and these too proved a source of calamity so ordained by fate (to consummate this decree).
With promptness (the fire) extended to two buildings, then enveloped three, then dragged four (into ruin),
Shih-yin was in despair, but all he could do was to stamp his feet and heave deep sighs. After consulting with his wife,
they betook themselves to a farm of theirs, where they took up their quarters temporarily. But as it happened that water had of late years been scarce,
and no crops been reaped, robbers and thieves had sprung up like bees, and though the Government troops were bent upon their capture,
to enable him, after handing them over at the mansions of certain officials,
to find some place as a temporary home.
He accordingly despatched a servant to ask him to come round, but the man returned and reported that from what the bonze
said, “Mr. Chia had started on his journey to the capital,
at the fifth watch of that very morning, that he had also left a message with the bonze to deliver to you,
Sir, to the effect that men of letters paid no heed to lucky or unlucky days,
that the sole consideration with them was the nature of the matter in hand, and that he could find no time to come round in person and bid good-bye.”
This couple had only had this child, and this at the meridian of their life,
so that her sudden disappearance
plunged them in such great distress that day and night they mourned her loss to such a point as to well nigh pay no heed to their very lives.
A month in no time went by. Shih-yin was the first to fall ill, and his wife, Dame Feng, likewise, by dint of fretting for her daughter, was also prostrated with sickness.
The doctor was, day after day, sent for, and the oracle consulted by means of divination.
Little did any one think that on this day,
being the 15th of the 3rd moon,
footsteps far above the clouds! I must congratulate you! I must congratulate you! Let me, with my own hands, pour a glass of wine to pay you my compliments.”
Forthwith, he directed a servant lad to go and pack up at once fifty taels of pure silver and two suits of winter clothes.
“The nineteenth,” he continued, “is a propitious day, and you should lose no time in hiring a boat and starting on your journey westwards. And when, by your
eminent talents, you shall have soared high to a lofty position, and we meet again next winter, will not the occasion be extremely felicitous?”
Yü-ts’un accepted the money and clothes with but scanty expression of gratitude. In fact, he paid no thought whatever to the gifts, but went on, again drinking his wine, as he chattered and laughed.
composed by former writers, and what reason is there to laud me to such an excessive degree? To what, my dear Sir, do I owe the pleasure of your visit?”
he went on to inquire. “Tonight,” replied Shih-yin, “is the mid-autumn feast, generally known as the full-moon festival; and as I could not help thinking that living, as you my worthy brother are, as a mere stranger in this Buddhist temple,
At this very hour, in every house of the neighbourhood, sounded the fife and lute, while the inmates indulged in music and singing. Above head, the orb of the
radiant moon shone with an all-pervading splendour, and with a steady lustrous light, while the two friends, as their exuberance increased, drained their cups dry so soon as they reached their lips.
Yü-ts’un, at this stage of the collation, was considerably under the influence of wine, and the vehemence of his high spirits was irrepressible. As he gazed
at the moon, he fostered thoughts, to which he gave vent by the recital of a double couplet.
In time the mid-autumn festivities drew near; and Shih-yin, after the family banquet was over, had a separate table laid in the library, and crossed over, in the moonlight, as far as the temple and invited Yü-ts’un to come round.
Yü-ts’un having, after this recitation, recalled again to mind how that throughout his lifetime his literary attainments had had an adverse fate and not met with an opportunity (of reaping distinction), went on to rub his brow, and as he raised his eyes to the skies, he heaved a deep sigh and once more intoned a couplet aloud:
The gem in the cask a high price it seeks,
The pin in the case to take wing it waits.
your guest, and what will it matter if I wait a little?” While these apologies were yet being spoken, Shih-yin had already walked out into the front parlour. During
“This man so burly and strong,” she communed within herself, “yet at the same time got up in such poor attire, must, I expect, be no one else than the man,
whose name is Chia Yü-ts’un or such like, time after time referred to by my master, and to whom he has repeatedly wished to give a helping hand, but has
failed to find a favourable opportunity. And as related to our family there is no connexion or friend in such straits, I feel certain it cannot be any other person
than he. Strange to say, my master has further remarked that this man will, for a certainty, not always continue in such a state of destitution.”
As she indulged in this train of thought, she could not restrain herself from turning her head round once or twice.
