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Friendship With Foxes.

A CERTAIN man had an enormous stack of straw, as big as a hill, in which his servants, taking what was daily required for use, had made quite a hole. In this hole a fox fixed his abode, and would often shew himself to the master of the house under the form of an old man. One day the latter invited the master to walk into the cave, which he at first declined, but accepted on being pressed by the fox; and when he got inside, lo! he saw a long suite of handsome apartments. They then sat down, and exquisitely perfumed tea and wine were brought; but the place was so gloomy that there was no difference between night and day. By-and-by, the entertainment being over, the guest took his leave; and on looking back the beautiful rooms and their contents had all disappeared. The old man himself was in the habit of going away in the evening and returning with the first streaks of morning; and as no one was able to follow him, the master of the house asked him one day whither he went. To this he replied that a friend invited him to take wine; and then the master begged to be allowed to accompany him, a proposal to which the old man very reluctantly consented. However, he seized the master by the arm, and away they went as though riding on the wings of the wind; and, in about the time it takes to cook a pot of millet, they reached a city, and walked into a restaurant, where there were a number of people drinking together and making a great noise. The old man led his companion to a gallery above, from which they could look down on the feasters below; and he himself went down and brought away from the tables all kinds of nice food and wine, without appearing to be seen or noticed by any of the company. After a while a man dressed in red garments came forward and laid upon the table some dishes of cumquats; and the master at once requested the old man to go down and get him some of these. “Ah,” replied the latter, “that is an upright man: I cannot approach him.” Thereupon the master said to himself, “By thus seeking the companionship of a fox, I then am deflected from the true course. Henceforth I, too, will be an upright man.” No sooner had he formed this resolution, than he suddenly lost all control over his body, and fell from the gallery down among the revellers below. These gentlemen were much astonished by his unexpected descent; and he himself, looking up, saw there was no gallery to the house, but only a large beam upon which he had been sitting. He now detailed the whole of the circumstances, and those present made up a purse for him to pay his travelling expenses; for he was at Yüt‘ai—one thousand li from home.

河間生

河間某生,場中積麥穰如丘,家人日取為薪,洞之。有狐居其中,常與主人相見,老翁也。一日,屈主人飲,拱生入洞。生難之,強而後入。入則廊舍華好。即坐,茶酒香烈。但日色蒼黃,不辨中夕。筵罷既出,景物俱杳。翁每夜往夙歸,人莫能跡,問之,則言友朋招飲。生請與俱,翁不可。固請之,翁始諾。挽生臂,疾如乘風,可炊黍時,至一城市。入酒肆,見坐客良多,聚飲頗嘩。乃引生登樓上。下視飲者,几案柈飱 ,可以指數。翁自下樓,任意取案上酒果,抔來供生,筵中人曾莫之禁。移時,生視一朱衣人前列金橘,命翁取之。翁曰:「此正人,不可近。」生默念:狐與我游,必我邪也。自今以往,我必正!方一注想,覺身不自主,眩墮樓下。飲者大駭,相譁以妖。生仰視,竟非樓上,乃梁間耳。以實告眾。眾審其情確,贈而遣之。問其處,乃魚臺,去河間千里云。

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