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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

And killed Kuo Ngan 293 in mistake for his enemy


[292]

This disgusting process is too frequently performed by native butchers at the present day, in order to give their meat a more tempting appearance. Water is also blown in through a tube, to make it heavier; and inexperienced housekeepers are often astonished to find how light ducks and geese become after being cooked, not knowing that the fraudulent poulterer had previously stuffed their throats as full as possible of sand.

CXLVI.

SINGULAR VERDICT.

A servant in the employ of a Mr. Sun was sleeping alone one night, when all on a sudden he was arrested and carried before the tribunal of the Ruler of Purgatory. "This is not the right man," cried his Majesty, and immediately sent him back. However, after this the servant was afraid to sleep on that bed again, and took up his quarters elsewhere. But another servant, named Kuo Ngan, seeing the vacant place, went and occupied it. A third servant, named Li Lu, who had an old standing grudge against the first, stole up to the bed that same night with a knife in his hand, and killed Kuo Ngan[293] in mistake for his enemy. Kuo's father at once brought the case before the magistrate of the place, pleading that the murdered man was his only son on whom he depended for his living; and the magistrate decided that Kuo was to take Li Lu in the place of his dead son, much to the discomfiture of the old man.

Truly the descent of the first servant into Purgatory was not so marvellous as the magistrate's decision!

FOOTNOTE:

[293] This was the man whose destiny it was really to die just then, and appear before the Ruler of Purgatory.

CXLVII.

THE GRATEFUL DOG.

A certain trader who had been doing business at Wu-hu and was returning home with the large profits he had made, saw on the river bank a butcher tying up a dog.[294] He bought the animal for much more than its value, and carried it along with him in his boat. Now the boatman had formerly been a bandit; and, tempted by his passenger's wealth, ran the boat among the rushes, and, drawing a knife, prepared to slay him. The trader begged the man to leave him a whole skin;[295] so the boatman wrapped him up in a carpet and threw him into the river. The dog, on seeing what was done, whined piteously, and jumping into the river, seized the bundle with his teeth and did its best to keep the trader above water until at length a shallow spot was reached. The animal then succeeded by continuous barking in attracting the attention of some people on the bank, and they hauled the bundle out of the river, and released the trader who was still alive. The latter asked to be taken back to Wu-hu where he might look out for the robber boatman; but just as he was about to start, lo! the dog was missing. The trader was much distressed at this; and after spending some days at Wu-hu without being able to find, among the forest of masts collected there, the particular boat he wanted, he was on the point of returning home with a friend, when suddenly the dog re-appeared and seemed by its barking to invite its master to follow in a certain direction. This the trader did, until at length the dog jumped on a boat and seized one of the boatmen by the leg. No beating could make the animal let go; and on looking closely at the man, the trader saw he was the identical boatman who had robbed and tried to murder him. He had changed his clothes and also his boat, so that at first he was not recognisable; he was now, however, arrested, and the whole of the money was found in his boat. To think that a dog could show gratitude like that! Truly there are not a few persons who would be put to shame by that faithful animal.[296]


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