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Showing posts from July, 2014

The gambler's talisman

A TAOIST PRIEST, called Han, lived at the T'ien-ch'i temple, in our district city. His knowledge of the black art was very extensive, and the neighbours all regarded him as an Immortal. 1 My late father was on intimate terms with him, and whenever he went into the city invariably paid him a visit. One day, on such an occasion, he was proceeding thither in company with my late uncle, when suddenly they met Han on the road. Handing them the key of the door, he begged them to go on and wait awhile for him, promising to be there shortly himself. Following out these instructions they repaired to the temple, but on unlocking the door there was Han sitting inside a feat which he subsequently performed several times.

Now a relative of mine, who was terribly given to gambling, also knew this priest, having been introduced to him by my father. And once this relative, meeting with a Buddhist priest from the T'ien-fo temple, addicted like himself to the vice of gambling, played with h…

The country of the cannibals.

AT Chiao-chou there lived a man named Hsu, who gained his living by trading across the sea. On one occasion he was carried far out of his course by a violent tempest, and reached a country of high hills and dense jungle, where, after making fast his boat and taking provisions with him, he landed, hoping to meet with some of the inhabitants. He then saw that the rocks were covered with large holes, like the cells of bees; and, hearing the sound of voices from within, he stopped in front of one of them and peeped in. To his infinite horror he beheld two hideous beings, with thick rows of horrid fangs, and eyes that glared like lamps, engaged in tearing to pieces and devouring some raw deer's flesh; and, turning round, he would have fled instantly from the spot, had not the cave-men already espied him; and, leaving their food, they seized him and dragged him in. Thereupon ensued a chattering between them, resembling the noise of birds or beasts, and they proceeded to pull off Hsu'…

Dr. tseng's dream

THERE was a Fohkien gentleman named Tseng, who had just taken his doctor's degree. One day he was out walking with several other recently-elected doctors, when they heard that at a temple hard by there lived an astrologer, and accordingly the party proceeded thither to get their fortunes told. They went in and sat down, and the astrologer made some very complimentary remarks to Tseng, at which he fanned himself and smiled, saying, "Have I any chance of ever wearing the dragon robes and the jade girdle?" The astrologer immediately put on a serious face, and replied that he would be a Secretary of State during twenty years of national tranquillity. Thereupon Tseng was much pleased, and began to give himself greater airs than ever. A slight rain coming on, they sought shelter in the priest's quarters, where they found an old bonze, with sunken eyes and a big nose, sitting upon a mat. He took no notice of the strangers, who, after having bowed to him, stretched themselve…

The virtuous daughter-in-law.

AN TA-CH'ENG was a Chung-ch'ing man. His father, who had gained the master's degree, died early; and his brother Erh-ch'eng was a mere boy. He himself had married a wife from the Ch'en family, whose name was Shan-hu; and this young lady had much to put up with from the violent and malicious disposition of her husband's mother. However, she never complained; and every morning dressed herself up smart, and went in to pay her respects to the old lady. Once when Ta-ch'eng was ill, his mother abused Shan-hu for dressing so nicely; whereupon Shan-hu went back and changed her clothes; but even then Mrs. An was not satisfied, and began to tear her own hair with rage. Ta-ch'eng, who was a very filial son, at once gave his wife a beating, and this put an end to the scene. From that moment his mother hated her more than ever, and although she was everything that a daughter-in-law could be, would never exchange a word with her. Ta-ch'eng then treated her in muc…

The man who was thrown down a well

MR. TAI, of An-ch'ing, was a wild fellow when young. One day as he was returning home tipsy, he met by the way a dead cousin of his named Chi; and having, in his drunken state, quite forgotten that his cousin was dead, he asked him where he was going. "I am already a disembodied spirit," replied Chi; "don't you remember?" Tai was a little disturbed at this; but, being under the influence of liquor, he was not frightened, and inquired of his cousin what he was doing in the realms below. "I am employed as scribe," said Chi, "in the court of the Great King." "Then you must know all about our happiness and misfortunes to come," cried Tai. "It is my business," answered his cousin, "so of course I know. But I see such an enormous mass that, unless of special reference to myself or family, I take no notice of any of it. Three days ago, by the way, I saw your name in the register." Tai immediately asked what there w…

