The Strange Tale Of Doctor Dog

: A Chinese Wonder Book

Far up in the mountains of the Province of Hunan in the central part of

China, there once lived in a small village a rich gentleman who had only

one child. This girl, like the daughter of Kwan-yu in the story of the

Great Bell, was the very joy of her father's life.

Now Mr. Min, for that was this gentleman's name, was famous throughout

the whole district for his learning, and, as he was also the owner of

uch property, he spared no effort to teach Honeysuckle the wisdom of

the sages, and to give her everything she craved. Of course this was

enough to spoil most children, but Honeysuckle was not at all like other

children. As sweet as the flower from which she took her name, she

listened to her father's slightest command, and obeyed without ever

waiting to be told a second time.

Her father often bought kites for her, of every kind and shape. There

were fish, birds, butterflies, lizards and huge dragons, one of which

had a tail more than thirty feet long. Mr. Min was very skilful in

flying these kites for little Honeysuckle, and so naturally did his

birds and butterflies circle round and hover about in the air that

almost any little western boy would have been deceived and said, "Why,

there is a real bird, and not a kite at all!" Then again, he would

fasten a queer little instrument to the string, which made a kind of

humming noise, as he waved his hand from side to side. "It is the wind

singing, Daddy," cried Honeysuckle, clapping her hands with joy;

"singing a kite-song to both of us." Sometimes, to teach his little

darling a lesson if she had been the least naughty, Mr. Min would fasten

queerly twisted scraps of paper, on which were written many Chinese

words, to the string of her favourite kite.

"What are you doing, Daddy?" Honeysuckle would ask. "What can those

queer-looking papers be?"

"On every piece is written a sin that we have done."

"What is a sin, Daddy?"

"Oh, when Honeysuckle has been naughty; that is a sin!" he answered

gently. "Your old nurse is afraid to scold you, and if you are to grow

up to be a good woman, Daddy must teach you what is right."

Then Mr. Min would send the kite up high--high over the house-tops,

even higher than the tall Pagoda on the hillside. When all his cord

was let out, he would pick up two sharp stones, and, handing them to

Honeysuckle, would say, "Now, daughter, cut the string, and the wind

will carry away the sins that are written down on the scraps of paper."

"But, Daddy, the kite is so pretty. Mayn't we keep our sins a little

longer?" she would innocently ask.

"No, child; it is dangerous to hold on to one's sins. Virtue is the

foundation of happiness," he would reply sternly, choking back his

laughter at her question. "Make haste and cut the cord."

So Honeysuckle, always obedient--at least with her father--would saw

the string in two between the sharp stones, and with a childish cry of

despair would watch her favourite kite, blown by the wind, sail farther

and farther away, until at last, straining her eyes, she could see it

sink slowly to the earth in some far-distant meadow.

"Now laugh and be happy," Mr. Min would say, "for your sins are all

gone. See that you don't get a new supply of them."

Honeysuckle was also fond of seeing the Punch and Judy show, for,

you must know, this old-fashioned amusement for children was enjoyed

by little folks in China, perhaps three thousand years before your

great-grandfather was born. It is even said that the great Emperor, Mu,

when he saw these little dancing images for the first time, was greatly

enraged at seeing one of them making eyes at his favourite wife. He

ordered the showman to be put to death, and it was with difficulty the

poor fellow persuaded his Majesty that the dancing puppets were not

really alive at all, but only images of cloth and clay.

No wonder then Honeysuckle liked to see Punch and Judy if the Son of

Heaven himself had been deceived by their queer antics into thinking

them real people of flesh and blood.

But we must hurry on with our story, or some of our readers will be

asking, "But where is Dr. Dog? Are you never coming to the hero of this

tale?" One day when Honeysuckle was sitting inside a shady pavilion that

overlooked a tiny fish-pond, she was suddenly seized with a violent

attack of colic. Frantic with pain, she told a servant to summon her

father, and then without further ado, she fell over in a faint upon the


When Mr. Min reached his daughter's side, she was still unconscious.

