roll
of silk you will carry away this box? I'll not consent to it." Thus
they quarrelled, and contradicted each other.

"If you don't give me the box," said he, "I'll enter a suit against
you at the Mayor's."

A little later the day dawned, and so he had the box carried off to
the Mayor's office to have the case decided by law, while the woman
followed. When they entered the court, already the Mayor was seated
in the judgment-place, and here they presented their case concerning
the box.

The Mayor, after hearing, decided thus: "Since you each have a
half-share in its purchase, there is nothing for me to do but to
divide it between you. Bring a saw," said he.

The servants brought the saw and began on the box, when suddenly from
the inner regions came forth a cry, "Save me; oh, save me!"

The Mayor, in pretended astonishment, said, "Why, there's a man's
voice from the inside," and ordered that it should be opened. The
servants managed to find the key, and at last the lid came back,
and from the inner quarters there came forth a half-dressed man.

On seeing him the whole place was put into convulsions of laughter,
for it was none other than the Governor.

"How is it that your Excellency finds yourself in this box in this
unaccountable way?" asked the Mayor. "Please come out."

The Governor, huddling himself together as well as he could, climbed on
to the open verandah. He held his head down and nearly died for shame.

The Mayor, splitting his sides with laughter, ordered clothes
to be brought, and the first thing that came was a woman's green
dress-coat. The Governor hastily turned it inside out, slipped it on,
and made a dash for his quarters in the Confucian Temple. That day
he left the place never to return, and even to the present time in
Kyong-ju they laugh and tell the story of the Boxed-up Governor.


Im Bang.



XXII

THE MAN WHO LOST HIS LEGS


There was a merchant in Chong-ju who used to go to Quelpart to buy
seaweed. One time when he drew up on the shore he saw a man shuffling
along on the ground toward the boat. He crept nearer, and at last
took hold of the side with both his hands and jumped in.

"When I looked at him," said the merchant, "I found he was an old man
without any legs. Astonished, I asked, saying, 'How is it, old man,
that you have lost your legs?'

"He said in reply, 'I lost my legs on a trip once when I was
shipwrecked, and a great fish bit them off.'"

"However did that happen?" inquired the merchant. And the old man said,
"We were caught in a gale and driven till we touched on some island
or other. Before us on the shore stood a high castle with a great
gateway. The twenty or so of us who were together in the storm-tossed
boat were all exhausted from cold and hunger, and lying exposed. We
landed and managed to go together to the house. There was in it one man
only, whose height was terrible to behold, and whose chest was many
spans round. His face was black and his eyes large and rolling. His
voice was like the braying of a monster donkey. Our people made
motions showing that they wanted something to eat. The man made no
reply, but securely fastened the front gate. After this he brought
an armful of wood, put it in the middle of the courtyard, and there
made a fire. When the fire blazed up he rushed after us and caught a
young lad, one of our company, cooked him before our eyes, pulled him
to pieces and ate him. We were all reduced to a state of horror, not
knowing what to do. We gazed at each other in dismay and stupefaction.

"When he had eaten his fill, he went up into a verandah and opened
a jar, from which he drank some kind of spirit. After drinking it
he uttered the most gruesome and awful noises; his face grew very
red and he lay down and slept. His snorings were like the roarings
of the thunder. We planned then to make our escape, and so tried to
open the large gate, but one leaf was about twenty-four feet across,
and so thick and heavy that with all our strength we could not move
it. The walls, too, were a hundred and fifty feet high, and so we
could do nothing with them. We were like fish in a pot--beyond all
possible way of escape. We held each other's hands, and cried.

"Among us, one man thought of this plan: We had a knife and he took
it, and while the monster was drunk and asleep, decided to stab his
eyes out, and cut his throat. We said in reply, 'We are all doomed to
death, anyway; let's try,' and we made our way up on to the verandah
and stabbed his eyes. He gave an awful roar, and struck out on all
sides to catch us. We rushed here and there, making our escape out of
the court back into the rear garden. There were in this enclosure pigs
and sheep, about sixty of them in all. There we rushed, in among the
pigs and sheep. He floundered about, waving his two arms after us,
but not one of us did he get hold of; we were all mixed up--sheep,
pigs and people. When he did catch anything it was a sheep; and when
it was not a sheep it was a pig. So he opened the front gate to send
all the animals out.

"We then each of us took a pig or sheep on the back and made straight
for the gate. The monster felt each, and finding it a pig or a sheep
let it go. Thus we all got out and rushed for the boat. A little later
he came and sat on the bank and roared his threatenings at us. A lot
of other giants came at his call. They took steps of thirty feet or
so, came racing after us, caught the boat, and made it fast; but we
took axes and struck at the hands that held it, and so got free at
last and out to the open sea.

"Again a great wind arose, and we ran on to the rocks and were all
destroyed. Every one was engulfed in the sea and drowned; I alone got
hold of a piece of boat-timber and lived. Then there was a horrible
fish from the sea that came swimming after me and bit off my legs. At
last I drifted back home and here I am.

"When I think of it still, my teeth are cold and my bones shiver. My
Eight Lucky Stars are very bad, that's why it happened to me."


Anon.



XXIII

TEN THOUSAND DEVILS


[Han Chun-kyom was the son of a provincial secretary. He matriculated
in the year 1579 and graduated in 1586. He received the last wishes of
King Son-jo, and sat by his side taking notes for seven hours. From
1608 to 1623 he was generalissimo of the army, and later was raised
to the rank of Prince.]



A certain Prince Han of Choong-chong Province had a distant relative
who was an uncouth countryman living in extreme poverty. This relative
came to visit him from time to time. Han pitied his cold and hungry
condition, gave him clothes to wear and shared his food, urging him
to stay and to prolong his visit often into several months. He felt
sorry for him, but disliked his uncouthness and stupidity.

On one of these visits the poor relation suddenly announced his
intention to return home, although the New Year's season was just
at hand. Han urged him to remain, saying, "It would be better for
you to be comfortably housed at my home, eating cake and soup and
enjoying quiet sleep rather than riding through wind and weather at
this season of the year."

He said at first that he would have to go, until his host so
insistently urged on him to stay that at last he yielded and gave
consent. At New Year's Eve he remarked to Prince Han, "I am possessor
of a peculiar kind of magic, by which I have under my control all
manner of evil genii, and New Year is the season at which I call
them up, run over their names, and inspect them. If I did not do so
I should lose control altogether, and there would follow no end of
trouble among mortals. It is a matter of no small moment, and that
is why I wished to go. Since, however, you have detained me, I shall
have to call them up in your Excellency's house and look them over. I
hope you will not object."

Han was greatly astonished and alarmed, but gave his consent. The
poor relation went on to say further, "This is an extremely important
matter, and I would like to have for it your central guest hall."

Han consented to this also, so that night they washed the floors and
scoured them clean. The relation also sat himself with all dignity
facing the south, while Prince Han took up his station on the outside
prepared to spy. Soon he saw a startling variety of demons crushing
in at the door, horrible in appearance and awesome of manner. They
lined up one after another, and still another, and another, till they
filled the entire court, each bowing as he came before the master,
who, at this point, drew out a book, opened it before him, and began
calling off the names. Demon guards who stood by the threshold
repeated the call and checked off the names just as they do in a
government yamen. From the second watch it went on till the fifth
of the morning. Han remarked, "It was indeed no lie when he told me
'ten thousand devils.'"

One late-comer arrived after the marking was over, and still another
came climbing over the wall. The man ordered them to be arrested,
and inquiry made of them under the paddle. The late arrival said,
"I really have had a hard time of it of late to live, and so was
obliged, in order to find anything, to inject smallpox into the home
of a scholar who lives in Yong-nam. It is a long way off, and so I have
arrived too late for the roll-call, a serious fault indeed, I confess."

The one who climbed the wall, said, "I, too, have known want and
hunger, and so had to insert a little typhus into the family of a
gentleman who lives in Kyong-keui, but hearing that roll-call was
due I came helter-skelter, fearing lest I should arrive too late,
and so climbed the wall, which was indeed a sin."

The man then, in a loud voice, rated them soundly, saying,
"These devils have disobeyed my orders, caused disease and sinned
grievously. Worse than everything, they have climbed the wall of a
high official's house." He ordered a hundred blows to be given them
with the paddle, the cangue to be put on, and to have them locked
fast in prison. Then, calling the others to him, he said, "Do not
spread disease! Do you understand?" Three times he ordered it and
five times he repeated it. Then they were all dismissed. The crowd
of devils lined off before him, taking their departure and crushing
out through the gate with no end of noise and confusion. After a long
time they had all disappeared.

Prince Han, looking on during this time, saw the man now seated alone
in the hall. It was quiet, and all had vanished. The cocks crew and
morning came. Han was astonished above measure, and asked as to the
law that governed such work as this. The poor relation said in reply,
"When I was young I studied in a monastery in the mountains. In that
monastery was an old priest who had a most peculiar countenance. A
man feeble and ready to die, he seemed. All the priests made sport of
him and treated him with contempt. I alone had pity on his age, and
often gave him of my food and always treated him kindly. One evening,
when the moon was bright, the old priest said to me, 'There is a
cave behind this monastery from which a beautiful view may be had;
will you not come with me and share it?'

"I went with him, and when we crossed the ridge of the hills into
the stillness of the night he drew a book from his breast and gave
it to me, saying, 'I, who am old and ready to die, have here a great
secret, which I have long wished to pass on to some one worthy. I have
travelled over the wide length of Korea, and have never found the man
till now I meet you, and my heart is satisfied, so please receive it.'

"I opened the book and found it a catalogue list of devils, with magic
writing interspersed, and an explanation of the laws that govern the
spirit world. The old priest wrote out one magic recipe, and having
set fire to it countless devils at once assembled, at which I was
greatly alarmed. He then sat with me and called over the names one
after the other, and said to the devils, 'I am an old man now, am
going away, and so am about to put you under the care of this young
man; obey him and all will be well.'

"I already had the book, and so called them to me, read out the new
orders, and dismissed them.

"The old priest and I returned to the Temple and went to sleep. I awoke
early next morning and went to call on him, but he was gone. Thus I
came into possession of the magic art, and have possessed it for a
score of years and more. What the world knows nothing of I have thus
made known to your Excellency."

Han was astonished beyond measure, and asked, "May I not also come
into possession of this wonderful gift?"

The man replied, "Your Excellency has great ability, and can do
wonderful things; but the possessor of this craft must be one poor and
despised, and of no account. For you, a minister, it would never do."

The next day he left suddenly, and returned no more. Han sent a
servant with a message to him. The servant, with great difficulty,
at last found him alone among a thousand mountain peaks, living in
a little straw hut no bigger than a cockle shell. No neighbours were
there, nor any one beside. He called him, but he refused to come. He
sent another messenger to invite him, but he had moved away and no
trace of him was left.

Prince Han's children had heard this story from himself, and I,
the writer, received it from them.


Im Bang.



XXIV

THE HOME OF THE FAIRIES


In the days of King In-jo (1623-1649) there was a student of Confucius
who lived in Ka-pyong. He was still a young man and unmarried. His
education had not been extensive, for he had read only a little in
the way of history and literature. For some reason or other he left
his home and went into Kang-won Province. Travelling on horseback,
and with a servant, he reached a mountain, where he was overtaken by
rain that wet him through. Mysteriously, from some unknown cause,
his servant suddenly died, and the man, in fear and distress, drew
the body to the side of the hill, where he left it and went on his
way weeping. When he had gone but a short distance, the horse he rode
fell under him and died also. Such was his plight: his servant dead,
his horse dead, rain falling fast, and the road an unknown one. He
did not know what to do or where to go, and reduced thus to walking,
he broke down and cried. At this point there met him an old man with
very wonderful eyes, and hair as white as snow. He asked the young man
why he wept, and the reply was that his servant was dead, his horse
was dead, that it was raining, and that he did not know the way. The
patriarch, on hearing this, took pity on him, and lifting his staff,
pointed, saying, "There is a house yonder, just beyond those pines,
follow that stream and it will bring you to where there are people."

The young man looked as directed, and a li or so beyond he saw a
clump of trees. He bowed, thanked the stranger, and started on his
way. When he had gone a few paces he looked back, but the friend had
disappeared. Greatly wondering, he went on toward the place indicated,
and as he drew near he saw a grove of pines, huge trees they were, a
whole forest of them. Bamboos appeared, too, in countless numbers, with
a wide stream of water flowing by. Underneath the water there seemed
to be a marble flooring like a great pavement, white and pure. As he
went along he saw that the water was all of an even depth, such as
one could cross easily. A mile or so farther on he saw a beautifully
decorated house. The pillars and entrance approaches were perfect in
form. He continued his way, wet as he was, carrying his thorn staff,
and entered the gate and sat down to rest. It was paved, too, with
marble, and smooth as polished glass. There were no chinks or creases
in it, all was of one perfect surface. In the room was a marble table,
and on it a copy of the Book of Changes; there was also a brazier
of jade just in front. Incense was burning in it, and the fragrance
filled the room. Beside these, nothing else was visible. The rain
had ceased and all was quiet and clear, with no wind nor anything to
disturb. The world of confusion seemed to have receded from him.

While he sat there, looking in astonishment, he suddenly heard the
sound of footfalls from the rear of the building. Startled by it, he
turned to see, when an old man appeared. He looked as though he might
equal the turtle or the crane as to age, and was very dignified. He
wore a green dress and carried a jade staff of nine sections. The
appearance of the old man was such as to stun any inhabitant of the
earth. He recognized him as the master of the place, and so he went
forward and made a low obeisance.

The old man received him kindly, and said, "I am the master and have
long waited for you." He took him by the hand and led him away. As they
went along, the hills grew more and more enchanting, while the soft
breezes and the light touched him with mystifying favour. Suddenly, as
he looked the man was gone, so he went on by himself, and arrived soon
at another palace built likewise of precious stones. It was a great
hall, stretching on into the distance as far as the eye could see.

The young man had seen the Royal Palace frequently when in Seoul
attending examinations, but compared with this, the Royal Palace was
as a mud hut thatched with straw.

As he reached the gate a man in ceremonial robes received him and
led him in. He passed two or three pavilions, and at last reached a
special one and went up to the upper storey. There, reclining at a
table, he saw the ancient sage whom he had met before. Again he bowed.

