She passed the night in bowing before Heaven and calling on the gods and her husband to release her, and in the morning when her mother came, she answered the latter's inquiries as to whether she was alive or not, in a feeble voice which alarmed her parent.
"I am still alive, but surely dying. I can never see my Toh Ryung again; but when I am dead you must take my body to Seoul and bury it near the road over which he travels the most, that even in death I may be near him, though separated in life." Again the mother scolded her for her devotion and for making the contract that binds her strongly to such a man. She could stand it no longer, and begged her mother that she would go away and come to see her no more if she had no pleasanter speech than such to make. "I followed the dictates of my heart and my mind. I did what was right. Can I foretell the future ? Because the sun shines to-day are we assured that tomorrow it will shine? The deed is done. I do not regret it; leave me to my grief, but do not add to it by your unkindness."
Thus the days lengthened into months, but she seemed like one dead, and took no thought of time or its flight. She was really ill, and would have died but for the kindness of the jailer. At last one night she dreamed that she was in her own room, dressing, and using the little mirror Toh Ryung had given her, when, without apparent cause, it suddenly broke in halves. She awoke, startled, and felt sure that death was now to liberate her from her sorrows, for what other meaning could the strange occurrence have than that her body was thus to be broken. Although anxious to die and be free, she could not bear the thought of leaving this world without a last look at her loved husband whose hands alone could close her eyes when her spirit had departed. Pondering much upon the dream, she called the jailer and asked him to summon a blind man, as she wished her fortune told. The jailer did so. It was no trouble, for almost as she spoke they heard one picking his way along the street with his long stick, and uttering his peculiar call. He came in and sat down, when they soon discovered that they were friends, for before the man became blind he had been in comfortable circumstances, and had known her father intimately. She therefore asked him to be to her as a kind father, and faithfully tell her when and how death would come to her. He said: "When the blossoms fade and full they do not die, their life simply enters the seed to bloom again. Death to you would but liberate your spirit to shine again in a fairer body."
She- thanked him for his kind generalities, but was impatient, and telling her dream, she begged a careful interpretation of it. He promptly answered,.that to be an ill omen a mirror in breaking must make a noise. And on further questioning, he found that in her dream a bird had flown into the room just as the mirror was breaking.
"I see," said he. "The bird was bearer of good news, and the breaking of the mirror, which Toh Ryimg gave you, indicates that the news concerned him; let us see." Thereupon he arranged a bunch of sticks, shook them well, while uttering his chant, and threw them upon the floor. Then he soon answered that the news was good. "Your husband has done well. He has passed his examinations, been promoted, and will soon come to you."
She was too happy to believe it, thinking the old man had made it up to please his old friend's distressed child. Yet she cherished the dream and the interpretation in her breast, finding in it solace to her weary, troubled heart.
In the meantime Ye Toh Ryung had continued his studious work day and night, to the anxiety of his parents. Just as he began to feel well prepared for the contest he awaited, a royal proclamation announced, that owing to the fact that peace reigned throughout the whole country, that the closing year had been one of prosperity, and no national calamity had befallen the country, His Gracious Majesty had ordered a grand guaga, or competitive examination, to be held. As soon as it became known, literary pilgrims began to pour in from all parts of the country, bent on improving their condition.
The day of the examination found a vast host seated on the grass in front of the pavilion where His Majesty and his officers were. Ye Toh Ryung was given as a subject for his composition, "A lad playing in the shade of a pine tree is qustioned by an aged wayfarer."
The young man long rubbed his ink-stick on the stone, thinking very intently meanwhile, but when he began to write in the beautiful characters for which he was noted he seemed inspired, and the composition rolled forth as though he had committed it from the ancient classics. He made the boy express such sentiments of reverence to age as would have charmed the ancients, and the wisdom he put into the conversation was worthy of a king. The matter came so freely that his task was soon finished; in fact many were still wrinkling their brows in preliminary thought, while he was carefully folding up his paper, concealing his name so that the author should not be recognized till the paper had been judged on its merits. He tossed his composition into the pen, and it was at once inspected, being the first one, and remarkably quickly done. When His Majesty heard it read, and saw the perfect characters, he was astonished. Such excellence in writing, composition, and sentiment was unparalleled, and before any other papers were received it was known that none could excel this one. The writer's name was ascertained, and the King was delighted to learn that 't was the son of his favorite officer. The young man was sent for, and received the congratulations of his King. The latter gave him the usual three glasses of wine, which he drank with modesty. He was then given a wreath of flowers from the King's own hands; the court hat was presented to him, with lateral wings, denoting the rapidity - as the flight of a bird - with which he must execute his Sovereign's commands. Richly embroidered breast-plates were given him, to be worn over the front and back of his court robes. He then went forth, riding on a gayly caparisoned horse, preceded by a band of palace musicians and attendants. Everywhere he was greeted with the cheers of the populace, as for three days he devoted his time to this public display. This duty having been fulfilled, he devotedly went to the graves of his ancestors, and prostrated himself with offerings before them, bemoaning the fact that they could not be present to rejoice in his success. He then presented himself before his King, humbly thanking him for his gracious condescension in bestowing such great honors upon one so utterly unworthy.