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At the lower temple on Mount Lao the camellias are twenty feet in height, and many spans in circumference. The peonies are more than ten feet high; and when the flowers are in bloom the effect is that of a gorgeous tapestry.

There was a Mr. Huang, of Chiao-chow, who built himself a house at that spot, for the purpose of study; and one day he saw from his window a young lady dressed in white wandering about amongst the flowers. Reflecting that she could not possibly belong to the monastery, he went out to meet her, but she had already disappeared. After this he frequently observed her, and once hid himself in a thick-foliaged bush, waiting for her to come.

By-and-by she appeared, bringing with her another young lady dressed in red, who, as he noticed from his distant point of observation, was an exceedingly good-looking girl. When they approached nearer, the young lady in the red dress ran back, saying, “There is a man here!” whereupon Mr. Huang jumped out upon them, and away they went in a scare, with their skirts and long sleeves fluttering in the breeze, and perfuming the air round. Huang pursued them as far as a low wall, where they suddenly vanished from his gaze. In great distress at thus losing the fair creatures, he took a pencil and wrote upon a tree the following lines: –

The pangs of love my heart enthrall

As I stand opposite this wall.

I dread some hateful tyrant’s power,

With none to save you in that hour.

Returning home he was absorbed in his own thought, when all at once the young lady walked in, and he rose up joyfully to meet her. “I thought you were a brigand,” said his visitor, smiling; “you nearly frightened me to death. I did not know you were a great scholar whose acquaintance I now hope to have the honour of making.” Mr. Huang asked the young lady her name, &c., to which she replied, “My name is Hsiang-yu, and I belong to Ping-kang-hsiang; but a magician has condemned me to remain on this hill much against my own inclination.”

“Tell me his name,” cried Huang, “and I’ll soon set you free.”

“There is no need for that,” answered the young lady; “I suffer no injury from him, and the place is not an inconvenient one for making the acquaintance of such worthy gentlemen as yourself.” Huang then inquired who was the young lady in red, and she told him that her name was Chiang-hsueh, and that they were half-sisters; “and now,” added she, “I will sing you a song; but please don’t laugh at me.” She then began as follows: –

In pleasant company the hours fly fast,

And through the window daybreak peeps at last.

Ah, would that, like the swallow and his mate,

To live together were our happy fate.

Huang here grasped her hand and said, “Beauty without and intellect within – enough to make a man love you and forget all about death, only one day’s absence being like the separation of a thousand miles. I pray you come again whenever an opportunity may present itself.”

From this time the young lady would frequently walk in to have a chat, but would never bring her sister with her in spite of all Mr. Huang’s entreaties. Huang thought they weren’t friends, but Hsiang said her sister did not care for society in the same way that she herself did, promising at the same time to try and persuade her to come at some future day. One evening Hsiang-yu arrived in a melancholy frame of mind, and told Huang that he was wanting more when he couldn’t even keep what he had got; “for to-morrow,” said she, “we part.” Huang asked what she meant; and then, wiping away her tears with her sleeve, Hsiang-yu declared it was destiny, and that she couldn’t well tell him. “Your former prophecy,” continued she, “has come too true; and now it may well be said of me –

Fallen into the tyrant’s power,

With none to save me in that hour.”

2.

Huang again tried to question her, but she would tell him no- thing; and by-and-by she rose and took her leave. This seemed very strange; however, next day a visitor came, who, after wandering round the garden, was much taken with a white peony, which he dug up and carried away with him. Huang now awaked to the fact that Hsiang-yu was a flower nymph, and became very disconsolate in consequence of what had happened; but when he subsequently heard that the peony only lived a few days after being taken away, he wept bitterly, and composed an elegy in fifty stanzas, besides going daily to the hole from which it had been taken, and watering the ground with his tears.

One day, as he was returning thence, he espied the young lady of the red clothes also wiping away her tears alongside the hole, and immediately walked back gently towards her. She did not run away, and Huang, grasping her sleeve, joined with her in her lamentations. When these were concluded he invited her to his house, and then she burst out with a sigh, saying, “Alas! that the sister of my early years should be thus suddenly taken from me. Hearing you, Sir, mourn as you did, I have also been moved to tears. Those you shed have sunk down deep to the realms below, and may perhaps succeed in restoring her to us; but the sympathies of the dead are destroyed for ever, and how then can she laugh and talk with us again?”

