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Peaceful-light






In the time when the Shining Dynasty had just conquered the throne, the
eastern coasts of the Empire were ravaged by the rapid junks commanded
by the cruel inhabitants of the Japanese islands, the irresistible Wo
tsz.

Now, it happened that the Wo tsz Emperor lost his first wife; knowing
the beauty of Chinese women, he charged one of his officers to bring
back some of them.

The officer, at the head of a numerous troop, landed not far from the
town of The-Smoky-wall. No resistance was possible; the population was
given the example of flight by the functionaries, at least it was thus
said in the Annals of the prefecture.

The country being far from the big centres, the women were not great
coquettes; only one, named Peaceful-light, had always been careful,
since childhood, not to allow her feet to become naturally large; they
were constantly bound up, so much so that she could hardly walk.

Her large soft eyes were shaded with heavy eyelashes; one of the
literati of the place took delight in quoting the poets of antiquity on
them:

Under the willow of her eyelashes
The tranquil river of her eyes shines forth.
I bend and see my image reflected in them.
Could she be deceitful like the deep water?

When the pirates were coming, she begged her family to leave her, and to
fly without the risk of being delayed by her.

"It is the just punishment for my coquetry," she told them. "Fear
nothing for me, however. I am going to take a strong dose of the paste
extracted from the flowers of Nao-yang which makes one sleep. The
pirates will think I am dead, and will leave me."

The family allowed themselves to be persuaded, and departed. As to
Peaceful-light, she was asleep almost directly after taking the drug,
and she remained motionless on her bed.

The pirates, entering everywhere, at last arrived in the house and
remained struck with admiration by her beauty. The officer who was
called, at first thought her dead and was much grieved, but, touching
her hand and finding it warm and limp, he resolved to carry her away.

When the ravishers were re-embarked, the strong sea-air and the motion
of the boat revived the young girl; she awoke, and was horrified to find
herself surrounded by strangers. The one who seemed the chief spoke to
her in Chinese language in order to reassure her:

"Fear nothing. No harm will come to you. On the contrary, the highest
destiny awaits you; my Lord The Emperor designs you to the honour of
his couch."

Seeing that no one troubled her, Peaceful-light was reassured; she
resolved to wait, confident in her destiny, and knowing that she had
still, ready in her sleeve, in case of necessity, a narcotic dose strong
enough to kill her.

As soon as she landed, she was taken in great haste to the Palace. The
Emperor, greatly satisfied with her beauty, conferred on her at once the
rank of first favourite.

But all the luxury and love which surrounded her could not make her
forget her family and her country; she resolved to run away.

In order to manage it, she complained to her master how sad it was for
her never to be able to speak her own language with companions from her
country. The Emperor, happy to be able to please her, gave orders to fit
out a sea-junk, in order to go to the Chinese coast.

The day when all was ready the young girl found means of pouring into
her master's drink a dose of her narcotic. Then, when he was asleep, she
took his private seal and, going out of the room, she called the
intendant of the Palace and said to him:

"The Emperor has ordered me to go to China to fetch a magician, a member
of my family, who has great power on water and wind. Here is the seal,
proof of my mission. The ship must be almost ready."

The intendant knew that a junk had been specially prepared to go to
China; he saw the seal; what suspicion could he have? He had a palanquin
brought as quickly as possible; two hours after, the wood of the junk
groaned under the blows of the unfurling waves.

Arriving in sight of the coast, on the pretext of not frightening the
population, the young girl begged the officer who accompanied her to
send a messenger to the prefect of the town, bearing a letter that she
had prepared. The officer, without distrust, sent one of his men.

The letter of Peaceful-light showed a whole scheme to which the prefect
could but give his consent. The messenger returned, bringing to the
officer and to the men an invitation to take part in the feast that was
being prepared for them, their intentions not being bad.

Peaceful-light retired into her family, who welcomed her with a thousand
demonstrations of joy.

In the wine that was freely poured out for the strangers they had
dissolved the flowers of Nao-yang. The effects were not long in being
felt; a torpor that they attributed to the table excesses seized them
one after another. They were soon all sleeping deeply. Men arrived with
swords, glided near them, and, a signal being given, cut off their
heads.

While these events were passing in China, others still more serious were
happening in Japan. Soon after the departure of Peaceful-light, the
Emperor's brother penetrated into the room where the sovereign was left
sleeping. This brother was ambitious; he profited by the occasion,
killed the unhappy Mikado, took possession of the seals of the State,
and, calling his partisans in haste, proclaimed himself Chief of the
State. Only a part of the princes followed him; the others, filled with
indignation by the crime that had been accomplished, united their troops
to crush the usurper; civil war tore the whole of Japan to pieces.

As to Peaceful-light, by order of the authorities she received public
congratulations and gifts of land which allowed her to marry and be
happy, as she merited.





Next: Hong The Currier

Previous: Deceiving Shadows



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