A Feast of Lanterns, by L. Cranmer-Byng, , at sacred-texts.com
The story of the beautiful Chao-Chün is a favourite theme of Chinese poets and ballad-mongers. The Emperor Kaotsu, the founder of the glorious Han dynasty, made a treaty with a certain Prince of the Huns, who as a pledge of its fulfilment demanded the hand of "a flower from the palace of the Hans." Kaotsu sent a messenger to the capital with orders that all the girls in the palace apartments awaiting a summons from the Emperor should have their portraits painted. When this was done he chose from the number the dullest and most insipid, and commanded the original to be brought into his presence before sending her to the Prince. The astonished Court then beheld a girl whose beauty enchanted all eyes, a vision of loveliness unsurpassed. But the Emperor's word was final, and Chao-Chün crossed the border to her lifelong exile. The Emperor wreaked his vengeance on the faithless painter whose lying portrait was the cause of her sacrifice, but her lost charms obsessed him, and he could never forget. Vainly the caravan of a hundred camels, laden with gold, the ransom for an Empress, set out for the country of the Huns. Their Prince refused all offers for her while she lived, and when she died even the last honour of burial in her native land was rejected.