Ackermann’s Repository of Arts/Series 1/Volume 1/January 1809/History of Fan-hy-cheu
THE STORY OF FAN-HY-CHEU.
During the reign of Kien-yen, and in the 27th year of the current cycle, Fan-juy raised the standard of rebellion at Kien-cheu; and in consequence of a dreadful famine which then afflicted the country, above an hundred thousand were persuaded to listen to his voice and fight under his banner.
In the course of the following spring, it happened that the Mandarine Leu-cheng-ye was appointed from Quan-see to the office of collector of the customs at Foo-cheu, and he was obliged to pass Kien-cheu in his road thither. A party of the rebels intercepted his retinue, and his daughter, a young lady about seventeen, who accompanied him on his journey, unhappily fell into their hands.
At this time, the leader, Fan-juy, had a son, named Fan-hy-cheu, a young man of good abilities, and about twenty-five years of age. He never had been married, but on seeing the fair captive, who was delicately beautiful, he was smitten with her charms; and learning that her family was noble, he chose a fortunate day, and having received the consent and approbation of his family, she soon became, by all the rites and ceremonies of espousal, his lawful wife.
In the winter of the same year, the emperor sent one of his own sons, the Prince Han-kuin-vany, with a great army, to put an end to the rebellion.
On hearing this intelligence, the daughter of the Mandarine Leu-chung-ye said to Fan-hy-cheu, I have been taught that no virtuous woman can serve two husbands: since we are united by lawful ceremonies, I shall ever owe to you the duties of conjugal obedience and affection. Your city is now almost defenceless, a victorious enemy will soon overcome all resistance; as you are the son of a distinguished leader in the rebellion, your fate seems inevitable: suffer me, then, now to end my life with this dagger, that I may not live to witness my husband’s death.
Fan-hy-cheu, interrupting her, said, It is not from inclination that I am now unhappily a rebel. Tho’ you were unjustly forced away from your noble parents, do not now, by seeking to put an end to your existence, aggravate my crime and my misfortunes. The imperial army now in the field against us, is from the North; the soldiers are your countrymen; you will understand their language; you may perhaps even meet with your family and friends: live therefore for them, and be comforted.
Be assured, she rejoined, that your wife will never submit, during life, to the embraces of another husband: I fear, however, the brutal violence of the soldiers, and have resolved to die rather than to be dishonoured.
This proof, said Fan-hy-cheu, of your faithful attachment to me, shall not prove unrequited, and I here solemnly promise you never to take another partner to my bed.
It happened indeed that the imperial general had long known the Mandarine Leu-chung-ye, and having halted with his army at Foo-cheu, he offered him a command near his own person: and soon after they proceeded together against the head-quarters of the rebels, at Kien-cheu. After a siege of ten days, the town was taken by assault: Fan-hy-cheu disappeared in the general confusion; but his wife, the daughter of Leu-chung-ye, terrified at the approach of the soldiers, attempted to destroy herself in an interior apartment. Among the foremost was her own father, and he fortunately arrived time enough to prevent the melancholy catastrophe. With care and attention, she was gradually restored to life, and the meeting of the father and daughter was alternately a scene of joy and grief.
After the capture of Kien-cheu, the rebellion was easily extinguished, and tranquillity restored throughout the province.
The Mandarine Leu-chung-ye thought it a good time to propose a second marriage to his daughter; but no entreaties could prevail on her to comply. What, said he angrily, do you still regret that rebel from whom we have delivered you? Alas! she answered, although you call him a rebel, he was nevertheless a man of integrity and virtue. After I had the misfortune of being separated from you, I fell into his hands: in the midst of rebels he was distinguished by actions of charity and benevolence. Under the protection of Heaven, he may possibly be still alive. Let me beseech you, my father, to excuse me from entering into a second marriage, and suffer me, as a dutiful daughter, to wait on my parents at home.
Leu-shy continued with her parents in this manner several years.
In the 29th of the cycle, Leu-chung-ye was promoted to the rank of commander in chief at Fong-cheu; and soon after, an officer of rank, named Kiu arrived from Quang-cheou with dispatches from that government. Leu-chung-ye provided an handsome entertainment for his guest; and after his departure, his daughter accosted him, to enquire who was the stranger that had lately arrived?
It is an officer, said he, with dispatches from Quang-cheou.—But his voice and footsteps, added she, remind me strongly of the son of Fan-juy, the rebel of Kien-cheu.—Do not deceive yourself, said her father smiling; this officer’s name is Kiu. What connection can there possibly exist between him and the rebel of Kien-cheu?—Leu-shy had nothing to reply to this, and retired in silence.
Half a year had elapsed when the officer Kiu again arrived at Fong-cheu upon public business. Leu-chung-ye entertained him in the same manner as before. Leu-shy hearing of his return, placed herself near a crevice, through which she had a view of what was passing in the outer apartments, and the moment she saw the stranger, was convinced that he could be no other than Fan-hy-cheu, her former husband. This she communicated to her father, who accordingly, after the stranger had dined and drank wine with him, entreated that, he would confide to him his real history.
The officer Kiu blushed, and said, I have to confess that my real name is Fan, and that my father, Fan-juy, was a noted leader of the revolters, and that I was one myself among them. The rebels were, however, completely defeated by the imperial army; our city submitted to the yellow banner. I made my escape, and knowing that my life was forfeited on account of my revolted family, I changed my name to that of Kiu, in order to elude pursuit. Soon after I enlisted in the imperial army at Yo-chnug-heuin, and we were ordered to take the field against the rebels of the South. We had many engagements, and I fought in the foremost ranks, and endeavoured to distinguish myself against the enemy. My exertions attracted the attention of our general, and after the province was reduced to tranquillity, and the army disbanded, he determined to reward my services by nominating me second in command at Ho-cheu, from thence I rose to the first command, which I afterwards quitted for the situation I now hold under the governor of Quang-cheou.
May I further ask, said the Mandarine Leu-chung-ye, the name of your lady, and whether you have not entered into a second marriage?
Alas! answered he weeping, I once was married to a mandarine’s daughter, who fell into our hands when I lived in the rebel camp; but the same year that our forces were routed, and our city taken by assault, we were unhappily separated: but, in the hope of living to meet again, we mutually vowed to remain true and faithful to each other.
I since accidentally found my aged mother at Sin-cheu, to the care of whom I have constantly devoted my attention, instead of turning my thoughts to marriage, and—here his words were interrupted by his tears.
Leu-chung-ye shed tears of joy and gratitude at this providential discovery, and hurrying to the inner apartment, he had the happiness of bringing together the husband and wife, who had been so long separated. After some days it was necessary that Fan-hy-cheu should return to his station at Quang-cheou: but he returned to his father-in-law as soon as the period of his appointment had expired; and the government of Leu-chung-ye terminating about the same time, they both fixed their residence at Sin-cheu, where Leu-chung-ye obtained the office of judge, and Fan-hy-cheu that of the collector of the customs.
Fan-hy-cheu was not justified in revolting, or Leu-shy for following him; but their offence was palliated by the natural love of life, and the almost inevitable necessity of the case. Viewing their mutual attachment and fidelity after separation, Heaven had compassion upon them, and brought them together again in the extraordinary manner which has been related.