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Engaged to a nun or Chen Yun Qi (Yun Ch'i)

AT I-ling, in Hupei, there lived a young man named Chen Yu, the son of a graduate. He was a good scholar and a handsome fellow, and had made a reputation for himself even before he arrived at manhood. When quite a boy, a physiognomist had predicted that he would marry a Taoist nun; but his parents regarded it only as a joke, and made several attempts to get him a different kind of wife. Their efforts, however, had not hitherto proved successful, the difficulty being to find a suitable match.

Now his maternal grandmother lived at Huang-kang; and on one occasion, when young Chen was paying her a visit, he heard some one say that of the four Yuns at Huang-chou the youngest had no peer. This remark referred to some very nice-looking nuns who lived in a temple a few miles from his grandmother's house; and accordingly Chen secretly set off to see them, and, knocking at the door, was very cordially received by the four ladies, who were persons of considerable refinement. The youngest was a girl of incomparable beauty, and Chen could not keep his eyes off her, until at last she put her hand up to her face and looked the other way. Her companions now going out of the room to get tea for their visitor, Chen availed himself of the opportunity to ask the young lady's name; to which she replied that she was called Yun-ch'i, and that her surname was Ch'en. "How extraordinary!" cried Chen; "and mine is P'an." This made her blush very much, and she bent her head down and made no answer; by-and-by rising up and going away. The tea then came in, accompanied by some nice fruit, and the nuns began telling him their names. One was Pai Yun-shen, and thirty odd years of age; another was Sheng Vim-mien, just twenty; and the third was Liang Yun-tung, twenty-four or five years old, but the junior in point of religious standing. Yun-ch'i did not reappear, and at length Chen grew anxious to see her again, and asked where she was. Miss Pai told him her sister was afraid of strangers, and Chen then got up and took his leave in spite of their efforts to detain him. "If you want to see Yun-ch'i you had better come again to-morrow," said Miss Pai; and Chen, who went home thinking of nothing but Yun-ch'i, did return to the temple on the following day. All the nuns were there except Yun-ch'i, but he hardly liked to begin by inquiring after her; and then they pressed him to stay and take dinner with them, accepting no excuses, Miss Pai herself setting food and chop-sticks before him? and urging him to eat. When he asked where Yun-ch'i was, they said she would come directly; but evening gradually drew on and Chen rose to go home. There-upon they all entreated him to stay, promising that if he did so they would make Yun-ch'i come in. Chen then agreed to remain; the lamps were lighted, and wine was freely served round, until at last he said he was so tipsy he couldn't take any more. "Three bumpers more," cried Miss Pai, "and then we will send for Yun-ch'i." So Chen drank off his three cups, whereupon Miss Liang said he must also drink three with her, which he did, turning his wine-cup down on the table and declaring that he would have no more. "The gentleman won't condescend to drink with us," said Miss Pai to Miss Liang, "so you had better call in Yun-ch'i, and tell the fair Eloisa that her Abelard is awaiting her." In a few moments Miss Liang came back and told Chen that Yun-ch'i would not appear; upon which he went off in a huff, without saying a word to either of them, and for several days did not go near the place again. He could not, however, forget Yun-ch'i, and was always hanging about on the watch, until one afternoon he observed Miss Pai go out, at which he was delighted, for he wasn't much afraid of Miss Liang, and at once ran up to the temple and knocked at the door. Yun-mien answered his knock, and from her he discovered that Miss Liang had also gone out on business. He then asked for Yun-ch'i, and Yun-mien led him into another court-yard, where she called out, "Yun-ch'i! here's a visitor." At this the door of the room was immediately slammed, and Yun-mien laughed and told Chen she had locked herself in. Chen was on the point of saying something, when Yun-mien moved away, and a voice was heard from the other side of the window, "They all declare I'm setting my cap at you, Sir; and if you come here again, I cannot answer for my safety. I do not wish to remain a nun, and if I could only meet with a gentleman like you, Mr. P'an, I would be a handmaid to him all the days of my life." Chen offered his hand and heart to the young lady on the spot; but she reminded him that her education for the priesthood had not been accomplished without expense, "and if you truly love me," added she, "bring twenty ounces of silver wherewith to purchase my freedom. I will wait for you three years with the utmost fidelity." Chen assented to this, and was about to tell her who he really was, when Yun-mien returned and they all went out together, Chen now bidding them farewell and going back to his grand-mother's. After this he always had Yun-ch'i in his thoughts, and wanted very much to get another interview with her and be near her once again, but at this juncture he heard that his father was dangerously ill, and promptly set off on his way home, travelling day and night. His father died, and his mother who then ruled the house-hold was such a severe person that he dared not tell her what was nearest to his heart. Meanwhile he scraped together all the money he could; and refused all proposals of marriage on the score of being in mourning for his father. His mother, however, insisted on his taking a wife; and he then told her that when he was with his grandmother at Huang-kang, an arrangement had been made that he was to marry a Miss Ch'en, to which he himself was quite ready to accede; and that now, although his father's death had stopped all communications on the subject, he could hardly do better than pay a visit to his grandmother and see how matters stood, promising that if the affair was not actually settled he would obey his mother's commands. His mother consented to this, and off he started with the money he had saved; but when he reached Huang-kang and went off to the temple, he found the place desolate and no longer what it had been. Entering in, he saw only one old priestess employed in cooking her food; and on making inquiries of her, she told him that the Abbess had died in the previous year, and that the four nuns had gone away in different directions. According to her. Yun-ch'i was living in the northern quarter of the city, and thither he proceeded forthwith; but after asking for her at all the temples in the neighbourhood, he could get no news of her, and returned sorrowfully home, pretending to his mother that his uncle had said Mr. Ch'en had gone away, and that as soon as he came back they would send a servant to let him know.

