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The Magic Path.

IN the province of Kuang-tung there lived a scholar named Kuo, who was one evening on his way home from a friend’s, when he lost his way among the hills. He got into a thick jungle, where, after about an hour’s wandering, he suddenly heard the sound of laughing and talking on the top of the hill. Hurrying up in the direction of the sound, he beheld some ten or a dozen persons sitting on the ground engaged in drinking. No sooner had they caught sight of Kuo than they all cried out, “Come along! just room for one more; you’re in the nick of time.” So Kuo sat down with the company, most of whom, he noticed, belonged to the literati, and began by asking them to direct him on his way home; but one of them cried out, “A nice sort of fellow you are, to be bothering about your way home, and paying no attention to the fine moon we have got tonight.” The speaker then presented him with a goblet of wine of exquisite bouquet, which Kuo drank off at a draught, and another gentleman filled up again for him at once. Now, Kuo was pretty good in that line, and being very thirsty withal from his long walk, tossed off bumper after bumper, to the great delight of his hosts, who were unanimous in voting him a jolly good fellow. He was, moreover, full of fun, and could imitate exactly the note of any kind of bird; so all of a sudden he began on the sly to twitter like a swallow, to the great astonishment of the others, who wondered how it was a swallow could be out so late. He then changed his note to that of a cuckoo, sitting there laughing and saying nothing, while his hosts were discussing the extraordinary sounds they had just heard. After a while he imitated a parrot, and cried, “Mr. Kuo is very drunk: you’d better see him home;” and then the sounds ceased, beginning again by-and-by, when at last the others found out who it was, and all burst out laughing. They screwed up their mouths and tried to whistle like Kuo, but none of them could do so; and soon one of them observed, “What a pity Madam Ch‘ing isn’t with us: we must rendezvous here again at mid-autumn, and you, Mr. Kuo, must be sure and come.” Kuo said he would, whereupon another of his hosts got up and remarked that, as he had given them such an amusing entertainment, they would try to shew him a few acrobatic feats. They all arose, and one of them planting his feet firmly, a second jumped up on to his shoulders, a third on to the second’s shoulders, and a fourth on to his, until it was too high for the rest to jump up, and accordingly they began to climb as though it had been a ladder. When they were all up, and the topmost head seemed to touch the clouds, the whole column bent gradually down until it lay along the ground transformed into a path. Kuo remained for some time in a state of considerable alarm, and then, setting out along this path, ultimately reached his own home. Some days afterwards he revisited the spot, and saw the remains of a feast lying about on the ground, with dense bushes on all sides, but no sign of a path. At mid-autumn he thought of keeping his engagement; however, his friends persuaded him not to go.

郭秀才

東粵士人郭某,暮自友人歸,入山迷路,竄榛莽中。更許,聞山頭笑語,急趨之。見十餘人,藉地飲。望見郭,鬨然曰:「坐中正欠一客,大佳,大佳!」郭既坐,見諸客半儒巾,便請指迷。一人笑曰:「君真酸腐!舍此明月不賞,何求道路?」即飛一觥來。郭飲之,芳香射鼻,一引遂盡。又一人持壺傾注。郭故善飲,又復奔馳吻燥,一舉十觴。眾人大贊曰:「豪哉!真吾友也!」郭放達喜謔,能學禽語,無不酷肖。離坐起溲,竊作燕子鳴。眾疑曰:「半夜何得此耶?」又效杜鵑,眾益疑。郭坐,但笑不言。方紛議問,郭回首為鸚鵡鳴曰:「郭秀才醉矣,送他歸也!」眾驚聽,寂不復聞。少頃,又作之。既而悟其為郭,始大笑。皆撮口從學,無一能者。一人曰:「可惜青娘子未至。」又一人曰:「中秋還集於此,郭先生不可不來。」郭敬諾。一人起曰:「客有絕技;我等亦獻踏肩之戲,若何?」於是譁然並起。前一人挺身矗立;即有一人飛登肩上,亦矗立;累至四人,高不可登;繼至者,攀肩踏臂,如緣梯狀:十餘人,頃刻都盡,望之可接霄漢。方驚顧間,挺然倒地,化為修道一線。郭駭立良久,遵道得歸。翼日,腹大痛;溺綠色,似銅青,著物能染,亦無溺氣,三日乃已。往驗故處,則肴骨狼藉,四圍叢莽,並無道路。至中秋,郭欲赴約,朋友諫止之。設斗膽再往一會青娘子,必更有異。惜乎其見之搖也!

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