Page images

him. They halloo out to him that he is very compassionate to orphans and the desolate, why then does he not out with his ten dollars, and buy him for a father? The young man exclaims, “What extraordinary circumstance is this? But since he must have relations, if some of them should come and recognise him, would he leave me, or follow me till the end of life, or not?—if he would do so, I, who have no father or mother, would willingly buy him for ten dollars for my father, and make him my father, thus attaining a name for benevolence for a century: is it good or not?" Seaou low protests that he has no relatives; reminds him of the placard, on which is written distinctly that "he will not repent." "If he buys you," say the men," he must support you; what is the use, then, to you of the ten dollars ?" It ends in the young man's purchasing him; and they go into a wine-shop, and warm a pot of good wine; the purchaser sits on the upper seat, the old man at his side, perfectly friendly. The mob follow them; and after they have finished their entertainment, he presents him with sixteen ounces of silver, and insists upon paying the expenses; calls him his father, and tells him, that if he drank for a hundred years he should not grudge it. The old man gives him in turn his pla card, and the bargain is finished. All this petrifies the bystanders, who, regarding them with fixed eyes and open mouths, exclaim, "They must be either a pair of gods or devils." Seaou low departs with him, quite ignorant as to whether he is married or not, and waiting till he gets home to examine him on this point.

As soon, however, as they are arrived at a large house, and have entered, the young man presents Seaou low with a chair, performs the four reverences to him, and inquires his name and original list, and what place he is of. Seaou low, fearful of being taken in, gives a false name and reference to a neighbouring city, and as the Chinese author expresses himself, "a pasty and muddy answer;" and in return, sks all about the young man. He informs Seaou low that his name is Yaou ke, one of the tribe of Chin, at the mouth of the Han river, in the Han yang foo of Hookwang; that he lost his parents very early, and had no connexions, but at sixteen journeyed along with a man of the same place, named Fuh wang tsze, to Sung keang, to deal in cloth, and had a yearly salary of some dollars for his support, and saving out of this some money, set up for himself in business as a cloth-broker, and had thus passed his life till two-and-twenty; that he was unmarried, and that this was a fortunate circumstance of meeting with a person of the same province; that he had often desired to offer himself as a son to some one, but was apprehensive it would be thought that he did so for the sake of gain, which the present event entirely did away with, and that he will take the old gentleman's name. This the other protests against, and insists, as he was the person bought, upon taking the young man's name. He will not, however, develope his real name, in order to thoroughly examine his diligence, and being satisfied with his unremitting application to business, is on the point of confessing who he is, when news arrive of the military events of the day; that hostile forces had arrived at Nanking, and that in the three principalities of Tsoo, and the two provinces of Kwangse and Kwangtung, soldiers were swarming like bees, and the people afflicted. Feeling uneasy at these events, and wishing to try Yaou ke, he inquires about his property, and what security he has for it. He proposes to him to write up a placard, stating that he has shut up shop till the restoration of tranquillity, and leave the place for the present, going about as a broker, carrying all his property with him. This Yaou ke objects to, instancing the risk and famine to which he is likely to subject his adopted

father. The old man's heart is melted; he reveals that he is a man of wealth, and makes him his heir. That very night they examine into the state of their goods, and next morning hire a bark, and present themselves before the magistrates, stating that they are a father and son passing to their homes. As soon as they had embarked, Yin seaou low inquires of Yaou why he had not married. Yaou informs him that he had intended to marry, but he wishes to know his parent's intentions in this respect. "On whom had you fixed your mind ?" asks the old gentleman. "After I have heard, I may then decide whether you shall send an espousal present, and whether she is a desirable person to ally yourself with." "I will not deceive my father,” replied Yaou; "it is Fuh wang tsze, my old master's daughter, who, at the age of five and six, was exceedingly beautiful; and I should have asked her, and the girl had no unwillingness to marry, only her father and mother had this about them not agreeable (neither clever nor shrewd)—that they deemed my property too little, and on this account it was put off and prevented. He is a very wealthy man, and would certainly assent." "If it be so," said Yin seaou low, "just give a look when you arrive at Han kow." He accordingly directed the boatmen to stop at the bank and wait awhile, totally regardless of the other passengers, who all, with one accord, raised a clamour, protesting that time pressed, and every one had his own business; that they did not know whether life or death, preservation or destruction, might not depend on the rate they travelled, observing "that, in taking our places, no agreement had been made of waiting for you." Yin seaou low, finding that there was no remedy, took out of a broken cloth two packages of silver, to the amount of about a hundred ounces of gold, and sent Yaou ke on first with them to arrange his espousals, while he hastened home to prepare matters when he would expect him. He ascends the bank, and goes off; a breeze springs up, the sail is spread, and in half an hour the boat proceeds some twenty or thirty le, to the great annoyance of Yin seaou low, who had forgotten to tell him his true name and abode, and wanted to be put on shore to do so, but he could only devise to write on his route the direction he had taken.