Some months after these events, Chen's mother went on a visit to her own home, and mentioned this story in conversation with her old mother, who, to her astonishment, knew nothing at all about it, but suggested that Chen and his uncle must have concocted the thing together. Luckily, however, for Chen his uncle was away at that time, and they had no means of getting at the real truth. Meanwhile, Chen's mother went away to the Lily Hill to fulfil a vow she had made, and remained all night at an inn at the foot of the hill. That evening the landlord knocked at her door and ushered in a young priestess to share the room. The girl said her name was Yun-ch'i; and when she heard that Chen's mother lived at I-ling, she went and sat by her side, and poured out to her a long tale of tribulation, finishing up by saying that she had a cousin named P'an, at I-ling, and begging Chen's mother to send some one to tell him where she would be found. "Every day I suffer," added she, "and each day seems like a year. Tell him to come quickly, or I may be gone." Chen's mother inquired what his other name might be, but she said she did not know; to which the old lady replied that it was of no consequence, as, being a graduate, it would be easy to find him out. Early in the morning Chen's mother bade the girl farewell, the latter again begging her not to forget; and when she reached home she told Chen what had occurred. Chen threw himself on his knees, and told his mother that he was the P'an to whom the young lady alluded; and after hearing how the engagement had come about, his mother was exceedingly angry, and said, "Undutiful boy how will you face your relations with a nun for a wife?" Chen hung his head and made no reply; but shortly afterwards when he went up for his examination, he presented himself at the address given by Yun-ch'i only, however, to find that the young lady had gone away a fortnight before. He then returned home and fell into a bad state of health, when his grandmother died and his mother set off to assist at her funeral. On her way back she missed the right road and reached the house of some people named Ching, who turned out to be cousins of hers. They invited her in, and there she saw a young girl of about eighteen sitting in the parlour, and as great a beauty as she had ever set eyes on. Now, as she was always thinking of making a good match for her son, and curing him of his settled melancholy, she asked who the young lady might be; and they told her that her name was Wang, that she was a connection of their own, and that her father and mother being dead, she was staying temporarily with them. Chen's mother inquired the name of Miss Wang's betrothed, but they said she was not engaged; and then taking her hand, she entered into conversation, and was very much charmed with her. Passing the night there, Chen's mother took her cousin into her confidence, and the latter agreed that it would be a capital match; "but," added she, "this young lady is somewhat ambitious, or she would hardly have remained single so long. We must think about it." Meanwhile, Chen's mother and Miss Wang got on so extremely well together that they were already on the terms of mother and daughter; and Miss Wang was invited to accompany her home. This invitation she readily accepted, and next day they went back; Chen's mother, who wished to see her son free from his present trouble, bidding one of the servants tell him that she had brought home a nice wife for him; Chen did not believe this; but on peeping through the window beheld a young lady much prettier even than Yun-ch'i herself. He now began to reflect that the three years agreed upon had already expired; that Yun-chi had gone no one knew whither, and had probably by this time found another husband; so he had no difficulty in entertaining the thought of marrying this young lady, and soon regained his health. His mother then caused the young people to meet, and be introduced to one another; saying to Miss Wang, when her son had left the room, "Did you guess why I invited you to come home with me?" "I did," replied the young lady, "but I don't think you guessed what was my object in coming. Some years ago I was betrothed to a Mr. P'an, of I-ling. I have heard nothing of him for a long time. If he has found another wife I will be your daughter-in-law; if not, I will ever regard you as my own mother, and endeavour to repay you for your kindness to me." "As there is an actual engagement," replied Chen's mother, "I will say no more; but when I was at the Lily Hill there was a Taoist nun inquiring after this Mr. P'an, and now you again, though, as a matter of fact, there is no Mr. P'an in I-ling at all." "What!" cried Miss Wang, "are you that lady I met? I am the person who inquired for Mr. P'an." "If that is so," replied Chen's mother with a smile, "then your Mr. P'an is not far off." "Where is he?" said she; and then Chen's mother bade a maid-servant lead her out to her son and ask him. "Is your name Yun-ch'i?" said Chen, in great astonishment; and when the young lady asked him how he knew it, he told her the whole story of his pretending to be a Mr. P'an. But when Yun-ch'i found out to whom she was talking, she was abashed, and went back and told his mother, who inquired how she came to have two names. "My real name is Wang," replied the young lady; "but the old Abbess, being very fond of me, made me take her own name." Chen's mother was overjoyed at all this, and an auspicious day was immediately fixed for the celebration of their marriage.

