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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 you please." Kung accordingly put together his things and went off; but he had not gone more than a few miles when his horse was taken ill, and lay down in the road. While he was waiting there with all his heavy baggage, revolving in his mind what he should do, up came Mr. Miao; who, when he heard what was the matter, took off his coat and handed it to the servant, and lifting up the horse, carried it off on his back to the nearest inn, which was about six or seven miles distant. Arriving there he put the animal in the stable, and before long Kung and his servants arrived too. Kung was much astonished at Mr. Miao's feat; and, believing him to be super-human, began to treat him with the utmost deference, ordering both wine and food to be procured for their refreshment. "My appetite," remarked Miao, "is one that you could not easily satisfy. Let us stick to wine." So they finished another stoup together, and then Miao got up and took his leave, saying, "It will be some time before your horse is well; I cannot wait for you." He then went away.
After the examination several friends of Kung's invited him to join them in a picnic to the Flowery Hill; and just as they were all feasting and laughing together, lo! Mr. Miao walked up. In one hand he held a large flagon, and in the other a ham, both of which he laid down on the ground before them. "Hearing," said he, "that you gentlemen were coming here, I have tacked myself on to you, like a fly to a horse's tail." Kung and his friends then rose and received him with the usual ceremonies, after which they all sat down promiscuously. By-and-by, when the wine had gone round pretty freely, some one proposed capping verses; whereupon Miao cried out, "Oh, we're very jolly drinking like this; what's the use of making oneself uncomfortable?" The others, however, would not listen to him, and agreed that as a forfeit a huge goblet of wine should be drunk by any defaulter. "Let us rather make death the penalty," said Miao; to which they replied, laughing, that such a punishment was a trifle too severe; and then Miao retorted that if it was not to be death, even a rough fellow like himself might be able to join. A Mr. Chin, who was sitting at the top of the line, then began:

" From the hill-top high, wide extends the gaze " upon which Miao immediately carried on with
" Redly gleams the sword o'er the shattered vase."

The next gentleman thought for a long time, during which Miao was helping himself to wine; and by-and-by they had all capped the verse, but so wretchedly that Miao called out, "Oh, come! if we aren't to be fined for these, we had better abstain from making any more." As none of them would agree to this, Miao could stand it no longer, and roared like a dragon till the hills and valleys echoed again. He then went down on his hands and knees, and jumped about like a lion, which utterly confused the poets, and put an end to their lucubrations. The wine had now been round a good many times, and being half tipsy each began to repeat to the other the verses he had handed in at the recent examination, all at the same time indulging in any amount of mutual flattery. This so disgusted Miao that he drew Kung aside to have a game at "guess-fingers;" but as they went on droning away all the same, he at length cried out, "Do stop your rubbish, fit only for your own wives, and not for general company." The others were much abashed at this, and so angry were they at Miao's rudeness that they went on repeating all the louder. Miao then threw himself on the ground in a passion, and with a roar changed into a tiger, immediately springing upon the company, and killing them all except Kung and Mr. Chin. He then ran off roaring loudly. Now this Mr. Chin succeeded in taking his master's degree; and three years afterwards, happening to revisit the Flowery Hill, he beheld a Mr. Chi, one of those very gentlemen who had previously been killed by the tiger. In great alarm he was making off, when Chi seized his bridle and would not let him proceed. So he got down from his horse, and inquired what was the matter; to which Chi replied, "I am now the slave of Miao, and have to endure bitter toil for him. He must kill some one else before I can be set free. Three days hence a man, arrayed in the robes and cap of a scholar, should be eaten by the tiger at the foot of the Ts'ang-lung Hill. Do you on that day take some gentle-man thither, and thus help your old friend." Chin was too frightened to say much, but promising that he would do so, rode away home. He then began to consider the matter over with himself, and, regarding it as a plot, he determined to break his engagement, and let his friend remain the tiger's devil. He chanced, however, to repeat the story to a Mr. Chiang who was a relative of his, and one of the local scholars; and as this gentleman had a grudge against another scholar, named Yu, who had come out equal with him at the examination, he made up his mind to destroy him. So he invited Yu to accompany him on that day to the place in question, mentioning that he himself should appear in undress only. Yu could not make out the reason for this; but when he reached the spot there he found all kinds of wine and food ready for his entertainment. Now that very day the Prefect had come to the hill; and being a friend of the Chiang family, and hearing that Chiang was below, sent for him to come up. Chiang did not dare to appear before him in undress, and borrowed Yu's clothes and hat; but he had no sooner got them on than out rushed the tiger and carried him away in its mouth.

