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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

So Liang ss u sat down again


"An ace and a deuce on one side, just equal a three on the other: For Fan a chicken was boiled, though three years had passed, by Chang's mother.[126] Thus friends love to meet!"

Then the young musician threw, and turned up two twos and a four; whereupon he exclaimed, "Don't laugh at the feeble allusion of an unlearned fellow like me:--

'Two deuces are equal to a four: Four men united their valour in the old city.[127] Thus brothers love to meet!'"

Mr. Rushten followed with two aces and a two, and recited these lines:--

"Two aces are equal to a two: Lu-hsiang stretched out his two arms and embraced his father.[128] Thus father and son love to meet!"

Liang then threw, and turned up the same as Mr. Rushten; whereupon he said:--

"Two aces are equal to a two: Mao-jung regaled Lin-tsung with two baskets.[129] Thus host and guest love to meet!"

When the _partie_ was over Liang-ss[)u] rose to go, but Mr. Rushten said, "Dear me! why are you in such a hurry; we haven't had a moment to speak of the old place. Please stay: I was just going to ask you a few questions." So Liang-ss[)u] sat down again, and Mr. Rushten proceeded.

"I had an old friend," said he, "who was drowned in the Tung-t'ing lake. He bore the same name as yourself; was he a relative?" "He was my father," replied Liang-ss[)u]; "how did you know him?" "We were friends as boys together; and when he was drowned, I recovered and buried his body by the river-side."[130] Liang-ss[)u] here burst into tears, and thanked Mr. Rushten very warmly, begging him to point out his father's grave. "Come again to-morrow," said Mr. Rushten, "and I will shew it to you. You could easily find it yourself. It is close by here, and has ten stalks of water-rush growing on it." Liang-ss[)u] now took his leave, and went back to his boat, but he could not sleep for thinking of what Mr. Rushten had told him; and at length, without waiting for the dawn, he set out to look for the grave. To his great astonishment, the house where he had spent the previous evening had disappeared; but hunting about in the direction indicated by Mr. Rushten, he found a grave with ten water-rushes growing on it, precisely as Mr. Rushten had described. It then flashed across him that Mr. Rushten's name had a special meaning, and that he had been holding converse with none other than the disembodied spirit of his own father. And, on inquiring of the people of the place, he learnt that twenty years before a benevolent old gentleman, named Kao, had been in the habit of collecting the bodies of persons found drowned, and burying them in that spot. Liang then opened the grave, and carried off his father's remains to his own home, where his grandmother, to whom he described Mr. Rushten's appearance, confirmed the suspicion he himself had formed. It also turned out that the young musician was a cousin of his, who had been drowned when nineteen years of age; and then he recollected that the boy's father had subsequently gone to Kiang-si, and that his mother had died there, and had been buried at the Bamboo Bridge, to which Mr. Rushten had alluded in his song. But he did not know who the old man was.[131]

FOOTNOTES:

[120] This would be regarded as a very meritorious act by the Chinese.

[121] The Byron of China.

[122] Chinese wine--or, more correctly, _spirits_--is always taken hot; hence the term wine-kettle, which frequently occurs in these pages.


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