Myths and Legends of China
Page: 178That same night preparations were made for the Page 413marriage; and the rooms and passages were filled with damsels who passed and repassed, filling the air with the sound of their dancing and music. They surrounded Ch’un-yü and kept up a constant fire of witty remarks, while he sat there overcome by their grace and beauty, unable to say a word. “Do you remember,” said one of them, coming up to Ch’un-yü, “the other day when with the Lady Ling-chi I was listening to the service in the courtyard of a temple, and while I, with all the other girls, was sitting on the window step, you came up to us, talking nonsense, and trying to get up a flirtation? Don’t you remember how we tied a handkerchief on the stem of a bamboo?” Then she continued: “Another time at a temple, when I threw down two gold hairpins and an ivory box as an offering, you asked the priest to let you look at the things, and after admiring them for a long time you turned toward me, and said that neither the gifts nor the donor were of this world; and you wanted to know my name, and where I lived, but I wouldn’t tell you; and then you gazed on me so tenderly, and could not take your eyes off me. You remember this, without doubt?” “I have ever treasured the recollection in my heart; how could I possibly forget it?” was Ch’un-yü’s reply, whereat all the maidens exclaimed that they had never expected to see him in their midst on this joyful occasion.
At this moment three men came up to Ch’un-yü and stated that they had been appointed his ministers. He stepped up to one of them and asked him if his name was not Tzŭ-hua. “It is,” was the reply; whereupon Ch’un-yü, taking him by the hands, recalled to him their old friendship, and questioned him as to how he had found his way to this spot. He then proceeded to ask him if Chou-pien was also here. “He is,” replied the other, Page 414“and holding very high office; he has often used his influence on my behalf.”
As they were talking, Ch’un-yü was summoned to the palace, and as he passed within, a curtain in front of him was drawn aside, disclosing a young girl of about fourteen years of age. She was known as the Princess of the Golden Stem, and her dazzling beauty was well in keeping with her matchless grace.
He writes to his Father
The marriage was celebrated with all magnificence, and the young couple grew fonder from day to day. Their establishment was kept up in princely style, their principal amusement being the chase, the King himself frequently inviting Ch’un-yü to join him in hunting expeditions to the Tortoise-back Hill. As they were returning one day from one of these excursions, Ch’un-yü said to the King: “On my marriage day your Majesty told me that it was my father’s desire that I should espouse your daughter. My father was worsted in battle on the frontier, and for seventeen years we have had no news of him. If your Majesty knows his whereabouts, I would beg permission to go and see him.”