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The Alchemist.

AT Ch‘angngan there lived a scholar named Chia Tzŭlung, who one day noticed a very refined looking stranger; and, on making inquiries about him, learnt that he was a Mr. Chên, who had taken lodgings hard by. Accordingly, next day Chia called and sent in his card, but did not see Chên, who happened to be out at the time. The same thing occurred thrice; and at length Chia engaged some one to watch and let him know when Mr. Chên was at home. However, even then the latter would not come forth to receive his guest, and Chia had to go in and rout him out. The two now entered into conversation, and soon became mutually charmed with each other; and by-and-by Chia sent off a servant to bring wine from a neighbouring wine shop. Mr. Chên proved himself a pleasant boon companion, and when the wine was nearly finished, he went to a box, and took from it some winecups and a large and beautiful jade tankard, into the latter of which he poured a single cup of wine, and lo! it was filled to the brim. They then proceeded to help themselves from the tankard; but however much they took out, the contents never seemed to diminish. Chia was astonished at this, and begged Mr. Chên to tell him how it was done. “Ah,” replied Mr. Chên, “I tried to avoid making your acquaintance solely because of your one bad quality—avarice. The art I practise is a secret known to the Immortals only: how can I divulge it to you?” “You do me wrong,” rejoined Chia, “in thus attributing avarice to me. The avaricious, indeed, are always poor.” Mr. Chên laughed, and they separated for that day; but from that time they were constantly together, and all ceremony was laid aside between them. Whenever Chia wanted money, Mr. Chên would bring out a black stone, and, muttering a charm, would rub it on a tile or a brick, which was forthwith changed into a lump of silver. This silver he would give to Chia, and it was always just as much as he actually required, neither more nor less; and if ever the latter asked for more, Mr. Chên would rally him on the subject of avarice. Finally, Chia determined to try and get possession of this stone; and one day, when Mr. Chên was sleeping off the fumes of a drinking bout, he tried to extract it from his clothes. However, Chên detected him at once, and declared that they could be friends no more, and next day he left the place altogether. About a year afterwards Chia was one day wandering by the riverbank, when he saw a handsome looking stone, marvellously like that in the possession of Mr. Chên; and he picked it up at once and carried it home with him. A few days passed away, and suddenly Mr. Chên presented himself at Chia’s house, and explained that the stone in question possessed the property of changing anything into gold, and had been bestowed upon him long before by a certain Taoist priest, whom he had followed as a disciple. “Alas!” added he, “I got tipsy and lost it; but divination told me where it was, and if you will now restore it to me, I shall take care to repay your kindness.” “You have divined rightly,” replied Chia; “the stone is with me; but recollect, if you please, that the indigent Kuan Chung shared the wealth of his friend Pao Shu.” At this hint Mr. Chên said he would give Chia one hundred ounces of silver; to which the latter replied that one hundred ounces was a fair offer, but that he would far sooner have Mr. Chên teach him the formula to utter when rubbing the stone on anything, so as just to try the thing once himself. Mr. Chên was afraid to do this; whereupon Chia cried out, “You are an Immortal yourself; you must know well enough that I would never deceive a friend.” So Mr. Chên was prevailed upon to teach him the formula, and then Chia would have tried the art upon the immense stone washing block which was lying near at hand, had not Mr. Chên seized his arm and begged him not to do any thing so outrageous. Chia then picked up half a brick and laid it on the washing block, saying to Mr. Chên, “This little piece is not too much, surely?” Accordingly, Mr. Chên relaxed his hold and let Chia proceed; which he did by promptly ignoring the half brick and quickly rubbing the stone on the washing block. Mr. Chên turned pale when he saw him do this, and made a dash forward to get hold of the stone; but it was too late, the washing block was already a solid mass of silver, and Chia quietly handed him back the stone. “Alas! alas!” cried Mr. Chên, in despair, “what is to be done now? For having thus irregularly conferred wealth upon a mortal, Heaven will surely punish me. Oh, if you would save me, give away one hundred coffins and one hundred suits of wadded clothes.” “My friend,” replied Chia, “my object in getting money was not to hoard it up like a miser.” Mr. Chên was delighted at this; and during the next three years Chia engaged in trade, taking care to be all the time fulfilling his promise to Mr. Chên. At the expiration of that time Mr. Chên himself reappeared, and, grasping Chia’s hand, said to him, “Trustworthy and noble friend, when we last parted the Spirit of Happiness impeached me before God, and my name was erased from the list of angels. But now that you have carried out my request, that sentence has accordingly been rescinded. Go on as you have begun, without ceasing.” Chia asked Mr. Chên what office he filled in heaven; to which the latter replied that he was only a fox, who, by a sinless life, had finally attained to that clear perception of the Truth which leads to immortality. Wine was then brought, and the two friends enjoyed themselves together as of old; and even when Chia had passed the age of ninety years, that fox still used to visit him from time to time.

