During the reign of the third king in Korea there lived a noble of high rank and noted family, by name Hong. His title was Ye Cho Pansa. He had two sons by his wife and one by one of his concubines. The latter son was very remarkable from his birth to his death, and he it is who forms the subject of this history.
When Hong Pansa was the father of but two sons, he dreamed by night on one occasion that he heard the noise of thunder, and looking up he saw a huge dragon entering his apartment, which seemed too small to contain the whole of his enormous body. The dream was so startling as to awaken the sleeper, who at once saw that it was a good omen, and a token to him of a blessing about to be conferred. He hoped the blessing might prove to be another son, and went to impart the good news to his wife. She would not see him, however, as she was offended by his taking a concubine from the class of "dancing girls." The great man was sad, and went away. Within the year, however, a son of marvellous beauty was born to one concubine, much to the annoyance of his wife and to himself, for he would have been glad to have the beautiful boy a full son, and eligible to office. The child was named Kil Tong, or Hong Kil Tong. He grew fast, and became more and more beautiful. He learned rapidly, and surprised every one by his remarkable ability. As he grew up he rebelled at being placed with the slaves, and at not being allowed to call his parent, father. The other children laughed and jeered at him, and made life very miserable. He refused longer to study of the duties of children to their parents. He upset his table in school, and declared he was going to be a soldier. One bright moonlight night Hong Pansa saw his son in the court-yard practising the arts of the soldier, and he asked him what it meant. Kil Tong answered that he was fitting himself to become a man that people should respect and fear. He said he knew that heaven had made all things for the use of men, if they found themselves capable of using them, and that the laws of men were only made to assist a few that could not otherwise do as they would; but that he was not inclined to submit to any such tyranny, but would become a great man in spite of his evil surroundnigs. "This is a most remarkable boy," mused Hong Pansa.
"What a pity that he is not my proper and legitimate son, that he might be an honor to my name. As it is, I fear he will cause me serious trouble." He urged the boy to go to bed and sleep, but Kil Tong said it was useless, that if he went to bed he would think of his troubles till the tears washed sleep away from his eyes, and caused him to get up.
The wife of Hong Pansa and his other coucu-bine (the dancing girl), seeing how much their lord and master thought of Kil Toug, grew to hate the latter intensely, and began to lay plans for ridding themselves of him. They called some mootang, or sorceresses, and explained to them that their happiness was disturbed by this son of a rival, and that peace could only be restored to their hearts by the death of this youth. The witches laughed and said: "Never mind. There is an old woman who lives by the east gate, tell her to come and prejudice the father. She can do it, and be will then look after his son."
The old hag came as requested. Hong Pansa was then in the women's apartments, telling them of the wonderful boy, much to their annoyance. A visitor was announced, and the old woman made a low7 bow outside. Hong Pansa asked her what her business was, and she stated that she had heard of his wonderful son, and came to see him, to foretell what his future was to be.
Kil Tong came as called, and on seeing him the hag bowed and said: "Send out all of the people." She then stated: "This will be a very great man; if not a king, he will be greater than the king, and will avenge his early wrongs by killing all his family." At this the father called to her to stop, and enjoined strict secrecy upon her. He sent Kil Tong at once to a strong room, and had him locked in for safe keeping.
The boy was very sad at this new state of affairs, but as his father let him have books, he got down to hard study, and learned the Chinese works on astronomy. He could not see his mother, and his unnatural father was too afraid to come near him. He made up his mind, however, that as soon as he could get out he would go to some far off country, where he was not known, and make his true power felt.
Meanwhile, the unnatural father was kept in a state of continual excitement by his wicked concubine, who was bent on the destruction of the son of her rival, and kept constantly before her master the great dangers that would come to him from being the parent of such a man as Kil Tong was destined to be, if allowed to live. She showed him that such power as the boy was destined to possess, would eventually result in bis overthrows!, and with him his father's house would be in disgrace, and, doubtless, would be abolished. While if this did not happen, the son was sure to kill his family, so that, in either ease, it was the father's clear duty to prevent any further trouble by putting the boy out of the way. Hong Pansa was finally persuaded that his concubine was right, and sent for the assassins to come and kill his son. But % spirit filled the father with disease, and he told the men to stay their work. Medicines failed to cure the disease, and the mootang women were called in by the concubine. They beat their drums and danced about the room, conjuring the spirit to leave, but it would not obey. At last they said, at the suggestion of the concubine, that Kil Tong was the cause of the disorder, and that with his death the spirit would cease troubling the father.
Again the assassins were sent for, and came with their swords, accompanied by the old hag from the east gate. While they were meditating on the death of Kil Tong, he was musing on the unjust laws of men who allowed sons to be born of concubines, but denied them rights that were enjoyed by other men.