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The Wolf Dream.

MR. PAI was a native of Chili, and his eldest son was called Chia. The latter had been some two years holding an appointment as magistrate in the south; but because of the great distance between them, his family had heard nothing of him. One day a distant connection, named Ting, called at the house; and Mr. Pai, not having seen this gentleman for a long time, treated him with much cordiality. Now Ting was one of those persons who are occasionally employed by the Judge of the Infernal Regions to make arrests on earth; and, as they were chatting together, Mr. Pai questioned him about the realms below. Ting told him all kinds of strange things, but Pai did not believe them, answering only by a smile. Some days afterwards, he had just lain down to sleep when Ting walked in and asked him to go for a stroll; so they went off together, and by-and-by reached the city. “There,” said Ting, pointing to a door, “lives your nephew,” alluding to a son of Mr. Pai’s elder sister, who was a magistrate in Honan; and when Pai expressed his doubts as to the accuracy of this statement, Ting led him in, when, lo and behold! there was his nephew, sitting in his court dressed in his official robes. Around him stood the guard, and it was impossible to get near him; but Ting remarked that his son’s residence was not far off, and asked Pai if he would not like to see him too. The latter assenting, they walked along till they came to a large building, which Ting said was the place. However, there was a fierce wolf at the entrance, and Mr. Pai was afraid to go in. Ting bade him enter, and accordingly they walked in, when they found that all the employés of the place, some of whom were standing about and others lying down to sleep, were all wolves. The central pathway was piled up with whitening bones, and Mr. Pai began to feel horribly alarmed but Ting kept close to him all the time, and at length they got safely in. Pai’s son, Chia, was just coming out; and when he saw his father accompanied by Ting, he was overjoyed, and, asking them to sit down, bade the attendants serve some refreshment. Thereupon a great big wolf brought in in his mouth the carcase of a dead man, and set it before them, at which Mr. Pai rose up in consternation, and asked his son what this meant. “It’s only a little refreshment for you, father,” replied Chia; but this did not calm Mr. Pai’s agitation, who would have retired precipitately, had it not been for the crowd of wolves which barred the path. Just as he was at a loss what to do, there was a general stampede among the animals which scurried away, some under the couches and some under the tables and chairs; and while he was wondering what the cause of this could be, in marched two knights in golden armour, who looked sternly at Chia, and, producing a black rope, proceeded to bind him hand and foot. Chia fell down before them, and was changed into a tiger with horrid fangs; and then one of the knights drew a glittering sword and would have cut off its head, had not the other cried out, “Not yet! not yet! that is for the fourth month next year. Let us now only take out its teeth.” Immediately that knight produced a huge mallet, and, with a few blows, scattered the tiger’s teeth all over