In the mean time, "it is said that Yaou ke, after having ascended the bank, hastened to Fuh wang tsze's house, only deeming it necessary just to announce his name and desire to arrange about his daughter. As soon as he had entered the gates, he found affairs greatly altered; there was only the appearance of a man, and no face of a woman. Now, during the turbulent state of the kingdom of Tsoo, many banditti and bands of false and plundering soldiers had sprung up, who made prisoners of all women, without respect to age, and led them off in boats, dead or alive it was not known, neither what direction they had taken. After Yaou ke had heard this dismal news, and wept awhile, he bade adieu to his master, and hired a passage-boat to proceed to Yuen yang fuh. He had not journeyed longer than a day, and arrived at a horse-ford (ma tow keu choo), which some call the Seën yaou chin, and others the Seën yu kow, when he found several of the disorderly soldiers, towing a boat down, had opened a great human hong for the sale of women. Yaou ke felt very desirous of seeing the women who had been taken by the plundering soldiery, and inquired of his conductors whether there was any fear of their making confusion; still he would not enter before he had again heard that the soldiery invited purchasers. At last he dismissed all apprehension, and entered the hong to make a purchase with his money." But the soldiers are keen dealers. "Apprehensive that, when their faces are shown, the purchasers will select the sprightly, the sleek, or personable women, and that the ugly will be left behind, which they can sell

to no one, they devise and establish a new mode of dealing for all who would take these women; and put them into sacks, as if they were so many stinking fish and salt or fresh fish, so that the purchasers could not know which contained a salt fish and which contained a stinking fish; and thus, without discrimination, by placing their face in a kind of cloth bag, they sold them all for one price, old and ugly, young and lovely. If you were fortunate, you might obtain a beauty like Se tsze, or a Wang tseang (fit for a palace); if the wheel rolled low, a Tung she, or an old go-between."

Yaou ke, having missed his wife, and provided with cash, in the hopes that he might recover his intended, enters the hong and bargains for a lady, and perceiving through a seam in one of the sacks "a gust of snowy white splendour coming out below the person's mouth," purchases the lady. It turns out, when the bag is taken off her face, that she is a venerable matron of fifty or sixty, to the raillery of the sellers. Nothing daunted, glancing at her from head to foot, he perceives "that, although old, her countenance upon the whole has something commendable, and that she is not a person of low and inferior condition; a glow of benevolence pervades his heart and stomach. He not only did not repent, but this occurred to him :-"' On a former occasion I purchased a father for ten dollars, and a very good bargain it was, and having spent some dollars on this valuable (paou ho), who can tell but it may be another lucky hit, &c.; why not, then, take this woman home for my father's concubine?" " He accordingly proposes to adopt the lady for his mother, offers the ceremony of bowing to her, gets ready food for her, takes off his own clothes to shelter her from the cold, and finally consoles her as much as possible under her affliction. In gratitude for his kindness, the old lady informs him that, among the lot, there is a young lady, in the Chinese phraseology, a beauty capable of destroying the age," and virtuous as well as beautiful, who carries in her sleeve some object which she will not part with, about a cubit long and half an inch broad. He starts off and obtains this young lady, who turns out to be the lost sheep, and the object by which she was detected, his old jasper cubit, by which he measured cloth, which had been presented to her as a keepsake, and with which she would never part for a moment.


Yaou ke hurries along his boat with his passengers to the false direction which had been previously given him, and in the mean time Yin seaou low, as he passes along, puts up placards, informing him that the direction which he had formerly given was wrong, and instructing him where to proceed. Yaou ke, upon this, becomes puzzled, and imagines some trick. The old lady seeing his want of earnestness in proceeding, says, "My dwelling-place is not far distant, and I have at home a husband and no child; if you would not refuse to take and bring me home, we may live together." Yaou, perceiving no person met him, and having no remedy, easily agreed upon taking her home; and as he approached the locality, he quickly perceived that there was a man waiting on the bank, looking towards the boat, and heard a loud voice shouting out, "Is that my son Yaou ke's boat?" Yaou gaped in astonishment, and recognised his father's voice, and did not delay coming up to the place. The old lady, equally astonished, exclaimed, "That is my husband's voice." He runs along-side, and as soon as they see one another, the old lady and Yin seaou low recognise one another, she during his absence having been led off by the plundering and marauding soldiers. They all go to the old man's house, and as soon as they have entered the hall, and sat down in the parlour, the old gentleman informs Yaou that he had formerly a child, who was devoured by a tiger, born to him in the little chamber, which he now delivers

over to him and his wife to reside in. They go up into the bed-room, and Yaou ke, as soon as he entered into the little chamber, directed a scrutinising glance on the windows, door, screen, tables, chairs, bed and bed-furniture, and hangings, and, not a little astonished, exclaimed to Seaou low and his wife, "The chamber of this cottage is certainly my dwelling; in my dreams I have constantly seen it; and if any place is my home, this is it." "How can this be?" they both exclaimed. "Your child," replied Yaou ke, "from his infancy until now, has always seen in his dreams a place whose doors, windows, furniture, bed-curtains, chairs, article after article, are exactly like these; and finally, one night, I thought if I was to dream my whole life, I should not go any where else-what is the cause? Then a man came to me, and said,


