In the city of Nam Won, in Chull Lah Do (the southern province of Korea), lived the Prefect Ye Tung Uhi. He was the happy father of a son of some sixteen years of age. Being an only child the boy was naturally much petted. He was not an ordinary young man, however, for in addition to a handsome, manly face and stalwart figure, he possessed a bright, quick mind, and was naturally clever. A more dutiful son could not be found. He occupied a house in the rear of bis father's quarters, and devoted himself to his books, going regularly each evening to make his obeisance to his father, and express his wish that pleasant, refreshing sleep might come to him; then, in the morning, before breakfasting, he was wont to go and enquire how the new day had found his father.
The Prefect was but recently appointed to rule over the Nam Won district when the events about to be recorded occurred. The winter months had been spent mostly indoors, but as the mild spring weather approached and the buds began to open to the singing of the joyful birds, Ye Toh Ryung, or Toh Ryung, the son, felt that he must get out and enjoy nature. Like an animal that has buried itself in a bole in the earth, he came forth rejoicing; the bright yellow birds welcomed him from the willow trees, the soft breezes fanned his cheeks, and the freshness of the air exhilarated him. He called his pang san (valet) and asked him concerning the neighboring views. The servant was a native of the district, and knew the place well; he enumerated the various places especially prized for their scenery, but concluded with: "But of all rare views, 'Kang Hal Loo' is the rarest. Officers from the eight provinces come to enjoy the scenery, and the temple is covered with verses they have left in praise of the place." "Very well, then, we will go there," said Toh Ryung "Go you and clean up the place for my reception."
The servant hurried off to order the temple swept and spread with clean mats, while his young master sauntered along almost intoxicated by the freshness and new life of every thing around him. Arrived at the place, after a long, tedious ascent of the mountain Bide, he flung himself upon a huge bolster-like cushion, and with half-closed eyes, drank in the beauty of the scene along with the balmy, perfume-laden spring zephyrs. He called his servant, and congratulated him upon his taste, declaring that were the gods in search of a fine view, they could not find a place that would surpass this; to which the man answered:
"That is true; so true, in fact, that it is well known that the spirits do frequent this place for its beauty."
As he said this, Toll Ryung had raised himself, and was leaning on one arm, gazing out toward one side, when, as though it were one of the spirits just mentioned, the vision of a beautiful girl shot up into the air and soon fell back out of sight in the shrubbery of an adjoining court-yard. He could just get a confused picture of an angelic face, surrounded by hair like the black thunder-cloud, a neck of ravishing beauty, and a dazzle of bright silks, - when the whole had vanished. He was dumb with amazement, for he felt sure he must have seen one of the spirits said to frequent the place; but before he could speak, the vision arose again, and he then had time to see that it was but a beautiful girl swinging in her dooryard. He did not move, he scarcely breathed, but sat with bulging eyes absorbing the prettiest view he had ever seen. He noted the handsome, laughing face, the silken black hair, held hack in a coil by a huge coral pin ; he saw the jewels sparkling on the gay robes, the dainty white hands and full round arms, from which the breezes blew back the sleeves; and as she flew higher in her wild sport, oh, joy! two little shoeless feet encased in white stockings, shot up among the peach blossoms, causing them to fall in showers all about her. In the midst of the sport her hairpin loosened and fell, allowing her raven locks to float about her shoulders; but, alas! the costly ornament fell on a rock and broke, for Toh Ryung could hear the sharp click where he sat. This ended the sport, and the little maid disappeared, all unconscious of the agitation she had caused in a young man's breast by her harmless spring exercise.
After some silence, the young man asked his servant if he had seen any thing, for even yet he feared his mind had been wandering close to the dreamland. After some joking, the servant confessed to having seen the girl swinging, whereupon his master demanded her name. "She is Uhl Mahs' daughter, a gee sang (public dancing girl) of this city; her name is Chun Yang Ye" - fragrant spring. "I yah! superb; I can see her then, and have her sing and dance for me," exclaimed Toh Ryung. "Go and call her at once, you slave."
The man ran, over good road and bad alike, up hill and down, panting as he went; for while the back of the women's quarters of the adjoining compound was near at hand, the entrance had to be reached by a long circuit. Arriving out of breath, he pounded at the gate, calling the girl by name.
"Who is that calls me?" she enquired when the noise had attracted her attention.
"Oh, never mind who," answered the exhausted man, "it is great business; open the door."
"Who are you, and what do you want?"
"I am nobody, and I want nothing; but Ye Toh Ryung is the Governor's son, and he wants to see the Fragrant Spring."
"Who told Ye Toh Ryung my name ?"
"Never mind who told him; if you did not want him to know you, then why did you swing so publicly? The great man's son came here to rest and see the beautiful views; he saw you swinging, and can see nothing since. You must go, but you need not fear. He is a gentleman, and will treat you nicely; if your dancing pleases him as did your swinging, he may present you with rich gifts, for he is his father's only son."