The Rat Wife

HSI SHAN was a native of Kao-mi, and a trader by occupation. He frequently slept at a place called Meng-i. One day he was delayed on the road by rain, and when he arrived at his usual quarters it was already late in the night. He knocked at all the doors, but no one answered; and he was walking backwards and forwards in the piazza when suddenly a door flew open and an old man came out. He invited the traveller to enter, an invitation to which Hsi Shan gladly responded; and, tying up his mule, he went in. The place was totally unfurnished; and the old man began by saying that it was only out of compassion that he had asked him in, as his house was not an inn. "There are only three or four of us," added he; "and my wife and daughter are fast asleep. We have some of yesterday's food, which I will get ready for you; you must not object to its being cold." He then went within, and shortly afterwards returned with a low couch, which he placed on the ground, begging h…

Death by laughing

A Mr. Sun Ching-hsia, a marshal of undergraduates, told me that in his village there was a certain man who had been killed by the rebels when they passed through the place. The man's head was left hanging down on his chest; and as soon as the rebels had gone, his servants secured the body and were about to bury it. Hearing, however, a sound of breathing, they looked more closely, and found that the windpipe was not wholly severed; and, setting his head in its proper place, they carried him back home. In twenty-four hours he began to moan; and by dint of carefully feeding him with a spoon, within six months he had quite recovered.

Some ten years afterwards he was chatting with a few friends, when one of them made a joke which called forth loud applause from the others. Our hero, too, clapped his hands; but, as he was bending backwards and forwards with laughter, the seam on his neck split open, and down fell his head with a gush of blood.

His friends now found that he was quite dea…

The sisters

His Excellency the Grand Secretary Mao came from an obscure family in the district of Yeh, his father being only a poor cow-herd. At the same place there resided a wealthy gentleman, named Chang, who owned a burial-ground in the neighbourhood; and some one informed him that while passing by he had heard sounds of wrangling from within the grave, and voices saying, "Make haste and go away; do not disturb His Excellency's home." Chang did not much believe this; but subsequently he had several dreams in which he was told that the burial-ground in question really belonged to the Mao family, and that he had no right whatever to it. From this moment the affairs of his house began to go wrong; and at length he listened to the remonstrances of friends and removed his dead elsewhere.

One day Mao's father, the cow-herd, was out near this burial-ground, when, a storm of rain coming on, he took refuge in the now empty grave, while the rain came down harder than ever, and by-and-…

The Tiger Guest

A YOUNG man named Kung, a native of Min-chou, on his way to the examination at Hsi-ngan, rested awhile in an inn, and ordered some wine to drink. Just then a very tall and noble-looking stranger walked in, and, seating himself by the side of Kung, entered into conversation with him. Kung offered him a cup of wine, which the stranger did not refuse; saying, at the same time, that his name was Miao. But he was a rough, coarse fellow; and Kung, therefore, when the wine was finished, did not call for any more. Miao then rose, and observing that Kung did not appreciate a man of his capacity, went out into the market to buy some, returning shortly with a huge bowl full. Kung declined the proffered wine; but Miao, seizing his arm to persuade him, gripped it so painfully that Kung was forced to drink a few more cups, Miao himself swilling away as hard as he could go out of a soup-plate. "I am not good at entertaining people," cried Miao, at length; "pray go on or stop just as y…

The young gentleman who couldn't spell.

AT Chia-p'ing there lived a certain young gentleman of considerable talent and very prepossessing appearance. When seventeen years of age he went up for his bachelor's degree; and as he was passing the door of a house, he saw within a pretty-looking girl, who not only riveted his gaze, but also smiled and nodded her head at him. Quite pleased at this, he approached the young lady and began to talk, she, meanwhile, inquiring of him where he lived, and if alone or otherwise. He assured her he was quite by himself; and then she said, "Well, I will come and see you, but you mustn't let any one know." The young gentleman agreed, and when he got home he sent all the servants to another part of the house, and by-and-by the young lady arrived.

She said her name was Wen-chi, and that her admiration for her host's noble bearing had made her visit him, unknown to her mistress. "And gladly," added she, "would I be your handmaid for life." Our hero was…