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The painted skin.

AT T‘ai-yüan there lived a man named Wang. One morning he was out walking when he met a young lady carrying a bundle and hurrying along by herself. As she moved along with some difficulty, Wang quickened his pace and caught her up, and found she was a pretty girl of about sixteen. Much smitten he inquired whither she was going so early, and no one with her. "A traveller like you," replied the girl, "cannot alleviate my distress; why trouble yourself to ask?" "What distress is it?" said Wang; "I'm sure I'll do anything I can for you." "My parents," answered she, "loved money, and they sold me as concubine into a rich family, where the wife was very jealous, and beat and abused me morning and night. It was more than I could stand, so I have run away." Wang asked her where she was going; to which she replied that a run-away had no fixed place of abode. "My house," said Wang, "is at no great distance; what do you say to coming there?" She joyfully acquiesced; and Wang, taking up her bundle, led the way to his house. Finding no one there, she asked Wang where his family were; to which he replied that that was only the library. "And a very nice place, too," said she; "but if you are kind enough to wish to save my life, you mustn't let it be known that I am here." Wang promised he would not divulge her secret, and so she remained there for some days without anyone knowing anything about it. He then told his wife, and she, fearing the girl might belong to some influential family, advised him to send her away. This, however, he would not consent to do; when one day, going into the town, he met a Taoist priest, who looked at him in astonishment, and asked him what he had met. "I have met nothing," replied Wang. "Why," said the priest, "you are bewitched; what do you mean by not having met anything?" But Wang insisted that it was so, and the priest walked away, saying, "The fool! Some people don't seem to know when death is at hand." This startled Wang, who at first thought of the girl; but then he reflected that a pretty young thing as she was couldn't well be a witch, and began to suspect that the priest merely wanted to do a stroke of business. When he returned, the library door was shut, and he couldn't get in, which made him suspect that something was wrong; and so he climbed over the wall, where he found the door of the inner room shut too. Softly creeping up, he looked through the window and saw a hideous devil, with a green face and jagged teeth like a saw, spreading a human skin upon the bed and painting it with a paint-brush. The devil then threw aside the brush, and giving the skin a shake out, just as you would a coat, threw it over its shoulders, when, lo! it was the girl. Terrified at this, Wang hurried away with his head down in search of the priest who had gone he knew not whither; subsequently rinding him in the fields, where he threw himself on his knees and begged the priest to save him. "As to driving her away," said the priest, "the creature must be in great distress to be seeking a substitute for herself; besides, I could hardly endure to injure a living thing." However, he gave Wang a fly-brush, and bade him hang it at the door of the bedroom, agreeing to meet again at the Ch'ing-ti temple. Wang went home, but did not dare enter the library; so he hung up the brush at the bedroom door, and before long heard a sound of footsteps outside. Not daring to move, he made his wife peep out; and she saw the girl standing looking at the brush, afraid to pass it. She then ground her teeth and went away; but in a little while came back, and began cursing, saying, "You priest, you won't frighten me. Do you think I am going to give up what is already in my grasp?" Thereupon, she tore the brush to pieces, and bursting open the door, walked straight up to the bed, where she ripped open Wang and tore out his heart, with which she went away. Wang's wife screamed out, and the servant came in with a light; but Wang was already dead and presented a most miserable spectacle. His wife, who was in an agony of fright, hardly dared cry for fear of making a noise; and next day she sent Wang's brother to see the priest. The latter got into a great rage, and cried out, "Was it for this that I had compassion on you, devil that you are?" proceeding at once with Wang's brother to the house, from which the girl had disappeared without anyone knowing whither she had gone. But the priest, raising his head, looked all round, and said, "Luckily she's not far off." He then asked who lived in the apartments on the south side, to which Wang's brother replied that he did; whereupon the priest declared that there she would be found. Wang's brother was horribly frightened and said he did not think so; and then the priest asked him if any stranger had been to the house. To this he answered that he had been out to the Ch'ing-ti temple and couldn't possibly say; but he went off to inquire, and in a little while came back and reported that an old woman had sought service with them as a maid-of-all-work, and had been engaged by his wife. "That is she," said the priest, as Wang's brother added she was still there; and they all set out to go to the house together. Then the priest took his wooden sword, and standing in the middle of the court-yard, shouted out, "Base-born fiend, give me back my fly-brush!" Meanwhile the new maid-of-all-work was in a great state of alarm, and tried to get away by the door; but the priest struck her and down she fell flat, the human skin dropped off, and she became a hideous devil. There she lay grunting like a pig, until the priest grasped his wooden sword and struck off her head. She then became a dense column of smoke curling up from the ground, when the priest took an uncorked gourd and threw it right into the midst of the smoke. A sucking noise was heard, and the whole column was drawn into the gourd; after which the priest corked it up closely and put it in his pouch. The skin, too, which was complete even to the eyebrows, eyes, hands, and feet, he also rolled up as if it had been a scroll, and was on the point of leaving with it, when Wang's wife stopped him, and with tears entreated him to bring her husband to life. The priest said he was unable to do that; but Wang's wife flung herself at his feet, and with loud lamentations implored his assistance. For some time he remained immersed in thought, and then replied, "My power is not equal to what you ask. I myself cannot raise the dead; but I will direct you to some one who can, and if you apply to him properly you will succeed." Wang's wife asked the priest who it was; to which he replied, "There is a maniac in the town who passes his time grovelling in the dirt. Go, prostrate yourself before him, and beg him to help you. If he insults you, shew no sign of anger." Wang's brother knew the man to whom he alluded, and accordingly bade the priest adieu, and proceeded thither with his sister-in-law.

