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A Rip Van Winkle.

[THE story runs that a Mr. Chia, after obtaining, with the assistance of a mysterious friend, his master’s degree, became alive to the vanity of mere earthly honours, and determined to devote himself to the practice of Taoism, in the hope of obtaining the elixir of immortality.]
So early one morning Chia and his friend, whose name was Lang, stole away together, without letting Chia’s family know anything about it; and by-and-by they found themselves among the hills, in a vast cave where there was another world and another sky. An old man was sitting there in great state, and Lang presented Chia to him as his future master. “Why have you come so soon?” asked the old man; to which Lang replied, “My friend’s determination is firmly fixed: I pray you receive him amongst you.” “Since you have come,” said the old man, turning to Chia, “you must begin by putting away from you your earthly body.” Chia murmured his assent, and was then escorted by Lang to sleeping chamber where he was provided with food, after which Lang went away. The room was beautifully clean: the doors had no panels and the windows no lattices; and all the furniture was one table and one couch. Chia took off his shoes and lay down, with the moon shining brightly into the room; and beginning soon to feel hungry, he tried one of the cakes on the table, which he found sweet and very satisfying. He thought Lang would be sure to come back, but there he remained hour after hour by himself, never hearing a sound. He noticed, however, that the room was fragrant with a delicious perfume; his viscera seemed to be removed from his body, by which his intellectual faculties were much increased; and every one of his veins and arteries could be easily counted. Then suddenly he heard a sound like that of a cat scratching itself; and, looking out of the window, he beheld a tiger sitting under the verandah. He was horribly frightened for the moment, but immediately recalling the admonition of the old man, he collected himself and sat quietly down again. The tiger seemed to know that there was a man inside, for it entered the room directly afterwards, and walking straight up to the couch sniffed at Chia’s feet. Whereupon there was a noise outside, as if a fowl were having its legs tied, and the tiger ran away. Shortly afterwards a beautiful young girl came in, suffusing an exquisite fragrance around; and going up to the couch where Chia was, she bent over him and whispered, “Here I am.” Her breath was like the sweet odour of perfumes; but as Chia did not move, she whispered again, “Are you sleeping?” The voice sounded to Chia remarkably like that of his wife; however, he reflected that these were all probably nothing more than tests of his determination, so he closed his eyes firmly for a while. But by-and-by the young lady called him by his pet name, and then he opened his eyes wide to discover that she was no other than his own wife. On asking her how she had come there, she replied that Mr. Lang was afraid her husband would be lonely, and had sent an old woman to guide her to him. Just then they heard the old man outside in a towering rage, and Chia’s wife, not knowing where to conceal herself, jumped over a low wall near by and disappeared. In came the old man, and gave Lang a severe beating before Chia’s face, bidding him at once to get rid of his visitor; so Lang led Chia away over the low wall, saying, “I knew how anxious you were to consummate your immortality, and accordingly I tried to hurry things on a bit; but now I see that your time has not yet come: hence this beating I have had. Goodbye: we shall meet again some day.” He then shewed Chia the way to his home, and waving his hand bade him farewell. Chia looked down—for he was in the moon—and beheld the old familiar village and recollecting that his wife was not a good walker and would not have got very far, hurried on to overtake her. Before long he was at his own door, but he noticed that the place was all tumbledown and in ruins, and not as it was when he went away. As for the people he saw, old and young alike, he did not recognise one of them; and recollecting the story of how Liu and Yüan came back from heaven, he was afraid to go in at the door. So he sat down and rested outside; and after a while an old man leaning on a staff came out, whereupon Chia asked him which was the house of Mr. Chia. “This is it,” replied the old man; “you probably wish to hear the extraordinary story connected with the family? I know all about it. They say that Mr. Chia ran away just after he had taken his master’s degree, when his son was only seven or eight years old; and that about seven years afterwards the child’s mother went into a deep sleep from which she did not awake. As long as her son was alive he changed his mother’s clothes for her according to the seasons, but when he died, her grandsons fell into poverty, and had nothing but an old shanty to put the sleeping lady into. Last month she awaked, having been asleep for over a hundred years. People from far and near have been coming in great numbers to hear the strange story; of late, however, there have been rather fewer.” Chia was amazed when he heard all this, and, turning to the old man, said, “I am Chia Fêngchih.” This astonished the old man very much, and off he went to make the announcement to Chia’s family. The eldest grandson was dead; and the second, a man of about fifty, refused to believe that such a young-looking man was really his grandfather; but in a few moments out came Chia’s wife, and she recognised her husband at once. They then fell upon each other’s necks and mingled their tears together.
