THE FAULT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
A Chinese Story
translated by George
When Dawning-colour was on the
point of dying, he called his mother
"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
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
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
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
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
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