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Dreaming Honours.

WANG TZŬNGAN was a Tungch‘ang man, and a scholar of some repute, but unfortunate at the public examinations. On one occasion, after having been up for his master’s degree, his anxiety was very great; and when the time for the publication of the list drew near, he drank himself gloriously tipsy, and went and lay down on the bed. In a few moments a man rushed in, and cried out, “Sir! you have passed!” whereupon Wang jumped up, and said, “Give him ten strings of cash.” Wang’s wife, seeing he was drunk, and wishing to keep him quiet, replied, “You go on sleeping: I’ve given him the money.” So Wang lay down again, but before long in came another man who informed Wang that his name was among the successful candidates for the highest degree. “Why, I haven’t been up for it yet;” said Wang, “how can I have passed?” “What! you don’t mean to say you have forgotten the examination?” answered the man; and then Wang got up once more, and gave orders to present the informant with ten strings of cash. “All right,” replied his wife; “you go on sleeping: I’ve given him the money.” Another short interval, and in burst a third messenger to say that Wang had been elected a member of the National Academy, and that two official servants had come to escort him thither. Sure enough there were the two servants bowing at the bedside, and accordingly Wang directed that they should be served with wine and meat, which his wife, smiling at his drunken nonsense, declared had been already done. Wang now bethought him that he should go out and receive the congratulations of the neighbours, and roared out several times to his official servants; but without receiving any answer. “Go to sleep,” said his wife, “and wait till I have fetched them;” and after a while the servants actually came in; whereupon Wang stamped and swore at them for being such idiots as to go away. “What! you wretched scoundrel,” cried the servants, “are you cursing us in earnest, when we are only joking with you!” At this Wang’s rage knew no bounds, and he set upon the men, and gave them a sound beating, knocking the hat of one off on to the ground. In the mêlée, he himself tumbled over, and his wife ran in to pick him up, saying, “Shame upon you, for getting so drunk as this!” “I was only punishing the servants as they deserved,” replied Wang; “why do you call me drunk?” “Do you mean the old woman who cooks our rice and boils the water for your footbath,” asked his wife, smiling, “that you talk of servants to wait upon your poverty-stricken carcase?” At this sally all the women burst out in a roar of laughter; and Wang, who was just beginning to get sober, waked up as if from a dream, and knew that there was no reality in all that had taken place. However, he recollected the spot where the servant’s hat had fallen off, and on going thither to look for it, lo! he beheld a tiny official hat, no larger than a winecup, lying there behind the door. They were all much astonished at this, and Wang himself cried out, “Formerly people were thus tricked by devils; and now foxes are playing the fool with me!”

王子安

王子安,東昌名士,困於場屋。入闈後,期望甚切。近放榜時,痛飲大醉,歸臥內室。忽有人白:「報馬來。」王踉蹌起曰:「賞錢十千!」家人因其醉,誑而安之曰:「但請睡,已賞矣。」王乃眠。俄又有入者曰:「汝中進士矣!」王自言:「尚未赴都,何得及第?」其人曰:「汝忘之耶?三場畢矣。」王大喜,起而呼曰:「賞錢十千!」家人又誑之如前。又移時,一人急入曰「汝殿試翰林,長班在此。」果見二人拜床下,衣冠修潔。王呼賜酒食,家人又紿之,暗笑其醉而已。久之,王自念不可不出耀鄉里。大呼長班,凡數十呼,無應者。家人笑曰:「暫臥候,尋他去。」又久之,長班果復來。王搥床頓足,大罵:「鈍奴焉往!」長班怒曰:「措大無賴!向與爾戲耳,而真罵耶?」王怒,驟起撲之,落其帽。王亦傾跌。妻入,扶之曰:「何醉至此!」王曰:「長班可惡,我故懲之,何醉也?」妻笑曰:「家中止有一媼,晝為汝炊,夜為汝溫足耳。何處長班,伺汝窮骨?」子女皆笑。王醉亦稍解,忽如夢醒,始知前此之妄。然猶記長班帽落;尋至門後,得一纓帽如盞大,共疑之。自笑曰:「昔人為鬼揶揄,吾今為狐奚落矣。」
  異史氏曰:「秀才入闈,有七似焉:初入時,白足提籃,似丐。唱名時,官呵隸罵,似囚。其歸號舍也,孔孔伸頭,房房露腳,似秋末之冷蜂。其出場也,神情惝怳,天地異色,似出籠之病鳥。迨望報也,草木皆驚,夢想亦幻。時作一得志想,則頃刻而樓閣俱成;作一失志想,則瞬息而骸骨已朽。此際行坐難安,則似被縶之猱。忽然而飛騎傳人,報條無我,此時神色猝變,嗒然若死,則似餌毒之蠅,弄之亦不覺也。初失志,心灰意敗,大罵司衡無目,筆墨無靈,勢必舉案頭物而盡炬之;炬之不已,而碎踏之;踏之不已,而投之濁流。從此披髮入山,面向石壁,再有以且夫、嘗謂之文進我者,定當操戈逐之。無何,日漸遠,氣漸平,技又漸癢;遂似破卵之鳩,只得啣木營巢,從新另抱矣。如此情況,當局者痛哭欲死;而自旁觀者視之,其可笑孰甚焉。王子安方寸之中,頃刻萬緒,想鬼狐竊笑已久,故乘其醉而玩弄之。床頭人醒,寧不啞然失笑哉?顧得志之況味,不過須臾;詞林諸公,不過經兩三須臾耳,子安一朝而盡嘗之,則狐之恩與薦師等。」

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