The Frog in the Well
There was a frog that lived in a shallow well.
" Look how well off I am here ! " he told a big turtle from the Eastern Ocean. " I can hop along the coping of the well when I go out, and rest by a crevice in the bricks on my return. I can wallow to my heart's content with only my head above water, or stroll ankle deep through soft mud. No crabs or tadpoles can compare with me. I am master of the water and lord of this shallow well, What more can a fellow ask ? Why don't you come here more often to have a good time ? "
Before the turtle from the Eastern Ocean could get his left foot into the well, however, he caught his right calw on something. So he halted and stepped back then began to describe the ocean to the frog.
" It's more than a thousand miles across and more than ten thousand feet deep. In ancient times there were floods nine years out of ten yet the water in the ocean never increased.
And later there were droughts seven years out of eight yet the water in the ocean never grew less. It has remained quite constant throughtout the ages. That is why I like to live in the Eastern Ocean. "
Then the frog in the shallow well was silent and felt a little abashed.
If you are abashed, you feel embarrassed and ashamed.
When King Chow ordered chopsticks made of ivory, Chi Tzu was most perturbed. For he feared that once the king had ivory chopsticks he would not be content with earthenware, but would want cups of rhinoceros horn and jade ; and instead of beans and vegetables, he would insist on such delicacies as elephant's tail and baby leopard. He would hardly be willing either to wear rough homespun or live under a thatched roof, but would demand silks and splendid mansions.
" It is fear of what this will lead to " said Chi Tzu, " that upsets me. "
Five years later, indeed, King chow had a garden filled with meat, tortured his subjects with hot irons, and caroused in a lake of wine. And so he lost his kingdom.
If someone is perturbed by something, they are worried by it.
If you are content to do something or if you are content with something, you are willing to do, have, or accept that thing, rather than wanting something more or something better.
The fisherman and his friend (1)
In the northern parts of Tzu-chou there lived a man named Hsu, a fisherman by trade. Every night when he went to fish he would carry some wine with him, and drink and fish by turns, always taking care to pour out a libation on the ground, accompanied by the following invocation -- "Drink too, ye drowned spirits of the river !" Such was his regular custom; and it was also noticeable that, even on occasions when the other fishermen caught nothing, he always got a full basket.
One night, as he was sitting drinking by himself, a young man suddenly appeared and began walking up and down near him. Hsu offered him a cup of wine, which was readily accepted, and they remained chatting together throughout the night, Hsu mean- while not catching a single fish. However, just as he was giving up all hope of doing anything, the young man rose and said he would go a little way down the stream and beat them up towards Hsu, which he accordingly did, returning in a few minutes and warning him to be on the lookout. Hsu now heard a noise like that of a shoal coming up the stream, and, casting his net, made a splendid haul, -- all that he caught being over a foot in length.
Greatly delighted, he now prepared to go home, first offering his companion a share of the fish, which the latter declined, saying that he had often received kindnesses from Mr. Hsu, and that he would be only too happy to help him regularly in the same manner if Mr. Hsu would accept his assistance. The latter replied that he did not recollect ever meeting him before, and that he should be much obliged for any aid the young man might choose to afford him; regretting, at the same time, his inability to make him any adequate return. He then asked the young man his name and surname; and the young man said his surname was Wang, adding that Hsu might address him when they met as Wang Liu-lang, he having no other name. Thereupon they parted, and the next day Hsu sold his fish and bought some more wine, with which he repaired as usual to the riverbank. There he found his companion already awaiting him, and they spent the night together in precisely the same way as the preceding one, the young man beating up the fish for him as before.
This went on for some months, until at length one evening the young man, with many expressions of his thanks and his regrets, told Hsu that they were about to part for ever. Much alarmed by the melancholy tone in which his friend had communicated this news, Hsu was on the point of asking for an explanation, when the young man stopped him, and himself proceeded as follows : -- "The friendship that has grown up between us is truly surprising; and, now that we shall meet no more, there is no harm in telling you the whole truth. I am a disembodied spirit -- the soul of one who was drowned in this river when tipsy. I have been here many years, and your former success in fishing was due to the fact that I used secretly to beat up the fish towards you, in return for the libations you were accustomed to pour out. Tomorrow my time is up : my substitute will arrive, and I shall be born again in the world of mortals. We have but this one evening left, and I therefore take advantage of it to express my feelings to you."
On hearing these words, Hsu was at first very much alarmed; however, he had grown so accustomed to his friend's society, that his fears soon passed away; and, filling up a goblet, he said, with a sigh, "Liu-lang, old fellow, drink this up, and away with melancholy. It's hard to lose you; but I'm glad enough for your sake, and won't think of my own sorrow." He then inquired of Liu-lang who was to be his substitute; to which the latter replied, "Come to the riverbank tomorrow afternoon and you'll see a woman drowned : she is the one." Just then the village cocks began to crow, and, with tears in their eyes, the two friends bade each other farewell.
Next day Hsu waited on the riverbank to see if anything would happen, and a woman carrying a child in her arms came along. When close to the edge of the river, she stumbled and fell into the water, managing, however, to throw the child safely on to the bank, where it lay kicking and sprawling and crying at the top of its voice. The woman herself sank and rose several times, until at last she succeeded in clutching hold of the bank and pulled herself, dripping, out; and then, after resting awhile, she picked up the child and went on her way.
All this time Hsu had been in a great state of excitement, and was on the point of running to help the woman out of the water; but he remembered that she was to be the substitute of his friend, and accordingly restrained himself from doing so. Then when he saw the woman get out by herself, he began to suspect that Liu-lang's words had not been fulfilled.
That night he went to fish as usual, and before long the young man arrived and said, "We meet once again: there is no need now to speak of separation." Hsu asked him how it was so; to which he replied, "The woman you saw had already taken my place, but I could not bear to hear the child cry, and I saw that my one life would be purchased at the expense of their two lives, where- fore I let her go, and now I cannot say when I shall have another chance. The union of our destinies may not yet be worked out."
The fisherman and his friend (2)
"Alas!" sighed Hsu, "this noble conduct of yours is enough to move God Almighty."
After this the two friends went on much as they had done before, until one day Liu-lang again said he had come to bid Hsu farewell. Hsu thought he had found another substitute, but Liu-lang told him that his former behavior had so pleased Almighty Heaven, that he had been appointed guardian angel of Wu-chen, in the Chao-yuan district, and that on the following morning he would start for his new post. "And if you do not forget the days of our friendship," added he, "I pray you come and see me, in spite of the long journey."
"Truly," replied Hsu, "you well deserved to be made a God; but the paths of Gods and men lie in different directions, and even if the distance were nothing, how should I manage to meet you again?"
"Don't be afraid on that score," said Liu-lang, "but come;" and then he went away, and Hsu returned home. The latter immediately began to prepare for the journey, which caused his wife to laugh at him and say, "Supposing you do find such a place at the end of that long journey, you won't be able to hold a conversation with a clay image." Hsu, however, paid no attention to her remarks, and travelled straight to Chao-yuan, where he learned from the inhabitants that there really was a village called Wu-chen, whither he forthwith proceeded and took up his abode at an inn.
He then inquired of the landlord where the village temple was; to which the latter replied by asking him somewhat hurriedly if he was speaking to Mr. Hsu. Hsu informed him that his name was Hsu, asking in reply how he came to know it; whereupon the landlord further inquired if his native place was not Tzu-chou. Hsu told him it was, and again asked him how he knew all this; to which the landlord made no answer, but rushed out of the room. Soon the place was crowded with old and young, men, women, and children, all come to visit Hsu. They then told him that a few nights before they had seen their guardian deity in a vision, and he had informed them that Mr. Hsu would shortly arrive, and had bidden them to provide him with traveling expenses.
Hsu was very much astonished at this, and went off at once to the shrine, where he invoked his friend as follows : - "Ever since we parted I have had you daily and nightly in my thoughts; and now that I have fulfilled my promise of coming to see you, I have to thank you for the orders you have issued to the people of the place. As for me, I have nothing to offer you but a cup of wine, which I pray you accept as though we were drinking together on the river-bank." He then burnt a quantity of paper money, when a wind suddenly arose, which, after whirling round and round behind the shrine, soon dropped, and all was still.
That night Hsu dreamed that his friend came to him, dressed in his official cap and robes, and very different in appearance from what he used to be, and thanked him, saying, "It is truly kind of you to visit me thus: I only regret that my position makes me unable to meet you face to face, and that though near we are still so far. The people here will give you a trifle, which pray accept for my sake; and when you go away, I will see you a short way on your journey."
A few days afterwards Hsu prepared to start, in spite of the numerous invitations to stay which poured in upon him from all sides; and then the inhabitants loaded him with presents of all kinds, and escorted him out of the village. There a whirlwind arose and accompanied him several miles, when he turned round and invoked his friend thus : - "Liu-lang, take care of your valued person. Do not trouble yourself to come any farther. Your noble heart will ensure happiness to this district, and there is no occasion for me to give a word of advice to my old friend." By-and-by the whirlwind ceased, and the villagers, who were much astonished, returned to their own homes.
Hsu, too, traveled homewards, and being now a man of some means, ceased to work any more as a fisherman. And whenever he met a Chao-yuan man he would ask him about that guardian angel, being always informed in reply that he was a most beneficent God. Some say the place was Shih-keng-chuang, in Chang-chin : I can't say which it was myself.
The flower nymphs (1)
At the lower temple on Mount Lao the camellias are twenty feet in height, and many spans in circumference. The peonies are more than ten feet high; and when the flowers are in bloom the effect is that of a gorgeous tapestry.
There was a Mr. Huang, of Chiao-chow, who built himself a house at that spot, for the purpose of study; and one day he saw from his window a young lady dressed in white wandering about amongst the flowers. Reflecting that she could not possibly be- long to the monastery, he went out to meet her, but she had already disappeared. After this he frequently observed her, and once hid himself in a thick-foliaged bush, waiting for her to come.
By-and-by she appeared, bringing with her another young lady dressed in red, who, as he noticed from his distant point of observation, was an exceedingly good-looking girl. When they approached nearer, the young lady in the red dress ran back, saying, "There is a man here!" whereupon Mr. Huang jumped out upon them, and away they went in a scare, with their skirts and long sleeves fluttering in the breeze, and perfuming the air round. Huang pursued them as far as a low wall, where they suddenly vanished from his gaze. In great distress at thus losing the fair creatures, he took a pencil and wrote upon a tree the following lines: -
The pangs of love my heart enthrall
As I stand opposite this wall.
I dread some hateful tyrant's power,
With none to save you in that hour.
Returning home he was absorbed in his own thought, when all at once the young lady walked in, and he rose up joyfully to meet her. "I thought you were a brigand," said his visitor, smiling; "you nearly frightened me to death. I did not know you were a great scholar whose acquaintance I now hope to have the honour of making." Mr. Huang asked the young lady her name, &c., to which she replied, "My name is Hsiang-yu, and I belong to Ping-kang-hsiang; but a magician has condemned me to remain on this hill much against my own inclination."
"Tell me his name," cried Huang, "and I'll soon set you free."
"There is no need for that," answered the young lady; "I suffer no injury from him, and the place is not an inconvenient one for making the acquaintance of such worthy gentlemen as your- self." Huang then inquired who was the young lady in red, and she told him that her name was Chiang-hsueh, and that they were half-sisters; "and now," added she, "I will sing you a song; but please don't laugh at me." She then began as follows: -
In pleasant company the hours fly fast,
And through the window daybreak peeps at last.
Ah, would that, like the swallow and his mate,
To live together were our happy fate.
Huang here grasped her hand and said, "Beauty without and intellect within - enough to make a man love you and forget all about death, only one day's absence being like the separation of a thousand miles. I pray you come again whenever an opportunity may present itself."
From this time the young lady would frequently walk in to have a chat, but would never bring her sister with her in spite of all Mr. Huang's entreaties. Huang thought they weren't friends, but Hsiang said her sister did not care for society in the same way that she herself did, promising at the same time to try and persuade her to come at some future day. One evening Hsiang-yu arrived in a melancholy frame of mind, and told Huang that he was wanting more when he couldn't even keep what he had got; "for to-morrow," said she, "we part." Huang asked what she meant; and then, wiping away her tears with her sleeve, Hsiang-yu declared it was destiny, and that she couldn't well tell him. "Your former prophecy," continued she, "has come too true; and now it may well be said of me -
Fallen into the tyrant's power,
With none to save me in that hour."
The flower nymphs (2)
Huang again tried to question her, but she would tell him no- thing; and by-and-by she rose and took her leave. This seemed very strange; however, next day a visitor came, who, after wandering round the garden, was much taken with a white peony, which he dug up and carried away with him. Huang now awaked to the fact that Hsiang-yu was a flower nymph, and became very disconsolate in consequence of what had happened; but when he subsequently heard that the peony only lived a few days after being taken away, he wept bitterly, and composed an elegy in fifty stanzas, besides going daily to the hole from which it had been taken, and watering the ground with his tears.
One day, as he was returning thence, he espied the young lady of the red clothes also wiping away her tears alongside the hole, and immediately walked back gently towards her. She did not run away, and Huang, grasping her sleeve, joined with her in her lamentations. When these were concluded he invited her to his house, and then she burst out with a sigh, saying, "Alas! that the sister of my early years should be thus suddenly taken from me. Hearing you, Sir, mourn as you did, I have also been moved to tears. Those you shed have sunk down deep to the realms below, and may perhaps succeed in restoring her to us; but the sympathies of the dead are destroyed for ever, and how then can she laugh and talk with us again?"
"My luck is bad," said Huang, "that I should injure those I love, neither can I have the good fortune to draw towards me another such a beauty. But tell me, when I often sent messages by Hsiang-yu to you, why did you not come?"
"I knew," replied she, "what nine young fellows out of ten are; but I did not know what you were." She then took leave, Huang telling her how dull he felt without Hsiang-yu, and begging her to come again.
For some days she did not appear; and Huang remained in a state of great melancholy, tossing and turning on his bed and wetting the pillow with his tears, until one night he got up, put on his clothes, and trimmed the lamp; and having called for pen and ink, he composed the following lines: -
On my cottage roof the evening rain-drops beat;
I draw the blind and near the window take my seat.
To my longing gaze no loved one appears;
Drip, drip, drip, drip: fast flow my tears.
This he read aloud; and when he had finished, a voice outside said, "You want some one to cap your verses there!" Listening attentively, he knew it was Chiang-hsueh; and opening the door he let her in. She looked at his stanza, and added impromptu -
She is no longer in the room;
A single lamp relieves the gloom;
One solitary man is there;
He and his shadow make a pair.
As Huang read these words his tears fell fast; and then, turning to Chiang-hsueh, he upbraided her for not having been to see him. "I can't come so often as Hsiang-yu did," replied she, "but only now and then when you are very dull."
After this she used to drop in occasionally, and Huang said Hsiang-yu was his beloved wife, and she his dear friend, always trying to find out every time she came which flower in the garden she was, that he might bring her home with him, and save her from the fate of Hsiang-yu. "The old earth should not be disturbed," said she, "and it would not do any good to tell you. If you couldn't keep your wife always with you, how will you be sure of keeping a friend?" Huang, however, paid no heed to this, and seizing her arm, led her out into the garden, where he stopped at every peony and asked if this was the one; to which Chiang-hsueh made no reply, but only put her hand to her mouth and laughed merrily.
At New Year's time Huang went home, and a couple of months afterwards he dreamt that Chiang-hsueh came to tell him she was in great trouble, begging him to hurry off as soon as possible to her rescue. When he woke up, he thought his dream a very strange one; and ordering his servant and horses to be ready, started at once for the hills. There he found that the priests were about to build a new room; and finding a camellia in the way, the con- tractor had given orders that it should be cut down. Huang now understood his dream, and immediately took steps to prevent the destruction of the flower.
That night, Chiang-hsueh came to thank him, and Huang laughed and said, "It serves you right for not telling me which you were. Now I know you, and if you don't come and see me, I'll get a firebrand and make it hot for you."
The flower nymphs (3)
"That's just why I didn't tell you before," replied she.
"The presence of my dear friend," said Huang, after a pause, "makes me think more of my lost wife. It is long since I have mourned for her. Shall we go and bemoan her loss together?" So they went off and shed many a tear on the spot where formerly Hsiang-yu had stood, until at last Chiang-hsueh wiped her eyes and said it was time to go.
A few evenings later Huang was sitting alone, when suddenly Chiang-hsueh entered, her face radiant with smiles. "Good news!" cried she, "the Flower-God, moved by your tears, has granted Hsiang-yu a return to life. Huang was overjoyed, and asked when she would come; to which Chiang-hsueh replied, that she could not say for certain, but that it would not be long.
"I came here on your account," said Huang; "don't let me be duller than you can help."
"All right," answered she, and then went away, not returning for the next two evenings.
Huang then went into the garden and threw his arms around her plant, entreating her to come and see him, though without eliciting any response. He accordingly went back, and began twisting up a torch, when all at once in she came, and snatching the torch out of his hand, threw it away, saying, "You're a bad fellow, and I don't like you, and I shan't have any more to do with you." However, Huang soon succeeded in pacifying her, and by-and-by in walked Hsiang-yu herself. Huang now wept tears of joy as he seized her hand, and drawing Chiang-hsueh towards them, the three friends mingled their tears together.
They then sat down and talked over the miseries of separation, Huang meanwhile noticing that Hsiang-yu seemed to be unsubstantial, and that when he grasped her hand his fingers seemed to close only on themselves, and not as in the days gone by. This Hsiang-yu explained, saying, "When I was a flower-nymph I had a body; but now I am only the disembodied spirit of that flower. Do not regard me as a reality, but rather as an apparition seen in a dream."
"You have come at the nick of time," cried Chiang-hsueh; "your husband there was just getting troublesome." Hsiang-yu now instructed Huang to take a little powdered white-berry, and mixing it with some sulphur, to pour out a libation to her, adding, "This day next year I will return your kindness."
The young ladies then went away, and next day Huang observed the shoots of a young peony growing up where Hsiang-yu had once stood. So he made the libation as she had told him, and had the plant very carefully tended, even building a fence all round to protect it. Hsiang-yu came to thank him for this, and he pro- posed that the plant should be removed to his own home; but to this she would not agree, "for," said she, "I am not very strong, and could not stand being transplanted. Besides, all things have their appointed place; and as I was not originally intended for your home, it might shorten my life to be sent there. We can love each other very well here." Huang then asked why Chiang-hsueh did not come; to which Hsiang-yu replied that they must make her, and proceeded with him into the garden, where, after picking a blade of grass, she measured upwards from the roots of Chiang-hsueh's plant to a distance of four feet six inches, at which point she stopped, and Huang began to scratch a mark on the place with his nails.
At that moment Chiang-hsueh came from behind the plant, and in mock anger cried out, "You hussy you! what do you aid that wretch for ?"
"Don't be angry, my dear," said Hsiang-yu; "help me to amuse him for a year only, and then you shan't be bothered any more." So they went on, Huang watching the plant thrive, until by the spring it was over two feet in height. He then went home, giving the priests a handsome present, and bidding them take great care of it.
Next year, in the fourth moon, he returned and found upon the plant a bud just ready to break; and as he was walking round, the stem shook violently as if it would snap, and suddenly the bud opened into a flower as large as a plate, disclosing a beautiful maiden within, sitting upon one of the pistils, and only a few inches in height. In the twinkling of an eye she had jumped out, and lo! it was Hsiang-yu. "Through the wind and the rain I have waited for you," cried she; "why have you come so late?" They then went into the house, where they found Chiang-hsueh already arrived, and sat down to enjoy themselves as they had done in former times.
Shortly afterwards Huang's wife died, and he took up his abode at Mount Lao for good and all. The peonies were at that time as large as one's arm; and whenever Huang went to look at them, he always said, "Some day my spirit will be there by your side;" to which the two girls used to reply with a laugh, and say, "Mind you don't forget."
Ten years after these events, Huang became dangerously ill, and his son, who had come to see him, was very much distressed about him. "I am about to be born," cried his father; "I am not going to die. Why do you weep?" He also told the priests that if later on they should see a red shoot, with five leaves, thrusting itself forth alongside of the peony, that would be himself. This was all he said, and his son proceeded to convey him home, where he died immediately on arrival.
Next year a shoot did come up exactly as he had mentioned; and the priests, struck by the coincidence, watered it and supplied it with earth. In three years it was a tall plant, and a good span in circumference, but without flowers. When the old priest died, the others took no care of it; and as it did not flower they cut it down. The white peony then faded and died; and before long the camellia was dead too.
Football on the Tung-ting lake
Wang Shih-hsiu was a native of Lu-chou, and such a lusty fellow that he could pick up a stone mortar. Father and son were both good football players; but when the former was about forty years of age he was drowned while crossing the Money Pool.
Some eight or nine years later our hero happened to be on his way to Hunan; and anchoring in the Tung-ting lake, watched the moon rising in the east and illuminating the water into a bright sheet of light. While he was thus engaged, lo! from out of the lake emerged five men, bringing with them a large mat, which they spread on the surface of the water so as to cover about six yards square. Wine and food were then arranged upon it, and Wang heard the sound of the dishes knocking together, but it was a dull, soft sound, not at all like that of ordinary crockery.
Three of the men sat down on the mat and the other two waited upon them. One of the former was dressed in yellow, the other two in white, and each wore a black turban. Their demeanor as they sat there side by side was grave and dignified; in appearance they resembled three of the ancients, but by the fitful beams of the moon Wang was unable to see very clearly what they were like. The attendants wore black serge dresses, and one of them seemed to be a boy, while the other was many years older.
Wang now heard the man in the yellow dress say, "This is truly a fine moonlight night for a drinking bout;" to which one of his companions replied, "It quite reminds me of the night when Prince Kuang-li feasted at Pear-blossom Island." The three then pledged each other in bumping goblets, talking all the time in such a low tone that Wang could not hear what they were saying.
The boatmen kept themselves concealed, crouching down at the bottom of the boat; but Wang looked hard at the attendants, the elder of whom bore a striking resemblance to his father, though he spoke in quite a different tone of voice. When it was drawing towards midnight, one of them proposed a game at ball; and in a moment the boy disappeared in the water, to return immediately with a huge ball -- quite an armful in fact -- apparently full of quicksilver, and lustrous within and without.
All now rose up, and the man in the yellow dress bade the old attendant join them in the game. The ball was kicked up some ten or fifteen feet in the air, and was quite dazzling in its brilliancy; but once, when it had gone up with a whish-h-h-h, it fell at some distance off, right in the very middle of Wang's boat. The occasion was irresistible, and Wang, exerting all his strength, kicked the ball with all his might. It seemed unusually light and soft to the touch, and his foot broke right through. Away went the ball to a good height, pouring forth a stream of light like a rainbow from the hole Wang had made, and making as it fell a curve like that of a comet rushing across the sky. Down it glided into the water, where it fizzed a moment and then went out. "Ho, there!" cried out the players in anger, "what living creature is that who dares thus to interrupt our sport?"
"Well kicked -- indeed!" said the old man, "that's a favorite drop-kick of my own." At this, one of the two in white clothes began to abuse him saying,
"What ! you old baggage, when we are all so annoyed in this manner, are you to come forward and make a joke of it ? Go at once with the boy and bring back to us this practical joker, or your own back will have a taste of the stick." Wang was of course unable to flee; however, he was not a bit afraid, and grasping a sword stood there in the middle of the boat.
In a moment, the old man and boy arrived, also armed, and then Wang knew that the former was really his father, and called out to him at once, "Father, I am your son." The old man was greatly alarmed, but father and son forgot their troubles in the joy of meeting once again. Meanwhile, the boy went back, and Wang's father bade him hide, or they would all be lost. The words were hardly out of his mouth when the three men jumped on board the boat. Their faces were black as pitch, their eyes as big as pomegranates, and they at once proceeded to seize the old man. Wang struggled hard with them, and managing to get the boat free from her moorings, he seized his sword and cut off one of his adversaries' arms. The arm dropped down and the man in the yellow dress ran away; whereupon one of those in white rushed at Wang, who immediately cut off his head, and he fell into the water with a splash, at which the third disappeared.
Wang and his father were now anxious to get away, when suddenly a great mouth arose from the lake, as big and as deep as a well, and against which they could hear the noise of the water when it struck. This mouth blew forth a violent gust of wind, and in a moment the waves were mountains high and all the boats on the lake were tossing about. The boatmen were terrified, but Wang seized one of two huge stones there were on board for use as anchors, about 130 lb. in weight, and threw it into the water, which immediately began to subside; and then he threw in the other one, upon which the wind dropped, and the lake became calm again.
Wang thought his father was a disembodied spirit, but the old man said, "I never died. There were nineteen of us drowned in the river, all of whom were eaten by the fish-goblins except myself: I was saved because I could play football. Those you saw got into trouble with the Dragon King, and were sent here. They were all marine creatures, and the ball they were playing with was a fish-bladder." Father and son were overjoyed at meeting again, and at once went on their way. In the morning they found in the boat a huge fin -- the arm that Wang had cut off the night before.
A certain governor of Hu-nan despatched a magistrate to the capital in charge of treasure to the amount of six hundred thou- sand ounces of silver. On the road the magistrate encountered a violent storm of rain, which so delayed him that night came on before he was able to reach the next station. He therefore took refuge in an old temple; but when morning came, he was horrified to find that the treasure had disappeared. Unable to fix the guilt on any one, he returned forthwith to the Governor and told him the whole story. The latter, however, refused to believe what the magistrate said, and would have had him severely punished, but that each and all of his attendants stoutly corroborated his statements; and accordingly he bade him return and endeavor to find the missing silver.