“My luck is bad,” said Huang, “that I should injure those I love, neither can I have the good fortune to draw towards me another such a beauty. But tell me, when I often sent messages by Hsiang-yu to you, why did you not come?”

“I knew,” replied she, “what nine young fellows out of ten are; but I did not know what you were.” She then took leave, Huang telling her how dull he felt without Hsiang-yu, and begging her to come again.

For some days she did not appear; and Huang remained in a state of great melancholy, tossing and turning on his bed and wetting the pillow with his tears, until one night he got up, put on his clothes, and trimmed the lamp; and having called for pen and ink, he composed the following lines: –

On my cottage roof the evening rain-drops beat;

I draw the blind and near the window take my seat.

To my longing gaze no loved one appears;

Drip, drip, drip, drip: fast flow my tears.

This he read aloud; and when he had finished, a voice outside said, “You want some one to cap your verses there!” Listening attentively, he knew it was Chiang-hsueh; and opening the door he let her in. She looked at his stanza, and added impromptu –

She is no longer in the room;

A single lamp relieves the gloom;

One solitary man is there;

He and his shadow make a pair.

As Huang read these words his tears fell fast; and then, turning to Chiang-hsueh, he upbraided her for not having been to see him. “I can’t come so often as Hsiang-yu did,” replied she, “but only now and then when you are very dull.”

After this she used to drop in occasionally, and Huang said Hsiang-yu was his beloved wife, and she his dear friend, always trying to find out every time she came which flower in the garden she was, that he might bring her home with him, and save her from the fate of Hsiang-yu. “The old earth should not be disturbed,” said she, “and it would not do any good to tell you. If you couldn’t keep your wife always with you, how will you be sure of keeping a friend?” Huang, however, paid no heed to this, and seizing her arm, led her out into the garden, where he stopped at every peony and asked if this was the one; to which Chiang-hsueh made no reply, but only put her hand to her mouth and laughed merrily.

At New Year’s time Huang went home, and a couple of months afterwards he dreamt that Chiang-hsueh came to tell him she was in great trouble, begging him to hurry off as soon as possible to her rescue. When he woke up, he thought his dream a very strange one; and ordering his servant and horses to be ready, started at once for the hills. There he found that the priests were about to build a new room; and finding a camellia in the way, the con- tractor had given orders that it should be cut down. Huang now understood his dream, and immediately took steps to prevent the destruction of the flower.

That night, Chiang-hsueh came to thank him, and Huang laughed and said, “It serves you right for not telling me which you were. Now I know you, and if you don’t come and see me, I’ll get a firebrand and make it hot for you.”

3.

“That’s just why I didn’t tell you before,” replied she.

“The presence of my dear friend,” said Huang, after a pause, “makes me think more of my lost wife. It is long since I have mourned for her. Shall we go and bemoan her loss together?” So they went off and shed many a tear on the spot where formerly Hsiang-yu had stood, until at last Chiang-hsueh wiped her eyes and said it was time to go.

A few evenings later Huang was sitting alone, when suddenly Chiang-hsueh entered, her face radiant with smiles. “Good news!” cried she, “the Flower-God, moved by your tears, has granted Hsiang-yu a return to life. Huang was overjoyed, and asked when she would come; to which Chiang-hsueh replied, that she could not say for certain, but that it would not be long.

“I came here on your account,” said Huang; “don’t let me be duller than you can help.”

“All right,” answered she, and then went away, not returning for the next two evenings.

Huang then went into the garden and threw his arms around her plant, entreating her to come and see him, though without eliciting any response. He accordingly went back, and began twisting up a torch, when all at once in she came, and snatching the torch out of his hand, threw it away, saying, “You’re a bad fellow, and I don’t like you, and I shan’t have any more to do with you.” However, Huang soon succeeded in pacifying her, and by-and-by in walked Hsiang-yu herself. Huang now wept tears of joy as he seized her hand, and drawing Chiang-hsueh towards them, the three friends mingled their tears together.