This young man, brought up poorly in the country, was never accustomed
to seeing or dealing with the great. In fear, he did not dare to lift
his eyes. The ancient master, however, again welcomed him and asked
him to be seated, saying, "This is not the dusty world that you are
accustomed to, but the abode of the genii. I knew you were coming,
and so was waiting to receive you." He turned and called, saying,
"Bring something for the guest to eat."

In a little a servant brought a richly laden table. It was such fare
as was never seen on earth, and there was abundance of it. The young
man, hungry as he was, ate heartily of these strange viands. Then the
dishes were carried away and the old man said, "I have a daughter who
has arrived at a marriageable age, and I have been trying to find a
son-in-law, but as yet have not succeeded. Your coming accords with
this need. Live here, then, and become my son-in-law." The young man,
not knowing what to think, bowed and was silent. Then the host turned
and gave an order, saying, "Call in the children."

Two boys about twelve or thirteen years of age came running in and sat
down beside him. Their faces were so beautifully white they seemed
like jewels. The master pointed to them and said to the guest,
"These are my sons," and to the sons he said, "This young man is
he whom I have chosen for my son-in-law; when should we have the
wedding? Choose you a lucky day and let me know."

The two boys reckoned over the days on their fingers, and then together
said, "The day after to-morrow is a lucky day."

The old man, turning to the stranger, said, "That decides as to the
wedding, and now you must wait in the guest-chamber till the time
arrives." He then gave a command to call So and So. In a little
an official of the genii came forward, dressed in light and airy
garments. His appearance and expression were very beautiful, a man,
he seemed, of glad and happy mien.

The master said, "Show this young man the way to his apartments and
treat him well till the time of the wedding."

The official then led the way, and the young man bowed as he left
the room. When he had passed outside the gate, a red sedan chair was
in waiting for him. He was asked to mount. Eight bearers bore him
smoothly along. A mile or so distant they reached another palace,
equally wonderful, with no speck or flaw of any kind to mar its
beauty. In graceful groves of flowers and trees he descended to enter
his pavilion. Beautiful garments were taken from jewelled boxes, and
a perfumed bath was given him and a change made. Thus he laid aside
his weather-beaten clothes and donned the vestments of the genii. The
official remained as company for him till the appointed time.

When that day arrived other beautiful robes were brought, and
again he bathed and changed. When he was dressed, he mounted the
palanquin and rode to the Palace of the master, twenty or more
officials accompanying. On arrival, a guide directed them to the
special Palace Beautiful. Here he saw preparations for the wedding,
and here he made his bow. This finished he moved as directed, further
in. The tinkling sound of jade bells and the breath of sweet perfumes
filled the air. Thus he made his entry into the inner quarters.

Many beautiful women were in waiting, all gorgeously apparelled,
like the women of the gods. Among these he imagined that he would
meet the master's daughter. In a little, accompanied by a host of
others, she came, shining in jewels and beautiful clothing so that
she lighted up the Palace. He took his stand before her, though her
face was hidden from him by a fan of pearls. When he saw her at last,
so beautiful was she that his eyes were dazzled. The other women,
compared with her, were as the magpie to the phoenix. So bewildered was
he that he dared not look up. The friend accompanying assisted him to
bow and to go through the necessary forms. The ceremony was much the
same as that observed among men. When it was over the young man went
back to his bridegroom's chamber. There the embroidered curtains,
the golden screens, the silken clothing, the jewelled floor, were
such as no men of earth ever see.

On the second day his mother-in-law called him to her. Her age would be
about thirty, and her face was like a freshly-blown lotus flower. Here
a great feast was spread, with many guests invited. The accompaniments
thereof in the way of music were sweeter than mortals ever dreamed
of. When the feast was over, the women caught up their skirts, and,
lifting their sleeves, danced together and sang in sweet accord. The
sound of their singing caused even the clouds to stop and listen. When
the day was over, and all had well dined, the feast broke up.

A young man, brought up in a country hut, had all of a sudden met
the chief of the genii, and had become a sharer in his glory and
the accompaniments of his life. His mind was dazed and his thoughts
overcame him. Doubts were mixed with fears. He knew not what to do.

A sharer in the joys of the fairies he had actually become, and a
year or so passed in such delight as no words can ever describe.

One day his wife said to him, "Would you like to enter into the inner
enclosure and see as the fairies see?"

He replied, "Gladly would I."

She then led him into a special park where there were lovely walks,
surrounded by green hills. As they advanced there were charming
views, with springs of water and sparkling cascades. The scene grew
gradually more entrancing, with jewelled flowers and scintillating
spray, lovely birds and animals disporting themselves. A man once
entering here would never again think of earth as a place to return to.

After seeing this he ascended the highest peak of all, which was
like a tower of many stories. Before him lay a wide stretch of sea,
with islands of the blessed standing out of the water, and long
stretches of pleasant land in view. His wife showed them all to him,
pointing out this and that. They seemed filled with golden palaces and
surrounded with a halo of light. They were peopled with happy souls,
some riding on cranes, some on the phoenix, some on the unicorn; some
were sitting on the clouds, some sailing by on the wind, some walking
on the air, some gliding gently up the streams, some descending from
above, some ascending, some moving west, some north, some gathering
in groups. Flutes and harps sounded sweetly. So many and so startling
were the things seen that he could never tell the tale of them. After
the day had passed they returned.

Thus was their joy unbroken, and when two years had gone by she bore
him two sons.

Time moved on, when one day, unexpectedly, as he was seated with
his wife, he began to cry and tears soiled his face. She asked in
amazement for the cause of it. "I was thinking," said he, "of how
a plain countryman living in poverty had thus become the son-in-law
of the king of the genii. But in my home is my poor old mother, whom
I have not seen for these years; I would so like to see her that my
tears flow."

The wife laughed, and said, "Would you really like to see her? Then go,
but do not cry." She told her father that her husband would like to go
and see his mother. The master called him and gave his permission. The
son thought, of course, that he would call many servants and send
him in state, but not so. His wife gave him one little bundle and
that was all, so he said good-bye to his father-in-law, whose parting
word was, "Go now and see your mother, and in a little I shall call
for you again."

He sent with him one servant, and so he passed out through the main
gateway. There he saw a poor thin horse with a worn rag of a saddle
on his back. He looked carefully and found that they were the dead
horse and the dead servant, whom he had lost, restored to him. He
gave a start, and asked, "How did you come here?"

The servant answered, "I was coming with you on the road when some
one caught me away and brought me here. I did not know the reason,
but I have been here for a long time."

The man, in great fear, fastened on his bundle and started on his
journey. The genie servant brought up the rear, but after a short
distance the world of wonder had become transformed into the old weary
world again. Here it was with its fogs, and thorn, and precipice. He
looked off toward the world of the genii, and it was but a dream. So
overcome was he by his feelings that he broke down and cried.

The genie servant said to him when he saw him weeping, "You have been
for several years in the abode of the immortals, but you have not yet
attained thereto, for you have not yet forgotten the seven things of
earth: anger, sorrow, fear, ambition, hate and selfishness. If you
once get rid of these there will be no tears for you." On hearing
this he stopped his crying, wiped his cheeks, and asked pardon.

When he had gone a mile farther he found himself on the main road. The
servant said to him, "You know the way from this point on, so I shall
go back," and thus at last the young man reached his home.

He found there an exorcising ceremony in progress. Witches and spirit
worshippers had been called and were saying their prayers. The family,
seeing the young man come home thus, were all aghast. "It is his
ghost," said they. However, they saw in a little that it was really
he himself. The mother asked why he had not come home in all that
time. She being a very violent woman in disposition, he did not dare to
tell her the truth, so he made up something else. The day of his return
was the anniversary of his supposed death, and so they had called the
witches for a prayer ceremony. Here he opened the bundle that his wife
had given him and found four suits of clothes, one for each season.

In about a year after his return home the mother, seeing him alone,
made application for the daughter of one of the village literati. The
man, being timid by nature and afraid of offending his mother, did
not dare to refuse, and was therefore married; but there was no joy
in it, and the two never looked at each other.

The young man had a friend whom he had known intimately from
childhood. After his return the friend came to see him frequently,
and they used to spend the nights talking together. In their talks the
friend inquired why in all these years he had never come home. The
young man then told him what had befallen him in the land of the
genii, and how he had been there and had been married. The friend
looked at him in wonder, for he seemed just as he had remembered him
except in the matter of clothing. This he found on examination was
of very strange material, neither grass cloth, silk nor cotton, but
different from them all, and yet warm and comfortable. When spring
came the spring clothes sufficed, when summer came those for summer,
and for autumn and winter each special suit. They were never washed,
and yet never became soiled; they never wore out, and always looked
fresh and new. The friend was greatly astonished.

Some three years passed when one day there came once more a servant
from the master of the genii, bringing his two sons. There were
also letters, saying, "Next year the place where you dwell will be
destroyed and all the people will become 'fish and meat' for the enemy,
therefore follow this messenger and come, all of you."

He told his friend of this and showed him his two sons. The friend,
when he saw these children that looked like silk and jade, confessed
the matter to the mother also. She, too, gladly agreed, and so they
sold out and had a great feast for all the people of the town, and
then bade farewell. This was the year 1635. They left and were never
heard of again.

The year following was the Manchu invasion, when the village where
the young man had lived was all destroyed. To this day young and old
in Ka-pyong tell this story.


Im Bang.



XXV

THE HONEST WITCH


[Song Sang-in matriculated in 1601. He was a just man, and feared by
the dishonest element of the Court. In 1605 he graduated and became
a provincial governor. He nearly lost his life in the disturbances of
the reign of King Kwang-hai, and was exiled to Quelpart for a period
of ten years, but in the spring of 1623 he was recalled.]



The Story

There was a Korean once, called Song Sang-in, whose mind was upright
and whose spirit was true. He hated witches with all his might, and
regarded them as deceivers of the people. "By their so-called prayers,"
said he, "they devour the people's goods. There is no limit to the
foolishness and extravagance that accompanies them. This doctrine of
theirs is all nonsense. Would that I could rid the earth of them and
wipe out their names for ever."

Some time later Song was appointed magistrate of Nam Won County in
Chulla Province. On his arrival he issued the following order: "If
any witch is found in this county, let her be beaten to death." The
whole place was so thoroughly spied upon that all the witches made
their escape to other prefectures. The magistrate thought, "Now we
are rid of them, and that ends the matter for this county at any rate."

On a certain day he went out for a walk, and rested for a time at
Kwang-han Pavilion. As he looked out from his coign of vantage,
he saw a woman approaching on horseback with a witch's drum on her
head. He looked intently to make sure, and to his astonishment he
saw that she was indeed a mutang (witch). He sent a yamen-runner
to have her arrested, and when she was brought before him he asked,
"Are you a mutang?"

She replied, "Yes, I am."

"Then," said he, "you did not know of the official order issued?"

"Oh yes, I heard of it," was her reply.

He then asked, "Are you not afraid to die, that you stay here in
this county?"

The mutang bowed, and made answer, "I have a matter of complaint to
lay before your Excellency to be put right; please take note of it
and grant my request. It is this: There are true mutangs and false
mutangs. False mutangs ought to be killed, but you would not kill an
honest mutang, would you? Your orders pertain to false mutangs; I do
not understand them as pertaining to those who are true. I am an honest
mutang; I knew you would not kill me, so I remained here in peace."

The magistrate asked, "How do you know that there are honest mutangs?"

The woman replied, "Let's put the matter to the test and see. If I
am not proven honest, let me die."

"Very well," said the magistrate; "but can you really make good,
and do you truly know how to call back departed spirits?"

The mutang answered, "I can."

The magistrate suddenly thought of an intimate friend who had been
dead for some time, and he said to her, "I had a friend of such and
such rank in Seoul; can you call his spirit back to me?"

The mutang replied, "Let me do so; but first you must prepare food,
with wine, and serve it properly."

The magistrate thought for a moment, and then said to himself, "It
is a serious matter to take a person's life; let me find out first
if she is true or not, and then decide." So he had the food brought.

The mutang said also, "I want a suit of your clothes, too,
please." This was brought, and she spread her mat in the courtyard,
placed the food in order, donned the dress, and so made all preliminary
arrangements. She then lifted her eyes toward heaven and uttered the
strange magic sounds by which spirits are called, meanwhile shaking
a tinkling bell. In a little she turned and said, "I've come." Then
she began telling the sad story of his sickness and death and
their separation. She reminded the magistrate of how they had played
together, and of things that had happened when they were at school at
their lessons; of the difficulties they had met in the examinations;
of experiences that had come to them during their terms of office. She
told secrets that they had confided to each other as intimate friends,
and many matters most definitely that only they two knew. Not a single
mistake did she make, but told the truth in every detail.

The magistrate, when he heard these things, began to cry, saying,
"The soul of my friend is really present; I can no longer doubt or
deny it." Then he ordered the choicest fare possible to be prepared
as a sacrifice to his friend. In a little the friend bade him farewell
and took his departure.

The magistrate said, "Alas! I thought mutangs were a brood of liars,
but now I know that there are true mutangs as well as false." He
gave her rich rewards, sent her away in safety, recalled his order
against witches, and refrained from any matters pertaining to them
for ever after.


Im Bang.



XXVI

WHOM THE KING HONOURS


In the days of King Se-jong students of the Confucian College were
having a picnic to celebrate the Spring Festival. They met in a wood
to the north of the college, near a beautiful spring of water, and were
drinking and feasting the night through. While they were thus enjoying
themselves the rooms of the college were left deserted. One student
from the country, a backwoodsman in his way, who was of no account to
others, thought that while the rest went away to enjoy themselves some
one ought to stay behind to guard the sacred precincts of the temple;
so he decided that he would forgo the pleasures of the picnic, stay
behind and watch.

The King at that time sent a eunuch to the college to see how many of
the students had remained on guard. The eunuch returned, saying that
all had gone off on the picnic, except one man, a raw countryman,
who was in sole charge. The King at once sent for the man, asking
him to come just as he was in his common clothes.

On his arrival his Majesty asked, "When all have gone off for a gay
time, why is it that you remain alone?"

He replied, "I, too, would like to have gone, but to leave the sacred
temple wholly deserted did not seem to me right, so I stayed."

The King was greatly pleased with this reply, and asked again,
"Do you know how to write verses?"

The reply was, "I know only very little about it."

The King then said, "I have one-half of a verse here which runs thus--


    'After the rains the mountains weep.'


