Miss A-Pao : - Or
Perseverance rewarded (2)
One day he heard that she intended to worship at the Shui-yueh
temple on the 8th of the fourth moon, that day being the
Wash-Buddha festival; and he set off early in the morning to
wait for her at the roadside. He was nearly blind with
straining his eyes, and the sun was already past noontide
before the young lady arrived; but when she saw from her
carriage a gentleman standing there, she drew aside the
screen and had a good stare at him. Sun followed her in a
great state of excitement, upon which she bade one of her
maids to go and ask his name. Sun told her who he was, his
perturbation all the time increasing; and when the carriage drove on he returned home.
Again he became very ill, and lay on his bed unconscious, without taking any food, occasionally calling on A-pao by name, at
the same time abusing his spirit for not having been able to follow
her as before.
Just at this juncture a parrot that had been long with the family
died; and a child, playing with the body, laid it upon the bed. Sun
then reflected that if he was only a parrot one flap of his wings
would bring him into the presence of A-pao; and while occupied
with these thoughts, lo! the dead body moved and the parrot flew
away. It flew straight to A-pao's room, at which she was delighted; and catching it, tied a string to its leg, and fed it upon
hemp-seed. "Dear sister," cried the bird, "do not tie me by the
leg: I am Sun Tzu-chu." In great alarm A-pao untied the string,
but the parrot did not fly away. "Alas!" said she, "your love has
engraved itself upon my heart; but now you are no longer a man,
how shall we ever be united together ?"
"To be near your dear self," replied the parrot, "is all I care
about." The parrot then refused to take food from any one else,
and kept close to Miss A-pao wherever she went, day and night
At the expiration of three days, A-pao, who had grown very
fond of her parrot, secretly sent some one to ask how Mr. Sun
was; but he had already been dead three days, though the part
over his heart had not grown cold. "Oh! come to life again as a
man," cried the young lady, "and I swear to be yours for ever."
"You are surely not in earnest," said the parrot, "are you?"
Miss A-pao declared she was, and the parrot, cocking its head
aside, remained some time as if absorbed in thought.
By-and-by A-pao took off her shoes to bind her feet a little
tighter; and the parrot, making a rapid grab at one, flew off with
it in its beak. She called loudly after it to come back, but in a
moment it was out of sight; so she next sent a servant to inquire if
there was any news of Mr. Sun, and then learnt that he had come
round again, the parrot having flown in with an embroidered
shoe and dropped down dead on the ground. Also, that directly
he regained consciousness he asked for the shoe, of which his
people knew nothing; at which moment her servant had arrived,
and demanded to know from him where it was. "It was given to
me by Miss A-pao as a pledge of faith," replied Sun; "I beg you
will tell her I have not forgotten her promise."
A-pao was greatly astonished at this, and instructed her maid
to divulge the whole affair to her mother, who, when she had
made some inquiries, observed that Sun was well known as a
clever fellow, but was desperately poor, "and to get such a son-
in-law after all our trouble would give our aristocratic friends the
laugh against us." However, A-pao pleaded that with the shoe
there as a proof against her, she would not marry anybody else;
and, ultimately, her father and mother gave their consent.
This was immediately announced to Mr. Sun, whose illness
rapidly disappeared in consequence. A-pao's father would have
had Sun come and live with them; but the young lady objected,
on the score that a son-in-law should not remain long at a time
with the family of his wife, and that as he was poor he would
lower himself still more by doing so. "I have accepted him,"
added she, "and I shall gladly reside in his humble cottage, and
share his poor fare without complaint." The marriage was then
celebrated, and bride and bridegroom met as if for the first time
in their lives.
The dowry A-pao brought with her somewhat raised their
pecuniary position, and gave them a certain amount of comfort;
but Sun himself stuck only to his books, and knew nothing about
managing affairs in general. Luckily his wife was clever in that
respect, and did not bother him with such things; so much so that
by the end of three years they were comparatively well off, when
Sun suddenly fell ill and died.
Mrs. Sun was inconsolable, and refused either to sleep or take
nourishment, being deaf to all entreaties on the subject; and
before long, taking advantage of the night, she hanged herself.
Her maid, hearing a noise, ran in and cut her down just in time:
but she still steadily refused all food. Three days passed away,
and the friends and relatives of Sun came to attend his funeral,
when suddenly they heard a sigh proceeding forth from the
coffin. The coffin was then opened and they found that Sun had
come to life again. He told them that he had been before the
Great Judge, who, as a reward for his upright and honorable
life, had conferred upon him an official appointment. "At this
moment," said Sun, "it was reported that my wife was close at
hand, but the Judge, referring to the register, observed that her
time had not yet come. They told him she had taken no food for
three days; and then the Judge, looking at me, said that as a recompense for her wifely virtues she should be permitted to
return to life. Thereupon he gave orders to his attendants to put
to the horses and see us safely back."
From that hour Sun gradually improved, and the next year
went up for his Master's degree. All his old companions
chaffed him exceedingly before the examination, and gave him
seven themes on out-of-the-way subjects, telling him
privately that they had been surreptitiously obtained from
the examiners. Sun believed them as usual, and worked at them day and night until he
was perfect, his comrades all the time enjoying a good laugh
against him. However, when the day came it was found that the
examiners, fearing lest the themes they had chosen in an ordinary
way should have been dishonestly made public, took a set of
fresh ones quite out of the common run - in fact, on the very
subjects Sun's companions had given to him. Consequently, he
came out at the head of the list; and the next year, after taking his
Doctor's degree, he was entered among the Han-lin Academicians. The Emperor,
too, happening to hear of his curious adventures, sent for
him and made him repeat his story; subsequently, summoning A-pao and making her some very costly