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The Tiantai Mountain

In the fifth year of Yong Ping (A.D. 62) in the reign of Emperor Ming of the Han Dynasty, Liu Chen and Yuan Zhao of Yanxian went to Tiantai Mountain to collect husks, but lost their way and could not find the road home. After thirteen days their rations were exhausted and they were dying of hunger, when they saw in the distance on the mountain a peach tree laden with fruit. Though it stood on a precipice over a fearful chasm and there was no path, they pulled themselves up by the creepers till they reached the top. After eating several peaches, their hunger abated and their strength returned. Coming down they saw some fresh turnip leaves floating down the gully. Then a wooden cup floated out with cooked sesame in it.
      "There must be men living near by," they said.
       So they swam upstream for two or three li, until they passed the mountain and came to a large stream.
   By the stream were two divinely beautiful girls. They smiled when they saw the men coming with the cup.
   "Mr. Liu and Mr. Yuan have brought back our lost cup," they said.
Liu and Yuan had never met these girls before, but since the latter called them by their names as if they were old friends, they greeted them cheerfully in return.
"Why have you been so long?" asked the girls.
They invited the two men to their home, which was a house with bamboo tiles. By the south and east walls stood two great couches hung with red silk curtains, and the curtains had bells attached to each corner and were woven with gold and silver. Waiting by each couch were some dozen maid-=servants, to whom the girls gave this order:
"Mr. Liu and Mr. Yuan have been traveling in the hills. Though they had peaches to eat, they are still exhausted. Prepare a meal as quickly as you can."
Then they had cooked sesame, cured goat meat and beef, all of which tasted delicious. Wine was served after the food. Then a number of girls came in, each carrying several peaches.
"Congratulations on the bridegrooms arrival!" they said, laughing.
During the drinking, music was performed. Liu and Yuan were both frightened and pleased. At dusk they were led to the couches, and the two girls came to them. Their sweet, tender voices made the men forget their sorrow.
After ten days when they wished to go home, the girls said:"It was your good fortune to come here. Why should you want to leave?"
So they stayed on for six months. Then it was spring when the burgeoning flowers and trees and the chirping birds made them long for home, so they begged to be allowed to go.
"You sins are drawing you away," said the girls. "Why can we do?"
They summoned the other girls, thirty or forty in all, and after a feast with music they saw the two men off, showing them their homeward way.
When Liu and Yuan reached home, they found all their kinsmen and friends had died, the houses looked changed, and there was no one they knew. By dint of inquiries they found a descendant seven generations after them, who said that he had heard they had lost their way in the mountains and never returned.
In the eighth year of Tai Yuan period of the Jin Dynasty (265-420A.D.), they left again and no one knows where they went.


Note: Tiantai Mountain, located in the Tiantai County, Zhejiang Province. It is a very beautiful mountain with many old legends, natural and human landscapes. It was rated as one of the ten greatest tourist attractions of the province in 1992.
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