They then sat down and talked over the miseries of separation, Huang meanwhile noticing that Hsiang-yu seemed to be unsubstantial, and that when he grasped her hand his fingers seemed to close only on themselves, and not as in the days gone by. This Hsiang-yu explained, saying, “When I was a flower-nymph I had a body; but now I am only the disembodied spirit of that flower. Do not regard me as a reality, but rather as an apparition seen in a dream.”

“You have come at the nick of time,” cried Chiang-hsueh; “your husband there was just getting troublesome.” Hsiang-yu now instructed Huang to take a little powdered white-berry, and mixing it with some sulphur, to pour out a libation to her, adding, “This day next year I will return your kindness.”

The young ladies then went away, and next day Huang observed the shoots of a young peony growing up where Hsiang-yu had once stood. So he made the libation as she had told him, and had the plant very carefully tended, even building a fence all round to protect it. Hsiang-yu came to thank him for this, and he proposed that the plant should be removed to his own home; but to this she would not agree, “for,” said she, “I am not very strong, and could not stand being transplanted. Besides, all things have their appointed place; and as I was not originally intended for your home, it might shorten my life to be sent there. We can love each other very well here.” Huang then asked why Chiang-hsueh did not come; to which Hsiang-yu replied that they must make her, and proceeded with him into the garden, where, after picking a blade of grass, she measured upwards from the roots of Chiang-hsueh’s plant to a distance of four feet six inches, at which point she stopped, and Huang began to scratch a mark on the place with his nails.

At that moment Chiang-hsueh came from behind the plant, and in mock anger cried out, “You hussy you! what do you aid that wretch for ?”

“Don’t be angry, my dear,” said Hsiang-yu; “help me to amuse him for a year only, and then you shan’t be bothered any more.” So they went on, Huang watching the plant thrive, until by the spring it was over two feet in height. He then went home, giving the priests a handsome present, and bidding them take great care of it.

Next year, in the fourth moon, he returned and found upon the plant a bud just ready to break; and as he was walking round, the stem shook violently as if it would snap, and suddenly the bud opened into a flower as large as a plate, disclosing a beautiful maiden within, sitting upon one of the pistils, and only a few inches in height. In the twinkling of an eye she had jumped out, and lo! it was Hsiang-yu. “Through the wind and the rain I have waited for you,” cried she; “why have you come so late?” They then went into the house, where they found Chiang-hsueh already arrived, and sat down to enjoy themselves as they had done in former times.

Shortly afterwards Huang’s wife died, and he took up his abode at Mount Lao for good and all. The peonies were at that time as large as one’s arm; and whenever Huang went to look at them, he always said, “Some day my spirit will be there by your side;” to which the two girls used to reply with a laugh, and say, “Mind you don’t forget.”

Ten years after these events, Huang became dangerously ill, and his son, who had come to see him, was very much distressed about him. “I am about to be born,” cried his father; “I am not going to die. Why do you weep?” He also told the priests that if later on they should see a red shoot, with five leaves, thrusting itself forth alongside of the peony, that would be himself. This was all he said, and his son proceeded to convey him home, where he died immediately on arrival.

Next year a shoot did come up exactly as he had mentioned; and the priests, struck by the coincidence, watered it and supplied it with earth. In three years it was a tall plant, and a good span in circumference, but without flowers. When the old priest died, the others took no care of it; and as it did not flower they cut it down. The white peony then faded and died; and before long the camellia was dead too.

The End

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In the northern parts of Tzu-chou there lived a man named Hsu, 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. Hsu offered him a cup of wine, which was readily accepted, and they remained chatting together throughout the night, Hsu mean- while 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 Hsu, which he accordingly did, returning in a few minutes and warning him to be on the lookout. Hsu now heard a noise like that of a shoal coming up the stream, and, casting his net, made a splendid haul, — all that he caught being over a foot in length.

