“There’s nothing new whatever,” answered Tzu-hsing

“There’s nothing new whatever,” answered Tzu-hsing. “There is one thing however: in the family of one of your worthy kinsmen, of the same name as yourself, a trifling, but yet remarkable, occurrence has taken place.”

“None of my kindred reside in the capital,” rejoined Yü-ts’un with a smile. “To what can you be alluding?”

“How can it be that you people who have the same surname do not belong to one clan?” remarked Tzu-hsing, sarcastically.

“In whose family?” inquired Yü-ts’un.

“The Chia family,” replied Tzu-hsing smiling, “whose quarters are in the Jung Kuo Mansion, does not after all reflect discredit upon the lintel of your door, my venerable friend.”

“What!” exclaimed Yü-ts’un, “did this affair take place in that family? Were we to begin reckoning, we would find the members of my clan to be anything but limited in number. Since the time of our ancestor Chia Fu, who lived while the Eastern Han dynasty occupied the Throne, the branches of our family have been numerous and flourishing; they are now to be found in every single province, and who could, with any accuracy, ascertain their whereabouts? As regards the Jung-kuo branch in particular, their names are in fact inscribed on the same register as our own, but rich and exalted as they are, we have never presumed to claim them as our relatives, so that we have become more and more estranged.”

“Don’t make any such assertions,”

Tzu-hsing remarked with a sigh, “the present two mansions of Jung and

Ning have both alike also suffered reverses,

and they cannot come up to their state of days of yore.”

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“Up to this day, these two households of Ning and of Jung,” Yü-ts’un suggested, “still maintain a very large retinue of people, and how can it be that they have met with reverses?”

“To explain this would be indeed a long story,” said Leng Tzu-hsing. “Last year,” continued Yü-ts’un, “I arrived at Chin Ling, as I entertained a wish to visit the

remains of interest of the six dynasties, and as I on that day entered the walled town of Shih T’ou, I passed by the entrance of that old residence. On the east

side of the street, stood the Ning Kuo mansion; on the west the Jung Kuo mansion; and these two, adjoining each other as they do, cover in fact well-nigh

half of the whole length of the street. Outside the front gate everything was, it is true, lonely and deserted; but at a glance into the interior over the enclosing wall, I

perceived that the halls, pavilions, two-storied structures and porches presented still a majestic and lofty appearance. Even the flower garden, which extends over

the whole area of the back grounds, with its trees and rockeries, also possessed to that day an air of luxuriance and freshness, which betrayed no signs of a ruined

or decrepid establishment.”

“What a strange meeting! What a strange meeting!” he exclaimed

“What a strange meeting! What a strange meeting!” he exclaimed aloud.

Yü-ts’un speedily looked at him, (and remembered) that this person had, in past days, carried on business in a curio establishment in the capital, and that his surname was Leng and his style Tzu-hsing.

A mutual friendship had existed between them during their sojourn, in days of yore, in the capital; and as Yü-ts’un had entertained the highest opinion of Leng Tzu-hsing, as being a man of action and of great abilities, while this Leng Tzu-hsing, on the other hand, borrowed of the reputation of refinement enjoyed by Yü-ts’un, the two had consequently all along lived in perfect harmony and companionship.

“When did you get here?” Yü-ts’un eagerly inquired also smilingly. “I wasn’t in the least aware of your arrival. This unexpected meeting is positively a strange piece of good fortune.”

“I went home,” Tzu-hsing replied, “about the close of last year, but now as I am again bound to the capital, I passed through here on my way to look up a friend of mine and talk some matters over. He had the kindness to press me to stay with him for a couple of days longer, and as I after all have no urgent business to attend to, I am tarrying a few days, but purpose starting about the middle of the moon. My friend is busy to-day, so I roamed listlessly as far as here, never dreaming of such a fortunate meeting.”

While speaking, he made Yü-ts’un sit down at the same table, and ordered a fresh supply of wine and eatables; and as the two friends chatted of one thing and another, they slowly sipped their wine.

The conversation ran on what

had occurred after the separation,

and Yü-ts’un inquired,

“Is there any news of any kind in the capital?”

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“What a strange meeting! What a strange meeting!” he exclaimed

“What a strange meeting! What a strange meeting!” he exclaimed aloud.

Yü-ts’un speedily looked at him, (and remembered) that this person had, in past days, carried on business in a curio establishment in the capital, and that his surname was Leng and his style Tzu-hsing.

