THE PRINCESS NELUMBO
A Chinese Story
translated by George
Gleam-of-day was sleeping; his
round face and high forehead denoted
the scholar's right intelligence.
All of a sudden he saw a man standing
before his bed who appeared to be
"What is it?" inquired the sleeper,
"The prince is asking for you."
"The prince of the neighbouring territory."
Gleam-of-day, grumbling, got up, put on
his court dress and followed his guide.
Palanquins were waiting; they started
rapidly, and their retinue was soon passing
in the midst of innumerable pavilions and
towers with pointed roofs.
They at last stopped in the courtyard
of the palace; young girls with bright
clothing were seen, and looked inquiringly
at the new-comer, who was announced with
At last Gleam-of-day reached the audience
hall. The prince was seated on the throne;
he descended the steps and welcomed his
guest according to the rites.
"You perfume this neighbourhood," he
said. "Your reputation has come to me,
and I wished to know you."
The servants brought wine; they began
to converse nobly and brilliantly. At last
the prince asked:
"Among the flowers, tell me which one
"The nelumbo," he replied, without
"The nelumbo? it is precisely my
daughter's surname. What a curious coincidence!
The princess must absolutely
And he made a sign to one of the attendants,
who at once went out. A few minutes
after, the princess appeared. She was between
sixteen and seventeen years old.
Nothing could equal her admirable beauty.
Her father ordered her to bow to the
scholar and said:
"Here is my daughter Nelumbo."
Gleam-of-day, looking at her, felt troubled
to the depth of his soul. The prince spoke
to him; he hardly heard, and replied awkwardly.
When the princess had retired,
the conversation languished; the prince at
last rose and put an end to the interview.
During all the way back the young man
was ashamed at the same time with his
emotion before the girl, as well as his
rudeness towards the prince. He was so
much troubled that he ordered his
retinue to go back to the palace.
When he entered the audience hall, he
threw himself to the ground before the prince
and begged to be excused for his rudeness.
"You need not excuse yourself; the
sentiment that I read in your eyes is powerful
and the thought of it is not unpleasant
While Gleam-of-day, happy with this
encouragement, was still excusing himself,
twenty young girls came running:
"A monster has entered the palace; it is
a python ten thousand feet long. It has
already devoured thirteen hundred persons;
its head is like a mountain peak."
Every one got up; the frightened guard
and the courtiers ran hither and thither,
looking where they could hide themselves.
The princess and her maids-in-waiting were
crying for help.
Gleam-of-day at last said to the prince:
"I have only three miserable rooms in
a cottage, but you will be safe in them.
Will you fly there with your daughter?"
"Let us go as quickly as possible,"
replied the prince, seizing the princess by
They all three ran across the deserted
streets. When they arrived, Nelumbo threw
herself on the bed, without being able to
Gleam-of-day was so moved that he
suddenly awoke: everything was a dream.
Just then he heard a scream in the next
room, where his father slept; there was a
struggle, blows, and at last a sigh of satisfaction.
The door opened, and the old man was
seen pushing an enormous serpent at the
end of a stick. When Gleam-of-day turned
back to his bed, he found it covered with
bees; on the pillow the queen had alighted.