They found the destitute creature raving away by the road side, so filthy that it was all they could do to go near him. Wang's wife approached him on her knees; at which the maniac leered at her, and cried out, "Do you love me, my beauty?" Wang's wife told him what she had come for, but he only laughed and said, "You can get plenty of other husbands. Why raise the dead one to life?" But Wang's wife entreated him to help her; whereupon he observed, "It's very strange: people apply to me to raise their dead as if I was king of the infernal regions." He then gave Wang's wife a thrashing with his staff, which she bore without a murmur, and before a gradually increasing crowd of spectators. After this he produced a loathsome pill which he told her she must swallow, but here she broke down and was quite unable to do so. However, she did manage it at last, and then the maniac crying out, "How you do love me!" got up and went away without taking any more notice of her. They followed him into a temple with loud supplications, but he had disappeared, and every effort to find him was unsuccessful. Overcome with rage and shame, Wang's wife went home, where she mourned bitterly over her dead husband, grievously repenting the steps she had taken, and wishing only to die. She then bethought herself of preparing the corpse, near which none of the servants would venture; and set to work to close up the frightful wound of which he died.

While thus employed, interrupted from time to time by her sobs, she felt a rising lump in her throat, which by-and-by came out with a pop and fell straight into the dead man's wound. Looking closely at it, she saw it was a human heart; and then it began as it were to throb, emitting a warm vapour like smoke. Much excited, she at once closed the flesh over it, and held the sides of the wound together with all her might. Very soon, however, she got tired, and finding the vapour escaping from the crevices, she tore up a piece of silk and bound it round, at the same time bringing back circulation by rubbing the body and covering it up with clothes. In the night, she removed the coverings, and found that breath was coming from the nose; and by next morning her husband was alive again, though disturbed in mind as if awaking from a dream and feeling a pain in his heart Where he had been wounded, there was a cicatrix about as big as a cash, which soon after disappeared.

