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The Great Test.

BEFORE Mr. Yang Tahung was known to fame, he had already acquired some reputation as a scholar in his own part of the country, and felt convinced himself that his was to be no mean destiny. When the list of successful candidates at the examination was brought to where he lived, he was in the middle of dinner, and rushed out with his mouth full to ask if his name was there or not; and on hearing that it was not, he experienced such a revulsion of feeling that what he then swallowed stuck fast like a lump in his chest and made him very ill. His friends tried to appease him by advising him to try at the further examination of the rejected, and when he urged that he had no money, they subscribed ten ounces of silver and started him on his way.

That night he dreamt that a man appeared to him and said, “Ahead of you there is one who can cure your complaint: beseech him to aid you.” The man then added—

“A tune on the flute ’neath the riverside willow:
Oh, show no regret when ’tis cast to the billow!”

Next day, Mr. Yang actually met a Taoist priest sitting beneath a willow tree; and, making him a bow, asked him to prescribe for his malady. “You have come to the wrong person,” replied the priest, smiling; “I cannot cure diseases; but had you asked me for a tune on the flute, I could have possibly helped you.” Then Mr. Yang knew that his dream was being fulfilled; and going down on his knees offered the priest all the money he had. The priest took it, but immediately threw it into the river, at which Mr. Yang, thinking how hardly he had come by this money, was moved to express his regret. “Aha!” cried the priest at this; “so you are not indifferent, eh? You’ll find your money all safe on the bank.” There indeed Mr. Yang found it, at which he was so much astonished that he addressed the priest as though he had been an angel. “I am no angel,” said the priest, “but here comes one;” whereupon Mr. Yang looked behind him, and the priest seized the opportunity to give him a slap on the back, crying out at the same time, “You worldly minded fellow!” This blow brought up the lump of food that had stuck in his chest, and he felt better at once; but when he looked round the priest had disappeared.

楊大洪

大洪楊先生漣,微時為楚名儒,自命不凡。科試後,聞報優等者,時方食,含哺出問:「有楊某否?」答云:「無。」不覺嗒然自喪,嚥食入鬲,遂成病塊,噎阻甚苦。眾勸令錄遺才;公患無貲,眾醵十金送之行,乃強就道。夜夢人告之云:「前途有人能愈君疾,宜苦求之。」臨去,贈以詩,有「江邊柳下三弄笛,拋向江心莫歎息」之句。明日途次,果見道士坐柳下,因便叩請。道士笑曰:「子悞矣,我何能療病?請為三弄可也。」因出笛吹之。公觸所夢,拜求益切,且傾囊獻之。道士接金,擲諸江流。公以所來不易,啞然驚惜。道士曰:「君未能恝然耶?金在江邊,請自取之。」公詣視果然。又益奇之,呼為仙。道士漫指曰:「我非仙,彼處仙人來矣。」賺公回顧,力拍其項曰:「俗哉!」公受拍,張吻作聲,喉中嘔出一物,墮地堛然,俯而破之,赤絲中裹飯猶存,病若失。回視道士已杳。
  異史氏曰:「公生為河嶽,沒為日星,何必長生乃為不死哉!或以未能免俗,不作天仙,因而為公悼惜;余謂天上多一仙人,不如世上多一聖賢,解者必不議予說之傎也。」

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