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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.

鏡聽

益都鄭氏兄弟,皆文學士。大鄭早知名,父母嘗過愛之,又因子並及其婦;二鄭落拓,不甚為父母所懽,遂惡次婦,至不齒禮:冷暖相形,頗存芥蒂。次婦每謂二鄭:「等男子耳,何遂不能為妻子爭氣?」遂擯弗與同宿。於是二鄭感憤,勤心銳思,亦遂知名。父母稍稍優顧之,然終殺於兄。次婦望夫綦切,是歲大比,竊於除夜以鏡聽卜。有二人初起,相推為戲,云:「汝也涼涼去!」婦歸,凶吉不可解,亦置之。闈後,兄弟皆歸。時暑氣猶盛,兩婦在廚下炊飯餉耕,其熱正苦。忽有報騎登門,報大鄭捷。母入廚喚大婦曰:「大男中式矣!汝可涼涼去。」次婦忿惻,泣且炊。俄又有報二鄭捷者。次婦力擲餅杖而起,曰:「儂也涼涼去!」此時中情所激,不覺出之於口;既而思之,始知鏡聽之驗也。
  異史氏曰:「貧窮則父母不子,有以也哉!庭幃之中,固非憤激之地;然二鄭婦激發男兒,亦與怨望無賴者殊不同科。投杖而起,真千古之快事也!」

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