When, with the malevolent moon, the
barbarian Siamese Thais came to the mountains of the Sun, Mun-Ha was living in
the Temple of Lao-Tsun. Mun-Ha, the most precious among the most precious, for
whom the god Song-Hio had woven the beard of gold. This venerable priest had
ever lived in rapt contemplation of Tsun-Kyankse, the goddess with eyes of
sapphire who presided over the transmutation of souls about to receive their
dues, whose searching gaze none could evade. Mun-Ha had an oracle who dictated
his decisions, and this was his cat Sinh, whom the kittahs fervently revered.
Seated close to his dread master, Sinh lived in the contemplation of the goddess.
The beautiful animal His eyes were yellow like gold from the reflection of the
metallic beard of Mun-Ha, yellow like the amber body of the goddess with the
One night, at the rising of the moon, the Thais menacingly approached the sacred
Temple. Then, invoking destiny, Mun-Ha died, weighed down by years and anguish.
He died in the presence of his goddess ; close beside him was his divine cat,
and the kittahs lamented their cruel loss. But suddenly, the miracle of
immediate transmutation took place. Sinh bounded on to the holy Throne.
Supported on the head of his stricken master he faced the goddess. And the hair
along his spine blanched to a golden hue. His eyes, golden of the gold of the
beard woven by the god Song-Hio—his eyes changed to blue—immense, abysmal,
sapphire—like to the eyes of the goddess. His four feet, brown as the earth, his
four feet which contacted the venerable skull, whitened to the claws, to the
toe-tips, thus purified by the touch of the puissant dead.
Sinh turned towards the South Door, his imperious gaze, in which could be read
an imperative order, possessed of an invincible force the kittahs obeyed. Then
they closed on the ancestral enemy the bronze doors of the holy Temple, and
passing by their subterranean tunnel they routed the profane invaders. " Sinh
refused all nourishment, and would not quit his Throne. He continued standing
erect and facing the goddess—mysterious priest—fixing his steadfast gaze on her
eyes of sapphire, partaking' of their fire and sweetness.
Seven days after the death of Mun-Ha, erect on his purified feet of white,
without lowering an eyelash, he died. Thus was borne away towards Tsun-Kyankse
the soul of Mun-Ha, which was too perfect for earth. But, for the last time, his
look turned slowly towards the South Door
Seven days after the death of Sinh the kittahs assembled before Tsun-Kyankse to
choose the successor of Mun-Ha. Then —Oh wonder !—There came in slow procession
the hundred cats of the Temple. Their feet were gloved in white ; their snowy
hair emitted the reflection of gold, and the topazes of their eyes had changed
The kittahs fell prostrate in an attitude of devout fear, and waited. Did they
not know that the souls of their masters inhabited the harmonious forms of the
sacred animals ? And these, solemn and grave, surrounded Legoa—the most youthful
of the priests—and so revealed the will of Heaven. When a sacred cat dies in the
temple of Lao-Tsun, the soul of a kittah re-enters—to quit no more—the
mysterious paradise of Song-Hio, the god of gold. Unhappy are those who even
involuntarily hasten the end of these formidable and venerable cats : the most
dreadful torments are reserved for them, that the soul in pain may be appeased."
(From the French of Marcelle Adam.)