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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "The Golden Canister"

The Golden Canister

The count realized that there was meaning in her words and replied: “You are in truth an extraordinary girl. It is a fact that I am quietly reflecting on some way of escape.”

The slave-girl said: “That is easily done! You need not give it a thought, master! I will go to Webo and see how things are. This is the first watch of the night. If I go now, I can be back by the fifth watch.”

“Should you not succeed,” said the count, “you merely bring misfortune upon me the more quickly.”

“A failure is out of the question,” answered the slave-girl.

Then she went to her room and prepared for her journey. She combed her raven hair, tied it in a knot on the top of her head, and fastened it with a golden pin. Then she put on a short garment embroidered with purple, and shoes woven of dark silk. In her breast she hid a dagger with dragon-lines graved on it, and upon her forehead she wrote the name of the Great God. Then she bowed before the count and disappeared.

The count poured wine for himself and waited for her, and when the morning horn was blown, the slave-girl floated down before him as light as a leaf.

“Did all go well?” asked the count.

“I have done no discredit to my mission,” replied the girl.

“Did you kill any one?”

“No, I did not have to go to such lengths. Yet I took the golden canister at the head of Webo’s couch along as a pledge.”

The count asked what her experience had been, and she began to tell her story:

“I set out when the drums were beating their first tattoo and reached Webo three hours before midnight. When I stepped through the gate, I could see the sentries asleep in their guard-rooms. They snored so that it sounded like thunder. The camp sentinels were pacing their beats, and I went in through the left entrance into the room in which the Count of Webo slept. There lay your relative on his back behind the curtain, plunged in sweet slumber. A costly sword showed from beneath his pillow; and beside it stood an open canister of gold. In the canister were various slips.

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