When the magistrate got back to the temple, he met an extraordinary-looking blind man, who informed him that he could read people's thoughts, and further went on to say that the magistrate had come there on a matter of money. The latter replied that it was so, and recounted the misfortune that had overtaken him; whereupon the blind man called for sedan-chairs, and told the magistrate to follow and see for himself, which he accordingly did, accompanied by all his retinue.
If the blind man said east, they went east; or if north, north; journeying along for five days until far among the hills, where they beheld a large city with a great number of inhabitants. They entered the gates and proceeded on for a short distance, when suddenly the blind man cried "Stop!" and, alighting from his chair, pointed to a lofty door facing the west, at which he told the magistrate to knock and make what inquiries were necessary. He then bowed and took his leave, and the magistrate obeyed his instructions, whereupon a man came out in reply to his summons. He was dressed in the fashion of the Han dynasty, and did not say what his name was; but as soon as the magistrate informed him wherefore he had come, he replied that if the latter would wait a few days he himself would assist him in the matter. The man then conducted the magistrate within, and giving him a room to himself, provided him regularly with food and drink.
One day he chanced to stroll away to the back of the building, and there found a beautiful garden with dense avenues of pine- trees and smooth lawns of fine grass. After wandering about for some time among the arbours and ornamental buildings, the magistrate came to a lofty kiosque, and mounted the steps, when he saw hanging on the wall before him a number of human skins, each with its eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and heart. Horrified at this, he beat a hasty retreat to his quarters, convinced that he was about to leave his own skin in this out-of-the-way place, and giving himself up for lost. He reflected, however, that he should probably gain nothing by trying to escape, and made up his mind to wait; and on the following day the same man came to fetch him, saying he could now have an audience. The magistrate replied that he was ready; and his conductor then mounted a fiery steed, leaving the other to follow on foot.
By-and-by they reached a door like that leading into a Viceroy's yamen, where stood on either side crowds of official servants, preserving the utmost silence and decorum. The man here dismounted and led the magistrate inside; and after passing through another door they came into the presence of a king, who wore a cap decorated with pearls, and an embroidered sash, and sat facing the south. The magistrate rushed forward and prostrated himself on the ground; upon which the king asked him if he was the Hu-nan official who had been charged with the conveyance of treasure. On his answering in the affirmative, the king said, "The money is all here; it's a mere trifle, but I have no objection to receiving it as a present from the Governor." The magistrate here burst into tears, and declared that his term of grace had already expired: that he would be punished if he went back thus, especially as he would have no evidence to adduce in substantiation of his story. "That is easy enough," replied the king, and put into his hands a thick letter, which he bade him give to the Governor, assuring him that this would prevent him from getting into any trouble. He also provided him with an escort; and the magistrate, who dared not argue the point further, sorrowfully accepted the letter and took his departure.
The road he traveled along was not that by which he had come; and when the hills ended, his escort left him and went back. In a few days more he reached Chang-sha, and respectfully informed the Governor of what had taken place; but the Governor thought he was telling more lies, and in a great rage bade the attendants bind him hand and foot. The magistrate then drew the letter forth from his coat; and when the Governor broke the seal and saw its contents, his face turned deadly pale. He gave orders for the magistrate to be unbound, remarking that the loss of the treasure was of no importance, and that the magistrate was free to go. Instructions were next issued that the amount was to be made up in some way or other and forwarded to the capital; and meanwhile the Governor fell sick and died.
Now this Governor had had a wife of whom he was dotingly fond; and one morning when they waked up, lo! all her hair was gone. The whole establishment was in dismay, no one knowing what to make of such an occurrence. But the letter above- mentioned contained that hair, accompanied by the following words: - "Ever since you first entered into public life your career has been one of peculation and avarice. The six hundred thousand ounces of silver are safely stored in my treasury. Make good this sum from your own accumulated extortions. The officer you charged with the treasure is innocent; he must not be wrongly punished. On a former occasion I took your wife's hair as a gentle warning. If now you disobey my injunctions, it will not be long before I have your head. Herewith I return the hair as an evidence of what I say." When the Governor was dead, his family divulged the contents of the letter; and some of his sub- ordinates sent men to search for the city, but they only found range upon range of inaccessible mountains, with nothing like a road or path.
The Lo-Cha country and the sea-market (1)
Once upon a time there was a young man, named Ma Chun, who was also known as Lung-mei. He was the son of a trader, and a youth of surpassing beauty. His manners were courteous, and he loved nothing better than singing and playing. He used to associate with actors, and with an embroidered handkerchief round his head the effect was that of a beautiful woman. Hence he acquired the sobriquet of the Beauty. At fourteen years of age he graduated and began to make a name for himself; but his father, who was growing old and wished to retire from business, said to him, "My boy, book-learning will never fill your belly or put a coat on your back; you had much better stick to the old thing." Accordingly, Ma from that time occupied himself with scales and weights, with principal and interest, and such matters.
He made a voyage across the sea, and was carried away by a typhoon. After being tossed about for many days and nights he arrived at a country where the people were hideously ugly. When these people saw Ma they thought he was a devil, and all ran screeching away. Ma was somewhat alarmed at this, but finding that it was they who were frightened of him, he quickly turned their fear to his own advantage. If he came across people eating and drinking he would rush upon them, and when they fled away for fear, he would regale himself upon what they had left.
By-and-by he went to a village among the hills, and there the people had at any rate some facial resemblance to ordinary men. But they were all in rags and tatters like beggars. So Ma sat down to rest under a tree and the villagers, not daring to come near him, contented themselves with looking at him from a distance.
They soon found, however, that he did not want to eat them, and by degrees approached a little closer to him. Ma, smiling, began to talk; and although their language was different, yet he was able to make himself tolerably intelligible, and told them whence he had come.
The villagers were much pleased, and spread the news that the stranger was not a man-eater. Nevertheless, the very ugliest of all would only take a look and be off again; they would not come near him. Those who did go up to him were not very much unlike his own countrymen, the Chinese. They brought him plenty of food and wine. Ma asked them what they were afraid of. They replied, "We had heard from our forefathers that 26,000 li to the west there is a country called China. We had heard that the people of that land were the most extraordinary in appearance you can possibly imagine. Hitherto it has been hearsay; we can now believe it." He then asked them how it was they were so poor. They answered, "You see, in our country everything depends, not on literary talent, but on beauty. The most beautiful are made ministers of state; the next handsomest are made judges and magistrates; and the third class in looks are employed in the palace of the king. Thus these are enabled out of their pay to provide for their wives and families. But we, from our very birth, are regarded by our parents as inauspicious, and are left to perish, some of us being occasionally preserved by more humane parents to prevent the extinction of the family."
Ma asked the name of their country, and they told him it was Lo-cha. Also that the capital city was some 30 li to the north. He begged them to take him there, and next day at cock-crow he started thitherwards in their company, arriving just about dawn. The walls of the city were made of black stone, as black as ink, and the city gate-houses were about 100 feet high. Red stones were used for tiles, and picking up a broken piece Ma found that it marked his finger-nail like vermilion.
They arrived just when the Court was rising, and saw all the equipages of the officials. The village people pointed out one who they said was Prime Minister. His ears dropped forward in flaps; he had three nostrils, and his eye-lashes were just like bamboo screens hanging in front of his eyes. Then several came out on horseback, and they said these were the privy councilors. So they went on, telling him the rank of all the ugly uncouth fellows he saw. The lower they got down in the official scale the less hideous the officials were. By-and-by Ma went back, the people in the streets marveling very much to see him, and tumbling helter-skelter one over another as if they had met a goblin. The villagers shouted out to reassure them, and then they stood at a distance to look at him.
When he got back, there was not a man, woman, or child in the whole nation but knew that there was a strange man at the village; and the gentry and officials became very desirous of seeing him. However, if he went to any of their houses the porter always slammed the door in his face, and the master, mistress, and family, in general, would only peep at, and speak to him through the cracks. Not a single one dared receive him face to face; but, finally, the village people, at a loss what to do, be- thought themselves of a man who had been sent by a former king on official business among strange nations. "He," said they, "having seen many kinds of men, will not be afraid of you."
The Lo-Cha country and the sea-market (2)
So they went to his house, where they were received in a very friendly way. He seemed to be about eighty or ninety years of age; his eyeballs protruded, and his beard curled up like a hedgehog. He said, "In my youth I was sent by the king among many nations, but I never went to China. I am now one hundred and twenty years of age, and that I should be permitted to see a native of your country is a fact which it will be my duty to report to the Throne. For ten years and more I have not been to Court, but have remained here in seclusion; yet I will now make an effort on your behalf." Then followed a banquet, and when the wine had already circulated pretty freely, some dozen singing girls came in and sang and danced before them. The girls all wore white embroidered turbans, and long scarlet robes which trailed on the ground. The words they uttered were unintelligible, and the tunes they played perfectly hideous. The host, however, seemed to enjoy it very much, and said to Ma, "Have you music in China ?" He replied that they had, and the old man asked for a specimen. Ma hummed him a tune, beating time on the table, with which he was very much pleased, declaring that his guest had the voice of a phoenix and the notes of a dragon, such as he had never heard before.
The next day he presented a memorial to the Throne, and the king at once commanded Ma to appear before him. Several of the ministers, however, represented that his appearance was so hideous it might frighten His Majesty, and the king accordingly desisted from his intention. The old man returned and told Ma, being quite upset about it. They remained together some time until they had drunk themselves tipsy. Then Ma, seizing a sword, began to attitudinise, smearing his face all over with coal-dust. He acted the part of Chang Fei, at which his host was so delighted that he begged him to appear before the Prime Minister in the character of Chang Fei. Ma replied, "I don't mind a little amateur acting, but how can I play the hypocrite for my own personal advantage?" On being pressed he consented, and the old man prepared a great feast, and asked some of the high officials to be present, telling Ma to paint himself as before.
When the guests had arrived, Ma was brought out to see them; whereupon they all exclaimed, "Ai-yah! how is it he was so ugly before and is now so beautiful?" By-and-by, when they were all taking wine together, Ma began to sing them a most bewitching song, and they got so excited over it that next day they recommended him to the king. The king sent a special summons for him to appear, and asked him many questions about the government of China, to all of which Ma replied in detail, eliciting sighs of admiration from His Majesty.
He was honored with a banquet in the royal guest-pavilion, and when the king had made himself tipsy he said to him, "I hear you are a very skilful musician. Will you be good enough to let me hear you?" Ma then got up and began to attitudinise, singing a plaintive air like the girls with the turbans. The king was charmed, and at once made him a privy councilor, giving him a private banquet, and bestowing other marks of royal favor.
As time went on his fellow officials found out the secret of his painted face, and whenever he was among them they were always whispering together, besides which they avoided being near him as much as possible. Thus Ma was left to himself, and found his position anything but pleasant in consequence. So he memorialised the Throne, asking to be allowed to retire from office, but his request was refused. He then said his health was bad, and got three month's sick leave, during which he packed up his valuables and went back to the village.
The villagers on his arrival went down on their knees to him, and he distributed gold and jewels amongst his old friends. They were very glad to see him, and said, "Your kindness shall be repaid when we go to the sea-market; we will bring you some pearls and things." Ma asked them where that was. They said it was at the bottom of the sea, where the mermaids' kept their treasures, and that as many as twelve nations were accustomed to go thither to trade. Also that it was frequented by spirits, and that to get there it was necessary to pass through red vapors and great waves. "Dear Sir," they said, "do not yourself risk this great danger, but let us take your money and purchase these rare pearls for you. The season is now at hand." Ma asked them how they knew this. They said, "Whenever we see red birds flying backwards and forwards over the sea, we know that within seven days the market will open." He asked when they were going to start, that he might accompany them; but they begged him not to think of doing so. He replied, "I am a sailor: how can I be afraid of wind and waves ?" Very soon after this people came with merchandise to forward, and so Ma packed up and went on board the vessel that was going.
This vessel held some tens of people, was flat-bottomed, with a railing all round, and, rowed by ten men, it cut through the water like an arrow. After a voyage of three days they saw afar off faint outlines of towers and minarets, and crowds of trading vessels. They soon arrived at the city, the walls of which were made of bricks as long as a man's body, the tops of its buildings being lost in the Milky Way.
The Lo-Cha country and the sea-market (3)
Having made fast their boat, they went in, and saw laid out in the market rare pearls and wondrous precious stones of dazzling beauty, such as are quite unknown amongst men. Then they saw a young man come forth riding upon a beautiful steed. The people of the market stood back to let him pass, saying he was the third son of the king; but when the prince saw Ma, he exclaimed, "This is no foreigner," and immediately an attendant drew near and asked his name and country. Ma made a bow, and standing at one side told his name and family. The prince smiled, and said, "For you to have honored our country thus is no small piece of good luck." He then gave him a horse and begged him to follow.
They went out of the city gate and down to the sea-shore, whereupon their horses plunged into the water. Ma was terribly frightened and screamed out; but the sea opened dry before them and formed a wall of water on either side. In a little time they reached the king's palace, the beams of which were made of tortoise-shell and the tiles of fishes' scales. The four walls were of crystal, and dazzled the eye like mirrors. They got down off their horses and went in, and Ma was introduced to the king.
The young prince said, "Sire, I have been to the market, and have got a gentleman from China." Whereupon Ma made obeisance before the king, who addressed him as follows : -- "Sir, from a talented scholar like yourself I venture to ask for a few stanzas upon our sea-market. Pray do not refuse." Ma thereupon made a kow tow, and undertook the king's command. Using an ink-slab of crystal, a brush of dragon's beard, paper as white as snow, and ink scented like the larkspur, Ma immediately threw off some thousand odd verses, which he laid at the feet of the king. When His Majesty saw them, he said, "Sir, your genius does honor to these marine nations of ours."
Then, summoning the members of the royal family, the king gave a great feast in the Coloured Cloud pavilion; and when the wine had circulated freely, seizing a great goblet in his hand, the king rose and said before all the guests, "It is a thousand pities, Sir, that you are not married. What say you to entering the bonds of wedlock?" Ma rose blushing and stammered out his thanks; upon which the king, looking round, spoke a few words to the attendants, and in a few moments in came a bevy of Court ladies supporting the king's daughter, whose ornaments went tinkle, tinkle, as she walked along. Immediately the nuptial drums and trumpets began to sound forth, and bride and bridegroom worshipped Heaven and Earth together. Stealing a glance, Ma saw that the princess was endowed with a fairy-like loveliness. When the ceremony was over she retired, and by-and-by the wine party broke up. Then came several beautifully dressed waiting-maids, who with painted candles escorted Ma within. The bridal couch was made of coral adorned with eight kinds of precious stones, and the curtains were thickly hung with pearls as big as acorns.
Next day at dawn a crowd of young slave-girls trooped into the room to offer their services; whereupon Ma got up and went off to Court to pay his respects to the king. He was then duly received as a royal son-in-law and made an officer of state. The fame of his poetical talents spread far and wide, and the kings of the various seas sent officers to congratulate him, vying with each other in their invitations to him. Ma dressed himself in gorgeous clothes, and went forth riding on a superb steed, with a mounted bodyguard all splendidly armed. There were musicians on horseback and musicians in chariots, and in three days he had visited every one of the marine kingdoms, making his name known in all directions.
In the palace there was a jade tree, about as big around as a man could clasp. Its roots were as clear as glass, and up the middle ran, as it were, a stick of pale yellow. The branches were the size of one's arm; the leaves like white jade as thick as a copper cash.
The foliage was dense, and beneath its shade the ladies of the palace were wont to sit and sing. The flowers which covered the tree resembled grapes, and if a single petal fell to the earth it made a ringing sound. Taking one up, it would be found to be exactly like carved cornelian, very bright and pretty to look at. From time to time a wonderful bird came and sang there. Its feathers were of a golden hue, and its tail as long as its body. Its notes were like the tinkling of jade, very plaintive and touching to listen to.
When Ma heard this bird sing, it called up in him recollections of his old home, and accordingly he said to the princess, "I have now been away from my own country for three years, separated from my father and mother. Thinking of them my tears flow and the perspiration runs down my back. Can you return with me ?" His wife replied, "The way of immortals is not that of men. I am unable to do what you ask, but I cannot allow the feelings of husband and wife to break the tie of parent and child. Let us devise some plan." When Ma heard this he wept bitterly, and the princess sighed and said, "We cannot both stay or both go." The next day the king said to him, "I hear that you are pining after your old home. Will to-morrow suit you for taking leave?" Ma thanked the king for his great kindness, which he declared he could never forget, and promised to return very shortly.
The Lo-Cha country and the sea-market (4)
That evening the princess and Ma talked over their wine of their approaching separation. Ma said they would soon meet again; but his wife averred that their married life was at an end. Then he wept afresh, but the princess said, "Like a filial son you are going home to your parents. In the meetings and separations of this life, a hundred years seem but a single day; why, then, should we give way to tears like children? I will be true to you; do you be faithful to me; and then, though separated, we shall be united in spirit, a happy pair. Is it necessary to live side by side in order to grow old together? If you break our contract your next marriage will not be a propitious one; but if loneliness' overtakes you then choose a concubine. There is one point more of which I would speak, with reference to our married life. I am about to become a mother, and I pray you give me a name for your child." To this Ma replied, "If a girl I would have her called Lung-kung; if a boy, then name him Fu-hai."
The princess asked for some token of remembrance, and Ma gave her a pair of jade lilies that he had got during his stay in the marine kingdom. She added, "On the 8th of the 4th moon, three years hence, when you once more steer your course for this country, I will give you up your child." She next packed a leather bag full of jewels and handed it to Ma, saying, "Take care of this; it will be a provision for many generations." When the day began to break a splendid farewell feast was given him by the king, and Ma bade them all adieu. The princess, in a car drawn by snow-white sheep, escorted him to the boundary of the marine kingdom, where he dismounted and stepped ashore. "Farewell!" cried the princess, as her returning car bore her rapidly away, and the sea, closing over her, snatched her from her husband's sight. Ma returned to his home across the ocean. Some had thought him long since dead and gone; all marveled at his story. Happily his father and mother were yet alive, though his former wife had married another man; and so he understood why the princess had pledged him to constancy, for she already knew that this had taken place. His father wished him to take another wife, but he would not. He only took a concubine.
Then, after the three years had passed away, he started across the sea on his return journey, when he beheld, riding on the wave-crests and splashing about the water in playing, two young children. On going near, one of them seized hold of him and sprang into his arms; upon which the elder cried until he, too, was taken up. They were a boy and girl, both very lovely, and wearing embroidered caps adorned with jade lilies. On the back of one of them was a worked case, in which Ma found the following letter : --
"I presume my father and mother-in-law are well. Three years have passed away and destiny still keeps us apart. Across the great ocean, the letter-bird could find no path.' I have been with you in my dreams until I am quite worn out. Does the blue sky look down upon any grief like mine? Yet Chang-ngo lives solitary in the moon, and Chih Nu laments that she cannot cross the Silver River. Who am I that I should expect happiness to be mine? Truly this thought turns my tears into joy. Two months after your departure I had twins, who can already prattle away in the language of childhood, at one moment snatching a date, at another a pear. Had they no mother they would still live. These I now send to you, with the jade lilies you gave me in their hats, in token of the sender. When you take them upon your knee, think that I am standing by your side. I know that you have kept your promise to me, and I am happy. I shall take no second husband, even unto death. All thoughts of dress and finery are gone from me; my looking-glass sees no new fashions; my face has long been unpowdered, my eyebrows unblacked. You are my Ulysses, I am your Penelope; though not actually leading a married life, how can it be said that we are not husband and wife. Your father and mother will take their grandchildren upon their knees, though they have never set eyes upon the bride. Alas! there is something wrong in this. Next year your mother will enter upon the long night. I shall be there by the side of the grave, as is becoming in her daughter-in-law. From this time forth our daughter will be well; later on she will be able to grasp her mother's hand. Our boy, when he grows up, may possibly be able to come to and fro. Adieu, dear husband, adieu, though I am leaving much unsaid."
Ma read the letter over and over again, his tears flowing all the time. His two children clung round his neck, and begged him to take them home. "Ah, my children," said he, "where is your home?" Then they all wept bitterly, and Ma, looking at the great ocean stretching away to meet the sky, lovely and pathless, embraced his children, and proceeded sorrowfully to return. Knowing, too, that his mother could not last long, he prepared every- thing necessary for the ceremony of interment, and planted a hundred young pine-trees at her grave.
The following year the old lady did die, and her coffin was borne to its last resting-place, when there was the princess standing by the side of the grave. The lookers-on were much alarmed, but in a moment there was a flash of lightning, followed by a clap of thunder and a squall of rain, and she was gone. It was then noticed that many of the young pine-trees which had died were one and all brought to life. Subsequently, Fu-hai went in search of the mother for whom he pined so much, and after some days' absence returned. Lung-kung, being a girl, could not accompany him, but she mourned much in secret.
One dark day her mother entered and bade her dry her eyes, saying, "My child, you must get married. Why these tears ?" She then gave her a tree of coral eight feet in height, some Baroos camphor,' one hundred valuable pearls, and two boxes inlaid with gold and precious stones, as her dowry. Ma having found out she was there, rushed in, and, seizing her hand, began to weep for joy, when suddenly a violent peal of thunder rent the building, and the princess had vanished.
The Lost Brother (1)
In Honan there lived a man named Chang, who originally belonged to Shantung. His wife had been seized and carried off by the soldiery during the period when Ching Nan's troops were overrunning the latter province; and as he was frequently in Honan on business, he finally settled there and married a Honan wife, by whom he had a son named Na. By-and-by this wife died, and he took another, who bore him a son named Cheng. The last-mentioned lady was from the Niu family, and a very malicious woman. So jealous was she of Na, that she treated him like a slave or a beast of the field, giving him only the coarsest food, and making him cut a large bundle of wood every day, in default of which she would beat and abuse him in a most shameful manner. On the other hand, she secretly reserved all the tit-bits for Cheng, and also sent him to school. As Cheng grew up, and began to understand the meaning of filial piety and fraternal love,' he could not bear to see this treatment of his elder brother, and spoke privately to his mother about it; but she would pay no heed to what he said.
One day, when Na was on the hills performing his task, a violent storm came on, and he took shelter under a cliff. However, by the time it was over the sun had set, and he began to feel very hungry. So, shouldering his bundle, he wended his way home, where his stepmother, displeased with the small quantity of wood he had brought, refused to give him anything to eat. Quite over- come with hunger, Na went in and lay down; and when Cheng came back from school, and saw the state he was in, he asked him if he was ill. Na replied that he was only hungry, and then told his brother the whole story; whereupon Cheng colored up and went away, returning shortly with some cakes, which he offered to Na.
"Where did you get them ?" asked the latter.
"Oh," replied Cheng, "I stole some flour and got a neighbor's wife to make them for me. Eat away, and don't talk."
Na ate them up; but begged his brother not to do this again, as he might get himself into trouble. "I shan't die," added he, "if I only get one meal a day."
"You are not strong," rejoined Cheng, "and shouldn't cut so much wood as you do."
Next day, after breakfast, Cheng slipped away to the hills, and arrived at the place where Na was occupied with his usual task, to the great astonishment of the latter, who inquired what he was going to do. "To help you cut wood," replied Cheng.
"And who sent you ?" asked his brother. "No one," said he; "I came of my own accord."
"Ah," cried Na, "you can't do this work; and even if you can you must not. Run along home again." Cheng, however, remained, aiding his brother with his hands and feet alone, but declaring that on the morrow he would bring an axe. Na tried to stop him, and found that he had already hurt his finger and worn his shoes into holes; so he began to cry, and said, "If you don't go home directly, I'll kill myself with my axe."
Cheng then went away, his brother seeing him half-way home, and going back to finish his work by himself. He also called in the evening at Cheng's school, and told the master his brother was a delicate boy, and should not be allowed to go on the hills, where, he said, there were fierce tigers and wolves. The master replied that he didn't know where Cheng had been all the morning, but that he had caned him for playing truant. Na further pointed out to Cheng that by not doing as he had told him, he had let himself in for a beating. Cheng laughed, and said he hadn't been beaten; and the very next day off he went again, and this time with a hatchet. "I told you not to come," cried Na, much alarmed; "why have you done so ?" Cheng made no reply, but set to work chopping wood with such energy that the perspiration poured down his face; and when he had cut about a bundle he went away without saying a word.
The master caned him again, and then Cheng told him how the matter stood, at which the former became full of admiration for his pupil's kind behavior, and no longer prevented him from going. His brother, however, frequently urged him not to come, though without the slightest success; and one day, when they went with a number of others to cut wood, a tiger rushed down from the hills upon them. The woodcutters hid themselves, in the greatest consternation; and the tiger, seizing Cheng, ran off with him in his mouth. Cheng's weight caused the tiger to move slowly; and Na, rushing after them, hacked away at the tiger's flanks with his axe. The pain only made the tiger hurry off, and in a few minutes they were out of sight. Overwhelmed with grief, Na went back to his comrades, who tried to soothe him; but he said, "My brother was no ordinary brother, and, besides, he died for me; why, then, should I live ?" Here, seizing his hatchet, he made a great chop at his own neck, upon which his companions prevented him from doing himself any more mischief.
