Regretting in her proud spirit that fates had placed her in a profession where she was expected to entertain the nobility whether it suited her or not, the girl combed and arranged her hair, tightened her sash, smoothed her disordered clothes, and prepared to look as any vain woman would wish who was about to be presented to the handsomest and most gifted young nobleman of the province. She followed the servant slowly till they reached Toh Ry-ung's stopping place. She waited while the servant announced her arrival, for a gee sang must not enter a nobleman's presence unbidden. Toh Ryung was too excited to invite her in, however, and his servant had to prompt him, when, laughing at his own agitation, he pleasantly bade her enter and sit down.
"What is your name?" asked he.
"My name is Chun Yang Ye," she said, with a voice that resembled silver jingling in a pouch.
"How old are you?"
"My age is just twice eight years."
"Ah ha!" laughed the now composed boy, "how fortunate; yon are twice eight, and I am four fours. We are of the same age, Your name, Fragrant Spring, is the same as your face - very beautiful. Your cheeks are like the petals of the mah hah that ushers in the soft spring. Your eyes are like those of the eagle sitting on the ancient tree, but soft and gentle as the moonlight," ran on the enraptured youth. "When is your birthday?"
"My birthday occurs at midnight on the eighth day of the fourth moon," modestly replied the flattered girl, who was quickly succumbing to the charms of the ardent and handsome young fellow, whose heart she could see was already her own.
"ls it possible?" exclaimed he; "that is the date of the lantern festival, and it is also my own birthday, only I was born at eleven instead of twelve. I am sorry I was not born at twelve now. But it does n't matter. Surely the gods had some motive in sending us into the world at the same time, and thus bringing us together at our sixteenth spring-tide. Heaven must have intended us to be man and wife"; and he bade her sit still as she started as though to take her departure. Then he began to plead with her, pacing the room in his excitement, till his attendant likened the sound to the combat of ancient warriors. "This chance meeting of ours has a meaning," he argued. "Often when the buds were bursting, or when the forest trees were turning to fire and blood, have I played and supped with pretty gee sang, watched them dance, and wrote them verses, but never before have I lost my heart; never before have I seen any one so incomparably beautiful. You are no common mortal. You were destined to be my wife; you must be mine, you must marry me."
She wrinkled her fair brow and thought, for she was no silly, foolish thing, and while her heart was almost, if not quite won by this tempestuous lover, yet she saw where his blind love would not let him see. "You know," she said, "the son of a nobleman may not marry a gee sang without the consent of his parents. I know I am a gee sang by Dame, the fates have so ordained, but, nevertheless, I am an honorable woman, always have been, and expect to remain so."
"Certainly," he answered, "we cannot celebrate the ' six customs ceremony' (parental arrangements, exchange of letters, contracts, exchange of presents, preliminary visits, ceremony proper), but we can be privately married just the same."
"No, it cannot be. Your father would not consent, and should we be privately married, and your father be ordered to duty at some other place, you would not dare take me with you. Then you would many the daughter of some nobleman, and I would be forgotten. It must not, cannot be," and she arose to depart. "Stay, stay," he begged. "You do me an injustice. I will never forsake you, or marry another. I swear it. And a yang ban (noble) has but one mouth, he cannot speak two ways. Even should we leave this place I will take you with me, or return soon to you. You must not refuse me."
"But suppose you change your mind or forget your promises; words fly out of the mouth and are soon lost, ink and paper are more lasting ; give me your promises in writing," she says.
Instantly the young man took up paper and brush; having rubbed the ink well, he wrote: "A memorandum. Desiring to enjoy the spring scenery, I came to Kang Hal Loo. There I saw for the first time my heaven-sent bride. Meeting for the first time, I pledge myself for one hundred years ; to be her faithful husband. Should I change, show this paper to the magistrate."
Folding up the manuscript with care he handed it to her. While putting it into her pocket she said: "Speech has no legs, yet it can travel many thousands of miles. Suppose this matter should reach your father's ears, what would you do?"
"Never fear; my father was once young, who knows but I may be following the example of his early days. I have contracted with you, and we now are married, even my father cannot change it. Should he discover our alliance and disown me, I will still be yours, and together we shall live and die."
She arose to go, and pointing with her jadelike hand to a clump of bamboos, said: "There is my house; as I cannot come to you, you must come to me and make my mother's house your home, as much as your duty to your parents will allow."
As the sun began to burn red above the mountains' peaks, they bade each other a fond adieu, and each departed for home accompanied by their respective attendants.
Ye Toh Ryung went to his room, which now seemed a prison-like place instead of the pleasant study he had found it. He took up a book, but reading was no satisfaction, every word seemed to transform itself into Chun or Yang. Every thought was of the little maid of the spring fragrance. He changed his books, but it was no use, he could not even keep them right side up, not to mention using them properly. Instead of singing off his lessons as usual, he kept singing, Chun Yang Ye poh go sip so (I want to see the spring fragrance), till his father, hearing the confused sounds, sent to ascertain what was the matter with his son. The boy was singing, "As the parched earth cries for rain after the seven years1 drought, so my heart pants for my Chun Yang Ye, whose face to me is like the rays of the sun upon the earth after a nine years' rain." He paid no heed to the servants, and soon his father sent his private secretary, demanding what it was the boy desired so much that he should keep singiug. "I want to see, I want to see." Toh Ryung answered that he was reading an uninteresting book, and looking for another. Though he remained more quiet after this, he still was all impatience to be off to his sweetheart-wife, and calling his attendant, he sent him out to see how near the sun was to setting. Enjoying the sport, the man returned, saying the sun was now high over head.
"Begone," said he, "can any one hold back the sun; it had reached the mountain tops before I came home."