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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Lin tsung had the good sense to be charmed


[123]

The Magistrate; who is supposed to be towards the people what a father is to his children.

[124] This singularly un-Chinese surname is employed to keep up a certain play upon words which exists in the original, and which is important to the _denouement_ of the story. "River" is the simple translation of a name actually in use.

[125] Chinese dice are the exact counterpart of our own, except that the ace and the four are coloured red: the ace because the combination of black and white would be unlucky, and the four because this number once turned up in response to the call of an Emperor of the T'ang dynasty, who particularly wanted a four to win him the _partie_. All letters, despatches, and such documents, have invariably something _red_ about them, this being the lucky colour, and to the Chinese, emblematic of prosperity and joy.

[126] Alluding to an ancient story of a promise by a Mr. Fan that he would be at his friend Chang's house that day three years. When the time drew near, Chang's mother ridiculed the notion of a man keeping a three years' appointment; but, acceding to her son's instances, prepared a boiled chicken, which was barely ready when Fan arrived to eat of it.

[127] Alluding to the celebrated oath of confederation sworn in the peach garden between Kuan Yue, or Kuan Ti (see No. I., note 39), Chang Fei (see No. LXIII., note 2),

Liu Pei, who subsequently proclaimed himself Emperor, A.D. 221, and Chu-ko Liang, his celebrated minister, to whose sage counsels most of the success of the undertaking was due. The whole story is one of the best known of Chinese historical romances, bringing about, as it did, the downfall of the famous Han dynasty, which had endured for over 400 years.

[128] Alluding to the story of a young man who went in search of his missing father.

[129] Lin-tsung saw his host kill a chicken which he thought was destined for himself. However, Mao-jung served up the dainty morsel to his mother, while he and his guest regaled themselves with two baskets of common vegetables. At this instance of filial piety, Lin-tsung had the good sense to be charmed.

[130] The Chinese recognise no act more worthy a virtuous man than that of burying stray bones, covering up exposed coffins, and so forth. By such means the favour of the Gods is most surely obtained, to say nothing of the golden opinions of the living.

[131] This is merely our author's way of putting the question of the old man's identity. He was the Spirit of the Waters--his name, it will be recollected, was River--just, in fact, as we say Old Father Thames.

XCIV.

THE BOAT-GIRL BRIDE.

Wang Kuli-ngan was a young man of good family. It happened once when he was travelling southwards, and had moored his boat to the bank, that he saw in another boat close by a young boat-girl embroidering shoes. He was much struck by her beauty, and continued gazing at her for some time, though she took not the slightest notice of him. By-and-by he began singing--


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