To return in the story: On awaking in the morning in the temple where he and his friends had gone to study, they found Keydong missing. All was in a state of confusion as to what had become of the son of the Chief Justice. They hunted for him far and wide, but he was nowhere to be found, so word was sent to the parents accordingly. There was untold consternation in the home of the former governor. So great a loss, what could equal it? They searched the country about the temple, but no trace or shadow of him was to be found. Some said they thought he had been inveigled away and metamorphosed by the fox; others that he had been eaten by the tiger. The parents decided that he was dead and went into mourning for him, burning his clothing in a sacrificial fire.
In Pyong-an the Governor's son, when he found that he had lost Charan, had Charan's mother imprisoned and all the relatives, but after a month or so, when the search proved futile, he gave up the matter and let them go.
Charan, at last happy with her chosen one, said one day to him, "You, a son of the gentry, for the sake of a dancing-girl have given up parents and home to live in this hidden corner of the hills. It is a matter, too, that touches your filial piety, this leaving your father and mother in doubt as to whether you are alive or not. They ought to know. We cannot live here all our lives, neither can we return home; what do you think we ought to do?" Keydong made a hopeless reply. "I am in distress," said he, "and know not."
Charan said brightly, "I have a plan by which we can cover over the faults of the past, and win a new start for the future. By means of it, you can serve your parents and look the world in the face. Will you consent? "
"What do you propose?" asked he. Her reply was, "There is only one way, and that is by means of the Official Examination. I know of no other. You will understand what I mean, even though I do not tell you more."
He said, "Enough, your plan is just the thing to help us out. But how can I get hold of the books I need?"
Charan replied, "Don't be anxious about that, I'll get the books." From that day forth she sent through all the neighbourhood for books, to be secured at all costs; but there were few or none, it being a mountain village. One day there came by, all unexpectedly, a pack-peddler, who had in his bundle a book that he wished to sell. Some of the village people wanted to buy it for wall-paper. Charan, however, secured it first and showed it to Keydong. It was none other than a special work for Examinations, with all the exercises written out. It was written in small characters, and was a huge book containing several thousand exercises. Keydong was delighted, and said, "This is enough for all needed' preparation." She bought it and gave it to him, and there he pegged away day after day. In the night he studied by candle-light, while she sat by his side and did silk-spinning. Thus they shared the light together. If he showed any remissness, Charan urged him on, and thus they worked for two years. To begin with, he, being a highly talented scholar, made steady advancement day by day. He was a beautiful writer and a master of the pen. His compositions, too, were without a peer, and every indication pointed to his winning the highest place in the Kivago (Examination).
At this time a proclamation was issued that there would be a special examination held before His Majesty the King, so Charan made ready the food required and all necessaries for him to go afoot to Seoul to try his hand.
At last here he was, within the Palace enclosure. His Majesty came out into the examination arena and posted up the subject. Keydong took his pen and wrote his finished composition. Under the inspiration of the moment his lines came forth like bubbling water. It was finished.
When the announcement was made as to the winner, the King ordered the sealed name of the writer to be opened. It was, and they found that Keydong was first. At that time his father was Prime Minister and waiting in attendance upon the King. The King called the Prime Minister, and said, "It looks to me as though the winner was your son, but he writes that his father is Chief Justice and not Prime Minister; what can that mean?" He handed the composition paper to the father, and asked him to look and see. The Minister gazed at it in wonder, burst into tears, and said, "It is your servant's son. Three years ago he went with some friends to a monastery to study, but one night he disappeared, and though I searched far and wide I have had no word of him since. I concluded that he had been destroyed by some wild animal, so I had a funeral service held and the house went into mourning. I had no other children but this son only. He was greatly gifted and I lost him in this strange way. The memory has never left me, for it seems as though I had lost him but yesterday. Now that I look at this paper I see indeed that it is the writing of my son. When I lost him I was Chief Justice, and thus he records the office; but where he has been for these three years, and how he comes now to take part in the examination, I know not."
The King, hearing this, was greatly astonished, and at once before all the assembled ministers had him called. Thus he came in his scholar's dress into the presence of the King. All the officials wondered at this summoning of a candidate before the announcement of the result. The King asked him why he had left the monastery and where he had been for these three years. He bowed low, and said, "I have been a very wicked man, have left my parents, have broken all the laws of filial devotion, and deserve condign punishment." The King replied, saying, "There is no law of concealment before the King. I shall not condemn you even though you are guilty; tell me all." Then he told his story to the King. All the officials on each side bent their ears to hear. The King sighed, and said to the father, "Your son has repented and made amends for his fault. He has won first place and now stands as a member of the Court. We cannot condemn him for his love for this woman. Forgive him for all the past and give him a start for the future." His Majesty said further, "The woman Charan, who has shared your life in the lonely mountains, is no common woman. Her plans, too, for your restoration were the plans of a master hand. She is no dancing-girl, this Charan. Let no other be your lawful wife but she only; let her be raised to equal rank with her husband, and let her children and her children's children hold highest office in the realm." So was Keydong honoured with the winner's crown, and so the Prime Minister received his son back to life at the hands of the King. The winner's cap was placed upon his head, and the whole house was whirled into raptures of joy.
So the Minister sent forth a palanquin and servants to bring up Charan. In a great festival of joy she was proclaimed the wife of the Minister's son. Later he became one of Korea's first men of State, and they lived their happy life to a good old age. They had two sons, both graduates and men who held high office.