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Eastern shame girl

Eastern shame girl



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A Complicated Marriage

8th Tale


Marriages have from all time been arranged beforehand by Heaven. If such is the will of destiny, the most distantly separated persons come together, and the nearest neighbors never see each other. All is settled before birth, and every effort of mortals does but accomplish the decree of Fate. This is proved by the following story.

During the Ching-yu period of the Sung dynasty, there lived at Hang-chow a doctor named Liu. His wife had given him a son and a daughter. The son, who was but sixteen years old, had been called Virgin Diamond, and was betrothed to young Pearl, of the family of Sun. He was brilliant in his studies, and gave every promise that he would one day attain to the highest literary standard, and to the greatest honor. The daughter was named Prudence. She was fifteen years old, and had just received marriage gifts from her betrothed, the son of P’ei, a neighboring druggist. Her eyebrows were like the feelers of a butterfly, and her eyes had the grace of those of a phoenix. Her hips, flexible as willow branches swayed by the wind, wakened the liveliest feeling. Her face was that of a flower; and the nimbleness of her light body brought to mind the flight of swallows.

The go-between who had concluded Prudence’s betrothal came one day at the instance of the P’ei family to ask that marriage might be hastened. But Liu had determined first to accomplish the ceremonies for his son, and accordingly took customary steps with this object in view, so that a day was at length fixed. But when the appointed time was drawing near, Virgin Diamond fell seriously ill. His father, Liu, wished to postpone the ceremony, but his mother argued that perhaps joy would cure him better than medicine.

“But if, by mischance, our son should die?” he insisted.

“We will send back the bride and all the gifts, and the family will have nothing to say.”

The doctor, like many men, was wax in the hands of his wife, and therefore her wish was fulfilled.

But it chanced that one of their neighbors had been slightly affronted by them, and had never forgiven them. He heard of Virgin Diamond’s illness, and spoke of it to the family of Sun.

Sun had no intention of compromising his daughter’s future; so he summoned and questioned the go-between who had arranged the betrothal. The poor woman was in a great quandary, fearing to offend either the one family or the other; yet she was compelled to admit the truth. In her anxiety she ran to the house of Liu to obtain a postponement of the marriage until Virgin Diamond’s recovery, and hinted that, failing this, Sun would send his old nurse to see the sick bridegroom.

Liu did not know what to do, and before he had come to a decision, the nurse arrived. He saluted her, not knowing what excuse to make. At last he said to the go-between: “Be so good as to entertain this venerable aunt for a moment, while I go and find my Old-Thornbush.”

He hurried into the interior of the house, and in a few words told his wife what was happening.

“She is already here and wishes to see our son. I told you that it would have been better to change the day.”

“You really are a decayed piece of goods. Their daughter has received our gifts, and is already our daughter-in-law. You shall see.”

Then she said to Prudence:

“Make haste and prepare our large room for a collation to the family of Sun.”

She herself went to the room where the nurse was, and asked:

“Has our new daughter’s mother something to say to us?”

“She is uneasy about the health of your honorable son, and has sent me to see him, thinking that it would be better to postpone the marriage if he were seriously ill.”

“I am gratified to receive this proof of her consideration. My son has, in fact, taken cold, but it is not a serious indisposition. As for choosing another day, that is not to be thought of. Our preparations are made, and a delay would involve too great a loss. Furthermore, happiness drives away every ill. The invitations are sent out. We might imagine that your family had changed its intention....”

“At least, can I see the invalid?”

“He has just taken a drug and is asleep. Besides, I have told you that he has caught cold. Are you trying to insult me by expressing a wish to prove my words?”

“If the matter stands thus,” the nurse politely made haste to answer, “it only remains for me to withdraw.”

“You cannot go in this way. You have not even taken a cup of tea. If you please, let us go into the new room, for my house is all in disorder.”

On entering, the nurse observed the excellent arrangement of the young couple’s apartment.

