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Taoist Miracles.

AT Chinan Fu there lived a certain priest: I cannot say whence he came, or what was his name. Winter and summer alike he wore but one unlined robe, and a yellow girdle about his waist, with neither shirt nor trousers. He combed his hair with a broken comb, holding the ends in his mouth, like the strings of a hat. By day he wandered about the marketplace; at night he slept in the street, and to a distance of several feet round where he lay, the ice and snow would melt. When he first arrived at Chinan he used to perform miracles, and the people vied with each other in making him presents. One day a disreputable young fellow gave him a quantity of wine, and begged him in return to divulge the secret of his power; and when the priest refused, the young man watched him get into the river to bathe, and then ran off with his clothes. The priest called out to him to bring them back, promising that he would do as the young man required; but the latter, distrusting the priest’s good faith, refused to do so; whereupon the priest’s girdle was forthwith changed into a snake, several spans in circumference, which coiled itself round its master’s head, and glared and hissed terribly. The young man now fell on his knees, and humbly prayed the priest to save his life; at which the priest put his girdle on again, and a snake that had appeared to be his girdle, wriggled away and disappeared. The priest’s fame was thus firmly established, and the gentry and officials of the place were constantly inviting him to join them in their festive parties. By-and-by the priest said he was going to invite his entertainers to a return feast; and at the appointed time each one of them found on his table a formal invitation to a banquet at the Water Pavilion, but no one knew who had brought the letters. However, they all went, and were met at the door by the priest, in his usual garb; and when they got inside, the place was all desolate and bare, with no banquet ready. “I’m afraid I shall be obliged to ask you gentlemen to let me use your attendants,” said the priest to his guests; “I am a poor man, and keep no servants myself.” To this all readily consented; whereupon the priest drew a double door upon the wall, and rapped upon it with his knuckles. Somebody answered from within, and immediately the door was thrown open, and a splendid array of handsome chairs, and tables loaded with exquisite viands and costly wines, burst upon the gaze of the astonished guests. The priest bade the attendants receive all these things from the door, and bring them outside, cautioning them on no account to speak with the people inside; and thus a most luxurious entertainment was provided to the great amazement of all present.
Now this Pavilion stood upon the bank of a small lake, and every year, at the proper season, it was literally covered with lilies; but, at the time of this feast, the weather was cold, and the surface of the lake was of a smoky green colour. “It’s a pity,” said one of the guests, “that the lilies are not out”—a sentiment in which the others very cordially agreed, when suddenly a servant came running in to say that, at that moment, the lake was a perfect mass of lilies. Every one jumped up directly, and ran to look out of the window, and, lo! it was so; and in another minute the fragrant perfume of the flowers was borne towards them by the breeze. Hardly knowing what to make of this strange sight, they sent off some servants, in a boat, to gather a few of the lilies, but they soon returned emptyhanded, saying, that the flowers seemed to shift their position as fast as they rowed towards them; at which the priest laughed, and said, “These are but the lilies of your imagination, and have no real existence.” And later on, when the wine was finished, the flowers began to droop and fade; and by-and-by a breeze from the north carried off every sign of them, leaving the lake as it had been before.
A certain Taot‘ai, at Chinan, was much taken with this priest, and gave him rooms at his yamên. One day, he had some friends to dinner, and set before them some very choice old wine that he had, and of which he only brought out a small quantity at a time, not wishing to get through it too rapidly. The guests, however, liked it so much that they asked for more; upon which the Taot‘ai said, “he was very sorry, but it was all finished.” The priest smiled at this, and said, “I can give the gentlemen some, if they will oblige me by accepting it;” and immediately inserted the wine kettle in his sleeve, bringing it out again directly, and pouring out for the guests. This wine tasted exactly like the choice wine they had just been drinking, and the priest gave them all as much of it as they wanted, which made the Taot‘ai suspect that something was wrong; so, after the dinner, he went into his cellar to look at his own stock, when he found the jars closely tied down, with unbroken seals, but one and all empty. In a great rage, he caused the priest to be arrested for sorcery, and proceeded to have him bambooed; but no sooner had the bamboo touched the priest than the Taot‘ai himself felt a sting of pain, which increased at every blow; and, in a few moments, there was the priest writhing and shrieking under every cut, while the Taot‘ai was sitting in a pool of blood. Accordingly, the punishment was soon stopped, and the priest was commanded to leave Chinan, which he did, and I know not whither he went. He was subsequently seen at Nanking, dressed precisely as of old; but on being spoken to, he only smiled and made no reply.

