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The King

A CERTAIN Governor of Hu-nan despatched a magistrate to the capital in charge of treasure to the amount of six hundred thousand ounces of silver. On the road the magistrate encountered a violent storm of rain, which so delayed him that night came on before he was able to reach the next station. He therefore took refuge in an old temple; but, when morning came, he was horrified to find that the treasure had disappeared. Unable to fix the guilt on any one, he returned forth-with to the Governor and told him the whole story. The latter, however, refused to believe what the magistrate said, and would have had him severely punished, but that each and all of his attendants stoutly corroborated his statements; and accordingly he bade him return and endeavour to find the missing silver. When the magistrate got back to the temple, he met an extraordinary-looking blind man, who informed him that he could read people's thoughts, and further went on to say that the magistrate had come there on a matter of money. The latter replied that it was so, and recounted the misfortune that had overtaken him; whereupon the blind man called for sedan-chairs, and told the magistrate to follow and see for himself, which he accordingly did, accompanied by all his retinue. If the blind man said east, they went east; or if north, north; journeying along for five days until far among the hills, where they beheld a large city with a great number of inhabitants. They entered the gates and proceeded on for a short distance, when suddenly the blind man cried, "Stop!" and, alighting from his chair, pointed to a lofty door facing the west, at which he told the magistrate to knock and make what inquiries were necessary. He then bowed and took his leave, and the magistrate obeyed his instructions, whereupon a man came out in reply to his summons. He was dressed in the fashion of the Han dynasty, and did not say what his name was; but as soon as the magistrate informed him wherefore he had come, he replied that if the latter would wait a few days he himself would assist him in the matter. The man then conducted the magistrate within, and giving him a room to himself, provided him regularly with food and drink. One day he chanced to stroll away to the back of the building, and there found a beautiful garden with dense avenues of pine-trees and smooth lawns of fine grass. After wandering about for some time among the arbours and ornamental buildings, the magistrate came to a lofty kiosque, and mounted the steps, when he saw hanging on the wall before him a number of human skins, each with its eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and heart. Horrified at this, he beat a hasty retreat to his quarters, convinced that he was about to leave his own skin in this out-of-the-way place, and giving himself up for lost. He reflected, however, that he should probably gain nothing by trying to escape, and made up his mind to wait; and on the following day the same man came to fetch him, saying he could now have an audience. The magistrate replied that he was ready; and his conductor then mounted a fiery steed, leaving the other to follow on foot. By-and-by they reached a door like that leading into a Viceroy's yamen, where stood on either side crowds of official servants, preserving the utmost silence and decorum. The man here dismounted and led the magistrate inside; and after passing through another door they came into the presence of a king, who wore a cap decorated with pearls, and an embroidered sash, and sat facing the south. The magistrate rushed forward and prostrated himself on the ground; upon which the king asked him if he was the Hu-nan official who had been charged with the conveyance of treasure. On his answering in the affirmative, the king said, "The money is all here; it's a mere trifle, but I have no objection to receive it as a present from the Governor." The magistrate here burst into tears, and declared that his term of grace had already expired: that he would be punished if he went back thus, especially as he would have no evidence to adduce in substantiation of his story. "That is easy enough," replied the king, and put into his hands a thick letter, which he bade him give to the Governor, assuring him that this would prevent him from getting into any trouble. He also provided him with an escort; and the magistrate, who dared not argue the point further, sorrowfully accepted the letter and took his departure. The road he travelled along was not that by which he had come; and when the hills ended, his escort left him and went back. In a few days more he reached Ch'ang-sha, and respectfully informed the Governor of what had taken place; but the Governor thought he was telling more lies, and in a great rage bade the attendants bind him hand and foot. The magistrate then drew the letter forth from his coat; and when the Governor broke the seal and saw its contents, his face turned deadly pale. He gave orders for the magistrate to be unbound, remarking that the loss of the treasure was of no importance, and that the magistrate was free to go. Instructions were next issued that the amount was to be made up in some way or other and forwarded to the capital; and meanwhile the Governor fell sick and died.