the floor, the tiger roaring so loudly with pain as to shake the very hills, and frightening all the wits out of Mr. Pai—who woke up with a start. He found he had been dreaming, and at once sent off to invite Ting to come and see him; but Ting sent back to say he must beg to be excused. Then Mr. Pai, pondering on what he had seen in his dream, despatched his second son with a letter to Chia, full of warnings and good advice; and lo! when his son arrived, he found that his elder brother had lost all his front teeth, these having been knocked out, as he averred, by a fall he had had from his horse when tipsy; and, on comparing dates, the day of that fall was found to coincide with the day of his father’s dream. The younger brother was greatly amazed at this, and took out their father’s letter, which he gave to Chia to read. The latter changed colour, but immediately asked his brother what there was to be astonished at in the coincidence of a dream. And just at that time he was busily engaged in bribing his superiors to put him first on the list for promotion, so that he soon forgot all about the circumstance; while the younger, observing what harpies Chia’s subordinates were, taking presents from one man and using their influence for another, in one unbroken stream of corruption, sought out his elder brother, and, with tears in his eyes, implored him to put some check upon their rapacity. “My brother,” replied Chia, “your life has been passed in an obscure village; you know nothing of our official routine. We are promoted or degraded at the will of our superiors, and not by the voice of the people. He, therefore, who gratifies his superiors is marked out for success; whereas he who consults the wishes of the people is unable to gratify his superiors as well.” Chia’s brother saw that his advice was thrown away; he accordingly returned home and told his father all that had taken place. The old man was much affected, but there was nothing that he could do in the matter, so he devoted himself to assisting the poor, and such acts of charity, daily praying the Gods that the wicked son alone might suffer for his crimes, and not entail misery on his innocent wife and children. The next year it was reported that Chia had been recommended for a post in the Board of Civil Office, and friends crowded the father’s door, offering their congratulations upon the happy event. But the old man sighed and took to his bed, pretending he was too unwell to receive visitors. Before long another message came, informing them that Chia had fallen in with bandits while on his way home, and that he and all his retinue had been killed. Then his father arose and said, “Verily the Gods are good unto me, for they have visited his sins upon himself alone;” and he immediately proceeded to burn incense and return thanks. Some of his friends would have persuaded him that the report was probably untrue; but the old man had no doubts as to its correctness, and made haste to get ready his son’s grave. But Chia was not yet dead. In the fatal fourth moon he had started on his journey and had fallen in with bandits, to whom he had offered all his money and valuables; upon which the latter cried out, “We have come to avenge the cruel wrongs of many hundreds of victims; do you imagine we want only