II

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 Tab 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 bouse, and sitting in the moonlight on a clean plat of ground, free from the litter of the domestic animals, she was gazing into the Leavens, hoping to witness the meeting of Ching Yuh and Kyain Oo, and feeling sad at thought of their fabled tribulations. While thus esgaged 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 have n'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; wou'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, it is 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 neigh-bore 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 Mm 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 Uhu 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.