You write me a mate for this line to go with it."

At once the student replied--


    "Before the wind the grass is tipsy."


The King, delighted, praised him for his skill and made him a special
graduate on the spot, gave him his diploma, flowers for his hat,
and issued a proclamation saying that he had passed the Al-song
Examination. At once he ordered for him the head-gear, the red coat,
a horse to ride on, two boys to go before, flute-players and harpers,
saying, "Go now to the picnic-party and show yourself."

While the picnickers were thus engaged, suddenly they heard the sound
of flutes and harps, and they questioned as to what it could mean. This
was not the time for new graduates to go abroad. While they looked,
behold, here came a victorious candidate, dressed in ceremonial robes,
heralded by boys, and riding on the King's palfrey, to greet them. On
closer view they saw that it was the uncouth countryman whom they had
left behind at the Temple. They asked what it meant, and then learned,
to their amazement, that the King had so honoured him. The company,
in consternation and surprise, broke up and returned home at once.

This special graduate became later, through the favour of the King,
a great and noted man.


Im Bang.



XXVII

THE FORTUNES OF YOO


There was a man of Yong-nam, named Yoo, who lived in the days of
Se-jong. He had studied the classics, had passed his examinations,
and had become a petty official attached to the Confucian College. He
was not even of the sixth degree, so that promotion was out of the
question. He was a countryman who had no friends and no influence,
and though he had long been in Seoul there was no likelihood of any
advancement. Such being the case, disheartened and lonely, he decided
to leave the city and go back to his country home.

There was a palace secretary who knew this countryman, and who went
to say good-bye to him before he left.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, the countryman said, "I have
long been in Seoul, but have never yet seen the royal office of the
secretaries. Might I accompany you some day when you take your turn?"

The secretary said, "In the daytime there is always a crowd of people
who gather there for business, and no one is allowed in without a
special pass. I am going in to-morrow, however, and intend to sleep
there, so that in the evening we could have a good chance to look the
Palace over. People are not allowed to sleep in the Palace as a rule,
but doing so once would not be specially noticed." The secretary then
gave orders to the military guard who accompanied him to escort this
man in the next day.

As the secretary had arranged, the countryman, on the evening
following, made his way into the Palace enclosure, but what was his
surprise to find that, for some reason or other, the secretary had not
come. The gates, also, were closed behind him, so that he could not
get out. Really he was in a fix. There chanced to be a body-servant
of the secretary in the room, and he, feeling sorry for the stranger,
arranged a hidden corner where he might pass the night, and then
quietly take his departure in the morning.

The night was beautifully clear, and apparently every one slept but
Yoo. He was wide awake, and wondering to himself if he might not go
quietly out and see the place.

It was the time of the rainy season, and a portion of the wall had
fallen from the enclosure just in front. So Yoo climbed over this
broken wall, and, not knowing where he went, found himself suddenly in
the royal quarters. It was a beautiful park, with trees, and lakes,
and walks. "Whose house is this," thought Yoo, "with its beautiful
garden?" Suddenly a man appeared, with a nice new cap on his head,
carrying a staff in his hand, and accompanied by a servant, walking
slowly towards him. It was no other than King Se-jong, taking a stroll
in the moonlight with one of his eunuchs.

When they met Yoo had no idea that it was the King. His Majesty asked,
"Who are you, and how did you get in here?"

He told who he was, and how he had agreed to come in with the
secretary; how the secretary had failed; how the gates were shut
and he was a prisoner for the night; how he had seen the bright
moonlight and wished to walk out, and, finding the broken wall,
had come over. "Whose house is this, anyway?" asked Yoo.

The King replied, "I am the master of this house." His Majesty then
asked him in, and made him sit down on a mat beside him. So they talked
and chatted together. The King learned that he had passed special
examinations in the classics, and inquiring how it was that Yoo had
had no better office, Yoo replied that he was an unknown countryman,
that his family had no influence, and that, while he desired office,
he was forestalled by the powerful families of the capital. "Who is
there," he asked, "that would bother himself about me? Thus all my
hopes have failed, and I have just decided to leave the city and go
back home and live out my days there."

The King asked again, "You know the classics so well, do you know
something also of the Book of Changes?"

He replied, "The deeper parts I do not know, but the easier parts
only."

Then the King ordered a eunuch to bring the Book of Changes. It was the
time when his Majesty was reading it for himself. The book was brought
and opened in the moonlight. The King looked up a part that had given
him special difficulty, and this the stranger explained character by
character, giving the meaning with convincing clearness. The King
was delighted and wondered greatly, and so they read together all
through the night. When they separated the King said, "You have all
this knowledge and yet have never been made use of? Alas, for my
country!" said he, sighing.

Yoo remarked that he would like to go straight home now, if the master
would kindly open the door for him.

The King said, however, that it was too early yet, and that he
might be arrested by the guards who were about. "Go then," said he,
"to where you were, and when it is broad daylight you can go through
the open gate."

Yoo then bade good-bye, and went back over the broken wall to his
corner in the secretary's room. When morning came he went out through
the main gateway and returned to his home.

On the following day the King sent a special secretary and had Yoo
appointed to the office of Overseer of Literature. On the promulgation
of this the officials gathered in the public court, and protested
in high dudgeon against so great an office being given to an unknown
person.

His Majesty, however, said, "If you are so opposed to it, I'll desist."

But the day following he appointed him to an office one degree still
higher. Again they all protested, and his Majesty said, "Really,
if you so object, I'll drop the matter."

The day following he appointed him to an office still one degree
higher. Again they all protested and he apparently yielded to them. But
the day following higher still he was promoted, and again the protests
poured in, so much so that his Majesty seemed to yield. On the day
following this the King wrote out for him the office of Vice-President
of all the Literati.

The high officials gathered again and inquired of one another as
to what the King meant, and what they had better do about it. "If
we do not in some way prevent it, he will appoint him as President
of the Literati." They decided to drop the matter for the present,
and see later what was best to do.

A royal banquet was announced to take place, when all the officials
gathered. On this occasion the high Ministers of State said quietly
to the King, "It is not fitting that so obscure a person have so
important an office. Your Majesty's promoting him as you have done
has thrown the whole official body into a state of consternation. On
our protest you have merely promoted him more. What is your Majesty's
reason, please, for this action?"

The King made no reply, but ordered a eunuch to bring the Book
of Changes. He opened it at the place of special difficulty, and
inquired as to its meaning. Even among the highest ministers not
one could give an answer. He inquired by name of this one and that,
but all were silent. The King then said, "I am greatly interested
in the reading of the Book of Changes; it is the great book of the
sages. Any one who understands it surely ought to be promoted. You,
all of you, fail to grasp its meaning, while Yoo, whom you protest
against, has explained it all to me. Now what have you to say? Yoo's
being promoted thus is just as it ought to be. Why do you object? I
shall promote him still more and more, so cease from all opposition."

They were afraid and ashamed, and did not again mention it.

Yoo from that time on became the royal teacher of the Choo-yuk (Book
of Changes), and rose higher and higher in rank, till he became Head
of the Confucian College and first in influence, surpassing all.



Note.--Many people of ability have no chance for promotion. It is
difficult to have one's gifts known in high places; how much more
difficult before a king? The good fortune that fell to the first
scholar was of God's appointment. By caring for a vacant house the
honour came to him, and he was promoted. The other's going thus
unbidden into the Palace was a great wrong, but by royal favour he
was pardoned, received and honoured.

By one line of poetry a man's ability was made manifest, and by
one explanation of the Choo-yuk another's path was opened to high
promotion.

If Se-jong had not been a great and enlightened king, how could it
have happened? Very rare are such happenings, indeed! So all men
wondered over what had befallen these two. I, however, wondered more
over the King's sagacity in finding them. To my day his virtue and
accomplishments are known, so that the world calls him Korea's King
of the Golden Age.


Im Bang.



XXVIII

AN ENCOUNTER WITH A HOBGOBLIN


I got myself into trouble in the year Pyong-sin, and was locked up; a
military man by the name of Choi Won-so, who was captain of the guard,
was involved in it and locked up as well. We often met in prison and
whiled away the hours talking together. On a certain day the talk
turned on goblins, when Captain Choi said, "When I was young I met
with a hobgoblin, which, by the fraction of a hair, almost cost me
my life. A strange case indeed!"

I asked him to tell me of it, when he replied, "I had originally no
home in Seoul, but hearing of a vacant place in Belt Town, I made
application and got it. We went there, my father and the rest of the
family occupying the inner quarters, while I lived in the front room.

"One night, late, when I was half asleep, the door suddenly opened,
and a woman came in and stood just before the lamp. I saw her clearly,
and knew that she was from the home of a scholar friend, for I had
seen her before and had been greatly attracted by her beauty, but had
never had a chance to meet her. Now, seeing her enter the room thus,
I greeted her gladly, but she made no reply. I arose to take her by
the hand, when she began walking backwards, so that my hand never
reached her. I rushed towards her, but she hastened her backward pace,
so that she eluded me. We reached the gate, which she opened with a
rear kick, and I followed on after, till she suddenly disappeared. I
searched on all sides, but not a trace was there of her. I thought
she had merely hidden herself, and never dreamed of anything else.

"On the next night she came again and stood before the lamp just as
she had done the night previous. I got up and again tried to take
hold of her, but again she began her peculiar pace backwards, till
she passed out at the gate and disappeared just as she had done the
day before. I was once more surprised and disappointed, but did not
think of her being a hobgoblin.

"A few days later, at night, I had lain down, when suddenly there
was a sound of crackling paper overhead from above the ceiling. A
forbidding, creepy sound it seemed in the midnight. A moment later
a curtain was let down that divided the room into two parts. Again,
later, a large fire of coals descended right in front of me, while an
immense heat filled the place. Where I was seemed all on fire, with
no way of escape possible. In terror for my life, I knew not what to
do. On the first cock-crow of morning the noise ceased, the curtain
went up, and the fire of coals was gone. The place was as though
swept with a broom, so clean from every trace of what had happened.

"The following night I was again alone, but had not yet undressed
or lain down, when a great stout man suddenly opened the door and
came in. He had on his head a soldier's felt hat, and on his body
a blue tunic like one of the underlings of the yamen. He took hold
of me and tried to drag me out. I was then young and vigorous, and
had no intention of yielding to him, so we entered on a tussle. The
moon was bright and the night clear, but I, unable to hold my own,
was pulled out into the court. He lifted me up and swung me round
and round, then went up to the highest terrace and threw me down,
so that I was terribly stunned. He stood in front of me and kept
me a prisoner. There was a garden to the rear of the house, and a
wall round it. I looked, and within the wall were a dozen or so of
people. They were all dressed in military hats and coats, and they
kept shouting out, 'Don't hurt him, don't hurt him.'

"The man that mishandled me, however, said in reply, 'It's none of
your business, none of your business'; but they still kept up the cry,
'Don't hurt him, don't hurt him'; and he, on the other hand, cried,
'Never you mind; none of your business.' They shouted, 'The man is
a gentleman of the military class; do not hurt him.'

"The fellow merely said in reply, 'Even though he is, it's none of
your business'; so he took me by the two hands and flung me up into
the air, till I went half-way and more to heaven. Then in my fall I
went shooting past Kyong-keui Province, past Choong-chong, and at last
fell to the ground in Chulla. In my flight through space I saw all the
county towns of the three provinces as clear as day. Again in Chulla
he tossed me up once more. Again I went shooting up into the sky and
falling northward, till I found myself at home, lying stupefied below
the verandah terrace. Once more I could hear the voices of the group
in the garden shouting, 'Don't hurt him--hurt him.' But the man said,
'None of your business--your business.'

"He took me up once more and flung me up again, and away I went
speeding off to Chulla, and back I came again, two or three times
in all.

"Then one of the group in the garden came forward, took my tormentor
by the hand and led him away. They all met for a little to talk and
laugh over the matter, and then scattered and were gone, so that they
were not seen again.

"I lay motionless at the foot of the terrace till the following
morning, when my father found me and had me taken in hand and cared
for, so that I came to, and we all left the haunted house, never to
go back."



Note.--There are various reasons by which a place may be denominated
a "haunted house." The fact that there are hobgoblins in it makes it
haunted. If a good or "superior man" enters such a place the goblins
move away, and no word of being haunted will be heard. Choi saw the
goblin and was greatly injured.

I understand that it is not only a question of men fearing the goblins,
but they also fear men. The fact that there are so few people that
they fear is the saddest case of all. Choi was afraid of the goblins,
that is why they troubled him.


Im Bang.



XXIX

THE SNAKE'S REVENGE


There lived in ancient days an archer, whose home was near the
Water Gate of Seoul. He was a man of great strength and famous for
his valour.

Water Gate has reference to a hole under the city wall, by which the
waters of the Grand Canal find their exit. In it are iron pickets to
prevent people's entering or departing by that way.

On a certain afternoon when this military officer was taking a walk,
a great snake was seen making its way by means of the Water Gate. The
snake's head had already passed between the bars, but its body, being
larger, could not get through, so there it was held fast. The soldier
drew an arrow, and, fitting it into the string, shot the snake in the
head. Its head being fatally injured, the creature died. The archer
then drew it out, pounded it into a pulp, and left it.

A little time later the man's wife conceived and bore a son. From the
first the child was afraid of its father, and when it saw him it used
to cry and seem greatly frightened. As it grew it hated the sight of
its father more and more. The man became suspicious of this, and so,
instead of loving his son, he grew to dislike him.

On a certain day, when there were just the two of them in the room,
the officer lay down to have a midday siesta, covering his face with
his sleeve, but all the while keeping his eye on the boy to see what
he would do. The child glared at his father, and thinking him asleep,
got a knife and made a thrust at him. The man jumped, grabbed the
knife, and then with a club gave the boy a blow that left him dead
on the spot. He pounded him into a pulp, left him and went away. The
mother, however, in tears, covered the little form with a quilt and
prepared for its burial. In a little the quilt began to move, and she
in alarm raised it to see what had happened, when lo! beneath it the
child was gone and there lay coiled a huge snake instead. The mother
jumped back in fear, left the room and did not again enter.

