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appearance of moisture presently vanished. The lady upon this gaily thanked her benefactor, and, taking a silver bodkin from her hair, presented it to him with her fan, begging he would accept the same as a small mark of her gratitude. Chuâng-tsze declined the bodkin, but kept the fan, and the lady retired much satisfied with her adventure.
As for the philosopher, he remained altogether in astonishment; then abandoning himself to the reflections that naturally arose out of such an incident, he returned towards his home. Once seated in his chamber, he regarded the fan for some moments in silence, and presently broke out with such sentences as the following: “Would not one suppose, from this, that when two persons marry, it is only from some hate conceived in a former state of existence; and that they seek each other in wedlock solely for purposes of mutual torment?”— His wife had crept behind him without being perceived, but on hearing his words she came forward. “Might one know," she asked, “the cause of your sighing, and where it was you obtained that fan which you hold in your hand ?” — Chuâng-tsze immediately related to his spouse the history of the young widow, as well as all that had passed at the tomb where he fell in with her.
Hardly had he finished his recital, when this lady, with a face that beamed with wrath and indignation, loaded the young widow with a thousand maledictions, calling her the opprobrium of the human race, and the shame of her own -sex! Then, looking at her husband, “I say it again,” exclaimed she, “ this woman must be a monster of insensibility.” The philosopher, however, went on with the following reflections :—“While her husband is alive, where is the wife that does not flatter and praise him? Is he dead ? see her ready to take her fan and dry up his tomb with all haste. So in a picture you see an animal's exterior, but not the inner parts; you see the face, but not the heart.” This put his wife into a great passion. “How can you talk to me in that style?" cried she, “ thus to condemn the whole sex in a heap; thus unjustly to confound the virtuous with wretches who are unfit to live! Are you not ashamed to pass such an unjust sentence; and have you no fear of being punished for it hereafter ?”
“ To what purpose are all these ejaculations ?” said the philosopher calmly; " but confess the truth ;-were I to die to-day, surviving me as you would in the flower of your age, with so much beauty and such attractions, do you pretend that you would allow three years to slip by without accepting another husband ?”*_" Is it not the maxim," rejoined the lady, “ that a faithful minister never serves another prince ; † that a virtuous widow never thinks of a second husband ? Did one ever see a woman of my condition, who, after being once married, transferred herself to another family, and deserted her nuptial bed on her husband's first decease! If, for my misfortune, you were to reduce me to the widowed state, know that I should be incapable of such an act, which would be the disgrace of our whole sex; nay, I should not even dream of marriage for the rest of my life.”
6 Such promises," observed he, “ are easily made, but not often kept !” an observation which turned the ill-humour of his wife upon himself.—“ Know," cried she, 6 that women have often minds more noble and more constant than men of your stamp. What a perfect model of fidelity have you been! Your first wife dead, you took a second; her you repudiate, and marry myself, who am your third. You judge of others by yourself. As for us women who marry philosophers, we are much less at liberty than any others to form a second marriage. But you are quite well in health ; why then torment me with such remarks ?” So saying, she snatched the fan out of her husband's hand, and tore it into twenty pieces. “Be quiet,” said the philosopher ; “your resentment gives me pleasure, and I am delighted to see you take fire upon such a subject.” The lady became calm, and they talked of other matters.
* The longest period of mourning.
of Certain it is that in practice a new Emperor of China often repudiates his father's favourite ministers. Thus Keying was disgraced by the present sovereign.
In a few days more Chuâng-tsze became dangerously ill, and, to all appearances, at the very last extremity. His wife never quitted the bedside, where she sat bathed in tears, and continually sobbing. “From what I can see,” said the philosopher, “I shall hardly recover from this attack. To-night or to-morrow morning we must part for ever. Alas, that you should have torn up the fan I brought you ; it would have served so well to dry up the earth at my tomb!”_" Ah," exclaimed his wife, “ do not, in your present state, let such distressing suspicions enter your mind ; suspicions, too, so injurious to myself! I have studied our books, and I know what our rites demand. My faith having been once sworn to yourself, it shall never be transferred to another; and if you doubt my sincerity, I consent, nay, I demand, to die before you, in order that you may be persuaded of my truth.”_" That is enough,” replied he; “I feel assured of your constancy: but, alas! I find myself dying, and my eyes are closing for ever upon you." So saying, he became breathless, and lay without a symptom of life.
The despairing widow, with loud cries of distress, now
embraced the body of her deceased husband, and held it long locked within her arms. She then dressed herself in a long mourning habit, and made the neighbourhood resound with the expressions of her grief and desolation. Şhe would indulge neither in food nor sleep, and, in short, seemed to be at her wits' end. The neighbours presently came to do honour to the remains of the deceased, whom they knew to be a sage of the first rank. As soon as the crowd began to withdraw, a youth was perceived, of fair exterior and an elegant habit, who gave himself out to be descended from the sovereigns of that particular state. “ It is some years,” said he, “ since I announced to the philosopher Chuâng-tsze my intention of becoming his disciple. I came hither with that express design, and now find, alas, that he is dead! What a loss have I sustained !"
He now discarded his coloured clothes, and put on a habit of mourning; then prostrating himself before the coffin of the departed, he touched the earth four times with his forehead, and exclaimed with a voice broken by sobs, “ Wise and learned sage, your disciple grieves that he can no longer profit by your lessons; but he may at least mark his attachment and respect by remaining here a hundred days to mourn for you.” He then renewed his prostrations, and watered the earth with his tears. After this, he desired to see the lady, that he might make her his compliments; but she sent several excuses. The youth, however, represented that, according to the ancient rites, a woman might allow herself to be seen by the former friends of her husband. “I have,” added he, “ an additional title to this privilege, since I am here as the disciple of the departed sage.” At these pressing instances the widow could not do otherwise than allow herself to be persuaded. She therefore issued from
her chamber, and proceeded with slow steps into the hall, to receive her guest's compliments of condolence, which were few, and made in the usual terms.
When, however, the lady had observed the elegant manners, the wit, and the other numerous attractions of this young gentleman, she was altogether charmed, and began to feel all the symptoms of a rising passion, which she durst not yet confess to herself, but which led her nevertheless to hope that the young man would not very soon quit the neighbourhood. He, on the other hand, anticipated her by saying, “Since I have had the misfortune to lose my master, whose memory must be ever dear to me, it is my wish to seek a temporary abode here, wherein to spend the hundred days of mourning; after which I may assist at the funeral ceremonies. At the same time I may take occasion to peruse the works of this illustrious philosopher : they will in some measure supply the want of those lessons of which I have been robbed by his death.”—“ It will be an honour to our house,” replied the lady; “ and I can see no objection to it.” So saying, she ordered a slight repast to be served up, and at the saine time caused to be laid out, on a commodious table, the compositions of the philosopher, to which was added a copy of the celebrated Taou-těking, which had been a present from Laou-keun himself, the master sage. The youth received the whole of these with the politeness natural to him, and the respect due to the deceased..
On one side of the hall, where the coffin was laid out, were two chambers which opened into it: these were destined for the accommodation of the young stranger. The widow came frequently to the hall to weep over the remains of her husband, and, on retiring, never failed to say something civil to the youth, who always presented