The Lost Brother (2)
The wound, however, was over an inch deep, and blood was flowing so copiously that Na became faint, and seemed at the point of death. They then tore up their clothes, and, after having bandaged his neck, proceeded to carry him home. His stepmother cried bitterly, and cursed him, saying, "You have killed my son, and now you go and cut your neck in this make-believe kind of way."
"Don't be angry, mother," replied Na; "I will not live now that my brother is dead." He then threw himself on the bed; but the pain of his wound was so great he could not sleep, and day and night he sat leaning against the wall in tears. His father, fearing that he too would die, went every now and then and gave him a little nourishment; but his wife cursed him so for doing it, that at length Na refused all food, and in three days he died.
Now in the village where these events took place there was a magician who was employed in certain devil-work among mortals,' and Na's ghost, happening to fall in with him, related the story of its previous sorrows, winding up by asking where his brother's ghost was. The magician said he didn't know, but turned round with Na and showed him the way to a city where they saw an official servant coming out of the city gates. The magician stopped him, and inquired if he could tell them anything about Cheng; whereupon the man drew out a list from a pouch at his side, and, after carefully examining it, replied that among the male and female criminals within there was no one of the name of Chang." The magician here suggested that the name might be on another list; but the man replied that he was in charge of that road, and surely ought to know.
Na, however, was not satisfied, and persuaded the magician to enter the city, where they met many new and old devils walking about, among whom were some Na had formerly known in life. So he asked them if they could direct him to his brother; but none of them knew where he was; and suddenly there was a great commotion, the devils on all sides crying out, "Pu-sa' has come!" Then, looking up, Na beheld a most beautiful man descending from above, encircled by rays of glory, which shot forth above and below, lighting up all around him. "You are in luck's way, Sir," said the magician to Na; "only once in many thousand years does Pu-sa descend into hell and banish all suffering. He has come today.
He then made Na kneel, and all the devils began with clasped hands to sing songs of praise to Pu-sa for his compassion in re- leasing them from their misery, shaking the very earth with the sound. Pu-sa himself, seizing a willow-branch, sprinkled them all with holy water; and when this was done the clouds and glory melted away, and he vanished from their sight. Na, who had felt the holy water fall upon his neck, now became conscious that the axe-wound was no longer painful; and the magician then proceeded to lead him back, not quitting him until within sight of the village gate.
In fact, Na had been in a trance for two days, and when he recovered he told them all that he had seen, asserting positively that Cheng was not dead. His mother, however, looked upon the story as a make-up, and never ceased reviling him; and, as he had no means of proving his innocence, and his neck was now quite healed, he got up from the bed and said to his father, "I am going away to seek for my brother throughout the universe; if I do not find him, never expect to see me again, but I pray you regard me as dead." His father drew him aside and wept bitterly. However, he would not interfere with his son's design, and Na accordingly set off.
Whenever he came to a large town or populous place he used to ask for news of Cheng; and by-and-by, when his money was all spent, he begged his way on foot. A year had passed away before he reached Nanking, and his clothes were all in tatters -- as ragged as a quail's tail, when suddenly he met some ten or a dozen horsemen, and drew away to the roadside.
Among them was a gentleman of about forty, who appeared to be a mandarin, with numerous lusty attendants and fiery steeds accompanying him before and behind. One young man on a small palfrey, whom Na took to be the mandarin's son, and at whom, of course, he did not venture to stare, eyed him closely for some time, and at length stopped his steed, and, jumping off, cried out, "Are you not my brother ?" Na then raised his head, and found that Cheng stood before him. Grasping each other's hands, the brothers burst into tears, and at length Cheng said, "My brother, how is it you have strayed so far as this?" Na told him the circumstances, at which he was much affected; and Cheng's companions, jumping off their horses to see what was the matter, went off and informed the mandarin. The latter ordered one of them to give up his horse to Na, and thus they rode together back to the mandarin's house.
The Lost Brother (3)
Cheng then told his brother how the tiger had carried him away, and how he had been thrown down in the road, where he had passed a whole night; also how the mandarin, Mr. Chang, on his return from the capital, had seen him there, and, observing that he was no common-looking youth, had set to work and brought him round again. Also how he had said to Mr. Chang that his home was a great way off, and how Mr. Chang had taken him to his own home, and finally cured him of his wounds; when, having no son of his own, he had adopted him. And now, happening to be out with his father, he had caught sight of his brother.
As he was speaking Mr. Chang walked in, and Na thanked him very heartily for all his kindness; Cheng, meanwhile, going into the inner apartments to get some clothes for his brother. Wine and food was placed on the table; and while they were chatting together the mandarin asked Na about the number of their family in Honan. "There is only my father," replied Na, "and he is a Shantung man who came to live in Honan."
"Why, I am a Shantung man too," rejoined Mr. Chang; "what is the name of your father's native place ?"
"I have heard that it was in the Tung-chang district," replied Na.
"Then we are from the same place," cried the mandarin. "Why did your father go away to Honan ?"
"His first wife," said Na, "was carried off by soldiers, and my father lost everything he possessed; so, being in the habit of trading to Honan, he determined to settle down there for good." The mandarin then asked what his father's other name was, and when he heard, he sat some time staring at Na, and at length hurried away within.
In a few moments out came an old lady, and when they had all bowed to her, she asked Na if he was Chang Ping-chih's grandson. On his replying in the affirmative, the old lady wept, and, turning to Mr. Chang, said, "These two are your younger brothers." And then she explained to Na and Cheng as follows: -- "Three years after my marriage with your father, I was carried off to the north and made a slave in a mandarin family. Six months afterwards your elder brother here was born, and in another six months the mandarin died. Your elder brother being his heir, he received this appointment, which he is now resigning. I have often thought of my native place, and have not infrequently sent people to inquire about my husband, giving them the full particulars as to name and clan; but I could never hear anything of him. How should I know that he had gone to Honan ?"
Then, addressing Mr. Chang, she continued, "That was rather a mistake of yours, adopting your own brother."
"He never told me anything about Shantung," replied Mr. Chang; "I suppose he was too young to remember the story; and I only looked at the difference between our ages." For he, the elder of the brothers, was forty-one; Cheng, the younger, being only sixteen; and Na, twenty years of age. Mr. Chang was very glad to get two young brothers; and when he heard the tale of their separation, proposed that they should all go back to their father. Mrs. Chang was afraid her husband would not care to receive her back again; but her eldest son said, "We will cast our lot together; all or none. How can there be a country where fathers are not valued?"
They then sold their house and packed up, and were soon on the way to Honan. When they arrived, Cheng went in first to tell his father, whose third wife had died since Na left, and who now was a desolate old widower, left alone with only his own shadow. He was overjoyed to see Cheng again, and, looking fondly at his son, burst into a flood of tears. Cheng told him his mother and brothers were outside, and the old man was then perfectly trans- fixed with astonishment, unable either to laugh or to cry. Mr. Chang next appeared, followed by his mother; and the two old people wept in each other's arms, the late solitary widower hardly knowing what to make of the crowd of men and women-servants that suddenly filled his house.
Here Cheng, not seeing his own mother, asked where she was; and when he heard she was dead, he fainted away, and did not come round for a good half-hour. Mr. Chang found the money for building a fine house, and engaged a tutor for his two brothers. Horses pranced in the stables, and servants chattered in the hall -- it was quite a large establishment.
The man who was thrown down a well (1)
Mr. Tai, of An-ching, was a wild fellow when young. One day as he was returning home tipsy, he met by the way a dead cousin of his named Chi; and having, in his drunken state, quite forgot- ten that his cousin was dead, he asked him where he was going.
"I am already a disembodied spirit," replied Chi; "don't you remember ?"
Tai was a little disturbed at this; but, being under the influence of liquor, he was not frightened, and inquired of his cousin what he was doing in the realms below.
"I am employed as scribe," said Chi, "in the court of the Great King."
"Then you must know all about our happiness and misfortunes to come," cried Tai.
"It is my business," answered his cousin, "so of course I know. But I see such an enormous mass that, unless of special reference to myself or family. I take no notice of any of it. Three days ago, by the way, I saw your name in the register." Tai immediately asked what there was about himself, and his cousin replied, "I will not deceive you; your name was put down for a dark and dismal hell."
Tai was dreadfully alarmed, and at the same time sobered, and entreated his cousin to assist him in some way. "You may try," said Chi, "what merit will do for you as a means of mitigating your punishment; but the register of your sins is as thick as my finger, and nothing short of the most deserving acts will be of any avail. What can a poor fellow like myself do for you? Were you to perform one good act every day, you would not complete the necessary total under a year and more, and it is now too late for that. But henceforth amend your ways, and there may still be a chance of escape for you."
When Tai heard these words he prostrated himself on the ground, imploring his cousin to help him; but, on raising his head, Chi had disappeared; he therefore returned sorrowfully home, and set to work to cleanse his heart and order his behavior.
Now Tai's next-door neighbor had long suspected him of paying too much attention to his wife; and one day meeting Tai in the fields shortly after the events narrated above, he inveigled him into inspecting a dry well, and then pushed him down. The well was many feet deep, and the man felt certain that Tai was killed; however, in the middle of the night he came round, and sitting up at the bottom, he began to shout for assistance, but could not make any one hear him.
On the following day, the neighbor, fearing that Tai might possibly have recovered consciousness, went to listen at the mouth of the well; and hearing him cry out for help, began to throw down a quantity of stones. Tai took refuge in a cave at the side, and did not dare utter another sound; but his enemy knew he was not dead, and forthwith filled the well almost up to the top with earth. In the cave it was as dark as pitch, exactly like the Infernal Regions; and not being able to get anything to eat or drink, Tai gave up all hopes of life. He crawled on his hands and knees further into the cave, but was prevented by water from going further than a few paces, and returned to take up his position at the old spot.
At first he felt hungry; by-and-by, however, this sensation passed away; and then reflecting that there, at the bottom of a well, he could hardly perform any good action, he passed his time in calling loudly on the name of Buddha. Before long he saw a number of Will-o'-the Wisps flitting over the water and illuminating the gloom of the cave; and immediately prayed to them, saying, "0 Will-o'-the Wisps, I have heard that ye are the shades of wronged and injured people. I have not long to live, and am without hope of escape; still I would gladly relieve the monotony of my situation by exchanging a few words with you."
Thereupon, all the Wills came flitting across the water to him; and in each of them was a man of about half the ordinary size. Tai asked them whence they came; to which one of them replied, "This is an old coal-mine. The proprietor, in working the coal, disturbed the position of some graves,' and Mr. Lung-fei flooded the mine and drowned forty-three workmen. We are the shades of those men." He further said he did not know who Mr. Lung-fei was, except that he was secretary to the City God, and that in compassion for the misfortunes of the innocent workmen, he was in the habit of sending them a quantity of gruel every three or four days. "But the cold water," added he, "soaks into our bones, and there is but small chance of ever getting them removed. If, Sir, you some day return to the world above, I pray you fish up our decaying bones and bury them in some public burying-ground. You will thus earn for yourself boundless gratitude in the realms below."
The man who was thrown down a well (2)
They then invited Tai to go with them; and when he said he couldn't because of the water, they bore him along over it so that he hardly seemed to walk. After twisting and turning about for nearly a quarter of a mile, he reached a place at which the Wills bade him walk by himself; and then he appeared to mount a flight of steps, at the top of which he found himself in an apartment lighted by a candle as thick as one's arm.
Not having seen the light of fire for some time, he was overjoyed and walked in; but observing an old man in a scholar's dress and cap seated in the post of honor, he stopped, not liking to advance further. But the old man had already caught sight of him, and asked him how he, a living man, had come there. Tai threw himself on the ground at his feet, and told him all; where- upon the old man cried out, "My great-grandson!" He then bade him get up; and offering him a seat, explained that his own name was Tai Chien, and that he was otherwise known as Lung-fei. He said, moreover, that in days gone by a worthless grandson of his named Tang had associated himself with a lot of scoundrels and sunk a well near his grave, disturbing the peace of his everlasting night; and that therefore he had flooded the place with salt water and drowned them. He then inquired as to the general condition of the family at that time.
Now Tai was a descendant of one of five brothers, from the eldest of whom Tang himself was also descended; and an influential man of the place had bribed Tang to open a mine alongside the family grave. His brothers were afraid to interfere; and by- and-by the water rose and drowned all the workmen; whereupon actions for damages were commenced by the relatives of the deceased, and Tang and his friend were reduced to poverty, and Tang's descendants to absolute destitution. Tai was a son of one of Tang's brothers, and having heard this story from his seniors, now repeated it to the old man. "How could they be otherwise than unfortunate," cried the latter, "with such an unfilial progenitor ? But since you have come hither, you must on no account neglect your studies."
The old man then provided him with food and wine, and spreading a volume of essays according to the old style before him, bade him study it most carefully. He also gave him themes for composition, and corrected his essays as if he had been his tutor. The candle remained always burning in the room, never needing to be snuffed and never decreasing. When he was tired he went to sleep, but he never knew day from night. The old man occasionally went out, leaving a boy to attend his great- grandson's wants.
It seemed that several years passed away thus, but Tai had no troubles of any kind to annoy him. He had no other book except the volume of essays, one hundred in all, which he read through more than four thousand times. One day the old man said to him, "Your term of expiation is nearly completed, and you will be able to return to the world above. My grave is near the coal-mine, and the grosser breeze plays upon my bones. Remember to remove them to the eastern plain."' Tai promised he would see to this; and then the old man summoned all the shades together and instructed them to escort Tai back to the place where they had found him. The shades now bowed one after the other, and begged Tai to think of them as well, while Tai himself was quite at a loss to guess how he was going to get out.
Meanwhile, Tai's family had searched for him everywhere, and his mother had brought his case to the notice of the officials, thereby implicating a large number of persons; but without finding any trace of the missing man. Three or four years passed away, and there was a change of magistrate; in consequence of which the search was relaxed, and Tai's wife, not being happy where she was, married another husband. Just then an inhabitant of the place set about repairing the old well, and found Tai's body in the cave at the bottom. Touching it, he found it was not dead, and at once gave information to the family. Tai was promptly conveyed home, and within a day he could tell his own story.
Since he had been down the well, the neighbor who pushed him in had beaten his own wife to death; and his father-in-law having brought an action against him, he had been in confinement for more than a year while the case was being investigated. When released he was a mere bag of bones; and then hearing Tai had come back to life, he was terribly alarmed and fled away. The family tried to persuade Tai to take proceedings against him, but this he would not do, alleging that what had befallen him was a proper punishment for his own bad behavior, and had nothing to do with the neighbor.
Upon this, the said neighbor ventured to return; and when the water in the well had dried up, Tai hired men to go down and collect the bones, which he put in coffins and buried all together in one place. He next hunted up Mr. Lung-fei's name in the family tables of genealogy, and proceeded to sacrifice all kinds of nice things at his tomb. By-and-by the Literary Chancellor` heard this strange story, and was also very pleased with Tai's compositions; accordingly, Tai passed successfully through his examinations, and, having taken his master's degree, returned home and reburied Mr. Lung-fei on the eastern plain, repairing thither regularly every spring without fail.
Tai promised that if he had the luck to escape he would do as they wished; "but how," cried he, "situated as I am, can I ever hope to look again upon the light of day?" He then began to teach the Wills to say their prayers, making for them beads' out of bits of mud, in order to keep record of the number of invocations uttered. He could not tell night from morning; he slept when he felt tired, and when he waked he sat up. Suddenly, he perceived in the distance the light of lamps, at which the shades all rejoiced, and said, "It is Mr. Lung-fei with our food."
Miss A-Pao : - Or Perseverance rewarded (1)
In the province of Kuang-si there lived a scholar of some reputation, named Sun Tzu-chu. He was born with six fingers, and such a simple fellow was he that he readily believed any nonsense he was told. Very shy with the fair sex, the sight of a woman was enough to send him flying in the opposite direction; and once when he was inveigled into a room where there were some young ladies, he blushed down to his neck and the perspiration dripped off him like falling pearls. His companions laughed heartily at his discomfiture, and told fine stories of what a noodle he looked, so that he got the nickname of Silly Sun.
In the town where our hero resided, there was a rich trader whose wealth equaled that of any prince or nobleman, and whose connections were all highly aristocratic. He had a daughter, A-pao, of great beauty, for whom he was seeking a husband; and the young men of position in the neighborhood were vying with each other to obtain her hand, but none of them met with the father's approval.
Now Silly Sun had recently lost his wife; and some one in joke persuaded him to try his luck and send in an application. Sun, who had no idea of his own shortcomings, proceeded at once to follow this advice; but the father, though he knew him to be an accomplished scholar, rejected his suit on the ground of poverty. As the go-between was leaving the house, she chanced to meet A-pao, and related to her the object of her visit. "Tell him," cried A-pao, laughing, "that if he'll cut off his extra finger, I'll marry him."
The old woman reported this to Sun, who replied, "That is not very difficult;" and, seizing a chopper, cut the finger clean off. The wound was extremely painful, and he lost so much blood that he nearly died, it being many days before he was about again. He then sought out the go-between, and bade her inform Miss A-pao, which she did; and A-pao was taken rather aback, but she told the old woman to go once more and bid him cut off the "silly" from his reputation. Sun got much excited when he heard this, and denied that he was silly; however, as he was unable to prove it to the young lady herself, he began to think that probably her beauty was over-stated, and that she was giving her- self great airs. So he ceased to trouble himself about her until the following spring festival, when it was customary for both men and women to be seen abroad, and the young rips of the place would stroll about in groups and pass their remarks on all and sundry.
Sun's friends urged him to join them in their expedition, and one of them asked him with a smile if he did not wish to look out for a suitable mate. Sun knew they were chaffing him, but he thought he should like to see the girl that had made such a fool of him, and was only too pleased to accompany them. They soon perceived a young lady resting herself under a tree, with a throng of young fellows crowding round her, and they immediately determined that she must be A-pao, as in fact they found she was. Possessed of peerless beauty, the ring of her admirers gradually increased, till at last she rose up to go. The excitement among the young men was intense; they criticised her face and discussed her feet, Sun only remaining silent; and when they had passed on to something else, there they saw Sun rooted like an imbecile to the same spot. As he made no answer when spoken to, they dragged him along with them, saying, "Has your spirit run away after A-pao ?" He made no reply to this either; but they thought nothing of that, knowing his usual strangeness of manner, so by dint of pushing and pulling they managed to get him home.
There he threw himself on the bed and did not get up again for the rest of the day, lying in a state of unconsciousness just as if he were drunk. He did not wake when called; and his people, thinking that his spirit had fled, went about in the fields calling out to it to return. However, he showed no signs of improvement; and when they shook him, and asked him what was the matter, he only answered in a sleepy kind of voice, "I am at A-pao's house;" but to further questions he would not make any reply, and left his family in a state of keen suspense.
Now when Silly Sun had seen the young lady get up to go, he could not bear to part with her, and found himself first following and then walking along by her side without any one saying any- thing to him. Thus he went back with her to her home, and there he remained for three days, longing to run home and get something to eat, but unfortunately not knowing the way. By that time Sun had hardly a breath left in him; and his friends, fearing that he was going to die, sent to beg of the rich trader that he would allow a search to be made for Sun's spirit in his house. The trader laughed and said, "He wasn't in the habit of coming here, so he could hardly have left his spirit behind him;" but he yielded to the pleas of Sun's family, and permitted the search to be made.
Thereupon a magician proceeded to the house, taking with him an old suit of Sun's clothes and some grass matting; and when Miss A-pao heard the reason for which he had come, she simplified matters very much by leading the magician straight to her own room. The magician summoned the spirit in due form, and went back towards Sun's house. By the time he had reached the door, Sun groaned and recovered consciousness; and he was then able to describe all the articles of toilette and furniture in A-pao's room without making a single mistake. A-pao was amazed when the story was repeated to her, and could not help feeling kindly towards him on account of the depth of his passion. Sun himself, when he got well enough to leave his bed, would often sit in a state of abstraction as if he had lost his wits; and he was for ever scheming to try and have another glimpse at A-pao.
Miss A-Pao : - Or Perseverance rewarded (2)
One day he heard that she intended to worship at the Shui-yueh temple on the 8th of the fourth moon, that day being the Wash-Buddha festival; and he set off early in the morning to wait for her at the roadside. He was nearly blind with straining his eyes, and the sun was already past noontide before the young lady arrived; but when she saw from her carriage a gentleman standing there, she drew aside the screen and had a good stare at him. Sun followed her in a great state of excitement, upon which she bade one of her maids to go and ask his name. Sun told her who he was, his perturbation all the time increasing; and when the carriage drove on he returned home. Again he became very ill, and lay on his bed unconscious, without taking any food, occasionally calling on A-pao by name, at the same time abusing his spirit for not having been able to follow her as before.
Just at this juncture a parrot that had been long with the family died; and a child, playing with the body, laid it upon the bed. Sun then reflected that if he was only a parrot one flap of his wings would bring him into the presence of A-pao; and while occupied with these thoughts, lo! the dead body moved and the parrot flew away. It flew straight to A-pao's room, at which she was delighted; and catching it, tied a string to its leg, and fed it upon hemp-seed. "Dear sister," cried the bird, "do not tie me by the leg: I am Sun Tzu-chu." In great alarm A-pao untied the string, but the parrot did not fly away. "Alas!" said she, "your love has engraved itself upon my heart; but now you are no longer a man, how shall we ever be united together ?"
"To be near your dear self," replied the parrot, "is all I care about." The parrot then refused to take food from any one else, and kept close to Miss A-pao wherever she went, day and night alike.
At the expiration of three days, A-pao, who had grown very fond of her parrot, secretly sent some one to ask how Mr. Sun was; but he had already been dead three days, though the part over his heart had not grown cold. "Oh! come to life again as a man," cried the young lady, "and I swear to be yours for ever."
"You are surely not in earnest," said the parrot, "are you?" Miss A-pao declared she was, and the parrot, cocking its head aside, remained some time as if absorbed in thought.
By-and-by A-pao took off her shoes to bind her feet a little tighter; and the parrot, making a rapid grab at one, flew off with it in its beak. She called loudly after it to come back, but in a moment it was out of sight; so she next sent a servant to inquire if there was any news of Mr. Sun, and then learnt that he had come round again, the parrot having flown in with an embroidered shoe and dropped down dead on the ground. Also, that directly he regained consciousness he asked for the shoe, of which his people knew nothing; at which moment her servant had arrived, and demanded to know from him where it was. "It was given to me by Miss A-pao as a pledge of faith," replied Sun; "I beg you will tell her I have not forgotten her promise."
A-pao was greatly astonished at this, and instructed her maid to divulge the whole affair to her mother, who, when she had made some inquiries, observed that Sun was well known as a clever fellow, but was desperately poor, "and to get such a son- in-law after all our trouble would give our aristocratic friends the laugh against us." However, A-pao pleaded that with the shoe there as a proof against her, she would not marry anybody else; and, ultimately, her father and mother gave their consent.
This was immediately announced to Mr. Sun, whose illness rapidly disappeared in consequence. A-pao's father would have had Sun come and live with them; but the young lady objected, on the score that a son-in-law should not remain long at a time with the family of his wife, and that as he was poor he would lower himself still more by doing so. "I have accepted him," added she, "and I shall gladly reside in his humble cottage, and share his poor fare without complaint." The marriage was then celebrated, and bride and bridegroom met as if for the first time in their lives.
The dowry A-pao brought with her somewhat raised their pecuniary position, and gave them a certain amount of comfort; but Sun himself stuck only to his books, and knew nothing about managing affairs in general. Luckily his wife was clever in that respect, and did not bother him with such things; so much so that by the end of three years they were comparatively well off, when Sun suddenly fell ill and died.
Mrs. Sun was inconsolable, and refused either to sleep or take nourishment, being deaf to all entreaties on the subject; and before long, taking advantage of the night, she hanged herself. Her maid, hearing a noise, ran in and cut her down just in time: but she still steadily refused all food. Three days passed away, and the friends and relatives of Sun came to attend his funeral, when suddenly they heard a sigh proceeding forth from the coffin. The coffin was then opened and they found that Sun had come to life again. He told them that he had been before the Great Judge, who, as a reward for his upright and honorable life, had conferred upon him an official appointment. "At this moment," said Sun, "it was reported that my wife was close at hand, but the Judge, referring to the register, observed that her time had not yet come. They told him she had taken no food for three days; and then the Judge, looking at me, said that as a recompense for her wifely virtues she should be permitted to return to life. Thereupon he gave orders to his attendants to put to the horses and see us safely back."
From that hour Sun gradually improved, and the next year went up for his Master's degree. All his old companions chaffed him exceedingly before the examination, and gave him seven themes on out-of-the-way subjects, telling him privately that they had been surreptitiously obtained from the examiners. Sun believed them as usual, and worked at them day and night until he was perfect, his comrades all the time enjoying a good laugh against him. However, when the day came it was found that the examiners, fearing lest the themes they had chosen in an ordinary way should have been dishonestly made public, took a set of fresh ones quite out of the common run - in fact, on the very subjects Sun's companions had given to him. Consequently, he came out at the head of the list; and the next year, after taking his Doctor's degree, he was entered among the Han-lin Academicians. The Emperor, too, happening to hear of his curious adventures, sent for him and made him repeat his story; subsequently, summoning A-pao and making her some very costly presents.