When evening came the husband returned and heard the dreadful story
from his wife. He went in and looked, and now all had metamorphosed
into a huge snake. On the head of it was the scar mark of the arrow
that he had shot. He said to the snake, "You and I were originally
not enemies, I therefore did wrong in shooting you as I did; but your
intention to take revenge through becoming my son was a horrible
deed. Such a thing as this is proof that my suspicions of you were
right and just. You became my son in order to kill me, your father;
why, therefore, should I not in my turn kill you? If you attempt
it again, it will certainly end in my taking your life. You have
already had your revenge, and have once more transmigrated into your
original shape, let us drop the past and be friends from now on. What
do you say?"

He repeated this over and urged his proposals, while the snake with
bowed head seemed to listen intently. He then opened the door and
said, "Now you may go as you please." The snake then departed, making
straight for the Water Gate, and passed out between the bars. It did
not again appear.



Note.--Man is a spiritual being, and different from all other
created things, and though a snake has power of venom, it is still an
insignificant thing compared with a man. The snake died, and by means
of the transmigration of its soul took its revenge. Man dies, but I
have never heard that he can transmigrate as the snake did. Why is it
that though a spiritual being he is unable to do what beasts do? I have
seen many innocent men killed, but not one of them has ever returned
to take his revenge on the lawless one who did it, and so I wonder
more than ever over these stories of the snake. The Superior Man's
knowing nothing of the law that governs these things is a regret to me.


Im Bang.



XXX

THE BRAVE MAGISTRATE


In olden times in one of the counties of North Ham-kyong Province,
there was an evil-smelling goblin that caused great destruction to
life. Successive magistrates appeared, but in ten days or so after
arrival, in each case they died in great agony, so that no man wished
to have the billet or anything to do with the place. A hundred or
more were asked to take the post, but they all refused. At last one
brave soldier, who was without any influence socially or politically,
accepted. He was a courageous man, strong and fearless. He thought,
"Even though there is a devil there, all men will not die, surely. I
shall make a trial of him." So he said his farewell, and entered
on his office. He found himself alone in the yamen, as all others
had taken flight. He constantly carried a long knife at his belt,
and went thus armed, for he noticed from the first day a fishy,
stinking odour, that grew gradually more and more marked.

After five or six days he took note, too, that what looked like a
mist would frequently make its entry by the outer gate, and from this
mist came this stinking smell. Daily it grew more and more annoying,
so that he could not stand it longer. In ten days or so, when the
time arrived for him to die, the yamen-runners and servants, who had
returned, again ran away. The magistrate kept a jar of whisky by his
side, from which he drank frequently to fortify his soul. On this
day he grew very drunk, and thus waited. At last he saw something
coming through the main gateway that seemed wrapped in fog, three
or four embraces in waist size, and fifteen feet or so high. There
was no head to it, nor were body or arms visible. Only on the top
were two dreadful eyes rolling wildly. The magistrate jumped up at
once, rushed toward it, gave a great shout and struck it with his
sword. When he gave it the blow there was the sound of thunder, and
the whole thing dissipated. Also the foul smell that accompanied it
disappeared at once.

The magistrate then, in a fit of intoxication, fell prone. The
retainers, all thinking him dead, gathered in the courtyard to prepare
for his burial. They saw him fallen to the earth, but they remarked
that the bodies of others who had died from this evil had all been
left on the verandah, but his was in the lower court. They raised him
up in order to prepare him for burial, when suddenly he came to life,
looked at them in anger, and asked what they meant. Fear and amazement
possessed them. From that time on there was no more smell.


Im Bang.



XXXI

THE TEMPLE TO THE GOD OF WAR


[Yi Hang-bok.--When he was a child a blind fortune-teller came and
cast his future, saying, "This boy will be very great indeed."

At seven years of age his father gave him for subject to write a
verse on "The Harp and the Sword," and he wrote--


   "The Sword pertains to the Hand of the Warrior
    And the Harp to the Music of the Ancients."


At eight he took the subject of the "Willow before the Door,"
and wrote--


   "The east wind brushes the brow of the cliff
    And the willow on the edge nods fresh and green."


On seeing a picture of a great banquet among the fierce Turks of
Central Asia, he wrote thus--


   "The hunt is off in the wild dark hills,
      And the moon is cold and gray,
    While the tramping feet of a thousand horse
      Ring on the frosty way.
    In the tents of the Turk the music thrills
      And the wine-cups chink for joy,
    'Mid the noise of the dancer's savage tread
      And the lilt of the wild hautboy."


At twelve years of age he was proud, we are told, and haughty. He
dressed well, and was envied by the poorer lads of the place, and once
he took off his coat and gave it to a boy who looked with envy on
him. He gave his shoes as well, and came back barefoot. His mother,
wishing to know his mind in the matter, pretended to reprimand him,
but he replied, saying, "Mother, when others wanted it so, how could
I refuse giving?" His mother pondered these things in her heart.

When he was fifteen he was strong and well-built, and liked
vigorous exercise, so that he was a noted wrestler and skilful at
shuttlecock. His mother, however, frowned upon these things, saying
that they were not dignified, so that he gave them up and confined his
attention to literary studies, graduating at twenty-five years of age.

In 1592, during the Japanese War, when the King escaped to Eui-ju,
Yi Hang-bok went with him in his flight, and there he met the Chinese
(Ming) representative, who said in surprise to his Majesty, "Do you
mean to tell me that you have men in Cho-sen like Yi Hang-bok?" Yang
Ho, the general of the rescuing forces, also continually referred to
him for advice and counsel. He lived to see the troubles in the reign
of the wicked Kwang-hai, and at last went into exile to Puk-chong. When
he crossed the Iron Pass near Wonsan, he wrote--


   "From the giddy height of the Iron Peak,
        I call on the passing cloud,
      To take up a lonely exile's tears
        In the folds of its feathery shroud,
      And drop them as rain on the Palace Gates,
        On the King, and his shameless crowd."]



The Story

During the Japanese War in the reign of Son-jo, the Mings sent a great
army that came east, drove out the enemy and restored peace. At that
time the general of the Mings informed his Korean Majesty that the
victory was due to the help of Kwan, the God of War. "This being
the case," said he, "you ought not to continue without temples in
which to express your gratitude to him." So they built him houses of
worship and offered him sacrifice. The Temples built were one to the
south and one to the east of the city. In examining sites for these
they could not agree on the one to the south. Some wanted it nearer
the wall and some farther away. At that time an official, called Yi
Hang-bok, was in charge of the conference. On a certain day when Yi
was at home a military officer called and wished to see him. Ordering
him in he found him a great strapping fellow, splendidly built. His
request was that Yi should send out all his retainers till he talked
to him privately. They were sent out, and then the stranger gave his
message. After he had finished, he said good-bye and left.

Yi had at that time an old friend stopping with him. The friend
went out with the servants when they were asked to leave, and now
he came back again. When he came in he noticed that the face of the
master had a very peculiar expression, and he asked him the reason of
it. Yi made no reply at first, but later told his friend that a very
extraordinary thing had happened. The military man who had come and
called was none other than a messenger of the God of War. His coming,
too, was on account of their not yet having decided in regard to the
site for the Temple. "He came," said Yi, "to show me where it ought
to be. He urged that it was not a matter for time only, but for the
eternities to come. If we do not get it right the God of War will
find no peace. I told him in reply that I would do my best. Was this
not strange?"

The friend who heard this was greatly exercised, but Yi warned him
not to repeat it to any one. Yi used all his efforts, and at last
the building was placed on the approved site, where it now stands.


Im Bang.



XXXII

A VISIT FROM THE SHADES


[Choi Yu-won.--(The story of meeting his mother's ghost is reported
to be of this man.)

Choi Yu-won matriculated in 1579 and graduated in 1602, becoming Chief
Justice and having conferred on him the rank of prince. When he was a
boy his great-aunt once gave him cloth for a suit of clothes, but he
refused to accept of it, and from this his aunt prophesied that he
would yet become a famous man. He studied in the home of the great
teacher Yul-gok, and Yul-gok also foretold that the day would come
when he would be an honour to Korea.

Yu-won once met Chang Han-kang and inquired of him concerning Pyon-wha
Keui-jil (a law by which the weak became strong, the wicked good,
and the stupid wise). He also asked that if one be truly transformed
will the soul change as well as the body, or the body only? Chang
replied, "Both are changed, for how could the body change without
the soul?" Yu-won asked Yul-gok concerning this also, and Yul-gok
replied that Chang's words were true.

In 1607 Choi Yu-won memorialized the King, calling attention to a
letter received from Japan in answer to a communication sent by his
Majesty, which had on its address the name of the Prime Minister,
written a space lower than good form required. The Korean envoy had not
protested, as duty would require of him, and yet the King had advanced
him in rank. The various officials commended him for his courage.

In 1612, while he was Chief Justice, King Kwang-hai tried to degrade
the Queen Dowager, who was not his own mother, he being born of a
concubine, but Yu-won besought him with tears not to do so illegal
and unnatural a thing. Still the King overrode all opposition, and
did according to his unfilial will. In it all Choi Yu-won was proven
a good man and a just. He used to say to his companions, even as a
youth, "Death is dreadful, but still, better death for righteousness'
sake and honour than life in disgrace." Another saying of his runs,
"All one's study is for the development of character; if it ends not
in that it is in vain."

Korea's ancient belief was that the blood of a faithful son served
as an elixir of life to the dying, so that when his mother was at the
point of death Yu-won with a knife cut flesh from his thigh till the
blood flowed, and with this he prepared his magic dose.]



The Story

There was a minister in olden days who once, when he was Palace
Secretary, was getting ready for office in the morning. He had on
his ceremonial dress. It was rather early, and as he leaned on his
arm-rest for a moment, sleep overcame him. He dreamt, and in the
dream he thought he was mounted and on his journey. He was crossing
the bridge at the entrance to East Palace Street, when suddenly he saw
his mother coming towards him on foot. He at once dismounted, bowed,
and said, "Why do you come thus, mother, not in a chair, but on foot?"

She replied, "I have already left the world, and things are not where
I am as they are where you are, and so I walk."

The secretary asked, "Where are you going, please?"

She replied, "We have a servant living at Yong-san, and they are
having a witches' prayer service there just now, so I am going to
partake of the sacrifice."

"But," said the secretary, "we have sacrificial days, many of them,
at our own home, those of the four seasons, also on the first and
fifteenth of each month. Why do you go to a servant's house and not
to mine?"

The mother replied, "Your sacrifices are of no interest to me, I like
the prayers of the witches. If there is no medium we spirits find no
satisfaction. I am in a hurry," said she, "and cannot wait longer,"
so she spoke her farewell and was gone.

The secretary awoke with a start, but felt that he had actually seen
what had come to pass.

He then called a servant and told him to go at once to So-and-So's
house in Yong-san, and tell a certain servant to come that night
without fail. "Go quickly," said the secretary, "so that you can be
back before I enter the Palace." Then he sat down to meditate over it.

In a little the servant had gone and come again. It was not yet
broad daylight, and because it was cold the servant did not enter
straight, but went first into the kitchen to warm his hands before
the fire. There was a fellow-servant there who asked him, "Have you
had something to drink?"

He replied, "They are having a big witch business on at Yong-san, and
while the mutang (witch) was performing, she said that the spirit that
possessed her was the mother of the master here. On my appearance she
called out my name and said, 'This is a servant from our house.' Then
she called me and gave me a big glass of spirit. She added further,
'On my way here I met my son going into the Palace.'"

The secretary, overhearing this talk from the room where he was
waiting, broke down and began to cry. He called in the servant and made
fuller inquiry, and more than ever he felt assured that his mother's
spirit had really gone that morning to share in the koot (witches'
sacrificial ceremony). He then called the mutang, and in behalf of
the spirit of his mother made her a great offering. Ever afterwards
he sacrificed to her four times a year at each returning season.


Im Bang.



XXXIII

THE FEARLESS CAPTAIN


There was formerly a soldier, Yee Man-ji of Yong-nam, a strong
and muscular fellow, and brave as a lion. He had green eyes and a
terrible countenance. Frequently he said, "Fear! What is fear?" On a
certain day when he was in his house a sudden storm of rain came on,
when there were flashes of lightning and heavy claps of thunder. At
one of them a great ball of fire came tumbling into his home and went
rolling over the verandah, through the rooms, into the kitchen and
out into the yard, and again into the servants' quarters. Several
times it went and came bouncing about. Its blazing light and the
accompanying noise made it a thing of terror.

Yee sat in the outer verandah, wholly undisturbed. He thought
to himself, "I have done no wrong, therefore why need I fear the
lightning?" A moment later a flash struck the large elm tree in front
of the house and smashed it to pieces. The rain then ceased and the
thunder likewise.

Yee turned to see how it fared with his family, and found them all
fallen senseless. With the greatest of difficulty he had them restored
to life. During that year they all fell ill and died, and Yee came
to Seoul and became a Captain of the Right Guard. Shortly after he
went to North Ham-kyong Province. There he took a second wife and
settled down. All his predecessors had died of goblin influences,
and the fact that calamity had overtaken them while in the official
quarters had caused them to use one of the village houses instead.

Yee, however, determined to live down all fear and go back to the
old quarters, which he extensively repaired.

One night his wife was in the inner room while he was alone in the
public office with a light burning before him. In the second watch or
thereabout, a strange-looking object came out of the inner quarters. It
looked like the stump of a tree wrapped in black sackcloth. There
was no outline or definite shape to it, and it came jumping along and
sat itself immediately before Yee Man-ji. Also two other objects came
following in its wake, shaped just like the first one. The three then
sat in a row before Yee, coming little by little closer and closer to
him. Yee moved away till he had backed up against the wall and could
go no farther. Then he said, "Who are you, anyhow; what kind of devil,
pray, that you dare to push towards me so in my office? If you have
any complaint or matter to set right, say so, and I'll see to it."

The middle devil said in reply, "I'm hungry, I'm hungry, I'm hungry."

Yee answered, "Hungry, are you? Very well, now just move back and I'll
have food prepared for you in abundance." He then repeated a magic
formula that he had learned, and snapped his fingers. The three devils
seemed to be afraid of this. Then Man-ji suddenly closed his fist
and struck a blow at the first devil. It dodged, however, most deftly
and he missed, but hit the floor a sounding blow that cut his hand.

Then they all shouted, "We'll go, we'll go, since you treat guests
thus." At once they bundled out of the room and disappeared.

On the following day he had oxen killed and a sacrifice offered to
these devils, and they returned no more.



