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A Taoist Priest

ONCE upon a time there was a Mr. Han, who belonged to a wealthy family, and was fond of entertaining people. A man named Hsu, of the same town, frequently joined him over the bottle; and on one occasion when they were together a Taoist priest came to the door with his alm's-bowl in his hand. The servants threw him some money and food, but the priest would not accept them, neither would he go away; and at length they would take no more notice of him. Mr. Han heard the noise of the priest knocking his bowl going on for a long time, and asked his servants what was the matter; and they had hardly told him when the priest himself walked in.

Mr. Han begged him to be seated; whereupon the priest bowed to both gentlemen and took his seat. On making the usual inquiries, they found that he lived at an old tumble-down temple to the east of the town, and Mr. Han expressed regret at not having heard sooner of his arrival, so that he might have shown him the proper hospitality of a resident. The priest said that he had only recently arrived, and had no friends in the place; but hearing that Mr. Han was a jovial fellow, he had been very anxious to take a glass with him. Mr. Han then ordered wine, and the priest soon distinguished himself as a hard drinker; Mr. Hsu treating him all the time with a certain amount of disrespect in consequence of his shabby appearance, while Mr. Han made allowances for him as being a traveller. When he had drunk over twenty large cups of wine, the priest took his leave, returning subsequently whenever any jollification was going on, no matter whether it was eating or drinking. Even Han began now to tire a little of him; and on one occasion Hsu said to him in raillery, "Good priest, you seem to like being a guest; why don't you play the host sometimes for a change?" "Ah, "replied the priest, "I am much the same as yourself a mouth carried between a couple of shoulders." This put Hsu to shame, and he had no answer to make; so the priest continued, "But although that is so, I have been revolving the question with myself for some time, and when we do meet I shall do my best to repay your kindness with a cup of my own poor wine." When they had finished drinking, the priest said he hoped he should have the pleasure of their company the following day at noon; and at the appointed time the two friends went together, not expecting, however, to find anything ready for them. But the priest was waiting for them in the street; and passing through a handsome court-yard, they beheld long suites of elegant apartments stretching away before them. In great astonishment, they remarked to the priest that they had not visited this temple for some time, and asked when it had been thus repaired; to which he replied that the work had been only lately completed. They then went inside, and there was a magnificently-decorated apartment, such as would not be found even in the houses of the wealthy. This made them begin to feel more respect for their host; and no sooner had they sat down than wine and food were served by a number of boys, all about sixteen years of age, and dressed in embroidered coats, with red shoes. The wine and the eatables were delicious, and very nicely served; and when the dinner was taken away, a course of rare fruits was put on the table, the names of all of which it would be impossible to mention. They were arranged in dishes of crystal and jade, the brilliancy of which lighted up the surrounding furniture; and the goblets in which the wine was poured were of glass, and more than a foot in circumference. The priest here cried out, "Call the Shih sisters," whereupon one of the boys went out, and in a few moments two elegant young ladies walked in. The first was tall and slim like a willow wand; the other was short and very young, both being exceedingly pretty girls. Being told to sing while the company were drinking, the younger beat time and sang a song, while the elder accompanied her on the flageolet. They acquitted themselves admirably; and, when the song was over, the priest holding his goblet bottom upwards in the air, challenged his guests to follow his example, bidding his servants pour out more wine all round. He then turned to the girls, and remarked that they had not danced for a long time, asking if they were still able to do so; upon which a carpet was spread by one of the boys, and the two young ladies proceeded to dance, their long robes waving about and perfuming the air around. The dance concluded, they leant against a painted screen, while the two guests gradually became more and more confused, and were at last irrecoverably drunk.