寒月芙蕖

濟南道人者,不知何許人,亦不詳其姓氏。冬夏著一單帢衣,系黃絳,無褲襦。每用半梳梳發,即以齒銜髻,如冠狀。日赤腳行市上;夜臥街頭,離身數尺外,冰雪盡熔。初來,輒對人作幻劇,市人爭貽之。有井曲無賴子,遺以酒,求傳其術,不許。遇道人浴于河津,驟抱其衣以脅之,道人揖曰:「請以賜還,當不吝術。」無賴者恐其紿,固不肯釋。道人曰:「果不相授耶?」曰:「然。」道人默不與語,俄見黃綈化為蛇,圍可數握,繞其身六七匝,怒目昂首,吐舌相向,某大愕,長跪,色青氣促,惟言乞命。道人乃竟取絳。絳竟非蛇;另有一蛇,蜿蜒入城去。由是道人之名益著。
  縉紳家聞其異,招與游,從此往來鄉先生門。司、道俱耳其名,每宴集,必以道人從。一日,道人請于水面亭報諸憲之飲。至期,各于案頭得道人速帖,亦不知所由至。諸官赴宴所,道人傴僂出迎。既入,則空亭寂然,幾榻未設,或疑其妄。道人啟官宰曰:「貧道無僮仆,煩借諸扈從,少代奔走。」官共諾之。道人于壁上繪雙扉,以手撾之。內有應門者,振管而啟。共趨覘望,則見憧憧者往來于中,屏幔床幾,亦復都有。即有人一一傳送門外,道人命吏胥輩接列亭中,且囑勿與內人交語。兩相授受,惟顧而笑。頃刻,陳設滿亭,窮極奢麗。既而旨酒散馥,熱炙騰熏,皆自壁中傳遞而出,座客無不駭異。亭故背湖水,每六月時,荷花數十頃,一望無際。宴時方凌冬,窗外茫茫,惟有煙綠。一官偶嘆曰:「此日佳集,可惜無蓮花點綴!」眾俱唯唯。少頃,一青衣吏奔白:「荷葉滿塘矣!」一座皆驚。推窗眺矚,果見彌望菁蔥,間以菡萏。轉瞬間,萬枝千朵,一齊都開,朔風吹面,荷香沁腦。群以為異。遣吏人蕩舟采蓮,遙見吏人入花深處,少間返棹,素手來見。官詰之,吏曰:「小人乘舟去,見花在遠際,漸至北岸,又轉遙遙在南蕩中。」道人笑曰:「此幻夢之空花耳。」無何,酒闌,荷亦凋謝,北風驟起,摧折荷蓋,無復存矣。濟東觀察公甚悅之,攜歸署,日與狎玩。一日公與客飲。公故有傳家美醞,每以一斗為率,不肯供浪飲。是日客飲而甘之,固索傾釀,公堅以既盡為辭。道人笑謂客曰:「君必欲滿老饕,索之貧道而可。」客請之。道人以壺入袖中,少刻出,遍斟座上,與公所藏無異。盡歡而罷。公疑,入視酒瓻,封固宛然,瓶已罄矣。心竊愧怒,執以為妖,杖之。杖才加,公覺股暴痛,再加,臀肉欲裂。道人雖聲嘶階下,觀察已血殷座上。乃止不笞,遂令去。道人遂離濟,不知所往。后有人遇于金陵,衣裝如故,問之,笑不語。

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