By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Korean Tales - Being a collection of stories translated from the Korean folk lore
Author: Allen, Horace Newton
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Korean Tales - Being a collection of stories translated from the Korean folk lore" ***

                              KOREAN TALES

                     BEING A COLLECTION OF STORIES

                          DESCRIPTIVE OF KOREA

                           H. N. ALLEN, M.D.

                           NEW YORK & LONDON
                          G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
                        The Knickerbocker Press



      I.--Introductory                                5
          The Country, People, and Government.

      II.--Descriptive                               15
           Sights in and about the Capital.

     III.--The Rabbit and other Legends              28
           Stories of Birds and Animals.

      IV.--The Enchanted Wine Jug                    40

       V.--Ching Yuh and Kyain Oo                    56
           The Trials of Two Heavenly Lovers.

      VI.--Hyung Bo and Nahl Bo                      89

     VII.--Chun Yang                                116
           The Faithful Dancing-Girl Wife.

    VIII.--Sim Chung                                152
           The Dutiful Daughter.

      IX.--Hong Kil Tong                            170


The national emblem of Korea, pictured on the cover, represents the
male and female elements of nature; the dark blue representing Heaven
(the male), the yellow representing Earth (the female). As seen across
the Eastern Sea, the heavens seem to lap over and embrace the earth,
while the earth, to landwards, rises in the lofty mountains and folds
the heavens in its embrace, making a harmonious whole.

The characters represent the four points of the compass, and belong to
the original eight characters given by the first King, and from which
"all language" sprung. The whole set is as follows:

            ===   ===   = =   = =   = =   = =   ===   ===
            ===   = =   = =   ===   ===   = =   ===   = =
            ===   ===   ===   ===   = =   = =   = =   = =


Repeatedly, since returning to the United States, people have asked me,
"Why don't you write a book on Korea?" I have invariably replied that
it was not necessary, and referred the inquirers to the large work
of Dr. Griffis, entitled "Corea, the Hermit Kingdom," which covers
the subject in a charming manner.

My object in writing this book was to correct the erroneous impressions
I have found somewhat prevalent--that the Koreans were a semi-savage
people. And believing that the object could be accomplished best in
displaying the thought, life, and habits of the people as portrayed
in their native lore, I have made these translations, which, while
they are so chosen as to cover various phases of life, are not to be
considered as especially selected.

I also wished to have some means of answering the constant
inquiries from all parts of the country concerning Korean life and

People in Washington have asked me if Korea was an island in the
Mediterranean; others have asked if Korea could be reached by rail
from Europe; others have supposed that Korea was somewhere in the
South Seas, with a climate that enabled the natives to dispense with
clothing. I have therefore included two chapters, introductory and
descriptive in character, concerning the subjects of the majority of
such questions.

"Globe trotters," in passing from Japan to North China, usually go
by way of the Korean ports, now that a line of excellent Japanese
steamships covers that route. These travellers see the somewhat
barren coasts of Korea--left so, that outsiders might not be tempted
to come to the then hermit country; perhaps they land at Chemulpoo
(the port of the capital, thirty miles distant), and stroll through
the rows of miserable, temporary huts, occupied by the stevedores,
the pack-coolies, chair-bearers, and other transient scum, and then
write a long article descriptive of Korea. As well might they describe
America as seen among the slab shanties of one of the newest western
railroad towns, for when the treaties were formed in 1882 not a house
stood where Chemulpoo now stands, with its several thousand regular
inhabitants and as many more transients.

H. N. Allen.

Washington, D. C., July 1, 1889.


Korea, Corea, or Chosen (morning calm) occupies the peninsula hanging
down from Manchooria and Russian Siberia between China and Japan,
and extending from the 33d to the 43d parallels of north latitude.

The area, including the outlying islands, is about one hundred thousand
square miles. The population, according to the most reliable estimate,
is a little more than sixteen millions. Yet, as the people live in
cities, towns, and hamlets, the country does not seem to be thickly

The climate varies much at the extremities of the peninsula, owing
to the fact that the southern portion is somewhat affected by the
warm southern currents that give Japan its tropical climate, but
which are warded off from Korea proper by the Japanese islands. The
climate of the central and northern provinces is much the same as
that of the northern central United States, with fewer changes. The
large river at the capital is not uncommonly frozen over for weeks
at a time during the winter, so that heavy carts pass over on the
ice. Ice is always preserved for general use in summer.

The country is decidedly mountainous, and well watered. Heavy timber
abounds in the northeast. The valleys are very fertile and are well
tilled, as the people are mainly devoted to agriculture.

The mineral resources have only been developed in a crude way,
yet sufficiently to demonstrate the great wealth of the ore
deposits. Especially is this true in reference to the gold mines.

The most pessimistic visitors to Korea are unstinted in their praise
of the beautiful scenery, which is fully appreciated by the natives
as well. From ancient times they have had guide-books setting
forth the natural charms of particular localities; and excursions
to distant places for the sole purpose of enjoying the views are a
common occurrence.

The King rules as absolute monarch. He is assisted by the
Prime-Minister and his two associates--the ministers of the Left and
Right. Next to these come the heads of the six departments of Etiquette
and Ceremonies, Finance, War, Public Works, Justice, and Registration,
with the heads of the two new departments that have been added as
the result of the opening up of foreign intercourse--the Foreign
(or outside) Office, and the Home (or interior) Office. This body of
officials forms the grand council of the King.

Each of the eight provinces is ruled by a governor, who has under
him prefects, local magistrates, supervisors of hamlets, and petty
officials, so that the whole scale makes a very complete system and
affords no lack of officials.

There are several special officers appointed by the King, one of whom
is the government inspector, whose duty it is to go about in disguise,
learn the condition of the people, and ascertain if any magistrate
abuses his office and oppresses the people unjustly. Any such he may
bring to speedy justice.

The present Dynasty has existed 498 years. Being founded by a revolting
general named Ye, it is known as the Ye Dynasty. The King's name,
however, is never used. He is almost sacred to his people. Those
officials of sufficiently high rank to go in before him bow to the
ground in his presence, and only speak when spoken to; then they use
a highly honorific language only understood at court.

The revenues are paid in kind, hence the annual income of an official
may consist of a certain quantity of rice, and other products, in
addition to his money compensation. The King, also, has the whole
revenue resulting from the sale of the ginseng, for which the country
is noted. This forms his private purse.

The currency is the common copper cash, worth some twelve hundred to
the Mexican dollar; though now that the new mint is in operation,
copper, silver, and gold coins are being made. The old perforated
cash will, however, be hard to supplant, owing to its convenience in
small transactions.

Banks proper do not exist; though the government does a kind of banking
business in granting orders on various provincial offices, so that
a travelling official need not be burdened with much ready money. A
number of large brokers at the capital assist in the government
financial transactions.

All unoccupied land belongs to the King, but any man may take up a
homestead, and, after tilling it and paying taxes on it for a period
of three years, it becomes his own, and must be purchased should the
government need it.

Deeds are given in the form of receipts and quit-claims by the
seller. These may be registered with the local magistrate. Wills,
as understood in western countries, are not executed; though a father
wishing to provide especially for the children of his concubines may
make a will, or statement, the proper execution of which devolves
upon the eldest son.

Records of the births of males are kept, as are also records of deaths,
but these are not always reliable. All males of fifteen years of age
are registered at the Hang Sung Poo, or Department of Registration,
which issues to them tablets bearing their name and address. Children
are also generally provided with these tablets, to prevent their
getting lost.

The people are well built and strong, as a rule. They are a loyal,
contented race, not grasping, and rather too easy in disposition. They
are intelligent and learn with great ease. Possessed of many
characteristics in common with their neighbors, the Chinese and
Japanese, they yet seem to have a personality indicative of a different
parentage, which continually calls forth inquiry as to their origin. In
some slight degree they resemble the aborigines of America, and it
is believed that their ancestors came from the north:--the question
opens up a fertile field for study. Their written records are said to
date back three thousand years. Their traditional first king descended
from heaven five thousand years ago. With a civilization of such age
they might well be excused for so long barring their doors against
the new civilization of the young nations of the West. While, as
a matter of fact, the difference existing between the two is more
one of degree than essence, perhaps more vices may be found in the
civilization of the West than are known to this people. And, with a
few exceptions, the virtues taught by the modern civilization have
been practised for centuries behind the bars of isolation that shut
in this self-satisfied people.

The people dress in imported cotton sheetings mostly, padding them well
with cotton-wool for winter use, and using the plain bleached white,
or dying the cloth a light shade of blue or green. Rice is the staple
article of food in the central and southern provinces; wheat enters
more largely into the diet of the northern people. Their cattle are
as large and fine as may be found anywhere; the people eat much beef,
and hides are a prominent article of export. Their houses are well
built and comfortable; foreigners adapt them to their own use with
little trouble. The houses are heated by means of a system of flues
underneath the floor, which is made of large flagstone placed over the
flues and well cemented; over all thick, strong, oil paper is placed,
making a rich, dark, highly polished floor, through which no smoke can
come, though it is always agreeably warm. The houses are all one story,
built around a court, and several sets of buildings, each within a
separate wall, usually make up a gentleman's compound. The buildings
are covered with a thick layer of earth and capped with tile laid on
in graceful curves. This roof insures coolness in summer. The rooms
are made almost air-tight by the plentiful use of paper on the walls
outside and in, as well as for doors and windows.

There are three great classes in Korea: the nobility, the middle class,
and the commoners. A commoner, not of the proscribed orders, may rise
to nobility by successfully passing the competitive examinations. The
officials are appointed from the noble classes.

The language is peculiar to the country, and while written official
documents are done in the common character of China and Japan, the
spoken language of neither of these people is understood in Korea. The
native language of Korea possesses an alphabet and grammar, and is
polysyllabic, thus resembling English more than it does Chinese.

In religious matters the Koreans are peculiar in that they may be
said to be without a religion, properly speaking. Prior to the advent
of the present dynasty, Buddhism reigned, but for 498 years it has
been in such disfavor that no priest dare enter a walled city. They
still maintain temples in the mountains, but exert but little if any
influence. In morals the people are Confucianists, and their reverent
devotion to their ancestors may serve in part as a religion. In
times of distress they "pray to Heaven," and seem really to be very
devoutly inclined.

Christianity came into disfavor through the indiscretion of its early
teachers. The distrust is slowly passing away now, and missionaries
are openly employed in doing the educational work that must precede
any successful attempt to secure the adoption of beliefs so radically
different from all existing ideas.

Some of the results of the outside intercourse that has been
indulged in for the past eight years may be mentioned. A maritime
customs service, under the charge of American and European officers,
is in very successful operation. So is a hospital, supported by the
government and operated by American physicians, gratuitously furnished
by the American Presbyterian Mission. The government supports a school
for which American teachers are employed. American military officers
have charge of the reorganization of the army and conduct a school for
the purpose of instructing the young officers. A mint, machine-shops,
powder-mills, silk filatures, an electric light, and a telegraph and
cable line are some of the new institutions recently adopted and, as a
rule, now in successful operation. Steamships have also been purchased
more for the purpose of transporting tribute rice than as a nucleus
for a navy. In regard to the relations existing between Korea and
China the reader is respectfully referred to a paper delivered before
the American Oriental Society by the Chinese scholar, W. W. Rockhill,
U. S. Secretary of Legation at Pekin, and contained in Vol. III. of
the Society's publications for 1888. In his preface Mr. Rockhill says:

"The nature of Korea's relations with China has for the last thirty
years been a puzzle for Western nations. Were they--with the ambiguous
utterance of the Chinese Government before them that 'Korea, though a
vassal and tributary state of China, was entirely independent so far
as her government, religion, and intercourse with foreign States were
concerned'--to consider it as an integral part of the Chinese Empire,
or should they treat it as a sovereign state, enjoying absolute
international rights?

"The problem was practically solved by the conclusion of the treaty
between Japan, and later on the United States, and Korea, but this
has not materially altered the nature of the relations existing for
the last four centuries, at least between China and its so-called
vassal. That China has, however, derived profit from the opening of
Korea to the commerce of nations, there can be no doubt, for she, too,
being at liberty to conclude treaties with Korea and open this new
market to her merchants, has done so, like other nations, though she
has chosen to call her treaty by the euphonious name of 'commercial
and trade regulations for the subjects of China and Korea', and her
diplomatic representative in Seoul, 'Minister Resident for political
and commercial affairs.' What China's relations with Korea were prior
to the opening of the latter kingdom by the treaty of 1883, I propose
to show in the following pages, taking as my authorities official
Chinese publications and writings of men in official position."




As "Paris is France," so Seoul may be said to be Korea, for it is the
centre from which nearly every thing for the country either originates
or is disseminated. Officers ruling over country districts usually
have their "house in town," and expect to spend a portion, at least,
of their time within the walls of the capital. While some of the
provincial capitals are said to contain more people and to be more
celebrated for certain reasons, Seoul is the home of the King and
the Mecca of his faithful subjects. A description of this city may,
therefore, answer for all. The capital is a city of some 300,000
inhabitants, half of whom, perhaps, live in the extensive suburbs
without the walls. It lies in a basin of granite sand, surrounded by
high mountains and their projecting ridges, over which climbs the high,
thick, encircling wall of masonry; pierced at convenient points by
massive, pagoda-roofed gates, amply strong enough for defense against
the weapons of war in use at the time of building this great relic
of seclusion.

The city is traversed by broad avenues from which runs a perfect
labyrinth of narrow streets. Originally none of these streets were
less than twenty feet wide, and some of the avenues leading up to the
imposing gates of the palaces are even now a good two hundred feet
in width. But the streets have all been encroached upon by the little
temporary thatched booths of the petty retail dealers, so that, with
the exception of the approaches to the palaces, the line is broken,
the streets made tortuous, and only here and there a broad open
spot indicates the original width of the thoroughfare. Originally
every street was furnished with its sewer--open in the smaller
streets, while the avenues were drained by great covered sewers of
stonework. Occasionally the proprietor of one of the little temporary
booths would put a foundation under his structure, bridging over the
sewer, until now the streets have in many cases become mere crooked
alleys, and but for the bountiful rains, the excellent natural
drainage, and the character of the soil, the mortality would be very
great instead of being less than in ordinary American cities. No
attempt is made towards street decoration, as that would attract the
attention of thieves. The magnificent grounds of a nobleman, with their
artificial lakes, flower gardens, water-worn pillars of ancient rock
and quaintly twisted trees, may be enclosed by a row of tumble-down,
smoke-begrimed servant-quarters that would never indicate the beauty
to be found hidden within its forbidding exterior.

Travellers never seem to realize that a street in the East is apt to
be but a "way" between two points, and as the usual Oriental odors
greet their nostrils and their eyes rest on the dirty servants and
their dirtier hovels, they at once denounce the whole town.

There is attraction enough, however, in a Korean street for any one
who is in search of strange sights. Looking down one of the broad
thoroughfares of Seoul from a point on the city wall, the sun's rays,
falling on the light-colored gowns of the pedestrians as they saunter
along amid the bulls and ponies, produce a kaleidoscopic effect that
is certainly charming. Passing down into the throng it will be seen to
be made up mostly of men, with here and there a group of common women,
each closely veiled with a bright green gown, made like the long outer
garment of the men, and possessing little sleeves of crimson. This
strange garment is never worn, but is always used as a covering for
the fair (?) face. Tradition teaches that in ancient times, when wars
were frequent, veils were discarded and these gowns were worn by the
wives and sisters, that, in case of sudden call to arms, they could
be given to their husbands and brothers to be worn to battle--hence
the red sleeves, upon which the gory sword was to be wiped.

The peculiar gauze "stove-pipe" hat of the men, about which so much has
been said, also has its origin in tradition, as follows: In ancient
days conspiracies were common; to prevent these an edict was issued
compelling all men to wear great earthenware hats, the size of an
umbrella (type of the mourner's hat in Korea to-day, except that the
latter is made of finely woven basket-work). This law became very
odious, for in addition to the weight of the hats, not more than a
very few men could come close enough together to converse, and even
then spies could hear their necessarily loud whispering. Little by
little, therefore, the law began to be infringed upon till the people
got down to the present airy structure of horsehair, silk, and bamboo.

Another story is, that petty wars being too frequent between rival
sections, all men were compelled to wear these umbrella hats of
clay. In case one became broken the possessor was punished by
decapitation--naturally they stopped their fighting and took good
care of their hats till the law was repealed.

The custom of wearing white so extensively as they do is also
accounted for by tradition. Mourning is a serious business in Korea,
for on the death of a father the son must lay aside his gay robes
and clothe himself in unbleached cotton of a very coarse texture. He
wraps his waist with a rope girdle, and puts on the umbrella hat,
which conceals the whole upper portion of his person. For further
protection against intrusion he carries a white fan, and, should he
smoke, his pipe must be wrapped with white. For three years he must
wear this guise and must do no work, so that the resources of even
a large and prosperous family may be thus exhausted.

Should a king die, the whole nation would be compelled to don this
mourning garb, or rather they would be compelled to dress in white--the
mourning color. Once, during a period of ten years, three kings died,
necessitating a constant change of dress on the part of the people
and a great outlay of money, for a Korean wardrobe is extensive
and costly. Tradition has it, therefore, that, to be ready for the
caprice of their kings in the future, the people adopted white as
the national color.

The nobility and wealthy persons who can afford it, dress in rich gayly
colored silks, and even the common people add a little blue or green to
their outside robes, so that when they wander about over the beautiful
green hills in their favorite pastime of admiring the natural beauties
of a remarkably beautiful and well preserved landscape, their bright
gowns but add to the general effect. And a long procession of monks
emerging from their high mountain temple and descending along the
green mountain path might be taken for a company of the spirits with
which their literature abounds; especially will this be the case if,
as is common, the region of the temple is shrouded with clouds.

But little of home life is seen along the streets, and the favored
ones who may pass the great gates and traverse the many courts which
lead to the fine inclosures of the nobility would see but little of
home life, as the women have quarters by themselves, and are only
seen by the men of their own family.

It is pleasant, however, to see the little groups of the working class
sitting around the fire which is cooking their evening meal and at
the same time heating the platform of paper and cement-covered stones
which form the floor of their bed chamber, and on which they will
spread their mats and sleep. They will all be found to be smoking,
and if tobacco was ever a blessing to any people it is to the lower
classes in Korea, who find in it their greatest comfort. No one could
see the solid enjoyment taken by a Korean coolie with his pipe without
blessing the weed.

As the fires burn low, and one by one the smokers have knocked
the ashes from their pipes and sought the warm stone floor, a deep
stillness settles over the profoundly dark city. The rich, deep notes
of a great centrally located bell ring out as the watchman draws back
a huge suspended beam of wood, and releasing it, lets it strike the
bronze side of the heavy bell, from which vibration after vibration
is sent forth upon the still night-air.

Some weird music, which has been likened to that of Scotch bagpipes,
is heard from the direction of the city gates, and the traveller,
who is still threading the streets to his abode, feels thankful that
he has arrived in time, for now the massive gates are closed, and
none may enter without royal permission. The street traveller will
also hasten to his home or stopping-place, for between the ringing
of the evening chimes and the tolling of the bell to announce the
approach of dawn, all men must absent themselves from the streets,
which then are taken possession of by the women, who even then, as
they flit about from house to house with their little paper lanterns,
go veiled lest some passing official should see their faces. [1]

The midnight stillness is broken by the barking of countless dogs,
but as cats are in disfavor their serenades are seldom heard. Another
sound is often, in busy times heard throughout the whole night. It
is peculiar to Korea, and to one who has lived long in the country
it means much. It is the drumming of the Korean laundry. To give the
light-colored gowns their highly prized lustre they must be well
pounded; for this purpose the cloth is wrapped around a long hard
roller which is fixed in a low frame, two women then sit facing each
other with, in each hand, a round, hard stick, something like a small
base-ball bat, and they commence beating the cloth, alternating so
as to make quite a musical tinkle.

Heard at some distance this rhythmic rattle is not unpleasant, and
one is assured that in the deep night that has settled so like a pall
over the city, two persons are wide-awake and industriously engaged,
while, when the tapping ceases for a bit, one is comforted with
the thought that the poor things are enjoying a rich bit of gossip,
or welcoming a friend who is more fortunate in having finished her
ironing in time to enjoy the freedom of the night.

Inside the Palace the night is turned into day as nearly as can be
done by the electric light. The business of the government is mostly
transacted at night that the wheels of administration may run smoothly
during the day. At sun-down several lights may be seen on the summit
of the beautiful ever green south mountain which forms the southern
limit of the city; as does a grim stony peak on the north serve a
similar purpose on that side. The south mountain faces the Palaces. It
also commands a good view of the outlying peaks, upon some of which,
situated in suitable localities, are stationed watchmen, so placed as
to command a view of others farther and farther removed; thus forming
lines from the distant borders of the country to the capital. On
these peaks small signal-fires are nightly kindled, and as the lights
are seen by the watchman on the south mountain, he builds the proper
number of fires upon little altars in full view of the Palace. Then a
body of gray old officers go in before His Majesty, and bowing their
heads to the floor, make known the verdict of the signal-fires,
as to whether peace reigns in the borders or not. Soon after this
the officials assemble and the business of the government begins,
the King giving his personal attention to all matters of importance.

There are three palace inclosures in the city, only one of which
is occupied. One is an old ruined place that was built for the use
of a ruler who chanced to be regent for his father, and as he could
not reside in the Palace proper this smaller place was prepared for
him. The buildings now are in ruins, while the large grounds are used
by the foreign silk expert as a nursery for mulberry-trees.

The present Palace includes some hundreds of acres, and is the home
of more than three thousand attendants. The grounds are beautifully
diversified by little lakes of several acres in extent, one of which
surrounds a magnificent and stately pavilion, supported on great stone
pillars,--a fine picture and description of this, and other parts of
the Palace, may be found in Mr. Lowell's "Chosen." The other lake
possesses a bright little pagoda-like pavilion, around which plays
a steam launch, dividing the lotus flowers which grow in the water,
and startling the swan, duck, and other aquatic animals that make
this their home.

These lakes are fed and drained by a mountain stream that enters
and leaves the Palace inclosure, through water-gates built under the
walls. Some of the bridges spanning this brook are quaint pieces of
artistic masonry, having animals carved in blocks of stone, represented
in the act of plunging into the liquid depths below. This carved stone
work abounds throughout the Palace buildings; the largest of which
is the great Audience-Hall, with its mast-like pillars supporting a
ceiling at an elevation of near one hundred feet above the tiled floor.

The dwelling-houses of the Royal Family are built upon the banks
of one of the small lakes, and are surrounded by walls for greater
seclusion. The rooms are furnished with costly articles from European
markets, together with the finest native furniture. Foreign-trained
cooks are employed, and the dinners sometimes given to distinguished
foreign guests are in entire accord with modern western
methods. Royalty is never present at these banquets, which are
presided over by one of the heads of departments; the Royal Family,
maybe, witnessing the novel sight from a secluded place where their
presence may not be known.

The King only leaves the Palace upon certain occasions, as when he
goes to bow before the tombs of his ancestors. On these occasions
the streets are cleared of the little straw-thatched booths of the
petty retail merchants as well as of all other unsightly objects. The
street is roped off and sprinkled with fresh earth, and the people
don their holiday garb, for it is indeed a great gala day to
them. The procession is a gorgeous relic of mediæval times, with
bits of the present strangely incorporated. There may be regiments
of soldiers in the ancient fiery coats of mail, preceded or followed
by soldiers dressed in the queer hybrid uniforms of the modern army,
and bearing the bayoneted rifles of the present day, instead of the
quaint matchlock-guns and ugly spears of the ancient guard. The wild,
weird music of the native bands may be followed by the tooting of
the buglers of the modern soldiery.