The priest took no notice of them; but when he had finished drinking, he got up and said, "Pray, go on with your wine; I am going to rest awhile, and will return by-and-by." He then went away, and lay down on a splendid couch at the other end of the room; at which Hsu was very angry, and shouted out, "Priest, you are a rude fellow," at the same time making towards him with a view of rousing him up. The priest then ran out, and Han and Hsu lay down to sleep, one at each end of the room, on elaborately-carved couches covered with beautiful mattresses. When they woke up, they found themselves lying in the road, Mr. Hsu with his head in a dirty drain. Hard by were a couple of rush huts; but everything else was gone.

道士

韓生,世家也。好客。同村徐氏,常飲于其座。會宴集,有道士托缽門上。家人投錢及粟,皆不受;亦不去。家人怒,歸不顧。韓聞擊剝之聲甚久,詢之,家人以情告。言未已,道士竟入。韓招之坐。道士向主客皆一舉手,即坐。略致研詰,始知其初居村東破廟中。韓曰:「何日棲鶴東觀,竟不聞知,殊缺地主之禮。」答曰:「野人新至,無交游。聞居士揮霍,深願求飲焉。」韓命舉觴。道士能豪飲。徐見其衣服垢敝,頗偃蹇,不甚為禮。韓亦海客遇之。道士傾飲二十餘杯,乃辭而去。
自是每讌會,道士輒至,遇食則食,遇飲則飲,韓亦稍厭其頻。飲次,徐嘲之曰:「道長日為客,寧不一作主?」道士笑曰:「道人與居士等,惟雙肩承一喙耳。」徐漸不能對。道士曰:「雖然,道人懷誠久矣,會當竭力作杯水之酬。」飲畢,囑曰:「翌午幸賜光寵。」次日,相邀同往,疑其不設。行去,道士已候于途;且語且步,已至寺門。入門,則院落一新,連閣雲蔓。大奇之,曰:「久不至此,創建何時?」道士答:「竣工未久。」比入其室,陳設華麗,世家所無。二人肅然起敬。甫坐,行酒下食,皆二八狡童,錦衣朱履。酒饌芳美,備極豐渥。飯已,另有小進。珍果多不可名,貯以水晶玉石之器。光照幾榻。酌以玻璃盞,圍尺許。道士曰:「喚石家姊妹來。」童去少時,二美人入。一細長,如弱柳;一身短,齒最稚;媚曼雙絕。道士即使歌以侑酒。少者拍板而歌,長者和以洞簫,其聲清細。既闋,道士懸爵促酹,又命遍酌。顧問美人:「久不舞,尚能之否?」遂有僮仆展氍毹于筵下,兩女對舞,長衣亂拂,香塵四散;舞罷,斜倚畫屏。二人心曠神飛,不覺醺醉。
道士亦不顧客,舉杯飲盡,起謂客曰:「姑煩自酌,我稍憩,即復來。」即去。南屋壁下,設一螺鈿之床,女子為施錦裀,扶道士臥。道士乃曳長者共寢,命少者立床下為之爬搔。二人睹此狀,頗不平。徐乃大呼:「道士不得無禮!」往將撓之。道士急起而遁。見少女猶立床下,乘醉拉向北榻,公然擁臥。視床上美人,尚眠繡榻,顧韓曰:「君何太迂?」韓乃徑登南榻;欲與狎褻,而美人睡去,撥之不轉。因抱與俱寢。天明,酒夢俱醒,覺懷中冷物冰人;視之,則抱長石臥青階下。急視徐,徐尚未醒;見其枕遺屙之石,酣寢敗廁中。蹴起,互相駭異。四顧,則一庭荒草,兩間破屋而已。

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There, you might have wondered why Mr. Hsu shouted at the Priest, whose behaviour seems not be bad enough for such a treatment. When I check the original Chinese text, then I realize that H. A. Giles has omitted part of the plot of this paragraph, probably due to the moral reason of his generation:

道士乃曳長者共寢,命少者立床下為之爬搔


The Priest dragged the elder singing girl to bed, and let the younger stand beside to scratch him. Though Mr. Han and Hsu shouted at the Priest, and stopped his rude action, they themselves share the two singing girls, but next morning found the two girls actually was filthy stones.

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