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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

On proceeding to the magistrate's yamen


gave them both a sound rating.

That night he retired to sleep, accompanied by his _valet-de-chambre_, in his library, the door of which, as it was very hot weather, was left wide open. When the night was far advanced, the valet was awaked by a noise at his master's bed: and, opening his eyes, he saw, by the light of the moon, the attendant above-mentioned pass out of the door with something in his hand. Recognizing the man as one of the family, he thought nothing of the occurrence, but turned round and went to sleep again. Soon after, however, he was again aroused by the noise of footsteps tramping heavily across the room, and, looking up, he beheld a huge being with a red face and a long beard, very like the God of War,[227] carrying a man's head. Horribly frightened, he crawled under the bed, and then he heard sounds above him as of clothes being shaken out, and as if some one was being shampooed.[228] In a few moments, the boots tramped once more across the room and went away; and then he gradually put out his head, and, seeing the dawn beginning to peep through the window, he stretched out his hand to reach his clothes. These he found to be soaked through and through, and, on applying his hand to his nose, he smelt the smell of blood. He now called out loudly to his master, who jumped up at once; and, by the light of a candle, they saw that the bed clothes and pillows were alike steeped in blood. Just then some constables knocked at the door, and when Mr. Tung went out to see who it was, the constables
were all astonishment; "for," said they, "a few minutes ago a man rushed wildly up to our yamen, and said he had killed his master; and, as he himself was covered with blood, he was arrested, and turned out to be a servant of yours. He also declared that he had buried your head alongside the temple of the God of War; and when we went to look, there, indeed, was a freshly-dug hole, but the head was gone." Mr. Tung was amazed at all this story, and, on proceeding to the magistrate's yamen, he discovered that the man in charge was the attendant whom he had scolded the day before. Thereupon, the criminal was severely bambooed and released; and then Mr. Tung, who was unwilling to make an enemy of a man of this stamp, gave him the girl to wife. However, a few nights afterwards the people who lived next door to the newly-married couple heard a terrific crash in their house, and, rushing in to see what was the matter, found that husband and wife, and the bedstead as well, had been cut clean in two as if by a sword. The ways of the God are many, indeed, but few more extraordinary than this.[229]

FOOTNOTES:

[226] See No. XL., note 233, and No. XCIV., note 134.

[227] See No. I., note 39.

[228] See No. LXIX., note 38.

[229] It was the God of War who replaced Mr. Tung's head after it had actually been cut off and buried.

CXXI.

THE DEAD PRIEST.

A certain Taoist priest, overtaken in his wanderings by the shades of evening, sought refuge in a small Buddhist monastery. The monk's apartment was, however, locked; so he threw his mat down in the vestibule of the shrine, and seated himself upon it. In the middle of the night, when all was still, he heard a sound of some one opening the door behind him; and looking round, he saw a Buddhist priest, covered with blood from head to foot, who did not seem to notice that anybody else was present. Accordingly, he himself pretended not to be aware of what was going on; and then he saw the other priest enter the shrine, mount the altar, and remain there some time embracing Buddha's head, and laughing by turns. When morning came, he found the monk's room still locked; and, suspecting something was wrong, he walked to a neighbouring village, where he told the people what he had seen. Thereupon the villagers went back with him, and broke open the door, and there before them lay the priest weltering in his blood, having evidently been killed by robbers, who had stripped the place bare. Anxious now to find out what had made the disembodied spirit of the priest laugh in the way it had been seen to do, they proceeded to inspect the head of the Buddha on the altar; and, at the back of it, they noticed a small mark, scraping through which they discovered a sum of over thirty ounces of silver. This sum was forthwith used for defraying the funeral expenses of the murdered man.


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