The strange one-wheeled chair of an official, with its numbers of
pushers and supporters, will probably be followed by an artillery
company dragging Gatling guns. His Majesty himself will be borne in
a great throne-like chair of red work, supported on the shoulders
of thirty-two oddly attired bearers, while high officials in the
government service may be mounted on horse back, or borne in less
pretentious chairs. The length of the procession varies, but it is
seldom less than an hour in passing a given place.

The King is thirty-eight years of age. The Queen is one year his
senior. The Crown Prince is fifteen years old, and has no brothers
or sisters. Foreigners who have been granted an audience with the
King are always pleased with his affability and brightness. He
is quick of perception and very progressive. By having foreign
newspapers translated to him he keeps fully abreast of the times. He
is kind-hearted to a fault, and much concerned for the welfare of
his people. His word is law, and an official would never think of
failing to carry out his instructions or perish in the attempt. Owing
to his great seclusion and the amount of ceremony with which he is
hedged in, and the fact that, as a rule, nothing disagreeable must be
brought to his notice, he is somewhat at the mercy of his favorites;
and a trusted eunuch, having the King's ear continually, may become
a great power for good or bad as the case may be. As decapitation is
the usual punishment for most crimes, however, and as an official
who should deceive the King would probably meet with such an end,
the responsibility of the place is apt to sober an otherwise fickle
mind and insure honest reports.



The Koreans are great students of Nature. Nothing seems to escape their
attention as they plod through the fields or saunter for pleasure over
the green hills. A naturally picturesque landscape is preserved in its
freshness by the law that forbids the cutting of timber or fuel in any
but prescribed localities. The necessity that compels the peasants to
carefully rake together all the dried grass and underbrush for fuel,
causes even the rugged mountain sides to present the appearance of
a gentleman's well kept park, from which the landscape gardener has
been wisely excluded.

Nature's beauty in Korea may be said to be enhanced rather than marred
by the presence of man; since the bright tints of the ample costume
worn by all lends a quaint charm to the view. The soil-begrimed white
garments of the peasants at work in the fields are not especially
attractive at short range; but the foot-traveller, clad in a gorgeous
gown of light-colored muslin, adds a pleasant touch to the general
effect, as he winds about the hills following one of the "short-cut"
paths; while the flowing robes of brightly colored silk worn by the
frequent parties of gentry who may be met, strolling for recreation,
are a positive attraction. Nor are these groups uncommon. The
climate during most of the year is so delightful; the gentry are so
pre-eminently a people of leisure, and are so fond of sight-seeing,
games, and music, that they may be continually met taking a stroll
through the country.

As has been said, nothing out-of-doors seems to have escaped their
attention. The flowers that carpet the earth from snow till snow have
each been named and their seasons are known.

The mah-hah in-doors throws out its pretty sessile blossoms upon the
leafless stem sometimes before the snows have left, as though summer
were borne upon winter's bare arm with no leafy spring to herald
her approach. Then the autumn snows and frosts often arrive before
the great chrysanthemums have ceased their blooming, while, between
the seasons of the two heralds, bloom myriads of pretty plants that
should make up a veritable botanical paradise. Summer finds the whole
hill-sides covered with the delicate fluffy bloom of the pink azaleas,
summoning forth the bands of beauty seekers who have already admired
the peach and the plum orchards. Great beds of nodding lilies of the
valley usher in the harvest, and even the forest trees occasionally
add their weight of blossoms to the general effect.

The coming and going of the birds is looked for, and the peculiarities
and music of each are known. As a rule, they are named in accordance
with the notes they utter; the pigeon is the pe-dul-key; the crow
the kaw-mah-gue; the swallow the chap-pie, and so on. One bird--I
think it is the oriole--is associated with a pretty legend to the
effect that, once upon a time, one of the numerous ladies at court
had a love affair with one of the palace officials--a Mr. Kim. It
was discovered, and the poor thing lost her life. Her spirit could
not be killed, however, and, unappeased, it entered this bird, in
which form she returned to the palace and sang, "Kim-pul-lah-go,"
"Kim-pul, Kim-pul-lah-go," then, receiving no response, she would
mournfully entreat--"Kim-poh-go-sip-so," "Kim-poh-go-sip-so." Now,
in the language of Korea, "Kim-pul-lah-go" means "call Kim" or "tell
Kim to come," and "Kim poh go sip so" means "I want to see Kim." So,
even to this day, the women and children feel sad when they hear
these plaintive notes, and unconsciously their hearts go out in pity
for the poor lone lover who is ever searching in vain for her Kim.

Another bird of sadness is the cuckoo, and the women dislike to hear
its homesick notes echoing across the valleys.

The pe chu kuh ruk is a bird that sings in the wild mountain places
and warns people that robbers are near. When it comes to the hamlets
and sings, the people know that the rice crop will be a failure,
and that they will have to eat millet.

The crow is in great disfavor, as it eats dead dog, and brings the
dread fever--Yim pyung.

The magpie--that impudent, noisy nuisance,--however, is in great favor,
so much so that his great ugly nest is safe from human disturbance,
and his presence is quite acceptable, especially in the morning. He
seems to be the champion of the swallows that colonize the thick roofs
and build their little mud houses underneath the tiles, for when one
of the great lazy house-snakes comes out to sun himself after a meal
of young swallows, the bereaved parents and friends at once fly off
for the saucy magpie, who comes promptly and dashes at the snake's
head amid the encouraging jabbering of the swallows. They usually
succeed in driving the reptile under the tiles.

Should the magpie come to the house with his (excuse for a)
song in the morning, good news may be expected during the day;
father will return from a long journey; brother will succeed in his
(civil-service) examination and obtain rank, or good news will be
brought by post. Should the magpie come in the afternoon with his
jargon, a guest--not a friend--may be expected with an appetite equal
to that of a family of children; while, if the magpie comes after dark,
thieves may be dreaded.

This office of house-guard is also bestowed upon the domestic
goose. Aside from its beauty, this bird is greatly esteemed for its
daring in promptly sounding an alarm, should any untimely visitor
enter the court, as well as for its bravery in boldly pecking at and,
in some cases, driving out the intruder.

The wild goose is one of the most highly prized birds in Korea. It
always participates in the wedding ceremonies; for no man would think
himself properly married had he not been presented by his bride
with a wild goose, even though the bird were simply hired for the
occasion. The reason for this is that these observing people once
noticed that a goose, whose mate was killed, returned to the place
year after year to mourn her loss; and such constancy they seek, by
this pretty custom, to commend to their wives. They further pledge
each other at this time in these words: "Black is the hair that now
crowns our heads, yet when it has become as white as the fibres of
the onion root, we shall still be found faithful to each other."

The white heron seems to be the especial friend of man. Many are the
tales told of the assistance it has rendered individuals. In one case
the generous-hearted creature is said to have pecked off its bill
in its frantic attempts to ring a temple bell for the salvation of
a man. One of the early stories relates how a hunter, having shot an
arrow through the head of a snake that was about to devour some newly
hatched herons, was in turn saved by the mother bird, who pecked to
death a snake that had gotten into the man's stomach while he was
drinking at a spring. The pecking, further, was so expertly done as
not to injure the man.

The swallows are everywhere welcome, while the thievish sparrows
are killed as often as possible; the former live in the roofs of the
houses, and usually awaken the inmates by their delighted chattering
at each recurrence of dawn. A charming story is told of a swallow's
rewarding a kind man who had rescued it from a snake and bound up its
broken leg. The anecdote is too long to be related in this connection
further than to say that the bird gave the man a seed which, being
planted, brought him a vast fortune, while a seed given to his wicked
brother, who was cruel to the swallows, worked his ruin. The bird
held in the highest favor, however, is the stork. It is engraved in
jade and gold and embroidered in silk, as the insignia of rank for the
nobility. It is the bird that soars above the battle, and calls down
success upon the Korean arms. In its majestic flight it is supposed
to mount to heaven; hence its wisdom, for it is reputed to be a very
wise bird. A man was once said to have ridden to heaven on the back
of a huge stork, and judging from the great strength of a pair the
writer once had as pets, the people are warranted in believing that,
in the marvellous days of the ancients, these birds were used for
purposes of transportation.

The animals, too, have their stories, and in Korea, as in some other
parts of the world, the rabbit seems to come off best, as a rule. One
very good story is told concerning a scrape the rabbit got himself
into because of his curiosity, but out of which he extricated himself
at the expense of the whole fraternity of water animals.

It seems that on one occasion the king of fishes was a little
indiscreet, and while snapping greedily at a worm, got a hook through
his nose. He succeeded in breaking the line, and escaped having his
royal bones picked by some hungry mortal, but he was still in a great
dilemma, for he could in no way remove the cruel hook.

His finny majesty grew very ill; all the officials of his kingdom were
summoned and met in solemn council. From the turtle to the whale, each
one wore an anxious expression, and did his best at thinking. At last
the turtle was asked for his opinion, and announced his firm belief
that a poultice made from the fresh eye of a rabbit would remove the
disorder of their sovereign at once. He was listened to attentively,
but his plan was conceded to be impracticable, since they had no
fresh rabbit eyes or any means of obtaining them. Then the turtle
again came to the rescue, and said that he had a passing acquaintance
with the rabbit, whom he had occasionally seen when walking along
the beach, and that he would endeavor to bring him to the palace,
if the doctors would then take charge of the work, for the sight of
blood disagreed with him, and he would ask to absent himself from the
further conduct of the case. He was royally thanked for his offer,
and sent off in haste, realizing full well that his career was made
in case he succeeded, while he would be very much unmade if he failed.

'Twas a very hot day as the fat turtle dragged himself up the
hill-side, where he fortunately espied the rabbit. The latter, having
jumped away a short distance, cocked his ears, and looked over his
back to see who was approaching. Perceiving the turtle, he went over
and accosted him with, "What are you doing away up here, sir?"

"I simply came up for a view. I have always heard that the view over
the water from your hills was excellent, but I can't say it pays one
for the trouble of coming up," and the turtle wiped off his long neck
and stretched himself out to cool off in the air.

"You are not high enough; just come with me if you want to see a view,"
and the rabbit straightened up as if to start.

"No, indeed! I have had enough for once. I prefer the water. Why, you
should see the magnificent sights down there. There are beautiful green
forests of waving trees, mountains of cool stones, valleys and caves,
great open plains made beautiful by companies of brightly robed fishes,
royal processions from our palaces, and, best of all, the water bears
you up, and you go everywhere without exertion. No, let me return,
you have nothing on this dry, hot earth worth seeing." The turtle
turned to go, but the rabbit musingly followed. At length he said:

"Don't you have any difficulty in the water? Doesn't it get into
your eyes and mouth?" For he really longed in his heart to see the
strange sights.

"Oh, no! it bothers us no more than air, after we have once become
accustomed to it," said the turtle.

"I should very much like to see the place," said the rabbit, rather to
himself, "but 'tis no use, I couldn't live in the water like a fish."

"Why, certainly not," and the turtle concealed his excitement under an
air of indifference; "you couldn't get along by yourself, but if you
really wish to see something that will surprise you, you may get on
my back, give me your fore-paws, and I will take you down all right."

After some further assurance, the rabbit accepted the apparently
generous offer, and on arriving at the beach, he allowed himself to be
firmly fixed on the turtle's back, and down they went into the water,
to the great discomfort of the rabbit, who, however, eventually became
so accustomed to the water that he did not much mind it.

He was charmed and bewildered by the magnificence of every thing
he saw, and especially by the gorgeous palace, through which he
was escorted, by attendant fishes, to the sick chamber of the king,
where he found a great council of learned doctors, who welcomed him
very warmly. While sitting in an elegant chair and gazing about
at the surrounding magnificence, he chanced to hear a discussion
concerning the best way of securing his eyes before he should die. He
was filled with horror, and, questioning an attendant, the whole plot
was explained to him. The poor fellow scratched his head and wondered
if he would ever get out of the place alive. At last a happy thought
struck him. He explained to them that he always carried about two
pairs of eyes, his real ones and a pair made of mountain crystals,
to be used in very dusty weather.

Fearing that the water would injure his real eyes, he had buried them
in the sand before getting upon the turtle's back, and was now using
his crystal ones. He further expressed himself as most willing to
let them have one of his real eyes, with which to cure his majesty's
disorder, and assured them that he believed one eye would answer the
purpose. He gave them to understand that he felt highly honored in
being allowed to assist in so important a work, and declared that if
they would give the necessary order he would hasten on the turtle's
back to the spot where he had buried the eyes and return speedily
with one.

Marvelling much at the rabbit's courtesy, the fishes slunk away into
the corners for very shame at their own rude conduct in forcibly
kidnapping him, when a simple request would have accomplished their
purpose. The turtle was rather roughly commanded to carry the guest
to the place designated, which he did.

Once released by the turtle to dig for the eyes in the sand, the rabbit
shook the water from his coat, and winking at his clumsy betrayer told
him to dig for the eyes himself, that he had only one pair, and those
he intended to keep. With that he tore away up the mountain side,
and has ever after been careful to give the turtle a wide berth.



In ancient times there lived an old gray-haired man by the river's
bank where the ferry-boats land. He was poor but honest, and being
childless, and compelled to earn his own food, he kept a little
wine-shop, which, small though it was, possessed quite a local
reputation, for the aged proprietor would permit no quarrelling
on his premises, and sold only one brand of wine, and this was of
really excellent quality. He did not keep a pot of broth simmering
over the coals at his door to tempt the passer-by, and thus increase
his thirst on leaving. The old man rather preferred the customers who
brought their little long-necked bottles, and carried the drink to
their homes. There were some peculiarities--almost mysteries--about
this little wine-shop; the old man had apparently always been there,
and had never seemed any younger. His wine never gave out, no matter
how great might be the local thirst, yet he was never seen to make
or take in a new supply; nor had he a great array of vessels in his
shop. On the contrary, he always seemed to pour the wine out of the
one and same old bottle, the long, slender neck of which was black and
shiny from being so often tipped in his old hand while the generous,
warming stream gurgled outward to the bowl. This had long ceased to be
a matter of inquiry, however, and only upon the advent of a stranger
of an inquiring mind would the subject be re-discussed. The neighbors
were assured that the old man was thoroughly good, and that his wine
was better. Furthermore, he sold it as reasonably as other men sold a
much inferior article. And more than this, they did not care to know;
or at least if they did once care, they had gotten over it, and were
now content to let well enough alone.

I said the old man had no children. That is true, yet he had that which
in a slight degree took the place of children, in that they were his
daily care, his constant companions, and the partners of his bed and
board. These deputy children were none other than a good-natured old
dog, with laughing face and eyes, long silken ears that were ever on
the alert, yet too soft to stand erect, a chunky neck, and a large
round body covered with long soft tan hair and ending in a bushy
tail. He was the very impersonation of canine wisdom and good-nature,
and seldom became ruffled unless he saw his master worried by the ill
behavior of one of his patrons, or when a festive flea persisted in
attacking him on all sides at once. His fellow, a cat, would sometimes
assist in the onslaught, when the dog was about to be defeated and
completely ruffled by his tormentor.

This "Thomas" was also a character in his own way, and though past the
days when his chief ambition had been to catch his tail, he had such a
strong vein of humor running through him that age could not subdue his
frivolous propensities. He had been known to drop a dead mouse upon the
dog's nose from the counter, while the latter was endeavoring to get a
quiet nap; and then he would blow his tail up as a balloon, hump his
back, and look utterly shocked at such conduct, as the startled dog
nearly jumped out of his skin, and growling horribly, tore around as
though he were either in chase of a wild beast or being chased by one.

This happy couple lived in the greatest contentment with the old
man. They slept in the little kang room with him at night, and enjoyed
the warm stone floor, with its slick oil-paper covering, as much as
did their master. When the old man would go out on a mild moonlit
night to enjoy a pipe of tobacco and gaze at the stars, his companions
would rush out and announce to the world that they were not asleep,
but ready to encounter any and every thing that the darkness might
bring forth, so long as it did not enter their master's private court,
of which they were in possession.

These two were fair-weather companions up to this time. They had not
been with the old man when a bowl of rice was a luxury. Their days
did not antedate the period of the successful wine-shop history. The
old man, however, often recalled those former days with a shudder,
and thought with great complacency of the time when he had befriended
a divine being, in the form of a weary human traveller, to whom he
gave the last drink his jug contained, and how, when the contents
of the little jug had gurgled down the stranger's throat in a long
unbroken draught, the stranger had given him a trifling little thing
that looked like a bit of amber, saying: "Drop this into your jug,
old man, and so long as it remains there, you will never want for a
drink." He did so; and sure enough the jug was heavy with something,
so that he raised it to his lips, and--could he believe it! a most
delicious stream of wine poured down his parched throat.

He took the jug down and peered into its black depths; he shook its
sides, causing the elf within to dance and laugh aloud; and shutting
his eyes, again he took another long draught; then meaning well, he
remembered the stranger, and was about to offer him a drink, when he
discovered that he was all alone, and began to wonder at the strange
circumstance, and to think what he was to do. "I can't sit here and
drink all the time, or I will be drunk, and some thief will carry
away my jug. I can't live on wine alone, yet I dare not leave this
strange thing while I seek for work."

Like many another to whom fortune has just come, he knew not for a
time what to do with his good-luck. Finally he hit upon the scheme
of keeping a wine-shop, the success of which we have seen, and have
perhaps refused the old man credit for the wisdom he displayed in
continuing on in a small scale, rather than in exciting unpleasant
curiosity and official oppression, by turning up his jug and attempting
to produce wine at wholesale. The dog and cat knew the secret, and
had ever a watchful eye upon the jug, which was never for a moment
out of sight of one of the three pairs of eyes.

As the brightest day must end in gloom, however, so was this pleasant
state soon to be marred by a most sad and far-reaching accident.

One day the news flashed around the neighborhood that the old man's
supply of wine was exhausted; not a drop remained in his jug, and he
had no more with which to refill it. Each man on hearing the news ran
to see if it were indeed true, and the little straw-thatched hut and
its small court encircled by a mud wall were soon filled with anxious
seekers after the truth. The old man admitted the statement to be
true, but had little to say; while the dog's ears hung neglectedly
over his cheeks, his eyes dropped, and he looked as though he might
be asleep, but for the persistent manner in which he refused to lie
down, but dignifiedly bore his portion of the sorrow sitting upright,
but with bowed head.

"Thomas" seemed to have been charged with agitation enough for the
whole family. He walked nervously about the floor till he felt that
justice to his tail demanded a higher plane, where shoes could not
offend, and then betook himself to the counter, and later to the
beam which supported the roof, and made a sort of cats' and rats'
attic under the thatch.

All condoled with the old man, and not one but regretted that their
supply of cheap, good wine was exhausted. The old man offered no
explanation, though he had about concluded in his own mind that, as
no one knew the secret, he must have in some way poured the bit of
amber into a customer's jug. But who possessed the jug he could not
surmise, nor could he think of any way of reclaiming it. He talked
the matter over carefully and fully to himself at night, and the
dog and cat listened attentively, winking knowingly at each other,
and puzzling their brains much as to what was to be done and how they
were to assist their kind old friend.

At last the old man fell asleep, and then sitting down face to face
by his side, the dog and cat began a discussion. "I am sure," says
the cat, "that I can detect that thing if I only come within smelling
distance of it; but how do we know where to look for it." That was
a puzzler, but the dog proposed that they make a search through
every house in the neighborhood. "We can go on a mere kuh kyung
(look see), you know, and while you call on the cats indoors, and
keep your smellers open, I will yay gee (chat) with the dogs outside,
and if you smell any thing you can tell me."

The plan seemed to be the only good one, and it was adopted that
very night. They were not cast down because the first search was
unsuccessful, and continued their work night after night. Sometimes
their calls were not appreciated, and in a few cases they had to
clear the field by battle before they could go on with the search. No
house was neglected, however, and in due time they had done the whole
neighborhood, but with no success. They then determined that it must
have been carried to the other side of the river, to which place they
decided to extend their search as soon as the water was frozen over,
so that they could cross on the ice, for they knew they would not be
allowed in the crowded ferry-boats; and while the dog could swim, he
knew that the water was too icy for that. As it soon grew very cold,
the river froze so solidly that bull-carts, ponies, and all passed
over on the ice, and so it remained for near two months, allowing
the searching party to return each morning to their poor old master,
who seemed completely broken up by his loss, and did not venture away
from his door, except to buy the few provisions which his little fund
of savings would allow.

Time flew by without bringing success to the faithful comrades, and
the old man began to think they too were deserting him, as his old
customers had done. It was nearing the time for the spring thaw and
freshet, when one night as the cat was chasing around over the roof
timbers, in a house away to the outside of the settlement across the
river, he detected an odor that caused him to stop so suddenly as to
nearly precipitate himself upon a sleeping man on the floor below. He
carefully traced up the odor, and found that it came from a soapstone
tobacco box that sat upon the top of a high clothes-press near by. The
box was dusty with neglect, and "Thomas" concluded that the possessor
had accidentally turned the coveted gem (for it was from that the
odor came) out into his wine bowl, and, not knowing its nature,
had put it into this stone box rather than throw it away. The lid
was so securely fastened that the box seemed to be one solid piece,
and in despair of opening it, the cat went out to consult the superior
wisdom of the dog, and see what could be done. "I can't get up there,"
said the dog, "nor can you bring me the box, or I might break it."

"I cannot move the thing, or I might push it off, and let it fall to
the floor and break," said the cat.

So after explaining the things they could not do, the dog finally
hit upon a plan they might perhaps successfully carry out. "I will
tell you," said he. "You go and see the chief of the rat guild in this
neighborhood, tell him that if he will help you in this matter, we will
both let him alone for ten years, and not hurt even a mouse of them."

"But what good is that going to do?"

"Why, don't you see, that stone is no harder than some wood, and they
can take turns at it till they gnaw a hole through, then we can easily
get the gem."

The cat bowed before the marvellous judgment of the dog, and went off
to accomplish the somewhat difficult task of obtaining an interview
with the master rat. Meanwhile the dog wagged his ears and tail,
and strode about with a swinging stride, in imitation of the great
yang ban, or official, who occasionally walked past his master's
door, and who seemed to denote by his haughty gait his superiority
to other men. His importance made him impudent, and when the cat
returned, to his dismay, he found his friend engaged in a genuine
fight with a lot of curs who had dared to intrude upon his period of
self-congratulation. "Thomas" mounted the nearest wall, and howled
so lustily that the inmates of the house, awakened by the uproar,
came out and dispersed the contestants.

The cat had found the rat, who, upon being assured of safety,
came to the mouth of his hole, and listened attentively to the
proposition. It is needless to say he accepted it, and a contract
was made forthwith. It was arranged that work was to begin at once,
and be continued by relays as long as they could work undisturbed,
and when the box was perforated, the cat was to be summoned.

The ice had now broken up and the pair could not return home very
easily, so they waited about the neighborhood for some months, picking
up a scant living, and making many friends and not a few enemies,
for they were a proud pair, and ready to fight on provocation.

It was warm weather, when, one night, the cat almost forgot his
compact as he saw a big fat rat slinking along towards him. He
crouched low and dug his long claws into the earth, while every nerve
seemed on the jump; but before he was ready to spring upon his prey,
he fortunately remembered his contract. It was just in time, too,
for as the rat was none other than the other party to the contract,
such a mistake at that time would have been fatal to their object.

The rat announced that the hole was completed, but was so small at the
inside end that they were at a loss to know how to get the gem out,
unless the cat could reach it with his paw. Having acquainted the
dog with the good news, the cat hurried off to see for himself. He
could introduce his paw, but as the object was at the other end of
the box he could not quite reach it. They were in a dilemma, and
were about to give up, when the cat went again to consult with the
dog. The latter promptly told them to put a mouse into the box, and
let him bring out the gem. They did so, but the hole was too small
for the little fellow and his load to get out at the same time,
so that much pushing and pulling had to be done before they were
successful. They got it safely at last, however, and gave it at once
to the dog for safe-keeping. Then, with much purring and wagging of
tails, the contract of friendship was again renewed, and the strange
party broke up; the rats to go and jubilate over their safety, the
dog and cat to carry the good news to their mourning master.

