The Tale of the Two Lovers – continued
The next day as the young man (who knew none of what had happened) worked in his field the mistress of the brothel came to him and asked how much money he had.
Confused and worried that his love was about to be sold to another city, the young man brought out his life savings and laid it before the mistress.
When the mistress saw how little it was she wiped her eyes and shook her head.
Desperate that he should not lose his sweetheart, the young man went to his cupboard and withdrew all the money he had for food, rent, clothing, and he offered to sell his farm if the mistress would take it.
Seeing that the young man truly had no more, and secretly knowing that the young woman was no longer beautiful enough to serve in the brothel, the mistress finally agreed to the sum—upon condition that he give it all at that very moment and would never speak to the mistress again of the matter.
Overjoyed at this news the young man gave it all away and hurried to bathe and clean before the arrival of his true love.
But when she arrived she came wailing and holding her face in her hands.
The young man sat her down and asked what was the matter.
After a long while, the young woman pulled away her hands to reveal the black scars, and she cried out her fear that now he would no longer love her.
Taking her in his arms, the young man scolded her gently for thinking that he could be so heartless, and said that he would love and serve her gladly all the days of his life.
No sooner had he said this than did the wealthy old man appear at the door.
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He smiled brightly at the two and laughed merrily.
Upon seeing the man who had hurt her, the young woman gasped and ran to the corner of the room, and told her lover who the old man was.
The young man, however, did not act angry at all. He saw that the old man carried a good spirit about him, whatever he had done, and so the young man thanked him for making possible their relationship.
The old man held up his hand, telling the two that he was not yet finished. From his robes he withdrew a long wand, the end of which bore a mane of peacock feathers, and waved it over the young woman.
Instantly she was transformed back into the healthy, beautiful young woman she was before.
The young man recognized the wise old man as Lu Dongbin, one of the eight immortal spirits of the ancient world, and the young man led his belle to bow in gratitude before him.
The old man smiled again, and then he vanished with a blessing that so long as their love remained true, happiness would follow them all the days of their life.
And so they did.
(adapted from the film “Chiang Ming in The Eight Immortals” (1971)