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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

He then bade Ku close his eyes


and asked him what he meant

by spying about there. Ku didn't dare reply, but hurried past them as quickly as he could, and on to the pavilion of the young Prince. There he found him still sitting, but with a black beard over a foot in length; and the Prince was anxious to know where he had been, saying that seven scenes of the play were already over. He then seized a big goblet of wine, and made Ku drink it as a penalty, by which time the play was finished, and the list was handed up for a further selection. The "Marriage of P'eng Tsu" was selected, and then the singing-girls began to hand round the wine in cocoa-nuts big enough to hold about five quarts, which Ku declined, on the ground that he was suffering from weak eyes, and was consequently afraid to drink too much. "If your eyes are bad," cried the young Prince, "the Court physician is at hand, and can attend to you." Thereupon, one of the guests sitting to the east came forward, and opening Ku's eyes with his fingers, touched them with some white ointment, which he applied from the end of a jade pin. He then bade Ku close his eyes, and take a short nap; so the Prince had him conducted into a sleeping-room, where he found the bed so soft, and surrounded by such delicious perfume, that he soon fell into a deep slumber. By-and-by he was awaked by what appeared to be the clashing of cymbals, and fancied that the play was still going on; but on opening his eyes, he saw that it was only the inn-dog, which was licking an oilman's gong.[78] His ophthalmia,
however, was quite cured; and when he shut his eyes again he could see nothing.

FOOTNOTES:

[76] In Book V. of Mencius' works we read that Shun, the perfect man, stood with his face to the south, while the Emperor Yao (see No. VIII., note 63) and his nobles faced the north. This arrangement is said to have been adopted in deference to Shun's virtue; for in modern times the Emperor always sits facing the south.

[77] Name of a celebrated play.

[78] These are about as big as a cheese-plate and attached to a short stick, from which hangs suspended a small button of metal in such a manner as to clash against the face of the gong at every turn of the hand. The names and descriptions of various instruments employed by costermongers in China would fill a good-sized volume.

LXXVIII.

CHOU K'O-CH'ANG AND HIS GHOST.

At Huai-shang there lived a graduate named Chou T'ien-i, who, though fifty years of age, had but one son, called K'o-ch'ang, whom he loved very dearly. This boy, when about thirteen or fourteen, was a handsome, well-favoured fellow, strangely averse to study, and often playing truant from school, sometimes for the whole day, without any remonstrance on the part of his father. One day he went away and did not come back in the evening; neither, after a diligent search, could any traces of him be discovered. His father and mother were in despair, and hardly cared to live; but after a year and more had passed away, lo and behold! K'o-ch'ang returned, saying that he had been beguiled away by a Taoist priest, who, however, had not done him any harm, and that he had seized a moment while the priest was absent to escape and find his way home again. His father was delighted, and asked him no more questions, but set to work to give him an education; and K'o-ch'ang was so much cleverer and more intelligent than he had been before, that by the following year


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