Note.--Men have been killed by goblins. This is not so much due to the
fact that goblins are wicked as to the fact that men are afraid of
them. Many died in North Ham-kyong, but those again who were brave,
and clove them with a knife, or struck them down, lived. If they had
been afraid, they too would have died.


Im Bang.



XXXIV

THE KING OF YOM-NA (HELL)


[Pak Chom was one of the Royal Censors, and died in the Japanese War
of 1592.]



The Story

In Yon-nan County, Whang-hai Province, there was a certain literary
graduate whose name I have forgotten. He fell ill one day and remained
in his room, leaning helplessly against his arm-rest. Suddenly several
spirit soldiers appeared to him, saying, "The Governor of the lower
hell has ordered your arrest," so they bound him with a chain about
his neck, and led him away. They journeyed for many hundreds of miles,
and at last reached a place that had a very high wall. The spirits
then took him within the walls and went on for a long distance.

There was within this enclosure a great structure whose height reached
to heaven. They arrived at the gate, and the spirits who had him in
hand led him in, and when they entered the inner courtyard they laid
him down on his face.

Glancing up he saw what looked like a king seated on a throne; grouped
about him on each side were attendant officers. There were also scores
of secretaries and soldiers going and coming on pressing errands. The
King's appearance was most terrible, and his commands such as to fill
one with awe. The graduate felt the perspiration break out on his back,
and he dared not look up. In a little a secretary came forward, stood
in front of the raised dais to transmit commands, and the King asked,
"Where do you come from? What is your name? How old are you? What do
you do for a living? Tell me the truth now, and no dissembling."

The scholar, frightened to death, replied, "My clan name is So-and-so,
and my given name is So-and-so. I am so old, and I have lived for
several generations at Yon-nan, Whang-hai Province. I am stupid and
ill-equipped by nature, so have not done anything special. I have
heard all my life that if you say your beads with love and pity in
your heart you will escape hell, and so have given my time to calling
on the Buddha, and dispensing alms."

The secretary, hearing this, went at once and reported it to the
King. After some time he came back with a message, saying, "Come
up closer to the steps, for you are not the person intended. It
happens that you bear the same name and you have thus been wrongly
arrested. You may go now."

The scholar joined his hands and made a deep bow. Again the secretary
transmitted a message from the King, saying, "My house, when on earth,
was in such a place in such and such a ward of Seoul. When you go
back I want to send a message by you. My coming here is long, and
the outer coat I wear is worn to shreds. Ask my people to send me a
new outer coat. If you do so I shall be greatly obliged, so see that
you do not forget."

The scholar said, "Your Majesty's message given me thus direct I
shall pass on without fail, but the ways of the two worlds, the dark
world and the light, are so different that when I give the message
the hearers will say I am talking nonsense. True, I'll give it just
as you have commanded, but what about it if they refuse to listen? I
ought to have some evidence as proof to help me out."

The King made answer, "Your words are true, very true. This will
help you: When I was on earth," said he, "one of my head buttons [1]
that I wore had a broken edge, and I hid it in the third volume of
the Book of History. I alone know of it, no one else in the world. If
you give this as a proof they will listen."

The scholar replied, "That will be satisfactory, but again, how shall
I do in case they make the new coat?"

The reply was, "Prepare a sacrifice, offer the coat by fire, and it
will reach me."

He then bade good-bye, and the King sent with him two soldier
guards. He asked the soldiers, as they came out, who the one seated
on the throne was. "He is the King of Hades," said they; "his surname
is Pak and his given name is Oo."

They arrived at the bank of a river, and the two soldiers pushed him
into the water. He awoke with a start, and found that he had been
dead for three days.

When he recovered from his sickness he came up to Seoul, searched out
the house indicated, and made careful inquiry as to the name, finding
that it was no other than Pak Oo. Pak Oo had two sons, who at that
time had graduated and were holding office. The graduate wanted to
see the sons of this King of Hades, but the gatekeeper would not let
him in. Therefore he stood before the red gate waiting helplessly till
the sun went down. Then came out from the inner quarters of the house
an old servant, to whom he earnestly made petition that he might see
the master. On being thus requested, the servant returned and reported
it to the master, who, a little later, ordered him in. On entering,
he saw two gentlemen who seemed to be chiefs. They had him sit down,
and then questioned him as to who he was and what he had to say.

He replied, "I am a student living in Yon-nan County, Whang-hai
Province. On such and such a day I died and went into the other world,
where your honorable father gave me such and such a commission."

The two listened for a little and then, without waiting to hear all
that he had to say, grew very angry and began to scold him, saying,
"How dare such a scarecrow as you come into our house and say such
things as these? This is stuff and nonsense that you talk. Pitch him
out," they shouted to the servants.

He, however, called back saying, "I have a proof; listen. If it fails,
why then, pitch me out."

One of the two said, "What possible proof can you have?" Then the
scholar told with great exactness and care the story of the head
button.

The two, in astonishment over this, had the book taken down and
examined, and sure enough in Vol. III of the Book of History was the
button referred to. Not a single particular had failed. It proved
to be a button that they had missed after the death of their father,
and that they had searched for in vain.

Accepting the message now as true, they all entered upon a period
of mourning.

The women of the family also called in the scholar and asked him
specially of what he had seen. So they made the outer coat, chose a
day, and offered it by fire before the ancestral altar. Three days
after the sacrifice the scholar dreamed, and the family of Pak dreamed
too, that the King of Hades had come and given to each one of them his
thanks for the coat. They long kept the scholar at their home, treating
him with great respect, and became his firm friends for ever after.

Pak Oo was a great-grandson of Minister Pak Chom. While he held office
he was honest and just and was highly honoured by the people. When he
was Mayor of Hai-ju there arose a dispute between him and the Governor,
which proved also that Pak was the honest man.

When I was at Hai-ju, Choi Yu-chom, a graduate, told me this story.


Im Bang.



XXXV

HONG'S EXPERIENCES IN HADES


Hong Nai-pom was a military graduate who was born in the year
A.D. 1561, and lived in the city of Pyeng-yang. He passed his
examination in the year 1603, and in the year 1637 attained to
the Third Degree. He was 82 in the year 1643, and his son Sonn
memorialized the King asking that his father be given rank appropriate
to his age. At that time a certain Han Hong-kil was chief of the Royal
Secretaries, and he refused to pass on the request to his Majesty; but
in the year 1644, when the Crown Prince was returning from his exile
in China, he came by way of Pyeng-yang. Sonn took advantage of this to
present the same request to the Crown Prince. His Highness received
it, and had it brought to the notice of the King. In consequence,
Hong received the rank of Second Degree.

On receiving it he said, "This year I shall die," and a little later
he died.

In the year 1594, Hong fell ill of typhus fever, and after ten days
of suffering, died. They prepared his body for burial, and placed
it in a coffin. Then the friends and relatives left, and his wife
remained alone in charge. Of a sudden the body turned itself and
fell with a thud to the ground. The woman, frightened, fainted away,
and the other members of the family came rushing to her help. From
this time on the body resumed its functions, and Hong lived.

Said he, "In my dream I went to a certain region, a place of great fear
where many persons were standing around, and awful ogres, some of them
wearing bulls' heads, and some with faces of wild beasts. They crowded
about and jumped and pounced toward me in all directions. A scribe
robed in black sat on a platform and addressed me, saying, 'There are
three religions on earth, Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. According
to Buddhism, you know that heaven and hell are places that decide
between man's good and evil deeds. You have ever been a blasphemer
of the Buddha, and a denier of a future life, acting always as though
you knew everything, blustering and storming. You are now to be sent
to hell, and ten thousand kalpas [2] will not see you out of it.'

"Then two or three constables carrying spears came and took me off. I
screamed, 'You are wrong, I am innocently condemned.' Just at that
moment a certain Buddha, with a face of shining gold, came smiling
toward me, and said, 'There is truly a mistake somewhere; this man
must attain to the age of eighty-three and become an officer of the
Second Degree ere he dies.' Then addressing me he asked, 'How is it
that you have come here? The order was that a certain Hong of Chon-ju
be arrested and brought, not you; but now that you have come, look
about the place before you go, and tell the world afterwards of what
you have seen.'

"The guards, on hearing this, took me in hand and brought me first
to a prison-house, where a sign was posted up, marked, 'Stirrers up
of Strife.' I saw in this prison a great brazier-shaped pit, built
of stones and filled with fire. Flames arose and forked tongues. The
stirrers up of strife were taken and made to sit close before it. I
then saw one infernal guard take a long rod of iron, heat it red-hot,
and put out the eyes of the guilty ones. I saw also that the offenders
were hung up like dried fish. The guides who accompanied me, said,
'While these were on earth they did not love their brethren, but
looked at others as enemies. They scoffed at the laws of God and
sought only selfish gain, so they are punished.'

"The next hell was marked, 'Liars.' In that hell I saw an iron pillar
of several yards in height, and great stones placed before it. The
offenders were called up, and made to kneel before the pillar. Then I
saw an executioner take a knife and drive a hole through the tongues
of the offenders, pass an iron chain through each, and hang them to
the pillar so that they dangled by their tongues several feet from the
ground. A stone was then taken and tied to each culprit's feet. The
stones thus bearing down, and the chains being fast to the pillar,
their tongues were pulled out a foot or more, and their eyes rolled in
their sockets. Their agonies were appalling. The guides again said,
'These offenders when on earth used their tongues skilfully to tell
lies and to separate friend from friend, and so they are punished.'

"The next hell had inscribed on it, 'Deceivers.' I saw in it many
scores of people. There were ogres that cut the flesh from their
bodies, and fed it to starving demons. These ate and ate, and the
flesh was cut and cut till only the bones remained. When the winds of
hell blew, flesh returned to them; then metal snakes and copper dogs
crowded in to bite them and suck their blood. Their screams of pain
made the earth to tremble. The guides said to me, 'When these offenders
were on earth they held high office, and while they pretended to be
true and good they received bribes in secret and were doers of all
evil. As Ministers of State they ate the fat of the land and sucked
the blood of the people, and yet advertised themselves as benefactors
and were highly applauded. While in reality they lived as thieves,
they pretended to be holy, as Confucius and Mencius are holy. They
were deceivers of the world, and robbers, and so are punished thus.'

"The guides then said, 'It is not necessary that you see all the
hells.' They said to one another, 'Let's take him yonder and show
him;' so they went some distance to the south-east. There was a
great house with a sign painted thus, 'The Home of the Blessed.' As
I looked, there were beautiful haloes encircling it, and clouds of
glory. There were hundreds of priests in cassock and surplice. Some
carried fresh-blown lotus flowers; some were seated like the Buddha;
some were reading prayers.

"The guides said, 'These when on earth kept the faith, and with
undivided hearts served the Buddha, and so have escaped the Eight
Sorrows and the Ten Punishments, and are now in the home of the happy,
which is called heaven.' When we had seen all these things we returned.

"The golden-faced Buddha said to me, 'Not many on earth believe in
the Buddha, and few know of heaven and hell. What do you think of it?'

"I bowed low and thanked him.

"Then the black-coated scribe said, 'I am sending this man away; see
him safely off.' The spirit soldiers took me with them, and while on
the way I awakened with a start, and found that I had been dead for
four days."

Hong's mind was filled with pride on this account, and he frequently
boasted of it. His age and Second Degree of rank came about just as
the Buddha had predicted.

His experience, alas! was used as a means to deceive people, for the
Superior Man does not talk of these strange and wonderful things.

Yi Tan, a Chinaman of the Song Kingdom, used to say, "If there is
no heaven, there is no heaven, but if there is one, the Superior
Man alone can attain to it. If there is no hell, there is no hell,
but if there is one the bad man must inherit it."

If we examine Hong's story, while it looks like a yarn to deceive
the world, it really is a story to arouse one to right action. I,
Im Bang, have recorded it like Toi-chi, saying, "Don't find fault
with the story, but learn its lesson."


Im Bang.



XXXVI

HAUNTED HOUSES


There once lived a man in Seoul called Yi Chang, who frequently told
as an experience of his own the following story: He was poor and
had no home of his own, so he lived much in quarters loaned him by
others. When hard pressed he even went into haunted houses and lived
there. Once, after failing to find a place, he heard of one such house
in Ink Town (one of the wards of Seoul), at the foot of South Mountain,
which had been haunted for generations and was now left vacant. Chang
investigated the matter, and finally decided to take possession.

First, to find whether it was really haunted or not, he called his
elder brothers, Hugh and Haw, and five or six of his relatives,
and had them help clean it out and sleep there. The house had one
upper room that was fast locked. Looking through a chink, there was
seen to be in the room a tablet chair and a stand for it; also there
was an old harp without any strings, a pair of worn shoes, and some
sticks and bits of wood. Nothing else was in the room. Dust lay thick,
as though it had gathered through long years of time.

The company, after drinking wine, sat round the table and played at
games, watching the night through. When it was late, towards midnight,
they suddenly heard the sound of harps and a great multitude of
voices, though the words were mixed and unintelligible. It was as
though many people were gathered and carousing at a feast. The company
then consulted as to what they should do. One drew a sword and struck
a hole through the partition that looked into the tower. Instantly
there appeared from the other side a sharp blade thrust out towards
them. It was blue in colour. In fear and consternation they desisted
from further interference with the place. But the sound of the harp
and the revelry kept up till the morning. The company broke up at
daylight, withdrew from the place, and never again dared to enter.

In the South Ward there was another haunted house, of which Chang
desired possession, so he called his friends and brothers once more to
make the experiment and see whether it was really haunted or not. On
entering, they found two dogs within the enclosure, one black and
one tan, lying upon the open verandah, one at each end. Their eyes
were fiery red, and though the company shouted at them they did not
move. They neither barked nor bit. But when midnight came these two
animals got up and went down into the court, and began baying at the
inky sky in a way most ominous. They went jumping back and forth. At
that time, too, there came some one round the corner of the house
dressed in ceremonial robes. The two dogs met him with great delight,
jumping up before and behind in their joy at his coming. He ascended
to the verandah, and sat down. Immediately five or six multi-coloured
demons appeared and bowed before him, in front of the open space. The
man then led the demons and the dogs two or three times round the
house. They rushed up into the verandah and jumped down again into the
court; backwards and forwards they came and went, till at last all of
them mysteriously disappeared. The devils went into a hole underneath
the floor, while the dogs went up to their quarters and lay down.

