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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Hsue was consulting his archives


[80]

A famous official who lived in the reign of Hung Wu, first Emperor of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1399). I have not been able to discover what was the particular act for which he has been celebrated as "loyal to the death."

LXXX.

THE STREAM OF CASH.

A certain gentleman's servant was one day in his master's garden, when he beheld a stream of cash[81] flowing by, two or three feet in breadth and of about the same depth. He immediately seized two large handfuls, and then threw himself down on the top of the stream in order to try and secure the rest. However, when he got up he found that it had all flowed away from under him, none being left except what he had got in his two hands.

["Ah!" says the commentator, "money is properly a circulating medium, and is not intended for a man to lie upon and keep all to himself."][82]

FOOTNOTES:

[81] See No. II., note 42.

[82] The Chinese, fond as they are of introducing water, under the form of miniature lakes, into their gardens and pleasure-grounds, do not approve of a running stream near the dwelling-house. I myself knew a case of a man, provided with a pretty little house, rent free, alongside of which ran a mountain-rill, who left the place and paid for lodgings

out of his own pocket rather than live so close to a stream which he averred _carried all his good luck away_. Yet this man was a fair scholar and a graduate to boot.

LXXXI.

THE INJUSTICE OF HEAVEN.

Mr. Hsue was a magistrate at Shantung. A certain upper chamber of his house was used as a store-room; but some creature managed so frequently to get in and make havoc among the stores, for which the servants were always being scolded, that at length some of the latter determined to keep watch. By-and-by they saw a huge spider as big as a peck measure, and hurried off to tell their master, who thought it so strange that he gave orders to the servants to feed the insect with cakes. It thus became very tame, and would always come forth when hungry, returning as soon as it had taken enough to eat.[83] Years passed away, and one day Mr. Hsue was consulting his archives, when suddenly the spider appeared and ran under the table. Thinking it was hungry, he bade his servants give it a cake; but the next moment he noticed two snakes, of about the thickness of a chop-stick, lying one on each side. The spider drew in its legs as if in mortal fear, and the snakes began to swell out until they were as big round as an egg; at which Mr. Hsue was greatly alarmed, and would have hurried away, when crash! went a peal of thunder, killing every person in the house. Mr. Hsue himself recovered consciousness after a little while, but only to see his wife and servants, seven persons in all, lying dead; and after a month's illness he, too, departed this life. Now Mr. Hsue was an upright, honourable man, who really had the interests of the people at heart. A subscription was accordingly raised to pay his funeral expenses, and on the day of his burial the air was rent for miles round with cries of weeping and lamentation.


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