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The Lo-Ch‘a Country and the Sea-Market.

ONCE upon a time there was a young man, named Ma Chün, who was also known as Lung-mei. He was the son of a trader, and a youth of surpassing beauty. His manners were courteous, and he loved nothing better than singing and playing. He used to associate with actors, and with an embroidered handkerchief round his head the effect was that of a beautiful woman. Hence he acquired the sobriquet of the Beauty. At fourteen years of age he graduated and began to make a name for himself; but his father, who was growing old and wished to retire from business, said to him, “My boy, book-learning will never fill your belly or put a coat on your back; you had much better stick to the old thing.” Accordingly, Ma from that time occupied himself with scales and weights, with principle and interest, and such matters.

He made a voyage across the sea, and was carried away by a typhoon. After being tossed about for many days and nights he arrived at a country where the people were hideously ugly. When these people saw Ma they thought he was a devil and all ran screeching away. Ma was somewhat alarmed at this, but finding that it was they who were frightened at him, he quickly turned their fear to his own advantage. If he came across people eating and drinking he would rush upon them, and when they fled away for fear, he would regale himself upon what they had left. By-and-by he went to a village among the hills, and there the people had at any rate some facial resemblance to ordinary men. But they were all in rags and tatters like beggars. So Ma sat down to rest under a tree, and the villagers, not daring to come near him, contented themselves with looking at him from a distance. They soon found, however, that he did not want to eat them, and by degrees approached a little closer to him. Ma, smiling, began to talk; and although their language was different, yet he was able to make himself tolerably intelligible, and told them whence he had come. The villagers were much pleased, and spread the news that the stranger was not a man-eater. Nevertheless, the very ugliest of all would only take a look and be off again; they would not come near him. Those who did go up to him were not very much unlike his own countrymen, the Chinese. They brought him plenty of food and wine. Ma asked them what they were afraid of. They replied, “We had heard from our forefathers that 26,000 li to the west there is a country called China. We had heard that the people of that land were the most extraordinary in appearance you can possibly imagine. Hitherto it has been hearsay; we can now believe it.” He then asked them how it was they were so poor. They answered, “You see, in our country everything depends, not on literary talent, but on beauty. The most beautiful are made ministers of state; the next handsomest are made judges and magistrates; and the third class in looks are employed in the palace of the king. Thus these are enabled out of their pay to provide for their wives and families. But we, from our very birth, are regarded by our parents as inauspicious, and are left to perish, some of us being occasionally preserved by more humane parents to prevent the extinction of the family.” Ma asked the name of their country, and they told him it was Lo-ch‘a. Also that the capital city was some 30 li to the north. He begged them to take him there, and next day at cock-crow he started thither wards in their company, arriving just about dawn. The walls of the city were made of black stone, as black as ink, and the city gate-houses were about 100 feet high. Red stones were used for tiles, and picking up a broken piece Ma found that it marked his finger-nail like vermilion. They arrived just when the Court was rising, and saw all the equipages of the officials. The village people pointed out one who they said was Prime Minister. His ears drooped forward in flaps; he had three nostrils, and his eye-lashes were just like bamboo screens hanging in front of his eyes. Then several came out on horseback, and they said these were the privy councillors. So they went on, telling him the rank of all the ugly uncouth fellows he saw. The lower they got down in the official scale the less hideous the officials were. By-and-by Ma went back, the people in the streets marvelling very much to see him, and tumbling helter-skelter one over another as if they had met a goblin. The villagers shouted out to reassure them, and then they stood at a distance to look at him. When he got back, there was not a man, woman, or child in the whole nation but knew that there was a strange man at the village; and the gentry and officials became very desirous to see him. However, if he went to any of their houses the porter always slammed the door in his face, and the master, mistress, and family, in general, would only peep at, and speak to him through the cracks. Not a single one dared receive him face to face; but, finally, the village people, at a loss what to do, be-thought themselves of a man