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The Fault And Its Consequences






When Dawning-colour was on the point of dying, he called his mother to
him.

"Mother," he said, "I am going to die. I do not wish White-orchid, my
young wife, to feel herself bound to keep the widowhood. When her
mourning will be finished, she will marry again: our son is only three
years old; you will keep him with you."

Now, the mourning was not yet finished and the coffin was still in the
house waiting for a favourable day, when the young widow began to find
the solitude weigh upon her.

A rich sluggard of the village, named Adolescent, had several times sent
proposals to her through a neighbour; she at last was unwise enough to
agree to an interview with him. When evening came, Adolescent jumped
over the neighbour's wall and went to her room.

He had not been there half an hour when there arose a great noise in the
hall where the coffin was; it seemed as if the cover was violently
thrown to the ground. A little slave who was called afterwards as a
witness told how she ran into the yard and saw her master's corpse
brandishing a sword and jumping towards the room where the lovers were
to be found.

A few instants after, she saw the young widow come out screaming and run
to the garden. Adolescent followed her, covered with blood; he crossed
the threshold and disappeared in the night.

Now, Adolescent, flying from danger, pushed the first door that he came
across in the street; it was that of a young couple; the husband, named
Wang, was absent and only expected to return the next day. The young
wife, hearing a noise, thought it was her husband returning.

"Is that you?" she asked, without quite waking up.

Adolescent, who knew Madame Wang was pretty, answered "Yes" in a low
voice, taking advantage of her error.

A short time after, at Wang's turn to enter, he struck a light, saw a
man in his room, and, furious, seized a pike. Adolescent tried to hide
himself under the bed, but the husband transpierced him several times.
He wished to kill his wife, but she so much begged him not to that he
spared her.

The cries and supplications which came from the room had, however, awoke
the neighbours, who came in; they pulled Adolescent's body from under
the bed; he died almost directly.

There was a silence; the affair was serious. Then one of the assistants
said:

"The judges won't believe that you were in your right of outraged
husband; you ought to have killed your wife also. As it is, you will be
condemned."

Thereupon, Wang killed the unhappy woman.

During this time Dawning-colour's mother, having heard the screams of
her daughter-in-law, thought there was a burglar in the house; she cried
for help and tried to light a lamp, but she was trembling, and her
curtains caught fire.

Some neighbours arrived in haste; while a few of them extinguished the
fire, the others, armed with crossbows, ran through the house and garden
in search of the thief.

At the bottom of the orchard they saw a white mass moving at the foot of
the wall. Without waiting to ascertain what it was, they shot several
arrows; everything was still. The archers approached and lit a torch;
they saw the body of White-orchid transpierced in the head and chest.

Horrified by what they had done, they informed the old woman, who said
nothing.

But this was not all. The elder brother of White-orchid, furious at the
tragic death of his sister, had a lawsuit with the archers and the old
woman.

As usual, the judges ruined both parties; they condemned
Dawning-colour's mother and the archers to receive five hundred bamboo
strokes. The latter were not strong enough to bear this punishment, and
died under the stick. And thus the affair ended.





Next: Deceiving Shadows

Previous: The Woman In Green



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