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The Marriage Of The Fox’s Daughter.

 A PRESIDENT of the Board of Civil Office, named Yin, and a native of Li-ch'eng, when a young man, was very badly off, but was endowed with considerable physical courage. Now in his part of the country there was a large establishment, covering several acres, with an unbroken succession of pavilions and verandahs, and belonging to one of the old county families; but because ghosts and apparitions were frequently seen there, the place had for a long time remained untenanted, and was overgrown with grass and weeds, no one venturing to enter in even in broad daylight. One evening when Yin was carousing with some fellow students, one of them jokingly said, "If anybody will pass a night in the haunted house, the rest of us will stand him a dinner." Mr. Yin jumped up at this, and cried out, "What is there difficult in that?" So, taking with him a sleeping-mat, he proceeded thither, escorted by all his companions as far as the door, where they laughed and said, "We will wait here a little while. In case you see anything, shout out to us at once." "If there are any goblins or foxes," replied Yin, "I'll catch them for you." He then went in, and found the paths obliterated by long grass, which had sprung up, mingled with weeds of various kinds. It was just the time of the new moon, and by its feeble light he was able to make out the door of the house. Feeling his way, he walked on until he reached the back pavilion, and then went up on to the Moon Terrace, which was such a pleasant spot that he determined to stop there. Gazing westwards, he sat for a long time looking at the moon a single thread of light embracing in its horns the peak of a hill without hearing anything at all unusual; so, laughing to himself at the nonsense people talked, he spread his mat upon the floor, put a stone under his head for a pillow, and lay down to sleep. He had watched the Cow-herd and the Lady until they were just disappearing, and was on the point of dropping off, when suddenly he heard foot-steps down below coming up the stairs. Pretending to be asleep, he saw a servant enter, carrying in his hand a lotus-shaped lantern, who, on observing Mr. Yin, rushed back in a fright, and said to someone behind, "There is a stranger here!" The person spoken to asked who it was, but the servant did not know ; and then up came an old gentleman, who, after examining Mr. Yin closely, said, "It's the future President: he's as drunk as can be. We needn't mind him; besides, he's a good fellow, and won't give us any trouble." So they walked in and opened all the doors; and by-and-by there were a great many other people moving about, and quantities of lamps were lighted, till the place was as light as day. About this time Mr. Yin slightly changed his position, and sneezed; upon which the old man, perceiving that he was awake, came forward and fell down on his knees, saying, "Sir, I have a daughter who is to be married this very night. It was not anticipated that Your Honour would be here. I pray, therefore, that we may be excused." Mr. Yin got up and raised the old man, regretting that, in his ignorance of the festive occasion, he had brought with him no present. "Ah, Sir," replied the old man, "your very presence here will ward off all noxious influences; and that is quite enough for us." He then begged Mr. Yin to assist in doing the honours, and thus double the obligation already conferred. Mr. Yin readily assented, and went inside to look at the gorgeous arrangements they had made. He was here met by a lady, apparently about forty years of age, whom the old gentleman introduced as his wife; and he had hardly made his bow when he heard the sound of flageolets, and someone came hurrying in, saying, "He has come!" The old gentleman flew out to meet this personage, and Mr. Yin also stood up, awaiting his arrival. In no long time, a bevy of people with gauze lanterns ushered in the bridegroom himself, who seemed to be about seventeen or eighteen years old, and of a most refined and prepossessing appearance. The old gentleman bade him pay his respects first to their worthy guest; and upon his looking towards Mr. Yin, that gentleman came forward to welcome him on behalf of the host. Then followed ceremonies between the old man and his son-in-law ; and when these were over, they all sat down to supper. Hosts of waiting-maids brought in profuse quantities of wine and meats, with bowls and cups of jade or gold, till the table glittered again. And when the wine had gone round several times, the old gentleman told one of the maids to summon the bride. This she did, but some time passed and no bride came. So the old man rose and drew aside the curtain, pressing the young lady to come forth ; whereupon a number of women escorted out the bride, whose ornaments went tinkle tinkle as she walked along, sweet perfumes being all the time diffused around. Her father told her to make the proper salutation, after which she went and sat by her mother. Mr. Yin took a glance at her, and saw that she wore on her head beautiful ornaments made of kingfisher's feathers, her beauty quite surpassing anything he had ever seen. All this time they had been drinking their wine out of golden goblets big enough to hold several pints, when it flashed across him that one of these goblets would be a capital thing to carry back to his companions in evidence of what he had seen. So he secreted it in his sleeve, and, pretending to be tipsy, leaned forward with his head upon the table as if going off to sleep. "The gentleman is drunk," said the guests ; and by-and-by Mr. Yin heard the bridegroom take his leave, and there was a general trooping downstairs to the tune of a wedding march. When they were all gone the old gentleman collected the goblets, one of which was missing, though they hunted high and low to find it. Someone mentioned the sleeping guest; but the old gentleman stopped him at once for fear Mr. Yin should hear, and before long silence reigned throughout. Mr. Yin then arose. It was dark, and he had no light; but he could detect the lingering smell of the food, and the place was filled with the fumes of wine. Faint streaks of light now appearing in the east, he began quietly to make a move, having first satisfied himself that the goblet was still in his sleeve. Arriving at the door, he found his friends already there; for they had been afraid he might come out after they left, and go in again early in the morning. When he produced the goblet they were all lost in astonishment; and on hearing his story, they were fain to believe it, well knowing that a poor student like Yin was not likely to have such a valuable piece of plate in his possession.
Later on Mr. Yin took his doctor's degree, and was appointed magistrate over the district of Fei-ch'iu, where there was an old-established family of the name of Chu. The head of the family asked him to a banquet in honour of his arrival, and ordered the servants to bring in the large goblets. After some delay a slave-girl came and whispered something to her master which seemed to make him very angry. Then the goblets were brought in, and Mr. Yin was invited to drink. He now found that these goblets were of precisely the same shape and pattern as the one he had at home, and at once begged his host to tell him where he had had these made. "Well," said Mr. Chu, "there should be eight of them. An ancestor of mine had them made, when he was a minister at the capital, by an experienced artificer. They have been handed down in our family from generation to generation, and have now been carefully laid by for some time; but I thought we would have them out today as a compliment to your Honour. However, there are only seven to be found. None of the servants can have touched them, for the old seals of ten years ago are still upon the box, unbroken. I don't know what to make of it." Mr. Yin laughed, and said, "It must have flown away! Still, it is a pity to lose an heir-loom of that kind; and as I have a very similar one at home, I shall take upon myself to send it to you." When the banquet was over, Mr. Yin went home, and taking out his own goblet, sent it off to Mr. Chu. The latter was somewhat surprised to find that it was identical with his own, and hurried away to thank the magistrate for his gift, asking him at the same time how it had come into his possession. Mr. Yin told him the whole story, which proves conclusively that although a fox may obtain possession of a thing, even at a distance of many hundred miles, he will not venture to keep it altogether.  