The company from the inner room had seen this. When daylight came
they examined the place, looked through the chinks of the floor,
but saw only an old, worn-out sieve and a few discarded brooms. They
went behind the house and found another old broom poked into the
chimney. They ordered a servant to gather them up and have them
burned. The dogs lay as they were all day long, and neither ate nor
moved. Some of the party wished to kill the brutes, but were afraid,
so fearsome was their appearance.

This night again they remained, desiring to see if the same phenomena
would appear. Again at midnight the two dogs got down into the court
and began barking up at the sky. The man in ceremonial robes again
came, and the devils, just as the day before.

The company, in fear and disgust, left the following morning, and
did not try it again.

A friend, hearing this of Chang, went and asked about it from Hugh
and Haw, and they confirmed the story.

There is still another tale of a graduate who was out of house and
home and went into a haunted dwelling in Ink Town, which was said
to have had the tower where the mysterious sounds were heard. They
opened the door, broke out the window, took out the old harp, the
spirit chair, the shoes and sticks, and had them burned. Before
the fire had finished its work, one of the servants fell down and
died. The graduate, seeing this, in fear and dismay put out the fire,
restored the things and left the house.

Again there was another homeless man who tried it. In the night a woman
in a blue skirt came down from the loft, and acted in a peculiar and
uncanny way. The man, seeing this, picked up his belongings and left.

Again, in South Kettle Town, there were a number of woodmen who in
the early morning were passing behind the haunted house, when they
found an old woman sitting weeping under a tree. They thinking her
an evil bogey, one man came up behind and gave her a thrust with his
sickle. The witch rushed off into the house, her height appearing to
be only about one cubit and a span.


Im Bang.



XXXVII

IM, THE HUNTER


[Im Kyong-up.--One of Korea's most famous generals, who fought in
behalf of China in 1628 against the Manchus. He is worshipped to-day
in many parts of Korea.]



The Story

When General Im Kyong-up was young he lived in the town of Tallai. In
those days he loved the chase, and constantly practised riding
and hunting. Once he went off on an excursion to track the deer
in Wol-lak Mountains. He carried only a sword, and made the chase
on foot. In his pursuit of the animal he went as far as Tai-paik
Mountain. There night overtook him, and the way was hidden in the
darkness. There were yawning chasms and great horns and cliffs on
all sides. While he was in a state of perplexity he met a woodman,
and asked him where the road was and how he ought to go. The woodman
directed him to a cliff opposite, "where," said he, "there is a
house." Im heard this and crossed over to the farther ridge. On
approaching more nearly he found a great tiled mansion standing alone
without a single house about it. He went in by the main gateway, but
found all quiet and dark and no one in sight. It was a vacant house,
evidently deserted. After travelling all day in the hills Im was full
of fears and creepy feelings. So he viewed the place with mistrust,
fearing that there might be hill goblins in it or tree devils,
but a moment later some one opened the room door and shouted out,
"Do you sleep here? Have you had something to eat?"

Im looked and discovered that it was the same person that had directed
him on his way. He said in reply, "I have not eaten anything and am
hungry." So the man opened the wall box and brought him out wine and
meat. He, being exceedingly hungry, ate all. Then they sat down to
talk together, and after a little the woodman got up, opened the box
once more, and took from it a great sword. Im asked, "What is this
you have; do you intend to kill me?"

The woodman laughed and said, "No, no, but to-night there is something
on hand worth the seeing. Will you come with me and not be afraid?"

Im said, "Of course I am not afraid; I want to see."

It was then about midnight, and the woodman, with the sword in
his hand, took Im and went to one side through a succession of
gates that seemed never ending. At last they came to a place where
lights were reflected on a pond of water. There was a high pavilion
apparently in the middle of the lake, and from the inside of it came
the lights. There were sounds, too, of laughter and talking that came
from the upper storey. Through the sliding doors he could distinguish
two people seated together. There was another pavilion to the right
of the lake and a large tree near it, up which the woodman told Im
to climb.

"When you get well up," said he, "take your belt, tie yourself fast
to the trunk and keep perfectly still."

Im climbed the tree as directed, and made himself secure. From this
point of vantage he looked intently, and the first thing he saw was
the woodman give a leap that cleared the lake and landed him in the
pavilion. At once he ascended to the upper storey, and now Im could
distinguish three persons sitting talking and laughing. He heard the
woodman, after drinking, say to his neighbour, "We have made our wager,
now let's see it out." The man replied, "Let's do so." Then both arose,
came down to the entrance, and vaulted off into mid-air, where they
disappeared from sight. Nothing could be distinguished now but the
clashing of steel and flashes of fire, which kept up for a long time.

In beholding this from the tree top, where he was stationed, his
bones grew cold and his hair stood stiff on end. He knew not what to
do. Then a moment later he heard something fall to the ground with
a great thud. A cry of victory arose too, and he recognized that it
was the woodman's voice. Chills ran all over him, and goose-flesh
covered his skin; only after a long time could he gain control of
himself. He came down from the tree and the woodman met him, took him
suddenly under his arm, and vaulted over into the pavilion. Here he
met a beautiful woman with hair like fleecy clouds. Before the fight
the woman's voice was evidently full of hilarity, but now she was
overcome with grief and tears.

The woodman spoke roughly to her, saying, "Do you not know that you,
a wicked woman, have caused the death of a great man?" The woodman
said also to Im, "You have courage and valour in your way, but it is
not sufficient to meet a world like this. I will now give you this
woman, and this house, so you can bid farewell to the dusty world
and live here in peace and quiet for the rest of your days."

Im replied, "What I have seen to-night I am at a loss to
understand. I'd like to know the meaning of it first; please tell
me. After hearing that I'll do what you ask."

The woodman said, "I am not an ordinary mortal of the world, but am an
outlaw of the hills and woods. I am a robber, really, and by robbing
have many such a house as this. Not only here but in all the provinces
I have homes abundant, a beautiful woman in each, and rich and dainty
fare. All unexpectedly this woman has neglected me for another man,
and he and she have several times tried to kill me. There being no
help for it, I had to kill him. I have killed the man, but I ought
truly to have killed the woman. Take this place, then, off my hands,
will you, and the woman too?"

But Im asked, "Who was the man, and where did he live?"

"There were," said the woodman, "mighty possibilities in him,
though he lived humbly inside the South Gate of Seoul and sold cut
tobacco. He came here frequently, and I knew it, though I winked at
it all until they attempted to kill me, and that brought matters
to a head. It was not my wish to kill him," and here the woodman
broke down and cried. "Alas, alas!" said he, "I have killed a great
and gifted man. Think it over," said he; "you have courage, but
not enough to make any mark in the world. You will fail half-way,
the Fates have so decided. Cease from any vain ambitions, for there
is no way by which your name can ever become famous. Do what I say,
then, and take over this woman and this home."

Im, however, shook his head and said, "I can't do it."

The woodman asked, "Why can you not? If you do not, there is nothing
for this woman but death, so here I'll have done with it," and he
struck her with his sword and cut off her head.

The day following he said to Im, "Since you are determined to go
forth and do valiantly, I cannot stop you, but if a man goes forth
thus and does not know the use of the sword he is helpless, and at
the mercy of the foe. Stay with me a little and learn. I'll teach you."

Im stayed for six days and learned the use of the sword.


Anon.



XXXVIII

THE MAGIC INVASION OF SEOUL


A gentleman of Seoul was one day crossing the Han River in a boat. In
the crossing, he nodded for a moment, fell asleep and dreamed a
dream. In his dream he met a man who had Gothic eyebrows and almond
eyes, whose face was red as ripened dates, and whose height was eight
cubits and a span. He was dressed in green and had a long beard that
came down to his belt-string. A man of majestic appearance he was,
with a great sword at his side and he rode on a red horse.

He asked the gentleman to open his hand, which he did, and then the
august stranger dashed a pen-mark on it as the sign of the God of
War. Said he, "When you cross the river, do not go direct to Seoul,
but wait at the landing. Seven horses will shortly appear, loaded with
network hampers, all proceeding on their journey to the capital. You
are to call the horsemen, open your hand, and show them the sign. When
they see it they will all commit suicide in your very presence. After
that, you are to take the loads and pile them up, but don't look
into them. Then you are to go at once and report the matter to the
Palace and have them all burned. The matter is of immense importance,
so do not fail in the slightest particular."

The gentleman gave a great start of terror and awoke. He looked at
his hand and there, indeed, was the strange mark. Not only so, but the
ink had not yet dried upon it. He was astonished beyond measure, but
did as the dream had indicated, and waited on the river's bank. In a
little there came, as he was advised, the seven loads on seven horses,
coming from the far-distant South. There were attendants in charge,
and one man wearing an official coat came along behind. When they had
crossed the river the gentleman called them to him and said, "I have
something to say to you; come close to me." These men, unsuspecting,
though with somewhat of a frightened look, closed up. He then showed
them his hand with the mark, and asked them if they knew what it
was. When they saw it, first of all, the man in the official coat
turned and with one bound jumped over the cliff into the river. The
eight or nine who accompanied the loads likewise all rushed after
him and dashed into the water.

The scholar then called the boatmen, and explained to them that the
things in the hampers were dangerous, that he would have to make it
known to the Palace, and that in the meantime they were to keep close
guard, but that they were not to touch them or look at them.

He hurried as fast as possible, and reported the matter to the Board
of War. The Board sent an official, and had the loads brought into
Seoul, and then, as had been directed, they were piled high with wood
and set on fire. When the fire developed, the baskets broke open,
and little figures of men and horses, each an inch or so long, in
countless numbers, came tumbling out.

When the officials saw this they were frozen with fear; their hearts
ceased beating and their tongues lolled out. In a little, however,
the hampers were all burned up.

These were the creation of a magician, and were intended for a monster
invasion of Seoul, until warned by Kwan.

From that time on the people of Seoul began faithful offerings to
the God of War, for had he not saved the city?


Im Bang.



XXXIX

THE AWFUL LITTLE GOBLIN


There was an occasion for a celebration in the home of a nobleman
of Seoul, whereupon a feast, to which were invited all the family
friends, was prepared. There was a great crowd of men and women. In
front of the women's quarters there suddenly appeared an uncombed,
ugly-looking boy about fifteen years of age. The host and guests,
thinking him a coolie who had come in the train of some visitor, did
not ask specially concerning him, but one of the women guests, seeing
him in the inner quarters, sent a servant to reprimand him and put
him out. The boy, however, did not move, so the servant said to him,
"Who are you, anyway, and with whom did you come, that you enter the
women's quarters, and even when told to go out do not go?"

The boy, however, stood stock-still, just as he had been, with no
word of reply.

The company looked at him in doubt, and began to ask one another
whose he was and with whom he had come. Again they had the servant
make inquiry, but still there was no reply. The women then grew very
angry, and ordered him to be put out. Several took hold of him and
tried to pull him, but he was like a fixed rock, fast in the earth,
absolutely immovable. In helpless rage they informed the men.

The men, hearing this, sent several strong servants, who took hold
all at once, but he did not budge a hair. They asked, "Who are you,
anyway?" but he gave no reply. The crowd, then enraged, sent ten strong
men with ropes to bind him, but like a giant mountain he remained fast,
so that they recognized that he could not be moved by man's power.

One guest remarked, "But he, too, is human; why cannot he be
moved?" They then sent five or six giant fellows with clubs to smash
him to pieces, and they laid on with all their might. It looked as
though he would be crushed like an egg-shell, while the sound of
their pounding was like reverberating thunder. But just as before,
not a hair did he turn, not a wink did he give.

Then the crowd began to fear, saying, "This is not a man, but a god,"
so they entered the courtyard, one and all, and began to bow before
him, joining their hands and supplicating earnestly. They kept this
up for a long time.

At last the boy gave a sarcastic smile, turned round, went out of
the gate and disappeared.

The company, frightened out of their wits, called off the feast. From
that day on, the people of that house were taken ill, including host
and guests. Those who scolded him, those who tied him with ropes,
those who pounded him, all died in a few days. Other members of the
company, too, contracted typhus and the like, and died also.

It was commonly held that the boy was the Too-uk Spirit, but we cannot
definitely say. Strange, indeed!



Note.--When the time comes for a clan to disappear from the earth,
calamity befalls it. Even though a great spirit should come in at
the door at such a feast time, if the guests had done as Confucius
suggests, "Be reverent and distant," instead of insulting him and
making him more malignant than ever, they would have escaped. Still,
devils and men were never intended to dwell together.


Im Bang.



XL

GOD'S WAY


In a certain town there lived a man of fierce and ungovernable
disposition, who in moments of anger used to beat his mother. One
day this parent, thus beaten, screamed out, "Oh, God, why do you not
strike dead this wicked man who beats his mother?"

The beating over, the son thrust his sickle through his belt and
went slowly off to the fields where he was engaged by a neighbour
in reaping buckwheat. The day was fine, and the sky beautifully
clear. Suddenly a dark fleck of cloud appeared in mid-heaven, and
a little later all the sky became black. Furious thunder followed,
and rain came on. The village people looked out toward the field,
where the flashes of lightning were specially noticeable. They seemed
to see there a man with lifted sickle trying to ward them off. When
the storm had cleared away, they went to see, and lo, they found the
man who had beaten his mother struck dead and riven to pieces.

God takes note of evil doers on this earth, and deals with them as
they deserve. How greatly should we fear!


Yi Ryuk.



XLI

THE OLD MAN IN THE DREAM


Kwon Jai was a man high in rank and well advanced in years. He was,
however, much given to sport and various kinds of pleasure. One
night he had a dream, when an old man came to him, who bowed low,
and in tears said, "Sir, Minister Hong wishes to kill off me and all
my posterity. Please save me, won't you?"

Kwon asked, "How can I save you?" The old man replied, "Hong will
assuredly ask Your Excellency to help him. Desist from it, please,
for if you do, Hong will give it up and I shall live and all mine."

A little later there came a rap at the door, when Kwon awakened
and asked, "Who is there?" It was Hong, who that day had planned
an excursion to Lotus Lake to fish for turtles, and now had come
specially to invite Kwon to go with him.

Then Kwon knew that the turtle had appeared to him in a dream in
the form of an old man, so he declined, saying he was ill. I learned
later that Hong also did not go.


Yi Ryuk.



