He took her, and laying her head on his breast, tried to soothe her. "Don't cry so bitterly," he begged; "my heart is almost broken now. I cannot bear it. I wish it could always be spring-time; but this is only like the cruel winter that, lingering in the mountain, sometimes sweeps down the valley, drives out the spring, and kills the blossoms. We will not give up and die, though. We have contracted for one hundred years, and this will be but a bitter separation that will make our speedy reunion more blissful."
"Oh," she says, "but how can I live here alone, with you in Seoul? Just think of the long, tedious summer days, the long and lonely winter nights. I must see no one. I cannot know of you, for who will tell me, and how am I to endure it?"
"Had not my father been given this great honor, we would perhaps not have been parted; as it is I must go, there is no help for it, but you must believe me when I promise 1 will come again. Here, take this crystal mirror as a pledge that I will keep my word"; and he gave her his pocket-mirror of rock crystal.
"Promise me when you will return," said she; and then, without awaiting an answer, she sang: "When the sear and withered trunk begins to bloom, and the dead bird sings in the branches, then my lover will come to me. When the river flows over the eastern mountains, then may I see him glide along in his ship to me."
He chided her for her lack of faith, and assured her again it was as hard for one as the other. After a time she became more reconciled, and taking off her jade ring, gave it to him for a keepsake, saying: "My love, like this ring, knows no end. You must go, alas! but my love will go with you, and may it protect you when crossing wild mountains and distant rivers, and bring you again safely to me. If you go to Seoul, you must not trifle, but take your books, study hard, and enter the examinations, then, perhaps, you may obtain rank and come to me. I will stand with my hand shading my eyes, ever watching for your return."
Promising to cherish her speech, with her image in his breast, they made their final adieu, and tore apart.
The long journey seemed like a funeral to the lover. Everywhere her image rose before him.
He could think of nothing else; but by the time he arrived at the capital he had made up his mind as to his future course, and from that day forth his parents wondered at his stern, determined manner. He shut himself up in his room with his books. He would neither go out, or form acquaintances among the young noblemen of the gay city. Thus he spent months in hard study, taking no note of passing events.
In the meantime a new magistrate came to Nam Won. He was a hard-faced, hard-hearted politician. He associated with the dissolute, and devoted himself to riotous living, instead of caring for the welfare of the people. He had not been long in the place till he had heard so much of the matchless beauty of Chun Yang Ye that he determined to see, and if, as reported, many her. Accordingly he called the clerk of the yamen, and asked concerning "the beautiful gee sang Chun Yang Ye." The clerk answered that such a name had appeared 00 the records of the dancing girls, but that it had been removed, as she had contracted a marriage with the son of the previous magistrate, and was now a lady of position and respectability.
"You lying rascal!" yelled the enraged officer, who could ill brook any interference with plans he had formed. "A nobleman's son cannot really marry a dancing girl; leave my presence at once, and summon this remarkable 'lady' to appear before me." The clerk could only do as he was bidden, and, summoning the yamen runners, he sent to the house of Chun Yang Ye to acquaint her with the official order.
The runners, being natives of the locality, were loath to do as commanded, and when the fair young woman gave them "wine money" they willingly agreed to report her "too sick to attend the court." Upon doing so, however, the wrath of their master came down upon them. They were well beaten, and then commanded to go with a chair and bring the woman, sick or well, while if they disobeyed him a second time they would be put to death.
Of course they went, but after they had explained to Chun Yang Ye their treatment, her beauty and concern for their safety so affected them, that they offered to go back without her, and face their doom. She would not hear to their being sacrificed for her sake, and prepared to accompany them. She disordered her hair, soiled her fair face, and clad herself in dingy, ill-fitting gowns, which, however, seemed only to cause her natural beauty the more to shine forth. She wept bitterly on entering the yamen, which fired the auger of the official. He ordered her to stop her crying or be beaten, and then as he looked at her disordered and tear-stained face, that resembled choice jade spattered with mud, he found that her beauty was not overstated.
"What does your conduct mean?" said he. "Why have you not presented yourself at this office with the other gee sang?"
"Because, though born a gee sang, I am by marriage a lady, and not subject to the rules of my former profession," she answered.
"Hush!" roared the Prefect. "No more of this nonsense. Present yourself here with the other gee sang, or pay the penalty."
"Never" she bravely cried. "A thousand deaths first. You have no right to exact such a thing of me. You are the King's servant, and should see that the laws are executed, rather than violated."
The man was fairly beside himself with wrath at this, and ordered her chained and thrown into prison at once. The people all wept with her, which but increased her oppressor's anger, and calling the jailer he ordered him to treat her with especial rigor, and be extra vigilant lest some sympathizers should assist her to escape. The jailer promised, but nevertheless he made things as easy for her as was possible under the circumstances. Her mother came and moaned over her daughter's condition, declaring that she was foolish in clinging to her faithless husband, who had brought all this trouble upon them. The neighbors, however, upbraided the old woman for her words, and assured the daughter that she had done just right, and would yet he rewarded. They brought presents of food, and endeavored to make her condition slightly less miserable by their attentions.