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The “Mirror And Listen” Trick.

AT I-tu there lived a family of the name of Chêng. The two sons were both distinguished scholars, but the elder was early known to fame, and, consequently, the favourite with his parents, who also extended their preference to his wife. The younger brother was a trifle wild, which displeased his father and mother very much, and made them regard his wife, too, with anything but a friendly eye. The latter reproached her husband for being the cause of this, and asked him why he, being a man like his brother, could not vindicate the slights that were put upon her. This piqued him; and, setting to work in good earnest, he soon gained a fair reputation, though still not equal to his brother’s. That year the two went up for the highest degree; and, on New Year’s Eve, the wife of the younger, very anxious for the success of her husband, secretly tried the “mirror and listen” trick. She saw two men pushing each other in jest, and heard them say, “You go and get cool,” which remark she was quite unable to interpret for good or for bad, so she thought no more about the matter. After the examination, the two brothers returned home; and one day, when the weather was extremely hot, and their two wives were hard at work in the cookhouse, preparing food for their field labourers, a messenger rode up in hot haste to announce that the elder brother had passed. Thereupon his mother went into the cookhouse, and, calling to her daughter-in-law, said, “Your husband has passed; you go and get cool.” Rage and grief now filled the breast of the second son’s wife, who, with tears in her eyes, continued her task of cooking, when suddenly another messenger rushed in to say, that the second son had passed, too. At this, his wife flung down her frying pan, and cried out, “Now I’ll go and get cool;” and as in the heat of her excitement she uttered these words, the recollection of her trial of the “mirror and listen” trick flashed upon her, and she knew that the words of that evening had been fulfilled.




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