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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

And Niu took her by the ear and began to revile her


again and left us, and had it

not been for my aunt our corpses would long ago have been cast out in the kennel." Then the pawnbroker was much moved, and cried out, "I am your father!" seizing his son's hand and leading him within to see his step-mother. This lady was about twenty-two, and, having no children of her own, was delighted with Chung, and prepared a banquet for him in the inner apartments. Mr. Niu himself was, however, somewhat melancholy, and wished to return to his old home; but his wife, fearing that there would be no one to manage the business, persuaded him to remain; so he taught his son the trade, and in three months was able to leave it all to him. He then prepared for his journey, whereupon Chung informed his step-mother that his father was really dead, to which she replied in great consternation that she knew him only as a trader to the place, and that six years previously he had married her, which proved conclusively that he couldn't be dead. He then recounted the whole story, which was a perfect mystery to both of them; and twenty-four hours afterwards in walked his father, leading a woman whose hair was all dishevelled. Chung looked at her and saw that she was his own mother; and Niu took her by the ear and began to revile her, saying, "Why did you desert my children?" to which the wretched woman made no reply. He then bit her across the neck, at which she screamed to Chung for assistance, and he, not being able to bear the sight, stepped in between them. His father was more than ever
enraged at this, when, lo! Chung's mother had disappeared. While they were still lost in astonishment at this strange scene, Mr. Niu's colour changed; in another moment his empty clothes had dropped upon the ground, and he himself became a black vapour and also vanished from their sight. The step-mother and son were much overcome; they took Niu's clothes and buried them, and after that Chung continued his father's business and soon amassed great wealth. On returning to his native place he found that his mother had actually died on the very day of the above occurrence, and that his father had been seen by the whole family.

FOOTNOTE:

[30] Unless under exceptional circumstances it is not considered creditable in China for widows to marry again. It may here be mentioned that the honorary tablets conferred from time to time by His Imperial Majesty upon virtuous widows are only given to women who, widowed before the age of thirty, have remained in that state for a period of thirty years. The meaning of this is obvious: temptations are supposed to be fewer and less dangerous after thirty, which is the equivalent of forty with us; and it is wholly improbable that thirty years of virtuous life, at which period the widow would be at least fifty, would be followed by any act that might cast a stain upon the tablet thus bestowed.

LXIX.

THE PRINCESS OF THE TUNG-T'ING LAKE.

Ch'en Pi-chiao was a Pekingese; and being a poor man he attached himself as secretary to the suite of a high military official named Chia. On one


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