A mutual friendship had existed between them during their sojourn, in days of yore, in the capital; and as Yü-ts’un had entertained the highest opinion of Leng Tzu-hsing, as being a man of action and of great abilities, while this Leng Tzu-hsing, on the other hand, borrowed of the reputation of refinement enjoyed by Yü-ts’un, the two had consequently all along lived in perfect harmony and companionship.

“When did you get here?” Yü-ts’un eagerly inquired also smilingly. “I wasn’t in the least aware of your arrival. This unexpected meeting is positively a strange piece of good fortune.”

“I went home,” Tzu-hsing replied, “about the close of last year, but now as I am again bound to the capital, I passed through here on my way to look up a friend of mine and talk some matters over. He had the kindness to press me to stay with him for a couple of days longer, and as I after all have no urgent business to attend to, I am tarrying a few days, but purpose starting about the middle of the moon. My friend is busy to-day, so I roamed listlessly as far as here, never dreaming of such a fortunate meeting.”

While speaking, he made Yü-ts’un sit down at the same table, and ordered a fresh supply of wine and eatables; and as the two friends chatted of one thing and another, they slowly sipped their wine.

The conversation ran on what

had occurred after the separation,

and Yü-ts’un inquired,

“Is there any news of any kind in the capital?”

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On this particular day, he, by some accident, extended his

On this particular day, he, by some accident, extended his walk beyond the suburbs, and desirous to contemplate the nature of the rustic scenery

, he, with listless step, came up to a spot encircled by hills and streaming pools, by luxuriant clumps of trees and thick groves of bamboos. Nestling in the dense foliage stood a temple. The doors and courts were in ruins. The walls, inner and outer, in disrepair. An inscription on a tablet testified that this was the temple of Spiritual Perception. On the sides of the door was also a pair of old and dilapidated scrolls with the following enigmatical verses.

Behind ample there is, yet to retract the hand, the mind heeds not, until.

Before the mortal vision lies no path, when comes to turn the will.

“These two sentences,” Yü-ts’un pondered after perusal, “although simple in language, are profound in signification. I have

previous to this visited many a spacious temple, located on hills of note, but never have I beheld an inscription referring to

anything of the kind. The meaning contained in these words must, I feel certain, owe their origin to the experiences of some

person or other; but there’s no saying. But why should I not go in and inquire for myself?”

Upon walking in, he at a glance caught sight of no one else, but of a very aged bonze, of unkempt appearance, cooking his rice.

When Yü-ts’un perceived that he paid no notice, he went up to him and asked him one or two questions, but as the old priest

was dull of hearing and a dotard, and as he had lost his teeth, and his tongue was blunt, he made most irrelevant replies.

Yü-ts’un lost all patience with him, and withdrew again from the compound with the intention of going as far as the village public

house to have a drink or two, so as to enhance the enjoyment of the rustic scenery. With easy stride, he accordingly walked up to

the place. Scarcely had he passed the threshold of the

public house, when he perceived some one or other

among the visitors who had been sitting sipping their wine on the divan,

jump up and come up to greet him,

with a face beaming with laughter.

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On this particular day, he, by some accident, extended his

On this particular day, he, by some accident, extended his walk beyond the suburbs, and desirous to contemplate the nature of the rustic scenery

, he, with listless step, came up to a spot encircled by hills and streaming pools, by luxuriant clumps of trees and thick groves of bamboos. Nestling in the dense foliage stood a temple. The doors and courts were in ruins. The walls, inner and outer, in disrepair. An inscription on a tablet testified that this was the temple of Spiritual Perception. On the sides of the door was also a pair of old and dilapidated scrolls with the following enigmatical verses.

Behind ample there is, yet to retract the hand, the mind heeds not, until.

Before the mortal vision lies no path, when comes to turn the will.

“These two sentences,” Yü-ts’un pondered after perusal, “although simple in language, are profound in signification. I have

previous to this visited many a spacious temple, located on hills of note, but never have I beheld an inscription referring to

anything of the kind. The meaning contained in these words must, I feel certain, owe their origin to the experiences of some

person or other; but there’s no saying. But why should I not go in and inquire for myself?”

Upon walking in, he at a glance caught sight of no one else, but of a very aged bonze, of unkempt appearance, cooking his rice.

When Yü-ts’un perceived that he paid no notice, he went up to him and asked him one or two questions, but as the old priest

was dull of hearing and a dotard, and as he had lost his teeth, and his tongue was blunt, he made most irrelevant replies.

Yü-ts’un lost all patience with him, and withdrew again from the compound with the intention of going as far as the village public

house to have a drink or two, so as to enhance the enjoyment of the rustic scenery. With easy stride, he accordingly walked up to

the place. Scarcely had he passed the threshold of the

public house, when he perceived some one or other

among the visitors who had been sitting sipping their wine on the divan,

jump up and come up to greet him,

with a face beaming with laughter.