“Everything is ready, as you see,” said the wife of Liu. “And if my son is not quite recovered after the ceremony, I shall take care of him in my pavilion, until he is able to embark upon his conjugal life.”

Having taken tea, the nurse at last arose and went away. On her return she recounted to her master and mistress what had taken place, and Sun and his wife found themselves in a difficult dilemma. They could not think of allowing their daughter to ruin her life by entering of her betrothed, if he were going to die, and, if the young man were not seriously ill, they stood the risk of losing all their preparation, and of giving occasion for slander. Suddenly their son Yu-lang, who was present, said:

“If they have not allowed him to be seen, it means that he is seriously ill. There is no way by which we can go back on our contract; and yet we cannot send my sister to her ruin in this fashion. I have a plan, and you must tell me what you think of it. Let us send the go-between to advise Liu that the marriage will take place on the appointed day, but that the bride’s equipment will not be sent until after her husband’s recovery. I am sure that they will reject this offer, and then we shall have a good excuse for throwing the blame on them.”

“But what if they should agree,” objected his parents, after a moment’s reflection.

“They will certainly not agree, or else they would have postponed the marriage. Besides, it is impossible that they should be willing to have another mouth to feed, without any dowry or plenishing.”

His father said:

“Very well, if by any chance they do agree, you shall disguise yourself as a woman and go in your sister’s place. You could take a man’s clothing with you, and put it on if the sick youth recovered, or matters seemed to take an unfortunate turn. They would not dare to say anything for fear of being ridiculed.”

“Oh! that is impossible!” cried the young man. “In the first place I would be discovered at once. And what would people say of me afterwards?”

“They would say that you had played a trick on these people, and that is all. You are still in the freshness of youth. You are sufficiently like your sister to deceive those who do not know you very well, especially in a wedding garment. You must do it. That is decided. The nurse can go with you to arrange your hair.... And in this way, if our son-in-law dies, Liu will have neither my daughter nor her equipment.”

When the wife of Liu received Sun’s proposal from the mouth of the go-between, she hesitated for a moment. But then she reflected on the false situation in which she would be placed by refusing. So, masking her thoughts beneath a smile, she agreed to the arrangement.

On the day fixed for the marriage, Yu-lang was constrained to disguise himself. But two grave difficulties presented themselves. First with regard to his feet: how was it possible for him to imitate his sister’s ravishing golden lotuses, so like to sphinx heads, and the balancing of her light steps, a swaying of flowers in the soft breeze? They gave him a petticoat which reached to the ground, and he practised his sister’s gait, at which she laughed until she cried. The next question was his ear-rings. It so happened that his left lobe had been pierced; for in his childhood they had made him wear one ring, in order to persuade the evil spirits that he was a girl, whose death would be of no importance. Everybody knows that the Jinn always endeavor to rob us of that which is truly dear to us, and leave untouched that which is of no value.

So Yu-lang hung a jewel in his left lobe, and stuck a small piece of plaster over his right ear, so that it might seem it had suffered a slight wound. His great pearl-decorated headdress concealed his head, brow and shoulders. His scarlet robes, embroidered with gold and silver, helped to disguise his figure, and the transformation was complete by rouge on his lips and cheeks.

When evening at length drew near, drums and flutes were sounded, the flowered palankeen entered the courtyard, and the hoodwinked go-between, admiring the beauty of the bogus bride, herself opened the scarlet curtains. Not seeing Yu-lang; she remarked upon this circumstance, and they answered carelessly that he was indisposed and kept to his bed. Actually at that moment he was taking leave of his parents and imitating to the best of his ability the sobs which were fitting to the occasion.

The procession at last set out and all the bride’s equipment was a little leather trunk. At the house of Liu there was considerable discussion:

“When the bride arrives, our son will be unable to cross the threshold as ritual demands, and the marriage will not be accomplished. The bride will be left alone to salute the ancestors, and this is impossible. What shall we do?”