[After which the story is drawn out to a considerable length, but is quite devoid of interest.]

賈奉雉

賈奉雉,平涼人。才名冠一時,而試輒不售。一日,途中遇一秀才,自言郎姓,風格灑然,談言微中。因邀俱歸,出課藝就正。郎讀罷,不甚稱許,曰:「足下文,小試取第一則有餘,闈場取榜尾則不足。」賈曰:「奈何?」郎曰:「天下事,仰而跂之則難,俯而就之甚易,此何須鄙人言哉!」遂指一二人、一二篇以為標準,大率賈所鄙棄而不屑道者。聞之,笑曰:「學者立言,貴乎不朽,即味列八珍,當使天下不以為泰耳。如此獵取功名,雖登臺閣,猶為賤也。」郎曰:「不然。文章雖美,賤則弗傳。君欲抱卷以終也則已;不然,簾內諸官,皆以此等物事進身,恐不能因閱君文,另換一副眼睛肺腸也。」賈終嘿然。郎起而笑曰:「少年盛氣哉!」遂別而去。是秋入闈復落,邑邑不得志,頗思郎言,遂取前所指示者強讀之。未至終篇,昏昏欲睡,心惶惑無以自主。又三年,闈場將近,郎忽至,相見甚懽。因出所擬七題,使賈作文。越日,索文而閱,不以為可,又令復作;作已,又訾之。賈戲於落卷中,集其冗泛濫,不可告人之句,連綴成文,俟其來而示之。郎喜曰:「得之矣!」因使熟記,堅囑勿忘。賈笑曰:「實相告:此言不由中,轉瞬即去,便受夏楚,不能復憶之也。」郎坐案頭,強令自誦一過;因使袒背,以筆寫符而去,曰:「只此已足,可以束閣群書矣。」驗其符,濯之不下,深入肌理。至場中,七題無一遺者。回思諸作,茫不記憶,惟戲綴之文,歷歷在心。然把筆終以為羞;欲少竄易,而顛倒苦思,竟不能復更一字。日已西墜,直錄而出。郎候之已久,問:「何暮也?」賈以實告,即求拭符;視之,已漫滅矣。再憶場中文,遂如隔世。大奇之。因問:「何不自謀?」笑曰:「某惟不作此等想,故能不讀此等文也。」遂約明日過諸其寓。賈諾之。郎既去,賈取文稿自閱之,大非本懷,怏怏不自得,不復訪郎,嗒喪而歸。未幾,榜發,竟中經魁。閱舊稿,一讀一汗。讀竟,重衣盡溼。自言曰:「此文一出,何以見天下士矣!」方慚怍間,郎忽至曰:「求中即中矣,何其悶也?」曰:「僕適自念,以金盆玉椀貯狗矢,真無顏出見同人。行將遁跡山丘,與世長絕矣。」郎曰:「此亦大高,但恐不能耳。果能之,僕引見一人,長生可得,並千載之名,亦不足戀,況儻來之富貴乎!」賈悅,留與共宿,曰:「容某思之。」天明,謂郎曰:「予志決矣!」不告妻子,飄然遂去。漸入深山,至一洞府,其中別有天地。有叟坐堂上,郎使參之,呼以師。叟曰:「來何早也?」郎白:「此人道念已堅,望加收齒。」叟曰:「汝既來,須將此身並置度外,始得。」賈唯唯聽命。郎送至一院,安其寢處,又投以餌,始去。」房亦精潔;但戶無扉,窗無櫺,內惟一几一榻。賈解履登榻,月明穿射矣。覺微飢,取餌啖之,甘而易飽。竊意郎當復來,坐久寂然,杳無聲響。但覺清香滿室,臟腑空明,脈絡皆可指數。忽聞有聲甚厲,似貓抓癢,自牖睨之,則虎蹲檐下。乍見,甚驚;因憶師言,即復收神凝坐。虎似知其有人,尋入近榻,氣咻咻,遍嗅足股。少頃,聞庭中嗥動,如雞受縛,虎即趨出。又坐少時,一美人入,蘭麝撲人,悄然登榻,附耳小言曰:「我來矣。」一言之間,口脂散馥。賈瞑然不少動。又低聲曰:「睡乎?」聲音頗類其妻,心微動。又念曰:「此皆師相試之幻術也。」瞑如故。美人笑曰:「鼠子動矣!」