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Singular Case Of Ophthalmia

A MR. KU, of Chiangnan, was stopping in an inn at Chih-sia, when he was attacked by a very severe inflammation of the eyes. Day and night he lay on his bed groaning, no medicines being of any avail; and when he did get a little better, his recovery was accompanied by a singular phenomenon. Every time he closed his eyes, he beheld in front of him a number of large buildings, with all their doors wide open, and people passing and repassing in the background, none of whom he recognised by sight. One day he had just sat down to have a good look, when, all of a sudden, he felt himself passing through the open doors. He went on through three courtyards without meeting any one; but, on looking into some rooms on either side, he saw a great number of young girls sitting, lying, and kneeling about on a red carpet, which was spread on the ground. Just then a man came out from behind the building, and, seeing Ku, said to him, “Ah, the Prince said there was a stranger at the door; I suppose you are the person he meant.” He then asked Ku to walk in, which the latter was at first unwilling to do; however, he yielded to the man’s instances, and accompanied him in, asking whose palace it was. His guide told him it belonged to the son of the Ninth Prince, and that he had arrived at the nick of time, for a number of friends and relatives had chosen this very day to come and congratulate the young gentleman on his recent recovery from a severe illness. Meanwhile another person had come out to hurry them on, and they soon reached a spot where there was a pavilion facing the north, with an ornamental terrace and red balustrades, supported by nine pillars. Ascending the steps, they found the place full of visitors, and then espied a young man seated with his face to the north, whom they at once knew to be the Prince’s son, and thereupon they prostrated themselves before him, the whole company rising as they did so. The young Prince made Ku sit down to the east of him, and caused wine to be served; after which some singing girls came in and performed the Hua fêng chu. They had got to about the third scene, when, all of a sudden, Ku heard the landlord of the inn and his servant shouting out to him that dinner was ready, and was dreadfully afraid that the young Prince, too, had heard. No one, however, seemed to have noticed anything, so Ku begged to be excused a moment, as he wished to change his clothes, and immediately ran out. He then looked up, and saw the sun low in the west, and his servant standing by his bedside, whereupon he knew that he had never left the inn. He was much chagrined at this, and wished to go back as fast as he could; he, therefore, dismissed his servant, and on shutting his eyes once more, he found everything just as he had left it, except that where, on the first occasion, he had observed the young girls, there were none now to be seen, but only some dishevelled humpbacked creatures, who cried out at him, and asked him what he meant by spying about there. Ku didn’t dare reply, but hurried past them as quickly as he could, and on to the pavilion of the young Prince. There he found him still sitting, but with a black beard over a foot in length; and the Prince was anxious to know where he had been, saying that seven scenes of the play were already over. He then seized a big goblet of wine, and made Ku drink it as a penalty, by which time the play was finished, and the list was handed up for a further selection. The “Marriage of P‘êng Tsu” was selected, and then the singing girls began to hand round the wine in cocoanuts big enough to hold about five quarts, which Ku declined, on the ground that he was suffering from weak eyes, and was consequently afraid to drink too much. “If your eyes are bad,” cried the young Prince, “the Court physician is at hand, and can attend to you.” Thereupon, one of the guests sitting to the east came forward, and opening Ku’s eyes with his fingers, touched them with some white ointment, which he applied from the end of a jade pin. He then bade Ku close his eyes, and take a short nap; so the Prince had him conducted into a sleeping room, where he found the bed so soft, and surrounded by such delicious perfume, that he soon fell into a deep slumber. By-and-by he was awaked by what appeared to be the clashing of cymbals, and fancied that the play was still going on; but on opening his eyes, he saw that it was only the inn dog, which was licking an oilman’s gong. His ophthalmia, however, was quite cured; and when he shut his eyes again he could see nothing.

顧生

江南顧生,客稷下,眼暴腫,晝夜呻吟,罔所醫藥。十餘日,痛少減。乃合眼時輒睹巨宅,凡四五進,門皆洞闢;最深處有人往來,但遙睹不可細認。一日,方凝神注之,忽覺身入宅中,三歷門戶,絕無人跡。有南北廳事,內以紅氈貼地。略窺之,見滿屋嬰兒,坐者、臥者、膝行者,不可數計。愕疑間,一人自舍後出,見之曰:「小王子謂有遠客在門,果然。」便邀之。顧不敢入,強之乃入。問:「此何所?」曰:「九王世子居。世子瘧疾新瘥,今日親賓作賀,先生有緣也。」言未已,有奔至者,督促速行。俄至一處,雕榭朱欄,一殿北向,凡九楹。歷階而升,則客已滿座,見一少年北面坐,知是王子,便伏堂下。滿堂盡起。王子曳顧東向坐。酒既行,鼓樂暴作,諸妓升堂,演「華封祝」。纔過三折,逆旅主人及僕喚進午餐,就床頭頻呼之。耳聞甚真,心恐王子知,遂託更衣而出。仰視日中夕,則見僕立床前,始悟未離旅邸。心欲急反,因遣僕闔扉去。甫交睫,見宮舍依然,急循故道而入。路經前嬰兒處,並無嬰兒,有數十媼蓬首駝背,坐臥其中。望見顧,出惡聲曰:「誰家無賴子,來此窺伺!」顧驚懼,不敢置辨,疾趨後庭,升殿即坐。見王子頷下添髭尺餘矣。見顧,笑問:「何往?劇本過七折矣。」因以巨觥示罰。移時曲終,又呈齣目。顧點「彭祖娶婦」。妓即以椰瓢行酒,可容五斗許。顧離席辭曰:「臣目疾,不敢過醉。」王子曰:「君患目,有太醫在此,便合診視。」東座一客,即離坐來,兩指啟雙眥,以玉簪點白膏如脂,囑合目少睡。王子命侍兒導入複室,令臥;臥片時,覺床帳香軟,因而熟眠。居無何,忽聞鳴鉦鍠聒,即復驚醒。疑是優戲未畢;開目視之,則旅舍中狗舐油鐺也。然目疾若失。再閉眼,一無所睹矣。

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