The Dreamer of a Thousand Names for Starlight (cloudtrader) wrote,
The Dreamer of a Thousand Names for Starlight
cloudtrader

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So his thoughts wandered. He tried to sleep but sleep refused to come. The hours grew late. Sometimes he closed his eyes for a little, but the eight fairies persistently appeared before him in a row and drove sleep far away.


***

For a moment Moonlight let her awakened vision rest on the composition, and then her clear voice broke forth into singing sweet and compelling. The cranes stepped forth into the city commons to cheer her, and the phoenixes made their responses. Flutes lost their charm, and the harp its store of sweet melody. The hearers were intoxicated by the music, and all faces turned pale. Out of contempt they had compelled Yang to write, but now when his composition had become the song that Moonlight sang, their joy gave place to envy, and they looked at each other speechless with dismay. To think of giving Moonlight over to this unknown stranger roused rebellious feelings. Their desire was to break the agreement, but such an act of dishonour was hard to suggest, so they sat gagged and dazed looking at each other.


***

The music seemed far distant at first, miles away, awakening a sense of delight and calling the soul in a fast and lively way. The flowers in the court opened out at the sound of it; the swallows in pairs swung through their delightful dancings; the orioles sang in chorus to each other. The young mistress dropped her head, closed her eyes, and sat silent for a moment till the part was reached which tells how the phoenix came back to his native land, gliding across the wide expanse of sea looking for his mate.

The young mistress opened her eyes and looked once straight at the priestess. Then she bent her head as though to adjust her dress. The red blushes mounted to her cheeks and drove even the paler colour from her brow, until she looked like one who was red with wine. She quietly arose and went into her own room.

Yang gave a start of surprise, pushed away his harp, got up, looked straight before him towards the place where the young lady had gone. His spirit seemed to leave him, and his soul to die away, so that he stood like a porcelain image. Her ladyship told him to be seated, asking: “What was it that you played just now?”

Yang replied: “I got this tune from my teacher, but do not know what its name is. I should like the young lady kindly to tell me.” But though they waited long she did not reappear. The lady Cheung then asked the cause from the servant, who returned to say that her young mistress had been exposed to the draught somewhat and was feeling unwell, so that she would not be able to rejoin them.


***

Every line and feature of Cloudlet 's face was a model of comeliness. She was the equal of the young mistress in literature, in penmanship, and in embroidery, and she was treated in every way like a sister, and one whom the young lady would scarcely let go out of her sight. Though there was the relationship between the two of mistress and maid, they loved each other as only bosom friends do. Cloudlet's name originally was Cho-oon, a Cloud from Cho, but her young mistress was so in love with her beauty that she borrowed an expression from the writings of Han Toi-jee which says, “Beauty is like a cloud of springtime,” and called her instead Choon-oon, “Spring Cloud,” and so all the members of the family called her familiarly, Cloudlet.


***

The lady read this through, and said to herself: “No hand can write like Cloudlet's. It grows more and more skilful. The embroidered shoes she makes herself, and the rare gem is me, dear girl. Till now she and I have never been separated. By and by when I marry she speaks of being pushed aside. She loves me truly.” Then she sighed and said: “She would like to share the same home and the same husband. Evidently this is the wish of her heart.”


***

"The rounded fan, like the shining moon,
Calls me back to the light that was dimmed so soon.
I never had thought through my tears and pain,
That a day would come when we'd meet again.”


***

The Dowager replied: “Since ancient times the most noted writers among women were Pan Heui, Chai Nyo, Princess Tak-moon and Sa Do-on, these four only. Now three girls of unsurpassed ability meet in one and the same dwelling-place. It is surely a marvellous sign.”

Orchid replied: “Princess Blossom's waiting-maid, Cloudlet, is also greatly gifted with the pen.”


***


The officials received the compositions, bade farewell and returned within the city, while the two companies of guests sat each in rows and the stewards passed refreshments. Who can tell of the delightful flavour of wine mixed with milk and of the tender lips of the monkey? Fruit was there from Wol, and potatoes from Yong piled high on the green stone platters, and such a banquet none had ever seen even at the Lake of Gems with the Western Queen Mother presiding. One need not speak of gatherings under Moo-jee of Han or of such delicacies or delights ever having been seen before.

Behold the dancers ready, a thousand strong, in ranks three deep with the broad silk awning shading them. The sound of gems and ornaments was like rippling thunder; the slender waists of the dancers were more lithe than the willow; the hundred pretty faces vied with the flowers in freshness and beauty; the sound of harps and flutes surpassed the music of many waters; the singing made the whole South Mountain to tremble.


I think I shall go to sleep now, if I can.
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