“It cannot be helped,” answered the mother. “So much the worse! Our daughter must make it known that she will take her brother’s place. She shall recite the poem of the threshold in his name, and the rites will be thus observed.”

And Prudence, in her graceful girl’s garments, did in fact receive the false Pearl as she got out of the palankeen, pronounced the sacred formulas, and led the new bride before the tablets. The two seeming sisters-in-law knelt down, and several of the bystanders laughed inwardly to see two women perform the marriage ceremony, and then kneel for the purpose of the grand prostration.

The wife of Liu led Yu-lang to the invalid’s bed; but he had been excited and troubled by the music and noise, and had fainted. They had hastily to revive him by pouring some spoonfuls of hot soup in his mouth.

At length the false bride was led to the prepared pavilion, and her great veil was taken off. Then her fresh beauty shone forth, and everybody uttered exclamations of joy: the wife of Liu was alone in feeling a certain compassion, for she thought of all that the new bride would have to lose, and deplored her son’s misfortune in falling ill at the moment of tasting so great happiness.

As for Yu-lang, the tedium of beholding the hideousness of all the guests was curiously diminished by the pleasure of seeing Prudence’s delectable face. He thought:

“What a misfortune that I am already betrothed! Here is she whom Fate should have given me.”

Prudence, on her part, felt herself drawn towards him in an irresistible manner, and said to her mother and the go-between:

“Alas! surely my brother has no luck, and my sister-in-law will be very unhappy alone tonight! Is she not charming? If my future husband were like her, my life would be free from all regret.”

Meanwhile, the marriage feast came to an end, a present was sent to the musicians, and the guests withdrew. The disguised boy, after being conducted to his pavilion, had his nurse’s assistance in unmaking the complicated structure of his nuptial adornment. At last he found himself alone, but with no wish for sleep. Now Liu and his wife said to each other:

“It seems hard to leave the newly-wed bride alone for her first night under our roof. Would it not be better to tell Prudence to go and keep her company?”

As always, the father made certain objections which were not listened to. Prudence insisted, and soon mother and daughter went together to the new pavilion, and approached the bed, the curtains of which were drawn shut.

“Here is your sister-in-law come to spend the night with you....”

Yu-lang did not know what to say. He was afraid of being discovered, and held the curtains very tightly under his chin, as he put his head through the opening.

“I am accustomed to be alone,” he stammered. But the mother said:

“Aya! You are both of the same age, you are almost sisters. What are you afraid of? If you want to be particular, you have only to keep a blanket between you.”

During this time, Yu-lang was moved as much by fear as by delight. Was it not strangely fortunate that Prudence’s mother should herself have come and let her in this manner to his bed? But if the young girl should call out? On the other hand he thought:

“She is fifteen years old, therefore she has been ready for some time; the door of her emotions is ajar. If I take precaution and kindle her heart little by little, there is no need to fear that she will refuse to nibble at my hook.”

Now the wife of Liu had already retired, and Prudence had shot the bolt of the door. She was laughing all over the bright chrysanthemum of her face:

“Sister-in-law, you have taken no refreshment. Are you not hungry? If you wish for anything, tell me, and I will go and fetch it for you.”

“I am deeply grateful to my sister-in-law for her gentle thought.”

Prudence noticed that the wick of the lamp had not been trimmed, and was burning long, straight and red. So she exclaimed:

“That is for your happiness, sister-in-law!”

The other could not restrain a burst of laughter.

Prudence blushed and laughed also:

“You know how to be merry.”

So they talked together. At length the maiden, taking the flowers out of her hair, got upon the bed and knelt down to undress herself. He asked her:

“On which pillow would you like to sleep? The lower one?”

“As my sister-in-law wishes.”

“Then, if you please, let us sleep on the same.”

“Very well.”

