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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

The lightning is merely a mirror


[Hereon

the commentator, I Shih-shih, makes the following remark:--"That dragons play with pearls[84] I have always regarded as an old woman's tale. Is it possible, then, that the story is a fact? I have heard, too, that the thunder strikes only the guilty man;[85] and, if so, how could a virtuous official be visited with this dire calamity?"]

FOOTNOTES:

[83] That Chinaman thinks his a hard lot who cannot "eat till he is full." It may be noticed here that the Chinese seem not so much to enjoy the process of eating as the subsequent state of repletion. As a rule, they bolt their food, and get their enjoyment out of it afterwards.

[84] The full explanation and origin of this saying I have failed to elucidate. Dragons are often represented with pearls before their mouths; and these they are supposed to spit out or swallow as fancy may take them. The pearl, too, is said to be the essence of the dragon's nature, without which it would be powerless; but this is all I know about the subject.

[85] Such is the common belief in China at the present day. There is a God of Thunder who punishes wicked people; the lightning is merely a mirror, by the aid of which he singles out his victims.

LXXXII.

THE SEA-SERPENT.

A trader

named Chia was voyaging on the south seas, when one night it suddenly became as light as day on board his ship. Jumping up to see what was the matter, he beheld a huge creature with its body half out of the water, towering up like a hill. Its eyes resembled two suns, and threw a light far and wide; and when the trader asked the boatmen what it was, there was not one who could say. They all crouched down and watched it; and by-and-by the monster gradually disappeared in the water again, leaving everything in darkness as before. And when they reached port, they found all the people talking about a strange phenomenon of a great light that had appeared in the night, the time of which coincided exactly with the strange scene they themselves had witnessed.[86]

FOOTNOTE:

[86] The "sea-serpent" in this case was probably nothing more or less than some meteoric phenomenon.

LXXXIII.

THE MAGIC MIRROR.[87]

"... But if you would really like to have something that has belonged to me," said she, "you shall." Whereupon she took out a mirror and gave it to him, saying, "Whenever you want to see me, you must look for me in your books; otherwise I shall not be visible;"--and in a moment she had vanished. Liu went home very melancholy at heart; but when


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