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Dishonesty Punished.

AT Chiaochou there lived a man named Liu Hsich‘uan, who was steward to His excellency Mr. Fa. When already over forty a son was born to him, whom he loved very dearly, and quite spoilt by always letting him have his own way. When the boy grew up he led a dissolute, extravagant life, and ran through all his father’s property. By-and-by he fell sick, and then he declared that nothing would cure him but a slice off a fat old favourite mule they had; upon which his father had another and more worthless animal killed; but his son found out he was being tricked, and, after abusing his father soundly, his symptoms became more and more alarming. The mule was accordingly killed, and some of it was served up to the sick man; however, he only just tasted it and sent the rest away. From that time he got gradually worse and worse, and finally died, to the great grief of his father, who would gladly have died too. Three or four years afterwards, as some of the villagers were worshipping on Mount Tai, they saw a man riding on a mule, the very image of Mr. Liu’s dead son; and, on approaching more closely, they saw that it was actually he. Jumping from his mule, he made them a salutation, and then they began to chat with him on various subjects, always carefully avoiding that one of his own death. They asked him what he was doing there; to which he replied that he was only roaming about, and inquired of them in his turn at what inn they were staying; “For,” added he, “I have an engagement just now, but I will visit you tomorrow.” So they told him the name of the inn, and took their leave, not expecting to see him again. However, the next day he came, and, tying his mule to a post outside, went in to see them. “Your father,” observed one of the villagers, “is always thinking about you. Why do you not go and pay him a visit?” The young man asked to whom he was alluding; and, at the mention of his father’s name, he changed colour and said, “If he is anxious to see me, kindly tell him that on the 7th of the 4th moon I will await him here.” He then went away, and the villagers returned and told Mr. Liu all that had taken place. At the appointed time the latter was very desirous of going to see his son; but his master dissuaded him, saying that he thought from what he knew of his son that the interview might possibly not turn out as he would desire; “Although,” added he, “if you are bent upon going, I should be sorry to stand in your way. Let me, however, counsel you to conceal yourself in a cupboard, and thus, by observing what takes place, you will know better how to act, and avoid running into any danger.” This he accordingly did, and, when his son came, Mr. Fa received him at the inn as before. “Where’s Mr. Liu?” cried the son. “Oh, he hasn’t come,” replied Mr. Fa. “The old beast! What does he mean by that?” exclaimed his son; whereupon Mr. Fa asked him what he meant by cursing his own father. “My father!” shrieked the son; “why he’s nothing more to me than a former rascally partner in trade, who cheated me out of all my money, and for which I have since avenged myself on him. What sort of a father is that, I should like to know?” He then went out of the door; and his father crept out of the cupboard from which, with the perspiration streaming down him and hardly daring to breathe, he had heard all that had passed, and sorrowfully wended his way home again.

柳氏子

膠州柳西川,法內史之主計僕也。年四十餘,生一子,溺愛甚至。縱任之,惟恐拂。既長,蕩侈踰檢,翁囊積為空。無何,子病。翁故蓄善騾。子曰:「騾肥可啗。殺啖我,我病可愈。」柳謀殺蹇劣者。子聞之,即大怒罵,疾益甚。柳懼,殺騾以進。子乃喜。然嘗一臠,便棄去。疾卒不減,尋斃。柳悼歎欲死。後三四年,村人以香社登岱。至山半,見一人乘騾駛行而來,怪似柳子。比至,果是。下騾遍揖,各道寒暄。村人共駭,亦不敢詰其死。但問:「在此何作?」答云:「亦無甚事,東西奔馳而已。」便問逆旅主人姓名,眾具告之。柳子拱手曰:「適有小故,不暇敘間闊。明日當相謁。」上騾遂去。眾既歸寓,亦謂其未必即來。厭旦伺之,子果至,繫騾廄柱,趨進笑言。眾謂:「尊大人日切思慕,何不一歸省侍?」子訝問:「言者何人?」眾以柳對。子神色俱變,久之曰:「彼既見思,請歸傳語:我於四月七日,在此相候。」言訖,別去。眾歸,以情致翁。翁大哭,如期而往,自以其故告主人。主人止之曰:「曩見公子神情冷落,似未必有嘉意。以我卜也,殆不可見。」柳涕泣不信。主人曰:「我非阻君,神鬼無常,恐遭不善。如必欲見,請伏櫝中,待其來,察其詞色,可見則出。」柳如其言。既而子果至,問:「柳某來否?」主人答云:「無。」子盛氣罵曰:「老畜產那便不來!」主人驚曰:「何罵父?」答曰:「彼是我何父!初與義為客侶,不圖包藏禍心,隱我血貲,悍不還。今願得而甘心,何父之有!」言已,出門,曰:「便宜他!」柳在櫝歷歷聞之,汗流接踵,不敢出氣。主人呼之,乃出,狼狽而歸。
  異史氏曰:「暴得多金,何如其樂?所難堪者償耳。蕩費殆盡,尚不忘於夜臺,怨毒之於人甚矣哉!」

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