The flower nymphs (1)
At the lower temple on Mount Lao the camellias are twenty
feet in height, and many spans in circumference. The peonies are
more than ten feet high; and when the flowers are in bloom the
effect is that of a gorgeous tapestry.
There was a Mr. Huang, of Chiao-chow, who built himself a
house at that spot, for the purpose of study; and one day he saw
from his window a young lady dressed in white wandering about
amongst the flowers. Reflecting that she could not possibly be-
long to the monastery, he went out to meet her, but she had
already disappeared. After this he frequently observed her, and
once hid himself in a thick-foliaged bush, waiting for her to
By-and-by she appeared, bringing with her another young lady
dressed in red, who, as he noticed from his distant point of observation, was an exceedingly good-looking girl. When they approached
nearer, the young lady in the red dress ran back, saying, "There is a man here!" whereupon Mr. Huang jumped out
upon them, and away they went in a scare, with their skirts and
long sleeves fluttering in the breeze, and perfuming the air round.
Huang pursued them as far as a low wall, where they suddenly
vanished from his gaze. In great distress at thus losing the fair
creatures, he took a pencil and wrote upon a tree the following
The pangs of love my heart enthrall
As I stand opposite this wall.
I dread some hateful tyrant's power,
With none to save you in that hour.
Returning home he was absorbed in his own thought, when all
at once the young lady walked in, and he rose up joyfully to meet
her. "I thought you were a brigand," said his visitor, smiling;
"you nearly frightened me to death. I did not know you were a
great scholar whose acquaintance I now hope to have the honour
of making." Mr. Huang asked the young lady her name, &c., to
which she replied, "My name is Hsiang-yu, and I belong to Ping-kang-hsiang; but a magician has condemned me to remain on this
hill much against my own inclination."
"Tell me his name," cried Huang, "and I'll soon set you
"There is no need for that," answered the young lady; "I suffer no injury from him, and the place is not an inconvenient one
for making the acquaintance of such worthy gentlemen as your-
self." Huang then inquired who was the young lady in red, and
she told him that her name was Chiang-hsueh, and that they were
half-sisters; "and now," added she, "I will sing you a song; but
please don't laugh at me." She then began as follows: -
In pleasant company the hours fly fast,
And through the window daybreak peeps at last.
Ah, would that, like the swallow and his mate,
To live together were our happy fate.
Huang here grasped her hand and said, "Beauty without and
intellect within - enough to make a man love you and forget all
about death, only one day's absence being like the separation of a
thousand miles. I pray you come again whenever an opportunity
may present itself."
From this time the young lady would frequently walk in to
have a chat, but would never bring her sister with her in spite of
all Mr. Huang's entreaties. Huang thought they weren't friends,
but Hsiang said her sister did not care for society in the same way that she
herself did, promising at the same time to try and persuade her to come at some future day. One evening Hsiang-yu
arrived in a melancholy frame of mind, and told Huang that he
was wanting more when he couldn't even keep what he had got;
"for to-morrow," said she, "we part." Huang asked what she
meant; and then, wiping away her tears with her sleeve, Hsiang-yu declared it was destiny, and that she couldn't well tell him.
"Your former prophecy," continued she, "has come too true; and now it may well be said of me -
Fallen into the tyrant's power,
With none to save me in that hour."