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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Ch'en found his name among the successful candidates


lot, and unfit for the posthumous

honours you would thus confer on them." Ch'en next asked him whither he was going; and Ch'u replied that he hoped, through the agency of his cousin, who was a clerk in Purgatory, to be born again in old Mr. Lue's family. They then bade each other adieu; and, when morning came, Ch'en set off to call on Miss Li, the singing-girl; but on reaching her house he found that she had been dead some days.[102] He walked on to the gardens, and there he saw traces of verses that had been written on the walls, and evidently rubbed out, so as to be hardly decipherable. In a moment it flashed across him that the verses and their composers belonged to the other world. Towards evening Ch'u re-appeared in high spirits, saying that he had succeeded in his design, and had come to wish Ch'en a long farewell. Holding out his open palms, he requested Ch'en to write the word _Ch'u_ on each; and then, after refusing to take a parting cup, he went away, telling Ch'en that the examination-list would soon be out, and that they would meet again before long. Ch'en brushed away his tears and escorted him to the door, where a man, who had been waiting for him, laid his hand on Ch'u's head and pressed it downwards until Ch'u was perfectly flat. The man then put him in a sack and carried him off on his back. A few days afterwards the list came out, and, to his great joy, Ch'en found his name among the successful candidates; whereupon he immediately started off to visit his old tutor, Mr. Lue.[103] Now Mr. Lue's
wife had had no children for ten years, being about fifty years of age, when suddenly she gave birth to a son, who was born with both fists doubled up so that no one could open them. On his arrival Ch'en begged to see the child, and declared that inside its hands would be found written the word Ch'u. Old Mr. Lue laughed at this; but no sooner had the child set eyes on Ch'en than both its fists opened spontaneously, and there was the word as Ch'en had said. The story was soon told, and Ch'en went home, after making a handsome present to the family; and later on, when Mr. Lue went up for his doctor's degree[104] and stayed at Ch'en's house, his son was thirteen years old, and had already matriculated as a candidate for literary honours.

FOOTNOTES:

[91] Buddhist priests not unusually increase the revenue of their monastery by taking pupils; and it is only fair to them to add that the curriculum is strictly secular, the boys learning precisely what they would at an ordinary school and nothing else.

[92] These consist simply of thin slips of wood dipped in brimstone, and resemble those used in England as late as the first quarter of the present century. They are said to have been invented by the people of Hang-chou, the capital of Chekiang; but it is quite possible that the hint may have first reached China from the west. They were called _yin kuang_ "bring light," (_cf._ _lucifer_), _fa chu_ "give forth illumination," and other names. Lucifer matches are now generally spoken of as _tz[)u] lai huo_ "self-come fire," and are almost universally employed, except in remote parts where the flint and steel still hold sway.


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