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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Chou Kung was the first Emperor of the Chou dynasty


[112]

I consider the whole of the above a curious story to be found in a Chinese work exactly 200 years old, but no part of it more so than the forcible removal of some part of the clothing, which has been so prominent a feature in the _seances_ of our own day. It may be added that in many a court-yard in Peking will be found one or more trees, which cause the view from the city wall to be very pleasing to the eye, in spite of the filth and ruins which a closer inspection reveals.

[113] The arrangement being that of the hobby-horse of by-gone days.

[114] The couches of the north of China are brick beds, heated by a stove underneath, and covered with a mat. Upon one of these is generally a dwarf table and a couple of pillows; and here it is that the Chinaman loves to recline, his wine-kettle, opium-pipe, or teapot within reach, and a friend at his side, with whom he may converse far into the night.

[115] See No. LXXIII., note 63. Chang Fei was the bosom-friend of the last, and was his associate-commander in the wars of the Three Kingdoms. Chou Kung was the first Emperor of the Chou dynasty, and a pattern of wisdom and virtue. He is said by the Chinese to have invented the mariner's compass; but the legend will not bear investigation.

LXXXIX.

THE MYSTERIOUS HEAD.

justify;"> Several traders who were lodging at an inn in Peking, occupied a room which was divided from the adjoining apartment by a partition of boards from which a piece was missing, leaving an aperture about as big as a basin. Suddenly a girl's head appeared through the opening, with very pretty features and nicely dressed hair; and the next moment an arm, as white as polished jade. The traders were much alarmed, and, thinking it was the work of devils, tried to seize the head, which, however, was quickly drawn in again out of their reach. This happened a second time, and then, as they could see no body belonging to the head, one of them took a knife in his hand and crept up against the partition underneath the hole. In a little while the head re-appeared, when he made a chop at it and cut it off, the blood spurting out all over the floor and wall. The traders hurried off to tell the landlord, who immediately reported the matter to the authorities, taking the head with him, and the traders were forthwith arrested and examined; but the magistrate could make nothing of the case, and, as no one appeared for the prosecution, the accused, after about six months' incarceration, were accordingly released, and orders were given for the girl's head to be buried.

XC.

THE SPIRIT OF THE HILLS.

A man named Li, of I-tu, was once crossing the hills when he came upon a number of persons sitting on the ground engaged in drinking. As soon as they saw Li they begged him to join them, and vied with each other in filling his cup. Meanwhile, he looked about him and noticed that the various trays and dishes contained all kinds of costly food; the wine only seemed to him a little rough on the palate. In the middle of their fun up came a stranger with a face about three feet long and a very tall hat; whereupon the others were very much alarmed, and cried out, "The hill spirit! the hill spirit!" running away in all directions as fast as they could go. Li hid himself in a hole in the ground; and when by-and-by he peeped out to see what had happened, the wine and food had disappeared, and there was nothing there but a few dirty potsherds and some pieces of broken tiles with efts and lizards crawling over them.[116]


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