畫皮

太原王生,早行,遇一女郎,抱襆獨奔,甚艱于步。急走趁之,乃二八姝麗。心相愛樂,問:「何夙夜踽踽獨行?」女曰:「行道之人,不能解愁懮,何勞相問。」生曰:「卿何愁懮?或可效力,不辭也。」女黯然曰:「父母貪賂,鬻妾朱門。嫡妒甚,朝詈而夕楚辱之,所弗堪也,將遠遁耳。」問:「何之?」曰:「在亡之人,烏有定所。」生言:「敝廬不遠,即煩枉顧。」女喜,從之。生代攜襆物,導與同歸。女顧室無人,問:「君何無家口?」答云:「齋耳。」女曰:「此所良佳。如憐妾而活之,須秘密勿泄。」生諾之,乃與寢合。使匿密室,過數日而人不知也。生微告妻。妻陳,疑為大家媵妾,勸遣之。生不聽。
  偶適市,遇一道士,顧生而愕。問:「何所遇?」答言:「無之。」道士曰:「君身邪氣縈繞,何言無?」生又力白。道士乃去,曰:「惑哉!世固有死將臨而不悟者。」生以其言異,頗疑女;轉思明明麗人,何至為妖,意道士借魘禳以獵食者。無何,至齋門,門內杜,不得入。心疑所作,乃踰垝垣,則室門亦閉。躡跡而窗窺之,見一獰鬼,面翠色,齒巉巉如鋸。鋪人皮于榻上,執彩筆而繪之;已而擲筆,舉皮,如振衣狀,披于身,遂化為女子。睹此狀,大懼,獸伏而出。急追道士,不知所往。遍跡之,遇于野,長跪乞救。道士曰:「請遣除之。此物亦良苦,甫能覓代者,予亦不忍傷其生。」乃以蠅拂授生,令掛寢門。臨別,約會于青帝廟。生歸,不敢入齋,乃寢內室,懸拂焉。一更許,聞門外戢戢有聲,自不敢窺也,使妻窺之。但見女子來,望拂子不敢進;立而切齒,良久乃去。少時復來,罵曰:「道士嚇我。終不然寧入口而吐之耶!」取拂碎之,壞寢門而入。徑登生床,裂生腹,掬生心而去。妻號。婢入燭之,生已死,腔血狼藉。陳駭涕不敢聲。明日,使弟二郎奔告道士。道士怒曰:「我固憐之,鬼子乃敢爾!」即從生弟來。女子已失所在。既而仰首四望,曰:「幸遁未遠。」問:「南院誰家?」二郎曰:「小生所舍也。」道士曰:「現在君所。」二郎愕然,以為未有。道士問曰:「曾否有不識者一人來?」答曰:「仆早赴青帝廟,良不知。當歸問之。」去少頃而返,曰:「果有之。晨間一嫗來,欲佣為仆家操作,室人止之,尚在也。」道士曰:「即是物矣。」遂與俱往。仗木劍,立庭心,呼曰:「孽魅!償我拂子來!」嫗在室,惶遽無色,出門欲遁。道士逐擊之。嫗仆,人皮劃然而脫,化為厲鬼,臥嗥如豬。道士以木劍梟其首;身變作濃煙,匝地作堆。道士出一葫蘆,撥其塞,置煙中,飗飗然如口吸氣,瞬息煙盡。道士塞口入囊。共視人皮,眉目手足,無不備具。道士卷之,如卷畫軸聲,亦囊之,乃別欲去。陳氏拜迎于門,哭求回生之法。道士謝不能。陳益悲,伏地不起。道士沉思曰:「我術淺,誠不能起死。我指一人,或能之,往求必合有效。」問:「何人?」曰:「市上有瘋者,時臥糞土中。試叩而哀之。倘狂辱夫人,夫人勿怒也。」二郎亦習知之。乃別道士,與嫂俱往。
  見乞人顛歌道上,鼻涕三尺,穢不可近。陳膝行而前。乞人笑曰:「佳人愛我乎?」陳告之故。又大笑曰:「人盡夫也,活之何為?」陳固哀之。乃曰:「異哉!人死而乞活于我。我閻摩耶?」怒以杖擊陳。陳忍痛受之。市人漸集如堵。乞人咯痰唾盈把,舉向陳吻曰:「食之!」陳紅漲于面,有難色;既思道士之囑,遂強啖焉。覺入喉中,硬如團絮,格格而下,停結胸間。乞人大笑曰:「佳人愛我哉!」遂起,行已不顧。尾之,入于廟中。追而求之,不知所在;前後冥搜,殊無端兆,慚恨而歸。既悼夫亡之慘,又悔食唾之羞,俯仰哀啼,但願即死。方欲展血斂尸,家人佇望,無敢近者。陳抱尸收腸,且理且哭。哭極聲嘶,頓欲嘔。覺鬲中結物,突奔而出,不及回首,已落腔中。驚而視之,乃人心也。在腔中突突猶躍,熱氣騰蒸如煙然。大異之。急以兩手合腔,極力抱擠。少懈,則氣氤氳自縫中出。乃裂繒帛急束之。以手撫尸,漸溫。覆以衾裯。中夜啟視,有鼻息矣。天明,竟活。為言:「恍惚若夢,但覺隱痛耳。」視破處,痂結如錢,尋愈。
  異史氏曰:「愚哉世人!明明妖也,而以為美。迷哉愚人!明明忠也,而以為妄。然愛人之色而漁之,妻亦將食人之唾而甘之矣。天道好還,但愚而迷者不悟耳。可哀也夫!」

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