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Myths and Legends of China

Page: 95

General Prosperity

All the people were loud in praise of the beauty and strength of the newly built city. Merchants from every province hastened to Peking, attracted by the news they heard of its magnificence and the prospect there was of profitably disposing of their wares. In short, the people were prosperous and happy, food was plentiful, Page 232the troops brave, the monarch just, his ministers virtuous, and all enjoyed the blessings of peace.

A Drought and its Cause

While everything was thus tranquil, a sudden and untoward event occurred which spread dismay and consternation on all sides. One day when the Prince went into the hall of audience one of his ministers reported that “the wells are thirsty and the rivers dried up”—there was no water, and the people were all in the greatest alarm. The Prince at once called his counsellors together to devise some means of remedying this disaster and causing the water to return to the wells and springs, but no one could suggest a suitable plan.

It is necessary to explain the cause of this scarcity of water. There was a dragon’s cave outside the east gate of the city at a place called Lei-chên K’ou, ‘Thunder-clap Mouth’ or ‘Pass’ (the name of a village). The dragon had not been seen for myriads of years, yet it was well known that he lived there.

In digging out the earth to build the wall the workmen had broken into this dragon’s cave, little thinking of the consequences which would result. The dragon was exceedingly wroth and determined to shift his abode, but the she-dragon said: “We have lived here thousands of years, and shall we suffer the Prince of Yen to drive us forth thus? If we do go we will collect all the water, place it in our yin-yang baskets [used for drawing water], and at midnight we will appear in a dream to the Prince, requesting permission to retire. If he gives us permission to do so, and allows us also to take our baskets of water with us, he will fall into our trap, for we shall take the waler with his own consent,” Page 233


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