When Yü-ts’un perceived that she had looked back, he readily interpreted it as a sign that in her heart her thoughts had been of him, and he was frantic with irrepressible joy.
“This girl,” he mused, “is, no doubt, keen-eyed and eminently shrewd, and one in this world who has seen through me.”
The servant youth, after a short time, came into the room;
“These two men,” Shih-yin then pondered within his heart, “must have had many experiences, and I ought really to have made more inquiries of them; but at this juncture to indulge in regret is anyhow too late.”
While Shih-yin gave way to these foolish reflections, he suddenly noticed the arrival of a penniless scholar, Chia by surname, Hua by name, Shih-fei by style
living by daily occupying himself in composing documents and writing letters for customers. Thus it was that Shih-yin had been in constant relations with him.
As soon as Yü-ts’un perceived Shih-yin, he lost no time in saluting him. “My worthy Sir,” he observed with a forced smile; “how is it you are leaning against the
door and looking out? Is there perchance any news astir in the streets, or in the public places?”
“None whatever,” replied Shih-yin, as he returned the smile. “Just a while back, my young daughter was in sobs, and I coaxed her out here to amuse her. I am just now without anything whatever to attend to, so that, dear brother Chia, you
come just in the nick of time. Please walk into my mean abode, and let us endeavour, in each other’s company, to while away this long summer day.”
After he had made this remark, he bade a servant take his daughter in, while he, hand-in-hand with Yü-ts’un, walked into the library, where a young page served tea.
and extensive caverns; and when of a sudden the wind agitates it or it be impelled by the clouds, and any slight disposition, on its part, supervenes to set itself in
motion, or to break its bounds, and so little as even the minutest fraction does
unexpectedly find an outlet, and happens to come across any spirit of perception and subtlety which may be at the time passing by, the spirit of right does not yield
to the spirit of evil, and the spirit of evil is again envious of the spirit of right, so that the two do not harmonize. Just like wind, water, thunder and lightning, which, when they meet in the bowels of the earth, must necessarily, as they are both to
menials, or contentedly brook to be of the common herd or to be driven and curbed like a horse in harness. They will become, for a certainty, either actors of
note or courtesans of notoriety; as instanced in former years by Hsü Yu, T’ao Ch’ien, Yuan Chi, Chi Kang, Liu Ling, the two families of Wang and Hsieh, Ku Hu-
t’ou, Ch’en Hou-chu, T’ang Ming-huang, Sung Hui-tsung, Liu T’ing-chih, Wen Fei-ching, Mei Nan-kung, Shih Man-ch’ing, Lui C’hih-ch’ing and Chin Shao-yu, and
exemplified now-a-days by Ni Yün-lin, T’ang Po-hu, Chu Chih-shan, and also by Li Kuei-men, Huang P’an-cho, Ching Hsin-mo, Cho Wen-chün; and the women
Hung Fu, Hsieh T’ao, Ch’ü Ying, Ch’ao Yün and others; all of whom were and are of the same stamp, though placed in different scenes of action.”
Like maniacs, they jostled along, chattering and laughing as they drew near.
As soon as they reached Shih-yin’s door, and they perceived him with Ying Lien in his arms, the Bonze began to weep aloud.
He then gave utterance to the four lines that follow:
You indulge your tender daughter and are laughed at as inane;
Vain you face the snow, oh mirror! for it will evanescent wane,
When the festival of lanterns is gone by, guard ‘gainst your doom,
’Tis what time the flames will kindle, and the fire will consume.
Shih-yin understood distinctly the full import of what he heard; but his heart was still full of conjectures. He was about to inquire who and what they were, when he heard the Taoist remark,—“You and I cannot speed together; let us now part company, and each of us will be then able to go after his own business. After the lapse of three ages,
responded: “Of the human beings created by the operation of heaven and earth, if we exclude those who are gifted with extreme benevolence and extreme
natural fruit. Malignity and perversity constitute the spirit of evil, which permeates heaven and earth, and malicious persons are affected by its influence. The days of perpetual happiness and eminent good fortune, and the era of perfect peace
and tranquility, which now prevail, are the offspring of the pure, intelligent, divine
and subtle spirit which ascends above, to the very Emperor, and below reaches the rustic and uncultured classes. Every one is
without exception under its influence. The superfluity of the subtle spirit expands far and wide, and finding nowhere to betake itself to, becomes, in due course,