Greatly delighted, he now prepared to go home, first offering his companion a share of the fish, which the latter declined, saying that he had often received kindnesses from Mr. Hsu, and that he would be only too happy to help him regularly in the same manner if Mr. Hsu would accept his assistance. The latter replied that he did not recollect ever meeting him before, and that he should be much obliged for any aid the young man might choose to afford him; regretting, at the same time, his inability to make him any adequate return. He then asked the young man his name and surname; and the young man said his surname was Wang, adding that Hsu might address him when they met as Wang Liu-lang, he having no other name. Thereupon they parted, and the next day Hsu sold his fish and bought some more wine, with which he repaired as usual to the riverbank. There he found his companion already awaiting him, and they spent the night together in precisely the same way as the preceding one, the young man beating up the fish for him as before.

This went on for some months, until at length one evening the young man, with many expressions of his thanks and his regrets, told Hsu that they were about to part for ever. Much alarmed by the melancholy tone in which his friend had communicated this news, Hsu was on the point of asking for an explanation, when the young man stopped him, and himself proceeded as follows : — “The friendship that has grown up between us is truly surprising; and, now that we shall meet no more, there is no harm in telling you the whole truth. I am a disembodied spirit — the soul of one who was drowned in this river when tipsy. I have been here many years, and your former success in fishing was due to the fact that I used secretly to beat up the fish towards you, in return for the libations you were accustomed to pour out. Tomorrow my time is up : my substitute will arrive, and I shall be born again in the world of mortals. We have but this one evening left, and I therefore take advantage of it to express my feelings to you.”

On hearing these words, Hsu was at first very much alarmed; however, he had grown so accustomed to his friend’s society, that his fears soon passed away; and, filling up a goblet, he said, with a sigh, “Liu-lang, old fellow, drink this up, and away with melancholy. It’s hard to lose you; but I’m glad enough for your sake, and won’t think of my own sorrow.” He then inquired of Liu-lang who was to be his substitute; to which the latter replied, “Come to the riverbank tomorrow afternoon and you’ll see a woman drowned : she is the one.” Just then the village cocks began to crow, and, with tears in their eyes, the two friends bade each other farewell.

Next day Hsu waited on the riverbank to see if anything would happen, and a woman carrying a child in her arms came along. When close to the edge of the river, she stumbled and fell into the water, managing, however, to throw the child safely on to the bank, where it lay kicking and sprawling and crying at the top of its voice. The woman herself sank and rose several times, until at last she succeeded in clutching hold of the bank and pulled herself, dripping, out; and then, after resting awhile, she picked up the child and went on her way.

All this time Hsu had been in a great state of excitement, and was on the point of running to help the woman out of the water; but he remembered that she was to be the substitute of his friend, and accordingly restrained himself from doing so. Then when he saw the woman get out by herself, he began to suspect that Liu-lang’s words had not been fulfilled.

That night he went to fish as usual, and before long the young man arrived and said, “We meet once again: there is no need now to speak of separation.” Hsu asked him how it was so; to which he replied, “The woman you saw had already taken my place, but I could not bear to hear the child cry, and I saw that my one life would be purchased at the expense of their two lives, where- fore I let her go, and now I cannot say when I shall have another chance. The union of our destinies may not yet be worked out.”

“Alas!” sighed Hsu, “this noble conduct of yours is enough to move God Almighty.”

After this the two friends went on much as they had done before, until one day Liu-lang again said he had come to bid Hsu farewell. Hsu thought he had found another substitute, but Liu-lang told him that his former behavior had so pleased Almighty Heaven, that he had been appointed guardian angel of Wu-chen, in the Chao-yuan district, and that on the following morning he would start for his new post. “And if you do not forget the days of our friendship,” added he, “I pray you come and see me, in spite of the long journey.”

“Truly,” replied Hsu, “you well deserved to be made a God; but the paths of Gods and men lie in different directions, and even if the distance were nothing, how should I manage to meet you again?”

“Don’t be afraid on that score,” said Liu-lang, “but come;” and then he went away, and Hsu returned home. The latter immediately began to prepare for the journey, which caused his wife to laugh at him and say, “Supposing you do find such a place at the end of that long journey, you won’t be able to hold a conversation with a clay image.” Hsu, however, paid no attention to her remarks, and travelled straight to Chao-yuan, where he learned from the inhabitants that there really was a village called Wu-chen, whither he forthwith proceeded and took up his abode at an inn.