who had been sent by a former king on official business among strange nations. “He,” said they, “having seen many kinds of men, will not be afraid of you.” So they went to his house, where they were received in a very friendly way. He seemed to be about eighty or ninety years of age; his eye-balls protruded, and his beard curled up like a hedge-hog. He said, “In my youth I was sent by the king among many nations, but I never went to China. I am now one hundred and twenty years of age, and that I should be permitted to see a native of your country is a fact which it will be my duty to report to the Throne. For ten years and more I have not been to Court, but have remained here in seclusion; yet I will now make an effort on your behalf.” Then followed a banquet, and when the wine had already circulated pretty freely, some dozen singing girls came in and sang and danced before them. The girls all wore white embroidered turbans, and long scarlet robes which trailed on the ground. The words they uttered were unintelligible, and the tunes they played perfectly hideous. The host, however, seemed to enjoy it very much, and said to Ma, “Have you music in China?” He replied that they had, and the old man asked for a specimen. Ma hummed him a tune, beating time on the table, with which he was very much pleased, declaring that his guest had the voice of a phœnix and the notes of a dragon, such as he had never heard before. The next day he presented a memorial to the Throne, and the king at once commanded Ma to appear before him. Several of the ministers, however, represented that his appearance was so hideous it might frighten His Majesty, and the king accordingly desisted from his intention. The old man returned and told Ma, being quite upset about it. They remained together some time until they had drunk themselves tipsy. Then Ma, seizing a sword, began to attitudinize, smearing his face all over with coal-dust. He acted the part of Chang Fei, at which his host was so delighted that he begged him to appear before the Prime Minister in the character of Chang Fei. Ma replied, “I don’t mind a little amateur acting, but how can I play the hypocrite for my own personal advantage?” On being pressed he consented, and the old man prepared a great feast, and asked some of the high officials to be present, telling Ma to paint himself as before. When the guests had arrived, Ma was brought out to see them; whereupon they all exclaimed, “Ai-yah! how is it he was so ugly before and is now so beautiful?” By-and-by, when they were all taking wine together, Ma began to sing them a most bewitching song, and they got so excited over it that next day they recommended him to the king. The king sent a special summons for him to appear, and asked him many questions about the government of China, to all of which Ma replied in detail, eliciting sighs of admiration from His Majesty. He was honoured with a banquet in the royal guest-pavilion, and when the king had made himself tipsy he said to him, “I hear you are a very skilful musician. Will you be good enough to let me hear you?” Ma then got up and began to attitudinize, singing a plaintive air like the girls with the turbans. The king was charmed, and at once made him a privy councillor, giving him a private banquet, and bestowing other marks of royal favour. As time went on his fellow-officials found out the secret of his painted face, and whenever he was among them they were always whispering together, besides which they avoided being near him as much as possible. Thus Ma was left to himself, and found his position anything but pleasant in consequence. So he memorialized the Throne, asking to be allowed to retire from office, but his request was refused. He then said his health was bad, and got three months’ sick leave, during which he packed up his valuables and went back to the village. The villagers on his arrival went down on their knees to him, and he distributed gold and jewels amongst his old friends. They were very glad to see him, and said, “Your kindness shall be repaid when we go to the sea-market; we will bring you some pearls and things.” Ma asked them where that was. They said it was at the bottom of the sea, where the mermaids kept their treasures, and that as many as twelve nations were accustomed to go thither to trade. Also that it was frequented by spirits, and that to get there it was necessary to pass through red vapours and great waves. “Dear Sir,” they said, “do not yourself risk this great danger, but let us take your money and purchase these rare pearls for you. The season is now at hand.” Ma asked them how they knew this. They said, “Whenever we see red birds flying backwards and forwards over the sea, we know that within seven days the market will open.” He asked when they were going to start, that he might accompany them; but they begged him not to think of doing so. He replied, “I am a sailor: how can I be afraid of wind and waves?” Very soon after this people came with merchandise to forward, and so Ma packed up and went on board the vessel that was going.

