He looked at her so ardently that his troubled soul took flight and alighted upon the maiden’s breast. But his intelligence at once conceived a plan, and he said to his father:
“Tieh-tieh, why would you not tell the sailors to anchor our junk by the side of that one? Would it not be safer?”
Wu was also of this opinion and accordingly gave orders to his men. When the vessel was alongside, he sent to inquire the name of the voyagers, and was informed that they were a certain Ho Chang, the new Governor of Kien-K’ang, going to his post with his wife Ho tsin, and his daughter Elegant, who was just fifteen.
Wu had known the excellent man formerly, so he had his name carried to him. Then, clothed in his official robes, he stepped from one ship to the other. His colleague was awaiting him before his cabin, and, having exchanged formal greetings, they sat and talked together, drinking a cup of tea. Wu returned to his boat where, after a few moments, Ho Chang returned his visit. And Ya-nei was present at the meeting. Ho Chang had no son, and took pleasure in seeing this beautiful young man. He questioned him upon certain ancient and modern books, and was satisfied with the ready answers which he obtained. He praised him unreservedly for them, thinking:
“This is just the son-in-law that I should like. He would make an unprecedented match with my daughter. But he is going to live at Pien-liang, and I will be at Kien-K’ang which is more than fifteen days’ journey to the south of that place.”
Wu asked him:
“How many sons have you, O Old-Man-Born-Before-Me?”
“I will not conceal from you the fact that I have only a daughter.”
“That charming child was his daughter then. She would be an unprecedented wife for my son. But she is his only child, and he certainly would not be willing to marry her at any great distance from himself.”
He added aloud:
“But if you have no son, you have only to take concubines.”
“I thank you for your suggestion. It had occurred to me.”
After having talked for some time, Ho Chang withdrew to his cabin, where his wife and daughter were awaiting him. Being a little elated by his cups of wine, he kept speaking of Ya-nei’s merit, and of his intention to invite the father and son for the next day. His words sank deeply into his daughter’s mind.
On the following day the river was still churned by waves, and the storm sent up spray to a height of more than thirty feet. The crash of water was heard on all sides.
Early in the morning Ho Chang sent his invitation, and, when the two men arrived, the feast began. Elegant, in the next cabin, could see Ya-nei through the cracks in the bulkhead, and her heart was secretly moved.
“If I could have him for my husband, my desire would be satisfied. But I shall not persuade him into a proposal by merely looking at him. How shall I set about making known my thought to him?”