But in spite of all these things, the command of the Celestial and August had to be obeyed, and the work of the moulders to be finished, hopeless as the result might be. Yet the glow of the metal seemed purer and whiter than before; and there was no sign of the beautiful body that had been entombed therein. So the ponderous casting was made; and lo! when the metal had become cool, it was found that the bell was beautiful to look upon, and perfect in form, and wonderful in color above all other bells. Nor was there any trace found of the body of Ko-Ngai; for it had been totally absorbed by the precious alloy, and blended with the well-blended brass and gold, with the intermingling of the silver and the iron. And when they sounded the bell, its tones were found to be deeper and mellower and mightier than the tones of any other bell,—reaching even beyond the distance of one hundred li, like a pealing of summer thunder; and yet also like some vast voice uttering a name, a woman’s name,—the name of Ko-Ngai!
* * * * *
And still, between each mighty stroke there is a long low moaning heard; and ever the moaning ends with a sound of sobbing and of complaining, as though a weeping woman should murmur, “Hiai!” And still, when the people hear that great golden moan they keep silence; but when the sharp, sweet shuddering comes in the air, and the sobbing of “Hiai!” then, indeed, all the Chinese mothers in all the many-colored ways of Pe-king whisper to their little ones: “Listen! that is Ko-Ngai crying for her shoe! That is Ko-Ngai calling for her shoe!”
[Illustration: Chinese calligraphy]
The Story of Ming-Y
THE ANCIENT WORDS OF
KOUEI—MASTER OF MUSICIANS IN THE COURTS
OF THE EMPEROR YAO:—
When ye make to resound
the stone melodious, the Ming-Khieou,—
When ye touch the lyre that is called Kin, or the guitar that is
Accompanying their sound with song,—
Then do the grandfather and the father return;
Then do the ghosts of the ancestors come to hear.
THE STORY OF MING-Y
Sang the Poet Tching-Kou:
“Surely the Peach-Flowers blossom over
the tomb of Sie-Thao."
Do you ask me who she was,—the beautiful Sie-Thao? For a thousand years and more the trees have been whispering above her bed of stone. And the syllables of her name come to the listener with the lisping of the leaves; with the quivering of many-fingered boughs; with the fluttering of lights and shadows; with the breath, sweet as a woman’s presence, of numberless savage flowers,—Sie-Thao. But, saving the whispering of her name, what the trees say cannot be understood; and they alone remember the years of Sie-Thao. Something about her you might, nevertheless, learn from any of those Kiang-kou-jin,—those famous Chinese story-tellers, who nightly narrate to listening crowds, in consideration of a few tsien, the legends of the past. Something concerning her you may also find in the book entitled “Kin-Kou-Ki-Koan,” which signifies in our tongue: “The Marvellous Happenings of Ancient and of Recent Times.” And perhaps of all things therein written, the most marvellous is this memory of Sie-Thao:—