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The Picture Horse.

A CERTAIN Mr. Ts‘ui, of Linch‘ing, was too poor to keep his garden walls in repair, and used often to find a strange horse lying down on the grass inside. It was a black horse marked with white, and having a scrubby tail, which looked as if the end had been burnt off; and, though always driven away, would still return to the same spot. Now Mr. Ts‘ui had a friend, who was holding an appointment in Shansi; and though he had frequently felt desirous of paying him a visit, he had no means of travelling so far. Accordingly, he one day caught the strange horse and, putting a saddle on its back, rode away, telling his servant that if the owner of the horse should appear, he was to inform him where the animal was to be found. The horse started off at a very rapid pace, and, in a short time, they were thirty or forty miles from home; but at night it did not seem to care for its food, so the next day Mr. Ts‘ui, who thought perhaps illness might be the cause, held the horse in, and would not let it gallop so fast. However, the animal did not seem to approve of this, and kicked and foamed until at length Mr. Ts‘ui let it go at the same old pace; and by midday he had reached his destination. As he rode into the town, the people were astonished to hear of the marvellous journey just accomplished, and the Prince sent to say he should like to buy the horse. Mr. Ts‘ui, fearing that the real owner might come forward, was compelled to refuse this offer; but when, after six months had elapsed, no inquiries had been made, he agreed to accept eight hundred ounces of silver, and handed over the horse to the Prince. He then bought himself a good mule, and returned home. Subsequently, the Prince had occasion to use the horse for some important business at Linch‘ing; and when there it took the opportunity to run away. The officer in charge pursued it right up to the house of a Mr. Tsêng, who lived next door to Mr. Ts‘ui, and saw it run in and disappear. Thereupon he called upon Mr. Tsêng to restore it to him; and, on the latter declaring he had never even seen the animal, the officer walked into his private apartments, where he found, hanging on the wall, a picture of a horse, by Tzŭang, exactly like the one he was in search of, and with part of the tail burnt away by a jossstick. It was now clear that the Prince’s horse was a supernatural creature; but the officer, being afraid to go back without it, would have prosecuted Mr. Tsêng, had not Ts‘ui, whose eight hundred ounces of silver had since increased to something like ten thousand, stepped in and paid back the original purchase money. Mr. Tsêng was exceedingly grateful to him for this act of kindness, ignorant, as he was, of the previous sale of the horse by Ts‘ui to the Prince.

畫馬

臨清崔生,家窶貧。圍垣不修。每晨起,輒見一馬臥露草間,黑質白章;惟尾毛不整,似火燎斷者。逐去,夜又復來,不知所自。崔有好友,官於晉,欲往就之,苦無健步,遂捉馬施勒乘去。囑屬家人曰:「倘有尋馬者,當如晉以告。」既就途,馬騖駛,瞬息百里。夜不甚餤芻豆,意其病。次日緊啣不令馳;而馬蹄嘶噴沫,健怒如昨。復縱之,午已達晉。時騎入市廛,觀者無不稱歎。晉王聞之,以重直購之。崔恐為失者所尋,不敢售。居半年,無耗,遂以八百金貨於晉邸,乃自市健騾以歸。後王以急務,遣校尉騎赴臨清。馬逸,追至崔之東鄰,入門,不見。索諸主人。主曾姓,實莫之睹。及入室,見壁間挂子昂畫馬一幀,內一匹毛色渾似,尾處為香炷所燒,始知馬,畫妖也。校尉難復王命,因訟曾。時崔得馬貲,居積盈萬,自願以直貸曾,付校尉去。曾甚德之,不知崔即當年之售主也。

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