In china in a distant part of the country it's name long forgotten, lay a small town with a king who ruled selfishly for years on end. He raised taxes at high prices and if a family was too poor, he would charge double. He had a fair sweet daughter Mai with black hair like silk and almond eyes, as sweet as honey she was but she had a secret ... she and the gardener Chang were deeply in love. Now the king kept Mai in a small tower with an entrance to a magnificent garden and every night two doves would carry small messages between them.
The king loved yen (china's currency) and decided to pay an old lord named sou-yang, sou-yang was rich but very ugly and said he would pay millions of rubies and gold pieces even rich spices for Mai's hand in marriage. So as you would think it was in the king's impure nature to agree.
On the day of the wedding Chang had plans of his own dressed as a bus boy, he came into Mai's chamber and they ran to a far land down south. After four years of living together happily and marrying, the king found them and commanded his guards to throw both Mai and Chang into a huge labyrinth. Eventually they starved and died in each others arms, but the gods saw their sad story and raised them in the form of immortal doves. Now they will live together for all eternity.
I've forgotten most of the version I learnt but it said that the father chased the lovers over a bridge hence the three figures, that the two were changed into birds in order to fly free together and that their intended home was set on fire.
22nd June 2015
I remember my Nan telling me the story from 70 plus years ago and always believed it to be true, thats childhood for you.