Prudence had slipped under the blankets to finish undressing, and the boy did likewise, removing his upper garment. The lamp, placed on a little table beside the bed, dimly lit up the recess through the thin curtains.

His emotion began to rise, and he asked:

“How many flowering Springtides have you known?”

“Fifteen, this year.”

“Are you betrothed?”

But she was seized with unaccountable shyness, and dared not answer. He brought his lips close to the delicate ear lying beside him, and whispered:

“Why are you so bashful? We are only two women together.”

Very low, she answered him:

“I am betrothed to the son of P’ei, the druggist, and already they are urging that the ceremony should take place. Happily nothing is yet decided.”

“You are not very eager, then?”

She pushed his head gently away, saying:

“It is not nice of you to take hold of my words in this way, and to make fun of me. If I am not eager, you do not seem to be any more so than I.”

“And how do you know that, maiden? In any case, how could I be so when we are two women.”

“You speak to me as if you were my mother,” the other laughed.

“Considering my age, I should rather be your husband,” he thoughtlessly said.

She burst out laughing:

“It is I who am the husband, seeing that I took my brother’s place at the wedding.”

“Well, let us not argue, but rather act as if we were husband and wife.”

Thus both of them spoke words of meaning. They grew more and more passionate.

“Since we are husband and wife,” he said impatiently, “why do we not sleep under the same blanket?”

As he spoke, he pushed back the thick quilt, and began to observe the garment on the so sweet and smooth, so soft and graceful body. She had kept on an under garment, but her heart was filled with Springtime thoughts, and she offered no resistance to his eye.

Then, trembling with desire, he came to her breasts that had so lately dawned, and were so firm. Their tender points were red as a cock’s crest, and in all things lovable.

Delighted with this game, Prudence put out her hands to return his caresses, and also found his breasts. But there was nothing but quite a little button. She was astonished, and said to herself:

“She is as tall as I am. How comes it that she is not further developed?”

But by this time Yu-lang was holding her right in his arms, and had his lips glued to her, wantonly thrusting out his tongue. She continued the game by giving it a little nibble, and then thrust out her own tongue. This he so tenderly caressed with his that the girl’s body seemed all at once to melt, and she said languorously:

“This is no longer a game. We are truly husband and wife!”

The false bride, seeing that he had fully awakened the passion of his dupe, made answer:

“Not yet. We must take off our under garments.”

“But I am afraid lest people should talk. It is not good to take them off.”

He gave a nervous laugh and, without paying attention to her words, undid her girdle and took off her garment. As he advanced toward her, she protected herself with her two hands, saying:

“Sister-in-law, sister-in-law, you must not!”

But he kissed her again upon the lips.

“There is nothing to forbid it, little sister. You may caress me also.”

In her agitation, and so as not to seem too stupid, she took off his vest, and her timid little hand suddenly stopped short. Her surprise was such that, for a moment, she could not speak. But at last she said: “What man are you who dare to take my sister-in-law’s place?”

“I am your husband,” he answered hugging her to him.

She pushed him off, and said seriously:

“If you do not tell me in plain truth who you are, I shall cry and call out, and you will be sorry for that.”

“Do not be angry, little sister,” he replied. “I will tell you everything. I am Yu-lang, your sister-in-law’s elder brother. My parents heard that your brother was seriously ill, and did not wish my sister to leave our house; but since your parents would not alter the day of the marriage, I had to disguise myself and take my sister’s place, until your brother should be healed. I never expected that Heaven would, in its bounty, allow me to become your husband. But we alone must know of our love. Let us not betray it to any.”

Pressing forward again, he tried to bind her in his arms. Although she had believed she was with a woman, Prudence had loved him from the first; the feeling which she had mistaken for friendship quickly changed to that of love, for it was kindled, as was all of her, by the young man’s ardour. Nevertheless she was suffused with shame, and so wavered between one extremity and the other.