Now this Governor had had a wife of whom he was dotingly fond; and one morning when they waked up, lo! all her hair was gone. The whole establishment was in dismay, no one knowing what to make of such an occurrence. But the letter above-mentioned contained that hair, accompanied by the following words: "Ever since you first entered into public life your career has been one of peculation and avarice. The six hundred thousand ounces of silver are safely stored in my treasury. Make good this sum from your own accumulated extortions. The officer you charged with the treasure is innocent; he must not be wrongly punished. On a former occasion I took your wife's hair as a gentle warning. If now you disobey my injunctions, it will not be long before I have your head. Herewith I return the hair as an evidence of what I say." When the Governor was dead, his family divulged the contents of the letter; and some of his subordinates sent men to search for the city, but they only found range upon range of inaccessible mountains, with nothing like a road or path.

王者

湖南巡撫某公,遣州佐押解餉六十萬赴京。途中被雨,日暮愆程,無所投宿,遠見古剎,因詣棲止。天明,視所解金,蕩然無存。眾駭怪,莫可取咎。回白撫公,公以為妾,將置之法。及詰眾役,並無異詞。公責令仍反故處,緝察端緒。至廟前,見一瞽者,形貌奇異,自榜云:「能知心事。」因求卜筮。瞽曰:「是為失金者。」州佐曰:「然。因訴前苦。瞽者便索肩輿,云:「但從我去,當自知。」遂如其言,官役皆從之。瞽曰:「東」。東之。瞽曰:「北。」北之。凡五日,入深山,忽睹城郭,居人輻輳。入城,走移時,瞽曰:「止。」因下輿,以手南指:「見有高門西向,可款關自問之。」拱手自去。州佐如其教,果見高門,漸入之。一人出,衣冠漢制,不言姓名。州佐述所自來,其人云:「請留數日,當與君謁當事者。」遂導去,令獨居一所,給以食飲。暇時閒步,至第後,見一園亭,入涉之。老松翳日,細草如氈。數轉廊榭,又一高亭,歷階而入,見壁上挂人皮數張,五官俱備,腥氣流熏。不覺毛骨森豎,疾退歸舍。自分留鞹異域,已無生望,因念進退一死,亦姑聽之。明日,衣冠者召之去,曰:「今日可見矣。」州佐唯唯。衣冠者乘怒馬甚駛,州佐步馳從之。俄,至一轅門,儼如制府衙署,皂衣人羅列左右,規模凜肅。衣冠者下馬,導入。又一重門,見有王者,珠冠繡紱,南面坐。州佐趨上,伏謁。王者問:「汝湖南解官耶?」州佐諾。王者曰:「銀俱在此。是區區者,汝撫軍即慨然見贈,未為不可。」州佐泣訴:「限期已滿,歸必就刑,稟白何所申證?」王者曰:「此即不難。」遂付以巨函云:「以此復之,可保無恙。」又遣力士送之。州佐慴息,不敢辨,受函而返。山川道路,悉非來時所經。既出山,送者乃去。數日,抵長沙,敬白撫公。公益妄之,怒不容辨,命左右者飛索以䌈。州佐解襆出函,公拆視未竟,面如灰土。命釋其縛,但云:「銀亦細事,汝姑出。」於是急檄屬官,設法補解訖。數日,公疾,尋卒。先是,公與愛姬共寢,既醒,而姬髮盡失。闔署驚怪,莫測其由。蓋函中即其髮也。外有書云:「汝自起家守令,位極人臣。賕賂貪婪,不可悉數。前銀六十萬,業已驗收在庫。當自發貪囊,補充舊額。解官無罪,不得加譴責。前取姬髮,略示微警。如復不遵教令,旦晚取汝首領。姬髮附還,以作明信。」公卒後,家人始傳其書。後屬員遣人尋其處,則皆重岩絕壑,更無徑路矣。
  異史氏曰:「紅線金合,以儆貪婪,良亦快異。然桃源仙人,不事劫掠;即劍客所集。烏得有城郭衙署哉?嗚呼!是何神歟?苟得其地,恐天下之赴愬者無已時矣。」

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