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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Chia was amazed when he heard all this


replied that Mr. Lang was afraid

her husband would be lonely, and had sent an old woman to guide her to him. Just then they heard the old man outside in a towering rage, and Chia's wife, not knowing where to conceal herself, jumped over a low wall near by and disappeared. In came the old man, and gave Lang a severe beating before Chia's face, bidding him at once to get rid of his visitor; so Lang led Chia away over the low wall, saying, "I knew how anxious you were to consummate your immortality, and accordingly I tried to hurry things on a bit; but now I see that your time has not yet come: hence this beating I have had. Good-by: we shall meet again some day." He then shewed Chia the way to his home, and waving his hand bade him farewell. Chia looked down--for he was in the moon--and beheld the old familiar village and recollecting that his wife was not a good walker and would not have got very far, hurried on to overtake her. Before long he was at his own door, but he noticed that the place was all tumble-down and in ruins, and not as it was when he went away. As for the people he saw, old and young alike, he did not recognise one of them; and recollecting the story of how Liu and Yuean came back from heaven,[68] he was afraid to go in at the door. So he sat down and rested outside; and after a while an old man leaning on a staff came out, whereupon Chia asked him which was the house of Mr. Chia. "This is it," replied the old man; "you probably wish to hear the extraordinary story connected with the family?
I know all about it. They say that Mr. Chia ran away just after he had taken his master's degree, when his son was only seven or eight years old; and that about seven years afterwards the child's mother went into a deep sleep from which she did not awake. As long as her son was alive he changed his mother's clothes for her according to the seasons, but when he died, her grandsons fell into poverty, and had nothing but an old shanty to put the sleeping lady into. Last month she awaked, having been asleep for over a hundred years. People from far and near have been coming in great numbers to hear the strange story; of late, however, there have been rather fewer." Chia was amazed when he heard all this, and, turning to the old man, said, "I am Chia Feng-chih." This astonished the old man very much, and off he went to make the announcement to Chia's family. The eldest grandson was dead; and the second, a man of about fifty, refused to believe that such a young-looking man was really his grandfather; but in a few moments out came Chia's wife, and she recognised her husband at once. They then fell upon each other's necks and mingled their tears together.

[After which the story is drawn out to a considerable length, but is quite devoid of interest.][69]

FOOTNOTES:

[65] This being a long and tedious story, I have given only such part of it as is remarkable for its similarity to Washington Irving's famous narrative.

[66] See No. IV., note 46.

[67] Borrowed from Buddhism.

[68] Alluding to a similar story, related in the _Record of the Immortals_, of how these two friends lost their way while gathering simples on the hills, and were met and entertained by two lovely young damsels for the space of half-a-year. When, however, they subsequently returned home, they found that ten generations had passed away.

[69] Besides the above, there is the story of a man named Wang, who, wandering one day in the mountains, came upon some old men playing a game of _wei-ch'i_ (see _Appendix_); and after watching them for some time, he found that the handle of an axe he had with him had mouldered away into dust. Seven generations of men had passed away in the interval. Also, a similar legend of a horseman, who, when riding over the hills, saw several old men playing a game with rushes, and tied his horse to a tree while he himself approached to observe them. A few minutes afterwards he turned to depart, but found only the skeleton of his horse and the rotten remnants of the saddle and bridle. He then sought his home, but that was gone too; and so he laid himself down upon the ground and died of a broken heart.


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