This is your birth-place; in that chest are your boyish play-things: if you do not believe me, open it and look,' Your child opened the chest, and saw many play-things; they were no other than a clay man, an earth horse, hammer, and such like things, all of which I saw when grown up as my former things; and when I awoke it was all very different from where I dwelt. This astonished me in approaching the room, to see it so like what was in my dream; and I feel, as it were, transported from the confines of dreams to the same place, under the clear sky and the bright heaven." Seaou low and his wife said, perfectly bewildered at what they heard, "We had behind this bed's arras a chest, in which was our departed child's toys; but some time ago, because we could not bear to behold his things, we ordered his chest to be taken away, and cannot but acknowledge, after all you have said, that there is not a hair's error. From all these extraordinary occurrences, you cannot finally be any other than our child, who, having escaped the calamity of the tiger, met with a kidnapper of boys, who made off with you, and sold you into some family. To-day the imperial heaven and the queen-like earth, compassionating our collecting virtue (tsih tih), have brought us all together to complete our imperfect circle." "How could it happen," replied Yaou, "that I attained the age of twenty, and no one told me that I had other parents, and was not the child of Yaou's wife?" Fuh's daughter, who had been as yet silent, hearing this inquiry, replied, "This is not all a mere dream, for everybody in our place was aware that it was not known from whence you came, only they did not like to tell you to your face. At the time you asked me in marriage, my father and mother, perceiving that you were a very excellent person, originally intended to invite you to become their son-in-law; yet on account of what was said abroad, that you were not the offspring of Yaou's house, but of some other place, archased mean brat, would not therefore allow me to marry you. Now you hear all this, cannot you tell whence you sprang from?" Yaou gaped at this; his mouth then became compressed and his eyes fixed, and, half falling, he could not speak. Seaou low pondered for a while, and then, greatly agitated, said, "We will not remain in doubt, for we have the means of identifying." He then takes him out and examines him, in order to find the remarkable congenital mark which his son had. He is satisfactorily proved to be the child. After communicating it to one another, they all four, with one accord, bow and thank heaven and earth, slaughter and offer pigs and sheep to the gods, and respectfully invite their neighbours to come and examine their child, and, fearful that they would not believe them, let them see the identifying mark, from which the family is named, and which is handed down to their posterity, who exist as wealthy possessors of the soil until the period of Che che, of the Ming dynasty.





DEEP in the ocean depths of time,
Sleeps the Ring of Eastern clime;
Emerald gate and tower no more
Glow in beauty, as of yore,
By the Enchanter's finger raised,
When moonlight on the sapphire blazed.

But sacred Conscience, thou canst bind
A costlier jewel on the mind;

And oft the curious eye may trace
Upon its bright'ning, clouded face,
What changeful thoughts and feelings rise;
And which are evil, which are wise.

What news to memory dost thou bear;
What tidings of thy spirit's care?

For summer flowers and winter blast
Have dwelt here, since I asked thee last.
Say, has thy glowing eye of light,
Ring! been shaded most, or bright?
Hast thou uttered from thy shrine,
Praise or warnings-voice divine?
Have the beams of virtue drawn,
From thy gem, the golden dawn?
Has sunshine bless'd the parted year?
Has grief, or joy, or sin, been here?
Conscience, at thy shrine I cling;
Speak to me, genius of the Ring!*
Shed thy ray of lustre now;
I woo thee with a stooping brow.
Conscience, to thy shrine I cling;
Hear me, genius of the Ring.
I ask not for that spell of might,
That led the daring shepherd right;†
And through the echoing palace pour'd
The death-cry of the Lydian lord.
For misty cloud, nor veil, I pray;
Rain on my heart the blaze of day,
And roll its shadowing fold away!
Alas! that in its April morn,

The eager hand of youth should reap
The verdant promise of our corn,

Ere the ripe ear awake from sleep :
Oh sad! when dark autumnal skies

Warn the faint thoughts no more to roam;
For bread the weary spirit cries-

And finds no harvest-sheaves at home!

Alas! that Pleasure's fever-thirst

The life-blood of the grape should drain,
And rear no vineyard, warm'd and nurst
By summer sun, and summer rain :

A ring there is of perfect diamond stone,
Such as no mining slave is train'd to seek,
Nor Soldan numbers on his orient throne,

Nor diving Ethiop from his sultry creek
Has borne so rich a prize; for who shall speak
What unseen virtues in its orbit dwell?

Press it, the fiends attend in homage meek;

Turn it, the bearer walks invisible.-Morte d'Arthur, p. II. st. xxxi.

† Gyges.

« PreviousContinue »