Again canine wisdom was called into play in devising a means for
crossing the river. The now happy dog was equal to such a trifling
thing as this, however, and instructed the cat that he must take the
gem in his mouth, hold it well between his teeth, and then mount his
(the dog's) back, where he could hold on firmly to the long hair of
his neck while he swam across the river. This was agreed upon, and
arriving at the river they put the plan into execution. All went well
until, as they neared the opposite bank, a party of school-children
chanced to notice them coming, and, after their amazement at the
strange sight wore away, they burst into uproarious laughter, which
increased the more they looked at the absurd sight. They clapped their
hands and danced with glee, while some fell on the ground and rolled
about in an exhaustion of merriment at seeing a cat astride a dog's
back being ferried across the river.

The dog was too weary, and consequently matter-of-fact, to see much
fun in it, but the cat shook his sides till his agitation caused the
dog to take in great gulps of water in attempting to keep his head
up. This but increased the cat's merriment, till he broke out in a
laugh as hearty as that of the children, and in doing so dropped the
precious gem into the water. The dog, seeing the sad accident, dove at
once for the gem; regardless of the cat, who could not let go in time
to escape, and was dragged down under the water. Sticking his claws
into the dog's skin, in his agony of suffocation, he caused him so much
pain that he missed the object of his search, and came to the surface.

The cat got ashore in some way, greatly angered at the dog's rude
conduct. The latter, however, cared little for that, and as soon as
he had shaken the water from his hide, he made a lunge at his unlucky
companion, who had lost the results of a half year's faithful work
in one moment of foolishness.

Dripping like a "drowned cat," "Thomas" was, however, able to climb
a tree, and there he stayed till the sun had dried the water from
his fur, and he had spat the water from his inwards in the constant
spitting he kept up at his now enemy, who kept barking ferociously
about the tree below. The cat knew that the dog was dangerous when
aroused, and was careful not to descend from his perch till the coast
was clear; though at one time he really feared the ugly boys would
knock him off with stones as they passed. Once down, he has ever since
been careful to avoid the dog, with whom he has never patched up the
quarrel. Nor does he wish to do so, for the very sight of a dog causes
him to recall that horrible cold ducking and the day spent up a tree,
and involuntarily he spits as though still filled with river-water,
and his tail blows up as it had never learned to do till the day when
for so long its damp and draggled condition would not permit of its
assuming the haughty shape. This accounts for the scarcity of cats
and the popularity of dogs. [2]

The dog did not give up his efforts even now. He dove many times in
vain, and spent most of the following days sitting on the river's bank,
apparently lost in thought. Thus the winter found him--his two chief
aims apparently being to find the gem and to kill the cat. The latter
kept well out of his way, and the ice now covered the place where the
former lay hidden. One day he espied a man spearing fish through a hole
in the ice, as was very common. Having a natural desire to be around
where any thing eatable was being displayed, and feeling a sort of
proprietorship in the particular part of the river where the man was
fishing, and where he himself had had such a sad experience, he went
down and looked on. As a fish came up, something natural seemed to
greet his nostrils, and then, as the man lay down his catch, the dog
grabbed it and rushed off in the greatest haste. He ran with all his
might to his master, who, poor man, was now at the end of his string
(coin in Korea is perforated and strung on a string), and was almost
reduced to begging. He was therefore delighted when his faithful old
friend brought him so acceptable a present as a fresh fish. He at once
commenced dressing it, but when he slit it open, to his infinite joy,
his long-lost gem fell out of the fish's belly. The dog was too happy
to contain himself, but jumping upon his master, he licked him with
his tongue, and struck him with his paws, barking meanwhile as though
he had again treed the cat.

As soon as their joy had become somewhat natural, the old man carefully
placed the gem in his trunk, from which he took the last money he
had, together with some fine clothes--relics of his more fortunate
days. He had feared he must soon pawn these clothes, and had even
shown them to the brokers. But now he took them out to put them on,
as his fortune had returned to him. Leaving the fish baking on the
coals, he donned his fine clothes, and taking his last money, he went
and purchased wine for his feast, and for a beginning; for he knew
that once he placed the gem back in the jug, the supply of wine would
not cease. On his return he and the good dog made a happy feast of
the generous fish, and the old man completely recovered his spirits
when he had quaffed deeply of the familiar liquid to which his mouth
was now such a stranger. Going to his trunk directly, he found to his
amazement that it contained another suit of clothes exactly like the
first ones he had removed, while there lay also a broken string of
cash of just the amount which he had previously taken out.

Sitting down to think, the whole truth dawned upon him, and he then
saw how he had abused his privilege before in being content to use
his talisman simply to run a wine-shop, while he might have had money
and every thing else in abundance by simply giving the charm a chance
to work.

Acting upon this principle, the old man eventually became immensely
wealthy, for he could always duplicate any thing with his piece of
amber. He carefully tended his faithful dog, who never in his remaining
days molested a rat, and never lost an opportunity to attack every
cat he saw.




Ching Yuh and Kyain Oo were stars attendant upon the Sun. They fell
madly in love with each other, and, obtaining the royal permission,
they were married. It was to them a most happy union, and having
reached the consummation of their joys they lived only for one another,
and sought only each other's company. They were continually in each
other's embrace, and as the honey-moon bade fair to continue during
the rest of their lives, rendering them unfit for the discharge
of their duties, their master decided to punish them. He therefore
banished them, one to the farthest edge of the eastern heavens, the
other to the extreme opposite side of the great river that divides
the heavenly plains (the Milky Way).

They were sent so far away that it required full six months to make the
journey, or a whole year to go and come. As they must be at their post
at the annual inspection, they therefore could only hope to journey
back and forth for the scant comfort of spending one short night in
each other's company. Even should they violate their orders and risk
punishment by returning sooner, they could only see each other from
either bank of the broad river, which they could only hope to cross
at the season when the great bridge is completed by the crows, who
carry the materials for its construction upon their heads, as any
one may know, who cares to notice, how bald and worn are the heads
of the crows during the seventh moon.

Naturally this fond couple are always heart-broken and discouraged at
being so soon compelled to part after such a brief but long-deferred
meeting, and 'tis not strange that their grief should manifest itself
in weeping tears so copious that the whole earth beneath is deluged
with rains.

This sad meeting occurs on the night of the seventh day of the seventh
moon, unless prevented by some untoward circumstance, in which case
the usual rainy season is withheld, and the parched earth then unites
in lamentation with the fond lovers, whose increased trials so sadden
their hearts that even the fountain of tears refuses to flow for
their relief.


You Tah Jung was a very wise official, and a remarkably good man. He
could ill endure the corrupt practices of many of his associate
officials, and becoming dissatisfied with life at court, he sought
and obtained permission to retire from official life and go to the
country. His marriage had fortunately been a happy one, hence he
was the more content with the somewhat solitary life he now began
to lead. His wife was peculiarly gifted, and they were in perfect
sympathy with each other, so that they longed not for the society
of others. They had one desire, however, that was ever before them
and that could not be laid aside. They had no children; not even a
daughter had been granted them.

As You Tah Jung superintended the cultivation of his estate, he felt
that he would be wholly happy and content were it not for the lack of
offspring. He gave himself up to the fascinating pastime of fishing,
and took great delight in spending the most of his time in the
fields listening to the birds and absorbing wisdom, with peace and
contentment, from nature. As spring brought the mating and budding
season, however, he again got to brooding over his unfortunate
condition. For as he was the last of an illustrious family, the
line seemed like to cease with his childless life. He knew of the
displeasure his ancestors would experience, and that he would be unable
to face them in paradise; while he would leave no one to bow before
his grave and make offerings to his spirit. Again he bemoaned their
condition with his poor wife, who begged him to avail himself of his
prerogative and remove their reproach by marrying another wife. This
he stoutly refused to do, as he would not risk ruining his now pleasant
home by bringing another wife and the usual discord into it.

Instead of estranging them, their misfortune seemed but to bind this
pair the closer together. They were very devout people, and they prayed
to heaven continually for a son. One night the wife fell asleep while
praying, and dreamed a remarkable dream. She fancied that she saw
a commotion in the vicinity of the North Star, and presently a most
beautiful boy came down to her, riding upon a wonderful fan made of
white feathers. The boy came direct to her and made a low obeisance,
upon which she asked him who he was and where he came from. He said:
"I am the attendant of the great North Star, and because of a mistake
I fell into he banished me to earth for a term of years, telling me
to come to you and bring this fan, which will eventually be the means
of saving your life and my own."

In the intensity of her joy she awoke, and found to her infinite
sorrow that the beautiful vision was but a dream. She cherished it in
her mind, however, and was transported with joy when a beautiful boy
came to them with the succeeding spring-tide. The beauty of the child
was the comment of the neighborhood, and every one loved him. As he
grew older it was noticed that the graces of his mind were even more
remarkable than those of his person.

The next ten years were simply one unending period of blissful
contentment in the happy country home. They called the boy Pang Noo
(his family name being You, made him You Pang Noo). His mother taught
him his early lessons herself, but by the expiration of his first ten
years he had grown far beyond her powers, and his brilliant mind even
taxed his intelligent father in his attempts to keep pace with him.

About this time they learned of a wonderful teacher, a Mr. Nam Juh
Oon, whose ability was of great repute. It was decided that the boy
should be sent to this man to school, and great was the agitation
and sorrow at home at thought of the separation. He was made ready,
however, and with the benediction of father and caresses of mother,
he started for his new teacher, bearing with him a wonderful feather
fan which his father had given him, and which had descended from his
great-grandfather. This he was to guard with especial care, as, since
his mother's remarkable dream, preceding his birth, it was believed
that this old family relic, which bore such a likeness to the fan of
the dream, was to prove a talisman to him, and by it evil was to be
warded off, and good brought down upon him.


Strange as it may seem, events very similar in nature to those just
narrated were taking place in a neighboring district, where lived
another exemplary man named Cho Sung Noo. He was a man of great
rank, but was not in active service at present, simply because of
ill-health induced by constant brooding over his ill-fortune; for,
like You Tah Jung, he was the last of an illustrious family, and had
no offspring. He was so happily married, furthermore, that he had
never taken a second wife, and would not do so.

About the time of the events just related concerning the You family,
the wife of Cho, who had never neglected bowing to heaven and
requesting a child, dreamed. She had gone to a hill-side apart from
the house, and sitting in the moonlight on a clean plat of ground,
free from the litter of the domestic animals, she was gazing into the
heavens, hoping to witness the meeting of Ching Yuh and Kyain Oo, and
feeling sad at the thought of their fabled tribulations. While thus
engaged she fell asleep, and while sleeping dreamed that the four
winds were bearing to her a beautiful litter, supported upon five
rich, soft clouds. In the chair reclined a beautiful little girl,
far lovelier than any being she had ever dreamed of before, and the
like of which is never seen in real life. The chair itself was made
of gold and jade. As the procession drew nearer the dreamer exclaimed:
"Who are you, my beautiful child?"

"Oh," replied the child, "I am glad you think me beautiful, for then,
may be, you will let me stay with you."

"I think I should like to have you very much, but you haven't yet
answered my question."

"Well," she said, "I was an attendant upon the Queen of Heaven, but
I have been very bad, though I meant no wrong, and I am banished to
earth for a season; won't you let me live with you, please?"

"I shall be delighted, my child, for we have no children. But what
did you do that the stars should banish you from their midst?"

"Well, I will tell you," she answered. "You see, when the annual
union of Ching Yuh and Kyain Oo takes place, I hear them mourning
because they can only see each other once a year, while mortal pairs
have each other's company constantly. They never consider that while
mortals have but eighty years of life at most, their lives are without
limit, and they, therefore, have each other to a greater extent than
do the mortals, whom they selfishly envy. In a spirit of mischief
I determined to teach this unhappy couple a lesson; consequently,
on the last seventh moon, seventh day, when the bridge was about
completed and ready for the eager pair to cross heaven's river
to each others' embrace, I drove the crows away, and ruined their
bridge before they could reach each other. I did it for mischief,
'tis true, and did not count on the drought that would occur, but
for my misconduct and the consequent suffering entailed on mortals,
I am banished, and I trust you will take and care for me, kind lady."

When she had finished speaking, the winds began to blow around
as though in preparation for departure with the chair, minus its
occupant. Then the woman awoke and found it but a dream, though
the winds were, indeed, blowing about her so as to cause her to
feel quite chilly. The dream left a pleasant impression, and when,
to their intense joy, a daughter was really born to them, the fond
parents could scarcely be blamed for associating her somewhat with
the vision of the ravishing dream.

The child was a marvel of beauty, and her development was rapid and
perfect. The neighbors were so charmed with her, that some of them
seemed to think she was really supernatural, and she was popularly
known as the "divine maiden," before her first ten years were finished.

It was about the time of her tenth birthday that little Uhn Hah had
the interesting encounter upon which her whole future was to hinge.

It happened in this way: One day she was riding along on her nurses'
back, on her way to visit her grandmother. Coming to a nice shady spot
they sat down by the road-side to rest. While they were sitting there,
along came Pang Noo on his way to school. As Uhn Hah was still but a
girl she was not veiled, and the lad was confronted with her matchless
beauty, which seemed to intoxicate him. He could not pass by, neither
could he find words to utter, but at last he bethought him of an
expedient. Seeing some oranges in her lap, he stepped up and spoke
politely to the nurse, saying, "I am You Pang Noo, a lad on my way
to school, and I am very thirsty, won't you ask your little girl to
let me have one of her oranges?" Uhn Hah was likewise smitten with
the charms of the beautiful lad, and in her confusion she gave him
two oranges. Pang Noo gallantly said, "I wish to give you something
in return for your kindness, and if you will allow me I will write
your name on this fan and present it to you."

Having obtained the name and permission, he wrote: "No girl was ever
possessed of such incomparable graces as the beautiful Uhn Hah. I
now betroth myself to her, and vow never to marry other so long as I
live." He handed her the fan, and feasting his eyes on her beauty,
they separated. The fan being closed, no one read the characters,
and Uhn Hah carefully put it away for safe keeping without examining
it sufficiently close to discover the written sentiment.


Pang Noo went to school and worked steadily for three years. He learned
amazingly fast, and did far more in three years than the brightest
pupils usually do in ten. His noted teacher soon found that the boy
could even lead him, and it became evident that further stay at the
school was unnecessary. The boy also was very anxious to go and see his
parents. At last he bade his teacher good-by, to the sorrow of both,
for their companionship had been very pleasant and profitable, and
they had more than the usual attachment of teacher and pupil for each
other. Pang Noo and his attendant journeyed leisurely to their home,
where they were received with the greatest delight. His mother had not
seen her son during his schooling, and even her fond pride was hardly
prepared for the great improvement the boy had made, both in body and
mind, since last she saw him. The father eventually asked to see the
ancestral fan he had given him, and the boy had to confess that he had
it not, giving as an excuse that he had lost it on the road. His father
could not conceal his anger, and for some time their pleasure was
marred by this unfortunate circumstance. Such a youth and an only son
could not long remain unforgiven, however, and soon all was forgotten,
and he enjoyed the fullest love of his parents and admiration of his
friends as he quietly pursued his studies and recreation.

In this way he came down to his sixteenth year, the pride of the
neighborhood. His quiet was remarked, but no one knew the secret
cause, and how much of his apparent studious attention was devoted
to the charming little maiden image that was framed in his mental
vision. About this time a very great official from the neighborhood
called upon his father, and after the usual formalities, announced that
he had heard of the remarkable son You Tah Jung was the father of, and
he had come to consult upon the advisability of uniting their families,
as he himself had been blessed with a daughter who was beautiful and
accomplished. You Tah Jung was delighted at the prospect of making
such a fine alliance for his son, and gave his immediate consent,
but to his dismay, his son objected so strenuously and withal so
honorably that the proposition had to be declined as graciously as the
rather awkward circumstances would allow. Both men being sensible,
however, they but admired the boy the more, for the clever rascal
had begged his father to postpone all matrimonial matters, as far as
he was concerned, till he had been able to make a name for himself,
and had secured rank, that he might merit such attention.

Pang Noo was soon to have an opportunity to distinguish himself. A
great quaga (civil-service examination) was to be held at the capital,
and Pang Noo announced his intention of entering the lists and
competing for civil rank. His father was glad, and in due time started
him off in proper style. The examination was held in a great enclosure
at the rear of the palace, where the King and his counsellors sat in
a pavilion upon a raised stage of masonry. The hundreds of men and
youths from all parts of the country were seated upon the ground under
large umbrellas. Pang Noo was given a subject, and soon finished his
essay, after which he folded it up carefully and tossed the manuscript
over a wall into an enclosure, where it was received and delivered
to the board of examiners. These gentlemen, as well as His Majesty,
were at once struck with the rare merit of the production, and made
instant inquiry concerning the writer. Of course he was successful,
and a herald soon announced that Pang, the son of You Tah Jung had
taken the highest honors. He was summoned before the King, who was
pleased with the young man's brightness and wisdom. In addition to
his own rank, his father was made governor of a province, and made
haste to come to court and thank his sovereign for the double honor,
and to congratulate his son.

Pang was given permission to go and bow at the tomb of his ancestors,
in grateful acknowledgment for Heaven's blessings. Having done which,
he went to pay his respects to his mother, who fairly worshipped her
son now, if she had not done so before. During his absence the King
had authorized the board of appointments to give him the high rank of
Ussa, for, though he was young, His Majesty thought one so wise and
quick, well fitted to travel in disguise and spy out the acts of evil
officials, learn the condition of the people, and bring the corrupt
and usurous to punishment. Pang Noo was amazed at his success, yet
the position just suited him, for, aside from a desire to better the
condition of his fellow-men, he felt that in this position he would
be apt to learn the whereabouts of his lady-love, whose beautiful
vision was ever before him. Donning a suitable disguise, therefore,
he set out upon the business at hand with a light heart.


Uhn Hah during all this time had been progressing in a quiet way as a
girl should, but she also was quite the wonder of her neighborhood. All
this time she had had many, if not constant, dreams of the handsome
youth she had met by the roadside. She had lived over the incident
time and again, and many a time did she take down and gaze upon the
beautiful fan, which, however, opened and closed in such a manner
that, ordinarily, the characters were concealed. At last, however,
she discovered them, and great was her surprise and delight at the
message. She dwelt on it much, and finally concluded it was a heaven
arranged union, and as the lad had pledged his faith to her, she vowed
she would be his, or never marry at all. This thought she nourished,
longing to see Pang Noo, and wondering how she should ever find him,
till she began to regard herself as really the wife of her lover.

About this time one of His Majesty's greatest generals, who had
a reputation for bravery and cruelty as well, came to stop at his
country holding near by, and hearing of the remarkable girl, daughter
of the retired, but very honorable, brother official, he made a call
at the house of Mr. Cho, and explained that he was willing to betroth
his son to Cho's daughter. The matter was considered at length,
and Cho gave his willing consent. Upon the departure of the General,
the father went to acquaint his daughter with her good fortune. Upon
hearing it, she seemed struck dumb, and then began to weep and moan,
as though some great calamity had befallen her. She could say nothing,
nor bear to hear any more said of the matter. She could neither eat nor
sleep, and the roses fled from her tear-bedewed cheeks. Her parents
were dismayed, but wisely abstained from troubling her. Her mother,
however, betimes lovingly coaxed her daughter to confide in her,
but it was long before the girl could bring herself to disclose a
secret so peculiar and apparently so unwomanly. The mother prevailed
at last, and the whole story of the early infatuation eventually came
forth. "He has pledged himself to me," she said, "he recognized me at
sight as his heaven-sent bride, and I have pledged myself to him. I
cannot marry another, and, should I never find him on earth, this
fan shall be my husband till death liberates my spirit to join his
in the skies." She enumerated his great charms of manner and person,
and begged her mother not to press this other marriage upon her,
but rather let her die, insisting, however, that should she die her
mother must tell Pang Noo how true she had been to him.

The father was in a great dilemma. "Why did you not tell this to your
mother before? Here the General has done me the honor to ask that our
families be united, and I have consented. Now I must decline, and his
anger will be so great that he will ruin me at the Capitol. And then,
after all, this is but an absurd piece of childish foolishness. Your
fine young man, had he half the graces you give him, would have been
betrothed long before this."

"No! No!" she exclaimed, "he has pledged himself, and I know he is
even now coming to me. He will not marry another, nor can I. Would you
ask one woman to marry two men? Yet that is what you ask in this, for
I am already the wife of Pang Noo in my heart. Kill me, if you will,
but spare me this, I beg and entreat," and she writhed about on her
cot, crying till the mat was saturated with her tears.

The parents loved her too well to withstand her pleadings, and
resigning themselves to the inevitable persecution that must result,
they dispatched a letter to the General declining his kind offer,
in as unobjectionable a manner as possible. It had the result that
was feared. The General, in a towering rage, sent soldiers to arrest
Mr. Cho, but before he could go further, a messenger arrived from
Seoul with despatches summoning him to the Capitol immediately, as
a rebellion had broken out on the borders. Before leaving, however,
he instructed the local magistrate to imprison the man and not
release him till he consented to the marriage. It chanced that the
magistrate was an honest man and knew the General to be a very cruel,
relentless warrior. He therefore listened to Cho's story, and believed
the strange case. Furthermore, his love for the girl softened his
heart, and he bade them to collect what they could and go to another
province to live. Cho did so, with deep gratitude to the magistrate,
while the latter wrote to the General that the prisoner had avoided
arrest and fled to unknown parts, taking his family with him.


Poor Pang Noo did his inspection work with a heavy heart as time wore
on, and the personal object of his search was not attained. In the
course of his travels he finally came to his uncle, the magistrate
who had dismissed the Cho family. The uncle welcomed his popular
nephew right warmly, but questioned him much as to the cause of his
poor health and haggard looks, which so ill-became a man of his youth
and prospects. At last the kind old man secured the secret with its
whole story, and then it was his turn to be sad, for had he not just
sent away the very person the Ussa so much desired to see?

When Pang learned this his malady increased, and he declared he could
do no more active service till this matter was cleared up. Consequently
he sent a despatch to court begging to be released, as he was in
such poor health he could not properly discharge his arduous duties
longer. His request was granted, and he journeyed to Seoul, hoping to
find some trace of her who more and more seemed to absorb his every
thought and ambition.


In the meantime the banished family, heart-sick and travel-worn,
had settled temporarily in a distant hamlet, where the worn and
discouraged parents were taken sick. Uhn Hah did all she could for
them, but in spite of care and attention, in spite of prayers and
tears, they passed on to join their ancestors. The poor girl beat her
breast and tore her hair in an agony of despair. Alone in a strange
country, with no money and no one to shield and support her, it seemed
that she too must, perforce, give up. But her old nurse urged her to
cheer up, and suggested their donning male attire, in which disguise
they could safely journey to another place unmolested.

The idea seemed a good one, and it was adopted. They allowed their
hair to fall down the back in a long braid, after the fashion of the
unmarried men, and, putting on men's clothes, they had no trouble
in passing unnoticed along the roads. After having gone but a short
distance they found themselves near the capital of the province--the
home of the Governor. While sitting under some trees by the roadside
the Governor's procession passed by. The couple arose respectfully,
but the Governor (it was Pang Noo's father), espying the peculiar
feather fan, ordered one of the runners to seize the women and bring
them along. It was done; and when they were arrived at the official
yamen, he questioned the supposed man as to where he had secured
that peculiar fan. "It is a family relic," replied Uhn Hah, to the
intense amazement of the Governor, who pronounced the statement false,
as the fan was a peculiar feature in his own family, and must be one
that had descended from his own ancestors and been found or stolen
by the present possessor.

