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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Chia had indeed come to life again


year it was reported that Chia

had been recommended for a post in the Board of Civil Office,[58] and friends crowded the father's door, offering their congratulations upon the happy event. But the old man sighed and took to his bed, pretending he was too unwell to receive visitors. Before long another message came, informing them that Chia had fallen in with bandits while on his way home, and that he and all his retinue had been killed. Then his father arose and said, "Verily the Gods are good unto me, for they have visited his sins upon himself alone;" and he immediately proceeded to burn incense and return thanks. Some of his friends would have persuaded him that the report was probably untrue; but the old man had no doubts as to its correctness, and made haste to get ready his son's grave. But Chia was not yet dead. In the fatal fourth moon he had started on his journey and had fallen in with bandits, to whom he had offered all his money and valuables; upon which the latter cried out, "We have come to avenge the cruel wrongs of many hundreds of victims; do you imagine we want only _that_?" They then cut off his head, and the head of his wicked secretary, and the heads of several of his servants who had been foremost in carrying out his shameful orders, and were now accompanying him to the capital. They then divided the booty between them, and made off with all speed. Chia's soul remained near his body for some time, until at length a high mandarin passing by asked who it was that was lying there dead. One
of his servants replied that he had been a magistrate at such and such a place, and that his name was Pai. "What!" said the mandarin, "the son of old Mr. Pai? It is hard that his father should live to see such sorrow as this. Put his head on again."[59] Then a man stepped forward and placed Chia's head upon his shoulders again, when the mandarin interrupted him, saying, "A crooked-minded man should not have a straight body: put his head on sideways." By-and-by Chia's soul returned to its tenement; and when his wife and children arrived to take away the corpse, they found that he was still breathing. Carrying him home, they poured some nourishment down his throat, which he was able to swallow; but there he was at an out-of-the-way place, without the means of continuing his journey. It was some six months before his father heard the real state of the case, and then he sent off the second son to bring his brother home. Chia had indeed come to life again, but he was able to see down his own back, and was regarded ever afterwards more as a monstrosity than as a man. Subsequently the nephew, whom old Mr. Pai had seen sitting in state surrounded by officials, actually became an Imperial Censor, so that every detail of the dream was thus strangely realised.[60]

FOOTNOTES:

[54] Literally, "had been allotted the post of Nan-fu magistrate," such appointments being always determined by drawing lots.

[55] Such is one common explanation of catalepsy (see No. I., note 40), it being further averred that the proper lictors of the Infernal regions are unable to remain long in the _light_ of the upper world.

[56] Upon a wall at the entrance to every official residence is painted a huge fabulous animal, called _Greed_, in such a position that the resident mandarin must see it every time he goes out of his front gates. It is to warn him against greed and the crimes that are sure to flow from it.

[57] Such, indeed, is the case at the present day in China, and elsewhere.

[58] See No. VII., note 54.


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