The Ussa called to her, and she recognized the voice. "I surely must be dreaming again," she said, as she tried to arise; but she had the huge neck-encircling board upon her shoulders that marked the latest of her tormentor's acts of oppression, and could not get up. Stung by the pain and the calmness of her lover's voice, she sarcastically asked: "Why have you not come to me? Have you been so busy in official life? Have the rivers been so deep and rapid that you dared not cross them? Did you go so far away that it has required all this time to retrace your steps?" And then, regretting her harsh words, she said: "I cannot tell my rapture. I had expected to have to go to Heaven to meet you, and now you are here. Get them to unbind my feet, and remove this yoke from my neck, that I may come to you."
He came to the little window through which food is passed, and looked upon her. As she saw his face and garb, she moaned: "Oh, what have we done to be so afflicted? You cannot help me now; we must die. Heaven has deserted us."
"Yes," he answered; "granting I am poor, yet should we not he happy in our reunion. I Lave come as I promised, and we will yet be happy. Do yourself no injury, but trust to me."
She called her mother, who sneeringly inquired of what service she could be, now that the longed-for husband had returned in answer to her prayers. She paid no attention to these cruel words, but told her mother of certain jewels she had concealed in a case in her room. "Sell these," she said, "and buy some food and raiment for my husband; take him home and care for him well. Have him sleep on my couch, and do not reproach him for what he cannot help."
He went with the old woman, but soon left to confer with his attendants, who informed him that the next day was the birthday of the Magistrate, and that great preparations were being made for the celebration that would commence early. A great feast, when wine would flow like water, was to take place in the morning. The gee sang from the whole district were to perform for the assembled guests; bands of music were practising for the occasion, and the whole bade fair to be a great, riotous debauch, which would afford the Ussa just the opportunity the consummation of his plans awaited.
Early the next morning the disguised Ussa presented himself at the yamen gate, where the servants jeered at him, telling him: "This is no beggars' feast," and driving him away. He hung around the street, however, listening to the music inside, and finally he made another attempt, which was more successful than the first, for the servants, thinking him crazy, tried to restrain him, when, in the melee, he made a passage and rushed through the inner gate into the court off the reception hall. The annoyed host, red with wine, ordered him at once ejected and the gatemen whipped. His order was promptly obeyed, but Ye did not leave the place. He found a break in the outside wall, through which he climbed, and again presented himself before the feasters. While the Prefect was too blind with rage to be able to speak, the stranger said: "I am a beggar, give me food and drink that I, too, may enjoy myself." The guests laughed at the man's presumption, and thinking him crazy, they urged their host to humor him for their entertainment. To which he finally consented, and, sending him some food and wine, bade him stay in a corner and eat.
To the surprise of all, the fellow seemed still discontented, for he claimed that, as the other guests each had a fair gee sang to sing a wine song while they drank, he should be treated likewise. This amused the guests immensely, and they got the master to send one. The girl went with a poor grace, however, saying: "One would think from the looks of you that your poor throat would open to the wine without a song to oil it," and sang him a song that wished him speedy death instead of long life.
After submitting to their taunts for some time, he said, "I thank you for your food and wine and the graciousness of my reception, in return for which I will amuse you by writing you some verses"; and, taking pencil and paper, he wrote: "The oil that enriches the food of the official is but the life blood of the downtrodden people, whose tears are of no more merit in the eyes of the oppressor than the drippings of a burning candle."
When this was read, a troubled look passed over all; the guests shook their heads and assured their host that it meant ill to him. And each began to make excuses, saying that one and another engagement of importance called them hence. The host laughed and bade them be seated, while he ordered attendants to take the intruder and cast him into prison for his impudence. They came to do so, but the Ussa took out his official seal, giving the preconcerted signal meanwhile, which summoned his ready followers. At sight of the King's seal terror blanched the faces of each of the half-drunken men. The wicked host tried to crawl under the house and escape, but he was at once caught and bound with chains. One of the guests in fleeing through an attic-way caught his top-not of hair in a rat-hole, and stood for some time yelling for mercy, supposing that his captors had him. It was as though an earthquake had shaken the house; all was the wildest confusion.
The Ussa put on decent clothes and gave his orders in a calm manner. He sent the Magistrate to the capital at once, and began to look further into the affairs of the office. Soon, however, he sent a chair for Chun Yang Ye, delegating his own servants, and commanding them not to explain what had happened. She supposed that the Magistrate, full of wine, had sent for her, intending to kill her, and she begged the amused servants to call her Toh Ryung to come and stay with her. They assured her that he could not come, as already he too was at the yamen, and she feared that harm had befallen him on her account.
They removed her shackles and bore her to the yamen, where the Ussa addressed her in a changed voice, commanding her to look up and answer her charges. She refused to look up or speak, feeling that the sooner death came the better. Failing in this way, he then asked her in his own voice to just glance at him. Surprised she looked up, and her dazed eyes saw her lover standing there in his proper guise, and with a delighted cry she tried to run to him, but fainted in the attempt, and was borne in his arms to a room. Just then the old woman, coming along with food, which she had brought as a last service to her daughter, heard the good news from the excited throng outside, and dashing away her dishes and their contents, she tore around for joy, crying: "What a delightful birthday surprise for a cruel magistrate!"
All the people rejoiced with the daughter, but no one seemed to think the old mother deserved such good fortune. The Ussa's conduct was approved at court. A new magistrate was appointed. The marriage was publicly solemnized at Seoul, and the Ussa was raised to a high position, in which he was just to the people, who loved him for his virtues, while the country rang with the praises of his faithful wife, who became the mother of many children.