However, the Governor offered to pay a good round sum for the fan. But
Uhn Hah declared she would die rather than part with it, and the two
women in disguise were locked up in prison. A man of clever speech
was sent to interview them, and he offered them a considerable sum
for the fan, which the servant urged Uhn Hah to take, as they were
sadly in want. After the man had departed in disgust, however, the
girl upbraided her old nurse roundly for forsaking her in her time
of trial. "My parents are dead," she said. "All I have to represent
my husband is this fan that I carry in my bosom. Would you rob me
of this? Never speak so again if you wish to retain my love"; and,
weeping, she fell into the servant's arms, where, exhausted and
overwrought nature asserting itself, sleep closed her eyes.

While sleeping she dreamed of a wonderful palace on high, where she
saw a company of women, who pointed her to the blood-red reeds that
lined the river bank below, explaining that their tears had turned
to blood during their long search for their lovers, and dropping on
the reeds they were dyed blood-red. One of them prophesied, however,
that Uhn Hah was to be given superhuman strength and powers, and
that she would soon succeed in finding her lover, who was now a high
official, and so true to her that he was sick because he could not
find her. She awakened far more refreshed by the dream than by the
nap, and was soon delighted by being dismissed. The Governor's steward
took pity on the handsome "boy," and gave him a parting gift of wine
and food to carry with them, as well as some cash to help them on,
and, bidding him good-by, the women announced their intention of
travelling to a distant province.


Meanwhile Pang Noo had reached home, and was weary both in body
and mind. The King offered him service at court, but he asked to
be excused, and seemed to wish to hide himself and avoid meeting
people. His father marvelled much at this, and again urged the young
man to marry; but this seemed only to aggravate his complaint. His
uncle happened to come to his father's gubernatorial seat on a
business errand, and in pity for the young man, explained the cause
of the trouble to the father. He saw it all, and recalled the strange
beauty of the lad who had risked his life for the possession of the
fan, and as the uncle told the story of her excellent parentage, and
the trouble and death that resulted from the refusal to marry, he saw
through the whole strange train of circumstances, and marvelled that
heaven should have selected such an exemplary maiden for his son. And
then, as he realized how nearly he had come to punishing her severely,
for her persistent refusal to surrender the fan, and that, whereas,
he might have retained her and united her to his son, he had sent her
away unattended to wander alone; he heaped blame upon the son in no
stinted manner for his lack of confidence in not telling his father
his troubles. The attendants were carefully questioned concerning the
conduct of the strange couple while in custody at the governor's yamen,
and as to the probable direction they took in departure. The steward
alone could give information. He was well rewarded for having shown
them kindness, but his information cast a gloom upon the trio, for he
said they had started for the district where civil war was in progress.

"You unnatural son," groaned the father. "What have you done? You
secretly pledge yourself to this noble girl, and then, by your foolish
silence, twice allow her to escape, while you came near being the
cause of her death at the very hands of your father; and even now by
your foolishness she is journeying to certain death. Oh, my son! we
have not seen the last of this rash conduct; this noble woman's blood
will be upon our hands, and you will bring your poor father to ruin
and shame. Up! Stop your lovesick idling, and do something. Ask His
Majesty, with my consent, for military duty; go to the seat of war,
and there find your wife or your honor."

The father's advice was just what was needed; the son could not, of
necessity, disobey, nor did he wish to; but arming himself with the
courage of a desperate resolve to save his sweetheart, whom he fancied
already in danger from the rebels, he hurried to Seoul, and surprising
his sovereign by his strange and ardent desire for military service,
easily secured the favor, for the general in command was the same who
had wished to marry his son to Uhn Hah; he was also an enemy to Pang
Noo's father, and would like to see the only son of his enemy killed.

With apparently strange haste the expedition was started off, and no
time was lost on the long, hard march. Arriving near the seat of war,
the road led by a mountain, where the black weather-worn stone was as
bare as a wall, sloping down to the road. Fearing lest he was going
to his death, the young commander had some characters cut high on
the face of the rock, which read:

"Standing at the gate of war, I, You Pang Noo, humbly bow to Heaven's
decree. Is it victory, or is it death? Heaven alone knows the issue. My
only remaining desire is to behold the face of my lady Cho Gah." He put
this inscription in this conspicuous place, with the hope that if she
were in the district she would see it, and not only know he was true
to her, but also that she might be able to ascertain his whereabouts
and come to him. He met the rebels, and fought with a will, bringing
victory to the royal arms. But soon their provisions gave out, and,
though daily despatches arrived, no rations were sent in answer to
their constant demands. The soldiers sickened and died. Many more,
driven mad by hardship and starvation, buried their troubles deep in
the silent river, which their loyal spears had stained crimson with
their enemies blood.

You Pang Noo was about to retire against orders, when the rebels,
emboldened by the weak condition of their adversaries, came in force,
conquered and slew the remnant, and would have slain the commander
but for the counsel of two of their number, who urged that he be
imprisoned and held for ransom.


Again fate had interfered to further separate the lovers, for, instead
of continuing her journey, Uhn Hah had received news that induced her
to start for Seoul. While resting, on one occasion, they had some
conversation with a passer-by. He was from the capital, and stated
that he had gone there from a place near Uhn Hah's childhood home as an
attendant of the Ussa You Pang Noo, who had taken sick at his uncle's,
the magistrate, and had gone to Seoul, where he was excused from ussa
duty and offered service at court. He knew not of the recent changes,
but told his eager listener all he knew of Pang Noo's family.

The weary, foot-sore girl and her companion turned their faces toward
the capital, hoping at last to be rewarded by finding the object of
their search. That evening darkness overtook them before they had
found shelter, and spying a light through the trees, they sought it
out, and found a little hut occupied by an old man. He was reading
a book, but laid it aside as they answered his invitation to enter,
given in response to their knock. The usual salutations were exchanged,
but instead of asking who the visitors were, where they lived, etc.,
etc., the old man called her by her true name, Cho Nang Jah. "I am
not a Nang Jah" (a female appellation), she exclaimed; "I am a man!"

"Oh! I know you, laughed the old man; "you are Cho Nang Jah in very
truth, and you are seeking your future husband in this disguise. But
you are perfectly safe here."

"Ask me no questions," said he, as she was about to utter some
surprised inquiries. "I have been waiting for you and expecting
you. You are soon to do great things, for which I will prepare
you. Never mind your hunger, but devour this pill; it will give you
superhuman strength and courage." He gave her a pill of great size,
which she ate, and then fell asleep on the floor. The old man went
away, and soon the tired servant slept also. When they awoke it was
bright morning, and the birds were singing in the trees above them,
which were their only shelter, for the hut of the previous evening
had disappeared entirely, as had also the old man. Concluding that
the old man must be some heaven-sent messenger, she devoutly bowed
herself in grateful acknowledgment of the gracious manifestation.

Journeying on, they soon came to a wayside inn kept by an old farmer,
and here they procured food. While they were eating, a blind man
was prophesying for the people. When he came to Uhn Hah he said:
"This is a woman in disguise; she is seeking for her husband, who is
fighting the rebels, and searching for her. He is now nearly dead;
but he will not die, for she will rescue him." On hearing this she was
delighted and sad at the same time, and explaining some of her history
to the master of the house, he took her in with the women and treated
her kindly. She was very anxious to be about her work, however, since
heaven had apparently so clearly pointed it out to her, and, bidding
the simple but kind friends good-by, she started for the seat of war,
where she arrived after a long, tedious, but uneventful tramp.

Almost the first thing she saw was the inscription on the rocks left
by the very one she sought, and she cried bitterly at the thought
that maybe she was too late. The servant cheered her up, however,
by reciting the blind man's prophecy, and they went on their way till
they came to a miserable little inn, where they secured lodging. After
being there some time, Uhn Hah noticed that the innkeeper's wife was
very sad, and continually in tears. She therefore questioned her
as to the cause of her grief. "I am mourning over the fate of the
poor starved soldiers, killed by the neglect of some one at Seoul,
and for the brave young officer, You Pang Noo, whom the rebels
have carried away captive." At this Uhn Hah fainted away, and the
nurse made such explanation as she could. Restoratives were applied,
and she slowly recovered, when, on further questioning, it was found
that the inn-people were slaves of You Pang Noo, and had followed him
thus far. It was also learned that the absence of stores was generally
believed to be due to the corrupt general-in-chief, who not only hated
his gallant young officer, but was unwilling to let him achieve glory,
so long as he could prevent it.

After consultation, and learning further of the matter, Uhn Hah
wrote a letter explaining the condition of affairs, and dispatched
it to Pang Noo's father by the innkeeper. The Governor was not at
his country place, and the messenger had to go to Seoul, where,
to his horror, he found that his old master was in prison, sent
there by the influence of the corrupt General, his enemy, because
his son had been accused of being a traitor, giving over the royal
troops to the rebels, and escaping with them himself. The innkeeper,
however, secured access to the prison, and delivered the letter to
the unfortunate parent. Of course, nothing could be done, and again
he blamed his son for his stupid secrecy in concealing his troubles
from his father, and thus bringing ruin upon the family and injury
to the young lady. However, he wrote a letter to the good uncle,
relating the facts, and requesting him to find the girl, place her
in his home, and care for her as tenderly as possible. He could do
nothing more. The innkeeper delivered this letter to the uncle, and
was then instructed to carry a litter and attendants to his home and
bring back the young lady, attired in suitable garments. He did so
as speedily as possible, though the journey was a long and tedious one.

Once installed in a comfortable home poor Uhn Hah became more and
more lonely. She seemed to have nothing now to hope for, and the
stagnation of idleness was more than she could endure. She fancied her
lover in prison, and suffering, while she was in the midst of comfort
and luxury. She could not endure the thought, and prevailed upon her
benefactor to convey to His Majesty a petition praying that she be
given a body of soldiers and be allowed to go and punish the rebels,
reclaim the territory, and liberate her husband. The King marvelled
much at such a request, coming from one of her retiring, seclusive sex,
and upon the advice of the wicked General, who was still in command,
the petition was not granted. Still she persisted, and found other
ways of reaching the throne, till the King, out of curiosity to see
such a brave and loyal woman, bade her come before him.

When she entered the royal presence her beauty and dignity of carriage
at once won attention and respectful admiration, so that her request
was about to be granted, when the General suggested, as a last resort,
that she first give some evidence of her strength and prowess before
the national military reputation be entrusted to her keeping. It
seemed a wise thought, and the King asked her what she could do to
show that she was warranted in heading such a perilous expedition. She
breathed a prayer to her departed parents for help, and remembering
the strange promise of the old man who gave her the pill, she felt
that she could do almost any thing, and seizing a large weather-worn
stone that stood in an ornamental rock basin in the court, she threw
it over the enclosing wall as easily as two men would have lifted it
from the ground. Then, taking the General's sword, she began slowly
to manipulate it, increasing gradually, as though in keeping with
hidden music, till the movement became so rapid that the sword seemed
like one continuous ring of burning steel--now in the air, now about
her own person, and, again, menacingly near the wicked General, who
cowered in abject terror before the remarkable sight. His Majesty was
completely captivated, and himself gave the orders for her expedition,
raising her to relative rank, and giving her the choicest battalion
of troops. In her own peculiarly dignified way she expressed her
gratitude, and, bowing to the ground, went forth to execute her
sovereign's commands, and attain her heart's desire.

Again donning male attire, she completed her preparations, and departed
with eager delight to accomplish her mission. The troops having
obtained an inkling of the strange character and almost supernatural
power of their handsome, dashing leader, were filled with courage
and eager for the fray. But to the dismay of all, they had no sooner
arrived at the rebel infested country than severe rains began to fall,
making it impossible to accomplish any thing. This was explained,
however, by the spirits of the departed soldiers, who appeared to the
officers in dreams, and announced that as they had been sacrificed
by the cruel General, who had intentionally withheld their rations,
they would allow no success to the royal arms till their death was
avenged by his death. This was dispatched to court, and believed by
His Majesty, who had heard similar reports, oft repeated. He therefore
confined the General in prison, and sent his son (the one who wished
to marry Uhn Hah) to the front to be executed.

He was slain and his blood scattered to the winds. A feast was prepared
for the spirits of the departed soldiers, and this sacrifice having
been made, the storm ceased, the sun shone, and the royal troops
met and completely vanquished the rebels, restoring peace to the
troubled districts, but not obtaining the real object of the leaders'
search. After much questioning, among the captives, a man was found
who knew all about You Pang Noo, and where he was secreted. Upon the
promise of pardon, he conducted a party who rescued the captive and
brought him before their commander. Of course for a time the lovers
could not recognize each other after the years that had elapsed since
their first chance meeting.

You Pang Noo was given command and Uhn Hah modestly retired, adopted
her proper dress, and was borne back to Seoul in a litter. The whole
country rang with their praises. You Pang Noo was appointed governor
of a province, and the father was reinstated in office, while the
General who had caused the trouble was ignominiously put to death,
and his whole family and his estates were confiscated.

As Cho Uhn Hah had no parents, His Majesty determined that she should
have royal patronage, and decreed that their wedding should take place
in the great hall where the members of the royal family are united in
marriage. This was done with all the pomp and circumstance of a royal
wedding, and no official stood so high in the estimation of the King,
as the valiant, true-hearted You, while the virtues of his spouse
were the subject of songs and ballads, and she was extolled as the
model for the women of the country.




In the province of Chullado, in Southern Korea, lived two brothers. One
was very rich, the other very poor. For in dividing the inheritance,
the elder brother, instead of taking the father's place, and providing
for the younger children, kept the whole property to himself, allowing
his younger brother nothing at all, and reducing him to a condition
of abject misery. Both men were married. Nahl Bo, the elder, had many
concubines, in addition to his wife, but had no children; while Hyung
Bo had but one wife and several children. The former's wives were
continually quarrelling; the latter lived in contentment and peace with
his wife, each endeavoring to help the other bear the heavy burdens
circumstances had placed upon them. The elder brother lived in a fine,
large compound, with warm, comfortable houses; the younger had built
himself a hut of broom straw, the thatch of which was so poor that
when it rained they were deluged inside, upon the earthern floor. The
room was so small, too, that when Hyung Bo stretched out his legs in
his sleep his feet were apt to be thrust through the wall. They had
no kang, and had to sleep upon the cold dirt floor, where insects were
so abundant as to often succeed in driving the sleepers out of doors.

They had no money for the comforts of life, and were glad when a
stroke of good fortune enabled them to obtain the necessities. Hyung
Bo worked whenever he could get work, but rainy days and dull seasons
were a heavy strain upon them. The wife did plain sewing, and together
they made straw sandals for the peasants and vendors. At fair time the
sandal business was good, but then came a time when no more food was
left in the house, the string for making the sandals was all used up,
and they had no money for a new supply. Then the children cried to
their mother for food, till her heart ached for them, and the father
wandered off in a last attempt to get something to keep the breath
of life in his family.

Not a kernel of rice was left. A poor rat which had cast in his lot
with this kind family, became desperate when, night after night,
he chased around the little house without being able to find the
semblance of a meal. Becoming desperate, he vented his despair in such
loud squealing that he wakened the neighbors, who declared that the
mouse said his legs were worn off running about in a vain search for
a grain of rice with which to appease his hunger. The famine became
so serious in the little home, that at last the mother commanded her
son to go to his uncle and tell him plainly how distressed they were,
and ask him to loan them enough rice to subsist on till they could
get work, when they would surely return the loan.

The boy did not want to go. His uncle would never recognize him on
the street, and he was afraid to go inside his house lest he should
whip him. But the mother commanded him to go, and he obeyed. Outside
his uncle's house were many cows, well fed and valuable. In pens he
saw great fat pigs in abundance, and fowls were everywhere in great
numbers. Many dogs also were there, and they ran barking at him,
tearing his clothes with their teeth and frightening him so much that
he was tempted to run; but speaking kindly to them, they quieted down,
and one dog came and licked his hand as if ashamed of the conduct of
the others. A female servant ordered him away, but he told her he was
her master's nephew, and wanted to see him; whereupon she smiled but
let him pass into an inner court, where he found his uncle sitting
on the little veranda under the broad, overhanging eaves.

The man gruffly demanded, "who are you?" "I am your brother's son,"
he said. "We are starving at our house, and have had no food for
three days. My father is away now trying to find work, but we are
very hungry, and only ask you to loan us a little rice till we can
get some to return you."

The uncle's eyes drew down to a point, his brows contracted, and he
seemed very angry, so that the nephew began looking for an easy way of
escape in case he should come at him. At last he looked up and said:
"My rice is locked up, and I have ordered the granaries not to be
opened. The flour is sealed and cannot be broken into. If I give
you some cold victuals, the dogs will bark at you and try to take it
from you. If I give you the leavings of the wine-press, the pigs will
be jealous and squeal at you. If I give you bran, the cows and fowls
will take after you. Get out, and let me never see you here again." So
saying, he caught the poor boy by the collar and threw him into the
outer court, hurting him, and causing him to cry bitterly with pain
of body and distress of mind.

At home the poor mother sat jogging her babe in her weak arms, and
appeasing the other children by saying that brother had gone to their
uncle for food, and soon the pot would be boiling and they would all
be satisfied. When, hearing a foot-fall, all scrambled eagerly to
the door, only to see the empty-handed, red-eyed boy coming along,
trying manfully to look cheerful.

"Did your uncle whip you?" asked the mother, more eager for the safety
of her son, than to have her own crying want allayed.

"No," stammered the brave boy. "He had gone to the capital on
business," said he, hoping to thus prevent further questioning,
on so troublesome a subject.

"What shall I do"? queried the poor woman, amidst the crying and
moaning of her children. There was nothing to do but starve, it
seemed. However, she thought of her own straw shoes, which were
scarcely used, and these she sent to the market, where they brought
three cash (3/15 of a cent). This pittance was invested equally in
rice, beans, and vegetables; eating which they were relieved for the
present, and with full stomachs the little ones fell to playing happily
once more, but the poor mother was full of anxiety for the morrow.

Their fortune had turned, however, with their new lease of life,
for the father returned with a bale of faggots he had gathered
on the mountains, and with the proceeds of these the shoes were
redeemed and more food was purchased. Bright and early then next
morning both parents went forth in search of work. The wife secured
employment winnowing rice. The husband overtook a boy bearing a pack,
but his back was so blistered, he could with difficulty carry his
burden. Hyung Bo adjusted the saddle of the pack frame to his own back,
and carried it for the boy, who, at their arrival at his destination
in the evening, gave his helper some cash, in addition to his lodging
and meals. During the night, however, a gentleman wished to send a
letter by rapid dispatch to a distant place, and Hyung Bo was paid
well for carrying it.

Returning from this profitable errand, he heard of a very rich man, who
had been seized by the corrupt local magistrate, on a false accusation,
and was to be beaten publicly, unless he consented to pay a heavy sum
as hush money. Hearing of this, Hyung went to see the rich prisoner,
and arranged with him that he would act as his substitute for three
thousand cash (two dollars). The man was very glad to get off so
easily, and Hyung took the beating. He limped to his house, where his
poor wife greeted him with tears and lamentations, for he was a sore
and sorry sight indeed. He was cheerful, however, for he explained
to them that this had been a rich day's work; he had simply submitted
to a little whipping, and was to get three thousand cash for it.

The money did not come, however, for the fraud was detected, and
the original prisoner was also punished. Being of rather a close
disposition, the man seemed to think it unnecessary to pay for what
did him no good. Then the wife cried indeed over her husband's wrongs
and their own more unfortunate condition. But the husband cheered her,
saying: "If we do right we will surely succeed." He was right. Spring
was coming on, and he soon got work at plowing and sowing seed. They
gave their little house the usual spring cleaning, and decorated the
door with appropriate legends, calling upon the fates to bless with
prosperity the little home.

With the spring came the birds from the south country, and they seemed
to have a preference for the home of this poor family--as indeed did
the rats and insects. The birds built their nests under the eaves. They
were swallows, and as they made their little mud air-castles, Hyung
Bo said to his wife: "I am afraid to have these birds build their
nests there. Our house is so weak it may fall down, and then what
will the poor birds do?" But the little visitors seemed not alarmed,
and remained with the kind people, apparently feeling safe under the
friendly roof.

By and by the little nests were full of commotion and bluster; the
eggs had opened, and circles of wide opened mouths could be seen in
every nest. Hyung and his children were greatly interested in this
new addition to their family circle, and often gave them bits of
their own scanty allowance of food, so that the birds became quite
tame and hopped in and out of the hut at will.

One day, when the little birds were taking their first lesson in
flying, Hyung was lying on his back on the ground, and saw a huge
roof-snake crawl along and devour several little birds before he
could arise and help them. One bird struggled from the reptile and
fell, but, catching both legs in the fine meshes of a reed-blind,
they were broken, and the little fellow hung helplessly within the
snake's reach. Hyung hastily snatched it down, and with the help
of his wife he bound up the broken limbs, using dried fish-skin for
splints. He laid the little patient in a warm place, and the bones
speedily united, so that the bird soon began to hop around the room,
and pick up bits of food laid out for him. Soon the splints were
removed, however, and he flew away, happily, to join his fellows.

The autumn came; and one evening--it was the ninth day of the ninth
moon--as the little family were sitting about the door, they noticed
the bird with the crooked legs sitting on the clothes-line and singing
to them.

"I believe he is thanking us and saying good-by," said Hyung, "for
the birds are all going south now."

That seemed to be the truth, for they saw their little friend
no longer, and they felt lonely without the occupants of the now
deserted nests. The birds, however, were paying homage to the king
of birds in the bird-land beyond the frosts. And as the king saw the
little crooked-legged bird come along, he demanded an explanation of
the strange sight. Thereupon the little fellow related his narrow
escape from a snake that had already devoured many of his brothers
and cousins, the accident in the blind, and his rescue and subsequent
treatment by a very poor but very kind man.

His bird majesty was very much entertained and pleased. He thereupon
gave the little cripple a seed engraved with fine characters in gold,
denoting that the seed belonged to the gourd family. This seed the
bird was to give to his benefactor in the spring.

The winter wore away, and the spring found the little family
almost as destitute as when first we described them. One day they
heard a familiar bird song, and, running out, they saw their little
crooked-legged friend with something in its mouth, that looked like
a seed. Dropping its burden to the ground, the little bird sang to
them of the king's gratitude, and of the present he had sent, and
then flew away.

Hyung picked up the seed with curiosity, and on one side he saw the
name of its kind, on the other, in fine gold characters, was a message
saying: "Bury me in soft earth, and give me plenty of water." They
did so, and in four days the little shoot appeared in the fine
earth. They watched its remarkable growth with eager interest as
the stem shot up, and climbed all over the house, covering it up
as a bower, and threatening to break down the frail structure with
the added weight. It blossomed, and soon four small gourds began to
form. They grew to an enormous size, and Hyung could scarcely keep
from cutting them. His wife prevailed on him to wait till the frost had
made them ripe, however, as then they could cut them, eat the inside,
and make water-vessels of the shells, which they could then sell, and
thus make a double profit. He waited, though with a poor grace, till
the ninth moon, when the gourds were left alone, high upon the roof,
with only a trace of the shrivelled stems which had planted them there.

Hyung got a saw and sawed open the first huge gourd. He worked so long,
that when his task was finished he feared he must be in a swoon, for
out of the opened gourd stepped two beautiful boys, with fine bottles
of wine and a table of jade set with dainty cups. Hyung staggered back
and sought assurance of his wife, who was fully as dazed as was her
husband. The surprise was somewhat relieved by one of the handsome
youths stepping forth, placing the table before them, and announcing
that the bird king had sent them with these presents to the benefactor
of one of his subjects--the bird with broken legs. Ere they could
answer, the other youth placed a silver bottle on the table, saying:
"This wine will restore life to the dead." Another, which he placed
on the table, would, he said, restore sight to the blind. Then going
to the gourd, he brought two gold bottles, one contained a tobacco,
which, being smoked, would give speech to the dumb, while the other
gold bottle contained wine, which would prevent the approach of age
and ward off death.