Mr. Chu, The considerate husband
At the village of Chu in Chi-yang, there was a man named Chu, who died at the age of fifty and odd years. His family at once proceeded to put on their mourning robes, when suddenly they heard the dead man cry out. Rushing up to the coffin, they found that he had come to life again; and began, full of joy, to ask him all about it. But the old gentleman replied only to his wife, saying, "When I died I did not expect to come back. However, by the time I had got a few miles on my way, I thought of the poor old body I was leaving behind me, dependent for everything on others, and with no more enjoyment of life. So I made up my mind to return, and take you away with me."
The bystanders thought this was only the disconnected talk of a man who had just regained consciousness, and attached no importance to it; but the old man repeated it, and then his wife said, "It's all very well, but you have only just come to life; how can you die again directly?"
"It is extremely simple," replied her husband. "Go and get ready." The old lady laughed and did nothing; upon which Mr. Chu urged her again to prepare, and then she left the house.
In a short time she returned, and pretended that she had done what he wanted. "Then you had better dress," said he; but Mrs. Chu did not move until he pressed her again and again, after which she did not like to cross him, and by-and-by came out all fully equipped.
The other ladies of the family were laughing on the sly, when Mr. Chu laid his head upon the pillow, and told his wife to do likewise. "It's too ridiculous," she was beginning to say, when Mr. Chu banged the bed with his hand, and cried out, "What is there to laugh at in dying ?" upon which the various members of the family, seeing the old gentleman was in a rage, begged her to gratify his whim. Mrs. Chu then lay down alongside of her husband, to the infinite amusement of the spectators; but it was soon noticed that the old lady had ceased to smile, and by-and-by her two eyes closed.
For a long time not a sound was heard, as if she was fast asleep; and when some of those present approached to touch her, they found she was as cold as ice, and no longer brething; then, turning to her husband, they perceived that he also had passed away.
The painted wall
A Kiang-si gentleman, named Meng Lung-tan, was lodging at the capital with a Mr. Chu, M.A., when one day chance led them to a certain monastery, within which they found no spacious halls or meditation chambers, but only an old priest in dishabille. On observing the visitors, he arranged his dress and went forward to meet them, leading them round and showing whatever there was to be seen.
In the chapel they saw an image of Chih Kung, and the walls on either side were beautifully painted with life-like representations of men and animals. On the east side were pictured a number of fairies, among whom was a young girl whose maiden tresses were not yet confined by the matron's knot. She was picking flowers and gently smiling, while her cherry lips seemed about to move, and the moisture of her eyes to overflow. Mr. Chu gazed at her for a long time without taking his eyes off, until at last he became unconscious of anything but the thoughts that were engrossing him. Then, suddenly he felt himself floating in the air, as if riding on a cloud, and found himself passing through the wall, where halls and pavilions stretched away one after another, unlike the abodes of mortals.
Here an old priest was preaching the Law of Buddha, surrounded by a large crowd of listeners. Mr. Chu mingled with the throng and after a few moments, perceived a gentle tug at his sleeve. Turning round, he saw the young girl above-mentioned, who walked laughing away. Mr. Chu at once followed her and passing a winding balustrade, arrived at a small apartment beyond which he dared not venture farther. But the young lady, looking back, waved the flowers she had in her hand as though beckoning him to come on. He accordingly entered and found nobody else within. Then they fell on their knees and worshipped heaven and earth together,' and rose up as man and wife, after which the bride went away, bidding Mr. Chu keep quiet until she came back.
This went on for a couple of days, when the young lady's companions began to smell a rat and discovered Mr. Chu's hiding place. Thereupon they all laughed and said, "My dear, you are now a married woman, and should leave off that maidenly coiffure." So they gave her the proper hair-pins and head ornaments, and bade her go bind her hair, at which she blushed very much but said nothing. Then one of them cried out, "My sisters, let us be off. Two's company, more's none." At this they all giggled again and went away.
Mr. Chu found his wife very much improved by the alteration in the style of her hair. The high top-knot and the coronet of pendants were very becoming to her. But suddenly they heard a sound like the tramping of heavy-soled boots, accompanied by the clanking of chains and the noise of angry discussion. The bride jumped up in a fright, and she and Mr. Chu peeped out. They saw a man clad in golden armor, with a face as black as jet, carrying in his hands chains and whips, and surrounded by all the girls. He asked, "Are you all here ?"
"All," they replied.
"If," said he, "any mortal is here concealed amongst you, denounce him at once, and lay not up sorrow for yourselves." Here they all answered as before that there was no one. The man then made a movement as if he would search the place, upon which the bride was dreadfully alarmed, and her face turned the colour of ashes. In her terror she said to Mr. Chu, "Hide yourself under the bed," and opening a small lattice in the wall, disappeared herself. Mr. Chu in his concealment hardly dared to draw his breath; and in a little while he heard the boots tramp into the room and out again, the sound of the voices getting gradually fainter and fainter in the distance. This reassured him, but he still heard the voices of people going backwards and forwards outside; and having been a long time in a cramped position, his ears began to sing as if there was a locust in them, and his eyes to burn like fire. It was almost unbearable. However, he remained quietly awaiting the return of the young lady without giving a thought to the why and wherefore of his present position.
Meanwhile, Meng Lung-tan had noticed the sudden disappearance of his friend, and thinking something was wrong, asked the priest where he was. "He has gone to hear the preaching of the Law," replied the priest.
"Where ?" said Mr. Meng.
"Oh, not very far," was the answer. Then with his finger the old priest tapped the wall and called out. "Friend Chu ! what makes you stay away so long?" At this, the likeness of Mr. Chu was figured upon the wall, with his ear inclined in the attitude of one listening. The priest added, "Your friend here has been waiting for you some time;" and immediately Mr. Chu descended from the wall, standing transfixed like a block of wood, with starting eyeballs and trembling legs. Mr. Meng was much terrified, and asked him quietly what was the matter. Now the matter was that while concealed under the bed he had heard a noise resembling thunder and had rushed out to see what it was.
Then they all noticed that the young lady on the wall with the maiden's tresses had changed the style of her coiffure to that of a married woman. Mr. Chu was greatly astonished at this and asked the old priest the reason.
He replied, "Visions have their origin in those who see them: what explanation can I give ?" This answer was very unsatisfactory to Mr. Chu; neither did his friend, who was rather frightened, know what to make of it all; so they descended the temple steps and went away.
The picture horse
A certain Mr. Tsui, of Lin-ching, was too poor to keep his garden walls in repair, and used often to find a strange horse lying down on the grass inside. It was a black horse marked with white, and having a scrubby tail, which looked as if the end had been burnt off;' and, though always driven away, would still return to the same spot.
Now Mr. Tsui had a friend, who was holding an appointment in Shansi; and though he had frequently felt desirous of paying him a visit, he had no means of traveling so far. Accordingly, he one day caught the strange horse, and, putting a saddle on its back, rode away, telling his servants that if the owner of the horse should appear, he was to inform him where the animal was to be found.
The horse started off at a very rapid pace, and, in a short time, they were thirty or forty miles from home; but at night it did not seem to care for its food, so the next day Mr. Tsui, who thought perhaps illness might be the cause, held the horse in, and would not let it gallop so fast. However, the animal did not seem to approve of this, and kicked and foamed until at length Mr. Tsui let it go at the same old pace; and by midday he had reached his destination.
As he rode into the town, the people were astonished to hear of the marvelous journey just accomplished, and the Governor sent to say he should like to buy the horse. Mr. Tsui, fearing that the real owner might come forward, was compelled to refuse this offer; but when, after six months had elapsed, no inquiries had been made, he agreed to accept eight hundred ounces of silver, and handed over the horse to the Governor. He then bought him- self a good mule, and returned home.
Subsequently, the Governor had occasion to use the horse for some important business at Lin-ching; and when there it took the opportunity to run away. The officer in charge pursued it right up to the house of a Mr. Tseng, who lived next door to Mr. Tsui, and saw it run in and disappear. Thereupon he called upon Mr. Tseng to restore it to him; and, on the latter declaring he had never even seen the animal, the officer walked into his private apartments, where he found, hanging on the wall, a picture of a horse, by Chen Tzu-ang, exactly like the one he was in search of, and with part of the tail burnt away by a joss-stick.
It was now clear that the Prince's horse was a supernatural creature; but the officer, being afraid to go back without it, would have prosecuted Mr. Tseng, had not Tsui, whose eight hundred ounces of silver had since increased to something like ten thousand, stepped in and paid back the original purchase- money. Mr. Tseng was exceedingly grateful to him for this act of kindness, ignorant, as he was, of Tsui's previous sale of the horse.
Playing at hanging
A number of wild young fellows were one day out walking when they saw a young lady approach, riding on a pony. One of them said to the others, "I'll back myself to make that girl laugh," and a supper was at once staked by both sides on the result. Our hero then ran out in front of the pony, and kept on shouting "I'm going to die! I'm going to die!" at the same time pulling out from over the top of a wall a stalk of millet, to which he attached his own waistband, and, tying the latter round his neck, made a pretence of hanging himself.
The young lady did laugh as she passed by, to the great amusement of the assembled company. When she was some distance off, their friend did not move and the others laughed louder than ever. However, on going up to him they saw that his tongue protruded, and that his eyes were glazed; he was, in fact, quite dead.
Was it not strange that a man should be able to hang himself on a millet stalk ? It is a good warning against practical joking.
The rat wife (1)
Hsi Shan was a native of Kao-mi, and a trader by occupation. He used constantly to travel between Meng-yin and I-shui (in Shantung).
One day he was delayed on the road by rain, and when he arrived at his usual quarters it was already late in the night. He knocked at all the doors, but no one answered; and he was walking backwards and forwards in the piazza when suddenly a door flew open and an old man came out. He invited the traveler to enter, an invitation to which Hsi Shan gladly responded; and tying up his mule, he went in.
The place was totally unfurnished; and the old man began by saying that it was only out of compassion that he had asked him in, as his house was not an inn. "There are only three or four of us," added he; "and my wife and daughter are fast asleep. We have some of yesterday's food, which I will get ready for you; you must not object to its being cold." He then went within, and shortly afterwards returned with a low couch, which he placed on the ground, begging his guest to be seated, at the same time hurrying back for a low table, and soon for a number of other things, until at last Hsi Shan was quite uncomfortable, and en- treated his host to rest himself awhile.
By-and-by a young lady came out, bringing some wine; upon which the old man said, "Oh, our A-chien has got up." She was about sixteen or seventeen, a slender and pretty-looking girl; and as Hsi Shan had an unmarried brother, he began to think directly that she would do for him. So he inquired of the old man his name and address, to which the latter replied that his name was Ku, and that his children had all died save this one daughter. "I didn't like to wake her just now, but I suppose my wife told her to get up." Hsi Shan then asked the name of his son-in-law, and was informed that the young lady was not yet engaged, - at which he was secretly very much pleased.
A tray of food was now brought in, evidently the remains from the day before; and when he had finished eating, Hsi Shan began respectfully to address the old man as follows: - "I am only a poor wayfarer, but I shall never forget the kindness with which you have treated me. Let me presume upon it, and submit to your consideration a plan I have in my head. My younger brother, San-lang, is seventeen years old. He is a student, and by no means unsteady or dull. May I hope that you will unite our families together, and not think it presumption on my part?"
"I, too, am but a temporary sojourner," replied the old man, rejoicing; "and if you will only let me have a part of your house, I shall be very glad to come and live with you." Hsi Shan consented to this, and got up and thanked him for the promise of his daughter; upon which the old man set to work to make him comfortable for the night, and then went away.
At cockcrow he was outside, calling his guest to come and have a wash; and when Hsi Shan had packed up ready to go, he offered to pay for his night's entertainment. This, however, the old man refused, saying, "I could hardly charge a stranger any- thing for a single meal; how much less could I take money from one who is to be a connection by marriage?"
They then separated, and in about a month Hsi Shan returned; but when he was a short distance from the village he met an old woman with a young lady, both dressed in deep mourning. As they approached he began to suspect it was A-chien; and the young lady, after turning round to look at him, pulled the old woman's sleeve, and whispered something in her ear, which Hsi Shan himself did not hear. The old woman stopped immediately, and asked if she was addressing Mr. Hsi; and when informed that she was, she said mournfully, "Alas! my husband has been killed by the falling of a wall. We are going to bury him to-day. There is no one at home; but please wait here, and we will we back by-and-by."
They then disappeared among the trees; and, returning after a short absence, they walked along together in the dusk of the evening. The old woman complained bitterly of their lonely and helpless state, and Hsi Shan was moved to compassion by the sight of her tears. She told him that the people of the neighborhood were a bad lot, and that if A-chien was to marry into his family, no time should be lost. Hsi Shan said he was willing.
The rat wife (2)
When they reached the house the old woman, after lighting the lamp and setting food before him, proceeded to speak as follows: - "Knowing, sir, that you would shortly arrive, we sold all our grain except about twenty piculs. We cannot take this with us so far; but a mile or so to the north of the village, at the first house you come to, there lives a man named Tan Erh-chuan, who often buys grain from me. Oblige me by taking a sack with you on your mule and proceeding thither at once. Tell Mr. Tan that the old lady of the southern village has several piculs of grain which she wishes to sell in order to get money for a journey, and beg him to send some animals to carry it." The old woman then gave him a sack of grain; and Hsi Shan, whipping up. his mule, was soon at the place; and, knocking at the door, a great fat fellow came out, to whom he told his errand. Emptying the sack he had brought, he went back himself first; and before long a couple of men arrived leading five mules. The old woman took them into the granary, which was a cellar below ground, and Hsi Shan, going down himself, held the measure and grasped the smoothing-bar, while the mother poured the grain into the measure and the daughter received it in the sack. In a little while the men had got a load, with which they went off, returning altogether four times before all the grain was exhausted. They then paid the old woman, who kept one man and two mules, and, packing up her things, set off towards the east.
After they had traveled some seven miles, day began to break; and by-and-by they reached a market-town, where the old woman hired animals and sent back Tan's servant.
When they arrived at Hsi Shan's home he related the whole story to his parents, who were very pleased at what had happened, and provided separate apartments for the old lady; and after choosing a lucky day, A-chien was married to San-lang. The old woman prepared a handsome trousseau; and as for A-chien herself, she spoke but little, seldom losing her temper, and if any- one addressed her she would only reply with a smile. She employed all her time in spinning, and thus became a general favorite with all alike. "Tell your brother," said she to San-lang, "that when he happens to pass our old residence he will do well not to make any mention of my mother and myself."
In three or four years' time the Hsi family had made plenty of money, and San-lang had taken his bachelor's degree, when one day Hsi Shan happened to pass a night with the people who lived next door to the house where he had met A-chien. After telling them the story of his having had nowhere to sleep, and taking refuge with the old man and woman, his host said to him, "You must be mistaken, sir; the house you allude to belongs to my uncle, but was abandoned three years ago in consequence of its being haunted. It has now been uninhabited for a long time. What old man and woman can have entertained you there?" Hsi Shan was very much astonished at this, but did not put much faith in what he heard.
Meanwhile his host continued, "For ten years no one dared enter the house; however, one day the back wall fell down, and my uncle, going to look at it, found, half-buried underneath the ruins, a large rat, almost as big as a cat. It was still moving, and my uncle went off to call for assistance, but when he got back the rat had disappeared. Every one suspected some supernatural agency to be at work, though on returning to the spot ten days afterwards nothing was to be either heard or seen; and about a year subsequently the place was inhabited once more."
Hsi Shan was more than ever amazed at what he now heard, and on reaching home told the family what had occurred; for he feared that his brother's wife was not a human being, and became rather anxious about him. San-lang himself continued to be much attached to A-chien; but by-and-by the other members of the family let A-chien perceive that they had suspicions about her. So one night she complained to San-lang, saying, "I have been a good wife to you for some years, but now I am no longer regarded as a human being. I pray you give me my divorce, and seek for yourself some worthier mate." She then burst into a flood of tears; whereupon San-lang said, "You should know my feelings by this time. Ever since you entered the house the family has prospered; and that prosperity is entirely due to you. Who can say it is not so ?"
"I know full well," replied A-chien, "what you feel; still there are the others, and I do not wish to share the fate of an autumn fan.
At length San-lang succeeded in pacifying her; but Hsi Shan could not dismiss the subject from his thoughts, and gave out that he was going to get a first-rate mouser, with a view to testing A-chien. She did not seem very frightened at this, though evidently ill at ease; and one night she told San-lang that her mother was not very well, and that he needn't come to bid her good-night as usual. In the morning mother and daughter had disappeared.
The rat wife (3)
San-lang was greatly alarmed, and sent out to look for them in every direction. No traces of the fugitives could be discovered, and San-lang was overwhelmed with grief, unable either to eat or to sleep. His father and brother thought it was a lucky thing for him, and advised him to console himself with another wife. This, however, he refused to do; until, a year afterwards, nothing more having been heard of A-chien, he could not resist their importunities any longer, and bought himself a concubine. But he never ceased to think of A-chien; and some years later, when the prosperity of the family was on the wane, they all began to regret her loss.
Now San-lang had a stepbrother, named Lan, who, when traveling to Chiao-chou on business, passed a night at the house of a relative named Lu. He noticed that during the night sounds of weeping and lamentation proceeded from their next-door neighbors, but he did not inquire the reason for it. However, on his way back he heard the same sounds, and then asked what was the cause of such demonstrations. Mr. Lu told him that a few years ago an old widow and her daughter had come there to live, and that the mother had died about a month previously, leaving her child quite alone in the world. Lan inquired what her name was, and Mr. Lu said it was Ku; "But," added he, "the door is closely barred, and as they never had any communication with the village, I know nothing of their antecedents."
"It's my sister-in-law," cried Lan, in amazement, and at once proceeded to knock at the door of the house. Someone came to the front door, and said, in a voice that betokened recent weeping, "Who's there ? There are no men in this house."' Lan looked through a crack, and saw that the young lady really was his sister-in-law; so he called out, "Sister, open the door. I am your step-brother A-sui." A-chien immediately opened the door and asked him in, and recounted to him the whole story of her troubles. "Your husband," said Lan, "is always thinking of you. For a trifling difference you need hardly have run away so far from him." He then proposed to hire a vehicle and take her home; but A-chien replied, "I came hither with my mother to hide because I was not regarded as a human being, and should make myself ridiculous by now returning thus. If I am to go back, my elder brother Hsi Shan must no longer live with us; otherwise, I will immediately poison myself."
Lan then went home and told San-lang, who set off and traveled all night until he reached the place where A-chien was. Husband and wife were overjoyed to meet again, and the following day San-lang notified the landlord of the house where A-chien had been living. Now this landlord had long desired to secure A-chien as a concubine for himself; and, after making no claim for rent for several years, he began to hint as much to her mother. The old lady, however, refused flatly; but shortly afterwards she died, and then the landlord thought that he might be able to succeed. At this juncture San-lang arrived, and the landlord sought to hamper him by putting in his claim for rent; and, as San-lang was anything but well off at the moment, it really did annoy him very much. A-chien here came to the rescue, showing San-lang a large quantity of grain she had in the house, and bidding him use it to settle accounts with the landlord. The latter declared he could not accept grain, but must be paid in silver; whereupon A-chien sighed and said it was all her unfortunate self that had brought this upon them, at the same time telling San-lang of the landlord's former proposition. San-lang was very angry, and was about to take out a summons against him, when Mr. Lu interposed, and, by selling the grain in the neighborhood, managed to collect sufficient money to pay off the rent.
San-lang and his wife then returned home; and the former, having explained the circumstances to his parents, separated his household from that of his brother. A-chien now proceeded to build, with her own money, a granary, which was a matter of some astonishment to the family, there not being a hundred- weight of grain in the place. But in about a year the granary was full, and before very long San-lang was a rich man, Hsi Shan remaining as poor as before. Accordingly, A-chien persuaded her husband's parents to come and live with them, and made frequent presents of money to the elder brother; so that her husband said, "Well at any rate, you bear no malice."
"Your brother's behavior," replied she, "was from his regard for you. Had it not been for him, you and I would never have met." After this there were no more supernatural manifestations.
The resuscitated corpse
A certain old man lived at Tsai-tien, in the Yang-hsin district. The village was some miles from the district city, and he and his son kept a roadside inn where travelers could pass the night.
One day, as it was getting dusk, four strangers presented them- selves and asked for a night's lodging; to which the landlord replied that every bed was already occupied. The four men declared it was impossible for them to go back, and urged him to take them in somehow; and at length the landlord said he could give them a place to sleep in if they were not too particular, -- which the strangers immediately assured him they were not.
The fact was that the old man's daughter-in-law had just died, and that her body was lying in the women's quarters, waiting for the coffin, which his son had gone away to buy. So the landlord led them round thither, and walking in, placed a lamp on the table. At the further end of the room lay the corpse, decked out with paper robes, in the usual way; and in the foremost section were sleeping couches for four people.
The travelers were tired, and throwing themselves on the beds, were soon snoring loudly, with the exception of one of them, who was not quite off when suddenly he heard a creaking of the trestles on which the dead body was laid out, and opening his eyes, he saw by the light of the lamp in front of the corpse that the girl was raising the coverings from her and preparing to get down. In another moment she was on the floor and advancing towards the sleepers. Her face was of a light yellow hue, and she had a silk kerchief round her head; and when she reached the beds, she blew on the other three travelers, whereupon the fourth, in a great fright, stealthily drew up the bed-clothes over his face, and held his breath to listen. He heard her breathe on him as she had done on the others, and then heard her go back again and get under the paper robes, which rustled distinctly as she did so.
He now put out his head to take a peep, and saw that she was lying down as before; whereupon, not daring to make any noise, he stretched forth his foot and kicked his companions, who, however, showed no signs of moving. He now determined to put on his clothes and make a bolt for it; but he had hardly begun to do so before he heard the creaking sound again, which sent him back under the bed-clothes as fast as he could go. Again the girl came to him, and, breathing several times on him, went away to lie down as before, as he could tell by the noise of the trestles.
He then put his hand very gently out of bed, and, seizing his trousers, got quickly into them, jumped up with a bound, and rushed out of the place as fast as his legs would carry him. The corpse, too, jumped up; but by this time the traveler had already drawn the bolt, and was outside the door, running along and shrieking at the top of his voice, with the corpse following close behind. No one seemed to hear him, and he was afraid to knock at the door of the inn for fear they should not let him in in time; so he made for the highway to the city, and after a while he saw a monastery by the roadside, and, hearing the "wooden fish," he ran up and thumped with all his might at the gate. The priest, however, did not know what to make of it, and would not open to him; and as the corpse was only a few yards off, he could do nothing but run behind a tree which stood close by, and there shelter himself, dodging to the right as the corpse dodged to the left, and so on. This infuriated the dead girl to madness; and at length, as tired and panting they stood watching each other on opposite sides of the tree, the corpse made a rush forward with one arm on each side in the hope of thus grabbing its victim. The traveler, however, fell backwards and escaped, while the corpse remained rigidly embracing the tree.
By-and-by the priest, who had been listening from the inside, hearing no sounds for some time, came out and found the traveler lying senseless on the ground; whereupon he had him carried into the monastery, and by morning they had got him round again. After being given a little broth to drink, he related the whole story; and then in the early dawn they went out to examine the tree, to which they found the girl tightly fixed.
The news being sent to the magistrate, that functionary attended at once in person,' and gave orders to remove the body; but this they were at first unable to do, the girl's fingers having penetrated into the bark so far that her nails were not to be seen. At length they got her away, and then a messenger was dispatched to the inn, already in a state of great commotion over the three travelers, who had been found dead in their beds. The old man accordingly sent to fetch his daughter-in-law; and the surviving traveler petitioned the magistrate, saying, "Four of us left home, but only one will go back. Give me something that I may show to my fellow-townsmen." So the magistrate gave him a certificate and sent him home again.
A supernatural wife
A certain Mr. Chao, of Chang-shan, lodged in a family of the name of Tai. He was very badly off, and, falling sick, was brought almost to death's door. One day they moved him into the verandah, that it might be cooler for him; and, when he awoke from a nap, lo! a beautiful girl was standing by his side. "I am come to be your wife," said the girl, in answer to his question as to who she was; to which he replied that a poor fellow like himself did not look for such luck as that; adding that, being then on his deathbed, he would not have much occasion for the services of a wife. The girl said she could cure him, but he told her he very much doubted that; "And even," continued he, "should you have any good prescription, I have not the means of getting it made up."
"I don't want medicine to cure you with," rejoined the girl, proceeding at once to rub his back and sides with her hand, which seemed to him like a ball of fire. He soon began to feel much better, and asked the young lady what her name was, in order, as he said, that he might remember her in his prayers. "I am a spirit," replied she; "and you, when alive under the Han dynasty as Chu Sui-lang, were a benefactor of my family. Your kindness being engraved on my heart, I have at length succeeded in my search for you, and am able in some measure to requite you."
Chao was dreadfully ashamed of his poverty-stricken state, and afraid that his dirty room would spoil the young lady's dress; but she made him show her in, and accordingly he took her into his apartment, where there were neither chairs to sit upon, nor signs of anything to eat, saying, "You might, indeed, be able to put up with all this; but you see my larder is empty, and I have absolutely no means of supporting a wife."
