When Sim Chung regained her consciousness she was seated in a little boat drawn by fishes, and pretty maidens were giving her to drink from a carved jade bottle. She asked them who they were, and where she was going. They answered: "We are servants of the King of the Sea, and we are taking you to his palace."
Sim Chung wondered if this was death, and thought it very pleasant if it were. They passed through forests of waving plants, and saw great lazy fish feeding about in the water, till at last they reached the confines of the palace. Her amazement was then unbounded, for the massive walls were composed of precious stones, such as she had only heretofore seen used as ornaments. Pearls were used to cover the heads of nails in the great doors through which they passed, and everywhere there seemed a most costly and lavish display of the precious gems and metals, while the walks were made of polished black marble that shone in the water. The light, as it passed through the water, seemed to form most beautifully colored clouds, and the rainbow colors were everywhere disporting themselves.
Soon a mighty noise was heard, and they moved aside, while the King passed by preceded by an army with gayly colored and beautifully embroidered satin banners, each bearer blowing on an enormous shell. The King was borne in a golden chair on the shoulders of one hundred men, followed by one hundred musicians and as many more beautiful "dancing girls," with wonderful head-dresses and rich costumes.
Sim Chung objected to going before such an august king, but she was assured of kind treatment, and, after being properly dressed by the sea maids, in garments suitable for the palace of the Sea King, she was borne in a chair on the shoulders of eunuchs to the King's apartments. The King treated her with great respect, and all the maidens and eunuchs bowed before her. She protested that she was not worthy of such attention. "I am," she said, "but the daughter of a beggar, for whom 1 thought I was giving my life when rescued by these maidens. I am in no way worthy of your respect."
The King smiled a little, and said: Ah! I know more of you than you know of yourself. You must know that I am the Sea King, and that we know full well the doings of the stars which .shine in the heaven above, for they continually visit us on light evenings. Well, you were once a star. Many say a beautiful one, for you had many admirers. You favored one star more than the others, and, in your attentions to him, you abused your office as cup-bearer to the King of Heaven, and let your lover have free access to all of the choice wines of the palace. In this way, before you were aware of it, the peculiar and choice brands that the King especially liked were consumed, and, upon examination, your fault became known. As punishment, the King decided to banish you to earth, but fearing to send you both at once, lest you might be drawn together there, he sent your lover first, and after keeping you in prison for a long time, you were sent as daughter to your farmer lover. He is the man you claim as father. Heaven has seen your filial piety, how-ever, and repents. You will be hereafter most highly favored, as a reward for your dutiful conduct. He then sent her to fine apartments prepared for her, where she was to rest and recuperate before going back to earth.
After a due period of waiting and feasting on royal food, Sim Chung's beauty was more than restored. She had developed into a complete woman, and her beauty was dazzling; her cheeks seemed colored by the beautiful tints of the waters through which she moved with ease and comfort, while her mind blossomed forth like a flower in the rare society of the Sea King and his peculiarly gifted people.
When the proper time arrived for her. departure for the world she had left, a large and beautiful flower was brought into her chamber. It was so arranged that Sim Chung could conceal herself inside of it, while the delicious perfume and the juice of the plant were ample nourishment. When she had bidden good-fey to her peculiar friends and taken her place inside the flower, it was conveyed to the surface of the sea, at the place where she had plunged in. She had not waited long in this strange position before a boat bore in eight. It proved to be the vessel of her friend the merchant. As he drew near his old place of danger he marvelled much at sight of such a beautiful plant, growing and blossoming in such a strange place, where once only evil was to be expected. He was also well-nigh intoxicated by the powerful perfume exhaled from the plant. Steering close he managed to secure the flower and place it safely in his boat, congratulating himself on securing so valuable and curious a present for his King. For he decided at once to present it at the palace if he could succeed in getting it safely there.
The plan succeeded, the strange plant with its stranger tenant was duly presented to His Majesty, who was delighted with the gift, and spent his time gazing upon it to the exclusion of state business. He had a glass house prepared for it in an inner court, and seemed never to tire of watching his new treasure.
