A String of Chinese Peach Stones

The Lady of the Pomegranate.

A mandarin’s wife of the present dynasty [1818] once prepared a chicken for her invalid mother-in-law, who died soon after, dutiful daughter tried and condemned to death as a poisoner. On her way to the execution ground, she passed a pomegranate tree, and plucked a small twig therefrom. This she planted in the crevice of a wall near, and with eyes raised to heaven, cried, ‘May the sun bear witness to my innocence. If I am guilty, may this branch soon wither; if I am innocent, it will grow and flourish.’

Some time after the execution, the sprig was found to be alive and with flower buds thereon. In course of time it became a good-sized tree. The people, taking this to be a proof of her innocence, erected this stone monument to her on the spot where she met her death.

It has been said that a snake glided down from a beam, tasted the broth, and left poison in the bowl. Or perhaps a little of the comb had got into the broth. “We all know that the redness of the crest is due to the poisonous things chickens eat. The poison flies to the comb as wine to the head of man.”

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