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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

While anchored on the Tung t'ing lake


occasion, while anchored on

the Tung-t'ing lake, they saw a dolphin[31] floating on the surface of the water; and General Chia took his bow and shot at it, wounding the creature in the back. A fish was hanging on to its tail, and would not let go; so both were pulled out of the water together, and attached to the mast. There they lay gasping, the dolphin opening its mouth as if pleading for life, until at length young Ch'en begged the General to let them go again; and then he himself half jokingly put a piece of plaster upon the dolphin's wound, and had the two thrown back into the water, where they were seen for some time afterwards diving and rising again to the surface. About a year afterwards, Ch'en was once more crossing the Tung-t'ing lake on his way home, when the boat was upset in a squall, and he himself only saved by clinging to a bamboo crate, which finally, after floating about all night, caught in the overhanging branch of a tree, and thus enabled him to scramble on shore. By-and-by, another body floated in, and this turned out to be his servant; but on dragging him out, he found life was already extinct. In great distress, he sat himself down to rest, and saw beautiful green hills and waving willows, but not a single human being of whom he could ask the way. From early dawn till the morning was far advanced he remained in that state; and then, thinking he saw his servant's body move, he stretched out his hand to feel it, and before long the man threw up several quarts of water and recovered
his consciousness. They now dried their clothes in the sun, and by noon these were fit to put on; at which period the pangs of hunger began to assail them, and accordingly they started over the hills in the hope of coming upon some habitation of man. As they were walking along, an arrow whizzed past, and the next moment two young ladies dashed by on handsome palfreys. Each had a scarlet band round her head, with a bunch of pheasant's feathers stuck in her hair, and wore a purple riding-jacket with small sleeves, confined by a green embroidered girdle round the waist. One of them carried a cross-bow for shooting bullets, and the other had on her arm a dark-coloured bow-and-arrow case. Reaching the brow of the hill, Ch'en beheld a number of riders engaged in beating the surrounding cover, all of whom were beautiful girls and dressed exactly alike. Afraid to advance any further, he inquired of a youth who appeared to be in attendance, and the latter told him that it was a hunting party from the palace; and then, having supplied him with food from his wallet, he bade him retire quickly, adding that if he fell in with them he would assuredly be put to death. Thereupon Ch'en hurried away; and descending the hill, turned into a copse where there was a building which he thought would in all probability be a monastery. On getting nearer, he saw that the place was surrounded by a wall, and between him and a half-open red-door was a brook spanned by a stone bridge leading up to it. Pulling back the door, he beheld within a number of ornamental buildings circling in the air like so many clouds, and for all the world resembling the Imperial pleasure-grounds; and thinking it must be the park of some official personage, he walked quietly in, enjoying the delicious fragrance


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