At night, when all was quiet, Sim Chung was wont to come forth and rest herself by walking in the moonlight. But, on one occasion, the King, being indisposed and restless, thought he would go to breathe the rich perfume of the strange flower and rest himself. In this way he chanced to see Sim Chung before she could conceal herself, and, of course, his surprise was unbounded. He accosted her, not without fear, demanding who she might be. She, being also afraid, took refuge in her flower, when, to the amazement of both, the flower vanished, leaving her standing alone where it had been but a moment before. The King was about to flee, at this point, but she called to him not to fear, that she was but a human being, and no spirit as he doubtless supposed. The King drew near, and was at once lost in admiration of her matchless beauty, when a great noise was heard outside, and eunuchs came, stating that all the generals with the heads of departments were asking for an audience on very important business. His Majesty very reluctantly went to see what it all meant. An officer versed in astronomy stated that they had, on the previous night, observed a brilliant star descend from heaven and alight upon the palace, and that they believed it boded good to the royal family. Then the King told of the flower, and the wonderful apparition he had seen in the divine maiden. It so happened that the queen was deceased, and it was soon decided that the King should take this remarkable maiden for his wife. The marriage was annouticed, and preparations all made. As the lady was without parents, supposably, the ceremony took place at the royal wedding hall, and was an occasion of great state.
Never was man more charmed by woman than in this case. The King would not leave her by day or night, and the business of state was almost totally neglected. At last Sim Chung chided her husband, telling him it was not manly for the King to spend all his time in the women's quarters; that if he cared so little for the rule as to neglect it altogether, others might find occasion to usurp his place. She enjoined upon him the necessity of giving the days to his business, and being content to spend the nights with her. He saw her wisdom, and remarked upon it, promising to abide by her advice-After some time spent in such luxury, Sim Chung became lonely and mourned for her poor father, but despaired of being able to see him. She knew not if he were alive or dead, and the more she thought of it the more she mourned, till tears were in her heart continually, and not infrequently overflowed from her beautiful eyes. The King chanced to see her weeping, and was solicitous to know the cause of her sorrow, whereupon she answered that she was oppressed by a strange dream concerning a poor blind man, and was desirous of alleviating in some way the sufferings of the many blind men in the country. Again the King marvelled at her great heart, and offered to do any thing towards carrying out her noble purpose. Together they agreed that they would summon all the blind men of the country to a great feast, at which they should be properly clothed, amply fed, and treated each to a present of cash.
The edict was issued, and on the day appointed for the feast, the Queen secreted herself in a pavilion, from which she could look down and fully observe the strange assemble. watched the first day, but saw no one who resembled her lost parent; again the second day she held her earnest vigil, but in vain. She was about to give up her quest as useless and mourn over the loss of her father, when, as the feast was closing on the third day, a feeble old man in rags came tottering up. The attendants, having served so many, were treating this poor fellow with neglect, and were about to drive him away as too late when the Queen ordered them whipped and the old man properly fed.
He seemed well-nigh starved, and grasped at the food set before him with the eagerness of an animal. There seemed to be something about this forlorn creature that arrested and engaged the attention of the Queen, and the attendants, noticing this, were careful to clothe him with extra care. When sufficient time had elapsed for the satisfying of his hunger, he was ordered brought to the Queen's pavilion, where Her Majesty scrutinized him closely for a few mo-meats, and then, to the surprise and dismay of all her attendants, she screamed: "My father! my father!" and fell at his feet senseless. Her maids hurried off to tell the King of the strange conduct of their mistress, and he came to see for himself. By rubbing her limbs and applying strong-smelling medicines to her nostrils, the fainting Queen was restored to consciousness, and allowed to tell her peculiar and interesting story. The King had heard much of it previously. But the poor old blind man could barely collect his senses sufficiently to grasp the situation. As the full truth began to dawn upon him, he cried: "Oh ! my child, can the dead come back to us? I hear your voice; I feel your form; but how can I know it is you, for I have no eyes? Away with these sightless orbs!" And he tore at his eyes with his nails, when to his utter amazement and joy, the. scales fell away, and he stood rejoicing in his sight once more.
His Majesty was overjoyed to have his lovely Queen restored to her wonted happy frame of mind. He made the old man an officer of high rank, appointed him a fine house, and had him married to the accomplished daughter of an officer of suitable rank, thereby fulfilliug the last of the prophecy of both the aged priest and the King of the Sea.