Her limbs may have crumbled to dust; yet something of her still lives in this deep wood, her Shadow still haunts this shadowy place." Tchang ceased to speak. A vague fear fell upon the three. The thin mists of the morning made dim the distances of green, and deepened the ghostly beauty of the woods.
The chief lama, approaching me, tendered an invitation to accompany him to the principal terrace and partake of the festal "tchang"; which I accepted with pleasure, for my head was dizzy from the long spectacle.
When the time of the second moon of spring was drawing near, and that happy day which the Chinese call Hoa-tchao, or, "The Birthday of a Hundred Flowers," a longing came upon Ming-Y to see his parents; and he opened his heart to the good Tchang, who not only gave him the permission he desired, but also pressed into his hand a silver gift of two ounces, thinking that the lad might wish to bring some little memento to his father and mother.
The first and second visits are spent in more or less indifferent conversations, blended with frequent libations of tchang, and on the third visit only does the young man declare his intention to take a wife. Upon this the girl is formally introduced to him. She is generally not unknown to the wooer, as, in Ladak, women never veil their faces. A girl cannot be married without her consent.
Then Pelou, striking the boy violently with his staff, commanded him to divulge the secret; and at last, partly through fear of his parent, and partly through fear of the law which ordains that "the son refusing to obey his father shall be punished with one hundred blows of the bamboo," Ming-Y faltered out the history of his love. Tchang changed color at the boy's tale.
From this, small portions are scooped out and eaten with milk. In the evening, bread and tea are served. Meat is a superfluous luxury. Only the hunters introduce some variety in their alimentation, by eating the meat of wild sheep, eagles or pheasants, which are very common in this country. During the day, on every excuse and opportunity, they drink "tchang," a kind of pale, unfermented beer.
Then Ming-Y produced the gifts that Sië had given him, the lion of yellow jade, the brush-case of carven agate, also some original compositions made by the beautiful lady herself. The astonishment of Tchang was now shared by Pelou.
Tchang believed all Ming-Y said, and offered no objection. Accordingly the lad found himself enabled to pass all his evenings at the house of the beautiful Sië.
"If I be not mistaken," she said, when both had seated themselves after having exchanged the customary formalities of politeness, "my honored visitor is none other than Tien-chou, surnamed Ming-Y, educator of the children of my respected relative, the High Commissioner Tchang. As the family of Lord Tchang is my family also, I cannot but consider the teacher of his children as one of my own kin."