As for him, in the freshness of his still maiden youth he spoke to her of everlasting vows, of a love higher than the mountain and vaster than the sea, and of a marriage shaped from a boundless happiness. Her betrothed, her parents and her shame were all forgotten. She covered her face with her hand and resisted no longer.

When the cloud and the rain of their intoxication had been dispelled, they clasped each other close and went to sleep.

Meanwhile, the nurse, being in the secret of this disguise, had been much disturbed at seeing Prudence share the young man’s bed. From the adjoining room she had heard their laughter, and then their sighs, and had no further doubt of what had happened. And inwardly she cried: “Woe! Woe!”

In the morning, after Prudence had returned to her parents’ house to perform her toilet, the woman came in to wait upon Yu-lang, and said to him in a low voice:

“O practitioner! You have done a fine thing! What will happen if people come to know of it?”

“I did not search her out. Her mother led her to my bed. How could I have avoided this?”

“You ought to have resisted with all your might.”

“With such an adorably beautiful girl? Even a man of iron and stone could not have resisted. Also, if you say nothing, who will know of it?”

When the process of disguise was again completed, he went to salute the wife of Liu. Then all the women of the house and the cousins came to see him. Finally Prudence came in, and they two laughed together. For that day, as was the custom, Liu and his wife had invited their relations and friends, and there was a great feast, with music and a dinner lasting until the evening. Then, when the house was quiet again, the girl went, as on the previous night, to keep young Yu-lang company. That night, even more so than the preceding one, the butterflies beat their wings, and the passionate phoenixes were convulsed.

In the morning, they kept together. Therefore the scandalized nurse ran out and told everything to Sun said his wife, and they reeled with surprise and emotion.

“Alas, misfortune will certainly come of it! We must bring him back as soon as possible.”

They summoned the go-between and told her that, according to custom, on the third day after the marriage they wished to see their daughter at their house. She therefore went to the home of Liu, and the two lovers trembled when they heard of this request. But the wife of Liu had not forgotten the difficulties which Sun had made with regard to the marriage; and she was afraid of not seeing her daughter-in-law again. So she said:

“But my son is still suffering, and the marriage has not been altogether accomplished. We will speak of this again at some later time.”

This answer had to be sufficient. The nurse was in terror, and watched the approaches of the room all night for fear lest anybody should hear the rapturous exclamation of the lovers.

The days passed, and Virgin Diamond gradually grew better. Since he admired the beauty of his young wife, his desire to know her hastened his recovery, and the time came when he was able to get up. Still walking unsteadily, he went into the nuptial pavilion to see her who was his bride, and came before the door, supported by his attendants. The nurse was there, and cried out loud:

“My Lord wishes to enter!”

Yu-lang was, quite naturally, holding Prudence in his arms. He hastily released her, and went close to the door.

“You have succeeded in rising, my elder brother?” said Prudence. “You will fatigue yourself.”

“That is no matter,” he answered, making a deep obeisance before her whom he believed to be his wife.

“Ten thousand happinesses be with you!” Yu-lang graciously replied.

“What an exquisite pair!” cried the wife of Liu, proud of her son and happy at his fortune.

The false bride’s beauty was meanwhile strangely reviving the invalid’s vitality. And the other lad thought:

“He is a fine boy in spite of his illness: there is no need to pity my sister. But if he can get up, he will waste no time in coming to spend the night with me. I must depart as quickly as possible.”

When evening came, he explained his fears to Prudence.

“It is quite necessary to persuade your mother to send me back to my home, that I may change places with my sister. Everything will be discovered if we delay.”

“You wish to go? But what will become of me alone?”

“I have already thought of that. Alas. Alas! But we are both betrothed to another. What can we do?”

“If you do not want me living, I must die so that my soul may follow you.”

And she sobbed and sobbed. He dried her eyes saying to her:

“Do not meet trouble in this way, but leave me to find a plan.”

They clasped each other in their arms, shedding most bitter tears.

