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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

This is commonly called ta hsue pa


[242] In an entry on torture (see No. LXXIII., note 62), which occurs in my _Glossary of Reference_, I made the following statement:--"The real tortures of a Chinese prison are the filthy dens in which the unfortunate victims are confined, the stench in which they have to draw breath, the fetters and manacles by which they are secured, the absolute insufficiency even of the disgusting rations doled out to them, and above all the mental agony which must ensue in a country with no _Habeas corpus_ to protect the lives and fortunes of its citizens."

[243] For a small bribe, the soldiers at the gates of a Chinese city will usually pass people in and out by means of a ladder placed against the wall at some convenient spot.

[244] I believe it is with us only a recently determined fact that dogs perspire through the skin.



In 1668 there was a very severe earthquake.[245] I myself was staying at Chi-hsia, and happened to be that night sitting over a kettle of wine with my cousin Li Tu. All of a sudden we heard a noise like thunder, travelling from the south-east in a north-westerly direction. We were much astonished at this, and quite unable to account for the noise; in another moment the table began to rock, and the wine-cups were upset; the beams and supports of the house snapped here and there with a crash, and we looked at each other in fear and trembling. By-and-by we knew that it was an earthquake; and, rushing out, we saw houses and other buildings, as it were, fall down and get up again; and, amidst the sounds of crushing walls, we heard the shrieks of women and children, the whole mass being like a great seething cauldron. Men were giddy and could not stand, but rolled about on the ground; the river overflowed its banks; cocks crowed, and dogs barked from one end of the city to the other. In a little while the quaking began to subside; and then might be seen men and women running half naked about the streets, all anxious to tell their own experiences, and forgetting that they had on little or no clothing. I subsequently heard that a well was closed up and rendered useless by this earthquake; that a house was turned completely round, so as to face the opposite direction; that the Chi-hsia hill was riven open, and that the waters of the I river flowed in and made a lake of an acre and more. Truly such an earthquake as this is of rare occurrence.


[245] The exact date is given,--the 17th of the 6th moon, which would probably fall towards the end of June.



The tricks for bewitching people are many. Sometimes drugs are put in their food, and when they eat they become dazed, and follow the person who has bewitched them. This is commonly called _ta hsue pa_; in Kiang-nan it is known as _ch'e hsue_. Little children are most frequently bewitched in this way. There is also what is called "making animals," which is better known on the south side of the River.[246]

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