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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Tan immediately became invisible


There is no fear that you would

do this, though even you might be tempted in certain ways." Mr. Han, finding all his efforts unavailing, flew into a great passion, and secretly arranged with his servants that they should give the magician a sound beating; and, in order to prevent his escape through the power of making himself invisible, he had his threshing-floor[218] covered with a fine ash-dust, so that at any rate his footsteps would be seen and the servants could strike just above them.[219] He then inveigled Tan to the appointed spot, which he had no sooner reached than Han's servants began to belabour him on all sides with leathern thongs. Tan immediately became invisible, but his footprints were clearly seen as he moved about hither and thither to avoid the blows, and the servants went on striking above them until finally he succeeded in getting away. Mr. Han then went home, and subsequently Tan reappeared and told the servants that he could stay there no longer, adding that before he went he intended to give them all a feast in return for many things they had done for him. And diving into his sleeve he brought forth a quantity of delicious meats and wines which he spread out upon the table, begging them to sit down and enjoy themselves. The servants did so, and one and all of them got drunk and insensible; upon which Tan picked each of them up and stowed them away in his sleeve. When Mr. Han heard of this, he begged Tan to perform some other trick; so Tan drew upon the wall a city, and knocking at the
gate with his hand it was instantly thrown open. He then put inside it his wallet and clothes, and stepping through the gateway himself, waved his hand and bade Mr. Han farewell. The city gates were now closed, and Tan vanished from their sight. It was said that he appeared again in Ch'ing-chou, where he taught little boys to paint a circle on their hands, and, by dabbing this on to another person's face or clothes, to imprint the circle on the place thus struck without a trace of it being left behind upon the hand.

FOOTNOTES:

[217] The perfect man, according to the Confucian standard.

[218] A large, smooth, area of concrete, to be seen outside all country houses of any size, and used for preparing the various kinds of grain.

[219] Compare--"The not uncommon practice of strewing ashes to show the footprints of ghosts or demons takes for granted that they are substantial bodies."--Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, Vol. I., p. 455.

CXVIII.

THE CENSOR IN PURGATORY.

Just beyond Feng-tu[220] there is a fathomless cave which is reputed to be the entrance to Purgatory. All the implements of torture employed therein are of human manufacture; old, worn-out gyves and fetters being occasionally found at the mouth of the cave, and as regularly replaced by new ones, which disappear the same night, and for which the magistrate of the district makes a formal charge[221] in his accounts.

Under the Ming dynasty, there was a certain Censor,[222] named Hua, whose duties brought him to this place; and hearing the story of the cave, he said he did not believe it, but would penetrate into it and see for himself. People tried to dissuade him from such an enterprise; however, he


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