He then inquired of the landlord where the village temple was; to which the latter replied by asking him somewhat hurriedly if he was speaking to Mr. Hsu. Hsu informed him that his name was Hsu, asking in reply how he came to know it; whereupon the landlord further inquired if his native place was not Tzu-chou. Hsu told him it was, and again asked him how he knew all this; to which the landlord made no answer, but rushed out of the room. Soon the place was crowded with old and young, men, women, and children, all come to visit Hsu. They then told him that a few nights before they had seen their guardian deity in a vision, and he had informed them that Mr. Hsu would shortly arrive, and had bidden them to provide him with traveling expenses.

Hsu was very much astonished at this, and went off at once to the shrine, where he invoked his friend as follows : – “Ever since we parted I have had you daily and nightly in my thoughts; and now that I have fulfilled my promise of coming to see you, I have to thank you for the orders you have issued to the people of the place. As for me, I have nothing to offer you but a cup of wine, which I pray you accept as though we were drinking together on the river-bank.” He then burnt a quantity of paper money, when a wind suddenly arose, which, after whirling round and round behind the shrine, soon dropped, and all was still.

That night Hsu dreamed that his friend came to him, dressed in his official cap and robes, and very different in appearance from what he used to be, and thanked him, saying, “It is truly kind of you to visit me thus: I only regret that my position makes me unable to meet you face to face, and that though near we are still so far. The people here will give you a trifle, which pray accept for my sake; and when you go away, I will see you a short way on your journey.”

A few days afterwards Hsu prepared to start, in spite of the numerous invitations to stay which poured in upon him from all sides; and then the inhabitants loaded him with presents of all kinds, and escorted him out of the village. There a whirlwind arose and accompanied him several miles, when he turned round and invoked his friend thus : – “Liu-lang, take care of your valued person. Do not trouble yourself to come any farther. Your noble heart will ensure happiness to this district, and there is no occasion for me to give a word of advice to my old friend.” By-and-by the whirlwind ceased, and the villagers, who were much astonished, returned to their own homes.

Hsu, too, traveled homewards, and being now a man of some means, ceased to work any more as a fisherman. And whenever he met a Chao-yuan man he would ask him about that guardian angel, being always informed in reply that he was a most beneficent God. Some say the place was Shih-keng-chuang, in Chang-chin : I can’t really vouch for it.

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Bruno-Endpiece

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When we two argued

Sense was already lost;

To words thrown offhand

With cliches I reposte.

Eyes pale fire with ire spew’d,

Not peace I sought here-

But word for word nothing gained

Than we no more friends are.

Original Version:

When we two parted

In silence and tears,

Half broken-hearted

To sever for years,

Pale grew thy cheek and cold,

Colder thy kiss;

Truly that hour foretold

Sorrow to this.

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Now for the Story:

