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.





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