初,夫妻與婢同室,押褻惟恐婢聞,私約一謎曰:「鼠子動,則相歡好。」忽聞是語,不覺大動,開目凝視,真其妻也。問:「何能來?」答云:「郎生恐君岑寂思歸,遣一嫗導我來。」言次,因賈出門不相告語,偎傍之際,頗有怨懟。賈慰藉良久,始得嬉笑為歡。既畢,夜已向晨,聞叟譙訶聲,漸近庭院。妻急起,無地自匿,遂越短牆而去。俄頃,郎從叟入。叟對賈杖郎,便令逐客。郎亦引賈自短牆出,曰:「僕望君奢,不免躁進;不圖情緣未斷,累受扑責。從此暫去,相見行有日也。」指示歸途,拱手遂別。賈俯視故村,故在目中。意妻弱步,必滯途間。疾趨里餘,已至家門,但見房垣零落,舊景全非,村中老幼,竟無一相識者,心始駭異。忽念劉、阮返自天台,情景真似。不敢入門,於對戶憩坐。良久,有老翁曳杖出。賈揖之,問:「賈某家何所?」翁指其第曰:「此即是也。得無欲聞奇事耶?僕悉知之。相傳此公聞捷即遁;遁時,其子纔七八歲。後至十四五歲,母忽大睡不醒。子在時,寒暑為之易衣;迨歿,兩孫窮踧,房舍拆毀,惟以木架苫覆蔽之。月前,夫人忽醒,屈指百餘年矣。遠近聞其異,皆來訪視,近日稍稀矣。」賈豁然頓悟,曰:「翁不知賈奉雉即某是也。」翁大駭,走報其家。時長孫已死;次孫祥,至五十餘矣。以賈年少,疑有詐偽。少間,夫人出,始識之。雙涕霪霪,呼與俱去。苦無屋宇,暫入孫舍。大小男婦,奔入盈側,皆其曾、玄,率陋劣少文。長孫婦吳氏,沽酒具藜藿;又使少子杲及婦,與己共室,除舍舍祖翁姑。賈入舍,煙埃兒溺,雜氣熏人。居數日,懊惋殊不可耐。兩孫家分供餐飲,調飪尤乖。里中以賈新歸,日日招飲;而夫人恆不得一飽。吳氏故士人女,頗嫻閨訓,承順不衰。祥家給奉漸疏,或嘑爾與之。賈怒,攜夫人去,設帳東里。每謂夫人曰:「吾甚悔此一返,而已無及矣。不得已,復理舊業,若心無愧恥,富貴不難致也。」居年餘,吳氏猶時餽餉,而祥父子絕跡矣。是歲,試入邑庠。邑令重其文,厚贈之,由此家稍裕。祥稍稍來近就之。賈喚入,計曩所耗費,出金償之,斥絕令去。遂買新第,移吳氏共居之。吳二子,長者留守舊業;次杲頗慧,使與門人輩共筆硯。賈自山中歸,心思益明澈。無何,連捷登進士第。又數年,以侍御出巡兩浙,聲名赫奕,歌舞樓臺,一時稱盛。賈為人骾峭,不避權貴,朝中大僚,思中傷之。賈屢疏恬退,未蒙俞旨,未幾而禍作矣。先是,祥六子皆無賴,賈雖擯斥不齒,然皆竊餘勢以作威福,橫占田宅,鄉人共患之。有某乙娶新婦,祥次子篡取為妾。乙故狙詐,鄉人斂金助訟,以此聞於都。於是當道者交章攻賈。賈殊無以自剖,被收經年。祥及次子皆瘐死。賈奉旨充遼陽軍。時杲入泮已久,為人頗仁厚,有賢聲。夫人生一子,年十六,遂以囑杲,夫妻攜一僕一媼而去。賈曰:「十餘年富貴,曾不如一夢之久。今始知榮華之場,皆地獄境界,悔比劉晨、阮肇,多造一重孽案耳。」數日,抵海岸,遙見巨舟來,鼓樂殷作,虞候皆如天神。既近,舟中一人出,笑請侍御過舟少憩。賈見驚喜,踴身而過,押隸不敢禁。夫人急欲相從,而相去已遠,遂憤投海中。漂泊數步,見一人垂練於水,引救而去。隸命篙師盪舟,且追且號,但聞鼓聲如雷,與轟濤相間,瞬間遂杳。僕識其人,蓋郎生也。
  異史氏曰:「世傳陳大士在闈中,書藝既成,吟誦數四,歎曰:『亦復誰人識得!』遂棄而更作,以故闈墨不及諸稿。賈生羞而遁去,此處有仙骨乃再返人世,遂以口腹自貶,貧賤之中人甚矣哉!」

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