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Dreaming Honours.

WANG TZŬNGAN was a Tungch‘ang man, and a scholar of some repute, but unfortunate at the public examinations. On one occasion, after having been up for his master’s degree, his anxiety was very great; and when the time for the publication of the list drew near, he drank himself gloriously tipsy, and went and lay down on the bed. In a few moments a man rushed in, and cried out, “Sir! you have passed!” whereupon Wang jumped up, and said, “Give him ten strings of cash.” Wang’s wife, seeing he was drunk, and wishing to keep him quiet, replied, “You go on sleeping: I’ve given him the money.” So Wang lay down again, but before long in came another man who informed Wang that his name was among the successful candidates for the highest degree. “Why, I haven’t been up for it yet;” said Wang, “how can I have passed?” “What! you don’t mean to say you have forgotten the examination?” answered the man; and then Wang got up once more, and gave orders to present the informant with ten strings of cash. “All right,” replied his wife; “you go on sleeping: I’ve given him the money.” Another short interval, and in burst a third messenger to say that Wang had been elected a member of the National Academy, and that two official servants had come to escort him thither. Sure enough there were the two servants bowing at the bedside, and accordingly Wang directed that they should be served with wine and meat, which his wife, smiling at his drunken nonsense, declared had been already done. Wang now bethought him that he should go out and receive the congratulations of the neighbours, and roared out several times to his official servants; but without receiving any answer. “Go to sleep,” said his wife, “and wait till I have fetched them;” and after a while the servants actually came in; whereupon Wang stamped and swore at them for being such idiots as to go away. “What! you wretched scoundrel,” cried the servants, “are you cursing us in earnest, when we are only joking with you!” At this Wang’s rage knew no bounds, and he set upon the men, and gave them a sound beating, knocking the hat of one off on to the ground. In the mêlée, he himself tumbled over, and his wife ran in to pick him up, saying, “Shame upon you, for getting so drunk as this!” “I was only punishing the servants as they deserved,” replied Wang; “why do you call me drunk?” “Do you mean the old woman who cooks our rice and boils the water for your footbath,” asked his wife, smiling, “that you talk of servants to wait upon your poverty-stricken carcase?” At this sally all the women burst out in a roar of laughter; and Wang, who was just beginning to get sober, waked up as if from a dream, and knew that there was no reality in all that had taken place. However, he recollected the spot where the servant’s hat had fallen off, and on going thither to look for it, lo! he beheld a tiny official hat, no larger than a winecup, lying there behind the door. They were all much astonished at this, and Wang himself cried out, “Formerly people were thus tricked by devils; and now foxes are playing the fool with me!”




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