Skip to main content

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 delighted, and proposed to purchase her from the mistress she mentioned; and from this time she was in the habit of coming in every other day or so. On one occasion it was raining hard, and, after hanging up her wet cloak upon a peg, she took off her shoes, and bade the young gentleman clean them for her. He noticed that they were newly embroidered with all the colours of the rain-bow, but utterly spoilt by the soaking rain; and was just saying what a pity it was, when the young lady cried out, "I should never have asked you to do such menial work except to show my love for you." All this time the rain was falling fast outside, and Wen-chi now repeated the following line:

" A nipping wind and chilly rain fill the river and the city."

"There," said she, "cap that." The young gentle-man replied that he could not, as he did not even understand what it meant. "Oh, really," retorted the young lady, "if you're not more of a scholar than that, I shall begin to think very little of you." She then told him he had better practice making verses, and he promised he would do so.

By degrees Miss Wen-chi's frequent visits attracted the notice of the servants, as also of a brother-in-law named Sung, who was likewise a gentleman of position; and the latter begged our hero to be allowed to have a peep at her. He was told in reply that the young lady had strictly forbidden that any one should see her; however, he concealed himself in the servants' quarters, and when she arrived he looked at her through the window. Almost beside himself, he now opened the door; whereupon Wen-chi jumping up, vaulted over the wall and disappeared. Sung was really smitten with her, and went off to her mistress to try and arrange for her purchase; but when he mentioned Wen-chi's name, he was informed that they had once had such a girl, who had died several years previously. In great amazement Sung went back and told his brother-in-law, and he now knew that his beloved Wen-chi was a disembodied spirit. So when she came again he asked her if it was so; to which she replied, "It is; but as you wanted a nice wife and I a handsome husband, I thought we should be a suitable pair. What matters it that one is a mortal and the other a spirit," The young gentle-man thoroughly coincided in her view of the case; and when his examination was over, and he was homeward bound, Wen-chi accompanied him, invisible to others and visible to him alone. Arriving at his parents' house, he installed her in the library; and the day she went to pay the customary bride's visit to her father and mother, he told his own mother the whole story. She and his father were greatly alarmed, and ordered him to have no more to do with her; but he would not listen to this, and then his parents tried by all kinds of devices to get rid of the girl, none of which met with any success.

One day our hero had left upon the table some written instructions for one of the servants, wherein he had made a number of mistakes in spelling, such as paper for pepper; jinjer for ginger, and so on; and when Wen-chi saw this, she wrote at the foot:

"Paper for pepper do I see?
Jinjer for ginger can it be?
Of such a husband I'm afraid;
I'd rather be a servant-maid."

She then said to the young gentleman, "Imagining you to be a man of culture, I hid my blushes and sought you out the first. Alas, your qualifications are on the outside; should I not thus be a laughing-stock to all?" She then disappeared, at which the young gentle-man was much hurt; but not knowing to what she alluded, he gave the instructions to his servant, and so made himself the butt of all who heard the story.

