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مُساهمةموضوع: قصة ممتعة الملك   الإثنين 8 مارس 2010 - 15:28




The King


A certain governor of Hu-nan despatched a magistrate to the
capital in charge of treasure to the amount of six hundred thou-
sand ounces of silver. On the road the magistrate encountered a
violent storm of rain, which so delayed him that night came on
before he was able to reach the next station. He therefore took
refuge in an old temple; but when morning came, he was horrified to find that the treasure had disappeared. Unable to fix the guilt on any one, he returned forthwith to the Governor and told
him the whole story. The latter, however, refused to believe what
the magistrate said, and would have had him severely punished,
but that each and all of his attendants stoutly corroborated his
statements; and accordingly he bade him return and endeavor to find the missing silver.

When the magistrate got back to the temple, he met an extraordinary-looking blind man, who informed him that he could
read people's thoughts, and further went on to say that the magistrate had come
there on a matter of money. The latter replied that it was
so, and recounted the misfortune that had overtaken him;
whereupon the blind man called for sedan-chairs, and told
the magistrate to follow and see for himself, which he accordingly did, accompanied by all his retinue.
If the blind man said east, they went east; or if north, north;
journeying along for five days until far among the hills, where
they beheld a large city with a great number of inhabitants. They
entered the gates and proceeded on for a short distance, when
suddenly the blind man cried "Stop!" and, alighting from his
chair, pointed to a lofty door facing the west, at which he told the
magistrate to knock and make what inquiries were necessary. He
then bowed and took his leave, and the magistrate obeyed his
instructions, whereupon a man came out in reply to his summons.
He was dressed in the fashion of the Han dynasty, and did not
say what his name was; but as soon as the magistrate informed
him wherefore he had come, he replied that if the latter would
wait a few days he himself would assist him in the matter. The
man then conducted the magistrate within, and giving him a
room to himself, provided him regularly with food and drink.
One day he chanced to stroll away to the back of the building,
and there found a beautiful garden with dense avenues of pine-
trees and smooth lawns of fine grass. After wandering about for
some time among the arbours and ornamental buildings, the
magistrate came to a lofty kiosque, and mounted the steps, when
he saw hanging on the wall before him a number of human skins,
each with its eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and heart. Horrified at this,
he beat a hasty retreat to his quarters, convinced that he was
about to leave his own skin in this out-of-the-way place, and
giving himself up for lost. He reflected, however, that he should
probably gain nothing by trying to escape, and made up his mind
to wait; and on the following day the same man came to fetch
him, saying he could now have an audience. The magistrate
replied that he was ready; and his conductor then mounted a fiery
steed, leaving the other to follow on foot.

By-and-by they reached a door like that leading into a
Viceroy's yamen, where stood on either side crowds of official
servants, preserving the utmost silence and decorum. The man here
dismounted and led the magistrate inside; and after passing through
another door they came into the presence of a king, who wore a cap
decorated with pearls, and an embroidered sash, and sat facing the
south. The magistrate rushed forward and prostrated himself on the
ground; upon which the king asked him if he was the Hu-nan official who
had been charged with the conveyance of treasure. On his answering in
the affirmative, the king said, "The money is all here; it's a mere
trifle, but I have no objection to receiving it as a present from the
Governor." The magistrate here burst into tears, and declared that his
term of grace had already expired: that he would be punished if he went
back thus, especially as he would have no evidence to adduce in
substantiation of his story. "That is easy enough," replied the king, and put into his hands a thick letter, which he bade him give to the Governor, assuring him that this would prevent him from getting into any trouble. He also provided him with an escort; and the magistrate, who dared not argue the point further, sorrowfully accepted the letter and took his departure.

The road he traveled along was not that by which he had
come; and when the hills ended, his escort left him and went
back. In a few days more he reached Chang-sha, and respectfully
informed the Governor of what had taken place; but the Governor
thought he was telling more lies, and in a great rage bade the
attendants bind him hand and foot. The magistrate then drew the
letter forth from his coat; and when the Governor broke the seal
and saw its contents, his face turned deadly pale. He gave orders
for the magistrate to be unbound, remarking that the loss of the
treasure was of no importance, and that the magistrate was free
to go. Instructions were next issued that the amount was to be
made up in some way or other and forwarded to the capital; and
meanwhile the Governor fell sick and died.

Now this Governor had had a wife of whom he was dotingly
fond; and one morning when they waked up, lo! all her hair
was gone. The whole establishment was in dismay, no one
knowing what to make of such an occurrence. But the letter
above- mentioned contained that hair, accompanied by the
following words: - "Ever since you first entered into public
life your career has been one of peculation and avarice. The six hundred
thousand ounces of silver are safely stored in my treasury. Make
good this sum from your own accumulated extortions. The
officer you charged with the treasure is innocent; he must not be
wrongly punished. On a former occasion I took your wife's hair
as a gentle warning. If now you disobey my injunctions, it will
not be long before I have your head. Herewith I return the hair as
an evidence of what I say." When the Governor was dead, his
family divulged the contents of the letter; and some of his sub-
ordinates sent men to search for the city, but they only found
range upon range of inaccessible mountains, with nothing like a road or path.

End



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