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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 go and die again directly?" "It is extremely simple," replied her husband; "you go and pack up everything ready." The old lady laughed and did nothing; upon which Mr. Chu urged her again to prepare, and then left the house. In a short time he returned, and his wife 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 breathing; then, turning to her husband, they perceived that he also had passed away.

This story was fully related by a younger sister-in-law of Mr. Chu's, who, in the twenty-first year of the reign K'ang Hsi, was employed in the house of a high official named Pi.

祝翁

濟陽祝村有祝翁者,年五十餘,病卒。家人入室理縗絰,忽聞翁呼甚急。群奔集靈寢,則見翁已復活。群喜慰問。翁但謂媼曰:「我適去,拚不復返。行數裡,轉思拋汝一副老皮骨在兒輩手,寒熱仰人,亦無復生趣,不如從我去。故復歸,欲偕爾同行也。」咸以其新蘇妄語,殊未深信。翁又言之。媼雲:「如此亦復佳。但方生,如何便得死?」翁揮之曰:「是不難。家中俗務,可速作料理。」媼笑不去。翁又促之。乃出戶外,延數刻而入,紿之曰:「處置安妥矣。」翁命速妝。媼不去,翁催益急。媼不忍拂其意,遂裙妝以出。媳女皆匿笑。翁移首于枕,手拍令臥。媼曰:「子女皆在,雙雙挺臥,是何景象?」翁捶床曰:「並死有何可笑!」子女見翁躁急,共勸媼姑從其意。媼如言,並枕僵臥。家人又共笑之。俄視,媼笑容忽斂,又漸而兩眸俱合,久之無聲,儼如睡去。眾始近視,則膚已冰而鼻無息矣。試翁亦然,始共驚怛。康熙二十一年,翁弟婦佣于畢刺史之家,言之甚悉。

異史氏曰:「翁其夙有畸行與?泉路茫茫,去來由爾,奇矣!且白頭者欲其去,則呼令去,抑何其暇也!人當屬纊之時,所最不忍訣者,床頭之昵人耳。苟廣其術,則賣履分香,可以不事矣。」

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