嘉平公子

嘉平某公子,風儀秀美。年十七八,入郡赴童子試。偶過許娼之門,見內有二八麗人,因目注之。女微笑點首,公子近就與語。女問:「寓居何處?」具告之。問:「寓中有人否?」曰:「無。」女云:「妾晚間奉訪,勿使人知。」公子歸,及暮,屏去僮僕。女果至,自言:「小字溫姬。」且云:「妾慕公子風流,故背媼而來。區區之意,願奉終身。」公子亦喜。自此三兩夜輒一至。一夕,冒雨來,入門解去溼衣,罥諸椸上;又脫足上小靴,求公子代去泥塗。遂上床以被自覆。公子視其靴,乃五文新錦,沾濡殆盡,惜之。女曰:「妾非敢以賤物相役,欲使公子知妾之癡於情也。」聽窗外雨聲不止,遂吟曰:「淒風冷雨滿江城。」求公子續之。公子辭以不解。女曰:「公子如此一人,何乃不知風雅!使妾清興消矣!」因勸肄習,公子諾之。往來既頻,僕輩皆知。公子姊夫宋氏,亦世家子,聞之,竊求公子,一見溫姬。公子言之,女必不可。宋隱身僕舍,伺女至,伏窗窺之,顛倒欲狂。急排闥,女起,踰垣而去。宋嚮往甚殷,乃修贄見許媼,指名求之。媼曰:「果有溫姬,但死已久。」宋愕然退,告公子,公子始知為鬼。至夜,因以宋言告女。女曰:「誠然。顧君欲得美女子,妾亦欲得美丈夫。各遂所願足矣,人鬼何論焉?」公子以為然。試畢而歸,女亦從之。他人不見,惟公子見之。至家,寄諸齋中。公子獨宿不歸,父母疑之。女歸寧,始隱以告母,母大驚,戒公子絕之,公子不能聽。父母深以為憂,百術驅之不能去。一日,公子有諭僕帖,置案上,中多錯謬:「椒」訛「菽」,「姜」訛「江」,「可恨」訛「可浪」。女見之,書其後:「何事『可浪』?『花菽生江。』有婿如此,不如為娼!」遂告公子曰:「妾初以公子世家文人,故蒙羞自薦。不圖虛有其表!以貌取人,毋乃為天下笑乎!」言已而沒。公子雖愧恨,猶不知所題,折帖示僕。聞者傳為笑談。
  異史氏曰:「溫姬可兒!翩翩公子,何乃苛其中之所有哉!遂至悔不如娼,則妻妾羞泣矣。顧百計遣之不去,而見帖浩然,則『花菽生江』,何殊於杜甫之『子章髑髏』哉!」
  「耳錄」云:「道傍設漿者,榜云:「施『恭』結緣。」亦可一笑。
  有故家子,既貧,榜於門曰:「賣古淫器。」訛窰為淫云:「有要宣淫、定淫者,大小皆有,入內看物論價。」崔盧之子孫如此甚眾,何獨「花菽生江」哉!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The wonderful pear-tree

Once upon a time a countryman came into the town on market-day, and brought a load of very special pears with him to sell. He set up his barrow in a good corner, and soon had a great crowd round him ; for everyone knew he always sold extra fine pears, though he did also ask an extra high price. Now, while he was crying up his fruit, a poor, old, ragged, hungry-looking priest stopped just in front of the barrow, and very humbly begged him to give him one of the pears. But the countryman, who was very mean and very nasty-tempered, wouldn't hear of giving him any, and as the priest didn't seem inclined to move on, he began calling him all the bad names he could think of. " Good sir," said the priest, " you have got hundreds of pears on your barrow. I only ask you for one. You would never even know you had lost one. Really, you needn't get angry." "Give him a pear that is going bad ; that will make him happy," said one of the crowd. "The o

The Legend of The Three-Life Stone

The Buddhist believe metempsychosis, or the migration of the souls of animated beings, people's relationships are predestined through three states of life: the past, present, and future life. Legend has it that there's a road called Yellow Spring Road, which leads to Fogotten River. Over the river there's a bridge called Helpless Bridge (Naihe Bridge), at one end of the bridge sits a crimson stone called Three-life Stone. When two people die, they take this route to reincarnation. if they carve their name on the Three-life Stone together while they pass the stone, they are to be predestined to be together in their future life. Although before their rebirth they will be given a MengPo Soup to drink and thereby their memory of past life are obliterated. In reality, San-Sheng Shi (三生石), or Three-Life Stone is located beside Flying Mountain near the West Lake, Hangzhou. On the stone, there is seal with three Chinese characters that say "The Three-life Stone," and a

The Fox and The Tiger

ONE day a fox encountered a tiger. The tiger showed his fangs and waved his claws and wanted to eat him up. But the fox said: 'Good sir, you must not think that you alone are the king of beasts. Your courage is no match for mine. Let us go together and you keep behind me. If the humans are not afraid of me when they see me, then you may eat me up.' The tiger agreed and so the fox led him to a big high-way. As soon as the travellers saw the tiger in the distance they were seized with fear and ran away. Then the said: 'You see? I was walking in front; they saw me before they could See you.' Then the tiger put his tail between his legs and ran away. The tiger had seen that the humans were afraid of the fox but he had not realized that the fox had merely borrowed his own terrible appearance. [This story was translated by Ewald Osers from German, published by George Bell & Sons, in the book 'Chinese Folktales'.  Osers noted that this story was