THE AMAZING PIPI-LIPPI-PI ©
Name of the author: Benny Thomas

Long long ago there was an old farmer. One day he called his only son and said, ”Our farm is gone. I can no longer take care of you.”
Otto, his son was sad. His father hated to see tears in his son’s eyes. So he brought a bird from inside and said, “Go, take this bird along with you. Try your luck elsewhere!”
Young Otto asked his father if he could have some cash instead. He shook his head and said,” No son, I haven’t a cent to spare.”
So Otto went off with a bird. A bird with a strange name. Pipi-Lippi-Pi.
He walked a good length with his bird and wondered if he could make some money by selling him. Otto found no bird ever surpassed Pipi in appearance. His plumage was more colorful than that of a rainbow. His tail was as long as the tail of a comet. His comb was far magnificent than that of a rooster. Neither was his long neck any less grand. It was as graceful as that of a swan but speckled. He pecked at grains with his golden beak. His eyes were rubies of rare quality. In short in splendor no bird was a match for him.
Pipi-Lippi-Pi was almost perfect. “ But can you make my fortune?” Otto wondered loud,” It is money that I need now!” He began to feel hungry and he went around asking folks if he could find a buyer for his bird. “ No, you can’t!” one said,” If it could fly I might have bought it myself.” A little later another said,” Your bird is of no use. It can’t speak.” Otto was very sad that Pipi-Lippi-Pi was not perfect enough to feed him.
The boy led the bird along through villages and towns. Much as he tried to sell him he had no luck. At the market place of one town one fellow who was of his age said, ”You will never sell him the way you are going about it.”He added,”I shall teach you free.” Otto thought he found a true friend at last. Next day his friend whose name was Light Fingers said how to make some easy money. “Without money in your pocket you cannot sell a bird such as Pipi- Lippi-Pi.”
That night Otto went with the bird to a park bench. Before he slept the bird startled him by speaking. “ Be careful of Light Fingers.” Otto was stunned.
“But Light Fingers is my friend!” Otto protested, ”He himself said so.” The bird was sure no true friend would ever want his friend to get into trouble. The bird said nothing more.
Otto thought over the warning. Thinking it over and over he thought the bird was right. So he gave slip that very night to Light Fingers. On the way they came by a lion tamer that went along with a lion. King Zappo offered to teach the bird all the tricks. “Without tricks, no crowd. No crowd, no money!” Zappo cajoled the boy to let the bird keep company with his Leo. He assured the awkward bird would improve from example. Otto thought it was a good offer. The bird warned him,” Did you see how Leo is reduced to eat straw?”
”Isn’t that a trick?”
“If that is a trick worth teaching a lion I am an elephant!” Otto thought the bird was right.
The bird on reaching the Big City told him thus, “I feel sorry for you. So trusting, especially those whom you ought to be careful about.” Otto did not mind some plain speaking. ‘That is what friends for.’ he knew.
A few days later Pipi-Lippi-Pi explained why he felt friendly towards him. “Since the time we began this trip, you took care of me first before you attended to your own needs.” Pipi-Lippi-Pi was certain that Otto was his friend.
Pippi told him how to make a tidy sum. He urged him to meet the mayor of the city. He went directly to the Town Hall. He asked the worshipful mayor for a large area for putting up a show. The mayor naturally raised objections but Pipi had rehearsed with him how he should deal with the mayor, and he did accordingly. Otto spoke well and the worshipful mayor in the end gave him a stadium for his use.
The mayor gave such a publicity that everyone in the city wanted to see the show.
As a result Otto collected a great sum in advance.
On the appointed day the whole city had turned up. Those sponsors who had paid millions saw the bird strut like a barnyard fowl and became angry. “What publicity is this? We want our money back!”
Otto coaxed them, ”Wait till the end.” Then he went back stage and whispered to the bird, ”My reputation is now in your hands. What will you do?”
The bird laughed again.
When his turn came to perform the bird ran a few paces and to the amazement of all, took to air and spread his wings. He flapped his wings till feathers fell like leaves of trees in a storm. These wrote as if by magic, the names of the products of sponsors.
Such a sky writing none had ever seen! The mayor gasped in wonder; so did the sponsors who knew their products got wide publicity. Otto became rich beyond his dreams. He asked the bird, ”I never knew you could fly!”
“Yes, that is what I also thought!”
Otto and Pipi went back to the farm. His father could not believe. But when he got his farm back he realized he owed all to Pipi-Lippi-Pi who remained by the side of Otto for life. A true friend.
THE END

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These days have been trying for me. A good friend of mine of some 50 years standing lost his only son. He was 38 years and suffered from autism, – a severe case at that,and was put in a group home which he seemed to like. Weekends he would come home and splurge on things he had a yen for. I know how his disability put demands on the entire family and my friend was life long concerned for his well being. He is devastated and in this it has affected me as well. I know he shall pull through from his bereavement but till he is able to give a place in his heart for the loss he will have to deal with it as a father losing his only son. Love means the ability to suffer and if it is a good thing or bad thing I do not know. It is a sign of our strength and also our humanity that we are not proof to shocks and taunts of our mortality. Friendship also is bare and vulnerable.
benny

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