陳雲棲

真毓生,楚夷陵人,孝廉之子。能文,美丰姿,弱冠知名。兒時,相者曰:「後當娶女道士為妻。」父母共以為笑。而為之論婚,低昂苦不能就。生母臧夫人,祖居黃岡,生以故詣外祖母。聞時人語曰:「黃州『四雲』,少者無論。」蓋郡有呂祖菴,菴中女道士皆美,故云。菴去臧氏村僅十餘里,生因竊往。扣其關,果有女道士三四人,謙喜承迎,儀度皆潔。中一最少者,曠世真無其儔,心好而目注之。女以手支頤,但他顧。諸道士覓盞烹茶。生乘間問姓字。答云:「雲棲,姓陳。」生戲曰:「奇矣!小生適姓潘。」陳赬顏發頰,低頭不語,起而去。少間,瀹茗,進佳果。各道姓字:一,白雲深,年三十許;一,盛雲眠,二十以來;一,梁雲棟,約二十有四五,卻為弟。而雲棲不至。生殊悵惘,因問之。白曰:「此婢懼生人。」生乃起別,白力挽之,不留而出。白曰:「而欲見雲棲,明日可復來。」生歸,思戀綦切。次日,又詣之。諸道士俱在,獨少雲棲,未便遽問。諸女冠治具留餐,生力辭,不聽。白拆餅授箸,勸進良殷。既問:「雲棲何在?」答云:「自至。」久之,日勢已晚,生欲歸。白捉腕留之,曰:「姑止此,我捉婢子來奉見。」生乃止。俄,挑燈具酒,雲眠亦去。酒數行,生辭已醉。白曰:「飲三觥,則雲棲出矣。」生果飲如數。梁亦以此挾勸之,生又盡之,覆琖告辭。白顧梁曰:「吾等面薄,不能勸飲,汝往曳陳婢來,便道潘郎待妙常已久。」梁去,少時而返,具言:「雲棲不至。」生欲去,而夜已深,乃佯醉仰臥。兩人代裸之,迭就淫焉。終夜不堪其擾。天既明,不睡而別,數日不敢復往,而心念雲棲不忘也,但不時於近側探偵之。一日,既暮,白出門,與少年去。生喜,不甚畏梁,急往款關。雲眠出應門,問之,則梁亦他適。因問雲棲。盛導去,又入一院,呼曰:「雲棲!客至矣。」但見室門閛然而合。盛笑曰:「閉扉矣。」生立窗外,似將有言,盛乃去。雲棲隔窗曰:「人皆以妾為餌,釣君也。頻來,身命殆矣。妾不能終守清規,亦不敢遂乖廉恥,欲得如潘郎者事之耳。」生乃以白頭相約。雲棲曰:「妾師撫養。即亦非易,果相見愛,當以二十金贖妾身。妾候君三年。如望為桑中之約,所不能也。」生諾之。方欲自陳,而盛復至,從與俱出,遂別歸。中心怊悵,思欲委曲夤緣,再一親其嬌范,適有家人報父病,遂星夜而還。無何,孝廉卒。夫人庭訓最嚴,心事不敢使知,但刻減金貲,日積之。有議婚者,輒以服闋為辭。母不聽。生婉告曰:「曩在黃岡,外祖母欲以婚陳氏,誠心所願。今遭大故,音耗遂梗,久不如黃省問;旦夕一往,如不果諧,從母所命。」夫人許之。乃攜所積而去。至黃,詣菴中,則院宇荒涼,大異疇昔。漸入之,惟一老尼炊灶下,因就問。尼曰:「前年老道士死,『四雲』星散矣。」問:「何之?」曰:「雲深、雲棟,從惡少去;向聞雲棲寓居郡北;雲眠消息不知也。」生聞之悲歎。命駕即詣郡北,遇觀輒詢,並少蹤跡。悵恨而歸,偽告母曰:「舅言:陳翁如岳州,待其歸,當遣伻來。」踰半年,夫人歸寧,以事問母,母殊茫然。夫人怒子誑;媼疑甥與舅謀,而未以聞也。幸舅出,莫從稽其妄。夫人以香愿登蓮峰,齋宿山下。既臥,逆旅主人扣扉,送一女道士,寄宿同舍,自言:「陳雲棲。」聞夫人家夷陵,移坐就榻,告愬坎坷,詞旨悲惻。末言:「有表兄潘生,與夫人同籍,煩囑子姪輩一傳口語,但道其暫寄棲鶴觀師叔王道成所,朝夕厄苦,度日如歲。令早一臨存;恐過此以往,未之或知也。」夫人審名字,即又不知。但云:「既在學宮,秀才輩想無不聞也。」未明早別,殷殷再囑。夫人既歸,向生言及。生長跪曰:「實告母:所謂潘生,即兒也。」夫人既知其故,怒曰:「不肖兒!宣淫寺觀,以道士為婦,何顏見親賓乎!」生垂頭,不敢出詞。會生以赴試入郡,竊命舟訪王道成。至,則雲棲半月前出游不返。既歸,悒悒而病。適臧媼卒,夫人往奔喪,殯後迷途,至京氏家,問之,則族妹也。相便邀入。見有少女在堂,年可十八九,姿容曼妙,目所未睹。夫人每思得一佳婦,俾子不懟,心動,因詰生平。妹云:「此王氏女也,京氏甥也。怙恃俱失,暫寄此耳。」