The Retainer’s Story

The retainers despaired as they watched their prince disappear into the desert, as his figure shrunk into a distant speck. “We must follow him immediately, of course,” said the youngest of the group, a black rabbit called Wan-ui.

Wan-ui had only just been appointed a retainer, and she took her job very seriously. Truthfully, she was in love with the young prince.

Her suggestion to follow the prince was shot down. “Even if he manages to survive the desert, we would serve him better by tracking around this sand-trap, where we can rendezvous with him on the far side.”

“He has dismissed us,” argued another rabbit. “We would be going against his wishes if we followed him now.”

A third said: “The young prince’s mind has been uneasy, as of late. I believe he wishes to make this journey alone, as a simple common rabbit. If we accompany him it will be no different from the warren; he will be burdened by his station.”

The other retainers agreed and returned to the burrow. Only Wan-ui remained behind.

She took a long, winding passage around the desert through a rancid and poisonous bog. She ran for days without rest, hoping to catch the prince as he exited the desert. But the noxious fumes of the bog slowed her passage, and she fell ill with a terrible sickness. Her head swam with fever, strange images flooded her mind, and she forgot many things.

A band of frogs found her near the brink of death, took her in, and nursed her back to health. She was bedridden for many days.

When her fever broke and she woke from her delirium, there was only one thing on her mind: Nin, the rabbit prince. She set off at once, but when she arrived at the mouth of the desert, she knew that she was far too late, and Nin had long since come and gone.

Her mission, it seemed, had just begun.