Without further delay the sick girl, who was by this time almost burned away by the fever, raised her hand to her lips and swallowed the tiny charm. Wonder of wonders! No sooner had it passed her lips than a miracle occurred. The red flush passed away from her face, the pulse resumed its normal beat, the pains departed from her body, and she arose from the bed well and smiling.
Flinging her arms about her father’s neck, she cried out in joy, “Oh, I am well again; well and happy; thanks to the medicine of the good physician.”
The noble dog barked three times, wild with delight at hearing these tearful words of gratitude, bowed low, and put his nose in Honeysuckle’s outstretched hand.
Mr. Min, greatly moved by his daughter’s magical recovery, turned to the strange physician, saying, “Noble Sir, were it not for the form you have taken, for some unknown reason, I would willingly give four times the sum in silver that I promised for the cure of the girl, into your possession. As it is, I suppose you have no use for silver, but remember that so long as we live, whatever we have is yours for the asking, and I beg of you to prolong your visit, to make this the home of your old age – in short, remain here for ever as my guest – nay, as a member of my family.”
The dog barked three times, as if agreeing. From that day he was treated as an equal by father and daughter. The many servants were commanded to obey his slightest whim, to serve him with the most expensive food on the market, to spare no expense in making him the happiest and best-fed dog in all the world. Day after day he ran at Honeysuckle’s side as she gathered flowers in her garden, lay down before her door when she was resting, guarded her Sedan chair when she was carried by servants into the city. In short, they were constant companions; a stranger would have thought they had been friends from childhood.
One day, however, just as they were returning from a journey outside her father’s compound, at the very instant when Honeysuckle was alighting from her chair, without a moment’s warning, the huge animal dashed past the attendants, seized his beautiful mistress in his mouth, and before anyone could stop him, carried her off to the mountains. By the time the alarm was sounded, darkness had fallen over the valley and as the night was cloudy no trace could be found of the dog and the little girl.
Once more the frantic father left no stone unturned to save his daughter. Huge
rewards were offered, bands of woodmen scoured the mountains high and low, but, alas, no sign of the girl could be found! The unfortunate father gave up the search and began to prepare himself for the grave. There was nothing now left in life that he cared for – nothing but thoughts of his departed daughter. Honeysuckle was gone for ever.
Several long years passed by; years of sorrow for the ageing man, pining for his
departed daughter. One beautiful October day he was sitting in the very same pavilion where he had so often sat with his darling. His head was bowed forward on his breast, his forehead was lined with grief. A rustling of leaves attracted his attention. He looked up. Standing directly in front of him was Doctor Dog, and lo, riding on his back, clinging to the animal’s shaggy hair, was Honeysuckle, his long-lost daughter; while standing near by were three of the handsomest boys he had ever set eyes upon!
“Ah, my daughter! My darling daughter, where have you been all these years?” cried the delighted father, pressing the girl to his aching breast. “Have you suffered many a cruel pain since you were snatched away so suddenly? Has your life been filled with sorrow?”
“Only at the thought of your grief,” she replied, tenderly, stroking his forehead with her slender fingers; “only at the thought of your suffering; only at the thought of how I should like to see you every day and tell you that my husband was kind and good to me. For you must know, dear father, this is no mere animal that stands beside you. This Doctor Dog, who cured me and claimed me as his bride because of your promise, is a great magician. He can change himself at will into a thousand shapes. He chooses to come here in the form of a mountain beast so that no one may find out the secret of his distant palace.”
“Then he is your husband?” faltered the old man, gazing at the animal with a new expression on his wrinkled face.
“Yes; my kind and noble husband, the father of my three sons, your grandchildren, whom we have brought to pay you a visit.”
“And where do you live?”
“In a wonderful cave in the heart of the great mountains; a beautiful cave whose walls and floors are covered with crystals, and encrusted with sparkling gems. The chairs and tables are set with jewels; the rooms are lighted by a thousand glittering diamonds. Oh, it is lovelier than the palace of the Son of Heaven himself! We breathe fragrant air that blows through forests of pine and hemlock. We live only to love each other and our children, and oh, we are so happy! And you, father, you must come back with us to the great mountains and live there with us the rest of your days, which, the gods grant, may be very many.”
The old man pressed his daughter once more to his breast and hugged the children, who clambered over him rejoicing at the discovery of a grandfather they had never seen before.
From Doctor Dog and his fair Honeysuckle are descended, it is said, the well-known race of people called the Yus, who even now inhabit the mountainous regions of the Canton and Hunan provinces. It is not for this reason, however, that we have told the story here, but because we felt sure every reader would like to learn the secret of the dog that cured a sick girl and won her for his bride.