Having made these announcements, the pair disappeared, leaving Hyung
and his wife almost dumb with amazement. They looked at the gourd, then
at the little table and its contents, and each looked at the other
to be sure it was not a dream. At length Hyung broke the silence,
remarking that, as he was very hungry, he would venture to open
another gourd, in the hope that it would be found full of something
good to eat, since it was not so important for him to have something
with which to restore life just now as it was to have something to
sustain life with.

The next gourd was opened as was the first, when by some means out
flowed all manner of household furniture, and clothing, with rolls
upon rolls of fine silk and satin cloth, linen goods, and the finest
cotton. The satin alone was far greater in bulk than the gourd had
been, yet, in addition, the premises were literally strewn with costly
furniture and the finest fabrics. They barely examined the goods now,
their amazement having become so great that they could scarcely wait
until all had been opened, and the whole seemed so unreal, that they
feared delay might be dangerous. Both sawed away on the next gourd,
when out came a body of carpenters, all equipped with tools and lumber,
and, to their utter and complete amazement, began putting up a house
as quickly and quietly as thought, so that before they could arise
from the ground they saw a fine house standing before them, with
courts and servants' quarters, stables, and granaries. Simultaneously
a great train of bulls and ponies appeared, loaded down with rice
and other products as tributes from the district in which the place
was located. Others came bringing money tribute, servants, male and
female, and clothing.

They felt sure they were in dreamland now, and that they might
enjoy the exercise of power while it lasted, they began commanding
the servants to put the goods away, the money in the sahrang,
or reception-room, the clothing in the tarack, or garret over
the fireplace, the rice in the granaries, and animals in their
stables. Others were sent to prepare a bath, that they might don
the fine clothing before it should be too late. The servants obeyed,
increasing the astonishment of the pair, and causing them to literally
forget the fourth gourd in their amazed contemplation of the wondrous
miracles being performed, and the dreamy air of satisfaction and
contentment with which it surrounded them.

Their attention was called to the gourd by the servants, who were then
commanded to carefully saw it open. They did so, and out stepped a
maiden, as beautiful as were the gifts that had preceded her. Never
before had Hyung looked on any one who could at all compare with the
matchless beauty and grace of the lovely creature who now stood so
modestly and confidingly before him. He could find no words to express
his boundless admiration, and could only stand in mute wonder and feast
himself upon her beauty. Not so with his wife, however. She saw only
a rival in the beautiful girl, and straightway demanded who she was,
whence she came, and what she wanted. The maid replied: "I am sent by
the bird king to be this man's concubine." Whereupon the wife grew
dark in the face, and ordered her to go whence she came and not see
her husband again. She upbraided him for not being content with a house
and estate, numbers of retainers and quantities of money, and declared
this last trouble was all due to his greed in opening the fourth gourd.

Her husband had by this time found his speech, however, and severely
reprimanding her for conducting herself in such a manner upon the
receipt of such heavenly gifts, while yesterday she had been little
more than a beggar; he commanded her to go at once to the women's
quarters, where she should reign supreme, and never make such a
display of her ill-temper again, under penalty of being consigned to
a house by herself. The maiden he gladly welcomed, and conducted her
to apartments set aside for her.


When Nahl Bo heard of the wonderful change taking place at his
brother's establishment, he went himself to look into the matter. He
found the report not exaggerated, and began to upbraid his brother
with dishonest methods, which accusation the brother stoutly denied,
and further demanded where, and of whom, he could steal a house,
such rich garments, fine furniture, and have it removed in a day
to the site of his former hovel. Nahl Bo demanded an explanation,
and Hyung Bo frankly told him how he had saved the bird from the
snake and had bound up its broken limbs, so that it recovered; how
the bird in return brought him a seed engraved with gold characters,
instructing him how to plant and rear it; and how, having done so,
the four gourds were born on the stalk, and from them, on ripening,
had appeared these rich gifts. The ill-favored brother even then
persisted in his charges, and in a gruff, ugly manner accused Hyung Bo
of being worse than a thief in keeping all these fine goods, instead
of dutifully sharing them with his elder brother. This insinuation
of undutiful conduct really annoyed Hyung Bo, who, in his kindness
of heart, forgave this unbrotherly senior, his former ill conduct,
and thinking only of his own present good fortune, he kindly bestowed
considerable gifts upon the undeserving brother, and doubtless would
have done more but that the covetous man espyed the fair maiden, and at
once insisted on having her. This was too much even for the patient
Hyung Bo, who refused with a determination remarkable for him. A
quarrel ensued, during which the elder brother took his departure in
a rage, fully determined to use the secret of his brother's success
for all it was worth in securing rich gifts for himself.

Going home he struck at all the birds he could see, and ordered his
servants to do the same. After killing many, he succeeded in catching
one, and, breaking its legs, he took fish-skin and bound them up in
splints, laying the little sufferer in a warm place, till it recovered
and flew away, bandages and all. The result was as expected. The bird
being questioned by the bird king concerning its crooked legs, related
its story, dwelling, however, on the man's cruelty in killing so many
birds and then breaking its own legs. The king understood thoroughly,
and gave the little cripple a seed to present to the wicked man on
its return in the spring.

Springtime came, and one day, as Nahl Bo was sitting cross-legged
in the little room opening on the veranda off his court, he heard a
familiar bird-song. Dropping his long pipe, he threw open the paper
windows, and there, sure enough, sat a crooked-legged bird on the
clothes line, bearing a seed in its mouth. Nahl Bo would let no one
touch it, but as the bird dropped the seed and flew away, he jumped
out so eagerly that he forgot to slip his shoes on, and got his clean
white stockings all befouled. He secured the seed, however, and felt
that his fortune was made. He planted it carefully, as directed,
and gave it his personal attention.

The vines were most luxurious. They grew with great rapidity,
till they had well nigh covered the whole of his large house
and out-buildings. Instead of one gourd, or even four, as in the
brother's case, the new vines bore twelve gourds, which grew and grew
till the great beams of his house fairly groaned under their weight,
and he had to block them in place to keep them from rolling off the
roofs. He had to hire men to guard them carefully, for now that the
source of Hyung Bo's riches was understood, every one was anxious
for a gourd. They did not know the secret, however, which Nahl Bo
concealed through selfishness, and Hyung through fear that every one
would take to killing and maiming birds as his wicked brother had done.

Maintaining a guard was expensive, and the plant so loosened the roof
tiles, by the tendrils searching for earth and moisture in the great
layer of clay under the tiles, that the rainy season made great havoc
with his house. Large portions of plaster from the inside fell upon the
paper ceilings, which in turn gave way, letting the dirty water drip
into the rooms, and making the house almost uninhabitable. At last,
however, the plants could do no more harm; the frost had come, the
vines had shrivelled away, and the enormous ripe gourds were carefully
lowered, amid the yelling of a score of coolies, as each seemed to get
in the others' way trying to manipulate the ropes and poles with which
the gourds were let down to the ground. Once inside the court, and the
great doors locked, Nahl Bo felt relieved, and shutting out every one
but a carpenter and his assistant, he prepared for the great surprise
which he knew must await him, in spite of his most vivid dreams.

The carpenter insisted upon the enormous sum of 1,000 cash for
opening each gourd, and as he was too impatient to await the arrival
of another, and as he expected to be of princely wealth in a few
moments, Nahl Bo agreed to the exorbitant price. Whereupon, carefully
bracing a gourd, the men began sawing it through. It seemed a long
time before the gourd fell in halves. When it did, out came a party
of rope-dancers, such as perform at fairs and public places. Nahl Bo
was unprepared for any such surprise as this, and fancied it must
be some great mistake. They sang and danced about as well as the
crowded condition of the court would allow, and the family looked on
complacently, supposing that the band had been sent to celebrate their
coming good fortune. But Nahl Bo soon had enough of this. He wanted
to get at his riches, and seeing that the actors were about to stretch
their ropes for a more extensive performance, he ordered them to cease
and take their departure. To his amazement, however, they refused to
do this, until he had paid them 5,000 cash for their trouble. "You
sent for us and we came," said the leader. "Now pay us, or we will
live with you till you do." There was no help for it, and with great
reluctance and some foreboding, he gave them the money and dismissed
them. Then Nahl Bo turned to the carpenter, who chanced to be a man
with an ugly visage, made uglier by a great hare-lip. "You," he said,
"are the cause of all this. Before you entered this court these gourds
were filled with gold, and your ugly face has changed it to beggars."

Number two was opened with no better results, for out came a body of
Buddhist priests, begging for their temple, and promising many sons
in return for offerings of suitable merit. Although disgusted beyond
measure, Nahl Bo still had faith in the gourds, and to get rid of the
priests, lest they should see his riches, he gave them also 5,000 cash.

As soon as the priests were gone, gourd number three was opened,
with still poorer results, for out came a procession of paid mourners
followed by a corpse borne by bearers. The mourners wept as loudly
as possible, and all was in a perfect uproar. When ordered to go,
the mourners declared they must have money for mourning, and to pay
for burying the body. Seeing no possible help for it, 5,000 cash was
finally given them, and they went out with the bier. Then Nahl Bo's
wife came into the court, and began to abuse the hare-lipped man for
bringing upon them all this trouble. Whereupon the latter became angry
and demanded his money that he might leave. They had no intention
of giving up the search as yet, however, and, as it was too late to
change carpenters, the ugly fellow was paid for the work already done,
and given an advance on that yet remaining. He therefore set to work
upon the fourth gourd, which Nahl Bo watched with feverish anxiety.

From this one there came a band of gee sang, or dancing girls. There
was one woman from each province, and each had her song and dance. One
sang of the yang wang, or wind god; another of the wang jay, or
pan deity; one sang of the sung jee, or money that is placed as a
christening on the roof tree of every house. There was the cuckoo
song. The song of the ancient tree that has lived so long that its
heart is dead and gone, leaving but a hollow space, yet the leaves
spring forth every spring-tide. The song of laughter and mourning,
with an injunction to see to it that the rice offering be made to the
departed spirits. To the king of the sun and stars a song was sung. And
last of all, one votary sang of the twelve months that make the year,
the twelve hours that make the day, the thirty days that make the
month, and of the new year's birth, as the old year dies, taking with
it their ills to be buried in the past, and reminding all people to
celebrate the New Year holidays by donning clean clothes and feasting
on good food, that the following year may be to them one of plenty and
prosperity. Having finished their songs and their graceful posturing
and waving of their gay silk banners, the gee sang demanded their pay,
which had to be given them, reducing the family wealth 5,000 cash more.

The wife now tried to persuade Nahl Bo to stop and not open more,
but the hare-lip man offered to open the next for 500 cash, as he was
secretly enjoying the sport. So the fifth was opened a little, when a
yellow-looking substance was seen inside, which was taken to be gold,
and they hurriedly opened it completely. But instead of gold, out
came an acrobatic pair,--being a strong man with a youth dressed to
represent a girl. The man danced about, holding his young companion
balanced upon his shoulders, singing meanwhile a song of an ancient
king, whose riotous living was so distasteful to his subjects that
he built him a cavernous palace, the floor of which was covered with
quicksilver, the walls were decorated with jewels, and myriad lamps
turned the darkness into day. Here were to be found the choicest
viands and wines, with bands of music to entertain the feasters:
most beautiful women; and he enjoyed himself most luxuriously until
his enemy, learning the secret, threw open the cavern to the light
of day, when all of the beautiful women immediately disappeared in
the sun's rays.

Before he could get these people to discontinue their performance,
Nahl Bo had to give them also 5,000 cash. Yet in spite of all his
ill luck, he decided to open another. Which being done, a jester
came forth, demanding the expense money for his long journey. This
was finally given him, for Nahl Bo had hit upon what he deemed a
clever expedient. He took the wise fool aside, and asked him to use
his wisdom in pointing out to him which of these gourds contained
gold. Whereupon the jester looked wise, tapped several gourds, and
motioned to each one as being filled with gold.

The seventh was therefore opened, and a lot of yamen runners came
forth, followed by an official. Nahl Bo tried to run from what he
knew must mean an exorbitant "squeeze," but he was caught and beaten
for his indiscretion. The official called for his valise, and took
from it a paper, which his secretary read, announcing that Nahl
Bo was the serf of this lord and must hereafter pay to him a heavy
tribute. At this they groaned in their hearts, and the wife declared
that even now the money was all gone, even to the last cash, while
the rabble which had collected had stolen nearly every thing worth
removing. Yet the officer's servants demanded pay for their services,
and they had to be given a note secured on the property before they
would leave. Matters were now so serious that they could not be made
much worse, and it was decided to open each remaining gourd, that if
there were any gold they might have it.

When the next one was opened a bevy of moo tang women (soothsayers)
came forth, offering to drive away the spirit of disease and restore
the sick to health. They arranged their banners for their usual
dancing ceremony, brought forth their drums, with which to exorcise
the demons, and called for rice to offer to the spirits and clothes
to burn for the spirits' apparel.

"Get out!" roared Nahl Bo. "I am not sick except for the visitation of
such as yourselves, who are forever burdening the poor, and demanding
pay for your supposed services. Away with you, and befool some other
pah sak ye (eight month's man--fool) if you can. I want none of
your services."

They were no easier to drive away, however, than were the other
annoying visitors that had come with his supposed good fortune. He
had finally to pay them as he had the others; and dejectedly he sat,
scarcely noticing the opening of the ninth gourd.

The latter proved to contain a juggler, and the exasperated Nahl Bo,
seeing but one small man, determined to make short work of him. Seizing
him by his topknot of hair, he was about to drag him to the door, when
the dexterous fellow, catching his tormentor by the thighs, threw him
headlong over his own back, nearly breaking his neck, and causing him
to lie stunned for a time, while the expert bound him hand and foot,
and stood him on his head, so that the wife was glad to pay the fellow
and dismiss him ere the life should be departed from her lord.

On opening the tenth a party of blind men came out, picking their
way with their long sticks, while their sightless orbs were raised
towards the unseen heavens. They offered to tell the fortunes of the
family. But, while their services might have been demanded earlier,
the case was now too desperate for any such help. The old men tinkled
their little bells, and chanted some poetry addressed to the four
good spirits stationed at the four corners of the earth, where they
patiently stand bearing the world upon their shoulders; and to the
distant heavens that arch over and fold the earth in their embrace,
where the two meet at the far horizon (as pictured in the Korean
flag). The blind men threw their dice, and, fearing lest they should
prophesy death, Nahl Bo quickly paid and dismissed them.

The next gourd was opened but a trifle, that they might first determine
as to the wisdom of letting out its contents. Before they could
determine, however, a voice like thunder was heard from within, and
the huge form of a giant arose, splitting open the gourd as he came
forth. In his anger he seized poor Nahl Bo and tossed him upon his
shoulders as though he would carry him away. Whereupon the wife plead
with tears for his release, and gladly gave an order for the amount
of the ransom. After which the monster allowed the frightened man to
fall to the ground, nearly breaking his aching bones in the fall.

The carpenter did not relish the sport any longer; it seemed to be
getting entirely too dangerous. He thereupon demanded the balance of
his pay, which they finally agreed to give him, providing he would
open the last remaining gourd. For the desperate people hoped to
find this at least in sufficient condition that they might cook or
make soup of it, since they had no food left at all and no money,
while the other gourds were so spoiled by the tramping of the feet
of their unbidden guests, as to be totally unfit for food.

The man did as requested, but had only sawed a very little when the
gourd split open as though it were rotten, while a most awful stench
arose, driving every one from the premises. This was followed by a gale
of wind, so severe as to destroy the buildings, which, in falling,
took fire from the kang, and while the once prosperous man looked
on in helpless misery, the last of his remaining property was swept
forever from him.

The seed that had brought prosperity to his honest, deserving brother
had turned prosperity into ruin to the cruel, covetous Nahl Bo, who
now had to subsist upon the charity of his kind brother, whom he had
formerly treated so cruelly.



In the city of Nam Won, in Chull Lah Do (the southern province of
Korea), lived the Prefect Ye Tung Uhi. He was the happy father of a son
of some sixteen years of age. Being an only child the boy was naturally
much petted. He was not an ordinary young man, however, for in addition
to a handsome, manly face and stalwart figure, he possessed a bright,
quick mind, and was naturally clever. A more dutiful son could not be
found. He occupied a house in the rear of his father's quarters, and
devoted himself to his books, going regularly each evening to make his
obeisance to his father, and express his wish that pleasant, refreshing
sleep might come to him; then, in the morning, before breakfasting,
he was wont to go and enquire how the new day had found his father.

The Prefect was but recently appointed to rule over the Nam Won
district when the events about to be recorded occurred. The winter
months had been spent mostly indoors, but as the mild spring weather
approached and the buds began to open to the singing of the joyful
birds, Ye Toh Ryung, or Toh Ryung, the son, felt that he must get out
and enjoy nature. Like an animal that has buried itself in a hole in
the earth, he came forth rejoicing; the bright yellow birds welcomed
him from the willow trees, the soft breezes fanned his cheeks, and the
freshness of the air exhilarated him. He called his pang san (valet)
and asked him concerning the neighboring views. The servant was a
native of the district, and knew the place well; he enumerated the
various places especially prized for their scenery, but concluded with:
"But of all rare views, 'Kang Hal Loo' is the rarest. Officers from the
eight provinces come to enjoy the scenery, and the temple is covered
with verses they have left in praise of the place." "Very well, then,
we will go there," said Toh Ryung "Go you and clean up the place for
my reception."

The servant hurried off to order the temple swept and spread with clean
mats, while his young master sauntered along almost intoxicated by the
freshness and new life of every thing around him. Arrived at the place,
after a long, tedious ascent of the mountain side, he flung himself
upon a huge bolster-like cushion, and with half-closed eyes, drank
in the beauty of the scene along with the balmy, perfume-laden spring
zephyrs. He called his servant, and congratulated him upon his taste,
declaring that were the gods in search of a fine view, they could
not find a place that would surpass this; to which the man answered:

"That is true; so true, in fact, that it is well known that the
spirits do frequent this place for its beauty."

As he said this, Toh Ryung had raised himself, and was leaning on one
arm, gazing out toward one side, when, as though it were one of the
spirits just mentioned, the vision of a beautiful girl shot up into the
air and soon fell back out of sight in the shrubbery of an adjoining
court-yard. He could just get a confused picture of an angelic face,
surrounded by hair like the black thunder-cloud, a neck of ravishing
beauty, and a dazzle of bright silks,--when the whole had vanished. He
was dumb with amazement, for he felt sure he must have seen one of
the spirits said to frequent the place; but before he could speak,
the vision arose again, and he then had time to see that it was but a
beautiful girl swinging in her dooryard. He did not move, he scarcely
breathed, but sat with bulging eyes absorbing the prettiest view he had
ever seen. He noted the handsome, laughing face, the silken black hair,
held back in a coil by a huge coral pin; he saw the jewels sparkling on
the gay robes, the dainty white hands and full round arms, from which
the breezes blew back the sleeves; and as she flew higher in her wild
sport, oh, joy! two little shoeless feet encased in white stockings,
shot up among the peach blossoms, causing them to fall in showers all
about her. In the midst of the sport her hairpin loosened and fell,
allowing her raven locks to float about her shoulders; but, alas! the
costly ornament fell on a rock and broke, for Toh Ryung could hear
the sharp click where he sat. This ended the sport, and the little
maid disappeared, all unconscious of the agitation she had caused in
a young man's breast by her harmless spring exercise.

After some silence, the young man asked his servant if he had seen
any thing, for even yet he feared his mind had been wandering close
to the dreamland. After some joking, the servant confessed to having
seen the girl swinging, whereupon his master demanded her name. "She
is Uhl Mahs' daughter, a gee sang (public dancing girl) of this
city; her name is Chun Yang Ye"--fragrant spring. "I yah! superb;
I can see her then, and have her sing and dance for me," exclaimed
Toh Ryung. "Go and call her at once, you slave."

The man ran, over good road and bad alike, up hill and down, panting as
he went; for while the back of the women's quarters of the adjoining
compound was near at hand, the entrance had to be reached by a long
circuit. Arriving out of breath, he pounded at the gate, calling the
girl by name.

"Who is that calls me?" she enquired when the noise had attracted
her attention.

"Oh, never mind who," answered the exhausted man, "it is great
business; open the door."

"Who are you, and what do you want?"

"I am nobody, and I want nothing; but Ye Toh Ryung is the Governor's
son, and he wants to see the Fragrant Spring."

"Who told Ye Toh Ryung my name?"

"Never mind who told him; if you did not want him to know you, then
why did you swing so publicly? The great man's son came here to rest
and see the beautiful views; he saw you swinging, and can see nothing
since. You must go, but you need not fear. He is a gentleman, and will
treat you nicely; if your dancing pleases him as did your swinging,
he may present you with rich gifts, for he is his father's only son."

Regretting in her proud spirit that fates had placed her in a
profession where she was expected to entertain the nobility whether it
suited her or not, the girl combed and arranged her hair, tightened her
sash, smoothed her disordered clothes, and prepared to look as any vain
woman would wish who was about to be presented to the handsomest and
most gifted young nobleman of the province. She followed the servant
slowly till they reached Toh Ryung's stopping place. She waited while
the servant announced her arrival, for a gee sang must not enter a
nobleman's presence unbidden. Toh Ryung was too excited to invite
her in, however, and his servant had to prompt him, when, laughing
at his own agitation, he pleasantly bade her enter and sit down.

"What is your name?" asked he.

"My name is Chun Yang Ye," she said, with a voice that resembled
silver jingling in a pouch.

"How old are you?"

"My age is just twice eight years."

"Ah ha!" laughed the now composed boy, "how fortunate; you are twice
eight, and I am four fours. We are of the same age. Your name, Fragrant
Spring, is the same as your face--very beautiful. Your cheeks are like
the petals of the mah hah that ushers in the soft spring. Your eyes
are like those of the eagle sitting on the ancient tree, but soft
and gentle as the moonlight," ran on the enraptured youth. "When is
your birthday?"

"My birthday occurs at midnight on the eighth day of the fourth moon,"
modestly replied the flattered girl, who was quickly succumbing to
the charms of the ardent and handsome young fellow, whose heart she
could see was already her own.

"Is it possible?" exclaimed he; "that is the date of the lantern
festival, and it is also my own birthday, only I was born at eleven
instead of twelve. I am sorry I was not born at twelve now. But it
doesn't matter. Surely the gods had some motive in sending us into
the world at the same time, and thus bringing us together at our
sixteenth spring-tide. Heaven must have intended us to be man and
wife"; and he bade her sit still as she started as though to take
her departure. Then he began to plead with her, pacing the room in
his excitement, till his attendant likened the sound to the combat
of ancient warriors. "This chance meeting of ours has a meaning," he
argued. "Often when the buds were bursting, or when the forest trees
were turning to fire and blood, have I played and supped with pretty
gee sang, watched them dance, and wrote them verses, but never before
have I lost my heart; never before have I seen any one so incomparably
beautiful. You are no common mortal. You were destined to be my wife;
you must be mine, you must marry me."

She wrinkled her fair brow and thought, for she was no silly,
foolish thing, and while her heart was almost, if not quite won by
this tempestuous lover, yet she saw where his blind love would not
let him see. "You know," she said, "the son of a nobleman may not
marry a gee sang without the consent of his parents. I know I am
a gee sang by name, the fates have so ordained, but, nevertheless,
I am an honorable woman, always have been, and expect to remain so."

"Certainly," he answered, "we cannot celebrate the 'six customs
ceremony' (parental arrangements, exchange of letters, contracts,
exchange of presents, preliminary visits, ceremony proper), but we
can be privately married just the same."

