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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "The Two Scholars"

The Two Scholars

Once upon a time there were two scholars. One was named Liu Tschen and the other Yuan Dschau. Both were young and handsome. One spring day they went together into the hills of Tian Tai to gather curative herbs. There they came to a little valley where peach-trees blossomed luxuriantly on either side. In the middle of the valley was a cave, where two maidens stood under the blossoming trees, one of them clad in red garments, the other in green. And they were beautiful beyond all telling. They beckoned to the scholars with their hands.

“And have you come?” they asked. “We have been waiting for you overlong!”

Then they led them into the cave and served them with tea and wine.

“I have been destined for the lord Liu,” said the maiden in the red gown; “and my sister is for the lord Yuan!”

And so they were married. Every day the two scholars gazed at the flowers or played chess so that they forgot the mundane world completely. They only noticed that at times the peach-blossoms on the trees before the cave opened, and at others that they fell from the boughs. And, at times, unexpectedly, they felt cold or warm, and had to change the clothing they were wearing. And they marveled within themselves that it should be so.

Then, one day, they were suddenly overcome by homesickness. Both maidens were already aware of it.

“When our lords have once been seized with homesickness, then we may hold them no longer,” said they.

On the following day they prepared a farewell banquet, gave the scholars magic wine to take along with them and said:

“We will see one another again. Now go your way!”

And the scholars bade them farewell with tears.

When they reached home the gates and doors had long since vanished, and the people of the village were all strangers to them. They crowded about the scholars and asked who they might be.

“We are Liu Tschen and Yuan Dschau. Only a few days ago we went into the hills to pick herbs!”

With that a servant came hastening up and looked at them. At last he fell at Liu Tschen’s feet with great joy and cried: “Yes, you are really my master!

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