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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Adds the great commentator I Shih shih

["Feng-Shui," adds the great commentator I Shih-shih, "may or may not be based upon sound principles; at any rate, to indulge a morbid belief in it is utter folly; and thus to join issue and fight while a coffin is relegated to the roadside, is hardly in accordance with the doctrines of filial piety or fraternal love. Can people believe that mere position will improve the fortunes of their family? At any rate, that two women should have thus quietly settled the matter is certainly worthy of record."]


[312] Literally, "wind and water," or that which cannot be seen and that which cannot be grasped. I have explained the term in my _Chinese Sketches_, p. 143, as "a system of geomancy, by the _science_ of which it is possible to determine the desirability of sites,--whether of tombs, houses, or cities, from the configuration of such natural objects as rivers, trees, and hills, and to foretell with certainty the fortunes of any family, community, or individual, according to the spot selected; by the _art_ of which it is in the power of the geomancer to counteract evil influences by good ones, to transform straight and noxious outlines into undulating and propitious curves, and rescue whole districts from the devastations of flood or pestilence."

[313] As a rule, only the daughters of wealthy families receive any education to speak of.

style="text-align: justify;">[314] A reprehensible proceeding in the eyes of all respectable Chinese, both from a moral and a practical point of view; "for when brothers fall out," says the proverb, "strangers get an advantage over them."



There was a man in our village who led an exceedingly disreputable life. One morning when he got up rather early, two men appeared, and led him away to the market-place, where he saw a butcher hanging up half a pig. As they approached, the two men shoved him with all their might against the dead animal, and lo! his own flesh began to blend with the pork before him, while his conductors hurried off in an opposite direction. By-and-by the butcher wanted to sell a piece of his meat; and seizing a knife, began to cut off the quantity required. At every touch of the blade our disreputable friend experienced a severe pang, which penetrated into his very marrow; and when, at length, an old man came and haggled over the weight given him, crying out for a little bit more fat, or an extra portion of lean,[315] then, as the butcher sliced away the pork ounce by ounce, the pain was unendurable in the extreme. By about nine o'clock the pork was all sold, and our hero went home, whereupon his family asked him what he meant by staying in bed so late.[316] He then narrated all that had taken place, and on making inquiries, they found that the pork-butcher had only just come home; besides which our friend was able to tell him every pound of meat he had sold, and every slice he had cut off. Fancy a man being put to the lingering death[317] like this before breakfast!


[315] Chinese tradesmen invariably begin by giving short weight in such transactions as these, partly in order to be in a position to gratify the customer by throwing in a trifle more and thus acquire a reputation for fair dealing.

[316] It was only his soul that had left the house.

[317] See No. LVI., note 322.



Wang Tz[)u]-ngan

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