"No, it cannot be. Your father would not consent, and should we be
privately married, and your father be ordered to duty at some other
place, you would not dare take me with you. Then you would marry the
daughter of some nobleman, and I would be forgotten. It must not,
cannot be," and she arose to depart. "Stay, stay," he begged. "You
do me an injustice. I will never forsake you, or marry another. I
swear it. And a yang ban (noble) has but one mouth, he cannot speak
two ways. Even should we leave this place I will take you with me,
or return soon to you. You must not refuse me."

"But suppose you change your mind or forget your promises; words fly
out of the mouth and are soon lost, ink and paper are more lasting;
give me your promises in writing," she says.

Instantly the young man took up paper and brush; having rubbed the ink
well, he wrote: "A memorandum. Desiring to enjoy the spring scenery,
I came to Kang Hal Loo. There I saw for the first time my heaven-sent
bride. Meeting for the first time, I pledge myself for one hundred
years; to be her faithful husband. Should I change, show this paper to
the magistrate." Folding up the manuscript with care he handed it to
her. While putting it into her pocket she said: "Speech has no legs,
yet it can travel many thousands of miles. Suppose this matter should
reach your father's ears, what would you do?"

"Never fear; my father was once young, who knows but I may be following
the example of his early days. I have contracted with you, and we now
are married, even my father cannot change it. Should he discover our
alliance and disown me, I will still be yours, and together we shall
live and die."

She arose to go, and pointing with her jade-like hand to a clump of
bamboos, said: "There is my house; as I cannot come to you, you must
come to me and make my mother's house your home, as much as your duty
to your parents will allow."

As the sun began to burn red above the mountains' peaks, they bade
each other a fond adieu, and each departed for home accompanied by
their respective attendants.

Ye Toh Ryung went to his room, which now seemed a prison-like place
instead of the pleasant study he had found it. He took up a book,
but reading was no satisfaction, every word seemed to transform itself
into Chun or Yang. Every thought was of the little maid of the spring
fragrance. He changed his books, but it was no use, he could not even
keep them right side up, not to mention using them properly. Instead
of singing off his lessons as usual, he kept singing, Chun Yang Ye
poh go sip so (I want to see the spring fragrance), till his father,
hearing the confused sounds, sent to ascertain what was the matter
with his son. The boy was singing, "As the parched earth cries for
rain after the seven years' drought, so my heart pants for my Chun
Yang Ye, whose face to me is like the rays of the sun upon the earth
after a nine years' rain." He paid no heed to the servants, and soon
his father sent his private secretary, demanding what it was the boy
desired so much that he should keep singing. "I want to see, I want to
see." Toh Ryung answered that he was reading an uninteresting book,
and looking for another. Though he remained more quiet after this,
he still was all impatience to be off to his sweetheart-wife, and
calling his attendant, he sent him out to see how near the sun was
to setting. Enjoying the sport, the man returned, saying the sun was
now high over head.

"Begone," said he, "can any one hold back the sun; it had reached
the mountain tops before I came home."

At last the servant brought his dinner, for which he had no
appetite. He could ill abide the long delay between the dinner hour
and the regular time for his father's retiring. The time did come,
however, and when the lights were extinguished and his father had
gone to sleep, he took his trusty servant, and, scaling the back wall,
they hurried to the house of Chun Yang Ye.

As they approached they heard someone playing the harp, and singing of
the "dull pace of the hours when one's lover is away." Being admitted,
they met the mother, who, with some distrust, received Toh Ryung's
assurances and sent him to her daughter's apartments.

The house pleased him; it was neat and well-appointed. The public room,
facing the court, was lighted by a blue lantern, which in the mellow
light resembled a pleasure barge drifting on the spring flood. Banners
of poetry hung upon the walls. Upon the door leading to Chun Yang's
little parlor hung a banner inscribed with verses to her ancestors
and descendants, praying that "a century be short to span her life
and happiness, and that her children's children be blessed with
prosperity for a thousand years." Through the open windows could
be seen moonlight glimpses of the little garden of the swinging
girl. There was a miniature lake almost filled with lotus plants,
where two sleepy swans floated with heads beneath their wings, while
the occasional gleam of a gold or silver scale showed that the water
was inhabited. A summer-house on the water's edge was almost covered
with fragrant spring blossoms, the whole being enclosed in a little
grove of bamboo and willows, that shut out the view of outsiders.

While gazing at this restful sight, Chun Yang Ye herself came out,
and all was lost in the lustre of her greater beauty. She asked
him into her little parlor, where was a profusion of choice carved
cabinets and ornaments of jade and metal, while richly embroidered
mats covered the highly-polished floor. She was so delighted that
she took both his hands in her pretty, white, soft ones, and gazing
longingly into each other's eyes, she led him into another room,
where, on a low table, a most elegant lunch was spread. They sat
down on the floor and surveyed the loaded table. There were fruits
preserved in sugar, candied nuts arranged in many dainty, nested boxes;
sweet pickles and confections, pears that had grown in the warmth of
a summer now dead, and grapes that had been saved from decay by the
same sun that had called them forth. Quaint old bottles with long,
twisted necks, contained choice medicated wines, to be drunk from
the little crackled cups, such as the ancients used.

Pouring out a cup, she sang to him: "This is the elixir of youth;
drinking this, may you never grow old; though ten thousand years pass
over your head, may you stand like the mountain that never changes." He
drank half of the cup's contents, and praised her sweet voice, asking
for another song. She sang: "Let us drain the cup while we may. In the
grave who will be our cup-bearer. While we are young let us play. When
old, mirth gives place to care. The flowers can bloom but a few days
at best, and must then die, that the seed may be born. The moon is
no sooner full than it begins to wane, that the young moon may rise."

The sentiments suited him, the wine exhilarated him, and his spirits
rose. He drained his cup, and called for more wine and song; but
she restrained him. They ate the dainty food, and more wine and song
followed. She talked of the sweet contract they had made, and anon they
pledged themselves anew. Not content with promises for this short life,
they went into the future, and he yielded readily to her request, that
when death should at last o'ertake them, she would enter a flower,
while he would become a butterfly, coming and resting on her bosom,
and feasting off her fragrant sweetness.

The father did not know of his son's recent alliance, though the
young man honestly went and removed Chun Yang's name from the list
of the district gee sang, kept in his father's office; for, now
that she was a married woman, she need no longer go out with the
dancing-girls. Every morning, as before, the dutiful son presented
himself before his father, with respectful inquiries after his health,
and his rest the preceding night. But, nevertheless, each night the
young man's apartments were deserted, while he spent the time in the
house of his wife.

Thus the months rolled on with amazing speed. The lovers were in
paradise. The father enjoyed his work, and labored hard for the
betterment of the condition of his subjects. Never before had so
large a tribute been sent by this district. Yet the people were
not burdened as much as when far less of their products reached the
government granaries. The honest integrity of the officer reached
the King in many reports, and when a vacancy occurred at the head of
the Treasury Department, he was raised to be Ho Joh Pansa (Secretary
of Finance). Delighted, the father sent for his son and told him the
news, but, to his amazement, the young man had naught to say, in fact
he seemed as one struck dumb, as well he might. Within himself there
was a great tumult; his heart beat so violently as to seem perceptible,
and at times it arose and filled his throat, cutting off any speech he
might wish to utter. Surprised at the conduct of his son, the father
bade him go and inform his mother, that she might order the packing
to commence.

He went; but soon found a chance to fly to Chun Yang, who, at first,
was much concerned for his health, as his looks denoted a serious
illness. When he had made her understand, however, despair seized her,
and they gazed at each other in mute dismay and utter helplessness. At
last she seemed to awaken from her stupor, and, in an agony of despair,
she beat her breast, and moaned: "Oh, how can we separate. We must
die, we cannot live apart"; and tears coming to her relief, she cried:
"If we say good-by, it will be forever; we can never meet again. Oh,
I feared it; we have been too happy--too happy. The one who made
this order is a murderer; it must be my death. If you go to Seoul
and leave me, I must die. I am but a poor weak woman, and I cannot
live without you."

He took her, and laying her head on his breast, tried to soothe
her. "Don't cry so bitterly," he begged; "my heart is almost broken
now. I cannot bear it. I wish it could always be spring-time; but
this is only like the cruel winter that, lingering in the mountain,
sometimes sweeps down the valley, drives out the spring, and kills
the blossoms. We will not give up and die, though. We have contracted
for one hundred years, and this will be but a bitter separation that
will make our speedy reunion more blissful."

"Oh," she says, "but how can I live here alone, with you in Seoul? Just
think of the long, tedious summer days, the long and lonely winter
nights. I must see no one. I cannot know of you, for who will tell me,
and how am I to endure it?"

"Had not my father been given this great honor, we would perhaps
not have been parted; as it is I must go, there is no help for it,
but you must believe me when I promise I will come again. Here,
take this crystal mirror as a pledge that I will keep my word";
and he gave her his pocket-mirror of rock crystal.

"Promise me when you will return," said she; and then, without awaiting
an answer, she sang: "When the sear and withered trunk begins to bloom,
and the dead bird sings in the branches, then my lover will come to
me. When the river flows over the eastern mountains, then may I see him
glide along in his ship to me." He chided her for her lack of faith,
and assured her again it was as hard for one as the other. After
a time she became more reconciled, and taking off her jade ring,
gave it to him for a keepsake, saying: "My love, like this ring,
knows no end. You must go, alas! but my love will go with you, and
may it protect you when crossing wild mountains and distant rivers,
and bring you again safely to me. If you go to Seoul, you must not
trifle, but take your books, study hard, and enter the examinations,
then, perhaps, you may obtain rank and come to me. I will stand with
my hand shading my eyes, ever watching for your return."

Promising to cherish her speech, with her image in his breast, they
made their final adieu, and tore apart.

The long journey seemed like a funeral to the lover. Everywhere her
image rose before him. He could think of nothing else; but by the time
he arrived at the capital he had made up his mind as to his future
course, and from that day forth his parents wondered at his stern,
determined manner. He shut himself up in his room with his books. He
would neither go out, or form acquaintances among the young noblemen
of the gay city. Thus he spent months in hard study, taking no note
of passing events.

In the meantime a new magistrate came to Nam Won. He was a hard-faced,
hard-hearted politician. He associated with the dissolute, and devoted
himself to riotous living, instead of caring for the welfare of the
people. He had not been long in the place till he had heard so much
of the matchless beauty of Chun Yang Ye that he determined to see,
and if, as reported, marry her. Accordingly he called the clerk
of the yamen, and asked concerning "the beautiful gee sang Chun
Yang Ye." The clerk answered that such a name had appeared on the
records of the dancing girls, but that it had been removed, as she
had contracted a marriage with the son of the previous magistrate,
and was now a lady of position and respectability.

"You lying rascal!" yelled the enraged officer, who could ill brook
any interference with plans he had formed. "A nobleman's son cannot
really marry a dancing girl; leave my presence at once, and summon
this remarkable 'lady' to appear before me." The clerk could only do
as he was bidden, and, summoning the yamen runners, he sent to the
house of Chun Yang Ye to acquaint her with the official order.

The runners, being natives of the locality, were loath to do as
commanded, and when the fair young woman gave them "wine money" they
willingly agreed to report her "too sick to attend the court." Upon
doing so, however, the wrath of their master came down upon them. They
were well beaten, and then commanded to go with a chair and bring
the woman, sick or well, while if they disobeyed him a second time
they would be put to death.

Of course they went, but after they had explained to Chun Yang Ye their
treatment, her beauty and concern for their safety so affected them,
that they offered to go back without her, and face their doom. She
would not hear to their being sacrificed for her sake, and prepared
to accompany them. She disordered her hair, soiled her fair face, and
clad herself in dingy, ill-fitting gowns, which, however, seemed only
to cause her natural beauty the more to shine forth. She wept bitterly
on entering the yamen, which fired the anger of the official. He
ordered her to stop her crying or be beaten, and then as he looked
at her disordered and tear-stained face, that resembled choice jade
spattered with mud, he found that her beauty was not overstated.

"What does your conduct mean?" said he. "Why have you not presented
yourself at this office with the other gee sang?"

"Because, though born a gee sang, I am by marriage a lady, and not
subject to the rules of my former profession," she answered.

"Hush!" roared the Prefect. "No more of this nonsense. Present yourself
here with the other gee sang, or pay the penalty."

"Never" she bravely cried. "A thousand deaths first. You have no
right to exact such a thing of me. You are the King's servant, and
should see that the laws are executed, rather than violated."

The man was fairly beside himself with wrath at this, and ordered her
chained and thrown into prison at once. The people all wept with her,
which but increased her oppressor's anger, and calling the jailer he
ordered him to treat her with especial rigor, and be extra vigilant
lest some sympathizers should assist her to escape. The jailer
promised, but nevertheless he made things as easy for her as was
possible under the circumstances. Her mother came and moaned over
her daughter's condition, declaring that she was foolish in clinging
to her faithless husband, who had brought all this trouble upon
them. The neighbors, however, upbraided the old woman for her words,
and assured the daughter that she had done just right, and would yet
be rewarded. They brought presents of food, and endeavored to make
her condition slightly less miserable by their attentions.

She passed the night in bowing before Heaven and calling on the gods
and her husband to release her, and in the morning when her mother
came, she answered the latter's inquiries as to whether she was alive
or not, in a feeble voice which alarmed her parent.

"I am still alive, but surely dying. I can never see my Toh Ryung
again; but when I am dead you must take my body to Seoul and bury it
near the road over which he travels the most, that even in death I may
be near him, though separated in life." Again the mother scolded her
for her devotion and for making the contract that binds her strongly
to such a man. She could stand it no longer, and begged her mother that
she would go away and come to see her no more if she had no pleasanter
speech than such to make. "I followed the dictates of my heart and my
mind. I did what was right. Can I foretell the future? Because the
sun shines to-day are we assured that to-morrow it will shine? The
deed is done. I do not regret it; leave me to my grief, but do not
add to it by your unkindness."

Thus the days lengthened into months, but she seemed like one dead,
and took no thought of time or its flight. She was really ill,
and would have died but for the kindness of the jailer. At last
one night she dreamed that she was in her own room, dressing,
and using the little mirror Toh Ryung had given her, when, without
apparent cause, it suddenly broke in halves. She awoke, startled,
and felt sure that death was now to liberate her from her sorrows,
for what other meaning could the strange occurrence have than that
her body was thus to be broken. Although anxious to die and be free,
she could not bear the thought of leaving this world without a last
look at her loved husband whose hands alone could close her eyes when
her spirit had departed. Pondering much upon the dream, she called
the jailer and asked him to summon a blind man, as she wished her
fortune told. The jailer did so. It was no trouble, for almost as
she spoke they heard one picking his way along the street with his
long stick, and uttering his peculiar call. He came in and sat down,
when they soon discovered that they were friends, for before the
man became blind he had been in comfortable circumstances, and had
known her father intimately. She therefore asked him to be to her as
a kind father, and faithfully tell her when and how death would come
to her. He said: "When the blossoms fade and fall they do not die,
their life simply enters the seed to bloom again. Death to you would
but liberate your spirit to shine again in a fairer body."

She thanked him for his kind generalities, but was impatient, and
telling her dream, she begged a careful interpretation of it. He
promptly answered, that to be an ill omen a mirror in breaking must
make a noise. And on further questioning, he found that in her dream
a bird had flown into the room just as the mirror was breaking.

"I see," said he. "The bird was bearer of good news, and the breaking
of the mirror, which Toh Ryung gave you, indicates that the news
concerned him; let us see." Thereupon he arranged a bunch of sticks,
shook them well, while uttering his chant, and threw them upon the
floor. Then he soon answered that the news was good. "Your husband
has done well. He has passed his examinations, been promoted, and
will soon come to you."

She was too happy to believe it, thinking the old man had made it up
to please his old friend's distressed child. Yet she cherished the
dream and the interpretation in her breast, finding in it solace to
her weary, troubled heart.

In the meantime Ye Toh Ryung had continued his studious work day and
night, to the anxiety of his parents. Just as he began to feel well
prepared for the contest he awaited, a royal proclamation announced,
that owing to the fact that peace reigned throughout the whole country,
that the closing year had been one of prosperity, and no national
calamity had befallen the country, His Gracious Majesty had ordered
a grand guaga, or competitive examination, to be held. As soon as it
became known, literary pilgrims began to pour in from all parts of
the country, bent on improving their condition.

The day of the examination found a vast host seated on the grass in
front of the pavilion where His Majesty and his officers were. Ye Toh
Ryung was given as a subject for his composition, "A lad playing in
the shade of a pine tree is questioned by an aged wayfarer."

The young man long rubbed his ink-stick on the stone, thinking very
intently meanwhile, but when he began to write in the beautiful
characters for which he was noted he seemed inspired, and the
composition rolled forth as though he had committed it from the ancient
classics. He made the boy express such sentiments of reverence to age
as would have charmed the ancients, and the wisdom he put into the
conversation was worthy of a king. The matter came so freely that his
task was soon finished; in fact many were still wrinkling their brows
in preliminary thought, while he was carefully folding up his paper,
concealing his name so that the author should not be recognized till
the paper had been judged on its merits. He tossed his composition
into the pen, and it was at once inspected, being the first one, and
remarkably quickly done. When His Majesty heard it read, and saw the
perfect characters, he was astonished. Such excellence in writing,
composition, and sentiment was unparalleled, and before any other
papers were received it was known that none could excel this one. The
writer's name was ascertained, and the King was delighted to learn
that 'twas the son of his favorite officer. The young man was sent
for, and received the congratulations of his King. The latter gave
him the usual three glasses of wine, which he drank with modesty. He
was then given a wreath of flowers from the King's own hands; the
court hat was presented to him, with lateral wings, denoting the
rapidity--as the flight of a bird--with which he must execute his
Sovereign's commands. Richly embroidered breast-plates were given him,
to be worn over the front and back of his court robes. He then went
forth, riding on a gayly caparisoned horse, preceded by a band of
palace musicians and attendants. Everywhere he was greeted with the
cheers of the populace, as for three days he devoted his time to this
public display. This duty having been fulfilled, he devotedly went to
the graves of his ancestors, and prostrated himself with offerings
before them, bemoaning the fact that they could not be present to
rejoice in his success. He then presented himself before his King,
humbly thanking him for his gracious condescension in bestowing such
great honors upon one so utterly unworthy.

His Sovereign was pleased, and told the young man to strive to imitate
the example of his honest father. He then asked him what position he
wished. Ye Toh Ryung answered that he wished no other position than
one that would enable him to be of service to his King. "The year has
been one of great prosperity," said he. "The plentiful harvest will
tempt corrupt men to oppress the people to their own advantage. I
would like, therefore, should it meet with Your Majesty's approval,
to undertake the arduous duties of Ussa"--government inspector.

He said this as he knew he would then be free to go in search of his
wife, while he could also do much good at the same time. The King was
delighted, and had his appointment--a private one naturally--made at
once, giving him the peculiar seal of the office.

The new Ussa disguised himself as a beggar, putting on straw sandals,
a broken hat, underneath which his hair, uncombed and without the
encircling band to hold it in place, streamed out in all directions. He
wore no white strip in the neck of his shabby gown, and with dirty
face he certainly presented a beggarly appearance. Presenting himself
at the stables outside of the city, where horses and attendants are
provided for the ussas, he soon arranged matters by showing his seal,
and with proper attendants started on his journey towards his former
home in the southern province.

Arriving at his destination, he remained outside in a miserable hamlet
while his servants went into the city to investigate the people and
learn the news.

It was spring-time again. The buds were bursting, the birds were
singing, and in the warm valley a band of farmers were plowing with
lazy bulls, and singing, meanwhile, a grateful song in praise of
their just King, their peaceful, prosperous country, and their full
stomachs. As the Ussa came along in his disguise he began to jest with
them, but they did not like him, and were rude in their jokes at his
expense; when an old man, evidently the father, cautioned them to be
careful. "Don't you see," said he, "this man's speech is only half
made up of our common talk; he is playing a part. I think he must be a
gentleman in disguise." The Ussa drew the old man into conversation,
asking about various local events, and finally questioning him
concerning the character of the Prefect. "Is he just or oppressive,
drunken or sober? Does he devote himself to his duties, or give himself
up to riotous living?" "Our Magistrate we know little of. His heart
is as hard and unbending as the dead heart of the ancient oak. He
cares not for the people; the people care not for him but to avoid
him. He extorts rice and money unjustly, and spends his ill-gotten
gains in riotous living. He has imprisoned and beaten the fair Chun
Yang Ye because she repulsed him, and she now lies near to death in
the prison, because she married and is true to the poor dog of a son
of our former just magistrate."

Ye Toh Ryung was stung by these unjust remarks, filled with the deepest
anxiety for his wife, and the bitterest resentment toward the brute of
an official, whom, he promised himself, soon to bring to justice. As he
moved away, too full of emotion for further conversation, he heard the
farmers singing, "Why are some men born to riches, others born to toil,
some to marry and live in peace, others too poor to possess a hut."

He walked away meditating. He had placed himself down on the
people's level, and began to feel with them. Thus meditating he
crossed a valley, through which a cheery mountain brook rushed merrily
along. Near its banks, in front of a poor hut, sat an aged man twisting
twine. Accosting him, the old man paid no attention; he repeated his
salutation, when the old man, surveying him from head to foot, said:
"In the government service age does not count for much, there rank
is every thing; an aged man may have to bow to a younger, who is
his superior officer. 'Tis not so in the country, however; here age
alone is respected. Then why am I addressed thus by such a miserable
looking stripling?" The young man asked his elder's pardon, and then
requested him to answer a question. "I hear," says he, "that the new
Magistrate is about to marry the gee sang, Chun Yang Ye; is it true?"

"Don't mention her name," said the old man, angrily. "You are not
worthy to speak of her. She is dying in prison, because of her loyal
devotion to the brute beast who married and deserted her."

Ye Toh Ryung could hear no more. He hurried from the place, and
finding his attendants, announced his intention of going at once
into the city, lest the officials should hear of his presence and
prepare for him. Entering the city, he went direct to Chun Yang Ye's
house. It presented little of the former pleasant appearance. Most of
the rich furniture had been sold to buy comforts for the imprisoned
girl. The mother, seeing him come, and supposing him to be a beggar,
almost shrieked at him to get away. "Are you such a stranger, that you
don't know the news? My only child is imprisoned, my husband long since
dead, my property almost gone, and you come to me for alms. Begone,
and learn the news of the town."

"Look! Don't you know me? I am Ye Toh Ryung, your son-in-law," he said.

"Ye Toh Ryung, and a beggar! Oh, it cannot be. Our only hope is in you,
and now you are worse than helpless. My poor girl will die."

"What is the matter with her?" said he, pretending.

The woman related the history of the past months in full, not sparing
the man in the least, giving him such a rating as only a woman can. He
then asked to be taken to the prison, and she accompanied him with a
strange feeling of gratification in her heart that after all she was
right, and her daughter's confidence was ill-placed. Arriving at the
prison, the mother expressed her feelings by calling to her daughter:
"Here is your wonderful husband. You have been so anxious to simply
see Ye Toh Ryung before you die; here he is; look at the beggar,
and see what your devotion amounts to! Curse him and send him away."

The Ussa called to her, and she recognized the voice. "I surely must
be dreaming again," she said, as she tried to arise; but she had the
huge neck-encircling board upon her shoulders that marked the latest
of her tormentor's acts of oppression, and could not get up. Stung
by the pain and the calmness of her lover's voice, she sarcastically
asked: "Why have you not come to me? Have you been so busy in official
life? Have the rivers been so deep and rapid that you dared not cross
them? Did you go so far away that it has required all this time to
retrace your steps?" And then, regretting her harsh words, she said:
"I cannot tell my rapture. I had expected to have to go to Heaven
to meet you, and now you are here. Get them to unbind my feet, and
remove this yoke from my neck, that I may come to you."

He came to the little window through which food is passed, and looked
upon her. As she saw his face and garb, she moaned: "Oh, what have we
done to be so afflicted? You cannot help me now; we must die. Heaven
has deserted us."