狐嫁女


  歷城殷天官,少貧,有膽略。邑有故家之第,廣數十畝,樓宇連亙。常見怪異,以故廢無居人;久之,蓬蒿漸滿,白晝亦無敢入者。會公與諸生飲,或戲云:「有能寄此一宿者,共醵為筵。」公躍起曰:「是亦何難!」攜一席往。眾送諸門,戲曰:「吾等暫候之,如有所見,當急號。」公笑云:「有鬼狐,當捉證耳。」遂入,見長莎蔽徑,蒿艾如麻。時值上弦,幸月色昏黃,門戶可辨。摩娑數進,始抵後樓。登月臺,光潔可愛,遂止焉。西望月明,惟銜山一線耳。坐良久,更無少異,竊笑傳言之訛。席地枕石,臥看牛女。

  一更抽盡,恍惚欲寐,樓下有履聲,籍籍而上。假寐睨之,見一青衣人,挑蓮燈,猝見公,驚而卻退。語后人曰:「有生人在。」下問:「誰也?」答云:「不識。」俄一老翁上,就公諦視,曰:「此殷尚書,其睡已酣。但辦吾事,相公倜儻,或不叱怪。」乃相率入樓,樓門盡闢。移時,往來者益眾。樓上燈輝如晝。公稍稍轉側,作嚏咳。翁聞公醒,乃出,跪而言曰:「小人有箕帚女,今夜于歸。不意有觸貴人,望勿深罪。」公起,曳之曰:「不知今夕嘉禮,慚無以賀。」翁曰:「貴人光臨,壓除凶煞,幸矣。即煩陪坐,倍益光寵。」公喜,應之。入視樓中,陳設芳麗。遂有婦人出拜,年可四十餘。翁曰:「此拙荊。」公揖之。俄聞笙樂聒耳,有奔而上者,曰:「至矣!」翁趨迎,公亦立俟。少選,籠紗一簇,導新郎入。年可十七八,丰采韶秀。翁命先與貴客為禮。少年目公。公若為儐,執半主禮。次翁婿交拜,已,乃即席。少間,粉黛雲從,酒胾霧霈,玉碗金甌,光映幾案。酒數廳,翁喚女奴請小姐來。女奴諾而入,良久不出。翁自起,搴幃促之。俄婢媼數輩擁新人出,環佩璆然,麝蘭散馥。翁命向上拜。起,即坐母側。微目之,翠鳳明璫,容華絕世。既而酌以金爵,大容數斗。公思此物可以持驗同人,陰內袖中。偽醉隱幾,頹然而寢。皆曰:「相公醉矣。」居無何,新郎告行,笙樂暴作,紛紛下樓而去。已而主人斂酒具,少一爵,冥搜不得。或竊議臥客;翁急戒勿語,惟恐公聞。移時,內外俱寂,公始起。暗無燈火,惟脂香酒氣,充溢四堵。視東方既白,乃從容出。探袖中,金爵猶在。及門,則諸生先俟,疑其夜出而早入者。公出爵示之。眾駭問,公以狀告。共思此物非寒士所有,乃信之。

  後公舉進士,任于肥丘。有世家朱姓宴公,命取巨觥,久之不至。有細奴掩口與主人語,主人有怒色。俄奉金爵勸客飲。諦視之,款式雕文,與狐物更無殊別。大疑,問所從制。答云:「爵凡八隻,大人為京卿時,覓良工監製。此世傳物,什襲已久。緣明府辱臨,適取諸箱簏,僅存其七,疑家人所竊取;而十年塵封如故,殊不可解。」公笑曰:「金杯羽化矣。然世守之珍不可失。仆有一具,頗近似之,當以奉贈。」終筵歸署,揀爵馳送之。主人審視,駭絕。親詣謝公,詰所自來。公乃歷陳顛末。始知千里之物,狐能攝致,而不敢終留也。

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