This vessel held some tens of people, was flat-bottomed with a railing all round, and, rowed by ten men, it cut through the water like an arrow. After a voyage of three days they saw afar off faint outlines of towers and minarets, and crowds of trading vessels. They soon arrived at the city, the walls of which were made of bricks as long as a man’s body, the tops of its buildings being lost in the Milky Way. Having made fast their boat they went in, and saw laid out in the market rare pearls and wondrous precious stones of dazzling beauty, such as are quite unknown amongst men. Then they saw a young man come forth riding up-on a beautiful steed. The people of the market stood back to let him pass, saying he was the third son of the king; but when the Prince saw Ma, he exclaimed, “This is no foreigner,” and immediately an attendant drew near and asked his name and country. Ma made a bow, and standing at one side told his name and family. The prince smiled, and said, “For you to have honoured our country thus is no small piece of good luck.” He then gave him a horse and begged him to follow. They went out of the city gate and down to the sea-shore, whereupon their horses plunged into the water. Ma was terribly frightened and screamed out; but the sea opened dry before them and formed a wall of water on either side. In a little time they reached the king’s palace, the beams of which were made of tortoise-shell and the tiles of fishes’ scales. The four walls were of crystal, and dazzled the eye like mirrors. They got down off their horses and went in, and Ma was introduced to the king. The young prince said, “Sire, I have been to the market, and have got a gentleman from China.” Whereupon Ma made obeisance before the king, who addressed him as follows:—“Sir, from a talented scholar like yourself I venture to ask for a few stanzas upon our sea-market. Pray do not refuse.” Ma thereupon made a kowtow and undertook the king’s command. Using an ink-slab of crystal, a brush of dragon’s beard, paper as white as snow, and ink scented like the larkspur, Ma immediately threw off some thousand odd verses, which he laid at the feet of the king. When His Majesty saw them, he said, “Sir, your genius does honour to these marine nations of ours.” Then, summoning the members of the royal family, the king gave a great feast in the Coloured Cloud pavilion; and, when the wine had circulated freely, seizing a great goblet in his hand, the king rose and said before all the guests, “It is a thousand pities, Sir, that you are not married. What say you to entering the bonds of wedlock?” Ma rose blushing, and stammered out his thanks; upon which the king looking round spoke a few words to the attendants, and in a few moments in came a bevy of court ladies supporting the king’s daughter, whose ornaments went tinkle, tinkle, as she walked along. Immediately the nuptial drums and trumpets began to sound forth, and bride and bridegroom worshipped Heaven and Earth together. Stealing a glance Ma saw that the princess was endowed with a fairy-like loveliness. When the ceremony was over she retired, and by-and-by the wine-party broke up. Then came several beautifully-dressed waiting-maids, who with painted candles escorted Ma within. The bridal couch was made of coral adorned with eight kinds of precious stones, and the curtains were thickly hung with pearls as big as acorns. Next day at dawn a crowd of young slave-girls trooped into the room to offer their services; whereupon Ma got up and went off to Court to pay his respects to the king. He was then duly received as royal son-in-law and made an officer of state. The fame of his poetical talents spread far and wide, and the kings of the various seas sent officers to congratulate him, vying with each other in their invitations to him. Ma dressed himself in gorgeous clothes, and went forth riding on a superb steed, with a mounted body-guard all splendidly armed. There were musicians on horseback and musicians in chariots, and in three days he had visited every one of the marine kingdoms, making his name known in all directions. In the palace there was a jade tree, about as big round as a man could clasp. Its roots were as clear as glass, and up the middle ran, as it were, a stick of pale yellow. The branches were the size of one’s arm; the leaves like white jade, as thick as a copper cash. The foliage was dense, and beneath its shade the ladies of the palace were wont to sit and sing. The flowers which covered the tree resembled grapes, and if a single petal fell to the earth it made a ringing sound. Taking one up, it would be found to be exactly like carved cornelian, very bright and pretty to look at. From time to time a wonderful bird came and sang there. Its feathers were of a golden hue, and its tail as long as its body. Its notes were like the tinkling of jade, very plaintive and touching to listen to. When Ma heard this bird sing, it called up in him recollections of his old home, and accordingly he said to the princess, “I have now been away from my own country for three years, separated from my father and mother. Thinking of them my tears flow and the perspiration runs down my back. Can you return with me?” His wife replied, “The way of immortals is not that of men. I am unable to do what you ask, but I cannot allow the feelings of husband and wife to break the tie of parent and child. Let us devise some plan.” When Ma heard this he wept bitterly, and the princess sighed and said, “We cannot both stay or both go.” The next day the king said to him, “I hear that you are pining after your old home. Will tomorrow suit you for taking leave?” Ma thanked the king for his great kindness, which he declared he could never forget, and promised to return very shortly. That evening the princess and Ma talked over their wine of their approaching separation. Ma said they would soon meet again; but his wife averred that their married life was at an end. Then