"Yes," he answered; "granting I am poor, yet should we not be happy in
our reunion. I have come as I promised, and we will yet be happy. Do
yourself no injury, but trust to me."

She called her mother, who sneeringly inquired of what service she
could be, now that the longed-for husband had returned in answer to
her prayers. She paid no attention to these cruel words, but told
her mother of certain jewels she had concealed in a case in her
room. "Sell these," she said, "and buy some food and raiment for my
husband; take him home and care for him well. Have him sleep on my
couch, and do not reproach him for what he cannot help."

He went with the old woman, but soon left to confer with his
attendants, who informed him that the next day was the birthday of
the Magistrate, and that great preparations were being made for the
celebration that would commence early. A great feast, when wine would
flow like water, was to take place in the morning. The gee sang from
the whole district were to perform for the assembled guests; bands
of music were practising for the occasion, and the whole bade fair
to be a great, riotous debauch, which would afford the Ussa just the
opportunity the consummation of his plans awaited.

Early the next morning the disguised Ussa presented himself at the
yamen gate, where the servants jeered at him, telling him: "This is
no beggars' feast," and driving him away. He hung around the street,
however, listening to the music inside, and finally he made another
attempt, which was more successful than the first, for the servants,
thinking him crazy, tried to restrain him, when, in the melée, he
made a passage and rushed through the inner gate into the court off
the reception hall. The annoyed host, red with wine, ordered him at
once ejected and the gate men whipped. His order was promptly obeyed,
but Ye did not leave the place. He found a break in the outside wall,
through which he climbed, and again presented himself before the
feasters. While the Prefect was too blind with rage to be able to
speak, the stranger said: "I am a beggar, give me food and drink that
I, too, may enjoy myself." The guests laughed at the man's presumption,
and thinking him crazy, they urged their host to humor him for their
entertainment. To which he finally consented, and, sending him some
food and wine, bade him stay in a corner and eat.

To the surprise of all, the fellow seemed still discontented, for he
claimed that, as the other guests each had a fair gee sang to sing a
wine song while they drank, he should be treated likewise. This amused
the guests immensely, and they got the master to send one. The girl
went with a poor grace, however, saying: "One would think from the
looks of you that your poor throat would open to the wine without
a song to oil it," and sang him a song that wished him speedy death
instead of long life.

After submitting to their taunts for some time, he said, "I thank
you for your food and wine and the graciousness of my reception, in
return for which I will amuse you by writing you some verses"; and,
taking pencil and paper, he wrote: "The oil that enriches the food
of the official is but the life blood of the down-trodden people,
whose tears are of no more merit in the eyes of the oppressor than
the drippings of a burning candle."

When this was read, a troubled look passed over all; the guests shook
their heads and assured their host that it meant ill to him. And
each began to make excuses, saying that one and another engagement of
importance called them hence. The host laughed and bade them be seated,
while he ordered attendants to take the intruder and cast him into
prison for his impudence. They came to do so, but the Ussa took out his
official seal, giving the preconcerted signal meanwhile, which summoned
his ready followers. At sight of the King's seal terror blanched the
faces of each of the half-drunken men. The wicked host tried to crawl
under the house and escape, but he was at once caught and bound with
chains. One of the guests in fleeing through an attic-way caught
his topknot of hair in a rat-hole, and stood for some time yelling
for mercy, supposing that his captors had him. It was as though an
earthquake had shaken the house; all was the wildest confusion.

The Ussa put on decent clothes and gave his orders in a calm manner. He
sent the Magistrate to the capital at once, and began to look further
into the affairs of the office. Soon, however, he sent a chair for
Chun Yang Ye, delegating his own servants, and commanding them not
to explain what had happened. She supposed that the Magistrate, full
of wine, had sent for her, intending to kill her, and she begged the
amused servants to call her Toh Ryung to come and stay with her. They
assured her that he could not come, as already he too was at the yamen,
and she feared that harm had befallen him on her account.

They removed her shackles and bore her to the yamen, where the Ussa
addressed her in a changed voice, commanding her to look up and
answer her charges. She refused to look up or speak, feeling that
the sooner death came the better. Failing in this way, he then asked
her in his own voice to just glance at him. Surprised she looked up,
and her dazed eyes saw her lover standing there in his proper guise,
and with a delighted cry she tried to run to him, but fainted in the
attempt, and was borne in his arms to a room. Just then the old woman,
coming along with food, which she had brought as a last service to
her daughter, heard the good news from the excited throng outside, and
dashing away her dishes and their contents, she tore around for joy,
crying: "What a delightful birthday surprise for a cruel magistrate!"

All the people rejoiced with the daughter, but no one seemed to
think the old mother deserved such good fortune. The Ussa's conduct
was approved at court. A new magistrate was appointed. The marriage
was publicly solemnized at Seoul, and the Ussa was raised to a high
position, in which he was just to the people, who loved him for his
virtues, while the country rang with the praises of his faithful wife,
who became the mother of many children.



Sim Hyun, or Mr. Sim, was highly esteemed in the Korean village in
which he resided. He belonged to the Yang Ban, or gentleman class, and
when he walked forth it was with the stately swinging stride of the
gentleman, while if he bestrode his favorite donkey, or was carried
in his chair, a runner went ahead calling out to the commoners to
clear the road. His rank was not high, and though greatly esteemed as
a scholar, his income would scarcely allow of his taking the position
he was fitted to occupy.

His parents had been very fortunate in betrothing him to a remarkably
beautiful and accomplished maiden, daughter of a neighboring
gentleman. She was noted for beauty and grace, while her mental
qualities were the subject of continual admiration. She could not
only read and write her native ernmun, but was skilled in Chinese
characters, while her embroidered shoes, pockets, and other feminine
articles were the pride of her mother and friends. She had embroidered
a set of historic panels, which her father sent to the King. His
Majesty mentioned her skill with marked commendation, and had the
panels made up into a screen which for some time stood behind his mat,
and continually called forth his admiration.

Sim had not seemed very demonstrative in regard to his approaching
nuptials, but once he laid his eyes upon his betrothed, as she unveiled
at the ceremony, he was completely captivated, and brooked with poor
grace the formalities that had to be gone through before he could
claim her as his constant companion.

It was an exceptionally happy union, the pair being intellectually
suited to each other, and each apparently possessing the bodily
attributes necessary to charm the other. There was never a sign
of disgust or disappointment at the choice their parents had made
for them. They used to wander out into the little garden off the
women's quarters, and sit in the moonlight, planning for the future,
and enjoying the products of each other's well stored mind. It was
their pet desire to have a son, and all their plans seemed to centre
around this one ambition; the years came and went, however, but their
coveted blessing was withheld, the wife consulted priestesses, and
the husband, from long and great disappointment, grew sad at heart
and cared but little for mingling with the world, which he thought
regarded him with shame. He took to books and began to confine himself
to his own apartments, letting his poor wife stay neglected and alone
in the apartments of the women. From much study, lack of exercise,
and failing appetite, he grew thin and emaciated, and his eyes began
to show the wear of over-work and innutrition. The effect upon his
wife was also bad, but, with a woman's fortitude and patience, she
bore up and hoped in spite of constant disappointment. She worried
over her husband's condition and felt ashamed that she had no name in
the world, other than the wife of Sim, while she wished to be known
as the mother of the Sim of whom they had both dreamed by day and by
night till dreams had almost left them.

After fifteen years of childless waiting, the wife of Sim dreamed
again; this time her vision was a brilliant one, and in it she saw a
star come down to her from the skies above; the dream awakened her, and
she sent for her husband to tell him that she knew their blessing was
about to come to them; she was right, a child was given to them, but,
to their great dismay, it was only a girl. Heaven had kindly prepared
the way for the little visitor, however; for after fifteen years weary
waiting, they were not going to look with serious disfavor upon a girl,
however much their hopes had been placed upon the advent of a son.

The child grew, and the parents were united as they only could be
by such a precious bond. The ills of childhood seemed not to like
the little one, even the virus of small-pox, that was duly placed in
her nostril, failed to innoculate her, and her pretty skin remained
fresh and soft like velvet, and totally free from the marks of the
dread disease.

At three years of age she bade fair to far surpass her mother's
noted beauty and accomplishments. Her cheeks were full-blown roses,
and whenever she opened her dainty curved mouth, ripples of silvery
laughter, or words of mature wisdom, were sure to be given forth. The
hearts of the parents, that had previously been full of tears, were
now light, and full of contentment and joy; while they were constantly
filled with pride by the reports of the wonderful wisdom of their child
that continually came to them. The father forgot that his offspring
was not a boy, and had his child continually by his side to guide
his footsteps, as his feeble eyes refused to perform their office.

Just as their joy seemed too great to be lasting, it was suddenly
checked by the death of the mother, which plunged them into a deep
grief from which the father emerged totally blind. It soon became
a question as to where the daily food was to come from; little by
little household trinkets were given to the brokers to dispose of,
and in ten years they had used up the homestead, and all it contained.

The father was now compelled to ask alms, and as his daughter was grown
to womanhood, she could no longer direct his footsteps as he wandered
out in the darkness of the blind. [3] One day in his journeying he fell
into a deep ditch, from which he could not extricate himself. After
remaining in this deplorable condition for some time he heard a step,
and called out for assistance, saying: "I am blind, not drunk,"
whereupon the passing stranger said: "I know full well you are not
drunk. True, you are blind, yet not incurably so."

"Why, who are you that you know so much about me?" asked the blind man.

"I am the old priest of the temple in the mountain fortress."

"Well, what is this that you say about my not being permanently blind?"

"I am a prophet, and I have had a vision concerning you. In case you
make an offering of three hundred bags of rice to the Buddha of our
temple, you will be restored to sight, you will be given rank and
dignity, while your daughter will become the first woman in all Korea."

"But I am poor, as well as blind," was the reply. "How can I promise
such a princely offering?"

"You may give me your order for it, and pay it along as you are able,"
said the priest.

"Very well, give me pencil and paper," whereupon they retired to a
house, and the blind man gave his order for the costly price of his
sight. Returning home weary, bruised, and hungry, he smiled to himself,
in spite of his ill condition, at the thought of his giving an order
for so much rice when he had not a grain of it to eat.

He obtained, finally, a little work in pounding rice in the stone
mortars. It was hard labor for one who had lived as he had done; but
it kept them from starving, and his daughter prepared his food for him
as nicely as she knew how. One night, as the dinner was spread on the
little, low table before him, sitting on the floor, the priest came and
demanded his pay; the old blind man lost his appetite for his dinner,
and refused to eat. He had to explain to his daughter the compact
he had made with the priest, and, while she was filled with grief,
and dismayed at the enormity of the price, she yet seemed to have
some hope that it might be accomplished and his sight restored.

That night, after her midnight bath, she lay down on a mat in the
open air, and gazed up to heaven, to which she prayed that her poor
father might be restored to health and sight. While thus engaged,
she fell asleep and dreamed that her mother came down from heaven to
comfort her, and told her not to worry, that a means would be found
for the payment of the rice, and that soon all would be happy again
in the little family.

The next day she chanced to hear of the wants of a great merchant
who sailed in his large boats to China for trade, but was greatly
distressed by an evil spirit that lived in the water through which
he must pass. For some time, it was stated, he had not been able to
take his boats over this dangerous place, and his loss therefrom was
very great. At last it was reported that he was willing and anxious
to appease the spirit by making the offering the wise men had deemed
necessary. Priests had told him that the sacrifice of a young maiden to
the spirit would quiet it and remove the trouble. He was, therefore,
anxious to find the proper person, and had offered a great sum to
obtain such an one.

Sim Chung (our heroine), hearing of this, decided that it must be
the fulfilment of her dream, and having determined to go and offer
herself, she put on old clothes and fasted while journeying, that she
might look wan and haggard, like one in mourning. She had previously
prepared food for her father, and explained to him that she wished
to go and bow at her mother's grave, in return to her for having
appeared to her in a dream.

When the merchant saw the applicant, he was at once struck with her
beauty and dignity of carriage, in spite of her attempt to disguise
herself. He said that it was not in his heart to kill people especially
maidens of such worth as she seemed to be. He advised her not to
apply; but she told her story and said she would give herself for
the three hundred bags of rice. "Ah! now I see the true nobility
of your character. I did not know that such filial piety existed
outside the works of the ancients. I will send to my master and
secure the rice," said the man, who happened to be but an overseer
for a greater merchant.

She got the rice and took it to the priest in a long procession of
one hundred and fifty ponies, each laboring under two heavy bags;
the debt cancelled and her doom fixed, she felt the relaxation and
grief necessarily consequent upon such a condition. She could not
explain to her father, she mourned over the loneliness that would come
to him after she was gone, and wondered how he would support himself
after she was removed and until his sight should be restored. She lay
down and prayed to heaven, saying: "I am only fourteen years old,
and have but four more hours to live. What will become of my poor
father? Oh! who will care for him? Kind heaven, protect him when I
am gone." Wild with grief she went and sat on her father's knee, but
could not control her sobs and tears; whereupon he asked her what the
trouble could be. Having made up her mind that the time had come, and
that the deed was done and could not be remedied, she decided to tell
him, and tried to break it gently; but when the whole truth dawned
upon the poor old man it nearly killed him. He clasped her close
to his bosom, and crying: "My child, my daughter, my only comfort,
I will not let you go. What will eyes be to me if I can no longer
look upon your lovely face?" They mingled their tears and sobs,
and the neighbors, hearing the commotion in the usually quiet hut,
came to see what was the trouble. Upon ascertaining the reason of the
old man's grief, they united in the general wailing. Sim Chung begged
them to come and care for the old man when she could look after him no
more, and they agreed to do so. While the wailing and heart breaking
was going on, a stranger rode up on a donkey and asked for the Sim
family. He came just in time to see what the act was costing the poor
people. He comforted the girl by giving her a cheque for fifty bags
of rice for the support of the father when his daughter should be no
more. She took it gratefully and gave it to the neighbors to keep in
trust; she then prepared herself, took a last farewell, and left her
fainting father to go to her bed in the sea.

In due time the boat that bore Sim Chung, at the head of a procession
of boats, arrived at the place where the evil spirit reigned. She
was dressed in bridal garments furnished by the merchant. On her
arrival at the place, the kind merchant tried once more to appease
the spirit by an offering of eatables, but it was useless, whereupon
Sim Chung prayed to heaven, bade them all good-by, and leaped into
the sea. Above, all was quiet, the waves subsided, the sea became
like a lake, and the boats passed on their way unmolested.

When Sim Chung regained her consciousness she was seated in a little
boat drawn by fishes, and pretty maidens were giving her to drink
from a carved jade bottle. She asked them who they were, and where
she was going. They answered: "We are servants of the King of the Sea,
and we are taking you to his palace."

Sim Chung wondered if this was death, and thought it very pleasant if
it were. They passed through forests of waving plants, and saw great
lazy fish feeding about in the water, till at last they reached the
confines of the palace. Her amazement was then unbounded, for the
massive walls were composed of precious stones, such as she had only
heretofore seen used as ornaments. Pearls were used to cover the heads
of nails in the great doors through which they passed, and everywhere
there seemed a most costly and lavish display of the precious gems
and metals, while the walks were made of polished black marble that
shone in the water. The light, as it passed through the water, seemed
to form most beautifully colored clouds, and the rainbow colors were
everywhere disporting themselves.

Soon a mighty noise was heard, and they moved aside, while the King
passed by preceded by an army with gayly colored and beautifully
embroidered satin banners, each bearer blowing on an enormous
shell. The King was borne in a golden chair on the shoulders of
one hundred men, followed by one hundred musicians and as many
more beautiful "dancing girls," with wonderful head-dresses and
rich costumes.

Sim Chung objected to going before such an august king, but she
was assured of kind treatment, and, after being properly dressed by
the sea maids, in garments suitable for the palace of the Sea King,
she was borne in a chair on the shoulders of eunuchs to the King's
apartments. The King treated her with great respect, and all the
maidens and eunuchs bowed before her. She protested that she was not
worthy of such attention. "I am," she said, "but the daughter of a
beggar, for whom I thought I was giving my life when rescued by these
maidens. I am in no way worthy of your respect."

The King smiled a little, and said: "Ah! I know more of you than you
know of yourself. You must know that I am the Sea King, and that we
know full well the doings of the stars which shine in the heaven above,
for they continually visit us on light evenings. Well, you were once
a star. Many say a beautiful one, for you had many admirers. You
favored one star more than the others, and, in your attentions to
him, you abused your office as cup-bearer to the King of Heaven,
and let your lover have free access to all of the choice wines of
the palace. In this way, before you were aware of it, the peculiar
and choice brands that the King especially liked were consumed, and,
upon examination, your fault became known. As punishment, the King
decided to banish you to earth, but fearing to send you both at once,
lest you might be drawn together there, he sent your lover first, and
after keeping you in prison for a long time, you were sent as daughter
to your former lover. He is the man you claim as father. Heaven has
seen your filial piety, however, and repents. You will be hereafter
most highly favored, as a reward for your dutiful conduct." He then
sent her to fine apartments prepared for her, where she was to rest
and recuperate before going back to earth.

After a due period of waiting and feasting on royal food, Sim Chung's
beauty was more than restored. She had developed into a complete woman,
and her beauty was dazzling; her cheeks seemed colored by the beautiful
tints of the waters through which she moved with ease and comfort,
while her mind blossomed forth like a flower in the rare society of
the Sea King and his peculiarly gifted people.

When the proper time arrived for her departure for the world she had
left, a large and beautiful flower was brought into her chamber. It
was so arranged that Sim Chung could conceal herself inside of it,
while the delicious perfume and the juice of the plant were ample
nourishment. When she had bidden good-by to her peculiar friends and
taken her place inside the flower, it was conveyed to the surface of
the sea, at the place where she had plunged in. She had not waited
long in this strange position before a boat bore in sight. It proved
to be the vessel of her friend the merchant. As he drew near his old
place of danger he marvelled much at sight of such a beautiful plant,
growing and blossoming in such a strange place, where once only evil
was to be expected. He was also well-nigh intoxicated by the powerful
perfume exhaled from the plant. Steering close he managed to secure
the flower and place it safely in his boat, congratulating himself
on securing so valuable and curious a present for his King. For he
decided at once to present it at the palace if he could succeed in
getting it safely there.

The plan succeeded, the strange plant with its stranger tenant was
duly presented to His Majesty, who was delighted with the gift, and
spent his time gazing upon it to the exclusion of state business. He
had a glass house prepared for it in an inner court, and seemed never
to tire of watching his new treasure.

At night, when all was quiet, Sim Chung was wont to come forth and
rest herself by walking in the moonlight. But, on one occasion, the
King, being indisposed and restless, thought he would go to breathe
the rich perfume of the strange flower and rest himself. In this way
he chanced to see Sim Chung before she could conceal herself, and,
of course, his surprise was unbounded. He accosted her, not without
fear, demanding who she might be. She, being also afraid, took refuge
in her flower, when, to the amazement of both, the flower vanished,
leaving her standing alone where it had been but a moment before. The
King was about to flee, at this point, but she called to him not to
fear, that she was but a human being, and no spirit as he doubtless
supposed. The King drew near, and was at once lost in admiration of her
matchless beauty, when a great noise was heard outside, and eunuchs
came, stating that all the generals with the heads of departments
were asking for an audience on very important business. His Majesty
very reluctantly went to see what it all meant. An officer versed
in astronomy stated that they had, on the previous night, observed
a brilliant star descend from heaven and alight upon the palace,
and that they believed it boded good to the royal family. Then the
King told of the flower, and the wonderful apparition he had seen
in the divine maiden. It so happened that the queen was deceased,
and it was soon decided that the King should take this remarkable
maiden for his wife. The marriage was announced, and preparations all
made. As the lady was without parents, supposably, the ceremony took
place at the royal wedding hall, and was an occasion of great state.

Never was man more charmed by woman than in this case. The King would
not leave her by day or night, and the business of state was almost
totally neglected. At last Sim Chung chided her husband, telling him
it was not manly for the King to spend all his time in the women's
quarters; that if he cared so little for the rule as to neglect
it altogether, others might find occasion to usurp his place. She
enjoined upon him the necessity of giving the days to his business,
and being content to spend the nights with her. He saw her wisdom,
and remarked upon it, promising to abide by her advice.

After some time spent in such luxury, Sim Chung became lonely and
mourned for her poor father, but despaired of being able to see
him. She knew not if he were alive or dead, and the more she thought
of it the more she mourned, till tears were in her heart continually,
and not infrequently overflowed from her beautiful eyes. The King
chanced to see her weeping, and was solicitous to know the cause of
her sorrow, whereupon she answered that she was oppressed by a strange
dream concerning a poor blind man, and was desirous of alleviating in
some way the sufferings of the many blind men in the country. Again
the King marvelled at her great heart, and offered to do any thing
towards carrying out her noble purpose. Together they agreed that
they would summon all the blind men of the country to a great feast,
at which they should be properly clothed, amply fed, and treated each
to a present of cash.

The edict was issued, and on the day appointed for the feast, the
Queen secreted herself in a pavilion, from which she could look down
and fully observe the strange assemblage. She watched the first day,
but saw no one who resembled her lost parent; again the second day
she held her earnest vigil, but in vain. She was about to give up
her quest as useless and mourn over the loss of her father, when,
as the feast was closing on the third day, a feeble old man in rags
came tottering up. The attendants, having served so many, were treating
this poor fellow with neglect, and were about to drive him away as too
late when the Queen ordered them whipped and the old man properly fed.

He seemed well-nigh starved, and grasped at the food set before him
with the eagerness of an animal. There seemed to be something about
this forlorn creature that arrested and engaged the attention of the
Queen, and the attendants, noticing this, were careful to clothe him
with extra care. When sufficient time had elapsed for the satisfying
of his hunger, he was ordered brought to the Queen's pavilion, where
Her Majesty scrutinized him closely for a few moments, and then,
to the surprise and dismay of all her attendants, she screamed:
"My father! my father!" and fell at his feet senseless. Her maids
hurried off to tell the King of the strange conduct of their mistress,
and he came to see for himself. By rubbing her limbs and applying
strong-smelling medicines to her nostrils, the fainting Queen was
restored to consciousness, and allowed to tell her peculiar and
interesting story. The King had heard much of it previously. But
the poor old blind man could barely collect his senses sufficiently
to grasp the situation. As the full truth began to dawn upon him,
he cried: "Oh! my child, can the dead come back to us? I hear your
voice; I feel your form; but how can I know it is you, for I have no
eyes? Away with these sightless orbs!" And he tore at his eyes with
his nails, when to his utter amazement and joy, the scales fell away,
and he stood rejoicing in his sight once more.

His Majesty was overjoyed to have his lovely Queen restored to
her wonted happy frame of mind. He made the old man an officer
of high rank, appointed him a fine house, and had him married to
the accomplished daughter of an officer of suitable rank, thereby
fulfilling the last of the prophecy of both the aged priest and the
King of the Sea.



During the reign of the third king in Korea there lived a noble of high
rank and noted family, by name Hong. His title was Ye Cho Pansa. He
had two sons by his wife and one by one of his concubines. The latter
son was very remarkable from his birth to his death, and he it is
who forms the subject of this history.

