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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Grows the peach tree of the angels


up in heaven in the Royal Mother's

garden,[170] and there we must try." "How are we to get up, father?" asked the boy; whereupon the man said, "I have the means," and immediately proceeded to take from his box a cord some tens of feet in length. This he carefully arranged, and then threw one end of it high up into the air where it remained as if caught by something. He now paid out the rope which kept going up higher and higher until the end he had thrown up disappeared in the clouds and only a short piece was left in his hands. Calling his son, he then explained that he himself was too heavy, and, handing him the end of the rope, bid him go up at once. The boy, however, made some difficulty, objecting that the rope was too thin to bear his weight up to such a height, and that he would surely fall down and be killed; upon which his father said that his promise had been given and that repentance was now too late, adding that if the peaches were obtained they would surely be rewarded with a hundred ounces of silver, which should be set aside to get the boy a pretty wife. So his son seized the rope and swarmed up, like a spider running up a thread of its web; and in a few moments he was out of sight in the clouds. By-and-by down fell a peach as large as a basin, which the delighted father handed up to his patrons on the dais who were some time coming to a conclusion whether it was real or imitation. But just then down came the rope with a run, and the affrighted father shrieked out, "Alas! alas! some one has cut the
rope: what will my boy do now?" and in another minute down fell something else, which was found on examination to be his son's head. "Ah me!" said he, weeping bitterly and shewing the head; "the gardener has caught him, and my boy is no more." After that, his arms, and legs, and body, all came down in like manner; and the father, gathering them up, put them in the box and said, "This was my only son, who accompanied me everywhere; and now what a cruel fate is his. I must away and bury him." He then approached the dais and said, "Your peach, gentlemen, was obtained at the cost of my boy's life; help me now to pay his funeral expenses, and I will be ever grateful to you." The officials who had been watching the scene in horror and amazement, forthwith collected a good purse for him; and when he had received the money, he rapped on his box and said, "Pa-pa'rh! why don't you come out and thank the gentlemen?" Thereupon, there was a thump on the box from the inside and up came the boy himself, who jumped out and bowed to the assembled company. I have never forgotten this strange trick, which I subsequently heard could be done by the White Lily sect,[171] who probably got it from this source.[172]

FOOTNOTES:

[168] It is worth noting that the author professes actually to have witnessed the following extraordinary scene.

[169] The vernal equinox, which would fall on or about the 20th of March.

[170] A fabulous lady, said to reside at the summit of the K'un-lun mountain, where, on the border of the Gem Lake, grows the peach-tree of the angels, the fruit of which confers immortality on him who eats it.


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