"Don't be alarmed about that," cried she; and in another moment he saw a couch covered with costly robes, the walls papered with a silver-flecked paper, and chairs and tables appear, the latter laden with all kinds of wine and exquisite viands. They then began to enjoy themselves, and lived together as husband and wife. Many people came to witness these strange things, and were all cordially received by the young lady. She in turn always accompanied Mr. Chao whenever he went out to dinner.
One day there was an unprincipled young graduate among the company, which she seemed immediately to become aware of; and, after calling him several bad names, she struck him on the side of the head, causing his head to fly out of the window while his body remained inside; and there he was, stuck fast, unable to move either way, until the others interceded for him and he was released. After some time visitors became too numerous, and if she refused to see them they turned their anger against her husband.
At length, as they were sitting together drinking with some friends at the Tuan-yang festival, a white rabbit ran in, whereupon the girl jumped up and said, "The doctor has come for me." Then, turning to the rabbit, she added, "You go on: I'll follow you." So the rabbit went away, and then she ordered them to get a ladder and place it against a high tree in the back yard, the top of the ladder overtopping the tree. The young lady went up first and Chao close behind her; after which she called out to anybody who wished to join them to make haste up. None ventured to do so with the exception of a serving-boy belonging to the house, who followed after Chao; and thus they went up, up, up, up, until they disappeared in the clouds and were seen no more. However, when the bystanders came to look at the ladder, they found it was only an old door-frame with the panels knocked out; and when they went into Mr. Chao's room, it was the same old, dirty, unfurnished room as before. So they determined to find out all about it from the serving-boy when he came back; but this he never did.
The talking pupils
At Chang-ngan there lived a scholar, named Fang Tung, who though by no means destitute of ability, was a very unprincipled rake, and in the habit of following and speaking to any woman he might chance to meet.
The day before the spring festival of Clear Weather, he was strolling about outside the city when he saw a small carriage with red curtains and an embroidered awning, followed by a crowd of waiting-maids on horseback, one of whom was exceedingly pretty, and riding on a small palfrey. Going closer to get a better view, Mr. Fang noticed that the carriage curtain was partly open, and inside he beheld a beautifully dressed girl of about sixteen, lovely beyond anything he had ever seen. Dazzled by the sight, he could not take his eyes off her; and now before, now behind, he followed the carriage for many a mile. By-and-by he heard the young lady call out to her maid, and, when the latter came alongside, say to her, "Let down the screen for me. Who is this rude fellow that keeps on staring so ?" The maid accordingly let down the screen, and looking angrily at Mr. Fang, said to him, "This is the bride of the Seventh Prince in the City of Immortals going home to see her parents, and no village girl that you should stare at her thus." Then taking a handful of dust, she threw it at him and blinded him.
He rubbed his eyes and looked round, but the carriage and horses were gone. This frightened him, and he went off home, feeling very uncomfortable about the eyes. He sent for a doctor to examine his eyes, and on the pupils was found a small film, which had increased by next morning, the eyes watering incessantly all the time. The film went on growing and in a few days was as thick as a cash. On the right pupil there came a kind of spiral, and as no medicine was of any avail, the sufferer gave himself up to grief and wished for death.
He then bethought himself of repenting of his misdeeds, and hearing that the Kuang-ming sutra could relieve misery, he got a copy and hired a man to teach it to him. At first it was very tedious work, but by degrees he became more composed, and spent the whole day in a posture of devotion, telling his beads.
At the end of a year he had arrived at a state of perfect calm, when one day he heard a small voice, about as loud as a fly's, calling out from his left eye: "It's horridly dark in here." To this he heard a reply from the right eye, saying, "Let us go out for a stroll, and cheer ourselves up a bit." Then he felt a wriggling in his nose which made it itch, just as if something was going out of each of the nostrils; and after a while he felt it again as if going the other way. Afterwards he heard a voice from one eye say, "I hadn't seen the garden for a long time: the epidendrums are all withered and dead." Now Mr. Fang was very fond of these epidendrums, of which he had planted a great number, and had been accustomed to water them himself; but since the loss of his sight he had never even alluded to them. Hearing, however, these words, he at once asked his wife why she had let the epidendrums die. She inquired how he knew they were dead, and when he told her she went out to see, and found them actually withered away. They were both very much astonished at this, and his wife proceeded to conceal herself in the room. She then observed two tiny people, no bigger than a bean, come down from her husband's nose and run out of the door, where she lost sight of them. In a little while they came back and flew up to his face, like bees or beetles seeking their nests.
This went on for some days, until Mr. Fang heard from the left eye, "This roundabout road is not at all convenient. It would be as well for us to make a door." To this the right eye answered, "My wall is too thick: it wouldn't be at all an easy job."
"I'll try and open mine," said the left eye, "and then it will do for both of us." Whereupon Mr. Fang felt a pain in his left eye as if something was being split, and in a moment he found he could see the tables and chairs in the room. He was delighted at this and told his wife, who examined his eye and discovered an opening in the film, through which she could see the black pupil shining out beneath, the eyeball itself looking like a cracked pepper-corn. By next morning the film had disappeared, and when his eye was closely examined it was observed to contain two pupils. The spiral on the right eye remained as before; and then they knew that the two pupils had taken up their abode in one eye. Further, although Mr. Fang was still blind of one eye, the sight of the other was better than that of the two together. From this time he was more careful of his behavior, and acquired in his part of the country the reputation of a virtuous man.
The Taoist novice
There lived in our village a Mr. Wang, the seventh son in an old family. This gentleman had a penchant for the Taoist religion and, hearing that at Lao-shan there were plenty of Immortals,' shouldered his knapsack and went off for a tour thither. Ascending a peak of the mountain he reached a secluded monastery, where he found a priest sitting on a rush mat, with long hair flowing over his neck, and a pleasant expression on his face. Making a low bow, Wang addressed him thus: "Mysterious indeed is the doctrine: I pray you, Sir, instruct me therein." "Delicately nurtured and wanting in energy as you are," replied the priest, "I fear you could not support the fatigue." "Try me," said Wang. So when the disciples, who were very many in number, collected together at dusk, Wang joined them in making obeisance to the priest, and remained with them in the monastery. Very early next morning the priest summoned Wang, and giving him a hatchet sent him out with the others to cut firewood. Wang respectfully obeyed, continuing to work for over a month until his hands and feet were so swollen and blistered that he secretly meditated returning home.
One evening when he came back he found two strangers sitting drinking with his master. It being already dark, and no lamp or candles having been brought in, the old priest took some scissors and cut out a circular piece of paper like a mirror, which he proceeded to stick against the wall. Immediately it became a dazzling moon, by the light of which you could have seen a hair or a beard of corn. The disciples all came crowding round to wait upon them, but one of the strangers said, "On a festive occasion like this we ought all to enjoy ourselves together." Accordingly he took a kettle of wine from the table and presented it to the disciples, bidding them drink each his fill; whereupon our friend Wang began to wonder how seven or eight of them could all be served out of a single kettle. The disciples, too, rushed about in search of cups, each struggling to get the first drink for fear the wine should be exhausted. Nevertheless, all the candidates failed to empty the kettle, at which they were very much astonished.
Then one of the strangers said, "You have given us a fine bright moon; but it's dull work drinking by ourselves. Why not call Chang-ngo to join us ?" He seized a chopstick and threw it into the moon, whereupon a lovely girl stepped forth from its beams. At first she was only a foot high, but on reaching the ground lengthened to the ordinary size of woman. She had a slender waist and a beautiful neck, and went most gracefully through the Red Garment figure. When this was finished she sang the following words : -
Ye fairies ! ye fairies! I'm coming back soon,
Too lonely and cold is my home in the moon.
Her voice was clear and well sustained, ringing like the notes of a flageolet, and when she had concluded her song she pirouetted round and jumped up on the table, where, with every eye fixed in astonishment upon her, she once more became a chopstick.
The three friends laughed loudly, and one of them said, "We are very jolly tonight, but I have hardly room for any more wine. Will you drink a parting glass with me in the palace of the moon ?" They then took up the table and walked into the moon, where they could be seen drinking so plainly that their eyebrows and beards appeared like reflections in a looking-glass. By-and- by the moon became obscured; and when the disciples brought a lighted candle they found the priest sitting in the dark alone. The viands, however, were still upon the table and the mirror-like piece of paper on the wall. "Have you all had enough to drink ?" asked the priest; to which they answered that they had. "In that case," said he, "you had better get to bed, so as not to be behind-hand with your wood-cutting in the morning." So they all went off, and among them Wang, who was delighted at what he had seen, and thought no more of returning home.
But after a time he could not stand it any longer; and as the priest taught him no magical arts he determined not to wait, but went to him and said, "Sir, I have traveled many long miles for the benefit of your instruction. If you will not teach me the secret of Immortality, let me at any rate learn some trifling trick, and thus soothe my cravings for a knowledge of your art. I have now been here two or three months, doing nothing but chop firewood, out in the morning and back at night, work to which I was never accustomed in my own home."
"Did I not tell you," replied the priest, "that you would never support the fatigue ? Tomorrow I will start you on your way home."
"Sir," said Wang, "I have worked for you a long time. Teach me some small art, that my coming here may not have been wholly in vain."
"What art ?" asked the priest
"Well," answered Wang, "I have noticed that whenever you walk about anywhere, walls and so on are no obstacle to you. Teach me this, and I'll be satisfied." The priest laughingly assented, and taught Wang a formula which he bade him recite. When he had done so he told him to walk through the wall; but Wang, seeing the wall in front of him, didn't like to walk at it. As, however, the priest bade him try, he walked quietly up to it and was there stopped. The priest here called out, "Don't go so slowly. Put your head down and rush at it." So Wang stepped back a few paces and went at it full speed; and the wall yielding to him as he passed, in a moment he found himself outside. Delighted at this, he went in to thank the priest, who told him to be careful in the use of his power, or otherwise there would be no response, handing him at the same time some money for his expenses on the way.
When Wang got home, he went about bragging of his Taoist friends and his contempt for walls in general; but as his wife disbelieved his story, he set about going through the performance as before. Stepping back from the wall, he rushed at it full speed with his head down; but coming in contact with the hard bricks, finished up in a heap on the floor. His wife picked him up and found he had a bump on his forehead as big as a large egg, at which she roared with laughter; but Wang was overwhelmed with rage and shame, and cursed the old priest for his base ingratitude.
The Taoist priest
Once upon a time there was a Mr. Han, who belonged to a wealthy family, and was fond of entertaining people. A man named Hsu, of the same town, frequently joined him over a bottle; and on one occasion when they were together a Taoist priest came to the door with his alms-bowl in his hand. The servants threw him some money and food, but the priest would not accept them, neither would he go away; and at length they took no more notice of him.
Mr. Han heard the noise of the priest knocking his bowl' going on for a long time, and asked his servants what was the matter; and they had hardly told him when the priest himself walked in. Mr. Han begged him to be seated; whereupon the priest bowed to both gentlemen and took his seat. On making the usual inquiries, they found that he lived at an old tumbledown temple to the east of the town, and Mr. Han expressed regret at not having heard sooner of his arrival, so that he might have shown him the proper hospitality of a resident. The priest said that he had only recently arrived, and had no friends in the place; but hearing that Mr. Han was a jovial fellow, he had been very anxious to take a glass with him. Mr. Han then ordered wine, and the priest soon distinguished himself as a hard drinker; Mr. Hsu treating him all the time with a certain amount of disrespect in consequence of his shabby appearance, while Mr. Han made allowances for him as being a traveler.
When he had drunk over twenty large cups of wine, the priest took his leave, returning subsequently whenever any jollification was going on, no matter whether it was eating or drinking. Even Han began now to tire a little of him; and on one occasion Hsu said to him in raillery, "Good priest, you seem to like being a guest; why don't you play the host sometimes for a change ?"
"Ah," replied the priest, "I am much the same as yourself -- a mouth carried between a couple of shoulders." This put Hsu to shame, and he had no answer to make; so the priest continued, "But although that is so, I have been revolving the question with myself for some time, and when we do meet I shall do my best to repay your kindness with a cup of my own poor wine."
When they had finished drinking, the priest said he hoped he should have the pleasure of their company the following day at noon; and at the appointed time the two friends went together, not expecting, however, to find anything ready for them. But the priest was waiting for them in the street; and passing through a handsome courtyard, they beheld long suites of elegant apartments stretching away before them. In great astonishment, they remarked to the priest that they had not visited this temple for some time, and asked when it had been thus repaired; to which he replied that the work had been only lately completed.
They then went inside, and there was a magnificently- decorated apartment, such as would not be found even in the houses of the wealthy. This made them begin to feel more respect for their host; and no sooner had they sat down than wine and food were served by a number of boys, all about sixteen years of age, and dressed in embroidered coats, with red shoes. The wine and eatables were delicious, and very nicely served; and when the dinner was taken away, a course of rare fruits was put on the table, the names of all of which it would be impossible to mention. They were arranged in dishes of crystal and jade, the brilliancy of which lighted up the surrounding furniture; and the goblets in which the wine was poured were of glass, and more than a foot in circumference.
Later the priest cried out, "Call the Shih sisters," whereupon one of the boys went out and in a few moments two elegant young ladies walked in. The first was tall and slim like a willow wand; the other was short and very young, both being exceedingly pretty girls. Being told to sing while the company were drinking, the younger beat time and sang a song, while the elder accompanied her on the flageolet. They acquitted themselves admirably; and, when the song was over, the priest, holding his goblet bottom upwards in the air, challenged his guests to follow his example, bidding his servants pour out more wine all round. He then turned to the girls, and remarked that they had not danced for a long time, asking if they were still able to do so; upon which a carpet was spread by one of the boys, and the two young ladies proceeded to dance, their long robes waving about and perfuming the air around. The dance concluded, they leant against a painted screen, while the two guests gradually became more and more confused and were at last irrecoverably drunk.
The priest took no notice of them; but when he had finished drinking, he got up and said, "Pray, go on with your wine; I am going to rest awhile, and will return by-and-by." He then went away, and lay down on a splendid couch at the other end of the room; at which Hsu was very angry, and shouted out, "Priest, you are a rude fellow," at the same time making towards him with a view of rousing him up. The priest then ran out, and Han and Hsu lay down to sleep, one at each end of the room, on elaborately-carved couches covered with beautiful mattresses.
When they woke up, they found themselves lying in the road, Mr. Hsu with his head in a dirty drain. Hard by were a couple of rush huts; but everything else was gone.
The three Genii
There was a certain scholar who, passing through Su-chien on his way to Nanking, where he was going to try for his master's degree, happened to fall in with three other gentlemen, all graduates like himself, and was so charmed with their unusual refinement that he purchased a quantity of wine, and begged them to join him in drinking it. While thus pleasantly employed, his three friends told him their names. One was Chieh Chiu-heng; the second, Chang Feng-lin; and the other, Ma Hsi-chih. They drank away and enjoyed themselves very much, until evening had crept upon them unperceived, when Chieh said, "Here we, who ought to have been playing the host, have been feasting at a stranger's expense. This is not right. But, come, my house is close by; I will provide you with a bed." Chang and Ma got up, and taking our hero by the arm, bade his servant come along with them.
When they reached a hill to the north of the village, there before them was a house and grounds, with a stream of clear water in front of the door, all the apartments within being beautifully clean and nice. Chieh then gave orders to light the lamps and see after his visitor's servant; whereupon Ma observed, "Of old it was customary to set intellectual refreshments before one's friends. Let us not miss the opportunity of this lovely evening, but decide on four themes, one for each of us; and then, when we have finished our essays, we can set to work on the wine." To this the others readily agreed; and each wrote down a theme and threw it on the table. These were next divided amongst them as they sat, and before the second watch was over the essays were all completed and handed round for general inspection; and our scholar was so struck with the elegance and vigor of those by his three friends, that he ran off a copy of them and put it in his pocket. The host then produced some excellent wine, which was drunk by them in such bumpers that soon they were all tolerably tipsy. The other two now took their leave; but Chieh led the scholar into another room, where, so overcome was he with wine, that he went to bed in his boots and clothes.
The sun was high in the heavens when our hero awaked, and looking round, he saw no house or grounds, only a dell on the hillside, in which he and his servant had been sleeping. In great alarm he called out to the servant, who also got up, and then they found a hole with a rill of water trickling down before it. Much astonished at all this, he felt in his pocket, and there, sure enough, was the paper on which he had copied the three essays of his friends. On descending the hill and making inquiries, he found that he had been to the Grotto of the Three Genii -- Crab, Snake, and Frog, three wonderful beings, who often came out for a stroll, and were occasionally visible to mortal eyes.
Subsequently, when our hero entered the examination hall, the three themes set were those of the Three Genii, and he came out at the top of the list.
The tiger of Chao-Cheng
At Chao-cheng there lived an old woman more than seventy years of age, who had an only son. One day he went up to the hills and was eaten by a tiger, at which his mother was so overwhelmed with grief that she hardly wished to live.
With tears and lamentations she ran and told her story to the magistrate of the place, who laughed and asked her how she thought the law could be brought to bear on a tiger. But the old woman would not be comforted, and at length the magistrate lost his temper and bade her begone. Of this, however, she took no notice; and then the magistrate, in compassion for her great age and unwilling to resort to extremities, promised her that he would have the tiger arrested. Even then she would not go until the warrant had been actually issued; so the magistrate, at a loss what to do, asked his attendants which of them would undertake the job. Upon this one of them, Li Neng, who happened to be gloriously drunk, stepped forward and said that he would; where- upon the warrant was immediately issued and the old woman went away.
When our friend, Li Neng, got sober, he was sorry for what he had done; but reflecting that the whole thing was a mere trick of his master's to get rid of the old woman's importunities, did not trouble himself much about it, handing in the warrant as if the arrest had been made. "Not so," cried the magistrate, "you said you could do this, and now I shall not let you off." Li Neng was at his wits' end, and begged that he might be allowed to impress the hunters of the district. This was conceded; so collecting together these men, he proceeded to spend day and night among the hills in the hope of catching a tiger, and thus making a show of having fulfilled his duty.
A month passed away, during which he received several hundred blows with the bamboo, and at length, in despair, he betook himself to the Cheng-huang temple in the eastern suburb, where, falling on his knees, he prayed and wept by turns. By-and-by a tiger walked in, and Li Neng, in a great fright, thought he was going to be eaten alive. But the tiger took no notice of anything, remaining seated in the doorway. Li Neng then addressed the animal as follows: "O tiger, if thou didst slay that old woman's son, suffer me to bind thee with this cord;" and, drawing a rope from his pocket, threw it over the animal's neck. The tiger drooped its ears, and, allowing itself to be bound, followed Li Neng to the magistrate's office. The latter than asked it, "Did you eat the old woman's son?" to which the tiger replied by nodding his head; whereupon the magistrate rejoined, "That murderers should suffer death has ever been the law. Besides, this old woman had but one son, and by killing him you took from her the sole support of her declining years. But if now you will be as a son to her, your crime shall be pardoned." The tiger again nodded assent, and accordingly the magistrate gave orders that he should be released, at which the old woman was highly incensed, thinking that the tiger ought to have paid with its life for the destruction of her son.
Next morning, however, when she opened the door of her cottage, there lay a dead deer before it; and the old woman, by selling the flesh and skin, was able to purchase food. From that day this became a common event, and sometimes the tiger would even bring her money and valuables, so that she became quite rich, and was much better cared for than she had been even by her own son. Consequently, she became very well-disposed to the tiger, which often came and slept in the verandah, remaining for a whole day at a time, and giving no cause of fear either to man or beast. In a few years the old woman died, upon which the tiger walked in and roared its lamentations in the hall. However, with all the money she had saved, she was able to have a splendid funeral; and while her relatives were standing round the grave, out rushed a tiger, and sent them all running away in fear. But the tiger merely went up to the mound, and, after roaring like a thunder-peal, disappeared again. Then the people of that place built a shrine in honor of the Faithful Tiger, and it remains there to this day.
The trader's son (1)
In the province of Hunan there dwelt a man who was engaged in trading abroad; and his wife, who lived alone, dreamt one night that some one was in her room. Waking up, she looked about, and discovered a small creature which on examination she knew to be a fox; but in a moment the thing had disappeared, although the door had not been opened.
The next evening she asked the cook-maid to come and keep her company; as also her own son, a boy of ten, who was accustomed to sleep elsewhere. Towards the middle of the night, when the cook and the boy were fast asleep, back came the fox; and the cook was waked up by hearing her mistress muttering something as if she had a nightmare. The former then called out, and the fox ran away; but from that moment the trader's wife was not quite herself, her behavior growing more mysterious each day.
The next night she dared not blow out the candle, and bade her son be sure and not sleep too soundly. Later on, her son and the old woman, having taken a nap as they leant against the wall, suddenly waked up and found her gone. They waited some time, but she did not return, and the cook was too frightened to go and look for her; so her son took a light, and at length found her fast asleep in another room. She didn't seem aware that anything particular had happened, but she became queerer and queerer every day, and wouldn't have either her son or the cook to keep her company any more.
Her son, however, made a point of running at once into his mother's room if he heard any unusual sounds; and though his mother always abused him for his pains, he paid no attention to what she said. Consequently, everyone thought him very brave, though at the same time he was always indulging in childish tricks.
One day he played at being a mason, and piled up stones upon the windowsill, in spite of all that was said to him; and if anyone took away a stone, he threw himself on the ground, and cried like a child, so that nobody dared go near him. In a few days he had got both windows blocked up and the light excluded; and then he set to filling up the chinks with mud. He worked hard all day without minding the trouble, and when it was finished he took and sharpened the kitchen chopper. Everyone who saw him was disgusted with such antics, and would take no notice of him.
That night he darkened his lamp, and, with the knife concealed on his person, sat waiting for his mother to mutter. As soon as she began he uncovered his light, and, blocking up the doorway, shouted out at the top of his voice. Nothing, however, happened, and he moved from the door a little way, when suddenly out rushed something like a fox, which was disappearing through the door when he made a quick movement and cut off about two inches of its tail, from which the warm blood was still dripping as he brought the light to bear upon it. His mother hereupon cursed and reviled him, but he pretended not to hear her, regretting only as he went to bed that he hadn't hit the brute fair. But he consoled himself by thinking that although he hadn't killed it out- right, he had done enough to prevent it coming again.
On the morrow he followed the tracks of blood over the wall and into the garden of a family named Ho; and that night, to his great joy, the fox did not reappear. His mother was meanwhile prostrate, with hardly any life in her, and in the midst of it all his father came home. The boy told him what had happened, at which he was much alarmed, and sent for a doctor to attend his wife; but she only threw the medicine away, and cursed and swore horribly. So they secretly mixed the medicine with her tea and soup, and in a few days she began to get better, to the inexpressible delight of both her husband and son.
One night, however, her husband woke up and found her gone; and after searching for her with the aid of his son, they discovered her sleeping in another room. From that time she became more eccentric than ever, and was always being found in strange places, cursing those who tried to remove her. Her husband was at his wits' end. It was of no use keeping the door locked, for it opened of itself at her approach; and he had called in any number of magicians to exorcise the fox, but without obtaining the slightest result.
One evening her son concealed himself in the Ho family garden, and lay down in the long grass with a view to detecting the fox's retreat. As the moon rose he heard the sound of voices, and, pushing aside the grass, saw two people drinking, with a long- bearded servant pouring out their wine, dressed in an old dark- brown coat. They were whispering together, and he could not make out what they said; but by-and-by he heard one of them remark, "Get some white wine for tomorrow," and then they went away, leaving the long-bearded servant alone. The latter then threw off his coat, and lay down to sleep on the stones; whereupon the trader's son eyed him carefully, and saw that he was like a man in every respect except that he had a tail. The boy would then have gone home; but he was afraid the fox might hear him, and accordingly remained where he was till near dawn, when he saw the other two come back, one at time, and then they all disappeared among the bushes.
The trader's son (2)
When he reached home his father asked him where he had been, and he replied that he had stopped the night with the Ho family. He then accompanied his father to the town, where he saw hanging up at a hat-shop a fox's tail, and finally, after much coaxing, succeeded in making his father buy it for him. While the latter was engaged in a shop, his son, who was playing about be- side him, availed himself of a moment when his father was not looking and stole some money from him, and went off and bought a quantity of white wine, which he left in charge of the wine-merchant. Now an uncle of his, who was a sportsman by trade, lived in the city, and thither he next betook himself. His uncle was out, but his aunt was there, and inquired after the health of his mother. "She has been better the last few days," replied he; "but she is now very much upset by a rat having gnawed a dress of hers, and has sent me to ask for some poison." His aunt opened the cupboard and gave him about the tenth of an ounce in a piece of paper, which he thought was very little; so, when his aunt had gone to get him something to eat, he took the opportunity of being alone, opened the packet, and abstracted a large handful. Hiding this in his coat, he ran to tell his aunt that she needn't prepare anything for him, as his father was waiting in the market, and he couldn't stop to eat it.
He then went off; and having quietly dropped the poison into the wine he had bought, went sauntering about the town. At nightfall he returned home, and told his father that he had been at his uncle's. This he continued to do for some time, until one day he saw among the crowd his long-bearded friend. Marking him closely, he followed him, and at length entered into conversation, asking him where he lived. "I live at Pei-tsun," said he; "where do you live ?"