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By his wife, née Chia, he had a daughter, to whom the

By his wife, née Chia, he had a daughter, to whom the infant name of Tai Yü was given. She was, at this time, in her fifth year. Upon her the parents doated as

much as if she were a brilliant pearl in the palm of their hand. Seeing that she was endowed with natural gifts of intelligence and good looks, they also felt solicitous

to bestow upon her a certain knowledge of books, with no other purpose than that of satisfying, by this illusory way, their wishes of having a son to nurture and of

dispelling the anguish felt by them, on account of the desolation and void in their family circle (round their knees).

But to proceed. Yü-ts’un, while sojourning at an inn, was unexpectedly laid up with a violent chill. Finding on his recovery, that his funds were not sufficient to

pay his expenses, he was thinking of looking out for some house where he could find a resting place when he suddenly came across two friends acquainted with

the new Salt Commissioner. Knowing that this official was desirous to find a tutor to instruct his daughter, they lost no time in recommending Yü-ts’un, who moved into the Yamên.

His female pupil was youthful in years and delicate in physique, so that her lessons were irregular. Besides herself, there were only two waiting girls, who

remained in attendance during the hours of study, so that Yü-ts’un was spared considerable trouble and had a suitable opportunity to attend to the improvement of his health.

In a twinkle, another year and more slipped by, and when least expected, the mother of his ward, née Chia, was carried away after a short illness. His pupil

(during her mother’s sickness) was dutiful in her attendance, and prepared the medicines for her use. (And after her death,) she went into the deepest mourning

prescribed by the rites, and gave way to such excess of grief that, naturally delicate as she was, her old complaint, on this account, broke out anew.

Being unable for a considerable time to prosecute her studies,

Yü-ts’un lived at leisure and had no duties to attend to.

Whenever therefore the wind was genial and the sun mild,

he was wont to stroll at random,

after he had done with his meals.

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As luck would have it, on a certain day while making

As luck would have it, on a certain day while making a second journey through the Wei Yang district, he heard the news that the Salt Commissioner appointed this year was Lin Ju-hai.

This Lin Ju-hai’s family name was Lin, his name Hai and his style Ju-hai. He had obtained the third place in the previous triennial examination, and had, by this time, already risen to the rank of Director of the Court of Censors.

He was a native of Kú Su. He had been recently named by Imperial appointment a Censor attached to the Salt Inspectorate, and had arrived at his post only a short while back.

In fact, the ancestors of Lin Ju-hai had, from years back, successively inherited the title of Marquis,

which rank, by its present descent to Ju-hai, had already been enjoyed by five generations. When first conferred,

the hereditary right to the title had been limited to three generations;

but of late years, by an act of magnanimous favour and generous beneficence, extraordinary bounty had been superadded; and on the arrival of the

succession to the father of Ju-hai, the right had been extended to another degree. It had now descended to Ju-hai,

who had, besides this title of nobility, begun his career as a successful graduate. But though his family had been through uninterrupted ages the recipient of imperial bounties, his kindred had all been anyhow men of culture.

The only misfortune had been that the several branches of the Lin family had not been prolific, so that the numbers of its members continued limited;

and though there existed several households, they were all however to Ju-hai no closer relatives than first cousins.

Neither were there any connections of the same lineage, or of the same parentage.

Ju-hai was at this date past forty; and had only had a son,

who had died the previous year, in the third year of his age.

Though he had several handmaids,

he had not had the good fortune of having another son;

but this was too a matter that could not be remedied.

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Through but one single, casual look Soon an exalted

Through but one single, casual look

Soon an exalted place she took.

The fact is that after Yü-ts’un had been presented with the money by Shih-yin,

he promptly started on the 16th day for the capital, and at the triennial great tripos,

his wishes were gratified to the full. Having successfully carried off his degree of graduate of the third rank,

his name was put by selection on the list for provincial

appointments. By this time, he had been raised to the rank of Magistrate in this district; but, in spite of the excellence and sufficiency of his accomplishments and

abilities, he could not escape being ambitious and overbearing. He failed besides, confident as he was in his own merits,

in respect toward his superiors, with the result that these officials looked upon him scornfully with the corner of the eye.

A year had hardly elapsed, when he was readily denounced in a memorial to the Throne by the High Provincial authorities, who

represented that he was of a haughty disposition, that he had taken upon himself to introduce

innovations in the rites and ceremonies, that overtly, while he endeavoured to enjoy the

reputation of probity and uprightness, he, secretly, combined the nature of the tiger and wolf;

with the consequence that he had been the cause of much trouble in the district,

and that he had made life intolerable for the people, &c. &c.