Now it must be said that the wife of Liu was a little wearied of seeing her daughter night and day inseparable from her sister-in-law. However, she said nothing, because the marriage was not actually accomplished. But passing before the marriage pavilion on that day, she heard a sobbing. She drew near noiselessly and, through a hole in the window paper, saw them close in each other’s arms and weeping.

“This is very odd,” she said.

She wished to make an outcry, but remembered that her son was just getting better, and would fall ill again from any sorrow. She gently tried to push the door open, but it was locked. She called out:

“It is strange that this door should be locked!”

The lovers recognized her voice, and made haste to dry their tears and open the door. She came in.

“Why do you lock yourselves in during full daylight, and groan and embrace each other?”

They felt the blood flow to their faces, and answered nothing. The mother’s hands and feet were trembling with rage. She seized hold of her daughter:

“You are playing some pretty trick. Let me talk to you a little.”

And she dragged her into an empty room. The attendants who saw her asked each other why the girl was being dragged along like that. But by this time the mother had locked the door. When the attendants came and looked through the holes in the paper, they saw her lifting a stick, and heard her crying:

“O wretch, tell me the truth, or I shall strike you! Why were you weeping?”

At first Prudence thought of denial. Then she said to herself that it would be better to confess and to beg her parents to break off her betrothal with the family of P’ei, so that they might marry her to Yu-lang. If they refused, she would die. That was all. So she told the whole matter without evasion.

“We are husband and wife. Our love is boundless, and our vows will endure for at least a hundred years. My brother is recovered, and we fear that we shall be separated. Yu-lang wishes to return to his parents, to send his sister in his place. It seemed, then, to your daughter that a woman cannot have two husbands, and that if Yu-lang cannot marry me, I must die.”

As she listened to her, her mother’s breast opened with rage, and she stamped her feet: “This rotten carrion has sent his son here and has deceived me. And now my daughter is lost. I must beat him unmercifully!”

She seized her stick, opened the door and ran forth. Her daughter, forgetting her shame, tried to prevent her; but the old woman pushed her away violently, so that she fell down. Prudence got up and ran after her. The attendants also ran.

Now Yu-lang had very well understood that all was discovered when Liu’s wife had dragged her daughter away. A moment later, the nurse hurried in.

“O my Gods! And, ah unhappiness! All is well lost! Prudence is being questioned with the stick.”

It seemed to him that two knives were piercing his heart. He burst out into sobbing. But the nurse was already taking out his hair-pins and clothing him as a man. In a state of stupor he let himself be hurried to the main door and through the streets. A few moments later he was back at his parents’ house.

His father did not fail to say to him:

“I told you to play the girl, not the man. Why have you committed acts of which Celestial Reason disapproves?”

Yu-lang jostled thus by his father and his mother, no longer knew where he stood. Meanwhile the nurse objected:

“But what can they say there? Our young Lord has only to keep himself hidden for a few days, and it will all pass over.”

But at Liu’s house the nurse, as she went away, had unwittingly locked the door, and Liu’s wife had come to it and was shaking it violently, stammering with rage and flourishing her stick.

“Thief, whom may Heaven strike dead! O very vile rascal! For what did you take me? I am going to show you who I am! I will have your life! If you do not open the door, I shall break it open with a great case.”

But naturally no one answered. Prudence tried in vain to stay her mother, who loaded her with insults; but at last, in her rage, she succeeded in breaking the lock, and rushed into the room with her stick uplifted. The cage was empty and the bird had flown. She knelt on all fours to look under the bed and under the furniture, crying out all the time:

“Thief, you shall die!”

But, as she was compelled to admit, there was no trace of the ravisher. Then Prudence said to her, sobbing meanwhile:

“And now, after this scandal, the P’ei family is let into the whole secret. I entreat you to have pity on me and let me marry Yu-lang. Otherwise, must I not die in order to redeem my shame?”

