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The boon-companion

ONCE upon a time there was a young man named Ch'e, who was not particularly well off, but at the same time very fond of his wine; so much so, that without his three stoups of liquor every night, he was quite unable to sleep, and bottles were seldom absent from the head of his bed. One night he had waked up and was turning over and over, when he fancied some one was in the bed with him; but then, thinking it was only the clothes which had slipped off, he put out his hand to feel, and, lo! he touched something silky like a cat, only larger. Striking a light, he found it was a fox, lying in a drunken sleep like a dog; and then looking at his wine bottle he saw that it had been emptied. "A boon-companion," said he, laughing, as he avoided startling the animal, and covering it up, lay down to sleep with his arm across it, and the candle alight so as to see what transformation it might undergo. About midnight, the fox stretched itself, and Ch'e cried, "Well, to be sure, you've had a nice sleep!" He then drew off the clothes, and beheld an elegant young man in a scholar's dress; but the young man jumped up, and making a low obeisance, returned his host many thanks for not cutting off his head. "Oh," replied Ch'e, "I am not averse to liquor myself; in fact they say I'm too much given to it. You shall play Pythias to my Damon; and if you have no objection, we'll be a pair of bottle-and-glass chums." So they lay down and went to sleep again, Ch'e urging the young man to visit him often, and saying that they must have faith in each other. The fox agreed to this, but when Ch'e awoke in the morning his bedfellow had already disappeared. So he prepared a goblet of first-rate wine in expectation of his friend's arrival, and at nightfall sure enough he came. They then sat together drinking, and the fox cracked so many jokes that Ch'e said he regretted he had not known him before. "And truly I don't know how to repay your kindness,'' replied the former, "in preparing all this nice wine for me." "Oh," said Ch'e, "what's a pint or so of wine? nothing worth speaking of." "Well," rejoined the fox, "you are only a poor scholar, and money isn't so easily to be got. I must try if I can't secure a little wine capital for you." Next evening when he arrived, he said to Ch'e, "Two miles down towards the south-east you will find some silver lying by the wayside. Go early in the morning and get it." So on the morrow Ch'e set off and actually obtained two lumps of silver with which he bought some choice morsels to help them out with their wine that evening. The fox now told him that there was a vault in his back-yard which he ought to open; and when he did so, he found therein more than a hundred strings of cash.  "Now then," cried Ch'e, delighted, "I shall have no more anxiety about funds for buying wine with all this in my purse." "Ah," replied the fox, "the water in a puddle is not inexhaustible. I must do something further for you." Some days afterwards the fox said to Ch'e, "Buckwheat is very cheap in the market just now. Something is to be done in this line." Accordingly, Ch'e bought over forty tons, and thereby incurred general ridicule; but by-and-by there was a bad drought and all kinds of grain and beans were spoilt. Only buckwheat would grow, and Ch'e sold off his stock at a profit of one thousand per cent. His wealth thus began to increase; he bought two hundred acres of rich land, and always planted his crops, corn, millet, or what not, upon the advice of the fox secretly given him beforehand. The fox looked on Ch'e's wife as a sister, and on Ch'e's children as his own; but when, subsequently, Ch'e died, it never came to the house again.

酒友

车生者,家不中赀,而耽饮,夜非浮三白不能寝也,以故床头樽常不空。一夜睡醒,转侧间,似有人共卧者,意是覆裳堕耳。摸之,则茸茸有物,似猫而巨;烛之,狐也,酣醉而犬卧。视其瓶,则空矣。因笑曰:“此我酒友也。”不忍惊,覆衣加臂,与之共寝。留烛以观其变,半夜,狐欠伸。生笑曰:“美哉睡乎!”启覆视之,儒冠之俊人也。起拜榻前,谢不杀之恩。生曰:“我癖于曲蘖,而人以为痴;卿,我鲍叔也。如不见疑,当为糟丘之良友。”曳登塌,复寝。且言:“卿可常临,无相猜。”狐诺之。生既醒,则狐已去。乃治旨酒一盛,专伺狐。
抵夕,果至,促膝欢饮。狐量豪,善谐,于是恨相得晚。狐曰:“屡叨良酝,何以报德?”生曰:“斗酒之欢,何置齿颊!”狐曰:“虽然,君贫士,杖头钱大不易。当为君少谋酒资。”明夕,来告曰:“去此东南七里,道侧有遗金,可早取之。”诘旦而往,果得二金,乃市佳肴,以佐夜饮,狐又告曰:“院后有窖藏,宜发之。”如其言,果得钱百余千。喜曰:“囊中已自有,莫漫愁沽矣。”狐曰:“不然。辙中水胡可以久掬?合更谋之。”异日,谓生曰:“市上养价廉,此奇货可居。”从之,收荞四十余石。人咸非笑之。未几,大旱,禾豆尽枯,惟荞可种;售种,息十倍。由此益富,治沃田二百亩。但问狐,多种麦则麦收,多种黍则黍收,一切种植之早晚,皆取决于狐。日稔密,呼生妻以嫂,视子犹子焉。后生卒,狐遂不复来。


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