Returning from this profitable errand, he heard of a very rich man, who had been seized by the corrupt local magistrate, on a false accusation, and was to be beaten publicly, unless he consented to pay a heavy sum as hush money. Hearing of this, Hyung went to see the rich prisoner, and arranged with him that he would act as his substitute for three thousand cash (two dollars). The man was very glad to get off bo easily, and Hyung took the beating. He limped to his house, where his poor wife greeted him with tears and lamentations, for he was a sore and sorry sight indeed. He was cheerful, however, for he explained to them that this had been a rich day's work; he had simply submitted to a little whipping, and was to get three thousand cash for it.
The money did not come, however, for the fraud was detected, and the original prisoner was also punished. Being of rather a close disposition, the man seemed to think it unnecessary to pay for what did him no good. Then the wife cried indeed over her husband's wrongs and their own more unfortunate condition. But the husband cheered her, saying: "If we do right we will surely succeed." He was right. Spring was coming on, and he soon got work at plow-ing and sowing seed. They gave their little house the usual spring cleaning, and decorated the door with appropriate legends, calling upon the fates to bless with prosperity the little home.
With the spring came the birds from the south country, and they seemed to have a preference for the home of this poor family - as indeed did the rats and insects. The birds built their nests under the eaves. They were swallows, and as they made their little mud air-castles, Hyung Bo said to his wife: "I am afraid to have these birds build their nests there. Our house is so weak it may fall down, and then what will the poor birds do?" But the little visitors seemed not alarmed, and remained with the kind people, apparently feeling safe under the friendly roof.
By and by the little nests were full of commotion and bluster; the eggs had opened, and circles of wide opened mouths could be seen in every nest. Hyung and his children were greatly interested in this new addition to their family circle, and often gave them bits of their own scanty allowance of food, so that the birds became quite tame and hopped in and out of the but at will.
One day, when the little birds were taking their first lesson in flying, Hyung was lying on his back on the ground, and saw a huge roof-snake crawl along and devour several little birds before he could arise and help them. One bird struggled from the reptile and fell, but, catching both legs in the fine meshes of a reed-blind, they were broken, and the little fellow hung helplessly within the snake's reach. Hyung hastily snatched it down, and with the help of his wife he bound up the broken limbs, using dried fish-skin for splints. He laid the little patient in a warm place, and the bones speedily united, so that the bird soon began to hop around the room, and pick up bits of food laid out for him. Soon the splints were removed, however, and he flew away, happily, to join his fellows.
The autumn came; and one evening - it was the ninth day of the ninth moon - as the little family were sitting about the door, they noticed the bird with the crooked legs sitting on the clothes-line and singing to them.
"I believe he is thanking us and saying good-by," said Hyung, "for the birds are all going south now."
That seemed to be the truth, for they saw their little friend no longer, and they felt lonely Without the occupants of the now deserted nests. The birds, however, were paying homage to the king of birds in the bird-land beyond the frosts. And as the king saw the little crooked-legged bird come along, he demanded an explanation of the strange sight. Thereupon the little fellow related his narrow escape from a snake that had already devoured many of his brothers and cousins, the accident in the blind, and his rescue and subsequent treatment by a very poor but very kind man.
His bird majesty was very much entertained and pleased. He thereupon gave the little cripple a seed engraved with tine characters in gold, denoting that the seed belonged to the gourd family. This seed the bird was to give to his benefactor in the spring.
The winter wore away, and the spring found the little family almost as destitute as when first we described them. One day they heard a familiar bird song, and, running out, they saw their little crooked-legged friend with something in its mouth, that looked like a seed. Dropping its burden to the ground, the little bird sang to them of the king's gratitude, and of the present he had sent, and then flew away.
Hyung picked up the seed with curiosity, and on one side he saw the name of its kind, on the other, in fine gold characters, was a message saying: "Bury me in soft earth, and give me plenty of water." They did so, and in four days the little shoot appeared in the fine earth. They watched its remarkable growth with eager interest as the stem shot up, and climbed all over the house, covering it up as a bower, and threatening to break down the frail structure with the added weight. It blossomed, and soon four small gourds began to form. They grew to an enormous size, and Hyung could scarcely keep from cutting them. His wife prevailed on him to wait till the frost had made them ripe, however, as then they could cut them, eat the inside, and make water-vessels of the shells, which they could then sell, and thus make a double profit. He waited, though with a poor grace, till the ninth moon, when the gourds were left alone, high upon the roof, with only a trace of the shrivelled stems which had planted them there.
Hyung got a saw and sawed open the first huge gourd. He worked so long, that when his task was finished he feared he must be in a swoon, for out of the opened gourd stepped two beautiful boys, with fine bottles of wine and a table of jade set with dainty cups. Hyung staggered back and sought assurance of his wife, who was fully as dazed as was her husband. The surprise was somewhat relieved by one of the handsome youths stepping forth, placing the table before them, and announcing that the bird king had sent them with these presents to the benefactor of one of his subjects - the bird with broken legs. Ere they could answer, the other youth placed a silver bottle on the table, saying: "This wine will restore life to the dead." Another, which he placed on the table, would, he said, restore sight to the blind. Then going to the gourd, he brought two gold bottles, one contained a tobacco, which, being smoked, would give speech to the dumb, while the other gold bottle contained wine, which would prevent the approach of age and ward off death.