he wept afresh, but the princess said, “Like a filial son you are going home to your parents. In the meetings and separations of this life, a hundred years seem but a single day; why, then, should we give way to tears like children? I will be true to you; do you be faithful to me; and then, though separated, we shall be united in spirit, a happy pair. Is it necessary to live side by side in order to grow old together? If you break our contract your next marriage will not be a propitious one; but if loneliness overtakes you then choose a concubine. There is one point more of which I would speak, with reference to our married life. I am about to become a mother, and I pray you give me a name for your child.” To this Ma replied, “If a girl I would have her called Lung-kung; if a boy, then name him Fu-hai.” The princess asked for some token of remembrance, and Ma gave her a pair of jade lilies that he had got during his stay in the marine kingdom. She added, “On the 8th of the 4th moon, three years hence, when you once more steer your course for this country, I will give you up your child.” She next packed a leather bag full of jewels and handed it to Ma, saying, “Take care of this; it will be a provision for many generations.” When the day began to break a splendid farewell feast was given him by the king, and Ma bade them all adieu. The princess, in a car drawn by snow-white sheep, escorted him to the boundary of the marine kingdom, where he dismounted and stepped ashore. “Farewell!” cried the princess, as her returning car bore her rapidly away, and the sea, closing over her, snatched her from her husband’s sight. Ma returned to his home across the ocean. Some had thought him long since dead and gone; all marvelled at his story. Happily his father and mother were yet alive, though his former wife had married another man; and so he understood why the princess had pledged him to constancy, for she already knew that this had taken place. His father wished him to take another wife, but he would not. He only took a concubine. Then, after the three years had passed away, he started across the sea on his return journey, when lo! he beheld, riding on the wave-crests and splashing about the water in playing, two young children. On going near, one of them seized hold of him and sprung into his arms; upon which the elder cried until he, too, was taken up. They were a boy and girl, both very lovely, and wearing embroidered caps adorned with jade lilies. On the back of one of them was a worked case, in which Ma found the following letter:—

“I presume my father and mother-in-law are well. Three years have passed away and destiny still keeps us apart. Across the great ocean, the letter-bird would find no path. I have been with you in my dreams until I am quite worn out. Does the blue sky look down upon any grief like mine? Yet Ch‘ang-ngo lives solitary in the moon, and Chih Nü laments that she cannot cross the Silver River. Who am I that I should expect happiness to be mine? Truly this thought turns my tears into joy. Two months after your departure I had twins, who can already prattle away in the language of childhood, at one moment snatching a date, at another a pear. Had they no mother they would still live. These I now send to you, with the jade lilies you gave me in their hats, in token of the sender. When you take them upon your knee, think that I am standing by your side. I know that you have kept your promise to me, and I am happy. I shall take no second husband, even unto death. All thoughts of dress and finery are gone from me; my looking-glass sees no new fashions; my face has long been unpowdered, my eye-brows unblacked. You are my Ulysses, I am your Penelope; though not actually leading a married life, how can it be said that we are not husband and wife. Your father and mother will take their grandchildren upon their knees, though they have never set eyes upon the bride. Alas! there is something wrong in this. Next year your mother will enter upon the long night. I shall be there by the side of the grave as is becoming in her daughter-in-law. From this time forth our daughter will be well; later on she will be able to grasp her mother’s hand. Our boy, when he grows up, may possibly be able to come to and fro. Adieu, dear husband, adieu, though I am leaving much unsaid.”

Ma read the letter over and over again, his tears flowing all the time. His two children clung round his neck, and begged him to take them home. “Ah, my children,” said he, “where is your home?” Then they all wept bitterly, and Ma, looking at the great ocean stretching away to meet the sky, lovely and pathless, embraced his children, and proceeded sorrowfully to return. Knowing, too, that his mother could not last long, he prepared everything necessary for the ceremony of interment, and planted a hundred young pine-trees at her grave.

The following year the old lady did die, and her coffin was borne to its last resting-place, when lo! there was the princess standing by the side of the grave. The lookers-on were much alarmed, but in a moment there was a flash of lightning, followed by a clap of thunder and a squall of rain, and she was gone. It was then noticed that many of the young pine-trees which had died were one and all brought to life. Subsequently, Fu-hai went in search of the mother for whom he pined so much, and after some days’ absence returned. Lung-kung, being a girl, could not accompany him, but she mourned much in secret. One dark day her mother entered and bid her dry her eyes, saying, “My child, you must get married. Why these tears?” She then gave her a tree of coral eight feet in height, some Baroos camphor, one hundred valuable pearls, and two boxes inlaid with gold and precious stones, as her dowry. Ma having found out she was there, rushed in and seizing her hand began to weep for joy, when suddenly a violent peal of thunder rent the building, and the princess had vanished.