The Dragon countenance of the Emperor was considerably incensed. His Majesty lost no time in issuing commands,

in reply to the Memorial, that he should be deprived of his official status.

On the arrival of the despatch from the Board, great was the joy felt by every officer, without exception, of the prefecture in which he had held office. Yü-ts’un,

though at heart intensely mortified and incensed, betrayed not the least outward symptom of annoyance, but still preserved, as of old, a smiling and cheerful countenance.

He handed over charge of all official business and removed the savings which he had accumulated during the several years he had been in office,

his family and all his chattels to his original home;

where, after having put everything in proper order,

he himself travelled (carried the winds and sleeved the moon) far and wide,

visiting every relic of note in the whole Empire.

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The mistress of the Chen family (Mrs. Chen Shih-yin)

The mistress of the Chen family (Mrs. Chen Shih-yin) could not but feel very much affected by what she heard, and the whole evening she uttered not a word.

The next day, at an early hour, Yü-ts’un sent some of his men to bring over to Chen’s wife presents, consisting of two packets of silver, and four pieces of brocaded silk, as a token of gratitude, and to Feng Su also a confidential letter, requesting him to ask of Mrs. Chen her maid Chiao Hsing to become his second wife.

Feng Su was so intensely delighted that his eyebrows expanded, his eyes smiled, and he felt eager to toady to the Magistrate (by

presenting the girl to him). He hastened to employ all his persuasive powers with his daughter (to further his purpose),

and on the same evening he forthwith escorted Chiao Hsing in a small chair to the Yamên.

The joy experienced by Yü-ts’un need not be dilated upon. He also presented Feng Su with a packet containing one hundred

ounces of gold; and sent numerous valuable presents to Mrs. Chen, enjoining her “to live cheerfully in the anticipation of finding out the whereabouts of her daughter.”

It must be explained, however, that the maid Chi’ao Hsing was the very person, who, a few years ago, had looked round at Yü-ts’un and who, by one simple, unpremeditated glance, evolved, in fact, this extraordinary destiny which was indeed an event beyond conception.

Who would ever have foreseen that fate and fortune would both have so favoured her that she should, contrary to all anticipation, give birth to a son, after living with Yü-ts’un barely a year, that in addition to this,

after the lapse of another half year, Yü-ts’un’s

wife should have contracted a sudden illness and departed this life,

and that Yü-ts’un should have at once raised her to the rank of first wife.

Her destiny is adequately expressed by the lines:

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The spirit of Mrs. Chia Shih-yin departs from the town

The spirit of Mrs. Chia Shih-yin departs from the town of Yang Chou — Leng Tzu-hsing dilates upon the Jung Kuo Mansion.

To continue. Feng Su, upon hearing the shouts of the public messengers, came out in a flurry and forcing a smile, he asked them to explain (their errand); but all these people did was to continue bawling out: “Be quick, and ask Mr. Chen to come out.”

“My surname is Feng,” said Feng Su, as he promptly forced himself to smile; “It is’nt Chen at all: I had once a son-in-law whose surname was Chen, but he has left home, it is now already a year or two back. Is it perchance about him that you are inquiring?”

To which the public servants remarked: “We know nothing about Chen or Chia (true or false); but as he is your son-in-law, we’ll take you at once along with us to make verbal answer to our master and have done with it.”

And forthwith the whole bevy of public servants hustled Feng Su on, as they went on their way back; while every one in the Feng family was seized with consternation, and could not imagine what it was all about.

It was no earlier than the second watch, when Feng Su returned home; and they, one and all, pressed him with questions as to what had happened.

“The fact is,” he explained, “the newly-appointed Magistrate, whose surname is Chia, whose name is Huo and who is a native of Hu-chow, has been on intimate terms, in years gone by, with our son-in-law; that at the sight of the girl Chiao Hsing, standing at the door, in the act of buying thread, he concluded that he must have shifted his quarters over here, and hence it was that his messengers came to fetch him. I gave him a clear account of the various circumstances (of his misfortunes), and the Magistrate was for a time much distressed and expressed his regret. He then went on to make inquiries about my grand-daughter, and I explained that she had been lost, while looking at the illuminations. ‘No matter,’ put in the Magistrate,

‘I will by and by order my men to make search,

and I feel certain that they will find her and bring her back.’

Then ensued a short conversation,

after which I was about to go,

when he presented me with the sum of two taels.”

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