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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Hsue meanwhile not catching a single fish


but run behind a tree which

stood close by, and there shelter himself, dodging to the right as the corpse dodged to the left, and so on. This infuriated the dead girl to madness; and at length, as tired and panting they stood watching each other on opposite sides of the tree, the corpse made a rush forward with one arm on each side in the hope of thus grabbing its victim. The traveller, however, fell backwards and escaped, while the corpse remained rigidly embracing the tree. By-and-by the priest, who had been listening from the inside, hearing no sounds for some time, came out and found the traveller lying senseless on the ground; whereupon he had him carried into the monastery, and by morning they had got him round again. After giving him a little broth to drink, he related the whole story; and then in the early dawn they went out to examine the tree, where they found the girl fixed tightly to the tree. The news being sent to the magistrate, that functionary attended at once in person,[175] and gave orders to remove the body; but this they were at first unable to do, the girl's fingers having penetrated into the bark so far that her nails were not to be seen. At length they got her away, and then a messenger was despatched to the inn, already in a state of great commotion over the three travellers, who had been found dead in their beds. The old man accordingly sent to fetch his daughter-in-law; and the surviving traveller petitioned the magistrate, saying, "Four of us left home, but only one will go back.
Give me something that I may show to my fellow-townsmen." So the magistrate gave him a certificate and sent him home again.[176]

FOOTNOTES:

[174] This instrument, used by Buddhist priests in the musical accompaniment to their liturgies, is said to be so called because a fish never closes its eyes, and is therefore a fit model of vigilance to him who would walk in the paths of holiness and virtue.

[175] The duties of Coroner belong to the office of a District Magistrate in China.

[176] Without such certificate he would be liable to be involved in trouble and annoyance at the will of any unfriendly neighbour.

CVII.

THE FISHERMAN AND HIS FRIEND.

In the northern parts of Tz[)u]-chou there lived a man named Hsue, a fisherman by trade. Every night when he went to fish he would carry some wine with him, and drink and fish by turns, always taking care to pour out a libation on the ground, accompanied by the following invocation:--"Drink too, ye drowned spirits of the river!" Such was his regular custom; and it was also noticeable that, even on occasions when the other fishermen caught nothing, he always got a full basket. One night, as he was sitting drinking by himself, a young man suddenly appeared and began walking up and down near him. Hsue offered him a cup of wine, which was readily accepted, and they remained chatting together throughout the night, Hsue meanwhile not catching a single fish. However, just as he was giving up all hope of doing anything, the young man rose and said he would go a little way down the stream and beat them up towards Hsue, which he accordingly did, returning in a few minutes and warning him to be on the look-out. Hsue now heard a noise like that of a shoal coming up the


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