真生

長安士人賈子龍,偶過鄰巷,見一客,風度灑如。問之,則真生,咸陽僦寓者也。心慕之。明日,往投刺,適值其亡;凡三謁,皆不遇。乃陰使人窺其在舍而後過之,真走避不出;賈搜之始出。促膝傾談,大相知悅。賈就逆旅,遣僮行沽。真又善飲,能雅謔,樂甚。酒欲盡,真搜篋出飲器,玉卮無當,注杯酒其中,盎然已滿;以小琖挹取入壺,並無少減。賈異之,堅求其術。真曰:「我不願相見者,君無他短,但貪心未淨耳。此乃仙家隱術,何能相授。」賈曰:「冤哉!我何貪,間萌奢想者,徒以貧耳。」一笑而散。由是往來無間,形骸盡忘。每值乏窘,真輒出黑石一塊,吹咒其上,以磨瓦礫,立刻化為白金,便以贈生;僅足所用,未嘗贏餘。賈每求益。真曰:「我言君貪,如何,如何!」賈思明告必不可得,將乘其醉睡,竊石而要之。一日,飲既臥,賈潛起,搜諸衣底。真覺之曰:「子真喪心,不可處也!」遂辭別,移居而去。後年餘,賈遊河干,見一石瑩潔,絕類真生物。拾之,珍藏若寶。過數日,真忽至,然若有所失。賈慰問之。真曰:「君前所見,乃仙人點金石也。曩從抱真子游,彼憐我介,以此相貽。醉後失去,隱卜當在君所。如有還帶之恩,不敢忘報。」賈笑曰:「僕生平不敢欺友朋,誠如所卜。但知管仲之貧者,莫如鮑叔,君且奈何?」真請以百金為贈。賈曰:「百金非少,但授我口訣,一親試之,無憾矣。」真恐其寡信。賈曰:「君自仙人,豈不知賈某寧失信於朋友者哉!」直授其訣。賈顧砌上有巨石,將試之。真掣其肘,不聽前。賈乃俯掬半磚,置砧上曰:「若此者,非多耶?」真乃聽之。賈不磨磚而磨砧;真變色欲與爭,而砧已化為渾金。反石於真。真嘆曰:「業如此,復何言。然妄以福祿加人,必遭天譴。如逭我罪,施材百具、絮衣百領,肯之乎?」賈曰:「僕所以欲得錢者,原非欲窖藏之也。君尚視我為守錢鹵耶?」真喜而去。賈得金,且施且賈;不三年,施數已滿。真忽至,握手曰:「君信義人也!別後被福神奏帝,削去仙籍;蒙君博施,今以功德消罪。愿勉之,勿替也。」賈問真係天上何曹。曰:「我乃有道之狐耳。出身綦微。不堪孽累,故生平自愛,一毫不敢妄作。」賈為設酒,遂與懽飲如初。賈至九十餘,狐猶時至其家。
  長山某,賣解信藥,即垂危,灌之無不活;然祕其方,即戚好不傳也。一日,以株累被逮。妻弟餉食獄中,隱置信焉。坐待食已而後告之。不信。少頃,腹中潰動,始大驚,罵曰:「畜產速行!家中雖有藥末,恐道遠難俟;急於城中物色薜荔為為末,清水一琖,速將來!」妻弟如其教。迨覓至,某已嘔瀉欲死,急投之,立刻而安。其方自此逐傳。此亦猶狐之祕其石也。

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