問:「婿家誰?」曰:「無之。」把手與語,意致嬌婉,母大悅,為之過宿,私以己意告妹。妹曰:「良佳。但其人高自位置;不然,胡蹉跎至今也。容商之。」夫人招與同榻,談笑甚懽;自願母夫人。夫人悅,請同歸荊州;女益喜。次日,同舟而還。既至,則生病未起,母欲慰其沉痾,使婢陰告曰:「夫人為公子載麗人至矣。」生未信,伏窗窺之,較雲棲尤豔絕也。因念:三年之約已過,出游不返,則玉容必已有主。得此佳麗,心懷頗慰。於是囅然動色,病亦尋瘳。母乃招兩人相拜見。生出,夫人謂女:「亦知我同歸之意乎?」女微笑曰:「妾已知之。但妾所以同歸之初志,母不知也。妾少字夷陵潘氏,音耗闊絕,必已另有良匹。果爾,則為母也婦;不爾,則終為母也女,報母有日也。」夫人曰:「既有成約,即亦不強。但前在五祖山時,有女冠問潘氏,今又潘氏,固知夷陵世族無此姓也。」女驚曰:「臥蓮峰下者母耶?詢潘者,即我是也。」母始恍然悟,笑曰:「若然,則潘生固在此矣。」女問:「何在?」夫人命婢導去問生,生驚曰:「卿雲棲耶?」女問:「何如?」生言其情,始知以潘郎為戲。女知為生,羞與終談,急返告母。母問其「何復姓王」。答云:「妾本姓王。道師見愛,遂以為女,從其姓耳。」夫人亦喜,涓吉為之成禮。先是,女與雲眠俱依王道成。道成居隘,雲眠遂去之漢口。女嬌癡不能作苦,又羞出操道士業,道成頗不善之。會京氏如黃岡,女遇之流涕,因與俱去,俾改女冠裝,將論婚士族,故諱其曾隸道士籍。而問名者,女輒不願,舅及妗皆不知其意向,心厭嫌之。是日,從夫人歸,得所託,如釋重負焉。合巹後,各述所遭,喜極而泣。女孝謹,夫人雅憐愛之;而彈琴好弈,不知理家人生業,夫人頗以為憂。積月餘,母遣兩人如京氏,留數日而歸,泛舟江流,欻一舟過,中一女冠,近之,則雲眠也。雲眠獨與女善。女喜,招與同舟,相對酸辛。問:「將何之?」盛雲:「久切懸念。遠至棲鶴觀。則聞依京舅矣。故將詣黃岡,一奉探耳。竟不知意中人已得相聚。今視之如仙,剩此漂泊人,不知何時已矣!」因而欷歔。女設一謀:令易道裝,偽作姊,攜伴夫人,徐擇佳耦。盛從之。既歸,女先白夫人,盛乃入。舉止大家;談笑間,練達世故。母既寡,苦寂,得盛良懽,惟恐其去。盛早起,代母劬勞,不自作客。母益喜,陰思納女姊,以掩女冠之名,而未敢言也。一日,忘某事未作,急問之,則盛代備已久。因謂女曰:「畫中人不能作家,亦復何為。新婦若大姊者,吾不憂也。」不知女存心久,但懼母嗔。聞母言,笑對曰:「母既愛之,新婦欲效英、皇,何如?」母不言,亦囅然笑。女退,告生曰:「老母首肯矣。」乃另潔一室,告盛曰:「昔在觀中共枕時,姊言:『但得一能知親愛之人,我兩人當共事之。』猶憶之否?」盛不覺雙眥熒熒,曰:「妾所謂親愛者,非他:如日日經營,曾無一人知其甘苦;數日來,略有微勞,即煩老母卹念,則中心冷暖頓殊矣。若不下逐客令,俾得長伴老母,於願斯足,亦不望前言之踐也。」女告母。母今姊妹焚香,各矢無悔詞,乃使生與行夫婦禮。將寢,告生曰:「妾乃二十三歲老處女也。」生猶未信。既而落紅殷褥,始奇之。盛曰:「妾所以樂得良人者,非不能甘岑寂也;誠以閨閣之身,腆然酬應如勾欄,所不堪耳。借此一度,挂名君籍,當為君奉事老母,作內紀綱,若房闈之樂,請別與人探討之。」三日後,襆被從母,遣之不去。女早詣母所,占其床寢,不得已,乃從生去。由是三兩日輒一更代,習為常。夫人故善弈,自宴居,不暇為之。自得盛,經理井井,晝日無事,輒與女弈。挑燈瀹茗,聽兩婦彈琴,夜分始散。每與人曰:「兒父在時,亦未能有此樂也。」盛司出納,每記籍報母。母疑曰:「兒輩常言幼孤,作字彈棋,誰教之?」女笑以實告。母亦笑曰:「我初不欲為兒娶一道士,今竟得兩矣。」忽憶童時所卜,始信定數不可逃也。生再試不第。夫人曰:「吾家雖不豐,簿田三百畝,幸得雲眠紀理,日益溫飽。兒但在膝下,率兩婦與老身共樂,不願汝求富貴也。」生從之。後雲眠生男女各一;雲棲女一男三。母八十餘歲而終:孫皆入泮;長孫,雲眠所出,已中鄉選矣。