After sending for the family physician to come post haste, he got his

daughter to bed, but although she recovered from her fainting fit, the

extreme pain continued until the poor girl was almost dead from


Now, when the learned doctor arrived and peered at her from under his

gigantic spectacles, he could not discover the cause of her trouble.

However, like some of our western medical men, he did not confess his

ignorance, but proceeded to prescribe a huge dose of boiling water, to

be followed a little later by a compound of pulverized deer's horn and

dried toadskin.

Poor Honeysuckle lay in agony for three days, all the time growing

weaker and weaker from loss of sleep. Every great doctor in the district

had been summoned for consultation; two had come from Changsha, the

chief city of the province, but all to no avail. It was one of those

cases that seem to be beyond the power of even the most learned

physicians. In the hope of receiving the great reward offered by the

desperate father, these wise men searched from cover to cover in the

great Chinese Cyclopedia of Medicine, trying in vain to find a method of

treating the unhappy maiden. There was even thought of calling in a

certain foreign physician from England, who was in a distant city, and

was supposed, on account of some marvellous cures he had brought to

pass, to be in direct league with the devil. However, the city

magistrate would not allow Mr. Min to call in this outsider, for fear

trouble might be stirred up among the people.

Mr. Min sent out a proclamation in every direction, describing his

daughter's illness, and offering to bestow on her a handsome dowry and

give her in marriage to whoever should be the means of bringing her back

to health and happiness. He then sat at her bedside and waited, feeling

that he had done all that was in his power. There were many answers to

his invitation. Physicians, old and young, came from every part of the

Empire to try their skill, and when they had seen poor Honeysuckle and

also the huge pile of silver shoes her father offered as a wedding gift,

they all fought with might and main for her life; some having been

attracted by her great beauty and excellent reputation, others by the

tremendous reward.

But, alas for poor Honeysuckle! Not one of all those wise men could cure

her! One day, when she was feeling a slight change for the better, she

called her father, and, clasping his hand with her tiny one said, "Were

it not for your love I would give up this hard fight and pass over into

the dark wood; or, as my old grandmother says, fly up into the Western

Heavens. For your sake, because I am your only child, and especially

because you have no son, I have struggled hard to live, but now I feel

that the next attack of that dreadful pain will carry me away. And oh,

I do not want to die!"

Here Honeysuckle wept as if her heart would break, and her old father

wept too, for the more she suffered the more he loved her.

Just then her face began to turn pale. "It is coming! The pain is

coming, father! Very soon I shall be no more. Good-bye, father!

Good-bye; good----." Here her voice broke and a great sob almost broke

her father's heart. He turned away from her bedside; he could not bear

to see her suffer. He walked outside and sat down on a rustic bench; his

head fell upon his bosom, and the great salt tears trickled down his

long grey beard.

As Mr. Min sat thus overcome with grief, he was startled at hearing a

low whine. Looking up he saw, to his astonishment, a shaggy mountain dog

about the size of a Newfoundland. The huge beast looked into the old

man's eyes with so intelligent and human an expression, with such a sad

and wistful gaze, that the greybeard addressed him, saying, "Why have

you come? To cure my daughter?"

The dog replied with three short barks, wagging his tail vigorously and

turning toward the half-opened door that led into the room where the

girl lay.

By this time, willing to try any chance whatever of reviving his

daughter, Mr. Min bade the animal follow him into Honeysuckle's

apartment. Placing his forepaws upon the side of her bed, the dog looked

long and steadily at the wasted form before him and held his ear

intently for a moment over the maiden's heart. Then, with a slight cough

he deposited from his mouth into her outstretched hand, a tiny stone.

Touching her wrist with his right paw, he motioned to her to swallow the


"Yes, my dear, obey him," counselled her father, as she turned to him

inquiringly, "for good Dr. Dog has been sent to your bedside by the

mountain fairies, who have heard of your illness and who wish to invite

you back to life again."

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


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 thrice, as if in assent. 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, bore 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 his fair burden.

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.

"Alas!" said he, quoting the lines of a famous poet who had fallen into


"My whiting hair would make an endless rope,

Yet would not measure all my depth of woe."

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 Dr. 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 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.