"I," replied the trader's son, falsely, "live in a hole on the hillside." The long-bearded man was considerably startled at his answer, but much more so when he added, "We've lived there for generations : haven't you ?" The other man asked his name, to which the boy replied, "My name is Hu. I saw you with two gentlemen in the Ho family garden, and haven't forgotten you." Questioning him more fully, the long-bearded man was still in a half-and-half state of belief and doubt, when the trader's son opened his coat a little bit, and showed him the end of the tail he had bought, saying, "The like of us can mix with ordinary people, but unfortunately we can never get rid of this." The long-bearded man then asked him what he was doing there, to which he answered that his father had sent him to buy wine; thereupon the former remarked that that was exactly what he had come for, and the boy then inquired if he had bought it yet or not. "We are poor," replied the stranger, "and as a rule I prefer to steal it."
"A difficult and dangerous job," observed the boy.
"I have my masters' instructions to get some," said the other, "and what am I to do ?" The boy then asked him who his masters were, to which he replied that they were the two brothers the boy had seen that night. "One of them has bewitched a lady named Wang; and the other, the wife of a trader who lives near. The son of the last-mentioned lady is a violent fellow, and cut off my master's tail, so that he was laid up for ten days. But he is putting her under spells again now."
He was then going away, saying he should never get his wine; but the boy said to him, "It's much easier to buy than steal. I have some at the wine-shop there which I will give to you. My purse isn't empty, and I can buy some more." The long-bearded man hardly knew how to thank him; but the boy said, "We're all one family. Don't mention such a trifle. When I have time I'll come and take a drink with you." So they went off together to the wine-shop, where the boy gave him the wine, and they then separated.
That night his mother slept quietly and had no fits, and the boy knew that something must have happened. He then told his father, and they went to see if there were any results.
They found both foxes stretched out dead in the arbor. One of the foxes was lying on the grass, and out of its mouth blood was still trickling. The wine-bottle was there; and on shaking it they heard that some was left. Then his father asked him why he had kept it all so secret; to which the boy replied that foxes were very sagacious, and would have been sure to scent the plot. Thereupon his father was mightily pleased, and said he was a perfect Ulysses for cunning. They then carried the foxes home, and saw on the tail of one of them the scar of a knife-wound.
From that time they were left in peace; but the trader's wife became very thin, and though her reason returned, she shortly afterwards died of consumption. The other lady, Mrs. Wang, began to get better as soon as the foxes had been killed; and as to the boy, he was taught riding and archery by his proud parent, and subsequently rose to high rank in the army.
The virtuous daughter-in-law (1)
An Ta-cheng was a Chung-ching man. His father died early; and his brother Erh-cheng was a mere boy. He himself had married a wife from the Chen family, whose name was Shan-hu; and this young lady had much to put up with from the violent and malicious disposition of her husband's mother. However, she never complained; and every morning dressed herself smartly, and went in to pay her respects to the old lady.
Once when Ta-cheng was ill, his mother abused Shan-hu for dressing so nicely; whereupon Shan-hu went back and changed her clothes; but even then Mrs. An was not satisfied, and began to tear her own hair with rage. Ta-cheng, who was a very filial son, at once gave his wife a beating, and this put an end to the scene. From that moment his mother hated her more than ever, and although she was everything that a daughter-in-law could be, would never exchange a word with her.
Ta-cheng began to treat his wife in much the same way as his mother treated her. Still the old lady wasn't pleased, and was always blaming Shan-hu for every trifle that occurred.
"A wife," cried Ta-cheng, "is taken to wait upon her mother- in-law. This state of things hardly looks like the wife doing her duty." So he bade Shan-hu begone, and sent an old maid-servant to see her home: but when Shan-hu got outside the village-gate, she burst into tears, and said, "How can a girl who -has failed in her duties as a wife ever dare to look her parents in the face ? I had better die." Thereupon she drew a pair of scissors and stabbed herself in the throat, covering herself immediately with blood. The servant prevented any further mischief, and supported her to the house of her husband's aunt, who was a widow living by herself, and who made Shan-hu stay with her. The servant went back and told Ta-cheng, and he bade her say nothing to any one, for fear his mother should hear of it.
In a few days Shan-hu's wound was healed, and Ta-cheng went off to ask his aunt to send her away. His aunt invited him in, but he declined, demanding loudly that Shan-hu should be turned out; and in a few moments Shan-hu herself came forth, and inquired what she had done. Ta-cheng said she had failed in her duty towards his mother; whereupon Shan-hu hung her head and made no answer, while tears of blood trickled from her eyes and stained her dress all over. Ta-cheng was much touched by this spectacle, and went away without saying any more; but before long his mother heard all about it, and, hurrying off to the aunt's, began abusing her roundly. This the aunt would not stand, and said it was all the fault of her own bad temper, adding, "The girl had already left you, and do you still claim to decide with whom she is to live? Miss Chen is staying with me, not your daughter-in-law; so you had better mind your own business."
This made Mrs. An furious; but she was at a loss for an answer, and, seeing that the aunt was firm, she went off home abashed and in tears.
Shan-hu herself was very much upset, and determined to seek shelter elsewhere, finally taking up her abode with Mrs. An's elder sister, a lady of sixty odd years of age, whose son had died, leaving his wife and child to his mother's care. This Mrs. Yu was extremely fond of Shan-hu; and when she heard the facts of the case, said it was all her sister's horrid disposition, and proposed to send Shan-hu back. The latter, however, would not hear of this, and they continued to live together like mother and daughter; neither would Shan-hu accept the invitation of her two brothers to return home and marry some one else, but remained there with Mrs. Yu, earning enough to live upon by spinning and such work.
Ever since Shan-hu had been sent away, Ta-cheng's mother had been endeavoring to get him another wife; but the fame of her temper had spread far and wide, and no one would entertain her proposals.
In three or four years Erh-cheng had grown up, and he had to be married first. His wife was a young lady named Tsang-ku, whose temper turned out to be something fearful, and far more ungovernable even than her mother-in-law's. When the latter only looked angry, Tsang-ku was already at the shrieking stage; and Erh-cheng, being of a very meek disposition, dared not side with either.
Thus it came about that Mrs. An began to be in mortal fear of Tsang-ku; and whenever her daughter-in-law was in a rage she would try and turn off her anger with a smile. She seemed never to be able to please Tsang-ku, who in her turn worked her mother-in-law like a slave, Ta-cheng himself not venturing to interfere, but only assisting his mother in washing the dishes and sweeping the floor. Mother and son would often go to some secluded spot, and there in secret tell their griefs to one another.
Before long Mrs. An was stretched upon a sick-bed with nobody to attend to her except Ta-cheng. He watched her day and night without sleeping, until both eyes were red and inflamed; and then when he went to summon the younger son to take his place, Tsang-ku told him to leave the house. Ta-cheng now went off to inform Mrs. Yu, hoping that she would come and assist; and he had hardly finished his tale of woe before Shan-hu walked in. In great confusion at seeing her, he would have left imme- diately had not Shan-hu held out her arms across the door; where- upon he bolted underneath them and escaped. He did not dare to tell his mother.
Shortly afterwards Mrs. Yu arrived, to the great joy of Ta-cheng's mother, who made her stay in the house. Every day something nice was sent for Mrs. Yu, and even when she told the servants that there was no occasion for it, she having all she wanted at her sister's, the things still came as usual. However, she kept none of them for herself, but gave what came to the invalid, who gradually began to improve. Mrs. Yu's grandson also used to come by his mother's orders, and inquire after the sick lady's health, besides bringing a packet of cakes and so on for her. "Ah, me!" cried Mrs. An, "what a good daughter-in-law you have got, to be sure. What have you done to her?"
The virtuous daughter-in-law (2)
"What sort of a person was the one you sent away ?" asked her sister in reply.
"She wasn't as bad as some one I know of," said Mrs. An, "though not so good as yours."
"When she was here you had but little to do," replied Mrs. Yu; "and when you were angry she took no notice of it. How was she not as good ?"
Mrs. An then burst into tears, and saying how sorry she was, asked if Shan-hu had married again; to which Mrs. Yu replied that she did not know, but would make inquiries. In a few more days the patient was quite well, and Mrs. Yu proposed to return; her sister, however, begged her to stay, and declared she should die if she didn't. Mrs. Yu then advised that Erh-cheng and his wife should live in a separate house, and Erh-cheng spoke about it to his wife; but she would not agree, and abused both Ta-cheng and Mrs. Yu alike. It ended by Ta-cheng giving up a large share of the property, and ultimately Tsang-ku consented, and a deed of separation was drawn up. Mrs. Yu then went away, returning next day with a sedan-chair to carry her sister back; and no sooner had the latter put her foot inside Mrs. Yu's door, than she asked to see the daughter-in-law, whom she immediately began to praise very highly. "Ah," said Mrs. Yu, "she's a good girl, with her little faults like the rest of us; but even if your daughter-in- law were as good as mine, you would not be able to appreciate her."
"Alas!" replied her sister, "I must have been as senseless as a statue not to have seen what she was."
"I wonder what Shan-hu, whom you turned out of doors, says of you?" rejoined Mrs. Yu.
"Why, she swears at me, of course," answered Mrs. An.
"If you examine yourself honestly and find nothing which should make people swear at you, is it at all likely you would be sworn at?" asked Mrs. Yu.
"Well, all people are fallible," replied the other, "and as I know she is not perfect, I conclude she would naturally swear at me."
"If a person has just cause for resentment, and yet does not indulge that resentment, it is obvious how he will repay kindness; or if any one has just cause for leaving another and yet does not do so, it is obvious how he will act under good treatment. Now, all the things that were sent when you were ill, and all the various little attentions, did not come from my daughter-in-law, but from yours."
Mrs. An was amazed at hearing this, and asked for some explanation; whereupon Mrs. Yu continued, "Shan-hu has been living here for a long time. Everything she sent to you was bought) with money earned by her spinning, and that, too, continued late into the night." Mrs. An here burst into tears, and begged to be allowed to see Shan-hu who came in at Mrs. Yu's summons, and threw herself on the ground at her mother-in-law's feet. Mrs. An was much abashed, and beat her head with shame; but Mrs. Yu made it all up between them, and they became mother and daughter as at first.
In about ten days they went home, and, as their property was not enough to support them, Ta-cheng had to work with his pen while his wife did the same with her needle. Erh-cheng was quite well off, but his brother would not apply to him, neither did he himself offer to help them. Tsang-ku, too, would have nothing to do with her sister-in-law, because she had been divorced; and Shan-hu in her turn, knowing what Tsang-ku's temper was, made no great efforts to be friendly. So the two brothers lived apart; and when Tsang-ku was in one of her outrageous moods, all the others would stop their ears, till at length there was only her husband and the servants upon whom to vent her spleen.
One day a maid-servant of hers committed suicide, and the father of the girl brought an action against Tsang-ku for having caused her death. Erh-cheng went off to the mandarin's to take her place as defendant, but only got a good beating for his pains, as the magistrate insisted that Tsang-ku herself should appear and answer to the charge, in spite of all her friends could do. The consequence was she had her fingers squeezed until the flesh was entirely taken off; and the magistrate, being a grasping man, a very severe fine was inflicted as well.
Erh-cheng had now to mortgage his property before he could raise enough money to get Tsang-ku released; but before long the mortgagee threatened to foreclose, and he was obliged to enter into negotiations for the sale of it to an old gentleman of the village named Jen. Now Mr. Jen, knowing that half the property had belong to Ta-cheng, said the deed of sale must be signed by the elder brother as well. However, when Ta-cheng reached his house, the old man cried out, "I am Mr. An, M.A.; who is this Jen that he should buy my property ?" Then, looking at Ta-cheng, he added, "The filial piety of you and your wife has obtained for me in the realms below this interview;" upon which Ta-cheng said, "0 father, since you have this power, help my younger brother."
The virtuous daughter-in-law (3)
"The unfilial son and the vixenish daughter-in-law," said the old man, "deserve no pity. Go home and quickly buy back our ancestral property."
"We have barely enough to live upon," replied Ta-cheng; "where, then, shall we find the necessary money ?"
"Beneath the crape myrtle-tree," answered his father, "you will find a store of silver, which you may take and use for this purpose." Ta-cheng would have questioned him further, but the old gentleman said no more, recovering consciousness shortly afterwards without knowing a word of what had happened.
Ta-cheng went back and told his brother, who did not altogether believe the story; Tsang-ku, however, hurried off with a number of men, and had soon dug a hole four or five feet deep, at the bottom of which they found a quantity of bricks and stones, but no gold. She then gave up the idea and returned home, Ta-cheng having meanwhile warned his mother and wife not to go near the place while she was digging. When Tsang-ku left, Mrs. An went herself to have a look, and seeing only bricks and earth mingled together, she too, retraced her steps. Shan-hu was the next to go, and she found the hole full of silver bullion; and then Ta-cheng repaired to the spot and saw that there was no mistake about it. Not thinking it right to apply this heirloon to his own private use, he now summoned Erh-cheng to share it; and having obtained twice as much as was necessary to redeem the estate, the brothers returned to their homes.
Erh-cheng and Tsang-ku opened their half together, when the bag was full of tiles and rubbish. They at once suspected Ta-cheng of deceiving them, and Erh-cheng ran off to see how things were going at his brother's. He arrived just as Ta-cheng was spreading the silver on the table, and with his mother and wife rejoicing over their acquisition; and when he had told them what had occurred, Ta-cheng expressed much sympathy for him, and at once presented him with his own half of the treasure. Erh-cheng was delighted, and paid off the mortgage on the land, feeling very grateful to his brother for such kindness. Tsang-ku, however, declared it was a proof that Ta-cheng had been cheating him; "for how otherwise," argued she, "can you understand a man sharing anything with another, and then resigning his own half ?"
Erh-cheng himself did not know what to think of it; but next day the mortgagee sent to say that the money paid in was all imitation silver, and that he was about to lay the case before the authorities. Husband and wife were greatly alarmed at this, and Tsang-ku exclaimed, "Well, I never thought your brother was as bad as this. He's simply trying to take your life." Erh-cheng himself was in a terrible fright, and hurried off to the mortgagee to entreat for mercy; but as the latter was extremely angry and would hear of no compromise, Erh-cheng was obliged to make over the property to him to dispose of himself. The money was then returned, and when he got home he found that two lumps had been cut through, showing merely an outside layer of silver, about as thick as an onion-leaf, covering nothing but copper within.
Tsang-ku and Erh-cheng then agreed to keep the broken pieces themselves, but send the rest back to Ta-cheng, with a message, saying that they were deeply indebted to him for all his kindness, and that they had ventured to retain two of the lumps of silver out of compliment to the giver; also that the property which remained to them was still equal to Ta-cheng's, that they had no use for much land, and accordingly had abandoned it, and that Ta-cheng could redeem it or not as he pleased. Ta-cheng, who did not perceive the intention in all this, refused to accept the land; however, Erh-cheng entreated him to do so, and at last he consented. When he came to weigh the money, he found it was five ounces short, and therefore bade Shan-hu pawn something from her jewel-box to make up the amount, with which he proceeded to pay off the mortgage. The mortgagee, suspecting it was the same money that had been offered him by Erh-cheng, cut the pieces in halves, and saw that it was all silver of the purest quality. Accordingly he accepted it in liquidation of his claim, and handed the mortgage back to Ta-cheng.
Meanwhile, Erh-cheng had been expecting some catastrophe; but when he found that the mortgaged land had been redeemed, he did not know what to make of it. Tsang-ku thought that at the time of the digging Ta-cheng had concealed the genuine silver, and immediately rushed off to his house, and began to revile them all round. Ta-cheng now understood why they had sent him back the money; and Shan-hu laughed and said, "The property is safe; why, then, this anger ?" Thereupon she made Ta-cheng hand over the deeds to Tsang-ku.
One night after this Erh-cheng's father appeared to him in a dream, and reproached him, saying, "Unfilial son, unfraternal brother, your hour is at hand. Wherefore usurp rights that do not belong to you?" In the morning Erh-cheng told Tsang-ku of his dream, and proposed to return the property to his brother; but she only laughed at him for a fool. Just then the eldest of his two sons, a boy of seven, died of small-pox, and this frightened Tsang-ku so that she agreed to restore the deeds. Ta-cheng would not accept them; and now the second child, a boy of three, died also; whereupon Tsang-ku seized the deeds, and threw them into her brother-in-law's house.
Spring was over, but the land was in a terribly neglected state; so Ta-cheng set to work and put it in order again. From this moment Tsang-ku was a changed woman towards her mother- and sister-in-law; and when, six months later, Mrs. An died, she was so grieved that she refused to take any nourishment. "Alas!" cried she, "that my mother-in-law has died thus early, and prevented me from waiting upon her. Heaven will not allow me to retrieve my past errors." Tsang-ku had thirteen children, but as none of them lived, they were obliged to adopt one of Ta-cheng's, who, with his wife, lived to a good old age, and had three sons, two of whom took their doctor's degree.
People said this was a reward for filial piety and brotherly love.
The wonderful stone (1)
In the prefecture of Shun-tien there lived a man named Hsing Yun-fei, who was an amateur mineralogist and would pay any price for a good specimen.
One day as he was fishing in the river, something caught his net, and diving down, he brought up a stone about a foot in diameter, beautifully carved on all sides to resemble clustering hills and peaks. He was quite as pleased with this as if he had found some precious stone; and having had an elegant sandal-wood stand made for it, he set his prize upon the table.
Whenever it was about to rain, clouds, which from a distance looked like new cotton-wool, would come forth from each of the holes or grottoes on the stone, and appear to close them up.
By-and-by an influential personage called at the house and begged to see the stone, immediately seizing it and handing it over to a lusty servant, at the same time whipping his horse and riding away. Hsing was in despair; but all he could do was to mourn the loss of his stone, and indulge his anger against the thief.
Meanwhile, the servant, who had carried off the stone on his back, stopped to rest at a bridge; when all of a sudden his hand slipped and the stone fell into the water. His master was extremely put out at this, and gave him a sound beating; subsequently hiring several divers, who tried every means in their power to recover the stone, but were quite unable to find it. He then went away, having first published a notice of reward, and by these means many were tempted to seek for the stone.
Soon after, Hsing himself came to the spot, and as he mournfully approached the bank, the water became clear, and he could see the stone lying at the bottom. Taking off his clothes, he quickly jumped in and brought it out, together with the sandal-wood stand, which was still with it. He carried it off home, but being no longer desirous of showing it to people, he had an inner room cleaned and put it in there.
Some time afterwards an old man knocked at the door and asked to be allowed to see the stone; whereupon Hsing replied that he had lost it a long time ago. "Isn't that it in the inner room ?" said the old man smiling. He then laid his hand upon the stone and said, "This is an old family relic of mine : I lost it many months since. How does it come to be here? I pray you now restore it to me." Hsing didn't know what to say, but declared he was the owner of the stone; upon which the old man remarked, "If it is really yours, what evidence can you bring to prove it ?" Hsing made no reply; and the old man continued, "To show you that I know this stone, I may mention that it has altogether ninety-two grottoes, and that in the largest of these are five words:
A stone from Heaven above."
Hsing looked and found that there were actually some small characters, no larger than grains of rice, which, by straining his eyes a little, he managed to read; also, that the number of grottoes was as the old man has said. However, he would not give him the stone; and the old man laughed, and asked, "Pray, what right have you to keep other people's things ?"
He then bowed and went away, Hsing escorting him as far as the door; but when he returned to the room, the stone had disappeared. In a great fright, he ran after the old man, who had walked slowly and was not far off, and seizing his sleeve entreated him to give back the stone. "Do you think," said the latter, "that I could conceal a stone a foot in diameter in my sleeve ?" But Hsing knew that he must be superhuman, and led him back to the house, where he threw himself on his knees and begged that he might have the stone.
"Is it yours or mine ?" asked the old man.
"Of course it is yours," replied Hsing, "though I hope you will consent to deny yourself the pleasure of keeping it."
The wonderful stone (2)
"In that case," said the old man, "it is back again;" and going into the inner room, they found the stone in its old place. "The jewels of this world," observed Hsing's visitor, "should be given to those who know how to take care of them. This stone can choose its own master, and I am very pleased that it should remain with you. At the same time I must inform you that it was in too great a hurry to come into the world of mortals, and has not yet been freed from all contingent calamities. I had better take it away with me, and three years hence you shall have it again. If, however, you insist on keeping it, then your span of life will be shortened by three years, that your terms of existence may harmonize together. Are you willing ?" Hsing said he was; whereupon the old man with his fingers closed up three of the stone's grottoes, which yielded to his touch like mud. When this was done, he turned to Hsing and told him that the grottoes on that stone represented the years of his life; and then he took his leave, firmly refusing to remain any longer, and not disclosing his name.
More than a year after this, Hsing had occasion to go away on business, and in the night a thief broke in and carried off the stone, taking nothing else at all. When Hsing came home, he was dreadfully grieved, as if his whole object in life was gone; and made all possible inquiries and efforts to get it back, but without the slightest result.
Some time passed away, when one day going into a temple, Hsing noticed a man selling stones, and amongst the rest he saw his old friend. Of course he immediately wanted to regain possession of it; but as the stone-seller would not consent, he shouldered the stone and went off to the nearest mandarin. The stone-seller was then asked what proof he could give that the stone was his; and he replied that the number of grottoes was eighty-nine. Hsing inquired if that was all he had to say, and when the other acknowledged that it was, he himself told the magistrate what were the characters inscribed within, also calling attention to the finger marks at the closed-up grottoes. He therefore gained his case, and the mandarin would have bambooed the stone-seller, had he not declared that he bought it in the market for twenty ounces of silver, -- whereupon he was dismissed.
A high official next offered Hsing one hundred ounces of silver for it; but he refused to sell it even for ten thousand, which so enraged the would-be purchaser that he worked up a case against Hsing, and got him put in prison. Hsing was thereby compelled to pawn a great deal of his property; and then the official sent some one to try to purchase the stone. Hsing, on hearing of the attempt, steadily refused to consent, saying that he and the stone could not be parted even in death. His wife, however, and his son, laid their heads together, and sent the stone to the high official, and Hsing only heard of it when he arrived home from the prison. He cursed his wife and beat his son, and frequently tried to make away with himself, though luckily his servants always managed to prevent him from succeeding.
At night he dreamt that a noble-looking personage appeared to him, and said, "My name is Shih Ching-hsu -- (Stone from Heaven). Do not grieve. I purposely quitted you for a year and more; but next year on the 20th day of the eighth moon, at dawn, come to the Hai-tai Gate and buy me back for two strings of cash." Hsing was overjoyed at his dream, and carefully took down the day mentioned. Meanwhile the stone was at the official's private house; but as the cloud manifestations ceased, the stone was less and less prized; and the following year when the official was disgraced for maladministration and subsequently died, Hsing met some of his servants at the Hai-tai Gate going off to sell the stone, and purchased it back from them for two strings of cash.
Hsing lived till he was eighty-nine; and then having prepared the necessaries for his interment, bade his son bury the stone with him, which was accordingly done. Six months later robbers broke into the vault and made off with the stone, and his son tried in vain to secure their capture. However, a few days after-wards, he was traveling with his servants, when suddenly two men rushed forth dripping with perspiration, and looking up into the air, acknowledged their crime saying, "Mr. Hsing, please don't torment us thus ! We took the stone, and sold it for only four ounces of silver." Hsing's son and his servants then seized these men, and took them before the magistrate, where they at once acknowledged their guilt. Asked what had become of the stone, they said they had sold it to a member of the magistrate's family; and when it was produced, that official took such a fancy to it that he gave it to one of his servants and bade him place it in the treasury. Thereupon the stone slipped out of the servant's hand and broke into a hundred pieces, to the great astonishment of all present. The magistrate now had the thieves bambooed and sent them away; but Hsing's son picked up the broken pieces of the stone, and buried them in his father's grave.
The young lady and of the Tung-Ting lake (1)
The spirits of the Tung-ting lake are very much in the habit of borrowing boats. Sometimes the cable of an empty junk will cast itself off, and away goes the vessel over the waves to the sound of music in the air above. The boatmen crouch down in one corner and hide their faces, not daring to look up until the trip is over and they are once more at their old anchorage.
Now a certain Mr. Lin, returning home after having failed at the examination for his Master's degree, was lying down very tipsy on the deck of his boat, when suddenly strains of music and singing began to be heard. The boatmen shook Mr. Lin, but failing to rouse him, ran down and hid themselves in the hold below. Then some one came and lifted him up, letting him drop again on to the deck, where he was allowed to remain in the same drunken sleep as before. By-and-by the noise of the various instruments became almost deafening, and Lin, partially waking up, smelt a delicious odor of perfumes filling the air around him. Opening his eyes, he saw that the boat was crowded with a number of beautiful girls; and knowing that something strange was going on, he pretended to be fast asleep.
There was then a call for Chih-cheng, upon which a young waiting-maid came forward and stood quite close to Mr. Lin's head. Her stockings were the colour of the kingfisher's wing, and her feet encased in tiny purple shoes, no bigger than one's finger. Much smitten with this young lady, he took hold of her stocking with his teeth, causing her, the next time she moved, to fall forward flat on her face. Some one, evidently in authority, asked what was the matter; and when he heard the explanation, was very angry, and gave orders to take off Mr. Lin's head. Soldiers now came and bound Lin, and on getting up he beheld a man sitting with his face to the south, and dressed in the garments of a king.