When Hong Pansa was the father of but two sons, he dreamed by night
on one occasion that he heard the noise of thunder, and looking up he
saw a huge dragon entering his apartment, which seemed too small to
contain the whole of his enormous body. The dream was so startling as
to awaken the sleeper, who at once saw that it was a good omen, and a
token to him of a blessing about to be conferred. He hoped the blessing
might prove to be another son, and went to impart the good news to
his wife. She would not see him, however, as she was offended by his
taking a concubine from the class of "dancing girls." The great man
was sad, and went away. Within the year, however, a son of marvellous
beauty was born to one concubine, much to the annoyance of his wife
and to himself, for he would have been glad to have the beautiful
boy a full son, and eligible to office. The child was named Kil Tong,
or Hong Kil Tong. He grew fast, and became more and more beautiful. He
learned rapidly, and surprised every one by his remarkable ability. As
he grew up he rebelled at being placed with the slaves, and at not
being allowed to call his parent, father. The other children laughed
and jeered at him, and made life very miserable. He refused longer to
study of the duties of children to their parents. He upset his table in
school, and declared he was going to be a soldier. One bright moonlight
night Hong Pansa saw his son in the court-yard practising the arts of
the soldier, and he asked him what it meant. Kil Tong answered that
he was fitting himself to become a man that people should respect and
fear. He said he knew that heaven had made all things for the use of
men, if they found themselves capable of using them, and that the laws
of men were only made to assist a few that could not otherwise do as
they would; but that he was not inclined to submit to any such tyranny,
but would become a great man in spite of his evil surroundings. "This
is a most remarkable boy," mused Hong Pansa. "What a pity that he is
not my proper and legitimate son, that he might be an honor to my
name. As it is, I fear he will cause me serious trouble." He urged
the boy to go to bed and sleep, but Kil Tong said it was useless,
that if he went to bed he would think of his troubles till the tears
washed sleep away from his eyes, and caused him to get up.

The wife of Hong Pansa and his other concubine (the dancing girl),
seeing how much their lord and master thought of Kil Tong, grew to hate
the latter intensely, and began to lay plans for ridding themselves
of him. They called some mootang, or sorceresses, and explained to
them that their happiness was disturbed by this son of a rival, and
that peace could only be restored to their hearts by the death of
this youth. The witches laughed and said: "Never mind. There is an
old woman who lives by the east gate, tell her to come and prejudice
the father. She can do it, and he will then look after his son."

The old hag came as requested. Hong Pansa was then in the women's
apartments, telling them of the wonderful boy, much to their
annoyance. A visitor was announced, and the old woman made a low
bow outside. Hong Pansa asked her what her business was, and she
stated that she had heard of his wonderful son, and came to see him,
to foretell what his future was to be.

Kil Tong came as called, and on seeing him the hag bowed and said:
"Send out all of the people." She then stated: "This will be a
very great man; if not a king, he will be greater than the king,
and will avenge his early wrongs by killing all his family." At this
the father called to her to stop, and enjoined strict secrecy upon
her. He sent Kil Tong at once to a strong room, and had him locked
in for safe keeping.

The boy was very sad at this new state of affairs, but as his father
let him have books, he got down to hard study, and learned the Chinese
works on astronomy. He could not see his mother, and his unnatural
father was too afraid to come near him. He made up his mind, however,
that as soon as he could get out he would go to some far off country,
where he was not known, and make his true power felt.

Meanwhile, the unnatural father was kept in a state of continual
excitement by his wicked concubine, who was bent on the destruction
of the son of her rival, and kept constantly before her master the
great dangers that would come to him from being the parent of such a
man as Kil Tong was destined to be, if allowed to live. She showed him
that such power as the boy was destined to possess, would eventually
result in his overthrowal, and with him his father's house would be
in disgrace, and, doubtless, would be abolished. While if this did
not happen, the son was sure to kill his family, so that, in either
case, it was the father's clear duty to prevent any further trouble
by putting the boy out of the way. Hong Pansa was finally persuaded
that his concubine was right, and sent for the assassins to come and
kill his son. But a spirit filled the father with disease, and he
told the men to stay their work. Medicines failed to cure the disease,
and the mootang women were called in by the concubine. They beat their
drums and danced about the room, conjuring the spirit to leave, but it
would not obey. At last they said, at the suggestion of the concubine,
that Kil Tong was the cause of the disorder, and that with his death
the spirit would cease troubling the father.

Again the assassins were sent for, and came with their swords,
accompanied by the old hag from the east gate. While they were
meditating on the death of Kil Tong, he was musing on the unjust
laws of men who allowed sons to be born of concubines, but denied
them rights that were enjoyed by other men.

While thus musing in the darkness of the night, he heard a crow
caw three times and fly away. "This means something ill to me,"
thought he; and just then his window was thrown open, and in stepped
the assassins. They made at the boy, but he was not there. In their
rage they wounded each other, and killed the old woman who was their
guide. To their amazement the room had disappeared, and they were
surrounded by high mountains. A mighty storm arose, and rocks flew
through the air. They could not escape, and, in their terror, were
about to give up, when music was heard, and a boy came riding by on
a donkey, playing a flute. He took away their weapons, and showed
himself to be Kil Tong. He promised not to kill them, as they begged
for their lives, but only on condition that they should never try to
kill another man. He told them that he would know if the promise was
broken, and, in that event, he would instantly kill them.

Kil Tong went by night to see his father, who thought him a spirit,
and was very much afraid. He gave his father medicine, which instantly
cured him; and sending for his mother, bade her good-by, and started
for an unknown country.

His father was very glad that the boy had escaped, and lost his
affection for his wicked concubine. But the latter, with her mistress,
was very angry, and tried in vain to devise some means to accomplish
their evil purposes.

Kil Tong, free at last, journeyed to the south, and began to ascend
the lonely mountains. Tigers were abundant, but he feared them not,
and they seemed to avoid molesting him. After many days, he found
himself high up on a barren peak enveloped by the clouds, and enjoyed
the remoteness of the place, and the absence of men and obnoxious
laws. He now felt himself a free man, and the equal of any, while
he knew that heaven was smiling upon him and giving him powers not
accorded to other men.

Through the clouds at some distance he thought he espied a huge
stone door in the bare wall of rock. Going up to it, he found it to
be indeed a movable door, and, opening it, he stepped inside, when,
to his amazement, he found himself in an open plain, surrounded by
high and inaccessible mountains. He saw before him over two hundred
good houses, and many men, who, when they had somewhat recovered
from their own surprise, came rushing upon him, apparently with evil
intent. Laying hold upon him they asked him who he was, and why he
came trespassing upon their ground. He said: "I am surprised to find
myself in the presence of men. I am but the son of a concubine, and
men, with their laws, are obnoxious to me. Therefore, I thought to
get away from man entirely, and, for that reason, I wandered alone
into these wild regions. But who are you, and why do you live in this
lone spot? Perhaps we may have a kindred feeling."

"We are called thieves," was answered; "but we only despoil the hated
official class of some of their ill-gotten gains. We are willing to
help the poor unbeknown, but no man can enter our stronghold and depart
alive, unless he has become one of us. To do so, however, he must prove
himself to be strong in body and mind. If you can pass the examination
and wish to join our party, well and good; otherwise you die."

This suited Kil Tong immensely, and he consented to the
conditions. They gave him various trials of strength, but he chose his
own. Going up to a huge rock on which several men were seated, he laid
hold of it and hurled it to some distance, to the dismay of the men,
who fell from their seat, and to the surprised delight of all. He was
at once installed a member, and a feast was ordered. The contract
was sealed by mingling blood from the lips of all the members with
blood similarly supplied by Kil Tong. He was then given a prominent
seat and served to wine and food.

Kil Tong soon became desirous of giving to his comrades some
manifestation of his courage. An opportunity presently offered. He
heard the men bemoaning their inability to despoil a large and strong
Buddhist temple not far distant. As was the rule, this temple in the
mountains was well patronized by officials, who made it a place of
retirement for pleasure and debauch, and in return the lazy, licentious
priests were allowed to collect tribute from the poor people about,
till they had become rich and powerful. The several attempts made
by the robber band had proved unsuccessful, by virtue of the number
and vigilance of the priests, together with the strength of their
enclosure. Kil Tong agreed to assist them to accomplish their design
or perish in the attempt, and such was their faith in him that they
readily agreed to his plans.

On a given day Kil Tong, dressed in the red gown of a youth, just
betrothed, covered himself with the dust of travel, and mounted on a
donkey, with one robber disguised as a servant, made his way to the
temple. He asked on arrival to be shown to the head priest, to whom
he stated that he was the son of Hong Pansa, that his noble father
having heard of the greatness of this temple, and the wisdom of its
many priests, had decided to send him with a letter, which he produced,
to be educated among their numbers. He also stated that a train of one
hundred ponies loaded with rice had been sent as a present from his
father to the priest, and he expected they would arrive before dark,
as they did not wish to stop alone in the mountains, even though
every pony was attended by a groom, who was armed for defense. The
priests were delighted, and having read the letter, they never for
a moment suspected that all was not right. A great feast was ordered
in honor of their noble scholar, and all sat down before the tables,
which were filled so high that one could hardly see his neighbor on the
opposite side. They had scarcely seated themselves and indulged in the
generous wine, when it was announced that the train of ponies laden
with rice had arrived. Servants were sent to look after the tribute,
and the eating and drinking went on. Suddenly Kil Tong clapped his
hand, over his cheek with a cry of pain, which drew the attention of
all. When, to the great mortification of the priests, he produced from
his mouth a pebble, previously introduced on the sly, and exclaimed:
"Is it to feed on stones that my father sent me to this place? What
do you mean by setting such rice before a gentleman?"

The priests were filled with mortification and dismay, and bowed
their shaven heads to the floor in humiliation. When at a sign from
Kil Tong, a portion of the robbers, who had entered the court as
grooms to the ponies, seized the bending priests and bound them as
they were. The latter shouted for help, but the other robbers, who
had been concealed in the bags, which were supposed to contain rice,
seized the servants, while others were loading the ponies with jewels,
rice, cash and whatever of value they could lay hands upon.

An old priest who was attending to the fires, seeing the uproar,
made off quietly to the yamen near by and called for soldiers. The
soldiers were sent after some delay, and Kil Tong, disguised as
a priest, called to them to follow him down a by-path after the
robbers. While he conveyed the soldiers over this rough path,
the robbers made good their escape by the main road, and were soon
joined in their stronghold by their youthful leader, who had left the
soldiers groping helplessly in the dark among the rocks and trees in
a direction opposite that taken by the robbers.

The priests soon found out that they had lost almost all their riches,
and were at no loss in determining how the skilful affair had been
planned and carried out. Kil Tong's name was noised abroad, and it
was soon known that he was heading a band of robbers, who, through
his assistance, were able to do many marvellous things. The robber
band were delighted at the success of his first undertaking, and made
him their chief, with the consent of all. After sufficient time had
elapsed for the full enjoyment of their last and greatest success,
Kil Tong planned a new raid.

The Governor of a neighboring province was noted for his overbearing
ways and the heavy burdens that he laid upon his subjects. He was
very rich, but universally hated, and Kil Tong decided to avenge the
people and humiliate the Governor, knowing that his work would be
appreciated by the people, as were indeed his acts at the temple. He
instructed his band to proceed singly to the Governor's city--the
local capital--at the time of a fair, when their coming would not
cause comment. At a given time a portion of them were to set fire
to a lot of straw-thatched huts outside the city gates, while the
others repaired in a body to the Governor's yamen. They did so. The
Governor was borne in his chair to a place where he could witness the
conflagration, which also drew away the most of the inhabitants. The
robbers bound the remaining servants, and while some were securing
money, jewels, and weapons, Kil Tong wrote on the walls: "The wicked
Governor that robs the people is relieved of his ill-gotten gains by
Kil Tong--the people's avenger."

Again the thieves made good their escape, and Kil Tong's name
became known everywhere. The Governor offered a great reward for his
capture, but no one seemed desirous of encountering a robber of such
boldness. At last the King offered a reward after consulting with his
officers. When one of them said he would capture the thief alone,
the King was astonished at his boldness and courage, and bade him
be off and make the attempt. The officer was called the Pochang;
he had charge of the prisons, and was a man of great courage.

The Pochang started on his search, disguised as a traveller. He took
a donkey and servant, and after travelling many days he put up at
a little inn, at the same time that another man on a donkey rode
up. The latter was Kil Tong in disguise, and he soon entered into
conversation with the man, whose mission was known to him.

"I goo," said Kil Tong, as he sat down to eat, "this is a dangerous
country. I have just been chased by the robber Kil Tong till the life
is about gone out of me."

"Kil Tong, did you say?" remarked Pochang. "I wish he would chase
me. I am anxious to see the man of whom we hear so much."

"Well, if you see him once you will be satisfied," replied Kil Tong.

"Why?" asked the Pochang. "Is he such a fearful-looking man as to
frighten one by his aspect alone?"

"No; on the contrary he looks much as do ordinary mortals. But we
know he is different, you see."

"Exactly," said the Pochang. "That is just the trouble. You are
afraid of him before you see him. Just let me get a glimpse of him,
and matters will be different, I think."

"Well," said Kil Tong, "you can be easily pleased, if that is all,
for I dare say if you go back into the mountains here you will see him,
and get acquainted with him too."

"That is good. Will you show me the place?"

"Not I. I have seen enough of him to please me. I can tell you where
to go, however, if you persist in your curiosity," said the robber.

"Agreed!" exclaimed the officer. "Let us be off at once lest he
escapes. And if you succeed in showing him to me, I will reward you
for your work and protect you from the thief."

After some objection by Kil Tong, who appeared to be reluctant to
go, and insisted on at least finishing his dinner, they started
off, with their servants, into the mountains. Night overtook them,
much to the apparent dismay of the guide, who pretended to be very
anxious to give up the quest. At length, however, they came to the
stone door, which was open. Having entered the robber's stronghold,
the door closed behind them, and the guide disappeared, leaving the
dismayed officer surrounded by the thieves. His courage had now left
him, and he regretted his rashness. The robbers bound him securely
and led him past their miniature city into an enclosure surrounded
by houses which, by their bright colors, seemed to be the abode of
royalty. He was conveyed into a large audience-chamber occupying the
most extensive building of the collection, and there, on a sort of
throne, in royal style, sat his guide. The Pochang saw his mistake,
and fell on his face, begging for mercy. Kil Tong upbraided him
for his impudence and arrogance and promised to let him off this
time. Wine was brought, and all partook of it. That given to the
officer was drugged, and he fell into a stupor soon after drinking
it. While in this condition he was put into a bag and conveyed in a
marvellous manner to a high mountain overlooking the capital. Here
he found himself upon recovering from the effects of his potion;
and not daring to face his sovereign with such a fabulous tale, he
cast himself down from the high mountain, and was picked up dead, by
passers-by, in the morning. Almost at the same time that His Majesty
received word of the death of his officer, and was marvelling at the
audacity of the murderer in bringing the body almost to the palace
doors, came simultaneous reports of great depredations in each of the
eight provinces. The trouble was in each case attributed to Kil Tong,
and the fact that he was reported as being in eight far removed places
at the same time caused great consternation.

Official orders were issued to each of the eight governors to catch
and bring to the city, at once, the robber Kil Tong. These orders were
so well obeyed that upon a certain day soon after, a guard came from
each province bringing Kil Tong, and there in a line stood eight men
alike in every respect.

The King on inquiry found that Kil Tong was the son of Hong Pansa,
and the father was ordered into the royal presence. He came with his
legitimate son, and bowed his head in shame to the ground. When asked
what he meant by having a son who would cause such general misery
and distress, he swooned away, and would have died had not one of the
Kil Tongs produced some medicine which cured him. The son, however,
acted as spokesman, and informed the King that Kil Tong was but the
son of his father's slave, that he was utterly incorrigible, and had
fled from home when a mere boy. When asked to decide as to which was
his true son, the father stated that his son had a scar on the left
thigh. Instantly each of the eight men pulled up the baggy trousers and
displayed a scar. The guard was commanded to remove the men and kill
all of them; but when they attempted to do so the life had disappeared,
and the men were found to be only figures in straw and wax.

Soon after this a letter was seen posted on the Palace gate, announcing
that if the government would confer upon Kil Tong the rank of Pansa,
as held by his father, and thus remove from him the stigma attaching
to him as the son of a slave, he would stop his depredations. This
proposition could not be entertained at first, but one of the counsel
suggested that it might offer a solution of the vexed question, and
they could yet be spared the disgrace of having an officer with such
a record. For, as he proposed, men could be so stationed that when
the newly-appointed officer came to make his bow before His Majesty,
they could fall upon him and kill him before he arose. This plan
was greeted with applause, and a decree was issued conferring the
desired rank; proclamations to that effect being posted in public
places, so that the news would reach Kil Tong. It did reach him,
and he soon appeared at the city gate. A great crowd attended him
as he rode to the Palace gates; but knowing the plans laid for him,
as he passed through the gates and came near enough to be seen of the
King, he was caught up in a cloud and borne away amid strange music;
wholly discomfiting his enemies.

Some time after this occurrence the King was walking with a few eunuchs
and attendants in the royal gardens. It was evening time, but the full
moon furnished ample light. The atmosphere was tempered just to suit;
it was neither cold nor warm, while it lacked nothing of the bracing
character of a Korean autumn. The leaves were blood-red on the maples;
the heavy cloak of climbing vines that enshrouded the great wall near
by was also beautifully colored. These effects could even be seen
by the bright moonlight, and seated on a hill-side the royal party
were enjoying the tranquillity of the scene, when all were astonished
by the sound of a flute played by some one up above them. Looking up
among the tree-tops a man was seen descending toward them, seated upon
the back of a gracefully moving stork. The King imagined it must be
some heavenly being, and ordered the chief eunuch to make some proper
salutation. But before this could be done, a voice was heard saying:
"Fear not, O King. I am simply Hong Pansa [Kil Tong's new title]. I
have come to make my obeisance before your august presence and be
confirmed in my rank."

This he did, and no one attempted to molest him; seeing which, the
King, feeling that it was useless longer to attempt to destroy a man
who could read the unspoken thoughts of men, said:

"Why do you persist in troubling the country? I have removed from
you now the stigma attached to your birth. What more will you have?"

"I wish," said Kil Tong, with due humility, "to go to a distant land,
and settle down to the pursuit of peace and happiness. If I may be
granted three thousand bags of rice I will gladly go and trouble you
no longer."

"But how will you transport such an enormous quantity of rice?" asked
the King.

"That can be arranged," said Kil Tong. "If I may be but granted the
order, I will remove the rice at daybreak."

The order was given. Kil Tong went away as he came, and in the early
morning a fleet of junks appeared off the royal granaries, took on
the rice, and made away before the people were well aware of their

Kil Tong now sailed for an island off the west coast. He found one
uninhabited, and with his few followers he stored his riches, and
brought many articles of value from his former hiding-places. His
people he taught to till the soil, and all went well on the little
island till the master made a trip to a neighboring island, which was
famous for its deadly mineral poison,--a thing much prized for tipping
the arrows with. Kil Tong wanted to get some of this poison, and made
a visit to the island. While passing through the settled districts he
casually noticed that many copies of a proclamation were posted up,
offering a large reward to any one who would succeed in restoring
to her father a young lady who had been stolen by a band of savage
people who lived in the mountains.

Kil Tong journeyed on all day, and at night he found himself high up
in the wild mountain regions, where the poison was abundant. Gazing
about in making some preparations for passing the night in this place,
he saw a light, and following it, he came to a house built below him
on a ledge of rocks, and in an almost inaccessible position. He could
see the interior of a large hall, where were gathered many hairy,
shaggy-looking men, eating, drinking, and smoking. One old fellow, who
seemed to be chief, was tormenting a young lady by trying to tear away
her veil and expose her to the gaze of the barbarians assembled. Kil
Tong could not stand this sight, and, taking a poisoned arrow,
he sent it direct for the heart of the villain, but the distance
was so great that he missed his mark sufficiently to only wound the
arm. All were amazed, and in the confusion the girl escaped, and Kil
Tong concealed himself for the night. He was seen next day by some
of the savage band, who caught him, and demanded who he was and why
he was found in the mountains. He answered that he was a physician,
and had come up there to collect a certain rare medicine only known
to exist in those mountains.

The robbers seemed rejoiced, and explained that their chief had been
wounded by an arrow from the clouds, and asked him if he could cure
him. Kil Tong was taken in and allowed to examine the chief, when he
agreed to cure him within three days. Hastily mixing up some of the
fresh poison, he put it into the wound, and the chief died almost at
once. Great was the uproar when the death became known. All rushed at
the doctor, and would have killed him, but Kil Tong, finding his own
powers inadequate, summoned to his aid his old friends the spirits
(quay sin), and swords flashed in the air, striking off heads at
every blow, and not ceasing till the whole band lay weltering in
their own blood.

Bursting open a door, Kil Tong saw two women sitting with covered
faces, and supposing them to be of the same strange people, he was
about to dispatch them on the spot, when one of them threw aside her
veil and implored for mercy. Then it was that Kil Tong recognized the
maiden whom he had rescued the previous evening. She was marvellously
beautiful, and already he was deeply smitten with her maidenly
charms. Her voice seemed like that of an angel of peace sent to quiet
the hearts of rough men. As she modestly begged for her life, she told
the story of her capture by the robbers, and how she had been dragged
away to their den, and was only saved from insult by the interposition
of some heavenly being, who had in pity smote the arm of her tormentor.

Great was Kil Tong's joy at being able to explain his own part in the
matter, and the maiden heart, already won by the manly beauty of her
rescuer, now overflowed with gratitude and love. Remembering herself,
however, she quickly veiled her face, but the mischief had been done;
each had seen the other, and they could henceforth know no peace,
except in each other's presence.

The proclamations had made but little impression upon Kil Tong,
and it was not till the lady had told her story that he remembered
reading them. He at once took steps to remove the beautiful girl
and her companion in distress, and not knowing but that other of the
savages might return, he did not dare to make search for a chair and
bearers, but mounting donkeys the little party set out for the home
of the distressed parents, which they reached safely in due time. The
father's delight knew no bounds. He was a subject of Korea's King, yet
he possessed this island and ruled its people in his own right. And
calling his subjects, he explained to them publicly the wonderful
works of the stranger, to whom he betrothed his daughter, and to whom
he gave his official position.

The people indulged in all manner of gay festivities in honor of the
return of the lost daughter of their chief; in respect to the bravery
of Kil Tong; and to celebrate his advent as their ruler.

In due season the marriage ceremonies were celebrated, and the
impatient lovers were given to each other's embrace. Their lives
were full of happiness and prosperity. Other outlying islands were
united under Kil Tong's rule, and no desire or ambition remained
ungratified. Yet there came a time when the husband grew sad, and
tears swelled the heart of the young wife as she tried in vain to
comfort him. He explained at last that he had a presentiment that his
father was either dead or dying, and that it was his duty to go and
mourn at the grave. With anguish at the thought of parting, the wife
urged him to go. Taking a junk laden with handsome marble slabs for
the grave and statuary to surround it, and followed by junks bearing
three thousand bags of rice, he set out for the capital. Arriving,
he cut off his hair, and repaired to his old home, where a servant
admitted him on the supposition that he was a priest. He found his
father was no more; but the body yet remained, because a suitable
place could not be found for the burial. Thinking him to be a priest,
Kil Tong was allowed to select the spot, and the burial took place
with due ceremony. Then it was that the son revealed himself, and
took his place with the mourners. The stone images and monuments
were erected upon the nicely sodded grounds. Kil Tong sent the rice
he had brought, to the government granaries in return for the King's
loan to him, and regretted that mourning would prevent his paying his
respects to his King; he set out for his home with his true mother
and his father's legal wife. The latter did not survive long after
the death of her husband, but the poor slave-mother of the bright
boy was spared many years to enjoy the peace and quiet of her son's
bright home, and to be ministered to by her dutiful, loving children
and their numerous offspring.

                                THE END.


[1] This law has recently been repealed, owing to the fact that bad
men often molested the women, who are usually possessed of costly
jewels. The husbands are now allowed on the streets as a protection,
since even the police were unable to suppress the outrages alone.

[2] Cats are indeed rare in Korea, while dogs are as abundant as
in Constantinople.

[3] After reaching girlhood persons of respectability are not seen
on the streets in Korea.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Korean Tales - Being a collection of stories translated from the Korean folk lore" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.