XLII

THE PERFECT PRIEST


There was once a priest called Namnu who had perfected his ways in
the Buddhistic doctrine. Whenever he had clothing of his own he would
willingly undress and give it to those who were cold. His spirit was
gentle with no creases or corners in it. Everybody, high and low,
rich and poor, called him by the nickname of Softy. Whenever he saw
any one sentenced to a flogging in the temple or official yamen,
Namnu invariably begged that he might take the culprit's place. Once,
when there was a great function in progress at Pagoda Temple and many
high officials were assembled, Softy, too, was seen kneeling at the
side and taking part. He suddenly remarked to Prince Hong of Yon-san,
"You are indeed a very great man."

Hong replied, "What do you mean by 'great man,' you impudent brat? Take
that," and he gave him a box with his fist on the ear. Softy laughed,
and said, "Please, Hong, don't do that, it hurts! it hurts!"

Later I was in the train of Prince Yi of Yun-song, and other high
officials were present, when we stopped for a little before the
Temple. Softy was there, and he looked at Yi and said, "I know your
face, but I have forgotten your name." Afterwards he said, "Oh,
I remember now, you are Yi Sok-hyong." The priests of the monastery
who heard this familiarity were scandalized, and hurried to make no
end of apology to the Prince, saying, "Softy was born so, God made
him so. Please, Your Excellency, forgive him." The Prince forgave
him and so he was not disturbed.


Yi Ryuk.



XLIII

THE PROPITIOUS MAGPIE


People say that when the magpie builds its nest directly south of a
home that the master of the house will be promoted in office. King
T'ai-jong had a friend once who was very poor and had failed in all
his projects. After various fruitless attempts he decided to wait till
the King went out on procession and then to send a servant to build
an imitation magpie's nest in some propitious place before him. The
King saw it and asked the man what he was doing. He said in reply that
when a magpie builds its nest straight south of a home the master of
the house instantly gets promotion. His master, he said, had waited so
long and nothing had come, that he was building an imitation nest to
bring it about. The King took pity on him and ordered his appointment
at once.

When I was young myself a magpie built its nest before our home,
but I, along with other boys, cut off the branch so that the whole
nest fell to the ground, and there were the young with their pitiful
yellow mouths. I felt sorry and afraid that they would die, so on a
propitious site to the south I had the nest hung up on a neutie tree,
where the young all lived and flourished and flew away. In that very
winter my father was promoted three degrees in rank and was attached
to the office of the Prime Minister.

Afterwards I built a summer-house at Chong-pa, and before the house,
directly facing south, magpies built a nest in a date tree. I had
a woman slave, and she pulled it down and used the nest for fuel,
but they came again the next year and built once more. The year
following was 1469 when Ye-jong came to the throne. That year again
I was promoted. In the spring of 1471 magpies came and built their
nest in a tree just south of my office. I laughed and said, "There is
a spiritual power in the magpie surely, as men have said from olden
times and as I myself have proven."


Yi Ryuk.



XLIV

THE "OLD BUDDHA"


Prime Minister Choi Yun-tok was in mourning once for his mother. With
a single horse and one servant he made a journey to the south where
the road led through the county of Kai-ryong. At that very time two
or three of the district magistrates had pitched a tent on the bank
of the river and were having refreshments. They said to one another,
"Who is that mourner that goes riding by without dismounting? It must
be some country farmer who has never learned proper manners. We shall
certainly have to teach him a lesson."

They sent an attendant to arrest and bring his servant, whom they
asked, "Who is your master?"

He replied, "Choi, the Old Buddha."

"But what's his real name?" they demanded.

"The old Buddha," was the reply.

Then they grew very angry at this, and said, "Your master has offended
in not dismounting, and you offend in concealing his name. Both
slave and master are equally ill-mannered." And so they beat him over
the head.

Then the servant said slowly, "He is called Choi the Buddha, but his
real name is Yun-tok, and he is now on his way to his country home
in Chang-won." At once they recognized that it was no other than the
Prime Minister, and great fear overcame them. They struck their tent,
cleared away the eatables, and ran to make their deepest salaam and
to ask pardon for their sin.

The old Buddha was a special name by which this famous minister
was known.


Yi Ryuk.



XLV

A WONDERFUL MEDICINE


Prince Cheung had been First Minister of the land for thirty years. He
was a man just and upright, now nearly ninety years of age. His son
was called Whal, and was second in influence only to his father. Both
were greatly renowned in the age in which they lived, and His Majesty
treated them with special regard. Prince Cheung's home was suddenly
attacked by goblins and devils, and when a young official came to call
on him, these mysterious beings in broad daylight snatched the hat
from his head and crumpled it up. They threw stones, too, and kept on
throwing them so that all the court was reduced to confusion. Prince
Cheung made his escape and went to live in another house, where he
prepared a special medicine called sal-kwi-whan (kill-devil-pills),
which he offered in prayer. From that time the goblins departed, and
now after five or six years no sign of them has reappeared. Prince
Cheung, too, is well and strong and free from sickness.


Yi Ryuk.



XLVI

FAITHFUL MO


Prince Ha had a slave who was a landed proprieter and lived in Yang-ju
county. He had a daughter, fairest of the fair, whom he called Mo
(Nobody), beautiful beyond expression. An Yun was a noted scholar,
a man of distinction in letters. He saw Mo, fell in love with her
and took her for his wife. Prince Ha heard of this and was furiously
angry. Said he, "How is it that you, a slave, dare to marry with
a man of the aristocracy?" He had her arrested and brought home,
intending to marry her to one of his bondsmen. Mo learned of this
with tears and sorrow, but knew not what to do. At last she made her
escape over the wall and went back to An. An was delighted beyond
expression to see her; but, in view of the old prince, he knew not
what to do. Together they took an oath to die rather than to be parted.

Later Prince Ha, on learning of this, sent his underlings to arrest
her again and carry her off. After this all trace of her was lost
till Mo was discovered one day in a room hanging by the neck dead.

Months of sorrow passed over An till once, under cover of the night,
he was returning from the Confucian Temple to his house over the
ridge of Camel Mountain. It was early autumn and the wooded tops were
shimmering in the moonlight. All the world had sunk softly to rest and
no passers were on the way. An was just then musing longingly of Mo,
and in heartbroken accents repeating love verses to her memory, when
suddenly a soft footfall was heard as though coming from among the
pines. He took careful notice and there was Mo. An knew that she was
long dead, and so must have known that it was her spirit, but because
he was so buried in thought of her, doubting nothing, he ran to her
and caught her by the hand, saying, "How did you come here?" but she
disappeared. An gave a great cry and broke into tears. On account
of this he fell ill. He ate, but his grief was so great he could not
swallow, and a little later he died of a broken heart.

Kim Champan, who was of the same age as I, and my special friend, was
also a cousin of An, and he frequently spoke of this. Yu Hyo-jang,
also, An's nephew by marriage, told the story many times. Said he,
"Faithful unto death was she. For even a woman of the literati,
who has been born and brought up at the gates of ceremonial form,
it is a difficult matter enough to die, but for a slave, the lowest
of the low, who knew not the first thing of Ceremony, Righteousness,
Truth or Devotion, what about her? To the end, out of love for her
husband, she held fast to her purity and yielded up her life without
a blemish. Even of the faithful among the ancients was there ever a
better than Mo?"


Yi Ryuk.



XLVII

THE RENOWNED MAING


Minister of State Maing Sa-song once upon a time, dressed in plain
clothes, started south on a long journey. On the way he was overtaken
by rain, and turned into a side pavilion for rest and shelter. There
was a young scholar already in the pavilion by the name of Whang
Eui-hon, who with his two hands behind his back was reading the
pavilion inscription board, on which verses were written. Long he read
and long he looked about as though no one else were there. At last
he turned to the old man, and said, "Well, grand-dad, do you know
the flavour of verses like these?" The famous Minister, pretending
ignorance, arose and said, "An old countryman like myself, could you
expect him to know? Please tell me the meaning."

Whang said, "These verses were written by the great men of the
past. What they saw and experienced they wrote down to inspire the
souls of those who were to come after them. They are like pictures
of sea and land, for there are living pictures in poetry, you know."

The Minister said, "Indeed, that's wonderful; but if it were not for
men like yourself how should I ever come to know these things?"

A little later came pack-horses loaded with all sorts of things;
servants and retainers, too, a great company of them, tent poles,
canvas packs and other equipment, a long procession.

Whang, surprised by this, made inquiry, when, to his
amazement, he learned that the old man was none other than Maing
Sa-song. Unconsciously he dropped on to his knees in a deep and long
obeisance. The Minister laughed and said, "That will do; there is no
difference in the value of mere men, they are high or low according
to the thoughts that prompt them, but unfortunately all are born with
a proud heart. You are not a common scholar, why, therefore, should
you be so proud to begin with and so humble now?" The Minister took
him by the hand, led him to his mat, made him sit down, comforted
him and sent him away.


Yi Ryuk.



XLVIII

THE SENSES


The eyes are round like gems, so that they can roll about and see
things; the ears have holes in them so that they can hear; the nose has
openings by which it can perceive smell; and the mouth is horizontal
and slit so that it can inhale and exhale the breath; the tongue is
like an organ reed so that it can make sounds and talk. Three of the
four have each their particular office to fulfil, while the mouth has
two offices. But the member that distinguishes the good from the bad
is the heart, so that without the heart, even though you have eyes
you cannot see, though you have ears you cannot hear, though you
have a nose you cannot smell, and though you have a mouth you cannot
breathe, so they say that without the heart "seeing you cannot see,
and hearing you cannot hear."


Yi Ryuk.



XLIX

WHO DECIDES, GOD OR THE KING?


King Tai-jong was having a rest in Heung-yang Palace, while outside
two eunuchs were talking together over the law that governs the
affairs of men, as to whether it is man or God. A said, "Riches and
honour are all in the king's hand." B said, "Nothing of the kind;
every atom of wealth and every degree of promotion are all ordered
of God. Even the king himself has no part in it and no power."

So they argued, each that he was right, without ever coming to an
agreement.

The King, overhearing what was said, wrote a secret despatch, saying,
"Raise the Bearer of this letter one degree in rank." He sealed it
and commanded A to take it to Se-jong, who was then in charge of this
office. A made his bow and departed, but just when he was about to
leave the palace enclosure a furious pain took him in the stomach,
so that he begged B to take his place and go into the city.

The next day, when the record of promotions was placed before the King,
he read how B had been advanced, but not one word was there about A.

King Tai-jong made inquiry, and when he knew the circumstances he
gave a sudden start of wonder and remained long in deep thought.


Yi Ryuk.



L

THREE THINGS MASTERED


There was a relative of the king, named Im Sung-jong, who was a gifted
man in thought and purpose. He was the first performer of his time on
the harp. King Se-jong said of him, "Im's harp knows but one master,
and follows no other man."

His home was outside the South Gate, and every morning he was seen
kneeling on the sill of his front door beating his hands upwards and
downwards on his knees, and this practice he carried on for three
years. People could not imagine what he meant by it, but thought him
mad. Thus he learned the motions required for the harp.

Also he blew with his mouth and practised with his fingers day and
night without stopping, so that when people called on him he would
see them but would not perceive them. He kept this up for three years
and so learned the motions for the flute.

He was a lightly built man in body, and poor at riding and at
archery. He often sighed over this defect, and said, "Though I am
weak and stupid and not able to shoot a long distance, I shall yet
know how to hit the target and make the bull's-eye. This also must be
acquired by practice." So every morning he took his bow and arrows
and went off into the hills. There he shot all day long, keeping it
up for three years, till he became a renowned archer. Thus you may
perceive the kind of man he was.


Yi Ryuk.



LI

STRANGELY STRICKEN DEAD


There was once a man called Kim Tok-saing, a soldier of fortune, who
had been specially honoured at the Court of Tai-jong. He had several
times been generalissimo of the army, and on his various campaigns
had had an intimate friend accompany him, a friend whom he greatly
loved. But Kim had been dead now for some ten years and more, when one
night this friend of his was awakened with a start and gave a great
outcry. He slept again, but a little later was disturbed once more by
a fright, at which he called out. His wife, not liking this, inquired
as to what he meant. The friend said, "I have just seen General Kim
riding on a white horse, with bow and arrows at his belt. He called
to me and said, 'A thief has just entered my home, and I have come to
shoot him dead.' He went and again returned, and as he drew an arrow
from his quiver, I saw that there were blood marks on it. He said,
'I have just shot him, he is dead.'" The husband and wife in fear
and wonder talked over it together.

When morning came the friend went to General Kim's former home to
make inquiry. He learned that that very night Kim's young widow had
decided to remarry, but as soon as the chosen fiancé had entered her
home, a terrible pain shot him through, and before morning came he
died in great agony.


Yi Ryuk.



LII

THE MYSTERIOUS HOI TREE


Prince Pa-song's house was situated just inside of the great East Gate,
and before it was a large Hoi tree. On a certain night the Prince's
son-in-law was passing by the roadway that led in front of the archers'
pavilion. There he saw a great company of bowmen, more than he could
number, all shooting together at the target. A moment later he saw
them practising riding, some throwing spears, some hurling bowls, some
shooting from horseback, so that the road in front of the pavilion was
blocked against all comers. Some shouted as he came by, "Look at that
impudent rascal! He attempts to ride by without dismounting." They
caught him and beat him, paying no attention to his cries for mercy,
and having no pity for the pain he suffered, till one tall fellow came
out of their serried ranks and said in an angry voice to the crowd,
"He is my master; why do you treat him so?" He undid his bonds,
took him by the arm and led him home. When the son-in-law reached
the gate he looked back and saw the man walk under the Hoi tree and
disappear. He then learned, too, that all the crowd of archers were
spirits and not men, and that the tall one who had befriended him was a
spirit too, and that he had come forth from their particular Hoi tree.


Yi Ryuk.



LIII

TA-HONG


[Sim Heui-su studied as a young man at the feet of No Su-sin, who was
sent as an exile to a distant island in the sea. Thither he followed
his master and worked at the Sacred Books. He matriculated in 1570
and graduated in 1572. In 1589 he remonstrated with King Son-jo over
the disorders of his reign, and was the means of quelling a great
national disturbance; but he made a faux pas one day when he said
laughingly to a friend--


    "These sea-gull waves ride so high,
        Who can tame them?"


Those who heard caught at this, and it became a source of unpopularity,
as it indicated an unfavourable opinion of the Court.

