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The lost brother

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 Ch'eng. 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 Ch'eng, and also sent him to school. As Ch'eng 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 step-mother, displeased with the small quantity of wood he had brought, refused to give him anything to eat. Quite overcome with hunger, Na went in and lay down; and when Ch'eng 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 Ch'eng coloured up and went away, returning shortly with some cakes, which he offered to Na. "Where did you get them?" asked the latter. "Oh," replied Ch'eng, "I stole some flour and got a neighbour'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 Ch'eng, "and shouldn't cut so much wood as you do."

Next day, after breakfast, Ch'eng 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 Ch'eng. "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." Ch'eng, 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." Ch'eng 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 Ch'eng'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 Ch'eng had been all the morning, but that he had caned him for playing truant. Na further pointed out to Ch'eng that by not doing as he had told him, he had let himself in for a beating. Ch'eng 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?" Ch'eng 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 Ch'eng told him how the matter stood, at which the former became full of admiration for his pupil's kind behaviour, 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 wood-cutters hid themselves, in the greatest consternation; and the tiger, seizing Ch'eng, ran off with him in his mouth. Ch'eng'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 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 step-mother 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 shewed 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 Ch'eng; whereupon the man drew out a list from a pouch at his side, and, after care-fully examining it, replied that among the male and female criminals within there was no one of the name of Chang. 4 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, "P'u-sa 5 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, light-ing up all around him. "You are in luck's way, Sir," said the magician to Na; "only once in many thousand years does P'u-sa descend into hell and banish all suffering. He has come to day." He then made Na kneel, and all the devils began with clasped hands to sing songs of praise to P'u-sa for his compassion in releasing them from their misery, shaking the very earth with the sound. P'u-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 Ch'eng 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 Ch'eng; 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 Ch'eng stood before him. Grasping each other's hands, the brothers burst into tears, and at length Ch'eng 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 Ch'eng's companions, jumping off their horses to see what was the matter, went off and informed the man-darin. The latter ordered one of them to give up his horse to Na, and thus they rode together back to the mandarin's house. Ch'eng 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; Ch'eng, 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-ch'ang district," re-plied 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 Ch'eng as follows: "Three years after my marriage with your father, I was carried off to the north and made a slave in a mandarin's 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 unfrequently 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; Ch'eng, 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, Ch'eng 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 Ch'eng again, and, looking fondly at his son, burst into a flood of tears. Ch'eng told him his mother and brothers were outside, and the old man was then perfectly transfixed 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 Ch'eng, 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.