羅剎海市

馬驥字龍媒,賈人子,美豐姿,少倜儻,喜歌舞。輒從梨園子弟,以錦帕纏頭,美如好女,因復有「俊人」之號。十四歲入郡庠,即知名。父衰老罷賈而歸,謂生曰:「數卷書,饑不可煮,寒不可衣,吾兒可仍繼父賈。」馬由是稍稍權子母。從人浮海,為颶風引去,數晝夜至一都會。其人皆奇丑,見馬至,以為妖,群嘩而走。馬初見其狀,大懼,迨知國中之駭己也,遂反以此欺國人。遇飲食者則奔而往,人驚遁,則啜其余。久之入山村,其間形貌亦有似人者,然襤褸如丐。馬息樹下,村人不敢前,但遙望之。久之覺馬非噬人者,始稍稍近就之。馬笑與語,其言雖異,亦半可解。馬遂自陳所自,村人喜,遍告鄰里,客非能搏噬者。然奇丑者望望即去,終不敢前;其來者,口鼻位置,尚皆與中國同,共羅漿酒奉馬,馬問其相駭之故,答曰:「嘗聞祖父言:西去二萬六千里,有中國,其人民形象率詭異。但耳食之,今始信。」問其何貧,曰:「我國所重,不在文章,而在形貌。其美之極者,為上卿;次任民社;下焉者,亦邀貴人寵,故得鼎烹以養妻子。若我輩初生時,父母皆以為不祥,往往置棄之,其不忍遽棄者,皆為宗嗣耳。」問:「此名何國?」曰:「大羅剎國。都城在北去三十里。」馬請導往一觀。于是雞鳴而興,引與俱去。
  天明,始達都。都以黑石為墻,色如墨,樓閣近百尺。然少瓦。覆以紅石,拾其殘塊磨甲上,無異丹砂。時值朝退,朝中有冠蓋出,村人指曰:「此相國也。」視之,雙耳皆背生,鼻三孔,睫毛覆目如簾。又數騎出,曰:「此大夫也。」以次各指其官職,率猙獰怪異。然位漸卑,丑亦漸殺。無何,馬歸,街衢人望見之,噪奔跌蹶,如逢怪物。村人百口解說,市人始敢遙立。既歸,國中咸知有異人,于是搢紳大夫,爭欲一廣見聞,遂令村人要馬。每至一家,閽人輒闔戶,丈夫女子竊竊自門隙中窺語,終一日,無敢延見者。村人曰:「此間一執戟郎,曾為先王出使異國,所閱人多,或不以子為懼。」造郎門。郎果喜,揖為上客。視其貌,如八九十歲人。目睛突出,須卷如猬。曰:「仆少奉王命出使最多,獨未至中華。今一百二十余歲,又得見上國人物,此不可不上聞于天子。然臣臥林下,十余年不踐朝階,早旦為君一行。」乃具飲饌,修主客禮。酒數行,出女樂十余人,更番歌舞。貌類夜叉,皆以自錦纏頭,拖朱衣及地。扮唱不知何詞,腔拍恢詭。主人顧而樂之。問:「中國亦有此樂乎?」曰:「有」。主人請擬其聲,遂擊桌為度一曲。主人喜曰:「異哉!聲如鳳鳴龍嘯,從未曾聞。」
  翼日趨朝,薦諸國王。王忻然下詔,有二三大夫言其怪狀,恐驚圣體,王乃止。郎出告馬,深為扼腕。居久之,與主人飲而醉,把劍起舞,以煤涂面作張飛。主人以為美,曰:「請君以張飛見宰相,厚祿不難致。」馬曰:「游戲猶可,何能易面目圖榮顯?」主人強之,馬乃諾。主人設筵,邀當路者,令馬繪面以待。客至,呼馬出見客。客訝曰:「異哉!何前媸而今妍也!」遂與共飲,甚歡。馬婆娑歌「弋陽曲」,一座無不傾倒。明日交章薦馬,王喜,召以旌節。既見,問中國治安之道,馬委曲上陳,大蒙嘉嘆,賜宴離宮。酒酣,王曰:「聞卿善雅樂,可使寡人得而聞之乎?」馬即起舞,亦效白錦纏頭,作靡靡之音。王大悅,即日拜下大夫。時與私宴,恩寵殊異。久而官僚知其面目之假,所至,輒見人耳語,不甚與款洽。馬至是孤立,怡然不自安。遂上疏乞休致,不許;又告休沐,乃給三月假。