"Sire," cried Lin, as he was being led away, "the king of the Tung-ting lake was a mortal named Lin; your servant's name is Lin also. His Majesty was a disappointed candidate; your servant is one too. His Majesty met the Dragon Lady, and was made immortal; your servant has played a trick upon this girl, and he is to die. Why this inequality of fortunes ?"
When the king heard this, he bade them bring him back, and asked him, saying, "Are you, then, a disappointed candidate ?" Lin said he was; whereupon the king handed him writing materials, and ordered him to compose an ode upon a lady's headdress. Some time passed before Lin, who was a scholar of some repute in his own neighborhood, had done more than sit thinking about what he should write; and at length the king upbraided him, saying, "Come, come, a man of your reputation should not take so long."
"Sire," replied Lin, laying down his pen, "it took ten years to complete the Songs of the Three Kingdoms; whereby it may be known that the value of compositions depends more upon the labor given to them than the speed with which they are written." The king laughed, and waited patiently from early morning till noon, when a copy of the verses was put into his hand, with which he declared himself very pleased. He now commanded that Lin should be served with wine; and shortly after there followed a collation of all kinds of curious dishes, in the middle of which an officer came in and reported that the register of people to be drowned had been made up.
"How many in all ?" asked the king.
"Two hundred and twenty-eight," was the reply; and then the king inquired who had been deputed to carry it out; whereupon he was informed that the generals Mao and Nan had been appointed to do the work. Lin here rose to take leave, and the king presented him with ten ounces of pure gold and a crystal square, telling him it would preserve him from any danger he might encounter on the lake. At this moment the king's retinue and horses ranged themselves in proper order upon the surface of the lake; and his Majesty, stepping from the boat into his sedan-chair, disappeared from view.
When everything had been quiet for a long time, the boatmen emerged from the hold, and proceeded to shape their course northwards. The wind, however, was against them, and they were unable to make any headway; when all of a sudden an iron cat appeared floating on the top of the water. "General Mao has come," cried the boatmen, in great alarm; and they and all the passengers on board fell down on their faces. Immediately afterwards a great wooden beam stood up from the lake, nodding itself backwards and forwards, which the boatmen, more frightened than ever, said was General Nan. Before long a tremendous sea was raging, the sun was darkened in the heavens, and every vessel in sight was capsized. But Mr. Lin sat in the middle of the boat, with the crystal square in his hand, and the mighty waves broke around without doing them any harm. Thus were they saved, and Lin returned home; and whenever he told his wonderful story, he would assert that, although unable to speak positively as to the facial beauty of the young lady he had seen, he dared say that she had the most exquisite pair of feet in the world.
The young lady and of the Tung-Ting lake (2)
Subsequently having occasion to visit the city of Wu-chang, he heard of an old woman who wished to sell her daughter, but was unwilling to accept money, giving out that anyone who had the fellow of a certain crystal square in her possession should be at liberty to take the girl. Lin thought this very strange; and taking his square with him, sought out the old woman, who was delighted to see him, and told her daughter to come in.
The young lady was about fifteen years of age, and possessed of surpassing beauty; and after saying a few words of greeting, she turned round and went within again. Lin's reason had almost fled at the sight of this peerless girl, and he straightway informed the old woman that he had such an article as she required, but could not say whether it would match hers or not. So they compared their squares together, and there was not a fraction of difference between them, either in length or breadth. The old woman was overjoyed, and inquiring where Lin lived, bade him go home and get a bridal chair, leaving his square behind him as a pledge of his good faith. This he refused to do; but the old woman laughed, and said, "You are too cautious, Sir; do you think I should run away for a square ?" Lin was thus constrained to leave it behind him, and hurrying away for a chair made the best of his way back.
However, when he returned the old woman was gone. In great alarm he inquired of the people who lived near as to her whereabouts. No one knew; and it being already late, he returned disconsolately to his boat.
On the way, he met a chair coming towards him, and immediately the screen was drawn aside, and a voice cried out, "Mr. Lin ! Why so late ?" Looking closely, he saw that it was the old woman, who, after asking him if he hadn't suspected her of playing him false, told him that just after he left she had had the offer of a chair; and knowing that he, being only a stranger in the place, would have some trouble in obtaining one, she had sent her daughter on to his boat.
Lin then begged she would return with him, to which she would not consent; and accordingly, not fully trusting what she said, he hurried on himself as fast as he could, and, jumping into the boat, found the young lady already there. She rose to meet him with a smile, and then he was astonished to see that her stockings were the color of a kingfisher's wing, her shoes purple, and her appearance generally like that of the girl he had met on the Tung-ting lake. While he was still confused, the young lady remarked, "You stare, Sir, as if you had never seen me before!" but just then Lin noticed the tear in her stocking made by his own teeth, and cried out in amazement, "What! are you Chih-cheng ?" The young lady laughed at this; whereupon Lin rose, and, making her a profound bow, said, "If you are that divine creature, I pray you tell me at once, and set my anxiety at rest."
"Sir," replied she, "I will tell you all. That personage you met on the boat was actually the king of the Tung-ting lake. He was so pleased with your talent that he wished to bestow me upon you; but, because I was a great favorite with her Majesty the Queen, he went back to consult with her. I have now come at the Queen's own command." Lin was highly pleased; and washing his hands, burnt incense, with his face towards the lake, as if it were the Imperial Court, and then they went home together.
Subsequently, when Lin had occasion to go to Wu-chang, his wife asked to be allowed to avail herself of the opportunity to visit her parents; and when they reached the lake, she drew a hairpin from her hair, and threw it into the water. Immediately a boat rose from the lake, and Lin's wife, stepping into it, vanished from sight like a bird on the wing. Lin remained waiting for her on the prow of his vessel, at the spot where she had disappeared; and by-and-by, he beheld a houseboat approach, from the window of which there flew a beautiful bird, which was no other than Chih-cheng. Then some one handed out from the same window gold and silk, and precious things in great abundance, all presents to them from the Queen. After this, Chih-cheng went home regularly twice every year, and Lin soon became a very rich man, the things he had being such as no one had ever before seen or heard of.
Certain Winds from the South 1
M'ma Asana eyed the wretched pile of cola-nuts, spat, and picked up the reed-bowl. Then she put down the bowl, picked up one of the nuts, bit at it, threw it back, spat again, and stood up. First, a sharp little ache, just a sharp little one, shot up from somewhere under her left ear. Then her eyes became misty.
'I must check on those logs,' she thought, thinking this misting of her eyes was due to the chill in the air. She stooped over the nuts. 'You never know what evil eyes are prowling this dust over these grasslands, I must pick them up quickly.'
On the way back to the kraal her eyes fell on the especially patchy circles that marked where the old pits had been. At this time, in the old days, they would have been nearly bursting and as one scratched out the remains of the out-going season, one felt a near-sexual thrill of pleasure looking at these pits, just as one imagines a man might feel who looks upon his wife in the ninth month of pregnancy.
Pregnancy and birth and death and pain; and death again when there are no more pregnancies, there are no more births, and therefore, no more deaths. But there is only one death and only one pain.
Show me a fresh corpse, my sister, so I can weep you old tears.
The pit of her belly went cold, then her womb moved and she had to lean by the doorway. In twenty years Fuseni's has been the only pregnancy and the only birth. Twenty years, and the first child and a male! In the old days, there would have been bucks and you got scolded for serving a woman in maternity a duicker. But these days those mean poachers on the government reserves sneak away their miserable duickers, such wretched hinds! Yes they sneak away even the duickers to the houses of those sweet-toothed southerners.
In the old days, how time goes, and how quickly age comes. But then does one expect to grow younger when one starts getting grandchildren? Allah be praised for a grandson.
The fire was still strong when she returned to the room. M'ma Asana put the nuts down. She craned her neck into the corner. At least those logs should take them to the following week. For the rest of the evening, she sat about preparing for the morrow's marketing.
The evening prayers were done. The money was in the bag. The grassland was still, Hawa was sleeping and so was Fuseni. M'ma came out to the main gate, first to check up if all was well outside and then to draw the door across. It was not the figure, but rather the soft rustle of light footsteps trying to move still more lightly over the grass, that caught her attention.
'If only it could be my husband.'
But of course it was not her husband!
'It is me, M'ma.'
'You, Issa, my son?'
'They are asleep.'
'I thought so. That is why I am coming now.'
There was a long pause in the conversation as they both hesitated about whether the son-in-law should go in to see Hawa and the baby or not. Nothing was said about this struggle but then one does not say everything.
M'ma Asana did not see but felt him win the battle. She crossed the threshold outside and drew the door behind her. Issa led the way. They did not walk far, however. They just turned into a corner between two of the projecting pillars in the wall of the kraal. It was as it should have been for it was he who needed the comforting coolness of it for his backbone.
'M'ma, is Fuseni well?'
'M'ma; is Hawa well?'
'M'ma please tell me, is Fuseni very well?'
'A-ah, my son. For what are you troubling yourself so much? Fuseni is a new baby who was born not more than ten
Certain Winds from the South 2
days ago. How can I tell you he is very well? When a grown-up goes to live in other people's village...'
'What is it?'
'No. Please, it is nothing.'
'My son, I cannot understand you this evening ... yes, if you, a grown-up person, go to live in another village, will you say after the first few days that you are perfectly well?'
'Shall you not get yourself used to their food? Shall you not find first where you can get water for yourself and your sheep?'
'Then how is it you ask me if Fuseni is very well? The navel is healing very fast ... and how would it not? Not a single navel of all that I have cut here got infected. Shall I now cut my grandson's and then sit and see it rot? But it is his male that I can't say. Mallam did it neat and proper and it must be all right. Your family is not noted for males that rot, is it now?'
'Then let your heart lie quiet in your breast. Fuseni is well but we cannot say how well yet.'
'I have heard you, M'ma. M'ma?'
'Yes, my son.'
'M'ma, I am going south.'
'Where did you say?'
'As far as the sea. M'ma, I thought you would understand.'
'Have I spoken yet?'
'No, you have not.'
'Then why did you say that?'
'That was not well said.'
'And what are you going to do there?'
'Find some work.'
'I do not know.'
'Yes, you know, you are going to cut grass.'
'But my son, why must you travel that far just to cut grass? Is there not enough of it all round here? Around this kraal, your father's and all the others in the village? Why do you not cut these?'
'M'ma, you know it is not the same. If I did that here people would think I was mad. But over there, I have heard that not only do they like it but the government pays you to do it.'
'Even so, our men do not go south to cut grass. This is for those further north. They of the wilderness, it is they who go south to cut grass. This is not for our men.'
'Please M'ma, already time is going. Hawa is a new mother and Fuseni my first child.'
'And yet you are leaving them to go south and cut grass.'
'But M'ma, what will be the use of my staying here and watching them starve? You yourself know that all the cola went bad, and even if they had not, with trade as it is, how much money do you think I would have got from them? And that is why I am going. Trade is broken and since we do not know when things will be good again, I think it will be better for me to go away.'
'Does Hawa know?'
'No, she does not.'
'Are you coming to wake her up at this late hour to tell her?'
'You are wise.'
'M'ma, I have left everything in the hands of Amadu. He will come and see Hawa tomorrow.'
'When shall we expect you back?'
'M'ma.' 'When shall we expect you back?'
'M'ma, I do not know. Perhaps next Ramadan.'
'So I go now.'
'Allah go, with you.'
'And may His prophet look after you all.'
M'ma went straight back to bed, but not to sleep. And how could she sleep? At dawn, her eyes were still wide open.
'Is his family noted for males that rot? No, certainly not. It is us who are noted for our unlucky females. There must be
Certain Winds from the South 3
something wrong with them ... Or how is it we cannot hold our men? Allah, how is it?
'Twenty years ago. Twenty years, perhaps more than twenty years ... perhaps more than twenty years and Allah, please, give me strength to tell Hawa.
'Or shall I go to the market now and then tell her when I come back? No. Hawa, Hawa, now look at how you are stretched down there like a log! Does a mother sleep like this? Hawa, H-a-a-w-a! Oh, I shall not leave you alone ... and how can you hear your baby when it cries in the night since you die when you sleep?
'Listen to her asking me questions! Yes, it is broad daylight. I thought you really were dead. If it is cold, draw your blanket round you and listen to me for I have something to tell you.
'Hawa, Issa has gone south.
'And why do you stare at me with such shining eyes. I am telling you that Issa is gone south.
'And what question do you think you are asking me? How could he take you along when you have a baby whose navel wound has not even healed yet?
'He went away last night.
'Don't ask me why I did not come and wake you up. What should I have woken you up for? Listen, Issa said he could not stay here and just watch you and Fuseni starve.
'He is going south to find work, and ... Hawa, where do you think you are getting up to go? Issa is not at the door waiting for you. The whole neighbourhood is not up yet, so do not let me shout ... and why are you behaving like a baby? Now you are a mother and you must decide to grow up ... where are you getting up to go? Listen to me telling you this. Issa is gone. He went last night because he wants to catch the government bus that leaves Tamale very early in the morning. So ...
'Hawa, ah-ah, are you crying? Why are you crying? That your husband has left you to go and work? Go on weeping, for he will bring the money to look after me and not you ...
'I do not understand, you say? Maybe I do not ... See, now you have woken up Fuseni. Sit down and feed him and listen to me.
'Listen to me and I will tell you of another man who left his newborn child and went away.
'Did he come back? No, he did not come back. But do not ask me any more questions for I will tell you all.
'He used to go and come, then one day he went away and never came back. Not that he had to go like the rest of them...
'Oh, they were soldiers. I am talking of a soldier. He need not have gone to be a soldier. After all, his father was one of the richest men of this land. He was not the eldest son, that is true, but still there were so many things he could have done to look after himself and his wife when he came to marry. But he would not listen to anybody. How could he sit by and have other boys out-do him in smartness?
'Their clothes that shone and shone with pressing ... I say, you could have looked into any of them and put khole under your eyes. And their shoes, how they roared! You know soldiers for yourself. Oh, the stir on the land when they came in from the south! Mothers spoke hard and long to daughters about the excellencies of proper marriages, while fathers hurried through with betrothals. Most of them were afraid of getting a case like that of Memunat on their hands. Her father had taken the cattle and everything and then Memunat goes and plays with a soldier. Oh, the scandal she caused herself then!
'Who was this Memunat? No, she is not your friend's mother. No, this Memunat in the end ran away south herself. We hear she became a bad woman in the city and made a lot of money.
'No, we do not hear of her now. She is not dead either, for we hear such women usually go to their homes to die, and she has not come back here yet.
'But us, we are different. I had not been betrothed.
'Do you ask me why I say "we"? Because this man was your father. Ah-ah, you open your mouth and eyes wide? Yes, my child, it is of your father I am speaking.
'No, I was not lying when I told you that he died. But keep quiet and listen. He was going south to get himself a house for married soldiers.
'No, it was not that time he did not come back. He came here, but not to fetch me.
'He asked us if we had heard of the war.
Certain Winds from the South 4
'Had we not heard of the war? Was it not difficult to get things like tinned fish, kerosene and cloth?
'Yes, we said, but we thought it was only because the traders were not bringing them in.
'Well yes, he said, but the traders do not get them even in the south.
'And why, we asked.
'Oh you people, have you not heard of the German people? He had no patience with us. He told us that in the south they were singing dirty songs with their name.
'But when are we going, I asked him?
'What he told me was that that was why he had come. He could not take me along with him. You see, he said we were under the Anglis-people's rule and they were fighting with the German-people.
'Ask me, my child, for that was exactly what I asked him. What has all that got to do with you and me? Why can I not come south with you?'
'Because I have to travel to the lands beyond the sea and fight.
'In other people's war? My child, it is as if you were there, that is what I asked him.
'But it is not as simple as that, he said.
'We could not understand him. You shall not go, said his father. You shall not go, for it is not us fighting with the Grunshies or the Gonjas.
'I know about the Anglis-people but not about any German- people, but anyway they are in their country.
'Of course his father was playing, and so was I.
'A soldier must obey at all times, he said.
'I wanted to give him so many things to take with him but he said he could only take cola.
'Then the news came. It did not enter my head, for it was all empty. Everything went into my womb. You were just three days old.
'The news was like fire which settled in the pit of my belly. And from time to time, some will shoot up, searing my womb, singeing my intestines and burning up and up and up until I screamed with madness when it got into my head.
'I had told myself when you were born that it did not matter you were a girl. All gifts from Allah are good and anyway he was coming back and we were going to have many more children, lots of sons.
'But Hawa, you had a lot of strength, for how you managed to live I do not know. Three days you were and suddenly like a rivulet that is hit by an early harmattan, my breasts went dry. Hawa, you have a lot of strength.
'Later, they told me that if I could go south and prove to the government's people that I was his wife I would get a lot of money.
'But I did not go. It was him I wanted not his body turned into gold.
'I never saw the south.
'Do you say "oh"? My child I am always telling you that the world was created a long while ago and it is old-age one has seen but not youth. So do not say "oh".
'Those people, the government's people, who come and go, tell us trade is bad now, and once again there is no tinned fish and no cloth. But this time they say this is because our children are going to get them in abundance one day.
'Issa has gone south now because he cannot afford even goat flesh for his wife in maternity. This has to be, so that Fuseni can stay with his wife and eat cow-meat with her? Hmm. And he will come back alive ... perhaps not next Ramadan but the next. Now my daughter, you know of another man who went to fight. And he went to fight in other people's war and he never came back.
'I am going to the market now. Get up early to wash Fuseni. I hope to get something for those miserable colas. There is enough rice for two, is there not?
'Good. Today even if it takes all the money, I hope to get us some smoked fish, the biggest I can find, to make us a real good sauce.' .
A Recipe for Immortality
Astranger informed the Prince of Yen that he could make him immortal, and the Prince bade one of his subjects learn this art : but before the man could do so the stranger died. Then the prince, in great anger, executed his subject.
He failed to see that the stranger was cheating him, but taken in by his lies had an innocent citizen killed. This shows what a fool he was ! For a man values nothing more than his own life, yet this fellow could not even keep himself alive, so what could he do for the prince ?
Someone or something that is immortal will live or last for ever and never die or be destroyed.
If you are taken in by someone or something, you are deceived by them , so that you get a false impression of them.
Why Tseng Shen killed the Pig
One day, when Tseng Shen's wife was going to the market, their son cried and wanted to go with her.
" Go back now ! " she wheedled him, " When I get home we'll kill the pig for you. "
Upon her return, she found Tseng Shen about to kill the pig. She hastily stopped him.
" I didn't really mean it, " she protested. " I just said that to keep the boy quiet. "
" How can you deceive a child like that ?" asked Tseng Shen. Children know nothing to begin with, but they copy their parents and learn from them. When you cheat the boy, you are teaching him to lie. If a mother deceives her child, he will not trust her, and that is no way to bring him up.
So he killed the pig after all.
If you say that someone wheedles, you mean they try to persuade someone to do or give them what they want, for example by saying nice things that they do not mean; used showing disapproval.
The Conceited Coachman
One day Yen Tzu, prime minister of the state of Chi, went out in his carriage. His coachman's wife, from her gate, saw her husband looking thoroughtly smug and conceited under the great carriage awning as he drove his four horses.
When the coachman went home, his wife told him she wanted to leave him.
Her husband asked her why.
" Yen Tzu is prime minister of Chi, " she replied. " He is famed throughtout the states. But I saw him out today, deep in thought and not giving himself any airs. You are only a coachman, yet you look so conceited and pleased with yourself. That's why I want to leave you. "
After this, her husband behaved more modestly. When Yen Tzu, surprised, inquired the reason for this change, the coachman told him the truth. Then Yen Tzu recommended him for an official post.
If you say that someone is smug, you are criticizing the fact they seem very pleased with how good, clever, or fortunate they are.
If you say that someone is conceited, you are showing your disapproval of the fact that they are far too proud of their abilities or achievements.
The difference between Fifty yards and a Hundred
" I have done my best for the state, Prince Huei of Liang told Menciu. When the crops fail west of the river. I move the people east or bring grain from the east to relieve them. If the crops are poor in the east, I do the same. When I look at the rulers of other states, none of them does so much for his people as I do, yet their populations have not decreased, while mine has not inceased. Can you tell me why ? "
" Since Your Majesty loves fighting ", answered Mencius, " let me take an example from that. Once the drums sound, the troops engage the enemy. The those who are defeated abandon their armour and retreat, trailing their weapons behind them. Suppose one man runs a hundred yards and another man fifty, is the one who has fled only fifty right to laugh at the one who has fled a hundred ?"
" Of course not ", replied Prince Huei. He may not have gone a hundred yards, but he has turned tail just the same.
If your Majesty understands this, responded Mencius, you should not expect your population to be greater than that of any of the neighbouring states.
If you turn tail, you turn and run away.
The Fox who profited from the Tiger's might
While hunting for prey, the tiger caught a fox.
You can't eat me ! said the fox. The Emperor of Heaven appointed me king of the beasts. If you eat me you'll be disobeying his orders. If you don't believe me, follow me.You will soon see whether the other animals run away at the sight of me or not.
Agreeing to this, the tiger accompanied him ; and all the beasts saw them they dashed away. Not realizing that they were afraid of him, the tiger thought they were afraid of the fox.
If you dash somewhere, you run or go there quickly and suddenly.
Buying a good horse
There was a king who was willing to pay a thousand pieces of gold for a horse that could run a thousand mile without stopping. For three years he tried in vain to find such a steed.
Then someone offered Let me look for a horse for Your Majesty.
The king agreed to this.
After three months this man came back, having spent five hundred pieces of gold on a horse's skull.
The king was most enraged.
I want a live horse he roared. What use is a dead horse to me ? Why spend five hundred pieces of gold on nothing ?
But the man replied if you will spend five hundred pieces of gold on a dead horse, won't you give much more for a live one? When people hear of this, they will know you are really willing to pay for a good horse, and will quickly send you their best.
Sure enough, in less than a year the king succeeded in buying three excellent horses.
If you do something in vain, you are critical of their extreme pride in their own beauty, intelligence, or other good qualities.
Marking the boat to locate the Sword
A man of the state of Chu was ferrying across a river when his sword fell into the water. He lost no time in marking the side of the boat.
" This is where my sword dropped," he said
When the boat moored, he got into the water to look for his sword by the place which he had marked. But since the boat had moved while the sword had not, this method of locating his sword proved unsuccessful.
If you moor a boat or if you moor, you stop in a place and attach the boat to the land with a rope or cable so that it cannot drift away.
The owl moves house
One day the owl met the turtle dove.
Where are you going ? inquired the turtle dove
" I am moving east." said the owl
" Why is that ?" asked the dove
" All the people here dislike my hoot," replied the owl. That's why I want to move east.
If you change your voice, said the dove, then it will be all right. But if you can't, even if you move east, the people there dislike you just the same.
When an owl hoots, it makes a sound like a long ' oo '.
The ointment for chapped hands
A family in the state of Sung made an excellent ointment for chapped hands ; so for generations they engaged in laundering. A man who heard of this offered a hundred pieces of gold for their recipe.
We have been in the laundry trade for generations, said this family as they discussed the matter. But we never made more than a few pieces of gold. Today we can sell our recipe for a hundred pieces. By all means let us sell it.
Now the state of Yueh was invading the state of Wu, and having bought the recipe this man presented it to the Prince of Wu, who thereupon made him a general. His troops fought a naval action with those of Yueh that winter, and completely routed the enemy. Then the prince made him a noble, rewarding him with a fief.
Thus the same ointment for chaps could win a fief or simply aid laundrymen.
All depends upon the use to which things are put.
If an army, sports team, or other group routs its opponents, it defeats them completely and easily .....
Three chestnuts or four
A monkey-trainer in the state of Sung was fond of monkeys and kept a great many of them. He was able to understand them and they understand him too. Indeed, he used to save some of his family's food for them. But a time came when there was not much food left at home, and he wanted to cut down the monkeys' rations. He feared, however, they might not agree to this, and decided to deceive them.
I'll give you threee chestnuts each morning and four each evening, he said. " Will that be enough ? "
All the monkeys rose up to express their anger.
" Well, what about four in the morning and three in the evening :" he asked.
Then the monkeys squatted down again, feeling quite satisted.
When there is a shortage of something, your ration of it is the amount that you are allowed to have.
It was the custom in Hantan to catch doves to present to the prince on New Year's Day, for this pleased him so much that he gave rich rewards. Someone asked the prince the reason for this custom.
" I free the doves at New Year to show my kindness," he said.
" Since your subjects know you want doves to set free, they all set about catching them," objected the other. And the result is that many doves are killed. If you really want to save the doves, you had better forbid people catch them.
As things are, you ctch them to free them, and your kindness cannot make up for the damage you do.
The prince agreed with him.
Too many paths
One of Yang Tzu's neighbours,who lost a sheep, sent all his men out to find it, and asked Yang Tzu's servant to join in the search.
" What !" exclaimed Yang Tzu. " Do you need all those men to find one sheep ?"
" There are so many paths it may have taken," the neighbour explained. When his servant returned, Yang Tzu asked him : " Well, did you find the sheep ?"
He answered that they had not. Then Yang Tzu asked how they had failed o find it.
" There are too many paths," replied the servant. One path leads to another, and we didn't know which to take, so we hd to come back.
At that Yang Tzu looked very thoughtful. He was silent for a long time, and did not smile all day.
His pupils were surprised.
" A sheep is a trifle," they said, " and this wasn't even yours. Why should you stop talking and smiling ?"