豫人張氏者,其先齊人。明末齊大亂,妻為北兵掠去。張常客豫,遂家焉。娶于豫,生子訥。無何,妻卒,又娶繼室,生子誠。繼室牛氏悍,每嫉訥,奴畜之,啖以惡草具,使樵,日責柴一肩。無則撻楚詬詛,不可堪。隱畜以甘脆餌誠,使從塾師讀。誠漸長,性孝友,不忍兄劬,陰勸母,母弗聽。一日,訥入山樵,未終,值大風雨,避身岩下,雨止而日已暮。腹中大餒,遂負薪歸。母驗之少,怒不與食;飢火燒心,入室僵臥。誠自塾中來,見兄嗒然,問:「病乎?」曰:「餓耳。」問其故,以情告。誠愀然便去。移時,懷餅來餌兄。兄問其所自來。曰:「余竊面倩鄰婦為之,但食勿言也。」訥食之。囑弟曰:「後勿復然,事泄累弟。且日一啖,飢當不死。」誠曰:「兄故弱,烏能多樵!」次日,食後,竊赴山,至兄樵處。兄見之,驚問:「將何作?」答曰:「將助樵採。」問:「誰 之遣?」曰:「我自來耳。」兄曰:「無論弟不能樵,縱或能之,且猶不可。」於是速之歸。誠不聽,以手足斷柴助兄。且雲:「明日當以斧來。」兄近止之,見其指已破,履已穿,悲曰:「汝不速歸,我即以斧自剄死。」誠乃歸,兄送之半途,方復回。樵既歸,詣塾,囑其師曰:「吾弟年幼,宜閉之。山中虎狼多。」師曰:「午前不知何往,業夏楚之。」歸謂誠曰:「不聽吾言,遭笞責矣。」誠笑曰:「無之。」明日,懷斧又去。兄駭曰:「我 固謂子勿來,何復爾?」誠不應,刈薪且急,汗交頤不少休。約足一束,不辭而返。師又責之,乃實告之。師嘆其賢,遂不之禁。兄屢止之,終不聽。
一日,與數人樵山中,炎欠有虎至。眾懼而伏。虎竟銜誠去。虎負人行緩,為訥追及。訥力斧之,中胯。虎痛狂奔,莫可尋逐,痛哭而返。眾慰解之,哭益悲。曰:「吾弟,非猶夫人之弟,況為我死,我何生焉!」遂以斧自刎其項。眾急救之,入肉者已寸許,血溢如涌,眩瞀殞絕。眾駭,裂之衣而約之,群扶而歸。母哭罵曰:「汝殺吾兒,欲劙頸以塞責耶!」訥呻雲:「母勿煩惱,弟死,我定不生!」置榻上,創痛不能眠,惟晝夜依壁坐哭。父恐其亦死,時就榻少哺之,牛輒詬責。訥遂不食,三日而斃。村中有巫走無常者,訥途遇之,緬訴曩苦。因詢弟所,巫言不聞。遂反身導訥去。至一都會,見一皂衫人,自城中出。巫要遮代問之。皂衫人于佩囊中檢牒審顧,男婦百余,並無犯而張者。巫疑在他牒。皂衫人曰:「此路屬我,何得差逮。」訥不信,強巫入內城。城中新鬼﹑故 鬼往來憧憧,亦有故識,就問,迄無知者。忽共嘩言:「菩薩至!」仰見雲中,有偉人,毫光徹上下,頓覺世界通明。巫賀曰:「大郎有福哉!菩薩幾十年一入冥司,拔諸苦惱,今適值之。」便誶訥跪。眾鬼囚紛紛籍籍,合掌齊誦慈悲救苦之聲,哄騰震地。菩薩以楊柳枝遍灑甘露,其細如塵。俄而霧收光斂,遂失所在。訥覺頸上沾露,斧處不復作痛。巫仍導與俱歸。望見裡門,始別而去。訥死二日,豁然竟蘇,悉述所遇,謂誠不死。母以為撰造之誣,反詬罵之。訥負屈無以自伸,而摸創痕良瘥。自力起,拜父曰:「行將穿雲入海往尋弟,如不可見,終此身勿望返也。願父猶以兒為死。」翁引空處與泣,無敢留之。訥乃去。每于沖衢訪弟耗,途中資斧斷絕,丐而行。逾年,達金陵,懸鶉百結,傴僂道上。偶見十餘騎過,走避道側。內一人如官長,年四十已來,健卒怒馬,騰踔前後。一 少年乘小駟,屢視訥。訥以其貴公子,未敢仰視。少年停鞭少駐,忽下馬,呼曰:「非吾兄耶!」訥舉首審視,誠也。握手大痛,失聲,誠亦哭曰:「兄何漂落以至於此?」訥言其情,誠益悲。騎者並下問故,以白官長。官命脫騎載訥,連轡歸諸其家,始詳詰之。初,虎銜誠去,不知何時置路側,臥途中經宿。適張別駕自都中來,過之,見其貌文,憐而撫之,漸蘇。言其裡居,則相去已遠。因載與俱歸。又藥敷傷處,數日始痊。別駕無長君,子之。蓋適從游矚也。誠具為兄告。言次,別駕入,訥拜謝不已。誠入內,捧帛衣出,進兄,乃置酒燕敘。別駕問:「貴族在豫,幾何丁壯?」訥曰:「無有。父少齊人,流寓于豫。」別駕曰:「仆亦齊人。貴裡何屬?」答曰:「曾聞父言,屬東昌轄。」驚曰:「我同鄉也!何故遷豫?」訥曰:「明季清兵入境,掠前母去。父遭兵燹,蕩無家室。先賈于西道,往來頗稔,故止焉。」又驚問:「君家尊何名?」訥告之。別駕瞠而視,俯首若疑,疾趨入內。無何,太夫人出。共羅拜,已,問訥曰:「汝是張炳之之孫耶?」曰:「然。」太夫人大哭,謂別駕曰:「此汝弟也。」訥兄弟莫能解。太夫人曰:「我適汝父三年,流離北去,身屬黑固山半年,生汝兄。又半年,固山死,汝兄補秩旗下遷此官。今解任矣。每刻刻念鄉井,遂出籍,復故譜。屢遣人至齊,殊無所覓耗,何知汝父西徙哉!」乃謂別 駕曰:「汝以弟為子,折福死矣!」別駕曰:「曩問誠,誠未嘗言齊人,想幼稚不憶耳。」乃以齒序:別駕四十有一,為長;誠十六,最少;訥二十二,則伯而仲矣。別駕得兩弟,甚歡,與同臥處,盡悉離散端由,將作歸計。太夫人恐不見容。別駕曰:「能容則共之,否則析之。天下豈有無父之國?」於是鬻宅辦裝,刻日西發。


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