“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 Dr. 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 penetrate 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 feed of the flesh of wild deer and mountain goats, and fish from the clearest mountain stream. We drink cold water out of golden goblets, without first boiling it, for it is purity itself. 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 fondled the children, who clambered over him rejoicing at the discovery of a grandfather they had never seen before.
From Dr. Dog and his fair Honeysuckle are sprung, 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.
LET’S CHAT ABOUT THE STORIES ~ IDEAS FOR TALKING WITH KIDS
1. Mr Min loved his daughter Honeysuckle very much. How are some of the ways that he showed her he loved her, as she grew?
2. Do you think that Honeysuckle loved her father as much as he loved her? Why or why not?
3. Why do you think Mr Min wanted to trust Doctor Dog to help Honeysuckle get better?
4. If you were Mr Min, would you have let the dog help Honeysuckle? Why or why not?