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You may wonder why Sister Pai and Liang entreated the young man to stay so earnestly, and Yun Ch'i lock herself up, she couldn't be just shy and afraid of strangers. There must be some reason, but you can find out just from Giles' translation:

 In a few moments Miss Liang came back and told Chen that Yun-ch'i would not appear; Chen wanted to leave, but it was too late, he then pretended to be drunk and lay on his back  in bed sleeping. The two nuns stripped him naked, and had sex with him one after another without stop the whole night, Chen couldn't bear their excessiveness. As soon as the day was dawn, (生欲去,而夜已深,乃佯醉仰臥。兩人代裸之,迭就淫焉。終夜不堪其擾。天既明,) [upon which] he went off in a huff, without saying a word to either of them, and for several days did not go near the place again.

You can now see Yun-ch'i was just a bait used to capture the young handsome man for the nuns to satisfy their carnal desires. While Yun-ch'i was as good as beautiful, she wouldn't wallow in the mire with other nuns.

「人皆以妾為餌,釣君也。頻來,身命殆矣。 妾不能終守清規,亦不敢遂乖廉恥,欲得如潘郎者事之耳。」生乃以白頭相約。雲棲曰:「妾師撫養。即亦非易,果相見愛,當以二十金贖妾身。妾候君三年。如望為桑中之約,所不能也。」"They all use me as a bait to trap you. If you come here again and again, your life will be in danger.[They all declare I'm setting my cap at you, Sir; and if you come here again, I cannot answer for my safety.]  I do not wish to remain a nun, and if I could only meet with a gentleman like you, Mr. P'an, I would be a handmaid to him all the days of my life." Chen offered his hand and heart to the young lady on the spot; but she reminded him that her education for the priesthood had not been accomplished without expense, "and if you truly love me," added she, "bring twenty ounces of silver wherewith to purchase my freedom. I will wait for you three years with the utmost fidelity."

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