that?” They then cut off his head, and the head of his wicked secretary, and the heads of several of his servants who had been foremost in carrying out his shameful orders, and were now accompanying him to the capital. They then divided the booty between them, and made off with all speed. Chia’s soul remained near his body for some time, until at length a high mandarin passing by asked who it was that was lying there dead. One of his servants replied that he had been a magistrate at such and such a place, and that his name was Pai. “What!” said the mandarin, “the son of old Mr. Pai? It is hard that his father should live to see such sorrow as this. Put his head on again.” Then a man stepped forward and placed Chia’s head upon his shoulders again, when the mandarin interrupted him, saying, “A crooked minded man should not have a straight body: put his head on sideways.” By-and-by Chia’s soul returned to its tenement; and when his wife and children arrived to take away the corpse, they found that he was still breathing. Carrying him home, they poured some nourishment down his throat, which he was able to swallow; but there he was at an out-of-the-way place, without the means of continuing his journey. It was some six months before his father heard the real state of the case, and then he sent off the second son to bring his brother home. Chia had indeed come to life again, but he was able to see down his own back, and was regarded ever afterwards more as a monstrosity than as a man. Subsequently the nephew, whom old Mr. Pai had seen sitting in state surrounded by officials, actually became an Imperial Censor, so that every detail of the dream was thus strangely realised.

夢狼

白翁,直隸人。長子甲,筮仕南服,三年無耗。適有瓜葛丁姓造謁,翁款之。丁素走無常。談次,翁輒問以冥事,丁對語涉幻;翁不深信,但微哂之。別後數日,翁方臥,見丁又來,邀與同遊。從之去,入一城闕。移時,丁指一門曰:「此間君家甥也。」時翁有姊子為晉令,訝曰:「烏在此?」丁曰:「倘不信,入便知之。」翁入,果見甥,蟬冠豸繡坐堂上,戟幢行列,無人可通。丁曳之出,曰:「公子衙署,去此不遠,亦願見之否?」翁諾。少間,至一第,丁曰:「入之。」窺其門,見一巨狼當道,大懼不敢進。丁又曰:「入之。」又入一門,見堂上、堂下,坐者、臥者,皆狼也。又視墀中,白骨如山,益懼。丁乃以身翼翁而進。公子甲方自內出,見父及丁良喜。少坐,喚侍者治肴蔌。忽一巨狼,啣死人入。翁戰惕而起曰:「此胡為者?」甲曰:「聊充庖廚。」翁急止之。心怔忡不寧,辭欲出,而群狼阻道。進退方無所主,忽見諸狼紛然嗥避,或竄床下,或伏几底。錯愕不解其故。俄有兩金甲猛士努目入,出黑索索甲。甲撲地化為虎,牙齒巉巉,一人出利劍,欲梟其首。一人曰:「且勿,且勿,此明年四月間事,不如姑敲齒去。」乃出巨錘錘齒,齒零落墮地。虎大吼,聲震山岳。翁大懼,忽醒,乃知其夢。心異之,遣人招丁,丁辭不至。翁誌其夢,使次子詣甲,函戒哀切。既至,見兄門齒盡脫;駭而問之,則醉中墜馬所折。考其時,則父夢之日也。益駭。出父書。甲讀之變色,為間曰:「此幻夢之適符耳,何足怪。」時方賂當路者,得首薦,故不以妖夢為意。弟居數日,見其蠹役滿堂,納賄關說者,中夜不絕,流涕諫止之。甲曰:「弟日居衡茅,故不知仕途之關竅耳。黜陟之權,在上臺不在百姓。上臺喜,便是好官;愛百姓,何術能令上臺喜也?」弟知不可勸止,遂歸。告父。翁聞之大哭。無可如何,惟捐家濟貧,日禱於神,但求逆子之報,不累妻孥。次年,報甲以薦舉作吏部,賀者盈門;翁惟欷歔,伏枕託疾不出。未幾,聞子歸途遇寇,主僕殞命。翁乃起,謂人曰:「鬼神之怒,止及其身,祐我家者不可謂不厚也。」因焚香而報謝之。慰藉翁者,咸以為道路訛傳,惟翁則深信不疑,刻日為之營兆。──而甲固未死。先是,四月間,甲解任,甫離境,即遭寇,甲傾裝以獻之。諸寇曰:「我等來,為一邑之民洩冤憤耳,寧耑為此哉!」遂決其首。又問家人:「有司大成者誰是?」──司故甲之腹心,助桀為虐者。──家人共指之。賊亦殺之。更有蠹役四人,──甲聚斂臣也,將攜入都。──并搜決訖,始分貲入囊,騖馳而去。甲魂伏道旁,見一宰官過,問:「殺者何人?」前驅者曰:「某縣白知縣也。」宰官曰:「此白某之子,不宜使老後見此兇慘,宜續其頭。」即有一人掇頭置腔上,曰:「邪人不宜使正,以肩承領可也。」遂去。移時復甦。妻子往收其尸,見有餘息,載之以行;從容灌之,亦受飲。但寄旅邸,貧不能歸。半年許,翁始得確耗,遣次子致之而歸。甲雖復生,而目能自顧其背,不復齒人數矣。翁姊子有政聲,是年行取為御史,悉符所夢。
  異史氏曰:「竊歎天下之官虎而吏狼者,比比也。──即官不為虎,而吏且將為狼,況有猛於虎者耶!夫人患不能自顧其後耳;甦而使之自顧,鬼神之教微矣哉!」
  鄒平李進士匡九,居官頗廉明。常有富民為人羅織,門役嚇之曰:「官索汝二百金,宜速辦;不然,敗矣!」富民懼,諾備半數。役搖手不可。富民苦哀之。役曰:「我無不極力,但恐不允耳。待聽鞫時,汝目睹我為若白之,其允與否,亦可明我意之無他也。」少間,公按是事。役知李戒煙,近問:「飲煙否?」李搖其首。役即趨下曰:「適言其數,官搖首不許,汝見之耶?」富民信之,懼,許如數。役知李嗜茶,近問:「飲茶否?」李頷之。役托烹茶,趨下曰:「諧矣!適首肯,汝見之耶?」既而審結,富民其獲免,役即收其苞苴,且索謝金。嗚呼!官自以為廉,而罵其貪者載道焉。此又縱狼而不自知者矣。世之如此類者更多,可為居官者備一鑒也。

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