苗生

龔生,岷州人。赴試西安,憩於旅舍,沽酒自酌。一偉丈夫入,坐與語。生舉卮勸飲,客亦不辭。自言苗姓,言噱粗豪。生以其不文,偃蹇遇之。酒盡,不復沽。苗曰:「措大飲酒,使人悶損!」起向壚頭沽,提巨瓻而入。生辭不飲,苗捉臂勸釂,臂痛欲折。生不得已,為盡數觴。苗以羹椀自吸,笑曰:「僕不善勸客,行止惟君所便。」生即治裝行。約數里,馬病,臥於途,坐待路側。行李重累,正無方計,苗尋至。詰知其故,遂謝裝付僕,己乃以肩承馬腹而荷之,趨二十餘里,始至逆旅,釋馬就櫪。移時,生主僕方至。生乃驚為神人,相待優渥,沽酒市飯,與共餐飲。苗曰:「僕善飯,非君所能飽,飫飲可也。」引盡一瓻,乃起而別曰:「君醫馬尚須時日,余不能待,行矣。」遂去,後生場事畢,三四友人,邀登華山,藉地作筵。方共宴笑,苗忽至,左攜巨尊,右提豚肘,擲地曰:「聞諸君登臨,敬附驥尾。」眾起為禮,相並雜坐,豪飲甚懽。眾欲聯句。苗爭曰:「縱飲甚樂,何苦愁思!」眾不聽,設「金谷之罰」。苗曰:「不佳者,當以軍法從事!」眾笑曰:「罪不至此。」苗曰:「如不見誅,僕武夫亦能之也。」首座靳生曰:「絕巘憑臨眼界空。」苗信口續曰:「唾壺擊缺劍光紅。」下座沉吟既久,苗遂引壺自傾。移時,以次屬句,漸涉鄙俚。苗呼曰:「只此已足,如赦我者,勿作矣!」眾弗聽。苗不可復忍,遽效作龍吟,山谷響應;又起俛仰作獅子舞。詩思既亂,眾乃罷吟,因而飛觴再酌。時已半酣,客又互誦闈中作,迭相贊賞。苗不欲聽,牽生豁拳。勝負屢分,而諸客誦贊未已。苗厲聲曰:「僕聽之已悉。此等文,只宜向床頭對婆子讀耳,廣眾中刺刺者可厭也!」眾有慚色,更惡其粗莽,遂益高吟。苗怒甚,伏地大吼,立化為虎,撲殺諸客,咆哮而去。所存者,惟生及靳。靳是科領薦。後三年,再經華陰,忽見嵇生,亦山上被噬者。大恐欲馳,靳捉鞚使不得行。靳乃下馬,問其何為。答曰:「我今為苗氏,之倀,從役良苦。必再殺一士人,始可相代。三日後,應有儒服儒冠者見噬於虎,然必在蒼龍嶺下,始是代某者。君於是日,多邀文士於此,即為故人謀也。」靳不敢辨,敬諾而別。至寓,籌思終夜,莫知為謀,自拚背約,以聽鬼責。適有表戚蔣生來,靳述其異。蔣名下士,邑尤生考居其上,竊懷忌嫉。聞靳言,陰欲陷之。折簡邀尤,與共登臨,自乃著白衣而往,尤亦不解其意。至嶺半,肴酒並陳,敬禮臻至。會郡守登嶺上,與蔣為通家,聞蔣在下,遣人召之。蔣不敢以白衣往,遂與尤易冠服。交著未完,虎驟至,啣蔣而去。
  異史氏曰:「得意津津者,捉衿袖,強人聽聞;聞者欠伸屢作,欲睡欲遁,而誦者足蹈手舞,茫不自覺。知交者亦當從旁肘之躡之,恐座中有不耐事之苗生在也。然嫉忌者易服而斃,則知苗亦無心者耳。故厭怒者苗也,──非苗也。」

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