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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Tung asked what plan he could suggest


to have a look at the weapon.

Tung handed it to him, and, when he had turned it over two or three times, he said, "This is a very inferior piece of steel; now, though I know nothing about broad-sword myself, I have a weapon which is really of some use." He then drew from beneath his coat a sword of a foot or so in length, and with it he began to pare pieces off Tung's sword, which seemed as soft as a melon, and which he cut quite away like a horse's hoof. Tung was greatly astonished, and borrowed the other's sword to examine it, returning it after carefully wiping the blade. He then invited T'ung to his house, and made him stay the night; and, after begging him to explain the mystery of his sword, began to nurse his leg and sit listening respectfully without saying a word. It was already pretty late, when suddenly there was a sound of scuffling next door, where Tung's father lived; and, on putting his ear to the wall, he heard an angry voice saying, "Tell your son to come here at once, and then I will spare you." This was followed by other sounds of beating and a continued groaning, in a voice which Tung knew to be his father's. He therefore seized a spear, and was about to rush forth, but T'ung held him back, saying, "You'll be killed for a certainty if you go. Let us think of some other plan." Tung asked what plan he could suggest; to which the other replied, "The robbers are killing your father: there is no help for you; but as you have no brothers, just go and tell your wife and children what your last
wishes are, while I try and rouse the servants." Tung agreed to this, and ran in to tell his wife, who clung to him and implored him not to go, until at length all his courage had ebbed away, and he went upstairs with her to get his bow and arrows ready to resist the robbers' attack. At that juncture he heard the voice of his friend T'ung, outside on the eaves of the house, saying, with a laugh, "All right; the robbers have gone;" but on lighting a candle, he could see nothing of him. He then stole out to the front door, where he met his father with a lantern in his hand, coming in from a party at a neighbour's house; and the whole court-yard was covered with the ashes of burnt grass, whereby he knew that T'ung the traveller was himself a supernatural.[90]

FOOTNOTES:

[88] Besides the all-important aspirate, this name is pronounced in a different _tone_ from the first-mentioned "Tung;" and is moreover expressed in writing by a totally different character. To a Chinese ear, the two words are as unlikely to be confounded as Brown and Jones.

[89] The Four Seas are supposed by the Chinese to bound the habitable portions of the earth, which, by the way, they further believe to be square. In the centre of all is China, extending far and wide in every direction, the eye of the universe, the Middle Kingdom. Away at a distance from her shores lie a number of small islands, wherein dwell such barbarous nations as the English, French, Dutch, etc.

[90] The commentator, I Shih-shih, adds a note to this story which might be summed up in our own--

"The [wo]man that deliberates is lost."

LXXXV.

THE DISEMBODIED FRIEND.

Mr. Ch'en, M.A., of Shun-t'ien Fu, when a boy of sixteen, went to school at a Buddhist temple.[91] There were a great many scholars besides himself, and, among others, one named


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