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A Supernatural Wife.

A CERTAIN Mr. Chao, of Ch‘angshan, lodged in a family of the name of T‘ai. He was very badly off, and, falling sick, was brought almost to death’s door. One day they moved him into the verandah, that it might be cooler for him; and, when he awoke from a nap, lo! a beautiful girl was standing by his side. “I am come to be your wife,” said the girl, in answer to his question as to who she was; to which he replied that a poor fellow like himself did not look for such luck as that; adding that, being then on his deathbed, he would not have much occasion for the services of a wife. The girl said she could cure him; but he told her he very much doubted that; “And even,” continued he, “should you have any good prescription, I have not the means of getting it made up.” “I don’t want medicine to cure you with,” rejoined the girl, proceeding at once to rub his back and sides with her hand, which seemed to him like a ball of fire. He soon began to feel much better, and asked the young lady what her name was, in order, as he said, that he might remember her in his prayers. “I am a spirit,” replied she; “and you, when alive under the Han dynasty as Ch‘u Suiliang, were a benefactor of my family. Your kindness being engraven on my heart, I have at length succeeded in my search for you, and am able in some measure to requite you.” Chao was dreadfully ashamed of his poverty-stricken state, and afraid that his dirty room would spoil the young lady’s dress; but she made him show her in, and accordingly he took her into his apartment, where there were neither chairs to sit upon, nor signs of anything to eat, saying, “You might, indeed, be able to put up with all this; but you see my larder is empty, and I have absolutely no means of supporting a wife.” “Don’t be alarmed about that,” cried she; and in another moment he saw a couch covered with costly robes, the walls papered with a silver flecked paper, and chairs and tables appear, the latter laden with all kinds of wine and exquisite viands. They then began to enjoy themselves, and lived together as husband and wife, many people coming to witness these strange things, and being all cordially received by the young lady, who in her turn always accompanied Mr. Chao when he went out to dinner anywhere. One day there was an unprincipled young graduate among the company, which she seemed immediately to become aware of; and, after calling him several bad names, she struck him on the side of the head, causing his head to fly out of the window while his body remained inside; and there he was, stuck fast, unable to move either way, until the others interceded for him and he was released. After some time visitors became too numerous, and if she refused to see them they turned their anger against her husband. At length, as they were sitting together drinking with some friends at the Tuanyang festival, a white rabbit ran in, whereupon the girl jumped up and said, “The doctor has come for me;” then, turning to the rabbit, she added, “You go on: I’ll follow you.” So the rabbit went away, and then she ordered them to get a ladder and place it against a high tree in the back yard, the top of the ladder overtopping the tree. The young lady went up first and Chao close behind her; after which she called out to anybody who wished to join them to make haste up. None ventured to do so with the exception of a serving boy belonging to the house, who followed after Chao; and thus they went up, up, up, up, until they disappeared in the clouds and were seen no more. However, when the bystanders came to look at the ladder, they found it was only an old door frame with the panels knocked out; and when they went into Mr. Chao’s room, it was the same old, dirty, unfurnished room as before. So they determined to find out all about it from the serving boy when he came back; but this he never did.

褚遂良

長山趙某,稅屋大姓。病癥結,又孤貧,奄然就斃。一日,力疾就涼,移臥簷下。既醒,見絕代麗人坐其傍。因詰問之。女曰:「我特來為汝作婦。」某驚曰:「無論貧人不敢有妄想;且奄奄一息,有婦何為!」女曰:「我能治之。」某曰:「我病非倉猝可除;縱有良方,其如無貲買藥何!」女曰:「我醫疾不用藥也。」遂以手按趙腹,力摩之。覺其掌熱如火。移時,腹中痞塊,隱隱作解拆聲。又少時,欲登廁。急起,走數武,解衣大下,膠液流離,結塊盡出,覺通體爽快。返臥故處,謂女曰:「娘子何人?祈告姓氏,以便尸祝。」答云:「我狐仙也。君乃唐朝褚遂良,曾有恩於妾家,每銘心欲一圖報。日相尋覓,今始得見,夙願可酬矣。」某自慚形穢,又慮茅屋灶煤,玷染華裳。女但請行。趙乃導入家,土莝無席,灶冷無煙,曰:「無論光景如此,不堪相辱;即卿能甘之,請視甕底空空,又何以養妻子?」女但言:「無慮。」言次,一回頭,見榻上氈席衾褥已設;方將致詰,又轉瞬,見滿室皆銀光紙裱貼如鏡,諸物已悉變易,几案精潔,肴酒並陳矣。遂相歡飲。日暮,與同狎寢,如夫婦。主人聞其異,請一見之,女即出見。無難色。由此四方傳播,造門者甚夥。女並不拒絕。或設筵招之,女必與夫俱。一日,座中一孝廉,陰萌淫念。女已知之,忽加誚讓。即以手推其首;首過櫺外,而身猶在室,出入轉側,皆所不能。因共哀免,方曳出之。積年餘,造請者日益煩,女頗厭之。被拒者輒罵趙。值端陽,飲酒高會,忽一白兔躍入。女起曰:「春藥翁來見召矣!」謂兔曰:「請先行。」兔趨出,逕去。女命趙取梯。趙於舍後負長梯來,高數丈。庭有大樹一章,便倚其上;梯更高於樹杪。女先登,趙亦隨之。女回首曰:「親賓有願從者,當即移步。」眾相視不敢登。惟主人一僮,踴躍從其後。上上益高,梯盡雲接,不可見矣。共視其梯,則多年破扉,去其白板耳。群入其室,灰壁敗灶依然,他無一物。猶意僮返可問,竟終杳已。

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