  于是乘傳載金寶,復歸村。村人膝行以迎。馬以金資分給舊所與交好者,歡聲雷動。村人曰:「吾儕小人受大夫賜,明日赴海市,當求珍玩以報」,問:「海市何地?」曰:「海中市,四海鮫人,集貨珠寶。四方十二國,均來貿易。中多神人游戲。云霞障天,波濤間作。貴人自重,不敢犯險阻,皆以金帛付我輩代購異珍。今其期不遠矣。」問所自知,曰:「每見海上朱鳥往來,七日即市。」馬問行期,欲同游矚,村人勸使自貴。馬曰:「我顧滄海客,何畏風濤?」未幾,果有踵門寄資者,遂與裝資入船。船容數十人,平底高欄。十人搖櫓,激水如箭。凡三日,遙見水云幌漾之中,樓閣層疊,貿遷之舟,紛集如蟻。少時抵城下,視墻上磚皆長與人等,敵樓高接云漢。維舟而入,見市上所陳,奇珍異寶,光明射目,多人世所無。
  一少年乘駿馬來,市人盡奔避,云是「東洋三世子。」世子過,目生曰:「此非異域人。」即有前馬者來詰鄉籍。生揖道左,具展邦族。世子喜曰:「既蒙辱臨,緣分不淺!」于是授生騎,請與連轡。乃出西城,方至島岸,所騎嘶躍入水。生大駭失聲。則見海水中分,屹如壁立。俄睹宮殿,玳瑁為梁,魴鱗作瓦,四壁晶明,鑒影炫目。下馬揖入。仰視龍君在上,世子啟奏:「臣游市廛,得中華賢士,引見大王。」生前拜舞。龍君乃言:「先生文學士,必能衙官屈、宋。欲煩椽筆賦『海市』,幸無吝珠玉。」生稽首受命。授以水晶之硯,龍鬣之毫,紙光似雪,墨氣如蘭。生立成千余言,獻殿上。龍君擊節曰:「先生雄才,有光水國矣!」遂集諸龍族,宴集采霞宮。酒炙數行,龍君執爵向客曰:「寡人所憐女,未有良匹,愿累先生。先生倘有意乎?」生離席愧荷,唯唯而已。龍君顧左右語。無何,宮女數人扶女郎出,佩環聲動,鼓吹暴作,拜竟睨之,實仙人也。女拜已而去。少時酒罷,雙鬟挑畫燈,導生入副宮,女濃妝坐伺。珊瑚之床飾以八寶,帳外流蘇綴明珠如斗大,衾褥皆香軟。天方曙,雛女妖鬟,奔入滿側。生起,趨出朝謝。拜為駙馬都尉。以其賦馳傳諸海。諸海龍君,皆專員來賀,爭折簡招駙馬飲。生衣繡裳,坐青虬,呵殿而出。武士數十騎,背雕弧,荷白棓,晃耀填擁。馬上彈箏,車中奏玉。三日間,遍歷諸海。由是「龍媒」之名,噪于四海。宮中有玉樹一株,圍可合抱,本瑩澈如白琉璃,中有心淡黃色,稍細于臂,葉類碧玉,厚一錢許,細碎有濃陰。常與女嘯詠其下。花開滿樹,狀類薝葡。每一瓣落,鏘然作響。拾視之,如赤瑙雕鏤,光明可愛。時有異鳥來鳴,毛金碧色,尾長于身,聲等哀玉,惻人肺腑。生聞之,輒念故土。因謂女曰:「亡出三年,恩慈間阻,每一念及,涕膺汗背。卿能從我歸乎?」女曰:「仙塵路隔,不能相依。妾亦不忍以魚水之愛,奪膝下之歡。容徐謀之。」生聞之,涕不自禁。女亦嘆曰:「此勢之不能兩全者也!」明日,生自外歸。龍王曰:「聞都尉有故土之思,詰旦趣裝,可乎?」