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Myths and Legends of China

Page: 161

At Chin-ling there lived a young man named Ku, who had considerable ability, but was very poor; and having an old mother, he was very loth to leave home. So he employed himself in writing or painting7 for people, and gave his mother the proceeds, going on thus till he was twenty-five years of age without taking a wife. Opposite to their house was another building, which had long been untenanted; and one day an old woman and a young girl came to occupy it, but there being no gentleman with them young Ku did not make any inquiries as to who they were or whence they hailed. Shortly afterward it chanced that just as Ku was entering the house he observed a young lady come out of his mother’s door. She was about eighteen or nineteen, very clever and refined-looking, and altogether such a girl as one rarely sets eyes on; and when she noticed Mr Ku she did not run away, but seemed quite self-possessed. “It was the young lady over the way; she came to borrow my scissors and measure,” said his mother, “and she told me that there is only her mother and herself. They don’t seem to belong to the lower classes. I asked her why she didn’t get married, to which she replied that her mother was old. I must go and call on Page 377her to-morrow, and find out how the land lies. If she doesn’t expect too much, you could take care of her mother for her.” So next day Ku’s mother went, and found that the girl’s mother was deaf, and that they were evidently poor, apparently not having a day’s food in the house. Ku’s mother asked what their employment was, and the old lady said they trusted for food to her daughter’s ten fingers. She then threw out some hints about uniting the two families, to which the old lady seemed to agree; but, on consultation with her daughter, the latter would not consent. Mrs Ku returned home and told her son, saying, “Perhaps she thinks we are too poor. She doesn’t speak or laugh, is very nice-looking, and as pure as snow; truly no ordinary girl.” There ended that; until one day, as Ku was sitting in his study, up came a very agreeable young fellow, who said he was from a neighbouring village, and engaged Ku to draw a picture for him. The two youths soon struck up a firm

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