She fell on her knees, weeping and groaning.

“What you say is true,” answered her mother resuming some measure of calm. “After this wonderful affair, no one will want you.”

However, a mother’s love cannot be altogether restrained. She drew near to her daughter: “My poor child! All this is not your fault. It is that rotten carrion of a Sun who has caused it. But we cannot, of ourselves, break off the betrothal with P’ei.”

As Liu came up in the meantime, the matter had to be explained to him. He was nearly half a day without being able to speak, and it may be surmised that his first words were to throw the blame on his wife:

“The whole fault is yours! By making me say I do not know what, you arranged all this. Instead of altering the date as you should have done! And to crown all, you insisted upon placing our daughter in his arms! She has very well kept him company, has she not?”

His wife’s anger was not quite dead, and these remarks rekindled it. Her voice rolled out like thunder:

“You old tortoise!” she began....

But on this occasion he also was furious. He advanced, threatening to strike her. Prudence tried to come between them, and all three were nothing but a rolling, striking, shouting and weeping congeries. The servants then ran to inform Virgin Diamond who rose from his bed and unsteadily ran. His mother was moved with pity to see him, and his father also stopped his vituperation. They both went out muttering.

Virgin Diamond then asked his sister the cause of all this, and why his young wife was no longer there. She answered only with tears; but his mother, who had returned, told the whole story.

Virgin Diamond’s anger was so strong that his face became the color of the earth. However, he contained himself, saying:

“Let us not publish this family shame abroad. If the news spreads, everybody will laugh at us.”

As a matter of course, their mischievous neighbor, Li, had heard their shouting and weeping. He had quickly climbed on to his wall, but had been unable to understand what was happening. Next morning he watched for the first of the women slaves who came out, and drew her into his house. Fifty pieces of copper decided the girl to speak, and the delighted Li, letting her depart, ran to the house of P’ei, to whom he told all that he knew.

P’ei went straight to the house of Liu:

“I know all,” he cried. “Give back the gifts, and let no more be said.”

Liu’s face became red and white by turns. He thought:

“How does he already know what happened in my house but yesterday?”

Then he denied the matter:

“Kinsman, whence come these words with which you are trying to sully my family?”

“Miserable cheat!” cried the other, “you are in very truth an old tortoise.”

And he struck him on the face with his hand.

“Murderer!” cried Liu in a fury. “Do you dare to come to my house and insult me and strike me?”

And he struck P’ei such a violent blow that the old man fell to the ground. Then they began to belabor each other. Virgin Diamond and his mother, hearing their cries, ran up and separated them. Afterward P’ei, pointing with his finger and trembling, cried:

“You know how to strike, old tortoise! We shall see whether you are as clever in speaking before the judge.”

And he went out swearing. Liu exclaimed:

“It is all Sun’s fault. If I do not bring an action against them, they will even now escape entirely free.”

In spite of his son’s curses, he hurriedly set about writing an accusation, and ran to the Governor s palace.

The court was sitting, and Liu, holding his accusation, approached the judge. P’ei was already there, and reviled him as soon as he saw him. Liu retaliated, and the battle began anew.

At this interruption, the magistrate sternly ordered the two to kneel and explain themselves. Both spoke confusedly at the same time, but the whole story was none the less made clear. All those who were implicated in the matter were summoned, and they came to fall upon their knees.

At length the judge delivered sentence. All the former betrothals were annulled. Yu-lang became betrothed to her whom he had outraged. But the Sun family owed a compensation to the Liu family, which in its turn owed a bride to the P’ei family. So Pearl Sun was given to the son of P’ei, and Virgin Diamond was bestowed upon the former betrothed of Yu-lang. Having settled the affair, the Governor summoned three red palankeens and the three brides were conducted under escort to the homes of their new husbands. The town of Hang-chow talked of this affair for a long time, but in the end forgot it for some new scandal.

Hsing shih heng yen (1627)


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