Yang Tzu did not answer, and his pupils were puzzled.
One of them, Meng-sun Yang, went out to describe what had happened to Hsin-tu Tzu.
" When there are too many paths," said Hsin-tu Tzu, " a man cannot find his sheep. When a student has too many interests, he fritters away his time. The source of all knowledge is one, but the branches of learning are many. Only by returning to the primal truth can a man avoid losing his way. You are Yang Tzu's pupil and study from him, yet you seem to have failed completely to understsand him."
If someone fritters away time or money, they waste it on unimportant or unnecessary thing.
The cicada, the praying mantis and the sparrow
The prince of Wu decided to attack the state of Chu. He gave a stern warning to his subjects that anyone who raised objections would be put to death.
One of his stewards wanted to protest, but dared not. Instead, he took a catapult and pellets and wandered in the back courtyeard until his clothes were wet with dew. He did this for three mornings.
Come here, ordered the prince. " What are you doing to make your clothes wet with dew ?"
" There is a tree in the garden, " replied the steward, and on it there is a cicada. This cicada perches up there, chirping away and drinking the dew, not knowing that there is a praying mantis behind it. And the praying mantis leans forward, raising its forelegs to catch the cicada, not knowing that there is a sparrow beside it. The sparrow, again, cranes its neck to peck at the praying mantis, not knowing that there is someone with a catapult waiting below. These three small creatures are so eager to profit by something directly in front of them that they fail to realize the danger behind.
" Well said, " replied the prince and he gave up his plan of invasion.
When a bird perches on something such as a branch or a wall, it lands on it and stands there.
If you crane your neck or head, you stretch your neck in a particular direction in order to see or hear something better.
The Wrong Direction
The Prince of Wei decided to invade Hantan, the capital of the state of Chao. Although Chi-liang was on a journey when he heard this, he turned back at once and, without waiting to smooth his crumpled garments or brush the dust from his head, went to see the king.
" On my way back," he said, I came across a man at Taihang Mountain, who was riding northwards. He told me he was going to the state of Chu.
" In that case, why are you heading north" ? I asked him.
" That's all right," he replied. I have good horses.
Your horses may be good, but you're taking the wrong direction.
Well, I have plenty of money.
You may have plenty of money, but this is the wrong direction.
Well, I have an excellent charioteer.
" The better your horses," I told him, " the more money you have and the more skilled your charioteer, the further you will get from the state of Chu."
If you crumple something such as paper o cloth, or if it crumples, it is squashed and becomes full of untidy creases and folds.
In ancient time, a charioteer was a chariot driver. Chariots were fast-moving vehicles with two wheels that were pulled by horses.
The Buddhist Priest of Chang-Ching
At Chang-ching there lived a Buddhist priest of exceptional virtue and purity of conduct, who, though over eighty years of age, was still hale and hearty. One day he fell down and could not move; and when the other priests rushed to help him up, they found he was already gone. The old priest was himself unconscious of death, and his soul flew away to the borders of the province of Honan.
Now it chanced that the scion of an old family residing in Honan had gone out that very day with some ten or a dozen followers to hunt the hare with falcons; but his horse having run away with him, he fell off and was killed.
Just at that moment the soul of the priest came by and entered into the body, which thereupon gradually recovered consciousness. The servants crowded round to ask him how he felt, when opening his eyes wide, he cried out, "How did I get here ?" They assisted him to rise, and led him into the house, where all his ladies came to see him and inquire how he did. In great amazement he said, "I am a Buddhist priest. How came I hither ?" His servants thought he was wandering, and tried to recall him by pulling his ears. As for himself, he could make nothing of it, and closing his eyes, refrained from saying anything further.
For food he would only eat rice, refusing all wine and meat; and avoided the society of his wives. After some days he felt inclined for a stroll, at which all his family were delighted; but no sooner had he got outside and stopped for a little rest than he was besieged by servants begging him to take their accounts as usual. However, he pleaded illness and want of strength, and not wishing to tire him, they said no more.
He then took occasion to ask if they knew the district of Chang-ching, and on being answered in the affirmative expressed his intention of going thither for a trip, as he felt anxious about those he had left to their own resources, at the same time bidding the servants look after his affairs at home. They tried to dissuade him from this on the ground of his having but recently risen from a sick bed; but he paid no heed to their remonstrances, and on the very next day set out.
Arriving in the Chang-ching district, he found everything un- changed; and without being put to the necessity of asking the road, made his way straight to the monastery. His former disciples received him with every token of respect as an honoured visitor; and in reply to his question as to where the old priest was, they informed him that their worthy teacher had been dead for some time. On asking to be shewn his grave, they led him to a spot where there was a solitary mound some three feet high, over which the grass was not yet green. Not one of them knew his motives for visiting this place; and by-and-by he ordered his horse, saying to the disciples, "Your master was a virtuous priest. Carefully preserve whatever relics of him you may have, and keep them from injury." They all promised to do this, and he then set off on his way home.
When he arrived there, he fell into a listless state and took no interest in his family affairs. So much so, that after a few months he ran away and went straight to his former home at the monastery, telling the disciples that he was their old master. This they refused to believe, and laughed among themselves at his pretensions; but he told them the whole story, and recalled many incidents of his previous life among them, until at last they were convinced. He then occupied his old bed and went through the same daily routine as before, paying no attention to the repeated en- treaties of his family, who came with carriages and horses to beg him to return.
About a year subsequently, his wife sent one of the servants with splendid presents of gold and silk, all of which he refused with the exception of a single linen robe. And whenever any of his old friends passed this monastery, they always went to pay him their respects, finding him quiet, dignified, and pure. He was then barely thirty, though he had been a priest for more than eighty years.
by and by
after a short period, after a while
Chang Yu-tan, of Chao-yuan, was a wild fellow, who pursued his studies at the Hsiao temple. Now it chanced that the magistrate of the district, Mr. Tseng of San-han, had a daughter who was very fond of hunting, and that one day young Chang met her in the fields, and was much struck with her great beauty. She was dressed in an embroidered sable jacket, and rode about on a small palfrey, for all the world like a girl in a picture. Chang went home with the young lady still in his thoughts, his heart being deeply touched; but he soon after heard, to his infinite sorrow and dismay, that Miss Tseng had died suddenly.
Their own home being at a distance, her father deposited the coffin in a temple; the very temple, in fact, where her lover was residing. Accordingly Chang paid to her remains the same respect he would have offered to a god; he burnt incense every morning, and poured out libations at every meal, always accompanied by the following invocation: - "I had hardly seen you when your spirit became ever present to me in my dreams. But you passed suddenly away; and now, near as we are together, we are as far apart as if separated by hills and rivers. Alas! alas! In life you were under the control of your parents; now, however, there is nothing to restrain you, and with your supernatural power, I should be hearing the rustle of your robe as you approach to ease the sorrow of my heart."
Day and night he prayed thus, and when some six months had passed away, and he was one night trimming his lamp to read, he raised his head and saw a young lady standing, all smiles, before him. Rising up, he inquired who she was; to which his visitor replied, "Grateful to you for your love of me, I was unable to resist the temptation of coming to thank you myself." Chang then offered her a seat, and they sat together chatting for some time.
From this date the young lady used to come in every evening, and on one occasion said to Chang, "I was formerly very fond of riding and archery, shooting the musk and slaying the deer; my crime is so great that I can find no repose in death. If you have any friendly feelings towards me, I pray you recite for me the Diamond sutra' five thousand and forty-eight times, and I will never forget your kindness." Chang did as he was asked, getting up every night and telling his beads before the coffin, until the occasion of a certain festival, when he wished to go home to his parents, and take the young lady with him. Miss Tseng said she was afraid her feet were too tender to walk far; but Chang offered to carry her, to which she laughingly assented. It was just like carrying a child, she was so light; and by degrees Chang got so accustomed to taking her about with him, that when he went up for his examination she went in too.' The only thing was she could not travel except at night. Later on, Chang would have gone up for his master's degree, but the young lady told him it was of no use to try, for it was not destined that he should pass; and accordingly he desisted from his intention.
Four or five years afterwards, Miss Tseng's father resigned his appointment, and so poor was he that he could not afford to pay for the removal of his daughter's coffin, but wanted to bury it economically where it was. Unfortunately, he had no ground of his own, and then Chang came forward and said that a friend of his had a piece of waste land near the temple, and that he might bury it there. Mr. Tseng was very glad to accept, and Chang kindly assisted him with the funeral - for what reason the former was quite unable to guess.
One night after this, as Miss Tseng was sitting by Chang's side, her father having already returned home, she burst into a flood of tears, and said, "For five years we have been good friends; we must now part. I can never repay your goodness to me." Chang was alarmed, and asked her what she meant; to which she replied, "Your sympathy has told for me in the realms below. The sum of my sutras is complete, and to-day I am to be born again in the family of a high official, Mr. Lu, of Ho-pei. If you do not forget the present time, meet me there in fifteen years from now, on the 16th of the 8th moon."
"Alas!" cried Chang, "I am already over thirty, and in fifteen years more I shall be drawing near the wood.' What good will our meeting do ?"
"I can be your servant," replied Miss Tseng, "and so make some return to you. But come, escort me a few miles on my way; the road is beset with brambles, and I shall have some trouble with my dress."
So Chang carried her as before, until they reached a high road, where they found a number of carriages and horses, the latter with one or two riders on the backs of each, and three or four, or even more persons, in every carriage. But there was one richly- decorated carriage, with embroidered curtains and red awnings, in which sat only one old woman, who, when she saw Miss Tseng, called out, "Ah, there you are."
"Here I am," replied Miss Tseng; and then she turned to Chang and said, "We must part here; do not forget what I told you." Chang promised he would remember; and then the old wo- man helped her up into the carriage, round went the wheels, off went the attendants, and they were gone.
Chang's transformation (2)
Sorrowfully Chang wended his way home, and there wrote upon the wall the date mentioned by Miss Tseng; after which, be- thinking himself of the efficacy of prayer, he took to reciting sutras more energetically than ever. By-and-by he dreamed that an angel appeared to him, and said, "The bent of your mind is excellent indeed, but you must visit the Southern Sea. Asking how far off the Southern Sea was, the angel informed him it was close by; and then waking up, and understanding what was required of him, he fixed his sole thoughts on Buddha, and lived a purer life than before. In three years' time his two sons, Ming and Cheng, came out very high on the list at the examination for the second degree, in spite of which worldly successes Chang continued to lead his usual holy life.
Then one night he dreamed that another angel led him among beautiful halls and palaces, where he saw a personage sitting down who resembled Buddha himself. This personage said to him, "My son, your virtue is a matter of great joy; unhappily your term of life is short, and I have, therefore, made an appeal to God' on your behalf." Chang prostrated himself, and knocked his head upon the ground; upon which he was commanded to rise, and was served with tea, fragrant as the epidendrum. A boy was next instructed to take him to bathe in a pool, the water of which was so exquisitely clear that he could count the fishes swimming about therein. He found it warm as he walked in, and scented like the leaves of the lotus-flower; and gradually the water got deeper and deeper, until he went down altogether and passed through with his head under water.
He then waked up in a fright; but from this moment he became more robust and his sight improved. As he stroked his beard the white hairs all came out, and by-and-by the black ones too; the wrinkles on his face were smoothed away, and in a few months he had the beardless face of a boy of fifteen or sixteen. He also grew very fond of playing about like other boys, and would sometimes tumble head over heels, and be picked up by his sons. Soon after- wards his wife died of old age, and his sons begged him to marry again into some good family; but he said he should be obliged to go to Ho-pei first; and then, calculating his dates, found that the appointed time had arrived. So he ordered his horses and servants, and set off for Ho-pei, where he discovered that there actually was a high official named Lu.
Now Mr. Lu had a daughter, who when born was able to talk,, and became very clever and beautiful as she grew up. She was the idol of her parents, and had been asked in marriage by many suitors, but would not accept any of them; and when her father and mother inquired her motives for refusal, she told them the story of her engagement in her former life. "Silly child," said they, reckoning up the time, and laughing at her; "that Mr. Chang would now be about fifty years of age, a changed and feeble old man. Even if he is still alive, his hair will be white and his teeth gone." But their daughter would not listen to them; and, finding her so obstinate in her determination, they instructed the doorkeeper to admit no strangers until the appointed time should have passed, that thus her expectations might be brought to naught.
Before long, Chang arrived, but the doorkeeper would not let him in, and he went back to his inn in great distress, not knowing what to do. He then took to walking about the fields, and secretly making inquiries concerning the family. Meanwhile Miss Tseng thought that he had broken his engagement, and refused all food, giving herself up to tears alone. Her mother argued that he was probably dead, or in any case that the breach of engagement was no fault of her daughter's; to none of which, however, would Miss Tseng listen, lying where she was the livelong day.
Mr. Lu now became anxious about her, and determined to see what manner of man this Chang might be; so, on the plea of taking a walk, he went out to meet him in the fields, and to his astonishment found quite a young man. They sat down together on some leaves, and after chatting awhile Mr. Lu was so charmed with this young friend's bearing that he invited him to his house. No sooner had they arrived, than Mr. Lu begged Chang to excuse him a moment, and ran in first to tell his daughter, who exerted herself to get up and take a peep at the stranger. Finding, however, that he was not the Chang she had formerly known, she burst into tears and crept back to bed, upbraiding her parents for trying to deceive her thus. Her father declared he was no other than Chang, but his daughter replied only with tears; and then he went back very much upset to his guest, whom he treated with great want of courtesy. Chang asked him if he was not the Mr. Lu, of such and such a position, to which he replied in a vacant kind of way that he was, looking the other way all the time and paying no attention to Chang. The latter did not approve of this behavior, and accordingly took his leave; and in a few days Miss Tseng had cried herself to death.
Chang then dreamed that she appeared to him, and said, "Was it you after all that I saw ? You were so changed in age and appearance that when I looked upon your face I did not know you. I have already died from grief; but if you make haste to the little street shrine and summon my spirit back, I may still recover. Be not late!" Chang then waked, and immediately made inquiries at Mr. Lu's house, when he found that the young lady had been dead two days. Telling her father his dream, they went forth to summon the spirit back; and on opening the shroud, and throwing themselves with lamentations over the corpse, a noise was heard in the young lady's throat, and her cherry lips parted. They moved her on to a bed, and soon she began to moan, to the great joy of Mr. Lu, who took Chang out of the room and, over a bumper of wine, asked some questions about his family. He was glad to find that Chang was a suitable match for his daughter, and an auspicious day was fixed for the wedding.
In a fortnight the event came off, the bride being escorted to Chang's house by her father, who remained with them six months before going home again. They were a youthful pair, and people who didn't know the story mistook Chang's son and daughter-in- law for his father and mother. A year later Mr. Lu died; and his son, a mere child, having been badly wounded by some scoundrels, and the family property being almost gone, Chang made him come and live with them, and be one of their own family.
The country of the cannibals (1)
At Chiao-chou there lived a man named Hsu, who gained his living by trading across the sea. On one occasion he was carried far out of his course by a violent tempest, and reached a country of high hills and dense jungle, where, after making fast his boat and taking provisions with him, he landed, hoping to meet with some of the inhabitants. He then saw that the rocks were covered with large holes, like the cells of bees; and, hearing the sound of voices from within, he stopped in front of one of them and peeped in. To his infinite horror he beheld two hideous beings, with thick rows of horrid fangs, and eyes that glared like lamps, engaged in tearing to pieces and devouring some raw deer's flesh; and, turning round, he would have fled instantly from the spot, had not the cannibals already espied him; and, leaving their food, they seized him and dragged him in.
Thereupon ensued a chattering between them, resembling the noise of birds or beasts, and they proceeded to pull off Hsu's clothes as if about to eat him; but Hsu, who was frightened almost to death, offered them the food he had in his wallet, which they ate up with great relish, and looked inside for more. Hsu waved his hand to show it was all finished, and then they angrily seized him again; at which he cried out, "I have a saucepan in my boat, and can cook you some." The cannibals did not understand what he said; but, by dint of gesticulating freely, they at length seemed to have an idea of what he meant; and, having taken him down to the shore to fetch the saucepan, they returned with him to the cave, where he lighted a fire and cooked the remainder of the deer, with the flavour of which they appeared to be mightily pleased.
At night they rolled a big stone to the mouth of the cave, fearing lest he should try to escape; and Hsu himself lay down at a distance from them in doubt as to whether his life would be spared. At daybreak the cannibals went out, leaving the entrance blocked, and by-and-by came back with a deer, which they gave to Hsu to cook. Hsu flayed the carcass, and from a remote corner of the cave took some water and prepared a large quantity, which was no sooner ready than several other cannibals arrived to join in the feast. When they had finished all there was, they made signs that Hsu's saucepan was too small; and three or four days afterwards they brought him a large one, of the same shape as those in common use amongst men, subsequently furnishing him with constant supplies of wolf and deer of which they always invited him to partake.
By degrees they began to treat him kindly, and not to shut him up when they went out; and Hsu, too, gradually learnt to under- stand, and even to speak, a little of their language, which pleased them so much that they finally gave him a cannibal woman for his wife. Hsu was horribly afraid of her; but, as she treated him with great consideration, always reserving tit-bits of food for him, they lived very happily together.
One day all the cannibals got up early in the morning, and, having adorned themselves with strings of fine pearls, they went forth as if to meet some honoured guest, giving orders to Hsu to cook an extra quantity of meat that day. "It is the birthday of our King," said Hsu's wife to him; and then, running out, she informed the other cannibals that her husband had no pearls. So each gave five from his own string, and Hsu's wife added ten to these, making in all fifty, which she threaded on a hempen fibre and hung around his neck, each pearl being worth over a hundred ounces of silver. Then they went away, and as soon as Hsu had finished his cooking his wife appeared and invited him to come and receive the King.
So off they went to a huge cavern, covering about a mow' of ground, in which was a huge stone, smoothed away at the top like a table, with stone seats at the four sides. At the upper end was a dais, over which was spread a leopard's skin, the other seats having only deer-skins; and within the cavern some twenty or thirty cannibals ranged themselves on the seats. After a short interval a great wind began to stir up the dust, and they all rushed out to a creature very much resembling themselves, which hurried into the cave, and, squatting down cross-legged, cocked its head and looked about like a cormorant. The other cannibals then filed in and took up their positions right and left of the dais, where they stood gazing up at the King with their arms folded be- fore them in the form of a cross.
The King counted them one by one, and asked if they were all present; and when they replied in the affirmative, he looked at Hsu and inquired who he was. Thereupon Hsu's wife stepped forward and said he was her husband, and the others all loudly extolled his skill in cookery, two of them running out and bringing back some cooked meat, which they set before the King. His Majesty swallowed it by handfuls, and found it so nice that he gave orders to be supplied regularly; and then, turning to Hsu he asked him why his string of beads was so short. "He has but recently arrived among us," replied the cannibals, "and hasn't got a complete set;" upon which the King drew ten pearls from the string round his own neck and bestowed them upon Hsu. Each was as big as the top of one's finger and as round as a bullet; and Hsu's wife threaded them for him and hung them round his neck. Hsu himself crossed his arms and thanked the King in the language of the country, after which His Majesty went off in a gust of wind as rapidly as a bird, can fly, and the cannibals sat down and finished what was left of the banquet.
Four years afterwards Hsu's wife gave birth to a triplet of two boys and one girl, all of whom were ordinary human beings, and not at all like the mother; at which the other cannibals were de- lighted, and would often play with them and caress them. Three years passed away, and the children could walk about, after which their father taught them to speak his own tongue; and in their early babblings their human origin was manifested. The boys, as mere children, could climb about on the mountains as easily as though walking upon a level road; and between them and their father there grew up a mutual feeling of attachment.
On reaching home Hsu found that his wife had married again; so he sold two of his pearls for an enormous sum of money, and set up a splendid establishment. His son was called Piao, and at fourteen or fifteen years of age the boy could lift a weight of three thousand catties (4000 lb). He was extremely fond of athletics of all kinds, and thus attracted the notice of the Commander- in-Chief, who gave him a commission as sub-lieutenant. Just at that time there happened to be some trouble on the frontier, and young Piao, having covered himself with glory, was made a colonel at the age of eighteen.
The country of the cannibals (2)
About that time another merchant was driven by stress of weather to the country of the cannibals, and had hardly stepped ashore before he observed a young man whom he knew at once to be of Chinese origin. The young man asked him whence he came, and finally took him into a cave hid away in a dark valley and concealed by the dense jungle. There he bade him remain, and in a little while he returned with some deer's flesh, which he gave the merchant to eat, saying at the same time that his own father was a Chiao-chou man. The merchant now knew that the young man was Hsu's son, he himself being acquainted with Hsu as a trader in the same line of business. "Why, he's an old friend of mine," cried the latter; "his other son is now a colonel." The young man did not know what was meant by a colonel, so the merchant told him it was the title of a Chinese mandarin. "And what is a mandarin?" asked the youth. "A mandarin," replied the merchant, "is one who goes out with a chair and horses; who at home sits upon a dais in the hall; whose summons is answered by a hundred voices; who is looked at only with sidelong eyes, and in whose presence all people stand aslant; - this is to be a mandarin." The young man was deeply touched at this recital, and at length the merchant said to him, "Since your honoured father is at Chiao-chou, why do you remain here?"
"Indeed," replied the youth, "I have often indulged the same feeling; but my mother is not a Chinese woman, and, apart from the difference of her language and appearance, I fear that if the other cannibals found it out they would do us some mischief." He then took his leave, being in rather a disturbed state of mind, and bade the merchant wait until the wind should prove favourable, when he promised to come and see him off, and charge him with a letter to his father and brother.
Six months the merchant remained in that cave, occasionally taking a peep at the cannibals passing backwards and forwards, but not daring to leave his retreat. As soon as the monsoon set in the young man arrived and urged him to hurry away, begging him, also, not to forget the letter to his father. So the merchant sailed away and soon reached Chiao-chou, where he visited the colonel and told him the whole story. Piao was much affected, and wished to go in search of those members of the family; but his father feared the dangers he would encounter, and advised him not to think of such a thing. However, Piao was not to be deterred; and having imparted his scheme to the Commander-in- Chief, he took with him two soldiers and set off.
Adverse winds prevailed at that time, and they beat about for half a moon, until they were out of sight of all land, could not see a foot before them, and had completely lost their reckoning. Just then a mighty sea arose and capsized their boat, tossing Piao into the water, where he floated about for some time at the will of the waves, until suddenly somebody dragged him out and carried him into a house. Then he saw that his rescuer was to all appearances a cannibal, and accordingly he addressed him in the language of the country, and told him whither he himself was bound. "It is my native place," replied the cannibal, in astonishment; "but you will excuse my saying that you are now 8000 li out of your course. This is the way to the country of the Poisonous Dragons, and not your route at all." He then went off to find a boat for Piao, and, himself swimming in the water behind, pushed it along like an arrow from a bow, so quickly that by the next day they had traversed the whole distance.
On the shore Piao observed a young man walking up and down and evidently watching him; and, knowing that no human beings dwelt there, he guessed at once that he was his brother. Approaching more closely, he saw that he was right; and seizing the young man's hand, he asked after his mother and sister. On hearing that they were well, he would have gone directly to see them; but the younger one begged him not to do so, and ran away himself to fetch them. Meanwhile, Piao turned to thank the cannibal who had brought him there, but he, too, had disappeared. In a few minutes his mother and sister arrived, and, on seeing Piao, they could not restrain their tears. Piao then laid his scheme before them, and when they said they feared people would ill-treat them, he replied, "In China I hold a high position, and people will not dare to show you disrespect." Thus they determined to go.
The wind, however, was against them, and mother and son were at a loss what to do, when suddenly the sail bellied out to- wards the south, and a rustling sound was heard. "Heaven helps us, my mother!" cried Piao, full of joy; and, hurrying on board at once, in three days they had reached their destination. As they landed the people fled right and left in fear, Piao having divided his own clothes amongst the party; and when they arrived at the house, and his mother saw Hsu, she began to rate him soundly for running away without her. Hsu hastened to acknowledge his error, and then all the family and servants were introduced to her, each one being in mortal dread of such a singular personage.
Piao now bade his mother learn to talk Chinese, and gave her any quantity of fine clothes and rich meats, to the infinite delight of the old lady. She and her daughter both dressed in man's clothes, and by the end of a few months were able to understand what was said to them. The brother, named Pao [Leopard], and the sister, Yeh [Night], were both clever enough, and immensely strong into the bargain. Piao was ashamed that Pao could not read, and set to work to teach him; and the youngster was so quick that he learnt the Sacred Books and histories by merely reading them once over. However, he would not enter upon a literary career, loving better to draw a strong bow or ride a spirited horse, and finally taking the highest military degree. He married well; but his sister had some trouble in getting a husband, because of her being the child of a cannibal woman.
At length a serjeant, named Yuan, who was under her brother's command, and had become a widower, consented to take her as his wife. She could draw a hundred-catty bow, and shoot birds at a hundred paces without ever missing. Whenever Yuan went on a campaign she went with him; and his subsequent rise to high rank was chiefly due to her.
At thirty-four years of age Pao got a command; and in his great battles his mother, clad in armour and grasping a spear, would fight by his side, to the terror of all their adversaries; and when he himself received the dignity of an hereditary title, he memorialised the Throne to grant his mother the title of "lady".