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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Lin felt a deadly thirst coming on


he owned about fifty acres

of land, half of which was covered with millet, and being well off, he did not consider that his drinking would bring him into trouble. One day a foreign Buddhist priest saw him, and remarked that he appeared to be suffering from some extraordinary complaint. Mr. Lin said nothing was the matter with him; whereupon the priest asked him if he often got drunk. Lin acknowledged that he did; and the priest told him that he was afflicted by the wine insect. "Dear me!" cried Lin, in great alarm, "do you think you could cure me?" The priest declared there would be no difficulty in doing so; but when Lin asked him what drugs he intended to use, the priest said he should not use any at all. He then made Lin lie down in the sun; and tying his hands and feet together, he placed a stoup of good wine about half a foot from his head. By-and-by, Lin felt a deadly thirst coming on; and the flavour of the wine passing through his nostrils, seemed to set his vitals on fire. Just then he experienced a tickling sensation in his throat, and something ran out of his mouth and jumped into the wine. On being released from his bonds, he saw that it was an insect about three inches in length, which wriggled about in the wine like a tadpole, and had mouth and eyes all complete. Lin was overjoyed, and offered money to the priest, who refused to take it, saying, all he wanted was the insect, which he explained to Lin was the essence of wine, and which, on being stirred up in water, would turn it into wine.
Lin tried this, and found it was so; and ever afterwards he detested the sight of wine. He subsequently became very thin, and so poor that he had hardly enough to eat and drink.[241]

FOOTNOTES:

[240] The ordinary "wine" of China is a spirit distilled from rice. See No. XCIII., note 122.

[241] The commentator would have us believe that Mr. Lin's fondness for wine was to him an element of health and happiness rather than a disease to be cured, and that the priest was wrong in meddling with the natural bent of his constitution.

CXXVII.

THE FAITHFUL DOG.

A certain man of Lu-ngan, whose father had been cast into prison, and was brought almost to death's door,[242] scraped together one hundred ounces of silver, and set out for the city to try and arrange for his parent's release. Jumping on a mule, he saw that a black dog, belonging to the family, was following him. He tried in vain to make the dog remain at home; and when, after travelling for some miles, he got off his mule to rest awhile, he picked up a large stone and threw it at the dog, which then ran off. However, he was no sooner on the road again, than up came the dog, and tried to stop the mule by holding on to its tail. His master beat it off with the whip; whereupon the dog ran barking loudly in front of the mule, and seemed to be using every means in its power to cause his master to stop. The latter thought this a very inauspicious omen, and turning upon the animal in a rage, drove it away out of sight. He now went on to the city; but when, in the dusk of the evening, he arrived there, he found that about half his money was gone. In a terrible state of mind he tossed about all night; then, all of a sudden, it flashed across him that the strange behaviour of the dog might possibly have some meaning; so getting up very early, he left the city as soon as the gates were open,[243] and though, from the number of passers-by, he never expected to find his money again, he went on until he reached the spot where he had got off his mule the day before. There he saw his dog lying dead upon the ground, its hair having apparently been wetted through with perspiration;[244] and, lifting up the body by one of its ears, he found his lost silver. Full of gratitude, he bought a coffin and buried the dead animal; and the people now call the place the Grave of the Faithful Dog.


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