生謝曰:「逆旅孤臣,過蒙優寵,銜報之思,結于肺腑。容暫歸省,當圖復聚耳。」入暮,女置酒話別。生訂后會,女曰:「情緣盡矣。」生大悲,女曰:「歸養雙親,見君之孝,人生聚散,百年猶旦暮耳,何用作兒女哀泣?此后妾為君貞,君為妾義,兩地同心,即伉儷也,何必旦夕相守,乃謂之偕老乎?若渝此盟,婚姻不吉。倘慮中饋乏人,納婢可耳。更有一事相囑:自奉衣裳,似有佳朕,煩君命名。」生曰:「其女耶可名龍宮,男耶可名福海。」女乞一物為信,生在羅剎國所得赤玉蓮花一對,出以授女。女曰:「三年后四月八日,君當泛舟南島,還君體胤。」女以魚革為囊,實以珠寶,授生曰:「珍藏之,數世吃著不盡也。」天微明,王設祖帳,饋遺甚豐。生拜別出宮,女乘白羊車。送諸海涘。生上岸下馬,女致聲珍重,回車便去,少頃便遠,海水復合,不可復見。生乃歸。
  自浮海去,家人無不謂其已死;及至家人皆詫異。幸翁媼無恙,獨妻已去帷。乃悟龍女「守義」之言,蓋已先知也。父欲為生再婚,生不可,納婢焉。謹志三年之期,泛舟島中。見兩兒坐在水面,拍流嬉笑,不動亦不沉。近引之,兒啞然捉生臂,躍入懷中。其一大啼,似嗔生之不援己者。亦引上之。細審之,一男一女,貌皆俊秀。額上花冠綴玉,則赤蓮在焉。背有錦囊,拆視,得書云:「翁姑俱無恙。忽忽三年,紅塵永隔;盈盈一水,青鳥難通,結想為夢,引領成勞。茫茫藍蔚,有恨如何也!顧念奔月姮娥,且虛桂府;投梭織女,猶悵銀河。我何人斯,而能永好?興思及此,輒復破涕為笑。別后兩月,竟得孿生。今已啁啾懷抱,頗解言笑;覓棗抓梨,不母可活。敬以還君。所貽赤玉蓮花,飾冠作信。膝頭抱兒時,猶妾在左右也。聞君克踐舊盟,意愿斯慰。妾此生不二,之死靡他。奩中珍物,不蓄蘭膏;鏡里新妝,久辭粉黛。君似征人,妾作蕩婦,即置而不御,亦何得謂非琴瑟哉?獨計翁姑已得抱孫,曾未一覿新婦,揆之情理,亦屬缺然。歲后阿姑窀穸,當往臨穴,一盡婦職。過此以往,則『龍宮』無恙,不少把握之期;『福海』長生,或有往還之路。伏惟珍重,不盡欲言。」生反覆省書攬涕。兩兒抱頸曰:「歸休乎!」生益慟撫之,曰:「兒知家在何許?」兒啼,嘔啞言歸。生視海水茫茫,極天無際,霧鬟人渺,煙波路窮。抱兒返棹,悵然遂歸。
  生知母壽不永,周身物悉為預具,墓中植松槚百余。逾歲,媼果亡。靈輿至殯宮,有女子缞绖臨穴。眾驚顧,忽而風激雷轟,繼以急雨,轉瞬已失所在。松柏新植多枯,至是皆活。福海稍長,輒思其母,忽自投入海,數日始還。龍宮以女子不得往,時掩戶泣。一日晝暝,龍女急入,止之曰:「兒自成家,哭泣何為?」乃賜八尺珊瑚一株,龍腦香一帖,明珠百粒,八寶嵌金合一雙,為嫁資。生聞之突入,執手啜泣。俄頃,迅雷破屋,女已無矣。
  異史氏曰:「花面逢迎,世情如鬼。嗜痂之癖,舉世一轍。『小慚小好,大慚大好』。若公然帶須眉以游都市,其不駭而走者蓋幾希矣!彼陵陽癡子,將抱連城玉向何處哭也?嗚呼!顯榮富貴,當于蜃樓海市中求之耳!」

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