In 1592, when the King made his escape to Eui-ju, before the invading
Japanese army, he was the State's Chief Secretary, and after the
return of the King he became Chief Justice. He resigned office, but the
King refused to accept his resignation, saying, "I cannot do without
you." He became chief of the literati and Special Adviser. Afterwards
he became Minister of the Right, then of the Left, at which time
he wrote out ten suggestions for His Majesty to follow. He saw the
wrongs done around the King, and resigned office again and again,
but was constantly recalled.

In 1608 Im Suk-yong, a young candidate writing for his matriculation,
wrote an essay exposing the wrongs of the Court. Sim heard of this, and
took the young man under his protection. The King, reading the essay,
was furiously angry, and ordered the degradation of Im, but Sim said,
"He is with me; I am behind what he wrote and approve; degrade me and
not him," and so the King withdrew his displeasure. He was faithful
of the faithful.

When he was old he went and lived in Tun-san in a little tumble-down
hut, like the poorest of the literati. He called himself "Water-thunder
Muddy-man," a name derived from the Book of Changes.

He died in 1622 at the age of seventy-four, and is recorded as one
of Korea's great patriots.]



The Story


Minister Sim Heui-su was, when young, handsome as polished marble, and
white as the snow, rarely and beautifully formed. When eight years of
age he was already an adept at the character, and a wonder in the eyes
of his people. The boy's nickname was Soondong (the godlike one). From
the passing of his first examination, step by step he advanced,
till at last he became First Minister of the land. When old he was
honoured as the most renowned of all ministers. At seventy he still
held office, and one day, when occupied with the affairs of State,
he suddenly said to those about him, "To-day is my last on earth,
and my farewell wishes to you all are that you may prosper and do
bravely and well."

His associates replied in wonder, "Your Excellency is still strong
and hearty, and able for many years of work; why do you speak so?"

Sim laughingly made answer, "Our span of life is fixed. Why should
I not know? We cannot pass the predestined limit. Please feel no
regret. Use all your efforts to serve His Majesty the King, and make
grateful acknowledgment of his many favours."

Thus he exhorted them, and took his departure. Every one wondered
over this strange announcement. From that day on he returned no more,
it being said that he was ailing.

There was at that time attached to the War Office a young secretary
directly under Sim. Hearing that his master was ill, the young man
went to pay his respects and to make inquiry. Sim called him into
his private room, where all was quiet. Said he, "I am about to die,
and this is a long farewell, so take good care of yourself, and do
your part honourably."

The young man looked, and in Sim's eyes were tears. He said, "Your
Excellency is still vigorous, and even though you are slightly ailing,
there is surely no cause for anxiety. I am at a loss to understand
your tears, and what you mean by saying that you are about to die. I
would like to ask the reason."

Sim smiled and said, "I have never told any person, but since you
ask and there is no longer cause for concealment, I shall tell you
the whole story. When I was young certain things happened in my life
that may make you smile.

"At about sixteen years of age I was said to be a handsome boy and
fair to see. Once in Seoul, when a banquet was in progress and many
dancing-girls and other representatives of good cheer were called,
I went too, with a half-dozen comrades, to see. There was among the
dancing-girls a young woman whose face was very beautiful. She was not
like an earthly person, but like some angelic being. Inquiring as to
her name, some of those seated near said it was Ta-hong (Flower-bud).

"When all was over and the guests had separated, I went home, but
I thought of Ta-hong's pretty face, and recalled her repeatedly,
over and over; seemingly I could not forget her. Ten days or so
later I was returning from my teacher's house along the main street,
carrying my books under my arm, when I suddenly met a pretty girl,
who was beautifully dressed and riding a handsome horse. She alighted
just in front of me, and to my surprise, taking my hand, said,
'Are you not Sim Heui-su?'

"In my astonishment I looked at her and saw that it was Ta-hong. I
said, 'Yes, but how do you know me?' I was not married then, nor had
I my hair done up, and as there were many people in the street looking
on I was very much ashamed. Flower-bud, with a look of gladness in her
face, said to her pony-boy, 'I have something to see to just now; you
return and say to the master that I shall be present at the banquet
to-morrow.' Then we went aside into a neighbouring house and sat
down. She said, 'Did you not on such and such a day go to such and
such a Minister's house and look on at the gathering?' I answered,
'Yes, I did.' 'I saw you,' said she, 'and to me your face was like a
god's. I asked those present who you were, and they said your family
name was Sim and your given-name Heui-su, and that your character
and gifts were very superior. From that day on I longed to meet you,
but as there was no possibility of this I could only think of you. Our
meeting thus is surely of God's appointment.'

"I replied laughingly, 'I, too, felt just the same towards you.'

"Then Ta-hong said, 'We cannot meet here; let's go to my aunt's home in
the next ward, where it's quiet, and talk there.' We went to the aunt's
home. It was neat and clean and somewhat isolated, and apparently
the aunt loved Flower-bud with all the devotion of a mother. From
that day forth we plighted our troth together. Flower-bud had never
had a lover; I was her first and only choice. She said, however,
'This plan of ours cannot be consummated to-day; let us separate for
the present and make plans for our union in the future.' I asked her
how we could do so, and she replied, 'I have sworn my soul to you,
and it is decided for ever, but you have your parents to think of,
and you have not yet had a wife chosen, so there will be no chance
of their advising you to have a second wife as my social standing
would require for me. As I reflect upon your ability and chances for
promotion, I see you already a Minister of State. Let us separate
just now, and I'll keep myself for you till the time when you win
the first place at the Examination and have your three days of public
rejoicing. Then we'll meet once more. Let us make a compact never to be
broken. So then, until you have won your honours, do not think of me,
please. Do not be anxious, either, lest I should be taken from you,
for I have a plan by which to hide myself away in safety. Know that
on the day when you win your honours we shall meet again.'

"On this we clasped hands and spoke our farewells as though we
parted easily. Where she was going I did not ask, but simply came
home with a distressed and burdened heart, feeling that I had lost
everything. On my return I found that my parents, who had missed me,
were in a terrible state of consternation, but so delighted were they
at my safe return that they scarcely asked where I had been. I did
not tell them either, but gave another excuse.

"At first I could not desist from thoughts of Ta-hong. After a long
time only was I able to regain my composure. From that time forth with
all my might I went at my lessons. Day and night I pegged away, not for
the sake of the Examination, but for the sake of once more meeting her.

"In two years or so my parents appointed my marriage. I did not
dare to refuse, had to accept, but had no heart in it, and no joy in
their choice.

"My gift for study was very marked, and by diligence I grew to be
superior to all my competitors. It was five years after my farewell
to Ta-hong that I won my honours. I was still but a youngster, and
all the world rejoiced in my success. But my joy was in the secret
understanding that the time had come for me to meet Ta-hong. On
the first day of my graduation honours I expected to meet her, but
did not. The second day passed, but I saw nothing of her, and the
third day was passing and no word had reached me. My heart was so
disturbed that I found not the slightest joy in the honours of the
occasion. Evening was falling, when my father said to me, 'I have a
friend of my younger days, who now lives in Chang-eui ward, and you
must go and call on him this evening before the three days are over,'
and so, there being no help for it, I went to pay my call. As I was
returning the sun had gone down and it was dark, and just as I was
passing a high gateway, I heard the Sillai call. [3] It was the home
of an old Minister, a man whom I did not know, but he being a high
noble there was nothing for me to do but to dismount and enter. Here
I found the master himself, an old gentleman, who put me through
my humble exercises, and then ordered me gently to come up and sit
beside him. He talked to me very kindly, and entertained me with
all sorts of refreshments. Then he lifted his glass and inquired,
'Would you like to meet a very beautiful person?' I did not know what
he meant, and so asked, 'What beautiful person?' The old man said,
'The most beautiful in the world to you. She has long been a member
of my household.' Then he ordered a servant to call her. When she
came it was my lost Ta-hong. I was startled, delighted, surprised,
and speechless almost. 'How do you come here?' I gasped.

"She laughed and said, 'Is this not within the three days of your
public celebration, and according to the agreement by which we parted?'

"The old man said, 'She is a wonderful woman. Her thoughts are high
and noble, and her history is quite unique. I will tell it to you. I
am an old man of eighty, and my wife and I have had no children,
but on a certain day this young girl came to us saying, "May I have
the place of slave with you, to wait on you and do your bidding?"

"'In surprise I asked the reason for this strange request, and she
said, "I am not running away from any master, so do not mistrust me."

"'Still, I did not wish to take her in, and told her so, but she begged
so persuasively that I yielded and let her stay, appointed her work to
do, and watched her behaviour. She became a slave of her own accord,
and simply lived to please us, preparing our meals during the day,
and caring for our rooms for the night; responding to calls; ever
ready to do our bidding; faithful beyond compare. We feeble old folks,
often ill, found her a source of comfort and cheer unheard of, making
life perfect peace and joy. Her needle, too, was exceedingly skilful,
and according to the seasons she prepared all that we needed. Naturally
we loved and pitied her more than I can say. My wife thought more of
her than ever mother did of a daughter. During the day she was always
at hand, and at night she slept by her side. At one time I asked her
quietly concerning her past history. She said she was originally the
child of a free-man, but that her parents had died when she was very
young, and, having no place to go to, an old woman of the village
had taken her in and brought her up. "Being so young," said she,
"I was safe from harm. At last I met a young master with whom I
plighted a hundred years of troth, a beautiful boy, none was ever
like him. I determined to meet him again, but only after he had won
his honours in the arena. If I had remained at the home of the old
mother I could not have kept myself safe, and preserved my honour;
I would have been helpless; so I came here for safety and to serve
you. It is a plan by which to hide myself for a year or so, and then
when he wins I shall ask your leave to go."

"'I then asked who the person was with whom she had made this contract,
and she told me your name. I am so old that I no longer think of taking
wives and concubines, but she called herself my concubine so as to
be safe, and thus the years have passed. We watched the Examination
reports, but till this time your name was absent. Through it all
she expressed not a single word of anxiety, but kept up heart saying
that before long your name would appear. So confident was she that
not a shadow of disappointment was in her face. This time on looking
over the list I found your name, and told her. She heard it without
any special manifestation of joy, saying she knew it would come. She
also said, "When we parted I promised to meet him before the three
days of public celebration were over, and now I must make good my
promise." So she climbed to the upper pavilion to watch the public
way. But this ward being somewhat remote she did not see you going
by on the first day, nor on the second. This morning she went again,
saying, "He will surely pass to-day"; and so it came about. She said,
"He is coming; call him in."

"'I am an old man and have read much history, and have heard of many
famous women. There are many examples of devotion that move the heart,
but I never saw so faithful a life nor one so devoted to another. God
taking note of this has brought all her purposes to pass. And now,
not to let this moment of joy go by, you must stay with me to-night.'

"When I met Ta-hong I was most happy, especially as I heard of her
years of faithfulness. As to the invitation I declined it, saying I
could not think, even though we had so agreed, of taking away one who
waited in attendance upon His Excellency. But the old man laughed,
saying, 'She is not mine. I simply let her be called my concubine in
name lest my nephews or some younger members of the clan should steal
her away. She is first of all a faithful woman: I have not known her
like before.'

"The old man then had the horse sent back and the servants, also a
letter to my parents saying that I would stay the night. He ordered the
servants to prepare a room, to put in beautiful screens and embroidered
matting, to hang up lights and to decorate as for a bridegroom. Thus
he celebrated our meeting.

"Next morning I bade good-bye, and went and told my parents all about
my meeting with Ta-hong and what had happened. They gave consent that
I should have her, and she was brought and made a member of our family,
really my only wife.

"Her life and behaviour being beyond that of the ordinary, in serving
those above her and in helping those below, she fulfilled all the
requirements of the ancient code. Her work, too, was faithfully done,
and her gifts in the way of music and chess were most exceptional. I
loved her as I never can tell.

"A little later I went as magistrate to Keumsan county in Chulla
Province, and Ta-hong went with me. We were there for two years. She
declined our too frequent happy times together, saying that it
interfered with efficiency and duty. One day, all unexpectedly, she
came to me and requested that we should have a little quiet time,
with no others present, as she had something special to tell me. I
asked her what it was, and she said to me, 'I am going to die, for
my span of life is finished; so let us be glad once more and forget
all the sorrows of the world.' I wondered when I heard this. I could
not think it true, and asked her how she could tell beforehand that
she was going to die. She said, 'I know, there is no mistake about it.'

"In four or five days she fell ill, but not seriously, and yet a day or
two later she died. She said to me when dying, 'Our life is ordered,
God decides it all. While I lived I gave myself to you, and you most
kindly responded in return. I have no regrets. As I die I ask only
that my body be buried where it may rest by the side of my master
when he passes away, so that when we meet in the regions beyond I
shall be with you once again.' When she had so said she died.

"Her face was beautiful, not like the face of the dead, but like the
face of the living. I was plunged into deepest grief, prepared her
body with my own hands for burial. Our custom is that when a second
wife dies she is not buried with the family, but I made some excuse
and had her interred in our family site in the county of Ko-yang. I
did so to carry out her wishes. When I came as far as Keum-chang on
my sad journey, I wrote a verse--


   'O beautiful Bud, of the beautiful Flower,
      We bear thy form on the willow bier;
    Whither has gone thy sweet perfumed soul?
      The rains fall on us
    To tell us of thy tears and of thy faithful way.'


"I wrote this as a love tribute to my faithful Ta-hong. After her
death, whenever anything serious was to happen in my home, she always
came to tell me beforehand, and never was there a mistake in her
announcements. For several years it has continued thus, till a few
days ago she appeared in a dream saying, 'Master, the time of your
departure has come, and we are to meet again. I am now making ready
for your glad reception.'

"For this reason I have bidden all my associates farewell. Last night
she came once more and said to me, 'To-morrow is your day.' We wept
together in the dream as we met and talked. In the morning, when I
awoke, marks of tears were still upon my cheeks. This is not because
I fear to die, but because I have seen my Ta-hong. Now that you
have asked me I have told you all. Tell it to no one." So Sim died,
as was foretold, on the day following. Strange, indeed!


Im Bang.


                                THE END



NOTES


[1] The head button is the insignia of rank, and is consequently a
valuable heirloom in a Korean home.--J. S. G.

[2] Kalpa means a Buddhistic age.

[3] A shrill whistle by which graduates command the presence of a
new graduate to haze or honour, as they please.





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