Messages of Love Sent from Afar
According to a tale in StoriestoAwakenthe World , Miss Zhou ran across Mr. Fan Erlang in a tea house in a bustling Dongjing street (then the capital) during the reign of Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty. They gazed at each other's eyes and fell in love at first sight.
The crowded street was crammed full of throngs of visitors. Miss Zhou thought to herself, “If I let this man go, where might I find the love of my life?” She thought quickly and asked a street vendor to sell her a bowl of sugar water. After taking a sip, she cried, “What is the meaning of this? Don’t you know who I am? I am the daughter of Zhou Dalang of Caomenli. My nickname is the Triumphant Angel Maiden. Those names should mean something to you! In my 18 years of life, no one has ever plotted against me like this. You are the first to conspire against a chaste young vestal virgin like me. ” This was her roundabout way of revealing her personal information to him.
Fan Erlang understood what she meant and followed suit. He also bought a bowl of sugar water from the same vendor and made a big show of it crying, “You must really love plotting against others! Don’t you know who I am? My elder brother is the owner of the Fanlou Hotel and he has never treated a patron with such impudence. His name is Fan Dalang, and my name is Fan Erlang. These names should mean something to you! In my 19 years on this earth no one has ever conspired against me as you do now. I’m a master archer, and yet unbetrothed.”
So what was this “sugar water conspiracy”? It seemed so queer. But Miss Zhou and Fan Erlang insisted that there was a stalk of grass in it.
However, even if they were the victims of some dastardly grass-in-the-sugar-water conspiracy, they did not blame the street vendor. The drinker’s heart is not in the cup. But the poor vendor was at his wits end and actually believed that something had tainted the sugar water he was selling that day. (From
, Issue 29, 2017. Translation: Chen Jiani)